Saturday, November 19, 2011

Visiting the White House

I've been very lax in my postings. Though I could blame the pregnancy or my work schedule, I won't. I'll just mention them and hope that you take pity on me.

Anyway, I'm catching up and had to post about this fantastic visit to the White House Gardens!! It's kind of getting embarrassing how often Adam and I have been near President Obama. First, we saw him leaving the Lincoln Memorial on Cherry Blossom weekend; then when Adam and I were waiting at the Kennedy Center for Les Miserables, a helicopter flew over head and that had to be Obama, of course; and, finally, we get to visit the White House on 10/15 and no security guard could say definitively that Obama wasn't there. I mean, I get that destiny is trying to throw us together, but I think destiny is working a bit hard. Let's just relax, and it'll happen.  :)

Anyway, back to the story. Adam's parents had come up to visit for the weekend. On Friday, we went to the Green Valley Book Fair (which was awesome! great deals!!) and out to eat. On Saturday, I had to work at the Arboretum in the morning, but we planned to perhaps go to a pumpkin farm and maybe explore a cave near Harrisonburg. However, on Friday night, my wonderful, well-connected friend, Jen Beil, called to say that she had extra tickets for the White House Garden tour! If we could get them from her house, we could be on the White House grounds! Needless to say, we jumped at the chance.

I still worked a few hours at the Arboretum but got to leave early (all of my coworkers were excited for us). Then we packed some lunches, hopped in the car, and started the drive. About halfway through the drive, my mother-in-law realized she forgot her ID (which Jen had said we would need) but we didn't have time to turn around to get it. So a lot of our trip was spent plotting ways to sneak her into the White House grounds and/or convince the guards that she wasn't really a threat to national security. Should I be writing this on a public blog? C'mon, national security peeps, my m-i-l is the sweetest person in the world and, even though she speaks Portuguese quite fluently, I'll personally vouch for her!  :)

We arrived in D.C., got on the metro, got to Union Station, took a shaky cab ride to Beil's place (I think the left rear tire was just an visual illusion on that car and served no fundamental least that's what it sounded like), picked up the tickets, and got to the White House about 20 minutes before our scheduled tour! Right on! As it turned out, we didn't have to show IDs! (When people picked up tickets, they had to bring identification but, because our tickets were courtesy of a bunch of tickets sent to workers at Congress, we didn't have to follow that initial protocol. And, just in case someone unsavory is reading this, we did still have to be scanned, don't get any ideas that White House security is lax. It isn't!!)

Here's what we saw:

Roger and Teddy in front of  a Dept of Treasury building

Entering White House grounds!

Adam's favorite picture...but, hey, I wanted a drink at the White House!

Jacqueline Kennedy planned this section of the gardens.

The Obamas! (Ok--this is a picture of a picture of them....still, it looks pretty good, eh?)

If you are hopeful enough, it almost seems like someone could be looking out of this window at you!

Some beautiful plantings...

My favorite picture of the day: Hubby, White House, Roll Tide!!

This looked like a peaceful spot for a glass of lemonade or to solve a nuclear crisis.

The Rose Garden (strangely devoid of a whole bunch of roses), where presidents sometimes have press conferences. It's right next to the Oval Office for that reason.

Adam and Teddy looking at the Oval Office and the Rose Garden.

Goodness, I look a little pregnant.  :)

This is a picture peering into the Oval Office. Look closely....there's a picture of Lincoln there!! How cool!

I figured, security is taking pictures of me; I'll take pictures of them!

Oval office...there's a light on!

Obama can see Malia and Sasha's playground from the Oval Office. How sweet! :)
Also, a little toddler broke away from his mom and ran up to the swingset; the guards weren't mean, 
but the toddler was distraught that he couldn't play there. So cute.

Starting to leave the grounds.

Eagle on the gate

We had a wonderful time at the White House gardens, but did have to rest up a bit that evening. Roger and Teddy left on Sunday, but we're so glad we were able to share this experience with them!

Les Miserables

(A much-delayed post....but enjoy!)

Adam is a freak for Les Miserables. He's read the book (the only Hugo I managed to slog through was The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and he has seen the musical in Nashville (twice), Huntsville, and London. So, when we heard that the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis was playing at the Kennedy Center in D.C., we jumped at the chance to go. In preparation, we watched the PBS 25th anniversary concert on tv, so Adam would have an excuse to sing Les Mis music all day every day I could learn the music.

Our tickets were for the afternoon performance in early October. There were two potential problems: One, we didn't know the time the Bama game would be played that day when we bought the tickets (luckily, it was a night game! so we made it home in time!) and, two, my pregnancy had been causing me nausea pretty much 24-7 and I didn't think throwing up in the Kennedy Center would be all that classy. By chance, about a week before we went, my nausea had reduced to just happening in the evenings. Yay!

So, on October 8th, we dressed up, drove to DC, parked at the Kennedy Center, and explored a little bit.

Two of my ChiO sisters and fellow Hanover College alums met us at the Kennedy Center Cafe for lunch. It was so wonderful to see Jen and Lauren, and to catch up on all that was happening. Sadly, we were chatting so much that I forgot to take a picture! After a surprisingly delicious lunch, Adam and I went into the Opera Center. We got there just a few minutes before the production started, but didn't take pictures per Opera Center's request. It was BEAUTIFUL, though! And our seats were excellent; we had our own row of two seats, so I could sit on the end, ready to jump to the bathroom if it was necessary, without worrying about disturbing anyone.

The production was absolutely enchanting. The actor who played Jean Valjean had a magnificent voice, and, really, all of the cast members were superb. My one small complaint was that I didn't think the actress who played Fantine was quite as great as Susan Boyle during "I Dreamed a Dream." (Fantine seemed to go a bit fast and cut short some of those long notes.) However, I still had a few tears there and for several songs, and I know I just can't blame the pregnancy!

It was a brilliant afternoon, and I'm so glad I was able to share this production with my husband. I'll leave you with some powerful words and, if you're like Adam, you've already been singing the whole time you were reading my post, so just go and figure out a time to see Les Mis in person sometime!

"Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!"