I hadn't been on an airplane since high school and so I was kind of like a little kid sitting in the window seat totally enjoying the view. The sky is amazing!
This is my handsome dad. He grew up back east in Maryland and we spent a day driving around to all of his old stomping grounds along with his brothers and sister. It was an incredibly funny day full of memories and laughter. I'm so glad we all crammed in one car to drive around.
So Virginia and Maryland have squirrels! We were all kind of obsessed with them.
This was my first time seeing my Grandma Day in Arlington. I shared a tender moment with my dad and was just so overwhelmed with gratitude for my knowledge of eternal families. And I felt such a strong feeling of patriotism seeing the fields of white headstones.
Most of the fall leaves had fallen but a few trees still showed a glimpse of what autumn must truly look like.
When I knew we were headed east, I wanted to do a session in the DC Temple. Well we decided that a session was going to be too much so we did sealings instead. It just so happened to be the 10th anniversary of when Ben and I were sealed together. I had a very special experience within those sacred walls.
As we were getting ready to leave the temple grounds, we noticed a FOX! Just strolling through the trees wrapped in Christmas lights. Needless to say, I was stupid excited about it and tried to take as many pictures as quietly as possible, before it ran away. It was beautiful.
Then we headed to the Smithsonian museums. Really we were just looking for a street vendor selling cheap shirts but glancing in a few of the museums was a super awesome added bonus. Behind this gorgeous artwork is the original American flag that Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem about. It was such an emotional and moving sight and filled me to bursting with pride for my great nation.
I found my way into the Living Seas section of the Natural History Museum and could have easily stayed there all day. I even found Nemo :)
The last full day was spent cruising the neighborhoods that my family lived in when I was little. I turned 6 shortly after we moved to Virginia and had been 9 for five months when we moved to Henderson. I have some very vivid memories of Virginia and most of those revolve around this pool. In my head it was a huge hill we had to hike up when in actuality it is a lovely pathway. We swam all summer every summer we lived there and now swimming is such a huge part of me. It was a fun nostalgic morning.
My cousin Melinda was a beautiful bride and her reception was a totally rockin' party! It was so so great to see so much family I haven't seen in YEARS! I don't think I could ever repay my parents for letting me tag along with them. I was able to spend some real quality time with my parents for the first time really since I became a parent myself. It was eye opening to see my mom deal with her Parkinson's day in and day out. And it was reaffirmed to me how amazing my dad is as I watched him take care of my mom. I'm not ashamed to say that my dad is my hero and I love him even more now if that's even possible. My mom and dad truly are an incredible couple who I look up to and hope Ben and I can be like as we grow older. Words do not do my thoughts and feelings for them justice.
The morning we flew out, Mother Nature started putting on a beautiful display of Winter. It was such an awesome trip and I really feel like my words are so inadequate. I just know that tender mercies were given to me over and over again. Ben, with the help of his mom, did a wonderful job taking care of our kids back home. I'm still so grateful to him for his sacrifice those long 5 days. But it was so nice to use our technology so I could say goodnight to my kids each night from across the country.
I've been feeling so blessed as I pulled these pictures together and wrote this post all out. And so grateful for this blog so I can write all these memories down.