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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Inauguration

Here's our photo essay of the inauguration. For those of you on Facebook, you'll notice many of the same pictures and captions from Brian's album. But for the rest of you - it'll be new!

After we stood in line to get our tickets on Monday, we strolled around the capital the day before the inauguration.

Here's Brian in front of the capital.

Here's a nice artistic shot of the Capital that Brian took on Monday.

A Monday look at the seating area for the big shots/celebs who gave a lot of cash to the Obama campaign. The bad news for us poor slobs who had to stand? They got seats. The good news? They could see about as much as we could.The Capital is a very large place. I don't think they could see the President any better than we could.

Here I am in front of the "Big Shots" area as Brian would say.

Now, Brian gets his turn to be a big shot! Notice, there's still fence between us and the big shots - even on the day before the inauguration.

This is the official jumbotron screen where we could see everyone up close.

As you can imagine, Brian - our MSU Graduate - was quite excited to see an entire Spartan bus in D.C. during the inauguration. There was tons of other college students as well.

Here's a shot of the Capital at about 5:30 to 6 a.m. on inauguration day. We stayed in Baltimore and left our friend's house at about 3:10 a.m. By the time we were close to the Metro Greenbelt stop at 3:45 a.m., it was already full. The station had opened at 3:30 a.m. We drove one stop up to College Park and found plenty of spots and even got seats on the Metro - surprisingly. Oddly enough, the 30 mile drive from Baltimore to the Metro stop was fine with no traffic problems.

Here's just some of the people we were standing nearby.

Dawn breaks on the Capital and as Brian pointed out, those "Big Shots" are still likely cozy warm in their beds.

This is the view looking behind us. You can see crowds of people lined up to Washington Monument. In fact, crowds were lined up all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

Now, can see that some of those big shots have woken up and are getting seated. By the way, each time the announcer would say, "please be seated," the entire mall erupted in laughter since most of us 2 million were standing.

Does it seem like we're a bit closer all of a sudden? Well, we are. We're now right across from the reeflecting pool - close to those pictures on Monday. We had hoped to be right by the reflecting pool, but when we arrived at about 4:45 a.m., we learned that security wasn't letting anyone in that area, even though the map showed "silver section" tickets would be there. We must have been in the rowdy group because all of a sudden people in front of us, "bum-rushed" the plastic gates and suddenly we were in that coveted spot -right by the reflecting water.

More and more people.

A nice shot of the reflecting pool.

Another nice view. Obama stood right where the camera stand is located.

There's the new president of the United States - the "test run" of the oath. We couldn't quite see him with our eyes, but had a great view of the jumbotron.

Now, we're all heading out. We chose to walk about a mile away to an "out of the way" metro stop. As you can imagine, there was no isolated metro stop, but we did get seats all the way back. Surprisingly again, traffic was just fine as we headed back to Baltiimore. We had a bit of time to catch a nap before we caught our flight back to Detroit that night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration celebration

We were very lucky to score inauguration tickets just about 10 days before the event. We're not really political people, but we realized that this would be a historical moment - never to happen again - and couldn't turn down the chance to witness history.

We got the tickets the old fashioned way. Yes, we wrote our Congressman, and two senators and just waited and waited and waited.

We assumed there would be no way we could snag tickets. We were told "no" several times, but finally Senator Evan Bayh's office had tickets for us. What seemed to happen was if people couldn't go to the evvent, then the staff would go further down the list to the next people on the waiting list and ultimately it got far enough down for us that we got the tickets.

We stayed in Baltimore and were in the area from Saturday until Tuesday night. We walked miles and miles in the cold and were around thousands (actually millions) of people, and were always surprised by how cheerful and happy everyone was nearby.

I'll post the inauguration pictures soon enough. But for now - here are some of the shots from this weekend. We went to the whistle stop on Saturday in Baltimore, which was just a walk from our friend's house. On Sunday, we saw the "We are One" concert on the mall. I thought it was excellent - mostly because some of my favorite performers were there - Mellencamp, Sprinsteen, etc...

All of the TV broadcasters kept talking about how frigid cold the weather was, but to be honest, it wasn't that bad for us. It was probably 30 degrees cooler in D.C. than in the Midwest. You'll notice that it was much cooler on Saturday but did "warm up" a bit on Sunday to a balmy 30 degrees.

Here's a photo of Brian on Saturday while we were walking around Baltimore before the whistle-stop. You'll notice how cold he is at this point.

Here's a photo of me at the whistle-stop on Saturday. You'll notice you can hardly see my face, and Brian points out that my "Sarah Palin" specs are even fogging up.

Now, here's a photo of us after the, "We are one" concert on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. You'll notice it's quite a bit warmer. You can actually see our faces!

This gives you a good sense of how long the crowd was during the concert. The concert was at the Lincoln Memorial but you can see people standing all the way back to the Washington Monument. And, yes we were all standing that close together.

Here are some "tree people" staked out on the trees at the concert.

One of my all-time favorite singers.

Here's a photo of a very cool building, but we don't know which building it actually is - nonetheless cool.

Brian got a photo of me crashing in Baltimore after a busy day on Saturday. I think I was out snoozing about 2 minutes after he took this shot.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A love story

Most love stories start with an attraction and usually lots of sweet anecdotes as the couple falls in love. Sometimes, the story is unconventional. Before they realize the attraction, she might throw something in his face - like a beverage.

But I'm going to start this love story at the best part. The part where the couple "lives happily ever after" which means they live and love each other.

My grandparents have been married 59 years today. There are some very sweet stories about how they met and the early days. For instance, Grandpa still has the receipts to their honeymoon locations.

But as I said, what has always meant the most to me is watching them as they live and love each other.

We often traveled to Michigan to see my aunt and uncle when I was younger and I remember us driving there in the motor home laughing and playing one of our favorite games - euchre.

Once we arrived, and settled down for the night - after more card games - I'll never forget hearing Grandma and Grandpa whispering, and talking in the motor home - almost like a pair of newlyweds. Of course, at this time they'd already been married about 40 years.

And, if they were reading this together, Grandpa would probably say to Grandma: "I bet you were doing all of the talking," as he would grin at her. And, Grandma would probably agree.

See, it's those kinds of daily interactions that show all of us how in love the two of them still are 59 years later.

It's really more about the little things and not necessarily grandiose gestures. She makes his favorite meal, a favorite desert such as minced meat pie. And, he's helped her move countless humming bird feeders in the backyard. Each of them know that these little things make the other person happy and that's why they do them without a complaint.

On more than one occasions, Grandma has commented to me about how cute Grandpa is - particularly in certain shirts or pants.

It's also so touching to see the two of them interact together as it was when our family got together over the holidays and the two of them set together holding hands.

While we were singing songs and the kids were running around - it struck me that this huge family with about 36 people wouldn't be possible without the two of them loving each other.

So, here's wishing a tremendously happy anniversary to Grandma and Grandpa Shidler.

Our couple:

Now, with their children:

See, how the family has expanded. Here are the grandchildren and their spouses.

Now, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Holiday Craze

It's hard to believe I've been off work the last two weeks - because it's been such a whirlwind. In such a short span, I was in New York, then we headed to Goshen, Ind. for Christmas with my family. Back home for a few days and off to Michigan to spend time with Brian's family. Then, we spent the last week at home where I took Liz downtown and worked on lots of projects (translation: cleaning).

Here are some of our favorite photos from the holiday season.

In the middle of December, we went to our Pal Dylan's fourth birthday. This was probably the best birthday party Liz has gone to because it was held at a place called FunFlatables. So, the whole party consisted of kids jumping up and down on the enormous inflatable objects. A child's dream come true. Liz was so impressed that as we were driving home, she said to me: "Dylan's party was genius."
A big compliment - I'd say. You'll notice Mommy and Daddy had some fun at the party too.

The next day after the birthday party, I headed to New York for my staff meeting. I usually go to the city about three times a year but don't always take pictures. Here's a few fun ones from the city. I got one taken with Elmo for Liz. The weather was beautiful in New York at December. Amazing. You hardly needed a coat - but I still wore one and the hat - just for good measure.

After I got back from New York, we headed to Goshen the weekend before Christmas. We spent time with my family - both my dad's side and my mom's side.

When I was growing up, we used to take pictures of the nine cousins every Christmas by the tree.

Here are the cousins with our kids. Brian enjoyed taking these pictures. In the pictures that he was in, my Aunt Barb kept teasing him for "hiding from the camera." That evening, Liz opened a kids' camera from my mom and began taking pictures. She remembered that phrase and kept telling Brian to stop "hiding from the camera." We'll get to her pictures eventually...I promise...

Here's Liz opening a few gifts at my mom's house.

My mom and her two sisters are opening gifts together. Don't they look a lot alike!

Despite all the travel, we stayed home for Christmas eve, made cookies and opened our stockings. We also opened gifts on Christmas day and even had our own "feast."

After we opened our gifts on Christmas day and had lunch at home we headed to Michigan and stayed there until the Sunday after Christmas. We were stunned to travel there with good weather and home again too. Here's Liz with her "Don't Break the Ice Game" along with Aunt Marilyn and Mimi Hedger.

When we got back from Michigan, I took Liz downtown Chicago for our tradition of spending the day in the city together at Christmas time. We walk around and see Chicago's Christmas tree at Daley Plaza, look at the Macy's windows, watch the ice-skaters and play in Grant Park - if there's time. It was a beautiful day and we also met up with Brian and friends at Pizzaria Uno and had plenty of time at the park. We also stopped in and had hot chocolate (blended chocolate for Liz) at Ethel's at the front of Nordstrom's on Michigan Avenue. It's one of my favorite chocolate places in town.

She played at Grant Park for a few hours while my friend Jennifer and I chatted. It's one of our favorite parks in the city.