Family Day is officially a holiday in our house now, celebrated on September 22nd of every year. The kids get the day off from school and my husband takes a personal day from work. I think we finally have the celebratory tradition finalized. In the morning we drop off goodies and a gift at the hospital. I do that by myself in case I need a good cry. I thank all the nurses for being so kind to me when I delivered all 6 of my children and I leave a gift for 2 other unfortunate mothers who will walk in the same shoes that I do. We go to the florist where we get baby-blue balloons, four of them so each child can give a balloon, and 4 flowers. I let each child choose their flower. I really like to involve them in the process. We go to the Cemetery where I cry and hug my husband and the kids run through the large expanse of grass and enjoy their breakfast, this year we had blueberry muffins. I may need to rethink the balloons though. Although the kids love them and I think they look great in the pictures, each year so far they have blown in the wind and popped on the grass. The game that follows is 'collect the broken balloon pieces and throw them away'.
This year we were greeted by a white dove at the Cemetery. It was a blustery day and the dove was hiding in the bushes near the Shrine to the Unborn. The children love running around the statue and climbing on the kneelers, but this time they found a single white dove. I like to think he was sent my God to fill our day with peace. Caskey, always the practical one, says that he is probably a homing bird and can't fly in the heavy winds. So he is hiding in the only shelter nearby waiting for the winds to die down. I like my version better.
This year we decided to drive down to San Diego to tour the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier. In the past I have spent the day quietly hiding my tears from the kids or alternately having terrifying fears that some major accident would occur killing our entire family. None of that happened this year. In fact, I got an email from a close internet friend also celebrating her 4 year anniversary and she also commented on how this year seemed so peaceful and not quite so tear-filled.
I think Caskey and I were much more excited about the day's activities. William, of course, kept wanting to go home, no matter how much we reassured him that the boat would not be moving and it would not be scary. In the end we decided to just stop talking to him about it and carry him on if necessary. It was necessary.
It was a very good deal, children 5 and under are free and an audio tour is included with your ticket price. We let the 3 big kids use our headphones and they had fun running from one display to the next looking for which number to input into the hand-held device. I spent the time posing them for cute pictures and some of the other tourists must have thought they were cute too, because they took pictures of our kids as well. It was a little bizarre.
When we arrived at the parking lot and they suggested we buy a 4 hour pass I didn't think there was anyway we would be there that long; Caskey has a bum ankle, William is afraid of the boat, and the baby's legs are pretty short. But we were there for 4 hours. The kids got a kick out of seeing the kitchen and the giant mixers for making chow. They got to sit in the cockpit of several different planes. And they tromped up and down, back and forth on 3 levels of the boat (or is it ship?).
Just before closing we started to head up to the bridge to get a real eagle's eye view of the entire ship. Be aware, there is a height restriction for going up to the bridge. Its four flights of stairs that are so steep and narrow that they should be called a ladder. Connor was just a smidge taller than the limit and Lainy Ann, Connor and I were allowed to go up for the tour that included flight control, the map room, and the bridge.
[caption id="attachment_535" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Connor on the bridge"][/caption]
I really enjoyed seeing the inner workings on this tour. It was more difficult for the children to sit quietly and listen to the docent, who was once active duty on another aircraft carrier. He talked about the different gears and knobs and seats. Maps were laid out with the original instruments and he explained how mapping was done before the days of GPS.
[caption id="attachment_536" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Connor is giving orders"][/caption]