Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adventures with Grandma and Grandpa Z

Grandma and Grandpa Z came into town the day after Christmas for some quality time with Owen and some adventures in and about DC. With some very cooperative weather, we've packed in quite a bit of site seeing into the last few days.

Over the weekend we walked by the new Capitol Visitors Center and seeing the long lines decided to save that for later in the week, which was just as well with Owen since instead he could take us back to the Botanic Gardens to show Grandma and Grandpa the trains.

On Monday Elaine had to go back to work, but the rest of us took advantage of an amazingly warm and sunny December day to explore Mount Vernon. For Owen, George Washington's Christmas Camel alone was worth the price of admission. He loved petting the 11 month old camel and even serenaded him with a loving rendition of I Like to Move It Move It. Eventually we had to tear Owen away from the camel to explore the grounds (with a promise that we would see the camel again on the way out). Owen had a blast exploring the gardens, and even more fun running around on the lush green grass and enjoying the spectacular view from George's porch. He eventually tired of the scenic beauty and demand to go back and see the camel again. Upon seeing the camel he happily pronounced, "Yeah, the camel waited for me!" Not to be outdone in the enthusiasm department, the camel gave Owen a big wet kiss.

The plan for Tuesday was to meet Mommy for lunch at the National Portrait Gallery, so Owen could splash around in the courtyard wearing his new bright red boots. The meeting Mommy for lunch part of the plan worked perfectly, but the splashing about part of the plan crashed and burned when we found out the fountains were under repair. Undeterred, Owen had a great time running about the courtyard and pointing out all of the trees. After nap time, the cough that Owen had stolen from Grandpa came back with a vengeance, and our poor little guy was sick enough that we decided he should visit the doctor Friday morning.

When Friday morning rolled around we spent a couple hours at the doctor's office with a little boy that was clearly on the mend. We decided it was time to venture back to the Capitol Visitor's Center with the expectation that the weekday time and the chilly wind would cut down the crowds that had deterred us before. We met up with Grandpa Fawcett and saw his first 'movie' in a theater, Out of Many One, the movie everyone now sees before touring the Capitol. No doubt this was very exciting, Owen stood on his chair and repeatedly told the whole audience, "It's dark in here!" and "We're inside the Capitol everybody!" The audience was very appreciative of this information. Owen had fun on the rest of the tour, being particularly impressed at being inside the Capitol dome that sees almost everyday.

Tonight Grandma and Grandpa Z are babysitting Owen and Mommy and Daddy get to go out for a nice dinner to ring in the New Year. If you see Owen anytime in the next few months, I'm sure you'll be able to convince him to say, "Happy New Year everybody, and Happy Thanksgiving too!"

(click here to see all the pictures)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hinkel Horn Honker and Bright Red Boots

Aside from his boxes, Owen's favorite presents this year were his bright red boots (just like Gossie's), and his Dr. Seussian Hinkel-Horn-Honker (which is really called a Saxoflute, but it's much cuter to hear Owen say Hinkel-Horn-Honker). We all had a lovely Christmas, as we spent most of the day up at Mom & Don's with friends and family packing our day with fun and our stomachs with delicious food. Grandma and Grandpa Z arrived in town the day after Christmas, and we're looking forward to closing our 2008 with a week of fun and adventure in and around DC.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Not A Box

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pop Pop

My grandfather (Pop Pop to me, Pop Pop Pop to Owen, Marvin Atchison to the rest of the world) passed away today. We're thankful that the end was peaceful, and that we were able to make it down to Austin for one last visit just a few weeks ago. Pop Pop was the only one of my grandparents who lived to meet Owen (my other grandfather passed away just a few months after he was born), and I'll always treasure the memories of them together. Pop Pop may not have been able to see, but he knew that Owen looks just like his daddy, and his daddy looks just like Pop Pop. And he didn't need his vision to hear Owen say, "I love you Pop Pop."

It's hard to know what all to write in this post, but I wanted to at least share some of my thoughts and memories of a remarkable person. My memories of Pop Pop are all of a wonderfully happy person. When I was young he would always play with us grandkids, crawling around on the floor and tickling me when I was little, or teaching me how to play pool and golf when I was a little older. He was quite the flirt, and he inevitably charmed the young ladies, as Elaine or Adrienne would be happy to tell you. Hearing the story about how he swept Mom Mom off her feet I'd say he was always pretty smooth, and as the father of three adoring girls who still call him Daddy (while they all called Mom Mom, 'Mother') he had plenty of practice over the years.

Growing up I knew Pop Pop fought in the Pacific during WWII, but I never knew the stories and only had the vaguest idea that he was a war hero. I once asked why Pop Pop didn't eat rice, and heard in hushed tones that it was because of the memory of maggot infested rations they ate during the war. Eventually I heard the stories of Pop Pop receiving a Purple Heart when he was shot through the neck on his 21st birthday as the Marines landed on Tarawa, and the Silver Star for his bravery in a ferocious battle on the island of Saipan. After Mom Mom passed, he was more willing to revisit those years. One of the earliest posts on this blog has a video of Pop Pop telling the story of that battle on Saipan. Every time I listen to the story I'm left in awe of the sacrifices made by the greatest generation.

On our wall at home I have a picture of that young Marine, Pfc. Marvin E. Atchison. It's hard not to think of Pop Pop the war hero when seeing the picture; but looking at his smile, the jaunty tilt of his cap, and the light in his eyes, you can't miss the happy and joyous person who savored his happy ending in the wonderful family and life he built after the war.

Marvin Eugene Atchison
November 20, 1922 - December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pictures at an Exhibition

On Saturday I was playing with Owen in his room when he started singing the Alphabet Song. He got to about "G" when he suddenly stopped, turned to me and said, "Go get the camera."

It's understandable that Owen would assume that we would want to capture his every adorable act, since in our quest to nail the perfect pic for our holiday card, we've been photographing him seemingly non-stop the past week. But despite all the footage, we still weren't satisfied with any family shots and so on Sunday we headed to the National Botanic Garden where we hoped to persuade some stranger to take a winning family portrait of us.

We hadn't realized how many other people would be of a similar mind, and so instead of posing amid the crowds in front of the Christmas trees, the plant replicas of Capitol Hill, or the "Windows to Wonderland," we opted for the Orchid Garden. Owen was appalled that we would leave the trains for someplace sorely lacking in locomotions and was less than a good sport about smiling for a very generous stranger. As a result, Owen got one more tour of the trains before nap time, and we'll be using a wide-shot from early November for our Christmas card.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving Family Picture

There was turkey. There was pie. There was a "naked boy" doing laps in the livingroom. It was a fun-filled Zimmerman Thanksgiving with Grady relations Bernie, Blaine, Caitlin, Ellen & John there for an afternoon of food, family and bird puppets.

The Zimmerman cousins, aunts and uncles all left by Friday afternoon, but the Fawcetts were just starting to gather and so on Friday night Owen had a playdate with his second cousins Ethan and Grace (though Grace slept through most of it). The boys hadn't been together since Owen's baptism and it's amazing how much trouble they can get into now that they're both mobile. Fortunately, there were a lot of us around to intercede when necessary, and the boys had great time together.


(click here to see all the pictures)