Wednesday, November 14, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Impulse Travel Destination

We had an entirely different vacation set up, but one of the people who was supposed to come along, was unable to go (my son because he couldn't get the time off from the military). So...we changed our plans at the last second, totally on impulse (the one and only time we've ever done that). We went someplace we'd never been: Prague, in the Czech Republic.  It ended up being a fantastic decision, and instantly became one of our family's all-time, most favorite places to visit.

My teen getting his Prague on...and he quickly learned that dress shoes aren't always the best choice for a long walk on vacation. Something his mother had to learn on her own too, many times over. ;)

The time change was a bit much for little man.  He slept a lot, even at the toy store.

Look who is awake, just in time to see a big castle around the corner. :)

Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle

The churches were beautiful inside and out.

There was no shortage of things to do.
This is a staircase in the National Museum.

It's pretty impressive, right? The museum itself was really great too.
 Even the teen liked it, and he thought he was beyond the years of enjoying museums. ;)

We explored Wenceslas Square after we left the museum.

I really enjoyed my time at the Astronomical Clock. There were a lot of people there to see it, and I could see why. I didn't want to tear myself away from it.

Charles Bridge was another area where I could stay for days. There was a lot of construction going on around us, but it was still very beautiful to be there.

Even though the weather was a bit chilly (we like to travel during the 'off season' and the skies stayed gray, it was still such a remarkable place to see.

And of course, the classic Prague views stay with you. This photo is blown up and hangs in my house. I absolutely love it.

The water views were very pretty too, and very distinct. I bet anyone in the world who is familiar with the city, would know where we are, just by looking at the background.

And I'll finish by mentioning the food. There was not a bad meal to be had in the city of Prague. Even the breakfast was delicious!! 

Our visit to this city will always hold a special place in my memories, and I'm so glad we made last minute changes to make this our destination.  How about you?  Have you ever changed vacation plans at the last second and it turned out to be a very good thing?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Honor of Veteran's Day

One of the most important people in my life is a military man.

My oldest child has always been a kind-hearted, fun-loving child.  His teachers loved him in school, the neighbors loved him growing up, and my friends repeatedly said he was the nicest child they'd ever seen. He was always very sweet and mild-mannered.  So when he decided to drop out of college to join the military, I was stunned, and I hoped it was 'just talk' because the military, while they have my full respect, can be a very dangerous place.  But he joined, and when he did, he went all out and signed up for Infantry, which would put him front and center in the middle of danger.  

In the beginning, I was overcome with emotion that sometimes just enveloped me out of the blue.  For me, his safety and well-being will always be paramount, so knowing he'd thrown himself into the unknown was very hard to adapt to as his mom.

When he graduated from Boot Camp, nothing short of the extraordinary happened...  
All of his things were on the bus for where he was supposed to go.  The ceremony went off without a hitch.  It was very nice, but parents/loved ones were worried because they didn't know where their soldiers were being sent, or what their destination(s) would entail.  At the very last second (literally), one of the men in charge came up and told my son to move his things off of the transport bus they were on, and move them to the bus headed for Air Borne, where he would now go to train to be a Paratrooper.  He was more than thrilled because that's where he wanted to be. 

Here he is posing with his Drill Sergeant at the Boot Camp Graduation Ceremony

Why that particular moment turned out to be so wonderful to me, is because it then led to him being selected (after he successfully completed his training) as one of the Old Guard members in DC.  It is a job to be revered, and a hard one for sure because they are constantly on-call to pick up the bodies and take part in the official ceremonies for their fellow comrades who have fallen (which is a highly respected job, but can never, ever can be considered a 'good' job).  But from a mother's perspective, it delayed him being sent overseas, and for that, I will always consider his last minute bus change nothing short of a miracle.

This picture is very profound to me.  My son is front, right.

Earning his EIB (my son is in the front of this picture)

Here he is below earning his Expert Infantry Badge (EIB).

He has since transferred out of Old Guard and into another area where he is learning and excelling at what he  does.  To our country and to us he is a hero.  But even more than that, to us he is family.  

He is the big brother whose two younger brothers are always ecstatic to see him.

Yeah, his not-so-little brother jumped in his arms too.  Hilarious group of guys I've got, let me tell you, but in truth we all feel happy like that when we get to see him.

He is the big brother who tries to soothe his sister who breaks down every time she has to leave him.

She's getting better as she gets older, but she still takes it really hard when it's time to part.

He is the considerate and loving husband who wears the pink tie his wife selected for him because it perfectly matches her dress (we're at their place in the photo below, headed out to get professional pictures taken).

Yes, he did wear it, and yes it did match perfectly.  

He is the son who loves his mama.

This is me, him, and his little bro on stilts in the background.  
I couldn't be more proud of the child he was or the man he has become.  

And he is also a young man who makes us even more proud with his decision to have become a soldier (love you C!).

Serving our country is no small thing, and I hope you will join me today, & every day, in honoring all of the men and women who are active, have served, or have lost their lives while serving in the United States Military.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Well, It's Over... Goodbye October

For your convenience...trunk-or-treating has been moved inside this year.  Yay!

There goes October...