Tuesday, December 30, 2008

News from the Johnston parents . . .

. . . because, let's be realistic, we will not be getting a Christmas letter out this year.

Eric had two noteworthy experiences this fall--neither of which should be news to most of our readers. But everything is more fun with pictures, right? We moved here to cold, snowy Minnesota because Eric was offered a pretty neat job opportunity. As I said in an earlier post, it wasn't the perfect job--and it wasn't meant to be a long-term career--but it was a really great job. Unfortunately, that job disappeared in October along with many others across the nation. He was working for a business that could not keep paying him during a rough economic season. It was quite a blow initially but we had some time to think through next steps. Coincidentally, a long-outstanding government case was settled in our favor the same week so we decided that Eric should spend the fall applying for academic jobs and doing some writing rather than looking for low-wage part-time work.

I have had a Mary Kay business since last spring and was pretty happy for an excuse to take that up again in a more serious way. It's really a lot of fun for me and it fit in well with Eric being home more during the day. So we've spent the fall with Eric home trying to work out of our bedroom and me heading out many evenings. It's been a pretty good arrangement for all.

Eric also officially received his Ph.D. this fall. He can now officially be called "doctor." It was pretty spectacular and I photographed the conferral of the diploma for all those who were unable to be there.

The arrival of The Tube via USPS:

The unfurling:

Looks official:

I didn't catch any shots of Eric updating his CV--sorry about that.

Next for us in the New Year--Eric has submitted a fair number of academic applications and has a few more in progress for this month. He is also pursuing some short-term work for the remainder of the winter and spring. And he is networking for adjunct positions for summer and next fall. We are hopeful that a wonderful teaching position on the East Coast will work out for Eric but the job market is competitive so we are also making plans to "make do" here in the Great White North a bit longer if necessary.

I intend to keep working in some capacity even after the newest little Johnston Kid arrives in February and I'm glad I have a way to earn income that is quite flexible--and fun!

And with that, we will return to posting about the children in our next installment . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008


I know. I know. I'm a pathetic excuse of a blogger. I started this blog with the intent of weekly posts and I managed to average that the first year. But this last year has been full of lots of twists and turns and surprises. Some updates on that later. I am resolved to revive regular updates here and I hope to get out a bit of a backlog over the next week.

To begin . . . Christmas for the Johnston Kids.

We really try to celebrate Advent and Christmas as two distinct seasons. The kids were the enthusiastic recipients of two different Advent calendars this year and I saw why these are so popular. It was a great visual for the kids as they anxiously awaited the start of festivities. Gifts arrived in the mail several times each week throughout December and as the pile of wrapped surprises accumulated Margaret, especially, needed a lot of diversion to keep from jumping out of her skin with excitement.

But the big day finally arrived. We brought in a tree on December 23rd. We had hoped to score a tree as cheaply as we did last year but we chickened out on waiting to the last minute because of a forecasted snowstorm. The local hardware store had huge inexpensive trees for sale and Eric brought home the biggest tree we've ever had to go in the biggest home we've ever had. I so wish I'd caught Margaret's face when Eric came through the door with a tree. She just stood in total awe yelling, "Whoa!"

Both kids, of course, had a lot of input on the proper care and feeding of trees.

We decorated through the day on Christmas Eve. Eric let me handle the lights because I'm fanatically picky about light placement. The kids helped me place the ornaments during the afternoon--mostly by requesting that I place all of the ornaments "on the highest branches."

Our Christmas Eve dinner this year was cheese fondue--beautifully prepared by Eric who always ends up doing the holiday cooking because I wear myself out with other preparations by the time dinner rolls around.

You might think we're crazy for combining open flame, skewers, and crazy children but they actually did really well. Joseph was really careful with everything and Margaret pretty much only wanted grapes for dinner.

We open gifts throughout the twelve days in our family. We brought a few to Eric's mom's for Christmas morning, then there is about one gift each day until Epiphany when we give the kids their "big gift." But Eric's mom sent over some special Christmas Eve gifts--new pajamas for all. It was tempting to post a picture of my cozy new nightgown but I'll just leave you with the kids who were very excited about their cozy new jammies. In fact, if you look you can see that Margaret put hers on immediately and wore them all through dinner.

We enjoyed a wonderful relaxing Christmas Day with Grandma Marga and family. Caramel pecan rolls for breakfast, lots of gifts for all, and a fantastic beef tenderloin dinner.

I'll post pictures of gift highlights a bit later and I do hope to get in a few "back issues" from this fall over the next week. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We have a winner

Remember Margaret's two dollies? Well, we have a clear winner:

Margaret says, "Love Baby so much." The doll's name is "Baby." Nothing more. Nothing less. Margaret can't go to bed at night until Baby is wrapped securely in a scarf and smothered under Margaret's pillow. We'll have to work on her swaddling skills before the real baby arrives.

Rest time

All that reading would tire me out, too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Eric's dad grew up in Sturgeon Bay, WI, which is in Door County--the "thumb" of Wisconsin. I think it's called "Door" because the early French explorers approaching from the Great Lakes thought of this area as "Death's Door" but it is a lovely place to visit now.

Grandpa Mike has a house right on Lake Michigan and now that we live a mere five hours away we hope to see a bit more of him and his mother and siblings who still live in the area. Our first trip was last weekend. Because of Eric's work schedule we went Saturday through Tuesday which helped us avoid the insane holiday lake and resort traffic in Minnesota and Wisconsin (I'm using the word "insane" in a very relative way as I've yet to see anything that rivals the daily traffic headaches in DC).

We had a lovely and relaxing weekend. The Great Lakes are really something--we fell asleep to the sound of breaking surf each night. The horizon goes on and on. But it always feels to me like "fake ocean." I know that the Lakes aren't trying to be like the ocean but I still feel just slightly confused every time I see them. Anyway. The kids enjoyed swimming. Joseph has always been a little fish so he was anxious to dive right in. He would have stayed in all day but he got seriously chilled after less than an hour despite the hot weather.

Margaret was terrified of the ocean when we last went almost a year ago. She sort of tiptoed toward the water with a lot of coaxing from Grandpa and after a minute happily plopped down just where the waves would crash on her and threw sand at the waves. Eric took her for a turn in the deep water, too but I was trying to warm up Joseph and couldn't get to the camera.

The next day we went sailing up Sturgeon Bay. Joseph was beside himself with excitement over the boat, the cabin on the boat, his life jacket, the "inboard" motor, the sails. Everything. He spent most of the trip on someone's lap helping steer the boat.

Margaret was decidedly less sure about the whole endeavor. She liked the "sputtering" part of the trip--as Joseph called it--and the sailing down the bay was okay. But tacking back up afterward with the boat leaning to alternate sides and lots more wind was not her idea of a good time and I was enjoying myself less than usual worrying about her going over the edge--which was probably much less likely than it seemed. She elected to remain below deck for awhile until we turned on the motor again.

It was a lovely weekend and we do hope to make at least a couple more trips this year to get to know this part of the family a bit better.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting dressed

Just in case anyone is worried that the kids are going to forget where they're from, this is how they demanded to get dressed this morning (pink pants and all):

And in case you were worried that they aren't getting along as well out here in the Midwest, here is what they did when I asked them to sit closer together:

And, don't worry, we already have a baby-sized uniform that should be fitting the next Johnston kid by opening day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Finally getting settled

I know I've been grossly negligent in the blog department of late and I apologize for that. We moved into our own apartment just over a month ago and it has taken an astonishingly long time to get settled. Moving just gets worse every time we do it. Our apartment is lovely and is almost photo-worthy. I will do my best to post some pictures soon but computer time is very limited these days. The kids don't have much patience for me clicking away at a keyboard and there is a lot to accomplish during Margaret's one nap each day.

We are enjoying our life here in Minnesota. Eric's job is going well. He works on Saturdays and takes a day off during the week. Yesterday was his day off and the whole family went to the Minnesota State Fair. I've heard stories about this fair for years and Eric and his mom have been talking it up for Joseph ever since we arrived in July. It's quite an institution, known as the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" and I think it is one of the biggest state fairs in the country. It's huge. It's also expensive so we limited our fair intake to one morning and it was hard to fit in everything.

Joseph had three goals for the fair: see the animals, ride the Ferris Wheel, get something "on a stick."

We hit the animals first. There were many barns holding livestock but we'd been told that a litter of piglets had been born that morning so we went to the "Miracle of Birth" barn. Quite a show. Lambs and piglets were being born while we were there but we couldn't get close enough to see very well. We stuck to the perimeter and the kids got to pet a baby lamb, a piglet, a calf, and a turkey chick.

We stopped by the Midway because Joseph wanted to watch some "scary rides." There were definitely some scary ones. The Ferris Wheel was the only thing I would have considered letting Joseph ride but we had serious doubts that he'd enjoy swinging in a little bucket really high in the air. And the cost of rides has really gone up since I was a kid so we settled for just watching.

As for food on a stick . . . nothing prepared me for this peculiar State Fair phenomenon. You can get anything on a stick at the Fair: corn dogs, pickles, cheese, fruit, deep-fried candy bars, kebabs. Our parish even started a new initiative of "Theology on a Stick" as a take-off of the hugely successful Theology on Tap programs around the country. Joseph really wanted to try something on a stick and here he is . . .

It's alligator. That's right. "Gator-on-a-Stick." I did try a bite and it was pretty tasty--Joseph is enjoying it in sausage form. I actually had my first appointment with my new midwife shortly after we got back from the Fair and she informed that alligator meat has one of the highest protein counts of any food there is. I guess I should have had some for lunch, too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We made it . . .

I should have gotten around to a short post earlier than this but we did, in fact, make it to Minnesota.

Last Monday some very wonderful friends came and helped us load all of our belongings into a POD--a portable storage device. The POD was shipped separately to Minnesota and will sit in storage here until we have a place to live at which time the POD guy will bring all our stuff right to our driveway. It's a great way to move and I highly recommend it.

We did, however, make some fatal errors in this move. We knew that we would be separated from our POD for as long as a month but I was not very organized about packing and did not pack for the road trip and our month at Grandma's before our friends arrived to load the POD. Not having that stuff out of the way paralyzed me into a state of indecision about a lof of the odds and ends in our apartment so a whole lot wasn't packed on moving day. And the only person who knew what should go in the car rather than the POD was me and I only knew in my head--I didn't have it written down or anything. Oh, and I had the flu or something. I was incredibly sick and remained sick for the entire road trip. And I'm pregnant. Sorry if you're hearing that for the first time but we ran out of time for personal phone calls.

Our friends were incredibly patient and understanding and loaded the POD for us including such items as: Eric's wallet, the checkbook, my maternity clothes, the kids' toothbrushes, Joseph's pajamas, the cable I need to get pictures from my camera to this blog. You get the picture. I don't at all blame our friends. Its 100% my fault that these things didn't make it to Minnesota. But it made for a stressful start to the trip.

We had a rainy, but picturesque drive through the mountains the first afternoon on the road and we stayed the night in the first hotel over the Ohio River. The next day we set out for Madison, WI and spent hour after hour driving through farm after farm. We'd been sad to leave DC and I was miserably sick and the morning was not at all fun. The kids and I got a good afternoon nap and then Eric got some friend Walleye for dinner in Gary, IN. By the time we hit Chicago we were all feeling somewhat human again and feeling like we were withing strking distance of what will be home for the next year. We hope to visit Chicago a bit. The kids were asleep by the time we hit Wisconsin and the final leg of the trip was made more pleasant by a stop at Culver's for frozen custard--Eric's first attempt at turning me into a Midwesterner.

We spent two nights in Madison hosted by Eric's grandfather. He's living in a very lovely retirement community/assisted living/nursing facility where he has his own apartment and he put us up in one of the guest suites. We visited him, visited some other family members, bought me some clothes, and tooled around Madison a bit. Eric lived in Madison until he was fifteen so there was lots to remember. The kids had a really great time visiting with the older generation of Iltis/Dobbs family. Margaret was not at all shy and took to everyone really quickly. She calls Grandpa, "Frapup."

Thursday we set out for St. Paul and discovered that the midwest flooding had been farther north than we'd realized. Field after field was underwater though the freeway was passable all the way through. We arrived at Eric's mom's house in time for dinner and we were very glad to have the trip behind us.

We're staying in the Tuthill basement for now and being well-cared for here. Lots of good food and help with the kids. Eric started work yesterday and is feeling good about his new job. I'm getting to know St. Paul in a more intentional way. We have an appointment to see a house on Friday that seems like a really great place so we hope to have our housing finalized by the end of the week as well.

I have a few pictures but I'll need to consult with the resident techie here to see if there is a way to get them off my camera, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Packing up and moving on

I think most of our blog readers have heard our job and moving news by now. If you haven't heard all the details and you count yourself among our personal friends, please drop us an e-mail and we'll fill you in.

Early last week Eric accepted a job in Minnesota. It's not the perfect job but it is a great job and we're grateful for it. Eric has been job-hunting almost without a break for eighteen months straight and the strain of always wondering about the next step was a bit much for our family. When we finally realized that Eric did have a job and we did know where we were going it was hard to believe.

We are quite sad about leaving DC. We've lived here a couple of years longer than the average DC resident and our time here has included our entire marriage and the births of two children. We have come to love urban living and we've made some wonderful friends. We'll really miss all of the (free!) cultural opportunities, our pedestrian lifestyle, lots of choices for churches and coffee shops, the East Coast and our relative proximity to family and friends here. I doubt we'll return to DC but we do plan to try to get back to the East Coast as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there is much to look forward to. It's pure coincidence that Eric got a job in Minnesota but it is a happy coincidence. Our landlord is selling our condo and we needed to leave by June 30th, anyway. Our plan was to put all our stuff in a POD and take our regular trip to the Midwest to visit family and friends. We'd save July rent and, we hoped, have a job lined up by the time Eric's mom got sick of us. Its worked out so that we can pretty much just keep to our plan but now we don't have the stress of wondering where we're headed after Minnesota. Our stuff will be stored for us while we look for a rental house in our new town and we can stay with Eric's mom until we get settled. Eric starts work as soon as we arrive in Minnesota.

We'll be living just thirty minutes outside the Twin Cities in a town where we have a few friends already. We're really looking forward to seeing more of Eric's family. His little brother, Ben, will be a senior in high school this year and we'll finally get to participate in all his school things that we usually miss. Both of the kids' godparents are in the Twin Cities and they'll all get to know each other better. I'm looking forward to becoming more familiar with Eric's "homeland." We'll be able to make easy trips to Madison to see more of Eric's family. And we hope to take a couple opportunities to indulge our love of road trips by venturing further west to sightsee.

I apologize for the infrequent posts but life, as you can imagine, is pretty crazy. Boxes piled everywhere and everything in disarray. Joseph hates change and is decidedly ambivalent about this move but Margaret can't get enough of packing.

We just have to be careful about what she's putting into those boxes:

I'll be back with more frequent updates once we're settled in Minnesota. I can't promise to post much before the beginning of August but I will try if I have the opportunity.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Speaking of Joseph and his mobility

I've been meaning for awhile to post about Joseph's new long leg braces. They aren't all that new anymore, actually. I think this set arrived shortly after Christmas. You might remember that his old set of braces were very non-mechanical. The hope was that he could use the trace muscle control in his hips to move his legs forward without any mechanical assistance. Joseph made off-and-on forward progress with that set of braces. Last September when I posted a video of Joseph in those braces was pretty much the peak of his ability with those. He was also outgrowing that set so we met with his doctor and therapist to think about other options. We decided to go with a Reciprocating Gait Orthotic (RGO). (If you follow that link, note that Joseph has the isocentric design). The RGO is mainly different in that there is a joint on the back, pictured here:

The joint automatically swings the left leg back when the right leg moves forwards and vice versa. This means that Joseph can more or less just lean to one side and the mechanical motion gives him a lot of help advancing. This brace also lacks the "moon boot" design of the old set. These have a molded plastic piece that fits inside his shoes and attaches to metal pieces on the side of his leg. Joseph has lightweight ankle braces he wears all day long when he's not in his RGO so this is just the same thing all in one piece.

There is still a steep learning curve. We are very far from taking this brace out to use in public but Joseph can get across the room fairly easily using his walker. It's very wide and has a large, slow turning radius so it isn't all that much fun for him but he's usually willing to try it out for a few minutes.

Shannon, his therapist, also has Joseph working on walking with crutches. The crutches were actually Joseph's idea several months ago. He saw a kid at the hospital using crutches and wanted to try it himself. Typically, kids don't start with crutches until at least age five but Shannon wanted to go with Joseph's interests and she brought him some. Joseph was doing such a fantastic job with them this morning that I was able to snap these pictures. All he is actually doing here is standing unsupported but that is a huge milestone for him. Obviously the crutches are much less stable than a walker with four wheels and a wide base. Every little movement throws off his balance. But he did it. He stood for several minutes on his own this morning. He can walk around using the crutches if he gets a lot of assistance.

Progress is slow, but mostly steady. It is unlikely that Joseph will ever use braces and crutches for everyday mobility but they are very valuable as a therapeutic tool and he may find that he likes them better for around the house or around a workplace in the future. And they provide a lot of entertainment for Margaret who wants to be just like her big brother.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wheelchair Update

"Smile, Joseph!"

Most of our family have had a chance to see Joseph in his wheelchair but many readers of this blog live far away and we missed our usual pilgrimage to the Midwest last year so I thought I'd offer an update and a few reflections on Joseph's mobility.

Part of the reason I'm inspired to write is that we always prepare people for seeing Joseph on wheels for the first time by saying something like, "He does really well. He's so good at maneuvering and so fast. Wait till you see him." When we say this the other person smiles and nods and says, "Uh huh." Then they do see him in person and say something like, "Holy cow! What an amazing kid! He can really do it!" You really have to see it to believe it. And, unfortunately, you don't see it much. There are not very many paraplegic three-year olds with the cognitive ability to power a wheelchair. There is an amazing wheelchair-accessible park out in the suburbs in Virginia where we've been several times and we've never met someone like Joseph. He is amazing.

We've had the chair for just about a year, now, but last summer was a challenge as we got everything adjusted correctly and we've only had it permanently since August. Joseph learned quickly how to operate the chair and has continued to amaze us as we watch his strength and skills increase. He can easily wheel himself four or five blocks in our neighborhood if we aren't going uphill. He still needs help crossing streets safely but I imagine that most three-year olds do. Joseph can wheel up and down ramps. He's a bit slow going up but he always wants to do it by himself and he always makes it. Going down is even more fun: he lets his wheels go until he's going incredibly fast and then grabs them at the last second--simultaneously braking and making a 90-degree turn at the bottom of the ramp. He does the same trick coming into our kitchen. He zooms down our long hallway and comes careening around the corner into the main room. He can also do small bumps and slightly uneven ground himself. On the sidewalks we use all the time--at our house, in front of church, etc.,--he knows exactly where the uneven spots are and knows the easiest path. He can pop (small) wheelies to get over an obstacle that is an inch or two high.

Lawns are still a challenge. We've been to the Arboretum here and Joseph did have fun while we picnicked with friends but only because one of the other girls thought it would be fun to push Joseph around all morning. Between her pushing and Joseph wheeling they got around fairly well but I still had to go rescue them several times. While we were visiting CUA to see Pope Benedict Joseph was off on his own playing with some other kids and hit a dip in the lawn. If he were standing we would have said he'd gone head over heels. He was fine but it was scary.

This is one reason, by the way, that we love city living so much. A yard is not all that beneficial for Joseph. We'd much rather live someplace with wide sidewalks and other interesting paved areas. Our favorite activity lately is to walk Daddy to the Metro where Joseph can watch a building under construction and zoom around on the huge Metro plaza.

We take the wheelchair with us pretty much everywhere we go. The exception is if we're truly just "going for a walk" and don't intend to let either kid out of the stroller. Our double stroller is much easier for me to push so we still use it a lot when we're just out for some fresh air. Needing to take the chair has crimped our pedestrian lifestyle, somewhat. For example, I used to take Metro to get to the library but pushing the wheelchair, carrying Margaret on my back and carrying our library books proved to be too much for me. We've been driving more than I like for the past several months. That is starting to change as Joseph's wheeling abilities grow. We're trying to find places to go close by where Joseph can wheel most of the way himself and both kids can have a chance to get their wiggles out. We also try to meet friends around town regularly. One favorite destination is the National Gallery of Art. Joseph does like art but I have a feeling that his favorite part of that museum are the huge expanses of uninterrupted smooth marble floor. We've been yelled at by guards (even though Joseph has never bumped anything) who then stand off to the side and just stare in awe as Joseph zooms around spinning in circles and never bumping anyone or anything.

Not that he's a perfect angel. We have to remind him to look out behind him all the time. The handles on the chair are removable and we have them off as much as possible because they stick out really far and are a real hazard in crowds. He's also not very good at following voice commands such as, "Joseph! Stop! There's a car coming!" We have a lot of work to do in the traffic safety department.

The best thing about the wheelchair, by far, is that we get to go to the head of the line everywhere we go. I'm just kidding. The best part is that Joseph can interact socially in a very age-appropriate way. On Sunday mornings, for example, we head down to the parish hall for donuts and coffee. Joseph eats half a donut and then takes off to play with the other kids. He can chase them and run from them and get right up to them at eye-level and he has a blast. We went to IKEA last weekend and Joseph decided he was an ice cream truck driver and gave out ice cream cones to all the other customers. We love to watch him be a regular kid.

There are challenges, of course, to having a kid in a wheelchair. The chair takes up half the space in our trunk. Our apartment is too small for us to give Joseph total access to toys and materials. He can't carry things very well (though he's getting good at one-handed wheeling). He's getting almost too heavy for me to lift--but we're working hard at teaching him to transition in and out of his chair to various surfaces. But mostly Joseph is just a normal kid with a very cool way of getting around. We've found that, on the whole, fitting a wheelchair into our life requires far less effort than we thought it would.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for awhile because Eric told me I couldn't publish a wheelchair post without some wheelchair pictures. But Joseph is hard to get while wheeling. I took some on an outing last week. We got together with our friends Emily and Andrew and the Bartel Family. Clare and Kate Bartel are good friends of Joseph and Margaret. Here they are watching a mama pigeon and her two babies:

Margaret, who is usually shy, clung to Clare the whole time the kids were playing:

And, finally, the whole group that evening. These friends have been our "A List" social network for the last six years. Andrew is moving to take a teaching job and we hope that we will be, too. We went out for a last hurrah at a favorite restaurant. The weather didn't exactly cooperate but the kids had fun in the light rain. These friends will be dearly missed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ever wonder what Margaret actually looks like?

So did we. This is what we usually see:

My mom visited for Mother's Day weekend and Margaret consented to let Grandma put her hair up.

Look at that cutie! I couldn't resist putting up all three pictures.

Aunt Laura, a big favorite with both kids came for the day as well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Doctorandus Eric Johnston.

Eric defended his dissertation yesterday afternoon. He was told that one is supposed to pretend to be at least a little nervous but he had no trouble summoning up actual anxiety for the occasion. He wasn't really concerned about failing--your board is supposed to make sure you don't get as far as the defense without a good product--but it is possible to fail. And, more, the five-person examination committee is supposed to be tough on you. They don't call it a defense for nothing.

Eric's committee, however, spent two hours telling him that he'd done excellent work and encouraging him to publish the dissertation. I brought the kids to campus and met Eric for the post-defense champagne. His committee was very complimentary of Eric and there was much joking about how relieved I must be. I've heard horror stories about what wives of Ph.D students have had to endure but I can't really complain. But I am relieved.

Joseph is calling Eric "Dr. Daddy" but the committee was very emphatic that Eric is not to be called "Doctor" until the degree is conferred which, unfortunately, can't happen until October. CUA does not have summer graduations and Eric missed the spring deposit date by three days. He already had convinced his committee to put an extreme rush on the defense in order to finish this semester so getting those few days really was impossible. One of the professors decided that the proper title in the meantime is "Doctorandus" a Latin construction meaning "to be doctored." And Eric wants me to be sure to note that the above picture was taken this morning as he left to give a final exam to his students. He dressed up more nicely for the defense.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Benedict XVI

I don't know if the visit of Pope Benedict XVI has been big news in the rest of the country. Living in Washington we are always surprised at what seems like a big deal to us and is barely on the radar of friends and family outside the Beltway. But even if your local news isn't running 24-7 papal visit coverage this is, really, a big deal. The last time a pope came to Washington was in 1978, I think. I tried to look that up but I don't have time for lots of googling right now. John Paul II came to the US five times in 26 years, anyway. This was Benedict's first visit and most of you probably know that after spending a few days with us here he left for New York this morning.

Our family really had good luck in the ticket department. Every diocese in the US got tickets to one of the stadium masses and our parish had 65 that went into a random drawing. We only won one but, somehow, they found three more for us. The Mass was a long morning: we left at 6:30 for a 10:00 Mass that lasted two hours. But it was a great time. The kids did really well. The new Nationals Stadium here in Washington is very nice--it's only been in use for a few weeks--and we had fantastic seats so we were able to people watch down on the field. We saw the priest who baptized Margaret briefly (he lives in southern Virginia) and an old friend from the National Shrine who had the job of master of ceremonies for the Mass. Joseph loved seeing the procession of bishops all in red. Most of all it was wonderful to see the Holy Father in person and attend Mass with him. Here are a few pictures of his arrival in the stadium and the general set-up of the Mass:

We were also offered, at the last minute, tickets to get onto the CUA campus to view the Popemobile ride between two different talks Benedict was giving. We were pretty tired after being out all morning and getting lunch and getting home but we wanted to try to get a closer view of Benedict and we knew that the campus atmosphere would be very festive and fun and we wanted to be there with our friends. It was a pretty good party and our closest friends were all there. Lots of kids were running around and Joseph and Margaret got to play outside. We were all gathered on the lawn outside the National Shrine and many had brought guitars and drums. Benedict came by and Joseph got a great view from atop Daddy's shoulders. My view was a bit obstructed but we still saw him pretty close and had a great time visiting with everyone. I was holding Margaret in a crowd so I couldn't also get a picture of that sighting. But Margaret had a great time playing with our friend Emily.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Margaret at rest

My mom suggested I take a picture of Margaret sleeping so that you could all see what she actually looks like. But the last thing I ever want to do is risk waking Margaret so I'm not going to do that. I searched my photo archives and found two in the last month where she was keeping relatively still.