Friday, September 21, 2012

Sifting Through Life: Weekend Away to Gettysburg

Work- Work- Work

Does this sound familiar?  It should because I believe that is what most of us spend our time doing.  Working toward retirement, working on a degree, working to pay for a home, working to live and some, working to survive.

I would not trade my job for the world.  I know that my husband would not either.  We both work from home and have jobs that we created and defined for our future.  We challenge ourselves daily to meet new goals, manage our time and still be available for our three kids.

When we are not working, we are shuttling kids to school, dance lessons and swimming.  When we are not chauffeuring kids, we are cleaning and doing laundry.  We have a 50/50 household.  We share the work.

He definitely has his "man" jobs and I have my "woman" jobs, but together we work as a team and try to have our household run smoothly.  This creates a home for our kids that we hope is inviting and nurturing.

 Working from home can be a double edge sword.

It is hard to walk away from the sound of the "ping" telling us we have email updates, or the subtle buzz of our phones that reminds us we have a message.  Our business phone line rings at all hours due to the fact that my husband is often on call.  Work and home are never far away and learning to balance the two can be challenging.  For the most part, we would not trade it for the world.

We were both home for all three of our kids.  We have spent more time together than most married couples have in a life time.   I have struggles with the quality verses quantity formula of parenting and wonder if my time would be more quality if I was not working so much, yet I am here for every meal, every sporting event, every homework assignment, every bounce on the trampoline and so on.  It just means that the normal 8 hour day does not really exist for us.  We work longer hours to get in a full day, we need to finish and wrap things up before it starts all over again at 7am.

Our kids know that we are in and out of our offices from 7am in the morning until 10pm at night but we find ourselves still satisfied and fulfilled.  Tired?  Yes, but it is a good tired.  One that we feel is worth our efforts to provide for our family, fulfill our dreams and make those dreams of our children come alive.

Monday thru Friday doesn't really exist in our world. We work Monday thru Monday with excursions tossed into our schedules.  We try to keep Sunday as a day we do fun things with our family.  Saturdays are a day that we work as a family: yard, leaves, carpets, etc…but are phones are never too far away.

Cory and I try and get away twice a year.  Our anniversary is in April and this is a great time for us to escape.  Then 6 months later we try and do the same thing.  It usually is a last minute decision, we make the time to go for a night, no computers or phones (except kid calls).

24-36 hours away together is enough time to relax, reconnect and explore.  I try to find us places to visit that we have explored before.  We love to be outside.  We enjoy history.  Of course, we love to eat.  Shopping we can take or leave.

In April we visited Annapolis. Yep, kind of boring since this is where we live.  We wanted a chance to be close enough to walk and explore all of the historical sites without "needing" to get back home.  Some might call this a stay-cation…LOL

This time around, we went a bit further.   We headed to the small city of Frederick.  Frederick is located about an hour north of Washington DC.  From our home, it's an hour and a half drive.  The scenery takes you from the water of the Chesapeake Bay to the small hills that head towards the Appalachian Mountains.  The gradual ascent into the cooler air is a breath of fresh air... literally.  The trees have already begun to change color.  The nights remind you that a sweater should have been packed to take the edge of the whisper of Fall away.

The drive to Frederick found us in heavy traffic, beeping horns and impatient drives that eventually led us to the serene country side; leaving us with the feeling that we had entered the town of Mayberry.  In fact, my husband started to sing the theme song when we arrived.

The city of Frederick is full of history, shops and restaurants. We drove to our hotel, the Marriott,  a bit early and were pleasantly surprised when we could check in a few hours before our scheduled time of arrival.  With out much ado, we quickly left and headed down to Market Street.

Along the street we found signs that educated us about the history of Frederick.  Historical markers that reminded us of the year the buildings had been built.  Over 250 years ago this little town was booming with business, families and industry.  Today, you will find a buzz along the streets of Market and Patrick.  These two streets run (Market) North, South, (Patrick)  East and West.  Many of the old buildings are no longer filled with families but have been inhabited by businesses and restaurants, galleries and museums.

Walking the streets of Market and Patrick were exactly what we needed.  A chance to get away, window shop, eat great food and visit.  All of these can be done at home, but not uninterrupted.  LOL

We were looking for the long conversations, moments of silence.  A chance to breathe and possible sneak a thought or moment to ourselves.

Sunday morning we awoke and decided to do something different.  We knew we were close to Gettysburg.  We hesitated if this should be done without our kids.  If felt like a family adventure and something that we knew our older kids should see first hand.  Oh, the decision that needed to be made.  That moment I suddenly felt guilty that we did not bring the kids and then the assurance of knowing that we live close and can return shortly, quiets the doubts and allowed us to move forward with our afternoon.

The moment lasted but a second.  I called and talked to Rye.  Everything was fine on the home front. There was no reason for us to come home, she had everything under control.  Our kids have always been supportive of our date nights and our two weekends away.

Time was getting away from us and we needed to head out.  We found a map, refilled our car and anticipated what we would find upon arriving at Gettysburg.

In history, I think 7th grade, we learned a bit of the Civil War. We knew the names of Lee, Hooker, Grant and Meade.  Vague stories that left you wondering why, when and where?  It all happened so long ago, was it still important.

In Utah I was able, for a brief amount of time, get involve with a group of Civil War re-enactors.  Rachel and Amanda held my hand as I bought my hoops, made my under clothes and hand stitched dresses, bonnets and shawls.  We tried to be as authentic as possible in the 21st century.  We tried to learn about the lives of the women that supported the troops that were at war and sent to war.  We learned quilt patters, bought authentic bowls, shared ideas and laughed.  We took dance lessons and learned the sheet music for our instruments.

I entered Gettysburg with a sense of awe, respect and understanding.   I was not prepared, when I left, for the amount of pain, sadness and history I would experience.  The lives of the soldiers came to life as our guide relived battle scenes, pointed out strategies ,shared failed communications between the regiments.  The times were different.  50,00 plus men lost their lives in a short amount of time. 5000 horses were left on the battlefield to be buried by the towns folk.  A town was left to rebuild and restock.

A town today that you can still see the bullet holes in many of the buildings down town.  Over 1500 monuments stand in place were the different states had set up their battle sites.  Barns and buildings still in pristine appearances.  Letters of sadness, letters of joy.

In the 4-5 years that the Civil War occurred, 600,000+ men would lose there lives.  Farms, Plantations, Cities and towns would be ruined.  President Lincoln would lose his life.  The slaves of the day would gain their freedom.  A new state would be created.  Change was certain to come, work was most certainly ahead for our country.

The work of many would be required to bring the states together again.  To unite the people.  It would take years for some to recover and even longer for the "rights" to finally be granted.

Cory and I were at Gettysburg for 6 hours and in that time we laughed and cried.  We learned of triumph and defeat.  It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Our trip was amazing.  It took us away from our daily work load and schedules.  We were able to visualize a life without the ease that we are so blessed with today.  We were taken out of the comforts of our home for a brief amount of time to sympathize with the young soldiers that were tired, hungry and homesick.

The valor that was displayed amongst the troops on both sides should be noted. My husband has been to war (he served in the Air Force during the First Gulf War) and I have not.  I can't imagine what these men, on both sides, felt or expected.

As we walked back to our car we talked about war.  We chatted about the lives that were lost and those that were saved.  The families that mourned the death of fathers and sons and those that cheered at the homecoming after months apart.  Cory was openly upset at the "selfishness" that war commands of a nation.  I felt that it was not my place to judge.  These people had passion, felt an obligation, they wanted a better future for their kids, they prayed for a change.  They believed in their course of action.  My thoughts are all over the place as I type this.  I want those same things for my kids and if my family and my life were in a similar state, maybe I would do the same thing.  Fight for a chance at freedom.

One thing that life has taught me, is to not judge too harshly those things that have been done by others.  I really do believe the saying that states ,"Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”.

Our drive home to Annapolis was filled with conversations that are too long for this post but are one of the reasons we love our short trips away.  We can reconnect.

Our return was welcomed with hugs and loves from our kids.  We slept good in our own beds ready to wake up early and start our day all over again at 7am.


  1. How completely awesome! thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Melissa. I some times wonder if anyone reads these short snippets into my life, but they do bring a such joy to write. Thank you for your friendship too. It's always wonderful to see a familiar face on our pages. Have a wonderful night.

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