Mother & Son Week

Whether or not we’re parents, we were all kids at one time or another.  All of us stretched our wings and pulled away from the nest in ever-widening circles.  The boy has been doing that the past few years.  We like his friends, are proud of his choices, and yet…occasionally, the dh and I miss the way it used to be.

I got a taste of days gone by last week.  The boy and I went to Washington, DC, so he could apply for a visa to study abroad.  This was the trip with the infamous car trouble, which Jeanne and her mechanic stepped up to fix so we could get home.  We took the car to the garage first thing, and then the boy and I headed into the city with Jeanne’s dh as our guide.

The visa process took mere minutes, so we headed down to the National Mall to see some of the sights.  Just as a note here, if you go to DC, don’t forget your sunscreen.  I did, but I didn’t worry about it.  What tourist mecca doesn’t sell sunscreen virtually everywhere in the summer?

Um…our nation’s capital?  We tried at the Washington Monument (no luck), a kiosk across the street (closed for the next half hour), a street vendor (didn’t sell it but graciously allowed us to use his), and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (none in the main gift shop, but we lucked into a tube in the basement).

DC2014_VNWallOne of the things I most wanted to see was the Vietnam Memorial, and I didn’t want to shuffle past it with a mob.  I wanted to be able to walk up to it, go back and forth along it, and think about what I was seeing.  One of our family doctor’s sons (much older than I was, so not a buddy of mine) died in Vietnam.  I wanted to find his name, and with the assistance of a park ranger, I did.  There’s a battered book you can consult where the wall’s two halves intersect.

It was very moving, the dark stone, the memorial bouquets laid against it, and the people staring up at the names.

DC2014_Geese1From the Wall, we walked down to a reflecting pool, where we bought some water and sat on a bench in the shade to drink it.  Suddenly, we heard a lot of loud honking.  A massive gaggle of Canada geese rushed over the grass, across the walkway, and into the pool.  We called this the Blitz of the Goose Commandos.

Some of the geese, however, were not so sure they wanted to take this plunge.  A bunch of them hung back near the water’s edge.  This apparently infuriated one of their peers, who hopped out of the water and bit one of the holdouts on the tail before jumping back in.  Seriously.  Why this goose got behave this way, and with no retaliation, we had no idea. Whatever the reason, it did not spur any of the reluctant geese to hop in.

Here are the reluctant ones:


One thing that was cool about traveling with the boy was that he’s an adult now, able to decide what to do and figure out how to get where we need to go.  I had a folding map.  He had a map on his phone, and his was more helpful than mine.

When the car was acting up, I didn’t have to worry about taking care of a toddler if the car broke down.  Instead, I had a someone in the shotgun seat who could help me deal with any problem if need be.

DC2014_LincolnTo get out of the sun, we walked up to the shade behind the Washington Monument.  I’d never been up there before and didn’t realize what high ground it was.  We had a great view of the Lincoln Memorial from there.  Also the Capitol and the top of the White House.

Those fountains in front of the Lincoln Memorial are part of the World War II Memorial.  When we walked by there, the boy took a photo of me in front of the column honoring the Phillippines.  My father was born there and joined the navy there, after Pearl Harbor.

DC2014_YeagerEventually, with a conversation with Jeanne’s mechanic en route, we reached the Air & Space Museum.  They had three external doors open on the Mall said, but only one bag check station.  Yes, one.  Many foreign visitors joined hordes of our fellow Americans in demonstrating our national preference for surging masses over an orderly line.  We did eventually get inside, though, and we had a great time poking around.

Here is Chuck Yeager’s plane, Glamorous Glennis, in which he broke the sound barrier.  We also wandered through a duplicate of Skylab, walked through an old TWA jet, and admired the Spirit of St. Louis despite wishing Lindbergh had not been so pro-Germany in the lead up to World War II.

There was a great exhibit on aviation in World War I.  I was nattering on about the war, telling the boy (a huge LOTR fan) about Tolkien’s service on the western front, the Battle of the Somme, etc., when the boy stopped me.

“Did you say Tolkien fought in the war?” he asked.  When I nodded, he said, “Come look at this.”

He pointed to a poster showing French anti-aircraft soldier watching the sky for German planes.  I took a picture but I couldn’t get a clear one.  Alas, but I didn’t realize something had flicked the camera setting off “auto”). The caption above the poster was “They shall not pass!”  Seriously.  We loved it!

If you’re not a LOTR freak and so don’t get this, don’t worry about it.  “You shall not pass!” is what Gandalf says to the Balrog on the bridge in Morder right before smiting the bridge with his staff and breaking it.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was locating the actual Enterprise from actual Star Trek in the basement gift shop.  The boy took a photo of me, but the camera difficulties made it blurry.  I do wish I’d thought to check the setting!  Anyway, here is a photo I took that turned out more or less okay.



After that, we headed back to Jeanne’s to get the car.  We remain deeply grateful to her and to her fabbo mechanic for getting it fixed.  It ran like new on the way home.

HeroesCon2014_HoursWe finished out the week, the boy and I, by going to the HeroesCon comic book convention in Charlotte.  After so many years of going to cons, I have pretty much everything I care about that isn’t totally out of reach (not that I wouldn’t love to own Action Comics #1, the debut of Superman, or Detective Comics #37, the origin of Batman, but let’s be real!).  I like to wander and look around, though.

Shown at left is the pillar with the con’s hours, which I photographed because I love Supergirl and Batgirl, who actually had some joint adventures at one time.

I didn’t discover the camera issues until after the con.  I knew I was having trouble with it, but it never occurred to me (no idea why!) to check the setting.  This is unfortunate because the boy is into cosplay (attending dressed as a character) and made an amazing Magneto outfit, and I took scads of photos, only a few of which turned out.

Anyway, here he is facing off against Darth Vader in the booth of the 501st Legion Carolinas Garrison (stormtroopers).


And here he confronts Iron Man, a perfect opponent for a villain whose power is based on magnetism.


HeroesCon2014_N&KryptoI wasn’t in costume, but I did have on my Superman shirt.  It seemed the perfect thing to wear to have my photo taken with Superman’s dog, Krypto, in the DC Comics Petting Zoo.

One of the pleasures of attending a con is the level of energy and excitement in the room.  Most people are there because they love some aspect of what’s being celebrated.  There was a sort of cosplay hangout near one of the stages, and people were taking pictures of those in costume.

Several people stopped the boy to ask if they could be photographed with him or could take his picture.  In cosplay circles, that’s a sign the costume is a hit.

HeroesCon2014_RFradonI also got to meet someone I’ve long admired, artist Ramona Fradon.  She worked in comics in the late Golden Age and early Silver Age, when women were just not in that field.  She revamped Aquaman and helped create Metamorpho, the element man.  According to one source online, she was the first woman to work on a superhero comic.

There she is, at left. She was so friendly and gracious.

Sorry it’s blurry. The moral of this story is “Always check your camera settings.”  With my old 35mm film camera, I had to do that every time.  I tend to trust the digital point-and-shoot, obviously more than I should.

The boy and I had a great time wandering the Dealer’s Room.  Part of the fun for me was watching the reception he got after all the hard work he put into that costume.  The breastplate is constructed in layers, and the helmet is in segments.  It took him days to put all that together.  A coworker of the dh’s made the cape.

What about you?  Have you ever done cosplay, either at a con or for Halloween (yes, childhood counts)?  What was your favorite costume?  

What was your most recent trip with someone close to you?  What were the highlights?



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  • Amy Conley says:

    Ooks like he’s staying another day.

  • Amy Conley says:

    earlier this month we took grand number 2 to Vay for the first time. grand number 3 was waiting for us and we had an amazing time. the best part was taking them to the Outer Banks being on the beach with them as I have water babies. and we all set to come on a pirate ship and that was wonderful it was beyond my wildest dreams with them. plan to do a lot more traveling with Grandma you this summer. wish we could take one with us that his mother won’t allow it.

  • Nancy, what a fantastic trip. I have very fond memories of Washington – and not just because I got to stay with Jeanne and her wonderful family (longer than originally planned given that horrible Marriott where RWA was being held refused to honor my booking but that’s another story!). I adored the museums – I went right through the National Gallery. What a brilliant collection – they’ve even got a Leonardo! I loved it so much I went back in 2010 and saw the Hope Diamond and the even more sparkling Jeanne. I’d love to go back to DC one day and take my time seeing ALL the museums. And they’re all FREEEEEEE!

    I’m actually taking off on a trip this weekend. Down to freezing Melbourne to see some writer friends and an exhibition of Renaissance art at the NGV.

  • Helen says:


    What a lovely post and it is always so lovely when you get to go out with your kids I have 4 kids and I often have times when I am with one of my kids at home but we don’t often go out by ourselves it is usually with a big group of us to a picnic etc and no I have not done a lot of dressing up 🙂

    Have Fun

  • Annie West says:

    Nancy, it sounds like you had a fabulous time! Isn’t it wonderful to spend time with one of your grown up kids? I always feel like it’s a special treat. There’s that close relationship but with a different slant.

    My most recent ‘family’ trip was a couple of weeks travelling with my husband after I attended a reader convention in Berlin. It’s been a while since we travelled together without any children and it was lovely spending relaxed time together and experiencing new places – amazing how often our reactions were similar!

    • Annie, thank you. Traveling with him is so much easier now that he’s grown, and not only because we don’t have to load up like the Okies leaving the Dust Bowl. I’ll never forget how gobsmacked I was when he was in high school and initiated a discussion of The Great Gatsby.

      A reader event in Berlin sounds so cool! I hear romance is huge in Germany.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Nancy, one of the great joys of my life now is travelling with my kids. Since they’re all grown now, they are a real delight! Much as I loved them as youngsters, they are now all self-feeding and can go do things without me if they choose to or need to. It’s like Heaven!

    Plus, they are all very curious and knowledgable, so we learn things from each other. Fun for everyone! I really look forward to visiting with my son once he is all settled into his new digs in NYC. It’s one of my favorite places and I know he will find a ton of cool/quirky places for us to check out. I can’t wait!

  • Shannon says:

    I don’t have family nearby so joint road trips are the exception. I do have to older women friends. We decided to go to the National Greenhouse and then on to the Capitol. I had planned a six hour trip, instead it was closer to 10 hours. They had to stop and read every sign. Our next expedition is going to be to Hillwood House. There’s history of jewel exhibit there that I want to see.

    About sunscreen, you need to know what the locals do, there’s a number of CVS stores about two blocks up from the Mall. I know there’s one at Archives Metro stop and I think there’s another near McPherson Square which isn’t far from the White House.

    As for costumes, I have two different ones for the Renaissance Fair. One is a lady’s outfit with scarves to cover my short hair. The other is a plain skirt and a peasant blouse and an apron. I hike up part of that skirt with a pin so that it’s easier to walk.

    • Shannon, thanks for the tip on CVS. Your trip with your friends sounds fabulous. I would love to see that jewelry exhibit. I read every sign, too. The dh is okay with this, but I suspect the boy sometimes wants to move along.

    • I forgot to say that one of the things we enjoy about RenFaire is looking at all the costumes. Do you work there, or is the costume just for fun?

      • Shannon says:

        The costume is just for fun. There’s a couple of food vendors that are charitable groups that run a stand for one weekend. I probably should start looking for a group that does that. It would be so cool to see behind the scenes now that I’ve done the just for fun visits.

  • Deb says:

    Nancy, what a great time for you and your son! I’ve been to Washington, D.C. when I had a meeting to attend, and the director of the organization extended the trip by a day so I could see some sights. I loved the Lincoln Memorial at night, and it was amazing that 3,000 people were so quiet and respectful.

    Hmmm, I haven’t really dressed up in costume in recent years….and even my daughter hasn’t done so for 2 years. That was quite neat…Cleopatra.

    Love your Superman t-shirt. 🙂

  • Mozette says:

    Actually, I wanted to do this kinda thing for my birthday last year for my 40th… but my brother and his girlfriend did a costume party for his 42nd birthday. I mean, what is the meaning behind a 42nd birthday? He’s no fan of Douglas Adams and isn’t a Dr Who fan either… so it was just a birthday party… and I had been planning my birthday party for 6 months and they pulled his together in 5 seconds flat! 🙁

    This year, I talked to my folks and said I wanted a costume party last year but it seemed the idea of mine was shoved to one side by my brother and his girlfriend. Mum didn’t believe me, not until she asked them; and they said it didn’t look like I was going to do anything about it. My folks weren’t pleased. You see, to kicked up a stink because nobody in my family knows my friends – not any of them – and I wanted my 40th to be for my friends to get to know my family.
    I’m an open book – but my family doesn’t seem to want to know my friends. It’s very disheartening when you find out your on the outer with a lot of things in your family.
    So, this year, I’m going to have a cosplay superhero costume party… and seeing my birthday lands in October, it’ll be perfect for a Halloween Party! We’ll see how it goes… I’ll put down the date and if nobody likes it, they don’t have to come.

    You’re so lucky you live where you do! Washington looks like a great place! I’d love to see those monuments and all those places in your great city! 😀

    • Mozzetta, I’m sorry your family isn’t more in sync with your taste. Sounds as though your friends are, though! I
      I hope you get your party and it’s great!

  • gamistress66 says:

    sounds like you had a nice time all in all. I had a good chuckle reading about the goose getting goosed 😉

    • Gamistress, we has a great time, car problems notwithstanding.

      The geese really were funny–aside from the biting episode. As we were walking on, another wave of them blitzed the pool, this time apparently fleeing a guy riding a mower.

  • catslady says:

    Not the most recent but your blog reminded me of the trips I took with my two daughters, separately. When in 6th grade they each took a trip to D.C for about 4 days and I was one of the volunteer moms. I had never been so I really enjoyed it and having my daughter(s) with me made it special. Since we were such a large tour we got to see many things and it was nice to have a guide explain things. We also had some free time to pick a few things we wanted to see.

    • Catslady, how great that you got to go with your daughters! When the boy’s class went to DC, they needed dad chaperones desperately, so the dh took that trip.

  • Nancy – Sounds like you had a memorable trip.

    The last time I took a trip with my daughter was down to RATG a number of years ago. I remember we plotted the ending to Redeeming the Rogue on the way home. I remember taking driving trips with my son when he was younger. I made him read the map and tell me how to go. LOL I thought that I was teaching him valuable lessons. Obviously, this was before GPS was available on one’s phone 🙂

    • Donna, what a great trip to take with your daughter! I love your idea for teaching your son to read maps, and I’d bet he still can, GPS or no.

      We resisted letting the boy have a GPS until he learned to read maps, but now he has a smartphone. I suspect that battle is effectively over.

  • Becke says:

    What a fantastic trip! And I love DC. Glad you and your boy had fun.

    Hmm, last trip with adult children. My daughter and I took the tribe to Disney World and my son joined us. What a hoot. We each slept with a little one and played musical kids at the park.

    Another time, my son met us in Monument Valley for a day horseback ride into the interior. We had a lot of fun.

    Costumes…hmm. My bestie and I rigged up bed sheets as capes on our backs and then had sword fights on horseback. Not quite sure who we were supposed to be. Maybe Roman gladiators. Who knows? The horses were tolerant and we thought we were very cool.

    • Thanks, Becke! Disney with a tribe sounds great, if exhausting. Little kids make such fabulous memories.

      I envy you the fabulous riding trips you’ve taken. I’d love to see Monument Valley, with or without horses.

      Sword fights on horseback, seriously? That would’ve been cool. Y’all must’ve been very confident in the saddle.

  • Alyn says:

    I haven’t traveled anywhere recently that I would consider out of the ordinary. The last time I did some traveling for fun was a trip to New York. It was very poorly planned. My husband and I almost missed our flight because long story short, two people decided 15 min. before we left to go to the airport that they wanted to look extra good.

    I have always wanted to go to a comic con. I never did cosplay before but I’ve seen some amazing ones in pictures!