We were scheduled to return home from Washington, D.C. on April 2. As we not-so-patiently waited for the blossoms to pop (that's literally the verb the park rangers and all other people at the Tidal Basin use - "pop"), we toyed with the idea of extending our trip. But we thought the cost must be astronomical.
Our flight left in the evening, so we extended our check out and headed out to see a few things before leaving. We went to Arlington and watched the changing of the guards. Lou Lou was miraculously quiet, and it was - simply put - awe inspiring. Such strength and reverence.
As we headed back to the hotel, we started what iffing. What if it cost less to extend this trip than to chance it next year and try again. And next year, we'd have to pay for Lou Lou's bony butt as well. So I called up good ol' Delta and asked. When the cost to extend per ticket was surprisingly low, we had a mini pow wow, and decided that yes, we'd stay. My only condition was that we find a washer and dryer because those green pants you see me in in every photo? That's no joke. Also, the pee. Lou and the pee. That's all I have to say.
We also asked our hotel if we could extend our stay. They said yes, and named their price, which was a little high, so we said we'd consider. When we called back to do it, they said, "Just kidding. We're booked tomorrow, but you could come Thursday." Well, that's useful. So during a very stressful hour, we packed our stuff up and parked it in the lobby. Jess got online and rented a car, and while he shuttled to the airport to pick it up (we stay in Crystal City, two minutes from the airport), I found a hotel near Mount Vernon.
Just before Jess returned, Lou, who with her sister had been wreaking havoc on the hotel lobby for an hour straight, asked for her blanky. I went to reach for it in the normal spot, and it wasn't there. It wasn't anywhere. Panic. That's what started coursing through my veins. I immediately went to the front desk, and they escorted me to our room to look. It had already been cleaned, and that precious blanket was most definitely NOT there. They told me to wait at the front desk and ask to talk to house keeping.
As I stood there waiting, a tall, friendly man - Charles - stopped to ask if he could help me. Maybe it was the sad baby on my hip. Maybe it was the almost tears in my eyes. But he happened to be the regional manager, and he went on a hunt. He spent twenty minutes searching the spots that he could. With no luck. He took my phone number and told me he would find it. He told me he knew how important it was, and he would find it.
I went out to the car, retrieved the back up blanket I'd packed (yes, I bring a back up), and gave it to Lou. "Banky?" she asked. I started bawling. It's the only thing she loves. And my mom made it for her. It's worn and it's tattered, and the pink L in the corner is almost faded to nothing, but it's hers. The one thing in the world I allow her to keep all for herself. No sharing required. I pulled it together as quick as I could as I had a little Lou saying, "Mommy sad?" and assured her we'd find it.
Jess quietly motored the car to the National Zoo. We had a few hours before closing, and it seemed the perfect place to walk the stress of the day away. The girls went crazy over the water animals. While we were there, my phone rang. It was a Virginia area code, so I answered immediately. "I found it!" That Charles hadn't stopped looking, and he'd found her blanket. I could've kissed him.
We finished up at the Zoo, stopping at the panda exhibit. When there were no pandas to be seen, the girls spent a half hour talking to the panda statue and climbing in his lap. And Jess and I stood and counted our blessings. Especially the two little brown-eyed blessings before us. And the blessing of that blanket.
By the time we got home that night, we had two very worn out girls. And both with their blankets.
I took a suitcase full of dirty clothes up to the coin op washer and dryer, narrowly beating out a Southern man with an accent thick as honey and an armful of dirty tighty whities. But with clean clothes and two blankies, we went to bed happy. And ready for more.
Stay tuned. ;)