Monday, April 28, 2008

Movin' up a few decades...

So, after visiting the late 1700's one day, I jumped a few decades and was off to re-visit my college years by returning to Provo to visit my little brother and some college friends. I wish I had taken more pictures... but the time just flew by!

As the plane flew by the "Y" on our way into the valley all these memories came flooding into my mind and I was excited to be back to where I called "home" for 5 years. (Yes, I was on the extended plan for graduation). :)

My experience at BYU was literally life-changing. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to learn and grow academically, personally, and spiritually. And, the friends I made there continue to still have a profound impact on my life. I am TRUE BLUE through and through!!! GO COUGS!!!!!!!!

I was sad that I had to pass by one of my good friends as our airplanes traveled in opposite directions (Robyn: hopefully I can see you when I come out again!), but I did get to stay with Nancy and have lunch with Catherine and her cute little daughter, Ellie. This is a picture of us at my new favorite restaurant, Zupas. I had lunch there both days with different people, but it's GOOD!

I took some time to walk around BYU. It is such a beautiful campus. I was awe-struck by the new Hinckley Alumni building.

I was fortunate to do be able to attend the Provo Temple with my younger brother.

There were very few items on my list of "have to's" while I was in Provo, but a movie at Movies 8 (a dollar theater) and dinner at Cafe Rio were MUST's! Nancy and I saw "Definitely, Maybe" (and I don't recommend it), but dinner from Cafe Rio was better than I remembered. It's embarrassing for me to admit how many times I saw "Rush Hour" at the dollar theater during my freshman year in a two week time period... but man, those were the days!

I had such a great time visiting with Nancy, and her husband Josh, as well as seeing friends (some expected and some totally unexpected!) I never imagined being out there and seeing it snow, but it snowed on the day of graduation. No longer can I complain about Boston's long winters!

Although my time there seemed short, I was very excited for my next destination, Seattle. A family reunion to celebrate my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. 65 YEARS!!! I can't even imagine that... and my grandparents didn't believe it either :) ... more on that to come.

Could I have lived in the 1830's...?

The first "real" day of my fabulous vacation:

I was lucky to have my mom come and visit over Patriot's Day weekend. Did you know people actually celebrated this holiday? I didn't until I moved here. (For those of you who are wondering what this day celebrates, this is a day commemorating the beginning of the revolutionary war—“the shot heard around the world”—in Concord, MA. The Old North Bridge is in Concord, and this is the place where the first shots of the revolution were fired and where the first casualties occurred. There were a number of miscalculations and misinformation surrounding these event such as the British weren’t going out to Concord and Lexington to destroy the colonists, but to get additional supplies. Also, there were not hundreds of colonists waiting for the British in the Concord woods..., and so on. Because the local militia refused to lay down their arms and let the British in to claim the goods, the fighting began. The rest is history. And, if you're still clueless as to what I am talking about, please come visit me in Boston and I'll walk you through the ENTIRE thing. There are so many sites and re-enactments dedicated to this! Also, the Boston Marathon has also become a yearly part of Patriot’s Day celebratory activities.

Anyway, for most Bostonians, this is a day off. For schools and teachers, this is the start to a spring break (week)! (Mind you, we also had a winter break in Feb. for a week... but who's complaining? I'm surely NOT!) So, my mom came to visit me and to spend time with my grandfather. That always means I get to go eat at the Cheesecake Factory and the beloved "99 restaurant" :) (Please note the sarcasm with the word "Beloved").

To top off the weekend, my mom has always mentioned going to Old Sturbridge Village which is almost on the border of MA and CT. Patriot's Day seemed like the perfect day... and we were right. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for our outing.

Old Strubridge Village is a place where you "come face-to-face with the past and the events that shaped life from the late 1700s to early 1800s. The Village will catapult you into a country town, where everyday life was a series of struggles and triumphs.... [you become a] part of history as you journey into rural New England." And, it was AMAZING! (Plus, I also have to note that MA teachers get in for FREE any day and any time... so if anyone ever wants someone to go with them, I WILL!!)

I can't stress enough how perfect and interesting this day was. Upon entering, we were greeted by these musical soldiers (you can tell their musicians by their instruments, but also by the gold stripes across their chest). We were just in time to march with them into the center of the town and participate in the morning flag raising where we learned about the history of the flag.

You can see the flag pole in the distance (in the center of the commons). This is a picture from the center meetinghouse that was at the end of the commons.
My mom and I standing outside one of the barns owned by a farmer.
These are pictures of my mom and I at the far end of the village by the stream. We got to see demonstrations from the tin shop, the cider mill, the printing office, copper shop, blacksmith shop, etc. We also got to watch them make real gingerbread, and BUTTER (you wouldn't believe how much butter they ate in their diet... and trust me, it wasn't the "Smart Balance" brand!) and simple crafts they would have had during that time period.

The village had just welcomed in some new lambs a few weeks before. I was fortunate to make a new friend :) They were soooo cute!

We also got to walk through farm houses and local homes of that time period. It was so interesting to talk to those who would have lived there and learn all about their lives. What did they do with their time since they couldn't blog at night?!! Well, I found out and it was SO INTERESTING!!!

My ABSOLUTE favorite place to visit was the schoolhouse where we got to sit through a "lesson". As one who works in a school, I was captivated by what I learned and experienced.

Now, here's the quiz. In one of the houses we got to see replicas of what the occupants would have worn. Only in Boston would you see something like this... What's wrong with the picture below??? (answer at the end)

My visit was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. The volunteers were so nice and knowledgeable and almost everything was "hands on" or something you could experience for yourself. For a few moments, I truly felt like I was a part of them!

So, as we were leaving, I asked myself... "Could I have lived during this time period and survived?" The answer is a big FAT "NO", but it sure is nice to visit for a few hours and I will forever admire and revere those who did live then. :)

(answer to picture question: Do you think the men wore RED SOX hats during the late 1700's? Doubtful, but the colonists insist they did :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The new me :)

Not because I planned it, but I realized today that I made two new resolutions or changes in my life. (I should have made about 100 changes in order to make me a better person, but let's not get out of control here!!)

I love my car.... but maybe too much. It's fun, pretty clean, reliable, and comfortable. People say that if you live in Boston, or anywhere just outside the city, you don't need a car. ( I learned today that due to its size, Boston is known as a very accessible city, but it may be that its reputation as a walking city relies on the creation of one of America's first historic walking tours, The Freedom Trail. I've walked parts of it MANY times... but come and visit me and we can do the whole thing :)

To get around, there's the "T" and buses that can take you almost anywhere. I used to take the 'T" every day to work at Harvard Univ.. I have fond memories of cramming into the subway cars when the AC wasn't working, and being closer to complete strangers than I have ever wanted to be while holding my breath till the next stop so the doors would open. Ahhhh.... the "T".

I have friends and roommates who don't have a car and they survive as well. But, I have the excuse that I need my car for my job and thank goodness for that! The school I work in is about 30 min away. But, I realized this week that I am abusing that excuse of having a car for a job and perhaps I love it too much!

Here's why - I live about two blocks from the gym, yet ironically I drive there 1/2 of the time. It's quicker. I also live two and a half blocks from the "T" and all buses, yet if there is ANY possible parking at the place I am going, I'll drive. Well this week I filled up my car and was SHOCKED at the price of the gas. Then I happened to read a very good article about how silly it was to drive some places in the city because you can just walk. It's that simple. Walk. You can read while you walk, listen to your ipod, talk on the phone, etc. Boston's known to be a "walking city" as mentioned above. My uncle lives in the city and doesn't have a car. He literally walks everywhere! It's healthy for you to.

Spring is trying to "spring" here in Boston. We're not quite off the ground yet, but we're sure trying! I decided this weekend that my pocketbook and my lifestyle needed to embrace this idea of walking. So, I started today. I walked to my VTing appt this morning. It took about 30 minutes, but I read and talked on the phone on the way. It was refreshing to breathe in some brisk morning air. Then I walked to two friends houses this afternoon. Granted, it took me an extra 45 minutes (total) out of my day, but I really enjoyed it. So, the new me is going to give this a try... and attempt to be as "city girl" as well.

The new me also got a makeover this weekend!!! Exciting stuff! So, I have a good friend who is a speech therapist by day and a passionate make-up artist on the side! We've talked about having her do my makeup before, but never got around to actually setting a date. Well, no special events happen in my life, so I decided I should get a makeover for stake conference today! It started at 3 PM, so there was no rush in the morning. Here are some pics...

The usual me. I shouldn't be smiling. Good models would have the straight face, right. But, this is me without make-up. And, sad to say that's how I usually look. Sometimes I'll wear eye-shadow and mascara, but that's it.

Then..... this is the NEW me. I asked her to go mild and natural. Nothing to bold, but I did like looking at the pictures in her books with "smokey eyes". Maybe I'll try that someday.

Me right after we're done. The lighting wasn't the best to get the full-picture, but I loved it! She cut back on my rosy cheeks... and the eyes and lips.... loved 'em. Keep scrolling...

Look at those eyes!!! Kind of up close and personal... but THANK YOU Andrea!!!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why I had the best weekend ever!

Two reasons:
1. General Conference (which deserves it’s own posting)
2. This little boy!

Isn’t he adorable?! I could go on and on about how wonderful he is, but I’ll just talk about the lessons I learned from him this weekend.

Jeremiah is 2 ½ years old and the 3rd child of my former boss at Harvard. After Juliette moved on from that position, I have become a part of her family and LOVE spending time with them. They are a true blessing in my life in so many, many ways. (another posting later on this…)

But, back to Jeremiah. His mom and dad, older brother and sister went to D.C. this weekend to be a part of a HUGE family/friend birthday party for both of their grandparents. The schedule and the accommodations would have been difficult for Jeremiah, so they sadly chose to leave him behind. However, I think he had fun!

Miah (as he refers to himself) LOVES to talk and laugh. He’s at that age where his speech is emerging and you can understand the majority of what he says, but he understands basically everything you say (if you keep it pretty simple). Being the youngest in a very active family, Miah loved the one on one attention he got this weekend (and so did I!) He got to choose what books to read, what toys to play with, what Sat. night movie to watch, what to eat for dessert, etc. Normally, he just goes along with the flow and tries to do the same thing as his older siblings even when he can’t because he’s too small or too young. But, that’s lesson #1

#1. Believe in the impossible. To Jeremiah, there’s no “I can’t” or “It won’t work out” or “That will never happen”. Everything is possible…. With a little help along the way.

Miah has a favorite game, where he’ll be really quiet in his crib and then when he sees you come in he’ll jump up with a huge smile on his face and a laugh. Lesson # 2 learned:

#2 Get out of bed each day excited about what the day will bring! Jeremiah has no idea really what will happen that day, but there’s nothing to say it’s not going to be a great day… so why not start off excited about it!

All three kids have some favorite games they play together. I think the top favorite is to run (basically around in circles). No, not tag… just run in circles. Their first floor in their home is basically one room right behind another and they’re large rooms. They start by the front door, run into the TV room, then into the living room, then into the dining room …. Circle around the dining room table and then back out another door down the long hallway that also leads to the front door…. And start all over again. Literally, they could do this for about 30 minutes straight until one collapses from exhaustion. But, the kids are PASSIONATE about this! Lesson #3 learned:

#3 Have passion! Kids in general tackle most activities with passion and reckless abandon. And, while you’re at it… why don’t we spend more time on things we’re passionate about. Instead adults tend to get stuck in unfulfilling lives and careers. We get STUCK. If kids get stuck… you can guarantee they’ll look for help to get out or get themselves out ASAP.

Jeremiah and I did a lot of things yesterday (like a play group, Chuck E Cheese, library, some shopping, some baking, etc.) One of the things I was baking required yellow peppers. Jeremiah watched in awe as I cut it and then was SO excited when I gave him a piece. Then, there was this new toy structure at the playgroup that captivated him for about 30 minutes. Then, we drove through a tunnel and he got SO excited and kept asking to drive back and go through it again. The list goes on and on…Lesson #4 learned:

#4 Get excited about the little things. Find wonder and appreciation in small things. Miah’s favorite word of the weekend was “Cool!” Everything, even the smallest thing that was new to him was COOL!

Miah is a good hugger and likes to give wet kisses as well, but he also loves to get the back. Even when he’s done something wrong and been told “no” or he’s crying because he doesn’t want to go to bed, he’ll stop crying, or pouting when you say “Can I give you a hug?” Or, “I love you!” And, then he’ll just look at you, smile and laugh, and then give you a big hug in return. Lesson #5:

#5: Love and express love no matter what mood you’re in. Life’s too short to be mad, hold grudges, or be unforgiving. Why waste the time and energy?

Yesterday, we went to Chuck E Cheese and I think everyone who lives in Everett had the same idea. It was SOOOO crowded. Jeremiah was over-stimulated and scared by all the people, but DID NOT want to leave. He just wanted me to walk right by his side to everything and be his companion. Sometimes he would walk a few steps ahead, but always turn back to make sure I was there. Lesson #6 learned:

#6: Depend on others and don’t go the road yourself. We’re all here for each other. Some can navigate the way a little easier than others because of their previous experience or age in life. It’s ok to depend on them for help/support until you are able to move on and take the lead yourself.

Well, many more lessons learned, but I won’t forget this weekend and the amount of fun, love and joy that filled my heart! Jeremiah reminded me what it means to LIVE and that is definitely something I had forgotten. I just need to somehow find ways to “escape adulthood” at times ☺