Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Day Out With Thomas!

Well… I have to say that the summer has started off pretty well. My first “official” day with the kids included swimming lessons and then a trip to “Edaville”. Now, I had never heard of Edaville until I started getting this weekly email about things for families to do in Boston.

Here's info on the railroad... in case you're curious.

"The Edaville Railroad is the oldest heritage railroad in the United States and is located in South Carver, MA. It is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge line that operates excursion trains for tourists. It was built by the late Ellis D. Atwood (initials E.D.A, for which EDAVILLE is named) on his cranberry plantation at the beginning of Cape Cod.

Edaville ceased operations in 1991 and the equipment was sold to a party in Portland, ME.
Several railroad enthusiasts fought to resurrect the railroad, and in 1999, the new Edaville Railroad opened for operation. Edaville USA, as it is now known, is a small theme park with cranberry harvesting and railroading as its two main themes. It is a well-known family attraction throughout New England."

For a little boy… this place is HEAVEN. And, I would have to say for a mom (or individual spending time with the kids), this place is pretty great. It’s a small-scale amusement park so you don’t have too much ground to cover, but there’s plenty to keep you busy all day! They also have nice picnic areas, a simple outdoor playground and an indoor one (if it rains), as well as the usual ferris wheel, merry go-round, scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, etc!

As soon as we arrived, we ate lunch and then headed into the park. We were lucky to run into Sir Topham Hatt, (less formally but more commonly referred to as the Fat Controller) right away… Jeremiah was too scared of him though! Leo wasn't. He was all smiles :)
Here are some pictures from our adventures…
Jeremiah holding on for dear life...
Jeremiah - not very happy... took a little warming up to the merry-go-round!

Actually, Jeremiah was scared of every ride as well! But, this place is great in that almost every ride he would go on, I could go on as well. He clung to me for his life (even on a ride as simple and slow as the merry go round!) and he refused to smile until the ride was over, but I thought it was adorable! This might sound a bit weird, but I valued being trusted and sought-after by him. He knew I would do anything to protect him, guide him and keep him safe even though he was experiencing some hard, uncertain, and scary things. I couldn't help but relate this to my life and my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I often feel like I am doing hard, scary or uncertain things... but am I always reaching out for, or trusting in, that protection and guidance I know in my mind and heart he will provide. Or, do I turn him away and try and do it on my own. I know if I had let go of Jeremiah while he was on the merry go round, he would most-likely have fallen off the horse and have been hurt. I know HF isn't pushing me away... but I know I've pushed him away at times seeking my own will and independence. And, yet again, how many times have I fallen and been hurt AND still continue to repeat the same pattern. Jeremiah's learned the lesson well. Why can't I as well?

Finally a small smile from Jeremiah!

He's still a little unsure in of this ride...

Obviously, there’s lots of trains everywhere… some to ride on and some to just climb on. But, the HIGHLIGHT of the day is a ride on the famous “Thomas” train. It’s a real train with GIGANTIC Thomas in the lead and the ride takes you all around the property and the lake. They have different scenes set up like you’re on a real train ride. The conductor comes around to punch your ticket and the kids get a “Jr. Conductor” certificate. Basically, they couldn’t imagine anything better than that.

Another bonus is that we went on a great day. Besides not having much sunshine, the place wasn’t crowded at all. It was a Monday and there were storms in the forecast. BUT, we were so lucky in that it didn’t DROP one single RAINDROP until I was putting Jeremiah into his car-seat at the end of the day. Then – IT POURED buckets as we drove away!! I was so grateful for the timing on that one. And, I won’t believe for a second that it was just a coincidence ☺

This truly was a GREAT day!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What's in store this summer?

My posts today are all out of order... but my thinking in my brain is out of order... so bear with me here.

The end of school means the start of summer for me. Last summer, I had the summer of my life. You know about those summers when you're a "tween" where you go from being a kid to having the best summer of your life and you grow into a more independent "tween"... but really you just remember it because you had the best time and moved beyond the four corners of your yard to explore what else the world has to offer.

Well, that happened for me when I was a "tween" but it also happened last summer. I truly had THE BEST SUMMER! I had just graduated from BU and even though I spend countless hours searching for a job I was able to relax, explore, do things I had always wanted to do, spend time with good friends and family and live in a dream world... and get paid for it! ONE HUGE reason for my amazing summer was the opportunity to watch these three amazing children.

They truly light up my life and bring me so much joy! This summer, the schedule is a bit different and I know things won't be the same as last year... but man, I'm ready to get started. Let's see what this summer has to bring!! Let the fun begin...

Can I just vent for a minute?

Last Thursday marked the end of the school year, and it went out with a bang! I walked in the building that day thinking I would attend a nice breakfast with co-workers and then spend an hour organizing my office and be out of there for the summer.

WOW - was I wrong! I did have a nice, but quick, breakfast with my co-workers, but then I had the "pleasure" of returning parent phone calls regarding their child's placement for next year. Oh my gosh!

So, I get it... I understand a parent's concern, but do they think that as teachers and educators we would purposefully set their child up for failure? I THINK NOT! If they only knew how many hours, PAINFULLY long hours, went into creating class lists, they wouldn't even think to place a phone call to me in despair or anger.

Needless to say, I spent the entire day easing concerns and left in a rush to get home in time for my commitment that evening... and still had a few emails left to send later that night.

I love my job. Love it!! I really do... but days like these I could do without. And, what a way to end my first year. I did it though.




I SURVIVED :) AND, I am quite proud of it!!!


Mt. Wachusetts that is. (You'll understand my title for this post if you've ever heard their commercials on tv)

Anyway - yesterday was fabulous! I went hiking!! It's been almost two years since I've ventured out on a trail and yesterday was the perfect day to do so. Sunny, not too hot, and the trail was only about an hour away so we didn't have to get up early. LOVE THAT!

A small group of us went and that allowed some of us had a very "bonding" experience in the car on the way up :) The hike wasn't very hard but it did have some rocks to climb up and around (nothing like Mt. Manadnock... or however you spell it)... and I am terrible at judging how far we went, but it wasn't too long.

The top of the mountain was kind of funny. I am not sure how I feel about hikes when you reach the top and there are cars there (meaning we could have driven up), picnic tables, power houses and satellite towers all around! It doesn't let you really feel like you're out in the wilderness... but it was a great view. We could see Boston off in the distance and there was a small pond with goldfish in it where we sat down to have lunch.

Boston's there in the distance... I promise!

One of my favorite things about hiking is the random subjects you get talking about with your fellow hikers... you can really get to know someone in ways you never would otherwise! This hike in particular I was taken back to my days in AP Bio, refreshed my knowledge of English Literature, and learned all about a chef's life in the kitchen!

Shelly, Amy and "Spike"

However, I also like walking and not talking. I was in the lead for a bit on the hike and it was nice to just take in the smell and the views as we walked... and to just think. I loved the "fresh" smell of nature, to see the sun shining through the tall trees, and the small animals scurrying about. Beautiful. Just beautiful. It reminded me how grateful I am for the Lord's creation and everything, EVERYTHING, he has put in it.

I am excited to do more hiking... and to see where the trails lead me :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Love them... just love them!!!

Today I had the best afternoon!! I was able to spend some time with my two uncles (Peter and Don), two cousins (Matthew and Danny) and my grandfather for Father's Day. :) FABULOUS!

To be honest, my expectations for this gathering were pretty low. I usually feel like I need my mom or brothers at these gatherings to make more fun for everyone when I'm there as well. One of my uncles is VERY well read and educated, and (although he has NEVER said or indicated this) I feel like I am not able to keep up a conversation with him that would be at his "level" or enjoyable for him. My other uncle is pretty down to earth, funny (and more common folk for my liking!) but growing up his two sons were seven and nine years younger than me so there was always a huge age gap between us and our developmental stages when we were growing up. We never had too much in common at family gatherings... until recently. His youngest son is a junior in college and the other one just graduated from high school.

AND, to top it all off, I GOT TO RIDE THE T INTO THE CITY AND OUT AGAIN FOR FREE. CAN'T BEAT THAT! (Did anyone else in Boston know that the commuter rail is free from Porter Square to North Station?? I just found out yesterday... and it's almost been five years living in this city!)

I don't know what it is exactly, but I feel like we're on more of an even playing field now and have things/experiences in common. On top of that, they're hilarious. It was such a fun afternoon. I didn't want it to end. I am so fortunate to have family living close by in Boston... and especially to spend the special day with my grandfather!!

Change... change is a good thing

I don't know if my blog is the best place to write down these thoughts, but since I don't keep a journal... this will have to do because I want to write it somewhere! (If anyone is reading this and doesn't want to read about some random/mixed thoughts on my life... start scrolling past this!

Embracing change has never been one of the things I enjoy and live for. I usually dread it and sometimes truly fear it! I tend to avoid change when I can control it... which is silly and stupid... but sometimes I have no control over it and that scares me!

One such instance (and this is silly of me, but true)... is that for the past three years I have been serving as the enrichment counselor in my ward. I have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this calling in every way. I loved working with the sisters in the presidency and every aspect of my calling.

I have known for a few months that my release was coming because our president was moving, but almost dreaded, in a way, being released. Everyone kept telling me how excited I must be... and I would smile at their comment, but inside was telling myself how sad I would be! However, because this change was a while in the making, I've been praying to HF to help me make a smooth transition in my life, to embrace the change and move on in a very positive way.

Well, today I was officially released and it I was amazed at how calm and peaceful I was over the past few days and especially today as I have made the transition with the new counselor and with my calling. I have truly felt the Lord guiding me with people and things happening just at the right time and in the right way... it has been an inspiring and faith building experience for me.

I am currently calling-less and I know that won't last for long, but I am excited to see what's next. Truly, I am. And, it's comforting to know I can say with confidence that I know that right now is the best time for me to be released and to move on to the next stage.

Can I request being a sacrament meeting greeter??? I Would LOVE that calling!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cute story

I had to post this story...

In my school there is a little "peanut" of a first grader who is just adorable! Well, yesterday, his teacher announces that they are going to clean out their desks. Less than 30 seconds later, this little boy is at the teachers desk, shaking slightly, saying that he feels really sick. Concerned, the teacher sends this boy, with a friend carrying a waste basket, (in case he threw up on the way) to the nurse.

Well, the nurse has stepped away for a minute so the secretary asks the boy if he feels like he's going to throw up. The boy was hesitant but quietly he said, "no". He still doesn't look very good so she asks him what's wrong. He slowly (and almost with guilt in his voice) says, with his head down, that he feels worried. (now, remember that this is a tiny little first grader who is just adorable!) The secretary asks him why he's worried and if he would like to talk about it. He looks up and says with more confidence: "Yes. Yes, I would like to talk about it." So she tells him she's listening and wants to help. She asks him again what's wrong and he tells her that he's worried because his teacher announced they were going to clean out their desks and he has unfinished work hidden in the back of his desk and he's worried that she would find it!!!!!!

Now, the other funny thing is that his teacher is such a nice, caring, understanding and patient lady. Far from being a tyrant or a mean person. :) Kids are just so funny... and so precious!

Reasons why I love my job :)

There were so many things that happened this week that helped me remember why I love my job so much. There's never been a day this year when I dreaded going into work, but there have been days when I left and wondered why do I love this so much?!

Well, this week was SPIRIT week at Fox Hill Elementary. We kicked it off with an assembly on Monday and everyone wore Fox Hill colors (green and white). I always think it is so neat to see the entire school community together singing the Fox Hill Song! Tuesday was "Colors of the rainbow" day and each grade wore a color of the rainbow. We also had field day (now, it was 98 degrees that day and no breeze, but fortunately only one girl passed out! She was ok in the end, but I will never understand why we didn't postpone it. Fox Hill doesn't have ANY AC. It was brutally HOT when we arrived at 8 am and it's the first time I've ever seen kids stop running or wanting to do the relays, even the water relay, after only one try... because it was SO DARN HOT!) But, we survived and fortunately for me, I was at the water relay :) That was also the day that I literally never stopped sweating. It was beyond gross.

Wednesday was dress up day and there was a special "elegant" breakfast for the teachers! It was fun to get dressed up and see little Kindergarteners walking around with little ties on! Thursday was Red, White and Blue day because it was also Flag Day. We had a very ncie assembly in the morning and had reminders all day long of why we love our flag and our country!

Finally, Friday was amazing!!! We had our spring celebration. I think the music teacher started working on this with the kids back in September. We had an hour long performance by groups of kids, whole grades, individuals, etc and there was lots of singing and revelry! Then, we ended it by all going outside and they had a Maypole... and more songs, awards, etc. Parents were invited to come and it was awesome. It brought tears to my eyes!

Also, this week was filled with classroom performances for the parents. Whether it be an author's breakfast, Kindergarten graduation, or some other creative way to celebrate the work each class did this year, the kids were excited to perform as a class for their parents. I can't really describe the powerful feeling I had watching these precious students perform throughout the week in different capacities. Also, the feeling of community that was there with teachers, students and parents coming together as one. I felt so much pride and joy to be a small part of this community.

And, thinking back to my tedious and sometimes torturous job search last year... when it seemed like NOTHING would work out, at the last minute (two days before I started) I was offered this job. HF knew what was best for me and I learned a lot about myself along the way. It is a gentle reminder to me that the Lord really is mindful of me... and things do work out for the best IN HIS TIME - NOT MINE. But, looking back on this year, I am glad it was HIS time and not mine!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The next generation of Slip'N Slide's!

This is a picture of the new generation Slip'N Slides!

You would never believe that Boston was in the 50's yesterday and that I wore a long sleeve shirt and fleece all day.

(On a side note... it was raining and yet we still went on our field trip to the Farm! Yes, the Kindergarten class at Fox Hill still went to Drumlin Farms yesterday... ponchos and all! Fortunately, it was only misty when we were walking around. But hey, at least the Farm didn't stink like it would if it was HOT!)

Anyway - one of the things about Boston that I have just grown to accept is the crazy weather changes we have from one day to the next. Yesterday was cold and 50... today is HOT and 92!! My wardrobe is now shorts and a t-shirt and AC is on full-time!

What better way to celebrate the start of summer by using a Slip'n Slide!!! My family had one when I was a kid... but it was pretty basic. The water didn't shoot very high and there weren't pegs to hold it into the grass, so we were asking to hurt ourselves in one way or another.

But, today, I go to Slip'N Slide and it was AWESOME! (same one as the picture above) I quickly learned I am not as agile as I was when I was seven... but the fun factor is still there. :)

Ahhh.... summer is here!!!

Love my Friday night temple shift!!!

Elder Russell M. Nelson

There are a number of reasons why I love my Friday night temple shift twice a month. Of course I LOVE just having the opportunity to be in the temple and to work with such amazing men and women. But on Fridays I also usually see many of my friends as well.

It also happens that Friday nights are popular nights for VERY special guests to come to the temple once they land in Boston. I've had the opportunity to meet Ann and Truman Madsen, Elder Oaks' wife, Sheri Dew and a few other church leaders.

However, yesterday was an exceptionally fantastic temple shift! I got to meet Elder Russell M Nelson! He's in the area for a stake conference and he is also giving a special Boston Temple worker's fireside tomorrow afternoon (which I am also fortunate to attend!) It was so awesome to be standing outside one of the rooms in the temple and see him walk by with the Temple President and his wife! AND, to have the chance to greet him (Silly me for ever complaining about my assignment sometimes to just greet people in the temple.... I'll do it anytime :)

Just for today...

I ran across this poem in a book I was reading. It sums up what I would like to be more like :) I do try and do some of these things each and every day, but I think if I could really have this perspective everyday my life would be a LOT calmer and I would feel more at peace. I've printed a copy and posted it on my wall at school. Maybe if I read it everyday it will start to seep in. Did I spell seep right? I don't think I have ever written that word before!


  • Just for today I will be happy. This assumes what Abraham Lincoln said is true: 'Most folks are about as happy as they make their mind up to be.' Happiness comes from within; it is not a matter of externals.

  • Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is; not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

  • Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse or neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

  • Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.

  • Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do someone a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two chores I don't want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.

  • Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, speak diplomatically, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything, and not try to regulate or improve anyone.

  • Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

  • Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests: hurrying and indecision.

  • Just for today I will have a quiet half hour by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

  • --- Copyright © Sybil Partridge