Thursday, December 31, 2009
Even with just the two of us, we kept up some of our traditions (but slacked on some as well). We were also very fortunate to have very good family friends invite us over for dinner on Christmas Eve and for a brunch on Christmas day! They are fun to be with and I really enjoy their company! Our neighbors also had a neighborhood gathering on Christmas Eve, so we stopped by there too. We were very well fed and didn't have to cook a thing!
It was a little quiet without lots of other family around, and not having to cook or clean up from a big dinner on Christmas day, my mom and I decided to go to Longwood Gardens and see their holiday display. We've had friends go for years and tell us how pretty it is, but we've never been! (Briefly: It's 1500 acres of beautiful flowers, trees, fountains, and a conservatory due, in most part, to the contribution by Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954). Because it was winter, dark, and raining, we spent most of our time indoors. The conservatory is a maze of many many rooms with different flowers from varying climates and over all...It's incredible!)
The weather wasn't the best (rainy and cold), but we went anyway! Here are some pics which my camera does not do justice!
You can see in this picture some raindrops in the camera. It was so beautiful watching the show timed to holiday music that we stood there in the freezing cold rain till it was over!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I LOVED being so close to the temple here and being able to attend their "Festival of Lights" a few times! The temple does an amazing job decorating the grounds in LIGHTS! (They even won "best lights" from an NBC4 voting contest this season!) But, every night for about 6 weeks they have different performers come and do a short holiday (vocal or instrumental) concert at 7 & 8 PM. Many people who aren't members come and attend, and it's just a wonderful evening--all for free! The visitor center has nativity scenes from around the world and is fully decorated for the season! I think I went to five or more concerts with different friends. Each one was a great way to end a long work day and feel the joy of the Christmas Spirit!
was making a gingerbread TRAIN with the kids!
They did a GREAT job!
(They're in their pjs... hence naked stomachs.
The boys hate wearing shirts to bed!)
Another recommended "must do" during the holiday season in DC is to go to the Smithsonian Botanic Gardens and see their holiday train display and decorations. I knew the boys would love this... and we brought a friend as well! They had the monuments displayed as you walked into the gardens (see in picture below). The boys love being able to recognize the monuments and buildings!
in the back? Jeremiah will point it out
whenever we see it in the car because
you can see it from almost anywhere in DC!
They had about 20 scenes and the boys loved doing
the "seek and find" they had set up for the kids!
Of course, the trains were a big hit as well!
Moving on... on the way home we stopped to see Santa!
The local pharmacy had him visit.
A simple set-up, but Leo thought he was too old to be there. However, once he sat on Santa's lap he was excited to share his FULL list of what he wanted to the holiday :)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have been able to do more of these "new" things this year because I have the kids part of the time, and I want to enrich their lives (as well as my own!) And, I feel like that has really given me the opportunity to embrace the holiday season this year and actually take a step back and enjoy it! It's made a remarkable difference in my attitude too. I feel like the past few years I was just hoping to "survive" the holidays. It always seemed so stressful! But, this year, a new combination of things and events changed my approach to the holiday. And, I loved it! I even attempted making my Christmas cards this year, even though they were on the "easy" side when it came to craftiness level!
One recommendation for the holidays came from a teacher friend at church. She took two of her students to there and raved about how amazing it was! She was not exaggerating!
I am speechless. My words can not do justice to this exhibit or experience. It was magical!
TWO MILLION POUNDS of ice carved into a walk-through attraction of ten larger-than-life, three-dimensional holiday scenes, including a Nativity Scene with a 25-foot-tall ice angel and a Christmas Castle with ice slides standing more than two stories tall. It's only 9 degrees in there (and yes, they're not kidding!) ICE! is created by dozens of artisans who will migrate to the DC area from Harbin, China. It takes them nearly an entire month of 12-hour shifts to transform the refrigerated tent where the exhibit is held into a remarkable icy wonderland. (Learn more about it's makings here)
The first sculptures you see are of National Monuments in DC! Here's Jeremiah. He knows all the monuments well, by name, and thought this was SOOOOO cool!
We called this the "Happy Feet" scene. And we danced on our happy feet as we walked through! The detail on the penguins was incredible!
I took pictures from 3 sides, but it was breathtaking!
After we left we went to the main building to thaw out. Inside there it's decorated beautifully as well! We got hot chocolate and a cookie and sat in front of the fountain watching a water show timed to holiday music. Then, we went to see their model train display where Jeremiah just stared for 30 minutes at the trains go in and out, round and round the town! Mrs Clause came to welcome us and gave us candy canes and then we rode the glass elevator up 18 flights of stars just so we could look down on this magical wonderland! It was incredible and being there with Jeremiah made it that much more fun and enjoyable! He's a light in my life!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey...delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, & jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas, and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Monday, December 21, 2009
Even in the church, we postpone marriage later and later,
unpleasant dental appointment.
Instead, in marriage, we make ourselves.
You're marrying the man who decides not to have the dazzling career with the high salary, refusing promotions and transfers so the kids don't have to change schools. You're marrying the woman whose body doesn't bounce back after the third baby, so she's no longer slim and attractive by the standards of the magazines.
You're marrying the migraines and the hemorrhoids and the heart attack and the cancer; you're marrying the irritable, forgetful, lazy, thoughtless, sarcastic, distracted, too-busy days as well as the Kodak-happy ones.
You're marrying the one who works with you to raise the retarded or crippled child, or stands with you at the graveside of the child who dies.
You're marrying the one who can't find work after the company folds or he's laid off; you're marrying the early Alzheimer's, the diabetes, the obesity, the pain of conflict and the struggle of forgiveness.
The foundation of that isn't some ideal of romantic love. It's a commitment based on the goals you share. And real love, married love, is not what you start with -- it's what you create together along the way....
All marriages are between strangers. And sometimes it's the boring man who'll make the best husband, the plain woman who'll make the best mother.... Compared to the thick, strong fabric of married love, romantic love is a Kleenex. You can't make anything out of it. It's disposable -- there's always another in the box.
LOVE THESE THOUGHTS...
Now it's the application I need to work on :)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
But, I just remain in SHOCK that school and gov't are canceled tomorrow. I drove here, there and everywhere today. The roads improved and can totally support traffic. If this was Boston we wouldn't even have a two hour delay. People just keep going with their lives. But, here? It's crazy!
I could go insane and stir crazy
if this happened frequently.
Buck up people.
Life needs to move on!!!
May we all be a little more "hardy"
like our friends up north and out west
is my holiday wish this year!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
But, then in "winter present", Boston killed all joy I ever felt about snow. I have nightmares about panic attacks on finding a parking spot on the "odd" side of the street so my car didn't get towed, and then after the storm making sure my car was cleared off within 24 hours or else it would be towed, or finding parking spots days and weeks after a storm because the roads were too narrow and there was never parking to be found. Or, even just the winters in general. The brutal cold and harsh wind that just went through you to your core and never left! Or, what about those many bedrooms I had where I would have frozen all winter long except for the saving grace of space heaters? Yep - I'll admit it. There were many times in Boston where I was Scrouge because of a winter storm that blanketed the ground with ice and snow.
Well, Old Mr. Winter, I REALLY am trying to change my attitude! I thought by coming to DC and having less harsh winters, I could one day embrace the joy I felt as a child in enjoying snow! But, when you start off a winter with a RECORD breaking snowstorm that entirely shuts the city down, it's hard to start feeling that "love for the snow" again! However, my mom did point out to me that I don't have to worry about parking spots, tickets, being towed, etc. And, she's right. That is a wonderful thing. Now, I just need to embrace the idea of enjoying shoveling!!
The ONE thing I do give Boston credit for is its ability to clear the streets during and after a storm. This is something that VA struggles with BIG TIME.
So, trying to change my thoughts and feelings about snow. It is pretty when you look at it from the inside out... but I might feel differently about that in a bit when I have to go out and shovel out my car for the 2nd time today :)
What will "snow future" look like for me? Gosh, I hope and pray it's different than it looks like today :)
Pictures will be posted tomorrow when I get back to my "other house" ...
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I was reminded of a talk on Sunday by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Timing,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 10–17. After re-reading it, I felt like it was so pertinent to my life and that he made some points that I want to read over and over again (as reminders because my memory is so short!) I condensed his comments, so if you're interested in reading more I highly recommend the entire article! I am just posting what's below as easy access for me to go back and read what I thought was most important
"The Lord has His own timetable.... The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable.
As Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said: “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.”...
In our service in the Lord’s Church we should remember that when is just as important as who, what, where, and how. We prepare in the way the Lord has directed. We hold ourselves in readiness to act on the Lord’s timing. He will tell us when the time is right to take the next step. For now, we simply concentrate on our own assignments and on what we have been asked to do today.
It is not enough that we are going in the right direction. The timing must be right, and if the time is not right, our actions should be adjusted to the Lord’s timetable as revealed by His servants....Because of things over which we have no control, we cannot plan and bring to pass everything we desire in our lives.... Important mortal events that depend on the agency of others or the will and timing of the Lord... cannot be anticipated or planned with certainty....
[Our] commitments and service can anchor [us].... [Our] commitments and service can also inspire and strengthen others. Wise are those who make this commitment: I will put the Lord first in my life, and I will keep His commandments....
If we have faith in God and if we are committed to the fundamentals of keeping His commandments and putting Him first in our lives, we do not need to plan every single event—even every important event—and we should not feel rejected or depressed if some things—even some very important things—do not happen at the time we had planned or hoped or prayed.
Life has some strange turns....Stand ready to accept the Lord’s planning and the agency of others in matters that inevitably affect you. Plan, of course, but fix your planning on personal commitments that will carry you through no matter what happens.
The most important principle of timing is to take the long view. Mortality is just a small slice of eternity, but how we conduct ourselves here—what we become by our actions and desires, confirmed by our covenants and the ordinances administered to us by proper authority—will shape our destiny for all eternity."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
It's been a long time since I have been to a professional basketball game, but last night I had the chance to take the boys! Through school, I (as the guidance counselor) received a letter from the Wizards allowing us to acknowledge outstanding students for their hard work! The student received a free ticket to the game and a free dinner, and then their guests got tickets and dinner at a reduced price! So, we gave out the letter to some fabulous student and I decided to nominate Leo as an outstanding first grader! He tries so hard, always has a great attitude about school and homework, and does his best! BUT, he also LOVES sports! This was perfect for him!
So, off we go! As luck would have it, my mom was also in town because my brother and his fiance were in DC for the weekend for a "Welcome Weekend" with his new company (they'll move here in March so he can start!). Their evening activity with the company was to go to the game as well, and so I got my mom a ticket to come too!
We got to the game early and the boys were excited! Besides the basketball, teams always have fun stuff to watch on the court during time-outs and half-time, etc. They were mesmerized! Even after I got the dinner for them, I couldn't get them to focus on eating! Tey just were glued to the game! ... and so was my mom!
Unfortunately, the Wizards didn't have a great first-half. They were never ahead, and sometimes behind by quite a bit! But, it ended in overtime 109-107... they lost to the Raptors. :( It was fun to just be there though! Here are some pics...
So, just wanted to add the last two pictures from Thanksgiving. Leo's personality shines in the one below! He's such an amazing and fun kid!!!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
But, tis the season for gratitude. And I don't have enough of it. I get so caught up when things go wrong, but yet, when things go right it's like fleeting thoughts!
This week in school, I have been teaching the kids about expressing gratitude and how it makes the person feel when you express gratitude to another.
So, this post has been on my mind for a while and I am going to just start listing in no specific order because I realized I can't prioritize these... or it was agonizing to even try and do so:
3. The Sacrament
5. A living prophet and church leaders
6. General Conference
8. My ever patient, ever giving, ever loving angel mother
9. A trusting and loving father
10. Supportive and encouraging brothers
11. Friends of 32/Fab 5 (you know who you are!)
12. Camp Oneka/Red Team
14. A job (or a few jobs right now :)
16. Holidays... when families gather
17. Peace and quiet
19. A strong and healthy body with the ability to run!
20. A curious mind that's capable of learning and growing
21. Good Books
22. Ability to talk and listen
23. Uplifting songs
27. Treadmills and Gyms
28. Water! Warm showers included!
29. Warmth... esp. from the sun!
30. Winter Clothes. QUALITY winter clothes!
31. Space Heaters
32. Comfy Couches
33. Alarm clocks
35. Cell Phones
40. Internet & Blogs
43. Changing leaf colors
44. Desserts! Cereal! Chips! Mexican Food! Ice Cream... mmm... food in general
45. Caffeine ... Diet Coke :)
46. 7/11's and Slurpees
48. Panera Bread
49. The American Flag
50. MY LIFE!!!!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
* I wonder if cops ever get ticked off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit?
* Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
* I wish Google Maps had an 'Avoid Ghetto' routing option.
* More often than not, when someone is telling me a story, all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better- but also more directly involves me.
* The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.
* Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Kids today are soft.
* I think that everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure that I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really really gets it.
* I would rather carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips from the car to bring my groceries in.
* LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".
* Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely terrifying.
* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent someone from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
* MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my own neighborhood.
* Bad decisions make good stories.
* Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they're from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem...
* You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
*Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVD's? I don't want to have to restart my collection.
*I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I didn't make any changes to.
*I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. "I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?"
*I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
* When I meet a new boy, I'm terrified of mentioning something he hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.
* I like all of the music on my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle- then I like about one in every fifteen songs on my iTunes.
* Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...
* As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation- I always hate cyclists.
* Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
* I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
Monday, November 16, 2009
So, imagine my excitement when my good friend from BYU who lives nearby said she was going apple picking on Columbus Day! Now, there aren't too many places within an hours driving distance, but Bekah found one! I would have to say it is the most "ghetto" apple picking place I have ever been to... not like "Phil's Apples" in MA! But hey, all you need are apple trees and a bag, right?
Well, we had fun and as you can see Bekah was a little more adventurous in making sure she got the best apples off the tree!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We tangle up the plans
The Lord hath wrought.
And when we cry in pain He saith,
“Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.”
Author unknown, in Jack M. Lyon and others, eds.,
Best-Loved Poems of the LDS People (1996), 304
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sometimes, it seems like this holiday goes on for forever! Kids start talking about costumes and candy in September, then the pumpkin carving starts in October... and then again in mid-October because the pumpkins rot, more Halloween decorating, and parties and parades even before the big day! This year was no different, but more fun for me because I was more involved in the action of it all with the kids!
Leo had off on Friday so he and I made homemade doughnuts (thanks to a post by Emily with the recipe a few weeks ago!! ) and then we went to Jeremiah's pre-school Halloween parade! I had never been to one before and couldn't believe they actually went and paraded around the neighborhood... but they did! They had people lining the streets to hand out candy and the kids put on quite a show with all their costumes! The weather was cloudy and damp... but at least not raining!
I don't think Jeremiah really understood what was going on either, but was happy to get the candy!
Jeremiah looks thoroughly bored in the back.
It took a lot of convincing to get Jeremiah to pet this goat! He was TERRIFIED of them and clung to my pants for the first ten minutes we were in the caged area. Understandably so because they were about his same height! But, I slowly warmed him up to the idea and I petted the goat first. Since the goat didn't move, he thought it would be OK too! Now you can see a smile on his face in this picture...
Can you see what's missing? How do they do that?
We stood and looked for about ten minutes and could not figure it out!