Saturday, August 28, 2010

July... what a month!

Where have I been and what have I been doing? Gosh – many answers… but much fun was had!I wanted to start with a picture of the street I have known very well for the past year. I say goodbye to it at the end of this post...
Good Ol' "W" Street in Washington DC
and to this house... after I tell you what I have
been up to for the month of July!

July was a very filled month with a very active job search, decisions to me made in many areas of my life, nannying full-time while also helping their family prepare to move, mucho car problems, preparing for and beginning my five weeks of travel… and lots and lots of F-U-N!

Activities with the kids:

I take a little pride in the activities I come up with for the kids to enjoy! I am a firm believer of getting out of the house, away from TV and Wii and learning about or exploring the world around us!

It was STINKIN’ HOT for most of June and July… and the trend is continuing for August... so I am glad I got out! Brutal almost with the humidity. Even the pool wasn’t fun to be at on some days because of the weather. So, I looked for many indoor activities and this is what I found:

House of Bounce!! Love this place and the kids did too. A large room filled with 8 or so different bounce structures.

J being silly
The kids hanging on for dear life
and, relaxing at the end of a slide

Another favorite was the Maryland Museum of Science in Baltimore. This place was INCREDIBLE. I have been to a few science museums in the US and this one tops it all. I loved it and the kids did too. There were so many activities for them and they were really engaging for all of us! I only wish I had discovered it earlier so we could have gone a few times before they moved to Boston. In one exhibit we held these flashlights and moved them as quickly as we could for a minute. This is the picture we created!

Next, I had the boys for a weekend while their parents were away so we did a lot of fun things… like an Eastern Market Saturday morning breakfast, bowling (with Evan, Madison and my mom too!), and then I took them to the Luray Caverns in Virginia. I remember seeing these caverns with my dad on a family vacation when I was probably 8 or 9! They were amazing!

A little history of the caverns can be found here:

Here are some pics from the caverns.

We were given these headsets and you could choose the adult version to listen to as you walked through the caverns or the kid version. The adult version was interesting and thorough, but the kid version was entertaining and FUN to listen to. I enjoyed both and the kid version kept their attention for the hour we were in the cave!

This is a picture of the stalactites

reflecting on the water below.

and, more of the same.
I thought they were so cool!

This was ONE huge one...
hard to tell in the darkness in the cave though!
Well, they also have other attractions… like this old car show, which was filled with life-size dolls. It reminded me a lot of my grandmother who was a HUGE doll collector! The boys went through and chose the car they wanted. They have nice taste!

It was a HOT day but they still wanted to do the Garden Maze there as well. Ugh… I still have nightmares from when I was probably 6 or 7 and my mom and dad sent me through a mirror maze on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ. Of course she sent my older brother and I in together, but he immediately left me!! I wandered for a bit in the mirror maze, but panicked that I would never find my way out and just sat down and cried and cried. Of course, the attendant and my mom immediately ran into the maze to get me and take me out, but I remember the fear and panic I felt while being stuck in there! Needless to say, I was not very excited for the garden maze. It wasn’t mirrors, but still a frustrating process. And, it was HOT. Fortunately they had these water spray things you could walk through, so I did my best to put a smile on my face and get excited for the boys! We made it through!!! Much to my relief.

It was such a great and fun place to visit… and just a perfect weekend with the boys!

Amidst camps, packing, and everything that comes with moving, we hit the pool on days that it wasn’t too brutal out. Here are a few pictures of Jeremiah just enjoying himself! He HATED the water last summer and it was torture to get him to try and learn how to swim, but this past summer he was a fish and didn’t want to get out!!

Celebrating in the pool (above) and being a fish (below!)

Their family also had a very unique opportunity to have a family picture taken with President Obama as a thank you to David for working for almost two years in his position. I helped get everyone ready, so we took some pictures before they left for the White House! The boys were very excited they had gone shopping with their dad and had gotten REAL suitcoats, shirts and Leo even got a real tie that he had to have his dad show him how to tie because I had no idea! So precious!

I thought this picture was so funny.
Just looking at Leo's eyes and Cecilia's face.
I think I caught them off guard!
This one was much better though!
And, I had to get one with the boys in their suits!
So cute!!

Well, the last week the kids were in DC, we really crammed in a lot. They wanted to see all their friends so we did lot of large group playdates, but I had also promised Leo for his birthday in May that I would take him to Six Flags this summer… and we were running out of time! But, on Monday of that week we went to Six Flags America. It was perfect for the two boys, because Leo doesn’t like things that go too fast and Jeremiah doesn’t like things that go too high! So, they played well together in the two little kids areas and we spent most of our time at the huge water park they had there!

Jeremiah had a few really good friends, but he seemed to particularly like Gabe, and to be honest, I REALLY liked Gabe as well! He is a good little kid and he and Jeremiah got along really well. It made my job as a babysitter MUCH easier when they were together because they just had fun and basically entertained themselves!

Well, my last adventure with the boys was to drive them to NYC to meet up with their grandparents for a few days. This allowed their mom and dad to finish with the movers packing up their house, then travel to Boston with the movers and hopefully unpack before their grandparents arrived with all three of them! (Cecilia had been at a sleepaway camp for three weeks so that’s why it was mostly pictures of me and the boys and then her grandparents picked her up the day after I dropped the boys off!)

Well, as luck would have it we left DC on Thursday morning with the idea we would stop in downtown Philly for a couple of hours to see the Liberty Bell etc and then head up to NYC before nighttime… BUT their grandparent’s flight was canceled allowing the boys and I to spend a longer day in Philly and then the evening and night with my mom just outside of the city! It was such a great visit! It’s been so long since I’ve been to see the historic section of Philly and it was great to experience it again with the boys who had never seen it!

One thing I love about the boys, especially Leo, is HOW interested he is in learning new things! He’s got a very curious mind and LOVES gathering new information whether it is science, sports, history, or really ANYTHING! He’s so fun to take anywhere because he loves doing something new and he just LOVES to learn!

So, we basically did it all. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Constitution Museum…. And GOT REAL CHEESESTEAKS! They loved seeing people dressed up as colonists, and learning about the people who were so influential in shaping our nation!

At the Constitution Museam where you could pretend you were on TV!

Leo was so excited to SEE THE CRACK and learn all about it!

They also thought it was cool to have their picture taken with George Washington (above) and Benjamin Franklin (below) since we had learned so much about that that day!
A picture of Independence Hall!
And, (one of the) famous cheesesteak places in the city! YUM!
It was the boys first cheesesteak!

After our day there, we drive to good ol’ Audubon! It was fun showing the boys where I lived and they always have fun joking around and playing with my mom! We had my favorite Genuardi’s pizza dinner… followed by dessert at one of my favorite ice cream places that I knew the boys would LOVE! Zwahlens!! We each got a good amount of ice cream and then took pictures outside the store by their beautiful flowers on a gorgeous summer evening. Oh – I just love these boys! It was also just so great to see my mom as well!

Me and my ANGEL mother :)

The next morning we left early for NYC. The boys were great with all the driving because Leo is not a big fan of it. He was such a good big brother to Jeremiah too and kept him entertained a bit while we drove. He also decided it would be good to rest for part of the trip since he knew we’d be doing a lot when we got to NYC later that morning. I love how he thinks through things in advance and tries to make the best decision. He seeks advice from adults, but mostly he makes the right decision on his own! And, when he gets corrected for something he’s done that’s wrong, he talks it through with you and really tries hard to do things right the next time. I’ve even caught him a few times about to do something he knew he shouldn’t and he’ll STOP and think out loud why that’s not a good choice! It’s so great to see!! He really listens to the adults in his life and really tries to be the best he can be!

Jeremiah, on the other hand, is a work in progress! He likes to test the waters a bit more than Leo, but “my little buddy” tries hard and has a great role model for an older brother!

Back to the story… now we were off to NYC. The drive was good until we got near the city. Now, I don’t consider myself a timid driver what so ever, but even I got white knuckled driving in downtown Manhattan. Ha – there seemed to BE no driving laws that were followed. You want to go through a red light – OK. You want to just cut in front of someone with inches to spare – OK. You want to cross three lanes of congested traffic in a matter of seconds and have everyone stop for you – OK! UGH!! It was CRAZY! But, we had to get to the Lincoln Center because we were staying in a hotel there. (Also, I love staying here with their grandparents because it’s in a great location… but also we can see the Manhattan LDS temple from our hotel room window because it’s only two blocks away!)

We arrived safely, but with traffic in the city, it was later than I had planned. It was still OK though because their grandparents hadn’t gotten in until about 3 AM and were exhausted. We unloaded and chilled for about an hour in the room, but then it was off to explore the city!

It was a remarkably beautiful and cool day. Temps over the past few weeks had been EXTREMELY HOT and HUMID, but this day was pretty cool (80 ish) and there was a breeze, so it was very nice walking in a city type of day! We set off walking about ten blocks for some hotdogs at one of their favorite local restaurants in the city, and then took a cab to the empire state building! AWESOME!!

We decided to do this combo tour that first showed you a 3D movie where the platform you were seated on actually moved and it felt like you were moving with the movie. Meaning, the movie was a helicopter flying through the streets of NYC showing all the highlights and giving an explanation about each place. So while we were seated there, we also felt every jolt, twist and turn of the helicopter! Pretty cool!

Then it was off to the top of the building. We waited a bit to take the elevator up to the 80th floor and from there you can either walk up six flights of stairs or wait to take another elevator! The boys were DONE waiting in line, so we all walked up six flights. WELL worth it! We got to the top and it was absolutely STUNNING! I took pictures of all four sides and can’t remember which side was which in each picture, but here they are. I know in the pictures there is the Chrysler Building… and central park, but OH – I can’t remember the rest. Without my GPS and an address I am TOTALLY lost in NYC. I don’t even understand the four boroughs of the city. Fortunately, Noni, their grandmother, knows it very well, so she just took charge!

The tippy, tippy top... We didn't venture up past the 86th floor. That was high enough :)

Views from the top!

Doesn't this picture make you just want to reach out, lift him up and twirl him around in a great big bear hug!!!

I realized as I spent the day in the city, that NYC is way too big and too impersonal for me. I definitely would not like to have to live there – ever. Everything is so expensive, people are not nice, and I just feel so lost, crowded and dirty when I am there! It was fun to spend the day with the boys there… and maybe if I was a millionaire and had not a care in the world about money, I would enjoy NYC… but other than that, I really am content not being there… or even visiting!

So, the inevitable had come. I had just chosen not to think about it because I hate “good-bye’s”. I am more like a person who thinks… that it’s just going to be a while before I see you again and not a good-bye, but I had to say good-bye to the boys. If it hadn’t been utter chaos when I was leaving, I think it would have been harder, but the boys were being silly and full of energy but tired as well, they had to get ready for dinner with their cousins and there was just a lot going on… so I took that as my chance to make it less hard on me and to just give them a big hug and tell them how wonderful and special they are and that I loved them… and would see them sometime! They didn’t really comprehend how their life was changing now that they were moving back to Boston and I really think just assumed I would be coming along – even though they’ve known for forever I wasn’t. But, just like I’ve been with them for the past five years and then moved to DC just after they did… they didn’t really understand that I wouldn’t see them as often in Boston! I don’t think anything really hit them until they actually got to Boston and started living their “new” life back in Cambridge! For kids that age, they really can’t remember how life was like a year and a half ago!

So, I left and drove back to PA. I was sad, my heart definitely hurt as I was thinking about them, but I had learned a good lesson recently. Don’t regret or feel sad about the past. It’s over and done with and change is good. BUT, what you can do is be so grateful for what you’ve been able to do and for the people that have been in your life. Remember all the fun times you had with them and be grateful for it! I’ve really tried to do this and it has REALLY helped and made a huge difference on my outlook on all the change in my life in general! Sometimes I yearn for the past and my heart hurts for the way things were. It’s just so much better to think about the HAPPY times and how grateful I am for them!

I spent the weekend with my mom and then drove back to DC on Sunday… because she was following two days later on Tuesday to come meet me for our trip out west to Seattle and ALASKA!!! (Next Post... in a few days)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where have I been? Not in DC, that's for sure.
More posts on that to come... but I heard this song on the radio the week before I turned 30 and since turning 30 seems like it should be a "significant" life event, I thought I would do a blog about it because it got me thinking….

Turning 30 really hasn’t been too traumatic for me one way or the other. I have friends who were fearful, in a way, of turning 30 because it made them feel so old, and others who were so excited to finally leave their 20’s behind and embrace a new decade. For me… it’s kind of just been like just another year and I guess I’ve tried to think of it that way rather than having too many expectations or too few. I don't feel any different, but I guess I'd still like to claim being in my 20s. However, just taking life one day at a time and being grateful for the blessings I have rather than lamenting on what I’d like to have has been very helpful in remaining positive and hopeful for my next 30 years!

But, having goals for the future is always a good thing too. So, when I heard this song about the singer’s next 30 years, I thought about what I’d like for my next 30 years. (song lyrics in italics, mine in regular... and at the end is a link to the song!)

I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age...
The ending of an era, and the turning of a page...
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here...
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years...

(Oh yes – Celebrate I did!! For my 30th birthday I went with my mom to Seattle and then on a cruise to Alaska all week long! But, yes, HF, please have mercy on my next 30 years!)

Hey my next thirty years I’m gonna have some fun...

(Yes!! My next 30 years will definitely include more travel in my life, and more time acting like a child… not caring what others think of me and just having FUN!)

Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done...

(Why think about my past mistakes… look forward to my future!)

Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears... And I’ll do it better in my next thirty years...

(One of my adolescent fears was what other people thought of me and really wanting them to like me (a.k.a… thinking I was cool!)… but with age and maturity I’m slowly realizing that it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is what I think of me and that I am doing the right thing so that the Lord is pleased with me too!)

My next thirty years I’m gonna settle all the scores...

(Fortunately, I don’t think I really have too many, if any, to settle!)

Cry a little less, laugh a little more...

(The day before my birthday I learned a powerful lesson. I was visiting my grandmother in her living center and her friend joined us for lunch. Her friend, Skipper, is FULL of life! She was singing, laughing like a silly school girl, and just really having a good time with herself (because my mom and I sure weren’t being comedians!) Well, during our conversation when we were trying to get to know her she said to my mom: “I don’t want to be here (the living center). Who does? But, what am I going to do? Walk around and be mopey and miserable? NO! I am going to make the best of it, enjoy life and be happy!” And, Skipper was true to her word. The entire time we were there, she was having more fun than any of us… because of her attitude! Laughter is the key to happiness in life. Here is a picture of Skipper…

Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear...

(I hope so…)

Figure out just what I’m doing here... In my next thirty years...

(Well, I don’t know if I will ever figure out what my purpose, or my role, is in life… but I do promise to try and figure it out!)

Oh my next thirty years, I’m gonna watch my weight...

(Yep – I enjoy being physically active… but it’s such a battle with food because I LOVE good food as well! However, I know there are some bad habits in my life that I can change and feel healthier doing so! Recently, I cut back significantly on drinking caffeinated soda… and it’s been incredible noticing a difference in the way my body feels. And now, I really don’t even like the taste of diet coke anymore! I haven’t cut caffeine out of my body completely… but definitely less of it!

Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late...

(The salad eating won’t be hard for me… but staying up late can be. However, I’ve noticed how much better my body feels when I keep to a sleep schedule and esp when I get up early and get going, I feel SOOO much better! If I stay up late, I feel like the next day my body just never really wakes up and I am dying for a nap by mid-afternoon!)

Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers... Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years...
(Well, this has never really been a problem for me, I am happy to say) J

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life...

Raise a little family and hang out with my wife...

(Let’s change that too husband… and YES!!!!! This is my deepest desire!!!)
Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear...

Make up for lost time here, in my next thirty years...

In my next thirty years...

(I know so much will happen in my next 30 years and I am looking forward to it!!

And finally, a link to the song: