Tuesday, July 31, 2012

And, off to Boston!

Another weekend trip took me to Boston! This was a fun adventure. I took the kids on the ferry with one of their cars and it was their first time one the ferry. They loved it! And, I loved the fact that I had their Itouches and portable movie players because it's a 2 hour trip!

When we got off the boat I drove them to a local playground to get some energy out because we had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us! It was a nice day so we had a picnic at the park as well.

Off we set for Boston! 

I loved driving in and passing Fenway... seeing the Charles River... and so many other favorite landmarks! We arrived at the hotel, but there was a crazy line to even valet park the car and to check in to the hotel. The kids were squirmy and just wanted to get out of the car... the last 30 minutes had been torture! Then, it took them forever to get the luggage up to the room and all the kids were anxiously awaiting their swimsuits so they could jump in the pool! Well, lucky us... this hotel was renovating their pool that day but allowed us to use another one in a hotel about a ten minute walk away. So, off went... I didn't care how far away the pool was... we were going or else I was going to go nuts!

We had fun at the pool and quickly returned to the hotel to change for dinner. Since I was in charge :) I got to choose where we went for dinner and also had invited my brother, sister in law and niece!

I LOVE the Cheesecake Factory. Funny thing is that I don't really like Cheesecake, but I love all their other menu items. And, their menu is so big and varied that everyone can find something they like.

This was the first time my brother had met the kids. They were pretty well behaved and we had an enjoyable dinner. I ate so much food! The portions there are so big. I picked off the kids plates so much that I ended up taking most of my dinner home! I was glad to combine my two worlds though... that of my work life and my family. I am always talking to Evan and Madison about the kids and I tell the kids all about my brother and his family (especially my niece!) It was also nice to have another adult to talk to at dinner as well :)

We walked back to the hotel. It was only 8 PM, but I was EX-hausted. I plopped the kids in front of the TV and mentally tried not to think anymore. Luckily Beth arrived by 9:30 and I went to bed

In the morning I had some free time so I set off to pick up my triathlon clothes at REI. It was fun to be back on the "T" even though I was riding the dreaded green line. REI happens to be close to Fenway, so when I got off at the T stop I was greeted with this painted on the wall. I felt like the team was welcoming me home!
The rest of Friday was a blur. I had to get my bike for the race... and then hunt and peck my way back through the one way streets of downtown Boston. An exhilarating and scary experience all at once! I even went the wrong way on one-way streets because I could not figure out where I was! I got to spend some time with Evan, Madison and Holland and it was awesome! But, went to bed around 9 PM because Evan and I were getting up for the race at 4 AM!

4 AM came way too quickly! I was so tired and completely questioning my sanity in deciding to do this race. I was so lucky to have Evan with me. It would have been a disaster from the beginning without him. Starting off with... he drove the 1.5 hours to Falmouth while I slept :)

We arrived in the quiet and asleep town as the sun was starting to rise (well, it was a cloudy day, but the light was just starting to come up). He navigated to where we were supposed to park and then literally walked me step by step with what I needed to do. This wasn't just a road race. I know what to do in those races! This one was a bit more complicated! You've got the bike, transitioning, more rules.... etc.

Luckily we got there with plenty of time to spare and he walked me through my set-up of my things. We had some down time before the race started so I took pictures and then we did a little pre-race warmup. My body just wasn't ready to move yet though.
Here's my professional picture of the staging area :)
Pure chaos to someone who has no idea what they're supposed to be doing!
This is where we came out from the swim.
See that red circle thing in the water? There were two of them in the water giving racers a rectangle pattern to run. But, this one actually moved during the first wave of the race and the poor swimmers in the water chased after it. It must have been the longest swim of their life. They stopped the race and repositioned it, but oh man... felt so bad for that first wave of athletes.

Even though it didn't move during my part of this race, I still felt it was like the longest swim of my life! (And, I've swam father distances... in a pool!! Which I much rather do!). The current was so strong that we all started about 20-30 feet to the right of where we should have. The waves were choppy. It was miserable for me. I just kept praying for it to be OVER! I don't feel like I am a terrible swimmer... but this was torture! I swallowed more salt water than I care to think about and don't think I did one proper stoke because I kept getting pounded by a new wave.

On to happier times, I thought this was one of the coolest - if not THE coolest - part of the race. We got painted with our race number on are arms and calf. 246!

I was proud of my number :)

Evan and I before the race.
I would not have been able to do it... or finish... without him!

After the delayed start and the crazy swim, I hopped on my bike. The bike part went much better than I expected as we rode through a nice (not too hilly) part of Falmouth. It was fun to have people on the streets cheering you on (that's not something you get in the swim part of the race!) I hadn't taken a moment to drink water in between the swim and the bike... so I was craving it by the middle of the bike portion. However, I was DETERMINED to not stop on my bike and just keep the momentum going!

When I got back to the transition area from the bike part, I accidentally crossed part of my bike over the finish line (which I guess is illegal but I thought the lady said that's what I was supposed to do! There were too many little rules!) And, I didn't feel like running my bike over to my spot so people we're shouting at me to "move!"... but I was like - "Whatever! Chill, people!" Ha ha... but I moved out of their way. 

I was so frazzled that I then forgot to put my bid on my shirt - which I guess is another disqualification! Ha ha... I didn't care. All I wanted was to know for myself that I finished! 

Well, at the first water station I gulped down water. My legs were still in the biking mode but I "ran" on. It was a coarse right along the water. Within a minute or two I passed Evan who was coming back in to the finish line. He started the whole thing in a wave before me, but he also did the whole thing much faster than I! The run went well, but I didn't feel like I was actually in my running grove until the 2 mile and at that point I only had just over one more to go! But, I did finish strong as running is my best sport out of the 3 of them! 

I finished!!! That's all that matters!

I was so happy to cross the finish line! Evan was there to greet me and lots and lots of water. I was so sticky from the salt water and sweat. My hands, face... everything felt just gross. Luckily they had showers there and a changing room... but before I did... just one last picture to prove I finished!

I did it!! Bike, Run, Swim... the whole thing!
Look how many bikes there are!

Well, even though I felt like I had lived half my day it was only 10 o'clock by the time we got back to the car and headed home. We hit lots of traffic, but got back by 1. I was refreshed by then so I decided to make the most of my bike rental and got back on my bike to bike around Boston! Very fun.... and then dropped it off and walked back to Evan's apartment. I loved going to see some of my favorite spots downtown and Boston is a bike friendly city... for the most part!

I finally showered and felt normal again. I gave Evan and Madison a date night... so I got to go with Holland to the Boston Commons and then over to the Boston Public Garden! It was a beautiful evening and we hung out by the pond. Holland caught the eye of just about everyone who passed by us! She is adorable and so much fun! She's at the stage where she can almost walk - almost! But, she's definitely a girl that likes to be on the move and in to everything!
Look at those adorable eyes!
Such a pretty night by the pond :)
And, I love this picture of Holland. 
Yes, she was a little pants-less... but just look at that face!

Early Sunday I headed back with the family on the ferry... back, back, back to more adventures on the island!

Monday, July 23, 2012

NYC - Round 3!

Since I am on the island for 2 months, we like to get off every now and then! One recent trip was to NYC (again!). Yep... my third time in just over a month! But, it was a lot of fun. It was SO dang HOT and humid... but a very nice hotel sure helps after coming in from being outside. This hotel was unlike any I've ever stayed in, but I would recommend it to anyone. They pride themselves on being eco-friendly. I didn't notice too many differences, but they always had fruit available for the taking in the lobby, a fabulous and free full breakfast, very comfy rooms with a kitchenette, a great work out room, and it was right by Penn Station so it was easy for travel! Loved it! And, top top it all off, it was just on the west side of an area where you can find GREAT Mexican restaurants!

It was a very quick trip, but during little breaks I got from working, I was able to do a session at the Manhattan Temple in Lincoln Center (amazing and awesome that there is a temple in downtown Manhattan!). But, also had the chance to visit the American Natural History Museum  and two others close to it, as well as tour the financial district a bit... see some famous churches and financial bldgs... but also had the opportunity to get tickets to see the 9/11 memorial and to spend some time in the World Trade Center area. 

They are rebuilding some of the buildings and changing it from how it was done before... but it looks like it will be really neat when it is completed. Here are some of the pictures.
This is an actual uniform from one of the rescuers
This is really cool!  So sad, but very symbolic
The flag has the names of everyone who passed away on it.
I believe this is WTC #7
Construction area with some of the buildings already 
completed or close to being done in the back.
Reflection Pool #1
Along the sides of the reflection pool they have the names 
listed again of everyone who died in the tragedy
I believe this is the new museum they are building. 
Not yet done, but I think it's supposed to be completed soon.
Reflection Pool #2

This is the survivor tree. It is a pear tree that was badly damaged in the 9/11 attacks, but was kept in a park in Brooklyn until it could be replanted back at the WTC in 2010. It had gone through a lot, but is now thriving... and is very symbolic for the resiliency of those who survived the attack, New York City, and really, the whole country.
In the small museum/souvenir shop they had this motorcycle on display. 
I just thought it was a pretty cool picture and a pretty cool motorcycle!

It was fun to go back to NYC, yet again, and visit some of these sights. NYC is amazing... but I think my visits to it are done for a while :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

RI... and then Nantucket...thus far

Summer adventures continue. For work, I left DC on July 1st to drive to RI and then to Nantucket on July 3rd. However,  2.5 hours in to my trip (just outside Philly), I realized I left my computer bag in my apartment and had to return to get it! For someone who hates to drive in the first place, this was heartbreaking! The simple mistake lead to adding 5 hours to my already 8 hour trip! ACK!

But, fortunately, traffic was in my favor. I would stop every two hours at a rest stop and run around or do jumping jacks for a few minutes and then get back in the car. My IPhone became my best friend as I talked to many people and listened to lots of music! I know that it is with the Lords help that I was able to endure... and man, what a lesson I learned on checking three times to make sure I had everything!

But, my travels did allow me to arrive in RI just as the sun was setting. I decided to stop by Watch Hill before going to my dad's house. What's an extra 5 minutes to an all ready 13 hour trip! An amazing sunset was worth it!!
A view from the Watch Hill Yacht Club
On Monday I had some dental surgery at my dad's office and basically stayed low-key all day. Caught up on sleep, blogging and reading! Tuesday morning I set off for Nantucket. Another 2.5 hours in the car followed by a 2.5 hour ferry ride. Not too bad. It was hot. Thank goodness again for AC and my IPhone!

When I got to the ferry, they told me that they had switched my ferry time to earlier that morning so I wasn't confirmed on the ferry I thought I was. OH MY WORD. I was in shock and disgusted! It's hard to get a ferry spot this time of year and you have to book well in advance. How can you just change someone's time and NOT tell them! Well, no one there could answer my question.

BUT, fortunately, by some miracle, they found a spot for me and I got on. I literally would probably have had a melt down right then and there... I was tired, sick of driving, and in pain from the surgery the day before. And, I knew I had to get the car to the island! Thank you HF for helping this work out!

Views from the ferry as I approach Nantucket!
The next day was July 4th. I hadn't been on the island for the 4th, but I knew I was in for a treat. I went for an early morning run and then set off in to town with the family for adventures! The kids love the activities on Main Street! A watermelon eating contest (Jed won first place!) Some crafty stuff, face painting, and another favorite was the DUNK TANK!
Jed's ready!
Jed's in! (I heard the water was SOOO dang cold!)
But, that didn't deter Max!
Love that face!

I had to wait on the sidewalk for a bit and saw these cuties walk by. A perfect July 4th outfit!! Many would be consumed later in the day... but these guys only pretended to act the part :)
The highlight of July 4th on Main Street is the HUGE water gun fight. Seriously, the WHOLE town gets involved. I should have worn a bathing suit! But, they close main street. Everyone brings whatever water gun, water balloons or water fighting items they have in possession and gets ready for the big moment!

But, first, roll in the firetrucks! The crowd looks on and makes a pathway down the street.
Unknowingly, I had chosen a spot right next to the firetruck. Pretty cool!

The first thing they did was put up there ladder...
In order to fly the American Flag!
Such an amazing sight to see. I love our flag!
It stands for freedom. It stands for a nation coming together... despite differences of belief in religion and politics... but a nation that comes together in tragedy and in celebration of freedom!
The crowd gathers in around the firetruck
and the "fight" begins!
Some more invested than others!
But, even in the beginning of the fight, the fireman stands 
on the top and "teases" the audience with his periodic spray!
The fight slowly intensifies!

But, then the firetruck intensifies it's fight! 
And, there's another truck now involved 
couple of yards away!
It's fun to watch people down below try and 
throw water balloons up at the fireman!
Water, water everywhere!!!
It was A-mazing! I wasn't in a bathing suit so I tired to hide under one of the awnings of the stores on main street. But, the fight went on for about 40 minutes until the firetrucks won! But, it was so much fun to see the entire island (or so it seemed) get involved and have so much fun!!

The next day I was lucky to have two friends visit me on the island (Amber and Ethan). They had been on the Cape for most of the week and ventured over to Nantucket for a day. After work, I met them at Surfside Beach. It was a beautiful day and we just sat and talked and took pictures as the sun was setting. 

Amber is such a photographer! We took pictures of our feet in the sand. 
I like how it turned out. 
Amber had the idea to take a few poses as we sat on the beach. We were right next to a lifeguard stand and since it was late in the day we decided to make good use of it since the lifeguards had gone home!
Amber taking a picture of Ethan and I as we all walked back to the car. 
After the beach, I took Amber and Ethan on a brief tour of the island, but then I took them to the yacht club to get freshened up and we took advantage of the scene to take even more pictures!

It was so much fun to have friends visit me... and it was such a beautiful day!

Life on the island thus far has been good :)

On my way to a "finer, nobler type of (wo)manhood!

Theodore Roosevelt gave some good advice:

"A man's usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals insofar as he can. It is hard to fail but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. All daring and courage - All iron endurance of misfortune - make for a finer, nobler type of manhood. Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life."

I saw this quote in the American Museum for Natural History and was profoundly impacted by it. What good is my life if I am not willing to take risks to achieve goals?  Sure, I'll stumble and maybe fail from time to time, but if I don't at least try... I see it as similar to just being spectator in life and not really living it! And, in simply trying my best to succeed I will learn things along the way, right?

I see it like a road race. If I don't try it's just like I am watching everyone else run the race of life and I never get the joy of crossing the finish line! Sure, the runners might hit the wall at times, or doubt their ability to make it to the end, but determination, endurance, and a can-do attitude sure can make the difference! It sure is hard to fail - I've done so many times, but I am so glad I at least tried!

Relationships are like this. I've been in many that have failed in the end, but I sure am glad I tried and I learned a lot on the way... and had fun too!!

As I am nearing my next birthday, I see it like a starting point to another year. This time last year I never would have imagined what I would have had to endure this past year with my mom's illness and death. And, looking back, I wouldn't wish the same experience one anyone... but I tried my best. I learned A LOT along the way, I relied A LOT on the Lord and others to help carry me when I didn't think I could go on any further... but I also tried my best. I did my best to have courage, or "iron endurance of misfortune"... and I truly believe in the end it made for "a finer, nobler type of (wo)manhood."

Who knows exactly what this year will bring. Change is for sure. I need to test myself - push myself - and endure whatever misfortunes come my way.... but at the end of this next "birth year" I hope I can say again that I am even more "a finer, nobler woman!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Get Used to Not Getting What You Want!

Even though THIS blog is mostly meant for business folk, I feel like many of the posts are therapy posts for me on how to be a better/more organized/more patient/well-rounded person!

And, one of his recent posts struck me to the core. Totally eye-opening.

There are so many expectations that I have, and to some degree, when my expectations go unmet I tend to get stressed out. And, as I work to try and get what I want, I get even MORE stressed out.

I feel like I've become better at accepting the fact that I can't change another person, but I'll do my darndest to change a circumstance so that I get what I want or think is best! And, often times end up stressing myself out in doing so, only to find that I got no where with it! Then, to add insult to injury, sometimes these little stressors build up to the point where I take it all out on some unknowing person... like the Verizon customer service lady who really had no part in the problem and mistake her company made on my bill.

The author states that sometimes you can change reality, but often times, you're better off changing your expectations AND putting the situation in to a reality check.

I love how he puts it so perfectly

Fighting Reality is not Worth the Effort

I agree with him that this is true 95% of the time. There are certain values/morales/beliefs I have that no matter what anyone else says, I am going to stick up for what I think is right no matter what is going on around me, but there are many, many things that I can just let go of and move on. 

The author suggests that we put things on a scale of 1-10... with a 10 being like being in the World Trade Center on 9/11, a 7 being something like loosing a job so you can't pay your rent, etc. And, that just makes me think of the things I get disappointed about in comparison to what others are going through right now... cancer, a fire destroying their home, unemployment. I think about what I complain about and have to stop myself and say - "Really? Put this in perspective and look at everything else you DO have." It's so easy for to slip in to this, loose perspective, get frustrated, complain, etc

I love how he states: "Almost everything we freak out about is somewhere in the 1-2 range of dashed expectations. In other words, our moods and our stress levels are determined by events that actually matter remarkably little.... But we can substantially reduce our stress by recognizing that in many situations, we have become perfectionists in realms where perfection isn't necessary, realistic, or even useful."

What a useful lesson for me!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

NYC - Round 2/day2

 Continued from previous post:

After I returned from my awesome morning run and stop by the TODAY show, I quickly got ready and Mer and I headed out for breakfast and 5th ave! Some policemen gave us a great suggestion for breakfast! It was a hidden gem and it only cost about $6. I gobbled it up and would totally go again!

We started walking up 6th Ave. and they were having a street fair. Some pretty cool things, but Mer found this picture and she HAD to get it! We had joked quite a bit about how excited we were to visit Tiffany's and had joked about the movie as well! So she bought it :)
We dropped it at the hotel and then returned to the street fair (up 6th to Central Park) and then over to 5th. We took a picture by this pretty fountain at the corner of Central park and 5th ave. It was such a pretty (and NOT humid!) day
 One of the places I wanted to go was FAO Schwarz and see the famous piano. Mer knew exactly where it was and I got in line like a little kid, Probably shouldn't post these crazy pictures, but I honestly had so much fun dancing on my own!
 I don't know what I was doing?! Just bopping back and forth?
Dancing is NOT really my talent :)
 And, an official pose after I finished my performance :)
 On our way out we ran in to the soldier and Mer got a picture
 Then off to Tiffany's!
Mer knew exactly where to find the floor of engagement rings!
 Afterwards, we set off to meet up with Braden. We had to wait for him for a bit so Mer and I sat down on a bench. WELL, as I was getting up to check out something a PIGEON decided to fly right overhead and dropped some pigeon crud right on my hand! I screamed so LOUD! I was so grossed out. Mer was laughing hard and everyone was looking at the two of us wondering what was wrong. EEWWWW. And of course, no one had a towel or soap or anything. Gross!

Well Braden showed up moments later and we walked the short distance back to his apartment so that I could wash my hand off and we all got ready to set off for our afternoon adventure!

But first we went to the top of his building and got some cool pictures!
Great view!
 Our adventure included heading down to the financial district and then walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mer was hungry so we stopped for some pizza. Braden pointed out this very cool building as we walked. It's hard to tell in the picture, but it has this winding design. Not your usual square cornered building.
 Then, up and over the bridge. There were a TON of people doing the same thing we were! But, it was very cool.
 There's the Statue of Liberty! Some time I want to take the Staten Island Ferry and get a closer picture!
 I am so glad it wasn't too hot or humid like the day before had been. If not, we would not have been able to walk everywhere we did! Probably almost 200 blocks total all day... plus my run in the morning!!

 After we crossed back over the bridge, we stumbled upon this park and what else would you expect to find in it... but a blow-up Ketchup Bottle?! It was a pretty park so seeing this was a bit random. I love ketchup though so had to take a picture :)
 Afterwards, we all split up so we could get ready for dinner. We met up at this pretty funky, but fun, Thai place somewhere kind of near Braden's. We had a fun dinner and then set off for a Rice Pudding place Sarah had told us about the night before for dessert. Both were yummy and I had a lot of fun talking with Mer and Braden! Then, after dinner we set off for a little exploring (like we hadn't walked enough all day) but it was SUCH a pretty night we had to take advantage!

We walked to Little Italy! One thing I love about NY is the clearly defined little neighborhoods... like Little Italy, Tribeca, SoHo, Garment District, etc. Little Italy did NOT disappoint! It was such a nice evening that many restaurants had tables set up outside for dining and we just walked down the middle of it. It reminded me a lot of the North End in Boston.
 We walked past this one statue as well and I love that Mer got a picture in front of it!
I had such a nice evening and such a fun day! On Sunday I returned to DC after church, but it was such a fun weekend. NYC had always seemed so confusing and overwhelming to me! But, after spending these two weekends in it, I grew to admire it for it's history... and charm (in a way). There's something definitely unique about it! And always great to experience it with good friends!!