Saturday, August 29, 2009

What's been happening around here....

Nicole cheered at her first game!  Go Grizzlies!

Isaac finished up golf lessons and discovered a new love!  He's addicted to the game!

Nicole started high school (and I started feeling old)

One more cheer picture, because I feel like it!

Ian started kindergarten....and I didn't shed a tear.  Is that bad?

Isaac started 5th grade.  Oh my!

I started school too- no one took my picture.  Can you believe it?  

Life is crazy and busy and good at our house!  Here's to a new school year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Memories Forgotten

I had a strange experience this weekend.  

I was hosting a CAbi party at my house, for my aunt Kim who is a new consultant.  She brought her daughter, my cousin, Melissa with her.

Before the party, Melissa and I were reminiscing about times past.  Well, SHE was reminiscing.  I was listening and wondering to myself, why none of this even sounded slightly familiar.  It was me she was taking about after all.  "Remember the time you and Terra were putting on a show for me and Rochelle and you were pretending to be poor girls and you at cat food?"  WHAT?  I ate cat food?!

She talked about cats we had owned, in great detail.  I can barely remember that we had cats.  I do remember their names, but that's about it.  She could have been talking about a complete stranger for all I knew.  But it was my life she was speaking of.  Sitting there, listening to my past being told to me- was very odd.  Nothing she said even sounded familiar.  Are my memories really gone?  Was I even there?  Did I have a childhood?  :)

There have been times when someone from my teenage years will say, "Remember when...(fill in the blank)?" and I will instantly remember too.  But when it comes to my early childhood- say from birth to 12 years old, there's not much there.  I have bits and pieces of memories, but mostly ones that I have pictures from my scrapbooks to go along with.  And even then, I'm not sure that I actually remember what was going on in that picture.  It's just familiar.  What I have discovered, is that I remember more the feelings I had from that time of my life.  Was I happy, sad, loved, afraid, etc.  And some of the events that are tied to those feelings I sort of remember.

I can tell you anything you want to know about my high school years, but ask me about my childhood, and I'll most likely draw a blank. 


Friday, August 21, 2009

Seeing Orange

Driving down the road in my little car,
Going from place to place,
A million places I need to go,
But what is before my face?

Orange here and orange there,
Blocking my way at each turn.
You can't go here, nope, not there!
Oh when will they ever learn?

Fixing the roads, I see is a must,
But why? I am asking you,
Must every single road that I drive,
Need to be brand new?

Can't you just pick a road or two
To fix this week and then,
Do another or two the following week
You sweet little UDOT men.

It's just my humble observation
For the problems that I see
It seems there's a lot of orange these days
And it's really bothering me. 

The basement is done!

As promised, here are a couple of photos of our finished basement!  These are of the family room.  The other rooms aren't too exciting- an office, a bathroom and Nicole's room (which is and is going to be darling when we get it all decorated!  I'll post a picture of it when it is finished!) It is so good to have it completed- although there are still a couple of minor things that still need to be done (isn't there always?)

And dare I say that I can hardly wait for the weather to cool down enough to use the fireplace?  It will be a cozy place to be- that's for sure!

It's hard to tell, but the color on the wall is a darkish sage-y type green.  It's really nice- but doesn't look so great in these pictures!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To finish what I've started

After Mount Vernon, we returned to our lovely hotel in Washington D.C., refueled ourselves with some wonderful Greek food, and then piled in the Expedition- but only after much debate on whether or not we thought we would be able to find a parking spot somewhere close to the National Mall.  Our valet offered us some helpful tips- like, "look where other cars are parked and you should be fine to park there too".  Okay?  You see, our friends are a bit paranoid about parking since they have managed to get a parking ticket in just about every major city they have visited since moving back east.  And those parking tickets are not cheap by any means.

So we drove down to the National Mall, found a great spot with free parking and off we went.

First we walked past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  It was overwhelming to see all of those names engraved on that very large wall.  Men and women, from ages 15 to 63 years, who all  lost their lives in war.  All 58,260 of them.  It's very moving to see.
Next, we went to the Lincoln Memorial.  How does one describe this monument?  Gigantic, magnificent, spectacular?  As I looked up at President Lincoln, I wondered how he would feel having something so large made of him.  But there he sits, looking out over the Mall.                                                                                                 

I wish I had recorded all of the fascinating facts that Ryan and Tiffany's son told us about all of the monuments that we saw that night.  He is a walking encyclopedia.  He went on a field trip to Washington D.C. last year in his 5th grade class and was taught many things that the average person would not know.  And he remembers every single one of them.

Here's an example, Mr. Lincoln's statue has two distinct halves- one side represents peace.  The other, war.  One hand is in a fist, the other is relaxed.  One eyebrow is raised, the other is not.  One foot is resting out in front, the other is ready to stand.  I found that fascinating.  There was also something about a face being carved into the back of his hair, and although we searched for quite some time, I never could see it.

Another neat thing in addition to the actual monument is that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on one of the steps to this monument.  It is marked so you know exactly where he stood.  

That's what I love about Washington D.C.   So many important things in history have happened there.  Millions of people have gathered there for presidential inaugurations.  Crowds have protested there.  Laws have been made and laws have been changed.  Inspirational speeches have been given.  War heros are honored in monument after monument.  And a few years ago, at the Pentagon, lives were lost.  Washington D.C. is a place that is full of vibrant energy.  

Seeing these monuments at night is a must.  They are lit up in a way that makes them feel- if it is possible- even more inspiring.  For me, there is always a sort of reverence in the air at night.  Things are still.  And so seeing these monuments in that atmosphere- it just takes your breath away.

My favorite memory of the evening though, has to be running in the rain to see the White House.  

The clouds had looked threatening all night, but when the lightning and thunder started, we knew we were in for it.  I heard Ryan mention that when it rains, it just doesn't stop.  I think he was a bit worried because we were so far from our car.  Tiffany and I mentioned to each other how good we thought it would feel if it rained on us for a bit.  It was the hottest night I can ever remember experiencing in my life.  Then add to that, the humidity.  So I was secretly hoping that it would rain.  And rain it did!  It was the strangest rain storm I have ever been in though.  It was like someone was turning the sprinklers on and off whenever they felt like it.  One minute, it would be pouring.  The next, totally dry.  I had an umbrella in my purse, but every time I opened it, it would stop raining.  

By the time we got close enough to see the White House, we were all soaked.  My hair, my clothes, even my eyelashes were dripping wet.  We wondered if Michelle would invite these poor wet souls in to dry off for a bit.  I'm sure she would have- but we later found out that the Obama's were out of town.  Oh well.
                                     It's the White House, can you see it?

It was a very memorable night.  Again, one that I won't ever forget.  

The next day was spent walking through the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.  The best thing about all the museums in Washington D.C. is that they are free to the public.  Very cool.  They are full of memorabilia and artifacts and can be a bit overwhelming to go through.  I saw the ruby slippers that were worn in the Wizard of Oz, Abraham Lincoln's top hat that he wore the night he was assassinated, various items collected from the families who lived at the White House over the years, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, and much, much more.


After touring all of these historical sites and museums- I felt two things.  One, I am ashamed that I don't know more about my American History.  And two, I am SO PROUD to be an American.  If you can say both of those things in the same paragraph without sounding hypocritical. 

Upon returning from our little jaunt away, we spend the next few nights back at Ryan and Tiffany's watching the HBO special, John Adams.  Wow.  What an amazing man.  Thank you HBO for teaching me what I should have learned (or maybe I did?) in school.  Watching this show, and having just been in a place where history happened, brought it all to life for me.  I have so much respect and admiration for the men and women who helped to shape this great nation when everything was against them.  It truly should not have happened.  But it did.  And today, we live in a free country enjoying the fruits of their hard labors.  Our country is not without it's flaws, but it is truly the greatest place to live.

The rest of our time with our friends was just as magical.  I will never forget our rainy day at the beach ("HOW is this a good day to go to the beach?  It's gray!"  Yes, Max, we should have listened to you!), visiting the ice cream store with more flavors than I have ever seen (bacon flavored ice cream?), tasting Rita's flavored ice- and discovering that I love frozen custard, listening to Erik read the first pages of Tiffany's soon-to-be, best seller, discovering a new favorite TV sitcom, watching Tiffany prepare a beautiful meal on the fly (how do you do it?), visiting out on the screened patio while the backyard sings it's night songs (I will never get tired of hearing that!), being taught how to save HOURS of time a week reading blogs- thank you Google and Tiffany!, and last but not least, just spending time with friends- making memories to last a life time.  
Thank you, thank you Ryan and Tiffany for a wonderfully unforgettable 5 days!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Adventure Continues

It's day two and we are off!  The overnight bags are packed and we head off to Washington D.C. 

Our vehicle is a very comfortable Expedition- two people to a row, great air conditioning (which we definitely need- it's over 95 degrees this day and very humid), and full of every electronic entertainment device known to man.  The hour and a half ride is once again full of breathtaking scenery.  As we near Washington D.C., I am freaking out just a little.  I have always wanted to visit the places that I am about to see- and I am finally here!  We drive past several landmarks- and Ryan points them out as we zoom past.  I try to get a glimpse through the trees of everything that is being shown to me- and I feel a bit anxious because I can't see them as well as I would like.  Everyone in our group has been to these places at least once- and their comments and enthusiasm just feed into what I am already feeling.

By the time we arrive at Mt. Vernon, I can hardly contain myself.  In fact, I think my first words upon stepping out of the car were, "I am so freaking excited!"  

Last month we took our kids to Cancun and visited Chichen Itza- which is a place that Erik had wanted to visit for many years.  He was like a kid in a candy store that day.  He was fascinated with everything he saw and wanted more.  He was thrilled to be there.  The rest of the family thought it was cool, but it was hot and very humid and we had spent the day on the tour bus getting there, and after you have seen a few ruins, they all start  to look the same.  But Erik could have stayed all day- he wanted to take picture after picture so he wouldn't forget one thing.

Being at Mt. Vernon was my Chichen Itza.  I could not believe I was actually there.  In the very place I had read so much about.  About to enter the home of George Washington, first President of the United States.  Freaking excited.

We first walked through a couple of museums and learned much about the people whose house we were about to enter.  George and Martha Washington were amazing people.  They loved each other deeply.  I was a bit upset at first, by the fact that shortly before she died, Martha burned all of the letters that George had written to her over the years of their marriage. But then Tiffany said something that made me look at it in a whole new light.  She said that she was "proud of her".  They were private people and she must have known that those letters would become something of great interest to people once she was no longer around to protect them.  So she made sure they stayed private.  I can only imagine what they must have contained.  But she made sure they were only seen by her- as they were meant to be.

Mr. Washington was humble and good- deep down to his bones, good.  He was an inspired leader.  He was courageous.  And he had really bad teeth.  That was something that I had never thought of before.  I guess having been a dental assistant, I find teeth fascinating and there was much said about his teeth in the exhibit we walked through.  It talked about how he had much trouble with his teeth over the years.  Dentistry was not a sophisticated practice and so to cure a tooth ache, teeth were pulled.  By the time Mr. Washington was sworn in as our nations first president, he only had one natural tooth left.  By his second term as president, he wore a full set of dentures.
                                                     Mount Vernon- as you first see it.

As we walked toward their estate, after having learned much about them at the museums, my heart beat faster as we came into view of their home.  And what a home it is.  9000 square feet!  It is very lovely, and has been restored so beautifully.  Great care was taken to make it appear just as it did when the Washington's lived there.  The first impression upon stepping inside is how brightly colored it is.  George was the decorator, which was customary for the day, and he liked things colorful.  Bright green adorned the walls of the dining room, bright blue in the formal living room.  Gorgeous!  The decor was very elegant, the wood work was so detailed and the artwork on the wall was masculine, but thoughtful.  

As I walked though each room, touched the very handrail they held on to as they ascended their staircase, I thought about the visitors who surely must have been in their home. They were very rarely ever without a visitor to entertain.  Especially after President Washington was 'retired'.  It was told to us that often times visitors would just show up unexpected- just to see this great man.  The Washington's were good people.
                                            The view from the back porch!
Walking through the estate- sitting on the back porch, looking at the view of the Potomac River that they saw each day, seeing some of the trees that George himself planted, seeing their final resting place, listening to Erik and Ryan making up their own George Washington quotes, taking picture after picture so I wouldn't forget a thing, made for a very enjoyable day.
                                 The good people who brought me here!

I left there with a painting of their home so I will never forget, a book about George and Martha Washington, and many memories that I will treasure forever.

                                         The Washington's final resting place.

There is much more to share about this day.....I will post about it next time.  

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day one- sorry, no photos

I don't ever want to forget what I saw and felt on our vacation to Pennsylvania, so I am going to blog about each day.  Hopefully it won't be too painful for those who choose to read on.

The day we arrived, we were picked up from the airport by Ryan and Tiffany- which is a wonderful thing in and of itself.  It's always nice to see a familiar face and receive a welcome hug when you first arrive- and it's even better when it's from dear friends.  

So we were off, and our first stop was Philadelphia, to grab a bite to eat- of course, because that's what we do best when we are with our friends!  We dined at a restaurant called Buddahkan- the decor and lighting were so unique, the food was wonderful (the wasabi mashed potatoes were to die for!), but the conversation is what I remember most.  It doesn't take us long- no matter how long we have been apart- to dive right into it.  Someone always ends up being put "in the chair", as we lovingly call it.  Although there is nothing lovely about it when you are the one in the chair.

After dinner, we ran down a rainy street to see the Liberty Bell.  I didn't have my camera with me- so I don't have a picture to show, but it was the first of many amazing things I was able to see on what will be known as my Historical Vacation.  

Just being in that town, where such important events took place, gave me chills.  But it was just the beginning of greater things to come!

After a short but beautiful drive, we arrived at their home, dropped off our things, grabbed their boys and were off to the most darling dairy farm to get some of the creamiest ice cream my taste buds have had the privilege of enjoying.  

But as we walked out their front door to go to the farm, I witnessed a wonderful sight!  Fireflies!  The coolest things I have ever seen- little lights flashing all over the place!  I was just amazed- they are real!  Not just something from a ride at Disneyland or in a Disney movie.  I think if I lived back east, I would never sleep-  I would sit all night watching these amazing insects.

After we returned home from the farm, and the boys were tucked in bed, we spent a few wonderful hours trying to solve the problems of the world (at least our own small world)- which is one of my most favorite things to do with Ryan and Tiffany.  Their knowledge and perspectives are so appreciated by Erik and I.

Late that night we retired to our room- a cozy space with chocolates and a comfortable bed waiting for us.  We opened the windows to let the magical sounds of the night come in and sing us to sleep.  

It was a warm night but I instantly fell asleep dreaming of what the next day would bring- Mount Vernon!

Stay tuned for day two and as I have promised- photos!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Checking in

I'm writing from a magical place.  A place where fireflies really do exist.  Where the sounds at night make you feel like you are on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  Where the air feels like you are getting a warm hug all the time.  Where you feel like you are in a storybook as you drive down winding lanes.  Where every corner you turn is a breathtaking view.  Where am I?

I am visiting friends in Pennsylvania.  And it is true, they really do live in a magical place.  Every time I have come here, I feel that way.  And what's even more amazing, is that they are the perfect host and hostess.  

They have a beautiful, spacious home with a comfortable room prepared for you when you come- with fresh towels and soap waiting on a lamp lit table for you.  Chocolates or some other treat are on your bed.  Every comfort is thought of.  And they take you places they have been to with every other guest who has come through their door (and they have a LOT of guests!), but they make you feel like it is their first time and that they are enjoying it like they were seeing it for the first time themselves.

Yesterday I got to go to a place I have long wanted to visit.  Mt. Vernon.  George and Martha Washington's estate.  Walking in that place, the same place where George Washington walked, was an experience I won't soon forget.  I promise to post pictures soon.  I'll just leave you with that little taste for now.

We also visited Washington D.C.  A.Mazing.  That place is where it happens.  Where it happened.  History in the past and history in the making.  And I loved every minute of it. I got to see monuments, museums, the capital, and the White House- oh the White House!  It was raining, and as I was looking across the large lawn, through dripping wet eyelashes, at the home of our Presidents, past and present, I felt so proud to be an American.    Pictures will also be coming soon.

Tomorrow, the beach.  Not sure I will post pictures of me in my swimsuit- no, I just had a visual of that, and I definitely will NOT be posting pictures of that, but another glorious, magical day is sure to be had.

I wish that everyone could come to this place, could stay with such amazing people, and experience what I have.  But I promise to write soon- to share what I can- so in some part, you can enjoy some of what I have been seeing and doing the past few days~  see you soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What a pain!

This morning I had the worst time putting my contact lens in my left eye.  I worked on it for about 5 minutes, trying and trying to get it in.  I think I used half a bottle of saline solution washing it over and over again because it kept falling into my bathroom sink.  I have never had such a tough time before.

But after much work, and a few cuss words, I got it in.  It felt strange though.  It was blurry and my eye felt sticky.  I decided to take it out again- check to see if it had flipped.  It hadn't.  So I tried again for another 5 minutes and got it in.

I spent the day feeling like I was looking through blurry eyes, wondering if I was getting an eye infection or something.  

By the end of the day, I had a pretty bad headache.  I was more than ready to take my contacts out when evening came.  I tried to take out my right contact- but I couldn't find it at first.  Instead of panicking, I went for the left one- which was the one that was bothering me the most all day.  I pulled it out and it felt funny.  I looked closer at it.  

Both of my contacts were there in my hand- stuck together like glue!  

No wonder I had such a hard time getting the left one in today.  No wonder my vision was blurry all day and no wonder I ended the day with a splitting headache.

I have no idea how that happened.  I guess that's what I get putting my contacts in so early in the morning when I was still half asleep.  

Now I am left to figure out which contact is which.... 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Anyone need their blood pressure taken?

I am pleased to announce that I can now legally put three beautiful letters behind my name.  That would be, if you will, Becky C.N.A.

How cool is that?  I can hardly stand it myself.  However after talking to a few people this morning, who I thought I would share my good news with, I found that there have been a flood of new C.N.A.'s as of late.  So I am not as unique or whatever I thought I was, as  I thought I was.  It seems that everyone knows someone who "just got their CNA".  Dang.

But whatever.  I'm already over it.  I am just thrilled to be an official (as of this very morning!) Certified Nursing Assistant.  This is just one of the first stepping stones though.  I'm on the road to better things.  And I can hardly wait!