Saturday, August 16, 2014

frederick, md.

So, this post is a major #latergram.  These photos happened when I took the kids to D.C. and Gettysburg back in June. Frederick, Maryland is such a cute place with a cool shopping strip.  The day we happened upon it, there was an unfortunate power outage, so many shops and restaurants were closed, but we did find a quaint, little soda/ice cream shop to stop into.  Although the ice cream was a total loss, with no electricity to keep the freezer running, we did leave with a few old fashioned bottles of pop to sip on our walk.  Not too shabby.

You know, it's just been a good summer.  We've had some fun and some much needed down time.  This weekend the cousins are visiting from Maryland and next week my parents are stopping by for two days.  It's the perfect way to end the season and start back to school.  We have so much to look forward to this Fall.  I just found out I will be finishing up my preclinical student-teaching tasks in a third grade classroom and so I am so looking forward to that experience, which will be kind of new for me.  Having a degree in Early Childhood Education and then working in a first grade room, I have much more experience with little kiddos.  Third grade is going to be a whole new ball park for me and I am so excited for the experience!  I think I'm ready.  No, I know I'm ready.

Friday, August 15, 2014

meet chewbacca. our newest, cutest family member.

We're smitten, to say the least.
Not even Mojo can resist gazing at her, or glaring, whichever.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

home again, home again, jiggity-jig.

Can we just have summer last a wee bit longer, please?  I am already beginning to see photos of other people's kids on their first day of school in my Facebook feed and, although those kids are too stinking cute, I'm not quite ready to see that stuff.  I feel like I just got into my summer groove.  It took me awhile this year, to really let summer sink in and allow myself to go with the flow.  I felt like I had to keep moving, keep traveling, keep doing home projects, keep entertaining the kids... keep doing anything to stay busy.  Now that we are back from one of the best vacations ever, I am finally chill.  I found my balance, my chi is stabilized.  But we are only 10 days from the first day of school, when we will be forced to wake up so so early, make lunches ahead of time, and study our brains out.  Will I be ready in ten days???  Will I find myself suddenly praying for school because I simply can't handle one more minute of summer?  Part of me hopes so, just so the transition doesn't hurt so bad.

Since vacation, I've been feeling so good, like really good. That's probably why people take vacations, with the goal of feeling good, but sometimes they seem to cause stress instead.  You know how that is - traveling with kids, negotiating daily plans with a group of unique individuals, spending money, making food, etc.  But I came home completely content and refreshed and just right.  This week, I've suddenly become really good at housecleaning without anger (this is like practically unheard of).  Cleaning toilets used to get me really riled up and agitated, but I've somehow made peace.  I didn't even curse once.  This happy week, I've been cheerfully scrubbing and cleaning and folding and rearranging.  If I could whistle, I'd do it! I've also become a happier driver, but probably mostly due to the fact that I'm not a minivan mom any longer (can I get a what-what).  I've been opening the sunroof of my new, hip vehicle and blasting my pop music as I drive along. Of course I'm old, so I turn down the volume whenever I reach a stoplight, but oh boy am I having fun!  After 15 years of minivans, I feel like I've been reborn. :)

In other news, I've also started looking for a kitten to adopt.  You know, to replace Elyssa.  Haha!  Elyssa cannot be replaced, of course.  I'm not even going to go into the sad, horrible story about my experience trying to adopt from Petco, but dang, there are some rude ladies working there and so we will be looking elsewhere.  The kids are being so patient, but I'd love to find one soon and check that off my list.  Promising kids a pet - how do I get myself into these situations?  Do you have a kitten you could give me?



Monday, August 11, 2014

elyssa flies the coop.

I have known this day was coming.  Elyssa was proactive in her apartment search and so she already had one lined up and had even found her roommates by the beginning of the summer.  A few weeks ago, when she received her keys, I helped move her bed into her new room, so I was already part of the process of things and had completely entered the acceptance phase of her move.  I've always felt with all of my heart that I better love my children as hard as I can while they are with me because there will come a day when I will give them the gift of flight.  Little did I know it would cause so much ugly-cry and strength to let go.

Today started out normal enough.  I figured I had at least one more day of Elyssa at home, but Husband came into the bedroom in the late morning to tell me that she planned to get settled into her apartment today.  I had told her I would help take more stuff down but I guess it was going to be all of her stuff instead.  Since we had just returned from vacation yesterday and were desperate for groceries, I forged a plan that I would go grocery shopping really quick and then return to load the car with Elyssa's stuff.  When I got to Target, however, I just couldn't concentrate on my list.  I found myself loading the cart with things Elyssa would need...toothpaste, milk, orange juice, cereal, freezer meals, chips, her favorite cheese, condiments, butter, bagels.  I forgot ketchup.  I also forgot that she just got a job at a bagel shop, so she probably won't need the bagels, oh well.  I did manage to get what we need for our dinner tonight, but my mind was so focused on how I could take care of my girl and make sure she eats for at least the first two weeks.  But she's smart.  She'll remember to eat, right?

I got back to the house, where Elyssa had moved her boxes and clothes downstairs.  We all ate PB&J real quick and then loaded the stuff into the car.  When it was time, Elyssa handed over the keys to her car, since she won't be needing it while she's at school.  That was just one more clue that this was really happening.  Jack, McKenna, Elyssa, and I all hopped into the car and headed to the apartment to help load everything inside.  We met the roommates, who are awesome, by the way.  I immediately knew that Elyssa is going to have such a good experience and have two amazing friends to share this year with.  After that, it was time to say goodbye.  And it wasn't easy, even if she is only 30 minutes away.  The girls all cried.  The only reason Jack didn't cry is because he was trying to be a man.  I cried, but I didn't want Elyssa to be sad.  I wanted her to know that even though it's hard, it's good.  So, I blubbered as much as I possibly could about believing in her and being proud of her.  With a sad, desperate face, I tried my best to smile and tell her to have fun and rock it.  And then we got in the car and waved, as she waved from her porch.  It took all my might to step on the gas peddle, but I did.  Because that's what needed to be done.  And I stayed strong for McKenna and Jackson because that's what needed to be done.  But big girl has flown the coop and I miss her already.

And here I am, crying again...
I just love her.

put-in-bay, ohio - in pictures

So, it's not Nantucket.  But Put-In-Bay is pretty darn amazing and I plan to go back with Husband for a date weekend or night or anything.  For this first visit, we went for the day and it really was the perfect way to spend our last vacation day, but I really want the full experience of parking my car, wheeling my overnight bag onto the ferry, and immersing myself into island activities for a full two days.  Yes, please.  

The ferry ride was a quick 18 minutes.  Although some folks do bring their vehicles, it really isn't necessary.  Golf carts are the main source of transportation.  Once our ferry arrived, we walked up the ramp and boarded a school-bus-turned-city-bus to take us on the two-mile drive into "downtown."  The ride was $2.50.  Easy-peasy.  Renting a golf cart for 6 was also easy and so was getting around the island in that fun thing.  We all took turns driving it because it is just too fun to zip around in those things.

The monument.  It turns out that Put-In-Bay lays claim to the third tallest national monument (second to the Washington Monument and the St. Louis Gateway Arch).  We took a ride up Perry's Monument  elevator and got a peek at the sky view of the island and surrounding water.  It was beautiful and well worth the wait in line and whopping $3 bucks.

Put-In-Bay just offers such a great family getaway - bikes, golf carts, boats, beaches, food, shopping, fishing.  Plus the fresh, breezy air!  Only three hours from Pittsburgh, I'll be back any chance I get.
Highly recommend!

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