Thursday, August 6, 2009

Goodbye DC






Living close to Washington DC has been the best part about this summer. I will miss having such a cool city to spend Saturdays in. I (so naively) thought we would see everything in each Smithsonian, visit each monument multiple times, and Cutie Bug and I would visit the zoo or aquarium each week. This was not the case, because
a) we could live in DC for five years and probably not see everything
b) it takes an hour and a half to get to said zoo on the Metro, meaning it also takes that long to get home after a long day at the zoo with a sleepy/sleeping two year old.
But really, it doesn't matter. We've seen a lot of things, and been a lot of places (I feel a song coming on) and I am just satisfied and ready to go home!

splash-walk

After a gray, rainy morning....






we get to do this.

a love story

Blogging and I go back a few years. I used to blog on xanga, then sporadically on myspace. I wasn't really familiar with non-social networking site blogging until I was pregnant with Nicolas. Actually, I think blogs really made a difference in my life during that time. I was, to say the least, shocked about my surprise pregnancy and started googling anything and everything I could think of related to it. Those searches led me to many of the blogs I still read today, and of course led me to new ones over the years as well. It opened up a whole new world to me. I had just graduated from college and quit my job as a bank teller, and it was such an in between time in life. Ricky and I were transitioning. We had just been married for 3 months, and our friendships were (inevitably) changing because of it. We didn't have a church home. At a time when most people are filling out job applications and dealing with the transition of student to job-haver, I found myself with terrible morning sickness and really no direction. I had made arrangements to start substitute teaching, mainly because I didn't know what to do with my English degree. Should I teach? Get into ESL? Maybe just freelance write? Those were all things that I was considering, but I just didn't know what I wanted. And it didn't really seem to matter, because I couldn't get up off the couch anyway. It's funny now in retrospect that I saw that situation as so permanent, as though I would be pregnant and puking forever. Really, it was only six weeks. It seemed much longer. But, I have to be honest here. Something other than my stomach was bothering me. I was absolutely overwhelmed with this new reality. Me, a mother? Now? As a product of my generation I never saw myself having kids until later--later probably being closer to 30. I saw the pregnancy as the end of my youth. I mourned. I remember the dread of telling people I was pregnant and having to deal with all the happy reactions. Something I discovered very quickly is that it's not socially acceptable to be unhappy with a pregnancy. How weird, I think. You can end a pregnancy in secret, or be ecstatic about a pregnancy in the open, but what about taking on the responsibility of a pregnancy and acknowledging that it doesn't make you very happy at this moment? Doesn't happen much. I tried. I made (most) people uncomfortable. So I stopped. I kept my feelings to myself and one or two friends, my mom, my husband. And that was okay. I knew full well that I would be happy eventually, but I wanted time to just feel what I needed to feel. I've never been a fan of false cheerfulness.
So, I read blogs. Lots and lots of them. I spent most of my days seeking refuge in this online world. Sounds a bit unhealthy, right? It may have been. But I think it's what I needed at the time. I didn't really have friends with children yet, so I guess maybe it was a little therapeutic to read about the lives of young mothers, even if I didn't know them. It wasn't so much voyeuristic as educational. How did people do it, I wondered. And slowly, I found out. I found out that there are young mothers everywhere. That people have children in all sorts of circumstances. That, really, there was nothing out of the ordinary about my situation. I read painfully honest accounts, and stories that were so funny I laughed out loud. I was comforted.


Slowly, my pregnancy progressed. My fatigue and nausea subsided, and as my belly grew I slowly let this new baby into my heart. I began to anticipate rather than dread. I began to dream again, except now the borders of my dreams were expanded. Largely because of just reading about how other people do life, I figured out how to do life myself. I was inspired to let go of my pre-conceived ideas about life. It wasn't that all my doubts and fears about motherhood went out the window immediately, but reading blogs in a way demystified the whole thing for me. Also, I think that the blog world really emphasized to me the need for community. Though it would be some time before we really found a community to settle into, I saw how important it was. And I knew I wanted to be part of something where honesty is valued, and where it's okay to open up about feelings and trust God with the outcome. Little did I know, I would soon be surrounded by a group of people where this is just the case. But that's another story for another day.

So what's my point? Well, several things I guess. Blogs were an outlet for me; a chance to be exposed to different points of view about life and specifically motherhood. Reading blogs allowed me to work out some of my own issues while reading about other people's issues. It clarified things for me. It was a safe place, because I felt pressured in real life to feel about and respond to my situation in a certain way. And, maybe above all, it distracted me from my life for a bit. I was growing out of a me-centered existence very swiftly; that's painful stuff. I cannot center it all around blogging. But really, blogs were a huge part of my growth, and I think, God-sent.


Fast forward a few years. I survived pregnancy and motherhood (shocking, I know). I'm probably the happiest I've ever been. I am, once again, transitioning. And I have a sweet little boy who, though I didn't always know it, is the biggest blessing I've ever received. And I find myself with some spare time occasionally (well lots of it this summer), so I'm blogging. I don't expect anything too dramatic; mainly I expect to post a lot of pictures and try to say witty things once in a while. And maybe write something painfully honest once in a while. Or make someone laugh out loud. I hope so. Sometimes that's enough.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

nyc

What better way to spend a weekend than to cram yourself onto an island that is already quite crammed? Well. Maybe there are better ways but once in a while I do crave the city life.
This was the first time visiting New York City for both me and Ricky.It did not disappoint. We had about 2 1/2 days to see the city, and like most tourists, we mainly stuck to Manhattan. For the amount of time we had, and considering we had a toddler in tow, we did pretty well. Some of the highlights:
  • A charming hotel just 3 blocks from the Empire State Building (we had a junior suite with, wait for it.....our own bathroom. Just had to throw that in because it was advertised in a way that made it seem quite special. Space is quite the commodity, I know.) Anyway, it was fun to walk around that area each day as we were coming and going.
  • A bus tour that was super-touristy, but perfect for us, since it doubled as a day taxi and let us see big chunks of the city without worrying about navigation ourselves.
  • Walking. One evening we decided to have dinner in Little Italy, and had originally planned to take a taxi. We weren't very hungry yet, so we just started walking, and ended up walking the 30 or so blocks there. We also ran into a very talkative woman who I initially thought was crazy but was in fact just friendly. She asked what route we were taking, and when I told her that, oh, we're just going to walk down Broadway, she said "WRONG." Then it was awkward for a moment, but she the proceeded to explain a much more interesting route that led us through the original Five Points area. Best of all, when we got to Little Italy we were good and hungry. Sometimes on vacation I feel like I'm just eating and eating because I don't want to miss the local flavor, but I'm not even that hungry most of the time. Walking definitely helped with that.
  • Getting rain-soaked during a night-tour of Brooklyn. Well maybe not the shiniest highlight but it made for a funny memory. We had some saran-wrap like ponchos, and Ricky had Nicky inside his. Nicky just curled up and went to sleep, as we sat there, squinting because the rain was falling so hard. Poor Ricky had glasses on so he couldn't see anything.
  • A pastrami on rye from Katz's Deli. It was perfect.
  • The view from the top of the Empire State Building. We waited until the morning of our last day to go up, and there was no line! I loved seeing the outline of Central Park; such a tidy rectangle of green in a sea of tan and gray.

  • The drive up and back. We initially planned to take a train up from Baltimore, but it ended up being less expensive to drive, even with the tolls and parking costs. It was kind of a hassle getting around, but I just love the anticipation of driving somewhere, and then the coziness of driving home. It's when Ricky and I have some of our best conversations I think.
  • Nicky boy's highlight: watching all the "Bob the Builders" at work at Ground Zero.

He's been asking to go "see the buildings" ever since.

Monday, August 3, 2009

fresh

I've sort of been gravitating toward more vegetarian dishes this summer. The hot sticky weather, availability of great local produce, and inspiration from online recipes are all to thank for this little dietary change. I love it, and no one else in the house is complaining much either. So I've set a new goal to continue to make at least 2 vegetarian dinners per week. As Ina Garten would say, how bad can that be?

Tonight: Panzanella and Fried Zucchini.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

august

Our last week here commences, and I for one am feeling a bit restless. Definitely ready to head back to our home and get back to the business of living among familiar people and places, and finish school (hooray)!
Today we enjoyed a long rainy morning and then, feeling the restlessness pretty strongly, headed out to a nearby park. It's one of the best things to do here. Nicky played on the large playground, we walked around and enjoyed the trees, then rented a canoe and paddled around the lake.

Canoeing was frustrating at first, as we slowly went around in circles, but soon we got the hang of it. I left feeling better: relaxed, hopeful and full of peace. I am grateful for this summer--for the beauty of this place, for the closeness our little family has found here, for all sorts of little lessons that I've learned.
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