Monday, March 31, 2014

Boston Day Two

A new day made everything brighter.  J was at his conference by 7:00 and I woke up a few minutes before he left.  A luxuriously lazy morning for me, and only hunger for breakfast (and knowing that things would be open soon) pushed me out the door around 9:00.  

I found the train station, and a ticket window to purchase a pass for the week.  Public transportation is a beauty here- an $18 pass will get me anywhere the subway, bus, or ferry can take me this week.  I also found breakfast (a steak and egg wrap) and enjoyed people watching while I ate.

I took the subway out to town and went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  It was amazing, and HUGE.  I started at. 10:30 and didn't finish the first floor till1:30.  I grabbed a sandwich at the shop (BLTA on a croissant) and tackled the second floor for the next few hours and then found the one staircase in the corner that would take me to the basement- there was a John Audobon exhibit I especially wanted to see.  Definitely recommend this museum to everyone who likes to walk :). My favorite exhibits were the Impressionists, musical instruments, jewelry, pink in fashion, Dutch painters, the later European portraits, Ancient Egyptian... There was really a ton of exhibits.  There were perhaps a dozen fully furnished period rooms to view that were also very cool.

Here are some pictures I snapped of my favorite things-

I love how Van Gogh accented with black lines and used such intense colors.

Everyone loves Degas, right?  Interestingly the placard noted that while modern audiences view her as graceful and lovely, contemporary audiences viewed this as a grotesque representation of a scrawny girl.

Monet's colors are wonderful.

Again, with the bright colors and outlined in black.  This wasn't a large painting.

This statue of Columbus made me giggle- the picture doesn't capture his hilariously intent and burning gaze as he receives his inspiration to make his travels.

This was terribly cool- a collection of ROUND seals used on clay tablets.  The pictures they created were so dainty and stunning.

This picture reminded me of the artist in Kiki's Delivery Service.  Love the purples and greens.

Ernie and I studied Albrecht Durer in school this year, and this fellow was influenced by that man's rabbit painting. Love the details and colors.

I didn't finish at the museum until 4:30- I intended to try for two museums but ran out of time :). I caught the train back towards town and got off at Boston Common to poke around.  Back home Spring has arrived- daffodils, azaleas, hyacinth, forsythia, flowering quince are all in full bloom.  Here, nothing is in bloom.  There is not a single green thing out there.  I was hoping to see some color at the public gardens!  Alas.  I saw lots of statues, though.

Here is George Washington.

State House

The morning was cold, windy, and wet.  By the evening the rain had stopped but it was still in the 30's and windy.  My excellent Seattle-Style jackets kept me dry and warm- can't beat fleece under a water-proof rain parka.  Plus, my pickle-green self got more than one second glance yesterday among the sea of black coats :)

After I walked through Boston Common and the public gardens I found dinner a few blocks away (a nice apple cider and soda drink and a steak sandwich) and then wandered down Newbury, the "Fashion Street."  It was billed as a Rodeo Drive but it's not very big :). 

It's funny, but Boston really reminds me of Seattle so far.  The weather is just like ours, the building styles are so close to Pioneer Square area (so far.). People here are more professional though, in everything.  There are lots and lots of young, white, male professionals.  They are exactly the boys I went to business school with, with the perfect hair and perfect jeans and shiny shoes, and they all walk around complaining how busy and stressed they are .  So that's different than our Seattle boys who seem to be constantly laughing at their lives!  So there's that kind of professional, but even the art museum attendants and sandwich shop clerks just leap to attention whenever I speak to them.  That is very different from the laid back, friendly, vibe at home.  I also have not seem a single homeless person or mentally ill person.

After wandering a bit I got back on the train towards home.  I took two trains and then figured I was close enough, I'd walk the last mile or two.  J decided to play hooky from the big dinner at his conference last night so after I got back to the hotel we went back out to find him som dinner.  We ended up walking to Chinatown and he ordered a few plates of dumplings at the busiest restaurant we could find (figure that was a good sign!). We stopped for fro-yo afterwards and they have different toppings here- longan, rambutan, red beans, lots of jellies... I loved it :). 

We walked back to the hotel and I took a scalding bath- J walked 6,000 steps just at his conference and to town and back, I can't imagine how many I walked those twelve hours I was out!  

My prayer in the morning was just that I be able to find meals and not get lost.  He answered that brilliantly and I had a wonderful day!  It's extremely rare to get dropped off in a strange city, alone, with no responsibilities to attend to.  Super fun, though!

Boston Day One

My husband has a conference in Boston this week, and we had the mad idea that I could tag along and see the town while he studies.  Surprisingly, my family though this was an AWESOME idea and extended multiple offers of watching the kids for most of the week!  Our family packed up Saturday, attended Sacrament Meeting Sunday morning and then drove over to my parents' congregation.  The kids happily said goodbye, we left them in my sister's usual pew, and we left for the airport.  Sleepovers with my parents are a rare treat for the kids, they couldn't wait to do it multiple nights PLUS my mom booked a night for everyone at Great Wolf Lodge. (The idea of being guests in a new primary, and being sung to, was also extremely attractive to the girls.). 

We arrived at the airport, parked the car, got through security, found the gate... And earned the distinction of being the first people there by about two hours.  I really thought getting through the airport would take more time and didn't realize we had no need of checking in.  J was a sweetheart and went along gamely with my mad dash to get to the airport quickly.  We watched the planes come and go and munched on granola bars I packed.  The flight was then delayed half an hour due to bad weather in Boston, so we had plenty of time to relax!

This was our first time flying Jet Blue- I was impressed!  Clean, leg room, and lots of snacks.  There wasn't a meal available though, only snack boxes- meals are only available out of certain airports right now and a box of crackers and wrapped cheese didn't sound any better than our granola bars and jar of peanuts.

This picture is for my kids- it's our summer vacation spot, Chelan.

It was amazing to fly over the Great Lakes area- I had no idea it would be so large or that it would be frozen over.  Beyond a trip in sixth grade, I can't recall ever flying East.

We hit the worst turbulence after this.  I cried like a baby and realized just how scared I am of flying.  Take offs and landing I normally just shut my eyes and breathe deep, although I like landings better because I can try to mentally calculate the risk of damage if we were to crash land and crash landing on take off never seems to end well.

We landed safely at 10:30 pm local time, and I was again surprised to find out that I just wanted to be home with my babies.  A silly thing, since it took so much trouble to get here and people are being so kind to make this even possible, but it was late at night, 36 degrees, absolutely pouring rain, and I left my rain boots and scarves at home.  (Warmer weather should come Tuesday, but my last weather report pegged it arriving Monday.  Whoops!)  It did not inspire warm feelings. 

 We found the queue for taxis and made it to our hotel.  It is beautiful and huge, the staff is super friendly, and the bed is great.  We are on the 11th floor and have a nice industrial/water view that is fun to watch.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014

My sister, Mom, and I were lucky enough to sing at a recent stake Relief Society meeting- the composer thanked us after the meeting, that was pretty cool!  My sister and I met our high school friends for lunch- we've met nearly monthly for the last few years.  So grateful for that!  We tried out the new Ramen shop (very yummy) and treated ourselves to frozen yogurt next door.

Cocoa decided to sit himself down in my garden and try to plant himself too .

He also decided that his Tiny Toilet is a great stool and my jars are cool things to play with.

He also gives his uncle a thumbs up on his birthday.  I get a lot of pictures of this kid, the girls tend to play in other parts of the house and he still orbits around me.

I adored the outfit E changed into after Zumba this week.  What a cutie!  I can't believe what a tall and beautiful girl she is becoming. So graceful.

I really, really, really do not like playing board games.  I caved when Mimi asked in her adorable lithp, with her messy bed head, would I please play Sorry with her?  Oh man.  We played, Ernie joined us, I only lost my patience three times, and she cried when I won.  I think they had fun over all.  What a blessing that their dad loves board games as much as they do!  

Cocoa is loving our deconstructed backyard- he went out in his boots and jammies this morning, to do work with his little toy hammer.  Every pair of shoes he owns is covered in mud, and I am mopping my entry twice a day.  But, I love seeing him in his gloriously busy and dirty element.  My uncle came to frame the new patio and Cocoa kept him company- he especially liked the part where I brought out fresh chocolate chip cookies.  That's part of my uncle's fee ;)

I had my piano lesson tonight- we spent half an hour on about 16 measures of my Brahms piece.  It's funny- she keeps comparing me to children (they have six- year-olds at this school who play better than me) because I am learning the same exercises they are but last week told me I could very well be a concert pianist.  I vacillate between hope that I will eventually get somewhere and despair of ever being cured of my clunkiness.  It's not intuitive for me, and I laughed when our lessons arrived at what two voice teachers failed to create in me: the ability to make long and connected phrases with appropriate tempo and dynamic changes.  My piano music is covered in the same notes my voice music was: keep on the breath!  But, I started lessons five months ago unable to play for more than half an hour before I needed to stop because of the pain in my wrists.  That's not even an issue anymore, so I guess that's one way of measuring progress!

March 20, 2014

This is what the yard looked like Sarurday morning.

This is what Mimi looked like after I trimmed her hair and painted her nails- we had a girl afternoon while people worked outside.

This is what Ernie looked like shoveling rock for six hours to earn money for a rainbow loom.  

This is what J looked like eating Greek food Saturday night with the family.

This is what the girls looked like eating fro-yo after we stopped at Michaels for a rainbow loom.

This is what our yard looked like Sunday morning after a big rain.  Basement stayed dry though!

This is what Cocoa's hand looked like after he snuck into the nail polish.  Surprisingly he made no mess, and put the lid on tight.

This is what took me a week to eat.  It was VERY good.

This is what our yard looked like before we dug.  So much water- we beat the March average by the sixth of the month.

This is what I looked like after I cut my hair.

This is what J and Cocoa look like when they make guitar picks.

This is the playroom after I took a few hours to clean it up again for the kids.  They spent the rest of the afternoon in there!

This is my girl who used to hate writing, creating a long story.

This is the third truck load of rock.  That guy in the yellow shirt is Cody- we hired for the day and he had already been working six hours moving dirt around the yard.  He stayed until 8 taking wheelbarrows of rock around the yard!  I shoveled 4-8, J joined at 5, a neighbor joined at 6:30 and another came out for the last few minutes of daylight. It was a mad scramble at the end but we got all nine yards moved. My dad was a gem and answered my text to him quickly- he came bearing pizza and cookies and spent the evening watching Frozen with the kids and got them ready for bed so I could shovel.  I have spent many days tending kids so others can do work, I appreciate that he was willing to come and take that job so I could lift a shovel to put our home back together! 

 ( Side note- work projects seem to always involve pizza and donuts.  J has lost three inches off his waist in this whole process, and I am certain I did not do the same while watching the kids.  Harrumph.)

This is the yard this morning- messy, and patio still needs to come in, and we have lots of clean up, but the big jobs for the French drain are done, and we already know it fixed the problem!  The basement is clean and dry, and we will caulk up the crack today.

Ernie is... Doing research for a report.  And is possibly a ninja.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16, 2014

Looking out the dining room window on the second story, down at the French drain and pipe along the side of the house.  It has been raining all day, and the basement is dry!  

Backyard is an awful mess though.  It isn't as bad as it looks, but that clay is a boot-stealing bully. J lost his shoe a few times yesterday.  You can see the rocked French drain and the final resting spot of the greenhouse slab.  Next jobs are to finish moving all the dirt taken out of the drain, order more rock and fill in the rest of the drain, and level and clean up the yard just enough to move on- put the greenhouse back together, smooth out the backhoe tracks.  Pouring the patio is the next crew job- the patio will go from the house to the French drain, to drain water away from the house.  Final landscaping comes last.  Can't wait to see it all put together!  We will throw a big BBQ!

I don't mean to complain, but it is interesting to me that while I don't feel particularly worried about all this-- I'm not making huge lists or obsessing-- I am still very stressed.  I have had nightmares, upset stomach, the kind of headache that puts me in a scalding hot shower in the dark.  Our basement first flooded, majorly, about a month ago.  We have been spending weekends and nights on this for a month, and I have worked hard to keep things normal for the kids and to try and make sure school and meals still happen.  This week was good.  The week before, I don't recall cooking a meal and I know the kids spent an entire day at their cousins' playing while J and I cleaned water from the basement.  After this gets taken care of we get the fence built (a two day project) and then start the huge process of putting the basement back together and remodeling the kitchen.  I could list off dozens of reasons why I should not be stressed, because really things are awesome and this is all going so well and we have had so much help it is almost an embarrassment of riches, but it is still there.  

At this point, because so many have helped, it feels like a personal failing and I am working on trying to get this out of my system and find peace- just let it flow around me.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pictures to share

iPhone dump time!  I missed sharing these pictures.

C woke up with a streaming cold on Monday and was so very tired and grumpy.  I let him play on my iPad next to me, but only after I had slipped it inside a ZipLoc baggie.

More rain on Monday- a few inches of standing water all over the yard.  This hasn't happened before this year that I can remember!  This is before the trucks came, before we moved the greenhouse, before we moved the slab, before we moved the plants.

I never really cooked last week- we are a combination of leftover pizza, restaurants, and at other's houses I think.  I managed to cook this week, but only weird things.  One night it was tuna salad on crackers.  (We also had lime honey shrimp with rice, and smoked salmon and cream cheese with a loaf of sourdough on other nights.  I'm cleaning out my freezers!). The kids are loving all these dinners.

I splurged on new toys for the kids this week- they have been so great about losing their main playspace and needing to abide by "upstairs rules" in all their games.  Schleich figurines were on sale- I picked up a fairy, a unicorn, a grandma and a baby, and a knight with a big black horse.  I taught the kids how to make a world for them out of scarves, and they had a ton of fun with this.  I love that I was able to find characters they all loved- c claimed the knight and horse and slept with them most of the week.  M loves the fairy and unicorn of course.  E loves having a grandma and baby to be in their games.

C left his knight in the kitchen and it made me giggle.

E was less than thrilled to start math one day.  

We had our music group this week- I made ivy wreaths for all the kids.