Saturday, April 27, 2013

Anniversary

Another year has sneaked past me, and I am happy to say that I have been married for seven years! This has been an unusual anniversary for us, however. Jeff is in Africa on his first trip for work, and I am in Nebraska visiting my sister and her family. We both return home on April 30. That will mark the longest we've ever been apart since getting married, twelve days. The nice thing about living in 2013 is that even though my husband is in Zambia, I've been able to video chat with him! Internet is amazing. Lusaka is SO far away, and we can have a real-time conversation. Crazy. Do you ever feel like you're living in a science fiction movie? I do sometimes when I think about all of the technology that I take for granted.

Jeff and I went on respective "dates" for our anniversary. My sister and I went out for lunch and frozen yogurt in downtown Lincoln.  Jeff went on an African safari and pet lions. His was a bit more expensive than my date. :)

And a little trip down memory lane . . .
Gosh. Don't we look like kids? I remember when I was engaged and people would say how young I was, but I didn't feel young. I just felt ready to get married. Now I look at my wedding pictures and think, "goodness we were young!" And I'm not even old now, but we sure were kids back then.

I am really excited to hear more about Jeff's trip. He got to see Victoria Falls on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. He got to meet the US ambassador for Zambia, and he has tried some new foods. I still can't believe he has touched lions!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My New Home

This is the eighth state I've lived in during my twenty-seven years, and one thing I've learned is that home (at least for movers like me) is much more than a place. It used to be my parents and siblings. And for a rough bit, it was just me and my stuff (college). And then home became Jeff, and now home is Jeff, Jill, Danny, and Alice. Thus, home for me now is Oak Hill, Virginia, right outside of Herndon, Virginia, located in Fairfax County, just half an hour outside of DC. (Or at least it would be half an hour, if you're driving at like 3:00 am and there is no traffic.)

If you read my last post, then you know I still have a ways to go before Northern Virginia fills the Cincinnati-sized hole in my heart, but I am looking for the positives of my new home, and there are a lot to be found. Sure, there are no Reds, no flying pigs, no Kings Island, no EnterTRAINment, no Union Township library, no Krogers, no Eastgate Ward, and no fenced-in yard, but let me share with you what I do love about this place.

I can walk to the grocery store in five minutes. It is actually faster to walk there than it is to get my kids in the car and drive on the streets. (When I walk, I can cut through the trees rather than drive all the way around.) I can walk to ten different restaurants. I can walk to Goodwill. We could walk to Chuck-E-Cheese if we wanted (and Jill definitely does!). I can walk to a lot of places, because there is a cute little shopping plaza right behind my house, complete with karate, a dentist, a spa, Gold's Gym, and more. Very convenient. I love walking.

I can also walk to the elementary school (where my children, as Caucasians, will be in a minority group, which is unexpected and interesting). I can walk to four small playgrounds and one larger playground. I can walk to two swimming pools.

It's a good thing I love to walk.

A five-minute car ride gets me to the park-and-ride lot where I can park for free (and where in a year or so a new metro stop will be built!). After parking, I can take the bus over to the metro and go pretty much anywhere in the city. Right now my kids are still free on the metro, so it is not very expensive. It takes a little longer to get places on the bus and metro, but I don't have to drive in traffic. I don't have to look for a parking spot. I don't have to parallel park. My kids can move around (they think the "train" is awesome), and I can nurse Alice instead of listening to her cry in her car seat. With Jill and Daniel in a double stroller, and Alice in her wrap, I am a woman on the go.

The metro can take me lots of places, and anything affiliated with the Smithsonian is free, so that is fabulous. There is a lot to see in DC.

Virginia has more flowering trees than I have ever seen (or at least noticed) anywhere else I have lived. I don't know if they are native here, or if the residents here just love to plant them (or both), but they are everywhere: cherry trees, Japanese cherry trees (obviously not native), magnolias, Bradford pear trees, and many others whose names I haven't learned yet.

Five minutes from my house is my church building.

Ten minutes from my house is a park with a nice playground, a carousel, and a Depression-era farm with live animals. And since it's spring, there are lots of baby animals there right now. :)

About twenty minutes from my house are waterfalls you can hike around.

Unfortunately, I am not very close to a library, but there are four within twenty minutes of my house, so I have been visiting the different ones trying to see which one is my favorite.

My house is three stories (without a basement), so I climb a lot of stairs every day and get a lot of exercise. I am not sure what we are going to do once Alice starts crawling. Perhaps get four baby gates. That is going to be annoying. Danny has fallen down the stairs three times, but that was all within our first two weeks here; he hasn't since then, thank goodness!

Oh, and Jeff's job. There are some frustrations, which I think are inevitable in the workplace, but being a government contractor is pretty cool so far. He gets to go on his first trip on Friday. He'll be in Zambia for twelve days! He and some coworkers are going to go see Victoria Falls on the weekend while they are there; that side trip will include a short river cruise and a safari! Like an African safari actually in Africa, not a safari called African because they imported animals to their safari. Haha. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. I know he'll be working, but it seems like such an adventure—multiple vaccinations, malaria medicine, and all! We bought him a camera today, so he had better take pictures.

And my new ward is very friendly. Before we even moved here, we had been contacted by the Relief Society President, Compassionate Service Leader, Elder's Quorum President, and Ward Clerk. Our records were read in our first Sunday here. Our first day in town, five complete strangers showed up to help us unpack the moving truck and carry furniture up to our third story! I asked for two dinners. I received six! I also had people call and show up to help me unpack boxes. We already have home teachers, visiting teachers, our own routes, and callings. I've already been asked to sing and invited to attend book club and playgroup. Two days after I arrived, we had a Relief Society activity, and two different women called to offer me a ride. Whenever I've sat by myself, someone has sat by me. And we've had at least one play date every week with friends, much to Jill's satisfaction. (Granted that last part has a lot to do with how forward/pushy I can be, but everyone says yes and some invite me over to their homers!) I was even "kidnapped" one evening and driven around so I could be shown where things are. So, my ward is a really good example of how to welcome and fellowship. I'm looking forward to remembering names and really becoming part of the ward family. You never replace your old ward families, but luckily the heart always has room to grow and include more.

And one other really cool thing about living here—people come here! I've already been able to have two different families see me while they were on trips here. So that's fantastic. And you should plan your next vacation to come to Virginia/DC, too!


Riding the bus

At the zoo—that's free (courtesy of our tax dollars)! (photography by Jill)

more photography by Jill

We went to the zoo for Jill's birthday. It was an adventure. Note to self: When planning a trip, remember to figure out how to get home on the metro and not just how to get there . . . whoops!

Some of the flowering trees. I don't know what these ones are called. They were much more spectacular a week ago.
Can cherry trees have white blossoms? 
The blue door you see on the right, the first one, is my front door.

This tree is right across from my townhouse. I don't know what kind it is. 
The blossoms look like the carnation flower to me. Anyone recognize it?

So, while there are still days that are harder than others, I am focusing on the positive most of the time, and there are a lot of positives to find.

Which reminds me of another positive. I received a lot of sweet comments, text messages, and posts after my last blog post about how much I miss Cincinnati. Your love really means a lot to me. Thank you so much for loving me! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Long List of Missing

Sometimes I feel like life is just a long list of people I miss. I imagine that feeling is inescapable, because even if you never move, other people will move away from you, and then you still end up having people to miss.

I really like Virginia, but it's not comfortable yet. It's still all new and exciting. And I miss comfortable. I miss friends who already knew me. So I could joke around and laugh instead of make the joke and then apologize because I realize I don't really know them that well and I worry that perhaps they don't think jokes like that are funny.

It makes me sad to realize that none of my kids will remember living in Cincinnati. They are so young, and Danny may have already forgotten it. Jill still talks about it sometimes, but that will fade with time.

I wish I had more pictures of my friends. I look through my pictures, and they are almost all of my kids and my kids' friends.

I miss my library and one specific children's librarian who was amazing.

I miss friends who would do things like buy me Gatorade when I was sick or pick up groceries for me when I was busy and let me write them a check later or just come over and talk to me while I did my dishes or help me eat my leftovers so I didn't have to feel guilty about throwing so much away.

I miss already knowing who I trusted to babysit my children.

I miss grocery stores where I know which aisle to go in to find the tricky items, like pimentos, frozen ravioli, and barley.

I miss having in-laws just ten minutes away who always loved to see my children and always had dinner on the table.

I miss the YMCA with its great programs and the women working there who knew my children's names.

I miss knowing where everything was. I miss knowing where the parks are that have baby swings and which parks have mulch or grass or sand or rubber.

I miss sitting in Relief Society and knowing the face and some of the story of every woman in the room.

I miss familiar.

I miss comfortable.

I miss my old home.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Acquaintable: Why it is the best

I am thrilled to introduce you to the next big thing.

And what is the next big thing?

Well, it is a fantastic new internet dating website—Acquaintable!

Why do we need another online dating website?
Aren't there tons all ready and quite a few successful ones?

We need another one, because Acquaintable is brilliant! And let me tell you why.


1. Other internet dating websites match you up with complete strangers. You may think that is good, because if you were interested in someone you already knew, you wouldn't need a website. But that is not good, because it can be (at best) unreliable and (at worst) creepy. With Acquaintable, you are matched up with semi-strangers! ;) Everyone you are able to view on the website is a friend of one of your friends. (Acquaintable uses facebook to determine who your friends are and who their friends are.) So you automatically have a trusted source on your new possible romantic interests! Acquaintable will even tell you how many mutual friends you have.


2. Other internet dating websites have no way to ensure that the profile information entered is correct. Acquaintable forces honesty! Since all of its information is garnered from facebook, the profile information on Acquaintable matches the profile information on facebook. So a married or committed person couldn't pretend to be single on Acquaintable. (I think his or her spouse or partner would notice the change on facebook!)


3. It is really simple to use! You won't spend a lot of time answering questions about yourself or filling out surveys that remind you of magazines from when you were a teenager. All of your information comes straight from facebook, so all of your stuff is already on the website. And the way you get matched up is by browsing through other profiles that pop up (who, remember, are all friends of your friends!). You see a few pictures and the basic information: age, location of residence, education, religious affiliation, political beliefs, etc.



4. And all of its basic features are completely free!!! So you can use the money you aren't spending on a dating website to actually go on a date with your new "acquaintance"!

So, single friends, please go check it out!

Also, friends who are not single, please check it out! Your profile will be invisible to other users if your facebook status is listed as "In a Relationship," "Engaged," "Married," "In a Civil Union," or "In a Domestic Partnership." So you don't have to worry about someone falling in love with your fabulous self. ;) You'll be invisible! You'll simply be able to browse the site (and possibly feel awkward about "liking" other profiles), so please do it, so you can give the Acquaintable team feedback on the site. They would really appreciate your help!

Why aren't you already checking out the website? 

Oh, do you need the link?

Here you go!


Adjusting

Well, we've been in our home for just over a month now, and I still haven't really established a pattern, which is kind of driving me nuts. I'm torn between wanting to go out and find things to do for the kids and between staying home and trying to figure out how to get Alice to sleep during the day if she isn't being held.

I'm starting to think that the natural state for newborns is to only want to sleep if being held. If you think about it, they were "held" by my womb for their whole lives up to this point, so I guess it makes sense that would be more comfortable for them. However, Alice will sleep at night without being held. From around 7:30 pm to around 5:00 am, she'll sleep in her bassinet by herself. But after the second or third time she wakes up, she will only sleep if she is being held. I usually let Jeff hold her, and when he gets up from work, he leaves her, and she doesn't wake up for a few hours even though she isn't being held. Isn't that funny? So all day and then for a few hours in the very early morning, she has to be held to sleep. But during the night and in the later morning, she'll sleep by herself. Interesting.

While I try to figure out how to get Alice to sleep and get things done around the house, Jill and Danny are enjoying the warm weather we're experiencing now. (The high today is 88!) They play on the porch, water the grass, ride their tricycles on the deck, and have picnics. One of their favorite indoor games is prince and princess, as well as having dance parties. And, of course, they are always desperate to watch movies and always eager to squish their new baby sister.

And here are some photo collages to illustrate how we've been spending our time!


My parents and Jeff's mom have come to visit!

Jill has a lot of dress-up clothes that people have given her: ballerina outfits, a gymnastics leotard, a Dora dress, a Rapunzel dress, a Tinkerbell dress, a cheerleader costume, and a Cinderella dress. No friends have ever given me hand-me down boy dress-up clothes though. Danny always wants to do what Jill does, so he was often found walking around in a dress and heels following his sister around the house, unbelievably happy. My mother-in-law visited and bought him a Superman outfit. Since the cape entered our household, he has asked to wear it every single day and has never asked to wear another dress. I had wondered previously if he just really liked dresses, but since he's never asked for them again, I have decided that he must have just wanted to get to play dress-up, too. He loves running around in his cape and pretending to fly.

Playing dress-up

When my mother-in-law was here, I braved going into the city. I decided I'd rather ride the metro than drive. I had to pay for parking and the metro rides there and back. If I had driven into the city (it would have been twenty minutes shorter, because the metro line to Herndon won't be finished until December), then I would have had to pay the toll, find a parking spot, and pay for parking. The metro is also fun, because I can engage with my kids instead of having them locked in car seats. Once we got there, DC did not disappoint. The cherry trees are in blossom and look gorgeous! I think I could live here my whole life and still not see everything the capital has to offer.


And, of course, we celebrated Easter. We have never done an Easter egg hunt before, but this year we had three! The church did one, the grocery store did one, and we did one at our house. It was a lot of fun. I was surprised by how hard it was for Jill and Danny to find the eggs that weren't really even hidden. Jill and Danny loved the Easter bunny; Danny thought he was really soft and kept rubbing his head on the bunny's leg—awkward. In my picture, down in the corner, I was part of the Easter museum we put on for the primary kids at church. At my museum "exhibit," I showed a representation of Jesus's robe and described what happened at the Mount of Olives/Garden of Gethsemane. It was pretty funny, except for one mistake that made me feel dumb. Oh well. :) I was very impressed by how quiet the children were during the presentations.

The children were asked, "Why do we celebrate Easter?" I held my breath, waiting to see what they would say. Jill said, "Because Jesus died!" I was really pleased that she didn't say "the Easter bunny" or "chocolate eggs," but Jeff replied, "No, because Jesus lived again." And that is a pretty good example of how he has higher expectations for our children than I do. :)

Whenever Jill talks about how Jesus lived again, she always mentions that that is why we know that Tabitha lives again. I kind of love that she still remembers and talks about Tabitha. Today is sweet Tabitha's birthday. She would have been two like Danny. We sure miss her.

We live in an area with a lot of diversity, which is cool. There are a lot of Asians and Indians (like India, not Native American) around here. It is interesting to have my children be the minority at the playground. Two days ago, for instance, we were at the neighborhood playground. There were eleven children there. Mine are caucasian, and all of the other kids were Indian. I wish I were better at pronouncing their names. Jill is doing a really good job of being outgoing, approaching them, and trying to make friends. We've met some nice kids!

So, a little four year old boy asked me where people go where they die. I felt uncomfortable, because I had no idea what religion he was being raised in. So, I replied that I believed they went to heaven, but he would have to ask his parents what they believed happened after death. I hope that was an appropriate response.

It will be interesting for my kids to grow up with the knowledge that there are a lot of different races, religions, and ideas out there instead of assuming (for a while at least) that their parents' way of life is the only way.

So that's what we've been up to.

. . . do you want to come visit??