Friday, September 19, 2014

granting wishes

September is typically a crazy, crazy month; a jump-start to a new school year full of activity and frenzy. I find myself verbalizing phrases like "we live from day-to-day" (or hour-to-hour), or "we're flying by the seat of our pants."  My good husband paused us both for a few minutes last night in the crowded High School auditorium where we were embarking on an evening of meeting our two daughters' teachers to gently remind me that even though we feel carried away by the tide of September-ness, ultimately we are making choices about whether or not we're in charge of the journey.  It's true.  We make choices that throw us face-first into a maelstrom, and also decisions about how we handle the commotion that happens as a natural consequence of choosing it.
With that as a preface, mid-September has to be the most chaotic month to have a birthday. (I have a daughter born five days before Christmas. I stand by my word.)  Planning ahead (WAY ahead) for a celebration in the midst of all the upheaval that is September always feels like the right thing.  This year we made plans.  In July.  We knew that in addition to the bedlam we could predict, there would be the disruption of moving a college student to Idaho.  Purchasing tickets in advance felt right. So we did. Who knew that on the list of events we would not be able to predict, would be a pre-birthday girl stricken by a LONG bout with a mysterious cold virus turned into pneumonia?  Not her.  Not me.
Miss Rooney's solitary birthday wish for a momentous 16th birthday observance was a trip to New York City to see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland performed by the National Ballet of Canada.  The company would be in town for one week only.  I thought we could take a day off from school, have a day in the city, and cap it off with the ballet before driving home the same night.  It was a good plan. Until she missed a week of school because she was so sick.  We consulted with her doctor, and he insisted we go. She was on the mend. We decided to forego the day in the city, lest she miss so much school work she became buried under it. 
The enthusiastic birthday fairy (that's me), picked her up at school during her last class of the day, and whisked her into the car for our four hour ride into the city.  We got there with time to spare, so we took a walk into Central Park and visited the Alice in Wonderland sculpture. It was the perfect way to begin our evening.
 She loved it.  We both did.
From there we made our way to Lincoln Center.
By way of scenes of New York which we love:
 Man on a park bench.
 The Guggenheim.
 Moroni atop the Manhattan temple.
Even though we were short on time, we tried to squeeze as much out of New York City as we could. After the park, we ducked into a Starbucks to change our clothes. I felt very happy to find on-street parking, and we walked a few blocks to the theater.  Rooney was SO SO excited to discover that our visit coincided with New York's fashion week!  Too bad we didn't have more time to explore all things fashion; we did get a kick out of some Drag Queens-for-hire who were staging a mini protest to Fashion Week.  Hilarious.
 Rooney was eager to get into the theater.
We opted out of dinner for fear we might miss something, but neither one of us felt hungry--we were too anxious for the ballet.  Another good reason to return: for a bite (in) the Big Apple.  
 The theater was gorgeous.
The setting was perfect.
We had front row balcony seats on the right.  We felt like VIPs in our own box. It was a very intimate setting.  I don't think there's a bad seat in the house.
 We especially loved having a birds eye view of the Orchestra.
It really was amazing.
 The dancing was exquisite, the cast was fun and full of personality, and there were some entertaining surprises.  Bravo!  The National Ballet of Canada nailed it.
It was a perfect night.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was breathtaking and my blonde ballerina can't wait to come back.
Turning sixteen at the ballet was magical.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

meeting online ...and in person

In the early days of social networking, I sort of cringed at the idea of "meeting" someone online. It seemed risky. I found that as my comfort with the world wide web increased, so did my desire to expand my world. Especially when it came to friendships with strong, independent women who are living to make a difference in the world.  I met my first online friend in 2008. Then I met her in person in 2009 when I flew to Utah with Yonder, to help him get settled into his freshman year of college. It was invigorating! She was a friendly blogger with whom I had connected through my own attempt at a foray into the world of blogging, and it turns out she was even more delightful in person. We ate ice cream. We talked about the Kennedys and Boston. She has Massachusetts connections, so we met again a few years later on a sunny day in Boston when she was here for a visit. We took a walking tour of the back bay, enjoyed some time catching up, and snapped a selfie on the common before we parted.
Since then, some of my closest friends have been women I've met through online and blogging connections.
Thank heavens for the internet!
My life is fuller and richer for it.
Recently, on my trip to Idaho, I realized that I would be driving through the town of Brigham, Utah. Jody, another friend I had yet to meet in person lives there.  I become acquainted with her several years ago via an online motivational program that brought women together from all over the country (and Canada, too!) in a positive forum where we challenged ourselves to be physically fit, and also incorporated other ways to  pull our more complete and balanced lives together in a loving, supportive forum. It was called The Resolutionary Challenge.  I participated, along with Jody, for a few years, and loved the results; mainly the friendships gained as a result of encouraging one another and working towards common goals.
I called Jody as I traveled towards her town, and she was so kind to say yes to an impromptu after-nine-pm visit. 
I enjoyed meeting her husband and visiting with them for a few minutes in their home.
They were gracious about granting my wish to see the newly opened Brigham City Temple, and drove a few miles with me (so I wouldn't get  lost) to see it and bask in its beauty for a few minutes before making my way back down the highway.
I'm grateful for my friendships!
Life is SO SO much better when we enjoy meaningful relationships.
I felt like I had already met her; and then knew for certain we were meant to be friends when she slipped me a bag of chocolate on my way out the door. The chocolate didn't last long. But our friendship will.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

and then there were three

Having three kids at home is testing me. I have not found myself easily down-shifting to this new life as a five-member-family. I'm still setting the table with the wrong number of plates. I'm making dinners that are too large. I'm not used to the shift in social dynamics around the house. Where there were once six kids, we are now down to a paltry three. You'd think I would be tap dancing to an emptier laundry room and rejoicing over fewer mouths to feed.
I'm not.
I do love how these kids stick together, though.
They seem to innately sense that they need to rub shoulders as much as they can, because we'll blink and then the next one will fly the nest and launch into the great wide world.
And it IS great!
I just sometimes wish it weren't quite so wide.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moving the college student to Idaho: a tale for which you might want a comfy chair and some refreshment

To say the past week has been a whirlwind of adventure would be a gross, gross understatement. I've had a fantastic journey from east coast to west and back again, depositing Sweet Mesquite on the campus of BYU Idaho, where she is now thoroughly immersed in her first official day of college. We flew from Boston to Baltimore, and then on to Salt Lake.  Our first stop: BYU Provo and a ride on Yonder's new bike.

We met some of Kristine's family. They're delightful. Their front yard is the Provo temple. That's not a hard view to live with.
After my turn on the bike, we drove north to a shared meal and some camaraderie with our dear dear friends The Parsons.
 They are our most favorite Massachusetts expatriates in Utah.
 We tried to leave and they turned a hug into a Mesquite wrap.
We feel stuffed to the brim with love whenever we get together.
There weren't many hours left in the day by the time we reached my brother's house. We expressed our gratitude, fell into bed, and were rolling out before the sun the next morning to drive across the northern border:
If it were not for our need to reach our destination by a certain hour, I would have stopped at least a dozen times on the drive to take pictures of the amazing things I saw. Including, somewhere many miles off an exit in the remote wilderness of somewhere-in-Idaho, a nice man in overalls with the most facial hair I've ever seen around a mouth with no teeth, who directed us down a dirt road to the nearest gas station so that we could take a much needed break. The morning temps were in the low 30s, so the big crop sprinklers on auto that morning were turning everything they touched into ice. It was quite beautiful, and a little shocking on September 12th. I do harbor a teensy bit of photographic regret. Except there were a few moments where I couldn't help myself. Like proving to my speed limit 65 people at home that we were driving a lot faster than that most of the day:
I did manage to stick my camera out the car window a few times (NOT while driving 80 of course)
After a week of many hours of driving and traveling, I know my family was nervous about the possibility that I might become drowsy behind the wheel. I will tell you that I was honestly so enamored with my surroundings, that I was just too visually stimulated to be sleepy.  For that I am grateful.
Four hours and a few turns later, we found ourselves on South Yellowstone Highway (Yellowstone is just a short drive east of campus) and turning onto the university's main street.
 We checked in, moved in, met roommates, picked up text books, got a college I.D. and explored the campus.
Mesquite's apartment is located about 60 seconds from campus. It was a short walk to everything.  
By dinner time I needed to head south, so we said our good-byes and I left her by the side of her adorable room mate.
 They're in college!
And they're going to ROCK it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

She's sweet; she's sixteen

 For what it's worth, I think this sixteen year old daughter of mine is pretty fantastic. She turned sixteen in the middle of a LOT of chaos this year; (wasn't she just turning eleven?!?) remodeling a house, moving a daughter across the country to college, and gracefully handling a terrible case of pneumonia that lasted more than two weeks.
 She just strapped on her birthday sombrero and we fiesta'd.
Happy Birthday Rooney!
(more on granting her birthday wish in a future post)
You're sweet AND sixteen.