Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Katie and Mommy's Big Adventure - Day 3 (Picture overload!)

Sunday morning we went back to the pool (and treadmill!) for some good play time before heading off on the next leg of our journey.  I tried to take pictures in the pool area but the pool is inside and it was too steamy to take the pics so I had to satisfy myself with taking pics through the glass.

We headed off to DC right after a lunch of PB and J made from the hotel breakfast (yes, I am a cheapskate, I learned from the best).  The hotel we stayed at in Maryland was very nice.  It had comfortable beds, a decent breakfast, good service, no charge for parking, and a free shuttle to the metro station.  It didn't even cost an arm and a leg.  It was kind of a long train ride but easily worth the $100+ I saved.  

Getting to the National Mall was a bit of an experience.  First of all, we had to take the metro.  Katie has never been on a subway before and she is very sensitive to loud noises.  I warned her that the subway might be loud since it was underground.  My warning, combined with a senses overload of new things, combined to give her a sudden horrible fear of the escalator.  She has ridden escalators at home in the mall but suddenly, going down and up to ride a train was too much.  She was hysterical: screaming, crying, wouldn't move (despite traffic behind us!) hysterical.  She had to be picked up and carried for the first few feet and then I was able to put her down for the rest of the ride.  After the 5th ride, she finally got on and off the escalator only holding my hand like her life depended on it, "And I WASN'T even AFRAID!"  Now she's a professional commuter.

After getting in town, we walked from the Smithsonian station all the way to the Lincoln Memorial and back.  With short legs.  In 99 degree heat and a LOT of humidity.  This was her at the end of the day.  Unfortunately, we were still a loooong way from the subway station...
More pics from the National Mall tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Katie and Mommy's Big Adventure - Day 2 (Picture overload!)

Saturday exemplified a good vacation day for me.  There was no time that we had to get up.  The breakfast buffet at the hotel was extensive.  We didn't have anywhere to be in the morning so we hung out at the hotel pool for a little while and then Katie napped while Granddad, Grandma, and I shared laughs and conversation in the next room.  I actually got to exercise on the hotel treadmill while Katie played with Grandma and Granddad in the swimming pool.  The best part was that the treadmill faced a glass wall that faced the pool so I had a front row seat to watch Katie swimming and playing in the water with my parents.  It was great!

After a relaxing morning of exercise and playing in the pool, followed by napping, we went to a park nearby the hotel.  This was no ordinary park in that it is actually HUGE and has a man made beach, a lake for swimming, two playgrounds, canoeing, and various other activities.  Unfortunately, we settled for 30 minutes on the smaller playground (that was the one we could locate) since we didn't have a lot of time.  Katie wanted to play "Save the Animals" (we're on a Diego watching kick) so Grandma, Granddad, and I all got to be animals she saved at least once.  Granddad is a great playmate!

After the park we headed to the family reunion.  We met lots of people I'd never even heard of (although Grandma gave me a helpful cram session before we went!).  They were distant cousins and great aunts and uncles.  It was nice to meet them and everyone loved seeing Katie.  What's not to like?
 To my never ending delight, she was as well behaved as she was cute.

At the end of a crazy busy day, it all comes down to a good story.
So far, the only downside to the trip is that Katie has been waking up multiple times per night which wakes ME up.  I may need a vacation to recoup from my vacation!

Katie and Mommy's Big Adventure - Day 1

On Friday, Katie and I set out on our journey.  Destination: Baltimore. 

 As far as I could tell, I only left one thing that I wanted to take and it could be purchased so it wasn't that bad.  That is nothing short of amazing.  Of course, it meant that the car looks like it's packed for a month instead of a week but still.

 This is what packing for a family reunion, the sun, the beach, the pool, and entertaining a child in varying weather looks like. 

 I'm still working on figuring out the focus issues on my new camera when it is in all auto mode.

We left Raleigh at 8:35, about what I had hoped for and good timing since that put us in Richmond a little after noon.   When we decided to drive, Grandma and Granddad decided to fly to Richmond the night before so that they could stop at the museum and see the 5 Faberge eggs on display there.  We picked them up with no difficulties and headed on to Baltimore after stopping for lunch.

Katie was great for the morning leg as she had Diego to watch for 3 hours.  By the afternoon she was pretty tired but with Grandma and Granddad in the car she was too wired to sleep much.  We hit traffic in DC when the GPS took us through DC proper instead of around DC on I-95.  Who knew that rush hour in DC starts at NOON on Fridays?!?  More excitement followed when we were in bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate, no where near an exit, when I notice we're running out of gas.  It was interesting to try to find a gas station in DC proper.  The GPS found a couple stations for us, neither of which existed so we had to keep driving around a bit hoping we would find one before the gas ran out. 

Although later than expected, we finally made it to the hotel in Baltimore after meeting family for dinner.  It was too late to try out the pool as we were originally planning so we just cleaned up and changed for bed.  I decided to try out the flash in the dim room while Katie was drinking her night time medicine.  Unfortunately, I both caused and captured the following scene.

Fortunately, I thought to take two pairs of pajamas so it was quick work to change into a new pair and rinse this pair out and hang it up to dry. 

This is my favorite shot of the day as we wrapped it up with a story.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The bright and beautiful face of a child

Couldn't help but share this one now. :)

Katie and Mommy's Big Adventure - Background and Preparation

When my mother first got the call about a family reunion in Baltimore in June, she just added it to her busy travel calendar. Then, I started asking about maybe coming to Colorado for the a week or so with Katie. She just mentioned the Baltimore trip as a time that I should come. Then she got to thinking, "Hey, everybody would love to see Kim (also my name, it's a long story) and Katie at the reunion, they should come!" So, she invited me to come to Denver and Baltimore as one trip. If I tacked Baltimore on the beginning or end of a trip to Denver, they could buy my ticket and entertain Katie for one of the flights to or from since we would all travel together. Then, when I started looking at times I started thinking that I would love to go to Denver and Baltimore BUT, if I went, I would end up being gone for two whole weeks and I have a lot that I need to get done this summer. I was starting to think nothing would get done if I planned on being gone too much.

THEN Jim suggested an impromptu adventure trip. Drive up to Baltimore and stop places on the way up and/or back and just have fun with it. See a few sights and spend some QT with Katie. I liked the idea and Katie and Mommy's Big Adventure was born.

What I thought was going to be a couple extra days is now a week of stops and sights including Baltimore, DC, Williamsburg, Virgina, an airplane park in Hampton, VA, Virginia Beach, and Rocky Mount. We started Friday, June 26 and won't be back for a whole week. Jim is a great trip planner and helped me find things to do, places to go, and hotels to stay in. I probably wouldn't have thought to take this trip without his encouragement and coordinating abilities so this trip is all thanks to him. Thanks honey. :)

After making a plan and booking hotels, I decided at the very last second that my old Powershot camera that takes a full minute to take 2 pictures in a row was not enough to document this trip, so we hastily researched cameras and ended up with one I've wanted for years: the Canon Digital Rebel T1i. I was worried about the price so we decided this would be a shakedown cruise for the camera and if it wasn't working for me I could return it when I got back. It's really nice.

My pics will be hit and miss as I put it through it's paces and figure out how best to use it. Here's my first trial picture the morning we left before the hair police got to work.
I'm going to have SO much fun!!! Pics and stories of our adventure will be posted as time and internet access allows.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The neighborhood walk

For a few weeks in the spring, the weather was nice and we went for a walk after supper. With some luck, we'd get back to the house in time to brush Katie's teeth. Walks have been very pleasant, with Katie setting the pace. Katie doesn't walk ALL the way every time, even though it's only about .8 miles.

We almost always take something with us on the walk. It may be the ladybug ball, a tennis ball, or a scooter. I say "we" because Katie rarely manages the object for the entire sortie. There are special places where Katie needs to hold the ball so it doesn't fall into a difficult-to retrieve place. She's learned to do that well, and she has learned to not run into the street after the ball.

If we encounter someone else walking a dog, we can plan to visit with them for a few minutes of petting (after Katie asks permission) and a discussion of whether the dog is a licker, jumper, or something else. We discuss the animals' names and their general health. Once, Katie asked permission to pet the dog and the owner (our delightful next-door neighbor) politely declined because the dog might nip. What? What?!?! No petting? "But I want to pet the dog. I will be gentle," she protested. A useful lesson followed - no tests as yet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Welcome back summer...You've been missed.

Today begins another summer.  Well, technically, school ended last week with the last teacher workday on Friday but I decided to attend a great training this week with a colleague.  In fact, I ended up beginning some great relationships with other colleagues during our four day training stint.  I think that it was such a great group of people because only the most passionate and dedicated of our profession would give up 4 days of the first week of summer to go to any kind of training workshop.  We laughed, we learned, and we had a great time.  Here's to more great friendships and collaborations in the future!

So, now I am on to summer and the ever increasing to do list that has been piling up all year.  Each year for the last 2 years (since I started teaching full-time), I have utilized my summer to attack the never-ending to do list.  The first year went very well with quite a few things getting checked off.  Last summer, the list went out the window as soon as we decided to move and a whole NEW list arrived in it's place.  Now it is summer again and no moving is on the schedule and the to-do list has been growing. 

Since we moved to our new house after the school year began last August, there are many settling in things that were put on the back burner until now.  While this may seem like all work and no fun, I will feel so much more relaxed when some of these things are complete.  For example, deciding where to keep extra tissue boxes so that, when we run out, we will know where to get extras and when we need to buy more.  Right now, there is no designated place to store extra tissue boxes and so, when they run out in one area, I go buy more, only to find that I have 3 boxes in one cabinet and yet another 3 boxes in some other closet.  I think I may have 10 boxes of tissues stored in some random locations in my house, none of which I can remember or locate when I run out of tissues in the living room.  This may seem a little silly but it is an organizational step that has been put aside until now. 

There are also school work items on my list this summer.  There were several school items on the list last summer that never got done once we decided to move.  I spent the whole year regretting not having completed them since I spent much of the year being disorganized.  Again, it is perhaps not the best thing to spend my summer working at a job where I am not getting paid, but the exercise will improve my school year next year so that I can stop working every day from 7:30-5:30 and then some at home as well.  Next year my mantra is to work smarter, not harder. 

For those that think I will spend my whole summer working, never fear, there are some fun items on the list as well including lots of pool trips, ice cream, backyard play, and some time to sit on the couch and read.  Next week Katie starts going to daycare 3 times/week instead of full-time so that we can have some more time together.   Here's to an awesome summer!