Monday morning Ashley and I took the kids to the Children's Science Museum. This was a big destination for us when we were both growing up, but she hadn't yet ventured out to the museum with four kids by herself. Hmm, can't imagine why not? ;) Anyway, between the two of us there were (barely) enough adults to cover four little people with wildly different agendas. Haha. It was a blast. And then I needed a nap.
This is the story of seeing Melissa + Co. after having not seen her for seven years. Susie, her oldest, just turned ten. I remember being at home school band when Melissa showed up all fancy and engaged to "Daniel" (the rest of us called him Dan) and showed us her blingy new ring. Fast forward to 2018. She and Dan have been married "for forever" and are parents to six totally awesome kids. Melissa hadn't met Charlie yet, so while she was soaking him in, I was staring in shock at her own kids. Where had they come from?? Last time I saw Melissa she had one, maybe two kids. Now there were six. They looked nothing alike, which I mentioned to Melissa. Melissa said sometimes people ask if they're tired of having more kids but she replies that since they're all so different, there are no repeats and they're still interesting. :)
I thought this week would never come! I was just pushing through my work, trying to write reports and cross milestones in order to meet The Big Deadline right before I left for Minnesota. At 10pm Thursday, I logged onto my computer to check in for my morning flight and I was still getting work emails! The point I'm trying to make is, I didn't get a chance to look forward to this vacation until I was on the plane flying to MSP. And then it hit. I was off work for five days and my BFF of 20 years (whaa-) was picking me up from the airport! Cue all the dance music!
Can you believe it? Sixty degrees and sunny! Sarah and I were itching to get out of the house so we took the two dogs down to Breton Bay for some sunshine and exercise. Dogs are so fun! I can't believe Sadie is 16 and Sasha is 10. Where has the time gone?
The weekend arrived so much faster than I thought it would, and before I knew it, Maura and Sarah showed up at my house to pick me up for the women's conference! Even though it was nearby, Maura booked a hotel room for the three of us. After a late lunch of blackened fish tacos, we headed to the hotel to drop out things off and get a quick workout in at the hotel gym. We had just enough time to get changed and head over to Reston Bible Church for the Friday evening portion of "Cultivate". Cultivate is Kelly Minter's ministry. She was the keynote speaker, and her teaching was phenomenal.
It was the day of the Super Bowl: Eagles vs. Patriots (should have been Vikings vs. Patriots… that still stings). But we had a more important game to attend. In Philly no less. What was it? NCAA Mens Basketball: Villanova vs. Seton Hall. This was a special game, not because of who was playing, per se, but because of who was watching. The whole "Jersey Crew" showed up in support of Seanathair's birthday. Shan's alma mater (one of them) was Villanova, the prestigious Catholic university in Philadelphia.
Surprise!! Brian planned a spa day for me at the Marco Island Marriott Resort!!!
We went to Florida! …Again! After two months of terrible fluctuating weather and knock-you-on-your-seat illnesses, both Brian and I were desperate for some Vitamin D. That Vitamin D came in the form of a one-day trip to Florida. We flew out early Saturday morning, spent the day goofing off, and caught a 9pm flight back. I wouldn't recommend this as a regular practice, but every once in awhile it's worth the long day (and subsequent sleep recovery days). And just looking at pictures of us wearing shorts makes me smile.
Ah, New Jersey. How I've missed your salty air, your wonderfully sunny beaches, and your small town charm. It's like coming back home and being greeted with 20 oz. of Wawa coffee. It never gets old. I forgot about your "teacup handle" left turn roadway design. Not impressed. Perhaps we can discuss that later.
This little goofball turned two! Tully and Megan invited us up for Declan's big birthday bash. And it was big! There were easily 50 people there, at least a third of whom were kids. A lot of family traveled in to make it, plus friends and coworkers with their kids in tow. Brian and I came the night before and helped with setup. In all, the backyard held a tent for shucking oysters, a wildly popular inflatable bouncy house, a cool sandbox house, and Tully's newly licensed and purchased hotdog cart (Hero Dogs). That doesn't even account for the food and drink spread. At first I thought, "why would you go through all this effort" but then I saw the massive windfall of gifts – plus the fun of hosting a party – and my mind totally changed. Big birthday bashes for everyone! :)
…so of course we went to the best seafood restaurant on the Patuxent River.
The week leading up to this weekend was long for both Brian and me. Extended hours at work with new projects and "school" with fast-approaching deadlines meant that we didn't see much of each other. While we wanted to see family, we also wanted to collapse in front of the TV, or maybe just sleep for a few days! That is not how real life works, though. :) Saturday was full of chores and errands. The funny thing about that was, once the house was clean, the fridge full, and the dog walked, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders and I once again had the energy and desire to give back to other people. And that's good because we had big Sunday plans!
Our last-minute plans to drive to my parents' meant that lunch with Brian's mom and sisters got postponed a week. But instead of them coming to Old Town for a picnic lunch, Brian and I drove down on Saturday and we had a celebratory dinner at their house. Sarah decorated the kitchen and picked out coffee ice cream to go with the decadent double-chocolate cake we ate for dessert. Elena made me a pair a turquoise earrings and Sarah got me a handful of things, including an oversized coffee mug and a fall weather blouse. The group of us chatted around the table, and chatted on the deck (easily my favorite part of the house), and that evening we drove to the water and chatted on the dock while watching the sun set over the bay. It was a great birthday celebration, one I will not soon forget.
This was a super last-minute trip, to the point where Mom wasn't sure whether to mail my birthday card or hand it to me. Ha. Sorry, Mom. But it wasn't really indecision; more like a lack of time to make a decision. Brian and I had a lot going on leading up to Labor Day weekend: Brian had just started a new job and was spending a lot of overtime there even in the first week. He spent his remaining waking hours studying our budget and spending trends. I was busy with a couple big work projects, and all my free time was spent on homework for this certification I'm trying to get. We were also looking into flights to MN that turned out to be prohibitively expensive. Our only two sources of relaxation were walking Sasha and watching the US Open (btw, how fun is professional tennis??).
The eclipse wasn't a big deal until suddenly it was. And that was about 15 minutes beforehand. Alexandria and I went out for some iced coffee around 2, and on our way back to the building we saw several of our coworkers gathering on the market square across the street. Not to be left out of the fun, she and I joined the ever-growing crowd. What's fun is that some people actually came prepared: Alexandria brought paper with holes punched in it, another person brought a FedEx box with a similar eclipse-viewing contraption, and a few people even brought official eclipse sunglasses (which they kindly passed around).
While off-roading the beautiful Virginia mountain trails we came across a fire tower with a stunning view!! What an adventure. <3
This is just a quick shout-out to our good friends Christine and Edgar. They invited us and some other really sweet friends to their house for a BBQ. Everybody had a great time. Edgar made us some world-class ribs, sausage, and pulled pork on the Big Green Egg, and Christine worked equally hard prepping the house. ;) After lunch we thought about playing a board game, but the kids convinced us to spend the afternoon outside while they shrieked and giggled on the slip-n-slide. It was a good call. Those kids played hard, and it was adorable. I especially liked Esteban's excitement at getting rocket launched down the slide, even though it usually meant careening off the edge. Haha. Boys will be boys. As a side note, Ali and Scarlett are almost the same age – Ali just turned 7 and Scarlett is 6.5… how crazy is their height difference?!
Happy birthday, Maura! We had so much fun spending the day with you.
I'm not sure when exactly it started, but Brian and I have created a loose tradition of going out to eat for date night once a week. The warm weather probably has something to do with it. We try to go to places with outdoor seating to take full advantage of our summer nights. It's been a great way to reconnect at the end of a long day or week. It provides a great excuse to slow down, set down our electronics, and interact with the people in our community. Or just each other, if that's what we want. :) This particular night we grabbed quesadillas from California Tortilla. As we sat outside enjoying our food, fireworks started going off. They were coming from the nearby town center. Dusk had settled by the time we finished eating, so Brian put the top down on the convertible and we went on an impulsive drive toward the source. It was so fun to see the fireworks from inside the car. A bunch of people were pulled over on the side of the road to watch, and the town center parking lot was nearly maxed out. We squeezed in and enjoyed being part of fun – even though we had no idea what we were celebrating! Haha.