Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Caribbean Hello to You!

Well, the third full day of our vacation here in the Cayman Islands is winding down...three more to go! The time is passing by surprisingly slowly, which is a good thing when you're on vacation. Everything is so relaxed and laid-back here on "island time." We're having a great time in this tropical paradise!

The Cayman Islands are made up of three islands, and we're staying on the main one, Grand Cayman, located south of Cuba. This is one of the most beautiful, clean, crime-free islands in the Caribbean. The beach sands are white and the water is turquoise and vivid shades of the most beautiful blue. There are coconut trees everywhere, which John loves, and instead of squirrels there are little lizards and iguanas running around.

The plane ride here on Saturday morning went quite well. It was easier than I thought it would be. Just before the plane took off, John started crying loudly, so I held him in my lap with him facing me. I was worried that the flight attendant would make him sit in his seat, but it wasn't a problem, so he was able to rest peacefully on me during take-off and then he fell asleep for two hours, which was half of the flight. The only mishap was that he peed all over his jeans (and therefore some on mine too) just before he fell asleep, which was gross, but it dried pretty quickly. Sorry to include that little detail! Everything else went very well after that.

Some of the things we've done so far: went to the beach (duh), which is right by our resort; Peter and I went for a starlit walk along the beach on Sunday night; went to a nice Butterfly Farm; went to the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Park, where I almost died from heat exhaustion and stomachache (it was fiercely hot here yesterday, too hot for a walk in the park!); went to Rum Point, the most beautiful beach I have EVER been to; we've eaten dinner at some great restaurants; went to Sacrament Meeting at the LDS Branch here; went to a Turtle Farm where we got to see the hugest sea turtles and hold some smaller adorable ones; went to Hell (I'm serious! Wait till you see the pictures of Hell!); got some famous Tortuga Rum Cakes (dee-lish!); and just in general relaxed, gone swimming, read, taken bubble baths, gotten caught up on sleep, etc.

Tomorrow we're going to the Pirate's Caves, to some historical places, and we'll go shopping in George Town, the capital here. Before leaving the island we hope to be able to get in a trip to Stingray City, a sandbar in the ocean where you can swim with (gentle) stingrays, and we want to go for a submarine ride to see the ocean life underwater. We might go snorkeling too, which would be cool.

One of my only worries is that John has eaten very little for the past two days. He's drinking a lot and his behavior is fine (he's happy and has been behaving amazingly well), he just isn't interested in eating. He's also had two bouts of diarreah (sorry for this other gross little detail). So I hope he's okay. My other worry is how am I going to fit all of the things I've been buying here in our luggage when it's time to go? There is so much cute stuff available, some of it touristy souvenir things, and some truly beautiful things. I may be in trouble when it comes time to pack my bags and head home!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Afraid, Very Afraid...

...because this Saturday morning we'll be taking John on his first airplane trip, and I'm worried that he'll hate it and we'll be stuck in a small confined space way up in the air for hours with an angry, upset child on our hands. He has a hard time sitting still in one place for very long, so how is he going to sit for four hours straight? (The flight is from Boston to the island of Grand Cayman). I'm hoping he'll fall asleep since we have to get up and leave for the airport early.

Other strategies: I'm bringing some toys and books, new ones he won't see until then and some old favorites of his. We'll also bring a portable DVD player with a few videos. (You have to wear headphones with that, right? What if Johnny won't wear them? Can we still use it or would it disturb the nearby passengers?). Also, snacks and drinks will be essential (although I can't bring juice boxes or any of his favorite drinks from home since they can't go through security--darn it!). I think we'll put him in the seat between us instead of right next to the window...or would putting him by the window be better so that he can look out more easily?

If anyone has any good tips for traveling by plane with young kids, I'm all ears!

I happened to see this article about traveling with children on msnbc.com's front page a few minutes ago. What good timing! I found it to be very helpful, so I'm going to post it here for easy access. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24240009/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clinton or Obama?

Speaking of Philadelphia...who do you think will win the Pennsylvania primary today? I think it's going to be Hillary. It's got to be Hillary in order for her to be able to stay in the race. I think she's going to win it by at least 8-10 points. I'm pretty sure Obama will win in Philadelphia, but I think Hillary will get much of the rest of the state. But I may be wrong; some of my predictions so far have been incorrect. Who do you think will win today?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Philadelphia Fun

We LOVE the City of Brotherly Love! We had a great little trip down to Philadelphia last weekend. It was short; we left on Sunday afternoon to drive down there and drove back home on Monday afternoon. But it was really nice, and I'm so glad that we brought John. It was a "full-circle moment" type of experience to be back in Philadelphia and at Penn with John and Peter, all of us together in the place where Peter and I met and fell in love. We'll probably be back in the fall again for another lecture that Peter is scheduled to give, so I'm looking forward to returning again later this year!

We went over to my friend Katie's house on Sunday night and spent a few hours there just talking and hanging out and having fun. It was entertaining to watch John and Josh, her and Andy's 1-year-old son, play together. If they'd had a little bit more time with us, who knows, they may have convinced me to become an Obama fan. Not likely, but possible!
Peter getting ready on Monday morning to go to class and give his lecture. He's totally lost in thought.
John wanted to get on this motorcycle, but Mommy said no. It was great to be back on campus in the springtime. It brought back so many memories. I was feeling very nostalgic that day. Sigh!

Benjamin Franklin founded Penn (formal name: the University of Pennsylvania) in the 1700s. He's one of my favorite people from history. John got to meet Ben while at Penn, courtesy of the Ben Franklin bench. I like how the sun is shining down in this picture...it looks like a golden seat just for John, as if Mr. Franklin is inviting him to sit there next to him and have a little chat. Perhaps John will someday follow in our footsteps and go to school there. That would be awesome!

This is College Hall, Penn's biggest and grandest building. You know the old show "The Addams Family"? The Addams family mansion is said to be modeled after College Hall (Charles Addams, the creator of the show, was a student at Penn).
Each year the graduating class leaves an "Ivy Day Stone" somewhere on campus. Here's one from 1907 (I love the turn-of-the-century time period) and another from 1990 on College Hall.

Here's John playing on the Button. For years I saw kids playing on this as I walked up and down Locust Walk. Now my son was one of those kids. The story behind the button has something to do with Ben Franklin saying that wherever a button next popped off his jacket was where he'd build his university. That might be a myth, but that's the story they tell.
These three pictures could be a Dr. Suess book...On the button, in the button, under the button.

Johnny wanted to slide down the side of this sculpture, but Mommy said no to that, too.
The blossoming trees of spring are lovely.
Statue of the big man on campus in front of College Hall.
John had a lot of fun running around everywhere. People thought he was so cute (children are somewhat rare on campus, so they stand out more than usual there). He was comfortable and at home there. Maybe it's just in his blood.
Playing in the greenery behind College Hall.
John's two favorite things about the trip: riding the elevators at the hotel and climbing on the LOVE statue. He's still talking about climbing on these letters a week later, and he now knows how to spell "love."
I had to hurry and snap this picture. I was worried that he'd fall off the L!
Hugging Ben Franklin. I love this picture! That settles it, this kid is destined to go to this school someday.
This picture would be perfect if Peter were in it, but he was gone for most of the morning. I was thinking about it and realized that ten years ago, in April of 1998, my father took a picture of me sitting on this bench. I was a high-school senior and was visiting Penn after I'd been accepted, trying to decide between it and Georgetown University in D.C. I'm so glad I chose Penn! Ten years later, there I am on the same bench with my beloved little boy, whose father I met at the school I decided to go to.
This is part of the view from our hotel window, overlooking some of the campus. The red brick building in the center with the rectangular and square windows is Hill House, where Peter and I met during my freshman year. We lived on the same floor and he totally had the hots for me!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Skirts 'n Dresses

The warm weather of spring is upon us, and we're enjoying it very much over here in our neck of the woods (well, except for the ticks. We had to pull one out from behind John's ear the other day!). I'm happy about the change of wardrobe the warmer weather brings. For me, spring and summer clothes are much better than cold-weather clothes. They're lighter, more comfortable, more durable, easier to take care of, and more attractive. My favorite thing to wear in warm weather is skirts and dresses. I love, love, LOVE skirts and dresses! I'm totally addicted to shopping for them, even when I have enough. It's a big weakness for me. I get excited by all the really cute and modest offerings that are out there now. My favorites are usually knee-length and A-line. Here are some of the results of my recent Internet "window shopping."

*Picture captions are above the picture, not below.*

I have an addiction to knee-length skirts, from basic black to colorful patterns and florals.

Knit ruffle skirt from Ann Taylor Loft, $54. This is a versatile skirt that can easily be dressed up or down.

Talbots Ombre stripe & dot fluted skirt, $69 (originally $108). I tried this skirt on a few months ago and I liked it, but the steep price tag kept me from buying it. It's come down in price now, but it's sold out in my size on the website. I like this skirt because you can wear a variety of colors with it, like pink, brown, and green, all colors I like to wear. This skirt is so pretty. Brown lace skirt, http://www.christa-taylor.com/, $39 (down from $55).

Blue is one of my favorite colors to wear. This looks like a perfect summer skirt. Dot skirt from Martin + Osa, $49.95 (down from $98).

The "It" skirt of the season from the Gap. It's cute and it comes in a bunch of different colors. Gap ruffle skirt, $39.50.

I've had my eye on this skirt for about two years now. I want to get it in the blue/green dot or mixed green floral fabric. It has a petticoat underneath, which gives it some nice fullness. Essential summer skirt from Garnet Hill, $88.
Cute! I could wear this skirt with almost any of my summer shirts. Pleated denim skirt, Garnet Hill, $78.
This is an exceptionally pretty skirt, and roses are my favorite flower. Rose embroidered organdy skirt, Garnet Hill, $128.

Beware! Some really cute summer dresses ahead...

This is a nice classic black wrap dress. Faux wrap shirt dress, Ann Taylor Loft, $79.
I have this dress, and I like it a lot. I love its classic, pretty silhouette; it reminds me of the bygone era of the 1950s. It's well-made and very comfortable. Gingham dress, Isaac Mizrahi for Target, $39.99.
This is another Isaac Mizrahi for Target dress, the Herringbone Shirting Dress, for $39.99. I got this one too and I love the classic look of it. It looks like a dress that Hayley Mills wore in The Parent Trap. The only problem is that the neck is scooped a little too wide, so it shows stuff. I need to see how it looks with a shirt of some sort underneath. If it looks funny, I'll have to return it. It's a totally cute dress and I hope I can make it work!
This is a "pretty in pink" dress. Yet again, it's Isaac Mizrahi for Target, Toile-Print Dress, $39.99. I really like Isaac Mizrahi's style for dresses and skirts and I'm bummed that he's leaving Target soon. It's the only way I can afford him! This dress also comes in "silver birch." I wish it came in a light blue or pale green print, too.
Sag Harbor dress from Down East Basics (.com), $34.99. I'm not crazy about the bow around the waist, but other than that, I think this is such a cute dress.
All it needs is a camisole underneath and this pretty blue wrap dress is ready to wear! Chambray wrap dress, Gap, $59.50.
A perfect summer dress. Cotton oxford shirt dress, Ann Taylor, $138.
Yorkshire dress from Shabby Apple (.com), $98. It's wool tweed (lined with acetate, so it's silky inside) so it would be better on cooler days or to wear in the early days of fall.
For special occasions, party dresses are a must...

Silk taffeta ruffle wrap dress, J. Crew, $245 (it would have to be a very special occasion to justify the cost!).
Simple and cute, and in one of my favorite colors to wear, navy blue. You could wear some great jewelry with this dress. Crossover knit dress with ruched waist, Ann Taylor, $128.
Isaac Mizrahi for Target Trapunto dress, $49.99. As I said above, I love navy blue. I have this dress in black, but I like the navy one even better. All you need to do is wear a cute little sweater to cover for the lack of sleeves. (I got a great black one from Ann Taylor Loft.)
This little jacket would work over the above dress. I like it; it's cute and different. http://www.sooncollection.com/
It's prom season! I wish they'd had more modest prom dress options like this one when I was in high-school. I don't think I would have gone with a black dress for prom, but I really like this dress and I would wear it to a formal function today if I had one to go to. Taffeta tea-length gown, http://www.beautifullymodest.com/, $149.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fun With Numbers

It's April 15th...have you done your taxes? We haven't. Thank goodness the IRS allows for filing an extension, and thank goodness for accountants! Ours makes life a lot easier. Anyway, in honor of Tax Day, here's a fun little exercise to do, so get a calculator!

1. Type in the first three digits of your phone number (not the area code).
2. Multiply by 80.
3. Add 1.
4. Multiply by 250.
5. Add the last four digits of your phone number to the total.
6. Add the last four digits of your phone number again.
7. Subtract 250.
8. Divide the number by 2.

Do you recognize the answer? How does that work!?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dear Penn, I'm Baaack!

I'm really looking forward to our road trip down to Philadelphia tomorrow. We're leaving in the early afternoon after church and returning home by Monday evening, so it will be a short and sweet trip. We're going because Peter is giving a lecture at a Wharton class on Monday morning (Wharton is the business school at Penn that Peter went to). This will be our first time bringing our son to our alma mater, which will be really neat, because Penn and Philadelphia are where we met and fell in love, so it's kind of how our family began in the first place.

Let me describe for you my life at this time six years ago, in April of 2002, and you will see why I'm so happy to be going back to Philadelphia in very different, much better conditions than I was living in then!

1) I was in the last semester of my senior year, so I was close to graduating and busy with everything. I was taking five demanding classes that semester. By senior year, most classes you take are upper-level and therefore more difficult. I had two upper-level political science classes, two upper-level Spanish classes, and a dreaded (lowest level possible) math class that I had procrastinated taking until my last semester. By April, when classes were coming to an end and finals were upon us, I had long, long papers due for each class except math, plus final exams for some of the classes.

Add to this the fact that because Penn is a top-ranked Ivy League university, the students tend to be highly competitive and many of the professors are very demanding and picky, so it is challenging to get good grades. I had to work my butt off just to get B's. I was so overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work to do for my classes that last semester that I just wanted to curl up and die at this time six years ago. At least if I were dead I wouldn't have to write those papers and study for those exams.

2) I was a busy bride-to-be. My wedding was only about three months away, and I had so much to do for it. We were having a big traditional reception at a hotel and I had to plan all of the details for that, prepare the invitations, plan seating arrangements, get my whole dress ensemble together, choose the music, arrange transportation, and do a hundred other things, all from a few states away (we got married in the Boston area).

3) I was also looking for a full-time job for when I graduated, but this out of necessity had to be pushed to the back burner because of everything else going on. It was discouraging and I felt like a loser because I didn't have a job waiting for me when I graduated.

4) I was homeless. Campus Apartments finally decided to renovate my apartment in the spring semester (they couldn't have waited two more months until summer arrived and classes were out??), so me and my two roommates, Katie and Aubrey, had to find a new place to live for a few weeks. Guess where I lived? With Peter and his roommate. I slept on the couch. Sometimes I stayed overnight at the library when I had to make a deadline and time was of the essence. I could have stayed with some of my other friends instead of with Peter, but procrastination and goofing off was way too easy to do with them, and then I would have been in even more trouble when it came to my schoolwork.

5) Peter and I had to start looking for a house or a condo in New Jersey for when we got married. Otherwise, we were going to be living out of a motel come July of that year! House-hunting was the last thing I had time to do at this point.

6) In addition to all of this, I had three jobs to hold down, plus some extracurriculars to try to stay involved in (I worked at the Penn Press; I took notes for students with learning disabilites; I had a Saturday babysitting job for a grad student couple's little girl out in Swarthmore; I worked for the school newspaper copyediting articles; etc.).

So as you can see, the spring of 2002 was a very stressful time in my life. I think my blood pressure is rising just writing about it (I'm serious!). Having to write those four last papers was especially difficult. I was so close to being done with school, yet they needed to be written well and written quickly, because I hadn't been able to start them earlier in the semester since I was so busy with other things, not to mention I had a social life and fun things to do with my friends and fiance. But, it all ended up working out. "This too shall pass," and it did. However, it was surely the most stressful and busy time of my life!

So this is one of the main reasons why I'm so glad to be going back, six years later, with no academic work to do, no papers to write, no exams to study for, no wedding to plan, no job to look for, no house-hunting to take care of, and no work to show up for. I can just go and relax with my little boy and my hubby and enjoy my beloved old campus and one of my most favorite cities ever. Even if the trip isn't all that eventful, it will be worth it all just for that. Closure will be mine!

Maybe John and I will play on these very steps that I used to walk up and down as a student. I'll smile sweetly and sympathetically at the current busy students hurriedly making their way around us. Closure indeed!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


My friend Jessie had some funny little pictures up on her blog recently, and I got such a kick out of them that I decided to "steal" some of them to put on my blog. Thanks Jessie! I'm sorry to be a thief, but I like these way too much not to put on my own blog!

I thought it was sad when Pluto got demoted. I don't care what the scientists say, Pluto is still a planet in my book!
For some reason, I vividly remember the episode of Saved by the Bell when Jessie Spano sang this song and then broke down because of her pill addiction. Poor Slater! This has always been me with math. It's ironic that I ended up marrying a literal math genius. Big surprise, I wasn't much good at Chemistry either!
This is so funny. I remember playing Super Mario Brothers with my friends when I was younger and thinking that I was really cool when I did things like find a hidden flower and get lots of coins. Aaahh, the good old days.