Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day

Our friends Mark and Melodie invited a group out to Breton Bay on the Chesapeake. Marc and the kids had so much fun. That was all could talk about when I got back! Thanks to all who helped Marc with the kids on this big adventure. A special thanks to Aunt Rachel and Uncle Andrew.

May 27, 2013

Fun with Dad

While I was out of town, the kids had a blast with Dad! I'm not sure they missed me one bit. Well, maybe Anna.

New shoes!

Tents in the house

Remote control car playing

Park trips

Helping in the kitchen

Playing with the neighbors

Dinner with Grandma & Grandpa

Bottle time!

May 23-28

Rome, Italy

Remember that conference in Italy I was dreaming about?  Marc and Anna were not able to join me as I had hoped, but I got to go on my own.  Marc was a gem and took off a couple days of work to make an extra long Memorial Day weekend so he could care for the children while I was gone. Taking a nursing six-month-old for five days? Now that is what I call a sacrifice!

At the conference I presented a paper, "Faith-Based International Non-Governmental Organizations: A Case Study of Latter-Day Charities." Just to clarify, this was an academic paper I completed as an independent study course which used interview data that I collected from headquarters staff of LDS Charities. This was not a missionary endeavor; I offered analysis of the model which included implications for international social work, criticisms, and calls for future research.  Though there were a couple things I wish I'd done differently, it went well enough. Afterward, a professor from the University of Nebraska asked me to write a chapter for a book he is editing. I feel pretty desperate to publish so I didn't tell him I'm not even finding five minutes to work on my dissertation these days, much less another project. My presentation for the conference was hastily started during the girls' nap time a couple days before I left--and finished the night before!

The conference was terrific--I really enjoy the people I've met there over the years. I met or got reacquainted with scholars from Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Korea, Hungary, among others. In addition to the conference I took a day to go sightseeing.

I toured the Colosseum:

Inside the Colesseum
 The Vatican including the Vatican museum and St. Peter's Basilica. On my tour, I made friends with another PhD student (in biochemistry) who had been in Florence for a conference on cancer research.
Outside St. Peter's Basilica

 The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill:

I also went to other touristy sites like the Spanish Steps  and threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
Selfie from the Spanish Steps

 I did a lot of wandering....
Vatican City and the Tiber River at night (an especially welcome site after I had gotten myself a little lost in picturesque alleyways not on the map)

And ate delicious Italian food

And happened upon unexpected beauty

I'm really glad I went on the trip. Truth be told, when it came down to it, I didn't want to go. But I wouldn't get the scholarship money to cover the non-refundable ticket if I didn't actually present. So, off I went, with a lump in my throat. Sometimes after you've been home with little ones (and with my third baby it feels like I've never quite gotten back to my old self), it is daunting to go out in the world again. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to deal with cancelled flights and missed connections. I figured out how to read the map myself, how to tackle the public transportation system, how to calculate the exchange rate. I missed them terribly and worried too much, and was even a bit afraid. But it was good for me. Not so much fun as it was really, really good for me.

May 23-May 28, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May Days

Wearing their "brother and sister" shirts

Abigail, Anna, and I enjoyed hearing "The Banjo Man"

 Abigail loves the little boys next door,  "my neighbors," as she calls them. She will announce that she wants to go play with "my neighbors." Everytime I have to take her anywhere in the car, I end up chasing her from their front yard (which has a constant supply of fun toys).

Like Father, Like Son

My Abigirl

These two! What can I say?
May 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Abigail the Artist

Abigail loves to draw and write.  Joseph didn't hit his drawing phase until he was four-years-old, but Abigail has loved to write for a long time now. This has led to some unfortunate drawing on walls, furniture, etc. But all that practice has helped her skill. I'm impressed with her smiley faces (on which she always adds eyebrows, eyelashes, and so forth).

Not too bad for a two-year-old!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CUA Party

I count the friendships I've made in my PhD program as reason enough to have started this program. I just love the people I've met. Passionate, smart, hard working, and genuinely kind people.

Now that we're all finished with courses and comps, we never see each other at school unless we happen to run into each other which doesn't happen too often with the variety of schedules we're juggling. I chat on the phone or meet up for lunch with a couple of my classmates pretty regularly, but I was missing the whole crowd so we had a party!

I am glad that we moved to our new house if only because we had enough room to have this party! It was so much fun!  Special thanks to my brother Andrew for helping me prepare and for babysitting the girls for the first couple hours (Joseph and Marc were on the backpacking trip and didn't arrive home until after the party was in full swing).

It was so fun to catch up with everyone--our partners all laughed at how quickly we dove into "shop talk" about our dissertations and so forth.  We celebrated finishing classes, passing comps, getting dissertation proposals approved and so forth. Plus, we celebrated upcoming weddings, met children, and even said good-bye to a dear classmate who is moving. I got to introduce Anna (she was as adorable as ever), and show-off how much Abigail and Joseph have grown.

A couple friends weren't able to make it, and we really missed them. I guess we'll just have to do it again soon. And next time I'll take some pictures!!!

I didn't take any pictures, but Marc took a couple upstairs with the kids. Here is one of  E.'s daughter feeding a bottle to Anna (and Abigail helping). 

F.'s fiance owns a farm on the Chesapeake and brought fresh eggs to share with everyone. Marc, my farmer-at-heart, was thrilled! 

May 19, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Backpacking Debut

Our family has done quite a bit of camping and hiking, but this was Joseph's first backpacking trip. A very momentous occasion in our house! Marc is a great backpacker--he hiked over 1100 miles of Appalachian Trail right after he graduated from high school, and he's been excited to introduce Joseph to this world.

They went out to the George Washington National Forest with a small group of friends, including one other little boy Joseph's age.

I heard reports that Joseph was a great little hiker. He carried his own pack and was a trooper when the hike ended up being a bit longer than originally planned (Marc was not in charge of navigation--he is a genius with maps and such). All in all, they went 9 miles with 1700 feet in elevation gained.  Joseph also had his first encounter with poison ivy (which of course didn't manifest until he was back home). All of the challenges of backpacking are part of the allure, I believe. Joseph is anxiously awaiting his next backpacking trip.

May 17-18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Picnic dinner

While Joseph and Marc went camping (post to follow), I took the girls on a picnic at Alcova Heights Park. Abigail and I watched the ducks as we ate.

Then Abigail got a little crazy on the playground. But, don't try telling Abigail she is crazy. She will tell you, in all sincerity, "I'm not crazy, I'm sweet."  

May 17, 2013

Bike to Work Day

For the transportation expert around our house, Bike to Work Day is a big deal. I really admire Marc for biking every day and for following his passion to promote alternative forms of transportation as a career. Plus, it keeps him in great shape! Have you seen him?  Hubba hubba!

Since marrying this guy, I've learned to ride my bicycle on a street with cars, I now know what a HOV lane is, and we even play "Count the SOVs" (single occupancy vehicle) on road trips with the kids. As an avid people watcher, I realized it is just another version.

 May 17, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baseball Season

This year Joseph is on the Rays baseball team. He is loving it! He loves having people in "my cheering section" as he calls it. Aunts, grandparents, friends, and of course Mom and Dad and his sisters.

I have a friend who takes fantastic photos of her son in his baseball games. I wish I could do the same. I wish I could capture the intense look on Joseph's face when he is up to bat--staring down that ball and swinging with all his might. I wish I could capture how he slides into second base, whether he needs to or not.  I wish I could get a video of the little fist pump dance he does after he makes a play.

Abigail loves going to the games--she finds friends, and cheers for the team.  However, she doesn't say "cheering him on", she says "I'm cheering him up."  So cute!

Joseph often leads the other boys in chants for his teammates who are up to bat. Joseph enjoys every aspect of playing on this team. His coach is phenomenal! He is a father of six children! I have never met anyone in Arlington who is currently raising six children!  He is so positive with the boys, in addition to teaching really good skills. It is one of his younger sons who is on the team, so he's coached a few teams before this. Mid-season, they switched Joseph's practice to Sunday afternoons which doesn't work for our family. The coach was very understanding and even comes 15 minutes before the games to give Joseph a little instruction from the missed practice.

Joseph's assistant coach was on the Russian National team--and even played in the Olympics.  Pretty fun!

Spring 2013