Sunday, June 30, 2013

Matilda, New York, and Bearing Witness to an Amazing Life

After months of crazy schedules and planning our trip down south, I finally have some down time to read and now write. Right now I am reading Carry on, Warrior Thoughts on a Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton. She writes the blog and I have been following her for over a year. I actually met her one day in the Verizon Wireless store. We were both at the counter waiting to be helped and we started talking about what the right age is for a kid to get his first cell phone. That's my Glennon Melton story. I think she lives in Florida now. 

Anyway, so I was reading her book yesterday and I came to the part where she was at her sister's wedding and she was giving a toast. She said, "My whole life has been about paying attention to my Sister. Everything she has ever learned or feared or dreamed or wondered has been important to me, and so I have memorized it all. I know what she wore every single first day of school since kindergarten. I know she still has most of those outfits. I remember the entire speech she gave when she ran for president of her elementary school, and I remember the commencement speech she delivered at her high school graduation...I am my Sister's biography. I've got it all right here. Recording it all, bearing witness to such an amazing life, has been the honor of my life."

That stuck with me before I went to sleep last night. I do not have a sister but I thought about my children and "bearing witness" to their lives and always trying to find ways to record what they do and accomplish because I don't want to miss a moment. 

I am always trying to find new and easy ways to record our lives. I try to keep up with my Project Life albums. I try to make digital books, I try to record our events on this blog, but it becomes such a huge task to balance living our lives and recording it. I feel that as the mom, I am the keeper of the memories, of creating the memories and then recording them. Just like Glennon knows and remembers all those intimate details about her sister, it is me that knows Ryan got his bear on his first birthday, and that Shannon's baby doll was so loved that we had to duct tape her arms back on, that Timmy would not got to bed without his duckies and when he outgrew them, he moved on to Cubby. I know that Molly was the only one that never used a binkie, and that when she sleeps with you, she always has to be touching your body just to make sure you are there. I know what they were each year for Halloween, what rides they like to go on at amusement parks, and who wrote their name on the basement rug with permanent marker and who wrote their name on the book shelves. So many memories and I don't want to forget any of it. 

So even though Molly and I went to New York to see Matilda on June 9th, I want to record it. Today is June 30th, it is our first full day back in our house after our travels. I have gone over this week's schedule and we are back to basketball games, swim meets, orthodontist appointments, orthopedic appointments, and just regular life in general. But I am going to try to catch up with recording our memories. I read somewhere that there are three parts to making memories, anticipation, participation, and recollection.

For Molly, there was great anticipation to see Matilda. Molly and I read the book together back in February and that is when I saw on twitter that the musical was coming to Broadway. Molly's birthday is March 1st and I was hoping to get tickets for her birthday, but nothing was available. I wanted to have good seats. I started researching and read reviews of the musical in London and they were all great. So we ended up with tickets for June 9th, still a birthday present, but now there was great anticipation. We had a countdown till the big day, We watched videos on youtube, we downloaded the album to her ipod. Molly learned every song and walked around the house singing with a British accent. We watched the movie on DVD that came out in the 1990's. 

Then the big day was finally here! School was out and we were in the car driving to New York. It was finally time to participate and not just anticipate! 

What was great was that my sister-in-law and niece "participated" and joined in the fun. It was a great day! The weather was beautiful! It was perfect! The day after, it stormed and it poured and it was like a monsoon, which made us appreciate our beautiful day even more.

Top of the Empire State Building.

The New York City Library...Molly is my only child that would care to have her picture taken here.

The big moment had finally arrived. We were so excited and I highly recommend seeing it, especially if you have girls. Just yesterday, we were in the Poconos playing mini-golf and a man playing behind us asked Molly if her sweatshirt was from Matilda. It was and so then he said he took his daughter to see it. He talked about how good it was and how great Mrs. Trunchbull was as well as Matilda's father. Ahhh, recollection, the third part of making good memories. We were remembering our favorite parts with a total stranger and he was doing the same with us and it brought a smile to my face.

After the play was over, we still had some New York memories to make. The weather was beautiful and there was energy in New York that day. Our spring had not been a nice one, lots of rain and cold. But this day, the sun was shining and it was not too hot and not too cold. We made our way through Time Square and there was the Naked Cowboy. He is always there no matter what the weather. I love New York. I love the energy you feel as you walk through the streets, I love watching the tourists with their cameras around their necks, I love all the different languages you can hear as you walk from one block to the next, I love that there is always something going on. On this day, the streets were filled with police officers because of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and then the Tony Awards were going on at Radio City. There are all walks of life, one moment you are passing the Naked Cowboy and the next you are passing gentlemen in their tuxedoes and ladies in their beautiful gowns walking to Radio City for the Tony Awards.

The red carpet for the Tony Awards. We didn't see anyone we knew, but it was fun to be there in the crowd with all the onlookers.

Central Park.

New York pizza, she almost ate the whole thing.

Walking back toward Penn Station, the crowds are gone, the Tony Awards are going on inside and Molly sees the marque that reads that Neil Patrick Harris is inside hosting, she loves Neil Patrick Harris.

Still working our way down to Penn Station through Time Square. Molly said that we had to stay there for fifteen minutes because the lady in the Empire State video we saw when we went to the top said if you stand there for fifteen minutes you will see someone you know or see someone that looks like someone you know. I don't think we saw anyone we know but we did see thousands of New Yorkers at 9:30 on a Sunday night soaking in the beautiful evening.

Anticipation, Participation, and Recollection...we did it all.

"Recording it all, bearing witness to such an amazing life, has been the honor of my life." Glennon Melton

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Bucket List 2013

My kids have been out of school for 18 days. We have been on the go, not just since school let out, but it seems this whole spring our schedule has been crazy. But now we are in the Poconos and things have slowed down a bit. I can take a breather.

Last year, we wrote a summer bucket list together as a family. I had seen the idea somewhere on the internet, maybe a blog or even pinterest. We did not do everything on our list, but I loved having it as a reference. My kids every once in a while would look at it to see what we had already done and what we had yet to do. It kept me focused as a mom. There are so many times that a block of time goes by and I find myself saying, "We should have done that, maybe next summer...maybe next year." But with a bucket list, we made plans to get as much done as we could. We went to the lake in Maryland that Chris had found, we went to a Nats game and to Assateague Island. We made memories.

So we made a Summer Bucket List for 2013...

A: Aquarium

B: bike rides, basketball camp, baseball games, bumper cars, beach, Biltmore Estate

C: eat crabs, cousin sleepovers, Cunningham Falls, catching fireflies

D: Disney, go to Dad's work for the day


F: Fishing, fire pit, farm camp

G: golf, Georgetown

H: Hershey Park

I: ice cream

J: Jekyll Island, Jeep'n

K: Kiawah

L: lobster, Loudoun County Fair

M: Matilda, movie marathons, mussels, Monsters University

N: New York, night walks, Newseum

O: ocean

P: Poconos, pool, plant garden, project life (document our adventures)

Q: meet Queen of England

R: Rainbow Row, read

S: Smoky Mountains, snorkel, smoothies, sun bath, spy museum, Stone Bridge Basketball camp

T: treasure hunt 

V: vacation

W: watermelon, watch fireworks, write (blog)

X: avoid x-rays (so far, so good)

Y: Yellowstone, Yankee game

Z: zoo, zinga, ziplining

So there you have it, the Nealon Summer Bucket List. Eighteen days into summer and we have already done a bunch of stuff. Some of these I know will not be crossed off...say for example, meet the Queen of England, but that one was on our list last year as well, added by Molly. The closest she will get to that this year is her UK sweatshirt we bought in the UK pavilion in Epcot at Disney. We also will not be going to Yellowstone this summer either...but it is on our bucket list, and one of these days, I'm sure we will be able to cross it off the list...someday.

The basketball camp food stash.

 Matilda in New York City.

 Crab at Downtown Disney.

 First Disney ride.

The closest Molly will get to England this year, Epcot, UK pavilion.

Epcot fireworks.

 Pool time at Caribbean Beach Resort.

 Jekell Island, GA

 Biltmore Estate

 Jeep Rides.

Fire pit.