- Spending time with Saydi. I get Saydi and she gets me in unique ways. The choices we've made, the things we focus on, the stuff we worry about, the words we use with our kids - it's all strikingly the same. Saydi's done so many of the same things I've done in my life - but she's done them all a bit better than me. I like to think that's because I offered her some tips that I learned the hard way about things I did. But quite honestly, it's because she's got the edge on me in quite a few areas - and I'm so glad - I'm always learning from her, even if she is my little sister.
- Spending time with Jeff (Saydi's husband). Jeff knows tons of stuff and has thoughtful ideas about so many things. I loved hearing about his work and getting his advice on things I'm working on.
- Spending time with Hazel, Charlie, Emmaline and Peter (Saydi's kids). There's something quite wonderful about being with your nieces and nephews when you don't have your own kids in tow so you can really focus on them. I feel like I got to know each of them in a deeper way. And I'm going through Peter withdrawals - that baby is so darn cute and happy and makes the sweetest baby noises all the time!
- Spending some time with Eva. I loved speaking a little Bulgarian with her (I'm sure rusty) and seeing her beautiful children and wonderful husband in a place that brought joy to us all (Crane Castle - see photos below). Eva loves life and adores nature in such a contagious way. I'll never forget meeting her as a teenager in Bulgaria - she practically glowed with enthusiasm for everything and everyone and was like a sponge, learning every English phrase she could from the missionaries and jumping in to help with anything and everything. We talked about the "joy-suckers" in our lives at the Retreat. Well, Eva is a "joy-pourer" - you can't NOT feel joy when you're with Eva.
- Wandering through Harvard Square and showing Saydi's kids some of my favorite spots where I liked to study and hang out while doing grad school there. I love the weathered brick everywhere - sidewalks, buildings, walls, you name it. I love the great mix of people all around. I love the warm crusty rolls at Bertucci's. I love the street musicians. I loved seeing the church building right off the Square that was such an important part of my life for so many years and that burned down a couple years ago all rebuilt and restored. I remember first visiting there with my dad while on a college tour over 20 years ago and thinking it seemed such a grungy random place - plus it was much more of a triangle than a square. I was used to the manicured lawns and quiet orderly feel of the campuses I'd seen in Utah. Now Harvard Square feels like home to me in so many ways.
- Visiting Longfellow's House and learning about it's amazing history both as Washington's headquarters at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and as the home of one of the foremost American poets. Loved seeing the gorgeous original antiques and learning about the remarkable people who lived there plus seeing it all through Saydi's kids eyes.
- Going for a beautiful run through the ancient cemetery and beautiful hills near Saydi's house - the leaves were SO beautiful and it was so fun to have someone wonderful to chat with while running.
- Visiting Crane Castle. So fun to go somewhere I've never been before (after 10 years off and on in New England, I've seen a lot). LOVED the setting atop a hill with views of the sea all around. The pictures will say more than I can properly say here.
Here's a quick overview in photos.
|The restored Longfellow Park Chapel where I spent every Sunday and |
went to tons of social activities for so many years.
|A cool clock on one of the Harvard dorms that I've always liked.|
|view from Harvard Yard to Harvard Square (w/Sayid and kids)|
|So Charlie wasn't thrilled. But Hazel had to rub John Harvard's foot for good luck academically. |
See that shiny toe? Lots of people are hoping good old John will help pull them through.
|Good old Widener Library in Harvard Yard|
|Memorial Chapel - my graduation was in the Yard right here|
|Eva and I at the Crane Estate ("Crane Castle")|
|Saydi and I at the back of the castle|
|Saydi's daughters and Eva's daughter on the gorgeous lawn that connects the house to the sea|
|View of the sea and sunset from the back of the castle|
|View of the changing colors and valley from the front of the castle|
|One of the castle's many sculptures|
But it sure is nice to be home and to be gearing up for all the fun of Halloween with my cute kids. I spent the last two bedtimes telling my kids the story of the book I read on my long flights (it was Whistling in the Dark - a good read). I love telling them the story of whatever book I'm reading - editing it and embellishing it to fit their interests and needs. It was sort of a scary story and I loved seeing their eyes get big and the concern show on their faces as I told them the story. And it was perfect when Jared happened to yell out while watching the World Series at just the right scary part in the story! We all jumped!