Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lil' Lyd turns 3

Like every other parent raising kids, I can't believe how fast my little girl is growing up. This weekend magnified that thought as we celebrated Lydia's birthday number three. We had a little party for her right on the grass next to our apartment. A family from down the street came over to celebrate with us. They have three kids close to Lydia's age and she was so excited to have them over. She talked about it all week and come the day of her party, she couldn't talk about anything else.

This was actually the first day of complete sunshine for the entire week (luckily, the thunder and lightning didn't carry over from the previous 4 days). As part of the party, I made a pinata (if you tilt your head and squint your eyes it looks like a butterfly). Eventhough Lydia was scared to hit the pinata (she didn't want it to fall on her head), the pinata was actually her favorite part of the party. I think a close second to the pinata was receiving a gift from her friends that attended. She got a baby Ariel disney doll. As soon as she got it, she learned that baby Ariel loves to swim in the bath tub. To our surprise, Lydia immediately left the party to go take a bath with her new baby doll. This effectively killed the party.

Later in the evening, Lydia came down with a strong fever. All she wanted to do was lay down and sleep with me at her side. Selfishly, I didn't mind one bit. This gave me some time to let my thoughts slip away into the past as I reminisced about the last 3 years. True, raising Lydia has had its share of troubles and sacrifices (I don't think I have slept through the night more than 20 or so times in the last three years). But none of the trying moments came to mind. All I could think of was how wonderful and rich life has been with Lydia in our family.

To my dearest Lydia, happy birthday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why I Love New Jersey

(written by rob) Someone pointed out to me that, in my last post, I was being too negative about New Jersey. So, lest anyone think that I/we don't like New Jersey, here is a blog to the contrary. Speaking for myself only (Jen and Lydia are still out of town), I love this place for its rich history. So here are some photos of historic places/landmarks near our home (and, for better or worse, some thoughts to go along with them).

The photo above is something I ride by everyday on my way home from work. We actually live in Kingston, not Princeton (even though we have a Princeton zip code). To make it a little more confusing, Kingston is not a recognized town in New Jersey, so we actually live in the South Brunswick Township...or something like that. At any rate, the Kingston "village" or whatever you want to call it was founded around 1675 when the British King was still in power (hence the moniker). The road behind the sign was around for much longer, it was a road used by the Lenni Lenape Indians, early settlers and dutch fur traders, and eventually by early British settlers during colonial times. As you can imagine, a lot of cool history took place in Kingston.

I ride by this place (seen in the picture above) everyday on my way to work. It is the Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery. This is perhaps my favorite historical site of all. You are probably asking what is so cool about an old graveyard. Well, something very important happened here during the revolutionary war. On January 3rd 1777, General Washington and his troops made a middle of the night escape from Cornwallis in Trenton, New Jersey to surprise attack the British in Princeton. Despite a few wrinkles in their plan, it worked. After defeating the British in Princeton, General Washington and his troops marched up this way as they exited Princeton so as not to be caught by Cornwallis and his large British Army who were trying to catch up with them after they fled Trenton. Anyway, General Washington was faced with a dilemma in this very cemetery. Should he continue up the road (leading behind me in this photo) or should he head to the road on the right and settle in for the winter. It was freezing outside (it was early January) and he and his troops had been up all night marching to Princeton for their successful surprise attack. Up the road about 30 miles lay a British pay chest of about 70,000 pounds (probably a lot of money back then) and, in his mind, if they could get to it, this just might end the war. Heading to the road on the right would no doubt prolong the war. In this very spot (now a cemetery), General Washington counseled with some of his officers (now referred to as the "council on horseback") and, ultimately, he decided against marching his cold and tired troops to the pay chest and headed into winter quarters. EVERY time that I go by this place, I am reminded about Washington's decision to be patient even when you are so close or you are tired and want struggles to end. I also think about how important it is to LISTEN to those close to you (yes, I really do think about this every time I ride by).

Ironically, 6.5 years later General Washington would return to the Kingston area within a few miles from the cemetery to live at Rockingham (see photo above). This is the front of the house (and is supposedly the actual house, though it has been moved three different times so I don't know how much of this house is the original). This is where General Washington stayed at the end of the war as they awaited final word on the treaty of Paris, and this is where he announced his retirement from the Army. Every time I come here I always imagine Washington walking out of his front door. I would love to strike up a conversation and I almost always envision it involving a discussion on how bad both of our teeth are. I don't know if he had a personal dentist back then, but I would assure him that dentistry hasn't changed all that much and that he would have to go all the way to a place called Seattle to find a really good dentist (Dr. Andrew Lewis is the only good dentist I ever had). I would finish by telling him thanks for being a Bad-A.

This is Jen, Lydia and I in front of Nassau Hall on the Princeton University campus ( see the picture above). As part of the surprise attack on Princeton, the continental army actually fired cannon balls at this building in order to the get the British troops to exit and surrender. Apparently, you can still see the structural damage from one of the cannon balls on the building. I have looked and I can't find it. I guess I must not be a true American.

Finally, this is a picture of the Princeton football stadium that I ride by every day on my way to the chem lab (you can actually see the chemistry building in the background to the left (blue glass building). The point of the picture isn't to discuss in any way, shape or form Ivy League football (the Pac-12 and Mountain West will always be near and dear to my heart). The old stadium that once stood here (Palmer Stadium) housed football games as early as 1914. Knute Rockne and his Notre Dame teams played here. Jesse Owens also ran on the track that once stood here. In fact, his triple jump record (from 1936) stood until the stadium was torn down in 1997. I find it inspiring to ride my bike where old legends once roamed.

Thanks for New Jersey for such rich history!