Monday, April 30, 2012

Dina's Wedding

My final stop in my trip across the States was New Jersey to be in one of my best friend's weddings. I've known Dina since our very first day at Indiana University. We are "friends from the floor," as she likes to say (we lived in the same dorm).

Me and Dina circa 2004

Dina is one of the nicest people I've ever met. She has a huge family and a ton of friends, so I was really honored when she asked me to be a bridesmaid. I've known Dina for 12 years now; out of the eight bridesmaids, I've known her for the least amount of time!

Dina and her fiancĂ© Ed were awesome enough to let me stay with them on Thursday night before the wedding weekend. I tried to talk them out of it and even booked a hotel, but in the end it worked out great for all of us. We had a really fun night just catching up. In the eight years since college, this is the longest we've gone without seeing each other. 

Me and Dina, circa 2012

Friday we pampered ourselves with a relaxing manicure and pedicure. Her sister and future mother-in-law joined us. Since all I've seen in England are the fish pedicures (NO THANK YOU!), this was just the ticket.

Friday night we had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. It was so fun meeting the other bridesmaids and groomsmen and seeing old friends from college.

Saturday morning was go-time! A few of us got our hair professionally done, and I think mine turned out great! 

Half-way done

I love how this turned out!

We made our way to the bridal suite in the hotel so she could get dressed. The photographer was on-hand to capture the moments. Dina looked breathtaking. She was the happiest, most stress-free bride I've ever seen. Not that I expected anything less, but it was great to see.

We took some fun pictures with the whole wedding party, and then it was time to get hitched! 

I don't have any pictures of the ceremony since I was standing at the front, but let me just tell you that it was awesome. Dina's aunt officiated and did a fantastic job. It was light-hearted but meaningful. I was definitely choking back tears.

Then it was time to party! Dina LOVES dancing, so I knew this party would have great music. I was not disappointed. The dance floor was never empty. It was fun to see everyone from the 80-year-olds to the 6-year-olds letting loose.

The went with chocolate and vanilla cupcakes instead of traditional cake. They were delicious!

It was a fantastic weekend, and well-worth the trip from England. I wish Dina and Ed a lifetime of happiness!

Tracing My Roots

One of the great things about Washington, DC is that there is always something happening. There are craft fairs, book signings, lectures, concerts--you name it, DC has it. I was killing time before meeting up with some people and I stumbled upon a genealogy fair at the National Archives. I went it to take a look and was blown away by what I saw. 

One of the booths at the fair was, a free genealogy database. They had computers set up to allow people to search for their ancestors. I did a quick search on my maternal grandfather and was rewarded with data from the 1930 census! Even with a misspelling from the census taker (it's supposed to be Riklin), here's what I found:

In 1930 my great-grandparents were living in Nebraska with their seven children. I didn't know that my great-grandfather was ten years older than my great-grandmother. How scandalous :)

Here's what I found on my maternal grandmother:

She was only a few months old and living in San Antonio, where she still lives today. What was interesting though is that two women, Sophia and Bertha, are listed as part of the household. Who were they? It turns out Sophia was my grandmother's wet nurse (!) and Bertha was the family cook. Crazy, right?

After 72 years the United States government releases census data, meaning that in April of this year the 1940 census became public. Since computers obviously did not exist yet, all of the records are hand-written. FamilySearch was asking for volunteers to help digitize the records and I agreed to do it. So far I've already helped index several records, including some from the 1898 Spanish-American War. It's so fun and easy to do. Here's the link if anyone is interested in doing it too:

Who knows what information you may find!

Note: I was not paid or given any perks for this post. I'm just really excited about what I found on this website!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Short but Sweet

I had a fantastic time in Texas, but after 10 days it was time to move on to my next destination: Washington, DC. I was so excited to see everyone--especially Dan! You already heard how sweet that reunion was, but the rest of my trip was equally great.

U.S. Capitol Building

We got to catch up with our friends Brandon, Kim, their little one and their two boxers. The dogs could not get enough of Dan. 

I also got to see my good friends Katie in Chinatown, Erin in the National Sculpture Garden, and Tamara in Farragut North. It was a complete culinary tour of the city.

Me and Katie in Chinatown

Me and Erin in the National Sculpture Garden

My friend Dani and I snuck in a sushi lunch at a hidden gem of a restaurant. We were too busy stuffing our faces to get a picture.

My evenings were fully booked too. I had a really fun happy hour with my former co-workers; a boozy dinner with my neighbors; and delicious schwarma with old friends.

Crazy co-workers

Post-schwarma drinks at the Royal Mile

One of the best parts of my short trip to DC was that I got to play the tourist. Even though I lived there for more than seven years, I had never been in the Portrait Gallery or the National Archives. Even though they're free! Can you believe that?

I really loved the free tour I got from the Portrait Gallery docent. He had some really interesting things to say about people I've heard about my whole life. For example, what do you know about Alexander Hamilton? Probably that he was a founding father of the United States and was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr (thanks to this amazing commercial). But did you know that he grew up in the Caribbean and attended Hebrew day school?? Some scholars thought that he might have been Jewish, but he wasn't. So interesting though!

Alexander Hamilton: Not Jewish
image from here

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Things Not To Do in a Classroom

Did you ever play the party game Mafia? Usually two or three people are chosen to be the "mafia" and everyone else is a townsperson. At "night" the mafia secretly "murder" a townsperson. During the "day" the townspeople discuss who they think the killers are and vote to eliminate one person. The game continues until all the mafia are eliminated or the mafia outnumber the townspeople (more info here).

After my 8th graders finished their assignments, they asked if they could play another party game called Heads Up, Seven Up. They didn't have quite enough people so I suggested they played mafia. As I'm explaining the rules to them, one girl asked, "Should you be talking like this in a classroom?"

Umm...probably not. My how times have changed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Have you seen "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" It's a quiz show where the challenger is asked basic questions from 1st-5th grade textbooks. There is a classroom of kids that can provide lifelines as needed. It sounds so easy, but most contestants can barely squeak through the 1st grade subjects. Today I was in a real-life version of the show, and let me tell you--I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader!

image from here

As of today, I am officially a part-time substitute teacher. Yay! It's a side job that will allow me to bring in some extra cash and fill up some hours. Here are some homework questions my 5th grade science kids had. Do you know the answers?

  1. What is the movement of heat called?
  2. What object transfers heat to Earth through radiation?
  3. Which method of heat transfer relates to the phrase "hot air rises"?
  4. The hotter the material, the ___ its particles are moving.
 How about these 8th grade science questions?
  1. Number the planets in the order they appear from the Sun, with the planet closest to the Sun being number 1 and the planet farthest from the Sun being number 9. [Pluto is still one of the 9]
  2. What is the term for a cloud of gas, ice and dust in space?
  3. Essay question: How were maria probably formed? [Side note: what are maria??]

5th grade:
1. heat transfer 2. sun 3. convection 4. faster
8th grade:
1. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto 2. nebula 3. Lava flows from the moon's interior flooded into large basins on the moon's surface. Maria are the dark areas of the moon.