Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hey There, Lady Liberty

Last week we took the last of our little day trips here in the Northeast. We did the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, and it was super fun.

People always say the Statue of Liberty is smaller than you think it's going to be. Maybe because I've heard that so many times, I was preparing to be a little underwhelmed. Honestly, when the boat got close enough, I thought Lady Liberty doesn't really get a fair shake. The statue isn't small, and she really is beautiful.

The Manhattan skyline from the island. The biggest building is the new One World Trade Center. That's the one thing on the East Coast that I didn't get to do that I'm a little sad about--the 9/11 Memorial Museum. 

Brynn was all tuckered out after the Statue of Liberty. She took a few naps on the go that day. 

We actually spent a lot more time doing Ellis Island than we did the Statue of Liberty. I read so many nerdy historical fiction books about immigrants when I was a kid. Dear America, anyone? Anyway, I LOVED coming here. This is the registry room, where immigrants had to wait before their medical and legal inspections. Can you see the herring bone marble tiles on the ceiling? So pretty. 

The skyline from Ellis Island. 

All in all, a great way to finish all the crazy trips we've done lately. Now, on to Florida. We move on Saturday. Time to go home. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Man's Search for Meaning

This was my family's book club book for May, and I did finish it sometime last week, I just haven't had time to write about it. I have read books about the Holocaust before, but never one where the author then gave so much commentary about living in the concentration camp. Thinking about the event in the abstract actually made the Holocaust much more real for me, if that makes sense. I thought this was an incredible book.

One thing I kept thinking was how much of the concepts Frankl explained in discussing logotherapy and his camp experiences were gospel-centered precepts. At one point, Frankl discusses how the goal of psychiatry should not be to reach a "tensionless" state. Opposition has a purpose in refining us as individuals, and that doesn't have to make us sad. That's such a major part of my understanding of the gospel. Frankl's ideas reminded me God has designed us to thrive--or just be able to survive--in certain ways, and understanding these ways can come from so many different sources. The interesting thing is that unlike most books about the Holocaust, instead of convincing me of how much evil there is in the world, this book helped me to remember how much good there is. I think that's a testament to the amazing humility with which Frankl approaches his understanding of what happened to him.

Another concept I kept thinking about after finishing the book was Frankl's thought that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast should be mirrored by the Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. This was especially poignant to me because we actually just went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island this past weekend. A focus on responsibility would do so much good for our society, but a focus on the complementary nature of liberty and responsibility would do even more. I think living with the personal strength that these two things bestow is what encourages us to practice meaning-making in the powerful way that Frankl describes. To me, meaning-making that drives us to certain action is a good definition of courage. Courage comes from knowing you have not only the ability to act but also the responsibility to do so. Most people would say that those in concentration camps had neither of those things, but because Frankl sees meaning-making as man's highest purpose, he was able to understand, in kind of a reciprocal way, how he potentially also retained a shred of liberty and responsibility for his actions and his attitude, even in such a soul-crushing environment. I'm not sure I'm explaining this all very well, but I've always thought that courage is one of the most important values I could teach my children. It is courageous to be able to face your own suffering with the nobility that Frankl did. I think courage enables us to live with all of the other values that are important--faithfulness, kindness, anything.

Again, I'm not sure I've explained this all very well, but I'll just end by saying that I am very happy I read this book.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Zollinger Adventures: Maine Edition of the Boston Chronicles

Prepare for another picture overload. Just prepare. 

After we did all the fun stuff in Boston, we drove up to Maine so we could really say we got the full New England experience. We stayed for one night in a seaside town outside of Portland at the Old Orchard Beach Inn, a cute little place built in 1730. Yeah, for realses. I took pictures, but somehow those get deleted off my phone before they uploaded to my cloud drive. Dag nabbit! Anyway, this is what it looks like:

 Image result for old orchard beach inn portland me

The Maine coast was beautiful, and I saw my first lighthouses! We took a TON of pictures of The Headlight. It is one of Maine's most iconic lighthouses, commissioned in 1790 by the one and only George Washington. So, without further ado, here's the picture overload, as promised. I have a hard time limiting pictures, okay?! 

When we get back to Florida, we're going to do some kind of wall with printed out photos we've taken of all the fun things we've done on the East Coast...and I'm sure we'll add some of the beaches in Florida, too. I'm really excited to have such fun pictures of photos I actually took! 

After the Headlight, we did the waterfront shops in Portland. If you ever happen to go there, by all means, make every effort to go to Gorgeous Gelato. It's a little shop started by a family that came here straight from Milan, and it is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth, no contest. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Zollinger Adventures: Liberty Trail Edition of the Boston Chronicles

So, after spending the day in Newport, we made our way to Boston and did the Freedom Trail. There literally is a line of bricks snaking through the city showing you where all the cool historical stuff is located. 

Boston Common, the oldest public park in America. They used to hang witches here. (They don't do that anymore) 

Park Street Church. Most of the old churches we saw still have active congregations, which I think is cool. 

I didn't expect this, but one of my favorite things on the trail was all the old cemeteries. All the monuments in these cemeteries were from the 1600s and 1700s. This is Granary Burying Ground, where John Hancock, Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and the victims of the Boston Massacre are buried. Other graves we saw were John Winthrop, the Mather family, and Mary Chilton...the first woman off the MAYFLOWER. Yeah. The Mayflower. 

Look at this beautiful tree. 

Boston Massacre memorial. 

Paul Revere's family pew. No big deal. 

Old State House, where the Declaration was first read in Boston. 

Paul Revere's house. I love how these historical places are just tucked in among more modern buildings. It gives East Coast cities a special character that you just don't see as often in the West. This is where Paul Revere started out when he saw the two lanterns. You know, The British are coming! The British are coming! I feel like a lot of sites in Boston claimed to be where Paul Revere rode, though...so who knows. 

Paul Revere statue by the Old North Church. 

Taking a little break. Look at this cute guy. 

When you smile so hard your paci falls out. 

Look at these adorable apartments just tucked in an alcove between the Paul Revere monument and Old North Church. What must it be like to live here? Fun, I'm guessing (and expensive). 

Feeling artistic-y. 

The USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides. It's the oldest warship still in commission, which is cool. Active duty Navy guys take you on and let you tour it. They still take this baby out to sail every once in while! Cool stuff.

Brynn and me, swabbing the deck. 

We took a little boat through Boston Harbor so we wouldn't have to walk the whole trail back to the subway station. 

That night we went to Fenway Park and watched a Red Sox game. Greg is a Yankees fan, so this was Enemy Territory. But, you know, iconic park and everything. I'm pretty sure this was Greg's favorite thing we did all day, even though the Red Sox killed the Astros. 

I'm pretty sure this is Greg's favorite picture we took all day, too, so I'll save it for last. Big Papi, striking out. It looks like we had amazing seats. We had good seats, but mostly we were just messing around with the zoom lens on the camera. Have I mentioned how much I love that thing? 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Zollinger Adventures: Newport Edition of the Boston Chronicles

Greg STILL has paid paternity leave left, so last week we took a little jaunt over to Boston. Oh, yeah, and we stopped in Newport and Quincy and Old Orchard Beach and Portland too.

It was awesome. 

I have loved living on the East Coast and having the opportunity to get to do things like this. Sometimes I think maybe I'm starting to take all the traveling for granted. Yes, it's been crazy to move so much in the last few years, but I wouldn't trade the experiences we've had for anything. There's a brief time in our lives when it's so easy for us to pick up and do things like this, and I'm happy we've taken advantage of it. 

Plus, we have the cutest traveling companion ever.

This little baby is so easy, we can drag her just about anywhere. And we do. The other day we counted, and Brynn has been to 19 states so far, plus the District of Columbia. That's not including airports. 

I have so many pictures and so many memories I want to store here on our little blog that I think I'm going to have to break up posts. Otherwise there would be about 200 pictures here and, let's face, that definitely qualifies as an overload. 

First on our trip was Newport, Rhode Island. I've wanted to go here and see the mansion houses ever since my slightly-obsessed history teacher in the 10th grade showed us about 100 slides of him visiting the summer cottages of the Gilded Age millionaires. So there was no way I was going to pass this up. Newport is an adorable sea town on an island. We got tickets to tour The Breakers and Marble House, both built by Vanderbilts. They definitely did not disappoint. 

The Breakers 

So the Newport Historical Society has just barely started allowing people to take pictures inside the mansions, as long as you sign a release saying you won't sell the images. I felt pretty snazzy walkin' around with my fancy pantsy camera, signing releases and stuff.

Beautiful, right? And over the top, but also beautiful. It reminded me of that one time I went to Europe. 

Funny story about this bathtub. It is made from a solid piece of marble. So to get it ready for some rich Vanderbilt guy to take a bath in it, they had to fill it and empty it multiple times to get it warm, because the marble would make the water cold instead of the other way around. Crazy. 

The ocean view. 

I think they have enough pots, don't you? 

I'm still just amazed at the awesomeness that is my camera. I wish I was more confident in my ability to shoot in manual all the time, but I'm still learning. It's still pretty fun, though. 

Marble House 

The Gothic Room. It was basically a personal museum. Greg really liked this room, although I  thought it was a little bit creepy. 

The lowly servants' staircase. 

Easily the best picture we took all day: 

I love the ocean. Sigh. Guess I'd better move to Florida soon.

We decided this was an engraving honoring the Greek women who changed diapers. Look closely: 

A great day with a great baby! 

That night we drove into Boston and stayed next to Harvard, and the next day we did the Freedom Trail. I hope to get those pictures up tomorrow!