At the end of May I flew out to Pennsylvania with my parents to visit my aunts, uncles, and Grandmas. Luckily my mom and dad are both from Penn - dad growing up in Bridgeville, and mom growing up in Erie! So convenient for our visit. :)
It was so great to see everyone, and we had a wonderful time!
Firstly, I got a milkshake. No really, that was the first thing I ordered when we sat down at a diner for lunch the day we arrived. I haven't had a milkshake in a VERY long time, and it was absolutely delicious. Fatty and creamy and amazing. :)
Next up, dinner at Grandma's! (My dad's a bit of a ham, if you can't tell - haha!) Eleanor is my dad's mom - and dinner was... well... interesting. The broccoli was boiled to the point where there was no nutrition in it at all, the potatoes were served from a can, and the chicken (which I wouldn't eat anyway) was store-bought / store-cooked. Yuck. Luckily my aunt Barbara made a huge green salad with lots of veggies that I was happy to scarf down!!
Oh, and they made strawberry shortcake - so that was good. :) All store-bought cakes of course, but we worked with what we had!
Grandma interior decorating. I love it!
Next, we made our way to downtown Pittsburgh. I loved all of the bridges! They were everywhere! I don't think I've been back there for a while - at least since High School. I remember we once traveled there to row in a regatta (yes, I was on the crew team in High School), and loving it!
Mom & pops - my shopping buddies for the day.
We came across this AWESOME fabric / craft shop downtown. They had all of these funky prints - Day of the Dead stuff - everything. I was in LOVE! I ended up getting some fabric scraps of my favorite ones to use as handkerchiefs / cloth napkins. My mom hemmed the edges, and I absolutely love them.
Even with the heat & humidity there were all kinds of people with food to sell outside of their shops. I really wanted to try some sweets, but I resisted!
Me checkin' out the pretty flowers. :)
I LOVE tacky stores like these! So many dresses - I really wanted to get one, but again, resisted... amazingly!
Then, it was OFF TO THE RACES!! We decided to go out with my uncle Bobby (center), whom I haven't seen since I was a kid (it was great to hang out with him again!), and my aunt Barbara (far right). My dad is hamming it up on the left of course. Haha!
We went to the casino & horse race track. I've never been to a horse race before, and it was a lot of fun! I had no idea what I was doing (damn, gambling is complicated!) - but I still made two $2 bets, and crossed my fingers...
This is how they race the horses - on a little buggy! Isn't that cool! I think it's hilarious, and probably a lot of fun. They must plug up the horse's behind, otherwise they'd probably get pooped on. Yes, I think about these things.
I put some money on All Heart Gal (I just liked the name) - and I WON!! First time ever!! It was pretty awesome! I was jumping up and down like an idiot. I won a whole $1.32. Haha! I guess you make more money on A) how much you put down, and B) how many spots you bet on correctly (ex: who will place 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th). So much I don't know about gambling, but I guess that's a good thing.
And I finally got a Yuengling. My little East-coast treat!! I raved about it just a teensy bit when we went to Pawley's Island, SC a couple of years ago. Love it!
Next we drove to Erie to visit my mom's mom - Grandma Ann! Even though she's not doing great, she's still hilarious, and kept making me laugh. It was lovely to see her again.
This is what she had hanging on her door - I had to snap a picture! Words to live by, I'm tellin' ya. Ha!
We baked up some scones when we were visiting, so of course I had one with a cup of tea and some jam. Grandma Ann is British, so naturally we had to have scones & tea!
We stayed with my Aunt Roz (my mom's sister) since she lived so nearby. She's been caring for grandma a lot lately since she's been unable to leave her apartment. She's a pretty amazing lady.
I loved these flowers outside their house - aren't they gorgeous!
My mom greeting Auntie Roz, Uncle Tim, and their doggie Mattie (short for Matilda).
Roz & Tim live out in farm country - I think they have about 10 acres? It's beautiful! I would love to retire in a place like this. The first night we were there, I walked out in the yard and watched the fireflies light up all around me. It was magical. I'd forgotten all about fireflies (they aren't native to Colorado), and how much I loved catching them when I was a child. I stood there for a long time (even when it started to sprinkle and thunder), and smiled and smiled...
Dad & Tim - just hangin' out on the porch!
Mattie - what a good lil' pup. She was wonderful - and was my buddy while we were there! She loved getting scratched behind the ears, and on the tummy if she felt like rolling over. I love rescue dogs!!
Me & Mattie!
One morning we took Mattie out for a long walk up the dirt road by the house. It was a beautiful morning!
My mom & Auntie Roz - a lovely sunrise!
This beautiful meadow was behind their property - those two little specks are horses!
A closer pic of the horses - they were so majestic and beautiful. I loved the spotted one. They were a little too timid to come up close to us, but they were very pretty!
Me and Roz!
All-in-all it was a lovely trip. I'm so glad I got to make it out there and spend some time with my family, and my Grandmas. I wish they didn't live so far away!
One big thing I learned while I was there is how important it is to take care of yourself when you're young, so that you can live a more fulfilling life when you're older. Both of my Grandmas are pretty immobile - they don't leave the house, and they need help to do everyday things. Neither of them exercised or ate healthy foods in their youth, and it definitely shows. The same with their mental capacity, which was kind of scary.
I once read an article about the 5 keys to a long and happy life. They said that as long as you kept up on these things, you could make the most of your life, and live long and happily! It actually made a lot of sense to me. Here they are (in no particular order):
1.) FlexibilityStretching, yoga - whatever! Just keeping your muscles flexible.
2.) Strength & Exercise
Going for a walk, lifting weights every now and then. The weights help to prevent sarcopenia which happens in old age, and I'm sure you already know the benefits of regular exercise. :)
3.) Mental Exercise
I think this is the one that people tend to forget (no pun intended) - you have to keep your mind active as well as your body! Doing a crossword every morning, sudoku, anything that keeps your mind solving problems. It will help to prevent memory loss, and keep you as quick-witted as you were in your youth. ;)
4.) Friendships & Activities
Another way of putting this is "a will to live". Join a community or church group, volunteer a couple of days a week, join a bridge or bowling club! Make friends, and keep them. Sometimes after retirement people lose their drive to get up and do something every day. I know it would be hard to get going if I didn't have things on my schedule!
5.) Healthy Eating
I think that pretty much sums it up!
Those are definitely things that I will always remember - and take with me as I continue to get older and grow! I want to live a very long and happy life, and I want to stay as independent as I possibly can while doing it. I wish my grandmas had done the same, but they are definitely from a different time. I'm just glad that I have the information now!
Love you so much, my Grandmas (and my aunts & uncles)! Hope to see you again soon!!