Taking a moment to brag: YaYu graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors.
And then there were four . . . college graduates, that is! What a great day we had yesterday, even though it rained all day. The graduation ceremony was lovely, and afterwards we enjoyed tea sandwiches and cookies back at YaYu’s dorm along with her friends/roommates and their parents. With YaYu’s commencement, all four of our children are now college graduates and have officially flown out of our nest. We are so very proud of ALL of them.
Meiling and WenYu arrived in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon and we spent a fun evening with YaYu beginning with a celebratory dinner at the White Dog Cafe (which serves local, sustainable foods) and then went for some house-made ice cream from a nearby shop – the available flavors were creative and incredibly tasty. Afterwards we walked over to a combination Japanese restaurant and small grocery store and found prices lower than what we paid in Kaua’i! Brett got me another reusable shopping bag for my birthday, this one with a Japan theme (the bags are turning into my favorite souvenir – they’re low cost and very useful). We dropped YaYu back at her dorm with a box of Covid self-tests, and she texted us back shortly with a picture of her negative test: she had cleared the virus in time for graduation!
We enjoyed a fabulous celebration meal on Friday with some very yummy food followed by artisanal ice cream, and a small birthday gift for me – a lovely evening! (we were not actually seated in a parking lot at dinner)
The day after our arrival in Pennsylvania Brett and I headed over to Whole Foods, the closest market to our hotel, to pick up food for the week. We have been committed to eating as many meals as possible in our room, so we shopped with that in mind. We were stunned when our bill for a cart full of food came to a full $65 (and some change) less than expected, at Whole Foods of all places, but I guess our brains were still figuring everything according to what it would cost on Kaua’i. We took YaYu out for pizza on Thursday, celebrated YaYu’s graduation and my birthday at our dinner on Friday but otherwise we’ve eaten in our room. I sure hope food prices in Nashville are similar to those we’ve experienced here – so very much lower than what we’re accustomed to.
This morning I am thinking about:
- What we accomplished: 1) Getting to Philadelphia from Hawaii was THE major accomplishment, but we survived (even though we continue are still suffering a bit from jet lag). 2) On Thursday we took YaYu to IKEA to find a bed for her new living quarters, and on Friday we picked up Meiling and WenYu and have been having a grand time together. Meiling left early this morning; WenYu is heading to NYC later this afternoon for a short reunion there with Wellesley and Portland friends. 3) Brett got our admission forms completed for our entry into Canada, including proof of vaccination and other information. We are ready to go!
- Good things that happened: We have had a wonderful time with the girls, and YaYu’s graduation was great from start to finish.
- Ways we saved: 1) We have somehow miraculously stayed close to our budget for our time in Pennsylvania. Our car rental is paid in full, our hotel is paid in full (and we were not charged extra to have Meiling and WenYu stay with us in our room), and we did not go crazy on our food spending. I hope Nashville is as affordable as Philadelphia has been (compared to Hawaii). 2) I was able to chose another billing plan for my new direct loan and my monthly payment will now be one-third less than what I’ve been paying for the past 22+ years, and I will save nearly $14K in interest over what I would have with the old loan.
- What we’re looking forward to: This time next week we’ll be in Mexico! I’m actually looking forward to our flights as I had forgotten we’ll be in business class this time. We booked a direct shuttle service to San Miguel de Allende from the Mexico City airport, recommended by our Airbnb host, when Brett received a very unexpected refund from the dentist he saw three years ago in Portland. The amount of the refund exactly covers the cost of the shuttle, and it will deliver us directly to the door of our apartment in SMA.
We head back to Baltimore early tomorrow morning (using toll roads this time!) to turn in our rental car and head first to Toronto. We’ll spend the night there and then catch an early morning flight down to Mexico City. We’re looking forward to getting together with long-time reader Natalie in Toronto at our hotel tomorrow evening. It’s hard for us to believe that we left Kaua’i a week ago tomorrow, but even harder to accept sometimes that we’re not going back after this trip is over. Our time so far on the mainland has almost seemed at times like we’re visiting a foreign country because it’s so different in so many ways, from prices to traffic to the weather to the stores and shops available. We’re a bit sad we were not able to visit either Gettysburg or Valley Forge, but there wasn’t enough time and we were honestly much too tired to do any sightseeing. Those visits will be a good excuse to return to Pennsylvania in the future.
We’ve had a great, busy, but tiring week in Philadelphia but wouldn’t have had it any other way (other than that horrid trip up from Baltimore). We’re looking forward to the week coming up, with hopefully a more relaxing travel experience than the one last week, and starting our long stay in San Miguel de Allende. Wishing all a very good week filled with lots of good things!