Last week when I talked about our trip to the marathon, I mentioned that we had a couple of interesting stories. I thought that I would share them today. One of my friends and I left the house at 9:00 and took the T in and got in there pretty early. Well, we were supposed to leave the house at 8:30 but I needed to make some driving arrangements for my kids with my mom and it was so complicated that it took us about 20 minutes (and then my daughter messed it up anyway but oh well, it all worked out in the end.) We got in there in a timely fashion and quickly passed through a checkpoint. Then for some inexplicable reason, we left the checkpoint area. I honestly don't know what we were thinking but we did it and then were unable to get back in at 2 other checkpoints. We had eaten at the food court in the Prudential (a mall that is right on the course) and we knew that there was a checkpoint there at the Terrace so we headed there. Luckily we got in but by the time we all actually got ourselves situated to watch the marathon, it almost felt like we were running it, it was so much work. Okay, that is a serious bit of hyperbole right there but we certainly didn't make things easy on ourselves. Well unbeknownst to us, one of our friends had done almost the same thing. She texted us to ask our location but by the time that she got there, they weren't letting anyone else in. She tried playing the "but I am meeting my friends" card to no avail and then the "what if they come and get me card", also to no avail. My friend and I decided that I should go over and see if they would let her in if I asked. I politely approached the nearest police officer and asked when they thought they would be letting people in, he didn't know. Then I explained that we were meeting someone and that she was all alone and could she come and meet us. He was super nice but said that it was not possible. At this point, I happened to spot her and waved and yelled that it would be a while but to be patient. We must have looked pathetic waving at each other sadly because the police officer then said, "Is it just her? Okay, she can come in." He then proceeded to open the door, point at her and say, "You there, come here now." And just like that (approximately 6 checkpoints, some pathetic waving and one very nice police officer later), she was in!! We then had a pretty uneventful day in a great spot, there were only a few people in front of us. Although finding a bathroom, food or water was quite challenging (not finding a something to drink was probably a good thing with the bathroom being so problematic) and we certainly were not going to make the mistake of leaving the checkpoint area again. We did manage to find a port-a potty (I know, yuck but when you gotta go...) and a soda machine (sadly, it was not working). And eventually, we managed to secure a spot right up front. The only problem with the spot is that there was not one, but two (!!) different people that felt that it was okay to clap incessantly for no apparent reason. And when I say incessantly, I mean ridiculously, annoyingly, constantly!! Anyway, we were lucky enough to see all of our friends pass us by from this spot. After that, we made our way to the Lennox Hotel for a private party. My friend's sister-in-law (and her brother) are in law enforcement and their agency was hosting a party for the runners and their friends and family. The only thing that we needed to do was give a super secret code word to get in. Of course, it wasn't that easy and we couldn't get in at the front of the hotel. So we made our way to the back of the hotel and gave the secret password to the bouncer (a bouncer that described himself as an ogre to my other friend earlier in the day). How funny is that? Going to a private party and needing to give a self-described ogre of a bouncer a code word? But since it was law enforcement, I guess they weren't too worried about the code word getting out!! And it gets even better, the code word? Unicorn! After a huge glass of water and a couple of trips to the beautiful and really clean rest room, we parted ways with our other friend and made our way back to the T. We changed trains at Downtown Crossing and as we sit down, another of our friends plops down next to us. We knew she was in there but hadn't seen here all day and we all just happened to be on the same train. It was the perfect, if slightly random and bizarre, ending to a perfect, if slightly random and bizarre, day. Can't wait to go in again next year!!
So my daughter had asked if her friends could come over before their semi-formal and do some pictures since they were going together. Of course, I said yes, I have been waiting for years for my kids to ask me to take their pictures. Although now that I think of it, I should have made her beg that would have been even sweeter. Oh well there is always the next time, I do have 2 other girls. (I am under no illusions that my son will ever ask me to take his picture, never mind beg!) Well that day was chilly (I know shocking since it has been such a mild and beautiful spring around here, not!) and cloudy so I really wasn't sure where to take the pictures since I knew the girls would be cold. After I dropped my girls off to get their nails done, it hit me, I could set up something in the garage. I ask you, why do these ideas always come at the last minute? Does that happen to everyone or is that just me?? Anyway I immediately went downstairs to dig out some Christmas lights and a "screen" that my husband had made out of a sheet and some trim to use with a projector a couple of years ago when the Patriots were in the Super Bowl. I hung the Christmas lights behind the sheet. I know one of my friends had a lot of success hanging lights in the front of the sheet and creating bokeh (for non-photographers, that is the blurry effect in photos) but my lights had dark cords and I didn't have enough space to back up far enough. I was also lucky enough to get some help from my youngest daughter (yes, the photobomber) so before we knew we had a serviceable, if slightly ghetto, spot to take some picture. It worked out pretty well in the end, I have to say. Here's a look at the set-up:
and here's some of the pictures we took that night:
Not too bad for a 45 minute rushing around like a crazy person set-up, huh??
So do I have a treat for you today!! Last Friday, I met one of my friends and her daughter to take some pictures of her for her upcoming First Communion. We were originally supposed to meet on Saturday but we happened to be talking on the phone on Friday morning and we realized that we were both free that afternoon and that the weather was supposed to be much better on Friday than Saturday. We were both hoping to be able to do some outside so we changed things up a bit. I am so glad that we did because it was beautiful out there (and Saturday was pretty much a washout). Of course, it doesn't hurt when your subject is absolutely adorable!!
Ava was such a good sport and such a natural!! Even though initially she was not too thrilled about the whole thing, she really got into the spirit of it all after a bit.
After a while, we moved inside the church and got some great poses in there. Then the church's office manager came out and told us that we definitely needed to take some with the kneeler and some rosary beads. You know what? She was totally 100% right!!
My daughter came along to help me and I am so glad that she did because she was a big help, both with taking the pictures and helping Ava get into the spirit. Although when my daughter is around, you have to know that you are risking a photo bomb or two!
Thanks to Ava for being such a good sport and to her mom for trusting me enough to capture this special time. I enjoyed our time thoroughly. And by the way, I am glad that we were both available Friday afternoon, that worked out great!
I can't believe that vacation is over. It was a weird week, last weekend and Monday were so busy but then the rest of the week was pretty quiet. It was probably quiet because it took me a good day or two to recover. The weather wasn't really great either, not bad but not great. Just kind of an eh week around here except for Easter and the marathon, they were awesome! The kids had fun though and they are now so excited to get back to school (um, yeah not really, that was a teeny bit sarcastic). This week is going to be pretty busy around here so I am glad that I made the most of the rest time last week. Here's a peek at some of the fun stuff on the blog this week.
Some of the random things that happened last week.
Have a great week everyone!! With re-entry into the real world looming, mine is certainly going to be interesting (and by interesting, I mean absolutely, totally, crazy!!)
Once again this is not a music video but I thought that this was a good one to share today since we are in the middle of a Bruins playoff run (what a good job gutting out a win last night). The Bruins have a fantastic tradition of giving away game worn jerseys to their fans after the last home game of the season. The players literally take the shirts off their backs and present them to a fan. Well one of my old friends (young friend, actually) was lucky enough to be chosen. You may remember him and his sisters from this winter and this post with his extended family from last fall. He plays hockey and is a huge hockey fan so he was thrilled beyond belief, although I have to say that I think that his dad gave him a run for the money in the excited to be out there on the ice department. He brought it into school with him the following week and let's just say that even if the whole thing hadn't been on video, you would have been able to tell it was game worn by the smell alone. He's announced right around the 5 minute mark of the video. Oh and by the way, please ignore the visibly annoyed lady in the video. She is annoyed because she was not happy with the player that she was given. I have some choice words for this lady but since this is a family blog (somewhat), I will just stick to saying that most first graders know to act better than that, after all, every first grader knows, "You get what you get and you don't get upset."
I am going to include a picture here from one of my shoots with them because not only are posts are always better with pictures but this picture also ranks right up there as one of my all time favorites. Happy Friday, everyone!!
Years ago, we were watching the movie Soul Surfer, the inspiring true story of surfer, Bethany Hamilton. During the scene with the surfing competition at the very end of movie, my son, who had never seen the movie, said to us, "Of course she wins, this is a Disney movie." When we stopped laughing, we told him that not only was it not a Disney movie but that it's a true story as well. I was reminded of this by the story of the winner of the Boston Marathon women's wheelchair champion, Tatyana McFadden. I don't think that even Disney could come up with a story that is as inspiring as this one. According to the biography section on her website, "By all accounts Tatyana should not be one of the top female athletes in the world. She probably should not be alive. She was born in 1988 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with an underdeveloped spinal cord resulting in paralyzation below the waist and a hole in her spine, a condition know as spina bifida. When operated on immediately, spina bifida is rarely life threatening. Tatyana was left for 21 days before doctors operated. Only her innate strength of will kept her alive." Beyond that let's look at how this would play as a Disney movie. The orphanage where she is left is so poor that there is no money for a wheelchair which does not faze little Tatyana, she just learns to use her hands as legs by walking on them until she was 6. At which point, she was discovered and adopted by then Commissioner for Disabilities with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Deborah McFadden. She was so sickly that her adoptive mother had little hope for her survival. To help her regain her strength, her mother got her involved in sports. When she entered high school, Tatyana was disappointed to learn that she would have to compete by herself and not compete with others. Perhaps others would have let this go unchallenged but not Tatyana. With the support of her family, she sued the state of Maryland. The lawsuit resulted in the passing of the Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, the first law in the country to allow, and encourage, students with disabilities to participate in their schools’ sports programs. At age 20, she won the Chicago Marathon, a race that she entered mainly to get in a long distance training ride in and a distance that she had never before attempted. Last year, she became the first person to sweep the four big races (Chicago, Boston, London and New York). Along with many medals from the Paralympic Summer Games, she also won a silver at the Paralympic Winter Games this past winter in Socchi. An event where, oh yeah, she just happened to meet her birth mother for the very first time.
For all her incredible achievements, I think that it is her humanity that makes her so awe-inspiring. Not to mention the fact that there does not seem to be one ounce of quit in her entire body. This is someone that once gave her New City Marathon gold medal away to the director of the orphanage that she grew up in to thank her for all that she was doing. The front page of her website currently shows a tribute to the 4 people that lost their lives in Boston last year and she has a different personalized message for each one of them. She took the time before the marathon to attend the Richards' family fundraising dinner. She wore a shirt honoring Martin Richard during the marathon and provided some serious inspiration to his sister, Jane. "When I went to (the Richard’s) fundraising dinner, Jane just ran up to me and introduced herself,” McFadden said at the post-race news conference. “She was full of life and energy, which brought up so many happy emotions for me. She told me about how much she loves sports, like basketball, dancing and swimming. I told her, ‘If sports make you happy, then just keep playing.’ 'She even took a few selfies with my medals from Sochi and London, saying she was an Olympian, and I told her that she was'.” After the race, a race that she won on her 25th birthday, she presented her laurel wreath to Carlos Arredondo, one of the many people that responded so courageously during last year's race.
See what I mean? I don't know if I would believe this as a Disney movie, her story sounds too good to be true. But if they ever decide to make one, I know that I'll be the first in line to go see it!!
We had a wonderful Easter weekend. It started on Friday with our annual pilgrimage, complete with photo, to my grandmother's grave. She passed away on Holy Thursday in 2005 so every year on Good Friday, we choose to commemorate her passing with a visit to her which includes some planting and a picnic. And luckily this year, my sister brought a couple of her friend's kids to help my niece do the planting (you know because none of the teenagers would help, they may have been too busy picnicking, ha!). Although to give the teenagers credit, the ones that did not have to work came with us without complaining. And as a matter of fact, my oldest took the day off from work. When she told me that she had taken the day off, I asked her if she was going to come with us, she told me that's the reason that she took the day off (duh!).
For the past couple of years (or the last decade or so), the night before Easter would find my mom coming over to curl the girls' hair with socks as we watched The Ten Commandments. Well this year, my youngest did not want her hair curled but did ask that my mom come over and watch it with us. I asked my mom to please come over because you never knew how long my daughter will still be willing to watch with us (my mom is big on traditions so it did not take much convincing and by the end, we had more than one watching with us). They'll probably kill me for this but I can't resist.
On Easter, it was church first, then off to my mom's house for a wonderful brunch by Pappy (he was so sweet and made me my own omelet because the casserole that he makes has croutons which I can't eat). After that, we went to celebrate the rest of the day at my dad's house A day which contains its own set of traditions, like a picture of all the grandchildren that are present, with and without Grampa and Mimi:
as well as the annual Easter egg hunt. The kids absolutely love this and by now, it is like a "Gentlemen, start your engines" kind of thing. At one point, I was concerned for Mimi's safety (apparently she was too, she is in the mint green covering her head):
plus we have the annual walking on your hands contest (yeah, the gymnast practiced all last week for this one. She still lost, you can bet there will be some practicing next year):
and of course, the football game on the street:
this year featured a new twist, the photo bomb.
As the afternoon progressed, a bunch of the guys went inside to happily watch the Bruins take game 2.
We also got some great group shots,
as well as some combination shots, including one of yours truly with the nephew.
It's always great to all get together so it was just a terrific day, aided tremendously by the fact that we were able to spend the majority of it outside!! I hope that everyone else had a wonderful Easter/weekend as well!!
What an absolute privilege to be able to go in and watch the Boston Marathon today. We saw many things that gave us chills, from signs like these:
to unparalleled displays of determination, grit and most especially, sportsmanship:
to wonderful displays of emotion and pure pride (the picture with the baby just may be the cutest thing that I have ever seen in my life!!)
We all knew at least one person that was running and we were lucky enough to get to see each one of them pass us by.
I have a bunch of great stories to share from what was truly a terrific day but for now, I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I'll end with one last picture that says it all. If anyone had any doubts about the strength of the city of Boston and the strength of character of the people that run marathons, well, they were certainly laid to rest today! Congratulations to all that ran today, job well done!!
Busy weekend and week coming, my vacation of doing nothing and catching up on my spring cleaning won't start until Tuesday because of Easter this weekend plus I am heading in to the marathon with a friend today. Anyway, here's what we have to look forward to this week on the blog. A recap of Easter and the marathon. A look at my ghetto studio set-up that I used for my daughter and her friends before their semi-formal the other night. A young friend and the cool thing that happened to him at the Bruins game. There may be a Chase sighting, he celebrated his first birthday at the beginning of the month and his mom and I talked about doing something this week to commemorate it. That's about it. I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend and Easter! And good luck and God bless to everyone today, especially all the runners!
Random things that happened to me this week:
The other night, I was lucky enough to man a photo wall at our high school's junior semi-formal. It was such a blast and all the kids were so nice and appreciative, not to mention, really, really photogenic. The semi-formal itself was a complete do-it-yourself affair and I have to say that the committee of students, led by their wonderful adviser, completely outdid themselves! They decided on a Great Gatsby theme and the semi-formal really reflected their vision. They also designed and created a photo wall with a variety of homemade props as well as a terrific sign announcing its presence.
The fantastic class officers had so much to do with the success of the evening. As someone commented on Instagram, "You girls killed it!"
Thank you, Class of 2015, for inviting me to share in your fun!! You were all wonderful and it was truly a delight to spend an evening with you. I thought I was excited about the upcoming senior picture season before this but after spending a night with you all and seeing your mad posing skills, now I really can't wait!!
This is only a sampling of the great shots that were taken, to see more photo wall pictures, please click here.
I wasn't going to post anything today because it is Good Friday but then I came across this on Facebook and couldn't resist. What a moving telling of the story of this holy day.
I got a haircut last Thursday. I used to have a regular hairdresser but I haven't had one in a while. The reason that I haven't found one is because usually what happens is that I let my hair go for so long that one day I am just all done with it. And of course, because I have to do things now, right now (I am a bit like a child in this respect), I then go right up and usually have about 2-3 inches cut off. I joke around that I have 2 styles - longish and shortish. Well last Thursday was just such a day so off I went. When my husband came home, he took one look at me and said, "Did you get a haircut or something?" The or something cracks me up. He got annoyed when I chuckled and then he asked my daughter, "What is worse when Dad announces for weeks that he is getting a haircut on Saturday and then when he gets home, Mom doesn't even tell him it looks good? Or when Mom sneaks off without telling anyone and then gets mad at Dad for not noticing?" This just cracked me up for a couple of reasons: 1) I wasn't mad and 2) he did notice, he just wasn't quite sure what he was noticing. If this wasn't enough to make me feel noticed and appreciated, my youngest daughter then chimed in that I looked like Dora!! Oh the hits keep on coming for Mom!! Anyway here's the new haircut, you be the judge of the Dora resemblance:
Me, I think not. At least not the hair, although what is up with that smile? That smile would give Dora a run for her money, for sure!! Oh and I have to confess, my husband got a haircut on Saturday and I failed to comment once again, oops. Happy Thursday!
I have a couple of new compliments to add to my kudos page. I feel kind of bad accepting kudos for the pictures of Liz and Jenna because if I can't make them look good, then I have no business in this business!! But I'll take them and post them anyway. I have to give a special shout out to Liz's mom because I unintentionally made her walk around our whole school on her lunch break because I forgot to leave them in the office when I went out for recess duty. I am sure that lunch break is one of the highlights of most people's days but it's really valuable to anyone that works in a school It is an adult oasis in the midst of what can often be a life overrun by kids and their craziness (in the best possible way, of course). Not only did Liz's mom not yell at me for this around, she wouldn't even accept my apology!! Later that night, I sent her an email apologizing for not leaving them in a spot that would be easily accessible for her. She is such a nice person that instead of being annoyed, she sent me a wonderful compliment!! As for Jenna, well I was lucky enough to run into her mom on Friday night at the concert at our church and she gave me her blessing to use her comment. Hey get it, blessing, at church? Yeah, that was bad, no wonder my kids don't think I'm funny. Have a great day everyone!!
By the way, I am not even going to discuss the fact that it snowed last night, if I don't discuss it, it never happened, right?
So on Thursday night last week, I read a blurb that Sports Illustrated was asking the people of Boston to come to the marathon finish line on Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. to be a part of a photo shoot for an upcoming cover. Who doesn't think that I read this and immediately decided that I needed to go?? Because that is just what happened. We already had plans to go out Friday night which would make getting up early on Saturday a bit of a challenge but I knew that I would always regret it if I didn't go. I even managed to talk one of my teacher friends into going with me using just this logic. I sent her a text Friday night at 1:10 that said that I was still up (and eternally stupid) so no excuses see you soon. I quickly got a text back that she was still up too but she was still planning to go and did I want anything from Dunks in the morning? What a friend!! In spite of both of us being up until all hours, we managed to leave the house right on time. When we arrived, it was getting close to 7:00 so we just quickly parked at the Prudential Center garage (never, ever park there, they charged us $38 for less than 2 hours) and made the short walk over to the finish line. We saw a couple of memorable sights on our way.
We joined the crowd and ended up a couple of rows behind the people with the balloons. So when you see the cover, look for the balloons and there we'll be!! The one on the right is not my picture but I wanted to give you an idea of where the balloons were. You know, so you can look for us!!
We took a couple of pics in that spot,
and then after we stood there for a while, we thought that they were done so we made our way up to the front to see what was going on. Turns out that they weren't quite done so my son and my friend hopped back into the picture but at that point, I was more interested in taking pictures of things around us, like the SI photographer and the crowd,
as well as the people up front, including a fireman and one of the survivors.
Plus I couldn't resist a picture of this flag, I tried to get it from our other spot but couldn't get it quite right. Oh and the building right behind it? The actual home of my favorite virtual place, the Boston Public Library!!
All in all, it was so worth getting up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning to be a part of this. If anyone would like an autographed copy of the cover, please let me know (sorry, Jess, I stole your joke).