With the 4th of July looming on the horizon (yay!!), there was only one choice for a Saturday morning cartoon: Schoolhouse Rock's Fireworks. Enjoy and have a great weekend, everyone!
On Fridays, even the pictures are random
It's Friday so it must be time for some random thoughts. Yesterday was just the most perfect day here in the Boston area. Cerulean blue sky, minimal clouds, no humidity, pleasant breeze, 80 degrees, it was just perfect. For me, the perfection of the day was added to by the fact that my kids have discovered the wonders of water balloons. So although they are having water balloon "fights", they are not having their regular fights with each other. I know that this is probably not the best thing for the environment but for the moment, the piece and the quiet are really good for my "environment".
My daughter gets home today from her mission. She didn't bring her phone with her so we have not heard from her all week. I must admit I'm more than a little bit curious to hear her take on it. I'll be sure to fill you in unless she wants to, hmm, maybe there will a guest blogger in the future?
Absolutely love the cartoon below (full disclosure I got it from someone's Facebook page). I just love the simplicity of the message: no lectures, no browbeating, just a simple statement of fact. And how perfectly appropriate for this upcoming week. Independence day is one of my favorite holidays for having fun (click here to see how I think it stacks up to New Year's Eve on the fun scale). But in addition to having fun, I also think it is important to remember how lucky we are to live in the greatest country in the world. And part of that remembering is showing respect to our flag and all that it stands for.
So my husband was able to install the sink and toilet in our bathroom last week. Hurrah!! Although it has been so nice to have the use of those back, we (royal we, right there!) still have more work to do. But for now I am just reveling in what is finished! It looks fantastic, unfortunately my pictures don't really do it justice. Architectural photography is just not my thing. Plus the walls are not straight in there (one of the many things that slowed him down) so it was hard to get the picture straight. On the flip side, it made me appreciate his work even more since I only had to try to get the picture straight, he had to get everything else straight.
I haven't posted a "Friday Night Video" in a while but I do have the perfect one for this week. And of course, it has to be: Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"
Wow, this whole blogging thing is so much harder when you have no idea what to write. I mean obviously I knew that but I don't think I knew that. Part of it is that this week has been super easy to blog so far. Between the duck tour and the mission at our church, I haven't really needed to think up any ideas, they have just sort of been falling from the sky.
It's a good thing too because I have sort of checked out this week. June was so busy with baseball, softball and the end of school that this week, I have just been trying to regroup as well as tie up some loose ends of various projects. You may also have noticed that I have dabbled a little with my website design. I even ventured into some CSS editing (Impressed? Don't be, I had no idea what it even meant until my husband told me it meant Cascading Style Sheets which honestly still means nothing. These are the things that he just knows and suffice it to say, I just don't). Apparently I am not the only one tying up some loose ends this week since I have heard from the mothers of the adorable Morris kids and the gorgeous Ryan this week about ordering prints. I have already picked up the order for the Morris kids. Man, does my lab make me look good, the prints are to die for!
By the way, last night when I typed this, I was already in bed and I didn't want to get back up again so I used my Nook Color and sent it as an email to myself. It is hard to type on one of those so I made tons of mistakes. I probably corrected 90% of the errors as I went along but I forced myself to leave some errors alone in the interest of speed. Progress?
So yesterday, my friend and I got up at the crack of dawn (well not really, it only felt like that because it's summer) to go to 7:00 a.m. Mass and then out to breakfast. This is not actually as random as it may sound. See, both of us have a child that is doing the mission at our church. The mission this year is helping out the people in our own community. Several years ago, some of the kids that are part of the mission made the valid point that not everyone that needs help is miles away and that it would be nice to help out their own hometown as well. So for the last couple of years, the church has alternated between destinations such as Vermont, Appalachia and Mississippi and right here at home. Anyway this year they're at home and they start every day with a Mass so we decided it would be nice to combine Mass and a breakfast date. Now I'm sure that if my daughter saw me walk in, then she immediately thought that I was there solely for the purpose of checking up on her. Actually that may have had a little to do with it but in reality, it was more that I wanted to be a part of something so special. (Of course, I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't brave enough to really be a part of it which would have meant sleeping on the church hall floor and showering at the Y.) And let me tell you, it was quite a sight to see. Some 40 or so teenagers up really early for Mass, in various stages of wakefulness with, I might add, no shower on the premises.
All in all, I am glad that my main purpose wasn't to touch base with my daughter since I have no idea if she even knew that I was there since she didn’t even glance my way (actually that was probably a good thing because if she did see me, then she would have been just as likely to give me an eye roll or a grimace as a smile). I was a lot more successful with the feeling a little bit a part of something special, I walked out of Mass with an incredible sense of pride. Not only in my own daughter but in all those wonderful kids that are willingly giving up a week of their summer to give something back. Now, that was something that was well worth getting up at the crack of dawn for!
By the way, the picture above has absolutely nothing to do with the post, I just personally think that all posts are better with a picture. Plus is there a better way to honor some great kids doing a little bit of God's work than with some of his own beautiful handiwork?
So yesterday, I shared some of my pictures from our wonderful duck boat adventure. Today I would like to show you some of the views from the water. If you have never done a duck boat tour, well first off what are you waiting for? They are expensive but they are tons of fun and you may even learn a little to boot. Actually you will probably learn a bunch of new things. Anyway, if you never done one, they enter the water by driving into the river near where the Sand and Gravel Company is so that is pretty cool to see for a different view since I've driven by that like forever. Actually the company has been in business since 1914 so it would be forever for me and all but the really, really old of us. Anyway when you drive into the river, there is a mirror on the underside of a bridge, similar to a parking mirror. I, of course, saw it and thought I could use it to make some cool pictures. I'll let you be the judge of whether or not I was successful:
Our guide let all the kids (and some adults) drive the duck when we were in the water so he invited my son up there to take a spin. Even though he was pretty reluctant and didn't steer at all, my son has told just about everybody that he drove the duck so I'm guessing that he liked it. And he wore the glasses, which was quite a sight to see.
As I mentioned before, it was absolutely pouring when we drove in to the city but we ended up having some great weather and a terrific sunset.
We also saw a wedding and I learned a valuable lesson, it is really hard to keep your camera steady in a boat that is doing a slow bob up and down:
And I also learned that taking your dog kayaking is apparently the thing to do on a beautiful Saturday evening:
When I showed my mom the picture below, she said, "Wow, it didn't even look that pretty in real life!" Which, I guess when I think about it, is kind of the point of this whole photography thing.
Here's a picture of our Duck boat tour guide, Commander Duct. He was a terrific guide, very informative and hilarious, And generous too, when we gave him his tips, he said that he was going to donate them as part of the fundraising effort. We found out about this fundraiser from my cousin and according to her, "The fundraiser was for the Blue Star Mothers, MA Chapter 1. We are a 503c Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organization. We are comprised of Mothers who have or had children in the military." My cousin became involved in this organization when her son was in the military. He and his unit have been featured on this blog a few different times, most notably a portrait that he had taken with his grandfather and this Stanley Cup parade last year. He recently had a birthday and I am happy to report that for the first time in 7 years, he got to celebrate it at home.
We really had a blast, especially my mother. Riding the Ducks is one thing that she has always wanted to do but had never done. I am happy to say that they fully lived up to her high expectations. We started our tour at the Museum of Science and quickly made our way over to and around the Public Gardens. But first we went by the old jail that is now a luxury hotel and also had this cool window (at least I think that's where this window was, if not, it is still a cool window):
Next it was off to Beacon Hill and the State House:
Then Faneuil Hall where we saw the Custom House clock beautifully lit by the sun and of course, some street performers:
Then it was over to Charlestown for a look at the Constitution:
And some great angles of the Zakim Bridge:
Then we headed into the water. This post is already pretty long so I think I will save the water for tomorrow.
We got really, really lucky with the weather. It was pouring buckets at 5:30 when we drove in but it cleared out perfectly by the time we had our tour at 7:00. So much so that we saw an incredible sunset.
I have already been to the beach several times this year (ironically enough, more times in April than June so far) but I hadn't had the chance to make it to my favorite beach until this week. And as usual, it didn't disappoint. We went on Thursday and it was the perfect day to go because this area set 2 different weather records on Thursday. Highest temperature, 96 degrees and highest lowest temperature for the day because the temperature never dropped below 80 degrees for the entire day and night.
We got a late start and did not arrive at the beach until 1:30. But one thing that I love about that beach is that you can always get a parking spot, no matter how late you get there or how crowded it is. The great thing about getting a late start is that we were in no rush to get home so we didn't end up leaving the beach until 7:00. And we would have stayed later if we weren't facing a ride home of about an hour. When the sun starts to go down is really my favorite time at the beach, it is so relaxing as the heat of the day and the crowd slowly dissipates. My kids love it too because they get to play on the lifeguard chairs after the lifeguards finish up for the day. This particular day, it was still pretty crowded when we left at 7:00 and we continued to see people arrive even as we left. And I got to take some pictures so all in all as the first official beach day of the summer, it was a roaring success.
Today I'd like to wish my son the very happiest of birthdays. He's 12 today and he's a really great kid (most of the time anyway). Really caring and loving and sensitive. Actually the sensitive part gets him into trouble kind of a lot, he's ultra-sensitive and that combined with 3 sisters and a hair trigger temper, well let's just say that it is not always the best of combinations. He's also really, really smart (although not always smart enough to do his homework apparently). I always appreciate when birthdays roll around because too often in the hectic pace of life, I forget to let members of my family know how much I appreciate them. So here's my opportunity, happy birthday to a truly terrific kid, I hope that you have a birthday as great as you are! To celebrate, I thought that I would show a bunch of my favorite pictures of him throughout the years.
Yes this is me in 1992 when the tall ships came. Yes I did wear my hair that ridiculously blond and yes my husband is still annoyed that I don't wear it that way to this day. Anyway back in 1992 when the tall ships came in to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Castle Island to watch them sail in. I did not particularly want to do that so I told her no. She then decided to work that day because apparently I was the only one that she could go with. My husband's (not yet though we wouldn't get married for another 3 years) stepfather asks us at the last minute if we want to go on a tug boat to sail around the harbor and see the ships up close. Of course we say yes which of course infuriates my mom who at the time does not seem to understand that riding on a boat all day, docking Tall Ships (I touched a couple of them) was not at all the same as being crammed in like sardines on Castle Island. I don't think that she has forgiven me to this day. I tried to make it up to her by bringing her to Newport to see them 5 years ago and we had a fabulous time but then she lost her sweatshirt in the process. We are going to try again this year, maybe one of these days, I will atone for my 20 year old sin?
The pictures below are from Newport in 2007. And yes, my oldest still does that, plops down wherever to read.
This is one of my absolute favorite days of the whole year. It has been since I was a kid (what kid doesn't love the last day of school? I know my own kids are thrilled.) There is just such an air of anticipation in the air with the whole summer stretching before us. And what a kick off to the summer too, tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be in the 90s, beach anyone? Lat year was probably my best summer in a long time, mostly because we did a lot of great (free!) stuff. I am going to do my best to duplicate the experience.
Also to make the festivities of today even better, my friends and I have a last day of school party that we have had every year since my oldest was in first grade (she's just finishing her freshman year). So not only is today the last day of school but I also get to hang with some of my favorite people for the day. And not get up early tomorrow!! And what a day today is, it is supposed to be a perfect party day, partly sunny in the upper 70s.
Have a great day, everyone!! I know that I will.
Happy belated Father's Day to all the terrific dads out there. We ended up celebrating it by going to my dad's house for an impromptu cookout yesterday afternoon. Actually, first my husband "celebrated" it by working on the bathroom for most of the day. True confession time, I didn't want to go to my dad's at all, we had a really busy day on Saturday and I was tired. If it wasn't Father's Day and I didn't feel a bit guilty, I would have stayed home. Well confession time again, what really swayed me is that they were eating and we had no food in our house. I am really glad that I went because it was ended up being a really nice evening plus we got fed (always a bonus).
Another bonus is that I got a chance to not only see my niece but to have a mini photo shoot with her. The light was fabulous so I thought I would try to get a couple of pictures. When I took out my camera and asked if I could take some pictures, not only did she say yes but she started working the poses. I have written about some of my kid's friends that have futures as photographers, well evidently now I have found them a model. She really is such a cute kid with a king (or should we say, queen) sized personality. And it's funny too because it wasn't always that way. When she was a baby, she was a big crier. I think that it was because it was always too loud and boisterous and too everyone in her face for her so she would cry. A LOT. But as my dad said last night, once she hit 2 she stopped crying and I don't think that we've seen her cry even once since. Now she is just absolutely bubbling over with personality and the crying has been replaced with constant giggles and smiles. The so called terrible twos and threes have been terrific twos and threes for this kid. Plus she's got quite the modeling style. My brother got into the action for a couple of pics as well. His modeling style? Not so much.
We spent last night at the softball field and it really was the perfect way to spend the night. Weather wise, it was a fantastic night for a ballgame or two. It got a little bit chilly but unlike many nights this season, not a cloud or drop of rain to be seen. Both of my girls were playing for their respective league championships and both were terrific, tightly contested games. One game ended knotted at 10 and a forfeit (I will explain in a bit) and the other game was a one run affair.
I'll start with the one run game. My daughter's team lost their best pitcher to a broken nose (requiring surgery, no less) shortly before the end of the season. So for the playoffs, the team ended up having to rely on a girls that just started pitching this season or that hadn't pitched all season. All of the girls that ended up pitching deserve a lot of credit because pitching is not an easy job (I never wanted to pitch when I was younger), The game went back and forth with a lot of great hitting, fielding and a great play at the plate by the catcher to get an out for our team (it was my daughter and since I missed the play I thought I would give it a shout out). My daughter's team finally prevailed 10-9. I wish I had more details but my attention was split between the 2 games and they were both so compelling that it was hard to leave one to watch the other one. It's funny, you would think that having 2 games going on at once would double the enjoyment but really it halves it. As much as I tried, I kept missing things because I was at the other game, whichever other game that it was, it seemed like I was always at the wrong one. At least they were at the same complex so I only had to walk a short way.
The other game was a doozy (that word just popped into my head, do people even say doozy anymore?). My daughter's team was not too optimistic about their chances because the other team was undefeated and had already beaten our girls twice. Plus there was a potential conflict because of an 8th grade dance that was scheduled to start at 7:00 and with a 5:45 game start, it could well have an impact. My daughter's team had 4 8th graders that wanted to go while the other team had 2. If our girls left to attend, then they would have to forfeit. Well it ended up being an a nail biter. It went back and forth for the first 5 innings. The in the bottom of the 5th, the other team took the lead by one run. Then in the top of the 6th, our girls scored 3 runs to put them up by 2. Then in the bottom of the inning, the other team scraped together 2 runs to tie the game until our shortstop made a sensational catch to end the inning. At this point it was probably about 7:15, decision time. Play on or go to the dance? Our girls decided that there was no shame in forfeiting at this point. They could leave the field knowing that they had given it their all and they could still make it to the dance. The best of both worlds in a tough situation.
Here's some pictures from both games:
Just a quick post today because I am that b word that I hate to use. I hate using it because we all are and if I talk about how crazy I am, then I feel like I am not giving credit to everyone else that is also busy. Anyway, I have finally started a page for graduation, yay! So take a peek over there. Feel free to copy or save if you would like and if you have any trouble doing so, then please just let me know. I went through them very quickly (because you know that b word again) so if you don't see someone, please let me know a general area to look at and I will see if maybe I happen to have a picture of them (no guarantees, unfortunately). Also be sure to check out the Stoughton Patch, they have tons of great pictures over there, mostly courtesy of Justin Braga and Jeff Pickette.
It's so funny when you are thinking of doing something and then something happens one way or the other to help you make up your mind. I have been toying with writing about something that I read in the newest book by Michael Thompson. Michael Thompson is a noted child psychologist and author of several books about child development. In his latest book, he writes, " Watching manager-coach parents, it has always baffled me why they focus on such a narrow range of physical skills ('Why didn't you stick check him?') when the most important skills their children are going to need in the years to come, according to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (a national organization that advocates for the readiness of every student) are teamwork, collaboration, creativity, responsibility, self-direction and an ethical sense." First off, I think this applies to coaches whether they are parent coaches or not and second, if you read this blog on a somewhat regular basis, then you know that I am obsessed with sportsmanship and teamwork. Learning about the existence of this study gives me a small measure of satisfaction. Satisfaction because it is always nice to have your theories backed up by research, a Partnership, no less. Small because I think those skills are crucial whether a Partnership backs me up or not. Anyway back to the reason that I finally decided to write about it, I saw an example last night at my daughter's softball game that could have been used in the book.
A batter was up at bat and just about to swing when the third base coach yells, "No!" so she doesn't. Then he proceeds to yell to her that the pitcher is struggling so she should make sure that every pitch is absolutely perfect. First off, how about we let her make own decisions about what to swing at? This constant (CONSTANT) directing from everyone (coaches, parents, umpires, teammates) gives me a headache and on top of that, I think that it is counterproductive. People learn best by making mistakes. Coaches should coach the kids to the best of their ability, then we should all just let them play. If they make a mistake, so be it. You can point it out quietly when they get off the field, although chances are they know what they did wrong. Anyway, this particular coach was actually right, the pitcher was struggling and that's the move that makes the most "baseball (or softball)" sense. But this was a 10 year old girl on the mound and is winning really that important? That you need to tell your batter not to swing if she wants to? Shouldn't it be the batter's choice of what to swing at? Now as I said, it makes perfect baseball sense to work the walk and if the batter decides that on her own, then I wouldn't even have a blog today. But for an adult to loudly point it out and yell no to stop the kid from swinging? Maybe the kid gets the walk (she didn't, she got a hit), scores a run and your team wins the game (they didn't). But chances are that kid is not going to remember whether they won or lost but she will remember that an adult admonished her not to swing because the pitcher was struggling. Is that really the lesson that we want our kids to learn? I know what my answer is.