Posts Tagged ‘Family and Friends’

2013 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

My 2013 list is a typical hodge-podge of activity.  Some of the events have links to when I wrote about them at the time.  Others I wrote a little bit more about in this post.

20 January – A Winter Day Out in Providence  - My wife left for a business trip, and I took the kids out for a successful outing to Rhode Island which included playing at the Providence Children’s Museum, a Providence Bruins‘ game (complete with thunderstix), & Harry’s Bar & Burger for dinner and ice cream sandwiches.

8-11 February – Blizzard of ’13 - also known as Winter Storm Nemo, dumped 25 inches of snow on our hometown making much delight for the children and cooperative snow removal ventures with the neighbors.  The photo below is from our outing to Centre Street in Jamaica Plain to pick up beer & cheese.

28 February – Beck Song Reader Concert - I was part of a 50-voice choir bringing Beck’s songs of sheet music to life.  You can see me singing out from the back row in the photo below. 

Spring & Summer – Peter learns to bike - My son learned to ride a pedal bike.  Now we need to work on braking.

15 April – Boston Marathon bombing – My kids and I were at a playground far from the Marathon route when it happened, and even if we’d gone to watch we’d have been far from the finish line, but it was still shocking to hear of the deaths and injuries.  Especially considering that Patriots Day is a civic holiday that is perhaps the day on the calendar when Boston is at its most joyous, communal, and supportive.  That spirit shined through with the many people – professionals and amateurs – who rushed in to help the wounded.  I was touched by the outpouring of support for Boston, and if anything good has come out of this it is that they typically self-deprecating Bostonians are far more positive and  confident these days.  A few days later, we had the weird shelter-in-place alert, but still spirits were kept up as we shared news and jokes through social media.  Not something I’d want to live through again, but I’m grateful for all the people who chose to help and that the casualties were not as bad as they could’ve been.

language matters


27 April – Regan Youth League Baseball Parade and Teeball - My baseball-obsessed son started playing teeball and we marched through the streets of Jamaica Plain, even stopping to sing.

May & October – Kindergarten Arboretum Field Trips - I stepped into a new role in fatherhood as I served as a chaperon on two school outings to Arnold Arboretum.  I particularly like the spring trip when the kids got to see a snapping turtle up close and personal. 

May to Present – Hope Central Church - We were in search of a new church closer to home and found a new spiritual home at Hope Central.

2 June – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon - This time my daughter was my co-pilot on this great fundraising ride through the city.

12 June –  US Open Cup game - Professional men’s soccer comes to Boston for one night only and it was great.

16 June – Father’s Day Outing to Wachusett Meadow - Two years in a row makes it a tradition, no?

28-30 June – Family Gathering in New Jersey – Susan’s family gathered in New Jersey to celebrate her Aunt Thelma and cousin Glen.  Peter enjoyed playing sports and video games with his many boy cousins.

14 July – Circle the City on the Avenue of the Arts - Huntington Avenue became a pedestrian haven for just one day.  I lead a walking tour.   Peter played lots of soccer.

12 August – Georges Island – Vintage Baseball - On a beautiful summer day, we sailed to the Harbor Islands and traveled back in time to the dead ball era.

20-25 August – Family Camp at Purity Springs - We spent a week at the Purity Springs Family Camp in New Hampshire with some of the friendliest people ever, our days packed with activities like lake swimming (and jumping), archery, paddle boarding, pooh sticks, canoeing, knee boarding, s’mores making, cookouts, and hiking.

2-8 September – New York City trip - Another great trip to the City with Peter and his Nana.

14 October – Tufts Health Plan 10K - Our friend Sharon coaxed Susan into participating in this run.  I enjoyed watching with the other spouses and children.  And Susan did great finishing all 10 of the Ks.  We are all so proud of her.

30 October – Red Sox Win the World Series - A great season, especially when viewed through the eyes of a five-year-old.

10 November – Claire & John’s wedding - Our dear friend Claire, godmother to our children, married a charming gent and we had a blast.  The kids played their part in the wedding ceremony and then at the reception we played, and hugged, and danced, and toasted the newlyweds.

“Cheers!”

25-31 December – Christmas Travel We’ve just returned from our annual holiday swing through North Carolina and Virginia.  This year was extra special as the kids got to see all of their grandparents, all of their aunts and uncles, and most importantly, play with all of their cousins.

Goodbye 2013, you will be missed.  Hello 2014, can’t wait to see what you have to offer.

Previously:

2012 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

  • Sing Positive, JP – a year long highlight as my son Peter & I sang and formed community with other JP residents of all ages.  We performed concerts in May (part 1, 2, & 3) and December with special appearances at Wake Up the Earth and the Lantern Parade.
  • Discovery Museums – my mother visited in February and we took Peter to the Discovery Museums in Acton where Peter explored the small but creatively-designed rooms of the childrens museum and woodworking in the workshop at the science museum.  We returned to this new favorite place several more times over the course of the year.
  • Breaking the ice on Jamaica Pond –  After brunch at The Haven, Peter and friend Jordan strolled around the pond on a chilly day and cracked ice and chucked rocks.
  • Wilson Mountain hike – We got an explored nature with a spring hike to the top of Dedham’s Wilson Mountain which included “rocky fun time” clambering up the boulders along the trail.
  • Red Sox games – This wasn’t a great season for the Old Town Team, but Peter & I enjoyed a four-game Sox Pax where we sat in the bleachers for a (a very hot) Patriots Day, Memorial Day, a Wednesday in June, and a Monday in August.  The Sox won three of the games and Peter got to run the bases with the other kids at the final game.
  • Mets game -  My other favorite team also played poorly this season but I did make it to join friends for the Banner Day game,  one of the 20 wins for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and wept after Johan Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1st.
  • Kay’s Baptism – Family descended on Boston in late April for our baby girl’s baptism including all the grandparents and her namesake Aunt Kay.
  • Fathers Day at Wachusset Meadows - I was a very lucky Dad who got to snuggle with his kids, have a delicious lunch, walk through the beautiful Wachusset Meadows, and then stop at a roadside ice cream parlor.
  • Tall ships in Boston - Another exciting outing with the kids, visiting tall ships at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • Day Trip to Lowell – We made a mid-July outing to historic Lowell taking a journey by boat along the canals and river and then catching a Lowell Spinners baseball game.
  • Summer Olympics in London – I was really inspired by the crazy but beautiful opening ceremonies and enjoyed watching various events with Peter on my computer who then went on to reenact the games with his preschool classmates.
  • Summer Arts Weekend and Esplanade Playspace – Peter, Kay & I enjoyed a performance by Dan Zanes & Friends, watched some Irish step dancers, and then played on the new playground along the Charles River.
  • Circle the City - The Greenway and several streets in Downtown Boston were closed to auto traffic so we enjoyed strolling, biking, playing and dancing in the street.  They should really do this every Sunday.
  • Farewell to Child Care – Peter said goodbye to his friends and teachers at Soldiers Field Park Child Care at a bittersweet goodbye circle.  It was time for him to move on, but sad for all of us to leave many good people behind.
  • South End Tour of the Month - I served as one of the guides for another magnificent Boston By Foot neighborhood tour that attracted 125 people on a Sunday in late August.
  • Canobie Lake and White Mountains - We enjoyed a great family vacation to New Hampshire featuring a visit to a charming amusement park, climbing up the Flume Gorge, visiting the longest candy counter in Littleton, and soaring up Cannon Mountain on the aerial tram.
  • Kindergarten – Peter started attending K1 at our local Boston Public elementary school and instantly having a great time making friends and learning new things.  As a family we’ve enjoyed playdates and picnics and making the school part of our everyday life.
  • Weekend in Washington - Peter & I flew to our nation’s capital for the Columbus Day weekend staying with our friends the Rossos and visiting museums and the National Zoo.
  • Hurricane Sandy – We were fortunate that in Boston, the hurricane just meant staying cooped inside for a day with only downed sticks and leaves (and a billboard near Forest Hills station) knocked over, but this storm hit close to home with the extensive damage to New York City (where my family is from and many friends and family still live) as well as New Jersey and Connecticut (two states where I used to live).
  • Peter’s Birthday Party – Peter turned 5 with a cast of thousands joining him at the YMCA for games, a moonbounce, and baseball-shaped cupcakes.

Previously:

2011 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

The most memorable event this year by far is the birth of my baby girl and second child Kay on November 19th.  Everything else pales in comparison.  Here’s a photo of Kay with my son Peter.  The rest of the list follows in chronological order.

  • Snow -We had an interesting winter with several heavy snowstorms in a short period of time.  I even got to go up on the roof of our house to shovel some off.  The snow was fun, especially seeing it through the eyes of a three year old, but it got very tiresome when it wouldn’t melt away.
  • Salem – a fun day trip North of Boston by train featuring the Peabody Essex Museum and candy!
  • Boston Breakers Game / Red Sox Game – I took Peter to a Breakers’ soccer game and was surprised that he was actively engaged in the game.  So by his request I took him to Fenway for his first Sox game as well.  Looking forward to more sporting events in 2012.
  • JP Children’s Soccer – Peter started playing children’s soccer in the Spring.  It looked like so much fun that I pushed my personal comfort boundaries and signed up to coach in the Fall.   I was surprisingly successful coaching 3-4 year olds to at the very least get some experience with the ball at their feet.  Of course, the players’ favorite game was Chase the Coach.
  • Drawing Class – I took a drawing class at the Eliot School in JP, hoping to learn perspective and found I could draw a pretty good tea pot.
  • Wake Up the Earth - One of JP’s great annual events.  Peter & I dropped by to watch the parade after soccer practice and ended up participating in the procession by bike.
  • Bike Rides – Peter & I participated in three organized biking events: JP Spring Roll, Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon, & Hub On Wheels. All were fun, but the BNB event was the most memorable for taking us through parts of Boston I’d never seen and for the vibrant post-ride festival.
  • New York in June – Peter & I spent 72 hours together in the city that never sleeps visiting the Central Park Zoo, the Staten Island Ferry, Citi Field for a Mets game, the Intrepid Museum, the High Line, and lots of playgrounds.
  • Visit to Harvard Depository – kind of geeky, but I enjoyed a special tour of Harvard Library’s offsite book and records storage warehouse and wanted to take home a Raymond order picker of my very own.
  • Wicwas Lake Lodge – Our magnanimous friend Craig invited us to spend a long weekend at a lake house in New Hampshire with another family.  There was much running and giggling and splashing in the lake.  The kids had fun too.
  • Visit from a friend – Our friend Sara and her family passed throw town and spent the night on a sultry evening.  Peter and her daughter broke the ice with stomp rockets and then jumped on the bed together.  It was a good sign that Peter was ready for a sibling.
  • Two Parties in One Day – In the morning we went to a third birthday party featuring a performance by Wayne Potash.  In the afternoon, our downstairs neighbors hosted a bbq in our backyard.  Nice to have a party so close and not have to set up.
  • Davis Square Tours – This walking tour had to contend first with Hurricane Irene and then with the street bands of HONK! Fest, but it turned to be one of the best tours I’ve ever lead in an exciting neighborhood.  This Boston By Foot will return on July 29, 2012.
  • Trapp Family Lodge – The hills were alive with the sounds of Peter as Susan’s parents treated us to a long weekend at this rustic mountain retreat in Vermont.
  • Old Sturbridge Village – Peter kept asking about life in the “olden days” so I did what any history geek would do: I took him to a living history museum.  And he loved it.
  • Occupy Movement – This is an odd choice as I never spent a night in a camp but was inspired by the people who did and tried to share the best articles, stories, and opinions on my Delicious, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds.  More thoughts on Occupy here
  • High School Reunion – In 1991 I graduated from a small Catholic high school in Connecticut, the last class to graduate before the school closed.  20 years later we got back together with spouses and children for a play date, a dinner, and a tour of the old school (now an elementary school).  It turned out better than I imagined, and I had positive thoughts going in.
  • Promotion to Processing Archivist – In November, I started a new position at my library adding archival processing responsibilities to some of my earlier duties and moving from assistant to professional.  Oddly, this is the type of job I thought I’d like when I started library school, but I took an interesting, circuitous route to get there.
  • Holiday Week – The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is always eventful and we took advantage of visiting the Museum of Science, Boston Common, The Children’s Museum, The New England Aquarium, The Christmas Revels, The Larz Anderson Auto Museum and Park, and Edaville USA.

Previously:

Lilac Sunday

Jamaica Plain continued welcoming in the spring with Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum.  We took some time to pedal our bikes and sniff the petals.  Here are a few photos.

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Arnold Arboretum’s Lilac Sunday

I hesistate to put “Lilac Sunday” into the title of this post since I didn’t see any lilacs on my visit.  Susan, Peter & I took a lovely Mother’s Day walk on a sunny, blustery day and arrived at Arnold Arboretum fairly early in the morning.  This is a good time to get there on Lilac Sunday before approximately 3.25 kajillion people descend on the Arbortetum.  Peter received a lovely tatoo of the Earth with flowers and a recycling logo and immediately set to work on removing it with his teeth.

Next we joined Arnold Arboretum curator Michael Dosmann lead an excellent tour to the lilacs (“just to the lilacs, not of the lilacs” he specified).  We learned fascinating things about maples, lindens and tulip trees.  After the tour I chose to luxuriate in the grass while Susan chased Peter up and down the hill to the lilacs.  So my family saw the lilacs on Lilac Sunday while I lay splayed in the grass photographing buttercups.

I will have to return on a less-crowded day this week to visit the lilacs.  Until then, here are my photos from Sunday, 100% lilac-free.

Previously: Lilac Sunday, YEAH!

Greeting Cards for Sisters

Every year around this time, I come upon the same problem. Any greeting cards for sale in the “Birthday — Sister” category are entirely from the perspective of a card to a sister from a sister. Usually the card will have an archival photo of two girls in dresses or a pencil-sketch of two fashionably-dressed women. If lacking such illustration, the card will still have text saying things like “Sis, when were growing up we shared clothing and boyfriends…” Granted, it’s entirely possible that a boy may share clothing and boyfriends with his sister, but there are a lot of variables there that make it unlikely.

Now I know for a fact that I’m not the only man who has a female sibling. I suspect I’m not the only man who would like to send a birthday card to his sister. So I really don’t understand the whole sister-to-sister thing. I’ve never checked but do the cards for brothers only come from brothers? “Bro, when we grew up we caught frogs and belched…”

It’s not that big deal of course. There are plenty non-relative cards available to chose from. I also could be a really good brother and make a customized card by hand, but that would take time and planning.

PS – Since my sister is probably reading this: Hey B, if you haven’t received it yet, your card is in the mail. It’s quite surreal even though it doesn’t mention sharing clothing and boyfriends.

Lilac Sunday, YEAH!

First, an explanation of the title. Lilac Sunday is an annual event at Arnold Arboretum celebrated this year for the 100th time. 8 years ago Susan and I were walking through Central Square in Cambridge talking about going to Lilac Sunday and maybe sending lilacs to our mothers for Mothers Day. At this point, the man walking in front of us turned around, looked right in my face and said “YEAH!” He then turned around and resumed his stride as if nothing happened. To this day I don’t know if he liked the idea or if lilacs didn’t agree with him. Regardless, neither of us can talk about Lilac Sunday without interjecting a random “YEAH!” here or there.

After 8 years of being typical Somervilleans who avoided long trips across the river, we could not avoid Lilac Sunday since the Arboretum is next door to our current residence. The first thing we noticed about Lilac Sunday is that it attracts a lot of people, especially babies, and dogs. I’ve grown accustomed to the solitude of walking Peter through the Arboretum on weekday mornings so the crowds were a bit overwhelming. Still it was a nice day to inspect the lilacs, sniff their aromas, and relax in the grass.

Peter checks out the lilacs.

Lilacs up close.

Another type of lilac. What do you want, I’m a librarian not a botanist!

This is not a lilac. It’s called Orange Quince, but we did not have runcible spoons.

This also is not a lilac, but it sure is pretty to see blossoms against the blue sky again.

People, people everywhere. And trees, yes there are lots of trees in the Arboretum.

Adam at Universal Hub posts links to other bloggers’ commentary on Lilac Sunday.

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