Castle Island

Can you believe that in all my years as a Bostonian, I had only been to Castle Island once until recently (and that once was a drunken episode in the wee hours of the morning with my future husband, so it doesn’t really count).  One of Jax and Em’s little buddies had a birthday party here in early September, and now I have a  new favorite place to take the kids when we’re in the city.

Because my friend Courtney, the hostess, is brilliant, there were games for adults and kids–which soon became games for just the kids. Nothing says summer fun like ladder ball, not matter what your age.

Jax is training for the Olympic Ladder Ball Team.  I think he’s going to be pretty popular in college.

Miss Em liked it, too, but she also just liked walking around and looking pretty.

She even indulged me in a five-minute photo shoot by the water, with Skittles as a bribe.

The wind off the water was “wicked strong,” as we say in Beantown.  There was actually a hurricane warning, but that doesn’t stop us New Englanders from having a good time.  Weather does not intimidate us.

Look at Em staring down the waves, as if daring them to splash her.  She is one tough cookie.

Some of our friends even joined in the photographic fun!

Yes, now we’ve moved on to Nerds.  Our dentist is going to love me.

And no party is complete without random street performer blowing an unbelievable amount of bubbles.  Really, we couldn’t have orchestrated that better.

The perfect way to say farewell to summer.  Next year I won’t wait so long before making a trip to Castle Island with great friends!  A day to remember!

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The Colors of Patriotism

I bet you thought in light of the recent holiday, that this would be a patriotic post about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  True, I value those idea very highly and consider the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Patriots’s Day to be important days of reflection and gratitude.  But I can’t say this post is about any of those significant ideals.  Today I’m talking about a different kind of patriot: The New England Patriots, actually.

I hate to beat a dead horse about how we love our sports over here in New England and I already did sing the praises of the city of Boston.  So I won’t go into detail about how we met up with old friends at Patriots Place, the plaza that surrounds Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play.  I also won’t talk about the current NFL lockout because then I may not be able to contain my emotions about not having professional football this year (and no, don’t tell me to watch college football–it just isn’t the same).  My parents had season tickets to the Pats and we grew up with football just as much as baseball.  When our friends from San Diego, Kim and Eric, met us there with their one-year-old son Wyatt, it was just icing on the cake of a fantastic weekend in Civilization.  So maybe I said a quick prayer to the football gods that I will be mocking Tom Brady’s mullet come September, so what?  Remember, winter in Vermont comes early and mercilessly; I need all the sports I can get!

The real reason I wanted to include this post is because I just really like these photos and thought they were worth sharing!  It was almost exactly noon on a very hot and bright day.  The kind of day where you shuttle from shady spot to shady spot and feel like you’re squinting even behind your sunglasses.  Yes, there were clouds, but they were more for decoration than protection from the glare.  With that kind of lighting, I’m surprised I got any good shots at all!  So here they are, football fans!

Ready, set, hike!

I’m kind of obsessed with how you can see the sky reflected in the windows of the building behind them.  Don’t ask me how I did it; could probably never do it again, but I love it.  It’s the little things in photography, to me.

I wonder if Bob Kraft or any of the other higher-ups in the Patriots organization’s wives read my blog.  If you do, ladies, can you help me out here?  Two young kids, winter will be here before we know it, and I simply cannot be snowed in without my football!  Can you put a little bug in those important ears of theirs, please?  We’re trying to breed a new generation of Patriots fans here, and the only way that is going to happen is if they actually play!  You don’t want them to play hockey, do you?

Big Patriots Fan

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A Sense of Place

I alluded to last weekend’s trip to Boston and its significance to our family, but I certainly didn’t do our trip justice with just two pictures.  Have you met me?  Do you think I ever take two pictures of anything?  Case closed.  We have a lot to discuss.

JDubbs is a proud alumni of Northeastern University and one of the benefits of having that claim to fame is that they host a family day at Fenway Park once a year on a non-game day.  Basically, they set up a carnival throughout the park: think music, monkeys, men on stilts, games, cotton candy, photo ops and a chance to explore the park and you’ll have an idea of what a fabulous day it was.  Or so I hear, since Em and I had some girl time while JDubbs and Jax did their guy thing.

We left Vermont and drove straight to the park, where we dropped the boys off and they met up with JDubbs’s brother and our nephew Tommy.  I imagine that taking their boys to Fenway together is something that Tom and JDubbs had been fantasizing about since they started thinking about having kids.  Two boys, less than 10 months apart.  I have written about how lucky we are to be so close to them and have the boys be so close in age, but as they grow and do things together (and don’t worry, Em will be there next year right alongside them!), we just can’t get over how blessed we are.  There’s just nothing like good cousins.

So, back to Boston.  JDubbs obviously isn’t me, and thus he wasn’t going to lug around a camera at the park all day, so he utilized his camera phone as well as he could.  Here are some shots of the day, courtesy of JDubbs and his phone:

 I had to laugh when I saw that the only photo he got of Jax and Tommy was this:

What is it about little kids and drains?  Doesn’t matter that they’re at the world’s coolest ballpark; a drain is far more fascinating.  I was hoping for a more memorable photo of the two boys, but with men in charge, that’s what I get.  You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Here are the two best photos of my boys from this memorable day:

Sitting on the Green Monster.  What the heck kind of face is that, Jax?

When I asked him about the Green Monster later that day, his reply was “I poop on it!”  Maybe that answers that question.

And a photo op with the glorious 2004 and 2007 World Series trophies.

Apparently when my brother-in-law and nephew were posing for this same photo, Tommy reached out and grabbed one of the trophies!  Security appeared out of nowhere and took care of it immediately, but if you are wondering if you’re allowed to touch the trophies, the answer is apparently no.

 So that’s all I got for boy time at Fenway.  They cut out a little early and took the kids to Jillian’s (so appropriate) for food and to watch bowling.  I haven’t been to Jillian’s since I’ve actually been old enough to get in there, so I can only imagine the fact that they had their babies in a bar.  “You have a baby…in a bar!”

 Em and I, meanwhile, were living it up the way only girls can when they have an afternoon to kill in Boston.  Lunch and shopping on Newbury Street with lifelong girlfriends.  I get all smiley just thinking about it.

‘Sup, Boston.

 Em is already a city girl.  She loved the people-watching, the food, the shops.  She was a rock star in Lucky where I tried on a zillion pairs of jeans and finally bought a pair that actually fit me and don’t look like playground/arts and crafts sweatpants made of denim.  The girl working there even said that Em could destroy the store for all she cared because she was so darn sweet.  I guess playing peekaboo in and out of a dressing room is enough to melt the most urban of hearts.

Then my girlfriend Diana and I strolled the length of Newbury Street and wandered through the Public Garden.

You may be familiar with said garden from Make Way For Ducklings, but if you haven’t been there in the summertime, put it on your bucket list.  It is heaven draped with willow trees and punctuated with stunning flowers.  Speaking of that book, I really can’t believe I didn’t take her over to the duck statues, but it’s just another excuse to go back there this year and take her on the swan  boats.

Thank you, Diana, for coming with us and for taking these photos of me and my baby girl!

For a girl who was woefully late for her afternoon nap, she was quite cheerful and very eager to explore the area around the pond and to see the ducks.  Duck is probably one of her favorite words. 

It was delightful.  I even had those moments in my head about how much fun taking her shopping in Boston will be when she’s in high school.  But then I took this photo of her:

and I feel like I can see sixteen-year-old Em in that face and stance.  I mean, she’s gorgeous, right?  She’s got her front knee bent and everything, just like she’s striking a pose.  Sigh…we’re in trouble fifteen years from now!

For such a quick visit to the city, I felt like we took advantage of every second.  I get all kinds of antsy when we’re in the car heading south on 93 and can barely wait to see the skyline.  Every time we’re within view of the TD Garden or cross over the Charles River, I get so excited and I always turn to JDubbs and say, “Don’t you just love coming back here?” and he always replies, “You say that every time.”

I guess I’m still part city mouse, living in the country until life brings me back the city’s way.  For me, Boston is a part of me that I don’t realize how much I miss until I’m back, when I can just exhale and remember how life can be.  How my life used to be and sometimes feels like still should be, although that’s not in the cards right now.  Until then I’ll just keep brainwashing my kids and enticing them with enchanting afternoons in the big city, and hope that one day we can go and just jump on the T to get home.

Here’s to hoping!

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Happiness Is… {brainwashing}

You may not know this but I was born and raised just outside of the great city of Boston.  My accent is nonexistent and I haven’t lived there in thirteen years, but like the song says, “Boston, you’re my home.”  And one thing that flows deep in the veins of all Bostonians is a fanatical and obsessive love for Boston sports.

Now I am no bandwagon, cute pink Tom Brady jersey wearing, incapable of telling a free throw from a field goal kind of girl.  I listen to ESPN radio all day in the car.  I watch Mike & Mike in the morning on ESPN 2 (when my kids allow it).  One of the greatest compliments a guy ever paid me was when we were discussing the Patriots and I was lamenting their red zone defense.  He stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Did you just say ‘red zone defense?’  I was like, “Yeah…?”  His response:  “That’s so hot.”  I smiled.

I know more about sports than most girls I know combined, and that’s not me bragging.  That’s just the way it is when you grow up in Boston.  The Sox are the lifeline of the city; the Pats are our bread and butter; the Celtics are getting old (sorry, C’s); and I will fully admit I don’t care much for hockey but I’m happy for the Bruins all the same.  I cannot stress enough to you how important sports are to my family, JDubbs’s family, and our little family of four.  That’s why we start the brainwashing early in New England.  Priorities.

Growing up, the voice of Joe Castiglione (Red Sox radio broadcaster) was the like the soundtrack to my youth.  It was always there, murmering in the background, raising to a crescendo during the happy years and depressing to a monotone during those not-so-good ones.  My parents took me and my two sisters (no boys in my house, but my dad didn’t discriminate) to Red Sox Spring Training in Fort Meyers, Florida.  Never made it to Disney World, but we made it to Spring Training.  Again, priorities.

JDubbs and I had one day between our wedding day and the day our flight left for our Venice.  We couldn’t have planned it better.  You know why?  Because it gave us the chance to start off our honeymoon on the perfect note: at Fenway Park.

Me and JDubbs, married approximately 27 hours.  4 rows behind the dugout.

So in this house, we have priorities, and they revolve around the city of Boston and the teams that make us shed tears of joy and weep from frustration.  Nothing comes between us and our sports, including our kids, so to keep conflict to a minimum (i.e. No, I can’t come to your ballet recital; it’s Game 6 of the World Series and Lester is pitching), best to initiate them into the mayhem early.  So they’ll be onboard and as crazy as the rest of us.

Happiness this week was taking our kids to not one, but two hallowed sports grounds: sacred Fenway Park and the ultrafabulous Gillette Stadium.  Yeah, we did both in two days.  Go big or go home.


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The Children’s Museum

Last week we were able to jaunt into Boston for some civilization and fun.  Jax loved being in the city and now, whenever he sees a tunnel (in a book or on TV–did you think there were tunnels in Vermont?), he says, “like in the city!”  It seemed like there were sirens and construction vehicles to be found on every street corner, and Jax was incredibly impressed.
Em was less so.  Mostly because it was absolutely wintery out.  Brrr.
But she definitely saw the bright side once we were inside The Children’s Museum.
Plus the added bonus that my dear friend Caroline met up with us and was the extra pair of hands I would have desperately needed without her.  She’s so good like that.  Plus my kids love her!
The Boston Children’s Museum is an absolute jewel in the heart of the big city.  A childhood paradise with so much for a little boy to see and do and learn.  It was an exciting day for little kids from the country.  Where else could they do things like this?

Okay so I pushed my luck a bit and Jax had a monster meltdown in Au Bon Pain, but luckily Caroline was there to lend a hand and that the other customers were all parents with toddler monsters, too.  No judging.  Or, at least, not much.
It was such a fantastic opportunity to show Jax a bit more of the world, catch up with an old friend, and take Em to Boston for the first time.  Even though we missed Daddy, I think we took advantage of our time in Massachusetts as best we could!
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Boston, You’re My Home

There is nothing like a sunny day in Boston! For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of spending an afternoon wandering the brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill or strolling the Public Garden, put it on your Bucket List.Jax had his first of what we hope will be many fabulous days in Boston, with me, Daddy, his Grammy, Auntie Jessie, and cousin Erika. The first thing we did was head to the tribute to the great children’s classic story, Make Way for Ducklings, which of course takes place in Boston. Jaxsat on both the mommy and baby ducks, and I felt that although he was created in Cali, born in New Hampshire, and lives in Vermont, he is going to be a Bostonian at heart.Now for the second Boston childhood rite of passage: his first ride on the swan boats.

Riding the swan boats, for you poor souls who have not had the pleasure, is a tradition over 130 years old and takes place in the Boston Public Garden, the first botanical garden in the United States. You pay to sit on those benches and then a person paddles you around (they sit in the swan). Aren’t you just itching to go there now? In other words, it’s classic New England, good wholesome fun, and a very inexpensive way to spend a morning. Jax enjoyed the sun and the ducks, although he did spend most of the time trying to rip his hat off.

To me, riding the Swan Boats is right up there with going to Fenway as the perfect Boston experience: both magical in their own way. JDubbs is probably shaking his head as he reads this, but he wasn’t born in Massachusetts so he doesn’t know.  They’re different kinds of fun. I went there for a field trip in kindergarten and have loved them ever since.
After we explored the Garden and the Boston Common, we walked over to Faneuil Hall and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Then we explored Quincy Market, did a little shopping, and walked back to the car. Good fun, good company, good exercise, and a great city. What more could we ask for?

Oh, right. Jax fell asleep in his stroller and took a nap. Perfect!
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Red Sox Nation Inductee

Well here it is! The day we have all been waiting for…Opening Day and Jax’s first experience as a Boston Red Sox fan!

He was born during the World Series, but damn those TB Rays–labor would have passed much more quickly if I could have been rooting for the Sox! So instead we had to wait for Opening Day–a day late thanks to glorious April showers–but a wonderful day, nonetheless.

First, he had to represent in all his Red Sox finest…
Then we recorded the game and watched it when Daddy got home. He held J and explained the details to him as the game progressed, but Jax only lasted one inning! We’ll let it slide this time because it was time for some baby peas, a bath, and off to bed. Well, there are 161 more games to enjoy so he’ll have plenty of time to become a devoted member of Red Sox Nation just like the rest of his family!
He’ll be cursing the Yankees before we know it.
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