Pre-First Night Trip to Boston

One of the local events that is a huge draw in Boston is First Night, an elaborate New Year’s Eve celebration of the culture and community of the city. While many other cities and towns across the nation now hold First Night festivities, Boston is the original and standard bearer. It is really quite grand and kicks off well before midnight, starting around 9AM and carrying through to midnight fireworks.

One of the cooler features are the marvelous ice sculptures, no pun intended. They are enormous and beautifully ornate. Since heading downtown with 2 million other people really isn’t in the cards for us. So while I was busy completing some work, Keri and Ali packed up the kids and headed east to see if they could catch a glimpse of the sculptures the day before the official unveiling.

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The trip on the train was apparently quite fascinating for our little man, as revelaed by the intense studying visible in this photograph.

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Unfortunately, the trip proved to be less than fulfilling on the ice sculpture front. Since the weather has started to warm a bit, it would seem that preservation is of major importance. Also there was some work still to be done. Consequently, most of what they got to see was this.

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Ali sardonically referred to this part of the trip as “Gumdrop.” This is a kind of kidsafe code for an excrement expletive, as well as being a reference to one of our infamous exploits to exotic local sights. Sadly in the transitioning this site to a new platform, the images from the original post have been lost. I’ll have to look into digging some of those photos out again.

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Nevertheless, they all managed to still have some fun. Hadley got to walk around the city and covered a whole lot of ground. It proved to be quite a journey for both of the kiddos. They were pretty wiped out from it all.

Boxing Day Blizzard 2010

Alright, so we don’t exactly celebrate Boxing Day in the States, but we definitely experienced a blizzard on the day that it is observed. Temperatures plummeted, snow descended, and the wind howled beginning in the afternoon and continued for the better part of two days. It has been downright frigid.

Photo: Ready for Work Photo: I Can't Use My Thumbs

Still, we did need to get the kids outside to prevent them from getting anymore stir crazy. Plus, the post-Christmas pall might have taken grip if we hadn’t. We really couldn’t go anywhere, and it took considerable effort just to dig out the driveway with the drifts building. Those drifts proved a bit treacherous for the kiddos as one of the photos will attest. They could hardly remain standing.

Photo: Having a Hard Time Staying Upright

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After Christmas and Monthly Pics

While Christmas has come and gone already, it has not passed without being documented. The kids were spectacular through everything, all the challenges and anticipation. Hadley was delighted with her gifts, as well as Fritz’s. Likewise, he too was delighted with his gifts and hers. They have even been playing quite nicely together with those gifts of dual ownership, despite the concept being a little lost on the two of them.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

One of Hadley’s favorite items was a digital camera all her own. So undoubtedly, at some point in the near future, some of her work will be featured. She is currently working on holding it steady, ling enough to actually capture an image that resembles what she was aiming to get. Still, she is thrilled to be snapping away with abandon.

Apart from that, stay tuned for some images of the Boxing Day Blizzard that is rocking the East Coast. Sadly, the real snow didn’t really begin falling until the evening. So tomorrow’s digging out should provide some pics.

Merry Christmas Eve 2010

It’s hard to believe that the first decade of the New Millennium is coming to a close. Yet the Yuletide is upon us and the Holidays are here.

Photo: Kids Sending Santa Letter

Kids Sending Their Letters to Santa

We got snow in New England this week,  as if the preparations wouldn’t have been complete without it, just enough for light grass covering blanket. Nevertheless, it should make for some nice photo opportunities on Christmas Day.

Letters to Santa have been sent and the kiddos are anxiously awaiting to see what will be under the tree. Packages from family afar have begun to arrive and I am guessing the little ones will be more than happy with the small haul they will likely receive. The best part, however, is that Hadley is taking great joy in actually giving gifts this year, although she is rather terrible at keeping them secret. She has already proven to be quite the spoiler.

Still, here’s hoping that everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day.

A North Shore Christmas Treat

Last weekend, we headed up north to Gloucester, on Massachusetts’ beautiful Cape Ann, for a special seaside treat. Just in side the harbor of America’s oldest seaport, a thirty foot lobster trap Christmas tree was erected and we were there for the lighting. It’s a tradition that Gloucester has been doing for the last dozen years or so, but this was the first time that we made it up there for the event or to see the tree.

With traps stacked high and laced with Christmas lights and ornamented with painted buoys it is a cool site to see. The buoys are courtesy of local children who paint them at Cape Ann Art Haven, a nonprofit community art space located across the street from the tree’s location. It is a great tribute to the oldest fishing community in America and the surprisingly rich artistic tradition of the city.

It was a bit of a chilly night but definitely worth the trip. Hadley got to play with some ice blocks in front of the Art Haven and was a bit fascinated.

As the lighting grew closer,  an impressive number of people lined up around the courtyard and across the street from the tree. The event was definitely being recorded. Apparently, the Learning Channel was the documenters for this year’s festivities.

Reflecting at Year’s End

With the holidays fast arriving, I have been thinking back on this past year with some amazement. Ali’s Christmas letter always runs down the best hits and reading it before she began sending out cards spurred the thinking.

I suppose it is sign of age, but it does seem like this year went faster than normal. Of course the calendar year does run at odds with the academic year which might also have something to do with it. Being a teacher, the beginning of school through Christmas often seems a bit of a blur. Also, this was a World Cup year, which, for me, has always seemed to make the end of the school year longer than it should be with three first-round matches a day during school’s final weeks and then the summer shorter as the matches run into early July. Regardless, time does seem to be speeding up on me or it could just be that my son is now speeding up on me, making everything else seem to be moving faster. I also keep noticing a lot more gray hair when I get a haircut. That might be contributing too.

I have definitely seemed to travel more this year than normal. With various Writing Project activities, I have been all over Massachusetts and Connecticut. I spent some time up the Hudson from New York City, as well as a recent trip to Orlando. Apart from that, we all took a trip back home to Chicago so Ali and I could attend our twentieth high school reunion. I suppose it is at this point where anyone starts to feel a little bit older. As the impending reunion came more into sight a few years ago, I did have to force myself to simply stop thinking that I wasn’t in high school that long ago, let alone saying something like that to my students. I mean, how ridiculous would that have sounded. I had been out of high school longer than any of them had even been alive!

I realized that I hadn’t really mentioned a lot about this year finally seeing my first piece actually published in a real book that anyone could buy in a store or online. It is a funny thing seeing your writing printed in what most people see as legitimate publication. There is a definite sense of accomplishment. I didn’t mention it as much once the book was finally available, probably because it seemed like it took an eternity. Still, it was cool to receive a small check for writing and a couple of free copies of the text this fall. I even had an acquaintance discover the book and my piece all on their own. It was a truly pleasant surprise when he congratulated me out of the blue and had a copy of the book with him. It was the first time I had seen the actual thing.

Overall, getting something published like that was a great feeling I only wish that they would have got the spelling of my last name right. Seeing my my last name misspelled has become a pretty commonplace experience in my life. Apart from the sound not readily giving the spelling away, I am convinced that the proximity of the “A” and “S” keys on a keyboard further increase the chance of error. Still seeing it misspelled in print gave the goof a kind of permanence that is a bit disheartening. I guess I will just have to write enough more material to make sure that no one is confused about who I am or how you spell my name.

Photo: Kids with Santa

The Santa Scare

Apart from all that, Christmas is just around the corner. It is really time to put up the tree, since we’ve been running a little late on that, and the house will soon smell like cookies, lots of cookies. That smell alone makes me happy, and I am fairly certain the kids are rather fond of it too. This year marked the first real chance for the two of them to get their picture with Santa, always a dangerous proposition with the the young ones. For Fritz terror clearly is now officially part of the Christmas experience. Amazing to me is that my bashful daughter is in the picture at all, since as she puts it, “I am not always talkable to mans and ladies.” Nevertheless, it will prove to be a vintage shot.

So here’s hoping for  Happy Holidays to all.