Friday, June 12, 2009

A 50th Anniversary Celebration

May 30, 2009 is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We were going to throw them a big party at a restaurant and invite family and friends.

Well, ever since my Dad died a little over a year ago, my Mom has sort of been dreading the day. And I've been unsure what to do to recognize the day and make it nice.

We knew we didn't want my Mom to be alone, so we devised a plan and proposed it to her. We thought it would take some convincing but she jumped at it. We went up to MA, spent a few days doing some fun things, and brought my Mom back with us to PA.

We arranged a day of fun. My Dad would want her to enjoy herself. So we spent the entire day having fun doing various activities with lots of friends.

We planned several things, invited everyone to everything or however much of it they wanted to attend, and people chose what worked for them and came and had fun!

We had 25 people get together in one form or another from 11:30 to 9:30 and my Mom really had a great day. She kept talking about how much she really enjoyed it and appreciated everyone coming out.

And we do, too. We don't have any extended family around here, so we count our friends as our extended family here and that's how it felt that day--like loving family members helping to make it special. I'm really, really grateful.

First we met together at our house. Pat and Judy brought a really beautiful bouquet of flowers. It has really brightened our kitchen these past weeks! Peggy brought a sweet card and a jar of delicious jam.

My Mom felt up to it (I wouldn't have done it otherwise), so we all watched a brief DVD of my Mom and Dad telling stories of the old country that Mark put together years ago. It was really neat and bittersweet to watch.

Then we presented my Mom with her gift. We had a really nice hardback picture book made called "A celebration of 50 Years" with their wedding picture on the cover. The book is full of mostly pictures and some words celebrating their marriage through the years.

My Mom loved it and cried when she saw it. In fact, everyone cried a little bit. The company from which we bought it actually sent us 2 and let us keep them so we all shared looking through them and telling stories.

Then our crew went to our local Japanese Restaurant for a wonderful lunch. YUM!

We all went to our local old-fashioned ice cream shoppe next and a couple more families joined us there for ice cream and more visiting!

Then we met yet more friends for mini golf!

Afterward, as we stood in the parking lot talking, I noticed this sign out front. When we called the place about our group attending, they wanted to know what kind of party it was. We didn't tell them the whole story, we just said "anniversary." I guess they wanted to know for the sign. So we went over and took a picture by it while the kids played (well, Thing 1 took the picture). I'm glad Mark's in this picture because he did most of the picture taking that day (thanks, Sweetie).

After our outings, we all went back to our backyard/patio to hang out, eat snacks, visit, talk, and enjoy one another. If you look closely, you can get some sneak peaks at the book we had made.

Yet more friends showed up with flowers . . .

fun and conversation and even some really cool magic tricks . . .

live music . . .

laughter . . .

and stories . . .

This of course inspired the kids to put on a magic show of their own!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. I'm grateful for good friends who would be so sweet to come out and help us celebrate the special day.

And I'm grateful for good, loving parents and a celebration of 50 years.

Vavo Wiis

That doesn't sound so good. We've introduced my mother to the Wii! She likes bowling (which I figured she would) but she wasn't so keen on MarioKart. Here's one of her attempts to drive (read: attempt to stay on the track at all):

I had no idea that you could mow grass when you're off the track . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Day in Boston

I LOVE Boston! It's one of my very favorite cities. Some cities have a "feel" about them. Boston is one of those cities.

I love the people, I love the feel of it, I love all there is to do.
I love the geeky Harvard stuff.
I love the Boston sports stuff. I love the crazy Boston sports fans.
I love the historical stuff.
I love how it's right by the ocean.
I love the metro system.
I love the restaurants.
I love the TV stuff (Cheers).
I love that it's not terribly far from Plymouth, Newport, Lexington, Concord, or even NYC or DC or Philly.
I love how it has different parts with different feels, much like New York, but a more intimate feel.
I love the Boston accent (yes, mine shows through at times).
I love that people say "wicked good" and "wicked awww-some."
I love that I used to hang out there with my friends growing up.
I love that Boston hosts a "Scooper Bowl" every July that boasts a HUGE tent of over 40 different ice cream vendors--pay a small fee, go in, and scarf on ice cream and drink lots of water (I've met Ben and Jerry there!).
I love that I know my way around there fairly well.
I love that I grew up right near there.
I LOVE that I get to share it with my East Coast-loving husband and kids!

Riding the T

This is half the fun of visiting cities for kids

Eating at The Border Cafe
in Harvard Square

I LOVE taking my family here to eat! GREAT food. GREAT prices. And our server was an awesome Brazilian woman who spoke to us in Portuguese the entire time.

Visiting Harvard

Because why not? It's fun.
It's a gorgeous campus.

Doing the Freedom Trail

This was really fun and goes along with our study of American History. The kids also got to do the Junior Ranger program as part of it -- that's why they're holding booklets.

See the brick trail?

Visiting the Old South Meeting House

Then the cold got to us (yes, cold. In May. I know, but it's Boston, so what do you expect?) so Mark and I bought ourselves sweatshirts from a street vendor and the kids wore them to stay warm (the adult shirts cost a couple of dollars more than the kids' shirts and kids outgrow them so easily, so . . . )

In front of the Old State House -- also the site of the Boston Massacre
(did you know that started with a thrown snowball?)

Following the Freedom Trail

In front of Faneuil Hall and the statue of Samuel Adams

Inside Faneuil Hall is a working post office, numerous shops, and you can also go upstairs to the room where they'd have important meetings that lead to America's independence from the British, and the 4th floor has all kinds of artillery memorabilia.

We stopped in to see the shops and found a little something for Mark:

And a little something for me:

We then watched some CRAZY funny street performers-that was a lot of fun (though we've done a lot of reminding since then -- "Remember how they said NOT to try that at home?") outside of Quincy Market (another AWESOME place to browse--one of my favorites since it involves lots and lots of FOOD)

Walking the Freedom Trail

Mark and kids in front of Boston Garden
(in the background)

Our family visiting Paul Revere's House

The kids in front of Paul Revere's House-
I seriously love Boston.
This is also right near Little Italy, so we stopped at Mike's Pastry for some of their famous cannoli, too!

Paul Revere Statue
(and behind it is the Old North Church, but it's a bit overcast)
Mark and I have a picture of us here when we were freshmen in college

This was a really cool memorial set up on the grounds near
The Old North Church -- very moving

The Old North Church is still a place of worship today (can you imagine attending there? Getting married there??) and is reallllllly beautiful inside. This is a picture of a "3rd lantern" that still burns. Gerald Ford lit it in 1975 to represent America's 3rd century of freedom.

We RAN (boy did we run) back to the visitor's center (there was some misinformation - we thought we could do this at the Old North Church, but no) and the kids got sworn in as Junior Rangers (the college co-ed ranger was already out of uniform getting ready for her next job). The kids got badges and certificates. At 4:59 PM. Did I mention that we ran?

Delicious Cannolis

Tired, happy kids goofing around together

Living Near History

I'm thinking I've mentioned, at least once or twice, how much we love where we live? Yeah, thought so. If you missed the memo, we love it.

One of my favorite aspects of where we live is location, location, location. Locally, totally. But also on a bigger scale, too. We are within 2 hours of Washington, D.C., New York City, Philly, Baltimore, and the beach. And we're also close to New England, too!

In the past several months, we've been to Philly, DC, NYC, and Boston. We've also visited 11 of the 13 original colonies (as well as Florida).

And it's extra cool because we've been studying American History. We live near the coolest stuff!! And we love that we homeschool and can VISIT these places as part of our learning. We really, really love it.

We've already blogged about our trip to NYC, our trip to DC, and our trip to Philly. Now here's a bit about our trip to Plymouth and Boston:

We've got library cards through my Mom in MA. The library system there has an AWESOME museum pass system. From here (in PA), we can reserve the museum pass cards, pick them up, and visit all kinds of cool places (museums, zoos, historical sites) for SO MUCH CHEAPER!! For example, instead of paying $118 to visit Plimoth Planation, we got in for $42 for all 5 of us! Awesome.

Plimoth Plantation

There are SO many pictures I want to post. I'll try to restrain myself.

Visiting here with my husband and kids was surreal--this was one of my childhood field trips when I was a little girl! It was fun to have Vavo along, too. She loved it.

SO lush!

Too bad it's blurry--this is a cool picture

So, first we visited the Native People's village (Wampanoag Homesite):

You get to see how they lived and interact with them and ask them questions and visit their homes and gardens. It's very, very cool. Here we are near a mishoon, or dugout canoe.

We then walked to the 1627 English Village. This is especially cool because the people stay in character and time period. It's as if you've gotten there via time machine. They speak just like the colonists did and they live just like they did, too. You see them cook, work the land, etc. And you can ask them any questions you want (this is strongly encouraged) and get such a feel for what it was like then.

This guy was awesome. He was the acting minister but he wasn't ordained so he couldn't administer the sacrament.

So cool how you can see the Atlantic Ocean RIGHT there.


This is John Alden caring for the cattle. Priscilla was at home.

This area is a big hit.

Visiting another home

They have a cute children's museum where we warmed up and played old-fashioned colonial games.

Plymouth Rock

The rock is housed inside that columned area

When you look down, you see the (slowly-eroding) Plymouth Rock

Out for some yummy seafood on the coast

The Mayflower

This guy was AWESOME (video to follow). He didn't miss a beat, stayed totally in character, and was really funny to boot. He had a lot to say about women on the boat (apparently they were trouble). It took the Mayflower over 2 months to get TO Plymouth (where it had to "dock" a mile off shore) but took less than 4 weeks to get back.

This guy was below deck and was a total gossip. He had a lot to say about all of the passengers on the Mayflower. He told of swindlers and said that he felt that many Christians made better performers than practitioners.

The kids had a lot of fun playing with this exhibit near the boat--all the different tools that helped them measure speed and direction

In front of the Mayflower

(Something neat about the Mayflower -
my Dad did carpentry work on the Mayflower gift shop)