Thursday, September 26, 2013

day 3: the hahbah cruise with my father the photographer

our last day in boston/groton was a really good one.  we'd been thinking about visiting cape cod, but our hosts, richard's aunt jeannie and uncle kevin, convinced us that it is actually overrated and that we should visit the little town of portsmouth.  we're so glad we listened to them!  and that they were willing to play tour-guide for us.  so first thing that morning (morning = whatever time we all ended up being ready to go) we piled into the van and headed to portsmouth, new hampshire.

my dad bought a camera from my sister (who he bought the camera for for her high school graduation - sucker bought the camera twice!), and he's had to do quite a bit of photography work for his job, and i know i'm no expert, but i think that he has become quite the talented photographer!  i mean, i think he could actually charge lots of money for lots of the pictures he takes.  lucky for us, i think that he enjoys it, and so hopefully the joy he feels is enough compensation when we're the ones in the pictures.  anyway, here are just some of the amazing photos he took on our last "boston" adventure (i don't know why some of them are sideways! grrrr).

a one-man-band playing an instrument i don't think any of us had ever seen before.

richard, marty, jeannie, kevin, sara shumway (richard's cousin), and dale

one of the main attractions was a harbor cruise, and we loved it!

just started solids?  try this spicy sandwich.

the whole gang

i loved the bonding we got to do with our dads, and with each other's dads on this trip.  priceless.

after the cruise, we wandered the streets of the adorable town, where dale treated us all to ice cream.

we then drove just a little ways to hampton beach.  actually, we stopped just before hampton beach because that place is a madhouse.  this was such a treat!  these are my favorite pictures of the whole trip.

thanks, jeannie and kevin.  and dad!  what a great way to end the first leg of our east coast adventure.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

day 2: jack and the green giant

we started our second day in boston by paying tribute to our favorite historical womanizer/president of the united states of america.  one mr. john fitzgerald kennedy.  we visited his presidential library, and it was awesome.

my dad is a fan, despite the fact that it has taken him almost a year to read stephen king's novel about what it might have been like if jack hadn't been assassinated.  he's still not done.  i know he has lots of important things to do as a father and husband and hardworking american, but come on.  it's a good one, and it really did make me wonder...

it seems that marty is also a fan.  i did read the book while i was pregnant!

i can't remember if that is just a replica of the actual desk.  i'm thinking that it is.  i'd really like to visit the oval someday.

after the library, we went to the granary burying ground.  it's a cemetery.

it was here that we learned that mother goose was a real person.  a real person!

paul revere is buried there.

so is sam adams

and john hancock.

after the cemetery, we hopped on the train to fenway park to see a red sox game.

now, upon first entering the park we were super excited for the game.  richard played on a competition team with a guy that plays for the red sox (he's a closer [pitcher]), so we were kind of hoping that he'd get to play, but he didn't.  we were excited about that, though.  i was super excited to sing "sweet caroline," and we were all just excited to be there.  this was before we knew who we'd be sitting behind.

see that blue shirt with white writing on the back?  well, there was a sea of those in front of us because they all worked at a local pub and were there for their annual work party.  it's safe to say that they started the party at work with a few drinks and then continued the festivities pretty hard core once they got to the game.  it was like sitting behind a frat party.  it stunk, they were loud, and totally in our faces.  the low-light of sitting behind these fools was when the rebel in the teal shirt nearly got into a fight with the french guys who were sitting two seats away from him, but still directly in front of us.  they were pushing each other and calling each other on, and i was terrified.  i had marty on my lap, and i know i probably looked like i was in shock.  luckily, one of the idiot's coworkers worked really hard to break it up, and it  finally worked.  oh, alcohol.  thank you for ruining lives and vacations all over the country.

although we discussed leaving after that, we decided to stay.  i'm so glad we did, because most of the lushes in front of us left early, and i got to stand and belt my favorite neil diamond tune with a park full of bostonians.

i got really good at feeding marty wherever we happened to be at his meal times.  and thankfully, he was a good sport about it.  that is one of the things i was most worried about, but we have ourselves a pretty perfect kid and it was actually a breeze.

we also found out that he is quite the little show-off.  he loved entertaining the two guys sitting behind us.

even though it got off to a pretty rough start, i would have to say that this was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  it was fun to take our boy to his first major league game, especially with the grandpa who loves baseball more than any other grandpa i know.

and it was just another chance to make some amazing memories with my favorite people.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

east coast adventure: part 1 (graduation/crazy freaking boston)

a little less than one year ago, richard was accepted to participate in a defense civilian emerging leader program (dcelp) at work.  since then he has traveled to boston, ma five times for these training sessions.  the longest he was gone was two weeks, but pretty much every time it felt long.  the most difficult time for me was my last week of work, when i would wake up and get marty and myself ready, drive him to daycare (which richard was doing at the time since it was on base where he works), back to my work (which is basically like coming back home), and then picking him up from daycare, and finally coming back home at the end of the day.  however, that was also marty's last week of daycare/my last week of work, and i was so thrilled about that that i barely thought about all the driving i was doing at all.

one of the things we were both excited about with this training was that there was to be a graduation at the conclusion on the east coast.  originally it was supposed to be in washington d.c., but then the sequestration happened and it got moved to a ballroom of the conference center/hotel where the training took place in southbridge, ma (about an hour south of boston).  we're always looking for an excuse for a vacation, and this certainly seemed like a prime opportunity.  however, this would be our first big vacation with the boy, so there were a few nerves involved, too.  richard had to go out for the last part of his training, so we would meet him the night before the graduation at the hotel.

when we were first talking about the graduation (last year), we talked about how it would be fun to hit a few cities while we were out there.  then we would talk about how much history we'd get to see.  then he said how it would be fun if my dad could come and be our tour guide...or how it would be great if both sets of our parents could come along for the ride.  so we extended the invitation, and although neither of our moms was able to come, both of our dads signed up for the trip of a lifetime.  dale flew out two nights before the graduation, and my dad and marty and i got there the night before.  and that part of the trip is where the pictures begin:

i would be lying if i said i was only having a little bit of anxiety over traveling with a baby.  i put out questions on facebook, where i received loads of very helpful advice from my friends who are professional "with-child" travelers.  i also searched on pinterest, talked to my pediatrician, and asked just about everyone i came in contact with during the month prior to our trip if they had any advice for me.  i may have overdone it, but i certainly didn't feel unprepared.

marty and i stayed at my parents' house the night before our flight since my dad and i had to be to the airport at the buttcrack of dawn.  from the very first minute of our trip he was a little trooper.  here he is while we waited for our first flight, listening to me complain (again) about the fact that cinnabon is no longer in the airport.  i just really don't know who thought that move was a good one!

he had just started solids a couple of weeks before our trip, so that was another thing i was stressed about, but it turns out i didn't need to.  those baby food pouches were a life-saver, and it helps that we have the best little eater in the world.  this is when we discovered his love for sweet potatoes.

thank goodness my dad was with us.  i mean, marty was awesome, but getting the stroller, bags, and both of us through security and onto/off of our flights would have been a nightmare without him there to help.  i know marty was glad to have him with us, too.

we had two layovers on our way there, and one of them lasted forever because of a plane needing to be repaired.  here is the boy having a ball sitting like a big guy while we waited to find out we would be getting off that plane and waiting for a few hours for another one to fly us to boston.

after it took a lifetime to get our rental car (in the middle of the night) we finally drove to southbridge to see richard.  we got a few hours of sleep, and then it was off to the graduation ceremony.  richard had to go down before we did to practice playing guitar for the national anthem.  as we strolled through the lobby to get to the ceremony, so many people stopped me and asked if we were richard's family..."he's showed us pictures of you guys!"..."he's pretty proud of this little guy."  it was fun to hear that from complete strangers.  it was also fun to hear everyone laugh as richard put his arms around these high-ranking women as he accepted his certificate.  i have no doubt that he made the best kind of impression on his classmates.

marty is a chatterbox, so i stayed in the ceremony as long as i could, but ended up taking him out in the hall for quite a bit of the time.  richard said that whenever he was making noises that people would pat him on the back or give him a big smile.  i loved seeing how proud richard is of our boy.  we're lucky to have such a good daddy in our little family!

after pictures and farewells, we loaded up the rental car and headed to boston.  i had to drive because i was the only driver we paid for.  it was clear after only a short time of me driving that someone else would need to be added.  saying that i hate driving in boston would be a gross understatement.  the drivers there are rude and reckless, and the signs and lines on the roads are a joke.  richard thought that i was being a little overdramatic about the whole situation until he actually got behind the wheel.  he said that he doesn't know if he's ever been more frustrated while driving, and my dad said that it was probably the first time he's ever seen richard get frustrated like that at all.  freaking boston.

we finally parked and got out.  i kept telling richard we should just go straight to new york and forget about boston.  i was huffing and puffing about the drivers, i was tired and hungry, and i was pretty much giving up any hope i had of this trip being a good one until this happened:

^^^^^we were walking down the street in the "north end" (which is like the little italy of boston), when we saw this sign hanging in a convenience store window.  i laughed and told richard we had to get a picture.  so there we were taking this very picture when the store owner came out and asked, "is his name marty?"  but he said it like a bostonian, so marty was "mah-dee."  when we said yes, he went in and took the sign out of the window and gave it to us to keep  (it is now framed and hanging in the boy's bedroom).  he said he had plenty more.  now this might not seem like a very big deal, but this was the exact moment that my very, very low spirits started to lift.

and this is when they started to soar.  i've never seen a bigger variety of cannoli's in my life.

right away we saw some great historical sights.  richard had seen a lot of them already, so he was happy to act as our tour guide.  my dad was loving every minute of it. and now, so was i.  this is the "bell in hand tavern" where a lot of prominent historical figures would whet their whistle, including samuel adams.

we went to fenneuil hall, and ate at quincy market.  i felt like elaine benes on seinfeld when i had to watch this sorry sight of my dad eating his cannoli with a fork.  i guess it gets the job done, and clearly he didn't care what i had to say.  

it was raining pretty much the whole time we were there, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the street performers.

on our way back to the car, we came across this incredible holocaust memorial. there were six glass pillars that you could walk through, and there was fog coming out of a vent under our feet.  on each pillar there were a million names of holocaust victims, along with a few quotes/accounts from survivors.  it was very touching, and i don't think that i was the only one of us who was moved to tears.

we ended that day by driving to groton to stay with richard's aunt jeannie and uncle kevin.  it was a long day, with lots of emotions.  but mostly, it was a great start to our east coast adventure.