Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World Meningitis Day 2013

Today is World Meningitis Day. Please take a few minutes to refresh your memory about signs and symptoms of meningitis and remember those who have been touched by this disease.
We love you and miss you so much, Evan!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trip to Boston! Part 4 - The Boston Marathon

As we began planning our trip to Boston back in October, we saw that the Muse show was scheduled the same weekend as the Boston Marathon. My sister and brother in law said that it's always a lot of fun to cheer on the athletes. They go every year and said it wasn't to be missed. The flights leaving the day of the Marathon (as opposed to the following day) were much more expensive, so we agreed to stay till Tuesday. They live just a short walk away from the course, so there wouldn't be any need to ride the train into Boston.
This was my first time spectating a marathon. My sister in law is an avid runner and has done numerous marathons (even Boston!), but we have never gone to cheer her on. (Sorry, Nat.) We walked to the town Square early, so we would get to see the wheelchair athletes, as well as the elite runners. It wasn't crowded, yet, so we were able to get a great spot.
The church bells tolled as the first wheelchair athletes pushed into town.

Natick is right at the 10 mile mark of the marathon, so most of the athletes were still going strong.

I didn't realize there were different types of wheelchairs used for these events. This one allowed the athlete to recline. Honestly, it looked like a lot harder movement than in the previous picture. I wonder how well they can see, too.

Here are some of our military men and women in full kit (boots and packs!) walking/marching the marathon! They got high fives and "Thank yous" from us.

There were several teams participating. This is Team Noah. I also saw Griffin's Friends once the waves of runners came through. Griffin has a lot of friends! There were shirts with charities and fundraisers. There were handwritten notes, "I'm running for" and then that special person's name. It was really amazing.

This young man was doing the marathon on stilts! His shirt was covered in encouraging notes from friends. It looked like he was fundraising for his high school.

Then the elite women runners tore through!

You can see that the crowd has really started to fill in. It was a wonderful event. A real family event. It was obvious that the community was proud to host The Boston Marathon!

Another team.

There were also runners with guides. This man was running with a prosthetic leg, with his guide nearby. We saw guide runners with vision impaired runners, as well.

The elite men! My brother in law told me to watch the runners' feet as they passed. Many of them looked as though they were not putting their heels down at all, but running on the balls of their feet. And, I swear, it looked like they were just springing forward. So much power!

I couldn't help noticing that people's way of running varied tremendously. I always thought that runners kind of had the same form, and that's what made them "elite." It was astonishing. There were people in the usual excellent posture, tucked arms that one expects. But there were also runners (and they were doing well!) that had pretty poor posture and flailing arms. I guess you do what comes naturally or what is most comfortable.

And then things got a little silly. We saw fairies, Wonder Women, Superman, loads of crazy colors (I can't unsee the neon pink tight, tight outfit one guy wore! *shudders*) One girl named April was barefoot! I called her a rock star. I wonder if her feet held up the entire race.

Hot dog!
We cheered non-stop for the runners. If you had your name written on your shirt or bib, we yelled encouragement. (And several people said thanks for that individual cheer!) We got lots of sweaty high fives. We even got to see my brother in law's friend! He ran over to say hello and gave us all high fives.


Here's Team Hoyt. You may have seen inspirational videos of this father/son team, who are from Boston! No wonder the cheers were through the roof!
We were caught up in the excitement! It's hard not to be excited. Waves and waves of runners passed by and scores of people cheered them on.
After a few hours we headed back to the house. A little while later I received a text from a friend. "I heard about the explosions in Boston, checking that you weren't nearby." I texted back that we were ok, and then texted my mom, just in case she thought we might be in Boston. I went downstairs to learn the horrible details that were pouring in from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two explosions (later identified as bombs) had occured. People were killed and survivors were grievously wounded. We watched, with the rest of the world, as more news filtered in. Horrified.
We left early the next morning for the airport, expecting security to be very tight. We had ticketing issues (shakes fist at Airtran for messing things up on our record), so it was good that we were there early. There was a heavier security presence, but getting through was no big deal. The guy at the X-ray machine called out to me as I walked away with my gray box, "Hey Cinderella, you forgot your shoe!" While we were at Logan International airport, a plane was being evacuated. But...we got on our flight in good time and got home safely.
It was a wonderful trip. A lovely trip! I'm sad that the marathon ended in tragedy, but heartened by all of the bravery, courage, and just plain kindness shown in the week since.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Trip to Boston! Part 3 - Lincoln

   We travelled over to Lincoln the next day to catch a Fife and Drum concert that afternoon. The performance began with a group of militia men marching in and firing their muskets.

They went through the laborious process of loading the weapons and waited for their leader for the next move. "Fire!" 


And then the Fife and Drum groups marched in for the performance. There were local groups and groups from across the country to perform at The Lincoln Salute! This group is the Connecticut Valley Field Music. They dress in Civil War era uniforms and play music from that period.

The Grand Republic Fife & Drum Corps dresses in modern concert band uniforms and plays music from the 1890's.
The Middlesex County 4-H Fife & Drum Corps! I was impressed by this group of kids! They were playing next to adults and they held their own.

Probably my favorite group, the Bluff Point Quahog Diggers Band. They were barefooted on this chilly day in Massachusetts. And they were just a lot of fun to watch. They clearly enjoy playing.

The Musick of Prescott's Battalion were small, but very skilled, based on an actual fife and drum group in 1775.

If there had been an award for Cutest Corps, the 4-H ers would have easily won!

Fifes & Drums of the Lincoln Minute Men. This is the local group based on an actual group of fifers and drummer that were at North Bridge when the Battle for Concord began! 
Some re-enactors enjoying the performance. And, erm, blocking our view. Not cool!

And finally, the 1st Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps. The largest and best dressed group there. This year marked their 33rd year of participating as part of Patriots Weekend!

The groups all performed one last piece as a group.

This little fellow played along during the concert, but got a little shy when asked to join them at the end.

And for some reason the show ended with a bugle call.
I tweeted during the weekend what a wonderful time it was to be in the Boston area.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Trip to Boston! Part 2 - Concord and Lexington

Look, what's that white stuff on the ground?
On our second full day in the Boston area, we decided to take advantage of Patriot Weekend activities. We started by visiting Walden Pond. Henry David Thoreau came to Walden Pond in the mid 1800's to live more simply and get closer to nature.

We had a little fun with the Thoreau statue.

A smart phone can help just about anyone simplify, Mr. Thoreau!

Oh dear!

A replica of the small cabin that Thoreau constructed. There's a wonderful little children's book about the making of this cabin called Henry Builds a Cabin by D.B. Johnson.

A small space for a man to get big ideas!

We walked over to Walden Pond, prepared to hike around. The site of Thoreau's cabin is along the way.

Walden Pond! Beautiful, serene,...buggy?! There were loads of mosquitos! In Massachusetts. In April! It was crazy. There were swarms of them. We cut short our hike and headed over to Minute Man National Historic Park.

We didn't get there in time for the parade or re-enactment, but there were still people dressed up in Colonial garb doing demonstrations. (And, in the case of that little girl, just looking cute!)

The ladies talked and sewed.

We learned a bit about needlecraft of the period. As well as food and what the bedrooms were like.

We went outside to watch the carpenter working with period (or replica) tools. Really neat. This gentleman did a little demonstration on how to fire a musket. He said that going quickly, a good militia man would be able to get off three shots in 60 seconds. A lot of work to get that sucker loaded!

Where it all began back in 1875. On Old North Bridge. The beginning of the Battle of Concord and the Revolutionary War.

Statue of the Minute Man, which, according to Wikipedia was made from donated canons from the American Civil War. The statue was placed on April 19, 1875, on the centennial anniversary of the battle.

And a tree root that looks like a foot. We're all so serious, you see.

An old house on the grounds of the park. It serves as a museum (and gift shop!) for visitors. Lovely gardens, too!