Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In The Spirit of Giving.

With all of the discussions under way regarding a casino proposal in nearby Foxborough and the motives of the casino proposers Robert Kraft and Steve Wynn, I think it is interesting to learn of the respect New England Patriot personnel have toward the team's owner, Kraft. I pulled this from boston.com and it was written by Michael Whitmer:


Togetherness

When the locker room doors were opened to the media after Saturday’s game, owner Robert Kraft was spotted holding a football, and photographs were being taken with his family members holding a painting. The painting was a gift from the Patriots players to honor Kraft’s late wife, Myra. Coach Bill Belichick also presented a game ball to Kraft following the victory.

In the painting -pictures have been posted to the team’s Twitter account - a group of Patriots are in a huddle, with their hands joined and pointing up to the initials MHK, for Myra Kraft, who died July 20. The team has dedicated the season to her, and Matt Light - who missed the game with a right ankle injury - gave the painting to Kraft.


I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Ours was incredibly fun and extremely tiring!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookie Monsters.

If you are a reader to Sarah's blog, you know our daughters LOVE to help make cookies. And, although I do not consider myself a "cook", I also enjoy doing some baking here and there. Since this time of the year outdoor activity is limited for the girls, we try to get them involved in some baking to occupy them for awhile (even if it is less than an hour). We baked and then decorated some sugar cookies the other day...

Anna thought they were finger-licking good!



Allie - showing attention to detail.



Look at Emily's cute litte smile peeking through!



Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Leaves Have Fallen

Despite the higher than normal temperatures the past couple of months, one cannot ignore the sound of winter knocking on the door in Massachusetts. Cold and snow is inevitable around here. It is not a question of IF. It is a question of WHEN. So, when possible, I try to take advantage of mild days in the Fall and Spring. While running along the Charles River last week I took notice of the leafless trees and thought about how much outdoor fun I have had with our daughters since winter ended last year.

Just last week the girls had a blast running through leaves in our back yard. Here is a clip of the fun:




Things the girls say Emily, after being told I am 45 years old: "Wow, Daddy you are a BIG boy now!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dancing to Rubber Duckie

The girls have recently been requesting a CD be played so that they can show off their dance moves. And show off, they do!

Here they are dancing to Rubber Duckie as performed on a Fisher Price Little People bathtime cd:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quiet Heart.

Do you ever have a moment of inner peace in your day? A moment, sandwiched between the cluttered hurriedness of everyday life when you are able to listen to your soul? One of those times where you say to yourself: This is peace. And you ask yourself where have these moments gone?

As one of thirteen children, I am grateful to my parents for making the necessary sacrifices so that I could attend a catholic high school. The alternative to attending a private high school close to home was attending one of the Boston public high schools. And, although Boston has some very good public high schools (Boston Latin, for example), my parents did not want to take the chance of me being bused to another section of Boston. Unfortunately, during the late 70’s and early 80’s concern for student safety was high.

Although I have driven by my alma mater numerous times since graduating, I have only stepped inside the school a handful of times (to watch the Knights basketball team play and to attend a mass they hold every year). I had not attended the Liturgy to remember family and friends who have passed away since 2006 so I decided to make an effort to get there this year. And I was able to attend the service, which was held last weekend.

What was sort of cool about walking through those doors this year was the fact that each of my hands was holding one of my daughters’ hands. Emily was able to have a few hours of one on one time with Sarah after we convinced Allie and Anna that it would be “fun” for them to go to Daddy’s old school to see Grandma G. (my mom attends the mass every year) and have some donuts. We, of course, did not say much about the mass part!

Overall, it was simply a very nice couple of hours with my girls. Allie and Anna were very well behaved during the mass, which was not unsual - they generally are well behaved in new environments. I don't think they said a word the entire time, actually!

Cards from alumuni are placed on the altar with the names of family and friends of the school to be remembered. I had written the names of my dad, my niece Julie, and our daughter Abigail on my card. This would be some time to take a breath and meditate on my dad, my niece and Abigail. And amazingly enough, I did find some moments of meditation while the mass was being said.

In addition to Father P., there was one altar server (they used to be called altar boys!) and a choral group made up of high school students. Unlike other times when I attend a service and there is music, this time I absorbed the sounds of the voices rather than let them bounce of off me. The sound was pleasant.

The communion hymn was On Eagle's Wings which will always be an emotional hymn. The next hymn was one which I do not remember hearing previously - Borrowed Angels. The vocalists, particularly one student, sang his verses perfectly - it was almost as if he had written the words himself, his voice was so true.

The refrain touched me:

There must be Borrowed Angels, here in this life
They come along, into this world, and make this world bright
But they can't stay forever
Cause they're heaven sent
And sometimes, heaven needs them back again



Abigail Ruth - Dad - Julie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grand Jury Report on Jerry Sandusky and Penn State Allegations.

If you have any doubt about the severity of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky (former football coach at Penn State), I encourage you to read the first few pages of the Grand Jury report. I think it is important for the public to see the severity of the charges through all the "smoke" put out there by the officials at Penn State. This is serious stuff which was basically covered up by top officials at the school. You only have to read the first few pages before your stomach will start to churn. The New York Times posted the report.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

Spring used to be my season of choice and still is a favorite time of year for me, but the Fall season has started to creep up on my list of favorite times of the year. I suppose the lack of a Spring in New England the last few years has contributed to it falling on my list. Having adorable daughters who are busy enjoying all the fun that comes with Fall definitely helps push Fall up on my list too!

This year we added dance classes to Allie, Anna and Emily's weekday activities and they are loving it! Sarah and I love it too! And even though we don't get to see them "bust a move" in class (we both work FT jobs), they are always willing to show us their stuff at home.

They recently learned how to "boogie woogie" and, since I am a huge fan of late 70's/early 80's dance music, I especially love this video clip of Allie, Anna, and Emily doing the boogie woogie:


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

We Go 'Round in Circles

Time constraints still prevent me from keeping up on posts. I do however, have a video clip from a few weeks ago of Allie excitedly riding her bike:




I just love to see my daughters' faces filled with joy.

Have a great day, everyone.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Some Sense Amongst the Noise

Through ALL the news on the Red Sox historical collapse, I found one article which truly puts things into perspective. Reading this story really hit a spot with me, so I thought I would share:

Better things to dwell on
By Brian McGrory
Globe Columnist / September 30, 2011

It could be worse, folks. Your system could be getting cleaned out faster than Yawkey Way.

Or you could be Setti Warren, ending his Senate campaign yesterday by telling the voters of Newton how much he treasures being their mayor, the very job he was trying to leave after doing it for about a year.

In other words, perspective, please, which is what I also got when my phone rang with Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis on the other end of the line. He is a good man and a wise cop, so when he suggested that I high-tail it to a part of Mattapan that he had just left, I did what I was told.

Which is how I came to be walking across the potholed playground of the Mattahunt Elementary School in the middle of seemingly nowhere, listening to the sounds of laughter spill out an open door to the old, rickety gym.

Inside, there were young kids, the boys in blue polos and khakis, the girls in skirts, dribbling basketballs, practicing bounce passes, heaving shots with all their might toward rims that seemed unfairly high. They were having the time of their lives. Guys in green tee-shirts shouted instructions and constant praise.

The adults were, I learned, the coaching and scouting staff of the Boston Celtics, which was interesting. Then I saw what was unfolding around the rest of the school.

Back outside, dozens of men had swarmed a section of playground that had long ago been basically condemned. They were wielding saws, pushing brooms, digging into the ground with heavy shovels, attacking overgrowth, leaves, and litter that were probably there before Havlicek stole the ball. A 12-foot tree had sprouted in the middle of a street hockey rink, if that tells you anything.

I introduced myself to a worker who was ripping out human-sized weeds, and he told me he was Rich Gotham. Rich Gotham is the president of the Celtics, which caught me off guard. He was sweating like a buffalo.

He said the Celtics swarm a few schools a year with 150 or so volunteers from the front office, basketball staff, sponsors, and season ticketholders. “It’s amazing what you can get done when you pull a few people together,’’ he said. “It’s the most gratifying stuff we do.’’

As he spoke, volunteers pounded together benches and flower boxes. Inside, a few dozen people overhauled the library, which lacks a librarian, organizing shelves and setting up computers. Another couple of dozen volunteers were painting the vast community room.

“I’m elated,’’ said Ruby Ababio-Fernandez, the principal. “My kids deserve this. The staff deserves this. It says a lot to the school.’’

By day’s end, the kids were left with what amounted to a new playground, new outdoor basketball court, and new library, as well as a sense that they mattered, which they don’t get anywhere near often enough.

Which gets to the point in all of this. Baseball in Boston ended with a heavy dose of poetic justice Wednesday night, the Red Sox collapsing and Tampa Bay surging back to life, a season summarized in two remarkable games. But life goes on. Life goes on in victory, and it goes on in defeat. It goes on both on the field and off.

Boston is lucky to have the teams it does, even today, every one of them community-minded. And the teams are fortunate to have the passion of the smartest fans in sports.

Every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to take stock: What happened at Camden Yards was memorable, but what happened in Mattapan is important.


Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at mcgrory@globe.com.

Amen, Brian. AMEN.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No Time To Lose

Ya, I'm not sure I'll be keeping up with blogging like I have for the last couple of weeks. We'll see how things go, but three classes, on top of a full-time job, and fatherhood is starting to catch up with me.

Things the girls say: Allie has been sleeping in our bed recently - she's been waking up and coming in our room anytime between 12:30 and 5:30 am. She came in the other night, fell back asleep, and then woke up a short time later,looked at me and said "Snuggle with me daddy". Oh...melt my heart!

Workout log: Thursday I did some lifting. Friday was an off day and today (Saturday) I did about 3.2 miles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Humble Pie

Fans of Boston professional sports have certainly had reason to celebrate for the past decade with the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and (of course) Red Sox all winning at least one championship in that period. Peppered within those team accomplishments, there have also been numerous individual player accomplishments and records worth noting. The last couple of days, for example, a couple of my favorite Boston players (and one coach) are getting some well deserved attention for contributing to their respective sports.

Tim Wakefieldknuckle ball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

In his 16th season with the Sox, Wakefield beat the Toronto Blue Jays last night at Fenway Park for his 200th career win. Considered an all-around great guy, “Wake” has consistently shown class and professionalism on and off the field. According to boston.com, Wakefield was named the recipient of the 2010 Roberto Clemente award - an award given annually to the player who "combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field." It was the eighth nomination for Wakefield, a player who has given tirelessly to charities ranging from the Jimmy Fund to his "Pitching in for Kids" organization.

Congrats, Wake!

Tom Bradyquarterback for the New England Patriots.

In the season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, Mr. Brady threw for a franchise record 517 yards. Accolades of Tom Brady’s accomplishments and contributions could go on forever. For now, I’ll just say we love #12.

Bill BelichickNew England Patriots head coach.

The hooded-sweatshirt ("hoodie") wearing, all business head coach of the Pats will be highlighted on “Football Life”, a NFL Network series. Per the NFL Network, Football Life will take “an in-depth look at the life of one of the NFL's most intriguing coaches, Bill Belichick, using unique on and off-the-field sights, sounds and stories”.

To promote the Belichick series, The City of Boston has allowed The NFL Network to adorn several historical statues in Boston with a New England Patriots hoodie! Too cool.

The timing of the above events is ironic considering the arrest charges of the not-so-humble Manny Ramirez yesterday. Manny, who spent a good part of his career with the Red Sox, allegedly assaulted his wife. Wake, Brady and Belichick are extremely confident, yet humble. "Manny" and "humble" have never been used in the same sentence.

Workout log: Lunchtime runs along the Charles River both yesterday and today, both of which were spectacular days in terms of the weather with temperatures in the low 80's. Today I did about 3.5 - 4 miles in @30 minutes. Yesterday's run was @5.5 miles = 48 minutes.

Things the girls say: Emily has been planning a birthday party for Lil' Lion, her cherished lovie. With a play phone to her ear, she walked by me in the kitchen, saying "...birthday was going to be today, but there is going to be a storm so we better not..." Must be from all the hurricane (Irene) talk a couple of weeks ago!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Feeding the Reindeer at Santa's Village

Things our girls say: Although thankful my girls are not slobs and are instead very much lady-like, their compulsive cleanliness can, at times, be overboard. Hearing "I spilled some MILK...I NEED a napkin...I got dippy on my shirt.." from three whiny voices gets old. Sometimes I just want to say GET OVER IT. Like I said, I would rather this than having kids that make it a habit of tossing food around like a baseball! The girls aversion to all things icky was apparent when we went to feed the reindeer at Santa's Village - check out the video clip:



Today's workout log: I escaped for a run just around lunchtime today. In terms of weather, I would call it a 9 on a 1 - 10 scale!! Sunny, mid to high 70's and no humidity! Since I don't think there is a hill in my town, all my runs are pretty flat and today was no exception for the approximate 4.5 mile route which I did in about 39 minutes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Splish Splash

Thanks (again) to my mother-in-law for getting some good pics of us. In these pictures we are riding the water coaster at Storyland:






Things our girls say: Daddy, hold me. Daddy, sit with me. Those two are obviously in my top ten!

Workout notes: Besides chasing my daughters around and running errands, no workout today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jump In A Lake

In my entire life, I may have heard my mother swear once. TWICE at the most. My dad (God rest his soul) was a different story because, well, he is a guy. His language was clean most of the time. But when we started playing golf together his frustration came out in four letter words! Ha!

My mother would tell my siblings and me to use expressions like "jump in a lake" or "take a hike" rather than the more off-color expressions used by many kids. As a parent to triplets who is sometimes beaten down with exhaustion, I have to be careful of my language and behavior around our daughters. Everyone knows that children hear and remember EVERYTHING once they hit a certain age. Our kids have hit that age.

Anyway, another of my mother's sayings was "go fly a kite". Well, for the first time in decades, I did actually attempt to fly a kite a couple of weeks ago with the girls. The wind wasn't quite right for kite-flying, but we did have a good time anyway. Sarah's mom got a couple of pictures of our flying turtle.

Can you notice the quizical look on my face as I attempt to assemble Mr. Turtle?



Up up and away....



Things the girls say: Allie asked me to set-up their folding chairs in the backyard the other day (for a show they were putting on). I set-up the Mickey Mouse chair and then the Princess chair. Allie says "Daddy pull out the CheeseBob chair." I mentioned Allie's comment to Sarah that night and she told me that, yes, the girls call SpongeBob CheeseBob. SpongeBob (SquarePants) = CheeseBob. I think that is awesome, considering he does actually look like a piece of cheese!

Notes on today's workout: Great day for a run: partly cloudy and in the low 70's. I did my lunchtime 3.5 mile route from the office over to the Charles River and back. The run felt somewhat sluggish with some soreness in my quads and hamstring muscles, but other than that it was a good run.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Class

Today was orientation day at the girls' preschool and both Sarah and I went into work late so that we could both attend. I think this year will be much different than last year for the girls given the fact that they have come out of their shells a bit since school ended last spring. Plus, Sarah and I have been very happy with the teachers and curriculum at the girls' preschool - so let the school year begin!

Speaking of school, classes started for me this week. I decided to "suck it up" and take three classes this semester in hopes of finishing up the MBA program by the end of next summer. I am fairly confident I can do it, but I am feeling some anxiety as well. I'll just take it one day at a time.

Things the girls say: Yesterday, while out and about in our van, the girls apparently saw a car, which looked like our car, parked at a local Dunkin' Donuts. The girls said something like "look...there's Daddy's car...he must be getting a coffee on his way to class...."

Workout log: My hopes of a morning run did not transpire. No workout today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hey DJ Play That Song

Both Sarah and I tend to be practical. This is not a bad thing but gift giving tends to be a challenge sometimes when trying to be practical. We have even opted for not swapping gifts or buying something we needed for the house (a television, for example) instead of a gift.

The last couple of years, however, we decided to make an effort to buy each other something for our birthdays and at Christmas. We work our butts of all year long - both at home and in the office. We should treat each other with something - it doesn't have to be an iPhone or laptop every year, but something to say "hey, we work hard, we can afford it..."

With that said, it can still be tough to find a nice gift which will be appreciated and put to use, especially as we get older. Aren't parents and other adults over thirty-five the hardest people to buy for? Sarah and I usually try to get each other at least one thing that was not on the list and then get some suggestions. Sarah isn't a golfer and has no ideas what I have in my golf bag, so I would tell her I could use a pair of golf shoes, for example.

When the question of what to give came up this past Christmas, I suggested a turntable which converts vinyl records to digital. I got my wish with an Ion USB Turntable which, eight months later, I finally set-up and starting using.








I did some dee jaying for a few years back in the late 80's, early 90's - mostly for family and friends, but I did end up with quite a collection. I have about five or six milk crates filled with mostly 12 inch singles which I am glad I have kept. Most of my collection is hip-hop, disco,pop and rap. I think one of the first 12 " singles I got was from a girlfriend - Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl! I must admit that replaying these classic tunes while converting them to MP3 digital has been fun.






Some tunes I have converted include Miami Sound Machine's Bad Boy, Pump Up The Volume by Marrs, Finally by Ce Ce Peniston and Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.



I only have about one hundred or so more to convert...maybe by the end of the year this project will be complete!

Things the girls say:
After taking Emily on a quick errand with me (according to Emily everything takes so L O N G) to pick up some batteries, she said "...you are a real fast battery-picker-outer, Daddy!"

Workout log: Rest day - no workout today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Moose is Loose

As Sarah mentioned in a recent post, we stayed at my brother's place in New Hampshire for our recent vacation. And, while driving through the nine hole golf course which sits among some condos as part of the "club", we spotted a moose in the fairway of the first hole! The girls didn't really seem to care, but I thought it was pretty cool considering I have only spotted a wild moose two or three times.

Both Sarah and Sheila (Sarah's mom) got a couple of photos, but Sheila had a zoom on her camera so you get a better view with this picture.



As a side note: I know that my blog posts have no flow nor consistency in terms of subject matter. My blog instead is somewhat hap-hazard in subject matter and consistently inconsistent in terms of when I post. With that said, I have decided to make an attempt to put some flow into the blog by adding a training log to my posts.

(The real reason for posting a training log is for personal motivation, of course! Who really cares how many miles I run, right?)

Training log:no run today, some light strength training instead. Did some bicep, chest and a few tricep sets.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slip Sliding Away

Fortunately, the weather forecast for this weekend was not correct in that there were not any thunder showers AT ALL. Today was actually fairly warm for most of the day so we took advantage of the summer warmth.

After Sarah left for some "outlet" shopping, I asked the girls if they wanted me to fill the pool - they firmly responded they wanted me to set up the slip-n-slide instead.



It took zero coaxing. Allie, Anna and Emily were soaking wet in minutes. And Allie quickly learned why they call it a slip and slide!










Unlike other times when we have had the girls in the backyard, they kept playing and playing and playing....until it was time for a snack.



After about an hour or so, the girls started to ask me to fill the pool - they agreed to sit and eat something while the pool filled up. This year was a turning point in terms of them being comfortable in water and today was no exception as they wasted no time getting in!


Emily



Allie



Anna



So...a good day overall.

Running log: got back at it this past week after not running for almost two weeks (due to a cold and general lack of energy). Yesterday I did a local route which is about 5K flat. It wasn't too hot, but it was humid.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer weekend.

Halfway through the last unofficial weekend of summer: a little beach action, some overdue house clean-up and some good laughs!

Yesterday's visit to the beach didn't exactly go according to plan, but we did get a couple of hours on the sand before the day was done so it ws not a total flop.

Today was a somewhat typical weekend day in that Sarah got some much needed sleep while I took the girls with me grocery shopping. The afternoon took an odd twist, however, when Emily said she did NOT want to go with her mommy to the fabric store. So...Allie and Anna went with Sarah while Emily and I did a quick errand and then hung out together for about an hour and a half. I cannot remember the last time Emily and I had alone time! I really enjoyed it.

Having returned from The White Mountains (Storyland and Santa's Village) just a few days ago, we have also spent the last couple of days "catching up" - getting the van cleaned up, laundry done, re-stocking the refrigerator, etc.

During all this, in the back of my mind is my return to classes in a few days....ARGHHHHH!

Both Sarah and Grammy (my mother-in-law Sheila) captured our vacation to New Hampshire with some great pics:

The water coaster at Storyland



Anna behind the wheel of an antique car at Storyland


Friday, September 2, 2011

Reflections.

The phrase “life is short” certainly becomes more apparent as the years pass. Life is short, indeed. Yesterday marked a significant 22 year mark for me and as with every anniversary, I reflect on how things were, as well as how things have changed. In my early years, I recall speaking with a man with a great deal more experience and wisdom than I. Tom M. told me “it’s like being shot out of a cannon” when he was asked to reflect on him reaching the 20 year mark. Well I agree whole-heartedly, Tom!

Just twenty three years old at the time, I had been blessed with a gift that many are not given until they are in their 40’s or 50’s. Some never get the gift at all and die an early death, end up in jail or just spend their lives in a state of depression, chaos, misery and fear. I am grateful for being given the opportunity to walk a different path.

Pain and heartaches of the 22 years include canceling plans to marry (just months before the wedding), a divorce (to the same woman, yes), the passing of my 13 year-old niece Julie, and the death of my father the following year. Sitting next to Sarah while a nurse told us that our daughter Abigail had died before she was delivered is the deepest sadness I will ever feel, of course. I am grateful that I had a strong foundation on which to stand upon as I walked, sometimes ever so slowly, through the pain of these losses. The polar feelings of joy and happiness have of course been realized many times as well.

For me, the freedom I have allows me to experience all of the joys that life has to offer. Knowing that I am no longer bound by feelings of "less-than" or false pride, I am able to make healthy decisions for myself as well as to think of others. I completed my first marathon within five years of starting this journey. Places traveled include Key West, Italy, The Bahamas, and Yellowstone National Park. After many years single, I met my wife Sarah. And oh ya – I was in the delivery room with her when Alicenne Hope, Anna Abigail and Emily Blessing came into the world! I don’t think I ever felt as high as I did that day. EVAH.

So here I am, twenty two years later - older, but wiser. I continue to apply all that I have learned. Of all the lessons, I think the one that I adhere to most is Easy Does It. I know now that it is important for me not to rush into anything, whether it is a decision to buy a new set of furniture or the process of sorting out my emotions. Easy Does It. Remain grateful and things will be okay.

Another friend told me many years ago that if I’m having a bad day to go to bed early that day. That made a lot of sense to me. No need to go to bed early today, folks. Life is good, 22 years later.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Road Race Directors

Busy Fall days approach and I am deliquent with my blog posts. Oh well. Our lives are full in a good way so I will not utter a single moan of complaint!

We just returned from a fun-filled four day vacation in The White Mountains and I have a few cute video clips which I will share but I first wanted to share the clip below.

Allie's, Anna's and Emily's imaginations and creativity continue to blossom, giving Sarah and I great joy. A great example is from the afternoon when we returned from The Falmouth Road Race and the girls spent a solid two hours playing "road race" with their various toy characters. Most impressive was the fact that they had a wheelchair division in their imaginary races:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Finishing Falmouth - 2011.

I pounded downhill with the finish line in sight and with hopes of at least matching my strong finishing time of 2010. I knew I had at least attained one goal: keep my streak of consecutive completions of Falmouth going! With the addition of automated time tracking via a computer "chip" on runners' bibs, the finish line at the Falmouth Road Race does not have any of the finishing chutes common in smaller, local road races.

I had crossed the finish line of Falmouth 2011 and had done so in a very respectable time for my division!

My plan was to get hydrated, maybe grab a snack, and then walk back to meet Sarah and the girls just outside Falmouth Center on Main Street. Finishing Falmouth in under an hour has its benefits in that the field (where runner refreshments are handed out) is not too crowded. I did one loop of the field to see what was being offered and although the hot dogs were tempting, I maintained some control and passed on that item. I grabbed a frozen ice cream treat, a drink, a bag of Cape Cod potato chips and started the walk to meet my family.

Falmouth 2011 was a definite success in many ways - I had my best time finishing since 2003, I raised over $2,600 for the Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England (SPAGNE), AND I proved to myself that if I put the training in, I can run competitive times. Finding the time to train is the hard part with three little munchkins to care for, though. Maybe some day, like my brother Jack, I will run in the same race as one of my daughters. Maybe.

SBA

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Falmouth: the final three miles.

Although the last three miles of the Falmouth Road Race can be difficult for runners, it is also fun.

Knowing I only had one final obstacle to overcome with the hill at about the 6.7 mile mark, I felt fairly strong and was in good spirits as I turned right off Shore Street onto Clinton Ave. As usual, the crowds here energized me with their screams of encouragement – it was time to start looking for my family in that crowd!

In years past, a sister-in-law had watched the race from the right-hand side of Clinton Ave. so I kept my eyes over there and spotted Sue. We exchanged a quick greeting and I continued on, looking now to my left, very much anxious to see my daughters’ reactions when they saw their daddy. The crowd seemed deeper than usual along this part of the race, which makes it a little tougher to maintain pace and look for family without missing them. Fortunately, I caught sight of my mother-in-law Sheila about thirty feet out.

With my first Falmouth being about 15 years ago, my life was obviously different in 1996. In my early thirties and newly divorced, running had become a way to rediscover myself. Pounding the pavement for minutes or hours allowed me time to not only regain some fitness I had lost, but also to gain some much needed spiritual focus. The first few years running Falmouth were years spent building (and re-building) friendships, family, and self. Fifteen plus years later, I was now running Falmouth as a father to four year old identical triplet girls, father to an angel we named Abigail, and a husband to a strong and warm-hearted woman. This would be the third year my daughters would be watching me run, but the first year in which they had some clue as to what running a race was about. So…I had more reason to be anxious about seeing them.

A few minutes earlier I had grabbed a lei from a woman in the crowd who was passing them out to runners. My intention was to surprise Anna with the pink lei when I stopped to give her a kiss. As I approached my family, I saw Sarah holding Anna and they both had huge smiles on their faces – what a feeling! I got either a kiss or high-five from each of my daughters and was on my way to the mile 5 mark before Anna, Allie or Emily could figure out what their daddy was doing! With the adrenaline now on HIGH, I was ready to finish the remaining 2+ miles…



As I jumped back into the pack, I glanced back for another look at my family. With each strike of my Saucony treads hitting the pavement, I felt a sense of gratitude for what we had as a family. I also thought of Anna and how she can brighten a room with her warm heart and sweet voice. Even though working full-time, taking MBA level classes and being a husband and dad, while fundraising and training for this 7.1 mile race was difficult at times, I could not complain. How could I not run this race for Anna and all the other children (and adults) with spina bifida? My eyes began to water as I ran. I still do not know if the tears which wanted to flow were tears of gratitude, sadness or joy. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. Because the tears proved that I was running from my heart (literally and figuratively).

The sixth mile at Falmouth, which runs adjacent to Falmouth Inner Harbor, went by fairly quickly for me. And, given the fact that I always find mile 6 to be difficult, I was fine with that! The one thing I will say is that the whistle-blowing lifeguard runner who I had run alongside earlier in the race was back alongside me. Let’s just say that the whistle-blowing did not have the same positive effect it had on me during mile four…we turned right onto Falmouth Heights Road and I got ready for the last mile and a half. My pace had slowed slightly, but I knew I still had an opportunity to reach at least one of the goals I had set for myself. My wind was fine, but my legs began to feel a bit sluggish. The final hill was going to be tough.

The base of the hill is beyond the 6.5 mark – just as Grand Ave. turns left. Earlier the same day I had told a Falmouth first-timer “just remember - if you feel like you are going to vomit going up the final hill, you are not alone!” Similar to the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill, the final hill at Falmouth is placed such that it can really zap a runner if the runner is not ready for it. I was ready mentally, but I wasn’t feeling very confident in my body at this point in the race. Time to focus. I started the inner chatter: “take it little by slow…just get to the top…the finish is near…suck it up…”. I hit flat pavement. And then downhill. The enormous American flag came into view and the cheering of the crowds continued as I picked up the pace in hopes of reaching my goal…

Next post: final thoughts on Falmouth 2011.

KICKS COUNT

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Falmouth: Second 3rd of the Race

When I run Falmouth or any other race, I usually break the run into thirds. Having completed the first 1/3 of the race, it was now important for me to find a comfortable rhythm and go with it through at least mile 5. I was in that spot and felt good. The humidity seemed to have increased, but there was still decent cloud cover and the temperature seemed to be holding in the mid to upper 70’s.

Shortly after passing the mile 3 mark, the Falmouth Road Race comes out of the shade and out to the open air with the surf of the Atlantic ocean to the right of the runners. The majority of miles 4 and 5 are run on a flat stretch of Surf Drive – unfortunately in fifteen years running Falmouth I have never felt any beneficial breeze during this part of the race. What runners do benefit from is the energized crowd, however. Whether it is year-round residents or renters viewing the race for the first time, the crowd along Surf Drive is electric! And, sure enough, about ½ to ¾ along Surf Drive was a gentlemen with his amplified guitar belting out some tunes for us – thank you!

Knowing I would see my wife Sarah, my daughter Anna and the rest of my family shortly definitely was a huge help mentally at this point in the race. Long gone was the adrenaline of the start. Falmouth does not get easier with each mile – it gets tougher.

As we ran along the beach, I heard a loud whistle from behind me. And then another. A male runner (probably in his twenties) wearing a Falmouth Lifeguard t-shirt, had a whistle around his neck! He started blowing his whistle at the crowd and waving his hands to get the viewers to cheer. And cheered, they did! I generally do not feed off this type of stuff during a race, but I thought this guy was an original. His whistling and the crowd reaction helped push me along for the next mile or so. Thanks lifeguard “Joe”.

I continued along Surf Drive and just as Surf turns to the left and becomes Shore Street I heard a woman scream out “way to go Kathy from Accounting” “Kathy from Accounting – whoa!” Okay maybe her name was not Kathy, but given I have been a boring accountant for my entire career, I got a real kick (and boost) from this crowd-to-runner exchange. We now would approach the extremely loud DJ screaming names on the left hand side of the road. Another guy who has been there pretty much every year I have run Falmouth.

I was now at about the 4.5 mile mark and approaching the spot where I should start looking for my family and the reason why I was running Falmouth.

Next post: seeing my daughter Anna…


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Falmouth Road Race: The First Three Miles.

The starting line of the Falmouth Road Race is at the heart of Woods Hole, the home of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or WHOI. As described on their website, it is “the world's largest private, nonprofit ocean research, engineering and education organization”. Added to the history of the race, the caliber of runners, and the pure beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and Martha’s Vineyard on the horizon, you almost have to be a zombie if you are not pumped as a runner.

The national anthem begins and 10,900+ runners go silent out of respect.
The US Coast Guard does a flyover.

"Two minutes to the start of the 39th running of the Falmouth Road Race" The runners cheer.

BANG! They are off.

Off we go, a sea of runners – first over a narrow metal draw bridge, then up a small hill past store fronts on the right and a few residences and commercial properties on the left. And throngs of cheering, enthusiastic runners on both sides. Although I would not have family at the start this year, I am reminded of years past when both my mother and dad (God rest his soul) stood among the crowd near the start to cheer me and other family members on. After we passed by, my parents would get in their car and drive up further (close to mile 5) to cheer us on again. Memories like that make Falmouth special.

As I ran that first ¼ to ½ mile I looked to the left, as I always do, at the Atlantic Ocean with Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. I thought of my dad and I also thought of my niece Julie who had cystic fibrosis and for whom I ran in memory of in 2002. And I thought of our daughter Abigail for whom every run of mine is dedicated. And, I of course, I thought of our daughter Anna; I would run my hardest because Anna and many others with spina bifida are not able to run.

At about the ½ mile mark, the race turns right and down a hill into a shaded rolling terrain before opening to what I consider the most scenic part of the course – the approach to Nobska Lighthouse! The one mile mark is at the base of the hill to Nobska Lighthouse - I usually have a good feel at this point in the race of how the race will play out for me. And, given my age and experience with Falmouth, I know to run the course with humility, not cockiness. That is how I approached the hill at Nobska – with humility.

My time at mile 1 was under 8:30. I was happy.

As runners approach Nobska, it is almost a guarantee that the theme song from the movie Rocky will be blaring. And no, that song has not gotten old for this runner!

As I took in the scenery and the cheering crowd, I remembered John H. (a former work colleague) had told me that he would be rooting me along at Nobska. And, even though I was skeptical of spotting him, I made sure to look. Sure enough, I spotted John standing on the lawn in front of Nobska Lighthouse! This is a guy who I had not seen in about 8-9 years and I pick him out of the crowd. The best part is that he spotted me! We exchanged acknowledgements and down the hill I went with the last view of ocean for about another two miles.


I rode the emotional charge of seeing John for about the next ½ to ¾ of a mile before settling into a nice rhythm as I scampered through the wooded and rolling pavement of the next couple of miles. This part of the race can be difficult mentally due to the fact that there are not as many cheering people and runners have come down from the “high” runners often experience the first mile.



Both my second and third miles were @8:20 pace. This was good.




To be continued…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Falmouth Road Race: The Starting Line

The start:
Sometime after arriving at Woods Hole, I heard that the start of the race would be delayed 10 minutes - another first for this road race. Given the shuttle bus fiasco, it made sense to delay the start, but it was still unacceptable to me.

Given the number of runners at the start, it is normally somewhat challenging to find a comfortable spot for runners to rest their legs before finding a place in their designated starting corral. This year, however, I was able to plop down on a wall overlooking some of the docks. I sat and watched the runners pass while a photographer from MarathonFoto snapped pictures.

Falmouth is great in that there is a great variety of runners - from the world class elite professional runners to the weekend warriors. And, although many years removed from the party scene, I could relate to one conversation I overheard at the start: "Ya, my uncle is running the race drunk...he worked last night, starting drinking beers at @2:00 am this morning and switched to the hard stuff around 7:00." They were from Dorchester, Mass - think his uncle is Irish?

Anyway...I'm sitting there people watching and I see this younger guy (college age, maybe) all excited saying "Tedy Bruschi....Tedy Bruschi...I cannot believe it". So, sure enough, I see a group of about 6-7 runners appear, all wearing the same blue-colored singlets. And, sure enough, one of the runners was Tedy Brushi wearing an elite colored bib - #54! I did not approach him, but instead was entertained watching other runners react to seeing him, especially the female runners! Two "girls" were in line for the port-a-potty and they produced beaming smiles at the sight of him. Tedy gave a charming smile back while he got his iPod ready and he and the other Tedy's Team members moved on to their starting corrals. I have a feeling those girls still have those ear-to-ear smiles today!

Before I got on my feet, I was approached by a fellow runner who was also running for the spina bifida association. It was a nice light conversation, but also a good reminder of why I was really running Falmouth this year.

Off to my starting corral I went...

Since I have run Falmouth, the organizers have used a wave start, which is definitely necessary. A wave start in a road race is when start times are in “waves”. Rather than having almost 11,000 runners stampeding each other with the start of the race, runners are grouped according to their expected finishing times. As a major road race, Falmouth has a field of elite (really fast) runners who are placed at the front and begin their run about 10-15 minutes after the wheelchairs. Although this system works well, I have been told the course can still be quite congested for runners in the rear groups. I have been fortunate to be placed in one of the front groups each year so I can usually do my desired pace after getting through the first 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile.

Before getting to my corral, however, I had to get through an extremely congested area where runners were very close to pushing each other. It was ridiculous the way they had the entrances to the front corrals this year. Again, thank you for the change, New Balance.

Despite the frustration, standing elbow to elbow with the 10,000 other runners while our national anthem played and The US Coast Guard did a flyover, is a feeling which is almost indescribable. I was ready to run.

To be continued...the first few miles next post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Falmouth Road Race 2011

This past Sunday, I completed the 39th running of The Falmouth Road. And I am also proud to report that my time was a very respectable time for my age group - I finished ahead of almost 9,000 runners (there was almost 11,000 total) and ahead of about 1,000 in my division. Not bad for a middle-aged dad to triplets!

I have run the scenic, yet challenging 7.1 mile race every year since 1996 and as such I know the course and race logistics very well.

Saturday (the day before the race):

I didn’t run, but spent the mid-summer day with Sarah and the girls. We did some errands in the morning and then took Allie, Anna and Emily swimming in my brother’s above-ground pool in the afternoon. After putting the girls to bed, I was exhausted as I had not yet recovered from the effects of our drive to Michigan two weeks earlier. After phoning in our order for dinner from a local pub-restaurant, I plopped myself down on the back deck for a 5-10minute cat nap. I was zonked! I think I was in bed @10:15 Saturday night.

Sunday morning (race day):

Before I left the house, I had my regular bowl of cereal and then I gave Anna a kiss, said goodbye to Sarah and Grammy, and then I was out the door.

Experience has taught me that arriving for the buses which take the runners from Falmouth to Woods Hole at 8:45 works best for me. So I knew I had time to stop and get a small coffee for the drive to Falmouth. That is what I did. Unfortunately I only took three sips of the coffee because they decided to make a milk with coffee instead of a coffee with milk. This was not a good start to my day, but I decided I could survive without the java.

The drive to Falmouth was uneventful. The traffic I hit where Route 28 turns into one lane was a little more than I would have expected, but I was still on schedule. I parked the car at the designated spot where I was to meet Sarah, Sheila, and the girls after the race. I had put my bib on my singlet the night before and had my shorts and singlet on so I just changed from my flip-flops to my Saucony treads, locked the car, and slipped the car key into the tiny pocket in my shorts. I was ready for the 5-7 minute walk to the buses, fully expecting to get on a bus shortly after arriving at the school where the runners board.

Surprise! The line for the buses was ¼ mile long – no lie!

I got in line, watched it move (albeit very slowly) and then watched the line continue to grow. It was not moving fast. It started to become apparent something was wrong. In the fifteen years having run this extremely well organized race, there had never been a problem with the buses. The organizers have historically stressed to runners the importance of arriving before the LAST bus leaves at 8:45. It was obvious they would be lucky to get all the runners boarded on buses by 9:15.

Knowing the port-a-potty situation, I ducked out of line at the school where the buses were being loaded. It was then that I heard one of the volunteers announce that the runners could thank the new sponsor New Balance for the delay. New Balance had cut the number of buses shuttling runners from Falmouth to Woods hole from 70 to 40! What!?

At least the time waiting in line and the ride to Woods Hole passed somewhat quickly with a nice conversation with a mother from Florida with three young children. She was running Falmouth for the first time. We talked of race logistics, running, and what sports is like for kids today….

I think it was close to 9:40 by the time I stepped off the bus in Woods Hole. I would not have been surprised if there were 1,000+ runners yet to arrive to the start.

To be continued....Next post: more logistical nightmares, pre-race anticipation and a Tedy Bruschi sighting!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Suppoprt Verizon Workers.

After speaking to my brother, I was compelled to do a post about the Verizon worker strike which started this past weekend. I spoke to my frustrated and upset youngest brother yesterday after he had spent a couple of days on the picket lines. C is a member of the local IBEW and his frustration, combined with the information (or lack there of) in the media, made me decide to do my (small) part in getting the public to understand what is really at stake with the strike.

It happens that a story written by Tayrn Luna on boston.com better tells the story:

Claudia Slaney did something that many people would consider unthinkable in this economy: give up her paycheck.

She did just that on Sunday when she walked off the job, joining about 6,000 Verizon Communications Inc. employees in Massachusetts after the unions and the company failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The strike is unusual in its size - 45,000 people nationwide and one of the largest in a decade - and for its timing, during a period of historically high unemployment and concerns about another recession.

“It is a tough situation, but it would have been a lot harder if we didn’t do it,’’ said Slaney, a 41-year-old mother of four who made $1,200 a week as an administrative assistant. “If we gave in to their demands, we’d be without a job the next day.’’

The unions - the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America - are fighting to keep employee pensions, affordable health care benefits, and a clause that makes it more difficult for Verizon to lay off union workers. If that job security is wiped away, union members fear they will lose their jobs and the work will be outsourced overseas or shifted to company facilities in other parts of the country. A Verizon spokesman contends that would not happen.
Since Sunday, hundreds of striking workers have been picketing the downtown Boston building where they worked. They hold signs that read “IBEW Local 2222 on Strike Against Verizon’’ and chant slogans like “What do we want? Contracts!’’

Passing drivers have been honking in support, and the strikers respond with cheers. Other workers have picketed Verizon offices and stores throughout the region - even on Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 634.76 points.
If the strike lasts more than two weeks, CWA members will be able to tap a half-billion-dollar strike fund and receive $200, and then $300 each week after. The IBEW doesn’t have a strike fund.

That didn’t matter to IBEW members Kenneth and Lynn Caruso. They have been preparing for this day since the ink dried on the last contract in 2008. The couple, who met at Verizon, started tucking away $100 from each paycheck into an account they dubbed a “strike fund.’’

“Every time our contract comes up, there’s always that possibility of a strike,’’ said Lynn Caruso, 38, who is a service representative, while her husband is a central office technician. “We just want to have something to fall back on.’’
The Quincy couple said they started adding $150 to their strike fund a year ago after they bought a house; the Carusos, who have a 2-year-old daughter, pull in $1,600 a week. Their fund will cover two months of living expenses, including their mortgage, but after that they will have to tap into their 401(k) retirement accounts.

Other striking employees like Dennize Denton of Boston wish they had done more to prepare.

“The economy has been so bad you can’t save,’’ said Denton, as she picketed the downtown Boston Verizon building on Monday.

The 43-year-old single mother of three said she started applying for other jobs a few weeks ago and tried to pay off bills early. But with her son’s college tuition payment coming up, she realized even a day without pay is too long.
“If we get to two weeks, this line is not going to be as peaceful as it is now,’’ she said.

Tensions are already rising, with Verizon saying that service lines have been sabotaged in more than a dozen instances and that some nonunion employees have been assaulted by union members. Meanwhile, the unions reported that members in Amherst, N.Y., were hit by a car as a replacement worker attempted to drive through the picket line.

Verizon and the unions have been negotiating since late June. The big sticking points in the contract have been health care benefits, and preserving employee pensions and a layoff protection clause.

Gene Carroll, the director of the Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University, said Verizon’s contract proposals follow a 25-year labor relations trend of diminishing job security for the average worker. Some of the things the Verizon unions are asking for are no longer standard benefits in America, he said.
“Striking is not a common practice at all now,’’ he said. “It’s a risky strategy on the part of the union, and it’s also very courageous.’’

Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400 in New England, said the unions went on strike to force the company to negotiate on their demands.
“I don’t think this contract was going to be won by the bargaining team,’’ he said. “I think it was going to be won by the strength of our members, and I think Verizon underestimated that and the unity of the unions.’’

Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro said the company is looking for concessions because the recently expired contract was negotiated at a time when the landline division was faring better. The striking employees work for the landline division, which oversees the company’s telephone, Internet, and television service.
The number of landline customers has dropped nearly 60 percent over the past decade, to 26 million last year. At the same time, the number of cellphone customers grew to 94 million, according to Verizon figures.

Santoro said Verizon seeks to remove the layoff clause because it limits the company’s ability to reassign union employees to other cities when work shifts. Because of the contract clause, there have been “no layoffs of union employees in many, many years.’’ He added that fears that jobs would be outsourced are “baseless.’’

Passersby who watched the parade of workers surrounding the Verizon building in the Financial District shared mixed emotions about the work stoppage.
But Stefanie Archer, a 34-year-old Brandeis University MBA student, was impressed.
“It’s important that these [strikes] are organized well to show a threat, because big companies don’t get easily threatened,’’ she said.

Chuck Miller, a 32-year Verizon veteran who provisions circuits, was part of the 1989strike that lasted 17 weeks over similar issues.
The Charlestown man said his wife left the landline division after that strike and now works for Verizon Wireless. He fears the current strike could go on for months - even though both sides continued negotiations for the second day in a row yesterday.
“It’s tough,’’ said Miller. “I didn’t think we’d be here again, but we can’t go back.’’

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Triple strollers = Triple trouble?

As is the case with most households with young children, we experienced a serious toy explosion in our house over a two year period. Generous gift giving by family and three children of the same age definitely contributed to explosion. Sarah and I were, of course, also learning how to safely entertain and educate three toddlers at the same time. Should we buy three of these or one for them to share? No, we didn’t purchase three Little People Houses or three shopping carts. But we felt that if we could afford to buy some things in threes, we would. I think we are getting better at the decision-making process when it comes to discretionary spending on the kids, but I am more certain now that the sibling rivalry of “she took that…that is MINE…” will continue for years.

One item we did buy in quantity was a triple doll stroller from FAO Schwarz. A “bahgahn” as we say in Beantown - under $100 (delivered) for all three!

Since the girls got the strollers on their second Christmas, they have only been used sporadically - mostly because the handles are a bit high and our girls are small for their age. We have kept them in the basement with other toys that are rotated every week or two to keep them “fresh”. We also do the toy rotation in an attempt to get the girls to appreciate ALL the toys they have. We tell them often that many kids don’t get to play with so many toys.

This past weekend, for a variety of reasons, was a challenge in keeping the girls entertained/occupied. Rain, errands, and general grumpiness were all contributing factors. So, after the girls became bored (and somewhat frustrated) with riding their bikes one night after dinner, I suggested we take their “lovies” for a walk in the triple strollers. BINGO - they loved the idea! We had a nice walk up and down our street. The girls were so cute and funny.

Here is a little clip:



I must admit that while I walked alongside my daughters pushing the strollers, I had a “what if” thought. What if all three of our daughters gave birth to triplets! Ask my wife Sarah what she thinks about the odds of that happening! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On The Road Again.

We took a major road trip last week to visit some family on Sarah's side. "Major" in that we drove the distance to Michigan in one day, each way. That is almost 15 hours in the car each way, people! Sarah has several posts about our trip so I will take the easy way out tonight and direct you to her blog for details.

I was, however, able to pull together a few video clips of our playground fun as well as our visit to the Detroit Zoo:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is it hot enough for you?

I just received the following email from the organizers of a road race I am scheduled to run in a couple of hours:

We are getting tons of calls, emails questions. The race is still on. Yes, it's very hot and we want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable race - so please hydrate accordingly, cut back the pace if needed and come on down to the race and enjoy the ocean breeze (and water if you want to jump in).

Sincerely,
Race Organizers


I have been an avid runner for about 15 years now and do not recall having run a race on a day this hot. According to weather.com, the current temperature is 96 degrees and “feels like 103”. This ought to be interesting……

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.

Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.

In addition to short walks up and down our street, you came with us to the zoo.



You even traveled to Falmouth with mommy and us to watch daddy run the Falmouth Road Race.


But now mommy & daddy tell us that we are too big so they are going to find a new home for you. We are not sure if your new riders will attract as much attention as we did, but hopefully your new owners will love you as much as we did.


Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.
Love, Allie, Anna and Emily.




Note: Shortly after we purchased our wagon, Step2 stopped selling them. As a result the wagons were in high demand. Step2 has since started selling a slightly different version of the wagon again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Southie Reacts to Whitey's Capture.

The capture of Whitey Bulger on Wednesday is BIG news around here. With that, there are a ton of stories, interviews etc. on the news and websites. I watched a clip on boston.com, however which takes the cake. In the clip, staff from The Boston Globe (boston.com) ask South Boston (Southie) residents their opinion about Whitey being caught. I especially love one woman's comment that "...so what, he was a mobster...everyone has to have a job." Classic! Check out the
video.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in Virginia

I come from a BIG family. I have twelve siblings and twenty-something nephews and nieces. But, even with most of my immediate family residing in Massachusetts, Allie, Anna and Emily do not have cousins from my side of the family to play with since most of their cousins are much older than them (in their 20's and 30's).

My younger brother D and his wife A, however, have two boys closer in age to our girls(Clive will be two in September and Charlie is about six months) – this makes me happy! The fact that they don’t live in the area is not so great, though. They, like a few others in my immediate family, have found their way to northern Virginia. D made the move to Virginia over ten years ago and still resides there today. So…given we had yet to meet the newest member of D & A’s family, we decided to take a road trip down to see them over Memorial Day weekend.

Long story short is that we had a nice trip and it actually felt like a vacation, not just a trip. The weekend, among other things, included:

- A visit with a friend of Sarah’s (and their identical twin girls)!
- Some spray park and kiddy pool fun!
- A cookout!
- Playtime with Charlie and Clive!
- The National Zoo!

Here are some highlights:


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Gymnastics Show To Melt My Heart.

If you follow Sarah's blog (who doesn't, right?), you know our girls had their first "show" last weekend at a local gymnastics academy. Sarah did a great job as usual giving the low-down on that day - check out her post(s) here.

I will have to say that watching the girls perform in the show may have been one of the most emotional times for me since their birth. I have watched this video several times since the show and every time I put the video in motion, my eyes water.

They are all wearing pink leotards so...to spot Allie, look for a side ponytail. Emily has ponytails. And Anna, like Allie, had a side pony. Allie is lined up in the 1st row - far side, Emily is 2nd row - middle, and Anna is in the back row doing her thing!

One reason I get so emotional seeing the girls develop before my eyes is Anna's innocence. Anna gave 100% in the show, just like she does with everything else. Anna's HUGE heart is what makes me proud the most, though. Having a kind heart like Anna's (and Allie's and Emily's) is what is important to me, not so much how they "perform".



My sister, her husband and daughter attended the show also. Having other family members there (Grammy & Papa too) meant a lot to us as a family. You have to understand that my niece "J" had practiced gymnastics in the very same gym. "J" passed away due to complications from cystic fibrosis several years ago. She was only 13. This was the first time my sister and her family had visited the gym since their daughter had passed away. My sister told me they were all crying when they arrived at the gym and she also said they "saw J out there" during the show.

I am a man who believes life is about the moments. This day was a moment with strong emotions attached.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Abigail Ruth - June 4, 2006

Today is Abigail's birthday. Our daughter, our Angel, our Love. Words to describe my feelings have not come, and my heart is filled with longing.

As life moves forward, I think of ways in which I can "do something" about the fact that babies die all too often without an answer. Maybe I can be a voice for those babies and mothers who all too often sit on an island of emptiness for one day too many. Thankfully, stillbirths are slowly being recognized by states across the country. The news story below was forwarded to me from FirstCandle.

Bill creating certificate in stillbirth passes Pa. Senate

Posted: May 25, 2011 10:43 AM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2011 10:45 AM EDT
By Myles Snyder - emailHARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - The state Senate has unanimously passed legislation that allows parents to request a "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth" from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Senate Bill 326 would provide parents with documentation when a child is stillborn, according to Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, who sponsored the measure.

"Stillbirths are a tragedy for parents, and often times they feel no sense of healing or closure because there is no documentation of their child's birth," Corman said in a news release.

Parents would have the option of having the name of the child, the names of the parents and birthplace included on the certificate. The cost would be covered by the parent and would be the same as a death certificate.

Corman said at least 20 other states have adopted similar legislation.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

End Stillbirth

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maybe I Do Have Something Left in the Tank.

Given what I would consider sub-par running performances in road races over the past several years, I was starting to believe that I had lost my edge as a runner. I will not bore you with life events of the past 10 -15 years, but suffice to say that, like most people, my life has taken many turns over that time. And those changes have affected my running. Being single and in my thirties allowed for opportunities to train and post some good times in road races. For example, “back in the day”, I could generally run a 5K at a sub-seven minute mile pace and I even had a PR in a 10K with a pace below 7 minutes per mile.

That, of course was before we renovated a 100+ year-old house, Sarah’s two pregnancies, and four years of keeping up with triplets!

With a shift in priorities came a drop in finishing times at several races. I was now in my forties and had less time for running so I reluctantly resigned to thinking my days of “fast” times were over.

That was until last night when I ran the 3.5 mile JP Morgan Corporate Challenge (Boston) in just under 27 minutes. I know that is not a fast time, but hey, all factors considered, I think it is pretty darn good!

So…maybe there is something left in my running tank after all.

End Stillbirth

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

This post is a bit tardy in that Mother’s Day was a week and a half ago. But our daughters' cuteness factor does not diminish because of my tardiness, does it?

See Sarah’s post for detail on how we spent Mother’s Day. On Saturday, I took the girls to my mother's house for a visit - the girls had a blast! Here are a few highlights from both days:


Saturday, May 14, 2011

How is Your Running Form?

I am well aware that individual running form, just like a batting stance and a tennis serve, is going to vary by individual. However, there are specific things all runners can focus on to make their runs more efficient and enjoyable. Here are a few simple suggestions I have picked up over the years:

- Run erect – many runners, especially when weary, tend to lean their upper body forward. Keep your spine straight!

- Minimize upper body movement, especially the arms! Arms should be bent at the elbow with the forearms parallel to the ground.

- Imagine your lower body as a racing horse and our upper body as the jockey. Your legs should be doing the work. Your upper body is just along for the ride!

- Stay as loose as possible. Keep your shoulders dropped, not hunched up and do not clench your hands into fists – instead, imagine you are carrying a potato chip between your thumb and index finger.

Run Strong.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A feel good kind of day.

Today is my birthday and I guess I could have posted a self indulgent post about my life, but I am a sucker for “feel good” stories, so I decided to share a feel good story instead.

Preface: I went to the Red Sox – Minnesota Twins (or Twinkies as I have heard them referred to as) game last night at Fenway Park. And, during last night’s game, I got to see Jonathan Papelbon, arguably the best closer in baseball, pitch. Because of his pitching style and personality while on the mound, “Pap” can come across as a tough guy.

The following story was retrieved from boston.com earlier today:

Papelbon also does long relief (by Kevin Cullen)

Patrick Mahoney, a master’s student at the University of New Hampshire, was cycling home last October when a car knocked him off his bike. He hit his head and it was bad.

Don and Mary Mahoney were home in New Jersey when they got the call: Their son was in a coma. They dropped everything and headed up to Boston, where Pat was fighting for his life at Massachusetts General Hospital.

One of Mary’s oldest friends, Mary Mallon, heard about the accident and called her cousin, a priest in Mississippi. His name is the Rev. Tommy Conway, and Mary Mallon asked him if he remembered that couple from New Jersey he had met at a cookout years ago. Father Tommy has a memory like an elephant, and he described them head to toe.
“Well,’’ Mary Mallon said, “I want you to pray for their son, Patrick, because he’s in a bad way.’’

“Where is he in hospital?’’ Father Tommy asked.

“Boston,’’ Mary Mallon said.

“Where are his parents staying?’’ Father Tommy asked.

When he heard they were staying at a hotel, Father Tommy said, “That won’t do.’’ He hung up, and before he said a prayer for Patrick Mahoney he made a phone call for Don and Mary Mahoney. He called Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox closer, one of his parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas in Hattiesburg. Father Tommy baptized Jonathan and Ashley Papelbon’s kids, and he asked a question to which he already knew the answer.

“It was the offseason, Jonathan and Ashley were here in Mississippi, and so I knew their place in Boston was empty,’’ Father Tommy Conway said. “As soon as I explained the situation to Jonathan, he said straight away, ‘They can use our place.’ I never got the question out. Jonathan beat me to it. Which, knowing him, is what I expected.’’

That was the easy part. The hard part was getting Don and Mary Mahoney to take up the offer.

“They were very reluctant; they felt they were imposing,’’ Father Tommy said. “But Jonathan and Ashley insisted. They didn’t want the Mahoneys to go broke taking care of their son. Jonathan and Ashley are parents, and they knew if they were in the same situation, they would want to be by their child’s side.’’
Mary Mahoney was overwhelmed.

“We’re strangers,’’ she said. “They didn’t know us. They didn’t know anything about us. But they trusted Father Tommy.’’

So the Mahoneys of Cranford, N.J., moved into the Papelbons’ spacious, gracious condo on Beacon Street.

“It was unbelievable,’’ Mary Mahoney said. “We could walk to Mass. General to see Pat every day. Then he was transferred to Spaulding Rehab, so we walked there every day. We were there for months. It’s a beautiful place.’’

By the time Opening Day rolled around last month, Patrick was ready to be transferred to a rehab facility in New Hampshire. Papelbon and his family were still on the road by the time the Mahoneys left. “We still haven’t met them face to face,’’ Mary Mahoney said. “Ashley stays in touch. She wants to know how Pat is doing.’’

The Mahoneys told me this story because they know of no other way to repay the Papelbons for their kindness to total strangers. “They wouldn’t want the publicity,’’ Father Tommy was saying. “I could talk to you the rest of the day about the people here in Mississippi that Jonathan and Ashley have helped. And they’d be mad at me for telling you that, so I won’t. They’ll be mad I’m talking to you about this, but there you go.’’

Pat Mahoney has made great progress. His doctors say it’s a miracle. But that’s not the only miracle. “We were always Mets fans,’’ Mary Mahoney said. “But I told Ashley, we’re really Red Sox fans now. And we really are. Ashley loved it.’’


Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist.

It's nice to read a story about a professional athlete who thinks of other people besides himself, isn't it?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crazy Toddlers in Hats

Last weekend, while Sarah was doing the girls' annual turnover/conversion of clothes, she pulled out various hats that we forgot we had. So the girls, of course, did some fashioning of the hats. I caught some of the fashion show on video. Anna was hilarious:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bryam Healthcare Response.

As promised in a previous post, I am posting the response I received from Bryam Healthcare regarding a recent order to replenish a supply of catheter kits for our daughter Anna. You will probably agree that a good word to describe their response is L A M E! They responded via email, of course - they took the easy way out:

Good Morning, I received your e-mail in reference to issue with order on catheters and backorder.

I researched Anna’s Account and I apologize that you were not notified of the backorder. Byram’s Policy is to inform the customer either at the time the order is placed or if does not show at the time the order is processed then receiving a call or
e-mail from the representitative to inform of backorder.

I have notated your daughters account for you and your wife to be notified at once if a backorder occurs in the future so this does not happen again.

We appreciate your business and value you as a customer and hope this incident does not reflect your option of using another provider.

Any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at

1-800-234-1779 Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm standard time.

Thank you,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spitting Image.

As the father of all girls, I obviously will not be consulted by our children on as many things as Sarah will. Sure, the girls may get an interest in a sport which I may be able to coach them on – the proper way to throw a softball or how to do a lay-up in basketball, for example. I will not be the “go to guy” for most tasks, however.

Sure, I can put the girls’ hair in ponytails. When Anna says “Daddy, I want a barrette in my hair”, I can handle that. The ponytail may come undone or the barrette may need to be adjusted, but I can get those jobs done. If the girls’ hair needs to be washed, sure I can do that. I am however, fully aware that as Allie, Anna and Emily move into adolescence, they will be going to mommy about all things girlie.

Keeping this in mind, I try to be a dad whenever the opportunity presents itself, even if it is just teaching my girls how to spit! That is correct; my role as mentor the last week or so has been teaching my girls the correct way to spit! Well, technically it is rinsing, but telling them that I am teaching them how to spit after brushing their teeth just sounds like so much more fun!

The decision to start conducting spitting clinics was made after the girls’ recent visit with the dentist. Because swallowing fluoride toothpaste could cause them to have an upset stomach, they need to get used to rinsing and spitting before we move them to fluoride toothpaste (they have been brushing with Orajel non-fluoride training toothpaste). So…last Saturday as the girls and I were getting prepared to do some errands, they asked what we needed at the store. I said “we need little cups so you guys can start learning how to spit after you brush”. That was all they needed to hear! At the grocery store, I pulled some Dixie brand bathroom cups off the shelf and Emily said “are these so we can spit, Daddy?” Yes, Emily.

That night, and every night since, they get all excited about standing in front of the bathroom mirror (on a stool, of course) to practice “spitting” with me. This is a job for Daddy, not Mommy. As Sarah told the girls last night “…no, I don’t know how to spit, daddy has to show you…” They get so proud of themselves too. After they spit, they go directly to Sarah and say “Mommy, I did it, I spit!”

The little pleasures of being a father take me a long way. Who would have thought spitting could be such a joyous thing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dear Byram Healthcare.

Both Sarah and I are pissed off right now - See Sarah's post about the issue we are having with Byram, the company which supplies us with catherization kits for Anna. I thought I would share the email I sent to them. I'll be sure to post a follow-up. Although, based on our experience, I wouldn't doubt it if I do not receive a response. Here is the edited version of my email to Byram:

Good afternoon,

My name is Richard _______. My wife Sarah and I are the parents of Anna ______. Anna has spina bifida, and along with other needs, she needs to be catherized 5 - 6 times per day to prevent infection.

This email is to communicate our frustration and anger with the customer service (or lack thereof) we received with our most recent order of catherization kits.

As I have done for well over two years now, I went to Byram's online "Reorder Supplies" page and placed the same quantity order of Apogee Cath Kits that I have been ordering all along. I placed the order on Thursday April 14 or Friday April 15. From experience with prior orders, I expected the order to arrive in two to three buiness days. Monday April 18 came - no cath kits were delivered. Tuesday - nothing. Wednesday nothing. We had a family emergency Tuesday morning so my attention was diverted to my family. I called your customer service line on Thursday April 21 (around 8:00 pm?) to get a status of the order. This is the point at which Byram failed.

The representative informed me that the cath kits were on backorder and would not be delivered until at least Wednesday, April 27! Really!? And why hadn't we received a phone call or email telling us that? Byram distributes medical supplies to individuals like my daughter, who need them. After explaining that this was unacceptable and we only had enough kits to get us through the weekend, the representative basically told me "my supervisor is gone for the day - we will see if we can find some to send out to you tomorrow - sorry".

I called Byram the next day (Friday, April 22) and was told a "sample suppply" of 30 kits was mailed. On Monday, after contacting Anna's doctor to see if he had any kits, I called Byram again. This time I spoke with "E", who was very helpful. However, he pointed out to me two issues:

(1) the samples were not expected to arrive until Wednesday, April 27, which was too late and
(2) the backorder of Apogee kits would not be ready until May 27!!!

"E" was helpful in that he found a replacement kit made by another company - these kits were available and he agreed to replace the backordered Apogee kits with kits from Coloplast.

I write this email on Tuesday April 26 having not yet received any catherization kits from Byram and having only enough kits to catherize my daughter Anna today. If I had not been able to get a few kits from Anna's doctor, we would not be able to catherize Anna today.

What irks me the most about our situation is that it should not have happened.

I think we at least deserve answers to the following questions:

1.Why were we not informed of the backorder immediately?
2.Why didn't Byram offer the alternative kits when the Apogee kits were on backorder?
3.And finally, knowing we were out of kits, why wasn't the supply of 30 kits sent to us overnight or next day delivery?

We can be reached via this email address or home phone. Your attention to this email will factor into our decision(s) with regards to obtaining catherization kits in the future.

Regards,
Rich _____