Happy Graduation

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A quick post here about a recent event we are especially proud of. Sam graduated from Bowdoin College on Memorial Day weekend, and we could not be any more proud of him. The rain stayed away and despite some cool temperatures, the outdoor graduation went off without a hitch. Bowdoin College has been an exceptional four-year experience for Sam, and we are proud to be able to call him a Polar Bear.

It really does seem like only yesterday when we were dropping him off as a freshman, but it’s already been four years, and a lot has happened since. Ignore the cancery old man on the right, and admire the happy and gorgeous rest of the family to the left.

Can you guess which one is Sam? None of us know where he gets the tall genes, but he’s always been a big (and kind, and smart, and athletic, and genuinely nice) boy. Jack (10) is growing up too, and if he follows in Sam’s footsteps even slightly (and he has already started), then we’ll all be thrilled. The two of them are exceptionally tight as siblings, and we love to see them interact. Sam’s going to be home for the summer before heading off to work in NYC, so we’ll all have some time together – that’ll be good.

My lovely, lovely Lori… what can I say? She is the most caring and loving mother and wife that one could ever imagine. She is so strong in times of adversity, and she always knows what to do and say at the right moment to make you feel safe and loved. Obviously the boys benefit tremendously from this, but so do I.

Happy Graduation!

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Last Hurrah…

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Wasn’t it just last fall we were dropping Sam off at Bowdoin College for the first time and helping him settle into his freshman dorm room? Time sure does fly… just like that, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, he’s already almost halfway through his senior year. We have thoroughly enjoyed our weekend visits to Brunswick to see Sam and cheer his rugby team – they’ve come a long way as a team and a program over the past few years, with this fall season being one of the most successful in a long while. As a coach myself, I always appreciate seeing a group of young people coming together with a shared goal, so I was very proud to see Sam play an integral role in the evolution of the Bowdoin rugby program – both on the field and off.

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As the President of the club and a senior, he has provided strong leadership and organization off the field, and as a player he has consistently given his all. Sam knows that he can be proud of what he helped accomplish within this group, and that the recent foundation he and his classmates have built ensures that the rugby program at Bowdoin has a bright future. I’m glad that his last hurrah was with a group of guys that he has such a strong affinity with, and I’m glad that he got to experience what it feels like to be a part of a true team.

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A semester abroad

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Sam’s studying abroad this semester, so he’s missing out on all of the growing up changes we are seeing with Oliver (and Jack). He’ll be back home in the states just in time for his birthday in May, but in the meantime, we’ve been making do with Skype sessions to keep in touch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the ability to use your phone/computer to video call with someone halfway around the world in real time… that’s quite sci-fi and very Star Trek like.

He’s a Government and Economics major at Bowdoin College here in Maine, so the time spent in Europe studying and visiting many of the important political institutions will give him a better understanding of how part of the world’s economy works. He’s based in Freiburg, Germany, but what’s especially cool about his semester abroad is that he travels to a lot of places as part of his study program.

So far he’s been to Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Basel and Paris… and in the next few weeks he’ll be visiting Paris (again), Barcelona, Geneva, London, Tallinn and Munich. He has seen places like the Bundestag, the Louvre, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the European Central Bank – now that’s pretty cool. Here are a couple of photographs from his travels…

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Supporting the big brother

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We’ve had the good fortune of seeing quite a few of Sam’s Bowdoin College rugby games this season, and there’s no-one more excited about cheering for the Polar Bears than Jack. His big brother plays the game hard, and as you can see from the color of his uniform, he isn’t afraid to mix it up and get involved in the game. We’ll miss seeing Sam play in the spring – he’s heading overseas for a semester abroad – but we’re all eager for next fall to come around when he’ll be playing his senior season. Senior season!?! Wow… where does the time go!

Gentlemen playing a hooligan’s game…

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The title of this blog post describes the sport of rugby, and although the origin of the quote might be difficult to trace, if you were to watch a game in person, it wouldn’t be all that hard to understand why the game was described as such. Standing on the sideline close enough to hear the bone-crushing tackles, the normally secret sounds of the game, and the thunder of the traveling pack… that’s when you truly get a feel for the game. Between the lines, rugby is an incredibly physical and highly demanding team sport, one that requires a willingness to both give, and accept, a level of physical abuse that borders on barbarism… all in the name of stopping your opponent, gaining possession, and advancing the ball down the field.

As with most team sports, the concept is really quite basic… one ball, two teams each defending their own territory, and, within a given a set of rules, one team trying to get the ball into the area the other is defending. Sounds simple, eh? When the whistle blows, rugby players engage in what looks like a violent battle, apparently willing to rip each other apart to help their team win. Even as the carnage ensues though, traditionally there is still an air of honor and civility afforded the opponent. Like someone once said… gentlemen playing a hooligan’s (or thug’s) game.

In his youth, Sam played just about every sport, dabbling in soccer, basketball and even football, before he settled on baseball as his chosen sport. Growing up playing sports myself, and still coaching soccer today, I totally get the lessons to be learned and values to be shared by being part of a team, so when Sam arrived on campus at Bowdoin and embraced not only the sport of rugby, but also the group of guys he got to hang out with, we were very pleased for him. Most of us have an innate desire to belong, and as a parent seeing their child leave the house and take a step into a brand new world filled with strangers, we have been thankful for the welcome he has received from his rugby playing friends (and the Bowdoin College community in general). Being passionate about whatever you do in life is one of the most important traits any individual could have, and as we spent a bright, spring morning proudly watching Sam (#5) and his friends play rugby, it was very obvious how much this game – and his teammates – meant to him. Go Polar Bears!

They grow up so fast, don’t they?

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I haven’t been able to spend much time on the blog lately. Between taking care of work obligations, preseason soccer practices, and Sam getting ready to go to college, you can imagine that things have been pretty hectic around here.

Today was a big day. This was the day we drove Sam to Brunswick so he could begin his academic career at Bowdoin College. All sorts of emotions were flowing freely throughout the day, with moments of excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead for him intertwined with profound moments of sadness as we realized that he will no longer be a part of our every day. We had become accustomed to him getting up “early” at 9am in the summer months and wandering downstairs looking for breakfast, and at some point during each day we could always rely on seeing all 6’4″ of him sprawled out on the living room floor playing Playmobil with Jack. We already miss hearing his bedroom door creak open late at night as he would come wandering downstairs for a snack, and who’s now going to mow the grass?

He will always will be our baby, but we have watched him grow into a strong and confident young man whom we are very proud of. He is an amazing big brother, and even though each of us already misses him terribly, we are all genuinely excited about what is the beginning of a new and wonderful adventure for him. Cliche I know, but it seems like only yesterday that we were carrying him in a backpack, pushing him in a stroller, and laughing at how he would almost immediately fall asleep when we put his oversized helmet on and strapped him in to his bike seat.

With all of his most treasured belongings deposited in the new dorm room, hugs and kisses were generously shared, and then it was time for him to join all of the other freshmen eager to begin their first year experience. As he walked away, his little brother Jack (6) sighed, turned to Lori and with wisdom beyond his years said… “They grow up so fast, don’t they?”

Popham Beach State Park

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Probably the coolest beach in Maine, Popham Beach State Park isn’t your standard sand and surf spot. With over 500 acres of salt marshes, forest, sand dunes and tidal flats, this is an absolutely spectacular section of Maine’s coastline. Part of what makes this particular shoreline so special is how at low tide a broad, expansive beach with pools of warm swimming water is revealed. Timed right, a visit to Popham exposes an ever-shifting sandbar that provides exciting access to explore and enjoy the distant and rocky Fox Island. The views all around from the beach are exceptional, with Seguin Island and its 53ft high granite lighthouse serving as a wonderful backdrop to the scene.

Jack took to the water like a fish, and the temperatures were perfect. He was experimenting with his boogie board, and with the gentle rolling waves the setting could not have been more kid-friendly. Everyone probably got a little too much sun, but what a way to spend a late summer Saturday in Maine! The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were awesome, and after lunch we wandered back to Brunswick for some ice cream and to get another peek at Bowdoin College with Sam. We have just over a week now until he reports as a freshman, so the plans for moving in and making living arrangements with room mates are in full swing. I am sure that we will be visiting him often, so perhaps there will be a few boogie boarding side trips to Popham in the works too!