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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Bigshot Camera

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Trying to come up with creative gifts for Jack at Christmas time, I stumbled on the Bigshot camera – billed as ‘the camera for education”, it is a really cool concept and I jumped at it immediately. For any educator interested in combining science, math, engineering and, most importantly, the arts – this one’s for you!

The enormous appeal of the camera can be used to turn it into a compelling tool for learning. We believe that a camera designed for education must have three features. First, it should be designed as a kit for assembly – putting the kit together should expose the user to a wide range of science concepts. Second, it should include features that cannot be found in other cameras, allowing the user to explore new creative dimensions. Finally, it should be low-cost, making it accessible to the less privileged. Bigshot has been designed with these goals in mind. There is another important feature that sets Bigshot apart from virtually all educational kits – once you have built it, it is a fully functioning digital camera that you can use everyday!

Basically, you purchase a kit for making your very own fully functioning digital camera, and along the way as you assemble the camera, you explore and learn about a variety of technical and creative processes that go into the ultimate expression of making a photograph.

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It was on one of my short stays in the hospital getting hydrated that Jack and Sam took on the task of assembling the camera…. needless to say, it was the most amazing surprise and the perfect moment when I learned about their little adventure together. I love that they spent the time together to make the camera so that it would finally get done – Jack and I had been meaning to get to it but as you can tell, time got away from us a little bit! Great little camera that you crank to generate your own power, and has a lens wheel that allows all sorts of creative possibilities like panoramic, 3D, wide angle… so much fun, and when you roll in the level of ownership applied to the entire process, then we have an absolute winner.

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The accompanying web site resources are excellent, and they really aid in the educational aspect of this project. I hesitate to call it a project – makes it sound a little sterile and maybe too much like school – but I know that both Jack and Sam had a blast putting the camera together, and I’m very proud of my little scientist/engineer/photographers. Well worth the investment if you have a little one interested in learning more about science, digital photography and creative expression. Bigshot Camera.

 

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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I vant to suck your blood

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So… obviously Jack decided to be a vampire for Halloween this year, and although it’s maybe even a “normal” choice for this event, I’ve been trying to figure out why he chose this path. I know it’s not because of the pop culture craze for all things fanged that we’re currently mired in – as a third grader with parents who kinda keep an eye on what he reads and watches, he hasn’t seen anything True Blood or Twilight related – so what’s the deal? My best guess is that since both Jack and Sam grew up watching Count von Count doing his number thing on Sesame Street, maybe that’s what got him excited to be a vampire. Although I can’t remember if the line, “I vant to suck your blood” was ever really uttered, I do know that we would all use it enthusiastically when trying to scare each other with corny stories about blood-sucking vampires. I guess vampires are just iconic in nature and cool – blood, slicked back hair and an awesome cape… what’s not to like?

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!