Friday, September 16, 2011

Harbor Seals at Boston Aquarium.

The Harbor Seal outdoor exhibit at the New England Aquarium is one of the classic Boston "freebies" ... and has been around since I was a toddler. It is a must for anyone visiting the area ... (well, the whole aquarium is really) ... and Halis and I were excited to be able to share it with Isaac ... just as our parents shared it with us so many years ago. And believe me, it hasn't changed at all ... (except maybe the seals). With all the wonderful changes and additions to the aquarium, we were happy to find that some exhibits there have proven timeless ...

... and watching Isaac enjoy the seals ... in the same ways that we did at his age ... was priceless ...

Look at that laugh (can't you hear it?). Love it!

I hope you enjoy a wonderful belly laugh today too :)



Monday, September 12, 2011

SHARKS ... make me happy.

I cannot begin to tell you just how much I love sharks ... have ALWAYS loved sharks. My first visit to the Nashua Public Library was so memorable for me because it was the first time that I could look at loads and loads of shark books without anyone else looking on (my Mom was not so enthusiastic about my shark fixation). Though I was young enough that I couldn't read all the "big kid" words ... the pictures were enough to satisfy me ... and I can still see those very pictures in my mind's eye. Jacques Cousteau? Yes ... my hero! Shark Week? Yes please! It is nearly a religious experience for me to sit down to some new Discovery Channel shark specials. Jaws? Booooo (sharks are not nearly so villainous)!

I remember the delicious fear and respect I had when I saw my first shark at the New England Aquarium in Boston. I was about 5 or 6 ... visiting there with my parents, their friends, and my little brother. And in the enormous 200,000 gallon Giant Ocean Tank ... I watched from a thick, giant viewing window as a large shark swam by ... mouth agape ... razor sharp teeth ... and seemingly within inches of my face. I was scared and awe struck at the same time. And I get that same feeling today ... I love them ... but have this healthy fear of them that quickens my breath ... and raises the hair on the back of my neck. But it is a feeling I relish ... and have been lucky enough to experience at several aquariums along the East Coast ... Sea World, Mystic Aquarium, Saco Aquarium, ... and several returns to the New England Aquarium.

And now ... this past week ... I was able to take my own boy to that wonderful place ... to share my passion for all creatures of the ocean ... but most especially to share with him the opportunity to pat a shark in the new Shark & Ray Touch Tank at the New England Aquarium!

Let me first tell you that when I told my son of our upcoming visit to the aquarium ... he protested. He WAS NOT GOING. Period. See, if I LOVE something ... like Star Wars ... he will hate it just to oppose me (though he will secretly watch the entire Star Wars trilogy over and over again and can answer just about any question you may have on the subject). My love for the ocean, and especially for sharks, is well known around here and often the main subject at any dinner gathering ... so he would have none of it.

Even as we arrived at the aquarium ... he was still protesting. He was NOT going to touch a shark. And he was NOT going to enjoy the aquarium. He was just going to "get it over with".

Upon entering the aquarium, it is the first exhibit you walk into ... and though it is really so very simple ... a petting zoo for sharks and rays ... it was AWESOME. And as you will see by the following pictures, I was NOT the only one to think so ...

Seriously ... this kid could not break away from this exhibit. And I didn't want to either. Yes, the sharks are harmless and small ... but there is something so wonderful about being able to get so close to something so wild and so primitive ...

And then there was the thrill of being able to wait patiently for the shy and elusive Bonnethead (you can see it here) and Epaulette sharks to swim up to us. As seen from the first picture, Isaac (and I) was able to touch one. And after being told that it was a rare privilege in that touch tank for the Epaulette sharks to allow you to touch them ... we couldn't resist trying again and again.

Here is the Epaulette ... shown above ... and if you have a chance to learn about them ... do! They are amazing little creatures. They can even breathe air out of water for a short period of time ... and can use their dorsal fins to "walk" across wet sand to nearby tide pools. How many sharks can say that!?

So, after touring the entire aquarium (additional pictures to come in future posts) , Isaac and I went back for more of the sharks and rays ...

and it paid off ...

And though he will tell you that he does not like sharks, and that he did not love the aquarium ... the truth is, he absolutely loved it ... did not want to leave ... and asked if we could move there to work at it. Though again, he will deny all of this. But tell him you are about to leave to go to the New England Aquarium ... and he will beat you to the car to join you!

It was absolutely wonderful and I highly recommend it. I think it is perfect for showing kids and adults that sharks and rays are mostly harmless (100 shark attacks a year is chump change and a risk worth taking in my humble opinion). I think hearts and minds can be changed with exhibits like this ... and I am so thankful for them.

So, thanks NEAQ. You guys rock! And thank you for making sure that everyone handles the animals with care.



P.S. To see more pics from this part of our Boston Adventure, click here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Boston: Museum of Science: Isaac's First Visit!

This past week, our little family took a much needed trip to Boston. "Much needed" in the sense that we needed to get away for a while, just us three, to take a break from the chaos of our lives and simply enjoy one another. But also "much needed" in the sense that Mama needed to revisit the city of her childhood ... the city that my Dad took us to whenever we needed a bit of culture, some interesting foods, music, museums, and whenever we just needed to be surrounded by people of all kinds. My Dad and I are kindred spirits ... and Boston feels good to us.

I took Meaghan to Boston when she was 6 (still searching for the pics of that trip) ... taking the train in from Lowell ... for a visit to the New England Aquarium. It was a wonderful day for us ... and I figured it was time to do the same for Isaac.

But instead of one day ... we took a vacation of three days. One day for each place that I wanted to share with my boy. Day one? The Museum of Science.

As a child, I loved the Museum. As a young adult, I found it boring. As a Mama, I fell in love all over again. Such a huge place full of rich history and exciting innovations.

Here is a bit of what we saw/did:

First stop ... Theatre of Lightning ... one of my favorite exhibits from childhood ... and as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. But not one of Isaac's favorites. Very loud and a bit over his head. But interesting (again) for both Daddy and me.

Then, a bit of the old space exhibits that we parents also remembered from our childhood ...

R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker never get old. And since Isaac is a recent convert to the whole Star Wars trilogy ... this was a super cool find for him.

Sometime after space ... we went over to the Evolution, Human Birth and Anatomy sections. These were my favorite! Skeletons that showed the evolution of the human species ... various animal brains in jars (beluga whale brains are awesome!) ... a whole exhibit on reproduction that was so well done ... baby chicks hatching in a hatchery for all to see ... WAY COOL.

And as part of the whole Human Evolution exhibit ... there were Tamarin monkeys ... live ones. So adorable and fun to watch. And I swear to you ... on pain of death by flying monkeys ... that we (all three of us) witnessed two Tamarins totally making out. Like for real making out. Lips to lips ... smooching. Then they would preen each other ... then cuddle ... then smooch ... and repeat. It was awesome.

Why Tamarin monkeys? Well, I don't think we got that far, but the website reads: "Ancient stone tools, poisonous plants, DNA, fossil skulls, and tamarin monkeys all have something in common: they are all clues that help explain why all life on Earth, including humans, evolves over generations." So if you are interested, check out their site and search for the connection.

Later ... after skipping around to various exhibits (we had only a few hours so did much skipping about to the exhibits we knew were a must see) ... we found ourselves among dinosaurs!

The above dino is Cliff, who is apparently a big deal. He is one of only 4 nearly intact Triceratops skeletons in the world.(I am loving the picture I took of him!) As I looked over his bones, while Halis and Isaac were goofing about somewhere else, I found myself wondering how some people, in order to keep to their religion, have decided that all the skeletons/fossils of dinosaurs are a hoax. Apparently they need to believe this in order for the Christian bible timeline to make sense. I wondered how on earth anyone could pull off such a global hoax ... and how people could believe that these bones were planted all over the world for archaeologists to feign the discovery of them. I wondered this in part because I once had a friend who truly believes that dinosaurs were created as a global hoax to usurp Christianity. ANYWAY ... while I was wondering all that ...

Isaac was simply enjoying them. :)

There was so much to see all around us ... and so little time (we will definitely go back!). There were so many exhibits that we enjoyed but did not get any pictures of. A fave that comes to mind is the new X-Ray exhibit ... where Daddy showed Isaac the x-rays of various animals with various ailments.

I found this amazing rock ...

Anyone know what is called? It is gorgeous. I want to wear it all over me!

I also found this enormous piece of artwork that called to me ...

I think I may try to recreate this in some way ... on a much smaller scale ... and with paper :)

Here - for whatever reason - was one of my favorite interactive sections of the museum ...

I think I would also like to recreate this in our home too! What a simple, yet brilliant way to learn about birds! Oh, and I just have a thing for silhouettes :)

This was Isaac's favorite ... and I really think he could have spent hours at it ... watching the mechanics at work ...

At one point, there were at least a dozen kids watching this piece ... and I think Isaac loved it as much for the social interaction as he did for the mechanics of it. That's my boy.

And at the very end of our visit, I remembered the bees! The bees that I was mesmerized by as a child ... so Halis and I made sure to run Isaac up to the top floor to catch a glimpse. And it was worth it ... once again ...

So, there ya have it ... a glimpse of what we enjoyed during our first Boston day. We missed quite a bit at the museum ... so now have an excuse to return ... that and we want to do an overnight in the museum! I want to live out the adventures of Claudia and Jamie ... just as I heard them when I was in 3rd grade :) Have you ever done such a thing?

Although we weren't able to explore any one exhibit in the depth that it deserved, we now have some starting points for homeschool discussion and exploration.

Day Two? The Aquarium! And it was AWESOME! Will post more asap. Thank you for reading & sharing with us.


Jodi & Family

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"A Night On Broadway" at Next Generation Theatre.

Thanks to my amazing friend Tricia Kenny, of CK2 Photography, my son is now a "theatre kid" ... at Next Generation Theatre ... and loving every minute of it! This past summer, he starred in their cabaret musical, "A Night On Broadway" ... and blew me away with how dedicated he was. At 6 years old, he had yet to be away from Mom for more than an afternoon at Grandma's ... and then for 3 weeks, he went to theatre day camp every day from 9-1 ... without Mom or Grandma ... and felt absolutely safe and gloriously happy. He made wonderful friends, he learned to sing and dance, and he was surrounded by really great people whom I trust with his sensitive nature. It was so good for both of us. I needed to learn to let go a bit ... and he thrived in it.

He was involved with the following scenes/songs: Consider Yourself (Oliver), Seasons of Love (RENT), Lullaby of Broadway, You Can't Stop the Beat (Hairspray), Twenty Million People (My Favorite Year) ... and our favorite ... ME AND MY SHADOW ... with Conor Kenny ...

WOW. I never knew he had it in him ... but he loves to perform ... and is thrilled to be able to hang with the big kids, etc. I was so worried about stage fright, not fitting in, etc... but there was nothing to fear. The group of kids who participate in this theatre, the Moms who put so much effort into it, and the owner whose passionate about both theatre and the kids ... made it easy for Isaac and I to fall in love with the place.

Oh, and he is going back for more too! He auditioned for their upcoming 101 Dalmations production and he got the role of Pongo! Perfect, right!? See you there, I hope! But be aware ... I cry, cry, cry ... through the entire production ... in awe of what these kids can do ... of their spirit, their confidence, their joy, their talents. And apparently I am not the only one, as several of my friends and my parents cried right along with me at Isaac's last production!

GREAT JOB ISAAC! You rock! And thank you to Conor Kenny ... whom he "shadows" in every way ... both in life and in theatre. You are a great role model for him and we are so glad to have you in our lives! xo

(Scene from Seasons of Love act)

(Scene from Lullaby of Broadway act)

So, thank you Tracy Marceron for creating a space for such magic ... thank you to Tricia Kenny for the pictures ... thank you to Martha Ward for the videos ... and a giant thank you to all the kids who put their hearts, soul, and dedication in to helping one another make great art!


PS. Meaghan filled in one night for one of the acts and was absolutely fabulous! As soon as we can get pictures and video of it, we will share it here on the blog. Imagine her voice, and her talent ... singing Mama Who Bore Me. Not a dry eye in my family!

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Grade!

Homeschooling is getting serious now ... as we are officially in First Grade mode!

Happy Schooling All!


Jodi & Isaac

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Universe Knows Best.

So, Wow ... long time, no post.

The other day, a very good friend of mine came in to the shop I am now working at ... Metropolitan Soul (love it!) ... and was near furious with me. He moved to Portland, ME a while ago, and had been relying on this blog in order to see the latest goings-on of our lives (bad idea). He came to Bangor for a visit to my shop and saw that it had been completely emptied out. Wanting to know what the heck was going on, he asked around and found me at Met Soul. But after talking with me for only a few minutes, he learned that the closing of my brick and mortar shop was not the only major change in our lives ... there is oh-so-much-more ... and I have no idea where to begin. So, maybe I won't. Or maybe I will. Or maybe I will just give you all the major details ... and then simply move on from here ... ??? Let's see how this goes, shall we :)

So, yes, I needed to close the shop that I was once so very excited about. And I needed to sell the Studio to a friend of mine. And I got a new job. And I started school. And Meaghan moved out.

Yes, Meaghan moved out. If you know anything about us, you know that the pain of this was nearly unbearable. I will say only a few words about this here ... in "public" ... but will be glad to answer any questions in person. You may remember how she came to us over a year ago, and if you don't ... here is a bit about it. Well, the sum total of this tale is this ... after a year and a half of living with us, she ran away to move back to her biological family and there is little, short of making her our prisoner, that we can do about it. We tried desperately to "save" her from herself ... and from all the destructive, dysfunctional people around her. But in the end, (and lets hope this isn't the end) ... she chose to run to the people who: threw beer bottles in her face, told her she was no good, stole from her, lied to her, rejected her, enabled her, etc. etc. No amount of love and guidance we gave her over the years would ever pull her sights away from the people who gave her so much less. So here we are. Heartbroken, BUT ready to move on. I am sure this topic will come up in future posts ... but we are still trying to wrap our minds around it ... and don't want to say too much out of continued love and respect for Meg. We simply hope she knows that we are always here for her. Always have been. Always will.

The shop? Well, as fun, exciting and as well-received as it was ... I just couldn't get it to pay the bills. The economy and the location worked against it ... big-time. I tried so very hard to hold on to the business, believe me. That is precisely why you have rarely seen blog posts from me here. So much of my energy was spent in keeping that business going ... and there were times I was holding on by my fingernails ... nearly drowning in debt and in chaos. But WOW, the people we met!!! Because of that shop, and the classes we held within, we made some amazing friends! I have no regrets. And because of the way in which I needed to legally close the shop, I also needed to sell Studio 36 to a friend. The Studio has been successful for nearly 2 years, and will only continue to improve under the vision of Ao Arts. I am sure more will be said about this in future posts as well, but I can say with absolute certainty that this move was one of the best I have made in a long time. Ao loves the vision of the Studio and can bring more to it than I think I ever could ... and I still get to be a part of it! Exciting things are happening there!

School? Yes, please. I have been accepted into the Graphic Arts program at EMCC and will start in January. Very exciting stuff!

So, yes, there are plenty of changes in our lives ... and let me say a few words about the hows and whys of some of these changes ...

I truly believe that the Universe/God/Creator is always at work in our lives. And though we may try desperately to hang on to control over things ... the Universe always knows best. In the past year I have desperately held on to creating successful businesses and to "saving" Meaghan. All my energies were expended in those directions. Friends told me to let up a bit. Halis begged me to let go sometimes. Isaac, as resilient as he is, often suffered when my attentions were everywhere but on him. Our finances suffered. Our marriage suffered. My parents worried. And I lost myself. I mean, nearly completely lost myself (here come the tears). So, the Universe stepped in ... big time. The Universe took everything out of my control ... and brought me back to basics. At first, I didn't even notice, I just went through the motions. But friends ... (and oh do I have the BEST friends in the world!) held up mirrors to my life ... and showed me that if I was not going to save myself, and my family, and my marriage, then the Universe was going to do it for me. And it did. And all is as it should be.

I never would have "let go" of the businesses had I not been forced to ... and my life would continue to spiral out of control. And I surely never would have "let go" of Meaghan ... and am beginning to see that perhaps her running is the best for all of us. She needs to live out her own life journey ... she needs some "tough love" ... and perhaps the best way to love her is to let her (no matter how big a lump I have in my throat when I type this) ... go. We can no longer be her "jailers" and that is exactly how she saw us and treated us. Though our hearts are heavy, there is a peace in this household that has not been here since she came to live with us. See, she never wanted to be here. She hoped to one day want to be ... but it never happened. She had too many people in her ear, enticing her back to her previous lifestyle, and working against all our efforts. Halis, Isaac and I love Meaghan dearly ... and always will. But it is clear that we can no longer lose sight of ourselves and the health and well-being of our family of three in order to "save" someone who wants no part of it. Toward the end of her time here, Isaac asked me, "Mama, why does Meaghan hate me so much when I love her so much?". I answered his question as best as I could ... telling him how she has a hard time with love ... how she resorts to anger ... etc. But no matter what I said, the truth was, I was allowing my son to live in a toxic environment because I wanted desperately to improve Meg's life ... while all the while she was resisting and hating me for it ... and showing Isaac manipulative, destructive behaviors that we have always sought to protect him from. And I would have kept doing it! But the Universe decided otherwise. And I am beginning to "get it". I am hoping that her decision to leave offers her the best. I am worried and doubtful, of course. But I need to trust the Universe. She is a resilient person ... and we believe in her ability to eventually do what is best for her. We just pray she doesn't hurt too much in the process.

Anyway, this post turned out much longer than I had hoped ... but this is some heavy stuff ... and I have only offered the most brief details. Thank you for coming this far in your reading of it ;)

So, the posts will continue. There is more time in my life to come back to blogging ... sharing ... learning ... etc. And now, although my Portland friend should certainly CALL ME more to find out what is going on in my life ... I will be sure to update him through this medium as well.

Thank you ALL for your friendships, your support, your love, your guidance ... and for just being there! This past year has been a tough one ... BUT I would not trade it for anything! The lessons learned, the people we met, the experiences we have had have all been so worth it. And we feel good about knowing that for the time we had her, Meaghan was safe & well-loved ... not just by us, but by all of you. Thank you.



P.S. Please continue to send Meg your love and well-wishes.