Tuesday, September 30, 2014

iFest Boston (Ireland On Tour)

On Friday night I went to opening night of iFest Boston with my mom, Aunt Cathy and brother Allan.  This is the first time this festival has happened and of course the Irish picked the best city to start it in!  It was a 3 day festival at the Seaport World Trade Center.  The great thing about this event is that they used the indoor and outdoor space!

The tickets were a bit pricey at around $60 per person.  That was too much for my liking but when the week leading up to the event they offered a buy 1 get 1 free deal I jumped on board.

This event was all about drinking, music and dancing.  What else would you expect from the Irish?  In the outdoor area there was a Jameson pub, Guinness pub and Dingle Distillery where my brother is a founding father and has a whiskey cask was there too.  You could buy drinks at each.  Also in the outdoor area was a large stage where a lot of the big acts performed.  They had picnic tables and you could just sit and listen to the music which was nice.

In the indoor area there were a lot of travel agent type people and tour group companies all promoting vacations in Ireland.  Very useful if you are planning a trip but I really wasn't interested since I've been so many times and would be unlikely to use a travel agent when going back.  Also inside they had cooking demonstrations.  We watched one (and tasted).  They also had an area were you could try the Irish sport hurling.

My favorite part of the night was seeing this Irish band, Seo Linn, who sings everything in Gaelic!  I guess they are a You Tube sensation in Ireland b/c they do popular cover songs but in Gaelic.  It was so funny hearing a song you know buy not being able to figure out what it was b/c it was not in English!  We all loved them!  Check them out on You Tube!

My second favorite part of the night was the big finale show with Riverdance.  I've always wanted to see Riverdance but haven't had the chance yet.  It was so good!  I was disappointed that they didn't dance more/longer.  They showed a lot of the videos of them dancing while the band played live but the actual dancers only came out like three times.  Not sure why but would have loved to see more!

iFest was a lot of fun.  There are a few things they could do to improve it (like more live music) but overall it was a fun night.  Not sure if it will make it to other cities but if it does you should check it out!

P.S.  Sorry for the crappy iPhone 4 photos.  I can't wait to get the 6!!!!   

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall Fun: Apple Picking

The calendar may say Fall but the weather this weekend said SUMMER!  It was hot which was great for the beach but a little too hot for apple picking.  Luckily I met up with my friend Joana and her son Carter at 9:30 AM before it got too hot and crowded.  By the time we left Honey Pot Hill it was both!

There were plenty of apples on the trees especially my favorite the Gala trees.  Those were also the best for climbing which Carter enjoyed!

This sign cracks me up!  I see the point but really!?  

In addition to apples and pumpkins Honey Pot has farm animals complete with this "goat playground."  The goats can climb up to the top and the kids can send food up to them.  It is pretty cute and of course the kids and the goats love it!

I really loved this pond that was filled with lilly pads.  It looks so pretty with the random apples floating around.  This farm/orchard is very pretty with plenty to do.  I had been there a few years ago and unfortunately they seemed more organized then.  This time the staff was disorganized and not very helpful. It was hot and people were cranky!  I'm glad we were done before the huge crowds got there b/c the lines for everything were very long.  If you go here get there before they open for picking (at 10 AM) which is what we did and it helped a lot.

Let's face it - the real reason we all go apple picking is for the cider donuts!  The heat and long lines were worth it!  Haha!  SO good!

Have you been apple picking yet?  It is one of my favorite things to do in the fall and I hope to go once more this season.  For my Mass friends - where is your favorite place to pick apples?  I love Tougas Family Farm but would love to hear other recommendations too!


Friday, September 26, 2014

6 Years and $72,000 Dollars Later. . .

 "Each Of Us 
Has A Fire In Our
Hearts For Something.
It's Our Goal In Life To 
Find It And Keep It Lit."

-Mary Lou Retton

Last night when I checked my mail I had a rare piece of fun mail.  You know the kind.  It comes in an envelope shaped like a card and doesn't look anything like a bill.  It was from my friends A&E in CA and the card had the above quote and a donation.  They wrote a message that the quote reminded them of me and my dedication to fundraising for a cure for MS.  Me?  Wow! What a flattering compliment and how appropriate it would come on the eve of my MS Anniversary. . .

SIX years ago today I heard the words "You have MS" and life has never been the same since.  I can remember the day like it was yesterday yet it feels like such a long time ago.  I can hardly believe that it has already been six years.  

If you had told me six years ago that I (along with my team, The Bean Team) would raise $72,000 dollars I would have told you that you were CRAZY!

If you had told me that I would walk 50 miles in 3 days I would have laughed my head off.  I'm lazy.  I don't really like exercise.  Who knew?

If you had told me that I would walk the runway as a MODEL I would have known you were lying to me.  A model?!?  Never!

If you had told me I would meet some of the most amazing friends all because this terrible thing called MS would bring us together I would have rolled my eyes.  I would have doubted that the people were really that cool and I would have been SO wrong.

If you had told me that just years into living with MS I would be able to stop doing weekly injections and start taking a daily oral pill I would have crossed my fingers in hopes it would be true (and it is)!

But really. . .$72,000!!!!!  All I can say is thank you.  Thanks to each of you who have donated to me or my teammates.  Together we have raised so much money and we have seen how that money gets put to great use (hello, Gilenya).  I also want to point out that the majority (like 99%) of our donations are from individuals.  We don't have corporate sponsors or many company "matches."  We have people like you who love and support us with their own money out of their own paycheck.  That is a big deal and don't think for a second that it goes unnoticed.

6 years later and a little bit stronger, smarter and happier than that day.  Here's to the next year filled with good health, lots of donations and much happiness!


Monday, September 22, 2014

MS Challenge Walk 2014 - Day 3

Here we go. . . we've made it to Day 3 of the MS Challenge Walk.  We woke up feeling a little sore but so grateful the pouring rain came overnight and stopped by walk time.  It was literally some of the loudest rain I've ever heard.  It woke me up twice during the night!

Here we our in front of our cabin before heading out to walk 10 miles.  It is such a relief to know you only have to walk 10 miles after walking 20 miles each day for the two previous days!  Kate was injured and even though she wanted to walk we wouldn't let her.  At least she had pink tape to coordinate with our team shirts!

Photo by Dan Young
I really wanted to do a jumping photo but I didn't think I'd be able to convince my teammates knowing how sore everyone was. . . I never should have doubted The Bean Team.  My girls rock and were all for it (good thing since we had to jump about 7 times to get a good photo)!  I love this photo and I think we make excellent jumping beans!! :)

The "Dunkin Donuts" rest stop is always a favorite on Day 3.  Munchkins make everything better!

Photo by Andrew Child
As we walked along Emily had a genius idea to take a photo in the mirror on the road.  Right as she was getting ready to pose for it Andrew, one of the photographers, drove by and pulled over to jump out of his car to take the photo.  He thought it was a genius idea too!

Photo by Zach Child
Photo by Andrew Child

 Day 3 includes a lot of single file walking.  We pretty much walked in this formation for 10 miles.  When we saw the photographer we wanted to do something cool for the photo except we weren't coordinated enough to get all arms in alternating positions!
Always a favorite spot to stop for a photo!  Such an appropriate street name especially on Day 3.

It was so nice to see Kate and my mom as we approached the finish line!  Kate got to finish the walk with us and I promise you we were all happy to be done!  I was especially sore by this point and a massage was calling my name (too bad it was THE WORST/MOST AWKWARD massage ever)!

Photo by Andrew Child

Done!  Walked 50 miles for MS WITH MS and I'll keep doing it for as long as I can!  I know there will be a cure and I'm so thankful to everyone who donated to me for this walk.  I thought of all of you while I was walking!

We're so cute!

This is actually the pre-finish line which is in Dennis.  Once there people hang out, eat lunch, get massages, etc.  Then we all get our "parade shirts" (orange for people with MS and blue for everyone else) and load the yellow school buses for Hyannis.  Once in Hyannis all the walkers, crew and staff finish the walk TOGETHER!  We parade down Main St. with all of our family and friends watching.  It is quite the scene (with a fire engine leading the way)!

So grateful to all of our family members who drove down to The Cape to cheer us in!  The kids were especially happy to see their moms (Jenn and Meghan) and aunties (Leigh Ann and I)!

We all went to Ben and Jerry's to celebrate with ice cream!  The girls thought that was a great idea!!!  Then it was time to make the 1.5 hour drive home.  Thankfully I had Emily to chat with and keep me awake.  When I got home that night I pretty much crashed.  Went to bed at 8 PM and slept 12 hours.  I woke up the falling day feeling good.  I relaxed most of the day and got a massage.  It was wonderful.

It is so hard to sum up these 3 days in a sentence or two.  It is one of the best weekends of my year every year.  It is the greatest way to end my summer!  I love the MS Challenge Walk and all of the people who participate.  I'm so thankful to all of the walkers, crew members and staff who make this the most fabulous 3 days. . .

To my teammates (Jenn, Meghan, Leigh Ann, Kate and Emily) - THANK YOU!  Thank you for walking by my side for 50 miles.  Thank you for raising so much money for MS.  Thank you for supporting me and caring about people with MS. 

To my mom and dad - Thank You for volunteering your time and for cheering us in each day.  Your committed to this cause is obvious and I'm so grateful to have such supportive parents.

The Bean Team is already created for the 2015 MS Challenge Walk.  I'm still waiting to hear from my teammates on who is in again. . .

Go read about Day 1 and Day 2!

P.S.  I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you how much we raised!  The Bean Team raised $13,696 and I raised $3,712.  Can you believe it?!  Outstanding!!!!