Thursday, December 6, 2012

Loren's Graduation, Part 2: The Big Day

Drum roll please.....  Here it is, the big day, the culmination of years of hard work, the official end to our family's time in Cambridge:  Loren's commencement!  Obviously it happened a while ago (ha!) and I would be lying if I said that details weren't at least a little fuzzy now, but we've got to get through this event so I can move on to telling you about Idaho.  The main thing people should get out of this post is that a Harvard commencement is a big deal.  They've had 375 years to figure this whole tradition out and oh boy, it does not disappoint (even if there were so many people that we missed actually seeing some of the action.)

First, the Yard gets all decked out.  They set up hundreds and hundreds of folding chairs, decorate the light posts and buildings and set up an elaborate security system so only the lucky people with tickets can get in.

When the day finally arrives, your graduate has to leave home at an obscenely early hour to go have breakfast at his house, while you, the family members, only get a bit more sleep.  That's because you have to get to the Yard early to try and beat the crowds and get a seat that actually allows you to see what's going on.  I wouldn't give us full points on that one.

Our group dutifully got up early and tried to walk quickly to the Yard, but I was wearing uncomfortable heels and we had a 3 year old with us, so we didn't make the best time.  We finally got in and secured seats, then I took a cab back to our apartment because my feet were not going to last the day in those shoes.  I got to the apartment, changed into flats, then rode Loren's bike back to the Yard, where I then had to meet various family members and give them their tickets, while leaving other family members to guard our seats.

Then the ceremony started.  When you're dealing with a large university, just getting all the students in there takes a long, long time.  I stood on my chair and was able to catch a glimpse of Loren and yelled to catch his attention, so he had some idea of where his fan club was sitting.  Once everyone made it into Tercentenary Theater, the sub-section of Harvard Yard where Commencement happens, the Sheriff of Middlesex County called the meeting to order.  Commencement must be the best day of his year, because he gets to dress up, wear an old-fashioned hat and pound a walking stick on the platform to get everyone's attention.

After the sheriff, some songs and a prayer, came the student speeches.  The one made by an undergraduate was in Latin - yes, he wrote an entire, lengthy speech in Latin - and was read with quite a bit of gusto.  That somewhat helped to alleviate the length, but it still seemed long.  Two more speeches, a poem read by Seamus Heaney and some more introductions, and then it was time for the main event!  Because this first event was for the whole University, President Drew Faust asks the students to stand based on their school (College, Law, Medical, Divinity, etc.) and confers the degree earned upon all of them at once.  The ceremony wound down after that, then it was off to Leverett House, where Loren got to walk up and get his actual diplomas.

If you can't tell, that's Loren's designated chair

Of course all of the houses/graduate schools are also decked out.  I should mention that a lovely friend offered to watch Sophie during the big Commencement ceremony, then returned her to us so Sophie could watch the smaller, shorter bit at Loren's house.

Our contingent cheered like crazy when they called Loren's name.  In the picture above, he's standing in line, waiting for his turn.  He's wearing a red Master's hood, because Loren earned his Bachelor's and Master's in Computer Science, all in four years.  My graduation was incredibly emotional for me and Loren's was no different.  It's an indescribable feeling of accomplishment, joy and relief, when you realize what your little family has done.  Being able to celebrate our degrees with each other and especially with Sophie, made them feel much more meaningful.  I am so proud of you, Loren!

Now, cue the pictures.  It's like having wedding photographs taken, because you have to appear with each group of your family, in all combinations.  We were blessed to have Loren's mom, two of his brothers, one of their families and my parents come to celebrate with us.


With the actual diplomas!

The whole gang- thank you for coming!

Loren with the Dean of Leverett House and his wife, aka "Chief" and "Coach"

Loren and Lauren - Resident Dean of Lev

Plus we saw some friends!  - with Alexis and Alisa

And now, a few outtakes!

Daddy's chair!  Maybe one day that will be Sophie's name...

Blame the hood

Playing the flute.  She did great making it through a long, hot day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Loren's Graduation, Part 1: Pre-Graduation Festivities

After the Senior Picnic, graduation activities got started in earnest.  But first, some pictures of Sophie's awesome face painting from Belmont Town Day.  We stumbled upon the festivities after helping some dear friends move and decided to stay for a ride or two.  This was the weekend before Commencement Week.

Loren attended my Senior Soiree, so I agreed to be his date to his Senior Gala.  I think I actually wore the same outfit to both parties.  Guess I need to go shopping.  It was fun to have a night out with Loren, but he didn't know very many people in his graduating class (long story) so we mostly hung out by ourselves, ate the yummy food and watched as the music got louder, the tent got darker and the students got drunker... okay, more drunk.

Check out his Harvard tie

Warming up for the dance floor

If I remember correctly, Loren's mom got into town first and was the only one who came to the family dinner with us.  It was at the Harvard hockey rink and was crowded, as in, fight-to-the-death-over-getting-a-seat-at-the-tables crowded.  But again, the food was good and we had a fun time, even while we walked back to the car in the rain.

Class Day was next, which is the day set aside for the irreverent activities of the graduating class.  First there was a lunch, where we got commemorative Harvard lunch bags, which Loren still refuses to flaunt at work.

Inside the Yard

Loren and the one and only Zags

By this point my parents had made it to Beantown

After lunch was the Class Day program, where Andy Samberg was the featured speaker.  As you can imagine, he was a bit raucous and inappropriate.

Lastly, there was a reception at Leverett House, which is where Loren would have lived if he didn't have a wife and child in tow.  Too bad, Lev.  You missed out on our company!

So many hors d'oeuvres!

Leverett is across the street from the river.  It was hard to get a good picture with the sun in our eyes!

Loren deserved all the celebrations and events that came his way!  Next up, the actual day of Commencement.  It can be summed up in one word:  pomp.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Last hurrahs - Plymouth

We had been to Plymouth before this visit, but it was always for a race and we left directly afterwards, without poking around the town much.  I especially wanted to go to Plimoth Plantation, because of the amazing history there, so we made the trek in May.  The Plantation is mostly outdoors and is a recreation of both Native American and English settlements in the early seventeenth-century.  First we went to the Wampanoag sites, where the historical actors are all Native people from the area.  Plymouth is the English name for the area, while the Native Americans called it Patuxet.

We learned that to make canoes, the Wampanoag's used fire to slowly burn out the inside of the tree trunk.  This meant they could make the boats without needing a lot of tools.

After checking out the Wampanoag village, we headed over to the English settlement.

At the blacksmith's

Isn't this the coolest wood pile you've ever seen?

The settlement had a stunning view, which was picked for safety, not looks

After we saw the Plantation, we headed over to the harbor to explore the replica of the Mayflower.

Sitting in one of the bunks.  Trust me, you would not have wanted to be a passenger on the cramped ship

It was such a beautiful day and since we went in the middle of the week, it wasn't crowded at all!

Beautiful harbor.  Oh East Coast, how I miss you

Like Lexington, Plymouth is one of those places so rich in American/colonial history, that everyone should make an effort to go and visit.  Seriously people.  I felt so blessed to live in a place where I was surrounded by the early history of our country.  There really is no other place like Boston, for that kind of thing.  Sermon finished.  After our day in Plymouth, we went to the first of Loren's graduation festivities:  a luau for the seniors.

Sophie perked up for some ice cream

That means next up is... Part 1 of Loren's graduation celebrations!