Growing up, The Olympics referred not to an international gathering of athletes from around the world, but a gathering of Baackeses from around the East Coast. Once a year, we gathered for the Father’s Day Olympics, an elaborate weekend event involving custom t-shirts, scoreboards and prizes, and games like a egg-in-spoon relays and marshmallow eating contests. Somewhere along the road, life got in the way and time became more precious, and suddenly it had been six years since my dad, my three sisters and I were all in the same room at the same time.
Tucker was incredibly depressed about this.
So it was decided: Fathers Day 2014 would be celebrated in style, with all the sisters journeying from their far flung corners to Philadelphia for a weekend of family and fun. While the Olympics would not be resurrected, custom t-shirts would definitely be involved.
The weekend got off to a perilous start. Olivia and Tucker and I road tripped in from Martha’s Vineyard, a supposedly six hour drive that took closer to twelve (as you can see, we did not go stir crazy at all). And my big sisters Margaret and Sarah both dealt with flight cancellations, which for Sarah eventually resulted in getting in the car and driving herself the five remaining hours to Philly. But by midnight on Friday, against all odds, we were all gathered under one roof; my dad’s new pad in South Philadelphia.
Granted, a big part of any family gathering is lounging around the house eating take-away, telling embarrassing stories, and fawning over Tucker. But occasionally, we do leave the house. This was my third trip to the city since my dad’s move and I have surprised myself at how much I’m enjoying exploring it in bite-size doses. Our big adventure for this weekend, after a delicious and sadly undocumented brunch at The Industry, was catching a Phillies Game at Citizens Bank Park.
As I hinted, we couldn’t let a family gathering go by without
causing a public scene creating some kind of official weekend uniform. Even Tucker got in on the fun (if you’re wondering who was wearing number 5, we decided it was retired with Westley, our dearly departed first cocker spaniel).
To say I am not much of a sports fan is an understatement. But there’s something about a baseball game — the hot dogs, the family time, the ice cream in a baseball hat bowl, the unabashed Americana — I love it all. We had a great time, with great company and great seats (thanks Dad!).
While I struggled to decipher the score board, something monumental happened — Jimmy Rollins broke the Phillies’ hit record. Fireworks erupted, the crowd roared, and Olivia missed the whole thing because she was in the bathroom. Typical.
My sister’s instagrams from the day
Later, we’d unwind from the stressful afternoon with our favorite activity of all — rooftop relaxing.
That night, after a delicious dinner from the grill was polished off and a rousing game of charades was well under way, it was time for cake. Now, I love to bake. I looove it. And it’s not something I get to do very often considering rolling pins and confectioner’s sugar rarely make the cut into my backpack. But I knew I wanted to bake something epic for Father’s Day (on par with my sister’s 21st birthday cake), and months before when I was in Ecuador, the idea for a Diet Coke themed cake literally came to me in a dream. When I woke up I groggily tapped it into my iPhone and was surprised to later find nothing like it anywhere online — I finally had an original though, unaided by Pinterest! Hallelujah!
But seriously, have other daughters not inherited a severe caffeine addiction from their fathers?
Love my dad’s expression on the right
Now, a little tip for my fellow cake creators out there: do not bake a cake in Martha’s Vineyard and attempt to transport it twelve hours in the heat of summer in the back of a bumpy SUV to Philadelphia. Things got a little melty up in this creation. Ah well, it still tasted good.
So what could we possibly gift my dad to commemorate such a special weekend? Margaret hit it out of the park (baseball metaphor alert!) when she suggested we hire a photographer to take some much-needed family portraits. We hired Rich of Rich Walker Photography, who I highly recommend for great pricing and turn-around time, and for making us look like supermodels, clearly.
Believe it or not we did not coordinate our outfits before the weekend. The morning of, we ran around from room to room holding up various remnants of our suitcases asking, “DOES THIS LOOK OKAY?!” before miraculously ending up with a pleasing palate of coordinating blues and earth tones. Family portraits for the win!
Aren’t my sisters beautiful?
While we were tossing around location ideas, I suggested just sticking to my dad’s place and the gritty urban area surrounding it. I absolutely loved the results. Especially these super special ones commemorating the heart of Olivia and I’s relationship.
Some poses were taken seriously, others not so much.
I even nabbed a new head shot (check it out on my about page!)
Tucker trying to get in on the fun…
And to close, we each took a snap with the man of the hour. I just can’t tell you how much this weekend meant to me, and I truly hope we never let so much time pass us by without a reunion again (at least we already have the next one planned — a trip to Key West for a big milestone birthday/retirement for the big guy!)
To my wonderful dad, I can’t say it better than I did on the day itself.
Happy Fathers Day again, Dad! Stay tuned for one more post from our Philadelphia weekend…