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Family Trip To Boston

 Since we would have Baby H in tow, JDubbs and I made the executive decision not to take our kids on a big family vacation this year, as it may have been more trouble than it was meaningful.  We spent a lot of evenings together and enjoyed extended family time in Massachusetts.  However, we did decide that an overnight in Boston would be worth the effort, so one warm day in July we packed up the kids and headed to a great hotel just outside the city.

The first day we took the kids to The Children’s Museum, and aside from the headache of parking a mini-van with a Yakema on top (too tall for parking garages, too long to parallel park), the kids had an absolutely great time.  I love watching their minds at work and their genuine excitement in exploring the world.

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Em got stuck on top of the giant scaffolding/climbing apparatus when you first walk in to the museum, which was more amusing than distressing to me since I was nursing the baby and could only watch JDubbs coax her down like a cat in a tree.  Jax climbed up and came right back down, without giving his sister a second glance.  Luckily she finally emerged and seemed completely unfazed; she was ready to rock some virtual dodgeball.

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Jax is still talking about this.  I either have to take him back or turn my house into a poor man’s Billie Jean video.  He LOVED it.

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Baby H, not so much. But at least she doesn’t fuss.  Such an amazing baby.

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 The rest of the day was awesome and the kids had a blast exploring, learning, playing, laughing, and having so much fun.  It was a great way to spend a summer afternoon!

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After we checked into the hotel and JDubbs took the big kids for a quick dip in the pool, we took the subway system (known as the “T”) into the city.  Even now my kids talk about the T about once a week, and I think I will save money on parking from now until eternity and just park outside the city and take the T in.  Less hassle and instant family entertainment!

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We did lose JDubbs for a quick second when we got off at a non-handicap accessible stop and he had the stroller and all the baby gear.  I took the kids up and out and just assumed he was following me; I was not only wrong, but JDubbs had both my ticket and my cell phone! Luckily, he’s a Boston boy as well so he can take care of himself.

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We fed the kids at Dick’s Last Resort in Fanueil Hall, which could have been a disaster, but since the place was empty as it was only five o’clock and my kids (luckily) were on their best behavior, the waitstaff did not harass us but merely mocked us good-naturedly.  I’ll take it.

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Princess In Training and My Boogers Taste Great.

After dinner we explored Quincy Market, took in some street performers and bought a few touristy souvenirs.  Jax could not contain the urge to dance when he heard one particular drummer and danced his heart out on the steps of Fanueil Hall.  There was actually a bit of a crowd and someone told me that they enjoyed watching him more than the street performer! I wonder if he is a YouTube sensation somewhere and I just don’t know it…

3 I absolutely love introducing my kids to Boston, which will always be my home.  It is such an unbelievable city, and there is without question nowhere I’d rather be on a summer day.  Love making memories with my family!  Could not be happier.

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She’s From Boston

A few thoughts about yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon:

I grew up a half mile from the Boston Marathon route, spending every Patriots Day cheering on the countless individuals, and later some incredible friends, who ran the route from Hopkinton to Boston.  Until this year, in fact, I didn’t realize that Patriots Day wasn’t a national holiday, even though I’ve lived all over.  To me, the day was such a celebration, a town-wide block party, that I didn’t realize the entire country wasn’t enjoying the same kind of spirit and fun that I was privileged enough to experience every year.

When Jackson was six months old, Jason and I took him to cheer on the runners at the marathon, and the only reason we haven’t been back since is because of subsequent babies and the distance.  We have taken the kids to cheer on the runners of the Covered Bridge Half Marthon, and Jason is training to run it himself this year.  In seven short weeks we will be spectators there ourselves, with homemade t-shirts and posters, waiting near the finish line for our loved one to complete his amazing accomplishment.  Last year he ran a 5K, this year a half marathon.  Who’s to say that in a year or two he wouldn’t be training for the Boston Marathon itself, with my family there on Boylston Street to be the first to greet him when he finished?  It’s things like that that have been bothering me all night: that the victims of this attack were families just like mine, waiting for loved ones just like Jason, reveling in one of the best days of the year.  One of the best days to be from Boston.

I taught at the high school in Newtown, Connecticut.  I know that community and their pain.  I went to college forty-five minutes outside of New York City during 9/11, and had classmates, roommates, and friends who were thunderstruck as terror struck their city.  The husband of a dear friend was in the second tower that day; thankfully he survived.  Now it is my city that is feeling the pain of an attack, and no matter that it has been nine years since I called Boston my home, to me it always will be, and I feel the significance of this event deeply.

Every time Jason and I drive down 93 South, I get a giddy, elated feeling whenever Boston’s skyline comes into view.  I always turn to him and say, “Don’t you just love Boston? Doesn’t it feel like we belong here?”  Since Jason is a chameleon and can feel at home anywhere, he just smiles and indulges me, knowing that indeed Boston is a great city, but that it is unlikely that we will ever live there again.  One of my biggest regrets about that is that my kids won’t know what it’s like to say, “I’m from Boston.”  To know what that means and how that defines you, how other people all over the country know without explanation what that means.  Tell someone from New Mexico that you’re from Vermont and they’ll say something like, “Isn’t that in Canada?”  But say you’re from Boston and they have a visual–mostly from movies like Ted and Fever Pitch–but they know.  I’m proud to be from Boston, proud of my city and how its people responded to this terrible crisis, how passionate, strong,and brave everyone has been in the face of this danger.  I’ve always known that and been proud of it, and after yesterday, the whole world knows it, too.

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Boston, You’re My Home

There is nothing like a sunny day in Boston! For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of spending an afternoon wandering the brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill or strolling the Public Garden, put it on your Bucket List.Jax had his first of what we hope will be many fabulous days in Boston, with me, Daddy, his Grammy, Auntie Jessie, and cousin Erika. The first thing we did was head to the tribute to the great children’s classic story, Make Way for Ducklings, which of course takes place in Boston. Jaxsat on both the mommy and baby ducks, and I felt that although he was created in Cali, born in New Hampshire, and lives in Vermont, he is going to be a Bostonian at heart.Now for the second Boston childhood rite of passage: his first ride on the swan boats.

Riding the swan boats, for you poor souls who have not had the pleasure, is a tradition over 130 years old and takes place in the Boston Public Garden, the first botanical garden in the United States. You pay to sit on those benches and then a person paddles you around (they sit in the swan). Aren’t you just itching to go there now? In other words, it’s classic New England, good wholesome fun, and a very inexpensive way to spend a morning. Jax enjoyed the sun and the ducks, although he did spend most of the time trying to rip his hat off.

To me, riding the Swan Boats is right up there with going to Fenway as the perfect Boston experience: both magical in their own way. JDubbs is probably shaking his head as he reads this, but he wasn’t born in Massachusetts so he doesn’t know.  They’re different kinds of fun. I went there for a field trip in kindergarten and have loved them ever since.
After we explored the Garden and the Boston Common, we walked over to Faneuil Hall and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Then we explored Quincy Market, did a little shopping, and walked back to the car. Good fun, good company, good exercise, and a great city. What more could we ask for?

Oh, right. Jax fell asleep in his stroller and took a nap. Perfect!
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Who Has Time For The Big Camera Anyway?

This summer is absolutely flying by.  The girls embark on their first week of camp together today–Hannah, at camp! How is that possible!?–while Jackson and I have one week of mornings together, just the two of us, for the first time since he became a big brother.  A delightful chance, amid the chaos of a whirlwind summer, and three kids growing up faster than I would have imagined possible during my first few years getting to know my life as a mother in Vermont.

Now I look back on those long summers at home full of small moments and happiness with bittersweet nostalgia, especially since preparing for my new job and enduring two graduate courses are enough to keep my every spare moment occupied. I have had some really great adventures, including spending the better part of two days alone in Boston while Jason was at a conference, meeting up with dear friends, shopping for my new professional wardrobe, sleeping, reading, and relaxing.  Jackson spent a wonderful week at a new camp that he really enjoyed but left him quite exhausted, taking the girls strawberry picking and last but not least, Emmy has learned to swim!  All in a busy summer month’s work!  I cherish these smiling faces!

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Even though I barely have time to remember my name, let alone my camera, I am ever the more grateful for the tiny little camera in my pocket at all times in my cell phone, if only to record the fleeting memories of the fastest-flying summer I can remember!  Fast or slow, every summer with these three is memorable, and I’m glad I have the pictures to prove it!

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A Whirlwind Winter Vacation

A funny thing happened on the way to Massachusetts to get my hair cut: a storm decided to unleash its icy fury on Vermont the morning the kids and I were supposed to leave, so my darling husband suggested we go down the night before and stay in a hotel.  Even with all the logistical hassle of staying in a hotel by myself with three kids (such as how to get all the kids and all the luggage in and out of the car during a storm), I knew that an extra night away would make our whirlwind visit to family and the city that much better.  So we found a great deal at an Embassy Suites outside of Boston and the four of us headed south for a February vacation adventure.

Of course, as luck would have it, the DVD player in the van went berserk halfway there, but the kids were so excited to go to a hotel that they took it in all in stride.  I pulled up to the hotel and found a luggage cart right by the front door, unpacked the van, left our belongings with the concierge, and went with the kids to park.  Once inside, the kids couldn’t believe how “fancy” the hotel was, including a glass elevator that we had to ride to the very top floor and all the way back down every time we got in, and a swimming pool and hot tub spa.  And who could forget all the luggage cart fun?

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Bad news was that once we unpacked, I realized I forgot Jax’s bathing suit!  With not even a pair of shorts I could substitute for them, we were off to the mall for a “quick” trip to find some.  It actually wasn’t that bad, since the mall had a Disney store and a Lego store and a thousand sets of escalators (which my kids are attracted to like magnets).  Jax picked out some God-awful Star Wars bathing suit that cost a million dollars at the Disney store, Em picked out some God-awful stuffed glittery princess cat, and Little H picked out a set of Mickey Mouse fork and spoon (thatta girl).  We bellied up to the bar at Johnny Rockets for some classic diner food and were back at the hotel before the snow got too bad.

Fast forward to a nice swim and a late movie and everyone got a great night sleep. The next morning Grampy met us for breakfast and the kids swam one more time before leaving.  We met Grammy for lunch and then the kids went back to her house while I got a much-needed hair cut, and then the big cousins and Auntie Jessie came over to play.  Phew! What a busy day, but so filled with laughs that I could never regret it, even with overtired meltdowns at the end of the day.

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The next morning was the biggest adventure of all! I packed up the car and we headed to the Alewife T Station, followed by Grammy, for an adventure into Boston to go to the Aquarium.  Teaching the kids how to use the subway system was great–they were super into it and loved every minute of being in the station and on the train!  The happiest commuters ever!

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After a short walk we finally arrived at the Aquarium, and even though half the state of Massachusetts had the same idea as us and Jax kept complaining that Boston is “too loud,” it was really worth all the effort.  Jax is learning about penguins at school and loved listening to the presentation, as well as the opportunity to touch sharks and rays.  Em loved the harbor seals and sea lions and Little H actually participated in a small education group about taking care of turtles!  My favorite part was the giant tank in the center of the aquarium, where the kids could watch the divers feed the fish and see all different species.  All different kinds of fun for everyone.

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And yes, maybe the kids whined on the walk back to the T station, and maybe we all caught colds and were squished in crowds, and maybe Em refused to be in a photo with me at the end of the day because I wouldn’t buy her something in the gift shop, but in the end, it was so worth the whirlwind to expose these kids to this incredible city and world.

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And I’ll always have this photo to remember the trip by.  Thanks random stranger for offering to take the picture and then confirming he got a good shot.  You nailed it!

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It’s all in the memories!

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Exploring The Freedom Trial

JDubbs and I grew up (mostly) in suburbs just outside of Boston (JDubbs was born and raised in Sacramento until he was 10), and it is my inestimable pleasure to expose my kids to the history, art, excitement and glory that is the city of Boston, especially in the summer.  When Jax began to show an interest in the American Revolution last winter, specifically Paul Revere, JDubbs and I knew a trip to Boston and the Freedom Trail (that links the many important historical sites throughout the city) would be on our list of things to do this year.  A warm summer day, our family of five, a stroller, some bottles of water, and we were off for a historical adventure!

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The Old North Church and its surrounding plaques, memorials, and statues to Paul Revere and the other significant Patriots of his day was just the right combination of history and fun.  Jax was interested to see things he had only read about in books come to life, and the girls, JDubbs and I learned a thing or two as well.

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Then we followed the Freedom Trail out of the North End, and crossed over to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which was built after JDubbs and I had moved away from Boston.  It was something new for everyone and what’s not to love about green spaces, a carousel, splash pads and fountains amidst the buildings and bustle of the city?  It was the perfect kind of fun for my country mice!

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This fountain was everyone’s favorite, right outside Faneuil Hall, with the water coming up sporadically in various patterns, reaching enormous heights!  Jax had absolutely no fear and charged straight in.  Little H stayed on the outskirts and loved every second, although she didn’t actually get wet.  Em decided to be brave and went in after a bit of hesitation, only to get a jet of water in the eye and run out screaming!  She spent the next ten minutes shivering and crying until JDubbs bought her a tapestry from the farmer’s market to dry her off.  So, mixed reviews from the kids, but I loved it!

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From there we picked up the Freedom Trail again and walked through the Boston Common to the Public Garden, with a stop in Granary Burial Ground to see the graves of Paul Revere and John Hancock.  We stopped to say hello to the ducks from Make Way For Ducklings and some of their ancestors, but the line was too long for a tour on the Swan Boats.  Instead we got ice cream and watched the people and cars go by from a quiet spot on the lawn.

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After that, we took the T back to our car (the kids’ favorite part!) and headed to Auntie Amanda’s and Uncle Chris’s house for a sleepover before Legoland the next day.  This was one of my favorite memories from the summer, and we have had many extraordinary adventures!  I love exposing my little country mice to all this magnificent city has to offer!

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Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

On the way down to my parents’ in Massachusetts one weekend in July, we made a very special pit stop.  It was a great decision.

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The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a slice of childhood heaven.  With illustrations from some of our favorite children’s authors like Mo Willems and Jon Klassen, the kids were thrilled to explore the exhibits as well as the grounds.

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Since we went on one of the Free Fun Fridays in the greater Boston area, there were tons of extra treats for the kiddos, like ice cream, live music, a Hungry Caterpillar parade, tattoos, and a scavenger hunt.  As the day was unfolding, I found myself grinning because it really was everything I could have asked of a family excursion.

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Speaking of hungry caterpillars, Jax found one of his own!

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Literally–it took a little bite of him!

It was pretty much the greatest pit stop of all time.

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Books, bubbles, and sunshine?  One of my favorite memories of this summer.

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