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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Boston!

Our kids are lucky enough to be the kids that have so much stuff that I cringe at the thought of the gifts they will receive for their birthdays.  And with their birthdays breathing down the neck of Christmas, I feel like there is a 2 month period where I am involuntarily involved in the maddening game of and where can THAT go?

This year we decided to do something different.  Instead of gifts we planned a birthday trip to Boston, a destination the girls have been pining to visit for a while.  Oh for the history, you ask?  The Red Sox?  

No, don't be silly.  Boston has the AMERICAN GIRL store. 

But more on that later.  First off, we learned to take the T!

This was the conversation we had with the kids (Maya) about the T: "You need to stay with us all the time.  You need to be holding our hands when we get on and off the train.  If you do not, you could get left on the train or the platform without us and it would be very difficult to find each other.  It would be very scary for everyone.  So hold a hand and don't test the limit.  Got it?"

Maya held fast to us like glue.  It might be the most obedient she has ever been in a public place. 


We went to Faneuil Hall and met my Aunt Rita and Uncle Jeffrey and my cousin Clare and her family.  It was indescribably lovely to see this part of my family.   And our girls played so well with Clare's girls, ages 4 and 6.  I guess these girls were second cousins?  Or first cousins once removed?  Regardless, they adored each other. 


Can we talk about how nice it is to take your kids somewhere with their own spending money?  They had birthday money burning holes in their pockets and found some gems in Quincy Market.  An orchid necklace for Maya (don't worry- it wasn't delicate and it certainly did not break on the second day and require a second trip to the Quincy Market vendor to replace it) and a dream catcher for Ella. 

We happened to be in Faneuil Hall the night of the big tree lighting and it was packed.  There was a ceremony/show with all sorts of performers which we watched on the a massive screen from the back.  When Megan Trainor came on to sing "All about that bass" the girls were wowed.  When we explained that she was up at the front of the square performing, a mere few hundred feet away, they were floored.

All that city fun wore our girls out.  Waiting for the T when you are tired is hard.
The next day was all about the Museum of Science.  What a cool place!

They have a butterfly garden! This was the big draw for Maya.  She was bound and determined to have a butterfly land on her (they ask that you not take them off their perches but just allow them to land on you).  The more fierce she became in her effort to will a butterfly to her, the more they alluded her.
It was the coolest place with hundreds of stunning butterflies flittering in the air and all over the tropical plants.  You could even observe the chrysalis stage and, if you are lucky, watch a butterfly emerge. We got to see one just after as it rested and let its wings dry.  Amazing.  For those unsure about miracles and some sort of divine imprint, the life cycle of a butterfly offers more than its share of wonder.
Maya decided to put this flower necklace down to entice a butterfly.  I love this picture because it represents the quick mind and strong will of our Maya.  I call it The Faceoff.
When it became evident that we could never in fact leave the butterfly garden without success, the compassionate custodian of butterfly-kind took pity on us.  She brought Maya an orange wedge with a butterfly on it and said, "I know this isn't the same, but hopefully it is close."  Mercy.  Thank you.

Naturally, the zen of Sandi was an easy landing place for this little beauty.  
There was a Mayan exhibit at the museum and Maya was thrilled to see her name everywhere, including in giant letters on the outside of the building.  She took to calling it the "Museum of Maya". (Second favorite picture.)
Ella, Molly, Madison and Maya


Inside an Apollo spacecraft!









Next stop: the unforgettable, totally-worth-the-money Duck Tour.  

We got to spend 85 minutes on an amphibious vehicle that toured the streets of Boston and then drove right into Boston Harbor with the one of the most hilarious women on the planet.  Thanks Flo for making us laugh till our stomachs hurt whist giving us some unusual and lasting history lessons.  And look whose driving the bus/boat!






I even got a turn.   Yes, I am sporting a beak.  It is a duck tour after all.  When your tour guide gives you the signal (ours was for her to yell, "Knock it off!") we were all to reply with a hearty "QUACK! QUACK!"  I admit, I was into it.




I kinda fell in love with Boston.





Day two was the New England Aquarium.  The girls were a little excited.



So cool to feel these guys in the touch tank and hear the educational information provided by the staff. 




Perhaps most importantly,  we met this beauty: Myrtle the sea turtle.  Ella was over the moon since we have been doing an in-depth study of sea turtle in homeschool.

And last, but certainly not least, it was time to travel just outside the city to the Natick Mall for the pilgrimage to the American Girl store.  







We had a little birthday party just the four of us complete with birthday tiaras for girls and dolls (and thankfully NOT mothers) and an entire mini-cake.








Also, this happened.

As well as the inevitable: an armload of bags.  Which is hard to do at that store considering the asking price of the merchandise.
 The girls simply loved Boston.  This was their first taste of city life and they thought it was all that.  Scary thought that it is, I found myself pondering:  I could so see our girls going to college here. 



Red light, green light and trying to catch Maya.

photo bomb





Have you ever seen the New England Holocaust Memorial? It is gut wrenching, powerful, riveting and brilliant.

Here is quote about the memorial from the website:

The Memorial is designed around six luminous glass towers, each reaching 54 feet high, and each lit internally from top to bottom. The number six has many meanings here: the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust; the names of the six main death camps; a row of memorial candles; and the six years, 1939-1945, during which the infamous “Final Solution,” the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, took place. In addition, six million numbers are etched in the glass, representing the infamous tattoos inflected on many of the victims’ arms.

on the walkway as you approach
The memorial is always open. As you walk through each of the 6 towers a gust of hot steam blows onto you from below.  It is the most visceral experience. Seeing the numbers of the survivors etched in the glass, each one so tiny, stacked up on each other in neat rows and columns, six panels high in four separate walls to make an entire tower is arresting.  Then to know that this repeats 5 more times.  Six million is a staggering number.





It was hard to explain to a very concerned Maya why I was crying.  It was hard to feel like it was enough to whisper, "I'm so sorry.  Please forgive us."  It was painful to know that Sandi was trying to explain what all of this meant to Ella who would now never be without the knowledge that such an atrocity could happen in a world we have taught her is full of goodness.

I have forever been held by the story of the Holocaust: the evils, the profound and immeasurable devastation and loss, the social and political mechanisms that allowed such an event to take place over so many years, the profound will of so many to survive.

As we left the memorial, Maya said: "Let's not go back to the place that made Momma cry."  Ella said: "How could a man that hurt so many people be a VEGETARIAN?"  The Holocaust is hard to fathom on any level I suppose.

Back to happy things: none of us wanted to leave the city.  There was still so much to do and see!  But alas, it was necessary to return home and replenish our checking account.  As much as they loved the city, our country girls were happy to return to our great state of Maine.

The trip was a success by many accounts.  It was the first family trip we took where our kids were old enough to stay up late and not break down.  They could walk without too much complaint.  They could drink cocoa on the T and only slosh half of it down their coats.  We got to spend some wonderful time with my family.  I got to eat the most amazing sushi I've ever had.  Ella got to visit the Cheesecake Factory,  a place she hadn't even known she was missing (she LOVES cheesecake).  Sandi got some awesome new boots.

And Maya?  Well, aside from the orchid necklace and the semi-butterfly landing, we didn't lose Maya in Boston and we are all proud of that.

The American Girl explosion all over the living room the moment we returned. 

We heart you Boston.  We are already talking about when we go back.