Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Little Girl Adventures Day 5

We've all been a little slower today because we're all a little tired today.  The girls were in my bed at 7:48, ready to go swimming, but our friends Kim and little Erica weren't coming until 10:30.  Coloring books and story books helped us lay low until time to get ready for the pool.  And can I say I'm just a bit jealous that only one of us has to deal with sunscreen.  Not fair. 

Tina and Joelle took to Erica pretty well considering that the pool is such a huge distraction for all three girls.  There were some splash wars and kick competitions and a lot of little girl chit chat.  Kim and I had a nice visit, and I was grateful for some adult conversation, even though I do love having the girls here to fill my days. 
The bright sun made it hard to take any good pictures, but they're having fun!

After lunch, both girls fell asleep for a nice nap which meant I got to take a shower and paint my toes without interruption.  My feet have been so neglected since before the trip.    I might just feel human again.  :)

The best laid plans of mice and men...are always destined to blow up in huge pieces of disappointment.  My grand plan was to get to the library at 3:00 for the 3:30 Ronald McDonald Magic Show.  The shows are always free, but require tickets.  Little did I know that the tickets would be gone by 2:00.  Not only that, but everybody and their dog decided to wait until today to vote in the primary run-off elections, so the library was an absolute insane asylum of impatient voters trying to do their civic duty and small children who are old enough, but have obviously NOT been taught how to properly behave in a library.  Lucky for me, the girls are so chill about everything and shrugged off their bummed moods pretty quickly.  We managed to find a whopping 21 books to take home with us, and I think Tina read 7 of them already.  Phew.

Michelle texted to tell us that Megan had been asking for her new friends, so we stopped by there for a play date.  Michelle graciously gave the girls clothes that no longer fit her two, and Tina and Joelle are thrilled with their new textile additions.  What a treat!

To attempt to ward off more disappointments, we swung by the movie theater on our way home to buy the $1 tickets for Winnie the Pooh for tomorrow morning.  Now if we can just get there early enough to get three seats together, we're all set!  We also found out that Curious George's story telling tomorrow doesn't require tickets, so there shouldn't be any trouble there either.

We're all tuckered out from lots of sun and playing, so the girls opted to let Isaac walk Aggie Belle alone tonight.  Joelle is tucked into the recliner watching Angelina Ballerina and Tina is playing with Aggie Belle before we all call it an early night.  An 8:00 bedtime sounds absolutely fantastic at the moment!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Little Girl Adventures Day 4

ZOO DAY!  Thank you Houston Zoo for planting loads of trees for plenty of shade and ensuring that there are several buildings with AC spread throughout the property.  Your thoughtfulness saved my sanity today.

We arrived at nine, just as the gates opened to make most of what 'cool' Houston had to offer today.  We headed straight for the Children's Zoo to pet goats, but were side tracked by the zoo's newest resident, this sweet little giraffe.  He has yet to be named, but that didn't matter.  He was right at the window, showing off for all the world to see.  Mama Tyra is so adoring.  I'm pretty sure this little guy's daddy was Kiva, the giraffe that passed a way a few months ago, Mtembi is doing a fabulous job of being a surrogate daddy.  We watched Neema grooming Tyra while the poor baby tried not to get trampled.  The newest non-giraffe addition to the hoofed barn is one lone zebra.  I never could find a keeper to ask about it, but I'm sure there's a great story there.  Tina and Joelle thought this was super cool, especially when I told them ostriches, giraffes, and zebras all live in the same places in Zambia.  The giraffes are Joelle's favorite, just like me.  It was hard to leave the barn!
Neema, Tyra, and baby

You don't look like me, but come play!


Eventually we made it to the Children's Zoo and had a great time climbing, sliding, and crawling our way through deer, bald eagles, bats, otters, pigs, geese, ducks, and cows.  We finally did make it to the goats where the girls had a fabulous time brushing their fur.  A few comments might have also been made about the girth of a few of those billy goats.  My, my!

The elephant barn for elephant baths was next on the list.  The girls squealed to see Max the terrier mix dog in the barn with the elephants.  Tupelo and Tess were still getting their baths, and the girls were utterly delighted to learn they aren't the only ones who must be bathed daily.  Baylor, Shanti, and Me-Thai were already out in the sun, making it easy to give the girls a lesson in Elephant Sunscreen Application. 
You want to see my feet?  Hand over that slice of bread! Tupelo and Tess

Shanti and Baylor


After a break for our picnic lunch, we headed to the aquarium and the natural encounters building for some extra AC.  Then it was off to the Africa Forest where we explored Pygmy huts, masks, drums, chimps, rhinos, and the giraffes again.  The kudu were hiding in the barn which makes me sad.  I like seeing that little kudu family after my experience with Matches two years ago.

Tina's favorite animal is a cheetah, and thankfully one of the pair was out in the open.  They are one of the most reclusive animals at our zoo, but today must have been a social day.  I had a happy little girl on my hands.  Then we went down in the tunnel and found one of the lionesses chilling on the plexiglass.  What a treat to be so close!  Jonathan was also snoozing where we could find him easily.  The two sun bears were also out, one scratching his feet and the other being lazy in his pool.  Our last stop was to see Baby Aurora and adopted mom Cheyene in the orangutan exhibit.   They are precious!

I had told the girls we'd ride the train if they wanted on our way out, and they wanted!  I selfishly suggested it since I haven't been on the train since the track was extended.  It's such a pretty ride!  The only down side to our time at the zoo is always the reminders of being in the middle of the Houston Med Center.  Life flight is nearly constant.  Tina was super impressed with how many hospitals were around, but even she knew what the helicopters meant and made mention every time we saw one. 

We went swimming after the girls had a pick-me-up nap in the truck on the way home.  Tina spider crawled the whole pool without me today.  Yay!  Joelle blew bubbles underwater.  Progress!  After dinner, we walked Aggie Belle, and Tina walked her all by herself over half the way.  So precious.  I didn't have the phone or camera with me, but maybe tomorrow.  Aggie Belle minded Tina so well, with just a bit of input from me.  I'm so proud of them both.  Oh, and Joelle walked tonight instead of riding in her stroller.

Tina has been asking to meet an astronaut since we drive past NASA daily.  I try not to exploit those we know, so I hadn't said much, but tonight our friends the Tanners invited us for a snow cone date, and I let it slip that Megan's granddaddy is an astronaut.  Tina became really excited, but then acted like she knew nothing when we arrived.  I'm proud of her for reigning in the famous dogma because gracious knows she's at the age where nothing sounds better than to be famous.  We did have a great time with the Tanners, and all three girls hit it off, eating and drawing on the chalk wall. 
Chalk and snow cone covered girls!

Aggie Belle will not let the girls out of site.  Such a little momma.  Poor Joelle's mouth is right at Aggie Belle's nose's height, so all kinds of fun keeps happening.  My pup makes sure I brush Joelle's teeth thoroughly, get her rear cleaned properly, and her face wiped sufficiently.  Joelle is being a trooper about it and is even going up to rub that big tummy all by herself.  Tonight, Aggie Belle made it in bed for stories and prayers before the rest of us.  I'm in love.

Meal Planning Monday

This week's MPM is courtesy of Miss Tina.  I love my little sous-chefs!  

Sunday: CPK Pizza

Monday: Homemade Spaghetti

Tuesday: BBQ Potatos and Carrot Sticks

Wednesday: Hot Dogs, Fruit, and Chips

Thursday: Grilled Tilapia and Zuccini

Friday:  Dallas

Saturday: Dallas

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Little Girl Adventures Day 3

The day began early so we could make it to church by 8:50 for Isaac to warm up for orchestra.  Piece of cake!  The girls have no problem reading books to themselves while I get things done (like getting ready).  Our Sunday School classes (the adult one we're in and the youth one we teach) are on hiatus for a few more weeks, so we just had worship today.  The girls wanted to go to Sunday School, but they enjoyed hearing the orchestra practice this morning.  They were in awe of all the instruments.  I wish the Houston Symphony was doing one of their touch and feel sessions this week with all the instruments out for kids to experience!

When it was time for class, both girls were welcomed with open arms.  I flat out adore my church.  Tina was welcomed by Mrs. Chris, who I've known for ages, and sweet little Erin was in her class, ready to take her hand and go talk about all things girl.  Joelle was met by three amazing ladies I've known for awhile, Mrs. Abby, Mrs. Meredith, and Mrs. Jennifer, ready to scoop her up with hugs.  Joelle had a bit of a rough start, and was super glad to see me when I came to get her, but over lunch both girls could tell me the story about the men who took their sick friend to see Jesus through a hole in a roof.  They said this meant we are to help others like Jesus helped others.  Awesome!  Thank you, fabulous UBC teachers!  I loved knowing that I could sing in choir and worship after a month away and that the girls were being filled with sound biblical teaching.  Oh, how I needed that worship this morning.  I would fall apart without the amazing people that surround me day in and day out at UBC.  Thank You, Jesus!

These girls were troopers eating whatever I gave them yesterday and today since I haven't really been home until now to do any serious grocery shopping or meal planning.  I had tons of healthy, yummy food, but at times, it was a bit random.  Regardless, tortilla chips are never out of style, and are a hit with these two nieces.  Joelle quickly discovered that Aggie Belle will gladly share a chip with her.  I looked over from my chair to see a chubby little hand reach down to offer Aggie Belle a chip.  I assumed Aggie Belle would eat it whole, but she nibbled of a bit, and Joelle happily ate a bite.  This went on for two or three chips before I finally pulled the plug.  Adorable doesn't even begin to describe that.

After lunch, we made a much needed trip to Sam's and Walmart.  The girls were fabulous about respecting my 'no' when they asked for something they didn't need.  No worries, we did get coloring books and new earrings, so I'm not a total scrooge!  Tina loves to find any thing that's on the list and put it in the cart, and Joelle is happy playing peek-a-boo all day long.

Joelle will be three late in August.  However, she is already the ultimate back seat driver.  At every intersection, I heard "STOP!" if the light was yellow or red or "GO!" if the light was green.  This payback is so much sweeter than the incredibly bossy back seat driver I was as a kid.  My poor dad couldn't do anything right.

I made the mistake of agreeing to make cookies with the girls this afternoon.  Snickerdoodles are insanely addictive and plum delightful.  Darn cinnamon.  Tina did an excellent job of measuring ingredients, and Joelle can use the mixer with a little support.  The cookies are amazing, and I doubt they'll last past tomorrow night.

Our pool was reserved for a birthday party this evening, but we were still able to slip in about 40 minutes of swimming before hand.  Joelle is a brave little fish, and Tina is doing a great job of  overcoming her fears. Tina learned how to spider crawl down the wall, and we worked together kicking from holding the side and a kickboard.  I like watching her confidence grow just in a short period of time.

Tina request CPK pizza for dinner, and I wasn't about to turn down that one.  On our evening walk with Aggie Belle, our neighbor Ricky and his mom Barb found us and invited us over to play with Aggie Belle's best friend Queseay.  I think that spelling is correct.  Queseay is also a rescue, and the girls are about the same age.  The are attached at the hip any time they are let out together.  We let them run in the backyard while we visited.  Ricky got ice cream for the girls-instant best friends.  After about 30 minutes, both dogs looked like they were in serious need of IV fluids from all the panting and slobber.  It's just so entertaining watching them wrestling and playing.  

Soon it was bath time, and I needed one nearly as badly as they did with the sweat and chlorine.  Before I could get anyone started though, Tina had a melt down.  I had them call home before baths, and she was fine and super excited on the phone, but then reality it, and the tear began a falling.  So, we rocked and cuddled and hugged and kissed and talked and prayed together, exactly what every person facing tough choices needs, so take note.  :)  I switched the conversation over to the zoo, and my happy girl was back.  Keep in mind that while of this was happening, Joelle was also in the bathroom, twirling away to some soundtrack in her head.  Love it!

By now, I had tears and snot added to the reasons why I needed a shower, so I set up the girls on our bed to watch 20 minutes of the Lalaloopsy movie so I could shower in peace.  When I got out of the shower, I found this:

At 8:45, I moved my trio upstairs for books and prayers.  Aggie Belle stayed right on our feet.  I had promised to hang out in the game room right by their room until they fell asleep.  Joelle fell apart crying as soon as I sat down.  Monkey see, monkey do, just in her own timing.  I had already taken part of an Ambien to help myself sleep tonight-I won't be doing that again this week til I know the girls are out cold.  Ugh, and only because my normally sluggish creative juices turn to rubber cement.  It's lovely.  I managed to think quick tonight and grabbed a box of markers and construction paper and hopped in bed with them.  Each day was given a different color by the girls, and we wrote out everything they had already said they wanted to do.  They know fun things are coming, but not when.  They do know the days of the week, so this should help immensely as it serves as a visual distraction.  We talked about how it's ok to be scared and sad, but that God is always with us.  Tina said she could feel His tight hugs.  Thank You, Lord, for caring for her precious little heart in a really rough time right now!  After two more hugs and kisses, I left, and now I'm typing and they are sound a sleep.  Zoo day tomorrow!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Little Girl Adventures Days 1 & 2

I have so much from this week that needs writing, but for now, I must start with yesterday and today.  I am on cloud nine and in little girl heaven!

Considering that at various times in my life we had extra 'siblings' around (totally 7 of us, but never all at once), I'm surprised I'm only totaling two nephews and three nieces at the moment (plus Layla the puppy).  I have a feeling the number will keep growing.  :)  Two of my sweet nieces, Tina and Joelle, live in Grapevine, about 15 minutes from my old house in Flower Mound.  I drove up yesterday to spend the afternoon with them and their mommy Bridget.  We had a great girls' afternoon, painting toes and visiting with their friend Tessy, who is from Nigeria.

When it was time for Bridget to head to work, I took the girls to visit our friend Sandy and her son Given, who had just returned earlier this week from Zambia.   The girls liked hearing about the trip, and I am so impressed with all they accomplished in such a short amount of time.  Sandy, Given, and our friend Dickson hit up the craft markets for me, and I literally drove home today with a huge suitcase stuffed full of wood carvings, copper art, oil canvas paintings, and etched stone.  I now have two giraffes, an elephant, and a guinea fowl, along with various things to hang on the wall.  I'm sure everyone thought I had forgotten it was July and not Christmas morning.  The three of them couldn't have done a better job of helping but Zambia in my home.  If I'd thought about it, the only thing I would've ask them to add was a bag of red dirt.  I miss that dirt.

On a side note, one of the Amish communities from PA was completely brainwashed to all things Zambian a handful of years ago when ZVC was still touring more frequently.  They have pulled together so much funding for the guys' church back home in Kalingalinga (Highland Baptist) and had a serious financial roll in helping them add to their facilities.  The church is thriving, and I randomly burst into a fit of giggles thinking about mainstream Americans, Amish, and Zambians all working on that church.  This is what Heaven will be like folks.  Get ready!

Dallas, I love that you have a Christian radio station that plays songs from when I was a kid and the current hits, but your heat makes me crazy.  And your construction traffic, well, that's just deplorable.  What kind of scam is going on with the government to decide to tear up that much road all at once??  We finally got out of all of that traffic and were able to swing by Chick-fil-A for a picnic dinner at the local botanical gardens, which is beautiful, by the way. And that's when the 'looks' started.  Oh, get over it people.  Yes, a white lady was walking around with two black little girls.  You were all sitting on a bench while your kids played, staring into space while I was pushing swings, talking with the girls, taking toes hostage for kisses, and sliding down slides with my big booty.  So, you stop forming opinions, and I will too.  Perhaps each one of you adults there had just had major surgery and aren't far enough along in the recovery process to yet be active.  See, I can come up with positive thoughts too. 

We came home in time to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony parade, and we counted how many countries we could find from Africa.  Actually, I let Tina count, and I kept my mouth shut.  I wanted to see how many should could recognize all by her big almost-second-grade-self.  She did exceptionally well for the part I let her stay up to see.  We had a little tea party during the parade (incredibly British and Zambian to celebrate something exciting with tea. How fitting!).  By 9:00, I had two sleepy girls on my hands, and they had no problem getting ready for bed, reading, saying prayers, and going to sleep.  The best souvenir of the night was pulling out my dirty laundry when we got home tonight and still smelling the sweetness of the best cuddles I've had in ages on the couch during the Opening Ceremony.  The Dallas heat had tried to make us all stanky (yes, stanky), but all that goodness was much too powerful for the heat.  I love that smell, but dirty clothes must still be washed, despite the fondest of memories. 

This morning I wanted to sleep and sleep.  Bridget got home from work about 12:20, and we stayed up another hour visiting, looking at things her brother sent from Zambia, and packing the girls.  I was proud of us for getting everything for a 7 year old and almost 3 year old for a whole week in one suitcase.  Yay!  Despite the big girls' lack of sleep, the little girls had had plenty, and by 9:30, they were roaring to go.  We took our time getting ready, left about 11:20, stopped an hour later for gas and lunch, swung by our library to load up on books, and walked in the door right before 5:00.  Um, I'll travel with these two smarties any day.  No fighting, just polite requests to turn the DVD screen a few times.  We talked, we sang, and they watched Little Mermaid twice.  I quickly learned I could play my cds with the speakers only on the front left, and they could still hear the movie and not really the music.  That made us all happy.  Old school Garth Brooks found his way out of the case, and I had forgotten how 'un-country' some of the Chris Gaines songs were from that album.  "Lost in You" is a beautiful song that I enjoy, but man, oh man, it mess with my brain trying to remember that it's truly Garth singing.  Check it out sometime.

The girls explored and read books while I unloaded and began dinner.  Isaac was tuckered out from working his booty off to make sure the crown molding was finished before his parents left today.  He then cleaned the whole house for the girls, and in this house, that's no easy feat.  I'm impressed.  After dinner, the girls had really begun warming up to Aggie Belle, as long as she didn't try to kiss their faces.  They decided to join our walk, and Tina pushed Joelle's stroller the whole way without complaining once.  We just chatted, met another big dog, and managed to avoid the mosquitoes. Joelle decided we needed a dance party in the bath tub tonight, and I am not one to turn down a dance party, no matter how brief.  Aggie Belle followed those girls from the tub to the bedroom for pjs to the bathroom for teeth brushing and night-night potties.  She reminds me so much of "Nana" in Peter Pan.  We read two stories out in the game room, had hugs and kisses, said prayers, and they were out ten minutes before my goal.  Now, if only we make it to church so promptly in the morning. 

Bridget, thank you for letting me borrow your two cuties for a week! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

TAHG Day 16

It was a little painful getting back on a schedule this morning to head to Quincy, MA.  As we rolled out of Boston, many of us called out, "So long, Boston!  We love you!"  I'm so, so, so glad this was how we ended the trip.

Quincy, MA is home to John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams.  We toured the two homes where each man was born.  It's a bit odd to stand in a home built nearly 400 years ago.  Across town is the presidential retirement home of John and Abigail.  It doesn't have the stature and grandeur of Montpelier, Monticello, and Mount Vernon, but it's still beautiful.  I was fond of the separate library that John had built just for his personal collection.  I'd kill for a 12,000 volume library of my very own.  Sheesh.  What made me laugh the hardest is that there is a bust of the Marquis de Layfeyette at the Adams' home.  This dude got around, and he left busts of himself everywhere he went.  I think we saw a bust in nearly every home we toured the past 16 days.  Seriously?!  Who does that?  What a hostess gift. "Thank you for being such an excellent hostess.  The meals were delicious and the bed comfortable.  As a token of my appreciation, place this bust of me on your mantlepiece." 
John Adams' family home.

John Adams' retirement home.

Now it's off to the airport and my own bed...about midnight, but that's ok.  I am so thankful God allowed me to participate in this phenomenal adventure of a business trip.  The lack of sleep and torn up feet are well worth every second of all I experienced. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

TAHG Day 15

Day 2 in Boston was even better than day one.  We began the morning once again in Boston Public Gardens/Boston Commons to enjoy the beauty, the swan boats, and the Make Way for Ducklings statue.  And yes, there are photos of me waddling like a duck with Mama Mallard and her ducklings.  Middle school teachers know no shame.

 The guys gave me the ‘cool card’ today, so I got to hang out with them, which meant a day full of really awesome sightseeing.  We began at the Boston Tea Party Museum, which has only been open about 3 weeks.  Yes, it costs $25 to get in, but it was worth every penny.  The tour begins in a town hall meeting (Faneuil Hall or Old South Meeting Hall-take your pick as they occurred in both), learning when it’s appropriate to yell “Huzzah” or “Fie” and making an incredibly loud raucous.  Four middle school teachers can make a huge scene on our own accord, but thankfully the rest of the crowd was into the reenactment as well.  We were each assigned rolls of real people who partook in the original Boston Tea Party, and our little group was specifically given the roles of various members of the press that attended since we all had our cameras out and at the ready.  Hey, if we can’t take our kids to this stuff, we have to bring it to our kids.  Don’t judge-they thought we were cool because we got really into it.  Ha.  We then boarded His Majesty’s trading ship the Beaver, well disguised as Mohawk Indians with feathers in our hair mind you, to break the lock off the hold, haul up the cargo of tea, and toss it overboard.  Huzzah!  We had to make escape before dawn, so we listened to two holograms (they look incredibly real) discuss the nuances of being loyal to the king versus the patriots.  Good times.  Then we saw one of the two remaining crates that held tea from 1773 and watched two oil paintings come to life, much like in Harry Potter.  One of the king’s men and Sam Adams really chewed on each other for a bit!  The next portion was a film depicting Paul Revere’s ride and the shot heard round the world, complete with rumbling floors from musket fire and quick whips of wind as the shots barreled past.   Our tour ended in Abigail’s (after Mrs. Adams) Tea Room where we were all served cups of hot or cold black or strawberry tea.  Yum!

My one request of the guys was to eat lunch at Union Oyster House.  We met up with Katy and Sandy to enjoy copious amounts of the most amazing clam chowder.  I had been waiting 9 ½ years for this treat again!  Our table was caddy corner to the booth John F. Kennedy always used when he would come to the restaurant.  If that’s not enough history, then it’s also the oldest remaining restaurant in Boston, and a favorite of my mom’s.  Delightful and delicious.  I made googly eyes at the lobsters in the tank just because I could.  J

The USS Constitution in one of the few remaining wooden active navy sailing ships in the world.  Today marked the anniversary of her first sail in 1798, and I was able to tour her today.  National Parks Services runs the site, but the Navy oversees it as well, so all of the tour guides aren’t park rangers but are active duty sailors.  Jason was our guide, and he said he has loved being assigned in Boston to meet people and share the Constitution’s story, but he’s starting to miss the big gray hull.  I bet, but the Constitution is a real beauty.  I’ve been falling off my pirate kick for a while, but after being on a few true sailing vessels this trip, I’ve begun missing the feel of sailing on a big ship.  Blame Captains Bruce and Jeff and the Summer of ’03.  Anyway, I can’t imagine 400-500 men on this ship just to be able to operate all the cannons on board.  Yet, that’s what it took to fend off the British and keep America from reverting back to a colony.  Huzzah!

The walk to Beacon Hill is pretty, but please no one tell me how much those homes costs.  It would ruin my day.  I think it’s hilarious that America built a monument to a battle that we lost to the British, but in a way, it’s fitting.  We lost the battle, but American lives were lost fighting for liberty.  Liberty always deserves recognition.

Dinner was at the one and only Cheers tonight.  We were celebrating a birthday tonight.  Yes, Cheers is worth all the hype.  I remember watching bits and pieces with my parents before bed as a little girl.  I think it’s time to get the seasons on DVD and catch up on what everyone else has been saying.  Oops.  It’s not always fun to be the third youngest out of 34.  Cheers was a great place to spend our final evening in Boston, talking and eating with amazing people that I am privileged enough with which to work.  The walk home through Boston Public Garden was incredible.  I loved watching families laughing and playing together without technology.  What an innovative concept.  

It’s hard to admit, but there’s an ever growing part of me ready to be home.  I love the travel and adventure and adrenaline high, but it’s time.  One more long day of work, and then I’ll be home for a super late bedtime.  My king size bed with one puppy under my left arm and the other on my feet or head (her choice, as usual) will be a treat!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

TAHG Day 14

While in Boston, we’re on our own.  No workshops to hold us to the clock, no tours-we just can’t be in the hotel during the day.  Um, why would anyone want to be?!  The grant paid for trolley passes, but I think we used it for about 20 minutes of a 12 hour day.  I love walking Boston.  It’s easy, mostly safe, and absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was out full steam, but I don’t think the temperatures ever reached 80.  We began in Boston Commons, one of my favorite parks.  It’s famous for the ducks and the swan boat tours.  The beauty of nature in that park is nearly overwhelming.
Boston Public Gardens in Boston Commons

We walked the Freedom Trail most of the day, going past Paul Revere’s tomb, Old City Hall, Old South Church, Old South Meeting House, the sight of the Boston Massacre of 1770, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  I love the restaurants and shops around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  I know they are incredibly touristy, but to me, they make Boston because they are centered round so much history.  I got my mom the souvenirs she wants, and then we walked around the Boston Tea Party section of Boston Harbor.  The harbor is so pretty.  The trolley tickets include harbor tours via boat, so we made sure we caught one of those.  I enjoyed sitting on the top deck and watching small sail boats race.  We saw most of the neighborhoods from the mini-cruise.  I think we might go back to the shipyards tomorrow to tour the USS Constitution.
Harbor cruise
 The evening was spent on the North Side (Little Italy).  We toured Old North Church where Paul Revere hung the lanterns to warn of the coming Red Coats.  We also walked past Revere’s home and strolled through the Italian streets.  A little restaurant called L’Ostria caught our eye, so we stopped there for dinner.  I had lobster ravioli tonight.  Then we went to the famous Mike’s Pastry Shop for cannolis.  Apparently carrying a Mike’s Pastry box around Boston is the equivalent of being a rock star because we got all kinds of attention.  My choice was chocolate mousse, and it was delightful.  We ate them in a park near Faneuil Hall, watching two little boys no older than 5 play baseball.  Such a hoot!

Paul Revere's statue outside the Old North Church


Friday, July 20, 2012

TAHG Day 13

The day dawned cloudy, breezy, and a blissfully cool.  Every place we went today was warmer inside than it was outside.  I like these kinds of days!

Minute Man National Historic Site tells the story of Paul Revere’s ride from Boston to Concord to warn the various towns that the British were coming to attack by sea.  He hung two lanterns in the Old North Church steeple to let the residents know the British would be there by morning and then rode inland to raise the alarm.  We walked across the bridge where the ‘shot heard ‘round the world’ was fired, beginning the start of the Revolutionary War. The other day I bought a shirt with a quote from Benjamin Franklin on it, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”  Yes, indeedy.

Industrial Revolution era technology intrigues me because global culture and economy made a huge shift from hand crafts to machinery.  We toured a mill name Boott Mill in Lowell, MA this afternoon.  It’s now a national park and tells the stories of mill workers from 1823 up until WWI.  The mill culture shift was incredible.  Up until the Civil War, it was almost cool to go off and work in the mills, at least up here in New England.  The hours were kept decent, the boarding houses clean, and the conditions as safe as possible.  With the war, everything changed as profits dropped from a lack of cotton import from the South.  Immigrants began moving to the area, and they would work for less pay and longer hours. Before long, the mills weren’t the happening place.  Disease was rampant from the workers blowing germs onto the thread shuttles.  Over 85 machines would be running at once.  I heard the noise of 12 of the weavers today; 85 would have been unbearable.  It took World War I to truly begin factory reform in Lowell.  I can’t imagine having to live like that just to survive. 

During the workshop portion of our mill tour, we pretended to be on an assembly line.  Our product was tea towels, and we used brown butcher paper, ink, and stamps to make them.  We had a blast, but I know it wasn’t really a fun job.  We also got to sit at old wooden looms and weave patterns.  Again, not an easy task, but one I really appreciated.  

We arrived in Boston right at rush hour, but I love driving through it.  Unlike D.C. and London, Boston is not a town I’d want to live in, but I very much enjoy visiting.  My first trip to Boston was 9 ½ years ago with my mom and there was 4” of snow on the ground.  It’s a bit different this time, and I love seeing everything from the lens of a warm season. 

Joe’s American Bar and Grill was recommended for dinner, and I’m glad some of us walked down to it.  Apparently reservations are required, but we were able to get a table anyway.  I’m on a seafood kick while I’m in town, so tonight was all about crabcakes.  Yum!
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