Tuesday, May 24, 2011

B-b-b-back!

My thoughts on the past 4 days can basically be summed up thus:

Family vacations are fun.

...for the most part. I love that we three are a family now - mama bear, baba bear, and baby bear all travelling together and experiencing a new place together and exploring together, being present together. The flip side of this is that you find yourself sprinting through the Island airport because SOMEBODY didn't put in baby bear's full, unwieldy middle name into the booking information and fixing that in the system takes about 45 minutes and then you are the last people to board the plane but OF COURSE you get randomly selected to have your hands wanded by security for mysterious substances unknown (aside: seeing them wand the Boobla's chubby mitt was kind of the cutest, even as we were trying to juggle purse, diaper bag, Big Yam, shoes, stroller, luggage, Dotytron's guitar, knapsack) and then you arrive breathless on the plane with a flustered and unsettled baby who's been up for the past 3 hours only to find your departure delayed by 45 minutes because of "refueling issues" (aside: I kind of hate it when the captain gives too much detail - I don't need to know if we're having refueling issues!! That sounds scary!) Oy.

Travelling with kids is hard. I can see why people go to all inclusive resorts and Disney World. You have to pack a lot of stuff (and keep in mind, we were still on the same continent!) and you have to factor in nap times and feeding times and diaper changing scenarios and pack food and breast milk and eating/crapping/sleeping supplies and you can't eat in the same restaurants you're used to eating in (next time, Menton! Next time, Clio!) No more 30 seat restaurants that don't take reservations, no more 4 hour tasting menus.

That being said - I wouldn't have left the Big Yam at home for anything. It was so relaxing being there as a family away from all the usual day-to-day push and pull - I loved this concentrated time away with them. I can definitely see why parents leave the kids at home to reconnect with their significant others, but I come from a family where vacationing was almost exclusively a FAMILY pursuit - so I don't really get families where the parents always travel separately from their kids. Yes, it gets expensive (once the kid requires their own plane seat) and the logistics are tough, and you can't necessarily go to the same places you used to - but at the same time, I think it's so important for building an understanding of family to be going through the same travel experience together. To be the outsiders together and to navigate through the stresses as a family unit. My favorite night was Sunday, when we gave up on the Freedom Trail (more on that later) in the early afternoon and came back to the hotel and ordered pizza and ate takeout and watched Game of Thrones (in real time!) on the big flat screen tv all smushed together in the king sized bed with the fluffy sheets and giant-a** pillows.

It also helps to have a baby that EVERYONE FALLS IN LOVE WITH. It's kind of uncanny that misanthrope me produced a kid that randomoniums lurve. So many times when we were walking, I'd catch someone looking at the stroller and then smiling and I'd catch their eye and get the residual, Big Yam-adoration afterglow washing over me. The Dotytron observed it a few times too and finally said, "People love their Thelonious Doty." So true! We'd either get that kind of passive exchange or a more direct, outright, "you baby is so cute" action. Now, it could be that those people are just general baby-lovers. I'm NOT a general baby-lover so I don't know. I know that I do find a lot of kids I don't know either completely uninteresting or downright repulsive (especially if they're precocious)...regardless of the roots behind people's Big Yam-goodwill, it certainly helps to soften the rough edges of travel.


Boston is generally a pretty kid-friendly town. There's an awesome aquarium (which we went to, see above), a children's museum (when he's older), a science museum (ditto), and a bunch of good, family-friendly places to eat (Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, Jasper White's Summer Shack) that still satisfy my chowhound palates AND allow you to make a mess (Summer Shack serves complimentary baskets of soft rolls and cornbread and we sat the Big Yam down in a high chair and gave him chunks of cornbread to feed himself. 20 minutes later, after noticing that he was BLOWING through the cornbread, I finally turned to the Dotytron and said, "I can't BELIEVE how much cornbread this dude is eating!" and then happened to glance down at the floor which I actually couldn't see because it was COMPLETELY OBSCURED by a dense, cornbread-spit-crumb shag carpet fabricated by Big Yam design corp, and when I apologized profusely to the servers they were beyond gracious about it), and it's walkable and the transit system makes a lot of sense and covers a lot of ground.

A transit SNAFU perpetrated by the combined navigationally challenged forces of the Dotytron and myself resulted in one of the best moments of the trip. It was late in the day on Friday after we had taken about a billion transfers to get to our stop only to find that we exited at the wrong end of the subway platform. As we doubled back around, we were flustered but determined to make the best of things and we both said out loud, "It's aight, it's aight" and then this old homeless-y looking guy, turned around, as if he had heard us, and threw a reassuring nod in our direction. It was THE BEST! Like, the timing couldn't have been more perfect for a reassuring, random, assurance in the "don't worry be happy" vein from a probable derelict. Best!

There's a lot of historical stuff in Boston as well, which is, quite frankly, if you travel the way the Dotytron and I do (which is: don't read up on anything about the place you're going to before you go, unless it's food related), the boringest. There's the Freedom Trail which sounds kind of exciting in a Michael Bay movie kind of a way, but is basically a series of ye olde tyme-y brick buildings filled with colonial-era furniture and sometimes a Benjamin Franklin impersonator or two talking about printing presses and how the British suck. Okay fine. To be honest, we have no idea what goes on INSIDE the buildings because we walked the trail for like, 2 seconds and saw 2 buildings of historical renown before deciding that this was the most heinous stuff ever. Sooo snoozy! I think my history-comes-alive hierarchy of preference goes something like, 1) animatronics, 2) movies, 3) people in costumes (not talking), 4) people in costumes (talking), 5) war reenactments (for like, 2 seconds), 6) buildings of historical significance with wordy placards.
We did a LOT of walking and eating and sightseeing and figured out what neighbourhood we would live in if we were to move there (in Cambridge, close to the river). We really loved the town, over all. It's a good mix of city pleasures and neighbourhoods to explore and fun things to do without being too NYC hectic. Heck, I'd move there to have ready access to Flour Bakery and Cafe alone - I could eat there for breakfast every day of the year. The Dotytron loved the fact that Berklee school of music means that every busker you hear is a highly accomplished jazz musician.

Here's a publicly accessible link to my Facebook album of the trip...to save me the trouble of uploading a million shots: Bostonia

The night before we left I made chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and a cool cucumber and tomato salad with ranch dressing:


Last night for dinner I made us those potato, egg, and pepper harissa Moroccan sandwiches:


Tonight I'm making a tofu and vegetable chow mein stir fry - to try to counteract the pounds and pounds of seafood I ate all weekend.

Bonus shot of the Big Yam playing in our freshly made bed last night:


Can you believe it's nearly June? Argh!!! Summer is almost over! We're already booking into the third weekend of June at this point...

Fin.

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