BMG

meghan @ blue man group
The ushers passed out strips of paper as we entered, suggesting we “turn it headbands or scarfs, or whatever you like.” Meghan liked a hair bow.

I got a text from my sister-in-law on a Thursday: would you like a pair of tickets to see Blue Man Group this Sunday?  Something came up and we can’t use them.

Always quick on my feet, I got back to her over an hour later, asking her where (even though there’s only one place in the area).

Both girls declined repeated offers to go with me.  Apparently I smell bad or something, but opportunity only knocks once.  At least Meghan was willing to go, but only after I promised to keep to the speed limit this time.*

audience

The show was hilarious and high-energy.  It does appear to evolve over time, as it’s not the same show that we saw last time – except for the general tenor it was basically a new show to me.  If you too haven’t seen it in twenty years, go again.

*this is a short story: before Meghan and I were married we went to see Blue Man Group with Kennon and Katie.  While cruising down the Massachusetts Turnpike I was pulled over for “speeding and weaving.”  I disputed the ticket because I honestly don’t think I was speeding when the cop saw me (I now freely admit to having been speeding earlier) and the weaving charge was just plain stupid.  I was half successful.

NYE 2016

Date: Evening of December 31, 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Event: New Year’s Eve

baba and alpha

Baba and Alpha, watching the carousel

We rang in the New Year in traditional style: a night out in Boston.  This year we had the very good fortune to be joined by Baba (Meghan’s mother, the girls’ grandmother).

Most years we take a train into the city to avoid issues with ‘amateur night’ drivers, but not this year. Being a Saturday, the commuter rail only runs a limited schedule; there are extra trains but not until later in the evening.

We reserved parking right next to the Commons (Parking Panda to the rescue!) but planned to start the night at Quincy Market.  I dropped the rest of the family off there and ran downtown to park the car.  I made the short walk back to meet with everyone again in about fifteen minutes.

The Black RoseWe shopped a bit before getting an excellent early dinner at The Black Rose.  We’ve been there several times; despite it’s location right next to Quincy Market it doesn’t have the air of a tourist trap.  It does have excellent Guinness on tap, though!

Let me back up a few days before I present the next photo: both girls have had braces on their teeth for a long while, until this past week.  Beta will be getting a second round when she gets a little older, but for now they both have brilliant smiles.

Alpha Mom and Beta

Alpha, Mom, and Beta, dinner at the Black Rose in Boston

Dinner was followed by a little more window-shopping, a brief stop for Blink, the Greenway Carousel, and dessert in the market.

We walked from Quincy Market to Boston Common, about a mile.  We stopped for hot chocolate and hot apple cider across the street at The Thinking Cup Cafe.  Both were very good.

Finally, at 7 pm: fireworks.

fireworks

NYE 2016 Fireworks – my phone’s camera cannot do them justice, but they were right over our heads

After the fireworks, our decision to park across the street paid off.  We picked up the car and made it out of the city before the rest of the traffic.

Baba slept over our house to avoid amateur night traffic, rain – the threat of rain made good shortly after we got home – and for a promise of waffles in the morning.  Meghan and her mom stayed up to watch a show, Hinterland, but everyone was asleep well before midnight.

Stargazing At MOS

There’s a small, boring backstory: Meghan renewed our membership with the Museum of Science (MOS), then asked me if we should renew it (she asked me via text, so she may have a different order of events).  I said we shouldn’t, since the girls haven’t been interested in going and we basically did not go at all last year — HOWEVER if we were to actually go just once I would be happy to renew while we were on-site.  Despite talking about this all over text, Meghan’s disappointment was evident as she dutifully cancelled the renewal.

I considered my options carefully, as the couch isn’t a particularly comfortable place to sleep, and gently reminded her that the MOS has an observatory that they open on Friday nights to view the stars — therefore it would be open later that night, and I would happily renew while we were there.  All we had to do was get the kids on board with going, or figure out what they would do while the two of us went.  (The girls thought this was a cool idea.  50 points to Gryffindor.)

Saturn

Credit to https://bkellysky.wordpress.com/

A few hours later we found ourselves standing on the roof of the MOS parking garage, waiting for our turn at the telescope.  Sadly, I could not photograph the view from the telescope, but it was a surprisingly clear view of Saturn.  A number of other people have taken photographs that are pretty similar to what we saw.  Happily the docent was informative and happy to answer questions, and didn’t make us feel rushed.  The MOS seems to have crowd management around the telescope down pat.

While we were waiting our turns, we took a few other pictures of Boston and astronomical phenomena, and watched the city bustle around us.

Jupiter and moon

Look to the left and up from the moon, that’s Jupiter. High, thin clouds were moving in, backlighting the view and obscuring the dimmer stars. The photo was taken with my cell phone, apologies for the potato-like quality.

 

Jones Family Outing

The Mystic Jones Clan met us at the Museum of Science today.  They’ve never been, we’re long-time members with a fistful of free passes, and the various cousins love seeing each other, so it was a date.

We planned to meet at the museum, but our first hurdle was knowing what time they would arrive — it’s a 90 minute drive for them, but only 20 minutes for us.  We made a rough guess on when to leave, and happened to get into the parking garage two cars before they did.  The museum garage was full, so we both wound up in overflow parking around the corner at the Galleria Mall.

lightning exhibitThe MOS is the MOS, which means we all had a good time.  Half of us got to see the electricity show, half chose to play in the animal displays.  We all got to play in the hands-on bits in the ‘models’ exhibit.

The youngest cousin is not quite six, so we finished with the museum after not too long.  He had fun monkeying around in the Discovery Center for a while, but even that’s not enough for a six year old to last all day.

Meghan and Mu

Meghan kept little Mu busy and entertained. When he snuggled up in a sleepy-little-kid pose we had a collective realization that he’s tired.

We wandered back to the mall to grab a little food and figure out dinner.  A mall-wide fire alarm kept us outside for a bit, but eventually the fire department showed up and disabled it — false alarm.  We considered our options while running around Newbury Comics and settled on an early dinner at P. F. Chang’s – right outside the mall.

The food was excellent, the service was terrible, the kids were acceptable.  Meghan got in some little boy time, giving Katie a break.

As the sun went down, some flurries kicked up as a fresh storm prepared to roll in overnight.  The Mystic Joneses had a long drive home so we all packed up and headed out.

lighting show

The Lighting Show in the Theater of Electricity, at the Boston Museum of Science. Meghan thinks the bolt looks like a dancer.

Sherlock

Sherlock S4E1One of my favorite TV series is Sherlock, the modern update to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character.  There are three 90+ minute episodes per season, and the seasons are spaced two years apart.

The latest season has been much anticipated by fans, so much so that the first episode, titled The Abominable Bride, warranted a limited cinematic co-release with the premier on television.

Meghan, bless her heart, found out about this release and that one of the lucky cinemas to have some showings is near us.  My Christmas present was a pair of tickets.  Naturally, one was actually for her.  (Though she had the good taste to not point that out.)

Date Night!

Meghan’s mom came up to babysit the girls.  Since we were going to be out late, she planned to stay overnight.  (That plan changed at the last minute: she developed conjunctivitis the same day, and still came up, but elected to drive herself home when we got home — at 10 pm.)

Meghan and I drove into the city a bit early to have a nice dinner.  Not knowing the city all that well, we parked the car around the corner from the cinema and followed our noses.

Meghan at Papagayo

Meghan at Papagayo

We stumbled upon a hole in the wall called Papagayo.  Unlike the nearby restaurants with flashy signs and prices to match, our meal was very tasty and surprisingly inexpensive.

After dinner we had time to kill so we took in some local flavor.  Within a couple of city blocks we had encountered two universities, a handful of theaters, Macy’s, Chinatown, and a strip club.

Alas, it was time for the movie so we shuffled back to the cinema and headed up.  You can already find the episode on television so I’ll not bore with details; I will say that it was good.  My favorite scene was when Sherlock came to (the first time).

NYE 2015

Meghan and Quinn

Quincy Market. The girls wanted nothing to do with this selfie.

Another year, another amazing fireworks show on Boston Common!

The weather has been abnormally warm this year.  Christmas day was in the 60’s, and NYE was in the upper 40’s during the day.  The fireworks, held at 7 pm, were not uncomfortably cool.

Being a tradition, we like to make an evening of it.  We took the train in, arriving at North Station and walking around the city.  Even though we have a train station in town, the parking sucks and the fares are higher so we head down the road to Anderson RTC in Woburn.  The MBTA makes outbound trips free on NYE after 8 pm, so it’s even cheaper to take the train (and just as convenient).

Beta child on the carousel

The carousel doesn’t have any horses, but it does have squirrels, owls, and a sea turtle

On the greenway in front of Quincy Market there is a carousel.  December 31 is the last day of the season, so the kids like to get in one last ride.  This year we arrived after dark so all the lights were on.

After the carousel, we headed across the street to Quincy Market.  The Christmas tree was still lit and the holiday show, Blink!, was still running.  It’s just a small light show and music that plays a few times an hour, but it’s a nice touch.

Dad and beta

Dad and Beta making bad faces for the selfie

We got dinner at the kiosks in Quincy Market.  It was nothing to write home about except this year there was a teenage guy playing rock hits on his guitar in the central seating area that Alpha was quite taken with.  Meghan gave her some money to throw in his guitar case.  It was all very cute.

We got some dessert and hot chocolate on our way out, and ate it on the way.  The kids got cannoli, which weren’t quite as good as what’s available in the North End but seemed to be pretty good regardless.  Meghan and I shared a slice of German Chocolate cake.

Alpha and Dad

Heading home, and all smiles!

With the weather being so nice a lot of people turned out this year, and the hill overlooking the baseball diamond was downright crowded.

A funny thing about these fireworks: they always seem to have more than one climax.  We always have to wait for a few moments to make sure they’re really done this time, before heading out.  We caught a train from North Station before 8:30, had the girls in bed before 10.  No, we didn’t stay up until midnight either.

Everybody

Everybody!

Magnus Chase

Alpha and Beta have been following the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan almost since the books first came out.

To kick off the latest series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Mr. Riordan hosted a Q&A / talk in downtown Boston that Meghan and the girls attended.  They got signed copies of the book, and some swag, to boot.

Alpha holding book and swag

Alpha is very excited to a) see Mr. Riordan, b) get a copy of his latest book, and c) get some swag

When I went to pick them up, there was no question I was in the right spot: as I watched, a sudden stream of very happy people holding ‘Magnus Chase’ foam shields appeared on the side walk.  The event was sold out and the auditorium was standing-room-only.

New Year’s 2014

xmas tree

The Christmas tree at Quincy Market, December 2014

We have established some new family traditions around Christmas and New Years:

  • a family night out to Quincy Market to see the Christmas tree and have some dinner;
  • the early-evening fireworks on Boston Common for New Year’s Eve.

These are real, official traditions – we’ve done them for at least two years in a row.

The night at Quincy Market isn’t fancy: a casual stroll around the touristy section of Boston, with some overpriced dinner and maybe some trinkets from the various and sundry vendors.  A ride on the carousel, before it closes for the year, is mandatory.

selfie, Dad and Alpha child

My beard makes me look like sasquatch

Along with the Christmas tree there is a light show called ‘Blink,’ which plays every hour or so.  Music by the Boston Pops is piped in over the loudspeakers.


We chose to stay home for Christmas Day, rather than travelling to Connecticut to join our folks.  That is a tradition I can get behind – so much less stress than driving around all day.

We didn’t plan much for the day.  We held open the possibility of going to the cinema, but the girls wanted to stay home and watch a movie we got for Christmas (Guardians of the Galaxy).  Having a low-stress holiday is refreshing, so unlike the holidays of my childhood.

My folks weren’t thrilled with not seeing us – my father is very resistant to change, and he’s accustomed to hosting the entire family – but we had Christmas Part II on the following Sunday, which was actually pretty fun.


starburst

A pair of starbursts over Boston Common, New Year’s Eve 2014

This year Baba (the kids’ name for their grandmother) joined us for the fireworks.  We took the train in, ate dinner in the city, and walked to the Common with hot chocolate in hand.

The weather was cold but the sky was clear.  The show ran a little long, about 15 minutes, but the kids were thrilled and we all forgot about the cold for a bit.

North End travels

Beta is more intrepid than her older sister, so the two of us go on adventures when Megh is busy and Alpha just wants to stay home.  On Sunday afternoon we headed into Boston’s North End to explore.

I actually found legal, on-street parking (oh joy!) and only had to reverse down a one-way street to get it.

We ate gelato at the Gelateria, around the block from where we parked.  I had chocolate (very chocolate, very smooth) and Beta had mint chocolate chip.

image

Gelateria

The trip was cut short because she decided that she wanted to home home — it was late, she was tired (it was her idea to come, I wasn’t dragging her anywhere).  I have to admit her timing was pretty good, though.  So we grabbed a few cannoli for after dinner before we headed out the door, two chocolate chip and one nutella.  I’m not a fan but Megh said they were delicious.