in mid-november, dave emailed me about an air canada "deal" to boston (i put deal in quotes because flight prices out of halifax make me quiver with rage). a short non-stop flight and we wouldnt need a rental car or hotel (kind, kind friends jo and patrick, we thank you!), this trip was doable and so, as is my custom, i called dave on his bluff. we checked with friends ntina and ben to see if they too could get the time off and miraculously, it all came together amid busy schedules and last minute-ness in under a week. we booked our flight and off we went toward a new years eve spent with our unofficial NYE crew (we previously did NYE 2006 in boston and NYE 2007 in DC. the group temporarily disbanded when we moved to france).
we had uneventful air travel in the morning (we had to get up at 6a, but at least the flight got us in on-time), however X decided she didnt need to nap on the plane (which she normally does if we wake her up early). our friend jody picked us up and we installed our car seat. we made it to her place easily (though X still refused to nap). we got settled in jodys apartment and X explored. eventually patrick woke up (he had just gotten back from the west coast) and X received a cool animal block set from them (presented by uncle pattycakes in an effort to bribe Xs good opinion). only after she fully checked out the toy (and approved of both the toy and patrick) did she consent to a nap.
and now i was able to engage in the seriously satisfying art of sitting at a table and calmly catching up with an old friend. no interruptions. it was heavenly. we hadnt seen jo and patrick since brooklyn, but even then we didnt really get to catch up. dave was also able to bathe in UM football talk with patrick like two pigs in shit. thank god he has someone as fanatic as him to talk to about his team with.
and then, after just an hour of calm, X woke up and was back in action. we grabbed lunch from the harvest co-op and fiores bakery down the street from them. my sandwich was awesome, i could have eaten three of them. but, it was time for us to get rolling. ntina and ben were flying in and jody could drop us at the franklin zoo on her way to the airport. we needed to get X out for an activity to burn off steam.
the zoo was awesome! it was $16 per person but it was totally worth it. we zipped through the bird building and some outdoor animals so we could make it to the jungle building in time for the "gorilla encounter". so glad we did. the zookeeper had strewn snacks (cut-up veggies) on the ground near a huge bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. we were right up front when the mama gorilla and baby (who was riding piggyback) sauntered over to eat. other females slowly came over, and then the large male of the group showed himself. they were eating snacks a few inches from our noses. X loved it.
we then took our time with the rest of the zoo. X was waving like a mad woman at all the animals and saying "hi [insert animal]". it was melt-worthy cute. we also got to hear the lion roaring. he had jumped up on his huge rock and was staring at the people making a subdued roaring noise. its more action than i think ive ever seen from lions at the zoo. after we had finished walking around, we called jody and she came back to pick us up (what a great, uncomplaining driver!).
back at her place, ntina and ben had arrived and we all melded together and settled in to our comfortable spots in the crew (X was again buttered up for new toys). then a trip to whole foods was ordered for dinner items and patrick commenced cooking his yummy veggies and pasta dinner. meanwhile, the adults had appetizers and X munched on some new finds from whole foods (a bite of an "ice cream" we could actually eat, some new sheep cheese, and crackers).
in thinking about all the food we had already consumed and were about to consume (from whole foods), dave and i shook our heads in disbelief at the total bill. this was boston, a MAJOR u.s. city, yet we would easily pay $20-30+ more in halifax for the same type of food, though not even at the same quality. it seriously frustrates me.
anyway, eventually dinner was ready and i was able to have a meal around a table with people i am comfortable with, who know me, who have a great sense of humor, and who always help me dust off the cultural and intellectual cobwebs. we are SO lacking this kind of company in halifax. i loved it. the crew had me laughing until i cried. for that meal alone, the trip had paid for itself.
X wolfed down some bowties and went to bed decently. the poor kid always has it a bit rough on travel day: adjusting to everything, messed up sleep, getting her food issues jacked around. but she did a great job and slept pretty well.
we woke up before jo and patrick so we milled around playing with pandora (sweet sweet pandora how i missed you! i HATE being blocked out of you in canada!) and i took X outside to play. she loved hearing and watching the trains run down the tracks (just down the block from jo is the rail).
back inside, the crew wrapped up a breakfast of steel cut oats and a buffet of add-ins. then we jumped on the T to head downtown and visit the new england aquarium. we had been here before, actually during our "NYE 2006" visit, but its such a gorgeous place and was a definite must after we saw Xs reaction to the zoo. just after the ticket booth outside are the seals, you can stand right up at the glass and they swim right next you. then the first thing you see when you get inside are the penguins. and then you start ascending the spiral around the giant fish tank. its a pretty cool set-up. the tank was full of turtles, fish, sharks, rays, etc. and X was waving to all of them and saying "hi"..."hi sea ray. hi turtle, hi shark." on an upper level was a touch tank for starfish and sea urchins (a bit crowded but a great idea). and on our way out we attempted the touch tank for sharks but it was too crowded and X was getting cranky by then, so we went to have a snack.
(behind dave and X is the penguin exhibit; X touching a starfish)
after we regrouped, we went out walking. the adults needed a snack now. we headed toward a place called joes. on the way we saw a drummer and flute player (playing music circa the revolutionary war) that entranced X. even some of the other spectators pointed at her and commented. yup, shes a freak for rhythms and beats. then we went to joes and had a decent light meal. the manager was nice enough to assure me that they were capable of dealing with food sensitivities, so it was nice not to have to worry. and, while there, i got to have one of those awesome mom-and-child-in-a-bathroom-stall experiences you always laugh about when it happens to some other woman. X was talking to me about poop while i was changing her diaper in the communal bathroom. loved it.
(staring at the musicians)
while the other adults luxuriated in an unhurried meal, X declared she was done well before the rest of the party and so we spent some frigid time at the playground out in front of the restaurant. eavesdropping on the local wealthy city moms was a rare treat though ("he wanted me to read him a second book and i told him 'well honey, momma needs some adult time now'"). when the rest of the group joined us outside, we shared a dreamy walk through festive fanueil hall toward our T stop. the city was still abuzz with families (not yet tucked in at home, before the party people come out to ring in the new year) because boston had organized a really cool "first night" festival. X was just a wee too young to really benefit from that. maybe next time...
(in front of the large christmas tree in fanueil hall)
back in jamaica plains (where jo and pattycakes officially live), we settled in for our night of just hanging out. at one point, during communal dinner prep, there was a rousing chorus of "row, row, row your boat" that tickled X to no end (she still talks about it!). all the adults added their spin on the classic rhyme (although pattycakes was the most unconventional by overlaying the rhythm with the 'dirty dancing' song "ive had the time of my life". im not sure i can explain this any better than that, other than to say "you had to be there").
(jo and patrick recreating a NYE 2006 photo; X entertaining; X examining ben)
anyway, eventually we all gathered round for our late night dinner of steak, greek potatoes, and brussel sprouts. dave doesnt cook me much steak, so it was a treat for me. and X you ask? the child had a wee nap on the T ride home from the aquarium and thus was capable of staying up until 11:30p!
the child can be maddening! once she did finally go to bed, i had just enough energy to ring in the new year before i joined her in bed. this is clearly waaay more activity and stimulation than i am used to at home!
even when you have a fairly subdued NYE, it holds that you must chill out on new years day. it just wouldnt do to start the new years in a frenzy. we got up and made pancakes and bacon and hung out. the weather was shaping up to be pretty gorgeous (considering it was early january) and so we all headed over to the arnold arboreteum ("the oldest public arboretum in north america"). loads of people were out celebrating a new year and the great weather. it was a really nice park. we even attempted a group shot which turned out...so so.
(best attempt at the group shot)
after the walk, we hung around the apartment until ntina and ben went to the airport. then we grabbed dinner fixings from whole foods again and dave made mexican food. after X went to bed (at a sane time), we were able to spend the rest of our visit finally vegging and chatting about nothing (and being envious of jo and patricks kindles. i guess we should get one one day...). it was a great way to close out the trip. we are lucky to have such friends (to read another [lengthier] version of this weekend, see ntinas blog entry).
we were up early for our flight home. jo kindly crawled out of bed to drop us off and just like that, our boston trip was over. it was the perfect amount of time to be gone and we had had good weather and a nice visit. our flight was uneventful, we got off on time and arrived 30 minutes early during a very windy and rainy storm. we were actually lucky to have landed so easily, or to have landed at all!