Sunday, July 27, 2008

Celeste's Birthday

8 weeks have come and gone here in Boston. This weekend really sank home with me. We got out on Fri, and Sat and did so many interesting and fun things. It hit me that Boston is one sweet city. I think it is by far the coolest "big" city I've ever been too.

When we first arrived, it was hard to see past the disastrous roads, and the crazy drivers. But after adjusting and then experiencing Boston, you see what a beautiful place it is. New York is busy, angry and dirty. LA is over-crowded, dangerous, and polluted. Chicago is nice in certain areas, and scary in others. Madrid comes close to competing with Boston, but it's in Europe. Boston is family-friendly, American, historic, and simply charming. I really like this place. Too bad it sits under snow for 8 months out of the year...

To kick things off, we did a Boston by Foot tour. Celeste did one Friday morning of the Victorian Back Bay. If you go and look at a map of Boston from the Revolution, you'll see that it was a little peninsula/island city. They chopped up the hills to fill in some areas to create more real estate. For the Back Bay area, they hauled in train loads of dirt and gravel for many years just to create a pretty, picturesque neighborhood. And so they did. And so it is.

In the evening, we did the Beacon Hill tour, which is where the State Courthouse is. It was the seat of the Federalist style architecture. There were some really amazing neighborhoods in that area. It was peaceful and quiet and charming, and only costs a cool 2 million to live there. It was a great tour nonetheless.

Saturday we visited Walden Pond since we missed it last week. We only spent a little while there just enjoying the water and beach. It was very picturesque. Then we went back to the Minute Men Visitor's Center to catch a flick about the "Road to Revolution". It documented the fighting that occurred in that first eventful battle along the road from Boston to Concord. It was a very well done presentation that informed us without draining the life from us. Afterward Celeste puzzled why History Teachers are so boring in their history presentation. It's all overheads and note taking. No flash. No pizazz. Just boredom. Something needs to change there, because history is a sensational subject!

For the evening, and to celebrate Celeste's 29th birthday, we shut Brooklyn in the closet with a sippie cup and binkie, and painted the town red! Just kidding. We were good parents, and got a babysitter. But we still painted the town. We had a delicious meal at Legal Sea Restaurant right on the wharf in downtown Boston. It's reported the best seafood joint in town. I'll give my thumbs up. I typically have to force my seafood down with a healthy portion of liquid. Not this time! I had the rainbow trout in butter chive sauce and it was really good! Celeste had an equally delicious Wild Salmon dish with a skewer of shrimp. Besides the food, the restaurant scored high marks for two other reasons. First, despite the 45 minute wait, we took a small table right in the entrance right away since it was designated similar to the oyster bar. Secondly, they brought a credit card swiper machine right to the table, and (here's the clentcher) they had 4 available options to enter the tip amount. The 15%, 18%, and 20% tip was already calculated for you. Just a push of a button. Also if you wanted to enter your own amount, you could do that too. I thought it was genius. I loved it. So Celeste won a victory last night because I'm a little closer to the seafood loving style of life.

To wrap up the evening, we saw Shakespeare in the Park. It was down in Boston Common, and they performed 'As You Like It'. The set was cool, and they set it in the 1940s Germany, which was interesting. The acting was neither here nor there. Some people we liked, others we didn't. We felt they could have cut some of the rather obtuse scenes from the play, but overall it was fun. There's nothing like Shakespeare to end a wonderful birthday bash!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Warning: American History Ahead

This weekend's adventure was wholly patriotic. We started with swimming with some frogs!
Ok. Maybe that bit wasn't patriotic, but on we went to Concord to see where 'America' started.
We began our walk through time with a minuteman carrying his customary gun and a plow. Those brave men had to be ready at any minute to drop their field work and join the fight for freedom.
This is the Old North Bridge where colonists fired the first shots at British soldiers. It was of this place that Emerson wrote the Hymn, "...Here once the embattled farmer stood, and fired the shot heard round the world."
Next we visited the Old Manse. It is a stone's throw from the Old North Bridge. This place was amazing. It is by far my favorite stop in Boston. William Emerson was a Patriot minister and fought at the Bridge. His wife watched the whole battle from the study window. Emerson survived the battle and continued to act as a minister for the Patriot Army. His grandson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, penned his famous essay 'Nature' while living in this house. Emerson died and his wife later remarried another minister, Ripley. The Ripley's rented the Old Manse out to the Hawthorne's for their honeymoon. They ended up staying for three years. They were terrible renters. Never paid rent. She painted their bedroom metallic gold. She scrawled various things on the windows using her diamond ring. Needless to say, the Ripley's were upset after 3 years went by. However, Hawthorne wrote a lot of things while staying in the house, and coined the title Old Manse. When Hawthorne came back later in life to Concord, he sqaured his debt and became good friends with the Ripleys.

Anyways, I could go on with all the rich history of this place. That's why I liked it so much. It was just an ordinary house, next to an ordinary bridge, but so much interesting history happened there.
We visited the Orchard House, where Little Women was written. It was interesting too, but I've never read much or heard much about the Alcotts and the book, so it wasn't as interesting to me. Celeste really enjoyed it though. There were several successful writers who lived here in Concord. Mr. Alcott was good friends with Thoreau and Emerson. His daughter writes one of the most famous novels, and Hawthorne lived down the street. Interesting stuff.

Last of all, we went to the beach (again, not so patriotic) to see some sand 'castles'. They had this big sand sculpture festival, so we went to see the entries. Needless to say, they were amazing. Enjoy the pics!

(This was my favorite!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Winning,Wingaersheek, Wounds, and Whales

This weeks highlights.............

Brooklyn astride the Tortoise, as it wins the race to the Hare.

Building sandcastles and digging holes on Wingaersheek beach.

Brad went paintballing. There was a considerable amount of running, crouching, and hiding.

Therefore, he received some horrific wounds. (As you see in his cry of agony.)

While Brad was expressing his instinctual man-hunt side, Celeste went Whale Watching. She cried, it was so wonderful!!! Brooklyn cried also, but because she wanted to run up and down the dangerous boat stairs, and mom wouldn't let her.

Here is a video of a whale lob-tailing, apparently it's very rare. The guide said he was just playing around trying to get attention. (Ignore the first 20 secs.)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A little time on the side.......

Okey Dokey time for another book review.. Celeste style....non-detailed, non-literary, non-intelligent, but highly recommend. Or so people lie to me......

***Get It Today!!!
** Pretty Darn Good
* Skip it

**(*) The Host: Ahhhh Stephanie Meyer, I wanted to love this book so much because, you wrote it, and ....... I did!!!. Had some flaws, but I'm a sci-fi girl at heart, so naturally I devoured it. Who cares if all those love sappy girls were disappointed there was no Edward, who cares- you gave me something better- mind controlling aliens!!! I knew that if only we knew each other at BYU, we could have been best friends watching Star Trek together!! I even recommend this book to Brad- and I hardly EVER do that. I have a theory... Brad only likes book with a male protagonist written by a male, and has a flying mythical creature in it. But, I think he would like this one. (nows he's going to write a post defending himself.)

**Uglies, Pretties, Specials by Scott Westerfield- A Young Adult Trilogy. A not too distant future where it is required to get surgery at 16 years old to make you supermodel beautiful. Fun concept, lots of hoverboard action. Wasn't crazy about the 3rd book though.

***Invasive Procedures- Orson Scott Card. If you like Dan Brown books ("DaVinci Code/Angels and Demons"), you'll love this book. A religious cult is performing surgeries to heal genetic diseases, while releasing a horrible virus. Page turning action with great dialogue.

***A War of Gifts- Short story to add on to the Ender's Game Saga. Must read for those Ender Fans. If you haven't read "Ender's Game"- What's the matter with you??

*The Lightning Thief- Juv. Fiction. Disappointing, boring, predictable. To many parallels to Harry Potter and his crew.

*** The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing- African American is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War. A must for historical fiction lovers.

***(*) The Book Thief- I'm adding a extra star, because it deserves it. This is the book you should read.
A young girls life during the events of World War Two. Wonderfully written. Cried laughed, threw the book across the room. Comparable to "Thousand Spelindid Suns/Kite Runner".

*** I Am The Messenger- same author as "Book Thief". A cab-driver begins recieving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help. So hard to put down. Again cried, laughed, no throwing this time, but my heart melted a few times.

So there you go. Happy Reading!
And always interested in what you are reading!!