Sunday, August 03, 2014


We drove up to Boston last Friday, which was a really long day.  We left at 9:15 and got into the hotel at 9:45, after traffic, construction, and many, many potty breaks after lunch due to Micah, Drew, and Faith.  It was stressful!  I had stayed up until 1:00 the previous night finishing the packing, and my glucose numbers were high both the travel day, as well as the next day.  I think it was due to stress, since I had all sorts of healthy snacks, like a ziploc bag of rotisserie chicken I had shredded, cheese sticks, almonds, etc.  I've never eaten so healthily on a trip!
Saturday we stayed closer to the hotel, and we visited the Minuteman National Historic Park, Concord, and Lexington.  MNHP has a really nice video presentation about the events leading up to "the shot heard 'round the world", and it even kept the attention of the younger kids!  Above you can see Anna on the Old North Bridge in Concord, with a beautiful field of wildflowers in the background.
Past the bridge, on the way to the visitors' center, there were some really great climbing trees that my friend Allison had alerted me to.  The kids could have stayed there all day--Bob too!
Sunday we headed downtown to the USS Constitution area.  Instead of actually touring the ship, however, we spontaneously decided to spring for a tour of the harbor on a duck boat.  The tickets also included 2 days on their hop on/hop off trolleys, and well as one other "free" excursion.  The kids really enjoyed the duck tour, even though Micah looks less than enthused in the picture.  There was a lot of rain that day, so it was nice to be doing something other than walking.  The trolley ride was really great, I thought.  Our driver was really funny, and we got to see all the sites in downtown Boston I had wanted to see, without Bob having to drive, and me having to navigate!  With all the little kids, it wasn't like we were going to be able to stop and tour every thing anyway (plus, it is almost impossible to find parking for the big van), so this was a really low-stress way to see the city.  Micah and Drew both fell asleep, so it was a win all around!
After our super-successful day on Sunday, we were all ready to actually tour the Constitution, as well as do a few other things.  We headed for a parking lot in the North End, by a trolley stop, that we had seen the day before--but they didn't want our van to park there.  After wandering around a bit, we headed back over to the USS Constitution area, where again we couldn't find a place to park for more than 2 hours.  Hmmm.  We parked there, and then we discovered that the Constitution is closed on Mondays.  Of course it is!  We just hadn't paid enough attention to the signs on Sunday, and our hotel didn't have free wifi, so I couldn't look it up the night before (grrrr--that was a huge source of frustration during the week).  We ate our lunch on the sidewalk by the van while we tried to figure out what to do.  We decided we would try to take a short cruise down the Charles River for our "free" excursion, but that meant navigating downtown and trying to find parking.  Amazingly, we found what must be the only parking garage in Boston with a 7'6" height (our van is 7'2"), so we parked there.  We walked through a mall to the back, where the tickets were sold, and we managed to get seats on the last cruise of the day, at 4:15. Of course, it was only 2:45, so we had to burn some time.  The younger kids went up and down the escalators a few times with Bob, and everyone who didn't have gestational diabetes ate dollar freezees from the Burger King in the food court.  Eventually we got on the boat, and that was a really nice time too!  Most of the time, Bob and the kids hung out at the front of the boat.  It was relaxing, and we again saw a lot of Boston.  I feel pretty familiar with the landmarks now!

We ate dinner at the mall, since we knew we would be stuck in traffic otherwise, and when we got back closer to our hotel, we had to make a grocery stop.  Since Bob would be working the next several days, the reservation for those days was at the government rate--which did not include breakfast.  (This hotel definitely was all about nickel-and-diming you!)  So we had to stock up on breakfast things like instant oatmeal that you could make using the coffee pot.  At least we had little fridges in the 2 rooms!
Tuesday morning, Bob got up to meet his new boss in the lobby and ride over to the meetings with him. On the way out the door, he realized that we had never actually parked our van the night before.  We had left it out front after dropping everyone and all our groceries off!  So he called me to come down and move it.  As soon as I got outside, I realized it was dead, since I knew we had left the hazard lights on, and they were no longer flashing.  Oh no!  Bob and the new boss were kind enough to turn around, the hotel had a jumper thing, and they were able to get it started.  Still--a very stressful start to the day!

We did not plan any sightseeing that day.  Instead, we arranged to meet Allison and her 4 boys at a playground on base.  It was another beautiful day, not too hot, and the kids had such a great time running around.  Then we went over to their house for lunch, and the kids really enjoyed having actual toys to play with again!  It was fun to catch up with her, and it was a really relaxing morning, which we all really needed.

As we were leaving, we were all feeling pretty good, so we decided we would again attempt to tour the USS Constitution (it's going into dry dock for repairs after the summer).  We couldn't find parking right by it, but we did find a space by the Bunker Hill Monument (which looks just like a smaller Washington Monument).  Even though Anna does not look happy in the picture above, it actually was interesting to tour the ship, and I was glad we made the effort.  Drew is also not happy in the picture, but he was just done with sightseeing all around, by that point, LOL.  
After we walked back over to Bunker Hill, Luke, Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna decided to climb all 294 steps to the top. While they were doing that, the rest of us went to the van and got some cookies so we could all have a snack when they were finished.  It didn't take them too long.  Luke took my phone so we could see the view with no effort, LOL.  Above is a view of the Naval Yard, with the Constitution there on the right.
Here are the intrepid stair-climbers!  Faith and Micah were very disappointed that I didn't let them go too, but . . .yeah.  They're not our stoic ones.  When Faith started complaining almost immediately after the others left about pushing the stroller up a small hill, I knew I had made the right decision!

One thing that was hard for me was realizing that we were making family memories--without Nathan.  And after this year, that will be the new normal!  It was sobering to think about.  I was again so glad we could take the space-a trip to Hawaii in February, where we could all be together for 2 weeks!  That was a really special time, and I'm really grateful for it.  Of course, even with just the 8 kids, we got plenty of long looks and whispers, especially from the foreign tourists!
Wednesday we met up with the McC's, who had just gotten in to town the day before.  They were visiting Christine's mom, who lives in a lovely old house south of town.  We met up there, then caravaned over to Plymouth.  There we went on a  walking tour guided by Leo from the Jenney Museum.  It was fantastic!  Leo was really informative and a wonderful story-teller.  Also, he really focuses on how the Pilgrims built their society on the structure of the family, and how the way they practiced their faith was the foundation for our government and our freedoms.  It was so interesting, especially from a Christian perspective, which I really wasn't expecting!  
After the tour we walked back down to the harbor so the kids could see the replica of the Mayflower.  It's so small!  Crossing the ocean in that thing would not be my choice.  I really admire the courage of those who did!
After wards, we drove down to White Horse beach. The water was cold, but that didn't stop anyone!  Everyone happily played for several hours, then we went back to Christine's mom's house to eat pizza before driving back to the hotel.  It was a long day, but really fun!
Our last day of sightseeing was Thursday, and we met the McC's in Quincy at the visitors center for the Adams National Historic Park.  There are 3 houses on the tour, and a trolley takes you around to them.  There is the one John Adams grew up in, the one right next door where he and Abigail lived (and John Quincy Adams was born in), both of which are fairly small, and then there is Peacefield, which is a large house, more along the lines of Mount Vernon or something, where John Adams and Abigail moved into after they came back from several years in England.  They had become accustomed to a higher standard of living and wanted to move up a notch back here in the States!  That was really a lovely house, and several more generations of Adams had lived in it, so it had electricity and even some plumbing.  The nicest thing about the house was the library, which was built as a separate room from the rest of the house, as you can see in the picture above.  Christine and I were both coveting such a nice building for our libraries/homeschooling!

Friday we left to drive back home.  It was another long day, although only 11 1/2 hours this time.  We went a different way, so we didn't really get stuck in any traffic, which was nice.  My poor hips and back will never be the same after all the driving in the big van though.  We had a lovely time, and all the older kids said they felt like we really "did" Boston, and they learned a lot, but it was so exhausting.  I don't think I could have done one more day, and I was so glad this trip for Bob wasn't scheduled one week later in my pregnancy, or I don't think I could have done it at all!  It about did me in!  Now we're trying to get ourselves unpacked and organized again, and the younger kids caught up on sleep.  They have been very, very crabby!  I think it will take me a good week to recover as well, LOL.  And I still have a ton of planning stuff to finish before Rivendell starts back up again, and I have this baby.  Just one step at a time . . .

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