Family Adventures in Boston (Part 3)

Day 4: Natick and Framingham

After several days of travel in the car, we planned one day where we wouldn’t have to sit in gridlocked traffic entering the city. Since our hotel was in a suburb of Boston we set out to explore the surrounding area. Our discoveries led us to a very nice mall in Natick where we visited the American Girl shop and several other upscale retailers. For lunch, we ate at California Pizza Kitchen in the mall. Afterwards, we ventured to nearby Framingham for putt-putt. Our daughter has never played before so it was fun teaching her how to hold a putter. Also, the game was fun because I was the family winner! Day 4 came to a close at Ben and Jerry’s where we all tried new ice cream flavors. The pace was slower, but it was still a really fun day.

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Day 5: Boston

The only rainy day of the trip was reserved for an indoor visit to the Boston Museum of Science. We sipped our coffee and ate our doughnuts as we waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic into the city. Peak travel times are very difficult to navigate by vehicle in Boston. If you are able, I would suggest using public transit and staying in the city. However, we knew ahead of time that patience would be required commuting from our suburban hotel so we made the most of it. I kept a bag in the car of activities for our daughter and I think my husband and I learned the lyrics to every iHeart radio top 40 song over the course of our stay in Boston. (I’m even working toward knowing the Spanish lyrics to Despacito) We made waiting in traffic a fun time!

As for the museum, it was wonderful. Three floors of interactive science lessons and activities filled our entire day. Arianna is in a stage where she is really interested in how things work so it was fantastic to use this visit as a learning tool. We’ve visited our local science museum (COSI), but she’s always been too young to take much learning away from those trips. It was fun to watch her learn about gravity, the human body, dinosaurs. space, and the life cycle of animals.

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The drive back to our hotel for the night was even worse than the drive into the city. We ended up using Siri who took us on an impromptu driving tour of Harvard University in Cambridge. It was a lovely campus nestled on the water. I wanted to take photographs, but alas, Siri’s directions were more important at the time.

Day 6: Boston

The final day of our family adventures began by packing and checking out of the hotel. One thing we liked about Extended Stay America was that we were able to do all of our laundry on-site. Boston was only the beginning of a much longer trip as we were scheduled to fly to London from Logan Airport, so it was nice to wash all of our clothes and not arrive to England with suitcases full of dirty laundry.

After our check-out we still had five hours before we needed to arrive at the airport. We decided to look at a local bookstore in Westborough called Tatnuck. This hometown bookstore was one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. The front of the building was made up of aisles and aisles of gifts, jewelry, and clothes. We spent a long time just going through this section. Then, there was a coffee shop. And in the back and center of the store stood hundreds of shelves of books. If we hadn’t been nervous about travel time to the city we would have stayed for hours.

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We still made it into Boston with hours to spare so we parked at Copley Square (For a ridiculous price) and walked around the shops, toured Old South church, and saw the location of the Boston Marathon Finish Line. We finished our visit with a nice lunch and then made our way to the airport where we returned our rental car and checked-in for our evening flight.

Overall, I loved Boston and I can’t wait to go back someday. We spent a lot of time in the car and if that’s something that bothers you I would first recommend flying to Boston instead of driving and then also I would recommend staying in the city as well and using public transit.

If we end up back in Boston one day some other things I’d like to do include: Duck Tours, seafood on the piers, visit Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard, historic museums and boating. It’s hard to fit everything in to such a short visit while also accommodating a four year old. We are lucky she’s such a great traveler, but there is still so much to do an see in Boston.

Thanks for following our adventures–now off to England for more memory making!!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

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Family Adventures in Boston (Part 2)

Day 3: Boston

On the east coast, you can’t drive five miles without running into a Dunkin’ Doughnuts. So after our first night in Boston we loaded up our rental car and made a pit stop at Dunkin’ Doughnuts before heading into the city. The night before, we purchased ferry tickets to Spectacle Island from the Boston Harbor Cruise Company. We parked at Long Wharf again and walked around a bit before our scheduled departure.

Once on the island, we felt like we had our own private piece of the world. Only fifteen other people were there and during our stay we ran into no one. When we swam in the sea off the coast of the island we did so alone. When we hiked the nearly three mile perimeter trail we didn’t cross paths with a single soul. It was such a great experience.

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The final ferry left the island at 4:00pm which still left us many hours in the day. We decided to walk part of the Freedom Trail upon our arrival back in Boston. We walked from Faneuil Hall to the Boston Commons and back. During the walk we stopped at a local pub for dinner and then let Arianna splash around in the fountains in the Boston Commons.

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This day happened to be my favorite from the whole trip. I highly recommend a ferry trip to one of the harbor’s islands if you ever find yourself in Boston. Although it wasn’t quite the sandy beach that many people frequent in the summer it was still a beautiful place to swim and explore.

*Check back over the next few days for the remaining chronicles from our family adventures in Boston.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family Adventures in Boston (Part 1)

Before embarking on our annual trip to England visiting with my husband’s family we decided to drive to Boston, Massachusetts for a family vacation. We spent five days in this coastal metropolis and made so many family memories that I couldn’t pack it all into one post. Over the next several days, I will provide a chronicle of some of the things we did while in Boston.

So why Boston?

I have been fascinated lately over the New England coastline. Maybe it’s from books I’ve read set in Cape Cod or pictures from other bloggers. Maybe it’s the rich history and importance. Either way something about the place has been drawing me for a year. So when my husband was shopping for our flights to England he called me at work and asked how I felt about a quick stay in Boston before the flight. We hired a rental car for the two day journey and then flew out on Sunday from the Logan Airport in East Boston.

Here’s my bullet journal overview of the trip I will be describing over the next couple of posts:

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Day 1: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We spent nine hours of the day in the car as we drove through the turnpikes of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Our hotel was just east of the city in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Since we had a late arrival we started the visit off with a trip to Geno’s Steaks where we sat and watched some pickup games of basketball and ate our Philly cheesesteaks and fries.

As the sun set we decided to stroll through historic Philadelphia. The museums were all closed for the night, but it was the only time during our travels that we would be able to check out the sites. It was a beautiful night. Temperatures were warm, but the breeze felt good. Independence Hall lit by the setting sun was absolutely gorgeous. We took a walk around the historic center of Philadelphia and appreciated all the rich history made within those few city blocks.

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Day 2: Boston, Massachusetts 

We were on the road again by 9:00am the next morning to finish the journey to Boston. We drove through scenic parts of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts before arriving at our hotel just outside of Boston in Westborough. That first night we had dinner and then drove to Long Wharf on the Boston Harbor. We walked along the seaside and shared an ice cream in the Quincy Market, an historic marketplace on the Boston Harbor. Being on the sea was picturesque and everything I had hoped it would be.

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**Check back soon for the second leg of our family adventures in Boston

The Ameri Brit Mom

Indianapolis Review

My gift to my husband this Christmas was a trip to Indianapolis to watch the Indiana Pacers take on the Chicago Bulls. We only spent about 24 hours in the city, but we packed those hours with so many memories.

Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

Over the summer we went to Chicago and drove through Indianapolis. I remembered from that drive that my husband mentioned the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, but we didn’t have time to make that stop then.

On our way to Indianapolis this weekend around we made sure to leave with plenty of time for that trip. We got off the highway about thirty minutes before hitting Indianapolis and spent an hour at the Hall of Fame. It was neat to see the history behind basketball in the Hoosier state. There was a video about high school basketball in Indiana, rooms of memorabilia, and a Hall of Fame for some of the most talented basketball players of all time.

Our Hotel

Indianapolis was absolutely beautiful. The city was clean and not so big that travel was a hassle. Actually, our travel once checked into our hotel (Hyatt Regency Indianapolis) was minimal. It was very cold and windy, but we didn’t have to spend much time outside. Our hotel was connected by a covered walkway to the Circle Center Mall. The Circle Center Mall led out to the entrance of Bankers Life Field House, where the Pacers games are held.

Parking at the hotel was a little expensive ($35 a day), but it was worth it because we didn’t have to attempt to drive in pre and post game traffic.

Our hotel was extremely nice and accommodating. Ari’s favorite part of the hotel was the swimming pool, of course.

 

Pacers vs. Bulls

The purpose behind our little getaway was so that my husband could watch a live NBA game. As much as he loves basketball he hasn’t been to many NBA games. His favorite team is Cleveland, but I wanted to give him a chance to visit another town. Chicago is his second favorite team and since they were playing in Indianapolis over Christmas break I thought it would be a perfect present. Little did I know that before the game Chicago and Indianapolis would be tied in the league rankings. It was a huge game. Fans turned out to cheer on both teams. Although the Pacers ended up winning my husband still enjoyed himself and the experience to be in the gym where some of basketball’s finest were playing.

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Indianapolis Children’s Museum

On every trip that we take we look for fun things for Ari to do. It gives her incentive to behave herself throughout the travel, and also gives her a chance to blow off some steam and have fun.

Leading up to the trip I did my research and found that the #1 place in Indianapolis for families was the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Once I saw that they had a Doc McStuffins exhibit I committed the extra trip to our itinerary. Also, we decided to visit on New Years Eve. There was a party in the lobby with live music and a countdown to noon. Every child received a party hat and we spent most of the day walking through the exhibits and having fun as a whole family.

We’ve been to Children’s Museums in Columbus, Chicago, New York, and England, and while we’ve never been disappointed this was the best one we have visited.

The exhibits that we enjoyed were Doc McStuffins, Indy500, Welcome to China, and Christmas Land. Additionally, there was an exhibit for older children that we walked through about Ruby Bridges and Anne Frank and the difference that children have made on our world. It was phenomenal.

 

Hoosiers Gym

After a long day at the museum we packed up our car and headed home. We made one pit stop in Knightstown, Indiana, at the Hoosiers Gym. This particular gym is based off of the one from the famous basketball movie. Ari was asleep and I didn’t want to wake her so my husband popped in quick enough to get some pictures of himself doing tricks on the court and then we headed home.

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This trip was a great time to recharge as a family. I recommend giving gifts like this. Getting a chance to make memories and celebrate life as a family is well worth the monetary costs involved.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Road trip to Chicago

Last week our family loaded up our luggage into a compact rental car and drove six hours west to the beautiful city of Chicago. Even though we only spent two and a half days in the city we were able to visit so many sites. We chose to travel to Chicago for a couple of reasons. First of all, we were in need of a direct flight to London for our annual trip to stay with my in-laws. Secondly, when looking at the list of direct flights we chose Chicago because it is the location where the novel I’m working on takes place. During our stay we ventured to many places mentioned and important to my book. I’m really excited about being able to weave authentic, intricate observations and research into my writing.

I’ve been to New York City a couple of times, but I must say that Chicago was by far a cleaner and more beautiful city in my opinion. I’ve been to Chicago a few times in the past, but it’s probably been fifteen years since I last visited. It was fantastic for my book to look at the city through a more fresh lens.

Here is a look at some highlights to our trip:

Lincoln Park Zoo And Nature Boardwalk

It was so cool to visit another zoo besides the Columbus Zoo. A major difference between the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Columbus Zoo (besides the fact that it is free) was that the animals were in smaller, more open habitats. Although, it may not suit the animal rights activists it was great as a spectator to be so close to the tiger and hear him roar as he dropped his bowling ball off a cliff. We really enjoyed this zoo. Arianna was taken aback by the slimy Hippopotamus.

We wrapped up our rainy trip to the zoo with a walk along the nature boardwalk. This was a scenic route around an pond in the center of the park. The walk culminated with a photo session from a pivotal location for my book. I may have gotten my cover shot here! (Obviously it will need a bit of doctoring)

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Chicago Children’s Museum (at Navy Pier)

The first day we explored the city it was cold and by mid day we experienced a downpour. Looking for indoor activities we made our way toward the famous Navy Pier and spent the afternoon at the Children’s Museum. It was made up of three floors of rooms aimed at providing educational opportunities. We all had a blast!

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Michigan Avenue Shopping (The Magnificient Mile)

The following morning we woke up early and explored the shops on Michigan Avenue. Apart from the $39.00 parking we had a great day. Unbeknownst to us at 10am every morning when the Disney store opens they select a child (or two) to turn on the lights with a little chant and role play. We happened to be walking by just as this was happening and Arianna was chosen to open the store along with a little boy. They waved their hands and chanted famous Disney spells like, “Abracadabra” and “Bippity Boppity Boo.” And when they called, “Let the magic begin” the lights and music came on in the store. Before we went into the shop Arianna was given a medal to commemorate the event and the workers called her Princess Arianna until we left. It was a completely unplanned part of our trip, but it was one of Arianna’s favorite memories.

Unlike the day before, it was ninety-five degrees in the Windy City that day. So as we walked along the Magnificent Mile the biggest challenge was keeping ourselves hydrated.

 

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Lunch at the American Girl Cafe

A few weeks ago we made a reservation at the American Girl Cafe in Chicago. Although it was a bit steep in price ($22 per person) it was a great time. The food was fantastic and Arianna truly was treated like a princess by the staff during our meal. Her smile really shows how much she enjoyed the experience of dining with her dolly.

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The United Center

This pit stop was a pick of my husband’s. We drove a little west of the city to The United Center where Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls. Check out his basketball trick video in front of the Jordan statue basketball trick video in front of the Jordan statue. In case you didn’t know my husband is a professional free-style basketball trickster and travels around doing shows and provides clinics and private training as well. He grew up idolizing Michael Jordan so this was a monumental moment for him.

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Overall it was a great trip.

We were able to accomplish so much in a short amount of time. Now life is slowing down and we are staying the rest of the month with my in laws in England. I’m looking forward to sharing memories from this trip with you as well.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Want

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Want. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Today is our final day in Chicago before our flight to England for the remainder of the month. For today’s Five Minute Friday post I decided to recount my memories and thoughts from my morning walk along Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile.

Wanting in the City

by Lauren Sisley

 

The cityscape surrounds me.

Tall, ivory concrete blocks my view on all sides.

The wind and sun crisp my skin.

My elbows graze the shopper beside me

As I travel down Michigan Avenue:

The Magnificent Mile.

 

The sound of bags bouncing on arms fill the air.

I breathe in fried food and cigarette smoke with each slow inhale.

People speak loudly–in different languages– into headsets,

But never to each other.

 

How funny it is that one can be so lonely in a city so big.

It’s fun to visit,

But I could never stay.

As people rush about seeking out things that they want,

I realize that I have all I could ever want.

And it didn’t cost a dollar.

Some go broke in pursuit of goods.

While those who lack have plenty.

What I own is little.

What I want is free.

 

 

 

 

Update On My Summer Bucket List

As today is my first day of the school year I decided to take a look at my summer bucket list and see how well I accomplished the goals I had set back in June for my summer. Although I am sad about the end of sleeping in and a schedule that I filled based on what I wanted to do, I am still a little antsy and ready to get back to my normal routine. As I sit here with first day jitters I decided to take the last few moments of summer vacation to reflect on the wonderful summer. My original summer bucket list was posted at the end of last school year here.

This is my evaluation of the bucket list for summer 2015:

  1. Visit the Columbus Zoo– I was able to visit the Columbus Zoo on my 25th birthday this year. It was a great time as a family. Next summer I’d love to purchase a zoo membership so that we could visit more often. It truly is the best zoo in America.IMG_0918
  2. Eat  at the Food Trucks in the Columbus Commons- Although I never actually went to the Columbus Commons I did have the opportunity to indulge in some of the finest of food truck delicacies in Columbus. Last week, my school hosted a professional development academy which was catered each day by a different food truck from the Columbus area. I really enjoyed getting to try Mojo Tago, Pitabilities, and Phillybusters.
  3. Read one book a week-ACCOMPLISHED! Below is a picture of most of the books I read this summer. For my review of any of the books I read this summer please use this link: Books.

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4. Discover parks I’ve never visited- We visited Fryer Park in Lancaster and briefly saw the Scioto Mile. This summer was pretty rainy so we didn’t get to enjoy as much of the outdoors as we would like. We did, however, visit several new parks in England during our trip there.

5. Five miles of activity per day- On average this occurred 5 out of 7 days a week. The weather definitely impacted this goal as well. Not to mention I made a lot of progress on writing projects which forced me to be a little more sedentary than I had hoped. But still, 5 out of 7 days is pretty decent.

Even though I didn’t hit every single goal I aimed for this summer I would still call this summer a success. I took some time to really focus on my writing and learned how to carve out time for the things that matter most to me in life: family, friends, and personal goals. I feel good about where I am and wish only to improve upon my personal fitness. We were able to really enjoy the summer as a family. During this time my husband secured a job in the same school district where I work and where our daughter will attend in a few short years. Also during this time we went on a nearly three week vacation to England. Arianna was involved in dance class. And my husband joined a summer basketball league in Columbus.

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So as I begin to teach for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year I have nothing but positive things to say about summer 2015. I am proud of all we accomplished as a family.

Here’s to a positive start to the new school year. This will be my fifth year teaching at Teays Valley High School. This year my courses are English 9 and Honors World History. The room is arranged and ready for my freshman to enter high school for the very first time. Think of me today as I lay the foundation for hopefully another successful year here at TVHS. Go VIKINGS!

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