Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Ole Standby Dadventure: The Boston Children's Museum, Boston, MA

Sydney made a beeline for the "encapsulated stairs of death," (thanks New Balance), the minute we walked in the place. I might have preferred a free climb at
Otter Cliffs in Acadia, at least there he would only fall into a raging sea.

The Boston Children's Museum
308 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210

It's day seven of vacation, ice skating at Babson is a no-go and the Farnsworth Museum won't open 'till noon. What is it about the Boston Children's Museum that makes it the fallback every rainy/cold, weekend/vacation day? Is it the millions of exhibits for ages 1-15? Is it that Flour Bakery and Cafe is the last finishing touch on making Fort Point a hipster hangout after this museum suffered years as the only outpost in a desolate wasteland? Perhaps it is the temptation of the incredibly cool and everlasting icon of Boston, the Hood milk bottle.

Whatever the reason, we always run into everyone we know and a million other folks whether on a weekday or weekend. We noted that Peep's World was a nice new addition of splashing and shadows. The Science Playground is always a great introduction to everything from mechanical physics to the habitat of turtles. Of course we always make sure to hit the dance floor at Kid Power. But, a baby no more, Elijah is so over the toddler Play Space.

As you can see, he much preferred hitting the aerospace with Arthur and Friends. (We're still a little obsessed with Arthur's Tooth, by Marc Brown from this summer even though none of us should be losing them anytime soon). But, what I am waiting
for patiently on pins and needles is the day that they are ready to construct a giant cyborg out of the remnants of the local industrial shops in the area at the Recycle Shop. Maybe, just maybe it will be the next rainy/cold weekend/vacation day when we have nothing better to do than fallback on an old friend.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guest Blogger Kami Lewis Levin: It's Fun to Stay at the Y-M-C-A!: MetroWest YMCA, Framingham, MA

Sydney gets ready to slamma-jamma at the Y!

Guest Blogger: Kami Lewis Levin,
Working mom blogger at
The Fence

The Metrowest YMCA in Framingham
280 Old Connecticut Path
Framingham, MA 01701

Almost as soon as we moved to Natick, we joined the Longfellow Sports Club to get our gym on where all the "cool" kids go. After about a year, we gave them a big "Peace out, yo!" and took up membership at the newly renovated
Metrowest Y. Mostly because the Dadventurer lurves the Village People. But a little because it's way awesome. We signed right up for kids swim classes and sports classes. And because Sydney is such a natural athlete (see us brushing our shoulders off?) his coach took it upon herself (thanks, Coach Kisha!) to push him up into the next level. A sans parents class. It's a whole new world.

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, the Y offer's Open Play (Gym/Sports/Dance) back to back for the pre-school set. I, personally, like to work my guys into a sweat before lunch. I mean, naps. They also have free drop in daycare so us grown ups can work out while watching the tube in the cardio room. Alone. The best part is: You don't even have to be a member to take advantage of most of this stuff! (Though family memberships are a great value.) And, if your kid happens to pee all over the floor of the handicapped stall in the women's restroom, they are REALLY nice about it. (You can read more about that little experience over at my blog by clicking here.)

Where the Fun Never Stops: Playtown Express, Hopkinton, MA

There's a little something for everyone at Playtown. Note here that Sydney lured Liji both onto the slide and into the moon bounce.

Playtown Express
25 South Street
Hopkinton, MA

Ok, so I admit that I am that dad. The one that wants to jump in the pool with the kids the minute the swim suits are on. So, it was with buddha-like patience that I had to stand and watch Sydney fly down the awesome, inflated slide (see above). Given the lines, Sydney had to have a little patience of his own. At least I could use Liji's age as a reason to sit in the bounce house with him, but hands-off, I most certainly am not.

This place is so popular, we couldn't even get Sydney a birthday party reservation two months in advance!, (I mean besides Super Bowl Sunday, but come on dads!) Where we all needed a little more patience in this pleasure dome was for the other tots. I had hoped they too would have read How do Dinosaurs Play with Thier Friends by Jane Yolen. The two staff on hand looked like they were playing D on a fast break of Jordan and Magic. So come prepared with your game face on for fun, just make sure you take a few mother's little helpers ahead of time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Modern Art with Kids? Why not: The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Sydney and "Pingu" are buffedled, but amused by this crazy instillation of "broken chairs." He is even fascinated enough to talk to his kid bro about it, creating another artist in the making.

The Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA

Mom and I have a history of hitting the MFA for her birthdays, so when I proposed bringing the boys, like many folks she questioned, "art with the kids?" Which is exactly what was asked by my father about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC last weekend. They had a blast. My advice to you weekend warrior dads is, "just do it!"

We warmed up their inner-artist with a reading of When Pigasso Met Mootise. Then, we had to promise them mummies, which under the new construction we never really found. But, man, were they impressed with the recent instillation in which 20-odd tv screens are singing heads of Madonna favorites. Sydney has now been to at least five of the major art museums in the states and he always finds something to rave about. So, when it hits ten degrees next weekend and you just can't stand in line at the Children's museum one more time this winter, take a gamble and head over to the MFA.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hands-on Jersey!: The Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ

Hands-on Jersey!: The Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Boulevard
Jersey City, New Jersey

reasons to venture:

  • Make your own volcanoes? Add sulpher and gas to watch your explosion on tv.
  • As hard as it may be to believe that anything lives in that river, Our Hudson Home has some really cool fish tanks.
  • Great views of Manhattan and how often do you get the Jersey tri-fecta? Jersey City Blvd in Jersey City, Jersey...
Your reasons to cross the Hudson?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Check out the Tech: The Sony Wonder Technology Lab, NY, NY

Check out the Tech: The Sony Wonder Technology Lab
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue
New York, NY

reasons to venture:

  • That jumbo-tron tv image is the one my kid created of himself, for all the world to see over four floors high.
  • Drive dancing robots, let your kids report live and check out the latest in PS madness (my kids don't even play video games and they were drooling).
  • You've blown a million bucks at the Lego store and FAO Schwarz (home of the dance-on keyboard from the movie "Big"), now head to Sony for free and just deal with the shameless promos for their products.
How does your kid get their trekkie techie on?

Mummies and Medieval Armor at the Met: Upper East Side, NYC

Mummies and Medieval Armor at the Met: Upper East Side, NYC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue at 82nd Street

reasons to venture:

  • Two boys, five mounted knights in full armor. No seriously, we hate violence but it doesn't get cooler than this.
  • Dadbreak central at the Temple of Dendur. Let the kids run and just enjoy... the... silence...
  • Work up an appetite looking at all that ahhhtt. Pastrami Queen on Lex and 78th makes a mean potato latke, a decent matzo ball and of course their namesake.
What's your kids' favorite art spot?

Enter the Dragon: Chinatown, NYC

Enter the Dragon: Chinatown, NYC
Lower East Side of Manhattan

Reasons to venture:

  • Golden Unicorn serves the best dim sum this side of Beijing if you ask me, the roast pork buns are child-size pearls of joy.
  • Only in New York could you find more buddhist temples and old Jewish synagogues side-by-side than anywhere else in the world.
  • They have remodeled the Museum of the Chinese in the Americas, just in time to get ready for the dragons on parade at Chinese New Year.
Where do you go to get your dimsum on?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World": Minuteman National Park, Concord, MA

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World": Minute Man National Park
174 Liberty Street
Concord, MA

Alright, so we were both social studies teachers. I know, you're picturing tweed coats and padded elbows, not Indiana Jones (although he did wear them when he was teaching Anthropology). Yes, we met in graduate school learning to become high school history teachers, and while I had not taken more than a single course in college on US History, I fell in love once I began to teach it. With every passing lesson on colonial history I thought back to what it meant to grow up in New England. My wife on the other hand, hand no interest in the foundation of our democracy. I blame my passion on the reenactment of The Boston Massacre trial, held at the West Newton court house in 1985. I was the dredded Captain Thomas Preston.

While the historical importance of "the British are Coming!" to Lexington and Concord may be tough to explain to a three year old, I used this as an opportunity to school my Floridian-wife on the significance of the birthplace of the Revolution. Did Sydney enjoy skating on the ice as we approached that fated bridge? Sure he did. Could he remember "one if by land, two if by sea" on a pop-quiz?" Ummmmm...

If the Revolution isn't heady enough for your friends from afar, try out Transcedentalists like Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond just a hop, skip and a jump away. You may be more likely to skate on the pond, or ice fish this time of year. I've enjoyed a good skiaround the edges while meditating on the outdoors. There's even a "Thoreau for Kids" day at the visitors center.

But the money shot to guaranteeing your kids become life-long New Englanders is a pass by the Concord church steeples in a blanket of snow. It just doesn't get more mom and apple pie than this. After a quick tour you'll gunning the engine for the Norman Rockwell Museum, a great homage to Americana in Stockbridge, just a couple short hours down the Pike.

Performing Live!: The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN), Natick, MA

Performing Live!: The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN)
Guest Blogger: Kami Lewis Levin
14 Summer Street
Natick, MA

Reasons to venture:

Where do you take your kids for an afternoon out on the town?

Chickens, Chickens, Everywhere: Farm Class at the Natick Organic Community Farm, Natick, MA

Chickens, Chickens, Everywhere: Farm Class @
The Natick Organic Community Farm
117 Elliot Street
Natick, MA

Reasons to venture:

  • What chores could possibly be more fun than feeding chickens and "borrowing" their eggs?
  • The produce is great, and your kids can help learn to grow it.
  • Pretend you live in rural Vermont, tap your own syrup and eat it up with pancakes at the Maple Magic Days in March.
Does your MetroWest suburb have a working organic farm?