Monday, June 28, 2010

Beauty and the Beach; Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Ok kids.  The gloves are off.  None of this early spring chilly beach stuff on Opening Day (why they even play proball in this weather is beyond me).  Forget windy Memorial Days down on the Cape where we are forced to wear T-shirts!  Get out the SPF 50, crank up the AC in the car 'cause it's 90 outside and head north young man.  When Boston swelters, the north shore saves.  A no water cools you quicker than Wingaersheek by the bay.

You can scroll through the Globe's beachfinder and find few other spots with such perfect waves (none for kiddos), rolling tides (maybe Eastham) or fun rocks to climb.  Sure we fought some barnacles.  Ok $20 seems steep, but Gloucester's schools are in trouble so think of it as an indirect contribution.  Sure, their shoulders came back a little red.  But who wouldn't tough it out in the name of pure summer fun?

Sydney is getting his swim on these days, and swim he did.  From one rock to the next, he looked like a seal.  Liji proudly perched on my shoulders, still to skinny to dive headfirst into northshore waters in the last days of June.  But you just wait.  They'll be doing flips off those rocks in a couple of years (as long as mommy is working and daddy is off like he was today).  So throw the "Perfect Storm" in the beach bag for a little light Gloucester lit and get out there, enjoy the sun and surf and let the games begin!  Happy summer 2010!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Momventure: Couch to Charles River 5K with a little help from dad; Cambridge, MA

And I raaaaan.  I ran so far away...  From age four on I was a runner.  Some people are poets, others are comedians.  Me, I've always just run.  My wife?  Not so much.  Professional dancer?  Sure.  Amazing teacher?  You betcha.  Dedicated mommy?  Check her out at The Fence.  But if there is one thing she does NOT enjoy, it is the grinding wear on the ole knees from a good run around the block.  That is why today was astonishing.  Today, my dear wife pushed past her Couch to 5K limit of 25 minutes of uninterrupted running (i.e. no stops for the weary) and ran a full on 5k way before the program had told her to.  AND FINISHED!  Part of being a good dadventurer is putting aside your crazy competitive spirit, redefining husband over athlete to stop being a runner and become a good jogging partner for the day.

I have run my fair share of 5k's.  I ran cross-country throughout my teen years for the Newton North Tigers and was dodging trees and roots in parks throughout Boston in under nineteen minutes.  So how did I do it?  How did I run alongside wifey in her quest to simply finish without stopping?  It was easy, it is all about learning to be a dad.  The same superpowers that allow many dads to avoid screaming "go get the damn ball" from the Y soccer sidelines came in handy this day.

Did we finish in the top 1000 entrants?  Nooooo.  (I followed my fair lady at 1004, ladies first ya know).  Did it hurt me a little not to blaze past the three hundred pound man in front of me who was almost walking just to keep my manly dignity?  Sure. Instead I made jokes, cheered her on, pushed her to keep going even when she swore like a sailor.  It was a little like birthing Liji.  I was seriously almost as proud a dad.  Next time, we bring the kids.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

America's Oldest Amusement; Mount Washington, Pinkham Notch, NH

I just hit the dadventure vortex today, on Father's Day of all days.  Today, my own memories of my first dadventures have begun to overlap with Sydney's.  When I was Sydney's age, my dad and I tackled the Whites.  Yeah, he took a five year old through three days of alpine cabins, ending with a night on Mount Washington at Lake of the Clouds.  The question is, do I enter the Matrix or do I begin to craft a map of dadventures of my own?

Like any good Choose Your Own Adventure book from the series (someone has got to bring back these rockin' texts) we did a little of both at every turn.  We stayed at the Joe Dodge Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) cabin in Pinkham Notch, just like I did back in '77.  We got in a short hike on the Old Jackson Road and then threw the orange shoebox into First gear up the Auto Road.   After throwing on our "This Car Climbed Mount Washington" sticker, we ran around in 40 degree weather with our winter coats as a break from the summer heat below.

Where our paths divided was my next choice.  I always got the impression that the hike up earned the cruise down as a kid.  We opted for the gondola up Wildcat ski mountain.  The views were spectacular, my kids were happy and my wife even smiled as we screamed up the slopes.  The panoramic views of Tuckerman's Ravine made me dream for another day.  But instead of feeling like a pansy for opting out with a two and four year old, I recommitted to tearing down that slope with them in another fifteen years on our teles.  An inspiring Father's Day indeed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rocker by Night, Duck Tours by Day; Duck Tours, Boston, MA

Tad McKitterick is my sons' very own, personal, super hero.  (Kami and I share in this adoration-society).  Like any good superhero Tad rocks two important careers.  By night he is the lead singer and keyboardist of one very fine Boston band: Sidewalk Driver.  Kami and I got crazy last weekend and saw them kick it at Rosebud in Davis Square  for their new album; "For All the Boys and Girls."  After a day of dadventures with the boys, I was ready to pass out at 11PM when we arrived.  They went on at midnight, sharp.  They were so good we rocked out in our sleep, joined by many of Kami's other New World School of the Arts alums from her and Tad's days together at this fine Miami performing arts high school.  When we were without kids, we rocked out with Sidewalk a lot in NYC when they opened for her brother Zach's band Disposable Thumbs.  Tad sports some pretty serious outfits and theatrical stage presence.  Sydney really wants to hit one of his shows.

But today was all about Tad's alter ego, Super Size the super hero.  For many pleasant weather months of the year he drives a WWII era amphibious vehicle for Duck Tours.  This wildly successful tourist extravaganza has spawned legions of copycats across the USA on one simple concept.  A tour bus that turns into a tour boat.  So we met Tad down at the Pru and hopped on board.  We first revisited a bit of the Walk for Hunger route (Sydney of course pointed this out.)  We passed the finery of the state house, draped in Celtic green for the Finals (Go C's).  We  took an odd turn past our fav haunt, the Museum of Science.  Then we did something really wierd, we drove into the Charles.  We were laughing so hard at Tad's jokes, we almost missed it.

A minute later we were cruising past the Museum toward the salt and pepper (Longfellow) bridge.  Needless to say, we were going so slow Tad was able to take his "union five" while the boat steered itself and he ripped off a few more funnies.  But the highlight was watching my visiting sister-in-law, her fiancee and then Sydney take the helm.  Now, I grew up in Boston and even taught US History, but today I learned quite a bit about our fair city from our man Tad.  The most interesting of which was the namesake of our duck boat, Molly Molasses.  The Boston Molasses Disaster killed 21 as a thirty foot tidal wave of molasses broke out of a nearby north end factory.  Who knew Tad?  And who knew super heroes really do exist. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sydney the Science Kid: The Science Discovery Museum, Acton MA

Growing up, everybody loved science.  Dad is a neuroscientist, mom a Children's Hospital administrator, even my step-mother had her PhD in biomed.  Both grandpas have a post-grad degrees in the sciences.  Dinner talk was of rat brains and fat cells.  Until sophomore year in college, I was sure that I would be joining them (until I discovered organic chem). But science is still in the blood, and it sure trickled down to our boys (despite the Lewis/Krieger family Law genes).  

We already loved the Discovery Children's Museum.  But my father can sniff out a science museum from a hundred miles, and realized last winter that there was one next store.  Today's trip featured Bessie the Dinosaur's birthday.  She didn't look a day over twenty eight, but she sure had left a lot of eggs to find between the steam machine and the polarizing lenses.    One of today's highlights though was the harmonographic table.  This was the coolest giant spirograph we had ever seen, and we have the drawings to prove it.

Like its next door neighbor, the Science museum is a great place for parties for kids of all ages.  They insist that this museum is geared toward the older set, but both Liji and his pal Noah who are two couldn't be pulled out of there.  Even in the pouring rain we had to try out the satellite dishes where we could whisper secrets to Sydney 100 feet across the entranceway.  So while Acton may not seem like the most convenient location, come for the day.  Throw a PBS Sid the Science Kid in the car DVD, hit the Children's then the Science, and you can't go wrong.