Monday, February 28, 2011

Grandmas Visit The Cradle Of Liberty: Snow Day & Goodbyes

Monday morning we awoke to a city blanketed in snow! Yes, it was bitter cold...and it was tough to dress in such a manner as to still be comfortable twelve hours later when we landed in Houston. But SNOW! We only got a sprinkling at our house this past winter, so I was all smiles!

And very thankful for that down filled, half priced Anne Taylor coat!

See the pretty white snow that covered the old gray stuff? And did you notice how much it had melted on those two warm days after we arrived? Remember, it was up past the bottom of those windows when we arrived on Thursday.

We walked through the park to take a few snow day pictures.

Then we headed up to the Prudential Skywalk Observatory for a bird's eye view of Boston.

You can tell from the picture that the snow was still falling pretty heavy while we were up there.

That's our hotel...I told you the coat was found three doors down! I wasn't kidding!

After seeing the city from above, we headed to the Library to visit John Adams presidential library. Only, it was President's Day...which meant the library was closed.

So we headed to Stephanie's on Newbury for brunch.

We had heard good things about this place and it did not disappoint. They even brought me PLENTY of creamer for my coffee...and I take a lot of cream in my coffee!!

After brunch, we stopped by the Lindt chocolate store for some spring truffles and then back to the hotel where we passed some time in the business center before it was time to head to the airport.

We had a great time in Boston and were sad to see it come to an end...but there is always next year!

I wonder where 2012 will find us?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grandmas Visit The Cradle Of Liberty: Sightseeing and Souveniers

Sunday morning, Robin and I had planned to attend services at Trinity Church. However, due to some very annoying and LOUD hotel patrons who were partying next door...we didn't make it up in time.

We caught the Trolley and headed out to Cambridge to see MIT and Harvard.

The tour took so much longer than we had expected! Two hours later and we still weren't back where we had started. When we made it back to our stop, we caught a taxi back to Trinity Church so that we could take a self-guided tour. We had missed the last guided tour!

Trinity was built in 1876! And it is beautiful! Outside...

...and inside. These stained glass windows depicting milestones in the life of Christ are gorgeous.

The suspended cross nearly gets lost in the other detail. But once you spot it, you can't keep yours eyes from it.

These windows are on the sides of the sanctuary. There are murals everywhere and every place you look has some sort of architectural detail that is amazing. Over and over I saw the word "eucharist"...thanksgiving...and man, was that ever appropriate. This whole building was a testimony to people who give thanks in worship.

When we finished touring the Trinity Church, we walked across the street to tour The Old South Church.
This church was built in 1850, but the congregation has been meeting since 1670! Benjamin Franklin was baptized as an infant in 1706 in their previous meeting hall.

Again, the architectural details were awe-inspiring.

After touring both churches, we took a taxi to Faneuil Hall Marketplace for some souvenir shopping.

Evidently, we were not the only ones with that idea!

Once the t-shirts, coffee cups, ornaments and other miscellaneous keepsakes were procured, we headed back to the hotel to drop everything off and then out to dinner. We ate a Legal Seafood which was in the Prudential Center next door to the hotel.

Only one more day left for Grandmas Trip 2011...but we were up to the challenge!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Grandmas Visit The Cradle Of Liberty: The Very Blustery Day

Saturday morning found us waking up to a drastic change in the weather. It didn't look very different from our hotel window...the sun was still shining bright. But once you walked out the door, you knew the tides had turned.

I was very grateful that we had spent the time looking for a winter coat on Thursday. My light sweaters were not going to cut it now. It wasn't bitterly cold (yet!) but it was windy. Robin and I took off walking toward the north end of Boston. There were a few gusts where I found myself leaning backwards to keep from falling forward. All I could think was that if the gust of wind suddenly stopped I would fall flat of my back. They say there were recorded gusts of 49 miles an hour in Boston on Saturday. I believe it. I think it hit as we were walking down a hill into Chinatown!

Boston's Chinatown was nothing like New York's or San Francisco's. The entrance is lovely. But once inside there are only a few little souvenir is mostly made up of restaurants. We tried the Gourmet Dumpling House (one of Jeff's suggestions from Thursday night).

It was my first encounter with a Chinese Easter Bunny!

We ordered the pork and crab dumplings as recommended. (I liked them, but Robin didn't care for them.) Robin had the Chicken Szechuan and I had the Asparagus Chicken. It was the BEST and FRESHEST Chinese food I have ever enjoyed. The asparagus was tender and there was LOTS of it! Yumm!

It was an easily overlooked 'hole in the wall' type of place But I guess the place is pretty good since there were multiple pictures of Micheal Douglas on the walls.

After lunch, we hurried over to buy tickets for the Trolley Tours. The temperatures were dropping quickly and the winds were not letting up at all!

We saw a lot of the places that we had toured on Friday, but from a different perspective at times.

One of the new places we saw was 122 Bowdoin Street. This was John F. Kennedy's voting address in 1960 when he was elected the 35th President of the United States of America. We were told that his brother, Ted, kept an office here until just a few years before his death.
One of the sights that took Robin and I both by surprise was this view of the Charles River...still covered in ice!

For the sports lovers out there, we drove past Fenway Park...

...we also saw the new Boston Gardens a little later in the tour. And the parking lot where the Old Gardens once stood and where Larry Bird led the Celtics to their Championships in 1981, 1984 & 1986.

We hopped off of the Trolley at the USS Constitution and took it's free tour. It is the oldest commissioned warship afloat today and the tours are led by active United States Sailors.

"Old Ironsides" as she is called, is still a beautiful ship. But, I am so glad I don't have to reside there.

I mean, how would you like to sleep like this?

The young woman who led our tour explained to us that the distance between yourself and your bunk mate was directly related to your rank. So, that distance could be 2" or 6"...neither of which seems like enough to me!

We finished the rest of the 'regular' Trolley Tour and ended up back at our hotel. After quickly freshening up for the evening, we headed out for dinner.

NOTE: Picture was from our tour of the area on Friday...before it turned so cold!
We decided to try out Ye Old Union Oyster House. It is America's Oldest Restaurant and the site of the best fresh oysters I have ever eaten. I know you have heard that saying from me a few times in the past few days...but honestly, these things were delicious! I even ate them without crackers...just straight from the shell!

And in case you want some history of the place...the building has been around for over 250 years and has been a restaurant since 1826.

It was also a favorite of John F. Kennedy himself. There is a marker at his favorite booth which just so happened to be catty-corner from where Robin and I sat.
Doesn't this look good?
It was!!!

After dinner, we took a taxi back to the hotel and did the unthinkable. We changed into our pajamas, ordered a pay per view movie and jumped in bed for a quiet night in!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grandmas Visit The Cradle Of Liberty: Walking Along Freedom's Trail

Friday morning brought all of Boston out to enjoy the warm temperatures and sunshine. Robin and I were no exception. We decided that since this was to be the best weather of our visit, we would spend the day walking the Freedom Trail.

Our tour guide for the day was Nathaniel Balch, Boston's hatter and friend to John Hancock.

Well, he wasn't really Nathaniel Balch...but for today he would retell American history through the eyes of Balch.

We met up with Mr. Balch in Boston Common. A beautiful park that was set aside from the earliest days of Boston for the grazing of the cattle.

In the Boston Common there is a cemetery where most of the headstones are blank. We would later learn that this is the final resting place of the British soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Next, we walked through Boston Common to the State House. Built in 1798, the dome of the State House was originally covered in copper...but it leaked. So someone came up with the idea of covering it in 23 karat gold instead. It no longer leaks...but, boy, did it cost a lot of money to fix that leak!

Next we walked past the Granary Burial Grounds. A cemetery dating back to 1660, it includes the final resting place of three signers of the Declaration of Independence, the victims of the Boston Massacre, as well as Paul Revere and the parents of Benjamin Franklin.

This marker is for Samuel Adams.

After leaving the Granary, we walked past King's Chapel, the Old South Meeting Hall (where the secret signal was given that set off the actions we now call the Boston Tea Party), the Old Corner Bookstore, and finally, the Old State House.

It blows my mind to think that this building was standing before we were even a country. This was the seat of British rule in the Americas. That balcony on the third floor is where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston in 1776. Wow!!!

Just in front of this building is the sight of the Boston Massacre in 1770...the incident that helped spark the rebellion.

We walked on down to Faneuil Hall...a building which looks like it could have been built thirty years ago...but was actually the meeting hall where our founding fathers met to discuss the Declaration of Independence.

Faneuil Hall was our last stop on the Freedom Trail tour with Mr. Balch, but Robin and I continued to follow the trail on our own.

The Green Dragon Tavern...a favorite hangout of our founding fathers.
See that redcoat at the door? I wonder if he is a spy gathering intelligence?

Nah! Upon closer inspection, he seemed to be a pretty nice guy!

A little further down the road we found Paul Revere's house and took the tour.

Did you know Paul had 11 children who survived infancy? We were told that he outlived most of them and at the time of his death he had 50+ grandchildren! He was a silversmith...and he cast bells...and he was a dentist...and he was a shopkeeper. Revere was defiantly more than a horseback messenger!

Just around the corner from Revere's house was one of the restaurants that Jeff had recommended: G'vanni's Ristorante. I had the Shrimp Giuseppe. It was the best pasta I ever put in my mouth! There was a dish on the menu that I just couldn't get into: Pumpkin Ravioli. But Robin decided to be adventurous and order it. She gave me a bite and it was DELICIOUS!

After lunch, we continued our walk down the Freedom Trail to the Old North Church. Remember the Old North Church...location of "one if by land and two if by sea"? Built in 1723, it is still a beauty.

Here is picture from inside the church:
The Old North Church was the King's church and most of it's congregation were loyal to the King of England. They were the wealthy of pre-revolutionary Boston and their status in society is reflected in where their family pew box was located.

The balconies were for the children and slaves of the pew box holders.
I have never seen a pew box before our tour of Old North Church. It seems that in order to sit in a pew you had to purchase your space and pay rent to keep it.
My question, since this was the King's church, is how in the world did they talk someone into betraying the King and sending out that signal on the fateful night of April 18, 1775?

After spending a little time in their gift shop, we began our walk back to our hotel. On the way we passed Saint Stephens Catholic Church where Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was baptized and where they held her funeral. (She lived to be 104!)

As we were walking through the north end, we kept seeing all these blue and white boxes tied with string.

We decided that we must try them out. We picked up a couple of Yellow Italian Creme Cannolis and a few Boston Creme Boconnottos (Cream Puffs).

We carried them back to the hotel and decided that this would be our dinner for the night. We made it an early night because there was still much to see and to do in Boston.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grandmas Visit The Cradle Of Liberty: A Tale Of Coats, Comedy and Cheers!

Last Thursday, Robin and I left the heat and humidity of Houston to fly off on our 2011 Grandmas Gone Wild weekend in Boston.

When we originally made our plans for Grandmas Trip 2011, we decided on Boston so that we could enjoy a little bit of winter. The Good Lord has such a sense of humor! He sent winter to us in Houston for two weeks running...right up until a few days before our departure.

But in His great love for us, upon our arrival, He sent Boston two beautiful 'spring-like' days. Their first back-to-back days in the 50's since OCTOBER!

We arrived at our hotel, The Lenox, just after noon. The room was beautiful! High ceilings, a fireplace (that wasn't to be used?!?!) and a great view of the Back Bay area, what else could we ask for? (If you ever find yourself visiting Boston, I highly recommend this hotel. Customer service was exceptional and the hotel itself is within walking distance of everything we wanted to do while we were in town.)

After checking in to our room, we headed out on what soon became knows as the "Great Coat Caper".

It was in the upper 50's, why did we need a coat?

Well, though the weather was forecast to be absolutely beautiful for Thursday and Friday, the frigid temperatures were predicted to return on Saturday...and snow on Monday.

And since the streets of Boston still looked like this...

...I just knew that I was going to be cold when the temperatures dropped!

Because the temps were so high in Houston when we left, I forgot to grab my winter coat from the closet. I remembered it just after I left the house. So, I called Jim and asked him to bring it in to the office when he came...and then I promptly forgot to get it out of his truck before he left for the day!

Robin and I had one heck of a time finding a coat! We started out on Boston's famed Newbury Street. Upscale boutiques stretched as far as the eye could see...but no coats! After searching for an hour or so, we stopped and ate lunch at Sonsie. (The open faced steak sandwich was DELISH!)

After restoring our energy levels with the great food, we decided it may be better to find the nearest mall.

Easier said than done!

I have NEVER in my life had such a hard time finding a mall! We knew the address. We were on the right street. We had walked FOREVER. Yet, we still couldn't find the mall that was supposed to be right in front of us.

We made the block. Still nothing that resembled a mall.

Finally, we took a chance and walked into the Prudential building just to see.

Well, we didn't find the mall; but we did find The Shops at Prudential Center! Hallelujah!

Now, please remember, we had been searching for this elusive winter coat for going on four hours at this I was determined to buy the first winter coat I found.

We looked through stores...nothing. We walked into another 'arcade' and searched...nothing. Boston was getting ready for Spring. There were no winter coats to be found. So, we finally did the unthinkable. We walked into Saks Fifth Avenue. I found a coat. It was the right size. It was $2,000! I was thinking to myself, "I still want to be married after this trip" I passed on the coat!

Another 'arcade', no coat...but a lead! "Try Lord & Taylor's. Their winter coats are on sale." Music to my ears!

We finally found Lord & Taylor's...and the winter coats...and I found the one I wanted...we made the purchase (Half price! Score!!!)...and walked out the front door onto the street...and we were (I kid you not!) three doors down from our hotel where we started this whole escapade!!!!

Travel Lesson #1: It pays to know where you're going in a new town!

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up for our evening. We had tickets to see Shear Madness at the Charles Playhouse. It is the longest running play in the history of the American theatre. They just began their thirty-first year!

We arrived at the theatre early, so we headed to the lounge to pass some time until the show started. Lo and behold, the bartender is a nice young man from Baytown. Small world! He took us under his wings and told us all the great restaurants to try while we are in town. Insiders tips are usually the we gratefully took his suggestions that he wrote on the back of an order ticket.

The play was a blast! It is a hilarious, interactive 'whodunit' set in a hair salon. The audience was small on Thursday, so the participation between cast and observers was more personal. (They offered to talk slower for me when they found out I was from Texas! LOL!)

It was a fun show...and their improv skills were out of this world. Go see it, if you get the chance.

As we walked out of the theatre, our plans were to take a cab to a late dinner. But upon seeing a bicycle rickshaw parked out front, we decided that would be more fun. So, off we went to...

AKA the Bull and Finch Pub. We went to the Original, upon which the television show was based. The inside doesn't look anything at all like the set used in the show (that can be seen at the Replica in Faneuil Hall Marketplace). But the entrance and the front door are exactly as the show portrays them.
We were a little disappointed that they didn't know our names as advertised...but enjoyed our evening in their company all the same!

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel for a good night's sleep. After all, we knew we only had one more warm day to enjoy Boston at her best!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Grandma Time Again

"Grandmas Gone Wild: Part IV" will commence tomorrow!!

I am super excited to once again be heading out to a destination I have never visited before. This time there will only be two of us (sad face) but I know we will have a blast!

Robin and I are headed to the Capital of New England bright and early in the morning. We have plans to walk the Freedom Trail and see Paul Revere's house and look out over the harbor where they threw all the tea overboard. Who knows what else we will do while we are there!

I doubt I will have much time for posting while we are gone...but if something comes up that just can't wait, I will give it a try. If not, I will be back next week with pictures and tales of our adventures.

Look out Boston! Here come the Grandmas!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

He Loves Me

He went with traditional red.

Only this year he only bought two.

His and Hers bikes! I've been asking for one since my birthday...and for a riding partner too.
We took them for a little spin. I made it to the end of the street and had to head back home. My legs ached so good!

And then he threw some steaks on the grill!

It was a SWEET Valentines!

I am a lucky girl!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Amazing Love

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse,
whose rider is called Faithful and True.
Revelation 19:11
Faithful and True -- words that make a woman's heart swoon -- if she will just let herself imagine with hope for a moment.

A Rider on a white horse -- her Champion -- defending her honor, vanquishing her foes, sweeping her off her feet into the "happily ever after."

The things of fairy tales and great love stories. The very thing set in the feminine heart by her Creator.

Thank heavens He also sent the Hero -- the Lover of her soul -- the Prince of Peace -- our Lord Jesus!

Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Old Fear; A New Lens

The Pastor opened with the title of his sermon this morning:
The Blessing of Rejection

He spoke of how he doesn't even like the sound of the word. Go ahead, try it for yourself. Say it a few times. "Rejection, rejection, REJECTION!"

Even as he spoke, I thought about the sound it the "Paid" stamp at my desk. Each time you push it, you hear the head rotate down and then strike the paper firmly before rolling back to it's starting position.

Can you hear it? Rejection. Rejection. RE (the head rolls)JECT(paper strike)ION(the head returns to rest).

I live in fear of rejection. Have for as long as I can remember. There is an 'audio loop' in my head that says to me...'you are not enough', 'you are going to fail', 'everyone will see you for who you really are...and they will leave.' It is a heart tells me so...but this monster refuses to die. Even when it sleeps, all it takes is a look, a word, from someone I love and he rises to rumble around in my head once again.

So, I sit and I listen to the Pastor's words thinking to myself, "How can rejection ever be a blessing?" And then he breaks the bread of Romans 11. Israel rejected the gospel; but God never rejected them...even today, a remnant remains...just as Paul himself believed, so do a minority today.

Where is the blessing in rejection?

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Romans 11:15

The reconciliation of the world...the reconciliation of myself, a Gentile, to the Lord Almighty. And in the fullness of time, the majority of the natural branches will be grafted back in.

Rejection = Blessing...only in God's economy would that ever work out!

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Edited on Monday, February 14 to link up to the "Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday" community at Graceful!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Who Says These Are The Terrible Twos?

Guess who is turning 2 today?

Our little man...Mad Dog...Maddux!
Pappaw and Nonna hope that your day is filled with all things peanut butter and honey sandwiches!

And that you laugh A LOT!

Because when you laugh, you laugh all over!

And it is contagious!

Happy Birthday, Maddux!!!!

We love you!