Christmas in the City

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays.  I remember coming in Town to see all the lights on the Common and the windows at Filenes and Jordan Marsh in Downtown Crossing.  We would also go to the Enchanted Village and Santa Claus.  Well, the Enchanted Village is out in Avon and Filenes and Jordan Marsh are gone.  But there are Christmas Trees, lights and decorations everywhere you look.

On The Common there is The Christmas Tree that is presented to the city every year by the citizens of Nova Scotia.

The Common

The Tree on The Boston Common

Downtown Crossing is nothing like I remember it but it has a Christmas Tree and some lights.

Tree and star

The Tree at Macy’s

Quincy Market is so special they have two Christmas Trees as well as some kind of blue blinky lights that are synced to music in all the other trees.

This is The Smaller Tree at Quincy Market

This is The Smaller Tree at Quincy Market

This is The Big Tree at Quincy Market

This is The Big Tree at Quincy Market

This is Some of The Trees With The Blinky Lights

This is Some of The Trees With The Blinky Lights

Another Shot of The Blinky Light Trees

Another Shot of The Blinky Light Trees

There is one tree as you enter the North End.

North End Christmas Tree

The Corner of Hanover and Cross Streets

There is another tree in the Prado in front of The Paul Revere Statue.

The Christmas Tree in The Prado

The Christmas Tree in The Prado

Then there are displays that defy description like this one on Battery Street


This is on Battery Street

Then there is Santa in a helicopter arriving for a parade.

Santa Arriving by Chopper

Santa Arriving by Chopper

Santa is a busy guy but he always makes a couple of trips to the North End to see the kids.

Ho Ho Ho!  Hello Everybody

Ho Ho Ho! Hello Everybody

Of course the best Christmas decoration is your very own tree.  This one is ours.  This year putting it up was a little tough.  My oldest is

I Save the Best For Last, This is My Tree

I Save the Best For Last, This is My Tree

This is just a tiny bit of what I walk by everyday going to and from work.  I really love this time of year.

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Pirate Party

Well the Pirate Party went excellent. Before I get to the party here is the rest of the preparations. The Treasure Chest had to be filled. We filled ours with little Treasure Chests.

A Little Treasure Chest Filled With Pirate Booty

So you put 24 of these together and place them in the big Treasure Chest.

Look at the Treasure

Add some more decorations and you have the perfect Pirate Party Treasure Chest.

The Chest is Ready

Next we move on to sharks and water for plank walking.   I cut out a couple of shark fins from grey felt.

Felt For Fins

Sew the felt fin along the front and back edges leaving the bottom open.

Sewing the Fin

Turn the felt fin inside out.  I use the eraser end of a pencil to turn the point of the fin fully out.

Turning Fin Inside Out

Next stuff the fin with fiber fill until it looks like a menacing shark fin.

Stuff the Fin

Take your shark fin an stitch it to a piece of blue cloth.

Oh No Shark in the Water

I figured three sharks would suffice for four to seven year olds.

Three Sharks in the Water

That is about it for preparation.  We also have quicksand to cross (gold fabric with rocks painted on it), a plank to walk, balloon swords and cannonballs (black balloons) for the cannonball races.  All that is left is to set up and await the guests.

The Room is Set

One of the guest’s mother made us a cardboard Pirate Ship for even more pirate adventure.

The Admiral and his Parrot

There Were Sword Fights

Plank Walking

More Sword Fighting

Cannonball Races

Quicksand Crossing

Still More Sword Fights

All and all it was a great party.  Everyone seemed to have a good time and I spent quite a bit of time sword fighting with little pirates.  They brandish a mean balloon sword.

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Pirate Party Preparation

After much discussion, we decided to have a Pirate Party for my little ones 6th birthday.  Apparently her she has to invite her whole class or no one from her class, according to her teacher.  So, now we are expecting 23 children (ages 2 to 7) and 15 or so parents.  This is our first real kid party so we may have gone a bit overboard.  I decided to make a sail for the table and to create a wonderful Treasure Chest.

Let me start with the sail.  I grabbed a piece of plywood as a base.


I used 1 in. plywood

First you need to find the center of the plywood.  I used a long level to find the center.

Mark the center of the base

Once you find the center you mark the base to attach the mast.  I used a 2×2 board about six feet tall as a mast.  I attached the mast to the base with a couple of wood screws.

Holes are drilled

After we tighten down the screws, we start drilling holes for the booms.  I decided to use a couple of 9/16th dowels for booms.  The top one is 42 inches and the bottom one is 48 inches,

Sailing Sailing Over the Bounty Main

Next was the Treasure Chest.   I started with a plain black chest.

Your Basic Chest

I painted a skull and cross bones on top and added lots of gold.

The Treasure Chest looks ready

Line the inside with gold and add a random skeleton.

All it Needs is Treasure

Next I get to learn to make balloon swords and shark fins.

It’s all awesome!

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Time To Carve The Pumpkin

One of the things I discovered about living in the city is that if you don’t have outdoor space, you carve your pumpkin as close to Halloween as you can.  There have been years that I never had a chance to get it done.  In 2012 the stars have aligned and today we carve a Jack-O-Lantern.

I open the pumpkin and scoop the guts out by myself.  Meanwhile the kids are busy drawing faces that we can use to design our Jack-O-Lantern


This is Our Pumpkin

So I start by laying out some newspaper and then I go to work with my knife.

Wish I had a Bigger Knife

opening the top

The Top is Off

I always forget how messy this is.

Inside the Pumpkin

Wow, I Haven’t This Much Fun Since the Last Pumpkin

Ready for help

Looks Like It’s About Time to Review Our Designs

So this is where we look at the kids Jack-O-Lantern faces and pick features from them.


They Look Good But I Think We Need Different Eyes

I drew some new eyes for the kids to check out.  They loved them.

Eyes by Daddy

Eyes by Daddy

We selected a nose by the 5 year old and the mouth by the 7 year old.

The Nose and eyes are done

Eyes and Nose are Done

Mouth is done

The Mouth is Cut Out, Lets Put it Back in

So we scoop some more pumpkin guts out and find the candle to check out our creation.


We Think it Came Out Awesome

I just have to help the kids decorate their pillow cases for tomorrow and find my black wig and we will be ready.

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Frankenstorm Apocalypse III

Sandy has come and gone.  I went out today with the kids to see what the storm had done to the area.   We went down to the waterfront and the only damage we came across was the fence at the basketball court was down.

Basketball Court Fence

The Basketball Court Fence Blew Down

We checked out all the other places we went yesterday and other than little bits of debris that washed up everything looked fine.  The tide was really high but there was no way it was going over the walls today.  I think we were all a little disappointed there was nothing to see.  We made it down to Long Wharf and it started raining again so we turned for home.  We walked by the Chart House that was surrounded by the ocean yesterday and they had put the patio tables back out.  That sums up the aftermath of the Frankenstorm Apocalypse in the North End/Waterfront area from what we saw.

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Frankenstorm Apocalypse Part II

High tide was supposed to be around noon, so we headed back out towards the waterfront at 11:45.  The wind had really picked up and so had the rain. We were rewarded by flooding all along the Harborwalk and three and four foot waves in the Harbor.  First we went back to the playground at Langone Park.  The area we photographed earlier.

It is underwater now

From a Different Angle

The entire walkway was underwater.  It looked like there was a couple of feet of water.

Boston’s Harborwalk

Looks Like you Could Water Ski Across This

Waves Crashing and Sea Spray in the North End?  This is forty feet from the Bocce Court.  I have never seen the water in the Harbor this high.

I Think I Just Saw a Fish Swim by

From here we headed past the Coast Guard Station to Battery Wharf.  There wasn’t any flooding but they were piling sandbags around the buildings.   Sargents Wharf was our next stop.  It looked like three foot swells between Rowes Wharf and Sargents Wharf.

Sargents Wharf From Commercial Street

Look at Those Waves

Dad, Never Mind Them, Look at These Waves

As we walked further out onto the wharf we saw the walkway was submerged and impassable.

Only Six Inches of Water Here

The Boats at Boston Yacht Haven

We saw our first “Closed due to Sandy” sign on The Sail Loft.

Some Places Closed for the Storm

From her we were off to Columbus Park.  The water hadn’t flooded over the wall there, but the wind was really howling.

We’re Going to Fly Away Daddy

The waves were going under the walkway and into the parking lot behind the Chart House on Long Wharf.  the entire walkway around the end of the wharf was under water.

Water Water Everywhere

There is Three Feet of Water Here

How Much Closer Does the Water Get?

Well, it is raining harder and the wind is picking up so we start back.  We couldn’t get by the walkway but the boardwalk was high enough.  One of the funniest things we came across was a gangway from a boat leading into the water.

Are You Sure That’s the Dock?

The front of the Chart House looked even worse than the back.

Hey Are You Open for Lunch Today?

The rain and wind are going to get progressively for the rest of the afternoon and through the evening.  We are heading home to bake a chicken and watch the rest of the storm through the windows.

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Frankenstorm Apocalypse

The hype around Hurricane Sandy reached a peak this morning. School was called off, I was told to stay home from work and the TV stations are doing live remotes from all the usual waterfront areas and are preempting the national morning shows to show viewers how sleep deprived their weather-people are.

Last night I went out to pick up candles and hot chocolate just in case. The kids got up at about 6:30, so we made Pecan Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast. At 9:00 we put on our rain gear and braved the impending doom and took the dog out for a walk.

The first thing we saw was the Fire Trucks outside our door.

The Fire Department is out and about.

Next we decided to go check if the storm was kicking up any good waves in the Harbor.  High tide was still three hours away and the water was only a couple of feet from washing over the walls.

Sure Looks Like This Area will Flood.

Old Ironsides Looks Battened Down and Ready for Anything

The kids were having a blast playing in the wind.

This Hurricane Stuff is Fun Daddy

Whoa! Somebody Help Me, We are Blowing All Over the Place

Then we were off to find early storm damage.   We saw our first downed tree branch at the end of an alley.

Peering Down the Alley We Spy Our First Storm Damage.

Next is the little park up the street, there are always tree branches down there.  We were not disappointed.

There is the Second

That’s enough for now.  We plan on going back out at high tide to see if we were right about the flooding.

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Walking Home From School

The kids and I like to walk home from school through Chinatown and the Financial District.

Even at dusk the colors are bright in Chinatown

The other day when we were walking on Chauncy St. I noticed a Vermont State Seal on the old Jordan Marsh building.  I took the camera with me today just to get a picture.  There is a Massachusetts State Seal and a City of Boston Seal.  There are also five or six blank spots that look like there were seals there that have been removed.

Vermont State Seal

The Vermont State Seal on the old Jordan Marsh Building built in 1949.

We cut through the Post Office Square Park.  The kids love the lights.

Lights on the trellis in Post Office Square Park in downtown Boston

Lights in the dome in the center

From there we walked over toward Quincy Market where we found a horse and carriage.

Nice horsey, don’t bite through the chain

Maybe we’ll try walking through the Leather District next.

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I have been cooking with the 5 and 7 year old on Sunday afternoon.  They crack me up about what they want to know.  Why do you add red powder to the chili?  It is chili powder, without it it’s not actually chili.  How come we add three different types of chocolate chips in the cookies?  That is what you like.  How do you know how many apples to use in a pie?  I just keep peeling until the crust is full.  It is really different cooking with two kids, but it is amusing.   We will continue to have our Sunday cooking class. I am  sure it will continue to be fun for many Sundays to come.

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Fun With Dick and Jane

My five year old has been reading my “Fun With Dick And Jane” compilation.  She really likes the book. She likes reading about Spot and Puff.  All of the characters resonate with her.

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