We're back from a whirlwind weekend in Boston, and boy did we have fun!
Our adventures started off on Thursday morning with a trip to the Wellesley Green Houses. Outside it was cold, wet and miserable, but in these sixteen greenhouses, the weather was perfect, from desert to tropical. Before we walked through the greenhouses, we made a plan: each of the four kids would identify and then photograph their favorite plant in each room. With this strategy figured out, we jumped right into the desert room. We were met with a big 'ol Golden Barrel cactus, which the kids both loved and feared. And from there, we spent about an hour exploring the rest of the rooms. The kids know that Aunt Shira and Uncle Ben have a thing for nature, so they know to expect wild activities like this one. The photos that they kids took are wonderful,
expect a post featuring them soon see them here.
After playing amateur botanist, we made our way to the nearby GlowGolf, an indoor mini-golf course. At the very first hole it became obvious that my vision of the 4 kids, Shira, Elana and Myself all completing the same hole at the same time was never going to happen. So we quickly improvised a new plan: Shira escorted Dovid, Elana kept Gavriella occupied and I escorted Chana and Tzipora. We played fast and loose with the rules (the phrase 'Eckerling Golf' kept popping into my head) and by about half-way through the course Chana and Tzipora were really getting into it. Shira tells me that the same happened with Dovid. And even Gavriella figured out a winning strategy: she'd plop down the ball a few inches from the hole, putt it in and then celebrate like she hit a hole in one. It was too cute. Note to self: the holes at GlowGolf are tricky--they would be great for teens, little ones, not so much.
After dinner and lighting Chanukah candles we did our last activity of the night: swimming! The kids were super excited about coming to our hotel and swimming in the pool there, so that's what we did. As the kids approached the edge of the pool, what we had previously warned them about sunk in: the depth of the pool was a consistent 4 feet; the equivalent of the 'deep end' for all of them. Suddenly, they were all terrified of the pool. I jumped in the water and cajoled them to let me take them for a swim. It was Gavriella the brave who volunteered first to let me dip her into the pool and then put her back on the edge. After one little dip she was hooked. And so it was with all the kids. Once I could get them the slightest bit wet, they were suddenly elated to be in the pool. We "swam" for about 45 minutes and the kids loved each minute of it.
Friday and Saturday were spent crafting, building and generally playing. The weather was too cold for us Virginians, so we opted to stay inside and risk cabin fever. We did come prepared though, as we had a number of games and activities at the ready. One of the biggest hits was pick-up sticks. A friend (thanks Dawn!) had given us a bunch of classic games over the holidays and we brought them with. I'd never played pick-up sticks before, so I didn't really know what to expect. Turns out, it was the perfect game for the kids. The basic premise of the game is that you dump out the sticks on the floor and then take turns picking them up. The catch: if any other stick moves while you try to retrieve one, you forfeit the turn. Trust me, it's harder than it looks.
The kids put up with the frustration of failing, and started learning different ways to extract the sticks. Once they got that figured out, Shira introduced the point system to them. The sticks are colored and not all worth the same amount. This required further strategy, as the kids realized that a higher risk stick is probably worth losing a turn over. It was quite the educational game all cloaked in fun.
At one point we also busted out lettered beads for the kids to string on necklaces. They each wrote out a message or two (Chana: "Chana Rocks!", Dovid: "I like and love Legos"). I then gave Dovid and Tzipora a challenge: what about writing a coded message? For Dovid, I told him to write a message where each letter used its neighbor. So if he needed an "a" he should string a "b" and if needed a "c" he should string a "d".
15 minutes later he presented his creation:
J MPWF TIJSB CGG CFO BOE TIJSB
That translates to: I Love Shira | BFF Ben And Shira
Tzipora took a different route, creating her message and then stringing it backwards and with extra spaces in the middle.
At one point, we were running out of letters and Elana remarked: why don't you just use some of these letters from these gibberish necklaces? Aha, it worked!
With smarts like this, it's only a matter of time before the NSA comes knocking on the door for Dovid and Tzipora.
While Dovid and Tzipora were sharpening their encryption skills, Chana was apparently putting on a 10 act play for Shira. Yeah, this girl is a natural born actress. She even thanked the audience for coming.
Tzipora turned 6 on Friday, and perhaps no encounter demonstrates her smarts and kindness as well as this one. She asked me to play a game of 'Frozen themed Uno' with her. As we started playing, my days of playing Uno as a little kid came flooding back to me (there I am, playing Michael Zwas in their family room down the street from my house) and I actually remembered a bit of strategy. Tzipora wanted to play with all our cards showing, and I saw easily how I was going to beat her. Except, that's not at all what happened. Within no time, she was one card away from winning and she refused to play that last card, as she felt bad beating her Uncle Ben. She was so clever and so sweet!
As always, the weekend ended too soon. Fortunately, we squeezed a whole lot of fun into just a few days!