Lego.

Legoland Discovery Center: Boston. The last big part of our trip and, quite possibly, the most exciting. It wasn’t Legoland Florida, which we visited last year, but it was still pretty awesome. To their enormous credit, they fit a lot of entertainment into a fairly small space. Two amusement rides, a build-and-race center, a decent-sized climbing structure/playspace, a cafe, a gift shop, a “factory” simulation, a classroom, a 4-D movie, and a significantly awesome MiniLand.

I’m pretty sure this will make it onto our itinerary most times we’re in the city. Easy parking, a fun several hours, and a JP Licks as soon as you walk out the door. Win-win-win!

Here's where you start: Tessie, the life-sized Duplo giraffe.

Here’s where you start: Tessie, the life-sized Duplo giraffe.

The Who tried and tried to climb it -- with very little success. We finally decided that the master builders probably didn't make enough footholds on purpose.

The Who tried and tried to climb it — with very little success. We finally decided that the master builders probably didn’t make enough footholds on purpose.

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They have timed entry and then only allow 30 people up to the first exhibit at a time. It was a good effort toward crowd control and they had the good sense to incorporate cute photo ops like this on the wall in the waiting room.

They have timed entry and then only allow 30 people up to the first exhibit at a time. It was a good effort toward crowd control and they had the good sense to incorporate cute photo ops like this on the wall in the waiting room.

The "factory" part of the place is a 360º movie type thing that is semi-interactive and a little confusing.

The “factory” part of the place is a 360º movie type thing that is semi-interactive and a little confusing.

I am very wooed by life-sized Lego pieces.

I am very wooed by life-sized Lego pieces.

MiniLand was my favorite part -- and I think The Who's also. He also learned as we crossed it on the way to Legoland that the Zakim bridge was part of the Big Dig, with which he is fascinated.

MiniLand was my favorite part — and I think The Who’s also. Boston made of Legos! He learned as we crossed it on the way to Legoland that the Zakim was part of the Big Dig, with which he is fascinated.

"Look!" The Who said excitedly. "That's us! It's our blue car on the bridge!" (I'm fairly sure he was suspending disbelief and so did I. It was fun.)

“Look!” The Who said excitedly. “That’s us! It’s our blue car on the bridge!” (I’m fairly sure he was suspending disbelief and so did I. It was fun.)

Every five or so minutes, the lights in the room dimmed and the structures' lights came up, simulating nighttime in the city.

Every five or so minutes, the lights in the room dimmed and the structures’ lights came up, simulating nighttime in the city.

Love.

Love.

Growing up, we split season tickets to the Sox with a few others. Either my brother or I went to every home Friday night game with my dad. These were our seats.

Growing up, we split season tickets to the Sox with a few others. Either my brother or I went to every home Friday night game with my dad. These were our seats: Section 23, row KK, seats 1 and 2.

Almost any kid who grew up in Boston will remember the milk bottle snack stand.

Almost any kid who grew up in Boston will remember the milk bottle snack stand.

The Tea Party ship.

The Tea Party ship.

And, under the water, an actual tea party. Clever, Lego guys. Clever.

And, under the water, an actual tea party. Clever, Lego guys. Clever.

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I was a little disappointed that there were no weeping willows in the Public Garden. I guess I can forgive them this one transgression.

I was a little disappointed that there were no weeping willows in the Public Garden. I guess I can forgive them this one transgression.

Especially since they got down to so many details. For example, around the back of this part, if you knelt down and pushed a button, a light came on the Cheers bar underground. (It happened to be the TV show set version and not the actual Bull & Finch pub, but whatevs.)

Especially since they got down to so many details. For example, around the back of this part, if you knelt down and pushed a button, a light came on the Cheers bar underground. (It happened to be the TV show set version and not the actual Bull & Finch pub, but whatevs.)

The Hatch Shell, where you could push buttons to make each instrument play.

The Hatch Shell, where you could push buttons to make each instrument play.

And Harvard Yard. Please note how there is no parking of any cars there, just like in the original.

And Harvard Yard. Please note how there is no parking of any cars there, just like in the original.

Life-sized Olivia's House -- a small nod to Lego Friends.

Life-sized Olivia’s House — a small nod to Lego Friends.

Inside, there was a kitchen with a cucpake-making station and a karaoke set-up. Those two things along with the purple leather couches? Sold. (The lyric he's singing in this shot is "Here's my number."

Inside, there was a kitchen with a cucpake-making station and a karaoke set-up. Those two things along with the purple leather couches? Sold.
(The lyric he’s singing in this shot is “Here’s my number.”

"So call me maybe."

“So call me maybe.”

And, finally, the Master Builder's workshop. I'd love several hours alone in here.

And, finally, the Master Builder’s workshop. I’d love several hours alone in here.

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Stuck.

We’re back. We’re finally back. The driving trips give us a lot of flexibility, but they kind of ruin me. Maybe him, too, though he seems not terribly worse for wear.

The traffic in Connecticut actually made me cry real tears. Just a little, but still. There was a moment — after an hour of going no faster than 16mph on 95, and then finally pulling onto the Merritt Parkway to a dead standstill/stop and go for another half an hour where I thought, I cannot do this. I can’t. When he woke up from his nap, I tried to reason with him: “It’s at least four more hours. We’ve been driving for three already. If the traffic doesn’t let up, it will be longer.” I wanted him to agree to stop at a hotel, but he really didn’t want to and since I was on the fence about it anyway, we pushed on. Luckily for both of us, we started moving again and didn’t hit anything worse than that for the rest of the trip.

It’s a straightforward drive, but one that always sideswipes me with mixed emotions. I’m always looking forward to getting home. To seeing m*. To sleeping in my own bed. To having everything just where I want it. But passing through each successive state (Welcome to Rhode Island! Connecticut Welcomes You! Entering New York! New Jersey: The Garden State!) from there to here is a reminder of how far I actually am from home. It has gotten easier; it totally has. Going back and forth does not throw me nearly the way it used to. And I have friends here that I am delighted to return to. But, man. I just love Boston. Even when I have lived here as long as I have lived there (I’ve still got another 20 years to go for that) I don’t think it will ever be the same. I just have to keep reminding myself that that isn’t my goal: sameness. I’m not trying to recreate home; I’m just trying to make another one.

 

 

Who.

We’ve done some adventuring. As promised, photographic documentation:

Ain't no reason *not* to visit the Pez factory when you're driving right by it.

Ain’t no reason *not* to visit the Pez factory when you’re driving right by it.

It's in Orange, CT, in case you're wondering. And it has, much to our mutual delight, a souvenir penny machine.

It’s in Orange, CT, in case you’re wondering. And it has, much to our mutual delight, a souvenir penny machine.

We went here when The Who was about 3 (and had pretty much no frame of reference for Pez) and the one and only thing he remembered about it was this floor display of candy.

We went here when The Who was about 3 (and had pretty much no frame of reference for Pez) and the one and only thing he remembered about it was this floor display of candy.

The factory isn't operational on the weekends, but they do show a video of how everything goes down.

The factory isn’t operational on the weekends, but they do show a video of how everything goes down.

Design your own Pez dispenser.

Design your own Pez dispenser.

From here, it was just a short hour and a half or so to Springfield and our next road-trip pit-stop: the Dr. Seuss memorial sculpture garden. The sculptures are in the quadrangle amongst a handful of museums (a couple of art and a science) and although we only went in to see the dinosaurs, we ended up staying to see the live animals and do a craft project. We spent most of the afternoon there and finally got on the road to my parents’ around 4pm.

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Learning how the animatronic frame works.

Learning how the animatronic frame works.

Little foot inside footprint

Little foot inside footprint

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch." The Who told him a thing or two.

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.” The Who told him a thing or two.

What kind of mentor wisdom is good ole Theodor passing down to The Who?

What kind of mentor wisdom is good ole Theodor passing down to The Who?

I think Horton Hears My Who

I think Horton Hears My Who

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I do not like them, Sam I Am.

I do not like them, Sam I Am.

Some version of this will be my next tattoo.

Some version of this will be my next tattoo. Whoville: just a speck on a clover. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Today, we adventured to Legoland Discovery Center Boston. Photos soon to come of that excellent place!

Deux.

I’ve been meaning to blog about this trip for days. I got kind of used to the routine of nightly blogging on our shore vacation and expected I’d do the same for this one, but my evenings have been different here. Instead of putting The Who to bed at 7:30 and then sitting by myself in a hotel lobby, I’ve been putting The Who to bed at 8 or 8:30 or 9, chatting with my aunt, and then crashing an hour later myself.

Let’s catch up. My mother requested that her family accompany her to Ellis Island to do some research for her 70th birthday. So, we did. There were some challenges on the trip, including an epic meltdown after a couple of nights of sleeping for shit, but outside of that, it was a great time. The weather was perfect, everyone’s behavior was stellar, and it was fun to all be in the same hotel. The Who loved tromping up and down the halls to visit his grandparents and I gotta say, so did I.

Staying in -- and traveling from -- Jersey City as opposed to Manhattan was definitely the way to go. Personally, I love NY, but it was cheaper to stay and more sane to navigate. Plus, the line for the JC ferry was easily half as long and moved twice as quickly at the Battery Park one.

Staying in — and traveling from — Jersey City as opposed to Manhattan was definitely the way to go. Personally, I love NY, but it was cheaper to stay and more sane to navigate. Plus, the line for the JC ferry was easily half as long and moved twice as quickly as the Battery Park one.

Searching for family, surrounded by family.

Searching for family, surrounded by family.

The kid loves Lady Liberty. We read several books about the statue and about immigration before the trip, so he was well-prepared. When given the option to choose a gift from the gift shop, he chose a replica statue and this hat. Then posed like the statue on the wall and asked me to take a picture.

The kid loves Lady Liberty. We read several books about the statue and about immigration before the trip, so he was well-prepared. When given the option to choose a gift from the gift shop, he chose a replica statue and this hat. Then posed like the statue on the wall and asked me to take a picture.

The next morning, when I told him to color for a bit so I could keep sleeping, this is the masterpiece he turned out.

The next morning, when I told him to color for a bit so I could keep sleeping, this is the masterpiece he turned out.

The trip up to Massachusetts from Jersey City at the end of the weekend was actually delightful and included brunch in the West Village with my boy, a drive up the West Side Highway, where we spied the ship we’ll sail on later this spring, a stop at the Pez Visitors’ Center (which was a lot more fun with a 5-year old than it was with a 3-year-old) and an entire morning at the Springfield (MA) museums, complete with animatronic dinosaurs (short video here), a fossil craft project, and exploration of the Dr. Seuss memorial statues.

Charming Brunch Spot is charming.

Charming Brunch Spot is charming.

I took some photos of The Who with the Horton statue and those are forthcoming. In the meantime, Theodor Seuss Geisel/Cat in The Hat selfie.

I took some photos of The Who with the Horton statue and those are forthcoming. In the meantime, Theodor Seuss Geisel/Cat in The Hat selfie.

So far, we’ve had very few set plans and have been able to spend a lot of time with my nephews. It’s been a total joy to see The Who delighting in his cousins and this is really the first trip where he’s been able to actually play with them quite a bit. Frisbee, Capture the Flag, basement soccer, and tag. Today we went swimming and then took a trip into Fenway to walk around a bit. According to The Who, his two cousins hung the moon.

"I love cousins! They're even better than grandpeople!"

“I love cousins! They’re even better than grandpeople!”

We’ve got a few more days of this and then a week to recuperate before kindergarten starts.

(Kindergarten. What?)

 

Out.

I tried to explain the concept of the ice bucket challenge to The Who tonight. I tried really hard — all the ways I knew — and he still couldn’t get it. “Why, though,” he asked, “would someone make a donation just because they put ice on their head?”

“They don’t make the donation because they put the ice on their head. It’s just that doing it reminds them to make a donation. They might not think about it otherwise.”

“But I still don’t understand, Mama. I still don’t understand why ice makes them give money.” He really wanted to get it. And looking at him, standing there, post-shower in his plush hooded bathrobe, his blue eyes wide and imploring — I really wanted to be able to help him.

“Well, like, they might not be thinking about donating to cure this sickness, but being chosen to do this silly thing reminds them.”

“How does money cure a sickness?”

Frustrated, I finally said, “Ask Mommy. Maybe she will be able to explain it better. I can’t seem to tell you in a way that helps you understand.”

“But you can always explain things to me. You can always answer all my questions.”

He’s right. And there have been some doozies, too. (Witness: the time we drove by Planned Parenthood and he asked why they were holding signs outside. And the time they erected the paperclip memorial outside a synagogue and I had to explain the Holocaust.) But, despite the years of practice, I’ve never had as much trouble getting to the nuts and bolts as I did with this one. Somehow my words just weren’t computing for him.

Until they finally did. Until the coin finally dropped. “Ok,” he said after I had explained it one more time. “I think I understand now.” And that was that.

Later, I was editing  my ice bucket video and the news about Robin Williams popped up. Talk about hard to understand.

I’ve never been famous. And I’ve never been addicted. Neither have I been diagnosed with any serious mental illness. But I have been depressed. And I have been so low that I wondered if maybe ending my life was the better option. But I never did it. I never did it because the things about living always seemed better than the things about dying. There were always more things I’d miss than those from which I’d get relief.  Even at my saddest and most desperate — the day I put my wailing, flailing two-month-old on his back on the carpet in the middle of my parents’ living room, dropped my face into my hands, and screamed, “I wish I never had you!” — even then, I knew that I would not live in that place forever. That it would turn around. As hopeless as I felt, in some small, far away place I knew that it wouldn’t be that horrible forever. And thank God, I was right. It took much longer than I had expected or hoped, but it wasn’t that horrible forever. In fact, it was never that horrible again.

I don’t know how I could ever explain suicide to The Who. If he asked me tomorrow or next week or even years from now, I don’t know how I could satisfy his earnest need to understand. I could give him the pat line about people being so sad that they think the only way to end the sadness would be to end their life, but I don’t think anything I could ever say would explain it enough to sate him.  I don’t understand it myself.

For tonight, I am grateful that the hardest thing I had to explain was a viral Facebook meme about being silly and doing good. And my heart hurts for all those in the midst of trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.

Rise.

I set an alarm for 5:55am and [unfortunately not as quietly as I had anticipated] slid The Who and I onto the balcony to see the 6:04 sunrise on our last morning at the shore. He had never seen a sunrise before. It was just as magical (for both of us) as I had hoped.

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Shh.

10am on the patio. What feels like the first time I have been alone in…days? Months? Somehow it doesn’t feel like it counts as time alone when it’s measured in minutes. That feels like stolen time. A few minutes on the bed while he’s on the patio and she’s in the bathroom. Forty-five minutes in the lobby while she’s hanging out in the room as he falls asleep. An hour on the couch before going to bed. Im not used to this much togetherness. And it’s not jut vacation. When I need to wake up at 5am, I need to go to bed at 9pm. The days are simultaneously long and short. I’m really feeling it this week. And as I think about the fall, I don’t see much relief. Maybe evenings. I suppose once I am afforded the luxury of sleeping in a bit (maybe until 8?) I can stay up later, too. Give myself a few hours at a time.

Even 8 floors up, I can hear The Who’s voice, down at the pool below, swimming with m*. People tell me what a cute voice he has and I suppose, objectively, I can see that. Today — and often lately — I experience it as piercing and shrill, cutting through the silence like one of those infomercial knives that can slice a tin can and then a ripe tomato seconds later. It’s relentless. He has so much to say. So many thoughts. I don’t want to squelch his creativity.

“You know what, Mama?”
What?
“When I grow up, I’m gonna invent a group home that never runs out of space.”(He had just seen a person with a disability in the hotel lobby and his string of questions led us to the notion that sometimes, people with disabilities end up in group homes. ‘What if there’s not enough space in the home for everyone who needs to live there?’ he had asked. ‘I guess they’d have to go to another one,’ I answered. ‘But what if there’s not enough space in that home and the next one and the next one?’ That’s when the invention idea came up. He does that all the time — identifies a problem and then commits himself to solving it. It’s an admirable and noble and delightfully idealistic trait. I hope that he has it forever, which is why I indulge these near-constant exchanges. Usually.)

“Y’know what, Mama?”
What?
“When I grow up, I’m gonna make a restaurant and it’s gonna have Octopus Bites on the menu. And for dessert, you can choose gummy bears and if you choose gummy bears, you get a thousand of them so that way, you won’t run out if you want more. And you know what, Mama?”
What?
“My restaurant is only going to be open for one hour, that way all the people who want to eat there will have to come at that time and so ‘dat I won’t have to keep cooking all day long.”
(You really can’t argue with that logic, can you?)

It’s a sticky situation I find myself in all the time. Not wanting to cut off the amazing things swirling around inside his head and at the same time, just wanting five fucking minutes of fucking peace and fucking quiet.

This break on the balcony has been good. I’m nice and hot now and ready to be in the pool with him, where he is certain to explain his idea for a special kind of swim vest he’s going to invent or the many ways in which his new rubber shark has learned how to swim and catch prey or perhaps the number of bubbles he has learned how to create with the restaurant straw we allowed him to bring down with him.

No wonder he sleeps so well these days; it must be exhausting to be inside his head. I know it sure is out here.Shh.