Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Karen's Birthday Adventure

My Hubby put together a fantastic birthday surprise for me.  His company had taken him on an excursion to an Escape Room and he thought it was something I'd really enjoy.   So unbeknownst to me, he planned a day at the Escape Room in Westford for my birthday.

The best part for me was that he invited all my children.  When we got to the Escape Room  (unrealistically early for my usually-tardy Hubby) we checked in and he insisted on waiting outside for the 20 minutes before it was our turn to start.

We sat on the bench outside and next thing you know, my daughter Jamie shows up with her boyfriend Sean.  Then Nick and Kelly arrived and I knew Doug wouldn't be far behind.  I was completely delighted that when he showed up, his wife Kara and my granddaughter Emily were with him.   I didn't expect Kara because she's had a recent head injury; but after speaking with the guy at the Escape Room, and being reassured that there was nothing to harm her and she wouldn't ruin it for everyone if she left early, she agreed to join in. 

After a short introduction we were told our "story".   "A robber has stolen four Championship Rings from the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He has them hidden in his Boston apartment.  Our task is to find the rings and escape the room with them within the hour or the room will be blown up!"

We walked into the room and the fun began.  We were asked not to divulge any secrets so as not to ruin it for other people who will go in later, but basically there were a lot of locked cabinets and drawers and we had to figure out the combinations for the locks to find more clues or find the rings.  We were allowed 3 hints (which we used) and the guy had to come in with some long-nosed pliers to release a sim card that was put in incorrectly and got stuck........But, with our collective intelligences, we managed to get out with 8 minutes to spare!  The guy told us later only about 30% of the people escape within the hour.

And I do mean we used all our intelligences.  I was very impressed that every single person contributed in some way to help us figure out the puzzles.   We weren't allowed to take pictures in the room, but the guy took a picture of us all at the end.

Emily got the chance to wear the four rings before she reluctantly had to give them back.  Even though one ring was Tom Brady's, he didn't show up in person to claim it.

After that, Hubby had let the kids know that he wanted us all to go to lunch together.  Kimball's was right up the road, so we all went there.   I knew they had added an outdoor restaurant and was told the seafood was great and they were right!  It's my favorite kind of dining with ordering at the counter and bringing your trays to a picnic table.

After lunch, Emily batted her big blue eyes at her Daddy and convinced him to give her some money for the arcade.  Doug and Kara headed home but Nick, Kelly, Jamie, Sean, Hubby, me and Emily went and played in the arcade.   Emily's favorite game was Deal or No Deal

Jamie tried out the motorcycle

Hubby thought it was hilarious that I tried a snowboarding game

Jamie and Emily teamed up to knock down a bunch of clowns

I know Sean got the high score on the punching bag, but I lost track of Nick and Kelly and what games they were playing.

We all pooled together our tickets to see if Emily could win her choice of prizes.  She came up short and then a random stranger came over and gave her 800 tickets!  She was very happy with her prize, and I was proud that, since she now had 300 tickets left over, she paid it forward and gave it to another little girl.

After the arcade we went outside for ice cream - we were at Kimball's after all!

What a fanastic day and so much fun to spend time with my kids!  Thank you so much Hubby for such a wonderful gift!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Audrey's 5th Birthday Adventure

Hubby and I attended a fundraiser for Shriner's Hospital because some friends were playing the music for the event.  I participated in the silen auction, and won four tickets to the Children's Museum of NH in Dover.   

I thought it would be a great idea for Audrey's 5th Birthday Adventure.   Audrey graciously allowed her sister to come on the fourth ticket.

We began our adventure with lunch.  I let Audrey choose the restaurant, and she decided on Friendly's.  Great choice!  Mini hamburgers with fries...

Elise literally ate the cheese off the cheeseburger bun and that was it!

And "Monster" ice cream for dessert......for everyone including Pepere and  me!

The waitress was agreeable to putting their coloring sheets up on the wall.

First stop at the Children's Museum is the Yellow Submarine....Pepere liked that!
You can "steer" it while watching out the window for sharks, etc.   While Elise was steering, Audrey commentated...."Elise! Turn the wheel!  You're going to hit the rocks!"   And she learned you can drive right through the seaweed!

Next was the Post Office.  We took turns being the Postal Worker and the one who rings the bell for service.

There was a room with all kinds of soft sculptures so you could make your own creation.

Pepere shows off his muscles

Audrey shows off the flower Pepere made for her.

I regret I did not get a photo of the sand table.  There was a light above it with a sensor that apparently measured the height of the sand.  When  you made the sand into a mountain, it looked brown with a topographical type map of the sand.  If it was hollowed out, it looked like a lake.  Fascinating for the kids AND the adults!

Audrey was impressed with the dinosaur's teeth!

Audrey designed and built this tower  herself!

Pepere "helping" Elise with her tower.

Puppet Theater

They had lots of cute puppets there!

I also missed taking photos of the Magnet Area and the "Cantina" that was a play restaurant with plastic food for serving.

This area was very cool.  The wooden pieces on the wall have sensors behind them so when you press on the wood they make a musical note.

Elise instructs Pepere to dance

And finally at the top of a long ramp was a "cave" that Audrey loved because when  you pressed a button, it emitted purple lights displaying heiroglyphics.

Both girls were fantastic all day and listened very well.   At the very end, after each girl had another turn driving the submarine and I'd said it was time to go, Elise suddenly went deaf!!  LOL   She didn't cry or throw a tantrum, she just crossed her arms and pretended she couldn't hear me saying it was time to go.  

It's always an adventure for Memere and Pepere just as much as it is for the grandkids!  And we enjoy it as much as they do too!

Thursday, July 12, 2018


The final stop in our whirlwind South Carolina Tour was Charleston.  We stayed at a Doubletree right down in the Market District.   Very expensive!  Out of the four places we visited, Charleston came in at #4 on my list of favorites.   

It was a short walk to the very lovely waterfront.

There was a long walking area all along the water.

Along the way we passed this great restaurant, so we went back for dinner that night.  The best scallops I've ever had!  And more Hush Puppies!

We weren't far from the Aquarium so we walked over.....

It was kind of odd because they had a lot of displays of animals and fish made out of Legos.  I don't know if the displays are there all the time, or if it was a special exhibit.

Parts of the Aquarium were outside.

It was a small Aquarium but very nice.

The second day we took a boat ride......the weather the whole time we were down there was just spectacular!

We passed by Fort Sumter.  

Hubby "force marched" me to the other side of Charleston to see a cafe with records in it........thank goodness for public transportation on the way back!   

We had dinner at TBonz....yummy!

And breakfast both mornings at the Broken Egg Cafe......yummy again!!

The Marketplace was a series of historic brick buildings that had been converted into an open-air marketplace reminiscent of Quincy Market.  I cannot believe I got no pictures of it!  There were buskers every night and you could take a horse and carriage ride as well.

I felt that the highlight of our visit in Charleston was going to the Boone Hall Plantation, the oldest continually working plantation in the country (founded in 1681)   At the entrance are two rows of oak trees....with the quintessential Spanish Moss hanging....that were planted in 1743.   

We had a very interesting and entertaining tour of the Plantation House, where our guide explained the history of the house and the inner workings over different periods of time.

Big beautiful tree in the back of the house

Gardens out front

Of course, plantations in those days were worked by slaves, and this plantation had a row of old slave houses with a timeline of history as you went into each house.

Outside the last house was a seating area, and a wonderful African American woman came out and sang, talked and gave us a history lesson on life on the plantation.   It was amazing!

We left the plantation and went straight to the airport to head home.

The flight home went like this:   
1.   Leave Charleston for stop in Baltimore at 7:30 pm
2.  Circle over Baltimore for 1/2 hour because of thundestorms
3.  Run low on fuel so fly to Raleigh to refuel.
4.  Sit on the ground for 45 minutes while they refuel.
5.  Fly to Baltimore where, thankfully, our connecting flight had also been delayed.
6. Get ready to board in Baltimore, where we are informed it is an "Honor Flight" so we wait 45 minutes while they board 50 World War II vets in wheelchairs.
7.  Hubby and I are not only the last ones on the plane, but the last ones in the entire airport.
8.  We do not get to sit together.
9.  Pilot announces that Manchester NH airport is fogged in so we cannot take off until we can be assured we can land in Manch.  Sit on the plane for 30 minutes.
10. Co-pilot announces we will take off just as soon as a new pilot arrives  (??????)
11.  We wait another 30 minutes.
12.  Finally take off and land in Manch at 3:30 am where it is literally 50 degrees colder than it was in South Carolina!

The flight home was the ONLY bad part of an absolutely wonderful Southern vacation!  Beautiful weather, fantastic food, great sites and entertainment, and a week to spend alone with my Hubby.  Perfect!!