What an amazing day! Waking up in North Carolina to Parker's 6th birthday was lovely, and he was very excited although his understanding of what would happen was a little cloudy. He was asking about cake, and presents, and having us sing to him. We explained we'd be getting a cupcake later on, and that presents would come on a different day. But today, we were going to the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo!
This was a great idea that Sara had, because it was the only day we could get together, and she knew that the rodeo was happening on that day. It was absolutely perfect, because I have never eaten anything from a food truck before! It features heavily on my bucket list, and has been something I was dying to do. In New Hampshire there just aren't that many food trucks, and they almost certainly are not where I ever am. So I'm way behind the times! The rest of the country has been consumed with the food truck trend, but of course things are slow to come to New England. And how hard could it be?? REALLY? You don't even need a building! Lame.
What a journey to get there! Kelly picked us up at the house, and then we drove to Sara's house, and from there we drove again to Raleigh where we parked nearby in the Marriott underground parking garage. By the time we finally got there (around 2:00), the kids were starving in a bad way. I felt bad because it had been a legitimately long time since breakfast, and they were fading fast.
We meandered through the masses of people trying to look at the food trucks to decide what lengthy line to get in, and they sprawled along a half-mile stretch of road. As we passed truck after truck, the kids were getting frantic, and Drew was in tears and he goes, "Can we start ordering food now????" So we found the Master Bacon truck which they liked the sound of, and we got in line, and split up with the rest of the group who all mostly went back to the start of the line. And we waited and waited and waited as they fought over the one and only pair of sunglasses we had. Finally we were up and I ordered 3 different things because I knew we'd never be able to wait in another line at another truck. This would have to be our only order! Luckily the food was great and HUGE.
Friend reunion at the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo
Early in the morning we were awake and ready to go! Ready to hit the airport and get on our way to North Carolina! Wow, Parker and Drew look completely homeless in these pictures:
We had a 2 hour flight to Charlotte, which was an eternity to Parker and he kept incessantly asking if we were there yet and it was SOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOOONG. They played iPad as much as they could, and I played Bejeweled on my phone. After we landed we had a decent layover which enabled us to have time for a nice lunch. I had carnitas tacos from Tequileria in the atrium, and it was quite good! We got Burger King for the boys (with chicken fries, of course) and they were kept happy with that. Afterwards, we caught our short 21 minute flight to Greensboro!
We arrived on a beautiful & warm afternoon, and took in all the pretty sights, most notably that they have leaves on the trees!! It was such a sight for sore eyes. We haven't seen leaves since last October. Just beautiful.
We found the perfect USA map at Beth Schmidt park to illustrate our journey:
We flew from NH to NC
We had a good time at the playground and let the boys blow off some steam, and then we went to Cookout for our first meal and had a huge blowout $42 Cookout supper! I was dying for a Cookout style burger with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard. Drew had chicken tenders which he said were "delicious" which is saying a lot for him. Must have been those big ranch cups!
Parker of course had been talking about the milkshakes pretty much ever since we landed, and he let us know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that he wanted a milkshake. He chose peanut butter for his flavor today. I had banana pudding.
The day wrapped up with a fancy bath in a fancy tub. They love this, and apparently still not too old to bathe together.
The fun continues during April Vacation week...... On Wednesday we headed down to Billerica, MA (a 1 hour drive) to meet up with Dave at the Cheesecake Factory at 11:30. He works about 15 minutes away, so it's easy for him to head over and have lunch with us there.
Dave and I have eaten at the Cheesecake Factory before, in a previous lifetime. I swear we can't even remember when it was, but it would have to be a minimum of 10 years ago. We barely remember it. What we DID remember is that Dave got this GIGANTIC grilled cheese sandwich which was unbelievable in size. It is no longer on the menu, to his chagrin.
We had a nice meal, and Dave got a big "glamburger", Drew had pizza, and Parker ordered pasta off the kids' menu with alfredo sauce which was the weirdest request ever because that's just not something he would normally want. I didn't think he would like it, and I was right. Although it was plain, it was pretty good.
I had no idea what to order, because the menu is like a catalog, and everything sounds so good. I ended up choosing something completely arbitrarily because I couldn't decide, and ordered CHICKEN BELLAGIO: Crispy Coated Chicken Breast over Basil Pasta and Parmesan Cream Sauce Topped with Prosciutto and Arugula Salad. It was delicious, but very salty.
Cheesecake Factory, Burlington MA
So after saying goodbye to Dad to return to work, we headed back up north home, and conveniently on the way was a new trampoline park that I wanted to visit that recently opened in Nashua. Originally I wasn't going to travel that far, but since we were already in MA it made since to stop on the way back home. It was fun! It was also very crowded, since it was April vacation week, but Drew and Parker were so excited and had a really fun time. We'd definitely go back again.
Day 4 started out with a trip to the Mall of New Hampshire, and a first visit to Build a Bear Workshop. With both Parker and Drew loving stuffed animals, we decided to treat them to their first Build a Bear so they can experience choosing a new lovey from start to finish. Drew immediately knew he wanted the little golden retriever dog, and Parker quickly gravitated toward the hulk bear (because it had built in muscles), but he also wavered between a couple of different ones before firmly deciding on Hulk.
They loved the process of stuffing, fluffing, naming, and choosing outfits for them. Although Parker didn't end up wanting any accessories for his Hulk, Drew found the perfect cowboy hat for his dog.
Packed in their houses, the new stuffed animals were ready to roll:
From the Mall, we drove straight over to Cactus Jack's, where we were meeting Dad for lunch. This week they offered Kids Eat Free, so we knew we wanted to take advantage of that! We had a great lunch and everybody got something that they wanted. Drew ordered chicken fingers, and I was glad to see that little bit of expansion (he usually gets a burger).
Cactus Jack's Chipotle Chicken Tacos
A little later that afternoon we went bowling at King's Lanes in Goffstown, which is something they always want to do. Parker was in a really foul mood, and hated everything. He was listed 2nd in the game, and that infuriated him because he wasn't first. I had to listen to him complaining about how much he hated bowling for 2 whole games.
On Monday, Dave took the day off, and so he took the kids hiking at Mt. Uncanoonuc here in Goffstown. It's a great hike for the kids, closeby, and generally they enjoy it. Dave takes them to the convenience store on the way and lets them pick out a special snack that they get to eat at the top, and that's pretty much all the motivation they need. Will hike a mountain for Doritos and Cheetos!
While they were gone for a couple of hours, I worked on my mulch outside in the yard, and planting flowers and stuff. Spring is here! So nice to be outside and watching things coming back to life after the horrible, horrible winter.
Cheetos, Don't Care.....
The kids were already tired from their hike, but after supper and their video game time (which is from 5:30-7:00 each evening and is the most cherished time of day for them), Dave took them swimming at the YMCA. They enjoy going later at night because there's not many people there, and in fact, Parker ran into his friend Noah, so they spent an extra long time there that night playing, and they didn't get home until the pool closed at 9:30!! Which is really late for them. They are normally in bed by 8:30. So they came home completely wound up and excited and it was hard to get them mellowed out for bed. They were fried the next day from staying up so late.
On Sunday I had this fairly lame photo assignment from The Hippo that took me to Benson's Park in Hudson to photograph dogs. I don't even know why I agreed to do it because it's never worth the stress involved, and certainly not worth the drive down to Hudson and back. So anyway, I managed to redeem the situation a bit by taking a few photos of Drew and Parker which I do so rarely now, and it makes me sad. Still, we had fun and got a few good photos of them.
Afterwards, we went to lunch at Burger King where we got "Chicken Fries" because Parker is still obsessed with them.
And after that I took them to the big Goodwill store in Hudson and we found a few nice things. It's a great store, and one that I had not been to yet because it's so far away, so I took advantage of being in the neighborhood to check it out.
I had a trip planned to Boston's North End with some friends, but things kind of fell through and I refused to let the opportunity pass, since I had already had plans to go. So Dave offered for him and the kids to come with me and make it a family trip, which I thought was great because it's generally more fun to have company, and I always love any chance for Parker and Drew to travel and experience new places.
So we headed out, and drove 1 hour down to Wellington Station so that we could catch the T into the city. On the drive down I made 12:00 reservations for The Union Oyster House for lunch, via Open Table, in case there was a line. I knew Dave would have an aneurysm if he had to wait for any length of time, so I thought a reservation would keep the peace. The kids were very excited about the train! It took us a few minutes to figure out the machines that sold the tickets, the "Charlie Tickets." We must have looked like country come to town, the way we could not figure out what we were supposed to do, or even how to stick the ticket into the turnstile and pass through. Hilarious.
It was only a few stops down the Orange Line before we arrived at Haymarket station. As soon as we emerged, we ran smack into the Faneuil Farmer's Market which was huge and took up the whole block. We found our way over to Faneuil Hall and had a look around since we had an hour to kill before our lunch reservation. I loved the old building, so full of history. The upstairs was open so we we went up to the Great Hall which had a grand feeling of historic significance.
Then we watched a street performer for a while and then headed over to our lunch reservation at the Union Oyster House, which is known for being the oldest restaurant in America, functioning continuously as a restaurant since 1826 (but built well before that). We were seated on the 2nd floor, and it was very dark and small inside, with high-backed dark wooden booths, very tight seating as you would imagine people were smaller 200 years ago. They gave the kids these wonderful coloring books which I would have loved to take with us but we didn't have any way of carrying anything.
The food was good, starting out with a slice of cornbread for everyone. Parker was half dead with hunger, so it was a good pick-me-up. Dave and I had the fish & chips which we liked (very poor lighting for photos!), and the kids had chicken fingers and a hot dog. I loved the ambiance of the restaurant and I would have liked to look around more. Perhaps I will go back some day!
After our lunch, we headed down the street further into the North End which is what I really wanted to explore. It's actually such a small area that is easily covered on foot, winding through old cobblestone streets with pretty much wall to wall Italian restaurants. Pizza, pasta, bread, and bakeries beyond your wildest dreams. Although Mike's Pastry is the overwhelming winner of the fame & popularity contest, I had read great things about Modern Pastry (just a few doors down on the other side of the street) so that's where I went. I still waited in line about 20 minutes but it wasn't bad at all, and in fact I needed that much time to decide what I wanted to get! I ended up with a Lobster Tail, which was SO HUGE and only $5.00. Also I got a cannoli which has never been my favorite but I thought maybe I just had never had a good one, and this would convert me. I'm not a big fan of crunchy pastries, so I think it's a texture thing that gets me. I love soft cake and icing, etc. :) I got it filled with vanilla custard, but I'm thinking I should have gotten the traditional ricotta filling (since they fill each one upon order, you get to choose what kind of filling you want). Additionally I got a slice of carrot cake and a Boston Cream Pie cupcake for Dave and the kids who were busting to leave by this time. They were tired of walking around....... I knew my time in Boston would be limited by these chuckleheads, so I'm glad I got as much time out of them as I did. I know it's a lot of walking for little legs, and probably (to them) nothing at all interesting to do or see.
One way the kids kept themselves entertained was by taking pictures..... we had given them our very old little Canon point & shoot camera to play with, and they took turns documenting everything as they saw it. It was pretty cool to download the card and see what they had been looking at and thinking about. For Parker, it was pretty much motorcycles! Lots of silly faces, and blurry shots made up their day's work. We tried to explain to them that you can't take a picture while you're walking, or by shooting your arms forward as you press the shutter, but it never sank in. I think with practice they'll learn to appreciate an in-focus photo. :) Like their momma, I had to repeatedly remind them to
1. look up while you're walking and not run into people
2. don't take photos while you're walking down stairs.