I get asked to review a lot of things and I honestly pass on most of them. For me to take on a review I have to feel that the odds are pretty good the thing will be useful and/or awesome.
When Crudite Creations reached out, it was an easy sell because, well, this is what they make:
No, those aren’t flowers. They’re veggies. For me the only question was: would the actual delivery live up to the picture?
Move over, fruit arrangements, towers of cupcakes, artfully arranged candies. I fell for this concept hook, line, and sinker. The natural beautiful colors of veggies, a healthy and refreshing snack for your party, and a huge step up from the tray of veggie sticks that’s obligatory at so many gatherings.
So how did my delivery go? There was no way I could take on this tower myself so I had it brought to work where I shared in the bounty with my co-workers. The response when it came in the room? Awe.
Not only did it look gorgeous (those lilies? leeks with baby corns in the middle) but it also came with two dips: hummus and onion. They were obviously freshly made. The hummus was the perfect amount of lemony, light and smooth. The onion dip… well, I was really tempted to just eat it with a spoon and skip the veggies all together. It was AMAZING.
Fresh, local ingredients. A local business based in Newton. Boston friends: this is a must for your future baby showers, wedding showers, company parties, etc. Pricing is similar to what you’d get for a fruit arrangement, but you’ll be supporting a local business, local foods, and healthy delicious eating by going with Crudite Creations instead.
Graham turned 5 this week and my present to him was taking him to his first Red Sox game. Though technically I took him to Futures at Fenway which is not actually a Red Sox game but a farm team game. But they wore white and red so Graham was all good. I won’t be able to get away with this kind of stuff much longer.
He was so. happy. A couple little whines here and there, but overall it was one of the longest periods I’ve seen him where he stayed in a happy place. He is, of course, still himself so he was often serious and asked approximately one million questions.
I was planning to head out before the game was over, assuming he wouldn’t last, but he did. And he set his heart on staying for the movie after the show. I assured him it was a grown-up movie and that he may not like it. He wanted to stay anyway. Graham has never watched a live-action movie from start to finish. Even a short live-action tv show must involve trains or cars for him to get into it. But he watched ALL of Field of Dreams, all of it. He still asked approximately one million questions, but he watched it and was happy and declared it his favorite movie ever.
I am glad we had that day, just the two of us, and that I finally have my camera out again (I lost my charger and it took me ages to get a new one) because it was a joy to capture it. I am not the kind of person who gets schmaltzy about perfect days, but this was about as close as they come.
Also: who is this tall and spindly boy? He is going to shoot up before I know it. And I’m sorry, but this kid is just so beautiful I can hardly stand it.
When my friend Kirk asked if I wanted to go out in a kayak on the Charles River for the fireworks on the 4th, my initial instinct was to say no. More specifically something along the lines of Hell, no.
It was a reflex. I haven’t celebrated holidays for years. And holidays involving big crowds and late nights are generally something I avoid. If it sounds exhausting I’m usually not up for it.
But instead I said yes. Because, well, why not? I didn’t have the kids that day and I figured I might as well go for it when I no longer had them as an excuse.
Thanks to inclement weather, the fireworks on the 4th got moved to the 3rd and our leisurely outing became a bit more hectic, with both of us scrambling to get there after work and not having the time we expected to prep. But we had an anchor, we had a couple snacks, and they gave us everything else we’d need when we got there.
So off we went. Kayaking down the Charles.
I admit, one of the things that held me back is that I am not a particularly athletic person. I think I did much better than I normally would have done since I’ve had to lug around a certain 2-year-old who’s decided she must be carried everywhere for the last couple months. I did okay. I took plenty of breaks. And WOW it was a long trip. From all the way out in Brighton to the middle of the city.
A visual aid, if you will.
For those of you who like to be precise about these things, the distance from start to finish is approximately 70 bajillion miles. Very, very windy miles.
But despite my tired arms, it was delightful. A different way to look at the city. And I was glad I was doing it now, just having passed my 4th anniversary as a Bostonian, when I could look on the city with grateful and loving eyes.
We arrived pretty early. Not many kayaks were around, but there were sailboats everywhere, terrifying me since they seemed to have no clear idea which direction they were going. We dropped anchor on the opposite side of the lake from the fireworks set up where the sailboats were less plentiful. We chatted and passed the time waiting for the sun to go down. It was lovely. Not too hot, though it was too windy because this is Boston so of course.
When we were out on our kayak I thought back to all my previous fireworks outings. And there honestly aren’t that many as an adult. Watching the fireworks over Town Lake in Austin with my summer boyfriend (and Allison) when I was 18. Watching the fireworks over Lake Tahoe with my on-again-off-again semi-boyfriend when I was in law school. Watching the fireworks over yet another lake with yet another boyfriend in my mid-20′s. And I’m pretty sure that was it. Which means it’s been nearly a decade. And that my experience of fireworks mostly involved boys and bodies of water and I didn’t have anything particularly memorable. I hadn’t even spent much time remembering those previous firew0rks-watching escapades. Sometimes you have to do something to remember what it’s like, how you’ve done it, how it fits into your history, how it makes you feel. Skipping the 4th for so many years meant I’d forgotten so much of that.
I was deeply happy to be out there, having the freedom to do something I wouldn’t normally do, something that would’ve been nearly unthinkable just a couple years ago.
I started hatching plans while I was there to stop avoiding these big festivities and just finding a way to do them that works for me. I thought maybe next year I’d get a room at the Liberty or the Sheraton and bring the kids and watch the fireworks from our room together.
It got dark, we watched the big boats come in and get settled, we got kudos from the State Police and the FBI for our impressive anchor (the cop presence was well done on the water) the Boston Pops began to play, a group claiming to be the Beach Boys sang three entire songs, (though I was unable to see who they were and they sounded suspiciously un-Beach-Boys-like, so I sat there wondering which bastardized re-birth of the Beach Boys this was, the one with Mike Love, or the one with the other guy who I don’t think was actually an original Beach Boy, and of course I regaled Kirk with my vast knowledge of Beach Boys history) and then the show finally started.
I didn’t take pictures.
Because pictures of fireworks do not do them justice. They can’t recreate the sparkles, the sounds, or the smell of the smoke, or the bang that you feel in your bones. I realized how long its been since I’ve seen a fireworks show, or a really good one, and saw kinds of fireworks I’ve never seen. Stars, smiley faces, one that kind of looks like Saturn that gets this amazing circle of sparkles after a ring of color.
It was amazing. It was incredible. It made me smile. I remembered that when I see fireworks that sometimes I just can’t help gasping or saying “Oooooo” out loud without meaning to.
It was something you really should do, especially if you delight in the fact that the water wasn’t crowded and you didn’t have to deal with the masses of people one normally does at these events.
The other bonus: you don’t have to wander through the busy streets and subway tunnels.
Well, you usually don’t.
About 15 minutes post-show, when we’d pulled up our anchor, got our lights ready, picked up our paddles and began our long trek back to Brighton, my inner monologue went something like this:
Brighton is SO FAR. I know I’ve had like 4 hours of rest, but that 70 bajillion miles is really going to take some effort.
Didn’t we row into the wind on the way here? How are we rowing into the wind AGAIN on the way back? And wow, they must be getting a great fireworks show over in Newton or wherever that is. Because those are some bright lights flashing off the clouds.
My arms are already getting crampy. This is going to be sooooooo loooooooong.
We haven’t even hit the first bridge yet. And my recollection is there are many many many bridges. So many bridges. Seriously, Newton, kudos on the fireworks. I mean, that is definitely fireworks. So much light, so regular, it’s definitely fireworks.
Still, at least we have a pretty clear route ahead. I finally see other kayaks and canoes. They’re all ahead of us since they didn’t go all the way to the opposite end of the river like we did, but they’re out here, too. And many of them are probably wusses like me. We’re in it together. Even if they’re all in front of us. The water is so choppy, thanks to all those big boats with motors getting out of here. I keep getting splashed. It’s making it even harder to row. Ow, my arms. Maybe I should rest for a minute.
So many people still on that bridge and on the streets.
Do I hear screaming? I definitely hear screaming. Lots of people screaming. WHY ARE PEOPLE SCREAMING? I didn’t hear gunshots, I didn’t hear a bomb, what is happening? Why are they screaming?
Oh. Oh crap. Oh oh oh oh crap. That wasn’t fireworks. It’s lightning. And they are screaming because they just got hit with rain. Rain that sounds like it’ll be here any second. Rain that sounds like it will be really really hard.
And here it is.
I yell for Kirk to get out the rain jackets, but it’s too late. By the time he passes me one we’re already soaked through. It is that rain that comes down so hard it hurts.
And if you’re lucky enough to have only experienced that kind of rain while on dry land, let me explain how it works when you’re in a little kayak on a big river. First it hurts. Then you realize you cannot see. You literally cannot see. All I could see was our boat occasionally and sometimes a glimpse of just how big the waves were right next to us.
We tried to paddle and for a minute or two we went nowhere. And I thought, While it’s a really good thing we read all the safety information before we got on the kayak I’m really feeling underprepared for the current crisis. We finally got a slightly less horrific patch of rain and started to paddle to shore. Only to realize that shore on the Cambridge side nearest us wasn’t exactly somewhere we could dock. But then I spied a boathouse and we paddled over as quickly as we could.
Luckily for us, it was the MIT Boathouse and it was full of kids partying. Kids who were playing around in the rain and who were fortunately not drunk enough to respond to my calls for help and to assist us in getting the kayak out of the water.
We were drenched, to put it lightly. We called the kayak place and were told to wait it out.
And then the MIT grown-ups in charge of the place said that they were closing up and that even though the rain was letting up they couldn’t let us back out on the water due to the lightning.
So we said goodbye to our kayak, walked our wet, wet selves a couple blocks in to Cambridge where the roads weren’t blocked off, and uber’d it over to Brighton where Kirk’s car was and to give the kayak rental place our tale of woe. Some people had actually made it back, most of them spry looking guys in their 20′s. A few, like us, had abandoned ship.
It was a crazy, beautiful, wet, terrifying adventure. And it’s nice to know that you’ve set yourself a new record. That is, by far, my most memorable 4th of July.
You can’t live or work in the city of Boston without hearing a lot about Uber, the new car service you can order on your phone. We’re a city with a constant shortage of cabs and astronomical charges for parking, so Uber has become the big thing for getting around town. But there’s been one problem: what to do if you’re out with a group of your co-workers and you can’t fit in the back of a sedan? What if you’ve got family in town and don’t want to pay the expense of renting a giant car to get everybody around? Well now there is *drumroll* uberXL.
UberXL lets you request a car with seating for up to six; great when you’ve got visitors, a group of friends, or want to take the kids somewhere.
I tend to be a T-riding girl. But I also spend most of my time in the city alone, free to walk or take a train where I need to go. But every now and then a girl needs a ride. I finally took my first Uber while out on a date. We weren’t going too far, but it was raining and the task of finding a cab would probably wind up getting us soaked. My date was a frequent Uber rider, the kind of Uber evangelist you’ll find all over the city. And sure enough it was ridiculously easy to take shelter under an awning, request a car with the app, and then have them there to pick us up within minutes.
My luck with taxis and buses lately hasn’t been so good. I’ve called to request cabs and waited ages for them to show up. I’ve waited for a bus only for it not to show up on schedule and then be stuck waiting 45 minutes for the next one. Uber takes a lot of that pain out of city travel and lets you see on your phone how far away your car is, so none of that guessing I deal with on my bus app and don’t even get me started on cabs.
And I’ll be honest, as a person who has two car seats in the back of my car, I am not a good candidate to drive anyone anywhere even though I have a car. Which gets kind of tricky when friends or relatives visit. And I can’t in good conscience tell anyone to rent a car when they visit here. Have you seen the way we drive here? We are maniacs.
UberXL is perfect for those situations. It’s particularly ideal for people with babies, who can strap in their bucket seat, stick their stroller in the back, and be ready to go. And if you’ve got a child 5 and older, you can bring a no-back booster with you to make sure everybody’s safely strapped in. (The Bubble Bum Inflatable Booster Seat from Magic Beans is an especially good pick, since it inflates super fast and can then deflate and go into your bag when you get out of the car.)
So hey, take a trip to the beach without worrying about parking or the subway. Take the entire family to the airport without shlepping on the train or paying for “Economy” parking. Have a picnic on the Common. Take that trip to the Aquarium or the Children’s Museum where parking is such a headache you usually don’t go. Go shopping at the Pru or Copley and don’t worry about carting your bags all the way home. Feel free to have an extra Mimosa at brunch.
As a special bonus, you can get $30 off your first uberXL ride with code DontMindtheMess or by clicking this link.
Thanks to Uber for sponsoring this post and starting this great new service.
As Phyllis and I walked through the rain to pick up lunch, we talked about how putting on Listen To Your Mother Boston is kind of like planning a wedding. You put in all this time and effort, you pinch pennies and count costs, you know that while this is a hugely meaningful day for you that it’s really all about the people who will be coming to see it. And, of course, on the day of everything is a whirlwind and things go wrong and you’re excited and scared and when it’s over it’s finished and it was wonderful and everyone is happy.
While I was on stage watching our cast read their stories I thought about how putting on a Listen To Your Mother show is a lot like actually being a mother. My kids are their own people, they’re independent, and while I can do everything I can do keep them going ultimately they’re in charge of themselves. These stories from my cast are their stories not mine, but while I didn’t write them I feel the same kind of parental ownership of them. I feel the same kind of pride when I see them all stand up, fearless, lovely, perfect.
It was a busy weekend, obviously. Listen To Your Mother was a burst of emotion and beauty. It went better than I could’ve hoped. And the frenzy of excitement and energy helped a lot, because in the few quiet moments I had that morning I felt sad. I knew I wouldn’t have my people coming for me. I didn’t last year, either. And I had to power through that sadness because that’s not what this day is about and I had to focus on what was important. The stories, the connections, the community, that was what mattered. And luckily I was able to get through the day pretty damn well.
Huge thanks to those of you who came. I heard such wonderful things afterwards. And that matters. Because you spend months telling people, “It will be amazing,” but you secretly inside are worried about whether it will be amazing. At our after party, with the Bruins game playing (of course) and a surprising number of men in the room, I heard how much people enjoyed the show. Someone told me, “I loved it. I’ll come back next year and bring all my friends.” That was basically the perfect thing to say.
Thank you to our cast, most of whom are writers and not performers, who showed a lot of guts. And all of you shared stories that weren’t particularly easy to share. Thank you.
Thank you to Cheryl and Phyllis for making this easier than it should’ve been, especially during a pretty tumultuous time in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.
And thanks to all of you show-runners in all the cities who have been such an amazing support. People kept telling me, “That was such a smart idea!” and I’d admit that I hadn’t come up with it, that it was the many smart women who have done the show before and are doing it now who were such a great source of information and help.
It’s coming back next year. So get your stories ready.
And enjoy some of the lovely pictures shared by audience members and cast.
When the Blue Man Group in Boston invited us to come to a show, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. I’d never been to a Blue Man Group show before and I didn’t know how Graham would feel about it, but I figured the worst that could happen was we’d leave early and he’d still be happy we got to take the train to the show. (The Charles Playhouse is very close to the Tufts Medical Center stop on the Orange line and a short walk from the Boylston stop on the Green line.)
It turns out it wasn’t hard to get Graham excited. When walking around town we saw a big sign for the Blue Man Group on the back of a tourist trolley and I told Graham we would go to that show. He was pretty pumped after that and spent a good week talking about going to see the “blue guys.”
I learned pretty quickly that The Blue Man Group is an experience from the moment you walk in the door. The Charles Playhouse has been totally remodeled all around the BMG experience.
Inside there’s a wall of light and sound called the “Lounge-U-Lum” where kids can interact. No more standing around before the show listening to whining for snacks, instead they’re immediately engaged and curious and interested.
Inside the theater there are snacks and drinks for kids and grown-ups. Yes, you can get a beer. And yes, they have bags of goldfish for the kids. Though I’d recommend finishing your snacks before the show, since it’ll get pretty dark.
Once the show started, I admit, I worried a little bit. I knew BMG involved drumming but I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. The first 5 minutes of the show were loud and I started to worry that maybe the noise would be too much for my noise-averse kid. We did get some earplugs from the ushers (who are SUPER nice, the nicest and most helpful ushers I’ve ever encountered anywhere by a long shot) but after those first 5 minutes the noise wasn’t so loud that Graham had any problems.
After those first minutes, my fears abated. The show is great for kids. No intermission (I’ve found intermission is just an opportunity for kids to say, “Can we go home now?”) and not too long. The show is made up of several small pieces so the action is constantly changing and no one part gets boring. There’s interaction with sight and sound and then there’s plenty of audience interaction, too.
It’s a huge relief for me to go to a show with my kid that’s also fun for ME and not just for him. Yes, I love watching him enjoy things, but being able to enjoy myself is a big plus and a reason why I’d take Blue Man Group over a little-kid-geared-live-show any day. Jokes abounded, the show is really funny, and even if the humor is often over the kids’ heads, they’re still so excited to be a part of it that they don’t notice much. They’re also pretty excited to watch the adults be silly.
I cannot express to you how excited Graham was. This was not a show where people in the audience were expected to watch silently. The relaxed atmosphere made him very comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. He would yell out with glee to the point where I had to shush him a little. At one point, there was a rousing version of “Tequila” on the drums. So of course, at the end, all the adults in the crowd yelled, “Tequila!” The kids looked around in delighted confusion. Then someone in the back yelled, “Free Bird!” The adults laughed, the kids looked around in delighted confusion. Graham thought he had this figured out. We were taking turns yelling out words, so at this point he hollered, “School bus!” It was perhaps one of my proudest moments as a parent. His enthusiasm, his excitement, his willingness to jump in and be a part of it, it was thrilling for me.
If you ask Graham about the show, even though it’s been two weeks, he will happily tell you all about the very end where the giant balls bounced through the crowd. He had never seen anything like it before. I think he would’ve happily watched those giant balls bounce through the audience for hours.
So what do parents need to know for a family Blue Man Group Boston visit?
Pay attention to where you sit. The front rows of the theater require a poncho because you may get… well, not wet exactly but you’ll want that poncho. We sat in Section C which was perfect, right in the middle with a great view but not too close. The theater is nice and small so most seats are good seats, though if you sit in the balcony, you won’t get the full bouncing-giant-balls experience.
Kids 5 and up should be just fine at the performance even though it’s officially recommended for 7 and up. They have booster seats for smaller kids so they can see over big people’s heads.
If you have a noise-sensitive kid, consider bringing some headphones for them in case they need them.
There are jokes about butts. So, you know, do with that what you will.
After the show the guys in blue came out into the lobby for pictures. Don’t be surprised if your kid is a little scared to have a picture with them, even if they loved the show. Most of the littler kiddos kept their distance.
School Vacation Week is a great time to visit, with extra shows and extra events. (Oh, and free meals for kids at MJ O’Connor’s Park Plaza.)
I honestly never would’ve thought to bring a child to Blue Man Group, but it turned out to be one of Graham’s favorite events of all-time, and as the kid of a blogger he gets his fair share of cool stuff to do.
Blue Man Group only has 5 locations around the country, so if you’re visiting Boston it’s definitely something to put on your to-do list. If you live here and have friends or family visiting, it’s a nice break from your usual Duck Boats and walking tours. Tickets start at $49, but you can also find them at the BosTix booths for same-day sales or advance sales.