Friday, June 15, 2007

The Atlantic Shore

One of things we were most excited by when moving to Boston was the idea of being close to the water again! Peanut's papa & I are both water people so it was hard being land-locked in the heart of Texas.

Over the weekend, we made the 45 min drive out to Hampton Beach, NH, and cruised along Highway 1A to Portsmouth, NH.It was a wonderful feeling to dig my toes into the warm and course sands of Hampton Beach while papa and Peanut walked along the waterline. The beach was ideal for families - still fairly quiet, clean sand, easy access to parking (25 cents/10 minutes!) and a long lazy coastline. Behind the beach stood rows of houses and seashore restaurants, shops, etc. Lifeguards watched over the few brave swimmers.

After playing in the sun, we stopped at Little Jacks for lobster and steamers (steamed mussels). Peanut stayed away from the seafood calling the lobster a "monster" and focused on tucking in all the french fries she could grab.The Highway winds up the coast past mansions, State beaches, a retaining wall which is popular as a sunning alter and salty marshes on the inland side of the road.

Glimpses at a few harbors showed deep gorges that must be filled with the tides. We didn't see it come in, but it must be a sight to see the sea levels rise and fall by several feet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oh, give me a home.....

...any home, just a home, please!! We've been searching for our new house nearly non-stop since we arrived a month ago and I'm at the point of just saying 'Yes, yes, we'll take it whatever the price -- please just make the home tours stop."

House hunting can be a overwhelming process for anyone, but with a toddler and infant along as further opinion makers it can quickly wear down the most fervent home shoppers. Though Peanut and little Tex have been just as patient and spirited as you could ask. Peanut often asking in the mornings if she could "see houses with Mr. Tom" that day, and then exclaiming "nice yard" or "big house" when we pulled up to the next property. Tex -- well, most of the time he just slept as we carried him up and down staircases.

Going from the new housing developments of Texas to the older, wilder housing of New England has been a jolt. My punch list for homes has come to include such local particularities like:
  • lead paint - if the house was built before 1978 (or in the years shortly thereafter when builders and stores still were depleting their paint supplies), there's a good chance its there
  • mold - our inspector says 30 - 50% of homes here will have mold in the attic or basement. Some kinds can be re-mediated and your home certified "mold free".
  • septic systems - for houses not on public sewer (which btw limit the use of garbage disposals)
  • basements and sump pumps - basements are expected here. Some are finished (ie, just like upstairs living space), some half-finished (maybe have a floor and some wall panels) and others are just concrete
  • capes (see top photo), colonials (second photo), split-levels (third photo) and ranches - the main housing styles
  • well water - for houses not on the public water system
  • radon - a cancer-causing radioactive, invisible gas emitted by the granite in the ground. Radon tests are done for air and water. If high levels are found, you can install a radon mitigation system.
  • oil vs. propane vs. natural gas vs. forced air vs. electric heating - oh, the options! Electric is expensive, natural gas requires access to a city gas line, propane & oil are delivered to a special holding tank at your home and forced air is what I'm accustomed to. On the cooling front - most homes we saw don't have central A/C and rely on window units given....
  • 110 v. 220 circuit breakers - your home has at least 220
  • how to count parking spaces - many homes don't have attached garages or they just have one. A surprise considering the snowy winters when I'd imagine EVERYONE would want a garage. House listings describe parking by counting how many cars fit side-by-side in the driveway in front of the house or just offer off-street parking.
  • noise pollution - after the first few days out we learned to look up addresses on the map to check for proximity to major interstates, highways, railroad tracks and busy thoroughfares since older housing is not in subdivisions built away from traffic.

What's that steam-pipe-smokestack thing on a train called?

More than once in the past weeks I've found myself fumbling for a word when Peanut points to something in her Thomas the Train book or the pages in her Richard Scarry's Things That Go. Beyond the bulldozer and forklift, I'm clueless as to the differences among all those big, yellow machines. There's the cherry-picker, the dump truck, the trash truck, the thing that crushes rocks for roads, that other thing that paves roads and then there's the mysterious one with the long crane.

Thomas and pals have been her latest obsession and my train-related vocab is really not up to the test! Since most all of Peanut's toys ended up in storage instead of our temporary apartment, a friend was kind enough to loan us some of her son's Thomas Lego's and Thomas himself. Since he arrived, Peanut's barely let him out of her sight. He even has to come to bed with her in the evening.....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Shown around Boston by New Yorkers

Memorial Day weekend we headed into the city of Boston to take a tour as some friends from New York were in town.

We loved it! Boston is a very green, open and walkable city. The NYers compared as the "country-cousin" of the Big Apple.

The sidewalks even had enough space to roll with our Baby Truck comfortably. When Peanut was done sitting, she could easily walk along side us without getting trampled or underfoot of the others.

Though this being a big city, Baby Trucks were not the hot, hip strollers. Virtually every family rolled with a Bugaboo or Maclaren.

We walked up Newbury Street with its fashion boutiques and restaurants to the Boston Common. On through the Common by the Swan Boats and the Frog Pond before looping back.

The next day, we checked out a small part of Cambridge and had a lovely brunch outside the gates of Harvard University. Cambridge is a world unto itself with leafy boulevards and unique home fronts. The streets were filled with a younger crowd - though we certainly weren't the only ones with little ones along.