We’ve lived here for over 9 years now, and lately we’ve been feeling like we’re running out of new things to do. Things are starting to seem kind of “old hat” around here, so we’re particularly on the lookout for something we haven’t done before, and a place we haven’t visited. Last weekend, we found one: the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA.
Apparently, Mr. Higgins was a wealthy industrialist in Worcester around the turn of the last century. He had a passion for armor and armaments (like all the males in this particular household), and started a collection. Eventually, his wife got fed up and made him build a museum for them so that the suits of armor would stop clogging up her living room. It’s now the only museum in the western hemisphere that is dedicated solely to the obsession of the aforementioned males in our house – KNIGHTS!
The museum was actually pretty interesting. They had a nice area for kids that was hands-on: games, educational displays, armor that you could handle and try on. A full suit of armor was extremely heavy! I can’t imagine wearing it in the heat of the summer. You’d have to keep hydrated, that’s for sure! But no pockets to stash your water bottle in… I guess your squire would carry the gallons of water you would need to keep from passing out.
Anyway, there were two other floors full of knights and knight-related stuff, including a section on Asian “knights”, like Samurai and what-not. It was all very interesting, and Aaron went all over having pretend sword-fights with imaginary foes.
I didn’t take many pictures (only had my phone camera), but this one gives you an idea of the scale of the building – it was very impressive!
I would definitely recommend the museum, but try to get a pass from the library if you can. Our local library had passes for 1/2 off admission, and it was still pricey. Next year they are reportedly moving, as the massive building they are in is too expensive to maintain. The collection is going to be incorporated into the Worcester Art Museum. So if you want to see it in it’s original state and location, get there before the end of the year!
Another sign of impending Spring – the sap is running and the sugar shacks are open for business! Each year we go to the North Hadley Sugar Shack to have a look at their maple syrup operation and explore their great playground while waiting (sometimes for over an hour!) for a delicious breakfast smothering is fresh maple syrup! This year, it was a little bit chilly – more snow on the ground than in years past, and a biting wind. But we didn’t let it deter us!
We were told the wait would be 45 minutes, so we stopped in at the boiling room and saw their brand-new boiler. It was shiny and computerized, and harder to see into, but still cool. And they still had freshly poured maple syrup samples to taste. Yum! Here is the boiling house:
Then we headed outside into the chill to wait for our table. Most of the playground was inaccessible due to snow, but we found ways to occupy ourselves anyway!
Lucky for us, that 45 minute wait ended up being only 15 minutes (the shortest we’ve ever had to wait). Note to self – choose a cold, blustery morning next year. We had a fantastic breakfast – buttermilk pancakes, maple smoked bacon, eggs over-easy. All smothered in delicious maple syrup. I think sugar shack season may be the only reason to visit New England in March.
Learning to ride a two-wheeler is one of those childhood moments that you remember, especially when you’re teaching your own children to ride a bike. Last summer/fall, Aaron tried to ride without training wheels, and gave up fairly quickly after taking a bad spill. After that, he assured me that he would be riding a bike with training wheels for the rest of his life.
Today, we forced the issue a bit. We told him the training wheel bike was staying in the cellar, and we were going to Child’s Park to ride his two-wheeler. This is the same place we took Jake when he was just as reticent about taking the leap to two wheels. It’s a quiet park with a lot of open, grassy space, and a slight hill. We started out on the grassy slope with me and Nate running behind him. When he spilled off, he landed on the soft Spring earth and was non the worse for it. Within a few minutes, I was running beside him rather than behind, and within a few minutes more, I was running far behind, huffing and puffing trying to keep up.
He ended up on the sidewalk, racing along beside his dad and siblings. He didn’t want to stop when it was time to go, even though the rest of us were thirsty and tired!
A lovely time was had by all. I reminisced with the kids about my own experience learning to ride a bike, and lamented the fact that this is the last time we’ll teach someone the exhilaration of speeding along with the wind in your hair and a smile on your face.
Aaron’s parting words as we were making our way back to the car: “I glad I have parents that are so encouraging.” You’re welcome, son!
What is it about kids and rolling down hills? I remember rolling as a kid. There was a great hill for rolling at Codornices Park in Berkeley where I spent many a childhood afternoon. Now that the weather is turning more spring-like, we’ve been out and about outdoors more often. The kids all decided to have a good hill-roll on a recent walk. They ended up rather muddy and a little dizzy, but we were told is was worth it!
Happy Easter, all! We celebrate Easter in a secular way – it’s pretty much all about the bunny. Even though four out of the five of us are “in the know” about the true identity of said bunny, we put on a good show for Aaron. It was a very nice morning – the weather was mild, we explored our Easter baskets, had our egg hunt, and then pretty much just hung around all day eating chocolate and doing nothing in particular. It was nice.
The baskets right before we tore into them.
We started a fire to take the chill off while we waiting for Grandma to arrive for the egg hunt.
The very last egg is the hardest one to find!!
There it is! Sneaky bunny!