Tot Stop turned out to be a big success as a fun place to visit for our three year old Anthony. Anthony visited there once on the recommendation of Steve and Eva Tsai... their recommendations are alway sooo good.
What is Tot Stop? It's a play area for toddlers. It has a large sand box play area, a large barn of two stories high with a slide, play cars that they can peddle around in, and lots of other play areas. Anthony loved it.
Where is it? The Tot Stop is on Foster Street, about 1/2 block north of Mass Avenue in Arlington, Ma. Free parking is available off Tufts Street in the back. How much is it? Tot Stop charges $5.95 per toddler. Adults who supervise are no charge... we brought 4 adults to supervise Anthony on one visit and 3 adults on another trip. Arlington residents pay a bit less.
So for a fun afternoon with your toddler, we recommend the Tot Stop
Dinner at Bev Pickering's
Over the Christmas holidays, Bev Pickering invited the Baus to her home for dinner and music. Bev used to be the piano teacher for both David and Kevin when they were young and in junior high school.
The evening started off with Bev sharing some of the music she was scheduled to play at the 10 am church service the next morning. Then Grace Lee picked up her violin and Bev and Grace performed several duets. Huray!
Dinner was served and boy were we treated. Ham, salad, potatos, asparagus with mushrooms, flan with rocofort cheese pie, sour dough bread, apple pie with ice cream... and lots more. Yummy.
After dinner we were treated to more duets and good conversation. With Anthony and Piper along and a long day behind us, we called it an evening at 9 pm and returned to get to bed. What a nice treat. There's always good music at Bev's home.... and good food too.
There is one piece of bad news. Rumor has it that Tot Stop, after many years of successful operation will be closing within six months. So if you have a toddler and want to experience it, better hop on over.
Pio Pio in Spanish is the sound that a chicken makes... in English it would be Cluck Cluck. It is also the name of the Peruvian restaurant that Paul and Kevin had dinner at in early January. There are three Pio Pio restaurants in the NYC area. The one we tried is in the same block on the Upper Eastside where Kevin lives..it's address is 1746 First Avenue. Tel:(212)426-5800.
If one uses their "take out" menu, the cost of the meal is about 10% cheaper than eating in. It's a really, really small restaurant, and we thought that we could have dinner for 2 for under $20.00. We knew that the chicken would be good(as the Peruvians are excellent at preparing chicken) and expected to have chicken and a couple of side dishes. When we got our table, after a 30 minute wait, we ordered a Matador Combo(for two people) which was $28.00. It included, a whole chicken, a beautiful salad, a plate of rice and beans, Salchipapas, and Tostones. This was way too mch food for the two of us, so we took home 1/2 a chicken and some tostones. But most important, each and every dish was very tasty and well prepared and presented.
To make the meal even more like the ones we enjoyed in Lima, we ordered Inca Cola and ice water to drink. The cost with tax and tip was a bit over $40.00 for the two eaters. Well worth the money, and remember, you can get by with half this price if you order more carefully. Try it and enjoy yourself.
Grandpa. I'm Thirsty.
It's Saturday morning and time for Paul to go to the airport to pick up David who is returning from his monthly trip to the West Coast. Anthony has already had his big breakfast and wants to go for a ride and to greet his Daddy.
Now Grandpa is pretty up on Anthony's needs(and he should be after all these months of training}, so he take him to the toilet before the trip and then brings him to the kitchen for a drink.
"Anthony, take a big drink of your orange juice. I don't want you to be thirsty on the trip. I don't want you telling Grandpa, that you are thirsty.", admonishes Grandpa.
Anthony gives Grandpa his innocent look(like what are you talking about. Me?). He takes several long sips and a couple of gulps from his straw. He looks content and ready to go.
They arrives at Philadelphia International Airport a few minutes early and hunt for the arrivals terminal for ATA airlines. There sitting and reading something is David... his plane must have come in a couple of minutes early. David throws his luggage in the back of the station wagon and climbs into the back seat to sit and chat with Anthony.
About half way home... a little voice comes from back in the wagon.
"Grandpa, I'm thirsty. I need a drink.", says Little Boy
"But Anthony, Grandpa just gave you a drink at home and told you not to say that you are thirsty anymore." answers Grandpa Paul.
"Grandpa, I'm thirsty. Why are you drivig so slow. Drive faster please."
Paul smiles and continues to drive homeward. Five minutes later, a little voice comes from the back seat...
"Grandpa, I'm thirsty. Can you drive faster. I'm really thirsty now."
Yup! That's our Anthony.
Kevin Accepts Banking Position
Out of work since late October, Kevin has been working hard to find a suitable job. Well, in January, he decided to accept a position with the investment bank J.P. Morgan Chase Bank... a firm is he quite familiar with. Remember, Kevin worked a couple of years for J.P.Morgan just before he quit to go to Columbia School of Business for his MBA.
His new job is located at 47th and Park Avenue in Manhattan, so now Kevin is looking for an apartment that will be convenient for him to get to work. Ooh! The rents in the Big Apple are so, so expensive.
"How about an inexpensive studio in Brooklyn Heights like you used to have for under $1000.00/month?", asks Dad
"I am tired of living in a sardine can!", responds Kevin,"It's time for me to have a one bedroom apartment with a bit more space."
At the writing of this article, it looks like Kevin found a nice place on 48thth Street between 3rd Avenue and Lexington.
KeySpan Heating Service
There's no heat on the bedroom side of the Weston house. This has been an random problem for years, and we have had a service contract with Boston Gas, who bacame Servie Edge, who became KeySpan. There certainly has been a lot of reorganizations, mergers and name changes over the last few years.
As of mid December, we've had two service teams working on restoring heat to the 2nd zone of the house. Paul is determined to have them fix it this time. Why pay for a service contract and then have to go to a private 2nd company to make the repairs?!
Rachel is tired of sleeping in a cold bedroom. Who can blame her for that?
As of this writing, just before Christmas, the 2nd zone heating has not yet been restored. The Customer Service Department has tried to delay a service call until a couple of days after Christmas, but Paul wants service now... his contract is about to expire at the end of the year and the system has not been properly repaired.
Maybe it's time to consider a new heating system?!
Well, on Christmas Eve, Steve from KeySpan shows up. Paul has been at home waiting from 8 am to 2 pm so as not to miss the serviceman. Keystone, like many services give the customer a "time window" rather than a specific time... so it ties the customer's whole day down. By 5 pm, the serviceman had still not appeared, but the Customer Service department on the phone, promised..."He's on his way. Just be patient and he'll be there."
Steve, the 5th service technician to make a call in the past 10 days, seems to be know much more than the others as he pulls the thermostat apart and starts to test relays and wires in the basement. After about 1 1/2 hours he concludes, "The problem is the zone head. It should put out a signal and nothing is coming out. The zone head should be replaced. I don't have one in the truck and we'll have to order you one. Either I or someone else will replace it next week."
The Chu's of Toronto
Over the Christmas vacation we got a treat... Rachel's cousins from Toronto, Vincent and Alice Chu were in town. They had come to Boston to visit with the son, Eric who has completed his medical resdiency in internal medicine and is now on a fellowshop program at Harvard for pulmonary medicine and ICU. this fellowship and research program should last about 4 years.
Paul and Rachel treated everyone to a lunch at the Best Kitchen on Beech Street in Boston's Chinatown. Then they shopped for groceries and rushed home to prepare dinner.
The Chu's all came for dinner in Weston and we had a nice long visit getting caught up on family news and the latest happenings. It was a fun evening.
The Chinatown Seafood Restaurant of Brookline is located at 1304 Beason Street, just off the corner of Harvard Street in the Coolidge Corner area of Brookline. We attended a dinner there with 20 other guests. The dinner reservation was set up by the Baus at the recommendation of Eugene Mahr.
Eugene was enthusiastic saying that the prices were moderate to cheap, the portions generous and the quality very good. On top of this, the decor was clean and fresh... they might even have table clothes on the tables?!
A table for 10 was $188.00 and most of the dishes were seafood. Everyone enjoyed their meals and there were lots of left overs. A great place for entertaining large groups and without worry of breaking the bank. Thank you Eugene.
Lord of the Rings
This movie based on the popular novel got rave reviews and a Yahoo rating of 4 1/2 stars out of 5... about the highest one can get. It's a 3 hour movie full of special effects, beautiful scenery, and big imagination.
This fantasy movie had a nephew inherit the magic ring from his uncle. The one who owns the ring can control the world. The evil one learns that Fordo(the nephew) has the ring and sends many Orgs and Night Riders to find him, kill him and get the ring.
Rachel found the movie boring. Paul found it very exciting and worth seeing. So one can see, the viewers tastes will vary as much as the enjoyment of this picture.
Piper Sits and Plays
At 4 1/2 months of age, Piper can now sit up and play with her toys by herself. She can do this for about en minutes before she looses balance and falls over...ka plunk!<->
Her nanny, Marlene will set up a blanket on the living room floor and surround it with pillows to give extra security to little Catherine Piper.<->
Piper tends to go for the toys that have color or make noise. She rattle the noise makers and for any stuffed animal... look out! Piper will eat the animal. Everything she can lift goes into her mouth. She very oral and will put anything in her mouth and will probably be a big talker.
When Anthony sees his baby sister on the floor he jumps to join her. Then all of a sudden, he wants her toys. "Those are baby toys Anthony. Are you a baby?", asks Grandpa.
"No, I just want to play with Piper. I want to touch her.",replies Little Boy.
Remember that Paul got a "free" energy audit from his local electricity provider, the NStar company in November of 2001? At that time, NStar gave him $700 in free evergy efficient light bulbs, lots of good advice, and an audit on a few major appliances with revate incentives to change the refrigerator. They told him that by the change of light bulbs alone, he should save $1000 or more on his electricity bills each year.
In January, the electricity bill dropped $45 over the previous month. Hurrah! Also, in January, Paul receieved a rebate incentive check for $500.00 for the new refrigerator he had delivered in December.
Think about an energy audit on your home. It has really worked out great for the Baus of Weston.
Joe's Shanghai Midtown
A year ago, we wrote up a positive review on Joe's Shanghai in NYC's Chinatown. This past week, we tried Joe's Shanghai in Midtown at 24 W 56th Street.
The menu is very similar, the prices a bit higher, and the ambiance very much nicer... bright, not crowded in seating, table clothes and cloth mapkins. The Shiu Lung Bao were the item we always order. The were very good. Kevin thougnt the "skins were a bit thicker" and "the juice not as pleniful", as the bao in Chinatown. The Lion's Head ( pork meat balls and baby Bok Tsoy) were delicious. Kevin said,"the meat balls are not as tender as those in Chinatown"
Paul really liked the atmosphere... roomy and clean and table clothes, tec.
"If you had a friend to treat to dinner, which Joe's Shanghai would you treat them too?", asked Paul.
"Definately the one in Chinatown.", answered Kevin, "It has more atmosphere and the food is better. The food is the most important thing."
Paul would prefer the Midtown restaurant. It's all a matter of taste. The are both very good buys and a fun evening too.