*It’s just 50 miles away and not technically ours.
Once again, we were spoiled by Grammy. Gorgeous pool, poolside lunch, two hours of quiet time for me while G napped, and a delicious dinner that ended with Hoodsies. Plus, we had some special guest stars, RyRy and Sean-O.
After hearing some nightmare mother-in-law stories from some of my friends, I consider myself even more lucky to have Grammy. She always goes all out to make sure we have a great time. Today, this was just what I needed. I’m about 75% strength, and it was so nice to be able to lie down for two hours midday and to have someone make me lunch and dinner.
Also, final one-on-one minute count: Hazel, 11 (!); George, 8. Not too shabby.
If you have any ideas for future adventures, please let me know in the comments section. Today, my friend Anna suggested we take the Downeaster to Maine (Upeaster?) for some ME time, and my friend Leslie, now a fellow stay-at-home in NH, suggested a beach day . Check and check.
Yep, you read that right. Today, we went to One World, a celebration of cultures from around the world, at the Christian Science Center. Today’s focus was Italy. I didn’t know much about Christian Science, but Wikipedia’s summary of the religion’s central text,”sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone,” has not converted me thus far. I’ll give them this, the CSS has THE best fountain.
From our time there today, here’s what I learned about Christian Science:
Post cultural experience, we explored some Chinese culture, in the form of tofu, bok choy, and juicy buns.
Last but not least, we went to our new favorite toy store, Michaels.
I don’t want to sugarcoat it, because based on these photos, all we did is frolic and delight in each other’s company. But, truth be told, there was one stretch in the car where I demanded some quiet time, blasted some Girls Chase Boys, and subtracted several minutes from each kid’s one-on-one time. Final tally: Hazy 7, George 4. That’s barely enough time for one read-through of Steam Train, Dream Train.
There was no post on Friday because Matty and I jetted (drove) to CT for our friend Laurie’s memorial birthday party and Viking funeral. It was an amazing celebration of an amazing woman. The highlight for me, besides seeing some of our old friends (yes, even you, Carter), was meeting Laurie’s good friend, Tom. Tom is an 84-year old ex-marine, and he and his lovely wife, Sue, met Laurie because Laurie used to walk her dogs past their porch, where they would sit and have coffee. Laurie was so friendly, she always waved and said hi, until one day they invited her to the porch to have coffee. The combined sweetness and friendliness of Laurie, Tom, and Sue, led to frequent porch dates, as well as regular breakfast dates for Laurie and Tom. He is hilarious and I believe Laurie brought us together.
In the meantime, Bert & Duke (aka, Hazy & George) managed not to terrorize Grammy that much. Thanks again, Grammy, for being a lifesaver. On Saturday, I thought it would be really cool to go to JP Porchfest. I was wrong. It turns out kids (and husbands) do not appreciate diverse music acts when it’s 90-something degrees out. We did enjoy a hot minute of jamming to Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys sing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
Sunday morning, we had a bit of a setback. I had the worst headache of my life, neck pain and lower back pain, and diagnosed myself with Spinal Meningitis, because I have a minor (Matty would say major) case of hypochondria. I ended up going to the ER, where the lady who admitted me wrote, “headache” as my issue. There’s nothing like going to the ER for “headache” to make you feel completely lame. Unfortunately (fortunately?), the doctor thought I wasn’t totally crazy and suggested doing a lumbar puncture, but said I could hold off to see if conditions improved. I opted to hold off (my fear of needles trumps my hypochondria, and I’d already suffered through an IV). As my friend Vikki’s husband said, “wow, being a stay-at-home mom must really be taking a toll on her!”
Today, I’m back to 50% power, so I took the kids to the library for story time in the morning. The “professional storyteller” was very good, and told a bunch of folk stories, mostly Haitian. My limited knowledge of Haiti is largely based on Clueless, “if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians.”
The kids both got a free book at story hour, and George was so excited about his, he couldn’t even wait until we got to the children’s room in the library to read it.
We took it easy in the afternoon. Hopefully, I’ll be back to normal tomorrow, because a 6 and 3 12 year old aren’t the best at taking it easy. They’re very talented with Magnatiles though!
I’ll be honest, we sometimes (okay, frequently) refer to our kids as “the turds”. As in, “What are we gonna feed the turds for dinner?”, or, “I need a break from the turds.” Sometimes even to their faces. They’re actually really good kids. They say please and thank you, they go to bed at 7:30 without any fuss, and Paris Syndrome excluded, they usually play really nicely together. But, they’re also stubborn (Hazy is a Taurus, born in the year of the Ox, for god’s sake), “spirited”, “energetic”, and all those other words people use to describe spazzy kids of a certain age. And of all the things I could call people who sometime wake me up 7 minutes before my alarm clock goes off, turd is actually the least offensive.
But yesterday, the turds made me proud.
First, we stopped by my office, which they’ve been dying to see, where they ate fruit, Swedish Fish, colored with Leslie’s highlighter collection, and did Vend-A-Friend, a project I worked on where you take a short quiz, get paired up with your perfect PJA friend-match, and get a little gift from the vending machine. Hazy got paired with Ken, our Director of Creative Services, which is convenient, because she’ll probably be an Art Director someday. Or probably just a Director, or whatever the profession is for people who are good at telling other people what to do.
Then, we wandered around Harvard Square to dole out some backpacks we had packed (not made, Hazel: “we didn’t sew them, Mama.”) for homeless people. They were filled with toiletries, snacks, and a nice note from Hazy. We had two for men and one for a woman, and as we drove to find a parking space, we saw someone who may or may not be a woman. I said I wasn’t sure if that was a lady, and Hazy said, “we could just ask, ‘Are you a lady?’.” So, needless to say, I was a little worried what the kids might say to the homeless people. But I shouldn’t have been. The great thing about kids is that they treat everyone the same. So, when I introduced them to my homeless friend, Alistair, they didn’t hesitate to make friends. George was patting him on his knees within seconds. While we talked with Alistair, another man came up and started talking with us. He told us he was Miles Davis’s son, and I have to admit, he kind of looked like he could have been.
After our good deeds, we were rewarded with an appearance by the famous One Man Band!
He invited the kids to join the band, and it was pretty magical. Out of all the instruments, they chose the hula hoop. Then, we stopped by the Harvard Book Store, walking past Alistair on our way (George: “HIIIIII, ALISTAIRRRRRR!” like he’s a rock star), and had the pleasure of seeing a book being made.
I’d like to say they both ended the day with 10 minutes of one-on-one time, but they did not. Hazy, 7; George, 8.
Today, Grammy is being my personal hero and is coming down to stay with the kids AND watch Beatz, while Matty and I go to a birthday party/viking funeral for the one-of-a-kind friend we lost, Laurie. Tonight, let’s all salute Grammy and pour some out for Laurie.
It was Redemption Day. Time to show Oma & Opa that my juvenile delinquents were reformed. We showed up with apology notes in hand and left with bellies full of ribs and watermelon. Mission: mostly accomplished. I’ll have Hazy work on a Bush-like banner that we can hang across Bucky in our bathtub (bonus points if you know who/what Bucky is).
We started our morning off at The Pond. On the way there, this happened. A nice mom would probably pull the shorts up before snapping a photo, but see what I do for you?
Hazy and George love The Pond, but no one loves it more than my middle child, Beatz. It’s the one place where she acts like a puppy again, running around at full jackrabbit speed, playing tag with us, and getting back the glint in her eye.
We made a little more progression in Project Water Comfort.
Then, we were pooped.
This is a good time to mention the new system I’ve implemented. Please comment below if you were the one who told me about this, so I can give you credit. The basic system is this: both kids start with 10 minutes of one-on-one time with me. If they do something especially good, I add a minute. If they do something bad, I subtract a minute. Then, they cash in on their minutes at bedtime. Of course, we usually spend a lot more than ten minutes putting them to bed, but it’s usually family time, not one-on-one time, which is especially valuable. I can’t remember all the details of the infractions, but at nap time, Hazy was at 8 minutes and George was at 6. (We can assume most of them were whining-related.) But because he took a kickass nap, without chatting for an hour in bed first, George got to 7.
After nap time, we went to the pool, and something epic happened.
After this monumental pool success, we had some quiet time, which included snuggling and sticker fun.
There was no crying, no hitting, no “shut up”, and no “you’re not my friend”, so we’ll consider them mostly reformed.
Hazy fell asleep in the car, so she’ll get to cash in on her minutes tomorrow morning. George usually sings for at least an hour before going to sleep, so he’s not gonna get a 50-minute car ride lull him to sleep. We spent a nice 7 minutes reading The Pigeon Loves Things That Go many times and then cuddling. It was heavenly.
You know, those ones on Pinterest who make lifelike raccoons out of old toilet paper rolls and dryer lint, and create treasure hunts out of old love letters from great-grandparents? Fine, I’m not on that level yet, but I read about this thing called Discovery Packs at the Arboretum, and we actually went and did it today. And you know how you usually set off to do these things, but then your kids just end up fighting over who gets to put together the disassembled hula hoop, you’re sweating through your C’est La Vie t-shirt because you’re carrying two backpacks, and your dog decides to play dead right in front of a tree trimming truck that wants to make it a reality? Well, those things happened, but other than that, we had a real life discovery adventure in the beautiful arboretum and it was really cool.
Don’t let the photos fool you, though. They are still suffering from Paris Syndrome, and we’ve had two mini-adirondack chair time outs (during baby pool time) and two in-room time outs (for major violations). In the NBA, they’d be kicked out of the game by now.
Castle Island is one of those places that’s on every “Things To Do In Boston With Kids” and “Family Fun in Boston” lists and was also just mentioned by my friend Maryann yesterday (post your list in the comments for me, Maryann!), so it was a good last minute choice today when I realized I had no plan. I was also worried it was gonna be kind of lame, as most of those cliché list items are. But, it turned out to be pretty sweet.
First of all, dogs are allowed and welcome, so Beatz got to come. [Side note: If anyone knows what to do about car anxiety in dogs, please let me know. Beatz has started panting excessively in the car, only on longer trips. She never used to mind the car before. The air conditioning is on, and she had plenty of water before we left.] She had a blast walking around the fort (I refuse to call it a castle), sniffing, and saying hi to other dogs.
Secondly, there’s a nice little walk around the non-castle, although we couldn’t figure out how/if you can get inside. I convinced the kids that one concrete slab was a magic door that you had to stand in front of and yell, “Castle Island!” to activate the magic portal, which they did (the yelling, not the activating the magic portal). The fact that they’ll still do this stuff is exactly why I thought this was the right time to take the summer off with them.
After our hike (and I use that term very generously), we went to the really nice Castle Island playground, where Hazy showed off her guns by going across the monkey bars about five or six times, and George watched in admiration. Then, I showed off my guns by doing some dual swing pushing, which, according to my internet research, burns 200 calories an hour. I have a short attention span for swing pushing though, so I probably only burned 20 calories.
Then we had a picnic on the beach (which Beatz had to watch forlornly from beneath a nearby bench), and played in the ice cold water.
I did my best to ignore my crippling fear of jellyfish and the cries of, “jellyfish!” all around us. We continued making progress in Project Water Comfort and made less progress on Project Abandon Swimmies, despite what it might look like in the photo.
Then, I went for the Best Mom Ever award by getting us ice cream. If you’re wondering how much ice cream it’s possible to drip onto your camo shorts, it’s 9/10th of a Sullivan’s Oreo Cookie Razzle, and George can demonstrate his technique.
After our outing, George napped and Hazy and I made zucchini brownies (not quite Fruity Penguins, JoAnne!).
Then we played in our inflatable pool, and by “we”, I mean Hazy and George did in between time outs, while I drank a shandy.
Tomorrow, we’re winging it. Quick – give me some ideas in the comment section! Wednesday, we’re hanging with Oma & Opa, and Thursday, we’re having lunch with my friend Christine and her adorable baby, Jack. Maybe George can teach Jack how to coat himself in ice cream!
This blog is mostly about my summer with my kids, but the summer wouldn’t be possible without Matty. Not only does he work his tail off so I can take this summer off of work, but when he’s home, he’s Super Dad. I know everyone says their husband is #1 Dad, especially around Father’s Day, but when it comes down to it, there’s only one #1 Dad — and sorry, other dads — it’s Matty. So we were all very excited when he had Friday off, and got to join us for one of our adventures. And on this grand occasion, we braved the Brockton Fair.
Brockton’s a little crime-y, but they more than make up for it with their town fair that includes a choo choo train ride, a bouncy castle, a super slide, the World’s Smallest Horse, a Snake Lady, a Spider Woman, a family circus (not Family Circus, that would be lame), and best of all, FRIED DOUGH NUGGETS. You will not see a photo of those, because I snarfed them down before photos could be taken. Here are the other great things at the fair that I did stop to take photos of (click on them to enlarge):
We have yet to plan next week’s adventures. Definitely open to suggestions, especially if they involve fried dough nuggets.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and thank God, the universe, and nachos for mine. Last week, my parents watched the kids while we went to Paris, and today, we invited ourselves over to Grammy’s for a day of fun. It was action-packed with all kinds of awesomeness, and Grammy (and Auntie Dita, Uncle Matt, RyRy, and Sean-O) kept them occupied and happy all day.
After a few threats of “I will turn this car around!”, which I’ll admit, I got a small thrill out of it, we made it to New Hampshire. Side note: if you’ve never been stuck in bumpah to bumpah traffic with an anxiety ridden dog and two kids singing, “Down By The Bay” at high decibels, while suffering from carcolepsy, well, you aren’t missing much. Be grateful for the things you have in your life.
First, we went to the splash pad. The splash pad is zero times the cost of Disney World, and gives my kids approximately an equal, if not greater, amount of joy. It’s in Derry NH if you ever want to save $2,000.
After exhausting ourselves at the splash pad, we headed to Grammy’s house for some quiet time.
As George skipped his much-needed nap, I decided the best thing to do was put the pedal to the medal and go for complete exhaustion.
You’d think they’d be exhausted by now, but turns out they’re never too exhausted to abuse Uncle Matt.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. Went to dinner with Grammy, Auntie Dita, and Sean-O. Finished the night with ice cream.
We were going to go to Free Fun Friday at the Children’s Museum tomorrow, until I put down my crack pipe and realized that was a completely insane idea. So, who knows what we’ll do? But it’s a holiday, so I have some back up, thank God/the universe/nachos.
Quick poll – if you end up getting home late (over an hour and a half past bedtime), and your kids are dead asleep in their car seats, do you:
a) carry them to their rooms, take off their shoes, and put them to bed
b) wake them up gently, have them brush (and floss, for bonus points) their teeth, change into jammies, and then put them to bed
c) carry them inside, attempt to brush their teeth while they sleep, put them to bed
Just kidding, I’m barely hanging on. But we had 100% fewer time outs today, so that’s a start. The kids slept in until 8 (whining takes a lot out of you), and then we went to Michael’s to get some of Hazy’s art framed. The great thing about Michael’s is that there are 300 things that kids love there; the bad thing about is that they want you to buy them all 300 things.
After Michael’s (and after my free birthday burger from B. Good – shout out, Westside!), it was nap time for George and crafts time for Hazy and me. Crafts are, how do you say, not my specialty, so we usually default to multimedia collages using my old US Weeklys. [Hazy’s thoughts on Kim & Kanye: “I like them, but I don’t like their names. Let’s call them Rose & Brady.”]
After naps, we went to the JP library for Superhero costume making. The description said ages 6+, but I figured George was old enough. Who says a 3 1/2 year old can’t cut out eye holes for a mask, glue on tiny jewels, and cut out stars? I do. I say that. The librarian was very impressed with Hazy’s superhero name, Rainbow Dash, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it came from a My Little Pony coloring book.
We capped off the night with special guest star, Ajit, who got treated to a hip hop show. We use the term hip hop very, very loosely.
If you have any ideas for what to do on future rainy days, or what to do on future sunny days for that matter, or how to make the whining stop. Please share.