On Thursdays, we go to Oma & Opa’s

And we also wear pink, but some of us do that almost every day.
And we also wear pink, but some of us do that almost every day.

Before the summer started, I floated the idea by my parents of spending every Thursday at their house, and we agreed it sounded great. We were right. I’m proud to say, we’ve only missed two Thursdays at Oma & Opa’s, one when they were recovering from their five days babysitting the kids, and one when we were in Toronto. So this past Thursday, even though Hazy had tennis (and literacy!) camp in the morning, we headed out there in the afternoon.

First, George did some  combine training with this surprised, yet amenable, stranger.
First, George did some combine training with this surprised, yet amenable, stranger.
And Beatz had the Best Day Ever when the camp kids learned they could pet her.
And Beatz had the Best Day Ever when the camp kids learned they could pet her.

Usually at Oma & Opa’s, we go to the pond in the morning, where the kids float around and chase fish, and Beatz has the time of her life, and then we go to the pool in the afternoon, after George’s nap, where we work on the kids’ swimming skills. This time was a little different because we didn’t get there until the afternoon, and I had to work on some freelance work, so Oma took the kids to the pool solo. So, while there are no photos, Project Water Comfort continued to go swimmingly (see what I did there?) as Hazy did an underwater cartwheel and George went underwater (accidentally, but it counts). The end of the day was still the same as usual, where we had a gourmet dinner (chicken spaghetti, swoon), courtesy of my dad.

I just really love these Thursdays. I love when my mom greets us in her driveway because she’s so excited to see us. I love seeing Beatz be herself again at that pond. I love watching my kids get more and more comfortable in the water, and watching Hazy learn to swim. I love seeing my dad’s softie side when he plays with my kids. I love being able to take a nap when George does, while my mom does something creative with Hazy. I love my dad’s amazing cooking, and my mom spoiling us with homemade dessert. I love having my kids learn things from my parents that Matty and I don’t necessarily teach them. And I love that my parents each carry one sleepy kid to the car and wave us off in the driveway when we leave.

Thanks, Mom & Dad, for taking such good care of us every week.

An All-JP Day

Guys, I’m losing steam. We used to go on Discovery Adventures, and help homeless people and create things out of toilet paper rolls, and now we’re not even leaving our neighborhood. But, a good day was still had by all.

First, we got to tennis (and literacy!) camp early, which is a miracle in itself. George walks about 1 mile an hour, plus we always leave late, plus we brought Beatz. But somehow we got there early, so Hazy got some one on one instruction from the hot tennis coach. (Wait, tennis – and literacy! – camp is free AND there are hot instructors? Yep.)

Here's hoping Hazy inherited Opa's tennis skills genes but not our family's McEnroe-esque tennis temper genes.
Here’s hoping Hazy inherited Opa’s tennis skills but not our family’s McEnroe-esque tennis temper.

While Hazy practiced her tennis (and literacy!), George convinced me to fill up the baby pool.

When did he get so long?
This is the face of someone who is tricking me.

Like a fool, I filled up that baby pool.

Well, George did.
Well, George did.

After we burned through a bajillion gallons of water and the pool was full to the extremely high level that HRH demands, George declared that he was “done with the pool.” Hey, George. The Jerk Store called, and they’re all out of you.

Thankfully, I had used the (substantial) pool-filling time to clean out our car, which has smelled grody for about 3 months. Now it smells good! So hooray!

After we picked Hazy up from tennis (and literacy!) camp, we had a picnic at the sprinkler park with her bestie, Evie, and her family.

3 out of 4 of these kids had to use the potty at the sprinkler park. One portapotty had poop on the floor and the other was only slightly less gross. God bless you, George.
3 out of 4 of these kids had to use the potty at the sprinkler park. One portapotty had poop on the floor and the other was only slightly less gross. God bless you, George, for not having to use the potty for once in your inconveniently-timed-potty-break-filled life.
Quick sprinkler park jaunt
Quick sprinkler park jaunt
Cool sprinkler park discovery
Cool sprinkler park discovery

While George napped, Hazy and I baked, played “store”, and did puzzles.

It takes two tough girls to make a tender carrot-zucchini bar?
It takes two tough girls to make a tender carrot-zucchini bar?
"Is that a real Louis Vuitton? Like is it from..." "Yes. It's from China."
“Is that a real Louis Vuitton? Like is it from…”
“Yes. It’s from China.”
Mama, I'd be better at this puzzle without you.
“Mama, I’d be better at this puzzle without you.”

Then, because Matty is away and our pool plans with my friend Maryann fell through (one day, MaryAnn!), and as I’m clearly like a little wounded bird when I’m on my own, my friend Dee invited us over for tacos. Thank you, Dee!

Just like separate bathrooms are key to a happy marriage, a separate kids' table is key to a happy family dinner date.
Just like separate bathrooms are key to a happy marriage, a separate kids’ table is key to a happy family dinner date.

I hope Hazy’s tennis, and literacy, skills don’t suffer when we skip camp tomorrow to go to the beach with my friend Cindy and her extended family. Let’s all say a prayer for no greenheads at Crane’s! If you still have prayer time left, also say a prayer that I can fold up the beach tent. And not to be greedy, but also that we get a parking space.

 

Special Crossover Episode!

Everyone knows crossover events are the best. We’re doing a very special crossover episode with bertandduke.wordpress.com, not because I’m too cheap to pay for video on this blog, but because…fashion.

Confession: we did nothing today. Well, our version of nothing. Tennis and literacy camp (yes, that’s still a thing) was canceled due to rain, so we had to come up with a Plan B. First, we had dentist appointments for both kids. Both kids had great check ups, but unfortunately, George has inherited my excessive drooling problem and concomitant tartar buildup, and both kids have inherited my snaggle teeth. You’re welcome, future orthodontist. With no tennis camp, we practiced another favorite sport: shopping. And to show off our back to school purchases, we had a fashion show.

Pop over here to Bert & Duke’s blog to see the show.

George is rocking some pajamas by Carters. You might think PJs aren’t back to school, but then I guess you never had Pajama Day at school, did you? Touché. Hazy is wearing a “Place” shirt (that’s Children’s Place, if you’re not street), and some leggings by a brand that is only identified by some upside down hearts. Does Prince have kids? Just wondering. On their second walk, George is modeling some Epic Threads jeans and a Gap Kids shirt, and Hazy is working a Joe Fresh dress.

After shopping, we had lunch, George took his nap, Hazy cleaned the toy pit and watched some My Little Pony while I napped. (I’m sorry, I can’t stay conscious during that inane show.) After naps, we picked up our meat CSA at the farmer’s market, played a little, had some dinner, and enjoyed our 9-minutes (each) of one-on-one time. Well, now that I typed that all out, it doesn’t sound like nothing.

After (sadly)
After clean up (sadly)

I’m trying not to have Hazy watch TV every time George naps, but if she MUST (i.e. I have to nap), what’s your favorite kids’ TV show or movie?

Back to Normal Life

Sorry I went radio silent for a few days. Spoiler alert – we were in Canada! We spent the weekend with 13 relatives, eating our way through Scarborough’s Chinatown in Toronto. Will definitely post about our trip after I sort through my bajillion photos of family and dumpling foods.

Now that we’ve (temporarily) retired from our full-time jobs as professional eaters, it’s back to normal life. I think it was a testament to how much we ate that George, my eating machine, requested a half a mini bagel for breakfast.

Today, Hazy had her first day at Tenacity, which is this really cool, and random, tennis and literacy camp. Yes, tennis and literacy. Apparently, they go together like peanut butter & jelly, so I guess we’ll have to eat Tenacity every day for the rest of the summer.

I don’t know who even told Hazy that people wear skirts to play tennis (me?), but she came downstairs dressed in her rainbow shirt and America skirt this morning. When looking for shoes, she said rather earnestly, “I’m sorry, Mama, but I can’t find any shoes that match my outfit.” Regardless, she was over it by the time she saw her bestie, Evie.

Can you believe those shoes?
Can you believe those shoes?

Tennis camp is free, and you kind of get what you pay for.

Showing off her newfound tennis skills.
Showing off her newfound tennis skills.

Tennis camp is from 9-12, which, after factoring in walking time, left George and I with two hours of one on one time. I gave him some options, and he chose what he always chooses: the Brown Playground!

Brown Playground isn’t its actual name, but my kids have nicknames for all the local playgrounds, like “the Tot Lot” and “the Sand Playground.” George is obsessed with the Brown Playground because it overlooks the train tracks.

Psst...George, there are like 10 slides behind you!
Psst…George, there are like 10 slides behind you!

When Hazy’s with him, George will go down the big kid slides and play the instruments and stuff, but when it’s just us, all he wants to do is listen and look for trains.

George can tell from the sound of the train if it's the orange line or "purple line" (commuter rail).
George can tell from the sound of the train if it’s the orange line or “purple line” (commuter rail).
Quick tickle break
Quick tickle break
Pretty cute shutterbug
George turns the camera on me.
Me, by George
Me, by George

I forgot to mention how we got to the Brown Playground. We took the scooter. Letting George ride his scooter is like giving birth. There is some weird hormone my body releases that makes me forget the incredible pain of the last time I did it. Here’s the typical scooter experience:

Step 1: Pretend to know how to ride scooter until we are a little too far to turn back.
Step 1: Pretend to know how to ride scooter until we are a little too far to turn back.
Step 2: Proclaim inability to ride scooter and start proposing alternate means of riding it. "I can sit on it and scoot, like this!"
Step 2: Proclaim inability to ride scooter and start proposing alternate means of riding it. “I can sit on it and scoot, like this!”
Step 3: Proceed in super slow motion, whining, until your mother cracks and carries the scooter for you.
Step 3: Proceed in super slow motion, whining, until I crack and carry the scooter home.

Needless to say, we walked home.

It’s not too late to enter to win my friend Lauren’s book, The Places You’ll Feed, by commenting here.

You can also win my undying devotion by commenting on this post.

 

 

#TBT: Boob Talk

Between World Breastfeeding Week, Kim Kardashian, and my buddy Lauren from college sending me a copy of her new book, The Places You’ll Feed, breasts are all up in my business (bizness?), so I’m writing a #TBT boob post.

Ironically, on top of turquoise, grass-topped Seussian column is one of the few places I didn't breastfeed or pump.
Ironically, on top of turquoise, grass-topped Seussian column is one of the few places I didn’t breastfeed or pump.

I breastfed both my kids until they were a little over a year old, and I started working when each of them was about 3 months old. So, that’s over 18 months of pumping. Pumping, in a word, sucks. Yes, it literally sucks milk out of your boobs, but it also figuratively sucks, unless you enjoy being milked like a cow and living in fear of a coworker or stranger (not sure which is worse) witnessing you in the act. That’s why this is still one of my favorite tumblr posts of all time. While a lot of women have been shamed for publicly nursing their babies (shame on you, shamers!), I never had an issue with that. I nursed my babies under a nursing cover (mine was called the Yoko, no joke, and she in no way broke up my band) at restaurants, in parks, and at friends’ houses. [Side note: Am I the only person who doesn’t like the term “feeding” for nursing? I was a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, and they always used “feeding” to describe how vampires sucked blood. Now that I think about it, I guess that is pretty similar to how babies nurse. Regardless, I don’t like “feed”.] I did have some nursing problems (thrush, pain, hot compresses, oh god I’m having flashbacks, I guess I don’t want a third child), but what I really hated was pumping, especially when I was traveling. Oh the places I pumped included airport bathrooms, airplane bathrooms, bar bathrooms, work bathrooms, the hotel room at my best friend’s wedding, the passenger seat of the car, and one abandoned office room on a commercial set, WITH NO LOCK ON THE DOOR. That was some paranoid pumping. I’ve also had friends that struggled really badly with nursing, and were killing themselves trying to make it happen because of g-d things like World Breastfeeding Week (I’m sorry I mentioned it earlier).

What I like about Lauren’s book is that it takes the stigma off nursing. It acknowledges that it can be hard, tedious, and uncomfortable, but all with the lighthearted Seussian humor that has previously taken the edge off of controversial topics like family violence (Hop On Pop), food racism (Green Eggs & Ham), and LSD use (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish).

If you would like a copy of The Places You’ll Feed, it’s on Amazon Smile here (Amazon Smile donates a portion of all profits to charity; my favorite is the International FOP Association.), or you can leave a comment letting me know who you know who might enjoy it, and I’ll give away my copy to one randomly chosen commenter. It makes a great baby shower gift!

When You Try To Do Too Much In One Day, You End Up Snapping About Slow Walking In Rain Boots

I’ll come up with a shorter title for my book someday.

Most days follow a sort of arc where I start off as Maggie Seaver (hey, it’s my blog, I can pick my ideal TV mom), teaching life lessons and maintaining my sense of humor, and then by day’s end, I turn into Aleida Diaz, short-tempered and cruel.

tumblr_mt16dry62q1sb3v88o1_1280

Yesterday, we had an action packed day. We took the train to the Greenway, where we ran through the sprinklers, rode the carousel, ducked through Faneuil Hall, and explored some trucks.

When the punchline is
When the punchline is “a fairy codmother”, laugh out loud is debatable.
Things that George finds exciting on the train: platforms, tunnels, other trains.
Things that George finds exciting on the train: platforms, tunnels, other trains.
Do all kids put their butts on sprinklers, or just my…um, friends’?
“It’s raining!”
Fun fact: this carousel plays Bon Jovi.
Fun fact: this carousel plays Bon Jovi.
Whoa, we're halfway there,  Whoa oh! Living on a giant grasshopper!
Whoa, we’re halfway there,
Whoa oh!
Living on a giant grasshopper! (original lyrics)
Look what George picked up.
Hey, sarcastic thanks for showing George that the horn works on this, Greenway guy.
Only my kids would buckle their seat belts at a Touch-A-Truck.
Only my kids would buckle their seat belts at a Touch-A-Truck.
Hazy: Let's build a house! George: Let's have a snack.
Hazy: Let’s build a house!
George: Let’s have a snack.
“Oh Mama, I wish we could go to that art studio.”
Mama, making dreams come true since August, 2015.
Artist's rendition of Hazy and George coloring
Artist’s* rendition of Hazy and George coloring, pencil on clipboard *Give me this
Cooling down in the T station
Cooling down in the T station
Pretending to cool down because he's too short to actually feel the breeze
Pretending to cool down because he’s too short to actually feel the breeze
Toy Pit cleaning outfit
Toy Pit cleaning outfit
The cops got a kick out of George's police station outfit (submitting accident report).
The cops got a kick out of George’s police station outfit (submitting accident report).
“I can’t walk in these boots, because they keep falling off my feet!”
“Then next time, let’s not wear those boots.”
“I have to wear them if it’s been raining, so I will wear them again next time.”

They wore their rain boots on what was supposed to be a quick trip to CVS and to a local gift store to get some presents for my cousins. The trip ended up taking TWO HOURS, and I believe one and a half of them were due to slow walking in those G-D boots. I may have been a bit snappy, but thankfully, I got a much-needed break in the form of a girls’ night with my high school friends. At dinner, they asked me to tell them, honestly, if I was having fun staying at home.

The overall and honest answer is yes.

Hazy and George are sweet, fun and funny, and 80% of the time, they’re really well-behaved. It’s the other 20% of the time that is exhausting and maddening.  But getting to spend this summer with them has absolutely been worth that 20% of suckage. Plus, about once a day, we laugh our collective asses off, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

10-Step Program to Getting Your Kids To Sleep

Kids not sleeping well?

BEFORE
BEFORE
AFTER
AFTER

No worries, just follow Dr. Mama’s (“But you’re not a doctor.” “I know, George, but I’m your mama.”) simple 10-step program for proven results.

  1. Psych them up – WE’RE GOING TO THE BEACH! WITH NISHA AND CAMILLE!
  2. Long car ride
  3. Hot walk to beach, filled with whining
  4. Hours in hot sun, no one use the shade tent that has broken my spirit
  5. “Swimming”/wave jumping/falling in water
  6. Go on treacherous adventure in “Mermaid Pools”, minor foot injury, carry them to lifeguard stand, where lifeguard reports that he does have bandaids, but not “waterproof ones”. And why would you, at the beach? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE NON-WATERPROOF BANDAIDS, MAN?
  7. NO NAP
  8. Sand castle building/destroying/rebuilding
  9. Frozen treats
  10. Long car ride

Works every time.

Good Thursday, Bad Friday

Anyone can tell you, parenthood has its highs and lows. You go from thinking you’ll die from happiness when their little bodies curl up against yours to chanting to yourself, “No murdering” when they say things like, “maybe you should go back to driving school.”

We had a great Thursday. We went to Oma & Opa’s, swam in the pond, swam in the pool, and had our collective favorite – tofu and rice! – for dinner. We even brought Beatz. I was patting myself on the back for giving her a Xanax before the ride and then realized too late that I didn’t bring one for the ride home.

George reading* an entire book to Oma! *reciting from memory, but still
George reading* an entire book to Oma!
*reciting from memory, but still
Not picture: Oma and I carrying the other 99% of the stuff.
Not picture: Oma and I carrying the other 99% of the stuff.
Beatz, after recreating the Wicked Game video in the sand
Beatz, after recreating the Wicked Game video in the sand

And then came Friday. Here’s a piece of advice for parents: don’t ever get cocky. Don’t ever think, “I got this all figured out.” Also, don’t ever wait too long to get a passport renewed so that you have to get it expedited because the passport expediting place makes the DMV seem like a paint & sip. [Note: I’ve never been to a paint & sip, but it seems like a relaxing, fun place.]

The faces of people who don't know they're about to wait in two 45-minute lines.
The faces of people who don’t know they’re about to wait in two 45-minute lines.

We spent the morning playing, and then headed to downtown Boston to get Hazy’s passport renewal expedited. It was 90-something out, so although Georgie really, really wanted to take the train, after a 15-minute 2-block walk with Beatz, I decided to drive. I packed them lunch (PB&J’s, natch) and we left an hour before our appointment, so I was pretty much thinking of Amazon Priming myself a #1 Mom mug.

Removed from cart
Removed from cart

When we got to the passport place (5 minutes late), we had to wait in the first line, just to get into the actual office. That line was about 45 minutes, EVEN THOUGH WE HAD AN APPOINTMENT. Inside, we had to wait in another line, in order to CHECK IN FOR OUR APPOINTMENT. That line took about 45 minutes too. After we checked in, we had to wait in chairs (a nice break from a line) until they called our number. Fortunately, the kids were mind-blowingly awesome, and spent the time running around and playing. I felt unbelievable lucky. There was that brief blip when George announced, “Georgie rhymes with orgy!” while we waited, but all good.

Other piece of advice: never drive in Boston.
After spending $160-something for an expedited passport plus $22 for parking, and missing G’s nap window, we headed for home. A couple minutes later, we got in a fender bender. For insurance purposes, I can’t say more, except that no one was hurt and there was a lot of crying. As I’m driving home, still shaken up and trying not to cry, Hazy goes, “Maybe you need to go back to driving school to learn to drive better, Mama.” No murdering, no murdering.

Friday would’ve totally sucked, except that Matty got back from Texas, and we got to have dinner at our friends’ house and put the shitty day behind us. My friend Nisha could have a cooking show in her gorgeous new kitchen, with her baskets of fresh herbs and veggies from her garden. I wish I could steal her green thumb.

Real Simple magazine spread?
Real Simple magazine spread?
Thankfully, my black thumb has not passed on to Hazy.
Thankfully, my black thumb has not passed on to Hazy.
Date
Date
Double date
Double date
Every summer meal should end with a popsicle.
Every summer meal should end with a popsicle.

There’s nothing like someone else cooking you an amazing dinner, and sitting to enjoy it outside with good friends, while – and this is key – the kids sit at a separate table.

So still feeling pretty lucky overall. Knock on wood.