Ze Luckiest Kids in Ze World!

My kids are the Celine Dion of childhood. Case in point, yesterday we went to Legoland in the morning and the Children’s Museum in the afternoon. At this point, you may ask if I’m overdoing it. Yes. Yes, I am. We’ve got a week and a day until school starts, and I play to win.

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When your biggest problem is that you’re having a hard time holding onto a Lego giraffe long enough for a photo, you’re Ze Luckiest Kids in Ze World.

We went to Legoland with our partners in crime, the Chans – Marie, Evie, Eliot and Orla (we missed you, Jip!). My favorite part of Legoland is always Lego Boston, made with intricate attention to detail, including a hidden window where they play the Cheers song.

Legoland was just the cherry on top of the ridiculously decadent sundae that was August.

The kids’ favorite part of Legoland is the Zakim bridge (their favorite bridge), with Logan airport being a close second for George. Gillette Stadium is a new part of Lego Boston, and it was pretty sweet. There’s also a few rides, a kids-only play gym, and a 4D movie theatre.

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If anyone’s ever gotten two adults, four kids and a baby to pose this well in front of a green screen, I challenge them to a duel. A photo acting duel, obvs.
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The 4th D is for Damn, We Look Cool In These Glasses! Fine, it’s for the 4th dimension – rain, wind, etc.

Since our last visit to Legoland, there’s a new space-themed room which is super cool.

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I thought Astronaut George was the cutest thing I’d ever seen.
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Until I saw Astronaut Orla.
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The Lego nerd child inside of me gets super excited about things like real smoke coming out of the Lego space shuttle when it blasts off.

If you haven’t been to Legoland, it’s definitely worth a trip. Insider’s tip: you can get your kids free socks for the play area from the cafe. These are better than the used free socks you can get in a bin outside of the play area.

Other insider’s tip: if your child is under 48″, they can’t ride the Merlin’s Apprentice ride without an adult. And if your friend’s child is also under 48″ and his mom is with her baby, and you’re with all four big kids, maybe don’t leave your own son in the line for Merlin’s Apprentice while he weeps loudly and you ride in circles on those stupid flying bikes with your friend’s son, yelling, “Mama will be right back!” with every revolution. The people in line with your weeping child will not judge you kindly and your son will be mildly scarred for life.

After Legoland, George cried himself to sleep (just kidding, he was fine), and then I woke him up early to rally for the Countdown to Kindergarten event at the Children’s Museum. All of Boston’s incoming kindergarten classes were invited, and they were all wearing their yellow, “I’m going to kindergarten” shirts, which made it really hard to find your kid in the crowded museum.

We mostly did our usual activities at the CM: feats of strength, ball hoarding/rolling, bubble blowing, plane piloting, and construction fashion modeling. We also met Arthur, who between you and me, was a little dead behind the eyes.

After our museum visit, we had the most special special guest star, Dada.

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And then we went to a sweet restaurant in Southie, the Lincoln, where we got seated way in the back (good call), conveniently next to the stage, where the kids proved they were indeed mine by immediately dancing on it.

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They hadn’t even had a single drink yet.

After dinner, snuggling on her father’s lap, Hazy sang, “He’s so tall, and handsome as hell…”, then paused and looked at Matty. “You’re not him.” #BURN

 

 

 

Case of the Mondays

This is the point in the summer when the wheels start falling off. I wake up and look at BostonCentral.com and the Boston Public Library schedule, and then hope I hear something on the old shower radio. When I had no luck with any of my go-tos, I had to go to plan B: Wegman’s and a movie.

At Wegman’s, we stepped up our (already high) selfie game.

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Ceiling selfie in Wegman’s wine elevator? Check.

While George napped, Hazy read and then we worked on some dorm artwork for Cassidy. Then, we headed to the movie theatre. I was really proud of my mom skills because I packed their pigs full of popcorn and filled their water bottles and actually remembered to bring them. Packing snacks and drinks and remembering to bring them are basics for most moms but advanced level biz for me.

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I look forward to adding popcorn to our collection of car floor foods.

At the theatre, we had some photo shoot fun.

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*Magnificent Nine

We saw Kubo and the Two Strings, which was super cool animation, but a little scary for the kids. We watched most of it with both of them in my lap and me covering their eyes. I have to admit, the cuddling was quite nice. The villains are two evil immortal sisters (“samurais,” according to George) and the hero kid (Kubo) is missing an eye because his grandfather stole it. So if you’re wondering if the movie is too scary for you/your kids, it depends on their comfort with evil samurai sisters and eye-stealing relatives. Highly recommend for adults and brave kids though.

On the walk back to the car, we passed this cool graffiti art.

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Worked out well that they had their hoodies on.

The kids have been in Costanza-mode for a few days now, so to nip the bickering in the bud, I’ve instituted a new rule where I confiscate a toy anytime they fight or don’t listen. In related news, if anyone wants a pink or blue My Little Pony, a fire truck, or some Ghostbusters Slime, let me know.

Going Back, Giving Back

Yesterday, we headed back to my former workplace, PJA, in Harvard Square. I miss all the awesome people there, so it was a treat to get to see many of them. So much has changed since I left a couple of months ago: Meaghan got pregnanter; Lauren has started putting chia seeds on her oatmeal; and Phil has started having lunch at Zoe’s instead of Café Sushi. (Phil, I think I saw the Café Sushi hostess stabbing herself with the check spindle as I walked by.)

We were lucky enough to get special guests, Amy and Dez, to join us for lunch. They were very gracious about ignoring George’s not-so-subtle attempts at taking their lunches (“I’d really like some eggs!”) and listening to Hazy’s detailed synopsis of Stink and the Shark Sleepover.

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This shot had an extremely high level of difficulty, so we still get a high score despite George’s expression.
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Dave, here’s proof that George was at one point wearing a tie for Tie Friday.

We also did Year 2 of our Bags for the Homeless program. This year, we did tote bags instead of backpacks, mostly due to time constraints but also because I figured we might have some repeat customers. We bought some essentials at Family Dollar and then baked some chocolate chip cookies, because those are essential too.

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All these items went in the bags, except for the Ghostbusters Slime, which I didn’t think they’d need. But what do I know?
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Hazy wanted to write, “Sorry we can’t afford to buy you a house, but we can afford this stuff.” but I modified it slightly.
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I’m gonna look at this picture of this sweet little angel next time Hazy abuses George.
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Look at these sweethearts! How are these the same people who caused me to yell, “See how my hands are in the air?! It’s because I just don’t care!” in a whine-induced rage?

I try to teach the kids that when you do good things, good things happen to you. So, thank you universe, for not turning me into a liar. After we handed out our bags, one homeless guy (whom I see all the time and never talks) could not get over that we were giving him the bag, and insisted upon giving us a free Spare Change newspaper. That’s a big deal for him because he makes money off of selling them and a big deal for the kids because they love newspapers. Then, we walked by Petali florist and it was Free Rose Day! The florist was super nice and also gave us a beautiful rainbow spinagig lawn ornament.

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Stopping and smelling

To make things even better, we then went out for ice cream with my old PJA West Coast ECD, Chris Frame.

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“Make your most sophisticated faces.” (Moments later, this sophisticated gentleman spilled my entire iced tea on the lady at the table next to us.)

And as a special treat, I let the kids do a second round of Vend-a-Friend, a project I helped out on, where you get assigned to a friend group at PJA and get a themed tchotchke from the vending machine. For the second time, Hazy got “hooligans.”

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Three hooligans (Todd, we’re sorry you weren’t around for a guest appearance to represent your people.)

One of the hooligans skipped his nap (hint: it wasn’t Chris), but still managed to make it through the day without a major meltdown. I think having a constant influx of sugar helped (you’re welcome for the parenting tip!). At dinner, George said he wished he’d be homeless someday. Why? “So people would bring me cookies.” I’m really nailing these life lessons, guys.

 

 

 

They Built A Museum Just For Us!

Sure, it’s possible that the Wenham Museum existed before Hazy and George did, but highly unlikely, since it appears to be custom-designed around their interests.

Exhibit A: a giant, interactive LEGO exhibit

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The matchy-matchy outfits are the dead giveaway that these two Lego figures are in fact, George and Hazy.
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This may be my favorite selfie we’ve taken this summer, even if the LEGO head was too small for my head and scraping my nose.
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Spot the Hazy.
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We played Wreck It Ralph. The kids built up the life-sized LEGO house and I smashed through it. I told them to assume their safe positions inside, and came in to this. #GeorgewasinWWIinapastlife

Exhibit B: the most mind-blowing train room you’ve ever seen

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George was jumping up and down and yelling, “I LOVE TRAINS!” in this picture.

I’m not even that train-crazy and I have to admit, the train room was mad cool. There’s such attention to detail, along with some weird touches like dinosaurs in the mountains.

Exhibit C: a dollhouse and doll exhibit

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I told Hazy to make her “creepy doll face.” Ladies and gentlemen, my photo acting protegé.

Hazy got a ton of ideas from the fancy dollhouses (not pictured, sorry), things like chandeliers and sconces that we can totally pull off with our combined lack of skills. Look for our dollhouse chandelier crafting fail later this summer!

After our museum, we swung by to visit Captain Donut (Jonah) and Ham (Pam) at their super cool Plum Consignment offices, where Hazy and George applied for jobs by touching various things they were not supposed to touch. Let us know if they got the job, guys.

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This isn’t photo acting; this is the face George makes when I’m yelling at him to stop doing something.

The kids were well-behaved dream children all day, if your dream is a never ending cycle of universal kid catchphrases like “Stop it!”, “I’m telling!” and “George didn’t wipe!”. I decided the best course of action was forcing all three of us to take a much-needed nap. I also added 10 minutes of napping time on for every time they argued. Best idea ever. Everyone wins (I win).

I also had to repeat myself A LOT of times. I repeated myself so many times! I did so much repeating it’s like I can’t stop repeating. Anyway, the final straw was when George used one of the guests-only plastic cups (don’t judge us, they’re the ones from Legal Seafood and we use them when other kids are over so the kids don’t argue about who gets which color cup) that I have to hand-wash. I told him since he was making more work for me, I was gonna make more work for him, namely he had to wash a toilet. In a surprising turn of events, George loves washing toilets and ended up washing all three.

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George sang, “I get to clean the toilets!” with the same enthusiasm that he sang, “I love trains!”, so I think someone’s got himself a new chore.

When Matty went to check in on George later that night, he said George whispered, “I’m so tired, I cleaned the toilets” and then tried to get up to clean one he thought he had forgotten. Sweet dreams, George.

 

 

 

What Will Opa Cook for Sweeps Week?

On Wednesdays we w̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶p̶i̶n̶k̶ go to Oma & Opa’s. But during Sweeps Week, we can’t just do our usual pond/pool rotation. Oma took us to a hidden gem of Plymouth: Hedges Pond.

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The lovely Oma at the lovely Hedges Pond

This place rules. There’s a gorgeous swimming pond, a nice playground with our two favorite pieces of playground equipment, swings and American Ninja Warrior training bars, and it’s about a mile from an awesome lobster roll place called Rock Bottom Seafood.

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Rock Bottom? Try Rock Top, am I right?

There was one drawback to Hedges Pond: this was the restroom.

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Perhaps they had shot the live action Scooby Doo movie here?

Even during sweeps, nappers gotta nap. While George napped, so did Oma, Opa and I, while Hazy held down the fort on a spare iPad. After naps, we couldn’t ignore the lure of the pool. George must have recognized the need to step it up, because he started swimming with his face in the water for the first time and absolutely crushed it. I’m super proud to have two full on swimmers now.

After Red Fish/Blue Fish worked up an appetite, we headed home for the main even: dinner. Opa must have known it was Sweeps Week, because he outdid himself.

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That’s steamed chicken with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms, and Napa cabbage with glass noodles and egg pancakes.

At our last visit to Oma & Opa’s, Opa taught my kids the, “Look over there!” trick. This week, he taught them the towel-snapping game. Thanks for remembering the classics, Dad.

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So surprised this didn’t end badly.

Exactly two weeks until Hazy starts school (George starts the Monday after). Let’s do this (this = cram as much fun as possible in the next 14 days)!

We Attend The Mayor’s Ball

Well, “ball” may be a bit of a stretch. It was a festival, a children’s festival. It was Mayor Mahhhty Walsh’s annual Children’s Festival and we only went because I heard an ad for it on my trusty shower radio, tuned to Magic 106.7 who doesn’t sponsor this blog but totally should.

And because it’s still Sweeps Week, we had a special guest. Luckily, we already had a playdate scheduled with the lovely Sabina.

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Meet Sabina; she has caviar face paint dreams, but a willingness to settle for canned tuna face paint reality.

And fortunately, we had an extra ticket for the ball (and by ticket, I mean the whole city was invited and it was a free event).

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The red carpet is green grass at this ball, and no one asks who you’re wearing (but if asked, we would have admitted that pink bunny shirt is Sweeteen and the green shorts are Crewcuts, and okay, fine, Hazy’s shorts are Justice but I wish Justice didn’t exist so let’s pretend they’re not).

Like any ball, there was food (free Hoodsies!), entertainment (police horse demonstration, a fire truck, bubbles, puppet show), and dancing (a flash mob dancing to Can’t Stop the Feeling).

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Here are the girls with Winston, the police horse. George did not want to be in the photo, possibly related to the time he told me he was “allergic to police.”
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George in no way endorses arson.
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George reacted to these bubbles the way Bill Clinton reacted to the DNC balloons.
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Sunshine in our pockets

There was also face painting at the ball, but the line was so long we would’ve turned into pumpkins, so I convinced the kids that we could do our own face paint at home. I neglected to mention my complete lack of artistic skill. After nixing their early ideas (“a sunset over an ocean”, “a unicorn leaping over a rainbow”, “Van Gogh’s starry night but done in more of Monet’s style”), I googled “easy face paint ideas” and let them choose. That’s how we ended up with leaping dolphins (still above my skill level), a heart and two rainbows (good choice, George), and a heart with random lines and dots (you are welcome at our house anytime, Sabina).

After lunch and the face paint shenanigans, George napped while the girls played in the toy pit and harangued me until I agreed to play Palace with them. How do you play Palace, you ask? “You can be a princess, a knight, a maid, anyone in the palace.” I get to be a maid all the time, so I decided to be the queen. I chose not to take any photos of me in my blonde curly wig, pink tiara, and arms shoved into a size 4T princess dress. Your loss.

After nap/Palace, we hit the mini pool. And we hit it pretty hard.

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I have major FOMOMO (Fear Of Missing Out on Motherhood Opportunities), so I agreed to do a jump with the kids.

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Yes, Mom Jeans™ makes bathing suits now.

After our playdate, we headed to Target because I desperately needed a new phone. While there, I discovered Cat & Jack, and by discovered, I mean I acted like it was Black Friday and I was the first person in at 4 am.

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I think I can fit in that HAVE FUN TODAY shirt in a size 16, but they were out of that size or probably were, whatever, I didn’t check or anything. (Shot on iPhone 6S!)

Yesterday, I got called “the Best Mom Ever” by my kids. Do you know what it takes to get BME status? Doing an amazing craft project? Reading them a favorite book? Passing along a cherished family tradition? No, it was taking them to McDonald’s for dinner. That’s because it took so long at Target to transfer stuff to my new phone, while the kids entertained themselves by figuring out how to watch PJ Masks on YouTube on the sample iPods. Best Mom Ever indeed. Guys, don’t try to live up to this level of parenting.

Sweeps Week: Jack & The Aquarium

After a week’s hiatus (more on our Cake House vacation later), it’s time for Sweeps Week. This is when I step it up with non-Pinterest-worthy crafts and bring in the guest stars. Yesterday, our special guest was Jack, whose Mom is my good friend Dee, who had to take care of some business.

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Meet Jack. He enjoys cotton candy ice cream, mostly dripping it on the ground but also occasionally eating some of it.

For this adventure, we made some PJ Masks (not TJ Maxx, unfortunately) bracelets, did the mind-numbing PJ Masks chant, and then headed to the Aquarium.

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PJ Masks! We’re the PJ Masks! Incessant chanting! Blah blah blah!

As per usual, my children’s favorite animal on exhibit was the computer.

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Ooh, touchscreens!

Did you think we were just going to the Aquarium? This is Sweeps Week, people! I made these stamp books with a bunch of animals I thought we might see at the Aquarium and gave each kid their own unique stamp.

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Then they had to check off each animal they spotted.
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And of course they got super competitive about it.

We also saw a fur seal show, petted some sea creatures, and had a picnic lunch with the harbor seals.

I swear the seals were gunning for George’s PB&J&B (the second b is for banana).

After our aquarium adventure, we headed back home. Jack and Hazy played in the pool while George napped, and then Dee and her daughter/Hazy’s buddy, Nina, came over and joined us for some swimming and dinner.

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And by swimming, I mean George terrorizing Jack and Nina with his incessant cannonballs.

Dee brought over rosé and fresh veggies, the only payment I accept for childcare, and we whipped up some one pot pasta. There’s something to be said for friends who can drop by whenever and not judge you on your perpetually messy home and unbathed children, and that something is the F-word followed by a yeah. Thanks for the wine and the company, Dee!