Just Cuz

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to spend the day with my cousin, Maya, and her son, Hassan. Maya and I grew up together, wearing matching Easter sweaters, eating strange delicacies, and fighting with our respective brothers. It was nice to remedy the fact that we live mere miles away from each other and rarely find time to hang out.

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Practically twins, right?

We started the day off at the fantastic Museum of Science and this thrill ride, which replicates a roller coaster in that it locks your children into a small box and then tosses them around like rag dolls while you watch on a monitor. Just like a real roller coaster! George was sooo close to being tall enough.

After the thrill ride, we played the piano stairs, went bird watching, conversed with R4D4, played a nerd version of the arcade claw game, explored Mars via Rover, photo acted in front of Predator, touched a pig heart and lungs, snuck up on birds, and listened to a story about Sammy the Gecko (spoiler alert: his home is the desert and the story teller lady may be in the mafia, as she does not like kids who ask too many questions).

We also held the whole world in our hands (we held the whole world, in our hands!) with varying degrees of success, depending on the photographer.

Maya and I got our moose antlers on. (Insert moose sound here, whatever that is.)

Then we built towers taller than ourselves (or at least, Maya’s was taller than her) without using glue unlike some posers (cough, cough, MOS towers behind the glass).

Hazy built stairs leading up to the girls’ tower and George was very jealous. Later, as we were leaving, he wanted to destroy Hazy’s stairs and they got in a fight about it. Hassan is so sweet that while Hazy was in the bathroom, he asked me why George was crying and I told him. He said, “I’ll be right back,” ran back into the room with the towers and came back and told George, “it’s all set.” When I started to say that wasn’t very nice, he repeated himself to George and gave me a big exaggerated wink. George was thrilled, the stairs were intact (I think), and Hazy was none the wiser. Thanks, 8-year old parenting genius Hassan. Can I borrow you for the rest of the summer?

The highlight of the museum for me was the POPnology Exhibit, and the highlight of the POPnology Exhibit was the Delorean, one of the actual ones from Back to the Future.

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Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
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Exhibit idea: pump in Huey Lewis & the News songs (you’re welcome, MOS)

Before we left the museum, we made a quick stop to get brainwashed by this digital screen.

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“Noooooooo whiiiiiiining…” (is what I hope it inserted into their young impressionable minds)

Being the two amazing planners we are, Maya and I decided to take the kids to the Food Court at Cambridgeside Galleria so that we could stop at as many different booths as possible while two hangry adults dragged three hangry kids around. We also confirmed that Hassan and George are related, despite looking slightly different. They both like sticking their tongues out, running at top speed across the food court to the bathroom, and chicken nuggets. At the end of the day, George told me Hassan was his best friend. (Hazy was still name-dropping Sophie as her BFF.)

The kids decided their table was the “cool table.”

IMG_4934But what’s cooler than eating the same thing you ate before every swim meet in high school – a D’Angelo Italian sub with pickles and hots?

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My mom also claims I puked before every swim meet, but I don’t remember that.

Hangriness abated, we headed to the playground and then attempted (and failed at) a jumping shot.

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At least George got some air?

What’s the best thing to do after a giant Italian sub? Go swimming, of course.

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We’re the three best friends that anyone could ever have…

We did not wait 20 minutes before swimming/jumping.

I will museum-food court-pool with you anytime, Maya. I may not get an Italian sub next time though. But for the record, I didn’t barf.

The Village People

As I’ve mentioned before, it takes a village, and thank God for mine. My village people are, among others, my family: Oma (the construction worker), Grammy (the cowboy), and Opa (the leatherman? I don’t know, this is getting weird. Did you know there was a leatherman in the Village People?). On Friday, Matty and Ryan (our nephew) had a shoot in Plymouth, so we figured we’d all head down to my parents’ Thursday for dinner and the kids and I would hang out with Oma & Opa on Friday. I think I let my mom know on a Tuesday, and my parents rallied the way they always do.

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Just a little Korean beef and homemade mac & cheese they whipped up last minute.

It was kind of rainy and then muggy out, so we did mostly inside stuff, but also raspberry picking in my parents’ backyard and then blueberry picking while taking my “brother”, Teddy, on a walk. George was like his namesake, George Costanza, but with raspberries instead of shrimp (#jerkstore). 

Hazy successfully lived up to her “MAKE TODAY AWESOME” t-shirt.

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That’s at least a 5′ vertical.

Our blueberry picking walk was about 1 1/2 – 2 miles round trip, which might as well be 26.2 for my kids. They’re the worst walkers of any city kids I know. After about a mile, George asked if we could take a break. Then, he asked if we could play sports during the break. I’m not sure if he understands what a break is. Then, we played tag. The tree was base, but at one point, Hazy went to tag him, and George slid onto the ground, shrieking, “LAYING DOWN IS BASE!” You’ve got to admire his spirit.

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Quick, lie down!

Back at home, we had some lazy rainy day time watching women’s golf (which Opa has decided Hazy should pick up so she can be a millionaire at age 20), reading with Oma (George), and completely dominating Horsopoly (me). I mean seriously, I had like 20 hay bales (houses) and 3 stables (hotels).

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Horsopoly is almost exactly like Monopoly, except for one Horse Sense/Chance card that says you can either pay $50 or do your “best trot around the room” (pictured). What? Also, the colors are different, which really messes me up. 

At one point, George attempted to give Opa advice on Candy Crush, at which my dad is convinced he’s top-ranked in the world. (He may be right; he’s quite good.)

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“You’re showing the master how to play this game?!” Opa to George

When the sun finally came out, we went outside to play tennis ball games, namely (Don’t) Catch Then Run Down The Hill After The Ball & Try (And Fail) To Throw The Ball In The Bucket. I hope these are also sports in which they can become millionaires by age 20, because this is where we’ve invested most of our training time (this and pool somersaults).

Thank you, my village people, for giving us a place to stay at that’s even more fun than the YMCA.  (see what I did there?)

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Wishing for rosé, screen time, and more raspberries, respectively. 

Redemption Cove

I have this idea for a reality show called Redemption Cove. Redemption Cove would be an actual place (probably near the Bachelor in Paradise mansion in Mexico) where celebrities in the midst of PR scandals (like DeMario from the Bachelorette, Rob Kardashian, Shia Lebeouf) would live . Each week, they compete on redeeming themselves through charitable acts (building homes for the poor, teaching kids to read, etc) and each week America votes on who has redeemed themselves the most and earned another week in Redemption Cove. The last man/woman standing gets $500,000 donated to the charity of their choice. America loves a scandal and America loves a comeback story. Let’s remember whose idea this was when it gets picked up next season.

Wednesday was pretty rough, but yesterday, Hazy and George went to Redemption Cove. We put on our matching Malcontent shirts and head scarves (don’t ask, Hazy’s idea) and went shopping for materials for Year 3 of our Backpacks for the Homeless program.

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Remember when I said George does this in every selfie?
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Holla at Redemption Cove!

We went to Savers to buy backpacks and sweatshirts and we happened to find these glasses. We thought we’d take this opportunity to haunt your dreams. You’re welcome.

Then we hit Dollar Tree to buy the stuff to put inside the backpacks. We did toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shampoo, brushes (for the ladies), hand sanitizer, deodorant, first aid kits, chapstick, granola bars, fruit & grain bars, and those so-gross-they’re-good cheese cracker sandwiches. The first year we did 3 backpacks, last year we did 4 tote bags, but Hazy felt bad that we passed more homeless people after handing out all of our bags, so this year we decided to step it up to 8 bags. We wanted to do backpacks, but you try finding 8 non-embarrassing backpacks at Savers.

By this point, the kids were hangry (Hazy actually used the term “hangry”), so I made the mistake of letting them select their own dollar store snacks. Hazy had peanut butter-cracker sandwiches and George got a giant bag of cheese balls and executed Project Maximum Messiness: Hands Edition.

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What’s scarier is that ten minutes later, his hands weren’t orange anymore. 

Before we even had time to assemble our bags, we rushed off to lunch with our friend Alistair. Don’t tell the other homeless people, but we gave him the coolest bag with the best sweatshirt, because he’s our favorite.

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Super advanced selfie
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Super tatted selfie

Then we went back to our Harvard Square base, my old agency PJA (thank you for being awesome, PJA friends) to assemble our bags, with a quick break to take the Vend-a-friend quiz and find out which friend groups we fit into. George was a Snuggler (no surprise) and Hazy was a Hooligan. Wearing her Malcontent shirt and tucking her candy cigs into her back pocket, the shoe seemed to fit.

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Redemption doesn’t happen overnight, people.

We set up our assembly line right outside the main conference room, which was obviously brilliant planning by me. Nothing like yelling, “Use your inside voice, George!” repeatedly to keep a low profile. Luckily, our friend Hugh was one of the people in the conference room, and his only retribution was photo-bombing us.

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Ironic that this crew got two thumbs up from the EVP of Planning, am I right?

Hazy donated one of her old backpacks to the cause, but worried that no one would want it because it had her name in it. So she wrote “says take care” under her name. How cute is that? Each bag also got a card with a nice note signed by Hazy and George.

After we had assembled 8 awesome bags, we each carried as many as we could (Hazy – 3, Me – 4, George – 1), hit the streets and … put them back in the car because we had taken too long at lunch/Vend-a-Friend/candy eating and didn’t have time to actually hand them out before we had to hit the road to Plymouth.

So you’ll have to tune in at a later date for the thrilling conclusion of…

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p.s. Still shopping around for an executive producer/$500,000. Thanks.

The Fan’s Pretty Poopy, if you know what I mean

The day started off well enough, although I probably should’ve picked up on the signs . The kids had breakfast with Butterscotch, our borrowed guinea pig/poop machine, went through their shoe collection, and did some painting (a portrait of their favorite stuffie, a poop emoji they’ve named Big Poopi).

I’m going to come clean with you guys: my kids, while adorable and hilarious, are not the flawless angels you may think they are. There’s a reason we refer to them as “the turds” (yet another sign). Today, the turds were in rare form. I instituted a zero-tolerance policy for fighting and whining, and after explaining to them what zero-tolerance policy means, it went into effect. Ten minutes later, George was in time-out in his room. While he was up there, he asked if he could try on all his swim shorts. One thing led to another, and we ended up Kon Mari-ing the kids’ clothes.

Before (No pants required)

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After (we’re still working on Hazy’s)

Then we headed to Back Bay for Hazy’s annual check up (her birthday was in April; I’m totally on top of things), and then went for calorie maximizing donuts (let’s get that BMI up to the 4th percentile!).

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Hazy went for Donut of the Month; George went for Strawberry Frosted with “the most” sprinkles.

At this point, I was a little on edge from the frequent whining and fighting, but the fan was still relatively poop-free. Then we went grocery shopping.

I’m not ready to talk about the Grocery Store Showdown yet, but the short version is that George’s whining escalated into a full-scale temper tantrum, then he told me “no” when I told him to sit down for a time out, and the shi*t hit the fan. He was then physically removed by the store by the authorities (I’m the authority) and spent the rest of the grocery shopping time in the kiddie seat, asking repeatedly if he could “get out now.” He could not.

Whining, public tantrums, and insubordination are my hot button issues; any one of them or combination of them turns me into a female version of the Hulk but without the purple jorts. So while I’m sorry that picking out and pushing a shopping cart is more important to George than finding the lost ark was to Indiana Jones… actually I’m not sorry at all and couldn’t care less. I refuse to let the terrorists win, even if it’s my own child. The rest of the day was basically one long cheese and ice cream free time-out for George, his worst nightmare.

Hazy is either really empathetic, really smart, or both, because when George goes low, she goes high. She was on her best behavior, and even poured me a generous glass of rosé before dinner. Guess who’s getting to pick the shopping cart next time?

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“Mama, would you like some rosé?” I’ll take, Things an Angel Says for $200, Alex.

Let’s hope today’s a better day. I’m running low on patience and rosé.

How To Kill 10 Hours in 8 Easy Steps

Yesterday, we hung with Grammy at our house. Due to reasons beyond my control (rain, lack of planning skills), we didn’t really have the most robust plan. No worries, I’ve got plenty of things in my bag of tricks.

1. Puzzles

Personally, I love puzzles. I’m working on one right now. It has 1,000 pieces and it’s got puppies. Judge away, Judge Judy McJudgerson, but puppy puzzle + rosé + Netflix = my idea of a great evening. So, I was thrilled when the kids brought up their new set of five 150-piece Star Wars holographic puzzles.

I was slightly less than thrilled when I found out they had accidentally mixed all five puzzles’ pieces together and pretty much all the pieces fit together, even if they’re not the right ones. Also, fun fact: black holographic pieces all look exactly the same.

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The force is decidedly not with us.

2. Toy Pit Time

This is when I encourage the kids to play with each other without me. This is when I take some me-time to kick Brian H’s ass at Words With Friends.

3. Time Out Time

This is when I encourage (force) my kids to have some quiet time in their rooms after they’ve gotten into an idiotic fight about something like who looked at whom’s sticker book without permission, who is or is not the boss of whom, and who told whom they didn’t like them and other things I couldn’t care less about. Also, your move, Brian H.

4. Bring in reinforcements

In my case, Grammy. She’ll play any game and she’s up for anything. I’m pretty sure if we said we’re going to go rob a bank, she’d be like, “We can use my handicap placard to park the getaway car right out front.” God bless you, Grammy.

5. Bring on the long board games

I’m talking your Lifes and your Monopolies. Grammy hates Monopoly, but she still played, because, see #4. And bonus, the only jail time is imaginary.

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Grammy’s strategy is to buy nothing. “But you’ll just go bankrupt and lose!” “That’s my strategy.”

6. The preparing and eating of snacks

Here’s when George is hungry: breakfast, immediately after breakfast, a half hour after breakfast, after he’s had fruit after breakfast, after he’s had cheese after the fruit, and so on. I buy myself at least 45 minutes a day preparing and eating snacks. This is also just great parenting in general.

You know what you never think is that good in theory but then is indescribably good in practice? Pirate’s Booty. Discuss amongst yourselves.

7. Watch a movie! 

Preferably in the theater, because duh, drive time. We saw Despicable Me 3, which was exactly as good as you’d expect it to be. (Way better than Secret Life of Pets, way worse than Moana) I laughed out loud a few times, which is more than I can say for The Sweetest Thing.

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Photo acting direction: Make your best emoji face (Grammy: “What’s an emoji?”)

8. Go (window) shopping

My kids, especially Hazy, have blown up Skechers in their minds as the be-all, end-all of shoe stores. It’s their Manolo Blahnik.

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They got so excited to walk into this Skechers that George broke out in a spontaneous dance.

That is, if Manolo Blahnik designed high top sneakers that appear to have had Shimmer & Shine barf all over them.

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Yes, “STAY COOL,” Skechers.

This is how I imagine the Skechers designers’ presentation go. “So, it’ll just have sparkles on the tongue, sequins on the toe, emojis, cartoon foods and catch phrases on the sides, and a patch? Is that enough though?” “Of course not. Those sequins will light up.” “Add a conversation heart plus sunglasses on the pineapple and we have something.”

In a raw display of my iron strong Mom Power, I walked out of that place with ZERO SHOES PURCHASED. Saying no is a good mom’s secret weapon. (Please forget I said this when I buy Hazy a pair of Skechers in a couple of weeks.)

Special thanks to Grammy. I couldn’t have done it without you (literally).

 

 

Big Trouble In Little Compton

Just kidding, the worst thing we did was whine a little too much (George) and eat too much chicken parm (another one of us, name’s aren’t important). Yesterday, we kept it rocking in the city, city of (Little) Compton with our good friends Nina, Jack and Dee. Nina’s around Hazy’s age, Jack’s around George’s age, and Dee’s around my age, so it was like a triple play date.

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One of these kids is doing his own thing, and that thing is making himself as dirty as humanly possible.

We had a perfect beach day jumping in waves, boogie boarding, Air Jordanning off cliffs, fighting over sand toys, and totally not drinking shandies out of Swell bottles in an attempt to ignore the incessant fighting over sand toys.

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Hazy & Georgie, hopefully contemplating how lucky they are
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Look closely and you can see George holding up his shorts.

I’m so proud of Nina & Hazy for jumping off the diving board, and slightly less proud of the ice cream weight I’ve put on this summer. I’m totally gonna quit tomorrow.

Hazy stubbed and cut her toe and went to the lifeguard stand to get it cleaned out/bandaged. We did not realize she’d have an entire lifeguard medical team, including one in short shorts.

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Note to self: quit ice cream, then come back here and stub toe
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Dee calls this “cinnamon rolling yourself”; I call it “Wicked Gaming yourself.” Either way, it’s fun for the car ride home.

After I whipped George with a towel under the guise of “cleaning off the sand”, we headed back to Dee’s for outdoor showers and then went to the lovely Commons Lunch for dinner, because we’re rule-benders like that.

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Not pictured: Jack, posing ten feet to the left (“I’m in the shot!”)

And then, because we’re ice creamaholics, we went for ice cream.

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From a trolley. Because we’re also in a Wes Anderson film.
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This is pretty much our family crest.
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George’s summer project, Project Maximum Messiness, is going great. Thanks for asking.
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Five minutes after we left

About our shirts: I bought the kids and Matty these for Father’s Day. Incidentally, we just saw the Sandlot (for the first time for me and the kids) on Friday night, so now they’re really into it and the shirts. Yesterday morning, they wore them to surprise Matty, so he put his on too.

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After I took their photo, Hazy said I must feel left out, so I said, “maybe I’ll borrow Dada’s shirt.” To which she replied, “Yeah, because we’re killin’ ya.”

I’m thinking of making myself a shirt that says “SERENITY NOW!”

Rain Date

Friday, we were supposed to kick off our summer season with Grammy, but it was supposed to rain in NH. So we made plans to hang with Ariel and Dax since the Boston forecast was more optimistic. But it ended up pouring all day, so we had to go with Plan C. And if you know us, there is no Plan C.

Jem has Synergy, and I have the Boston Public Library site. I hit my star earring and found a really cool graphic novel event at the Central Library, which, believe it or not, we’d never been to.

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Everyone’s in charge of their own backpack and their own umbrella in our crew.
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Unfortunately, George often shirks his umbrella responsibilities and I’m left running after him yelling, “George, open your umbrella!” like a maniac.

At the library, Miss Julia led us through a read-through of Zita the Space Girl, with Hazy in the role of Zita. She crushed it. Then, the kids created their own stories. Hazy wrote one about a girl named Sophie (hmm) and George and I co-wrote, Dada The Super Farter. He did all the illustrations, including the one of Dada’s epic fart destroying an evil monster.

 

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The back cover says, “This is a book about farting.” I’d buy it.

After our literary excellence, we took out a bunch of graphic novels (including Romeo & Juliet!) and headed over to Chinatown for lunch. I wish you could’ve seen these kids house two orders of cha siu bao (BBQ pork buns), two orders of shumai (pork dumplings), har cheong fun (rice noodles with shrimp), and soup dumplings (fine, I helped with those). It was a sight to behold. George ate his fifth and final cha siu bao standing in front of the waitstaff and I think they were impressed.

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Those chopsticks aren’t a prop; she legit eats with them now.
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I think the guy in the back is uploading a video, “white kid eats like pig” on his phone.

Before heading home, we swung by Matty’s office for a quick hello/lightsaber battle.

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Thank you, Zack, for sharing your super cool lightsaber collection with us.
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Thank you, lady trying to work in the background, for pretending my kids aren’t incredibly distracting.
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“Matty, shouldn’t you say, ‘I’m your father’ or something?” “I am their father.” Sigh.

That was our first full week of official vacation, and like we did with the dim sum, we crushed it.

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Super advanced level selfie

Stay tuned next week for Big Trouble in Little Compton, a day with Grammy, continued adventures with Oma & Opa, and so much more.