Oma & Opa’s, H2OGO, and the Legoland No-Go

Let’s wrap up last week’s recap and mentally prepare ourselves for a week of no One Summer At Home. I’ll be on vacation – from life, the blog, and even — gasp — Facebook.

On Wednesday, we went to Oma and Opa’s, and, great news, no one got kicked out of the pool.  The other good news is that Rosie and Teddy are getting along quite well, if you count her stealing his bed again as “quite well.” But look how nicely they walk with Oma!

At the pool, we played some low-volume Marco Polo and I also introduced them to Sharks and Minnows, which we used to play at our neighborhood pool growing up. Our deep end was 8’6″, and in our version of Shark, the shark treaded water in the middle and yelled “Shark!” and then all the minnows would attempt to swim across the bottom of the pool to the other side. Since tag was too easy, the shark had to drag your body to the surface of the pool in order to catch you. This resulted in a lot of underwater fisticuffs and I believe helped prepare me for my short lived water polo career in college. For Hazy and George, I did a JV version where I was the shark and they couldn’t get tagged if they were underwater. I let them make it across a few times before completely annihilating them. I’m not a monster.

After we worked up an appetite playing games at the pool, we came home to a feast of Chinese “lion’s head.” Although Opa tried to convince George that it was in fact a lion’s head, lion’s head is in fact made up of ground pork meatballs (the head) with sauteed napa cabbage (the mane) and it’s exquisite.

 

Chinese "lion's head" meal
I ate until I felt sick and then ate a little more.

On Thursday, we stayed local. First, we did our popsicle walk with Rosie.

popsicle time
These poor kids can’t eat a GD popsicle without me making them take a selfie. Whatever. Guess who buys them those popsicles?

Then, we headed to our awesome new Jamaica Plain library, where I ambitiously/foolishly took out two books for myself to read on vacation. The turds busied themselves with searching for all the Star Wars books in the entire Boston Public Library.

computers at Jamaica Plain public library
“Help us find these 8,202 books please.”

Usually, my M.O. is that I buy fun activities at the beginning of the summer and tell the kids I’m gonna save them for a “special day” and then forget all about them until I clean the side closet sometime in October. But not this summer! I’ve already used the Giant Bubble kit, and Thursday I whipped out the H20GO triple water slide!

It was all fun and games until we decided to all go on the slide together. After all, it is a triple slide, right? I went in the middle and somehow ended up basically throwing my entire weight on George’s leg. Given that I launched myself pretty hard and also have eaten ice cream/popsicles 9 days out of 10 this summer, it wasn’t pretty. When the kids were babies, I could interpret what each of their different cries meant. It’s harder now, but I can definitely tell a fake cry from a real one, and sadly this was a real one. For a few tense moments, I thought I had broken his leg, but it turned out it was pretty superficial. I eventually got him to get back on the slide, as long as I promised not to go at the same time. You’ll be happy to know that George has his full leg strength back now and I have not been shamed out of eating frozen snacks.

Friday was another slow news day. The kids woke up fairly early and did some Star Wars themed coloring in the toy pit.

Star Wars fan art
I guarantee my kids can name more fictional Star Wars planets than real ones. Although, to my credit, I did recently teach them about Uranus so I could tell them the joke I made up. (“Which planet has the most poop on it?” “Uranus”)

I had planned on taking them to LegoLand. We have a couple of discount coupons and it’s one of their favorite places on earth. I’m also a fan, especially of the entire city of Boston made out of LEGO bricks. However, after the coloring, there was a whole lot of fighting and whining, and I just didn’t want to reward them for being so uncool. At lunch time, I asked them if they thought their behavior was worthy of a trip to LegoLand and they both said no. Sometimes they surprise me in their rare moments of self-awareness. So instead of going on rides and watching 4D movies (the 4th “D” is fake precipitation!), we did a quick jaunt to Ocean State Job Lot to look for some special unnamed dog treats that Rosie likes. Almost as exciting.

special shopping carts
Do anyone else’s kids embarrass them by running right into the motorized carts for disabled people?

We couldn’t find the mystery treats but found a designer impostor version and hoped for the best. We did find Star Wars Jell-O Jiggler molds though! [Fun fact: I used to work on the Jell-O account and the one thing that really stayed with me is that scientists did an EEG on a lime green Jell-O mold and found that its brain wave pattern was similar to that of a human brain.]

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The waiting is the hardest part.
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The second hardest part is that they didn’t actually like the taste of the Jigglers.
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You have to admit, they look pretty awesome though.

I’m happy to report that they were much less combative/whiny the rest of the day, so at night, we continued with our Star Wars theme and met Matty at the Hatch Shell to see Rogue One.

 

It was such a treat to hang out with the whole family (even Rosie!), plus Matty brought me a literal treat, this tropical drink freezer pop slushie thing. He loves me! Rosie got seriously alarmed when <SPOILER ALERT> the Death Star blew up Jedha, which made me think George’s repeated playings of the Imperial Death March had gotten through to her.

Must. Stop. Empire.

You’re now about to begin a full week without the OSAH blog. May the Force be with you.

 

Glorious Alone Time, Triumphant Return to Wingaersheek

I haven’t officially thanked my sponsor yet this summer, so huge thank you to my piece, Matthew O’Rourke, who brings home the bacon while I occasionally eat it on some kind of BLT lobster roll while gallivanting with our children. Not only does Matty financially sponsor me over the summer, missing out on all the fun while he’s at work, but he also has to deal with my frequent full-on kid handoff to him the second he gets back from work. It’s like I’m back on maternity leave, except instead of handing over a newborn, I’m like, “They’ve been whining all day. I’ll be in my bathroom with this rosé. Also, the dog needs a walk.” To top it all off, I went to a wedding in Long Island with my friend Ajit last weekend, and Matty held down the fort solo like a champ. Thank you, Matty. You are the hot butter on my lobster roll.

Matty, Hazy and George are my three absolute favorite people on Earth (sorry, other people on Earth), but I have to admit, sometimes it’s pretty nice to have some me-time. I took the train to NYC, and had four hours to read, do some work, and take a quick power nap. (I also got assaulted by a 3-year old via head butt, but that’s another story.) I got to see some old friends in NYC (shoutout, Misong & Francois!) and Ajit and I totally dominated this wedding. There was a little framed sign about a photo scavenger hunt and one of the items was “worst dancer in action.” Ajit and I took this as a challenge.

Worst dancer? More like best dancer!

We tore it up to everything from Taylor Swift to the Beastie Boys and dominated that dance floor. I also dominated the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet, because Matty wasn’t around to shame me. I showed him! And my pants. On the train ride back, I stopped by my favorite hole in the wall sushi joint, Canaan, and made it onto my train one minute before departure time.

sushi from Canaan NYC
Special bonus: no children head butted me during this train ride!

When I got back on Monday, the family met me at the train station and we walked to Chinatown for dinner. We tried out a place, Bubar Cha Cha (five stars for the name alone!) and they had both shumai (shrimp/pork dumplings) and char siu bao (BBQ pork buns), so the kids loved it. Chinese whole steamed fish is always a favorite dish of mine, because it reminds me of one my Nana makes. Theirs was really good, once I took off the mountain of cilantro, the devil’s herb.

whole steamed fish
That’s how I feel about cilantro too, G.

On Tuesday, we were back to full speed OSAH action, and we went to our favorite beach, Wingaersheek.

Wingaersheek Beach
Look how many people George got to kick sand on during his sprints to and from the water!

We spent most of our time splashing in the water and digging this hot tub/mud bath. If you haven’t attempted to dig a hot tub sized hole while simultaneously building a wall to create a deep pool of water and prevent the incoming tide from coming in, well then you haven’t truly worked out. Advanced level: do it with the third-best shovel in your arsenal, because your “teammates” insist on using #1 and #2. On the plus side, the kids did enjoy the resulting hot tub/mud bath quite a bit.

You might think we get ice cream every day, but you don’t know us! For example, on this day, we got Italian ices.

Living our best life

team selfie at Wingaersheek
It’s good to be back, turds.

Remember: summer’s not over until we say it is, and we’re not calling it yet.

Ooh Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Last Friday, we went to the very place that made Belinda Carlisle not feel afraid anymore: Shoppers World. This is how excited we were!

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That’s right; we went to Friday’s on a Friday. “It’s always Friday in here,” said the sign. Duh.

The big draw of Shoppers World for me was HomeSense, TJX’s new home store. But they already have HomeGoods, you might say. Yes, but HomeSense is HomeGoods winning its 7th Tour de France if you know what I mean. Instead of one shelf of throw pillows, they have six; instead of one clearance night stand and a sleigh bed, they have a full furniture section; instead of one aisle of breakable things, they have seemingly endless aisles of breakable things…you get the picture.

all the throw pillows at HomeSense
Look at all these throw pillows!
kids at homesense
Here’s how we felt about me giving the “you owe me a dollar for every breakable thing you touch in this store” speech again.

We bought a guest room (toy pit) comforter and a throw blanket (for Rosie’s crate). As we waited in the checkout line, a HomeSense employee gave us each a melty Hershey’s Kiss, which is a great thing to do to the mother of two unruly children in the don’t-touch-anything-everything-is-white section of a newly opened store. More like Home-No-Sense, am I right?

But wait, there’s more? Shoppers World/Heaven also has a TJ Maxx, my other favorite store. There, we came really close to buying this Betsey Johnson unicorn hoodie backpack.

Betsy Johnson unicorn hoodie backpack
It’s really quite practical if you think about it.

George was in charge of pulling our mini-cart, and at one point I turned around and he had put on this purse. “I’m a mom at TJ Maxx!” Nailed it, George.

shopping at TJ Maxx
The face is what really makes it.

Since the kids indulged me at my places, I let them go to Toys R Us. Believe it or not, I think it may have been their first time. We mostly buy toys at Boing, our local JP toy store, or from Amazon or Target. They certainly acted like it was their first time.

kids at Toys R Us
Minds = blown

You can’t stay in Heaven forever, otherwise it’s too hard to return to earth. And return to earth we had to, to give Rosie her new Dozer Donut dog bed which the kids had selected after head-to-head testing of dog beds.

kids testing dog beds
George’s was comfy, but not Dozer Donut comfy
new Dozer Donut dog bed
Kid tested, Rosie approved.

I’m still a week behind on the blog. So stay tuned for what happened when I ditched my family for a wedding, on our first Wingaersheek trip of the summer, during our weekly visit with Oma & Opa, the day we finally whipped out the H20GO water slide, and the time the kids bickered their way out of a trip to LegoLand. Life’s a beach and so is your mother when you’re being turds.

We’ll always have Shoppers World though. It truly did lift us up in a wave of love.

 

Fun* On a Budget

It can’t be all lobster rolls and boat tours (wait, can it?), so last Thursday, we attempted to have some fun on a budget.

After breakfast, we took Rosie on a long walk and enjoyed some popsicles from home. These Mango Outshine Fruit Bars are a new house favorite, and while they are in no way a sponsor of OSAH, we would be totally open to that. They’re much cheaper than going out for ice cream (we should know), plus I’m pretty sure I used a coupon when I bought them. (Thanks, Dad!)

Budget ice cream
This doesn’t go towards our ice cream count, right?

Then, since Matty and I had a meeting downtown anyway, we met up with him for lunch in Chinatown. Since I’m with the kids every day and Matty’s at work during the week, he gets celebrity status when he’s around and I fourth-wheel it.

time with dad
Hey guys, I’ll catch up with you later. It’s cool. – Chopped Livs

We went to our favorite Chinatown bakery, the aptly named Great Taste, which also happens to have a little dim sum cafe next door. George discovered an enchanting boy in the mirror and instantly fell in love.

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. You are amazing.

I count dim sum as cheap, because I can get my kids to eat about 1200 calories in one meal and a char siu bao is only $1.50. Granted, George can put away 4-5 of them, but still.

After dim sum, we headed home to hang with Rosie and go to the (home) nail salon. I painted Hazy’s nails, she painted mine, and we both painted George’s, after George’s multiple failed attempts to paint his own. He did, however, paint the bathroom floor, his hands, and his clothing. George insisted on hovering over Hazy while she painted his toes, which made her angrier than my pedicurist the time Hazy broke the armrest off the pedicure chair. Thankfully, the armrest snapped back on and Hazy did not punch George in the face, although it was dicey for a sec in both instances.

kid nail salon
Don’t let the cuteness fool you, she was ready to murderball him.

Ever the professional, Hazy still did two coats each of two colors.

Once our nails were “dry,” which the kids determined by constantly touching the polish, we went back-to-school shopping at the ultimate low-budget location, Savers. If you’re not familiar with Savers, it’s a department store/thrift store, like Goodwill but huge and much more organized. And we love it. I buy a lot of the kids’ clothes there because you can find all sorts of treasures and they’re crazy cheap. Case in point: this seersucker suit I wanted to get for George for $9.99.

kids' seersucker suit at Savers
I’m still regretting not buying this.

I texted this photo to Matty and he put the kibosh on it as George has previously had a seersucker suit and only wore it once or twice. But let’s take a look at how he looked during that limited wear:

kids' seersucker suit
I’d pay a million dollars for this. Or, say $9.99.

I was a fool to listen to Matty. I’m sure some savvy shopper has already snatched up this steal.

clothes from Savers
Just a few of our gems, each for less than $4.

I’m pretty sure we even had leftovers for dinner. I think someone’s earned herself a lobster roll this week.

 

*”Fun” subject to interpretation. If you’re into picking up dog poop in a little bag, dealing with two small people’s hangriness before your own, cleaning up spilled nail polish off your bathroom tile, breaking up fights about home pedicures and who gets the last shumai, yelling at kids not to touch their wet nail polish, and regretting not buying adorable seersucker suits, this is totally fun.

How To Get Kicked Out of the Stonebridge Pool

The Stonebridge Pool is at the Pinehills, where my parents live. As you may have noticed, we go there almost every Wednesday. Last Wednesday was special for two reasons: 1) it was free ice cream sundae day! and 2) George got kicked out!

ice cream for everyone!
Happier times before the Incident

You’d think the pool at a mostly-retirees place would be pretty laid back about the rules, but they’re actually super intense. These are the things that we’ve found out the hard way that you’re not allowed to do at the Stonebridge Pool:

  • Jump in
  • Dive for coins
  • Splash
  • Play catch
  • Run
  • Walk briskly
  • Play Marco Polo at above a conversational volume (“Marco.” “Polo.”)
  • Put one end of a pool noodle on the water jet
  • “Surf” on each other (I lie on the bottom of the pool, they stand on my back and then I wiggle around.)

But we’ve done all these things and lived to see another day at the pool. So what horrendous crime did George commit? He got mad at Hazy, had a temper tantrum, and then threw his goggles in (the area of) her face. The lifeguards were actually surprisingly okay with this, but we disagree on a lot of things (surfing is awesome!) and this is one of them. Whining, tantrums, and throwing stuff are my pool no-no’s, so I told George to please pack his knives and go. Just kidding, of course knives aren’t allowed at the Stonebridge Pool.

I’ll admit, I’m as guilty as the next mom of empty threats (“If you do that again, we’re going home. Okay, seriously, one more time and we’re going home.”) but this time I delivered. And it felt glorious. George started whining and I said, “If you’re going to act this way, I’ll take you home and Hazy and Oma can hang at the pool by themselves.” Things escalated, eyewear was flung, and I went into badass mode. He couldn’t believe it.

Hazy with Oma poolside
The Non-Whiners Club (They had a blast together.)

People who didn’t throw Speedo paraphernalia at others got to chill poolside and play Marco Polo (at a moderate volume) to their heart’s content. Goggle launchers and their innocent mothers headed home for time out/a conference call (that timing worked out nicely). At least we had good company, as Opa always stays home when we go to the pool, ostensibly to hang with the dogs, but I bet he also prefers his Marco Polo loud and proud.

Two dogs and a grandpa
Opa and his doggies

That evening, after everyone talked it out and we agreed whining/swim accessory assaults were uncool, we enjoyed another fantastic meal at Chez Opa’s.

Tofu and chicken
This is my dad’s Tofu & Chicken and it’s ludicrously (and Ludacris-ly) awesome.

Not to be outdone, Oma’s stepped up her dessert game considerably. Now she customizes desserts. For example, ice cream with “sapphire glitter crystals” (Hazy’s words) for the kids, and a blackberry Napoleon for me. And yes, it has a mint leaf and everything.

On the drive home, Hazy asked me, “Know what I want to be when I grow up?” Previously, she’d planned to be a part-time dentist and part-time restauranteur, so I was prepared for something along those lines. The surprising answer? “The biggest Emma Watson fan in the world!” Dream big, baby, dream big.

The Trifecta

Three playdates in one day? Piece of (ice cream) cake. Just kidding, I’ve basically spent the past week recovering.

But who wouldn’t want to do back to back to back playdates with these two angels/best friends?

BEST FRIENDS shirt set
Shouldn’t they say BEST FRIENDS instead of BEST FRIEND? They’re still two people; they don’t combine to make one best friend.

On Tuesday, as you may recall, we were ready to have our date with the Campions. But as the Campions had to fit in all their favorite Boston things (Ice cream! Playgrounds! More ice cream!) in a week’s visit, they had a justifiably jam-packed schedule. So first, we did Baby Pool/Giant Bubble Redux with Dee, Nina & Jack.

PLAY DATE #1: BUBBLE POOL PARTY

While I filled up the pool, Hazy & George filmed a spy movie.

water guns and baby pool
Also, this is the first time George’s torso has seen the sun.

I’m proud to say that Hazy continued her complete baby pool domination.

girl dominates baby pool
I am girl. Hear me roar!

Don’t worry, the giant bubble crockpot was still in action.

front yard baby pool
Maybe this means George has ended his Pantsless Era and entered a shirtless one?

PSA: Don’t leave your real camera unattended with kids around. They all think they’re professional photographers.

kid photography
That being said, great shot, Nina.

We concluded Play Date #1 with a picnic lunch.

picnic in the yard
Spaghetti and quesadillas, you know, regular picnic food
Rosé all day
Ignore our attempted “cool” faces and focus instead on our rosé on the rocks (our serving suggestion for darker rosés).

Then we hosed off the kids and headed to…

PLAY DATE #2: ADVENTURE IN THE ARBORETUM

Avid OSAH readers (I heart you, Nina and Ashley!) might recall that we did Discovery Backpacks at the arboretum two years ago. Well, we went to meet the Campions at the arboretum (their only instructions, “Bring balls! #BALLS”) and my kids also remembered about the backpacks, so we picked one up from the lady at the main building.

Zoolander school
HOW CAN WE BE EXPECTED TO TEACH CHILDREN TO READ IF THEY CAN’T EVEN FIT INSIDE THE BUILDING? (That’s right, same joke I made two years ago. Still funny.)

I like to think we surprised and delighted the Campions with the Discovery Pack idea, because Kevin also got one and we had a lot of fun exploring nature. The packs include cool things like a set of binoculars for your kids to fight over, a magnifying glass for your kids to lose, and a magnifying box for your kids to play junior sociopath with. We trapped two bugs in ours!

Seriously though, they were fun. They give you a set of little cards with different things to find.We found almost everything except a juice box and a salamander, but not for lack of trying. The kids even spotted a tiny snake, which is what they’re all looking at in the photo above.

kids exploring nature
George magnifying the magnifying box. No juice box in there.
dogs in nature
Rosie helped us score the dog card. Good girl, Rosie.

We also had some fun climbing trees until we got busted by a park ranger. Pshaw. When I was a kid, we’d climb all the trees and break all the arms and no one gave a damn. We didn’t even have those fancy colored casts!

You didn’t think I forgot about the #BALLS, did you? After we’d had our way with nature, we played a game of Spud. (I totally forgot that’s what it’s called and just googled “playground game throw ball in the air and call a number.” But that’s a much less catchy name than Spud.) We didn’t remember all the rules, but we played a modified version of what we could remember from Maryann, Kevin and I’s combined childhoods and it was awesome. Then when we were all sweaty and tired and Rosie was emotionally exhausted from watching her mom run away from her repeatedly, we got – what else? – ice cream. (Cross JP Licks off your list, Campions.)

JP Licks
Believe it or not, this was our best group shot.

In case you needed convincing, here were some of the outtakes (click on them to view them full size):

To make up for traumatizing Rosie during Spud, I treated her to JP Lick’s doggy ice cream.

doggy ice cream
Treat yo self, Ro

She forgave me.

Normal people would call it a day now and go home for a nap, but I think we all know we’re not normal people. We hugged the Campions goodbye and headed to…

PLAY DATE #3: SHOWDOWN AT THE BROWN PLAYGROUND

We hadn’t actually planned on a third play date, but my friend Rosa happened to text me on our way home and we still had an hour to kill before dinner. People who ask me how I do it don’t understand that getting out of the house is my #1 secret to “doing it” (not that it, pervs); hanging out in the house is the kiss of death. Plus, I love Rosa and we knew we’d have fun with her kids, Mira and Ezra.

One of my favorite things about JP is that all the families have different nicknames for the various playgrounds. We have the Sand Playground (Brewer St), the Brinkler (Sprinkler) Park Playground (Green St), the Tot Lot (Rossmore-Steadman), and the Brown Playground (Williams St by the train tracks). On our way to the Brown Playground, we ran into my nephew, Ryan, who came and joined us. This play date keeps getting better!

At the Brown Playground, the kids played in the giant brown structure (hence the name), on this rickety giant metal seesaw thing which is a total death trap, and then got pushed on a tire swing by some dad that Rosa knows who’s apparently some kind of Super Dad/saint who puts us all to shame. I believe that in addition to being a total hands on dad, he’s also a rocket scientist/genetic researcher/cancer doctor and rescues kids in India or something equally impressive. Rosa and I discussed this while looking at our phones on a bench while Super Dad pushed his kids and ours on the tire swing, and made up fun swinging-related games while doing so.

After play date #3, we were pretty exhausted. Unfortunately, RyRy only had enough room to carry two people, and somehow I got the short end of the stick.

Cousins!
Fine. I guess I’ll just walk? That’s cool.

Thank you to everyone who helped make our day action-packed as fun as it was. We slept well that night/the rest of our lives.

It’s getting to be crunch time. What do we need to make sure we do before the summer’s over?

Case of the Mondays Averted

I may be a little bit running out of steam. I mean, I’m still doing “adventures” and “activities,” but maybe they’re more like, “We’re going to TJ Maxx!” and “we’re making ice out of water!” And unless you’re fighting to make someone wear pants every day and trying to remember the number of points you’ve subtracted/added for whining about wearing pants/fighting over who gets to use Math Slam which is a nerd electronic game we actually have/playing nicely, you don’t get to judge. On Monday, I had no plans whatsoever (maybe make ice later?), but thankfully, our friends Kevin, Maryann, Mason & Emery were in town and shot over a text. They moved to Cali last year, and we’ve missed them bigly.

We kept it pretty chill (not making ice chill, but you know) and just played in the baby pool and made some giant bubbles. I was impressed that Hazy held her own (bucket) and successfully defended her pool from all comers.

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Conclusive proof: Girls rule, boys drool.

I invented a new race in the baby pool, the One Legged Race. You get disqualified if you fall down.

It should be noted that I beat Kevin (not pictured) handily/one-leggedly. We also played a classic game: bellyflop contest.

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The Winner = the spectators

Emery is a big dog lover, so Rosie got a lot of (too much?) attention.

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This is her “yay” face and totally not a cry for help.

I bought this giant bubble kit at Stop & Shop for $3.99 (crockpot sold separately). We had about $50 worth of fun with it.

Quick break from our sponsor: popsicles.

backyard popsicles
That’s our corn stalk in the foreground. #ambitious

I’m pretending we went back into the pool, but really, as soon as I finished filling the pool with water, the kids decided they wanted to get changed and go play in the toy pit.

baby pool
Come on guys, this is just like the toy pit, but with water and less breakable stuff!

We ended the afternoon with a special appearance by Maryann (not pictured), who braved the toy pit with us. Thank you, Campions, for curing our case of the Mondays! Stay tuned for Part II of our Campion adventures, which, rest assured, won’t be called Case of the Tuesdays. Or will it? Dun dun dun…