All posts by bertandorduke

Cake (House) By The Ocean

Remember that week mid-August that OSAH went black? We were at the Cake House (what two-year old Hazy called our Cape House) with our friends the Chans and the Ostroms. We’ve done a Cape vacation with some combination of these two awesome families almost every year since 2011 and it was no time to mess with perfection.

This year, our buddy Matt outdid himself by getting us a special ballerz deal on a totally sick house that we would never ordinarily be able to afford.

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Hazy pictured for scale

The house featured a tennis court, pool, pool table, piano, wine cellar, an elliptical machine, and a bathtub with jets in every room. This was perfect for us because, as you know, we’re extremely sporty, cultured and fancy.

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We didn’t want to put our box wines in the wine cellar because w̶e̶ ̶d̶i̶d̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶o̶ ̶d̶o̶w̶n̶s̶t̶a̶i̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ it’s not classy.

Here’s a secret: at a certain point, having more kids is easier than having fewer kids. They basically entertain and police each other. Maybe the Duggars are onto something. (Just kidding, I don’t trust anyone who names their kid Spurgeon.) So even though we were outnumbered eight to six, things went pretty smoothly. It helped that they got along great.

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The little people, from left to right: George, Jesse, Hazy, Evie, Orla, Eliot, Paloma & Estela
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O’Rourke kids proving that months (years?) of photo acting training have paid off.

This crew enjoyed swimming in the pool, playing at the beach, eating ice cream, watching horrible kids’ shows, playing hide & seek, having covert meetings in the “lighthouse”(crow’s nest), and raising their hands if they’re awesome (my photo trick) together.

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They also gave each other mani/pedis:

Engaged in intelligent conversation at a restaurant:

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Just kidding, they watched videos on an iPhone, the greatest gift to parents in the modern world.

And they held up traffic in the most adorable way:

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Honk! Honk! Awww…

Having a pool at your vacation house is like having the Fritos & chili-topped burger at the Gallows; it’s hard to go back to a regular vacation house/burger after that.

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See if you can spot all 13 of us in/around the pool. The 14th person (me) took the picture.
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The 4-year olds were fast friends/a love triangle. More on that later.
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We had a lot of fun playing this game where the dads would throw the big kids and they would try to catch a football midair.
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With pretty ladies like this poolside, can you blame anyone for wanting to stay there all the time?

Post pool, we took advantage of all those hot tubs. Fun fact: Burt’s Bees bath soap makes better bubbles than Aveeno bath soap. Other fun fact: if you leave the kids unattended while the tub fills, you’ll end up with a Bobby Brady overflow situation.

For a while, George and Paloma had a little romance brewing.

I mean, it’s hard to resist this:

Despite George’s strong game, Paloma eventually moved on to Eliot, and George set his sights on an older, more mature lady, Estela, who was very kind about humoring him.

Young romance wasn’t the only excitement though. We also jumped off a bridge (!). Hazy, Jesse, Evie, and even Eliot and George jumped off. It was about 30 feet above the water.

And, we went bowling. A great time was had by all, but more importantly, I beat Matty.

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Pretend this isn’t out of focus, thanks. Also: note the look of resignation on Matty’s face.

Plus, we had some pretty epic dance parties.

Even though the kids wanted to go to the pool all the time, we did strong-arm them into going to the beach quite a bit. You know your kids are spoiled when they throw fits about “having to go to the beach.” When I was your age, kids, I’d be lucky if I got to make my own beach by sanding down a rock and sprinkling it in front of a plastic kiddie pool full of hose water with store brand table salt in it.

BTW, if you didn’t know, MAD Magazine is a big hit among the 4-7 year old set.

And of course, there was ice cream. Matty and I love ice cream so much, we snuck out and got some while we told the kids we were going grocery shopping. George loves ice cream so much, it makes him levitate.

You’re a real life fantasy, Cake House.

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Is your screen dirty? Probably. Because this picture is totally in focus.

I-I-I-I keep on hoping we were at the cake house by the ocean. (Sorry, not sorry for getting that song in your head.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I’m Totally Not Winking At You.

I’ve mentioned this before, but George and I play a game where we wink at each other and then totally deny it. “Were you just winking at me?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

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Not winking.

Now I’m playing an elaborate version of the winking game but about summer ending, and my time with the kids coming to an end. Hazy started second grade today. I’m not w̶i̶n̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ crying.

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I can still remember taking this photo.
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She doesn’t even try to eat the sign anymore. Sniff.

The nice thing about 2nd grade is that Hazy has a bunch of friends, pictured here in their Breakfast Club shoot.

Once Hazy was in school, George and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Just kidding, we played trains for like 8 hours. Then we went and met Matty for lunch, and George terrorized the businesspeople of Back Bay by insisting on going through all their revolving doors multiple times.

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(Please continue to wait, businessmen.)

After school, we made Hazy’s dreams come true by picking her up at “walkers” and then I wheeled their asses over to JP Licks in the Mac Wagon and got them ice cream. Must. Hang. On. To. Summer.

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Who are you wearing? “Let’s hang out!” sloth shirt, chocolate ice cream mustache. Follow Hazy’s fashion twitter account at @juniorfashionista

Tomorrow, Hazy tackles Day 2 and George and I head to Harvard Square for some hijinks with Ariel, baby Dax, and Dez. Monday, George starts kindergarten and I start actually working, like not on a Magnatile home. Gulp.

Still Summer

I’m having a hard time letting go of summer. It’s my favorite season: lobster rolls, rosé, beaches, the Cape, sprinkler parks, pools, they’re all my jam. Most of all, it’s an absolute gift to spend every day with my kids. They may occasionally whine, step on my feet, spill my drinks, bicker over stupid things like who gets to push the elevator buttons, and have a shaky understanding of gratitude, but they’re also two of the most hilarious, loving, sweet people in the world, and I know I’m incredibly lucky to have this time with them.

Hazy started school today (sob), and George starts on Monday. In the days leading up to today, we did our damnedest to hold on to every little bit of summer vacation.

On Tuesday, we went to our favorite free sock supplier, Boston Bowl, for some bowling and arcade fun with our friends, the Shannons.

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Pretty intimidating, right?
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I think George’s look sums up how we all felt about Melissa kicking our butts.
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Is it awesome that I beat the kids this time, or sad that I felt the need to take a photo and then post it on my blog to prove that I beat a 4-year old and 7-year old at candlepin bowling? Awesome, right?

Proving our arcade prowess once again, we spent $20 on games and “won” a gummy burger, a Fun Dip packet, a bottle of bubbles (not champagne), and two champagne poppers (also not champagne).

(6th and 4th place might not seem too impressive, until you realize they can barely reach the pedals.)

Thank you, Melissa, Zoe & Alexis for spending your last day of summer vacation with us!

On Wednesday, when the Shannon kids had to go back to school (sorry, Zoe & Alexis!), we had one more day of freedom. Here I will offer my do’s and don’t’s for the last day of summer vacation.

DO: get the kids a special treat, like Slurpees™

DON’T: let the kids get their own “test sips” from the machine.

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Sorry, lady who has to mop up after George. Believe me when I say I know your pain.

DO: Take them to do a special activity, like painting pottery.

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Look at these adorable artists! Hazy painted a box with an owl lid. She painstakingly chose her colors and then carefully did a different color on each side and filled in a stencil of an anchor on the inside.

DO: encourage their artistry

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George used every color known to man and swirled them all together, in so many layers that the pottery lady told us it would most likely explode in the kiln. After I removed many, many layers with a wet brush and wet paper towels, George stenciled on a pineapple and then glasses (natch), and it actually came out pretty awesome.

DON’T: assume you can leave your 4-year old unattended for a long stretch of time.

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I heard, “Mama, I gave myself a new hairdo with water and soap!” and then walked into this. Thankfully, I don’t think he used toilet water.

DO: take advantage of a free photo booth

DO: make something for the kindergarten meet & greet picnic

DON’T: make English muffin pizzas. The splitting (fork-split my ass) and toasting are tedious.

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You’re welcome, incoming Curley school kindergarteners and your families.

DO: teach your 7-year old self-sufficiency while you curse the day you decided to make two dozen English muffin pizzas.

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Is human detangler okay for doll hair? Do I care?

DO: beam with pride as your 4-year old gets super excited for school and even makes his first new kindergarten friend at the orientation.

 

DON’T: leave all your back-to-school prep work for the morning of the first day of school and then turn into a harpy on the first day of school breakfast table yelling at your daughter to hurry up and color in her “first day of 2nd grade” sign like a maniac. Not that I would do that. I’m a parenting expert.

DO: leave me a comment in the comments section. I like comments the way Hazy and George like Slurpees™.

 

 

More Like Leisure Day Weekend, Am I Right?

A few years ago, a random older woman in a store told Matty and I we were very wealthy. As I straightened up and checked out my outfit to see if I had my fancy jorts on, she clarified that she meant our two beautiful, healthy kids. I’d like to say I never forgot her words, but in truth, I was only reminded by today’s Timehop. The old, meddlesome lady was right though, we are very wealthy in family and friends.

This past weekend was no exception; we went to visit our beloved friend Staci at her new vacation home in Woodstock, NY. The icing on the fantastic cake that is Staci is that she just got a brand new schnoodle (shnauzer-poodle) puppy, named Cletus. Cletus is the Cutest Puppy In The World and we fell in love with him.

First, Staci took us to an awesome swimming hole called the Big Deep. First of all, when do you get to go to a swimming hole? Secondly, how cool is that name? We collected river rocks, bathed in the Fountain of Youth, and I executed a zero-splash entry jump.

Cletus tired himself out digging an old-fashioned hole and generally being adorable.

Other Leisure Day Weekend activities included George performing Uptown Funk (“Hot Mess”) for Staci, hiking through a postcard, Matty attempting to teach the kids (and me) how to skip rocks, window shopping in the adorable downtown and hammock time with my best girl. (Click on the photos to make them bigger.)

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This also happened.

Staci even threw us a Leisure Day BBQ, complete with special guests, David and Trip, the couple she bought her house from. David made these pies! I made jalapeno margaritas! Staci made everything else, including a watermelon salad served in its own rind, which blew Hazy and George’s minds.

At the BBQ, the kids had an epic dance party with their new friend, Jack. They danced to Can’t Stop The Feeling, Uptown Funk (“Hot Mess”), and Fight Song. It’s hard to pick their best album cover.

It wouldn’t be a complete Leisure Weekend without some lawn sports, so we played some Bocce and badminton. If they awarded badminton points for game faces, George and I would’ve smoked the competition.

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Unfortunately, Matty’s partner went to tennis camp this summer and mine was more interested in eating stone fruits.

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3rd peach of the day, and it wasn’t noon yet.

The kids especially enjoyed playing with Staci. Their top game was Tag, which involved tagging Staci and then calling everything and everyone base so she could never tag them back. This old-school Staying Alive marble game, where they teamed up against her every time, was a close second.

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This table is base!
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p.s. Staci, you’re it.
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Here we are pretending no one whined about “hiking” 0.2 miles. I teach a photo acting master class, if anyone’s interested. 

Thank you for our first (hopefully of many) Leisure Day Weekend, Staci! We love you, your sweet puppy, and your lovely house*.

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Peace & Love!

 

*Well, as you know, George doesn’t love it, since he outright told you, “I don’t like your house.” We apologize for his uncouthness.

 

 

 

Moose Out Front Shoulda Told Ya.

Yesterday, we had our own real life WallyWorld incident. Matty and I had been planning to take the kids to Canobie Lake Park, where they had the time of their lives last summer. Unfortunately, we are horrible planners and it turns out Tuesday was the last summer weekday the park was open. We thought we were total heroes when we discovered, Quassy Park, the apparent Canobie Lake of Connecticut.

So, Matty took the day off of work, we drove two and a half hours to Connecticut, and then we paid for all day fun passes to Quassy Park.

The world was our oyster! We were so excited.

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Look at these faces!
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And this one!
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We love it already!

It was a little drizzly/overcast, but we had already called and confirmed they’d still be open in the rain, so we didn’t have a care in the world.

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Even when this giant snake tried to eat George!

Then, we went to grab some lunch in the Quassy restaurant. While waiting in the incredibly long line, Hazy came over and told me she overheard some parents telling their kids that the rides were all closing. I told her that’s probably just something some parents are saying because they want to leave, because obviously, Quassy wasn’t going to charge us for all day fun passes plus parking, tell us they stay open in the rain, and then close due to rain. Especially when the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds.

Because only complete jerks would do that.

Only complete jerks who wanted to incur the wrath of an extremely successful blogger with tens (dozens?) of readers who will now throw so much shade at them, they will now truly know the meaning of “inclement weather.”

If you haven’t figured it out, these complete jerks closed the park. Less than an hour after we got there. We’d gone on two rides (one if you’re George) and climbed on some plaster animals. Hazy had even rung the GREAT DAY bell, which the kids insisted on ringing as we were leaving, while I yelled, “don’t ring that bell! Don’t give them that satisfaction!”

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Ironic bell ringing, I assure you

It was sunny and hot out when we left the park, with our free passes in hand for next season. They did not refund our parking or the two and a half hours of my life I spent listening to “Fight Song” and “I’m a Gummy Bear” on the car ride down though, and that left almost as bad a taste in my mouth as the “grilled” “chicken” they served in the Quassy restaurant. #BURN

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I’ll be sending this along with my strongly worded letter of complaint.

But like Jake and the Neverland Pirates (oh god, I hate myself), we never say never. So, we packed up and took the kids to a pretty little beach we’d noticed across the lake from Quassy. Unfortunately, the pretty little beach ended up being member’s only, and Matty left his jacket at home. So we went to plan D (remember, Quassy was already plan B): Dave & Buster’s. Turns out we could’ve just taken them there, because they were pleased as punch.

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Quassy, schmassy

Dave & Buster’s has something for everyone: beer, motorcycles, Fruit Ninja, Ghostbusters. Tell me you don’t like at least one of those things.

Also, there’s nothing my kids like more than using points-won-playing-video-games to buy tchotchkes. If you offered them a thousand dollars or one hundred Dave & Buster’s points, I’m pretty sure they’d take the points and then buy one junky plastic toy, one junky plastic accessory, and however much candy the remaining points would allow.

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You only have to play about $40 worth of Fruit Ninja to “win” this bow!

So, the day might not have gone as planned, but the important thing is that we got some family time, and took our requisite face-in-hole photos.

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That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, Quassy. Scuba Diver Hazy is not impressed with your customer service and NEITHER AM I.

The Natives Are Getting Restless

And by natives, I mean the turds, and by restless, I mean whiny and annoying. Hazy and George have not been on their best behavior, so when we got to Oma and Opa’s on Wednesday, we skipped all morning activities. I offered up George’s newfound toilet-cleaning skills to Oma, but for some reason she didn’t want them to associate her house with toilet cleaning. Oma took control while I had some me-time at CVS. I’m a master CVS shopper (top 7%), so for me, shopping at CVS is like Will Hunting solving MIT math problems. I just needed someone to repeat, “it’s not your fault” about my kids’ bickering.

By post-nap time, I thought they had redeemed themselves enough to go to the pool. Because it was overcast/drizzly out, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

Oma played lifeguard while the kids practiced some new skills: a flip for Hazy and jumping in sans life vest or catcher for George. My favorite part of Hazy’s flip is that it takes about 10 minutes to execute, and my favorite part of George’s jumps is that he actually hops on the concrete like it’s a diving board.

 

This week in Education by Opa: shark documentaries. (Thankfully, this was after our Cape vacation.)IMG_5795

Is it weird that I live for Wednesday night dinner? I would drive two hours round trip just for my dad’s cooking.

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Wednesday’s menu:  Chinese steamed fish, sautéed spinach, and Opa eggs (not pictured, but George destroyed them).

It’s hard to believe we only have one more Wednesday at Oma and Opa’s before school starts. It’s been an incredible gift to be able to see my mom and dad every week and have my kids have this time with their grandparents. Plus, it’s nice to give them an injection of some good German and Chinese old-school discipline once in a while.

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