All posts by bertandorduke

Apparently, Hokusai is Japanese for, “Are you serious?”

Today started with sadness and pride.

JP family mourns loss of beloved
JP family mourns loss of beloved “Buddha Baby” after mysterious fall results in skull fracture. The ceremony was small but meaningful.
Train tunnel made out of Magna-Tiles. Mensa, you have my number.
Train tunnel made out of Magna-Tiles. Mensa, you have my number.

After the Buddha Baby service and the long process of getting George to put on non-pajama clothes, the plan was to go see the Hokusai exhibit at the MFA, you know, something I wanted to do. But then the universe reminded me, it’s not about what I want to do. We drove 20 minutes, pulled into a very expensive parking lot, and then Hazy said, “I can’t find my sandals!” After Matty carried her to bed last night, we’d assumed he’d left her sandals in the car. We were wrong.

Plan B: drive to the nearest shoe store. Wasn’t sure if the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule would apply at a shoe store, but I carried my big girl four blocks while holding George’s hand, and then we hit the jackpot: flip flops for both kids; sport sandals for Hazy, and the piece de resistance, my new Christian Siriano for Payless “Kate” pumps. Those shoes are museum-worthy, plus the parking was free. Oh, and I got some headbands. You know, impulse buy.

Guess which pair of shoes is wildly impractical?
Guess which pair of shoes is wildly impractical?
Also, I made the kids run around the entire store in each pair they tried on, mainly because it was so cute.
Also, I made the kids run around the entire store in each pair they tried on to test the comfort and fit, but also because, come on!

On the walk, George terrorized several people with his lack of driving skills, and then drove the car partially onto the busy street.

Some nice, but foolish, Radio Shack employee gave George the remote. Sorry, people of Mattapan.
Some nice, but foolish, Radio Shack employee gave George the remote. Sorry, people of Mattapan.

I always wanted to go to this ice cream and hot dog place, Simco, mostly because of its cool retro sign.

Photo tip: "No ice cream unless you smile!"
Photo tip: “No ice cream unless you smile!”
I noticed I'm making this face a lot. I think it's because I assume the bigger my smile, the more likely the kids will smile.
I noticed I’m making this face a lot. I think it’s because I assume the bigger my smile, the more likely the kids will smile. George only has eyes for ice cream though.
Ice cream and trains. We ate our ice cream overlooking the rails, and George's day was made when the "purple train" went by.
Ice cream and trains. We ate our ice cream overlooking the rails, and George’s day was made when the “purple train” went by.

As I strapped him into his car seat, George said, “You know what’s fun?” “What?” “You’re fun.” Oh George, you’re killing me, smalls.

During George’s nap, Hazy tried our some of our Michael’s purchases and did her first acrylic on canvas painting.

The artist at work
Head/rest of things not too scale
I know everyone thinks their kids are cute, but oh my god, this kid is cute.
I know everyone thinks their kids are cute, but oh my god, admit that this kid is cute. Just admit it.

Then we picked up the man, the myth, the legend — Dada! Now that they spend every weekday with me, Matty has attained new status.

Hey, wait for me, Chopped Liver!
Hey, wait for me, Chopped Liver!

And then we hit the Children’s Museum, or as I like to call it, The Hall of Germs. Bubbles were made, TV stars were born, and Buster was intimidated by a sassy six-year old. The caterpillar lady was reluctant to let the kids hold the caterpillar, because she correctly assumed they’re klutzes. She kept saying, “Don’t drop him!” Then, she was showing me something about him, and dropped him! Oh, caterpillar lady.

Speaking of caterpillars, I’m a little obsessed with them now. There are so many beautiful varieties, they can camouflage (took me three times to spell that correctly) themselves so well, and they’re just so cool. I mean, hello? The very hungry caterpillar – SPOILER ALERT – ate a bunch of fruit, a cake, a sausage, and cheese, and then the dude became a butterfly!

Why am I still making this stupid face? I don't know. #caterpillarselfie
Why am I still making this stupid face? I don’t know. #caterpillarselfie Note to self: maybe start wearing some make up, hon
One of these kids is doing his own thing and that thing is being over the age of 12.
One of these kids is doing his own thing and that thing is being over the age of 12. (Matty playing the giant dance floor game with ten kids.)

All in all, a good day. Final one-on-one minutes: Hazy, 11; George, 0 (due to the Throwing-A-Train-at-Hazy’s-Head Incident); although Matty is a softie and still read him a book before bed.

Local friends: What is your favorite MA or NH beach?

Oma & Opa Recovering Nicely from their PTSD

It’s been a little over two weeks since my kids terrorized my parents while we were in Paris. I think Oma & Opa are finally twitching a little less.

Before we recap our Thursday, let’s do a quick check in on the Reward Chart Big Board (I have yet to fill in the Thursday stars completely, but needless to say, both kids are still rocking their no-no-whining-star streak.

Hmm...which row needs work? Hint: it rhymes with
Hmm…which row needs work? Hint: it rhymes with “no schmining.”

Back to today’s recap:

On Wednesdays, we wear pink (who are we kidding, Hazy wears pink most days), and on Thursdays, we go to Oma & Opa’s house. The perks of going to Oma and Opa’s are numerous: they have a pool, a pond, and a beach/playground/sprinkler park, all within a short distance; they’re amazing cooks; Opa’s an Ipad master; Oma can french braid; and sometimes you come and Oma makes her CRACK COOKIES. Also, we love them (my parents, but also the cookies).

Got Oma to make you a 40, Dee.
Got Oma to make you a 40, Dee.

Last week, we did pond and pool. Today, we started with the playground/beach/sprinkler park, but — gasp — skipped the sprinklers because it was a cool 68º out.

Look at us! We smile all the time and this in no way took 20 takes and me threatening there'd be no beach time.
Look at us! We smile all the time and this in no way took 20 takes and  threatening there’d be no beach time.
Imagine looking at the beautiful ocean as you rock in a flying rocking chair that some other sucker pushes for you as you shout,
Imagine looking at the beautiful ocean as you rock in a flying rocking chair that some other sucker pushes for you as you shout, “Faster!”. It’s a rough life, turds.
Faster! Faster! I only have two arms and there's a metal pole between your two swings.
Faster! Faster!
I only have two arms and there’s a metal pole between your two swings.
Thank God for relief pushers.
Thank God for relief pushers.

The cool thing about this park is the beach is about 100 yards away.

The literally cool thing is the weather, which had Oma, Hazy and I wrapped up in towels, and only one crazy Burgles going in the water.
The literally cool thing is the weather, which had Oma, Hazy and me wrapped up in towels, and only one crazy Burgles going in the water.

While George napped like a champ (phew), Hazy helped Oma make crack cookies (don’t worry, DEA, that white powder is flour), I curled up on the couch, listened to golf on TV, and read Dinner: A Love Story, which makes cooking healthy, easy, kid-friendly meals seem like it’s a snap. Hmm. Next, I’ll read, Flossing & Brushing Teeth For a 3 & 6 year old: Pure Joy. Also, Oma & Opa demonstrated some of their many skills.

I've already shown you too much.
I’ve already shown you too much.
Not sure shark videos were the best thing to show a nervous swimmer, Opa.
Not sure shark videos were the best thing to show a nervous swimmer, Opa.
The pain is worth it, Hazy. I've been there.
The pain is worth it, Hazy. I’ve been there.
If defusing a bomb relied on me creating one passable french braid, we'd have a MacGruber situation.
If defusing a bomb relied on me creating one passable french braid, we’d have a MacGruber situation.

Post nap, we went to the pool, the site of last week’s epic accomplishment. We had some more breakthroughs this time as well, including George “Little Shark” O’Rourke getting in the Big Pool and (willingly) practicing swimming with Big Shark.

Little Shark & Big Shark
Little Shark & Big Shark

Also, this:

Worm attack!
Worm attack!

Plus, Hazy “Esther Williams” O’Rourke swimming underwater and swimming (for a few feet) sans floaties or vest.

What's a good time for the 1-yd doggy paddle?
What’s a good time for the 1-yd doggy paddle?

Post pool, it was dinner time. Eating at Oma & Opa’s is like going to a top restaurant, except 75% less shushing and shame, and 0% as expensive. And you always get something off the dessert menu.

I'm kinda bummed that these two have replaced me as Chief Beater Licker when my mom bakes. Don't I do enough for these kids?
I’m kinda bummed that these two have replaced me as Chief Beater Licker when my mom bakes. Don’t I do enough for these kids?
After pasta primavera with chicken and a strawberry shortcake with extra whipped cream, George said he was still hungry. Classic George.
After pasta primavera with chicken and a strawberry shortcake with extra whipped cream, George said he was still hungry. Classic George.

Health wise, I feel so much better. I’m not quite at full shandy-power, but I’m not a ball of rage either. It helps that Hazy ended the day having earned 11 minutes of one-on-one time and George a record 8.

Tomorrow’s adventure will involve Matty and me taking the kids to – wait for it – the passport expediting agency, because Dumb & Dumber have been putting off getting her passport renewed. It takes 2-4 weeks to get a new passport, and our trip is in 4 weeks minus a day. #nailedit

We have an awesome pool*!

*It’s just 50 miles away and not technically ours.

Once again, we were spoiled by Grammy. Gorgeous pool, poolside lunch, two hours of quiet time for me while G napped, and a delicious dinner that ended with Hoodsies. Plus, we had some special guest stars, RyRy and Sean-O.

1 and 1/4 kid in the pool!
1 and 1/4 kid in the pool!
Check the technique. This is not recommended with a regular gun. #kickback
Check the technique. This is not recommended with a regular gun. #kickback
Sean treats Hazy like a princess or I guess a pharaoh, specifically, Cleopatra.
Sean treats Hazy like a princess or I guess a pharaoh, specifically, Cleopatra.
The best (water gun) defense is a good offense.
RyRy, under attack
The best (water gun) defense is a good offense.
The best (water gun) defense is a good offense.
Ryan: You're so cute! George: And handsome! Grammy: And modest.
Ryan: You’re so cute!
George: And handsome!
Grammy: And modest.
The only thing that can tear George away from his cars? A spooky story from Grammy.
The only thing that can tear George away from his cars? A spooky story from Grammy.
Keep your hands clear of George  when Hoodsies are involved.
Keep your hands clear of George when Hoodsies are involved.
Remember last visit when they attacked Uncle Matt? Payback's a bridge (which is what Hazy, thankfully, thought I said during one particular road rage incident).
Remember last visit when they attacked Uncle Matt? Payback’s a bridge (which is what Hazy, thankfully, thought I called someone during one particular road rage incident).

After hearing some nightmare mother-in-law stories from some of my friends, I consider myself even more lucky to have Grammy. She always goes all out to make sure we have a great time. Today, this was just what I needed. I’m about 75% strength, and it was so nice to be able to lie down for two hours midday and to have someone make me lunch and dinner.

Also, final one-on-one minute count: Hazel, 11 (!); George, 8. Not too shabby.

If you have any ideas for future adventures, please let me know in the comments section. Today, my friend Anna suggested we take the Downeaster to Maine (Upeaster?) for some ME time, and my friend Leslie, now a fellow stay-at-home in NH, suggested a beach day . Check and check.

Learning about Italian Culture at the Christian Science Center.

Yep, you read that right. Today, we went to One World, a celebration of cultures from around the world, at the Christian Science Center. Today’s focus was Italy. I didn’t know much about Christian Science, but Wikipedia’s summary of the religion’s central text,”sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone,” has not converted me thus far. I’ll give them this, the CSS has THE best fountain.

One part of Christian Science we like: fountains
One part of Christian Science we like: fountains!
Two things no one can compete with Bert and Duke  at: bouncy castles and sprinklers
Two things no one can compete with Bert and Duke at: bouncy castles and sprinklers

DSC_0346DSC_0353 DSC_0342

From our time there today, here’s what I learned about Christian Science:

They insist upon themselves.
They insist upon themselves.

(What that means)

Hall of Ideas? What is this,  a Marvel comic?
Hall of Ideas? What is this, a Marvel comic?

And here’s what I learned about Italy:

They are face paint artists.
They are face paint artists.

DSC_0381

They tire out kids.
They tire out kids.
They're not afraid to do black face?
They’re not afraid to do black face?

Post cultural experience, we explored some Chinese culture, in the form of tofu, bok choy, and juicy buns.

A dog, a snowflake, and a mom walk into a restaurant...
Normally, I wouldn’t let G eat like this, but this is doggy George, so, anything goes.

Last but not least, we went to our new favorite toy store, Michaels.

There's no happiness like a new arts organizer.
There’s no happiness like a new art organizer, besides a new art organizer bought on clearance.

I don’t want to sugarcoat it, because based on these photos, all we did is frolic and delight in each other’s company. But, truth be told, there was one stretch in the car where I demanded some quiet time, blasted some Girls Chase Boys, and subtracted several minutes from each kid’s one-on-one time. Final tally: Hazy 7, George 4. That’s barely enough time for one read-through of Steam Train, Dream Train.

This stay-at-home-mom thing is tough.

There was no post on Friday because Matty and I jetted (drove) to CT for our friend Laurie’s memorial birthday party and Viking funeral. It was an amazing celebration of an amazing woman. The highlight for me, besides seeing some of our old friends (yes, even you, Carter), was meeting Laurie’s good friend, Tom. Tom is an 84-year old ex-marine, and he and his lovely wife, Sue, met Laurie because Laurie used to walk her dogs past their porch, where they would sit and have coffee. Laurie was so friendly, she always waved and said hi, until one day they invited her to the porch to have coffee. The combined sweetness and friendliness of Laurie, Tom, and Sue, led to frequent porch dates, as well as regular breakfast dates for Laurie and Tom. He is hilarious and I believe Laurie brought us together.

By the end of the night, Tom had proclaimed us, "best friends."
By the end of the night, Tom had proclaimed us, “best friends.”

In the meantime, Bert & Duke (aka, Hazy & George) managed not to terrorize Grammy that much. Thanks again, Grammy, for being a lifesaver. On Saturday, I thought it would be really cool to go to JP Porchfest. I was wrong. It turns out kids (and husbands) do not appreciate diverse music acts when it’s 90-something degrees out. We did enjoy a hot minute of jamming to Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys sing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

We're yours (for 45 seconds or so).
We’re yours (for 45 seconds or so).

Sunday morning, we had a bit of a setback. I had the worst headache of my life, neck pain and lower back pain, and diagnosed myself with Spinal Meningitis, because I have a minor (Matty would say major) case of hypochondria. I ended up going to the ER, where the lady who admitted me wrote, “headache” as my issue. There’s nothing like going to the ER for “headache” to make you feel completely lame. Unfortunately (fortunately?), the doctor thought I wasn’t totally crazy and suggested doing a lumbar puncture, but said I could hold off to see if conditions improved. I opted to hold off (my fear of needles trumps my hypochondria, and I’d already suffered through an IV). As my friend Vikki’s husband said, “wow, being a stay-at-home mom must really be taking a toll on her!”

Today, I’m back to 50% power, so I took the kids to the library for story time in the morning. The “professional storyteller” was very good, and told a bunch of folk stories, mostly Haitian. My limited knowledge of Haiti is largely based on Clueless, “if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians.”

Not one story about them needing skis.
Not one story about them needing skis.
Did I say 50%? Now that I see this, let's go with 20%.
Did I say 50%? Now that I see this, let’s go with 20%.

The kids both got a free book at story hour, and George was so excited about his, he couldn’t even wait until we got to the children’s room in the library to read it.

Steam Train, Dream Train, by the author of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Steam Train, Dream Train, by the author of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
George held his own with the big kids and ended up driving this train.
George held his own with the big kids and ended up driving this train.

We took it easy in the afternoon. Hopefully, I’ll be back to normal tomorrow, because a 6 and 3 12 year old aren’t the best at taking it easy. They’re very talented with Magnatiles though!

Local Kids Make Good

I’ll be honest, we sometimes (okay, frequently) refer to our kids as “the turds”. As in, “What are we gonna feed the turds for dinner?”, or, “I need a break from the turds.” Sometimes even to their faces. They’re actually really good kids. They say please and thank you, they go to bed at 7:30 without any fuss, and Paris Syndrome excluded, they usually play really nicely together. But, they’re also stubborn (Hazy is a Taurus, born in the year of the Ox, for god’s sake), “spirited”, “energetic”, and all those other words people use to describe spazzy kids of a certain age. And of all the things I could call people who sometime wake me up 7 minutes before my alarm clock goes off, turd is actually the least offensive.

But yesterday, the turds made me proud.

First, we stopped by my office, which they’ve been dying to see, where they ate fruit, Swedish Fish, colored with Leslie’s highlighter collection, and did Vend-A-Friend, a project I worked on where you take a short quiz, get paired up with your perfect PJA friend-match, and get a little gift from the vending machine. Hazy got paired with Ken, our Director of Creative Services, which is convenient, because she’ll probably be an Art Director someday. Or probably just a Director, or whatever the profession is for people who are good at telling other people what to do.

So. Hard. To. Peel.  So easy to get all over your clothes.
So. Hard. To. Peel.
So easy to get all over your clothes.
“My shower singing voice is above-average”
“Agree.”
photo 2 (3)
Hazy & Ken – both Snugglers

Then, we wandered around Harvard Square to dole out some backpacks we had packed (not made, Hazel: “we didn’t sew them, Mama.”) for homeless people. They were filled with toiletries, snacks, and a nice note from Hazy. We had two for men and one for a woman, and as we drove to find a parking space, we saw someone who may or may not be a woman. I said I wasn’t sure if that was a lady, and Hazy said, “we could just ask, ‘Are you a lady?’.” So, needless to say, I was a little worried what the kids might say to the homeless people. But I shouldn’t have been. The great thing about kids is that they treat everyone the same. So, when I introduced them to my homeless friend, Alistair, they didn’t hesitate to make friends. George was patting him on his knees within seconds. While we talked with Alistair, another man came up and started talking with us. He told us he was Miles Davis’s son, and I have to admit, he kind of looked like he could have been.

Here are the backpacks we in no way made.
Here are the backpacks we in no way made.
Concepted and executed by Hazy
Concepted and executed by Hazy
Totally not turds right now
Totally not turds right now
“I wish we had one more lady backpack so I could have it.” (They’re not perfect, okay?)

After our good deeds, we were rewarded with an appearance by the famous One Man Band!

Now, three-man band
Now, three-man band

He invited the kids to join the band, and it was pretty magical. Out of all the instruments, they chose the hula hoop. Then, we stopped by the Harvard Book Store, walking past Alistair on our way (George: “HIIIIII, ALISTAIRRRRRR!” like he’s a rock star), and had the pleasure of seeing a book being made.

“Can I make a book?”
If only it were that simple, Hazy.

I’d like to say they both ended the day with 10 minutes of one-on-one time, but they did not. Hazy, 7; George, 8.

Today, Grammy is being my personal hero and is coming down to stay with the kids AND watch Beatz, while Matty and I go to a birthday party/viking funeral for the one-of-a-kind friend we lost, Laurie. Tonight, let’s all salute Grammy and pour some out for Laurie.

That time Oma & Opa gave us another chance.

It was Redemption Day. Time to show Oma & Opa that my juvenile delinquents were reformed. We showed up with apology notes in hand and left with bellies full of ribs and watermelon. Mission: mostly accomplished. I’ll have Hazy work on a Bush-like banner that we can hang across Bucky in our bathtub (bonus points if you know who/what Bucky is).

We started our morning off at The Pond. On the way there, this happened. A nice mom would probably pull the shorts up before snapping a photo, but see what I do for you?

Pants off dance off
Pants off dance off

Hazy and George love The Pond, but no one loves it more than my middle child, Beatz. It’s the one place where she acts like a puppy again, running around at full jackrabbit speed, playing tag with us, and getting back the glint in her eye.

Air Beatz > Air Bud
Air Beatz > Air Bud
Beatz would totally dominate at Tag , if she was willing to go in past a foot of water.
Beatz would totally dominate at Tag , if she was willing to go in past a foot of water.

We made a little more progression in Project Water Comfort.

Well, Hazy did.
Well, Hazy did.

Then, we were pooped.

Especially this one of us.
Especially this one of us.
Okay, maybe two of us.
Okay, also this one.

This is a good time to mention the new system I’ve implemented. Please comment below if you were the one who told me about this, so I can give you credit. The basic system is this: both kids start with 10 minutes of one-on-one time with me. If they do something especially good, I add a minute. If they do something bad, I subtract a minute. Then, they cash in on their minutes at bedtime. Of course, we usually spend a lot more than ten minutes putting them to bed, but it’s usually family time, not one-on-one time, which is especially valuable. I can’t remember all the details of the infractions, but at nap time, Hazy was at 8 minutes and George was at 6. (We can assume most of them were whining-related.) But because he took a kickass nap, without chatting for an hour in bed first, George got to 7.

After nap time, we went to the pool, and something epic happened.

Underwater.  No nose plugging. Equivalent of me learning to play the trumpet.
Underwater.
No nose plugging.
Equivalent of me learning to play Devil Went Down To Georgia on the fiddle.

After this monumental pool success, we had some quiet time, which included snuggling and sticker fun.

And by snuggling, I mean watching Spongebob.
And by snuggling, I mean watching Spongebob.
It looks like Hazy is upset, but she's actually singing a dramatic ballad (original).
It looks like Hazy is upset, but she’s actually singing a dramatic ballad (original).

There was no crying, no hitting, no “shut up”, and no “you’re not my friend”, so we’ll consider them mostly reformed.

Hazy fell asleep in the car, so she’ll get to cash in on her minutes tomorrow morning. George usually sings for at least an hour before going to sleep, so he’s not gonna get a 50-minute car ride lull him to sleep. We spent a nice 7 minutes reading The Pigeon Loves Things That Go many times and then cuddling. It was heavenly.

I’m one of those activity moms now!

You know, those ones on Pinterest who make lifelike raccoons out of old toilet paper rolls and dryer lint, and create treasure hunts out of old love letters from great-grandparents? Fine, I’m not on that level yet, but I read about this thing called Discovery Packs at the Arboretum, and we actually went and did it today. And you know how you usually set off to do these things, but then your kids just end up fighting over who gets to put together the disassembled hula hoop, you’re sweating through your C’est La Vie t-shirt because you’re carrying two backpacks, and your dog decides to play dead right in front of a tree trimming truck that wants to make it a reality? Well, those things happened, but other than that, we had a real life discovery adventure in the beautiful arboretum and it was really cool.

Nobody appreciated my, “How can the children learn if they can’t even fit into the school!?” comment.
George never did figure out how to use these, but man did he look cute.
George never did figure out how to use these, but man did he look cute.
Look at my intrepid explorers!
Look at my intrepid explorers!
“Mama, I can see the sun!” Fail.
Hula hoop = trigger point
Hula hoop = trigger point
Straight out of a Wes Anderson movie
Straight out of a Wes Anderson movie
Actually doing the hula hoop activity!
Actually doing the hula hoop activity!
See if you can spot the frog. I'm pretty proud that I spied him.
See if you can spot the frog. I’m pretty proud that I spied him.
Hazy found a dead bee on a tree, so we put it in our magnifying box (another activity! Have I won Pinterest yet?)
Hazy found a dead bee on a tree, so we put it in our magnifying box (another activity! Have I won Pinterest yet?)
Save the bees! (not in magnifying boxes)
Save the bees! (not in magnifying boxes)
Dead Weight O'Rourke, reporting for duty
Dead Weight O’Rourke, reporting for duty
Playing Tic Tac Tree, making me feel like a real mom
Playing Tic Tac Tree, making me feel like a real mom

Don’t let the photos fool you, though. They are still suffering from Paris Syndrome, and we’ve had two mini-adirondack chair time outs (during baby pool time) and two in-room time outs (for major violations). In the NBA, they’d be kicked out of the game by now.

Castle Island isn’t really a castle nor an island. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Castle Island is one of those places that’s on every “Things To Do In Boston With Kids” and “Family Fun in Boston” lists and was also just mentioned by my friend Maryann yesterday (post your list in the comments for me, Maryann!), so it was a good last minute choice today when I realized I had no plan. I was also worried it was gonna be kind of lame, as most of those cliché list items are. But, it turned out to be pretty sweet.

DSC_0190

First of all, dogs are allowed and welcome, so Beatz got to come. [Side note: If anyone knows what to do about car anxiety in dogs, please let me know. Beatz has started panting excessively in the car, only on longer trips. She never used to mind the car before. The air conditioning is on, and she had plenty of water before we left.] She had a blast walking around the fort (I refuse to call it a castle), sniffing, and saying hi to other dogs. DSC_0191

Secondly, there’s a nice little walk around the non-castle, although we couldn’t figure out how/if you can get inside. I convinced the kids that one concrete slab was a magic door that you had to stand in front of and yell, “Castle Island!” to activate the magic portal, which they did (the yelling, not the activating the magic portal). The fact that they’ll still do this stuff is exactly why I thought this was the right time to take the summer off with them.

Come on, Magic Portal!
Come on, Magic Portal!
Perpetually cool
El Haz, perpetually cool

DSC_0209

Mama's not the only O'Rourke getting in on the jumping action
Mama’s not the only O’Rourke getting in on the jumping action

After our hike (and I use that term very generously), we went to the really nice Castle Island playground, where Hazy showed off her guns by going across the monkey bars about five or six times, and George watched in admiration. Then, I showed off my guns by doing some dual swing pushing, which, according to my internet research, burns 200 calories an hour. I have a short attention span for swing pushing though, so I probably only burned 20 calories.

Playing #likeagirl
Playing #likeagirl

Then we had a picnic on the beach (which Beatz had to watch forlornly from beneath a nearby bench), and played in the ice cold water.

photo 1 (1)
How many consecutive days of PB&Js are too many? Asking for a friend.

I did my best to ignore my crippling fear of jellyfish and the cries of,  “jellyfish!” all around us.  We continued making progress in Project Water Comfort and made less progress on Project Abandon Swimmies, despite what it might look like in the photo.

Water comfort! No swimmies*! (*for 5 seconds)
Water comfort! No swimmies*! (*for 5 seconds)

Then, I went for the Best Mom Ever award by getting us ice cream. If you’re wondering how much ice cream it’s possible to drip onto your camo shorts, it’s 9/10th of a Sullivan’s Oreo Cookie Razzle, and George can demonstrate his technique.

This is my hideous #momstaysinthepicture smile.
This is my hideous #momstaysinthepicture smile.

After our outing, George napped and Hazy and I made zucchini brownies (not quite Fruity Penguins, JoAnne!).

Hazy's a by-the-rules baker; I am not
Hazy’s a by-the-rules baker; I am not

Then we played in our inflatable pool, and by “we”, I mean Hazy and George did in between time outs, while I drank a shandy.

Tomorrow, we’re winging it. Quick – give me some ideas in the comment section! Wednesday, we’re hanging with Oma & Opa, and Thursday, we’re having lunch with my friend Christine and her adorable baby, Jack. Maybe George can teach Jack how to coat himself in ice cream!

And Dada makes four.

Four is the magic number.
Four is the magic number.

This blog is mostly about my summer with my kids, but the summer wouldn’t be possible without Matty. Not only does he work his tail off so I can take this summer off of work, but when he’s home, he’s Super Dad. I know everyone says their husband is #1 Dad, especially around Father’s Day, but when it comes down to it, there’s only one #1 Dad — and sorry, other dads — it’s Matty. So we were all very excited when he had Friday off, and got to join us for one of our adventures. And on this grand occasion, we braved the Brockton Fair.

Brockton’s a little crime-y, but they more than make up for it with their town fair that includes a choo choo train ride, a bouncy castle, a super slide, the World’s Smallest Horse, a Snake Lady, a Spider Woman, a family circus (not Family Circus, that would be lame), and best of all, FRIED DOUGH NUGGETS. You will not see a photo of those, because I snarfed them down before photos could be taken. Here are the other great things at the fair that I did stop to take photos of (click on them to enlarge):

Hazy, dressed to the nines
Hazy, dressed to the nines
Super Dad, dressed like Super Dad
Super Dad, dressed like Super Dad
My kids have an unnatural love for bouncy castles. And when they go down the bouncy castle slide holding hands, I do too.
That pink raccoon is named Pink Raccoony and could be yours for the low price of $5 and some rudimentary plastic fishing rod skills.
Turns out my girl's a natural race car driver.
Turns out my girl’s a natural race car driver.
She chose her car because it said M&M's.
She chose her car because it said M&M’s.
Apparently, this horse is too good for George.
Apparently, this horse is too good for George.
But not me.
But not for me.
Luckily, George found a horse that liked him. He named it Daydee.
Luckily, George found a horse that liked him. He named it Daydee.
The guy running the Super Slide was a real buddy, and let us have a free 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th ride.
The guy running the Super Slide was a real buddy, and let us have a free 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th ride.
We didn't even really want the last two, but he insisted!
We didn’t even really want the last two, but he insisted!
Okay, we did want them.
Okay, we did want them.
This was George's favorite ride, for unknown reasons.
This was George’s favorite ride, for unknown reasons.
Hazy and I in the Dizzy Dragons. I don't know how I got suckered into going on this godforsaken ride.
Hazy and I in the Dizzy Dragons. I don’t know how I got suckered into going on this godforsaken ride.
At the circus
Watching aerial feats at the family circus. Only one of us is photo acting here.
Could not get George to sit down when this girl was doing her contortions.
You can never predict who George is gonna fall in love with. In this case, it was the child contortionist, Juliette.
All in all, a great day.
All in all, a great day.

We have yet to plan next week’s adventures. Definitely open to suggestions, especially if they involve fried dough nuggets.