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.

IMG_6111 (1)
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.

DSC_0059
The Winner = the spectators

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

DSC_0072
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…

Deadliest Catch: Pinehills Edition

If you can’t tell, the turds are really into fishing these days. Matty bought them these fishing rods, the Famous 202 and the Lady 202 (Guess which one is which? Follow up question: guess which industry seems kind of sexist?) and a spell was cast (bad pun intended). Even though previously, the only fish either kid ever caught was the dead fish Hazy “caught” in a bucket at the Pinehills pond, they are convinced they will be reeling in The Big One at any time. After all, isn’t that the lure (seriously, pun not intended) of fishing?  Or was it sitting around and drinking Bud Lights? I forget.

But first, we had to introduce Rosie to Oma, Opa and Teddy. Rosie is pretty submissive so I was slightly concerned that she’d be intimidated by big fluffy Teddy, but I needn’t have worried, because she immediately stole his bed, his toy, his spot on the couch and his parents.

new dog meets the grandparents
“These are mine now.”
IMG_6003
“Him too.”

My dad loves dogs and vice versa, and Rosie was no exception. But every time my dad petted Rosie, Teddy got jealous. He got caught in a never-ending cycle of dog petting, but let’s admit, there are worse things.

Then it was back to the Deadliest Catch. We packed up the Famous 202 and the Lady 202 and trudged down to the pond. I’d like to say the kids cast their rods and reeled in dinner while I sat back and sipped Bud Lights all morning long.

kids fishing
Angling for some action (I can do this all day.)

But it’s more accurate to say that they each got about one cast out before Hazy’s hook got caught in those reeds and George’s line became irreparably tangled. I attempted to wade out in the mushy sand to the reeds, but my flip flops sunk in the quick sand like I was in the Fire Swamp from the Princess Bride and I got too grossed out to make another attempt. Luckily, with my raw pioneerswoman strength and ingenuity, I was able to force the hook free.

kids fishing fail
More accurate representation

George’s line, on the other hand, was beyond help.

tangled fishing line
Imagine this every 1/2 foot or so.

A weathered old fisherman (fine, someone’s grandpa) at the pond told me the only solution was to cut off all the tangled line. Done and done, good sir.

We did not have the fish dinner I had planned on, but luckily Opa had a Plan B/knew we wouldn’t be catching anything. We had Chinese ribs, a caprese salad, and something else delicious that I can’t remember but rest assured, I shoved it down my gullet.

Wow, it’s still summer, huh?

Hamburgers & Fries, Followed by Unprocessed Fish Sticks

We had a special guest star all the way from France on Thursday…Dr. Lindsay! I’ve known Lindsay since she was Miss Lindsay when we were teenage camp counselors together at Camp Nashoba. Now she’s living in France for a year of romance and French food with her boyfriend, occasionally jaunting back to the US for some doctor work, and we were lucky enough to spend a day with her.

But first, the turds did some morning activities, namely circling all the things they wanted in the Oriental Trading Company catalog, and destroying the kitchen while they “cleaned up” after making goop.

IMG_5940
They also brought out their money so they could buy these $5 rolls of tickets for their store in the toy pit. I had to break it to them that 1) you need a credit card and, 2) shipping is $8.
Homemade slime
The clean up from the clean up was more work than the original clean up.

Our first stop with Lindsay: Grassfed.

matching outfits
We could not wait to see her!
Kids in matching outfits
The kids wore matching outfits for the occasion and made matching whatever-this-is expressions.

Grassfed has a TV over the bar, which happened to be playing an infomercial for the Power Air Fryer XL. I was reminded of the power of advertising as Hazy decided after about 10 minutes that we needed one, adding, “it’s only four easy payments of $39.99!” When they reduced it to three easy payments and threw in $100 worth of coupons, she lost her mind.

milkshakes
Hazy: “Let’s wait a few more minutes and see if it gets any cheaper!”

Lindsay and I had the brilliant idea to take the kids boating and fishing, because what’s better than four people in a tiny rowboat with the two least coordinated of them wielding sticks with hooks?

kids boating
Are these the adorable faces of people who would toss a fishhook millimeters from your face? Yes, yes they are.
DSC_0052
This is probably when I told them they couldn’t cast right into our faces and ruined all their fun. Sorry, turds.

We each took a turn “rowing,” which usually meant going around in circles and narrowly avoiding hitting the shore or one of the many sailboats, sailed by kids taking sailing lessons. In other words, amateur hour. I’d like to say Lindsay and I were far superior rowers, but that would be a lie.

The good part about taking turns rowing was that everyone got to rest for a while, if you call dodging flying fish hooks restful.

Lindsay chillaxing
After her hard life of eating French food, cooking French food, and drinking French wine, I’m glad Lindsay was finally able to relax a little.
rowing on Jamaica Pond
I’m supposed to be rowing here. My bad.

Somehow we survived the rowing and the fish hooks and made it back to land. Thank you to my co-counselor, Miss Lindsay, for making it so much fun. (I’d definitely give you a sweatshirt.)

fishing and rowing woohoo!
Une bonne journée, Lindsay.

Actually, We Can Stop

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we mainly focused on Rosie. We took her to the vet, where she was an exemplary patient, took her on lots of walks and introduced her to new doggy friends, and we brought her to Pet Cabaret (which had significantly fewer musical numbers than you might expect), where we bought her a new harness and some yummy treats. Fun fact: Rosie’s treats cost more than mine, and I’m the sucker who buys the cookies they sample at Whole Foods. We also ordered her a Death Star ID tag, which should get here next week.

Dog treats vs. Human treats
I don’t remember how much the Jan Cookies cost, but definitely less than $23.99.

I’d like to pretend we stayed home exclusively due to my doting dog parenting style, but it was also because there was wayyyy too much arguing on the way to the Aquarium. (Side note: Never, ever drive to the Aquarium. The parking garage is really expensive and it’s almost impossible to find street parking and then you end up driving around for an hour while your kids fight about things you’ve since blocked out but they definitely resulted in you blasting Pink’s “So What” on the radio so you could drown them out.) I told the kids if they kept arguing incessantly, then I wasn’t going to reward them with any fun adventures. So I showed them. Besides our dog errands, we stayed home and whined argued cleaned all day. All this winning is exhausting.

Speaking of winning, on Wednesday, Hazy and I started off with some light Monopoly.

IMG_5922
Rosie tried to be banker, but she’s bad at math/having opposable thumbs.

Then, it was a special Dad Camp while I had to take care of some work-related stuff. (What? Gross, I know.) Later, we went to our pool, where the kids played with some old and new friends and had ice cream #4008 of the summer.

kids at Mirabella pool
Here, they are conspiring to squeeze a wet Nerf football over someone’s head.

Just 30 days until both kids are back in school. Not that anyone’s counting.

 

A working mom takes the summer off