Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

You’d think on our first full day of Rosieness we’d stay home and lay low, but duty called, and by duty, I mean the New England Aquarium. Don’t worry, we didn’t just leave Rosie home alone; we took her to our favorite doggy daycare, where she made herself at home, sitting directly behind Demita’s butt on her chair. We had previously planned to go with our friend Winslow, but he bailed on us. (I know you’re reading this, Winslow, and yes, I’m blog-shaming you.) But we kind of had our heart set on playing with sea creatures, so we went anyway.

New England Aquarium giant ocean tank
The view from the top (of the tank)

I love the Aquarium. The coolest exhibit is the jellyfish, who, while in real life are my mortal enemies, behind glass are absolute works of art. But between you and me, the coolest animal there is the Seadragon. The only way they’d be any cooler would be if you could calmly say, “dracarys” and they blew underwater fire at your worst enemy (i.e. the jellyfish).

You beautiful, beautiful a-holes.

I also love the Touch Tank, even though we always spend about 90% of our time looking jealously at the people five feet away who seem to be in the “good spot” while our fingers become prunes waiting for some stingray play.

Touch Tank New England Aquarium
So…close…
Touch Tank New England Aquarium
Shooting daggers at the people with more stingray game than us
Soaked at New England Aquarium
Didn’t touch many stingrays, but did touch a lot of stingray water.

We also practiced our photo acting skills in the shark exhibit. (We’re a little rusty.)

And then we saw the cutest NE Aquarium inhabitants, the fur seals. The trainers taught them to do a little trick where they fake-roar at the kids. I’m pretty sure they do click-training, which is what I will be doing for Rosie. At whom should I teach her to roar?

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Roar! Eat more protein!
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Roar! Stop whining!

A member of the Aquarium staff had a sample of fur seal fur/skin which we all petted, admiring how soft it was. Later, while oohing over how cute the fur seals were, Hazy mused, “I wish we had one, or a piece of skin.” Great, I’m raising Buffalo Bill Jr. Come to think of it, she is pretty obsessed with using the hose, too.

On the way out, we stopped to watch the harbor seals. They were mostly sleeping, and they reminded me of someone…

So we rushed home and picked up our girl, who’d had a fun couple of hours at daycare but was excited to see her family.

 

A Very Special Edition of One Summer At Home

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted about any of our adventures this week, it’s because we started one huge new adventure on Sunday: we adopted a dog! Please welcome to the family, Rosie B. Macklemore O’Rourke.

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Rosie came all the way from Alabama (hence her middle name), so the first thing we did (after giving and receiving many, many kisses) was to take her for a bath. Rosie was not too crazy about the bath or the blow drying/combing, but she did enjoy her doggy cupcake and meeting a (stuffed) friend afterwards.

We stopped at a rest stop on the way back, and the kids took turns walking her and giving her water. I like to think this sunbeam is Grandpa George (a dog lover) smiling down on us.

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Best big brother and sister

Once we got home, Rosie made herself at home. And by that, I mean she jumped right into Hazy’s bed (much to Hazy’s delight) and then ours.

We’re crate training her, but she was not to be discouraged. First thing she did Monday morning was go wake up George by leaping into his bed. Needless to say, he loved it.

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Looks like you’ve been replaced, Baraccoli Obama.

Hazy and George have embraced pet siblinghood wholeheartedly, and besides helping bathe her, they enjoy feeding her (George does breakfast; Hazy does dinner), walking her, showing her how comfy her crate is, and fancy-walking her, which is just walking her in formalwear.

Here’s what Rosie likes to do when I try to work:

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Hugs > work

 

Here’s what she likes to do when I order DuDo’s:

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This earned her a plain donut offering from the enamored drive thru lady.

Here’s Rosie and her favorite toy:

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You’re gonna fit right in here, Rosie.

Here’s Rosie sitting like a lady, albeit a slightly disappointed lady, at her first JP vet appointment.

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Girl, are you a heart worm? Because you’re tearing up my heart.

And here’s Rosie disregarding the no-dogs-on-the-bed rule, because she’s clearly an O’Rourke child and has no time for rules.

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At least pretend to listen to the book, Rosie.

She’s a great dog and we are so lucky to have her. Rosie’s lucky too, not only because we love her to pieces, but because she was rescued by a great organization, No Greater Love. This rescue group saves dogs from a shelter in Alabama that kills 1,000 dogs a month! I shudder to think that Rosie could’ve been one of them. If you want to donate to No Greater Love to help save some of Rosie’s old friends, you can do so here (it’s tax-deductible).

If anyone has any tips on crate training and easing anxiety, especially crying/barking/whimpering like crazy when I first come down in the am and when I come home, I’d love any advice. I want to nip any anxiety in the bud so we can have a long happy life together.

North Shore > South Shore

I’m sorry, South Shorers, but it’s true. Granted, North Shore beaches might be slightly colder, but they don’t have sharks or red seaweed sand that feels and smells like rotten pudding.  Also, the North Shore has Michelle, and her gorgeous new house in Essex with a yard full of mini frogs, just waiting for Hazy and George to torture capture them. Last Friday, we met up with Michelle, whom you might remember from last year’s fine art photo acting/art adventure, and Ariel and Dax, whom you might recognize from several of our past outings, including one that inspired my parenting book. We met at Michelle’s house, which she and her husband designed themselves (!), and then headed to Crane Beach. Hazy’s favorite part of Michelle’s house was this cool speech-giving balcony (not what Michelle calls it)  and speech-receiving sitting room (totally what Michelle calls it) below. I can’t remember Hazy’s exact speech, but it was a hybrid of quotes from the Princess Diaries and Harry Potter. (Side note: Mia would totally be in Ravenclaw.)

George’s favorite part was a tie between all the gloriously uncluttered space and the mini frog commune in the backyard. Michelle helped us catch a bunch and then probably instantly regretted it, as George would not-so-gently squeeze the little frogs with his pudgy fingers when picking them up. He named his victims frogs Carlos, Freddy and Porridge; Hazy named hers George and Fred (after the Weasleys). I feel a little macabre that I took this selfie with Carlos and then when I put him on the ground, he didn’t move. Ever again. That’s George (the frog) on my head, I believe. He survived, as far as I know.

Last time the kids saw Dax, he was still an infant, but now he’s old enough to be dressed, hugged, read to, and apparently, give cries for help with his eyes. Sorry, Dax.

Crane Beach is beautiful, and unlike last time we were there, I didn’t have to super soak a single seagull. Ariel has a Mac wagon too, so the kids transported themselves and all of our stuff.

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At long last, having children has paid off.

Michelle, Ariel and I thought we were pretty cute, but then Dax had to go sit in his mini lifeguard chair under his little rainbow umbrella. Hmph.

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You win, guys.

Hazy & George made two sand holes and then connected them together and held hands in the middle. Aw.

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Cute

Dax sat on a beach blanket. Aww…

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Cuter

And then plunked himself back in his mini lifeguard chair and said “oyoyoyoy.” Awwwwwww!

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Cutest

After we’d had enough cuteness and sun, we did a quick pitstop at Russell Orchards because Michelle remembered they had cute farm animals to pet and I remembered they had cute cider donuts to eat.

It was even better than either of us expected, because there was Darryl the (500 lb) pig, plus a Little Sebastian not named Little Sebastian, an ice cream shop, and a cider donut ice cream sandwich. Don’t mind if I do.

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One of these ladies made healthy choices and looks killer in a bikini; the other is eating a cider donut ice cream sandwich, losing chin/neck distinction. #mistakesweremade #deliciousmistakes

It was, as Ariel put it, “the perfect beach day.”

Then The Wheels Came Off

You thought this was gonna be another OSAH disaster story, didn’t you? Surprise, this one’s a triumph (with mini-disasters sprinkled throughout, because come on, we’re still us).

Thursday morning I woke up, plan-less, and had a vision. The vision was one of walking a quarter mile in the 110% humidity with two whining children, crying about whacking their own calves with their bike pedals. Just kidding, I’m not psychic. The vision was teaching my kids to ride their bikes without training wheels before college.

bye bye, training wheelsAnd guess what?

We did it! Of course, first we had to walk the bikes for a quarter mile through 110% humidity at an 11/10 on the Whine Scale. A weaker woman would have crumbled.

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This is my “and then the wheels came off” face.

The actual teaching-them-to-ride part was easy; they both got it on the first try. I did the classic holding onto the seat, “I won’t let go until you’re ready” and “I’m going to count to three and then let go.”  George would do this thing where he’d go, “I’m not comfortable yet! I’m not comfortable yet!” and then start counting when he was.

The hard part was that it was 80 million degrees out plus humidity and also that I had foolishly decided that I would run my daily mile while the kids biked around the track. Because it turns out that while both kids could ride like champs once I got them started, they were like the Greatest American Hero (Remember Ralph? Anyone? Anyone?) and couldn’t land/stop without injuring themselves. So I would run a 1/4 mile, and then have to start someone up, or sympathize with boo boos, or attempt to put Hazy’s chain back on her bike. I’m sweating, people are crying (possibly me), there’s whining. It was an s-word show. But both kids can now ride a two-wheeler, so I’m calling it a win.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment it was so hot out, we then headed to the pool.

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Mac is sad because it’s too damn hot.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better at the pool since the time we saw a grumpy lady get hit in the back of the head with a flying Spiderman figurine, we had an even more exciting incident. We discovered that George can stand in the shallow end! The Mirabella pool shallow end is notoriously deep, so deep in fact, that George always has to wear a life vest when we go swimming there. But not anymore…

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Look at these two tall drinks of water!
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Just three dope people who can stand in the shallow end.

As if we hadn’t had enough excitement already (Riding on two wheels! Standing in the shallow end! Almost breaking Mama!), we also caught the elusive Banana Train on the way home.

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When the doors close, it says, “banana coming through!”

We rode it and then waited about ten minutes for it to leave so we could watch the whole train go by, because we (2/3 of us) are into that kind of thing.

How could we possibly top Thursday? Hint: guest stars.

4 Grandies, 3 Bodies of Water, 2 Days

My kids are blessed in many ways (see: our summer ice cream count), but especially in that they have two grandmothers and a grandfather whom they get to see frequently. This week, we were lucky enough to see Grammy on Tuesday and Oma & Opa on Wednesday (with special bonus Skype with my grandmother, Nana, speaking of lucky). I feel so fortunate to have family nearby to help. When you’re taking care of people/turds all day every day, it’s such a gift to have someone else take care of you.

On Tuesday, we spent the day lounging by/in/around the pool with Grammy. The pool is cool, clean, stocked with rafts and toys, and we’re almost always the only ones there.

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Between George’s survival stroke and Hazy’s raft-steering abilities, we’re ready for a shipwreck.

I had to get some work done, and I couldn’t have picked a nicer home office.

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Don’t worry, I only use 12 on my legs.

As if it wasn’t enough that Grammy entertained the kids while I worked and made them their favorite lunches, she also made me this restaurant-worthy salad.

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She doesn’t even let me help with the dishes after. Swoon.

Grammy had an event to get to, so we left before dinner. At home, the kids helped me make my semi-famous tofu and rice. George mainly wore this cute outfit and pressed down the rice cooker button; Hazy learned to smash garlic and cut the ginger. (She still had a slightly swollen face, so was not ready for face photos.) I’d show you more, but it’s a secret family recipe. (Rest assured, magnesium is not an ingredient.)

Wednesday, we headed down to Oma & Opa’s. We spent the morning at the pond, which we had all to ourselves for a little while.

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There are fish in this pond. I know this because one bit me on a scab that’s on my foot. I had to pretend it didn’t hurt so I wouldn’t scare the kids, but between us, IT HURT.

We enjoyed swimming, digging holes, modeling the tubes, and fighting/crying over who got to put their tube in the backseat first and whose had to be jammed in second. All equally fun activities! Next time we might play “Imma Shank Your Tube With a Pen And See Who’s Crying.” Just an idea, could be fun.

Apparently, a few weeks ago, George called my dad “brah.” If you know my dad, this is hilarious. He’s just not a “brah” type; he’s not even a “bro” type. But, Opa took it in stride, and asked George if “brah” was short for “broccolini,” and now that is George and Opa’s nickname for each other. So, naturally George wore his “#BROS4LIFE” shirt and he and Opa recreated it.

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Opa gets to be the hamburger, because, duh, mustache.

So that happened.

Also, Oma has been branching out and making her crack cookies for non-family members, despite my strong objections. However, this time we were cool with it, because she used the extra dough to make us this batch.

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Why so serious, Oma? Is it because you’re regretting making non-family members the cookies? I get it.

Usually, Oma goes on our excursions with us, but on this day, my fur-brother, Teddy, was sick, so Oma had to stay home with him. So we headed to the beach solo in the afternoon. White Horse is an awesome beach, except for its dubious water conditions. There was a ton of reddish seaweed in the water, and also a lot of it semi-dried up on the beach. I say semi-dried up, because when you walk on it, your foot sinks down like you’re walking in spoiled chocolate pudding with a thin crab-scented creme brulée crust. Even typing up that description makes me cringe. I wore my flip flops to walk down to the water, and it was still gross.

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Just avoid all the dark areas and you’ll be fine!

There’s also this somewhat ominous shark sign, but hey, good photo acting opportunity:

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Not sure what the Crocs add to the photo acting, but I believe in leaving the actor to his craft.

Once you’re past the crab pudding section, it’s actually quite nice. There’s a sandy beach and while there’s lots of reddish seaweed in the water, it’s quite dispersed and you don’t really feel it.

The sand was perfect for making sand castles, sand sea turtles, or you know, a classic sand toilet. Hazy was very proud of her sand toilet, complete with plumbing that opened up to a tank in the back.

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Not a live demonstration.

The kids enjoyed burying each other in rocks and finding a bunch of “special” rocks to add to their collections. These special rocks, by the way, get added to the Mac Wagon, which I have to painstakingly drag through the sand back to the car. This is why I limit them to only the most special one cupful.

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Family Portrait (Sand Toys Bag subbing poorly for Matty)

We capped off a great day with spaghetti and homemade meatballs, followed by – what else? – ice cream. Then we had our Skype session with Nana, my 100-year old grandmother and undisputed Cutest Person On Earth, and my wonderful Auntie Julie (“Auntie Juju”). George spent the entire session trying to fill the camera lens with his eye.

Thank you, Grammy, Oma, Opa, Nana and Auntie Juju, for reminding us how incredibly lucky we are.

 

The Team Takes a Hit

That sounds almost like an Always Sunny episode title, in which case, I’m totally sweet Dee.

Anyway, Saturday night we went to a birthday barbecue at our friend and neighbor Nadja’s house. After some basketball (the kids), some rosé (me), and some mild flirting with my new gay friends (me again), we called it a night. Right before we left, Hazy got a few bug bites over her left eyebrow. She was complaining about them being itchy, but we sent her to bed with a kiss and some sympathy. We’re definitely firm adherents to the You’ll Be Fine school of parenting, but seriously, it was a couple of bug bites.

Well, Sunday morning, Hazy’s left forehead was swollen to the size of an egg. Her left eye was slightly squintier than her right. Our “you’re fine”s did not sound as convincing. The swelling continued, so we brought her to urgent care at her pediatrician’s. I hate urgent care; it’s so arbitrary. “How about we charge you more and make you see your least favorite pediatrician because it’s Sunday?” Dr. Patronizing Bedside Manner (it’s a big name tag) made me feel foolish for bringing Hazy in, which is par for the course. She suggested Benadryl.

We went home and gave Hazy the recommended dosage. (Well, first Hazy and I met Matty and George at an outdoor birthday party where Hazy and Matty ended up sitting on an ant hill, and Hazy vowed never to go outdoors again.) By bedtime, her face was so swollen, she was literally unrecognizable. We promised her we’d take her to her real doctor, our beloved Dr. Marshall, in the morning.

By Monday morning, Hazy looked like a mix of Sloth from the Goonies and strangely enough, Julia Stiles (whom I actually think is quite pretty, and I don’t mean this as a diss). Her left eye was completely swollen shut and her right eye was also affected. The bite marks were red and she had pink circles around each eye. I’d share a picture, but she’s justifiably embarrassed by them. We had just seen Dr. Marshall a few weeks ago for Hazy’s annual visit, and he was legitimately shocked by her appearance. He prescribed some super powered hydrocortisone cream and suggested we keep up with the Benadryl. Doctor’s orders also included, “taking it easy, watching some TV,” which is basically Hazy’s (and my) dream.

Needless to say, we canceled our beach plans, even though it was one of the nicest days of the summer. We spent the rest of the morning watching The Force Awakens. [Side note: I really like what JJ Abrams did with the franchise and I love JJ Abrams in general. Minor issue though: what’s up with his obsession with Greg Grunberg? I couldn’t remember his name and literally googled, “people JJ Abrams always puts in movies” and Greg Grunberg’s wikipedia page is the third hit.]

After lunch, I convinced the kids to leave the house and go to the library. Actually, it didn’t take much convincing, because the turds are obsessed with the summer reading program that gives them prizes in exchange for reading. I remember my local library doing something similar, only we didn’t get cool stuff like a book light or a library card holder. We got to color in another copy of the same coloring page for every book we read and the librarian would hang it on the wall of the library. By the end of the summer, I’d have like 50 of the same pony coloring pages hanging in the library. Don’t worry, I tried to mix it up with my color choices.

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Pro tip: when you’re not feeling you’re prettiest, wear something cute.

The children’s section of the library has computers that you can only access with a children’s library card, which I think is pretty cool. George loves the library computer and mainly plays games on pbs.org. I have to help him type in his password and find the site, because he can only read a few words. Yet somehow, after I turned my back on him for a minute, he figured out HOW TO GOOGLE HIMSELF. What?!

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Then he seriously said, “I’m gonna look up George Washington.”

After we got back, I couldn’t bear to miss any more of the beautiful weather, so I convinced the kids to go in our baby pool. Only thing is, the pool was all gross and dirty from our last pool party, where the kids had brought dirt into the pool and then we’d half-drained it and abandoned it in our yard like we’re Sanford & Son. I really wish there was a photo of me attempting to brush off the dirt with a pot scrubbing brush while the kids took turns using the hose with the power spray attachment to “assist” me. It was basically me getting sprayed in the face with dirt water for about 15 minutes.

“Irregahhhdless”, we succeeded in getting the pool set up and chilled for a good hour, forgetting about our troubles (dirt face, swollen face, listening affliction respectively).

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All’s well that ends with wine, as they say

So Monday was a rebuilding day. Don’t worry, the team will be back to full strength soon. For example, this morning, George woke up yelling, “Today’s the day Georgie gets dressed!” Today’s the day, guys.

The Points Scale Is Back

Loyal readers might recall that I implemented a reward system two years ago where kids would earn one-on-one minutes with me for good behavior and lose them for bad behavior. Well, if there is one consistent hallmark of my parenting, it’s inconsistency, so I recently re-implemented this system, but forgot that it was about one-on-one minutes and instead made it about dessert. Basically, each kid starts the day with 3 points; they can earn or lose points based on their behavior, but if you end up with 0 points, no dessert for you. This doesn’t make any sense for several reasons, one being that we don’t even always have dessert, but the important thing is…points. If you’re questioning this system, you just lost a point.

After our crazy boat adventure with friends where the worst, thankfully, did not happen, we spent a day and half at Oma and Opa’s. My parents’ baking/cooking game was stronger than ever, with Oma making such good homemade whipped cream that the kids decided she should open a homemade whipped cream store, and my dad making a combination of Hazy and George’s favorite foods by making the bun from char siu bao with the filling of a wonton. They were a huge success, even if we couldn’t agree whether to call them wonbaos or baotons.

 

Oma & Opa are up to about a bajillion points by my system.

On Friday, Opa was golfing so we had “Oma eggs,” which were almost as good as Opa eggs. Then, Oma let the kids play her Math for Candy game which, as the name suggests, rewards them with candy for solving math problems. (The Lam ladies clearly need to work on their reward systems.)

 

Then it was onto the pool, where the kids did some synchronized swimming and Hazy discovered the Jedi mind trick of letting your goggles float up into your hand.

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George: “Hazy, can you show me the ways of the force?”

At one point, the kids were super cute cuddling with each other. Then they turded it up by asking if they could “get points for being cute.” Of course not! What is this, some completely cockamamie reward system?

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Between you and me, plus one hundred points.

Oma was awesome enough to bring us lunch to the pool, which was a total treat.

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You can figure out what kind of sandwiches they had from this hot mess.

After completely exhausting Oma and Opa and eating all their fruit, we headed home so we could meet Matty, back from his business trip to Chicago. On our way home, we passed my Kryptonite, TJ Maxx (or as George calls it, TJ Mask, sung to the tune of PJ Masks).

George to a TJ Maxx employee stocking the shelves: Can we help?

TJ Maxx Employee: No.

We did a quick episode of Who Wore It Best, and George won, which is totally unfair considering they were ladies’ shoes. The gruff TJ Maxx employee looked on in disapproval. I *almost* whipped out my TJ Maxx card and Pretty Woman’ed her, but I’m pretty sure they don’t work on commission and also I’m unemployed.

I think their final point tallies were 6 (Hazy) and 3 (George), but it was irrelevant because we didn’t end up having dessert. Hazy gained a bunch of points for helping me clean up and George lost a bunch for whining (whining is George’s Kryptonite/TJ Maxx).

I’ll probably redesign the points system this week. What do you think the reward should be?

A working mom takes the summer off