Category Archives: Ben

Staycation, All I Ever Wanted: Boston February Vacation Ideas

 

By now you may have heard that we in Boston are drowning in snow. There are a million places online to find out about our woes—from blogs to The New York Times to Buzzfeed—so I won’t add more. But we’ve had plenty of together-time so far, with all the million snow days. It all seemed like prep for February vacation, when we’d all be snowed in together yet again, looking out our windows at snowbanks, but at least we’d be getting the mail and cars would be allowed to drive on the roads (not sure why they’d want to; I’m finding the games of chicken, and the pulling-over-into-snowbanks, and all the terrifying blind corners in my neighborhood just a little too much).

Unlike our friends who’ve fled to Florida, California, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere, we had no plans to go away. So the kids and I brainstormed a list of things to do.

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In case you can’t read it with the addition of tonight’s added “Jump Plans” schematic (by the boys), it says:

1. Playdate with Anna. She’s somewhere warm and snow-free for the week, so that’s out.

2. Great Brook Farm. This is a cross-country ski place near here, with groomed trails over fields and through woods, and ski rentals in case your four-year-old doesn’t yet have his own XC ski gear (ahem).

3. Pinocchio. A play being put on at a local family theater. We have tickets for tomorrow.

4. Robbie. (Friend of my older son’s.)

5. Sledding. I don’t know why we don’t go sledding more except the sledding hill is almost a mile away, a touch too far for the younger one to walk to and from, and too close to justify driving.

6. Hotel pool. Doesn’t that sound nice? Going to one of the nice, warm, lovely hotel pools in town and paying a fee and swimming? On Sunday, during the fourth huge snowstorm in a row, I actually priced an overnight at one hotel that has an “atrium-style” pool. Sadly, with the trains not running and an unofficial travel ban in place, it was hard to get there except on skis, and it was just too far for Max to ski there on his own and too tricky to have to tow Ben in the sled the whole way there if sidewalks weren’t clear.

7. (not numbered) Skate at the rink (or “Scate at the ringk“).

So we started off with the weekend, all normal including the blizzard (yeah, at this point that is normal, lots of digging and snowblowing, lots of snowy children stomping into each other’s houses, etc.). Then Monday, another Monday of our homebound family. It was bitterly cold, with a wind chill advisory in place. I agreed to meet a running friend and head out to Lexington, where the bike path is beautifully plowed (they finally plowed the bike path in my town, finally, after the fourth storm). It was 3 degrees (F), with a windchill of -12 or so. Whatever. We ran six miles, then I dropped off and got a cup of coffee while she ran another four. (I’m not lazy; I’m sticking to a gentle training plan.)

I got home, ate, showered, and realized that we all needed to go do something. It wasn’t optimal to just go play outside, but we couldn’t think of any great indoor options. Once I mentioned cross-country skiing, Max was really excited and wouldn’t consider a more frostbite-avoidant trip to Legoland instead (really).

Off we went to our favorite local cross-country ski center. We weren’t worried about the cold, because we have warm stuff to wear (not trying to sound cocky, but seriously, there are places much colder than this where people are outside safely. Don’t fear the cold; dress for it). Also, it had warmed up to the teens, and the windchill was no longer so worrisome.

Ben finally took to cross-country skis and had a great time (until he got tired and then cold and then was done, in the way that four-year-olds who are hungry and fatigued are just done).

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Good thing I put sunscreen on, right?

 

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This kid! He’s awesome. They both are.

 

We were all a little cranky by the end, but at least we were outside, in the great wide world, with a sunset like the one below as we skied back to the barn. (null)

 

Today, we went to the ice rink, where my new little winter sports person had his best day ever on skates (and was happy about it!). “Mom! You go the red line, and I’ll skate to you, OK? Don’t help me!” and “Mom! Did you see? I did a twirl-around fall-down.” “Mom. You go to the blue line and don’t move. Wait for me.” Meanwhile Max was happily skating around the rink. Wait, when and how did he learn to skate?

Then some errands and a trip to the library to go up and down all the stairs and then check out a million books (and one video and one book on CD).

Tomorrow: Something active in the morning, followed by Pinocchio. 

Maybe we’ll get to a pool on Thursday and then skating again on Friday. Or maybe we’ll get to a museum. That might be a good idea, for a change of pace.

So that’s how we’re spending our February vacation. Yes, I wouldn’t mind being somewhere where we don’t need snow pants, staying in a hotel, but that’s not what’s up with us this break. We’re here, having a pretty good time, and eating plenty of unseasonal fruit (because come on, with all this snow, I feel pretty OK about winter strawberries).

 

 

 

Busted for Free-Range Parenting: What Did the Cop Say?

Today I left my child outside the library alone.

Rather, I parked the stroller, in which my child was napping*, on the landing outside the library door. The entryway is glass: glass wall with glass door, tiny lobby, then another glass wall and glass door. It was a cool day, and he was bundled in his jacket and mittens, with a blanket tucked around him. I did not want to wake him; he needed the sleep. He was perfectly comfortable as he was, and I knew if I brought him into the library he’d wake up because it is so warm in there. And noisy. It’s more of a kids’ community center than a library, and schoolchildren spend afternoons there, playing games.

Also, I’m a firm believer in fresh air and cool air, not sleeping in a hot place with recycled air. And I’m half Icelandic, Iceland being a country where it’s totally normal to park strollers with sleeping children outside in all weather.

There wasn’t time to go home and really get anything useful done, so I decided to stay, and I parked him right outside the door.

I understand we are not in Iceland. But still. Quiet side street, early afternoon, not much foot traffic…and here’s the important part, the part that really matters: I found a seat right inside the door, near the door, with a direct line of site to the stroller. I grabbed some magazines and browsed through them, glancing up very frequently (so much so that I couldn’t really read) to check on Ben. I could see his feet, totally still. My biggest concern was that he’d wake up.

Because I was watching him the whole time, I watched the reactions of people who came in and out. Some took no notice of him. Some people noticed there was a child in the stroller, looked up, saw me, and gestured/mouthed something to the effect of, “Is he yours?

Yes, I’d nod, and they’d smile and relax and continue on their way. One man, however, looked at Ben for awhile as he came in and then looked around outside the library, not inside. Then he came into the library and did his thing. On his way out, he looked around the lobby again. Had he just looked around, he would have seen me, watching him and watching Ben.

Soon enough it was time to go pick up my older son. Ben was still asleep. I wheeled him around the corner and down the main street toward the school. Three blocks later, a cop car pulled over next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until a police officer got out and approached me.

“Ma’am, excuse me, but were you just at the library?”

“Yes, we just left there,” I said.

“We got a call. Did you leave your baby outside unattended for five minutes or so?” he asked.

I smiled at him. “Oh, it was much longer than that! But he wasn’t unattended. I was in a chair right by the door, and I had my eye on him the whole time.”

He looked confused. “Oh, OK,” he said. “We just, you know, got a call.” He didn’t seem to really know what to say. Which was fine, because there was nothing really to say. He started heading for his car.

“Well, it’s good people are concerned,” I said. “Thank you, officer.”

He nodded and got into his car. Half a block away, another police car was pulling over but then pulled away from the curb. I’m guessing he, too, was looking for me.

I suppose we got lucky—not in terms of safety, because Ben was not unsafe the entire time—but because in some places mothers have been arrested or at least detained for such things. I know there are degrees to which we feel our children are safe, and I know some people would never leave their children away from their side for a minute, even if they had the child in full view. Others desperately wish they could just leave the sleeping child in the car for a minute while they run into the bank. I think we’ve gotten, as a society, really out of control when it comes to perceived danger. I’m not going to debate crime statistics here or get into arguments about the risk of stranger abduction.

As I said, he was never out of my sight. I’m guessing it was that man who made the call. And you know what? I don’t blame him. He didn’t see me. He’s the only person who did not look into the library for some reason. It’s good to look out for children.

But it’s also good to look around carefully to see if someone is, in fact, watching the child.

Have you ever left your child unattended, even in the “in plain view” way in which I did? If not, was it concern for your child’s safety that stopped you? Or fear of judgment?

 

* He doesn’t normally nap. After being sick with a stomach bug yesterday morning and spending much of yesterday sleeping, he’d awakened, famished, at 4 a.m. this morning and had been awake since. I’d expected him to fall asleep after lunch today, after his busy morning at preschool, but he no longer takes naps at home, so off to the library we went to pass the time until it was time to pick up my older son from school.

I Carried the Olympic Torch Today

No, really. I’d like to say that’s why I haven’t posted anything here in three weeks (you know, because I’ve been running across Siberia), but that’s not why.

But I did carry the Olympic torch today!

Here’s how it started. I was in a cafe, working, when this came through my feed:

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“Animals,” of course, refers to members of the Trail Animals Running Club, a local trail running group I’m part of. Everything they do is a blast, with great spirit and a sense of fun…and usually pretty hardcore, except when it’s not. So naturally my ears perked right up.

Like any responsible working person and mother, I turned to Facebook: “So….Would YOU go pull your kindergartner out of school early to help run the Olympic torch across the city?”

A resounding “yes!!” all around. Next step: Emailing the kindergarten teacher to see if he felt this was a legitimate reason to pull Max out of school early. He seemed to agree.

Tremendously exciting stuff, right? Carrying the Olympic torch through Boston on its way to Russia for the 2014 Winter Games?

Weirdly, I couldn’t find the torch schedule online, nor any mention of its coming through Boston. Well, I thought, they probably try to keep it low-key so they’re not overrun with mad crowds.

I checked Facebook again.

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OK. This sounded like the real deal.

I realized Ben might feel left out if Max and I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without him, so I called his preschool to discuss picking him up early. The timing worked out. But when I got there, they’d been explaining to Ben about the Olympics, and he seemed to think I was picking him up so that I could ski and dive in competition. I chattered on about how this torch was going around the world, all the way to Russia, and how it had been to the bottom of the sea and up in space (no, really, it did go the International Space Station!).

With both boys and the stroller and a pile of snacks in the car, we headed to Fenway Park. For the first time in weeks, I was not late for something. I was, in fact, 45 minutes early. So what!

I made sure the kids were bundled up in snow pants, winter coats, boots, mittens, etc., since it was about 24 degrees out. Then we spotted the Red Sox mascot, this green creature named Wally, standing in front of a big group of people. I assumed it was a Fenway Park tour. Then Wally started jogging down the street carrying a plastic-looking thing.

“Look, kids,” I said. “He’s holding a fake torch. We’re waiting for the real one to come by, and we’ll run with that one.”

Wally overheard me and pointed to his torch.

“What?” I said. “That’s the real torch?” He nodded vigorously. “Ok, kids,” I said, wheeling the stroller around to chase him, “Here we go!”

Wally and the crowd headed into Fenway Park. I spotted four runners waiting outside. I nodded to them, hesitated, and then followed the crowd in.

The other runners followed me. We walked right past the security guy like we were part of the main group. Then we were on the infield, near third base. Wally and the crowd posed for photos; it was clearly a hand-picked crowd.

Yes, it was very cold.

Yes, it was very cold.

Wally, the torch, and the hand-picked crowd were behind me, getting their pictures taken.

We wandered out again and I found/met Sam, the TARC guy, and realized I’d met him on a long trail run a year or so ago. He’s a fast local ultra-runner who, when he himself isn’t racing, does things like pace friends for 58 miles of their 100-mile races. No, really.

Then we met a guy who seemed to be in charge, and I found out the real story of our mysterious Olympic torch-carrying. Gary, who’d put out the original summons to runners, works for Avaya, the company handling all of the telecommunications/network for the 2014 Olympic Games. The official Olympic torch is actually several; it’s not a single torch that is carried from Greece to the games site. Several different ones are used. So…the Olympic Committee, or Russia, or whoever handles the used torches, sent one of the used-in-the-official-Olympic-torch-relay torches to Avaya as a thank-you.

Avaya, for their part, sends the torch around the country, where it is photographed in various locales and at different events. Today in Boston, the torch* was to be photographed at Fenway Park, then at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Logistics of driving it there were not working out (parking, traffic, etc.), so the company had the brilliant idea of asking one of its employees, a diehard runner (Gary), to run it there. Wanting to make it a fun event, Gary put out the word to local runners he knows, who put out the word…

So there were maybe 10 of us there to run with him.

Except instead of running at 3:30 p.m. as planned, we waited…and waited…and waited…

Milling Runners

Milling Runners

Turns out that due to some miscommunication, the torch had accidentally been driven over to Boylston Street after all. Oops! So after a few phone calls, it was supposedly on its way back to Fenway.

This took an hour.

Finally, torch in hand, we headed out to run the mile from Fenway Park to the finish line. Except now it was getting dark.

No matter. We started running. We all took turns carrying the torch. It wasn’t lit, because after our run it would be dropped into its shipping box, brought to FedEx, and delivered to Detroit, its next destination. Someone (I will not name any names) joked about how Detroit would probably sell it to pay its debts. Anyway…So FedEx doesn’t like to ship flammable items, or items that have recently been filled with a flammable liquid.

That thing is heavier than it looks. Everyone had a chance to carry it, including both Max and Ben. As we ran down Boylston, Gary started announcing to the people we passed, “Olympic torch! Olympic torch from Sochi!” As we were a small band of mismatched runners with no papparazzi, no one seemed impressed. At one point, in fact, I worried people might think we had stolen the Olympic torch…or else were just insane.

We got to the Boston Marathon finish line. When there was a break in traffic, we took some pictures on the finish line, in the middle of the street. The official photographer never made it, as far as I know. We eventually left, as it was the kids’ dinnertime, and they were getting cold, and it was just time to go.

Me with the actual Olympic torch, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Me with the actual Olympic torch, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Though Ben was mad that we left the scene; he wanted us to run with it to Russia, even though I tried to explain this torch had already BEEN to Russia.

And that, in short, is how I came to carry the Olympic torch through Boston.**

 

*This is the actual path of the actual relay: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Winter_Olympics_torch_relay.

** I’ll spare you the part about how one child was crying from cold feet when we reached the car, and how the other was really hungry, and the first one was too cold to be hungry, and it was then dinnertime and we were firmly stuck in rush-hour traffic in Boston, and I decided to “beat the highway traffic” by driving crosstown through Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville (not any faster, but we got to see some lovely Christmas lights!), and I realized we had nothing for dinner at home….but really, you have heard enough by now. We carried the Olympic torch.

 

 

How to Sleep

“Lie on your side, facing me,” Andy said. He’s my physical therapist. I’ve been having some back problems (nothing too exciting, nothing too damaged). “We didn’t talk about this last time, but what position do you sleep in?”

“On my stomach,” I said.

He started to explain how this was problematic even for people who don’t have back problems, because turning to the head to the side for so long can really torque the thoracic vertebrae.

“Um, well, it’s not all night,” I said. I pictured a typical night: I start out alone in bed, on my stomach. C comes to bed an hour later; there’s some shifting around. A few hours after that, Max or Ben climbs in with us, and I sleep on my side, curled around the child. Another hour or two, another child climbs in, and I end up on my back between them.

This is hard to explain to someone, especially if that person gets to enjoy going to bed alone or with one other person and waking up in similar conditions.

“Here,” said Andy. “If you’re on your side, you want your pillow height to be like this” — he tucked a thicker pillow under my head — “and you can also roll up a towel lightly for under your neck, like this” — and he gently put a rolled-up thin towel under my neck. Then he studied me.

“And to support your lumbar spine, you can put another folded towel here. Lift up,” he commanded, and he slipped a folded towel under my waist. “And of course this is important, too,” as he slid a pillow between my knees.

I lay there for a minute, envisioning sleeping in such a supported fashion. It was nice.

“You can also hug a pillow in your arms to further support you and keep you from rolling forward,” he said.

“Oh, if I am on my side, I’m usually leaning on the small child in front of me. So I tend not to roll forward,” I said.

Andy nodded.

“And sometimes there’s another child right behind me, so I don’t roll back.”

Andy’s expression indicated he probably didn’t experience this kind of thing. “Let’s talk about sleeping on your back,” he suggested. “So if you roll onto your back, you’d remove this” — he pulled the pillow from between my knees, the other from my arms, and the folded towel from under my waist — “and you’d want a thinner pillow, more like this one” — he replaced the pillow under my head — “and you might want a different or smaller rolled towel under your neck. You can even put it inside the pillowcase, taped to your pillow, so it’s always in the same place.”

I lay there in the new position, thinking about the other night, when I woke up at 3 a.m. to find Max hogging my pillow. I’d lifted my head to pat what I was using as a pillow and realized it was Ben’s butt. Ben didn’t seem to mind, and I couldn’t move Max off of my pillow, so I’d put my head right back down on Ben’s butt and went back to sleep.

“So give this a try,” Andy continued. “Either on your side or on your back, with these supports.”

I will. I will indeed. As soon as the kids leave for college.

How to Make Friends and Influence People: Preschool Edition

Ben is mastering some key social skills. The little guy no longer clings or wails when I leave him at preschool. No, now he always brings something with him and marches right in to show it to his friends, who greet him by name as soon as we open the door.

Yesterday he brought in his light saber (a long green flashlight, basically) and had a small pouch clipped onto his jacket. Into the pouch he’d stuffed a batting glove (you know, a rubberized glove that baseball players wear when batting).

At preschool, all the other kids crowded around to admire his light saber. Then they noticed the pouch and wanted to know what was in it. He gleefully pulled out the glove and showed it to them. Then he handed the glove to his pal O___, who asked to see it. The other kids demanded to see it, too.

Ben, in the midst of all these clamoring children, raised his voice like my own little Owen Meany and, quite cheerfully, shouted, “YOU’LL ALL GET A TURN!” and magically all the kids quieted down to wait.

 

Ben and the Lifeguard

Ben may have a new fear of lifeguards. Oops.

I took the boys to the town beach today, also known as Wright’s Pond, which is actually a small lake or gigantic pond (what is the difference??). It’s a clean, fresh lake only open to town residents. It’s a short drive away (or bike ride, but it’s up a hill, and pulling both kids in the trailer uphill these days is no walk in the park, so to speak). It boasts a big sandy beach, lifeguards, concession stand, changing rooms, outdoor showers, restrooms, a playground (two, actually), trails in the woods….a pretty excellent “summer playground,” quite honestly.

We all swam for a while, me and the boys: this means Max is swimming along in his mask and snorkel, gathering crowds of older boys who are only wearing swim goggles and are clearly fascinated with his gear…

…and Ben, wanting me to hold his body as he practices swimming, or else asking me to “throw me up in the air and catch me where I’m going to land” (or sometimes “don’t catch me” but I always do, to some degree). They love being in the water.

Eventually Ben wanted to dig in the sand instead. Max wanted me to stay in the water with him until an older kid asked him to help dig a huge hole in the sand. Max agreed immediately, and I got to sit on the blanket and read, glancing up often to make sure they were still on the sand.

Then the screaming. Ben came running up the beach, bee-lining right at me, emitting an earsplitting, nonstop shriek. I put down my New Yorker and watched him approach. He stopped short in front of me and quieted when I put my finger to my lips.

“Are you OK, honey?” I asked, knowing he was. It was one of his screaming-to-make-noise screams, not a scream of fear or pain.

He nodded.

“Ben, you can’t scream like that. If you scream when you’re not hurt or not in danger, the lifeguard–” I jerked my thumb to the right, to indicate the lifeguard stand we were near– “will blow his whistle at you. And he will say, ‘Hey, you! You need to be quiet! You can’t scream unless you are having a problem! Be quiet, please!’ So please keep it down, okay?”

Ben glanced furtively at the lifeguard, then back at me, his eyes wide.

“Now,” I continued. “Are you hungry, sweety? Do you want a plum?”

He nodded. I held out a plum to him. He pulled my hand to his mouth to eat the plum, glancing at the lifeguard between bites. He didn’t make a sound.

The lifeguard, when I glanced over, was watching Ben and smiling big, like he was trying not to laugh.

Then Ben indicated he was done, and with a last glance at the lifeguard, he turned and ran back to his digging work.

Some time later, he came up to me, shivering.He wanted to sit for a while, but only if I rinsed his feet off first (he told me very quietly), so I carried him to the water, swished his feet, carried him back up to the blanket, and wrapped him in a towel. I positioned his drink so he could just lean over and sip from the straw; then I went to join Max in his “work.”

Ben, wrapped in his towel, watched us solemnly…and kept turning his head to look at the lifeguard. I think he was still expecting to get whistled at if he let out so much as a peep.

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Hopefully next time we go he’ll be more relaxed about the lifeguard and not be in fear that the lifeguard will target him for noise violations.

On the bright side…quiet’s not so bad!

 

Stuck on How to Entertain Your Kids? Try the BabbaBox! (review and giveaway)

Ever wish your kids would just hang out at the kitchen table doing something together where you can keep an eye on them as you make dinner, instead of beating each other up playing in the living room?

Me too! But they don’t like to sit and color, and one gets frustrated when he writes sometimes, and neither seems that interested in drawing. They’d much rather put on costumes and chase each other with improvised swords while devising new ways to jump on the furniture (trust me, there’s more than one way to make a room into an exciting obstacle course!).

Last spring I was invited to Barefoot Books in Concord, Massachusetts, to meet the founder of BabbaCo. BabbaCo makes these really cool boxes full of themed activities for kids aged 3-7. BabbaBox is a subscription service; while you can, I believe, order just one box, you can also subscribe to have a BabbaBox delivered to your doorstep each month.

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The kids could decorate musical instruments while we were learned about BabbaCo and the BabbaBox. Also, there were plenty of snacks, and a Barefoot Books employee read to the kids.

The company’s founder, Jessica Kim, is a total dynamo — and extremely personable, to boot. Before the event, she took the time to read each attendee’s blog and then wrote a personal note on each blogger’s gift bag. How’s that for taking the extra step to connect? It also says something about the level of thought and detail Jessica brings to her company.

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While my sons weren’t too excited by the first (partial) sample BabbaBox we received that day at Barefoot Books (theme: birds and nests), they were really excited by the next BabbaBox we received, which was more of a science kit: safety goggles, beakers, a dropper, food coloring…so much cool stuff! Sure, some are items that we have around the house, but here it was all put together with ideas on interesting things to do with it all!9-contentsofbox

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We got busy immediately. We decided to start with the “Magic Mud” project (cornstarch and water, basically).

Max pours carefully.

Max pours carefully.

Ben tastes the materials.

Ben tastes the materials.

The brothers add food coloring and water.

The brothers add food coloring and water.

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Things are getting intense.

Things are getting intense.

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This is a stunning amount of cooperation from preschoolers just before dinner!!

 

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This may not be THAT conducive to getting dinner on the table, but I had helpful cleaners!

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Another day, we tried a different project. Ben mixed water and ice cubes and food coloring. Max was supposed to mix oil and ice cubes and food coloring, but we only had coconut oil. I melted it, but of course it hardened again upon meeting the ice, which made for a really neat experiment.

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Though my goal had been to keep the kids occupied while I made dinner, I frankly wanted to play with them and the kit instead. I got them set up, intervened enough to keep Ben from eating all the cornstarch (but not enough to keep him from going crazy with the green food coloring), and stepped in to help whenever asked.

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It didn’t have to be this messy, but I tend to let go when it comes to exploration. You can’t really understand materials if you can’t push them to their limits (or at least fling them around, see if they can fly, see how they glop and drop, test how they smear on different surfaces…right?).

I don’t know what the other BabbaBoxes hold, but the Kitchen Science one was fantastic and keeps my kids busy to this day, with the vials and droppers and such. BabbaBoxes also can come with a “sibling kit” so you can get whatever extra materials you need for a sibling (extra safety glasses, etc.).

A BabbaBox could be just what you need to get through August or to have a calm afterschool activity once the school year starts.

Three lucky readers will receive a card with a discount code for $5 off a BabbaBox! Just leave a comment below! What kinds of projects or activities do you come up with to do with your kids? Or…do you feel like you need some help/ideas, such as Babbabox can provide?

I received two BabbaBoxes (one full, one partial/sample) for my review. All opinions are my own.

 

Post-Vacation Song

We got back from Iceland 48 hours ago. That sounds romantic and adventurous and nice — and the trip certainly was — but in those 48 hours since returning we have:

  • Processed and planned a menu around a double CSA share
  • Picked up one car from the mechanic, dropped the other off, and then picked up the second one
  • Gone to two medical appointments
  • Gone to work, both of us
  • Run 5 miles in the midday heat
  • Unpacked 8 days’ worth of stuff
  • Done 17 zillion loads of laundry (ok, C dealt with most of the laundry)
  • Cleaned out the fish tank
  • Made breakfast out of nothing the first morning back
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Arranged for home repairs
  • Found a new preschool for Ben
  • Visited new preschool for Ben
  • Scheduled and bought tickets for a couple of children’s theater performances
  • Arranged the sitter’s new schedule from now until September, based on changes on her part
  • Applied for some new work
  • Met the new editor I report to
  • Commuted by bike
  • Popped a rib/vertebrae out of place* so that I cannot turn my head to the left nor really use my left arm
  • Attempted to contact my chiropractor to fix above problem, but she’s out of town until next week and her suggested replacements were closed today
  • Didn’t die biking while unable to look to the left (seriously, try going through a rotary on a bike when you can’t look to the left!)
  • Cleaned our house (um, yeah, C mostly did this)

There are probably a few things I’ve forgotten, and there are still some items on my to-do list, which I hope to take care of tomorrow (tomorrow includes a run, a medical appointment, and work, all to be completed by 1 p.m., when the sitter leaves, after which I’m taking the kids to a worky-thing until 3 and then hosting a playdate until dinnertime).

I know some people deal with triple-times this much every day, but I feel like my time is either running around to appointments and trying to squeeze in work or else home with the kids, who are still disoriented and fighting and whining and crying and I don’t understand why we can’t just pop over to CVS like normal people, for chrissake, to pick up a light bulb for the fridge. One kid stops whining and hitting and gets his shoes on, but then the other one has no pants on and refuses to change that situation. First child keeps insisting we leave, while second child keeps refusing underwear/pants/shoes. It gets exhausting.

But we have a new preschool! And more sitter coverage! More work for me! And — since I wrote this last night — I woke up this morning to find I can mostly turn my head again!! And the children are cheerful this morning!

So all is well. Charging onward!

What is your post-vacation transition like? Pure madness? How do you get into a routine again?

 

 

 

 

 

The Pond Has Opened: Summer Begins

*fwehhh* [blows off dust from blog]

Hey! I didn’t mean to leave you all hanging for so long! We’ve been busy composting and swimming and picking raspberries and mowing the lawn with our not-so-sharp hand-pushed human-powered mower so that we can set up our air-leaky inflatable pool for the kids.

And swimming at the local swimming hole, which finally opened. It’s lovely and nice and fun and safe for kids and the entire town is there. Ever notice someone in line at the grocery store or hardware store, or someone from the playground, or that weird neighbor from down the street, and think, “Wow, wonder what he/she looks like in a bathing suit”?

Well, Wright’s Pond gives us town residents that chance. I mean, everyone is there. You get to see all kinds of tattoos. And in the first weekend, going both days, I already figured out some people’s tendencies, like the older dude who hangs out by the float-rope swim boundary, just standing and watching (not in a creepy way, just in a “I like to hang out here and just stand in the water” kind of way).

Or the guy with the tattoos that I don’t understand, as if he’d been in a Cambodian street gang or something– except I don’t think he has– and hangs out in the very shallow water, lying down on his stomach to watch his kids dig in the sand.

Or that woman in the tankini who watches everyone and then blogs about them (hey, wait, that’s me!).

Speaking of my tankini– which I got this year to just have less skin that I needed to sunscreen–  I had some woman come up to me with the pond to compliment it and ask where I got it. When I told her (Athleta), she said, “Oh, that’s what my husband thought!”

Weird, right?

One thing that’s been holding me back from blogging is the use of photos. I am giving myself a break for the summer. Photos are great and important and all, and I could really be using my Pinterest account to help drive traffic, etc., but honestly it just holds me up too much, at least for now. So there may be fewer photos this summer, but it is in the name of posting.

And here’s where I leave you with two kid quotes:

Not Yet in Kindergarten But Social-Media-Savvy: This morning I was discussing with Max some very funny videos he’d taken, one of which I want to post here but it’s on C’s phone and I need to download it. “I want to put that video on my blog,” I told Max. “What do you think?”

He thought for a minute. “No, put it on Facebook,” he said, my little social media guru.

You might say that if he were really up on things he would have said Vine or Tout, but they have six- and fifteen-second limitations, respectively, and his video is a good three minutes long and he knows you need the whole thing to maintain the narrative flow and carry the subplots. I’m telling you, the kid is good.

Recently Voted “Most Likely to Fall Out the Window While Using the Aquarium Vacuum as a Gun…and Wearing No Pants” I cannot come up with a cute anecdote about Ben right now except that he’s really a live wire. Cute and snuggly, but totally independent of mind. Hey, that’s my excuse for not blogging much lately! Too busy keeping him and us safe. Right now I’m seeing where he wrote on the wall the other day (!!! Max never wrote on the walls!! What the–??). It’s pencil, thank goodness.

I think that was the day his new passport arrived and he thought it was a neat little coloring book with his picture in it. Ooohhhhhhhhh….I managed to wrest it away just in time (you’re welcome, Customs officials!), but in his annoyance he took it out on the wall, apparently. Or something.

Ok. Must go feed the beasties– I mean, children– and get us out the door into the blazing sun and heat. I wish we had a full-body sunscreen sprayer to walk through on our way out the door. It would be a real time-saver.

Full-Time Parenting, Nonstop, This Week

So this week I’ve been home nonstop with the kids. Max has had camp, but Ben was home sick for a few days. It’s shocking how much I can’t get done with one or both kids home with me all day, when I give up and realize I can’t actually work. It’s also weird how much I did get done.

Tuesday, for example,

  • I bought a compost bin (which involved going to two different places, city hall and the city DPW yard) and assembled it and got it started.
  • I bought and installed a window air conditioning unit.
  • I ran errands at Target and the pet store (aquarium stuff…we now have four small fish but still no cat. The fish are totally not my thing, but I didn’t mind picking up a tank vacuum and flake food).
  • I researched and ordered a chest freezer.
  • In the evening, I went to a book launch party as well as a freezer meal workshop, hurriedly feeding the kids and finding their PJs, applying dress/makeup/earrings to me, packing coolers so the prepped meat would stay cold while I was at the launch party….where I found myself with crayons and composting instructions in my bag instead of lipstick and the mini iPad. Oops!

This was all, except for the evening stuff, with Ben in tow. I also, of course, made all the meals, packed the snacks, dropped off and picked up Max from camp, did laundry, and tidied the house.

The previous day, Monday,

  • I’d made and did all the meals/snacks/laundry/drop-off/pick-up etc.,
  • drove 35 minutes to a doctor appointment,
  • had Ben announce he had to throw up just as they called me in,
  • left the doctor’s office without seeing the doctor, and drove back home,
  • brought Ben with me to buy an enormous amount of food for Tuesday’s freezer meal workshop,
  • saw Ben throwing up in his car seat when it was 93 degrees out and I had many pounds of cold and frozen meat in the car and was going to be barely on time to pick up Max from camp,
  • saw Ben fall asleep in his car seat and realized I had just enough time to get the meat home and into the freezer/fridge,
  • picked up Max from camp not quite late (waking up Ben to carry him in, in a clean shirt but still smelling like vomit), and so on.

And then cleaning all that up and letting the boys entertain themselves while I prepped the food (sliced, chopped, diced, trimmed, into 10 separate gallon-sized ziploc bags!–and YES, there was plenty of handwashing before I started).

Max was very excited to compost, almost excited as me. I am so thrilled about it and wish we’d gotten one years ago. It’s not pretty, our compost bin, but it’s a place to put all our many, many food scraps. I no longer will save every veggie scrap in bags in the freezer to make into stock. I can let go of the cut-off crusts of bread without thinking I should make them into bread crumbs (we have quite a supply of homemade bread crumbs in our freezer already, and we rarely use bread crumbs, anyway).

Today, Ben woke up normal temperature and hungry, hooray! Which meant I did all the usual stuff and then we picked up Max from camp. (Lego robotics camp, did I mention that? He loves it.)

Then we composted (Max’s idea–I love that my child bugs me about composting, as in, “Mom, can we go put stuff in the compost bin now? Please?“). We mowed the lawn, first Max and then me (don’t worry, it’s a human-powered push mower and not terribly sharp; sometimes it gets stuck on a particularly tough mustard stem; I’m pleased Max is finally strong enough to push it, because it’s not easy). The boys started a digging/raking project in our side garden, and we all worked through a light rainstorm until it was time to head to the preschool graduation potluck.

So it’s been a very busy week, and I got a lot done…a lot of physical/busy stuff done. I was busy, for sure. Nonstop.

But did I answer many emails? Get much work done? Get many (or even more than one) post written? Apply for or seek out new work? Engage much in social media (much of that is for brand/professional reasons, thank you very much, not just “wasting time on Facebook”)? Get things planned?

No, no, no, no, no, and no. I didn’t use my brain much at all this week. I was too busy with the day-to-day. I can see how some people can find some satisfaction in that. Me, I want to work on other things. I did manage to make some dentist appointments and a hair appointment and pay some bills online, plus edit a few things, so I’m proud of those accomplishments. Yes, I am proud I managed to schedule two dentist appointments. That’s the kind of awesome I’m living these days.

Plus, my PMDD (premenstrual dysphorric disorder) is a’ raging this week, Code Red, bombs away, etc., so some sitter time would have been very nice for all of us. But next week! And the week after! We’ll have lots of sitter time then, and it will be awesome.

Thanks for bearing with me during this quiet week (quiet for you, my readers; not quiet at all for me!). I have no photos of this week, though I did consider taking some pictures of the compost bin assembly (you know you’re a blogger when…).

So, instead, here are some photos of what we did last Saturday. The furniture in my kids’ room is hand-me-down. A neighbor gave us the dresser, and by chance we elsewhere got a nightstand that exactly matched. Both ugly as heck, cream-and-gold, psuedo-Georgian or something.

dresser

Ugly, right? Functional, sturdy, and neutral, but UGLY.

So Max and I went to the hardware store and picked out some paint. Though I admit lightly guiding his choices (I couldn’t bear “Light Mint”), he was the one to choose Yosemite Blue and Grassy Fields Green. We brought the nightstand outside to the yard, sanded it and cleaned it and then painted it. While I’m kind of a perfectionist, I had to let it go a little (though I instructed him to paint with the grain, and I caught some of his drips). He did a great job, and I did the detail work, and it dried quickly in the warm breeze.

By the time the boys went to bed that night, they had this cheerful thing between their beds:

nightstand2

Much better, right?

Painting furniture is so much faster and easier than staining it! We’re going to do the dresser next. The colors are strong, but we like them.