Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kindness Matters: A Conversation

My husband has our car for the day, so I have packed up our kids and all of our things for the day into the stroller - the Ladybug riding in the seat and Little G standing on the "scooter". We are headed to the Boston Children's Museum.  It opens at 10, but if we take the next train, we won't get there until close to 11 and then we won't have significant time to do all of the things I know Little G will want to do.  So we leave early and walk in the significantly cold morning the .7 miles to the train station.

We are standing and waiting on the only platform that accommodates strollers/wheelchairs and Little G is throwing all of the weight of his 3.5 year-old status at me this morning and refusing to wear his hat or mittens, yet remaining very upset about the cold.  Because he is whining and lets out a yell at me, I tell him that if it happens again, we are going home and he expresses his frustration at that statement, but settles down.  The train pulls up to the platform and we bustle onto the car.

A well-dressed, older businessman seated at the door into the car touches my arm and says brusquely, "this is the quiet car."

I respond, "I know".

A few months ago they designated the car closest to the engine a quiet car.  Passengers are asked to silence cell phones, speak in hushed voices and turn down the volume on electronic devices.

The man is persistant, "you can not be here".

"Why?", I ask.

"They can't be in here", he sneers, pointing at Little G and the Ladybug.

"They'll be fine", I assure him, pointedly.  Passengers are waiting behind me to board.  Little G has started up the aisle that I know I don't fit down with the stroller.  People are stealing glances at us from their SmartPhones.

"I saw him on the platform.  He can't be quiet", he continues to sneer, gesturing to Little G.

"You, have no idea if he can be quiet or not," I say curtly, my face starting to flush. "This conversation is over."

I enter the car further and have to call Little G back towards me.  A woman gets up so that we can sit next to the window and the Ladybug can stay in her stroller.  We are one seat away from the angry man.

"Little G," I ask, whispering,  "The man who was speaking to mommy isn't acting nicely and he doesn't think that you can be quiet on the train.  But I KNOW you can be quiet on the train.  Let's see if we can prove that man wrong."

I ask him if he'd like a granola bar.  He does.  I locate one in our bag and give the Ladybug 1/4 of it to keep her happy and I say a little prayer that we make it to South Station.

The conductor stops by to collect our fare and tells me that the man has no right to tell us we can't be there.  Only she has the authority to do that and there's no room elsewhere for a stroller, so we're fine. She apologizes that the people in the quiet car tend to jump on others.

We ride into the city and not one word is said from my 3.5-year-old son; not a peep is made from my 14 month old daughter - for the entirety of the train ride until we start to pull in to Back Bay.  Little G whispers as we pull into the station, "Mommy, why was that man talking mean to you?"

"Little G, that man might be having a tough morning, or he might not be feeling well.  Something in his heart might not feel right so he wasn't acting kindly.  And that is ok.  We can ask God to guard his heart and comfort him.  And we can forgive him for not being nice."  He goes back to staring out the window.

As the train stops at Back Bay, the majority of the passengers leave the train.  One by one, they pass Little G and the Ladybug and I smile at us.  A woman says, "don't let him ruin your day".  She waves to us through the window from the platform as she continues on her way.

The train continues on to its last stop.  It is only the man and us at this end of the car.  As we pull into the station, he gets up and we start to gather our things.  I look in his direction and say, "Sir?"

Nothing.  He faces the door pretending he can't hear me.

So I continue.

"Sir, I know you can hear me and it is important for my children to hear me say this:  we forgive you and hope your day gets better.  I hope that you'll remember this next time."

He can not leave the train fast enough.  Little G, the Ladybug and I wait for the remainder of the passengers to exit the car.  The conductor stops by again to apologize and we head out into the cold to the Children's Museum.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So many hours of my life I will never get back...

...and totally worth it for the smile alone.

As are most three-year-old boys, Little G is mildy obsessed with the movie Cars and its star, Lightning McQueen.  So when Halloween rolled around, it was not a surprise that he asked to be Lightning.  I looked around the internet and only saw one Lightning McQueen costume that was fabric and got low ratings because it was floppy.

So I took to Pinterest and Google Image and not only found an AMAZING costume, but a full account of how said costume was made.  I procured a stroller box from a friend having a new baby and we were off!

At this point in the process, Little G couldn't contain his excitement and kept insisting he drive it.

By far, the hardest part of this costume was getting the top of the car cut correctly with the appropriate angles so that it would fold into the right shape.
Once I added the hood, it really started to look like Lightning
2 coats of primer and three coats of glossy red paint!!
I made wheels in Illustrator, got logo graphics from a Cars listserve and printed them and mod podged them on.

I was starting to worry about how I would attach straps until I realized I had a cheap (less than $5) backpack from when Little G was at camp over the summer.  I just cut the top and bottom of the backpack off and that allowed the straps to attach from underneath to the car.

Little G and his dad had such a fun time trick-or-treating that the next week he asked me to make him a Tow-Mater costume so we could go out and get candy from people's houses!

The only drawback was that our neighborhood is very hilly and many of the houses are up several stairs - most of them are up entire flights of stairs.  My poor husband had to carry Little G up and down all of those stairs because Little G couldn't see the ground around his costume...oops.

The Ladybug got to represent Pixar too.  She was Boo from Monsters' Inc.  Sadly, she had a fever so she didn't get to enjoy trick-or-treating.

I keep joking that Little G is going to be Lightning McQueen for Halloween until he is 18, but really, the joy in his face when I showed him the final product was totally worth the hours it took to make it.

 What was your favorite Halloween costume from when you were a kid?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Monday Return


I drove Little G to school today like I do every day. Tires splashing through rain. Late autumn darkness shadowing the roads.

We spoke to Little G at dinner on Saturday. He is so young, but he listens. He hears. He understands.

We let him know that at school he might hear other kids talking about some things that sound scary. He told us an ornament was falling off the tree. We assured him that he is safe. He picked his nose. We encourage him to come to us or his teachers if he had any questions. He asked us if he could be all done so he could race.

I drove Little G to school today like I do every day. Radio tuned to Christmas music. A beloved toy for entertainment.

I reminded him that there might be a special visitor in his classroom like there was on Friday. The classroom parents have been volunteering to come in and share holiday traditions. He asked me if it would be a parent and if they would say something scary.

He listens. He hears. He understands.

I think the parent will share something fun, Little G. But if you hear something scary today, don't forget that you are safe and you can ask your teachers any questions you have. He tells me if he hears something scary, then he will turn and walk away from them. Walk away, Little G.

I drove Little G to school today like I do every day. The rolling drop off is barren. I'm the only one in line.

The head of staff is there to open the door and greet us. The daily greeters are gathered together behind him waiting for more children. They are teachers. Allies. They are the men and women I have seen every day at drop off since school began. I look at them and see. They are the men and women who would lay down their lives to protect my child.

The rain is pelting and dripping over the car. Bright yellow boots slide out merrily. He takes the hand of a guardian, a trusted guide. Have a good day, Little G. I love you. Bye mommy! He waves and I pull away.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Ladybug Turns One!!!

As previously mentioned, Ladybug turned one in late October.  I know it is such a cliché to say this, but holy heck did THAT go fast!!

The day of her birthday was gorgeous and we had good friends and family come over to help us celebrate.

And because nothing is ever simple in our lives, we also scheduled our two cords of firewood to be delivered that day AND our winter CSA pick up was during the party.

At least the wood delivery provided entertainment for the masses


...that's a LOT of wood!

Soon it was time for cake.  Ladybug could have cared less...but her brother was stoked!

Interestingly, the last time I had a child turn one I mildly freaked out about the cake.  I was just going to get one from the supermarket and when I saw that the icing was crazy red and blue balloons I panicked about the amount of unnatural stuff in the cake.  So I figured I would make a cake and headed to the cake boxes.  But then, once I picked up a cake box, I realized that the same stuff I was worried about in the bakery cake would be in the box cake mix as well.  So then I decided to make a cake from scratch.  Which is how I found myself on the morning of Little G's first birthday making a freaking cake from scratch with buttercream icing that he BARELY touched!!

This time around, I bought the box of cake mix and a tub of icing.  I did end up making it into a mini-layer cake by baking it into a sheet and then cutting out three circles for the layers...but other than that it was just your basic boxed cake mix cake.

I'm so proud.

And now we have a series of pictures where you can truly see Ladybug's newly discovered I'm-above-all-you-people personality shine:

Oh look - my people have brought me food

this food looks questionable and is on fire

the older child is telling me to touch this piece of food

well great, now it is on my hands

um...  ew.


I can't help myself!  It really is quite delicious. The people in charge here have actually outdone themselves for once


Little G and friends were glad that Ladybug had deemed her cake worthy of eating.  They were even more glad that mommy couldn't have cared less about the amount of dyes and crazy ingredients in the ice cream cake.

Yeah...that's blue.

Soon it was time for presents.

And eventually, it was time for napping and wood pike conquering.

It was a great day with family and friends and enough left over chili to feed us for another two days!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What to Bring

As I have talked about often, when I have the day to spend with both of my kids, it is imperative that we get out of our house.  As long as there isn't a major weather situation going on, I pack up my two children and myself for the day and we hit the pavement, choosing to either walk the mile to our train station in our neighborhood or to hop on a bus at the end of our street and ride the two miles to the subway station.  From there, we can go anywhere in the city.

But packing a newly-potty-trained preschooler and an infant for the day without relying on the insta-storage a car trunk provides can be daunting if you haven't done it a lot, so I figured I would share my stroller basket with you all (note - clearly these aren't to scale):

1) Diaper bag with baby essentials - extra clothes, diapers, wipes, bottles, formula - the normal load

2) Potty essentials bag - potty seat, extra plastic bag and and extra set of big-kid clothes

3) Fold up blanket - if the ground is wet, I need a place for the baby to get out of the stroller and roll around without getting soaked

4) Lunch - I use a couple of different bento boxes and pack a lunch just like if I were sending the kids to school, however if we're headed to a museum, I may plan to buy lunch there.


   Snacks - Typically I pack Barbara's granola bars (which apparently they don't carry anymore.  Boo.), fruit and some crackers and peanut butter or popcorn

5) Small, thin towel and bathing suit - one never knows when you might happen upon a sprinkler park along the way

6) Toys - I have a few, small inflatable balls that squish down very small, but are lots of fun to play with at our destination.  Usually I bring along a truck or train for the older kid to use.  He likes to have something to do when I can't be interacting with him i.e. if I'm feeding his sister

7) Water bottles for me and the big kid

8) Uppababy Vista stroller with Piggyback ride-on attachment - my Vista has been a workhorse from day one of bringing our oldest home from the hospital as both of our children spent a month sleeping in the bassinets in our bedroom at night.  These days, Ladybug rides in the stroller and Little G uses the ride on attachment.  For the most part he walks, but we live in a really hilly area, so if I want to get somewhere quickly, he hops on his "scooter" and we're good to go.  Combined with all of our things in the basket and my kids, the stroller can top over 90lbs (20lb stroller + ride on, 20lb baby, 40lb child, 10+lbs gear!) and I can still steer the stroller on our bumpy, city sidewalks with one hand.  Plus, the basket is HUGE which is essential for being out all day.  There's no way we could do these adventures without our trusty Vista.

So what do you pack to go out for the day with your kids?

To see some of our recent adventures out and about, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Occupy Our Street

Last week I told you all about the last two weeks of summer.  Looking back, I can honestly say it was a magical two weeks.  Oh there were lots of tantrums and other blips, but all around, we had a great time chasing the sun every day and I can actually say I am looking forward to doing it all again next summer, too.  

As the summer came to a close, we got an email from our friends, 'Roberta' and 'Chris', who live in downtown Boston with their two children, the eldest of which is a year older than Little G, their youngest, 6 weeks younger than the Ladybug.  Turns out their son, Wookie, was slightly obsessed with the idea of going camping.  And while it was a great idea to try some backyard camping, they neither had a back yard nor any camping equipment (nor expertise for that matter, but who needs expertise for backyard camping?).  Low and behold, my former roommate, 'Laura' and her husband, Grins Quietly, had a tent they could use and we had a back yard.

So we planned for the Sunday of Labor Day weekend to be camping out night and thus Occupy ____ Street was formed.

Laura and Grins Quietly brought their seemed so small at first.

First thing's first at the campsite, we need to inspect our equipment

Hurrah!!  Little G's tent went up quickly!

Behold, the world's largest back-yard tent - seriously, do you see how it takes up the entire width of our back yard?!  Note my husband's tent hiding out inside the North wing. 

The next step is to man your BBQ

The Ladybug and Wookie's baby sister, Storm Trooper, check things out.

Hot dogs, veggies, pasta salads, beer, friends...what more could a camp out need?

The view of our campsite from above

The girls check out the action below...

Just what is going on down there that is so funny?

Oh yeah, the sleeping bag monster comes out to play - not pictured is when Wookie decided to use sleeping bag monster as a piñata

Soon the sun started to set so it was time to start our campfire

Technically, we aren't supposed to use fire pits within the city limits, but everyone does. The bigger issue for us was that our house is on the corner and a very ornery fireman lives caddy corner from us, so we were pretty sure he would call someone to shut down our operation.  However, with a tent the size of a camper in our backyard, he never even saw it ;)

- - - Fast forward to darkness since the picture taker had to take the Ladybug inside to go to bed - - -

Time for s'mores!
This is my favorite photo of the night for Little G's expression alone!  You couldn't find a happier kid..
...except for maybe these kids!

After s'mores it was time to get ready for bed.  Daddy and Little G read a bed time story.

'Chris' and the Wookie in their tent-mansion

No camping trip would be complete without a pancake and bacon breakfast in the morning (which was VERY early in case you were wondering) 

The Ladybug clearly was spent from all of the commotion.

Once the tents were all packed away, the boys decided to take over Little G's's much better than a tent - it has its own kitchen, you know.
Occupy _____ Street was such a great success (especially for me...I got to go inside and sleep in my bed all by myself).  I'm really looking forward to this being a summer staple for us.

Did you ever camp in your back yard when you were a kid?