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 piƱata

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?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Summer's Best Two Weeks - week two

Previously, we had traipsed all around the Boston area on our days off and I had discovered that if we kept ourselves busy, than we we actually had a fun time.

On Monday in the morning, I had an eye doctor appointment at Mass Eye and Ear.  I had been so nervous about having the kids with me, but couldn't cancel the appointment.  So I packed up all of our stuff and we headed out, but THIS time, I brought the iPad and Little G's headphones with us so we could watch the Winnie the Pooh movie (conveniently, exactly an hour long).  Of course, for the first time EVER they were running on time and I was literally done in less than 20 minutes!  So we headed back to the park where we had been on Sunday so that the Ladybug could get out of the stroller and Little G could continue watching his movie.

Little G sits in a beautiful spot on the Charles River...watching an iPad.  I can only imagine what people must have thought who were walking by this scene!

After a while, and oddly, before the movie was even over, Little G decided he was done so we went back to the playground we had visited on Friday with my husband.  My plan was to go to the Frog Pond in the Boston Common and play in the sprinkler park and then head home...but I forgot that in order to get to the Common from where we were, we had to walk past the Swan Boats in the Public Garden.
Little G checks out the Swan Boats and the ducks
And here's where things get a little embarassing.  I generally don't carry cash with me, opting instead to carry my license, ATM card and a credit card in a case along with my phone.  This works really well for me except for times when I happen upon cash-only establishments...such as the Swan Boats.  Because Little G is three, we work very hard to set expectations and thus diminish meltdowns and tantrums.  So we walked up to the Swan Boat kiosk, but I told him (and repeated myself several times) that if they didn't take plastic money than we weren't going to ride on them today.  Of course, since I was saying that out loud, the tourists gathered around all heard me and started offering to pay for our ride.  I was mortified.  Mostly because I felt like a panhandler, but also because these kind people had no idea that we were locals who can enjoy the Swan Boats whenever we want.  But they were all very persistent and then I felt like a Swan Boat Grinch, so I took their offers and we headed onto the Swan Boats!  It was the Lady Bug's first ride and she woke up from her morning nap in my trusty Storchenweige wrap just in time to enjoy it.

Keeping both children safe on the boat while simultaneously taking pictures and getting snacks out of the diaper bag was quite the challenge.
One of the logistics that gave me anxiety each day were potty logistics.  For the most part, we were able to find potties to go to since Little G was mostly potty trained at that time.  However, when he announced to me after the Swan Boats that he had to poop(!) I mildly panicked!  You see, there really isn't anywhere to go for a public bathroom when you are in the Public Garden.  I looked up desperately and saw the Four Seasons gleaming down at me.  So I hauled the kids over and walked inside and explained to the concierge that my son was potty training and could we use the bathroom.  He mentioned that there was a bathroom at the back of the restaurant down the hall and then looked at the Ladybug in the stroller and promptly suggested I take the elevator to the second floor and use the bathroom by the conference rooms since there were lots of steps all throughout the restaurant.

I headed up the elevator and when we got to the bathrooms they were locked!!  Then Little G said rather desperately, "are we going to be at the bathroom's soon?"  I went into action-mommy mode and quickly grabbed the Ladybug out of the stroller and abandoned the stroller at the top of the stairs and ran down the steps and into the restaurant.  At the back, just as he had said, there were bathrooms.  And not just bathrooms, but HUGE separate in, the picture below is just one stall.  I couldn't hold the Ladybug and help Little G, so I had to put her down.  I decided the bathroom floor at the Four Seasons  was probably MUCH cleaner than the floors in my own home and promptly plopped her down.  Little G pooped.  I took a picture -- because I'm apparently a freak -- and we traipsed out past the lunching ladies and back up the stairs to our stroller - tragedy avoided...just a normal day in the life of super-mom (please tell me you detect the sarcasm)!  When we got home, the kids went down for their naps and I headed to a dentist appointment.

Oh yeah...I instagramed the hell out of this picture - I have no shame.
We did our normal bus, train, splash park, walk, lunch, CSA pick up, bus, home trip, but this time we did it with Little G's friend from school, Twirly Girl, and her mom and baby sister.  When we got home the kids went down for their naps and I headed out to the orthopedist.

Little G works on a puzzle before we head out for the day.

Since we had been out every day, we took a day to stay close to home, this may have also had to do with the fact that it was raining in the morning.  We made forts out of sheets and chairs and eventually left the house to go get Little G's hair cut.  In the afternoon, the kids napped while I headed to physical therapy.

Waiting for our haircut
We had big plans for Thursday with our beach friends from the week prior.  We decided to head out to one of the Harbor Islands for a picnic lunch.  One of the great things about Little G's age is that the adventure is all in getting there and isn't just about the destination.  We booked tickets for the Boston Harbor Cruise and after our typical bus to train ride we caught a boat out to George's Island.  We only ended up staying for a little over an hour before we had to get in line to catch the next boat back, but it seriously was an awesome adventure!  After making our way home the kids went down for their naps and I headed to a therapy appointment and then to an event at Boston's FLOR store.

Heading out of Boston Harbor

Little G chases some geese on the island

This is the closest we got to exploring the fort because it was "dark and scary"!

The crew on our way home!  I seriously love my mama friend.
My sister came to visit her fiance who lives in Maine and she flew into Boston, so they visited with us for a couple of hours in the morning.  Afterwards, Little G and I tackled half of the ginormous basil crop in our garden and made a few batches of pesto to use through the winter.  My husband stayed home from work that day so he stayed with the kids while I headed to physical therapy again.

That's a lotttttta basil!

My helper
It was the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend so we headed out to a local playground to check out the sprinklers.  It was a generally low-key day in preparation for the next day, Sunday, which was potentially going to be epic!  But you'll just have to wait to see what happened... (click here to see the next post in this series)

The Ladybug enjoys a slide

Interested in seeing what we pack for a day out like this? Click HERE!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Summer's Best Two Weeks - week one

So let's go back again.  Back to the summer.  I wanted to write about this as it was happening as it was truly magical, but we were so busy and life was so full, that there was just no time to even comprehend all of it, no less write about it.  But let me start at the beginning.

You see, for all of the summer, Little G had attended 'camp' at his former school.  I dropped him off at 8:30am and picked him up at 5:00pm and while he was away he did all SORTS of things: the Children's Museum, the Science Museum, the Frog Pond, a community center with a pool, the Arboretum, various playgrounds, etc. Many times doing two of those things a day!  He often came home exhausted, having not napped, but deliriously happy.  Little G had camp for five weeks during the summer, prior to and just after going to the beach for the summer*.  Then, after that camp ended, he attended a Welcome-to-School camp for a week at the school where he started this past Fall.

At the end of a full summer, there were two weeks staring at me on the calendar.  Two weeks with no camp and no school.  Two weeks entertaining an energetic, feisty three year old.  We were hoping that the woman who was going to start nannying our daughter and our neighbor's son in the Fall would be available to help out those two weeks, but she had a gig for all of August for the mornings.  I ended up hiring her to come to our house in the afternoons so that I could run to a whole host of appointments varying from physical therapy to the dentist to the orthopedist, etc.  In the meantime, I needed to figure out what we were going to do to keep ourselves from going crazy.

I was terrified.

So, I defaulted to the plan I always make when faced with such a dilemma and I made sure we got out of the house every day...and when I say get out, I mean we got OUT!!  Here's a not-so-quick rundown of our very full days:

Our VERY full calendar.  I didn't write our daily activities on there, but you can see I had something going on pretty much every afternoon after the kids went down for their naps.
WEEK ONE - Monday
I don't have any pictures from this day - but we were lucky enough to know about a story-time and lunch time activity at a local church, so we headed there.  Afterwards, we went to a playground and then headed home to meet the nanny so I could head off to physical therapy.

Over the summer, Tuesday is the day we pick up our CSA box.  The previous summer, when Little G wasn't in camp, we would head out together on the bus and then the subway to get to a sprinkler park where we met friends.  Then we would head to get some lunch and afterwards, we would pick up our share and take the bus home in time for Little G to sleep.  This summer, with him in school, he missed most of the pick up days, so it was nice to head back to our stomping grounds with his sister along as well.

Little G pushes the stroller at the subway/bus stop

After nap time (there was no nanny that day) we were able to get some play time in in our back yard...because he seriously never quits!

I decided to head out to the Science Museum with the kids since Little G always talked about how much fun he had there.  We left the house with the stroller and took the bus to the T and then switched lines at some point and walked over to the Science Museum.  I had never been other than for specific exhibits like the StarWars exhibit or Lord of the Rings, so it was great to witness Little G rediscover some of the things he had liked earlier in the summer.  After the long treck home, I headed to Physical Therapy.

Checking out the Charles River view from the museum

Little G explores a wind exhibit
Little G has a friend from his camp who's mom has become a good friend of mine.  She is funny and friendly and she gets my jokes and I just love her and her son.  She's also expecting a baby daughter in early December so she claims she's been using me as her mentor for getting out and doing things with the kids.  We decided to head to the beach that day. Unfortunately, where we headed was rather mucky and it was low tide, so we made a last minute change to the plans that added at least 40 minutes to our drive!  By the time we found a place to park in the crowded beach town where we ended up, we really only had 90 minutes to eat our picnic lunches and enjoy the beach...that said, we had a blast.  But a beach with babies and preschoolers is not a great place for picture taking, so I only got this one of both my kids sleeping in the back seat of the car.  This was HUGE as I can't remember Little G falling asleep in the car since he was a baby.  After tucking both kids into their beds to continue their naps, I headed out to go grocery shopping.

My husband took Friday off from work that week and instead of all of us hanging around at the house, I thought it would be fun for him to see just what it is we do with our days.  So we all headed out on the bus to the T and decided to explore a park near the Charles River.  It was great for my husband to get a better idea of the enormity of what I do every day logistically to get our kids out of the house for the day.  Eventually we made our way back home and I got ready to go out with my 2nd time mommy friends.

Little G rides the T

I loved being able to take a picture back towards the Science Museum, especially since we had been there earlier in the week.

I'm not sure I would allowed this were I on my own, but with my husband right there, we let Little G explore the floating docks so he could see the boats more closely.  He's actually very trustworthy in situations like this because he's used to the pool at our neighbor's house that has a deck surrounding it.

I met my 2nd time mommy friends at Legal's Harborside and it was DELISH!! Smart me - I took the bus and the T for the third time that day, just so I could drink respectably and cab it home at the end of the night ;)

As per usual during the summer, we spent our weekend over at our neighbors' house enjoying their pool.  This picture seriously makes me miss summer.

I don't have a picture of this, but we had a playdate for the new students at Little G's school that day after church.  He had a great time meeting some new friends.

The week came to a close and I realized that it hadn't been nearly as scary as I had thought it would be...but there was still a week to go... (click here to read the next post in this series)

* I haven't spoken up on this blog about the complete and total heartbreak I feel over my beloved Jersey Shore.  The beach I call my own that I grew up with, as well as the town that they were in, are completely decimated.  There isn't a single structure that wasn't affected.  Most are unsalvageable. In time, I hope to write more about my thoughts on the storm and the aftermath, but this post is not the place.

Interested in seeing what we pack for a day out like this?  Click HERE!