Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventure Time - "Who would cross the Bridge of Death"...

Apparently there's a name for what I've been doing with my kids, "playground hopping".  I like it! There's definitely hopping involved.  Every time we get bored, we just google up a new playground.  I have been bad about posting our excursions, so I thought I'd start playing a little catch-up.

This morning, when we got in the car to go to our neighborhood playground Doc Princess said, "Mommy, you have to take us to the new playground, okay?  The brand new one I never seed before."  (She's still working on past tense.)  So, I acquiesced, and we tried this place:

The Children's Adventure Playspace (CAPP) at Halloran Park, Stoughton, MA

The playground at Halloran park has been renovated recently.  In fact, they're still adding sprinklers and reseeding, but already it seems like a popular place.  When we were there, the parking lot was nearly full of minivans and SUVs bearing those vinyl stick figure families.  Herds of toddlers and preschoolers were clambering over the equipment.  The area has that soft, cork-y surface (I'm not sure what its called), which is good for Buster, who trips over his own legs all the time.  There is a big slide off to one side of the playground.  Somehow, my kids never noticed it, which was a relief for me because there's a big sign on the structure that reads "AGE 5+".  Doc Princess uses the potty now, so as far as she's concerned she should be able to drive, start her doctorate, and become a fighter pilot.  No one's going to tell her she can't use a big slide.

Age 5+?  To my 3-year-old, that's a dare.

Halloran Park also features a carousel-type structure, something like what we had as kids but designed to be a lot safer.  The designers made a bit of a blunder, however; the sun makes the black rubber floor scalding hot, like a griddle - great for cooking children.  Whenever it's sunny this summer, the carousel will be pretty much unusable to any kid who can't cling to its exterior while it's spinning.  And doesn't that sound super safe?

Empty, because this carousel is actually a child-cooker.

Child-cooker aside, this is a wonderful place to play.  Again, the surface is fantastic, the structures are new, and the playground is within a grassy park, complete with paved paths for strollers and trikes.  I know several other moms and dads who like to take their kids there.

I should also note, the timing of our trip was fortuitous.  We happened to walk into the middle of a fun event - a STEAM StoryWalk.  Carol Carver of the "Self Help Coordinated Family and Community Engagement" Program teamed up with the Stoughton Public Library for the walk.  We were able to read a story, play with sensory tables, and complete a fun craft.  We also received a hardcover children's book (about bugs!) once we finished the walk.  

Digging in the dirt during our STEAM StoryWalk

Self Help facilitates a wide range of events and programs for families in Plymouth, Bristol, and Norfolk counties.  As far as I can tell, all of them are free and open to the public (although some require pre-registration).  I check out their calendar every so often, because - free, educational fun!  Here's the website:

I'll leave you with a glimpse at my favorite structure at the CAPP, a "bridge of death"!

"Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see." 
"WHAT... is your name?!"
"WHAT... is your quest?!"
"WHAT... is your favourite colour?!"

Oh yes, we played that game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What time is it? Adventure Time!

First, let me just start by saying I deserve a little plaque.  It should read: "Survivor Mommy: Winter with Two Toddlers".  It wasn't pretty, but we all made it through relatively unharmed and (hopefully) untraumatized.  Now, we enjoy the sweet, sweet reward...

Playgrounds, parks, nature trails - all of them, free and open all day!

There is a wealth of wonderful resources on the internet listing attractions for kids in our area, including playgrounds, but I thought I'd add my two cents, anyway.  Doc Princess loves playgrounds more than doctors or princesses, so I figure we can become adventurers - explore strange new playgrounds.  Boldly go.  Something like that.

Before our first expedition, however, I wanted to start with our go-to spot, the Walter Griffin Playground (AKA Ames Street Playground) in Sharon, MA.  We spent an hour-and-a-half there today, and the kids went wild.  It's spacious, and it sits alongside four baseball diamonds.  Like many playgrounds, one side is geared towards younger children, and the other side has larger equipment for the older (or more adventurous) kids.  There are a few structures designed specifically for toddlers, including a train-tunnel and slide.  There is a jungle gym shaped like a pirate ship, a sea serpent (no, it is not a dragon), swings, slides, a couple of music stations, and an unsettling set of sea-saws designed to confuse children.

Wait, why isn't this working?

There is a strange, creepy box in the middle of the playground.  It has a dial, and if you wind it up and have your child say something, the box records it.  Then, it plays your child's message back at you, except it is no longer in your love-bug's sweet, high-pitched voice.  The box twists the tone so that your baby sounds like the killer in a slasher film.  Isn't that fun?

Creepy box.  It looks colorful and fun, but don't let it fool you.

Also, and this is a reason I have a love-hate relationship with the Ames Street Playground, there is sand.  Everywhere.  It is a playground inside a gigantic sandbox.  That isn't to say there is no sandbox in the playground.  There is, and ironically, there isn't much sand in the sandbox.  It's more of a dirtbox... in the playground... in the sand pit.

Sandbox, more box than sand

To be fair, there is a part of the playground that isn't sandy.  The section around the sea serpent (again, not a dragon) is filled with wood chips, instead - perfectly sized for Buster to shove into his mouth.

Not a dragon

Also to be fair, Doc Princess and Buster enjoy the sand immensely.  Whenever they feel a creative urge, they just drop to the ground and cover each other with it.

Aside from the obvious mess-source, the playground is kept pretty clean.  Families occasionally "donate" things like sand toys, dump trucks, and Cozy Coupes.  The place is littered with used items, and the children appreciate them.  The only problem with the donations is that they break quickly, and you can sometimes find plastic bits strewn about.  

As with most playgrounds, you're usually out of luck if your little one "NEEDS THE POTTY NOW!"  There is a concession stand next to the playground that has public restrooms, but as far as I can tell, those are only unlocked during baseball games.

All of my criticisms aside, my children adore the Ames Street Playground.  That's what matters, and that's what keeps us coming back.

Just stay away from the creepy box.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mid-shopping Snack

At some point, I'm told kids stop being so adorable.  Thankfully, we're not there yet.  Much happened over the holidays.  Here's a nugget:

(Scene: grocery store, with both kids sitting in a "car cart".)

Doc Princess: "Om mom nom!"  Nuzzling Buster's neck, pretending to eat him up just like Daddy does.

Buster: *whines*

Me: "Okay Hunny Bunny, enough for now."  Hands the kids apples.

Ten minutes later...

Doc Princess: "Mommy, can I have some more?"

Me: "More what?"

Doc Princess: "More brother."

Me: "Oh, okay."

Doc Princess: "Om nom nom nom!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Baby's Sunshine and Thunderheads

My husband told me I should write about Buster's incredible ability to cry real tears, every single time he gets unhappy.  I'm not kidding -  every.  single.  time.

At 13-months, Buster is as adorable as any toddler.  His default mood is bright and sunny, ready for adventure.  The second something goes wrong, however, he goes into drama king mode, and that includes tears.  It's absolutely amazing: heartbreaking to watch, sometimes panic-inducing, sometimes even comical.

The silver lining to his little cloud is that all he needs to feel better is a Mommy or Daddy cuddle.

Here's the thing that concerns me a little.  I don't think Buster cries crocodile tears.  (Doc Princess, on the other hand, is an expert at fake crying.  What an incredible toddler ability, huh?)  I think, when he cries (which is always), he is genuinely, terribly upset.  Even if his world-sundering grief lasts for less than 10 seconds, that has to take a lot out of a little man.

Now, I can be emotional too; I have my fair share of frustrated outbursts - but I'm trying hard not to blow up around Buster or Doc Princess.  I want to help with the mood swings, not the other way around.  For example, when something spills, we say, "Uh oh", in that sing-song, super-mommy way.  Maybe if I pretend to be super-mommy hard enough, it will happen?  Let's just say I don't think Santa will be getting me a cape for Christmas.  But I digress.

Last night, Buster broke down when I removed the TV remote from his reach.  I could almost see the thoughts running through his head:

"Noooo!  That was the best remote ever to exist, and you took it from me!  It's gone forever!  I hate youuuu!  Oh, please hold me before I fall apart!"

When I cuddled him, Buster buried his face in my shoulder, whimpered a little, wiped his snotty face on my shirt, then cackled and tried to steal my glasses.  Back to normal.

He cackles a lot, by the way.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Extreme Mommy Mortification, in Less than Two Days

Some god of comedic humiliation must have found out I started a blog this week.  I already have much to atone for in the mommy mishap department.

Both of my children take swim lessons at an aquatic therapy center, through a wonderful organization called Pods.  Usually, my mother helps me out by coming along with us, so I can get in the pool with Buster during his "Parent and Child" class.  Today, I was all alone, but one of the swim instructors offered to keep an eye on Doc Princess during her brother's lesson.  We went for it.  I scrambled after children, herding one or the other away from the pool, pulling on swim diapers and getting peed on, hauling my son into the pool and prying him off of me long enough for him to "swim" - but we made it through both lessons!

I was thanking the instructors and quietly congratulating myself for a job well done as I led my kids into the baby changing room.  I peeled the wet swimsuit off my son and got him diapered.  I put him down and pulled off my suit, started reaching for my clothes, and I heard a click behind me.

Then I heard a creak and a cackle, as Buster threw open the door and bounded out.

Several thoughts ran through my panicked head, not exactly at once, but definitely overlapping (and that's bad because I need my thoughts one at a time):

"Oh god, I'm naked!"
"Buster's escaping!"
"I'm still naked!"
"Buster's going to fall into the pool!"
"Towel... towel!  Where is it?"
"I can't believe he's about to drown while I'm naked!"

I stumbled out in nothing but a towel barely clasped around my torso.  No free hands - they were a critical part of my attire - but that didn't stop me from grabbing Buster and tripping backwards into the dressing room.  Outside, there was a stunned silence.  Then, "No no, honey, make sure you stay away from the pool."

Doc Princess was missing.

So, I did what any self-respecting mommy would do.  I picked up my son and used him to hold up my towel while I retrieved my little girl.  And I laughed at myself.  The other mommies smiled as if to say, "I've been there."  That helped a lot, even though I'm pretty sure none of them have ever, ever been there.

So that's the story of how I got naked and almost let my son drown.

I still can't believe he managed to get the door open.  It was one of those bar-handle knobs that you just have to pull downwards, but I was sure it was too high for him.  Maybe he jumped for it like a terrier or something.  Good job, Son.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dinner Magic

We have this magic bucket in the kitchen.  It makes dinner.  Really slowly.  I "set it and forget it".  And even if (when) I really do forget it, nothing burns!

And now the the chilly weather is here, I'm told slow cooker meals make even more sense.  I knew there was a reason for the cold.

Anyway, I tried a new recipe yesterday, and it seemed to go over well.  Minestrone soup:

I thought the V8 juice was going to be weird, but it worked out.  Oh, make sure you use a huge crockpot.  The recipe makes enough soup for a whole herd of kids and daddies.  Also, next time I'll use elbow pasta, so (Dust)buster can more easily grab them, throw them off his tray, and eat them off the floor.

Buster and Doc Princess approved.

The Vacuum and Baby Meals

I just dustbustered my child.

I know this probably isn't the best way to start a blog, but I figured I'd better be honest, or this won't be worth reading.  Is it better that my 13-month-old boy enjoyed being vacuumed?  He giggled and wiggled his belly as I attempted to remove the coating of toast-crumbs he'd acquired over breakfast.  It was a vain attempt.  He's now crawling around in nothing but his diaper.  Oh, look, he found a stale Cheerio.  ...And its gone.  My little man is a dustbuster, too.  I need better mommy reflexes!

My Dustbuster has an older sister, a beautiful two-year-old girl - a self-proclaimed Doctor Princess - who is allergic to sitting at the table for meals.  She is sweet, and she is also pretty funny in a weird, of-course-because-she's-my-daughter kind of way.

For example, this morning she told me she loves babies.  I said, "Yay, me too!"  She said, "Mommy, they're not for eating.  No, no, no."
Okay.  I promise not to eat any babies.

I don't exactly have a plan for this blog, but every once in a while I do something with my children that makes me feel like a good mommy, and I feel like this would be a nice way to show off without annoying anyone.  I can also share my many, many mishaps, as a way of atoning for my bad-mommy moments.

Like dustbustering my child.