Summertime. I mean, really.

First day of summer break. Awesome and awful all at once. I woke up Monday to a child screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mama!” I jumped out of bed worried about what the screaming was, only to find that the boys were watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Augustus Gloop’s chunky butt was screaming for his mommy from the tube. I crawled back into bed for a minute.

Once I gained my bearings I climbed into my running shoes and poured a cup of coffee to chug before my summertime baby-sitter arrived. I hired someone (actually a teenager I used to babysit when I was a teenager) to sit with the kids in the morning Monday through Friday so I can continue on with my runs while the boys are on break. She pulled into the drive way and I took off.

I got a great run in, although I’m still not in what I consider “shape”, I was able to run two, under 9 minute miles so I was good with that. I relieved the sitter and hopped in the shower. Afterwards I worked on garage organization while the kids played in the yard, searching for worms so we could go fishing. We were starved by 11:30 and the boys have established an obsession with Subway so we loaded into the car, had sandwiches (veggie for me – have I mentioned that I’ve lost 6 pounds since the beginning of May?) and then stopped at a convenience store to pick up bait (you can buy bait, beer, chips, dip and lottery tickets all at the same venue in Ohio).

We pulled into the park and unloaded our fishing gear. Josh’s dad bought the boys fishing poles and all that goes with it so I fumbled for a few minutes trying to figure out how to pull the line through the rod, hook the bobber and attach the hook. I managed though and within little time the boys were looking at me like I was the definition of badass 🙂

We fished for about an hour, maybe a little more, and I was impressed with how quickly the boys caught on. Theo could cast like a master fisherman and Parker caught three fish! I was also a little surprised with how unafraid Theo was. He’s usually very squeamish about all things but when it comes to animals something is just different. He caught one fish, grabbed it and began to release the hook when Ruby tripped over his line causing the hook to dig into his finger. He freaked out for a minute but it wasn’t that bad so he shook it off like a champ. In the meantime, every fish Parker caught waged a war between he and I. I’ve declared this summer as the season of learning and I’m digging my heels in when it comes to making sure the boys do the things they can do, on their own. I read an Ann Landers quote recently that basically sums up my personal parenting philosophy and I’ve taken it to heart.

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Anyway, I told the boys from the get go that I would help them bait their hook and cast a couple of times but that was it. If they wanted to fish, they had to fish. Parker was totally creeped out by the wriggling fish every time he reeled one in so we spent about four minutes per fish (the first two at least) arguing about whether he should pull the hook from the fish’s mouth or whether I should. And then the third fish happened. I watched him literally, mistakenly, cast his rod into the first dip of water and within two seconds a fish had caught. Excitedly, he reeled it in only to find that the fish had swallowed the hook. As soon as I saw it several choice words flew through my brain.

Park worked on getting that hook out for about three minutes before I finally said, “Okay, we’ve got to get this fish back into the water or it’s going to die.” I threw the fish back in still attached to the hook. Parker flipped. He was going to de-hook this fish and save its life. He told me to reel it in again because he was going to get the hook out. He asked that I gently step on the fish so he could get a better grip and then he proceeded to try every angle while tearing up and bickering back and forth with me for twenty. minutes. Twenty minutes. It was so pitiful and though I was annoyed with his squeamishness, I felt so bad for the little guy by the end of it. Eventually I told him it was a lost cause. The fish was dead. We had to cut the line and just throw him back. All three kids broke down crying and we all hugged in the 85 degree weather by the pond in the park.

We called it a day and discussed whether we’d ever go fishing again. Theo said absolutely not because he “can’t handle when things die. Except for germs.” Parker said yes because he had had a blast until the third fish fiasco but next time he’ll bring gloves to better handle the fish. We headed off to the library to return some books and check out new.

When we got home I realized that I had left the garage door open. Now, our garage is not for our car. It’s at a really terrible angle in our driveway and I’m actually not even sure that our van would fit even if we could make the required turn. If I had my way, I’d tear the damn thing down. On top of our inability to use the garage for what a garage should be used for, we need a new door. The one we have is ragged, ugly and off the tracks.

As I pulled the door down, the stupid thing got stuck. With my handbag and library books in my right hand, I used my left hand to partially  re open the garage door so I could pull it closed, but as the door dropped, my left hand caught inside of one of the sections and began to smash as the door continued to lower.

Though I didn’t make any noise, all I could think was, “Holy shit, my fingers are being cut off and I’m here by myself with my three kids who will just be completely traumatized.” Parker thought it too because he screamed and said, “Mom! Are your fingers there? Are you fingers there?” I dropped everything I was holding in my right hand and slowly began lifting the door. As the door lifted, it got tighter and I grew even more scared thinking there was no way out. Luckily, after a certain point I realized that I could manually separate the sections of the garage door that my hand was stuck between and managed to escape with a minor gash and three bruised knuckles. It actually didn’t even hurt that badly but it was scary as shit. I held it together until I was in the house and then 5 minutes later, when the kids were distracted, I called Josh and broke down crying.

The rest of the night was filled with vodka and lemonade (duh), eating dinner outside and Face Timing  my aunt, sister and husband. After the kids were in bed I vegged on the couch while drowning my sorrows in Housewives and London Ladies. Day 1 is in the books.

 

Weekend Recap.

As usual the weekend flew by way too quickly as we moved from one thing to the next.

A few weeks ago Parker said, “We haven’t done any family things this summer.” (yeah. I laughed too) and when I asked him what “family things” were, since apparently family things don’t include baseball games, the beach, museums, weekend trips, etc., and his response was bowling or swimming at a pool. So Friday we took the kids to the pool at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn but not before driving into DUMBO to grab some food from the Korilla BBQ truck. Josh and I love The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and Korilla was our favorite a couple seasons ago. As to be expected, it was fantastic. We headed to the pool then and had a blast for a few hours as the kids swam and played in the water. Parker talked me into allowing him to go off of the dive, into 12 ft deep water, completely by himself without anyone waiting for him for the first time. Of course he swam great and as soon as he reached the side where I was standing, he blurted out “I told you I could do it!” before he even took a breath.

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Saturday we woke up and left the island before 8 am for Cape May. Our dear friend was having a birthday party to celebrate her daughter’s 5th birthday and we were thrilled to be able to be there this year. The party was a “Teen Beach Movie” theme so there were water games, leis, and gorgeous hibiscus cupcakes made by our amazing baker friend, Becky. It felt so nice (and weird – it still feels weird to be there but not be home) to be back in our old neighborhood hanging out with all of the old people. Constantly having to leave your friends is so hard but getting back together and watching the kids pick up exactly where they left off like they just played together yesterday is so awesome. Even though our babies don’t always get to live by each other they have made lifelong friends and so have we.

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Sunday was the beginning of the end of summer – school shopping. We headed upstate to some outlets and spent the day picking out boring school uniform pieces and making up for it with lots of cute baby girl clothes. On our way home my sweet husband, who plays along with all of my shenanigans, took a detour into Franklin Lakes so I could check out the neighborhood of my very favorite Jersey Housewives :). The town is just completely beautiful and I have to assume that Teresa Guidice is an outcast with in the community. We headed home after picking up some groceries and with that the weekend was over faster than it began. Next weekend we have a little surprise planned for the kids so we’re already looking forward to it!

A spontaneous night at the ballpark.

Yesterday afternoon I got a text from Josh asking if I’d like to go to the Yankees/Angels game. The NYC USO (which rocks!) was giving away free tickets and Josh was going to take his lunch break to run to midtown and pick them up. Of course I said absolutely – it’s on our NYC bucket list! The boys were so excited when I told them we were going. They’ve both been going to baseball games since they were babies and they love it. Plus Theo is a self proclaimed Yankees fan. He tells everyone his favorite team is the Yankees and wears his Rivera shirt twice a week. Tonight after the game I asked him why he likes the Yankees now and he said, “Well, you know, I got this shirt and I just really think their logo is pretty cool…And I was born in New York!” Valid.  photo IMG_6119_zps7d714b7f.jpg

We took the train all the way from downtown Manhattan to the Bronx on what was honestly the train.from.hell. The 40 minute ride made me believe that we were all being punished for doing something terribly wrong. It was like a version of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. But once we got to Yankee Stadium the rest of the night was fantastic! The weather was absolutely perfect, the boys loved the game and we got to see Alfonso Soriano hit two homers while Ruby was an angel and danced and ate stadium food.  The train ride back to lower Manhattan was nice and clean and easy and there was no traffic on the drive home.

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It was such a great night out with the family! Thanks again to the New York USO for making it happen!

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Birthday Weekend!

What a great weekend! Friday started off with the arrival of our friends Gerard and Chelsea from back home. They came to spend the weekend and celebrate with us the big day – Josh’s 30th birthday! We took the kids and headed into Manhattan for a late lunch and then came back to the house to get ready for a night out sans children! We put the kids to bed, gave the sitter the rundown and were on our way to the Brooklyn Brewery.
Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 8.18.48 AMThe beer was excellent and the atmosphere was cool but we were definitely out of place amongst all of the hipsters. A friend of mine had joked that we needed to wear our flannel and skinny jeans to fit in and she was right – so after a couple of beers we decided to leave and grab a late dinner back in Manhattan. Earlier at lunch, we had eaten outside at a pizza bar on Stone Street and were all drooling over these fries we saw from another restaurant. Seven hours later and we were still thinking about those fries so we headed back to Stone Street and made our way to The Growler. photo IMG_5892_zps209d0add.jpgThis place was fantastic! We got a table, ordered a few more beers and had a great meal. The atmosphere was much more our style and though it was a low key restaurant/bar, there was a dj for the night which made it a little more upbeat. After dinner and some laughs over our inability to take a good picture we bought Josh a birthday cupcake from the ferry terminal and called it a night.

Saturday was a beach day. We headed to our usual spot on the Jersey Shore and spent hours playing in the water, sand and surf. photo IMG_5935_zpscff80e83.jpg photo IMG_5951_zps35a1228b.jpg photo IMG_6023_zps581316a5.jpg photo IMG_5961_zps4bcb9c9b.jpg photo IMG_6014_zpscd017225.jpg photo IMG_5974_zps8b287a06.jpg photo IMG_6008_zps0398e5a9.jpg photo IMG_6018_zps10d3c7e3.jpg photo IMG_6020_zps359c49b2.jpg photo IMG_6022_zps9d90d435.jpg photo IMG_5995_zps79005abb.jpgWe asked a man to take our picture and this is as good as we got. Not a good picture but a great day!  photo IMG_6033_zps1f3718ad.jpgOur friends were leaving Sunday but before they headed back to Ohio we wanted to squeeze in one more day of fun so we left the house before noon and made our way to the famous Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Josh, the kids and I have been to the original before (now called Juliana’s) but never to the one that’s rated the best pizza in NYC (and one of the top five in the US!) so we waited in the 30 minute line outside until it was our turn for lunch. The pizza was delicious but I have to say, definitely not the best in NYC. photo IMG_6075_zpsf0ed7b62.jpg photo IMG_6087_zpsd31a12e0.jpgAfter lunch we walked the Brooklyn bridge, took the the train to Times Square and made our routine visit to the M&M store. photo IMG_6098_zpsb14f1d12.jpg photo IMG_6110_zps3aeaeebe.jpgWe didn’t have much time to spend since Gerard and Chelsea had to get on the road so we called it a day and said our goodbyes. Though it’s really no fun when we have to say goodbye to our friends and family, I’m so glad we had this weekend together and I can’t wait to do it again. And one last happy birthday wish for my studly husband. I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as the kids and I did. After all, “you only turn 30 once!”

 

 

 

Random

  • A sign our boys are growing up – I’ve noticed less and less missing of the toilet, if you know what I mean.
  • Growing up, one of my friend’s mother used to read the Lord of the Rings series with her and her brothers. I thought it was the sweetest thing for a family to read an entire series of something together and promised myself I’d do it with my kids. We started a few years ago and read all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books together and started the Percy Jackson series as well. Tonight the second Percy movie comes out and I’m surprising the boys with a movie date. We finished the second book about a year and a half ago so they’ve been waiting a long time for this movie. We’ve only watched (and shrieked about) the previews 9,465,796 times.
  • Within the past 18 days, we’ve spent over $60 on tolls. It sucks living on an island.
  • I can not stand when Josh brings a half empty bag of chips into the living room but doesn’t cut the bag. Who wants to dig their arm into a bag of chips? Cut the top off!
  • Josh wants to buy the new Honda Odyssey solely for the built in vacuum cleaner.2014-honda-odyssey-13
  • Three awesome readers (all right, well, two awesome readers plus my sister) have used my Stitch Fix link which means I have $75 free dollars to spend on clothes! Woo Hoo!
  • Our good friends from back home are coming to visit this weekend for Josh’s birthday and I am SO excited. Six years since we’ve lived in Ohio and this is the first time we’ve had friends from back home come to visit us. Hopefully it’s the first of many.
  • The Pirates are still in first place. Josh requested that I include this.
  • Ruby is trying really hard to say her name but it’s coming out more like “boobie”. I have to say, I did not see that one coming.IMG_4740
  • Time Warner, our cable company here, just cut Showtime and CBS. If these channels aren’t back within the month we’re dropping them. Homeland and Survivor are two of our top five favorite shows and if we can’t even watch them why pay $160 a month? Geeze, I wish I could just seriously cut the cord.
  • Target’s back to school commercials are awesome. I’m absolutely one of those people who gets caught up in marketing. Remember the Gap’s old commercials?

A weekend in the mountains.

Because we moved this year and last, we haven’t taken a real vacation since 2011. Instead we’ve just been taking little day or weekend trips which is what we did this past weekend. Friday morning we woke up and were on the road before 8:30. What was supposed to be a 5.5 hour drive ended up being closer to an 8 hour drive due to traffic and stops but when we finally arrived we were not disappointed.
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We met up with my aunt, uncle and cousins at the house we rented in Wintergreen resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It was all the way at the top of a mountain so high that my ears popped during the drive up. The winding roads were lined with wild flowers full of butterflies which the boys tried to catch when we stopped to take in the views.IMG_5563

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Upon arriving at the house, I was surprised by my little sister who had made the drive up from Florida to join us for the weekend.

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 9.28.27 AMAfter going out to one of the resort’s restaurants for dinner, we headed back to the house to celebrate Josh’s birthday a week early since we were with family. We surprised him with a chocolatey chocolate chocolate cake – his favorite and spent the rest of the night playing a very loud and obnoxious game of cards.
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The next day, we headed into Charlottesville for the main event – Monticello. Parker has been obsessed with visiting here since he was in Kindergarten and learned about it during a money lesson in school (Monticello is Thomas Jefferson’s house and is the image on the back of the nickel). We started off with some Monticello root beer while we waited for part of the tour to begin.

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IMG_5627After realizing that we’d do better off touring the grounds self guided, we left the group and began exploring on our own.

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We found an activity area where the boys tried their hand at writing with a quill. It’s said that Jefferson could write two entire lines without redipping his quill but we could barely even get two words with one dip. IMG_5669

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And then it was time to finally enter Monticello. It is much smaller in person than we expected. Parker said it was much uglier too. IMG_5676

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Pictures weren’t allowed inside of Monticello but it was a really cool tour. Thomas Jefferson was way ahead of his time with the design of his house and it was interesting to hear how many things (like sky lights, double pained windows and swiveling office chairs) he’s credited with creating the first.

Ruby preferred the outside grounds so she and Josh skipped the tour and enjoyed the yard. IMG_5682

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After over three hours at Monticello we headed back into downtown Charlottesville to grab some dinner. We had eaten lunch at a yummy Thai restaurant but were starved after walking around the mountain all day. IMG_5688

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Charlottesville is such a cute and charming city. The entire time we were there Josh kept repeating that he just felt like this was “it”. The place we’re supposed to settle. He picked up a few different real estate books and noted several local companies he can apply to when his contract is up in a couple years. After walking around and checking out the little downtown “mall”, we decided on Citizen Burger, a cool burger bar that serves artisan burgers made with local meat. IMG_5691

After dinner we were stopped by baby chicks! IMG_5705
Some kids were randomly walking around with a box of baby chicks and the boys wanted to hold them. This picture is blurry but I love Ruby’s reaction in the background and that the chick is looking right at Theo.
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The next morning it was time to say goodbye to the house in Wintergreen and the rest of our family. IMG_5715

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They had to hit the road but we decided to stay and check out the activities that the resort offered. The boys wanted to try summer tubing and we had an hour to kill before our reservation so they decided to try the bungee trampoline and rock wall while we waited. The following series of photos are hysterical. Both boys went from being extremely excited to extremely terrified and back to having a blast and trying some flips. IMG_5718

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When it was finally time to try the summer tubing, Josh and I took turns because Theo was too afraid to go and one of us had to stay with Ruby. I have to say, it was a good choice by Theo because although it looks like nothing special it was really fast and scary. Way cooler than it appears! IMG_5748

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After our 30 minutes was up, it was time for us to hit the road. We had to head back to Charlottesville first because we had boarded Lolly there and needed to pick her up. We stopped for a few more pictures off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. IMG_5758

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We spotted some hang gliders getting ready to take off. Cra-zy! IMG_5757

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Then we stopped for lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant, picked up Lolly and headed back to NYC. We finished out this awesome weekend with the absolute best ice cream we’ve ever had. It was from Moo Thru, a local dairy ice cream shop on the side of the James Madison Highway. Perfect end to a summer vacation.

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We had so much fun and can’t wait until we can go back. Maybe to stay 🙂