Posts Tagged ‘fun’

The Gift of September

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Every year in New England, on September 1st, we all prepare for fall. It’s September. It’s Fall. It’s time to get out our cardigans and boots, sleep with the windows open and four blankets, pick apples, drink lattes, and throw around as many decorative gourds as we can.

And every year, on September 1st, we remember that it’s actually still summer.

But our surprise is a gift – doing fun summer stuff in September feels like cheating. I’m swimming in the ocean in September! (And don’t tell anyone the ocean is actually crazy warm in September, or we’ll have to share the beach with too many people.) I’m wearing sundresses in September! We’re having ice cream for dinner in September! Let’s jump in the car after school and do ALL of that on a Thursday!

All the things I was tired of – sand in my car, washing a million towels, late bedtimes, no plans for dinner, car naps – are once again charming and fun. I can sit on a towel by the ocean wondering why we don’t go to the beach EVERY day with absolutely no irony. It’s like my brain was wiped clean on the first day of the month and I’m ready for summer all over again.

The most pleasant part of the whole thing is in a few days (a week, maybe three if we’re lucky) it actually WILL be fall. I’ll vacuum all the sand out of my car and deflate all the floaties until next year. We will all start wearing pants and I’ll buy 3 new striped shirts. We’ll eat apples and chowder and cider donuts and the bakery in Mystic will smell like pumpkin and cinnamon instead of lavender and vanilla. We get our bonus, stolen summer right before the very best part of New England.

This is why we’re still here.

Linc and Finn’s Superhero Birthday Party!

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Lincoln turned 4 on July 23rd and Finnegan is turning 2 on August 30th. Since they’re only 5 weeks apart, they get joint birthday parties. I asked Lincoln what kind of party he wanted, and since he’s totally Batman-obsessed, his answer was A SUPERHERO BIRTHDAY PARTY! Finnegan has no objections because a) he’s still 1 and b) he also loves superheroes. I had a hard time narrowing it down to which superheroes – generic Super Hero stuff? The DC Universe? Just Marvel Comics? Am I a monster for mixing it all together? I decided I didn’t actually care and we went with every kind of Superhero from all the worlds. Fight me if you think that’s a crime.

After years of throwing Evan cold spring parties and Caroline cold winter parties, it is SO FUN to throw a party where 90% of the activities are outside. This was also the first party where I planned actual activities for almost the entire time – we had 2 straight hours of games before we did cake, then the grown-ups all got to sit down while the kids burned off some of their energy. It was the most fun I’ve had at one of my own parties ever, even though the noise level was insane.

Previous parties for Lincoln and Finnegan: 2017 Children’s Books, 2016 Camping Party, 2015 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

There is a ton of superhero stuff available everywhere from party stores to Target, so I grabbed stuff whenever I saw it. The pinata was from Walmart, the napkins are Party City, the backdrop and banner are from Amazon. All the crepe paper and regular balloons and silly string came from the dollar store and the quick-fill water balloons have been purchased for the last year every time I saw a pack on clearance (although they are available online as well). Let me know if you’re looking for anything and I can be more specific.

The party wasn’t just a party – it was Superhero Training School. The kids had to complete their superhero tasks in order to get a certificate (my husband had all the parents fill in the name once the kids were here).

The training stations included:

Hulk Smash Bricks
Laser Maze
Bomb Disposal
Web Slinging
Bad Guy Capture
Leaping Tall Buildings Practice
AND
The Infinity War

We used jumbo cardboard blocks to make smashable tours for Hulk Smash practice.

Almost all the kids at the party fell between age 12 and age 2, and they all loved all the activities. Once they picked out their mask they were ready for training.

These masks I got from Amazon were GREAT – 2 of each hero so there wasn’t any fighting over who got to be the only Superman or whatever, plenty of “girl” heroes, and they held up through a lot of wear without falling apart.

After we finished the training, we celebrated with the pinata. I hate the pull-strings, so we did it the old-fashioned way. We lined the kids up by size and they each got two hits. It survived all the way to the last kid!

Of course, all these superheroes needed plenty of energy to save the day. I’ve always loved doing themed food at parties, but I’ve learned over the years what is popular and what just ends up as leftovers. I definitely over-estimated on the cake, but I’m not even that sad because I love leftover cake.

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

You can buy a 40-count box of individual Fritos from Amazon for around $15, which works out perfectly for portable, fun taco salad. At the camping party we called them walking tacos, today they were “ready for action” tacos, since you can eat them while running to stop bad guys.

Two bottles of red wine, a bottle of lime selzer, some fresh fruit. It was DELICIOUS.

We also had favors (bubbles, tattoos and a toy) as well as a tattoo station.

Finnegan did not understand how to blow out his candle, but he definitely liked the cake and the part where everyone sang. Linc just loves everything about birthdays.

At the end of the day, we even managed to get some family photos of us all in our on-theme outfits. It was just a perfect day with amazing weather and SO many great friends. A huge thanks to my parents who did an enormous amount of work for party prep and clean-up and all our Ohio relatives who made the super long drive to help celebrate the babies! Having cousins here for their birthday was such a treat.

(Finnegan isn’t dripping blood, it’s ring pop. He’s obsessed.)

Happy Birthday to Lincoln and Finnegan! We love you!!

 

 

Blue Star Museums Summer: In Our Town!

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Since I made the list of Blue Star Museums for the wall, Lincoln has been obsessed with “moo-see-ums”, and asks every day if we can go to one. Our summer weekends are blessedly empty of commitments, so we get to say yes pretty often. Last weekend though, we looked at the list, mentally calculated the costs of lunch and/or dinner out, the drive times, the 95% humidity and dragged our feet all morning, hoping the kids would entertain themselves.

Then I remembered we had two Blue Star Museums right here in Norwich. I hadn’t even bothered to add them to our list because they are walking distance from our front door and I pass them several times I day. They don’t really count as GOING somewhere. But E and I had never been to either one and figured it would be a good compromise between doing nothing and moo-see-ums.

It turns out, both places are TOTALLY worth visiting! They were interesting! And bigger than I thought! And really fun, even if it was a million degrees inside!

First, we visited The Slater Museum. It’s on the campus of Norwich Free Academy, which is the high school in our town. It’s an endowed academy, a private school that serves as a public school. You can read about the history here, which is the sort of stuff I love, so when we bought this house one of the main draws was being super close to NFA.

From their website: Slater Memorial Building, dedicated in 1886, a gift from William A. Slater (NFA 1875; 1857-1909), was the second structure built on campus. It included the Slater Memorial Museum. The Norwich Art School launched in 1890, because the Museum offered a World-class laboratory for art instruction. By 1906, the Art School, enjoying ever-expanding success and popularity, moved into its own building, named for benefactor Charles A. Converse. (More dorky stuff: my favorite house in Norwich is the Converse House, a Victorian Gothic mansion around the corner from us. I bought a bedroom set at a garage sale there once and got to go inside and look around. It’s AMAZING. Also, it’s for sale.)

This is all really typical New England stuff. Towns on rivers all used to have huge mills and factories, lots of people used to be super rich, and if you walk through the graveyards the names on the stones are all the names of the streets, hospitals, museums, banks, buildings and people who still live here. I love it.

Anyway, back to our visit. The Slater Museum was actually free for everyone the day we went, not just military families. (It’s free on Saturdays during July and August for everyone, so if you’re close enough I recommend a visit!) I’m going to go back with fewer children so I can actually read signs and learn stuff.

Then we went over to the Leffingwell House Museum, which is WAY older than NFA. It used to be a private house, then an inn and tavern. It also was full of familiar names – at one point it was owned by the Backus family, Backus Hospital is where I delivered all four babies.

I took a lot fewer pictures because I was actually listening to our tour guide, who was very entertaining, knew tons of interesting facts both about the house and about the 1700’s in general, and kept the kids entertained.

That thing is called a weasel, and they used it to measure skeins of yarn and when you spin it it makes a pop sound when you have the right length. Pop goes the weasel.

Standing in the exact spot where George Washington stood. Since my children are obsessed with Hamilton, this was very exciting. There was also a lot of Benedict Arnold stuff (he’s from Norwich) but I’m going to need a hip-hop musical about his life before I’m super interested.

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Norwich for 10 years and haven’t been to either of those museums before. If you’re local, don’t make the same mistake!

Caroline The Mermaid Photo Session

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Sometimes I get creative ideas in my head and they turn into very elaborate events, like the photo book Caroline and I are making where she dresses up as Disney Princesses using Well Dressed Wolf dresses. And sometimes I order a mermaid tail at 6 pm on a Friday and by Monday night we’re already on the beach for our mermaid photo session. We didn’t even brush her hair before we jumped in the car with my camera bag, but that’s ok because mermaid have wild hair.

Please enjoy Caroline’s dream come to life.

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

 

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

mermaid photo session

 

The mermaid top/shorts and tail all came from Mystic Cove Mermaid on Etsy.

The special effects I added in Photoshop also came from Etsy – this shop here.

We did the photos at Seaside State Park in Waterford, which used to be a tuberculosis hospital/sanatorium and is now just abandoned buildings. It’s a super awesome photo spot.

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

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