I love the picture I posted in my Wordless Wednesday this week – the expression on MM’s face takes my breath away and I think the colors came out beautifully (then the sepia and black and white versions added their own charms), but there is one thing I don’t love about it and I haven’t mentioned it yet to anyone except my husband – I think it’s time to get this off my chest so we can all collectively yell a hearty WTF together because seriously. First things first, the picture again:
Tear your eyes away from my adorable son for a moment and look where he’s standing. That’s not just a big old pile of random rust there. If you look closely (or maybe it’s immediately obvious to you way smarter parents out there reading this) that’s fire damage. The slide behind him literallly melted from the heat of the flames and you can see the color difference between the pole in front of MM and the pole behind him. Someone, it would appear, had a bonfire on the apartment’s playground – right where my son is now standing. It took me way too long to figure this out before whisking him off the damn thing.
I mean, seriously? WTF? First there are the random preschoolers wandering around the apartment complex and playground alone and unsupervised, free to set their worst examples for my impressionable overly friendly three year old. The litter. The teenagers who loiter around the playground or toss a ball around so close to the playground that you occasionally have to duck your head to avoid being hit (something my three year old wouldn’t even think to do if it came near his head). All of this was annoying and had me apprehensive about going to the small playground, which was kind of a bummer because for me it was a major selling point for this apartment. But throwing a bonfire on the playground?? Seriously? How could they think that was an okay thing to do? Now I just plain refuse to go there with MM which really sucks because it’s the only one in walking distance. I know, blah blah lazy me – get in the car and drive. That’s fine, I will. But – – I can’t get past, WTF?
I love our apartment – the layout, the kitchen, it feels right and it’s working. The price is decent. But every ammenity which seemed like a bonus point lately feels like a big let down. The washing machine and dryer which mostly work but end up being a pain in my butt – whatever I can deal with that as much as it’s annoying, it’s better than dragging two kids to a coin op. But the playground – that was a big thing on my list. I’m glad they don’t have a pool now because I’d never feel safe using it – lord knows what size fires they could start in there.
Basically, right now I’m just waiting rather impatiently to crawl out of the financial downturn we took after the layoff and start saving enough to buy a house. It is now the only thing I’m concerned about apart from the day to day whatevers. I don’t care about vacations right now or whatever. I just want a house. I dream about having my own little (fenced in) backyard with a swing set or a kiddie pool – to be able to talk about getting a puppy or planting a garden or buying outdoor furniture. To be able to just walk outside and have a cookout, rather than figuring out somewhere to use the tabletop grill. I want to paint walls and drill holes without thinking about how long it will take to fill them in when we leave. I want to own my domain and be the one in charge of it. I’m tired of WTF.
This weekend was my first time celebrating the 4th of July without going to the town parade, fireworks, visiting family for cookouts, etc. We spent the entire weekend celebrating with just the 3.5 of us and I have to say it was a pretty nice weekend. Our original plan involved going to the beach on Saturday and making a huge feast on Dan’s tabletop grill, but those plans were rained out. So we decided to go to the beach on Sunday with a modest feast and cook the majority of it at home that day.
Saturday July 4th went a little something like this…
After a french toast with powdered sugar, strawberries and blueberries breakfast (so festive!) we spent Saturday morning mulling around Walmart spending a lot more money than we intended to, but on things we needed (we got the sleeping bag for MM and a great nursing gown for me and BB). That afternoon we had bratwurst cooked over a George Foreman grill (hot dogs for the picky three year old), homemade pasta salad and deviled eggs. I’m going to admit right now that Dan did almost all the cooking this weekend.
(We were talking last night about our culinary interests and what we thought they’d be etc. I always assumed I’d become this perfect homemaker who cooked amazing dinners, desserts, etc. and basically owned the kitchen. But apart from desserts and the occasional lucky recipe, most of my culinary prospects have been lackluster. I can do a quick, easy main dish like it’s no one’s business but when I try to get fancy, I rarely feel my efforts have been rewarded by an amazing dish. It never feels worth it – you know? Just stressful. Then somewhere in the middle, Dan got interested in bread making, which turned into pizza making, which, with the help of Food Network in the past month and a half, has turned into – he loves to cook. And his food is good, ladies. I am spoiled rotten and I’m not complaining. I actually feel relieved. Sometimes I’m a bit jealous but since I can still kick his butt in the dessert department and I still mostly own the rest of the homemaking gig, I think it evens out and I’m proud of him. So in general, the kitchen belongs to Dan during the weekends especially and more often on weeknights than I care to admit to – but I can play the pregnancy card for now.)
Anyway, this has very little to do with the weekend – so I’ll get back to my little recap. After lunch we spent some time doing MM’s favorite thing – playing with toys. Every day (several times a day) he will come over to one of us and say, “Do you want to come play in my TOY ROOM?” and you know I feel terrible when I am too busy which seems to happen a lot – even more so for poor Dan. So that afternoon we both said a whole hearted YES and spent awhile doing just that. MM was in his glory.
For dinner that night we continued our original menu plan with the second half of our feast – Dan made homemade beef teriyaki – complete with the wooden skewers just like at a Chinese restaurant and oh mylanta, it was Good. We had that with leftover pasta salad and celery with peanut butter and cream cheese and for dessert – lemon bars, homemade right of a Betty Crocker box. I always go back and forth between strictly homemade and “times-a-wasting” and to be honest, this lemon craving of mine is still so new to me that I wanted to try a couple of box recipes first – that I know I can’t likely screw up – so that when I try homemade later when my energy levels return to “normal” I’ll know if it tastes close to right and what things should look like. These came out pretty good – and Dan kicked it up a festivity level with his “plating skills” (all husbands should be required to watch Iron Chef America – I think he secretly scores each of his meals by flavor, plating and originality).
(this picture doesn’t do it justice, I am still working on my food photography and meanwhile the ice cream and whipped cream were melting so I gave up early and got to eating!)
Then on Sunday, our holiday weekend continued…
The weather was gorgeous so we were thinking it would be the perfect beach day. But we set out first thing that morning to Target (which was closed on the 4th) to buy one very special item – Baby Blueberry’s infant car seat and stroller. We got the Graco Mulberry style travel system I’ve had my eye on for months now despite going back and forth a bit, wanting to be sure it was the one, we can now safely say – yes it is, and it’s ours! We had a cheap Cosco travel system with MM that we loathed so much we actually donated it shortly after he outgrew the car seat, vowing to get ourselves something nicer for the next baby. I was worried that wouldn’t happen after Dan got laid off, but with the help of the $100 Rent.com visa we got, the price was cut in half and we decided to do our sanity a favor and go for it. We’re very happy with it from what we’ve seen so far. By the time we got home the weather was too beautiful to wait any longer.
So we packed up our beach gear and the food we had planned for that day’s lunch and headed to our new favorite beach (not that we’ve checked out any others yet). Dan got to work immediately cooking the rest of the bratwurst and some more hot dogs for MM while MM got to work immediately playing on the beach’s playground.
Then after lunch we headed to the beach. Unfortunately the algae levels were too high or something so the department of health mandated the water be “closed” so we didn’t get any swimming in but the boys still had fun playing in the sand. After a couple minutes building sandcastles Dan taught MM the age old fun of being buried in the sand which he thought was just terrific!
That night we made homemade pizza with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown on top, leftover pasta salad and some watermelon that was leftover from another culinary feat this weekend – we made this delicious watermelon lemonade that I saw on Smitten Kitchen last week. Everything was delicious, making a terrific end to our holiday weekend.
Again with the picture not doing the meal justice.
MM and I took a walk outside this morning and I took a few pictures, thought I’d share…
This is just outside our apartment building, to the right. Beyond those trees is the “main road” which leads to the grocery store, the highway, and basically everything else we go to.
Here MM is showing you the door to our apartment building.
And to the left of the building is a path to the parking lot and a view of the road our apartment is on – this is the road we would take if we were taking a longer walk. Of course after this we just ended up going to the little playground. It was nice and quiet as we were the only ones there.
I will willingly admit that I am a bit of a “helicopter parent” – as the mother of an overly friendly three year old who enjoys talking to strangers and is pretty sure he is unbreakable, I kind of have to be that hovering reminder that “mom is still watching.” And I don’t think he minds – as brave as he is, he also likes to know mom is nearby and often will look me right in the eye before attempting some maneuver that he knows I’m going to yell at him for – maneuvers he maybe doesn’t have any intention of trying but maybe wants to make sure I’m watching? I don’t know. I’m also the mom who – no – will not let my kid walk up the slide, block other kids from going down the slide, steal toys from other kids, or bring totally inappropriate items into a play area.
I bring this up because since moving into our apartment and making three attempts now at bringing MM to the apartment playground I’ve seen a brand new kind of Playground Parent – one I’d never encountered at local parks in Massachusetts – the Parent Who Isn’t Even There. Now I’m not talking about the grade school kids who can probably handle being in a playground by themselves (actually all the school aged kids I’ve seen have come with a parent) – I’m talking preschool children – MM’s age and younger – at the playground, totally alone. No parents. How does this happen? Does the parent just open the door and toss them out? Do they go out unannounced? Is the parent even home? Is anyone home with them?
It’s hard enough for me to deal with the parents at the playground who don’t make any attempt to teach their kids Playground Etiquette or intervene to keep them and others safe – I apparently now have to give those parents credit for being there at all. Because these children – with no parents or caregivers in sight – they are something else. I’ve come across two different children in this apartment complex who come to the playground completely unaccompanied and I swear they cannot possibly be older than four years old – and they are not the kind of children I want my relatively well behaved child hanging out with. Forget climbing up the slide, they do that, sure, but these kids go out of their way to create chaos like I’ve never seen. They are deliberately rude. They bring their snacks to the playground and leave the leftovers and wrappers on the ground when they leave. They shriek at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason except maybe to give pregnant women heart attacks. One little girl even brought a small plastic chair on to the jungle gym and placed it in areas so that it took up all the room on an area, making it so easy for someone to trip and fall – at one point she actually brought this chair onto the top of the playground’s tallest slide and then threw it down the slide while another little boy was still going down – seriously? Am I allowed to say something? Is this socially acceptable? Where the freak are her parents?
Being the doormat that I am, too afraid to yell at a small preschool child who isn’t my own, I simply decided it was time to leave. No, my child will not be playing with you today – it’s time to go home. Am I naive? Is this really considered okay? I know there was a time when our kids could go out and play unwatched – roam the neighborhood and do their thing – but I’m pretty sure they weren’t four years old and I’m pretty sure those days are gone. We know too much – we know that kids get abducted and worse – that crime is out there and while we can’t do everything to protect them, we can surely at least be there. I’m trying to tell myself, whatever, we can still go back again another day. There were other fairly well behaved children, who – go figure – had parents there with them – nice parents even. I wouldn’t mind going back to see them. But it kind of pains me to know that my little boy is going to be influenced by these other children everytime we go there. Because he’s friendly and wants to be friends with all the children there. And then I feel like the world’s biggest jerk for thinking unkind thoughts about a child. I don’t consider myself a judgemental person and maybe I’ll read over this and decide I was over reacting, but at the end of the day, I don’t think I am. I don’t think it’s okay to let preschool children especially play outside unsupervised. It’s not okay.