Just Take my Money Already

When it comes to watching my kids experience pure joy, money is no object. Of course we do plenty of family things that cost nothing like ride bikes, read books and take nature walks in the park. But to those that say, “money cannot buy happiness” have obviously never seen a child riding a miniature pony. I find myself internally conflicted, since places like fairs, zoos, and carnivals can be sad, inhumane, and sometimes downright creepy. Fortunately, the portion of my children’s brain that would see a whale in a tank smaller than most celebrity’s penthouse pools as cruel has not been developed yet. So instead, they see a “big fishy” and immediately are giving me the pouty lips and requesting a giant balloon animal with a spout. I wish that my moral convictions were as strong as my desire to see my kids giddy with joy—until then, any place we can pet, ride, or feed the animals, seriously, just take my money already.

The creators and investors of places such as these are no fools-- they see a market that can easily exploit desperate parents that will stop at nothing to avoid very public tantrums. They know that they can absolutely charge $12 per person for a 3-minute train ride around the monkeys. And sadly, my bag of old tricks like “the train is not working today” is no longer a lie I can get away with, especially when there’s a loud speaker announcing train rides every 20 minutes.

We have yet to brave the wonder and overwhelming glee that is Disneyland. I simply cannot justify dipping into their college savings so I can show them pictures in the future and have conversations like:

Me: “Remember how much you loved riding Dumbo? Oh look at us in front of the castle!”

Them: “When did we go to Disneyland?”

Fortunately, we are very close to several toddler amusement parks, carousels, and trains of all shapes and sizes. Kids will lose their minds over anything plastic that they can ride.

There are also bounce houses or trampoline parks that charge more per hour than most criminal attorneys. It is tempting to be wary of any place you need to sign a liability waver for, however the upshot is that it does exhaust them into taking 3 hour naps. So I’m just going to be the mom that magically pulls helmets and mouth guards out of my Mary Poppin's bag.

I am also a huge fan of splash pads or play structures where I can sit off to the side and wave from a shaded bench while finishing my cold coffee from that morning. I call those places heaven.

Sure, the best things in life are free—but Thing 1 and Thing 2, just happen to have very expensive tastes.

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Small Miracles

Murphy’s Law of Parenthood states that when anything can go wrong, it will-- like when you run out of clean clothes and then go to open the dryer to find that your youngest thought this would be a fun place to store the wet play-doh. You will learn to appreciate the little miracles whenever and wherever they are presented to you by thanking God or the Tooth Fairy or whichever holy entity is responsible for nobody in my household contracting the stomach flu in over 6 months. Just in case your cup runneth over, and not in the good way, here is a list of small gifts you should remember to feel grateful for.

1). When you find shoes that all your kids can easily put on and take off themselves. Crocs are uglier than sin and look like two pieces of non-recycled plastic you know in your heart of hearts will one day be laid to rest in a landfill right next to your Keurig cups and organic pouches-- but they have given you back what will accumulate to years of your life.

2). When you get distracted in the grocery store and accidentally wander down the cookie aisle and somehow nobody notices and thus doesn’t start simultaneously tantruming while loading your cart full of junk food like an old episode of Super Market Sweep.

3). When both of your kids in the span of 3 days get stung by a bee and turns out nobody is allergic.

4). When you leave without a diaper bag or any of the $30,000 worth of crap it takes to simply exit your house while in the possession of your children and somehow nobody needs anything other than a song and a smile.

5). When you are out in a crowded space and your children instinctively reach out for each other.

Just the existence of grocery delivery services and free streaming episodes of Daniel Tiger are proof that small miracles are all around us. Sometimes you just have to wade through the boogers and laundry in order to spot them.

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Don’t Pee in the Pool and Other Phrases we are Obligated to Say

As a penance for pop stars writing songs about the wonders of living in California, we must suffer the wrath of June, July and August. We hit 9 days in a row of over 100 degrees and you definitely heard about it because finally people were complaining about something other than our flailing democracy. Immediately upon entering the outdoors you are assaulted by what you’d imagine Trump’s skin would feel like-- some sort of crispy burnt orange wave of nausea. There is really only one thing to do at times like this and that’s find someone with a pool and show up with offerings like fresh baked goodies, a fist full of cash or your first-born child.

When that inevitably fails, you always have the community pool option. Now, I know what you are thinking— swimming in gallons of over chlorinated backwash that is probably 2/3 water and 1/3 toddler pee should really be a last resort. But again, my charming new town saves the day when less than a mile from my house our community pool boasts a splash pad and a wading area topped off with an admirable life guard to swimmer ratio.

To avoid getting scalded by the car seat buckles, I said a prayer and loaded the girls in the bike trailer fully suited, sunscreened and pre-secured in their flotation devices. It was crowded in the way you’d describe Nugget market at 5pm, but not Times Square on NYE. Since that first day we’ve been back at least 4 times a week and its done wonders for my kids sleeping, eating and my skin prematurely aging.

I finally get to add “Don’t pee in the pool” to my daily parenting phrasebook, which let's face it, it's like telling them to not eat candy off the ground-- we all know they are going to do it. I also get to constantly remind them there is “No running” which is the lifeguards favorite motto and now that I’ve spent over 30 plus hours there and watched 11 kids eat it on the pavement while running, my teenage self is no longer bitter that my lifeguard friends made $20 an hour. Tax payer money well spent I’d say.

Another bonus of pool life is fixing tan lines from my typical yoga attire while rocking the “Mom Bathing Suit”-- which is really just code for finding something that will potentially limit the flashing to only one boob instead of two when your toddler inevitably pulls it down on impact from their 14th cannonball in a row. We forfeited our right to modesty the moment we were asked to put our legs in the stirrups at our first prenatal appointment. Somehow being half Irish still allows for a bronzed glow and people comment daily asking if we vacationed recently some place tropical. I just smile and explain to them the wonders of the community pool and how that’s the closet my family will come to Hawaii this summer.

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