Sunday, October 25, 2015

Charlie and Lindsay's Most Excellent Adventure

Not sure if you guys heard, but I have a nephew. I know I never talk about him and I never ever post pictures on social media. But he exists. He's three and he's awesome.

Now, I've babysat Charlie many times. In fact, I'm his favorite babysitter. I'm also his only babysitter, but I don't see how that is relevant.

When my sister called and said they would "sponsor an adventure" for Charlie and me so they could attend an event all day Saturday, obviously I said yes.

On our frequent Facetime chats, Charlie often asks when he can come to my apartment. I like to think this is because he wants to spend quality time with me, but I'm pretty sure it's because he sees the TV in the background of all our calls and wants to watch my tiny, discount, non-cable TV.

No matter what the reason, I decided to fulfill the kid's wish and have him over to my neighborhood for what will forever be known (probably just by me) as Auntie Adventure Day!

Now, there are limited adventures you can take with a three-year-old, especially when you're an adventure-averse aunt. Adventure to me is going on a hike, but like, the kind that's on a trail and can be done in a day and ends with a pretty view but doesn't require me to touch much of nature.

Where can you find nature in a controlled environment? The Zoo!

Fortunately, I live just a few blocks from Smithsonian National Zoo, so that was our plan. Throw in a tour of my building (pro tip: three-year-olds love trash chutes), a quick stop at the library, lunch with friends, and frozen yogurt you've got a three-yr-old-friendly and Lindsay-approved day of adventure. 

Here is the scrapbook of our day:

We started out the day with a tour of my building. He has only been to my apartment a few times, one of which was my birthday. That explains why he walked into my kitchen, looked confused and said, "Where are the cupcakes?" Fortunately, to a three-year-old, trash chutes, elevators, and roof-decks are just as exciting. 

And then...we were off to the zoo! Well, sort of...

At the rate we were moving, it was going to take us approximately four days to walk to the zoo. Charlie insisted on carrying that tiny umbrella. "It's really important that we have this, Ninny. Don't worry, I'll carry the tiny umbrella." (Oh yeah, I'm Ninny. That's probably important to know.) Then, we found lots and lots of acorns that needed to be collected. Fortunately, I was able to bribe him into the stroller with a graham cracker. And then we were really off!

We arrived! The zoo doesn't require ties but Charlie likes to look dapper at all times.

Overall, the zoo was a hit. The elephants, ducks, sloth bear, and, surprisingly, plethora of benches and trash cans were the biggest attractions for Charlie. Then, as any good auntie does, I let him pick whatever he wanted from the gift shop, which, thankfully, was a $4 tiger-on-a-stick 

"Charlie, I think you can put the tiny umbrella down in the stroller while you look at the birds. It will still be safe."

Next, we stopped by the puzzle table at the library. Charlie learned how to open all different kinds of locks on this particular puzzle, which seems like an odd skill to teach a toddler. You're welcome, Melissa and Pete. 

After working up quite an appetite, we met my friends Adam and Joe for lunch and frozen yogurt. (Actually, I'm not sure if Charlie had an appetite because I'd been bribing him with graham crackers all morning.) Charlie got really shy at first and just kept sticking his hand in the barbecue sauce. That's always my move when I'm shy too, perhaps that's why I go on a lot of first dates and minimal seconds.  
All good adventure days end with some relaxing TV time. This is us watching some show about a talking truck named Chuck. You parents probably know what I'm talking about. It was far superior to the episode of Barney we watched immediately afterwards. Did y'all know Barney is still a show kids watch? Who knew that purple dino would be the Madonna of kids' characters and stand the test of time?  
Now, I leave you with this gratuitous belly shot. (Wardrobe change brought to you by juice mishap.) Note how this kid excels at relaxing: Arms behind his head, laid back, watching some shows. I know I'm just the aunt, but I'd like to think he gets his "chill" from me.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship With Halloween

I have mixed emotions about Halloween as an adult. I love the creativity it inspires. Also, I love candy.

But costumes are hard, y'all.

(And, before you roll your eyes, this won't be another rant about how Halloween costumes for adults are offensively trashythough it could be. I actually have a lot of thoughts on that topic. I mean, "sexy elephant?" What the hell is that?)

I've never had a truly great costume as an adult. When you're a kid, every costume seems great. My best was Sesame Street's Ernie at the age of 3....and 4. When you have a costume as stellar as Ernie, you recycle. After that it was a series of funbut not originalwitches, clowns, and punk rockers. The latter was because my sister was that one year and I saw she got to put glitter in her hair. 
I remember being jealous of my sister's suspenders. Then again, I got that sweet wig. 

Surprisingly, not Halloween, despite what we're wearing. Just thought I'd include, in case you wondered where my sister got those suspenders. 
My sister, crushing it with her Halloween costume. Me, deciding I just wanted to wear a soccer jersey. 
As a kid, it was awesome to dress up as anything, especially because you got candy. Then I became a "grown up" and the pressure was on to have a "clever costume." You know, the ones that are relevant and witty, without being cliche. (Be honest, how many of you are considering going as Donald Trump or "Deflategate"?) You're supposed to be creative and smart.This is especially true if you have friends who are good at Halloween. And, boy, are my friends good at Halloween. 

To be perfectly clear, I have no problem with Halloween. The problem is with me. I own that. love seeing other people's clever costumes. I'm just never one of those people.  

I don't want to be the party pooper who phones it in, but I also get overwhelmed at all the options and effort that goes into a great costume. Fortunately, my best friend, the Internet, is chock-full of ideas, listing everything from "31 Costumes Your Squad Can Rock This Halloween" to "Eco-Friendly Thrift Store Costume Ideas."

I decided to start with "Cheap Costumes" on Pinterest. But here's the thing about cheap costumes: They look like a helluva a lot of work. 

Where's the list, "Top 10 Costumes for the Girl Who Appreciates Creativity and Wants to Play Along but is Sort of 'Meh' on Effort"?

Sure, I could turn myself into this pants-less Rubik's Cube (unclear why she's not wearing pants), but I'd have to cut and paint boxes? And then assemble them and then wear them? I might as well just try to solve a real Rubik's Cube. 

And then there are the classic costumes that involve inherently fun materials like balloons. Adorable. I love them. I don't love sitting on the floor of my apartment blowing up balloons to then adhere to my body. Also, how do you get in and out of your car, or the Metro, or a bathroom? (Oooh, maybe that's why the Rubik's Cube involves no pants.) 
(Santy Gibson/Demand Media)
In truth, I'll probably buy an inexpensive costume online. That's what Amazon Prime is for, right? I'll be something everyone loves, like a cupcake or Tina Fey. 

If all else fails,  I've told everyone my backup is "Myself on a Saturday Night if I Wasn't Invited to This Party." I'll wear sweatpants and a ponytail, carry a glass of wine, and text my sister. 

Or, perhaps, I'll simply create half of the Rubik's Cube costume, tape a couple balloons to it and go as "The Girl Who Tried Her Best." 

Happy Halloween.