Monday, December 31, 2007

What Google Thinks I Wrote About This Year

Well, here we are at the end of the year. I was trying to think of a way to wrap up the year in a poignant yet hilarious way. Naturally that didn't happen. So I decided that I'd just let Google do it for me. (Google search terms in bold.)

Because I started blogging in March, lets just assume that January and February didn't happen. You can ignore March as well, because it was mostly a festival of stories about Quinn's poop. And we'll see more of that later. Oh, you bet we will.

Perhaps my most common Google search term is for wonder pets cape. I blogged about that early on, and have continued to do so pretty much on a weekly basis since. (My kids really like to dress up like the Wonder Pets.) I did like the evil wonder pets variation. There are also people looking for gerbil wearing a cape. And for the person concerned about Wonder Pet Gerbil type? His name is Linny, and he's a guinea pig.

I am also apparently the reigning internet expert on autism and constipation, which is unfortunate, because although I did write about autism and constipation, I was referring to two different people at the time. And I haven't figured out any answers for either of those people (Jack and Quinn, respectively) anyway.

As for constipation? Well, let's see what answers I can find for the lost searchers out there:
enemas and suppositories fun. Not so much.
diaper change after enema It's generally a good idea.
quinn poop Yes. Yes he does. Occasionally.
glycerin suppository "go out" Actually quite an apt description of the result of such a suppository.
happy birthday cow poop I wouldn't consider cow poop to have a birthday, but feel free to celebrate it anyway, you crazy Googlers.
suppository diaper doodle Hmmmm. Is it like a cheese doodle?
poop poop a doop Who else is singing this song?
pooping regularly Rub it in, why don't you?

During caterpillar season I wrote a post about caterpillaracide. This spawned a couple of excellent searches: zombie caterpillar and my caterpillar is not moving, but it is alive. To the second searcher, I offer this information: animals sleep.

I also end up with a lot of people looking for purple plastic elephant-shaped pools. Which is ironic, because I also Googled this very same thing before this post. And apparently Scoobas break a lot, and in the exact same way mine broke. I can only hope I've helped. There is also a surprising number of people looking for orange apples.

And there are a lot of people interested in children who burp. And who want to know the rules for burp thumb forehead. (It's simple: someone burps, everyone puts their thumbs on their foreheads, and the last person who does it... Hmmm. Maybe I'm going to need to Google the rules.) People also want to know how to burp on demand. I'll ask Jack.

I wrote about my love affair with Diet Coke and it various formats and costs. You'd be amazed how many people are looking for cheap diet coke and it's inferior cousin, cheap diet pepsi. Sorry, guy who was looking for jack and diet coke. I don't think I was what you were looking for. But I'm not sure why you'd need to look up how to make that drink on the internet. And for the person looking for cheap diets for moms? I have the cheapest diet of all: don't buy food. (I'm still working on that one myself.)

If you follow Jack and his interests, you are probably aware that the kid really likes to spell. Apparently now Google thinks I might be able to help some of these people:
how do you spell quinn Q-U-I-N-N
how do you spell pretty Just like that.
how do you spell girbil? Not like that.
spell the cat noise M-E-O-W?
words that spell with abcdefg None that I know of.
and my personal favorite: how much words can I spell with letter smiles There is no emoticon for what I am feeling.

I was happy that people found my obituary for Kurt Vonnegut. There seems to be a lot of people out there who what to find out more about the unwavering band of light, who see the beauty in art a child could create (the painting did not exist until I made it), and who believe everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. Oh, Kurt Vonnegut, how I loved you.

And just for your amusement, here are some of my favorites:
brilient idea If you're looking for a brilliant idea on Google, at least you should spell it correctly.
what if cat eats polyurethane + poison Dude, don't Google me—go to the vet! Or the pet store for a new cat.
what time of the year are jelly fish bad on the gulf coast I don't know, but I can tell you when they're bad in the Patuxent River.
economical stuffed toy spiders Sorry, I only know where to find the expensive stuffed spiders.
pee locker I don't want one.
fireworks-good or bad Um. Good.
my puppy ate a piece of Styrofoam I don't think it's as bad as polyurethane and poison, but I don't think it's good.
the giant horse on the today show I missed that one, but I wish I'd seen it.
funny missing cat posters Ah, that bastion of humor: lost pets.
bastard children behavioral issues Yeah, those bastard kids. They're trouble.
vomit cakes Ick.
witch hat cooking activity for preschoolers Do you think the preschoolers are cooking the witches or the other way around?
how to get perfect children, moms of perfect kids, they have a "perfect" child You probably shouldn't be looking here.

who was stimey? Please ignore the Urban Dictionary on this one. And note that the Little Rascal spells his name differently. You've found Stimey right here.

Thank you for indulging me in my Google search term post.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shiny Happy Grumpy People

We went to the Brookside Gardens "Garden of Lights" display tonight. This display is basically a bajillion lights put together to make these incredible designs. Designs like that dragon to the left there.

This is the third year we've been aware of this display. The first year we went, we had a great time (except that year the dragon blew smoke and scared the crap out of Sam). We went a few days before Christmas, we drank hot chocolate, we took a pizza picnic; it was a delight.

Last year we planned to go on Christmas Eve. All ten (!) of us that were at my house that year bundled into two cars and headed out with cars full of cameras and excited children. But guess who wants to spend Christmas Eve with their families? The people who work at the Garden of Lights, because they were closed.

We gave up and never made it back that year.

This year we were going to go before Christmas, but just never got around to it. I think it may have rained the day we planned to go. Then we were going to go the day after Christmas with my mom and stepfather. I think it rained that day too. So we were going to bag the whole thing. But then Sam remembered all about it and asked to go. Sam remembered the hot chocolate. Sam remembered that they weren't open the day before Christmas. Sam remembers everything. I've got to do something about that little punk's incredible memory or I'm never going to live anything down.

So we decided to go. I was sure the place would be deserted. After all, what losers go to see a Christmas light show three days after Christmas? Turns out there are a lot of us. The place was packed. It was so packed, in fact, that our car had to wait in line for other people to leave so we could get a parking space. And while we waited, both Quinn and Jack fell asleep.

Grumpy Gus 1 and Grumpy Gus 2 were a little slow to come around to the joy of all the lights, but they did eventually decide the place was pretty cool. I think the giant rainbow of lights with falling rain and flashing-light lightning had something to do with it.

For Quinn, these flowers were also a big mood-booster:


Jack came alive when he got to pretend he was a snowman:


After Jack and Quinn got happy, it was up to Sam, who was originally our happy dude, to turn into our sourpuss. I don't know if it's a developmental thing, human nature, or it's just Sam, but he is in this phase where he's never happy with what's in front of him. Instead, he's always looking to the next thing.

In this case, the half a million tiny lights formed into the shapes of flowers, pigs, and praying mantises wasn't enough for him. He was "bored" and wanted hot chocolate. We took a series of photos of me with the three kids on a bench in which you can see our transition from happy family enjoying the light show to two happy kids, an angry mom, and a devastated child who has been told he's not getting hot chocolate because of his attitude.

If anyone else out there has a six-year-old, it would really help me out if you told me that it's not just Sam who can't see the bird in his hand because of the two in the bush. Even if it's a shiny, sparkly bird made out of Christmas lights.

To his credit, after I had a little talk with him and engaged in some forced joviality, he was able to pull himself around and hit a reset button of some sort that put him back in happy land.

Or so it seemed. I swear to God, that kid goes up and down more than I do, and that's saying something. Happy, sad, angry, dejected, patient, ecstatic, sobbing, tolerable... And that's just in the space of 25 minutes. It takes me at least an hour to go through all those emotions.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Gerbil's Less-Fun Cousin

My friend H came to reclaim her gerbils this morning. I wished them well and asked if they could come back for Martin Luther King Day.

Fast forward to 11:20 this evening when my oh-so-observant husband looks up from his X-box to ask, "Do we still have those squirrels?"

Kin

My mother and father divorced when I was 4 or so. We lived in Utah and he moved to Texas. My sister and I would go to visit him there until he was killed in a car accident when I was seven. (Don't quote me on any of these dates, because I was, you know, four and seven&#8212maybe&#8212and don't have the best recall.)

Anyway, my dad's father, stepmother, half-brother, and half-sister lived in Texas as well. When we would go visit my dad, we would visit them before or after. After he died, we mostly lost contact with them. But their address remained the same, so we always knew where they were.

When I was pregnant with Sam I wanted to know more about his childhood. My grandfather had also died by this time, but my grandmother—"Oma"—was still there, by this time living with her daughter and her daughter's two sons. (Are you still with me?)

I wrote a letter to Oma and she responded with an enthusiastic phone call. She was thrilled to hear about my pregnancy and touched that we were going to name him Sam, which was also my father's name, and his father's name, and the name of about 10 other men on that side of the family.

Since then she has kept up with us and made an effort to stay in contact, which is something I appreciate a great deal. Her daughter, whom I will refer to as L, because it is easier than referring to her as my half-stepaunt, or whatever she is, has also made an effort. We have a lot of differences, but they seem to be wonderful people.

When I sent out my Christmas letter this year (which was awesome, partly because of all the snowman clip art I used to accent it—if you got a copy, be aware that I had to Photoshop that 5th snowman into the snowman family because apparently snowman families only come in fours... But I digress. Let me start that sentence over.)

When I sent out my Christmas letter this year, I mentioned that we were pursuing an autism diagnosis for Jack. Most people know, but not everyone. So when the phone rang today and L said, "We got your Christmas letter and wanted to talk to you about Jack," I got ready to extol his wonderful qualities and tell them that, for us, it's not as scary as the word implies.

I was so happily surprised when L sort of interrupted me and said, "The reason I'm calling is because my youngest has Asperger's."

She then went on to share all sorts of encouraging things about her son, who was diagnosed in 6th or 7th grade and is now finishing up high school. She told me that elementary school was tough, but things got better once he got to middle school and was able to find friends who were interested in the same things he was.

We talked about a lot of things, including the similarities between her son and mine. She told me some of the things she and her son have done to work with his Asperger's. She told me about how well her son has done academically, and how successful he's been in finding friends with shared interests. She told me to expect the possibility that he may be a nerd.

Hey, I love nerds! Some of my best friends are nerds. Hell, I married a nerd. (Some might even call ME a nerd.)

Anyway, every kid is different, and I have no idea what the future holds for Jack. But after talking to L, who has been traveling these waters for years and had an older child's perspective on it was encouraging. She offered her advice, should I ever need it, and her support. She was a school psychologist for a long time too, so she has a school-side perspective as well.

All of this is to say that you just never know where you're going to find a buttress or a connection. And you never know when a family relationship may reveal a new facet.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Over

Christmas was good.


The reindeer dust worked and Santa came.

Everyone got lots of fun presents.

Everyone played together nicely.

No one said, "I don't have anything to do," for the whole day.

Although Alex did say, "I'm going to murder your mother," regarding the voice changer/amplifier she sent to Sam.

Yummy turkey was cooked and consumed.

As were four pies.

Well, we didn't eat all of the pie yet. Or, for that matter, the turkey. (But we got a good start.)

A green plastic cup melted around the heating coil on the dishwasher and had to be chopped out.

One set of grandparents arrived late in the day to hep the kids up to heretofore undreamed of heights. (Happy.)

Still no weather-trapped grandma. (Sad.)

There was a lot of love and cuddling and happy moments.

In a fit of being so over Christmas, I took down the tree and dragged it outside all by myself today.

The tree stayed up for an entire 24 hours longer than it did last year.

Stimey will be all ready to be super excited for Christmas in eleven and a half months.

And not a second before.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

DCMM: Internet, I'm Bored! What is There To Do?

There are so many things to do in the DC area. There are museums, farms, gardens, playgrounds, theaters, and pretty much anything else you can think of. So why is it that when I'm stuck for something to do on a Sunday morning, I turn into my six-year-old and can't find a single thing I'm interested in?

We were all set to go to Applewood Farm this morning to look at some reindeer and ride a train. But then it started to rain, we weren't sure if we wanted to slog around outside in a farm-y swamp, and then we found out the farm had closed because of rain anyway.

So I went to my friend the Internet. But my friend the Internet totally had other plans.

I used to live in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Need something to do there? Go to SF Gate or Calendar Live. It is a piece of cake to find a family activity to do there any day of the week.

I got really frustrated when I couldn't find any such similar site listing family-friendly events for the DC area. Not even in the Washington Post. There are definitely listings of theatres, movies, restaurants and concerts, but what about seasonal family entertainment and fairs, for example?  Where can I take three young boys who need to be distracted from running in circles and yelling, "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" Where's my events listing? Heeeelp!

I did eventually find just what I was looking for: the City Guide, which I know I will use again, but I didn't find it until much later in the day after we got back from our outing. We ended up at the National Building Museum, which was awesome, but I came up with that all by myself without any help from my ex-friend the Internet.

So my question to you is this: Where do you go to find out what's happening in the area? Do you have any resources that help you find fun stuff to do? If you are looking forward to a day symbolized by an entirely blank square on your calendar and nothing to do, what is your best secret?

You can read all about Jean and her family's trip to the building museum, as well as her other DC-area explorations at Stimeyland.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tradition

The Christmas Eve pajama tradition has been resurrected by Team Stimey, and the young men are thrilled, if slightly too short for their pants. Dancing ensues.



However, not all of Team Stimey is pleased with the new pajamas. He'd prefer his old pajamas. You know, the ones he wore all day long, thank you very much.


Distracted from his jammie tantrum by the more fun tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve, Quinn is placated. The children are so distracted by these gifts, however, that they are not very cooperative during the traditional jammies and tree photo shoot. An acceptable frame is shot.


While you may notice that there is a baby gate crammed into the fireplace opening, Santa is magic, people. It shouldn't be a problem.

A little later we adjourn outside for the 3rd Annual Throwing of the Reindeer Dust. (Oatmeal, so the reindeer have something to eat while Santa fills stockings, and glitter, so Santa knows where to land.) So much glitter is thrown that our grass appears downright luminescent once we're done.


Back inside for the placing out of cookies, milk, and a picture (drawn by Sam) for Santa. After hearing that Santa doesn't come until everyone in the house is asleep, Sam badgers Jack to go to sleep. Ironically, Sam is not asleep either.

"Santa Claws", aka, the dog, eats one of the cookies, which then have to be moved to a higher location. I just hope Santa can find them. Although I don't think she he will have a problem.

Alex disappears upstairs to do his annual Christmas present wrapping. He reappears, finished, 15 minutes later.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house every creature was stirring, including the mouse.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate; Happy Tuesday to those of you who don't!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Blank Square on the Calendar

Our morning started out with sad news. Alex's mom, who was supposed to arrive yesterday, but had her flight canceled, wasn't going to be able to make her flight rescheduled for today because of bad weather. We're all so sorry that she won't be able to spend Christmas with us, and hope she can find a way to enjoy her new Christmas plans in Wisconsin.

Partly because we now had a big blank square on our calendar, and partly to keep the kids' minds off of the lack of grandma, we started scrambling for something to do. We ended up deciding to do something I'd heard good things about since we first moved to the DC area four years ago.

I printed out the info page from the National Building Museum, and we were off! Unfortunately we arrived in DC at 10:15, and as it stated super clearly in the first paragraph of my printout, the museum doesn't open on Sundays until 11.

Alex stepped up and suggested a quick trip to Union Station, where we took in the Norwegian train display and Christmas tree. My kids were also incredibly impressed by the player piano.

"I think there's someone inside," was Sam's explanation.

Sam and Quinn also had an opportunity to present A Solid Gold Christmas in front of the train display:


A quick lemonade and french fry snack stop later, we were off through the revolving door ("I went through the round door! I went through the round door!" Quinn joyfully repeated to the amused punk-haired dude smoking outside the station. It seemed really important to Quinn that this man was aware of The! Round! Door!)

Washington was eerily empty at 11 this morning, and we found the dream parking spot outside the building museum.

I have to say that the museum didn't disappoint. Any place that features this:


right in front of you when you walk in has to be good. If you haven't been, there is a giant main room that is nearly empty. The kids' Building Zone lets you borrow tool kits to work on little projects. So dotted around this giant room with giant columns and dozens of busts up by the ceiling, there were parents and kids sprawled out on the carpet learning together. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

In this giant room there was also a station at which you could build a 7-foot arch. Sam was our foreman, Alex and I were the buttresses, and Quinn and Jack were the block carriers. And damn if we didn't build a 7-foot arch.


And what's building without a little demolition?


We did look at one of the main exhibits, but mostly we hung out in the Building Zone, which is a big room with all kinds of building materials for kids and grown-ups to play with. There were giant Legos, cars, blocks, books, construction worker dress ups, a giant playhouse, and more.

Frankly they could have called it the Jack Zone. Jack loved this place so much he even deigned to participate in cooperative play with other kids. He especially loved these brick blocks. He made a castle.


Sam and Quinn also had a lovely time. Sam loved these rods and balls in particular (that sounded dirty, didn't it?).


He's getting so dextrous at building complicated structures. I can't believe what a big guy he's turning into. And Quinn? Well, Quinn wore those goggles for the entire time we were in the Zone.

*****

If any of you are wondering where the Wonder Pets cape is, Quinn left his home today. But Jack brought his. You can see it on Quinn in the first photo. This caused some trouble at Union Station where there were multiple muggings, chokings, and forcible removals of the cape from the neck of a brother, by both Jack and Quinn.

Thank God Sam is sane. (Did I really just write that?)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Train Town

I'm not quite sure why the Christmas season is the time for trains. Maybe it's that all the little kids disguised as grownups out there are finally given a season to play with dolls. Maybe because so many people do things like put trains around their Christmas trees, other institutions think it's a fun way to decorate too. Or maybe it's just because, deep down, trains kick ass, and any excuse to set up an elaborate layout in interesting settings is just too much of a temptation.

Whatever the reason, I'm stoked. My guys love train exhibits. Well, Sam doesn't love them quite as much, so we chose a morning only he had school and went to the train exhibit at the Brookside Gardens conservatory with some friends to watch the trains.

(Even though he may not be too bummed about missing the trains, don't tell him about the morning, because while he was being forced to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas—which is apparently very scary if you're six—at school, we followed our train expedition with a trip to Pizza Hut for buffet lunch and Hostess cupcakes. It's like Sam's worst nightmare come true. And don't get me started on schools killing time with worthless videos. Do you think they're aware that there's an actual book they could read to the kids instead?)

Anyway. We had gone to this exhibit last year too and practically had to drag Jack away. He was equally pleased this time. There was one freight train in particular that he was fond of. He would watch it wind around the little town...


...and then run to the bridge to watch it go under. Then he would run back.


Quinn also enjoyed the outing, but, in true Quinn fashion&#8212literally&#8212he refused to dress up for the occasion. What about fancy trip to the (insert hoity toity accent here) conservatory says pajama top and cape to him? Listen, Little Man, just because you were sick this week doesn't mean you get to stomp all over our train-watching social mores.

I hope to post a photo of Quinn without this goddamn cape sometime before he turns 15.


When we first got to the exhibit, one of the trains and a trolley weren't running because of some seemingly crucial maintenance being done on the itsy bitsy ice rink. This caused a little bit of a problem for one of the kids in our group, who had been to the exhibit the previous week and apparently become quite attached to the little passenger train. The very train that was at a standstill. Evidently model trains are waaaaay less interesting if they're standing still.

Ice rink maintenance eventually ended, after three burly men in plaid flannel shirts, who are about the last people you'd ever imagine playing with dolls, carefully placed the ice skating dolls on the rink. "We're just big kids ourselves," one of them admitted to me.


One of those men noticed Jack's attraction to the trains and even picked up on his name after hearing me tell him six or seven times, "Jack, you can't go under the fence," and "Jack, you're not allowed in with the trains," and "Jack, don't touch! Don't touch! Keep your hands off the trains!" or even, "Jack, are you okay? That's why we don't crawl over the rocks to get in with the trains."

This man recognized Jack as a kindred spirit and went out of his way to bring me a flyer about his organization and to tell me about some upcoming train displays. It turns out that I am turning into a complete wuss, because this small act of attention and kindness made me teary-eyed. I'm such a goddamn sap.

For me, one of the coolest things about these sorts of displays are the detailed little scenes that the trains travel past. The little guys fishing off a dock. The bear stealing the little guys' fish. The sunbather all by herself out in the woods. The bustling town at the end of the line. Once all my kids move out, I'm turning my basement into one of those creepy train table rooms and I am going to have so much fun playing with the tiny dolls. I may even include some trains.

But here's something I found sort of hilarious. I am not one to mourn the lack of a "Merry Christmas." I'm fine with "Happy Holidays," and have been calling end-of-the-year vacation "winter break" instead of "Christmas break" since college. But "Holiday Trees"? Can't our trees at least be Christmas trees. I'm going to take a stand and say that it's okay to call purely Christmas items by purely Christmas names. No "Holiday Claus" for me.

The Holiday Trees stand does have some fancy proprietors though.

Friday, December 21, 2007

They're Baaaaack!

Mr. Multicultural

Yesterday—and for that matter, for the entire last week—when Jack got off the bus at the end of the day, he greeted me with a hearty, "Happy Holidays!"

Yesterday he took it a step farther:

"Happy Holidays!

"Happy Christmas!

"Happy Halloween!

"Happy Hanukkah!

"Happy Kwanzaa!

"Happy Ramadan!"

Can anyone think of any other holidays he might want to recite over winter break? Easter, maybe?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Um. Yuck.

In preparation for the impending descent of my mother-in-law, followed shortly thereafter by the descent of my mother and stepfather, I've been doing some cleaning at my house.

And I've not just been dusting and wiping. I've been moving furniture, smoothing rugs, and picking goo out of corners.

And you know what? I've learned a few things.

1. If you're overweight at all, don't crawl under your childrens' bed to clean out all the crap from underneath it. Oh, sure, you can get in there, but it's harder to army crawl in reverse to get out.

2. After you learn the truth of the above and send your son in, listen to him when he starts screaming and crying because he's terrified of the mutant, hissy, extra-toed cat your sister sent to you (thanks, Ann) and don't make him go back in. Know that a toy light saber used as a poking device is a great way to evict a cat from under the bed. Although you should also know that this method may piss the cat off.

3. Don't let your children eat in their bedroom. In particular, steer them away from apples. Because even if they swear that they're throwing the cores away, they're not. They're throwing them off the side of the bed to languish and rot underneath. That shriveled, furry, brown thing you just dug out from under your kid's bed? Yeah, that's an apple core.

4. Rugs creep. No matter how hard you try to keep them straight and unbumpy, and even if you think you regularly walk in more than one direction on it, a rug will move and crease in one direction over and over again.

5. You don't want to find a lemon under your couch in December. Incidentally, a lemon that has been sitting in one spot for a long time will become oddly juiceless. Its rind, while not classically moldy, will turn green.

6. Popcorn gets everywhere. Never let anyone eat popcorn inside your house.

7. The tiny basketball your kids lost 45 seconds after you opened the basketball game box? The one you looked for under the couch time and time again? The one you were convinced was down a heating vent or long lost in the trash? It's probably hiding behind a lemon. Also be aware that as soon as you find that one, so you again have a full set, you will immediately lose a different one.

8. The sock troll who steals one of each pair of socks? He doesn't live in the dryer. He lives under the ottoman.

9. But the coup d'etat? You know the mini pumpkins that are popular around Halloween? If left unattended under, say, a crib for, oh, let's say nearly two months, it'll shrink and grow a luminescent white gauzy cover. This one was small to begin with if I remember correctly, but, c'mon. Look at it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is It Wrong To Cheer Your Crying Child?

I finally made Quinn sad enough to cry a tear!

In case you don't know this about him, Quinn doesn't create tears. Really. Never.

Today, he finally leaked one drop out of his right eye. I think it's wrong of me to be so delighted by his obvious extreme sadness, but, c'mon, the kid is two and a half. It's about time he cried a little.

A little backstory: Quinn is sick. He's been in a generally ugly state for a couple days what with the snot and the hacking cough and the whatnot. Last night his coughing woke him up and resulted in a lot of (mostly) dry heaving. Bottom line: The kid is sick.

More backstory: Sam's bus arrives at the bus stop between 3:20 and 3:30, so Quinn and I leave the house at 3:15 to get there on time.

Okay, so the actual story: Today at 1, even though he doesn't usually nap anymore, I put Quinn down for a nap. 'Cause when you're sick, you just need it. Then at 1:30 I, who had been up with Quinn for the dry heaves last night, also laid down for a nap. On the rare occasions I nap, I usually set a kitchen timer to wake me up so I'll get to the bus stop on time, but today? No way in hell will I sleep for more than an hour. I'll be fine.

Fast forward to 3:12 when I finally woke up, confused and with hair askew. I grabbed Quinn's coat and put it on him in his crib, wrapped him in his blanket and then stuffed his barefooted self in the stroller to go to the bus stop. He did not care for this, as he was trying to sleep at the time.

He complained all the way to the bus stop. And, honestly, rightfully so. I would've been pissed too. I mean, I sorta was. I wanted to nap more too.

He held back the mighty deluge of his tear until we made it to the bus stop and I tried to cheer him up. My completely odd reaction to his sadness (what with the cheering and hugging about the tear and all) stopped Quinn short, and by the time we made it home, he was cheerful enough.

I takes my milestones whens I can get 'em.

Thanks to Ange at Tis My Life for the link about alacrima.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Love Letter to My Preschool

Dear Best Preschool in the Whole Wide World,

Thank you, Mrs. B, Jack's 2s teacher, for not freaking me out about Jack, but caring enough to notice his behavior so that when I started to become aware that Jack may be developmentally delayed, you were able to give me answers to my questions that let me know you had been noticing him all year. I still remember when I asked you at the end of the year if he ever made eye contact with you and you didn't even have to think before you answered. Because you'd paid attention to him.

Thank you, Mrs. E, Jack's 3s teacher, for helping to lead me gently through my first forays into evaluating Jack. Thank you for showing me that even though his brother was also quiet at three, and that I really wanted to believe that Jack would also blossom socially at four, that didn't necessarily mean that he would. Thank you for keeping a daily journal of his behavior. Thank you for filling out endless forms in preparations for his observations and evaluations. Thank you for opening your classroom to my experts so they could check my little man out. Thank you for helping me accept Jack as the wonderful little guy that he is.

Thank you, Mrs. G, Jacks current 4s teacher, for putting so much thought into how to help him. Thank you for coming to my house over the summer to discuss how we could best work with him in class. Thank you for taking thoughts of him home with you, where you puzzled over what you could do to help him. Thank you for agreeing to let the parent educator from his special ed class come to observe him in your class, and then changing your mind and taking time out of your day to go observe him in that class instead. Thank you for pointing out that he behaves differently when I co-op, and for working out solutions that we all can work with. Thank you for suggesting that I keep a log of his sleep and food intake so that we could track how that coincides with his good and rough days. Thank you for not showing the frustration I'm sure you must feel when he refuses to do what you need him to do.

Thank you, Mrs. C, school director, for showing me so much compassion. Even though you need have no direct contact with Jack, and there is no responsibility for you to go out of your way to help, thank you for your support. Thank you for seeing me break down a couple weeks ago and taking my co-oping spot for a few minutes while I cried in your empty classroom. Thank you for taking a half hour out of your day today to talk to me and make sure that I'm doing okay. Thank you for giving me ideas about what we can do with Jack next year, whether he goes to kindergarten or stays in preschool. Thank you for accepting without judgment that I was going to cry during this conversation and for bringing me a box of tissue. Thank you for chatting aimlessly about Christmas stockings with me for a few minutes at the end of our conversation so that I could compose myself before I went back to co-op.

Thank you all for discussing Jack as a group in your teachers' meetings, as I know you do, so you can help each other and give each other ideas, which you then pass on to me. Thank you for not pretending that you have all the answers, but for being willing to learn. Thank you for understanding that, while I am so in love with my child and don't care that he has a disability, certain days can be hard. Thank you for being the safest, warmest, and most nurturing environment Jack and I could possibly be in.

Thank you, all of you, for loving my child.

I truly love all of you.

(Love,)
Stimey

DCMM: How to Get Three Kids Up and Out of the House in 20 Minutes

Or, How NOT to Start Your Morning.

1. Don't push the snooze alarm on your clock seven times. Even if you've cleverly set your clock an unspecified time ahead so you never know exactly what time it is, you still can't be fooled by the clock if you're fast asleep. Also remember that if you plan to leave the house with your children by 8:25, you should definitely wake up before your husband shouts you out of bed at 8:13 am.

2. Understand that even if you wish really hard, you can't make the clock turn backwards. And if you do turn your clock backwards, that doesn't mean you've made time move back.

3. Shriek at your three small children to wake up, and hope that they won't shriek back. It helps if one of your kids is six and, in five minutes, can get dressed, wash his face, brush his teeth, and make his bed all by himself without being asked. (Don't hate me. This is the first time this ever happened.) Of course, if you don't have a six-year-old, you probably don't have to be at kindergarden at 8:50.

4. Lack compassion. When you hurriedly check your email and find a note from your stepfather pleading for itinerary information for your aviophobic mother so someone will be able to pick her up at the airport after her 24 hour flight from Australia, put minimal effort into finding it and figure that at least she'll be grateful to be on solid ground, so she won't be too sad about waiting for a ride.

5. Prepare portable breakfasts for your children. Four words: bagels with cream cheese. That way, when the kids are not finished with breakfast when it's time to leave, you can still stuff them in the car without worrying about starving them.

6. Don't let your husband go to work with your only set of car keys. This one is really important. Even if you and all your kids are in the car and seat-belted, all of your efforts are useless if you can't start the car. And while you may be able to accomplish steps 1-5 in 20 minutes, you sure as hell aren't going to be able to make three kids under six walk a mile and a half to school in 35 degree weather in time for the late bell.

7. Swear that you'll be better starting tomorrow. You'll get out of bed at 7:30! You'll prepare lunches the night before! You won't threaten toddlers with their lives if they don't follow orders barked at them by big, panicked parents!

Monday, December 17, 2007

All Christmas, All the Time

On Saturday, as you may be aware, we put up our Christmas tree.

We also went to a children's craft fair at the local high school. The little dudes made cards, ornaments, graham cracker gingerbread houses, peanut butter bird feeders (later eaten by our dog), and probably some other stuff too.

It's hard to remember everything they made because I was far too busy trying to balance a fistful of art without smearing liberally applied glitter glue.


Being overly ambitious, we decided to take the kids out to lunch and to see Santa at the mall before we went to pick out our tree. The dudes ate pretty much nothing at lunch, but I sure had a delicious salad.

I think perhaps Quinn was partially full from the gross of candycanes he'd already consumed at the craft fair. He'd eaten a large number, which was merely a precursor for the number he would be handed everywhere from Santa's lap to the Christmas tree lot. It turns out that the boy really likes peppermint candy.


Our mall was not entirely prepared for the number of children who wanted to see Santa on the last reasonable Santa-visiting Saturday before Christmas. The Santa kiosk was woefully understaffed. There was Santa, obviously. The same surly Santa that's been there every year, and who seems to have his job solely because he has a gray beard. (A beard that Jack really enjoyed caressing, by the way.) There was a photographer/kid wrangler/cashier, who really could have used an assistant, and there was an underutilized woman standing at the front of the line whose job seemed to consist solely of saying, "Ok, go ahead. Your turn now."

Consequently, even though there were only four or five families (and a pair of middle-aged women&#8212love it!) in front of us, there was a lot of waiting. Each group sat with Santa, had their photo taken and printed, and paid for the finished product before the next group could go see the man in red.

In the meantime, Santa sat on his chair looking...well, surly.

This left us with plenty of time to get into trouble, including when Jack tried to wrestle a cane away from the man behind us. A cane he seemed to rely on to stand. It's always awesome to be us.

As I mentioned, Jack was delighted by Santa's beard, the bell on Santa's hat, and pretty much everything about sitting with Santa. Sam was more reserved/awestruck, but was perfectly compliant. Quinn was not thrilled with the situation, but as opposed to last year when he screamed as soon as he set foot on the carpet and was therefore promptly removed, he deigned to stay in the vicinity.

I don't think we've ever had a year when all of our kids agreed to sit (or at least stand in the vicinity of Santa), so we were perfectly thrilled to get this final product:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Christmas First

Alex and I (and assorted kids) decorated for Christmas without fighting. No angry words about how to string lights. No unreasonable demands about no one being allowed to rest on the couch while someone else decorates. No misplaced panic about pieces missing from the advent calendar.

Just cooperation, and the occasional timeout. For the kids. Not for Alex and I.

Our finished product:


It's not fancy, but it seems to be pretty much kid and pet proof. Our living room is a cozy place to be right now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Case of the Missing Diaper

This morning when I lifted Quinn out of his crib, his butt seemed a little lighter, a little more there than usual. Then I realized why. Even though he was wearing his pajama pants, he wasn't wearing a diaper. We looked and couldn't find it anywhere.

It hadn't slid down his leg, it wasn't under or behind the crib, and it wasn't wadded up in his blanket. The dog hadn't found it, eaten part of it, and then thrown up the rest on the living room carpet.

The only explanation I can think of is that Alex forgot to put a diaper on him when he put Quinn to bed last night.

?!?!?!?!

On the plus side, he stayed dry all night.

Again: ?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

They're Here, They're Here!

Oh, my God, they're finally here! My finished damn videography project. Those of you who know me personally may have heard me mention it once or twice.


And I swear, if you tell me I spelled "Boot" wrong or something, I may just off myself. So choose your words carefully.

(They're here, they're here! And tomorrow, they'll be with their new mommies, my clients.)

W.W.S.D.*

I had a conversation with another mom at preschool this morning at pick-up time. We were chatting about our kids and whatnot and I mentioned that I always feel as if I'm dragging my kids around and cursing at them.

She gave me her very positive view of her perception of my parenting style. She was particularly impressed with my patience (something that, when it applies to me, others could interpret as negligence). I was touched, especially because I feel like such an obvious basketcase most of the time. She even went so far as to tell me that sometimes at home when confronted with a parenting dilemma, she'll ask herself how she thinks I would handle the situation.

Oh, man, someone get this woman a parenting book, because I shouldn't be her role model! But I could make bracelets.

I adore this mom, and not just because she has perfect hair and adorable children. She's really nice, and if I put the two of us side by side and asked someone to pick out the more together person, I think 4 out of 5 people would point to her. Because seriously, folks? I let Quinn eat honeydew off the preschool floor yesterday.

So I put my kids in the car and was driving away from the school deep in thought about what I thought about her perception of me and how much might be valid and how much could be attributed to public vs. private persona, and whether I really was a patient parent, and so on.

And then, at some point, I realized that I had driven ten minutes past the turn-off to Jack's afternoon school and was almost home. So I had to flip a u-turn and speed back the way I'd come.

What would Stimey do? I know! Entirely forget she has children!

Yep. A role model for the ages.

*****

*What Would Stimey Do

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Kids Are Rad

This was originally meant to be a post entirely about Quinn's preschool field trip to the Krispy Kreme store. Poor guy is losing the category race. He's losing badly. At this point he only has 50 posts with him as a category/label. Jack and Sam are waaaaay ahead and neck and neck with 69 and 68, respectively. (Which is actually quite a coup. Sam was ahead for a long, long time.)

But then we had some nice quality time all sitting at the kitchen table drawing. Quinn did make some lovely scribbles, but my other kids also performed in a category-worthy way. Sorry, Quinn.

Sam drew an awesome picture of a pig. And even though he was having trouble writing a long sentence to finish his homework, he kept at it and finished.


Jack, Mr. I Only Write Words, I Don't Draw Pictures, drew a picture of a dog.


This is phenomenal for him. One of his teachers has all the kids draw pictures of themselves at the beginning of the month so by the end of the year you can see their drawing progress. It's my favorite part of that class. Sam's completed year of portraits was amazing. But here it is December and Jack has yet to draw a picture. He either writes his name or other words that he's interested in. Which is great. And I am very proud of him. Very proud. Especially for a kid who refused to write in September, he has made incredible strides. But sometimes I wish he would just draw a damn stick figure already.

So that dog? I'm bursting with pride. Do you see that adorable face? He pulled that image right out of his brain. So cool. So cool.

Deep breath of pride, and then on to our featured presentation:

Quinn's twos class went to the donut shop today. It's not the most educational (or nutritious) field trip in the world, but the kids love it. (And they learn to brush their teeth by the time they go on their field trip to the dentist in the fours class.)

His teacher rode in the car with us, which was almost too much for Quinn to handle. He spent most of the ride with his hands over his eyes as if to say, "Oh. My. God. She is right there! In MY car! With ME! See her? Right there! Oh, dear God, I'm going to faint from the excitement."

This is Quinn watching the donuts roll by on the conveyor belt. Quinn is quite the connoisseur of all things sugar, so this was of particular interest to him.


The Krispy Kreme lady tried to give a little demonstration showing the different stages of donuts, from flour to dough to raw donut, etc. But she was waging a losing battle against 9 2-year-olds who basically just wanted to eat donuts.

So...


And you better believe eating two (!) donuts is thirsty work.


One more thing: Have you noticed that spellcheck no longer recognizes "doughnut", but does recognize "donut"? It also recognizes "dough nut". Did I miss a memo?

Monday, December 10, 2007

DCMM: Dumpster or Minivan? You Decide.

This weekend I went out to dinner and shopping with a friend of mine. I drove my minivan, and all was well. All was well right up until I slid open the side door so we could put some bags inside and I was confronted with my trash-filled car. I mumbled an apology about the state of my ride.

"I'm not going to lie to you," my friend said, "it's not clean."

In my defense, it wasn't all trash. Sure, there were the requisite crumbs and bits of food that living with three kids will leave in your car. There was an apple core in one of the little compartments next to one of the kids' carseats. There were some discarded toy wrappers. Oh yeah, and there was a giant bag of trash.

Okay. So there was a fair amount of garbage.

It's kind of shocking how dirty my car can get. I mean, I sit in one spot. My kids are literally strapped down so it's not like they're tracking crap all over. And it's a relatively small space.

I blame this weekend's car condition partly on the car being left unsupervised in my husband and children's hands. They were responsible for not bringing in their coats. They were responsible for not bringing in my son's karate bag. They were responsible for the discarded toy wrappers. (Sidenote: Don't send your gullible husband to Target all alone with only the kids to guide him. Especially right before Christmas.)

But I can't blame him for the jumper cables that I left uncoiled and stretched out across the interior of the car. Although it sure was handy that I didn't have to dig them back out after the battery died for the second time in a week. Can I blame my mess on that? Maybe I'm not tragically unkempt, just incredibly prepared.

I can't blame my husband for the multiple half-empty pretzel bags that I throw at my kids whenever they get hungry in the car. I can't blame him for the hand-me-down shoes a friend gave me that now have a semi-permanent home in the van and have never actually seen the inside of my house. I can't blame him for the folder full of MapQuest directions, crossword puzzles, and notepads.

Why is it so hard to keep my car clean? It's a small space. It's not that hard to carry things the ten feet from the driveway to the house. I have multiple grocery bags tucked in an easy to reach spot in the car to consolidate my trash and other belongings. Why can't I keep a space larger than one foot by one foot clean and tidy?

I would like to point out, however, that my purse? It's immaculate.

You can read more about Jean's housekeeping failures at Stimeyland.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Rest for the Well Rested.

Tonight Alex had to hop on a plane to go to South Carolina for a couple of days. He volunteered to go to some sort of training. Bastard. I wish I had "training" to go to. Anyone want to set that up and I'll come visit you?

Anyway, we fed the kids in the car because I knew we would be in driving to the airport during dinner hours. We had to stop at Alex's office so he could pick up his work credit card. Again, bastard. Anyone want to give me a business card&#8212that you pay for?

Well, when Alex got out of the car to run up to his office and I saw Sam poke a sleeping Jack just prior to stealing his dinner, I knew it was going to turn out badly for me. Jack slept all the way home, right up until 2 or 3 minutes before we pulled into the driveway, at which point he became perky as hell. (That "well rested" up there in the title? That refers to Jack.)

So I did some work and futzed around a bit. Jack visited me now and again throughout the course of the evening. He showed up in our office/TV room holding a loaf of bread and pleading hunger. Because his dinner had been purloined, I made him a sandwich and damn if Mr. No-Eat ate the whole thing. Unbelievable. Maybe I should just wait to feed him until 9pm every night. Then he wanted cheese. Then the dog ate his cheese. Then he wanted more cheese. Then he gave the dog his cheese. Then I cut him off.

And then I didn't hear from him again for a long time.

At 10:15 I decided to take a shower and go to bed so when the little urchins wake me up at the crack of dawn tomorrow and I can't shove them off onto Alex, I would at least have had a lot of sleep.

Guess who showed up?

When my heart started again, after his sudden appearance scared the crap out of me, I sent him to bed and took my shower.

But now I can't go to bed with him wandering around the house so I have to stay up for awhile. I may be up for a long while.

Stay tuned for the post on the debacle that breakfast surely will be. Alex usually does that (and by "usually," I mean "always"), and I generally (and by "generally," I mean "every single time") make some terrible breakfast-ending, tear-inducing mistake when I make an attempt to fix morning food.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 7, 2007

7

More meme for me! KAL at Autism Twins tagged me for the 7 things about me meme that's been making the rounds. So here goes!

1. I had an eyebrow ring for a long time. I got it when I was 18 and wore it up until my dog ripped it out with an enthusiastic jump ten or so years later. For those of you that just cringed, don't worry, it didn't hurt. It was so healed by then and the ring was probably so aged that it just popped open. It was actually sort of a nice solution for my rapidly approaching old-person status with a young-person accessory.

2. For my four years of college I had a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge from the window of my housing co-op. I can't remember the exact price per semester, but my fourth floor unobstructed view was quite possibly the cheapest one in the Bay Area. I had a loft bed that was right by my windows, so I could lay in bed and look at the city. It was nice.

3. I spent the entire summer of 1998 following the band Phish on their summer tour from Oregon to Maine. I was by myself for the majority of the trip, with a couple visits from Alex. I also did a leg with a friend of a friend (I think his name was Dave and I do believe it might not have been a great idea to go through Texas' border station with him and his backpack&#8212for reasons those of you familiar with the band will understand.) I dragged my stepsister and a high school friend with me to a show each, with different levels of success. Oh, and there were a couple of shows I hit with some guy I picked up at a gas station. (Ah, the young, dumb, and trusting days.) Oddly enough, there was another solo follower who the people in the Phish organization had seated next to me for five different shows in five different states. His name was Wes.

4. After Alex finished law school we went to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a year so he could clerk for a judge up there. I was reminded by this post about the trouble we had erecting our Christmas tree that year. Because we were only going to live there for a year, we put a lot of our stuff in storage and only took the bare essentials. Which we apparently didn't think included a Christmas tree stand. Well, by early December the entire town of Fairbanks and its surrounding area was sold out of tree stands. There was seriously NO local source. We had to next day air us a tree stand. Which, if you read MOM-NOS' post, you'll understand was actually a blessing in disguise.

5. I'm a puzzle addict. The real kind and word kinds. I unfortunately don't have time to do real puzzles anymore. And I think some of the pieces would "disappear" with the help of six tiny hands and twelve tiny paws. But I have crossword, logic, and variety puzzle books strewn about my house. (Some are attached to clipboards, for which I've been made fun of. Sometimes it's embarrassing to be me.) In fact, a couple years ago, I ordered a box of 40 variety puzzle books for a ridiculously low price, so I'm set on these books until mid-century. I don't do the word searches though. Because I don't like them.

6. When I was in the 4th grade my class was assigned to cut turkeys out of paper and then glue yarn on their tail feathers to make them beautiful. In my enthusiasm I used far too much glue and mine turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. The day we made them they were all tacked up to the art board. When I came back the next day, mine had been removed. I was so humiliated I lied and told the teacher that I hadn't made one when she asked why mine wasn't up there. I realize now that no teacher would take a student's art down just because it was bad, and what probably happened is that it got knocked down and swept away by a janitor. But I spent twenty years convinced that the teacher had intentionally removed it because it wasn't up to par.

7. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but one of my greatest joys of parenting is when I'm able to clear a giant booger out of Quinn's nose. When they were younger I enjoyed the same thing with the other two kids, but now that they're older it's just gross. (Because it's not gross when they're under three. Oh, man, you guys are never coming back here to read again are you? I told you it was embarrassing to be me.)

So there you have it. Coincidentally, my last post was also a list of seven things.

I'm not up to tagging people, especially because I think the entire blogosphere has done this meme by now, but I hope you've enjoyed learning some completely extraneous things about me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Random Things About My Day

1. We learned the joy of eating icicles:


2. Quinn is sick. I think I'm getting sick too. The dog may also get sick because Quinn licked her tongue today.

3. By 9:30 this morning I was already prepared to murder my children because they were unwilling to stand nicely in a group and smile for a Christmas card photo. It's like herding cats, people. Angry cats who don't like each other.

4. Sam's school start was delayed by two hours because of snow. Jack and Quinn's school start was delayed one hour. Rather than do the math and try to figure out how to get everyone to school on time, I kept Jack home from school along with Sicky Sickerson Quinn. (If Student A leaves House 1 at 10am and student B leaves School 2 at 10:30... See what I mean?)

5. My Blogger account is no longer notifying me when I get comments. Do any of you Blogger folk know any way to solve this problem other than arming myself and going on down to Blogger Headquarters on a rampage? Because if I do that, I'm just going to continue on over to Hotmail Headquarters, because I'm so mad that they forced me to change my perfectly good Hotmail account to Windows Live. Which doesn't work in Safari. Bastards.

6. Because of The Sickness, Quinn took an extraordinarily long nap today and Jack and I got to have some good times with Legos. I made a living room for my tired firefighter. I am particularly proud of his lovely mosiac coffee table/end table set. I do, however, think that firefighter standards have gone downhill what with their hiring of one-handed personnel.


Jack seemed to think that Firefighter One-Hand's chair was not tall enough:


And then we took the guys on a drive:


Legos totally rock.

7. My TiVO evidently thinks we need to be watching Yo Gabba Gabba. And my kids apparently agree.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow



More Wordless Wednesday.

EDITED TO ADD: Alex just reminded me that yesterday at school Sam had written a letter to the "Snow Fairy." This morning, when he saw the snow, he incredulously exclaimed, "My letter to the Snow Fairy worked!"

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stimey, We Have a Problem.

You may remember Math Night. At that time I swore to myself that I would not go to one of those special academic evening elementary school events again. But of course that was a lie and I had to acknowledge that if there were ever an evening elementary school event my kids would enjoy, it'd be Space Night.

I had no idea what to expect, but there was talk of a movie about Mars, vague space-related activities, and a replica of a space suit in the library. All right then. Suck it up, Stimey, we're headed to Space Night.

Our first stop was a classroom where we raced balloon rockets. At least Sam and Jack did. Quinn played with the water fountain for awhile and then futzed around behind an easel while I pretended I didn't see him. Sort of fun.

But REALLY FUN? The. Space. Suit. in. the. Library.

Meet Spaceman Super-Cool:


And his sidekicks, Spaceman Fishy-Face and Spaceman Tiny-Butt:


Then it was our turn to go to the little tent-planetarium they'd set up in the gym. It was pretty cool, after I convinced Quinn that the boogieman wasn't inside waiting for us.


There was one dicey sequence of events when the kid next to us said, "Excuse me, I don't feel very well." Visions of a tiny tent filled with the fumes of some other kid's vomit and the resulting stampede through the nylon flashed through my mind. Fortunately he made it out with no involuntary emissions.

But then the door-zipper separated, letting in a shaft of light from the bright gymnasium. And for some reason, while he was fixing it, the guy in charge turned off the fan that kept the tent inflated. The ceiling got lower and lower and I started placing bets in my head about who would panic hardest when it collapsed onto us. Quinn is a great shrieker and Jack has been known to participate in semi-regular freak-outs about lesser things, but Sam's a wild card. You never know when he's just going to lose it completely.

Again, happily, we were saved from this eventuality, and the rest of the presentation went smoothly.

It was 7 o'clock by this time and the kids were supposed to go to the music room to watch Roving Mars and the parents were supposed to go to the media center for a PTA meeting. My three little dudes filed into the music room and I asked the lady in charge, "Really? I just leave 'em here and go to the meeting?" After she assured me that they would be there until I came back for them and I said, "Mine's the little blond one. I'll be in the PTA meeting if he needs me," I headed to the PTA meeting.

About 15 minutes later when the intercom came on and a voice said, "Attention, parents," I knew they were talking to me. I'm not sure how I knew, but I did. The voice continued:

"We have a lost child in the office."

Hey! I have some children!

"We think his name might be Chris."

Hmmmm. Chris sounds a lot like how a two-year-old might say "Quinn."

"He looks like he's about two or three years old."

That's funny! Quinn is two and a half.

"He's wearing a red shirt..."

Dude! Quinn's wearing a red shirt!

"...with penguins on it."

Does anybody out there think that description might fit...

THIS:



The rest of the evening is lost in a fog of wandering the halls trying to keep Quinn happy after we had to leave the PTA meeting after he refused to shut the fuck up for four seconds. And I pretty much had to stay to take Sam and Jack home after the movie. So I followed Quinn around the school as he searched for the candy he was sure was there somewhere. I don't know where he got that idea because he's never been given candy at the elementary school before, but the idea was there and it was strong. And it involved a lot of him pointing to his mouth and saying, "I want candy. In my mouth. I want candy. In my mouth."

The movie finally ended and I was relieved to see that both Sam and Jack were still in the room and that Ms. Your-Kids-Will-Be-In-This-Room-Until-You-Get-Back had only lost one of my children.

And thus ended Space Night. It wasn't an entirely smooth trip, but I think I'll give myself a little latitude and put this in the "Positive Experience" column.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Good Behavior

Jack and Quinn both behaved themselves very, very well while Sam took his karate class today.

This may not seem blogworthy, but trust me, it is.

Just 2, Thank You.

We have this very cool phone that lets you program in a phone number that a child can then dial to get a message that you record.

I got this for Sam's birthday a couple years ago, wrote our phone number on it, and recorded, "Happy Birthday, Sam!" to play when he dialed in the number. Jack has been playing with the phone and this morning I heard him repeating a string of numbers that sounded an awful lot like our phone number.

And lo and behold, it was! Success! A toy that teaches what it is supposed to teach!

Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems. When I asked him about it, Jack told me that the number was Sam's phone number.

What, you may be curious to know, is Jack's phone number, according to Jack?

Two.

So if he gets lost and needs to tell someone his phone number, he will be able to get to me, but only if the person who finds him is savvy enough to ask what his big brother's phone number is. Otherwise they're going to have a hell of a time trying to get in touch with me by dialing 2.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Name By Any Other Name...

I thought it was hilarious when Quinn started calling Alex by his name, rather than "Daddy." He started doing it sporadically and then it became more common. One time he was running to tell Alex something and yelled, "Daddy—I mean, Alex!"

I just about died laughing.

But it's not funny anymore now that he calls me by my first name all the time. And Sam has picked up on it too. Jack still seems to realize I'm his mom, but he doesn't tend to use people's names very often. Usually he'll walk up to me and say, "You're my mother."

It now seems instinctual for Sam and Quinn to call us by our first names. They say "Mom" or "Dad" maybe one out of thirty times. It's cute, but it makes me a little sad too.

I'm hoping it's a phase.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Look What I Did!

I'm not a baker, but when faced with a cookie exchange I'm going to tomorrow that requires me to take 6 dozen cookies, I accepted that I couldn't just buy a tube of cookie dough and spoon it onto a cookie sheet.

And look what I came up with! Looky! Looky! Peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies! I made delicious looking cookies! Looky!


Jack obviously thought so too. And now I can use this photo to determine how many went missing between the time I finished baking them at 9, and when I returned to the scene a while later.

I found Jack in the kitchen, covered in chocolate. "Did you eat a cookie?" I asked.

He thought for a while, clearly weighing his options, then he nodded.

"How many did you eat?" I asked.

Another long pause. "A lot."

Apparently he'd eaten so many that he didn't want any more. He turned down the cookie I offered him as a reward for being honest. Sam, on the other hand, sitting obediently on his bunk bed, happily took it and gobbled it.

Uncluttering at Last!

So many fun things to write about:

Sam made the Wall of Fame again!

Adorable Jack-Mouse spent part of his morning very carefully laying out a trail of cheese bits for a mouse to follow. And then he dutifully acted the mouse by moving along the line, consuming each piece.

Quinn has started to spontaneously burst into song: Twinkle Twinkle, the ABC song, the Wonder Pets theme. And he adorably adjusts some of the words when he can't remember how it's supposed to go.

My death house claimed its latest victim: Widget, who banged his head first on the metal support pole in my basement, and second, on Quinn, who was, oddly, completely unaffected. (Okay, this one isn't fun, but really just so typical of my life.

But what I'm really excited by is the fact that I finally started my winter uncluttering project, beginning with that most cluttered of spots: my kitchen.

First, I bought and mounted a wonderful coat hook, thus solving our problem of coats left on the floor, hanging on dining room chairs, and thrown on counters. We did have a hook-board that held backpacks and such, but it was just not effective for backpacks and coats. So this new strip of six hooks (each of which actually is two hooks) is destined to improve my quality of life immensely.

I redistributed my cabinet items to better places, moving frequently used pots from under the counter to an above-counter cabinet, with a dedicated shelf specifically for lids.

I cleaned everything off my counter space except for the things that I actually want to have there. I consolidated some drawers and made the extra drawers homes for some of those hard-to-find-a-place-for things that generally get left on counters.

I removed a slew of items completely that haven't been used in years—or ever. That specialized cake pan I won in a raffle? It has a new home in the garage.

I used to have an entire cabinet filled with fancy glassware, fancy tablecloths, and special placemats. I reorganized all of those on upper shelves of other cabinets, so now I'm using those shelves for things I use on a more daily basis.

I had two locations for spoons, spatulas, ice cream scoops and all of that kind of thing. Most of those things don't get used very often. So I emptied a drawer of never-used mixing bowls and made that my occasional-use items drawer. And now my other two spots are much easier to use. I also threw away old incomplete sets of measuring cups and spoons that had been replaced months ago.

But the best? The cabinet into which is thrown all of our party supplies, candles, vases, plastic utensils, paper plates, and liquor. (Because, really, shouldn't kids party hats live right next to scotch?) I tossed cake decorating goods that I used part of for Sam's second (!) birthday, organized and stacked the paper plates, and generally completely improved the efficiency of that space. Oh, and by the way, remind me never to buy any more plastic forks or spoons because I have about a thousand and six of each. Let me know if you need to borrow any.

And while I did all of this, Scooba cleaned my floors.

What a great start for my weekend. (I'm going to be super bummed when it's all dirty and cluttered by Monday.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Mysterious Benefactor

I've been a little tired lately. And a little worried about Jack. And lacking in downtime. And living in a house that constantly needs to be cleaned.

So imagine my joy and surprise when I came home today and found a plate of assorted cookies on my doorstep. Somebody loves me! (Or somebody put a plate of cookies intended for someone else on my doorstep by mistake, but I prefer to think that somebody loves me.)

If you're out there, mysterious benefactor, know that you totally made my day.