Thursday, June 28, 2007

Defending the Sisterhood

I generally watch The Today Show in the mornings while I'm getting dressed. Honestly (and sadly), I get most of my news from that 15 minutes around the 8 o'clock hour that I watch.

Yesterday morning there was a segment about nanny poaching. Whatever, it probably sucks to have that happen, but free market, blah, blah, blah. The thing that caught my ear was some talking head who said, referring to being careful who you hang out with lest they steal your nanny: "You meet people in your mommy group. But they're not really your friend."

Jesus, can't we all just get along? The stay-at-homers hate the workers. The workers hate the stay-at-homers. The breastfeeders hate the formula-feeders. The disposable diaper people hate the cloth diaper people. The family-bedders hate the cry-it-outers. And vice versa.

Me? Sure I've passed judgment on others, no matter how much I try not to. (For the record: work from home, but consider myself a stay at homer; mostly breastfeeder; disposable diaper person; cry-it-outer.)

But mostly I believe in the sisterhood.

I was introduced to the sisterhood late, in college. A slightly older acquaintance of mine had a very heavy crush on a guy who had a long-distance girlfriend. And my acquaintance was hot. And the guy obviously liked her. But when one of my friends suggested that she go for it, she said something that has stuck with me ever since: "I don't do that. If we women don't look out for each other, who's going to? Not the men." And that's how I joined the sisterhood.

Now, just to clarify, I don't thing all men—or even most—are worms. Nor do I think it is wrong to look at, crush on, or even fantasize about another man, even if you are married or attached and the object of your affection is too. I believe that the sisterhood lies in your actions. Friend, you know who I'm talking to.

I do, however, think the sisterhood is powerful. Women united are powerful.

I have felt the sisterhood surround me as I enter the special ed world. They have hugged me in the hall at school when they caught me crying after one of Jack's meltdowns. They have talked to me and they have listened to me.

I have joined the sisterhood in my actions. I joined a subset of the sisterhood by becoming a parent. And I have found that the mommy-sisterhood is strong. And that, yes, some will judge and hate and make fun, but the ones that matter will support.

I have seen the sisterhood bolster my friends as they drive over the bumpy road of parenting. They have given advice on sleeping, on feeding, on teaching our children. They have lent ears when a sister needs to cry or needs to talk or just needs to sit with a group that won't judge her for wearing sweatpants and no makeup.

I have become part of the sisterhood in recently helping my mother go through a rough patch. We called her daily and we listened to her feel sad, then feel happy, then feel sad, then feel confused, then feel happy again.

I have watched my mother become the sisterhood in helping her friend whose adult son unexpectedly passed away less than a week ago. She visits her friend and calls her friend and doesn't think badly of her because she is on the edge.

I have become part of a sisterhood at least partly made up of those "mommy groups" the talking head on The Today Show was so disparaging of. We are trying to form a protective circle around our good friend WhyMommy as she faces the biggest fight of her life. The sisterhood is with you, WhyMommy. Lean on it. I know we (I) have leaned on you in the past for support. And I know that once you've won this battle, and it is something we can look back on, then you

And that is perhaps the best part of the sisterhood: somehow what you support can support you as well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Little Junkie

This is one of the funnier things that has happened to me in my life. My children don't get candy very often, so when Sam brought home a bag of it from a birthday party last weekend, it was a big deal. And when there is candy in the house, it lasts a loooong time because even when it's in the house, I don't let them eat it very often.

Today I let Sam have a piece, and he shared a piece with Quinn, who really likes candy. ("More candy please, Mommy. Have some more, Mommy? Candy please, Mommy?") Well after they ate their candy, I took a green Now and Later for myself. Turns out Quinn really wanted that green candy. ("Piece of candy! Have it, candy! Green for me!")

Then, when I put it in my mouth, he literally started clawing at my mouth in an effort to get it out. After I swallowed and told him that it was all gone, I opened my mouth to show him, whereupon he hunched down and fully inspected the interior of my mouth.

This is unprecedented. I have a couple of older kids who really like junk food, and no one has EVER tried to reclaim food once I've put it in my mouth.

Here's hoping Quinn's tenacity will serve him well in his future life.

The Cassi-Doodle

In light of more serious events that have made most everything in my life seem trivial, I've decided to blog—dog blog, if you will—about something truly trivial: The Doodle.

You've met The Doodle before, but I've decided to temper my prior diatribe about this poor animal with some kind words about her Doodle-osity.

First of all, all of our pets' names get completely bastardized into something they were never originally intended to be.

My first pet, Desdemona the Cat went by "Bony". (Desdemona...Desdebona...Bony. Duh.) One of my current cats, originallly named Isabella before I discovered that that was far too graceful of a name for her, goes by Izzy, Izz-Bird, or more commonly: The Izz-Bot.

And Cassidy? Cassidog...Cassidoodle...Doodle Dog...The Doodle. Clearly.

Anyway, Cassidy is the best dog we could possibly ask for. Yeah, she barks, she jumps, and she licks, but she's cute, she's nice, she doesn't much mind the kids until they yank on her fur over and over. And even then she's a little cantankerous, but never bitey. And if Alex or I start to wrestle too roughly (according to her) with one of the kids, she will insert herself between us and them. She is a lovely, sensitive dog.

Due to some kids' fear of dogs, and the fact that Cassidy is a herding dog that LOVES to herd things, specifically children that run happily through our backyard, we generally put her upstairs when kids come by to play. Her herding tendencies aren't helped by the weird growling noise that generally accompanies this behavior. To her credit, she usually won't jump on the children, but she does enthusiastically jump on their parents.

Wait. I take that back. She won't jump on children unless they're running and shrieking, which is what kids do when they are scared to death of a dog. And then she'll knock them down. Sam has learned to stop and stand still if the dog starts running at him when he's in the back yard. This, unfortunately, was a lesson learned the hard way.

Today, however, I had three different kids over at different times, two of whom have dogs at home, and who wanted to see and play with The Doodle.

The first small visitor, Darling Baby K, was freaked out by The Izz-Bot, but was so fascinated by the dog that she wouldn't eat her applesauce at lunch. Child #2 was thrilled to meet Cassidy and was just disappointed that she wouldn't come into the wading pool with him. (I think the splashing may have had something to do with it.) And sweet little Widget kindly petted Cassidy, who happily soaked it all up, as did my whole little troupe of dudes who was so happy that he stopped by.

It makes me very happy to see Cassidy coexist with children and that makes me hopeful that as she ages and gets calmer she may be able to hang out with more kids. Because no matter her weaknesses, The Doodle loves visitors and seems slightly heartbroken when I release her from upstairs after our friends leave. She tears around the house sniffing everything that came near a guest and you can virtually see her sadness that she wasn't part of it all.

While I'm not looking forward to her old age, I am looking forward to her middle age when she is healthy and happy, but mellow enough to hang out without being a total jerk. Here's hoping that day will come soon.

And as for those more serious events that led me to ramble on and on and on (and on) about my dumb-ass dog: Kick its ass, WhyMommy. We're here for you and will do whatever it is to help you keep up your incredible strength and positivity that inspires so many. Not only can you do it, you will do it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Words I Never Thought I'd Say... one son about another:

"Jack, if he's crying like that, it means he doesn't want to wear the leash."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

More on Bathrooms.

So here's a new wrinkle: Jack won't use girl's bathrooms anymore.

When we went out to dinner on my birthday my mom took Jack and Sam to the bathroom. When they came back she told me that Jack had refused to pee because he wanted to go to the boy's bathroom. Initially I thought this was something I would easily be able to remedy, so then I took him.

No go. Literally. He cried, started to scream, refused to listen to me or the other mom in the ladies' room who tried to convince him that it's the rule that four-year-olds go to the bathroom with their mom. Eventually I gave up, instructed him to hold it, and waited (successfully, thank God) until we got home. At the time I thought it was a fluke.

Not so much anymore. Because Alex is out of town, I had to take Sam and Jack to swim class today, something Alex usually does. And because I am a girl, we had to use the girl's locker room. This was NOT okay with Jack. With Sam, when he doesn't want to do something, I can usually reason with him. With Sam, he doesn't want to do something. With Jack, it's like he can't do something. He's not really expressing a preference so much as an requirement. For some reason that he can't express, he has decided this is not an okay place to pee. And that is the end of that. You can lead a boy to a toilet, but you can't make him pee. Or stop screaming. Or even stand up.

But now I'm worried. One time is a fluke; two times is the start of a pattern.

Today I dealt with it by using the girl's locker room, but had Sam take Jack into the men's locker room to go to the bathroom before swim class. Then by the time class was over, Jack seemed to have forgotten his objections. He wouldn't shower in the girl's locker room, but he let me get him dressed and he did eventually go to the bathroom.

I'm not quite sure what to do. I refuse to let Jack go into a public restroom by himself, for several reasons. I have this fear of predators hiding in men's rooms waiting for unattended children. I don't even let Sam go to the bathroom by himself, and he's the responsible one. With Jack, even if there wasn't a predator lurking in there, he would happily wash his hands for six hours, possibly stick his head in a urinal, and maybe never come out. He might even forget to pee altogether.

And even though I did it today, I'm not going to make Sam take him. Because, first of all, Sam is not exactly a defense against the evils of a men's room. Nor should it be his responsibility to take care of Jack. That's my responsibility. And if Sam did take him, when Jack got stubborn and refused to do what Sam said—and that would happen sooner or later, probably sooner—Sam is not strong enough or persuasive enough to drag Jack out of the bathroom. And again, nor should he have to be.

I guess my plan now is to wait and hope that the pattern doesn't continue. And to take Jack to the bathroom prior to leaving the house. And then wait to see what little quirks pop up next.

Ah, the adventure of parenthood.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Difference of Opinion

On the way to the airport to (sniff) drop my mom off for her flight home:

Nana (seeing a jet take off): "Look, Sam, an airplane!"

Sam (seeing a small bird flying in front of the car): "No, Nana, that's a bird."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Except for Sam, we're a family of spring and summer birthdays. Today was my turn. And don't think I'm a-gonna tell you how old I am.

Okay, I'm 34.

And even though Alex is away in San Francisco having childless fun with our old friends, this was one of the better birthdays in recent memory.

No matter that she needs to get home to prepare for her imminent move to Australia, my mom stayed here longer than she probably wanted to so she could spend the day with me. Morning started with (yay!) presents, including a couple gifts that my mom bought for Sam and Jack to give me, including a beautiful necklace that Sam picked out. I won't go into the amazing things people gave me, but suffice it to say, I have the best family in the whole world.

We spent most of the day at a petting farm playing with goats and chickens and going on hay rides with some friends from the preschool. First thing when we got there, we saw these giant horses. Jack was slobbered on seconds after this photo was taken. Then we got to milk a cow. And things were just getting started. After two hay rides; some time petting llamas, goats, sheep, and brahma cows; and a pig race, we broke for lunch.

Awesomely enough there was a giant maze for the kids to run through and little bags of chips for sale for a mere 50 cents. The only change I would have made would have been to trade the porta potties for running water. Although even the porta potties were pretty clean. I tell ya', Kid Heaven! And if it's Kid Heaven, you know it's Mommy Heaven too.

After lunch, when we headed off to the barn, Sam was kind enough to wait outside the pig pen to finish eating his ham sandwich before petting this here pig that you see with Quinn:

"He feels like a toothbrush," was his response once he ceased eating his favorite meat long enough to pet his favorite meat.

We were also able to view a 500-pound pig. Let me tell you, that's a big pig. There was also a litter (cloud? school? swarm?) of baby pigs to look at and touch. Also not to be missed? Bins full of chicks and baby ducks to pet. And then on to the chickens.

Oh, and Jack? Turns out he really likes chickens. This was the kind of place that lets kids hold chickens. And although I'm not entirely sure that's good for the chickens, Jack thinks he made a bunch of two-legged, pointy friends today. He even named one of them Coo-Coo and tried to cram her into her little metal nest so she could lay an egg. If we'd left him to his own devices, I'm pretty sure he'd still be there, curled up on the chickenshit-covered floor while the chickens roosted above him.

We used a lot of hand sanitizer today. Naps for everyone on the way home, birthday cake after we got there, and quiet afternoon play in the basement led up to a fun, if chaotic, dinner out with my family and my excellent neighbor and her two kids. Who gave me chocolate. Rock. On.

I think I like being 34.

Who Knew?

Alex was mentioned in The LA Times today regarding a case he is involved in. Allow me to summarize:

"Blah, blah, blah, state officials, blah, federal government, blah, blah, de blah, Deputy Atty. Gen. Alex blah de blah de blah."

Who knew Alex was a Deputy Attorney General? Not me. Probably not Alex. And for sure not anyone in the Attorney General's office. He's got to get this shit on his resume ASAP.

As someone who has worked in the Times organization (at the The LA Times Magazine) as a—wait for it—fact checker, I have to say bravo for making the facts, if not exactly accurate, at least ego-boosting.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Camped Out

Remember how I was going to chill out a little this summer? Well we (and by "we", I mean "Sam and Jack") just spent three days in a row getting to camp at 9:30 am and staying until 1 pm. It's basically preschool plus wading pools, and it is actually at their preschool with their loved and familiar teachers, but basically, camp has wiped the floor with Jack.

On Tuesday when I arrived as his class was headed inside from the playground, Jack took a detour directly toward me and made it clear he was just done.

Wednesday he lasted until 1 and even looked sort of perky at pick-up when he ran across the playground into my arms. And then he fell asleep in the car and slept for more than an hour. And he rarely naps.

Today he apparently spent the last long chunk of time systematically eradicating all traces of pudding from his pudding cup. That's how I found him at 1 o'clock, with spoon in hand and chocolate on his face.

I'm thinking that September, with its full day of preschool classes, is going to be a tough month for Mr. Jack. Sam, however, is going to totally rock full-day kindergarten. He almost literally never stops moving, never naps, never wants to go to bed at his 7:30 bedtime. Of course, he does get pretty crabby after school/camp, so I know he gets tired, he just refuses to give in to it. (I can't possibly imagine where that kind of stubbornness could come from.)

Quinn—he who gets mommy all to himself while the others are at camp—on the other hand, is totally chilled out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The day I decided to start my videography business, which was the day a fellow parent at the preschool saw a DVD I'd made and suggested that I make a promotional DVD for his company, a different parent asked me to make a DVD yearbook for our 4-year-old class. I agreed to do so, taped it, edited it, copied it, and distributed it over the past week. Today a mom from the class called me for the sole purpose of telling me she liked the video. And when she called the first time and got my answering machine, she didn't just give me that information on my machine (as I probably would have done), she asked me to call her back so she could tell me in real time. So nice.

This DVD is my favorite project that I have made so far (I'm sure it doesn't hurt that Sam is in it) and is Something I made that I was REALLY proud of.

I learn from every project that I do and each one is better than the last in one way or another. I got a refresher crash course in what not to do when taping from my first DVD. I learned about lighting (specifically bad lighting) in my next video. My current project is teaching me some harsh lessons about audio.

But the DVD yearbook is awesome. Sure, if I do it again next year for Jack's class, there are some things that I might do differently (charge more for the final project, for example), but for the most part I am completely happy with it. Everyone who has watched it loves it, some have asked for extra copies, and most of them have gushed to me that they will treasure it for a long time. I got another job from it, with the possibility of a couple more. And Sam loves it. Sam would watch it over and over if I let him.

So this project represents a major creative and professional achievement for me. But the best part of it is, when I watch it, I don't see the mistakes I made or things I didn't know to do. Instead I see the adorable class of four-year-olds that I have grown to love over the past year or more and am grateful for the beautiful reminder I have of Sam's introduction to school. And of that I am very proud.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Just so you know, I went to Target today with a list that read, "Quinn PJs; goldfish crackers."

And I walked out of the store with pajamas for Quinn and a giant box of goldfish crackers.

I averted my eyes when I passed the kids' books (a big weakness of mine). I didn't stop and look at the $1 section at the front of the store. I paused so very briefly when I saw a Sam-sized Transformers t-shirt, but kept walking. And I ignored Quinn's repetition of the word "cookie" meant to entice me into buying him a treat.

I. Am. Strong.

We're a Multi-Aunt Family

Although Alex and I have constructed probably the most traditional family life that one could possibly imagine, the rest of our family is not nearly as boring. We are rife with stepparents, stepsiblings, half-siblings, half-cousins, two-mommy households, ex-stepparents, ex-stepsiblings, adoptees...well, you get the picture.

Mostly we just keep it simple for the guys, especially since our family is far-flung and the little men don't get to see them very often. We talk about aunts and uncles and cousins and would never think of qualifying them with "step" or "half" as I have done here.

But it is still confusing for them. They know who Grandma is and who Nana is. They knew who Grandpa was. Because we were lucky enough to have my sister, her partner, and their two kids come for Christmas last year, they know who they are. Although mostly they remember Cousin I, because he's Jack's age and was a lot of fun to play with.

My mom—Nana—who is visiting, was suggesting to Sam today that he could visit my stepbrother and his family when my stepsister is out this summer. Of course we simplified this by saying that he could visit his uncle and cousins when his Aunt S comes to visit.

Sam paused for a long time and then, equating "Aunt" with "Lady Who Visited Over Christmas," said, "Is she one of Cousin I's guys?"

All I know is that I grew up with exactly one sister and three cousins, and I am really happy to be part of an extended family big enough that Sam can hear the word aunt and not know who it refers to.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I have had it up to here. (Picture me pointing at the tip-top of my increasingly furrowed brow.)

When I was a new mother I was determined to raise unspoiled children. I was going to have sweet, non-materialistic kids that didn't ask me to buy them things in stores. And if they did, and I said no, they would nicely fall back into step beside me (because New-Mom Stimey imagined her kids walking nicely beside her and not being dragged with varying degrees of resistance based on age and recalcitrance) and they would happily walk to the checkout where they would wait politely in line to buy the broccoli and green beans they would devour for dinner.

Yeah. Things turned out a little different. I'm sure that part of it is their age, but I recognize that part of it is my own consumerism. Buying things makes me happy. Buying things for my kids makes me really happy. That is why—and if you've ever been to my house you'll agree—I have more toys per capita than most preschools.

For a long time I wouldn't think about spending a dollar or two here or there to buy them a special snack or a small toy, but now it is getting to the point that if we walk into a certain type of store Sam will immediately ask me to buy him something. He doesn't know what, he just wants to buy something.

And that is not okay with me. Because I know just how he feels. I feel it too. That compulsion to buy leads to waste, debt, clutter, and all kinds of bad things. Sometimes it leads to fun purchases too, but if he (I) walks into a store without knowing what he (I) wants, he (I) probably doesn't need it.

So we're starting a new policy at Stimeyland. Absolutely no purchasing of unplanned items. We are all going to get out of the habit of wanting things just because we're there. And my kids are young enough that hopefully they will learn the new way and not the old. And eventually, we'll ease up and allow for a spontaneous purchase here and there, but as long as they're taking it for granted, we're not buying.

Sam was naturally a tad upset.

Wish me luck! Hopefully my next post won't be about how I found some excellent new toy at the grocery store that I absolutely needed to buy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


It's sort of cool to watch Jack develop these days, because although he has lots of rough days (like today with a bajillion meltdowns over what I consider small things—he obviously doesn't), he is turning a corner in terms of things regarding self-care and self-reliance.

He is 100 percent reliable with potty training now, and about a month ago he learned to put on his sandals by himself. In the last couple of weeks he's been experimenting with dressing himself, something he didn't do at all before. In fact, he loves dressing himself so much that he often puts his clothes for the next day on after we put him to bed at night. And if he thinks there's a swimming pool anywhere in the vicinity, he strips down so fast you would never know he couldn't take a T-shirt off by himself a month ago.

And just today he put his velcro-close sneakers on by himself for the first time. He was obviously nervous, and I gave him verbal instructions, but he did it all by himself.

But there are disadvantages to his newfound self reliance as well. Between this paragraph and the last, I had to get up and go retrieve Jack because he decided he wanted water and went to get it by himself without telling anyone. This involved climbing onto the counter to get a cup out of the cupboard, pushing a chair up to the sink, filling the cup, and then being distracted by the dishes in the sink and deciding to engage in some water play. (Thanks, Jack, for the post-appropriate behavior.)

Oh, and this morning Alex found him covered in shaving cream and holding a razor (all obtained independently) because he wanted to "be like Dad." I told Alex he better start rethinking his razor storage.

Also seriously Jack has started to try to leave the house by himself. He can unlock the door and will, without compunction, open it and walk right outside. He's never gotten off the porch before I've caught him, but it makes me nervous. And I don't really want to put a hook on the door because I feel like when Jack inevitably sets the house on fire, then Sam won't be able to lead all the kids to safety.

Our alarm system does ding when the door is opened, and the alarm will full-on go off if he ever tries to go out at night, but jeez. How to keep him safe when his ability is ahead of his common sense?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Sam, as I'm dicing pork chops for stir fry for dinner: "Is that pig meat? [slurping noises...] Yummy! Pig meat! I love pig meat! I love pig meat."

Which is ironic because we practically had to force him to eat One. Bite. of pig meat for dinner. Perhaps he likes the idea of loving pig meat more than he likes the pig meat itself. But what a weird thing to want to like.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Special Ed, Here We Come!

Thank you, Montana Friend, for your kind words after yesterday's post. The emotional roller coaster continues, but I'm headed up a hill right now and am actually feeling pretty good, and I have today's IEP meeting to thank. Which surprises me a little because I was sure I was going to burst into tears at least once. And, yay me, I didn't!

It looks like Jack will get to stay in his regular preschool for morning classes, and then head over to PEP preschool for special ed in the afternoon. I'm still not quite sure how it's going to work out logistically, and I think I'm going to be doing a lot of driving, but it sounds like it will be the best thing for Jack. I asked if they thought a whole day of school may be too much for Jack and they pointed out that kindergarten is, in fact, all day and that this might help prepare him. And if it doesn't work out, we can always ask for a new program. At least this is what they promise. (Fingers crossed.)

Turns out that based on the evaluation they did, Jack would not have qualified. Remember how they said he was absolutely not autistic? In fact, when she arrived to observe Jack in class, the psychologist even went so far as to tell the teacher she didn't know why we'd brought Jack in to have him evaluated. Apparently watching Jack in a classroom for a couple of hours was enough to change her mind. She stopped short of coding him as autistic, preferring to call him developmentally delayed, but left the door open for a future autism code.

In fact, the psychologist said Jack is definitely a puzzle and she is having a hard time figuring him out. Now I feel a little less bad that I can't figure him out. True, I'm his mother, but if a special-ed psychologist calls him an enigma, I feel better referring to him as such. Oh, Jack, you are truly a special little guy.

But really, thank God for the school observation, because they almost didn't do it seeing as how it was the end of the year and it was hard to find a day they could get in there.

The IEP meeting was really amicable and, happily, I found myself agreeing with almost everything they said about Jack. Alex flipped into lawyer-mode almost immediately, but he relaxed as well, and ended the meeting in dad-mode.

I took Joeymom's advice and didn't sign the IEP, especially since they hadn't entirely finished the report yet. But I think we'll be able to safely do so without reservations once it is mailed to us.

Mostly I feel great that Jack and I are getting the help, services, and resources we need. He'll have a smaller class at PEP, his teacher will be specifically trained to deal with his issues, and he might actually get some enjoyment out of being a more advanced kid in the class&#8212which will likely be the case, according to the IEP team. And I still get to keep him at his current preschool, which we love.

Hoo. Ray!

Monday, June 11, 2007


Ever walk into a room of people to a near-collective gasp and inquiries as to your state of mind? This happened to me today, leading me to seriously question my appearance. I thought I was doing all right, but perhaps my dark black bad mood was visible. Maybe these women (who I really like, and who really just wanted to be sure I was okay) saw the black cloud over my head. And probably some of this is in my head. (Whymommy, was the response to my entrance really that blatant?)

I could list the reasons for my increasing stress and irritability, but, frankly, I'm in too bad of a mood to do it.

And although the kindness and concern shown me this morning nearly brought me to tears, an hour of (mostly) relaxation with these women elevated my mood one or two levels.

Watching Jack avoid contact with anyone—adult or child—for the third occasion in a row brought me back down. Then he took a pretty big tumble on the pavement outside and he lost it completely. (We told him that he runs SO fast now that sometimes it makes him fall. That helped a little.)

Up and down and all around. I feel like the most unstable person in the world these days. Is it just me or is it motherhood?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Awe. Some.

I might have been in high school the first time I saw a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was a local production and I went with my mom, although I don't remember the impetus for it. I loved it so much that I went back the next night and took my sister. Then we both went back for closing night.

Like I said: Awe. Some.

A lot of soundtrack listening and movie viewing ensued. And, as a matter of fact, nearly all of my knowledge of the Bible comes from this very rock opera. As such, my knowledge of the Bible may be a bit skewed.

I went to see the 1992 touring revival starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson. I went with my sister, the San Francisco production was fabulous, and I walked away with a tie-dye T-shirt with a picture of Christ's head and the words, "1992 A.D. Tour."

Totally. Awe. Some.

Then tonight I took Alex to see it because it was playing nearby at Wolf Trap, and because I really wanted to see it again. Ostensibly this was my anniversary present to Alex. I say ostensibly because, although I genuinely intended it as a gift for him, he was not nearly as enthralled as I. Maybe I'll buy him a tie or something.

Anyway, the show was, yep, that's right: awesome. This was the last scheduled night of Ted Neeley's so-called Farewell Tour although he made some comments at the curtain call that lead me to believe that he just might enjoy playing Jesus a little too much to let it go. The show I saw in San Francisco was better, but this one was plenty fun. I actually, literally got chills when the music first started up. (Maybe this is the time to admit that I am totally a theatre nerd.)

There was some slow-motion dance at the beginning, causing Alex to quote from TV: "I can't tell you, but I can show you through interpretive dance." He was also astute enough to notice that Herod was wearing the very same orange Crocs that Quinn has. ("Orange ones," he whispered.)

It was really thrilling for me and we came home to a peaceful house with sleeping boys and a hamper of folded laundry that my mom had somehow conned Sam into helping to fold. A DVD-burning issue I'd been having all day resolved itself while I was gone, and I was left with a perfect DVD. And my mom came up with a brilliant way of keeping the kids from wandering around the house between the hours of 7:30 and 10 p.m. that I'd never even thought of. (It involves the pull-out couch, as well as threats of banishment to their room, and will only work so long as my mom is in town, but that still gives us two weeks.)

Say it with me now: Awe. Fucking. Some.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Sixteen-Hour Playdate

It's been a week of milestones around here. Leaving preschool was the biggie. The next milestone, a smaller one, was that Sam had his first sleepover. And by sleepover, I mean that he had a buddy come over for the night.

Preschool Friend came over at about 6 p.m. Sam and Friend ran downstairs immediately to get Sam's sleeping bag. Friend's mom barely got a goodbye, much less a hug or a kiss. So much for anxiety. We definitely picked a sleepover pro for our first try.

Quinn wanted to go to the basement too, so I followed him downstairs and hung out with the big kids, who had created a game called "Headsmasher" that involved sliding head-first down our small slide into a pile of beanbags. Jack was injured shortly thereafter, not playing Headsmasher, but rather by trying to copy Sam and Friend's jump off the top of the slide to the pile of beanbags. Jack didn't spend much time with the two of them after that.

Now, I should mention that between 5 and 6, the day had turned from hot and sunshiny to dark and thunderstormy. When the lights flickered for the first time Sam and Friend were inspired to tun off all the lights in the basement. Of course, in my basement you have to turn each of about seven different lights off separately by pulling strings attached to bare lightbulbs. (I know, I live in a palace.) So Friend devised an elaborate plan involving standing on multiple beanbags and an inflatable pillow while trying to grab the string (which, by the way, had been tied up to prevent children from doing this very thing) with a pair of plastic toy pliers.

Bear in mind that I stood by to watch all of this. I try to let Sam and friends attempt things as long as they don't seem crazy-dangerous. I don't think this qualified. They were standing on something soft after all.

Anway, pizza followed, as did Alex's soggy return home from work. Did I mention that he commutes by motorcycle? "Things did not go awesomely on the way home," he reported. As an omen of things to come he mentioned that there were power outages affecting traffic lights on his drive home.

Friend came upstairs to use the bathroom and on his way back through the living room pulled the entire Star Wars trilogy out of his bag to ask, "Is Sam allowed to watch this?"


I guess I'm not allowed to try to put them to bed at 7:30, like usual. So I let them play for a while longer and when Sam came running in holding his sleeping bag and asking, "When is it bedtime?" I offered to let them watch Star Wars. I popped popcorn, got the guys cups of water and put on The Empire Strikes Back prompting Friend to comment, "This is the life." (Instead of "Friend" I almost called him "Precocious".)

Alex settled in next to them and filled the role of anti-spoiler fanboy, while Friend, who has apparently seen this movie a lot before, told us the details of the story slightly before it happened. He gave a long expository on Luke's escape from the snow monster, to which Sam replied, "I want to see that!" After some of Friend's specious observations about the film, Alex commented to me, "It appears he has critical facts about the movie wrong."

But their interest waned and we turned it off after about a half hour. Then the power abruptly went out and all hell broke loose for awhile as flashlights and lanterns were found. I was pleased to discover that Friend is not afraid of the all-encompassing dark. Jack, however, is. Although it manifested itself as a tantrum over only being able to get water from the sink and not the refrigerator door. Ever the opportunists, Sam and Friend took advantage of the power outage as a popcorn opportunity. After retreating to Sam's room, Friend asked, "Why don't you leave snacks here to calm us?" (Do you ever listen to a child speak and distinctly hear his mother instead?)

After about a half hour the power came back on. There was a lot of jumping around and celebrating—a substantial amount of which was done by me. Honestly, there are few things that give me the heebie jeebies more than my power being out. Among other things I can FEEL my ice cream melting. And, folks, you don't fuck with my ice cream. All told, the power stayed off just long enough for it to be sort of fun.

Then, for the next THREE HOURS they continued to play, sneak around, and totally dismantle Sam's room. At midnight I finally separated them (they were having an argument about who was in charge) by putting Sam on the top bunk and then giving them both books. At my 12:25 a.m. bed check they were asleep.

They slept 'til 9 a.m., ate pancakes, and played nicely until Friend's mom arrived at 10:15. I was very excited by this rousing success and hope that when Sam goes to Friend's house it will go as "smoothly" (do power outages count as smooth?) last night. 'Cause all things considered, I prefer a 12:25 a.m. bedtime to a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call because of a bad dream in a strange house.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Kindergarten, Here He Comes!

Aside from the fact that Sam will be returning to his preschool for four weeks of camp over the summer, Sam is an official graduate! Here he is getting his diploma:

Sam's nana came all the way from Texas for the graduation (and for a couple more weeks of grandkid-fun) and Alex took the morning off work to attend the ceremony. Picture 14 more Sams (and Samanthas) all lined up in their mortarboard (or posterboard) caps, marching into a room full of proud relatives to regulation graduation music. The teacher said something personal and nice about each child (Sam is apparently really good at raising his hand and waiting to be called on), and then they all mumble-sang some delightful songs.

Then we ate cake.

Sam had a similar ceremony last year because he was in a 4s class then as was about half of his current class. They were the last batch of fall birthday kids who were allowed to enter the school ahead of their year. Hence, the double graduation. But since this year it actually meant something we headed out to The Cheesecake Factory for a celebratory lunch.

For the sake of posterity I will omit the screaming, cajoling, and bribing that took place between leaving the school—where all of Sam's friends were playing on the playground—and arriving at the mall—where there was food, but no friends.

Fortunately this mall does not only house cheesecake, but also a small train that circles the bottom floor of the mall for a mere dollar a child. This made the 30-minute wait all the better. And once you add in a trip to the bathroom in a different restaurant near the train, we arrived back at The Factory just in time for a table. At lunch my mom gave Sam a copy of Yay, You!, which I highly recommend as a gift for any graduate. Especially the preschool variety. It's already a favorite at our house.

Sam wore his hat into the mall, resulting in a lot of attention and kudos on graduating from strangers. It was fun to see him go from "How do they know I graduated?" to "I'm the graduation man," in a mere 22 minutes. Give Sam 22 minutes and he'll give you an ego.

Here's to many more, my big guy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


There are days that are just like what you think parenting should be. Today was Jack's last day of school, and a bunch of parents brought picnic lunches and we all sat out on the playground and ate, played, and snuggled—mostly with our own kids, not with each other.

There was, to my knowledge, not a single fight among the kids. None of my kids whined at me. No one threw a tantrum. I got to talk to my adult friends. Quinn spent a good hour jabbering away while eating his lunch and sitting on my lap. Sam ran around with his friends. Jack lay down on our blanket with his head on my leg while I stroked his newly buzz cut head. I was able to shower them with kisses and bask in the love I have for them.

I have a lot of days where I am at the end of my rope. When the kids act in a way I don't like and I end up yelling at them. Or even when we do something perfectly nice that gets tarnished when they balk at leaving and yell at me. To be perfectly honest, I spend a lot of time bitching about my kids.

But sometimes I get an hour or two that is easy, fun, and tender. We have more good times than bad, and they hear more good things than exasperated things, but I almost always feel like the harried mother of three rambunctious kids under six.

Today, for a brief window of time, I got to feel like the perfect mother of three perfect kids under six.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Back in the heyday of my rampant social anxiety, which peaked in the years after grad school and before Quinn was born, I spent a lot of time at home. And if I left the house, it was often alone or with a dog or an infant, which is close enough to alone to qualify. I would go see friends with Alex, but the thought of being alone with a group of people or, God forbid, ONE person was enough to induce small-scale panic in my head.

I would never have taken my kids somewhere where it would be expected that I would talk to strangers (at parks I mostly kept to myself), I would rarely call someone to do something with (and if I did, there was often a multi-day lead-up to the phone call). And I would certainly have never called someone other than my mom or sister just to chat.

Caller ID, email, and the Internet have helped a lot with my social anxiety. Anxiety medication helped even more. Now I have a pretty busy social life, a pretty busy work life, and a full slate of people to call on the phone just to chat. Who am I?

All this leads me to a pretty big lifestyle change. Anxiety-ridden Stimey was always excited (and freaked out) when she had more that 2 or 3 activities scheduled per week. And that Stimey was not good at spontaneously adding activities to her schedule. She had to be prepared to be "on", something that was really tough for that version of Stimey.

Present-day Stimey would be shocked and addled with boredom if she had only 2 or 3 activities planned for a week. But here's the thing. Present-day Stimey has an entourage of three little boys, who are just as overscheduled as she is.

I'm not talking about the "superkids" overscheduled kid thing here. It's not like I'm dragging them to piano lesson after soccer lesson and before charm school (and no judgment if that's what your kids do—to each her own), but the amount of time they have to hang out in their house by themselves and play with only brothers and parents is limited.

Someone has school every morning, and the others usually go somewhere else during school sessions. After school we hang out on the playground to play or picnic and often don't get home until 2 or 2:30. And fairly regularly there is some sort of afternoon activity as well: someone comes over for dinner, another kid comes over for a playdate, we go somewhere else for a playdate. Or we'll go to a park or run errands. Sometimes I'll try to figure out a good time to bring one of Sam's friends home for a playdate and I won't be able to find a free afternoon for two weeks.

I feel that most of these activities are quality endeavors. They're hanging out with other kids or playing outside, but it will amaze me sometimes that I can leave the house at 9 a.m. and not be back until 4 p.m. Of course there are also days like today when Quinn and I came home while Sam and Jack were at school and we stayed at home all day except for a quick trip out for three kiddie haircuts (Oh my God, they're cute!).

But I don't understand how this happened to me. I just turned my calendar over to June and although it is filled up with camp sessions and playdates here and there, my goal for the month is to keep it mellow. We have seven million toys here—this month we're going to play with them. We're going to swim in the wading pool. We're going to climb our climbing tree. We're going to paint and play with playdough. We're going to ride bikes and play basketball.

Don't get me wrong, we're still going to invite you over to play, but you won't be here more than we are.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Stroll for the Cure

This morning I arose at the ungodly hour of 6:20 a.m. to Metro into DC for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Or in the case of my group, a slow, ambling walk for the cure. A friend from the preschool had put together a team so I signed up, resignedly set my alarm for 6 a.m., and arrived downtown with thousands of other walkers to raise money for breast cancer research.

Upon arriving in DC, however, we discovered that it would be impossible to keep track of our group because, guess what? There were fifty thousand other people wearing the exact same clothes. (Somehow we managed to stay mostly together through the finish line. Shortly thereafter, we splintered into three groups.) Of the two people we tried to meet at the site, we actually were able to locate one of them. And she arrived bearing swag in the form of green hats and pins with pictures of pink ribbons on them (from McDonald's). Jack is still wearing the pin. That's Jack: raising awareness wherever he goes.

Oh, and did I mention that it was hot? The weather forecast called for thunderstorms today, but I didn't see a cloud literally all day long. Let me tell you, the Metro ride to DC was decidedly less smelly than the Metro ride from DC. Thank God for air conditioning on the train, that's all I have to say.

All in all, a good morning, a good time with friends, and a good cause.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Fresh Air

We had the perfect afternoon today. A couple of weeks ago when we went to the garage to get our purple plastic elephant wading pool out of the garage, we discovered that it hadn't weathered the winter too well. And by "hadn't weathered the winter too well," I mean, "had cracked and broken in multiple spots along its trunk line." Turns out the shelf life of a purple plastic elephant wading pool is two summers. Fair enough.

Sam and Quinn and I went to Toys R Us this morning while Jack was in school to find a new pool, and, oh my God, did we find a pool. To some of you out there, it might look like just some regular old wading pool, but it is The Best Wading Pool in the Whole Entire World:

It was harder than you might expect to cram it into a minivan already full of two kids. Hard enough that a kind elderly gentleman saw my struggles and stepped in to help. Fortunately for someone who doesn't care to accept help from strangers, especially men, especially when I'm with my kids, I had just gotten it into the car. (Thank you, Chrysler, and your kick-ass Stow 'n Go seating.)

Of course, Sam had to be moved to the front seat (thank you again, Chrysler, for your automatic front airbag shut-off based on passenger weight) and Quinn had to have a roof of wading pool over his head. And I got to drive home, albeit next to a very excited child ("I can open and close my window whenever I want!"), wondering if it is actually illegal to put your 5-year-old in the front seat of the car or just tragically unsafe.

Anyway, by the time all three boys were home, fed, and the pool was set up and filled, it was 1 p.m. and time to play. Now, one of the great things about pool play is that you can't leave your kids alone in the yard with a giant tub of drownin' water. You can't clean your house. You can't wash your dishes. You can't work on the computer (unless you have Wi-Fi in your kids' swingset fort). All you can do is hang out on the back porch and relax. I mean, I guess I could weed or something, but I'm really not that person.

Sam and Jack LOVE the pool. And they LOVE the slide. And they LOVE that they can use the top of the slide as a jumping platform, something it took them all of about four minutes to figure out. Quinn? Well he was less excited. He did not care for the pool at first. He splashed around a bit, but refused to get in, which made Sam increasingly sad. The water was coldish, he hadn't been in a wading pool for a long time, and there was some splashing going on.

But I think that the real reason he didn't want to get in—and you knew this was coming—was because he had to poop. He was really uncomfortable for a couple hours this afternoon, I think partly due to all the fiber we've been pumping into his system. And don't tell him, but I snuck some MiraLax into his chocolate milk at lunch. He finally pooped and then promptly fell asleep in my arms. (And I know you are probably really tired of intimate details of Q's bowel movements, but to give you an idea of the sheer magnitude of this one, I'll let you know that I had to clean it out of my watchband.)

My point, I suppose, was that it was 4:10 before Quinn happily checked out the pool. But even he eventually had some fun in it. He sat on the slide steps, he played with a couple beach balls in it, and he even went down the slide a couple of times. All told, we spent three and a half hours out there today, and it was awesome! There is, happily, a pool-size patch of shade near the bottom of my steps that lasts most of the afternoon, and we have no shortage of buckets, balls, and little boats to play with. Plus the two big guys spent some time rinsing off the sandy deck.

Best. Afternoon. Ever. (Except for the poopsplosion.)