Then There Were Three

Sometimes things hit you at odd times.

When Sam finished preschool I was a little sad because he had been there for three years and had made friends with some great kids. All of his teachers were amazing and I loved the families I met there, some of whom I will see next year, some of whom I’ll see outside of school, and some of whom I might never see again. But I never had the choke up and get really sad and melancholy moment. After all, I’ll be at that school for the next three years, so I’m planning to hold off on tears until Quinn graduates.

There were plenty of times for nostalgia: graduation ceremonies, the last day of school, the after-school party I hosted, the last day of camp… However none of them hit me in any way other than, “Well, on to the next thing.”

But today I had to stop by the school to pick something up. I’m the Membership VP, so I have keys and was able to go by when no one but myself and the three guys were there. I deposited them in the indoor playroom, known as the Riding Room, and ran off to get the things I needed. When I came back, they wanted to play awhile, so I let them have a few minutes.

Then it hit me.

Every single morning for the past two years the four of us would sit in that room for ten or fifteen or twenty minutes while we waited for school to start. There were things that only two of us did, or three, but this was something all four of us did every single day. And this was probably the last time the four of us would play in there together.

Next year, Sam will be off having adventures at kindergarten as we while away the time before class starts in the Riding Room.

Next year, in a place where we’ve spent so much time as a quartet, we will become a trio.

Vacation…Had To Get Away

We took a little trip this weekend to Rehoboth Beach to spend a couple of days with one of Alex’s friends from work and his wife. (The friend’s wife, not Alex’s. Although a lot of my and Alex’s problems could be solved with a second wife. As long as I get to be in charge and boss her around.)

Just before we left on Saturday, Sam asked if it was going to be a long drive. After I told him it would be, he asked if I needed to go potty first. Thanks, Sam, I think I’ve had enough practice at going pee before long car trips. I am 34. But the car trip was actually a lot longer than intended. Our first stop was scheduled. We dropped Cassidy off at her doggy hotel. (They kept referring to her pen as a “suite,” something it very much was not. See, in my mind a suite involves a multi-room set-up. And probably less concrete and chainlink than there was in her cage.)

Our second stop was not scheduled. It happened shortly after Jack started vomiting profusely while we were on the beltway. We had just gotten him cleaned up and bought water and crackers for him and were standing outside the car deciding what to do when Quinn started throwing up. Followed shortly thereafter by Sam’s barfing. See, remember Chuck E. Cheese? Yeah, they poisoned the family. (Maybe instead of calling poison control for the mosquito repellent, we should have called for the pizza.) Even Alex felt queasy. I, being the only one smart enough to not eat the pizza, was the only one to feel great all day Saturday. (That is, until that night when I was laying in bed with Quinn waiting for him to fall asleep and the boulder that he calls his head came crashing down on my nose. Twenty-four hours later and I still have a headache.)

The purging seemed to make everyone feel better, though, so we soldiered on. Soon enough everyone was happily watching Peter Pan on our minivan DVD player (I know, embarassing) while Quinn jabbered happily away (Alex: “I can’t wait until he grows the little creature in his head that tells him to shut up.”) and Alex slowly got more and more upset at the traffic.

And when we finally got there, Sam’s understanding of family became clear when, in rapid succession, he asked Alex about his friend: “Does he have kids? Does he have babies? Does he have a grown-up girl?” (No, no, and yes.)

We had a great time. It was a little nervewracking to be in a nice, mostly white house with our three little monsters, but our hosts were very wonderful and accomodating. They even had hot dogs, chips, and ice cream ready for dinner. They may not have kids, but they clearly understood kids.

The beach was fantastic. It was thundering at first, so the guys got to explore the boardwalk and go on some kiddie rides and win some funny stuffed animals. Then we went to the beach where, by some miracle, all three of them had a delightful time. Even Quinn, He-Who-Fears-the-Baby-Pool, happily launched himself into the ocean. And Sunday we took them to a pool where they happily cavorted until we forced them to leave.

Vomiting, head-butting, and rain, but a fantastic time!


We had just gotten home from dinner tonight and I was already thinking about the post I was going to write about how Chuck E. Cheese is the 10th circle of hell when Jack sprayed himself in the face with mosquito repellent.

He’s okay. Apparently a 5% DEET content in young eyes isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the back of the bottle said to flush his eyes out and then call poison control. Fortunately I had the number posted on my fridge. Oh wait, someone took that down. Well, it had a lot of twos, I’ll just try dialing all twos. Nope, not that either. Oooh, the internet is my friend. Except the computer isn’t on. Okay, I’ll look it up on the first page of the phone book. Great, except then I dialed the number wrong. Fine then, I’ll look it up again. Fucking finally.

All this, of course, while Jack is screaming at the top of his lungs&#8212NOT because of the DEET, but because of the fact that Alex is holding him down to flush his eye out. Barb, the nice lady at poison control, told me to flush his eye for 5 to 7 minutes then keep an eye (ha, ha) on him to see if it was bothering him, in which case we should contact our doctor.

So then I take a turn with the flushing. And all Jack can do (other than fight with every inch of his surprisingly strong little body) is yell over and over, “Water makes me sad! Water makes me sad!” With a “My eye is all better!” thrown in every once in a while for good measure. Are you aware of how long 5 to 7 minutes is? We got maybe 3 or 4 done.

Thankfully, we weren’t woefully unprepared for a real poison emergency, but I did learn something about not being able to remember emergency phone numbers when you need them.

FYI, the number for poison control is 1-800-222-1222. Maybe put it on your refrigerator. With some sort of adhesive.

Tips on Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Some background: We have three kids (messy), a dog (tracks mud into the house), and two cats (puke a lot). And we moved into a house with off-white carpet three and a half years ago. And for the past, say, three years, that carpet has looked really, really bad. And since we are fortunate enough to have hardwood floors under at least part of that carpet, it seemed like a good idea to take the carpet up. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

After I talked Alex into doing this, we discovered that whoever had put down the carpet had either painted carelessly because they knew they were going to put down a carpet, or they had put down a carpet because the floor was covered in white paint splotches. Oops. Sorry, Alex. Maybe your reluctance to pull up the carpet was well-founded. That picture below doesn’t show the paint in all its glory.

Consequently we (and by “we,” I mean “Alex”) decided to refinish the floors by ourselves (himself). Bad idea? You might think so, but you’d be wrong.

That said, onward to the tips:

Tip #1: Have my husband do it for you. I was skeptical. I kinda thought we may not want to do it ourselves. In fact, I kinda thought that if we threw an area rug over the middle of the floor and tried to clean up the edges a little, we’d be okay. Because although Alex has successfully done things like paint rooms and install toilets and garbage disposals, I was a little nervous about this project. I had visions of our new air conditioner breaking when sawdust choked the vents. I had visions of deep divots in our floor. I had visions of me dusting bits of the floor out of the rest of the house for the next year of my life. But Alex, in an apparent bid to live down a careless “No, my husband’s not handy” that I said to a neighbor three years ago, stepped up. And you know what? My husband’s handy.

Tip #2: Ignore the nay-sayers. You really can do it. We went to a party the day the sanding was to start, and nearly everyone there seemed to think it was a bad idea. People I think of as extremely handy said things like: “Yeah, that’s one thing I’ll happily pay someone else to do.” Ha, ha! Go to hell, nay-sayers!

Tip #3: Update your electrical system before you start sanding. After taping plastic sheeting over every door, vent, and unused electrical outlet, Alex rented a sander and went at it. And then the fuse blew. So he flipped it. And then it blew again. And then he flipped it. Again and again and again. And at one point the room I was in suddenly went temporarily black. I heard some pretty choice curse words come out of that living room, I have to say. But that only lasted for…four…maybe five hours. Okay, maybe seven.

Tip #4: If you have three kids, don’t start sanding at 7:30 at night. I hesitate to even say this because it was really nice of Alex to wait until after the little dudes’ bedtime to start work. He could easily have said it was my fault he had to do it in the first place and left me with three kids all weekend while he sequestered himself in the living room. But he didn’t. And the kids did fine with the sanding. For the most part. Quinn did wake up screaming at 2 a.m. And wouldn’t go back to sleep. So Alex brought him to our bedroom and dumped him in the bed next to me. And then Quinn proceeded to chat to me non-stop for the next hour and fifteen minutes until Alex finished sanding and took him back to his crib. (“Where’s Daddy? Daddy downstairs. Where’s Cassidy? Cassidy barking. Cassidy funny. Where’s Jack? Where’s Sam? Where’s Mommy? Hee, hee, hee. Where’s Daddy? Cassidy barking…”)

Tip #5: Even if you don’t want little kitty prints all through your polyurethane, don’t lock your cat in your bedroom all night without a litterbox. Especially don’t do this if said cat sleeps on your wife’s pillows. Your wife might, just might, wake up to a couple of destroyed pillows and a pee-puddle on her mattress where her head usually lives. She also might wake up smelling like cat pee, requiring a thorough showering, even though she already took a shower the night before. This might happen. And it might be even grosser than giving Quinn a suppository.

Oooh, shiny!

Bits & Pieces

Sam: “America is the one that holds all the battles.”

Me: “That’s very astute of you, Sam.”


Yesterday, Quinn thanked me for changing his diaper. (Somehow he’s absorbed all the manners lessons my other kids have ignored.) And then, even though he hadn’t, he said, “I pooped! Good job, Quinn!”


Harry Potter mania is everywhere in my house. Sam, seemingly picking up on the wizardry in the air, started asking about Harry Potter last week. And I can’t remember ever mentioning it to him before. He asked a lot of questions (“Are there battles? Between the witches and wizards? Are there bad guys?”), thought about it overnight, and decided he was interested in joining the phenomenon. I’ve started reading him a chapter or two a day, starting with The Sorcerer’s Stone. Today Quinn saw the book and started chanting, “Harry Potter! Harry Potter!” Seriously. He’s two.


My Walk Score is 60. What’s yours? Although this website listed Orange Julius as a bar, so its information may not be that reliable. Thanks, Unclutterer.


Quinn is very into time outs. He put himself in one this morning; I’m not sure for what. Then when I put Sam in time out for repeatedly whacking at Quinn with a foam item, Quinn joined him. (I know, I’m always blaming the victim.) And, then, when I meant to playfully fling Quinn around and instead bonked him on the nose, making him cry (Worst. Mommy. Ever.), he said, “Mean. Time Out.” So I went and sat on the steps. Yep, that’s right, my two-year-old put me in time out today.


Quinn is badly losing the “Labels Race” to Sam and Jack. But he’s kicking the shit out of Alex.

EDITED to add: After Alex read this he said, “Yeah, I noticed the Labels Race too. For a while I was tied with poop, but I’ve moved up, so I’m feeling good about that.”


So I did my extra surveillance at pick-up time from gymnastics camp today. My verdict? Gymnastics camp rules!

When I got there, the kids were going through a circular obstacle course that involved jumping, climbing, hopscotching (is that a verb?), and walking across a balance beam. And Jack was right in the middle of the kids, doing all the stuff. And then when they moved them to another activity, Jack tried to stay behind to keep playing. When the teacher’s aide came back to get him, he resisted, fervently flapping his hands.

Now, that’s the Jack I know and love. It made me happy to see the flapping because it means he was doing something he liked, that he was enjoying himself, and that he wanted to keep doing it.

And then, when they got to their new activity (Duck, Duck, Goose), Jack and Sam both saw me, ran over to me to say hi, and then RAN BACK TO KEEP PLAYING. I don’t know if Jack has ever seen me at a pick-up time and not insisted on staying with me. AND he played Duck, Duck, Goose correctly. He waited until he was tagged, went around, tagged Sam, and then ran around the circle giggling ’til he got back to his spot and HE SAT DOWN. Again, unprecedented.

I smiled for the rest of the day.

Oh, and we struck a deal on the popsicles. They got one today and they get one Friday. Seems like a good compromise.

WhyMommy in Stimeyland!

Many of you know WhyMommy. If you don’t, go ahead and click on the “Team WhyMommy” button over there on the right. She is a very cool chick; is a lot of fun to hang out with; has two small children, a husband, and a dog; and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As if she weren’t doing enough already, she has embarked on a public awareness campaign about her particular type of cancer: inflammatory breast cancer. She has written the post below and invited us all to steal and re-post it. Done and done. (Feel free to do the same from here.)

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

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