Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Anticipation

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

I work at home part time and am working on starting up a videography business. And I am also a full-time stay at home mom. So what this means is that I generally put my kids to bed at 7:30 and then go to work until midnight or sometimes later.

Of course, the parenting butts in several times nightly in the form of Jack or Sam wandering in from their bedroom with various requests:

Sam: "I need some water."

Jack: "I want to snuggle."

Sam: "Can I watch baseball with you?" Thank God that's over.

Jack: "I need [insert M&Ms, or whatever snack Alex and I sneak at night]."

Jack: "I need my blanket." Note: It's usually in plain sight on his bed.

Jack: "Help me button my shirt. No, no, all the way to the top." That must be comfortable to sleep in.

Sam: "Jack is writing on himself with a marker."

Sam: "Jack is writing on the wall with a marker."

Sam: "Jack is writing on me with a marker."

Jack: "I have a little cut."

Jack: "I want a band aid for my boo boo."

Jack: "Kiss my boo boo."

Each of these is, of course, separated by a five or so minute rest in their bedroom.

But that's not the point of my post. My point was that I just finished a giant videography project that has been plaguing me I have been working on since June, so I was going to take a night off and go to bed at, like, 9.

But my part-time job has an aspect wherein I get emails that I have to deal with in 24 hours. Generally I get fewer, sometimes considerably fewer, than ten of these a night, and it doesn't take me that long to deal with them. After I deal with those, I deal with the bigger projects I have. This evening I was planning on ignoring those larger projects, but, as I opened up my email account to start my quick work session before bed, I was confronted with an inbox full of three pages of these emails.

Long story short, it's 11:15. So much for my night of rest. Maybe I'll take Halloween off.

I'm a-goin' to bed.

Monday, October 29, 2007


You know what takes a long time?

Trying to shop with this:

This being a toddler who is struggling to carry a basket that is nearly as big as he is, and who insists on stopping to ooh and aah over every item he sees on a shelf.

And then, when you're trying to figure out which item to buy, said toddler puts everything he can find into the basket whilst saying, "Maybe this?" and "I want to buy this."

Of course he was choosing things that are valuable to every two-year-old. Things like USB cables and external hard drives. Because why wouldn't he want some obscure gadget packaged in a bright blue box?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Sam is a wonderful child. Sam is a willful child. Sam's will is not always the most peaceful or disciplined will.

Therefore, I'm going to teach him to fight.

Well, sort of. We're thinking of enrolling him in a karate program, not only for the exercise, but also for the philosophy of restraint, discipline, blah, blah, blah. (I'm such a good example.)

With this in mind, we headed over to Buddy Day at a friend's karate studio. At first Sam was really excited. And then, when he found out he didn't have a uniform, he was really bummed out and didn't want to go. And then, when I laid down the law and told him we were going no matter what, he caved and started asking lots (and lots and lots) of questions. And although the real answer to almost all of these questions was, "I don't know," I made up plausible replies for most of them.

The karate studio was really cool. Our buddy wasn't there when we got there, so we were just hanging out when Master L came by to introduce himself. He was incredibly nice. In fact, everyone there was. I'm not sure what I expected, but every employee that spoke to Sam asked him if he was ready to have fun. Not if he was ready to learn. Not if he thought karate was cool. Not if he wanted to know some cool moves. But if he wanted to have fun.

I totally approve.

The class itself was really fast-paced and fun. Sam was able to follow along with everything, and the teacher remembered his name after hearing it once. In a class of 19.

After class he watched a bigger kid class for the longest time. He was absolutely fascinated. He had more questions. Chief among them: When do I get my white belt?

I think I'm going to have to sell one of my children in order to be able to afford to enroll Sam. But it might be worth it. He's in love.

Watching the class, I couldn't help but think that it might be really good for Jack. They have classes for younger kids, and I'm thinking that it might give him a really positive way to learn to follow directions. I talked to Master L about it and he told me that they're a little easier on the younger class because they're, you know, three. And four.

And when I told him that Jack had some developmental delays so I wasn't sure that he'd be able to hack it in the class, Master L didn't even blink. He just told me that they treat everyone the same and that we were welcome to bring him in to let him try it out. Now I don't just want to sign Jack up, I want to marry Master L.

Of course if I did sign Jack up, I would not only have to sell Quinn, but we'd have to have another kid and sell him too. Karate ain't cheap.

And Sam? The first thing he did upon coming home was try to beat the shit out of Alex, but the next thing he did was a fancy move he'd picked up by watching the older kid class.

Anybody want to buy a 2-year-old?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Remember My Name

My Sam has made the Principal's Wall of Fame at his school. That means he has "met the 90% average in reading and math." But what it really means is that he gets his picture posted on the wall outside the principal's office and he gets to go to a pizza party. Which was today.

But first, the photo:

I know he's my son and all, but is that the silliest picture of a human being you've ever seen? Although come to think of it, his expression is probably the same one I exhibit on certain occasions.

I was glad that I wasn't the only nerdlinger parent there taking pictures of a picture. One family of super nerds took video of the picture. (Dammit! I forgot my video camera!)

Before the pizza party, there is a little ceremony where each child's name is called and they get to walk up and shake the principal's hand and get a certificate and a medal. We apparently have a Super Principal. Here are two reasons why I think so:

1) Until this year, she paid for the Wall of Fame out of her own pocket every month. And at the end of the year she bought a $100 savings bond for one child from each grade who had been on the Wall of Fame every month.

2) And maybe more impressively, she has the power to silence a room of 1st-5th graders with two fingers. She made the gesture in the picture to the left without saying a word. In case you can't tell, she is lifting two fingers of one hand over her head.

When she does that, the entire room goes silent in about 7 seconds. And all the kids make the same gesture. Sort of eerie, but impressive nonetheless.

I get the impression that she doesn't take a lot of shit from the students.

Each family brought a pizza for the attendees to eat, and the school provided pizza for the kids. After the ceremony, everyone ate pizza and the PTA served think&#8212I think it was...lemonade? It was so bad that the five-year-old I was babysitting and had dragged along wouldn't drink it. It's gotta be pretty bad for a little kid to refuse juice.

Me? I was holding my juice and the 5-year-old's juice in the same hand and tried to drink out of one, forgetting that I was holding the other. Yep. Juice cascaded down my shirt, bounced off a chair, and covered the floor. I'm awesome. I bet if you were my child, that you would really want me to come to your school and embarrass you in front of your friends and their parents.

Totally. Awesome.

When we got home, I took a photo of Sam with his award. This is the pose he wanted to use:

This is the pose, I eventually got him to use:

In retrospect I think I like his pose better. And you see how he still managed to be insolent in the last photo by sticking his tongue through his missing-tooth hole?

And although I see how it would be easy to let it happen, please shoot me if you ever see me with a "My Kid is on the Honor Roll at..." bumper sticker on my car.

DCMM: This Just In: Breast Cancer Without a Lump

If you are a blog surfer (and since you are here, I am going to assume you are), you have probably seen the button to the left on some of the blogs you visit. You may know what it means, you may not.

WhyMommy is one of the contributors to this blog (you can find her here way down under Sam) and an incredibly brave woman who is fighting a rare form of breast cancer known as IBC or Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Instead of crawling into her bed and not coming out after getting her diagnosis, WhyMommy has instead not only blogged courageously at Toddler Planet, providing information for those that may follow after her, but she has begun a publicity campaign to tell women about IBC.

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

This is what she wants you to know. And this is what she is telling the world. She has been featured on hundreds of blogs, in Parents magazine and their Goody Blog, and most recently FOX News in DC did a substantial piece on her battle for IBC education. You can see it here. It is well worth it. Go watch. I'll wait.

Perfect, thank you.

Now you know that IBC often presents as mastitis. You know that pain, itching, or heaviness in one breast is a sign of IBC. You know that if your breast is red, hot, or swollen, you should get checked. You know that dimpling of the skin or any change in one breast can mean IBC. You know that breastfeeding moms can get IBC. You know that if your child stops nursing on one side only, you should be aware that something could be wrong.

You know that if your doctor doesn't bring it up, you should. Because not all doctors have seen it, so not all doctors will diagnose it. If you have been diagnosed with mastitis and one round of antibiotics doesn't work, then get checked out.

Because time matters with this aggressive disease.

You may have these symptoms and not have cancer. But I don't think anyone would regret being too careful. I don't think anyone would regret getting the biopsy and hearing: "Not cancerous." But a woman would regret ignoring her suspicions and catching IBC too late.

As WhyMommy said in her interview, "I had never heard of [IBC]. And I want you to hear about it."

If you watched the clip, you also know how beautiful and articulate she is. And how damn adorable her kids are. WhyMommy is my friend. I knew her before she had cancer and I have always thought her to be an amazing person. The way she has dealt with this horrible, shocking slap in the face has been nothing short of inspiring. I'm sure she has her dark moments. Who wouldn't? But even now she is incredibly vibrant and beautiful. She remains a fully involved parent to her children. She has a light inside her.

Her children are friendly, oh-so-cute boys. They are happy. They are well-behaved. They are sweet. I think she would tell you the same thing. It is a testament to her that she has managed to continue to parent in the same thoughtful manner she did before.

WhyMommy is a lot of things: an advocate, a woman, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a scientist, a blogger, a woman with cancer. And so much more. Most of all, I think she is a fighter. And that fight in her will help her in every one of those facets of her being.

That fight is helping to save lives—not just her own, but the many she is educating to get fast help when they need it.

Visit WhyMommy at Toddler Planet. Please read her post about IBC. To join Team WhyMommy, please visit Canape.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What's the Trick You're Going To Do?

At Jack's preschool, there is a once weekly class called mini-movers. They go and sing and stretch and play large muscle games. It's really fun. The teacher plays a game sometimes called "Spooky Doo." She says, "Hey there, [insert child's name here] Spooky Doo, what's the trick you're going to do?" Then the child does something funny like crossing their eyes or stomping their feet, or some other silly thing, then she moves on to the next child.

Today I was co-oping, so I got to witness this first hand:

Teacher: Hey there, Jack Spooky Doo, what's the trick you're going to do?

Jack: {burp}

I was so proud.

That's right, Jack has learned to burp on demand and he really enjoys it. Some days he'll sit on the couch and just burp over and over.

He does know that he should say excuse me, and sometimes he actually does. So then it's: {burp}, "excuse me," {burp}, "excuse me," {burp}, "excuse me," and so on.

I should point out here that burping is one of the things that really grosses me out. Not if it's an occassional well-earned, I-just-drank-a-can-of-soda-and-now-I-have-to-depressurize sort of way, but small, needless burps give me the willies.

One morning last week Jack crawled into bed with me early in the morning and slept with me for awhile. Then at some point he started burping. Over and over. And over. And then a little more. I kept telling him that he needed to stop. Then I told him if he didn't stop he had to get out of bed. Then I started counting every time he burped and told him that when I got to three he would be forcibly ejected from my bed.

About two minutes later when I'd booted him and he was laying on the floor at the foot of the bed, I was finally satisfied.

A note here: I have a husband and three male children. Those three children will eventually be teenagers. I feel like this is the gentle beginning to a horrendous life of on-demand burping that will eventually end in my stay at an insane asylum. As a mom to three boys I fear that I will be destined to a life of enduring grossness.

Laugh if you will, but karma will come to get you too. Especially those of you surrounded by small, gross children.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Baby, I'm a Star!

Kelley at Magneto Bold Too! awarded me this lovely button and told me that I rock.

I love Kelley. And not just because she seems to swear as much as I do.

This award was originally created over at Skittles' Place (mmm...Skittles. My favorites are the red ones.) "...for bloggers who shine their light throughout the Blogosphere. Some do it with humor, others with creativity, and others with their kind and thoughtful natures. We all know more than a few of them so why not give them some recognition?"

Fantastic! Who even knew I had light?

Awards make me nervous (I'm a weirdo, I know that) because I get all stressed over whom to pass them on to. The first time I got one, I passed it on to no less than 22 people.

I think I'll go with the blogs I go to if I know I need to laugh: Anne Nahm, Oh, the Joys, and Sarah and the Goon Squad.

Now I'm going to go take my social anxiety meds.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gourds and Squashes and Pumpkins, Oh My!

We got fancy this year.

Instead of buying our pumpkins the boring old (cheap) way by buying them at the neighborhood Giant (which is what Stimey does), we bought them the super-fun (Alex-style) way by going to a pumpkin stand.

And thank God, because this photo would have been WAY less cute if I'd taken it by the bin in front of the grocery store:

The cool thing about this pumpkin stand was that they not only had pumpkins, but they had gourds of many, many varieties. It was tempting to buy one of the grotesque versions to carve. Take a look at some of the many gourds and squashes that live in this world. If you're like me, you had no idea so many existed. There were even more that didn't make it into my photo.

My personal favorite was the one an employee had cut up and was in the process of cooking. You can bet your ass I didn't bother to taste it:

But how cool would that look with a face carved into it and wearing, say, a witch's hat?

While I was busy photographing gourds, Jack was busy playing "Five Little Pumpkins." Now, I don't know if you're familiar with this poem, but at the end, "Five little pumpkins rolled out of sight." Which is what Jack spent some unsupervised time doing. As far as I can tell, he was only able to roll three of them away. Here he is acting out the story:

And because we have kids mostly so they can perform physical tasks for us, here is Sam escorting the pumpkins to our car:

Meanwhile, Quinn, who was nearly dwarfed by some of the pumpkins, was busy celebrating the 12 Days of Halloween by refusing to take off the Wonder Pets cape we got him for his costume. Although he refused to wear any other part of his costume, he literally hasn't taken this cape off since I gave it to him on Friday. (We make him take it off to sleep. And to swim.)

We'll be a-carving next week. Except for the holes in our pumpkins' faces, we're all set for Halloween!

Very Suspicious

I had to work this afternoon, so Alex, Sam, Jack, and Quinn went swimming. These were the first three sentences out of Quinn's mouth upon his return:

"I went swimming."


"I went underwater."

Longer pause.

"Daddy saved me."

Well, thank God for that.

DCMM: O, Suburbia!

I live in the Maryland suburbs. My husband works in DC. Virginia is like another planet to us.

I take that back. Another planet would be easier to get to and from than Virginia.

We had to travel there for a party last night, and let me tell you, once MapQuest screwed us, it was all over.

We got off the highway on Fairfax Drive in Arlington and saw that same exit three times before we decided to try to call our hosts.

"But I don't have the phone number," said my husband, who, incidentally, was never a boy scout. Once informed that I had brought the number (it's not that I don't trust him to get us to our destination, let's just say we've had need for lifelines a time or two), he bemoaned the fact that we didn't have a phone.

Jean to the rescue again.

After we called the party-givers, he pulled an illegal three-point turn directly in front of the entrance to the police station and we were on our way. It turns out that we weren't far away from the party, as our quest for parking brought us back to the very location from which we had made our call.

See, this is one reason I like Maryland's suburbia: parking. Yeah, I know there are better things to do with land than build parking lots and parking structures, but when I'm trying to drag three small children to a grown-up party that starts at their bedtime (oh, didn't I mention that?), I want to be able to park my car closer than six blocks away.

We finally made it to the party and had a nice time while we were there. Our children pretended to be cats and dogs for most of it. All the other adults were suitably amused by their hijinks.

We left the party and navigated the most terrifyingly dangerous onramp I've ever seen to get back on the highway. My husband seemed to know where he was going. Oh, wait, we're going the wrong way on the George Washington Parkway? No problem, we'll just make this turn into Arlington National Cemetery, get back on this other highway, and...wait a minute, isn't that the Fairfax Drive exit again?

If you're counting, this is at least the third time we made a giant circle. Make that four. We passed the police station again in getting back to the highway. Somehow we missed the Parkway again via Arlington and ended up driving through DC to get home. Thank God my husband knew where he was going because I would have had to give up and drive according to the compass on my dashboard.

I hate driving in DC. The lanes are narrow, there are lots of pedestrians, and there are sudden turn-only lanes and one-way streets. I hate even more being a passenger in DC. My husband, who is actually a very good driver, does a lot of speeding up and slowing down and lurching this way and that. At least this is what it feels like happens. I don't know for sure because I'm usually slumped down in my seat with my hands over my eyes.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I am a homebody.

We finally arrived home safe and sound and put our three sleeping boys in their beds. Traveling to the great, mysterious land of Virginia had tired them out.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just When You're Ready to Kill Them...

...they do something like this:

I was walking past Jack's room the other night and he was lying flat on his floor, clearly about two minutes from sleep. (Yeah, he sleeps on the floor a lot. And the living room couch. And the living room floor. And anywhere but his bed.)

When he saw me, he didn't move, but his face brightened and he said, "You're my best friend."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Unhappy Homemaker

I have lost all interest in being a homemaker.

That is, if I ever had any interest to begin with.

As I type, I am preparing frozen pizza for my children for the second time this week. Granted, it is one of the few dinners that all three of them will eat. It is not unusual for all three children to burst into tears when they come to the dinner table and see the food I have lovingly prepared for them. It's a real morale booster. At least with the pizza I know they won't go to bed hungry. I mean, really, I'm not sure how they can stand to never eat dinner. I'd be starving all night.

So, yeah, I don't seem to cook anymore.

And cleaning? I clean if I know someone is coming over. Wait, change that: I clean if I know someone I don't know well is coming over. You folks that are here regularly and that I used to clean for? Yeah, I'm done with that. You're welcome to see the furballs in my living room and the food crumbs on my kitchen floor.

There was one particularly egregious incident last week when there was a one-year-old baby eating off of my tablecloth. Based on the number of crumbs on it, it probably looked dirtier than the floor. (Her mom comes over a lot, so I didn't clean in advance.) Embarrassed, I pulled the tablecloth off only to be confronted by the bottom-of-the-tablecloth fuzz that was adhered to the table by some unknown sticky substance.

I already do such a poor job at laundry that my husband started his own laundry system. He does all of it now. Perhaps if I just let it all go a little more, he'll develop more of his "systems" for other chores too.

My kids are not on a nightly bath schedule anymore. Not by a long shot. I do manage to get their teeth brushed at least. Although I'm not sure why, seeing as how they don't eat.

Wait, I just thought of a positive: The iRobot people sent me a new Scooba to replace my broke-ass one so at least I can clean my floors again without having to mop. Although all that moving of chairs and pushing the button to turn it on sure seems like a lot of work.

Now that my kids are in school, I have more time to clean, cook, work, nap (!!!) than I have had in six years. But I've lost my homemaker mojo. I'm not entirely convinced that I want it back, but I feel that it's important, if only to keep social services at bay, to at least keep up appearances.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Diagnosis Ho!

I took Jack to his developmental pediatrician today and it sounds like she agrees with me that Jack is autistic. Thank God people are finally validating what I know.

I want a diagnosis so he can continue to get services and also to provide some order to the chaos that is a vague "developmental delay."

She gave me a bunch of homework and research to do about various things, and it will probably take some months to get it done, but we're on our way.

And I'm glad.

Six years ago I would never have been able to imagine writing those words.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

If you are interested in hearing about Halloween costume hell, feel free to check me out over at DC Metro Moms.

You can read the story of how my first attempt to get a Halloween costume for Quinn failed miserably. Since the time of that post, Quinn has declared that he wants to be Ming Ming from The Wonder Pets. So I've cobbled something together, and with Jack as Tuck the Turtle, I now have two out of three Wonder Pets covered.

What do you think the odds are of me getting Sam to agree to wear a giant guinea pig costume and a blue cape?

DCMM: What to Be, What to Be?

When my husband and children were paying for some groceries at Trader Joe's the other day, the cashier made sure to ask if they celebrated Halloween before she offered them some stickers with ghosts and haunted houses on them. Why yes, they celebrate Halloween. And the more stickers, the better!

The reason for the cashier's slight caution was, she explained, that a week earlier she had offered some Halloween stickers to a non Halloween-celebrating family and had gotten chewed out for it. "We don't want your Satan stickers," the daughter had told the cashier.

I guess Halloween is here.

On Saturday I realized that my kids have a Halloween party on the 19th. Oh, crap. I thought I had weeks to get their costumes ready. Turns out I have only a few days. Think, Jean. Think. Oh, and I'll mention right here that I'm not a sewer, nor am I super creative or frugal when it comes to constructing costumes. I buy mine because it costs me far more to make them.

Okay, my six-year-old: When I had asked him what he wanted to be this year he told me he would be a dragon. Which was what he was last year. I was excited because I loved that costume, and now I wouldn't have to buy/make a new one. I did ask why he didn't want to be Superman, like I thought he did.

"Because I don't have a costume for it," he said.

Oh, bless his little consumerist heart. My little dude who asks to buy everything under the blue sky hadn't considered that I might buy him a new costume. Once I made the mistake of telling him that I just might be conviced to do so, he was all about Superman, and nothing could deter him. Of course, none of the regular places sell Superman costumes for kids.

(What the hell, Target?! He's only like the most important superhero. Except for Batman. And Spiderman. And Wonder Woman. And...oh, shut up.)
Anyway, the costume wasn't at Target or Kids R Us. You have to go to a specialized costume store to get it. Or at least I did. Hopefully it fits him, because there's a no-return policy.

The four-year-old that you see in that photo there at the top: He was Tuck the Turtle from The Wonder Pets last year. And guess what? He wants to be Tuck the Turtle again. Rock on. Problem solved. Move on to...

The highly irritating, opinionated, and stubborn two-year-old: If he had the wherewithal to say, "I don't want your Satan costume," he would. Because he is NOT COOL with dressing up. See, he loves puppies, so when I saw the adorable puppy costume at Target, I bought it for him immediately. Fortunately Target does have a return policy. Because it's damn near impossible to stuff a squirmy toddler into a puppy costume.

He wouldn't even let me bribe him into the damn thing. You know you're an awesome parent when you hear yourself say, "I'll give you some candy if you let me put this dog outfit on you." And then you force the dog outfit onto your crying child, who is screaming, "Take it off! Take it off!" So realizing that if he didn't hate the puppy costume before, he sure does now, you pull it off of him, give him three chocolate chips, and then go look for your Target receipt. That's how you know you're a great parent. When you do that.

Now that we've ruled out puppy, little man, what DO you want to be for Halloween? Answer: "Not a puppy."

Great. That's very helpful.

Me? I'm going as a cranky mom of three.

Be sure to check over at Stimeyland for post-Halloween photos of Superman, Tuck, and a crying 2-year-old.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bad mom! Bad!

Jack got brain freeze for the first time today.

I'm going to hell for laughing at my kids.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Study in Contrasts

So it's 11:15 p.m. and I'm at my desk at home working away on the mundane little job I do at night. And the phone rings. At 11:15 at night.

Who would possibly be calling me?

Well, my friend L went to New York today for a one-night trip. Her friend's husband had given her friend tickets to The Martha Stewart Show, and invited L to go with her. So I assumed that she would probably be the only person calling me in what qualifies as the middle of the night in suburbia.

Seconds later L asks me if I watch The Sopranos. I assumed that she had taken some tour of TVdom or something, but no. Next thing I know, I'm on the phone with Furio.

So, to recap:

Me=Sitting at home typing away at my computer.

L=Hobnobbing with the stars and doing shots of some fancy drink involving lemons.

L says she's never coming home.

I asked her to send for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sugar, Archery, and Vomit: Happy Birthday, Sam!

Many apologies for the length of this post. If you are not related to me, I fully expect you to scan the photos and then wait for my next post. My mom, my mother-in-law, and my sister, however, are required to read the whole thing. There will be a quiz.

Somehow, while I was busy aging, Sam did too. My little dude, who was born, like, a week ago, turned six years old yesterday. That's big-kid age. He's not a baby, he's not a toddler, he's not even a pre-schooler. He's six.

Good God.

My total astonishment that I could somehow have a six-year-old aside, I was super pleased to discover that his birthday fell on a Saturday this year. What that means is that instead of dragging it out over a week of parties and actual birthdays, his celebration was contained in one day.

One incredibly exhausting day, but one day nonetheless.

Pancakes at IHOP started our day. Then it was back to our house to prepare for Sam's party.

This party took the shape it did largely because Alex and I looked up from our daily lives a couple weeks ago and realized it was already October and that Sam was fully expecting a party. Okay, I guess we'll have it at our house. We can't count on good weather, so we'll do it inside. We don't know any of the kids or families from kindergarten, so we'll invite old buddies from preschool. We can't think of a single damn thing for a theme, so we'll send out invites that look like recipe cards and call it a cooking party. We don't want to actually have to cook pizzas that the kids make, so we'll have them decorate cupcakes and make sundaes.

We have ourselves a party!

I would like to take this moment to pat myself on the back for actually honest-to-God baking for this party. I'm the queen of the store-bought cake, and am actually thrilled that when you send cupcakes to school they have to be from the store. But I needed bald cupcakes for the kids to decorate. I'm such a non-baker that I actually considered ordering naked cakes. Then I came to my senses. And I baked. And not only did I bake, but I baked heart-shaped cupcakes:

Can't you just feel the love oozing out of those little delicacies?

We were all set up and kids started to arrive. With my three and a couple of extra little siblings, we had an even dozen kids. NOT a baker's dozen, because I'm not a baker. (Oh, I crack myself up.) They played for awhile and then I pulled out the potholders and fabric paints I had ready for the kids to paint.

Whose dumb idea was it to give 12 kids aged two to six fabric paints inside my house? Oh, that's right. Me.

No, it actually went really well, except that some of them finished painting their potholders in about five minutes flat so I had to give them the aprons I hadn't planned to let them paint on. I had intended to let them wear them during the cake and sundae part of the party, but this seemed to be a better use for them. They made some beautiful creations: spiders and butterflies, abstract designs, their names. One kid informed me that the red lines radiating down his apron were blood because it was a Halloween apron. Jack decorated his potholder and then folded it in half, making an incredible mirror image. The only thing is that some of those potholders and aprons aren't going to dry for about a week because of the pools of paint on them. But they'll be cute when they finally do solidify.

More playing, some pizza. Then the main event: I presented the cupcakes and we sang happy birthday and then I brought out the stuff: sprinkles, frosting, ice cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, blue and green sugar crystals, cherries, sprinkles. Sprinkles.

Oh, and Reddi-Wip.

Here's an idea for a party. Don't do anything except give each child a can of Reddi-Wip. These 12 kids went through an entire two cans of this stuff. Watching these small people discover how to work the cans and seeing them delight in it piling up on their plates and in their bowls is perhaps the most entertaining thing I've seen this year. Go out right now, but a can of Reddi-Wip and give it to your child. You won't be disappointed.

Anyway, back to the story. The kids sat and happily crammed sugar into themselves for a half hour while the grown-ups that were there watched with mouths agape. Then I had 12 kids running manically up and down my stairs, in and out of rooms, up and off of all our play equipment. Oh, they were hepped up. And they moved in a pack too. I was in the basement with a friend, while Alex was upstairs with a few other parents. There would be a flurry of craziness when the herd of kids swooped in and then silence after they stampeded back upstairs.

Needless to say, after the party we had some mandatory quiet time while Quinn took a nap. We let Sam open his presents after Quinn woke up. He was delighted with everything. (Sam was, not Quinn. Quinn was decidedly surly. More on this later.) I continued in my tradition of buying gifts for my children that I would regret giving them ten minutes after they unwrapped them. (See: the three plastic swords I got Jack for his birthday.) I'm not regretting the blunt-arrow archery set I got Sam yet, but I fear that I might regret it at some point in the near future. Sam and Jack, however, were ecstatic.

While Alex was outside teaching them to [gulp] shoot, Quinn continued to get surlier. I laid him down on the couch and put a blanket over him only to have him throw up all over it minutes later. Who's the saddest?

He threw up a few more times and was lethargic all afternoon leading me to believe that he might be really sick. But by dinner he was all better and wanted to eat dinner (and after-dinner cake), leading me to believe that maybe he just ate himself sick at the party. Maybe two-year-olds aren't meant to be given unlimited access to sugar. Hmmmm.

And because I'm a firm believer in (store-bought) cakes after birthday dinner, I'd gotten Sam a super cool Darth Vader cake from the store. Maybe this is why I've got those extra pounds to lose. Perhaps I should have been content with the pancakes and the cupcakes and the ice cream. I don't think they ate a single healthy thing today. It was shocking, even for the Stimey household.

But look how happy that cake made him:

And when Alex asked, "How much do you think George Lucas gets per cake?" Sam answered, "Delicious!"

Happy birthday, my big boy. You're a special little big dude.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thank You, My Silver Linings

I want to give all of you that commented on my last post a giant hug. It is phenomenal to me that there are all these nice people that care about how Sam is doing at school. It blows my tiny little mind.

Thank you for your encouragement and advice. Thank you for your own stories from your childhood, and from your children's lives. I will be trying the strategies you have suggested.Thank you for your offers of more email help. I WILL be taking you up on it, you better believe that. You can find my email address in the sidebar if you get impatient waiting for me to get in touch with you. (This weekend is going to be hectic, what with my big six (!) year old's birthday party and whatnot.) But I will get in touch with you who offered.

Cupcake day went well. Mostly. He was so distracted by The Great Shoe Fiasco of Aught-Seven to worry about taking the treats in. See, his regular sneakers were in the wash and his other sneakers are slightly too big and hard to run in. And today was PE day, so he's supposed to wear sneakers. There was much sobbing and anxiety about that. (And much almost-lateness to school, which caused ME much anxiety.) So at least that eliminated most of the Cupcake Stress.

He got off the bus this afternoon waving a paper crown that read "Happy Birthday!" He said everyone liked the cupcakes. He said his teacher told him to go to the bathroom this afternoon, but he's not sure why she told him to do that. (The note worked!)

So I'll keep you posted. And again, Thank. You. You have been a silver lining.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Poor Sam.

My little boy seems to be plagued by anxiety about kindergarten.

By all appearances he really likes school. He's learning to write lowercase letters and practices by writing lists of words. This morning he asked me to write him a list of 12 words so he could copy them into his notebook. He loves going to PE and the library. He proudly shows me when he earns stickers for being good in music and art. He is so pleased when I ooh and aah over his homework. He is excited when he tells me about the things he's learning. He glows when he tells me that the clothespin with his name on it is always on green on the construction paper traffic light in his classroom that indicates the students' classroom behavior. He tells me that he's the best in his class.

But he worries.

On Thursdays, when he goes to the library, he checks and double checks that his library book is in his backpack to be returned.

Every day when he gets off the bus, he has to sprint home to pee because I think he is afraid to ask to go to the bathroom at school. I think he thinks his clothespin might go to yellow if he calls attention to himself.

One day he tried to buy ice cream in the cafeteria, but he didn't have any money in his account and says that he put his PIN number in wrong. I told him that I was putting money in his account so he could buy ice cream if he wants to. He panicked and said he didn't want to buy food in the cafeteria. Ever. He refused to give the envelope with lunch money in it to his teacher for several days.

It's his birthday on Saturday so I'm sending cupcakes with him tomorrow. He was worried and wanted to make sure that it was okay with his teacher. I told him that I told his teacher that I would be sending cupcakes and still he asked several times whether it was okay. I told him that he could tell her, "My birthday is Saturday, but I get to celebrate at school today," when he hands her the cupcakes. He rehearsed it several times and asked me to remind him of what to say when I drop him off tomorrow.

When I told him I was going to start volunteering in his classroom, he didn't want me to come on Thursdays because he thought he would have to come home with me when I left and he wouldn't get to go to the library.

Whenever something out of the ordinary happens, he wants me to go over the details over and over to make sure that he knows what is going on. And he asks me repeatedly if it's okay.

I've tried to tell him that it's okay to tell the teacher what he needs. That he won't get in trouble for raising his hand and asking for permission to do something. I wrote a note for him to take to his teacher tomorrow asking her to help convince him that it's okay to go to the bathroom. I told him that he doesn't have to buy ice cream, but that he can if he wants to because he has money now. I told him that we could practice putting in his PIN number. I tell him that it's okay if he can't do everything perfectly. I tell him that his teacher loves him and is proud of him and says he is doing great.

I tell him over and over that I love him and I am proud of him and that he is an amazing little guy.

I want him to do well. I want him to stay on green. But I don't want him to be so afraid and worried. I want him to enjoy school. Because it's kindergarten, for chrissakes. I don't want him to be motivated by fear.

I don't know how to help him. I know elementary school is a big adjustment, but it makes me so sad that he's so anxious. I don't know how to help him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

These Newfangled Contraptions

I got a text message on my phone today.

This is probably not big news for most of you, but I NEVER get text messages. I've maybe gotten five of them in my entire life. A couple from my cell phone service provider and a couple spams, but that's it. This one was actually for me. It said, "Hola. This is your mother. END MESSAGE"

I totally didn't know what to do with this information. I know that eight-year-olds can text message with one hand while they do homework with the other and chat on the phone with their little headsets, but I had no idea how to go about returning the message. I am so out of touch. (God forbid that my kids ever get into texting because I'll be absolutely nonplussed about how to monitor them.)

See, my mom moved to Australia on Sunday, and I assume this was her attempt to contact me without a huge telephone bill. So I thought I'd give it a go. My first attempt to use the little keypad to compose a message resulted in something to the effect of, "Highi hijkltuv." And then I stopped.

I carried on with my day before I tried to go back and resend. Meanwhile, questions swirled through my head: Do I even have text messaging service? (Obviously I do.) Do I pay extra for it? (Probably.) How much do I pay for it? (No idea.) Am I legally required by some obscure text messaging law to use cute little acronyms and emoticons if I send my own? (Almost surely.)

I obviously HAVE a cell phone, but I honestly don't even know how many minutes I have on my plan because I only use about six of them a month and those are used making phone calls like the one I made to my husband this morning as I was pulling out of the driveway: "Hi, Alex. I put a bag of trash from the car in the driveway and Sam wanted me to call you to make sure that you put it in the trashcan because he was worried that I am littering."

It wasn't until a few months ago that I was even able to program names and numbers into my phone. Before then I just memorized the numbers I called (home), and typed them in. I thought since I had mastered that, that I would be able to compose a simple text message, but apparently I can't.

Hours later I finally texted, "Hi how r u" to an unknown number. It sure wasn't my mom's. But it was where the original message came from. Is it some special texting number? Did she borrow a phone to send it? Am I texting some complete stranger that somehow managed to convey my mom's personality in a two-sentence text message to me? And how do you put a question mark in a text message anyhow?

You should be impressed that I managed to even use "r" and "u" as shorthand. A friend of mine emailed me a few months ago and included the acronym "KWIM." I emailed her multiple times with increasingly frantic questions culminating with, "NO, REALLY, WHAT THE HELL DOES KWIM MEAN?! I HAVE TO KNOW!" For those of you like me, it apparently stands for "Know what I mean?"

But, don't worry, I have a plan to get up to speed. Because I made it to age 34 with only five text messages to my name, I figure I won't get too many more before my kids get old enough to figure out how to text, and at that point, I will make them explain it to me. And I plan to say this a lot, and loudly: "These kids these days with their newfangled contraptions. I swear, what will they come up with next?"

Stimey has managed (but just barely) to also cross-post this at DC Metro Moms.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Yesterday was an open house at Sam's kindergarten. What that means is that any parent could stop in at any time to hang out in the classroom. I think technically we're all allowed to come hang out anytime, but this was the official day to go by.

I was ridiculously excited.

Because my kids all go to/went to a co-op preschool, I am so used to knowing exactly what they are doing at all times, even when I'm not there. And while I like this kindergarten, I don't feel like there's very much communication from the school about what happens in the classroom. So I was thrilled to get a glimpse of what it's like to be a kindergartener in Sam's class.

Sam's school starts at 8:50 and I had somewhere else I had to be at 10 a.m., so I had Alex (federal holidays rock!) drop me and Sam off in the morning, with orders to pick me up in an hour. I sent Sam off to the kindergarten lineup yard and I headed to the office to sign in.

Along the way, I passed a neighbor of ours who is in the second grade. I had shrieked, "HI! HOW ARE YOU? HAVE A GREAT DAY!" before I realized what a psycho I sounded like. I literally mumbled, "Oh, you are such a motherfucking idiot. Bring it down a notch," to myself as I walked into the school.

And, yes, I am the kind of person who:
a) mumbles to herself
b) says "motherfucking" in an elementary school setting
and c) gets ridiculously giddy about visiting my kids' schools.

Go ahead, mock away. I'll wait.

Slightly calmer, I waited for the teacher and told her I was there for open house and would be there for an hour. She was very nice and chatted a little as we walked the kids inside. Then she asked me to remind her what my name was. I told her, and followed up with, "I'm Sam's mom."

"Oh, I knew THAT," she said, and then she said something about not forgetting my face. And in my head, it seemed that she was saying that she couldn't forget my psychotically eager persona. No matter how hard she tried.

The kids all put their backpacks, lunchboxes, and folders away and then went to sit on the rug. And then they said the pledge of allegiance, following along with the voice from the intercom. There is also a school credo that they have to recite.

The teacher started the day and I kept my eye out for kids whose names Sam says at home. There's D, who rides the bus with Sam and seems to be his best friend, although I didn't see the two of them exchange so much as a glance while I was there. There was S, who had hit I last week. There was I, who seemed unscathed. There was J, who likes to see Sam with short hair. There were M and M, whom Sam talks about sometimes. There are 14 students in the class. Only four of them are girls. They seem like nice kids.

Ms. S started her "morning meeting" which included mentioning that today was open house and that some parents would be coming by, and some wouldn't, and both ways was okay. And the parents would "stay for a couple minutes. [quick, oh-right glance at me] Or an hour."

Because it was Monday and there was a lot of business to conduct, what with there being new things at each center and whatnot, the morning meeting took the entire hour I was there. No other parents showed up. Sam, for his part, was so focused that I think he may have forgotten that I was there. When I ruffled his head and told him goodbye as he walked from the art station back to the meeting carpet, I'm not entirely sure that he noticed.

I am so happy that I went. I plan to start volunteering in the classroom soon, because I'm lucky enough to have the time, and I'm that mom that really likes to be involved. I know it's probably not cool to be the class mother type of gal, but if you haven't guessed by now, I am SO not cool. I'll learn more when I'm volunteering, but I'm thrilled that I have a taste of what his day is like.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Have you ever been standing next to someone and mentioned that you have to make 100 black and white copies, and then the person you are talking to mentions that she just happens to have in her car a Kinkos coupon for 100 free black and white copies and she wasn't planning on using it, but because it's such an awesome coupon, she wanted someone to use it, so she gives it to you and you successfully use it and get 100 free black and white copies that you really needed to have made?

That happened to me today.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sam Has Mastered the Art of Divide and Conquer

Sam's bizarre little punishments continue. Today Alex had the audacity to tell Sam he couldn't paint. He then followed up by taking away Sam's paintbrush.

How. Dare. He?

Sam responded by giving him a ticket:

See how he crossed Alex out, all mafia style? And do you see the glee on Alex's face as he cruelly brandishes the paintbrush he so callously took from Sam, The Ar-teest? Even in the face of the just-started masterpiece there on the table behind him?

This, on the other hand, is what he thinks about me:

I think maybe I should submit this lovely drawing to The League of Maternal Justice because, although there are many boobs there, I'm willling to bet not many of them are perfectly heart-shaped like mine.

Friday, October 5, 2007

ISO Good Advice

I am soliciting advice over at DC Metro Moms. Come on over and help a sister out. Especially if you are super wise.

(Now you have to go or I won't think you're super wise.)

A Giant Step Forward for Jack-kind

Jack is making some serious progress.

He has started mentioning other children by name. It's not always the right name, but at least he realizes that there are other children out there, and that they have identifying titles. He doesn't usually say the name to the child, but we're taking baby steps.

Then there was this morning:

Jack and I had a playdate with WhyMommy and Widget today and Jack and Widget played together. Honest to fucking God played together. Now, granted, a lot of that was because there was one toy space shuttle that they both wanted, so in order to play with it, they had to be near each other, but still! They swung on their tummies on swings next to each other. They followed each other around. I saw Jack holding a little piece of fence aside so Widget could get through. They (reluctantly) gave each other turns with the space shuttle.

When I asked Jack what his favorite part of the playdate was, he said, "Sharing the space shuttle." (!!!!!) Not: "Playing with the space shuttle." Not: "Playing." Not: A blank stare out the car window. He actually said he liked interacting with another child.

Then he asked, "How do you spell Widget?"

He expressed interest in an animate being. (That's not a pet.) He wanted to know something about Widget. I think I may just have to bake that boy a cake.

I hope you like us, WhyMommy, because we're coming over Every. Single. Day. From. Now. On.

DCMM: Preschool is Like a Warm, Cozy Hot Tub; Kindergarten is Like the Cold, Choppy Ocean

In the car on the way to kindergarten today, Sam said: "If you do something really bad, you don't get to go to school for a few days."


Being the astute and watchful parent that I am, I decided that Sam must have this information because this had happened in his class. So I asked and he answered. And, yes, a kid named S hit another kid in the class hard enough in the nose to make him bleed. And S was suspended. Both of these kids are in Sam's kindergarten class.

Let me repeat that: Kindergarten. They're so tiny; why do they need to brawl? And why, even though this apparently happened a few days ago, am I only hearing about it now? From Sam and not the school?

I'm not suggesting that they send home a note with the kid's name on it, but I think that parents of kindergartners should be told of assaults that occur barely a month into school. Because I want to be able to talk to my kid about bullying. And I want to talk to my kid about how to deal with another child who might up and deck him. And I want to know why it happened and what they're doing to prevent it in the future.

I want to know how to feel like my son is safe in school.

I get that there are probably privacy issues, but it feels like this school makes it impossible to know what happens in class. And I wasn't aware that in addition to asking, "What did you draw during art?" I also had to ask, "So, any casualties today?"

I'm nowhere near patient enough to homeschool. And I'm nowhere near rich enough for private school, so this is it for us. We're public school kids. And I need assurance and communication from that school.

But I also don't want to be the crazy parent that's always demanding something or complaining about something. (I'm already that mom at Jack's school.) So again I ask for your advice:

Do most public schools alert parents to stuff like this? Should I get in touch with the teacher? The principal? Should I let it go unless it happens again, and just try to talk to Sam about it? These are uncharted waters for me, and I am totally adrift. I'd appreciate your lifeboat of advice.

Jean is also in need of advice most of the time at Stimeyland.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Once in a Blue Moon

I totally rocked our flu shots today.

Trips to the pediatrician for me are not always the smoothest of events. My kids' doctor doesn't have toys because of the carrying of the diseases and whatnot. So my appointments often involve me trying desperately to keep two or three kids happy in a waiting room with nothing but a fish tank.

"How many fish do we see?" "What color is that fish?" "Which fish is going to go into the castle?" These questions only amuse for so long. There was one day when we got to ask, "Why isn't that fish moving?" but even that didn't entertain for very long. And my doctor is often behind schedule. And I am compulsively early. We get good attention once the doctor is there, but we pay for it in general misbehavior before, during, and after the visit.

So I was trepidatious about the flu shot clinic today. It's first come, first serve, and it's always chaotic. Sam got a pretty severe black eye at one of these flu shot clinics in the past. It was totally his fault for running in a crowded room, but we don't have the best of track records at these things.

I was so prepared today though. We got there 30 minutes before it was supposed to start. There was already a waiting room full of people that were even earlier than me.

No problem.

The kids watched the fish while I signed in and did the paperwork. When they got a little antsy I whipped out the box of crackers I'd brought. When they got tired of that, I pulled out a Magic Treehouse book that they hadn't seen before. When Jack started to get fidgety, I gave him his Saturn V spaceship toy. When Quinn's attention wandered, I gave him a toy car.

We were model damn citizens.

I'd put some thought into the order of the shots. I didn't want one kid's crying to freak out the other guys. So the child who is least likely to be bothered by hysterical screaming goes last: Quinn. And Sam is a little, shall we say "dramatic" about injury, so I didn't want him going first to set a hysterical example. So when it was our turn, Jack was up first.

I hadn't told them about the shots until they got home from school, so they didn't have much time to worry about it. And Jack, more than being stressed about the shot, was excited about going first. (My poor middle child grasping at anything that puts him at Number One.) So he got his shot, barely wimpered, and I shoved a chocolate chip cookie in his hand.

Then Sam. Louder wimpering, but it was cut short by the cookie I shoved into his mouth.

Quinn gave a surprised little squawk when he got his shot, but he also fell for the cookie bribe.

We were out of there 35 minutes after we arrived.

We were in the car before Sam noticed that no one had given him a sticker, but I had boxes of chocolate milk and juice for them, and he forgot about the greatest injustice in the history of doctor visits. (No sticker! Shocking!)

Sometimes the planets line up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Of Mice and Jack

Here are two seemingly unrelated things:

1. Jack's been watching a lot of Tom and Jerry lately.

2. Jack's sand throwing in the sandbox at school has escalated lately.



When Alex started showing Tom and Jerry to the little dudes, I was skeptical. While amusing, it is also just about the worst example of what you want to show your kids. If you want to find the yang to The Wonder Pets' yin, this is it.

But Alex used to watch it with his dad. And, in fact, this seems to be one of his stronger memories of time spent with his dad. (Who died when he was young.) So it means a lot to him to watch it with his own kids. And since it means so much to him, I've backed off.

But it makes me cringe when all three of my children laugh hysterically at Jerry shooting Tom in the face with a gun. Another fun thing they do is throw pies at each other. Better than guns, yes? Absolutely. And Jack finds this hilarious. He started pretending to throw invisible pies at people and laughing uproariously about it.

Stop me if you see where this is going.


Today I was on the other side of the playground when I saw Jack throwing sand at another kid. So I ran over to stop him, and to his credit he only threw sand two more times, and both times he threw it at me. Mostly on my legs. The second time I heard him say, "I pied you!"


All this time that he's been throwing sand at the other kids, I think he's been pretending to throw pies. Only he's the only one in on the joke. When I asked him if he'd like it if someone did that to him, he answered "yes." And that's probably true. Aaargh!

I guess we'll be having a talk about Tom and Jerry, and real and pretend, and being nice, and thinking about what other people want instead of just what we want. And after I have that talk with Alex, I'll have it with Jack.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

DCMM: Peer Pressure Starts Young

My almost six-year-old son Sam loves to get his hair cut. When he was younger he would often claim, "My hair is too big. I need a haircut." These days he just pulls the hair on the top of his head as far skyward as he can explaining that it is clearly too long.

The reason he likes haircuts so much is that I always take him to Cartoon Cuts. At Cartoon Cuts they get to sit in front of their very own TV while their hair is cut, there are some toys in the waiting room, and there is always a lollipop after. He's never refused a haircut.

But the reason he wanted his most recent haircut was different. He wanted this haircut because a kid in his kindergarten class told him Sam couldn't come to his birthday party unless he got it.

My sweet little boy was succumbing to peer pressure. His "friend" J apparently didn't like his hair and had brought it up more than once. First I launched into a diatribe about "you should get your hair cut because you want to—not because J wants you to." ("Can we stop talking about this?" Sam asked.) Then I tried to take him to get his hair cut. Unfortunately his four-year-old brother threw up in the car on the way there so we had to turn around to come home. Even with his brother sitting there stripped of his clothes and with the car reeking of vomit, Sam still wanted to go to Cartoon Cuts. He was heartbroken when I said no.

That was Friday. We were finally able to go on Monday afternoon, and Sam was so happy. And today Sam told me that J said "Great!" to his haircut.

It's a fine line, I think. I don't want Sam to get his sense of self-worth from what other kids think of him, but I don't want him to be the weirdo with the bad haircut either. I remember those kids from elementary school. They weren't accepted then and for the most part, they weren't accepted in junior high or high school either. That's not right, but it's real.

Sam's so young, and he just started kindergarten. I'm not sure how to talk to him about stuff like this yet. I don't know if he gets the concepts. And even if he did, I'm not quite sure he's mature enough to pick the right thing over the easy thing. He badly wants to belong.

Haircuts are not a big deal. But it's a short walk from haircuts to fit in to wearing baggy pants to fit in to driving drunk to fit in. I know that's not going to happen next week, but it does frighten me. I want to lay the foundation now so that he has the confidence and the strength later to stand up for himself—and for others.

So here's my question to those of you out there with older children (or those of you who are wise beyond your children's years): How do I teach my son to think for himself and resist group thought?

Jean also worries at Stimeyland.

Monday, October 1, 2007


I make WhyMommy smile! And that makes me smile. And she gave me this pretty flower that also makes me smile. Yay for smiles! She also makes me smile a lot. And cry sometimes, but I know I smile more because of her. Thank you, beautiful WhyMommy!

I think I am supposed to pass this on to several others, but I am going to pass it to only one because of the sheer joy and heartwarming that these posts gave to me. Although I'm relatively sure she doesn't know I exist, I pass this on to MOM-NOS.

If you want a smile, please go read these posts, in the following order:

An open letter to Dierks Bentley

The long and short of it: On Dierks Bentley's hair and the power of reaching out

Really something

See? You're smiling, aren't you?