Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hear Me Roar! (And Kiss.)

The thoughtful TIV, aka The Individual Voice, awarded me that amazing lion to your left. It makes me very happy to get such an award because it matters to me to hear that someone likes the way I write. Because writing is a very personal thing. Especially when one is writing about such personal things as those I blab about here on a semi-regular basis. (And I'm not necessarily just talking about the poop stories.)

She was kind enough to write that I am "witty and articulate about the challenges and hilarity that goes into mothering three of the cutest, funniest boys I've ever seen." Isn't that about the nicest thing ever?

So this award comes from the Shameless Lions Writing Circle. Each recipient is instructed to “distribute [the award] to those people who have blogs we love, can’t live without, where we think the writing is good and powerful. [...] and accompany the image with three things they believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.”

So three things that I believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful. Well, the first has to be honesty of emotion. Be it fiction or reality, if the author isn't being true to the emotions of the situation, the writing likely won't resonate.

Another thing that I think good writing requires is an interest on the part of the author in the subject matter. No matter how good of a writer you are, if you don't care about your subject matter, that will shine through. See, I'm really interested in Quinn's constipation. Thus, the compelling reading you can find under my "poop" category.

Lastly, I think—while not necessary for good writing—a sense of humor helps. Obviously humor is not appropriate in every situation, but a touch of whimsy can help make even the densest topic more interesting. Of course, humor done poorly (or inappropriately) can kill a piece of writing faster than anything. That may have happened here more than once.

I want to pass this award on to Niksmom. She expresses herself so beautifully about her darling child, Nik. I get such a sense of what her little guy is doing based solely on her words. I would actually be surprised if she hasn't already gotten this award, but I'm giving it to her anyway.

I'd also like to pass this on to Joeymom at Life with Joey because one result of good writing is that it makes you think. And Joeymom regularly makes me think. She also paints vivid portraits of her two children.


I am also honored to have been given the Mwah! award by Slouching Mom. I consider anything she gives to be valuable, so I will happily accept this "chaste kiss given to say thank you for friendships and comments in the blogosphere."

When I started blogging I never thought I would "meet" so many people that I connect with. There's lots of you I could pass this on to, but I'm going to start with these lovely women:

Ange at Tis My Life
KAL at Autism Twins
Tulip Mom over at, you know, Tulip Mom
Kelly at Life With 3 Boys
Jessica at A Bushel and a Peck
Sandie at Urban Mama
Canape at Don't Take the Repeats, who definitely does not have time right now to respond to this.


Do with these awards what you will. Thank you for bestowing them on me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DCMM: Is Red His Color?

Ah, the joys of a baby born in late summer or early fall...pushing the stroller on crisp fall days, taking your baby out in the Baby Bjorn without having to worry about either of you getting heatstroke, having an excuse to stay inside once the weather starts getting cold.

A downside: making the decision of whether to redshirt or not to redshirt.
If you have a child whose birthday is anywhere near the kindergarten cut-off date—September 30 in DC and Virginia and September 1 in Maryland—chances are you have already had a conversation or two about redshirting, the practice of keeping your child out of kindergarten an extra year to give him or her a chance to get more "ready" for school.

(For an excellent account of some pros and cons and an interesting discussion of the issue, read this  New York Times Magazine article published last summer.)

I have a six-year-old who has an October birthday. Therefore, while not technically redshirted because he wouldn't have been allowed to start school last year, he is still one of the oldest in his grade. And I am so glad. He started kindergarten this year and is doing really well. But even with his success, he has anxiety and issues that would have been even more profound had he started elementary school last year. His extra year of preschool made a tremendous difference in his readiness to deal with kindergarten—both academically and socially.

This has been on my mind recently because I've started considering redshirting my middle child, Jack. Jack will turn five this May and will be expected to attend kindergarten in the fall. Jack is also developmentally delayed and is on a path to being diagnosed with autism. He is incredibly smart, but some of his weaknesses lie in the areas of following directions in class and interacting with his peers. He is also far more likely to interact with younger children.

I wonder what will happen to him if I put him in kindergarten next year. Will he become a "problem child" that gets in trouble all the time because he can't follow the routine? Because he can't sit for 45 minutes of floor time? Because he will refuse to transition from one project to another if he's not ready?

Will he become the loner—the weird child that acts different so no one wants anything to do with him? If he does become that kid, will the stigma follow him through his whole school career? I still remember those kids from my elementary school. They didn't recover socially, even through high school. It's sad and wrong, but it's true.

If I send him to kindergarten and he's not ready, will he be so damaged by the experience that he will suffer for years to come?

Or if I keep him in preschool for an extra year, will he be so bored by the academics when he finally gets to kindergarten that he will act out and become that very problem child I was hoping to avoid? Will the teachers expect him to be more mature because he will be older than the other children? Will he resent the fact that all of his peers are moving on and he is not?

One of the quotes from the Times article resonates with me: "Early failure begets later failure." I don't want to choose the wrong option and create such a situation for my Jack.

Redshirting is also fraught with other land mines: class issues, rich vs. poor, manipulative parenting. Author Elizabeth Weil writes in the Times article, "The last thing any child needs is to be outmaneuvered by other kids’ parents as they cut to the back of the birthday line to manipulate age effects."

I don't intend to use my child's delays as an excuse or a reason why we should not be judged for redshirting. I use it to illustrate how I think this practice might be particularly helpful for him. I know that, bottom line, I have to do what's right for my child. But still the egalitarian in me worries that by pushing Jack up I am pushing another child down. And even without those concerns, I'm still not sure what will be best for my son.

It's only January. I have some time to decide what to do. Jack may make great leaps in development that will make the decision clear to me. Or just the opposite. For now I'm just registering him for everything and I will figure out later where to send him.

What would you do?

You can visit Jean's home-blog, Stimeyland, to read more things about Jack than you might ever want to know.

Is Red His Color?

Hi, regular readers! I've posed a question over at DC Metro Moms about whether I should send Jack to kindergarten next year or keep him in preschool for an extra year. I'd love your opinions, either here or there!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Damn News.

Clean margins, people. Clean margins!

Congratulations, WhyMommy. I can't tell you how happy for you I am.

Rachael Ray and I Are Going To Have Some Fucking Words.

It's no secret that Jack doesn't like to eat, well, food. And although I know little to nothing about Rachael Ray, I couldn't very well NOT buy this cookbook, what with her guarantee and all.

Mmmmmm hmmmm.

Now the Fake-Baked Ziti was very good and Sam did inhale it. But Sam would also have inhaled spaghetti and I wouldn't have had to grate three types of cheese and make a cream sauce for that.

I think it goes without saying that Ms. Ray should get an acerbic note from me letting her know that her cooking simply did not pass muster with Jack. And, you know, that's cool and all 'cause he probably wouldn't eat anything from any other cookbook either, but none of those other cookbooks betrayed me with a promise.

So, how should I word my completely irrational, irate, and never-to-be-sent letter to Ms. I'll-Make-Bold-Claims-That-Will-Be-Completely-Disproved-the-First-Time-You-Use-My-Cookbook? I encourage the use of curse words.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

16 Down: How Stimey Feels (4 Letters, 1st Letter is D)*

While I may not be running for president of Mensa anytime soon, I consider myself to be a fairly bright person.

My opinion of myself changed rapidly when I switched from buying crossword puzzle books with words like "fun" and "easy" in the titles to books with words like "New" and "York" and "Times" in the title.

I don't know anything.

* Answer: Dumb

Friday, January 25, 2008


Take a look at that picture there. See anything special? (Besides the sheer awesomeness of Sam? And the ridiculous blurriness of the shot?) Yep, he has an orange stripe on his belt. He's moving up in the karate world!

Now he only has, like, 18 more colors to go!

Today was Sam's graduation ceremony to get his new belt. Quinn dressed for the occasion:

(Incidentally, that's what he was supposed to wear for Halloween. There's nothing to call attention to yourself quite like wearing a duck head in January.)

I was a little nervous about dragging Jack and Quinn to the graduation because usually we sit in the lobby, out of earshot of the classes. But if I wanted to see Sam get his new belt, I was gonna have to take 'em in to the observers' chairs.

They were not super well behaved. Fortunately the teacher wanted all of us to be as loud as possible and keep the energy level up, so we were less noticeable than we would have been in a normal class.

The kids who were getting new belts did some demos of their kicks and punches and yelling ("Pay!" "Ai-yah!" "Ai-yah!") Then the black belters did a demo. It was really cool. Those folks can do some pretty neat stuff.

Oddly, Quinn didn't even look up from the book he was coloring in. Jack, on the other hand, was really excited. The demo team did a lot of shouting "Ai-yah!" Soon, Jack was yelling it at the top of his lungs too. Over and over and over and even after the demo was over.

The teacher presented ("Ai-yah!") the kids with their new ("Ai-yah!) belts one by one as everyone ("Ai-yah!") cheered them on. Sam was ("Ai-yah!) really ("Ai-yah!) proud. This is him ("Ai-yah!) getting his new ("Ai-yah!) belt. ("Ai-yah!)

Then it was just a short matter of spending twenty minutes making Sam change back into his street clothes and physically restraining the other kids from being such lunatics that we wouldn't be invited back. And Sam's teacher called me "ma'am." That part was a little sad.

It's fun to watch Sam get really excited about learning and progressing in something. He's already discarded a photo to make a space for a picture of all the graduates in his photo book. He's told me before that he wants to be a black belt. And now he's telling me he wants to move up to the junior class so he can be an assistant teacher.

I think signing him up may have been the right choice.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time Off

If you have kids that are in school now, think back to the day you signed them up for preschool. (If your kids are younger, look forward to your future.)

I'm sure there was all that exciting stuff about them finding a place for themselves and going somewhere to learn and making friends and whatnot. But if you are anything like me (and stay home during the day), maybe fifty percent of your brain was thinking of all the things you were going to do while they were happily occupied under someone else's watchful eye.

I was especially excited this year when I signed Quinn up for his 2-year-old class because it meant that there were five hours a week that all three of my kids would be in school. I realized at the time that I had two children in a cooperative school so that meant I would lose two and a half of those hours three to four times a month.

"But," you'd think if you were me, "that still gives me at least one morning a week all to myself. Think of all the stuff I'll get done!"

But if you did think that because you were me, you'd be wrong.

First, you will not only not get a lot done in that two and a half hours (instead finding new and inventive ways to waste time), but, secondly, you will not consistently get that two and a half hours.

Since mid-December I have either been co-oping, there has been no school, or at least one of my children has been sick on every one of those mornings I was supposed to spend organizing my life. There was one day when I really could have sent all my kids to school, but I was not capable of enjoying my time.


I was so ready for one of my kids to wake up sick. But no one did. I was ready for one of my kids to start coughing up phlegm and sneezing up green mucus. But no one did. I was ready for one of the little dudes to throw up in the car on the way to school. But no one did.

I dropped them all off and then I got the hell out of there. I had one quick moment of panic in the car when I had that startle reflex of "Where are my kids?!" that was quickly followed by, "Not my problem today!"

I got exactly two productive things done this morning: Jack and Shit. But, oh my God, it felt awesome.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And When Did He First Pick His Nose?

Currently, Jack is being screened to enter a study on autism at NIMH. One of the results of this screening is that he will end up with a diagnosis. Hallelujah! One of the other results of this screening is that I will end up feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet because I can apparently remember nothing about his life up to (and including) this point.

Alex and I spent our morning yesterday in a tiny room being interviewed for three and a half hours about the minutiae of Jack's development from birth to last week. Considering I've lived with the kid for more than four and a half years and I recently pored over his baby book to fill out stacks of papers about him, not only for this screening, but in preparation for an appointment we may or may not keep with the diagnostic people at Kennedy Krieger, you'd think I'd be able to supply some—any—information about him.

I didn't feel so bad when I couldn't answer the question, "When was the first time Jack spontaneously said 'uh-oh'?" But it went downhill from there.

I was quite proud of myself because I had just laid out in detail what I thought was the first time he had said "uh-oh," complete with what came before and after. Not good enough. Apparently that was non-spontaneous. And, in case you are wondering, there is a difference.

There's nothing that will make you feel like a bad parent faster than being stared at by a doctor and your husband as you admit that literally the only thing you can remember about Christmas 2005 is that the tree was positioned so that it blocked the front door so visitors had to come in the side door. By the way, that is Quinn's first Christmas that I have no memory of.

I don't know if it's that I have a bad memory or it's that I have three kids or what, but the first couple years of Jack's life are kind of a blur. There is a large sort of blank spot between the time he was three months old and the time he turned three. I remember that he started school somewhere in there, but other than that, I'm not entirely sure of much else.

How many words did he have by 24 months? ("This is a touchpoint for me," said the doctor.) Fuck if I remember. I do remember bringing it up to the pediatrician, so I know it wasn't a normal amount. Was he putting two words together when he started school? Did he make eye contact when he was a baby and then stop making it later? Did he ever make eye contact? Does he now?

Add to the humiliation the fact that they're videotaping us so that when the beads of sweat form on my brow because I can't remember if he had ten words before 24 months or after, every researcher that checks our file in the future will be able to see it.

The doctor did reassure us that "these are hard questions," and, "your ability to answer these questions is typical."

But then, like two hours later, when you can no longer answer questions such as, "What kinds of things does Jack like to play with?", you know that somehow you have surpassed that point you never thought you would surpass: the point at which you are no longer thrilled to be talking about your child.

You'll excuse me. I have some home videos to review.

Cross-posted (soon) at DC Metro Moms.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

All A-Twitter

WhyMommy is up and twittering. She says she is coherent and hungry. She also reports that she is alive.

Go on and celebrate with me!


WonderDaddy just called. He said Susan is out of surgery and doing well.

He says the surgery went well just as the surgeon expected.

He said Susan is fading in and out. I told him to tell her how much you all have been thinking about her today. Because she's her, she has her Blackberry with her to catch up on your good wishes and your Twittering.

Congratulations, WhyMommy!! I'm so happy it went well.

I, and the hundreds of others who have been checking on you all day, are sending you all of our love!

Still Waiting...

You'll know the second I do.

WhyMommy Update

I got a phone message from WonderDaddy this morning at 9:45. He wanted us all to know that Susan would be starting surgery in the next few minutes and that it would last until late afternon.

I will let you know as soon as I hear anything else. Join me in sending your good thoughts to her and her family.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I think most of my readers here know WhyMommy over at Toddler Planet. She goes in for her surgery tomorrow, having undergone six months of chemotherapy for her Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

I babysat for WhyMommy the afternoon she got her diagnosis. Whereas in her place I would have numbly hidden in the car and sent my husband in to pick up my child, she walked in to get him with the amazing WonderDaddy and chatted. She spoke with bravery and with humor. She said she wanted positivity. She said she was going to beat her cancer because she had to.

I have watched her as she has walked her terrifying path for the past several months with equal grace and courage. I have read her incredible words as she has cried and hurt and educated&#8212and lived. And as she has beat her cancer back.

And all the while she was doing that? She was parenting her two children in her thoughtful and (yes, WM) patient and loving manner. She was being a partner to her husband. She was being a friend to so many. She participated in playgroups and MOMS Club activities with charm and vigor.

She was being a friend to me.

I hope that I have been able to give her a tiny buttress of support in the past few months. The thing is, in this time when she could have justly focused on herself and her family only, she has remained a huge support to the people who know her as well. I know she has been a tremendous support to me.

I adore you, WhyMommy. I can't wait to hear about your successful surgery. I can't wait to hear about your new (boobless) life. I can't wait to see you walk another path, this one far different than the last. I can't wait to be there with you.

All day tomorrow I will be thinking of clean margins, WhyMommy. Clean margins for you.


Stop by and give her some words of support for tomorrow. Write your own post for her as well if she has touched you. And I'm willing to bet she has.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snoooooooow! (A Day Late.)

But not a dollar short, because snooooooow! is free! And AWESOME.*

We had only our second snowstorm of the season yesterday and it was great. I was co-oping in Jack's class and watched as the snowflakes got bigger and bigger and the snow-blanket got thicker and thicker. (Completely disproving, by the way, Jack's initial assertion at the weather station that it was sunny and windy.)

By the time I left, the parking lot was a disaster.

At our preschool it is absolutely verboten to drive out of the "in" driveway. You will get some nasty looks for that. And everyone knows that it's only the newbies who will do it. So regardless of the fact that cars kept threatening to get stuck on the steeper, narrower "out" driveway, people kept driving up it. The last few of us there had to bite fingernails and confer with each other to ascertain that, yes, to prevent complete disaster it might, just this once, maybe? would be okay to drive out the "in" driveway. We are all sheep. But us sheep made it out of the parking lot just fine, thank you very much. Via the "in" route.

The roads were mildly treacherous, so I kept Jack home from his afternoon class, which turned out to be the right decision because playing out in the snow is apparently the most fun thing Jack has ever done in his short life.

I think it's because I don't usually encourage him to throw things at other people, but he absolutely couldn't stop giggling hysterically with each snowball he threw or each one that hit him.

At my suggestion, he even tasted the snow, something I consider to be a major victory considering he refuses to put anything new in his mouth.

He cruised around the yard making "roads" in the snow and clearing piles off of every flat surface he could find. He cleared the slide with his butt. Mostly.

But, see, he made it down okay. And happy.

Quinn liked the snow too, although he got a wee bit agitated about being pelted with snowballs. Especially if said snowballs might end up partially down his jacket. I was forced to sacrifice myself as a snowball target so that Quinn didn't have to take the brunt of Jack's attack.

Quinn proved himself to be obstinate in his own "crazy snowy day way" (which is different from his "crazy carry a real lemon around in a treasure chest for four days way") by trying to insist on digging out the hose to water "the chairs!", "the steps!", "the snow!" He went inside shortly after that. Too cold, I think.

I guess maybe he should have taken my advice on wearing snow boots instead of sneakers.

But by the time we went to the bus stop to pick up Sam, he was ready to go again.

Shortly after the above picture was taken at the neighbor's house, he entered a whole new level of difficult and took a good fifteen minutes to walk around the corner.

We had to go to karate after school yesterday so Sam didn't get a chance to play in the backyard. And he badly wanted to play in the snow in the backyard. Thank GOD the snow didn't melt today because that would have officially made me the worst mom in te world for making my six-year-old the only child in Maryland that didn't get to play in the snow this week.

And by the way, that's not a snowman. It's ice cream.

Ice cream that seems to be wearing a hat. And gloves. Don't ask me. I'm just his mother.

So now all my children have cavorted in the snow and I've broken my windshield wiper blades by trying to pry them off my frozen windshield this morning, so I'm ready for our unseasonably warm weather to come back.

Sixty-five degrees, anyone?

* Disclaimer: Snow is awesome for up to 36 hours at a time. Then it is cold, wet, dingy, and just annoying.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why Else Would I Clean?

I think I may be teaching Sam that we only really need to clean the house if someone is coming over. My mother arrived late last night for a visit, and here was Sam's obsession in the hours leading up to his first reunion with her this morning:

24 hours prior to reunion: Just before leaving for school, Sam informed me, "Mom, I want this whole house clean before Nana gets here."

17 hours prior to reunion: Upon walking into the clean living room when he got home from school, the first words out of his mouth were, "Is every room this clean?" (And, thank you, every room was. No thanks to Sam.)

Reunion with Nana! "Nana, did you see how clean the house is?!"

Because he worked really hard nagging me about it all day.

DCMM: Horizontal Parenting

I successfully poisoned my husband the other night.

Unfortunately, I also managed to poison myself.

The chicken seemed fine, but after my husband and I both became violently ill within minutes of each other at four in the  morning, it became rapidly clear that I had done something wrong in the kitchen the night before. I'm not the greatest cook in the world, but I've never poisoned anyone. Until now. This was maybe the first time I was glad that my kids refuse to eat what I cook for them.

But this is not a post to point fingers at who did what in the kitchen and who poisoned who. There's enough of that going on at home. My question for this post is: How do you take care of your kids when you are so sick you can barely get off the couch?

For us, we started the day by falling prey to my kindergartner's claim that he was sick and couldn't go to school. "I may not throw up today," he said. "I may just have a fever." Forget it, kid, I don't for a second believe that you're sick, but I also don't believe for a second that I'm driving you to school at 8:30 in the morning. Especially because you're the self-reliant one.

Our next decision was which one of us would drive the younger two kids (and the other kid I drive to school a couple days a week) to preschool. Well, I'd thrown up more recently, so it was less likely that I would barf all over the car. So, me.

After that, it was a simple matter of taking naps while the oldest entertained himself with and whatever Noggin was showing that day.

When I picked the other guys up at preschool, another mom asked if I needed help with child care. "Oh, Sam's home," I said, "so he'll take care of the little ones." (I never claimed to be mother of the year.)

My husband and I semi-recovered enough to be vertical by early afternoon, so we were at least able to change the channel for our kids. And all three of them survived the day, so we succeeded in parenting, although we didn't do a great job.

As I see it, there are a few options for parenting when you're sick. They are:

Play "Small Servant," wherein your children fetch you things. Like water. And buckets.

Play "Short Nurse," for which you teach them to take care of you. This game is similar to Small Servant, although it improves the game tremendously if they know where the Advil is.

Play "Tiny Couch Potato." See the above description of my day for how to do this.

Play "Mini Caveman." To play Mini Caveman, all you have to do is abandon all of your rules.

Got any others?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Two Posts in One

Field trips are getting easier these days. I've found myself actually enjoying myself at the last couple I went on.

Today Jack's class went to the fire station (which I think I've been to four times since my kids have been in preschool, and will go to three more) and he, Quinn, and I all had a lovely time.

Jack loves fire fighters and even stood directly in front of the nearest one, tugged on his zipper, and said, "I want to be a fire fighter."

When another classmate was selected to demonstrate "Stop, Drop, and Roll," Jack didn't let that stop him; he tossed himself down on the ground and happily rolled back and forth.

For the rest of the day, he spouted various nuggets of wisdom from the video they were shown, including his favorite, "Don't hide, get outside."

The biggest downside was that this video, starring Little Richard, a talking fire hydrant, and the sound effects guy from Police Academy, also featured a smoke detector voiced by Gilbert Gottfried. Jack and Quinn both covered their eyes when he came on screen. And frankly I don't blame them.

Following are the obligatory "driving the fire truck" photographs:

Jack tried to seatbelt himself in and asked the firefighter to close the door. He was ready to go.

As interesting as all this is (it is, right?), I forgot all about it when I got back to the school. My kids and two others were walking up the preschool stairs when we heard a huge crash. The other mom and I did a double take until we realized that the sound hadn't come from our children falling down the stairs, but rather from the second flight of stairs that lead to the room where our music and motion class is taught once a week.

The other mom said something to the effect of, "Well, I don't hear anything else. I guess that means everything's okay."

"Funny," I thought to myself. "I think exactly the opposite." I shoved my kids toward Jack's class and sprinted up the stairs to find the mom who was substitute teaching the music class that week sitting on the stairs crying and shaking. Everything she had been holding was spread in front of her and her twin sons were standing there, clearly not knowing what to do.

I managed to get her kids to a classroom and get the school director up there to help her, because she was completely uncommunicative when I showed up. She turned out to be okay. Well, as okay as you can be after you bounce down stairs on your tailbone.

When you do that, you're not okay for several months. You get better. But you're not okay for a long time.

I know this, because when I was pregnant with Quinn I fell down the stairs at my house. I also immediately burst into tears. I remember how the action of sitting down and standing up hurt so much—for a long time. I remember that standing and sitting were better, but still not good—for even longer.

I remember a couple days after I fell when some friends we hadn't seen for a while came by with their new baby and all I could think about was how much my ass hurt. And how no one can see that, because to other people, pain is largely invisible.

I hope when I see this mom tomorrow that's she's not limping as bad as I think she's going to be.

Well, talk about starting a post one place and ending up somewhere else. That's largely indicative of my day. Thank all of you for your lovely wishes that I recover from my self-inflicted food poisoning. I'm almost entirely better And thank you, WhyMommy, for the delicious dinner you brought by. I can't thank you enough!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Food Poisoning...

Especially if it's you who poisoned both you and your husband so as to leave the two of you entirely incapacitated for an entire day while your children run around supervised only by Uncle TV.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Like Sam.

"I like my bruthers."


Have you ever tried to play with Play-doh with your two-year-old son without touching any of the Play-doh yourself?

It's really hard.

But you know what's even harder?

• Getting that nasty Play-doh smell off of your hands.

• Digging Play-doh out from underneath your fingernails.

• Touching—ick!—Play-(shudder)doh. Gross.

• Coming to terms with the fact that all three of your children have waaay healthier responses to sensory stimulation than you do.

I'm getting better. Six years ago I wouldn't have touched the stuff with a ten-foot pole. Now I only need a two-foot pole.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tech Stuff. And, oh, I Am Sooooo a Techie.

Well, I did it. I've been meaning to completely renovate my blogroll for a while. I know it's soooo five minutes ago to have a blogroll. (Is it still? I don't know these things. I'm mostly just making shit up.) But I like mine, and I've put a fair amount of work into adding all the links, so it's there to stay. (Goddammit!)

Let me know if you think you should be on there and I will carefully review (and by "carefully review," I mean, "shamelessly hop on your bandwagon at") your site and put it in line for my next blogroll renovation, currently scheduled for 2012.


I used to use my blogroll as a bookmark page for myself and visit all your sites that way, but it fell into disrepair because a while ago I found this awesome, but obscure new tool that none of you know about. You may not have heard about this fancy new thing called Google Reader, but it will change your life. I know it's new and all, but you really should try it, because it's awesome.

Really. Why weren't you people shaking me and telling me, "Go get a reader! It will save hours of your life!"

I'm not really an early adopter.


And really the whole point of this post is to brag to you about how I fixed my very own laptop. Of course the problem turned out to be that there was a green sprinkle stuck under the right arrow key. And to "fix" it, I used the stem of a Hi Ho! Cherry-O cherry to dig it out.

Can you imagine how embarrassing it would have been for me to take it to the Apple store to get it fixed? 'Cause that's what I was gonna do.

My life is one series of slightly humiliating experiences after another. At least I've learned to laugh about it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

From the Sun to a Rotten Egg Yolk

When I initially picked the yellow paint that made the bathroom look like the inside of the sun, I was worried about the final result.

And then I painted, and I loved it. Yeah, it's bright, but really, can you get any more cheerful than electric yellow?

Alex claimed to love it as well. After the events of the last few days, I no longer believe this. I think he was just waiting for an excuse.

When we he painted the living room he claims that it makes the adjacent neon bathroom look too weird. I believe that the bathroom is an entirely separate room with a door, so does it really matter if one is calm and lovely and one is bright and snazzy and makes you feel happy to be in there?

Apparently yes. Today he went out and bought paint. As I type, he is taping up the walls that I myself taped less than a year ago.

I may be unkind to call the color "Rotten Egg Yolk." It's actually know as "Saffron Thread." (Who makes this shit up?) I'll continue to make merciless fun of it withhold judgment until it's done.

But let me tell you right now, no matter how much I like it, I'm going to mope and groan and tell Alex, "I guess it's all right. If you don't like being happy."

See him? See him making fun of the beautiful, subtle yellow behind him?
Seconds later, he said, "I hate being happy. So there."*

* Not all quotes may be entirely accurate, or actually have been uttered in real life, but they happened in my head, and that's almost as real, right?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Study in Contrasts

My kids share some characteristics, but in fact they are all really different. I'm sure yours are too. Some days bring it out more than others though. So, without further ado, A Day in the Life of the Stimeys:

Jack, a stubborn enigma: Jack's been out of school for a couple days. You all may remember the car barfing and his exquisite aim. That is why he wasn't in school Wednesday. On Thursday I thought he might still be contagious, so I kept him home. He doesn't have morning preschool on Fridays, but he does have his afternoon special ed class.

But he didn't want to go. More than he usually doesn't want to go to school.

I have to say, I am really tired of making Jack cry by making him go to school. I am also really tired of making Jack cry by having to walk away from him when he spots me at his school, but he still has to stay.

I think he likes school when he's there. And I think he gets a lot out of it, but Jesus Christ, the kid rips my heart out on a daily basis.

Today he said he didn't want to go to school. It's really hard to get him to answer "why" questions, but after wording my inquiries several different ways, he said very quietly and in his adorably sad, high-pitched voice, "I want to play by myself."

I tried to get more out of him, but he just kept saying, "I want to play by myself." And he got more and more teary and looked sadder and sadder each time he said it.

Usually if he seemed that sad I would have kept him home, but he hadn't been to school for much of the week so I thought it would be good for him to go. I did tell him that he could tell his teacher that he wanted to play by himself. And that it was okay to do that sometimes. And that I liked playing by myself too.

We usually wait in the car at the bus drop-off spot for his teachers to come out. While we waited I was able to cheer him up considerably with a snowball fight game that is on my phone. A game that I had played exactly one time. A game that I had played one time months ago. A game that Jack vividly remembered, because when he saw my phone, out of nowhere he said, "I want to play the snowball game." He giggled hysterically until his teacher's aide came out.

I walked him up to her. In what is possibly the saddest voice I have ever heard from a human being, and with tear-filled eyes, he said to her, "I want to play by myself."

She told him that was okay and he went inside with her. When he got home from school he told me, "I played by myself."

Good for him?


Quinn, ravenous and stubborn: Quinn is a different sort. Here's an example of what it's like to take him to dinner:

This is him eating everything on the table that he can find. Including bread that he has dipped in the olive oil and pepper solution on the table. You may not be able to see from this picture, but his entire forearm was entirely oiled up. He would have been a hazard to baby seals. Oh, yeah, and he thought it was honey.

He also refused to put a straw into his cup, preferring to suction the milk out through the tiny x-shaped opening where the straw is supposed to go.

Every time Quinn sees a lemon, he tries to eat it. It's as if it looks so beautiful that he thinks he must be remembering the taste wrong and this time? Well this time that gorgeous, bright yellow fruit will be tasty.

After his first (yes, there was a second) bite, he did a full-body shudder and exclaimed, "Uh, oh!" with great urgency. Then he put it back in his mouth.

Later I suggested he take another bite because it was very amusing to me and it doesn't really hurt him, and frankly, if he's dumb enough to keep eating them, then who am I to stop him? After this energetic bite, he did another of those full-body shimmies and yelled, "Ouch!" Oh, I never get tired of Quinn.

And that meatball? He picked it up and ate it like it was an apple. And if you talk to him about it, be sure to call it a "meat snowball" because that's what he thinks it is.


Sam, a total jerk opinionated and stubborn: Ah, Sam. He's such a good guy, but he can go from the nicest kid in the world (sitting in the restaurant eating ice cream) to the nastiest (pointing at Alex emphatically and yelling, "You hurt me!" when Alex put him in a time out) in about 28 seconds.

Really, it was like he was in Salem and he was accusing Alex of being a witch.

Alex was sort of humiliated, because who wants to be in a crowded (at least it was outside) location and be accused, stridently, of hurting your child? By your child? (Obviously to anyone who knows Alex, he didn't hurt Sam.)

Believe it or not it escalated from there with a full-on laying on the ground screaming tantrum. We were aghast. And all of this because he refused to come with us when we'd told him it was time to go home.

Can you guess one of the characteristics they all share?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chef Sam

It is well known that my kids don't really like to eat.*

Well, let me amend that. They don't like to eat fresh, nutritious food. Put a McNugget in front of them and they're all over it. Hot dogs? Devoured. Pizza? As long as there are no vegetables on it, it will be consumed.

Sam's getting a little bit better, but he's still really resistant to this whole healthy eating concept. New food is NOT his thing.

But then a Christmas present arrived a few days ago with a kids' cookbook and three child-sized aprons, each emblazoned with my children's names: Chef Sam, Chef Jack, and Chef Quinn. (Yep, those are actually their names. Check their birth certificates. Mine is Procrastinator Stimey.)

Within seconds of opening the gift, Sam started begging to cook. I, well, I procrastinated and told him we could cook the next day. Things came up though, and at bedtime when he reminded me that he wanted to cook, I told him we could do it the next morning, Saturday. (The dirty truth comes out: I don't really cook that often.)

The next morning Alex, Jack, and Quinn were supposed to head off to Trader Joe's while Sam and I made cream cheese danishes from the cookbook. But when Jack saw the aprons out and heard about our plans, he rebelled and insisted that he get to participate too.

We had a great time and except for the fact that I probably should have cooked the things for a couple extra minutes, the danishes were actually quite edible. Sam devoured them and Jack ate an entire half of one. Which may not sound like a lot, but for a child who claims, "I doesn't need food," it was actually quite a big deal.

By Monday Sam was itching to cook again. I had anticipated this and made sure I had the ingredients on hand to make macaroni and cheese from our new cookbook. (I know, it's sad that I have to plan ahead to have those ingredients.) He won't cook without the apron, which quite awesomely has pockets. Pockets that are perfect to put slices of cheese in. And then when your littlest brother comes into the kitchen screaming for cheese, it is a simple matter to pull said cheese slice out and hand it to him.

Anyway, we made macaroni and cheese. Both Jack and Quinn refused to eat it. (Quinn was adamantly screaming for a banana&#8212a banana that was resting at his left elbow. Somehow I don't think that was the root of his issue. I think the fact that the little tyrant refuses to nap, but is two, is the root of his issue.) So Jack and Quinn refused to eat it, but Sam ate like half a pan of it. Complete with oohs and aahs and "oh this is the best mac and cheese ever, don't you wish you could cook like this, mom"s.

My new plan is to put Sam in charge of dinner from now on. That will solve, like, four of my biggest problems.

* Do not apply this information to Quinn. In fact, just apply the opposite to him. He won't eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but he'll beg for salad or steak. That's my guy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Future Astronaut

From a pre-New Year's visit to the Maryland Science Center. Photo courtesy of my stepfather.

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Continued Luck With Car Barfing

I remember the day we got our first dog, Mango, spayed. She was a big ol' goofy rottweiler and the ride home from the vet combined with the after-effects of her sedation were not good for her. She ended up puking in my Nissan Sentra. Amazingly, from her perch on the floor of the back, she somehow managed to contain it in the cup holder in the center module.

It was extremely gross, but extremely easy to clean.

At least I assume it was, because I made Alex do it.


Lightning struck for a second time today.

I originally wrote a whole chronology of how I ended up in the car with a child I thought was faking being sick but kept home from school anyway after we'd already driven there, and then after I decided we were taking him home he practically skipped to the car, all energetic and full of vigor. But then I figured out how completely boring that is to anyone but me. I also figured out that I could give you the entire backstory in one run-on sentence.


We were on our way home from not taking Jack to preschool when he started to look blue and I pulled over hoping for a repeat of our last vomitous ride when I miraculously caught the puke in a sweatshirt before it got all over the car. But I wasn't fast enough this time. While we were still moving he leaned to the side and sprayed vomit onto the seat between him and the carseat next to his.

I did park and try to help, but we were close to home and he didn't want to move so I could clean the area, so we drove home and I took him inside before I took a deep breath and headed back out to the car. Because, really, he puked a lot. And then when he was done, he puked some more.

And because somehow he'd only gotten a smidge of it on his pants, and nowhere else on his body, I knew it was all pooled in the car waiting for me.

(I'd like to take this moment to ask if any of you ever thought you'd be responsible for so many bodily fluids that don't belong to you? I sure didn't.)

I got out my towels and did some cursory cleaning. But somehow I couldn't find it all. There was some to clean up—mostly in the seatbelt buckle, because there is no harder place to clean. But I couldn't find anything approaching what I had seen come out of my child. Where did it go? Is it in this here crevice? Is it on the floor? Is it under the booster seat? No, no, no.

This just seemed crazy. I know I saw him throw up and throw up a lot. I can smell it. Where? Is? It?!

Hey! Looky here! The cup holder on his booster seat is entirely full!

Like before: extremely gross but extremely easy to clean.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Should I Be Worried?

Found on my dining room table one morning:

I'm proud that Sam is writing and reading and all, but...

I Love All Y'all!

I'm relatively new to blogging, having only been chronicling the never-ending minutiae of my life since March 2007. Somehow I managed to get involved with an incredible group of writers over at DC Metro Moms, who put up with my daily minutiae at their site too.

I was so excited to finally meet most of them at a get-together last night at Le Chat Noir, sponsored by Graco. I've met a few of them before (once), and have known the lovely and inspirational WhyMommy since before I blogged.

I know, life before blogging. Imagine. What did I do with all of my idiotic musings then?

So it was a little weird to actually see these people in 3-D. And you know what? They were all really cool. Being someone who is plagued by social anxiety, it was an interesting phenomenon to walk into a room where a fair number of the never-before-met people in it already knew about how dirty my car is, what I think about autism and the sisterhood, and how often Quinn poops. And it was very easy to talk to all of them.

For any of you voyeurs out there, you can see pictures from the event here. I am the one dressed in the bright green sweater. Can't miss that, can ya'? The rest of these beautiful, smart, interesting women—Amie, Andrea, Devra, Joanne, Kimberly, Kristen, Linda, Nancy, Nicole, Robin, Sandie, Sarah, Stephanie, Susan, Suzie, Vickie, Victoria—and Gunfighter looked fabulous in their fantastic Baby Brewing t-shirts and/or sleek clothing. Some of 'em even wore heels. (But not Gunfighter.)

It was a wonderful night and I only wish it could have lasted longer. We missed those of you Metro Moms that didn't make it. All I hope is that we can get together again. Soon.

You'll have to excuse me now, I have some online stalking to do of my new friends.

Monday, January 7, 2008

DCMM: How I Don't Choose

This is an embarrassing post to write, especially here in the company of so many smart, informed, and politically active women and men. Here we go: I don't think my vote matters.

I vote, don't get me wrong, I vote, but I honestly believe that there's little about my vote that makes a difference.

I feel like my actions and votes make more of a difference on a local level, but when I look at the presidential race, I feel completely insignificant. I don't help decide who my candidate is; I just punch the little button by the name the others have nominated for me and maybe it gets counted.

Gunfighter's last post here brought this to the front of my mind. In it he lists his reasons and criteria for choosing his candidate. I have an opinion on every single issue he lists, but I haven't spent a whole lot of time figuring out which candidate agrees with me.

Why? Because we all know that I'm just going to vote for the Democrat that is nominated.

I remember my first presidential election. 1992 was a good year. I happily voted for Bill Clinton, and I was thrilled on election night. I felt empowered. I felt adult. I felt so excited to be part of the process.

Results haven't always been so good since.

This year I like Bill Richardson. I like Obama. I even like Edwards and Clinton. I feel okay about voting for any of them. And good thing too, because one of them (okay, not Bill Richardson) is going to be the Democratic nominee. And because I generally refuse to vote Republican on a national level—and this year I absolutely refuse to vote Republican on a national level—I'm stuck with the Democrats.

Sure there are the Independents and the Libertarians and the Green Party, but c'mon. I'd really like to see a day when those parties are viable alternatives, and the only way to make them viable is to vote for them, but for now? Keeping Mike Huckabee out of the White House is more important to me than a genuine multi-party system a few decades down the line.

I know there are other things I could do to make a difference: work on a campaign, write letters, participate in an activist movement. All that stuff is important, but frankly I just don't have the energy. That's on me, I know. That's not the system's fault.

So I'll vote, and my tiny little vote will become one of the building blocks upon which "my" candidate wins or loses.  Maybe. Al Gore or Samuel Tilden, anyone?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm Doing the Barnyard Boogie Right Now.

Let us be up front about something: I don't win things.

Oh, wait, let me alter that statement: I used to not win things.

Rick from Organized Doodles had a contest for some of his art and little ol' me won. I got to pick any illustration from his blog and I found this way back from a year ago:

It's going to look cute on Quinn's wall, huh? Sam was particularly enamored by the star-shaped glasses.

There's also a tiny egg-man hidden in the drawing. That should keep my little dudes (and maybe y'all) busy for a while.

Thanks, Rick!

Friday, January 4, 2008

So Happy to Have Boys

When I was first pregnant with my first child it felt like hundreds of people asked me, "Do you want a boy or a girl?" which is a totally lame question to have to answer. Because if you say you want a boy and you end up with a girl, then everyone thinks you're sad that you have a girl, which we all know is usually not the situation.

In my case I wanted a girl. More than I probably let on. I didn't know anything about boys. I had never known much about boy children except that they were often dirty, they didn't have ponytails (usually), and everyone claimed that their clothes weren't as cute.

For me, one of the reasons I wanted to have a girl was because I thought it would be really cool to raise her in a world that was getting more accepting of women, in a world where the glass ceiling was a little higher than it had been before. I wanted to raise a little girl who believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could do anything she wanted.

Well, if any of you have been following my life, you know that I didn't get a girl. I, in fact, have three boys. (And, honestly, I couldn't be happier. There is absolutely no part of me that is sad because I have no girls. If you've met my kids, you know why. They're pretty cool.)

But I've found out one of the advantages of having boys: I get to help raise the kind of man who respects women, who encourages women to do anything, who tries to raise that glass ceiling some more.

I don't know yet what kind of men my guys will be, but we've started the process of trying to raise respectful boys. "No means no" is such an axiom in my house that my oldest will say "no means yes" in the same way he'd say "my hair is purple" to piss his brothers off.

Early on I threatened my husband with his life if he ever said to my son, "You're the man of the house while I'm gone. Take care of your mother," or any variation thereof. (And to his credit, I probably never had to threaten him to begin with.) We're teaching them that, yes, men are strong. And women are strong too.

We try hard to give equal props to all kinds of families: moms who work, dads who work, moms and dads who work, adoptive parents, two moms, two dads, grandparents, dads who stay home, moms who stay home, and whatever else we can think of.

So I was really pleased when Sam brought home from school the book he'd chosen from the school library last week: Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne.

It's not that I think my six-year-old is a feminist because he chose this book. I'm just happy because of the teaching moment it inspired and the illustration of his character that it illuminated.

This book is about several generations of women who made a difference, each in their own way. Each woman is strong and doesn't follow the given path for women of her era.

Sam had some questions when we were done reading, and I took the opportunity to talk to him about the way women were looked at in the past, and sometimes still today.

When I told him that people used to not believe that women could do the same things men do, the look of incredulity on his face was one of the best parenting moments I've had.

There's a lot of years between now and his adulthood, but it is a wonderful thing to have a son who is old enough to talk to about feminism. It is a wonderful thing to have a son who doesn't understand why someone would think a girl can't have a job. It is a wonderful thing to have the potential to influence these boys, these boys who will grow up to be men. Men who respect women.

This is cross-posted at DC Metro Moms Blog. (Or it will be soon.)


I know this is something that has never happened to anyone else because my children are particularly aggravating, but cleaning and organizing with a two- and a four-year-old around? Dude, it totally sucks.

Because I just put that puzzle away and those marbles? See, I just put them in that bucket so they wouldn't roll all over the floor. And I put all the books on the bookshelf, big ones on the bottom, little ones on the top.

And don't you know that once I organize and put all the new Christmas toys away where they're supposed to go, you're never allowed to play with them again?

And then one of your children puts a studded belt around his neck and says, "I a dog," and it's just so cute, so you forgive him.

And then, like five minutes later, he's emptied out a box of tiny cars and you never want to speak to him again.

I hate cleaning.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Shameless Promotion Comes to Stimeyland

But I'm not promoting for myself at least. Sort of.

If any of you are workout buffs and are interested in a kick-ass workout DVD, The Fit and Fun Fitness Twins have put theirs up for sale.

It was produced by a pretty awesome videographer too.

And if you want a laugh, you can check out their commercial from this page. (Click to watch the video.) I didn't make it, but I did have a cameo. I'm the white girl.

Dr. Pukatronic, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barf

Or, how Quinn lost all his Precious Bodily Fluids. (That's "puke-a-tronic," as in, "puke all over everything.")

I was happy when I woke up this morning. Sam and Jack went to school yesterday, but today Sam, Jack, AND Quinn were going to school. I was going to have two hours all to myself. Because of co-oping at school, sick days, and vacation, it was literally mid-December since I had a morning without some little person clawing at me.

I be-bopped downstairs only to hear Alex say, "Quinn puked in his crib last night." Quinn was laying on the couch, perky as hell. Apparently he'd greeted Alex by telling him that his bed was "muddy."

Poor Alex bore the brunt of my dashed expectations. He was nice enough to stay at home with Quinn while I took Sam to school, but I was stuck dragging the little sicky to the preschool because not only did Jack have school, but on Thursdays I drive another kid there.

We were about two minutes away from the school when Quinn started to look green. We had made it inside to the hallway before Quinn threw up orange puke all over us. So there I was, kneeling on the floor, hugging Quinn and afraid to let go of him because I knew the second I did, vomit was going to splash all over the floor, and I couldn't get anyone's attention. Finally my friend rounded the corner and took pity on me.

You know you have good friends when they help you clean up someone else's vomit. Thank you, H.

So there I was, with barf literally dripping down my pant leg onto my shoes and Quinn is standing there in his t-shirt looking kind of dazed and another mom starts talking to me about her child's hat. I was completely flabbergasted. But not for too long because I beat it on out of there.

We went home and watched some TV and cuddled. All was well again. Quinn regained his perk and then I had to battle him into a sweatshirt (his coat—and mine—were in the laundry machine) and haul him out to pick up Jack and my babysittee. I successfully dropped Jack off and was on my way to drop the other kid off when Q started to look distressed.

And here's the part I'm really proud of. I pulled over, whipped the sweatshirt off of Quinn and put it in front of him before he tossed his proverbial cookies. I'm particularly proud of this because we all know that my car doesn't get cleaned very often, plus it's really hard to get all of the vomit out of car seats (trust me on this one), so I really saved myself a lot of labor here.

We went straight home and took naps. Both of us. It. Was. Awesome. Now both of us are perky.

Another good friend picked Sam up at the bus stop and walked him home so I wouldn't have to wake Quinn up from his nap and drag him out into the cold. (Thank you, L.) "I'll bill you for the frostbite," she yelled as she ran home.

So now I'm letting my kids watch TV and I'm trying to avoid thinking about what to cook them for dinner. Because I really want to choose the thing that's going to be least offensive when we find it all over Quinn's crib tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What I Learned Today at the Zoo

If you're standing next to a lady who really likes panda bears and tells you about a place in China where you can hug one, don't let your husband respond with, "They probably have worms."

Elephants have GIANT p*nises. (I don't want the people who Google "elephant p*nis" to find my blog and look at pictures of my children, thank you very much.) And when they're done with them, they curl 'em in and tuck 'em back up. Yep, that's an action urination/defecation shot. Sorry it's so gross, but, oh dear lord, it was impressive.

Armadillos run like beetles.

Shrews run really fast and are hard to capture on film. But they're cool-looking. And they seem kind of evil.

Even if you think the prairie dog is a diorama, it's probably not. Chances are he's actually alive.

Lion butts are less fun than lion faces.

There are many portable junk food items that are easy to pack for lunch. Do you see the grease?

Crocodiles are badass.

Waterfalls are fascinating.

Two Jacks are cuter than one.