Team Cheetah Goes to the Zoo

Ever since school started I have been trying to get Sam’s kindergarten teacher let me volunteer for her.

She has steadfastly deflected me at every turn.

So here we are in the home stretch, end of April, and the kids have a field trip to the zoo. I figure there is no way I can figure out how to get the morning without my own kids in order to chaperone, so I didn’t even bother trying. And then Ms. S called me and asked if I could come on the field trip as a chaperone.

I guess after begging to volunteer all year I sort of had to chaperone, right? Alex kindly agreed to work from home and shuttle the littler dudes around this morning while I jumped on a school bus for the first time since I was three feet tall.

It turns out that the way field trips work at this particular school is that the teachers sucker four or five parents into chaperoning. Then they assign two to four kids to each chaperone and give them a list of things to do/see/photograph. Then the teachers disappear for two and half hours. It’s quite a scam.

My kids and I decided to call ourselves Team Cheetah. Unfortunately, there were no cheetahs to be seen today at the National Zoo. Here’s Team Cheetah before we found that out (Sam insisted his identity be concealed along with his teammates.):


Here’s Team Cheetah after we searched in vain for our little spotted namesakes:


Then the cute little girl in the pink tracksuit tried to run away from me, only coming back to beg for ice cream. This continued for the rest of the day. Consequently, this is the only photo I have of her where I am not clutching her hand.

On the other hand, she did forget her lunch and didn’t like the sandwich in her donated lunch, so I got to eat it. That was cool.

We didn’t learn quite as many fun things as on our last trip to the zoo, but it was actually a lot of fun. No one threw up, no one got lost, no one had a bathroom accident, and no one got any ice cream.

Almost a perfect trip.

Why Do Memes and Awards Always Come in Bunches?

First up is a meme from Joeymom. It’s the Five Things Meme. Here I go!

5 things found in your bag:
1. One diaper. Hopefully that will end soon. Although I suppose then I’ll be dragging extra pants around for awhile. (Quinn’s. Not mine.)
2. Diaper wipes. How did I live without these when I didn’t have kids? I’m going to keep these in my bag forever.
3. My wallet.
4. A thingy that holds all my gift cards. I tend to forget that this exists when I’m actually in the establishments for which I have gift cards.
5. A notebook to capture ideas for blogging.

5 favorite things in your room:
I don’t think I have 5 favorite things in my bedroom. I don’t spend a whole lot of time there. My least favorite thing is a giant (GIANT) wooden sculpture of an eagle that Alex accidentally bought while we lived in Alaska. My favorite thing? Maybe Alex. Maybe.

5 things you have always wanted to do:
1. Raise happy kids
2. Become a real-life mountain climber
3. Be happy with my body image
4. Run a marathon
5. Through-hike the Appalachian Trail
(Do you see a theme here?)

5 things you are currently into:
1. My little dudes
2. Napping
3. Blogging
4. Coveting books to read, and the time to read those books
5. Double Trouble crossword puzzles
(See another theme here?)

5 people I want to tag:
I don’t think I really want to tag anyone. Please feel free to tag yourself if you so desire!

*****

Next up is KC of Where’s My Cape? I am supposed to share 5 songs I am embarrassed to admit to others that I like and tell why.

At first I thought that I would not be able to come up with enough embarrassing songs because my musical taste is so awesome. (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Johnny Cash, I’m looking at you.) But it turns out that once I really started thinking about it, there were many, many songs I like that embarrass me.

We’ll start out with Gordon Lightfoot. Pretty much anything he sings qualifies for awesome but embarrassing. I’ve been known to belt Gord’s Gold at the top of my lungs over and over. I even saw the man himself in concert once. I blame my mom for this.

I’m going to royally piss off my friend C in Montana with this one, but I am embarrassed to admit that I love Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day. Calm down, C. I’m not saying that Green Day is embarrassing. I’m just saying that even you’ll have to admit that this song has been sort of done to death. Interestingly, Green Day played in my co-op house when I was in college. Then they got famous.

Next we have Beautiful by Christina Aguilera. I love this song, but you will never catch me playing it outside of my house.

This one’s not embarrassing, although maybe I should be ashamed that when it first came out I sang it to myself for a week straight: I’m Fucking Matt Damon. Also fun, but less catchy, is I’m Fucking Ben Affleck. Really I’m just pleased to be putting these links on my blog.

I’ve saved the best for last. Sinead O’Connor is not exactly the coolest singer in the world. But Nothing Compares 2 U is an excellent song. So says I. Cut me some slack. Prince wrote it. (If you are my old college chum S, and you are reading this right now, I know just what you are thinking of right now. It starts with a “Chaz” and end with a “t-shirt”.)

*****

And for the award: I am one in a tremendously long list of people who care about the wonderful Slouching Mom and who had this award bestowed on them. You make our day too, Sarah.

There. No There. A Little to the Left. Too Far. Let’s Try Where It Was the First Time Again.

Lately Quinn has been a screaming, shrieking nightmare at bedtime. Literally.

He hates going to bed and lets us know this with a vehemence known only to toddlers. There are days we’ve had to hold him in the room with one hand and close the door with the other. We’ve had to lock his door with him inside. We’ve had to put furniture in front of the door.*

Don’t worry, we always open up his escape routes after he falls asleep, but I still feel a little like I’m scarring him forever. Like he’ll grow up with intense claustrophobia and not know why except for the fact that he has vague memories of pounding on a door blocked by a changing table.

It’s completely horrible. For him too. Ha ha.

I think that a big part of the reason he hates bedtime so much is that he is separated from his brothers, who share a room. I think this because before bed every night he asks if he can sleep in Sam and Jack’s room.

Being the problem solver that I am, I asked him if he’d like to move his bed into their room. He was beyond delighted. Sam was also delighted. Sam was so delighted that on Saturday morning he managed to drag Quinn’s toddler bed, mattress and all, out of Quinn’s room and into the hallway.

We eventually moved it the rest of the way and that night, all three kids went to bed together. There was some initial chatting and bickering, but then things seemed to be calming down.

Until, that is, Quinn came out of the room saying he was afraid. I told him he had nothing to be afraid of and sent him back.

About an hour later, Sam came out to tell me that Quinn needed me.

I found him in his bed, under his blanket, with his pillow over his head, and only a tiny smidge of his anxious face peering out from underneath. He was so hot he had sweated through his pajamas and I seriously thought he had spiked an astronomical fever.

I took his temperature (normal) and sat with him outside to cool him down. Then I let him sleep on the couch.

Needless to say, today we moved his bed back to his room. Because what’s a weekend without some furniture rearranging?

Remind me to find my noise canceling headphones before bedtime.

* It’s not as mean as it sounds. Please don’t call the authorities on me.

DCMM: Making a Spectacle of Myself…Again

It started out looking promising. When I walked into karate class this afternoon for my oldest son’s graduation to gold belt, my two-year-old was sleeping on my shoulder and my four-year-old had promised to be good. Plus I had a bag full of books and toys to keep them busy.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

Almost immediately after I found a good seat in the front row, a fast-moving fan woke the toddler up, my four-year-old completely forgot about my bribe of pizza for dinner if he was good, and no one wanted to read quietly. It went downhill from there.

It would have been hard for any parent to keep two kids contained in a a 4′x4′ space for 45 minutes, but I felt a little like the deck was stacked against me. First of all, my two-year-old is…well, he’s two. And Jack, my four-year-old, is autistic.

I don’t consider Jack’s autism to be an excuse for bad behavior any more than I consider being two to be an excuse. It sheds some light on why he is acting the way he is, but he still has to follow the rules. Unfortunately, whereas being two is an obvious thing, Jack’s autism is largely an invisible disability.

I don’t think I have it much harder than anyone else. Every child has their issues and every parent faces unique challenges when trying to keep them occupied in public. I don’t think I deserve any extra sympathy for having an autistic child.

It’s just that sometimes I get tired of being a spectacle when I’m out with my kids. I often feel like I’m the only mom acting like she’s herding cats. It seems that I am constantly barking orders. I don’t think I’ve had the three of them out with me together recently that I haven’t broken a sweat trying to keep them contained.

I’m tired of having to thank the people sitting to my left and my right for their tolerance and having to apologize to the people behind me for my children’s squirminess, rocking, stimming, and random shouts of, “Shake it up!”

I tend to not mention Jack’s autism in situations like the one at karate. It would be all too easy to say, “I’m sorry, he’s autistic,” and have that explain the situation. But I don’t want Jack to hear me apologizing for his autism, nor do I feel like I should. I’m proud of who he is, autism and all.

I adore Jack’s quirkiness. He’s fun and he makes me laugh and he gives the best “squeeze hugs” known to humankind.

But sometimes I just wish that my kids and I could sit quietly and let another family take over the role of “spectacle.”

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean also blogs at Stimeyland.

The Museum of Modern Sam

There was an exhibit at one of our local malls this week featuring artwork by select kids from area schools. That’s Sam’s gorgeous selection to the left.

We toured the exhibition after a semi-disastrous stop at the museum cafe, otherwise known as Sbarro.

Sam was pretty proud. As was I.

Incidentally, a complete stranger passing by convinced him to pose this way.

The New Purple $5 Bill & Other Things…

I found this:


in my pocket and I was all ready to call the authorities to let them know that I had been passed counterfeit money by either the most incompetent or the most carefree counterfeiters ever. Then I checked the internet only to find that the government is adding purple to our $5 bills.

I got nothing against purple, but really?

And, um, did I commit a federal crime by putting my money in a scanner/copier?

*****

Discussing Autism says I’m one of the best autism blogs! I would like to say thank you and also to stagger around a little bit because of the excellent company I am in.

*****

Parenting really IS awesome:

“I love my mother because she cooks me good food. She also plays games with me. My mother is very beautiful.”

My Feet Hurt.

Sam was allowed to participate in the science fair, which was tonight.

The up-side: Hooray! Happy Sam!

The down-side: We had to attend the science fair tonight.

See Sam educating the masses?


Sam’s project was one of only four done by kindergartners at his school. We were able to hang out near Sam’s project as long as Jack was distracted by the pencil sharpener hanging on the wall nearby and Quinn was distracted by trying to tackle Jack.

Seriously. Who raised these kids? Wrestlers?

The 3rd through 5th graders (who were required to do projects) had their projects in the cafeteria. We spent about five minutes in there before I realized my kids were going to level the place. Even with that quick realization, by the time we walked out of there, Quinn had absconded with somebody’s tape measure. He said he remembered which table it came from. I hope he was right. Otherwise, some third grader with a science project about velocity scored a free tape measure.

By the way, never go to an elementary school science fair as the only adult with a group consisting of a kindergartner, a 2-year-old, and an autistic 4-year-old. Blerg.

They did have fun though. Although the most fun I had was when we got home and I convinced my kids that they were making the headlights of the car flash by tapping on them. When in reality I was locking the car with my key over and over, causing the headlights to flash each time I clicked the button.

I let this go on for a good five minutes before I fessed up. I am hilarious. Or delirious. I’m not sure it matters.