Anthology of Interest I

If you set aside an hour to tidy your house and play a game of Uno with your son, don’t forget that Uno can take forever to play. It might even take 45 minutes and you might not be able to tidy your house before your playdate shows up. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. What’s more, I lost the Uno game.

But how cool that I have a child (Sam) who will happily sit and play a game with me for 45 minutes?

*****

If, as part of cooking camp, you are cooking purple playdough, and you misread the instructions on the back of the food coloring and drip red and yellow food coloring into your mix instead of red and blue, you can fix it. If you catch it before you stir it. Just scoop the yellow right out!


Ooooh, pretty purple playdough!

*****

The ants have started giving me nightmares. Literally. I dreamed last night that their living conditions had gotten so bad that they were desperate to get out and were working together to cram themselves out of the tiny air holes. And in my dream, I had to release them in my backyard.

This nightmare was brought on by the discovery of mold in their habitat. And I’m too scared to open the habitat to remove the mold because I’m afraid they’re going to try to escape again. But the mold is getting darker and grosser. Now I feel like I’m running the Gitmo of ant farms.


All you naysayers that I pish-poshed when you said I was crazy for wanting an ant farm. You may&#8212may&#8212have been right.

Nightmares. Honest to God, nightmares.

Living the Dream

You know what I like? Winning things. Especially cool things.

Like the LTDchix shirt I won at Savvy Housewife. (You can also find the Savvy Housewife at BlondeMomBlog.)

See how cool it is?


And if you look closely at the graphic, which I’ve, ahem, borrowed here, you’ll see that the picture on the shirt could actually be of me and my family.


That’s Quinn throwing the soccer ball, Sam grimacing about some perceived injustice, and Jack in the back seat plotting about world domination and brandishing a hockey stick and a baseball bat.

And I’m driving the minivan with my hair askew.

Totally. Living. The. Dream.

Like the shirt? You can find it at LTDchix.com and at their Cafe Press shop. And if you want 15% off any t-shirt, hurry over to LTDchix.com and enter coupon code “14blog”.

Thank you, BlondeMom and LTDchix!

I’m Trying to Create Some Buzz

Oooooh! Ooooooh! Can barely talk! So excited! My swag came! My swag came! The giveaways that I’ll be handing out at BlogHer came today. SQUEEEEEE!!!!!

When I saw the box on my doorstep tonight I had just one thought: “Oh please don’t let them look lame.” (They are SO not lame.)

And, oh, they’re even better than I could have hoped. They even won over my biggest skeptic (Alex), who thought I was a bloody raving lunatic for paying for giveaways to hand out to strangers at a blogging convention all the way across the country. (Alex, we crossed the lunacy bridge a looooong time ago.)

After I opened the box and saw them I had many more thoughts, including a long (well, not too long, they just came today) internal struggle as to whether to show you what they are.

On one hand, surprises are awesome. Who doesn’t love surprises?

On the other hand, maybe if I show you all some photos, by the time BlogHer rolls around, the buzz will have built to a frenzy and I’ll be overrun by fellow bloggers wanting to get some of my swag. And consequently reading my blog.

Then it occurred to me that Sarah showed us her swag last year before BlogHer and I still want one of her bottle openers. And frankly, if Sarah jumped off of a cliff, I would be all, “Hey, can I get in on that?” because Sarah is just that cool.

And then I thought, well ShallowGal already told us she’s getting us all toasters. (Seriously, if I don’t get a toaster, there’s going to be hell to pay. I’m not kidding around here. It’s not nice to tease.)

So I decided that I’ll jump on that bandwagon and show you the swag, but you’re going to have to work for it. So, without further ado:

Which of the following do you think Stimey will be passing out at BlogHer ’08?

a) A baseball cap?


b) A foam finger with my current Technorati rank on it?


c) A stress ball?


d) A plastic beer mug?


e) A keychain?


f) A luggage tag? A kick ass, adorable, useful for conventioneers LUGGAGE TAG?!


Now go. Create buzz.

*****

Answer key:
a) Not hats. Too bulky. And too expensive. (Not like toasters. Those are almost free, I hear.)
b) Not foam fingers. Too “Hey, I have a crappy Technorati rank!”
c) Not stress balls. I need all of those for myself.
d) Not plastic beer mugs. I don’t need to be buying all the drinks. Mostly because I spent all of my money on swag.
e) Not keychains. ‘Cause I’d lose ‘em before I left DC. And I’d have to be all, “Now where did I put my 200 sets of keys? Alex, did you move my 200 sets of keys?”
f) Awesome luggage tags? Oh, hell yeah.

Holes

We abandoned Camp Stimey just for the day today because we were too busy. The dudes all had preschool camp and then Sam had a dentist appointment. Because he has two “holes” in his “permanent molars.”

Well, fuck and double fuck. I couldn’t quite believe it when the dentist gave me this information a couple of weeks ago at his checkup. I also thought it strange that she didn’t use the word “cavity.”

Sam was a champ. Although apparently his tongue was a bit mischievous. The dentist had to chastise it a couple of times for moving around too much. She also had to chastise me for staring at the blue light she shone in his mouth. Something about going blind if I looked at it too much.

But I just couldn’t help it. I felt that I needed to watch Sam super closely in hopes that I could absorb any discomfort he felt. Because those “holes”? Those were my fault, not his. He’s six. He’s not yet the one responsible for checking to make sure he’s sufficiently brushed.

I had one of those acute “I wish it were me in the chair” parenting moments.

But I don’t think it hurt him, and the dentist was the coolest. She showed him all the tools before she started, and let him touch them. She warned him what he was going to feel before she did anything. And she gave him a rest between holes.

And then, after I paid and was getting ready to leave, she said, “If you get a notice from your insurance company that you owe more money, disregard it. We’re not going to bill you more.” Gah?

Anyone need a dentist? ‘Cause mine rocks. You may even run into us because we’re going to be there a lot&#8212every six months for the rest of our lives. I’ve been scared straight. No more cavities! Or holes.

And then I took Sam out for ice cream. (Guilty much?)

DCMM: Camp Here and Now

When I looked at my summer and saw weeks and weeks of empty squares on the calendar, I panicked. Then I calmed down and told myself it wouldn’t be that bad. Then I had all three kids home for a day and it was an unmitigated disaster. So I panicked again. Then I came up with a plan.

The plan is to create “camp” at home for my three kids all by myself. The idea first took root one afternoon when a friend and neighbor sent me a semi-joking email about “Camp Here and Now” that would be made up of her kids and mine and would take place in our driveways. I thought it was an excellent idea and have followed it to its extreme, Jean-style conclusion.

I’ve chosen a theme for each week, starting with “Cooking Camp” this week and ending with “The Olympics” at the end of August.

This isn’t just to fill up days. My children do better in a structured environment. If left without a plan they get antsy and argumentative. I don’t need that. And I certainly can’t afford to send three kids to day camp all summer. We do need to eat. And buy gas.

But that’s not the only reason. After much hemming and hawing and a lot of freaking out and questioning myself, the system, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I finally decided to send my autistic son, Jack, to kindergarten next year. And he needs some work before he walks into that classroom in late August.

He needs to learn to sit in circle time. (It worked today). He needs to learn to follow directions. (It didn’t work today.) He needs to learn that if a teacher tells him to do a project, he needs to do it. (Again, success!)

My hope is that with eight weeks of pseudo-camp under his belt, he might be a little better prepared than if he walked in having aimlessly played all summer.

I also think my kids (and I) will have more fun at Camp Here and Now than they would have if I just let summer pass us by. With theme weeks such as Mini Golf/Bowling Camp, Science & Nature Camp, Sports Camp, and Boot Camp (Oh, I’m going to enjoy playing sergeant that week!), how can I go wrong?

We’re going to go on field trips to the zoo, to a minor league baseball game, to nature centers, to golf courses, and so much more. We’re going to make macaroni necklaces and have bowling tournaments at our house. We’re going to invite friends over for afternoon recess in our wading pool.

So thanks to my friend who gave me the idea (and who will be granted charter membership), and welcome to any campers in the area who want to join us. Camp Here and Now is always looking for camp counselors too. The more the merrier. And I promise not to charge you so much tuition that you can’t afford to buy food.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Find out how Cooking Camp, Day One and the rest of Camp Here and Now goes at Stimeyland.

Art & Dinner From the Same Ingredients

Well, gee, I am so glad to see that you all like my summer camp plan. I was a little nervous that I would get some, “You’re a crazy, overscheduling mother. Why don’t you let your kids just be kids?” comments. Although as I have never gotten a nasty comment (yet), I don’t know why I thought this particular crazy scheme would be a lightning rod.

So without further ado, I present: Macaroni Day!

Today’s camp was shortened due to preschool camp in the morning and a birthday party in the afternoon. Basically what Macaroni Day consisted of today was a circle time in the morning and an art project in the afternoon.

But it was a hell of an art project.


And we had guest campers.

If you like making a mess and having fun, give a bunch of kids some pasta, some paper, and a lot of glue.

Do the math: 5 kids + 7 bottles of glue ÷ negligent parenting = giant puddles of glue.

At one point Jack was pretending his bowtie pasta were boats and he sank them in his river of glue. Like, sank them. As in, couldn’t see them anymore, because the river was so deep and the current was so swift. Those bottles up there? They’re largely empty now.

This art is going to take a while to dry.

But these five kids (and my friend L) made some excellent macaroni art. See:


(Click to enlarge if you must.) Sorry, L, but I think Sam’s is the best. In case you can’t tell, it’s a train.

After L and her family left, I got set to make the tacos I had planned. (Mental note: I will always be too tired at the end of the day to involve my children in dinner preparation. I am barely capable of making dinner myself, why do I think I’ll be patient enough to bring three little dudes into it? Group cooking will be for breakfast, lunch, and/or snack only from now on.)

And then I was all, “Why am I making tacos tonight? Why am I not making pasta?” So I dumped all the leftover pasta in boiling water (I did have to fish out a smidge of glue) and threw some spaghetti sauce over it. Voila!

Sam declared it “stupendously excellenty.”

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Cooking Camp, Day One

When I looked at my summer and saw weeks and weeks of empty squares on the calendar, I panicked. Then I calmed down and told myself it wouldn’t be that bad. Then I had all three kids home for a day and it was an unmitigated disaster. So I panicked again. Then I came up with a plan.

The plan is to create “camp” at home for my three kids all by myself. I’ve chosen a theme for each week, starting with “Cooking Camp” today and ending with “The Olympics” at the end of August.

This isn’t just to fill up days. It’s also to keep Jack in the school mentality and to keep teaching him skills he’s going to need in kindergarten—things like sitting during circle time and doing the projects the person in charge asks him to do.

So I let my kids futz around this morning until they started getting antsy. Once the first argument broke out, I convened circle time to distract them and explained what we were going to do. Then I read Green Eggs and Ham because it’s one of about six books we own that is marginally about food.

Jack asked if we could make a schedule, and I figured if it’s part of his IEP (it is, and his special ed teacher used one last year), there must be a reason for it. So we wrote down a schedule:


Seems full for a summer day? Yeah, I’m not fucking around here. We’re having camp, for real.

Don’t worry, we’ll have lots of free time and fun too. I promise.

We started by making collages from pictures of food we cut out from magazines I am recycling. I never imagined that all three of them would happily sit and glue pictures to a paper for 45 minutes. But they DID!


(Please turn away from the giant wet spot on the tablecloth. Apparently there was an accident at breakfast.)

It turns out that to make Sam behave, you just have to make him believe that he’s in school.

“I’m the hardest working guy in the class!” he said proudly, showing off his collage.

Things went swimmingly until I tried to get Jack to sign his paper. He insisted he was Kung Fu Panda and refused to write his own name.

He kept asking, “How do you spell ‘Kung Fu Panda’?” I told him that I would tell him after he wrote his own name. But the determined little jackass just sounded out the words.

He wrote a K and then asked, “How do you spell ‘ung’?”

Then, “What makes the nnnn sound? N or M? N! What makes the gggg sound? G or Q? G!”

Then the little bastard wrote the whole damn thing by himself. And put an exclamation point at the end. So much for forcing him to conform to the ways of school.

You’ve won this round, Kung Fu Panda. But the war is yet to be decided.


The little dudes had an afternoon playdate at A‘s house and I went to the grocery store. Then we went to karate and came home all ready to complete Cooking Camp, Day One by working together to make homemade macaroni & cheese.

And then I seriously ran out of steam. So I’m making macaroni & cheese from a box. Yep, we managed to have a full day of cooking camp without actually preparing food as a group. (Having a kid stick his entire arm in the peanut butter jar to “get a lick” of peanut butter while I’m making sandwiches for lunch doesn’t count.)

Wish me luck for Cooking Camp, Day Two. We’re planning on making macaroni art and tacos.