Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking Action Makes Me Happy

I've been avoiding writing about how Jack is doing at kindergarten. I've been trying to process how things are going and what we need to do, and just pretending that the giant elephant isn't standing in the middle of the room.

Instead, hey! Can I tell you about the weather? It rained, ya know? And there was this day that my dog had to go to the vet. Maybe I could itemize the bill for you? Or maybe tell you about the night that I actually cooked dinner?

And what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, the elephant there.

Jack is struggling. Jack needs more support. Sigh. I kinda wish he was still in preschool. Double sigh. We called an IEP meeting, which is scheduled for next week, and I'm hoping the good will of Jack's team (and our newly hired educational attorney) will translate into what he needs to help him be successful.

Now, how 'bout that weather?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Think I May Have Given Up

When I woke up this morning, I tried to look at my watch, but it was facing away from me on my wrist and I would have had to use my other arm to twist it back around. So I decided I didn't need to know what time it was.

Even though I badly need to shower, I know that I'm just going to have to do it again tomorrow, and it's not like I'm planning to leave my house today, so I decided I could just live without it today.

I keep my medicine in a lockbox by my bed so my kids don't get into it and overdose. This morning it seemed too hard to open it, so I decided that taking my anti-depressant every day can't be entirely essential. I have a sneaking suspicion that this may be an incorrect assumption.

I wandered downstairs to find two of my three kids still wearing just underpants. Eh?

My brand new cold makes me sound terribly sick, so I haven't cleared my throat yet. My hope is that I'll sound terribly pathetic and maybe garner some sympathy from Alex. He hasn't noticed yet.

Sam just ratted Alex out. Apparently he hasn't fed them and has had Sam do his bidding all morning. I think Alex may have given up too. Wait. They just wandered by eating cookies. Yep, he's given up too.

I was about to call my friend who just got back from vacation, but I was trying to think what time it is at her house. She, incidentally, lives three houses away from me.

My mom, who is living in Africa right now, just sent me an email: "Why doesn't the little map on your blog show a red dot on west equitorial Africa? You have a fan there who looks at your blog at least once or twice a day. Am I not a person!? Am I not human?" First, are you getting a glimpse of what made me? Second, I think Feedjit has given up too. I told her I would let the internet know that Africa is reading. Internet, Africa is reading.

The number one clue that I've given up might just be that I've put this drivel on the internet. No, I think the antidepressant thing is number one. This is number two.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away

The plan was simple. We would all drive to Alex's motorcycle dealer's shop, where he would pick up his bike. Then he would ride and I would drive to Costco. Then we would go home. (ETA: It's not actually our motorcycle shop. It's where Alex takes his bike when it breaks. Or needs service. Or whatever. Because he we don't know how to fix motorcycles.)

It didn't rain on the way up, but the storm clouds looked threatening.

"I predict that as soon as I get on my bike it will start raining," Alex said. "Then it will stop when we get to Costco, only to start raining again while I'm riding home."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha," I said.

We picked up the motorcycle and guess what happened?

I asked the little dudes if they thought Alex was wet.

Jack said he thought that yes, Alex was wet. Sam said that since Alex was wearing a coat, his clothes were wet, but underneath, he was dry. I thought that my seat warmer was making my butt too hot.

I think Jack was right.

Yep. Jack was right. Here is Alex when we arrived at Costco just as the rain stopped.

I can't speak to what the weather was like while we were in Costco, but I am assuming that the clouds parted, revealing smiley face sunbeams and rainbows with unicorns prancing on them. At the very least it wasn't raining when we stepped out of the doors.

As we walked to the car, it started to drizzle again. "It's starting to rain," commented Sam.

And it was. True to his prediction, Alex had been on his motorcycle during the most torrential rains of the day so far.

Moral of the story: If you're smart enough to predict the weather, you might want to be smart enough to plan weather-appropriate activities. Or at least wear your rain gear.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

That'll Teach Her to Run and Jump and Play

Because I'm tired of bitching about the chaos of kindergarten, I will instead bitch about the fact that my DOG cost me nearly THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS today because she CHIPPED A NAIL.

Well, I guess it was a little bit more than that. Last night I noticed her obsessively licking her back paw. I didn't even want to look at the foot because I could sense the prohibitive cost in my future. But I did. And her nail quick was entirely exposed.

Here's the thing about Cassidy. She doesn't care for vets. And not in a "I'm going to be grouchy and maybe cower in the corner" kind of way.

Her way of hating the vet is more of a, "the flourescent orange 'CAUTION' sticker on her chart wasn't enough, nor was the bright red 'MAY BITE' sticker, so they had to go ahead and put a neon green 'WILL BITE' sticker on her chart" way.

And on that WILL BITE sticker is a handwritten note that says, "sensitive about paws."

See where I'm going with this?

A foot injury on Cassidy is not just a matter of an office visit, antibiotics, and a bandage. I know because she regularly injures her feet. It's weird.

Cassidy requires an office visit, a day of boarding, sedation, blood work, and two prescriptions.

And a bandage in a bag 'cause it's raining.

Poor girl. I think she had a sucky day too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Don't Know. I've Never Met James.

One great thing I've noticed about Jack since he's been going to kindergarten is that he's been asking more questions. The quantity and variety of questions he asks has vastly increased. I'm thoroughly enjoying the improvement. For several reasons.

From the mouth of Jack on the way to OT this afternoon:

James is in my class.

Is he a human?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One of Those Days: A Timeline of Minor Annoyances and Downright Failure

My day was going great until...

8:15 a.m.: Jack freaks out because he has to return his library book at school today. He is absolutely not down with that. Tears and yelling ensues.

9 a.m.: Sam and Jack are at school. For no discernible reason, Quinn starts yelling at me, "I don't like ya'! I don't like ya'!"

9:50-10:05 a.m.: I'm driving to a park that I've been to dozens of times and drive an entire mile past my turnoff. I struggle through a traffic jam clusterfuck before I realize that I'm nowhere near where I'm supposed to be.

10:15 a.m.: We arrive at the park. Quinn immediately demands to eat lunch.

11:05 a.m.: Quinn insists that the tree he is banging a stick on is his. No other kids are to come near it. I edge closer to him in case he decides to take action against the small befuddled child trying to bang a stick on the same tree.

1:43 p.m.: A FedEx box completely defeats me. I rip it to shreds to get at the contents inside.

2:00 p.m.: I decide to make apple crisp with the apples Quinn picked at the apple orchard yesterday. I'm past the point of no return when I realize we don't have any stick butter in my entire house. In fact, all we have are scrapings from a tub of spreadable butter. I collect 1/2 cup of spreadable butter and wonder how it will affect a recipe that asks for 1/3 cup of stick butter.

2:12 p.m.: I'm on the phone with Ruby Tuesday when I give up entirely and let Quinn eat a chunk of brown sugar.

2:15 p.m.: Having elicited promises of gift cards from Ruby Tuesday, I get off the phone and take away the sugar.

2:16 p.m.: Quinn objects.

3:20 p.m.: A neighbor takes Sam right after school for a playdate. Things are looking up!

4:50 p.m.: On the walk back from picking Sam up, Quinn falls and wonks his head on our sharp wooden porch steps.

7:10 p.m.: I walk in circles around the house trying to get away from my kids, all of whom are trying to talk to me. I am on the phone with Jack's aide, who is calling from home to give me advice. I am also trying to take notes in my own communication notebook. My frantic finger waving does nothing to stop my children.

7:30 p.m.: It's bedtime for Team Stimey. Because Sam had a playdate, karate, dinner, and then chase Mom in circles around the house time, tonight bedtime is known as Sam Starts His Homework Time.

7:55 p.m.: Sam takes 16 years to read his assigned book.

8:07 p.m.: Sam finishes his homework.

8:08 p.m.: I check out for the night.

But, hey. It could have been worse.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I've Never Cared For the Word "Belly"...

...but it turns out that belly dancing is all kinds of fun.

Not that those two things have anything to do with each other.

When Devra invited DC Metro Moms Blog writers to a party celebrating the opening of her (and Goon Squad Sarah's) fitness trainer Vionna's studio, I just read the evite as far as "wine with no whine."

I was in.

I was aware that the evite mentioned belly dancing, but I sort of figured I would stand over next to the wine and laugh and take photos of those who chose to belly dance.

This was not how this particular shindig was set up. We were allowed some wine and chat and then our hosts forced us into belly dancing gear. Most of the ladies picked up normal waist scarves. I picked up some fancy red, floor-length number that I needed help getting into. I didn't take a photo, mostly because I'm pretty sure I looked entirely ridiculous.

But it was okay, because belly dancing itself was outrageously fun. The instructor, Shaylah, was kind and gentle and fun and worked the hell out of us. I had been feeling guilty for not working out that day. But after I broke into a sweat, I felt my guilt slip away.

Besides Sarah and Devra, Whymommy and some other friends were there. And I finally got to meet Sue from My Party of 6. It was a lot of fun.

Be sure to check out Vionna's new studio, Hot Mama Fitness Studio, in Bethesda. This Saturday they are having a full day of free sample classes. It looks like a lot of fun. And please check out all the kinds of events Shaylah does. I think she and her fancy belly dancing scarves could add some fun to any night.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gerbil Deathwatch Hot Potato

You may be aware that I'm fond of pet-sitting gerbils. Gerbils. (I had an extra link.)

But no matter how much I love the little guys, I still get nervous that I'm going to unintentionally kill them. Or just preside over their natural death.

(Can you believe how many posts I've written about gerbils? And isn't "gerbil" a funny word? Say it a few times in a row: "Gerbil, gerbil, gerbil, gerbil." It loses all meaning doesn't it? It turns right into gibberish. Or "gerbilish," if you will.)

Nonetheless, Quinn loves his class gerbil, Daisy, so we brought her home this weekend for a visit.

My anxiety about Daisy's survival was upped when the teacher told us at back-to-school night that gerbils live for three years.

And Daisy is three years old.

That's why I signed up to bring her home early in the year. I figure if I bring her home in May, I'm just pushing my luck. It's like we're playing Gerbil Deathwatch Hot Potato and I don't want to be the one caught holding the potato. Which, in this case, would be a dead gerbil.

I'm not going to point fingers, but we all remember who Daisy's predecessor was staying with *cough*Momma Hu*cough* when she kicked the bucket.

(Oh, I guess I did point my finger. I hope Momma Hu stays my friend even after I publicly out her as a gerbil killer the person unfortunate enough to be pet-sitting when the rodent died.)

All weekend long I've been carefully watching Daisy when she sleeps to make sure that she is breathing.

And yesterday, when I saw this, my heart kinda stopped.

Seriously. What kind of gerbil sleeps like that?!

I leaned in close and saw her foot twitching. She lives!

Only 12 more hours to go until I can take her back to school.

Hang in there, Daisy. Hang in there.

EDITED ON MONDAY TO ADD: She made it! I delivered a live gerbil to Quinn's teacher this morning. Thank God.

Warning: Cliche Ahead

There are not enough hours in the day.

I'm starting to believe that this particular cliche is true. I have always been a busy person. In fact, I'm much happier if I'm busy. (Let's not look at that too hard—I'm sure I'm overcompensating for some inner turmoil by over scheduling, but that's a whole other post. And that post involves antidepressants.)

Even though I've always been busy, however, I have never not been able to somehow fit everything in. I've always been able to shuffle things around and reorganize my time so that the pieces come together and I have enough time.

But lately, I haven't been able to do that. No matter how much I shuffle, no matter how much I rearrange, no matter how late I stay up, there are just not enough hours in the day.

I am always behind.

And I'm starting to get stressed about it. Which is defeating my whole "I'm happier when I'm busy" thing, and just sort of generally pissing me off.

I've been working very hard over the past six months or so to eradicate unnecessary responsibilities from my life, but somehow it just still is not enough.

I've even found myself blogging less, partly because I don't have time to do or think blog-worthy things, and partly because I don't have time to write. And that bums me out, because I have re-discovered over the course of the past year and a half that I really love to write.

I'm not overly distressed about this. I mean, sure, some days I want to hang myself*, but most days I do fine. It's just that there's always a layer in me worrying about the to-do list in my head.

Really, I'm mostly trying to hang on for two more years until Quinn goes to kindergarten. I am working hard to convince myself that I'll be able to Get Shit Done then. And I'll have time to read actual books in the evening.

But until then, I'd really appreciate four or five more hours per day. And I'd like them added in the evening. After the kids go to bed.

* Kidding.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

When Did We Get So Lazy?

On my Google Reader home page:

"Tips and tricks:
You can hit the space key to page down and/or move to the next item. This way you can move through your reading list by using only a single finger."

Well, it's about damn time. Because, frankly, this business of using more than one finger or, God forbid, both hands was getting old.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lessons & Kudos, Preceded by a Lame Title

1. Sam is teaching my other kids math. Maybe that's how Jack learned to read at age four. And maybe that's what they're doing late at night in their room when they're supposed to be asleep. (Right.)

Sam conducted class today during homework time, complete with student participation. Quinn did poorly, but Jack got the right answers.

Evidently I am no longer needed. I am so out of here.

2. Apparently I am uncomfortable enough with posting photos of my children wearing only undergarments, that I feel the need to digitally, and nearly unnoticeably (Again, right), clothe them.

3. A baggie full of these...

...awakens strong memories of grade school in me.

4. Quinn's loyalty can be easily won (by others). And lost (by me). I learned this today when Quinn decided he loved the lady sitting next to me on the playground more than he loved me. Why? Because her picnic blanket was soft and fuzzy, and mine was smooth. He made quite a little scene showing his devotion to the other-blanket dwellers.

5. Jack is hitting a lot at school. I'm really upset by this. I had him write a note of apology this afternoon after school to give to his teacher. He doesn't like to write anymore, but it turns out that if you make him, he has decent hand control. And he can write really small if he has to. And he knows how to correctly use contractions. (I had written out "I AM SORRY..." for him to copy.)

6. Don't think about it, just do it. I followed a twitter link to a post by Workout Mommy. I followed her advice and squeezed in a quick workout this afternoon. I'm so happy I did. I'm trying to get back into exercising, and today was a good start. Because 25 minutes is better than zero minutes.

That is a lot of lessons in one day. This next lesson is actually from the other day and is not actually a lesson. It is more of a kudo. To myself. Please give me some latitude.

7. My Launchfest post was quoted in the Washington Post's Express. I tried to link to the PDF, but I am not clever enough to do so. You'll have to trust me. They reprinted one sentence in the BlogWatch section and wrote that I had a "less than stellar time." Ha, ha. Get it? Stellar? 'Cause it was a space event? And, dammit, why didn't I make that pun in my post? Thanks to Elaine for tipping me off. Edited to Add: Kate at The Big Piece of Cake found the link. Thanks, Kate!

Ooooh, oooh, more kudos!

8. I cannot be trusted to do such simple things as pass on awards. Thank you to the lovely and talented Motherbumper, Catnip, and Whirlwind for these fabulous compliments.

That they gave me weeks and weeks ago.

I am too inadequate to pass these on right now. Does that make me less kick ass and brilliant?

The end.

Monday, September 15, 2008

DCMM: The New Ball and Chain

When I was in elementary school, there were two phone numbers in my file: my home number and my mom's work number. If the school needed to get in touch with my mom and she wasn't sitting next to one of those (non-cordless) phones, they were out of luck. They couldn't even leave a message because we didn't have an answering machine.

Wow. I think I just admitted that I am older than time.

Flash forward 25 a few years, and my kids' schools have no fewer than four phone numbers for them—and at least two e-mail addresses. If the school needs me, they can reach me. If, for some strange reason, I am not able to get my phone, I will find messages on at least two voice mails. I am literally at their beck and call.

I've been doing a good amount of thinking about my cell phone recently because my new kindergartner, Jack, is having some trouble adjusting to school. The first call on my cell phone came from the principal on the first day of school. The most recent came four days ago, when the school nurse called me to pick him up.

Because I've been averaging a call from the school every three or four days, and have had to pick Jack up early twice, I am afraid to be without my phone for even a second. I take it with me into the preschool for the 10 minutes when I'm picking up my youngest child. I take it with me into bathrooms. (But haven't had to use it there yet, thankfully.) I even take it with me when I'm waiting for Jack at the bus stop.

Last year, when my older son went to kindergarten, I tried to take my phone everywhere with me, but if I forgot it, it didn't seem like the end of the world.

In fact, I worried more that there would be some sort of disaster—an actual end of the world—and I wouldn't be able to get ahold of the school to collect my son from their fallout shelter. Or whatever it is they have now. I'm a little fuzzy on current end-of-the-world scenarios. Actually, the only thing I'm not fuzzy on is the fact that in case of a real emergency, my cell phone probably wouldn't work anyway.


There seems to be an assumption on the school's part that they will always be able to get in touch with me. Immediately. I am glad that the school can get in touch with me in an emergency, and I would rather carry a cell phone than have one of my sick children sit in a school health room all day, but how did we turn into a society where everyone is always available?

I just made the transition from usually available to always available this fall. I can't help but wonder if it is for better or for worse.

Things Are Getting Tense Around My House (UPDATED!)

Alex has been getting a lot of mail from John McCain lately. Like, a lot. Like, a letter every other day. I mean, it makes sense and all, what with Alex being a *cough*Republican*cough*, but it still pisses me off.

Note: If you are a Republican, please don't take this post the wrong way. I still respect you. I just won't talk to you the day after the election if John McCain wins. And probably the day after that. Maybe we'll chat over the weekend. We can still be friends. After all, I married a Republican and we're friends. Most of the time.

I'm not quite sure why they are sending him so much mail. It's not like he's a contributor. We realized that we would just cancel each other out by donating money, and it's cheaper if we choose to cancel each other out by not donating money. So we have a strict non-donation policy.

I'm fine with the McCain campaign wasting their money by sending mail to Alex, but it doesn't mean I can't still have a little fun with the situation.

I always get the mail before Alex gets home, so I've taken to vandalizing the McCain envelopes. This is what I did to today's mail:

felony schmelony

But the problem is, no matter how good a classic such as "BOOOOO!!!!" or "HIIIISSSSS!!!" is, I'm running out of fresh insults to put on the envelopes.

Pretty soon I'm going to have to stoop to flat-out threats. And no one wants that.

So, any suggestions for my future graffiti?

UPDATED 9/21/08 TO ADD: I took several of your suggestions when the next McCain propaganda hit the mailbox. I was not patient enough to take one woman's suggestion that I save up the envelopes and give them all to Alex at one time, calling it a surge.

I ended up with this:

Even better though, was the gem inside the envelope:


Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Maligned Get Their Due

I do my fair share of bitching about my children here, and in real life.

I do that because I have a sarcastic nature and see the humor in what they do, good and bad. I think that anyone who knows me is aware of how much I adore all three of my kids and their amazing little personalities.

I know that I tend to write more about their struggles and assholery than their everyday awesomeness.

I hope when I write that my love for them comes across. I can't tell you how many times Alex and I are sitting around at night and one of us will say, "You know who I love?"

The answer, of course, is Sam. Or Jack. Or Quinn. Or all three of them.

They're cool kids, and I love every part of them, no matter how many times I call them psychotic jerks.

I leave you with these:

You know who I love?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ugh. And Hot. And Ugh. But Robots!

We theme-dressed Quinn for our trip to Goddard Space Flight Center today.

Before I start, I'd like to say, "Yay, NASA!" and, "Yay, space travel!" and, "Hooray, scientific research!" and, "Yippee, children learning about and loving science!"

That said, I have to admit that Team Stimey's experience at Launchfest did not live up to Team Stimey's expectations of Launchfest. (Forgive me, Susan.) I was expecting awesome kid-friendly activities and exhibits in a reasonably-sized venue. We experienced a site better set up for grownups with patience and the ability to withstand walking around in the heat.

I talk about the heat because it was 9000 degrees today. Give or take a couple thousand. Good thing I had a sweatshirt with me. I'm not kidding. (The flip side of "always prepared" is "dragging along sixteen items you don't need.")

I have a feeling that Launchfest was probably really fun, but that we didn't plan well enough, or think enough about what Team Stimey does well, before we decided to go.

The phrases "satellite parking lots" and "shuttle buses" should have tipped us off that it might not be our type of event.

First, we drove past the satellite lot and turned into the visitor's center, where we were told to turn around and drive back to the satellite lot, which we did. Only to be told that the satellite lot was full and that we should go to an alternate satellite lot.

We could have just turned around and gone home then, but we had seen from the road and pointed out to the little dudes the following:

In case you're curious, that is the coolest moonbounce known to humankind.

Then we found street parking and walked back to the satellite lot to get on the bus. So we approached some young dude in a camouflage uniform who put wristbands on all of us. "Why do we need wristbands?" Alex asked.

"I think it's to show that you've paid," the dude said. "Only wait, this is a free event. Maybe it's for...I think it's for... I don't know why you need wristbands."

'Nuff said. We got on the bus, and Jack, who generally refuses to even let me put wristbands on him (maybe I should try wearing a uniform), began to pry his off.

I still don't know what the wristbands were for.

We arrived at Goddard where we wandered around in 90- (okay, not 9000-) degree heat for a while until we found robots. And not just any robots, but robots who were playing some sort of game with giant balls.

I think it's possible that Jack wants to be a robot.

Because, like I said, we were super ill prepared, we had neglected to bring lunch or eat before we arrived. So we found a seat and some pricey fried food and sweated through lunch.

Surly much?

Then we went to stand in line for the moonbounce, where we discovered that all of Launchfest did not occur at the first shuttle stop. There were, in fact, six different shuttle stops. You may be able to guess this, but Team Stimey was not prepared to wait in six different lines to go to six different buildings at six different shuttle stops.

We waited and waited and waited for the moonbounce. At some point we realized that Sam had convinced both Jack and Quinn to fight over who got to scratch his back:

Shortly after I took these photos, I kneeled down on the ground and asked Quinn to scratch my back. He refused. Apparently I do not have Sam's charisma.

Then, because we were right next to an ice cream truck, and we were already $24 into food-buying, we got the munchkins ice cream.

We drove all the way to Goddard to go on a moonbounce.

While in line for the moonbounce, we had run into a friend who claimed that the building waaaaaay across the green had something Launchfest-related in it, so we slogged our way back to where we started. (And watched more robots.)

As we approached the building, I felt an almost Pavlovian anticipation for the air conditioning. The doors opened and...bliss. Cool, cool air. Signs pointed our way down the hall. With every sign I passed, my eagerness grew. This was going to be the thing that made our day. I just knew we were going to reach the end of the hall and we were going to find the fucking Mars Rover prototype or something.

(I think you know where this is going.)

The hallway opened into an empty room.


(Evidently a documentary or some such thing was scheduled to be shown upstairs sometime later.) So we went to the bathroom and went home.

And, by the way, the shuttle on the way home involved a bus transfer. Yes. That's right, we had to change buses to get back to the satellite lot.

Still, Launchfest was more fun that the other thing we had planned for today. Which was nothing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They Call Him Mellow Yellow

No, they don't.

'Cause Quinn is about as far away from mellow as...well, as "sane" is far away from "fucking psychotic three-year-old."*

A couple of you have noticed in recent photos that Quinn is not always wearing yellow shirts anymore. It is true that he has relaxed his insistence on wearing only yellow shirts. As far as I can tell, the following are the rules he has established for clothing selection. Please keep in mind that these rules are subject to be altered at a moment's notice.

1. Naked but for underpants is best. If forced to wear clothes, a t-shirt will suffice. Who needs pants? Not the Q-ball. He's been known to start disrobing at other people's houses. If we're leaving the house or friends that don't know Quinn very well are coming over, I tend to make statements like, "If you want to go to the park, you have to wear pants."

2. Quinn has about seven shirts that he will always wear. Five are yellow, one is orange, and one is navy blue and features Thomas the Tank Engine. Knock on wood, but so far he hasn't (consistently) turned them down.

3a. Although yellow shirts are a good bet, they are never a safe bet. Take, for example, the yellow t-shirt my mom (who lived in Perth at the time) made an Australian shop owner order so she could bring it to the states. Not only did Quinn refuse to wear this adorable yellow t-shirt with orange kangaroos, but he shrieked horribly upon seeing it. That'll teach you, Nana.

3b. There is also the yellow shirt with a soccer ball my friend H thought would be a sure bet. Because it's yellow! And it has a soccer ball on it! (see #4) I gave her the go-ahead to buy it from the bargain bin for $3. I forced him into it once. He spilled chocolate on it, thus ruining it for donation, and refused to wear it again.

4. Shirts stand a good chance of being acceptable if they feature:
a) a soccer ball
b) a basketball
c) a baseball
d) pandas

5. Rule #4 is followed capriciously at best.

6. All shirts must be plain t-shirts. This is non-negotiable. Because apparently buttons carry the plague and polo shirts are the work of the devil.

7. Pants are slightly easier, but the preference is that they are:
a) long pants (Although by July, he was willing to bend on this point.)
b) soft (Recent photos showing him wearing jeans surprised me as much as they surprised you.)
c) green (Yellow used to be his favorite color, but after Sam got a green straw in a restaurant once and wouldn't share it with Quinn, green became his favorite color.)

8. Shoes must either be the orange crocs he's been wearing for two years or the Lightning McQueen sneakers I had to purchase in the next size up after he outgrew the first pair.

9. Know that this post will probably be out of date tomorrow, as Quinn tends to be obsessively stringent about following certain rules (like those above), until suddenly he's not. And he has a whole new set of stringent rules.

Which he will abandon the nanosecond I figure them out.

* Not that I necessarily think that Quinn is a fucking psychotic three-year-old. He's three and a half.

Jack Came Home Early Today. But Not For The Reason You Might Think.

It was 9:40 this morning when the phone rang. I had just finished vacuuming and straightening up my house in preparation for the five-family playdate I was hosting at 10 a.m. I think I said "oh no" out loud before I looked at the caller ID.

"MONTGOMERY CNTY" and a familiar phone number...it was Jack's school calling. But at least this time it wasn't the principal.

It was the school nurse calling to tell me that Jack was saying he was sick and that I should come get him.

Twenty minutes later, Quinn and I arrived at the school after having canceled on my friends at almost literally the last minute. Jack was lying on a cot in the health room with his aide sitting next to him. Jack looked completely pleased. I think the room, with its quiet and its beds and its curtained-off spaces suited him.

His aide told me of Jack's erratic, weepy behavior that morning right before she gave him a sweet look and said, "I love him." I was signing Jack out when he started insisting that he tell the principal he was sick. Jack and Quinn made such a ruckus (Jack trying to get to the principal's office, Quinn trying to hold him back and yelling, "I've got him! I've got him!") that the principal came out.

Jack told him he was sick and the principal gave him a huge hug and we were on our way. Jack burst into tears on the way home, crying out, "I'm sick and I'm sad." If you've ever seen Jack cry his giant tears, you know that they practically scream of devastation. I'm largely powerless against them.

By the time we got inside and to the train table though, all seemed well. At lunch he ate a giant helping of peanut butter and honey sandwich. By 1:30, when I had a quick visitor who had never met Jack before, he was so perky that she had to ask, "He's home sick?"

I think maybe he was tired and stressed this morning and needed a mental health day. Maybe he was at the tail end of a 12-hour bug. I don't quite know. I just hope he doesn't figure out that saying he's sick is the way to get sent home. I wouldn't put it past him.

I tried not to make the day too fun, but dammit, I'm a fun person.


We filled some time today by checking out LeapFrog's Tag system. Check out my review at Things and Stuff Reviews.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Things That Happened Today

My kids seem to think that if they play with water, the ice cream truck will come.

Here they are, post-squirt gun battle, waiting for the truck to magically appear.

It didn't.

I stood in the middle of the road taking photos, as I am wont to do, and yelled, "Who wants ice cream?!"

'Cause I'm kinda mean that way.

Alex and I were nice enough to take them out for ice cream. Because that truck wasn't coming.


Alex worked really hard today turning a perfectly harmless step to nowhere...

...into an actively dangerous construction site.

This has been his dumbass project for a while now. He finally had to rent a jackhammer to break apart these concrete steps that were apparently made of the strongest cement known to human kind.

He worked really hard.

I'll let you know *cough*next year*cough* when he gets around to removing the rubble.


Random Fact #1: I sit in front of the computer a lot.

Random Fact #2: Even if it's really warm, chances are that I am very cold and huddled underneath a blanket.

Today my fantabulous friend L brought me a gorgeous lap blanket that she knitted all by herself, thus solving the problems brought on by those random facts from above.

Isn't it beautiful?

I'm sitting under it right now.


Things That Happened Yesterday:

I took a five-hour nap. For real.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Photos of Nine People Who Look Nothing Alike

Except we all smile big.

Crunchy Green Mom looked like Julia Roberts and some other beautiful women.

Apparently I look like Josh Groban.

I'm a little offended. I hate you, MyHeritage.com.

But that woman on the bottom right? It's like we were separated at birth.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

We Are Nothing If Not Full of Drama

Alternatively titled: "Because Even If nothing Is Wrong, We Should Probably Create the Illusion That Something Has Gone Awry."

We decided to put Jack on the special ed bus after school. His bus arrives in front of my house at 3:16. Sam's bus arrives around the corner between 3:20 and 3:30. We can make it work as long as no one is either late or early. Yesterday was the first day they took the buses, and all went smoothly.

Today Jack's bus rolled up at 3:16 and the bus driver stuck her head out of the window. "He's not on the bus," she said. "I don't know why, but as we were passing by your house, it occurred to me that he's not here."

I think you all would have been proud to see how well I held my shit together.

I had my cell phone in hand, so called the school and started asking where my special education kindergartner was. I think I gave out my fair share of heart attacks today. The principal came on the line, told me that they put Jack on the bus, and asked to speak to the bus driver. I stepped on the bus to hand my phone to the driver and...wait for it...there was Jack. Quietly waiting on the bus. There the whole time. Sitting right next to the aide.

"He didn't say, 'There's my house,'" said the driver.

Yeah. Duh.

I think I've been through this before.

On the plus side, I don't think they're going to forget who he is again.


From Jack's communication notebook: He did his work on the color yellow soooooo fast that he got to pick a prize from the prize basket. AND he happily shared computer time by taking turns with a classmate.

That's right. Jack's a total rock star.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: I Hope They Teach Remedial Banana Eating at Quinn's Preschool

Quinn's first day of school.

Or, as my friend L said when she walked into the school: "It's not a taco, Quinn."

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Selling Out

Thus far I haven't done many reviews. Really, I did one. And then I unintentionally did another one. But then I went to BlogHer and the VTech people had all these cool toys there, and I couldn't control myself, so I wrote my information down on a piece of paper for them.

And then they emailed me and were all like, "Hey, do you want free VTech stuff? 'Cause you can be part of our demo team, which means we'll send you free stuff and you'll give us feedback."

Or something like that. I totally didn't get very far because I mostly saw the words "free VTech stuff."

And I emailed back to tell them that, yes, I would be delighted to receive free VTech stuff, and what are your expectations, and here are my kids' genders and ages, and they really like hand-held video games.

And then a few days later, a giant box arrived in the mail.

I have happily entered the world of product review.

If you would like to hear some of my happy thoughts on VTech's V-Motion and VWhatsahooey, check out my new review blog: Things. And Stuff.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Can't Even Come Up With an Interesting Title.

I'm a little bit in the throes of writer's block. Either that or I'm not doing anything interesting enough to warrant writing about. Or I'm subconsciously taking pity on you by not exposing you to more of my neuroses.

So you'll have to make do with this photo of my family at a Labor Day parade today.

Sam was supposed to walk with his karate studio in the parade, but he decided at the last second that he didn't want to. His primary reason was that he didn't trust us to catch candy for him if he was walking. His secondary reason was that he didn't want to walk for a mile. I think his unspoken reason was that he was busy getting sick.

I think his imminent sickness was the primary reason he completely lost it and threw a tantrum when we were walking back to the car. This tantrum—and its escalation—resulted in my taking away his candy.

So much for being worried about not getting any candy.

We relaxed and sold mattresses until we went to a late afternoon showing of Fly Me to the Moon.

If you ever want to laugh hard, put all your kids in 3D glasses.

We tried to go out to dinner afterward, but after being seated and ordering drinks at Gordon Biersch, we noticed that Sam was unwilling to remain vertical.

When our waiter brought our drinks, we told him that we needed the check because our son was sick. He insisted that we didn't need to pay and wished Sam well. That's the kind of customer service that will definitely bring me back to their restaurant.

I hope Sam is well enough for school tomorrow, because I'm really getting used to this one kid at home during the day thing. Now that is something I could write about.

(Funny how even with writer's block I can write a long post, huh?)

Stimey's Blog of Sorta Hilarious and Sorta Horrifying Things That Are Happening in Kindergarten These Days

Jack's escape at recess today wasn't the only noteworthy thing that happened to him at school, but I'll start there.

It was right around noon when the phone rang. The caller ID said "MONTGOMERY CNTY" and I could see from the number (having been called from this number before) that it was the principal at Jack's school. Because Sam was home sick today, I knew it was about Jack.

I mean, I knew anyway, but...

The principal laughed at my suspicious tone and told me everything was fine. I heard Jack in the background. Then the principal laid the hammer down.

The whole thing is kind of lost in a haze of it-just-gets-worse-and-worse, but here are the facts as I pieced them together from that phone call, chatting with the aide after school, and reading the communication notebook:

1. Jack snuck away from the aide at recess, but she caught him.

2. Jack snuck away again from the aide at recess, who had to abandon the other three children under her care to retrieve him.

3. Jack ran up a ramp to the portable classrooms.

4. Jack burst into a 5th grade class.

5. The 5th graders ratted Jack out to the aide.

6. When asked by his relieved aide what he was doing, Jack said, "Hiding."

Well, all right then.

Both the aide and the principal keep telling me over and over again that they really like Jack. I think they're aware that I'm about three steps away from losing my shit entirely.

And, there is the possibility that, in fact, they really do like Jack. Frankly, I think the principal may have spent more time with Jack in the past five days than I spent with my elementary school principal in six years of schooling. So I guess he's had some time to get to know him. And Jack is a likable little dude.

On the plus side, this morning Jack tried to help one of the kids in his class who was crying because he missed his mom. Apparently the kid was sad, so Jack tried to make him feel better by sharing the ice pack he was using—the ice pack the teachers gave to Jack after he tried to staple his hand this morning.

Silver linings, right?

But here's something good: last year when Sam started kindergarten, I felt like I had no idea what happened while he was at school. He would come home and refuse to answer my questions about what he did and all I'd be able to pull out of him was that they had Oreos for snack.

Turns out that if you have a special education kid, you get a communication notebook that gets sent home each day. In such a book, you'll get information like, "Your son tried to staple his hand but then used his first aid supplies to try to cheer up a classmate."

Or, "Jack put a push pin in his mouth."

Or, "Jack kept leaning back in his chair and tipping over."

Or...well, you get the point.

There are also some lovely things in there about Jack, because he is, in fact, a lovely child. But he is a lovely child that clearly needs more support than he is getting. In fact, the entire staff at his school seems to be trying to lobby the county for more services for him. (I believe the communication notebook is part of that lobbying effort. Hence the detailed reports of What Has Gone Wrong.) Maybe I'm naive, but until shown otherwise, I will remain vigilant, yet trust in their help. They seem like good people.

I'm feeling a little vindicated that I was right about Jack needing a lot of support. I'm so heart-wrenchingly sorry that Jack is having a hard time, but guess what?

I fucking told them so.

Laugh or cry, people. Laugh or cry.