San Francisco or Bust

Alternatively titled: “Team Stimey Doesn’t Do Anything Quietly. Or Without Puking.”

My whole family is here in San Francisco for my sister’s wedding to her partner on Tuesday. We are so happy to be here and have already had a chance to catch up with many good friends in the day and a half that we have been here. We’re only here for a couple days, so our schedule is packed full of social visits.

I’m sure you’ll hear more about that in the future (although I’m not guaranteeing anything), but right now I really have to get something off my chest. That something is cross-country travel with Team Stimey.

Prepare yourself.

Things that happened before we boarded our flight out of Baltimore at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday:

• Alex dropped me, the little dudes, and a hell of a lot of bags and car seats at the terminal while he parked the car. Sam almost immediately puked into a garbage can.

• While crossing the road, our luggage fell off the cart. Luggage and kids were everywhere. No one helped. I mentally cursed out Alex. (Totally unjustifiably, but it made me feel better.)

• We checked in and were standing in the security line, a little worried about the time, when a guy in an airport shirt walked up to us and says, “These kids can’t fly…” at which point I just about started sobbing, when the guy finished up with, “without these,” and handed us coloring books and crayons. We laughed and thanked him, but I’m still a little bitter about the psychological damage.

• Because Quinn was still wearing his pajamas (and mad about it), Alex pulled out his clothes to take him to the bathroom to change him. Quinn whipped off his clothes in about 14 seconds flat and exposed his bare ass to our fellow Baltimore to Cleveland traveling companions.

• Sam was still not feeling well, so Alex took him to the bathroom. Unable to abandon Quinn and our carry-ons, I watched helplessly as Jack started to puke bile all over the floor of the gate area. I semi-futilely tried to catch the bile in a handful of wipes as our fellow passengers started trying to book flights to Florida instead of Cleveland.

• I fed the kids Doritos for breakfast.

Things that happened on our first flight:

Plane karma hit Alex hard. I’ll set the scene for you:

I don’t know when the vomiting started because I was busy chatting with Quinn about Thomas the Tank Engine, but start it did. At some point, Alex ran out of airsickness bags and had to borrow one of mine. Both Sam and Jack puked. I think Jack may only have puked once, but Sam puked over and over.

And Sam’s vomit looked suspiciously like Doritos.

I got a good look at it, because a fair amount hit the backpack and the sandal-clad foot of the lady sitting behind him. At first she didn’t know what had happened. I think she thought Sam spilled a drink or something. But sometime after Alex frantically made me give him my wipes to start cleaning her up, she realized what had really transpired.

I have to say, she was remarkably cool about the whole thing.

After the cleanup, I noticed that she still had a little chunk on her foot, but I didn’t know what to say. When is “Excuse me, but some of my son’s Doritos and innards are still on your foot,” appropriate?

And then the layover…

We were walking up the jetway when Sam started clutching at his mouth. I missed the drama because I was dragging Jack, Quinn, and our luggage as I chased Alex through the terminal. I lost sight of him and was wondering what to do when he came bursting out of the men’s bathroom and said, “Go buy Sam a shirt!”

So then I dragged Jack, Quinn, and our luggage to a little shop where I bought Sam an expensive brown tee-shirt that said something about rock music. Quinn took advantage of me by grabbing a king-size Twix bar and asking if he could have it. Seriously, I probably would have bought him an iPod at that point.

Jack, Quinn, our luggage, and I walked back to the bathroom to find Sam and Alex. Quinn held up his Twix bar to every passerby he could find, asking, “Is this your favorite?”

Things that happened on our second, last, and very long flight to San Francisco:

• Sam puked.

• Jack puked.

• Quinn and I played and napped.

• Quinn did spend several minutes crying and beating the shit out of me when I was trying to force him to go to sleep.

• Once Quinn did fall asleep, I tried to move over to the window seat to give the woman next to me some space. Unfortunately the kid seated behind us was vigorously kicking the seat over and over. I did not feel I had a leg to stand on to ask his mother to control him, so I spent Quinn’s nap shifting from one seat to another.

• When Quinn woke up and I put him back in his seat, he noticed the kicking. And he did not care for it. “He’s kicking my seat!” he exclaimed several times. “EXCUSE ME! You’re kicking my seat!” he also exclaimed.

• Sam threw up again.

San Francisco. Oh, thank God, San Francisco. Or Millbrae. That’s Close Enough.

We finally landed, got off the plane, and miraculously bumped into my mom (whose plane landed a half hour before ours) at baggage claim.

Then we drove 0.1 miles from the airport to Millbrae, where our moderately priced (but very nice) hotel is located. According to the hotel’s sign, they are the closest lodging and parking to the airport.

I believe them because this is the view from our room window:

The great thing about being so close to the airport is that on Wednesday morning, we can look out our window, see if our plane is at the gate, and then saunter on over to board. The other great thing about it is that I can make fun of Alex for the rest of his life about booking this hotel.

And that is the end of the first half of the first day of our trip to California.

Wall of Fame, Take Two

Alternately titled: “For Reals This Time”

So we went back to the school today for the Wall of Fame ceremony. And this time, we weren’t the only ones there.

Mmmmmm! Re-heated, day-old pizza!

Per usual, I made an ass out of myself by doing things like taking photos of photos. The photos the school took for the Wall are so indicative of Sam and Jack’s personalities.

Sam = kind of anxious, eager to please,
smiling his “I’m supposed to be smiling” smile.

Jack = Casual, relaxed, and quirky.

Quinn was not overly impressed with the ceremony. But last year he was so disruptive. This time, he was absolutely silent and compliant. I love VTech.

Ceremony Scheremony

It was really cool to see my two guys get their certificates. Jack behaved so well and sat so quietly during the ceremony. And then he did some crazy, gyrating handshake with the principal when his name was called. I think he was excited.

Both guys had fun at the pizza party that ensued. I got many kudos for my two smart little boys. I think they’re pretty cool too.

True to form, after eating pizza, Jack chose to come home with me and Sam went back to class without even saying goodbye.

They’re such good teammates, but they are so different. All I know is that I’m lucky to have these guys.

Wall of Dumb = Me

I had my day planned around three things:

1) I wanted to make some good headway in cleaning my house. Mission accomplished.

2) We had speech therapy for Jack at 5:30. Mission accomplished.

3) Jack and Sam had a Wall of Fame ceremony at 1:30. I’m a dumbass.

The Wall of Fame at our school honors all the kids who are in the top 10% of their grade. Last year I joked that Sam was one of the best kids in his class at coloring, but it turns out that coloring does not enter into the equation, because Jack made the Wall of Fame this month, and he does not much care to color. Honestly, I don’t think he sees the point.

But because Jack is reading at level 9, which they tell me is where he should be when he leaves first grade, and he scored well on the tests they gave to all the kindergarteners, he is a Wall of Famer.

Sam is a Wall of Famer because he is a fucking superstar. He is really good at school.

Last year all of the Wall of Fame ceremonies, where parents bring pizzas to share with the other parents, were on Thursdays. I knew the ceremony was this week, so I prepped Quinn, ordered a pizza, went to pick it up, drove to the school, and…saw that no one else was there.

I called the school from the car and it turns out that the ceremony is tomorrow. It took everything I had to not scarf that pizza down right then and there.

So tomorrow I’ll have to plan my day again around the Wall of Fame. I’m obviously pretty excited and proud. Clearly, however, Sam and Jack didn’t get their smarts (or ability to read things like dates) from me.

Good on So Many Levels

I used to think this was the best kiddie tee-shirt ever:

Spelling deeds, done dirt cheap.

But now I think I found one that’s even better:

Toga! Toga!

In other news, Quinn is willing to wear the long-sleeved shirts I bought him yesterday to replace his stained yellow short-sleeved shirts.

Edited to add: I bought the black tee-shirt at Target.

Comments Welcome

Blog comments. If you’re anything like me you love them. They’re feedback, they’re advice, they’re signs of the community I am a part of.

Some days, on some posts, they make me so grateful for all of you.

My way of responding to comments has evolved since I started this blog. At first I would respond in the comments section. But then I realized that most of you probably don’t check back. So now if I get a comment that asks a question, gives me something to riff off of, or is something that gives me something to say, then I will try to email the commenter with a response.

Some of your email addresses come through with your comments. Some of you I track down through your blogs and find your email addresses. Some of you I cannot find an email address for to save my life. (You people either get answered in the comments section or in my heart.)

Know that if you don’t hear back from me, it’s not because I didn’t read your comment. It’s not because I didn’t think your comment was important. Depending on my mood and the subject matter, your comments have often made me laugh out loud or burst into tears. Sometimes I just hold comments for myself.

There are some comments that mean a lot to me, that speak to me, that give me something to think about. I may not ever respond to these comments, but at any given time I have several old comments in my inbox that I reread several times before I delete them.

Sometimes I keep these comments because they make me laugh. Usually I keep them because they give me helpful advice and moral support that I really need more than once.

I don’t respond to all my comments, nor do I comment on every blog I visit (and I try to visit the blogs of all my commenters), but I value every single comment and reader I get here, and I just want to let you (Yes. You.) know how much your support means to me.

Thank you.


Today went much better than yesterday. Jack wasn’t even remotely upset about going to school. According to his communication notebook, he still had a pretty rough day, but we’re both hanging in there. Again: thank you.

This Is Likely To Be Quite a Scene

I’ve been waiting for this day, this morning, for a long time. I haven’t been waiting in an anticipatory I-can’t-wait sort of way, but rather more of a the-other-shoe-has-to-drop-sometime sort of way.

See, even though Jack has been struggling, struggling, struggling at school, and often says he doesn’t like school, he has remained pretty compliant about going. This morning that changed. He was in a bad mood to begin with and balked at the clothes on his shelf and the breakfast in his bowl.

But the worst he saved for leaving the house. He started sobbing and refused to walk. True to form, he couldn’t articulate why he didn’t want to go to school. When I asked, all he could come up with was, “You!” But it was clear he didn’t want to go.

Usually when I drop the guys off at school, I pull up, push the button to open the van door and they get out. Today I didn’t even bother trying that. When I pulled up, I put the car in park, put on the emergency brake, got out of the car and walked around to the side door. The principal happened to be standing there.

“This is likely to be quite a scene,” I said.

I dragged Jack out of the car, flashing back to the solid month or two last year that Jack screamed and cried and went limp twice a day when I dropped him off at his two different schools. The principal offered to take Jack to his class, and I drove off, my free hand at my temples.

The rest of Jack’s morning was hard. Both the principal and his aide took him on separate walks to calm him down. He still had a hard time. When I stopped by to drop off his backpack, which I’d forgotten to pass to the principal, the school secretary, who I’ve barely spoken to, but who apparently knows Jack well, told me to hide in the office while she took the pack to Jack—something that doesn’t usually happen. (Trust me, I’m a backpack forgetter.) The assistant principal stopped me to tell me that he’d had a rough morning. The principal stopped me to offer words of encouragement.

Here’s my thing: if it’s this hard for me to hear about it, how hard must it be for Jack?

What I Imagined Parenting in DC To Be Like

Five and half years ago when I found out that we were going to be moving to the DC area for Alex’s job, I was kinda sad. In my mind DC was gray and dirty and unfriendly. And on the East Coast, which is obviously NOT the Left Coast, therefore inherently inferior.

(I still believe that last part, by the way.)

Even though I was worried about what DC might be like, I was always happy that “there’ll be a lot to do with my kids at least.” Because the Smithsonian! And the seat of government! And Metro trains!

But then I moved here and realized that there is no way in hell I am willing to take three kids on the metro and into the city by myself. I realized that if I did such a thing, I would probably lose at least one of my kids (Jack), maybe two (Jack and Quinn). I would also listen to a lot of whining (Sam…okay, and me.) Plus I would have to carry someone a long distance (Quinn).

But, check it: I have one kid now. Well, one kid and a nasty cell phone habit, but on any given day, it is likely that I will have one (or less) kid until 3:15. So when my ambitious friend Miss L suggested we take advantage of my reduced numbers of children yesterday and go to the Air and Space Museum, I uncharacteristically said yes.

Throwing aside any vestiges of dignity, we blew our “local mom” disguises by taking photos on the Metro. I think if you do that, it doesn’t matter where you live, you automatically qualify as “tourist mom.”

Turns out I was right about the gray and dirty though.

We had a lot of fun, although it turns out that three-year-olds are apparently incapable of using their legs to walk. I don’t know what museum is right outside the Metro stop, but next time we’re going to that one. It seems like it took us six years to get the museum and even then we had to bribe the munchkins with overpriced ice cream.

Science, schmience. This was Quinn’s high point.

You may notice I haven’t mentioned the actual substance of the museum. That’s because although I remember being there, I don’t remember much actual learning or noticing of exhibits going on. I do know that we visited way more than one bathroom and that we bought a fair amount of expensive food and that the word “behind” said over and over to Quinn on the ride home made him laugh hysterically, but I don’t remember a hell of a lot interest in such things as “exhibits.”

But it was good. I feel a little bad that I’ve given up entirely on teaching culture to my older children, but after this mostly successful trip to The Big City, Quinn is going to start experiencing a crapload of culture.

Obi Wan Quinnobi, patrolling the Mall.