Sunday, November 30, 2008

Questions

I seem to have some sort of death cough that has its sharp little talons wrapped around my lungs. Either that, or I actually did cough up a lung and the other one is working extra hard to compensate.

Consequently, I don't feel like writing, but I do feel the need to have you all help me out with some things I've been curious about.

1. How much time per day do you spend cleaning?

2. How much time per day do you spend on yourself?

3. When did your child (or you) learn to ride his/her two-wheeler bike?

4. When did your child (or you) learn to tie his/her shoes?

5. When did your child (or you) learn to swallow pills?

Answer one or all five. I'm curious.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Saddest Day of the Year...For the Dog

Ah, Thanksgiving. No doubt you've read countless posts about what your favorite bloggers are thankful for or about what they ate today. I've decided instead to poke fun at my dog. My poor, long-suffering dog who had to sit in my house all day long and sniff the air, which smelled like delicious, delicious food.

It was bad enough when it looked like this...


...but this is flat out torture.


Dog: "Maybe if I stare at it long enough,
it will fall directly into my mouth."


This, by the way is the first of one and a half drumsticks that Quinn ate.
The injustice!


Dog: "Yum. Celery. Thanks a lot, assholes."


The cats were also justifiably bummed out.

My family is thankful for many things, but based on what my kids said at the dinner table, they are more thankful for TV than anything else.

I'm thankful that Alex does all the cooking on Thanksgiving. (Seriously. He does. It's awesome to be me.)

But really, I am so thankful for my family, for how lucky my family is, for my friends—both "in real life" and online, and for so much more that there's not room to list it all here.

I'm also thankful that no one but me likes raspberry Jell-O with fruit cocktail in it. That way I get to eat it all. I know it's completely embarrassing to prepare such a dish, but I've never claimed to be high brow, so there you have it.

Jack, however, really enjoyed poking at the Jell-O.



*****

Note: We did give the dog some turkey. Not enough to make her throw up, as in years past, but enough to make her happy. And she got the raw turkey neck too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DCMM: Home for the Holidays

Every year I watch the stories on the news about how busy airports are on Thanksgiving weekend, and I talk to my friends about how they are going to pack their cars and drive to visit family for Christmas. It sounds lovely to spend the holidays surrounded by those you love, but mostly I love spending the holidays surrounded by my own house.

I like to travel, but at heart I am a homebody. The holidays in particular bring out a deep need in me to be at home celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas just as I'm used to doing it. I enjoy having house guests, but I do not enjoy leaving my house.

Part of it is that I am a total control freak.

If we're at my house, I can serve raspberry Jell-O with fruit cocktail suspended inside for Thanksgiving. If we're at my house, I can insist that no one open Christmas presents until after breakfast. (Stockings are a different matter altogether.) If we're at my house, no one is going to be serving ham or duck for either of these dinners—we're having turkey.

Part of it is that staying at home is easier. I can't even fathom carting a bunch of Christmas presents in our car to drive somewhere, much less stuffing them in suitcases for a plane flight. Seriously, I would love to hear how people do it, because according to the laws of physics as I understand them, such a thing is impossible.

While I do prefer to spend these holidays on my home turf, I have been known to venture out occasionally. Before we were married, I spent Christmas with my now-husband at his grandfather's house. It was nice.

I guess.

And then there was the year we spent Thanksgiving with my husband's boss. I almost swallowed my tongue when I heard that dinner would be at 8ish. I made a low-key Thanksgiving lunch (including turkey and Jell-O) that year and served it before we left for dinner. I mean, c'mon, Thanksgiving dinner is served no later than 4 p.m. Maybe 6 o'clock if the turkey got put in late.

Come to think of it, it's entirely possible that we stay home for these holidays every year because no one invites us to their house because I'm such a controlling pain in the butt.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Hear more about Jean's Thanksgiving Jell-O and Christmas turkey at Stimeyland.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Deed is Done

I'm pretty sure that Jack's aides, teachers, and principal know that I've hired an attorney to help us at his next IEP meeting. The big tip-off was when I gave the principal a letter asking for Jack's comprehensive file, and then itemized a laundry list of things that I didn't know existed. (The principal then asked, "Are you bringing someone to the meeting?")

To their credit, they have remained very nice and supportive.

I really hope it stays that way, because I just officially alerted them to the presence of the attorney and my educational consultant. The lawyer wants to contact the school to request an earlier IEP meeting than the school originally suggested, and I agree that it needs to be done.

But I wanted to warn the special educator who will receive the phone call. So I explicitly laid it out for her in a note in Jack's communication notebook, which is our usual method of conversation.

I have to say, sentences such as, "My attorney will be contacting you..." don't slip easily off of my tongue. Or out of my pen, as the case may be.

I am so hopeful that Jack's team continues to be as wonderful as they have been thus far. Because they mostly seem to agree with me, and it is the power tier above them that seems to be rejecting our requests, I hope that they understand.

I did end my note in the communication notebook with a paragraph about how much I appreciate everything they do.

Obviously, regardless, I have to do what is best for Jack, no matter what. And I truly believe that this is what is best for Jack.

My hope is that any unpleasantness can stay in the IEP meeting room and not in the classroom. Based on what I know of Jack's team, I think that can happen. But cross your fingers for us anyway.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

7 Years Old and Already a Delinquent

Part of Sam's homework most days is that he brings home a book and has to read it to me. He writes down the name of the book and I sign my initials next to the name so that the teacher knows he read it.

Apparently one day I forgot to sign it, so Sam took it upon himself to forge my signature. And he did a damn good job. Can you tell which one is the fake?


If he's this good at forging my signature now, imagine my life when he's a teenager. Or, worse, when I'm old and senile and he forges my signature to put me in a home. I'm going to be completely helpless against him.


Interestingly, the only mark on his report card that wasn't satisfactory or outstanding was handwriting. The teacher says he "needs improvement."

I beg to fucking differ.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

To Sum Up

As part of my long-term plan for internet domination, or a presence on 86 blogs, whichever comes first, I'm all over the web this week.

My feet are at Jodifur.

My story about how I dealt with a stranger making a rude remark to Jack is at Trusera.

I'm bitching about leaves at DC Metro Moms.

I'm challenging you to declutter with a contest at The Junk Pyramid.

I'm giving away "Ick" at Things and Stuff Reviews.

Five down, 81 to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Like a Lion, Out Like a...Lion

Hey, remember last year when Sam started going to karate twice a week and I did a lot of whining about how I was going to have to murder Jack and/or Quinn or that I would have to take a lot of sedatives myself?

No?

Well, I was thinking it. I sometimes dreaded going because both Jack and Quinn were insane there. I tried taking books, dry-erase boards, coloring books, trains, and toy cars and airplanes. All of them worked to one degree or another, but we always caused a scene, and Jack usually took a big swiping "Hello, there!" swing at a stranger on our way out. I often had to chase them around while they tried to evade me, and there was that first day when Sam accidentally locked himself in the changing room from the inside and couldn't get out.

I mean, I don't really blame them 'cause they had to kill 45 minutes there twice a week, but, F.U.C.K!

Then Vtech and LeapFrog came along and quite possibly saved my sanity. At the very least, they vastly improved my life. Each of those companies, for which I have life-long devotion, sent me review samples of their hand-held video games.

My karate life changed drastically.

I know there are people out there who disapprove of this type of electronic babysitting, but I couldn't fucking care less. Prior to those game systems, I was stressed, angry, and a wreck. Afterwards, I was still stressed, angry, and a wreck, but less so.

Today was Sam's last day at karate. We're taking a break for a variety of reasons, some financial, some due to Sam's whining whenever I tried to get him ready for class, and some due to the fact that we have two or three therapy sessions a week for Jack now. I just can't pack it all in.

Today, which was a graduation day (Sam got his purple striped belt), was busy, loud, and chaotic. But we were all chill. We got there a little early, so got good seats. Sam went to practice. Quinn had fallen asleep in the car and was sleeping happily on my chest. Jack was playing video games. All was well.

And all stayed well. For a while.

The instructors did some speechifying after the belt presentations and Quinn woke up. And he woke up MAD. We had to remove ourselves to the lobby just a few feet away, but let Jack stay in his chair where he was quietly playing, oblivious to the hubbub around him.

The next few minutes are a little blurry, but I do remember a lot of people looking at me. But really, short of going out to the parking lot, there wasn't a lot I could do. Then Jack got up and went to the bathroom without closing the door, which incidentally is something Sam did after his first or second class.

At some point Quinn was shrieking, Jack was "investigating" the moving parts of the lobby's decor, and Sam showed up to ask if I'd gotten a group photo, which of course I hadn't.

But I DID get this awesome shot.
I specialize in tiny, fuzzy, and terrible.

Then Sam couldn't find his bag, and I almost said forget about it because we're not coming back anyway, but figured that would be a bad way to leave, with Quinn AND Sam shrieking at me.

So we ventured into the fray, all four of us, because Quinn was sobbing and Jack can't be trusted to not wander into the parking lot. We generally made a nuisance of ourselves until some friendly mom found the bag under her chair, across the aisle from where Sam had left it.

We said goodbye to the instructors and I started trying to herd the dudes out the door, when Jack gave one of those swipes of greeting I spoke about above. Those swipes I do not believe to be malicious in the slightest, but rather a way of interacting with people. But they always lead to a confused looking child or adult looking at us and wondering why the unprovoked attack, as I frantically try to apologize, get Jack to apologize, and tell Jack not to hit, while explaining proper social interaction all at the same time.

In case you're wondering, it's super effective. < /sarcasm>

Then, while hoisting Quinn into my arms because he refused to walk, I ripped his shoe off and dropped it on the floor. All while someone kept trying to foist the studio's December calendar on me.

By the time I left, I was stressed, angry, and a wreck. And the sentimental feeling I felt watching Sam at his last class? Gone. And it seemed fitting to go out the way we came in a year ago.

I'd like to get him back there someday, but I'm okay with not having to wrangle Jack and Quinn at karate for a while.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Two Reasons Sam Got Out of Bed Tonight

He should be sleeping, but some things are too important. For instance...

1. "I don't know where my subtraction book is. I'll never be able to subtract again!"

2. "Quinn has lots of boogers in his nose. Can you come get them out?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Culture of the Waiting Room

One of the things I wish I'd done differently when it comes to Jack and his autism is that I wish I'd pursued private therapy earlier. We really just started speech therapy and OT this year. I listened to the school system when they said he didn't need speech or OT because his deficiencies didn't affect his ability to learn.

I kind of beg to differ, but we all know that. My point is that it finally occurred to us that we could put Jack in private therapy—at least until our insurance runs out. So now we go to speech therapy and occupational therapy a couple of times a week. Jack will also be starting his first social skills group next month.

I know. You all thought I was more together than this, huh? Seriously. I never got the manual telling me what to do, or I would have put him in speech therapy two years ago.

I've been using our waiting room times to study the other (mostly) moms that take their kids to therapy. Except for that one time that my other kids weren't with me. That time I fell asleep.

It can be embarrassing to be me.

Anywho.

It's interesting to me that I am clearly the newbie in every one of these waiting rooms. I have yet to meet anyone who has started coming more recently than me.

At our occupational therapist's office, I followed the sign that was posted on the front door the first day that said to go around to the side door. There's a cold, dank little waiting room there. The rest of therapy rooms are part of a house. Other parents seem to "go upstairs" frequently. I think some of them wait up there while their kids are in sessions.

Our therapist comes to get Jack and brings him back when the session is over. The billing person comes down to get my check. Other parents wander in and out and their kids go find their therapists by themselves.

I've only been upstairs once, during Jack's evaluation. And I'm really curious what it's like up there during session hours. Do they have coffee and cookies? Do they get to observe their child's session? It's like the VIP room and I can't get past the velvet rope.

Speech therapy is a little different because our regular session is at the same time as a group of kids that have a social skills group immediately following their private sessions.

So they all kind of know each other and the parents know the siblings' names and stuff. And because we're only one family, they picked up our names really fast. (Especially because I have to yell at them by name a lot because corralling them is like herding cats.) All I know is that the kid with the same color hair as Quinn is named Ben.

But I'm learning. I'm learning to not feed them junk food on therapy days because Ben's mom brings Doritos that she insists he share with all the other kids. (My kids loooooove Ben.)

I'm learning that I may have to take up knitting like one of the other speech therapy moms. Because it's hard to be friendly when you're reading a book, and it's boring to stare at the walls, but creating something AND chatting. Hmmmmm....

I've also noticed that siblings of kids in therapies have lots of hand held electronics. As do we. Because it is sooooooo much easier to keep siblings happy and quiet and in a seat every week when they're playing a video game.

Homework is easier for my oldest son to do at occupational therapy (where all the other people are "upstairs") than at speech therapy (where all the other people are eating chips and playing games right in front of him).

I'm still learning the waiting room ropes. And one day someone even newer than me is going to walk in and look to me for answers. And at that point, I will direct them to a different parent and then I will listen in to learn the things I was never brave enough to ask in the first place.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Are They Twins?

When my sister and I were growing up, people asked my mom this question all the time. Even once we were teens and looked nothing alike (I thought), people still asked us if we were twins.

See, my sister is 17 months older than me and we have enough similarities that people could ask. I always thought people were crazy.

Sam and Jack are 19 months apart, and ever since I gave them identical bad haircuts a month or so ago, people keep telling me how much alike they look. One stranger even went so far as to ask if they were twins.


One of these things is not like the others...

I think they may have to get used to the question.

I wish I could find a photo that better shows how alike they look. But they do. And Jack looks exactly like Sam looked 19 months ago. It's a trip.

It seems to be one of the perils of baby bunching—having kids fewer than two years apart. How many of you other baby bunchers get the twins question?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Subtle Shift

I have noticed something very interesting happening with Jack since he came home "sick" on Thursday. He has suddenly started showing preferences in playmates.

Sam and Quinn are two people that Jack seems like a typical kid around. He plays with them, he talks, he participates. But I think a lot of that is because Sam is such a leader, especially around his two brothers. Sam tells them what to do and they do it. Sam has always been the one they look up to and the one who dictates what they do.

Part of this is, I think, a natural part of Sam being the oldest. Naturally they look up to him. Plus he's the most advanced, so he's more capable of coming up with ideas for all of them to do. But the other part is that Jack and Quinn have never really experienced time alone together without Sam.

By the time Sam went to kindergarten, Jack started going to school all day as well. So it's not like Jack and Quinn had time to form a unit.

But they had a great time together on Thursday, and since then, Jack has started saying things such as, "I want to play with Quinn instead of Sam." Or, "I want Quinn on my team." Or, instead of, "Sam! Sam! Sam!" he says, "Um, Quinn? Quinn?"

Interesting. Because even though Sam and Jack are closer in age (19 months apart) than Jack and Quinn (two years apart), Jack and Quinn are probably closer developmentally.

I'm really interested to see where this goes. I don't expect Sam's vise grip on sibling leadership to disappear. But no matter what, I'm thrilled that something has seemed to click in Jack to make him understand that he gets to state a preference for playmates.

Fascinating.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

DCMM: An Ode to the Leaf Pile

Last year around this time, I wrote a Manifesto about how much I hated trees, mostly because of all the manual labor involved in having them on or near my property. This year, I've decided to take less of a whiny and more of a productive approach to leaf season—the longest season of the year.

I've decided to rake.

It's not that I've matured or anything; it's not that I'm any less bah humbug about the suburban tree canopy; it's more that I'm tired of being the only house on the street without piles of leaves in my gutters.We live in one of those neighborhoods that doesn't have to bag up their leaves and put them out for the garbage man, or leaf man, or whoever takes bags of leaves. All we have to do is rake them out to the curb and twice a season a big truck with several guys and a big sucky vacuum thing comes down the street and slurps up all the leaves.

I know! Cool, huh? But it is less cool if the leaf vacuum passes by and your leaves are still spread out all over your lawn. Or, even worse, still on your trees.

My trees are literally (and I mean that literally) the last trees on the block to turn brown and drop their leaves. I have three giant trees that are still green. Some of the leaves are yellow, but most of them are still green. So it's not like the raking I'm doing now will finish the job. I have weeks of raking ahead of me.

But when I have piles of leaves in the gutter, I feel like it lets the other homeowners on the block know that I'm trying. It makes me feel good too. I feel a little bit like my neighbors will overlook my jungle-like yard and tall grass if I have mounds of leaves waiting for the leaf guys.

I have some big piles this year. I hope the vacuum doesn't come until late in the season. I don't want to have to rebuild them.

And we'll see, if this makes me feel good enough and diverts enough attention from my super-weedy yard, maybe next year I'll rake the front and back lawns. Maybe.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

During raking breaks, Jean blogs at Stimeyland.

Mandatory Cheerleading

So my kids are playing video games because I'm trying to get some work done and Alex, who is in charge, is mysteriously absent. Sam is playing and Quinn and Jack are watching Sam play. I am trying my damnedest to ignore them when I hear the following exchange:

Sam: "If I don't here any cheering, it's going off."

Jack: "go, go, go..."

Sam: "Faster and louder!"

Jack: "GO! GO! GO!"

Maybe I'm encouraging them to support each other a little too much. Or in the wrong way.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Working the System

Quinn and I were happily enjoying a playdate yesterday morning when my phone pinged. As always, I didn't leave my cell phone in my purse, but had it in my sweatshirt pocket. Although the phone hadn't rung, the message made it through, more than half an hour after the call.

I listened to the voice mail, which was from the nurse at the elementary school. Dammit. Jack was sick. I had to go get him.

I abandoned my friend and stuffed Quinn in the car. As soon as I saw that I had cell service (evidently my friend's house is somewhat of a cellular black hole), I called the school.

I had just been connected to the nurse when my phone went dead. I called back and apologized for my lame cell phone. The nurse laughed and said that she had actually pulled the cord out of the handset. All righty then.

Jack had said he was nauseous that morning and had spent some time going back and forth to the bathroom, hugging the toilet bowl. He's done that before, and it almost always results in his throwing up in the car on the way home.

When I showed up at the school, nearly an hour after the nurse had called in the first place, Jack's face lit up.

"Are you sick?" I asked.

"I'm not sick!" he chirped.

Of course.

It was pretty clear that I wasn't going to leave him at the school. I can only imagine the hubbub that would have ensued. Plus, I still believed that he was going to hurl as soon as he strapped himself into his car seat.

So I took him home and tried to get him to lie down. That worked for about four seconds because He. Wasn't. Sick.

He and Quinn spent the day, perky as hell, happily playing together and watching some TV.

I think Quinn likes to be without clothes most of the time
as a wedgie-prevention measure.

They ran an errand with me and were perfectly behaved. They ate an identical lunch and played Legos and Lego Star Wars.


They were happy as damn clams. Jack to be home during the day. Quinn to have a buddy that wasn't me.

Considering that Jack ignored his baby brother for nearly two years, they sure do get along now.

All I know is, I better not get a call from the nurse tomorrow. Because if I do, there will be no Lego Star Wars. Instead, I'll make him scrub the floor.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Help Me. Please.

Hi everyone. Stimey here. I am sorry to have to admit how dumb I am, but why is it that I cannot for the life of me comment on Blogger blogs that use the new commenting option?

Like this:


Please, please, please tell me what I'm doing wrong. I keep trying to leave comments and it just erases them over and over.

I feel like a moron.

Help?

Thanks to My Party of 6 for the image. I tried to comment about how adorable your daughter is. I really did.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do You Know What's Shocking?

Air costs $1.

I had a tire with low pressure today, so I stopped at a gas station to fill it up. I seem to remember some big deal about how air should be free for customers, but there's always a quarter slot and a sign asking for 25 cents, so I just pay for it anyway.

Well, imagine my surprise today when the first place I stopped was charging 75 cents!

"That's absolutely ridiculous!" I said to myself. Or maybe out loud. I'm a mutterer. Then I drove on to the next station.

And the air there cost $1! And because I started with the tire I always sideswipe on curbs, assuming that it had to be the low pressure tire my car kept dinging about, by the time I got to the fourth tire, which turned out to have a tire pressure of 17.5, my dollar's worth of air had stopped. So I had to buy another $1 worth of air.

I know, I know, two dollars is not that big of a deal. But it is when what you're buying is air. It's almost as ridiculous as buying water.*


* Full disclosure: I've been known to buy my fair share of bottled water. I'm not sitting here in my shiny glass house throwing rocks at you. Or maybe that's exactly what I'm doing. Hmmmm...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I Love My Kids' Elementary School

I love my kids' elementary school because the people there seem so genuinely to be on my kids' teams. I love my kids' elementary school because I feel like the people there are willing to partner with me for my children.

I read posts that other parents write about the anxiety that parent-teacher conferences bring up. I read posts about teachers that seem to do little but bad-talk children to their parents. I read posts about parent-teacher relationships where there is obviously a fence between parent and teacher.

[I'm frantically knocking on wood now.]


I don't feel any of that from my kids' teachers.

Sam is a kid born for school. He is smart, well-behaved, and eager to please. If I were a teacher, I'd want Sam in my class. (If I do say so myself.)

But with Jack, there are ample opportunities for his teachers and aides to get frustrated with him. His teacher says she doesn't know a whole lot about kids on the spectrum, but she still is so understanding and really seems to get that the way he acts out is due to his disability. Trust me when I say that I don't take that for granted.

His aides are similarly fabulous. They constantly tell me how much they love him, even after he's put them through the wringer. (He poked one of them in the face with a pencil once. She responded to my apology note with a written comment: "I still adore him!") I can't express how much that means to me.

I walked into parent-teacher conferences today a little skittish, but not too worried. I was wrong to feel nervous at all. The aide and teacher who spoke to me about Jack were so encouraging and validating. They confirmed things about Jack that I believe, and they listened to me when I told them about Jack. Even when talking about some of Jack's less desirable behaviors (spitting, hitting, trying to sharpen his finger in the pencil sharpener), Jack's teacher was not even slightly condemning.

Even with all this support though, it is clear that Jack needs one to one support. We have hired a lawyer and an educational consultant and have begun what looks to be a long, slow process. I am just so glad that in the meantime Jack has three amazing women (two aides and his teacher) who give him such thoughtful, compassionate, and loving support.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Life in a Nutshell

Long, long ago I composed my Six-Word Memoir for some reason. I don't remember why. But I've never posted it. (Actually, I probably did post it and I've just forgotten about it. Who knows?) Anyway, in absence of anything better to write about, and in response to a challenge by Mrs. Chicken, here is mine:

Always chasing three boys. Usually laughing.

What's yours?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Confidential To Claudia






We are thrilled that everything went so well. We all love you very much and are thinking of you. May your recovery go quickly and well.

Much love,
Team Stimey

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Photo Tour of Team Stimey's Trip to San Francisco

Alternatively titled: "I Hope All the Photos Don't (a) Crash Your Browser, or (b) Take Sixteen Years to Load." or "This Post Might Be More Fun If You're Related to Us."

You've already heard about the awesomeness that was our trip out to San Francisco. That was on a Saturday. Before we checked into our hotel, it seemed to be good form to coax Alex out of his nightmarish plane ride-induced bad mood, so we hit one of his favorite places.


It worked. Alex was sated, luggage was unloaded at our hotel, and because we had landed in the Bay Area before noon, we were left with many, many hours to hit as many tourist traps in the City as we could.

Quinn was in charge of the map.


We started by meeting my friend S, who I will refer to here as an old college chum because we spent a lot of time together back when we both went to school at Berkeley. She knows many of my secrets.

We figured the little dudes would enjoy Fisherman's Wharf, so we forced S to meet us there. Weirdly, even though she's lived in the Bay Area for many, many years, she had never been there. So we did it Team Stimey style.

After a false start wherein I nearly attacked a stranger on a bike calling her S, we met up and started wandering down the waterfront. Even though we had flown all the way across the country and were in an exciting new city, the little dudes were most excited to find a tiny playground on the waterfront.

This is where Jack started his cult.


I had forgotten that most of what you do at Fisherman's Wharf is spend money. And look at sea lions. We didn't do much of the first, but we did a lot of the latter.


After watching these sea lions intently for about five minutes, Jack turned around, looked at me, and in the most sincere tone of voice asked, "Can we have a sea lion for a pet?"

Then I died of cuteness and was only resurrected when S suggested we walk down to the little stretch of beach at the end of the road. Forgetting about little legs and their effect on distance, we all agreed that this sounded like a fabulous idea. We also forgot about the effect of water on children, but more on that later.

So we walked and we walked and we assured the kids that it was just past these buildings up ahead, and, hmmmmm, I guess it's farther than that, but it's gotta be just up here somewhere, and fuck if I'm going to even think about the walk back to the car, which we parked approximately 28 miles in the other direction.

Do you see Jack's little brain trying to figure out how
long it would take him to disassemble the bike?

We finally made it down to the beach. As I rolled their pants up, I extracted promises from all of my children to only go in as far as they could without getting their clothes wet.

They all agreed and then Quinn ran directly into the Bay, resulting in his complete soaking, as well as S's complete soaking when she ran in after him to save his life.


We eventually had to make our way back. We had to forcibly remove a shivering Quinn from the beach. He was practically blue, but had enjoyed his walk down the beach with S so much that he fought us tooth and nail when we tried to extract him from the sand.


I had brought enough spare clothes for Quinn to be warm, but Sam, who had disregarded my Wet Pants Warning, had to walk back to the car in soaking wet jeans.

It was a long walk, I tells ya.

But we did get to see an R2D2 mailbox. I embarrassed everybody in my group by squealing, jumping up and down, and making my children pose in front of it. And then Alex proved himself to be a true member of Team Stimey by making Jack hug it.


We adjourned back to our hotel, where we had an adjoining room with my mom. This was totally the best because all three children prefer to sleep with her. Alex and I each got our very own double bed.

The next day we got to see a lot of old friends, some of whom introduced Quinn to trail mix...


...and some of whom were women I met in my very first moms group mere weeks after Sam was born. Although I keep in touch with them now and then via email, I had not seen any of them for more than five years. Somehow their children, who were mere toddlers when I last saw them, had turned into Sam-sized kids who played with iPhones and were excited to see High School Musical 3. I'm still not sure how that happened.

Monday we met some friends for dinner, but we had the full day before then to take Team Stimey (and my mom) on a quick tour of the Bay Area. We did this by eating our way through the Bay Area. Over the course of our trip, we went to Fentons, Zachary's, Genova, Cole Coffee (nee Royal Coffee) and more, all of our old haunts, except we didn't get to hit Bongo Burger, which is one of my favorite places in the entire world.

My mom and I had some shopping to do, so we traveled to Emeryville, where there is one small circle of grass Astroturf to play on. And play the little dudes did.


It's funny how a little circle of Astroturf can make kids happy. They would have played for hours and hours.

But we dragged them away to feed them ice cream and to take them to an actual park, where Alex did a little bit of stalking.


Then we headed off to Lake Merritt to feed the birds. I used to run around Lake Merritt almost every day when I last lived in Oakland. I miss it a lot. Lake Merritt is also home to Oakland's urban goose population. The last time I had taken a child to feed birds there, Sam was one and half years old and pigeons tried to land on him to get to his bread.

The birds were even more unruly this time. One goose bit Jack on his butt, causing him to protect it by leaning against trees and benches. But he, and the rest of Team Stimey, loved it. We (and by "we," I mean "I") did a lot of jumping up and down and squealing.

I don't think we should overlook the possibility that the goose bit Jack because Jack was a threat to their food source:


At least my mother kept her dignity that day.

The next day (and this will wrap up soon, if you're still with me) was Tuesday, the day my sister got married. I covered that before, so I'll just show you photos of the trip Alex, the little dudes, and I took to the Golden Gate bridge between picking my sister and her family up at the airport, and going to City Hall

I'd like to pose a question here. Why do otherwise normal people (I'm not calling us normal, there were other people there too) insist on taking photos around statues? I don't know what the hell this statue represents or whom it portrays, but here we are, standing next to it.


I attempted to get some photos worthy of holiday cards with all three of my kids in it and the bridge in the background. FAIL.



Hey, wait, all three of them are here! But wait, it's the backs of their heads.


From here we went to the wedding, and a delicious dinner in the city. My mom transfered over to my sister's hotel that night to watch her kids, so we had to share our beds with our (oversize) children. Bummer.

But it wasn't that big of a deal because we had to get up at 4 a.m. anyway to put them on a plane and cross our fingers that no one would projectile vomit. And guess what? No one did. In fact, our first flight (the long one) had little TV screens in front of every seat. You were supposed to have to pay to use it, but for some reason, the movies, games, and TV were free.

Honestly, I was more relaxed during those five hours than I normally am.

Thanks to those of you (Mom? Ann? S?) who read all the way to the end here. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I don't have to document every. single. thing. I do here on my blog, but for some reason, I really wanted to get this down.

And now, I swear I'm done talking about Team Stimey's epic trip to California.

Maybe.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sam and the Wizard in Oz

Back in October I was shopping for birthday presents for Sam, and ended up wandering through the book section of a boutique toy store. While browsing the chapter books, I saw Ozma of Oz.

For those of you who are not aware of this book (although I imagine most of you are), it is part of a series of Oz books that followed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Now, while The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with its various permutations and forms is an amazing story, it is not the Oz book that I fell in love with. I fell in love with Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, and the The Emerald City of Oz.

I loved reading about the Nome King and his underground mine. I delighted in the desert that surrounded Oz, and in the relationship between Ozma and Dorothy, who, in the books, looks nothing like Judy Garland. I wanted to learn more about Tik-Tok of Oz, and the Patchwork Girl of Oz, and I checked those books out from the library over and over.

I imagined that the fantasy land of Oz might be something Sam would enjoy, so I bought The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, imagining the two of us cuddled together night after night as I read a chapter a day. After we finished that book, we would move on to the next, and not only would I get to expose Sam to the world of Oz, but I would get to reread the stories and remember what I loved so dearly about the books.

So one day after his birthday, I read the first chapter to Sam. And he was duly unimpressed. It was several days later before I could entice him back to let me read chapter two to him. This chapter is quite exciting what with munchkins, the promise of wizards, and the squishing of a witch.

I finished reading the chapter just as some friends pulled up for a playgroup, and I put the book down. We played with our friends and after they left, I was returning a phone call when Sam came up with the book.

"We'll read another chapter as soon as I get off the phone," I said, completely thrilled that Sam liked the book too.

But when I got off the phone, do you know what I found? I found him well past where we had left off together—he was reading it himself. And he wouldn't stop. He sat on the couch for two hours and read. He read in the car on the way to speech therapy. He read while Jack got his therapy. He turned on his car light on the way home so he could read in the car some more.

I'm completely devastated, of course.

I mean, sure he's reading a chapter book by himself; sure he picked a book over a video game while in a waiting room; sure he loves the book the way I did.

But, dammit, I was going to read it to him.

I'll get over the bitterness, but it's going to take time. Sam got way too old, way too fast.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Scary Engines, Perfect Posts, and Thanks

Recently I gave away most of my Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs and videos because everyone in my house was afraid of them. They are now in a home where I hear they are much loved.

Today we were watching Sprout when Thomas came on. Quinn insisted that he wanted to watch it, but his behavior seemed counter-indicative to his statement.

You can aaaallllllmost see him.

When I tried to call Q on his aversive behavior, he said that he did want to watch it, but that he wanted "to watch it from far, far away."

I don't believe him when he says he's not afraid.

*****

Thanks to the fabulous Tech Savvy Mama for awarding my San Francisco or Bust post as an October Perfect Post. At least we got something out of those plane trips.

Thank you, Leticia! You are awesome!


See more Perfect Posts here and here.

*****

Also, thanks to my mother-in-law, who sent terrific Halloween packets for my kids (and the grownups). She always manages to send these things that the children absolutely adore. One of the things in these packages were toilet/plunger Fun Dip thingys. I thought they were insane, but the little dudes were really excited. And that's kind of what matters.


Confidential to my mother-in-law: We're all thinking of you and sending you love! And you always make the little guys very happy!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Sister Got Married!

Hey, guess what? My family went to California and my sister got married!

I know, I know, you are aware of this and probably sick to death of hearing about it, but I'm pretty delighted with our whole trip. I'm still trying to decide if I should bore you with a travelogue of the days leading up to the wedding because we packed a lot of stuff into five days.

Regardless, I am going to tell you a little bit about my sister's beautiful wedding. She was married at City Hall in San Francisco, which is a gorgeous building and a wonderful (and apparently dirt cheap) place to get married.

They hired a photographer to take advantage of the setting and event. I piggybacked on his efforts and took photos with my lame little camera at the same time he took his professional photos. So, Ann and Stephanie, when you get your photos back? That little flash of light to the right of every photo is from my camera. Sorry. But look!

They're the dots up there in the middle.

I missed a good chunk of the ceremony because I was trying to talk Ann and Stephanie's younger son down from separation anxiety. He was NOT COOL with not being right in the middle of the ceremony. Fortunately, the ceremony was about five minutes long, and then the little guy got to go get his hug from his mom(s).

And Quinn caught the bouquet!

Well, not really, but he HELD the bouquet.

Congratulations to my sister, Ann, and my sister-in-law, Stephanie. You have already shared so much and created a beautiful family together. Here's to many years of more of the same and even better.

Much love to your family!


*****

And sorry for this, but I've got to politicize this a little.

How does this...


...threaten this?


Because I've thought about it and thought about it and I really, honestly cannot come up with anything that is even slightly threatening about two people who love each other making a legal family. And I really can't see how same-sex marriage threatens opposite-sex marriage. I can't find any sense in it.

Honestly, if anything is threatening my man/woman marriage, it's me being an asshole. Gay people have little or nothing to do with it.

*****

Read more about my trip to my sister's wedding at DC Metro Moms.

*****

I'm not a very political gal, but I gotta do this. I'm not under the delusion that I'm going to be changing anyone's mind about how they're going to vote. But if you're in California, please vote no on 8. And if you live anywhere in the United States, please vote for Obama.

But mostly, please vote. (Just not in my line. I don't want to be there for hours and hours.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tricks and Treats

Tricks:

About a month ago my kids and I were chatting about Halloween costumes. Jack wanted to be Superman. I was thrilled because Sam was Superman last year, so we already had the costume.

Then Sam said he wanted to be Superman. And then Quinn said he wanted to be Superman.

Damn kids and their conforming.

I knew for a fact that I wasn't going to buy a second or a third Superman costume, so I started listing other things they could be: Batman, a dragon, Thomas the Tank Engine, a Jedi, and more.

Jack still wanted to be Superman. Quinn decided Thomas would be great, but he wanted to be "snowy Thomas." And Sam finally said, "Fine, I'll be the dragon."

Awesome kids and their picking costumes we already have.

I was completely stoked and pretty pleased with myself until October 30 when Sam got off the bus and announced he wanted to be Luke Skywalker. It was bad enough that Sam's response to, "But we don't have a Luke Skywalker costume," was, "But we can buy one!" Even worse was the way Quinn's eyes opened wide and he realized he was allowed to change his mind too.

Damn kids and their giving each other ideas.

Later, when I thought more about it, I realized that I could create a Jedi costume out of things we already had. I told Sam I could do it, but that it wouldn't be ready for school. He was thrilled and happily said he'd be a dragon at school and a Jedi for trick or treating and then gave me a giant hug.

Awesome kid giving me love.

Halloween morning Quinn decided he wanted to be Superman. Fortunately we have an extra Superman cape and some Superman gloves that Jack wasn't using. But when we got to school and he saw another kid wearing a Thomas costume, he decided he wanted to be Thomas for trick or treating.

Hilarious kid being a crazy person.

Treats:

Taking Quinn to his preschool for the Halloween parade.

You can almost tell he's wearing a costume.

Watching Jack in his first elementary school Halloween parade.

This was the photo where he wasn't picking his nose.

Seeing Jack be a good big brother at his Halloween party.

Jack seemed unusually calm when I told him
Quinn and I were going to Sam's party.
Turns out that was because he assumed he was coming too.
Turns out he was right.

Watching Sam play Halloween Bingo and stuff his face at his class party.

I didn't think I'd be walking out of school with my pockets stuffed full of candy.
Had I known, I would have brought bigger pockets.

Making a kick-ass (If I do say so myself) Jedi costume for Sam in about 10 minutes.

I know he looks surly, but he was really very happy.

Finding out that Thomas the Tank Engine keeps a light saber at the ready.

This, incidentally, is a poorly made costume.
Quinn tripped over it and fell three times, requiring much frantic
looking for candy in piles of leaves with a flashlight.

Seeing Jack completely happy with his ONE costume.

Apparently superheroes can climb trees, but need help getting down.

Inviting myself and three kids over to someone else's house for Halloween dinner.

In my defense, I did bring the makings for mummy hot dogs.

Trick or treating with daddy, who pretty much ran home to be there on time.

I either need a better camera or photography lessons.
Or both.



So, to tally up: three kids, five costumes, two Halloween parades, three class parties, one dinner of the traditional mummy hot dogs, one trick or treat session, and a shitload of candy.

Totally a treat.