Monday, April 30, 2012

I Know When to Admit That I'm Wrong. Occasionally.

You know how every married woman who blogs writes a post to honor her husband on his birthday and it is really nice and lovely and makes you think that the dude is a really great guy and that he's married to a stand up chick?

This is not that blog.

Alex's birthday was weeks ago. The reason I'm writing about it now is that his present came last week and it was exciting. Sadly, he was out of town when it arrived, so he was the last one to use it, but the kiddos and I really enjoyed it.

I should back up. Well, I "shouldn't," but I want to and it's my blog so I won't not be backing up for you.

Jack threw up in the hallway at school the day Alex's gift arrived.

Wait. I should back up. (See above.)

Jack gets carsick. Jack especially gets carsick in the morning. Jack has to ride in my car for an hour every morning because of our fucked up driving schedule. Usually he's okay, but sometimes he pukes because of this. I prefer that he do it a block away from the school, but that doesn't always happen. One time I opened the car door in the drop off lane and he leaned out and puked all over the curb in full view of the main office.

Once you puke at school, you are officially persona non grata for that day. It doesn't matter that I know and you know and Jack knows and the whole damn school knows that it was because he was carsick. If a kid throws up on school grounds and an adult witnesses it, you have a buddy at home for the day.*

(*Exception: Quinn. Sometimes they let him stay because he pukes if you, like, cough loudly in front of him.)

Anywho. I drove all my kids to school that day, came home, sat down, and the phone rang. It was my friend, the school nurse. Jack never even made it to class. He threw up right in the hall. You know the rest.

So, Jack and I were at home. We had a brief but intense scuffle over the homework he would have been assigned that day. I emerged with a Phyrric victory.

All of that is to say that Jack was home when Alex's birthday present arrived.

Oh no. I fear I have to back up again.

I bought Alex's birthday present a long time ago. I mean, there is no way on earth that it would have arrived in time for his birthday, but it surely shouldn't have taken as long as it did. See, I bought Alex a hammock. He asked for it and I thought it was the stupidest present ever, but I decided to buy it for him anyway.

The hammock part of the thing came quickly, but the hammock stand did not. Eventually I got an email from the vendor saying that my return had gone through and that my money had been refunded, which was a drag because I was not entirely sure that I could hold up a hammock USING AIR.

It turned out to have been a mistake. "The shipper damaged the package during shipping," they told me, "and just returned the remains to us."

Naturally I wonder what exactly the hell happened to that hammock stand. Remains? Really? I almost asked for a photograph, but the customer service rep was busy helping me re-place the order and waiving the shipping so I didn't want to rock the hammock, so to speak.

So, hammock remains...shift forward...Jack carsick...shift forward...Jack at home...shift forward...hammock stand arrives.

Are we all caught up? Good.

So, after the homework battle was waged and won and the video game reward was presented and used, we needed another activity. The arrival of the hammock stand was perfect. Jack was tailor made for hammock stand unpacking and construction, mostly because it involved lots of metal tubes packaged in bubble wrap.

This is Jack, living the dream.

*I* was less delighted by the contents of the package, mostly due to this:

Thanks, Captain Obvious.

Fortunately, my partner had a gung ho attitude and set to work.

I always think the smallest person should do the heaviest lifting.

We even found a secondary use for the hammock stand.

I almost left it as a tightrope structure.
Couldn't be more stupid than a hammock, I thought.

The next step was maybe even more fun for Jack than the bubble wrap because it involved carabiners and chains, which offered all kinds of shiny metal fun. I'm actually a little surprised that he hasn't since disassembled the thing.

I should buy him some chains for his own birthday.

Jack was excited to be the first one to try out the hammock.

He was delighted. It was even better than chains.

By sheer coincidence, I happened to be taking a photo when Jack and I discovered the back breaking capabilities of the hammock as well.


Evidently there is a balance element to sitting in a hammock.

So here's the thing about the hammock. It has turned out to be maybe the most awesome thing we've ever owned. Jack lies in it and it kind of wraps around him and swings and is in the sun and is sort of the best thing ever for a kid with the exact sensory seeking profile as Jack.

He LOVES it. I'm thinking of replacing his bed with one.

I think that Alex thinks it is all right too. Quinn was so thrilled when he came home. He made me make him a glass of lemonade with ice cubes and a bendy straw to take to the hammock, because evidently that is what you do when you have a hammock.

I've been won over too. Somewhere between snuggling with Jack in the sun and sitting in the thing while Jack asked if he could gently rock it, I decided that we might be a hammock family after all.

Good times, y'all.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Listen to Your Stimey

Guess what I'll be doing next Sunday? (Hint: Hopefully not puking on stage in front of 350 people.)

I'll be in the cast of the DC production of Listen to Your Mother at the Synetic Theater in Arlington. The show starts at 2 pm and it is going to be amazing. I am in some incredible company with some fantastic writers and some good friends. You can buy your tickets online. A portion of proceeds from the show go to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation in Susan Niebur's name.

I can't wait.

I can't tell you what I'll be reading, but I can tell you that it is one of my favorite things that I've written. Last week, I answered some questions on the LTYM DC website, and I thought I would share them with you here too.

LTYM: When did you first hear about LTYM? Why did you decide to audition?

Jean: I first heard about it last year when I saw some buzz about it online. When I heard that it was coming to DC this year and that two of my favorite people were producing and directing it, it was a no-brainer. The piece I’m reading is really important to me and is a message that I try to get out all the time. To be able to deliver it to a room full of mostly parents? It’s a dream. Also, I have an enormous ego, so forcing a room full of people to listen to me is awesome.

LTYM: When did you first start to feel like a mother?

Jean: The first time I had to write a note to excuse my kid for being absent from school. I was struck by this intense feeling of, who the hell put me in charge of these actual human beings?!

LTYM: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever said to your kids?

Jean: Today? “Just because the sausage patty is on a fork doesn’t mean it is good manners to hold it near your mouth and nibble on it.” Ever? More than I can remember. My family life is an exercise in absurdity, from the time I was catching my runaway dog (who had run INTO the neighbors’ house) only to turn around to see my toddler crossing the street by himself…while holding scissors—to the time a couple weeks ago, when I had to drag my 8-year-old out of a different neighbor’s house after he’d climbed the fence into their yard, gone into their living room, and basically decided to live there. Mostly instead of saying crazy things to my kids, you will catch me mumbling under my breath, “This was the worst idea ever,” and maybe sobbing softly.

LTYM: What is your biggest parenting challenge right now?

Jean: My kids are intense. I often say that we are a neurodiverse family (usually while waving my hands in the air and making high pitched laughing noises as I try to corral my kids in a public place). I have a son with ADHD, a son with autism, and a son with…quirkiness. I myself have my own issues, something my husband referred to the other day as my “neurological widgy-wudgy.” Sounds about right. We’re not your typical family, and we are all trying to find a way to make our way in a world that isn’t always friendly to people with invisible disabilities.

My biggest parenting challenge is making sure that other people value my kids for who they are, including and especially, the public school system. Finding the right educational environment for kids outside the norm is really hard and it is a battle that takes place for at least 13 years. I am on year four. As with any parenting challenge though, you have to look at the essence of your child and know that the little soul in there is worth everything. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

LTYM: What do you most wish for your boys’ future?

Jean: I want them to be happy. That is all. I don’t care how it comes to them or what shape it takes. I just want them to be happy.

I jokingly complain a lot about my kids. I whine. I cry. I acknowledge that parenting is the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. But even on their worst day, those kids are such a gift to me. I am the luckiest mom in the world to get to parent them. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me think. All I can hope to do to repay them for the great honor of being their mother is to try to give them the tools to create their happiness.


Hey, friends! I am so grateful to every single one of you who donated to the Cheetahs. I can't tell you how much every single donation meant to me. (Thank you to the newest donor, Curt and family. You took my breath away today.) I looked at every name and thought about how wonderful you are for seeing how much the Cheetahs mean to Jack and the rest of my family and stepped up to help us. Really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

If any of you donated $50 or more and haven't gotten an email from me asking for your t-shirt size, drop me a line so I can make sure you get yours! Also, the actual Cheetah-thon is coming up on May 12, so if you want to join us, you can register online!

I promise to stop hounding you about stuff come mid-May. By then, frankly even *I* will be tired of me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Will Never See That Hour Again

I must really, really love this little muffin here...

...because tonight I found this....

...somewhere in here:

It was in the ninth bucket I combed through.

But it helped said muffin make this... I guess it was worth it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I think it is possible that I haven't shared enough of my psyche with you yet. I mean, no one has shown up at my house to pad my walls yet, so I feel as if maybe I've been hiding too much from you.

We're going to change all that tonight.

I had an opportunity recently to take a Rorschach test. Fortunately, part of the test was not knowing how to spell "Rorschach" because that is the hardest word to spell since, well, ever. And, yes, I know it is a name. That doesn't make it better.

I'm going to run you through what I saw in the ink blots. I know. I'm not sure we're ready either, but I haven't manicured any rodents this week, so we're going to have to go with it because I don't have anything else to write about.

Now, I've taken the liberty of including a link to the Wikipedia page for the Rorschach test, so you can find out what you were SUPPOSED to see. (No, they aren't all penises, you sickos.)

I suggest you wait until after you guess to see if you were correct. That's how it works, right? You correctly identify enough moths in the ink blots and you get a piece of paper stamped "MENTALLY STABLE"? Because mine hasn't come yet, but sometimes the mail runs slow.

For those of you out there who are either real psychologists or armchair psychologists, let's not try too hard to get to the depths of Stimey and the inner recesses of her brain. No one wants that. Like, if my answers make it clear that I have repressed memories of a Godzilla rampage in my youth, I don't need to know.

Well. THAT I need to know—frankly, THAT the world needs to know—but you get the gist.

So, sit down, buckle up, and welcome to my mind.

Inkblot one: Clearly this one is a movie poster. I mean, isn't this the image movie producers regularly use to freak people out when they walk past the movie theaters?

Here's the thing though. This was card number one and I didn't want to come off as a crazy person, so instead of telling the tester that, I honed in on those little pinchy things at the top middle (imagine me making "pinchy claw" gestures with my hands in the psychologist's office at this point) and told her that it was a beetle...with wings...wearing a dress.

See? NOT a crazy person.

Inkblot two: I didn't see a damn thing in this one, so I spent several seconds desperately trying to see something before I finally said, "That void in the middle looks like an airplane." I think I might have said that the top red parts looked like faces as well. I'd also like to point out that the red blotch at the bottom looks like a moth. We're two for two for creepy flying insects here, people.

Inkblot three: This one was my favorite. Look at those adorable snooty men having drinks. Don't you love them? You can tell they are snooty because of their pointy noses and fancy high heeled shoes. You can also tell that they are wearing tuxedos because all snooty, high heeled shoe-wearing men in my brain wear tuxes.

Inkblot four: So Godzilla is standing in front of you, and maybe a little bit above you somehow. See his little claw hands? (Me: "pinchy claw" gestures again) See his tiny little head with his tiny little snout waaaaaay up there in the sky? See my father issues laid completely bare?

 Inkblot five: Really? Another moth?

Oooh! Speaking of insects, remind me to tell you about the praying mantis egg case I bought. Theoretically it could hatch 75-200 tiny manti. (I prefer to pluralize words like this with an "i." Figure that out, Mrs. Psychologist.)

Anyway, the manti hatching is going to be fucking terrible—especially after the dozens of tiny manti turn into dozens of large manti. I'll be spending the summer inside, thank you very much.

Although, frankly, it is likely that I will kill them in infancy, so I probably shouldn't worry too much.

Inkblot six: I stared at this one for a long time before I censored my original thoughts to say that this was a cat that was squished flat. I'm not sure that was better. But, I'm sorry, if you try to tell me that this cat is not flattened, YOU are the one who is disturbed.

What I really wanted to say is that I saw Bill the Cat here. You see it too, don't you? And if it IS Bill the Cat, it kind of makes more sense that he's flat right?

Inkblot seven: This one is SO CLEARLY angry bunny rabbits. See their ears and their little open mouths? They are shouting at each other. I told the psychologist that and then I said, "They're hoppin' mad!" and laughed and laughed and laughed. The psychologist paused, looked at me, gave me a little courtesy laugh, and then she wrote something down on her piece of paper.

I'm pretty sure she was writing down "MENTALLY STABLE."

Inkblot eight: At first I was all, "Color?! I don't know what to do with this!" and then I was all, "Look at those adorable little badgers on the outside." Then I told the psychologist that the inside parts looked like a skeleton. I refrained from saying, "Honey badger don't care. Honey badger don't give a shit."

But I really, really wanted to.

Inkblot nine: I just now, right this very moment, saw the orange seahorses here. Damn, I wish I'd seen that before, because I really saw nothing in this. I was going to tell the psychologist that I saw an inkblot, but that seemed like the kind of smart ass response that gets you a demerit on your psychological report.

God knows I don't need any more of those.

Frankly, I don't even remember what I told her. Maybe I said that it looked like a map of Europe. No, really. I think that is what I said. Because that makes sense.

Inkblot ten: Bugs. Lots of bugs. There are caterpillars and grasshoppers and terrifying blue spiders. Oh dear lord, there are 158 praying manti in there too.

Also the Eiffel Tower.

So that's it. If you're still with me, you are either with me for the long haul or you are slowly backing away while trying to get your car keys out of your pocket.

Now you have my subconscious as well as my conscious. Don't say I never did anything for you. Please feel free to inadvertently share some deep secret pocket of your mind in the comments to level our playing field if you so desire.


I have a few other things as well—things that are less disturbing than the interior of my brain.

1. Thank you to Joey and Andy for your donation to the Cheetahs. Thank you all!

2. Have you ever hosted a playdate? Then you might be familiar with the Playdate Timeline that I wrote about over at White Knuckle Parenting.

3. Jack and I went to see a sensory friendly performance at the Kennedy Center last week and then I wrote about it at Autism Unexpected.

4. Listen to Your Mother DC ran a cast spotlight of me featuring a GIANT PHOTOGRAPH right up at the top. Check it out!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Guinea Pig Pedicure

As promised, the guinea pig pedicure. Fair warning: I've been drinking.

I wrassled with a deadly animal this morning. Two of them. They had jaws like clamps and talons like daggers. Those bastards were so rough that my friend Heather needed me to help her tame them. Are you ready to see the dangerous creatures? I'll only show you one at a time. Two might be too much to handle.

Hi, Poppy!

I know. She looks harmless. But you haven't seen the devastation they can leave behind with their little pointy feet. Be warned. Heather is contorted by revulsion over the damage inflicted by the toe scalpels of the guinea pigs.

Or laughing because I am too ridiculous to deal with at 9 a.m.

I was called in to help my friend Heather cut her guinea pigs' toenails because...well, because of the injuries. Those nails needed to be lopped off. She called me in particular because I was pretty cocky about my cat nail cutting skillz. When I was bragging about how awesome I was at cutting animal nails, I forgot three important things:

1. Guinea pig nails are about the size of grains of rice.
2. I don't cut my dog's nails because she bites.
3. Turns out I am NOT awesome at animal nail cutting.

Lest I be forced to admit fallibility, however, I decided to forge ahead. I did send this missive ahead of time to warn her: "You do understand that it is extremely unlikely that I will be able to successfully help you do the nails, right? I mean, I'll give it a go, but do you promise to not sue if I cut off a toe or something?"

Evidently not too concerned, she shot back, "Only if you don't sue when Cow bites a chuck of flesh off your hand."

Allrighty then. We're set to go.

First, however, we had to line up the tools of the trade. Heather found some old baby clippers, gardening gloves, and a guinea pig.

 We sent the 5-year-old in the house to locate some animal control measures...

...and we were ready!

Except with one adult holding a guinea pig and the other adult cutting its nails, who is left to (a) take photographs and (b) make sure the 5-year-old doesn't make mischief?

Problem solved!

Mission Guinea Pig Pedicure had begun!

Heather wore the gloves, but Poppy bit ME.

Interesting fact: Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet and three toes on their back feet. That is some fucked up shit, y'all.

See those cut nails? I hope you're appreciating my awesomeness.

After returning Poppy to the cage, I asked Heather if she wanted to give nail trimming a try with Cow. She started to turn me down, but after I asked her if I was going to come cut their nails every month for the next eight years, she agreed to give it a go.

She did a lovely job, although I don't know if I have ever seen a more panicked expression on a small animal's face before.

That didn't stop her from gnawing on that carrot though.

This episode was ultimately less exciting that I expected. There was no blood, no guinea pig escapes, and each pig still has all 14 of their toes. AND I was dumb enough to help make Heather comfortable with the process so I won't be invited over to play with the little guys next month.

I'm sorry. I feel like I've failed. I know you like it when I'm a disaster. I apologize for being competent. If it makes you feel any better, I sucked at every single other thing I did today except for when I took a nap.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

#42 in Da House

Sometimes my blog posts just write themselves.

Last Saturday was photo day at hockey practice. The coaches and some parent helpers wrangled all of the kids into poses in front of the net, while a volunteer photographer took shots of each player. I imagine that it was a long and cold couple of hours for her.

But, oh dear lord, it was worth it.


You guys, that isn't even the best photo though. I watched rink side as the coach tried to take my kid, who is all about expressing himself with his face, and maneuver him into what eventually turned into that photo up there. The path to that photo though? Awesomer than awesome.

It turns out that what I find to be incredibly frustrating when *I* am trying to take a photograph of Jack, I find endlessly hilarious when he does it for other people.

Here is his first photo:

That kid has some joy in him, that is for sure.

This is photo two, after the coach got him into a hockey pose:

That tongue is still there though.

Eventually they got him to face the right direction and retract the tongue.

I've never seen that expression on his face before, but I LOVE it.

It's hard to maintain the crazy for so long though, so eventually Jack eased into a smile.

I'm hoping he'll turn into the class clown. I think we have a good shot at it.

And then he morphed into the kid you see here, who is actually sort of disturbingly mature looking. I'm a little distressed about the growing taller, older, and into a dude that I am seeing in him. I swear that he was six years old yesterday.

I do enjoy the handsome though.

That said, lovely as the above photo is, I might prefer the first one. It has more...personality.

Jack has a lot of that.

You can still donate to the Cheetahs online or you can register to attend Jack's birthday party the Cheetah-thon on May 12 from 5-7 p.m. at the Rockville Ice Arena.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Things That Amused Me/Happened at the Maryland Zoo

By the last day of our ELEVEN DAY LONG spring break I was desperate to get out of my house. By that point in our "vacation," I would have taken the munchkins on a day-long trip to a pottery and crystal gallery if it would have kept them out of the house long enough for them to stop shouting at each other about not wanting to share their things.

Fortunately, there were places other than the pottery and crystal gallery open that day. In fact, one of those places that was open fit my criteria of being a place you could shout in, somewhere that had food, a place where it was hard to break things, and was a fair distance away from my house so I could strap my kids quietly into the car for a good amount of time on the way there and back.

Not to be confused with the National Zoo;
probably to be confused with the Baltimore Zoo, which is what it used to be called.

Algernon went too. He was going to have all kinds of adventures at the zoo, but it turns out that once I had to start doing the "one kid, two kid, three kid, two kid, three kid..." routine all by myself at a brand new to us location, Algernon decided he wanted to hang out in my bag and not bother coming out. Funny that.

He did stop to take a thorn out of this lion's paw, which was hard,
considering the paw was made out of iron.

Going anywhere with my three kiddos is totally an exercise in hilarity and that day at the zoo was no exception. I was all excited that morning, so I was surprised when my enthusiastic, "WHO WANTS TO GO TO THE ZOO?!?!" was met with, "Meh," and "Not me," and "NOOOOOOO!!!!"

For reals. It's like I was asking if I could take them to the broccoli factory.*

Fortunately, I don't much give a damn what they want to do, so I stuffed them in the car and dragged them down there anyway. I did make one really good decision, which was to take a bag of cheesy popcorn with us, which distracted Quinn for at least an hour.

It is ridonkulous how much food he can pack away.

It also made us at least one enemy in the tram line where the kids behind us watched my kids snarfing up their snack and started demanding food from their mother. I never know what to do in those situations. Do I offer some popcorn to the mom to give to her kids? Do I pretend like I don't hear them? Do I shrug guiltily and look away?

Do I encourage my kids to raise the popcorn victoriously
over their heads in a fist pump of joy?

The reason I chose to take them to the Maryland Zoo instead of the National Zoo is because (1) we have never been there, so I figured it would be new and exciting, and (2) they have polar bears and penguins. I figured that these things would make up for the fact that you have to pay admission.

They did. Polar bears are awesome.

Does anyone else wish that there were Dharma Initiative
hatches and whatnot in this habitat?

I was a little disappointed that the polar bear wasn't swimming and diving and being otherwise awesome, but he did rub his butt up against some rocks, so that was entertaining.

Because I'm six, I yelled, "He's scratching his butt on the rocks!"
and, like, ten kids came running over.

The Maryland Zoo isn't all smiles and sunshine and polar bears and penguins. There is also a cave, which sounds awesome if you like caves (and I do) and it kind of is awesome, but it is also REALLY dark. I only took one photo in the cave, because...hello, dark—and it is not of the fuzzy bear or interesting stalactite variety.

It is of the horrifyingly scary wolf spider variety.

The only reason I share that with you (because, frankly, even *I* would stop visiting my blog if there were regular photos of spiders on it; in fact, I don't think I'll ever be able to read this particular post again because of this photo) is to illustrate how goddamn dark that cave was. Imagine my "one kid, two kid, three kid..." count in the pitch black. Then picture Jack finding every single tiny corner nook and hiding the deepest crooks of each of them.

Sometimes I think the people who design these things are just laughing at us parents.

It is a minor miracle that I didn't lose anyone in there among the wolf spiders and shadows.

From there, it was just a short trip past a collapsed bridge (for real), a slide in a tree-shaped building that my kids refused to come out of, and several photographs of common ducks later, until we made it to the petting farm. The petting farm consisted entirely of goats.

This is Jack mind melding with one of those goats.

Aside: That photo takes my breath away every time I look at it. Jack has a thing with animals. I'm not entirely sure the goat was on board with the gazing into each others' souls thing, but Jack was.

After the goats and the hand washing that followed, we went on the train. Now, I'm going to drop a tip on you here: Unless your kids are really into trains, you can skip this one at the Maryland Zoo. You don't really see many animals and it is a pretty short trip for the $3/ticket cost.

Fortunately, my kids are into trains, so I felt that the trip was money...spent. In much the same way as my children were super excited when I asked if they wanted to go to the zoo, they were equally excited when I told them to give me their Biggest Train Smiles!

Way to show your gratitude, kiddos!

At least I have Jack in my corner.

Turns out that his Biggest Train Smile is kinda goofy.

From there, we headed over to lunch. It was chilly during our day at the zoo, so I let my kids sit in the sun at a table while I bought their lunch and kept an eye on them ("one kid, two kid, three kid..."). They ate their food and then Jack evidently decided that sitting on a bench didn't make him warm enough, so he sought heat iguana-like on the pavement.

He attracted a surprisingly small amount of attention.
And, yes, I know it's gross. I don't really care.

After lunch it was time for what I had been dreading: The Bathroom.

Those of you with opposite gendered children understand what I am talking about here. Sam can go into bathrooms by himself and Quinn is still young enough to seem appropriate in the women's restroom with a parent. Then there is Jack. He is almost nine. He sticks out if I take him with me into a public restroom. I've gotten looks from Judgey McHaterpants for doing so. He is usually fine by himself in public restrooms, but sometimes he dawdles and doesn't come out and I hate making it Sam's responsibility to drag him out.

Normally I send them all into the men's bathroom together and carefully watch the door to catch them on their way out, but if I am going to the bathroom as well and won't necessarily be at the door when they come out, I don't like sending Jack and Quinn in. God only knows where they would go if they came out and I wasn't there.

Therefore, I told Jack and Quinn that they were coming to the women's restroom with me and Sam that he would go to the men's room by himself and then we would all meet just outside the bathroom.

But then as we approached the bathrooms with our plan in place, Sam spotted the family restroom (the savior of families like mine) and suggested we use it. I turned for a second to see where the bathroom was, turned back around, started my headcount ("one kid, two kid..."), and realized Jack wasn't there anymore.

I sent Sam to check in the men's room and I went to check in the women's room because I couldn't think where else Jack would have gone. I was so explicit about our bathroom instructions, that we were Going to The Bathroom, this is how we are Going to The Bathroom, and with whom and in what order we were Going to The Bathroom, so I couldn't imagine him heading off to the goats or the train or to be eaten by the lions or whatever.

But, the truth remained, Jack was missing, he was not in the women's room, and Sam said he was not in the men's room. Just like on Loon Day, I passed the point when I was trying to quietly deal with the situation by myself.

My natural instinct is to not draw attention to myself, so it went against every part of me to do what I did next, which was to shove my way to the front of the line at the ice cream booth to report my missing child, something the teenagers there were ill-prepared to hear. I tried to spur them into action by using scary words like "eight years old" and "autistic."

They claimed to be "calling someone," so I returned to scanning the area for either Jack or a more responsible adult zoo employee who would understand that TIME IS OF THE MOTHERFUCKING ESSENCE HERE, PEOPLE.

It was shortly after this point when I spotted Jack sitting criss-cross-applesauce very obediently on the ground in front of the men's room, where he had apparently been the whole time. (Dammit, Sam, we have to work on your search and rescue skillz.)

"You told me to go to the bathroom," he said.

I shoved my way to the front of the ice cream line one more time to cancel the Amber Alert I had instigated and which had never materialized, then we went back to the family restroom and Jack and I had a little heart to heart and I pulled myself together.

Then we stood in the ice cream line where I ended up paying a tremendous amount of money for ice cream for my kids just because I was so happy that all three of my kids were still present and accounted for and I didn't even give them the lecture about how if they were cold, ice cream would make them even colder.

Quinn opted for something even messier.

Quinn was going to save some of his cotton candy for Alex, because Alex likes cotton candy. I convinced him that it was unnecessary to do so (mostly because I would have had to drag it all over Baltimore).

There was probably a full serving left on Quinn's face after he was done eating.

After we Went to The Bathroom and ate/smeared our desserts, we headed over to the chimpanzees, where we saw some extremely inappropriate behavior.

Seriously. It was a scene. Feeding time seemed to get them sexually excited.

I did not photograph the obscenities. You are welcome.

There were also lions and an elephant that was trying to eat the (greener, literally) grass on the other side of the fence and the elephant that was playing with a tire (I originally wrote "tiger" instead of "tire," which, honestly, would have been even cooler) and there were more ducks and some other birds and I actually gave my kids quarters to look through those stupid things that look like alien faces but that you are never quite able to find what you are looking for through them.

These things.

Then it was off to the penguins, who did all kinds of cute waddling around, but not enough jumping in the water for Quinn.

This one did work the audience by swimming through cherry blossoms.

Then off to the cheetahs, because come on, cheetahs. The Cheetah Cheetah is in the background of this photo of Cheetah Jack.

Cheetah Jack's expression is better though.

I also really liked this bird. This bird had giving the Whale Eye down to a science.

It seemed like hard work to be this bird though.

So, the way the Maryland Zoo is set up, the entrance is either a tram ride or a short walk to the actual exhibits. We took the tram in the morning, but the line was really long in the afternoon, so we decided to walk back. Unfortunately, my kids have all kinds of different speeds. Sam is Mr. Fast and Jack is Mr. Slow and Quinn is Mr. Travel Twice the Distance by Running Back and Forth.

Sam is waaaay up in the front. Quinn continues to levitate.

This "5-10 minute walk" took a lot longer for us. Why? This:

Jack meanders like it is his motherfucking job.

And then just because I love this photo because it is very Sam and Quinn.

Sam is being crazy swinging our sweatshirt and Quinn has lost a shoe.

After we had looked at all the animals, I asked if everyone had had fun and they grudgingly admitted that they had. So then I asked them if they could show their gratitude by smiling in unison and not looking crazy for a photo for me.

This is as close as they got.

I'll take it.

There is the last day of spring break. Now perhaps you understand why I was so happy to send them back to school.

* a.k.a. the "farm"


Thank you to Kirstin G. for your donation to the Cheetahs. You all make me so happy. Thank you, my loves.