Monday, April 13, 2015

weekend warriors

We were SO BUSY this weekend. SO BUSY. It was great, even though I'm really tired now. On Saturday, we took Nico to a Build & Grow clinic at Lowe's, bought some camping gear, met friends for bowling (Elliott's first time), and then had different friends over for dinner / games. On Sunday we met a friend's dad at the park for the kids' spring photos in the morning, had lunch on the patio at McAlister's, then dropped MB off at home and went to meet our playdate posse for a muddy woods adventure. (I heard one of the kids declare it to be the best day ever.) We were outside all day and Nico kept asking if we could do it again the next day. Today we were barely outside, alas. N had preschool and E had music class, then we picked up a free changing table, had lunch out, went to E's well child visit (90th percentile for weight at 32 lbs, 95th percentile for height at 36.75"), and went to the mall for a carousel ride and to pick out a buddy for Crabby the hermit crab. Sometimes I feel like work is where I go to rest up between weekends.

These few days did reinforce my suspicion that we wouldn't actually be able to stay home if I stayed home with the kids instead of working. I enjoy them so much more when we are out being busy and doing stuff. If we're at home, I am either trying to get stuff done or trying to relax while they run around burning energy, and I find myself telling them to stop running, stop screaming, stop flattening your brother until I'm sick of the sound of my own voice. When we're out and they're busy it's better because we're supposed to be busy, I guess. Then again, maybe if I stayed home and we stayed home more, we'd all be more used to it and they wouldn't run around like lunatics. Or perhaps this is precisely why my aunt and mom turned me and my cousins out into the backyard every day when we were kids. Anyway, I'm hoping against all odds that we have another amazing mild summer like last year so I can run them like dogs and keep everyone happy.

PS Nico asks me every day how many days are left until our camping trip, and it's pleasing me to no end. Probably I should start doing some kind of fair-weather chicken sacrifices or something.

Reading:  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Playing:  that Sesame Street CD, of course

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Festivus Lite

I have some minor general gripes that I'm hoping I can let go after writing them out.

1. We keep a just-in-case epi pen around for Nico even though he hasn't ever had a breathing reaction associated with his peanut allergy. Inevitably they expire and I throw them away and get more. The other day I was cleaning out the medicine bin in our cabinet looking for an extra inhaler for him and found a double pack of expired epi pens that I never even took out of the box. I get that it's a good thing to not have to use them and that it's better to have them in case we do ever need them, but it seems so colossally wasteful. I'd be even crankier if we didn't pay for them with vouchers from his allergist.

2. With Elliott starting preschool in the fall (WHUT? I know.) I figured it was time to find out what we're supposed to do about checking whether he also has a peanut sensitivity. I called the allergist's office a few weeks in advance of Nico's yearly checkup and they said for siblings they now recommend a skin test. I was able to book E for one on the same day as N's appointment, and we did that on Monday. Elliott was awesome for his test, even though I was an idiot and let them put the test drops on his soothing-fingers arm. There was something wrong with their solutions, though, and even the forced-positive histamine drop didn't cause a reaction. After waiting about 20 minutes for that test and having it fail to show anything, we ended up being sent to the lab for a finger-stick blood test instead. I'm not really upset about this because it wasn't anyone's fault that the first test failed, but I'm wondering why they didn't just do the finger-stick in the first place. With Nico they offered us a choice between doing the skin test first with a follow-up blood draw or just going straight for the blood draw. We picked option B because it just made more sense. Seems like that would've worked just as well this time, but I suppose I am not the expert.

3. There's a kid in Nico's class who is, unfortunately, kind of the regular problem child. I try really hard not to be a judgy asshole about him because he clearly has a speech delay and possibly some behavioral issues beyond just not being raised right. Because my own child makes terrible choices in school / camp friends, he hangs out with this kid all the time. Lately I'd been feeling a little soft toward Problem Classmate because he allegedly helped Nico learn to zip his jacket and has been less problem-y the last few times I volunteered in the classroom. But today the children had a really nice field trip to the local Philharmonic, and the Problem Classmate was spitting on kids from another school. I was sitting with two other moms from the class and we were all mortified. I'm shocked that our teacher didn't do anything since she's usually really stern with him, but maybe she didn't want to disrupt the group since all the adults were in the back and he was in the very front? I don't know. I nearly came out of my seat to yank him out of there myself, I was so outraged. Spitting on people! He did it again to a classmate in the bus line afterward and I grabbed him by his sleeve and yanked him out of line and told him his behavior was absolutely unacceptable. I'm sure in this day and age that would be considered overstepping but whatever. Neither of his parents were there and the teacher didn't see it and hell no, kid. Check yourself. I texted MB after the kids left on the bus and said that I felt mean thinking it, but I kind of hope this child isn't in Nico's class next year. I also realize I'm probably That Mom, but dude. No.

I'll bright-side for a moment - it was a really, really nice field trip. The children got to sit on the stage right in front of the musicians, and kids from one of the local ballet schools danced during the pieces. I'm pretty sure half the little girls lost their minds at this particular moment. I heard several breathlessly whisper, "She's a ballerina!" Bonus points if you can spot Nico in the front.

4. It's been rainy most of this week and now it's looking like it'll be rainy most of next week. I'm already tired of trying to re-book field trips at work and I'm going to be really irate if our camping weekend gets ruined. Weather, you're on notice!

5. I watched the video for Hozier's "Take Me to Church" even though I knew it would upset me. Why did I do this? Ugh. I still have a little bit of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I love the song, but I wish I'd used common sense and just avoided the video. Here's a safe version for those who are smarter than I am:

Okay, let's see if I feel better tomorrow. I'm sick of walking around with this low-level crankiness. Please feel free to use the comment section for your own airing of grievances.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Happy Easter!

The baskets were a hit. Elliott's first egg hunt (he slept through last year's) was a great success. It was a really nice holiday. I hope yours was as well!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Easter baskets!

I love Easter basket posts, so I'm doing one again. (Past years: 2013, 2014)

When I was going through the stuff I'd bought and stashed in the closet, it started to seem like I had overdone it this year. Once I got everything in the baskets to take the picture, it turned out fine. I probably did spend a little too much, but the baskets aren't as extravagant as they look (they're small baskets). Plus I'm really happy with the stuff I picked, so I am okay with them maybe being a little over the top.

I bought the two dinosaur puzzles a year or more ago and totally forgot about them. I found them when I double-checked the various boxes of gifts I have shoved in my closet and figured I should give them to the boys before they're too old for them. Each kid is getting a box of color Goldfish crackers, a little bag of vanilla yogurt pretzels, a bubble toy that you blow into like a whistle vs blowing through a wand because I'm hoping they'll be easier to use, two musical shaker eggs, an LED headlamp for camping trips, a pinwheel, a matchbox car, and two of those little plastic pullback cars from the multipacks. I found those on clearance and bought five packages in case Nico's class did an egg hunt this year. They ended up hunting for real dyed eggs, but I'll need egg-loot for Elliott's egg hunt next year, so I'm still glad I grabbed them. Other clearance deals I'm pleased with are the headlamps (which came in a package with four small flashlights and batteries for everything, at a grand total of $7.00) and the bubble blowers (which cost something like 74 cents each at the grocery).

In addition, Nico will get egg-shaped sidewalk chalk, a small 3-in-1 Lego set, and a Folkmanis great horned owl finger puppet. Elliott will get a matchbox airplane, a swimming turtle bath / pool toy, and a Folkmanis squirrel finger puppet. I love the adorable chick and carrot eggs, which were three for a dollar at Dollar Tree. I initially hoped to put some cute little plant kits from the dollar spot at Target in the kids' baskets, but Nico saw me pick them out and asked some questions about them, so I figured he'd remember that if he saw them again under suspicious circumstances. I'm not pushing the Easter Bunny myth really hard, but I also don't want to undermine it while they're still little enough for it to be fun. We went ahead and planted strawberry seeds and sensitive plant seeds today, and also gave out the little sunflower kits as treats at Nico's class party.

For some reason I was planning to stage the baskets, take a few pictures, and then put everything back into a box to store until Saturday night. Once I had them all arranged, though, I liked them too much and realized it was silly to do the same work twice, so I stashed them fully assembled in my closet behind my hanging shirts, making this the earliest I've ever had Easter stuff ready. Hooray!

For more Easter basket ideas / posts, visit Here We Go Again. Because we're supposed to tell, Nico is five and Elliott is two this year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


We take the kids to the Y on Tuesday evening almost every week. Nico has a half-hour private swim lesson and I try to get Elliott to practice swimming skills with me for at least fifteen minutes of that time. MB takes N through the men's changing room and gets him dressed, and I take E into the women's with me. He usually spends the time after his post-swim shower running around in his wearable towel, chatting with anyone who will listen while I get dressed. Last week, there were a half-dozen ladies changing after an aquacise class while we were getting dressed to go home. E ran around and chatted with some of them, they joked that they were ready to put on their pajamas. It was one of those times when the shared-jokes togetherness of a crowd feels inclusive and happy rather than awkward and odd-one-out, if that makes sense. And then, as I laid E on the bench to put him in his diaper and footie pjs, he started to sing the ABCs and the whole locker room joined in. Ladies of the YMCA changing room, you are what's right with the world.

There was a peaceful rally organized in town on Monday to protest the ridiculous new Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law last week. (Summary here for those who don't follow George Takei on facebook.) After some thought, I decided to take the kids to the rally, even though they're too young to truly understand why we went. I settled on telling Nico, "We are here because we believe everyone should be treated fairly," and "It's not fair to be mean to someone just because they're different from us." Other than one guy, the crowd was friendly and polite, and wonderfully diverse. Dozens of drivers honked and waved or gave thumbs-up as they drove by. People were really sweet to the kids. I'm very glad we went, even if Nico mostly seemed to think we were there for a fun picnic and has been asking when we can go on another picnic.

I recently friended one of the other moms from Nico's preschool class on facebook, after finding out her very sweet daughter is in the same public school district as we are and will therefore be going to Nico's elementary school next fall. The two of them showed up at the protest, too, so you can imagine my joy at discovering I managed to make school-friends with another social justice-leaning liberal. At one point N and his school friend and another little boy were running around with sidewalk chalk, drawing lines and maps to X marks the spot. A woman came over to the X at the end of their line and put some money down, and told them it was their treasure. Come on, now. Nicest political protesters of all time.

It was pretty great to have my faith in people's general goodness and generosity of spirit confirmed many times over in the wake of a week of frustration about the appalling new law. Sometimes it feels like the universe knows when some balance is dearly needed.

Reading:  (just finished) I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Playing: this song, whenever my kids aren't around requesting their beloved Sesame Street album again:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


1. The fabulous @aprilbapryll found a very nice little blue truck option on eBay (thanks, April!). After pondering for an entire morning I ended up ordering one for each of the kids. They were a little spendy, but the boys like them so I'm happy.

2. Spring weather has finally arrived! We are practically drunk with it after a long snowy winter that overstayed its welcome. The first day I put Elliott in a T-shirt for his nap, he was perplexed by the short sleeves. He kept trying to tug them down over his arms.

3. Work has been crazycakes for a little while now, and I suspect when the last two weeks are tallied up, I'll have logged a few hours of actual overtime in each of them. Since I'm supposed to work no more than 32 hours a week, logging 42 is kind of significant. I'm glad to be doing the things I'm doing, but I'm tired and hoping things ease up once we make it through this week.

4. Due to working late / bringing extra work home, I have once again failed to complete a photo book before the Shutterfly code ran out, but I did have fun going through pictures from 2013 for the attempt. The year that Nico was three and Elliott was wee!

5. We went to the zoo on Sunday, where the boys spent the afternoon looking huge and capable and handsome.

6. I took the boys to the mall on Monday to use Elliott's free birthday carousel ride coupon and to get the warranty inspection done on my engagement ring. The jewelry store had closed since our last stop there back in September, and while we were wandering around looking for it, I noticed a hermit crab kiosk. The hermit crab lady was way less pushy than the foreign makeup / lotion / nail treatment pusher guys, but I ended up impulse-buying a hermit crab for Nico. I can't even blame him, because he was clueless and didn't even notice them until I asked him if he wanted one. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The one he picked out is feisty and missing one claw, which it will supposedly regenerate the next time it molts. Now I'm concerned because once we got home and read the paper that came with the crab, I learned that hermit crabs typically use their small claw to eat and drink and their large claw for defense. I'm going to be pissed if our crab starves because he's missing his small claw. The paper also says they're social creatures that do well in groups, but I told Nico we have to wait a month and see how this one is doing before we buy another one. Maybe I need a small tattoo somewhere that says "Seemed like a good idea at the time" to remind myself that I occasionally do these things and then wonder why later. Crabby is pretty cute, though, in a crabby sort of way.

Reading:  I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Playing:  the Sesame Street CD from Elliott's birthday

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ten in ten

1. I'm extra glad I managed to record Elliott naming the animals in Bear Snores On, because the week after I did he abruptly shifted loyalty. He now requires all three Beep Beep books at bedtime, also known as Little Blue Truck, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, and Little Blue Truck's Christmas (Elliott title: Beep Beep Trees). Luckily for me I kind of adore the Beep Beep books, for they are easy to read and have utterly charming illustrations. In fact, if you find yourself buying a gift for a child between birth and age three anytime soon, I would definitely recommend any or all of the set. The original tale is only $3.97 on Amazon right now, which is almost criminally cheap. It's such a great book! Amazon also informs me there's another Beep Beep installment due out in September (the #1 upcoming release in children's farm life books, apparently). I will now await its debut with nervous anticipation...will it live up to the other three? Will Elliott still love Beep Beep in the fall?

2. I discovered Beep Beep when Nico was a toddler. I had checked out another book from the library illustrated by Jill McElmurry, Hound from the Pound, and loved the pictures. A few weeks later I was at Barnes & Noble and the title Little Blue Truck caught my eye due to Nico's vehicular obsession. I recognized the illustrations immediately and bought the book that day. We have loved it ever since, so I guess sometimes it's safe to judge a book by its cover.

3. I'm disappointed that there aren't any reasonably-priced toy little blue trucks on the market. Nico has a larger-than-Matchbox diecast vintage pickup truck that could easily pass for Beep Beep, but it's black. I've scoured the internet and checked at the three stores where we typically buy toys, to no avail. So if anyone happens to come across an old-fashioned blue toy pickup truck, that doesn't cost one meelion dollars, please buy it and I will pay you back for cost plus shipping.

4. Nico has a nice secondhand jacket that he started wearing in the fall, seen here. Apparently he had no idea the coat had pockets, because yesterday we were at the credit union depositing tax return money into the kids' accounts when he discovered them. He was putting away the little prize he got for making a deposit (a tiny plastic butterfly finger puppet) and announced with obvious amazement that hey! This jacket has pockets! Then, with even greater amazement, he cried, "Mama, there's MONEY in my pocket!" I think the $4 he found must've come with the jacket. His mind was completely blown and it was the greatest. I can remember getting $5 for my birthday when I was around eight years old and thinking that was awesome. I can only imagine the majesty of $4 at age five. I told him, you could buy a Matchbox with that and he exclaimed "RIGHT NOW?" So we went to Target, where he carefully examined many options before settling on a $3.99 Monster Jam truck (I always pay his sales tax).

5. Elliott received a CD of platinum hits from Sesame Street for his birthday and it has been the biggest hit with both kids. They especially love C is for Cookie, Monster in the Mirror, and I Love Trash. Even though I never watched Sesame Street much as a kid, I'm a fan of this CD as well, and particularly like I Don't Want to Live on the Moon, though I thought it was Kermit singing rather than Ernie.

My plan to come up with ten things in ten minutes did not work - it ended up more like five in fifteen. I think I'm happy with this compromise.