Ezra (and Bluen and Bube and Jimmy and Hobbes) had all their birthday dreams come true this weekend. Including this!! This is our friend's horse Ace. She's been offering to take the boys riding awhile now, and Ezra decided that sounded like a perfect birthday activity. To be honest, I was somewhat expecting Ezra to change his mind once he was there, live and in person with a Real Horse. And I think he was a little nervous, but not enough to hop right on and give it a try. He cut his first ride fairly short, but then after watching his brothers he decided he wanted to go again. After all, it WAS his birthday. He was much more confident the second time around. I haven't ridden a horse in FOREVER, so I broke myself in on the laziest, fattest horse in the barn. "Leisurely pace" doesn't even begin to describe it, but it was nice to realize I remember how horses work, more or less. Also, I didn't fall off and die. So, success! Noah went next. He rode therapy horses a couple times in preschool so he obviously loved this, almost as much as exploring the barn... Read more →

And now it's this one's turn to go ahead and be all huge, all of a sudden. Tomorrow is Ezra's eighth birthday. He has requested Angry Birds Legos, horseback riding and a cheesecake. It is also Bluen's birthday. She asked for a new party dress, in purple this time. It is also Bube's birthday. He wants Wonder Woman, so they can get married. Would you believe it? It's also Jimmy the Baby Bat's birthday. He wants a girl bat named Lily. Not to marry, though. They are still just babies. And of course, we can't forget about Hobbes' birthday. He wants a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine set. (Hobbes is about to hit the motherload, by the way, in the form of ALL OUR OLD THOMAS TRAINS. I thought I'd given them away, but found them in an unlabeled box last week. [I went looking once I realized there was no way I could justify spending this much money on a gift for a stuffed tiger I won from a claw machine.] We somehow managed to move the entire collection from one house to the next and not realize it. So...a return to the Isle of Sodor, anyone?) I think... Read more →

Something has gone terribly amiss in our hand-me-down clothing system. Clothing size math makes me crazy, but it seems everything has collapsed due to a bad ratio of non-worn-through-the-knee pants to children-with-weirdly-similar-leg-lengths, combined with our usual oh-crap-it's-suddenly-chilly-quick-try-on-last-year's-pants seasonal unpreparedness. (The Legs Collective, back in simpler, summery-er times.) Noah's now wearing clothes long enough that they're typically destroyed before they're outgrown, greatly reducing what I can pass down to Ezra. Ike's legs are insanely long that he's practically wearing the same pants size as Ezra (who is a good head taller but super extra skinny), leading to a critical pants shortage. Ezra has attended school all week in jeans that are noticeably two inches too short, which ALSO highlights his complete lack of socks. (I mean, we have millions of socks. There are literally socks everywhere. None of the socks match, and also we are still besieged by the mysterious Zombie Baby Socks, because all I ever do is throw out or donate baby socks and yet THERE ARE STILL BABY SOCKS IN THIS HOUSE. But matching socks that fit them now? Pffft. Pipe dream. I could go buy three dozen more socks tomorrow and we'd be tapped out by Saturday.)... Read more →

Pay no attention to the new design quite yet (unless you're on a mobile device, which in that case, you are very welcome, about seven years late)...Jason jumped the gun a bit by sending it live. His priority was getting all the ad zones set up properly because of all those sweet, sweet Internet nickels; he didn't realize I wasn't down with the default fonts and wanted to test out at least fourteen dozen alternatives. I think we're currently displaying option number four and we're still not there yet. And I know some other pages are borked thanks to the bizarre way I had things set up before. Also, if anyone can help with the header/logo thing and expand some design-y doo-dads across the sea of Every Guest Bathroom I've Ever Had Green, shoot me an email with how much Cash Money you will require. But whatever, it's a site that at least looks like it's from this Internet century and maybe Google will remember that I exist again. Our original trip to Hersheypark included two days' worth of park passes. We ended up spending one day at the park and the rest of the time at our hotel's indoor... Read more →

This is the school year I have been waiting for my whole life, or at least the parenting portion of it: All three children riding the same bus, attending the same school, and being there ALL THE LIVELONG DAMN DAY. And thanks to our child-spacing math, this is the only school year where that will ever happen. So far it's been gloriously easy, but also supremely weird. I'm so used to juggling multiple schedules and exits and drop-offs that having them all walk out the door at the same time and being DONE, JUST LIKE THAT, almost feels like a trick. After they board the bus I reflexively glance around the bus stop to collect a younger child only to realize I'm about to corral someone else's toddler. By noon I'm still jolting myself with a GO PICK UP A PRESCHOOLER muscle memory. Eating lunch by myself and not making one for someone else kicks me in the emotions a little bit. (Although that might just be the dog and cats underfoot and nipping at my ankles every time I walk into the kitchen because YOU CAN FEED US ANYTIME, ALL THE TIME.) I've met them at the bus stop... Read more →

So I just dropped three entire children off at school, one FIFTH GRADER who is already so over it, a second grader who was like BYEEEEEEE PLZ LEAVE NO YAY, and sadly, the world's most terrified-looking kindergartner. Ike was expecting, I think, for us to walk him into his classroom, but since the school is approximately 97% made of kindergartners (rough estimate) at this point, they instead were corralling them in the gymnasium where each child was labeled and instructed to line up by homeroom and wait. Ike's face was like, "I'm so confused. I've made a huge mistake. Also they labeled me as Isaac." I spent ages filling out multiple forms listing both Ike's legal name and preferred name, and was assured that would be noted in "the system." It was not. His teacher promised him a new label once they got to the classroom but of course as we left we could still hear people calling him Isaac. So anybody on the to-nickname-or-not-to-nickname fence out there, I must report that a different legal name CAN be a bit of a pain in the ass, leading to blank dumb stares in doctors' offices because who the hell is Isaac,... Read more →

At da beach, hangin' with kids, hangin' with friends, hangin' with Hobbes. Who has apparently been hangin' with the spiked beach punch pretty hard. Wow, get yourself together, man. If Beach House Week 2016 has a theme, so far it's been a tie between Things You Should Not Eat: (SPOILER ALERT: Duh. This is a terrible idea. So bad. Even more vile than your wildest fever dreams are able to comprehend. My children, of course, loved them. I still threw the package out while they were sleeping because I WANT A BETTER LIFE FOR THEM, A LIFE WITHOUT THIS ARTIFICIAL ABOMINATION.) (On the other hand, while Maryland blue crabs are ALWAYS something you should eat, especially while at the beach, maybe don't attempt to eat like, 40 of them, even between four motivated adults. That's an awful lot of crab and a pretty tremendous mess.) (Especially after pigging out on Velveeta nacho dip and chips just a couple hours earlier.) //PHOTO NOT FOUND ...and theme #2, aka Burying Small Children In The Sand Is Fun: Burying Ike from amalah on Vimeo. Unburying Ike from amalah on Vimeo. (Noah was having none of the burying business, naturally, but he's here and... Read more →

Happy belated Fourth of July! We decided to try something a little different this year -- a picnic and symphony orchestra concert at a local park, followed by fireworks. Kids were SUPER into it. Clearly. (Weary sigh.) I figured there'd be SOME downtime where the kids might need some please-stop-wandering-and-stay-on-the-blanket tethering entertainment, but unfortunately they powered through all the sandwiches and snacks and an entire case of juice pouches within the first 30 minutes. And we still had about three and a half hours to go before fireworks. There was a Star Wars melody at some point (aka the point during which I was stuck in an obscenely long bathroom line) and Jason reported that they did in fact look up from the warm glowy glowboxes and deem it "cool." Then they all asked if we could watch the fireworks from the parking lot instead, because they always sit on top of the car for fireworks. What's this picnic blanket shit? Why were we messing with tradition? In the end, it was a great fireworks show and everybody enjoyed it. (The hour-and-a-half wait to get out of the parking lot, however, not so much. Probably should've listened to the kids... Read more →

Ike had his first "real" birthday party this weekend, aka the kind of party where we sacked up and invited his entire preschool class to an actual organized party, rather than just half-assedly inviting a bunch of our friends over to barbecue and eat cupcakes in the backyard. Five years old calls for a proper birthday party, I think. Ike chose a pizza-making party at a local restaurant, blatantly copy-catting his classmate who had the same party not that long ago. But hey, the party package included invitations, cookie decorating, pre-made goody bags and I didn't have to clean up a thing. I like how you roll, child. Jason did have to pitch in and help with some dough shaping, which apparently was MUCH harder than it looked, AMY, STOP LAUGHING. Poor Noah was having a fairly severe sensory freak-out over the tie-dye wall decor and getting flour on his hands, and also a touch of I'm too big for this shit existential crisis, but participated anyway to make Ike happy.* I offered Ike the choice of whatever kind of cake he wanted, figuring he'd pick something that would require a professional decorating job, but no. He wanted a plain... Read more →

Before I left for my (brief, more-time-on-planes-than-on-the-ground) trip to California (for all of one day at the Mom 2.0 Summit), I had a LOT of shit to get done. Important shit. Like this: My track record for chaperoning field trips in horrible weather remains almost impeccable. If there's an outdoor activity planned, the temperature will inexplicably drop 20 degrees that day. If there's a hayride involved, it's going to rain, so prepare yourself for a damp butt. I was supposed to chaperone Noah's fourth-grade field trip to Annapolis that morning, before realizing I was double-booked. Triple booked, actually, because Ezra had a doctor's appointment to get his hearing re-checked, so Jason had to cover that one, right before I bailed on him for the next two days. Whoops. So yeah. Ezra recently failed a hearing screen at school. Just like he failed a hearing screen back in preschool. That time a follow-up revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and the doctor suggested that he was just too little to understand the testing instructions. This time the follow-up revealed that his eardrums are misshapen. That's usually is the result of chronic ear infections or allergies, neither of which really applies to... Read more →