Noah really wanted a birthday party this year. Jason was happy to oblige and slapped down a deposit on a video game truck rental; meanwhile I balled up into the fetal position every time I thought about it. A party. At our house. With children. Or maybe no children? Or not enough children? Noah happily handed out invitations to his entire class and several friends from last year, I absorbed any and all social anxiety on his behalf and felt an acute ache in my chest with every day that brought another "no, can't make it, sorry!" or complete radio silence. Finally there were some yeses, we sent in reminder cards and got a couple more. The day of the party, we still hadn't heard from well over a dozen parents. ' But at some point, I stopped caring. I woke up feeling good. Relaxed. The house was spotless and we kept everything else as low key as possible. We had enough children and adults coming to definitely qualify as a party, including all the people I know Noah cares the most about. They all arrived with big hugs and smiles and gifts and explored the house in a wild,... Read more →

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 →

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 →

Less than a week before Noah's birthday, I still didn't have a present for him. Or even a vague idea of what present to buy him. I mean, obviously it was going to be Something Lego, because look at how Not Enough Legos We Have: (We bleached and Nature's Miracled the entire stash, just to be safe, then laid them outside to dry. And then we forgot about them and it rained. And then it rained again and again and now they are finally ALMOST dry and falling through the cracks in the deck and it's basically my Lego Anxiety Dream brought to terrifying life.) What Noah REALLY wanted was a discontinued Back to the Future set. Which I found on eBay for a pretty ridiculously high price, considering the size of it, and so I informed that NOPE, NOT HAPPENING. PICK AGAIN. His SECOND choice was a not-discontinued but even more bonkers expensive Ghostbusters set, because he has suddenly landed smackdab into the 1980s fanboy demographic. I again said sorry, no, we're not buying anything that expensive. His third choice was disappointed silence. Crap. One of the many small businesses from downtown Ellicott City is an independent Lego seller/reseller,... Read more →

Eleven years ago, this happened. Our (not-so) little perfect baby arrived. And everything changed forever. Last night during dinner, Noah held his hands up, fingers spread wide. "Starting tomorrow I won't be able to show how old I am with my hands anymore." Into uncharted territory, once again. He looks just like his dad. He got a small, adorable smattering of freckles across his nose this summer and sandy bit of blond back in his hair. His feet are officially bigger than mine and I can just rest my chin on the top of his head, and at least once a week he'll turn a hug into a jump, just to make sure I can still pick him up, even if it's a struggle and only for a minute or two. It's still all Legos and Minecraft and comic books, along with a deep interest in the many theories and philosophical aspects of time travel. This year, however, he's doing his biography book report on Alexander Hamilton. ("SIT DOWN JOHN YOU FAT MOTHER BEEEEEEEEEEP" is his favorite most inappropriate turn of phrase. Probably my bad.) He would like everyone to vote for Hillary Clinton, our first Girl President, a milestone... 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 →

Wow, I just realized how completely overboard I've been going lately with the CATS CATS CATS stories and photos. It's like, are the kids still around? Has anyone checked on the kids? Yep, still around. And clearly very busy. (He actually seems genuinely fine with this.) Noah is just days away from his 11th birthday, Fellow Olds. And while he still hasn't voiced any displeasure/resistance to making appearances here, it's rare these days to have anything really significant to report about him. Current life goals involve learning to program so he can get a job at Minecraft and make enough money to buy a Delorean, then quit the Minecraft gig and be a full-time professional time traveler. He'd be happy to tell you his theories on time travel, if you have approximately 17 free hours. Also I spaced out this morning and poured milk in his cereal, which was the single worst thing I have EVER done to him, especially since it was the LAST BOWL OF CEREAL. He ate maybe three mournful bites and then made himself some rage-toast out of spite. Mark this date down and Never Forget. Noah clearly will not. (I just got up to pee... 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 →