And So It Begins

Ezra and Ike both attend a small after school art program on Thursdays. They adore it. Ezra's the only fifth grader (and thus the oldest), and his art is routinely heaped with praise from the teacher and gets rapt, awed wonder from a pack of kindergartner fangirls. He goes for more realism with a ton of hidden details, while Ike has more of a pop art aesthetic with lots of plays on color and proportion. Obviously, they are both artistic geniuses, but I am really running out of places to hang their masterpieces, week after goddamn week. Last Thursday, the teacher asked everyone to draw a tableau of "things you need if you have the flu." Um. Okayyyy. Timely, I guess? What's next, a portrait of their favorite fallen Democratic primary candidate? A mixed-media collage of sensible 401(k) investments to withstand a bear market? Clockwise from top left, Ezra will require: Orange juice, "Flu Medicine," what appears to be toilet paper in a tissue box, a get well card from his family, drawing/writing supplies, his glasses, a journal, cough drops, and his ADHD medicine. Ike envisions more of a looming hellscape where his room gets taken over by two-story sized... Read more →


Like Cats and Dogs

I was about a third of the way through a new post for today when I realized it was kind of heavy/mildly depressing for a Friday afternoon. And nobody wants that on their Friday afternoon! Save that shit for first thing Monday morning, as the gods intended! Instead, here's another thing that nobody wants or asked for. Boring, self-indulgent photos of my pets! Finn and Rey and Fostercat finally seem to have settled into an aloof-yet-peaceful coexistence. I've been trying in vain to get a photo of all three of them together -- between the gray tabby, black cat and a big ol' orange tom, we've pretty much got the perfect moggie trifecta here -- but so far I've only managed to catch two of them at a time. Tormund: "If I don't look at her, it's like she's not really there." Rey: "Derp?" Tormund: "I will stretch alllllll the way out over this giant tiger face to assert my size dominance, even though I'm actually terrified of everything including vacuums, power cords, loud noises, my own tail sometimes, and honestly maybe a little bit of the cat behind me who is barely half my size." Finn: "Yeah but look... Read more →


The Life-Changing Magic of the Right Goddamn Medicine

When Ezra was in third grade, I sat at a parent-teacher conference and listened to a teacher describe him as smart, but kind of lazy. His desk and backpack were a mess, he could never seem to find the right folder or worksheet, his homework was occasionally lost or late. She asked us about his nervous tic -- hands tightly clasped together, brought up to his mouth, then a strange tensing up of his entire body followed by a sharp intake of breath and a small shuddering shake/rattle. It started in kindergarten, we told her. He says it's just because he's excited. We figured he'd just outgrow it at some point, but it hadn't happened yet. When Ezra was in fourth grade, his teacher described him -- a little more generously this time -- as a daydreamer who required frequent reminders to stay on task or pay attention. He got B's and C's on his report card, and was overall a pretty average student. He tried the violin, and then cricket, quitting both in fairly short order. He began complaining that he didn't have any friends, that no one wanted to play with him at recess, and he stopped joining... Read more →


A Cat So Clever

As one of the few people in our social circle who actually saw Cats -- the OG Broadway version, not the CGI nightmare fuel currently taking a big ol' litter box dump in the box office -- I have been asked many times over the last few months to...explain...Cats. Like, what? Why? And...huh? Mostly I've just shrugged and been like, yeah. I don't understand what they were thinking. It's a pretty weird show with people dressed as cats singing song after song about different kinds of cats, but half of the words are made-up nonsense. Then one cat comes out and sings "Memory," which is the only song without any nonsense words and therefore feels like it belongs in a completely different musical and no, I don't know what the cat is even remembering in the first place because "plots" and "story arcs" aren't really this show's thing. But since it's a good song she gets to fly off the stage to cat heaven to either get reincarnated...or possibly killed off in a Logan's Run-type scenario because the show does have that whole late 70s/early 80s hellscape vibe mixed with Big Sexy Homoerotic Cat Energy. But the cats come out... Read more →


Plushie Power

To encourage Ike to stick with his various reading and writing exercises, we bribe incentivize him with plushies. The kid is crazy for plushies. Jason came up with the ingenious idea to buy a couple bulk bags of cheap knock-off Ty Beanie Boos. (You know, those little toys with the oversized sparkle eyeballs that they sell literally everywhere, so you can't walk into a grocery store or even a gas station without your child begging for a fuchsia and purple giraffe-type thing that you could've sworn you've bought five times already, but nooooo, that was Gilbert, this is Twigs. And then the other one is Sweetums, whose birthday is in February, not August. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND VITALLY IMPORTANT, MOMMMM.) Ike gets to pick one as a reward for say, mastering a new sight word deck, doing well on a spelling test, completing a writing assignment or a challenging book, etc. The plushies make him very happy, and the possibility of even more plushies motivate him to seek out even more challenges, vs. doing the bare minimum or nothing at all. Which is what we were getting before, in the pre-plushie era. I'd find stacks of homework worksheets mashed into the... Read more →


Blow Us All Away, Part Ezra

Thank you, thank you, every one, for the (always consistent yet always surprising to me, somehow) outpouring of love and support for Ike. And me, because meeeeeeeeeee. I know he's going to be just fine. (A more literal interpretation of how I wish I could send their little hearts and minds out into the world.) Anyway, let's PIVOT TO EZRA for a moment. Ezra actually started out this school year as The One I Was Most Worried About, because he was also experiencing a lot of social/recess-related anxiety. He had a pretty important friendship fizzle out last year, and coupled with the fact that he's very much an Inside Bookish Type Who's Really Just Waiting Around For Adulthood at this point, he no longer knew what to do at recess anymore. Sitting around on the Buddy Bench while contemplating the complex contradictions of his being was getting old, tbh. So he joined the school safety patrol, which meets weekly at recess. A dear friend of mine had business cards printed up for him, because he totally remembers what it's like to be a kid like Ezra. (The Baby-sitters Club books were a gift from another grown-up friend who also deeply... Read more →


Entertainingment

Once again, we threw a huge party and did not take a single photo of the actual party. Perhaps this is all a strange, yearly hoax where we only pretend to throw a huge party and like, know people and have friends. Or perhaps Friendsgiving only happens in our sick, twisted minds and we really spend the day drinking and conversing with ghosts! Here are the things I DID take photos of, in no particular order: Ezra created a scavenger hunt for the kids, complete with a big box of prizes. I had to ask about the "Stupid Hello Kitty" -- was there a smart Hello Kitty out there as well, like as a trick? -- and he explained that it was a Happy Meal "girl" toy that Ike got by mistake. "It's not stupid because it's a girl toy, though," Ezra clarified. "It's stupid because she's supposed to be a superhero but when you press on her head and it just kind of raises the arms a tiny bit and it's just..." He trailed off, visibly disgusted at the lack of product design that went into this particular Happy Meal offering. (The "Launch Pokeball" was the Happy Meal "boy"... Read more →


The Kids Are Alright. Weird, But Alright.

Happy Halloween! Noah's been ready for today for...awhile now. Ah yes, very normal and not at all creepy. His friend is coming over for trick-or-treating and scary-movie watching later, dressed as our dear friend Pennywise. (The cardboard cutout has spent October looking ominously out the front window of Noah's room, much to the dismay of several Postmates and DoorDashers.) Ike's prepared as well. He asked me to Photoshop out the swing and turn the chair into a building. I did neither of those things because I do not know how. I don't (yet) have a photo of Ezra's costume, which he made himself and kept shrouded in secrecy. He asked for an Amazon box, aluminum foil and duct tape at one point. Also hair gel and sunglasses. Oh, and all the straps from our luggage. He's either going as some kind of DJ or plans to ship himself out of the country with a new identity. Stay tuned! I admit I was a little concerned about his homemade costume -- that other kids might not get what he's going for or make fun of him for not having a "real" costume -- and found myself halfway through a sentence trying... Read more →


Cakewalk

Not going to lie, one of my primary reasons for having so many children was to have more people to bake (highly amateurish) birthday cakes for. And after many years of fielding many varied requests, all three boys have more or less settled on their birthday cake of choice. Noah always asks for a Victoria sponge sandwich cake. Ike wants the same one-bowl chocolate cake recipe I've been baking him since preschool, which eventually landed on this specific variation with grapeseed oil. (I dump the wet ingredients into a large measuring cup so it's still technically a one-bowl recipe because fuck washing bowls.) Although every year he does change up the shape, frosting and decorating details, just to keep me on my toes. (I swear one of these years he's going to request an three-tiered octagon cake with dark chocolate frosting that is also blue, somehow, and yellow candles that turn into tiny rockets that spell HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IKE! in edible red smoke and also the whole cake doubles as a party pinata full of candy and money.) (And I'll be like, okay, I'll see what I can do, but are you sure I can't interest you in a giant... Read more →


This One Goes to Eleven

I was scrolling through the hundreds of thousands of photos I've taken over the years, looking for any that screamed EZRA! in an especially Ezra-y way. I found this video from May 2015. Ezra was six. Noah was nine and Ike was just a couple weeks away from turning four. I'm not sure why I recorded it. It's just the kids running around before dinner one random night. But it reminded me I need to record more videos of them just running around before dinner on more random nights. Ezra is being SO EZRA! Ike is being SO IKE! And even Noah manages to be OMG SO TOTALLY NOAH! in a three-second cameo. Their personalities are all there; the way they interact with each other is all there. Like then, exactly like now, the same as it ever was. Ezra is 11 now. He still checks Ike's hands at the dinner table. He still indulges Noah in whatever Noah feels like doing. He still starts 90% of his sentences with, "You know, Mom..." He still eats cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine. (Now we just grow three times as many for him.) Yesterday I brought home a small wooden lantern... Read more →