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 →


Celebrate Weird Times C'Mon

Some photos from this morning, in honor of the! Last! Day! Of! SCHOOL!! Ezra's class was instructed to wear something "tropical," hence the choice of shorts. I tried to casually suggest a different shirt and was promptly shut down, because he knows the plaid and pattern mix is "a lot of look" and THAT'S WHY HE LIKES IT. Last night the kids were all Christmas Eve-levels of excited, with all of them rushing to put themselves to bed early so today would come faster. This resulted in most of them being wide awake and massively distressed at 2 a.m., and Ike somehow slicing his foot open and having zero memory of how he managed it. I actually thought we might end up in the ER over it, but luckily it turns out the area right between your toes is just kind of dramatically bleed-y, like toddler mouths and foreheads. He's fine! And I bet his feet have never been cleaner. SPEAKING OF FEET. AND ADOPTABLE DOGS. (And yes, I posted that last photo on IG/FB already and nobody could figure out Ike's sleeping/leg arrangement. I can offer you no additional help or insights; the kid just falls dead asleep on... Read more →


Pride & Ham

It's the last week of school here; or more accurately, "school," because it's all free time and movies and water balloons from here until Friday. Soon I'll be the mother of third, fifth and eighth grade children. One of whom is going to be officially taller than me in about five minutes. (Maybe even sooner if my hair keeps deflating in the humidity like that.) Nothing like a little Baltimore sidewalk pizza, amirite? This is the finish line of the annual Baltimore Pride High Heel Race, which you will be SHOCKED to hear I did not enter. Just watching it was the most terrifying 30-plus seconds of my life, as all the various ankle/knee/elbow/face/butt injuries I've accrued over the years flashed before my eyes. (I wore sensible flats aka combat boots.) (Someone pls buy me this shirt.) Ike's been wearing those necklaces and various lanyards everywhere since Saturday; please note that I at least removed the condoms from several of them before he went to school this morning. Jason and Ezra had to leave the festivities a little early to attend sushi-making class. Ezra only ended up eating about three pieces of actual sushi, because he ate every single leftover... Read more →


Five Things, Only Two of Which Are About My Pets

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS: Jake! Is doing absolutely amazing! And available for adoption! He's officially the calmest and best-behaved animal in my entire house, so you're getting a great deal there. I will miss his super-happy-to-see-you-OMG-butt-wiggles!!! greeting every morning so much. He's such a loving, gentle creature and I am beyond honored to have played a small part in giving him the loving, pampered life he totally deserves. SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS: This door. Which apparently sucks. It's Ezra's. This is absolutely SCANDALOUS language for Ezra, so you know he means it. He's referring to the fact that once upon a time, Ike enjoyed locking doorknobs before leaving rooms, resulting in several hopelessly locked-from-the-inside doors that required the whole-ass removal of the doorknob. Several of these doorknobs were then re-installed by Me, and thus no longer quiiiiiiite right, because obviously. His door can now be opened even when it's locked, if someone (IKE) pushes on it hard enough. He just wants a #*@%ing properly installed doorknob, god#&*@it. THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS: If you haven't taken advantage of the AMALAH30 offer at thredUP yet, they've actually extended the offer so you still can! Go buy something. Treat yo self. FOURTH ORDER... Read more →


It Gets Better

If I had to name one aspect of parenting that I deeply, intensely hate, it actually wouldn't be the diapers or the sleep deprivation or the full-body bone-goop temper tantrums or even the look on your preshus beloved baby's face when you accidentally call him "sweetie" while saying goodbye in the middle school hallway. No, it'd be taking them to the damn dentist. Our past appointments easily take up several spots in my all-time top 10 Low Moments In Parenting list. We're talking screaming, kicking, crying. (Them, not me. At least not until we were back in the car.) I'd have to sit in the chair with them, pinning down their arms and legs with all the force my own limbs could muster, while a clearly pissed-off and tired-of-this-shit hygienist tried to assure them that "Mister Thirsty" was nothing to be scared of. (FUCK YOU MISTER THIRSTY, I'd think to myself, while also trying to think of post-appointment good-behavior incentives that didn't involve tooth-rotting junk food, lest the hygienist judge me even more.) We tried kid-only dentists, special-needs dentists, dentists whose lobbies were packed with video games and had televisions in the exam rooms. My kids would have none of... Read more →