Monday, June 30, 2008

All is Fair

Rather than observing Please Take My Children to Work Day, I found myself taking my children to the DMV this morning -- not a fun place for anyone, let alone 5-year-olds. We survived with only minimal whines of "I'm hungry!," "I'm thirsty!" and "This is boring!" most of which came from Aidan. Owen amused himself (and the rest of the waiting populace) by counting things...ceiling tiles, empty chairs, people...then the people counting turned into counting grown-ups, which almost turned into counting women vs. men. Luckily we got out before he attempted to sort everyone by age or hair color.

The next stop was SuperTarget, which is an errand the boys actually like since they get free cookies from the bakery. It started out great - while their grabby hands were occupied with cookies, I sped us over to the scrapbooking aisle to look through the paper. (My goal is to have the first five years of their lives scrapbooked before they hit puberty. Lest you think I'm kidding, know that I have only managed to get the first 18 months of their lives into a book so far.) But as soon as the cookies were ingested, the grabbing, nagging and screeching starting. 

Owen was the main culprit here. Maybe he had used up all of his patience at the DMV, or maybe he just thinks that annoying his brother is extra fun while in a crowded grocery store...I don't know. I managed to separate them for a few aisles (one walking, one riding), but that didn't last long. By the time we got to checkout, I knew it was going to be a challenge to make it to the van without losing my temper. Every poke from Owen elicited a scream from Aidan, which sent Own into loud fits of giggles and encouraged him to poke (or otherwise annoy) again.  

I tried a preventative threat of no Cheez-its on the way home to any boy who misbehaved while we checked out...I kept them busy unloading small things from the cart...but Owen still managed to sneak in a few smacks to his brother's arm and managed to stand in the way of everyone within a 5-foot radius, obliviously talking about something or other.

So no, he didn't get Cheez-its on the way home. But here's where I struggle: Where do you draw the line between "naughty" behavior and the general obliviousness that comes with autism? Of course hitting is never tolerated and he knows that, but the basic not listening...sometimes I really think Owen is trying to do what I want, but he just can't seem to stay focused on what I'm saying long enough to get all of his instructions. 

If it were Aidan blatantly disregarding my requests, warnings, and threats, I would be furious. With Owen, I'm more frustrated. I tried talking to him on the way home. I tried explaining that 5-year-olds can't shout and fight with their brothers in stores. But every time I would say, "Now, what did I just say?" he kept responding with an exasperated, "I don't know!" at one pointing adding, "You talk in too many words!" So I told him to let me know when he was ready to listen, which was met with complete silence for about 10 minutes before his little voice said, "Mommy, I'm ready to listen." Was he? Not really, but I was glad that he was still acknowledging that he was in trouble.

I don't want to lower my expectations for Owen. So far he has proven himself capable of learning and doing everything his brother can...only sometimes he gets there on a different path and I feel like it's my job to figure out which path to take. 

I just struggle with how to discipline them fairly. I know, I know, it can't always be fair, but try telling that to five-year-olds twins. 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

To a T

Do you have weeks where things get so busy in such a random and unstructured way that it actually takes you several minutes to figure out what day it is? And then when you do realize what day it is, you aren't sure where the last 4 days have gone? 

This is all to say that it's been kinda busy. My husband is producing the Twin Cities Improv Festival (it runs through tomorrow, so if you're here in the Twin Cities, you can still buy tickets!), which means I have been in single-parent mode for a few days. I think it's actually worse to have him gone-but-in-town than just out of town. On the bright side, I did get to see him perform last night, which was fun. However, that is the extent of my involvement with the festival, unless you want to consider me the Official Caretaker of the Producer's Children and Other Non-Improv-Related Affairs. Unfortunately, this is not a paying position. 

Adding to the chaos is my unplanned decision to seek treatment for my back, which has an array of issues related to my scoliosis, a car accident several years ago, having been pregnant with twins, and poor ergonomic habits at the laptop. However, I will save the details of that adventure for another blog entry...let's just say I think I might have unwittingly joined a cult of some sort. 

Luckily, I was able to discern that today is Saturday, as this was the first day of T-ball for the boys. They are on a team of 10 four- and five-year-olds, which includes three sets of twins! You'd think this could provide a competitive advantage of some sort if, you know, there was actual playing going far it's mostly like watching a pack of puppies chasing a ball, which is fine with me, as I'm not really into competition anyway. 

Highlights of the first day included Owen asking his coach midway through their "game" if they could take a timeout to go play on the playground. Then there was my realization that Aidan is that kid...the one who always wants to go first, catch every ball, and generally just have the whole thing be about him. As if that weren't charming enough, he threw a tantrum in the outfield when he didn't end up catching any balls...tears and all. I felt bad for him because he was genuinely upset, but seriously, how did I produce a child who is that into sports? Nature has a sense of humor. 

So now here I am...the chaos of the week is dying down and I am left with the rest of the weekend sprawled out before me. Maybe it's time to teach my boys how to play "Mom's spa day." They could learn to do pedicures, right?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Making Memories

Babble has come out with "The 26 Most Disturbing Kid Movies Ever."  

I was somewhat relieved to see that my kids have only seen five of the movies on the list and I'd have to say "Dumbo" was more traumatizing for me to watch than it was for them. But they were pretty freaked out by "Wizard of Oz," only not so much because of the witch or the monkeys, more by the idea that a tornado could just scoop up your figures they'd fear the most realistic part of the film. Assuring them that flying monkeys don't exist would have been too simple. 

Anyway, I'm sure you'll recognize a few of the movies on the list as sources of your own childhood trauma. And if you still aren't convinced to click over and read the damn thing, please enjoy this excerpt on "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory":

The tunnel scene of this movie is the single most frightening sequence in all of '70s cinema. And we're talking about a decade that brought us The Exorcist and Alien. Gene Wilder is simply brilliant in this subversive kiddie classic. One look at him and there is no way you're believing this movie really is for children. Let me ask you, if Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka rang your doorbell, would you let him in? Didn't think so. He's the pusherman, baby. A totally Technicolor, sociopathic pimp. In one master stroke, this film says, "Hey kids, this is what dropping acid is like. The first time's free. Enjoy the '70s!"

I totally agree. (And btw, I must thank my friend Rachel for gifting this movie to my boys this year...I'm sure they were only mildly traumatized.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Little Help Here?

I'm not crafty. I'm not the type of mom who regularly takes on "projects" with my kids. But I am trying to save money, so I thought it would be fun to make our own popsicles. Plus, Wondertime featured some popsicle recipes in the latest issue and the boys have been staring at that page for days now. 

Coincidentally, I had bought these popsicle molds years ago...I don't know if it was so long ago that I thought I'd make popsicles with the now-teenager or if I bought them after the boys were born and I was just planning ahead.

So last night we made the Creamy Orange Dream recipe. The mixing went fine, but they didn't freeze before bed, so I told the boys they could have them after breakfast today (it's just orange juice, yogurt and vanilla extract). 

Alas, when I went to pull the popsicles out this morning like a proud popsicle-making mama, all I got was stick. I tried twisting, I tried holding them so they'd melt a little...All the while, my little Owen stood studying the recipe saying, "It says you should leave the stick in." (Thanks, love.)

I am now considering scraping the insides out with a spoon and serving them as slush. Is this a sign from the universe that I should stick to store bought treats? Maybe. 

What I am trying to say here is HELP! How the f*#@ do I get the popsicles out of the molds?? 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Catching the Wave

As many of you know, I have this fantasy of striking it rich and then "homeschooling" my kids while traveling the world. You know, studying the rainforest in the rainforest, etc. 

It's not just that I want to travel all the time (although I do), I also wish I could save my kids from the trauma that comes with school. I think we can all think of some way we were traumatized in school, be it by teachers who valued obedience over intellect or by kids who preyed on whatever it was that was different about us. 

Anyway, because I have this traveling family fantasy, I was particularly interested in seeing "Surfwise," the new documentary about the Paskowitz family...the family with nine kids who traveled the country in an RV and surfed. These kids never went to school. In fact, their father forbid it. They just surfed everyday. 

Obviously, it wasn't all sunshine and smiles. They lived in a 24-foot RV. The father was a dictator, the mother just kept her mouth shut and kept having babies and the kids grew up with no life skills. However, they all seem to agree that there was something amazing about it. And most of the kids actually have gone on to do pretty well for themselves. Very interesting.

Don't worry, I have no plans to pile the family into an RV and drop off the grid, but I still recommend the movie just for a different perspective on life. It's so easy to go along with the social norms that are handed to us that we don't always step back and go, "Is this what I really want?" We can probably all be more conscious of the choices we make for ourselves and for our kids. Something to think about. 

*Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Friday, June 20, 2008


All you stay-at-home moms (and dads) must read this article on Babble today. 

I'm totally going to buy her book. 

Stopping the Insanity

That's what the husband and I ate for dinner last night. It's a boat...a boat of sushi. It was his birthday, so I'm not going to bother feeling guilty about it (it was delicious, btw), but today the insanity comes to an end. No more birthdays for awhile and no more excuses for crazy spending.

Inspired by this CNN Money article and my desire to be able to actually afford to take the kids on vacation this winter, I am pledging to exercise the willpower that I know I've got inside of me somewhere. I got some good ideas from a few of you regarding lowering my grocery bill (thanks!), so I figure if I combine those with cutting up the credit cards, not eating out, not signing my kids up for any additional summer activities and resisting the Target impulse buys, we should be on our way to paying off our debt and having a real travel budget. 

Send me your good thoughts. It all sounds very simple, but restraint isn't my forte.  

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Verdict

I meant to post a follow-up yesterday after Owen's appointment, but I guess I was just processing...the verdict is that he still fits the criteria for autism, not Asperger's.

The way the psychologists explained it was that children with Asperger's have typical verbal development, but display the social impairments associated with ASD. I had never heard such a simple description before. I don't know if this is a more advanced understanding than they had two years ago or what, but had we heard that explanation two years ago, we would have known that he didn't have Asperger's because even though he is very verbal, his verbal development isn't "typical" in that he did demonstrate echolalia a lot when he was younger and he still repeats a lot of phrases he hears in movies, etc...although he doesn't use those phrases to communicate, he just likes repeating them.

I don't had been awhile since we'd had to go through this kind of evaluation, so I had forgotten how much of it really depends on your ability, as parents, to answers a barrage of questions about your child accurately. If your hands were full and you needed to open the door and you dropped something, would he step in to help without prompting? Well, I can't picture that happening since I would have been asking him to open the door as I approached it with my hands full...maybe?Does he use the word "between?" I had to think about that one for awhile...I don't recall any monumental occasion in which he used to word "between," but that doesn't rule out the possibility that he's used it...

I understand that these tests and questionnaires were developed a certain way for a reason, but it seems impossible to me that my ability to accurately recall every tiny detail of his speech and mannerisms (especially given that I have twins) has such a large influence on the diagnosis. There just seems to be a huge margin for error there.

Of course it wasn't just us talking, they played with Owen, too. They got to see firsthand who he is and how he acts...granted, it was only for an hour, but he was in a good mood, so I think it was a pretty accurate representation.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound upset about it. The gist is that he's doing great. He's made great progress. He's a sweet, charming and cooperative little boy. And yes, he has autism. It was a very long-awaited and expensive confirmation of what we already knew. 

But on the bright side, the doctors at Fraser were really great. I wish I could consult with them on a more regular basis. They not only understand autism, but they were great at picking up on all of Owen's strengths and really speaking as advocates for him rather than focusing on what he needs to work on. So overall, not a waste of time, but not as big of a deal as I had unintentionally built it up to be in my mind.

And then we all went and had cupcakes. The perfect ending to all appointments.

Btw, today is the husband's birthday. Happy birthday, honey! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nothing and Everything

After seven months on the waiting list, today is the day Owen will get his ASD re-evaluation. When he was diagnosed 2 years ago, the doctors recommended we come back in 18 months-2 years based on the possibility that he would "outgrow his diagnosis."

It's a strange concept, to simply outgrow a diagnosis...doesn't that mean it was the wrong diagnosis to begin with? But I have heard of it happening -- in fact, it just happened to one of the boys' best friends. Much to his mother's surprise, he no longer qualifies for any special ed services through the school district and seems to be developing into a fairly typical boy. His mother, of course, isn't sure whether to be happy or scared and who can blame her? It's all just someone's best guess, really. One day you have autism and the next day you don't? There's so little scientific evidence of anything that we, as parents, are left to rely on our own gut feelings and the opinions of "experts."

I'm not going into this evaluation today hoping that they'll tell me Owen doesn't have autism after all. I can see clearly that he is on the autism spectrum. But what I've never been clear on is where that line between classic "autism" (which is what he is currently diagnosed with) and Asperger's Syndrome is drawn. Based on what I've learned about Asperger's, that seems like the most fitting diagnosis for Owen. He is very verbal. He is very smart. And he's very high-functioning. So I guess I'm looking for that expert opinion to either tell me that yes, he does have Asperger's or to help me understand the difference.

Does it matter? Well, only from the perspective that I'd like him to be diagnosed accurately. It doesn't change who he is. It doesn't change who he will become. But, unfortunately, there is a lot of weight put on labels and I think it's only fair that his label be correct. I will admit that I think he would have an easier time in school with an Asperger's diagnosis. Right or wrong, there seems to be an understanding that Aspies are eccentric but also very smart and should therefore be given a little extra leeway. My experience with autism within the neurotypical education system is that they are quick to place limits on these only expect so much.

I don't think I ever blogged about this, but in our last IEP meeting, Owen's preschool teacher proposed recommending that in kindergarten, Owen be allowed to complete shorter assignments than the other kids. Her reasoning was that he works slowly and will get frustrated if he is behind all the other kids. Or, we suggested, perhaps he will learn to work more quickly. Plus, anyone that thinks he wouldn't notice that he wasn't doing the same work as the rest of the class doesn't know Owen very well. We refused to sign until that "recommended adaptation" was removed.

Anyway, I'm trying to be very clear with myself on what my expectations are for this evaluation today. The last time, I was hoping the doctors would tell me the school district was wrong, that he didn't have autism, that he was clearly just a genius. Obviously that's not what happened. Having learned so much since then, I want to go in with realistic expectations today.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up because hope seems like to wrong emotion...I want to believe that it doesn't matter what they doesn't change who he is. But I can't help feeling like his life might just be a tiny bit easier with the label of Asperger's. And I think any parent would like to hear a doctor say that their child's disorder isn't as severe as previously thought.

So I guess I'm trying to go in with no expectations. Because when it comes to autism, no one can predict the future. And Owen doesn't want to be called anything other than "Owen" anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Being a Dad

Today we celebrate the fathers in our lives. I’m guessing a large percentage of us will go eat some steak and call it a day…ah, the simplicity of a holiday devoted to men.

When I met Butch, the fact that he had a child was...well, not a selling point. I was 17 and wanted nothing to do with parenting. In fact, I told myself that I wouldn’t date him simply because he had a kid. I should note here for those who don’t know, that he didn’t just have a child, at age 19 (when we met) he had full custody of his three-year-old and a crazy ex to go with it.

Despite my initial fear at getting involved with a guy with a kid, I always admired him for being a dad. Not for having a kid, but for actually being a dad. For sticking it out when – at age 16 – it would have been easy to run. For fighting to protect his son from a negligent and abusive mother. For seeing his son as the thing that changed his life for the better.

He isn’t perfect, but he is always there and having grown up with a mostly absent father myself, I can tell you that showing up counts for a lot. Making sure your children know they are loved is probably the most important thing you can do.

To be honest, it probably doesn’t really feel like it was all worth it today – with the teenager continuing down his tortuous self-centered path, not even bothering to return calls to invite him to celebrate Father’s Day – but of course it was. No amount of teenage angst can undo the 16 years of stability, support, guidance and love that Butch has given his son.

So in lieu of the thank you he deserves today (which could take another decade or so), I want to say thank you. Thank you for showing me another side of fatherhood and thank you for being such a good daddy to all of our boys.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Now that the boys are five, they have chores. In fact, we just bought a pre-made chore chart because I couldn't get my non-visual/not-crafty mind around how to go about making my own. 

Age 5 was somewhat arbitrary, really. The boys learned about the concept of chores from an episode of Curious George in which George does chores to earn money to buy a toy, which got them asking when they could do order to buy myself enough time to come up with some chores that their uncoordinated little selves could perform, I told them they couldn't do chores until they were five. 

So here we are, four days into having chores. (I didn't really have the chore list ready right when they turned five.) It's all really simple stuff: make bed, clean bedroom, sweep under dining table (they love the handheld broom and dustpan). Owen threw a major fit the first two days he was told to make his bed. He had convinced himself he couldn't do it, meanwhile his little Alex. P. Keaton brother was practically doing hospital corners as he asked when he'd be getting paid. 

But today they both made their beds without argument and even cleaned up their playroom just like the chore chart says they have to on Fridays. The trick here, of course, is that the major chores, such as cleaning the playroom and their bedroom fall on Wii days (as in, days that we let them play Wii) and they can't play Wii until their chores are done. 

The results of all this chore business have been mixed. Aidan exclaimed that he was "exhausted" after five minutes of picking up his playroom (threats of no Wii had him back in there immediately) and Owen threw away the entire broom and dustpan set after sweeping under table. (When I brought this to his attention, his only response was a surprised "Oh!") But how well the chores actually get done is hardly the point. I am just thrilled to have kids who want to help and who will grow up knowing that keeping the house clean is a family effort.

So thank you, Curious George. Without you, it could have been years before I thought to enlist my children as housekeepers. How old do they have to be to start doing laundry?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Feeding the Need


Top Chef is over. Yay for Stephanie! But I am sad that's it's over...far more sad than I should be about a television show. 

I liked the finale, but it definitely wasn't as exciting as previous seasons. I don't know why exactly...maybe because it really felt like Lisa was crashing the party and maybe because even though Richard was the clear frontrunner, it was kind of obvious that he really couldn't win. I'm not saying it was fixed, I'm just saying that a woman had to win this year. Maybe Richard knew this somewhere in his subconscious and it threw off his game - who knows? Ted Allen had some nice (and more articulate) things to say about the debacle in his Bravo TV blog

All I know is that if I am ever in Atlanta, I will definitely be stopping by Trail-Blais. 

So what will fill the void left by Top Chef? Well, The Next Food Network Star will make a valiant attempt, but watching people learn how to be TV chefs just isn't as entertaining...unless maybe you're an aspiring TV chef. 

Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days show has started again - finally - which has nothing to do with cooking, but is a thoroughly enjoyable (and sometimes educational) way of meeting my weekly reality TV quota. 

Then there are the other Bravo hits: Flipping Out is starting again in a couple weeks. Woohoo! I love me some OCD-fueled drama. Then Project Runway returns in July - double woohoo! We must all enjoy it before it moves to the Lifetime Network and turns into some kind of afterschool special about anorexic models. 

This, of course, is all just filler while I await the return of The Amazing Race, the show that blends my love of travel with my love of treasure hunts (they aren't really on a treasure hunt, per se, but I will take what I can get). And since there are people who are clearly far more obsessed than I am with this show, I was able to find out that there are only 107 days left until season 13 begins. And by the time that's over, I'm sure it will be almost time for Top Chef again. 

I feel much better now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Getting Dead

"If we get old and bonked all over, we would get dead," says Owen this morning, as casually as if he was talking about going to the park. 

Aidan does not have such a comfortable relationship with death (he is the one who burst into tears when he learned Kurt Cobain was dead), so he quickly said to Owen, "We don't have to worry about that."

Owen ignored him, of course, continuing on with, "When you get dead, you can't talk or move."

To which Aidan, our resident old man, shook his head in exasperation and said, "Owen, I'm trying to put that behind me." 

Acceptance of mortality? Check. 

Perhaps next he will tackle fear of the unknown. Maybe by the time he is 7, he will have figured out the meaning of life. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

Time to Swim

The boys started swimming lessons today. Anytime I put them in a new group learning situation, I have anxiety about Owen and how he will do. Aidan is like a used car salesman, practically shaking hands with the teachers, while Owen keeps to himself and has trouble staying focused when being addressed as a member of a group. Still, teachers/coaches tend to just think he's a little spacey, but generally cooperative. 

But you add the potentially life threatening factor of water and well, my anxiety spikes. I mean, it's one thing if he zones out on dry land, but another if he's in the pool and forgets he's supposed to hang on to the floaty while the instructor is helping another kid.

I am, of course, partially to blame for my anxiety because I continually put him in classes for typical kids and often don't mention his autism to the instructors. I'm always conflicted about it but my experience has shown me that when treated like any other kid, he acts like any other kid. Sure, he's spacey and can be a bit rigid, but he's mostly just a little quirky. He has had a couple meltdowns when he got frustrated in a class, but even those could easily have been within the "normal" range of preschool temper tantrums...there just never seems to be a need for me to swoop in and explain, "He has autism." I just hate the idea that anyone would treat him differently based on a label rather than getting to know him like anyone else. 

For swimming, however, it's different. I met his 20-year-old teacher before class and told her of his diagnosis. She gave me a look that said "I have no idea what that means and now I'm nervous about having him in my class," which is basically what I was afraid of, but I explained that it just means he's a little spacey and he might need extra reminders. She seemed okay with that. It's just my boys and a little girl in the class, so it should be pretty easy for her to keep an eye on him. 

My fears were put to rest when class started and I was reminded that autism or no autism, my two boys are equally uncoordinated, which makes them both pretty poor swimmers. As if to underscore this fact, the little girl in the class has apparently already mastered the breast stroke. I'm now hoping she'll get bumped up a level, leaving my boys to have private lessons for two weeks. Score.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


My dad's wife called this morning to say she was stopping over to give the boys their birthday gifts. Her birthday was the day after theirs. I didn't forget her birthday, but I never got around to getting her a card. 

I figured I could cover up my mistake by quickly putting the boys to work making her a one-of-a-kind birthday card. This is what Aidan produced:

The Spending Diet

As we near the end of birthday madness, I'm renewing my efforts to become a teensy bit more financially solvent...or rather, I'm trying to find ways I can save some cash without drastically altering my life. 

We're not exactly one of those families you see on Oprah yet -- you know, the ones who don't have health insurance, but the mom gets her hair and nails done every week...or the ones who eat out three times a day(!), but we aren't exactly sticking to the budget, either. 

The problem is really that we're playing catch-up, only not very well. When we moved into our new house about 14 months ago, we had fully anticipated selling our old one. It's in a nice neighborhood and just getting its taxable value would have been okay. But after 6 months on the market, we not only hadn't sold it, we had begun to accumulate credit card debt fueled by the notion that as soon as we sold the house, we could pay it off...just one more month, then another. 

Sadly, it's a common story these days. However, having been raised by a mother who became a CPA for fun (seriously, she's never actually worked as one), credit card debt is a source of great anxiety for me...not to mention a really huge drain on the family budget. 

So anyway, the bad news is that we still own the old house. The good news is that we started renting it out back in October, which allowed us to begin our game of catch-up...and that brings us to the present, where I'm trying to find ways to cut our living expenses so that we can A) pay down the credit cards, B) start saving some money, and C) travel. I realize my compulsion to travel works in direct opposition to saving money, but we all have our vices, right? Let's save that one for another blog entry.

Alright, so I know there are plenty of things I could do to save money - cancel the cable, for one. I read The Simple Family and admire Rachel and her efforts to live more simply. But as I said at the beginning, I'm trying to find ways to save without drastically altering my life (and as we know, Bravo, A&E and the Food Network are important to me). I realize this means it will take me longer to reach my financial goals, but this is something I can accept as long as I know I'm moving in the right direction. 

So my current focus is on how to cut our grocery bill. I am really bad with coupons - I like clipping them, but am notorious for forgetting them when I go to the store. I'm considering using a grocery delivery service purely because it eliminates the possibility of impulse buys -- and since I do my grocery shopping at SuperTarget, the impulse buys can get out of hand. 

I'm also looking for cheap meals I can make that my kids will eat...and I'm trying to break out of the spaghetti, mac 'n' cheese, chicken nuggets and repeat routine. Unfortunately, my little Owen fears unknown foods so unless it can be marketed as one of the aforementioned foods, it could be a battle. Is a diet of ramen and soup the answer? Is winning the lottery the answer? Is getting some willpower the answer? Maybe, maybe and probably...but I'm hoping one of you smart people has a more useful suggestion.   

Saturday, June 7, 2008

If You Only Had a Blog

I wish all of my friends had blogs. Especially the ones who live far away, but really all of them. 

It would just be so nice to get regular updates on what they are doing or thinking or freaking out about. Updates that I can get while, say, my kids are playing the loudest game of tag known to man...or during the two minutes it takes to make my morning tea...or when I wake up at 7 a.m. and am home alone with my children and all of my childless friends are still tucked happily away in bed. 

And yes, I know you're thinking: Have you heard of email? Maybe I'm just a bad email friend, but most of my email conversations tend to have a specific topic, which then peeters out after a couple exchanges. I don't often find myself emailing each of my friends to say, "Hello! How are you? What's new? Let me tell you about my day." It sounds nice and all, but it just doesn't happen. Plus, a blog lets the author just say what's on their mind vs. answering questions about things that maybe aren't a big deal at the moment. 

I've mentioned this universal blog wish to a few of my non-blogging friends (which is most of them) and they all laugh and go on about how they have nothing to blog about. Except of course that's not true because, as far as I know, none of them spend their days sitting in an empty room staring at a wall. I mean, even if all they ever did was watch TV they'd have something to blog about (I do love a good TV blog). They are all thinking people with things going on in their lives. 

I also don't accept the excuse that anyone is too busy to blog, as I think we all find time to stare at the Internet for some chunk of our day or week and since a blog can be whatever you want it to be, it doesn't have to take a lot of time to write one. 

So anyway, I'm just putting that out there on the off chance anyone has been teetering on the edge of blogdom, wondering if they should take the plunge. Jump in! I can guarantee you at least one reader. 


Friday, June 6, 2008

The Morning After

Now that the birthday festivities are over (for a couple weeks, anyway), let us reflect...

This is how I celebrated my birthday.

This is how the boys celebrated theirs.

For me, it was lots of eating. It began with family breakfast at the Good Day Cafe, where my beautiful boys actually cleaned their plates (happy birthday to me)! Then it was on to a four-hour "lunch" extravaganza with my cosmic twin Kevin -- we share a birthday and initials -- during which there was a very high drink-to-food ratio.

But the highlight was the fancy romantic dinner with my husband at La Belle Vie. I've been wanting to get to this restaurant for years, but apparently got sidetracked by planning fancy dinners in Las Vegas...I don't know. Anyway, I really didn't know what I had been missing.

It was phenomenal. We had the five-course tasting menu. There was king crab, pork belly, beef tenderloin...the individual ingredients were great, sure, but this was really about the experience in its entirety. We just nodded our heads as we were presented with yet another gorgeous plate and proceeded to be amazed at how good everything was. Add to that a waiter who seemed to actually want us to have a good time...who surprised me with champagne because it was my birthday...who insisted that my husband have a taste of the wine I was having because he didn't think the birthday girl should drink alone. :)

I have eaten some fabulous meals -- mostly out of town -- but this shoots right up to the top of the list. We've already agreed that this is special occasion central from now on. Any excuse to go back will be taken. Btw, that poorly taken photo above is orange chiffon cake with orange basil sherbet. Divine.

And then it was full speed ahead into the boys' birthday. The above pictured bouncy house arrived in the morning even though the party wasn't until the evening. Turns out this was a good thing, as the afternoon brought severe thunderstorms and we were forced to deflate the damn thing. Between bounces, however, we managed to work in another family breakfast -- this time at Perkins (when told they could have anything they wanted for breakfast, that is what they chose) -- and a round of educational minigolf at the Science Museum.

As the afternoon approached, my party anxiety was high because I really didn't have a plan my outdoor wedding, I just figured that it simply could not rain (and it didn't that day, thank goodness).

Of course, it was pouring when the boys' little friends arrived, so we just sort of accelerated the proceedings, jumping right into dinner, then presents, then cake. (the gold cupcake-cake shaped like a 5 was awesome) After all that was over, things were looking a bit desperate (how do you tell your guests to just go home?) until the men folk decided that the rain had let up enough to try to re-inflate the bouncer. Success! The kids got to bounce for maybe 30 minutes. They were soaked, but didn't seem to mind a bit. We did, however, have to deflate it again when the lightning started. Still, the party was saved and I was happy mom with happy kids.

Now we can all rest up for two weeks until it's time to celebrate the husband's birthday...he will not be having a bouncy house.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

5 Years

When I first met my boys 5 years ago today, this is what they looked like:

Well, to be honest, they looked slightly bluer than this when we first met, as they needed to be resuscitated immediately upon being born. At 26 weeks 5 days and weighing just 2 lb. 4 oz., their tiny lungs just weren't ready yet. 

Sure, they were hairy little monkey babies, but it was love at first sight. For three months, we visited them in the hospital daily, holding them when allowed, but mostly just talking to them through their plastic boxes.

There were a million things that could have gone wrong, but most of them didn't. I was probably in denial and borderline insane from the situation, but never once did I believe they would be anything other than okay. But they are more than okay. They are more than I ever could have asked for. 

And today they are five. I wanted to write something about each one of them because they are so different and yet such perfect complements to one another, but my words can't really do them justice (plus they don't read my blog anyway). So I leave you with this...proof that miracles do happen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


It's my birthday.  I am 24 years older than I was when this picture was taken. And I still really like cake. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Yelling

Do all little boys, all the time? Or am I just the lucky one? It's like living with pterodactyls.

And it's not necessarily because they are unhappy, either. I mean, sure when one of them, say, gets to the bottom of the stairs first, the other one is obligated to scream as if his foot were being amputated. But it's just as likely that they are having fun by, say, jumping off the back of the couch and they are simply expressing their joy by screaming at the top of their lungs.

Even when I send them next door to grandma's (yes, we live next door to my mom) so that I can get some work done, their yelps float back over into my office...sometimes so often that I am forced to abandon my house and work from Starbucks (forced, I tell you). 

So does anyone know if this is typical? Can I expect it to subside anytime in the next decade? Will they eventually just wear out their vocal chords, or are they actually building superhuman vocal chords that allow them to yell continuously for 18 years straight?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I Just Want to Celebrate

June is birthday month at our house. With the exception of the teenager (isn't he always the exception?), we all celebrate our birthdays within a 15 day span -- and Father's Day is usually thrown in there somewhere too. 

I kicked off my birthday festivities this morning with a delicious brunch with a few of my closest friends. Fewer than anticipated, actually. I had been warned that nobody really cares when you turn 31 but I didn't actually expect anyone to outright forget (as in "yes, I'll be there," only to completely not be there). I am annoyed purely on principle, as it all turned out great anyway.

I suppose I have to accept that birthdays stop being a big event after you turn, well, probably 21...but I feel like birthdays can either be fun or they can be depressing and I'd rather make them fun. Hence my week of festivities. 

Brunch was just the beginning. Between now and Saturday, I've got three more celebratory meals (including a super fancy romantic extravaganza with the husband), plus a whole day devoted to my boys' golden birthday (they're turning 5 on the 5th). Whew! 

Good thing I quit that pesky job...perhaps I could become a professional birthday celebrator. Do you think there's a 401(k) for that position?