Sunday, September 30, 2012

So long, Farewell

Real time update, I had a breakdown of epic proportions on Thursday of last week.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was overwhelmed by things that should have been done months ago.  Like unpack that last box from our month in DC or finally call the insurance company about that pesky bill I don't understand or clear a path in the laundry room, so at least I can, you know, DO the laundry?  The straw that broke my sanity came in the form of 3 red shirts that the Salad should have worn to school.  I didn't forget.  It didn't slip my mind.  I just flat out did not think it was Thursday they were supposed to wear red.  I think my brain is still in vacation mode, but the rest of my life is moving ahead in actual mode without me.  This blog is evidence of that.  Many important things have happened in the past few months.  And the blog posts either have not been written, or the pictures have not been downloaded or the dog ate them.  Not that we have a dog, but you get the picture.  Those red shirts gave me the push I need to get caught up.  So once again, I will be blogging about the past, while we continue to have playdates with new friends and hikes and soccer games that may never be recorded for posterity.  Rest assured, posterity.  Those things are happening too.    

Original post written on July 12, about July 2, actually posted on September 30, 2012

Our good friends Peter, Lucy and Thomas are moving sheer across the country. It took me months before I had the courage to tell the Salad. M was especially heartbroken. Most of our friends are girls, and while he usually prefers girls’ company, he definitely notices the lack of testosterone in our friendships. When he first realized that his best buddy would no longer be here in the fall to hike with, his eyes welled with tears, as he wondered aloud, “Now who will I catch my froggy friends with?”
The week we had to say our good byes, Philadelphia temperatures soared into the 100s. Ms. Amy suggested a South Philly sprayground and then a free lunch at IKEA. So we headed off and the kids ran and chased and splashed and played in the water for a good long while. We took a break to have our last “Pirate Booty party.” I’m not sure how these “parties” started, but they consist of me opening a fresh bag of booty and 12 hands wildly grabbing at the bag, shoveling fistfuls of popped goodness into their mouths. They usually take place in the privacy of our van and end in me having to vacuum out the car. I think these booty parties are going to be missed very much, as A has requested a virtual pirate booty party. I sure hope they sell Pirate Booty in California.

After we’d had our fill of the sun and water, we drove to IKEA for mac-n-cheese and chicken lunches. Yo Gabba Gabba was on in the kid’s area. It’s one of the Salad’s forbidden shows, mostly because it gives me the creeps. And Peter, Lucy and Thomas watch even less TV than we do, so the 6 kids sat and stared at the television like zombies, with one of us moms occasionally having to remove a child from actually standing in front of the TV. Not much food was eaten. Of course after lunch, there was a trip to the bathroom, where so much preschool humor takes place. The poop talk! The stalls! The hand dryers!
Then it was time to bid our bestest friends farewell. Each child hugged each other. I held back a tear as M got Peter in a bear hug and said “Bye, Peter!” I’m not sure anyone understood the finality of this moment. M occasionally will have a moment of clarity. Today for example, as he bit into his peanut butter and fluff sandwich on the steps of the Department of Government Accountability, he lamented “Now Peter won’t be here for me to share my sandwiches with.”

I’m hoping we see our friends again, but should life get in the way, I’m glad my baby boy will remember his sweet friend that way, catching frogs and sharing food.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hike, interrupted.

This post was written in May.  Seriously.  May, people.  I have issues. 

The Salad wanted to take R to one of our favorite places to hike. So we loaded up snacks and sunscreen and headed out for the morning. It started out well, M caught a tiny frog just as we started down the path to the pond. But when we got to the bottom of the hill, we noticed how . . . different . . . the area looked since the last time we visited with playgroup. The pond was higher. The foliage was thicker. The ground was soggier. The bugs were . . . abundant.

But we pressed on. Suddenly a 9 year old boy showed up, literally out of nowhere. He just appeared and took a liking to us. It wouldn’t have been awful, this strange Lord of the Flies kid tagging along, except he was being a wise a$$ and the Salad is too naive to know. I couldn’t ditch this sarcastic punk fast enough. As R hacked a path through the woods, I came up with every excuse to end our hike. Finally, the promise of ice cream at Front Street Fountain lured the Salad away. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as we trudged up the hill to our car, watching the orphan? boy disappear back into the woods from which he came.

I think we were all fine to cut short our hike, though, ‘cause like I said, the bugs and all.

Note to self – instate hiking hiatus until September – effective immediately.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

Original post written some hot July day, 2012

There are occasions when I hear myself in the Salad. I’m not always proud of what I hear. Sometimes it’s a harsh tone, sometimes it’s an unkind word. But twice today I heard myself in my Salad and I liked what I heard.

S began to play with a slightly older girl at the Air & Space Museum hands-on area. She introduced herself and asked the girl for her name. When the girl ignored her, S continued to ask until she got an answer. The girl said “Kate” and S’s immediate response was “It’s nice to meet you, Kate!”

It got hot on our walk back to the apartment, so I thought the Salad might enjoy and iced tea lemonade from Starbucks. As they slurped down their treat, S said, “Well this was a lovely surprise. Thanks, Mommy!”

“It sure was!” M shouted with enthusiastic approval.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We took them out to the Ball Game

Original post written on August 2, 2012

We had a very low key day. It was our first such day since arriving in DC. We spent the morning coloring, reading, and playing in the apartment. We ran a few close errands, drycleaners, CVS, farmer’s Market. We had a just-for-fun bath. We didn’t even go to the pool. I was trying to keep them calm and rested because I knew we’d be up late this evening. R had bought tickets to the Nationals/Phillies game. So when he got home, we headed straight for the metro.

The universe seemed determined to spoil our night.  It was 96 degrees at 6:00.  A was jumping up and down and gave herself a cut on her forehead.  The stadium ran out of hot dogs.  There was a thunderstorm brewing.  There was a metro card dilemma.  The Salad lasted 5 innings before R and I decided to cut our losses.  We headed over to a fountain we had seen earlier in the month that S had been asking to revisit.  It's clean, right on the waterfront and open for public wading.  Since it was close to 9:00, almost dusk and stormy, we were the only people crazy enough to be there. 
There was much eye rolling and growling through gritted teeth between R and I.  But you know, some nights are like that.  All in all, the night ended well.  And provided some cute pictures.  And isn't that what a blog post is all about, anyway?   

Monday, September 10, 2012

On hippies and hummingbirds

Original post written on August 1, 2012

The Salad and I drove to the National Arboretum on Wednesday. It was unlike any other arboretum than we are used to. You had to drive to each different area. Thank God I realized it before we’d gotten too far on foot, or it would have been disastrous. After feeding some GIANT koi, we headed straight for the Youth Garden, walked through the Butterfly Garden and caught sight of some beauties. The Salad was thrilled with all of the vegetables they found growing. The lack of upkeep and yet still abundant growth inspired me to double the size of our garden next year. If weeding isn’t necessary (and apparently staking isn’t either) I’d be much more inclined to commit.
We were on our way to our car when a group of hippies that apparently had squatted in the Youth Garden and were living off of the land cooking homemade pesto and tomato salad, asked if we had found the hidden play area behind the garden. We hadn’t, so we headed back into the woods and stumbled upon an area full of cut tree trunks, log balance beams, digging areas, musical instruments and a stage. We performed and played and dug and did gymnastic for another 75 minutes. Thanks, hippies!*

Most thrilling for all of us were the pair of hummingbirds we spotted. They were so tiny, I thought at first they were very large bees. And I got scared. And tried to hide my fear from the Salad. But I had already thrown myself into the fetal position on the garden floor. And then I picked myself and saw they were just birds. Parts of that story are true. I leave it to you to decide which parts.
Here, S hides behind her big sister, while M hairy eyeballs me cowering behind a shrub as if to say, "What the hell?!  They are just hummingbirds!"

*In retrospect, I think the hippies may have actually worked at the Arboretum. I’m only 45% sure about that though.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Flying High

Original post written on July 31, 2012

I’ve been trying to get to the Georgetown Waterfront for their Tuesday morning kid’s concerts, but it has been ungodly hot or thunderstormy. This Tuesday, the weather promised low 90s and cloudy. Perfect. We packed lunches and a picnic blanket and headed to the waterfront. There were 17 women with children, 15 of those were very obviously nannies. It was a strange audience, and an even stranger children’s performer. She sang a few Laurie Berkner songs, typical. But, the majority of her set was Grateful Dead songs. At least I think they were, most of the music was drown out by the many military helicopters, planes taking off from the nearby airport and air boat fire rescue drill that happened in the middle of her performance. She didn’t seem to notice. I spoke to her briefly afterwards and I’m pretty sure she didn’t notice because she was high. You gotta make it through the day anyway you can, I guess?
We had an early swim and dinner that evening. R had found a Marine Corp Silent Drill Platoon and Marching Band performance, so we headed to Arlington National Cemetery to take the free shuttle to the Iwo Jima Memorial where we’d watch the performance. The shuttle was M’s favorite part of the night. His least favorite part was a very unexpected 21 gun salute. He was leaning against my leg at the time and I could feel his little heart practically beating out of his chest. The performance was inspiring, but once again confirmed my suspicions that anything longer than 45 minutes is no bueno for us at this age. It made me feel a bit better watching the other families with small children fend off the same whines “I’m thirsty! How much longer now? Do you have any snacks? Can I go climb that statue? I have to go to the bathroom.”

* - OK, OK.  You're right.  That is actually Janis Joplin.  But it's a pretty accurate picture of what the performance was like.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

He knows how to use it

Original post written July 30, 2012

We had our third and final class at the National Gallery of Art today. I’m not going to go on and on about how wonderful and free these amazing classes have been, that would be redundant of me. I love that they are learning something, as evidenced by S shouting at “Little Einsteins” artist of the day, “Claude Monet?! We know that guy! He got old, went blind and painted his blurry gardens in France!”

But the thing I want to remember about this week concerns M. Just before class today, he asked me if he could wear the headband that I had in my hair.

Me: “To class, buddy?”

M:  “Yep. Can I have it?”

So I gave him the headband and he pulled it on over his mohawk all 80s “Footloose” like.

He sat through the entire lesson on Degas and rocked that headband.
This kid has style.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Testing my Knowledge

Original post written on July 28, 2012

R and I took the Salad to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. I pulled the Salad aside at the entrance to read them the sign stating, “Please conduct yourself with dignity and respect. These are hallowed grounds.”

“What is dignity?”
“What does hallowed mean?”

Thus began their questions.  We just thought the kids would think the Changing of the Guard was cool to watch – guns and soldiers and all. They were reasonably interested. But the questions, oh the questions!

“What is a soldier?”
“What is an unknown soldier?”
“What is a war?”
“What is a tomb?”
“Is that a real person in the tomb?”
“Will the guns be loud?”
“Are all these peoples dead?”
“What does solemn mean?”

I had a question too.
What on earth was I thinking?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Original post written on July 27, 2012

I took the Salad to see a planetarium show at the Air & Space Museum this morning. I had low expectations, seeing as our last planetarium show was an epic failure. This show was geared towards children; Big Bird and Elmo were the stars. Judging from the “Wows!” and “Ohhhhhs!” I’d say they loved it. S was so proud that they made it through the “dark movie” that she made me call Grammy to share the news.

We headed down to the Astronauts section, where a little demonstration about flight suits was going on. As soon as we walked in, the woman asked for a volunteer. Each one of my babes shot their hands straight into the air. She picked M. He marched bravely onto that stage and sat on the stool. The woman told him he was going to put on a space suit. The first part of the suit was called a mag. The mag looks like an adult diaper. M saw it, looked like he was going to cry, shook his head no and told the lady he didn’t want to be the volunteer anymore. She told him he’d been brave, asked everyone to clap for him and asked for another volunteer. A and S shot their hands back into the air. This time, she called on A. A walked onto the stage, kicked her sneakers off and pulled that diaper right over her skirt.

It's strange to feel proud of your 5 year old daughter wearing an adult diaper in front of a roomful of strangers, but I did.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Life Lesson from 5 year olds

Original post written on July 26, 2012

I drove the Salad to Maryland this morning to the Launch Zone of what is called the National Children’s Museum. I searched Yelp to no avail. That should have been my first clue. Apparently, the actual museum closed many years ago and this storefront “launch zone” is the first action in a series of actions that will eventually result in a new National Children’s Museum. So basically, I drove 20 minutes to a room barely bigger than our house filled to the brim with toys. I’ll admit I was disappointed. I should not have been though, because here are the good things.

1.  I found parking on the street right outside. 
2.  It was free.
3.  The Salad loved it.
4.  There was a building “event” today.

Essentially there were huge blue building blocks and tubes and the Salad set to work. An employee was there taking notes today. Apparently, her job is to see if kids like the “event.” If they do, it will eventually become an exhibit in the new Museum. She kept asking the Salad (who played only with these blocks for 2 hours) what they were building. Here is the list:

a car, a bench, a robot, a bird’s nest, a seesaw, a catapult, a limbo stick, a slide, a balance beam, a horse, a ballet bar, a ball run, a princess castle, and a tricycle.

I need to remember, if I align my expectations to those of a 5 year olds, I’ll rarely be disappointed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

105 glorious extra minutes

Original post written on July 25, 2012

We’ve been in DC for 18 days now and have been to the National Museum of Natural History three times. Today makes 4 times and we still haven’t seen the whole museum. I intentionally kept the hands on Discovery Room for a day when we needed a break. It’s only 2 blocks away and meant for kids 2 – 6 so I knew it wouldn’t be too crowded. The Salad had full reign of the room for the first 15 minutes, which was perfect because there were exactly 3 microscopes. One for each Salad ingredient!

They colored a little, made some music with unusual instruments, checked out bones and bugs with magnifying glasses, played with toys from around the world. A played with a Jacob’s Ladder for 30 minutes. Note to self – get A a Jacob’s Ladder for her birthday.
After a while, M’s blood sugar started to plummet and I knew we better get the heck outta dodge. We headed out to the National Mall, found a bench in the shade and ate a picnic lunch I had snuck in our backpack.

Our last leg of this trip included a ride on the famous carousel. We opted to ride the spinning bench together and I spun the dressing right out of the Salad. As they stumbled off trying to regain their balance, A said “Best.Carousel.Ever!”
Last night, we checked out the Enid A. Haupt Garden. It’s a tiny green sanctuary on the roof of the Sackler building. I had heard there were fountains good for stomping, but they had been turned off by the time we got there. The only water left was a small fountain water fall, which the Salad was perfectly content to dip their tootsies in and throw pennies for wishes.
I love living right in the heart of the city. I love that R wants to take full advantage of living right in the heart of the city. I love that R can walk to his temporary office in less than 5 minutes, which means we get an extra hour and 45 minutes with him each night. I love that each day R sends me a text message asking what we are going to do with those extra 105 minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Come on and wade way out into the Water

Original post written on July 24, 2012

The Salad had their second of four classes at the National Gallery of Art. Today, they learned about Monet and his gardenscapes. They were read a book, lead to Monet’s “Garden at Giverny" to analyze the painting and then turned loose to create their own “water lily garden.” Seriously, y’all. 30 4-7 year olds were turned loose with oil pastels in a building that houses masterpieces. Talk about the honor system.

It started sprinkling as soon as we stepped out of the building, which thwarted our plans for a picnic. However, by the time R had gotten home from work, the weather had cleared up nicely and we went for an evening wade in the National Sculpture garden fountain.

On our walk home, there was yet another concert at the Navy Memorial. This time there was a beautiful “Advance of the Colors.” M was beside himself as he watched the flags and gun salute. He asked me 3 different times, “Make sure you video this, OK Mama?”

Oh, I taped it alright, though the main subject of my video was S shaking her "thoin" to a rousing rendition of Gaelic Storm’s “Scalliwag”.

Real time update on September 1, 2012

While looking through the 595 photos that I took of our month long stay in DC, the only picture I had of this day was this one of a strange robot in a crosswalk I stopped in the street to take. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .