Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book of the Week: It’s an Orange Aardvark!

orange-aardvarkIt’s an Orange Aardvark!

by Michael Hall

V has really been digging this book since we got it from the library. I have to admit, I don’t completely understand the plot, but it’s bright and colorful and fun to read, so it’s been enjoyable for all of us to have it around.

Bonus book:

pigeon-goThe Pigeon Loves Things That Go

by Mo Willems

We own The Pigeon Needs a Bath (thank you, Robin!), and it’s a big hit around here. So when I saw a Pigeon board book at the library, we had to check it out for P. It’s short, sweet, and has a nice twist ending that left both me and Ben on the floor laughing. That’s right, a BOARD BOOK with a twist ending.

Side note: do not bother visiting the official Pigeon website. It is a waste of time and energy.

2015 Consignment Sales

March 3-8, 2015
Tot Swap Gaithersburg

March 14, 2015

Kids Nearly New Sale (Howard County Fairgrounds)

March 19 – 22
Wee Sale Annapolis

March 25-29, 2015
Tot Swap Frederick

April 11, 2015
Kids Nearly New Sale (Howard County Fairgrounds)

April 7-12, 2015
Tot Swap Timonium

April 17 – 19, 2015
Wee Sale Greenbelt

My child has opinions and it’s awesome

So, we’ve officially entered the “no” phase. Only, thing is, instead of the “NONONONOOOOOOOO” that I was warned (oh so ominously) about, we get these adorable little “Nope”s.

And she’s opinionated and has Feelings and Thoughts and Ideas. “I’m so mad! Grrrrr!” “I’m fus-tated! Grrrr!” “I’m happy. Are you pretty happy, Mommy?”

Of course I’m happy. She’s developing into her own person, which is sort of, you know, the whole goal of raising a child.

I’m not sure where this idea comes from, that a toddler is an obnoxious creature to be Handled, Distracted, or Avoided as much as possible. I was reading something recently about dining out with your toddler when it hit me how unusual our experience seems to be. When we decide we want to go out for food, we pick a restaurant that we like and we go. And we have never had a problem with our toddler being unable to function or turning the evening into a total nightmare. She either eats or she doesn’t. She sits at the table until her toddler patience has run out, and then someone gets up and runs around outside with her for a bit, and then they come back and eat some more. We don’t try to pick a restaurant based on how many televisions under the theory that more tvs = more distraction = better (which, honest, I’ve heard given as advice). If anything, we try to avoid restaurants with televisions because she eats better without them.

Saturday Recap

Five things that happened this week:

  • During our Friday music class, the Sprout was in the middle of the circle the entire time, singing and dancing. The teacher at one point even told her, “You’re so prominent today!” She just loves her music class!
  • After the Sprout’s first diaper change of the day, she said and signed “Potty” several times, so Ben took her to the bathroom and sat her on her little potty where she promptly peed. A lot.
  • She has made the connection between animals and the sounds they make. It’s just the absolute best to hear her point at Nimitz and say “Meeeeee-owwwww.” (Also, any word with an “ow” sound has about sixteen syllables. ALL of them.
  • We got confirmation from the mortgage company, which means in the next couple weeks, we should be closing on a house and then, you know, moving.
  • I am starting to find my stride! Tuesday and Thursday, I met with other Moms to just hang out (and it was awesome). Wednesday, I made a big celebratory birthday dinner for my Mom, which involved lots of cooking (and it was awesome.)

Please stand by, we’re experiencing adorable difficulties…

Posting will be a bit sporadic in the next few weeks as we get a handle on being a family of three. In the meantime, you can let this face tide you over.

On Life, Death, and Lizards

Well, that was exciting.

I came downstairs to grab a snack, and while I was in the bathroom (because, of course, that is my first stop after a flight of stairs) I heard Nimitz scratching at the basket we keep the shoes in. I yelled at her, which usually works, but not this time. When I got into the hall, she was staked out in front of the basket, clawing at it, and snapping at her didn’t help. So I picked up the basket.

And out scurried a lizard.

Now, I totally should have gotten a photo of this, but I had two options:

1) deal with the fury-crazed cat, panicked lizard, and my front hallway or

2) photograph the lizard.

So I called Ben, obviously, as Nimitz chased the poor little formerly-blue-tailed skink around the bathroom floor. Fortunately for the skink, Nimitz has lost the killer instinct, so she would give it a little claw-free tap, watch it skitter away, then tap it again. She managed to get it towards the front door, where I picked her up, opened the door, and tried to let it out. She started squirming like crazy, so I tossed her in the bathroom and shut the door (easier said than done), then opened the storm door for the lizard, where it finally slipped out. I let Nimitz out of the bathroom, where we looked at the poor little thing as it sat by the door mat, its little sides heaving.

Look, I know the skink is probably just going to get eaten by one of the many neighborhood outdoor cats. I get it, really I do. My mom’s cats are indoor/outdoor, and not only have I heard all about the things they bring home, I’ve helped Mom rescue a couple. I totally get that cats are the ultimate killing machine, that lizards are lower on the food chain and often eaten by predators. That the animal kingdom is full of tiny creatures dying every day.

Just not in my front hallway, okay?

The Importance of Being Normal

Ben came home from the summer camp he’s teaching with a story about one of the girls in his camp. She’s allergic to dairy, eggs, and peanuts, and has to eat separately from the rest of the kids in the camp in a “peanut-free zone”. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that is — at least with my allergy, I could sit next to kids eating things that would’ve harmed me. Food, in our society (and from what I can tell, most societies), is a social thing as well as something for nourishment. When we get together with people, we talk about meeting up for lunch or dinner, or grab a cup of coffee. For kids in public school systems or very busy summer camps, lunch time might be the only unstructured social time they get with their classmates. And that means that for those of us with allergies, it’s not just eating that’s harder, it’s socializing.

I do a lot of contract work, which means I eat a lot of first meals with coworkers. The allergy comes up in conversation. A LOT. I don’t mean to be one of those people who’s always talking about my digestive tract, but when someone suggests we go out for pizza, they keep pushing for answers when I say I’m not up for joining them there. Or the number of times I’ve been offered cake or cookies, and when I politely decline, I get asked, “What, are you on some sort of a diet?” Yes, I’m on the thinner side of the spectrum (a result, I would wager, more to do with a diet low in saturated fat, rather than due to a genetic predisposition or all that exercise I avoid), so when these middle-aged women scowl at me with their slowing metabolisms, criticizing me for a diet they think I’m on and don’t need, a lot of the time I will speak up and tell them it’s because of an allergy (although, more and more lately I stay silent). When we go to restaurants, I’m used to playing twenty questions with the waiters just to find out what I can safely order.

I deal with a lot of that crap when outside the house, but now that I’m an adult, I can declare our house a Dairy-Free Zone. Okay, so it’s not a hard and fast rule, and Ben will occasionally bring something home that’s his to eat, like a tub of yogurt from the cows I nearly went to college with or leftovers from a restaurant. But for the most part, he’s voluntarily restricted his own dairy consumption, which means very little in our house. Come to think of it, we lost most of the contents of our fridge from the power outage, and I don’t think any dairy has entered the house since.

As a kid, it was a lot harder. At home, my parents kept dairy products for themselves (why shouldn’t they? As adults, we have the privilege of choosing our own food). At school, I ate my packed lunches because I could never have anything from the school cafeteria. And in elementary school, the lunch time teasing was pretty bad. I remember being chased around the lunch room with cartons of milk, having drops of milk flicked at my bare skin, string cheese wiggled in my face. Kids are really cruel about things they don’t understand, and in big settings like a school cafeteria, it’s really hard for the five adults present to keep an eye on three hundred socializing kids (had they even understood what was going on, and at that point, I’m not so certain they did).

So when Ben told me about the seven year old girl with the food allergies, who had one classmate who could sit with her because of the peanut allergy, but then shook a pudding container in her face and wiped cheese on her leg? I cried, and I don’t think it’s just the hormones this time.

I thought back to seven-year-old me and what I so desperately needed to hear.

Being a kid with allergies is so hard. All the grown-ups think they’re helping by giving you special cheese and a special plate of things you can eat. And yeah, sometimes that stuff is exciting, like when you go to a vegan restaurant and you can order anything on the menu. But special is only special when it’s, well, special. It’s only exciting when it’s different, when you can spend most of your time being normal. I can’t even count the number of times I cried myself to sleep because I just wanted a stupid ice cream cone like everyone else. Or the times I made myself sick because “well, a little bit will be okay”.

But you know what? What I eat now is normal. In our house, our normal “butter” is Earth Balance. When I say “please pass the milk”, it’s usually soy (although sometimes coconut or almond). And if I want, I can have ice cream for dessert, because we bought some at the store and it’s okay. I can open our refrigerator and eat anything I want to. And it’s No. Big. Deal.

And those decadent dairy-free desserts I make for myself? Most of the people I share them with can have dairy no problem, and don’t even care that what I made is cow-free. At Thanksgiving, my dairy-free pumpkin pie is regularly topped with whipped cow-cream. The raves I got for my dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake! And you know what else? Our wedding meal was totally dairy-free. And most people never even knew.

So hang in there, kiddo. It’s hard now, I know. But when you’re done with school and living on your own, you get to plan your own meals. And then whatever you choose to make is normal.


This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Ever feel like you’re just trapped in one of those days when everything is doomed to be

broken? And not normal broken, where stuff just breaks. Oh no. We don’t get normal broken

around here. See, a couple weeks ago, we went to turn the light off on our ceiling fan and

the switch broke. With the light on. Over our bed. At bedtime.

So we unscrewed all four bulbs, went to bed, and contacted the landlord in the morning. Two

weeks later, the repair people are finally supposed to show up at noon today (the repair

company is slow, not the landlord), so I’m waiting until they get here and can fix the

switch on our ceiling fan and we can once again have light in the bedroom. It’s terrible,

but I’m sort of half-hoping they’ll have to replace the entire fan, because then maybe we

can get a nice neutral looking one instead of this FABULOUS 70s faux-wood laminate with

gold trim. I would like one of the cheap white ones that blends in to the ceiling. And has

more than one setting for fan speed. A remote would be awesome too, but I’ll settle for a

chain that’s not extended by a piece of yarn.

And if that weren’t enough for today, the internet died. And not one of those wake up to

find it off days. No, I was in the middle of stuff when suddenly pages stopped loading

without warning. The laptop doesn’t connect either, and, more importantly, the router has a

pretty orange light where the green one for internet connectivity should be. So I called

Verizon and waded through their menus. After being on hold for 20 minutes, I called back.

We’re about ten minutes into the second phone call. After this, I call again and stop

playing their pretty menu games. I will just mash buttons until a human picks up. I can

understand a long wait at lunch time or after work hours. But at 10:30 am?

So, finally got a human (and she’s very nice). She suggested an outage in Suitland due to a

car taking out a utility pole, which seems a bit far to actually be affecting us, and

according to her system won’t occur until 11:23am (they have very advanced systems at

Verizon, it seems). Then she did a little network magic on her end, and suddenly I had

internet again. But, of course, she had absolutely no idea why it went out in the first

place. Figures, right?

So now, I’ve got 45 min until the repair folk are scheduled to show, during which time I

think I need to have second breakfast, and maybe call the community management people to

figure out why we haven’t gotten our pool passes yet. See, preggers wants to swim this

summer, so they better FIX IT.


Zooborns is one of our very favorite sites– who doesn’t love baby animals?  But a baby animal that’s also a baby toy– that’s almost too marvelous for words:

The four-wheeled camel!  Powered by biomass, no less, this camel has the smallest footprint of any Bactrian in history.  Probably because it doesn’t have feet.



The smartest thing that ever happened to video games was to structure them so you get little merit badges for doing different things in the game– ‘Achievements.’  Suddenly, you’re not just playing a game to kill time, or because it’s fun… there’s a concrete reward for continuing to play.  And other people can see how cool you are by how many achievements you’ve earned.  This system is why Kongregate has absorbed so many of my waking hours.

But somebody just took it to the next level.

That somebody is Obama.

I can get an achievement.  From the president. And all I have to do is:

“earn 20,000 points in the Presidential Champions program

You get points through doing fitness-y things, including shoveling snow and playing Wii tennis.   I don’t even know how many points you get for going to the gym, but given how many I got for clearing off the car last weekend, it’s probably off the charts.

20,000 points is a bronze Presidential Champions medal.  I’m totally there– and if you love achieving as much as I do, maybe give the site a look why not?