Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Little Builders and My Inner Builder

Things I was into when was little:
  •            building forts and treehouses in the woods
  •            playing Barbies
  •            play-food restaurant entrepreneur-ing
  •           recording hours and hours of a fake music radio station
  •           playing dress-up
  •           riding bikes
  •            listening to baseball on the radio
  •           playing catch
  •           building with Lego blocks
The touring group
Notice that two of those including building things. Somehow I have lived here in the DC Metro area for nearly ten years and only heard of the National Building Museum a couple weeks ago when I read a blog post about it. I put it on my list of places to take the boys soon. Then at the NOVA Live event I went to last week I met Bryana, who wrote the blog about the building museum that I read. She writes about her local trips with her daughter Chloe on her blog, Adventures with Little Bear. We teamed up and took the trip together.

The boys and I did the bus to the metro like usual, but this time we went with the boys’ buddy Andrew and he thoughtfully brought his mom Angela along. All three moms and four kids met yesterday morning in the sunny city streets in between metro stops and walked to the museum. I loved meeting Bryana’s delightful little Chloe Bear who loves to hug.

Dumbfounded at the fountain
The kids are still free—all kids 2 and under are free— and adults are $8 to see the whole museum. It will be great to one day be able to read placards in museums, but for now I know that is not in the stars for me, and I’m okay with that. I just want the kids to have fun and learn a few things on our museum trips.

The atrium of the building is staggeringly huge and beautiful. There’s a big water fountain that captivated all the kids while they had some snacks. The museum staff admit people into the Building Zone—a big room of themed toys and costumes for kids—every hour and you have to reserve a time. It is free when you buy a regular admission pass, or $3 for just the pass. (Kids under 2 are free here too.)

We snacked by the fountain, reserved a time to enter the Building Zone, and spent some time in the Lego exhibit.

The White House in white Legos
There are Lego replicas of famous buildings in the first part of the exhibit— among them the Empire State Building and Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water— but to me the part that stood out was the back half that was simply low tables with little stools and built-in trays for thousands of Legos. 12 year-old Me would have been in heaven. It must be this same obsessive trait that shows itself around gingerbread house building season—it makes me want to do everything in miniature and arrange everything precisely the way I want them. And  no one should get in my way.

You got that right.
There’s also a big flat mat about a foot and a half off the floor, divided in two, with streets painted on it, all ready for a miniature town. If someone had installed a toilet and served me regular meals, I could have lived in this room for several years of my life. We spent maybe 20 minutes in the exhibit, with the kids sporadically building and running their hands through all the blocks.

After that we did a potty stop and then spent around an hour in the Building Zone. This place is awesome. All different kinds of blocks, a book corner, costumes, a doll house, train table, trucks, and a playhouse. One wall of the playhouse is see-through, so kids can see what the inside of a wall looks like. You can see the wires and insulation.

When we were at the museum we saw several groups of school kids and other groups, but in general the place was quiet and nearly empty. We had free reign of the Lego table until right before we left when a dad  and son came in, and in the Building Zone there were only a couple other kids and parents. I look forward to visiting all the other exhibits some day, but for now the Lego room and Building Zone are perfect for the boys. Everyone was hungry, so we walked in the beautifully springy afternoon several blocks down F street to Ollie’s Trolley. The boys and I love Ollie's Trolley, but the other moms had never been there. We were sad to see that it is closed for renovations until at least March 1st, so we went next door to Harry’s for lunch.

Overall, I give the National Building Museum 5 out of 5 Shouts and 5 out of 5 Whispers. I'm trying to figure out how I can sneak away to the Lego exhibit without children and spend hours of uninterrupted bliss with my inner builder.

To read about our other local field trips to museums in the area, go here.

They boys were "building bunk beds for little people!"

So many possibilities! 

Andrew and Angela outline their building.

Building Zone!

Chloe shows Bryana how to build a dollhouse.

Clark makes the Building Zone a destruction zone.

Wall inside the playhouse

Through rain, sleet, and hail...

Chloe the master mechanic

Cal trades his glasses in for a more stylish pair.

forging the Lego rapids 

Harry's- not as cool as Ollie's Trolley, but they did have balloons...

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Baseball Crowd

Yesterday was a beautiful day. We spent some quality family time at the playground basking in the sun. There are tight pink buds on the magnolia tree that surrounds our balcony. Bunny and Easter egg paraphernalia is abundant. This can only mean one thing—baseball is near.

I have spent an enormous amount of my life in baseball: as a fan of my college and professional teams growing up— mostly through the scratchy radio my dad had on in the garage, a big fan of my brothers’ and sister’s teams— I was a fixture in the spring and summer stands, and plenty of time in cleats in the dirt and grass myself. There is and always will be something magical about baseball to me, and I hope we can instill a love a love of the game in our boys.

We're teaching the boys to love the game!
There is something special about sharing baseball with friends. I have only a couple baseball friends, among them my dad, siblings, and a couple former college professors. They are the ones I hear from when there’s a big trade or an amazing game (Game 6 World Series last fall!) or when something reminds them of a certain baseball moment we witnessed as children. 

This weekend, one of the friends I shared a lot of growing-up baseball moments with sent me a link to the spring training schedule from right where she now lives in Arizona. With that one little link she sent me so many memories—crying together in her room after our Mariners were eliminated from the postseason in ’95, long road trips to Seattle, and countless hours arranging and trading baseball cards. 

About six years ago I met another girl baseball fan who also remembers where she was during the last game of most of the World Series,’ what it is like to live and die with a favorite team, and feels the urge to go throw a ball around on those first spring days.

In honor of this first week of spring training, and of my baseball friends, I’d like to share this poem by one of my favorite poets, William Carlos Williams, about being a spectator of baseball.

It's fun to see how much Clark loves baseball.
The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—

all the excited detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—

all to no end save beauty
the stretch, and the pitch...
the eternal—

so in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this
to be warned against

saluted and defied—
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
its words cut—

The flashy female with her
mother, gets it—

The Jew gets it straight- it
is deadly, terrifying—

baseball brother love
It is the Inquisition, the

It is beauty itself
that lives

Day by day in them

This is
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought

-William Carlos Williams

Me, circa 1990, getting ready for a big t-ball game

"I see great things in baseball." -Walt Whitman

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Bled You!

 It happens rather often these days. One of the boys will turn to me in public and proudly proclaim, “I bled you, Mommy!” Before you report me for teaching my kids the pre-scientific practice of allowing giant worms to suck on people to maintain the proper balance of the all-important bodily humors, hear me out.

Brian plays many different games with the boys, and they name the games together. Sometimes the names are real words, like the game Fast Bear, where they have to hold on to his shirt for dear life as he lumbers around the house on all fours, and the game Hi Buddy, which involves headfirst diving over Brian’s head off the couch. Some games just have nonsense words or sounds as the name. The one that has been the most popular for the past few months is called Bleh. In its purest form, Bleh is jumping out from a hiding place and scaring people. It used to just be done at home, while one boy or Dad walked down the hall toward the living room, pretending to be oblivious to the fact that the other two are hiding in wait behind the couch or the chair or the curtains to scare him. They then jump out with both hands open by their head and yell, BLEH! I'm sure you play this with kids and played it when you were little too. Totally normal.

The game has no boundaries now. Every place is the hallway, every structure is a couch or a chair or a curtain to hide behind, and every person is a subject willing to be scared for sport. After the blehing, the bleher will usually tell the blehed that “I blehed you! I did!” As if there is a question about whether or not a little mini person just jumped out of hiding and scared you. This is not easy to explain to someone in public, so I just make the bleh face back, with my hands by my head and bleh the boy who just blehed me, in hopes that the observers will see that he only means that he scared me, not that he’s into bloodletting. 

Clark illustrates the classic bleh pose.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

The bond between Boy and Popsicle is strong indeed.

Thesicle: A little or subordinate thesis; a proposition

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How the Swagger Bag Pushed Me Off the Wagon

I haven’t been eating wheat for a few weeks and I’ve been enjoying it—especially the facts that I’ve lost some weight and feel better in general. Last night I went to cool bloggy networking and charity event that I am fortunate to have been invited to. It was held at a women’s consignment store containing more shoes than I’ve ever seen in a second hand store. There were a bunch of great giveaways (I won a free family photo session!) and representatives from local magazines and a vineyard and AT&T were all there to rub shoulders with some of us local mom bloggers and other local parenting website owners and reps as we were rubbing shoulders with each other. (This sounds much more spa-like than it was.) 

I knew there would be desserts and that they would most likely have wheat in them, but I had decided I’d let myself cheat a little. I had a nibble of an adorable mini chocolate muffin and immediately felt guilty, so I didn’t eat the rest of it. I had a great time and met some people I know I’ll be in touch with for a long time. Micaela and Andrea (a.k.a. SuperNovaMommy and Real Housewives of Northern Virginia) did an amazing job coordinating the event. I was proud that I was leaving without having eaten more than one wheat-y nibble. I took my innocent-looking swagger bag that the early-registered guests got to take home and swaggered out the door with my friend Nikki. 

Then I got home. In the bag there were, among many other surprises, a couple cookies from local bakeries. I helped Brian get the boys in bed and sat down at my computer. A bag of some of the cute little cookies was right within eyesight. I think they may have even moved themselves, because I don’t remember putting them there. I’d already decided I could cheat tonight, right? And I hardly did, right? ALSO! It was Fat Tuesday! I needed no more convincing. There were five little cookies in the bag. I opened it and enjoyed one. It was done extremely quickly and before I knew what I was doing, I had eaten all five delicious white bombs. There. I said it. I ate them all and loved it. And it’s all the swagger bag’s fault. 

My favorite cookie of the night-- and one I did not devour (yet)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Playseum Trip and Passes Giveaway!

Last week my brother called me from 8th street in DC. He was on his bike and had passed a new children’s museum so he called to see if I wanted to bring the boys in to check it out. Who doesn’t love a brother who calls out of breath to tell you about a museum? This girl does. I made plans to go into the city with the boys on Tuesday and meet up with him at the Playseum. I had seen the name on local websites but I had never read or heard anything about it. Two days later, SuperNovaMommy offered me eight free passes to the Playseum! Four for us, four for a giveaway. What good luck and perfect timing!

I loaded up the boys onto the bus and metro and we headed into the city. It started off well. Just when I thought we had missed the bus, it showed up a couple minutes late and Clark boldly stepped on. “Hi! My name’s Tlart!” He said to the bus driver. “He said Clark,” Cal explained to the driver as he stepped onto the bus with me. Calvin the translator. At the metro we hopped on the front car again, by the driver, and this time both boys enjoyed watching the tracks and blue lights as we drove along the highway and then underground. 

Clark finds the Very Hungry Caterpillar in the pet shop!
The Playseum is right by the Eastern Market metro station and the place was a big hit with the boys from the start because there are two ceiling fans in the entryway. It was simple to get the stroller and coats put away and to hear about how the place is arranged because they just stared at the fans. Admission for people who don’t have awesome free passes is $6. Infants are free. The Playseum is a children’s used book store with eighteen different themed rooms. The books are arranged by topic or theme, each topic has a room, and in each room are toys and activities centered around the topic. Very cool idea. They call the collection of rooms their CityShops. The first shop we visited was the pet store, where the boys got to touch some bunnies and Clark even held the lizard! They were delighted to find a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar among the critters, and we read it. The boys painted ceramic tiles in the art studio and learned the word sequin. I’m thinking I’ll use the tiles on a breakfast tray I’ve been meaning to decorate with mosaic glass tiles. In the art shop, kids can buy any number of things to paint or decorate and make different crafts—and 50% of the proceeds go to help an Ethiopian village get clean drinking water. There’s even an Ethiopian hut included in the art shop. 

The list of cool shops goes on: there is a bakery where kids can decorate cupcakes, a salon for kids to get their nails painted, a pizza shop with fixin’s for felt pizzas, a coffee shop, a room set up like a cruise ship, a restaurant, a grocery store, a farm, a sports room, and a couple more. They have some local DC elements, like a little Chinatown and cherry blossom information and murals of the Jefferson Memorial and metro map. My boys’ favorite spot was a mini stage in a room with costumes and toys and books. They think they’re rockstars, so the feeling they got on the stage only added to that belief. I got some curious looks from other moms because they kept singing Jimmy Buffet songs, (they're obsessed) chanting “Salt! Salt! Salt!” and pointing to the imaginary brown-eyed girls in the imaginary audience. The even recruited another little boy to join their boy band for a song or two. We spent at least half an hour there. I had to wrench the guitar from Cal’s hand so we could continue on. 

After our successful Playseum visit, we went just a few doors down to a famous DC hot dog shop, DC-3,  We met my friend Becky, who works nearby at the Folger Shakespeare Library, for a hot dog, fries, and a good viewing of the ceiling fan-ish propeller from a DC-3 (airplane) on the wall. What an amazing place! The hot dogs look like works of art and ours were delicious. (Plus, you can add bacon onto any hot dog for fifty cents. Shizam!)

The only change I will make next time we make the trip is to allow more time for our visit and bring some friends. My boys could play for hours at the Playseum, especially with their friends. You could keep the trip less expensive by packing your own lunch, since there is a room where eating is allowed. 

And now…I’m excited to be able to host a giveaway for four free passes to the Playseum, thanks to SuperNovaMommy! The giveaway begins now and will end Friday evening. To enter, simply respond here with your name and I will do a drawing at the end of the week and contact the winner. It would also be cool if you became a Whispers & Shouts follower, either through Blogger, or the new NetworkedBlogs option, or simply “like” the Whispers & Shouts Facebook page. I’m excited about my growing number of awesome readers!

My two thumbs are up for the Playseum and we will definitely be back. Local parents, get your kids there! They will love it.

Also: Check out my trips to other local spots here.

Clark holds a lizard in the pet shop!

The clown and the artist
Cal paints his tile.

You're my-eye...brown-eyed girl! 

Uncle A and Clark work the counter at the pizza shop. 

There's a little putting green by this Jefferson Memorial mural

The market

Clark rings up the...wine? And Cal is not in the cart...trick photography

Cal wouldn't be beaten; when I took away the guitar he strummed the block.

Pink Cowboy Cal

Reading some farm books in the farm room with Uncle A

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soap Giveaway Winner!

I almost forgot to pick a winner for the soap giveaway today. My plan was to have one of the boys draw the name. Fortunately I remembered before Clark fell asleep...

He thought it was weird, but he picked a folded piece of paper from my hand...And the winner is...Laura who is Beltway Bargain Mom. Congrats! She will be receiving a package of happy from Spunky Suds forthwith!

Why am I Writing About This Woman?

Sometimes a certain librarian at a certain library makes me want to slap her in the face. Is that bad? Maybe. I want to go on record as saying that aside from this librarian and my storytime encounters, I absolutely love our library and its proximity to us. I even like the quirkiness of some of its patrons that comes as a result of the library being next to a homeless shelter. 

The first time I had a run-in with this woman was when the boys were 13 months old. How do I remember that age? Oh, that’s because storytime at the library requires babies to be 13 months old before they can come to the infant-2 years storytime. They also have ONLINE REGISTRATION for storytime? What the f$&%? I know. So fascist. I touched on the story and how my library visits have changed here, but here’s the storytime incident: I pushed them in their double umbrella stroller to the room where storytime was held. At the door I was told I could not take the stroller in. Okay. I wonder how I will contain my crawlers? I asked if she could make an exception since I had two. No. Okay, well, I’ll try. All the parents were perfectly arranged in a half circle, sitting cross-legged with their one child on their laps, with the exception of a dad whose son was standing over in the corner, not in anyone’s way, just walking around quietly. Note: there was plenty of room for my stroller to be over in the corner by the boy walking around.

Putting both boys on my lap lasted about all of 30 seconds before one started sprint-crawling across the room. Yes, I got a glare from said librarian. I bet you didn’t know fascists wear duck puppets; I’m here to tell you that they do. Soon the fascist spoke to the father in the corner with his kid. “It would be best if everyone was sitting over here.” Seriously. After some more glares and awkward, disciplinary pauses from her, I decided to take the boys out and put them in the stroller. So I did. Then I put the stroller in the doorway so we weren’t in the room but the boys could see the story. By the way, they were interested in listening and watching once they were contained. “It would be best if there were no strollers,” the fascists passively-aggressively told me in front of everyone. I blurted something along the lines of, “Are you kidding me?” and I took the stroller and left. I had every intention of writing a letter to the library over this behavior, but I never got around to it. A good thing that came from it was that I met my friend Susan at the playground a few weeks after the incident. The icebreaker: “Aren’t you the one who was kicked out of storytime? That was ridiculous.” We’ve been friends ever since.

Over a year later I decided to give it another shot. We went with some friends. For some reason Calvin freaked out when we got to the library and didn’t want to go to storytime. Perhaps he remembered the fascist dictator that ruled last time. But, stories hadn’t started yet so I tried to calm him down by the door. He let me take him in and was beginning to settle down. Let me reiterate, stories had not started and the librarian was not even trying to start reading when she looked at me and said gruffly, “He can’t stay in here like that.” I left with both boys.

We went to the kids’ room in the library and read books ourselves. Interestingly, one by one, other moms came out of storytime and into the children’s section after, I can only assume, being passively-aggressively kicked out. Needless to say, we have not tried another library storytime and have no plans to. However, we do go to the library often to get books and read books and to look at the mural on the wall with the lion that got his foot hurt and the mouse that is helping take the thorn out. The boys are obsessed with that part of the mural, and the Hansel and Gretel candy house.

The other day my friend the fascist was the librarian in the children’s section and I asked her where the educational Dr. Seuss books are located. “Hmm. What do you mean?” Really? I explained to her that the series is from the Cat in the Hat PBS cartoon and they’re on different subjects like space and desserts. Blank look. “I don’t know. Maybe they would be over here in content sorted books…or beginning reading?” I’d like to add that any mom I’ve mentioned these books to knows about this series, and some own them. She then found the series on the computer, with much mumbling, and put them on hold for me. Next I asked her about books about cars or transportation in general that she might recommend for kids my kids’ age. “Hmm, none come to mind…” What. Isn’t every boy (besides mine) obsessed with cars and trucks? And don’t children’s book authors know that and write about them? Don’t librarians know a lot about books? I was trying to get my boys psyched up to see the transportation exhibit at the American History Museum. Fortunately, another librarian was beginning her shift at that time and had some great suggestions for me. How delightfully and refreshingly librarian of her.

I’m a little annoyed at myself for dedicating even this much of my time to writing about that librarian, and I want to love our local children’s librarian, as a concept. Anyone know a good children’s librarian looking to relocate? 

Our librarian would probably not approve of sleeping with books. Too bad.
The Spunky Suds soap giveaway ends in a few hours! Put your name in the hat.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

Two capes are better than one.

[Thesicle: A little or subordinate thesis; a proposition]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On the Loss of My Wheat Tooth

It's been over two weeks since I stopped eating wheat. (Read about why I gave it up here.) Two weeks was my planned trial period and it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought. The hardest day was the first day. Ever since then, it hasn't been bad. A few nights ago it was a little difficult to ignore the fresh sourdough bread in front of my plate at the restaurant, but I did it. Planning for and preparing meals has taken a little longer because I had gotten in ruts of easy things like pasta and bread and crackers for the boys. I haven't taken the boys off wheat and Brian isn't off wheat, but I'm trying to have less and less around, and more and more vegetables and fruit.

I found a recipe for muffins with whole wheat flour and oat bran and I substituted rice flour for the wheat flour. They also had carrots, raisins, yogurt, and banana in them. The boys loved them, so that was a victory. (However, Cal still only eats muffin tops, not the whole muffin. So Seinfeldian/Jenna Maroney-ish) But I was amazed at how heavy I felt after eating just one muffin, after I had been off wheat for a week.

Yesterday I purposefully stepped off the wagon, because I had met my goal of two weeks and allowed myself two small treats. One was because my inner scavenger took over after the boys refused their flat raisin bagel halves. Then later at Valentine's dinner I had a bite of the cheesy bread while we waited for our food. I definitely felt heavier in the morning after the morning cheat, but didn't really after the single bite last evening. I found my cheats rather disappointing, actually. I guess I'm losing my wheat tooth.

The changes I've noticed have been:
    1) I feel....lighter, less full but in a good way-- which I'd say is a good reason to continue
    2) I don't feel hungry as much, I think just because my body is used to eating less now
    3) I have lost 7 pounds-- also a good reason to continue
    4) I find myself craving things like grapes and carrot sticks instead of bread or crackers

I'm also still running, which is a big 'ole streak for me. I even still like it! So overall I'm feeling healthier than I have for awhile, and inspired to keep it up. My wheat-free two weeks are over, but I'm going to keep going.

P.S. If you haven't already, enter the soap giveaway I'm doing this week. Read about it below.

P.P.S. Consider donating to the walk for epilepsy I'm doing next month, or walking with me.

Less bread, more rice cakes with peanut butter

Monday, February 13, 2012

Smells Like Happy: A Spunky Suds Giveaway

I’ve never done a giveaway here, but I’m doing one today!

There’s this super cool girl I grew up down the road from in Idaho who hand-makes her own soaps-- and I don’t mean the daytime dramas that unfortunately come on when I’m trying to turn on Sid the Science Kid for the boys. She has five kids she home schools, and is in general a supermom. She (more specifically Spunky Suds) became a Whispers & Shouts sponsor and sent me a package of her handmade soaps. As I opened the box and the scents began to waft around my kitchen, I felt a little like royalty or mostly just like the boy noises faded and I was having a party in my nose. She sent some mini bars and a couple bigger bars and a tub of body butter. (And I can get behind anything that has the word butter in it.) So I’ve been washing and buttering a lot and thinking of  what to do for the giveaway. I thought getting the boys involved would be fun, so I had them inspect the soaps and get their opinions on them. I let the boys describe them in their own special ways. After the "buildings" from their freestyle soap-block building toppled down, they had these things to say about the soaps:

Dark red soap: “Smells like chocolate ice cream.” –Clark “Looks like a cow.”- Cal

White soap: “Smells like a cow.”- Cal (I’d like to throw in here that Cal doesn’t know what a cow smells like.) "Smells like mango juice." --Clark 

Green soap: “Smells like a light.” –Clark “Looks like a guitar.” – Cal, while strumming the soap

Red and white soap: “Smells like a candy cane.”—Cal “Smells like a hot dog.” – Clark

Brown soap: “Looks like Papa’s mustache.” – Clark (wearing the soap on his lip)

Green and blue soap: “Smells like a cucumber.” – Cal “Smells like happy.” – Clark

Purple soap: “Smells like Mommy smells,”—Cal (Aww, so sweet. I definitely rarely smell that good)

Big oatmeal-y soap: “Looks like a big horse.” –Clark “Looks like a drum.” –Cal, while drumming on it  

So, I’ve been washing with the soaps a lot lately and I’ve noticed my hands don’t seem as painfully dry as they had been, and also I smell a lot nicer. Less of the I-just-poured-apple-juice smell and the lovely Essence of Desitin. These soaps would make amazing gifts, too. As a matter of fact, if you get a gift of soap from me soon, you will know where I got it-- and I don't mean that I will give you one that I've already sampled. 

Enough daytime drama. Here’s what you need to do to enter the giveaway, after you read about Ashley and her Spunky Suds soap so you can see the loveliness of what you'll be winning.

1. "Like" the Whispers & Shouts Facebook page if you haven’t already. (you could just click “like” on the Facebook box here on the actual blog.)

2. Then leave a comment here using the world “soap” or any kind of made-up form of the word “soap." (example: soaptacular) I'm not even going to be all English teacher on you and make you use complete sentences. Fragments are fine. (It hurt me to type that)

We’ll see what we get. I'll probably have one of the boys randomly draw a winner, or if one comment stands out as the funniest to me by far, I'll pick that one.

The winner will get two full bars of my favorite two soaps, (I decided that the "smells like happy" and "looks like a cow" are my favorites.) as well as mini sample bars like what I got in my package. The deadline is this Friday the 17th at a random time that only I will decide. (Hint: either naptime or bedtime) Ready, set, go.

My Spunky Suds package

Practicing figurative language with soap. (Clark only put one bar in his mouth.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Angry Birds vs. Angry Clark

Clark is acting like a teenage girl lately. For one thing, he’s obsessing over his hair. If it ever gets any hint of static or he imagines that there is static, he starts wailing about wanting water on it. If his pants are pulled up too high, he freaks out. He doesn’t like his food to touch on his plate. Everything surrounding him is of dramatic importance.

To best illustrate the drama surrounding Clark’s difficult and stressful life, I’ll use an incident from the other day:

1.       Clark hurts his finger and cries.
2.       I tell him that Daddy bought Angry Birds (a new obsession) band-aids for them!
3.       I put on said band-aid.
4.       Clark is happy.
5.       Two seconds later, Clark starts crying because the yellow bird is covered up and he couldn’t see it and that is his favorite bird.
6.       I calm him down by showing him how cool the other birds are.
7.       We leave the house and start down the stairs.
8.       Clark begins screaming hysterically because holding the rail on the normal side he walks down feels weird because of his band-aid on his finger.
9.       I show him he can use the other rail with the other hand and it doesn’t feel weird.
10.   Clark sits down on the top steps, yelling, “no! no!” with tears pouring down his face.
11.   I go to pick him up and carry him down and he shrieks even more, slapping at me.
12.   I go down the stairs with Cal and leave him to his tears.
13.   He eventually comes down and is happy.
14.   We go for our walk.
15.   We stop at a restaurant for lunch.
16.   As soon as he gets his food he starts wailing about how he can’t eat with his band-aid on. “Get it off! Get it off!”
17.   People stare.
18.   I take the band-aid off and put it on his coat, which is on the back of his chair.
19.   He smiles at it and starts eating.
20.   He notices that from where he is sitting and eating, he cannot see his band-aid-turned-sticker.
21.   He again starts wailing about it.
22.   I tell him he’s being ridiculous and I throw it away.
23.   More screams and more stares but he eventually calms down.
24.   He finishes his chocolate milk and starts crying that it’s gone.
25.   We leave.

I guess he’s just going through a phase, but it’s one that makes me want to routinely bang my head against a wall. He also threatens us. He threatens to spank us or yell at us or bang something really hard! on the floor or table or something. I guess he's revisiting this phase from last year. Fortunately Cal has been milder in general these days. He prefers to engage in silent mind games by refusing to apologize or admit what he did was wrong even though it means staying in his bed.

So I’m sure this makes you want to go out and have kids, right? Specifically twins? The amazing thing to me is how quickly they can go from having an epic meltdown to being charming again. I guess that’s how they survive in our house. Cuteness and sweetness outweigh screaming fits of unbridled and irrational rage. 

I’m so glad they won’t one day be teenage girls. Then the drama would be over things like boys and shoes and purses and tampons and things. I'm way better with band-aids and chocolate milk.

Can't imagine him angry? Come visit in a few minutes. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

The hyena sings at midnight.

Thesicle: A little or subordinate thesis; a propostion

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Local Love and a Toy Round-up

Happy Wednesday, my peeps. I'm happy to have made some recent bloggy friends lately and I'm excited about getting to meet some of them in person soon. Among them is Supernovamommy, whose site I wrote an article for about a month ago and Laura at BeltwayBargains. Another helpful site I've been in contact with is KidFriendlyDC. I'm also getting some dude mom love from this amazing woman at Parenting by Dummies and her other sites. It's so cool to see my network around the DC metro area grow and grow! All these awesome people and sites, and many of them close to me. It's great to share stories and advice and events.

Another bloggalicious mommy I met a long time ago and finally met in the honest-to-goodness flesh and bones is Nikki (and her adorable Molly). I wrote a guest post for her awhile ago, and she's sharing one for Whispers & Shouts today. She and I have a couple things in common, among them is the small spaces we call our homes. Read on...

Hi there! I'm Nikki from SuperNoVa Mom! I also freelance over at Pure Matters. First of all, I want to thank Dawn for having me. We met through blogging, but soon realized that we were neighbors! Our kiddos like to get together and play which is also fun for me because Dawn makes me laugh. Who doesn't like laughing?

Dawn also knows what it's like to live in small quarters. I, too, live in a two bedroom, two bathroom condo. I struggle with living in a small place with little storage. It's a challenge to find a place to put all your food (no pantry) and linens (no linen closet) and golf clubs (no garage) and maternity clothes (can barely fit my non-maternity clothes!). Who am I kidding? My maternity clothes are in my mom's garage. Yes, I have to keep things at my mom's and I'm almost 30! Now, I know what you're thinking... why do you need so much stuff? I don't need a lot of stuff, I just really have no storage. You can only imagine how claustrophobic our place became once we had a baby. Babies = lots of stuff. Then the baby got bigger and her toys got bigger and started taking over the entire condo. Things got so bad that I felt as though I was living in the Fisher Price section of Toys R Us. I began feeling very overwhelmed. Time for Project Molly's Room.

Now that Molly is 15 months old, my husband and I felt like we could turn her room from a nursery into a big girl room. We moved all her toys into her room and rearranged some furniture. I also took some time to reorganize her closets... mostly filled with baby stuff she no longer uses. I had no idea how much happier it would make me! I can literally sit at my desk and look to my right to see her playing in her little play area. My living room is finally toy free! I think I can put up with living in a small condo for a little bit longer. Emphasis on little. :)

I hope y'all will visit me over at SuperNoVa Mom sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Contains No Fake Children

Children’s museums: you might be surprised to hear that they are not in fact exhibits of various wax children or children preserved via the art of taxidermy. It’s not that I actively thought that was the case, but I’d never been to one before this weekend, so I wasn’t entirely sure.

Think for a moment about the names of museums, and suspend the possessive nature of "children's" with me for a moment: American history, Air and Space, Science, Art…yadda, yadda.  Those museums are not museums for Science to grow a body and visit. They are not for Art or for Air and Space to walk around in and be entertained by, to buy trinkets to take home to their grandkids. History itself will not pay $20 for a museum shop sub-par sandwich. No. History and art and scientific specimens are on display, they are not the target audience. Therefore, the children’s museum is a semantic anomaly of the museum world (pesky little possessive aside). There are no display cases of rare children from around the world or rosters and pictures of playdates past. No taxidermy displays with dramatically manipulated children with titles like Bullied on the Playground or Endless Hide n’ Seek. Quite the contrary, I found out this weekend.

Cool Uncle P
We took a trip to see my aunt and uncle in Richmond. They are the world's coolest great aunt and uncle. Uncle Pierre tuned the boys guitars, restrung Clark's so he can play left-handed, and showed Brian how to restring them. They also let the boys play with their old organ, their dog Blackberry, and all three of their ceiling fans! It just so happens that they live down the street from the Richmond Children’sMuseum. Our museum visit started off a little rough, with Cal shrieking and stiffening at the life-size cow (that you could "milk" and water came out) and baby dinosaurs, but soon both boys were digging in synthetic sand (it looked like recycled tires or something) to find dinosaur fossils—even fighting off the big bully who tried to take away Clark’s shovel. Their favorite part was a big structure painted to look like an apple tree. On the outside there were holes where red balls that looked like apples sat. Kids picked the apples and put them in baskets. Once the baskets were full, they went inside the tree and dumped them into a machine that looks like a cider press. It sucked the balls up to the top of the tree in a see-through tube, and then dispersed them into a bunch of see-through tubes that fed each individual apple hole on the outside. Clever, and the kids loved it. It was interesting to see that the kids weren’t giggling as they did it; they were for the most part very serious, being helpful, being important, doing a job. But you could tell they loved it. And my boys are the same way at home. They love to do jobs, things that help me, even though in reality they make it much slower for me to get anything done. So, with this exceedingly scientific observation that I made at the apple tree in mind, I will continue to make my children do chores around the house so that one day I will do nothing but sip freshly-squeezed lemonade while getting foot massages and watching baseball, as my kids do the dishes and vacuum and cook and such. But I’m getting off track here.

Apple pickin'

Not your ordinary apple orchard
I was blow away by the portion of the museum dedicated to art. There was no one running it, or overseeing it or checking people in or anything predictable and typical like that. Kids and their parents can come in, pick from a huge selection of mediums and supplies, put on a smock (old mechanic and pizza shop shirts with names on them) and let their imaginations run wild. Talk about a crafty person’s heaven. And it was so environmentally friendly! Aside from the staples like paper, glue, markers, paint, pencils, and the always-helpful pipe cleaners, paper plates, and paper bags, most everything else for crafts was reused. There were cardboard toilet paper rolls, empty egg cartons, scraps of fabric, plastic food containers, and tons more. On a shelf were sample craft projects to get ideas for what to make. One was a paper bag puppet, and we made some puppets ourselves. The boys also had great fun painting with watercolors until their papers were saturated. I could spend hours in there, because I have a tendency to obsess over projects like that. There were doors from the art room that led outside to a place that looked like fun, but it was cold out and we had a lot to see still! 


We played at a water table, after which the boys changed their soaked shirts, a puzzle table, and a big vacuum maze thing on a wall that the kids put balls and thin handkerchiefs in and watched them fly out at different speeds. There was a life-size cave with puppet critters and stalagmites and stalactites. The play town was amazing. It had, all in miniature: a café, a bank, a grocery store, a hospital, a TV news studio, a car repair shop, and a school. Again, no real supervision, as the kids were free to go around and play with everything. The store had real cash registers, little shopping carts, shelves for food (though most of it was on the floor after having been loved), play money, and some busy little shoppers. The café had a pretend espresso machine and a counter and tables outside with umbrellas. Another thing they did that was super cool was that instead of buying the ridiculously expensive Melissa and Doug-ish type play food, they used empty boxes and containers from real food, wrapped in packing tape. Brilliant! (I found an Idaho Spuds box!) They did have play fruit and veggies, but for the most part the store was stocked with reused food boxes. In the car repair shop, kids could change the tires, slide under the car on a little wheely-thing like real mechanics do, honk the horn, replace the cloth muffler, look at the engine parts and pour pretend washer fluid and antifreeze (again, just in empty plastic bottles with labels on them) into the reservoirs. In the TV station kids could go in front of the camera at a news desk and be seen on a TV outside the station. The hospital had an ambulance out front that the kids could climb into and “drive.” There was a lot of cool-looking stuff in the big hospital room, but we weren’t in there very long. The boys weren’t that interested, and I thought all the naked baby dolls strewn about were a bit off-putting—this was the closest the museum came to displaying wax children. The little school was adorable, with a huge abacus and lots of magnetic letters and number toys for practicing to write the numbers.

Water table!

I wonder how their shirts got wet? So fun!
There was a section with a little trampoline and manipulative shapes and tubes for creating things to climb on and in. This is where some girls in some kind of brown vests (Brownies? Girl Scouts? I don’t know) crowded Clark out on the trampoline until I scared them away in what was possibly my meanest mom move ever—simply a snarky comment—but they took the hint and scrammed. There were things we didn’t even make it to, like a giant ladder and slide apparatus that way up to a skylight and suspended paper birds, and an entire farm (more for younger kids anyway). 

We will definitely be back there. Just writing about it makes me want to go back and it’s only been three days since we were there. On the first Saturday of the month, adults are free if they show their Bank of America card! Of course I didn’t have mine with me, but my aunt did so she was free. Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for children-- very reasonable rates considering all they have to offer-- especially with the take-home art projects. Now I can’t wait to visit the Baltimore Children’s Museum because I’ve heard it’s great and it’s a lot closer. My hunch is that there will not be wax, or otherwise unreal children on display.

Vacuum maze on the wall

Cal driving the ambulance
Supermarket chaos
All in a day's work
Changing tires
Adding washer fluid
A great trip with Aunt Anne!

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