Saturday, September 06, 2008

Slumber Party at Grandma's!

So we're at Grandma's, for the great Slumber Party. The plan is to stay overnight. WE'll see what reality brings.

The afternoon has seen the boys mostly hanging out, eating popcorn, and watching Little Bear ad Blue's Clues. It rained pretty good. Now it's just windy here.

Later entertainment: dinner. Jell-o. Cookies.

Hmmm.. maybe I need to get some real activities organized here...

Things I Noticed When I Woke Up This Morning

It's Raining. Finally.

There are two boys in this bed.

I am a Mom Sandwich between said boys.

Neither of them are asleep.

I'm still tired.

Hey, it's 8 am. They let me sleep in! (Too bad it was almost 2 am before I fell asleep!)

The cat is also on the bed.

With non-sleeping boys.

And she's alive. In fact, she's asleep.

And neither boy is trying ti either pet her or chase her. How weird is that?

Thus the day begins...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Preparing for the storm

Hanna is headed our way, so I've been battening down hatches and putting away lawn furniture. It should be a lot less than Isabel, but 40mph winds are not a pretty thing around here. Well, the city ain't made for it.

JoeyAndyDad is on his way to Texas (I hope the plane is taking off as I type with him safely aboard it). I hate planes. I'll be praying hard until I see him again on Sunday.

This may be a heavy-posting weekend. Or a non-posting weekend. I have no idea which.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Kids like talismans- small objects to hold for security. Joey and Andy are no exception. Andy has blankie, which must be with him whenever he is upset or getting ready to sleep. The only place blankie goes out of the house is the beach; otherwise, it lives here, lest it be lost and disaster ensue.

Joey has sort of daily favorites, sometimes weekly favorites. Cars are popular. School buses seem to be a great favorite. Blocks work very nicely. The blue plastic elephant from the beach is this week's talisman.

These talismans are security for my kids. It is such a small thing, to save a lot of headache.

For some reason, there is a campaign among adults, including some of the teachers and therapists at Joey's school, to eliminate the need for a talisman. They think nothing to chiding children for having one, taking it away, telling them t put it in their cubby or their locker or their bookbag for the day.

How much more focus and work they could get if that talisman remained in the hand!

Whenever we go out to stores, restaurants, even the park, that talisman give Joey that little bit of solid support, that little bit of fidget, that little bit of what he needs to cope. The reason given for taking these items is that the kids might get teased.

Somehow I think a meltdown would be far more distracting and a target for teasing than a matchbox car.

But that's just me, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Beach Trip: Part Four

In which we visit Marty's Playland.

On March 30, 2008, the Ocean City Boardwalk was ablaze: specifically, the Dough Roller, next to one of our favorite points, Marty's Playland. We had not been able to gather much information about the extent of the damage, and so with some trepidation, we approached the restored arcade on Day Three. Well, actually, JoeyAndyDad and I scoped it out on the evening of Day Two, while the little ones slept. We wanted to check out the SkeeBall and the ten-cent cranes and be prepared. For those of you similarly worried, it looks like Marty's lost a SkeeBall or two, but the others are up, running, and looking lovely. The cranes have been moved again, it looks like the floor had some damage that is still being repaired, but the are there and working, too.

So we started our Marty's adventure, and the boys right away discovered a new horse-riding game. Its kind of a combo of a ride and a game. We had to help, but they really liked it.

Then we made our way to the SkeeBall, and worked on bowling. Joey got good enough to win tickets- he even bowled a 150! Joey really liked playing. Andy was more interested in games that made more beeps and had more flashy lights. He was pretty good at one that raced little cars on a track, and he was not too bad at iguana game.

My favorite- and my mom's- is, of course, the ten-cent cranes. We don't have pics this year of the cranes. See, one of the things to be won this year were those little plastic crystal-looking animals, and one was a blue elephant. Joey had one earlier in the year as a prize, and of course it broke, and seeing one in the machine was very exciting. So he and Grandma went to work to try to "win" it.

Now, folks, the ten-cent cranes are antiques. As antiques, they often have trouble. Sometimes, you put your dime in, and they don't work just right. It's just part of playing the cranes.

But for Joey, when he puts his dime in, he expects the crane to work. Perfectly. So he was getting a little frustrated that the crane wasn't picking up the elephant like he thought it ought to. He'd get close, and move it around, and even grab stuff (he got lots of little toys!), but it just didn't get that elephant.

And then it happened.

He put the dime in, and the crane got stuck. It wouldn't go at all, because it got hung up on itself. Grandma called for help from the maintenance folks (who naturally hang out around the antique games), but it was too late. The noise of the arcade. The frustration with the machine. The lights, the people, the elephant not being caught. He started to scream, and I turned from what I was doing- which was mostly organizing tickets that the guys had won- and reached out to hug him to calm him, but I reached too late. I missed him as he whipped around a corner of the machines. Two steps behind, I whipped around the corner, too.

No Joey.

Marty's is something of a labyrinth of arcade games of all kinds. It is kind of two big rooms, but divided by games and cases into a maze of smaller areas. Fabulous if you like the crunch of an arcade. Pure hell if your child has just disappeared in teh crowd, despite wearing a bright orange shirt and screaming his head off.

Gone. He was gone.

I followed what I thought was the most obvious path, around the games back to where Grandma was standing, unaware that I did not have him. The sheer panic on my face must have spoken a thousand screams. We began scouring the arcade. I ran quickly through the little maze of rooms, familiar to me from childhood for the most part (and to my mom from her childhood), but there was no sign of him. He was gone. Maybe he had gone to look for Daddy?

But no, here was Daddy with Andy in hand. Seeing us panic, not knowing what happened, JoeyAndyDad had instinctively (and intelligently) grabbed Andy's hand, so we only had one to look for. Grandma and I headed to the Skeeball. Maybe he had gone there... or continued right out the door, maybe trying to get to the car? Or to his beloved and comforting beach? Was he lost in the crowds on the boardwalk? Was he lost in the arcade? Either possibility would be terrifying for him. (I was reminded later of the possibility of someone taking him. Fortunately, my brain didn't explode.)

No Joey at the Skeeball. No Joey to be seen anywhere outside. Grandma took up station at the doors, to watch for him, and I think JoeyAndyDad stayed at the Skeeball with Andy to watch for him, and I plunged back into the dark hub-bub of the arcade.

Retrace the steps. Go back to the cranes. I headed back to the back of the arcade, where the cranes are set up next to teh prize/ticket redemption counter. And...

There he was, right next to the crane!

He was pretty upset. A very nice lady saw me, and told me she was about to get someone to announce over the loudspeaker that there was a lost child (she had tried to talk to Joey to calm him down, but discovered that was not an easy task- when upset, Joey often speaks what would be perceived by others to be nonsense). I hugged my little guy tight and got him out of there.

Dad took the guys for another round of rides, but Joey was perseverating on the blue elephant, so Grandma and I feverishly plugged dimes into machines until we got one. Actually, I ended up with two, but that's a good thing, as these little toys break easily.

We came back the next day- our last morning at Ocean City- to play the air hockey. The boys were very into it. I think when Joey ran, that's where he went- it is a very dark corner of the arcade, so that the lights of the hockey tables show up. Until very recently, the idea of Joey running towards dark would be ridiculous, but with the glow of the lights, the corner may have seemed a good idea to him. Or a blind run into the dark. Either way, it is the one corner of the arcade where I probably would not have been able to spot him.

The boys thought the air hockey was great fun. Everybody was much calmer. Joey clutched his beloved blue elephant for the rest of the trip.

I think I'll put the other one on the Christmas Tree for good luck.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School: First Grade

We take a break from our vacation stories to note that today, I am the Mother of a First-Grader. Joey got up, dressed, packed with breakfast (yogurt and sugar-free snack cake), lunch he made himself (ham and cheese roll-up with grapes and broccoli), and snack (sugar-free Capri Sun water thing and sugar-free Jell-o). Oh, and some cash for milk. I think I did OK. Now I can feed him a snack when I pick him up for speech therapy, and a nice dinner, and not worry that I am over-feeding him.

We are going to be doing some experimenting with his placement this year, putting him in a "regular" reading group, and then later in a math group. So he'll have three teachers this year- actually 4, because the inclusion room has two teachers, a regular ed and a special ed.

I miss him already.

Beach Trip: Part Three

Assateague Adventure!

We had our first boatride! We chose the Assateague Adventure, which includes a landing on Assateague Island halfway through. The boys were so excited! They were very patient waiting for the boat to head out to sea.

Joey and Andy liked looking out and watching the water slip by, and the houses and boats in the harbor. Joey liked the patterns the water made as the boat slipped through it. We also passed the Duckaneer, a boat that looked like a pirate ship. Maybe we'll go on that adventure next year!

Andy also liked to show his brother stuff, like the ponies on Assateague, and some of the big boats. He also liked exploring some of the tanks on the boat- with horseshoe crabs and urchins in them! Fortunately, once the boat got going, the boys didn't have to stay seated, they could walk around the boat. Andy would have gone crazy.

My handsome boy sure liked being on the boat, even if it made him a little sleepy. It was also a little chilly, but we did OK in our long clothes. Some of the other folks on the trip looked cold.

We toured the Ocean City harbor before heading out to the island, so we got to see the big fishing boats and trawlers. The guide pointed out boats for fishing, clamming, and even collecting whelks. Andy got to show a whelk shell to the rest of the passengers on the way home.

The boat landed at Assateague, and we disembarked with nets to catch stuff in the water and check out what we found. Everything had to be left behind, though. Andy was eager to get out there and start looking!

We had to take off our shoes to keep the sand off the boat. When we came back, they hosed everybody off and checked to be sure everything we found was left behind. They let a couple of kids take some shells, but all the seaweed and sand had to stay put.

The boys wandered along the edges of the island looking for stuff to net. We rolled up the pants and got busy searching for cool stuff!

Some of the other passengers went into areas marked "closed for preservation of endangered species", which we didn't appreciate. We stuck to the shore, off the grasses and mudflats. Assateague is a barrier island, so it is constantly changing.

We got to see some of the ponies and some herons, but not the deer we saw last time. that's OK. We'll be back!

Joey found a few shells, including a spider crab shell and some clam shells. On the boat, he also got to touch an urchin, a starfish, and a horseshoe crab!

Andy's great finds included several kinds of seaweed and clam shells. This red piece was his favorite, but we also found some brown stuff, and some bright green kelp, and some seagrass (which the crabs need to breed!)

We made sure to carefully put everything back in the water that we found in the water. Andy wanted to keep his red seaweed, but we talked about how seaweeds help feed other animals, and he put that back, too. But I made sure to get a photo of it for him (which made him a lot happier about putting it back.)

Then we wandered back to the boat, and to the beach. We looked at all sorts of cool things on the boat, too. I think the boys really liked the Assateague Adventure, which was pretty cool for a first boat trip!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Beach Trip: Part Two

Our adventures continued at Trimper's Rides. Everything started out normal: Joey on the Whip, whipping it up, and Andy at the fishing pond, catching sharks and winning prizes, with nary a sidelong glance at the rides.
Then things started getting into gear. Andy got on a little train ride, one of those small things like you find outside grocery stores or in malls. He did OK. Then he got on the ride with the cars that light up. We were ecstatic! Wow! He rode like a champ! then he got on the ride with the bigger fire engine while his brother went outside.

Meanwhile, Joey discovered he was too tall to ride his favorite motorcycle ride. He was upset, and is still repeating, "I'm too tall! I'm too tall!" However, he discovered he was tall enough for Big Boy rides! He got on a boat that swung all around (I would have loved it when I was young... but now it looked a little dizzying), and the Himalaya (one of those rides that goes around with up-and-downs, and then goes... eeps.. backwards!), as well as some of the middling rides, like the smaller roller coaster.

Joey likes rides a lot. He was sad about not being able to get on teh little rides, but the big rides were no small consolation!

Andy is in that in-between size- he can ride the little rides, and those "middling" rides! So he got on the bumper boats and the airplanes. He loved the boats. They didn't look like much fun to me- he kinda just floated around- but he loved them!

Grandma even got in on the ride action! I think she tried to get on the Himalaya with Joey when she realized he got on it, but didn't manage it. She came and got me instead (and I would have liked to have seem photos of my face about every five minutes this whole afternoon. 'Andy's on a RIDE!' then 'Joey's on the WHAT????') She did manage to get on the Mixer!

The boys had a really great afternoon. Trimper's is always a treat- on the carousel, on the Whip, or just wandering around looking at the great paintings and happy faces. Andy and I even won a couple of real games- we pounded a frog into a lilypad for a big prize, and we picked up ducks, and we shot water guns!

And Holy Frijoles, he got on a ROLLER COASTER!!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beach Trip: Part One

Ah, the Beach. The Surf. The Sand. The backs of my children's heads.

My boys are never happier than when they are at the beach. Even Andy got into the surf this year! Joey could spend the rest of his life in the surf, and he'd be in heaven.
We got there and got right down to business. We got them into their swimtrunks and got them on the sand. The next morning we started there, too. The boys were in love at the first crash of the waves. Joey liked watching the waves and running through the water.

Andy even let the waves crash and pull on him! We had to go in when he got cold, but he spent a good long time in the water, which was a first! He didn't even mind when he got knocked over the first day, when the waves were a little stronger. He was a very happy boy in the ocean!

They both got into belly-flopping on the sand! What fun!

When we left, the boys kept saying we were going to wrong way. Joey calls Ocean City "Joey's Beach" and the hotel "Joey's House." When we win the lottery, I'm getting a beach house!