T has become obsessive about getting Incredible Hulk plush toys from the crane machines in Wal-Mart foyers. He generally has an adult manipulate the crane for him, but he has of late insisted on having a go or two at it himself, which is good for his hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills. The quest became personal for DW and I this past Saturday. We became obsessed as we tried to pull an Incredible Hulk away from the glass on the back of the machine, grab ahold of it, move it, and drop it down the chute. T stood beside the machine, jumping up and down and shouting “green! green! green!” and yelling in agony whenever DW had to go into the store to get change for another go-around. A couple of people looked around the corner into the machine nook to make sure I wasn’t abusing my kid. We moved the Incredible Hulk so that his head was lying on the edge of the chute, and T became increasingly excited and agitated. DW finally got the toy on the hook and over the chute-- and then it didn’t drop! She had to insert another quarter and push the button immediately, and the Incredible Hulk was T’s. He opened up the baby seat on the Wal-Mart cart and placed the toy there, for a ride through the store. Victory! A celebrated his 10th birthday on Monday, and he had a very happy time at home. We decided to put up our Christmas tree early this year and create a season for the kids, to compensate for the fact that Christmas Day sucks out loud for them because nothing is open. Alas, I didn’t get the star up on the tree by the time A got home on Sunday, so I took him to look at the one true star in most North American households this time of year. A also has a thing for the machines in the Wal-Mart foyer, but he likes to have me read individual letters from the logos. I mimic a mechanical voice as I say “c-o-k-e” and so on. I’m hoping that A may develop enough of an understanding that letters form words and words are powerful that he may learn to read, even if he remains without speech. We had an odd mens’ room experience on the way back to Alexandria yesterday. I took A into the bathroom at a Wal-Mart, where he generally uses a toilet stall. Both of the stalls in this mens’ room were in use, so I made A stand next to me and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, I had to take him over to use a urinal, and I changed his pull-up while he stood there (he has a bowel control issue, and it can injure his dignity to be seen wearing pull-ups, which we only use while traveling, so I wasn't happy about changing him in the middle of the mens' room). I wanted to tell the guys in the stall that they should do like everybody else and go log on the Internet if they wanted to spank the monkey, but that this was a most inappropriate venue for that activity. I mean, who takes that long to go, you know?