Do I Have to Know How To Play DVDs in Order to Make Them?

So here’s some irony for you. I make DVDs for a living. Well, I guess for that to be true I’d actually have to make enough money off of it to live. Or at least to be in the black. But I do produce DVDs. If only, apparently, as a really expensive and stressful hobby. The irony? I can’t make a DVD player in my house last longer than six months.

Like five years ago I gave my sister her very first DVD player. And she still has it and it still works. Since that time, I can’t even count the number of DVD players I’ve gone through.

Some of them flat out stop working altogether.

Some of them play some discs perfectly while they refuse to even load others.

And the newest one? The one we bought about two months ago? It plays the discs perfectly, but it won’t play the sound.

I have hope for this one. I think that mayhap we accidently hit a key combination that turns off the sound. Although why a DVD player would have this option is beyond me. Or maybe we had a cable come loose.

Regardless, we have tremendously bad luck with the stupid things.

I did, however, have tremendously good luck at a shoot I did today for a workout video I’m putting together. In June I originally shot some tape for these lovely women, only to find out that I had an inadequate microphone, a bit of bad luck, and some resultingly unusable audio. So today we re-shot. (Who are the nicest clients in the world? The Fit and Fun Fitness Twins!)

This time I had a kick-ass microphone, better luck, and though I haven’t looked at the footage yet, I’m thinking it’s going to be great. I did have one panicky moment when Alex, who was my assistant for the day, noticed that one of the lights was buzzing. Thank God he noticed, because frankly I might have killed myself if I’d come out of the day with more bad audio.

We smartly decided NOT to just forge ahead with crossed fingers, and instead tried unscrewing a couple of light bulbs to see what happened. And what happened was success. The buzzing went away, our light was still great, and our audio seems clean. I’ll be importing my footage onto my computer tomorrow.

Keep those fingers (and toes) crossed for me that I have better luck with my DVD production than my DVD players.

You Just Never Know What’s Going on in There…

Jack and Quinn and I went on a field trip to an apple orchard today.

Much fun, sweat, and apples was had.

When we were on the hay straw ride to go pick apples, I noticed Jack had a GIANT smile on his face as he gazed at the tractor pulling us. I assumed it was because of the ride, the tractor, the farm, the pond we were passing, any of a number of wholesome, outdoorsy things.

I leaned down and asked, “What are you thinking about?”

To which he replied: “Tom and Jerry.”

DCMM: Devastating

I went to a lecture on social challenges tonight. It was for parents of kids enrolled in the county special ed preschools and it seemed like it might be worthwhile, so I went. And it was worthwhile. I learned some strategies and games I’m going to start using with my developmentally delayed 3-year-old, Jack. But the thing that really got me thinking was my post-lecture interaction with one of the moms from Jack’s class.

Within five minutes of meeting her she was telling me intimate details about her child and her feelings about autism. She used words and phrases such as “cure” and “recovered from.” She told me she hadn’t spoken to a close friend of hers for two years after her friend suggested her son might be autistic. And this got me thinking about the different ways parents look at autism.

I recently picked up a People magazine with a cover story about Jenny McCarthy and her autistic son. Part of the cover’s tagline was: “the star describes Evan’s devasting diagnosis…” All of this made me wonder: Am I wrong not to be more upset by my son’s probable autism diagnosis?

Don’t get me wrong, autism can be a very scary word. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be devastated by such a diagnosis. In fact, when Sam, my oldest, was young he used to line trains up obsessively. And he would layer them in his toy dump truck and rant and rage when one wouldn’t fit right. And I was terrified that he might be autistic. All I’d ever heard was horror stories about autism.

Fast forward three or so years to when we made Jack’s first appointment to see a developmental specialist. I distinctly remember my sister’s blunt question: “For autism?” In my mind, autism was there. It was a big, looming cloud in my imagination, but still her words hit me like a slap. I’m sure she has no recollection of this conversation, and I honestly bear her no ill will. She’s a med student and I think she was looking at it as a medical situation. For me, it was my child. My small, vulnerable child. And at the time I don’t think I had accepted the fact that he might be autistic.

But then I watched him with other kids. Or, rather, not with other kids. And I read about autism. And I talked to his doctors. And I talked to specialists that I hired to observe him in school. And although he still hasn’t been diagnosed, his doctor agrees with me that he is probably on the spectrum. And when it became real for me, when I understood that I have an autistic child, my reaction was not, “Oh my God, what am I going to do now?” It was, “Aha! So much makes sense.”

I’m not looking for a cure for my son. I don’t need him to recover from his autism. I do need him to learn how to work with it. I need to help him develop skills to compensate for those that don’t come naturally to him. I do need him to know that I love him more than he could possibly imagine, just as he is. His autism, his “quirks,” are a big part of what makes him the amazing, wonderful, sweet boy that he is. And I am so proud of who he is.

I don’t begrudge devastation in others. And I don’t mean to imply that I have it more together than anyone else. I don’t. And I’m sure there will be many devastating moments in Jack’s life. But there have been in mine also. And yours. And we all learn to work with what we have.

I just wish that the word “autism” didn’t carry so much fear. I wish that other mothers entering this world didn’t have to be so scared.

I think there needs to be more voices out there saying that autism is not the end of the world. It can make it harder, and there are things to be compensated for, but autistic children (and adults) are valuable, vibrant, exciting members of our world. In my mind, an autism diagnosis for my son doesn’t signify a dead end, but rather the beginning of a different path.

Jean rambles on and on about the beginning of her son’s special ed journey at Stimeyland.

Devastating

I went to a lecture on social challenges tonight. It was for parents of kids enrolled in the county special ed preschools and it seemed like it might be worthwhile, so I went. And it was worthwhile. I learned some strategies and games I’m going to start using with Jack. But the thing that really got me thinking was my post-lecture interaction with one of the moms from Jack’s class.

Within five minutes of meeting her she was telling me intimate details about her child and her feelings about autism. She used words and phrases such as “cure” and “recovered from.” She told me she hadn’t spoken to a close friend of hers for two years after her friend suggested her son might be autistic. And this got me thinking about the different ways parents look at autism.

I recently picked up a People magazine with a cover story about Jenny McCarthy and her autistic son. Part of the cover’s tagline was: “the star describes Evan’s devastating diagnosis…” All of this made me wonder: Am I wrong not to be more upset by my son’s probable autism diagnosis?

Don’t get me wrong, autism can be a very scary word. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be devastated by such a diagnosis. In fact, when Sam, my oldest, was young he used to line trains up obsessively. And he would layer them in his toy dump truck and rant and rage when one wouldn’t fit right. And I was terrified that he might be autistic. All I’d ever heard was horror stories about autism.

Fast forward three or so years to when we made Jack’s first appointment to see a developmental specialist. I distinctly remember my sister’s blunt question: “For autism?” In my mind, autism was there. It was a big, looming cloud in my imagination, but still her words hit me like a slap. I’m sure she has no recollection of this conversation, and I honestly bear her no ill will. She’s a med student and I think she was looking at it as a medical situation. For me, it was my child. My small, vulnerable child. And at the time I don’t think I had accepted the fact that he might be autistic.

But then I watched him with other kids. Or, rather, not with other kids. And I read about autism. And I talked to his doctors. And I talked to specialists that I hired to observe him in school. And although he still hasn’t been diagnosed, his doctor agrees with me that he is probably on the spectrum. And when it became real for me, when I understood that I have an autistic child, my reaction was not, “Oh my God, what am I going to do now?” It was, “Aha! So much makes sense.”

I’m not looking for a cure for my son. I don’t need him to recover from his autism. I do need him to learn how to work with it. I need to help him develop skills to compensate for those that don’t come naturally to him. I do need him to know that I love him more than he could possibly imagine, just as he is. His autism, his “quirks,” are a big part of what makes him the amazing, wonderful, sweet boy that he is. And I am so proud of who he is.

I don’t begrudge devastation in others. And I don’t mean to imply that I have it more together than anyone else. I don’t. And I’m sure there will be many devastating moments in Jack’s life. But there have been in mine also. And yours. And we all learn to work with what we have.

I just wish that the word “autism” didn’t carry so much fear. I wish that other mothers entering this world didn’t have to be so scared.

I think there needs to be more voices out there saying that autism is not the end of the world. It can make it harder, and there are things to be compensated for, but autistic children (and adults) are valuable, vibrant, exciting members of our world. In my mind, an autism diagnosis for my son doesn’t signify a dead end, but rather the beginning of a different path.

This is cross-posted at DC Metro Moms Blog.

Update

Because I haven’t been able to keep you current on the minutiae of life in Stimeyland lately, I’ve decided to publish this highly entertaining and informative update. (Why are you smirking?)

Without further ado…

Amazing things that have happened in Stimeyland lately:

1. Jack welcomed a child into our house with the child’s name. Highly uncommon. Then he looked the kid in the face and said, “Do you want to play hide and seek?” Unheard of. And so Jack, the kid, and Sam and Quinn all played a giddy, satisfying game of hide and seek.

2. Quinn has started napping again. But he’s incredibly discriminating in deciding where he sleeps.


3. My computer was able to recover from this:


And that’s when the screen was still legible enough to type panicky emails to my boss. It deteriorated from there.

4. Jack, heretofore resistant to so much as touching a crayon, sat down the other day after asserting, “I want to draw an apple tree. And, by God, the boy drew an apple tree:


This may not seem like a big deal to you if you have a non-delayed four-year-old, but I almost baked him a cake for doing this. He put stems on the apples, see? And he wrote (!!) “5-4-3-2-1-0.” And see that “1”? That’s not just a line; he made a fancy one. Who is this kid, and why does he look so much like Jack?

5. Sam entered and then concluded a prolific “Teddy Bear Phase” of his art. This phase culminated in a series of “Teddy Bear in Forest” drawings created after coming home from school the day they held a Teddy Bear Picnic.


(If I may refer back to amazing item number 4, please notice how intense Jack’s concentration is. LOOOOOVE it!)

6. I organized my work space:


See those two white sets of drawers? They’ve changed my life. Do you see the giant pile of crap on the desk? You don’t? That’s because it’s all neatly organized in my new drawers. Ha ha!

7. I somehow ended up living with this incredible group of guys:

I’m a C Student

Actually a C- student. Don’t tell my mom.

There are all kinds of quizzes out there on the internet that you can take to find out how geeky you are or what book you most resemble, etc. etc. etc. But I just followed this link to here where you can take a quiz that will actually make you think.

I got 70% of the answers right. I guess I’m not as smart as I thought I was. Alex is going to kick my ass on this one.

EDITED TO ADD: Alex scored 96.67%. He only missed two of the answers. I am married to a total civics nerd.

Praise Steve Jobs, I’m Back!

I’m back!

As you may have heard (read), my trusty (???) Mac let me down last week. After four wonderful years together, my video card departed for the great video-card graveyard at the dump. That was Sunday night. It is now Saturday mornin afternoon (how did that happen so fast?) and I’m just now re-entering the world of the computer.

Thank God!

My week-long forced withdrawal from the computer was tough. Not only do I blog (and am, it turns out, highly addicted to reading about all of your lives), but I have two jobs that I am physically incapable of doing without my computer. I also am on the board of my kids’ preschool and need my computer to do that job.

And don’t even get me started on email, which is apparently my primary form of communication.

Don’t freak out, but I actually had to use my telephone to pass on a message to someone the other day. The. Telephone. I mean really. Are we living in the 1800s here?

When I dropped off my computer at the Apple store on Monday afternoon they told me it would take one to five days. Always hopeful, I waited patiently. For a day and a half. Then I started to panic.

I had deadlines looming. (Even now, as I write, I’m scanning photos for a DVD slideshow I am creating for a client.) My supervisor took to calling me periodically to see if my computer was back. I could feel my emails piling up. I could sense that all of you had continued living your lives (incredible, I know) without me knowing what was going on with you. My mom kept harassing me to post here.

Meanwhile the big, soulless blank, black eye of my monitor mocked me from its cozy spot on the desk. “I’m here, but I’m not here,” it said to me, as I longingly stared at the button in its face that usually powers up my Mac.

And the worst part? Now that I had all of this free time in the evening because I was computerless, my husband had to work late almost every night last week. So I had to sit at home alone and watch bad end-of-summer TV. I was reduced to watching The Singing Bee one night, for Christ’s sake. I did get some time to read though. That was nice.

And you know what? The Apple store doesn’t answer their phone. I called at least twice a day for three days before I finally got someone to answer my call. (Bastards.) And then my computer wasn’t ready. (Double-bastards.) Then I got the magical call that I could pick it up Saturday morning. (Best friends.) I was never so happy to fork over so much money for a big metal box.

Then I got it home and started plugging stuff in to the back of it when I noticed that they hadn’t returned the power cord I’d left with the computer. (Super, triple, %&@!* bastards.) See, I don’t know if you’re as versed in computer engineering as I am, but the power cord is an essential component. Arguably the most important component.

So, back to the Apple store. And even though they couldn’t find my cord and they claim that they don’t take power cords with repairs (They did. I swear they did.), they gave me a brand new free power cord. And that’s why I &#9829 Apple.

So, my To Do List:
1. Read my emails (All 181 of ‘em.)
2. Read my work emails (All 4 Outlook pages of ‘em.)
3. Ignore those emails.
4. Weep hysterically at the sheer amount of work I have ahead of me. (I think I’ll learn to hate my computer in the next couple of days. Ironic, eh?)
5. Check Toddler Planet to see how WhyMommy is doing. (All seems well.)
6. Write self-indulgent blog post about how I missed my plugged-in life.
7. Curse my plugged-in life as I set off to work.

You may not see me for a couple more days as I try to keep from getting fired.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m addicted to you.