Sunday, March 30, 2008

Potty Training: Quinn Style (A Pictorial)

Potty training seems to be all the rage these days.

All the cool kids are doing it.

Even though I'm not entirely interested in spending my days cleaning pee out of my carpets, reading Everybody Poops on a loop while I sit in the bathroom with my toddler, and clapping every time he sits on his potty, Quinn is exhibiting all the signs of readiness.

The most obvious one being his steadfast determination to wear underpants rather than diapers at all times and his announcements that he wants to pee in the potty. It's hard to misinterpret that.

So in the interest of showing lazy parents everywhere how to potty train their children waaaaaay after they're ready, I present Quinn's Tutorial on Peeing in the Potty:

Get your mom's attention by stridently shrieking about underpants all day long. Extra points if you let her get your Finding Nemo underpants halfway on before you start screaming for "Thomas the Tank Engine! Thomas the Tank Engine!"

Sit on the potty. 'Nuff said.

Absorb propaganda. How big exactly do you have to be to be too big for diapers? After your mom reads you the desired number of books, then—and only then—should you pee.

No one wants to leave their old pee sitting around, so next you should remove the pee-catching receptacle.

Where to put it? Where to put it? Aha! Pour it in the toilet!

In the spirit of, "No! Me! No! Me! I wanna do it!" put water from the bathroom sink in the empty pee receptacle...

...and pour that in the toilet as well.

Everybody says this is the fun part, and although it seems incredibly wasteful to flush an entire toilet for a tablespoon of pee, go ahead and flush.

Astound your mother by actually putting something back where it belongs.

Spend the rest of the afternoon trying to put on your underpants.

Demand M&Ms for the oh-so-strenuous task of peeing in a cup. Insist on only yellow and orange candy.

Display an increasingly hostile and demanding side of yourself if your mom doesn't give you enough M&Ms, or if—God forbid!—she eats one herself. Demand that she regurgitate it and give it back to you.

Steadfastly refuse to poop anywhere other than your diaper, or occasionally your underpants, thereby dashing your mother's hopes of stress-free potty training.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Not To Run Bedtime.

Sam was pretty much devastated yesterday when his sleepover was canceled. There was some sobbing and lamenting and some rending of garments. In a desperate attempt to placate the little guy, I offered up a sleepover in Quinn's room.

So shortly before 7:30 p.m., Jack and Sam packed up their stuff and crossed the hall to visit Quinn.

Quinn was not pleased about the location of the sleepover. He wanted to be a guest rather than a host. When Sam and Jack brought piles of blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags into his room, Quinn tried to escape to Sam and Jack's room.

Poor little guy was unsuccessful.

Sam offered to read the good night story. So after bath, they all piled onto Quinn's tiny bed and Sam started reading. 24 minutes later, they were still reading. At one point, I heard Sam say, "All right, Quinn, pick a book by yourself. Or if you'd like, Jack can choose. Jack and Quinn, you go together. [Pause.] All right. We can do both of them."

I love that he can read now. I am so proud of him.

At 8 p.m., the door practically bulged outward under the weight of their combined yearning to leave the room: Quinn in search of trains, Sam looking for water, and Jack, who just wanted to lie on the cat.

At 8:15 I had to release them out of Quinn's room and let them go to Sam & Jack's room. Quinn wandered—crying loudly—into his big brothers' room.

At 8:40 I had to remove Quinn from the refrigerator where he was searching for orange juice and put him in his own room all by himself. Sam was disappointed at the disintegration of the sleepover, but I was happier.

And isn't that what really matters?

At 8:46 Quinn was asleep. Jack and Sam followed suit shortly thereafter.

Really, it was a lot easier than a real sleepover would have been.

Spring Quiet: Day Whatever

I've lost count. I think it might be Thursday.

We ended up with nothing to do today. I'd originally planned a park playdate this morning, followed by a sleepover tonight.

And then it rained. And the sleepover kid spiked a fever. And we ended up with nothing to do.

See how weirdly (and I emphasize weirdly) quiet it was:

I didn't pose him like that. I was ambling through the living room this morning and he was just sitting there like that. What do you think he was doing?

All things considered though, we ended up doing pretty well over spring break.

(Famous last words. Tomorrow someone will jump off the roof or something.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Greatest Accomplishment in the History of Humankind

Jack nibbled a green bean today.

Repeat: Jack(!) nibbled a green bean(!) today.

He ate about this much:

But my child, who hasn't eaten a green vegetable for four years (true story), took an eensy bite of a green bean today.

(Sometimes it's the little victories.)

(Image credit obviously goes to "The Simpsons.")

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

Exactly one year ago today I started Stimeyland.

To celebrate one year of blogging I registered for BlogHer '08. Come hang out with me in San Francisco in July! (Early-bird registration ends on March 31.)

Thanks to all of you who have visited and read. Thanks to those of you who commented and those of you who just lurked. Thanks to you wonderful people who have given me advice, support, and friendship over the past year.

I'm so happy to have made your acquaintance!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Semi-Ill-Advised Exercise in Saving Some Cash

I have some guilt about an All About Me purchase I'm going to be making soon, so I've been trying to save money here and there.

When Alex suggests going out to dinner, I suggest taco night. When he suggests going to The Container Store to buy the elfa system for my kids' closet that my friend suggested, and which I totally want, I tell him we can wait awhile. When Alex suggests that we join a pool this summer, I talk him out of it. (This last one also has something to do with me not being able to handle my three kids at a pool. I like all of them and would hate to see anyone drown.)

There's also the $60 or so that I was going to drop at Cartoon Cuts today. I started thinking about whether I could cut hair at home and about how often two-thirds of my kids scream while we're there. And I was thinking about how we buzz-cut Jack and I really don't need to pay $20 to get that done. Plus, his hair isn't very long yet these days anyway.

Then I thought about this post and my comment on it:
We also go to Cartoon Cuts and pay a gazillion dollars for the haircuts. Although with three kids there's a quantity discount. (I can't believe I have enough kids to qualify for a quantity discount.)

My oldest LOVES the place (TV, lollipop! Although there was a brief period when they didn't give out lollipops and we had to troll the whole shopping center until we ended up at Buy Buy Baby where they sold candy.). My middle son likes it IF they are showing something other than Scooby Doo, Spongebob, or Thomas, all of which he is terrified of and which is all they had last time. After much screaming, they put on Dora for him.

My youngest? Screams no matter what. Yeah, we're that family.

We're going to have to go there sometime this week. Wish us luck. (And Dora.)

Fuck that!

I can cut hair at home. How hard can it be?*

My supplies:

Oh, I'm kidding. Here are my real supplies:

My victims:

Okay, let's recreate the Cartoon Cuts experience. TV is on. Lollipops are in the cupboard. Vacuum is at the ready. Here we go!

Snip. Snip. Snip... Oh, shit.

And the cowlicks. How could I forget about them? Sam has two. Okay. Bangs are (mostly) straight, if not a little shorter than intended. What to do with his incredibly thick, bushy hair?

How about a bunch of random, choppy cuts? I resist the urge to cut off the cowlick hair, realizing that if it is shorter it will just stick straight up. Maybe I should buzz cut Sam too.

What I really want to do is grow his hair out. It would be gorgeous. And easier, I think. I'm just not sure (a) how to get past the "awkward" stage and (b) how to convince Sam that guys with long hair are cool, especially guys with thick, bushy hair like his.

I give up. Here's the finished product:

Sam says he likes it and asks for a lollipop.

For Quinn, who is TERRIFIED of hair cutting, I give him his lollipop piece of chocolate ahead of time to distract him. I plan on mostly sticking to this guy's bangs.

Snip. Snip. Snip. Easy peasy:

Candy for a bribe: $1

Haircutting scissors: $7

Not having to rush my kids to a real hairstylist to fix my mistake: Priceless.


* Harder than you might think.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

DCMM: Secondary Uses For Pets

Anyone with a dog knows that they are wonderful creatures, full of love and devotion.

Anyone with a dog and a kid knows that dogs are wonderful creatures, full of the ability to pick up stray Cheerios from under high chairs and lick tiny hands clean of food.

As a person parent and a pet parent I have found numerous ways that our little furry, feathered, or scaled friends can live symbiotic lives with us. Here are some ways I use my two cats and a dog to further enrich my life:

I use my dog as a doorbell. If I'm waiting for someone to come over, I don't bother looking out the window. I don't strain my ears waiting to hear someone knock, and I surely don't worry if I'm in a part of my house from which I can't hear my doorbell. I just put my dog outside and listen for the quality of her barking. Short bursts of barking means that someone is walking by my house. Sustained, furious barking means that my playdate has arrived!

And after the playdate leaves, I just send the dog down to the basement to do cracker cleanup. Not only is she more prompt at cleaning up crumbs, she is also more thorough, what with her motivation to lick in tiny crevices and what not.

Both my dog and my cats remind me that I should mop my kitchen floor on a regular basis. They do this by leaving gentle "reminders" in the form of muddy paw prints and cat barf.

My cats teach my children about gentle touch and how you're likely to suffocate an animal if you lie on top of her for too long. They learn this lesson in short bursts of, "Get off the cat right now!!" and, "When she makes that noise it means she wants you to let go of her."

My pets teach my children responsibility. They learn that the dog needs to go out and then come back in. They've learned this because my husband and I are extremely lazy and will frequently tell one of our children, "Hey, go let the dog in."

My kids also learn delegating from this as well. My oldest has been known to pass the buck down the chain of command to my middle child, who will then trudge off to let the dog in.

Of course, we all know that the best way that pets enrich our lives is by being our companions and by granting us their unconditional love and attention. Although every once in a while I ruminate on how strange it is that we have decided to share our home with fuzzy creatures of another species, it only takes a good petting session to remind me that it was a good decision.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Visit Jean and her pets at Stimeyland.

Some Questions

1. Hmmmmm.... Is that bed sheet really bumpy?

2. How unpleasant do you think it might have gotten under there overnight if we hadn't taken the sheet off of them?

3. How much more could I love DC Blogs and Alltop's Mom Blog page? The first has recently spotlighted a couple of my posts, and the latter just added me to said Mom Blog page.

4. How close can a cat get to a space heater without bursting into flame?

5. I know it's cool that my kids want to listen to the Grateful Dead, but is it still cool when the six-year-old is spinning wildly singing, "Driving that train...high on cocaine"?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Truthiness, Mitigated by Good Hair

I'm sure many of you are aware of the truthiness project that's sweeping the blogosphere these days. I wasn't going to participate because, well...see for yourself:

I hadn't even gotten out of bed when I took that photo. That's some real honest motherfucking truthiness right there. (Although I did digitally remove my red-eye.)

I will now try to offset that photo by offering a more put together one:

I cheated on my hairstylist today with one recommended by KC. This isn't a great photo. It looks better in person. It looks really pretty in person. It looks, according to Alex, "less frazzled than before."

Spring Pandemonium: Day One

Because we don't do "breaks" at my house.

There was no easing into Spring Break for us today. We did get to laze around the house a little bit this morning. Tooth brushing was a little less rushed and Jack was able to sleep in for a few extra minutes.

Instead of being crammed into the car to rush to school at 8:30 a.m., the little dudes spent the morning playing outside. Quinn crapped out before Sam and Jack because it was still pretty cold, but they all had a good time in the fresh air. Sam climbed to the tippy top of one of our trees, they used a snow shovel to dig in the dirt, and they engaged in some suspicious activity waaaaaaay in the back of the yard.

See, don't they look weirdly calm? It made me nervous.

Turns out they were constructing a trap. For what I don't know. They needed a blueberry as bait. Oddly enough they found one in their crayon case. (I rule at housekeeping.) It remains to be seen if the trap was successful.

Then we had a playdate with WhyMommy. It was great fun and I was even able to send her home with some of my stuff.

After that, it was off to the "Far Mall," so named because it is farther away than the "Close Mall." Many things awaited us at the Far Mall: friends, pizza, the Easter Bunny, a train ride, and ice cream.

After falling into line with my friend who refuses to pay for photos with the Easter Bunny, I told the lady behind the counter that I wouldn't be buying a picture, instead I'd be using my camera. She mumbled something and wandered off.

"You never tell them that you're taking your own pictures," my savvier friend explained patiently to me.

Apparently you're supposed to pretend your kids just badly want to hug the Easter Bunny with no ulterior motive rather than acknowledge that they're sort of humoring you so you can have a picture of them with an oddly giant rabbit in a tattered suit and pink vest. Then you whip out your camera. Oops.

But it was so worth it, right?

True to form, Quinn did not want to get anywhere near the thing. This is him happily saying, "Okey dokey," when I told him that he didn't have to sit on the rabbit's lap:

Don't you think it's weird that he dresses up in strange plush costumes every single damn day, but he refuses to get near one of his own? (And in case you were wondering, Jack joined the crazy today by wearing a cape to the mall.)

The train was fun. Watching five kids ages one to six eat ice cream while two moms tried to keep it together was probably fun too. It was a little chaotic to be one of the moms, especially when two of your children decided that the best way to eat the ice cream was to take giant bites out of the bottom of the cone while there's still ice cream on top.

My family headed out to the parking lot while my friend and her kids hit a card shop. I can only imagine how that went. Chocolatey, hepped up on sugar, and near a bunch of knick knacks. God speed, my friend. God speed.

Whew. Full day, right? Oh, but that's not enough for Team Stimey. We've got to cram each and every day with as much crazy goodness as possible. So we colored easter eggs. With three kids it really only takes about five minutes to dye 15 easter eggs. The tantrum over some insignificant detail of the egg decorating took substantially longer.

And there you have it in a nutshell, or eggshell (ha, ha, ha) if you will. This is a pretty good microcosm of what the rest of my spring break is going to be like. Wish me God speed, my friends. Wish me God speed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Keepin' It Healthy

Last night out of the blue Sam asked if he could buy his lunch today instead of bringing it as usual. He has money in his account and it's easier for us, so sure!

Tonight Alex asked Sam what he had eaten for lunch. Turns out he ate "pizza, ice cream, a cookie, chocolate milk, and that's all."

He wants to buy his lunch again the next day he goes to school.

Hmmmm. I wonder why?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How Did This Happen?

I'm always saying, "How am I so busy? How did I become this person always racing around to a zillion playdates?"

I finally figured it out.

Let me give you an example:

I see spring break looming ahead with 11 days of no school. I start emailing people to set up playdates. All of the people whom I contact are also desperate to do something with their kids. Suddenly I have at least one playdate every single day, a potential sleepover, and I'm juggling how to drop kids off and pick them up while managing to entertain in my home.

All of the playdates are with people I want to see, but Jeez Louise, why do I do this to myself?

* If I have a playdate scheduled with YOU over Spring Break, rest assured that I'm not talking about you and your lovely children. And even if I am, I'd go insane if you left me alone with my kids all week. It's better this way. *

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


* School (for Jack and Quinn) was canceled yesterday because of a flooding problem in the church that houses our preschool. A suddenly long, empty day stretching ahead of us turned into a lovely morning, afternoon, and late afternoon of playdates.

* When the mom of my first playdate dropped her son off for Jack's ignoring pleasure, she brought me authentic, homemade Chinese dumplings. I just ate them for dinner. Yu-Um!

* I'm one of Vanessa Van Petten's 50 Best Mom Blogs! Me! Lil' ol' me!

* Even though parents of 2-year-olds (me) were required to attend today's field trip to the fire station at the very time that I was also required to be co-oping in Jack's class, and even though I had not put two and two together to equal "screwed," things worked out okay. The fire station called yesterday to tell our class that they would bring the fire trucks and firefighters to us, causing me to be released from half of my "need to be in two places at one time" obligation. Magical!

* Leprechauns ransacked Jack's classroom yesterday, leaving green painty footprints, overturned chairs, and a bowl of gold for the kids to find this morning. You should have seen Jack's giant smile.

* Although I'm going to have 11 days in a row with no school soon, it's not Spring Break yet!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best Husband Ever

We had a pretty good weekend. On Saturday we went to an egg hunt at Sam's karate studio and then Alex took Jack and Sam to see Horton Hears a Who. While they were gone, Quinn played in the basement playroom while I cleaned it.

On Sunday Jack, Sam, and I went to see "The Jungle Book" at the Glen Echo Puppet Theatre.

Here's a photo of Sam meeting one of the monkey puppets. That's Jack in the orange in the background meeting the snake puppet. Shortly after this photo was taken, he gave that snake a giant hug.

Here's where the best husband ever part comes in:

While I was gone, and after I returned, Alex cleaned the entire house. He picked up all the toys and assorted crap scattered around. He vacuumed. He did the dishes. He did all of the laundry and he folded it.

So tomorrow all I have to do is mop the kitchen floor.

He's a total rock star. Thanks, Alex!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Official: PDD-NOS

I started blogging slightly less than a year ago. Shortly after starting my personal blog, I started to suspect that my son Jack was autistic. Over the course of a few months, I came to steadfastly believe this.

Not everyone else did.

I heard from a lot of people. Teachers and therapists, people who evaluated him for the county, some of my friends and acquaintances who thought I was crazy. Many of these people didn't agree with me.

But I spent hours with him. I micro-analyzed his behavior. I did research and reading. I knew Jack was autistic. I became one of those people looking for a diagnosis. I was the mom who was not devastated, but rather relieved to finally start hearing people who agreed with me.

A couple of months ago we had Jack screened for a study on autism at the National Institute of Mental Health. I'm all for research, as long as it doesn't harm or adversely affect my child, so this was a natural. But perhaps more importantly, it got us a diagnosis.

We got the report last week in the mail. Amid six other pages was this: "Results of this evaluation...indicate that Jack meets current research criteria for a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)."

For those of you not familiar with the autism spectrum, PDD-NOS is on it. I finally got my vindication. Jack finally got his diagnosis. We finally have some ammunition to take to the school system when we have our next IEP and figure out our plan for his education.

Since last week, when my suspicions were confirmed, I have noticed a shift in my perception of Jack.

I have spent the past year or so looking at his deficiencies and his differences. I spent a year thinking, "That is an autistic behavior." I spent a year saying, "That is not a typical 4-year-old response to this situation."

I know my journey as his advocate does not end with a diagnosis. I'm aware that being "high functioning" will make it difficult for him to get services. While I know we may still have to fight for those services, I've started noticing some different things.

I've started looking at his new ability to tell me how he feels and to hold simple conversations. I've started thinking, "He's beginning to relate to other children." I've started saying, "He's making incredible strides in his behavior."

No longer do I see his advances and worry that they will stand in the way of his getting a diagnosis. I'm less worried that he will let these strengths show through when we're with doctors, muddying the waters of his autistic nature. I see these things as progress in his growth as a special and wonderful person.

It feels great to put that part of our battle behind us. Instead of pointing out his weaknesses, I feel better in pointing out his strengths and thinking about how to facilitate giving him more strength.

And I think that is a better way to be his advocate.

Originally a DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Friday, March 14, 2008

He's Coming Along

I don't get to hear a lot of silence when I'm driving in my car. Sam is always chattering away, and if he is at school? Well then Quinn talks my ear off.

I've gotten quite adept at the semi-listening/responding that many of us mothers are capable of. Answering yes when it seems appropriate, nodding and smiling while I'm really listening to NPR, and occasionally snapping to attention.

Today while driving home from Target, I was "mmmm hmmmm"-ing and "sure"-ing away when I realized: That's not Quinn babbling at me—that's Jack!

Jack, who doesn't make conversation just to make conversation, had been talking nonstop for several minutes:

"Let's play Wow Wow Wubbzy . I'll be Wubbzy."

"I don't like that building. We need a smaller building—a just-right building."

"A bird pooped on our car. We need to wash it off. This is the way to the car wash."

And he elaborated more on each point, complete with hand gestures.


That kid. He's coming along.


And then there is what happened after we got home. Usually Jack will play with his brothers. But it is usually at Sam's direction. Sam says what everyone should do and Jack and Quinn act as his little soldiers. When left to each other, Quinn and Jack usually engage in parallel play.

But today the two of them played with each other. One would say something and the other would respond. Quinn would say he needed a battery for his train and Jack would bring him a ball and say, "This can be our battery."

It was amazing to watch.

That kid. He's coming along.


Which reminds me of another thing. It may not surprise you to hear that Jack can be very particular about certain things. In the morning he only wants an orange vitamin. He only wants blue yogurt. When looking for an "N" in a pile of foam letters and presented with a sideways "Z", he is well aware that "That is not a N!"

But! He is developing an ability to get around this.

Recently Alex and I have been confronted with an "aha!" look from Jack and these statements:

"I can pretend it's an orange vitamin!"

"I can pretend it's blue yogurt!"

"I can pretend it's an N!"

Atta boy!

That kid. He's coming along.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Young Love

There is a girl, L, at Sam's school that he LOVES. He's always talking about her.

The first I heard of her was last week when he got off the bus very carefully holding a scrap of paper with her name and her phone number on it.

(Way to go, dude!)

The next day he brought home two more scraps of paper with other phone numbers on them. These were the numbers of other friends. I guess this is the new thing the kids are doing&#8212giving their phone numbers to each other.

Yesterday the phone rang and a voice said, "Is Sam there?"

Oooh, his first phone call. I put the phone on speaker and carried it to Sam. It was M, a friend that sits at Sam's table at school. They compared types and genders of siblings and then said goodbye. Oh. Cute.

At least I know that Sam knows his telephone number.

Today, because Jack was sick, my friend and neighbor picked Sam up from the bus stop, kept him for a playdate, and then walked him home. Thanks for sending him home with the backpack full of rocks, I mean, space boulders, by the way.

First thing after walking in, he asked if he could call L.

I coached Sam on how to politely ask for his friend and what to do if the answering machine picked up. "Please let them be cool. Please let them be cool," I thought to myself as I helped Sam dial the number. Then I put it on speaker.

The guy who answered sounded as amused as I felt when Sam asked for L.

When L got on the phone Sam was a little nonplussed as to what to say. I coached him a little bit and he repeated what I whispered into his ear into the phone. L sounded delighted that Sam had called. Sam broke from script long enough to tell L about his playdate.

Then L asked, "Why are you calling?"

Sam looked at me and shrugged.

I whispered, "Tell her you called to say hi."

Sam said, "I called to say hi"

There was a little more stilted conversation and then I told him, "Say goodbye."

He said, "Goodbye.

L said, "Goodbye."

And they hung up.

I suppose this is only the beginning. What am I going to do if when he insists on talking on the phone all day so that I can't?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Day on the Couch

I don't really have to rehash my love/hate affair with field trips, but I've gone on a bunch of field trips I didn't want to go on.

Today was payback. Today Jack's class was going on a field trip to the Great Harvest Bread Company. And I was excited.

I had a shopping list and everything: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, cinnamon swirl bread, spinach provolone bread.

But Jack wasn't feeling happy. I thought he was tired, so I was going to keep him home from his afternoon class, but we were going to the bread store. But on the way to drop Sam off at school, Jack made some very sad faces and started wimpering. So I made the decision to scrap the field trip too. Partly because if he was going to throw up, I didn't want it to be in the kitchen of a food establishment.

Quinn was disappointed when I told him we were going home instead of to the bread store. "No! Not home! The bread place!" he cried over and over. Mr. Stomach speaks.

I hear you, Littlest Man, I hear you. I'm sad too. I could almost taste that cinnamon bread.

When we got home, Jack went inside while I collected his blanket from the car. At first I couldn't find him. And then I saw him in the bathroom, kneeling in front of the toilet. Poor guy. He didn't really have to throw up so I put him on the couch.

He responded by saying, "I'll sadly sleep here." (Oh, my God, the sad.) He also claimed that a bag of ice would make him feel better, and who am I to argue?

Once I turned on the TV, Quinn got over his disappointment.

Jack perked up a little too when he saw he was going to get to watch The Jungle Book. He immediately started singing The Bear Necessesities.

And my lovely friend H brought Jack (and by "Jack," I mean "me") a loaf of bread from the field trip. Yay me!

Later that afternoon before his assertion that "Cheetos make me better," Jack and I had a lovely exchange:

Jack: "I am blue."

Me: "Because you're sad?"

Jack: "Yes. I need a hand."

Me: "Do you need a hug?"

Jack: "No, just a hand."

So I moved over to him and held his hand. And he put on his "this is the smile I use to show people I'm happy" smile.


I thought he was feeling better in the afternoon before I realized that in fact he was just responding to the medicine I'd given him.

So tomorrow, my morning off with no kids, I'll have Mr. Sicky Sickerson.

But it's okay. Because we'll have lots of time to cuddle.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DCMM: What a Difference a Week Makes

Life sure is different if people aren't coming over to your house.

Last week I hosted one playgroup, one playdate, and a potluck dinner at my house.

This week I don't have any plans to have anyone over. This is rare at my overscheduled house, and it feels awesome.

And it sure changes the way I'm looking at my week.

My kitchen floor? It's filthy. But I'm not going to wash it today. Last week I mopped twice before Thursday.

My basement playroom? Every toy is out on the floor. Last week it was pristine by Wednesday afternoon. I don't think it will be this week.

The inflatable ball pit I have in my basement was the victim of a diaper non-containment disaster last Thursday. If this had happened early last week, you would have found me in the basement studiously cleaning 500 balls. This week, with no one but my own kids to keep out of the thing? It can wait. (Don't get horrid images in your head. It's not as bad as it sounds. But it seems like a good idea to sanitize it thoroughly in the next few days. No rush though.)

My kids' rooms? I had to pull the sheets off the top bunk of the bunk beds because of a middle of the night accident. If kids were coming over, I'd have to make sure it was re-sheeted and ready for crawling all over (and hiding from parents on). With no one coming over? I might just make everyone sleep on the bottom bunk and save the making of the bed for tomorrow.

Last week I pulled out my ailing vacuum and braved its "clankity, clankity, grrrrrr" sounds to make sure there weren't hairballs all over my carpets. This week I'm going to clean the thing and check it over so it hopefully won't make that horrid noise anymore. Maybe I'll do that Wednesday. The floors can wait until then.

My tables are covered in dust, but—let's be honest—they were covered in dust last week too. You can't win 'em all.

Last week, I spent Monday cleaning, Tuesday touching up, and Wednesday and Thursday doing more cleaning.

This week I'm not going to worry about anything until at least tomorrow. This week, we're going to go to playgroup at someone else's (clean) house and come home to wallow in our semi-filth.

And it feels great.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

You can see more evidence of Jean's schizophrenic relationship with housekeeping at Stimeyland.

Waiting for Jack

It's hard to imagine what a dog must think when her people are gone for the day. I'm sure they get used to it, but the first time the family leaves together and then comes home in fits and starts, it must be confusing.

My dog, Cassidy, is pretty used to our routine. Everybody leaves in the morning, more or less at the same time.

I, or Quinn and I, come home first. Sometimes we leave again. Later in the afternoon, Quinn and I leave for the bus stop and come home a few minutes later with Sam. Shortly after that, a bus drops Jack in front of the house. Then, two or three hours later, Alex arrives home.

No matter how many times we go through this routine, no matter how mundane it must seem to us, Cassidy is thrilled each and every time someone walks through the door. Tail wagging and tongue out, she greets us all as if we are the most important thing in the world to her. We probably are.

I realized today how in tune with my family and our rhythms she is when I was waiting for Jack's bus to get home.

At 3:50, a common time for Jack's arrival, I heard a bus and looked up. From my vantage point on the couch, I only had to flick up my eyes to see through the glass storm door that this was not Jack's bus. This bus was not stopping. Without any more movement, I looked back down at my book.

Cassidy, however, who had been resting behind a chair, heard the bus, jumped up, and ran toward the door. She was ready to greet her person. I hadn't known before today that she was aware of this auditory cue.

As that school bus drove down the street and turned right, Cassidy watched. She clearly wondered why the familiar sound didn't bring Jack today.

A few minutes later when Jack's bus did arrive, Cassidy similarly welcomed it. Only this time she barked when the bus door opened.

I am so used to having a dog in my house and not thinking about her inner life. After today, I may find myself thinking about it more often.

Monday, March 10, 2008

There's Something About Quinn

Ah, Quinn. He's my eccentric little guy. I don't write a ton about him, but if I did, this would be the Blog of Uncontrollable Cuteness and Eccentricity because that is what he is.

Either that, or he's completely insane. Or both.

It's not his birthday today, nor did he do anything particularly out of character or exceptionally cute, but he is just such a funny little dude, and that came out in spades today.

Like this morning, when I found him not in his own bed—or in my bed for that matter. I found him sound asleep on the top bunk of Sam and Jack's bunk bed. (Where he is technically not allowed to be.) Not only that, but he had chosen a large puddle of (very uncommon) night pee to sleep in. Then, even though it wasn't his, he tried to take credit for it.

Speaking of pee, although he is not potty trained, and is not very interested in using the potty at home, whenever we are at the preschool he claims he has to use the potty. He has a knack for picking the most inconvenient times and/or places to decide to pretend he wants to learn to pee in the toilet.

And if I try to put him on the potty, he never pees. (There was that one time that he told another parent that he had to poop on the potty, although he already had pooped in his diaper, resulting in a disaster of epic proportions. That was a mess. Oooh, oooh! And there are the times that he swears to another parent that he's wearing underpants, when he is not.)

Now when he says, "I have to go potty," when we're at school, I've taking to telling him, "No, you don't," which I'm sure is going to bite me in the ass when I really do try to potty train him in earnest.

And then there are our daily trips to the bus stop. They almost always start out with his claim that he absolutely must/will die if he doesn't take a large toy with him. I figured out early on that he wasn't going to carry it himself, so now he regularly takes things outside with him only to try to foist it upon me once we're on the porch.

When I refuse to carry it, then he will put it on the steps to reclaim it when we get home. And he will talk about it all the way to the bus stop.

Except for when he's repeatedly saying, "I'm cold! Pick me up! I'm cold! Pick me up!"

Or when he makes me spin around: "Walk backwards! Turn around! Turn the other way!"

And did I mention he almost exclusively wears yellow? He points out every yellow car he sees. And if someone else is wearing a yellow shirt, well, "He's wearing a yellow shirt! Just like me!" Even if his current shirt isn't yellow.

And if he's not wearing a yellow t-shirt (and we have exactly three of them), then you can bet we had to physically restrain him to get him into the shirt he is wearing. And unless it is red or orange or has a suitable animal picture on the front, he will pout and scream until he rips it off or I give in and remove it.

(And even if it's yellow, it better not have buttons.)

He also has a strong sense of justice. If someone wrongs him, there better be a hug and an "I'm sorry" coming or he will pout you to death. (Can you guess how I wronged him here? Yep, white shirt.)

And the main thing that inspired me to write this post? His perfect Quinnosity came through today when Jack was napping on the couch and I was wedged in lying down behind him. Quinn wanted to "nap" too, so I offered him the space behind my knees.

Not good enough.

He spent a good five minutes squirming, grunting, and whining, "I'm trying to fit," as he attempted to force himself into the quarter inch of space left on the couch near my and Jack's heads.

(Ultimately that ended with an injury inflicted by a straw-cup, a time out and some crying. I'll let you guess who did what.)

So, Quinn. He's the eccentric one in my family. And among us Stimeys, that's hard to be. With Sam and Jack in school all day, the two of us have had some quality time together. It's been never-ending amusement to watch him develop.

Kudos to you, Quinn, for being you. (And kudos to any of you readers not related to me that made it this far.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Rooster's Meme

I'm doing this largely because I like writing "Rooster's Meme."

Joeymom, whom I probably reference way too often and who must feel like I'm stalking her by now (I kinda am), posted some answers to questions put forth by ghkole at Rooster Calls.

I decided to jump on the bandwagon, so following are my responses:

If you blog, do you tell people in your family or at your job about your blog?

My family knows about my blog. They were, in fact, my first readers. I originally started it to keep my family updated about what was going on with me and my family. But then I discovered this amazing community, and I also rediscovered my love of memoir-ish writing. So here I am.

I do not tell people I work for or with about my blog, although it probably would not be the end of the world if they found out. They would discover my foul mouth and that I'm tired a lot, but I don't think anyone would fire me.

I also don't tell people at my preschool about my blog, although there are definitely people there who know. It's possible my secret is out, and honestly, I don't mind if it is. There are one or two posts in my archives that a couple people might feel sad about, but because I like most of the people there, my writings about it are almost entirely favorable.

If so, how does that impact your writing?

My readership doesn't affect my writing much at all. (Although I do try to be considerate of others' feelings. And I try not to be too dumb.) I consider this blog to be a chronicle of my and my family's life, so I try not to write too much about other people. I don't feel that it's my place. If I do write about others, it is generally about how they relate to me. This is not rampant egocentrism, but rather a conscious decision to respect others. (It's just mild egocentrism.)

I'm also aware that some people Alex works with read here, so I try not to embarrass him too much. But, really, that's just good home economics anyway.

Do you keep hard copies of your blogs?

It's well documented that I'm a pack rat, so I think you might be able to guess that I do. About once a month I print out all of my posts and I put them in a 3-ring binder. I think it will facilitate reading if my kids ever want to go through it. Plus, I'll be well prepared for when this newfangled internet bubble bursts.

Do you ever not post comments you get?

I think I deleted a comment once. For the most part I'm happy to give people a chance to write back what they think. And I do love me some comments. I would, however, be comfortable deleting spam and/or exceptionally mean comments directed at one of my readers or commenters. I'm not that controversial, so that's never been an issue here.

How do you balance writing versus reading?

I think the question for me is more, "How do you balance writing and reading with your life?" I post when I have something to say. (And I apparently just can't stop saying things.) And I read all the posts in my Google Reader. I think I'm still around 40 blogs, so it's a handleable amount.

Do you think of it as a chore or a diversion?

I think of it as one of the things I enjoy most. If it were a chore, I don't think I'd do it. I love the community. I love the record of my children that I'm putting down. I love the exercise of writing. I love the self-awareness that blogging gives me. I'm still not quite a year into blogging, so who knows how long my love will last, but I'm really enjoying the ride for now.

Do you use RSS to keep track of blogs, or what?

Google Reader rocks. I resisted it for a long time, but once I finally joined up, I don't know how I lived without it. It saves me a lot of time that I used to waste checking to see if folks had posted, only to find they hadn't. And it allows me to make sure I don't miss posts by people I really want to read.

Do you worry about what you write, or what readers will think?

Yes, I worry about what I write. I want it to be of some sort of quality. I mostly try to put things out there that I'm proud to put my name (or at least my pseudonym) on.

I think it is natural to worry about what your readers think. I stay away from saying anything that will make someone feel bad, if I know they are a reader.

Having readers helps motivate me to write. And it motivates me to write things I'm happy with. If I didn't have readers, I think my writing would suffer. Largely because I don't think I would write. I haven't successfully kept a journal of any kind going since I was in high school.


There's me. How about you?

Friday, March 7, 2008

To Parents With Autistic Children:

We've not said anything to Jack about autism, but I'm thinking we should. I kind of want him to grow up with that self-knowledge to be a given, rather than slapping him with it when he's older.

If you have an autistic child, when did you tell him or her? How did you tell him or her? What would you have done differently? If you haven't told him or her, why not?

I need some wise words from some people that are wiser than me.

Feel free to weigh in even if you don't have an autistic child. I value your opinion too.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

DCMM: Is a Condition an Illness?

I've been wracking my brain as to what to write concerning the topic of coping with illness. I've definitely had extended family who have had to cope with them, but (knock on wood) we have been lucky enough to not have to contend with serious illnesses in my immediate family.

I mentally cataloged my family, and most of us have "conditions," none of which I would define as an illness, but which are things that require coping nonetheless.  Coping—and semi-regular trips to the pharmacy.

My husband has suffered from scoliosis since he was a child. As far as I know, he's never been treated for it, but I know that it causes him discomfort. Chronic discomfort.

If he sleeps on the wrong surface, if he doesn't stretch enough, if he's just having a bad day—all of these things can cause him extreme pain. Most days he's okay, but he's definitely had to find ways to cope with it.

My son Jack is autistic. I'm sure some would consider autism to be an illness, but I consider it to be just part of his personality, his being.

More than anyone in my family, Jack is going to have to learn to cope with his condition. He, only four years old now, will have to learn skills and strategies that he can use to successfully navigate a mostly non-autistic world. This will be a life-long thing for him.

My two-year-old, Quinn, was flagged as a fetus as potentially having nephrosis, which affects the kidneys. After he was born, he had daily antibiotics for months. I was on a first-name basis with my pharmacist, because the medicine was liquid and had to be refilled every two weeks. After much testing, his kidneys were determined to be healthy. Illness avoided. Hallelujah.

His main condition now is constipation. And oh boy have we been coping with this condition. Daily Miralax, a diet high in fiber, suppositories on occasion, and the infrequent trip to the hospital have all been coping strategies we've used for his condition.

My six-year-old suffers from seasonal allergies. Not too big a deal. We just give him some Claritin during the spring. He seems to have gotten a light dose of "condition."

I have a couple conditions (including sensory issues and some depression and anxiety), but the most outwardly obvious of them seems to be psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition that involves hard, scaly patches on skin. Some people have it worse than others, and my condition is not too severe, but it does keep me from wearing shorts during the summer, and makes me think twice about short sleeved shirts that will showcase my scaly elbows.

I cope by using various topical medications, most of which I am too lazy to apply on a regular basis. For me, aside from a little pain the psoriasis patches give me, most of my coping skills regarding this stem from self-esteem issues. It's not fun to look like leprosy has invaded parts of your body.

So, no, none of these qualify as illnesses in my opinion. But they are all health issues that require coping skills.

Fortunately, none of these conditions threaten my family or its well-being. They are all things we can deal with, things we can cope with. Some of them I wish we didn't have to cope with, but we do. And we will continue to do so.

And we will hope that "conditions" are the biggest challenges we face. We will hope that illness won't knock on our door, that our family history of heart disease, severe depression, and cancer don't find us.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

You can read more about Jean and her family's conditions, and how they cope, at Stimeyland.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Stupid Expensive Appliances

Well, if it's not one thing, it's another.

Here's a way to declutter: Get rid of your refrigerator.

Alex and I noticed yesterday that our refrigerator was not keeping things cold the way it should be. I'll be calling an appliance repair service tomorrow to see if it can be saved or if we're going to have to buy a whole new one.

After discovering that our milk had gone bad, we decided to replace the chicken we bought last weekend to serve at a potluck I'm hosting tomorrow. No need to food poison everyone.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How Are Babies Made?

Today as I was driving my family to karate class, Sam asked me how babies were made.

I knew this question was on the horizon, but somehow I still didn't expect it. And being the awesome parent I am, I hadn't formulated my answer.

I do believe in answering questions at the time they are asked instead of telling my children that we'll talk about it later, so I had to come up with an answer on the fly.

Okay. All the experts say to go simple, that they don't need a detailed answer. They say that if you make it too complicated, that's not what they're looking for. So...simple. I can do that.

"Well, Sam, a mommy and a daddy decide they want a baby, so then the mommy grows it in her tummy, and then it is born." As these words were coming out of my mouth, I was second-guessing my "mommy and daddy" statement.

But, no. Simple. Don't start talking about two mommies or two daddies or any of the other permutations, I told myself. He doesn't need the gray areas. Keep it simple. Hold it together.

"What about the egg?" he asked. Or something to that effect. I don't remember his exact question because I was thinking to myself, "He knows there's an egg?! How does he know there's an egg?! Who has he been talking to?"

"Are you talking about people babies, Sam, or other animal babies?" I asked.

"People babies."

Okay. This is not so simple. Should I start talking about sperm?

"Well, the mommy has an egg and the daddy has a...seed and they put them together and the baby grows in the mommy's tummy."

"Does the baby grow from the seed?" Sam asked.

"Ummm. No, the seed fertilizes the egg and then the baby grows from the egg," was what I said. "Please don't ask how the seed fertilizes the egg," was what I didn't say. "PLEASE don't ask how the seed fertilizes the egg."

Instead, he asked, "When can we have another baby, Mom?"

Phew. The biological aspect of the conversation ended there and the pleading (by Sam) and the dashing of hopes (by me) began. Poor kid. He doesn't have a chance in hell of winning that argument.

Crossposted at DC Metro Moms Blog.

Monday, March 3, 2008

One Reason You Might Not Want to Marry Me

Alex: "I think that the first clue that something went wrong was when the smoke alarm went off."

Dicky the Mailman

You know how people call your phone number, ask for someone you've never heard of, and then hang up without a word when you tell them that they have the wrong number?

Yeah, I hate that too.

Today the most polite guy called my number erroneously today. But it made me happy because this is what he said:

"Is this Dicky the Mailman's house?"

Without a pause, followed by:

"I think I have the wrong number. I'm sorry, ma'am."

So not only was he super cordial, but he gave me lots to think about as to who is Dicky the Mailman, and why would he be referred to as such, instead of just Dicky.


In other news, I spent nearly the entire day completing the herculean task of cleaning and organizing my kids' rooms. You can read about it in waaaay too much detail at The Junk Pyramid. (And thank you all for being so fascinated with my junk, by the way.)

Also, if you're coming to my house for a playdate this week, just know that not only will you be required to oooh and aaah at the cleanliness of those rooms, but you will be required to only gaze at the toys instead of playing with them.

Oh, I'm kidding. My basement is still a disaster of toys you can touch. I may even send you home with some of them.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Jack's Other Friend

We have a lovely cat named Izzy. I adopted her from a humane society in 1996 as a companion for my first cat, Desdemona (RIP), and to keep Desdemona busy so she wouldn't climb my wall heater in the middle of the night.

Izzy has spent many years living much like a dog. She fetches (well, she used to), she comes if you call her name, she rubs up against you to get you to pet her, and she slept for many years adhered to the side of my body at night.

A couple of years ago, my sister gave me her cat, Denali. Denali started sleeping above my head on my pillow. This was too much for Izzy and she retreated from my bedroom at night.

She found Jack.

Now she sleeps adhered to the side of his body. And he loves her. For a kid who so enjoys tactile stimulation, Izzy's warm, fuzzy body is a huge draw for him.

Because we have a dog and, you know, children, we put the cats' litter box and food in a closet behind a baby gate. The gate seems to be losing some of its effectiveness, however.

The other day I found Jack on the non-person side of the fence, having slithered underneath it, through the cat-size opening, to harass Izzy while she was trying to eat.

He just can't get enough.

Thankfully, Izzy also can't get enough.