Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Team Cheetah Goes to the Zoo

Ever since school started I have been trying to get Sam's kindergarten teacher let me volunteer for her.

She has steadfastly deflected me at every turn.

So here we are in the home stretch, end of April, and the kids have a field trip to the zoo. I figure there is no way I can figure out how to get the morning without my own kids in order to chaperone, so I didn't even bother trying. And then Ms. S called me and asked if I could come on the field trip as a chaperone.

I guess after begging to volunteer all year I sort of had to chaperone, right? Alex kindly agreed to work from home and shuttle the littler dudes around this morning while I jumped on a school bus for the first time since I was three feet tall.

It turns out that the way field trips work at this particular school is that the teachers sucker four or five parents into chaperoning. Then they assign two to four kids to each chaperone and give them a list of things to do/see/photograph. Then the teachers disappear for two and half hours. It's quite a scam.

My kids and I decided to call ourselves Team Cheetah. Unfortunately, there were no cheetahs to be seen today at the National Zoo. Here's Team Cheetah before we found that out (Sam insisted his identity be concealed along with his teammates.):

Here's Team Cheetah after we searched in vain for our little spotted namesakes:

Then the cute little girl in the pink tracksuit tried to run away from me, only coming back to beg for ice cream. This continued for the rest of the day. Consequently, this is the only photo I have of her where I am not clutching her hand.

On the other hand, she did forget her lunch and didn't like the sandwich in her donated lunch, so I got to eat it. That was cool.

We didn't learn quite as many fun things as on our last trip to the zoo, but it was actually a lot of fun. No one threw up, no one got lost, no one had a bathroom accident, and no one got any ice cream.

Almost a perfect trip.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Do Memes and Awards Always Come in Bunches?

First up is a meme from Joeymom. It's the Five Things Meme. Here I go!

5 things found in your bag:
1. One diaper. Hopefully that will end soon. Although I suppose then I'll be dragging extra pants around for awhile. (Quinn's. Not mine.)
2. Diaper wipes. How did I live without these when I didn't have kids? I'm going to keep these in my bag forever.
3. My wallet.
4. A thingy that holds all my gift cards. I tend to forget that this exists when I'm actually in the establishments for which I have gift cards.
5. A notebook to capture ideas for blogging.

5 favorite things in your room:
I don't think I have 5 favorite things in my bedroom. I don't spend a whole lot of time there. My least favorite thing is a giant (GIANT) wooden sculpture of an eagle that Alex accidentally bought while we lived in Alaska. My favorite thing? Maybe Alex. Maybe.

5 things you have always wanted to do:
1. Raise happy kids
2. Become a real-life mountain climber
3. Be happy with my body image
4. Run a marathon
5. Through-hike the Appalachian Trail
(Do you see a theme here?)

5 things you are currently into:
1. My little dudes
2. Napping
3. Blogging
4. Coveting books to read, and the time to read those books
5. Double Trouble crossword puzzles
(See another theme here?)

5 people I want to tag:
I don't think I really want to tag anyone. Please feel free to tag yourself if you so desire!


Next up is KC of Where's My Cape? I am supposed to share 5 songs I am embarrassed to admit to others that I like and tell why.

At first I thought that I would not be able to come up with enough embarrassing songs because my musical taste is so awesome. (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Johnny Cash, I'm looking at you.) But it turns out that once I really started thinking about it, there were many, many songs I like that embarrass me.

We'll start out with Gordon Lightfoot. Pretty much anything he sings qualifies for awesome but embarrassing. I've been known to belt Gord's Gold at the top of my lungs over and over. I even saw the man himself in concert once. I blame my mom for this.

I'm going to royally piss off my friend C in Montana with this one, but I am embarrassed to admit that I love Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day. Calm down, C. I'm not saying that Green Day is embarrassing. I'm just saying that even you'll have to admit that this song has been sort of done to death. Interestingly, Green Day played in my co-op house when I was in college. Then they got famous.

Next we have Beautiful by Christina Aguilera. I love this song, but you will never catch me playing it outside of my house.

This one's not embarrassing, although maybe I should be ashamed that when it first came out I sang it to myself for a week straight: I'm Fucking Matt Damon. Also fun, but less catchy, is I'm Fucking Ben Affleck. Really I'm just pleased to be putting these links on my blog.

I've saved the best for last. Sinead O'Connor is not exactly the coolest singer in the world. But Nothing Compares 2 U is an excellent song. So says I. Cut me some slack. Prince wrote it. (If you are my old college chum S, and you are reading this right now, I know just what you are thinking of right now. It starts with a "Chaz" and end with a "t-shirt".)


And for the award: I am one in a tremendously long list of people who care about the wonderful Slouching Mom and who had this award bestowed on them. You make our day too, Sarah.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

There. No There. A Little to the Left. Too Far. Let's Try Where It Was the First Time Again.

Lately Quinn has been a screaming, shrieking nightmare at bedtime. Literally.

He hates going to bed and lets us know this with a vehemence known only to toddlers. There are days we've had to hold him in the room with one hand and close the door with the other. We've had to lock his door with him inside. We've had to put furniture in front of the door.*

Don't worry, we always open up his escape routes after he falls asleep, but I still feel a little like I'm scarring him forever. Like he'll grow up with intense claustrophobia and not know why except for the fact that he has vague memories of pounding on a door blocked by a changing table.

It's completely horrible. For him too. Ha ha.

I think that a big part of the reason he hates bedtime so much is that he is separated from his brothers, who share a room. I think this because before bed every night he asks if he can sleep in Sam and Jack's room.

Being the problem solver that I am, I asked him if he'd like to move his bed into their room. He was beyond delighted. Sam was also delighted. Sam was so delighted that on Saturday morning he managed to drag Quinn's toddler bed, mattress and all, out of Quinn's room and into the hallway.

We eventually moved it the rest of the way and that night, all three kids went to bed together. There was some initial chatting and bickering, but then things seemed to be calming down.

Until, that is, Quinn came out of the room saying he was afraid. I told him he had nothing to be afraid of and sent him back.

About an hour later, Sam came out to tell me that Quinn needed me.

I found him in his bed, under his blanket, with his pillow over his head, and only a tiny smidge of his anxious face peering out from underneath. He was so hot he had sweated through his pajamas and I seriously thought he had spiked an astronomical fever.

I took his temperature (normal) and sat with him outside to cool him down. Then I let him sleep on the couch.

Needless to say, today we moved his bed back to his room. Because what's a weekend without some furniture rearranging?

Remind me to find my noise canceling headphones before bedtime.

* It's not as mean as it sounds. Please don't call the authorities on me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

DCMM: Making a Spectacle of Myself...Again

It started out looking promising. When I walked into karate class this afternoon for my oldest son's graduation to gold belt, my two-year-old was sleeping on my shoulder and my four-year-old had promised to be good. Plus I had a bag full of books and toys to keep them busy.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

Almost immediately after I found a good seat in the front row, a fast-moving fan woke the toddler up, my four-year-old completely forgot about my bribe of pizza for dinner if he was good, and no one wanted to read quietly. It went downhill from there.

It would have been hard for any parent to keep two kids contained in a a 4'x4' space for 45 minutes, but I felt a little like the deck was stacked against me. First of all, my two-year-old is...well, he's two. And Jack, my four-year-old, is autistic.

I don't consider Jack's autism to be an excuse for bad behavior any more than I consider being two to be an excuse. It sheds some light on why he is acting the way he is, but he still has to follow the rules. Unfortunately, whereas being two is an obvious thing, Jack's autism is largely an invisible disability.

I don't think I have it much harder than anyone else. Every child has their issues and every parent faces unique challenges when trying to keep them occupied in public. I don't think I deserve any extra sympathy for having an autistic child.

It's just that sometimes I get tired of being a spectacle when I'm out with my kids. I often feel like I'm the only mom acting like she's herding cats. It seems that I am constantly barking orders. I don't think I've had the three of them out with me together recently that I haven't broken a sweat trying to keep them contained.

I'm tired of having to thank the people sitting to my left and my right for their tolerance and having to apologize to the people behind me for my children's squirminess, rocking, stimming, and random shouts of, "Shake it up!"

I tend to not mention Jack's autism in situations like the one at karate. It would be all too easy to say, "I'm sorry, he's autistic," and have that explain the situation. But I don't want Jack to hear me apologizing for his autism, nor do I feel like I should. I'm proud of who he is, autism and all.

I adore Jack's quirkiness. He's fun and he makes me laugh and he gives the best "squeeze hugs" known to humankind.

But sometimes I just wish that my kids and I could sit quietly and let another family take over the role of "spectacle."

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean also blogs at Stimeyland.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Museum of Modern Sam

There was an exhibit at one of our local malls this week featuring artwork by select kids from area schools. That's Sam's gorgeous selection to the left.

We toured the exhibition after a semi-disastrous stop at the museum cafe, otherwise known as Sbarro.

Sam was pretty proud. As was I.

Incidentally, a complete stranger passing by convinced him to pose this way.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The New Purple $5 Bill & Other Things...

I found this:

in my pocket and I was all ready to call the authorities to let them know that I had been passed counterfeit money by either the most incompetent or the most carefree counterfeiters ever. Then I checked the internet only to find that the government is adding purple to our $5 bills.

I got nothing against purple, but really?

And, um, did I commit a federal crime by putting my money in a scanner/copier?


Discussing Autism says I'm one of the best autism blogs! I would like to say thank you and also to stagger around a little bit because of the excellent company I am in.


Parenting really IS awesome:

"I love my mother because she cooks me good food. She also plays games with me. My mother is very beautiful."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Feet Hurt.

Sam was allowed to participate in the science fair, which was tonight.

The up-side: Hooray! Happy Sam!

The down-side: We had to attend the science fair tonight.

See Sam educating the masses?

Sam's project was one of only four done by kindergartners at his school. We were able to hang out near Sam's project as long as Jack was distracted by the pencil sharpener hanging on the wall nearby and Quinn was distracted by trying to tackle Jack.

Seriously. Who raised these kids? Wrestlers?

The 3rd through 5th graders (who were required to do projects) had their projects in the cafeteria. We spent about five minutes in there before I realized my kids were going to level the place. Even with that quick realization, by the time we walked out of there, Quinn had absconded with somebody's tape measure. He said he remembered which table it came from. I hope he was right. Otherwise, some third grader with a science project about velocity scored a free tape measure.

By the way, never go to an elementary school science fair as the only adult with a group consisting of a kindergartner, a 2-year-old, and an autistic 4-year-old. Blerg.

They did have fun though. Although the most fun I had was when we got home and I convinced my kids that they were making the headlights of the car flash by tapping on them. When in reality I was locking the car with my key over and over, causing the headlights to flash each time I clicked the button.

I let this go on for a good five minutes before I fessed up. I am hilarious. Or delirious. I'm not sure it matters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Parenting is Awesome...

...particularly if you're super good at it, like I am.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Text from an actual email I wrote today to cancel plans after Jack threw up in the car:

Fuck, fuckity, fuck fuck...Jack threw up this morning. So probably no chili for him tomorrow. What is wrong with these kids?! Can't we just live? Do we have to throw up all the time?

Maybe the next week? Or, you know, 2010?


At least he gave me ample warning. We got all the way to preschool and were walking in when Jack said he wanted to throw up in the potty. He laid on the toilet (Blech!) while I told his teacher we wouldn't be in.

On the way home I put a towel on his lap in case he puked. I still wasn't entirely convinced he wasn't faking.

Turns out he wasn't. As we pulled into the driveway he threw up. My first thought? "Why is it neon green?"

(Answer: Go-gurt)


Screw TV Turn Off week. We're watching all damn day.

Text from another actual email I sent this morning, this one to Alex:

The Berenstain Bears are on. The episode is "That Stump Must Go."

You are Papa Bear.


I'm clearly getting stuff done.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Experiment

Hypothesis: Stimey will be able to help Sam successfully participate in the school science fair.

Preparation: (1) Ask Sam if he wants to participate in the fair, which is optional for kindergartners. (2) Wrack brain for ideas of a kindergarten-age appropriate science fair project. (3) Suggest dropping objects into water to see if heavier things sink faster. (4) Get Sam's approval. (5) Remember that this is more complicated than it seems because you have forgotten all about density and how that affects the rate at which things sink.

Process: (1) Fill out science fair form and turn it in by March 20. (2) Do nothing until April 20, when you find the science fair packet under a pile of other papers and realize that you needed to send a form in by March 20. (3) Send a panicky email to the teacher. (4) Prepare Sam for the possibility that the "science fair" may be a one-person exhibit the next time Nana comes to visit. (5) Conduct experiment.

Challenge: Find rock-sized items that will actually sink. Apples? No. Oranges? No. Egg? Yes! Metal James train? Yes! (Console smallest child, who is upset that James is involved in this endeavor. "Don't worry, Quinn. James is furthering the cause of science now.") Alex's watch? Yes. (Note: this was the object that screwed us on the simple heavy vs. light hypothesis and forced us to learn about density. Thanks a lot, Alex's watch.) Lime? Surprisingly, yes.

Challenge: Find a see-through container tall enough to be able to tell which object hits the bottom first. Remember your wrapping paper bin. Congratulate yourself on having such an item. Learn that Sam's arms are shorter than a wrapping paper bin.

Challenge: Other kids want to participate because throwing rocks in buckets of water in the house doesn't happen much around here. Unsuccessfully try to hold them back. Assure Quinn that James will be okay after his dunking.

Challenge: Stimey has to tamp down her control freak tendencies and just let Sam do his own thing, even if that means he is going to write words in a downward direction rather than straight across. Even if that means Sam is going to cross out letters he wrote wrong. Even if Stimey's handwriting is so much better than Sam's.

Challenge: Sam wants to sound out the words as he's writing them in Sharpie on his display board. Jeez, Sam, I know "light" is a hard word to spell, that's why I wrote it out for you. Copy what I wrote! Don't write "lite" and then look up at me! Don't think independently! Aaaaaaaaahhhh!

Challenge: Sam's writing is semi-illegible. Glue a translation to the back.

Result: A very proud six-year-old.

Conclusion: Stimey can successfully help Sam prepare a science fair project. Whether he actually gets to enter it at school remains to be seen. Stimey is totally going to rock the free world next year when the science fair rolls around.

Legacy: Look! The younger generation is learning from our hard work! Nobel Prize, here we come!

The Scientist:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

DCMM: Summer Is Really On Its Way

At one point in my career, while working at a magazine, I wrote a little piece about how well-known locals knew summer was coming. It being Los Angeles, one of those locals would have been George Hamilton. The joke was, "How does George Hamilton know it's summer, when he's already tan?"

Unfortunately, George Hamilton refused to speak with me.

So even though I don't know how he becomes aware of the change in season, I do know my signs. Today I got one of my first real whiffs of summer. Forget that the temperature was 70-80 degrees last week. Forget that the sky has been clear blue without a trace of clouds. Forget that the garden is going in and the grass is growing up.

I know that summer is on its way because the ice cream truck made its first pass today.

I don't remember many ice cream trucks from my childhood, and the ice cream trucks in my Oakland, California neighborhood, where I lived for much of my young adulthood, had metal bars over the windows.

But the ice cream trucks here in my current neighborhood? They're happy, musical, and frequent during the summer months. They're so frequent in fact, that I have a friend who tells her kids that the trucks are "music trucks." They have no idea there is ice cream inside.

My kids learned about the true nature of these vehicles at a busy park one day when a truck drove up and promptly made about $50. All of the kids started shrieking, "Ice cream! Ice cream!" and ran at the truck. My kids were amazed. And happy too, after I shelled out $6 for ice cream.

I was inside working today when I first heard that unmistakable tinny music. I heard my husband and kids outside running for the truck. I jumped up, intending to be funny by pushing my kids out of the way to get to the ice cream.

As I was running full speed toward the street, I noticed that a lot of neighbors were out in their yards. Mid-sprint I realized that I probably looked less like a comedian and more like a fat girl running for ice cream.

Well, at least they know I can run.

And at least I know that summer is well on its way.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Keep up to date on Jean's summer at Stimeyland.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I don't really have adequate words for today.

On April 18, 1983, when Alex was eight years old, his father was killed in the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. That was 25 years ago today. I know that Alex has thought of his father on every single day of those 25 years. This man, whom I wish I could have met, was killed in a violent attack at the hands of terrorists years before Alex should have even had to know the word "terrorist."

I was only ten at the time and didn't know a whole lot about terrorism. But unfortunately, I did know about life without a father. My father had died in a car accident when I was seven. That man, whom I wish I could have known better, was killed in an unfortunate accident years before I should have had to learn about unfortunate accidents.

Yesterday, a beautiful and sunny day full of the promise of life and joy, changed suddenly for me when a friend told me about the family of a child Sam went to preschool with last year. I didn't know the father, although I'm sure I'd met him, but this girl's mother is one of those people with a glow. It's the glow that comes with a contagious smile and a beauty of spirit. This woman's husband suddenly passed away early this week. They have two daughters, one of whom is six, one of whom is 11. This man, whom I wish his kids could have gotten to know better, was stolen from his wife and children years before they should have had to learn to live without him.

Life can be scary and dangerous and it can make you learn things you don't want to learn. It's never a good time for death. But there are definitely bad times for it. Give your kids some hugs. Give your husband or wife or partner a hug too. Call your mom or dad. And take a minute with me to remember those parents who died too early and the loved ones who had to learn these harsh lessons.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Izzy the Cat, by Sam. Medium: Marker on Torso.

At least it's kind of art, instead of just random squiggles.

I'm taking bets on how old he'll be when he gets his first tattoo.


Oh, and hey! If you live anywhere near Palo Alto, Jill Asher, one of the founders of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog (and DC, and Chicago, and NYC, and you get the picture) has organized a bone marrow drive for this Saturday (April 19). You can get all the details here. You, little ol' you, could save a life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Check and Mate.

Take that, Quinn.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Your Move, Little Man

Regular readers here are aware that Quinn is insane.

(Part of) his current weirdness (weirdness being a relative term) is that he will only wear (some) yellow shirts. He has five yellow shirts. He'll only wear three of them.

A couple of weeks ago the ladies in my playgroup suggested I buy him plain yellow t-shirts from Michael's and iron on Quinn-friendly images using printable transfer sheets. Oh. Yeah.

You can see my results here:

Yellow shirts on sale: $1.89 each
Printable transfer sheets: $9.99 for five
Copyright infringement of popular logos/characters: Priceless

Quinn's next move will almost certainly be to refuse to wear any color other than red.


On a related note, I think Quinn is afraid of one of the t-shirts—the SuperWhy one. Which is ironic, because as he is covering his eyes and backing away, he is wearing a helmet, goggles, and giant shoes in order to be dressed up as SuperWhy.

Like I said, no one has ever accused Quinn of being rational.

Or Jack, for that matter:


That shirt above doesn't count in the non-yellow shirt embargo because it's a pajama shirt, see? And because it's Spiderman.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Better Than a Movie

Note to self: If I am trying to hide inside to work while Alex takes care of the kids, coming out on the back porch to take photos will (a) call attention to me and (b) destroy my solitude.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Maybe If He Studies REALLY Hard...

Things Quinn says he can be when he grows up:

- big like Daddy

- SuperWhy

- an astronaut

- Sam and Jack

- a tree

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Indignities of Motherhood

After I woke up from my late afternoon nap in the lobby of the karate studio today, I started thinking about the indignities of motherhood. I face these indignities on a regular basis, but having to wipe the drool off my chin in a place I frequent twice a week sort of brought the concept home to me.

It starts with pregnancy and the "I don't look pregnant, I just look fat" phenomenon. I don't think we need to go into what pregnancy cravings, mood swings, and morning sickness does to our poise. I've thrown up in some interesting places. And in front of some interesting people.

The indignity of motherhood really hits its stride during childbirth. I did so many embarrassing naked things in front of scads of people while giving birth that I've lost count. You know what I'm talking about. Don't pretend you don't. I'm talking about pooping on the delivery table, peeing on your obstetrician, throwing up on your husband, displaying your nether-regions to a plethora of hospital staff.

I will neither confirm nor deny that any of these things happened to me.

Although the most undignified moment at my first delivery was suffered by my doula. After 21 hours of labor I had just started to push and she was hunkered down to see if there was any action. (See? That's exactly the indignity I'm talking about.) It was at that moment that my water chose to break, exploding in a geyser-like gush all over her face and body. If you think you can't laugh hysterically after almost a full day of labor, I suggest you try this.

Life with a newborn exposes you to all kinds of insult as well—especially if you breastfeed. I'm not talking about literally exposing yourself—hell, my entire extended family has seen the full glory of my boobs.

I'm talking about leaking breast milk. This happened to me over and over for months with each child. I should have bought nursing pads in bulk. On the plus side, holding a newborn to your chest is a great way to conceal the wet spot that covers half your shirt. I've had to wear sweatshirts in June so as not to entirely embarrass myself because of the "spots."

You want more? Here you go: sneezing. If you can sneeze without peeing a little bit (or a lot), I question your womanhood.

Toddler-hood is fun for the fact that you no longer have spit-up on the shoulders of all your clothes. Instead you have cracker crumbs, juice stains, and boogers. And because toddlers are short and you're always having to squat down to talk to them, you also get the indignity of showing your pants sliding down off your childbearing-widened ass. They should call it "mommy butt" instead of "plumber's butt."

It is also during toddler-hood that you will wake up from the previous three or so years and notice that you've been making casual conversation with strangers about your child's poop. Hopefully by now you've stopped. (Note to self: Stop telling strangers about my kids' poop.)

By all means, there are more affronts to come. There is the humiliation of watching your kid be a monster to another kid. There is the drama of holding a shrieking child in your arms as you try to make it through the line of the grocery store. There is the delicate situation of explaining menstruation to your children who ask about it loudly in a public restroom.

There is the joy of taking out a child who insists on dressing like a duck.

My oldest child is still only six, so I have yet to experience the trauma of the pre-teen and teen years. I can only imagine the debasement that I will fall victim to then.

Don't get me wrong, there are many wonderful and beautiful things about bearing and raising children. Many days those things shine through brighter than the embarrassments. But then there are the other days, the days your child throws up on you in a public place and the indignities seem to tip the scale.

Cross-posted at DC Metro Moms Blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free Expired Cat Medicine!

The Junk Pyramid is holding the very first giveaway in the history of the Stimeyland empire.

Which begs the question: If you have a giveaway and nobody enters, is it still a giveaway?

Anyway, if you have a hankering for some free feline Advantage, with just a couple of slight, minor, barely there disadvantages, head on over to the giveaway!

We Love Us Some Gerbils

I'm not even going to bring up the fact that my gerbil favicon has been up for three months and no one has noticed. Well, the gerbils' mom noticed, but a mommy sees these things.


Today my good friends Robert and Noki the gerbils came back. My friend H and her family are going to Disney World for a week and all I get are these lousy gerbils super excellent and hilarious pets.

You may be aware that I am fond of these little furry guys.

H gave me the gerbils at preschool pick up today. And although Jack has not spent much time watching them in the past, today he was immediately smitten. The adoration started at school. We had to sit in the parking lot and talk about them for a while. Specifically we had to talk about why we don't take them out of their cage and cuddle with them in the middle of a parking lot. (Or a home that features two cats and a dog, for that matter.)

Quinn was oblivious.

Then we got home and poked at their aquarium terrarium cage biodome in hopes that they would wake up and entertain us.

While we were busy loving the gerbils, Quinn was busy sleeping. Don't worry. I checked to make sure he was breathing.

Later, after lunch, Jack and Quinn pretended to be gerbils by drinking water out of bowls. I tried to stop this from happening, but then I reconsidered after I realized that they might accidentally clean part of my floor.

I also chose to ignore the fact that gerbils in captivity don't actually drink that way. Unless they are forced to lap up some of the water that some unnamed preschoolers may have thrown in the biodome while I was out of the room for four seconds.

Man, Not only is H not ever going to let me have these gerbils back, but she's going to make me take down my favicon for unlawfully appropriating their image for monetary gain blogging amusement.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Something Good Happened Today...

At a bowling birthday party today, Jack dropped a six-pound bowling ball onto the hands of two kids at the same time and all three of them started sobbing hysterically.

That might not sound like a good thing to you, but it was unprecedented for us.

The two kids were crying because their poor little smashed fingers hurt.

Jack was crying because the other two kids were so upset. Or because he caused it. Or because he knew that he did something wrong. Or whatever.

But he cued off of the other kids instead of ignoring the hubbub and wandering off to bowl somewhere else.

We apologized and hugged both injured parties and then Jack ignored the rest of the hubbub and wandered off to bowl somewhere else.

I feel very sad for the munchkins who got smashed (they're okay), but I'm thrilled that Jack paid attention to someone else's emotions.

We take our victories where we can get them.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alex's Big Day

It was Alex's birthday today.

I'm not going to tell you how old he is, but both digits are the same and one of them is 3.

In case you wondered why we painted the pig yesterday, it was for a gift that the kids could give to Alex. I have had that thing waiting in a closet for something like two years and finally decided that I just needed to get it decorated.

I bought it at a direct sales party for the now-defunct Big Yellow Box and was waiting until my kids could make it look nice. I think I waited the perfect amount of time. Oh, and by the way, if you're ever having a direct sales party, you should invite me because I lose control at those things and buy everything in sight. I'm trying to learn to say no.

Noggin gave Alex a few extra minutes to sleep in before the little dudes helped him open his presents.

In case you're wondering, the helmet is because Quinn is SuperWhy. Somehow Sam's sneakers are part of that costume too.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and just hanging out. Except, that is, for the couple of hours we engaged in some heavy lifting that you can read about here. (It's funny; in that photo I posted on The Junk Pyramid, I didn't even think about the fact that my kids were dressed as two of the three Wonder Pets. My life with those kids is so ridiculous that I don't even notice that stuff anymore.)

Waiting for cake.

And we weren't chumps this year. We got takeout to eat after the kids went to bed.

Happy Birthday, Alex! I'm glad I was able to spend this last year with you, and I look forward to many more...

Our Version vs. the Project Guide's Version

I think ours kicks the shit out of theirs.

Friday, April 4, 2008

They're Kinda Right.

Somehow Quinn has gotten the impression that Alex works at a hospital. (Alex is actually an attorney for the government.) Whenever we pass a large, block-y building, he'll say, "That's Daddy's hospital!"

I'm not sure why.

It turns out that none of my children really know what Alex does (although Sam and Jack are close), as evidenced by the following exchange:

Quinn: "Daddy works at his hospital."

Me: "No. He's a lawyer. Can you say 'lawyer'?" [Try having your kids say "lawyer" just for fun. It's hilarious. Go do it. I'll wait.]

Quinn: "A-yaw-ya. A-yaw-ya." [See?]

Me: "And 'lawyer' means..."

Jack, super enthusiastically: "FIGHT!"

Sam: "No, it means 'make money for the president,' right?"

They're astute little dudes, Sam and Jack are.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trusting My Instincts

Somehow I just knew that Jack needed that autism diagnosis. Somehow I knew that without it he would end up without the services he needs. I think I was right.

I sent the report with Jack's diagnosis into his school's parent educator a couple of weeks ago. This week the school psychologist called me. She wanted to talk about my plans for Jack for next year.

Here were our options:

1) We leave Jack with his "Developmental Delay" code, which gets him no services for next year. Apparently the staff is really excited about Jack and think he'll do great without supports. (Gah?!)

2) We re-code him, which will take up to 90 days, and involve some re-evaluation or some going over of his report, or something. We won't hear what they decide until probably the end of May or beginning of June.

The only advantage of Option 1, as I see it, is that he wouldn't be "labeled" as autistic. I immediately told the psychologist that we will be going ahead with Option 2. She was very positive and said she knows the people at NIMH who evaluated Jack, so hopefully she'll give him the autism code that he needs.

But thank God we have a diagnosis. Ever since after our first testing session when the therapists told Jack's then-teacher that they didn't know why he was even being evaluated, I knew I was going to have to make sure my ducks were in a row. Thankfully a county psychologist observed him in school and saw that he didn't behave in a typical manner. That's how he ended up in his afternoon special ed school this year.

Partly because of that, I really wanted to pursue a diagnosis. We got on the waiting list for Kennedy Krieger, but that wouldn't have come up in time. In fact, I got a call from them on Monday. Right now, he's scheduled for an evaluation in July, but we will likely end up canceling that if the county accepts Jack's current diagnosis.

Alex heard about the NIMH study and got us enrolled for the screening from which we got a diagnosis and therefore seem to have been saved from an IEP meeting where a bunch of therapists would have told us that Jack is fine and doesn't need supports for kindergarten.

Which leads me to another way in which I trusted my instincts. Even though he has a long day with both his morning and afternoon school, I really wanted him in a mainstream-style school with "typical" kids so as to get an idea of how he will do with them. I don't know how much credence the county will lend to my anecdotal evidence, but I'm glad that I have this experience to share with the educators who will decide what services he gets.

I have no doubt that he is doing great in his special ed class with all of the support he gets. But even there they can't get him to do his work half of the time. I know at his morning preschool that it can be really hard to get him to participate and follow directions.

I see Sam come home with sheafs of papers that he's completed. I cannot even imagine Jack willingly completing all of them—especially without support.

I'm meeting with the parent educator tomorrow to talk more about our plans. I will tell her that my instincts tell me that he is not going to be able to hack kindergarten without help. Hopefully it will go well. If only all of them would trust my instincts as much as I'm learning to.

Now I just wish I could figure out what my instincts are regarding sending Jack to kindergarten or keeping him in preschool next year. If I could figure out precisely what my instincts were telling me, then I would listen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


To the jackass in the H3 who I let go in front of me in the parking lot of 7-11 today:

I wouldn't have been that nice if I'd realized that you were going to park in both of the remaining parking spaces.

I hope you correctly interpreted my angry stares.


To Alex who saw right through my April Fools joke today:

I thought calling you at work in fake desperation to let you know that the tree in our front yard had fallen down was very clever. Damn you for seeing through me.

Am I getting too predictable? I'm going to be doing some thinking between now and next April and one year from now, I am going to bring it. Prepare yourself.