Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Much-Needed Respite (Kung Fu Style)

I wasn't supposed to be in town this weekend.

I was supposed to be at the beach with my family and and our friends. But then I had my freak out and realized that there were things I had to take care of here and now. Things I couldn't do from a beach. It broke my heart to tell my friend that we weren't coming. (True to form, she was nothing but gracious about it.) But it turned out to be a good decision. I am going to be much more prepared for Jack's IEP on Monday than I would have been if I had gone.

But still, sad. I was really thrown for a loop by the situation. For a lot of reasons.

I've been treating this weekend as a cram session on Jack and autism and IEPs, but I took a couple of hours off earlier today to attend an event I thought I was going to miss. And it turned out to be a really nice time to decompress and chill out.

DC Metro Moms Blog was holding an event sponsored by Kung Fu Panda and Hewlett-Packard in DC this afternoon. We drove down, me reading my new copy of From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide the whole way.

I would have gotten a little extra reading in while Alex tried to park, but it's hard to focus (or highlight) when your car embarrassingly mom-ish minivan is careening through the streets around the International Spy Museum. Turns out there are about three spaces in downtown DC large enough for a minivan. And those are filled by Ford Expeditions.

Anyway, the trip was well worth it, as I got to chat with some of my favorite DC Metro Moms. My kids got to obsessively watch and play the new Kung Fu Panda video game. And Alex got to eat an excellent early dinner.

I am aware that there were activities for the children, but my kids were interested in two things: the desserts and the video game.

In true Team Stimey fashion, the first thing my kids did when they walked in the room was to pick up delightfully pink-frosted cupcakes from the dessert table. And then Jack licked the tongs. And then he dropped his cupcake frosting-first onto the ground.

After I picked up the cupcake, got a new one, and (don't worry) gave the soiled tongs to a waiter, we entered the room. My kids got a glimpse of the TVs with the video game waaaaaay at the end of the room and it was all over.

Sam did stop to get a bowl of gummy bears. It took him all of four seconds to learn to pick them up with the provided chopsticks. Apparently that's how you teach kids to eat with chopsticks: candy.


Jack leaned some exciting new kung fu moves from the video game. Moves that he showed off later on the street and, unfortunately, attempted on one innocent passerby. It's okay though. No one was harmed.


Quinn was the only one of my kids not entirely sucked into the video game. He ping ponged back and forth between that and the chocolate chip brownies. A combination of the sugar, the pandas, and the balloons made him chat incessantly about pandas on the way home.

Fun fact according to Quinn: Pandas don't sleep.

Photos from the event are posted at HP's Snapfish, which I use on nearly a daily basis (and love, by the way).

HP, Kung Fu Panda, and DC Metro Moms, you took my mind off of some hard stuff for a couple of hours. Thank you. (But I refuse to thank you for the incessant playing in my head of Kung Fu Fighting. I'm not happy about that one bit.)

Oh, and by the way, Kung Fu Panda people: mission accomplished. You created some obsessive fans. On the walk back to the car, Sam said, "After that party, I'm even more into the movie!"

My own little kung fu panda.

Friday, May 30, 2008

YOU Are the Best. Thank You.

Wow, you guys are amazing. Your comments, emails, and phone calls helped bring me back from sort of a dark place. Thank you for the hugs. Thank you for the suggestions. Thank you for the encouragement. I hope to get back to each of you personally, but haven't been able to yet.

It absolutely floors me that Jack and I have all of you out there. Thank you so much! You know who you are.

*****

In other, happier news, Quinn seems to have potty trained himself. In the one week since we were forced to throw out Quinn's diapers, he has stepped up to the plate (or the toilet, as it were).

As a matter of fact—and I know I'm jinxing myself here—he's even stayed dry at night for the past three nights.

Apparently if you wait until waaaaaaay after your child is ready to potty train, it goes pretty fast.

The only snag is that he's having some trouble pooping in the potty. You know this page in Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel? (Edited for decency and pixelated because...ew.)



Yeah.

The opposite of what you would expect, his aim with his pee is all right. With his poop? Not so much.

As a matter of fact, the first words Alex said to me today were: "Don't go into the yellow bathroom. There was an incident with Quinn. I will clean it up."

I'm still trying to decide if this is better than diapers.*

* yes

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yet Another Brain Dump/Freak Out

I am in the throes of a panic attack. Mostly because I am drowning. Drowning in my self-made lake of work and responsibilities, yes, but also drowning in fear and apprehension about Jack's upcoming IEP meeting. Upcoming, as in, coming up on Monday at the crack of the damn dawn.

You all know I've been struggling with the decision of whether or not to send Jack to kindergarten. I've also been struggling with the decision of where to send him if not to kindergarten. And what services I should demand if I do send him to kindergarten. And how to pay for whatever the school district won't.

While I've been visiting schools and asking questions and mulling this all over and turning it over and over in my head, I realized today that Monday is coming fast. I need to figure some shit out and I need to figure it out fast. And I realized how really un-goddamn-prepared for this meeting I am.

I also realized how unprepared I am to know what Jack needs. Christ, I don't know anything about autism. I mean, I guess I know more than the average person, but compared to all of you other ladies out there, I don't know shit. I'm learning. And I'm trying to learn more, but I don't know enough.

I don't know enough about autism to know what Jack needs. And I don't know enough about the public school system or IEPs to get him what he needs. And I wish I had a fucking crystal ball that could tell me the things that would help him the most, because I would make them happen, no matter what, but as far as I know, no such crystal ball exists.

And I've been worrying that I haven't been putting enough of my focus on Jack. That I've been jauntily living the life of a mom and wife and part-time worker and entrepreneur when I should really just be focusing on being a special needs parent.

I've been doing some thinking about this lately, about what it means to be a special needs mom. Even without this IEP breathing down my neck, I have so much on my plate, and I've started to wonder if that's okay.

Is it okay to spend so much time blogging? I love it and it makes me happy, but maybe I should be spending that time learning about Jack. Is it okay to be trying to start a videography business? It's fun and fulfilling and creative, but it's time-consuming and expensive. (Hopefully not expensive forever...) Shouldn't I spend that time and money on Jack? Isn't he more important?

When I finally get my first chance all day to sit down at 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon and I just really want to do a crossword puzzle and decompress for a few minutes, but that time coincides with Jack's arrival home from school, shouldn't I really be utilizing that time for him? (Or, God forbid, one of my other kids?) Shouldn't I be strong enough to put my puzzle down, hunker down on the floor, and play with my children?

The struggle to find a balance between self and child is hard enough with "typical" kids. What does a special needs child do to that balance? Especially when there are two other children in the mix?

Usually I think I'm a good mom for Jack. But there are days that I think I am not the best mom for Jack. Today is one of those days.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hallelujah!

Speaking of which, my hearing (finally) came (mostly) back.

Praise Jeebus.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Like Mother, Sorta Like Son

I have my theories about Jack coming by his issues honestly. I've heard that lots of parents don't get their own diagnoses until their children get theirs. I don't have a diagnosis, but it's not for lack of my own issues.

There are lots of quirks I share with Jack. There are also lots that I don't. Both Jack and I have sensory issues. But while Jack gravitates toward sensory input, I shirk from it.

I believe that, at the very least, I have Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as Sensory Integration Disfunction (or is it the other way around?).

I broke the news to Alex one day while we were driving. "You know how I'm always thinking that I have one disorder or another?" I asked. "I think I have Sensory Processing Disorder."

He kindly (and quickly) came back with, "Maybe you have more than one disorder." Thanks, Sweetie. (And by "Sweetie," I mean, "Jackass".)

I do enough oversharing here at Stimeyland, so I don't need to list all of my crazy symptoms here. (I'll parse those out when I need blog fodder.) Suffice it to say, when we got home this evening and there was barely perceptible music coming from a house down the street, it took everything I had not to (completely) freak out. I had to abandon my kids' bedtime routine and retreat to a back room with my iPod Shuffle.

It's kind of a bummer, but I think it's helpful for me in my interactions with Jack to have some sense of what it's like when you're absolutely driven toward (or away from) something. It's also been educational for me to realize that I am not just weird about things, but that I am wired in a way that makes me weird about things.

Having a name and a cause for my quirkiness doesn't make it any easier to deal with music from across the street or, say, putting my hands in water, but somehow it does make me feel better about it. And that's a start.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

DCMM: Survivor: Kindergarten-Style

Send him to kindergarten or don't send him to kindergarten, that is the question. Recently I have been obsessing over whether to send my young son, who just turned five this month, to kindergarten next fall with the rest of his peers. Part of me really wants to keep him in preschool for an extra year.

See, my son is on the autism spectrum. And while he is very smart, reading and doing some math at age four, his social development (among other things) is behind that of other children his age. Lately I've had a lot of encouragement from his teachers and doctors to send him to kindergarten next year. And I've started leaning in that direction.

And then I read this. A kindergarten teacher in Port St. Lucie, Florida, led her students in a discussion of a child's negative qualities and then conducted a poll that resulted in his class voting 14-2 to kick him out of the class. The child, Alex Barton, is in the process of being diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

I cannot even describe my feelings when I read the first couple of blog posts I found on the subject. My concerns with sending my child to kindergarten stem largely from a fear that the other kids will ostracize him. The thought that a teacher would allow that to happen had occurred to me. The thought that a teacher would actively encourage, and even instigate it had not.

Apparently Alex had been disruptive and, as his punishment, the teacher made him stand in front of the class while his peers called him things such as "disgusting" and "annoying."

Not surprisingly, Alex is devastated and has not been back to school since.

Honestly, regardless of Alex's disability, this is reprehensible behavior by a teacher. Coupled with the disability, it is shockingly abusive.

And now I'm left wondering about my own child and his chances for success in kindergarten. I'm pretty sure none of the teachers at his school would engage in this type of behavior, but then again, I wouldn't have thought that any teacher would.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean blogs about autism, and everything else having to do with her life, at Stimeyland.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Well Children

I'm trying to get my entire immediate family to a doctor in a four-day period. I went yesterday for my uncooperative ears. I'm trying to get Sam in tomorrow for his allergies. Maybe Alex will break his leg or something on Sunday.

Today was Jack and Quinn's turn. They had their annual checkups today. You can see the biggest effect of this checkup over here. [Hint: I'm being forced to parent.]

But the saddest part of the checkup was when Quinn got one shot and Jack got four. I put a little thought into who should get vaccinated first and I decided that Jack would be less likely to be upset by Quinn's tears and screams. So Quinn went first.

Yeah, he was pissed. And then, after the injury of the shot, the nurse insulted him by putting a Bugs Bunny band aid on his leg. Again, he was pissed.

I was right in thinking that Jack would be unbothered by Quinn's cries for mercy. He kept saying, "I'm going to be brave," and then plastering a big, fake smile on his face. When he started getting stabbed the smile went away.

Although the nurse did compliment me on my child-restraint talents.

[Note: Those talents do not come from regularly forcibly restraining my children. I used to work for a vet and learned how to restrain uncooperative, unhappy patients who are getting shots/blood draws/toenail clips.]

Jack was not insulted by the band aids, but on the way home he did offer up his own sad appraisal of the situation:

"I have holes in my body."

This might be the last time they're happy to go to the doctor for a while. I might have to leave them home when I take Sam tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thanks For the Free Medical Advice!

You know you're desperate when you start asking for medical advice on the internet. I mean, surely the internet wouldn't give me bad medical advice, right?

Most of you suggested I go see a doctor and beg that doctor to fix my ears. And I did. (Eventually. It's a long story that I'm not going to go into now, but this ear congestion episode has led me to switch doctors.)

I just choked down the four pills I have to take every 12 hours (antibiotic, decongestant, and acidophilus). I'm hoping that the miracle of modern medicine will greet me tomorrow morning in the form of ears that are usable for their intended purposes: hearing and balance.

Thank you, everyone, for all the good and kind advice!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Please Help. For the Love of God and All That is Good in the World, Help Me.

You guys, I am desperate. I got off an airplane EIGHT days ago and my ears still have not cleared.

Decongestant didn't work.

Plugging my nose and blowing didn't work.

Yawning didn't work.

Ear drops to rid my ears of wax didn't work.

Waiting eight days for them to clear all by themselves definitely didn't work.

I NEED my ears to clear. I am about a day away from trying ear candling, which, as far as I can tell, mainly seems to involve lighting a candle and jamming it in my ear.

Suggestions?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Birthday Party: A Timeline

Friday, 11a: Instead of planning for Jack & Quinn's joint birthday party, write about how I haven't planned for Quinn & Jack's joint birthday party. 24 hours to go.

Friday, 11:30a-Saturday, 8:30a: Futz around. And sleep.

Saturday, 8:30 am: Find Alex's rendering of Darth Vader for "Pin the Light Saber on Darth Vader." Also find the action figure he modeled it on.


9 am: Sweep porch for second time. Stupid millions of tiny little seed leaves. Otherwise known around these parts as "tree sex."

9:30 am: Good weather! Yay! Long grass! Shit. Alex starts to mow the lawn.

9:45 am: Hear Alex cursing loud enough to be heard over the lawnmower from across the yard.

9:50 am: Retrieve bucket for ice and drinks. It's the cricket bucket. Shhh. Don't tell my guests.

9:58 am: Alex breaks lawn mower. Bent blades dig giant dirt patch in back lawn. Decide that mowed strips can function as finish line for impromptu races.


10:10 am: Desperately search for bandanna for Pin the Light Saber on Darth Vader. (Heretofore referred to as Pin the LSODV.) Crap. I have decluttered too thoroughly. Sam claims to have found one, but it turns out he's found a bag with a bandanna print on it. He pulls it tightly down over his head. I briefly consider it before realizing that no kid will let me come near him with that thing. Find one of Alex's ties instead.

10:18 am: Alex tries to convince me that lawn mower breaking was (1) not his fault, and (2) not worthy of being put on the internet. (How do you think that went for him?) "It's not my fault," he says. "I just went too close to that tree." That, my darling, is the definition of "fault."

10:20 am: In an attempt to blackmail me into silence, he locks me out of the house. My banging on the door brings Sam and Jack, whom Alex has coached to dance and chant, "I'm not going to let you in." Sam dances and chants. Jack opens the door. Can you guess who is my favorite? How'd that blackmailing work out for you, Alex?

10:40 am: Jack hurts his hip. His request for a bag of ice coincides with my entry into the house with a 16 lb. bag of ice. He is completely delighted.

10:45 am: Lock most of the pets upstairs. Put out perishables (fruit & veggies) and desirables (chips).

10:47 am: Explain the concept of "double dipping" to Quinn.

10:52 am: Sit and tap feet.

11 am: First guests arrive.

11:02 am: Brilliant guest suggests using cloth napkin for Pin the LSODV. Duh.

11:05 am: Dance party ensues in smallest, dirtiest part of my home.


11:07: Chaos ensues.

11:30 am: Try to corral children for Pin the LSODV and other party games. Kids are not really interested in organized activity. Manage to lure them for one game of Pin the LSODV by awarding tiny trophies for "winning." Rampant cheating ensues.


11:40 am: Take hilariously unflattering photo of Quinn brandishing his trophy.



11:45 am: Both of a friend's kids fall and hurt themselves. While sitting on the couch trying to comfort them, she bonks their heads together. Much crying ensues. I realize that there but for the grace of God go I.

Noon: Serve pizza, followed by awesomely home-baked and decorated cake. Plus ice cream!


Noon-thirty: Piñata. Fully expect kids to bash at it for twenty minutes before Alex finally takes it down and destroys it himself. Surprisingly, Sam knocks it in half after only Jack and Quinn have taken turns. Wait for tantrums from other kids who didn't get to hit the piñata, but they are too busy scavenging for candy and toys to be upset.

12:30 pm: More chaos and fun.

2:14 pm: Last guests leave. Sigh happily over a super fun party.

2:20 pm: Eat some cake. Here's a photo of me eating my cake:


That's not me, you say? Well, it's someone eating my cake.

2:30 pm: Bask in glow of (1) a party well thrown, and (2) the fact that there will be no more birthday parties in my family until October.

Fini.

Friday, May 16, 2008

DCMM: This Year's Party Theme is "Slapdash"

I've found that one of the things I'm good at as a parent is being prepared. I'm rarely caught without an extra diaper or a desperately needed snack, and if we're going out somewhere, I usually have everything we need. And then some.

The same thing goes for my kids' birthday parties. I'm always prepared with plans, invites, guest lists, and activities ahead of time. Not so this year. This year I am totally screwed.

I throw a good party, if I do say so myself. Especially children's birthday parties. I tend to go simple (a sundae-decorating party here, a trip on a trolley there, some water balloons waaaay over there), but I always have a theme (e.g. cooking, trains, beach).

This year I planned a joint party for my 5-year-old and soon to be 3-year-old without properly thinking it out. And by "planned," I mean "set a date."

I chose guests that my kids like and play with (which is no small feat, considering one of them doesn't much care for other children) and who have properly aged siblings that complement the theme of "Forced to Have a Joint Party."

Hey! I have a theme!

Suddenly, I have 16 kids coming, a party date of tommorrow (!), an unready house, and no idea of what activities to force the children to participate in. I'm not one of those people who thinks it's important to have a clown, a pony, and a moonbounce at your child's catered birthday party, but I do think I should greet my guests with something more than, "Um, hi. Here's some cake."

There's nothing like wrecking two kids' birthday parties in one shot.

How's this sound for a consistent theme? Musical chairs, followed by a rousing game of Pin the Light Saber on the Jedi, followed by (mumble, mumble), and (mumble). Then pizza and cake (topped with a Transformer for one child and Thomas the Tank Engine for the other). Then the kids can beat the hell out of the Darth Vader piñata my mom bought my son as a decoration for a different party. Then goody bags (filled with dinosaur, race car, and Winnie the Pooh paraphernalia). Then home.

I'm not completely panicking though because, fortunately, three- and five-year-olds are not very picky when it comes to parties. I think I have the main things covered: cake and goody bags. And ice cream.

Also fortunately, birthday party preparedness is not a pre-requisite for good parenting.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

See how the party went at Jean's blog, Stimeyland.

And Now For Something a Little Different...

I tend to write only about myself (and the poor, innocent victims also known as my immediate family) here at Stimeyland for a couple of reasons:

1. I am incredibly egocentric.
2. I don't really feel that it is my place to write about about other people and their lives.

I also tend to only post photos of myself and my innocent victims as well. And I don't use names longer than initials for those other than said innocent victims.

Today we here at Stimeyland are breaking all the rules because of a huge accomplishment of two important people in my life:

Ann & Stephanie graduated from medical school!
(You may know them as "my sister A and her partner S.") See? They really exist:


Aside from the excuse to go visit some family in New Mexico and a reason to get away from the apparently torrential rains that plagued the DC area while I was gone, this was the real reason we went on our smooth-sailing vacation.

Both Ann and Stephanie have worked really hard, done some soul searching, made some huge life decisions, and created huge changes in their lives over the past few years. If anyone deserves the joy of their current lives, it is them.

Armed with two adorable little boys, a supportive and accomodating med school, and an incredibly supportive family (you wouldn't believe it if I told you), these two women have done some incredible things.

I could go on, but I'd probably bore everyone but Ann, Stephanie, and their respective moms. Mainly I just want to say:

Congratulations, Dr. Ann and Dr. Stephanie! You guys are going to be some kick-ass doctors! I'm so glad that I get to be part of your lives.

*****

In a more traditionally Stimeyland-esque manner, I would like to make the following comments:

1. After all the new doctors were hooded, I badly wanted to feign an illness and yell, "Is there a doctor in the house?" but I was not brave enough.

2. Alex gets super-kudos for taking care of our three kids during the two-hour (!) graduation ceremony so I could sit back and watch without worrying about anything.

3. Bill Richardson, it was cool to hear you speak at the graduation, but I wish you hadn't been there. I would much rather be voting for you for president.

4. During the ten hours of travel time on the trip home from New Mexico, Quinn did not stop talking for one. single. second.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We Don't Do Anything Half-Assed in Stimeyland

I bet when you duplicate DVDs, yours are only 100% completed, huh?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Plague Vacation

I have all kinds of wonderful things to say about my trip to New Mexico. I want to tell you about Jack's birthday (5!), my sister and her partner's graduation from med school, seeing a whole slew of boy cousins playing together, and having fun with friends and relatives.

I want to tell you all about that, but not right now.

The days we spent in Albuquerque were fantastic. The nights? Not so much.

Our first night was mostly a harsh lesson in how to fit five people into two full-size beds. Especially when it turns out that your six year old is, like, human being sized. When did he get so big?

I was in a bed with Sam and Quinn and Alex slept with Jack. Partway through the night, I figured I would get more sleep if I moved so that my head was at the foot of the bed. Consequently I spent the rest of that night getting kicked in the face.

At some point I tossed Jack in with his brothers and tried to move into Alex's bed, but it didn't stick. Jack came back, leaving us with even less room.

It was kinda lame. Unfortunately, night number two had me wishing for the golden days of night number one.

Night number two started well. All three kids fell asleep in the same bed. Alex drifted off in the other bed. I was happily taking advantage of the free wi-fi when I noticed Sam gurgling and flailing his arms in the air.

Because what's a vacation without a little bit of vomit?

We cleaned the sad little dude up, piled the soiled comforter and his tainted blanket in the bathroom, and I sacrificed my sweater to keep him warm. I thought we were done. Little did I know.

Sam puked more times over the course of the next five hours than any of my kids have ever puked in a 24-hour period. We used every single towel and washcloth in that hotel room cleaning up puke. Every time we thought we were done, he would throw up again. It was incredibly sad.

I think it was about midnight when Sam wistfully looked at our clean bed and asked to sleep in it. Nicer parents might have let him. That's all I have to say about that.

We were up and down pretty regularly after that. Alex and my relatively spacious bed was invaded by Quinn, leading me to resort to head to toe sleeping again.

I think it might have been 4 a.m. when we realized that, although our chain lock was locked, our door had drifted open. Nice.

We never did figure out what caused Sam's episode. His head hurt for a while the next day, but then he fully recovered. We think maybe a mixture of the altitude change and dehydration took him down.

And, honestly, there were three or four other health crises/sicknesses/emergencies over the weekend that I haven't even bothered to mention. My sister and her son spent the night in the ER. I had to make an emergency call to one of my hometown doctors. Everyone had a cold. It was seriously The Plague Vacation for us.

So now it is 9:30 p.m. on night number three. Everyone seems to be asleep but me. There are three kids nestled into one bed, and there is a big empty space waiting for me in the grown-up bed. I'm wondering what the night will bring me...rest and relaxation so I'm ready to travel home tomorrow? Or some new and as yet unexperienced plague?

I'm not a praying gal, but seriously: Pray for me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a wonderful day full of moms, kids, grandparents, swimming, food, and the zoo. And Alex, who was the only male over age 7 that I talked to all day.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. I couldn't ask for more from you. I'm very lucky to have you. Happy Mother's Day to my aunt M. I absolutely adore you and am thrilled to be able to spend a few days with you. Happy Mother's Day to my stepsister S and your adorable son Little E. I love having you as a sister. And watching you with Little E is not only fun, but has let me see what a wonderful mother you are.

Happy Mother's Day to my sister A, your partner S, and your lovely sons I and J. You're a beautiful family with clear love for each other. It's been tremendous to see your family grow over the past few years.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. Moms who are old(er) and moms who are young. Moms who gave birth through biologic means or by the adoption process. Moms whose children are with them and moms whose children have grown up and left. Moms who selflessly (or painfully) gave their babies to other families and moms who have lost their children.

To all moms, who take on the greatest responsibility known to humankind by having a child. To all moms, who open themselves up to the greatest hopes and scariest fears by caring for a child. To all moms, no matter who you are.

Happy Mother's Day. You rock.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

Trains: The goddamn Thomas the Tank Engine book Quinn made me read 50 times on a three-hour flight this morning.

Planes: Two flights. One difficult. One totally awesome due to severe napitude.

Automobiles: Rental car, for which we had to wait with three kids who had been trapped in small spaces for many, many hours. For some reason, Jack tried to throttle a tree. True story.

*****

A Quiz:

1) If your husband says, "On the plane I'll take Sam and Jack and you take Quinn," do you:
a) Assume that one child is easier than two and agree without a second thought? After all, when he's strapped into his car seat in the car, he's not that big of a problem.
b) Realize that Quinn is far more likely to be a major nightmare than the other two and tell your husband, "Hell to the no!"

2) If you are on an airplane sitting between Quinn and a chatty 20-something, who do you talk to?
a) The oddly chatty 20-something who is going out of her way to let you know that she doesn't mind sitting next to a kid, but whose chattiness is keeping you from taking care of your child.
b) Quinn. You'll never see chatty gal again, and you should probably keep your toddler busy.

3) If you are a father and your six-year-old starts to puke on an airplane, do you:
a) Gesture frantically to your wife who is sitting three seats to your left on the other side of a chatty lady.
b) Take care of your child.
EDITED TO ADD: Alex strenuously objected to this quiz question. He did some frantic gesturing and used words like "total" and "bullshit." So in the interest of fairness, I will change (a) to: "Gesture frantically at your wife who is sitting three seats to your left on the other side of a chatty lady. Then take care of your child. Then fold barf bag up and place it on your tray table without complaint, where it will sit, looking politely like a sack lunch, until a flight attendant wanders by twenty minutes later to take it."

4) If you are on your second flight of the day and the plane hasn't taken off yet, but your toddler already seems to be asleep, do you:
a) Wake him up in an ill-fated effort to make him more comfy.
b) Follow the cardinal rule of "Never wake a sleeping child on an airplane, even if you lose a limb due to lack of circulation because he is leaning on an important artery."

5) If your child is snoring loudly and is clearly having trouble breathing around the gigantic boogers you can SEE in his nose, do you:
a) Forget any lesson learned from Question 4 and try to scrape out said boogers with your fingernail.
b) Let the kid snore.

If you answered a) to more than one of these questions, we could use you on Team Stimey. If you answered b) to more than one of these questions, what are you doing here? Do you just come here to make fun of me?


*****

My high point:
My brief moments of brilliance in the Houston airport where I led the kids in a rousing game of Simon Says and laid out a blanket on which we had a "picnic." Kudos to Alex for packing such an excellent lunch.

My low point:
Although I packed everything I might possibly need for myself for the next six months, including two kind of hair brushes and three pairs of shoes, I forgot to pack toothbrushes for my children. Well, it's not like they're permanent teeth, right?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Celebrating Stimey

Mother's Day will last for almost a week around these parts.

Quinn's class held its annual tea to honor mothers on Tuesday. Jack's class celebrated on Thursday. Both Jack and Sam each brought home a mother's day gift or card from school today. And on Sunday, I get to celebrate the actual day with no less than seven mothers. (And seven boys under the age of 7, but that's a whole other story.)

I've said it before, but I love Mother's Day. Maybe the card companies made the holiday up (Fun fact: they didn't), but when your card is handmade by your child, there is nothing better.

And what does Christmas have on watching your child hold gifts he made for you as he introduces his class before they sing songs about how much they love you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

DCMM: Always a Bridal Gown, Never Clutter?

Recently, whilst in the throes of a decluttering project, I came across my wedding dress packed away in a box. It rested atop a box full of Transformers from my husband's youth, and underneath a box of old coats.

I've gotten pretty good at making decisive decisions about my clutter. I'm even learning how to get rid of sentimental items. But the wedding dress threw me for a loop.

Unlike with the Transformers (nod along when the husband swears he's going to eBay them, and then throw them away when he forgets about them in six or seven years) and the box of coats (donate, donate, donate!), it seemed that I would be crossing a boundary by getting rid of the dress.

After all, I wore this dress on one of the most important days of my life. It is one of many symbols of my marriage. It is beautiful. It cost hundreds of dollars.

But...

I wore it exactly once. And I will never wear it again.

I wrote about my dilemma at my decluttering blog, The Junk Pyramid, and asked for opinions. I was surprised by the response–on both sides. (And that people cared if I kept or donated my wedding dress.) I posted a poll and the overwhelming majority of respondents said I should donate the dress.

To be honest, I was relieved to see the results. Although I didn't know it when I wrote the post, I mostly wanted to let someone else use it. I just needed some other people to tell me it was okay.

Because (1) I don't need it, (2) I'll never use it again, and (3) it's taking up a good amount of space. If that's not a classic description of clutter, I don't know what is.

And after all, I have more photographs of this dress than of any other item of clothing I have ever owned. It's not as if I will forget the day if the dress moves on.

I briefly considered trying to eBay, consign, or flat-out sell it, but the right thing to do seems to be to donate it. I was lucky enough to be able to afford a beautiful dress on my wedding day. Many are not.

One reader suggested two places I could donate my dress: Brides Against Breast Cancer and The Brides' Project.

My nine-year wedding anniversary is May 29. I plan to have given away my dress by then. Hopefully it will give some other happy bride the magical start to a wonderful marriage that it gave me.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean declutters at The Junk Pyramid and blogs at Stimeyland.

You Know You Love Her...

Kelley. You know you love Kelley. You know that if there's anyone in blogland that would be a whole hell of a lot of fun to hang out with, it's probably Kelley. Especially if you got some wine into her, and gave her a full night's sleep ahead of time.

Unfortunately Kelley is too hoity toity for North America and has chosen to be located in Australia. Well, that has finally bitten her in the butt, because guess where BlogHer '08 is being held?

(Hint: Not in the Southern Hemisphere.)

But why should she suffer because there is an ocean betwixt she and thee?

That's why some of us who (to use a Kelley word) LURVE Kelley are bringing her to BlogHer with us.

If you want some good blogging, go visit Magneto Bold Too. If you want to learn how to bring Kelley to BlogHer, go to this post.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spring Photos, Now With More Beach

You know how the school picture companies do individual photos in the fall? And then they do class photos in the spring? And then they take even more individual photos after that in a blatant effort to make you buy them because you can't let perfectly good photos of your child go to waste?

Whatever happened to the days of one damn photo a year? That's what I got all through school. Then all those individual pictures were put together on one sheet and that qualified as a class photo. Clearly, this is how it should be.

Anyway, I am a shameless school photo buyer. I know it's a total scam, but the sentimental fool in me (and I stress "fool") needs to have them.

But the spring photos? No way, no day. One. Photo. A. Year.

Dammit.

Although I'm almost tempted to buy this one because of the sheer damn awesomeness of it:


Goofy ghost Sam on a beach? I think this might be my favorite school picture yet.

Okay, I'm not really going to buy it. ONE PHOTO A YEAR!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Terrible Twos, My ASS!

This is common knowledge to many, but age two is totally fun. Age three sucks ass.

At least I think it does. Or will. Quinn turns three in a couple weeks and he has turned into a complete nightmare. Somehow I expected that my sweet, chatty, fun two-year-old would stay that way.

Instead, he's turned into a freaky, strident, obnoxious almost three-year-old.

I mean, I guess there are good things about him, but he's always bossing us around and getting mad at us when we don't follow his directions, and holding grudges and stuff. It totally sucks.

I could itemize his lameness, but then this would be a really long post and Quinn would grow up to hate me. (I guess there's like a 50/50 chance of that anyway, but lets try to keep the balance in my favor.)

I have either blocked out the three year old years of Sam and Jack, or the two of them were were not as completely insane as Quinn.

I decided to see if what I am enduring is normal by taking an informal straw poll.

My straw poll consisted of this: At a park playdate, I asked a friend of mine if her three-year-old is insane. She said no, but her older child apparently was. And then a passing mother overheard our conversation and stopped to tell us that three is the worst. Especially if you have a newborn. (I have vague memories of having a newborn and a three year old. And a two year old.)

What I learned from this is that (1) I am very thorough with my straw polls, and (2) age three is sooooooo bad that desperate mothers are willing to interrupt complete strangers to complain about their children.

I really wish that the "terribles" would be over when the Q-ball turns three, but I'm a little bit afraid that Quinn's "terribles" will last until he's twenty-three.

Friday, May 2, 2008

What Sam's P.E. Teacher is Teaching Him

"I want to have a food fight.

It's a sport.

Miss I. says so."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Perfect Post

I've never awarded a Perfect Post before, but when I read Swistle's The Facts (For Some People), it felt like it was time.

The Original Perfect Post Awards 04.08

I discovered Swistle not too long ago and have really been enjoying her blog. This post resonated with me because it described so much about motherhood and the individuality of the experience without being judgmental or exclusionary. And her last paragraph is perfect.

You can find more Perfect Posts at Petroville and Suburban Turmoil.