The Tripwire Was Anti-Climactic

Some of you—and I’m looking at you here, Jen—have asked what happened with the tripwire. See, I forgot to tell you because the actual tripwire turned out to be way less interesting than Alex’s response to Jack’s initial query. But while I knew how it turned out, somehow I forgot that I don’t actually have a Jack-cam running in the sidebar to alert you to his doings.

That might be extreme. Even for me.

So here’s the end of the story. Well, to begin with, it turned out that Jack wasn’t really trying to kill me. In fact, he even made a warning sign.

Because, while he IS a terrorist, he is a RESPONSIBLE terrorist.

Here is a photo of the actual jump rope tripwire:

Let’s just pretend that Jack’s face isn’t some weird, horrible, Jacob’s Ladder-type blurry and that I didn’t have to Photoshop pants onto Quinn to hide his nakedness and the fact that he had his hand down his underpants.

I figured that someone should trip over the thing, so when I went to bed about 30 seconds before Alex, I turned out all the lights and hid in the hallway to survey the situation. I’m sorry to report that he didn’t fall (see what I did there?) for it.

So, altogether, sort of a disappointing/no-catch trap.


Unless…that was the decoy tripwire and there is another one hidden elsewhere.


Really, you can never be too careful around these people.

Autism Unexpected: Repetition


So much of autism, in my experience, involves repetition. There is rigidity, stimming, preseveration, and scripting. The familiar seems to be comforting, so the familiar gets repeated. There are other reasons for these types of reptitions, but at my house the repetitions seem to serve the function of sensory input and soothing.

I know that I have a couple of stims—the autistic apple doesn’t always fall very far from the tree, right? For instance, when I go to sleep, I twitch my toes in a repeating pattern. That’s part of the reason my husband sleeps waaay over on his side of the bed. It drives him nuts.

Fortunately for both my autistic son, Jack, and me, this type of repetitive behavior in Jack doesn’t bother me like the toe twitching bothers my husband. Jack definitely has several repetitive behaviors, but they seem to make him happy and they’re not self-injurious or overly problematic. For the most part I really don’t mind. I figure that if it helps him cope, then good for him.

Except for the burping.

A few months ago Jack started burping. All. The. Time. It was so bad that I half-jokingly threatened to get him “de-burped” at the doctor. (This totally backfired on me because he decided that he wanted to be de-burped and then started asking for it. When I finally broke down and told him I’d made it up, he cried and cried and cried. Don’t lie to your kids, people.)

The burp turned into something of a stim for him, I think, meaning he used it as a repetitive, self-stimulating behavior. But whereas Jack is a sensory-seeking kind of person, I am most definitely sensory averse. And the burping got on every one of my sensory-avoiding nerves.

After telling him to stop didn’t work, and the de-burping threat misfired so spectacularly, we waged a war of ignoring. And we eventually won. He stopped burping every four to eight seconds. Although I think it may have had less to do with the ignoring and more to do with the distraction of starting first grade. Since school started in September, we have had four lovely months with nary a burp. (Except for your run of the mill six-year-old-boy gross-out burps.)

That brings us to this week. Winter break. Day upon day of far less stimulation than Jack is used to. And guess what’s back? Yes. The burping. Only this time it is accompanied by a nasal snort. I don’t think he’s sick either. I think he’s just snorting.

I’m hoping that when Jack returns to school in January that his burping goes away again. And I wouldn’t mind if the snorting went with it. I’ll take most any other repetitive behavior in its place.

Jean blogs about life with her family at Stimeyland, where she was too ashamed to write the story about the de-burping fiasco. She also runs an autism-related events website at AutMont.

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on December 28, 2009.

I Think the Gerbils Are Pissed at Me

But first, this:

That there is gerbil photography at its finest. Or its Stimeyest. Whichever.

So, Heather, you should stop reading now. Your gerbils are fine and all, and Alex is being disciplined, but the following images may be disturbing to you.

Is she gone?

Okay, good.

I have strict rules against picking up the gerbils, but I’m not against petting them now and again. I do try to limit petting to short sessions and only one child at a time because I’m terrified of scaring them (the gerbils, not the children) into heart attacks, and I don’t want to have to explain that to the gerbils’ mom, Heather.

She’s standing right behind me isn’t she?


Anyway, I’m very caring to the gerbils and very concerned about their heart health, so don’t think I condoned what happened shortly after this morning’s gerbil feeding/paper towel tube giving/short petting session.

It all started after Sam petted a gerbil and then Jack wanted to and Alex said, “But his arms are too short.” (They aren’t, by the way.)

Hmmm…I wonder what Jack is so happy about here:

Maybe it’s the same un-condoned activity that is happening here:

And don’t for one second think that my paparazzi-like behavior implies approval of Alex’s actions. Because it doesn’t. Between shots I did a lot of jumping up and down and yelling, “Put him back, RIGHT NOW!!” Which, now that I come to think of it, was probably not very calming for the gerbils and their pea-sized hearts.

I’m guessing you all fall into two—no three—camps on this. Camp 1: No big deal. I’d take my gerbils out of their biosphere all the time. Camp 2: This is shockingly inappropriate treatment of gerbils. Camp 3: Heather.

Next—an elaboration of the situation:

A) Super fast, squirmy rodent. Think of his little heart and its tiny arrythmia.

B) I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out that THIS IS NOT ME.

C) Joyous, but careless child, who is not even looking at the damn gerbil.

D) Predator.

E) Safety.

And now a completely discombobulated gerbil.

Gerbil says, “You guys are assholes.”

You can come back now, Heather. I’m thinking about torturing the tadpoles next, so you can stick around for that.


Jack comes out from his bedroom where he’s supposed to be asleep.

Jack: “I need to make a tripwire.”

Alex: “Okay. Where do you need to make it?”

Really, Alex? Of the dozens of possible responses to that statement, that’s what you’re going with?

Then, a few minutes later, Alex came in to see me and say, “Just to let you know, the children have set a tripwire to capture you.” Then he wandered off with a shrug, remarking casually as he walked out of the room, “You should go check it out.”

Like I’m falling for that.

Merry Christmas!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you’re having a lovely day. And I hope that even though I used my bad scanner, you can see that I chose a photo for our holiday card that includes three children in dirty shirts, one child who isn’t looking at the camera, and one kid with a black eye.

It kind of seemed like us though.

Much love and happiness sent to you from Team Stimey today.

A Semi-Long Post With Photographic Details of How We Spent the Day

Note: I’m kinda phoning this post in. Feel free to skip it if you’re not my mom. It’s like Christmas is making me soft or something.

Well, first, I took a nap at like, ten o’clock.

Then we went sledding. This next picture shows literally ALL of the sledding that we did.

We seem to have miscalculated the snow depth/child weight sledding differential.

But the slide still worked.

But then there was a lot of foot dragging and yelling and complaining about walking in the snow. Not by me this time. (It was Quinn.) For the record, we are a five-minute walk from the park. So it’s not like we were walking the Iditarod or anything.

Then we made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Santa. And for us.

Jack licked the bowl I used to melt the butter in. That kid loves him some butter.

Then I took another nap.

And then a lot of time passed and we did some stuff and we ate dinner. Then Jack jumped up and moved the screen in front of the fireplace so Santa would be able to get through. And then Alex and I both died of cuteness right there.

I bribed the children into sitting in front of the tree to get a cute photo.

This isn’t the worst one or the best one, but it was the funniest one.

So I took this glamour shot of my dog in front of the tree.

Take THAT, human children!

Of course, you can’t forget the reindeer dust. (Oatmeal to feed the reindeer and sprinkles so the reindeer will see the sparkles from the air and know where to land.)

I think that makes us all ready. Sam moved the Lego table with all the advent calendar stuff into the living room so Santa could see it. We made chocolate milk. We laid out cookies.

We Alex read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the munchkins.

Then we sat up for the next sixteen hours waiting for our kids to fall asleep.

You know why I have all this time to blog? It’s because they refuse to sleep. In fact, Sam is in the TV room right now complaining about how it’s hard to fall asleep.

Alex: “Pretend you’re in a field with a big fence. And on one side of the fence are a thousand dogs. Picture them jumping them over the fence.”

Sam: “I only see one dog.”

Alex: “Then picture him jumping over the fence a thousand times.”

Well. You can imagine where this went from there.

Wish me luck. I may be up late.

Also, Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Enjoy Your Friday!


Alternatively Titled: “You Have To Try to Pass Along the Crazy When Your Kids Are Young, Or You Run the Risk That It’s Not Going to Stick.”

Are you talking to me? ‘Cause I’m the only one here.

Seriously, isn’t that just about the surliest motherfucking gerbil you’ve ever seen?

My friend Heather
lent me her gerbils for a few days. She brought them over today, along with some cookies. It’s like she thinks I’m doing her a favor by petsitting. I’m not sure she understands quite how pathological I am in my adoration of these little guys. If you haven’t noticed, I am highly amused by them.

Screw you, tadpoles! I have cuter animals to take care of!

As soon as Heather left my house, I took out my camera to document the gerbils’ arrival. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s like a sickness. It’s just so much fun to take their photos. Does it make me sound crazier if I tell you that I think they like it? Because I think they do.

They especially seem to like flash photography. They’re media whores.

But here’s the thing. Guess who asked to get out his DSi to take a photo of the gerbils so he could have one for himself?

Yes. My first born.

And do you see how that gerbil is posing? I am NOT making this shit up.

Furthermore, Sam made a Christmas tree for them so that they could celebrate the season.

Oh, crap. I hope they’re not Jewish.

Sam was inspired by the other art taped to the back of their cage. Heather’s daughters made the three pictures there. They, in turn, seem to have been inspired by Jack’s “Home Sweet Home” sign that he made for the gerbils the last time they were here.

To her credit, Heather has left the little sign up.

Probably mostly because she knows that you don’t fuck around with a crazy person, but still, I think it’s nice.

So does whatever this guy’s name is:

Hi! My name’s Robert! Or Noki! Who the hell knows?

I can’t tell them apart. Is that bad? I do know one is fatter than the other, but I don’t remember which. I think that the surly one up top is the fat one. Which seems weird, because I know fat people are jolly, so don’t you think fat gerbils would be as well?

Anyway. Strap in. I’ve got these guys until 2010.