I Can’t Think of a Title. Really.

I went to an autism information fair tonight. There were a lot of vendors there, from public agencies to schools to camps to special needs horse-riding places. It was cool. I came home with a couple of pamphlets.


I have some reading to do.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, which put on the fair, was clearly thinking of their audience when they put together the bags they handed out for people to collect information in. Each of the bags contained this:


which, if Jack ever finds it, will probably turn into his most treasured possession.

I ran into a local autism blogger there, but I don’t know that she publicizes that she is in Montgomery County, so I won’t out her here, but she knows who she is. We had met once before and she spotted me first. I had a total deer-in-headlights reaction to her saying my name because I was completely unprepared to see any of the three people I know in real life who have autistic children.

Not to mention that I was dressed a little bit like a bag lady, having had somewhat of a hectic day that ended in my layering many layers of non-matching clothing over each other.

And then someone from Mysterious Local Blogger’s child’s school asked how we knew each other and there was a loooooong pause as I tried to figure out if I thought she was “out” about her blogging and I think she was trying to telepathically tell me not to out her, and finally I muttered something about, “we met online,” and she said something about us meeting through a listserve, which was entirely plausible if not technically true.

Anyway, Mysterious Local Blogger, it was good to see you. Sorry I was all sweaty and incoherent.

This is the third autism-related lecture/meeting/fair/thingy that I’ve been to in less than a week and it got me thinking. There are so many good resources out there, but it’s hard to keep track of them all. I’m thinking about maybe putting together an online calendar of Montgomery County autism events. This wouldn’t be a listserve or a bulletin board or anything else. It would just be a calendar. Do any local people know if something like that already exists?

I know I really need another project about as much as I need a gaping hole in my head, but I think this could have real value. And I’ve decided to not hotly pursue my special education advocacy career until Quinn is in kindergarten (although I am lukewarmly available if you know someone who needs help), so this might be a good way for me to do something worthwhile without breaking my back doing it.

Also, this is me we’re talking about here, so if it does happen, it’ll probably happen in 2012.

Well. I’m about autismed out for the day. See you tomorrow.

*****

Oh! Thank all of you for your lovely comments on yesterday’s post about how Jack thinks I’m awesome at computer stuff. ParentDish even picked it up and made some lighthearted fun of me with it. I just want to let you all know that I actually thought the whole thing was kind of hilarious and I’m okay. I definitely do have my, “I’m the worst mom in the world” moments, but that wasn’t one of them. There are many deficits to my personality (see encounter with Mysterious Local Blogger above), but taking myself too seriously isn’t one of them.

But after reading your comments, I now think that I’m the BEST mom in the entire world. You can find me resting on my laurels for the next six or so months.

My Mom is Good At…

Pretty much every Monday morning, while Quinn is in preschool, I volunteer in Jack’s kindergarten class. I love doing it. The kids are hilarious, his teacher is grateful, and Jack loves having me there.

I’m there during his reading group when the kids are broken into four small groups and rotate through their three activity centers and their teacher-led reading group. I helped the kids at Table 1 today. I’m assuming that Table 1 was a first step in creating a mother’s day card because the kids were supposed to write a complete sentence about, “My mommy is good at…” and then draw a corresponding picture.

My first group wrote nice things like, “My mommy makes me sandwiches,” and “My mommy cooks really good food,” and “My mommy loves me.” One kid wrote, “My mommy makes good food like IHOP,” and drew a picture of his whole family sitting around his kitchen table.

When Jack got to Table 1, he drew a picture of me with my iPhone.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute before I tell you that then he added my laptop to the picture and drew a stick-Jack peeking over the back of the computer. His sentence? “My mom is good at playing Trace* & is good at typing.”

Except he spelled “typing” like “typeing” and left a big space between the “ty” and the “peing” so I at first I thought it said “& is good at peeing.”

And I totally am good at peeing, but I don’t really need it on a mother’s day card.

So, anyway, I spent the rest of the time I was there thinking of all the other things he could have written down: “My mom spends too much time on the computer.” “My mom neglects me all the time.” And after he used the magnetic letters at Table 2 to spell “Bolt” instead of the vocabulary words they were supposed to be creating, I added, “My mom is really good at turning on the TV.”

It’s like a mother’s day card and a stab in the heart all rolled into one.

* This is an iPhone game that Jack is completely obsessed with.

The More You Know…

Today is an awareness day that is near and dear to my heart. The subject of this awareness intimately affects my family, and one member of it in particular, although we all deal with the consequences.

Yes, dear readers, today is National Hairball Awareness Day.


No, really. It is.

And, yes. I’m aware. Oh, believe me, I’m aware.

I was happily wandering around my house the other day when I stepped in a big old puddle of cat barf. Because I’m really classy and know all about the correct way to use Twitter, I immediately went to my computer and wrote:


And because I have the best friends in the blogosphere, Niksmom came right back at me with the information that Friday—today—is National Hairball Awareness day. When I expressed incredulity, because, c’mon, really? she sent me proof from her local newspaper:


You may celebrate Arbor Day. I say, why be so mundane?

If you follow me on Twitter (and now that you know how scintillating the conversation I take part in there is, why aren’t you?), you may have noticed that shortly after my cat barf tweet I told Niksmom that she is the most awesome person in the entire world. You know why? She custom made the ribbon with that awesome graphic of the cat horking up there.

She even researched what colors should be used. According to the article she looked at, purple represents animal abuse. (Although she mentioned to me that she hoped they meant animal abuse prevention.) Orange (my favorite color, incidentally) represents animal protection.

Also, my cat that barfs all the time just had very expensive dental surgery yesterday, so if I’m lucky, I won’t just get hairballs today, but bloody hairballs.

And what the hell is it with me, my readers, and weird animal things?

Please, For the Love of God, Don’t Tell Sam

Today and tomorrow are kindergarten orientation at Jack’s school. Seeing as how the kindergarten teachers and classrooms need to be available to welcome next year’s kindergarteners, this year’s kindergarteners don’t go to school today and tomorrow.

Jack is super pleased about that.

Sam is not. He feels it is terribly unfair.

After shoving an unwilling Sam out of the car at drop off, I decided to take advantage of the day, and so piggybacked on my friend L‘s plans to go to open gym and then a nature center. But first, Jack and Quinn played in the backyard for nearly an hour and shared and cooperated and chatted. They are a good duo.

And remember how Jack was all disconnected the other day, and I was all conflicted? Today Jack was On. His. Game. It was awesome. He was so happy at the gym. The joy on his face was incredible. And, yeah, he mostly played by himself, but he was cognizant of the other kids around him.

It was a totally awesome hour at the gym except for when I was watching Jack gleefully jump on the trampoline and some lady brought a sobbing and distraught Quinn over to the lady who was supervising the trampoline to see if she knew who this neglected kid’s parent was. Because he couldn’t find me, and was sad. Nice.

Then we continued to follow L and another friend around Montgomery County to a nature area because they were meeting yet another friend there who had to pick up pond water to deliver to a tadpole. I know. I thought it was weird too.

But what wasn’t weird, and was in fact super awesome, was the fact that there was a pond to find tadpoles and minnows in. There were geese to honk at us.


There was even a bamboo forest. Repeat: a bamboo forest. Does it get cooler than that? I think not.


Especially if you like to pretend you’re a panda bear. And both Jack and Quinn do.


Plus there was mud. And a creek. And a three-year-old who swore that he could walk on the rocks and not get wet.


How long do you think that lasted?


Not long.

Then I bought them ice cream. In an effort to assuage Sam, I bought him an ice cream too, so he’d have one when he got off the bus. He was totally thrilled about it until he found out that his brothers had gotten ice cream too.

God forbid Jack or Quinn tells him what else they did today. (Shhhh.)

Commander Blue Bear Goes to Goddard

Quinn’s playgroup went to the Goddard Space Center Visitors’ Center today. It was terribly fun. The delightful group included such blog luminaries as WhyMommy (Guess what? It was her idea we go there. Shocking, huh?) and Heather from Penny Possibilities. Good times.

I could tell you what we did there and how we learned stuff and had a wholesome good time, but I think you may know that that may not be where I’m going here. When Quinn and I were reviewing our photos after we got home (and laughing hysterically, because he’s three, and I’m like a three-year-old), I came up with other plans for this post.*

Also, you should know that Quinn was calling himself Nermal for some reason.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

COMMANDER BLUE BEAR GOES TO SPACE!

It’s never easy heading out into the unpredictable vacuum of space. But for those with the desire, the courage, the training, and the knowledge, space can be an adventure of the most tremendous kind.

You need a good space craft…

…a good crew…

First Mate Nermal, at your service! **

…and an intrepid leader!

Talk about The Right Stuff!

It’s never easy to say goodbye to your loved ones. The uncertainties of space travel make every last second count. And every last kiss all the more special.

Yeah, they’re both boys. You got a problem with that? ***

You really should have more of a bone to pick about their questionable hygiene.

Commander Blue Bear is not the type of astronaut to leave anything to chance. He is truly a commander of his entire ship, from leading his crew to checking the rocket mechanics before launch.

Be careful down there, Commander Blue Bear!

Everything checks out okay. Ready to go. T minus…

Three…

Two…

One…

BLASTOFF!

The unfortunate thing is that the commander forgot to buckle his seat belt. Never forget to buckle your seat belt on a space mission, folks.

Don’t worry. He’s okay. First Mate Nermal and
Peon Mom extracted him.

And then lots of things happened in space and it was all very dramatic and there were lots of close calls and, hell, let’s say they discovered a whole other planet and they named it, oh…I don’t know…Stimeyland Bearpiter.

Needless to say, Commander Blue Bear’s lovah was happy to see him return.

That’s a romantic dip, not a murder.

The only thing left was for Commander Blue Bear and First Mate Nermal to go over the mission reports.

Job well done, men. Job well done.

* I only had to stage a couple of these photos once I came home. I think it might be embarrassing that I took this many photos of a stuffed bear for no apparent reason.

** Or does a first mate belong on a boat? Obviously I didn’t learn that much at the visitors’ center.

*** I’m not sure, but I think this may be the first gay stuffed bear astronaut kiss ever published on a blog. We break a lot of ground here at Stimeyland, people. A lot of ground.

Two Things

1. Do you read Sue at My Party of 6? Because if you don’t, you should. I’ve been reading her for many months now and find her to be thoughtful, clever, and hilarious. Which is an awesome combination. In a stunning coinkydink of synergy, it turns out that she is writing about me today. Me! ME! MEEEEEEEEEE!

She wrote more nice things in a row about me today than anyone has ever said about me. I loved her before. I super love her now.

Go check out her blog. And say nice things about me in her comments. And add her to your reader. She’s great.

(Incidentally, if you’re trying to use the Google voice search on your iPhone to find “my party of six blog,” it is extremely likely that you will end up with results for “my party of sex blog.”)

2. You may know that Jack is supposed to have a paraprofessional somewhere in his vicinity all day every day, while he is at school. Today I was volunteering in the classroom and his aide was absent. And there was no one else there at all. It was me and the teacher. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Plus, I’m about 1000 percent sure that Jack isn’t the only kid in that class legally required to have support.

Clearly, this is a violation of Jack’s IEP. Clearly, this is not the only time this has happened. Also clearly, I’m sure it is difficult to always find a substitute for the spot. And clearly, I’m sure budgetary woes dictate that the school probably doesn’t want to pay for substitutes if they can get away with not doing so. Clearly, that’s kinda not my (or Jack’s) problem.

So my question is this: What is the best way for me to bring this up? I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, I don’t want to ruffle any feathers; I just want Jack to have the support that he needs. So what do you think? A note to the special educator in charge of his team? An email to the principal? An exposé in the New York Times?

I will happily take any and all advice.