Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stimey, Now Available for Speaking Gigs

I'd been waiting and waiting for yesterday to arrive for quite a while because I was going to get to do something that I hadn't done before.

"What could Stimey have done yesterday that she hasn't done before?" you might be asking yourself. And if you've been paying attention here, your answer might be, "Did she volunteer at her kids' school and remember to not curse in front of the children?"

Well, yes, I did, but I did that on Tuesday, not yesterday.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about social media for the Immunization Action Coalition. And, oh, was it fun. Seriously. I and my fellow panelists had a room full of people listening to us talk about things that I am obsessed with but that my real life people get bored of hearing about after about 16 seconds.

I think I did all right. The audience was mostly full of immunization and medical organizations looking to get involved in social media, so I was able to share some tips about how to get in touch with bloggers, and specifically mommybloggers. (In this crowd, as in my own personal world, "mommyblogger" is not a derogatory term.)

But don't worry. This isn't a post all about how awesome I am and how I rocked my panel. I'll include some Stimey buffoonery for you too. For instance, when the moderator, Val Jones, sent out an email to all of us with links to our online bios, I was particular pleased about how I came across. See, the other panelists (Shaun Dakin, Dawn Crawford, and Steven Novella) all had these lovely photographs and lists of their credentials and press appearances on their websites.

My bio includes the following sentences: "Stimey enjoys reading, writing, videography, zombies, Bob Dylan, and most things pop culture. She also has an extreme and inexplicable love of gerbils..."

Good times.

Oh. Also? When we were speaking, Val put our websites up behind us on the big screen in the room. And mine? Showcased my last post, which, if you remember, was all about how Sam was a jerk to a three-year-old.

Again. Good times.

Anyway, I think I did a good job, and I hope that the attendees got something of value from what I said. I sat in on most of the other speakers and really enjoyed them. I especially enjoyed Geoff Livingston's presentation. Plus I got to meet some wonderful people and learn about some interesting organizations and ideas, for example Families Fighting Flu and GAVI, which are both doing some great work in the immunization field.

Also, I was introduced to the Jenny McCarthy Body Count website, which I had not seen before, but pretty much sums up my feelings about her.

Plus, the conference gave me an excuse to buy me some pretty new shoes, which you can't see in the following photo, but which did not cause me to trip until after the conference when I was walking back to the Metro, which I consider to be a smashing success.


So to recap: It turns out that I'm not as public-speaking phobic as I thought I was. AND if you need a speaker about social media, autism, mommyblogging, zombies, or gerbils, I'm your gal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Lay Down the Smackdown on a Three-Year-Old Girl, by Sam

1. Invite a six-year-old friend and her three-year-old sister over for a playdate.

2. When you go outside to play, notice that the three-year-old is playing basketball with an old basketball hoop that no member of Team Stimey has even looked at for at least two years.


3. Disregard the fact that you are nearly twice as tall as the three-year-old, and claim to be playing a fair game and "just guarding her" by standing directly in front of the basketball hoop with your hands in the air.


4. Steal the ball from the small girl meandering toward the basket.


5. Ignore sad crying as you Harlem Globetrotter all over said little girl's feelings—and sports ability.


6. Repeat as needed.

7. Once the three-year-old has been driven away gives up, proudly begin making basket after basket in the hoop that is slightly lower than your eye level.


8. Ignore the basketball hoop for the rest of time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just Some Ordinary, Run-of-the-Mill Navel Gazing

I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seats last week fruitlessly waiting for me to write something, anything. You were, right? It's okay. I understand if you were all okay with having a little respite from my epic (read: loooooooong) posts.

I didn't have much to say and I was feeling a little all over the place, just sort of blah. No reason. But I just wasn't inspired.

See?


And if twitter says it's so, it must be true.

I often spend time when I should be working procrastinating by blogging. And if I've already blogged, I'll procrastinate by tweeting. But I couldn't even do that last week.


I kept trying to think of things to write about, but everything seemed forced and not funny or heartfelt. But the days kept going and Stimeyland was empty and the last thing I wrote was all about how I suck. And it was just right there at the top of the page: Stimey, you fucking suck.

I was still writing at AutMont, my new SUPER AWESOME MOST IMPORTANT SITE EVER IF YOU LIVE IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY AND ARE INTERESTED IN AUTISM GO THERE RIGHT NOW AND JOIN MY 13 RSS SUBSCRIBERS PLEASE! and also at the Junk Pyramid, but Stimeyland just wasn't coming to me.

Then, yesterday, I decided that I had to write something, so I picked some obvious blog fodder, Quinn and my trip to the apple orchard, and I started writing.

And, damn it felt good.

I'm not saying it's the best post I ever wrote, but writing it and editing it and making it the way I wanted felt awesome. It reminded me of something else I tweeted a while back in response to a question @Neilochka asked:


See, the community I have here online is tangible to me. I feel it every day and it lifts me, carries me, and helps me. Every. Single. Day. But sometimes I forget about the self-expression. And that's kind of what I rediscovered yesterday.

Somehow, after blogging almost daily for two and a half years, it is in my blood. I need to write. I love to write. I crave the feeling of putting sentences together to make people laugh, to tell you guys about my feelings, or just to put words around photos that will make my mom and my sister smile.

It feels a little weird sometimes to be so obsessed with my blog (and some of them that I read), but at the end of the day, I have a community and I get to express myself creatively to people—actual people who want to read my words.

I think that's pretty cool.

Friday, September 25, 2009

So Now We Have Twenty-Two Apples

My Quinn's preschool goes on a field trip to the apple orchard every year. As I count up kids and years, I realize that the trip Quinn and I took this week was my sixth time there. (And Quinn's fifth, even though he's only four years old—I swear the math works out somehow.) I could lead the damn tour and drive the tractor by now.

Not much has changed since year one, although the trip does get easier every year as I have fewer and fewer children to keep track of. Maybe I'll go next year when Quinn is in kindergarten, and I won't have to watch any kids. After all, the teachers always seem to have a way better time than the parents.

The farm dog is also looking more...dead...than in years past.

Please notice that Quinn's hair is exactly the same color as Tess the Dog.

Quinn was really excited about going to the apple orchard. Apples! Apples! Apples! We're going to pick apples! Look! I found an apple!

I practically had to physically restrain him from eating these old apples.

But before we went to pick apples, we visited all the farm animals, which you would think would be fun, but instead was full of exclamations of, "I want to pick apples!" and "When are we going on the hayride to pick the apples?" and "I hate the sun!"

Here's a picture of a turkey...

...and one of the farm animals.

We saw a cow, chickens, sheep, and goats. In years past, they've given the kids pellets to feed to the goats. But not this year.

The goats apparently want visitors to spend money.

As with many things, Quinn had an alternative solution.

Free food! Take THAT, goats!

Quinn took his hand-plucked grass and proved to the goats that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Brown and White Goat up there looks a little irked about the whole thing.

Next up were...more goats. And then, just past all the goat enclosures, was this sign.

Please, PLEASE go visit the Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation right now.
Goats are not a joke.

Quinn! Watch out!

Quinn: "Hee, hee, hee, hee!...I HATE the sun!"

And then there were the pigs, which Quinn adored almost as much as he hated the sun (it was really hot for about four seconds, which pissed him off mightily).

Fortunately, the baby pig behaved in a completely stereotypical way.

Quinn: "Hee, hee, hee, hee!...That pig is rolling in the mud!...I HATE the sun!"

We finally got on the hay ride that took us to the apple trees. En route we passed this "pond," also known as "the scum pit." I asked Quinn if he'd like to swim in it.

He said yes.

I may have mentioned once or twice that Quinn is a wee bit insane, right?

Finally, finally we made it to the apple trees.

Foreshadowing: Lots of apples on the ground.
Two apples really, really high up on the tree.

In years past, we've only had to walk about four feet to the nearest tree to find apples. This year, they were harder to spot. We had to hunt to find a row of trees that still had non-rotten apples within preschooler reach on it.

But once we did, Quinn was so happy. He stuffed our two bags full of apples, then carried an armful back to the hay wagon.

Oh no! My tiny hands aren't big enough to hold all the apples!

We ended up with twenty-two apples, not counting the ones we ate on the spot.

Yum!

I have to say, even after six trips to the apple orchard, we still had a great time.


*****

If you haven't had enough of me already, you can go over to Diets in Review, where I wrote a guest post, not about my diet, but Jack's. It's autism awareness week over there. (Or it was. I'm a little late.) Check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Suck. You Don't.

You know what's made this blog way less funny lately? My kids have gone back to school and aren't supplying with me with all kinds of cute and hilarious and disastrous blog fodder. We don't have time to go on outings anymore and when we do, it's just me and Quinn on a perfectly respectable walk to the ice cream parlor with a friend and her kid.

Way less funny.

I mean, I guess I could have written a whole post about how Quinn walks reeeeeeeaaaaallllllyyyy slow, but that's not exactly Quinn fell off of a statue in the Capitol Rotunda caliber now is it? So rather than trying to mine the humor out of Jack psyching out his teachers and convincing them that he was sick and had to come home today, I'm going to do something that has been weighing on a teensy part of my blogging brain for a long time.

Occasionally someone tags me for a meme or passes on a blog award to me and I leave a comment on their post saying—nay, promising—that I will respond and pass on the award or meme in a post of my own. Then I add the URL to a list in a "to write" folder on my computer.

Here's the thing. I'm never going to get to it. It's never going to happen. I'm sorry. And I know that if you tagged me for something in 2008, you're not exactly sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for my post. But I feel bad, and a promise is a promise. So, no, I'm not going to respond to the memes and awards, but I AM going to say thank you and I'm sorry I'm a loser by presenting each of you with the following badge:


This hastily whipped together badge goes to Joeymom, Cara at Fox Factors, Whirlwind, Astarte, Manic Mommy, Tech Savvy Mama, Susanica, Cathy at the Clothesline, Jessica, Thrift Store Mama, Tammigirl at If You Could See What I See, Another Piece of the Puzzle, and Kate at Upside Backwards.

The only rule is that if you're in the list and happen to see this, you should accept my apology, consider my meme obligation taken care of, and then feel no obligation to do anything else. (Any other slackers out there should feel free to use the badge to send their own apologies. Although people might wonder about you. I'm used to it, so it doesn't bother me anymore.)

Well. I feel, like 15 pounds lighter.

You'll excuse me now because I have to go think of a fun yet questionable activity to take my kids to this weekend.

*****

Bonus fun! If you want to see some very cool (and some funny) photos of my family, check out my review of ScanDigital on Things. And Stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Comments (Mostly) Welcome

So this one time I wrote a post about gerbils. And I got some fun comments from you fellow gerbil lovers out there people who humor me. And then, weeks after I wrote the post, I started getting some unusual comments in an Asian language:
出張ホスト said...

女性会員様増加につき、当サイトの出張ホストが不足中です。女性の自宅やホテルに出向き、欲望を満たすお手伝いをしてくれる男性アルバイトをただいま募集していますので、興味のある方はTOPページから無料登録をお願いいたします

I figured out that they were Japanese and set about translating them using Babel Fish. For instance, that comment above translated to:
Concerning woman member increase, the business trip host of this site is in the midst of insufficiency. To go into the home and the hotel of the woman, because the man part-time job which does the helping which satisfies desire at present is collected, the one which has interest requests no charge register from the TOP page
I have a sneaking suspicion that this comment is of an unseemly nature, although it is hard to know for sure because of Babel Fish's somewhat shaky translation.

It reminds me of this time that I had to write a letter to some Spanish-speaking people from my preschool to tell them that they had missed a registration deadline and couldn't send their kid to the school. I wrote the letter in English and then translated it into Spanish. Then, to see how accurate it was, I translated it back into English.

And the back-to-English translation included words and phrases such as "enemy" and "not welcome" and "the halls of the preschool will flow with your child's blood."

Okay, not the last one, but you get the point about how Babel Fish is not to be entirely trusted. Or, alternately, that my writing style is more antagonistic than I thought. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised to see that "enemy" in there.

Anyway, I've gotten 11 or 12 of these Japanese comments by now and they're pretty amusing.

This next is one of the most cryptic:
H it will wish to show in the helping of [o] ○ knee life and rescue section, from the woman [ero] copying [me], the movie will get! If the girl of neighborhood really being agreeable, H thing to be possible, the [chi] [ya] [u] whether!? The girl and playing summer it has become open it is concave
I'm curious as to what has become concave and whether it was really just open and concave to start with.

Oddly, a couple of these came with English email addresses. If I were really clever and bold, I would have emailed them and then posted the results of that here. But I am not that brave. But maybe I should have, because if I can heal the body of the woman, I can receive a large reward. Apparently.
The man with the amateur host of the leading part, just healing the body of the woman can receive large amount reward. The frustration human wife and the man the woman who does not have the coming out meeting seeks the man with this site and others the [tsu] plain gauze is. The one which has interest please from the TOP page
I am glad that they specified "human wife" what with these being comments on a post about gerbils and all. But I don't think these commenters are as much into "healing the woman" as they are with "selling the woman for sex."
For the woman it doesn't try doing the business trip delivery host with the manners sight? It is large amount part-time job of hourly wage 20,000 Yen. After doing no charge register, because it just waits for the call from the woman, also the trial register is welcome. Interest the one which leaned now immediately please.
Evidently the euphemism for this is "do the glee," which is a phrase I will be using with Alex from now on as much as possible.
The sweetheart you search with the net if, the male be completed do the glee. Romantic love relationship of your ideal starts from here. From the pure encounter, the etching which is divided it is anything to the encounter. From [mikushi] girl in the midst of mass influx! Story just of the coconut, now aims and it is the eye
I hope he knows how to use the coconut though, because I sure don't.
With [sereburabu] the man whom you can meet with the [serebu] woman who requests healing from heart and [karada] is collected. With this site where the [serebu] woman gets together rich from her reward guaranteeing and feeling at rest as for the man the money, as for the woman you can satisfy the craving of the body. The one which is interest by all means please from this site top page
And I get that there are rewards and guarantees and feelings of rest and whatnot, but why on my site? And, more disturbingly, why on my post about gerbils? Also, please keep your gerbil/orifice jokes to yourself, thankyouverymuch.

All of which is a long way of saying that, for the first time ever, I have closed comments on a post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm a Loser, Baby. (Kind Of.)

Check out my post at Loser Moms today about all the ways I am failing to diet.

So How is School Going?

For the past couple of weeks, people have been asking me how Jack has been doing in school. And I've been answering, "He's doing great! I mean, it's still hard for him, but he's doing so much better than last year."

And that is all true, and I am so proud of him.

But then there's the other truth—the truth that includes almost daily reports of Jack hitting other kids, his aide, or his teacher; and the phone calls that are increasing in frequency from school staffers about Jack's behavior.

His whole team knows and acknowledges that these behaviors stem from his autism, from the fact that he has a disability, but it still is no fun to deal with. He's frustrated, so he'll hit because he doesn't have words. He doesn't know what to say, so he'll imitate something he saw on TV or saw someone else do, and he'll hit. He doesn't know how to get someone's attention, so he'll hit.

These behaviors are really slowing him down in a year in which, academically, he seems to be killing it. And, unlike the beginning of last year when so many of his problems stemmed from lack of adequate support, I don't think this is something an attorney and an IEP meeting can fix.

But, that aside, school has been going really well. (And there haven't been hitting reports in the communication notebook for two days in a row. My fingers are, and will remain, crossed that this continues.)

The first couple of days that he had homework were tough. Like, it took an hour and a half of cajoling to get him to do four minutes worth of math problems. But since then, he has improved. My guys get home at about 3:30 and I let them play until 4. Then we all sit down at the dining room table and do homework.

The gold sticker? It says "Excellence," and he earned it at school.

Today Jack finished his homework before Sam finished his, which is unheard of in my house. It is so encouraging. (And, yes, my fingers are crossed and I'm knocking on wood for this too.)

He reads the books he brings home, complete with different voices for different characters. He does his math perfectly. He excitedly pulled some art work out of his bag the other day to show me. He's getting his reading comprehension questions right. He's even using his finger to carefully make spaces between words, which I find absolutely adorable.

Yes, he IS using a Stimeyland pen.

I'm coming to the slow realization—or not realization, but more acceptance—that Jack's autism is not a "developmental delay." It truly is a disability, and he is not going to suddenly catch up and be all better and just like his peers. He is going to have challenges, and they are going to change year to year, month to month, and day to day.

But that's okay. Because he's getting older and more aware and even more lovable, if that is possible.

And it's okay because I'm not the only one who gets this. Jack's team gets it. The other day the principal called and left a message to tell me about a problem that Jack had had that day. I didn't get the message until that evening, so the next day I emailed him to tell him what we were doing at about the problem.

He wasn't at the school that day, but he emailed me from his home at 9 p.m. that night. And it wasn't to tell me how Jack had misbehaved, but rather to tell me that he's doing all right, hopes it gets better, and that he's going to have Jack make some trips to the principal's treasure box for incentives and rewards.

Me. Speechless. And grateful.

So how is school going? There have been some ups and downs, and I have spent some very sad afternoons worrying about Jack. But mostly I am just so proud of him I could burst.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fartbomb

I have no idea where it came from, but that is Jack's new word: Fartbomb. He uses it like you or I (okay, maybe just I) would use "Fuck."

If something happens that he doesn't like: "Fartbomb."

If he's mad: "Fartbomb."

If he's overly excited: "Fartbomb."

I haven't heard from the school about this yet, but I'm waiting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Go Elsewhere, Just for Today

Today is a day for me to brag about some things that I'm doing elsewhere on the internet. The first thing I'm going to tell you about is something I am really proud and excited about. I've created a new website called AutMont, which features autism information, events, and hopefully (eventually) community for Montgomery County, Maryland.


Right now, its main function is as a central calendar for local people interested in autism to find meetings, support groups, classes, and fun activities. It just went live a couple of days ago, so I'm still finding my way, but I can't wait to see what direction it goes.

If you know someone who is in my area and has a connection to autism, let them know about the site. You can also follow AutMont on Twitter.

I love my new site.

*****

I also love my old secondary site, The Junk Pyramid.


I'm back over there as of today, publishing about my decluttering efforts and providing tips and resources for living a clutter-free life.

*****

And for those of you yesterday who said that the gerbil photo should be our Christmas card? Well, BetteJo was on the case. Check out what came into my email inbox this afternoon.


I think the background makes Quinn look even surlier.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gerbil Thing of the Day: Gerbils

Why yes, I have recently discovered the hysterical blog, Nanny Goats in Panties. Why do you ask?

If you think I'm weird about gerbils, you should check out how she's weird about goats. In panties. If you don't read her (and why not?), she regularly posts about the "Goat Thing of the Day." There are a surprising amount of goat things out there.

Anyway, enough about goats. On to gerbils.


BetteJo from A Bead a Day downloaded one of my photos then created and sent this to me. Not only is it hilarious because of the photobombing gerbil, but it is also quite possibly the most flattering photo ever taken of my family. With the possible exception of Quinn there on the bottom right.

I can only imagine that the inspiration for that photo was the following squirrel photobomber. This photo is probably the funniest photograph I have ever seen in my life.


That couple there had set up their camera on a timer to take a scenic picture. Instead, they got something waaaaaay better. Thanks to Fourth Breakfast for being the first to call this to my attention.

As long as we're talking about gerbils here, I'd like to congratulate Kelly at Life with 3 Boys for her new gerbil buddies. Come over to my house and talk Alex into letting me get some gerbils. Please?

Hmmmmm, what else? Oh! I'm reading my gerbil book, The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter. Guess what it's about? The daughter of a gerbil farmer. For real. I'm completely charmed by it. It's a nice change of pace to read a memoir that isn't all, "and then my drug-addicted parents locked my sister and I in a box for four days." It's more like, "and then my dad disappeared into the basement with his gerbils for four days." It's a great book, full of both heart and humor. I recommend it.

To get back to goats (because you were all waiting, huh?), look what came in the mail the other day! My Nanny Goats in Panties pen!


It is resting next to its long lost twin, the Pontificating Gerbil pen, because they are so happy to see each other. I gave Margaret (of NGIP) a pen at BlogHer and she loved it so much that she asked for my pen's number. And now I have her super-awesome pen in a special crossword puzzle book to keep it safe and to differentiate it from the 150 similar Pontificating Gerbil pens in my desk.

I think that's it. I can't think of a single other gerbil thing to entertain you with. Except this:

Geeeeeeeerrrrrrr-biiiilllll.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

DCMM: Me Too. I Get It.

I was alone at the grocery store today checking out, when a man and his son got in line behind me. He asked me a question about one of my items, then we both went back to what we were doing—me using the self-checkout, him chatting with his son.

And then, from the corner of my eye, I started to notice things. I saw the way the boy was acting, I noticed his stims, and I heard the way the father was talking to him, and it started to become clear to me that this kid had a developmental disability similar to my son Jack's. And I wanted to say, "Me too! Me too! We're part of the same club!" 

But of course I didn't, because I think that might have been weird. 

We chatted a little more, about the M&Ms the boy had non-verbally convinced his father to buy and the fruit that he was going to try to get his kid to eat first. (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!) I smiled at them, and when I left, I told the boy, "Enjoy your M&Ms!"

"Say 'thank you,'" the man said to the boy, just like I have said to Jack a million times before and in the same tone. 

I had said, "Enjoy your M&Ms," but what I really wanted to say was, "I get it. Your son reminds me of mine. Your son is adorable, and you are so good with him. I'm so glad I met you. I get it." 

I don't know a lot of special needs families in real life, so when I run across one, I feel compelled to join them, to let them know that I am part of that special club, to acknowledge that they are doing a great job. But to do so would be to draw attention to the different, to call out the man and his son. 

So instead I smile and chat with the parent. I interact, but don't force a response, with the child. I don't intrude, partly to not stress out a child whom I don't know and partly to not make the parent feel exposed. 

But what I want to say is, "Me too. I get it." 
Original DC Metro Moms Blog post. 

Jean writes about Jack's autism and oh so many more things at Stimeyland.

So, We Went to See the Doctor Today...

...and we saw a doctor!

I decided to not disrupt my entire family, so Quinn and I caught a bus at 7:30 this morning to go to his 8:15 8 a.m. appointment. The bus ride was only 15 minutes long and was entirely silent. But for Quinn's incessant chattering.

We've been to the doctor's office so many times recently that Quinn finally wasn't upset at all to go in. I don't think he quite believed that we were going to actually see a doctor. We got in right away, before I was even able to fill out the new HIPAA form. After the nurse took Quinn's weight (42 pounds—holy schnikes!) and blood pressure, Quinn thought we were done. And he was stoked.

But he agreed to wait to see the doctor, although as soon as he walked in, Quinn said, "No shots." Fortunately the doctor agreed.

After his exam, the doctor told me that Quinn has flat feet and needs arch supports. If arch supports don't help, we have to come back for x-rays and blood work. I'm betting on the arch supports.

The doctor told Quinn he could go get a sticker, but Quinn wanted something from the prize box. But the prize box is only for kids who get vaccinations. And the doctor was all, "If he wants something from the prize box, we can give him the FluMist."

And I was all, "Okay."

And Quinn was all, "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

But he got it and he was fine, except he tried to give me the flu by wiping his live-vaccine-y nose all over my sweatshirt.

And Quinn got to pick out a bubble wand from the prize box.

Please notice the bubbles.
And the flat foot-causing shoes.

We had to kill time until Alex picked us up. Quinn spent that time being ecstatic that he didn't have to go back to the doctor for several months.


I took him to school (which is going awesome for him, by the way) and after school I picked him up to go get arch supports, which Quinn took as code for "Torture Devices Mom Is Going to Put in My Shoes."

Again: "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The expensive shoe store the doctor sent us to had staff that seemed to really know what they were doing, although I nearly choked when the guy showed me what looked like two little pieces of foam and told me that they cost SEVENTY-ONE DOLLARS.

When I asked if I could just move them from shoe to shoe, the guy looked at Quinn's shoes and said, "Well, they aren't going to work in those." He says I need shoes that tie so they support his foot all over.

So he pulls out five different New Balance sneakers and lets Quinn choose what color he likes. By this time, Quinn had forgotten about arch support as torture device and he's really excited about SUPER SPEEDY NEW WHITE, SILVER, AND RED SHOES! Which cost north of $50.

I also bought a wallet each for Quinn and Jack, because kid's wallets are surprisingly hard to find and they actually had them at this store.

I walked out, having spent one hundred and forty dollars on a shoe-store trip for a four-year-old. Can you imagine the shoes I could have bought if I spent a similar amount on shoes for myself?

Quinn and his solid gold shoes.

But doesn't he look supported and orthotic?

The cookies didn't hurt in the "Make Quinn Happy" scheme of things either.

All I have to say is that, shin pain be damned, if his feet start to grow fast, I am going to bind those things so he can wear those shoes for the next five years. And that shin pain damn well better go away.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Hate Doctor's Offices

I missed the president's speech tonight because I was at back to school night (and then I had to watch America's Next Top Model), but I'm curious if he addressed any of the planks in my health care reform platform. Because the problems are just getting worse.

I got a phone message from a friend today who evidently passed my house four times today going back and forth to get a doctor to fill out school medical forms, and don't even get me started on those, because GAH. Also, shit. Sorry I forgot to call you back, M. I'm not saying we don't need any Stimey reform.

What I'm here to complain about today is my second attempt to take Quinn to the doctor for the same damn thing that I've been trying to take him in for for THREE WEEKS. See, he's been having shin pain for a while now and there was one afternoon when we were on vacation that he was screaming and crying. (That also could have been due to his being strapped into his carseat for several hours, but he was really upset about his legs too.)

Shin pain is probably growing pains and not a big deal. But there is a small possibility that it could be something bad. And when I called to make an appointment in the third week of August and just said "shin pain" (not to be confused with "chin pain," which I erroneously Googled), I kind of expected to be laughed off for calling for a sick appointment.

Instead, I was put on hold for ten minutes and then the receptionist came back and told me that she was going to have to schedule me in a week and a half because shin pain requires a half hour appointment, but call back right away if it gets worse or he develops a fever. Based on that, I kinda think it's worth going in.

So last week I went in for my 8 a.m. appointment. Since we only have one car, everyone had to pile in at 7:30 in the morning and drop Quinn and I off for his appointment. Then they drove to school drop off and then Alex came back to pick up Quinn and I. This completely disrupted my entire family. Alex was late to work, Jack had a rough day because he was really tired from being woken up early, and Quinn was unnecessarily traumatized by thinking he had to go to the doctor.

Of course, he didn't see the doctor, because the receptionist had booked us into the practice's other location. The receptionist I saw that morning was semi-apologetic and semi-it-just-might-be-your-fault. Then she scheduled me for mid-morning today, which happens to have been Quinn's second day of school.

No, I take that back. It was his classmates' second day of school. Quinn missed it. But it was okay, because we were going to see the doctor.

Right.

When we got there, the receptionist (a different one) asked me if I was there to pick something up. When I told her we had a 10:30 appointment, she looked at her computer, then typed, then looked at the computer again, then typed a little more, then said, "Oh, we called to reschedule that appointment."

And I was all, "No. You didn't."

Because they didn't. See, that's the thing about rescheduling an appointment. You have to actually speak to the person you are rescheduling the appointment for. Or at the very least, leave a message. We got none of that.

Aside: Today Jack's OT office called to cancel his appointment. They called and left messages on both my home and cell phones. And they asked me to call back to confirm. THAT is how you reschedule a motherfucking appointment.

In retrospect, what I should have done was sit down and refuse to leave until I saw a doctor, but I wussed out and accepted an 8:15 appointment for tomorrow morning. Stimey family, prepare to be disrupted! (Also, they called four hours later to confirm my appointment—my 8 a.m. appointment. Ack.)

There was, however, one silver lining. Quinn was absolutely delighted.

I actually took this photo after our LAST appointment was canceled.
But it's cute, huh? And look how happy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Team Stimey and Water: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Important note: No one drowned. All is well.

A few weeks ago some friends of ours told us that they were having a potluck at a place called Cunningham Falls on September 5th and that they would be sending us an evite. When September 4th came and almost went without the promised evite, I started to think we had been issued an unvitation. Fortunately they pulled through at the last moment and remembered to invite us.

Cunningham Falls is a state park with a swimming lake and a playground and hiking trails and so much more. We were there mostly for the swimming lake. And we were kind of excited to see the waterfall. We were promised waterfall! Even if only implicitly.

We had our usual bumblefuck of a time getting to our destination, which was a little over an hour away. Or, if you're Team Stimey, a little under an hour and half if you add in our wrong direction, end up driving over a one-lane bridge, missed turn route.

But once we got there it was worth it. The water was warm, the kids were delighted. All was well.


Except for the fact that Alex sat down on our towels near our friends and I spent the next hour and a half solo-watching my kids, surrounded by nearly every anxiety trigger I have:

• All three kids in a crowded place? Check!
• Enticing locations for kids to wander off toward? Check!
• Risk of drowning? Check!
• My sensory hatred of water and sand? Check!
• Fear of dropping my camera into a lake? Check!

Finally Alex wandered over to chat and tell me we were going to eat lunch and summarily had his head bitten off.

At lunch we asked our friends where the falls were, because at the lake? No falls. My friend told me that you hike to the falls and the trail head is just across the parking lot. I asked how long of a hike it was. "Oh, less than a mile," she answered. She may have also mentioned something about uphill, but in my excitement over a short jaunt to a waterfall (which in my mind was a scenic waterfall cascading into a clear swimming lake), I may have glossed over that part in my head.

We walked up to the start of the trail and were confronted by two trails. One pointed to the falls, was wide and gradual, was smoothly covered in gravel, and said "0.5 mile." One pointed to the falls, was twisty and steep, was spotted with rocks and twigs and logs, and said "4/5 mile."

Guess which one my kids were intrigued by?

But 4/5 of a mile doesn't sound like much, right? It pretty much sounds like about a half hour of hiking with a bunch of small kids, right? When Alex asked if I really thought we were making the right decision, in my excitement over an energetic rock climb (which in my mind was quick and easy and ended with that scenic waterfall), I may have glossed over that question in my head.

So we started up the steep route. And it was steep. And you know what? It turns out that I am incredibly out of shape. And it turns out that three smallish children need fewer rest stops than you think they would. It also turns out that the sign that said "4/5 mile" was a big fat Lying Liarson, because that hike was at least 16 miles.

Here is a photo of my kids running up one of the smoother slopes.


And here is Quinn, about a half hour into the hike. Is his mouth open? I'm guessing yes, because he didn't stop talking the whole time.


You may also notice that we are wearing our most durable hiking shoes. If you see Crocs and flip flops, you probably also think the emperor was naked.

We did find this rock.


This is what Alex and I saw in the rock:

(It's a lion.)

We also saw a deer, which was cool. The hike was fun, and I was impressed that my kids didn't complain at all. (Alex might have done some complaining.) But I steadfastly believe that the 4/5 mile sign was talking about distance in terms of how the bird flies. Because we went up and down and back and forth and over and under. And there was a little bushwhacking too when we accidentally wandered off the trail for a couple minutes.

Twice Quinn somersaulted off of rocks, narrowly escaping devastating spinal and head injuries. Thank goodness small children are so pliable and floppy.

We finally got to the falls, which hikers walking down assured us were "totally worth it." I took a photo. You can't actually see the falls in the photo, so I've helped you through the magic of Photoshop.


It was far less impressive than I'd hoped. And it was covered with people climbing on it. But still, a waterfall!

I had a little conversation with myself in my head about how the munchkins were going to want to climb up there, and how I didn't want to go, and how I was going to make Alex go with them while I sat at the bottom, and how this was totally fair because I'd watched the kids for an hour and a half in the water at the beginning of the day.

Here's how that went for me:


I didn't show you photos of us getting up the rocks because most of those prominently feature my ass in the middle of the frame as I shoved my kids up the rocks. I told them we weren't going up any farther, but they mutinied and insisted on touching the water. So we climbed up even farther on the steep, smooth rock.

Hey! I just found a new anxiety trigger!

We fought our way through the crowds and the munchkins touched the water. The whole time I was imagining one of my kids (three guesses which one—his name ends in "ACK!") using the waterfall as a slide.


I forced my kids to walk down, and two of them complied. Three guesses which one didn't, first two don't count.

I did some yelling about, "Quinn! Stop right there. Sam! Stand with Quinn! Don't let him move! Jack! Jack! Jack! Come back! JACK!" And then I ran after Jack and wrestled him back to the group.

Alex, contentedly sitting on a rock at the bottom of the waterfall, took this photo, which I was prepared for.


The awesome thing after all of that was the warning sign that was at the top of the other trail, but not the one we hiked. Nice.


But before we found that trail and that sign, we had to actually locate the trail. And Alex, given a choice between believing me when I said the trail was over there, and Sam, who said the trail was over here, believed Sam.

We should have known we were on the wrong trail based on the fact that it was covered in smooth boards. Turns out that we were on the disabled trail that led from the disabled parking lot to the falls. Of course, us being us, we didn't figure that out until we walked all the way to the parking lot and back.

I did get this photo though:

What do you think? Christmas card?

The downside about being on the disabled pathway is that it had railings and no real way to get off of it and over to the trail that led to our parking lot. (Without a lot of backtracking on our part, and we were getting tired.)

So we decided to jump.


Alex went first and I made merciless fun of him when he hesitated for a moment. I may have called him a wuss.

And then I got up there and freaked out. It was way higher than it looked from the pathway. Kettle? Meet pot.

We took the easy path down and it was non-eventful with the exception of some bickering between Alex and I:
Him: "See that stick Quinn is carrying? Why don't you pull the one like that out of your ass?"

Me: "You said something very rude to me and you used visual aids, and that was hurtful."
Two hours after we set out on our 45-minute hike, we were back at the lake.

I forced Alex to be in charge of the little dudes while they took a last swim. I very happily sat on a towel and chatted with my friends. At some point, I could see that Alex was trying to corral them in order to leave. Alex was standing on the beach. Quinn was compliant. Jack was not. Sam was trying to drag Jack in. Jack was having a grand ol' time.

I knew Jack was in trouble when I saw Alex taking off his sneakers and wading in.

You can't quite see Alex's facial expression in the following photo, but it was a good one.


And there you have our day-long Stimey Moment. It's never quiet when you're around us, and there may be some dirty looks and sarcasm, but we almost always make the most of what we have.