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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.