We Interrupt This Halloween to Bring You the Greatest Compliment Ever

I think that pretty much stands on its own, but if you want the back story, here it is.

ShallowGal has been looking for advice on Twitter all week long. Like, how do you keep a four-year-old happy in a looooong line that will ultimately result in his being given a flu shot?

And like any normal person, I suggested The Big Lie approach.

(If you’re not familiar with the twitter timeline concept, read the second one first.)


And then, tonight, she needed more help. Seriously. How does the woman get dressed in the morning? She was going to a party and didn’t know what to do about trick or treaters visiting her empty home. Should she put out a bowl of candy, she asked? To which I gave this advice:


Honestly. Why aren’t all of you following me on twitter? I could solve the world’s problems. You hear that @barackobama? (Although I’ll need to hire a copy editor for my tweets first. Jeez.)

So there you have it: “Stimey—the evil, less dead Ann Landers.”

Scary (Pretend) Halloween (II)

(Super) Scary Thing #1:

The very scariest thing about this Halloween (oh, please, let it be the scariest) was when I got a call from my sister-in-law, S, yesterday to tell me that my sister was in the hospital for complications from H1N1.

That was scary enough, but then a couple of hours later S called back and started using words and phrases such as “blood pressure bottomed out” and “unresponsive” and “blood clot” and “ICU.”

Fortunately, the latter two didn’t pan out and she’s back at home now. But, oh my god, I don’t think I’ve been that scared since Loon Day. Especially since she’s in New Mexico and I couldn’t even be there for moral support. My fingers (and toes) are crossed that she continues to improve. And rapidly.

Thank you to everyone who was on Twitter last night and sent good thoughts to my sister and me. Ann, the interwebs are pulling for you. As am I. Feel better soon. Please.

*****

(Sorta) Scary (But Highly Annoying) Thing #2:

I almost burned my house down this morning trying to make toast for Sam. I, somewhat obviously, need to work on my cooking skillz. We were all happily in the TV room watching the cast of the Today Show dressed up as Star Wars characters when Sam walked into the kitchen to get his shoes and yelled, “Mom! There’s smoke everywhere!”

And he was right.

That’s the culprit circled in red right there.

I will say that I can trace the smoke trail all the way back to, and place the blame squarely upon, my dog. If she hadn’t eaten Sam’s pancakes, then he wouldn’t have asked for toast, and I wouldn’t have tried to make it, a job I am obviously unqualified to do.

I’m pretty sure we caught the toast seconds before it burst into flames.

YUM!

Consequently, I spent the entire day smelling like burnt toast and apologizing to everyone that stood within three or four feet of me. And don’t get me started on how my house smells. Oy.

*****

(Mutant) Scary Thing #3:

This:


You might not be able to tell from the photo, but this wasp (and his buddies) is an inch and a half long. These weird, huge wasps have recently shown up at our back door.

What. the. hell. are. they?

*****

(Not) Scary (at All, But Rather Totally Adorable) Thing #4:

Pretend Halloween II, Elementary School Edition was today.

Jack represented the dark side with style and pizazz.


Sam was a serious, stoic Jedi. I didn’t get a photo of him smiling until we got back to his room and he saw all the snacks.


And Quinn totally scored because he got to go to both Sam and Jack’s parties.



*****

And it’s still only October 30.

Why, Yes, Today IS Pretend Halloween.

For all of you who were saddened by Quinn’s harsh economics lesson yesterday, rest assured that he has recovered nicely.


And you may have laughed to hear Quinn ask about Pretend Halloween, but actually today was Pretend Halloween. Or, alternately, Day One of the Three Never-Ending Days of the Great Candy Orgy Halloween.

Quinn’s preschool class had their Halloween Parade today, although it is more of a Halloween Stand Around and Let the Parents Take Your Photo Event.

Quinn was a Jedi.*


I think he looks a little bit like a Jawa, but don’t tell him that or he’ll get really, really mad at you.

Damn, that kid is cute. I spent a lot of time looking at him today and being proud of him. He’s an amazing kid.


At the end of the day, all the kids were sent home with chocolate cupcakes with bright yellow frosting. I had to put a towel over Quinn’s white Jedi pants.


Coming tomorrow: Pretend Halloween II, The Elementary School Edition.

* (Okaaaaay…why does Firefox’s spellcheck recognize “Jedi” but not “Asperger’s”? Or “spellcheck” for that matter?

*****

Also, thanks to Whirlwind who sent the most awesome Halloween package ever to my kids. Costumes included.


That’s some good stuff right there.

*****

Read all about my new gig as a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast over at my review site, Things. And Stuff.

That Will Teach Me to Make Idle Promises

Quinn got out of school today at noon and we had to be at Sam and Jack’s school at 1:40 for a Wall of Fame ceremony. (Yes, yes, another Wall of Fame. Jack got on it this month, but Sam didn’t. It was quite the scandal at our house.)

Well, I had to go to Target to pick up a couple things, so I figured that Quinn and I could go there, and I could feed him a snack and he could then eat pizza at the Wall of Fame. (And, yes, it does have to be capitilized upon each utterance.)

We went around the store and shopped for what I needed, and the entire time Quinn didn’t stop talking for more than four seconds.

“I want to go to the Star Wars section. Can we buy that candy? I’m hungry. I want a hot dog. What comes after one million sixty hundred? Is infinity a number? Is Halloween tomorrow? Is pretend Halloween tomorrow? Did we buy candy? Did we buy snacks for Sam’s class? Can we buy snacks for my class? Pretend Halloween is tomorrow, right? Right? RIGHT?!?!”

Well, I think I could be forgiven if, as we were entering the Target cafe, I said to Quinn, “If you stop talking for five minutes, I’ll give you a dollar.”

The talking didn’t stop, but it did lessen, and I know I heard some counting, and as I was paying, Quinn asked for his dollar. It turns out that he had misunderstood my proposition, had counted to five, and was now demanding his twenty dollars.

So then, it turned into this whole thing with the sobbing and the sad face and the demanding of a three-dollar bill, and I finally relented and told him that if he behaved himself at the Wall of Fame that I would give him a dollar when we got home.

And then all was right with the world.


For a little while.

Quinn did some behaving and some misbehaving and somewhere along the route between Target and the school and the ride home, Quinn became entirely convinced that he was owed two dollars.

Which he wasn’t. And which he didn’t get.


I tell you, that kid is lucky I (a) gave him one dollar, and (b) didn’t throttle him.

Jack…the Jackster…the Jacksonarama.

You may have noticed that I haven’t done a lot of writing about the “autism” part of “life. autism. gerbils.” lately. (Or you may not have. Who am I to know what you notice?) I guess the biggest reason is because while, yes, we still work with Jack’s autism every day, he is kicking ass and taking names.


He seems to have evened out in school—or the school’s not telling me about his troubles. Either way, I’m not afraid of my cell phone anymore, which is good. Based on what I see when I’m in there every week, I am floored by the differences in him this year. Even the differences between now and a month and a half ago are amazing.

The thing is, I remember last year when I was sitting in what is now Jack’s class, but used to be Sam’s, and I would look around the room and think, “Jack would sink like a rock in this class.” But you know what? He’s not. His support is consistent and wonderful, he is interested in much of the work, and, I think most importantly, Jack is getting older, and his age is working for him.

Yes, he still struggles, but less. I see it with his homework. Last year and at the beginning of this year, we had some epic homework battles. He still makes me work for it, but he’s doing so much better.

And he has had so many tiny victories as well. Like when he ate this gummy worm.


Yes, I know that gummy worms don’t technically count as fruit, but Jack ate food that wasn’t brown, so I’m counting it as a win.

He does still use the front of his shirt as a napkin, but I think that’s more due to bad parenting than autism. Seriously. Sam had been taking a lunch to school for a year and a half when someone mentioned putting a napkin in their kid’s lunchbox and I was all, “Oh. Riiiiiiight.”

Jack is also getting so much better at expressing that he wants to be part of something. I always take a million photos (can you tell?), and he’ll smile or ignore or run away like my other kids. But on Sam’s birthday we were sitting down to open Sam’s presents and Jack said, “Wait! Take a picture of me with Sam!”


That had never happened before. He’s never vocalized that he wanted to be in a photo. (Unlike my other two little attention hogs.)

Add to this the fact that he comes home from school and shows me the things he drew that day at school or something else from his backpack at least once or twice a week. His eagerness to share things and experiences is amazing to me.

I do have to say that most of his sharing and eagerness and the rest is directed almost entirely at me. His little self is metaphorically plastered to me. It makes sense that these new ways of expressing himself would start with me, the person he feels safest with and identifies most with. I’m hoping that soon they will transfer to the rest of the family and then, hopefully, to friends and teachers.

I’m starting to see signs of that. It used to be that he would never use other kid’s names, and most of the time, if you asked him, he wouldn’t be able to remember them. That’s starting to change.

Then there’s empathy. Jack has always had a deep store of empathy, it’s just that he didn’t use it on the traditional targets. (The cockroach in WALL-E? Dude, Jack felt that guy.) He’s always piped up now and again with sporadic attempts to make other kids feel better or to show that he is aware of others’ feelings, but it’s happening more and more these days.

Like, the other day when I had some friends over for a Halloween potluck and there was a two-year-old who started screaming when Jack walked in wearing his super awesomely scary costume.


I took Jack around the corner, told him that his awesome costume was scaring the baby, and would he mind taking it off? He immediately started to strip down to his street clothes, and when he was done, he walked straight over to the baby and said, “See? It’s just a costume. It won’t hurt you.”

All of which was completely lost on the toddler who was vacillating wildly between OHMYGOD SCARY BIG PEOPLE IN MASKS!!!!!! and OHMYGOD A BOWL OF MULTICOLORED GOLDFISH CRACKERS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!! But he did it. All by himself.

All of which is to say that I haven’t written about autism for a while because it hasn’t been causing us a whole lot of problems right now (aaaaannndd now! the problems will start). But honestly, maybe that’s when I should write about autism. Because last year at this time if you’d told me how far Jack would come in a year, I would have cried with gratitude. And every kid with autism is different and no one can tell you what is ahead for you, but for us? What a difference.

“I Don’t Know…Some Zombie Thing…”

Alternatively titled: “When There’s No More Room in Hell, the Dead Will Walk the Earth.”

Last night, hordes of zombies descended on downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, and I was right in the thick of it. As were many other people, some of whom had no idea what was going on, but were entirely unfazed by the whole thing. Like the dude whom I overheard mutter the title to this post.

Our dedicated medical workers are always the first to fall.

All of you who thought about coming and then didn’t because of the rain and the tired and the inertia? You are so bummed, because it was, like, 70 degrees, not rainy, and AWESOME.

Fortunately, my friend Mrs. D J and her family came down and let me hang out with them. J’s son is making a zombie movie and used the opportunity to get lots of tape of free special effects. Considering that they didn’t know about the zombie walk until I told them about it, I’m pretty sure that my part in the making of the movie earned me an Associate Producer credit and a 10-share of the eventual proceeds.

Even the undead can’t be too careful about the swine flu.
Brainssss…Purelllllll…face maskssssss….

I just might have done a fair amount of jumping up and down and clapping my hands. Which, come to think of it, may have wrecked more than a few of J’s son’s shots.

“Where’s braaaaaiiiiinnnnsssssss….?”

I took a lot of photos. I wasn’t the only one though. There was a virtual swarm of paparazzi.

Some of the zombies were endearingly committed to their roles.

Some were less so. Since when do zombies smoke?

But never fear! There were zombie hunters too.

Incidentally, the zombies went to a showing of Shaun of the Dead after the walk.

Some of the zombie costumes were good, some were a little weak, all were good-intentioned, but this was the very damn cutest of them all:

Awwwww….tiny zombie….

I hit Lebanese Taverna for dinner (and the bookstore) before the walk and caught sight of my first zombies while I was eating.

The guy behind the counter asked if they were meat-eaters or vegetarians.
They said they were vegetarian. Pffft.

I spent a substantial portion of my meal trying to surreptitiously take photos of zombie dinner without being noticed. I don’t think I succeeded. Not to mention that you can’t even tell that they’re dressed as zombies because of my shoddy photography.

I really enjoyed the dedication to the role that some of the zombies showed at the walk. Especially this guy:

I also enjoyed his colorful boxers.

I leave you with these tips:

(1) To kill a zombie, you must destroy his brain.
(2) In case of an undead uprising, hope for shambling zombies instead of the newfangled running kind.
(3) Zombies can’t swim, but they also can’t drown.
(4) Head north. The zombies will freeze, but you will not. Probably.
(5) Remain vigilant.
(6) In no case should you take an actual shotgun to a casual zombie walk.

You Can Keep Your Sparkly, Dreamy Vampires—I Prefer My Ghouls Gray and Rotting, Thank You Very Much.

You may be aware that I am a fan of zombies. I find this to be a really embarrassing thing about myself, but I just can’t help it. I’ve seen many, many zombie movies, many of which are terrible, some of which are startlingly good.

I even read zombie literature. (Yes, there is such a thing.) And maybe a zombie blog.

I’m a geek.

All of this is to say that I am so excited to go to the Silver Spring Zombie Walk this Saturday. I’m not dressing up or anything, because I am not bold enough/completely geeky enough/badass enough/committed enough to do so.

But I’d like to invite you guys to go with me, because Alex is afraid of zombies and won’t go. Also, if he went, we’d have to take our kids with us, and even I am aware that dragging three small children out at 8:30 on a Saturday night to be assaulted by the living dead = bad parenting.

Jenni is going with me. That is, if you consider an offhanded response to a comment on her blog to be a binding contract. Which I do.*

Who else wants to come? We can grab dinner or a drink in downtown Silver Spring before the zombies start to roam at 9:30. The zombies are watching Shaun of the Dead (one of my top five movies ever) at 10 at the AFI, but I’ll be heading home to work after the walk. And to post photos of the walk on my blog.

If you want to come, email me at stimeyland@gmail.com and we’ll make a plan. If no one wants to go, I’ll feel really sad and unpopular, but don’t let that influence you.

So whaddya say? Who wants to get their zombie on?

* You can back out. I would understand.