Monday, May 31, 2010

The Perfect Storm Kicked My Ass This Weekend

Oh, hi! Guess who has a sorely neglected blog? Also guess who was happy to get her unread posts in her Google reader to under 800? Hint: It's the same person.

I was hit by a perfect story of busyness this weekend. Thank God for that third day of no school/no work for Alex, is all I can say.

(And by "no work," I mean "no work outside the home," lest the stay-at-home gods strike me down.)

Here's the problem with maintaining jobs and interest in, like, a dozen different enterprises: Every once in a while they all have deadlines at the exact. same. time.

Consequently, I didn't have any time to write this week/weekend.

Further consequently (it is too a cromulent phrase), now that I have a free few minutes, I have nothing to write about.

Don't feel obligated to comment. I'm just letting you know that I still exist.

If you do feel like commenting, why don't you let me know if you have suggestions for Camp Stimey topics for this summer. Last summer we did transportation, government, science, sports, and some other ones that I am too addled to remember.

The only topic I have so far is a week on the Human Body, which will include a day on Sexuality because I keep waiting for Sam to ask and he keeps not asking and I figure he needs to know because he's almost nine.

You may not want to come to the Camp Stimey Meet-Up that day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DCMM: Code Red: School Isn't Like It Used To Be

When I was a kid in elementary school, we had semi-frequent fire drills. The alarm would go off and we would all line up and file outside. We'd patiently wait until the principal told us we could go back inside and once we were back in our classrooms, she would let us know how fast (or slow) the school got outside safely. Because I grew up in an earthquake area, we'd also have earthquake drills when we would crouch under our desks until we got the all clear to come back up.

Kids these days have a whole different set of dangers to prepare for. Yes, they learn how to evacuate the school, but they also learn to prepare for the possibility of school invasion and dangers from people, not just nature.

I was in my second-grader's classroom this morning, reading a book to my son and his classmates when the assistant principal's voice came over the intercom telling us that we were in Code Blue. The teacher snapped into action, taping a black piece of paper over the window in the door and going through the instructions for what we should do during the Code Blue and what to do should it turn into a Code Red.

Having been to PTA meetings where these codes were discussed, I knew that a Code Blue means that there is something going on in the neighborhood that doesn't directly affect the school or maybe the problem is that a teacher can't find a student. A Code Red is called when there is a direct danger to the school.

When the Code Blue was called, my biggest concern was that I'd be trapped at the school past the time I was supposed to leave to pick up my preschooler.
I finished reading the book and then the assistant principal's voice came back. Code Red. Hunker down.

The teacher and I closed all the blinds, turned out the lights, made sure the door was locked, and then sat in the dark with the kids lined up against the wall. No one spoke or moved, even when someone in the hall rattled the doorknob and pulled on the door.

I'm going to ease your tension right here by telling you that the Code Red was a drill. They were testing us. But, jeez, it was a little scary. The teacher did a good job of keeping the kids mellow and explaining the whole process before and after, but you could tell that they felt the tension. I have never seen a group of kids be so quiet so fast and so well.

The whole thing made me a little sad for this generation. Never once as a child did I have to prepare for a school invasion by locking doors, closing the blinds, turning out the lights and hiding against the wall.

Turns out that fires and earthquakes aren't the scariest things after all.

Jean writes about her life at her personal blog, Stimeyland; runs an autism events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and writes Autism Unexpected, a column in the Washington Times Communities. You can also find her as @Stimey on Twitter, where she would no doubt have been if the Code Red had been real.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Don't Get Anything Done Anymore

All I do is stare at the cute all day. The mice have settled in and are busy, busy, busy.

C'mon. Really. How does work compete with this?

I really should move them to my desk so I could at least pretend to do something while I'm watching them. These little rodents might just ruin my professional life. And drive all of my non-mouse loving blog readers away.

I know you're all dying to see the fifth mouse, you know the one who refused to pose for me when I went on my first flurry of mouse photography the day we brought them home.

Meet Sam's mouse, Poseidon:

She kinda looks like she's been caught in and trying to avoid a spotlight, huh?

Sam did claim that he was going to change Poseidon's name today to something that sounded a lot like "Fight—AY YAH WHIPWHOPKAPOW!!" But that's not cool with me. She remains Poseidon. Although Poseidon may be too dignified a name for this particular mouse.

Poseidon had a piece of food on her head for THREE days!
And it wasn't small either! It was a chicken wing!


Here's something about mice—other than the cute—they kinda poop a lot and smell like mice. We got them Sunday and they already drove me to clean out their home today (Wednesday). And this is me we're talking about here. I don't clean anything. Honestly, the mouse house is cleaner than my house at this point.

Quinn was very eager to help me. The mice were less excited. And by "less excited," I mean "freaked the fuck out."

I stopped this immediately, of course.
After I took the picture.


After we cleaned out the mouse house, we spent probably an hour watching the mice. Quinn even ate his lunch there. See what I mean about getting nothing done?

See Scabbers up there in the green wheel? She had some problems getting down.
We had to rearrange the mouse house for her.

Here's another thing. You know how all dogs are boys and all cats are girls? Well, evidently all mice are boys too. So even though we (hopefully, dear God, hopefully) have all girl mice, I will probably refer to them as "he" many, many times.

And yet another thing: I could drag this out over the next few posts, but I thought I would just get it all out of my system now and throw out some cute photos so I don't feel the need to do it every day for the next month. There's no need for y'all to lose the ability to work too. (You know, while you're waiting for the photos to go up.)


Awwwwww....

Wait. Wait just a damn second. No, never mind. I just thought of and then dismissed the idea of a live mouse cam. No need to make you think I'm even crazier than I really am.

Look! They color coordinated themselves!

All of a sudden Poseidon is all comfortable and ready for her closeup.

Aren't mice supposed to chew these up? 'Cause mine don't.

They love to climb the tiki hut. I fully expect to come into the room one day and find it entirely chewed to a nub.

That can't be comfortable.
Run, Gerbil, run!

Gerbil is the only one who seems to like this wheel.

I got that blue wheel in addition to the solid-bottom one because the Petco mice do all kinds of funny stuff and tricks with each other on their wheels. Evidently independent pet store mice don't.

I love this next one. Count the noses.

Yep, that's all five of 'em (and a fluff of paper) poking their faces out of there.

Well, that's it for now. You'll excuse me because I have to go do some work now. But first I just need to check on the mice to make sure they're okay.

Okay. Good thing I did. I just wandered into the kitchen to find Alex doing something very irresponsible with a mouse, a cereal bowl, and a guilty look on his face. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Poor Sick Child

Dear Sam's teachers,

Sam was sick today, terribly sick, so he couldn't come to school. He dearly wanted to, but just couldn't lift his poor, achy head far enough off the pillow to make it in. Please send homework.

Love,
Stimey

p.s. You should go now. Let Sam rest.

******

Are they gone?

Really? Look behind you. Is that one of them crouching in the back? They're really all gone?

******

So, Sam was "sick" today. He claimed he had a headache and that his stomach hurt. I could tell by looking at him that he really wasn't all that ill, but the kid has had maybe one sick day so far this year and he is such a great student that I decided to let it slide and keep him home.

He came with Quinn and me when I dropped Quinn off at school. I had parent-teacher conferences with Quinn's teacher, so Sam went out onto the playground with Quinn's class first thing.

I showed up after they'd been outside for ten minutes and found my poor sickly boy doing this:

Big kids are fun!

and this:

Tell us what to do, Sam!

Of course, this brief respite didn't stop him after we got home from actually saying to me, "Will you fetch me some water please?"

At least he said please.

He'll be back at school tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

DCMM: Jumping the Computer Gap

I'm always hearing stories these days about how connected we all are online and how we spend too much time sitting at our computers. Stories like that first make me defensive (but my online community has done so much good!) and then they make me nod my head in recognition (yes, I suppose I do spend too much time on the computer), and finally make me think about how far computers and I have come in the past 20 or so years.

I got my first computer about two months before I headed off to grad school in 1996. (That is, if you don't count the Atari 400 my family had as a child, and I'm not sure I do.) I had managed to get all the way through high school with a typewriter and all the way through college with a Brother word processor—which was often borrowed because it was so high tech and useful.

For a long time I was a Luddite when it came to computers. I thought they were lame and unnecessary. After all, my Brother could do anything I needed it to. So what if it took all night to "print" out long research papers with its typing mechanism? In my Berkeley college-age idealism I disliked computers, not just because I didn't understand them (and I didn't), but also because of the "computer gap"—meaning that computers and all their privileges were only available to the wealthy.

Then came my birthday before I headed off to grad school. My then-boyfriend/now-husband bought me a used Mac laptop. I was a changed person. I still felt bad about the computer gap, but now my glorified word processor let me play solitaire too. Not to mention that I had discovered the internet earlier that year, and while my new computer didn't have Internet access, the boyfriend's did.

I still remember the first time I searched for information online, for my grad school applications. I wanted to print it out and was amazed when the printer spit out what was on the screen, pictures and all. After all, I was the person who had to be reminded over and over again how to turn a computer on and off.

Within two years I had purchased another, better Mac—with color monitor!!—had learned how to code HTML, and had my own online presence with a hand-coded website all about ME! For better or for worse, I had jumped over that computer gap.

Twelve years later, I have two laptops and a desktop computer that is dying a slow death. I have an iPhone and my husband carries a Blackberry. I write five blogs and contribute to two more. We have multiple gaming systems, both console and hand-held. Even the picture frame that sits on my desk has a hard drive.

Yeah. My 22-year-old pre-computer self would hate me.

Looking past the embarrassment of riches that my family is lucky enough to have, I see how far my philosophy on computers has come. I still believe there is a computer gap and that it is more devastating than ever. But I am firmly entrenched on the privileged side of the chasm. The other day, the video card (or something) on my main laptop went kaput and I was destroyed. Before I took it into the computer store and got the good news that it was an easy fix, I was heartbroken.

All the things I used to do on paper—my job, my photographs, my to-do list, even quick notes to myself—I now do on my computer and they were suddenly inaccessible and I was at a complete loss. And this is with two one-and-a-half computers still available to me.

It is amazing to me the world that my children are growing up in. They will never know a world without computers. When they go to college, I wonder if they will learn how to comb through the stacks at different campus libraries to find the chapter of the book they need. I know that I need to be better at teaching my kids that all the answers don't come from the magic box that lives on the desk.

I come from a family that didn't have a microwave until I was in ninth grade and didn't have an answering machine until even later, and yet three days without one of my computers threw me for such a loop that it kind of shook me. This world of technology, this world where utter dependence on computers and technology is so wide-spread and personal, well, some days it makes me marvel.

This is an original DC Metro Moms Blog post. Jean is fully aware of how ridiculously addicted to computers she is. Some examples of her intense interconnectivity are her main blog, Stimeyland; her autism events website for Montgomery County, AutMont; and her column about autism, Autism Unexpected.

Penguins + 20 Preschoolers = Tornado

Whew. Birthday party season is over at my house for a while. I repeat: whew.

Quinn, mid-sugar overload

I'm happy to say that even though it was too dreary and wet for the gajillion kids that were over to play outside much during Quinn's party, they all had a good time anyway. I do have to say that I got a little panicky when I woke up this morning to a filthy house, an unplanned party, and a thunderstorm forecast.

See, Quinn wanted to invite his entire preschool class to his birthday party. That's a lot of kids. The sheer number of children in his class precluded me from inviting some of my other birthday party staple kids, which was a little sad, but Quinn had a blast, which is the whole point anyway.

I threw pretty much the same party that I threw for Jack last week, but it had a whole different feel to it. While Jack's party was kind of calm and slower paced, Quinn's party was a whirling dervish of kids streaking through my house, consuming a lot of orange and brown junk food, and a lot of happy screeching.

Quinn's official party theme was "penguins," but I think the unofficial theme was, "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" I kind of still don't know what happened. I just recall snippets of chaos.

We did manage to get in our traditional game of pin the something on the something. In this case it was fish onto a penguin beak. I'm pretty proud of the penguin I made. I modeled him off of a stuffed animal we gave Quinn for his birthday.

If you look closely, you can see remnants of last week's piñata still on our deck outside.


I think Quinn might have cheated.

With all the crazy running around, I never thought that I would get all 20 or so kids lined up nicely to wait their turn to tape a piece of paper onto a wall in exchange for a plastic medal. But they all happily lined up and waited their turn. Kids are easy. And a total trip.

Because we were doing the piñata inside, we decided to use the ribbon pulls instead of a bat. I also liked the idea of the ribbons because it seemed sorta cruel and wrong to beat the crap out of this cute little guy:

I especially didn't want to watch them beat it to death once it was already on the ground.

The only problem was that none of the strings seemed to be attached to the trap door that lets the candy out. So Alex took the thing, turned him on his side and broke him over his knee. It was a little gruesome.

This was before he took extra candy and started throwing it directly AT the children.

Poor Pablo the Penguin. Some of the kids took home pieces of limbs. One kid wandered out holding the head, still dangling from a string.

Here is Quinn using Pablo's torso as a hat.

Much like with Jack's party, it was difficult to find a suitable cake for Quinn. Even though there are Madagascar cakes, they are not penguin-centric, and Quinn did not want it. And unlike Jack's cake, I imagine it's a lot harder to fashion a penguin to stick on top of the thing.

So we got a soccer game cake. Obvious solution, right?

Needless to say, the mice took cover in their little house shortly after everyone began to arrive and didn't come out until after everyone left. I imagine that they were all, "What the FUCK just happened here?" I also imagine that they have fond memories of their quiet little pet store.

Also needless to say, Quinn had such a great birthday weekend. He is one happy little kid.


And he's five years old, if you can believe it. I can't.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Operation: Mouse

You may all be aware that I kinda like little rodents. Turns out that the small, blond apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Quinn loves them too. Every once in a while we'll go to Petco and visit all the little animals. It's like a trip to the zoo without all the walking.

Much as I always try to get Quinn to love the gerbils, he loves the mice more than anything. He will stand in front of their cage for as long as I will let him and he will giggle, giggle, giggle for the entire time.

I'd lost all hope of ever having rodents because Alex is a great big buzz kill. But somehow, Quinn's enthusiasm got to him and he agreed that we could get some mice. Now, I know there is a segment of you that will be all, "MICE??!! What about the gerbils? For the love of God, they're in your tagline!"

To you, I will simply ask that you revisit paragraph two above.

Well, today was Quinn's birthday, which brings us to Operation: Mouse. We revealed to the children that we were going to buy them mice, but before we could go pick them up, we had to go to Jack's social skills group, which was held at a park today. It went great until after group, when our kids hightailed it down to the little nearby creek. Jack waded in, sneakers and all, while Sam jumped in and promptly lost one flip flop. Afraid that we couldn't take two barefoot children to the pet store, we searched and searched for the flip flop.

Alex was pissed. Also? We never found it.

I think you know Team Stimey well enough by now though to know that we don't give up that easy. Jack wore wet shoes and Alex lent Sam his socks so it looked like he was wearing something on his feet. Then we headed on into the pet store.

We were greeted by an employee who looked like he was ten years old and who told us that he couldn't tell the difference between boy mice and girl mice, which was a problem, because we do not want to be the eventual owners of 86 mice. Fortunately, we were rescued by another employee who could tell the difference, or at least could pretend to tell the difference.

Each of us picked out a mouse, including Alex, previously known as Mr. I Hate Anything Small, Cute, and Snuggly.

Meet the five newest members of Team Stimey.

When we got home, we spent, oh, I'd say about an hour watching the wee little ones explore their new home. Even Alex watched for a while.

It was his first glimpse of the tiki hut that convinced Alex that he wanted a mouse.

I don't have an individual photo of Sam's black curly-haired mouse. (When they first showed it to us, I was all, "Uh oh, this one has the mange," and the lady said, "No, she just has curly fur." I sure know how to make a good impression.) See, Poseidon, as she is named, is the scaredy-mouse of the group. I spent a long time today worried that she was dead because I hadn't seen her for a long time. Turns out she was just hiding in the house under a whole lot of paper shavings.

Here is Jack's mouse, Scabbers:

She has curly fur too.

Quinn's mouse is the shiny, black one. Her name is Squeaky. Alex has the black and white one and named her Whiskers.

Squeaky seems to be the most energetic of the group thus far.

My mouse is gray and white. I named her Gerbil. For y'all.

Alex hates the name. I like it.

Gerbil is the piggiest of the group. Every time I see her, she's rooting around in the food bowl. I think she'll be happy here.

Prepare yourselves for some extensive mouse photography. Especially once I deem them settled in enough to to let my kids handle them. Then you can prepare yourselves for extensive photography of the ensuing mouse hunt after one of them gets away.

Also, please cross your fingers for me that these guys don't go the way of the ants and the frogs. I really love them already.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cheesy

The first night that Alex and I held hands, we ate at a fondue restaurant. It's possible I've told this story before. Evidently all-you-can-eat fondue and all-you-can-drink wine specials are a good precursor to hooking up. They are also a good precursor to having someone throw up in a water pitcher at the table, but that's a whole other story.

I bring this up because I'm not sure that I've eaten fondue since that night. I know Alex hasn't. While he didn't throw up at the table, he did form a strong aversion to liquid cheese after that night due to his own, later, more private regurgitation.

Well, I finally broke my fondue-free spell on Tuesday night, and I have to say, it was both delicious and a lot of fun. The fabulous Jessica of A Parent in Silver Spring hooked up a bunch of bloggers at The Melting Pot, where we gorged ourselves silly.

I almost didn't go. I was tired, so very tired. It's entirely possible that I've whined ad nauseam about how ridiculously work-slammed I am right now and how it's giving me a tremendous amount of stress. I may have also mentioned that two of my kids have birthdays this month, causing a whole different level of business. Plus, Quinn had an IEP meeting on Tuesday, qualifying for OT special education services.

I was beat. Really beat. I didn't want to lose a whole night of working. But I remembered how much fun I always have going out with my friends. Thank God I did too. It totally reinvigorated me. It was exactly what I needed.

I won't list everyone who was there because I'll forget someone and then I'll feel bad. (Read: My mind is a broken sieve and I can barely remember my own name.) If you were there, you know who you are and you should know that you made my week.

I had some terrific conversations there, including at least a couple about autism that highlighted to me that the words I write really do make a difference. I write a lot and it sometimes stresses me out because I barely have time to manage my family and the things I actually get paid for, and most of my online writing, I do not get paid for.

There is a reason I write for free though, and it is this: Stimeyland and AutMont and DC Metro Moms and Hopeful Parents and especially Autism Unexpected? They give me a Voice. And, yes, I really do mean to capitalize Voice, because these platforms allow my voice to become a Voice. And what I say evidently really does reach people.

It turns out that realizing that I can make life a little bit easier for an autism parent or for autistic people who have to live in a non-autistic world is worth more than all the money in the world.

So, thank you, Jessica, for not just a wonderful, relaxing night out, but for a real lesson in the power of blogging. I won't soon forget it. Even if no one held my hand or threw up in a water pitcher.

Disclosure: I didn't pay for dinner. That was on The Melting Pot. (I hope. If not, I owe someone some money.) Thanks, Melting Pot!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Story of the Ostrich Who Tried to Kill Quinn and the Day We Hugged a Camel

Hey, remember, like a week and a half ago, when I teased you about a story about the ostrich who tried to kill Quinn and the day we hugged a camel? If you are a shrewd headline reader, you might have realized by now that THIS is THAT story.

But I'm going to make you sit through sheep first.

The Story of the Scary Sheep

A couple of weeks ago I took Quinn to the Reston Zoo, which is such a fun thing to do if you have access to Virginia and a bunch of extra money rattling around in your pocket. The zoo is a mix of a farm and...a farm with bigger animals.

When we got there, we sprung for the $10 bin of pellets and entered the barn. I get the feeling that the sheep and goats in there have a keen eye for the Big Bin o' Pellets and that was why they very nearly climbed over their little pen fences in an effort to get to us and our Big Bin.

These were a couple of the more restrained goats.

It was, I have to say, a little intimidating.

AAAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!

The Story of Baby Pig:

Goats and sheep were fine and all, but the whole reason we were at the Reston Zoo in the first place is because I wanted to take Quinn to the National Zoo at first, but then he freaked out and said he wanted to go to a farm because there are baby pigs at the farm and I want to see a baby piiiiiiiggggg! I think he was having flashbacks to a field trip to an apple orchard we went to last fall. Needless to say, I was a little worried when there were no pigs, baby or otherwise, in the barn.

When we walked outside the barn, we finally found a pig. Also its companion, Baby Pig. Baby Pig was made even better because along with the Big Bin o' Pellets, we also purchased a tiny baby bottle full of milk. We had tried unsuccessfully to feed it to every stupid goat and sheep in the barn to no avail. Guess who liked the baby bottle full of milk?

Baby Pig, that's who.

It's too bad that the big pig, who also liked the milk, wasn't smaller and cuter. He might have gotten some milk too.

The Story of the Emu Who Tried to Eat Our Fingers (Not to Be Confused with the Ostrich Who Tried to Kill Quinn):

See the emus? They look nice, huh?

From a distance.

Our first up close encounter was a little bit more frightening. Quinn ran up to the fence and one of the emus tried to eat his thumb. Then, because I don't learn without doing, I jammed my hand through the fence and the thing clamped down on my thumb too.

Do you see how he wants to eat us? Do you see?!

Never ones to learn a lesson completely, but able to learn a little bit, Quinn and I adjusted our feeding strategy.

Who knew that emus and goats ate the same food?

This experience took me back to the first and only other time my family went to the Reston Zoo. Quinn wasn't around then and Jack was less than a year old. I was feeding an emu through this very same slot in the fence as Alex held Jack on his lap. Every single time the emu darted his head down and took some food, Jack laughed and laughed and laughed. He almost couldn't breathe he was laughing so hard. It's one of my favorite memories of Jack. Quinn did a similar amount of giggling on this day.

After the emu feeding we got on the wagon ride that goes around the enclosure where deer, zebras, bison, and other large animals roamed around.

Huh. What's that headed our way?

The Story of the Ostrich Who Tried to Kill Quinn:

I repeat: AAAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!

I fear I may have overpromised when I say I have a story of an ostrich who tried to kill Quinn. In reality, the ostrich and one of the other wagon-riders conspired to try to kill Quinn. See, we were in the primo feeding spot on the wagon. All the animals came straight up to us, drawn by our position in the wagon and the remnants of the Big Bin o' Pellets.


This particular ostrich was a greedy lil' motherfucker, so at some point, in order to save some of our pellets for the rest of the animals and to give the other riders a chance to meet the bird, I pulled our bucket away. The lady in the middle of the wagon directly behind Quinn held out her cup. The ostrich pecked at it, resulting in pellets flying all over the wagon—and Quinn. Reacting to the rain of pellets, Quinn ducked down his head as if he were under fire (kid has good reflexes), and wonked his head on the metal rail.

He sobbed and sobbed and the lady behind him looked like she wanted to die as I tried to simultaneously comfort Quinn, tell the lady it wasn't her fault, and move the Big Bin o' Pellets from between me and Quinn so the ostrich wouldn't peck him directly in his distraught head.

Eventually, satisfied that he had done enough damage, the ostrich wandered off.

The Story of the Day We Hugged a Camel:

Did you know that camels are snuggly? I didn't either until this trip. But they really are. At least the two at this farm were. We hugged this guy and hugged this guy and hugged this guy. I kind of want a pet camel now.

And you can keep your comments about my track record with pets to yourselves, thank you very much.


Honestly, who needs frogs, when you can have this?


He would have been hard to smuggle home in my minivan though.

Instead, we had to settle for this gift shop stuffed pig, heretofore known as Mud.

He's huggable too. And portable. (The stuffed pig is nice as well.)

Even with all the (slightly over-dramatized) near death experiences, this was one of the best days Quinn and I have had. Put Quinn in the proximity of cute animals and he's the happiest guy on Earth. Put me in proximity of happy Quinn and I'm the happiest mom on Earth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

F.O.S.

You know how your kid does something weird and you're all, "Should I take him to the doctor or will the doctor just laugh at me for bringing him in?"

My theory on that is that it's usually better to be safe than sorry. What's the worst that could happen? You lose a copay, right? What's the best? You catch something before it becomes a problem.

My best story about an unnecessary trip to the doctor is a classic new mom story. Sam was an infant, like maybe three or four months old, when I noticed a little bump on the back of his head near his neck. Of course I called the doctor about OMG! MY TINY BABY'S BRAIN TUMOR!!!

We sat down in the pediatrician's office, the doctor looked at Sam, and almost immediately said, "Yeah, that's just his head."

To his credit he didn't make me feel dumb for bringing Sam in. But don't worry, I felt dumb enough all by myself.

I had one of those moments on Monday. Quinn ate breakfast and then threw up. Then he threw up again shortly thereafter. Then he was fine. By itself, this was no big deal, but for the past month or so, he's been doing this about once a week. With his history of chronic constipation (or "chronological constipation" as I accidentally called it on the phone to a friend of mine today), it seemed like something that should be checked out.

Without further ado, I bring you the triumphant return of the "poop" category to the Stimeyland blog. This category used to hold more posts than the "Alex" category. I'm happy to report that Alex is now squarely in the lead on that count, even with this entry.

Anyway, Quinn and I went in to see the doctor today. Quinn was mostly concerned that he was going to get a shot. I didn't feel like I could totally promise him he wouldn't see a needle because I figured there was the possibility of blood work, so he was pretty nervous. I was fine until the receptionist and the nurse practitioner that I saw both said, "A month? Wow."

But the nurse practitioner also told Quinn there would be no needle, so he perked right the hell up as his worry transferred to me. In fact, his day got exponentially better once he heard the news that he got to pee in a cup. (Without peeing on my hand, thank goodness for small favors.)

When the nurse practitioner felt Quinn's stomach, which even I could tell was FOS (full of shit stool), I felt like a terrible mother. Then she tapped his stomach and was all, "Can you hear how full of gas he is too?" And I was like the mom-to-be at the 12-week ultrasound who is like, "Oh, yeah, I totally see the baby."

No. I can't tell that he's full of gas. That's why I brought him to you. But now I feel even worse.

He's going to be okay (fingers crossed, knock on wood, wish on a star and all), but we have to go see a specialist to make sure that his little colon is operating okay. I have the feeling that there might be a lot of fiber in our future.

Quinn was also excited because he got to see the inside of his body, via an x-ray.

You can't tell, but he was totally delighted.

The x-ray tech was way cool. She let Quinn check out his picture after she took it. Later he claims that he saw his belly button on the x-ray. I don't think that's true. And honestly, I would have thought he would be more interested in seeing, you know, his spine, but whatever.

Quinn was less excited about the other part of the doctor's instructions, which involved a suppository. I'll spare you the gritty details, and fear that I've already said too much, but suffice it to say that even that didn't work very well.

Hopefully we'll go to the specialist and she'll give us the magic words to whisper to Quinn's colon that will make it work right. Because this poor kid has been struggling to poop since he was three months old. I'll keep you posted. I know you really probably don't want me to, but you know that I'm gonna.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Things About Jack's Birthday Party

At some point in the not too distant past, I realized that I had to plan a birthday party for Jack. So I picked a day and time and sent out an Evite. At some point shortly after that, I realized that "planning a party" involved more than just inviting some people over. So I asked Jack what he wanted his theme to be.

Translation: "I'm screwed."

Never one to shy away from a challenge, especially if it will make my quirky guy happy on (or near) his birthday, I set about to do some thinking. I think I pulled it off, if I do say so myself.

Here are some things about the party.

1. The Piñata

You want to hear something weird? No one makes a piñata in the form of a magnet. Huh.

But they do make piñatas in the form of rainbows. And they also make red and silver tissue paper, glue, and scissors.

Would it surprise you to learn that I sat down with all this just the day before the party?

Alex had suggested that I spray paint the piñata, but something inside me spoke up to say that that spray paint might dissolve tissue paper.

"You could test it on the back first," Alex suggested.

The only problem with that idea, however, is that piñatas don't have backs.

So I googled "does spray paint dissolve tissue paper?" I didn't find an answer to that, but I did discover that spray paint dissolves styrofoam, which led me to believe that it might also have an adverse effect on tissue paper. So, back to the labor-intensive option.

I got all the way to the following point before I was completely covered in glue and kinda wanted to kill myself:

Is it just me, or does this look like a particularly jazzy pair of pants?

A long time and a floor littered with tiny red bits of tissue paper later, I was done.


It looked slightly less ideal in person, but for something that a bunch of kids are going to beat the shit out of with a baseball bat? It was more than passable.

And beat the shit out of it, they did.


And then, when they were done beating the shit out of it? They beat the shit out of it some more.

Like, six kids took turns doing this. It was both hilarious and kinda horrifying.


2. The Magnets

We already had a bunch of magnetic toys that I set out for the kids to play with, plus we got Jack some additional magnets for his birthday that we put out for some fun free play time. I also got some magnetic sheets for the kids to draw on and take home. I used a magnetic board that we've had forever to set the stage for the party.

Everyone in my family objected to the hair colors I drew for them.
Well, maybe you should have bought me a brown Sharpie then, people.


Jack objected to pretty much everything on the magnet board. Not being a Gen-X'er, he didn't fully appreciate the "palooza" that I thought was so clever.


Jack's little autistic buddy T was chagrined by "King Jack Day" though, and made his own little "Happy Birthday Jackson" area. Thank you, T. Can I interest you in some Magnetpalooza too?

3. The Cake

Just as with the piñata, I suppose it should not have come as a surprise that the local grocery store didn't have a magnet cake design in their book. More surprisingly, the lady I spoke to didn't seem to know what a magnet is. I ended up just telling her to leave half the cake blank.

I had plans. Oh, yes. I had plans.

I am no master baker, but I do know how to make a horseshoe magnet shape out of a round layer cake.

Now with Bonus Leftover Cake!

The only problem was that I wanted the magnet to be red. I naively assumed that the food coloring tube labeled "red" would turn white frosting red. Not so.


I still think it turned out all right though.

I wasn't taking any chances that my masterwork would be prematurely eaten.

When I picked up my cake, the lady at the store was all, "Black? Really?"

I can't help it that black is Jack's favorite color.

Making this kid happy made all the extra baking worth it.

See him clutching his magnets there?

And the bonus was that the girls in attendance were thrilled that there was pink cake for them.

4. The Jehovah's Witness

This is the heartbreaking part of the day. So you know that E, Jack's best (girl) friend, is a Scientologist, which I find amusing seeing as how Scientologists don't really "accept" autism. This particular family of Scientologists are beyond awesome though. We all love them.

Also amusing, however, is the fact that V, Jack's second best (girl) friend, is a Jehovah's Witness. She lives two doors down from E and her backyard abuts our back yard. I would have invited her to the party, but I know that Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays.

At various points throughout the party, V would appear in her backyard and would even half-scale the fence to watch all of her classmates and best friends cavorting in my yard. It broke my heart. I kind of wanted to lift her over the fence, but that didn't seem like a good idea.

But ouch.

5. The Pin the Something on Something Else Game

It's not a Team Stimey party unless we're playing a pin the [blank] on the [blank] game. I am always amused by how delighted kids are with this most simple of games. But they always are.

Today we stuck magnets to the poles of a larger magnet. Really, all the game consisted of was sticking a small magnet on the board while I held a napkin over the kids' faces. Kids are easy. (Although at some point, Jack showed up with a piece of paper that he taped to the picture and said, "This is the target.")


Everyone participated except T, who was all honest about his feelings and told me, "I don't think this is a fun game." Then he went to the basement and played with trains.

Alex was all, "Ha! How does the truth make you feel, Jean?"

At least Sam was supportive.

Thanks, Sam.

6. Jack

Considering that this is basically the exact same party I have thrown about 15 times, with slight variation, everyone was thrilled.

Especially this guy:

Happy Birthday King Jack Day, Jack!