Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Not a Good Parent, But I Play One on the Internet

I think I'm a pretty good mom. You all probably think I'm a pretty good mom too, mostly because I don't tend to write about my really bad days most of the time. I had one of those days yesterday.

Jack has developed this new tic, where he snorts really loudly a lot. And by "a lot," I mean "A LOT." It's like the burping he did a while back, only way more grating.

I've probably mentioned before that I have self-diagnosed myself with SPD. Maybe my biggest trigger is sound. Ask Alex. He does far too much, you know, noisy breathing. And don't even get me started on the chewing.

This snorting though? It is maybe the worst thing I have ever heard. It actually causes me some pretty intense physical discomfort. I feel it all across my shoulders and down through my chest. It is horrible. And this is made worse by the fact that it comes from one of my favorite people in the whole world who also happens to be the most vulnerable person in my inner circle.

I'm totally not proud of myself, but yesterday I freaked out on poor little Jack. The more I asked him to stop, the more he snorted. And the more he snorted, the more I asked him to stop. And I yelled at him. And I made him feel bad. And last night I lay in my bed absolutely hating myself for doing that to him. Because he can't help the snorting. He is aware of it, but I really don't think he can consciously stop it.

And I yelled at him for doing something he couldn't help. Yay, me. Way to make my little autistic kid think that he's bad and weird.

Autism ran right smack dab into sensory processing disorder and it went very poorly.

There are several things that could be causing the snorting. Maybe he's getting something sensory from it. Maybe he has allergies. Maybe he started doing it and it turned into a habit and now he can't stop doing it. Maybe (but I really don't think this is it) he just likes doing it.

No matter which of these things is causing the snorting, my little Jack doesn't deserve to be yelled at about it. I'm kind of beating myself up about it, and rightfully so. I was out of line. I snapped. My poor guy.

Today was better. I didn't yell at him. I mostly ignored it. We're using nasal spray and Claritin and I'm trying to ignore it for the most part with occasional reminders to notice when he's doing it or to offer him a tissue to blow his nose. I am also trying to notice when he hasn't done it for a while and praising him for it.

Mostly though, I've decided to try to ignore it almost completely and hope that it just goes away, like the burping did. I'm sure that's a solid plan, right? No matter how painful it is for me to listen to it, and those of you with SPD will understand that noise can actually be painful, it is far more damaging to Jack for me to harp on him and it.

By the way, does anyone have any good tips for making the snorting stop short of damaging Jack's little psyche or removing his air passages?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I NEVER Get Nominated for Anything, So Indulge Me.

We have a little business to attend to here.

The other day, I was checking my stats and followed a link back to the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards, where I found Stimeyland in the Funniest Blog category.

Blown away, I was. Knock me over with a feather, you could.

See, all kinds of quality writing about small rodents aside, I NEVER get nominated for awards or put on lists, so I was pretty delighted to find my lil' ol' blog there.

Of course, I have no illusions of victory, because there are some incredibly funny blogs on that list. Hell, I don't even know if I would vote for myself out of the people on that list. (Okay. I take it back. I've totally already voted for myself. Twice.)

Anyway, if you feel like you'd like to vote, please feel free to check out the list of nominees and make your selections.

My other blog, The Junk Pyramid, is also nominated in the Chief Executive Organizer category.

Some of my friends were nominated too! TeachMama is much-deservedly listed in the Blog You've Learned the Most From category. Please vote for her. She's awesome. PunditMom is nominated in the Most Provocative category. Also please go vote for her. Minky (Moo) was nominated in both the Funniest Blog and Beautiful Eye Candy categories. Please go vote for her in the Eye Candy category. I don't think I have to say more.

You can vote once every day until July 12 if you are so inclined.


Also, as long as I'm asking you to do stuff, would you mind heading over to this survey and filling out some quick demographic information? It's for some ads I might be running with Hopeful Parents. If you fill it out, I'll enter you into a drawing to win a $20 gift card from Starbucks or Amazon or Target, or really anywhere you want a gift card from as long as it's easy for me to buy it. To enter the drawing you can enter your email address in the survey, but if you don't want to attach your email address to that information, just leave me a comment on this post telling me that you filled it out. I'll probably pick a winner on, oh, let's say July 15. Thank you!

Monday, June 28, 2010

It Turns Out My Weekend Was Packed and Long—But Not As Long As This Post

Oh, hi! I feel like I haven't been here for a while. How have you been?

(Message from the Future Stimey that just finished writing this post: This turned out to be very long. Don't you wish I were less verbose? Anyway, just a warning that you should save this post for later if your kid is about to wake up from a nap or something.)


I'm terribly sorry that I missed posting my Camp Stimey Saturday Summary and Camp Stimey Coming Attractions because I was too busy, but let me recap here for you so you don't feel totally abandoned.

Camp Stimey Saturday Summary (on Monday): We went to Jamestown with Joeymom and then did various barely Jamestown-related things.

Camp Stimey Coming Attractions: I have no idea what we're doing this week. Am slacker.

There you go.


One of the reasons I haven't been around is because we had friends come into town to see Phish at Merriweather. Actually, it's more complicated than that with various meet-ups, and Alex's trips out of town for other shows, and complicated scheduling issues, and an extremely crowded New Jersey ferry, evidently, but what it boiled down to was that I got to see my friends when they came to my house on Saturday and I got to go to a show on Sunday.

It was awesome. Although I have been to dozens of Phish shows, I haven't been to one in six years. It was a great show. I was very happy to be there. Our seats, however, were unfortunately situated in an actual fucking sauna. It was really, really hot.

But totally worth it.


Speaking of hot, we got a swimming pool. We don't join a pool because I am afraid of, you know, the drowning, but my kids love to be in water, so we have to have a wading pool. Ours "broke" (and by "broke," I mean "Alex lost the plug for it") last summer, so we had to get a new one.

I searched online all over and finally decided that if I went to a store and stood in front of the pools I'd be able to make a decision: Hard plastic? Inflatable? The $150 pool that is 12 feet across and four feet deep? There were many criteria: What if the pool doesn't fit in my car? What if the pool pops? What about, you know, the drowning?

It turns out that looking for a pool in the store is exactly like looking for a pool online except for the fact that there are three children running around you screaming, "I want this one! Can we buy that? Hey, look at the Toy Story 3 display over there!"

We ended up with an inflatable pool and I am convinced that it will pop almost immediately, but it was $30, so if I can make it last most of the summer then we're okay.

They're playing Stimey Cup Soccer.

Apparently I chose the correct pool, as it was very calming.

Where do you think he learned this? Not from me.
I'm the least calm person in the world.

Then he taught his brothers.

I swear. I should just leave Sam in charge all the time.
I'd never be able to get them to do that.

While my kids were developing their Ch'i, I was getting attacked by a vicious praying mantis.

Yes, I realize it's a baby, but do you see his attack stance?

I spent a long time taking his photo with varying degrees of (non) success and then gave up and spent some time chatting on the phone with my mom. At which point the thing tried to run up my leg under my pants.

I'm sure my mom's hearing will be recovering any day now. (Also, I didn't kill him.)

 He's cute until he tries to enter you vaginally.


This weekend also saw the last game of Sam's baseball season. He was part of this great rookie team that was completely focused on learning about the game and good sportsmanship. They didn't even keep score at games. It was awesome.

Sam is now officially in love with baseball. Unfortunately, the photo below isn't as good as if he were wearing his baseball pants. Sadly, because Alex has been out of town so much lately and Alex does our laundry (hey, ladies, don't be haters), we couldn't find Sam's pants.

The really sad thing is that he is also commando here.

Any season where you get a medal is a good one, according to Sam.

He's really proud. As he should be. He did great.


Can you believe I'm still not done with our weekend activities? Quinn had a birthday party to go to on Sunday as well. It was at some sports club that had the most bad ass kids' room I've ever seen.

Quinn proved himself to be a rockstar on the climbing wall.

He's about a foot off the ground in this photo, but he did make it to the top.

He was really good at climbing this thing. And check out his left calf muscle in this photo. He's hard core. He also really enjoyed hurling himself backwards off of the wall onto the soft padded floor. NO FEAR!

Unfortunately, he was extremely distressed about the rest of the party. You know how there's always one kid at any birthday party who's irrationally angry and then sad and then angry again, with a little bit of assholery thrown in? That was Quinn at this party.


Well, that was my weekend. (Don't tell anyone, but the pool-buying expedition was actually on Friday.)

Anyway, since I haven't given you any mouse updates lately, I thought I'd let you know that all five of them are still alive (knock on wood! knock on wood!). Take THAT, doubters!

Here is photo of Gerbil for you. I cleaned Mouse Town today and she spent about fifteen minutes just hanging out in this tube after I was done.

Frankly, it was a pretty poor hiding spot.


Sometimes don't you wish I was one of those bloggers who didn't feel the need to keep you updated on every last stupid thing in her life?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Godzillas of Varying Ilks

My kids are really enjoying Mini Jamestown. Or, more accurately, they are enjoying creating Godzillas to terrorize Mini Jamestown.

Zhu Zhu Godzilla

Bakugan Godzilla

Gummy Bear Mini-zillas

The Gods of Mini Jamestown

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mini Jamestown

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up a little something in the Jamestown gift shop to continue our learning at home. I know. I'm a giant nerd. I bought a 3-D wooden puzzle of the Jamestown Fort because I thought it would be fun and not at all splinter-causing or soul crushing.

I will call it Mini Jamestown.

This afternoon, Sam, Jack, Quinn, and I sat down with the six flat pieces of wood and the three tiny ships that I also bought them to quickly put Jamestown together.

Okay. So how hard can this puzzle be?

Oy. That's a lot of pieces. And...not a lot of instructions.

Okay though. No problem. We're four relatively smart people, even if some of us are more interested in twirling in circles and randomly punching pieces out of the board than systematically putting a puzzle together.

I'm talking about you, sir.

I did have one steadfast helper who patiently let me figure out a plan to put the thing together and use a pencil to jam all the little pieces out.

Thanks, Sam! Hey, wait. Where are you going?

Have you ever gotten a craft to do with your kids only to have them abandon you so you're left at the dining room table pulling splinters out of your fingers and muttering curse words quietly to yourself?

Yeah. Me too.

But, hey! Look! I made a house!

Try not to notice that the roof is upside down.

Guys! Come back! It's starting to take shape! Come back and look! Guys! Guys? Guys...

Fine. Be that way.

It's all coming together. All that's left are the walls.

The walls were easy enough, if a bit flimsy looking. Kids! Come here! I need your boats! But for the love of Christ, don't touch the fortress walls, they are not very sturdy!

Ta da!

So the fortress walls aren't very battle worthy. It's not like Mini Jamestown has any enemies.


Scabbers, not the walls!!

Back to the box with you!

Whew. That was a close one. Thank goodness we vanquished the tiny predator.

Dammit, Squeaky! You too?

That's it. Those mice are going to be punished...with lots of head scritching and rumply cuddles.

So maybe Mini Jamestown wasn't the great group activity I hoped it would be, but at least I know how to make my own fun. Plus, my kids did learn something. Of course that something is that it is great fun to make furry Godzillas out of the mice, but still.

Tomorrow we'll be concluding Jamestown Week by doing a lot of not thinking about Jamestown.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


You know what's far away from my house? Jamestown. Like, multiple hours from my house far away.

Luckily, Team Stimey had a stop en route to pick up Joeymom, Joey, and Andy. Then we drove for, like, ten more hours to get to Jamestown. Happily, Joeymom, et al, so generously had wrapped-up Zhu Zhu pet gifts for my kids, which made them so happy for the duration of the ride. (And the visit to Jamestown, and the ride home, and every second since. Thank you, Joeymom!!)

Incidentally, do you have any idea how loud six Zhu Zhu pets in a minivan can be? (Answer: Loud. And squeaky.)

Our triumphant arrival at Jamestown.

Also, does anyone other than me try to substitute "Jonestown" for "Jamestown"? They are totally not the same thing. Although I don't think I would have wanted to live in either place.

We started at the far end of Jamestown at Joeymom's suggestion, which I think was brilliant. It was also the hottest end of Jamestown, it being about 99 degrees. Joey kept claiming that it was somewhere between 192 and 196 degrees, but I think he was off by a little.

If you're not familiar with Jamestown, there is a museum, some ships to explore, an Indian village, and the Jamestown Fort, with lots of buildings to check out.

Does it look hot to you by any chance?

Everything there was really cool and kind of makes you think about how badass the colonists were. Let's not even talk about winter, which must have been horrible. Let's talk about summer when it was eight million degrees and there was no air conditioning, and probably a fire burning in every house. I wouldn't have made it. I probably would have spent the summer sitting in the water on the beach whining and then a crocodile would've gotten me. Or tiny fishes, whatever.

Sure, half of the residents of Jamestown died and all, but those mofos who lived? Bad. Ass.

No matter how sucky it would have been to actually live at Jamestown though, it would have been even suckier to spend four months on a relatively tiny boat getting there.

Honestly, I probably would have jumped overboard during week two and tried to swim for land. And then a shark would have gotten me.

Have I mentioned that I have a little bit of a phobia about things that Lurk in the water?

Sam found his dream weapon on one of the ships.

It turns out that most of the people on the ships just laid their mats on top of the cargo and slept there, but a select few got bunks. Quinn really, really liked the bunks. I think he might have climbed in every one.

At least he remembered to take off his shoes.

I think I might have been in the hold when I took this one.

Hi, Sam!

Quinn kind of took the cake for me today. He cracks me up so much just by being him.

It was hot, okay?

And then the Zhu Zhu got hot.

One of the buildings at the fort was a church. Joeymom asked Sam what kind of building he thought it was and he was all, "A church?" And I was all, "How do you think Sam learned about what churches look like?"

Quinn continued to amuse.

This is what I imagine people (like me) sitting in churches would feel like.

I've clearly trained him well in the art of posing though.

No trip to Jamestown is complete without a historical re-enactment of the trip from England to Virginia though.

Preferably with Zhu Zhu pets as ships.

Our intrepid explorer sets off!

And then another. Two comes right after one!

Land ho! And a mourning period for Quinn's Zhu Zhu, lost at sea.

There you have Camp Stimey's trip to Jamestown. Oh, except for the 16-hour drive home. (Okay, I exaggerate.) At least I had the awesome Joeymom to chat with for a big chunk of the way. It was a good, if hot, day.

I also picked up a little something in the gift shop for tomorrow's Colonial, oh let's just call it Jamestown Week activity.

"Refrains From Socializing"

I finally got around to checking out my kids' reports cards yesterday. Jack's progress report is full of line items marked "satisfactory" or "concern."

But check it out! Jack gets high marks on the "Refrains from socializing" item.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. (I might have laughed semi-uproariously.) It goes to show that sometimes our kids are so far off of the norm that the norm doesn't even apply. Honestly, if this item were marked "concern," I would probably throw Jack a party and cancel his speech therapy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We've Been Busy

It has been an eventful few days here in Stimeyland. We've kicked off summer with a bang.

Perhaps most importantly (oh, I kid), today is my birthday.  Thanks to everyone who pointed out how old I am. Especially Alex, who wrote in his birthday card to me that I've known him for nearly half of my life. Of course, his math was off and that isn't true, but he included some nice sentiments along with his errant math. And he wrote it in a card with a monkey on it, so he's forgiven. Not to mention that I got at least two cards with rodents on the front. They made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Thanks also to all my Twitter and Facebook friends who sent happy birthday wishes. I spent my day feeling very loved.


On Sunday, Alex and I went to see Cats. Have you seen Cats? It was bizarre and a half. What the hell happened in that show? There were cats and then there were cats wearing crazy outfits and then there was that one song I recognized and then the cats acted out a play and then the head cat was stolen and brought back and then the "glamorous" cat, who was really quite dingy, mounted a contraption that lifted her into the heavens, but she eventually came back.

I didn't get it.

And what the hell is a Jellicle Cat?


The best thing we've done so far is go to the Pet-A-Pet event put on by the Kiwanis Club of Washington. This was an amazing, completely free event for kids with special needs. They had a moon bounce, pony rides, animals to pet, face painting, and free food. They even very specifically didn't publicize it too much so that there wouldn't be overwhelming crowds and long lines for the fun. It was amazing. If you're looking for a service club to join and you live in the DC area, check these people out. They do some good work.

Like provide ponies for kids with disabilities to ride on:

If that photo isn't good enough for you, here's a close up of the joy.

Even siblings could take part in the fun:

One of my readers (hi, Catherine!) saw my boisterous munchkins monopolizing the moon bounce and came over to say hello. Very cool.

We all liked the animals. One of the chickens even laid an egg. Quinn was super delighted by that and desperately wanted to touch it. Not being allowed to manhandle freshly lain offspring, he made do with this duck.

Jack was happy to learn that goats aren't very smart and even though they were standing on ample grazing fodder, they would still come over to the fence to eat the handful that he picked from the greener side of the fence.

It was about a million degrees, so we were very happy to eat the sno-cones that were on hand.

I don't have anything to say about this next photo. I just like it.

It was a really great day. Thanks, Kiwanis! Some days I am really awed by the good that people put into the world.


So, that's what we've been up to. Tomorrow: Jamestown! Joeymom says that it's only supposed to be 99 degrees there tomorrow. She recommends I bring a sweater.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Camp Stimey Summer 2010 Official Kick-off!

This year's summer vacation is 74 days long. Not that I'm counting or anything. We're five days down, which means we have 69 days to cram in all the summer fun you can stomach!

Per usual, summer round these parts means Camp Stimey, our home-grown theme-of-the-week Team Stimey camp. I have some great ideas for themes this summer, many of which came from you. I haven't had a chance to put together a schedule for myself, which is Step One, so all I can do is tease you with phrases such as Human Body Week and Ecology Week and Where Does Our Food Come From Exactly? Week. Maybe we'll even have a High Culture Week.

And don't forget Colonial Week, which is this week. We celebrated the start of Colonial Week by reading a book about Jamestown. And then going to the mall. Weak, I know. But on Wednesday we're actually going to go to Jamestown with Joeymom. Hooray! I'm sure chaos will ensue.

I have some great ideas this summer for Camp Stimey Meet-ups, which involve YOU! Well, those of YOU in the DC Metro area. I am also going to try to set up Camp Suggestions so you can play along at home if you want. Those will go up as part of CSCA (Camp Stimey Coming Attractions) Sundays. I'll also be posting summaries on CSSS (Camp Stimey Saturday Summary) Saturdays. That way, you can play along one week late! Perfect for procrastinators!!

I have another fun announcement for y'all. (Or for the one of you who has expressed interest in this.)

2010 marks the first year of the Official Camp Stimey T-Shirt!! You can get one for your camper or for you—Counselor of the Year!

Now, I'll admit that while I do have a bit of a swelled head, I don't necessarily believe that y'all want to wear Camp Stimey t-shirts. I believe that I will sell one, maybe two, my mom. (Mom, don't feel that you have to buy one either.)

While the Camp Stimey t-shirts are available in my Printfection store, I am willing to customize shirts for your own camp. Are you running Camp Banshee? Camp Lumpyhead? Camp Sweatshop? Let me know if you want me to switch out "Stimey" for your own personal ridiculous nickname. Email me for details. The stars are on the back and there is a small Stimeyland logo on the front.

But the fun doesn't stop there! Have you always wanted to show your love for all things Stimey, but just didn't know how? Well now you can get weird looks because you're wearing a t-shirt with a giant, semi-unidentifiable rodent on the front!

That's the pontificating gerbil to you.

If that's not enough to prove that you fly your quirk flag, the back says, "Get your quirk on."

 I don't think I accidentally stole anyone's tagline. Fingers crossed!

Now, before you all feel like I'm pressuring you to buy merchandise, please don't. I designed them to get Camp Stimey t-shirts for my kids and then decided to make myself a Stimeyland t-shirt while I was at it.

Anywho. Camp Stimey Colonial Week will continue tomorrow with a trip to the cinema to see The Karate Kid. Don't ask me how these things work, alls I know is that a trip to the movies was on the syllabus that I was handed.

I'll let you know how Jamestown goes. Rumor has it that it's going to be 100 fucking degrees, so I'm hopeful that there will be little to no whining. Wish us luck!