Friday, October 29, 2010

My Mouse, Gerbil

Because I have nothing else, but I haven't posted all week, and because Alex is gone again so I may not have time to write for a couple more days, I give you this photo of a cute mouse:


I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Possible That I'm a Terrible Person

I've been extra busy the past couple of weeks because Alex has gone away for the past two weekends, and will again next weekend. The reason for his travel—nay, abandonment? He's going to see Phish. And, yes, your math is right: He will miss Halloween.

Big sad-face emoticon.

Naturally, I've been a little surly. Part of me is all, "Go ahead, sweetheart. Have a great time." But then, this other part of me, who is dragging my three kids all over tarnation all weekend by myself while he sleeps in and then goes to see cool music at night is like, "I haaaaate you."

That mean, kinda terrible (but oh, so justified), part of me laughed really hard on Sunday when Alex called to let me know that he hurt his leg because he fell into a ditch.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Seriously. The dude—stone cold sober, by the way—wandered off the road a little bit and fell into a ditch. A ditch, for the love of Christ. Who does that? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Oh, shut up. He's fine. It's not like he's still lying there or anything.

This whole thing reminded me of the time years ago when Alex and I were crossing the driveway next to our marriage therapist's office and she almost backed over him. I laughed and laughed and laughed. The therapist seemed to think there was something deeply damaged in my subconscious because I thought it was so hysterical that she almost killed Alex, but I swear I was just enjoying the irony.

C'mon. Alex was almost run over by his therapist. That's funny, right? It's not a sign of a latent hatred of my husband, right? If anything, it just means that I'm kind of a bitch. And it's not like she actually hit him or anything. I bet I wouldn't have laughed nearly as hard if she'd done that.

Also, maybe that therapist was trying to throw the blame off of her own self, hmmmm?*

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make a very guilt-ridden traveling Alex do stuff for me. Like the dishes.


* We left that therapist shortly after Sam was born and she freaked out when we told her that we weren't giving him a pacifier and she went on and on about lifelong oral fixation or some such. We never scheduled another appointment and she never called to see if we were still alive. I don't think she was a very good therapist. Or a very good driver, either.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Godspeed, Little Friend

Noki
2007-2010

Rest in peace, my gerbil friend. My thoughts and best wishes go out to your human family. The world is a little less fuzzy today. You will be missed.



Video source

* Um. It's possible that all of these photos are of Noki's cage-mate Robert. It's terrible, I know, but I still can't tell which is which. I do, however, know for a fact that it is Noki who is dead. My sympathies to Robert.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Magical Thinking

I was driving my kids over to my friend H's house today because Alex is out of town and she took pity on me and asked me over to dinner. And, OMG, dinner was good. Thank you, H (and M). You made my weekend.

On the way over, I was chatting with my kids and they started discussing what they would do if they had magic powers. This is always an entertaining conversation to have.

Sam toyed with the idea of time travel at first, so he could travel back in time to school to fix his mistakes. I'll let that sink in for a minute. And then I'll let you know that we are seeking professional help for his anxiety issues.

After discarding that idea, however, he decided that teleportation would be more his style. Regarding magic: "I would use it to get around." You know, kind of like a city bus.

Jack first went with the more aimless idea of "I would shoot lightning out of my finger," but couldn't elaborate why he would do so. He thought about it for a while, then added, "Also, I want to summon a pool with a slide."

You're waiting to hear what Quinn would do with magic aren't you? You're on the edge of your seat, aren't you? Oh, it's even better than you could imagine.

Quinn, given the power of magic, would have big plans.

"I would use it to destroy the world."

Let's hope he never acquires magical powers.

*******

Proving that I can babble on and on about anything, I wrote about professional sports over at Draft Day Suit today. I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to the site's "Why I Love..." series. The women behind Draft Day Suit are some of my favorites. You shouldn't let their questionable judgment in letting me write about sports for them color your opinion of their fantastic site. So, go over to see Why I Love the Oakland Raiders, then poke around a little to see some of the other cool posts there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Field Trips

Sam had a field trip today. The third grade was going to see a production of Bunnicula at a local playhouse. As a longtime fan of Bunnicula as well as its many sequels, including Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight, I was all over chaperoning that trip.

The day that permission slip came home, I scoured it looking for the blank space where I could put my name down, thus ensuring a lovely trip to the theater without my two most ants in the pants children.

Naturally, there was no such space.

Evidently third graders don't need chaperones at the theater. I'm sure when they go to the Boring Museum of Boringness on the busiest day of the year, then there will be a blank space for people to volunteer to chaperone.

Speaking of field trips that are kind of a nightmare to chaperone, the kindergarteners went to the pumpkin patch today. Guess whose permission slip had a spot for my name?

That's us on the bus, shortly before I commenced to trying to not barf.*

I was in charge of three small children. Naturally the first thing I did was take them into a maze made out of hay bales. Good call, Stimey. I was smart enough, however, to keep them out of the corn maze, which, although less sneezy, was taller and easier to lose a child in.

My own family had gone to this pumpkin patch on Sunday, so I had the inside information on what to avoid. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to write "kindergarten field trip" on the list.

Nightmarish as field trips are, there are at least two things I had going for me: (1) I have three kids, so I wasn't as flipped out as some of the chaperones who are parents of only children. Ha, ha, ha, ha, motherfuckers! Welcome to my world! and (2) I like seeing Quinn in his school habitat. It's fun to see him with his peers. He wasn't super social in preschool, so it was neat to see him with buddies this year.

It was also cool to see him happily and generously share the candy corn I'd put in his lunch.

He only kept a third for himself. But it was the yellow part.**

The one thing we all had to do, other than be back at the bus by 12:40, was go on a hayride out to the pumpkin field and pick out a pumpkin. Naturally one of my little charges found the biggest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. Fortunately, he decided it was too heavy before I broke down and agreed to carry it in my backpack, so he selected a smaller one.

I gave in to carrying the pumpkins because the other kid didn't want to choose a pumpkin because he didn't want to carry it. I felt that going back to the bus with three kids and two pumpkins might somehow be worse than going back with just two kids. At least THAT would have been expected of me.

But Quinn? Quinn found his pumpkin right off.

He is SO FUCKING PROUD of that pumpkin.

I selected a lovely, medium-sized, orange pumpkin for myself. Then Quinn found the pumpkin he preferred that I choose for myself.

Lucky me.

Shortly thereafter, we boarded the school bus and returned to the school.

I mean the "Cool Bus."

Quinn spent the entire trip back to the school laying down on a seat. All that bragging about his green pumpkin must have been tiring.

I didn't throw up on this bus trip either.

 In case you're wondering, Sam said Bunnicula was awesome.

* I succeeded. Small victories are awesome.

** Dude, I'm kidding. But funny. So very funny.

******

I leave you with one last photo, just because it's so funny. You know how when kids have their school pictures taken, sometimes they have a second, optional photo with weird backgrounds and props? Like, sit in front of this lamppost and hold this rubber duck? And then your kid smiles that school photo smile and it's so hilarious that you have to buy the photo even though it costs $13.50 a print?

Exactly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons in the Face of Rudeness

Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right and you decide that you're a terrible parent, only to have your entire mood turn around when someone tells you something unexpected and wonderful about your children and your parenting skills?

Isn't that the best?

Yeah, I had the exact opposite of that happen to me today.

We were at OT this afternoon for Sam, because Sam gets OT now because he has some handwriting issues, and my children were all insane in the membrane, as they are wont to be, running around like little maniacs while the OT was trying to talk to me about how we can just get Sam to slow down and write neatly already.

I flashed back to when I had all three of them at a doctor's office and they weren't even being all that, let's say "enthusiastic," and the doctor told me, "I feel for you." I'm not sure if that's because I had just made a joke that even though Jack is autistic, look at him drawing quietly in the corner, and she was "feeling for me" because I have a child with autism or that she was "feeling for me" because my children have the decorum of wildebeests.

Honestly, I'm a lot more upset about the latter.

I spend a lot of time when we are out in public giving lessons when my children are rude. If you were to run into me somewhere, you would likely hear me saying, "This is a place of business, so we do not run," or "We walk on the right side of the hallway," or "If someone says 'excuse me,' you look up to see if they are talking to you and then you move out of the way."

That last lesson was taught in a 7-11 and resulted in the gentleman next to us sheepishly saying "excuse me" and moving out of our way as we left. He told me it was a good lesson.

The lesson I taught in the face of rudeness today was, "When your OT calls your name, you don't just ignore her until you are finished reading your sentence."

Anyway, all of this constant correcting makes me feel like I am the worst mother in the world with the worst behaved children in the world. I said something to that effect when Jack tossed Quinn into a glass wall this afternoon.

The therapist then told me, "No, you're one of my favorite moms. I think you're doing a great job with them. You're trying. So many parents don't seem to try." That may not be exactly what she said, but it was the gist of it. I don't remember exactly because I was too busy feeling happy, trying to pay attention, and attempting to prevent any of my kids from getting on the elevator without me.

I do remember driving home feeling pretty proud of myself.

I was proud right up until I had to make a stop and, on the way back to the car, accidentally threw Quinn to the ground, bloodying his gums and injuring his cheek on the door to the car. What followed was a carnival of "I hate you, Mom!"s and "You did that on purpose!" from one child, followed by a vigorous defense of me by another child, which resulted in a verbal fistfight between the two of them.

I arrived home to an untidy house, dinner that had to be made, homework that had to be finished, and a rapidly disintegrating self esteem.

Parenting is hard.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Play Ball! Wait, No. That Doesn't Work. Play...Puck?

I don't know anything about hockey. Not a damn thing. All I know is that Jack loves to play it. He had his first official hockey game last weekend and I had to ask twitter how many people play on each team because I had no idea. (And it's hard to tell at these particular games, because there are lots of mentors there to help the athletes, so there were, like, thirty people on the ice.)

Jack was really excited to play in an actual game because it meant that he could wear his game jersey with his number and his name on the back. He was so excited.

And incredibly adorable.

The hockey game was on Sunday. If you were paying attention, Sunday was 10/10/10. Now, in binary, 101010 = 42. Nerds the world over delighted in this, what with 42 being the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Naturally, Alex and I are a couple of those nerds, but Alex is the only part of this nerd couple who speaks binary.

Number 42 in the hizzouse!

Naturally, Alex was very excited and set about teaching me how to count in binary using a crayon and a paper napkin.

But I digress. Jack was absolutely adorable out on the ice. He very gamely and very slowly skated back and forth from goal to goal, vaguely following the action. He did manage to touch the puck once when he was in the little face off at the beginning of a period when the referee drops the puck between two players on opposite teams and they both try to hit the thing. I don't know what that's called. I told you I don't know anything about hockey.

Jack's team practices at a regular ol' ice rink in Maryland. They got to play this game at the Capitals' practice rink in Virginia. It was very exciting. Jack was fascinated by the timekeeping...thingy hanging from the ceiling. The one at our home rink is not so cool. He fell over more than once because he was trying to look at it while skating right underneath it.

See what I mean about a lot of people on the ice?

Alex, Sam, and Quinn came to the game too, which was very cool, because they hadn't seen Jack skate yet. Alex was blown away. He saw the magic on the ice rink, just like I see it every week. Unfortunately, he was ill prepared for the rink temperature and wore shorts and almost forgot a jacket. Fortunately Quinn and I thought ahead.

You'd never know it was 80 degrees outside.

Sam refused to sit near us. He sat waaay up in the back of the bleachers. Turns out my kid is old enough to sit by himself now. I'm not sure I'm ready for that milestone.

Mr. Independent.

He seemed pretty engrossed in the game. It's unusual for him to sit in one place so quietly for so long, so at one point I finally decided to check on him.

Oh.

Evidently he was still tired from his sleepover the night before.

I think Jack was tired from the night before too. The players were rotating through every three minutes or so, so Jack played for half of the 45-minute game time. Near the end of the game he began to fall more often. Then he clearly started to notice the attention he was getting from the mentors, many of whom were girl hockey players.

Girl hockey players, by the way, are automatically badass.

Anyway, these mentors gave Jack a lot of attention and he started to ham it up for them. At one point he had five mentors around him helping him up. The coach was joking with him about getting all the ladies.

I think that caused Jack to ham it up even more.

 And ham it up he did.

That kid is lucky he's cute.


I love our hockey team.

******

I'm all about hockey today. Check out what I wrote about Jack's team over at Hopeful Parents.

You can also read my review of EA Sports' NHL Slapshot over at my review blog.

Now I'm going to go NOT think about hockey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sam's Seventeen-Hour Long Birthday Party

Today is Sam's birthday. Today he is nine years old. Today he will go to school, come home, tag along with us to Jack's OT and do his homework. I will take him to the park with his brothers and then we will go home to eat dinner—Sam's choice. Alex will come home from work and Sam will open his presents. At this point, which will probably be five or ten minutes before bedtime, Sam will throw a tizzy fit because there will be no time to explore his gifts before he is forced into his room.

It's gonna be awesome.

But this post isn't about that. This post is about Sam's birthday party, which was last Saturday. And Sunday. Actually Saturday through Sunday. See, a while back Sam said he wanted to have a sleepover party. Alex jumped right on top of that assuming that it would be easier and cheaper than a shorter party with more kids. I was dumb enough to agree.

I was also dumb enough to invite five children (plus my own three, mind you) for this little shindig.

Sam had a list of snacks he wanted at his party: Doritos, Cheetos, chips, and two kinds of Oreos. Clearly the kid has been paying attention, because that, plus juice boxes and pizza, is my standard party fare.

 There's a reason it's standard fare. It's a people pleaser!

I always buy one balloon and tie it on my porch so that when people arrive they don't have that moment of, "Crap. Is this the right day and the right place?" One year a kid arrived to our party a full week early. It was traumatic for both me and the dad.

Anyway, I forgot to get a balloon, so I asked Alex to pick one up. He did a stellar job.

Good Luck?! Are you kidding me, Alex?

Fortunately, I was able to fix it so you'd never even know it was wrong. Sam loved the balloon. It is now tied to his bedpost.

Guest arrival time quickly turned into gunplay in the back yard. I never thought I would be part of THAT family, but I am. We are swimming in dart guns, swords, and light sabers.

 Hmmm. I wonder which parent is happiest about that.

Sam's friend M then taught him how to climb a previously inaccessible tree. That M, always up to no good. I swear. His mom obviously lets him play outside too much. Doesn't she know what video games are for?

 Eh. What's the worst that could happen?*

* That's not really a question. Don't tell me.

Munchkins cannot live on Doritos and Cheetos alone. At least I think they can't. My nine-year-long experiment on this very thing is thus far inconclusive. Because I don't even like to cook for my own kids, I decided to make the party guests cook for themselves.

This was a messy process.

I gave each kid a crust and put out bowls of cheese and pepperoni. I also put out mushrooms and olives because I felt it was important to at least pretend to offer a vegetable. Not one child used a single one. The pizzas turned out well though and only one child dropped his cooked pizza on the floor.

I know you're wondering. No, I didn't let him eat it, o ye of little faith.

Now that I had them sitting, I didn't want to lose them while the pizzas were cooking. That's right: Craft Time!

Craft Time is a standard at a Stimey party, right up there with Doritos and Oreos. This time, while browsing at the craft store, I found these amazing little kits of paint and ceramic Halloween statues for TWO DOLLARS each. I spent $6, leaving me with 18 tiny statues. It was seriously the best six dollars I have ever spent in my life.

 All eight kids were engrossed.

And not bad artists to boot.

After dinner, I unleashed them back into the backyard, but with 45 glow sticks pinpointing their locations.

We're still finding them around my house and yard.
(The glow sticks, not the kids.)

Seriously. Buy these for your next party that takes place in the dark. They cost, like, a dollar for 15. For that amount, we could play with them every day.

 Plus, you can use them to tie up your kids without looking like a monster.

Next up was cake.

I had ordered a cake from the grocery store with a Star Wars theme. The theme kit included two action figures and some giant plastic shield thing. When I picked up the cake, however, it became obvious that the cake I had ordered was too small for the decorations. They clearly had had to make a choice between the action figures with the actually lighting up light sabers or the weird plastic shield thing.

I would have made a different choice.

 See how much better this is? It's not rocket science.

I do believe Sam agrees.

We planned to watch a movie after cake, but I made the rookie mistake of assuming that eight kids could participate in a vote with multiple options. (Sound like anything I might have done on my blog lately?) I think I might have too much faith in democracy.

There were some raised voices and at least one stomping off of a disgruntled child, but we finally settled on watching Monsters vs. Aliens. Well, Alex and I settled on watching Monsters vs. Aliens. The eight of them settled on talking through Monsters vs. Aliens.

Our post-movie time is a haze of attrition, when we lost more than half of our guests to planned departures, a set of brothers who decided to not sleep over, and one dramatic case of vomiting in the front yard.

We're darn lucky we didn't lose a fourth kid to a light saber stabbing like we almost did. I think it would have been terribly embarrassing and not a very good testament to my party-giving/supervising skills if only one child made it to the end of the party.

Sam's 9th Birthday Party, a.k.a. Thunderdome.

Everything else was smooth and easy. Everyone slept through the night. All the Both parents came to pick up their children on time the next day. There are no more reports of puking, so hopefully I didn't poison anyone.

All in all, the party wasn't terrible. In fact, it was pretty fun. I might even go so far as to say that I'm willing to do it again.

*****

Happy Birthday, Sam, my love. You astound me every day. Thank you for being my first little dude—who is rapidly becoming a big dude. I would tell you to stop getting older and bigger now, thank you very much, but for the fact that you're turning into such a cool guy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Think This Has Become Overly Complicated

So it seems that most of you don't want to subscribe to replies to get my responses to your comments. Okay then. Here's what I'm going to do.

I am going to write a long post about options, alternatives, and what ifs and then delete it to say...

If  I reply to your comment publicly in the comment section, I will also cc you on the reply so you don't have to subscribe to comments to hear what I have to say.

Everybody happy now?

*me, trying to stuff worms back into can and hammer it shut*

Edited to add: Well, now you people are confusing me! I've decided that I will be wildly inconsistent in how I reply to you. Maybe I'll even send your reply to someone else. I will stop over-thinking now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Big News in Quinnland (And a Couple of Other Things)

Quinn read his very first book today.

There was a book in his school folder in his backpack tonight, so we pulled it out and told him it was his homework to read it. And he did. I almost passed out right there. Then I ran to get my camera to document the momentous occasion. He was so cute reading it out loud. Although it's possible that there was more memorization than actual reading.


 The book was all about parents. This mom is a police officer.


And dad is a vet.


But wait! THIS dad is a farmer. Talk about a page turner. I was on the edge of my seat.


Spoiler alert: Now, I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but there was quite a plot twist at the end. Mom is a farmer TOO?!


I love me a good book.

But mostly I love me a kid who is excited about learning something new. Good job, Quinn!

*****

I fear I've confused you even more about my commenting system. Here is a poll to help you help me. Chances are good that I will ignore the results if they confuse me. Chances are good that the results will confuse me.

The poll is called: What Annoys You Most? (And the weird spacing after this poll doesn't count as one of the choices.)


*****

And because you like my mice, or at least a couple of vocal commenters like my mice, I present to you this very cute photo taken of two of them just prior to the epic fight that resulted in the toppling of their brand new tiki hut.


Don't worry. They are fine and seem to be happy with each other again. I am close to renaming them Stimey and Alex.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tech Stuff, Mostly of Interest to Bloggers, Possibly of Interest to You

I have posts to write that will last me all week. We had a slumber party for Sam's 9th birthday this weekend, Sam had an awesome soccer game, and Jack played his first hockey game. I don't think I have the fortitude to tackle any of those topics yet, so I'm going to cover some changes/additions/etc to my blog. I won't feel bad if you don't read this, but I'm sure it will be fascinating. For some reason I feel you need to know about the following three things:

1. Stimeyland (and also The Junk Pyramid and Things and Stuff Reviews) is now offering email subscriptions. (AutMont has always offered them.)

2. I'm now watermarking my photos.

3. Information and feedback on my new comment system.

If any of these topics sound of interest to you, please to continue reading below. If not, see you tomorrow! Or the next day.

1. Stimeyland's new email subscriptions!

I am aware that some people do not use feed readers for their blog reading. Some of you just visit blogs by bookmarking them or remembering them in your head. Although those of you who just remember sites in their heads must be coming here to laugh at me and my disorganization.

However, there are probably people who don't want to have to come all the way over to Stimeyland to check to see if there is a post and be gravely, gravely disappointed when there is not. For you, I have introduced email subscriptions.

Look in the middle column over there to the right. Scroll down under those six buttons in the information booth. See where it says "Subscribe to Stimeyland by Email"? Click that, fill out the information, and wait patiently for Stimeyland to be delivered to you every evening.

You get a maximum of one email a day, even if I write more than one post. It will come from "Jean" at stimeyland at gmail dot com. It might get sent to your junk/spam folder, so be sure to check there if you don't get it in your inbox. I subscribed to my AutMont email feed, got it in my inbox for a couple of days and then had to rescue it from my spam box by marking it as safe. Weird.

2. I'm watermarking my photos!

I publish lots of photos of my kids on this blog. I've put thought into this and have come to terms with my decision. I publish their names and have allowed my online name to become public. That online name is my maiden name, and not the same as my kids' last name. I have weighed pros and cons and am comfortable with this.

I put a lot of thought into what I write about my children and the photos that I post of them. In more than three years of blogging, there are only a couple of posts that I would alter in terms of what I've written/posted.

Regardless, I've been meaning to start watermarking my photos (for example of watermarking, see this post) for a while now, but have always had more pressing things to do. My reasons for wanting to watermark are for greater copyright purposes ("Git yer mitts offa my pictures!"), but also for a more personal reason ("Don't use photos of my kids for nefarious purposes.").

I finally decided to get started on my watermark after reading this post by Heather Spohr. There are lots of reactions you can have to that post. My reaction is that I have decided to create photos that feature text that is hard to crop out, hopefully making the photo unattractive to steal.

Granted, it would be easy to Photoshop my watermark out, but hopefully, it will have the same effect as the Club on a car or an alarm system sign in front of a house—a little deterrent that causes a perpetrator to decide it's not worth the hassle.

The watermarks probably won't exist on every photo because I'm lazy. They'll probably mostly go on photos of my kids.

Hopefully my watermarks won't be too obtrusive, but just obtrusive enough. I also completely forgot to add them to two posts after instituting my watermark policy. Shut up. It's not a perfect system.

3. My new commenting system: Intense Debate

If you comment on my blog, you probably noticed a while ago that I changed from using Blogger's standard commenting system to Intense Debate. I've been mostly happy with it, but there are a few things that I would like to discuss with you.

Perhaps the most important thing that I have done is changed the way I reply to comments. I used to track down people's email addresses and send emails in reply to comments. (Not to every comment, mind you, but many of them.) Now I reply mostly in the comment section.

See, for example, this comment from Jodifur and my reply:

Now in the past, I would have emailed her. I still do that sometimes. But when I think the answer is something more than just Jodi would be interested in—for instance, my victory in this situation—or if I think my reply is hysterical (I know. I'm a comic genius.), I put it in the comments. Hopefully, Jodi has her comment form set to "Subscribe to Replies," which means she will get an email from me with my reply.

Confused? I have created the following for you:


That is my comment form. I have circled what your comment form should say before you submit it. And trust me, my comment section isn't a hotbed of discourse, so I almost guarantee you that mine will be the only email you get.

Also, just so you know, if I respond to you and then you email me back, but instead of my email address appearing in your "to" box, what you see below shows up, your email address will appear in my comments section. I'm just telling you in case you care.
See, like my email address showed up below, because I emailed my response to Sue's comment with the "to" address similar to the one in the screengrab above.

Emailing a response to that "notifications" address will cause your response to appear in the comments section. It will also come to me because I always make my comment form say "Subscribe to Replies." Practice what you preach, I say.

If you reply directly from the comments section, your email address doesn't show up publicly.

So, to sum up: I sometimes email responses to you privately, sometimes through my comments section, and sometimes not at all. If you "subscribe to replies," you should get my reply regardless of how I respond to you. If there is something I really think you need to know, I might reply through the comment section but also cc your email address, possibly causing you to get the response twice. Many apologies in advance.

Holy crap. I've confused even myself. Does any of this make sense?

Now. Pop Quiz:

1. What was the first thing I discussed in my post?
(a) Um...mice?
(b) That cat you won't shut up about?
(c) I'm pretty sure it has something to do with toothbrushes.
(d) Email subscriptions.

2. Why shouldn't you steal my photos?
(a) Your photos are lame.
(b) They are your property!
(c) I'm not an asshole.
(d) I'm confused about who "you" and "I" refer to in these questions and answers.

3. Are you ever going to comment here again?
(a) Yes.
(b) No.
(c) Maybe so.
(d) All of the above.

One More Thing About the New Car

So here's something kinda funny.

When we were first looking at our new car before we bought it, I asked the salesguy if our kids would be able to open the back doors while the car was moving. He assured me that they would not be able to, and in fact, even when the car is stopped, in park, and turned off, you have to open the doors from the outside if the child safety locks are engaged.

I was completely happy with this arrangement. Alex was not. 

He disengaged one of the child safety locks but assured me that he left the one on Quinn's side locked, as in his eyes, Quinn was the one most likely to bail from the car.

I told Alex that I thought both sides should be engaged as I have heard waaay more than one story about people with autism opening car doors while the car is in motion and I know that it only has to happen once in the wrong place.

Plus, put a lever in front of Jack, strap him down in front of that lever, and then assume he won't pull it?

Puh-lease.

Alex was all, "Pfffft, Jack's never done that before," and I had to remind him that Jack has been in a minivan since he was one and a half and therefore had not had the opportunity to leap from a moving car.

I think we ended the conversation by agreeing to re-engage the child safety lock.

Evidently Alex forgot to do that prior to taking the children on their inaugural ride in the car. Guess how long it took Jack to open the door while moving?

Two blocks.

They were stopped at a stoplight probably 0.15 miles from our house when Jack tested the door.

It should please you to hear that the child safety locks are re-engaged.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two-Car Family

We bought a car yesterday. It was really exciting. We've been a one-car family since 2003, when we moved to Maryland, and it's worked out pretty well for us. Lately, however, it's been getting tougher. There have been more and more times lately when two of our kids need to be in different places at the same time.

And since, much to Alex's (hopefully mock) chagrin, I won't let him put any of our kids on his motorcycle, we've had days where we've been stuck. The day that Alex, Sam, and Quinn had to take a cab to Sam's soccer game is perhaps the most recent and most egregious example, although I have dragged munchkins on more buses and long walks than I care to remember.

We decided to buy a Ford Fusion and Alex found a great deal, so yesterday we headed up to the dealership en masse to buy us a car. Because there's really nothing better than taking a bunch of kids with you to buy a car. I mean, how long could it take, right?

I should have remembered that it takes a long time because last time we bought a car, I was pregnant with Quinn, which means I had a three-year-old Sam and a one-and-a-half-year-old Jack with me and we climbed in and out of every single car in the showroom at least 12 times while Alex dealt with the salesperson.

Clearly Team Stimey does not learn from the past. Hence our being doomed to repeat it.

Here we are letting our kids run around in a parking lot.

Here is Sam telling us we are about to waste thousands of dollars because
the car costs a lot. Also notice Quinn trying to break in.

We dragged the munchkins out on a test drive, during which they were really freaked out because I think they thought (a) we were stealing the car, and (b) we'd forgotten about our old car parked back in the lot. They kept telling us to turn around.

After that, it was into the showroom, where there were a surprising number of people with small children. I guess that's what families do on Friday nights. However, no one else was smart enough to make use of the Child Containment Units in the corner, also known as "colorful squares adhered to the floor."

Or maybe instead of "smart," it's just that their
children were "better behaved than mine."

Colorful squares adhered to the floor can only keep my kids entertained for so long, however. Before long, we had to move to the one car in the showroom.

Please notice that he buckled his seat belt right off the bat.

I got tired of the inside of the car before the munchkins did. Fortunately, some kind salesperson took pity on us and gave us two coloring books.

Um. Two.

These guys were happy.

After holding them off for a good hour, I finally gave in and handed them my iPhone and their DSi. That held them for another hour when I finally gave up and dragged them home, leaving Alex behind. Alex finally came home an hour after that.

But it was so worth it. Because we went from this:

 Stupid, lame, old, dirty van.

To this:

Awesome Ford Fusion. *angels singing*

That color? Is called Blue Flame. Holy shit it is bright. Alex will probably be calling it Blue Steel and making lots of Zoolander jokes, which would only be improved had we purchased the car in the color known as Steel Blue, I kid you not.

This car has a sunroof. A sunroof. I've never had a sunroof. I am more excited about this than I should be. I will, however, almost definitely leave it open over and over again. I can't wait until Snowpocalypse 2011 when I forget to close the thing and come out in the morning to find three feet of snow filling our new car.

The car also listens to voice commands. Just today I said, "Play artist the White Stripes," and the White Stripes, loaded on my iPhone, came playing through the car speakers. The car will text for me through voice command if I ever figure out how to do it—and figure out someone I need to text.

That might take a while though. I accidently replied "yes" to one of the car's questions and redialed a store I'd called earlier in the day. It took me a full minute to figure out how to hang up on them without saying hello. I'm an asshole.

I imagine it is kind of funny to see me get out of the damn thing. After more than a decade of driving SUVs and minivans, I can no longer climb out of a regular car. It's a little weird to be so low to the ground, I tell you.

But did I say it's worth it? 'Cause it is. Because:

1. Sunroof
2. The car listens to me, which is more than I can say for anyone else in this house.
3. Zoolander jokes
4. No crumbs wedged in the seats. Yet.
5. No more cabs or buses
6. No car payments. Hmmm. No. Insurance only on one car. Huh. No again. Good for the environment. Convenience.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Squeak...Squeak...SQUEEEEEEEEAK!

I spend a lot of time in the room of my house that we call "the TV room." It is thus called because we keep the TV there.

I know. We're nothing if not a literal people.

Also in that room is my desk. I spend a great deal of time sitting at my desk, hunched over my laptop. Whilst sitting at my desk, if I look to my right, I see the TV and whatever nerdy program I have on. If I look to my left, this is what I see:

Bo-ring!

That computer was new in 2003. It is dyyyying, and slowly. Although I loved this computer dearly for a long time, at this point, I don't even use it. Its only current function is to serve as a conduit to download large music files, which Alex does sporadically. It is amusing, I have to say, to see Alex perched on that little preschool chair.

I decided that I don't like looking at the computer anymore, so I shifted it out of the way and now this is what I get to see when I turn to the left:

 Delightful!

I finally decided to move the mice from the kitchen, where I spent three, maybe four minutes a day, to the tv room, where I spend three, maybe four...teen hours a day.

Alex was a little put out by this. He complained that the wheel squeaking would bother him. I kind of like the squeaking wheel, not to mention that I adore the mouse squeaks. Very audibly adorable. They make me happy.

I've learned a lot about the mice in the past day and a half. And by "a lot," I mean "two things." The first is that Whiskers (Alex's black and white mouse) is by far the most energetic. She's always out running around. The second is that the mice like to run on the blue wire wheel in pairs. Oh, and I also learned exactly how many days it takes before mouse stench travels four feet to my desk. So three things.

There is one issue. Our cats never noticed the mice when they lived in the kitchen. Now that the mice are much closer to the ground, our gray cat (a.k.a. the mean cat), Denali, now knows they exist. I'm not concerned about her getting to the mice because I have four metal clips holding the top of the cage on, and frankly, even I have a hard time getting the clips off, so I think they're safe.

I just don't want them to have five tiny little heart attacks when they see this staring at them through the glass.

The benefit, besides the fact that I get to see them all the time, is that they are down at kid level.

 Jack actually fits in the chair.

Jack disappeared for a while this afternoon after he finished his homework. Then I heard him laughing and laughing. He was just hanging out laughing with the mice. Then I made him share his Cheerios with them.

The mice liked them. Big surprise.
The dog also liked the ones Jack spilled on the floor.

They're so fun. I highly recommend mice for any family.

As long as we're knee deep into a pet-heavy post, I thought I'd let you know how my cat is doing. Her vet called the other day and told me that all of her blood work came back with levels in the normal range, which means the medication and fluids I'm giving her are keeping her stable. Hooray! The only thing that's not okay is her red blood cell concentration, which seems serious, but we're rechecking it in two weeks, so I've decided to not Google it.

Now I'm going to go stare at my mice and listen to them run in their little wheel.