Monday, November 29, 2010

This Would Be Easier With Fewer Children

I had a lovely Thanksgiving, but I don't want anyone to think that I didn't notice that Thursday was the start line for three...two...one...Christmas...GO!!!!!

I didn't shop or browse or make plans or anything over the weekend, but I did come to the startling realization that of the thousands of photos I've taken over the past eleven months, there isn't ONE that is a holiday card-worthy shot of all three of my kids.

With this in mind, when Alex suggested we take the kids to the park on Friday, I grabbed my camera and tagged along. Surely I'd be able to snap at least one moderately successful photo of all three of my kids.

(Those of you with three kids are laughing hysterically right about now.)

Considering that last year's photo included dirty clothing, a child with a black eye, and not everyone looking at the camera, you should believe me when I say that I'm not looking for perfection out of my children. I'm just looking for personality and a photo where no one is making an obscene gesture.

Alex had some grand plans, however. He saw a tree and was all, "How about we line them all up on a branch?"

Okay, Alex. How about we do that?

Step One: Hoist Quinn into a precarious position in the tree. Tell him to hold on and stay calm.

Possibly take a knee to the nose.

Step Two: Ignore completely unphotogenic positioning of youngest child and go about inserting terrified middle child into the tree.

We knew he was terrified because he said, "I'm terrified."

Step Three: Give the terrified middle child plenty of opportunity to calm down while realizing that lifting 70 pounds of Sam is harder in reality than it sounds in theory.

Get...up....there!

Step Four: Delight in the fact that you have captured the perfect holiday card moment.

Ta da!

Okay, even with my lax standards, I can't put that on a holiday card. So how's about we try putting them in a gazebo. That sounds lovely, right?

Yeah. That's about right.

So posing them isn't working very well. How about I let them play and I'll capture the perfect moment just by chance? (And by "chance," I mean "fat chance.")
Crazy much, Sam?

Well, two years ago, I got a great photo for my card by making my kids hug. Maybe I could capture that again.

SO close. If only Quinn's eyes were open.

I'm pretty good at doctoring photos though. Maybe I can work some magic on those closed peepers

Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.

Maybe I could use an alternate photo subject.

She was really unhappy about the tunnel, by the way.

Step Penultimate: Admit defeat. Get great photo of my children's warlike victory over compliance. Mutter curse words under my breath.

Take that, scurvy photographer!

The last step, of course, is to sic the children on their father, who had abandoned us at the park while I was in the middle of trying to capture photos of my kids going down the slide. It will not surprise you to hear that the slide photos did not turn out.

Shortly thereafter, they ran him through with their plastic swords.

Well then. Maybe just a letter this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful...

...for these guys.

Well, duh.

Jack came home from school the other day with a little book of things he is thankful for. Its contents are better than anything I could write, so I'll let him do our Thanksgiving day post. Take it away, Jack!

 Team Stimey, by Jack.

 I think Jack might be sucking up to his teacher on this next page. I don't believe a word of it.

 At school, I'm thankful for...
doing my work.

 This next one though? All true.

 I'm thankful I have...
to play video games on Sunday, Friday and Saturday.

Seriously. The Nintendo corporation should have him on retainer.

This next one is my favorite of the whole bunch. I think you might be able to see why.

 Outside, when I look at nature, I'm thankful for...
finding the perfect flower for mom.

 Jack gets a little meta on the next page.

I almost forgot! I'm also thankful for...
being thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Happy Thursday to everyone else.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Photo Session

I'm such a fan of school photos. My kids are gorgeous and charismatic, but that so rarely comes through in school photos, which is ironic, considering those people are quote-unquote professional photographers.

This year I didn't order any photos, I just ordered a CD with the final image and a copyright release. I was highly amused to see that Sam and Jack's CDs each contained one image, but Quinn's contained three. I can't decide if it's because they wanted to make me laugh harder than I've ever laughed in my life or because they thought his photos were unusable and they figured three unusable photos were better than one.

I disagree. I think they're über-usable. I always put my kids' school photos in a three-space frame, and I'm having a hard time deciding which of Quinn's to use. I'm leaning toward the second one. You'll see.

I've decided to present my children with awards for their photos.

Sam: Most normal looking.
OR
Sam: "I've had the most practice at this"-est.


Jack: Toothiest.
OR
Jack: Most obviously recently coiffed.


Quinn: Most "They told me to smile"-est.


Quinn: Most "Is this better?"-est.
OR
Quinn: Best capture of a personality.


Quinn: Most stoned.
OR
Photo Company: "Let's give them the one with his eyes
half closed because he looks less crazy"-est.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Procuring a Turkey

Alex cooks Thanksgiving dinner. All of it. It started one year when he made the turkey and then he just took over more and more. Now, all I am responsible for is mixing the fruit cocktail into the Jell-o* and opening the cranberry sauce—you know, the gelatin food group.

In exchange for Alex's continued cooperation in cooking all of Thanksgiving dinner, I try to not call too much attention to it and also avoid eye contact while thanking him profusely. I also am willing to look the other way when he insists on buying a fancy turkey from a farm market instead of a Butterball from the grocery store.

This isn't such a bad thing, I suppose. Our first year in Maryland, we went to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving to find a turkey, but all they had left were frozen turkeys. After assuring us that we were too late(!) and we would not be able to find a non-frozen turkey anywhere(!), the store employee suggested we buy two chickens instead.

We found a fresh turkey at the next grocery store over.

Anyway, when Alex tells me that he ordered a turkey from the farm market, I roll my eyes, get a couple extra twenties out of the ATM and prepare to eat myself sick. This year, however, Alex gave me the task of picking up the turkey myself.

Audible sigh.

I guess that picking up a 15-pound turkey on his motorcycle commute is not Alex's cup of tea. C'mon, what are saddlebags for?

Word is that our turkey was "processed"** three days ago, so the munchkins and I headed down to the market today to pick up the bird. Turns out that said farm market is a stand on the side of the road.

Hmmm. Dicey.

IMG_9859
We ended up walking through the mud on the other side of the cars.

I will neither confirm nor deny that I dropped our turkey in the mud.

Now he's in our fridge all ready to be stuffed, basted, and devoured. Thank you, kind hapless turkey, for being our dinner. I look forward to sitting on the couch while Alex cooks you.

I love Thanksgiving.

* I am WELL aware of how trashy this makes me, but twice a year I eat a whole box of raspberry Jell-o with fruit cocktail mixed in. Sue me.

** "Murdered."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Adventures From My Week—Pumpkins, Fist Fights & Zombiraptors!

I have spent my week frantically working to catch up on...everything? Nothing? Somehow I am vaguely quivering with the notion that I have forgotten...something? Everything?

It has been quite a week, let me tell you. I spent most of it sneezing, due to the cold I had. Yesterday I woke up NOT feeling like the dog had slept on my face, so I assumed I was getting better. But today I woke up coughing.

I brought my pillow downstairs from my bedroom today and told Alex that when he gets home from work I will almost certainly be asleep on it.

Before that happens, I present to you...My Week! (Now with 30% more ellipses.)

Here's something: Alex won. I finally gave up yesterday and tossed the pumpkins. Except for one, which I relocated to the back porch so we can still watch the squirrels snack on it, but the neighbors can't watch Wild America, Team Stimey Edition.

Let's see, what else happened this week? Oh! Quinn got into his first fist fight. My kids have these great friends who live just around the corner and every morning when we are waiting for the bus, they run around and play with each other. Well, on Wednesday, Quinn and his kindergarten buddy decided to fist fight for fun.

The words, "You guys, I don't want want you to hit," had just come out of my mouth when the other kid landed a lucky punch on Quinn's nose and Quinn started crying. Then his nose started bleeding.

Then his nose started bleeding more.

Then he started to retch.

Then he started to throw up a delightful mix of blood and vomit all over his little buddy's driveway while the other parents looked on—including the horrified dad of Quinn's friend.

Honestly, I think sometimes it's easier to be the parent of the kid who got hurt, especially in a no-blame situation where both kids were being idiots.

Naturally, as soon as Quinn stabilized, I walked him home, cleaned him up, and let him calm down for a while before I ultimately sent him to school. I also calmed down the other kid's mom who called, frantically worried that her son had broken Quinn's nose.

The fun part of this story, however, is that now that ANY KIND OF ROUGH PLAY AT THE BUS STOP BEFORE SCHOOL IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN, Quinn has started, for lack of a better word, performing at the bus stop.

Yesterday and today he spent our time at the bus stop prancing around and making funny noises. He hid behind a post and waved at the kids with one arm, then the other, then both. He's started taking pratfalls, rolling around on the grass with his limbs all a-flailing, all to the delighted laughter of four or five other little kids waiting for the bus. It is hysterical.

Hmmmm, oh, Sam reached unforeseen levels of anxiety over a situation at school that is kind of unfair. I've mostly worked it out with the teacher, but basically I just had to tell Sam, "Dude, I agree with you. And it sucks. Tell me when it happens and I'll try to deal with it."

See, there's a situation that all the kids in a class were getting a consequence for something that only some of the kids were doing, which is a whole can of worms because then the non-misbehaving kids are annoyed at the misbehaving kids when really they should be RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE, but the machine never gets blamed does it? Not until college, at least.

Awesomely, Alex was all, "They can't do that if he did nothing. It's a basic tenet of due process." Yeah. Tell it to the Fourth Circuit. I don't think Sam is suing for violation of his rights.

Jack's been on a pretty even keel. I did write about him and how he knows he has autism over at Hopeful Parents. (Well, he doesn't have autism at Hopeful Parents. He has autism everywhere. I write about it at Hopeful Parents. Can you believe that I used to be a copy editor?)

I post over there on the 15th of every month and that is one of those things that I always feel like I am forgetting. I spend probably half of every month worried that I am going to forget to write there. Like, the 5th approaches and I'm all, "Oh, crap. Gotta think of a good idea." And then the 10th approaches and I'm all, "Oh, crap. Don't forget you have to write something for Hopeful Parents." And then suddenly it's the 15th at 10 p.m. and someone reminds me on twitter that I haven't written anything and I'm all, "OH, CRAP. Brain dump."

Something that did happen is that I made Jack a sandwich after school on Tuesday. He will occasionally make his own sandwich and has started cutting it into a triangle. When he asked me for a triangle sandwich, I attempted to waste the least amount of bread possible.

This was not acceptable to Jack.

From Twitter.

Detente was eventually achieved.

In Stimey news, I was reintroduced to one of my childhood traumas this week. Marita and Kate and I were on twitter discussing zombies and zombies at Christmas and then somehow something started up about velociraptors, which rapidly devolved into something about zombiraptors, and I ended up reading a forum page on which someone brought up the short story Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson.

For the non-twitterers out there, this will either convince you that Twitter is the most awesome thing in the world and you have to jump on it immediately or I just drove another nail into the "Why the hell do people waste time on Twitter" coffin.

Anyway, Leiningen Versus the Ants is basically about a man who wages war against a sea of invading, deadly ants. My sister was assigned to read that story in 7th grade English class, I think. Naturally, my 5th grade self read it as well. I don't know what it was about the story, but it TERRIFIED me.

I would sit in my bed at night and position myself so that I could see the patch of light in the hallway to make sure that the ants weren't flooding down the stairs.

Clearly I was not a very smart 5th grader because it's not like that army of ants would show up unannounced. There would obviously be news reports like, "Well, the ants are in Peru now." Then six months later, "The ants have achieved Mexico." Then in another four months, "The ants are continuing their march toward their ultimate goal of Jean's bedroom. No one tell her, okay?"

It is, to date, the scariest story I have ever read. And I read a lot of scary stories. (Why, just last night I read Bunnicula to my kids.) If you read it and you don't think it's scary, please keep in mind that I was a young(ish) child with a big imagination, a lack of critical thinking skills, and, evidently, a high level of anxiety.

I leave you now in hopes that you will conduct your Friday with joy and dignity. I am going to go sit at my back window and wait for the squirrels.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing About My Kids Online: Safety, Privacy, Legal Issues, Advocacy, History, and Loooooove!

I have read a flurry of posts recently about how much we should write about our children online. This is a fascinating question, and probably one with a different answer for each blogger out there.

I remember way back in journalism school, I took a class on magazine writing from a woman who said it took her about six months before she started using her baby as story fodder.

At the time I was a little bit aghast about her rampant exploitation of her child. But, hey, look! Now the only difference between me and her is that I exploit my children probably far more often than she does and for a lot less money.

There are a lot of reasons why I blog—self-expression and community being two of the biggest. But I also have specific reasons for writing about my kids the way I do. I see this issue through the lens of six smaller lenses (think fly eyes with lots of compound parts—or just six compound parts): safety, privacy, legal issues, advocacy, history, loooove.

Safety:

I'm vigilant about my kids' safety. I have an alarm on my house. My kids don't walk places by themselves (yet). I make them wear seat belts. I keep them away from swiftly moving water. I teach them about getting lost (and getting found). I am, repeat, vigilant about my kids' safety.

I don't think I would be less vigilant if I didn't write about them online. I think most threats come from people in the real world. And statistically, most threats would come from people we know, so...

The way I write about my kids is very conscious and deliberate. Although I take precautions by keeping major identifying details out of most of my posts, I am aware that it wouldn't be that hard to track me down in real life based on what I write. I'm not sure who is motivated enough to do such a thing, but I'm not going to say they're not out there.

I use my kids' real names and photos. I use my full name, although I only use my maiden name when I write, partly because that is the name I have always used when I write and partly because it is not the same as their last name.

Here's the thing about the safety issue: I will always be vigilant about my kids' safety. I have weighed the dangers of writing about them online and have deemed it an acceptable risk.

Privacy:

There is a lot of talk about how our kids are going to hate us when they're teenagers because of the things we write about them now, or that what we write will prevent them from getting a job in the future. These arguments do stop me a little bit. I don't want my kid to be teased because I wrote about potty training him. I also don't want him to not get a security clearance when he's job hunting because I wrote about how he wore a plush duck head as a hat for a year and that shows history of mental instability.

Again, I don't use my kids' last name. But that doesn't mean that no one can find me. People I know in real life have already just stumbled across my blog while looking for entirely unrelated things. I can't assume that Googlers of the Future (be sure to say that in a spooky voice) won't be able to find my funny little musings on the time that Sam smacked down a three-year-old on the basketball court and decide to not hire him because he's not a team player.

Again, here, I've decided that this is an acceptable risk, mainly because I follow one very important rule when I blog: When I am writing, I imagine that the person I am writing about is reading over my shoulder.

It doesn't matter if I'm writing about Alex, my kids, or the neighbor down the street who doesn't even know I blog. If I wouldn't say what I am writing to their face, I don't write it. Because here's the thing: that person may very well stumble across my blog, put two and two together, and come to me about it. I want to be able to stand behind my words instead of go for the cheap, snarky shot that I can't defend.  That's not to say that all these people reading over my shoulder will be happy with what I wrote, but I do consider their feelings before I put hand to keyboard.

As my kids have gotten older, I have written less and less about them, because I do think their feelings about being written about as an older child are different than when they are young. I don't want to write something that will make them upset or that will potentially come back to harm them in future years. And, yes, they do know about my blog, but I'm not sure they totally get it.

I also don't tend to write other people's stories. Sometimes big things happen to people close to me and I don't write about it. I write about me and my family. That's not because I'm a narcissist (well, not just because I'm a narcissist), but because it's not my story to tell. That's also why I blur other people's faces unless I've explicitly asked them if I can put them or their children on the internet. Those aren't my choices to make.

Legal Issues:

I have kids with special needs. When you have kids with special needs, there is always a chance that you will end up in a court of law or in a legal wrangle over special education services. I don't want what I write here to hurt my children or stop them from getting what they need to succeed.

On the other hand, I have an accurate, real-time record of a lot of the major things that have happened to my children.

These sorts of legal issues can also be a factor in divorces and adoptions, neither of which I plan on experiencing anytime soon, but you never know.*

I loooooove you, Alex.

Advocacy:

A big part of the reason why I write is to make the world a little better for my kids. I want to share with people what it is like to be part of a special needs family. I want to teach people who might not know otherwise that there are a lot of things about autism that they might not expect.

I want to help other parents who are going through what I have been through. I want to tell them that it's okay. I also want to hear from parents who can help and support me. This doesn't just go for autism either, this can apply to marriage, parenting, antidepressants, or being infested with zombie squirrels.

I feel that real, honest writing can help people be more comfortable and accepting of who they are. I hope that normalizing some of the hard parts of life makes people realize that they're not alone.

History:


I truly think that giving our children these stories about them, especially if they are so obviously full of love, is a gift. What we give them with our words is not just insight into us as their parents, but their younger selves. I don't have strong memories of my childhood, certainly not as detailed as what I put on my blog. I would love to have that for me. I hope my children feel the same.

I also, as someone whose father died when she was seven, would love to have day-to-day stories of what he was like. God forbid my children ever need anything like that, but no matter what—death, divorce, illness—they will know my husband and I and what our relationship to each other and to them was like. Hell, my mother is still around and I think it would be fascinating if she had kept a record like this.

I think having a picture of me as a whole person will be great for them when my kids grow up. I also think they will relish the stories of them that I share and will like to see how our family meshed when they were children.

I also hope that this blog will give an adult Jack some insight into who he was as a child with autism. Maybe that can help him as an adult with autism.

In fact, I print out everything I write and put it in a three-ring binder so they will be able to read it like a book when they are ready.

I don't feel like I have a lot of history. I wish I did. I am giving that to my kids through this blog.

Looooove:


My blog is a love letter to my kids.

By writing it, I get to brag about them, poke fun at them, be exasperated by them, show my astonishment at the wonder that is them. All of these pieces put together is my love letter to each of them about how much I adore the whole entirety of their beings.

So when someone suggests that I am harming my children by writing about them online, I consider what they have to say and then I think about all the good that comes from it and the love that oozes from every keystroke.

I know that how I write about my kids online is the right thing to do for my family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For the Love of God, Won't SOMEBODY Think of the Pumpkins?!

Remember this? (You know, from my last post.)

Hello, cutie!

What I didn't show you is that our "cute little friend" is actually a zombie squirrel!

Brains! Braaaiiinns! Pumpkin Braaaiinns!

 He's not so cute now, is he?

Anyway, that's not what we're here to discuss. What we're here to discuss is that all of your were so kind to not mention in the comments on my last post that it is mid-fucking-November so why the hell are your pumpkins still on your porch?

Short answer: Laziness.

Medium answer: Laziness. You should see the weed situation in front of our house.

Long answer: So, Alex was supposed to remove the pumpkins last year and I waited and waited and waited and he never got rid of them so finally I had to schlep them all over to the garbage can myself because the neighbors were all starting to give us the stink eye, and so this year I decided that I was NOT going to do it myself because I can outlast that motherfucker if it takes me and those pumpkins until Christmas.

Zombie squirrel aside, my front porch has turned into somewhat of a horror show.

 WHHHHYYYY??


Remember Raiders of the Lost Ark when the guy's face melted?

Every time I remind Alex that he needs to throw the pumpkins away, he has some sort of excuse, like "It's dark out," or "It's dark AND raining out," or "Goddammit, Jean, let go of my sleeve, I have to go to work!"

See, we tend to come in and out of our side door, where the pumpkins are not, so I only see them a couple of times a day, generally when it is unpleasant or job-threatening for Alex to pick them up. But today when he gets home from work, I'll remind him before he even gets in the house.

It's time to put them out of their misery.

I bet there are a lot of you out there that are super glad you're not married to me.*

* Shut up, Alex.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Four of 299

I took 299 photos today. This is what digital cameras can do to a person.

Really I blame the fact that I was on the sidelines of various sporting events for much of the day. This left me with little to do other than take photos and annoy Alex.

Here are some of my contenders for favorite photo of the day.

Sam

Jack

Quinn

Yard cleanup worker

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dipshit Friday: Will She Get to Her Point Already Edition

I don't know how often any of you participate in research studies, but whenever I get the chance, I will opt in because I firmly believe that knowledge is power.

Aside 1: If you are of a certain generation, you just heard the Schoolhouse Rock song in your head. I know I do whenever I hear that phrase.

Aside 2: I also always opt in to letting medical students take part in/observe/use me as a guinea pig because, again, "It's great to learn, 'cause knowledge is power!" My one exception to that was when I was in labor with Sam and my water didn't break and this condition seemed to be something that the doctors thought their medical students should "feel." I think I'm forgiven for refusing that one.

Anyway, so I was at an autism center a while back because we're doing some testing with Jack and there is a study there that asks that you allow your child's information to be confidentially shared to embiggen the pot of knowledge about autism. Or some such. It was a while ago and I don't really remember. Regardless, it was innocuous and and all I had to do to participate in the study was to sign the paper.

Aside 3: I signed the form wrong THREE TIMES before I finally got it (semi) right. Evidently "knowledge" does not equal "common sense." (What? There were lots of options for signatures. It was confusing.)

Here's the thing about participating in studies. There is always a section along the lines of "What are the risks or discomforts of the study?" This study had—by FAR—the best risks/discomforts section I've ever read.

Don't try to read it. I've typed most of it below.

"5-10 minutes of your time will be required to fill out the additional intake form. You may get tired or bored when we are asking you questions or you are completing questionnaires...To address these potential risks, participants will be allowed to take breaks while filling out forms, do not have to answer all questions on the forms, and will be given flexible scheduling options..."

I don't know. I might have to reconsider my participation.

Personally, I consider the risks off set by the extreme joy I got from reading that paragraph. Although I do have to say, no one offered me any flexible scheduling options.  It was all, "You have 45 minutes to fill out this form," but then the guy came back an hour and a half later.

By that time I was yet another victim of their study, bored and tired.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Half-day of Public School and Parent-Teacher Conference Veteran's Day!

It seems appropriate today to send you to a column I wrote at my Autism Unexpected space about Military Families and Autism: A Battle on Two Fronts. It is unfortunate that these families, under so much stress already, have to fight for services, treatments, and peace of mind.

Thanks to Karen Driscoll of ACT Today! for Military Families and Jeneil Russell of Rhema's Hope for helping me put this piece together. Also, thanks to Jess at Diary of a Mom for hooking me up with these amazing women.

To all of our servicemen and women: Stay safe. And thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Don't Mind Sick Days, But "Sick" Days Piss Me Off

Quinn stayed home sick today. I think the vomiting on the living room floor this morning had more to do with his gastrointestinal issues than with actually being sick, but because it was a pretty sure bet that he would rat us out immediately upon entering the classroom with a declaration of, "I throwed up this morning!" I decided to keep him home.

That decision was the beginning of a very long day.

7:30 a.m.: I am woken up by Quinn's voice at the foot of the bed: "We have a serious situation here. I threw up in the living room."

7:31 a.m.: I become vaguely aware that Alex is already up and about and remember that he got to leave town for three weekends in a row last month. Decide the "serious situation" is his problem. Go back to sleep.

8:02 a.m.: Email Quinn's teacher to admit defeat and tell him that Quinn won't be in class. Immediately regret it.

8:33 a.m.: Figure that if he's going to be home anyway, we might as well work on those GI issues. Give him giant cup of chocolate milk spiked with milk of magnesia.

8:49 a.m.: Quinn says, "I'm not sick anymore."

8:50 a.m.: Quinn starts repeating everything I say.

8:51 a.m.: I murder Quinn.

9:00 a.m.: Quinn claims he's going to play school. This evidently involves frantic jogging in place and terrifying the dog. I wonder why he can't actually go to school and terrify his teacher instead.

9:12 a.m.: Quinn starts asking to watch TV.

9:15 a.m.: I tell Quinn to lay down in bed and close his eyes for 30 minutes.

9:16 a.m.-9:34 a.m.: [every half minute] "How many more minutes?"

9:35 a.m.: Quinn claims that lying down is giving him a headache. I don't believe him, but realize that his lying down is giving me a headache.

9:38 a.m.: The milk of magnesia kicks in.

9:54 a.m.: Give in and abandon my "if you stay home 'sick' you don't get to watch TV" plan. G-Force in da' house!

11:15 a.m.: Quinn wants to buy a trophy. We spend some time discussing the merits of earning a trophy versus buying one.

11:30 a.m.: Depart on shopping trip so Quinn can buy a trophy.

Quinn wins at being sick.

12:11 p.m.: I buy myself five minutes by siccing Quinn on the sick cat, who mostly hangs out upstairs.

12:14 p.m.: Make that three minutes.

12:28 p.m.: Fun with rainbows.

It's like science and art all wrapped into one!

1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Forced quiet/not-napping time.

2:05 p.m.: Lunch and Tom & Jerry.

3:15 p.m.: Quinn, the trophy, and I head out to the bus stop to pick up Sam and Jack.

3:30 p.m.: Normal Tuesday activities ensue.

For brevity's sake, I left out the myriad of times Quinn asked to play video games and watch TV. I got absolutely nothing done today, although it was kind of fun to hang out with the littlest man. That said, if he throws up tomorrow morning, I'm going to go to school and leave him at home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

He's My Star

To commemorate Sam's last soccer game of the fall season, I present to you this awesome photo I took much earlier this fall, back when you didn't have to jump up and down on the sidelines to keep yourself from freezing solid.

He's kind of a badass here, huh?

I'm not going to miss our evening soccer practices that ended in the full dark, but I will miss watching Sam like to play so much. He definitely liked practices more than games (less pressure), but he worked so hard at being on that team. Way to go, Sam!

* That photo up there? He stopped that goal. Of course, five minutes earlier, he and his buddy were jumping up and down doing chest bumps while the rest of the team was playing down at the other end of the field. Nine is such an "in between" kind of age, isn't it?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Making His Wall of Fame Debut...

That's right. Señor Quinn.

Yes, today was Wall of Fame ninety-six of approximately six billion to come. This particular one was special though, because it was Quinn's first time being honored for getting high scores on his assessments, which is what the Wall of Fame is for.

That, and eating pizza and drinking an iridescent yellow juice-like substance.

I do love the Wall of Fame. I think it is a great motivator for the kiddos. I like it even more now that Quinn sits with his classmates on the other side of the aisle instead of with me. He's somebody else's problem now.

He was very proud. Even though he did look like a little bit of a street urchin with his bed head and stained sweat pants. Especially after one kid showed up in a tie. None of my kids even own ties.

Seriously. This is Quinn's formal wear.

Jack's para told me that when he heard Quinn's name and saw him go get his certificate that he started cheering.

I love me some Team Stimey Junior.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oedipus

Foreshadowing: Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother.

******

Jack loves me. Like a lot. Like, there is so much me in his heart that there is little room for anyone else. Well, I take that back. There is room for others, just not those who directly vie with him for my attention.

Say, for instance, Alex.

There are days when Jack will tell Alex, "My heart is very small for you," or will respond to Alex's question, "Do you love me?" with a blunt "no"—or, somehow even worse, just a thumbs down.

[I'd like to make clear here that Jack very clearly and obviously loves and adores Alex, just as Alex clearly loves and adores Jack. It's just that in Jack's mind, they are evidently in direct competition.]

The other day Jack started talking to me about his (Jack) and my wedding. I told him that we couldn't get married. "Yeah, because she's already married to Dad!" Sam helpfully told him.

I would have gone with, "We can't marry because YOU ARE MY CHILD," but that wouldn't have fed into Alex's heightening paranoia as well.

Within a day or two of this conversation, Jack approached Alex and said to him, "Your and mom's love can never be."

...and scene.

Alex has started sleeping with a frying pan under his pillow...just in case.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Make a Super Awesome Lego Brick Costume

<——Want one of these?

Well, you can't have the adorable child attempting to remove his legs so he looks even more like a Lego brick, but you can have the Lego brick costume.

Materials:
1 adorable child
1 adorable child-sized box
6 cat food cans (it helps if you have a cat to eat the food)
1 can of glossy spray paint
1 glue gun
3-4 glue gun sticks
2-3 days

Now, naturally, your procurement of a child should probably take longer than 2-3 days. It is likely that you already have one of those. That's good. You will also have to convince him or her that they want to be a Lego brick for Halloween. Find out what color and shape of brick your child wants to be. We went with a six-stud, rectangular black brick. My kid was very specific about this.

Step 1: Secure a box.

In many ways, this is the most difficult job of all. You can't have a box that's too big, or your kid won't be able to get on the bus with his costume. I lucked into my box by lurking in the produce department of my grocery store where a clerk was very slooooowly restocking bags of peanuts.

Briefly debate making your child go as Mr. Peanut instead.

Step 2: Remove the extraneous parts of the box.

This includes the flaps and the bottom. You will not need them. Promise. Then tape the box into box-shaped form.

Step 3: Cut a head hole. 

Check to make sure said head hole fits on your child.

Make some more inside-your-head jokes about Mr. Peanut.

Step 4: Cut arm holes—two of 'em.

I made them oval instead of circles, so as to be the least restrictive environment for Jack. (Just a little special ed joke for those of you who will get it.)

Yep. Those fit too.

Step 5: Prepare to paint the box.

5.a. Put the box in your grass and establish sentry duty.

This went on for a while.

5.b. Locate your can of glossy black spray paint and shake-a, shake-a, shake-a! I bought two cans, but only ended up using one.

Take note of your excellent sentry.

5.c. Send your sentry and his attendant interloper away from the paint fumes.

Who? Us?

5.d. Admonish your cameraman to stay far, far away from paint spray.

5.e. Break up sentry/interloper fist fight.

Step 6: Paint.

You will need two coats to cover the peanut.

It might be fun at this point to wonder exactly how bad for grass spray paint is. It might also be fun to make your kid stand in the paint square.

NOTE: You will need to spend YEARS training your kid to do
silly things like obediently stand in paint squares.

Make sure to let your spray painted box dry outside, because spray paint is really smelly. Wait a day, or several hours, before you put on the second coat.


Step 7: Start to worry about how to get the word "LEGO" on the cat food can brick studs.

Go to the craft store and start buy everything you think might help you do such a thing.

That thing in the back left is a green pumpkin, not a stenciling device.

All you really need, however, is a $3 glue gun. Don't forget to buy extra glue gun sticks. I forgot and had to go back. Just be grateful that I'm not telling you to use those wood sticks and the x-acto knife to build the word "Lego." I don't know what I was thinking there.

Really, all you need is to use your glue gun to spell the word.

You might need to practice. See the difference?

Here's what it looks like after you paint the cans.


Step 8: Stop worrying about it and go ahead and do it.

Move the cans before they dry and glue themselves onto your painting surface.
Lesson learned.

Step 9: Adhere the studs to the brick.

Pay close attention to this step, because you may have to re-perform it in haste after your child falls down wearing the Lego brick and the studs scatter in all directions.

Use your glue gun to put glue on the rim of the cat food can and stick it to the box.


Make sure all the words are facing the same direction. (That direction would be right side up.)


Step 10: Let the whole thing dry while you jump up and down excitedly.


Step 11: Admire your Lego brick.

It looks good like this...


...but it looks even better like this:


And that's how you make a super awesome Lego brick costume.