Friday, December 31, 2010

The Annual State of the Stimeyland Address

So it's not really annual and it's not really an address, but I did take the opportunity today to go through my archives and revisit the things that Team Stimey has been up to in 2010. It was actually a pretty good year for us. I mean, unless you count the fact that less than five minutes ago, I stubbed my toe so hard I thought I was going to cry. That sucked.

Team Stimey did suffer some losses this year, mostly in terms of frogs. We lost Frog One in February and Frog Two in March. Their deaths made Sam very sad, but also solidified my reputation, started with the Ant Debacle of 2008, as a small animal killer.

No one was optimistic when I decided to try raising ladybugs. It didn't come as much of a shock when I killed them all. It did, however, surprise a few people when they came back to life in the form of zombie ladybugs.

We lost one of our mascot gerbils, even though he wasn't technically my pet. Noki the gerbil died in October. He will be missed.

We made a net gain in pets, however, with the addition of five mice for Quinn's birthday. You may not be aware of these mice, because I haven't mentioned them very often, but after a devastating building collapse in July, the residents of Mouse Town spent the rest of the year flourishing and getting fat.

Let's see, what else did we do? Alex spent several months of this year completely demolishing and then rebuilding a bathroom in our home all by himself. I never gave Alex his full due for doing such an amazing job building a floor, building walls, installing furniture, doing most of the plumbing, and laying all the tile. It is really quite amazing that he did it all. To thank him, I'll post this picture of his beautiful handiwork.

I am going to hell.

Team Stimey did a lot of dumbass things this year. Honestly there is not enough room in this post to list all of them. There was the day I went to a party and rang the doorbell at the wrong house. There was the day that Jack jumped into a water sculpture outside a museum. There was that horrible morning when I threw up in Sam's allergist's office. And who can forget that day that Alex emptied his motorcycle's gas tank into our garage?

At some point I codified my idiocy with a new intermittent feature here in Stimeyland: Dipshit Friday, where I shared the best stories of my dipshittiness with you.

Camp Stimey had its ups and downs this year. We had a very successful Spring Break Sensory and Social Skills Special Session. Our traditional summer session had a couple of good weeks during farm week and simple machines week, but other than that, it kind of dwindled away until we took Camp Stimey on the road for a real live camping expedition. That was a whole adventure in itself, which culminated in our escape to a hotel where Quinn threw up in the swimming pool.

Before all of that, however, I coordinated one of the best things I did all year, which was organize more than 60 bloggers in Team WhyMommy's Virtual Science Fair. All of those bloggers participated in science activities and experiments in honor of Susan/WhyMommy to show her our support in her fight against cancer and also to thank her for the way she inspires us with her passion for science.

I also learned that it might not be a great idea to put the word "ass" on a button that popped up all over the internet when Jack started saying, "Kick its ass!" Sorry if the same thing happened to any of you.

Somewhere in there I went to BlogHer and had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about blogging autism. Meeting and hanging out with so many of you from the autism blogging community—and the greater blogging community, as well—was a high point of my year.

I went to the White House this year. Well, at least the grounds of the White House. Twice! The first time, all of Team Stimey went on a garden tour and the second time, my friend Joeymom took me to the Christmas Tree Lighting.

Also this year, Quinn went off to kindergarten, which meant that all of my kids are in full day school, which is terrific for my mental state, but not so good in terms of blog fodder. I had to start interacting with Alex, mostly via email, and publishing the results.

All of my worry about back to school this year was mostly unfounded as we closed out 2010 with success for all three of our kids in school and their lives. Quinn is in love with kindergarten, Jack discovered a passion for playing hockey, and Sam continues to kick ass and take names at school.

As far as our year in autism, I wrote about that very thing today at my Autism Unexpected column. Jack has come a long way in the past 12 months. His progress is basically summed up in this post I wrote at the beginning of December. This is also the year that I wrote one of my favorite posts ever about autism: The Autism Path.

So, that's about it. I mean, there's a lot more that happened, but frankly these are about all of the practically random tidbits I have the energy to summarize right now.

I hope you have a wonderful start to your 2011. In fact, I hope your whole year is full of love, laughter, family, and amusing small animals.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The End of the Season

Team Stimey had a lovely Christmas this year. It was just the five of us and we burrowed into our living room for three days and played with each other and chatted and ate a lot of food and then just when that was too much, Alex made us all go to the park in gale force winds and sub-freezing temperatures where my kids rolled down a hill over and over until they were nauseated.

All in all, a pretty good Christmas weekend.

Then, today we ripped down all the Christmas decorations and threw the tree out into the front yard. (We are the neighbors everyone wishes they had.)

My kids are home from school this week, so I'm sure I'll have some good stories for you soon—and some ponderables, such as "when Jack acts like a crab sidling back and forth with his arms in the air for 20 minutes, would you guess that he is happy or that he is screaming for intervention?"(I ended up falling somewhere in the middle on that one.)

But for now, I'm going to relax, clean my desk, and not think about anything other than the movie Alex is about to put in the DVD player.

See you soon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

Dear Friends Who Live in My Computer,

Merry Christmas!

I do know you don't really live in my laptop, because your very real and wonderful beings have made such a difference to me. Some of you I know in real life, some of you I only know through your words, but all of you are important to me. You make my life better, and I am so grateful for you all. I hope each and every one of you is having a day full of peace, love, and joy.

(To my friends who don't celebrate Christmas: May your Chinese food be delicious. Also, I hear True Grit is supposed to be great.)

Much love,
Team Stimey

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All the Creatures Were Stirring...

...and the little assholes totally wrecked the lovely tableau I am about to show you.

Except for, you know, that one line in the story, mice pretty much get ignored at Christmas time. I don't think that's right, so I made sure to create some Christmas memories for my little rodents that they wouldn't soon forget.

(When I told Alex of my plan, he gave me a weird look and said, "You're a funny lady." I don't think he meant it in the ha ha sort of way.)

But before I get to that, I need to show you this. I forgot to tell you that I got a car for my mice.

Gerbil has already been pulled over for speeding.

Poseidon spent, like, a week just hanging out in there.

The best part was the time I was cleaning the cage and picked up the car, assuming it was empty, but there was a mouse in it. Quinn and I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Well, because mice don't have calendars, I decided to make yesterday their Christmas. I had actually put a lot of thought into Mouse Christmas. Because mice chew everything, I had to find chew-friendly decorations. Because no one makes Christmas rodent chew toys—an obvious lapse on the part of the pet industry—I had to make my own.

I decided on wooden stocking cutouts, like those you can find for 29 cents at the craft store. I couldn't find them, so I bought some cheap wood squares, thinking I could cut stockings out of them.

Then I started to worry about splinters.

Scrapping the cutout idea (and the $1.45 I'd invested), I decided to make my own out of cardboard. I wanted to decorate them, but I was afraid ink, lead, or crayon wax would kill the mice, so I left them plain, which was sad, but responsible.

I know. I'm a little crazy.

Then I had to think of a way to tie the stockings up. I found a jute string that I don't think will kill the mice if they eat it, but then I worried about creating little nooses for the mice. Like, "the stockings were hung in the mouse cage with care—oh, and look there's Squeaky hanging too."

It's possible I was overthinking this, but who wants a Mouse Christmas tragedy?

So yesterday I cleaned the mouse cage and then, because everyone enjoys a  White Mouse Christmas, I made it snow in Mouse Town.

Then I rearranged the snow seven times, because that's how I am.

Next, I hung up the stockings with care. It's hard to see them, but they are mouse-safe and tied to the ladder over there. I cut them out of cardboard. They are of a uniform size, but for one, which I am designating as Scabbers' because she's kind of an asshole.

See, the snow is better like that, no?

Next, the coup de grace, which would have been better if I wasn't worried that brightly colored marker ink would kill mice, the Christmas tree.

Imagine a dramatic tree-lighting ceremony here.

I am SO smart. I made it stand up. It was even strong enough that when Squeaky draped herself over the top, like a live Mouse Christmas star, the tree didn't fall over. I took a photo of that, but it didn't come out because of flash on glass issues.

Even mice need presents to unwrap, so I put a food-in-a-box toy in there.

I hope they're not mad that they have to share. I bet Scabbers will be. Jerk.

At this point, we were ready to start Mouse Christmas. My elf helped with the reintroduction of the local fauna.

Man, it must be terrifying to be one of our mice.

The Mouse Christmas celebration was short, but delightful.

Mostly I think I confused them.

To Quinn's chagrin, I had not made mini-Santa hats for each mouse. The stockings were a big hit though. In fact, one of them has gone missing already, so I consider them to be a complete success.

Scabbers is pissed that she got the small stocking and is looking for a fight.

Also, I wish that I'd taken this next photo before I had my Christmas cards made up, because I might totally have foregone photos of my children and used this instead.

Gerbil is smizing.

Shortly thereafter, the mice destroyed everything I had created for them.

Ungrateful pests.

This is what I woke up to this morning. The stockings have been capsized, the tree has been tipped over, and the mice built a little snow buffer so that I can't even watch them eat their present.

I guess Mouse Christmas is officially over.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Lovely Evening of Song. (Ha.)

So, evening functions at the elementary school: yay or nay?

It would make me feel like way less of a terrible parent if you all agreed with me that things such as, oh, let's say a holiday concert featuring first, third, and fifth graders, are some sort of torture inflicted on us by teachers who are tired of taking care of our kids day after day and are looking for payback.

I mean, sure, they're cute and all, and hooray for their pride in participating, and of course I would like to see Sam sing Rodgers and Hammerstein ("My Favorite Things"). But ooooohhhh mmmmyyyyyy lllllooooorrrrrdddd!

First, the cute:

I always choose the wrong side of the auditorium on which to sit.

To get to that cute, I first had to last through the first graders (of which I have none), while managing both Quinn and Jack in the audience. Alex, who arrived late, didn't find a seat in the room full of probably 200 parents and 100 chairs.

The lucky bastard got to stand in the hall by himself.

I was going to insist that my children pay attention to the concert and not play on the iPhone until I realized three things in rapid succession.

1. Sam had to be at the school at 6:30 to prepare (and by "prepare," I mean "line up"), but the concert didn't start until 7. Then, Sam wasn't even on stage until 7:20 or so.

2. Both of my children had already sat through the concert once today, when it was performed as an assembly at school. And come to think of it, I got a note that Jack was squirmy and misbehaved then.

3. When I realized how annoyed, uncomfortable, and hot I was, I folded like a bad hand in poker and gave Jack my iPhone.

He did this for the next hour.

That left Quinn. The three of us were squished together into two tiny folding chairs. If you do your math, you will figure out that Quinn was probably on my lap. And if you know your history, you could probably guess that he did not sit still.

His props today were a stuffed mouse and a Santa Claus hat that I bought for $2.99 at 7-11 and which left red and white lint in the hair of anyone who wore it. Quinn futzed around and fidgeted all over. I worked really hard to keep him from falling off of me onto the lady sitting one inch to my left or clobbering Jack a half inch to my right.

He spent part of the evening hanging out on the ground.

Honestly, it was the best place for him.

Then, Quinn's buddy, who is a lot like him, showed up (after the first-grade parents left and the third-grade parents found seats). Quinn's behavior only improved.

If anything, that kid was even more animated than the sketch makes him seem.

At this point, Quinn had his own seat right next to me. Unfortunately, he stood up for a split second and some lady swooped in and sat down.

This would have been fine and all, but for the fact that, (a) by this time, there were plenty of seats not right next to me, (b) she was sitting on a third of my chair in addition to hers, and (c) she smelled like a distillery.

Now I'm not saying that any member of Team Stimey smelled all that much better or that we are above boozing it up to soften the blow of a school concert, but I'd just about reached my limit.

After the third graders, I stuck around to take some photos for my friends with a fifth grader. By this time, Alex had found a seat near us. Then I murdered Quinn.

Okay. No. But I wanted to.

At least we're done with concerts until May, when Quinn and Jack will be forced to perform. I look forward to another perfect storm of sensory overload, crowds, and noise then as well. Would it be bad form for me to take my own DSi to block out the world at that one?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just to Prove I'm Still Alive

There isn't a whole lot going on in Stimeyland these days. Tonight I asked Alex what I should write about because in the back of my head I keep hearing, "haven't posted since Tuesday...haven't posted since Tuesday..." All he could come up with was, "Well, Jack stayed home sick today."

I know. We're alive with action here.

Well, not all of us.

Hmmm. What else?

Oh, right, when Quinn was running home after he got off the bus today, he tripped over a stick and took a header into the sidewalk. Ironically, he had put the stick there on the way to the bus stop this morning.

It was terribly tragic.

 His giant, intense bump was outshined only by his giant, intense bedhead.

In other exciting Team Stimey news, Quinn took his frustration at the stick out on the dog, who was forced to wear all of his winter gear.

 She says, "help me."

That's it. I got nothing else. Except this:

It's always the innocent who suffer.

Now I have something new echoing through my head: "haven't posted anything of worth since Tuesday...haven't posted anything of worth since Tuesday..."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Prepare for Christmas in Seventeen Easy Steps

1. Discover Santa's ass.

Be extremely delighted.

2. Find awesome tree.


3. Become awesome tree.

If only he were wearing his camouflage sweatshirt.

4. Play with fire.

Or rather, peer carefully at fire from a safe distance.

5. Coordinate free rescue squad hat with coat, scarf, and eyes.

He's so pretty.

6. Decide to write Christmas letters to Santa.

Close your p.s. with "Your pal, Jack."

Ask for "security." Mean "security closet," i.e. a fun niche in which to hide.

Make sure you get the catalog number right.

7. Be forcibly cleaned up before the annual trip to the mall to see Santa.


8. Practice being photogenic.

Remember when I said Quinn was pretty?

9. See Santa, deliver letters, fight over who has to sit on Santa's lap.

If you're Jack, lose.

10. Take a train ride in the little locomotive that tools around the mall for $3 per person, driven by a surly teenager who honked at a lot of not-quite-fast-enough mall customers.

Load into the coal car for the ride.

After mom and dad cram into the coal car with you,
defect in favor of the blue car immediately behind it.

Ham it up. (Pretty again.)

Don't get your $3 worth.

Nearly lose an arm—and your head.

11. Decorate your brothers' room.

Make that, "Sullenly decorate your brothers' room."

12. Read The Night Before Christmas.

OUR mice NEVER stop stirring.

13. Generally cause trouble.

Try to decorate the house as much as humanly possible.

14. Wonder why the people are putting a tree in the living room again.

Decide to take a nap.

15. Figure out how many members of Team Stimey it takes to put a star on a tree.

It was a complicated system of passing and lifting.

16. Finally pull apart the wishbone from Thanksgiving.

We acknowledge our sloth.
Jack won, by the way. He wished for a million dollars.

17. Know that even if it's not the most, let's say "elegant," it's still perfect.

Bring on Christmas now, bitches.