Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Apologies to the Mice

Well, I didn't catch any mice in my humane traps, so Alex took the kids out to help him buy deadly, deadly snap traps this afternoon. Of course, this wasn't until after Quinn heard "mousetraps" and panicked, thinking we were going to murder our pet mice.

(Our pet mice wouldn't stand a chance against those humane traps. They're too chubby.)

I now wash my hands of the whole thing. I no longer have a mouse problem, Alex has a mouse problem.

Because we're no longer talking about...that, I will instead distract you with this cute photo of Jack that I found when I was organizing and backing up my digital photos a couple of weeks ago. It is one of my favorites ever, taken in the days when he was obsessed with space and his hair stood straight up off his head.


And that is all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Evidence of Rodentia

You guys, the irony is so bitter that it burns my mouth. There are unwanted mice in my kitchen. Wild mice, who don't understand the gentleman's agreement that I have entered into by caring for domestic mice, have appeared in my cabinets.

(I originally wrote that sentence to read, "Wild mice have appeared in my drawers," but that sounded...not right.)

We haven't actually seen any mice, but we have seen their, ahem, evidence. *whispers*poop*endwhisper*

My response to this is to severely chastise my worthless cats, but Alex responded by demanding that I buy mouse traps, so I headed out to Home Depot and was immediately confronted by this:

I might have stared, agape, for a long time.

As a side note, anyone who manages to bring me that giant inflatable mouse for my office gets the official title of Emperor of Stimeyland. You'll even outrank me. The pay is crap, but I'll pray to you daily.

Anyway, the mousetrap aisle was a carnival of horrors that left me stymied (ha, ha) for a lengthy amount of time. Some dude wandered up and grabbed some mouse poison without even musing over his options, making me feel like a moron for not being able to make a decision, but the problem was that I really don't want to kill any mice.

"Wait. What did you just say about mice?"

There were a few major types of mouse eliminating options available at the Home Depot, but each of them had problems.

Mouse traps—you know, regular old mouse traps: These are effective, but sad. And bloody. And when they are effective, they result in the deaths of mice.

The what now?

Mouse poison: Poison will kill mice, but then there is the possibility that they will die in the walls and then smell really bad. That seems bad for us and an affront to our pet mice. Furthermore, poison will also kill cats, dogs and children. It is unlikely that any of those entities would eat the poison, but it still seems risky.

The Pest A Cator 2000: This is some fancy schmancy electromagnetic pulse product that repels mice from your house. It sounds awesome. I picture our kitchen mice packing up their little hobo satchels and heading on to less-pulsey digs. It's even safe for pets! "*Except hamsters, gerbils and other rodent pets."

"HI!!!"

Catch and release traps: What a great idea! My mind imagined mornings where I would find three or four mice all crammed into one of the traps and I would walk to release them in the park up the road, where they would find at least three or four fresh houses before they wandered back to mine. If you want to tell me I'm an idiot and talk about releasing mice in 30-degree weather or the fact that the people in the other houses will kill them with the two for $1.74 traps, I will simply put my fingers in my ears and say this: LALALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!!!!

There are, however, a couple of downsides to the catch and release trap. The first is that I knew Alex was going to roll his eyes really hard when he saw them. Even though I was all the way in the other room when he got home from work, I could tell from his, "Wait. Are these humane traps?" that he was rolling his eyes.

The second downside is that they don't fucking work. It's been three or four nights since we set them up and we haven't caught a damn thing. Even worse, we have found evidence of rodentia IN one of the traps, which means that now we're feeding them on purpose. Evidently our mice are small enough to squeeze back out of the trap?

We've baited the traps with peanut butter and—even though it seems so terribly cliche—cheese, but we haven't caught a single mouse yet. Alex is giving me until the weekend to catch a mouse before he goes back to the Home Depot and I don't think he's just going to find me a giant, inflatable mouse.


Internets, help me save my kitchen mice from bloody death! What can I do? I just don't know if I can look little Squeaky, Poseidon, Scabbers, Whiskers and Gerbil in their beady little black eyes if I'm killing their cousins two rooms away.

i can haz   my neck broken?

Nobody wants this. Except for Alex, that bastard.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

National Gallery of Awesome

After three days of one or two of my guys home sick, all of my kids headed off to school today (some more successfully than others who—and I won't point fingers or name names here *coughJackcough*—had to be physically shoved onto a school bus this morning), so my mom and I headed off to the National Gallery of Art.

See?

My mom and I briefly considered going to the Newseum, figuring that whichever museum we didn't go to today, I could come back and visit later by myself. Then it occurred to me that looking at art is way more boring than learning about journalism, so it is better to go to the art museum with a buddy.

Discuss.

It turns out that art is not as boring as I had assumed. The museum was amazing. Also, I learned a bunch of stuff. Without further ado:

Things I Learned Today at the Art Museum

1. Modern camera flashes don't damage art, so you can use flash photography all you want at this museum, but even so, I was too intimidated to do so. I also learned that there is exactly ONE painting at the National Gallery that you are not allowed to photograph.


I discovered this because I was going to take a photo to demonstrate that although folks such as Botticelli are badass when it comes to painting, they are not so good with the naming of the paintings.

I did NOT take this photograph.

The guard didn't know why this particular painting is non-photographable, but after putting some thought into it, he agreed to let me take a picture of the sign.

2. The National Gallery of Art has a "12-Inch Rule." As in, "Ma'am, you need to be at least 12 inches away from the art at all times." Honestly, it was only a matter of time before (a) a guard yelled at me, or (b) I sneezed on an El Greco. I'm glad it was the first, especially since he didn't really yell.

3. If you have neglected to bring your ruler (or your Stimeyland tape measure) to the museum with you, the National Gallery has very helpfully created a marble border around the outside of each gallery so you know how close you cannot be.


4. Offering my mom $100 is not enough to entice her to climb into a little niche in the rotunda and pose like a statue. Her lame excuse included some far fetched concerns about alarms and security guards.

Bo-ring!

Fortunately, Photoshop has eliminated the need for people in my life to humiliate themselves in public. I can do that without their permission now, thank you very much.

She wouldn't do a more flamboyant pose, damn her.

5. There is a lot of modern art that I don't get.

Why? Why, dammit, WHY?

Here it is, without me in front of it, in case you need the entire blank canvas to better judge this "painting" by Jo Baer, which is aptly titled, "Untitled."

Two is better than one!

I just don't get it. I mean, I get Rothko. I tolerate Pollock. I don't fucking get the blank canvas.

6. It takes more than 45 minutes to drive from the National Gallery of Art to my house. This is important to know if you are going to have to pick your children up from the bus stop at a specified time. This is double important to know if your children come home from school on two different buses. This is TRIPLE important to know if one of your kids won't be allowed to get off of the bus unless you or someone authorized to get your child off of the bus is home when the bus arrives. (Don't worry. All the munchkins are okay and were collected in a safe manner. My neighbors and bus driver are awesome.)

I have grand plans to share my thoughts on the art we saw in a future post sure to alienate art lovers, academics and possibly the Dutch. It is, however, extremely likely that I will completely never get around to it, so don't worry too much if you fall into one of those categories.

Oh, there is one more thing I learned. Art is kind of amazing. It is one thing to look at a print of a painting, or to browse an art book, but to really look at an actual painting up close—the brushstrokes and the textures—is phenomenal.*

* "Up close" = 12 inches

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stimey and Alex's Night Out

Alex and I went out for Valentine's Day last night, which is kind of unusual for us. Normally we celebrate the day by doing things like hurling epithets at each other from across the kitchen, but my mom is in town and offered (and by "offered," I mean, "I assumed she would be willing, so made plans without asking her") to babysit, so Alex and I went to dinner at a French restaurant.

Because the restaurant we Alex chose is two blocks from Alex's office, I drove into DC all by myself. I think you might realize how risky this is after my last evening foray into DC, when I ended up on the wrong side of the National Mall. I was a little sketchy on leaving my kids with my mom because two of them were sick (Jack = fever and flu; Quinn = barfing in his classroom...my car...near the toilet...on the kitchen floor), but armed with the knowledge that Alex would murder me if I canceled, I headed out into the night at the exact time Alex told me to leave the house.

Ten minutes into my drive, my mom called to tell me that the smoke in the kitchen had set off the house alarm system and that the alarm company needed to know my safe word so that the fire engines wouldn't come to our house.

This concerned me for several reasons.

1. Our alarm system doesn't go off when the kitchen is smoky. Trust me, I know.

2. What was so smoky that it made alarms go off? Should fire engines be dispatched?

3. My mom used the words "tore the thing off the wall," which, while not unheard of for my family, can't be good for the alarm system.

My house was still standing when I returned home, and my kids haven't told me any fun stories of The Night the Firefighters Came to the House, so I assume she worked it all out.

I was distracted by the whole alarm/smoke/emergency vehicles debacle happening at home by Alex calling to see where in my journey I was. Even though I had followed his directions to a tee, he was distressed about my location and therefore my prospects for arriving at the restaurant in time for our reservation.

I am a person that doesn't like to be late and who can get extremely freaked out if I feel like I will be late, but I hadn't been stressed at all about time until Alex called...and continued to call every 5-10 minutes until I arrived at the address he had given me. Unfortunately, I was about five minutes later than I would have been otherwise, because even with my hands-free phone system, I was still agitated enough to make a wrong turn that took several corrections for me to get back on course.

Also, he gave me the wrong address, so there was that.

By the time I arrived, Alex had wine and a smile waiting for me, so I forgave him, insomuch as I forgive Alex and he forgives me in our marriage, which is sustained by a crunchy undertow of hostility and anger, cushioned by fluffy clouds of passive-aggressive love and amusement. It works for us.

I know yesterday I was all, "What if my aversive perseveration on lamb brains and snails makes me accidentally order them?" I shouldn't have worried though, because the regular (lamb brain) menu wasn't available, replaced instead by a special valentine menu, which I believe was supposed to be fancy because it was written in hard-to-read handwriting.

Once deciphered, the menu items were all very complicated (if brains-free). There were a lot of things that were served with, like, kumquat-cherry pudding and whatnot. (I'm making that up, but it's close.) I did wonder something about one menu item in particular, however:

 How do they know the chicken is Amish?

I didn't order the chicken, so I'll never know the answer to this, but in my head, this is what he looked like:
That poor, doomed chicken should never have come back from rumspringa.
 
There was a lot of duck on the menu, but they didn't specify the duck's religious or cultural background. I'm not sure, but I think my steak was Episcopalian.

Also? My date was very tolerant.

I'm resisting the urge to Photoshop a hat and beard onto him.

There are very few people in this world who would be willing to live with me for an extended period of time. I feel very fortunate that I am married to one of them. Dinner was lovely, Alex. Happy Valentine's Day to you, sir.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vaguely Incoherent Snippets

Aww, you guys are so nice what with your "You're beautiful!"s and all. Thank you! My ego has sufficiently been stroked for at least the next month.

My mom is in town visiting. This is the first time in, oh, TEN YEARS that she has visited and I haven't had a kid with me at all times, so we were going to go to the National Gallery of Art today and be ladies who lunch...and look at art.

Naturally, Jack has a 102-degree fever and stayed home from school today.

The only thing keeping him vertical is that my mom brought her iPad with her, thus making all of Jack's dreams come true. It's going to be a problem when she leaves and takes it with her.

He's in his happy place.

I hear Jack hacking in the other room, so I guess I should go rescue my mother from his germs. Although she will catch whatever he has the second she touches her iPad, so I don't know why I'm bothering.

Before I do that, I want to share two more photos with you because they crack me up and make me go "awww" at the same time.

Backstory: We're at the airport on Friday and Quinn falls down while on the escalator, while I'm ten stairs below him with Jack and he starts sobbing and putting his fingers on the stairs and all I can imagine is his little fingers getting chewed up by the escalator teeth so I'm yelling at him to stand up and finally he gets off the escalator and I shove him out of the way so we won't get trampled by the people behind us who are being ejected from the escalator and he's still sobbing and sobbing and sobbing and finally I calm him down, but the escalator has injured his ankle and he is convinced he can't walk so I carry him for a little while and then put him down because, damn, that kid is heavy, but he is still sad, so Sam steps up and hits the big brother ball out of the park.



This only lasted for a minute or so, but it made everyone very happy. Also, Sam puts me to shame.

I hope you all have a happy Valentine's Day. Alex and I are going to a French restaurant, which makes me distinctly nervous because even though it is the last thing I want to do, part of me worries that at the last second I'll blurt out to the waiter, "I'll have the lamb brains with a side of snails, please!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Party Like It's Valentine's Day! (Even Though It's Really Not.)

Valentine's Day is Monday, so naturally my school had all of their Valentine's Day parties yesterday, on Friday. Don't ask me, I don't get it either. I assume it has something to do with jamming our kids full of sugar and then sending them home for two days to work it out of their systems.

Anywho, I spent a little more than an hour yesterday afternoon wandering from party to party, which is so much more fun now that I don't have Quinn with me getting more hepped up on sugar at every stop. He was able to do that without me in his own classroom.

I started in Jack's classroom. I was curious to see how valentine distribution was going to go, because it was last year at Jack's Valentine's Day party that I figured out that Jack didn't know the names of any of the kids in his class.

I have seen Jack be much more engaged with his peers this year, so I was hopeful that he might know their names, but I also know that Jack can engage with a person for a long time without caring or bothering to ask what their name is.

He did all right. He knew a lot more people than he did last year. I did watch him find some of the kids by reading the name tags on the desks and it was clear that he had absolutely no clue who some of them were. Here's the thing though: I am not distressed by this. No, he doesn't know everyone's name, but knowing some kids names is so much better than knowing no kids names. Plus, his team have been encouraging his interactions so much this year. It's not perfect, and there is still work to be done (a LOT of work), but he's making progress, and I was able to leave his party feeling happy instead of devastated.

I also left his party feeling happy because there is this very cute little girl in Jack's class who tells me I'm pretty every time I go in there. Naturally I love her very, very much and try to hang out near her desk as much as possible. She has a long complicated name and she asked me how Jack spelled her name right. She was very impressed. I didn't have the heart to tell her that he just copied it off the list (and that he had to find her from the name tag taped to her desk). Especially after she followed up her question with, "You're beautiful." I think her compliments have more to do with my long hair than anything, but it makes me feel good, so shut up.

I headed to Sam's class next, where the teacher was actively trying to give away treats to other classes. After everyone sent in party supplies, she had something like 68 cupcakes. (And chips and candy and cookies...) To her credit, she was forcing fruit on the children as well. The napkins I sent in were well received.

The best thing about Sam's party is the valentine he had made for our family.


It's maybe the best valentine I've ever seen. (I think I say that about every valentine my kids give me though.)

Quinn's party involved me showing up in his room and him taking twenty minutes to put on his coat. He had given out his farting cat valentines to his teacher and the para in his class (and his more socially appropriate store-bought cat and dog valentines to his classmates).

What? Your kids don't give farting cat valentines to the authority figures in their lives? Then you are missing out on things like this:


He still has one farting cat valentine to give to his school OT on Monday. I hope she is impressed by all his fine motor work.

Now I'm going to go work on sugar detox for my kids. Maybe I can find some carrots or something to forcefeed them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Doing Something Right. Right?

Jack's valentine to himself:

This made my whole year better.

*****

I had one of those days today. You know, the kind where your kids are a little, let's call it rambunctious in public, and you feel out of place and like the whole pizza parlor is staring at you and judging. Good times.

It was actually kind of timely that I had one of those days because I posted at Autism Unexpected today about feeling out of place at after-school activities and how schools can make those events more inclusive.

I think that believing that our children are NOT misbehaving is one of the hardest truths to internalize. As I wrote in my column, "It was hard for me to really truly accept that my kids aren't misbehaved at these events, but rather that they react to crowds and excitement in unexpected ways."

I should have that tattooed on the back of my hand.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Missing Piece

I have the answer to the "What is the red circle with the line and the dot?" question. I don't know that you'll like the answer, but I have it.

It was a mite.

This is part of Jack's Valentine's Day card for a girl.

Jack continued to refuse to tell me what the picture on the calendar was, but being the clever, clever woman that I am, I was able to put two and two together once I saw this picture. Now, if you're like me, hearing that these little guys are mites doesn't do a whole lot to make the situation any clearer.

Jack and Quinn explained to me, so I will pass the favor on to you. Mites are from a video game called Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Frankly, I liked all your suggestions better. (Although Jack's mites are adorable.)

My favorite guess about what the picture was came from Matt at Dude, I'm an Aspie. If you don't already, you should read Matt's blog, and not just because he let a cartoon version of me go to his virtual Thanksgiving. He uses cartoons to illustrate his very thoughtful points of view on being an Aspie. I am happy every time I see one of his posts appear in my reader.

Anyway, Matt guessed that it was The Missing Piece. Since we've never read the book (and because it turns out that it is a mite), Matt was wrong, but I wish he had been right.


I watched this with Jack and fell in love with the little guy looking for his piece. After we watched, I had a conversation with Jack about how sometimes changing to be just like everyone else doesn't make things better and sometimes being different helps you see the world in a wonderful way and I was feeling all gooey and happy and then Quinn helpfully piped up from the peanut gallery to say, "Maybe he changed his mind so he could be Pac-Man."

No one ever gets a chance to get too deep around here, that's for sure.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Failed Communication

Jack refuses to tell me what the stupid red circle is a picture of, so we're all screwed.

*****

Yesterday morning, Alex was snoring, so I kicked him in the shins to get him to roll over and he said, "But I'm watching TV."

I told him, "You're sleeping."

To which he responded, "I'm sleeping? I didn't know that," and then rolled over and fell asleep again.

*****

Lest you think Jack is the only child I get emails about, here is an one I got yesterday from the para in Quinn's class, who is a friend of mine:
Just thought you'd like to know that your youngest son has plans to change his name to "Killer" when he grows up..........
Of course he does. They can't all be Jack, you know.

*****

At this point, I'm not sure that the school lunch menu is more than an optimistic suggestion. I can't tell you how many times I've sent my kids to school thinking that they're going to eat what is on the lunch calendar only to have them come home to tell me that instead the school served shrimp poppers and now they hate me.

Who serves shrimp poppers to children? And what the hell are shrimp poppers?

This is problematic for my kids, who barely eat the food *I* put in their lunchboxes and will only eat the personal pizza on Tuesdays and the pancakes they serve once a month on Thursdays. Yesterday was pancake day, so I forced all my kids to agree to eat that for lunch and enjoyed my extra eight minutes that I got by not making lunches.

I don't know what they actually served yesterday, but it wasn't pancakes. Evidently accommodations were made and all of my children managed to eat something. I was smart, however, and prepared for the onslaught of outrage. I had pancake batter all mixed up and ready to put on the griddle when my kids got off the bus.

It was one of my better parenting moments. 

*****

The girl that Sam is enamored with is leaving his school. Her last day was yesterday. Sam told me he wants to go to her "goodbye party" on Friday and gave me a ripped out piece of paper on which his friend had written her address and phone number as an invitation.

Not entirely sure that the girl's parents were aware of this party, I called yesterday while Sam was at school to ask a few questions. Unfortunately, the guy who answered the phone didn't speak any English, so we both spoke different languages at each other for a few exchanges before we said our goodbyes in our respective languages and put the phone down.

I'm amused that I continued to have a conversation with him even after I knew it wasn't going to be helpful for either of us. Like, of course I had to say, "Okay, I will try back again later," when instead I could have told him what was really on my mind, which was, "I'm confused as to why frogs rain from the sky in the movie Magnolia."

*****

On the other hand, I did manage to have several conversations with several different people spread over a number of hours on Twitter about my socks, so there are ways in which I can adequately communicate.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hodgepodge (Whaaaaat? I'm Sick.)

Now that it is Wednesday night, I finally feel that I might be ready to rejoin life tomorrow. I haven't really done a lot of parenting this week, so I'm pretty happy that Alex stepped up. Although now that I think about it, I remember my alarm going off at 7 a.m. this morning and saying to Alex, "I'll sell my soul to you if you let me sleep."

Crap. He's probably already pawned it.

It was worth it though because he got everyone ready for school and put them on the bus. He stayed home sick today too, but I didn't know this, so I was surprised when he showed up in our bedroom where I was still sleeping at just before noon to—and I quote—"make sure you are still alive."

Don't be too charmed by his concern for me though. He told me later that he checked on me because he was worried that it would look bad if he happened to stay home on the day that I died in our house. So he wasn't checking on me to make sure my fever hadn't killed me, he was laying groundwork for his legal defense.

That he would be a suspect in my death is not a surprise to anyone who knows the two of us.

I really haven't done anything for the past three days other than pick my kids up at the bus stop after school. And that just barely.

I also managed to take Jack to his occupational therapy session after school today, but after I saw what he wrote on our calendar, I should have known that it wasn't going to go well.

At least he punctuated it correctly.

He's NOT sick, by the way. (Although he IS excited about Groundhog Day.) I giggled when I saw that on the calendar before we left for OT. I was less giggly when I returned after he absolutely couldn't hack the session today. Sigh.

Also, extra points for whoever has the best answer for what that red circle on the top is.

We did have fun yesterday afternoon after everyone got off their buses.* See, there's this big pile of snow on the corner and I mustered the energy to stand outside and watch them play on it for a while.

How long before Jack rolls that snowboulder onto Sam?

Huh. Quinn looks worried. I wonder why?

Oh.

Hi, Sam! Whatcha doin'?

Oh, I see. Taking advantage of my weakened state.

I show you this next photo just to impress you with but one of the branches that fell into our yard in one of the recent storms. This is the biggest, but by no means the only. I was trying to lure Jack inside with promises of homework and beatings, but he just wanted to stand outside and snap branches off of this tree.


That's pretty much all I have for today. Tomorrow I hope to be back with, I don't know, maybe an actual topic. Maybe.

Until then, I give you the latest happy Jack moment from his teacher:
He asked [E] (who sits at his table for both homeroom and reading) if she wanted to go on a date (she was thrilled, seriously :) )...WAIT FOR IT...


to his father's office :) !!
I love this for more reasons than I can properly express.


* Fuck chronology. You want your blog entries to go in order, go read somebody who is coherent.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Urgle burgle blech...

I have come down with the ague again. I am not well.

I spent last night—and by "last night," I mean, "from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m."—huddled under an electric blanket and a comforter sweating.

I asked Alex if I was radiating heat last night after he came to bed and he was all, "Yeah. It was gross."

Which...ouch, but, I mean, he came home early from work and went in late to work to take care of the munchkins so I didn't have to, so I guess I have to forgive him for making fun of my feverishly sad little self. Plus he brought me ice cream.

My oh-so-miserable existence is mitigated, however, by three things:

1. Last weekend was one of the most magical weekends that I have had in a really long time. I plan to write more about it later, but suffice it to say that it involved travel, margaritas, and a bunch of the coolest autism moms I have hung out with ever. Also, I publicly vomited, which is always a bonus. You have to promote your brand, you know, and when your brand is "I'm Stimey! I'm ridiculous!" a little throwing up on the curb at the airport goes a long way to cementing your image.

2. I have ice cream.

3. Jack's teacher will often send me little emails throughout the day about Jack. Here is one I got about an hour ago under the subject line "happy Jack moment":
Jack asked someone in class to make a paper airplane for him (it was mini-indoor recess) and then Jack said to the student, "Thank you. You are so creative." 
I love so much that Jack has a teacher who gets that this is a big deal, enough so to email me about it. We are so lucky.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take to my couch until my kidlets come home and want to share my ice cream. I may have to resort to coughing on it so they can't share.