Saturday, April 30, 2011

1000 Words

Oh, man, so much to say about Jack's special hockey tournament, but for now, this will have to do.

Jack and Jean, Boston, April 30, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Part of Something

There are a lot of things that happened to Jack and I as we traveled to Massachusetts for Jack's special hockey tournament today. But mostly what happened is that I felt the powerful embrace of community.

I don't know how many teams are participating in the Special Hockey International Tournament, or how many players. But I do know that when you put them all on the ice for an opening ceremony in front of a cheering crowd and sing three different national anthems, it is a powerful thing.

The arrow points to Jack.

Canadian athletes are here (I had to give one of them 50 cents because the vending machine didn't take Canadian quarters, eh?), British athletes are here (best team name: Werewolves of London) and, of course, American athletes are here.

I stood in the stands watching my son twirl in his repetitive spins on the ice as an arena filled with people who get what he was doing sang the national anthem. I got tears in my eyes as I thought of how important it is for my autistic son to have the opportunity to hear a crowd roar for him—and for kids and young adults like him. I thought of how amazing it is that there are teams and organizations for these kids, who not that long ago weren't even welcome in schools.

I am so grateful that Jack gets to experience this. I am so glad that *I* get to experience this.

We had an equipment glitch tonight, meaning that Jack's gear was accidentally left at the hotel instead of taken to the arena, so he and I spent his game watching and cheering instead of playing.


We cheered when a small member of the opposing team hit a puck toward our goalie, who let it slip by him for a point that probably meant a lot more to that small kid than it did to our side. We cheered when one of our players fell down and a player on the other team helped him up. We cheered for the kindnesses and inclusion I felt all day.

I felt that kindness and inclusion when the team dads took charge of Jack in the rest stop bathrooms. I felt it when the coach put his hand gently on Jack's shoulder to guide him into the opening ceremony so I could watch from the stands. I felt it when a 17-year-old teammate chased Jack down and brought him back to me when he was trying to edge away. I felt it when the sister of a teammate helped me play Simon Says with Jack to keep him entertained and happy when we were waiting for his team to change out of their uniforms.

But here's the thing: I'm not the only one who felt it. Jack felt it too. Yes, there were times today when he was kind of a pill, and sometimes he doesn't seem as engaged in his team as much as the other players are. But I heard him yell, "I want to sign up for hockey again!" after we got to our hotel and I felt his calm happiness on the bus all day and I watched him finger the Montgomery Cheetahs trading pins he got today and I could tell he felt it too.


I see the kinds of young men that these special needs hockey players are becoming and I hope for the same for my son. These teenagers are thoughtful, caring, helpful and have so much to offer. If Jack turns out like them, I'll be thrilled.

I spent the day today glancing at Jack and thinking, "I am so in love with that kid." But I am also so in love with this team that embraces him and pushes him and, mostly, makes him part of something.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Here We Go, Cheetahs, Here We Go!

Tomorrow morning Jack and I head out for his hockey tournament. It is the Special Hockey International Tournament, but don't make that an acronym, okay? For those of you who donated to Jack's hockey team earlier this year (and the team is always taking donations/looking for businesses who want to sponsor the team), you should know that your money helped subsidize a lot of really cool kids on their trip to Boston. Thank you. You are making a difference to these kids and families.

Okay, enough sincerity. Let the whining commence. Jack and I are going to Boston on the team bus. Yes, my pukes-whenever-the-wind-blows son and I are going to participate in a NINE-HOUR bus ride. I might have wanted to think about this a little more before I giddily signed us up in a fit of manic belief that THIS IS GOING TO BE SUCH A GREAT CHARACTER BUILDING EXPERIENCE FOR JACK! YES, LET'S GO ON THE BUS! LET'S GO ON THE BUS! LET'S GO ON THE BUS!

Also, our bus leaves at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I need to find a sport that takes place in the late afternoon. In a bar. Like billiards.

Anyway, Alex is in charge of Team Maryland and I am in charge of Team Barf All Over Boston for the next four days.

It is going to be AWESOME.

I plan to blog, photograph, tweet, facebook and eventually coherently put together a few thoughts in a respectable way the hell out of this weekend.

Wish us luck! GO CHEETAHS!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Myth of the Easter Bunny

So, it turns out that mice are really squirmy when you're trying to squirt medicine into their tiny little mouths. But it also turns out that medicine seems to help with the scratching, thank goodness. It also turns out that I will be out of town this weekend and Alex will have to give the mouse medicine twice a day.

Commence to laughing now.

But this isn't another post about mice. (Okay, Lynn?)

Yesterday was Easter. Easter isn't a big deal around here. In fact, I think I kind of shocked my mom the other day because I told her that after we put her in her nursing home (the cheapest we could find, of course), we would visit her every year without fail on Easter because it's one of the less important holidays. She then informed me that in fact it is perhaps the most important Christian holiday of the year.

But this isn't a post about my Godlessness. (And frankly, Mom, whose fault is it that I was raised the way I was? I hope you like your pagan retirement home in the bad part of town.)

This is a post about Sam. Sam found out the truth about the Easter Bunny yesterday. He has been a little suspicious about the magic holiday characters for a while now, but things came to a head yesterday after our egg hunt when he wanted Alex to hide the eggs for a second hunt and Alex said, "I don't want to hide the eggs again."

Again.

So The Myth of the Easter Bunny toppled, followed shortly after by The Myth of Santa Claus. (The Myth of the Tooth Fairy has not yet been discussed.)

Sam, surprisingly, was completely unfazed. I think we were all ready for the formal question and acknowledgment of the Great Lie. Fortunately, he couldn't have cared less that we lied to him.  We talked about not telling his brothers or kids at school, that he still gets gifts from these characters and that he could help us with these types of holidays now that he knows the truth.

He was thrilled with that news and now seems to have plans for instigating a special Thanksgiving turkey character that leaves gifts.

It is possible that we have created a monster.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It Was Either This or Buy 58 Mice at $2.59 a Pop

Occasionally, one of you will ask me about my mice because I haven't posted about them here lately. I'm protecting them from overexposure. 

Anyway, the mice are good. For the most part.

[DUM DUM DUM!!!!!] <—That indicates ominous music

I mean, Whiskers is kind of a jerk and I'm slightly annoyed that Poseidon's curly fur has straightened so that it is hard to tell her apart from Squeaky, but whatever.

Thanks a lot, Poseidon.

Sadly, there is a new way to tell Squeaky from Poseidon: the distressing open wounds on her head. I'm not kidding.

Poor little smooshy mouse.

I noticed that she had a little bald spot and that it was red, but then it seemed to get better so I've just kept an eye on her, but today I noticed that it was all red and inflamed again and she was scratching a lot.

Fortunately, she is still scrappy enough to defend herself from aggressors who try to steal the special treats I put in Mouse Town.

Look at her straight-arming Gerbil. I'm so proud.

So here's the thing. I wanted to take her to the vet when I first noticed her head problems, but Alex was all, "Fifty-nine dollars for a vet appointment? There will be no heroic measures for a three-dollar mouse!"

Because it looked like she was getting better, I agreed, but when it started looking bad again today, I marched up to Alex, who was taking the day off, and gave him a big speech about how if he can gallivant off to Phish shows all the time that I can take my mouse to the vet.

Because he's smart, he agreed. Also because he's not an asshole. He did roll his eyes dramatically, however.

I called up the vet and their not cat/dog guy was able to squeeze us in at 3:30. Unfortunately, I had a doctor appointment at 2:30, which meant it was extremely unlikely that I would be done in time to take Squeaky to the vet.

Which is how Alex was forced to take Squeaky and a couple of kids to the vet. Imagine eye rolling so severe that he almost fell down.

I ended up meeting him at the vet. He was easy to spot because he was the large, embarrassed looking man with a tiny mouse cage in his hand. I let him go home, although he tried to leave the kids with me. Nice try, Alex.

I was a little disturbed when I went into the exam room and saw what looked like a salad spinner on a scale. It had a lid too, which also made it look disturbingly like a pot.

"You're not going to cook her, are you?" I asked the tech.

They didn't cook her, nor did they have to fly in special, tiny instruments from El Paso.* What the vet did do is give me two medications that I have to force her to take twice a day each. How the Christ do you medicate a mouse?

"She's a nice mouse. You're lucky she's not a biter," the vet told me.

Yeah. Not yet.

Also, Squeaky's bill came to $150, for which I could have purchased 58 new mice.

Frankly I was relieved that Squeaky got medicine and not a death sentence. It is possible that there are other things at play that the medicine won't help and that we will have a dramatic goodbye episode between Quinn and his mouse, but Jeebus willing, it won't come to that.

'Til then, I will continue to give Squeaky her morning and night medicine. I can do it right after I give my cat her morning and night medicine, but before I inject the cat with her subcutaneous fluids, right after I dose Quinn with Miralax, treat Sam's psoriasis elbow and perform oral surgery with a toothbrush and dental floss on Jack's soft little teeth.

How did I end up running a goddamn infirmary here? You'll excuse me as I have to go make a meds timetable so I don't forget anyone. Also, I have to pry open some mouse jaws and insert .02mL of medicine. Twice.

* Yet another Guess That Pop Culture Reference Contest! *no prizes will be awarded; void in 49 states.*

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T!

I titled my last post "Success."

Well, actually, I titled it "Sucess," which is possibly the most ironic typo ever.

Thanks, Whirlwind, for pointing that out.

Dammit.

(Extra points if you know where the title to this post came from and if you are singing it to yourself right now.)

Sucess!!

Well, spring break sure is cutting into my ability to write anything this week. My kids are all, "We're home! We need food and attention!" Seriously, it's way cutting into my usual slovenly lifestyle.

Anyway, I am happy to report that the surprise party we threw for Sam this weekend to celebrate his going to his new school in the fall went swimmingly.

Alex took Sam out of the house with some sort of excuse and I got Quinn and Jack to work making their cheery signs of congratulations. We also practiced jumping out and shouting "Congratulations! Way to go, Sam!"


Alex called shortly before he and Sam arrived home and I dispatched the children to their hiding spots. Quinn was so excited he could hardly stand it.


Jack positioned himself so he could trip Sam when he walked in the door. I think he doesn't quite get that a surprise party is a good thing.


I was kind of on the edge of my seat as to how it was going to go. As we waited for Sam to walk in, I imagined that his reaction would go one of two ways:

(a) His joy over wrapped presents and cake would overrule all his other feelings, or

(b) His other feelings would overrule the cake and presents and he would run screaming from the room.

Cake and presents FTW!

Sam was delighted. I explained that we were throwing him a party because we were so proud that he is going to go to the new school. He had no adverse reaction (his adverse reactions before this were SEVERE) and we happily celebrated.


It went so well, in fact, that I started to wonder if the meaning had been lost on him. I let it go for the rest of the party and a little later in the afternoon, I mentioned again that we were proud of him for agreeing to go to the new school. Again, he was fine.

I'm sure we'll still have to lead him gently to his first day of school, but hooray for happy first steps.

He's blurry, but he's happy. Ergo, so am I.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just in Case You're Bored

It is Saturday, and I am not entirely sure that anyone reads blogs on Saturdays, but the weather is really bad, so maybe you all are stuck inside and have nothing to do and were hoping for some fresh blog content today. Well, I am here to serve.

First, I'd like to tell you that there is a tiny group of us who like my Stimeyland Facebook page. Feel free to like me over there if you want to join us and find fresh new content such as that which you see below.


Or, if you're tired of having to follow everybody on 16 different platforms, don't bother. I won't be offended. I'll probably end up posting links to Stimeyland-related things that don't get a whole post here and also links to other places I write. I may also post a lot of pictures of mice.

The reason I posted that particular status update that you see up there is because I have been thinking about my kids as brothers lately. Varda of The Squashed Bologna has a new series going on called Special Needs Siblings Saturday and I am featured there today in a post about siblings as a 24/7 social skills group.

Just in case it's still raining, I have one more place you can go read me today. (Jeez, are you as sick of me as I am?) I posted yesterday at Hopeful Parents about the long path Jack and I took to get a diagnosis for him and to find the doctor who will help us coordinate all his care. It actually started as something quite different, but then mutated into what is there now.

I wrote about all of this as it was happening over the course of the past four years, but I'd never put it all together in one long string. It's kind of a bummer to see how many people blew us off and for how long. The real lesson there, I think, is that you know your child best and that you have to persevere. But, damn, it sucks.

All right, that's enough out of me. Hopefully that's enough to keep you busy today. Have a wonderful weekend, and may the sun come out on you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nobody Mention This to Sam

So, a couple of you have mentioned that it is Friday, which of course is the day that we had to tell the highly gifted center if Sam would or would not be attending this fall.

I have a secret: We sent the form in last Wednesday, the day after I posted about our dilemma and you all were like, "Dude, suck it up and send him." I mean, we were going to do that anyway, but it was really nice that all of you came to pretty much the same conclusion we did.

Now—and this is the tricky part—nobody can tell Sam about this. I'm hoping that he won't notice on the first day of school that he's on a different bus and by the time he gets to school he will either swallow his feelings and soldier on or he will freak out and have to be sedated. Either way, I figure that by that point it will be the new school's problem.

What? Fine. *kicks at the dirt* We'll tell him this weekend. *makes sour face*

We have toured the school and liked it. Sam has toured the school and didn't seem horrified. One of Sam's friends will be attending the school with him. Sam will be able to return to his old school for all those evening events I love so much. We told Sam that if he gives the school a solid try and hates it that he can return to his old school. (What constitutes "a solid try" is currently being negotiated.)

But Sam still doesn't want to go to the new school. He is afraid that he will love it so much that he won't want to go back to his old school, which he also loves.

It is REALLY difficult to argue against that kind of statement.

We have told Sam that we were going to say yes to the program and this Sunday we are going to throw him a surprise party complete with gifts and cake to celebrate his acceptance. The always so smart Joeymom emailed me to say that she would love to celebrate his success and get him a gift to congratulate him on getting into the school (which...so not necessary, but awwww, so nice) and in my head I was all, "I should just hand my kids over to her now, because...DUH."

Alex and I have been tiptoeing so carefully that it never occurred to us to do the complete opposite thing. Now, I AM aware that this could completely backfire, but the tiptoeing thing didn't work, so maybe this will. And if it does backfire? At least we'll have cake.

Sunday afternoon: It is either going to be SPECTACULAR or SPECTACULARLY BAD. I'm hoping for the first. Cross your fingers for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things on My Mind

Petit fours: They're adorable, but two out of three kids will spit them out into my hand.

*****

I bought this pink cat dish for my cat Izzy a few weeks ago. It was the only one the store had, so I wasn't able to buy two, which is really necessary so I can use one while washing the other.

Today I went back to Petsmart and found the same dish, only this one said, "WOOF" on it. I decided to go ahead and buy it regardless of that and the fact that it has little dog bones on the side because, frankly, Izzy can't read.

*****

Sam got into a special program for highly gifted kids for 4th and 5th grade, which means he would go to a different school next year if we agree to send him. And, yes, I have all kinds of baggage about this whole thing and how much of a jerk I sound like calling my kid "highly gifted," and if the other kids don't get into the center are we being total assholes and telling them that they're not awesome, and also I really do get that different kids learn differently and kids on this end of the learning spectrum have special needs too and, well, urgle burgle.

Sam really doesn't want to go. Alex and I think that the school will be really good for him and also we think that he will really love it once he gets there. We know that we are the parents and we get to make decisions that will help our kids become the best people they can be.

But this is the first time that our feelings and Sam's feelings are so opposed to each other for something that is a big deal.

We have to decide by Friday.

*****

My favorite gift that I got Alex this past Christmas is this guy:

I will call him Claude.

With such an awesome little guy on which to rest your glasses during the day, would you go to work and leave THIS at home?


All I did was articulate in a speech bubble what was surely going on in Claude's head.

"I can't see! Where are my glasses!?!"

Alex says he thinks I have too much time on my hands.

*****

Alex also says that he would like to spend a day inside my head. I think he believes that it is a wacky place, full of Claudes and rodents.

*****

Denali, my fat cat, likes my electric blanket as much as I do and spends most of her day sitting on the corner I give her.


*****

Only one of these things is really weighing on my mind. (Although I do enjoy sharing the rest of it with you.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's a Zoo in Here

I just deleted a whole bunch of stuff I wrote about yet another episode of Team Stimey's public vomiting. (Jack this time.) I will now pick up my story where that left off, which is the veterinarian appointment that I had to take Jack to because he threw up at school.

Let me be clear here: I wasn't taking Jack to the vet. I was taking the dog. Jack had to tag along.

I generally make appointments at the veterinarian when my kids are in school for precise reasons which are about to become obvious to you. My dog has had goopy eyes recently, so I had made an appointment to take her in Friday when I didn't have any kids with me.

Enter Jack.

Now, just so you know, our vet always has a cat in a cage in the lobby. This cat is looking for his "forever home." There was a cat named Dexter who was there for a long time and I had almost convinced Alex that we were his people when someone else adopted him.

I still miss Dexter.

The cat who is there now is absolutely hilarious, but he is a bit of a recreational biter, something Jack discovered whilst petting the creature. Jack screamed, "Yeoutch!!" ran to the other side of the waiting room and started to cry. I gave him a hug and told him that some cats bite when they are playing, not because they are mean. I reminded him that one of our cats, Denali, bites sometimes. I forgot for a second that all the munchkins call Denali "the mean cat."

Anyway, Jack recovers, walks back over to the cat and says, with the greatest of venom in his voice, "You're despicable." Then, to anyone who will listen, "That cat is vicious."

This cat:

Awww, who's a cutey, pooty kitty cat?

I had to drag Jack away from hurling epithets at the cat to go into the exam room when we were called, where he played happily with a model of dog teeth the entire time I was talking to the vet, pausing only to make the teeth bite me occasionally.

We returned to the lobby a half hour later to a whole fresh batch of clients. Jack proceeded to let all of them know that that cat, yes, that cat there? "She's a MONSTER."

Also, who doesn't look sick anymore?

Then, and I swear that he did this all by himself and that I didn't shove him in there, Jack decided he wanted to be a kitty cat and he climbed in the vacant cage in the lobby.

I didn't put him there, but I might be the grinning jerk
visible in the background with my camera.

I am happy to report that Jack didn't bite anyone. He did, however, crawl out of the office on his hands and knees, meowing.

And that right there, is why I make appointments while my kids are in school. Imagine that scene with three of them AND my jerky dog, who has on-leash aggression to other dogs...which you tend to find in vet offices.

Naturally, there is now one more place on my list of Places To Which We Can Never Return.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Seattle, Autism & Oh Yeah, We're Puking Again!

I spent the end of last week in Seattle. It was a great trip with some great people and was all kinds of crazy fun. I wrote about it on my review blog. You can find the post if you click here.
Bellevue, near Seattle, from my hotel room.
Do you want to know why I was in Seattle? Here's a hint:


I came home late Saturday night and woke up on Sunday to Quinn climbing into bed with me with a mom-buoying "MOMMMMMYYY!!" It was great. It's always so nice to come home to my munchkins.

Then, this morning it was back to real life when I dragged Jack all the way to Baltimore for an appointment with a developmental pediatrician. This appointment was actually really fantastic, but Jack got carsick on the way home and threw up all over the sidewalk outside the 7-11 where I planned to buy him a doughnut. Then, much later in the day on the way home from speech therapy, he got sick again and threw up aaaaalllllll over the car. Oh, dear lord, it was a scene.

I guess he wasn't car sick the first time? Or maybe he was just super duper car sick both times? Dammit, I really want him to go to school tomorrow.

Speaking of Jack, I would also like to point you to a post I wrote about autism awareness day, which was April 2. Even if you missed it, never fear, because it's autism awareness month for all of April. Whooooo-hooooo! My post is all about why even though sometimes it gets very tiring to think and talk and BE AWARE of autism ALL THE TIME, there are very good reasons to do so.