Sunday, February 26, 2012

Team Stimey and the Plague

You will be happy to hear that my tooth is better and the hydrogen peroxide not only didn't poison me, but it didn't taste bad like I was afraid it would. I figure that I'll start brushing my teeth again in a week or two.

I'm not done with the talk of woe, however. The dog has been gurgling of late. Have I told you this? She'll be across the room and her stomach will gurgle as if she were a zen fountain sitting right next to you. Only there is nothing calming about it.

I took her to the vet, who prescribed some Pepcid and did bloodwork, which naturally came back with a completely different and far more potentially dangerous problem. Her kidneys were already not doing awesome, and now she evidently has some sort of liver issue. We put her on this bright turquoise pill that she has to take every day to see if it helps.

I figure that the next time she goes into the vet for something mundane like a vaccine, she'll come out with a spleenectomy.

Then Quinn barfed all over existence on Friday. Really. Everywhere.

I'm hopeful that the contagion has moved through all of Team Stimey and is now firmly ensconced in the family of one of Quinn's classmates, leaving us safe and healthy.

The thing I can't quite figure out, however, is why we always get sick at the same time as the dog. It just doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Day My Dentist Told Me To Stop Brushing

A few days ago, I noticed that the gumline of one of my teeth hurt. Being me, I ignored it for a couple days and hoped that it just, you know, went away. Sometimes wishing does that. Sadly, not this time. I finally decided to look at it.

Mistake.

The gum was kind of receded a little bit and it didn't look healthy at all.

Here's a photo I took of it today.

Why didn't anyone tell me I have GIANT teeth?

I know. You were worried that it was going to be a horrifying close up, didn't you? I took that photograph too, but decided to not inflict it on you.

You know how sometimes your gums get a little sore and maybe they bleed a little bit, so you brush the hell out of them and then they get better? Or am I the only one with a diseased mouth? Anywho, I decided to super-brush that gum area and through the power of frantic brushing and sheer willpower, THE GUM WOULD HEAL.

Like tough love for the gushy parts of your mouth.

It wasn't getting better and it started hurting more, so finally I decided that the tooth probably wouldn't automatically fall out if I shared my situation with someone. I bared my teeth at Alex this morning and he said, "Yeesh. You should go to the dentist."

So I did. And the dentist says that it is likely a virus that she has been seeing a lot of this winter and that it could go one of two ways: (1) I leave it alone and it gets better, or (2) the infection is just starting and in three days, ALL of my teeth will be inflamed and painful.

Naturally, I'm hoping for the second option.

Then the dentist said that my gums hadn't been getting better because of all the vigorous brushing and that I should stop brushing immediately. It was like I was in bizarro world. Then she told me to swish with hydrogen peroxide twice a day and I nodded, promised not to brush or floss, and left.

Then I started thinking about the hydrogen peroxide and how, huh, I think that might just be poisonous. I asked Siri if it would kill me and she was all, "I don't know; do you want me to search the web for that?" and I was all, "HOW IS THIS INFORMATION NOT PROGRAMMED INTO YOUR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?!" Then I started mulling it over and I've come to the conclusion...I think my dentist is trying to kill me.

I'm so desperately afraid at this point however, that I've brushed my teeth to the point of their falling out, so I'll do anything and I went ahead and swished with the hydrogen peroxide today. I did read the back of the bottle and it said something about being an "oral debriding agent," which I think means that it won't poison me. It made my lips kinda tingly though.

Cross your fingers for me for three things: (1) my tooth heals, (2) the hydrogen peroxide isn't toxic, and (3) I don't decide to post the close up of my diseased gum. (That last one is for you.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tiger Is the New Black Duck*

Do you remember the Duck Head? If you don't remember the Duck Head, you should click this link so you can see the Duck Head.

Well, we might have a new contender.


* If you are looking at this in a reader, you aren't seeing the HTML coding in the title that makes it so goddamn clever. Instead it looks wildly confusing. Trust me. It's clever.

*****

In a completely unrelated matter, can you let me know if you've left comments that haven't appeared? I'm afraid that my comment system is eating them. But then again, if you comment to tell me that the internet is eating your comments, then that comment might get eaten and it's a whole damn vicious cycle.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Ague

Team Stimey is down for the count. The ague has found us again and is making an effort to sweep through our family. I spent two hours this morning on the couch, unable to even contemplate that before too long I was going to have to stumble upstairs to hide from the cleaning people.

I managed to cancel all my appointments, including one at the vet for the dog, which is a little sad, because her stomach audibly gurgled for several hours yesterday, making me think that she might have the ague as well.

I also managed to send a tweet, just in case of, you know, the WORST, so you could know what happened to me.

Day 3: Abrade skin from hands by washing them every four minutes.

I was happily napping at noonish, having dragged my feeling slightly better self upstairs when the phone rang. It was the school. Images of my children flashed through my head. Jack was sick over the weekend; it's probably him. Sam was sniffly this morning; I wonder if he got worse? Quinn complained of being dizzy this morning; perhaps he has the vertigo.

Turns out it was Quinn, whom I went and picked up, but who didn't seem to be sick at all. I think his Team Stimeyness just made him regurgitate some of his lunch, making it seem to the casual observer that he was actually sick.

Regardless, I brought him home and he did his whole week's worth of math homework in 15 minutes, and then he happily read Calvin and Hobbes.

Emphasis on "happily."

Oh, and chatting. Don't forget "happily chatting."

Thanks for wrecking my hopes of napping the day away, Quinn.

Then I ended up bribing him with cookies, turning on the TV, and taking a nap anyway.

All of this is to say that between sickness, napping, auditioning for the DC version of Listen to Your Mother, hiding from the cleaning people, and being the mother of the subject of a photo story on autism being photographed by the most adorable (and truly thoughtful and creative) art student known to humankind (more on that later), if you have (a) emailed me or (b) required something from me, I probably haven't (a) responded or (b) done it.

I hope to rejoin the world shortly.

I did, at some point manage to write a couple of things elsewhere. First, I wrote about which one of my kids is my favorite over at White Knuckle Parenting. (You should guess before you head over there. Then come back and tell me if you were right.) Then, I wrote about this cool new(ish) social media-type thingy called Squag over at Autism Unexpected.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jack's Measurable Social Progress Day

I have been struggling a little bit with what to write here lately. I currently have all kinds of angst over...lots of stuff. I miss Susan. Jack is struggling mightily. There are commitments I am torn about keeping or dropping. Things aren't super awesome.

I keep writing and deleting, writing and deleting, which is an extremely frustrating experience, and one which ultimately results in my writing nothing.

But I'm going to put all that aside for a minute to tell you about Valentine's Day. Yes, I know I'm late, that all of the half price post-Valentine's Day chocolate has already been purchased and consumed, but I have some things to say.

Two years ago at Jack's school Valentine's Day party, I realized that he didn't know the names of any of his classmates. I realized that his not knowing this super basic information about his peers was indicative of his lack of real inclusion in his classroom. It knocked me down hard. Ever since, I've been very watchful during Valentine's Day parties to see how he does. I consider the day to be Jack's Measurable Social Progress Day.

That soldier in the upper left? Jack saluted him for, like, five minutes.

This year during card passing out time, I didn't help Jack at first. He took a valentine and wandered around looking for the desk of the girl to whom it was addressed. Most of the other kids had passed out half of their cards by the time I finally stepped in and helped him find her desk.

At that point, I realized that he needed help. So I handed him the valentines one at a time and let him search for the kid, but only helped him if he was obviously clueless about who the child was. Jack did really well. It helped that once we were two or three cards in, most of the other kids were done and sitting at their desks so they were easier to find.

He didn't know everyone's names, but he knew a lot of them, and the kids were all lovely to Jack. Jack had even written some extra stuff to a couple of the kids on their cards. It's cool to see him starting to be interested in his classmates.

Part of the jumble of angst I am feeling is stress about Jack's educational placement and whether he is in the right place. So it is lovely to see that even if he's having a really tough time (and he is) and even if the social gulf between him and his peers is widening (and it is) that he is able to be part of the class.

Jack also made valentines for all of our pets and set about distributing them after school. I still haven't found the one he gave to our remaining (child hating) cat, but he didn't have bleeding scratches when he came back from giving it to her, so I'm not too concerned.

The two remaining mice (geez, our house is kind of depressing these days) were out and about and no doubt enjoyed their valentines tremendously.

"Oh, Jack! But I didn't get you anything!"

The dog was less excited to get her valentine.

It says "WOOF!"

Then Cassidy reciprocated Jack's love by giving him a big ol' sloppy kiss. I really enjoyed watching that.

Jack enjoyed it less.

Oh, right, and I let the rest of my family know that I love them too. (By the way, don't do your Valentine's Day shopping at Target ON Valentine's Day after your family gives you a lovely heart-shaped locket engraved multiple times with the word "Love." The pink sections of the store were long since picked clean.)

Now all I need is someone to tell me how to get a tiny photograph of all three of my children into a heart-shaped locket. It's harder than it sounds. I hope you all had a happy Jack's Measurable Social Progress Day too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Outrageousness

In the field of outrageous claims by small people, the other day when I was driving Jack to school, he stated with total conviction, "I invented autism."

So there you have it.

Feel free to send all your complaints and kudos to him.

*****

In the field of outrageously poor parenting by yours truly, please head over to White Knuckle Parenting today, where I wrote about My Worst Parenting Choice Ever. Seriously. It's a good one. Zombies may or may not be involved.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Score One For Jack

Jack kicked the shit out of a social event yesterday. A couple of local high school hockey teams had a game that they made into a fundraiser for the super awesome Montgomery Cheetahs and we were all invited to hang out, eat pizza, and watch.

(Related: Remind me to tell you sometime about the super awesome Skate-a-thon fundraiser we're having on May 12, which just happens to be Jack's birthday. You are ALL invited—nay, EXPECTED—to attend. Mark your calendars now.)

Anywho. This game was at a skating arena, which seems obvious now that I've written that out, and the Cheetahs had the party room in which to hide from the crowds of hockey spectators. It was kinda like we were in the owners box. It rocked.

Usually at these types of events, which are crazy overstimulating and stressful for all of Team Stimey, Jack ends up madly spinning until I shove an iPad in his hands and force him to sit under a table or something. Meanwhile, Sam and Quinn find people to act insane with and run around until I lose it and start shouting.

It can be stressful. Add to that the fact that I want Jack to bond with his teammates, but don't see it happening. Last year, at the hockey tournament we went to, I'm not entirely sure that Jack spoke to one other kid.

Well. Times are changing. That photo up there? I had to crop it that way so as to not include the other kids he was playing with—and because I wanted to show you that smile. It's starting to click for him. He spent the evening talking to his best friend T, who also plays on the team, and playing tag with a gang of other kids. (He also spent some time confusing the teenager behind the counter at the snack bar, but that's something else entirely.)

Last week, we were at a different event where there was another Cheetah in attendance. Jack didn't recognize him, but once we told him that the kid was on the team, Jack worked really hard to talk to him and sit next to him. It was awesome.

THIS is what special hockey is about, people. Sure, it's about the game and the pride and the exercise and the working together as a group and all, but this? This coming together as a team and feeling a connection with other kids because you're part of the same group, the same thing? WANTING to play with other kids, who WANT to play back? Special motherfucking hockey people. That's all I'm going to say.

I was so proud of Jack. Honestly, he could have given me lessons about how to manage a crowd. You know how sometimes you meet someone for the second time and you realize that you said just about the exact same things to them the second time around as the first, because apparently speaking to the other humans is too hard? Yeah, that. (Hi, Rachel!)

It's taken me a while to realize that these overstimulating events don't just affect my kids, they affect me too, rendering me sort of incapable of managing my children or holding up my end of a conversation without wild hand gesturing and furtive glances around the room on my part.

Sam and Quinn, my social butterflies, sort of sat this one out, which was weird because this is usually the exact type of situation in which they tend to run all over the place, making me freak out entirely. Instead, they sat on the ground and played chess on my iPad.

Nerds!!!!

Thank God for small favors.

Near the end of the evening, I was packing up our stuff when I noticed Jack was no longer in the room. I scooped up our stuff and herded Sam and Quinn out of the room and past a semi-frantic dad who had just located his child who had done the same thing Jack was in the process of doing, which was disappearing entirely.

We found Jack just as the game buzzer rang and people started bolting from the packed arena. At this point, I started shoving my kids out of the building in order to avoid parking lot gridlock. It turns out that Jack had picked a really opportune time to wander off close to the exit. Good on him.

I'm going to give Team Stimey a thumbs up for this outing. Jack may even get an extra fist bump. And the Cheetahs get my eternal love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Team Stimey and the Cat

Dear 2012: Go fuck yourself. Seriously. You have not been good for anyone.

For all of you out there having a bad time, you have all of my love. Don't ask me how each of you can have all of my love. It's possible and you have it, so shaddup.

Related: I hate everything.


Like that photo. It looks like a closeup of Jack, but if you click to embiggen the photo, you will be able to see the tear stain on his cheek that I noticed after he came home. Welcome to Jack and school these days. Did I mention that I hate everything?

I have to stop.

So. The feral cat we accidentally trapped in our car.

Lately I've caught myself talking to people and then drifting off only to come back to the knowledge that I have been gazing past whoever has been speaking to me. The "evening routine" version of this is getting out of my minivan at night and leaving the sliding side door open in the rain. I did that last night.

When Alex got home from work, he noticed that the door was open, so he used his set of keys to close the door.

Then he noticed the animal inside.

Thinking Team Stimey might need a laugh, he came into the house to, you know, get the whole family to go outside and see if it was a feral cat or an opossum that was now feasting on the goldfish crackers in the cracks of our car seats. (It turned out to be a gigantic, kinda terrified looking gray tabby cat.)

The children thought the cat in the car was the most hilarious thing that had ever happened in their lives.

Somehow we ended up surrounding the car and the cat FREAKED OUT. It started ping ponging around the car—trunk area, back seat, dashboard, back to the trunk. We finally had to open three doors and give it a wide berth before it was brave enough to run for the bushes.

On the upside, now our car smells like panicked feral cat pee.

Did I already tell 2012 to fuck off? Because I seriously mean it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laughter and Tears

Susan's funeral service was today. It was wonderful to see so, so many of her friends there. It just felt that in a gathering of those people that she should have been sitting among us. I loved hearing Canape sing a song and play the piano for her. Her song took my breath away.

Then, after the service, walking downstairs to the reception, I missed the last step and totally fell down the stairs. I am such a buffoon. It was a very Stimey moment. I think Susan would have approved.

At least I didn't puke on anyone. I think Susan would have approved of that too.

There was both laughter and tears today.

On Tuesday, I posted about Susan over at my White Knuckle Parenting column, which is ironic, because Susan was the opposite of a white knuckle parent. (That site seems to be running a bit slow, so check back if it doesn't pop up the first time.)

That's it for today. I think tomorrow I will ease back into it with a post about the feral cat we accidentally caught in our car this evening.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Already Miss You, Susan.

Susan passed away today. Although it will probably be yesterday by the time you read this. I am up late, my eyes tired from tears, but unable to sleep. This is the last day that Susan lived; I want to see it through to its end.

I still can't believe she is gone. Susan has been part of my life for so long that I can't imagine life without her. I look at her photograph and am so sad that I will never again see that beautiful smile she is flashing in every single one. My heart aches for her family; for her best friend, Marty; for all of us.

I think most of us are lucky to have a few close friends. It speaks volumes about Susan that she had so many. Susan inspired so very many people. Her life was far too short, but she had more of an impact in so many disparate worlds—aerospace, cancer research and support, blogging, family, friendship—than many of us will have if we live to be a hundred.

Curt, you may call yourself WhyDaddy, but you will always be WonderDaddy to me. Susan bestowed you with that name in a time of great pain for her, and no doubt for you as well. I have watched you take care of Susan and your sons with your own grace and dignity and helped Susan maintain hers.

I can only imagine how deep your pain must be tonight. I know that Susan would have done anything to keep that pain from you and your kids. I hope you are able to find some peace in the knowledge that thousands of people are thinking of you, sending their love and their prayers to you tonight.

I love you, Susan. And I miss you already.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Museum with Team Stimey, in Pictures

Sam had a field trip to the Natural History Museum on Friday and he came home all excited about it and wanted to take the family back there last weekend. Mostly he wanted to show my mom (who is in town visiting) the Hope Diamond, which is housed at the museum.

I listened to Sam tell a lot of people about going to see the Hope Diamond and every single one of them followed up with, "You know, a lot of people think that the Hope Diamond is cursed." Which is funny, because that was the first thing Sam said about it too.

Regardless, Team Stimey packed up and headed down to the museum for a four-second glimpse of the diamond in question.

Being who I am, I took a lot of photos. Being who they are, Quinn and Sam did as well.

We are quite the scene when we travel in a pack.

My kids are so used to me making them stand in front of something and posing in a certain way that they didn't even blink when I told them to go be surly in front of the Easter Island statue. Fortunately, surly comes easy to Team Stimey.

Blurry also comes easy to us. And goofy.

We always hit the dinosaurs first, because EVERYONE always hits the dinosaurs first, where we found this handy measuring device on one of the walls.

Jack is Paleozoic feet and Permian inches tall.

After dinosaurs, we headed off to the Hope Diamond. Sam now has many, many photographs of this necklace.

You know, a lot of people think the Hope Diamond is cursed.

My personal favorite thing in the museum is the crystal ball. If anyone is looking for a gift to give me, I would like a giant, perfectly flawless crystal ball—mainly for the photography opportunities. That way, I could take my time on setting up my photo and not worry about strangers in my shot, because getting four people to pose in a crystal ball was a lot like trying to herd small, distorted, upside-down cats.

Quinn, my mom, Sam, Jack.

At museums, my family does a lot of pinging around from exhibit to exhibit, but Jack likes to take a more in-depth approach. We sat on a fair number of carpets to watch videos. I feel that the obstruction of traffic flow is justified by a child learning.

See Jack. See Jack learn.

I don't remember going through the skeleton exhibit with my kids before, but it's kind of fun. Quinn really wanted a photo of the human skeleton. Then I made Alex feel bad by telling Quinn, "That's a skeleton like yours on the left. And that's a skeleton like Daddy's on the right."

If I've said it once, I'll say it again:
You're so glad you're not married to me.

We didn't stay at the museum for very long. We didn't even go to the mammal hall to see all the taxidermied animals posed in humiliating ways. We did, however, watch a video about the creation of Earth, which was just enough to give Quinn confirmation of some completely erroneous and outrageous ideas he holds about star dust and how it is the base of everything.

We did have one last photo op on the way back to the car.

In case it's too small to read, the sign says, "Colossal Head."

Did I mention that you're glad you're not married to me?

Outrageous Claims by Team Stimey

Quinn has this way of being that requires him to talk all the time. I know that I am very lucky to have a child who is so able to express himself and be so adorably charming, but there are times when I just feel that it must be SO EXHAUSTING to be him. I can't imagine talking all the time like he does. I would have to nap a lot if I were him.

The problem is that he requires someone to answer him—nay, agree with him—after he makes his statements. I know this because every sentence that he speaks ends with, "Right, Mom? Right?" He will repeat that until I say, "Yes, Quinn."

Then, if I agree with him, which I sometimes do automatically without even thinking about it, he will make a follow-up statement, which concludes with "Right, Mom? Right?" as well. And so forth.

I get in trouble when I become present three or four sentences in, when I realize that Quinn has been saying things that I shouldn't really be agreeing to. If you are a parent, you might have had this happen to you.

But what I am here to talk to you about today is that even when I am listening, I get into trouble. Quinn escalates quickly from logic to outrageously ludicrous claims.

I have made up this conversation to show you what it is like to ride in a car with Quinn. Even though it is an imaginary conversation, I guarantee you, this is EXACTLY what it is like. (We talk about star dust a lot. And candy.)

topics: easter island

Quinn: Purple is a color. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Mmm hmmmm.

Quinn: Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Yes.

Quinn: Is that a yes, Mom?

Me: YES!

Quinn: Orange is also a color. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Yes.

Quinn: Your favorite color is orange. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Yes.

Quinn: The sun is orange too. The sun's favorite color is orange. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Well, I don't know if the sun—

Quinn: Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Yes, Quinn.

Quinn: The sun is made of solar flares that make star dust. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Well, there are solar flares on the sun and—

Quinn: Everything is made of star dust. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: What do you mean by star dust? There are atoms—

Quinn: Star dust is really, really tiny but it's orange. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: I don't think atoms have a color, Quinn.

Quinn: Orange is made of star dust. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: I...guess...so...

Quinn: Star dust tastes like sprinkles and candy. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Yes, Quinn.

Quinn: Mom? Can I have some candy? With sprinkles?

Me, considering that candy in his mouth might give me two or three minutes of quiet: Yes, Quinn.

Quinn, while eating candy: This candy is made of sprinkles. And star dust. Right, Mom? Right?

Me: Sigh.

All day, every day.

*****

Jack is more succinct, but just as outrageous.

In the car on the way to school this morning:

"I invented autism."

There you have it. We will be accepting kudos, hate mail, and bug reports at your convenience.