Saturday, June 30, 2012

Powerless

Our power is out. Possibly for a while. It sucks. My kids are faced with the difficult assignment of eating all the ice cream in the freezer.




We have a surprisingly large amount of ice cream.

Seriously. It sucks. Send pity.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Team Stimey Goes to Camden Yards: A Story in Five Chapters

Chapter One: Team Stimey as a Whole

So. A while back (I am woefully late in writing this post), Team Stimey got an invitation to go see the Baltimore Orioles play a game at Camden Yards. It was a bold move on the part of the Orioles organization to invite this gang of hooligans to go see a game, but I didn't clue them in. I just said yes and then dragged my kids to Baltimore on the rainiest day ever.

Team Stimey Junior.

What is it with us, rain and baseball? Walking from our car to the stadium, we were soaked. And then it stopped raining. Yay for everyone who arrived after us. Bummer for us. But also yay for not being rained on during our private tour of Oriole Park at Camden Yards!

I'm not sure Tour Guide Bob was prepared for my kids, but he did an admirable job of putting up with us.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure they had legitimate questions.

We got to see all of Camden Yards, which was totally cool. We saw the Kids Corner, which features games for kids and a play area in case you have kids who get antsy during ball games. He showed us the press rooms, which was one of the coolest things. I love that behind the scenes stuff. Very, very cool.

We also got to go out to the field. That was awesome. We were under strict orders to not step on the grass and to stay in one place and we only had, like, a minute and a half out there. Naturally I was sure that Jack was going to take off and run the bases, which would have made for excellent blog fodder, but might have gotten us taken off the Orioles blogger list. And kicked out of the stadium.

It was difficult to take an awesome photo of Team Stimey Junior under such conditions. The fabulous Goon Squad Sarah took this one, which has almost all of our faces. I kind of super love this photo.

Jack contemplating a base run.

I didn't fare quite so well. Quinn evidently believed that he had been taken out to the field to be shot by firing squad.

Or so his expression would lead you to believe.

Those kids have no idea how cool an experience that was. They also have no idea how cool it was that they then got to watch the game from a private luxury box full of dinner and snacks. Although they did each enjoy it in their own way.

Jack by playing iPad, Quinn by eating, Sam by watching baseball.

Chapter Two: Sam

Sam, to my recollection, two weeks after the event, was lovely. Had you asked me on the drive home, I might have had other things to say, but at this point, all I can remember is how into the game Sam was.

He sat in his corner seat and watched the game, only getting up to find food.

Baltimore's newest Orioles fan.

Oh, he also got up to harass the Orioles mascot when the bird was trying to make children happy.

You're welcome to all the parents whose photos of
their kids were marred by Sam's bunny ears.

Chapter Three: Jack

Jack was a little overstimulated at the game. He did a lot of twirling.

"We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward;
and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"*

(* Guess that quote.)

I also like the fact that as soon as we got to the luxury box and went to the window to look out at our own private seats overlooking the field, Jack was all, "Look! Glass! I bet I could make a smiley face on that!"

And he did.

Then he demanded my iPad and because I was concerned about him twirling toward freedom right over the railing, I gave it to him. He enjoyed that iPad for the entire rest of the time we were there, except for the few minutes that I forced him to watch the game. Watching baseball might not be his favorite thing.

Even when the mascot came in, Jack only managed to get up to show him his iPad and then he returned to his seat.

Look, giant bird! Look what I have!

Chapter Four: Quinn

So Quinn. Quinn didn't stop eating the entire time we were at the game. He walked into the suite, saw snacks on a table and sat down and made himself at home. I was all, "Hey, Quinn! Do you want to come outside and see the field?" and he was all, "No thanks, I'm happy here."

He is soooo small, but soooo packed full of food.

Every time I saw him, he was wandering around with some giant container of baseball food.

They might have intended this bucket to feed more than one child.

As with the other two children, Quinn managed to put aside his defining baseball game-attending behavior to visit the mascot. This is actually kind of a big deal, because Quinn is often afraid of the giant stuffed, mobile animal.

Although it looks as if he were strong-armed into it.

Even on the way out, Quinn was trying to get food. He managed to talk our very wonderful hosts into giving him a giant bag of pretzels.

Now. I need you to prepare yourself for the greatest juxtaposition of two photos you will ever see in your life.

Yay! Pretzels!

Twenty seconds later.

I know. I took that first photo, turned, and started walking with Quinn behind me and then I heard the sound of a huge number of small, hard snacks cascading onto the ground. I just stopped and I couldn't even turn around for a minute. You know how you know what you are going to see and you don't want to? That was me.

Chapter Five: Stimey

So, me. I had a lovely time. Camden Yards is a really cool ballpark and has lots of nice amenities. I think even if you didn't get to watch the game from a luxury box that you would have a good time. Although I highly recommend the luxury box.

I was part of a group of bloggers who went to hear about the Orioles and Camden Yards and some of the people who are involved in the organization.

Bloggers. Learning.

We were able to meet Angela Showalter, who is (probably pretty obviously) Manager Buck Showalter's wife. She told us about raising her kids and moving around throughout her husband's career. She also told us about one of the charities she is involved in, called KidsPeace, which provides therapeutic services for foster kids.

She was lovely.

And don't think that when I saw that Oriole come in that I didn't bum rush him before any of the kids were able to get to him. 

If you wait, you don't get the awesome hug and two-shot.

I got even better hugs from someone else though.

Awwww...

Also, I should tell you that a blogger's kid puked and it wasn't one of mine. Surprise!

We had such a great night. Thank you so much to the Orioles for showing us such a good time. Everyone we came in contact with was very lovely to us, even during that hellaciously long ten minutes after leaving the suite and making it to our car. The people who were nice to us about the pretzels especially earned my gratitude.

And lest you think that Quinn was overly sad about the pretzels or Sam was upset that we left the game a little early or that Jack was unable to cope with my surgical removal of the iPad from his hands, rest assured. One bag of fluffed sugar and they were thrilled.


They all had a really, really fun time. I'm so glad we were able to go.

Epilogue

Aaaaaand I think that is all the baseball stories I have for a while.

Acknowledgements (Disclosure)

The Orioles hosted a private event for a group of bloggers, which included tickets, a tour, parking, dinner, and gift bags for the munchkins. My opinions are my own. As are the hooligans.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catching Up Quickly

Summer is kicking my ass, folks. I'm having a hard time finding time to write. I have a big project coming up, so if I am AWOL for chunks of time, you'll know why. I have something fun I want to write about tomorrow, but for now, I'll give you a couple of links.

I wrote about Sam's trip to camp over at White Knuckle Parenting, which is back at least through July! Yay!

Jack is also part of a story by Maria Mora on SheKnows about kids with sensory issues. There are some awesome profiles of a bunch of cool kids in that story. I love how she shows how every kid is so different.

I hope to see you all tomorrow! Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rain Night at the Ballpark

So, when it was pouring rain on Friday, were you all, "Thank God I didn't go to that baseball game with Stimey!"?

I'll admit it: even I kinda wished I wasn't going to the baseball game. Especially when we got there and it was still something like 900 degrees outside, but it was pouring rain and this is what it looked like out on the field.

That bright sky gave us a little hope though.

Not to mention that even though Friday was Hockey for Hope/Autism Awareness Night for the Bowie Baysox, Sunday is Cowboy Monkey Rodeo night.

COWBOY. MONKEY. RODEO.

Cowboy monkeys. Riding DOGS.

We clearly chose the wrong night to attend.

Except we didn't, because Jack and the other diehard Cheetahs players (and some players from a couple other local teams) who attended got to go out on the field and be cheered on by all 16 people in attendance.

I'm not sure if you'll be able to spot my family in the crowd.

It was really cool. Jack and the other players were totally into it. Jack did his flexed muscles pose and then he stood out there with his thumb in the air. He cracks me up.

But what is he staring at with that funny expression?

Oh. These guys.

So, those unidentifiable creatures are Louie (the green...thing) and Rocko (the rockfish? I think?). Evidently Louie is the original mascot and Rocko is a new secondary mascot. Because all minor league baseball teams need two mascots. I'm thinking of getting a secondary mascot myself. You know, to help Algernon out.

We ended up having a really fun time. The kids ate a lot of junk food, including 12 dollars worth of ice.

Quinn: "This is turning out to be a great dinner!"

I think the Baysox won, which is great. We didn't find out because we bailed after the second inning when it started thundering and then rain started pouring down. I actually wish we could have stayed longer because I was having a lot of fun, which is strange considering I find baseball to be, by far, the most boring of the sports.

But you don't argue with a sky like this:

(Not the moon, just a light.)

It's funny, because even though I don't like baseball, I feel like that's all I've been talking about lately. In fact, I have a report from an Orioles game we went to a while back that I haven't posted yet either. That'll come soon. Interestingly, it poured rain that night too.

And now I have to go because we have an early baseball practice tomorrow. See? All baseball, all the time. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Invitation and a Link

Invitation: Wanna go to a baseball game with Team Stimey? It is autism awareness night at the Bowie Baysox baseball game this Friday. Jack's hockey team has a block of tickets available for this game, which starts at 7:05pm. All tickets are $7 each and are for great box seats right down by the field.

Any of you are welcome to come. You don't have to have a Cheetahs player to come. You don't have to have a kid with autism to come. You just have to want to have a fun night out at the ballpark. Profits from the ticket sales go towards a tournament between the three local special hockey teams that takes place over the holiday break this December.

Also, it's my birthday on Friday, so you can celebrate my birthday with me too. Yay, me!

If you're interested, email me at stimeyland (at) gmail (dot) come and we'll figure out a way to do a ticket/money exchange.

Link: Why (and how to) pursue an adult autism diagnosis. You know. According to me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This Is Getting Absurd (Subtitle: That Poor Blanket)

Sam is still at camp. Which is good. It was weird to not have him here today. We didn't have anyone to boss us around.

We went to the zoo today with my friend Heather and her kids. We all piled into my car and headed out this morning. About 5 minutes before we got to the zoo, Jack started moaning and saying he was carsick. I managed to pull over and was opening the door so he could get out, when he got carsick all over the car.

I'm just glad we didn't have a domino effect with Heather's kids.

Fortunately Jack had brought his lovey blanket with him, so I used it to clean up the car and then got back behind the wheel and we kept on our way. It was a bad day to be Jack's favorite blanket.

"I'm glad we took your car," said Heather. (It was also a bad day to be my car.)

Things got better from there. We had a good time.

We got to see an anaconda get a shower...


 We watched Algernon taunt a pitviper...


 We made sure to feed Jack a milky snack before stuffing him back in the car for the ride home...


 And when we arrived back at the car, Jack's soiled blanket was still where we left it (thank God)...


Then back home to the pool...*


Altogether a pretty good day. (Unless you were the blanket.)

* Photo actually from last week, but the same thing happened today.

*****

Hey, guess what? White Knuckle Parenting is back for a couple of weeks! Yay! I wrote about how things have degenerated at my house since school let out. My kids have turned into the Bickersons.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Progress—or, There IS Spinning in Baseball

Two years ago I took Jack to our first Montgomery Cheetahs practice. It wasn't hockey practice though, it was an unofficial baseball practice put together by some of the Cheetahs dads. We didn't know anyone. Jack didn't like baseball. It was hot.

It didn't go super well. (<—That link is well worth reading.)

I didn't beat myself up over the experience, but we haven't been back to any of the baseball gatherings either.

Until today.

Just like two years ago, Alex was out of town, so it was my three kiddos and me. And just like two years ago, I got lost on the way to the field. (Directions: the field is on the right side of the road just past the one-lane bridge and sixteen meters to the left of the magical elephant.)

It is rare to have such a perfect mirror, with images two years apart, to be able to see the progress your child has made.

And progress—he has made it.

We had a GREAT time this morning. All three of my kids played for the whole practice. Sam has been wanting to play baseball recently, so he was beyond excited to be there. Sam is a good kid. Like, a really good kid. I love how much he loves to play sports and that he's thrilled to be an honorary Cheetah for baseball.

He found his baseball hat from the team he was on two years ago.

Quinn initially looked like he might be some trouble (he was the only one resistant to going this morning), but once he he realized that there is running in baseball, he turned into the most eager fielder I have seen. He was all, "I have it!" and "Outta my way!"

I call this photo "Wind Tunnel Quinn."

He was an eager batter too.

And Jack? Every time his bat hit the ball, even when it was his turn to hit multiple balls in a row, he insisted on running the bases. Every ball he hit was a home run, according to him. Jack knows how to make his own joy, that is for sure. He was a happy little fielder too, although he did more spinning than running after balls, which is fine by me.

Quinn was there to get the balls after all.

What's more, all three of them are excited about baseball now. They are excited to go back next week. It is quite a change from the last time we were here. They have all grown and matured. It is amazing what a couple of years can do.

Remember that. It is amazing what a couple of years can do.

Whether you have a typical child or a special needs kiddo, IT IS AMAZING WHAT A COUPLE OF YEARS CAN DO. Hang in there.

Over the course of the past two years, Jack has grown more interested in sports, has gotten better at waiting turns and being patient, and has started to understand how it feels to be part of a team. He is able to take what he has learned at hockey and apply it to baseball. He is more invested in life outside himself than he was then.

After a really tough year at school, it was really nice to see that he really isn't in stasis. I can see that maybe he went backward in some ways, but in other very important ways, he is moving forward.

Naturally, next week when no one wants to play baseball and all three of them are assholes, I'll be all, "Why can't they be cooperative like all the other kids?!" and you will say, "Two steps forward, one step back is still progress," and I will be like, "I guess. Thanks."

Or maybe we'll take three steps forward in a row. Sometimes that happens. If anyone can do it, it is this guy.


Play ball!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Camp Stimey Takes to the Woods

One of my goals this summer is to get my kids out of the house and doing active stuff, which has the added benefit of getting me out of the house and doing active stuff. Today was the second day of summer vacation, we had a blank square on our calendar, and it seemed to be time to put up or shut up.

I told the munchkins that we were going for a hike after lunch. Sam was appalled. Jack was ambivalent. Quinn set about enthusiastically packing a snack for us even though we had just consumed lunch. He was so goddamn adorable about it that I didn't have the heart to make him stop. Not to mention that he was putting it all in his backpack, so it looked like he was going to end up carrying our supplies, which I found awesome.

The only problem was that I didn't know where we were going to hike. What does a nerd do when she's looking for a place to hike? She Googles the name of her city and "hiking" and finds some easy trails 15 minutes from her house.

Done and done.

It was pretty funny because Sam continued to complain and complain about being forced to go, you know, outside and even claimed to have called Alex and gotten permission from him to not have to go, but then when we pulled into the parking lot of the trail-head, which we've driven by a million times, he was all, "Oh. I've always wanted to come here."

Dude. Trust your mom once in a while. Jackass.

See, I suckered them in with running water and by the time they realized that the rest of the walk wasn't as exciting, they were already too far in to throw a tantrum.

Thank you, weird, rusty remnants of...something interesting.

Furthermore, I was correct about Quinn wanting to carry the backpack. Everything was coming up roses.

Please note the water bottle in the backpack pocket.
This is important later.

Because I'm me, I made them stop to take a photo. This was just as Sam came to the realization that there are bugs in nature and he started to scream and wave his arms around his head. It started when he spotted a butterfly, continued with a dragonfly, and disintegrated from there. Thank God we didn't find any ticks.

See how he's keeping himself all small to avoid
providing surfaces for bugs to land on?

Then Quinn noticed that our water bottle (one of my favorites, naturally) had disappeared. I tried to send Sam back to look for it, because he is the most reliable of the munchkins by himself, but he refused to unfurl himself enough to walk past the bushes in his way, so I backtracked a little bit to look for it, but I couldn't find it.

I came back to find Quinn demanding a snack break.

We had been hiking for three minutes.

This photo makes the whole thing worth it though.

I wasn't ready to let them stop and eat the chicken drumsticks and slices of bread that Quinn had packed for us, but that didn't stop Quinn from sitting down by a tree and saying, "You go ahead, I have to take a break," as if we should abandon him on the trail because he was just too exhausted.

Maybe it's because he was carrying the backpack.

I made them walk for a half hour before I finally let them stop. No one was really hungry, but Quinn, Jack, and I all made an effort to eat a couple of bites of bread after it had been so earnestly packed. Sam refused to sit down and scanned the air for low-flying insects.

I gave him my camera though and he spent the return walk
focused on taking more than 100 photos.

He did manage to get a photo of our smallest hiker as well.

No, not Jack.

He blends into the trail, but he's there. It's Algernon!

Algernon didn't even OFFER to carry the backpack.

We may have lost a water bottle, but on the way back, we did find this awesome abandoned shoe sole that Quinn insisted on carrying all the way to the car with us.

His pack-rat-ism is almost pathological.

For a while, it looked as if we were going to be able to get rid of the shoe sole because this dog here really wanted it.

Thank you, Sam, for your thorough photographic documentation of our hike.

Unfortunately, the dog's moms didn't want the shoe sole as much as I didn't want the shoe sole and foiled all my efforts to force Quinn to let the dog have the damn thing.

The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. The shoe sole is still in my car. No one had a tick and Sam wasn't murdered by any bugs. As we drove away, I told the kiddos that next time we're going to hike even farther. Happily, they seemed to accept the fact that there would be more hiking.

Next time though, we're not taking our best water bottle.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You All Are the BEST.

Aw, you guys. Thank you.

I'm usually pretty chill about publishing stuff here, but I was a little freaked out about my last post. Usually I write, revise, edit, reread, and publish, all in short order. That last post stayed in my drafts folder for quite a while as I tried to find the right words.

Late last night, I clicked publish, pushed the link out on Facebook and Twitter and went to bed before feedback could come back in. I was nervous. But you guys were so great to me. Thank you.

I feel like I'm always saying that to you guys. You all are so good to me. I appreciate you so much.

I read every comment, email, Facebook message, and tweet at least twice, from both some of my oldest friends and from some people who are new to me as of today—and many folks in between. I love you/it is a pleasure to meet you and thank you so much for your support. I haven't had a chance to respond to all of you, but I will. Until I do, you should know that every word you wrote to me was meaningful.

*****

I seems a little gauche to thank you and then advertise a link, but as long as I have you here, I might as well send you over to Autism Unexpected, where I wrote about taking Jack to his school's end-of-the-year carnival. Just don't look too much at the photo that accompanies it. I didn't choose that photo and, in fact, it kind of stresses me out to look at it. Just scroll right down to the words.

I'll probably write more often over there now considering that I'm not writing my White Knuckle Parenting column anymore due to budgetary reasons. (Theirs, not mine.) They were lovely to me over there at the Wheaton Patch. I miss them.

Aspie Like Me: A Diagnosis Story

This post is an important one to me, folks. Naturally that means I'm going to do something most people do when they are discussing matters of deep personal introspection. I am going to quote an Adam Sandler movie.

In the movie Punch Drunk Love, Sandler's character is talking about how he doesn't know if he needs to see a psychiatrist.

"I don't know if there is anything wrong," he says, "because I don't know how other people are."

I saw that movie back in 2002 and I barely remember the plot, but I remember that line. It touched something in me that I'd felt for a long time. Something was different about me, but I didn't know if it was real or just me imagining that I felt different than everyone else. How could I know?

For the most part though, what did it matter? I was living my life, I was doing my thing.

Then I had Jack and he was different too. And I started to learn about autism. When I would read books about autism, I would see myself in them. I make notes in margins of books when there is something I want to remember and in these books about autism I would sometimes write "Jack" with an arrow pointing to a passage and I would sometimes write "me" instead.

I would read things written by adult autistic individuals and I would recognize myself.

I would think back to my childhood and my teen years and my young adulthood and I would remember the choices I had made very consciously to adopt ways of being to be like everyone else and I would also remember some of the completely clueless things I had done. I would read about autism in children and young people and recognize thoughts and actions from my own childhood.

I would read about autism in girls and women and nod as I learned how it is different for them.

I read so many times that parents of children with autism were diagnosed after their children. I wondered if I should be one of them. I wondered if it was the power of suggestion or if I really was different. I didn't know, because I didn't know how other people were.

Several years ago, I recognized my sensory processing disorder and very confidently self-diagnosed myself. In this case, I knew how not like everyone else I was. My auditory issues are the most intense, but I have very significant tactile issues and, to a lesser degree, some other sense issues. Learning that my aversions were based on my neurological makeup and not just a result of me being kind of uptight meant a lot to me.

That SPD self-diagnosis was a huge relief. I had spent years thinking something was wrong with me because I could hear—and was intensely bothered by—sounds that no one else noticed. I made a lot of people feel bad because I didn't want to be touched or, in certain cases, hugged before I could tell them that there was a real reason. I could go on (trust me, I could go on), but I think you get the point.

I have said, "I could well be on the spectrum myself," more times that I can count. I would toss off that phrase casually, and for a long time that's how it felt. I was fine. I was living my life. I needed to help my kid.

So I did. And I did. And I still do.

But after a while, "I could well be on the spectrum myself," became, "I think I'm on the spectrum," and that casual feeling became less casual and started to feel more like self-knowledge that could help me come to terms with my head space.

I have never been a person who would be comfortable self-diagnosing myself as someone on the spectrum. I respect those who do, but in addition to all the time I spent wondering if I were on the spectrum, I also spent a fair amount of time questioning if I could be. After all, I had adapted so well to the world. People who know me would probably never suggest that I'm on the spectrum. What if I were wrong? I needed something definitive.

Something definitive, however, required saying, "I think I'm on the spectrum," to someone other than myself. I turned to Sharon daVanport of the Autism Women's Network and sent a neurotically long email to her. I will probably save her response forever because it was so very kind and supportive. Her words confirmed what I felt and also gave me a tacit permission to pursue a diagnosis. I will be forever grateful for the time she spent writing back to me.

My next steps meant that I actually had to talk in person to three-dimensional people in my world. After years of casually talking about it, it took me a really long time to be able to get the words out to Alex. I sat on a couch on the opposite side of the living room from him and watched him read on his computer for a long time as I tried to get my mouth to say the words: "Do you think I could really be on the spectrum?"

I didn't tell anyone else. It wasn't something I could say to anyone. I don't know why. I just couldn't. Although to be honest, there are a lot of things that I just don't say to anyone. It's what I do.

I don't know that Alex understood my need for a diagnosis, but he was extremely gracious in accepting that I wanted to spend a fair amount of money to get one. From there, it was a matter of finding someone with the skills and availability to assess me.

I wanted to make sure that I got the right person because I really wanted an answer. I wanted to know if I was on the spectrum, but I also wanted to know if I wasn't. I needed to know if I wasn't, then what was I? Was I like everyone else? Or was there something else going on in my brain?

I was able to find someone after a few weeks and we spent several hours together over two sessions doing the testing. When we met to go over the results, I felt that I already knew most of what she had to say.

I ended up with an Asperger's diagnosis.

I also ended up with diagnoses of dysthymia and anxiety, which will probably surprise no one. Those actually knocked me for way more of a loop than the Asperger's could have. Especially in terms of some things in the report, which I recognize as completely true, but were a little difficult to hear.

For example, I like to look welcoming, but I really have my guard up at all times. Evidently the picture I drew of a house helped her come to this conclusion. I think it might have had something to do with the fact that I drew curtains and a cat in the window, but then I drew what looked like bars over it.

(They were supposed to be window panes, not indicators of my demeanor as a porcupine, which is something Alex has called me for a long time.)

I know that a lot of people I know will be surprised by my Asperger's diagnosis. Even when I tell people about something so common as my social anxiety, people are surprised and say they would never know. I understand this. I have adapted extremely well. I am very good at watching people. I have had nearly 39 years of practice.

I know how to act. And when I don't know how to act, I know how to not act so that people don't know that I don't know how to act. It's a fair amount of work and one of the reasons it is hard for me to be one-on-one with people I don't know well. It is much easier for me to hide in a small group.

I know how I present myself on the outside, but I also know that my inner world is very different. I recently came across this blog post about "hidden Aspies" and saw myself in it. I showed it to Alex and he saw me in it too. Sometimes the inside doesn't match the outside.

I am very grateful to have this new piece of information about myself. I don't consider my diagnosis to be an answer to all my life's problems, nor do I consider it to be a deficit. What I see it as is a new lens to see my behavior through.

I learned that SPD was responsible for me being able to hear that guy playing his stereo six houses down that no one else could hear, and that if I didn't want to have to leave my house completely, I would have to find a way to block it out. That knowledge helped me understand that it was because my brain was wired a certain way and not because I was a mean lady who didn't like anyone else to have fun.

I hope that my Asperger's diagnosis will do the same. I hope that it will let me continue to try to be the person I want to be while being able to adjust my expectations of what I can do. Understanding that my neurology is responsible for some of my difficulties might help me go easy on myself for having them. They are not character defects, they are a result of the way I am wired.

I am not a different person than I was just because I have a diagnosis. But maybe my perception of myself will be. It will be interesting to continue down this new path in my personal journey. As always, I hope you come along.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Untamed Americas, Both the Name of a TV Miniseries and a Description of My Children

I know that by following up my last star-studded post with this one, I am going to look a little bit show-offy. Trust me, I don't have days like last Tuesday often. After my morning with the Disney folks, my kids and I had an invitation to attend the world premiere screening of Untamed Americas, a National Geographic miniseries airing for the first time this weekend.


I have some thoughts about taking three quirky kids to a movie premiere in a minute, but first I want to tell you about this miniseries.

When I was in high school, I took a wildlife biology class because I thought it would be awesome. It turned out to be taught by the wrestling coach and consisted entirely of his showing us nature documentaries, mostly Wild America with Marty Stouffer.

Really, Marty Stouffer taught that class.

The only homework we had was that the night before the test we had to write five multiple choice questions about the type of animal we had "learned" about. The teacher then chose from those questions to make the tests for the following year.

Public education right there, folks.

Anywho, I tell you that to let you know that (a) I've seen a lot of nature documentaries and (b) nature documentaries have come a long way over the course of the past 20 years.

Untamed Americas—at least the part of it shown at the screening—is incredible. It features the kind of camera work that leaves you wondering how they got the footage at the same time that you don't really care, because, oh dear lord, did you see those bighorn sheep head butting each other?

Josh Brolin narrates this super informative and gorgeous series that covers North America, Central America, and South America. The part we saw started with a wolf hunting caribou. It was incredible. There was even footage of a bat that has never been filmed for television before. There is this ONE flower and this ONE kind of bat is its only pollinator.

Nature is kind of amazing.

Sam was completely rapt during the whole screening. He especially loved one particular part that showed the stars as seen from one particular place in Latin America (I don't remember specifically where; I'm so sorry). See, he's been doing a project about astronomy and he's really into the stars. You should have seen that kid's eyes widen when he saw that scene.

Which brings me to my kids. And taking them to a movie premiere.

The screening was held at the Uptown Theater near the National Zoo. There was actually a reception at the zoo following the screening, so we parked at the zoo and walked down to the theater. I figured that would help my kids get some of their crazies out. It also let me stop at the zoo sign and take this picture, something I've been wanting to do for ages.

It works on a lot of levels.

When we arrived at the theater, there was a red carpet and lights and a lot of sort of hip, young DC-type people in their hip, young DC clothes and sporting their hip, young DC attitudes.

We stuck out a little bit.

At least they didn't knock that sign over. It looked for a moment as if they might.

My kids were way into the free popcorn and set to ingesting vast quantities of it while we waited for the movie to start. We chose seats near the back, but there was a wide horizontal aisle right in front of us, which made us extremely visible to people walking up and down the regular aisle, in particular photographers, who were DE-lighted to find a family in attendance to photograph.

Unfortunately, my kids were about as good at smiling for them as they are at smiling for me when I'm behind the camera.

See reference photo above.

There was a lot of chatter and speechifying by some pretty fancy people prior to the screening, something I would have been very interested in under normal circumstances, but my circumstances at the time consisted of trying to keep Jack from bouncing and rocking entirely out of his seat. He was LOSING it. Normally, he's really good about movies, but the unfamiliarity and waiting of this event sent him into overdrive.

Fortunately, soon enough the movie started and his attention was recaptured. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that I had chosen a seat right next to one of those annoying people who won't stop talking throughout the whole movie. Also unfortunately, it was Quinn. He had something to say about EVERYTHING he saw on that screen.

He was fascinated, but he was loud. Jack continued to fidget. Sam only looked away from the screen long enough to snap his fingers at me to demand more popcorn.

The filmmakers after the screening.

We walked back to the zoo for a reception where it soon became clear that we were not fancy enough. I mean, no one gave us the stink eye or anything, but my kids are not the sort of people who eat crab cake canapes off of plates carried around by roving waiters.

We are, however, the kind of people who put on funny hats and let people take our pictures.
Some of Team Stimey was too short for the photo booth.

Oh, and then some more photographers found us. We were even more exciting when half of us were wearing tiger masks.

Jack and Quinn actually posed that time.

We wandered around a little bit more, picked up some ice cream sandwiches, and then I noticed the table full of glasses at kid height and realized that it might be a good idea to bail.

Sugar + glass + fancy people + Team Stimey = Just go. Go now.

Anywho, we had a fun little evening, full of new experiences and my kids got their first movie premiere under their belts. As did I.

Our DVR is set to record all four hours of the Untamed Americas miniseries, which will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel, NatGeo Wild, and NatGeo Mundo on June 10 and 11 (this coming Sunday and Monday) at 9pm ET/PT. It is rated TV-PG for animal violence—namely bloody evidence of the wild food chain, although none of my kids objected to that.

I love watching nature documentaries and I am happy to be able to pss on this love to my children with quality programming such as Untamed Americas.


Disclosure: We attended this event for free but were not asked to nor compensated for writing about it. My opinions are my own. My kids did consume copious amounts of free popcorn and ice cream sandwiches.