Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crazy Hair

Today was Crazy Hair Day at Quinn’s school, which was perfect because, well, Crazy Hair Day was made for Quinn.

Some kids put colors or glitter in their hair. Some shaped their hair into mohawks or wore funny wigs. The principal put her hair in several small ponytails all over her head (which was awesome, but distracting at the meeting I sat in with her today).

But Quinn? Well Quinn just made his hair a little bit EXTRA QUINN and he was good to go.

He looked a little bit Einstein-y, which I approved of.
I will admit to teasing his hair a little bit, but I knew that it would settle into normal crazy. Quinn says that at some point during the day, he made his hair “good” again because he was tired of it being crazy. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference.

I brush that kid’s hair, like, twenty times a day. He is on a strict shampoo/conditioning regimen, but even so, there is something about his hair that rebels. It is fluffy at the same time as it is matted. It is…problematic. The back of his hair looks like this next photo no matter how many times a day I brush it.

I have this photo because Quinn wanted me to take it so he could see the red in the back of his hair. He is very vain, that Quinn.
That red hair is a big part of the reason why his hair is so out of control. If you say the words “haircut” in front of Quinn, he will immediately start screeching and clutch his hair and start yelling about wanting to keep the red.

(Red, Sherry. Red.) <—Sorry. Everyone but old college chum Sherry should ignore that.

See, Quinn has been getting crazy attention for his hair since he was a baby. Like, literally, he was four seconds old the first time someone commented on his hair. Consequently, he seems to think his hair is the source of all his power and refuses to have it cut.

At first I was on board with this, because I like long hair on boys (we all know that long-haired dudes are the coolest, right?), but then it got all Crazy Hair Day Is Every Day on us and I just want to take Sir Screams A Lot to get his hair cut, but now he won’t go.

I mean, really. He got home from school, I brushed his hair neatly to the side, he touched it once, and this is what happened:

It’s shiny at least.
I don’t know if I have anything to add to this long treatise on Quinn’s hair other than HELP!, but I feel like I had to mention it, because it consumes about 38% of my mental energy at all times.

I do have one more thing to say on the subject of hair. I’ve been trying to not mention this, because it makes me seem rilly rilly shallow, but you know what I was really thankful for this Thanksgiving?

My hair. My hair used to be stick straight and then I had kids and it got curly, but weird curly and I’ve wanted to get it straightened for years, but it’s super expensive and I didn’t know if it would work and then a friend of mine found a place in my area that does Japanese hair straightening for less than it generally costs and I went and had it done and I have never been happier in my life.

My hair is like this whole other entity now that makes me so happy. People tell me my hair looks pretty and instead of being all modest and “Oh! Thanks!” I’m like, “I KNOW!! IT’S SUCH GOOD HAIR, ISN’T IT?!”

Life changing, people. Life changing.

This next photo is how my hair looks when I let it air dry. I don’t have to use a hairdryer or a flatiron or anything. I AM HAPPY ALL THE TIME NOW.

That’s my thumb in the left corner being all, “This hair is GREAT, y’all!”
Phew. I feel better. I felt like I was keeping this big secret from you all because I hadn’t mentioned the GREAT NEW THING that had happened to me because it made me look like a narcissist, but it has entirely changed the way I feel about my head. Now I’ve told you about it and it’s done so I don’t have to mention it again. Thank you.


In less shallow, but equally self-obsessed news, I wrote “Do I Have Asperger’s?—Adult Autism Diagnosis” about my Asperger’s diagnosis over at PokitDok. I write about this regularly because I get emails and messages all the time from people looking for diagnoses and when I was looking for how-to information a few months ago, it was really hard to find. Know that if you’ve been thinking you have Asperger’s and want a formal diagnosis, you aren’t alone. And feel free to email me. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dropping the Ball

I was pretty sure that I was going to get up today and go on a 7-mile run and then do some other awesome stuff and catch up on a bunch of things that I am months behind on doing and then I was going to figure out all of my Christmas shopping and then write a super funny post here.

But then I woke up sick, sent everyone to school, crawled back into bed, and slept until it was almost time to get my kids off their buses.

I’m pretty sure I have a man cold.*

So, instead of all that stuff in the first paragraph, here is a link to my newest column over at the Wheaton Patch:

We got Sam an iPod for his birthday last month and he is busy filling it up with crappy pop music, which is breaking my heart. I wrote about it over at White Knuckle Parenting this week.

* Men don’t** like it when you call their colds “man colds.”

** Alex doesn’t

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our Neurodiverse Thanksgiving

Team Stimey had a really nice weekend, full of pie (or, as I like to call it, “pah”), adorable gerbils (or, as Quinn likes to call them, “gerballs”), and a nice visit from my mother-in-law (or, as Alex likes to call her, “Mom”).

It was a nice few days, largely free of barfing or leaving the house, which means it was very nearly ideal.

I’ll be back to posting more regularly in the coming days, but I wanted to tell you one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.

We were all sitting at the table—some of us eating, some of us fidgeting, some of us demolishing pieces of bread, some of us manically drinking wine, when Sam busts out with the following question for my mother-in-law:

“Grandma, do you have autism or ADHD?”

I won’t tell you what she said, but I will tell you that Sam then proceeded to go around the table listing everybody’s disability/label/identification, including one with which he has evidently diagnosed Quinn. He called Alex “the only kinda normal one here,” leading me to explain neurodiversity, and then we went on with our decidedly quirky repast.

Just another Thanksgiving in Stimeyland.

(Also, I have some words to describe Alex—”kinda normal” ain’t among them.)

I hope your weekend was lovely too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for lot of things and I was going to write about them for you today, but then Jack came home with a book of thanks and one of his pages kind of summed it all up and so I decided to let him speak for me and then I could spend time with my family instead of my laptop.


Also, I am thankful for you and the fact that you keep coming back here. I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving! Or Thursday, if you live in not-USA. I love you all! Have a great day from all of Team Stimey!


I promise that this blog won’t turn into Gerbilland, but you’re going to have to bear with me for a second consecutive post about the gerbils. Or, if you’re Quinn writing in your “thankful book” for school, gerballs.


Other things in the book? Cats; our asshole dog; and plants, because they give us oxygen. His mother, WHO GAVE HIM LIFE?—didn’t make the cut.

I forgive him though, because one of the things I like best about gerbils is that I think their name is funny. Geeerrr-bullllllll. Somehow Quinn managed to make their name even better.

In case you were wondering, the gerbils are so awesome. They make me laugh really hard. They were doing a lot of sleeping and being otherwise mundane, but then I put an empty macaroni and cheese box in their tank and OH MY GOD THEY ARE DIFFERENT ANIMALS.

That box woke up the funny in them. They spent all evening yesterday romping around and chewing and they have continued to be amusing today, which is fortunate for them because I have sacrificed ten gallons of my desk space so they can entertain me. It was time for them to step up.

The hay is supposed to help them with their back teeth, but they are just using it to line the inside of their house. I guess that’s okay.
It does concern me that they look like they’re dead when they sleep. It’s because they sleep on their side all flopped over in their house with their tails lolling out the door. I don’t care for that at all. Not to mention that they don’t seem to be afraid of The Hand From The Sky like the mice were, so when I bat at their tails looking for signs of life nothing moves and then I start to panic.

It turns out that they don’t love being violently poked at.

However, when they are groggy because you’ve just woken them up, they will let you hold them and pet them.

Mouse’s maiden voyage in The Hand From The Sky
I’ve been working at getting the gerbils used to my hand before I started grabbing at them and forcing them to love me. Jetpack and I did some cuddling yesterday, but Mouse was having none of it until today.

Even Alex, who was vehemently anti-gerbil until they started being cute in front of him, wanted to cuddle.

Like, five seconds later, Mouse pooped in his hand. He’s anti-gerbil again.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to like Jetpack’s name, but I have taken to saying, “You are Jetpaaaack!” to him when he wanders around the tank. It is surprisingly fun to say. You should try it. I mean, it will probably be less fun without a real Jetpack in front of you, but you can try. Also, you have to use kind of a funny voice, but not too cartoony.

No. You’re doing it wrong. Stop. Just…stop.

You are Jetpaaaack!
 Alex was worried that Mouse might feel left out, but you shouldn’t worry, because I have something I say to him too.

I say, “Hi, Mouse!”
I know. I’m working on coming up with something better.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get gerbils. They make me so happy. I, too, am thankful for the gerballs.


And no, I didn’t put gerballs on my list, which makes mine way obviously inferior, but I also wrote about some things I am thankful for over at White Knuckle Parenting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Meet Mouse and Jetpack—or Jetpack and Mouse; It’s Hard to Tell Them Apart.

Oh, hey! Look at this. I wonder what this could be for.

It’s familiar, but slightly different than before—and also reflecting every screen in the room.
Hmmmmm. Two boxes and a bag of lab blocks. I wonder what’s in those boxes.

I wish there were audio to that photo, so you could hear all the frantic scritching and scratching that was coming from those boxes. Alex, later: “You know you just totally wrecked their world today, right?”
But what could be in there? I’ll tell you what’s NOT in there: the hairless damn rats they were selling for $14.99 each at the pet shop. So, I am a big fan of rodents, but even I am all, “So what’s the point of a hairless rat?” Let me tell you, those are some ugly motherfucking animals.


Well, I’ll show you the book that I took with me, with the page featuring the illustration of genitals dogeared so I wouldn’t accidentally end up with a boy/girl pair.

Incidentally, it’s like that book was written for me. It had chapters on photographing your gerbil and how to force them to participate in crafts, like paper snowflake creation.

Without further ado, meet Mouse (on the left) and Jetpack (on the right).

They’re both off-white, but one is gray off-white and one is brown off-white. If you ever get them mixed up, I will be extremely offended.
Alex was probably right about me wrecking their lives. I think they were a little traumatized by their move from the heavily populated tank at the pet store to the plush, but lonelier digs in Stimeyland. They’re currently huddled together in a house, refusing to come out.

I think you all know why Mouse is named Mouse. I thought it was funny. Actually, Jack independently came up with the name Mouse as well. As did at least one other friend of mine. So, it’s funny, but maybe not super original. Still, that’s his name.

Jetpack, however, was never going to be called Jetpack. Then, after I brought him home, and he and Mouse were frantically running around the tank destroying the neat setup that I had created for them, he climbed up on top of the little running wheel…

…and then did this:

This is maybe the luckiest photo I ever took. I don’t even care that it’s blurry.
And then he did it again.

After that, it was either name him Jetpack or Dipshit, and it’s easier to explain Jetpack to my kids’ teachers when these animals inevitably show up in school essays.

I’m giving the two of them a couple of days to acclimate to their new home before I start cuddling with them. They seem like they’ll be good pets, although I’m a little disappointed by their almost pathological many hours of trauma-sleeping. They should get used to the fact that they are here to entertain me, not sleep.

Rest up, gerbils, it’s getting close to snowflake season.

Welcome to the newest denizens of Stimeyland!

May they live long and prosper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gala Blocked*

I was supposed to go to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network gala tonight. I tend to be a chronic panic canceler, so even though I had a lot of my usual anxiety about attending, I was determined to go.

SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t make it and I’m pretty upset about it.

I knew I was going to be late because I had an appointment that ended at 6 and the gala started at 6. I figured that I would be in DC, parked, and up at the gala by 7 though. I was okay with that. Fashionably late and all that, right?

SPOILER ALERT: Uggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!

I was not in the best mood to start off with because the appointment was with our family therapist and we were talking about some stuff that is not that big of a deal but that was emotional. Then I ran into a tremendous amount of traffic and I got angrier and more frustrated every time the same guy running on the sidewalk passed my car.

Regardless, I was still moving forward and by about 6:50 or so, I started to get confident that I would be at the gala by 7:15 or so. There was a fire engine approaching behind me, so I pulled over to let it pass because I am a good citizen.

It then stopped DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME, disgorged its firefighters, and stopped in the middle of the street. As the minutes passed, I started to consider parking and walking.

SPOILER ALERT: I was still too far away so I tweeted this picture instead to complain about what was keeping me from the gala. Note the parked cars on the right and the iron railing on the left.

SPOILER ALERT TO THE SPOILER ALERT: I wasn’t tweeting while driving. My car was actually in park at the time.

No escape.

You may notice that the GPS in the bottom right claims that I would arrive at 7:08. LIES. It had already told me that I was going to be there at 6:34. The closest I got to the gala location happened at 7:38.

Once the fire engine finally pulled away I tried to keep going to the gala. Normally I would have thrown in the towel, but I knew that I was headed to a kind room, so I keep trying. But then there was more traffic and then I missed a turn, which left me in more traffic, and I was getting closer and closer to a total meltdown, so finally, after the gala was already more than half over and I hadn’t even reached the location, let alone found a place to park, I took a sharp right, set my GPS for home, and bailed.

Basically what I did was take a two and a half hour, incredibly frustrating trip downtown and back without getting out of my car.

I kind of feel that I should have kept going and gone in. I know the good people in the room would have made me feel better, but I just couldn’t.

It was a really draining experience with the lesson that I should not be a good citizen ever again.

All of that is to say that I am really upset that I wasn’t able to go, and not in the mood to write a post (SPOILER ALERT: You actually did write a post, dumbass.) and I’m just going to give you links to other stuff I wrote.

If you’re in the mood for one of my PokitDok articles on autism, go check out After Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis.

If you’re in the mood for a White Knuckle Parenting column, read about my Clothes Conundrum and how my children are ridiculously hard to dress.

If you’re in the same mood as I am, go to bed and come back to check those links in the morning.

 * I’m not sure I used that correctly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Happens in Jamestown Absolutely Doesn’t Stay in Jamestown

Jack and I got back from his hockey tournament in Jamestown, New York, on Sunday. We had an amazing time. Sadly, there was no wi-fi in my room, so I could only check email and try to write posts and stuff when Jack went swimming in the hotel pool with the free lobby-area wi-fi.

I assume that if you are looking at photos of your child in the pool in front of you, that is almost as good as actually looking at your child in the pool in front of you, right?
Fortunately, Jack likes to swim. I’m going to give a conservative estimate of four to five hours spent in that pool over the weekend.

Like this, only with 75 other small hockey players and a whole lot of splashing and some outraged yelling by Jack of, “My eyes! My eyes! I’m telling on you!”
The wi-fi situation was actually quite vexing, what with THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY but no ability to blog about it in the evening when I had time. The silver lining, of course, is that I got a tremendous amount of sleep.

Exciting as my sleep habits are to you, no doubt, let’s be honest, the reason you came here is to hear about hockey. We headed up on the team bus on Thursday afternoon, which was perfect because Jack had a math test that morning and he didn’t have to miss it. He might not agree with my assessment of the situation as “perfect,” however.

Alex was out of town on Thursday as well, which proved troubling, considering everyone comes from different schools on different bus routes at different times. Four separate groups of people stepped up to help us out and make sure that Quinn and Sam were safe and supervised on Thursday and Friday.

Some of those people went really above and beyond, having to babysit far longer than originally planned, due to a babysitter no-show and a late flight. For those of you who helped us out and who read here, I want to make sure you know how thankful we are to each of you for getting my kiddos home safe and then keeping them supervised so that Jack and I could take the bus. You are all part of the THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY. Thank you.

Before the first game.

Jack played four games on Friday and Saturday. He did really well. I am not a big “you have to kick ass at sports!” kind of mom. I’m more of a “good for you, sweetie, for trying your hardest” kind of mom. Regardless, at this tournament I tried to put just a leeeeetle pressure on him to step it up a bit and pretend that he was skating in a hockey game instead of on a leisurely afternoon glide with his pals.

I encouraged (and by “encouraged,” read “bribed”) Jack to follow the puck and to go to the net and otherwise play as if hockey were a team sport. And he did. He managed to get some puck time this tournament and even stopped the puck with his stick—when the puck was moving. That’s real hockey, right there.

He even got to do the very first face-off of the tournament, although I think that had more to do with pushiness on his part than earning the privilege.

He did such a good job. I am so proud of that kid. He played hard for the most part in all of his games with minimal complaining.

Except for, you know, the stretch of time he spent ignoring the game going on behind him to inspect the game clock.
I am always blown away by my kid at these things. He is a total rock star. And you know what? Every single other kid that went to that tournament is too. It is phenomenal to see them rise to the challenge and energy of tournament play. Each of those players went out there and skated at the top of his (or her) current ability. At the risk of sounding like a total dork, it was really, really neat to watch.

And not for nothing, watching those same teammates play together in the swimming pool? I think that is pretty amazing too. The togetherness of the team and they way these kids get to know each other is almost as good as the hockey at the tournament. You remember…your baby is my baby.

Friday nights festivities were awesome, what with a pizza (and beer, oh thank the good lord, someone brought beer) party at the hotel. It was even the birthday of one of the players so there was cake. Also there were announcements, preceded by pre-announcements.

But beer and pizza and cake weren’t the end of it, no sir. The whole team had tickets to go see the local team, the Jamestown Ironmen, play an actual real game of hockey. And guess who was there?
The Ironman.

He’s a little creepy, but that’s okay.

Jack and I left after two periods, but by all reports, this was a great game with a great overtime finish, in which the Ironmen skated to victory. It was, however, a little bit jarring to go from THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY to the IMMA KILL YOU OF SMALL TOWN HOCKEY, also known as THE MAGIC OF FISTICUFFS.

There was a lot of brawling. In my head, I was like, “Man, these teams must really hate each other.” But then in the other part of my head, I was all, “Or maybe it’s for show, like in wrestling.” I still am not sure where I come down on this issue.

Naturally, the children loved the fistfighting.

I was curious about whether our players would start swinging fists the next day themselves. They did not.

After two periods, Jack’s ability to hang out at the rink was waning, so we took off, but not before we found the slushee machine. We watched it for a fairly good amount of time.

There was a perfectly good hockey game going on behind him, but *this* is what held his attention.
Jack was pretty tired on Saturday morning, considering we woke up at 6:50 am and were at the rink at 7:15 for a 7:45 game. He was complaining that he’d strained his back (during his strenuous sleep activity, evidently), and he was pretty grumpy. During the game, he actually attempted to leave the ice at one point, but was encouraged to stick it out and he did. Hooray for everyone involved in that. You know who you are.

(If you’re wondering, his back was fine in very short order. I think he just had to warm up his muscles.)

Jack was actually very much a hero on Saturday, playing two games and fitting in two long swim sessions—as well as a solid chunk of iPad playing time.

The coach tried to convince him to be captain for either one of the two Saturday games, but Jack was having none of it. This was him at the morning game:

Jack’s attitude was all, “That sounds a lot like work that requires me to be upright and happy and I’m not willing to be either of those things.”

The great thing about Jack these days though, is that he managed to pull it together.

See? Upright! Just like the hockey sticks!

And happy too! Just like the hockey sticks!

After the last game, I updated Facebook to make a general statement about Jack’s awesomeness.

And by the time I showed it to him the next day, 42 of you had liked it.
The team went out to dinner on Saturday night (that Applebee’s will never be the same) and the word that kept coming to me in terms of the Cheetahs was “safe.” I’m pretty sure I’ve used this word before to describe the Cheetahs community, but that’s because it is so apt.

The Cheetahs create a space where these players can be safe, physically and emotionally, and their parents can be as well. Whether it is at a practice or a tournament or in the friendships between players or the friendships between the parents, this team is truly a magical, safe place.

Jack and I are very lucky to have the Cheetahs and we are very lucky to be able to go on tournaments. But we don’t do it by ourselves. We have the help of the team leadership and coaches. We have the help of the other players and their parents. We have the help of the parent volunteers who plan out every detail of the complicated puzzle of tournament trips. We have the help of the Cheetah mentors who come to practice each week to make sure our kids learn hockey skills.

We have the help of Alex, Quinn, and Sam, who are willing to let us disappear for days at a time. We have the help of friends, neighbors, and babysitters who watched Sam and Quinn so we could go. We have the help of Jack’s teacher, who was excited to hear about his trip. We have the help of every single one of you who donated to the Cheetah-thon last year.

And we have the help of you. Yes, YOU. Don’t look behind you, I’m talking to YOU. I feel your support here all the damn time, but I feel it especially strongly when it comes to the Cheetahs. Your support of Jack and his team feels visceral to me. We are never alone when he is on the ice because you are always there with us.

YOU are part of the magic of special hockey—and that isn’t any small thing. Your support fills my whole heart.

So thank you. From all of us.

Thank you for being a part of THE MAGIC OF SPECIAL HOCKEY! We are both happy AND upright!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lucky You, We Have a Fall Hockey Tournament This Year Too!

Jack and I are bailing town this weekend. In addition to a travel hockey tournament we’re planning to attend next spring, the Cheetahs are taking part in a hockey tournament this weekend as well. It is in Jamestown, New York, which is the same place as last spring’s EX-TRAH-VA-GANZAAAA, so we’ll know what to expect at least.

However, it turns out that I have forgotten to plan/pack/notify Jack’s teachers/think about this tournament at all until, well, until just right now, so I don’t have time to write about how excited I am. Instead, I have to go charge all 75 devices I’m taking with me. And maybe locate some clean clothes we can wear en route.

No worries.

Until then, enjoy this video from last year’s Jamestown tourney. If you look closely, you’ll see Jack on the ice and you’ll also see me behind my camera, which is where I usually am at these things.

CHEETAHS GO TO JAMESTOWN! from Karen Whitehead on Vimeo.

My friend, fellow Cheetah mom and independent filmmaker, Karen Whitehead made that video. She also just finished a documentary about rock photographer Jini Dellaccio. Go check out her film’s site and like its Facebook page so you can keep updated on this great project.

I’m sure I’ll be babbling all over the interwebz about the tournament this weekend, so stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Please Vote Today

Check out White Knuckle Parenting where I wrote about raising purple kids. Also, you should know that Alex and I won’t be speaking for the next several days regardless of who wins the election. It’s gone get ugly round here, people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Wanna Be a Millionaire

Quinn loves money. I mean, who doesn’t, right? But Quinn REALLY loves money. I got my kids McDonald’s for dinner tonight and the Monopoly game that is currently running there captivated the Q-ball. He spent some time listing the things he’d buy if he won a million dollars…

…a kitten named Icicle.

…a hospital bed-like mattress that goes up and down (we were passing the mattress store).

…a house.

…he would just carry it around in the bag that the cheeseburgers were supposed to come in.

Then this happened:

Quinn: “What would you do with a million dollars, Jack?”

Jack: “Be a millionaire.”

Good thinking, Mr. Literal.

(He then followed up with, “I’d also be a playboy.” I think he’s been watching too much Ironman.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween and PokitDok

I had been dreading October 31 for weeks because I was sure I was going to have to figure out how to be at three different schools in three different areas of town all at the same time for Halloween parties. Someone was going to end up disappointed and someone was going to end up being yelled at and we were all going to end up crying.

Then I remembered (actually, Sam told me) that Sam’s class doesn’t have a party. They had a read-a-thon in their class today with snacks and an hour and a half of reading time. I love his nerd class.

Sam was fine with no Halloween party. His party is the post-trick-or-treating candy binge.
Jack also didn’t have a Halloween party. Instead, his school does a Fall Festival, which happened today. It was kinda super awesome. The kids make their costumes at school and each class has a theme. Like, a bunch of the kindergarteners were rainbow fish and there were Arthurs and Angelina ballerinas and all kinds of other stuff. Because the school has a French immersion program, some of the kids had signs explaining their costumes in French, so I didn’t know what they were.

Jack’s class had each chosen a hero and created a sandwich board with a picture of their person on the front and some character traits of the person on the back. Frankly, it was one of my favorite things I have seen Jack do at school.

If you’ve been following Stimeyland for a while, you might be able to guess who Jack chose as his hero. Jack has been obsessed with this guy for a LONG time—Martin Luther King, Jr. Jack’s drawing was amazing. He is kind of clicking over from “let’s just get this project done!” to “let’s do this project well,” which I like seeing.

Best ever, right? RIGHT?!
The kids did a little parade and then had a party in one of the mainstream classrooms, which was both good and bad, but I’m reserving public judgment on that situation for a while. Here is Jack during the parade:

It was an awesome parade.
Quinn turned out to be the only one with a Halloween party, which was awesome. Schools refusing to have fun anymore really worked out in my favor this time. Quinn was nervous about the costume parade, so we skipped that then rejoined the class for his party. He ended up having a really good time. I was really proud of him for working so hard to overcome his fears.

I’m not going to lie though—the promise of frosted cookies helped.

Quinn might be destined for the nerd class.

All in all, a pretty decent (but short) school week.


I have started writing over at PokitDok, a great site full of health information. I’ll be writing about autism every couple of weeks and will be sure to let you know when my posts go up. You are welcome to join the site over there or follow PokitDok on Twitter or Facebook.

This week I tried to answer the question, What Is Autism? I hope you check it out!

Also, just in case you’re like me and are imagining polka dots when you see PokitDok, you should maybe realize that PokitDok is probably supposed to be pronounced “pocket doc.” Thanks, Jim, for pointing that out to me. My brain even went so far as to imagine polka dots on the website, of which there are NONE. Well done, brain.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Make a Life Size Two-Dimensional Beaver*

* See also: Keep your perverted comments to yourselves.

Jack’s class is studying the Chesapeake Bay and has been working on a research project about flora and fauna native to the region. Jack was supposed to choose something to study and he came home a few weeks ago demanding to study the mosquito fish.

I have no idea why.

Sadly, the mosquito fish does not seem to live in the Chesapeake, so we perused a Chesapeake Bay website to find a new topic. The fact that the website was arranged in alphabetical order and that Jack chose to research the beaver are surely unrelated.

It turned out to be a good choice, however, because the beaver is a pretty fun animal to find out stuff about. Also, there are many tasteless jokes to make.

Anywho, the final project was to make a life size, two-dimensional representation of the animal. (Me, in my head: “Huh. Would have been a lot easier to make a fish.”)

Jack and I are a little bit mad about the grade he got on some science posters he worked on at school, so we were determined to make the most kick-ass beaver ever. Because we are sharers, I thought we could let you know how to create a kick-ass beaver as well.


How to Make a Kick-Ass, Life Size, Two-Dimensional Beaver!

Step one: Acquire materials. Jack and I both wanted to cut up the beaver fur hat that Alex had bought when we lived in Alaska, but Alex had some sort of weird objection to that. Never mind that I had objections to him buying it in the first place.

This left us to come up with an alternative material. We decided on felt and I told Jack that I would go buy it at the local craft store while he was at school. The local craft store, incidentally, is almost exactly 5 kilometers away from my house. Ask me how I know.

I decided to combine my errand running with my daily run, which was a great idea, but for the fact that once I ran three miles and wandered around the craft store for a while (The cashier: “You look like you’ve been working out.” Me, sweaty, disheveled, and smelly: “Um. Yeah.”), I had to run three miles back home, THIS TIME WEIGHED DOWN WITH TWELVE SHEETS OF FELT—AND GOOGLY EYES. What I do for Jack.

Step two: Name your beaver. (Jeez. Every time I use that word, it sounds so diiiiirty.) Jack was prepared with a name for the beaver he was about to create: Justin. Justin Beaver. Get it? I don’t know how Jack gets it; we have a strict No Bieber rule in my house, but evidently someone has gotten to him.

Step three: Find a model and create a sketch. Hooray for Google Images. We found a beaver to model Justin Beaver on and Jack set about to drawing.

I know the model isn’t too realistic, but it has four legs and a tail, so close enough.
Step four: Try to convince someone else to do the work on every step. Before every single step, Jack would say, “Can you do it? I’m not very good at…drawing/cutting/gluing/hanging out with you while you construct my beaver.”

Nice try, Jack. You can do all of those things.

Step five: Cut out the beaver template.

See? See Jack cut.

I’m actually very proud of Jack. There was a lot of fine motor work involved here. I helped him with some of it, but he did a fantastic job and did most of it himself. For a kid who has a hard time getting through ordinary homework on a regular night, doing all this intensive work—and being motivated to do a good job—well, I am just so damn proud of him.

Step six: Be awesome. When you’re Jack, you’re required to take an Awesomeness Break now and again.

This step is pretty easy for Jack.

Step seven: Transfer the template shape to the felt, cut it out, and glue it to the template. I took photos of all of this, but then I realized that they were all photos of Jack manipulating brown felt and I thought that each photo was adorable and very different from the next, but then realized that they might all just look the same for you. So Step Seven will be represented by The Cutting of the Felt.

The Cutting of the Felt
The beaver by the way? Has a two-sheets-of-felt body.

Step eight: Take a break to figure out how electricity works. Quinn had spent this whole time playing with his jack-o-lantern as if it were his newest teddy bear. That kid is funny. Somehow Jack ended up with one of the little electric candles and spent some time figuring out how it worked.

After he started disassembling it, I thought about stopping him, but figured that the shock from such a tiny voltage was unlikely to be fatal, so I let him continue.
Step nine: Choose an eye from the pack of many sized googly eyes. This was more complicated than it might seem at first glance. I had to spend a fair amount of time trying to convince Jack that he had created a side view of a beaver, which only required one eye. Jack spent a fair amount of time trying to convince me that he should put two different sized eyes on the beaver to make him look more like Perry the Platypus.

Step ten: Glue the ear onto the beaver, then, when your mom steps away to find materials for beaver whiskers, have a “glue incident.” I swear to God, that is what he called it.

He wasn’t even gluing anything at the time. I have no idea how this happened.

Fortunately, it is easy to clean glue off of a beaver.

Step eleven: Write your name on the back, but not before you add the speech bubble you wanted to glue on the front, but that your mom made you put on the back.

That kid is irrepressible.
I admire Jack for his integrity in sticking to his vision.

Step twelve: Pose with  your finished beaver in a totally realistic manner. Turns out that the beaver is kind of a jerk and just wanted to paddle Jack in the face with his tail. Not very nice after Jack created him and all.

I have to say, I think Justin Beaver turned out nicely.
Step thirteen: Enjoy special after-school video games because you worked so hard on your beaver.

I know you’re going to ask. It is called Roblox. I have no idea what it is.

Step fourteen (This step is for the mom): Send in the beaver with your kid and hope that you didn’t grossly misinterpret the assignment because, oh, dear God, that boy worked so hard on that beaver that he really deserves a great grade. Cross your fingers for us.

That’s right. I have the best beaver.
That’s what she said. (God, I’m so sorry. I held out until the very last. I am so very sorry.)