Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Have Several Things To Tell You…

1. You guys are great. Thank you.

2. Here’s something. So. You all know that I’ve been running (because I won’t shut up about it). Today I went for a run right after lunch in weather that was unexpectedly much warmer than I expected it to be while I was wearing too many clothes.

Anywho, long story short, I was less than a mile and a half into my run when I decided to give in and turn the run into a walk. That is not the problem.

You may know that I am a slow runner and that I am working on bringing my speed up. My medium-term speed goal is a 12 minute mile. So I was delighted that my speed on that 1.43 miles was an average of a 12:06 minute mile.

Then I walked the rest of the way home at a 13:53 minute mile pace. This is also not the problem. The problem is that I look at my distance log and this is what I see:

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Side note: I know it’s not really *that* much, but I’m going to have more than 50 miles this month! Yay!
If you look at the 23rd and 24th, when I ran slightly longer distances not on the treadmill (on which I do intervals, so a slower average), my pace was more than a 14 minute mile.

WHY DO I WALK FASTER THAN I RUN?

Should I just walk? I know I slow down when I get more tired after a few miles, but COME ON. How slow must I be running those later miles if my average is 14+ minute miles? What is happening?

I mean, I KNOW what is happening is that I keep trying and the longer I run, the faster I will get, but I don’t understand.

I just had to get that off of my chest.

3. I am SO excited about this next thing. I am a new contributing writer over at Autism Women’s Network and my first post went up Tuesday. How cool is that?

I wrote about my autism diagnosis and how I feel like Jack gave me a tremendous gift by helping me see myself in a clearer light. Please go check out my article over there: The Gift of Self-Knowledge.

4. My mom has been in town visiting and is actually leaving Wednesday, much to the chagrin of my children. I wrote about how her visits help me out over at White Knuckle Parenting: When Nana Comes to Town.

5. I would like to reiterate that you all are awesome.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Safe

I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed lately. I’m not sure why, but things have been pressing down on me and it’s been tough to get stuff done and operate at a hundred percent.

I don’t know that I’ve been exceptionally busy or had an exceptional number of demands on me, but things have felt exhausting.

A few weeks ago I started seeing a new therapist. My first session was at 7pm on a night that I had been busy all day. I had driven in and out of DC. I hadn’t been alone all day long. I’d rushed from one place to another. I’d been through an emotional therapy session earlier that afternoon with the family therapist that my kids see. It wasn’t a bad day, but I hadn’t had any down time.

By the time I headed out for the appointment, I was wrecked. Not five minutes into the session, the therapist said something about his office being a safe place and I burst into tears.

Even less than a year ago, I would have called myself an idiot and then felt stupid for crying the first time I met this guy. That particular night, I was able to recognize why I started bawling. First of all, I’m kind of an idiot. That’s okay. But mostly I realized that my day had just been too much and I had been pushed past my limit. And when he said I was safe? That means a lot to me.

When people ask me what my autism diagnosis does for me, this is one of them: It gives me the self-knowledge to understand why I react to things the way I do and it allows me to go easy on myself for those reactions. If I were smarter, my diagnosis would probably make me realize I should schedule my days so I don’t end up in meltdown mode at 7 pm.

It has also made me think about what I consider to be safe—and how much I value those things. When I talk here about safety, I’m not referring so much to physical safety, but mental safety. Safe means a place I can be myself. Safe means a place where I can make a mistake and it’s okay. Safe means a place where I don’t have to be ON. Safe means a place where I don’t have to hide parts of myself. Safe is where there are no unexpected, unreasonable attacks—interpersonal, sensory, what have you.

Hopefully safe places stay safe. There is nothing worse than a safe place that suddenly becomes unsafe.

Safe can be a person; safe can be a place; safe can be a situation or a moment. Unsafe can also be a person, place, or situation; unsafe can be an email account that gets unkind messages; unsafe can be a ringing telephone, or an event where I don’t know what to expect, even with friendly people in attendance.

There are people I absolutely love, but who aren’t safe. There are also people that I feel safe around that I am not particularly close to.

Unsafe places are not necessarily to be avoided. They just require a lot more effort on my part. Sometimes unsafe places are to be avoided and that is when they edge into where those unexpected, unreasonable attacks appear.

There can be safe places online as well. This blog has been such an amazing safe place for me and I want to thank all of you for that. I am constantly amazed by how supportive you are, and I appreciate that so much. Even when people have disagreed with me, this space has never become unsafe. I think that’s awesome.

I wrote a lot of this post a long time ago, after that evening with the therapist, but I didn’t publish it because it felt too…well, too unsafe. I decided to put it into the world after a space that wasn’t safe exactly, but was at least neutral, become decidedly unsafe. It’s nothing I won’t get over. I’ll build another wall and put up more defenses and I will be more cautious in trusting that type of space again.

I spend a lot of time worrying about doing and saying the right thing. Frankly, even admitting that I worry about that seems like the wrong thing to say. (I think the right thing is supposed to be, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.”) I rehearse things I am considering saying or writing before I utter them and I run over conversations in my head after I have them. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

It’s okay though because I am lucky to have several enduring safe spaces in my life, including some stellar friends and my home, which is almost always entirely safe. I think my safe people know who they are and how much I appreciate them. That’s why I’m publishing this post now. For those people—and for you. I want you to know that I appreciate you too—that you have given me this place that we share. Thank you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yes, You’re in the Right Place

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You may notice that things are a little awry here. The pontificating gerbil is missing. My sidebars aren’t fixed up. Colors are weird.

See, I managed to finally install a custom theme for my blog here and I can tell I am going to be really happy with it, but I have to do some learning first about how to use it before I can, you know, actually use it.

So, if you will, please bear with me and if you see something that seems really terrible, let me know and I’ll make an attempt to fix it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going back to the tutorial videos I’ve been poring over all evening.

Update: The gerbil is back! I am awesome! Thesis theme, you are my bitch! Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of that godsdamned generic text box in the upper right.

Update the Second: I did it! I got rid of the useless text box! I am a HERO. That’s right, a HERO.

Update the Third: It’s almost 1 am. It’s possible I’m a little punchy. I think I’ll go to bed and try to further destroy my blog design tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Project Stimey, Phase Ugh

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Are you curious to know how Project Stimey is going? Well. Considering I was running uphill and face first into icy wind this morning through fresh snow on the ground of a crispy 24-degree morning, I would say that it is going.

Because I hadn’t run a whole lot at the end of last year, I made an effort to get back on the roads over the past few weeks. That was Phase One.

I have to say that it has been working. I put up a stupid little distance log in my Project Stimey section and if it weren’t for the peer pressure of that obnoxious little table (not that anyone really looks at it), I would have been sitting on my ass this morning—and lots of other mornings. Not to mention that the fact that I put my pace there motivates me to try to run faster.

If you do look at the pace, keep in mind that I didn’t run for several weeks, I might have been running uphill on a slow run, and it is extremely possible that I might have been running into an icy wind. Also, I’m chubby.

I’ll get faster.

The other day I was running past this car dealership that is on one of my routes and a salesman shouted after me as I ran by, “I admire your dedication! I see you out here every day!”

It made me run faster. You never know where your inspiration is going to come from.

I am back at a place where it is status quo for me to run almost every day. I’m edging back into longer runs and I’m trying to run faster on my shorter runs and I feel really good about it all. I just wish it weren’t freezing out there. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Now that I’m solidly back into running (Phase one? Check!), it is time to move into Phase Two: Food Tracking.

Also known as Phase Ugh: so much wooooooork.

Phase Two, however, is better than Phase Three, which is all about elimination of caffeine. Also known as Phase Snore: so much headaaaaache.

In sum, I am still plugging along. And next time you see a pudgy runner, give her a thumbs up. It might just mean a lot to her.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Presidential Inauguration: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Going to the presidential inauguration on Monday was a profoundly meaningful experience and I am so glad that I was able to go with Jess and experience history like that with her. That said, it also reminded me why I don’t venture downtown for these clusterfuck of epic proportion events very often. (Read: never.)

Fortunately, when you’re in good company and you have given yourself a little self-talk ahead of time to prepare yourself for being physically stressed out all day, you can handle almost anything. So, without further ado, Stimey’s (and Jess’ (and Algernon’s)) Trip to DC in Fun Little Bullet Points!

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• The inauguration itself was a really amazing experience. It was very meaningful to me to stand on the mall and watch a man I have great respect for be sworn in for a second term. His words about equality and rights felt important. They ARE important. I was proud of our government on Monday. That is not something that I feel very often. It felt good to feel that. It felt good to be in a crowd that felt that way too. I will hold the experience of standing in that crowd for a long time. I am so grateful to have been able to go.

• Also, Beyonce is, like, STUPID BEAUTIFUL OMG.

• Side note: who cares if she sang live or not? I mean, it’s kinda lame, but whatever. In terms of things I cared about at that event, that is very far down on the list. Decent weather, a clear line of sight, and everyone’s safety was waaaay higher up. Plus, it was cold and none of us wanted Ms. B to strain a vocal cord. C’mon now.

• The message of human rights and equality that was sounded again and again at this event? The fact that so many speakers, including the man who gave the closing prayer, talked about gay rights? The fact that the disability rights movement is thiiiiiis close to being on the national agenda? That’s why I voted for Barack Obama twice. I hope that he—we—can make some progress over the next four years.

• It’s good that the inauguration was so powerful and that Jess and Algernon were so fun to be with because oh jeez, the crowds and the hurry up and wait and the THIS IS MY WORST DAMN NIGHTMARE.

• Actually though, the crowds were kind of phenomenal. If there were a crowd to be stuck in, this was the one. Considering how many people were in attendance and how difficult it was to get ANYWHERE after the event, this crowd was cheerful, funny, and supportive. There were a few bad apples, but for the most part people were a joyful, non-pushy, we’re-all-in-it-together-so-we-might-as-well-laugh-about-the-whole-thing kind of group. Considering that being shoved up against hundreds of other people with no escape is kind of the worst thing I can imagine, well, I appreciated that.

• We became overconfident early on when we weren’t faced with the crowds that we were expecting on the Metro. This might be because everyone who is smarter than us was already on the Mall by the time we left our houses. Our day started Stimey Early, which is not the same as Everyone Else in the World Early. Jess and I headed out to DC on the Metro at 9, which we thought was plenty of time to get us there for the 11:30 start time. The whole way there on our deserted Metro train, we were like, “What were all those morons talking about? Crowded trains? Lines? This is a piece of cake!”

• We continued to think this until we arrived at the mass of humanity standing between us and our entrance gate.

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BUT DON’T THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE?!?! I MEAN, WHO JESS IS?!?!
• They didn’t know who we were.

• But! We were smart enough to listen to the rumors that started trickling down that said that orange ticket holders were being let in through the blue gate and, frankly, we weren’t getting anywhere where we were standing, so we headed down there. By the time we got there, they were letting lots of ticket colors in. Hooray for us, because the blue ticket section was in front of the orange ticket section.

• Security was easy and I didn’t even get stopped, which is actually kind of a big deal because I ALWAYS get stopped. We followed the crowd onto the Mall right up until it stopped moving (Don’t let that wall stop you, crowd! Up and over!)—and here is where it sometimes comes in handy to be woefully unprepared and late because we ended up in a spot that was probably a lot better than we were supposed to have.

• See?

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You see the president up there, right?
• Our timing couldn’t have been better. We arrived just as the ceremonies started. Bumbling ineptitude FTW!

• We were situated where we could see both the (tiny) people on the stage and the (huge) Jumbtron people on the stage. Here is the Jumbotron version of the president being sworn in:

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Aaaaand here is our view:

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• We were close enough that we could actually see the president when he spoke. Well, we could have if the teleprompter screen weren’t directly in front of his face. I was pretty sure that I was going to have to draw his face on the screen for you all, but he leaned forward often enough that I was able to get a photo.

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I have, like, 25 photos of that man’s body with his face hidden by the screen.
• Because Algernon is close personal friends with Mrs. Obama, I felt it was important to get a photograph of him with her husband.

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I got a couple of strange looks for taking this photo, but I am nothing if not committed to the joke.
• Because we got there just as the ceremonies started, Jess and I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of ourselves together. Fortunately there was a poet, so we had some time to take a break and turn our backs. (I’m sorry. I have problems with poetry.)

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I posted this on Facebook and someone said we had nice teeth. It cracked me up. There ARE a lot of teeth in this photo, aren’t there?
• Then, Jess and I discovered the real reason these events are nightmares. It’s not that everyone comes into town over the course of several hours in the morning. It is that those people then all want to leave town in the same hour in the afternoon. We managed to eventually maneuver our way our of our immediate standing area, but it took a while.

• Here’s something else about inauguration day. There is a parade. That parade will require the blockage of one of the streets adjacent to the Mall. When you reach that street and are all, “Why is this ridiculous street blocked off?” you will feel stupid when you realize that just because YOU don’t care about the parade, all the people lining the sidewalks do and you are a moron for not being aware of its existence.

• Seeing as how I was the person who lives in the area, I tried to take the lead a little bit and somehow managed to lead us almost directly back to where we had been standing during the ceremony. I was ready to sit down and just never get back up again, but Jess hadn’t eaten anything yet that day, so she was motivated to get the hell off the Mall.

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I like that on the chair she is as tall as the guy behind her.
• Also, oh-em-gee, isn’t she just the most adorable? Jess has a magnetic quality. We were walking down the street on our way to the inauguration and a vendor looked at her, did a double take, and said, “You are gorgeous!” I think it has to do with the fabulous teeth.
• I have never felt as not smart as I did trying to navigate that sea of people and inexplicable barriers that the Capitol police had erected and The People were attempting to trample down. We would find a hole and get through it (along with all the other masses) and begin shouting about FREEDOM OH THANK THE LORD SWEET FREEDOM, only to be confronted by another bottleneck of people. It was turrible.

• It was also a little sad to see all of the trash that people left behind. Why, people? Why?

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We took this photo when we thought we had finally escaped. We were so stupid.
• I have vivid memories, nay, nightmares, of the next 45 minutes or so of streets packed with people and that ambulance that forced its way through the streets packed with people and then the joy of finally, truly achieving freedom only to not be able to find food on the stupid wrong side of the Mall and the wandering, wandering, wandering…
• Then…in the distance…spotted by an eagle-eyed Jess…a Potbelly’s sandwich shop just off of the beaten path. The place was packed, but not packed like the other places we’d seen—and once we realized that we were standing in the long line for the bathroom and were able to move to the substantially shorter line for food, we were very happy.

• By the time we went into the Metro station, Jess off to hang out with Ari Ne’eman and me to find my car where I’d abandoned it in Virginia, we were able to handle the sight of yet another mass of humanity trying to get down the escalators into the Metro station at L’Enfant Plaza.

• I am so happy to have been able to attend an inauguration. It’s not something I ever imagined myself doing. To attend the inauguration of this president on this day? So tremendous. Thank you, Jess. It was a wonderful experience. I hope you come back to DC someday and we will do something that will probably be less moving, but also less arduous.

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*****

Naturally, Jess wrote something far more lyrical than I did. Read her post about the day and then imagine me raising my hand and saying, “Yeah. That.”

*****

I also wrote more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he means to my family over at White Knuckle Parenting. Monday was a good day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Proud

I’ve been pretty excited about January 21st for a long time. My family always celebrates MLK Day with a big todo and when it fell on the same day as President Obama’s inauguration? Well, I was ready to celebrate.

We were going to watch the inauguration on TV and then MLK’s I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and then we were going to have cake and it was going to be great.

Things changed though, when Jess from Diary of a Mom, who does so much fantastic advocacy work, ended up with an extra ticket to the inauguration, and I jumped on her coattails and rode them all the way to DC.

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Algernon rode her coattails too.
I have a lot to say about our amazing day in (and eventual escape from) DC, but you know what is exhausting? Inauguration Day. Or more specifically, getting away from Inauguration Day. I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Before I go to bed though, I will let you know that after I got home, we very happily watched Dr. King’s speech, complete with lively commentary from my three kiddos.

Then we sang happy birthday to Martin and had our cake, which was delightful.

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Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.
In sum, today is a day that I was proud to be an American and proud of the leaders and heroes we get to learn from. It was exciting to be able to listen to the president and his terrific speech that was so much about equality and fair chances and then come home to kids who are so very interested in figuring that whole thing out for themselves.

So, not just proud to be an American, but proud to be a parent of such great little kids. (And proud to be a friend to the wonderful Jess. Thank you so much for taking me with you. You are a blast and a half to hang out with.)

Happy Inauguration Day, America. And Happy Birthday, Martin!

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Not To Fix a Blog

Can we all discuss me and one of my character flaws for a minute?

If, at this point, you have started compiling a long mental list and are trying to figure out which one of those character flaws I am finally going to meet head on, well, you can go to hell. If you can’t come up with a character flaw at all, well, welcome to Stimeyland; this must be your first time here.

The character flaw we are going to discuss today is my tendency to be an overconfident moron and jump in feet first to do things that I have no idea how to do. Eventually I fuck things up SO badly that I have to learn how to do it in my own little haphazard Stimey way and then I know how to do just that exact thing, but it gives me the confidence to jump feet first into the next thing, which I eventually fuck up terribly.

Repeat.

The newest example of me doing this began in September when I freaked out one day and decided to change all my blog service providers and then migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress all in one weekend all by myself. I was all, “How hard could it be? They have procedures all set up and buttons to click to make this happen. I can totally do it.”

Here is what I remember from that whole procedure: I entered my credit card number at a few places, clicked some of those buttons, felt okay about things for a while, started to panic, did some yelling at Alex to “fixitfixitfixitFIXITFIXITFIIIIIIIXXXXIIIIIIIITTTTT!, calmed down, asked everyone I knew for advice, figured out how to fix it, panicked some more, calmed down, and eventually got everything put in enough of an order that people could read my blog again.

I was going to write a post back then about How to Migrate Your Blog From Blogger to WordPress With No Experience and Even Fewer Smarts, but I didn’t get around to it right away and think I blocked the whole thing out because I only have vague memories of what happened and when I looked back through the screenshots I took during that arduous time, this is all I found:

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Oh how I hate that sad, disintegrating robot.
I managed, however, to bring my blog to a readable form and even though it isn’t how I want it yet and I have a WHOLE LIST of things I have to do to make it the way I want it, I refuse to hire a designer because I am (a) cheap and (b) irrationally certain I can do this myself.

My next step is to find the right theme for my blog. I currently am using a free one. I am ready to move into a paid theme and maybe a child theme or a skin or whatever terrible Silence of the Lamb-y thing they call it. To do this, you should pay money to a designer, then they will click “install,” and everything is happy and you get to go on your merry, well designed way.

OR.

Or, you pay money to a designer, click “install,” and then lose ALL access to your blog, dashboard panel, and everything. That is how I do things. I didn’t even know which entity that had my credit card number that I should panic to. (Answer: your host—you panic to your host. Then, after your host tells you that they can’t figure out the problem and the “higher-level tech” they checked with can’t figure out the problem and they tell you that they’ll have to email you with the solution later, you panic to your friends.)

I did that last weekend.

Well, what I did was spend a whole day to make my blog even worse than it was before. But at least I eliminated one option of a theme that COMPLETELY didn’t work for me. I know because the exact same thing happened to me twice, even after I followed specific instructions on how to not let the same thing happen a second time. I did learn that the good people behind Genesis are really fast with their customer service. If I had managed to install their theme, I think I would have been very happy with them.

I’m thinking of trying Thesis next, but I am interested in crowd sourcing this as well. Thoughts? Also, I know now that I should disable all my plugins before I install a theme, but I wonder if there are other “everyone knows you’re supposed to do that” things I should do before I click “install” on my next choice.

Seriously, people, I’m desperate. What is something easy to tinker with but awesome and highly customizable? Maybe thoughts on some must-have plugins? Also, I know html, but I don’t know CSS. AND, if you say, “Hire a designer,” you kill a puppy.

NetZero Mobile Wifi is Wifonderful!

I don’t do a lot of reviews here at Stimeyland anymore, but every once in a while something comes along that fits into my Criteria for Reviews. Those criteria are (1) the thing is Nintendo based, because Nintendo!, (2) the thing will result in Stimey making an ass of herself in public, creating fodder for an excellent post, or (3) that rarest of things—something that I really need, like actually need.

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This review falls into the last category. NetZero contacted me a while ago about reviewing their 4G Mobile Broadband hotspot. The hotspot is basically mobile wifi that you carry with you. I was intrigued by this because I have a little bit of an internet addiction and while I usually don’t, you know, NEED wifi when I’m out and about, sometimes it is really handy to have. And, yes, sometimes I actually do need it.

So here’s the thing. The NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband Hotspot is awesome. I am a big fan. I am very happy with the hotspot and it is likely that I will continue to pay for service after my review service contract runs out. That is saying something. There are lots of things that I like and say are great because they are but that I might not spend my own money on. This I would.

So: Yes to NetZero, BUT there are some things I should tell you.

YAY! The hotspot can supply up to 8 devices with wifi at one time. NetZero also offers a stick hotspot that you can put in your laptop, but it just works on the one device. This thing I just put in my bag (it’s a couple of inches square and less than an inch thick) and it runs my iPad, iPhone, laptop, Alex’s laptop, Alex’s iPhone… Seriously, it’s awesome. We don’t have enough portable devices to max this thing out—and we have a lot of portable devices.

BOO! My hotspot didn’t work right out of the box. As a matter of fact, I had such a hard time getting it to work that I was convinced that I was not in a coverage area. I finally ended up calling the customer service number and they were able to help me. It turns out that I had to hard reboot the thing or something. Once it worked though, it worked. I live in the DC suburbs and I get coverage pretty much anywhere I am. You should definitely make sure there is NetZero 4G coverage where you want to use the hotspot though, because it isn’t available everywhere. There is a map on their website.

YAY! Once I got the hotspot working, I used it around the town. Then I really decided to test it out on our trip to New York. We used the hell out of that thing. Hotel wifi cost $15 a day, and we were able to just use the hotspot instead. We did run out of data (right in the middle of me streaming a movie even), but you should consider that Alex was telecommuting off the thing, we were streaming movies for our kids in the hotel room, I was blogging, and we were using our mobile devices on it when we were out in the city. If you run out, you have the option of buying more data as well. (Data plans range from $10/month to $50/month.) Using it in a less high-demand way this January, we have yet to run out of data.

BOO! I have had a hard time logging into the website to access my account, which I think is mostly a function of my being on a press account for reviewing the device. If you signed up yourself, I think it would be not a problem. That said, I am not able to access information on how much data I’ve used, etc. to help you decide what amount of data you might need.

YAY! I used to buy a cellular plan for my iPad whenever I traveled or my power went out so I would have easy access to the internet. I would buy the cheapest monthly plan at $20. It was great. But the hotspot price is totally comparable and you can have wifi for up to 8 devices. The hotspot itself costs $99.95, but it is on sale for $49.98 at the NetZero website.

YAY! So, how do I use this thing? The hotspot isn’t something that will replace my home internet. We have too many devices/data needs for that. But my home internet is crappy and sometimes doesn’t work in my living room, so I can use my hotspot there if the home wifi is acting up. I also watch Netflix while I run on my treadmill (OMG, Sons of Anarchy! Why did no one tell me to watch this show?) and that corner of my house is the least likely to get a home wifi signal, so I use my hotspot there. I also consider my iPad to be a tool to help me with my neurodiverse kids. If they get overwhelmed and need to calm down, my iPad is something that really helps. However, some of the games (Dragonvale!) need internet access to work. If I have my hotspot with me, it’s not a problem.

BOO! Sometimes the rechargeable battery will run down on you. I think the battery life is six hours, which in almost all cases is enough, but you have to remember to charge your hotspot every night. It is quick to pick up its charge though (YAY!)

YAY! The coverage where I have used the hotspot is really good. When I talked to customer service, they told me that the hotspot wouldn’t work in my house, just outside on the street, but it still works in my house. I have used it on major highways and have lost the signal here and there, but it’s been pretty consistent. It even held its connection when I went through a tunnel once. I could not, however, get a signal at the top of the Empire State Building.

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Connected in a tunnel!
BOO! There is a free data option, so you can use your hotspot without paying a monthly fee. However, that data plan only gives you 200MB a month. I am guessing that most people probably use more than that. When I used to add a cellular plan to my iPad for travel, I would buy the smallest amount, which was 1GB for $20 and it was a good amount for me for that device. 1GB also costs $20 for the hotspot. If you only use a little bit of data, you might be able to get away with the no charge plan.

BOTTOM LINE! I would never have bought this device because I get nervous about gadget purchases and part of me didn’t really believe it would work. I would have hemmed and hawed and thought it was a really good idea, but I would never have believed it would work. I’m a believer now. It is so handy to have this little gadget all the time, but it was crazy awesome to have when traveling. I was super frustrated with it at first and was ready to throw it out the window, but once I got it to work, it has become an indispensable part of my stable of gadgets. I have been really pleased with this and would recommend it to people who are looking for something to help them with their mobile wifi needs.

I would have had lots of questions if I were thinking about buying one of these. Let me know if you have questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!

Disclosure: I received a free hotspot to review. I was also given a year’s free data service

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Can Already Feel That My Life Is Vastly Improved, But I Still Miss It Terribly

First, there was this:

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I know. It’s a really flattering photograph.
Well, actually, first there was this:

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He made me take a photo of his butt before he agreed to let me take a photo of his face.
Then, a while later, there was this.

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Clean as a whistle; sharp as a tack.
I swear, even when he’s just sitting around, he looks less surly than he did with his fuzzy hair. All the same, I feel sad that none of my kids are long hairs anymore, because we all know long hairs are the coolest, but clearly I don’t know how to take care of a child’s hair, so I think we made a good choice here.

Still, I’m pretty sad. It’s a dark day for fuzzballs everywhere.

p.s. It would be GREAT if NO ONE mentioned to Quinn that he got a hair cut. I just smiled at him after he got it cut and he freaked out and ran out of the room. He also claims he’s never going to school again because he doesn’t want people to look at him. So thanks in advance for that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

They Finally Got the Office With a Window

Good news, everyone!

After two and a half days of almost total rest, I seem to be on the upswing! Not only that, all my kids went to school today! Hooray! Stimeyland is getting back to health!

There is more good news too. I got a new desk. I know. Could this week get any better?

Anyway, I actually got the desk from IKEA last Saturday. It is the MALM with the pull-out panel. In the birch veneer. It’s pretty awesome. I no longer have a desk. I have a MALM. Life is so good.

One of the great features about my new MALM is that I rearranged my office area so as to give my gerbils a window. The back of their tank used to face a file folder. Now it faces a window. I am such a generous overlord. I’ve raised the blind enough so they have a little view of the outside world. Just, you know, enough to really get to fear it.

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Hello, outside world! Why are you so open and scary? And full of predators?
I imagine the really terrifying thing, however, is not the tree outside the window, but the fact that their home is about a foot away from my giant head every time I sit at my desk. I think that would be scary.

You know those little stress dolls that you squeeze and then their eyes bug out real far? I imagine that it would be scary like that to be a gerbil who lived on my desk. If you can’t get a little word picture in your brain from that, I’ll give you a real picture:

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Have you ever seen a more freaked out looking gerbil? I swear to God, I’m not squeezing him.
Jetpack doesn’t really love getting cuddled. Mouse is a little bit more okay with it, but I wouldn’t say he is totally on board. However, because I give them each a sunflower seed every evening when I either pet or hold one or both of them, they come running over to my hand every time I open their tank. I like that.

What I don’t like is that Mouse sleeps like he is dead. Today, I was sitting at my desk, tip tap typing away when I looked over and what did I see?

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Aaaiiiggghhhhh!!!
Seriously. Who does that? If you look inside the house, you can see Jetpack sleeping with his head on Mouse’s stomach. I mean, I love that they’re best friends and all, but do they have to be so weird?

Oh, gerballs, you were $5 well spent.

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Hi! We’re awesome!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Team Stimey and the Plague

Well, they got me. First Quinn had the ague. Then Alex. Then, in a burst of impressive projectile vomiting, Jack. Now I have the ague as well.

This would be not quite so bad if not for the fact that I haven’t had a day where all of my kids went to school since December. My winter break is never ending, people. Today I have two sickies home with me. I’m hopeful that they can take care of themselves while I nap.

The couch has been getting quite the workout. We may have to decontaminate it after we all get well.

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I’m not sure how the dog felt about this.
I wrote about our weekend with the plague over at White Knuckle Parenting this week. It was not an awesome weekend, friends.

That is all. Wish me luck. Also, get your flu shots. Seriously.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Project Stimey Update #1

project-stimey-updates Hello! We are one week into Project Stimey, so I thought I’d let you know how it’s going, as I plan to do occasionally. I promise not to do it every week. I have even created a new page all about Project Stimey that you can get to from the navigation bar under my pontificating gerbil.

The only thing it will have that isn’t posted here on Stimeyland will be a page of my running stats. I’m posting those more to keep me accountable to myself and to keep track of how much I’m running.

See, I didn’t run much at all in November and December and I don’t want that to happen again. Especially now that I’ve publicly declared this the year of fitness and my friends want to do things like go running with me.

One of those friends suggested we “knock out a quick 5-mile run in an hour” this coming Thursday and I was all, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, you must have me confused with someone who runs a 12-minute mile.” I hope to be even faster than that by September, when I run my relay, but I’m sure not there yet. I’ll tell you how embarrassing it all ended up afterward. Maybe I can livetweet it:

“She’s three blocks ahead of me now. #projectstimey #needtotrain”

“I’m pretty sure I’ll catch up to her in a mile or so. #projectstimey #shehastoslowdownsometime”

“She’s a dot on the horizon. #projectstimey #iamallalone”

“It’s dark now and I don’t know where I am. I’ve been abandoned. #projectstimey #sendhelp”

Over the weekend, I was planning on going out with another friend, with whom I usually go out to dinner and drinks, but this time she was all, “Hey, how about we do something fitness oriented?” and she made me go on a hike with her instead. And every time there was a fork in the trail, she chose the uphill trail. And THEN, she told me, “You’re going to be racing in New Hampshire; you have to train on hills,” and then I cried a little bit.

I think I’ve made a huge mistake.

But I’m not giving up. Onward.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Photographic Tour of My Trip to New York

…would be way too long to post here. I started to write it and then it turned into, like, 60-plus photos and no one wants that in a blog post. I still wanted to tell you about our trip though, because I’m a blogger and THAT IS WHAT I DO.

So, I’ve put the photos in a Facebook album on my Stimeyland page (which I believe is public, so you should be able to see it even if you’re not a Facebooker. Let me know if it’s not and I’ll adjust).

If you head over there to check them out, you will be treated to photos like these—and the stories behind them.

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Reason #834 why you’re glad you’re not married to me.
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I don’t know who that guy on the left is either.
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Sam in Times Square!
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No kid was ever happier.
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Jack in Central Park.

See the whole album here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151195984527596.441722.329595612595&type=1! Click the first photo, then move through the slide show from there! Feel free to like my page while you’re there!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Project Stimey

First of all, Happy New Year! Let’s pretend that I took this Times Square photo on New Year’s Eve, instead of on December 30.

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The ball wasn’t even up there yet.
But seriously, can you imagine me in Times Square on New Year’s Eve? I think we can all agree that it is best that I stayed away.

Now that we have that over with, let’s move on to New Year’s Day and the topic of resolutions.
I alternate between being the person who is all, “Resolutions are stupid,” and being the person who makes 15 resolutions and then doesn’t achieve any of them. Maybe that’s why I think they’re stupid.

This year I am firmly in the resolutions camp. But I am making it simple. My goal this year is to improve my overall physical health. By the end of 2013, I want to weigh less, I want to be fitter, I want to be a water drinker instead of a soda drinker, and I want to be altogether more awesome.

How hard could that be?

I feel like I have a good start, because I’m already running, which is great, but I have to work on my diet and sleep schedule as well.

Helping me in this is that I have committed to running Reach the Beach Relay in September. It is a 12-person, 200-mile relay race in New Hampshire. I figure that training for that will move me a long way toward my goals. My team (Team Mid-life Crisis, or Team MLC for short) doesn’t have all its members yet. If you are interested in joining us, let me know. You should be someone I know if you are interested, because although I’m okay with being flaked on/murdered in the pace vehicle, my real-life friends who I’m running with probably aren’t. But I’m serious. Let me know if you’re interested.

It’s hard to commit to something like weight loss publicly, because if you fail, then you’re kind of a double loser. But I’m determined to do it. I am looking at this a little bit less as a resolution and more of a project. Project Stimey. Yeah. Let’s call it that. ‘Cause I’m egocentric and all. That’ll be for next year. Making my head smaller.

Next January I’ll post my after picture. Today I’m going to post my before picture. It was surprisingly hard to find a full-body photograph of me, so I’m going to have to give you this one from the end of October at my zombie race. It is a pretty good representation of me today though, plus maybe a few pie-related holiday pounds.

I hope to be fitter in my after picture. Also cleaner.

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Stimey, (Before) Before
Wish me not luck, but determination.

What is your resolution this year?