Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Diet Coke Detox

Last you heard of me, I was having problems being motivated and I was spending the weekend binging. I decided that as long as I was having a hard time getting outside to run because of the weather and my lack of motivation, I might as well take the opportunity to bite the bullet and drop the soda.

Here’s where I stand right now: I decided to quit starting Monday. It has gone well. I can definitely feel my body being sad about the lack of soda and caffeine, but I haven’t had any of the really crazy quitting side effects that you will find if you Google something like “aspartame addiction.” (Don’t do that if you’re going to stop drinking Diet Coke, by the way.)

I haven’t been 100% successful though. I have had two cans of soda each day this week, but that waaaaaay less than I usually drink. There are only three or four cans left in my fridge though, so when those run out, I’ll be carbonation free!

There is no doubt in my mind that I will successfully quit. I’m sad about it—I really like soda—but I know that will fade and I will be healthier. Yay, me! Even if I didn’t do a lot of running, I would say that this was a week well spent.

That said, I will now subject you to an overdramatic, minute-by-minute retelling of the GREAT QUITTING. Because I’m me. And we all know that this is what I do.

Sunday, 11 pm: I chug a can of Diet Coke—my last Diet Coke ever! I then lie awake in my bed until the caffeine wears off.


Monday, 7:30 am: I wake up and feel sad that I can’t have my morning soda. I already miss the bubbles. I look wistfully at the fridge, but go brush my teeth instead.

7:48 am: Panic ensues. I consider quitting the quitting. I take Advil with water instead. Water is stupid.

8:39 am: I’ve already drunk 30 ounces of water this morning. Huh. So this is what being hydrated feels like.

8:52 am: I reminisce about soda. Remember how delicious it was? I miss it already. I also remember that there are several leftover cans of soda in the fridge. I decide that I will allow myself one EMERGENCY SODA per day until they run out. (We already know that this evolved into two sodas. Let’s just pretend I planned it this way.)

…the morning passes with yoga and a run and some work at my desk…

1:55 pm: I feel awesome! This is a piece of cake!

2:10 pm: Imma take a naaaaappp…zzzzzzzzzzz

5:24 pm: I feel a little fuzzy, but maybe I can make it through the day without the EMERGENCY SODA.

6:02 pm: I scream at the dog for a minor infraction. I decide to have that emergency soda.

6:04 pm: I FEEL SO GOOD!!!!!1!!

7:30 pm: I want to go to bed.


Tuesday 7:09 am: Water is stupid. I hate water. Advil on the other hand…

7:45 am: I am sad. The novelty of this whole thing is wearing off.

10:59 am: I realize after spending the morning volunteering at Quinn’s school that soda was like a nice little treat that I would give myself after completing something—like volunteering at Quinn’s school. WHERE IS MY GODDAMN TREAT?! I sadly drink…wait for it…more fucking water.

11:55 am: I retire to my bed in depression and take a ridiculously long nap.

3:12 pm: I decide to drink my EMERGENCY SODA to prevent me from shrieking at my children for existing.

9:43 pm: I feel kinda…tingly.


Wednesday 8:22 am: I’m figuring out that the very first thing in the morning is the hardest for me. I miss my morning soda. Water just doesn’t have the same kick. And carbonated water is the most disgusting thing on earth, so I can’t even substitute with that. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

1:33 pm: I am sitting at my desk thinking, “I feel great! I am not even tired at all. I am going to come through this with flying colors. A++++++!!!” Then I remember that I just drank my EMERGENCY SODA at 1:00. Oh. Right.

1:48 pm: I am starting to feel extremely virtuous for drinking so much water.

1:49 pm: I get tired of taking obsessive notes on my state of mind. I decide to declare success for quitting soda even though I haven’t actually technically quit anything.


And there you have it. I win life.


If you want to read something else I’m great at, I wrote about 10 Things Parents Know (That Kids Don’t Want to Hear) over at White Knuckle Parenting this week. My kids may not agree that I am great at knowing things.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Concept of Quinn

Warning: This is definitely a fawning parent post. When in doubt, I go to the school work. My kid is adorable.

Last week, Quinn had an assignment at school to create a concept map about himself. All the kids in his class made a little map thingy about themselves. They also wrote sentences having to do with each of the concepts (not included on the map). Here is Quinn’s:

Don’t worry. I’ll decipher it for you.
Let’s start at the top and move clockwise.

“Quinn likes Dodgeball” Well. Who doesn’t? The real Quinny part of this comes in the sentence that he wrote about it: “I like getting hit in the face.” Well. Who doesn’t? (Answer: EVERYONE.)

“Quinn likes swiming in pools a lot”

“Quinn hang out in places example TV Room with oreos watching TV” He’s so cute. Also, this sounds like something I’d like to do as well. The sentences he wrote for this branch were all things like, “I love TV Room!” and “A great place to hang out watching TV,” one of which is not actually a sentence, but that’s okay.

“Quinn hang out in places example hamock with lemonaid” I die of cuteness. Especially when his sentences clarify that the hammock is a “good sitting place” and lemonade is a “super good drink on hot days.”

“Quinn I hate homework.” This was the only part of the entire concept map that was entirely correctly spelled and punctuated. Oh, also the sentence that went along with it: “Homework sucks!” There is no ambivalence there.

“Quinn used to be a gyminast” Yeah. We all remember how that went. If you don’t remember how that went, it’s okay. It was one of my, let’s say, less proud blogging moments.

“Quinn our pets are 2 cats, 1 dog, 5 mice, 2 gerballs. one cat is Izzy is a Star!!!!!! Cats are the best!!!!!!!!!” I think it is lovely that Quinn included all of our dead pets, including Izzy, who is the most loved of the deceased. But it makes me a little sad too. For his notes about Cats are the best!(!!!!!!!!), he wrote, “Relates to Izzy.” For his notes about Star!!!!!!!, he wrote “Also relates to Izzy.” (He did follow that up with, “Relates to space,” but that seemed to be secondary to him.) I think it is likely that Izzy’s death will be the defining memory of his childhood. This makes me a little sad.

“Quinn likes Dessert” Also, “Dessert rocks just like cats.”

“Quinn Favrite game is Mindcraft” I’m hopeful that one day he learns it is actually called Minecraft. Somehow I’m more bothered by that misspelling than the misspelling of “favorite.”

“Quinn had a cat” Izzy is, like, 30% of Quinn’s concept map. I feel a little sad that the sentence he wrote was actually a question and that question was, “Is Izzy soft anymore?” (Answer: Unlikely.)

Quinn Likes Space (crescent moon, soler eclipse, comet, galaxy) My favrit planet is…Jupiter” Quinn is a HUGE fan of space. I mean, what’s YOUR favorite planet? That’s what I thought. I don’t have one either. Although Saturn is pretty cool. And Earth has been good to me. Regardless, Quinn believes that “Jupiter is the planet king!” He also had some pretty elaborate sentences for his space examples: “I want to learn about solar & lunar eclipses. We’re learning about the moon in class. Superstition says that comets are the harbringers [I’m sorry, I just couldn’t correct his all too cute spelling of that word. —ed.] of doom. There are millions and millions of galaxies in the cosmos.

There you have it: Quinn in a concept map. I have to say, it is actually pretty accurate and complete.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Motivation Dip

worth it I’m having a hard time with motivation these days. Part of it is my mood and part of it that it is fucking COLD outside and the third half is that my outdoor runs lately have been like slogs and the indoor runs quickly turn into strolls on the treadmill and it is just HARD to maintain running four or five days a week when your natural state is SLOTH.

Also, food is delicious. Especially lemon bars and peanut butter cups. Plus, I keep pushing off my quitting soda plan because I’m, well, I’m scared. And more also, I seem to have lost just enough weight that I have to hitch my pants up all the time, but not enough that I’m ready to go out and buy new clothes or feel better about myself yet.

I’m just a little tired. I understand that sloth and mood are connected and cyclical as well as seasonal, but I also recognize that maybe it’s okay to give into it for a couple of days.

I’m not giving up though.


I am going to take a weekend and not beat myself up if I don’t run. I might eat some lemon bars. I am going to binge like a motherfucker on soda. I’m also going to write out a training plan for next week.
Then I am going to come back stronger. It is a process, right?

I’m also going to read a lot of motivational posters that I pinned on Pinterest because sometimes that gets me out the door wearing sneakers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Delete the OTHER Posts; Read THIS One

Guess what? I keep learning fun things about WordPress. Like, if say I were to add 30 posts to my archive in the 2010 and 2011 sections, some of you would get THIRTY INDIVIDUAL EMAILS from me telling you about, OMG THE EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER CHARITY WALK WILL BE HELD TWO YEARS AGO!!!!!

Read all about it!

See, I’m moving all my Autism Unexpected posts over to my blog so I have them here. Back over on Blogger, I could do that sort of thing without anybody being all, Whoa! I’m over my Stimey quota for the day! Evidently WordPress is more efficient about its email feeds.

Also, frankly, I really don’t blame you because if I have to read more than six or seven paragraphs that I write, I also try to unsubscribe. But I can’t. Because this shit is running through my head all the time.

Aside: Quinn was trying to read a book this afternoon, so I “Quinned” him. I asked him question after question and talked to him about everything that went through my brain and I finished every sentence with, “Right? Right, Quinn?” He was all, “CAN YOU STOP THAT!?” It was awesome.

Anywho, I have 19 more Autism Unexpected columns to transfer over to Stimeyland. I want to have them here in case they get suddenly deleted over there. You never know.

So. What to do. Is there a way to NOT send something out through my WordPress feed? See, I subscribe via my Feedblitz feed and I didn’t get 30 emails, so I’m not even sure how it happened. (Shut up. Yes, I subscribe to my own feed. That’s how I get alerted to problems that my readers might have. Oh. Wait. That totally didn’t work this time. Huh.)

What I think is going to happen is that I am going to wait a couple weeks and then on a Saturday when no one gets emails I will do it real fast like so you can delete them in a batch. You should just know that I don’t plan on regularly sending you dozens of emails at a time.

I will, however, continue to write endless posts about minutiae that most of you don’t care about/are unaffected by.


In other news, I made a quiz for you for White Knuckle Parenting all about classroom parties. Like this:

Classroom parties are:
(a) awesome
(b) horrifying
(c) a way for school systems to torture you years after you have graduated.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where I’ve Been and What Makes Me Happy

Hello, friends. I’ve been feeling a little down lately, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing very much here. I have lots of stuff swirling through my head that I can’t get out on paper (or blog) and it just keeps swirling. Things have been feeling kind of overwhelming. Also I’ve been trying to figure out my endgame, meaning if I want to write a book, I have to just write the damn book.

Mostly though, I just want to take naps. No one needs anything from me in my naps.

I also like running. Running has been making me happy. The problem is that it is really, really cold these days and it makes me not want to go outside. Also I have a really painful blister right now.
I know. My life. TRAGIC.

The things that make me not depressed though, are my kids. Today (yesterday by now?) was President’s Day, so my kids didn’t have school. Naturally this meant that I scheduled them all for dentist appointments.

I am the meanest mom in the world.

Fortunately, dentists nowadays are kind of awesome for my kiddos. Three kids, two dentists in two different states, dozens of teeth, and not a single cavity! Hooray!

Jack’s appointment was first. His dentist office always amuses me. Sam and Quinn are always excited to go because they have air hockey and movies in the waiting room. Jack is also happy to go because they let him choose from their giant selection of movies while he has his teeth worked on. He chooses Bolt every single time. It is hysterical. He has seen the first half hour of that movie a million times now.

So much better than back when the dentist was such a horror show for the poor kid.
We actually have that movie on DVD. Maybe I’ll show him the end of it some day. (He has actually seen the end before.)

After Jack’s appointment, we headed home for a while before we went to dentist #2, who told us that Sam needs to go to an orthodontist. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Maybe the best part of my day though, was listening to Quinn talk to the dentist and the hygienist. That kid is funnier than anyone I know and so casually in love with himself. (Sometimes he’ll just wander around saying, “I’m great! I’m awesome! I’m great!” No self-esteem issues there.)

The hygienist asked how old he was and Quinn started reciting facts: “I am in second grade. I am seven years old. I am awesome.”

That kid. I have to get some of what he has. But until he tells me his secret, I’ll just hang out near him and his brothers and hope that some of their awesomeness rubs off on me.

I actually feel kind of better just putting that little bit out on the page. Huh. Maybe writing really IS therapeutic.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Sugartine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? (Me.)

Mostly I see Valentine’s Day as an exercise in forcing my kids to write 26 names each on little scraps of cardboard and checking to see how many of Jack’s classmates he actually knows. I imagine that Alex sees Valentine’s Day as an exercise in wishing he’d married someone more romantic.

My kids, on the other hand, see Valentine’s Day as a wonderful chance to ingest as much sugar as is humanly possible.

In case you are wondering, it is possible to ingest a HUGE amount of sugar.

Sam’s day was largely an enigma, what with his being a fifth grader who doesn’t need mom at his Valentine’s Day party as long as she buys him a bag of corn chips for him to take into school ostensibly for the class, but mostly just for him, thank you very much.

Although his afternoon did end with him hiding behind a piano at a party, so I don’t think we should count sugar out for him entirely.

To be fair, a grown man calling himself the Great Zucchini told him to do it, so…
Here is the Great Zucchini himself, bringing joy to a room full of special needs kids and their families—and standing RIGHT in front waving his arms around, Jack.

Jack flipped his lid laughing at this guy. It was great.
Many thanks to Sir Zucchini for his show and to my friend B for inviting us. Also thank you for living the “your baby is my baby” philosophy today, B.

Jack’s school party isn’t until tomorrow, but he gave Alex and I valentines today on which he’d written poetry. Now, I’m not a big poetry girl, but Jack writes some good verse.

To me:

Violets are blue
Roses are pink
I really like love
and hate really stinks!

To Alex:

Roses r red
Violets r blue
I’m so awesome
and I ♥ u!

See what I mean? That’s good stuff right there.

I’m going to his party tomorrow, so I am sure there will be a Part II to his Valentine’s story, but for now, what I do have are photos of Quinn, who had a sugar-coated day that can pretty much be summarized in the following four photos.

1. Before the Sugar:

Ice cream at school?! This was Quinn’s favorite day in the history of days!
2. Post Sugar Ingestion:

This is what a lot of ice cream, a box of chocolates, and a bag of blue Fun Dip will to a person.
3. Ruh-roh! The Sugar Has Kicked In!

This is what a lot of ice cream, a box of chocolates, and a blue bag of Fun Dip will do to a person when it is followed up by a loud classroom full of singing second graders and combined with sensory processing issues.
4. Can’t Talk. Coming Down.

In this photo, taken at the after-school party, Quinn refuses to acknowledge that there is a party with a beloved children’s entertainer going on around him.
I hope your day was lovely in its own way and that you didn’t have to hide behind any pianos or in any cubbies to get through it. But if you did, that’s okay too.


This week at White Knuckle Parenting, I wrote about my kids’ life stages through their adulthood. I was a little more detailed about the early ages, because the oldest one is only 11.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Faster than a Turtle; Slower than Everyone Else

On Sunday, regardless of my cold and the 25-degree weather when I left my house, I headed out to my 5k race first thing in the morning.

Pre-race. I look more cheerful that I was. I had already jogged twice around the high school track just to keep warm.
I’ve done a lot of running since my last road race in September—which was the 8K in which I placed 621st out of 627—so I was looking forward to vastly improving my pace.

My goal this time was to do the 5K in 40 minutes, which isn’t fast, by any means, but is respectable. At least for me. (My standards of respectability are a little different in a lot of areas, including running paces.)

Even though I was sick, this race was fun. You guys, I passed people. I mean, sure, they were children. And walkers. And one or two people running in the opposite direction. But I passed them! I even passed some runners. It was AWESOME.

And I didn’t even feel bad when they passed me right back a little bit later.

They course was kind of hilly, but none of the slopes were too long. Regardless, by mile two I was running holding tissues, sneezing, and feeling sad for myself. All that went away at mile 2.5, however, when I ran down a longish, steepish downhill. Some people were walking down it or running slowly and I blew past them.

I was all, “Gravity, bitches! Get some!” This is where being chubby comes in handy.

Remember my 40 minute goal? Well. I finished in 40 minutes. AND TWO SECONDS. I’m so mad.
But I’m more proud of me. A year ago I couldn’t have run a 5K in an hour. I couldn’t have run more than a couple of minutes. Progress, people. Progress. I am awesome.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cold & Colds: Correlative or Causative?

Are we all agreed that being cold doesn’t get you sick? Can someone tell that to my nose and my head? Because I’m pretty sure that running outside in really cold weather made me sick.
I’m particularly annoyed because I have to run a 5k race on Sunday. Outside. In cold weather. While already sick.

I’m pretty certain I am going to end up with the consumption afterward. Yes. That is EXACTLY what causes the consumption.

The t-shirt better be awesome.


In other, cuter news, here is a picture of Sam scribing for Jack when Jack did his homework last night. It was adorable. And the most fun I’ve had doing homework for years.

You should pretend they are eating salads rather than McDonald’s, okay?
Now I’m going to try to go sleep this headache and runny nose away.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One Year

It has been a year. I miss her. I think about her a lot.


It seems so unfair that life goes on when she is not here. I have thought of her often over the past year. I think of her every time I drive past the left turn I used to take to her house. I think of her when I see a full moon. I think of her every time one of my kids asks me a science question that I don’t know the answer to but that she would have. I think of her at random times when my mind wanders.

I miss laughing with her. I miss going to her house with Big Gulps for each of us. I miss the way she used her hands to demonstrate whatever scientific principle she was explaining. I miss how encouraging she was of her friends. I miss how much she believed in everyone. I miss how she held friends together. I miss her smile.

There have been many things I wanted to share with her in the past year. I wanted to tell her about my Asperger’s diagnosis. I think she would have been amazing about it. I wanted to tell her how well Jack was doing. She was one of his biggest cheerleaders. I wanted to put her name on a list of references for an application I filled out. I wanted to ask her advice about so many things. I wanted to chat about books and movies and blogs and the tremendous good and energy that she put into the world.

I missed her so terribly after I ran my 8k in September. When I posted on Facebook that I had finished the race, something that was a challenge for me, a mutual friend commented, “As Susan would have said, ‘Of course you did.'” Exactly. Exactly. I miss her.

One of the last times Susan and I sat and chatted, a rotating prism that her husband had bought her was twirling in the sunlight, covering her in rainbows. That is one of the way I like to remember her: shining like a rainbow; strong and nuanced like the cratered, slate-colored moon; and gorgeous as her amazing smile.

No post about Susan can ever do her justice or express the enormity of her loss.

I always love you, Susan.

As Susan’s friends remember her today, consider furthering her legacy through a contribution to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation or the American Cancer Society.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Patol, Bingo & True Love

The fourth grade at Jack’s school had an exhibit today of the projects they’d created for their Native American projects. Jack had very enthusiastically created a replica of a game called patol and I very enthusiastically noticed that patol was far easier to recreate than any number of other projects: dolls, boots, clothes, igloos, dioramas, fancy weaponry…

I know he looks hungover or something, but I swear we let him sleep.
In the photo above, you can see the fantastic doll made by R, a girl in Jack’s class that he calls “the most beautiful girl in the world.”

I tell you this for a reason (in addition to telling you so I have an excuse to post that photo). The exhibit took place late in the day, so I just brought Jack home with me afterward, in time to pick Quinn up from the bus stop.

Jack usually comes home later than Quinn, so it is unusual for him to meet Quinn’s bus, on which rides Jack’s very good girl friend, E, with whom Jack used to go to school. Jack and E have long had plans to get married, and Jack was delighted to see her again, as they hadn’t seen each other for a while.

She got off the bus and bum rushed Jack, giving him a huge hug. It was really beautiful to see. They, like, just gazed at each other for a while. I love that girl so much. Also Jack. I also love Jack so much.

They hugged for a while and were very excited to be in each other’s presence, when Jack very seriously turned to E and said, “I am in love with another. Her name is [the most beautiful girl in the world].”

To E’s credit, she handled it pretty well. I wouldn’t count her out just yet.


You might have missed my live tweeting last Friday of Quinn’s bingo night. Never fear. I wrote all about it for White Knuckle Parenting. I even learned a lesson about giving in to chaos.

Friday, February 1, 2013


You all remember Izzy, right? Izzy was my wonderful cat who died almost exactly a year ago. She was the best cat. This is her:

Do you see how her white face markings are a perfect upside-down heart? She was as sweet as she was beautiful.
Izzy was the sweetest cat in the world. Sam loved her a lot, but Jack and Quinn really bonded with her. For a long time she slept with Jack at night and they were total cuddle buddies. Once she got older and sick, she retreated back to my bed to sleep, where she could hide from the loudness of the rest of the house.

Even though she has been gone for more than a year, she is practically a daily presence in our house. Quinn talks about her all the time. I think he uses her as a calming tool, especially at night when he is going to sleep. I believe that Izzy is still a very real presence in his life.

Jack doesn’t talk about her all that much anymore, but I know that she is still in his heart.

Today, however, Jack got off of his school bus after school and he was SOBBING. I hugged him and asked him what he was sad about.

“I blank zee blank,” he said.

I thought for a minute and couldn’t figure out what he was saying, so I asked him again.

“I blank zee blank,” he repeated. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”

At this point I thought he was using a little Frenchie accent to say something that he was afraid to tell me, like, “I lost zee library book,” or something like that. Let’s just look past the fact that I accepted the French accent without question.

Finally he managed to tell me that he was thinking about “I-Z-Z-Y.”

He told me that he was sad that Izzy was dead. “Let me tell you about Izzy,” he started reciting, in a tone that let me know this wasn’t the first time he had recited this today. “She was a cat who was the best cat in the world. She was my best friend. As the years passed, she didn’t like me as much. Then one day she died and I was sad for a whole day.”

It took me some time to get him calmed down and relaxed, but I wasn’t able to figure out what had brought this on. What had brought Izzy to the front of his mind so strongly that he was sobbing on his school bus?

Then I opened his school folder and found his daily contract on which his paraeducator had written a note about how he’d gotten stuck on Izzy that day and had been crying at school too. However, behind that was a vocabulary worksheet he’d filled out with pictures and sentences that defined his vocabulary words, one of which was “tragic.”

Jack’s sentence: “Izzy is dead and it’s tragic.”
Well, that would do it.

I’m hoping that future vocabulary words include concepts such as “cremation,” “trauma,” and “scary black spiders.”