Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fun Run

Hey, guess what? You were right! I was sick! Hooray! I've never been so happy to have a cold! Especially because I'm already starting to feel better.

This is especially fortunate because I am running a 10K this weekend and I would rather not run every race I'm registered for this year whilst in the throes of the ague. I haven't had much of a chance to run this week, what with my heavy time commitments in the areas of whining and complaining, so I decided to try to get a short run in this afternoon while Sam was at soccer practice.

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Sam. At soccer practice.

The only flaw in my plan was that I was in charge of Jack and Quinn as well. They were extremely happy on the swings that overlook the soccer field, so I tried to run back and forth on the path that snaked between them that allowed me to still watch my smaller munchkins and make sure they weren't departing for more interesting pastures.

Sadly, it only took me a few minutes to realize that I would have to run something like 38 tiny laps to get any decent mileage.

I did not want to run 38 tiny laps.

Happily, when I said to Jack and Quinn, "Come on, guys; run with me!" they did! We departed down the path, leaving the soccer field behind us.

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Jack and Quinn. Running.

It was, by far, the least productive run I've been on in a long time, but oh dear lord was it fun.

They actually did a really good job too. We would run for a little bit and then we would walk and if we saw a dog, we would stop to pet it. I kept track of our running (not the walking parts) on my Garmin and they ran for a little over a mile.

Like rock stars.

I think it might have been when my kids were marveling over the group of seven deer that we happened upon, followed by much excitement over a robin pecking around nearby that I realized how much fun running with my kids is.

Quinn would run up ahead and then jump out from behind a tree to ambush Jack and I and we would laugh. Jack and I would run really fast to catch up to Quinn and then he would scream and cry when we ambushed him. Both kiddos made serious but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to pet deer. We watched a creek. We had a heart-stopping lesson in remembering to stop at roads. Jack politely informed a smoker that he should quit for his health. Quinn hid from a peloton of bikers on a nearby road by crouching behind a bank of daffodils. Jack quite literally stopped to smell the flowers.

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Then Jack picked said flowers, told me he wanted me to help him make a dye out of them, and very carefully inspected them for suitability. It slowed us down considerably.

The whole damn thing was delightful as hell.

We got back in plenty of time for Jack to find more flowers and for Quinn to play on the swings and run into a friend from his class at school.

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Quinn has recently made great strides in his swinging ability. He gets JOY from swinging now. It’s awesome.

I run for a lot of reasons. I run to be healthy, to be fitter, to be faster, to train for races, to feel strong. Today I ran for fun. Just for fun. It was wonderful. I'll have to remember to do that more often. And I need to remember to invite my new little running buddies to do it with me.
...

And then soccer practice ended and Quinn called Sam stupid and Sam threw a shoe that hit Quinn in the face and there was no more happy for anyone ever again. So, there's that.
...

Wait. There actually is a little more happy. But just a little.

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“Hello! I’m a bird! I bring happy back!”

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Think I'm Sick, But I Can't Really Tell

I woke up on Saturday not feeling well. I had a really bad sore throat and was sniffly and sneezy. I was all, "Aleeexxxx, I'm siiiiiick!" but he countered with, "No, you have allergies."

He spoke with such authority that I decided he was probably right.

See, with the exception of a few sneezes and sniffles last year, I've never had allergies, so I don't have a lot of experience with them except to hear other people complain about them. I've always felt vaguely sorry for them, but, you know, it was never my problem, so I didn't ask a lot of questions about headaches vs. ague-like symptoms and whatnot.

Suddenly, such questions are of huge interest  to me.

I have spent the last three days asking Alex if my symptoms are those of allergies or illness.

Me: "Is a headache a sign of allergies?"

Alex: "Sometimes."

*hours later*

Me: "Is fatigue a sign of allergies?"

Alex: "Sometimes."

*hours later*

Me: "Are body aches a sign of allergies?"

Alex: "Sometimes."

*hours later*

Me: "Are chills a sign of allergies?"

Alex: "Sometimes."

At some point I started to suspect that Alex was just trying to convince me that I wasn't sick so I couldn't complain.

Joke's on him. I complained anyway.

So anyway, I'm either dying of the common cold or I'm dying of allergies. I feel a little bit as if you all could help me (a) with a confirmation that I have a cold so I know it will go away in a few days, or (b) tell me how to make my allergy symptoms stop.

Make this go away. Please.*

* If you could make Alex wrong as you do so, that would be even better.

Friday, April 18, 2014

All Around the Internet and Maryland

Today I have links for you instead of a post. You probably know that this month is Autism Acceptance Month. The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism is featuring stories about autistic people this month and today it was my and Jack's turn. Check out how awesome the Jackster is over there.

I am also being featured as a Mom's Life Uncensored Blogger on the Stir this month and the other day they reposted one of my stories from a little more than a year ago. It is about the day I took my kids to ASAN's Day of Mourning and Sam's incredible reaction to it. Check out how awesome the Samster is over there.

I wish now that I had a link to something about how awesome the Q-ball is, but I don't. Rest assured, however, that he is. Awesome, that is.

I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that Listen to Your Mother shows are coming up over the next weeks. Find one in your area. I, personally, am going to see friends in both the DC (May 4) and Baltimore (April 26) shows. I can't wait! Why don't you join me?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lessons of Packing #1

Thank you all so much for your congrats on our new house! And thank you so much for your opinions on yard sale vs. donation of excess goods. You pretty much confirmed that I should be lazy and just donate. I thank you for that. Although I am actually going to try to sell some stuff on a Facebook yard sale. We'll see how that goes.

Regardless, I've been packing up the things we actually do want to keep, which, after ten years in one house, turns out to be a lot of stuff. My house has started to turn into a cubeworld. It's like I'm living in Minecraft these days.

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Maybe I could build a little fort out of my cubes.

As I've been packing, I've learned some things. And because I share like that, I'm going to force you to listen to what I've learned. I am, of course, assuming that your house is exactly the same as mine.

1. Over the course of ten years, you will accumulate a tremendous number of gloves. You will not realize this because every time you need gloves for three kids, you will find four gloves and a mitten. When you empty out the glove box to pack it, however, you will find approximately 80 million gloves. Some of them will match each other.

2. In your gloves box, you will also find two fossilized fried chicken bones, leading to your being harassed by your cats for the entirety of winter clothes packing.

3. If you pack your kids' winter coats in a box and then lose that box in a pile of other boxes, the weather will instantly turn frigid.

3a. Because you refused to pack your own winter coat when you packed your kids', you will look like an asshole when you're cozy and warm in your parka and they are shivering in light sweatshirts.

4. When you have more than a month to pack, it is hard to refrain from packing all the easy-to-grab things that get used every day. You will start to convince yourself that you won't need to use things like pots or the pencil sharpener in the next several weeks.

5. I packed the stapler. I won't need the stapler, right?

6. When you very carefully remove Algernon's Army from its shelf and pack it, something else will immediately take its place.

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This shelf ornament would be quickly replaced by another cat, who would be quickly followed by another.

7. Your husband will be mad if you show him a box marked "TOOLS" and ask him to jump inside.

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In my defense, he is a TERRIBLE packer.

8. You will find Quinn's ChildFind papers, which you have been looking for for months, in a file unsurprisingly labeled "Quinn's ChildFind," but it will have been filed nowhere near any other special education paperwork.

9. The recovery of said papers will make you hope that all of your lost items will reappear before you move. Next up on the lost items wish list: my brown clogs. How the hell do you lose two whole shoes?

10. No matter how much stuff you think you have, you have more.

*****

Jack’s special hockey team, the Montgomery Cheetahs, is still soliciting donations for their big fundraiser coming up in May. I want to thank Kelly so very much for her donation. You rock, Kelly. You can make your own donation online.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Big Move

Oh, you guys, things are coming up Stimey.

I have big news. You may know (or you may not) that Team Stimey has been rapidly outgrowing our house for a while now. For example, Jack and Quinn share a room, which is lovely when they get along and a NIGHTMARE when they are fighting. Sam's room is too small for all of his books and Alex and I made the bathroom-less upstairs floor of the house our master bedroom before we realized how dumb that was. Also, when someone visits us, I have to bribe Sam by buying him more books to get him to give up his bed and let our guest sleep in it while he sleeps on the couch.

I understand that I have made my house sound terrible, but it is really not. It is a lovely house with a fantastic backyard in a quiet, friendly neighborhood, but my children just keep growing bigger and bigger and it is not working for us anymore.

We'd been hoping to move in the next year or so but weren't looking yet. Except it turns out that Alex secretly was looking. He'd been watching one house in particular for a long time and after its price was reduced for the second time, he was all, "Hey, wanna go to an open house, just for fun?"

Long story short, we're buying that house and we'll be moving in May.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Chester is pretty excited about this move too.

You guys, I almost cannot contain my excitement. For reals. This house is amazing. So amazing. Each of my kids is going to have their own room. We will have a guest room. THERE IS A BATHROOM IN THE MASTER BEDROOM.

I could go on. I probably will in future posts. You are going to get so tired of me yabbering on about this new dream house we are going to live in.

*big happy sigh and just a little bit of hand flapping*

So, what do our kids think of the whole thing? They've been to the house once and they loved it. The night that we told them that our offer had been accepted and we were going to move in to the house, they started yelling, "Hugs for everyone!" and jumping around in joy.

As long as they get to bring their stuff, their friends still get to come over to hang out, and the cats come with us, the kiddos are ON BOARD.

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We’ll be packing Ruby in this box.

We are all so excited we almost can't stand it.

Step one of living our new charmed lives in the new house, of course, is that we have to pack up our old one. Because we have a nearly 60-day close, we fortunately have a lot of time to get our shit together.

Trust me, we're going to need it.

We're working hard on packing, with an emphasis on getting rid of stuff we don't want or need anymore. Honestly, the more we can trash or donate, the better. How to get rid of that stuff is the question though. Alex and I are trying to decide if we want to have a yard sale to get rid of a lot of our stuff (cash money! but a lot of work) or if we just want to donate it all and take the tax deduction (I throw some crap in the driveway, make a call to a charity, and I'm done).

Do you have opinions on this? I'm torn. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.

I would also very much like your emphatic finger crossings and knock on woods that nothing goes wrong between now and closing. Everything looks good and the forecast is for smooth sailing, but I will be on edge until I hold those keys in my hand.

(Keys! I finally get to throw away all the keys sitting around my house that belong to god knows what!)

If you need me over the next month and a half, I'll have a cardboard box in one hand and a marker and packing tape in the other.

*more jumping up and down followed by an awkward jump-dance*

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hungry Cats

Lest you ever look at sweet little Quinn with his flowing golden hair and blue eyes and delicate limbs and question if he is my child...wonder no more.

He wrote the following story for school, which, let's be honest here, I could have written just for this blog. Evidently, the story is supposed to be "realistic fiction," so you can either ignore the fact that the cats talk or, as Quinn explained to me, understand that when they are talking to each other, what we hear are meows and mews.

Quinn's story is reproduced here not just with his permission but with his unadulterated glee. Quinn's illustrations appear before the text (in quotation marks) that goes with them.
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"The story is about 3 cats trying to get to 3 gerbils. The gerbils are: gerbil #1, gerbil #2, and gerbil #3. The cats are Oreo, Ruby, and Starfire. Oreo and the others want cat food—gerbils if possible."

[Editor's note: I would like to point out two things: 1) Even though the gerbils do actually have names, I guess Quinn made the choice to genericize them to make their imminent doom more palatable. 2) Quinn seems to be a fan of the Oxford comma. More proof that he is my kid.]

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"Oreo said, 'If we want the gerbils, we need a chainsaw.' 'Let's just have cat food,' Ruby said. 'Let's worry about the gerbils later.' 'Okay,' said Starfire."

[Editor's note: Anyone else worried about Quinn's path STRAIGHT TO CHAINSAW?!]

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"After Oreo and the others woke up, they went to the gerbil cage. Oreo said, 'Let's get the chainsaw.' Ruby said, 'Yeah, not gonna work.'"

[Editor's note: Not gonna work for so many reasons including the fact that in that picture, Oreo seems to be holding the chainsaw in her mouth, but let's hang in there and see where he goes with this.]

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"Starfire said, 'Guys, I have a...whoa!' Then Oreo says, 'Let's save it.' Meanwhile Starfire was grumbling on the floor because she got pushed by Oreo. Ruby said, 'That was weird.'"

[Editor's note: BUT WHAT DID STARFIRE HAVE?????!!!!!]

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"'The idea...' said Starfire, 'is Oreo rams the cage with full power.' Ruby said, 'It's night. The prey is awake.' Ruby was right."

[Editor's note: Ahhhh...Starfire had an IDEA.]

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"Oreo then smashed and completely destroyed the cage. And soon they were munching and crushing on meat. Gerbil meat. Then they went to bed."

[Editor's note: I think we have the answer to the question, "Which pets does Quinn like better, the cats or the gerbils?" Also, I think I might go reinforce those gerbil tanks.]

The End.

*****

Jack’s special hockey team, the Montgomery Cheetahs, is still soliciting donations for their big fundraiser coming up in May. You can make your own donation online.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Introducing...

It's been several months since Algernon headed off to his next adventure. I still miss him. He'll always hold a small, dirty white space in my heart.

And yet, even though his absence still stings, I think I might be finally ready to start bringing a new mousy friend on adventures with me. Because you all are the best, I had a large selection of rodent buddies from which to choose.

It wasn't an easy decision.

I ended up drawn to a mouse that I had originally given Quinn because he wanted his own little guy like Algernon. After he saw all of the friends you guys sent, he gave me the gift of the mouse I had given to him months before.

He is a mouse born for adventure.

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I started carrying him around with me a while back.

There's more to adopting a new mascot, however, than just popping him in your bag and dragging him places he doesn't want to go. You also have to name the little dude. I spent a long time trying to find the moniker that suited him best. I tried to find mouse names from literature, but none of them suited him that well. I ruminated on his name for a really long time, but there was one name that stuck with me. I decided to let him tell you what it is.

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He’s Chester!

Naming task taken care of, we headed out to see what we could see. Unfortunately, most of what we saw on Chester's first trip out was traffic.

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DC can be frustrating.

He did better on a later trip to the pet store where I was buying a lot of lab blocks (aka, food) to feed my gerbils. Chester got reacquainted with some old friends.

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Fancy mice. All sorts of them.

I've been enjoying having Chester around, but he's a little bit of an attention hog and he will go to any means necessary to get it.

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Bang a gong, Chester.

I will say this for him: He's a very brave mouse.

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He’s a daredevil, that Chester.

I blame a lot of his bravado and wild behavior on all the caffeine he drinks.

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Sometimes he overdoes it.


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And sometimes he REALLY overdoes it.


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And sometimes that mouse straight up embarrasses himself.

Regardless of his addictive behavior and his guzzling of hot chocolate out of coffee cups, I feel very thankful for Quinn's selfless generosity.

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Thanks, pal.

No matter what, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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I hope we have a lot of adventures together.

*****

In other news, Jack’s special hockey team, the Montgomery Cheetahs, is still soliciting donations for their big fundraiser coming up in May. Thank you so much to Jodi and the Paulsons for their donations. You can make your own donation online.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It Was EXACTLY Like the National Treasure Movies Except Not at All

A few weeks ago, I got an email inviting my family to the National Archives for a family day event and a pre-opening coffee with a curator to celebrate their "Making Their Mark: Stories through Signatures" exhibit.

Immediately upon receipt of said email, I realized that (a) I had never dragged my kids through that particular institution and (b) I should rectify that immediately. Also, (c) I'd never been and I really wanted to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights in person.

Our morning at the Archives came around this past Saturday and I was prepared. Museum-type spaces can be tough for my kiddos, particularly Quinn, so I made sure to not use the m-word and I pulled out the other heavy gun I had in my arsenal: I reminded them about the National Archives scenes from the National Treasure movies.

That did the trick.

We arrived to find juice and pastries as well as curator Jennifer Johnson, who gave us a personal tour through the Making Their Mark exhibit, which she had curated. It was really cool. The exhibit is all about signatures, from athletes signing sports memorabilia to Benedict Arnold's oath of allegiance to a display of pens used by presidents to sign bills into law.

It was even more interesting than I thought it would be. There was a patent application filed by Michael Jackson, a letter from Johnny Cash to Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon's FBI application, and any number of other fascinating documents and items. All three of my kids were also really interested, which is notable because there are not a lot of things that my three kids are all into.

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One of my favorites was this display of pens that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson used to sign bills into law.

One of the exhibits was a full-size door that members of a home builders association sent to President Reagan to draw attention to their economic troubles. Jack took a look at the door, listened to the curator explain that it featured signatures on one side and the address on the other, and said, "Excuse me? Excuse me? I think the president was all, 'What the bleep is this door doing in my mailbox!'"

Yep. That's Team Stimey, keeping it classy across the generations.

In my defense, at least Jack says "bleep" instead of actual curse words.

The part of the exhibit that might have captured my kids' attention more than any other was the auto-signing machine that was set up near the exit. This particular machine auto-signed John Hancock's signature.

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Jack might have been more interested in the mechanics of the machine than the result.

We still had a few minutes before the Archives opened to the public so the curator took us to the Rotunda where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are displayed. I may have majorly geeked out there. This may also be the place where I was reprimanded by a guard.

There are no photos allowed in the Archives (barring special permission on a private tour in certain areas), so I'll give you this image provided to me.

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It was incredibly cool to see these documents close up. The Bill of Rights is my favorite.

I asked the curator how accurate the National Treasure depiction of the National Archives was and she told me that even though none of the filming was done there, it was actually pretty close. It is here that I might have to admit to you that my kids love those films and that we own DVD copies of both of them.

I am so ashamed.

Anywho, from there, we headed to the public Family Day activities that were taking place adjacent to the Making Their Mark exhibit. There were all kinds of good activities for all ages.

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Jack matched presidential photos to their quotes and names. He may have needed some help to complete said process.


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Sam recreated John Adams’ signature.


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And Quinn sighed loudly and often.

There were crafts in another room, but the real treasure was the room set up with fountain and quill pens where my kids all learned how to write and draw using a pot of ink. Sam took approximately sixteen years to write a letter to each member of the family and Quinn and Jack drew their cats.

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This is a remarkably accurate representation of Oreo. I certainly wasn’t that good with the quill pen.

I was even retweeted by the @USNatArchives, which was also a kind of geeky high for me.

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My kids are adept at cat drawings.

I feel very lucky that my family was invited to this event. As I say, I've been wanting to take my kids to the National Archives for a long time and this was the best possible way to have a first visit.

That said, your family can visit this exhibit too. The Making Their Mark exhibit is open through January 5, 2015.There will be more Making Their Mark Family Days on July 18 and December 30. There will be Constitution-in-Action Family Learning Labs on April 15, July 10, July 23, and July 29. For more information about these events, as well as others, go to archivesfoundation.org.

*****

In other news, Jack's special hockey team, the Montgomery Cheetahs, is still soliciting donations for their big fundraiser coming up in May. Thank you so much to Sarah Elizabeth, Laura, my friend Heather and her family, and my young friends Katie and Brooke (and their terrific parents) for their donations. You can make your own donation online.