How to Move, Stimey Style

Team Stimey moved today. I’m still kind of in shock that the whole thing happened. I can’t quite believe that I packed my entire house and then some dudes stuffed it all in a couple of trucks and then deposited all of it into a new, awesome house.

We have a lot of work in front of us. We’re still prepping our old house for sale and I have six million boxes to unpack, but the moving of our stuff and our family was a huge hurdle and one that feels really good to check off of our list.

Because it was such a monumental day for Team Stimey, I will now recount it in minute detail for you.

6 am: My alarm goes off.

6:01 am: I briefly consider running away to Mexico with my belongings in a kerchief at the end of a stick, hobo style.

6:02 am: I try to go back to sleep. Avoidance is your friend!

6:22 am: Starfire jumps on the bed to greet the day—and us—by dragging her ass across the covers. Super. Thanks, Starfire. I guess I’m up.

6:34 am: I yank Alex’s pillow out from under his head and put it in a box.

6:59 am: Sam starts complaining about how there’s no spoon for cereal. Or containers for his lunch. Or…food for his lunch. Or…cereal.

7:33 am: I watch someone pick up the stack of old pots that Alex put out on our curb last night, against my protests. I was sure no one would want them. Alex is vindicated. I only see this happen because I am outside putting a heavy metal monkey into my car.

Photo of the interior of my car. There are four plastic storage bins stacked in the car. In front of them stands a metal monkey, about a foot long and several inches tall.

Please don’t look too closely at crumbville.

8 am: I made it all the way to 8 am before I had to open a packed box and dig something out (my cell phone charger).

8:02 am: After I take four giant plastic bins, a huge box, and two laundry hampers (and a metal monkey) to the car all by myself with no assistance, Alex makes me hold the door open for him as he carries a plush cat bed and bowl of food out of the house.

8:14 am: I watch the cutest little impromptu parade down my street as the cats go on a playdate while we move.

Photo of a green lawn and a street. Walking down the sidewalk are Alex and Jack carrying a cat carrier each, accompanied by two of our neighbors who took care of them for the day.

They were well loved and cared for, but I don’t think they want to go on another playdate anytime soon.

8:20 am: Gerbil panic ensues.

Photo taken from outside my car of a gerbil tank sitting on the front seat.

Alex and the gerbils then departed for the new house to wait for an inspector they were meeting there.

8:45 am: The movers arrive. I lead them on a quick tour of the house and they spring into action.

8:59 am: Dude. These guys are hard core.

9:07 am: The movers shrink wrap my couch. I regret not having asked them to shake it first to get all the crumbs out.

9:12 am: A mover looks at our pleather love seat that we have repaired with duct tape and asks if we’re moving it. (The answer is yes.)

9:18 am: Our realtor shows up at the house to pick up keys for the new house because Alex went to the new house without keys after swearing that he didn’t need them. Evidently Alex was going to use the force to unlock the doors. I ask the realtor to tell Alex that he’s a dumbass. The realtor does not pass on the message.

9:40 am: I’m sitting on the floor in a corner of the kitchen to try to stay out of the way of my movers. They are a force of fucking nature. They move boxes by holding them in stacks behind their backs instead of in front of them. I am blown away.

9:41 am: I think about the fact that my floor is fucking FILTHY. (And that’s saying a lot coming from me. My standards are low.)

11:09 am: The movers finally need me again! They ask me where a certain dresser goes. I take waaaaay too long to figure out the answer and then realize that I gave them the wrong information.

11:38 am: Alex come back to the house. I think about locking the door and asking if he brought keys.

12:20 pm: I lose Alex in our own house. The old one, in which I should know my way around.

12:22 pm: He was in the bathroom.

1:19 pm: The movers leave with everything I own.

Photo of a moving truck driving out of my driveway. In the foreground of the photo is a cardboard Minecraft creeper head  on its side.

Except for that creeper head.

2:22 pm: The movers have been taking stuff off the truck at the house for a while. I start to feel bad that we bought a house with so many stairs.

Photo of Alex standing in the door of our new house. There are a bunch of stairs leading to the door.

These are just some of the stairs.

2:34 pm: I feel like an asshole for having so much stuff.

2:42 pm: I decide that I should start throwing money at the movers every time they walk past me carrying my shit. But I don’t.

2:43 pm: I do some calculations and decide that I’ve said, “Thank you; I’m sorry,” approximately 672 times today.

2:48 pm: I return to my old house to pick up my kids from school.

3:19 pm: Quinn arrives home, looks around at our empty house, and says, “This is awkward.”

4:22 pm: I return to the new house with my kids. Much to their delight, Alex has set up the Xbox and has made Minecraft available to them.

Photo of my kids sitting in a mostly empty room except for a TV on a TV stand. They are playing Minecraft.

Thank god he thought of a way to keep them out of the path of the movers.

4:25 pm: One and a half out of two trucks are unpacked. I resume saying, “Thank you; I’m sorry.”

4:49 pm: A mover finds a box labeled “Stimeyland,” which holds binders of printed out posts from this very blog. He says, “I know I’m going to butcher this word. Where do you want the box labeled stih ma land?”

5:01 pm: I start to worry about successfully tipping. I count and recount the bills in my pocket that I have earmarked for tips.

5:11 pm: A mover picks up a box labeled “Random” and looks at me quizzically. Alex is all, “Why write anything on the box at all?”

5:13 pm: Alex follows up by calling me Jean Stinkgardner.

5:15 pm: I continue to hear the movers say the words I have heard them repeat over and over all day, words such as trabajo and trabajando.

5:32 pm: After sitting outside to guide the movers all day, I wander inside and see the number of boxes in one room. I completely freak out. It will take me twenty-four years to unpack everything in my house.

Photo of stacks of boxes in a room.

Oh, good lord.

5:43 pm: Tipping turns out to be fun. People like taking money.

5:47 pm: We pay the movers an obscene amount of money and they leave. It turns out that this part of the day is less fun than the tipping part of the day.

And that was that. Eventually our cats were returned to us, we ate some food, and we sent our kids to bed. Watching my cats explore the house is one of my favorite things that has happened ever. I think they’ll like this house. You know, once they come to terms with the fact that we somehow magically changed the entire place while they were at the neighbors’.

I have unpacking to do, but I’m not doing it tonight. There is time for that tomorrow morning. And the next day. And the day after that.

How Does This Keep Happening To Me?

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THIS WOULD ONLY HAPPEN TO ME.

Please to see the Facebook status I posted yesterday:

Screenshot of a Facebook status. It reads, "HOLEEEE SHIT, YOU GUYS. So. We're giving our pool to our friends because our new backyard isn't fully fenced. BECAUSE IT'S ME, the box of pool parts we took to their house didn't just contain pool parts, but also FOUR BABY FUCKING RODENTS. To do: 1. Send Alex to return babies to our shed in hopes their mom finds them again. (They'll convey with the house!) 2. Check my car for said mother rodent in case she made the ride over here with us. 3. Get to knitting tiny hats." Below the words is a photo of two tiny baby rodents in a cardboard box, surrounded by chewed up paper and assorted pool parts.Yeah. So that happened.

I was so happy to be able to give our pool to our friends so that someone else can get joy out of it and also because hopefully they’ll invite my kids over to swim. So yesterday afternoon I dragged the pool and all of its many parts and supplies out of my backyard shed, stuffed it in my car, and trundled it over to my friends’ house, where Alex and I helped them set it up.

At some point it became clear that mice or rats or, you know, a fucking woodchuck had been living in one of the boxes because it had very efficiently turned one of the pool manuals into a little nest of shredded paper. That’s cool though, because animals live in the outside and it’s not like we found a live opossum in there sitting next to the pool filter. I assumed the rodents had moved on.

We set up the pool and I was fishing through the box to pull out the things my friends would need when I heard squeaking. “Ha,” I thought to myself, “that sounds like baby gerbils. I wonder… No, I’m sure it’s just crickets or something.”

Then I looked closer and I may or may not have cursed loudly and creatively in front of my friends’ kids.

I don’t even know what kind of rodent they are. I just know that we found four of them and transferred them to a box in an effort to return them to their mother. Because although I’m not a huge fan of wild rodents in and near my home, it seemed really mean to starve little blind babies to death. We figured that if we took them back to the shed that maybe their mom would be able to find them again. It was their best chance.

I know. I am a big fucking bleeding heart. I am well aware.

Then, because I do things like this to him all the time, I made Alex deliver the rodents to our house.

Photo of Alex walking away from the camera holding a cardboard box full of baby rodents. He looks highly annoyed.

He was totally delighted to get this assignment.

He returned a little while later with a six-pack of beer and news that he had made a cardboard bed and roof for the little guys under the shed.

Meanwhile, I was checking my car for rodents, just in case the mom had been in the box when I put it in the back seat only to abandon ship before I delivered it to my friends.

In my mind, all I can see is me driving along, singing along to some bad pop song or listening to some earnest NPR story about porches, only to look in my rearview mirror to find Rat Mom standing on the headrest directly behind my right ear. At that point my imagination pictures me screaming and veering off the road into a concrete wall.

While all this was going on, my friends continued to cook dinner for my family instead of kicking us out into the street and hurling pool salt at us.

They’re good people.

So that is the story of the day I gave my pool and a litter of wild rat babies to some close friends. As someone commented on that above Facebook status, you should remember to not take hand-me-downs from Stimeyland.

Epilogue: This evening, after torrential rain, Alex went back to check on the babies and to rebuild their little house. He was distressed because they looked as if they had been tossed around by the weather. He was able to find three of them and reports that they were still alive. I’m hopeful that this means their mom is nearby. The fact that Alex went by to check on the little guys says a lot about him. He tries to make us all think he’s disgruntled, but he has his very own bleeding heart.

If It Makes You Feel Better, I’m Not Running Either

Wait! Come back! I’m still alive, I promise!

I say. It has been quite a week and a half since I’ve last posted. I have so much going on right now—all good, but still overwhelming—but I wanted to stop in and let you know that even if I am only around sporadically in May, I will be back and writing again soon.

My job is going really well. I am really enjoying it. I’m even figuring out the commute. (Future post, right there, I tell you what.)

We close on our new house this Friday. We take possession of it next Monday. There will then be a flurry of painters and plumbers and the people who will change the carpet we don’t like into carpet we do like. We will move the following Friday. Every moment that I am not working or taking care of my kids between now and then will involve boxes and putting things in boxes.

…except for the moments that I am trying to ready our current home to put on the market, which will hopefully happen in mid-June. It turns out that putting a house on the market includes changing all the things you hate about your house all in the time-span of three weeks, making the house you are leaving kind of actually delightful to live in. I’m pretty sure that eventually Alex will no longer spend his entire weekend covered in paint, but I don’t know when that will be.

At least we managed to already successfully celebrate Jack’s birthday, including a Go To the Movies/Play Minecraft Extravaganza with his two best buddies. That said, Quinn’s birthday is this week, and we have not yet successfully celebrated it. Because of his love of meat, we’re taking him and his best friend to Benihana (a first for all of us; we’re excited!) and then hosting a sleepover. I think sleepover activities will include putting things in boxes and the party goodie bags will be trash bags full of crap we don’t want anymore.

All of this sits on top of the regular annual end-of-school-year activities complete with various concerts, parties, picnics, JACK’S 5TH GRADE PROMOTION ACTIVITES(!!!), and the three-day disability awareness event I’m co-planning for Quinn’s school.

There are two possible blog-related results to this barrage to my schedule: (1) I will disappear for three weeks only to re-emerge shaken, a little more gray haired, and living in a new house, or (2) I will post every day as a method of procrastination. Either way, there is a wealth of material here for excellent blog posts and you can be assured that I am taking copious notes to (eventually) share my misery/joy with you.

Back to Work

In the spirit of so very many good things happening to Team Stimey ALL AT THE EXACT SAME TIME ending in happy and overwhelm and more happy and then some anxiety and then a little more happy followed by a big sigh and a substantial amount of sitting on my couch trying to not do anything at all, I have one more piece of news for you.

I have a new job!

It’s not just any job either. I get to be the office manager for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. I am so happy about it. I feel so proud to be able to play a role in supporting this fantastic organization and its cause.

Happily, it is a part time  position that will fit my schedule perfectly and should (hopefully) have almost zero effect on my kids while they are in school, which is fortunate, as Quinn is ADAMANTLY against my working.

I imagine, however, once they hear that they get babysitters over the summer, they’ll be thrilled because they like other people way more than they like me. The will especially like the awesome babysitters I have lined up. (And thank god that is taken care of. Talk about overwhelm. Finding child care was at the top of my list of stressors.)

I start my job Monday. (Maybe at the very time you’re reading this!) It has been a long time since I have worked in an office so I am awash in my attendant anxiety about topics ranging from my new commute to bursting out with something inappropriate upon my arrival at work to one of my kids barfing at school and calling me immediately upon my arrival in DC. Wish me luck, okay?

Viva La Sam

A few weeks ago, Sam came home from school all excited about the Coldplay song Viva La Vida. Evidently his general music class was learning the song for some purpose. (I don’t really know. None of my kids tells me a damn thing about what happens at school.)

Regardless, he downloaded the lyrics to the song and started singing them a lot. Then he had me find him flute music for it and decided he wanted to learn to play the song on the flute.

Wow, he told me, it has [some large number of] measures—or whatever the thingys musicians play are called. And, he continued, it’s hard to play. He tried and got stuck.

I suggested to him that he try to learn the first four measures and once he had those, he should add four more and so on. He agreed that this was a good plan and his home practice sessions became dedicated to Coldplay.

The next time I turned around, he was playing the whole dam song. I was not just proud, but amazed at his determination. Then he told me that there was going to be a first annual concert of some sort at his school featuring a bunch of music acts and he had tried out and his teacher knew another student knew the same song on piano, so he consciously coupled them and Sam was so excited and came home and ACTUALLY TOLD ME WHAT HAPPENED AT SCHOOL, to wit, “We sound awesome together, mom!”

Much more practicing ensued until the concert last week.

They did sound awesome.

Unless you’re related to Sam, you probably didn’t watch that whole video, but I should tell you that it was awesome. I should also tell you that Jack and Quinn sat through the entire two-plus hour concert, which was pretty huge on their parts, so I’m extremely proud of my entire little family.

I can’t wait to see what song Sam asks me to download next.

Sam sitting on a folding chair and holding his flute, which he has resting against his shoulder.

Pre-concert.

Cheetah Proud

I’m going to write about last weekend’s Cheetah-thon because it was fabulous and deserves to be written about, but in terms of getting my point across, if I wanted to, I could just decide that a picture is worth a thousand words and show you this one:

Jack and Alex are ice skating. Alex is in front of Jack and Jack is holding on to the back of Alex's jacket. Alex is smiling. Jack, however, is looking at the camera with an expression of pure, open-mouthed glee. There is so much joy in this photo.

I call this photo: Joy.

Jack loves the Cheetah-thon. Loves it. He is totally in his element there. It makes me so happy to see him so joyful and engaged and silly and relaxed. I think he really likes getting to skate without anyone telling him what to do.

He takes advantage of his freedom by demanding that all of his coaches pull him around the ice—which they do with big smiles on their faces.

Photo of Jack and one of his coaches on the ice. The coach has his hands behind him. Jack is holding those hands and being pulled along the ice.

You might remember similar photos from last year’s Cheetah-thon. And Jack had that same big-ass smile then too.

So, we know that Jack has a good time at the Cheetah-thon, and clearly Alex was having a good time in that photo above (although several days later, his body still hurts from the sudden trips to the ice he took a couple of times), but what about the rest of Team Stimey?

Sam had a really good time. One of my friends came and brought her kids, whom Sam really likes, so he got to play around with them. Plus, he was able to goof around with his brothers. Some days he is such a chill little dude. (Or, rather, a chill giant dude. Seriously, once he put his ice skates on, he was as tall as many of the adults.)

He does like to hassle me though. At least he does it in a sweet, exasperating manner.

Sam smiling with his hand up in an effort to block the camera.

Sam doing his best anti-paparazzi impression.

So Jack, Alex, and Quinn had fun. But what of Quinn? Quinn does not ice skate. Quinn doesn’t even like being inside ice rinks. Quinn and his brothers were invited to a friend’s ice skating party a few months ago and Quinn spent most of the party in tears because of the cold and the environment. I was worried that the Cheetah-thon would be the same way for him.

Fortunately, I am not above bribery, so I gave him money right off the bat to buy a giant pretzel and didn’t even bother asking him if he wanted to skate. In fact, I was so sure he wasn’t going to skate that I didn’t even bother bringing a helmet for him.

Quinn ran around for a while while everyone else skated and I took photos and chatted with my friends. Then…oh my god…you guys…QUINN ASKED IF HE COULD SKATE. I think the excitement and the fun of the event seeped into him and he couldn’t resist.

I hadn’t brought a helmet for him, but fortunately due to the helmet snafu of last winter, I had an extra one in the car—and it fit him perfectly. I couldn’t have been more pleased. In addition to being amazed that Quinn was willing to skate, I was also amazed that he was willing to wear a hockey helmet with a facemask and everything.

Quinn took exactly one lap around the rink. (It took him 20 minutes.) I couldn’t have been more proud of him. I would show you a photo of him looking adorable in his helmet or skating on the ice, but he forbade me from taking a picture and/or posting it on my blog. HUGE SAD FACE.

Instead, I’ll show you this photo of him smiling at his pretzel.

Quinn holding a paper plate on which is a giant, soft, salty pretzel. His eyes are looking at the pretzel and he has a huge smile on his face.

Seriously. It’s the only photo of Q from that night that I can publish without him getting mad at me.

I had a blast too. One of my good friends came with her family, including one of my relay race team members that I hadn’t seen for a long time and was stoked to hug. I ran around taking photos, handing out money to my kids (and Alex) for food (and raffle tickets). I talked to my friends. I goofed around. It was great.

It was a triumphant night for Team Stimey.

Oh, and the Cheetahs did a great job of fundraising and met our goal. That too.

It was fantastic all around. I love this team and our community. I am so grateful for their support and also for your support. Thank you to those of you who donated money to the team. Thank you to those of you who donated items for the raffle. Thank you for those of you who attended the event. Thank you to those of you who sent love and good wishes. Just thank you all. We feel your support and we are so grateful.

Thank you for supporting Jack and his wonderful team. We are so grateful for every single dollar. If you are still in the mood to donate, you can still do so online.

Hockey season is over for the summer. I have my Saturday mornings back so I can sleep in. But as always, I will miss both practice and the people it brings into my and Jack’s lives. Fortunately they aren’t really gone and, partially thanks to you, they’ll be back weekly come fall.

Photo of Jack skating straight toward the camera.

Some Days Do Not Go As Expected

I was going to write about the Cheetah-thon tonight because it was super awesome, but then Alex was installing a dishwasher and there was a sudden, house-wide power outage and a whole lot of cursing and some assertions of, “It would be best if this was never, ever spoken of ever again…”

“But—”

“No, for real, Jean. You should stop talking. Now.” [paraphrase]

So, I had less power-aided internetz time to write than I had planned for tonight, so I will save my Cheetah-thon stories and my happy, non-tonight memories for later.

Instead, I will give you two photos of Starfire because if that isn’t happy making, I don’t know what is. Also, because I think blogging about tonight qualifies as talking about it, I’m hoping these photos will make Alex less likely to divorce me over the Dishwasher Incident of 2014.

The first is of Starfire and her lovey.

Starfire on top of a folded blue blanket, with a cat toy made up of a black wand (for human waving) and a sort of ratty, long fabric strip for her to play with.

I took this photo during the ten minutes Starfire sat on this blanket, purring at top volume while desperately kneading said blanket.

That toy is technically one that a human is supposed to have a part in playing with, but I don’t think that is Starfire’s hope. Mostly she just drags the thing around and then manically kneads at it while making some sort of extremely loud cat noise. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with it on top of me. I am terrified that it will get lost in our move.

Next up: Chillaxing Starfire.

Photo of Starfire in the top section of her cat post. All that is visible is her head, chest, and one front arm, which is slung over the side of the post. She looks like the passenger in a car.

This photo is best if you imagine her as the passenger in a convertible, listening to some tunes.

Now I have to go apologize to Alex for being annoyed at him as he tried to better our lives. Reason #867 you are glad you’re not married to me.