Winter is an Asshole.

I’ve been trying really hard to not complain about the weather this winter because (1) who wants to hear someone complain about the weather, and (2) I don’t live in Boston so I really have no place complaining about the weather.

That said, FUCK THE WEATHER.

Last Thursday’s snow day was the final straw for me. I’m done. Do you hear that, winter? I. Am. Done.

The other day I asked Sam how he felt about winter because it seemed like he would of course say that it was the worst and I would feel comforted by our agreement on the issue. But he was all, “I love winter. School is canceled all the time and I get to go sledding and I don’t care if it’s cold.”

Now I don’t much care for Sam either.

My kids wake up on every school day and, as a matter of course, ask if there is a delay or snow day. At least they tend to sleep in on snow days because they are trying to avoid getting up for what they think is a school day.

Photo taken out my office window of my kids playing in the snow in the front driveway.

Ironically, the only time my kids spent NOT squabbling during Thursday’s snow day was the time they spent hurling chunks of ice at each other.

But for reals. I’m done with the cold. And don’t get me started on the thick coating of salt all over the roads and the cars. Putting aside the obvious sensory nightmare, the other day Quinn slipped on the, like, inch-deep layer of salt on a sidewalk and almost cracked his knees. Enough. Also, ironic.

Last Saturday I was at Sam’s school for an event and it snowed while I was there and the drive home, which normally takes 20 minutes, took me TWO AND A HALF HOURS. It was brutal.

After two hours I finally made it to my neighborhood, but if you remember, I live at the top of a hill. Pro tip: Don’t buy a house at the top of a hill. It took me half an hour to battle my way to the top of said hill. To be fair, that half hour did include the five minutes I spent parked by the side of the road debating whether I should just abandon my car and hoof it home.

I did not. I was not going to let winter beat me. I defeated that hill.

I may have won the Hill Scrimmage in the Last Saturday Snowstorm Battle, but I’m worried that I am going to lost the Winter War.

Tomorrow is the first day of March. It’s supposed to sleet or do something equally horrible, right when I’m going to be standing around at an outdoor event.

Please let spring come soon. I’m so done.

The Future of Stimeyland. Let’s Discuss.

I started blogging in March 2007. I was so happy to have found this medium. I’d been writing for years, but had never found a style that suited me until I discovered what became Stimeyland. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this for eight years. Yet while Stimeyland is still my home, it isn’t the consuming passion it once was.

I write here—and anywhere, really—so much less than I used to. Sometimes it feels as if I might just trail off and never come back. But I still really do love this space, the creativity it lets me express, and the people it puts me in touch with.

Considering how different things are here now, I thought I’d answer some questions that I imagine my invisible reader to have.

Wait. You think you still have readers? There are a couple of you out there and I loooove you. Also, I’m pretty sure my mom still reads here.

How has your approach to blogging changed over the past eight years? While I’ve always considered my primary motivation to be creating a record for my kids and also doing my bit for autism acceptance (and rodent joy), I started years ago with a bigger focus on reaching a lot of people. At this point, I mostly just care that my writing amuses me and satisfies my need to express myself. In fact, I kind of actively don’t want more readers right now. You guys are enough for me.

What’s to blame for your decrease in blogging? Is it because of your job? Is your new house sapping your motivation to write? Is it Alex? It’s probably because of Alex. It’s Alex’s fault, isn’t it? You’re right, it’s totally Alex’s fault. Actually it’s a combination of things. Part of it is that I’m busier now. Part of it is that my computer desk isn’t in front of the TV anymore, so I often sit on my couch all computerless in the evening and hang out with Alex. So, yeah, it’s his fault. But really, a lot of it has to do with a change in how I want to write about my kids.

Kids? Oh, right. I remember them. They’re still around? I don’t write a whole lot about my kids anymore, but I assure you that they are still here. There are all kinds of things I could write about them (and kinda want to), but they’re old enough now that their stories are theirs to tell, not mine. If I’m going to be completely honest, their stories have always been their own and if I were starting a blog now, I would do it very differently. I don’t regret what I’ve written in the past, but it’s not what I want to do going forward.

What’s that thing you used to write about? Autism? Is this still an autism blog? At one point, I felt very comfortable describing Stimeyland as an autism blog. While the fact that I and other members of my family are autistic means that this will always inherently be an autism blog, I don’t specifically write about that topic very much anymore. Part of it is because of that kid stuff up above. Part of it is that I’m still figuring out this stuff about myself and I’m preferring to read others’ insightful words than putting my half-baked thoughts out there.

So what will you write about? I’ll probably mostly torment Alex and tell you about it.

Screen shot of a text: Me: "hi, friend." Me: "I said, HI FRIEND." Me: "I SAID HI FRIEND." Me: "IIIIIIIIIIIII SAAAAAAIIIIIDDD HIIIIIII FRRRRIIIIEEENNNDDDD." Alex: "hi" Me: "What do you want?"I amuse myself soooooo much.

But for real, what will you write about? Myself.

Isn’t that kind of narcissistic? Yeah, totally.

So, really? All about Stimey? I’ll probably write about running and cats and maybe zombies and I still have six elderly gerbils so there are six memorial posts right there. I might toss up shorter posts or photo posts. Really, I’ll write about what amuses me or makes me feel something. Sometimes my family does some sort of activity that I want to write down and remember, so I’ll write about that. Sometimes I’ll write about my kids if it is something that I feel meets my criteria of okay things to write about.

How is this a change from what you’ve already been doing? In recent months, there have been times I’ve wanted to write about something like a fun outing my family has taken and I haven’t, because I’d think, “Who cares about that other than me?” I’m going to start writing about those things. Instead of thinking about my posts as little stand-alone articles, I’m going back to thinking of them as a family history.

So… So…pro: I might write more often; con: it will be stunningly uninteresting to everyone but me.

Ugh. Will you hate me if I unsubscribe? Absolutely not. I never feel bad if people don’t want to read my stuff. I am not everyone’s cup of tea (or tank of gerbils). In fact, we can be friends on Facebook instead of (or in addition). Find my personal page or my Stimeyland page. Or both!

I hate Facebook. I tweeted at you. Why are you ignoring me? I used to love Twitter. Now I check it once every three or four weeks. It is not the best way to reach me anymore. I’m a Facebook girl. I don’t even Instagram because it’s too many sites to check.

How long will you keep writing? Maybe forever. Maybe this post will languish here alone at the top of an abandoned Stimeyland. Who knows? I intend to keep writing, but I don’t want to make any promises. Every time I promise to write about something, I don’t and then I feel bad about myself.

Can I see a photo of a gerbil in an acorn cap? Yes. Yes, you may.

Photo of a white gerbil wearing the top part of an acorn as a hat.

Puzzlin’*

* See here.

I like doing puzzles a lot. It is extremely calming to me. Except for the part where you have to lay out 75 million tiny pieces face up and separate the edges from the middles. I hate that part. But all the rest of it is totally my jam.

I hadn’t done any puzzles for a long time until last week, when I busted one out, grimaced through the laying out of the pieces, and settled in to putting the thing together. I could practically feel my blood pressure decreasing.

Then I went to bed and when I woke up the next morning, I remembered why I hadn’t done any puzzles for a long time.

Screen capture of a facebook status. It's a photo of my cat Starfire sitting directly on top of my partially done puzzle. The words read, "Not cool, Starfire. Not cool."Then, the next morning, this happened:

Another screen cap. This one features my cat Ruby streeeeched out over a still partially undone puzzle. The text reads: "Goddammit, Ruby."She was actively trying to play with the pieces right in front of me. Later, she got puzzle pieces stuck in her fur.

I think you know what is coming next.

Another screen cap, this one with Oreo sitting on the puzzle looking at the camera. The text reads, "Et tu, Oreo?"I don’t know what it is about puzzles that invite cats to sit on them, but I’m grateful that they didn’t use the pieces as a litter box, which has happened to some of the people who commented when I posted these photos on Facebook. Thank you for small favors, little cats.

After I finished it, I passed on my puzzle to my friend and fellow puzzle nerd Heather, who faced similar issues at her house.

A screen cap of my friend Heather's facebook status that is a photo of the same puzzle with two guinea pigs sitting on it. The text reads, "Dagnabbit Poppy and Cow"I did discover a side benefit of Puzzlin’ that had nothing to do with cats or blood pressure.

Photo of Jack putting a piece into a different puzzle.

A puzzle buddy!

Jack was sitting next to me while I was working on this puzzle and at first he was all, “no thanks” and then he saw my little pile of pieces all with orange flowers on them and he started putting them together, which was both delightful and vexing because *I* had spent all the time collecting those pieces and deserved the opportunity to put them together, dammit. But because I am not just an awesome mom, but nearly a saint, I did NOT shove him away and demand he disassemble the orange flower pieces.

It turns out that Puzzlin’ is also conducive to chatting. We talked about competing access needs (Jack’s desire to eat spaghetti versus Quinn’s desire to never see spaghetti—and also actual access needs), whether Jack wanted to help choose his classes for next year or let his teachers do it (let his teachers do it), and if he wants to attend his next IEP meeting (yes, and even better if they serve popcorn).

In fact, It was so much fun that Jack even turned down his brothers when they asked him to come play with them.

Wait. Actually, his brothers asked him to come play and Jack said, “Sorry. This case is more puzzling.”

I know. Puzzles and puns. He’s like the perfect kid.

And he didn’t even lie all over the pieces.

One of Seven, RIP

I was on my way out of the house today to take Sam to bassoon lessons when I glanced at the gerbil tanks. Everything looked fine except I could only see two gerbils in the boy tank, where there are normally three. Mouse was conspicuously absent.

Sadly, Mouse hasn’t been doing very well as of late. He’s been losing weight and has been looking increasingly…rumpled. Mouse was one of the original gerbils and as he was about two and a half years old, I knew he was nearing the end of his lifespan.

I asked Alex to check on him as I left, knowing in my heart what I was going to hear.

Alex says that the other two gerbils had buried him in the corner, covering him with their bedding. Alex exhumed him from that shallow grave and buried him in our rodent memorial ground (newly established), telling him that he was my favorite (he was) and that we all loved him.

Photo of a young speckled white gerbil.

This was the first photo I ever posted of Mouse here. May he rest in peace.

I’ve known that this was coming for a while. It was like this with the mice—several months of a slow withering of numbers. Mouse was the first of what will be a long, sad line of gerbil deaths over the next few months.

Poor little guy. I’m going to miss him.

Photo of me holding Mouse after I first brought him home.

Mouse and I bonded quickly.

Photo of Mouse gripping the outside of his exercise wheel. He was spinning it from the outside.

Mouse was always his own gerbil, doing things his own way.

Photo of Mouse in a tiny Mickey Mouse hat.

And, of course, this.

Two photos, one of a brown gerbil eating out of a gerbil bowl and one of a white gerbil eating off of a seed block.

I gave Creeper and King extra seeds and treats after cleaning their tank this afternoon. It was like an, “I’m sorry you had to bury your father” snack.

The house seems empty without him.