Bambi Meets Snowzilla

(In case you’re wondering, the “Bambi” referred to in the title is ALL OF THE DC AREA.)

It snowed this weekend. I don’t know if you heard.

EVERYTHING shut down. It was amazing. The farthest I ventured from my house so far this weekend is four houses down to rescue my children on their return from sledding and I fell down twice and had to go inside and sit down after I was done. It is a SCENE out there.

It’s difficult to really show the magnitude of this snowfall because all the photos I took just look like us standing pathetically in a lumpy white landscape.

Photo of me in winter gear standing in front of a pile of snow that is taller than my shoulders.

I made a hill.

Photo of Alex standing in a partially shovelled driveway, with heaps of snow piled along the side.

Alex made a whole series of hills.

And then it snowed for ten more hours.

Happily, we didn’t lose power all weekend, which, frankly, was just about the only thing I really cared about. The thought of hanging out through days of no heat sounded horrifying. I’m also grateful that no trees fell on my house.

Photo of my backyard covered in snow. On the far left, you can see the treehouse, still triumphantly up in the tree.

And the treehouse is still standing!

At one point on Saturday, Alex and I were busy shoveling and we sent the munchkins down the street and around the corner to the sledding hill. They didn’t last long.

Quinn reappeared first as a black dot way down the street. He got bigger and louder as he approached, but happily, he wasn’t crying. He actually seemed to be in pretty good cheer, which was a nice surprise. “One of my legs isn’t working!” he shouted. Then he fell down. “There goes the other one!”

Photo of a field of white snow, with a small black dot of Quinn approaching. He's falling over.

(Click to embiggen.) This photo perfectly exemplifies the verb “to trudge.”

Most people hadn’t shoveled their sidewalks yet, so the going was pretty tough. We cleared ours early. It was fun to watch kids walking to and from the sledding hill discover the sidewalk path. We were definitely the best house to walk past.

Sam and Jack had a tougher time making it home. Quinn had left Sam in charge of bringing home all three sleds and an extremely bummed out Jack. I noticed them slogging along together waaaay down the street. They were kind of blurry blobs. Then the bigger blurry blob picked up the smaller one and started to carry him. That’s when I knew there was trouble.

Photo of Sam carrying Jack, cradled in his arms. It's really hard to see though.

It’s hard to see that Sam has Jack cradled like a baby here. It was impressive, if short-lived.

By the time I reached them, Jack had lost a shoe and was lying in the snow crying because he couldn’t feel his foot. All said, it was a reasonable reaction. Also, the fact that Sam didn’t just leave Jack to fend for himself speaks very highly of him.

They didn’t leave the house again for a very long time.

Thank God there was sun today (coincidentally, Sunday). Also confused cats.

Photo of Sharky looking at the back sliding door, where snow is piled up against it.

Sharky: “Something is different, but I just can’t quite put my paw on it.”

When I looked out the window and saw that the street had finally been plowed, I was delighted.

Photo taken from second floor of my house of the very snowy street in front of my house. The road is plowed.

Do you see that beautiful flat road? That means access to the outside world.

Or so I thought. See that area at the end of the driveway between the two piles of snow? That’s, like, three-foot deep snow that had to be cleared. And sadly, it turns out that Alex and I are the adults in the situation and there was no one but us who was going to shovel it.

The munchkins fought their way out of the driveway and then took a much easier walk down the plowed road to the sledding hill while Alex and I chipped away at the snow.

Photo of Alex standing in the driveway next to almost waist high snow. The driveway is partially shoveled.

I was the first to battle my way out.

Sadly, however, one path that required a long step over a pile of ice chunks wasn’t going to release the car. So Alex and I kept at it, shovelful by shovelful, each of which had to be hurled over our quickly growing piles.

Me standing in front of a pile of snow that is taller than me.

We made our pile bigger.

Our children eventually came back from sledding. Sam disappeared inside and Quinn made some microwave popcorn only to reappear twenty minutes later with the demand, “Mom! Make me an igloo!”

It must be nice to be ten and oblivious.

(I didn’t make him an igloo.)

Jack stuck around and helped us by chiseling away at the icy crust on the pile and throwing snowballs at me from his perch on top of our new hills.

Photo of Jack leaning over the top of a snowbank.

He’s lucky he’s cute.

It only took Alex and I a couple of hours to clear the driveway, remove the car’s snow hat, and make sure the car could back up out of its snow nest. Earlier in the day, I had wondered if I could put on my Yaktrax and go for a run in the streets. Now I just want to sit on the couch for the rest of my life and enjoy the thought that if I wanted to, I could go somewhere.

Screenshot of a facebook post of mine, which is a photo of Alex with arms up in celebration after I made it to the street. The caption reads "WE'RE FREE!!! WE MADE A HOLE TO THE STREET!!"

For the record, I don’t want to.

Something TERRIBLE Has Happened

Alex let me sleep in on Sunday morning. He had plans to take Jack and Quinn to get hair trims. Their hair was getting a little shaggy, so we thought it would be a good idea to neaten things up by having the barber cut a couple inches off the ends for each of them.

Jack was down with the plan. Quinn, who hates haircuts and also hates the aftermath of haircuts when everyone notices and talks about his haircut, had grudgingly agreed.

That was the plan when I went to bed Saturday night.

I woke up on Sunday morning to Alex shaking me and frantically waving his hands around and asking me if I’d gotten the texts he’d sent. “Something went seriously wrong,” he was saying. “It’s not okay. Things went badly.”

I swear to God, I thought someone had died.

Alex was finally able to communicate that the disaster was haircut related and I picked up my phone and read my texts.

Screen capture of a text exchange between Alex and I: Me: "Did you get brownie mix? If not, I'll stop at the grocery store. (Read Yesterday); Alex: No (Today 9:47am) Alex: Quinn's haircut has gone a little sideways. It is important for you to not mention it when we get home. Alex: Spiro cut off too much hair. Even I'm annoyed.

I know. And he didn’t get the fucking brownie mix either.

Sideways?! SIDEWAYS?! ALEX, YOU HAD ONE JOB.

You guys. Jack and Quinn both have short, boy haircuts now.

Clearly, I am devastated.

They both still look cute, but…omg their beautiful hair. Jack likes his haircut because it is easier to comb, but I miss his gorgeous long, thick hair. Still, I suppose it is HIS hair and he gets control over it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pout about it.

Quinn, on the other hand…well, Quinn was a serious problem. He didn’t even let me see his hair until five or six that night. He wore his coat over his head for a couple of hours and then switched to a hat once I found one for him. I had a feeling that his first day back at school would be less than ideal.

I wrote an email to his teachers, excerpted here:

Something terrible has happened. I let my husband take Quinn for a haircut this weekend, where he was supposed to get a neat little trim that no one at school would notice.

BOOM! BLAM! KAPOW!

Things went poorly. Evidently the husband read a magazine like it was his first day parenting Quinn and the barber went unsupervised and things spiraled out of control and now Quinn has short hair.

So. The reason I tell you is not just because my baby’s beautiful golden hair is gone. But because he is going to be very sensitive about it on Tuesday.

It turns out that Quinn did very well today. His wonderful teachers let him wear a hat all day and Quinn says his hair is growing back already, so it looks like things are going to work out okay. Also, we shouldn’t be too hard on Alex. He did tell and show the barber what Quinn wanted done. We can’t blame a rogue barber’s actions on Alex.

(Sam: “I’m so glad I didn’t go.”)

Poor kiddo though. Our two outcomes are (1) I am now in charge of boy haircuts and (2) Quinn never goes back to Spiro the barber again.

And now we begin the long process of sitting back and watching hair grow. I just thought I should let you know so you wouldn’t be surprised in case Quinn ever lets me take and post another photo of him. Chances of that are about 50/50.

Telling Kids They’re Autistic: I Want Your Stories

Hi, friendos! I will be speaking on a panel later this month aimed at parents who want advice on talking to their kids about their autism diagnoses. I have LOTS of things to say about this. My kids have known about their neurodivergence almost as long as I have. I think that it has helped them so much in terms of self esteem, self awareness, and self advocacy. I am hoping that in the future it will continue to provide them with these things as well as a community of people like them.

But much as I think my ideas are the best and only ideas in the world, I’m pretty sure they’re not. I’m interested in hearing your stories so I can share some of them (anonymously).

I am particularly interested in hearing from autistic people about when they learned they were autistic, whether as a child or an adult and how it affected them. I would also love to hear from parents so I can share some of your stories as well.

I’ve given you some prompts below, because I’m helpful that way. If you would be so kind as to tell me what category you fall into and tell me a little bit of your story (short or long), I would be so grateful. You can leave a comment or email me at stimeyland@gmail.com.

The presentation is at the end of the month, but I’ll be sure to write about some of your responses here as well after the event.

Your writing prompts:

Autistic people: How did you find out you were autistic? Who told you? How did they tell you? How did it change things? If you learned this later in life, how do you think it might have changed things when you were younger if you had known then? Do you have advice for parents who are thinking about this process?

Parents of autistic people: Have you told your child? Why or why not? If you have, what was their reaction? Do you think you made the right choice? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Autistic parents: Hi, fellow travelers! Let me know either or both of your experiences!

Also, you all are nice and extremely good looking and my favorites.

I Am the Greatest Parent in the History of Parents

I got Quinn the most amazing present for Christmas. It was so good that he didn’t even care that it didn’t arrive until today.

Quinn actually came up with the idea for the gift. He is so bonded to his cat, Oreo, that when we go on vacation he has a really hard time sleeping without her. (I suspect that she has her own problems sleeping without him as well. They are weirdly codependent.)

When faced with an overnight trip that his class takes in the spring, Quinn was worried that he would have trouble without Oreo. He suggested that a stuffed animal that looks like Oreo would help. That led us to start investigating the world of custom stuffed animals.

Enter Cuddle Clones.

Enter Fake Oreo.

Photo of Oreo the cat sitting next to a virtually identical stuffed animal replica of her.

I was nervous that she wouldn’t turn out right. I should not have had this worry.

I opened the box while Quinn was at school and spent the rest of the day tapping my foot waiting for the moment I could give her to him. He knew she was coming this week, so I had to hide her box until Alex got home because Alex wanted to see The Reveal.

Oh, it was worth it.

Photo of Quinn holding Fake Oreo. He has a huge grin on his face.

This was his first look at her.

I asked Quinn if he liked her. He said, “No.” <looooong pause> “I LOVE her!”

Fake Oreo spent the rest of the evening freaking us out by making us think Oreo was sitting in funny places around the house. This might be a huge problem.

If you are so inclined to purchase an extravagant gift for the animal lover in your life, you should know that you can sign up for Cuddle Clones’ email list and take advantage of one of the many discounts they offer. It also takes a long time for them to make your clone. I think I ordered Fake Oreo in early November. And you will need to provide MANY photos, including one of the animal’s tail and butt area.

In return, you will get a stuffed animal that is a detailed replica of your animal, right down to the black spot on her left front wrist. Seriously. Amazing.

There is nowhere to go from here. I’ve done it. This was the gift to end all gifts…the coping tool to end all coping tools…the joy to end all joy. Job accomplished.

Close up of Quinn and Fake Oreo's face. He is so happy.

Stimey’s 2016 Races

Photo of me running next to words that say "Stimey's 2016 Race Calendar"January 1: New Year’s Day 5K
5k
Reston, VA
Official time: 35:26

February 7: Penguin Pace
5k
Columbia, MD
Official time: 36:40

March 30-April 11: Zombies, Run!
10k
Virtual race
Official time: 1:14:01

April 3: Mission 10 Miler
10 miles
Frederick, MD
Official time: 1:52:55 (PR)

April 24: Pike’s Peek
10k
Rockville, MD
Official time: 1:08:25

May 1: Pittsburgh Half Marathon
13.1 miles
Pittsburgh, PA
Official time: 2:45:07

May 21: Germantown 5 Miler
5 miles
Germantown, MD
Official time: 55:42 (PR)

June 18: Suds and Soles
5K
Rockville, MD
Official time: 33:48

September 18: Revenge of the Penguins
10 miles
Carderock, MD
Official time: 2:05:14

October 9: Army Ten Miler
10 miles
Washington, DC
Official time: 1:57:22

November 6: Across the Bay 10K
10k
Annapolis, MD
Official time: 1:16:37

November 12: Oceans 50 Relay Race
50 miles, 6 people
Flagler County, FL
Official time: 8:30:42

November 19: Run Under the Lights
5K
Gaithersburg, MD
Official time: 36:22

November 24: Turkey Chase
10K
Bethesda, MD
Official time: 1:20:50

 

Resolve

We’re all agreed that New Year’s resolutions start the first Monday of the new year, right? Like, we weren’t supposed to stop eating pints of ice cream in one sitting on Friday, right?

At first, my resolution was going to be Improve All Aspects of My Being All At Once. I was going to get thin, run a marathon, save money, live in a clean house, read all my unread books, get a ton of sleep every night, and be a perfect mom. This seemed like a reasonable and immediately gratifying goal.

But then I decided that it might be more realistic to not expect my life to drastically change with little effort on January 4th. So I came up with three more achievable goals that I can focus on.

My first resolution partly relates to you. I intend to write more this year. I’ve decided to try to blog twice a week. I miss writing and I miss having a record of my family’s doin’s, so hopefully you’ll see more of me here. This is post #1 for the week. Look at me! I’m accomplishing my resolutions RIGHT NOW!

My second resolution is to turn my digital photos into photo books. I have hundreds of photographs on disc and in the cloud. I am the only one who ever sees them. And frankly, I can’t see a future where someone looks through my computer files to enjoy the photos. At one point, I intended to get prints of many of them and then put them in photo albums, like I’ve done with photos since I was in high school. But then I remembered that there are places that will do this for you. I plan on choosing the best photos from my files and then creating photo books from them. I already made a test one and am happy with the results. And I’ll be glad that my family will be able to enjoy the photos more easily.

My third resolution is the hardest to achieve. It’s something that I’ve danced around in previous resolutions but never quite dared to say aloud because if you say it and fail, it is embarrassing and sucks more than just failing. But if you don’t say it, you are almost guaranteed to fail. In 2016, I want to significantly change my body shape and lose a noticeable amount of weight. In terms of body health, I am in it for the long game. I am okay with slow change, but I want change. My body is healthy and it is strong, but I’m ready for it to not have to work so hard to do the things I want it to do. I have some big running goals coming up in the next year and if I don’t lose weight before I do them, it’s going to be harder and I’m going to be slower achieving them. I may fail at this one, but I’m going to make an effort. I have specific plans in place to make this work and Alex is on board with me too. Don’t judge me if you see me eating cookies or something though. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

All right. I have a few hours before Monday. I’m going to sit around slothfully and eat ice cream during them. And tomorrow I will start making small, realistic changes in hopes of achieving my goals. Let me know what your resolutions are too. Maybe we’re doing the same thing. Happy new year!