Memories, No Remembering Required

Over the years I’ve had a lot of different reasons why I write this here blog. The one that has remained constant, however, is that writing it preserves memories of my family and our lives that would be lost completely if they weren’t written down.

That is why every year I print out all of my posts and put them in binders so someday it will be easy for me to reread them—or even better, for my kids to read them.

Since I’ve been on Facebook though, I’ve put so many of those perfect little moments that capture my kids and their personalities there instead of on my blog. I’ve been trying to think of a good way to capture all of that. It turns out it is really easy.

I looked around online and found My Social Book. (This isn’t, by the way, a sponsored post. My Social Book knows nothing about me.) This service will take your timeline and put everything posted onto it into a book and then ship it to you in a few days. The way I use Facebook, this was perfect for me. I tend to mostly post photos and anecdotes about my kids, so these will function kind of like scrapbooks without me having to remember everything and put it in an album by myself.

I ordered books for my personal profile and also for my Stimeyland page. They came in the mail this week and they are the greatest things I have ever seen.

Two photos of books. One is orange and says Jean Stimey Winegardner on it. The others are purple and say Stimeyland on them.

They are so pretty. I love them.

Each book can only be a maximum of 500 pages, so I had to split both my profile and my Stimeyland pages into two books each. Now that I have up through 2015 done, I plan to make one for each year from here on out until I stop caring.

They include posts, photos, photo albums and captions. If someone say, posts a photo of you on their timeline and tags you in it, it won’t be printed. But if someone posts something on your timeline, it will get printed, which means I have lots of posts featuring that tiny hamster in that tiny sweater that people keep sharing with me. (It’s super cute, btw.) It also features just a few happy birthday wishes from each year. You can choose to include comments or not and you can choose a maximum number of comments to display if you want to. There is also a QR code for each link you’ve posted, so you can see the content of those links on your phone.

The books are nicely bound and printed on nice paper. The photo quality generally seemed pretty good, but not fantastic. Some of them I couldn’t tell if the quality was the photo’s fault or the book. But since I am making photo books of my actual photos, I don’t need the photos in this book to be perfect. The comments are also sometimes not in the right order and it looks like some of them are missing. So the books aren’t perfection, but for what I wanted them for, they are exactly what I hoped they would be.

They’re super easy to make too. You just put in the name of the page or timeline, specify the years and what photo albums, etc that you want to include and it compiles it for you.

Okay. That’s all done. Now you know about the books. But you don’t KNOW about the books.

Photo of an interior spread of one of my books.

There are so many memories on this page alone.

You guys, it has been amazing to read these books. I’d forgotten so much. Like how I took Algernon to jury duty and how Quinn calmly told me he hated me in an elevator full of people when I was praising him on being brave enough to go up to the top of the Empire State Building and, oh my God, how did we forget about that time we accidentally caught a feral cat in our van?

Not everything is stuff I need to remember, but there are enough precious memories in there to make everything else not matter.

The thing I didn’t expect to rock me were the comments. I started reading my timeline book and skimming the comments and found Susan in there. What a gift.

I love these books. I’m really happy I bought them. I’m still not done looking through them and I’ve already found so much gold in there that they’re worth every penny. Frankly, remembering how I used to be funny and prolific makes me want to write a lot more.

Just thought you might want to know. Now you can consider preserving your own memories while I go relive mine.

 

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.

In Case You Were Wondering Where I’ve Been

I’m at BlogHer. (Hi, Melisa. BlogHer. BlogHer. BLOGHER.)

I have had some incredibly soul satisfying laughter with the right people. I have felt inspired to work harder on my writing goals. I have felt off kilter and not able to get in my groove. But there are some people here, and you probably know who you are, who are feeding me exactly what I need.

Everything has been happening on my Facebook page because I’ve had no time to write, so if you haven’t been there, I’ll bring it here for you. Mostly it’s Algernon being an attention hog, but there is also a sad little story about how the airline lost my luggage and then called me in the middle of the night to tell me they were bringing it to me in the morning and then how I French kissed the front desk guy when he wheeled it out to me.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.20.07 AMAnd then we went to Healthminder Day.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.20.01 AMAnd then we admired the decor.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.19.58 AMAnd then we enjoyed the Cracker Jacks that they had for snacks.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.19.55 AMAnd then we went to a lot of sessions and keynotes.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.19.51 AMAnd then we went to Voices of the Year.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.19.45 AMAnd then we drank and laughed and drank and laughed some more and some of us may have shouted some Janis Joplin songs loudly.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.20.19 AMAnd…scene. I wonder what adventures he will have today?

Intermission

I am going to take a quick break before I continue on to tell you the rest of the story about Jack’s Cheetahs tournament. Hopefully I’ll get to that tomorrow. Until then, you can read about our return bus trip over at White Knuckle Parenting. I’ll tell you something; that wasn’t the best part of the trip—but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

While you do that, I’ll be trying to dig through all the things that happened while I was away. It turns out that all of you continue to, I don’t know…exist even when I’m not monitoring you. That is problematic for me. Just so you know.

I would also like to point you to something else really exciting that happened yesterday. (No, not more gerblets.) Babble put out their annual list of top autism blogs and it turns out to be a really great list, full of autistic people, autistic parents, and non-autistic parents of people with autism. Also, I’m one of those people.

I’m pretty sure my selection has something to do with the gerblets.

I want to wholeheartedly thank Babble, as well as the selection panel who put me on this list. It means a lot to be included with these incredible writers.

Now I just have to figure out a subtle way to drop this information into every conversation I have.

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.

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.

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.

Yes, You’re in the Right Place

MC910216367You may notice that things are a little awry here. The pontificating gerbil is missing. My sidebars aren’t fixed up. Colors are weird.

See, I managed to finally install a custom theme for my blog here and I can tell I am going to be really happy with it, but I have to do some learning first about how to use it before I can, you know, actually use it.

So, if you will, please bear with me and if you see something that seems really terrible, let me know and I’ll make an attempt to fix it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going back to the tutorial videos I’ve been poring over all evening.

Update: The gerbil is back! I am awesome! Thesis theme, you are my bitch! Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of that godsdamned generic text box in the upper right.

Update the Second: I did it! I got rid of the useless text box! I am a HERO. That’s right, a HERO.

Update the Third: It’s almost 1 am. It’s possible I’m a little punchy. I think I’ll go to bed and try to further destroy my blog design tomorrow.