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.

How Not To Fix a Blog

Can we all discuss me and one of my character flaws for a minute?

If, at this point, you have started compiling a long mental list and are trying to figure out which one of those character flaws I am finally going to meet head on, well, you can go to hell. If you can’t come up with a character flaw at all, well, welcome to Stimeyland; this must be your first time here.

The character flaw we are going to discuss today is my tendency to be an overconfident moron and jump in feet first to do things that I have no idea how to do. Eventually I fuck things up SO badly that I have to learn how to do it in my own little haphazard Stimey way and then I know how to do just that exact thing, but it gives me the confidence to jump feet first into the next thing, which I eventually fuck up terribly.

Repeat.

The newest example of me doing this began in September when I freaked out one day and decided to change all my blog service providers and then migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress all in one weekend all by myself. I was all, “How hard could it be? They have procedures all set up and buttons to click to make this happen. I can totally do it.”

Here is what I remember from that whole procedure: I entered my credit card number at a few places, clicked some of those buttons, felt okay about things for a while, started to panic, did some yelling at Alex to “fixitfixitfixitFIXITFIXITFIIIIIIIXXXXIIIIIIIITTTTT!, calmed down, asked everyone I knew for advice, figured out how to fix it, panicked some more, calmed down, and eventually got everything put in enough of an order that people could read my blog again.

I was going to write a post back then about How to Migrate Your Blog From Blogger to WordPress With No Experience and Even Fewer Smarts, but I didn’t get around to it right away and think I blocked the whole thing out because I only have vague memories of what happened and when I looked back through the screenshots I took during that arduous time, this is all I found:

I saw this a lot.

Oh how I hate that sad, disintegrating robot.

I managed, however, to bring my blog to a readable form and even though it isn’t how I want it yet and I have a WHOLE LIST of things I have to do to make it the way I want it, I refuse to hire a designer because I am (a) cheap and (b) irrationally certain I can do this myself.

My next step is to find the right theme for my blog. I currently am using a free one. I am ready to move into a paid theme and maybe a child theme or a skin or whatever terrible Silence of the Lamb-y thing they call it. To do this, you should pay money to a designer, then they will click “install,” and everything is happy and you get to go on your merry, well designed way.

OR.

Or, you pay money to a designer, click “install,” and then lose ALL access to your blog, dashboard panel, and everything. That is how I do things. I didn’t even know which entity that had my credit card number that I should panic to. (Answer: your host—you panic to your host. Then, after your host tells you that they can’t figure out the problem and the “higher-level tech” they checked with can’t figure out the problem and they tell you that they’ll have to email you with the solution later, you panic to your friends.)

I did that last weekend.

Well, what I did was spend a whole day to make my blog even worse than it was before. But at least I eliminated one option of a theme that COMPLETELY didn’t work for me. I know because the exact same thing happened to me twice, even after I followed specific instructions on how to not let the same thing happen a second time. I did learn that the good people behind Genesis are really fast with their customer service. If I had managed to install their theme, I think I would have been very happy with them.

I’m thinking of trying Thesis next, but I am interested in crowd sourcing this as well. Thoughts? Also, I know now that I should disable all my plugins before I install a theme, but I wonder if there are other “everyone knows you’re supposed to do that” things I should do before I click “install” on my next choice.

Seriously, people, I’m desperate. What is something easy to tinker with but awesome and highly customizable? Maybe thoughts on some must-have plugins? Also, I know html, but I don’t know CSS. AND, if you say, “Hire a designer,” you kill a puppy.

An Update on My Open Letter to Dynamite

You know how you work yourself up into a flurry of righteous indignation, storm into an establishment with receipts and a complaint letter in your hand, and hurl your opening salvo only to discover that you were wrong and your entire premise was based on a mistake that you made and is your fault and only your fault? And then you want to say, “never mind,” and race home to delete your blog post on the subject at the same time as you shred the letter you were going to hand to said establishment in a fit of righteous anger?

That is what happened in the first minute of my walking into Dynamite Gymnastics Center this afternoon, where I talked to Michelle and Dov. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, I thought that Dynamite had kicked Quinn out of his gymnastics class, but we hadn’t been told about it. It turns out that I misread what was actually a billing statement. It was confusing because two monthly billing statements had come very close together (like a week apart) because the first one was late going out, according to Michelle. Furthermore, the statement read “(refunded)” right next to the amount I was charged, but I didn’t realize that if the amount wasn’t in parenthesis, that meant it was a charge, not a refund.

I know. I’m considering hiring fact checkers.

I was wrong. I apologize. I assumed that because communication had been so sketchy up to that point, that this was just more of the same.

But.

I am still very glad that I went down there. I am glad I wrote out what bothered me about Dynamite. I am glad I spoke to Dov and Michelle about it. Because, as Michelle herself said, “If there weren’t underlying things at play here, you wouldn’t have come marching in here.” Which is absolutely true. I stand by the things that happened to Quinn prior to my assumption about the billing statement.

Here’s the rest of what happened this afternoon though: Michelle and Dov listened to me. They heard out my complaints. They were kind to me. I feel like they really listened to me and they said that some of these things are issues that they are working on already. They admitted that some of their instructors are great at working with kids but less good at working with parents.

They agreed that communication should have been better. They explained more about what was going on with Quinn. I listened to them. We worked together to hopefully find a solution that will work for Quinn. We are going to move him to a weeknight class and they are going to have a second teacher available to help in that class in case Quinn needs it. I will talk to Quinn and tell him that he really needs to listen and follow directions and participate. Hopefully he can get settled and ease into being successful in the class. They talked to me for 40 minutes.

What happened before was bad customer service. What happened today was good customer service. I am hopeful that things can work out.

Then I had to tell them that I had a letter for them that I had published online. Part of me wanted to just not give them the letter and walk out of there and never mention it to them, but knew that was unfair to them, so I handed them the letter and told them that they would be seeing an update on my website, reflecting what had happened that afternoon.

I regret misreading the billing statement, and I apologize for that and for the assumptions that I made. At the same time, I’m glad that all of this is out of my system. I’m glad that the air is clear and that hopefully we can move forward in a mutually respectful relationship to make Quinn successful at Dynamite. I also hope that they can learn from my reaction to some of the things that happened and hopefully make communication with other families better as well.

Dov said that his goal is to make Dynamite the happiest place in the world for kids, that he wants it to be wonderland for them. I really hope this works out for Quinn. I can’t wait to tell him that he gets to keep going to classes there. I am hopeful and happy and I am grateful to Michelle and Dov for taking the time to make the situation better.