Kids in the Grass

My kids like doing a lot of things that I think seem less fun than beating myself over the head with a brick. I could make a list, but the thing that has been in front of my mind lately is this:

Quinn and Jack wrestling on a grassy hillThey wrestle all the time. ALL THE TIME. At home they will retire to Jack and Quinn’s bedroom and wrestle and throw things at each other. Or they will go to the basement and I will hear nothing but thumps and thuds and the occasional scream. Then, when Sam has soccer practices, Jack and Quinn will hurl each other to the ground and sit on each other and mash their faces into the grass and generally do all kinds of horrible things to each other, all while laughing hysterically. Bonus if there is a hill, so gravity can play a part.

I don’t get it.

Maybe that is because when I was a kid, my sister and her friends would wrestle me to the ground in a less even matching of skills. One memorable day, they tied me up in a vacuum cleaner cord, then dragged me up the stairs and threw me out on the back porch. In front of my mom. Who laughed.

Wrestling: not really my thing.

Regardless of my personal scars, it makes me so happy to watch them play this way. They end up in tears far less often than you would think and giggle and get more exercise than when they do almost anything else.

Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see them rolling around on the ground screaming and sitting on each others’ faces and stuff. Although probably people just ignore all of us except when they roll into someone. Which does happen occasionally.

The point of this whole post (other than to exercise my typing fingers) is so that next time my kids can’t seem to get along for more than 15 seconds and they’re all screaming at each other and I’m hiding from them under a blanket on the couch, I can look back at this and remember how much my kids love each other, how much they like each other, and how much fun they can have with just a patch of grass and their muscles.

One Week

I don’t know if I have let a week pass between posts on Stimeyland EVER, but I see that this is what I have done.

I hate that I have been writing less, and there are a number of reasons why, some of which are interesting and probably worthy of their own posts and one of which is that my life with my kids in school is way less fun and Stimeylandish than it used to be when the munchkins were around all the time. Also, it feels weird and narcissistic to just write about myself, but this is a blog, so maybe I should just get over that and navel gaze all over myself already.

Even though I didn’t write about them, things continued to happen in Stimeyland. (I know. It surprised me too.) Here are some of them:

• Depression continues. I am trying to remember to choose laughing over crying. (See my philosophy under my photo up there ⤻)

• I am looking into Quinn’s…issues. We had a session with meanest neurologist ever. Quinn was unphased (thank God). I was near catatonic for the remainder of the day.

• My kids’ school district holds a multi-day cultural arts showcase where dozens of acts that want to perform at assemblies and the like give 15-minute performances for PTA representatives to watch in hopes that we will hire them for our schools. I attend for one of my kids’ schools. I gotta tell you, that mime I watched today totally cheered me up. I am not kidding. He was awesome. Changed my whole goddamn day. Who would’ve thunk it?

• “Thunk” is a spellcheck-approved word.

• I just realized that “thunk” is a spellcheck-approved word because it is a sound, not the colloquial past-tense of “think” like I want to imagine it.

• “Spellcheck” is not a spellcheck-approved word.

• The kittens are rapidly turning into cats, but are still über-adorable and wonderful. They are going to be good cats.

Small, black kitten cuddled in arms with one paw across her chest and one cupping her forehead.

This is Ruby. I think she was being cute on purpose. Kittens know how to do that, you know.

• I had some people invited to my house for an outdoor activity last weekend, but it was supposed to rain all day, so I canceled it, but then it didn’t rain specifically for the hours of said outdoor activity and I was mad, annoyed, and depressed for the whole day because of it. I would have felt a lot better had it rained.

• I haven’t gone running for weeks. I’m starting to suspect that this might be related to the crushing depression.

• We went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 last weekend. It was hilarious. You should go see it.

• Jack and I had a really amazing encounter in a Panera Bread the other day. Sometimes people are good. I Facebooked it:

Stimeyland Facebook status reading: "Dear ladies with the baby in Panera: Thank you for letting Jack hug your baby when he asked. Thank you for engaging—really engaging—in conversation with him. Thank you for your response when Jack put his arm around me and said, "My mom and I are both autistic." Thank you for not giving a sad head bob, but rather for saying, "I love the things that make us unique!" Just, thank you. For the whole thing. (Your baby is adorable.)"

Please just ignore that first, errant comma.

• Sam turned 12 over the weekend and we took him to Medieval Times to celebrate. Holy shit, you guys, Medieval Times with my kids was the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cannot properly express how much fun we had—although I will attempt to in a stand-alone post that I will hopefully write tomorrow.

Sam holding a green Medieval Times flag.

It was motherfucking delightful.

There. I wrote. I feel minorly better about myself now. Baby steps.

We Survived Hersheypark (Almost) Intact!

Remember how Team Stimey was headed to Hersheypark over the weekend? Well, we went and we survived and we only had one choking incident and one injury that resulted in facial scarring.

For Team Stimey, that’s almost like a perfect vacation.

I took a gajillion photos and have a ton of stories to tell you, but I am tiiiiiiired tonight, so I’ll put that off until tomorrow.

Tonight I’ll give you this photo of Mouse, who made me happy by actually using the exercise wheel in his cage, but who did it all kinds of wrong.

Even my gerbils march to the beat of their own drummers.

He did this for a really long time. It was hilarious.

Until tomorrow!

Three Weeks to Go

Is the end of the school year killing anyone else? I feel like I have two or three events to fit in every single day for the last three weeks of school. With three kids in three schools, that means that I don’t even get to kill three birds with one stone. I have three spring concerts. Three end of the year parties. Sixty-five field trips.

Seriously. These kids go on a LOT of field trips.

That doesn’t even include Geo Bowls, regular volunteer gigs, and 504 meetings.

This week alone, there was that great concert at Jack’s school, a field trip for Jack and a field trip for Quinn, and a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Sam’s fifth grade class.

I have to tell you, I think the play wins for best event of the week. It was phenomenal. Sam’s teacher created this fantastic 40-minute adaptation of The Tempest that the entire class took part in. It was absolutely amazing.

I took both Jack and Quinn out of school so they could go with me to watch, partly because I wouldn’t have gotten home in time to pick them up from school after the play and partly because they really wanted to go.

I wasn’t sure about their attention span and how well they would follow, you know, Shakespeare, but they both sat quietly on the floor and watched, rapt. Watching them in the audience was nearly as good for me as watching Sam in the play.

I don't have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I don’t have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I was beyond impressed by this fifth grade class. Every one of them did so well. Afterward, I could barely restrain Jack until the audience (made up of the other classes in Sam’s school) left because he was all, “I want to go hug Sam!”

(I did too.)

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

It was all very cool. Also, I feel I should let you know that I didn’t even read Shakespeare until I was in 9th grade. Kids these days.

After yesterday’s theater experience, today I chaperoned the second grade field trip to the Natural History Museum. Parts of it were a lot of fun. Quinn made it about 3/4 of the way through before he melted down.

I think I took this photo on the cusp between "Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!" and "I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW."

I think I took this photo on the cusp between “Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!” and “I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW.”

Quinn pretty seriously lost his shit right in the middle of the dinosaur exhibit. Poor guy.

Before we embark on next week’s many elementary school adventures, we’re talking a little Memorial Day weekend vacation to Hershey Park. This will be my kids’ first time at an amusement park. I imagine that is will go spectacularly.

Spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, that remains to be seen.

Honestly, considering my family, we’ll probably have a little bit of both. And that’s perfectly all right by me.

The Day of 1000 Cakes

Guess who is 8 years old today. No really. Guess.

Did you guess this shifty looking dude?

Did you guess this shifty looking dude?

‘Cause you’d be right.

Quinn was a little bummed out that his birthday fell on a school day, so we worked really hard to make sure he felt it was special. We let him open a couple of gifts first thing in the morning (including that awesome Minecraft shirt in the photo above) and we gave him cake almost immediately upon waking.

I should explain the cake. We have these awesome neighbors. Every year for Christmas they bring us a coffee cake. Quinn LIVES for this coffee cake. Every single time my neighbor walks into our house, Quinn runs up and asks if she has coffee cake with her.

She almost never does.

But! A couple of days ago, she brought over a coffee cake so Quinn would wake up to it this morning. I hid it in the freezer and pulled it out last night and put it on the counter. You should have seen his face. He was DELIGHTED.

Cake count: 1

Then it was off to school where he was celebrated on the bus with the happy birthday song and his classroom, where he shared mini-cupcakes and was celebrated again.

Cake count: 2

I had a brand new bag of flavor blasted goldfish crackers (his favorite) for him when he got off the bus, but he skipped those and went straight for leftover cupcakes.

Cake count: 3-5

I collected all my kids and we did homework and then I let Quinn open one more gift. (I made him wait until Alex got home from work to open most of them. I am terribly cruel.) This one gift, however, held him over for a while because it was the greatest gift in the history of gifts.

SNOWCONE MAKER!

SNOWCONE MAKER!

That’s right. I bought a large device that only does one thing—a thing that the ice maker in the refrigerator door pretty much does already—and is basically a delivery device for sugary syrup. This is probably the biggest waste of money in the world. But you know what?

I think you'll agree that it was worth every penny.

It was worth every penny.

Happily, Alex arrived home shortly after I sugared them up and Quinn was able to (finally) open his gifts.

We now own all of the Minecraft things. All of them. No really.

We now own all of the Minecraft things. All of them. No really.

After that, we ate dinner and then…

Wait. What did we do after dinner? Oh, right.

Cake.

Even better, ice cream cake covered in tiny plastic cats.

Even better, ice cream cake covered in twelve tiny plastic cats.

Cake count: 6

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Don’t be alarmed, Sam. They’re just…sizing you up…you know…for later.

Happy birthday to my funny, quirky, smart, adorable, hilarious Q-ball. You’re the awesomest 8-year-old I know. (And that’s saying something, because I know some pretty cool 8-year-olds.)

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One of these cats was “scary” and didn’t make the final cut.

And with that, I bid adieu to birthday season until October. Thank God.

Jean and Jack Day

It’s not too late to talk about Mother’s Day, is it? Because I’d really like to talk about Mother’s Day. See, Sunday wasn’t just Mother’s Day in Stimeyland, but also Jack’s birthday. We were only a silver anniversary away from the perfect storm of celebration.

Wait a minute! Maybe we can achieve this perfect storm of celebration if I show you this slightly blurry photo of Gerbil Mother’s Day:

Although it probably doesn't count if I took the photo a month ago, does it?

Although it probably doesn’t count if I took the photo a month ago, does it?

Mother’s Day was pretty much overshadowed by Jack’s birthday, which was totally fine with me, especially because I got the best handmade cards and gifts I could have possibly gotten. Sam made me a paper Minecraft cake and sang a song to go along with it, complete with an illustrated companion book.

Jack made me a bead necklace and a paper flower, along with a note that I had to hide from my other kids because it mentioned the secret iPad time he gets in the morning if he has good behavior at school the day before.

Quinn typed up a little note that said, “I love you and you are good. So I think you should get to sleep in 5 more minutes than you usually do. Then get dressed, come downstairs and fix us breakfast.” Then, he poked at me, said, “I regret putting my thumb in your armpit,” and ran to the bathroom to frantically wash his hands. Because I have cooties, evidently.

Also, Alex got me the best Mother’s Day card that he could possibly have given to a non-hugger autistic person like me.

I laughed and laughed. Alex gets me.

I laughed and laughed. Alex gets me.

We then moved on to Jack’s big day. He opened presents and then all the males in my house played Minecraft together until I threatened to walk out of the house and go on Jack’s Big Birthday Outing all by myself because we were going to a petting farm and I wanted to pet some farm animals, thank you very much.

Also, Minecraft is stupid.

I finally bent my entire family to my will and we headed out to the farm. Where did we go, you ask? Why don’t we let Sam tell us?

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He asked me to take this photo. It was the best Mother’s Day gift I could have asked for.

Wait. Where did you say you were again?

IMG_9933

This would only be better if spoilsport Quinn had shown his face. God, I love my family.

There were all kinds of animals to pet and feed at this farm. Unfortunately, Jack was unexcited about all of them.

Wait. I mean he was SUPER excited about all of them.

Wait. I mean he was SUPER excited about all of them.

We started with the fowl. My kids think chickens are really funny. Except Sam. Sam was a little bit afraid of the chickens. That’s probably a smart move seeing as how chickens are exceptionally pointy. In reality, however, chickens are probably more scared of us than we are of them.

This chicken in particular.

This chicken in particular.
He was trapped in a Team Stimey-chicken sandwich—otherwise known as a chicken sandwich.

We saw every animal at the farm. We were allowed to pet all of them except for the zebras. I assume this is because every time I have seen zebras in captivity, there is a sign that warns people that fingers look like carrots* and you shouldn’t stick said fingers in zebra pens because zebras are assholes and will eat your hand.

Naturally, I asked Alex to put his finger in the zebra pen.

He's really half assing feeding his finger to the zebra though. You can tell from the photo.

He’s really half assing feeding his finger to the zebra though. You can tell from the photo.

We also saw the pig race.

I felt that this was a little demeaning, but they didn't seem to mind.

I felt that the race was a little demeaning, but the pigs didn’t seem to mind.

One of those pigs was galloping. The other one sort of ambled at a fast trot. Once they raced, they ate out of their little piggy bowl and the first one snorted angrily and shoved the second one every time the second one tried to eat some food. I was all, “Hey! That first one is like me!”

There were a lot of baby animals at the petting farm. There were baby birds, pigs, llamas, bison, goats, a cow, and sheep.

This baby sheep made a whiny, complainy bleat that sound EXACTLY like Quinn.

This baby sheep made a whiny, complainy bleat that sound EXACTLY like Quinn.

Happily, this farm made Quinn, who is often quite grumpy, happier than I have seen him in a while. It was great to see his delighted, happy face. Baby animals are kind of his thing.

The sheer awesomeness of feeding sheep knocked him on his ass.

The sheer awesomeness of feeding sheep knocked him on his ass.

My favorite animal there was the kangaroo. Have you ever petted a kangaroo? OMG, they are so soft. And they have little hands that they use to scratch themselves in all kinds of fun places while you watch. Plus, if you get really close to them, they will try to eat your hair. I want a kangaroo.

Specifically, this kangaroo.

Specifically, this kangaroo. I will name him Bartholomew.

I also have a thing for emus, even though they are kinda dicks. Have you ever petted an emu? Of course not, because they will peck you to death before you get close enough.

IMG_0011

Aaaaaiiiiiggghhhhh!!!!!!

Baby chickens were nicer than the emus, although I’m sure if they could have gotten away with pecking my eyes out, they would have.

Bock bock bagock!!!!

I would name this lil’ guy “Nugget.”

The unruliest animals were the ones in this cage though:

I would like to state for the record, that it was not ME who locked the children in there.

I would like to state for the record, that it was not ME who locked the children in there.

Revenge for the illegal jailing was pursued.

Sam will also peck your eyes out.

Sam will also peck you to death.

I have to say, Alex was skeptical about our trip to the petting farm. It was, however, one of our best outings in a long time. It was outside, so we could be loud and run; there was sufficient interaction to keep everyone’s interest; and we were able to see the entire farm and touch every single animal on it in two hours, meaning no one got overwhelmed.

See? Look? Most of them look not not unhappy!

Add some focus and take away one stranglehold and this photo is super close to being almost frame-able.

And that was Jean and Jack Day in Stimeyland. Pretty good, huh? The only thing I neglected to show you is Jack’s cake. I always get my cakes from the grocery store, but this time I was nervous because my instructions to the bakery, which they wrote verbatim on the order form, were “Make it look grassy. Kind of like it’s a field.”

They actually did a great job. Although it barely mattered considering that one of Jack’s gifts was a set of some awesome Minecraft figures and some plant foam cut into cubes. Jack’s face—hell, my whole family’s faces—were priceless when they saw this cake.

I came to dig.

I came to dig.

I hope that all of you had Mother’s Day/Jack’s Birthdays that were as good as ours was. Even though I didn’t get the traditional Mother’s Day gift of getting to avoid my family all day, it was one of the better days that I’ve had in a long, long time.

 

* Fingers also evidently look like rodent pellets. I say this based on the fact that I poked my finger in front of Jetpack the other day and she latched on, leaving me to yank my hand up, GERBIL STILL DANGLING FROM MY FINGER BY HER TEETH, until she finally fell off. It was quite traumatic, I tell you. The trauma was made even worse because no one was as concerned by the blood oozing out of the tiny puncture wound on the tip of my finger as I was. Fair warning: Jetpack has developed a taste for human blood. Remain vigilant.

And to All a Good Night…

Christmas Eve can be touch or go. You know, you have kids who are really jacked up and looking forward to Christmas and Christmas Eve promises excitement, but it’s not quite the main event, so there is disappointment built in, not to mention two or three or…six hours of yelling things like “IF YOU DON’T GO TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW, YOU WILL KILL SANTA WITH YOUR BAD BEHAVIOR! SANTA WILL NEVER COME NOW! ARE YOU HAPPY? ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY?”

Although that last little bit usually only happens in parents’ heads.

This year for Team Stimey though, shit came together and we had such a fantastic day.

We started by heading out to IHOP because we drove past there last week and Jack was all, “I wanna go to IHOOOOOPPPP!” and I figured that it would kill some Christmas Eve morning time, so why don’t we go then?

Team Stimey at IHOP

They put us in a back corner. It was a good decision on their part.

My kids were in enormously good form what with Sam asking the waitress for her phone number, Quinn having many questions about menu items, and Jack, well, Jack was pretty chill actually. I’m not even going to discuss Alex’s behavior. We spent longer eating breakfast than we have in a long time. Usually restaurant meals are a pretty quick affair for us, on the assumption that shorter means less chance of a freakout, but everybody was happy to just sit and eat today. It was great.

I mean, we even started breakfast with hot chocolate that came topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips, so it’s not like we even made an effort to keep them from getting hepped up on sugar or anything. Quinn doesn’t like whipped cream, so his hot chocolate was plain, but the waitress brought him chocolate chips anyway.

Quinn and chocolate chips

This is when the waitress cemented her giant tip.

After IHOP, it was off to the dry cleaner, as you do on Christmas Eve.

We spent the next couple of hours at home teetering dangerously on Too Much Togetherness when a goddamn Christmas miracle happened. It started to snow.

Sam in snow

It took him a surprisingly long time to catch a snowflake in his mouth.

It turns out that my children are unable to walk into my backyard without Nerf battlegear, so they suited up and headed out.

Jack in battle gear

Our own version of Bad Piggies.

They were so happy that even Alex and I went out with them and ran around.

Quinn in snow

And all was right with the world.

It didn’t snow a lot and it didn’t stick to the ground, but it got Team Stimey out of the house and happy. You can see falling snow in the above photos is you squint reeeallly hard, but it’s easier to see on a dark canvas.

Cassidy in snow

This is why we only have dark-furred dogs.

We futzed around for a while, watched a movie together, played some video games, and had our traditional steak and spinach Christmas Eve dinner.

Everyone gets to open a gift on Christmas Eve and Jack had been asking all day to do so. Team Stimey Junior even had a bonus Christmas Eve gift because my mom sent them one.

Look at them working together to unwrap that gift. They are so motherfucking civilized.

Look at them working together to unwrap that gift. They are so motherfucking civilized.

The gift was Just Dance for the Wii. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jack dance to Gangnam Style, by the way. I wish I’d gotten THAT on film.

Sam had a gift for Alex and I too and he was super insistent that we open it on Christmas Eve, so we decided that was okay. The gift was cool, but the best part was the stack of cards that came with it. Seriously, a stack. Some of those cards contained alliteration, like this: “Marvelous mom manages maidenhood majestically moving minds.”

Then, oh my God, then he had Alex and I follow him to the computer where he presented us with the Power Point presentation he had created about us. I have literally never gotten a better gift. Here are two of the slides. Judge for yourself.

Mice of Power!

“Mom has loved mice, gerbils, and guinea pigs forever practically. Rodents Rock!”

Phish

“Dad has loved the band Phish for a long time. #1 band baby!”

I have no idea where he got all those photos or when he put this thing together, but even Alex almost started crying because it was so damn sweet.

We had a few other traditions to get to, but Quinn had to squeeze in some letter writing first.

Quinn has been planning this note for a looong time.

Quinn has been planning this note for a looong time.

"To: Santa, Does Rudolf's nose really flash? Pleas wrigt yes or no under with the pen. from Quinn."

“To: Santa, Does Rudolf’s nose really flash? Pleas wrigt yes or no under with the pen. from Quinn.”

What do you think, internets? Does Rudolph’s nose really flash?

The last hour or so of Christmas Eve before bedtime is very busy in Stimeyland. We have to mix oatmeal and glitter to make the reindeer dust.

Reindeer dust, to attract and feed reindeer.

The glitter attracts the reindeer and the oatmeal gives them something to snack on while Santa fills stockings.

There was a lot of complaining about cold feet on the porch. So they all went to get shoes while I stood on the cold lawn waiting.

You can use edible sprinkles instead of glitter, but it doesn't photograph as well.

You can use edible sprinkles instead of glitter, but it doesn’t photograph as well.

I let Quinn choose how many cookies to leave out for Santa, a task he took VERY seriously.

Evidently cookie placement is VERY important.

Evidently cookie placement is crucial.

Then it was off to the living room for the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas.

Jack had little smart ass comments for each line, Quinn scoured each page looking for pictures of cats, and Sam pretended to play the flute. Alex gamely carried on with the story.

Jack had little smart ass comments for each line, Quinn scoured each page looking for pictures of cats, and Sam pretended to play the flute. Alex gamely carried on with the story.

We put the kiddos to bed and I gave the gerbils their Christmas seed cube and then we began to wait for them to fall asleep.

Merry Christmas, Gerbils of Power!

Merry Christmas, Gerbils of Power!

I’m sitting here waiting for Quinn to fall asleep. That poor kid. He wants to fall asleep so desperately, but he can’t. He’s pretty sad about it.

So. I just wrote THAT ^^^^ and then Quinn came out of his room SOBBING. He was afraid he would never fall asleep and Santa wouldn’t come and oh dear lord, I have never seen anyone quite so sad in my life. It took me an HOUR to get him to sleep. Please, Quinn, don’t wake up again.

Now I’m off to be Santa, if I can wrest my elves away from the Transformers show they’re watching on TV.

This photo is only here because I didn't post one of our tree yet and my mom always wants to see one.

This photo is only here because I didn’t post one of our tree yet and my mom always wants to see one. Guess who decorated it?

I hope you had a really merry Christmas Eve and that your kids fall asleep quickly!