Thursday, April 30, 2009

DCMM: Prepared for Anything

I'm pretty sure that I don't want swine flu. Make that very sure. It seems like every few years we go through something like this. Five years ago it was SARS. Three years ago it was bird flu. The difference with swine flu is that it is actually in the United States.

I don't anticipate having to go into hiding in my basement and cutting off all contact with the public, but I'll have you know that if need be, my family could survive for quite a while on what is already in our home.

A few years ago I went on an emergency preparedness kick, and now I have two bins in my basement with all the supplies we need for a short stay in my house. In case of some bizarre disaster that would require quick evacuation from DC (ASTEROIDS! FLOODS! LOCUSTS!), we have plans to throw the kids and as many pets as we can find in the car, then toss the bins in the back and hit the road.

The bins include enough food and water for our family for at least three days, dog and cat food, batteries, a crank radio, a couple hundred dollars in small bills, and some other assorted things that the disaster people recommend.

Although, come to think of it, we probably don't need the diapers that I packed in there when my youngest was an infant. He's now almost four, and potty trained. (Thank the good lord!)

I'm glad that we have the bins, but at the time I put them together, I felt like I was throwing a big chunk of money at something we'll never use. Obviously I'd rather spend the money and never need the emergency supplies, than need them and not have them.

When I bought the food and water, I chose to purchase MREs (meal, ready to eat) instead of the bricks bars that are easier to find. Each, like, 9,000-calorie bar will sustain your family for a something like a month. (Or a week. Or a day. I exaggerate.) They looked kind of horrid though. And my family won't eat the wrong kind of chicken nugget, so if all I had to offer them were calorie bricks, they would all starve. I probably would too.

Interestingly, when you order MREs for a person for a certain number of days, you get a mixture of entrees, snacks, and desserts. So if we end up hiding from the swine flu in my basement, we may not have any fresh air, but we will have pineapple upside down cake in a foil packet.

I gotta tell you, I'm not entirely convinced that the MREs will be delicious. My fingers are crossed that I never have to find out.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

In case of the apocalypse, you're welcome to join Jean in her basement. Get more information at her personal blog, Stimeyland.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Can't Think of a Title. Really.

I went to an autism information fair tonight. There were a lot of vendors there, from public agencies to schools to camps to special needs horse-riding places. It was cool. I came home with a couple of pamphlets.

I have some reading to do.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, which put on the fair, was clearly thinking of their audience when they put together the bags they handed out for people to collect information in. Each of the bags contained this:

which, if Jack ever finds it, will probably turn into his most treasured possession.

I ran into a local autism blogger there, but I don't know that she publicizes that she is in Montgomery County, so I won't out her here, but she knows who she is. We had met once before and she spotted me first. I had a total deer-in-headlights reaction to her saying my name because I was completely unprepared to see any of the three people I know in real life who have autistic children.

Not to mention that I was dressed a little bit like a bag lady, having had somewhat of a hectic day that ended in my layering many layers of non-matching clothing over each other.

And then someone from Mysterious Local Blogger's child's school asked how we knew each other and there was a loooooong pause as I tried to figure out if I thought she was "out" about her blogging and I think she was trying to telepathically tell me not to out her, and finally I muttered something about, "we met online," and she said something about us meeting through a listserve, which was entirely plausible if not technically true.

Anyway, Mysterious Local Blogger, it was good to see you. Sorry I was all sweaty and incoherent.

This is the third autism-related lecture/meeting/fair/thingy that I've been to in less than a week and it got me thinking. There are so many good resources out there, but it's hard to keep track of them all. I'm thinking about maybe putting together an online calendar of Montgomery County autism events. This wouldn't be a listserve or a bulletin board or anything else. It would just be a calendar. Do any local people know if something like that already exists?

I know I really need another project about as much as I need a gaping hole in my head, but I think this could have real value. And I've decided to not hotly pursue my special education advocacy career until Quinn is in kindergarten (although I am lukewarmly available if you know someone who needs help), so this might be a good way for me to do something worthwhile without breaking my back doing it.

Also, this is me we're talking about here, so if it does happen, it'll probably happen in 2012.

Well. I'm about autismed out for the day. See you tomorrow.


Oh! Thank all of you for your lovely comments on yesterday's post about how Jack thinks I'm awesome at computer stuff. ParentDish even picked it up and made some lighthearted fun of me with it. I just want to let you all know that I actually thought the whole thing was kind of hilarious and I'm okay. I definitely do have my, "I'm the worst mom in the world" moments, but that wasn't one of them. There are many deficits to my personality (see encounter with Mysterious Local Blogger above), but taking myself too seriously isn't one of them.

But after reading your comments, I now think that I'm the BEST mom in the entire world. You can find me resting on my laurels for the next six or so months.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Mom is Good At...

Pretty much every Monday morning, while Quinn is in preschool, I volunteer in Jack's kindergarten class. I love doing it. The kids are hilarious, his teacher is grateful, and Jack loves having me there.

I'm there during his reading group when the kids are broken into four small groups and rotate through their three activity centers and their teacher-led reading group. I helped the kids at Table 1 today. I'm assuming that Table 1 was a first step in creating a mother's day card because the kids were supposed to write a complete sentence about, "My mommy is good at..." and then draw a corresponding picture.

My first group wrote nice things like, "My mommy makes me sandwiches," and "My mommy cooks really good food," and "My mommy loves me." One kid wrote, "My mommy makes good food like IHOP," and drew a picture of his whole family sitting around his kitchen table.

When Jack got to Table 1, he drew a picture of me with my iPhone.

I'll let that sink in for a minute before I tell you that then he added my laptop to the picture and drew a stick-Jack peeking over the back of the computer. His sentence? "My mom is good at playing Trace* & is good at typing."

Except he spelled "typing" like "typeing" and left a big space between the "ty" and the "peing" so I at first I thought it said "& is good at peeing."

And I totally am good at peeing, but I don't really need it on a mother's day card.

So, anyway, I spent the rest of the time I was there thinking of all the other things he could have written down: "My mom spends too much time on the computer." "My mom neglects me all the time." And after he used the magnetic letters at Table 2 to spell "Bolt" instead of the vocabulary words they were supposed to be creating, I added, "My mom is really good at turning on the TV."

It's like a mother's day card and a stab in the heart all rolled into one.

* This is an iPhone game that Jack is completely obsessed with.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Damn, That Kid is Awsome

Found on my dining room table this morning, clearly partly written by Jack and partly dictated to Alex:

Monsters vs. Aliens
By Martin Luther King
Illustrated by Dr. Seuss

I think that this would be a fascinating book.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The More You Know...

Today is an awareness day that is near and dear to my heart. The subject of this awareness intimately affects my family, and one member of it in particular, although we all deal with the consequences.

Yes, dear readers, today is National Hairball Awareness Day.

No, really. It is.

And, yes. I'm aware. Oh, believe me, I'm aware.

I was happily wandering around my house the other day when I stepped in a big old puddle of cat barf. Because I'm really classy and know all about the correct way to use Twitter, I immediately went to my computer and wrote:

And because I have the best friends in the blogosphere, Niksmom came right back at me with the information that Friday—today—is National Hairball Awareness day. When I expressed incredulity, because, c'mon, really? she sent me proof from her local newspaper:

You may celebrate Arbor Day. I say, why be so mundane?

If you follow me on Twitter (and now that you know how scintillating the conversation I take part in there is, why aren't you?), you may have noticed that shortly after my cat barf tweet I told Niksmom that she is the most awesome person in the entire world. You know why? She custom made the ribbon with that awesome graphic of the cat horking up there.

She even researched what colors should be used. According to the article she looked at, purple represents animal abuse. (Although she mentioned to me that she hoped they meant animal abuse prevention.) Orange (my favorite color, incidentally) represents animal protection.

Also, my cat that barfs all the time just had very expensive dental surgery yesterday, so if I'm lucky, I won't just get hairballs today, but bloody hairballs.

And what the hell is it with me, my readers, and weird animal things?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Please, For the Love of God, Don't Tell Sam

Today and tomorrow are kindergarten orientation at Jack's school. Seeing as how the kindergarten teachers and classrooms need to be available to welcome next year's kindergarteners, this year's kindergarteners don't go to school today and tomorrow.

Jack is super pleased about that.

Sam is not. He feels it is terribly unfair.

After shoving an unwilling Sam out of the car at drop off, I decided to take advantage of the day, and so piggybacked on my friend L's plans to go to open gym and then a nature center. But first, Jack and Quinn played in the backyard for nearly an hour and shared and cooperated and chatted. They are a good duo.

And remember how Jack was all disconnected the other day, and I was all conflicted? Today Jack was On. His. Game. It was awesome. He was so happy at the gym. The joy on his face was incredible. And, yeah, he mostly played by himself, but he was cognizant of the other kids around him.

It was a totally awesome hour at the gym except for when I was watching Jack gleefully jump on the trampoline and some lady brought a sobbing and distraught Quinn over to the lady who was supervising the trampoline to see if she knew who this neglected kid's parent was. Because he couldn't find me, and was sad. Nice.

Then we continued to follow L and another friend around Montgomery County to a nature area because they were meeting yet another friend there who had to pick up pond water to deliver to a tadpole. I know. I thought it was weird too.

But what wasn't weird, and was in fact super awesome, was the fact that there was a pond to find tadpoles and minnows in. There were geese to honk at us.

There was even a bamboo forest. Repeat: a bamboo forest. Does it get cooler than that? I think not.

Especially if you like to pretend you're a panda bear. And both Jack and Quinn do.

Plus there was mud. And a creek. And a three-year-old who swore that he could walk on the rocks and not get wet.

How long do you think that lasted?

Not long.

Then I bought them ice cream. In an effort to assuage Sam, I bought him an ice cream too, so he'd have one when he got off the bus. He was totally thrilled about it until he found out that his brothers had gotten ice cream too.

God forbid Jack or Quinn tells him what else they did today. (Shhhh.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Commander Blue Bear Goes to Goddard

Quinn's playgroup went to the Goddard Space Center Visitors' Center today. It was terribly fun. The delightful group included such blog luminaries as WhyMommy (Guess what? It was her idea we go there. Shocking, huh?) and Heather from Penny Possibilities. Good times.

I could tell you what we did there and how we learned stuff and had a wholesome good time, but I think you may know that that may not be where I'm going here. When Quinn and I were reviewing our photos after we got home (and laughing hysterically, because he's three, and I'm like a three-year-old), I came up with other plans for this post.*

Also, you should know that Quinn was calling himself Nermal for some reason.

So, without further ado, I present to you:


It's never easy heading out into the unpredictable vacuum of space. But for those with the desire, the courage, the training, and the knowledge, space can be an adventure of the most tremendous kind.

You need a good space craft...

...a good crew...

First Mate Nermal, at your service! **

...and an intrepid leader!

Talk about The Right Stuff!

It's never easy to say goodbye to your loved ones. The uncertainties of space travel make every last second count. And every last kiss all the more special.

Yeah, they're both boys. You got a problem with that? ***

You really should have more of a bone to pick about their questionable hygiene.

Commander Blue Bear is not the type of astronaut to leave anything to chance. He is truly a commander of his entire ship, from leading his crew to checking the rocket mechanics before launch.

Be careful down there, Commander Blue Bear!

Everything checks out okay. Ready to go. T minus...





The unfortunate thing is that the commander forgot to buckle his seat belt. Never forget to buckle your seat belt on a space mission, folks.

Don't worry. He's okay. First Mate Nermal and
Peon Mom extracted him.

And then lots of things happened in space and it was all very dramatic and there were lots of close calls and, hell, let's say they discovered a whole other planet and they named it, oh...I don't know...Stimeyland Bearpiter.

Needless to say, Commander Blue Bear's lovah was happy to see him return.

That's a romantic dip, not a murder.

The only thing left was for Commander Blue Bear and First Mate Nermal to go over the mission reports.

Job well done, men. Job well done.

* I only had to stage a couple of these photos once I came home. I think it might be embarrassing that I took this many photos of a stuffed bear for no apparent reason.

** Or does a first mate belong on a boat? Obviously I didn't learn
that much at the visitors' center.

*** I'm not sure, but I think this may be the first gay stuffed bear astronaut kiss ever published on a blog. We break a lot of ground here at Stimeyland, people. A lot of ground.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Things

1. Do you read Sue at My Party of 6? Because if you don't, you should. I've been reading her for many months now and find her to be thoughtful, clever, and hilarious. Which is an awesome combination. In a stunning coinkydink of synergy, it turns out that she is writing about me today. Me! ME! MEEEEEEEEEE!

She wrote more nice things in a row about me today than anyone has ever said about me. I loved her before. I super love her now.

Go check out her blog. And say nice things about me in her comments. And add her to your reader. She's great.

(Incidentally, if you're trying to use the Google voice search on your iPhone to find "my party of six blog," it is extremely likely that you will end up with results for "my party of sex blog.")

2. You may know that Jack is supposed to have a paraprofessional somewhere in his vicinity all day every day, while he is at school. Today I was volunteering in the classroom and his aide was absent. And there was no one else there at all. It was me and the teacher. And this isn't the first time this has happened. Plus, I'm about 1000 percent sure that Jack isn't the only kid in that class legally required to have support.

Clearly, this is a violation of Jack's IEP. Clearly, this is not the only time this has happened. Also clearly, I'm sure it is difficult to always find a substitute for the spot. And clearly, I'm sure budgetary woes dictate that the school probably doesn't want to pay for substitutes if they can get away with not doing so. Clearly, that's kinda not my (or Jack's) problem.

So my question is this: What is the best way for me to bring this up? I don't want to get anyone in trouble, I don't want to ruffle any feathers; I just want Jack to have the support that he needs. So what do you think? A note to the special educator in charge of his team? An email to the principal? An exposé in the New York Times?

I will happily take any and all advice.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


My family went to the park today with my friend and her two kids. We had a picnic, we played basketball, we rode scooters and bikes, and we played. (Well, some of us did. Some of us just had a picnic.)

It was fantastic. It was a tremendous amount of fun. But there was a point when I started to watch Jack and I got sad. And I've been trying to figure out why.

Jack was completely happy at the park—or at least he seemed to be. He ate some food then he found the horseshoe pit and played in the sand for an extremely long time. Then he moved to a different sand pit. Then he transported handfuls of sand from the second sand pit to the basketball court.

At the same time, the other four kids were running, chasing, playing, talking, laughing, and making friends.

And Jack laid in the sandpit and poured sand through his hands.

Later, when he wanted company, he found me and insisted on running through a script of a story that he likes. He would say his part and then he would tell me my line, insisting that I recite it exactly. He refused to do much more than look at any other people. While everyone else was running around wildly and yelling to each other, he was enthusiastically pantomiming a piano performance for me. I don't know that he spoke a word to anyone other than me. And maybe a little bit to Alex.

Why was I so sad while I was watching him?

Is he happy? He seems happy. He doesn't seem to notice that he is different. He doesn't seem to notice that he is alone. He doesn't seem to care.

But I was quiet and lonely as a child. And I would go out of my way to pretend not to care, when I desperately wanted to have friends. I know that Jack is always thinking and processing and deciding and I don't want him to have to hide his desire to have friends, knowing it is easier to act aloof than it is to scale the wall of interaction.

He is so obviously different from all the other kids. His silence, his gestures, his behavior—all of it sets him apart. Do I care? No, I really don't. I love the way Jack sees the world. I love that he is such a sweet little soul. I love that he was born into a family that is going to let him grow up to be him.

Then again, I do want him to learn how to interact with other children and adults. I want him to be successful in the world. And I know that success doesn't hinge on his playing basketball with other kids at the playground today, but it would be encouraging to see some interaction. Today there was zero.

While climbing on the play equipment, he is entirely oblivious to other children, seeing them only as obstacles to move around. His refusal (or inability?) to see that he is upsetting other children by not waiting his turn, or by trying to climb over them instead of waiting for them to move so there is room to go next, can be hard to watch.

And I could have stepped in to facilitate some play with the other kids. But everybody else was moving so fast, while he was moving at his slow and steady pace. I know how hard it is to facilitate interactive play when it is just me, Jack, and another kid at our house. It seemed insurmountably difficult to do so in this situation.

Plus, Jack clearly is so dependent on me already. Ask him who he loves; he says he loves me. Ask him who I love; he says I love him. I think I was the only person Jack saw at that park. Sam wanted to play with him at some point. He tried to call out to Jack, but Jack ignored Sam completely, because he was so set on the script he was playing out. Sam even asked me, "Who is Jack now?" And when I told him that Jack was being Frog, Sam tried to get Jack's attention by calling out for Frog. But it wasn't in Jack's script. So Jack didn't pay attention.

I do a lot of telling myself that age will help Jack immensely. It's hard to be a little kid, even without extra challenges. Jack will be six next month. When will all his hard work start to make a difference? Will all his hard work make a difference?

It is just all so complicated. He is a complicated child. And my feelings about him are so complicated as well.

In my life, all I want is for him to be happy. I want him to be happy now and I want him to be happy in a month and in a year and in ten years and when he is 56 and when he 98. I want him to be happy.

And it makes me sad when I see things that will be obstacles to that happiness. Maybe he isn't like I was. Maybe he's not hiding behind a mask of aloofness. But I'm so afraid that even if he's happy now, he won't be happy later. And that makes me sad.

It's complicated.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

DCMM: The Witching Hour

-3 As parents, we all know about the "witching hours," that period of the day during which your children consistently conspire to drive you insane with whining, crying, and squabbling. I think the witching hours fall between 4 and 6 p.m. for most families, although 7 p.m. to midnight were always quite the witching hours when my children were infants.

Now that my kids are in school, I've managed to do pretty well with that 4 to 6 p.m. time slot, what with the judicious use of a right-after-school homework schedule, quiet playtime, television, and snacks.

My new witching time now falls right when my kids get off the bus after school. It usually only lasts a few minutes, but it is brutal.

If Sam, the oldest, is disappointed in any way in that first three minutes, then he has a total meltdown right there in the street. And because I have to get him and my other two children (who have been known to take off running for home by themselves) down the street and around the corner safely to our house, it can be a frustrating and stressful situation.

The reasons for his meltdowns are, I believe, threefold:

1. He has been good all day long at school and he's finally found someone to let it all out on. (Yay! That person is me!)

2. He gets dragged to my middle child's speech and occupational therapy sessions, and he's getting tired of it. If he is reminded that we're going, he will often start screaming, "I'm not going! I'm not going!" (It's not so much that he hates going, but going has social repercussions. See #3.)

3. A friend that he loves to death and loves to have playdates with lives almost literally AT the bus stop. If I say no to a playdate, especially for reason #2 above, well, then let the whining commence. (This reason is really the most explosive. If his friend isn't on the bus for some reason, he's usually much mellower.)

I'm pretty much at the end of my rope. I've tried all the traditional methods of dealing with these outbursts: yelling, threatening, pretending to leave him behind. I've also tried to reason with him and sympathize with him, but none of it seems to work.

So I've resorted to a sticker chart.

Now he has to earn playdates by not whining and yelling when he gets off the bus. It worked for the one school day before spring break. I'm hoping it will work again this week.

I'm pretty sure that I haven't eliminated the witching hour from our lives. If I manage to get this one under control, I'm sure it will just slide to a new time in our day. However, maybe that new time will at least be at home without spectators.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean also writes about her parenting challenges at Stimeyland.

Magic Beans

In the, "Hey, can Stimey blog about anything more mundane?" category, I'm going to blog about green beans.


Frankly, I didn't even know that Quinn knew green beans existed. But today at the grocery store he started babbling and pointing and saying, "Can we get beans? Can we get beans?"

And while internally I was wondering why in the world I'd want to purchase a vegetable, aloud I said, "Sure. We can have them for dinner." Then I grabbed a couple handfuls of green beans, put them in a bag, then snapped the end off of one and gave it to Quinn to eat.

1. Shhh. Don't tell the police.

2. Yes, I know it wasn't clean.

Then for the rest of the time we were at the store, Quinn blathered about beans and how they're yummy and how he was eating a bean and how we're going to have beans for dinner and, "Hey, you there! Do you know that we're buying beans?"

Then we went home and I fed him some raw beans for lunch.

And then he spent the rest of the day chattering about beans.

And when Sam got off the bus, that was the first thing that Quinn told him. Sam was not as excited. Sam only eats pea vegetables and corn vegetables, thank you very much. Nobody even bothered to tell Jack, because we all know how he feels about vegetables. (And fruit. And meat. And anything that is not a cheese or a bread or grain. Or a Go-gurt.)

Dinner went as expected. Quinn was pleasantly surprised that, hey! Lookit! Beans!

Jack, per usual, took a more scientific, I won't let it pass my lips, but let me study the hell out of them, approach.

Sam, as instructed, kept his on his plate.

Also? My kids love them some Hamburger Helper. Were it not completely devoid of nutrients, yet full of preservatives (I'm assuming here), I would feed it to them every night. Every single one of them ate it. Although Jack only ate the noodles.

Then Sam and Jack took their uneaten beans to the back yard and buried them.

Because, for some weird reason, even though they won't consume beans, they want to grow them.


Guess who else likes beans?

Quinn just about flipped his lid when I told him that he could feed Daisy a bean.


And in case you missed it: Bean.


p.s. Bean


Oh, and Bean.



Monday, April 13, 2009

Loudest. Day. Ever.

Tomorrow the munchkins go back to school. Well, two of them do. One of them (and Daisy) goes back to school on Wednesday. I gotta tell you, it's been an exhausting week and a half. (You may have noticed some gaps in my blogging.)

Every time a long break from school comes up, I get all panicky that we're going to sit around with nothing to do. Then every kid we've ever met decides they want a playdate. We had fun at every single playdate, but oh, dear lord, we're tired.

We had two playdates on Tuesday and two on Wednesday. There was only one on Thursday, but it was Bunnyland, and I could barely walk after I got home from that one. I think we only had one playdate on Friday, but I don't rightly remember.

Then today rolled around. I think today was the noisiest day we have had in...ever. The three little dudes bickered and squabbled and shrieked all damn day. I think the high point was when Jack stole a Tinkertoy from Sam so Sam told him that I was going to kick him out of the family.

That caused a lot of screaming and tears.

I think they might be ready to go back to school. And, yeah, we had fun last week, but after today, I am ready to put them on a bus, like, NOW.

Even when they were agreeable today, they were noisy. We have three balloons right now, so there was a lot of shrieking about, "Keep the balloons in the air!" and when I tried to calm them down by reading to them, there was a lot of, "I'm going to bounce this balloon on your book, ha, ha, ha!"

Then there was the car ride to and from speech therapy. The trip there was less than awesome, and topped off by Quinn's tragically sad whimper-whining, "I'm cold!" On the way home, Sam started yelling at everyone to shut up because he was getting a headache. It was that loud.

So spring break is over. Although summer vacation looms large. I'm worried.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Did You Know There's Still a 6:15 in the Morning?

I do. I know this because that's when I was awoken by urgent screaming: "The Easter Bunny came! The Easter Bunny came!"

I don't know why we have to celebrate Easter in a fun-candy-toys-6:15 kind of way when we could be celebrating it in a dull-church-ham-noon kind of way. Why do we have to be so damn fun?

Solid job hiding those eggs, Easter Bunny.

Why is it that even when you hide eggs, like, practically literally in the middle of the room, and most definitely in plain sight, there are always at least two eggs you can't locate right away?

And you should all be pleased to hear that Daisy is still doing splendidly.

I only have to keep her alive for two and a half more days. Although I think it would be suspicious if she dropped dead the day I returned her to the class.

Happy Easter or Passover or Candy/Bunny Day, whatever it is you celebrate.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mental Note to Stimey: Think BEFORE You Start Talking

Sam: How does the Easter Bunny get eggs?

Me: Hmmmm. That's a really good question, Sam. Because bunnies don't lay eggs, huh?

Sam: Uh huh.

Me: Well, maybe a chicken gives him the eggs. [Yeah, I know I was reaching here. Get ready for more.] He brings you stuff in your Easter baskets, right?

Sam: Where does he get that stuff? From a store? [Perhaps Sam was remembering Easter 2007.]

Me: Maybe he borrows that stuff from Santa. [Seriously, Stimey, WHY?]

Sam: But then he'd have to give it back.

Me: Well, maybe Santa gives it to him to give to you.

Sam: Maybe. Or maybe it gets it from a store.

Who else here thinks Sam was trying desperately to help me out?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

Do you ever suggest an activity to a friend with the knowledge that said activity will almost certainly do you in?

I did that this week. I had plans with my friend E and her two little dudes. In a fit of hubris I asked E if she would like to go to Bunnyland at a nearby orchard. Even as I asked I was about 75% sure that the day would end in semi-disaster.

Because Bunnyland is described as: "An Eggstravaganza of fun! Bring your basket and take a hayride in Bunnyland..." blah, blah, blah, I put us at 10% disaster even before we left due to the use of the term "Eggstravaganza."

Bunnyland was about a half hour away from our house and my kids were pretty patient on the way there. I gave them a long speech about the rules and the kind of behavior I expect from Team Stimey. And I gave them a little lesson in herd mentality. Like the lemming I am, I followed the trail of minivans clearly headed to Bunnyland as we all passed the entrance to the orchard, came to the end of the road and all did minivan U-turns to go back to find the entrance. It was awesomely hilarious.

We quickly parked but then after we got to the line, we had to return to the car to put on sweaters. Sweaters which we all wore for about 20 minutes and then I carried for the next three hours and forty minutes. (I'm going to up our disaster quotient to 25% for that.) We found our friends and the guy at the front tried to charge me $19 too much to get in. That was not awesomely hilarious.

But then the fun started. Everything at Bunnyland except for a couple things (like pony rides and face painting) were free—you know, with the $26 admission for my family. So we were able to walk right up to pretty much anything we wanted to do and do it.

And do we did.

Here's a nice photo of my kids and E's kids before we ended up carrying everyone's coats and Easter baskets:

The reason we were forced to carry the baskets around was because there was an Easter egg hunt. I had a moment of panic when I thought I was going to have to carry around 800 plastic eggs all day too, but the people behind Bunnyland are smart.

Much to my relief, the eggs were not only empty, but the kids were instructed to return them to the chicken before they left the egg-hunt area. Plus, there were plenty of eggs because Bunnyland employees were wandering around discreetly dropping eggs onto the ground.

Something Sam quickly figured out.

Quinn was less pleased about the empty eggs than I.

And Jack handed me his basket and found a tractor to play with.

My kids are nothing if not true to their personalities.

After the egg hunt we did every single damn (free) thing Bunnyland had to offer. We played on the playground, we went through the bouncy tunnel and jumped on the moonbounce, we rode bikes around a gravel track, and climbed on another tractor.

Then we went down the giant slides.

Which were totally awesome. Except for when Quinn
badly injured himself falling on the side lip of the thing.

Then there was hay fighting, bunny-petting, and Jack trying to climb in the bin with the baby chicks.

Quinn somehow managed to get hurt in this large soft circle of hay as well.

Throughout all these activities, there was a lot of herding, and yelling for children, and counting of small boys. Plus there was about three minutes when I was sure I'd lost Quinn only to spot him in the bouncy tunnel.

When lunchtime hit, E stood in the longest line (time-wise, not length-wise; it was weird) known to humankind for lunch while I did everything short of standing on my head to keep five small boys occupied and in one spot. We played Simon Says and Animal Charades and Duck Duck Bunny and Stay Here and Don't Move While I Go Chase Down Sam/Jack/Quinn Real Quick.

Honestly, if disaster were going to strike, it would have been then. I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping everyone together and mostly happy.

I rewarded myself by forcing my children to use the porta-potties.

Yeah. I'm that dumb.

But then there were hayrides and threats about "There is a very tiny baby immediately behind you, Quinn! If I see so much as one piece of hay on it, I'm throwing you over the edge of the wagon!" At the time I meant it. But after a couple of minute of sitting and watching our kids get so excited over the little bunny scenes set up along the route, I relaxed.

And then, while Sam and his two friends went on the hayride a second time, Quinn fell off some tall playground equipment and declared himself both done for the day and too small to try to use the fireman's pole.

Bunnyland was particularly brutal to Quinn. See the evidence here:

About 35% disaster.

Let me make some quick calculations and come up with a total here: four hours at Bunnyland with my buddy E and our five little dudes, hayrides, slides, rabbits, hay, chicks, rubber duck races, a playground, an Easter egg hunt, and two moonbounce activities. Subract total and utter exhaustion on my part and multiply by eking out every last bit of our money's worth.

I'd have to say that's about 0% disaster.

I'm totally going back next year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Dare You to NOT Picture a Flaming Panda Now.

We're in the car today. You know, just driving along. Sam starts talking about s'mores, because I guess that's something he thinks about on a regular basis.

That talk led us to a conversation about fires. So Sam starts talking about how fast things burn. He wants to know if paper burns fast. We agree that it does. So I ask him what he thinks would burn slow. He says wood would burn slow. I agree, and then he starts asking about sticks, and sticks with leaves, and how do things catch on fire and some other stuff. It was a great little Thinking About Things session we had.

Then Quinn pipes up. And this is what he says:

"What about pandas? And panda ears? They burn slow, right? Right?!"

And there's a little taste of what it's like to ride in a car with Quinn.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday

It's like a clip show, only you haven't read the stories before.

Alex's Birthday:

Alex is 34 today! Happy Birthday, Alex! He celebrated by having a long day at work and then receiving presents like this one...

...from Quinn. Which is actually kind of a big deal because Quinn loves that piece of paper.

Our Über-Successful Dinner Party:

Alex and I invited two families over for dinner on Saturday and I gotta tell you, it was one of our better hosting events. Both the adult group and the kid group got along splendidly, none of the kids got hurt, and both families left their extra desserts at my house. Pretty much perfect, huh?

Seriously, I haven't laughed that hard for a while. Good times.

My Diet/Caffeine/Exercise Plan:

It's going swimmingly. I haven't napped for days. And even better, I don't feel like I have to nap to survive anymore. I think the less soda/more water plan is working. I'm also trying to go to bed before midnight each night. I think that's helping too.

My YouTeeEye:

This one is not awesome. However, I get these stupid things (UTIs) enough that I don't fuck around anymore. I felt my first symptom at about 1 p.m. this afternoon and I had my kids in the car and headed to the doctor's office by 1:30.

You know what's funny? Walking into an OB/GYN with three kind of giant children. We took up most of the waiting room. There was a dicey moment when I turned around from paying my co-pay to find them huddled around the water cooler, but once I pulled out the video games, they chilled out.

Some lady even complimented me in the parking lot on the way out about how good my kids were. That rarely happens to me, so I was super pleased.

My iPhone is in Jeopardy:

Jack has figured out how to use the thing, and he loves it. Read how his gadget-loving self is going to drive me to an early grave. Or something to that effect. (Trusera, the site on which the post I just linked to is posted, is having a (rare) technical glitch as I write this. The link may or may not work for you right now. Also, Trusera may have to shut down next month, which is sad because it's a cool health-based community. If you haven't yet, head on over and give it some love.)

Jackasses in the Waiting Room:

There are two families that are always in our speech therapy waiting room when we get there on Mondays. Each of them is waiting for a child to finish a session. Each of them consists of a mom and boy who is about 8 or 9. Every week those two boys are playing with Transformers.

Every week, with the exception of one time when Jack was super-persistent, Jack asks to play with them and every week these kids say no. And they don't just say no, they're rude about it. Like today when Jack said, "Hi, can I play for a second?" And one of the kids said, "Not even for a millisecond." And there were, like, six Transformers not being used spread out all over the waiting room floor.

And the moms don't even bat a fucking eye.

No, not every kid has to let Jack play, but couldn't the moms at least instruct their kids to be nice about it? (Set aside the fact that every single goddamn mom I know would say, "I'd like you to share your toys," to their kid.)

Seeing as how their other kids/siblings get speech therapy, you would think that they would at least be aware that there are kids with special social needs in the waiting room. Assholes.

Thank God they're only there for the first few minutes that we're there. Everyone that comes later is super nice.

Daisy Lives!

And she likes goldfish crackers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stimey Mood Update...Now With More Gerbil

Thank you all for your well-wishes after yesterday's post. I am much happier today.

I'm tired, but no more tired than on a normal day. I did nap briefly today, but only for about 20 minutes while my children cleaned their room. Well, while Sam cleaned their room and the other two puttered around avoiding cleaning their room. And that is why Sam earned Lego Star Wars playing time and the other two have to watch him.

I would like to clarify that I am not quitting caffeine, but rather cutting down. See, I drink a lot of soda. And I need to drink much less soda. And so far so good.

I have continued to do well with my food intake. Although here's a tip: the day before you go on a diet (and it kills me to say that I'm "on a diet" because I hate that terminology for some reason, but I am on a diet, I suppose) do not, repeat, do not, buy a loaf of delicious fresh-baked cinnamon swirl bread. Trust me.

And as soon as my kids go to bed I plan to do another very light 40 minutes on the elliptical. Thank you to everyone who assured me that I can, in fact, do the Shred, but I've been reading your tweets and all you people talk about is how much it's killing you. So I think I'll ease into it with some very light ellipticalling, thank you very much. Maybe I'll Shred next month.

Also contributing to my good mood is this:

Daisy, Quinn's class gerbil, is here for another visit!

You may remember that when I brought her home to spend the weekend this past September, I was terribly concerned that she might not make it through the weekend. Add several months to her now old age and imagine how stressed I must be. Plus, I'm keeping her for all of spring break, so there's a whole week and a half to be worried about here.

But you wanna know the kicker? I was actually going to bring her home a couple of weekends ago, but Quinn's teacher suggested that I postpone her visit because she had come in one morning to find Daisy unresponsive and difficult to wake. Plus she did some staggering around and seemed not quite right on one side. Quinn's teacher thought Daisy might have had a stroke and that she might be near the end.

But since then she's been "totally fine" so thumbs up, fingers crossed, and happy thoughts!

In related news, I'm thinking of pre-writing her obituary now. It's going to start like this:
Three-year-old Daisy passed away this spring break under the watchful eyes of Stimey's cat Izzy...
I am so screwed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Darkest Before the Dawn?

I did not have a stellar day today.

I had a realization yesterday that things are not going exceptionally well for me. Health-wise, body-wise, weight-wise, energy-wise...the center cannot hold. I decided that I had to make some serious changes and I had to make them NOW.

And by "NOW" I meant "tomorrow, AFTER I eat this pint of ice cream today."

Most of the changes I want to make are simple, easy, and make a tremendous amount of sense. My problem is that I'm really, really tired. And overweight.

My answer is that I need to stop guzzling caffeine like it's made out of crack and I need to stop eating ice cream like it's made out cream. And I need to start exercising. And after my family, that has to be PRIORITY NUMBER ONE.

Day One of said program kind of sucked major shit though. I woke up tired. I took a nap. I let my house deteriorate even further into the messy chaos that it has become. Entropy is afoot, my friends.

While I was napping, my cough came back. You know, the one I've been whining about since November. I just wanted to start crying right then.

I called my sister—you know, the DOCTOR—and basically implied that she didn't know the first thing about medicine when she refused to diagnose me over the phone with The Consumption. I badly wanted a diagnosis of The Consumption because I was hoping it would mean I would get sent to a sanatorium where I would sit on the porch in a rocking chair and overlook the green grounds while I coughed blood into a doily.

She suggested that maybe I might want to look into asthma. And she told me that if I told my doctor that I thought I had The Consumption, that my doctor might laugh at me.

When I told her that said doctor had given me an inhaler once, she suggested I try, you know, using it. And I scoffed and told her she knew nothing.

Then I went home and used the inhaler and I haven't coughed since. And now I can never call my sister again.

But then I felt all woozy from the steroids in the inhaler and my kids came home from school and I did some more sketchy parenting, and then I had to take ANOTHER nap because I was all lethargic and tired what with my less caffeine and The Consumption and all.

And then it was dinner time and I made my kids hot dogs (Yum! Nitrates!), only we only had one bun. So I gave it to Quinn because he usually yells the loudest and then I put Sam and Jack's hot dogs on a piece of wheat bread and doused them with ketchup and fed them to them in front of the TV.

That being the same TV that had been on for most of the day because I was napping and I know the TV/Lego Star Wars will keep them in one place and out of trouble.

Then I put them to bed and I exercised very lightly (because I am so out of shape that I have to exercise very lightly or I might well die—no shredding for me) for 40 minutes on my elliptical.

And then I came here and whined to y'all and you might want to bookmark this page for those days when you think you're being a bad parent and you can come here and be all, "Oh, well at least I was conscious for most of the day, so I'm ahead of Stimey." You probably also want to bookmark the page for my very up-to-date and important information on The Consumption.

It was a really bad day, y'all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fool Me You Twice...

I like April Fools jokes. Well, let me clarify. I like April Fools jokes on other people. More specifically, I like playing April Fools jokes on Alex.

I can't imagine that this surprises you.

My last successful April Fools joke was when I was seven months pregnant with Quinn. I called Alex at work and convinced him that I was going into labor only to lament that my child would be born on April Fools day.

Then I had a couple of bummer years when Alex wouldn't believe a word I said in the week surrounding April Fools day. Last year I tried to fool him with a phone call again and he practically scoffed in my face. Except I was on the phone with him so he couldn't do it to my face.

So today I knew I was going to have to be careful and subtle and smart. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to try to fool him with and how to approach him with it. I knew that he'd be waiting for it, so I knew it had to be believable, but I knew it had to be somewhat devastating to him. 'Cause otherwise it's not as funny.

I don't like making jokes about, say one of my kids being suspended, or one of the pets mauling another of the pets, or my iPhone falling in the toilet because I kind of believe that if you joke about something like that and then it happens, then it's kind of your fault.

And I wouldn't want to be responsible for something like that happening to my iPhone.

I decided to tell Alex that the dog broke a toenail again. That may not seem like much, but because she is sensitive about her feet and has bright "WILL BITE" stickers all over her vet chart, broken toenails end up costing us about $300 a pop. And she's done it twice in the past couple of years.

Quinn and I called Alex up and chitchatted a little bit. We told him about the ball-throwing toy we had just bought for the dog, which led me into, "I think Cassidy has another broken toenail. She was limping when we were playing and she's licking her foot a lot."

Which led HIM into, "What?! Are you serious?! What are we going to do?! She can't keep doing this!!"

And so on.

Then I interrupted him to say that the vet hospital didn't have any appointments on April Fools day.

And then he kept complaining about the dog.

And then I started laughing. And laughing. And laughing. And, oh dear, I think I'm still laughing.

And then Alex stopped cursing the dog and started cursing me.

I'm going to have to be really sneaky next year.


Did it ever occur to any of you how lucky you are that you're not married to me?

One Word Wednesday: Appalling