Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Or Maybe We're Okay

Honestly, people, I have NO idea where Sam gets his tendency to overreact and catastrophize. I certainly don't know anyone closely related to him who does that too.

*whistling and avoiding your eyes*

So. It's possible that I may have freaked out a smidge more than necessary after Sam had his meltdown yesterday morning. By the end of the day yesterday, he was doing well. This morning, he was happy and relaxed. After school today, he reported that his day had "whizzed by."

I'm not getting too comfortable, because who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I am hopeful.

Jack and Quinn seem to be doing well at school also. Although when Quinn was doing his homework yesterday and one page said to "Draw or write to tell about one of our classroom rules," this is what he came up with:

"No punching in the face."

Kicking, or punching someone in the neck, is probably okay.

Jack likewise seems to be doing well. His teacher this year is continuing a system we came up with last year, where throughout the course of the day, Jack earns tally marks for good behavior, which are marked down in his communication notebook. If he earns 12 tally marks, he gets to play 20 minutes of video games when he gets home.

It's kind of worked out perfectly, because he and Quinn are home for about a half hour before we go pick up Sam from his bus stop, so that is the perfect little interim for that reward to happen. I prefer to not let any of them watch TV or play video games during the week, so having to go pick up Sam is a perfect way to close that chapter of the day and move on to outdoor play and homework time.

Our transportation nightmare has actually turned into kind of an okay situation. Especially since no one has puked during our commute yet. Yet.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.


I know that I may not seem like the expert to write such an article as this, but I wrote "Make back-to-school a success for your special needs child" at Autism Unexpected. Don't worry, I incorporated ideas from other, more together people.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Went GREA— Oh. Never Mind.

I didn't have time to write it, but I had this very cute little post in my head yesterday about how all of you manage to post adorable photos of your well-behaved offspring standing obediently on your front stoops smiling at the camera on their first days of school, and I get this:

I mean, at least they're all wearing shoes and stuff, but still.

Regardless of what this photo might suggest to you, the first morning of school went extremely well.

Okay, I did wake up to the smell of Sam's EZ Mac that he made in the microwave for his lunch—without water. Let me tell you, that was not an awesome smell. I think I might still reek of waterless macaroni puck.

After that though, things went great. Everybody got up and out of the house on time. I dropped Sam at his school. I took Jack and Quinn to their school, and we got there on time. All was well.

This morning, however, was a different story. Remember Sam's anxiety about his new school? It's back and with a vengeance. I don't know what we're going to do. I have a lot of my own anxiety and stress and feelings about all of this, but I think it's best that I don't vomit all of THAT on you.

Through our whole Tuesday Morning Freak Out, Jack and Quinn babbled happily to each other about zombies and the plants that fight them. They both claim that school is boring, but neither of them tried to refuse to go today, so I'm counting it as a success.

Yesterday's "homework" for Jack, which required him to write four words on a page and resulted in half an hour of refusals? That was not a success. (But, weirdly, after that, all three kids wanted to play school and then Jack insisted I create a homework sheet with math problems and reading questions on it and he did that immediately and perfectly. I DON'T UNDERSTAND LIFE.)

Remember all my excitement about how awesome life was going to be once I sent everyone back to school? Yeah. Not so much. I'm sure that once everything shakes out and we consult with lo the many professionals that I contacted this morning, we'll be fine, but I just wish things were easier for my kids.

Big sigh...aaaaand onward.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Open House, a.k.a. Pandemonium

I kind of feel like I should post now because I'm pretty sure within the next 24 hours my power is going to go out and a tree is going to fall on my house (damn you, Hurricane Irene!), so I should at least chat with you happily before that happens.

The problem is that chatting happily is hard when the thing I have to write about is my kids' open houses—you know, the day they all go find out who their teacher is and check out their classroom. In my mind though, it is really the day all 500 students and their families jam into the school in the same one and a half hours causing my autistic kid to lose his everlovin' mind.

That's what I call it. It's not so much a fun day for me.

It is also the day when people try to catch up and have small talk and "how was your summer" conversations at the same time as I am trying to keep my kids from running or, at the very least, keep them running in the same direction, and I am pretty sure I sound like a blithering idiot and I know I end up sweaty and disheveled, and it is just not my favorite hour and a half of the school year.

It was a little tougher yesterday as well because we had to go to open houses at both schools and at the first one, I am on the PTA board and had to hang out at the PTA table with my kids for an hour prior to visiting classrooms. (Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the iPad. You will be sorely missed, is all I have to say about that.)

At some point during that time in which I had two iDevices and three kids, Jack started stimming and spinning a little and acting, well, like Jack does when he is crazy overstimulated. And that is when I started seeing the looks. They are not mean looks, but they are looks from kids, both who know him and who don't, wondering what he's doing. And noticing that he's different. And not smiling in greeting after a summer away, but assessing and then walking by.

I'd forgotten all about that look over the summer. I don't think Jack sees the look, but I do, and it made me a little less excited to send him back to school this year. Thank God a couple of kids who he likes and who really like him are in his class this year. Thank God.

After we were released from the PTA table (and by "released," I really mean "as my watch struck my allotted time, I abandoned my post without even saying a word"), we headed to Quinn's classroom first. Quinn's teacher was Jack's math teacher a couple of years ago and I think he might have been more excited than Quinn to be there.

I think Quinn is going to love being in her class though. She's wonderful.

Plus, she had bags of cookies, so Quinn was delighted.

Sam sort of took the lead on helping Quinn with his classroom scavenger hunt. But Jack was happy because he loves the carpet in that room, so it was a lovely little place to take refuge before we headed out into the halls again to find Jack's classroom, which is in a new addition on the school, so hopefully he will be able to find his classroom come Monday.

Once we reached his class, Jack sat down quietly and read a book. That kid is awesome.

Later, I got to show his teacher what happens when he gets all jumpy and stimmy, which was probably good for her to see, but she also got to see the sweet, calm side of him too.

I had created a one-page sheet about Jack for his teacher and she actually read it while I was standing there and then asked questions. She also watched his behavior and asked me questions based on that. This makes me hopeful. Oh, God, please, let her be fabulous.

This teacher also had a scavenger hunt. While Jack very literally followed the directions, Quinn created a masterpiece, which he forced me to bring home.

It's folded up on my desk. I don't know what to do with it.

After that, we headed over to Sam's school, where I was happy to see that there was this little niche in the coat closet where I could stash Jack and Quinn.


Things went well at Sam's school, although I am even more stressed out about our transportation situation than before. Come the first day of school, I am going to cross my fingers, close my eyes, put my head in the sand and just hope that all goes well.

This is Sam pretending to sleep at his new desk.

This is Sam pretending to work at his new desk.

Somewhat awesomely, the mascot at Sam's new school is a dragon. And even more somewhat awesomely, they have an ACTUAL PERSON IN A DRAGON SUIT AND THAT DRAGON SUIT HAS A MOUTH THAT LOOKS LIKE IT IS IN A PERPETUAL SCREAM/GRIN/NOSHING ON CHILDREN STATE.

I will eat you...nom, nom.

At Quinn's request, the dragon even put his mouth over Quinn's head and actually DID pretend to eat him. If only I were quicker with my camera. It was classic.

Then we were free. Until Monday, of course, when school starts—or doesn't, depending on hurricanes and power outages. Cross your fingers for us!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Enjoying the Small Things

It is the end of the summer and my kids and I have had a lot of togetherness. I've noticed that my posts about my kids have gotten snarkier and snarkier. Today I started thinking, and to myself I was all, "Self, do you think the internets know that you really do love spending time with your kids and think they are the most awesome of the sauces?"

I'm here to tell you that, yes, that is how I feel. This in no way implies that I am not looking forward to school starting on Monday. Because I am. With the force of ten thousand suns. But I tell you, I have some cool kids.

We went to the pet store for mouse food today and after 15 minutes in the cat adoption room, Sam and Quinn were listing all the animals they were going to have when they grow up. Quinn was picking out gerbil cages. Those two are so charmed by furry little creatures. Jack is too. But he was more concerned with the mechanics of the cat cage doors and then later by the stench in the room. ("Let me out! I can't breathe!")

Oh that Jack. The other day we told him to put his clean laundry away, which he did. But now we can't find any of his underwear or socks. He has absolutely no recollection of where he put them...or so he claims. Of course, three days ago when I dragged them all out to go shoe, sock and underwear shopping, Jack was the only one who still had viable underpants, so I didn't buy him any. Now I have to go to Target tomorrow and completely re-outfit him. Let's not think about the underpants he's been wearing for three days though.

Speaking of shoe shopping, Quinn picked out some shoes that flash red lights when he walks. Somehow he's never had light-up shoes before and he is de-fucking-lighted. (Ha, ha! Pun not intended, but awesome.) He is stomping around all over Maryland. Originally he wanted some camouflage shoes that he saw first so he could "be invisible," but they didn't fit right.

Sam had an ice cream social for his new school a couple of days ago. Last May, when he was a walking anxiety attack over going to his new school, we took him over there to spend the morning and see what it was like. The counselor there told him about an ice cream social where he could eat as much ice cream as he wanted. He was cured. Suddenly he was fine with the new school. For a kid as complicated as Sam is, sometimes it takes the simplest things to chill him out. Also, his new school is a Title 1 school or some such thing, which means that he gets free breakfast every day if he wants. You should have seen his eyes widen when he heard that. I think he's going to be okay.

Bottom line: my kids are awesome. Every single day those kids do seventy things each that make me fall in love with them all over again. Sure, they do forty things that make me wish I believed in spanking, but I sure do like those kids a lot.

Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is the School Bus Here Yet?

So, remember a few days ago, when I said that part of me didn't want to send my kids back to school? Yeah, screw that. These kids need to go to school, and they need to go to school YESTERDAY.

It is Day 70-something of summer vacation and my children are officially sick of each other and of me. I mean, we are still capable of functioning as a unit, but everyone's fuse is getting pretty short.

The best thing I can say about these last few days before school starts is that at least Jack didn't come up with any new stims this summer, per usual. You may remember last summer, when Jack started snorting every four seconds and I almost lost my mind. The year before, he developed a habit of burping repeatedly, which was also a bummer.

I was curious to see what he would do this year, but evidently I kept him busy enough that he didn't have to stim. And, I know—I'm pretty sure that's not how it works, but if it doesn't, explain to me why he only overdoes these stims during summer and over winter break.

Regardless, he's just using kind of a potpourri of past stims in an irregular, non-constant pattern that is far less nerve wracking than one new constant one, and thank God, because that way I don't have to worry about wanting to murder him. I just have to worry about keeping all three munchkins from murdering each other. I feel like a better mother that way.

And I'm not a bad mother because I want my kids in school ASAP. I mean, I love them dearly and I love spending time with them, but isn't that what weekends are for?

There are a couple of things that are holding me back from being completely ready for my kids to go to school. The first is that I have a clusterfuck of epic proportions regarding transportation for my three kids. Sam's new school is either a 20-minute drive or an hour-and-a-half bus ride away from home. And both his school and Jack and Quinn's school have exactly the same hours.

It's not the end of the world, but it's really messing with my schedule. At least I had one year when all three of them took the bus to and from the same school every day. That was nice.

Ah...the good old days.

The other thing that is keeping me from jumping up and down with joy is that I am always a little worried about sending Jack to school. This post I wrote last year for Laura Shumaker pretty much sums up how I feel every single August.

Jack has been doing really well lately (KNOCKONWOOD! KNOCKONWOOD! KNOCKONWOOD!), so I am hopeful that he'll do well at school this year. But on top of all the regular things I stress out about re: Jack and school (see: above referenced post from last year), Jack will be going into third grade this year. I'm terrified.

I remember last year's back to school night when I was sitting in the third grade classroom for Sam and I was terrified then and Sam can handle pretty much anything school throws at him. It is extremely possible that I will spend this school year in a state of constant hyperventilation. They're going to give him real grades, for Christ's sake. No more checks and smiley faces.

They all get to go in and meet their teachers this Friday, so I'll be spending tomorrow writing up everything anyone needs to know about Jack as long as it doesn't take more than one typed page. No problem though. How hard can it possibly be to sum up Jack in one page or less? It's not like he's complicated or anything.


I know some of your kids have already gone back to school and some of your kids don't go back for another week and a half. Good luck to all of you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As Long As We're Discussing Earthquakes

Today I had to go to the post office, but it seemed daunting to do so with three kids in tow, so when Sam said he wanted to stay home, I let him.

Naturally, one minute and thirty seconds after I left, an earthquake struck.

We were stopped at a traffic light about a half mile from our house and my first thought when the earthquake started was that my kids were having a fist fight in the back seat, making the car rock a little. I looked back at them several times though and they were both just starting out the windows.

Then the shaking became more noticeable and I was all, "Oh, fuck, what is wrong with the car?" I had followed that thought to its inevitable conclusion (the car funeral, followed by the hassle of finding a new car—I am not dramatic at all) when my mind finally connected the motion with the phenomenon and I realized it was an earthquake.

I've lived with earthquakes all my life. Until I moved to Maryland, I've always lived on or near a fault line (Utah —> the Bay Are —> Los Angeles —> the Bay Area —> Alaska), so I've spent most of my life assuming that an earthquake could hit at any time.

I don't remember when I felt my first earthquake, but I must've been a kid. I've experienced a bunch since, most memorably one in Alaska when we were in a K-Mart and all this merchandise fell off the shelves.

When I was little, I had a recurring nightmare about earthquakes, but if I remember correctly, the earthquake in the dream was kind of secondary to the volcanoes, which, I am almost sure, do not exist in Utah, where I grew up.

Incidentally, I was also afraid of man-eating red ants when I was a child.

I don't even remember where I was.

Oh, right. There was an earthquake, but we're all okay. The end.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Highlights, But Just the Dramatic Ones

You are probably aware that Team Stimey went on vacation a while back, but that I haven't written about it much. That is because it turns out that airplane and hotel travel with my family is...difficult.

We were about three days in when Jack reached the super saturation point of disregulation and started ping ponging around the American Southwest. He hung in there, but I'm not sure he spoke for the last week. Sam spoke—often and loudly—and sometimes accompanied by angrily crossed arms, furrowed brow, and a well-honed ability to throw an ill-timed tantrum. Quinn was Quinn, willing to follow the emotions of whomever had his attention at the time.

That's why I didn't write. At bedtime, I was too tired to do anything but lay in bed. Then it took me a week to recover once we got home. That said, my kids are funny, loving, wonderful, and, accepting their limitations, we had an amazing time.

Our trip was originally planned to go to the wedding of a friend in Colorado. It seemed ridiculous to be that far west and not visit my sister and her family in New Mexico, so we tacked on a week for that. Happily, my mother was able to join us in Albuquerque as well.

So there you have the back story. I will now present you with, for lack of a better phrase, The Front Stories.

Grand Junction, Colorado

You already know about our trip to Grand Junction. It was classic Team Stimey. Frankly, it couldn't have been MORE Team Stimey. Once we were there, however, we had a lovely time.

We stayed at a hotel in downtown Grand Junction, which could have also been named Land of Much Statuary. Seriously. Like on every corner. Much of it was really cool. I still haven't decided how I feel about some of it though. Like this zipper:


This bull was fun. It was in front of a bank.

There is a fourth poser in this photo that you will be meeting soon.
Do you see him?

Pig-icken (Vegetarians, look away!)

Remember how I told you that there was a barbecue the night before the wedding and they served pigicken? Well now Imma gonna show you! I'm sorry, but it is rare that I see a whole cooked pig head, especially one whose body has been stuffed with chickens.  I was suitably impressed.


I kept telling random kids about the pig head on the tray over by the parking lot, because I figured if anyone would be as impressed as I was, it would be a six-year-old.

My goodness, but Colorado is gorgeous.

 So say we all.

I love that photo up there of the Q-ball. The barbecue was up in the...mountains? Canyons? Mesas? Whatever the hell you wanna call them, they are gorgeous. There was a trailhead at the picnic site and the munchkins and I went on a couple of jaunts up into the hills.

The kiddos (Sam pictured here) wanted to bushwhack.
Fortunately, they only found a rabbit and not a rattlesnake.

Our friends' families had planned well and had all kinds of games prepared to keep everyone's kids busy. Sam and Quinn were delighted, especially once they found out that they could win things such as recorders and whoopie cushions. Alex and I were thrilled because recorders and whoopie cushions are essential for plane travel with smallish children.

Quinn and Sam also won these fancy cups, which traveled all the way back to Maryland with us.

You might notice that Quinn's cup has a lemon on it. He harassed the bartender until she gave it to him. He also spent a good amount of time chatting her up all by himself as well, so I feel proud that he is learning some crucial life skills.

Jack was especially excited about the potential for hiking. We had a hard time making him turn back on our last trip out and then, when we were trying to eat, he kept trying to escape up into the wilderness.

Shortly after this, we handed him an iPad  to keep him
in one place for his safety and our sanity.

Grand Junction —> Albuquerque

The day after the wedding we departed for Albuquerque. We had to leave really early in the morning to get to the airport on time, which is always dangerous for Team Stimey Junior and their sensitive stomachs. The fact that Quinn curled up in a ball on the floor of the hotel breakfast area should have tipped us off to what we were in for.

He was the first to puke in the rental car.

Immediately afterward, however, he felt better and started demanding food. Yay! One down!

About an hour later, Jack said, "Will you pull over so I can barf?" Alex told him to hold on because there was an exit coming up in a couple of miles. Jack then horked ALL OVER the floor of the backseat. Alex has learned his lesson. And that lesson is: Trust Jack.

After our clean-up stop, Sam said something to the effect of, "I'm a little nervous that I'm the only one who hasn't thrown up."

And well, he should have been nervous, because what was once an observation and a joke about, ha, ha, our family pukes a lot, isn't Team Stimey ridiculous? has become an HONEST TO GOD WE CAN'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT VOMITING ALL OVER PHENOMENON. Seriously. What up wit dat?

Anywho. When Sam said he needed us to pull over a while later, Alex listened. Fortunately, he didn't need to puke.

He DID need to lie in the brush by the side of the road though.

I felt sorry for him, so I let him sit in the front seat and I sat in the back, which at least gave me a close up view of the next time Jack threw up all over the car.

It was kind of embarrassing to return that rental car.

In happier news, no one has thrown up since.


My kids haven't seen my sister and her family for at least a couple of years, but they walked in and were immediately best friends. Although I kind of blew Quinn's mind by telling him that those kids he was playing with? They were his cousins.

This is Quinn at the exact moment he said with total amazement, "COUSINS?!"

Oh, of course! THAT is why we flew here to hang out with these people.

My kids hadn't been to New Mexico to see my sister and her family for more than three years, but Jack walked in, took a loop around the house and asked, "Where is the typewriter?" He was remembering a typewriter that had been on a table three years ago but that wasn't there anymore. My sister-in-law went and found it, commented that the keys were all jammed, and told Jack he could play on it all he wanted. Then Jack fixed the typewriter.

That kid amazes me every single day.

The day after we got to Albuquerque, my mom flew in. Quinn was completely bummed out to have cousins, aunts, and a nana to play with.

Completely bummed.

The Tram

There is this great place in Albuquerque where you can take the WORLD'S LONGEST (passenger) TRAMWAY up the mountain. It was cool.

If you remember from a few days ago, I forced everyone to go on a hike. Contrary to all the whining, it was a really nice hike with some beautiful vistas along the way.

I asked my mom to move a little to her left, but she refused.

Alex and Sam crapped out first, so they missed this little outcropping where I let Quinn hang out on the edge of a cliff.

What? I didn't push him off or anything.

Shortly thereafter, my sister, her kids, and Quinn fell by the wayside, leaving only me, Jack, and my mom. Jack wanted to walk to the end of the trail, but I felt bad about abandoning most of our party by the wayside, so we turned back, but not until we stopped at one last viewpoint.

Petroglyph National Monument

I also forced my family to go on another hike, this one with even more disastrous results. We went to this place that has petroglyphs on rocks and you walk around and look at them, or, if you're Sam, you run up and down the mountain and glance at the petroglyphs as you speed by.

We arrived before my sister did, so me, Alex, and our munchkins headed up the trail while my mom waited for my sister. Of course, we had to first apply sunscreen, which Alex coated liberally on the children, who then used the extra on their bodies to cover Alex too.

Look at Quinn's legs.

We made it to the top...

(the top)

...and were halfway down by the time my sister arrived. Her older kid immediately joined Sam in his galloping up and down the hill, while her younger son and my mom decided to hike it together. My sister, who is clearly related to me, sat at the bottom of the hill with Team Stimey and watched Quinn get more and more agitated over the fact that the only one who had thought to bring water (my mom) was presently at the top of a small mountain.

"The only thing that could possibly make me madder
is if you take a photo of me...AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!"

The "mountain" was small enough that you could see the hikers on it almost all the way up and down, so we kept tabs on my mom in hopes that she would hustle down the mountain and give us her water.

My mom and nephew are about a third of the way down the slope there.
Sam is in white in the middle.

At some point, we looked up and watched her walking up the mountain toward my nephew, which was weird, considering they were on their way down the trail. Then, we saw her pouring the precious, precious water out. My sister and I, being my sister and I, started whining and complaining about these actions.

Naturally when we found out later that she was walking back up to my nephew because she had TUMBLED DOWN THE TRAIL and that she had been pouring water ONTO HER BLOODY HAND, we felt bad about making fun of her.

I feel kind of lucky that she didn't crack her head open or break a bone considering the nature of the trail and the calamitous fall. Mostly she got abraded and bruised and also suffered a dramatic slice on her leg.

Somewhat awesomely, my sister is a real live doctor.

And also kind of a nerd-ball.

The Zoo

Trips to the zoo are always fun, especially when that zoo has a train and polar bears. The Albuquerque Zoo also has a gorilla that Alex watched barf into its hand and then re-eat it. Even wild animals are willing to play along with Team Stimey. You're welcome for my not sharing THAT photo.

Instead I'll show you one of the polar bears. Because polar bears are awesome.

I like that he's a triangle here.

I am also going to show you this photo of my kids and my nephews because I got thiiiiis close to capturing five smiles on five kids.

Damn you, Quinn.

The Rest

There were, of course, other things that happened while we were on vacation, but I think I captured the most dramatic here. Mostly we had a good time with my sister and her family. They're really cool people. I wish it were not so hard to find ways to see them more often.

Our trip home was pretty uneventful, but for our long layover in Houston, where we (read: Jack) broke a glass at dinner and we ended up with kind of the perfect setting for my last vacation photo.

CAUTION. We are hazardous.

I took that photo above shortly before Jack was almost pancaked by a speeding airport cart. I did not find the Houston airport very welcoming. I wrote about it last week. Aside from the incident recounted there, I also got dirty looks about a kid behavior from some other people, including a lady who ended up sitting next to me for the flight from Houston to Baltimore. THAT was awesome. I cold shouldered her like nobody's business. I don't think she noticed.

And that was that. We are home and we don't have to travel again for months. MONTHS! And all of America, but for a small swath of the DC Metro area, breathes easy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Place Team Stimey Shouldn't Go

It's Native American Week here at Camp Stimey—or American Indian Week—I don't know which I'm supposed to say. If you want, we can just call it Hasn't School Started YET Week?

I'm really spending most of the week vacillating wildly between sadness that I have to send my kiddos back to school and a desire to slap backpacks on them and make them stand outside and wait for the school bus until it comes—thunderstorms and dead of night be dammed.

But instead, I'm sort of shuffling along with American Indian Week, mostly because Sam is waaaay into them and he puts up with a lot from his brothers, so it seemed only fair to dedicate a week to him. We started when we were on vacation in New Mexico and I forced everyone to go to Petroglyph National Monument with me, where my mother promptly fell down a mountain. (After which I emphatically extended my hand, shook hers, and said, "Welcome to Team Stimey.") Fortunately her injuries were more dramatic than serious.

A big part of my plan for Native American Week was a trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in DC. That was to happen today. We actually managed to get there without major crisis AND found a parking spot so close to the entrance that I had to check three times to assure myself that I wasn't parked in a handicapped space.

I kind of wish we hadn't squandered all our good luck on the parking space, but whatever. I put about 25 quarters in the parking meter (it was only supposed to take 16 to give me two hours, but it ate a bunch of them) and we headed inside.

The building is pretty amazing, I'll give it that—especially the windows that take the sun and use it to spray rainbows all over the place.

We should have just gone home then.

The rainbows looked especially nice with Quinn's tie dye t-shirt that we made during Art Week, which hasn't gotten any air time here on the blog as of yet.

Frankly, I don't think my kids are quite old enough for the American Indian Museum. I might try to take Sam back by himself sometime, but Jack and Quinn were not impressed. They did like some of the interactive computer displays, but do you know what interactive computer displays ensure?

That no one looks at the actual exhibit.

That case was full of amazing beaded clothing and objects, but my kids barely saw them because they were too busy pushing buttons on the touchscreens in front of them while I bobbed about exclaiming, "You guys! You guys! Look at these! Get close to them and look at all the beads! Look how much work it took to make these! You guys! You guys!"

Take, for instance, this flag, which is made up of I don't know how many thousands of teeny tiny beads that are arranged so precisely as to form words within the pattern of the flag.

It is seriously an amazing piece of art.

And here is Sam looking at it:

"Look! You can zoom in on it to see it better!" he said.

We wandered through a bunch of the exhibits, but no one but Sam was willing to listen to me read the stories on the signs all around the museum and the way they were set up was such that it was hard for Jack and Quinn to appreciate anything. (Not that it was all the museum's fault, mind you.)

I don't know what this is a statue of, but I'm pretty sure that whenever you run across such a thing, you are supposed to take a photograph of it. Preferably with your children in front.

Also, it was the only object that was large and not behind glass,
allowing my kids to be able to focus on it.

We were headed for the exit when we heard drums from the main lobby of the museum where we found this guy:

Thank God for him, because it turns out that Jack LOVES drums. In fact, all three of my kids were enough into listening to him talk, drum, and sing that my murderous rage ebbed a little bit and actually allowed me to relax and enjoy sitting among my children.

Jack in particular was so into the drum, that I briefly considered telling him about the big drum we have in the basement that he used to play with. Then I came to my senses and realized how loud that would make my home.

I may still bring it to his attention though. That will be for Stimey Abandons Her Kids and Her House Week.

We returned to our car with 46 minutes of our original two hours still left on the parking meter. I don't think I've ever gone through a museum that fast. In fact, it took us longer to buy the stuff on our school supply lists at Target yesterday.

We'll be beading tomorrow. I'm hoping that it will be an activity devoid of murderous rage, but I'm not guaranteeing anything.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe I AM ready to send my kids back to school.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We arrived safely home from vacation late last night to a very happy dog and extremely comfortable beds. We had a great trip, but it is good to be home. Although I feel like I need to nap for about sixteen years. Vacation is tiring.

We arrived home just in time for my monthly deadline to post at Hopeful Parents. Happily, a shitload of judgmental assholes at the Houston airport yesterday gave me something to write about. We got a bunch of raised eyebrows at that airport yesterday. You can read about one incident at Hopeful Parents: Parenting with an Audience.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Anatomy of a Photo

Yesterday Team Stimey and the rest of the assorted riff raff we are visiting here in New Mexico went on a tram ride up the Sandia mountains and then I forced everyone to take a short hike with me. This photo pretty accurately captures the mood of the day.

l to r: Alex, Quinn, nephew 1, my sister, nephew 2, Sam, my mom, Jack

Here is what this photo says to me:

Alex: I am pretending to smile, but I would much rather be sitting over at the restaurant than participating in this death march.

Quinn: The sun is in my eyes and my butt itches.

Nephews and sister: Look at how adorable and photogenic we are. None of us want to hike with you, Aunt Stimey, but we're not going to be obnoxious about it because someone has taught us to be good sports.

Sam: This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

My mom: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. I love being with my family.

Jack: I am completely disregulated!! What is that over there? I think I will go chase it!

Vacation is all kinds of fun and I am having such a great time with my family. But OH MY DEAR LORD, TRAVELING WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN IS EXHAUSTING.


I also want to tell you this one last thing because it amuses me to no end. My house sitter emailed me to tell me that she is using gardening gloves to pick up Squeaky to medicate her. I almost fell over from laughing when I read that.  Then she followed up with, "Holding them is kind of like holding a wet bar of soap, no?"

Thank you, house sitter friend, I needed that laugh.


Also, I'm shamelessly soliciting votes for this best special needs blog contest over at Parents' Magazine, because I think it would be a really lovely thing to put on my resume. You can vote for me directly at this link, but I think you might have to register and it's a pain in the ass, but have I told you how pretty that shirt makes your eyes look?

I'm actually encouraged that they've included a special needs category in their Best Blog Awards (nominate your favorite!), because remember April?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Congratulations, Friends!

I am still on vacation and have much to write and many foibles to relate, but I want to take a moment to say congratulations to our friends Jed and Lori, who got married this last Sunday in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

They're beautiful too, aren't they?

Alex and I have known Jed forever. (College was forever ago, right?) He was Alex's best man at our wedding. He is a wonderful guy. And his new wife seems beyond cool. Alex and I were so happy to be at their wedding, and Alex was honored to be Jed's best man.

Out of respect for his manliness, I won't publish
the photo of Alex wiping away a tear.

Alex and I enjoyed our evening dressed up in real-person clothes with our kids safely squirreled away with a babysitter.

Yeah, I know. You can't really see the real-person clothes here.

Remember what I said about the most beautiful place I've seen? Here is a photo of the location of the night-before-the-wedding barbecue. (Which was complete with pigicken—a pig stuffed with chicken and then smoked. Who fucking knew?)

There is a reason people like Colorado.

Jed and Lori, may you have a lifetime of happiness. All of Team Stimey are thrilled for you!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And Then a Giant Chasm Opened Up in the Earth and Swallowed the Rental Car

Oh my God, you guys, never travel with us.

It all seemed so easy. A quick drive to the airport, a quick flight to Houston, a sixteen-hour (I exaggerate. But just a little.) run through the airport to get to our next gate, a quick flight to Denver, then a last quick drive to Grand Junction.

Listen, I need someone to start writing social stories for me so I'm not slammed in the face by the fact that everything goes wrong every time I try to do...anything. For background, you might want to read this post about the last time we flew. Or this one, from the time before that.

Let's forget the stopped traffic on the way to the airport that left me nervously drumming my hand on the car door and muttering, "THIS is why you depart for the airport three hours before your flight leaves," which is a semi-damaging tenet that my mom passed on to me, but that very occasionally becomes a truism.

Fortunately, luck was with us, and we arrived at our gate five whole minutes before they began boarding our flight. Like I said yesterday, I was in my own row in front of Jack, Quinn, and Alex, and diagonally across the aisle in front of Sam, which was awesome, but for the fact that the very last person on the plane was the lady sitting in the middle seat of my row and who was extremely nice, but kinda took up part of my seat too and then fell asleep and started snoring, which is when I had my sensory processing panic attack. (This looks to most people like me putting on my headphones, leaning awkwardly into the aisle—where the drink cart kept hitting me—and using my hair as a curtain between me and my sensory stress.)

Other than that, however, the flight was fine. I mean, Sam was obviously miserable, maybe due to plane sickness, or stress about having to sit in one place, or I don't know what, but he wouldn't even play his DSi. When that happens, I tend to check his pulse to make sure he's still alive. Then, about a half hour before the plane landed, he started to FREAK OUT.

His freak out mostly consisted of crying and moaning loudly, and it was a bummer for all involved.

Our layover was not so bad, but for the vitriolic fight Alex and I had about appropriate airport dinner options vis-à-vis time, palatability, and acceptability to Team Stimey Junior. Everyone ate, Jack and I did the cha cha slide, and I decided that I was going to sit with Quinn and Jack and let Alex take the seat by himself.

I do have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting next to the tiniest seat mate in the world (Quinn). I enjoyed it less when Sam started barfing across the aisle from me. I do have to commend him on his technique though. Two bags, no spillage. The kid is a pro at plane barfing by now.

I handed the bags to Alex (what he did with them, I don't know, nor do I care), and thought we had been kind of unobtrusive about the whole thing until I asked Alex for his barf bag just in case we needed another one and three different people handed us their bags.

We were evidently the cause of some concern.

The rest of the flight went all right. Sam passed out on his tray table with a blanket over his head and Quinn and Jack talked and talked and talked to me. We played a rousing game of Stack the States on my iPad, which was awesome until the munchkins got too raucous and excited (Seriously, what's up with that? It's an educational game for Christ's sake.) and I had to turn it off and have them play Tiny Tower.

When we were getting off the plane, I made a face and jokingly said to one of the ladies who gave us her barf bag, "I guess we're THAT family, ha, ha," to which she just nodded, leaving us to stand there in awkward silence.

We were all happy to have arrived, but Alex and I knew something that we hadn't told the kids—our final destination was still hours away by car. By this point, it was 9:30 p.m. Colorado time, which makes it 11:30 Maryland time, which means that the munchkins fell asleep almost the second we started our car.

We programmed our GPS and it estimated our arrival time as 1:32 a.m.

And I was all, oh, it's just a two-hour drive because clearly this GPS is still on East Coast time what with the inability of such a device to connect to a satellite and discover the real goddamn time.

It was when we got on I-70 and the fucking thing was all, "Drive two. hundred. and. thirty. nine. miles." that I figured out how far away Grand Junction actually is from Denver, Colorado. Way to live in the middle of nowhere, friends getting married. I'm sure it's beautiful out here and all, but do you have any idea how hard it is to get to you?

Because the kiddos were asleep, the car ride was pretty peaceful, except for the occasional shout of "He's hitting me with his head!" and "Why can't I use Jack as a pillow?!" At 12:05 a.m., I commented to Alex, "They've been champs," and was immediately answered by Sam's anguished shout from the back seat: "YOU'RE KILLING ME!"

At about 12:30, we stopped for a second and I was relegated to the back seat between Quinn and Jack so Sam could stretch out in the front seat. Apparently, Sam can whine even more than me, which is surprising, as I am regional champ and somewhat of a local legend in that regard.

An hour and 44 ounces of caffeinated soda later, we arrived at our hotel. It was 3:30 Maryland time. I was a little bit concerned that our kids would wake up to walk up to our room and then decide it was morning and they should start, I don't know, tap dancing or something. Fortunately, they immediately went to sleep. As did Alex and I.

And that, my dear friends, is why you should never travel with Team Stimey.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Losing Extraneous Body Parts and Getting Funky

My kids are actively trying to kill each other this morning, which is fortunate considering I'm going to force them to sit next to each other on an airplane this afternoon. Somehow, however, Alex ended up in a row with all three kids and I ended up in an entirely different row. I'm not just going to pretend I don't know them, but I'm going to pretend to be a judgey stranger complete with snide comments and arched eyebrows.

Quinn lost his first tooth yesterday, and more excited he could not be. Although he freaked out last night because Jack was humming in their room and Quinn couldn't go to sleep and he was really upset about the ramifications of that re: the tooth fairy.

Sam cut a chunk out of the very front of his hair a couple of days ago. It took me something like a day and a half to notice. I kept thinking he looked different but I couldn't figure out why and then I looked closer and saw that he had chopped off a big ol' chunk. He says it is because there was crunchy stuff in it. I think I should re-teach him about hair washing. Perhaps we need a Personal Hygiene Week for Camp Stimey.

Regardless, I had to take him for a haircut. Since he'd cut that one chunk so short, they had to buzz cut him.

At, ease, soldier!

I never told you about Jack's end-of-camp performance, but it went really well. Jack (and the other kids) was/were adorable. All the kids said what their favorite part of camp was. Jack said, "My favorite part of camp is lunch because I get to eat food."

Then they did their dance to the Cha Cha Slide, which was amazing for me, because when he has to perform with kids at school, he kind of stands in the corner and fidgets, I'm guessing because he is sensorily overwhelmed. At camp, he did every single movement. It was the best thing I've ever seen.

It was also awesome to hear Jack perseverate on the opening lines to the song, especially because they end with the line, "And this time we're gonna get funky!" which, of course, Jack says with the proper vim and vigor.

Now I have to go pack for the airplane to try to prevent my kids from murdering each other in the sky. If you see these three hooligans in your airport this afternoon, you might want to avoid us.