Tag Archives: Alex

Question?: Asperger Syndrome Test

Maria asks…

Question to people who know about asperger syndrome?

I was diagnosed with asperger syndrome when I was 4. For much of my early child hood I ticked many of the boxes for asperger‘s. Now I’m 14 and I’m starting to have doubts. I don’t tick much of the boxes at all now and I’m wondering if I’ve been mis-diagnosed. I’m a very sociable person now and I function very well in social situations. Is it worth bein tested again or should I just trust what the doctor said when I was 4?

admin answers:

Alex,
You were only 4 when there was a diagnosis.

It is always good to have a second opinion. It does not hurt. I would go to another doctor that does not know your history and describe to him/her what you mention here.

You might not need a doctor. If it does not interfere with your daily life and you feel you don’t have the previous diagnoses, then I would pitch the diagnoses out the window.

Some of the symptoms of asperger syndrome
– lack of eye contact with other people
– dislike or avoid social interactions

Steve Lam
Autism Specialist
Tutors For Less

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The Distinguished Frankencat

I have this super awesome cat named Denali. She is awesome. SUPER awesome.

This is her:

OH MY GOD, LOOK AT HER. SUPER AWESOME, RIGHT?

She was my sister’s cat until my sister moved in with the woman whom she would eventually marry and who is deathly (I’m not kidding about that. Really. DEATHLY.) allergic to cats. Denali lost the power struggle between human love and cat love. It probably worked out for the best for my sister.

It definitely worked out best for me, because I got Denali.

Denali is persnickety. She ONLY liked my sister for a long time. Then she ONLY liked me. Now she likes Alex too. Although we still laugh about the night that Alex was sleeping because it was 3 am and Denali, who sleeps on my pillow above my head, freaked out for absolutely no reason and started attacking Alex’s head.

This is only made funnier by the fact that Denali is a polydactyl cat, meaning she has a ton of extra toes on each foot, making her gigantic paw attacks even more deadly.

Denali, however, does NOT care for the children. I should repeat that. DENALI DOES NOT CARE FOR THE CHILDREN.

She used to hang out under our bunk beds and if I asked my kids to crawl under there to pick up toys, they would start sobbing about how they were afraid of Denali. She made her feelings about kids known.

She hangs out upstairs all day and only comes down after the kids go to bed. If a child gets within, say, about three feet of her, she starts hissing. Every once in a while, a kid will wander into the room after their bedtime, catching Denali with her proverbial pants down. Sometimes, if Alex or I has her on one of our laps, we’ll let them pet her, because she is less likely to strike at them if we are holding her.

An angrier cat you have never seen when that happens. She flattens her little ears and manages to look more put out than you’d think would be possible considering she is incapable of frowning.

All of this information about Denali is to preface the fact that she had, like, a ping pong ball-sized cancerous tumor that I found a couple of weeks ago and she had surgery Monday to have it removed.

My kids are totally flipped out about it. Sam says he’s never going to touch her again. (From inside Denali’s head: “I should have done this YEARS ago!”) I think they heard us explain surgery and fixated on the “cut her open” bit. In their minds, I believe that they think that her incision site is at risk of popping open at any time for the rest of her life.

Kind of like a real life, furry piñata. Only instead of candy, there is blood and organs.

This is why I have to hide the cat from them until her fur grows back, because they will not do well if they run into Denali 2.0: Frankencat.

Denali: “Why must you humiliate me on the interwebz?”

I’m happy to report that she seems to be doing well. We napped for a long time together this afternoon. Her presence made me feel like I was being a good cat mom instead of a loser who can’t keep her eyes open for more than three hours at a stretch. The dog slept with us too. But she is legitimately a layabout.

I might have to help her recuperate tomorrow also. It depends how tired I am.

Cross your fingers that her recovery is smooth and that her cancer is gone.

*****

Also, over at White Knuckle Parenting this week, I wrote about the constant running narrative about good manners that I force my kids to listen to in public. If I have to say, “Look out for people!” fewer than 15 times a day, it is likely that we haven’t left the house.

View the original article here

An Emotional Evening in Stimeyland

Tonight was back-to-school night at Jack’s school. This is the third back-to-school night I’ve been to in a week. It has been a little hectic. Also, at back-to-school night for 5th graders in the highly gifted program (Sam, yesterday), the evident goal is to make all the parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT over applying to highly gifted middle schools.

Mission accomplished.

But this isn’t that post. This is about Jack’s back-to-school night, which was cool. Half of his class showed up, so there were three of us in the room. I also got to see the lava lamp by the teacher’s desk that Jack is obsessed with.

But this isn’t that post either. This is about the instrumental music meeting that took place before the class meeting. Kids have the option of playing an instrument in 4th grade. I was kind of dreading Jack wanting to play an instrument because I was imagining epic battles during practice time.

I asked him though if he wanted to play an instrument though, because he gets to choose if he wants to play an instrument. He said he didn’t want to. But then he came home a few days later with a sheet on which was written and circled, “DRUMS.”

Because of course.

I spent a little while mourning my quiet house and then I started to get excited. And Jack was excited. And I was excited that Jack was excited. And I figured that this is something he might actually like to practice. Because that kid LOVES drums. I have a photo of him with every single street performer drumming on buckets that we have ever passed.

I showed up for the instrumental music meeting tonight all excited to learn what kind of drum we had to procure for practice. What I learned instead was the philosophy behind not offering drums as an instrumental music option in elementary school, which is weird, because it was an adult who wrote “DRUMS” on his page and circled it.

I went to the hallway and texted Alex to tell him that Jack couldn’t take drums and then I stared at my phone a little more, trying to pretend that I wasn’t broken up.

Because Jack was excited about something that would take extra work and he still wanted to do it. I don’t give a shit if elementary schools don’t want to offer drums. But don’t write down “DRUMS” and then tell the autistic kid he can’t play them. I was already dreading the conversation with him. I imagined it was going to involve across the board disappointment.

Then a nice lady who turned out to be the art teacher saw me looking sad and said, “Are you okay?”

And….

Then she took me to see the (non-instrumental) music teacher who gave me a tissue and I cried even harder, because they were SO nice to me. And they both listened to me and told me they’d met Jack and the music teacher told me how Jack had played the African drums in music and was totally into them and how she could totally see that music is important to him and this all made me cry even more and then she told me about the percussion class they hold once a week before school starting in October.

How great is that? That might be even better than instrumental music drumming. They’re going to have a DRUM CIRCLE.

I managed to pull myself together in time for the full-fourth grade presentation at which they showed a slide that said, “Homework, participation, effort, and work study skills are not factored into grades,” followed by a list of tests and “informal observations” that ARE factored into grades.

I was more than pleased to see that homework thing, but the rest of that sentence was baffling to me. I guess you can’t have percussion class AND A’s (or B+’s) for effort all in one school.

Now, lest you think I hogged all of the emotional drama of the evening, you should know that a squirrel drowned in our swimming pool. Alex texted me a photo of the funeral.

Alex also texted me a photo of the squorpse, but I won’t subject you to that.*

This was all taking place at the same time as back-to-school night. See, we’re draining our pool right now and there’s only a few inches of water in it now, so there isn’t a cover on it. I’ve seen squirrels balancing on the edge of it, but I assumed that because squirrels can jump from one tiny branch to another tiny branch in a different tree that they wouldn’t fall into the swimming pool.

I was wrong.

The children fished the squirrel out with our pool net.

Related: We might need a new pool net.

Alex dug a grave, Quinn and Sam gathered flowers, and Alex presided over the funeral at which all four mourners said some words for the squirrel. (Jack: “Poor guy.” Quinn: “He was a good squirrel.”)

Rest in peace, wild squorpse.**

Welcome to Stimeyland, the home of many, many, MANY buried, deceased rodents, as well as a good number of tears. If we ever sell our house, we’re going to have to disclose that our yard is full of tiny, buried rodent skeletons.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better for everyone. Especially the squirrels.

* Squorpse: This term was originally coined by KC. I will probably never give her credit for it again. Tell everyone you know that I made it up.

** I totally invented the term “squorpse.”

View the original article here

Running, Weight & Zombies

Yesterday, two people told me—at two different times—that I looked like I had lost weight. I then took this information to Alex to confirm, which is always a sketchy proposition, because, really, what is he going to say? (He confirmed, with a specific about my ass.)

This is actually news to me because, although I have been running, I don’t weigh myself. I don’t weigh myself because, you know, ICK. No one wants to see that number. Also, it is incredibly demoralizing to follow it closely. Not to mention that the numbers don’t tell you the whole story of what your body is doing.

I don’t see the change in my body. Maybe this is because I have a negative self-image or because I have little to no ability to objectively look at myself. Maybe I’m just not spending enough time looking in a mirror. Maybe it’s just that I was wearing good clothes yesterday. Maybe my body is simply rearranging its current weight into a more pleasing configuration.

What is likely happening is that my fatty parts are shrinking and my muscly parts are growing.

See, while I don’t track my weight and I haven’t seen changes in the mirror, I HAVE noticed that I was able to semi-rapidly transport myself on foot from my house to Sam’s soccer game yesterday, a distance of nearly four miles. I HAVE noticed that I can now reliably go for a 3+ mile run in the evening with only a short walking interval in the middle.

(I have also noticed that it is much harder to run in the middle of the day—say, at a time when soccer games are played—when it is 90 degrees outside.)

I am running to lose weight, but also to get fit. I’m thrilled that people are seeing positive changes in me, but even more, I am proud that my body is so much stronger than it was a few months ago. Last spring, running for two minutes intervals on my treadmill was a killer. Now, I feel confident that I could run a 5k with no problem.

It would be a SLOW 5k, but I could do it.

I think that is cool.

Here’s the thing. I am a runner. I used to run daily. I loved it. I have always been a runner, even though I haven’t always run. I have gone long stretches, years even, without running, but never does my body feel better than when I run every day. I started up again last spring, in a largely on and off fashion.

I’m trying to be a lot more strict with myself about how often I run. I figure that success begets success, right? Tell me I look like I’ve lost weight and I will try to run to my kid’s soccer game later that day. Tell me I’m awesome for trying to run to my kid’s soccer game and I will get up the next morning and run a two and a half-plus mile loop before Alex even wakes up. Let me run a two and half-plus mile loop in the morning, and I’ll buy a grilled chicken wrap at the doughnut store for lunch instead of a doughnut.

Or three doughnuts each, if you’re my kids.

Also, I have to run more regularly because I was dumb enough to sign up for the Run For Your Lives race in late October. This is a 5k obstacle race that features people dressed up like zombies who try to catch you. The zombies will not care about my progress or the fact that I CAN run a 5k. They will just care that I can run a SLOW 5k.

I’m a little panicked about that. I spend most of my runs these days worrying about whether I will be faster than the zombies and also wondering if I will be facing shambling zombies or running zombies. It seems more sporting to have them be shamblers, but the zombie apocalypse has never been about sportsmanship.

To train, I’ve been running using the Zombies, Run app. It seems appropriate.

Part of my new, healthy regimen involves going to bed at 10 or 11 pm every night. I miss 1 am a lot. That 11pm to 2 am time was Stimey Time. BUT, I also feel a lot better about myself when I don’t nap for three hours during the day. Also, I run faster and feel less like I’m going to fall down when I’m less tired. That said, I’m off to bed. See you tomorrow—after my run. I might try to add a half mile to the loop I ran this morning.

View the original article here

The Turtle

I’m not going to keep you in suspense about my 8k race.

(1) I finished.
(2) I ran the whole thing.
(3) I finished 621st out of 627 runners.

Oh, yes, I did.

In case you are wondering, I am the turtle referred to in the title up there. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it sure as hell finished it. I am really, really (really) proud of myself.

Check me out as I crossed the finish line:

Stimey crosses the finish line! Actually, this is me re-creating my crossing the finish line for my friend Barrie who was took this super flattering photo.

I had an amazing time. Alex took Jack to hockey and Quinn to gymnastics and I headed out to the race by myself. I was so happy though to have my own support team there to take care of me. My friend Lindsay was there with her kids to run the 2-mile fun run and they stayed for me. Amazing.

My friend Emily made a sign to cheer me on and she rooted for me from two different places on the race route. Phenomenal.

My friend Melissa decided to race too and she kicked some ass. I saw her run off in front of me at the start line. I didn’t see her again until the end. She’s my inspiration.

Lindsay and Melissa, each joined by her kids, ran me in the last stretch. It was really wonderful. Although I’m a little mad at Melissa’s daughter, however, for leaving me in her dust in the last meters before the finish line. Evidently, she is still claiming to have won the race. That’s her in that photo above. I think she might be wondering why *I* am having my photo taken when clearly *she* is the one who won.

Then there were the people who stayed on the race course long after the fast runners, medium runners, and slow runners went by to cheer on the stragglers. I got a little teary around mile four when I ran past, among others, a guy emphatically clapping for me on his porch. People are nice.

I also learned that if you are one of the laaaaaaast people across the finish line, everyone cheers really loud for you and your sticktoitiveness.

Support like that is even more awesome than 8-minute miles.

I mean, I assume. I wouldn’t know for sure. It’ll be a long time before I run an 8-minute mile.

An 8k is aaaaalllmost 5 miles and I ran it in about an hour and 12 minutes, which means I ran about fourteen-and-a-half minute miles, which sounds about right. The GPS on my phone thinks I ran farther and faster than I actually did, which makes me kind of love the GPS. I mean, it was awesome to hear in my headphones: “You have run one point zero miles at 13 minutes and four seconds per mile.” Once it got to five miles though, and I still had nearly a mile to go, I started to wonder about its accuracy.

Stimey's 5.71-mile 8k There are many funky things going on in this phone screenshot.

Let’s start at the top.

(1) 5.71 miles? That would make me awesome, but I don’t think I zigzagged along the racecourse enough to add a whole three-quarters of a mile to the route. I might need to invest in a better, non-iPhone-app GPS.

(2) Run/Jog: At least it didn’t peg my speed as “walk,” but way to twist the knife a little, Map My Run, with that, “Well, you’re not reeealllly running, are you now, Stimey?” dig.

(3) Again with the 5.71 miles. Yes. I know. You think I’m awesome, but you don’t have to lie to me twice.

(4) I started and stopped the app a little on the outside of my run, which added the extra time, but I DO appreciate the little gold trophy. Maybe they gave it to me because I ran so many damn miles. (5.71 of them.)

(5) A Burt’s Bees Facebook contest?! I should click that!

I had to scroll down and take a different screenshot for my next set of stats.

Stimey's race stats I know you’re bored. But if you let me get it all out today, then I won’t talk about it for the next six months.

I’m not sure at what point I was running nearly 18 miles an hour, but good for me! I think my 3:22 min/mi pace might put me in some record books too. Either I’m not smart enough to understand these stats, or I actually won the race and the reason I was running by myself was because I was so goddamned fast.

I’m going to go with the latter.

Frankly, even a 13 minute mile is pretty outlandish for me.

Okay. So thems the basics. Some other stuff happened too. Let’s see. Here are some of them:

• When I got a text from Alex 15 minutes before the race was too start I was all, “Awwww, he’s texting to wish me good luck!” But he was really texting me to find out if I knew the wifi password at the hockey rink. I eventually forgave him, but only because he toted the children around all morning and then rubbed my back later.

• When that racewalker passed me at the half-mile mark and I never saw her again, I started to realize that I run just about as fast as most people walk. In fact, my race friends (although I don’t think they knew that’s who they were) were two women, one who stayed mostly ahead of me and one who stayed mostly behind me, who were walk/running the race and stayed at just about the same pace as my steady shuffle.

• There was a short stretch of road near the midpoint turnaround where I actually saw other runners because we were running on the same road. I was excited to get to the turnaround and see how many people were behind me. Yes, a million people passed me and a million people started and stayed in front of me, but I was sure that I couldn’t possibly be the slowest runner to have registered for the race. I was right. There were…several racers behind me. Like, at least 10—as well as the truck that picks up collapsed runners and cones to reopen the streets. I felt a little bit like that truck was a vulture circling around me.

• Also, can we talk about water stations for a minute? I run with a water bottle, because it helps me to run, but I got a cup of water at both water stations because I don’t pass up anything that is free. My question is, can someone tell me how you’re supposed to drink from a cup when you’re running? Even if you’re running slowly? At the first table, I took the water and promptly spilled it all over myself. Then I tossed my cup on the ground with all the other cups and felt like a criminal for littering. I think throwing cups on the ground was the hardest part of my race. The only time I walked was at the second water station, when it took me about ten feet to drink my water. And then, because it was so late in the race, there was already a lady sweeping up the cups. So I had to basically throw my cup AT her, which made me feel not just like a criminal, but an asshole criminal.

• I am super awesome. I ran an 8k.

You just wait until next year, Kensington 8k. I’m coming for you. And next time, I’m going to be one of the first 600 people to finish.

*****

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View the original article here

Running, Weight & Zombies

Yesterday, two people told me—at two different times—that I looked like I had lost weight. I then took this information to Alex to confirm, which is always a sketchy proposition, because, really, what is he going to say? (He confirmed, with a specific about my ass.)

This is actually news to me because, although I have been running, I don’t weigh myself. I don’t weigh myself because, you know, ICK. No one wants to see that number. Also, it is incredibly demoralizing to follow it closely. Not to mention that the numbers don’t tell you the whole story of what your body is doing.

I don’t see the change in my body. Maybe this is because I have a negative self-image or because I have little to no ability to objectively look at myself. Maybe I’m just not spending enough time looking in a mirror. Maybe it’s just that I was wearing good clothes yesterday. Maybe my body is simply rearranging its current weight into a more pleasing configuration.

What is likely happening is that my fatty parts are shrinking and my muscly parts are growing.

See, while I don’t track my weight and I haven’t seen changes in the mirror, I HAVE noticed that I was able to semi-rapidly transport myself on foot from my house to Sam’s soccer game yesterday, a distance of nearly four miles. I HAVE noticed that I can now reliably go for a 3+ mile run in the evening with only a short walking interval in the middle.

(I have also noticed that it is much harder to run in the middle of the day—say, at a time when soccer games are played—when it is 90 degrees outside.)

I am running to lose weight, but also to get fit. I’m thrilled that people are seeing positive changes in me, but even more, I am proud that my body is so much stronger than it was a few months ago. Last spring, running for two minutes intervals on my treadmill was a killer. Now, I feel confident that I could run a 5k with no problem.

It would be a SLOW 5k, but I could do it.

I think that is cool.

Here’s the thing. I am a runner. I used to run daily. I loved it. I have always been a runner, even though I haven’t always run. I have gone long stretches, years even, without running, but never does my body feel better than when I run every day. I started up again last spring, in a largely on and off fashion.

I’m trying to be a lot more strict with myself about how often I run. I figure that success begets success, right? Tell me I look like I’ve lost weight and I will try to run to my kid’s soccer game later that day. Tell me I’m awesome for trying to run to my kid’s soccer game and I will get up the next morning and run a two and a half-plus mile loop before Alex even wakes up. Let me run a two and half-plus mile loop in the morning, and I’ll buy a grilled chicken wrap at the doughnut store for lunch instead of a doughnut.

Or three doughnuts each, if you’re my kids.
Also, I have to run more regularly because I was dumb enough to sign up for the Run For Your Lives race in late October. This is a 5k obstacle race that features people dressed up like zombies who try to catch you. The zombies will not care about my progress or the fact that I CAN run a 5k. They will just care that I can run a SLOW 5k.

I’m a little panicked about that. I spend most of my runs these days worrying about whether I will be faster than the zombies and also wondering if I will be facing shambling zombies or running zombies. It seems more sporting to have them be shamblers, but the zombie apocalypse has never been about sportsmanship.

To train, I’ve been running using the Zombies, Run app. It seems appropriate.

Part of my new, healthy regimen involves going to bed at 10 or 11 pm every night. I miss 1 am a lot. That 11pm to 2 am time was Stimey Time. BUT, I also feel a lot better about myself when I don’t nap for three hours during the day. Also, I run faster and feel less like I’m going to fall down when I’m less tired. That said, I’m off to bed. See you tomorrow—after my run. I might try to add a half mile to the loop I ran this morning.

View the original article here

An Emotional Evening in Stimeyland

Tonight was back-to-school night at Jack’s school. This is the third back-to-school night I’ve been to in a week. It has been a little hectic. Also, at back-to-school night for 5th graders in the highly gifted program (Sam, yesterday), the evident goal is to make all the parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT over applying to highly gifted middle schools.

Mission accomplished.

But this isn’t that post. This is about Jack’s back-to-school night, which was cool. Half of his class showed up, so there were three of us in the room. I also got to see the lava lamp by the teacher’s desk that Jack is obsessed with.

But this isn’t that post either. This is about the instrumental music meeting that took place before the class meeting. Kids have the option of playing an instrument in 4th grade. I was kind of dreading Jack wanting to play an instrument because I was imagining epic battles during practice time.

I asked him though if he wanted to play an instrument though, because he gets to choose if he wants to play an instrument. He said he didn’t want to. But then he came home a few days later with a sheet on which was written and circled, “DRUMS.”

Because of course.

I spent a little while mourning my quiet house and then I started to get excited. And Jack was excited. And I was excited that Jack was excited. And I figured that this is something he might actually like to practice. Because that kid LOVES drums. I have a photo of him with every single street performer drumming on buckets that we have ever passed.


I showed up for the instrumental music meeting tonight all excited to learn what kind of drum we had to procure for practice. What I learned instead was the philosophy behind not offering drums as an instrumental music option in elementary school, which is weird, because it was an adult who wrote “DRUMS” on his page and circled it.

I went to the hallway and texted Alex to tell him that Jack couldn’t take drums and then I stared at my phone a little more, trying to pretend that I wasn’t broken up.

Because Jack was excited about something that would take extra work and he still wanted to do it. I don’t give a shit if elementary schools don’t want to offer drums. But don’t write down “DRUMS” and then tell the autistic kid he can’t play them. I was already dreading the conversation with him. I imagined it was going to involve across the board disappointment.

Then a nice lady who turned out to be the art teacher saw me looking sad and said, “Are you okay?”

And….


Then she took me to see the (non-instrumental) music teacher who gave me a tissue and I cried even harder, because they were SO nice to me. And they both listened to me and told me they’d met Jack and the music teacher told me how Jack had played the African drums in music and was totally into them and how she could totally see that music is important to him and this all made me cry even more and then she told me about the percussion class they hold once a week before school starting in October.

How great is that? That might be even better than instrumental music drumming. They’re going to have a DRUM CIRCLE.

I managed to pull myself together in time for the full-fourth grade presentation at which they showed a slide that said, “Homework, participation, effort, and work study skills are not factored into grades,” followed by a list of tests and “informal observations” that ARE factored into grades.

I was more than pleased to see that homework thing, but the rest of that sentence was baffling to me. I guess you can’t have percussion class AND A’s (or B+’s) for effort all in one school.

Now, lest you think I hogged all of the emotional drama of the evening, you should know that a squirrel drowned in our swimming pool. Alex texted me a photo of the funeral.


Alex also texted me a photo of the squorpse, but I won’t subject you to that.*

This was all taking place at the same time as back-to-school night. See, we’re draining our pool right now and there’s only a few inches of water in it now, so there isn’t a cover on it. I’ve seen squirrels balancing on the edge of it, but I assumed that because squirrels can jump from one tiny branch to another tiny branch in a different tree that they wouldn’t fall into the swimming pool.

I was wrong.

The children fished the squirrel out with our pool net.

Related: We might need a new pool net.

Alex dug a grave, Quinn and Sam gathered flowers, and Alex presided over the funeral at which all four mourners said some words for the squirrel. (Jack: “Poor guy.” Quinn: “He was a good squirrel.”)

Rest in peace, wild squorpse.**
Welcome to Stimeyland, the home of many, many, MANY buried, deceased rodents, as well as a good number of tears. If we ever sell our house, we’re going to have to disclose that our yard is full of tiny, buried rodent skeletons.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better for everyone. Especially the squirrels.

* Squorpse: This term was originally coined by KC. I will probably never give her credit for it again. Tell everyone you know that I made it up.

** I totally invented the term “squorpse.”

View the original article here

The Distinguished Frankencat

I have this super awesome cat named Denali. She is awesome. SUPER awesome.

This is her:
OH MY GOD, LOOK AT HER. SUPER AWESOME, RIGHT?
She was my sister’s cat until my sister moved in with the woman whom she would eventually marry and who is deathly (I’m not kidding about that. Really. DEATHLY.) allergic to cats. Denali lost the power struggle between human love and cat love. It probably worked out for the best for my sister.

It definitely worked out best for me, because I got Denali.

Denali is persnickety. She ONLY liked my sister for a long time. Then she ONLY liked me. Now she likes Alex too. Although we still laugh about the night that Alex was sleeping because it was 3 am and Denali, who sleeps on my pillow above my head, freaked out for absolutely no reason and started attacking Alex’s head.

This is only made funnier by the fact that Denali is a polydactyl cat, meaning she has a ton of extra toes on each foot, making her gigantic paw attacks even more deadly.

Denali, however, does NOT care for the children. I should repeat that. DENALI DOES NOT CARE FOR THE CHILDREN.

She used to hang out under our bunk beds and if I asked my kids to crawl under there to pick up toys, they would start sobbing about how they were afraid of Denali. She made her feelings about kids known.

She hangs out upstairs all day and only comes down after the kids go to bed. If a child gets within, say, about three feet of her, she starts hissing. Every once in a while, a kid will wander into the room after their bedtime, catching Denali with her proverbial pants down. Sometimes, if Alex or I has her on one of our laps, we’ll let them pet her, because she is less likely to strike at them if we are holding her.

An angrier cat you have never seen when that happens. She flattens her little ears and manages to look more put out than you’d think would be possible considering she is incapable of frowning.

All of this information about Denali is to preface the fact that she had, like, a ping pong ball-sized cancerous tumor that I found a couple of weeks ago and she had surgery Monday to have it removed.

My kids are totally flipped out about it. Sam says he’s never going to touch her again. (From inside Denali’s head: “I should have done this YEARS ago!”) I think they heard us explain surgery and fixated on the “cut her open” bit. In their minds, I believe that they think that her incision site is at risk of popping open at any time for the rest of her life.

Kind of like a real life, furry piñata. Only instead of candy, there is blood and organs.

This is why I have to hide the cat from them until her fur grows back, because they will not do well if they run into Denali 2.0: Frankencat.

Denali: “Why must you humiliate me on the interwebz?”
I’m happy to report that she seems to be doing well. We napped for a long time together this afternoon. Her presence made me feel like I was being a good cat mom instead of a loser who can’t keep her eyes open for more than three hours at a stretch. The dog slept with us too. But she is legitimately a layabout.

I might have to help her recuperate tomorrow also. It depends how tired I am.


Cross your fingers that her recovery is smooth and that her cancer is gone.

*****

Also, over at White Knuckle Parenting this week, I wrote about the constant running narrative about good manners that I force my kids to listen to in public. If I have to say, “Look out for people!” fewer than 15 times a day, it is likely that we haven’t left the house.

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Three Elementary Schools Is…A Lot.

This summer has been quite a time for me. Every week there has been something big going on—house guests, travel, personal revelations, intensive napping. It has all made the past couple of months with my kids home for the summer pass really quickly. School starts Monday for us and I can’t quite believe it.

I’ve had some low-level worry all summer about this year’s school situation, because Jack is moving to a brand new school and I fear the unknown. He’s worried too. He’s worried that the work is going to be too hard. I think that last year threw him because he had such a tough time. Interestingly, even though he had a tough time every day in class and his grades fell, he rocked the hell out of the state standardized tests. I know he can do the work. He just has to be able to relax and access that part of himself.

This is why I’m really hoping that when he sees how different this class is, he can settle in and have fun with school. Or at least not be miserable. I want him to really understand that there are only six kids and they are all autistic like him and his teacher will have enough time to really give him attention. I think that will help. He does so well in that type of environment.

Other than that, I have been kind of in denial about the logistics. Getting everyone to school last year was a complete nightmare. This year, buses have fallen into place, which means that all my kids will be on well-timed buses to and from school except Sam in the morning. I cannot tell you what a relief this is. Now if only I could get my kids to eat school lunch, my life would be complete.

The other thing that is stressing me out about this school year is that I’m not quite sure how to fit the activities, meetings, and class events for all three of my kids into one little schedule. I’m already concerned about Halloween. I mean, Alex and I can’t even divide and conquer, because there are more schools than there are us.

My first challenge of the year was open house on Friday. The great thing about open houses, where kids get to meet their teachers, is that schools decide that it’s a good idea to stuff every single family into the school in two hours. Or less. It’s chaotic. Add in travel time and parking at three different schools and you have a recipe for flop sweat.

Especially if this is your schedule:

Bad things happened to the schedule over the course of the day.
Also, fuck you, Jack’s school. 45 MINUTES?! Can you imagine if you had more than one student there? Also, not really. I’m sorry, Jack’s school. Please, don’t hate me. I’m paranoid now. DID I MENTION THAT I FEAR THE UNKNOWN?!

We headed out at 1 o’clock to find out who Quinn’s teacher is. The problem is that about 15 minutes before we left the house, Jack started to freak out. He told me his eyes hurt. All he seemed to want to do was lay down and cry. He felt warm and feverish.

The problem is that we had to go. We had to go. Quinn needed to be given the chance to find out who his teacher is and have a chance to see his classroom. Sam was really looking forward to going back to his school. I hadn’t had a chance to meet Jack’s teacher at all yet. We HAD to go.

My poor baby Jack. I gave him some Tylenol and put everyone in the car. We were a block away from the house when Jack threw it up.

I didn’t even stop the car.

I’m a terrible fucking person. But I didn’t know what to do.

We got to the Q-ball’s school and found out who his (awesome) teacher is. She is the same teacher Sam had in second grade and I feel very lucky that Quinn gets to have her too. We waited until 1:30 when we could go meet her and check out the classroom. Sam and Quinn were energetic.


We finally got up to Quinn’s classroom and Quinn settled in at the back of the class to draw on a whiteboard. I hope the teacher appreciated the last time Quinn will ever be quiet in her class. Quinn is a very different child than Sam. It will be fun to see the teacher realize that. Quinn is also a child looking for the right hair conditioner.
Algernon also went to the open houses. He is a mouse looking for the right soap.
The whole time we were in Quinn’s classroom, I had my eye on the clock. We had to be out of the school by 2:15 at the latest if we had any chance of staying on schedule. Furthermore, we had to stop by to say hello to our other favorite second grade teacher as well as Jack’s teacher from last year. It was a tightly packed schedule.

As we were walking to the car, Sam asked if we could stop and get food because he was hungry. I was all, “THERE IS NO TIME!” Then I threw an almost empty bag of Goldfish crackers at him when we finally got in the car—and four minutes ahead of schedule, I might add.

(Did I mention that I am a fucking terrible person? And mother? Because evidently I am.)

We got to Jack’s school just after 2:30 and snagged the second-to-last not entirely illegal parking space on the block. Then I started dragging my kids up this long hill and Jack started looking more and more ill because it was hot and humid and I tried to give him the ice pack I still had in my bag, but it was tepid and full of water by this time and he totally didn’t fall for it.

But! And yay! I met my new best-friend-at-Jack’s-school on the way in. She was all, Hi! And, I recognize your kids! And her husband told Sam about the vast conspiracy that we parents have to make kids’ lives as miserable as possible, which is SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET, SIR, but that’s okay because we already have a friend at Jack’s school!

(Said new best friend might be slowly backing away from her computer right now.)

Then we were left behind because at some point Jack sat down on the sidewalk and refused to go any farther and I was only able to get him to stand up by suggesting that maybe his teacher might have some water he could have. Honestly, at this point, I was just hoping that he wouldn’t puke in his new classroom. You know, BEFORE the first day.

We finally got to his classroom and met the teacher and the two paraeducators that work in this classroom of six kids. I know. I make an involuntary happy sighing noise every time I hear that too. Everyone was really nice and Jack seemed really happy there. He immediately found the quiet sensory corner and camped out there for the next 20 minutes.


Jack is going to be mainstreamed for part of the day, so I wanted to take him to meet the teacher who will be teaching him during those times, so we walked up a staircase to find her. Jack found a rocking chair in that room and parked there.

Then Quinn sat on his lap and Jack choked him in retaliation, which is out of character for him, and I was all disheveled and sweaty and the paraeducator was standing right there probably silently judging us and I kinda didn’t know what to do, so I just continued to stand there.

I ROCKED as a parent today; have I mentioned that?

I haven’t mentioned yet that this tiny 45-minute window also included a popsicle party in the school courtyard, where “party” really means “line to get a popsicle,” but Quinn and Sam were STOKED about it, so the paraeducator took us there. We walked down two flights of stairs, through this crazy maze-y space and finally found a door to the outside. I felt as if I should have left a trail of bed crumbs so we could get back out. This school is HUGE.

We got about five feet out the door into the hot, crowded courtyard, which stretched up a hill past a loud piece of machinery—I’m guessing air conditioner. And Jack stopped. And said, “I want to go inside.”

I was fine with that, but Sam and Quinn were already out of reasonable shouting range. I asked Jack if he could sit on the grass while I went and told the others that we were going back inside the doors and he shook his head no and said, “I can’t.”

I decided Jack needed me more than the other two, so I took him inside, found him a corner, sat him on the floor, and made him promise not to move while I went to tell his brothers where we would be. He agreed, so I went back outside. Sam and Quinn had stopped at the top of a short hill and were waiting patiently. Sometimes the two of them are crazy and impulsive and not as mannerly as I want them to be, but there are times where they really step up and do what I need them to do. I was really proud of them.

On the way out, I had to stop and take a photo of a member of our party on the red carpet that the school had laid out. It was a nice touch.

 Algernon appreciated the glamour.
Then we went back out to the car and at 3:23 we were on our way to Sam’s school, which was fortunately only five minutes away.

Things went smoothly there. Sam is in the highly gifted program at this school, where there is only one fourth and one fifth grade class for that program. So Sam knew who his teacher would be and also that all his classmates would be moving on with him. This made open house very easy and happy.

Algernon even managed to get a little bit of work done while we were there.

Awesomely, Jack was the one who posed him.
And while Sam was reconnecting with some of his buddies, Jack proposed to me. He doesn’t look ill at all, does he? *headdesk*
The ring was some sort of bolt or fastener of some kind. I started to frantically look around in hopes that I would catch whatever expensive electronic equipment that he’d taken that off of before it smashed into a million pieces on the ground. Turns out he’d just found it on a desk and he was happy enough to return it. But the sentiment was nice.

Sam had an issue he had to discuss with his safety patrol teacher. It was kind of complex and based on fears and anxiety and leadership and he was able to talk to her about it like a real-life, grown-up person. It was impressive. Especially considering he had to do it with Quinn ping ponging off of him into the wall and back.

After that, we headed downstairs (I dragged a lot of kids up and down a lot of stairs today, people) to say hi to Sam’s teacher from last year.

There, Jack and Quinn found their own makeshift sensory area.
We returned to our car at 3:58. I can’t believe we did it. I immediately took my kids to buy them ice cream. They were awesome at those schools. I was really proud of them. I was also exhausted. Because I am not the type of person to keep my problems to myself, I sought sympathy from Alex.
What I really love about this exchange is that he wasn’t even fazed by the barfing. He just accepted it and moved on. He didn’t even need details.

Welcome to Team Stimey.

Now that open house is over, I’m really looking forward to Monday. Although if Jack (or any of my other children) is sick on Monday, I will probably cry. Because although I will force a sick child to go to three open houses, I won’t make him go to school.

Let the countdown to time alone begin!

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Cali Fun in the Not Sun

Team Stimey is having a great time in California, although we have reached super saturation whining levels by one particular small, blond dude. He’s been equal parts awesome though too, especially considering all the together time and forced walking tours we’ve taken.

This next photo was taken before some lady stood directly in front of Quinn’s viewfinder, which caused an epic meltdown, unnoticed by said Worst Lady in the World.

If only they weren’t so raggedy and hooded. This would be our Christmas card.
Thanks to Sam, mini-blogger/photographer in training, we actually have proof that I was on this vacation. That almost never happens. Me! In California! See also, Alex.
We went to a beach today because that was what Quinn wanted to do while on vacation. (Sam wanted to order room service; we did that yesterday.) We drove down the coast a ways to the coldest goddamn beach in the world. We were greeted by 800 seagulls hellbent on stealing our lunch. They were not fucking around, those birds.

We kind of assumed that no one would want to go in the FREEZING ocean, but we were wrong. (It’s like we’re new around here.) Fortunately after they ran into the ocean and got their clothes all wet, we had dry swimsuits for them to change into. We’re a little backwards around here.

Cold schmold. The ocean is fun.
Tomorrow we’re going to a lake to feed…seagulls. I’m sensing a theme for our vacation. Last time we went to this lake to feed seagulls and geese, one of the geese bit Jack on the ass. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow!

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