CSSS*: Week Three—Houseguest Week!

* Camp Stimey Saturday Sunday Summary

So it wasn’t exactly Camp Stimey, but we did do a lot of stuff and we had a whole lot of fun! My high school friend Mama Echo (who lives in Montana, by the way) dropped in (as you tend to do when you live more than halfway across the country) with her three kids to visit me.

She arrived Tuesday evening, which means Monday and Tuesday were: Days One and Two: Frenzied Cleaning Days! No photos or explanation necessary. Monday was also Schedule a Mother’s Helper Then Forget You Did, So Send Her Home By Mistake Day. (Sorry, Abby.)

Day Three: DC Tourism Day! I haven’t gone to the National Mall as a tourist without a specific destination since 1998, before I lived here, so it was cool to go check out all the memorials. Even better, all three of my kids were in school or camp, so I got to wander around without worrying about whining or wandering children.

We visited the side of the White House I hadn’t been to before.

I was really excited about the parking space I found because it was a half block from the White House. Unfortunately, that meant that it was approximately sixteen miles away from the Mall.

It was cool to tour DC with newbies because it let me do all the things I want to do, but just never get around to because I am too busy living my life in Maryland.

Things like oohing and aahing at the very bottom of the Washington Monument.
I touched it. It was more exciting than it sounds.

I’d also never been to the World War II Memorial, which is only a few years old. I liked that Mama Echo’s daughter asked if she could put her feet in it because it meant I was among peers. Let’s try to forget that she’s ten years old.

Fortunately a tiny sign warned us that wading is verboten. 
In retrospect, that makes sense.

Clearly the Echo apple doesn’t fall far from the Mama Echo tree, because Mama Echo wanted to run through the Reflecting Pool. She settled for putting her hand in it.

Which she didn’t even really want to do once she saw all the scum in it.

We also hit the Korean War Memorial (which is really incredible), the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. After that we did the Can We Get Back to the Parking Space That Is a Million Miles Away Before the Parking Police Get There Dash. Happily, we made it.

Maybe the greatest thing about Wednesday in DC is that it was raining on and off, which meant it wasn’t 99 degrees. Thank goodness, because otherwise Wednesday might have been Abandon Your Friend and Her Three Kids in DC While You Sit in a Cafe Day.

Day Four: Mouseball and Nature Center Day! Don’t read that and think that we played a game with the mice involving hoops, golf clubs, and croquet wickets. You should read that to mean that we put the mice in the mouseball and let them roll all over the house. Whiskers and Gerbil were the best at it.

Per usual, my dog proves herself to be completely oblivious.

We also went to a nearby nature center, which has achieved prior Stimeyland fame as being the one at which Jack climbed to the most unallowed place he has ever been.

Mama Echo and I chatted while the munchkins very happily cavorted in the fake outdoors, full of taxidermy aplenty.

I don’t know what it is about nature centers, but they always seem to have squirrels posed in incredibly gruesome poses. Like this guy:

 He looks terrified, doesn’t he? And well he should.

I think that smoke alarm is going to get him.

Jack and Boy Child Echo got along really well. It was very cool and heartwarming to see the two of them playing together.

Ready for the next biohazard! Or bee attack. Whatever.

Day Five: Zoo and Art Show Day! Mama Echo’s kids wanted to go to the National Zoo on Friday, so Quinn and I put on our game faces and joined them in the no-kidding 100-degree weather and headed off. Sadly, between leaving my house and arriving at the zoo, one of Mama Echo’s kids became “sick” and couldn’t go to the zoo.

Nicely played, Mama Echo.

Somehow this left me in charge of dragging three children through the sweltering weather as police cars patrolled the zoo paths using bullhorns to shout, “Take frequent breaks! Stay hydrated! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WHY DID YOU COME TO THE ZOO TODAY OF ALL DAYS?!?!”

My friend’s kids were great. Quinn, however, said three things within the first four minutes of leaving the car:

1. “I’m hungry!” (Silly me, I hadn’t fed him since breakfast, an entire hour before.)

2. “I have to poop!” (Of course. Mr. Constipation choose the zoo to have to go.)

3. “I want to go home!”

Two granola bars, one quick trip to the bathroom, and a swift kick to his shins later (oh, I kid), we were at panda land.

No matter how many times I go to the zoo, I have to post photos of the pandas.

Right after the pandas, I cracked and bought ice cream for everyone. Because I’m weak and Quinn always wins.

See his victorious smirk?

Every time we go to the zoo, we find something new. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the display of small rodent skulls before.

Look, Quinn! That’s what’s inside Squeaky’s head!

I gotta tell you, Mama Echo’s kids are cool. See, my kids fully expect me to tell them to pose in funny ways. But when I told my three charges to stand like meerkats, all three of them jumped into position.

Quinn is as impressed as I was.

We had to rush home from the zoo though, because Friday was Sam’s last day of art camp, also known as the day of the art show! I have to tell you, those kids produced a lot of art in five short days.

Sam was so genuinely happy and proud. It was great to see.

My favorite piece that he created was his surrealist piece. The kids were told to take two things that don’t ordinarily belong together and make something new.

“If birds could read…”

Okay, people, hang in there! We’re almost done. All that’s left is Bonus Day Six: Nerdlinger Day!

Mama Echo’s husband, Papa Echo, flew into town on Friday night to meet his family, who were then driving on to visit Papa Echo’s dad. I went to college with Papa Echo. In fact, I’m the one who introduced the two of them on one of Mama Echo’s trips to visit to me there. I take full responsibility for their relationship. I bet you didn’t know I was a matchmaker, huh?

Well, along with being cool and also being eternally indebted to me for creating all his current happiness in life, Papa Echo is kind of a nerd. He has this thing about gyroscopes. I know. I’d never heard of one either.

He brought one for my family.

Look! Free pedestal!

Papa Echo did a lot of explaining about what the gyroscope demonstrates. Something about the Whatsit Principle as far as I can tell. Alls I know is that it spins and seems to defy gravity and Jack thinks it is the most badass thing he has ever seen in his life. Papa Echo is Jack’s new best friend.

He laughed and laughed and laughed…

Papa Echo also did some other dramatic science-y stuff making it necessary for me to securely hide all of the compressed air cans in my house because they are no longer boring and are now Exciting! and Science-y!

Look at all the adorable nerdlingers! And Papa Echo.

Oh. And we also put the dog in this:

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