Monday, July 30, 2012

In Which I Become a Hero To My Kids

You wanna know how to make your kids think you're awesome? Take them to an exclusive Nintendo Wii U event where they get to try out brand new Wii U games months before any of their friends.

If you don't know what the Wii U is, it is the next generation Wii that is coming out this winter. As a Nintendo Brand Ambassador, last Friday I got to take my kids to check out some of the new games that will be coming out for the new console.

What is a Nintendo Brand Ambassador, you ask?

These yokels are Nintendo Brand Ambassadors.

We were late because Jack's end-of-camp performance was at the same time. (Side note: It was MAGICAL.) We wandered in to find manic gaming already in session. My kids almost immediately disappeared from my side, which is usually a problem for me until I realized that if there were ever a room my kids would not voluntarily leave, it was this one.

 Picture this times twenty.

I didn't personally test many of the games, but my kids did. They are still talking about how excited they are to get to play them when they actually come out. All three of them liked all the games they played, but they were super excited about NintendoLand.

This is Jack gazing in adoration at said NintendoLand.

I have to say that the ethereal blue light in the room added a lot. I kind of wish I could have it at my house. I think Jack was more of a "I don't care about the light, but I want the Wii U and the fancy TV" kinda guy. (You should note that the new Wii U remote is wireless. The cord you see in the photo below is just to keep people like Jack from tucking it into their pants and taking it home.)

 "Mom, can I live here?"

Quinn even won a prize for answering a trivia question right. The poor guy asking the questions sort of didn't have a choice in picking him because Quinn shoved his way to the front and jumped up and down with his hand in the air. The trivia question was about features of the new remote. Quinn said that you could see things on the remote that the other players couldn't see so you can sneak around without them knowing and that it's a touch screen. I also happen to know that you can use that remote to control your TV and stuff as well, but Quinn didn't mention that.

Regardless, they gave the Q-ball this awesome hat.

Quinn wore it for a playdate today to make his video game-loving friend jealous.
It worked. (Also, OMG, dimple!)

I'll admit that when I first heard that Nintendo was making a giant remote for the Wii U, I thought it was a little weird, but after seeing it in action, it totally makes sense. It looks like the Wii U is going to be pretty cool. I'm excited about what I've already learned and I can't wait to find out more about it.

I know a few other people who are also excited to hear about it. Like this guy:

I call him Samario.

Nintendo, if you really wanted to earn me points with my kids, they would appreciate it if you printed "Tested by Team Stimey" on every Wii U box. Please?

Also, now I have to sit through several months of, "Is the Wii U out YET?"


Lest you're worried that I am too much of a hero to my kids,  you might be interested to know that I completely humiliated myself in front of them the other day in another Nintendo-related event, this one featuring this very fun little tennis game for the Nintendo 3DS called Mario Tennis Open.

I was totally happy when I got the game and set about taking photos of my adorable Mii in her tennis skirt.

Seriously? Even my Mii takes bad pictures?

 Oh. That's better. Look how cute and preppy she is!
The reason I was so busy dressing up my Mii is that I got to participate in a tournament last week. I was all, "I'm in training for a tennis tournament," and then I would flex my thumbs. I thought I was hilarious. Unfortunately, I am not also good at tennis, real or Mario.

The tournament is still going on, but I was eliminated in the first round. I'm still a little surly about it. I played against @hockeymandad and I SUCKED.

This is @hockeymandad.

I don't even know where the dude lives, but we were able to exchange friend codes and play over wifi. My kids figured out how to make one DS system communicate with another ages ago, but I hadn't done it myself. I have always been a little intimidated by it. Turns out that it's super easy.

Sadly, it was also super humiliating.

That's Mii, collapsed in ignominious defeat.

My kids were SO delighted by my defeat. They were all, "That guy is crushing you," and "You missed that ball," and "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Also they weren't wearing shirts. 'Cause that's how they roll.

And that is the story of Team Stimey's Nintendo Week. Hey! It was almost a Camp Stimey theme week! That counts, right?

Disclosure: I am a Nintendo Brand Ambassador. I attended the WiiU events at no charge and received a copy of Mario Tennis Open for free. I wasn't asked to blog about any of it. All opinions are my own except for those that are my kids'—those belong to them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Camp Awesome

Remember back when school was in session and I used to be sad every single day when I would get a note or an email from the teachers telling me what a bad day Jack had had? Because I remember it vividly.

Jack has been in full-day camp this summer—at the same camp he attended last summer—and every day for the past five weeks I have spoken to the teachers at the end of the day and they have told me, "Jack had a great day!" "Jack was super cooperative today!" "Jack did everything we asked him to!"

Sure, there have been a few scuffles here and there, but not even anything to stress out about. And, sure, it's camp and not school, but a lot of the things he has to do are definitely non-preferred activities. Jack has even stepped up and above in helping plan the end-of-camp performance he'll be a part of this Friday.

It's like he's a different kid.

But he's not.

What's different is the environment.

It's a small class taught by therapists who know how to teach kids with developmental disabilities in a completely positive environment and who truly believe and take nothing but joy in Jack.

It gives me hope that he will do well in his smaller, special education class at school next year.

But why am I posting about this today? Well. To answer that, I have to go back four weeks, when one of the teachers pulled me aside at the end of the day to talk about Jack's bike. See, they bike ride every day and I had sent in a bike with training wheels.

They thought Jack was ready to try riding a two-wheeler. Jack has always been hesitant on his bike. He has absolutely NOT been interested in taking those training wheels off. Too bad for him, he's not in charge of the screwdrivers in the house.

He's been working on this every day at camp. Last week, they had him ride his bike for me, which was so incredible. At that time, he still wasn't starting by himself and could only go about ten feet.

Today after camp, they went out in the heat to set up safety cones in the parking lot just for him. (See: Camp Awesome) He showed me that he is COMPLETELY, INDEPENDENTLY RIDING HIS BIKE. He was able to start by himself, turn his bike during his three laps, and stop all by himself.

Starting by himself.

Turning during his three laps.

Stopping by himself.

Oh—and grinning like the proudest kid in the world.

Amazing, huh?

In case you're wondering, I've already pretty much signed Jack up for a new, great program that Camp Awesome will be holding next summer for kids like Jack. Feel free to email me if you're local and looking for something like this.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cathartes Aura Septentrionalis...

...a.k.a. the Turkey Vulture. More on her later.

Team Stimey went to a nature center today. Hijinks ensued.

For example, in the Curiosity Corner, Quinn made an Algership for the Algernaut.

Quinn coined both of those terms, by the way.

Algernon should have stayed in there because there was danger afoot.

Spoiler alert: The eagle didn't get him.

While the hijinks were fun, maybe the most exciting thing that happened today is that I may have found a whole new secondary mascot for Team Stimey. It's not a rodent, which is why it has to be secondary, but if you'll bear with me, you'll see why I need to add it to the cast of characters here.

Who is so awesome that we need to bother to learn about a whole new set of non-rodent characteristics?

This fella here:

Her name is Precious, but I call her Semi-Precious.

She, if you couldn't tell from the first sentence of this post, is a Turkey Vulture. I feel a kinship with little Semi-Precious. I took a picture of the information sign for you to read in full, but I can give you a list of the similarities between her and I after the photo.

I can only wish I had a beak though.

1. I've eaten carrion—fresh carrion. (All meat is in some stage of decay, right?)
2. I do not pursue live prey.
3. I am a cleanser of my environment, in that I have hired maids to clean my house.
4. My head is featherless.
5. If I were to soar, I might be mistaken for a hawk. Or a small dirigible.
6. Again, I do not hunt my food.
7. "Peace Eagle" was my nickname in high school.*

But the clincher, the thing that sent me back to gaze in tenderness at my new friend, Semi-Precious, was the last sentence on the sign.

"Turkey vultures vomit as a form of self protection."

She is clearly Team Stimey material. Fortunately, she did not vomit while we were there. Although part of me wonders if the nature center staff made that up to keep people from harassing her and claiming her as their own.

Hmmm. Hang on.

Okay. Wikipedia (which is always accurate) says, and I quote, "Its primary form of defense is regurgitating semi-digested meat, a foul-smelling substance which deters most creatures intent on raiding a vulture nest."

I'm convinced. And deterred from raiding its nest.

Oh, and also, I have the same wingspan as a Turkey Vulture. I don't think I have to say anything else.

I'm taller though.

Please join me in welcoming secondary mascot Semi-Precious the Turkey Vulture.

May she never puke on any of you.

* I may be lying about this one.


Even though my kids are not very good at going to museums, I always seem to forget that and agree to go when invited. This happened last Sunday, when Jack, Quinn, and I took my sister and her kids to the Natural History Museum. Naturally I wrote about the experience over at White Knuckle Parenting on the Wheaton Patch. Check it out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camp Stimey is Dead; Long Live Camp Stimey

So. Camp Stimey. If you've been around here for a while, you know that every summer I run Camp Stimey for my kids. I plan theme weeks and we do activities to keep busy and learn.

You can find a summary of most of our theme weeks over there in the right sidebar—or by clicking this link.

Camp Stimey is beloved, by both me and by a lot of you. So it is with great sadness that I have to say that I think Camp Stimey has run its course as an official, consistent activity of Team Stimey.

I'm sorry.

Part of it is that I've lost the energy to organize and plan it every week during the summer. Part of it is that my kids are older and need less structure. Part of it is that it is harder to come up with activities that keep the attention of all three of them. And a big part of it is that Jack is in full-day camp for five weeks every summer, so it is hard to plan all the fun stuff without him.

I came to this realization during this summer's Week One, which was Magic Week. Never fear, I will be regaling you with our activities. They include a knife fight. For reals.

Also, don't cry too much about Camp Stimey. Camp Stimey will stick around in some form or other. It's just that it will be less consistent and formalized so I don't feel bad when I flake on it. And I know none of you are all, "Why the hell did she take a week off from Camp Stimey?! UNFOLLOW!!!" but I don't like not following through on things, so now instead of being all, "Dammit, I have to think of something to do for Camp Stimey, oh, fret, fret, fret!" I will get to say, "I know no one expected Camp Stimey this week, but I set up an entire Olympic tournament to take place in my yard this week, which makes me awesome for going above and beyond!"

See how it works?

Also it's the end of July and we've done exactly one Camp Stimey week, so I can't imagine that this is a surprise to anyone.

Please address your comments and concerns to Head Counselor Stimey.

p.s. Do you think I could use the term "Stimey" more in this post?

p.p.s. Stimey

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I have all kinds of things that I've been mulling and I want to write about, but until I get the chance—seriously, will someone tell these kids to give me five damn minutes to myself?—I will give you this piece of photography advice:

Splashparks are the best place in the world to take photographs.


Oh, wait. That was when everything was turned off because of the thunderstorm. Yes, the sky is blue. No, I don't get it either. Shortly thereafter the water turned on. It was all kinds of super fun after that. I wanted to share, like, 20 photos with you, but I managed to pare it down. My kids are cute. Also, Sam and Jack look EXACTLY alike.

Three in one shot! That NEVER happens!

If *I* can get these fun shots, imagine what someone who actually knows what to do with a camera could get.


Also, do you remember back at Jack's hockey tournament when he choked on all that bacon? I finally got around to taking the first aid class I swore I would take. It was not only informative, but all kinds of fun. I wrote about it over at White Knuckle Parenting. Check it out!

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Clean (and Annoy) a Couple of Guinea Pigs

You should all be aware that this post is mostly an excuse to post photos of the cute guinea pigs I am petsitting. But then, you probably already knew that.

Remember these guys? Cow is in the back, Poppy up front.

So, I'm petsitting my friend Heather's guinea pigs. They totally hate me (except when I'm feeding them). I fucking love them. How can you not? Just look at them! Plus, they squee in anticipation and delight every time I open the fridge.

They are often disappointed. Maybe that's why they hate me.

Anywho, I've petsat them before, but never long enough that I have to clean their cage. This time, however, that all changed. Heather told me that I should change their bedding once while they were here and that I could just leave them in there and change it around them.

Heather clearly did not consult with the piggies when she came up with this plan. They were...not pleased.

I decided to to start by recruiting a helper. Said helper claimed to be busy.

Check out his ironic reading material.

Realizing it was up to me, I found a scooping device and headed into the fray by myself. It turns out that my scooping plan had a flaw.

Oh. Hello, now filthy floor.
Related: I not am smart.

And then I realized that I was actually going to have to touch the used bedding with my very own hands. This was not welcome news. Do you have any idea what they DO in that bedding?

I started at one end, scooping the bedding with my hands (*shudder*) into the box I had and then transferring it to a trash bag. The piggies cowered at the other end, trying to claim the shrinking area that still had bedding on it.

There was some panicked running in circles.

Calm DOWN, Cow.

And these animals who are ridiculously hard to catch when I am trying to force them to cuddle with and love me, froze still in a sad little huddle as I tried to steal their dirty bedding and poop from them.

Me: "Hi, little friends!" Them: "HEEEELLLLPPPP US!"

Getting that last little bit out was tough, seeing as how Cow had camped out on top of it.

I almost scooped her up.

Then they were sad.

So very sad.

I got to make them very happy by putting in fresh bedding and tamping it down. The return of their Pigloo made them even happier.

That's right. Pigloo.

I felt so bad about the trauma I had inflicted on these poor little creatures that I gave them afternoon carrots. (They're not supposed to get afternoon carrots. Shhh, don't tell Heather.)

Fortunately, they seem to forget trauma quickly.

And then I frantically washed my hands.

And then I frantically re-washed my hands.

Then, in an effort to cement our newly forged friendship, strengthened by going through such a traumatic ordeal together, I tried to pet Cow. And she bit me.

In her defense, I think she thought I was a carrot.

I should have seen it coming.

I still love her. (She still hates me.)

Confidential to Heather: Please don't let this post stop you from letting me petsit your piggies in the future. They love me. We're best friends. We sleep together at night in a big pile of bedding and shit. I promise.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm Having Trouble Working From Home

Hi again! I've been having trouble getting stuff done, what with these kids all up in my business all day every day. It's a problem. Not surprisingly, this is what I wrote about for White Knuckle Parenting—Working While Parenting.

I'm still working on my offline project, which is of no interest to you, but it is keeping me from writing during my infrequent time when I'm not taking care of my kids. I plan to be done with it this weekend, so I'll be back happily typing away before too long!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm Sorry. This Is Kind of a Filler Post.

I'm still working on my big offline project, which is why I haven't been doing much writing. It was looking a little sad here though, so I thought I should maybe post a photo of a cute animal. As I do.

So, without further ado, a photo of the cute beneficiary of my extra mouse food.

I like how he's sprawled out in the middle of it.

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Aftermath

An hour and a half after my last post, my power came back. I was so very, very happy. We've had power for three full days since then, but there are thousands who still do not. My heart goes out to them. And now it is raining outside and I swear to God, if my power goes out, I'll...well, probably cry a lot.

First of all, I should let you know that the name of my "power" company (and I use that term loosely) is PEPCO. This information will make it easier for you to know what I mean when I write, "Fuuuuuuuuuuck you, PEPCO."

I had a whole depressing paragraph all written here about the storm and its aftermath, but I deleted it. It's been a bad week for the DC area. Instead I decided to follow my motto: When you have a choice between laughing and crying, try to laugh.

Like on Monday when I was at a friend's house when her power came back and her son had the TV on within seconds and exclaimed, "I would hug the Wii if I could!" It was adorable. Let's focus on the adorable.

Or inanity. We can focus on that too. For instance, I was coiling up jumper cables on Monday after jumping my broken car when a PEPCO meter reader walked by. When he saw me, you know, standing in the heat trying to make my car work, he doubled back and asked me to make sure to trim back the shrubbery in front of my meter to make it easier for him to read it next month.

It took everything I had to not punch him in the face.

Seriously. That guy needs to work on his timing.

Oh, and if it's not bad enough that PEPCO was out reading meters (and making and airing pro-PEPCO television commercials) when hundreds of thousands of people didn't have power, they also stole our fireworks.

That's right. My county has called off all county-sponsored fireworks on the fourth so they can focus on storm recovery. Because if you don't have power, it's a better idea to stay miserably at home than pull together as a community at a holiday celebration. I'm blaming this on PEPCO.

This includes the fireworks that are two blocks from my house. You should have seen my kids' faces when I told them. They're little kids and they already hate PEPCO. I feel like I'm raising them right. But I don't know yet what I'm going to do for them to make the fourth special.

It looks like this is turning out to be Camp Stimey: Crushing Disappointment Week.


Because I couldn't think of anything else, I wrote about how we got through the power outage over at White Knuckle Parenting.