Since You’re So Good at Giving Advice

You guys are the best, most informative peoples ever. I am so glad I asked for your opinion on fresh food! I want to thank every single one of you who responded to my question. I plan on emailing each of you back; I just haven’t had a chance yet. Also, thank you to those of you who offered further help. I’ll be in touch with you guys as well! Right now, I’m busy taking notes on all the wonderful comments and emails from you. Stay tuned for more on #project stimey #subprojectfreshfood!

I have another question for you. This one is aimed at the runners and sports medicine physicians among you.

So. Last Saturday while I was running, I tweaked my hip. I felt it happen and ran home another mile on it. I didn’t want to make it worse, so I stayed off of it and iced it.

(This is what the information I found on the internet led me to believe would fix me. FIXME!FIXME!FIXFIXFIXFIXME!)

By this Saturday (yesterday), I almost couldn’t feel any pain when I was walking around so I went for a very short run. After about a mile it started to hurt again, even worse than before. There was no way I could run on it today.

The whole thing has me extremely depressed.

What do I do? Anybody have this kind of thing in their hip? Will ice and rest help it? Should I go to a doctor? Do I need to amputate? Will someone assure me that I will be running again very soon? Because I am rilly rilly sad about the whole thing.

I need that advice, please! What will make me better?

March Was Project Lazy

So I am just a big ol’ basket of failure this month. I spent the beginning of March not running because it was cold and I was whiny and then I started running again and almost immediately tweaked my hip to where it even hurt to walk. Then spring break rolled around and I iced my hip and sat around with my kids. My food tracking goal has gone extremely poorly and I’ve completely fallen off the quitting soda wagon.

March has been rough in terms of health goals. On the other hand, March has been tremendous in terms of rodent population growth.

I’m still fighting though. I’m going to go running Saturday and Sunday this weekend and I’m going to try to get my food and water back on track. Along those lines, I am looking to make Team Stimey’s food healthier. I want to get less of our food from boxes and bags and jars. I like the idea of fresh food and think it will be good for everyone, but I’m not quite sure where to start.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for where to get some recipes or meal plans for fresh, simple food from scratch? I have some criteria though:

1. The recipes have to be easy, because I am not a good cook.

2. The recipes have to be simple, because I am a lazy cook.

3. The recipes have to be not fancy, because my kids are extremely picky and won’t eat food that has a lot of ingredients.

4. I’m happy to look at blogs and websites, but actual paper cookbooks tend to work better for me.

Help? Also wishes of good luck for getting back on the health bandwagon are welcome.

Team Stimey Takes Virginia!

I am so excited to tell you about Team Stimey’s Super Awesome Fun Spring Break Adventure! We packed a lot of fun into our two-day vacation. Alex had a business trip on Monday so I decided that instead of sitting around and being surly that he was gone again, I would bail as well. Only I had to take the kids.

We based our trip around Luray Caverns in Virginia, adding on other roadside attractions until we had the best 48 hours ever. Alex went to Cincinnati and had a meeting in a conference room overlooking a freeway.

You can guess who had more fun.

I have to admit that I was annoyed when I woke up and saw my spring break adventure looking more like spring broken adventure.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Although the snow did teach me something interesting.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

That kid is his own person, that is for sure.

Regardless of snow (I had prepaid for our hotel room so we were going—even if a tornado showed up), we headed out and arrived at Luray at about noon. Now, Team Stimey had been to Luray Caverns before, but it was a long time ago (click that link to see my tiny babies) and we didn’t go on a cold, snowy spring day. It was practically deserted when we went this time. There were no lines and no sweltering heat and there was plenty of snow to threaten your brothers with.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

We grabbed some lunch and then jumped onto a tour. Our guide was great except that she didn’t have answers for any of the Minecraft-related questions my kids had. It’s almost like they didn’t train her at all.

The tour started off really well. All three kiddos were happy. Sam was learning, Jack was musing about types of rock, and Quinn kept finding dark little recesses and saying, “Look! A cave system!”

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Back at the beginning of the tour when they were still willing to stand together for me to take a photo of them.

So, let’s talk about my kids and the way they handle tours for a minute. Last time we went to Luray, we did a self-guided tour. This time they didn’t offer that option, so we were with a group of 25ish that traveled together. This isn’t optimal for my kids, but I’m lucky in that they can mostly handle it. Mostly.

Sam is my kid that is best suited for tours, exhibits, and other learning stuff. We were hanging in the back of the group so I could take some photos without people in them and also so that we weren’t distracting the guide with infinite questions about bedrock and mining. Every time the guide started talking, Sam would gasp and run up to be in ear shot.

In fact, my cell phone is full of videos of the guide telling us things about the cavern. I had to threaten him to make him stop taking video that we will never watch.

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Also on the phone? At least one photo of me and my camera.

Jack tends to get overwhelmed and spinny in tour situations. The cavern, however, was spacious enough and involved enough walking that he was okay. The best way to help him regulate himself is to take him on a long walk, so considering the tour was about a mile long, this was just his thing. Near the end of the tour, he was up at the front chatting with the guide. Maybe he was giving her that sorely needed Minecraft information.

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I’m imagining that he was thinking about different kinds of Minecraft blocks in this photo.

Then there is Quinn. The thing I’m coming to realize about Quinn is that he has a time limit. He started off the tour completely happy, but his attention span is not…expansive. Also, when he is unhappy, tired, or bored, he gets loud. God forbid he is all three. Because when he is all three, he also falls to the ground.

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Oh, Quinn.

Quinn and I are working on finding a happy medium together.

We emerged from the caverns into the greatest unblemished field of snow that ever was. That snow quickly became the greatest blemished battlefield of snow that ever was after my kids’ epic snowball fight broke out. It was one of those rare, unplanned, no-one-got-mad-or-hurt bouts of awesomeness that very occasionally happens. It was the absolute greatest.

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Even Quinn came right back to happy. Also soaking wet. That too.

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Quinn is a fan of the “snowball as big as your head” tactical approach.

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After snowball fighting, terrorizing some geese, and exploring around, Jack found his sensory happy place lying in the snow.

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Sam’s happy place, on the other hand, involved throwing snowballs at me. See that particularly well-aimed one hurtling toward my camera?

The hedge maze we had planned to go through was closed because of the snow, which I thought was absurd, but my thoughts had very little effect on the open vs. closed status of said hedge maze, so we departed to our hotel.

Now, my kids were happily watching a movie in the backseat, so they were unaware of what happened next. I should preface this by telling you that my GPS, which is probably the same one you have, reminds me very much of a Dalek from Doctor Who—its “RECALCULATING” sounds exactly as evil as “EXTERMINATE” and makes me laugh every time I take a wrong turn. I also may or may not repeat “RECALCULATING” in a Dalek voice every time it happens.

Now, my GPS always gets me where I’m going, but it often chooses the weirdest damn way in the world. In this case, instead of choosing a2 + b2 on two-lane and larger roads, the GPS sent me straight across c2—the hypotenuse, which in this case turned out to be a series of increasingly windy and snowy roads over a mountain on which there were NO other cars. If I’d had slinky college coeds in my car instead of damp tweens, it would have been EXACTLY like the beginning of a horror movie.

Perhaps the best part, however, was when I made a wrong turn and the GPS recalculated and I assumed it was sending me on a new route, but it was in fact sending me on the longest, most dangerous 11.2-mile u-turn I’d ever been on. I knew that Dalek GPS has been trying to kill me.

Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

(start at the bottom) Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

That done, we finally got to the hotel, which was the best hotel in the history of hotels, but notable mostly for the fact that it had an indoor swimming pool in which my kids spent HOURS.

CANNONBALL!!!

LOOK OUT BELOW!!!

Also making this hotel notable was that they offered free hot chocolate in the lobby and a microwave in the room, which made an excellent combination for Quinn, who warmed up his one cup of hot chocolate many times over the course of the evening.

It's even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

It’s even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that hotel. We swam evening and morning, ate sooooo much breakfast, and checked out a half hour before we were kicked out. It was an excellent choice to stay overnight.

The other thing that made it an excellent choice to stay overnight was that Luray’s hedge maze was open the next day. I think that my kids were more excited about the hedge maze than the caverns, so I was glad that we were able to head back. It was substantially more crowded that day, which lends more credibility to my new “go to busy attractions on terrible weather days” theory.

The hedge maze at Luray is huge and awesome and has four goals and a center fountain for you to find so you’re not just wandering around aimlessly. Once everyone got yelled at once (by me) for running off in separate directions, Team Stimey stuck together and eventually we made our way through.

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What could possibly go wrong?

The maze was actually really hard. Especially considering said maze was kind of an asshole.

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This totally outraged Quinn.

Luray also has this new thing called Ropeland or some such where they harness you up and send you into a…well, a ropeland. It was really cool. There were three levels, one of which was crazy high. That is the one Quinn got tangled up in and had to be rescued from. Naturally.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Sam went up and came down almost immediately because it hadn’t occurred to him beforehand that he is afraid of heights. Jack, per usual, was fearless.

This is on the middle section.

This is on the middle section.

After Ropeland, we headed back toward Maryland. I had planned a stop at Dinosaurland and was considering one more stop, children permitting, but we only made it to the first stop. Did I mention that Quinn had a time limit? Yeah. It expired almost immediately after arriving at Dinosaurland.

Regardless, I did get this most excellent new Facebook profile photo.

You'll never go...um, on the concrete again!

You’ll never go…um, on the concrete again!

Also, it turns out that my kids are surprisingly resistant to standing in front of giant fake dinosaurs and pretending to be scared of/running from/being eaten by said dinosaurs.

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This was SO halfhearted on his part.

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THIS is how you do it. (Also, I don’t know why a praying mantis is at Dinosaurland. Also, also, I don’t think this is a “life-size replica” as advertised.)

When all was said and done, though, the way I knew that we were really done with Team Stimey’s Fantabulous Spring Break Adventure is when I started to feel like this:

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When you’re standing in front of a pile of trash and a mini-bulldozer with this expression on your face while watching your kid sit in a giant King Kong hand, you know you’re done with your day-o-fun.

(I just realized that I can’t NOT show you the King Kong photo. Here it is. You are welcome.)

I call them Surly and Surlier.

I call them Surly and Surlier.

The End. Come on back next year for Team Stimey’s Incredible Adorable Allegorical Spring Break Adventure II.

Team Stimey’s Spring Break Adventure…Teaser

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Team Stimey had a really fun time on our spring break adventure. We ended up going to Luray Caverns, where we not only toured the caverns, but had the greatest snowball fight ever (and found that giant “LOVE” sign). We stayed at a hotel that had a swimming pool, hot chocolate in the lobby, AND a microwave in the room. Plus we went to Pizza Hut for dinner where some of us (Sam) harassed the waitress for the recipe for the breadsticks (“I don’t know. They come in a box.”).

Best. Overnight trip. Ever.

I have all kinds of fun stories to tell you, but for now I’m just going to point you to White Knuckle Parenting where I wrote about how I decided on our adventure destination.

Stimey’s Guide to Life, Part I

I’m not very good at life. I mean, sure, I bumble through with a fair amount of humor and joy, but I’m not very good at planning things in an adult manner. While most of you are flying, I am like Buzz Lightyear: I am falling with style.

My kids’ spring break starts tomorrow. Naturally, I was sitting around this afternoon making travel plans…for tomorrow. No better time to plan for a vacation than the day before, right? And no better time to plan car travel than right smack dab in the middle of a freak late-March winter storm.

I can’t even claim that I didn’t know the storm was coming because I planned the stupid trip the day before.

Also, we’re going to an outdoor destination.

I’m the best at this stuff.

It’s going to be me, my three kids, outdoor activities, a hotel with a pool, and an ADVENTURE! We’ll be back Tuesday…hopefully.

p.s. Next time Alex is all, “Hey, do you want to take the kids to Key West over spring break?” remind me to not be such a rigid moron that I refuse to consider it.

 

One More About the Four-Leggers

Well. It has been a big week for pets here in Stimeyland. Some good, some bad. I figured I’d wrap some stuff up here before I wander off to other topics, because much as I would love to talk about all gerbils all the time, I imagine some of you are not as excited about the whole thing as I am.

First though, Cassidy. Thank you all so much for your nice comments and emails and and messages. Every single one of them meant a great deal to me and my family. Saturday went as well as could be expected, but it was still terrible. Of course.

The vet and vet tech made an imprint of her paw after they took her away and the vet tech brought it back to our house. It was such a tremendous act of kindness.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

I keep expecting to see her wandering around or stealing food off of our table. It’s also hard to break habits like closing doors to rooms that I don’t want her in or hiding trash cans from her. It’s definitely quieter around here without the constant jingling of her collar tags.

That dog. She was such a problem. But so good.

The kids are doing well. We’re talking about her and making sure they know they’re allowed to be sad.

I wrote about her for White Knuckle Parenting this week. I included many of the book suggestions you gave me, but couldn’t include them all. Thank you for all of them regardless.

*****

So. How are the gerblets doing?

There are still five of them. Today their ears popped open. It hadn’t even occurred to me that they didn’t have ears until suddenly they had them.

I’m supposed to start handling them in the next few days so they get used to people. I imagine that Jetpack and Mouse will have some menacing glares to give me when I pick up their babies.

I’m basing this prediction on Jetpack’s reaction to my taking a photo of the babies from the outside of the tank.

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All five of them, eared and naked.

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Jetpack: “Kindly back the fuck off, ma’am.”

You may notice that the gerbil babies are different colors now. I can’t tell if they have very short fur buzz cuts or if their skin is changing colors. Regardless, I’m hopeful that this means I won’t end up with five identical off-white gerbils, in which case I would just name them all George Foreman and be done with it.

This whole baby thing is honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever watched—and listened to. They squeak all of the time. Frankly, the only negative about the whole thing is the stress of the possibility of 8500 more baby gerbils. Otherwise, watching their development is fantastic. My kids are super into it as well.

Quinn had a friend over this afternoon and when his mom came to pick him up, Quinn handed her a photo of the baby gerbils to take home. If he knew what cigars were, he’d be handing them out too.

Now. I know everyone is VERY concerned about the gender of the gerbils. I’m happy to report that I think I’ve figured out which gerbil is the mom.

Ooooh…the suspense.

I think Jetpack is the mom. I know. A twist! No one saw that coming. Today all seven of them were packed into this tiny hut they have and Mouse was on the bottom of the gerbil pile on his stomach. Jetpack was on top of him on her side and it looked like a baby was nursing from her.

I turned a flashlight on them and everything to try to be sure.

With the tangle of limbs and the darkness and the tiny hut opening combined with the nearly identical fur coverings and the fact that no faces were visible, it was still hard to tell who was who and what was happening, so I’m only about 95% sure that Jetpack is the mom. But really, if I’m wrong, what’s the worst that could happen?

Oh, right.

8500 gerblets.