Frustration and Love

Today was an exercise in frustration.

I took my car in to get the window glass fixed, but the box with my glass in it was mislabeled so they had to reorder the right glass. Sorry about that hour of your life, Stimey. Come back tomorrow.

I went to the bank to get a new temporary debit card and order new checks and whatnot only to find that the temporary debit card they gave me wouldn’t work and they couldn’t figure out why. Sorry about that hour of your life, Stimey. Come back tomorrow.

I had two kids with Halloween parties at exactly the same time. I was going to try to get to both and still be at home in time to make sure none of my kids ended up getting off a bus and locked out of my house. It didn’t work out. I was home on time, but I only made it to one of the parties.

Between those errands, my trip to replace my driver’s license and my trip to the grocery store, I was running around all day (with plastic taped over my car window) and feeling as if I was just not getting very much accomplished.

It was a really tough day.

But.

But I kept checking my email. And Facebook. And Twitter. And my texts.

And you guys were there.

I cannot even explain to you how much of a difference your love made to me today. You understood that the tragedy here wasn’t the purse or the window, but it was Algernon. And whether you called him an important part of the blogging community or you called him my family, your heartfelt and truly beautiful condolences were so meaningful to me.

The fastest way to make me cry is to be nice to me. You guys had me crying all day long. Every single one of you who reached out—you will never know what it meant to me today.

I intend to respond to each of you, but it might take me a while. Today was tough. Tomorrow will be better. Thank you for being there for me. I am so lucky to have all of you.

 

The Other Shoe

If you found a yellow purse and are here because you found a stack of Stimeyland business cards and luggage tags in it, please email me!

Guess what happens if you write a post about clouds lifting and the sun shining?

The world fucks you up.

That’s what happened to me today. I was happily running at 9:30 this morning, proud of myself for squeezing in my run on a busy day, first thing in the morning, and under a sky that was threatening rain. “I am awesome!” is what I thought about myself as I rounded my last turn and returned to where I had stashed my car.

Then the world dropped the metaphorical other shoe on me.

My van with a smashed window.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.

And, yeah. My purse had (emphasis on the past tense there) been in the car.

I, much like my window, was shattered. I never leave my bag in the car when I run. Never. I usually just take my driver’s license and debit card and put it in the waistpack I wear when I run. For some reason today, I took the purse and left it unattended. It was under a blanket, but I guess that didn’t fool anyone.

My wallet was of course in the bag along with my checkbook. My brand new mittens that I’d only worn once were in the bag. My favorite winter hat that I bought in 1994 was in the bag. A toy that belonged to Quinn’s best friend was in the bag, waiting for me to return it to him. My grocery list was in the bag. I’ll never be able to recreate that. As for valuables? Well, there was probably about $40 and some credit cards that I canceled before they were used.

And, you guys. I almost can’t say it because I want to cry every time I think about it.

Algernon was in the bag.

I am brokenhearted. Most of my stuff can be replaced, but Algernon can’t be. I know he was just a stupid little stuffed mouse, but he was so much more than that to me. He was my shield, my ice breaker, my humor, my friend. I feel ridiculous every time I start to cry when I think about him, but I truly loved him.

Not only that, but this is the last photo I have of him.

I’m trying to joke about him, but I will really miss him. Both Jack and Sam cried when I told them Algernon was gone. He was like a tiny, fuzzy, filthy, inanimate member of our family.

I stood by my sad, broken car and called Alex, because he’s my person and he knows what to do in these situations. He offered to call about all my credit cards and I was just about to hang up so I could go about filing a police report (all from my smart phone—we live in a miraculous time), when my phone rang again.

It was Quinn’s school. He’d just thrown up and I had to come get him.

Because of fucking course.

Quinn was actually a really wonderful addition to my day. He saw how sad I was and gave me all kinds of nice hugs. Plus, because he was feeling completely fine by the time I picked him up, he was willing to go back to the scene of the crime and walk around to look for my bag in the hopes that the thief had taken my wallet and ditched the bag.

Quinn kept remarking, “No offense, but I don’t think we’re going to find it. No offense.”

He was right. We didn’t find it, but we did get to play crime scene investigator.

Quinn studying a pile of auto glass on the ground.

He concluded that there was glass on the ground. And some trash.

There are, of course, a couple of upsides to this violation. For example, I am the proud new owner of a big ol’ window breaking rock that is still in my car. I don’t have to worry about how to fill all my free time over the next few days because now I have all kinds of errands to run. Related: I don’t have to worry about how to spend all my free money because I’ll be using it to fix my window, pay for a new license, and replacing all the crap in my bag.

Also, Jack has an ample supply of auto safety glass to explore and crumble up.

Jack holding a piece of auto glass.

He is really, really into it. I might gather up the pieces that are all over the floor of my car and use them as bribes to get him to do his homework: “Do a math problem, get a piece of glass to crumble!”

That’s about it for the positives. There is an extremely long list of negatives. Dealing with this is going to take forever and is going to cost so much money, and all the guy who robbed me got was a couple of twenties and a stuffed mouse. But why would he care? Not his problem, I guess. People are the fucking worst.

Thank you to all of you who sent nice Facebook messages, comments, and texts after you heard about my day. Super thanks to Alex for being so amazing at dealing with all the financial bullshit today. Wish me luck at the window place, the DMV, and the bank tomorrow. It’s going to be a super fun day.

Also, wish Algernon luck. I hope he doesn’t end up in a landfill and that rather someone who will love him finds him. Happy travels, Algernon. I hope you find some good adventures.

Sunny Days

Things are better, friends. I’m feeling a lot better. Part of my depression is/was chronic depression that I have dealt with for a long time. But I also have pretty severe PMDD and sometimes those two depressions work together and send me spiraling into a headspace where I isolate myself and don’t talk and sit in drippy black clouds for longer than I am used to.

I say this to let you know that those drippy clouds have been receding and I’ve been more reliable about taking my antidepressants and things have been getting better and this is a perfect segue into me telling you that last weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

Everything came together in, like, a loveplosion of awesome. I have a list of things from last weekend that I want to write about and show you photos of, which, I believe, will be a vast improvement over, you know, nothing. Hopefully those words will actually materialize.

My weekend was full of friends from near and far, awesome kids, a moonbounce, candy corn, margaritas, cheering on Marine Corps Marathon runners, being with people who really get and love me, and sunny weather.

It’s just too bad there wasn’t more sleep. And there was no Segway ride. That would have made my weekend better. I’m just saying.

I’m a really lucky person. I’m so glad that the clouds are lifting so I can see that.

Kids in the Grass

My kids like doing a lot of things that I think seem less fun than beating myself over the head with a brick. I could make a list, but the thing that has been in front of my mind lately is this:

Quinn and Jack wrestling on a grassy hillThey wrestle all the time. ALL THE TIME. At home they will retire to Jack and Quinn’s bedroom and wrestle and throw things at each other. Or they will go to the basement and I will hear nothing but thumps and thuds and the occasional scream. Then, when Sam has soccer practices, Jack and Quinn will hurl each other to the ground and sit on each other and mash their faces into the grass and generally do all kinds of horrible things to each other, all while laughing hysterically. Bonus if there is a hill, so gravity can play a part.

I don’t get it.

Maybe that is because when I was a kid, my sister and her friends would wrestle me to the ground in a less even matching of skills. One memorable day, they tied me up in a vacuum cleaner cord, then dragged me up the stairs and threw me out on the back porch. In front of my mom. Who laughed.

Wrestling: not really my thing.

Regardless of my personal scars, it makes me so happy to watch them play this way. They end up in tears far less often than you would think and giggle and get more exercise than when they do almost anything else.

Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see them rolling around on the ground screaming and sitting on each others’ faces and stuff. Although probably people just ignore all of us except when they roll into someone. Which does happen occasionally.

The point of this whole post (other than to exercise my typing fingers) is so that next time my kids can’t seem to get along for more than 15 seconds and they’re all screaming at each other and I’m hiding from them under a blanket on the couch, I can look back at this and remember how much my kids love each other, how much they like each other, and how much fun they can have with just a patch of grass and their muscles.

Ye Olde Samuel

Sam turned 12 years old last weekend, which is completely unbelievable, of course, but true, so we should just accept the impossible and move on to how we celebrated said birthday.

We didn’t have birthday parties for any of our kids this year, opting instead to give them fun experiences instead. For Jack and Quinn’s birthday, we shoved Quinn to the ground on amusement park asphalt and took Jack on a loop-de-loop roller coaster. For Sam’s birthday, we decided to not injure or terrify anyone. Instead, we took our munchkins and one of Sam’s friends to…

The outside of Medieval Times

Medieval Times!

You may not know about Medieval Times, in which case you are super bummed out, because Medieval Times is AWESOME. You may know about Medieval Times if you are one of the 12 people who saw the terrible movie The Cable Guy back in the 90s. There is a scene set at the restaurant and it is, in fact, pretty realistic. Alex showed this clip to all of our young attendees, because of course he did.

We arrived a billion hours early because (a) I’m always early, (b) we kinda misread our tickets, and (c) they tell you to be there an hour early so you will wander around and buy things before they seat you.

Here’s something: If you take four young men to Medieval Times, they will only wander around looking at the suits of armor and old-school instruments of torture for so long before they become captivated by this wall of items for sale:

Sam in front of a wall and display case full of swords and daggers.

You’re killing me here, Medieval Times.

I took steps to prevent them from obsessing over Real! Weapons! For Sale! Right Over There!

Jack in pretend stockade.

This worked for mere seconds though. Those locks aren’t real.

Because we were still a long way out from being seated and it was rapidly becoming a matter of either procure weapons for the children or buy a $21 beer for myself (I’m not kidding—$21), I made an executive decision that a mix of wooden swords, axes, and daggers would make good party favors and leave me in a position to not be a drunken asshole at my son’s birthday party.

Jack posing with his wooden sword next to a large stone knight with a sword.

This was an excellent decision on my part.

I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to keep said four young men from accidentally decapitating or otherwise damaging bystanders. This involved a lot of shouting of, “Swordfight in the corner!” and “Don’t swing your ax at that tiny girl!” and “Don’t you make me put you back in that stockade!”

Sam and Jack battling with wooden weapons.

Surprisingly, they were not very good at staying contained.

This worked until it got super crowded and then I pulled out my secret weapon, a.k.a. the iPad.

Team Stimey gathered around an iPad.

As I was taking this photo, a woman asked if I would like her to take a photo of all of us. I declined, telling her that I was just taking this photo because my entire family looked like they wished they were dead.

All of this and the show hadn’t even started yet.

Shortly thereafter, they started seating based on the colors and numbers on a little card we were given when we checked in. We were green four. They called a bunch of numbers and colors and then they called green one and two…at which point all four of the kids with us took off and ran into the theater, leaving Alex and I shuffling in uncertain little circles.

Did we use our missing children as an excuse to wedge the line before we were supposed to? Did we just assume that our kids would find their way to the correct table instead of getting separated, lost, and eventually kidnapped? Should we stand where we were and look at each other with bewildered looks on our faces until they called green four only to go into the theater to find that our children had nabbed optimal seats in the second row?

I think you know the answer to that.

So, there we were, in the second row, happy as motherfucking clams.

Alex at Medieval Times in green crown with huge grin.

I meant it when I said we were happy. Alex also had a $21 beer (glass mug included!), which made him even happier.

My kids were delighted by the mugs that made it look as if they were boozing it up. I’m not exactly sure where they learned that, but I’m going to blame it on The Hobbit.

Team Stimey studying napkins and holding up metal-looking beer mugs.

The menu was printed on the napkins, which explains why they are staring at them. Alex dropped his on the ground immediately. This became a problem for him later, seeing as how there are no utensils at Medieval Times.

Sam’s friend ordered Pepsi and in my mind I was all, “Huh. I wonder if he is allowed to drink Pepsi,” and then later it was, “Huh. I wonder if he is allowed to have two refills of Pepsi at dinner,” and then even later it was, “Welp. Better his mom than me.”

It is almost always a good idea to trust me with your kids.

Our waitress—or wench, as she self-identified—was excellent. She was extremely responsive to Quinn’s million questions about the menu, kept our guest well supplied with soda refills, and was super energetic and fun.

Waitress standing in front of tables with the Medieval Times arena behind her.

She was also less bizarro-eyed than this photo would lead you to believe.

Then, oh holy hell, y’all, the lights dimmed, a spotlight appeared, music swelled, and a motherfucking silver horse goddamn galloped into the arena to collective cheers from the crowd, which could not have been more appreciative if they had been treated to the sight of a unicorn trailing rainbows from its hooves.

White horse in the arena.

Oooooh! Motherfucking aaaahhhhh!

I may have done some woohooing myself.

You guys, it was so fun. There was a falcon and fancy horse tricks and and a king and a princess and some guy on a horse who showed up to apparently just run around in circles to amuse us as we ate chicken and there was a bad guy who was eventually vanquished and we all shouted and cheered and waved flags and banners like the fools we are.

All four kids (and both adults) were universally delighted.

Collage of Team Stimey cheering at Medieval Times.

They were so into it. It was hard to get a good photo of Jack madly waving his banner because he was so close to me, but he was super happy. And Quinn Who Hates Everything? Look at that smile. Just look at it.

There was some sort of story line that was mostly to get us to cheer for our knight and to be amazed at the little competitions they staged with jousting and spear throwing and sword fighting and so much more fun stuff. Everyone in the crowd was cheering and happy. I think it would be hard to not get caught up in the fun there. Jack did spend a few minutes under the table, but he came right back up when he heard more ecstatic cheering.

Medieval Times show.

Our knight was the green knight. He was ultimately slain by the yellow knight. BOOOOOOOO!!!!

Medieval Times green knight

We’ll miss you, oh brave green knight.

There was also the guy who had to clean up the horse shit, with what was essentially a giant cat litter scooper.

Medieval Times pooper scooper

I don’t know why I was so delighted by this, but I was.

The food was totally secondary to the show, but it was decent too. It was really fun because there are really no utensils. You have to sip your soup from the bowl, pick up your half potato, and rip apart your quarter chicken—excuse me, baby dragon—with your bare hands. Also, if you are sitting next to Jack, you will have to de-skin his chicken because his delicate palate does not care for dragon skin.

Honestly, it was just like dining at my house except I didn’t have to yell at anyone to use a fork.

Quinn eating a giant ol' hunk of chicken.

A quarter chicken is Quinn’s favorite meal, so he was in heaven.

After the show, we gathered up our souvenirs and the children used their allowance money to buy more crap and then we headed back home for Sam’s birthday cake. Medieval Times is not cheap, especially if you are unprepared and don’t warn your kids ahead of time that there will be no shopping, but it is something that they are going to remember forever. It was one of the best birthday celebrations we’ve had in a long time.

Team Stimey Junior in front of a stone-looking lion

Farewell, Medieval Times. Thanks for the memories.

One Week

I don’t know if I have let a week pass between posts on Stimeyland EVER, but I see that this is what I have done.

I hate that I have been writing less, and there are a number of reasons why, some of which are interesting and probably worthy of their own posts and one of which is that my life with my kids in school is way less fun and Stimeylandish than it used to be when the munchkins were around all the time. Also, it feels weird and narcissistic to just write about myself, but this is a blog, so maybe I should just get over that and navel gaze all over myself already.

Even though I didn’t write about them, things continued to happen in Stimeyland. (I know. It surprised me too.) Here are some of them:

• Depression continues. I am trying to remember to choose laughing over crying. (See my philosophy under my photo up there ⤻)

• I am looking into Quinn’s…issues. We had a session with meanest neurologist ever. Quinn was unphased (thank God). I was near catatonic for the remainder of the day.

• My kids’ school district holds a multi-day cultural arts showcase where dozens of acts that want to perform at assemblies and the like give 15-minute performances for PTA representatives to watch in hopes that we will hire them for our schools. I attend for one of my kids’ schools. I gotta tell you, that mime I watched today totally cheered me up. I am not kidding. He was awesome. Changed my whole goddamn day. Who would’ve thunk it?

• “Thunk” is a spellcheck-approved word.

• I just realized that “thunk” is a spellcheck-approved word because it is a sound, not the colloquial past-tense of “think” like I want to imagine it.

• “Spellcheck” is not a spellcheck-approved word.

• The kittens are rapidly turning into cats, but are still über-adorable and wonderful. They are going to be good cats.

Small, black kitten cuddled in arms with one paw across her chest and one cupping her forehead.

This is Ruby. I think she was being cute on purpose. Kittens know how to do that, you know.

• I had some people invited to my house for an outdoor activity last weekend, but it was supposed to rain all day, so I canceled it, but then it didn’t rain specifically for the hours of said outdoor activity and I was mad, annoyed, and depressed for the whole day because of it. I would have felt a lot better had it rained.

• I haven’t gone running for weeks. I’m starting to suspect that this might be related to the crushing depression.

• We went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 last weekend. It was hilarious. You should go see it.

• Jack and I had a really amazing encounter in a Panera Bread the other day. Sometimes people are good. I Facebooked it:

Stimeyland Facebook status reading: "Dear ladies with the baby in Panera: Thank you for letting Jack hug your baby when he asked. Thank you for engaging—really engaging—in conversation with him. Thank you for your response when Jack put his arm around me and said, "My mom and I are both autistic." Thank you for not giving a sad head bob, but rather for saying, "I love the things that make us unique!" Just, thank you. For the whole thing. (Your baby is adorable.)"

Please just ignore that first, errant comma.

• Sam turned 12 over the weekend and we took him to Medieval Times to celebrate. Holy shit, you guys, Medieval Times with my kids was the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cannot properly express how much fun we had—although I will attempt to in a stand-alone post that I will hopefully write tomorrow.

Sam holding a green Medieval Times flag.

It was motherfucking delightful.

There. I wrote. I feel minorly better about myself now. Baby steps.

Warm Fuzzies

It has obviously been far too long since I’ve posted an update to let you know how my kittens are doing. Also, in lieu of actual words coming out of my brain, I thought I might show you some cute photos. They might make you feel better. I know they make me feel better.

Seriously, Starfire does this thing where she climbs up on a lap and starts meowing, regardless of how much you’re already petting her, then shoves her face in your nose. It is awesome. There is nothing like a cuddly kitten to make you feel better.

Jack holding two black kittens.

I think Jack would agree.

Even the gerballs seem to have determined that the cats are harmless. For a few days, they would hide when the cats climbed on top of their tanks. Now they just kind of hang out. Sometimes they even investigate the cats right back.

Gerbil sniffing at cat on top of her tank.

Or maybe they’re teasing the cats. Those gerbils have schemes.

Either way, they seem pretty relaxed.

Gerbil drinking from water bottle while lying on his back.

This gerbil, for example, seems to have found a way to hydrate whilst sleeping. RELAXED.

The kittens, on the other hand, are anything but relaxed. I mean, sure, they sleep a lot, but they also stampede through the house in a manner that is quite possibly louder and more disruptive than when my kiddos do it. For tiny animals, their little padded feet are LOUD when they run.

My kids are always trying to find new ways to have fun with/exploit the kittens, something that Quinn quite aptly did a few days ago when he went fishing for the phone and called my mom. He told her that he was having a kitty-a-thon and wanted to know if she wanted to pledge some money.

AND SHE AGREED TO DO SO.

AND SHE ACTUALLY SENT HIM FIVE DOLLARS.

Quinn has powers.

We took our kitty-a-thon proceeds (total: $5) to the store to find a cat toy. Jack and Quinn checked out all of the toys before deciding on a mouse-shaped laser pointer, which turns out to be the best $4.75 ever spent by anybody anywhere.

The cats are powerless against it.

Powerless.

Three cats staring at a red dot on the wall. Cat jumping in the air at a red dot.And I can sit on my couch and exercise my cats at the same time, which is perfect for my current levels of lethargy.

So, consider yourselves caught up on Team Stimey’s four-legged gang. I’m going to try to do something exciting/fun/crushingly disastrous with my kids soon so I have something to write about that isn’t covered in fur.