Some of You Will Mock Me. Some of You Will Be Jealous. You Know Who You Are.

Remember nearly two years ago when we headed out one Saturday morning and returned as cat owners to three kittens, one for each of the kids? We had been worried about acquiring three kittens, because, well, that’s a lot of kittens and it seemed like a lot could go wrong.

Sure enough, Alex and I still have lingering regrets over that day.

We regret that we only got kittens for the kids and not for ourselves. As lovely as three kittens are and as wonderful as the three cats they grew into make our lives, not a week goes by when Alex and I don’t speculate on how much better our lives would be if we had five cats instead of three.

Speculate no longer, friendo.

Photo of Alex on a bench inside a room. He is holding a small white kitten who is sniffing another small white kitten standing on the bench next to him.

Because today at the cat rescue facility, we met our fourth and fifth.

I know. I know you have questions. I have prepared some answers for you.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE??

That one is an actual question my friend asked on Facebook. It seems valid. I reply with my own questions: How many members of Team Stimey are there? How many cats did we have previously? How are we supposed to live with such an imbalance in those answers?

I think you have your answer, my friend.

Also, keep in mind that I’ve watched said friend share a glass of water with one of my original cats, so I know that she is pro feline—or at least pro-original cats.

Can I see a better photo? What are their names?

Two photos: On the left, a white kitten with one tabby spot above its right ear. The second photo is also of a white cat, but this one has a butterfly-shaped tabby patch on his forehead.

Please meet Sharky on the left and Pickles on the right.

Sharky is my cat and Pickles belongs to Alex.

Are they girls like all your other cats?

No, we had to go with boys this time because they were who we fell in love with, even though we intended to get girl cats. Hey, love is love, right?

I will probably call them “she” seven billion times before I get used to the fact that I have boy cats.

So, how do these two cats know each other anyway?

They’re brothers. They’re two months old. Their mom is still up for adoption at the cat shelter if you’re looking for a cat to be your only pet.

Photo of an adoption flyer for a cat named Jazzy.

Check her out at the Washington Animal Rescue League. If you adopted her, it would be like we were related. (It’s not as bad as it sounds.)

What did these delightful animals do at the cat shelter to make you pick them?

Alex went into a little room with them first while I talked to a volunteer. By the time I got in there, he was completely enamored with Pickles, who was cavorting all over in the goofiest way possible. Sharky was far shyer, but then I picked him up and he instantly started to purr and it was all over.

Also:

Two photos. (1) Sharky is standing in the corner of a small room looking startled. There is one cat paw completely outstretched aimed at her. (2) a blurry photo of Sharky with ears back cowering in a corner. Pickles is in a hilarious posture attacking her.

I love that in the first photo all you see is the paw getting ready to strike. That second photo is everything good about kittens, from the awkward attack pose to the fact that Sharky clonked into the glass wall.

Don’t you worry though. Once we got them home, Sharky totally stepped up and is being as big of a jerk as Pickles.

But seriously. Five cats? FIVE? Really?

I figure as long as the pet shelter is still willing to give us cats, we don’t have too many. However, I am afraid that the receptionist at my vet hospital is going to make fun of me. Maybe he’ll be on vacation when I take them in—you know, every time I take them in.

Is Pickles named after the firefighter cat Pickles in the Jenny and the Cat Club series?

Sadly, no. The name just came to Alex at some point and that was it. The name idea is probably older than the cat actually. Naturally I was okay with the name because of the firefighter cat. Also because Pickles is one of the best cat names in the history of cat names.

Okay, Pickles. I get that. Cute. And there is a cat precedent. But Sharky? That seems weird, even for you, Stimey.

I’ve just started watching House of Cards and I watched the first episode where Frank is all, “I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood,” and I was all-in on sharks, blood, House of Cards, and vague television-related allusions in pet names. I am also terrified of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright on that series, but that is neither here nor there.

So, yeah, Sharky.

Also, he has a fin-shaped spot on his forehead.

Also, he’s a super badass.

Photo of Sharky curled in a small ball, fast asleep on a stack of papers.

See? Super badass.

How are they settling in?

Really well. I mean, they really did not care for the trip home in the car, but once we got them out of the carrier in Alex and my bedroom, they got all confident and goofy and hilarious.

Photo of Pickles and Sharky lying next to each other on a brown striped blanket.

I didn’t get any photos of that, but here they are pre-nap.

How are the other cats taking it? Were they all, “Really? Five cats? FIVE?!?”

We have a whole process planned to introduce the cats to each other. See, we have a really good cat ecosystem here and we are concerned about throwing the whole thing sideways so we want to make sure all parties get along. The kittens are sequestered in one room for a couple of days and the cats are all sniffing each other from under the door while we throw treats at them.

Photo of Pickles standing in a hallway in front of a door. There is a large gap between the door and the floor. In the gap is visible the mustache of Oreo.

See, here’s Pickles acclimating…and what is that over by the door?

Closeup of the mustache of Oreo under the door gap.

Well, it seems to be a mustache, sniffing.

Fingers crossed, knock on wood, toss some salt, etc. We’ll let you know how it goes.

How is Team Stimey Jr. taking it?

About how you’d expect. Tears. Screaming. Rending of garments.

I kid. They’re clearly over the moon. Each of them asked to sleep on the floor in the room where the kittens are tonight. We refused, in an effort to (a) keep things normal for our original trio and (b) keep children out of our bedroom.

We didn’t tell the kids we were getting cats today because we weren’t 100% sure we were going to. So their little minds were blown by surprise kittens. What is better than surprise kittens?

(Answer: nothing.)

Jack crouching with Pickles on his knee.

Jack and Pickles

Photo of Sam lying on the ground with a sleeping Sharky in front of him.

Sam and Sharky

Pickles holding on to a foot with his paw and her mouth trying to bite the big toe.

Quinn’s toe and Pickles (Quinn was sort of “clothing optional” this afternoon, so you’ll have to settle for this photo of  his toe.)

But five cats? Who really needs five cats?

We do, all right? There are a lot of homeless pets in the world and these guys are getting a good home, so I’ll take all of your judging and raised eyebrows. (This is mostly directed at my mom, who is incredulous about our wanting so many cats, but takes full advantage of kitten love when she visits.)

Also, please look at these photos and then tell me we didn’t need so many cats.

Photo of Pickles standing on a blue carpet. He's super cute in it.

Pickles (Ooooooh…)

Photo of Sharky sitting down and gazing off camera.

Sharky (and ahhhhhhh.)

I know I sound a little defensive here, but that’s only because we have five cats. FIVE. I mean, really.

Did you intend to get color coordinated cats?

No, but what a happy cowinkydink, right?!?

Three photos. (1) Black cat Ruby (2) black and white cat Oreo (3) black cat with white spot Starfire

Are the cats in black and white or color? No one knows!

How is Quinn going to turn in his homework if the cats are sleeping on it all the time?

Photo of two packets of paper (Quinn's homework). Sharky is asleep on one and Pickles is lying on the other.

I don’t know. I just don’t know the answer to that one.

The Portrait of Oreo Black & White

You all are familiar with this cat, right?

Photo of Oreo on a chair. Starfire is cuddled up as close to her as possible.

The black and white one. The black one is just a cuddling opportunist.

Well. That is Oreo and she is Quinn’s cat. Quinn is super obsessed with Oreo. Oreo is pretty obsessed with Quinn too, so it works out. I’ll put it this way: If you’ve met Quinn, you’ve heard about Oreo. No exceptions.

Today Quinn turned 10 and his gifts were rife with Oreo references.

For example, here is a photo of Quinn right after he opened a birthday gift from my mom, which was a water bottle with a photo of Quinn and Oreo on it:

Photo of Quinn with a huge smile on his face. He is holding a water bottle with a picture of him and Oreo on it.

Look at his face. SO happy.

I mean, he was also really happy that I got him a DustBuster, so the bar is maybe not too high, but you know what I mean, right?

So imagine what happened to Quinn’s face when he saw that I commissioned a portrait of Oreo for his birthday. Oh, don’t imagine. Here it is:

Photo of Quinn, contorted in glee, looking at something out of the camera frame. Jack is standing next to him. Sam is too, but the camera has cut off his head.

Let’s brush aside the fact that Sam is so tall that he didn’t make it into this photo.

That, incidentally, is also the face I made when I saw the thing. It is SO good.

watercolor and ink portrait of Oreo

Seriously. It is just so damn good.

Then Sam grabbed Oreo and she was all, “What is happening? Help!”

Photo of Alex holding the framed Oreo painting. Sam is holding Oreo. She looks concerned.

I love this photo.

In case you’re wondering, I got the art from the Pet Art Gallery on Etsy. I contacted the artist, who is in the United Kingdom, on May 5. She painted the thing, submitted it to me for approval, and shipped it so that it arrived on May 20, two days before Quinn’s birthday. I cannot recommend her enough.

There is a lot of jealousy amongst the other members of Team Stimey Junior. I have a feeling that I have some great Christmas presents already lined up for two of them.

Photo of Ruby sitting on a chair in front of the portrait of Oreo.

Which is good, because someone seems a little surly that she wasn’t selected for a portrait.

Jack’s Culture

Jack had an assignment for world studies to write three sentences about his culture. I don’t have to tell you that we are cultureless buffoons. We also don’t have a religious or ethnic or pretty much any other identity that counts as a “culture.”

I offered some suggestions for what he could write about and he settled on autistic culture. (It was either that or “cat-loving culture.”)

We talked a little bit about autistic culture and he started furiously typing. At some point he stopped and said, “That was inspiring, Mom.”

That kid.

Read on for his take on autistic culture (quoted verbatim and with permission):

“I believe that I have an autistic culture because I am autistic. Part of it is that some autistic people like to work together to make an autistic world better and they share their own unique history. They made this culture so that autistic people would feel safe. The most important part is that they feel accepted and awesome no matter what. Written by Jack on 5/14/15 for 5th period world studies.”

Photo of Jack

The Day We Tried To Visit an Artisinal Movie Theater

Today my family had a plan to go see the new Avengers movie. Because even though it was Mother’s Day, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and see the Avengers because a lot of young boys live in your house.

Alex and I were looking at movie times and the one that worked best was at a theater that we had never been to before.

Both of us were like, “Geez, I don’t know. Someplace new? I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.” We had a whole conversation about it.

We fear change.

Eventually we decided that a movie theater, even one we had never been to, should be pretty safe. We were so stupid.

We could NOT handle a new movie theater.

We walked in and I was pretty sure we had mistakenly walked into a hotel lobby. Instantly I said, “I don’t think we’re fancy enough to go to this movie theater.”

We were not.

It turns out that we had wandered into some sort of upscale hipster theater where you buy assigned seats through the internet while you’re still at home and then you come to the theater to buy a $7 bottle of water or a beer and wait for them to bring your popcorn to your recliner.

Team Stimey is not, I repeat, not made up of upscale hipsters.

We were running late, so I left Alex in line to buy tickets while I went to the snack bar to buy popcorn. I ordered a soda and some popcorn and the guy was all, “Are you premium or premium plus?” and I was all, “Da fuck?” Then he started talking about how you ordered in one place if you were premium and the other place if it was premium plus and I was like, “I know my family and I’m pretty damn sure we would not be premium plus,” and it just went downhill from there.

Firstly, if something is the lowest tier, I do not believe that you can call it premium. Secondly, I never really got to discover the difference between the two because Alex came over in a total snit with the news that he had failed to procure tickets because there was some whole system that we knew nothing about and we don’t know how to handle change and NO ONE SHOULD EVER TRY ANYTHING NEW EVER.

Getting a refund for our popcorn turned into a whole thing too, involving a manager and a lot of awkward waiting, and me leaving a guilt tip for the snack bar employee who visibly winced when I told him I no longer wanted to buy the popcorn.

Then we walked back to our car and drove to our regular downscale theater where you can buy tickets from a kiosk and they don’t sell wine at the snack bar and you stick to the floor when you walk on it and instead of fancy chandeliers and mood lighting in the lobby, there are giant coming attractions displays and shooting video games.

Photo of my family from the back. Quinn and Jack are watching Alex and Sam play a video game.

Yeah. That’s about right.

Sometimes I tell Quinn stories about a cat named Oreo and her wacky adventures. In these stories, our friends’ cat Tippy is always very fancy and rich and talks in a snooty accent. My entire family spent some time discussing how Tippy would loooooove the fancy movie theater and we generally made ourselves feel better by mocking both upscale hipsters and a very sweet cat named Tippy.

Photo of Alex, Jack, Sam, and Quinn in a darkened movie theater.

Then we watched the longest movie in the world, also known as The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Lessons learned today:

1. It may have been Mother’s Day, but it’s always Team Stimey Jr. Day.

2. Team Stimey is not fancy. Or smart. Or able to act fancy or smart.

3. Making fun of other people can bring a family together and make everyone feel better.

4. Never try anything new.

All in all, a day well spent.

Commute Stories

There is an escalator I go down every time I go to work. Today it wasn’t moving. The reason it wasn’t moving was because there was a woman at the bottom with the hem of her dress stuck in the steps.

Great. Now I have something else to be afraid of.

*****

There is a bank I go to in DC where they always offer you a miniature candy bar when you visit the teller. Today, deep in a yearning for snacks on my way home from work, I think I actually said, “Oh thank God” out loud when the guy passed me a mini-Krackel.

*****

In other escalator news, I have to go down and up this escalator every day that I go to work.

Photo from the bottom of three escalators stretching way up into the distance.

It is the longest set of single span escalators in the Western Hemisphere.

If you just stand on the thing, it takes 2 minutes and 45 seconds to travel from top to bottom or vice versa.

It’s kinda my nemesis.

When I started working, I would walk carefully down, gripping the side rail. Now I jog down. I hope when I inevitably take my fall that I am at least near the bottom.

I’m also working on jogging up the thing, although on Thank God for Krackel Days, I just stand on it. Sometimes I’ll read a chapter of a book as it carries me slowly up. My usual routine is to walk up about 2/3 of it, take a long rest, and then finish.

It’s a whole thing.

*****

This isn’t about my commute, but I realized something the other day. It is almost exactly a year since I started working. I realized something else as well. Ever since I’ve started leaving the house to go to work, I haven’t had any long depressed stretches like I’d gotten used to.

Yeah, it’s been harder to fit in some of the things I want to do and I still don’t have perfect mental health and it turns out that people who have jobs actually DO sometimes get a case of the Mondays, but I’ve discovered that purpose and structure are really good for me.

So, hooray for jobs. And even commutes.

Loving the Cheetah Nation

Every year I kinda forget how much Jack loves the Cheetah-thon. Part of it is that he just loves skating without having to wear all of his gear or being asked to do drills. But the thing I am reminded of, year after year, is how much Jack loves his coaches.

Yeah, he spends a lot of his time at the Cheetah-thon literally skating circles around his brothers, but he also makes sure to spend time skating and hanging out with his coaches, often hand-in-hand.

Jack skating holding hands with his coach.This year, Jack headed out on the ice while I was doing other stuff. When I finally got rinkside and spotted Jack, he was in the middle of the ice with three of his coaches doing a little dance.

“It’s really hard to not love that kid,” one of them told me later.

(I agree.)

Photo of Jack after he artfully slid to a stop on one knee on the ice. He has one hand on his hip and the other above his head in a peace sign.Sam and Quinn did less on-ice boogie dancing, but they had fun too.

Photo of Sam and Quinn clinging to the side of the rink. Quinn's back is to the camera.Even Quinn is warming up to his once yearly skating adventure. You might not be able to see it in this photo, but he’s smiling and joyful here.

Photo I took of Quinn from outside the rink. He's trying to duck down to hide from the camera.

I really want to thank all of you who donated to the Cheetah-thon. This truly is an amazing team made up of incredible athletes and supporters. Thank you to Sarah, Kelly, Barbara, and Grandma for donating. If you donated and I missed you, please let me know because I would like to know and be able to thank you. It is really meaningful to my family that you contribute to the Cheetahs in Jack’s honor. I also want to thank Heather and her family for coming to the Cheetah-thon.

Photo of Jack, just after he's skated away from one of his coaches.We’re going to enjoy our summer without early-morning Saturday practices, but come fall, Jack will be back on the ice.

Thank you.