A Word On Nomenclature

As you may know, oftentimes transgender people choose to change their names even if they have a perfectly cromulent, mostly gender neutral name like Sam.

You may see where I am going with this.

For a while now, some of us have been calling her by the name she has chosen, but she recently came out with that name to her teachers and many other people in her life, so this will serve as notice that the artist formerly known as Sam will now be referred to exclusively by her chosen name of Katherine or Katie or Kat or even Kitkat if you are feeling particularly whimsical.

Blue-haired Katie

Introducing Katie, now with blue hair.


Too Many Ideas to Fill Up a Weekend

You know how sometimes you have weekends when you have nothing to do and you kinda sit around and stare at your family and no one can think of fun things to do and the only options you have are to go grocery shopping and think about how you should probably consider vacuuming?

Well, if you ever have one of those weekends, I have some suggestions for you based on what I did last weekend—a weekend during which I went everywhere and did everything.

Friday night: Realize Your Baby Is No Longer a Baby

Friday night, I gave Quinn snack money and dropped him off at a party for sixth graders going into his middle school next year. You should be aware that he is my wee little baby and I just dropped him off and watched him run into the building all by himself. I didn’t even remember to shout, “Don’t get kidnapped!” at him.

I arrived two hours later to see him “playing basketball” with a couple of his friends. This involved a lot of hurling the ball at each other and not a lot of actual playing of basketball. Once he spotted me, he briefly ran into the dance part of the party to spend the last of his money on snacks before I could demand it back and then returned to the gym.

Photo taken through a window of Quinn throwing a basketball.

Quinn is sportsing!

He bought a cookie for me though, so I have forgiven him for growing into a large, independent person.

Saturday morning: Run a Trail Race for the First Time

I have run races put on by many different organizations and therefore I get emails from all of them suggesting that I register for more races. One came across my inbox a couple of months ago that seemed all kinds of fun. It was called the Nanty Narking Nearly 9K and that alone seemed like a reason to run it. It also described the course as running past historic sites and the Underground Railroad Experience Trail and I was all, “sign me up!” before it even occurred to me that running past historic sites means you don’t get to actually look at them for more than about 30 seconds.

But that is okay because this race was, in fact, nanty narking (the race description claims that is a Victorian expression meaning “great fun”). It was a trail race, which I’d never done before. You know what? Trail races are fantastic. It had rained heavily the day before so there was all kinds of mud and there were hills to climb and rocks to step around and piles of horse shit to avoid and just a crapton of fun. Seriously.

It was a really small race too, so during the about five and a half miles, there was a lot of time when I was just out in the woods without any other people in sight. It was seriously the best. I think I understand why people like trail running.

Selfie of me and Lyda before the race.

My friend Lyda ran with me. Neither of us tripped and fell even once.

Saturday afternoon: Ice Skate for Special Hockey

Saturday afternoon was the Montgomery Cheetahs’ Cheetah-thon, which we happily attended. (Thank you to all of you who donated. You make Jack and me so happy.) Jack, of course, is a super rock star at the Cheetah-thon and had a blast skating in literal circles around his family.

Jack ice skating.

I cropped Sam out of this photo because the event was for Jack. Sorry, Sam.

Everyone else had a good time too. Sam did a great job skating and was actually the member of Team Stimey who stayed on the ice the longest. Quinn worked hard at skating and definitely made improvements over the course of the evening. I suppose he’d get even better if he skated more than once a year.

Jack and Sam standing face to face on the ice. Alex helping Quinn skate. The whole picture is reflected in the rink glass.

I ran around before we left making sure everyone had socks and helmets and long pants and sweatshirts so they could skate and I forgot my socks so I had to stay on the edge of the rink and heckle them.

The ice is not where Quinn shines though. The raffle is where Quinn shines. There are so many prizes up for grabs at the Cheetah-thon—and Quinn wants to win them all. Last year, in addition to some other stuff, he won a basket of Girl Scout cookies, which was like the greatest thing to ever happen to him in this lifetime. Wanna know what he won this year?

Quinn holding a basket of Girl Scout cookies.

A basket of Girl Scout cookies.

We also won some other stuff and Jack got to hang out with his people and I got to say hi to a lot of people and then I got to sit quietly on a bench and try to not get overwhelmed by all the people and we also bought all of the Cheetahs’ merchandise up for sale and the Cheetahs raised a ton of money and I’m pretty sure Team Stimey contributed about a third of it through raffle ticket purchases for that basket of cookies.

Me wearing a Cheetahs hat and Jack drinking out of a Cheetahs water bottle.

Jack and I showing off our Cheetah gear.

All worth it for the team though. So worth it.

Saturday evening: Chill Out After a Busy Day By Heading to Costco on a Weekend

We go to Costco pretty much every weekend for milk and lettuce and stuff, so Alex thought we could get it out of the way by stopping by after the Cheetah-thon and no one had the nerve to tell him no, plus there is a delicious chicken place for dinner next to the Costco, so that’s where we went after ice skating.

Well, Sam and I went to Target first to return some shorts, but then met up with everyone else at Costco. Side note: Do you realize how short girl shorts are? Because I am living in that world now and I don’t know when a 3-inch inseam started being classified as LONG shorts, but jeebus, there is sooooooo much leg for teenage girls to show these days. Consequently, whenever I see shorts that pass my Mom Length Test, I buy them. And then Sam doesn’t like them and we return them. It’s like a fun little game we play that involves a lot of eye rolling on both sides.

Also, do you know who else goes to Costco on a Saturday night half an hour before it closes? EVERYONE.

Sunday morning: Drive 45 Minutes Each Way For Your Kid’s Bassoon Lesson

When your kid plays bassoon, you take your private lessons where you can get them. For us, that is a solid 35-45 minutes away. Every Sunday between 9:45 and 12:15, Sam and I take the long trip to bassoon lessons. On our way there, Sam tries to read on her phone and I try to have deep, meaningful conversations with her because she’s my captive audience. Guess who wins.

I have to say though, even if someone offered us bassoon lessons next door, we’d still go to this teacher. She is awesome. She has really done a lot to push Sam and to help her play with groups she wouldn’t have otherwise. We like her a lot.

Sunday Mid-day Chicken Interlude:

Quinn eats very specific fried chicken legs for school lunch every day. Every weekend, we have to go buy at least five chicken legs from a specific grocery store. Sometimes they don’t have chicken legs when we’re there and we have to go back later. It is ridiculous. Every once in a while we try to sneak in a leg from a more reliable, closer store. He is never fooled.

Sunday afternoon: Attend the Finale of Listen To Your Mother DC

This year was the last year for the fantastic Listen to Your Mother shows in DC. Having been in the first one, I absolutely wanted to be there at the end.

I’m so glad I was. Per usual, it was an amazing show full of laughs and heartwrenching stories and truth.

Sunday late afternoon: Run. Then When You Get Tired, Run More. Try To Run Through Three Jurisdictions.

I am running the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Even though it is a loooong ways away, I am already doing some hard training to make sure I am able to run it the way I want to run it. That means that I am doing long runs every weekend (with mid-length runs every three or four weekends to rest).

Because my weekend was so busy, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get my long run in or that I was going to have to wake up early to do it. (Gasp! The horror!) Then I had a brilliant idea: I could run home from Listen to Your Mother!

The show was at a theater in northern Virginia near a Metro station, so I Metroed down there and plotted a route home that would take me from Virginia, all the way through DC, and then to my neighborhood in Maryland. (I wish DC was a state so I could say I’d run through three states.)

Regardless, it was a little more than a 12-mile run and because I was running north, it was all uphill. (Just like all rivers run south, right?)

Elevation graph. It shows the elevation getting higher as I go, then it decreases some.

My Garmin says that I actually gained 732 feet. Just in case you ever wanted to know whether it is uphill or downhill into DC.

Now I understand why I was so tired when I got home.

Sunday evening: Collapse

I arrived home and sat down. I ate some food. I had to decline an invitation to ride my bike with the family to get ice cream. I took a bath and tried not to sink under the water. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. It was awesome.

So, now you have some ideas of how to fill a weekend. I think this coming weekend will be similarly packed so I should have more ideas for you after you do all of these. But whatever you do, don’t forget the collapsing part. That is very important.

The Magic of Special Hockey Reprise

Jack and I went to Jamestown, New York, for his hockey tournament almost two months ago now. I’ve wanted to write about it ever since, but, well, you know the kind of laziness problems I’ve been having. Because our annual Cheetah-thon is this weekend, this seemed like a good time to tell you about it. (You are officially invited to said Cheetah-thon and also supplied with this here link to our fundraising site in case you are so inclined to donate to this fantastic program.)

So after Jack took the year off from the Cheetahs last year and re-started this year, Alex has been taking him to practices. Prior to this year, it was almost always me who took him, but Alex really enjoyed hanging out with him the few times he took him so he volunteered to be Hockey Parent this year, which was great with me because I don’t like getting up at 6:30 am on Saturdays.

Alex was even going to take Jack on this hockey tournament trip but then *work something something work grumble work something* and I ended up going with Jack instead. At first I was a little annoyed because I LIKE TO STAY INSIDE MY HOUSE AND NOT GO OUTSIDE OR CHANGE MY SCHEDULE OR INTERACT WITH OTHER PEOPLE, but I am so happy and lucky that I got to go because it turns out that The Magic of Special Hockey is still real and happening and wonderful and also because I wouldn’t have been able to do as much day drinking had I stayed home and Alex had gone on the tournament.

These tournaments do involve, like, a billion-hour bus trip, which isn’t the greatest, although we do get to watch hockey mainstay movie Miracle on the bus DVD player every time. Jack played video games with his friend for about a half hour and then started feeling sick. After the Bus Barforama™ from the tournament two years ago, neither he nor I wanted to experience that again, so he sat next to me and stared straight ahead for the next six hours.

Two photos. 1. Jack playing a DS. His index finger is straight up in the air 2. Jack staring straight ahead.

Jack’s two positions on the bus. Also, having that finger straight up seems to be an important part of playing DS for the kid.

This, of course, left Jack totally free to tell me all about all the video games he played as well as to harass others, like when one of the hockey dads stopped to talk to me and Jack was all, “Are you flirting with her?” (he wasn’t) followed with an emphatic, “SHE’S MARRIED.” Classic Jack.

Incidentally and ironically, Quinn was hit in the head by a hockey puck at school that day.

We arrived in Jamestown, checked into our hotel, and Jack finally got to play all the DS that I’d promised he could play on the bus.

Jack on a hotel bed playing DS.

Me: Jack, do you want to swim/eat/shower/hang out with a friend?
Jack: NO.

There were three eating establishments within a sightline of the hotel: a Bob Evans, a McDonald’s, and a gas station. (Yes, gas stations count as eating establishments.) That night a big group of us went to Bob Evans and then the kiddos went swimming and then we went to bed.

The next day, Friday, Jack didn’t have a game until 2:45, so we went to McDonald’s for breakfast, then went back to the room where he did the same thing as in that photo up there and I read for a while and took a nap and then we ate lunch at McDonald’s and then finally got on the bus to go to the ice rink.

Photo of Jack in his game jersey and pads and me next to him.

Traditional pre-game selfie.

It is here that I need to tell you about Jack’s new philosophy about playing hockey. A few months ago, one of Jack’s teachers gave the class an assignment to do something outside of their comfort zone over the weekend. Because he had a hockey game that weekend, he decided that the thing he would do would be to actually put effort into playing the game. Things turned out well for him and instead of lying on the ice and taking leisurely laps around the rink, he worked hard, scored a goal, made an assist, and generally rocked the casbah.

After such a good experience, he evidently decided that this is now his new comfort zone behavior for hockey games. I hadn’t been at that first game where he put in effort so I was really excited to see him work it here. And work it he did. He did such a great job. I was super impressed.

We had a couple of hours before the next game, so some of the players hung out at a table in the rink restaurant and some of the parents sat at an adjacent table and commenced to drinking, what with our not having to drive anywhere AND it being St. Patrick’s Day and all. Thus we waited out the time until the next game at which Jack also expended good effort. He is the greatest.

Because I am not the greatest, I don’t remember at which game that first day that he scored his goal, but he did and it was AWESOME. He’s come a long way. And not just in goal scoring. He chases the puck, he passes the puck, he is generally just an effort-expending hockey player. He is all kinds of cool.

After the game, not wanting to return to McDonald’s for a third time in the same day, another mom and I wandered around unsuccessfully looking for a place to eat until we ran into a couple of dads who were headed to a pizza place. We became taggers on and were rewarded with delicious dinner, which we consumed just in time to make the bus back to the hotel.

It was a really happy day for both Jack and I and it made me feel a little sad for Alex that he wasn’t able to experience it. I’ve always been the one to take Jack on his hockey tournaments, so he’s always missed out. But at the same time as I was feeling a little sad for Alex, I was feeling very happy for myself and full of satisfied emotions because I was so lucky to be able to spend this time with Jack.

Saturday morning we had a game at 8 am, so we had to get up and moving early.

Jack holding a cup up to his face. There is a picture of a mustache on the cup.

This is Jack waiting for the bus to the rink. He mustache you a question.

Because Jack is awesome, he scored two goals and continued to be awesome at that morning game. I insert these next photos so you know that going to a hockey tournament actually includes ice skating and playing hockey.

Jack in the locker room in all his gear.

“Stay out of the comfort zone, Jack…stay out of the comfort zone.”

Jack skating mid-game

Jack being a hockey player.

Jack at the center of the rink at the face off.

Jack loves doing the face-off and generally is kind of pushy about taking his spot there.

I don’t have a lot of memory of what happened between games. That is the problem with writing a blog post two months after the event. Did we go back to the hotel? Maybe. Did I feed Jack lunch at the rink? WAIT A MINUTE! I remember! We went back to the hotel where I bought Jack doughnuts and I think I took him swimming but there was no one else down there so he was lonely and we went back to the room before we went back to Bob Evans for lunch and I ate lemon pie for dessert. I never forget lemon pie.

Jack had his last game that afternoon. After steadfastly refusing to be a captain all weekend (I think he thought it might involve extra work or motivational speaking or something), Jack finally agreed to step up and wear the “C” that made him Captain Jack for 45 minutes.

Jack in the locker room all geared up looking at his coach who is bending down to talk to him.

Here is the head coach giving Jack a pep talk about being captain.

There is something about sitting in the stands with other special hockey parents watching your athlete play and seeing the coaches grin and encourage all of the players. It is really hard to explain, but there is something amazing there. I felt it so strongly that weekend watching all those terrific kids and young adults play.

Plus everyone got a medal because they are awesome.

Jack wearing his medal.

Triumphant. And tired.

From there, it was back to the hotel for more swimming in a pool that soon roiled with children, followed by a pizza party. You can’t get better than that. Or can you? What if your mom is half drunk and decides you need a late-night snack walk to the gas station where she will buy you a king size Big Kat? That’s even better.

Selfie of us on our walk to the gas station.

Because candy and soda right before bed is kind of a thing that Team Stimey excels at.

One of the teams had a game Sunday morning so Jack got to watch funny videos of dogs and cats in the room and then with his teammates in the lobby of the hotel. Then he sat on a bus for six and a half hours staring straight ahead again.

And that was Jack’s triumphant return to tournament hockey. We really could not have had more fun. There was a really fun group of parents there for me and so many nice players for Jack to hang out with, including his best friend, which is always a bonus.

Thank you so much to the parents who organized this trip. We appreciate your work so much. You made the weekend both fun and magical for us—that’s not easy to pull off. And to the coaches, you skate every game for three Cheetah squads and you wear genuine smiles throughout every one. You are my heroes. Thank you.

If, after reading, you (yes, you) would like to support the team, please head over to https://www.crowdrise.com/annual-cheetah-thon where you can make a donation. Jack and the rest of the Cheetahs would be so grateful. This team has made such a difference in our lives and I know we’re not the only family who feels this way. This is a really unique and incredible team and we appreciate so much your emotional and financial support.