Our Version vs. Their Version, Part Deux

Sam got his braces put on today, which really should have its own blog post, but he steadfastly refused to let me take a photo and also told me that he didn’t want me to post a photo of him with braces on my blog. I’m sure that you haven’t seen your last photo of Sam (although who really knows?), but I am respecting his wishes and just stopping by to tell you that (1) Sam now has braces and (2) OMG FLASHBACKS TO MY OWN TIME WITH BRACES NIGHTMARE COLD SWEATS ICK ICK ICK.

It seemed wrong, however, to just be all, “Something momentous happened but I’m not going to tell you about it or show you photos,” so I decided instead to post a second entry in a series that began way back in 2008 (shut up; it is too a series) called “Our Version vs. the Product Guide’s Version.”

Back then it was a ceramic pig.

This time it is a set of paint-your-own nesting dolls.

First, their version:

Awwww, cute.

Awwww, cute.

Next, our version:

Awww, something.

Awwww, something.

I have some comments in our defense.

1. They used stickers on theirs. We are FAR too lazy to wait for paint to dry and then complete a second step. Hence, no stickers on ours.

2. The paint was weird and blotchy and not conducive to, you know, painting something. Also, it’s really hard to paint the entire surface of something without leaving big fingerprints all over it.

3. Every single color on their version was a product of mixing paint colors to create a new color. See Item One about Team Stimey’s laziness.

4. That thing in the middle is a rabbit. I know. It’s scary as hell when you can’t see the ear lines.

5. “5 animal nesting dolls” seems incorrect when then the tiniest doll is a piece of cheese.

6. Dog by Jack and Jean; cat by Sam; rabbit, mouse, and cheese by Jean. Attention spans weren’t long that day.

7. We didn’t paint their middles together rendering them impossible to open, which I consider to be a stunning success.

8. I think our version rocks.

After the Storm There Are Pumpkins

Hey, friends. I hope those of you on the East Coast are safe and dry. We’re okay. our power stayed on (knockonwood! knockonwood! knockonwood!) and we seem to have gotten by with only a little bit of water in the basement. Because our power generally goes out quickly, we rarely get to watch storm coverage on TV. It looks like it was a scary night for so many of you. I hope you are all okay. My heart and best wishes go out to all of you.

Schools are canceled for us again today, so it is on to Day Two of entertain the children inside the increasingly messy house. Yesterday we carved pumpkins. Well, actually, I carved pumpkins while the munchkins told me where to cut and then grumped about when I didn’t execute their plans perfectly.

I don’t know. They just didn’t seem old or responsible enough to be in charge of their own knives.

I saw a lot of Facebook statuses and blog posts yesterday with photos of people’s really nicely executed pumpkin carving based on really creative ideas.

We decided to take a different approach.

It is a “hack until there is a hole in the pumpkin” approach.

Can you guess whose pumpkin was whose?*


I wrote about Quinn and his fear of Halloween over at White Knuckle Parenting this week. It looks like I’m going to take him out of school tomorrow afternoon because he is FREAKING OUT with worry about scary costumes at the school parade. This is turning out to be a long week without much school.


* Back left = Jack, middle = Quinn, back right = Sam

How to Make a Super Awesome Lego Brick Costume

Well, you can’t have the adorable child attempting to remove his legs so he looks even more like a Lego brick, but you can have the Lego brick costume.

1 adorable child
1 adorable child-sized box
6 cat food cans (it helps if you have a cat to eat the food)
1 can of glossy spray paint
1 glue gun
3-4 glue gun sticks
2-3 days

Now, naturally, your procurement of a child should probably take longer than 2-3 days. It is likely that you already have one of those. That’s good. You will also have to convince him or her that they want to be a Lego brick for Halloween. Find out what color and shape of brick your child wants to be. We went with a six-stud, rectangular black brick. My kid was very specific about this.

Step 1: Secure a box.

In many ways, this is the most difficult job of all. You can’t have a box that’s too big, or your kid won’t be able to get on the bus with his costume. You can’t have a box that’s too small, because “slutty Lego brick” isn’t a good look on anyone, even at Halloween. I lucked into my box by lurking in the produce department of my grocery store where a clerk was very slooooowly restocking bags of peanuts.

Briefly debate making your child go as Mr. Peanut instead.

Step 2: Remove the extraneous parts of the box.

This includes the flaps and the bottom. You will not need them. Promise. Then tape the box into box-shaped form.

Step 3: Cut a head hole. 

Check to make sure said head hole fits on your child.

Make some more inside-your-head jokes about Mr. Peanut.

Step 4: Cut arm holes—two of ’em.

I made them oval instead of circles, so as to be the least restrictive environment for Jack. (Just a little special ed joke for those of you who will get it.)

Yep. Those fit too.

Step 5: Prepare to paint the box.

5.a. Put the box in your grass and establish sentry duty.

This went on for a while.

5.b. Locate your can of glossy black spray paint and shake-a, shake-a, shake-a! I bought two cans, but only ended up using one.

Take note of your excellent sentry.

5.c. Send your sentry and his attendant interloper away from the paint fumes.

Who? Us?

5.d. Admonish your cameraman to stay far, far away from paint spray.

5.e. Break up sentry/interloper fist fight.

Step 6: Paint.

You will need two coats to cover the peanut.

It might be fun at this point to wonder exactly how bad for grass spray paint is. It might also be fun to make your kid stand in the paint square.

NOTE: You will need to spend YEARS training your kid to do
silly things like obediently stand in paint squares.

Make sure to let your spray painted box dry outside, because spray paint is really smelly. Wait a day, or several hours, before you put on the second coat.

Step 7: Start to worry about how to get the word “LEGO” on the cat food can brick studs.

Go to the craft store and start buy everything you think might help you do such a thing.

That thing in the back left is a green pumpkin, not a stenciling device.

All you really need, however, is a $3 glue gun. Don’t forget to buy extra glue gun sticks. I forgot and had to go back. Just be grateful that I’m not telling you to use those wood sticks and the x-acto knife to build the word “Lego.” I don’t know what I was thinking there.

Really, all you need is to use your glue gun to spell the word.

You might need to practice. See the difference?

Here’s what it looks like after you paint the cans.

Step 8: Stop worrying about it and go ahead and do it.

Move the cans before they dry and glue themselves onto your painting surface.
Lesson learned.

Step 9: Adhere the studs to the brick.

Pay close attention to this step, because you may have to re-perform it in haste after your child falls down wearing the Lego brick and the studs scatter in all directions.

Use your glue gun to put glue on the rim of the cat food can and stick it to the box.

Make sure all the words are facing the same direction. (That direction would be right side up.)

Step 10: Let the whole thing dry while you jump up and down excitedly.

Step 11: Admire your Lego brick.

It looks good like this…

…but it looks even better like this:


And that’s how you make a super awesome Lego brick costume.

Get Ready For Some Cute

But first, the not cute.

Jesus Christ, I think I liked photos of me taken with my old, less crystal clear camera more.

This is me, looking at the cute.

And this is the cute:

Last fall sometime (September? October?) there was a book fair at Jack’s school. The one thing he wanted to buy was a Build a Book Kit.

We thought it was a little weird because he doesn’t consistently like to draw, or at least he didn’t until recently. We offered all kinds of other options to see if he wanted something else, but he insisted he wanted the Build a Book Kit. And he insisted that the book be about a cat.

We bought it for him and then never found a time to work on it with him. I would remember about it at inopportune times and then forget about it when it was a good time to work on it. And if you’ve ever read Stimeyland, you might be aware that Jack is the kind of kid that (a) has to be in the mood to work on something, and (b) will never just pipe up and say, “Hey, I want to work on that Build a Book Kit you bought me four months ago.” Sam would. Jack would not.

So when I asked Jack if he wanted to work on it, and he said yes, I was really happy. Partly to work on an activity with Jack, but mostly just to get the goddamn thing done so it wasn’t hanging over my head anymore.

When Jack is interested in something, he will work on it diligently and steadfastly until it is done. He was interested in this.

See how diligent and steadfast?

He made up the whole story by himself. I helped him spell some of the words, but he came up with the story and the pictures and design all by himself. I’m pretty proud of him. And really: the cute, the cute, oh my God, the cute.

I now present My Cat, written by 100 and illustrated by 1 [with commentary by Stimey]

Don’t let the pseudonyms fool you;
“100” and “1” are both Jack.

On to Chapter 1.

“There is only one chapter,” said Jack. And it goes like this:

“Chapter 1
123 the cat was hiding
under my bed”

If you’ve not been to my house, you wouldn’t know this, but that is actually a pretty accurate rendition of Jack’s bunk bed and dresser. See the cat under the bed? Jack laughed when he drew that.

Next page:

“1 day my cat
gose [goes] out the door!”

Jack initially left off the ending punctuation. I asked him if he wanted to add a period. Apparently it is exclamation point worthy.

I think the next page might be my favorite because of the drawing. Again, Jack laughed when he drew it.

“he went
Back in”

Apparently not exclamation point worthy.

Then Jack finally made use of the piles of foam pieces and glue and googly eyes that were provided with the kit. He made this picture, then pointed at the dog and said, “It looks like her!” (Or maybe “him.” His pronouns aren’t the best.)

The circles with the googly eyes are “shooters.”
I don’t know, don’t ask me.
I just hope our real dog isn’t armed.

The last page is a little confusing. Jack did finish using the entire bag of googly eyes because, you know, googly eyes are cool. I think he might have said that he (the tall figure) and the dog (that’s his/her leg to the right there) were playing a target game.

Jack carefully drew a dog next to the hand and then scribbled it out before drawing the dog leg. He said, “The dog is disappearing then I had to buy him again.”

Every book needs an author photo, so…

And then, because he hadn’t melted my heart enough, and impressed me by working straight through for a good half hour or so, he wrote me a note.

“Dear Mom I ♥ you ♥ me

Remember a couple days ago when I said that you and your support solidify me? This turns me back into goo. But the good kind of goo.


The quote that made up the title for my last post came from the Simpsons episode when Lisa gets high from drinking Duff Gardens river water.

Team Stimey and the Day of Living Dangerously

Cookie Danger:

What would you do if you were decorating cookies and someone handed you a man-shaped cookie with only one arm?

I don’t know what you would do, but what you should do is make a surfer who had the misfortune of having had a shark take a chunk out of his side.

(Thanks for the excellent cookie-decorating party, A!)

Cookie Danger II:

There was a good chance that there wasn’t going to be enough cookie dough left over for the bus drivers to get their fresh-baked cookies.

Obscenity Danger:

I swear to God that it’s a roadrunner. At least that’s what Jack says.

Sibling Danger:

Jack drew this picture of a scared Sam. It reminds me of this threatening note that Sam wrote early this year. At least Jack looks sad that Sam is in peril.

His drawing skills are exploding.

Actual Danger:

Sam was standing on a chair near our dining room lighting fixture today when it crashed to the table.

It scared the ever-loving crap out of him. And me too. I think Sam might have touched it just before it fell, but even if he did, it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m just really glad he was standing next to it and not closer to under it. Because it’s heavy, and it would very likely have hurt him badly.

Now we just have to figure out how to put it back up. And how to make it safe this time. I’m just amazed the damn thing didn’t break.

Late-breaking Danger:

Santa just drove by our house, accompanied by many fire engines blaring their sirens at top volume. At 9 p.m. Handing out candy canes. In 20-degree weather.

Also known as Hypothermia Danger. (For Sam, who wanted to go get a candy cane dressed only in boxers.) Or Heart Attack Danger. (For me, who thought there was another house on fire on my street. Thanks for the call letting me know what was actually happening, L.)

Mostly though, this is My Kids Will Never Go To Sleep Again Danger. ‘Cause they won’t.

I Go, You Go, We Go…LEGO!

My kids are all about Legos these days. They, and especially Jack, carry little structures around the house and are always creating spaceships and cars and houses. I, on the other hand, am constantly vacuuming up little pieces of said structures.

Whenever he is near a Lego-type table, Jack wants to build and build and build for as long as I will let him. So I decided to get him a Lego table for Christmas. I figured this might also cut down on the Legos that are currently evenly distributed around the house by giving them a home base.

The only problem with this plan is that most of the Lego tables I have found cost about $100. Which seems like a lot for a table. So I decided to make one myself. My raw materials:

1. A $12.99 “Lack” table from IKEA. Awesome and cheap, but really, “Lack”? Doesn’t that make you think there’s something wrong with it? Something…oh, I don’t know…lacking?

2. Four 10″x10″ Lego base plates purchased from Toys R Us for $6.99 each.

3. A tube of Liquid Nails. I didn’t buy this—I sent Alex to the store for it—so I don’t know how much it cost. And since I don’t know, let’s call it free. What? It’s not like we won’t use the tube for other projects too.

I had some time midday today so I decided to put the table together. It didn’t seem so hard. It was just a tabletop, four legs, four screws, and this sticker on the bottom of the tabletop:

Looks easy, right?

If you’ve ever assembled anything from IKEA, you know it’s not quite so easy as it looks.

Look! Stripey fingers!

After figuring out that the sketch of a hand turning the screw really means, “Go find some pliers and painstakingly strip the screws as you wrench them into their too-small holes,” I was on my way.

Evidently my living room is darker than a cave. We have three lamps in there (but no overhead lighting) and all three of them were on. Maybe we’re nocturnal. That never occurred to me before.

Ta da!

After my success with putting the table together, my talkative saboteur assistant and I adjourned for some lunch.

Can’t beat peanut butter & honey plus
chocolate milk with Miralax mixed in. Yum!

On to the Liquid Nails and the toxification of my cave living room:

See the finished project down there? Doesn’t it look good? Doesn’t it look like it’s begging for someone to build a Lego house on it? Doesn’t it look like Jack’s little Lego men just mowed the lawn?

AND it doubles as a blanket!

I asked Quinn what he thought about it and he said, and I quote: “No good.” Then he said, “I’m going to tell Jack about it.”

Quinn and I had a little conversation about secrets and I pointed at some shiny things to try to distract him and make him forget that the table existed when it occurred to me that I should put something on the plates to weigh them down while the glue dried. I grabbed the four closest items I could find and took a photo of them “weighing” the table down before I realized that I am the dumbest person on the planet.

None of these things are that heavy. And if I can’t be bothered to walk four feet to get heavy items, should I really be allowed to care for children in the first place?

Discuss amongst yourselves while I get some honest to God heavy things.

Ah, much better.

Do you notice that the Oxford English Dictionary is all dusty and unused looking as if I’ve never had to look up the definition for the word “pusillanimous“, while the collection of short stories about zombies looks as if it’s been opened frequently and recently?

Yeah, that’s the kind of house I live in.

After I let it sit for a while, but before Jack came home, I took the books off and started to take the table up to my secret closet. Then I realized that I needed to try it out.

Guess what?

It works.

I’m not sure what I was expecting.

This is the only Lego guy we have who still has hands.
And a head.

Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited for Christmas!! I think Jack is going to looooooove this! And if he hates it, he’s disowned.

Anthology of Interest I

If you set aside an hour to tidy your house and play a game of Uno with your son, don’t forget that Uno can take forever to play. It might even take 45 minutes and you might not be able to tidy your house before your playdate shows up. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. What’s more, I lost the Uno game.

But how cool that I have a child (Sam) who will happily sit and play a game with me for 45 minutes?


If, as part of cooking camp, you are cooking purple playdough, and you misread the instructions on the back of the food coloring and drip red and yellow food coloring into your mix instead of red and blue, you can fix it. If you catch it before you stir it. Just scoop the yellow right out!

Ooooh, pretty purple playdough!


The ants have started giving me nightmares. Literally. I dreamed last night that their living conditions had gotten so bad that they were desperate to get out and were working together to cram themselves out of the tiny air holes. And in my dream, I had to release them in my backyard.

This nightmare was brought on by the discovery of mold in their habitat. And I’m too scared to open the habitat to remove the mold because I’m afraid they’re going to try to escape again. But the mold is getting darker and grosser. Now I feel like I’m running the Gitmo of ant farms.

All you naysayers that I pish-poshed when you said I was crazy for wanting an ant farm. You may&#8212may&#8212have been right.

Nightmares. Honest to God, nightmares.