Who Thought Trees Were Such a Good Idea Anyway?

Team Stimey spent a chunk of the weekend raking leaves. And by “Team Stimey,” I mean Alex, Sam, and I. The other two showed themselves to be far too unmotivated to participate so they escaped this particular fate.

My family operates on a “prove yourself to be incompetent and you no longer have to do the chore” system. It is inefficient.

Selfie of me, Alex and Sam in front of a pile of leaves. Sam is wearing his black fedora.

Team Stimey: Leaf Raking Edition

You may notice that Sam’s jazz band hat is also a leaf raking hat.

I bring up the leaf raking for a couple of reasons. First of all, there were some fun things that happened during said leaf raking and I thought I would share them with you. Also, we won our street’s leaf raking and I wanted to brag about it.

Photo of Sam and Alex dumping a tarp load of leaves onto a GIANT PILE.

Our neighbors didn’t know that they were involved in a Leaf Off, but we did and that is what matters.

I don’t know why we moved into a house with so many stupid trees in the yard, but we did, and now we are paying the price. So. Many. Leaves.

Photo of Alex and Sam dragging a tarp full of leaves past the back of our house where there is a tree, full of red leaves.

DROP YOUR STUPID LEAVES ALREADY, TREE!

I’m looking forward to all of the tracking in of leaves once that tree up there finally drops its leaves right next to our back door in, you know, December. Or January. ENOUGH ALREADY, TREE. WHY ARE YOU HOLDING ON SO HARD?

I tried to avoid leaf raking and hang inside with Quinn and Jack, but Alex used his patented mix of guilt, exasperation, and annoyance to get me outside with a rake in my hands. He then spent a lot of time telling me about how his way to rake and transport leaves was correct and mine was not and, “Let’s just do it right the first time and then we don’t have to re-rake up all the leaves.” It was très annoying—especially when he was right.

On the plus side, I got to see this awesome visitor to our yard:

Photo of a giant antlered stag in profile. He just started loping away from our yard.

I watched one of our cats see this guy the last time he was in our yard. Her little cat eyeballs almost popped out of her head.

I also got to do things like distract Sam and generally be a nuisance while Alex steadfastly did things.

Sam in his hat holding a rake and posing for my photo while Alex rakes in the background.

At least he could take comfort in the knowledge that he was doing it right.

At some point—because Alex had to be somewhere, not because we ran out of leaves, we’ll never run out of leaves—we made a decision to be done.

Then I shoved Alex in the pile of leaves.

You can see a pile of leaves with the bottom half of Alex's body sticking out. His head and shoulders are completely buried.

It was HILARIOUS.

Then Sam and Alex got this…look in their eyes and I started running and screaming because I know it is funny to throw people into a pile of leaves, but it is NOT funny to be thrown in a pile of leaves because DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY SPIDERS ARE PROBABLY IN THERE?! so I tried to sprint through the garage door into the house, but they caught me and they didn’t listen when I told them, “No. Really. I’m serious about this. I don’t want to be thrown into the pile of leaves. I really, really don’t,” but this came out sounding more like a high-pitched screech that turned out to be surprisingly ineffectual.

And then they threw me in a pile of leaves.

Me in a pile of leaves. I don't look happy.

I’m pretty sure the spiders laid their eggs in my hair.

Now we’re looking into a tree slaughter, under the assumption that if we cut down all of our trees, we won’t have to rake any leaves next year.*

* Kidding. But wouldn’t that have its charms?

Happy Halloween!

I wanted to write a Halloween post if only to show off our pumpkins. I should admit that I had nothing to do with said pumpkins. I was out of town when Alex and the munchkins created them. They are stellar.

Photo of three pumpkin creations. All are spray painted black. One is carved with the mouth on top and the eyes on bottom. One is actually two pumpkins put together and made into a cat. The last one is a pretty traditional, but adorable jack o'lanternI love them so much.

That is Quinn’s pumpkin in the front with the mouth on the top and the eyes on the bottom. I am sort of in love with it. Straight-laced Alex was all, “I really didn’t want to do it that way.” But he did. And that is the important thing.

The little pumpkin way in the back is Jack’s. Usually the kiddos draw on the pumpkins or describe what they want and then one of us carves it. When I saw this sort of hacked at face though, I was all, “Alex! You let Jack carve his own pumpkin! Awesome!” His reply? “I did not.”

Then there is the cat. OMG, the cat. It is so good. Although its tail isn’t quite as fluffy now that it’s rained a few times. Also, I think because it is painted black, the sun is super hot on it and it is starting to melt or morph or something.

Two black pumpkins stacked on top of each other. White pipe cleaners make ears and whiskers. There is a green cat face painted on it. There is a fluffy black tail wrapped around the base. There is also a weird flat textured patch on the front.Fortunately it is Halloween, so it doesn’t have to last for much longer.

I wanted to post a video I have of Quinn performing a Halloween poem that he had to memorize for school, but when I asked if I could post it, he said, “NO!” so I’m sorry, but you can’t see it.

He did such a good job though. He was supposed to perform it in class like all the other kids, but that is a perfect recipe for an in-class meltdown and when I came to his teacher looking for alternatives, she suggested he do it at home and I videotape it. It was a GREAT idea. He did fantastic. I loved everything about it.

I hope you all have safe and happy Halloweens in whatever way you celebrate. (One of my kids goes trick or treating with me and the other two stay home and eat give out candy. And Alex goes to a Phish show.)

Happy Halloween!

p.s. And happy birthday to my sister, whose birthday is ON Halloween! You’re really old this year, Ann. 😁

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.

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.

We Survived Hersheypark (Almost) Intact!

Remember how Team Stimey was headed to Hersheypark over the weekend? Well, we went and we survived and we only had one choking incident and one injury that resulted in facial scarring.

For Team Stimey, that’s almost like a perfect vacation.

I took a gajillion photos and have a ton of stories to tell you, but I am tiiiiiiired tonight, so I’ll put that off until tomorrow.

Tonight I’ll give you this photo of Mouse, who made me happy by actually using the exercise wheel in his cage, but who did it all kinds of wrong.

Even my gerbils march to the beat of their own drummers.

He did this for a really long time. It was hilarious.

Until tomorrow!

Three Weeks to Go

Is the end of the school year killing anyone else? I feel like I have two or three events to fit in every single day for the last three weeks of school. With three kids in three schools, that means that I don’t even get to kill three birds with one stone. I have three spring concerts. Three end of the year parties. Sixty-five field trips.

Seriously. These kids go on a LOT of field trips.

That doesn’t even include Geo Bowls, regular volunteer gigs, and 504 meetings.

This week alone, there was that great concert at Jack’s school, a field trip for Jack and a field trip for Quinn, and a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Sam’s fifth grade class.

I have to tell you, I think the play wins for best event of the week. It was phenomenal. Sam’s teacher created this fantastic 40-minute adaptation of The Tempest that the entire class took part in. It was absolutely amazing.

I took both Jack and Quinn out of school so they could go with me to watch, partly because I wouldn’t have gotten home in time to pick them up from school after the play and partly because they really wanted to go.

I wasn’t sure about their attention span and how well they would follow, you know, Shakespeare, but they both sat quietly on the floor and watched, rapt. Watching them in the audience was nearly as good for me as watching Sam in the play.

I don't have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I don’t have great photos of Sam in the play, but trust me, he was a star.

I was beyond impressed by this fifth grade class. Every one of them did so well. Afterward, I could barely restrain Jack until the audience (made up of the other classes in Sam’s school) left because he was all, “I want to go hug Sam!”

(I did too.)

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

Methinks Jack was a little starstruck.

It was all very cool. Also, I feel I should let you know that I didn’t even read Shakespeare until I was in 9th grade. Kids these days.

After yesterday’s theater experience, today I chaperoned the second grade field trip to the Natural History Museum. Parts of it were a lot of fun. Quinn made it about 3/4 of the way through before he melted down.

I think I took this photo on the cusp between "Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!" and "I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW."

I think I took this photo on the cusp between “Field trips are fun! I am having a great time!” and “I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW.”

Quinn pretty seriously lost his shit right in the middle of the dinosaur exhibit. Poor guy.

Before we embark on next week’s many elementary school adventures, we’re talking a little Memorial Day weekend vacation to Hershey Park. This will be my kids’ first time at an amusement park. I imagine that is will go spectacularly.

Spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, that remains to be seen.

Honestly, considering my family, we’ll probably have a little bit of both. And that’s perfectly all right by me.

The Day of 1000 Cakes

Guess who is 8 years old today. No really. Guess.

Did you guess this shifty looking dude?

Did you guess this shifty looking dude?

‘Cause you’d be right.

Quinn was a little bummed out that his birthday fell on a school day, so we worked really hard to make sure he felt it was special. We let him open a couple of gifts first thing in the morning (including that awesome Minecraft shirt in the photo above) and we gave him cake almost immediately upon waking.

I should explain the cake. We have these awesome neighbors. Every year for Christmas they bring us a coffee cake. Quinn LIVES for this coffee cake. Every single time my neighbor walks into our house, Quinn runs up and asks if she has coffee cake with her.

She almost never does.

But! A couple of days ago, she brought over a coffee cake so Quinn would wake up to it this morning. I hid it in the freezer and pulled it out last night and put it on the counter. You should have seen his face. He was DELIGHTED.

Cake count: 1

Then it was off to school where he was celebrated on the bus with the happy birthday song and his classroom, where he shared mini-cupcakes and was celebrated again.

Cake count: 2

I had a brand new bag of flavor blasted goldfish crackers (his favorite) for him when he got off the bus, but he skipped those and went straight for leftover cupcakes.

Cake count: 3-5

I collected all my kids and we did homework and then I let Quinn open one more gift. (I made him wait until Alex got home from work to open most of them. I am terribly cruel.) This one gift, however, held him over for a while because it was the greatest gift in the history of gifts.

SNOWCONE MAKER!

SNOWCONE MAKER!

That’s right. I bought a large device that only does one thing—a thing that the ice maker in the refrigerator door pretty much does already—and is basically a delivery device for sugary syrup. This is probably the biggest waste of money in the world. But you know what?

I think you'll agree that it was worth every penny.

It was worth every penny.

Happily, Alex arrived home shortly after I sugared them up and Quinn was able to (finally) open his gifts.

We now own all of the Minecraft things. All of them. No really.

We now own all of the Minecraft things. All of them. No really.

After that, we ate dinner and then…

Wait. What did we do after dinner? Oh, right.

Cake.

Even better, ice cream cake covered in tiny plastic cats.

Even better, ice cream cake covered in twelve tiny plastic cats.

Cake count: 6

IMG_6838

Don’t be alarmed, Sam. They’re just…sizing you up…you know…for later.

Happy birthday to my funny, quirky, smart, adorable, hilarious Q-ball. You’re the awesomest 8-year-old I know. (And that’s saying something, because I know some pretty cool 8-year-olds.)

IMG_6836

One of these cats was “scary” and didn’t make the final cut.

And with that, I bid adieu to birthday season until October. Thank God.