Cheetah-thons Aren’t Just For Cheetahs!

The Montgomery Cheetahs logo

Remember the Cheetahs? Remember how Jack played on the team for years? Remember the magic of special hockey? Remember how your baby is my baby?

Jack didn’t play for the Cheetahs this year, but we still have a deep love for them and want to support them. Their big annual fundraising event is this Saturday and I would like you to take part.

First, I would like to invite you to skate with the Cheetahs at their Cheetah-thon this Saturday from 6:15 to 8:15 pm at the Rockville Ice Arena. Team Stimey will be there and we’d love to see you. Even those who don’t have a connection to the Cheetahs are welcome. Your family can skate for free—don’t forget to bring a helmet! (Bike helmets are good if you don’t have a hockey helmet.)

There are raffles with great prizes and you are encouraged but not required to donate when you are there. It is all around a really fun event. I hope if you can come that you will. It’s all kinds of fun.

But! If you can’t come to the actual Cheetah-thon, you can donate online like I did. I know the people who run this organization and they are really good people working hard solely for the benefit of the athletes on the team.

I hope to see you at the Cheetah-thon!

*****

p.s. My half marathon was GREAT! Trust me, you’ll hear lots more about it later this week.

Kids’ Choice Day

This week is spring break for my kids, which leaves me in the position of finding things for them to do that don’t primarily involve sitting in front of some sort of electronic screen or beating the shit out of each other in the backyard under the guise of “outdoor play.”

On Monday when we were out and about, each of my kids mentioned something that they wanted to do and, happily, each thing was both reasonable and close to the other things. It was a Spring Break Miracle! So Tuesday became Stimeyland’s Spring Break Kids’ Choice Day.

It was DELIGHTFUL.

Jack was up first.

Jack’s choice: The park!

Jack had a specific park he wanted to go to—one that has been the scene of trauma for Team Stimey in the past, but was all kinds of fun this week.

Close-up photo of Jack on a climbing structure.

Jack. At the park.

All three kids had a fun time and there was only one major skirmish that took place after I encouraged Jack and Quinn to try to get Sam off of a climbing structure by poking him in the butt with a stick. I gave them the stick. In retrospect, it was a poor idea and an example of terrible parenting. Don’t try this at home, folks.

Photo of all three of my kids on a climbing structure. Sam is sitting on top of a web-like rope net.

Just before the skirmish.

My mom is in town for the week and she learned that she gets seasick on swings.

Photo of Quinn and my mom each on a swing on a swingset. Sam is standing nearby.

That’s her on the left, being seasick. Quinn there on the right continues to not be affected by dizziness.

At one point, I looked up and found Jack ringleading a group of small children in a variety of playground games. “Jack found friends,” I said to Quinn. “Jack always finds friends,” Quinn responded before heading off to spin in circles on some equipment. Sam waited out Jack’s playtime doing what he always does—listening to music and reading on his phone.

Sam sitting in a playground school bus looking at his phone.

Good job getting him away from a screen, Stimey.

Eventually we had to leave though, so Jack politely shook hands with all the younger kids, said, “nice to meet you,” and we departed. From there, we moved on to…

Quinn’s choice: Color Me Mine!

Quinn wanted to paint pottery, so I did something I swore I would never do—take all three of my children into a place where they had the opportunity to knock lots of breakable things off of shelves.

Quinn spongeing off a white cat sculpture.

We’d had vague plans to go there to paint pottery for a long time, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Quinn was so pleased to finally have pottery in his creative little hands.

Jack and Quinn instantly headed over to the cat section, where they both picked out their own cat to paint. Quinn got distracted pretty quickly and switched to a different item to paint, but Jack stuck to his cats, so to speak, and went to work on this adorable little guy:

Jack painting a cat figuring with yellow paint.

This cat’s name is either Flippy Paws or Snickerdoodle, I forget which. Don’t tell Jack that.

Sam chose to paint a castle and even took off his headphones for the whole time.

Photo of Sam sitting next to a small castle.

It’s a bank so he can save his pennies to buy Kindle books and music downloads.

My mom had a whole plan for what she was going to paint. It involved stencils and an octopus stamp and sounded like it was going to be GREAT.

It didn’t work out for her.

Photo of my mom holding up her painted pottery, but she's showing the camera the back of it, which is just painted gray.

Here she declines to share it with the world.

Quinn had moved on from his cat statue to a giant bowl. He got the idea from a display item and decided to paint it like a watermelon so he could eat watermelon out of it. It took a looooong time for him to paint three layers of paint on the inside and outside, but I think it was well worth it.

Quinn standing in front of a bowl painted like a watermelon.

I look forward to hand washing this bowl every day until the day he leaves for college.

After we were all done painting, we headed next door to…

Sam’s choice: Ice cream!

Because it was Sam’s choice, I had no option but to feed them massive amounts of ice cream before lunch. And, trust me, they ate massive amounts of ice cream. And brownies. And candy. And ice cream mixed with brownies and candy.

Photo featuring all three of my kids and my mom. The kiddos are eating ice cream.

There was even sharing. We came a long way from the butt poking stick incident from the morning.

I am the greatest mom in the history of moms.

And then we went to Einstein Bros. Bagels for lunch where I got a spinach chicken artichoke bagel sandwich because that was MY choice.

Captain Stimey: Lord of Boring

Hi, friends! I’ve been doing a terrible job of writing twice a week, but I have a perfectly cromulent reason and that is because I have not a lot going on.

Pretty much all I do these days other than parent and go to work is run. Based on the way Alex’s eyes glaze over when I detail my runs to him, mile by mile, I’m starting to think that juuuust maaaaybe the minutiae of my runs is less interesting to non-Stimey individuals. I’m really just looking out for you by not writing about it.

Buuut…I’m a runner and evidently it’s a rule of running that you have to write about your training or it didn’t happen. This was a tough week for it though. On Sunday, I ate a lot of cheese and then went running, which isn’t the greatest combination. The next day, Quinn informed me that I had been “crabby” after my run and that I had been suffering from “cheese fatigue,” and now that’s a Thing at my house. Also, I learned not to eat a lot of habanero colby cheese before lacing up.

I also took two runs in the rain, which was actually kind of refreshing. I took one of those rain runs around Jack’s school before I picked him up from an after-school activity. On the way home we saw this other guy out running. I was all, “Huh, Jack, I thought I was hardcore for running in the heavy rain until I saw that guy pushing a double stroller, running uphill.” Jack stopped, looked at the guy, checked my jacket and long pants, and agreed, “Yeah, and he’s only wearing shorts and a t-shirt.”

Nothing like kids to keep you humble.

Photo of me after a run. I'm wet and wearing a green visor from which you can see water dripping.

I took this picture on my less rainy run to show my mom how awesome I was for going running in the rain. I’m not sure she was totally as impressed as I’d hoped.

Then today I ran 9.17 miles and, yes, I’m going to be that precise because those last couple miles I fought for every one of those hundredths of a mile. Also, I live at the top of a hill, so every single run I take that ends at my house finishes with a half mile up a fucking hill. It sucks. But it’s making me tough, I guess.

^ And that was me NOT talking about running. Consider yourselves lucky.

Hmmm. What else? Oh! Oh! A while back I started reading the Game of Thrones series and I am happy to report that I finished the first book today. Do you know how long it takes to read an 807-page book in 25-minute increments on the Metro to and from work?

*searches Facebook to see how long ago she posted about starting to read the series*

Oh, God. It took four months. Well now I’m embarrassed.

Screenshot of my November 7 Facebook status. It is a photo of "A Game of Thrones." The text is "I've made the decision to start reading the Game of Thrones series. It feels like a big commitment--like, I chose to get married, I chose to have kids, I chose to commit myself to 5,000 pages of reading material. ‪#‎stillhaventwatchedthetvshow‬ ‪#‎iamonpage13‬ ‪#‎seeyouinsixmonths‬"

Guess I was overly optimistic.

I’m loving it though. I just need to figure out how to sit down with a book on my lap without falling asleep. It doesn’t matter what book it is, if I sit down and stare at a page, I fall asleep.

Oh! So, I know this is about a decade later than everyone else in America, but my family has started shopping at Whole Foods. See, I made the mistake of watching a documentary about the food production industry and I started feeling really bad about the farmers and the animals. It was like a repeat of when I read Fast Food Nation a decade ago, but now we can afford to buy meat from farmer’s markets and Whole Foods, so that’s what we started doing.

I mention this not to be all, “I AM A GOOD PERSON,” but instead to be like, “ALEX AND I ARE NOT GOOD AT CHANGE.”

On our first dual trip there, we seriously had a whisper-shouted fight between the dairy and meat sections because we were so overwhelmed by the unfamiliar foods and the packaging with its muted colors and the damn omelet bar in the deli section. If you were at the Rockville Whole Foods on Valentine’s Day, we were the couple that nearly had a fist fight and abandoned a cart next to the chicken refrigerator.

Well. This has turned into kind of an embarrassing post. And that’s without even mentioning my trip this morning to get my driver’s license renewed only to find out that said license is good until 2021 and it’s actually Alex that needs to renew his.

I think I’ll stop here before I embarrass myself more or bore you more. Captain Stimey, signing off.

Bambi Meets Snowzilla

(In case you’re wondering, the “Bambi” referred to in the title is ALL OF THE DC AREA.)

It snowed this weekend. I don’t know if you heard.

EVERYTHING shut down. It was amazing. The farthest I ventured from my house so far this weekend is four houses down to rescue my children on their return from sledding and I fell down twice and had to go inside and sit down after I was done. It is a SCENE out there.

It’s difficult to really show the magnitude of this snowfall because all the photos I took just look like us standing pathetically in a lumpy white landscape.

Photo of me in winter gear standing in front of a pile of snow that is taller than my shoulders.

I made a hill.

Photo of Alex standing in a partially shovelled driveway, with heaps of snow piled along the side.

Alex made a whole series of hills.

And then it snowed for ten more hours.

Happily, we didn’t lose power all weekend, which, frankly, was just about the only thing I really cared about. The thought of hanging out through days of no heat sounded horrifying. I’m also grateful that no trees fell on my house.

Photo of my backyard covered in snow. On the far left, you can see the treehouse, still triumphantly up in the tree.

And the treehouse is still standing!

At one point on Saturday, Alex and I were busy shoveling and we sent the munchkins down the street and around the corner to the sledding hill. They didn’t last long.

Quinn reappeared first as a black dot way down the street. He got bigger and louder as he approached, but happily, he wasn’t crying. He actually seemed to be in pretty good cheer, which was a nice surprise. “One of my legs isn’t working!” he shouted. Then he fell down. “There goes the other one!”

Photo of a field of white snow, with a small black dot of Quinn approaching. He's falling over.

(Click to embiggen.) This photo perfectly exemplifies the verb “to trudge.”

Most people hadn’t shoveled their sidewalks yet, so the going was pretty tough. We cleared ours early. It was fun to watch kids walking to and from the sledding hill discover the sidewalk path. We were definitely the best house to walk past.

Sam and Jack had a tougher time making it home. Quinn had left Sam in charge of bringing home all three sleds and an extremely bummed out Jack. I noticed them slogging along together waaaay down the street. They were kind of blurry blobs. Then the bigger blurry blob picked up the smaller one and started to carry him. That’s when I knew there was trouble.

Photo of Sam carrying Jack, cradled in his arms. It's really hard to see though.

It’s hard to see that Sam has Jack cradled like a baby here. It was impressive, if short-lived.

By the time I reached them, Jack had lost a shoe and was lying in the snow crying because he couldn’t feel his foot. All said, it was a reasonable reaction. Also, the fact that Sam didn’t just leave Jack to fend for himself speaks very highly of him.

They didn’t leave the house again for a very long time.

Thank God there was sun today (coincidentally, Sunday). Also confused cats.

Photo of Sharky looking at the back sliding door, where snow is piled up against it.

Sharky: “Something is different, but I just can’t quite put my paw on it.”

When I looked out the window and saw that the street had finally been plowed, I was delighted.

Photo taken from second floor of my house of the very snowy street in front of my house. The road is plowed.

Do you see that beautiful flat road? That means access to the outside world.

Or so I thought. See that area at the end of the driveway between the two piles of snow? That’s, like, three-foot deep snow that had to be cleared. And sadly, it turns out that Alex and I are the adults in the situation and there was no one but us who was going to shovel it.

The munchkins fought their way out of the driveway and then took a much easier walk down the plowed road to the sledding hill while Alex and I chipped away at the snow.

Photo of Alex standing in the driveway next to almost waist high snow. The driveway is partially shoveled.

I was the first to battle my way out.

Sadly, however, one path that required a long step over a pile of ice chunks wasn’t going to release the car. So Alex and I kept at it, shovelful by shovelful, each of which had to be hurled over our quickly growing piles.

Me standing in front of a pile of snow that is taller than me.

We made our pile bigger.

Our children eventually came back from sledding. Sam disappeared inside and Quinn made some microwave popcorn only to reappear twenty minutes later with the demand, “Mom! Make me an igloo!”

It must be nice to be ten and oblivious.

(I didn’t make him an igloo.)

Jack stuck around and helped us by chiseling away at the icy crust on the pile and throwing snowballs at me from his perch on top of our new hills.

Photo of Jack leaning over the top of a snowbank.

He’s lucky he’s cute.

It only took Alex and I a couple of hours to clear the driveway, remove the car’s snow hat, and make sure the car could back up out of its snow nest. Earlier in the day, I had wondered if I could put on my Yaktrax and go for a run in the streets. Now I just want to sit on the couch for the rest of my life and enjoy the thought that if I wanted to, I could go somewhere.

Screenshot of a facebook post of mine, which is a photo of Alex with arms up in celebration after I made it to the street. The caption reads "WE'RE FREE!!! WE MADE A HOLE TO THE STREET!!"

For the record, I don’t want to.

Something TERRIBLE Has Happened

Alex let me sleep in on Sunday morning. He had plans to take Jack and Quinn to get hair trims. Their hair was getting a little shaggy, so we thought it would be a good idea to neaten things up by having the barber cut a couple inches off the ends for each of them.

Jack was down with the plan. Quinn, who hates haircuts and also hates the aftermath of haircuts when everyone notices and talks about his haircut, had grudgingly agreed.

That was the plan when I went to bed Saturday night.

I woke up on Sunday morning to Alex shaking me and frantically waving his hands around and asking me if I’d gotten the texts he’d sent. “Something went seriously wrong,” he was saying. “It’s not okay. Things went badly.”

I swear to God, I thought someone had died.

Alex was finally able to communicate that the disaster was haircut related and I picked up my phone and read my texts.

Screen capture of a text exchange between Alex and I: Me: "Did you get brownie mix? If not, I'll stop at the grocery store. (Read Yesterday); Alex: No (Today 9:47am) Alex: Quinn's haircut has gone a little sideways. It is important for you to not mention it when we get home. Alex: Spiro cut off too much hair. Even I'm annoyed.

I know. And he didn’t get the fucking brownie mix either.

Sideways?! SIDEWAYS?! ALEX, YOU HAD ONE JOB.

You guys. Jack and Quinn both have short, boy haircuts now.

Clearly, I am devastated.

They both still look cute, but…omg their beautiful hair. Jack likes his haircut because it is easier to comb, but I miss his gorgeous long, thick hair. Still, I suppose it is HIS hair and he gets control over it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pout about it.

Quinn, on the other hand…well, Quinn was a serious problem. He didn’t even let me see his hair until five or six that night. He wore his coat over his head for a couple of hours and then switched to a hat once I found one for him. I had a feeling that his first day back at school would be less than ideal.

I wrote an email to his teachers, excerpted here:

Something terrible has happened. I let my husband take Quinn for a haircut this weekend, where he was supposed to get a neat little trim that no one at school would notice.

BOOM! BLAM! KAPOW!

Things went poorly. Evidently the husband read a magazine like it was his first day parenting Quinn and the barber went unsupervised and things spiraled out of control and now Quinn has short hair.

So. The reason I tell you is not just because my baby’s beautiful golden hair is gone. But because he is going to be very sensitive about it on Tuesday.

It turns out that Quinn did very well today. His wonderful teachers let him wear a hat all day and Quinn says his hair is growing back already, so it looks like things are going to work out okay. Also, we shouldn’t be too hard on Alex. He did tell and show the barber what Quinn wanted done. We can’t blame a rogue barber’s actions on Alex.

(Sam: “I’m so glad I didn’t go.”)

Poor kiddo though. Our two outcomes are (1) I am now in charge of boy haircuts and (2) Quinn never goes back to Spiro the barber again.

And now we begin the long process of sitting back and watching hair grow. I just thought I should let you know so you wouldn’t be surprised in case Quinn ever lets me take and post another photo of him. Chances of that are about 50/50.

Christmas Prep, 14 Years Later

Fourteen years ago, Sam was two months old and Alex and I were looking to do Santa right. We spent significant brain power making sure that he had the best first visit with Santa possible. We checked with all the parents we knew to find out which Santa was The Best Santa and we ended up driving, like, an hour away to a mall where we had heard that The Best Santa worked.

We dressed Sam in a powder blue one-piece sweater and coordinated our visit with his naptime to ensure the best possible photo.

I wish I had the photo handy. It was adorable.

Also, that visit was pretty much meaningless to Sam.

This past weekend, we stopped our three visibly dirty children in the middle of a front-lawn wrestle match to stuff them in the car and take them to Santa, complete with dirt stains and twigs in their hair.

Things change.

Photo of my three kids sitting on Santa's lap. It's an okay photo.

It’s cute, but not powder blue sweater onesie cute.

It’s a trip to think of everything that has changed over the past fourteen years. One of those changes is definitely a willingness to let little things like perfection in Santa photos go.

In addition to our annual visit to Santa last weekend, we also made our annual visit to the local rescue squad that sells us our Christmas tree. Because we like to do things wrong, we arrived at the tree lot well before they opened for the day.

Fortunately, there was an EMT there who was more than happy to give us a tour of their trucks and explain all of the gear and medicines and also how drug dealers really don’t care about their customers.

It was totally awesome.

Photo of the interior of an ambulance. All three of my kids sit inside, focused on someone talking outside of the frame. Jack is buckled into one of the seats.

Jack explored every part of that ambulance that he was allowed to.

The kiddos also killed some time by hiding in the trees, which they tend to do every year.

Photo of Christmas tree greenery. Quinn's face is partially obscured behind a lot of it.

I swear that I take this same photo every year. I guess some things don’t change.

Naturally our tree was far too big for our limited corner space, but oh so very beautiful.

Photo of a decorated Christmas tree. Alex is holding Jack up in his arms so he can put the star on top of the tree.

My kids outdo themselves decorating it every year.

Things change, yes, but I think they’re getting ever better.

Jack’s Debut

Jack’s school play was this past weekend. After hours and hours and weeks of rehearsals, he performed Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening. He was triumphant and delightful and hilarious and wonderful and totally Jack.

It’s not easy to cram all of that into a small role that mostly involves standing in one spot and not speaking, but he totally did it.

However, the experience as a whole wasn’t perfect. In fact, I just wrote and deleted seven long paragraphs about the issues I have with the way everything went down for Jack. What it boils down to is that often inclusion isn’t what we want it to be, especially in after-school activities. But then I decided that I didn’t want this post to be about all of that. I want it to be about my awesome kid.

It would be easy to look at his struggles and feel as if he was less than successful, but instead I choose to look at how tremendously kickass my kid is.

Without even telling me, he created a monologue and auditioned for a play. He didn’t know anyone in the cast and he sat through hour after hour of rehearsal where he was required to mostly sit on a gym floor and watch other people rehearse. He was brave enough to get up on a stage to perform in front of a crowd. He was willing to do all of this for a very small role. He did all of this while autistic. Any way you look at it, Jack did a great job.

He is so brave. I don’t think he is even aware of how brave he is. I tried to let him know that by buying a “shout out” in the play program.

Photo of an advertisement in the play program that says, "Congratulations, Jack! You are braver than you know. Team [Stimey] loves you!"

I hope he really understands this as truth.

Every performance that I watched—and I watched all three of them—left me grinning from ear to ear. I love my kid so much. And I am so damn proud of him.

Whenever I asked him if he’d enjoyed being in the play, he said he did. Honestly, that’s all that matters to me.

Photo of four kids dressed as security guards with linked, raised arms taking their bow on stage.

You deserved your applause, Jack. Every bit of it.