Indulge Me

I promise to not do this every day, but today is my birthday so you’re going to have to let me post photos of the art I forced my kids to draw today.

Today’s assignment was, “It’s my birthday. Draw a picture of me running.”

Jack drew the most realistic picture, depicting an actual event that occurred in our lives last weekend. I was out running and Alex took Sam and Jack biking and we crossed paths going opposite directions. It was lovely. I like that in Jack’s imagination, I was more spritely and less trudgey. But otherwise, totally realistic.

Drawing of me running one direction with my arms in the air and Jack on a bike running the other direction. There is a little turtle floating in the air that says "mine turtle."

Except for the, you know, mine turtle floating in front of him.

Sam also drew a picture based in reality. Mostly.

Me: “I’m pretty sweaty in this picture.”

Sam: “It’s because you’re in first place.”

Okay, so maybe not TOTALLY based in reality.

Picture of me running toward a finish line. There are blue sweat drops dripping from me.

Poor Sam has evidently brushed up against me after hot runs one too many times.

Quinn, on the other hand, took a different artistic path.

This picture is labeled "Accurate representation of what mom thinks on a run." There is a cactus, a sun, a cow, a giant weird looking cat, and a giant water bottle.

Although he’s not really all that far off.

And that is how you trick your kids into giving you sweet little birthday presents.

Team ‘Emo

I regularly give my kids drawing assignments during the summer. I’ll tell them to draw each other or I’ll tell them to draw their cats or I’ll tell them to draw something they see in the backyard. It is so fun to see what they come up with. Their brains are hilarious and creative and delightful.

I gave them their first art assignment of this summer today, inspired by something Quinn said yesterday.

First, this is Sam as he is today.

Photo of Sam. He's all emo looking.

Mr. Emo

Sam being emo is a big topic of conversation in my family. Jack and Quinn like to tease him about it in a goodnatured way and he takes it in kind. As you can see from the photo above, Sam has recently discovered Hot Topic and the band merch therein.

Yesterday in the car, we were all talking and Quinn said, “Finding Nemo, but take off the ‘N.'”

Which brings me to today’s art assignment: Finding ‘Emo.

A drawing of a clown fish with long hair over one eye and cat ears on its head. Above it is written "FINDING NEMO" with the N in Nemo crossed out.

By Jack

I couldn’t have hoped for better results. That fish is the spitting image of Sam with his emo hair and attitude and wearing his jeweled cat ear headband. (By the way—or BTW—the “BVB” in the photo below refers to Black Veil Brides, one of Sam’s favorite bands.

Photo of Jack's entire drawing, which includes the fish from the photo above along with an ocean background and words reading "SRSLY?" and "BTW BVB Rocks"

I believe this drawing to be all kinds of brilliant.

Quinn also did a good job of capturing Finding ‘Emo.

Photo of Quinn's drawing. There are emo fish and the word "DIIE" and the number "666" etc.

Quinn has a more aggressive view of emo culture it seems.

Quinn’s overall picture is very nice, but there are some exquisite details.

A black and white clown fish with emo hair and a scar on its face.

See the emo hair and the badass scar? Hopefully Sam won’t get a face scar like that. He’s too preeeeeettty.

A square with a shark in it with the emo hair and scar and the letters "BVB"

I think this is a band poster. Seems that ‘Emo is emulating his BVB hero.

A cat head in the seascape.

I am, however, a little worried about this cat that has to live underwater. I think it might be my cat, Sharky, who maybe can breathe under there because he has an aquatic name?

But what of the man himself? What of Sam? Well. He was all kinds of indignant about the assignment at first, but he totally hopped on board in a fantastic way. In fact, he completed TWO versions of Finding ‘Emo.

Version one is an adorable fishy version of Sam himself wearing his headphones.

A drawing of a clown fish with long red hair, a grim expression, and headphones. He is saying, "I need to go to Hot Topic."

Why are emos always so grim?

I hope that underwater Hot Topic he needs to get to has a little waterproof bag for his iPod.

Last, I have for you Sam’s “artistic rendition” of Finding Emo.

A printed-out picture of Nemo with a printed out picture of Sam's face pasted on top of it.

For being so sassy and grim, he actually has a pretty good sense of humor. Just don’t tell the other emos.

Thus ends today’s gallery showing. Hopefully our featured artists and their clever minds will gift us with some more good stuff soon.

 

Cake: Point and Counterpoint

Two of my kids have May birthdays, which is great because we get to eat a lot of cake. Jack comes first and he’s easy. This year he said, “I want a chocolate cake with white frosting.” Perfect. I went to the party store, bought some Mario decorations, went to the grocery store to place an order, and we had a cake!

Photo of Jack taking decorations off of a colorful birthday cake.

The grocery store makes delicious cakes with lots of frosting. Jack was delighted.

Quinn though. Quinn was all, “Will you make me a cake?” and how could I say no? (Side note: By “making a cake,” I mean, “purchase boxes of cake mix and cans of frosting and assemble them according to instructions.”) So I said yes and then one night he came downstairs after we’d put him to bed and he gave me these elaborate blueprints for the cake he wanted.

Pencil drawing of a cake with detailed instructions, listed below.

There is so much amazeballs in this diagram. I can’t even.

Let’s get to work dissecting this.

Point: He has VERY specific measurement requirements. Unfortunately, I don’t have a round 12-inch cake pan. I’m not sure anyone does.

Counterpoint: I can make either two normal size round layers that might not be big enough to decorate properly or I can make two rectangular layers that will basically be two cakes, one stacked on top of the other.

Conclusion: Two cakes it is! Quinn quickly agreed.

****

Point: Quinn doesn’t know that the cake part of cake is called cake.

Counterpoint: Aw.

Conclusion: He is adorable.

****

Point: Quinn wants white not brown “bread.”

Counterpoint: I want both, especially if there are two cakes.

Conclusion: Quinn agrees rapidly to brown AND white bread, although I actually bought yellow cake instead of white cake because it tastes better and it was unlikely that Quinn would catch me in that little white (or yellow) lie.

Photo of two uncooked cakes, one yellow, one chocolate, with frosting supplies behind them.

I also bought extra supplies because I thought it was likely that I would fuck up at least one of Quinn’s details. I did not.

****

Point: The layers should be stacked on top of each other.

Counterpoint: What? Was I going to lay them out horizontally?

Conclusion: Agreement on vertical stacking.

****

Point: The white frosting from between the layers should jut out “from that crack in between.”

Counterpoint: That seems difficult.

Conclusion: I will put white frosting between the layers and then I will frost the entire cake in chocolate then I will improvise a piping bag with a Ziploc and draw a white line around the cake where that crack would be.

Photo of a chocolate-frosted cake with my hand beginning to pipe a white line around the middle.

Okay, so it’s a little haphazard—but it was still delicious.

****

Point: The cake should say “Happy 11th Quinn!!”

Counterpoint: That is waaaaaaaaay too hard to do with my fine motor skills and a Ziploc bag, so instead I will draw a shaky “Q” and two straight lines that can be interpreted as an “11.”

Writing on the cake as described above.

I am almost stupid good at decorating cakes, aren’t I?

Conclusion: I don’t tell Quinn about this part before he sees the cake so there is no opportunity for prior restraint.

****

Point: There is some sort of question about…an arrow? Or…something else?

Detail from Quinn's plans that shows an arrow with a question mark next to it.

?????

Counterpoint: I don’t want to ask because I am concerned that the answer will just mean more work for me.

Conclusion: Let’s just ignore that.

****

Point: Quinn wants a plastic cow on top.

Counterpoint: Let’s see how many different kinds of plastic cows that Target sells.

Conclusion: Imma put SIX plastic cows on top.

Photo of six different plastic cows.

Target sold a surprising number of plastic cows.

****

Point:

Pencil drawing of a cake with detailed instructions, listed below.

The plans

Counterpoint:

Photo of a cake with chocolate frosting. There is white frosting around the middle of the sides and a white frosting Q 11 on top. There is green frosting with sugar flowers on top. There are four plastic cows on top and three standing next to it.

Boo. Ya.

Conclusion:

Photo of Quinn with a huge grin on his face. He's also wearing a green hat.

This is him seeing the cake for the first time. He’s also wearing the green fedora he asked for for his birthday.

Quinn says the cake was the best cake he’d ever tasted. The only mistake I made was doing a good job and now he keeps telling me that he wants me to make a cake for him every year. Rookie mistake.

Team Stimey Classic

Well, friends, the sickness I skated around the edge of for the past two weeks finally got me. I have a cold. It’s kind of a perfect time for me to be sick, so, yay, I guess, but I’m going to bed early, so my Pittsburgh race report is going to have to wait. In lieu of that however, I will tell you about the Cheetah-thon.

Remember a few years ago when every time Team Stimey left the house, we had some sort of disaster? Well, this year’s Cheetah-thon was kind of a throwback to the good ol’ days.

First of all, I would like to state that the event was fantastic. The organizers did an amazing job. It was really nice to see everyone. The Cheetahs raised a lot of money. (And thank you so much to my mom for her donation. You are awesome.)

All that said, the Cheetah-thon did not go as planned for Team Stimey. To begin with, Quinn was adamantly against attending, so that was fun. (<—sarcasm) Then, disastrously, when we got there, I got Jack rental figure skates instead of rental hockey skates.

To make a long, really sad story short, the toe picks took Jack out. Twice.

The first fall took out his major joints and after he pulled it together and went back out, his second fall left him with a tiny but painful cut on the middle finger of his right hand. (Jack: “How am I going to show disrespect now?”)

That’s when it occurred to me that he was wearing the wrong type of skates. Sadly, he was Done with a capital “d.”

We did get to catch up with some of his coaches and friends though, so it wasn’t all bad.

Selfie of Jack and I smiling. Sam is hiding behind a pretzel behind us.

Joy between falls.

Quinn, on the other hand, was having the time of his life.

See, while I was trying to stem the flow of tears, Alex and Quinn had been winning everything the Cheetah-thon raffle had to offer. Suffice it to say, Quinn will never argue against attending a Cheetah-thon ever again.

Photo of Quinn holding a huge basket of Girl Scout cookies.

Things turned around for him once he won the GIANT BASKET OF COOKIES.

Even though this much-looked-forward-to event didn’t go quite as hoped, we did walk out of there with a basket of wine that we won in the raffle, so, you know, silver linings.

Much as with our past outings that didn’t go as planned though, Team Stimey doesn’t give up. We’ll be back to the Cheetah-thon next year and maybe we’ll even hit an open skate (in HOCKEY skates this time) before then.

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.