Politicats

Today’s drawing assignment:

“Five cats are running for president of our house. Draw campaign posters for them.”

Jack’s poster:

Drawing of Sharky with red and blue writing that says, VOTE SHARKIE! followed by other printing that says, "You won't regret it! Not a lie, not a scam.

Seems legit.

Sam’s poster:

Picture of Ruby and some pyramids and lettering that says, "Ruby 2016 Vote Ruby for Dictator

This pretty much captures how Ruby would govern.

Quinn’s poster:

Drawing of a flag with a drawing of Oreo cat standing in front of it wearing a suit and featuring an orange combover. Text says, "vote Republicat Oreo Troomp. Make Ameowica great again."

Make Ameowica great again.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but Jack came up with it. He and Quinn made some campaign commercials as well. Those poor cats.

WaaahunghblechWORST :)

I have all the depression about my running injury. I had been working hard in physical therapy and was slowly bringing my running up to a level where I was starting to do the long runs necessary to run my 20-mile race next month.

Then WHAM! BIFF! KABLOOEY!

Suddenly I have this sharp pain like someone is jabbing me in the upper hip every time my heel strikes the ground when I run. Literally nothing else I do creates that delightful jabbing, stabbing sensation—just the one thing I want to do.

I am super agitated about the whole thing.

I am continuing with PT and seeing my orthopedist on Tuesday. I’m hoping he’ll give me a cortisone shot—and, yes, I know that pain signifies something wrong and blah, blah, blah, but I just want the stabbing jabbing to cease so I can fucking run again and I am hoping that the doctor agrees with me that a big ol’ shot to the hip is the way to go.

So. I’m writing this not to get sympathy and not to make excuses and most certainly not to get advice. I am writing it because every time I think about it (read: every time I take a step, ow, ow, ow) I get sad and even more depressed.

I decided that my kids should bear the responsibility for lifting me out of my doldrums, so when I left for work today, I gave them their drawing assignment: “Something happy. Draw good.”

I’m pleased to report that they did, in fact, draw good, and in case you are in your own personal small emotional divot, I would like to share them for you.

Jack went the obvious route and drew “The King of Happy.”

A drawing of a green hill with a blue sky and a sun. Behind the hill is an orange ball with spiky hair and a kinda manaical smile.

I really enjoy the inside of Jack’s brain.

Quinn drew—as he almost always does—his cat, Oreo, but this time he made Oreo play Pokemon Go.

Drawing of green grass and a blue sky with his cat Oreo drawn in pencil and holding a rectangle that says "Pokemon Go."

Cats and Pokemon make me happy too.

Sam went simple, but lovely.

Drawing of concentric hearts in rainbow colors.

I asked Sam what his picture was about and he said, “Love.”

Love makes me happy too, Sam.

So, yeah, I’m still bummed out, but I have a plan and, more importantly, I have three kids who help me keep my eye on the happy things.

Remedies

It’s been a little bit of a frustrating weekend. Our refrigerator is beeping for no discernible reason. I can’t get some of the photos from my phone to upload to my computer no matter what I do. My running injuries that have been getting so much better have resurfaced. No one in my family will watch the Olympics with me. I can’t get my two white cats to pose together nicely for a photo regardless of how many cans of cat food I hold above my head.

Really, I have no shortage of frustrations.

(Mostly it’s the running injury thing. I am more depressed about that than I can properly express, but I can’t go into that right now. I just can’t.)

Anywho, what with avalanche of tiny slights that has enveloped me this weekend, I made an effort to balance it out by having fun with these hooligans:

Photo of my three kids sitting on a pipe in a green setting.

I am always trying to get a perfect photo of all three of them. I don’t think this qualifies as perfect, but it’s happy and that might be better.

Team Stimey went blackberry picking today because I wanted to eat blackberry crisp. (Well, I wanted to run 14 miles and then eat blackberry crisp, but things don’t always go as we hope.)

Four photos: 1. Jack and Alex picking berries 2. Quinn holding out a handful of berries 3. Sam leaning on a fence 4. a bucket of blackberries.

The great thing is that just about half of my family won’t eat blackberries, so five people pick and two and a half people eat.*

* Quinn is the half person. He kept talking about how delicious the blackberries were and how he’d forgotten that he liked them, but I was so busy picking berries that I didn’t see what Alex did, which is that Quinn kept putting them in his mouth and spitting them out. I think he was confused by sweet and tart.

It turns out that the farm where we picked our berries also had a pick-your-own-potato section and, bizarrely, picking his own potatoes is something Quinn has really been wanting to do. What a happy cowinkydink!

We followed the signs from the blackberry fields to the potato fields until we knew we were in the right place because we came across this adorable little sign indicating that—

Photo of a sign. It is a painting of a potato with arms and a face. It is holding a potato peeler in one hand and peeling a chunk off of its forehead. It's grim.

WHAT THE CHRIST IS THAT POTATO DOING TO ITSELF?!

Leaving the grim cartoon sign behind us, Quinn and Alex headed out into the tuber fields to dig themselves some taters.

Four photos: 1. Alex holding a shovel and Quinn squatting down holding a potato 2. Alex and Quinn both squatting and inspecting potatoes 3. Quinn using a shovel to dig 4. Quinn holding a potato and the plant from whence it had come.

Shortly after I took that photo in the upper right, Quinn took a bite out of a raw, dirty potato. As with the blackberries, he spit it out.

I’m still frustrated about my refrigerator, etc., but outings with my family go a long way in making things better. Especially when they end with blackberry crisp and ice cream.

Photo of the blackberry crisp I made today and the ice cream I served it with.

I’m going to eat it for breakfast tomorrow too.

#TheStimeysGoToWisconsin

Team Stimey is on vacation right now. Today was our first full non-travel day and it has been lovely. The last week, however, was HECTIC. Sam had camp that required, like, two hours of driving each day, Alex and I both had to fit in work, we all had various appointments, we couldn’t depart for vacation until after Sam’s 6pm on Friday concert…it was a rough week.

All of that resulted in us cramming the entirety of our vacation prep into Thursday evening and then two hours on Friday afternoon. We had most of our stuff packed by 2:30 or so on Friday. I left to drop Ruby off at her vacation spa (still can’t leave her unattended with the kittens—Ruby wants to DESTROY the kittens), which was a full half-goddamn-hour away. Alex used the time to frantically bake cookies.

Because we’re Team Stimey and we needs us some cookies.

Quinn sharpened lots of pencils for his drawing, I stacked rows of cat food and bowls for our housesitter, and Jack ate some cookies. We all did our part. Then we hit the road.

Photo taken of the interior of our car and showing Jack, Quinn, me, and also Alex with a goofy smile on his face.

We were ready for vacation! (As soon as we drove an hour to Sam’s camp. And then spent an hour listening to his concert. And then attending the post-concert reception. And then dropping off his bassoon with a friend to keep it safe.)

Sam kinda won the vacation prep lottery in that he had a really good excuse to not participate in any of it. But he did have to learn to play several songs on his bassoon, so he’s excused.

Sam behind a music stand poised to play his bassoon.

He was really good. One of his pieces moved Alex so much that he cried tears. Real tears.

Then we started the long, hard slog that is driving from Maryland to Wisconsin, by way of a stopover in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Do you know how long it takes you to get from Maryland to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio when you leave at 8pm on a Friday night?

Photo of the interior of my car. All three of my kids are flopped over asleep.

This long.

Alex drove the whole way. I defensively fell asleep for about an hour, not necessarily because I was tired, but because I didn’t want to be awake in the world anymore.

We pulled into our hotel at 1:18 in the morning, which is when I took the above photo. Not ten minutes later, Jack was in the hotel lobby leading a conversation about the original NES versus modern video game systems with the two desk clerks and the cop who was stationed in the lobby for some troubling reason. I really do enjoy that kid.

We all fell into bed, which felt really good. When we work up the next morning, we realized that we had the most scenic hotel in the entire world, what with this view out our window:

Photo of a river and a small waterfall.

It was hard to take a decent photo through the glass. Sorry.

I wanted to go on a run and the kiddos wanted to go swimming, which worked out well. I asked the waiter at breakfast if there was a walking or running path along the river and he told me there was a boardwalk just out the front door and to the right.

I headed out, found the boardwalk, and ran 0.12 miles until it ended. I’m not entirely sure the waiter understood what I wanted out of said path.

I continued running along the river, first on a sidewalk, then through a parking lot, and suddenly into a tire yard with no exit. Troubling.

I turned back the way I’d come and ran back past the hotel. At just about two miles I ran out of sidewalk and was going to go back to the hotel when I saw a trail and decided to run down it. I am so glad I did.

That trail was so quiet and pretty. It ran along the river, but above it atop a steep embankment. There were rock walls and trees and small waterfalls. It was absolutely gorgeous. I wanted to run far longer than I had time for, so I really tried to take it all in during the short time I had.

Two photos: 1)  a selfie of me on the ttrail 2) the trail with a rock wall on one side.

It was so pretty.

And then I tripped on a rock and took three or four giant steps to save myself from falling and almost flew right off the trail and down the slope. Which is why I don’t trail run in my normal life. I am a danger to myself and those around me.

Eventually I turned around and during my run back to the hotel on a flat, well-maintained sidewalk, I took a huge fall smack onto the sidewalk and the dirt beside it.

I am so embarrassing.

The rest of the day is a haze of bathroom stops and gazing out the car window. At one point Alex was all, “I forget how far away Wisconsin is.”

Ya think?

We didn’t arrive until almost 9 at night and it is a huge credit to my kiddos that they were such troopers and did so well. We are staying at a relative’s house on the shore of Lake Michigan, which is so wonderful. We took a quick trip down to the beach and then tossed everyone into bed. Although because Jack and Quinn had to share a bed, measures had to be taken.

Photo of a bed. There is a folded up blanket dividing it in two.

We had to establish a border. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

It was all pretty worth it though. Today was kind of a perfect day. I intend to tell you more about it, but for now, I’ll give you my kids when they first hit the beach in their swimsuits this morning. There was all kinds of joy and that kind of happiness out of my kids will always be worth the hassle of a long road trip.

Photo of a sandy path down to a beach where you can see three small silouhettes against the expanse of Lake Michigan behind them.

Pure happiness, Wisconsin-style.

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.