All the Fun Things, Wisconsin Version, Part I

Now that we’ve been home for a month, I think I’m just about ready to write about it. Finally. I am mostly doing this because the last time I told Alex I’d written a post he looked so hopeful and said, “About vacation?” so now I HAVE to write about it, but if you are interested in hearing aaaaaalllllllll about our vacation, please do follow along.

When last we left our intrepid vacationers, Team Stimey had arrived at the shore of the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. Alex has a wonderful and generous aunt and uncle who have a home on the beach there and they were lovely enough to let us stay there. And when I say right on the beach, I mean Right On The Beach.

Photo of a sandy path leading down to an expanse of water. You can see three tiny shapes in the water.

I was right next to the porch when I took this photo of my munchkins in their happy place—a freshwater beach.

Alex and I were pretty happy there too.

Photo of Alex and I sitting on the beach smiling.

We were slightly more afraid of the freezing cold water than our children were.

Both of us did work our way up to swimming with the kiddos. I have to say that they’re a little more aggressive with their splashing and shoving around of my inner tube (with me in it) while humming Ride of the Valkyries than I would care for.

Photo of my feet hanging over the edge of my inner tube. All that is visible in the photo other than my fee it water aand sky.

I still got my chill on though.

We didn’t just do that though. We did everything that was fun. Really. Everything. See below.

Inner Tubes!

I mentioned that my children used me as a battering ram while I was trying to float around in my inner tube, but they were used for lots of other things as well. In an example of perfect synchronicity, our hosts had exactly three inner tubes, giving us plenty of opportunity to do tricks…

Photo of Alex holding an inner tube with Jack jumping through it.

Just like a porpoise!

lounge…

Photo of Jack wrapped in a towel and sitting in an inner tube on the beach.

Cozy.

carry them around…

Photo of Jack walking down the beach carrying an inner tube.

It was really nice of our hosts to have only photogenic water toys.

and be a vehicle for the Elusive Meowmere.

Photo of Jack lying stomach-down in an inner tube.

Or at least that is what Jack called himself. I’m not entirely sure what a Meowmere is, but apparently it is rare.

Cats!

Because we didn’t want to travel in a minivan full of five cats, three of whom don’t get along in an incredibly violent way, we had to leave our cats at home (and one at a boarding facility—see above about violence). Fortunately, our first destination came with a cat, because you really don’t want to go cold turkey on something like that.

Photo of a gray cat sitting next to Quinn's stuffed cat. Sam's head is poking in from the side.

Said cat did NOT care for Quinn’s stuffed replica of Oreo. Said cat hissed loudly at Quinn’s stuffed replica of Oreo and then didn’t go near it again.

Strawberry picking!

We headed to a pick-your-own strawberry field shortly after arriving, mostly as a cautionary tale for all the families with younger kids that were there.

Photo of Sam standing in a strawberry field.

Sam picked one strawberry at a time and then tossed them carelessly toward our collection box.

To the other families, we were all, “Here’s a grim vision of your future,” as Sam loudly told us how if he’d planned our vacation, we would have toured a series of Hot Topic stores in the northern Midwest instead of doing something ridiculous like picking fruit that he doesn’t even want to eat in the hot sun gawd mom you’re the worst.

And then Jack, in a move that really pleased every one of the young children quietly picking strawberries as well as their parents, put a strawberry in Alex’s pants and then announced loudly, “Dad! I put a strawberry in your pants!”

Photo of Quinn, Sam, Jack, and Alex in the field. Jack and Alex are squatting next to each other, but Alex is facing away from Jack.

See Jack eyeing Alex’s butt there? He had an agenda.

And then Alex took the strawberry out of his pants and put it in our collection box.

A grim, grim vision.

Quinn, the only one of our children who actually eats strawberries, worked hard to collect fruit.

Photo of a strawberry field with Quinn crouched in it.

He clearly sensed an opportunity to be “the good one.”

Assault!

Regardless of opportunities to humiliate their parents in front of their peers, the munchkins enjoyed their time at the beach more than anything—and not just for the swimming opportunities. It also gave them the opportunity to beat the shit out of each other.

Well. It gave Sam the opportunity to beat the shit out of Quinn’s head.

Seven different photos of Sam beating Quinn with an inner tube.

I kept trying to defend Quinn, but Quinn kept laughing and saying it was okay, so I was reduced to trying to tell Sam to just not whack him TOO hard in the head.

Fire!

Team Stimey doesn’t do vacations without fires, so it was fortunate for our hosts that they had a firepit so we didn’t have to burn their home down to make our s’mores.

Because we love fires so much, we make sure to practice vigilant fire safety.

Photo of Quinn by a metal-ringed firepit. He is very close to said firepit and is poking at the fire with a stick.

Like we didn’t let Quinn actually climb INTO the firepit.

Our first fire of vacation resulted in like, a hundred and eighteen photographs, including maybe the most emo photo I have ever taken or will ever take of Sam.

Photo of Sam with his hair over his half of his face ans looking sideways at the camera in a fire-glowing light.

Emo Sam says, “I feeeeeeeeeel things.”

Sometimes when you’re on vacation, you get sooooo relaxed that it is hard to maintain verticality.

Photo of Jack lying on his side wrapped in a blanket in the sand and the glow of the fire.

Can’t…muster…will…to…do….anything…but…eat…s’mores…please…prepare…one…for…me…

Grandma!

One of the benefits of vacationing in Wisconsin is that the kiddos get to spend a few days with their grandma, whom they adore.

Quinn sitting by the fire with Alex's mom.

Super cozy!

Mockery!

My little punk asshole of a kid not only took my spot and refused to get up, but he also made fun of me as he did it. Jerk.

Photo of Quinn sitting in a chair under a blanket, holding a book, and drinking a soda.

He was all, “Can you bring me another Diet Coke?” Jackass.

And the rest of the jerks in my family laughed and laughed and laughed.

Independence Day!

I know it doesn’t seem like we should have been on vacation on July 4th what with me just writing my recap now, but it’s true. The great thing about being on a vacation in a small town on the 4th is that you get to experience a Small Town Fourth™. We headed down to downtown Sheboygan to eat dinner by the waterfront where there were to be fireworks later that evening. In a happy cowinkydink, there was also a little carnival right there as well.

Photo of Sam and I. His head is on my shoulder.

You can’t tell from this photo, but this is Sam and I on a Tilt-a-Whirl before it started. I used to LOVE the Tilt-a-Whirl. Now it turns out that Tilt-a-Whirls nauseate me. Ask me how I know.

The kiddos really enjoy the carnival games where the carnies basically steal your money in exchange for letting you throw a projectile of some sort at a target. Sam and Quinn worked together to earn enough tickets to buy a gift for me just in case I was missing my cat Sharky.

Photo of Quinn holding a stuffed shark.

Finn spent the rest of vacation as our car dashboard lookout

Quinn had gotten a giant glow stick on the last day of school from a teacher and he carefully saved it for July 4th. Through some miracle, we remembered to take it on vacation and to the fireworks. The thing had a $1 price tag on it. Jack and Quinn played with it joyously, running around a field for a really long time. I need to buy more of those.

Photo of Quinn and Jack against a dark sky. They each have a hand on a large green glowstick raised above their head.

In rod we trust!

Sam also really loved the lead-up to the fireworks, actively participating in family activities and enthusiastically joining us in conversation—oh, wait.

Photo of Sam sitting in a dark field looking at his phone. The glow is lighting up his face.

Evidently this is the teenager version of a glow stick.

Cattails! Cows! Dead birds in the road!

The day after the fourth, our little cottage was a swirling sea of conflicting access needs, wherein Jack and Quinn were coming close to blows and Alex, who was trying to take a conference call, had that air about him that led me to believe if I didn’t take action that he would get in the car and drive away, abandoning his family for good.

Not wanting this to happen, I grabbed Quinn and headed out on a walk to see a pasture of cows I’d noticed on a run the day before. En route to said cows, we experienced ALL of rural Wisconsin.

We had a slow race with a tractor.

Photo of Quinn walking on the side of a road holding a cattail. In the background you can see a tractor.

It never caught us. But we didn’t catch it either.

We discovered what is inside cattails.

Photo of Quinn holding a cattail that he has broken open.

Regular ol’ plant innards.

We found a dead pigeon.

Photo of Quinn standing on a road looking at a dead bird.

Yep. Dead.

And then…the coup de grace…the cows.

Two photos 1) Quinn smiling happily 2)Quinn looking at a few cows.

I wish anything made me as happy as looking at cows makes Quinn.

On the way back, all we did was hitchhike.

Photo of Quinn with his thumb out next to a maroon van.

Fortunately it was our car.

German food!

Okay, so eating the German food was not super fun. I don’t know that eating German food is something I would want to do regularly. But! The waitress was telling us about some of the appetizers and she mentioned a giant pretzel and held her hands about a foot apart and Alex was all, “I don’t think we need that,” and I said, “No, no, no, we will be purchasing the giant pretzel,” and so we did and if you ask Jack what his favorite part of vacation was, he will say, “The giant pretzel.”

Giant pretzels!

Photo of a big pretzel with bowls of sauce on it.

Okay, it looks kinda big…

Photo of the pretzel. This photo includes Quinn in the frame, which shows how big the pretzel really is.

…okay, once you add Quinn for scale, THAT’S A GIANT PRETZEL!

It was super goddamn delicious too.

Concert/Embarrassing your first born!

I may have mentioned once or twice that Sam is super into music. One of his favorite bands is All Time Low and they happened to be opening for Blink-182 in Milwaukee when we were in Wisconsin. Sam convinced us to let him go and he decided that I should be the parent who took him.

Big mistake. Huge.

What’s worse than your mom going to a concert with you?

Photo of Sam and I in front of the venue. I have a big smile on my face and am giving an obnoxious thumbs up. Sam looks like he'd like to die.

This mom going to a concert with you.

I managed to calm down a little bit after that and worked hard on not embarrassing him too much. We ended up having a lot of fun at the concert, but I think I might have successfully gotten myself out of being the concert-attending parent.

Booze!

We drank all kinds of fun drinks on vacation. I’ve just really started to enjoy beer flights, partly because if you don’t like a particular beer, you can make your husband drink it and move on to another one and partly because you get to feel like a giant while you drink it.

Three photos 1) a beer flight 2) a fancy bloody mary 3) my beer and legs on the beach

I always really want to like Bloody Marys and I always end up disappointed. This one here was without a doubt the most beautiful drink I’ve ever had though.

Regarding that giant thing:

Photo of Alex drinking a beer from a big ceramic mug.

Normal-sized beer, normal-sized Alex.

But then…

Photo of Alex drinking a tiny glass of beer from a beer flight. Quinn is giving him bunny ears.

Tiny-sized beer, giant-sized Alex.

Goofing off!

IMG_6395

What? Were we supposed to abandon the leftover whipped cream just because we ran out of strawberry shortcake?

Family time!

IMG_6391

I guarantee you, there ain’t no five of us sitting around playing Yahtzee in Maryland.

Did I mention the beach?

My kids love the beach. My kids LOVE the beach. They played on the sand and in the water for hours and hours and hours. They were so purely happy that it made me so very happy just to watch them be happy.

Photo of Quinn sitting in the water right at the edge of the beach.

Quinn loves the water more than anyone.

Photo of Jack, Alex, and Sam building sand castles.

I don’t know what they like more—building sand structures or crushing sand structures.

Photo of my three kids running in the water.

I love how they all get along in the water. No bickering, just joy.

Photo of Quinn sitting in an inner tube and Jack standing behind it.

I don’t even know what they do out there. Sometimes Quinn just jumps up and down in the water. It’s weird and charming and totally happy.

Quinn drawing in the sand with a stick. He has written "save me."

Quinn brought home the stick he used to write this. It was one of his souvenirs. It’s in his room right now.

Photo of Jack in sun speckled water.

I just can’t get enough of photographing my kids in the water because they are so happy and beautiful.

These goofballs!

Selfie of all five of us in the water.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a selfie of five people while you’re floating in an inner tube in the bright bright sun? (Answer: hard.)

I’m going to stop here and continue the rest of our vacation tale in a subsequent post. I predict that will happen prior to Labor Day. Maybe.

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.

Hair, Long Beautiful Hair (Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen)

Alternative title: A Tutorial on Dyeing Hair Green to Blue Ombre by the Best Hair Stylist in the Entire World—ME.

Sam is very big into his hair these days.

I find this to be reasonable because his hair is very beautiful. It’s thick and slightly wavy and it’s grown past his shoulders by now.

He’s been coloring it for slightly more than a year now. I’m totally cool with that because, what? Is he going to be fired for having funky hair? No. There is no better time for him to experiment wildly with his appearance.

The only problem I have with his doing things to his hair is that *I* am the one who has to do it. Unfortunately for Sam, I never colored my own hair, so I’m doing all my learning on him. It’s been quite a thing. I assume that I am not the only mom with this problem so I have decided to assemble a tutorial on dyeing hair ombre and really fucking nailing it.

1. Gain experience.

I’ve been working up to this ombre for a long time. Sam’s first foray into hair color was simply an aqua streak. At that point, his hair was light enough that we were able to do it without bleach. Over the next few months, we added other colors, with varying degrees of success. All was well. I was starting to feel comfortable with my dying prowess.

2. Become complacent.

Then, at some point during the last school year, Sam decided he wanted to dye his hair black. That turned out to be not too hard. I bought a box of L’Oreal hair dye at the grocery store and voila! Easy peasy!

3. Assign all the thinking and planning to your offspring.

The big problem with dying hair black is that then it is difficult to do anything else with it.

Sam figured out from watching YouTube videos that something you can do to black hair is add vibrant red to it. I was nervous because it seemed like going from black to red would involve bleach and I didn’t want to wreck his hair. Sam assured me we could use color remover or some such miraculous modern invention followed by the red, so that’s what we did. He ended up with a kind of subtle red over black that actually looked pretty cool.

So far so good. I hadn’t done anything to destroy my sweet boy, his hair, or his ability to live hatless in the world.

4. Demand detailed plans of your child’s proposed two-toned hair style.

Drawing of a white face with red lips, blue eyes and long hair, green on top and blue on the bottom.

I asked Sam to draw a picture of how he wanted his hair to look and this was what he came up with. The original drawing is, like, a half-inch square.

5. Come to terms with the fact that this? This is going to require bleach.

Ugh.

6. Bleach the fuck out of your kid’s hair.

Photo of Sam with his hair clumped in clips on his head with me making a goofy face in the background.

Bring it.

I bought a giant tub of powdered bleach, a ton of developer, set aside my day off of work, and we set to it. I gotta tell you, a tub of bleach is not the thing you want to be dealing with at 9:30 in the morning…until noon. It took a long time. We bleached it in quarters and Sam has a LOT of hair.

7. Discover your results.

I knew the roots were going to be lighter, but I wasn’t prepared for the rest of it to turn out sixteen different colors.

Photo of Sam with wet hair of varying shades ranging from light blond to brown to red.

I took this photo so Sam could show Quinn that he had been blond for at least a couple of hours.

8. Ask Facebook what it thinks.

I thought Sam’s hair was kinda cool but then the internet informed me that green wouldn’t go well over our uneven and half-assed bleach job.The internet suggested either more bleach or using a different, darker color that would mix better with the reds and browns we’d ended up with.

9. Ignore Facebook’s advice.

We considered bleaching it more, but we were worried about doing a lot of damage to his hair. Sam seemed to think that it was light enough and he wanted to go ahead and dye the top green and the tips blue, so we threw caution to the wind and that is what we did.

Because what the fuck could possibly go wrong? We’re Team Stimey. This is how we motherfucking roll.

10. Pro-fucking-ceed with confidence.

Bonus points if you use unnecessary but hilarious foil wraps.

Photo of Sam with tin foil wraps all over his head. I am behind him with a concerned look on my face.

See the confidence?

Sam in profile waving. The front of his hair is covered in green dye and the bottom is covered in tinfoil wraps.

I think he looks a lot like Medusa here.

Photo of Sam's head. All you can see are tinfoil wraps spotted with mostly blue but some green dye.

He’s in there somewhere, I swear.

I AM LIKE A PROFESSIONAL HAIR STYLIST.

11. Bond with your victim—I mean, client.

I have to tell you, spending my entire day dyeing Sam’s hair wasn’t my first choice of what to do with my day off, but when you have your teenager pretty much trapped within arm’s reach of you for a whole day, you get some pretty serious bonding time. Silver linings, people.

12. Freak out that you made the wrong decision.

When I finally got all of the tinfoil out and rinsed his hair, I got worried because the green wasn’t showing up that much. I knew I wouldn’t really be able to tell what the final color would be until it was dry, but it was starting to look like the blue was showing up well and the green was nonexistent.

I told Sam that I was worried and then he got worried and then we circled and fretted and I worried some more and he was all, “Mooommm, stop stressing out about this because now I’m stressed about it,” so then I was stressed out about it but very quietly stressed out about it and then we acknowledged aloud that we were both stressed and I offered as an option making the whole thing blue because we had extra blue and that color was showing up very brightly.

I also thought it would be soooooo much easier to just do the whole thing one color.

13. Make a sudden, radical change to your plans.

Photo of the back of Sam's head. It is liberally coated in blue dye.

I was right. It WAS easier.

We rinsed, Sam showered, we valiantly tried to remove blue dye from everything in my house. I told Sam to put a towel on his pillow and sent him to bed.

14. See a glimmer of hope.

But then he showed up about a half hour later and there was visible green and a little patch of yellow and suddenly it looked like it might not be just blue after all.

15. *sounds of angels singing*

The next morning, I wandered downstairs before work only to be confronted by this:

Photo of Sam laughing in the sun. His hair is ombre: green on top, blue on bottom, with an even transition between.

I completely by accident bumbled into giving Sam a gorgeous ombre dye job.

I AM THE GREATEST HAIR STYLIST IN THE HISTORY OF HAIR STYLISTS.

Like for reals, guys. If I’d TRIED to do this, I couldn’t have. I wasn’t even trying to make it ombre.

16. Accept kudos.

I spent that day with Sam and I have to tell you, he got a LOT of compliments. And every compliment he got was like a delightful little pat on the back for me. I have never been so happy as when the hip-looking young woman behind the counter at the place we got lunch referred to his hair as “tight.” I’m thinking of having that engraved on my tombstone.

Photo collage of eight photos of Sam's hair surrounding his drawing of his hair.

I couldn’t stop taking photos because no photo I took was able to capture how truly gorgeous it turned out.

It’s not perfect, but it is so, so pretty and I did it completely by accident.

17. Pretend that your kid isn’t constantly, vaguely smurf colored.

Blue just kept showing up on Sam’s face and his neck and his hands and then he’d wash it off and it would just come back. We’re about five days out from Dye Day and I think he’s finally not turning blue anymore.

18. Acknowledge that you have no advice to offer anyone.

Sorry, guys. I lied. This whole tutorial was just an excuse to show you what I did. All I know is that Sam’s hair is even better than what he’d hoped and he loves it so much and he loves me for doing it for him and nothing I ever do will be this good again. Happy sigh.

Reason No. 86 You’re Glad I’m Not Your Mom

Sam is super into music and he is also a teenager, which means that no matter how nice his mom is, she will never be not embarrassing to him when she’s asking, “Now this band is emo…tional and that band is pop…ular punk?”

Unfortunately, when you are 14, you are not old enough to drive yourself off to a concert by yourself and you probably don’t have your own Uber account, so sometimes your mom has to go with you to the concert.

Much to her delight.

Screeshot of a facebook status with a photo: I am the greatest mom in the world. I am at a fucking Blink 182 concert with my kid. The price: I am embarrassing the shit out of him. Image: Sam and I in front of the Marcus Amphitheater. I have a huge smile on my face and am making the biggest thumbs up sign in the world. Sam looks like he'd kill me with his eyes if he could.

He looks so saaaaaaad.

Blink-182 was playing near where we are staying right now in Wisconsin and their opening band is All Time Low, which is one of Sam’s favorites. Because Alex and I are awesome and how can you say no to that face above, we agreed to take him.

Sam decided I should take him to the concert instead of his father because Alex had taken him to a few concerts before.

Rookie mistake.

I kid. I was very well behaved. I mean, I thought I was well behaved. You’d think I was killing Sam in asking him to pose for a photo in front of the stage. Everyone else was taking selfies of themselves in front of the stage but I had to ambush Sam into a photo, which honestly, seems more embarrassing to me, but whatever.

Photo of Sam taken at close range in front of a stage.

We had great fucking seats. This kid is lucky is parents are so cool.

The concert was actually really fun. I tried to be unobtrusive and not too mom-like. When All Time Low was on, there were enough empty seats that I could remain sitting and still see, so I was able to stay off Sam’s radar that way.

I knew most of the songs from Sam’s incessant playing of them and the band was clever and entertaining. One of the bandmembers has a thing where he collects bras from the crowd on his mic stand and I think Sam thought I was going to be all feministly outraged and stand up with my indignant finger raised and pontificate on the objectification of women. But I didn’t. Much to Sam’s relief.

The band insisted that people sit on each others’ shoulders and they encouraged crowd surfing and of course the crowd obliged but security was having NONE OF IT. It was delightful.

Or totally rock star cool, which is what I think Sam would call it. And he is probably right.

Our seats were in the exact center of our row, which was awesome for watching the band, but less awesome for leaving your seats at set break for water or the bathroom so we remained where we were. I tricked Sam into taking a photo with me.

Selfie from below. I have a goofy grin. Sam looks serious.

Gawd, Mooooommmm.

If that photo makes it look like he didn’t know there was a camera there and I caught him unawares when he looked up from the book he was reading on his phone, then the photo is accurately conveying reality.

While Sam read and ignored me, I passed the time by making fun of him on Facebook. Then he would read what I wrote and the comments people made and he would sneer dismissively and then I would make more jokes on Facebook and the vicious cycle continued.

Then the next act came on. Blink-182 was good as well. Plus they made me feel better because if they were there, I wasn’t the oldest person in the stadium by a decade. I remembered some of their songs from my own youth, such as it was.

I did have to stand though, which was a bummer because I am old and infirm and get tired easily. I texted Alex that I was tired of standing and he responded with a YouTube clip of Nelson from the Simpsons saying, “Ha, ha!”

All things considered, I was really happy to be able to go with Sam. People always said that you only have so much time when your kids want to spend time with you so take advantage of it. I’m starting to realize how true that is. Soon he won’t need a parent to take him to shows and soon he probably won’t want a parent to take him to shows, so I will take advantage of these moments while I can.

Then, in a couple of years when I ask him if I can go to a concert with him and he rolls his eyes and tells me absolutely not, I can look back on this Blink-182 concert and remember the exact moment I made him never want to go to a concert with me again.

#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.