A Taste of Spring

The great thing about running a race in Florida in March is that you get to go to Florida in March and it will be warm and happy and also the only time ever that you will be grateful that it is humid.

Seriously, it was awesome.

I was with my friend Heather (of Disney fame) and my friend Lyda (of my trip to run a race in Florida fame) and we stayed at Lyda’s family’s house on the beach.

Photo of me with a big smile on my face. I am standing in front of the ocean.

It was TERRIBLE.

I kid. It was wonderful. And there were many exciting things about this particular beach.

Like this jellyfish… (and all the other dead jellyfish strewn all over the beach)

Photo of a jelly fish on the sand.

I touched it. Then I felt sad that it was dead.

And these shells…

Photo of a big pile of shells on the beach.

I didn’t collect any because I didn’t think my kids would want any and when I got home, Quinn was all, “Where are my shells?”

And this crab guy…

Closeup of the beach with some shells and a small brown crab.

He was an anomaly though. I only saw the one.

These adorable birds…

Some birds on the beach. There are sandpipers in there and maybe some other birds.

I think some of them are sandpipers, but I don’t remember if the sandpipers are the big ones or the little ones.

And pelicans!

A pelican flying through the sky.

I know this is a terrible photo and this pelican isn’t actually ON the beach, but IT IS A PELICAN AND PELICANS ARE COOL.

This stick family…

Picture of sand with five stick figures (my family) drawn in it.

It took me WAY longer than it probably should have to draw these stick figures.

Sand…

Selfie of me on the beach with a very grumpy look on my face.

I find sand to be very upsetting.

These goofballs…

Photo of my friends Heather and Lyda.

Hi friends!

All of that great beach stuff happened on Friday. Then on Saturday we had to run nine miles, like saps.

Photo of four women runners.

This is before the race. Please to notice our friend Holly who didn’t stay with us, but did run with us.

After the race, we ate everything that we could find in Jacksonville. And I made my friends pose with every weird animal sculpture we encountered.

Two photos. One of Heather posing with a brightly painted jaguar sculpture; the other of Lyda sitting on a brightly painted sea turtle.

My friends are good sports.

Sunday was Sightseeing Day, also known as Lyda Faces Her Fears Day. Seriously. We did everything that Lyda found frightening on Sunday.

We started by doing an elevated obstacle/zip line course over an alligator park. Also, it turns out that elevated obstacle courses are vaguely terrifying.

Photo of Lyda and Heather standing on a platform in a tree. I am walking up a series of "stairs" leading to the platform. The stairs are dangling from cables.

Can you see the terror in my posture? I can. Can you see how relaxed my asshole friends are on their stable platform? I can.

That said, courage is not about not being afraid, but keeping on even when you’re scared. ‘Round about halfway through the course I got my shit together and transitioned from terror to fun.

You know what is NOT terrifying though? Ziplines.

Photo of me mid-air on a zipline. I am making a happy face at a camera.

Holy hell that was fun.

After we finished the “45 minutes to an hour long” obstacle course that took us a good hour and a half to get through, we headed off to tour the alligator farm.

Photo of Heather and Lyda watching alligators in water from a wooden boardwalk.

For the record, Lyda isn’t afraid of alligators.

Photo of Heather crouched down with her head inside the open mouth of a fake alligator.

Neither is Heather.

No, the alligator is not real.

The alligators were cool, but I really enjoyed the hayseed tortoise they had there.

Photo of a giant tortoise with a piece of hay sticking out of his mouth.

It is *great* to be inside my head. I find myself to be extremely amusing.

There is a lighthouse near the alligator park and on our way out, Lyda was all, “Ha, ha, I assume you don’t want to climb the lighthouse,” and Heather and I immediately replied, “Yes. Yes, we do,” which was unfortunate, because Lyda doesn’t care for stairs you can see through.

Photo of me making a face as I lean out over a spiral 15-story staircase made of black metal stairs, each step of which is made of metal with round holes cut in them so you can see through them.

Fifteen floors, friends.

The lighthouse was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I like lighthouses. I think they’re neat.

Photo of a convex mirror. In it you can see a lighthouse reflected with me, Lyda, and Heather standing in front of it.

I bought a little wind chime model of this lighthouse. It makes me happy. I also bought some fudge in the gift shop. I don’t know why they had fudge, but who am I to question their logic?

Selfie from the top of the lighthouse.

This is me at the top of the lighthouse.

When I got to the top of the lighthouse, I found some tourists talking to a staff member about the efficacy of said lighthouse as a safe place during the zombie apocalypse. I’d found my people. Even if they thought zombies couldn’t climb stairs. (They obviously can. They’re just not very good at it.)

We left for the airport on Monday at the crack of damn dawn, but it was even kind of worth it because we walked out of the beach house to this amazing scene:

Photo of a hammock suspended between palm trees in a pool of light. The photo is otherwise dark except for a crescent moon in the sky and reflected on the ocean.

Note: the reality of this photo was about 800 times prettier than this picture.

Photo of an airplane wing in front of a sunrise.

Then on the plane, I annoyed the hell out of my window seatmate (Heather) by elbowing in front of her to take 17 photos of the sunrise.

That is our trip to Florida. We arrived back in Maryland to what suddenly felt like extremely cold and grim weather. I gotta say, I see the appeal of living in a tropical place. Spring is a-coming to Maryland finally, but it was really nice to get a little preview.

Thanks for putting us up, Lyda, and for suggesting the race. Thanks for putting up with me, Heather. You guys rock. I had a blast.

Team Stimey Takes Virginia!

I am so excited to tell you about Team Stimey’s Super Awesome Fun Spring Break Adventure! We packed a lot of fun into our two-day vacation. Alex had a business trip on Monday so I decided that instead of sitting around and being surly that he was gone again, I would bail as well. Only I had to take the kids.

We based our trip around Luray Caverns in Virginia, adding on other roadside attractions until we had the best 48 hours ever. Alex went to Cincinnati and had a meeting in a conference room overlooking a freeway.

You can guess who had more fun.

I have to admit that I was annoyed when I woke up and saw my spring break adventure looking more like spring broken adventure.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Although the snow did teach me something interesting.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

That kid is his own person, that is for sure.

Regardless of snow (I had prepaid for our hotel room so we were going—even if a tornado showed up), we headed out and arrived at Luray at about noon. Now, Team Stimey had been to Luray Caverns before, but it was a long time ago (click that link to see my tiny babies) and we didn’t go on a cold, snowy spring day. It was practically deserted when we went this time. There were no lines and no sweltering heat and there was plenty of snow to threaten your brothers with.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

We grabbed some lunch and then jumped onto a tour. Our guide was great except that she didn’t have answers for any of the Minecraft-related questions my kids had. It’s almost like they didn’t train her at all.

The tour started off really well. All three kiddos were happy. Sam was learning, Jack was musing about types of rock, and Quinn kept finding dark little recesses and saying, “Look! A cave system!”

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Back at the beginning of the tour when they were still willing to stand together for me to take a photo of them.

So, let’s talk about my kids and the way they handle tours for a minute. Last time we went to Luray, we did a self-guided tour. This time they didn’t offer that option, so we were with a group of 25ish that traveled together. This isn’t optimal for my kids, but I’m lucky in that they can mostly handle it. Mostly.

Sam is my kid that is best suited for tours, exhibits, and other learning stuff. We were hanging in the back of the group so I could take some photos without people in them and also so that we weren’t distracting the guide with infinite questions about bedrock and mining. Every time the guide started talking, Sam would gasp and run up to be in ear shot.

In fact, my cell phone is full of videos of the guide telling us things about the cavern. I had to threaten him to make him stop taking video that we will never watch.

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Also on the phone? At least one photo of me and my camera.

Jack tends to get overwhelmed and spinny in tour situations. The cavern, however, was spacious enough and involved enough walking that he was okay. The best way to help him regulate himself is to take him on a long walk, so considering the tour was about a mile long, this was just his thing. Near the end of the tour, he was up at the front chatting with the guide. Maybe he was giving her that sorely needed Minecraft information.

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I’m imagining that he was thinking about different kinds of Minecraft blocks in this photo.

Then there is Quinn. The thing I’m coming to realize about Quinn is that he has a time limit. He started off the tour completely happy, but his attention span is not…expansive. Also, when he is unhappy, tired, or bored, he gets loud. God forbid he is all three. Because when he is all three, he also falls to the ground.

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Oh, Quinn.

Quinn and I are working on finding a happy medium together.

We emerged from the caverns into the greatest unblemished field of snow that ever was. That snow quickly became the greatest blemished battlefield of snow that ever was after my kids’ epic snowball fight broke out. It was one of those rare, unplanned, no-one-got-mad-or-hurt bouts of awesomeness that very occasionally happens. It was the absolute greatest.

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Even Quinn came right back to happy. Also soaking wet. That too.

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Quinn is a fan of the “snowball as big as your head” tactical approach.

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After snowball fighting, terrorizing some geese, and exploring around, Jack found his sensory happy place lying in the snow.

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Sam’s happy place, on the other hand, involved throwing snowballs at me. See that particularly well-aimed one hurtling toward my camera?

The hedge maze we had planned to go through was closed because of the snow, which I thought was absurd, but my thoughts had very little effect on the open vs. closed status of said hedge maze, so we departed to our hotel.

Now, my kids were happily watching a movie in the backseat, so they were unaware of what happened next. I should preface this by telling you that my GPS, which is probably the same one you have, reminds me very much of a Dalek from Doctor Who—its “RECALCULATING” sounds exactly as evil as “EXTERMINATE” and makes me laugh every time I take a wrong turn. I also may or may not repeat “RECALCULATING” in a Dalek voice every time it happens.

Now, my GPS always gets me where I’m going, but it often chooses the weirdest damn way in the world. In this case, instead of choosing a2 + b2 on two-lane and larger roads, the GPS sent me straight across c2—the hypotenuse, which in this case turned out to be a series of increasingly windy and snowy roads over a mountain on which there were NO other cars. If I’d had slinky college coeds in my car instead of damp tweens, it would have been EXACTLY like the beginning of a horror movie.

Perhaps the best part, however, was when I made a wrong turn and the GPS recalculated and I assumed it was sending me on a new route, but it was in fact sending me on the longest, most dangerous 11.2-mile u-turn I’d ever been on. I knew that Dalek GPS has been trying to kill me.

Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

(start at the bottom) Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

That done, we finally got to the hotel, which was the best hotel in the history of hotels, but notable mostly for the fact that it had an indoor swimming pool in which my kids spent HOURS.

CANNONBALL!!!

LOOK OUT BELOW!!!

Also making this hotel notable was that they offered free hot chocolate in the lobby and a microwave in the room, which made an excellent combination for Quinn, who warmed up his one cup of hot chocolate many times over the course of the evening.

It's even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

It’s even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that hotel. We swam evening and morning, ate sooooo much breakfast, and checked out a half hour before we were kicked out. It was an excellent choice to stay overnight.

The other thing that made it an excellent choice to stay overnight was that Luray’s hedge maze was open the next day. I think that my kids were more excited about the hedge maze than the caverns, so I was glad that we were able to head back. It was substantially more crowded that day, which lends more credibility to my new “go to busy attractions on terrible weather days” theory.

The hedge maze at Luray is huge and awesome and has four goals and a center fountain for you to find so you’re not just wandering around aimlessly. Once everyone got yelled at once (by me) for running off in separate directions, Team Stimey stuck together and eventually we made our way through.

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What could possibly go wrong?

The maze was actually really hard. Especially considering said maze was kind of an asshole.

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This totally outraged Quinn.

Luray also has this new thing called Ropeland or some such where they harness you up and send you into a…well, a ropeland. It was really cool. There were three levels, one of which was crazy high. That is the one Quinn got tangled up in and had to be rescued from. Naturally.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Sam went up and came down almost immediately because it hadn’t occurred to him beforehand that he is afraid of heights. Jack, per usual, was fearless.

This is on the middle section.

This is on the middle section.

After Ropeland, we headed back toward Maryland. I had planned a stop at Dinosaurland and was considering one more stop, children permitting, but we only made it to the first stop. Did I mention that Quinn had a time limit? Yeah. It expired almost immediately after arriving at Dinosaurland.

Regardless, I did get this most excellent new Facebook profile photo.

You'll never go...um, on the concrete again!

You’ll never go…um, on the concrete again!

Also, it turns out that my kids are surprisingly resistant to standing in front of giant fake dinosaurs and pretending to be scared of/running from/being eaten by said dinosaurs.

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This was SO halfhearted on his part.

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THIS is how you do it. (Also, I don’t know why a praying mantis is at Dinosaurland. Also, also, I don’t think this is a “life-size replica” as advertised.)

When all was said and done, though, the way I knew that we were really done with Team Stimey’s Fantabulous Spring Break Adventure is when I started to feel like this:

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When you’re standing in front of a pile of trash and a mini-bulldozer with this expression on your face while watching your kid sit in a giant King Kong hand, you know you’re done with your day-o-fun.

(I just realized that I can’t NOT show you the King Kong photo. Here it is. You are welcome.)

I call them Surly and Surlier.

I call them Surly and Surlier.

The End. Come on back next year for Team Stimey’s Incredible Adorable Allegorical Spring Break Adventure II.

Things That Amused Me/Happened at the Maryland Zoo

By the last day of our ELEVEN DAY LONG spring break I was desperate to get out of my house. By that point in our “vacation,” I would have taken the munchkins on a day-long trip to a pottery and crystal gallery if it would have kept them out of the house long enough for them to stop shouting at each other about not wanting to share their things.

Fortunately, there were places other than the pottery and crystal gallery open that day. In fact, one of those places that was open fit my criteria of being a place you could shout in, somewhere that had food, a place where it was hard to break things, and was a fair distance away from my house so I could strap my kids quietly into the car for a good amount of time on the way there and back.

Not to be confused with the National Zoo;
probably to be confused with the Baltimore Zoo, which is what it used to be called.

Algernon went too. He was going to have all kinds of adventures at the zoo, but it turns out that once I had to start doing the “one kid, two kid, three kid…one kid, two kid, three kid…” routine all by myself at a brand new to us location, Algernon decided he wanted to hang out in my bag and not bother coming out. Funny that.

He did stop to take a thorn out of this lion’s paw, which was hard,
considering the paw was made out of iron.

Going anywhere with my three kiddos is totally an exercise in hilarity and that day at the zoo was no exception. I was all excited that morning, so I was surprised when my enthusiastic, “WHO WANTS TO GO TO THE ZOO?!?!” was met with, “Meh,” and “Not me,” and “NOOOOOOO!!!!”

For reals. It’s like I was asking if I could take them to the broccoli factory.*

Fortunately, I don’t much give a damn what they want to do, so I stuffed them in the car and dragged them down there anyway. I did make one really good decision, which was to take a bag of cheesy popcorn with us, which distracted Quinn for at least an hour.

It is ridonkulous how much food he can pack away.

It also made us at least one enemy in the tram line where the kids behind us watched my kids snarfing up their snack and started demanding food from their mother. I never know what to do in those situations. Do I offer some popcorn to the mom to give to her kids? Do I pretend like I don’t hear them? Do I shrug guiltily and look away?

Do I encourage my kids to raise the popcorn victoriously
over their heads in a fist pump of joy?

The reason I chose to take them to the Maryland Zoo instead of the National Zoo is because (1) we have never been there, so I figured it would be new and exciting, and (2) they have polar bears and penguins. I figured that these things would make up for the fact that you have to pay admission.

They did. Polar bears are awesome.

Does anyone else wish that there were Dharma Initiative
hatches and whatnot in this habitat?

I was a little disappointed that the polar bear wasn’t swimming and diving and being otherwise awesome, but he did rub his butt up against some rocks, so that was entertaining.

Because I’m six, I yelled, “He’s scratching his butt on the rocks!”
and, like, ten kids came running over.

The Maryland Zoo isn’t all smiles and sunshine and polar bears and penguins. There is also a cave, which sounds awesome if you like caves (and I do) and it kind of is awesome, but it is also REALLY dark. I only took one photo in the cave, because…hello, dark—and it is not of the fuzzy bear or interesting stalactite variety.

It is of the horrifyingly scary wolf spider variety.

The only reason I share that with you (because, frankly, even *I* would stop visiting my blog if there were regular photos of spiders on it; in fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read this particular post again because of this photo) is to illustrate how goddamn dark that cave was. Imagine my “one kid, two kid, three kid…” count in the pitch black. Then picture Jack finding every single tiny corner nook and hiding the deepest crooks of each of them.

Sometimes I think the people who design these things are just laughing at us parents.

It is a minor miracle that I didn’t lose anyone in there among the wolf spiders and shadows.

From there, it was just a short trip past a collapsed bridge (for real), a slide in a tree-shaped building that my kids refused to come out of, and several photographs of common ducks later, until we made it to the petting farm. The petting farm consisted entirely of goats.

This is Jack mind melding with one of those goats.

Aside: That photo takes my breath away every time I look at it. Jack has a thing with animals. I’m not entirely sure the goat was on board with the gazing into each others’ souls thing, but Jack was.

After the goats and the hand washing that followed, we went on the train. Now, I’m going to drop a tip on you here: Unless your kids are really into trains, you can skip this one at the Maryland Zoo. You don’t really see many animals and it is a pretty short trip for the $3/ticket cost.

Fortunately, my kids are into trains, so I felt that the trip was money…spent. In much the same way as my children were super excited when I asked if they wanted to go to the zoo, they were equally excited when I told them to give me their Biggest Train Smiles!

Way to show your gratitude, kiddos!

At least I have Jack in my corner.

Turns out that his Biggest Train Smile is kinda goofy.

From there, we headed over to lunch. It was chilly during our day at the zoo, so I let my kids sit in the sun at a table while I bought their lunch and kept an eye on them (“one kid, two kid, three kid…”). They ate their food and then Jack evidently decided that sitting on a bench didn’t make him warm enough, so he sought heat iguana-like on the pavement.

He attracted a surprisingly small amount of attention.
And, yes, I know it’s gross. I don’t really care.

After lunch it was time for what I had been dreading: The Bathroom.

Those of you with opposite gendered children understand what I am talking about here. Sam can go into bathrooms by himself and Quinn is still young enough to seem appropriate in the women’s restroom with a parent. Then there is Jack. He is almost nine. He sticks out if I take him with me into a public restroom. I’ve gotten looks from Judgey McHaterpants for doing so. He is usually fine by himself in public restrooms, but sometimes he dawdles and doesn’t come out and I hate making it Sam’s responsibility to drag him out.

Normally I send them all into the men’s bathroom together and carefully watch the door to catch them on their way out, but if I am going to the bathroom as well and won’t necessarily be at the door when they come out, I don’t like sending Jack and Quinn in. God only knows where they would go if they came out and I wasn’t there.

Therefore, I told Jack and Quinn that they were coming to the women’s restroom with me and Sam that he would go to the men’s room by himself and then we would all meet just outside the bathroom.

But then as we approached the bathrooms with our plan in place, Sam spotted the family restroom (the savior of families like mine) and suggested we use it. I turned for a second to see where the bathroom was, turned back around, started my headcount (“one kid, two kid…”), and realized Jack wasn’t there anymore.

I sent Sam to check in the men’s room and I went to check in the women’s room because I couldn’t think where else Jack would have gone. I was so explicit about our bathroom instructions, that we were Going to The Bathroom, this is how we are Going to The Bathroom, and with whom and in what order we were Going to The Bathroom, so I couldn’t imagine him heading off to the goats or the train or to be eaten by the lions or whatever.

But, the truth remained, Jack was missing, he was not in the women’s room, and Sam said he was not in the men’s room. Just like on Loon Day, I passed the point when I was trying to quietly deal with the situation by myself.

My natural instinct is to not draw attention to myself, so it went against every part of me to do what I did next, which was to shove my way to the front of the line at the ice cream booth to report my missing child, something the teenagers there were ill-prepared to hear. I tried to spur them into action by using scary words like “eight years old” and “autistic.”

They claimed to be “calling someone,” so I returned to scanning the area for either Jack or a more responsible adult zoo employee who would understand that TIME IS OF THE MOTHERFUCKING ESSENCE HERE, PEOPLE.

It was shortly after this point when I spotted Jack sitting criss-cross-applesauce very obediently on the ground in front of the men’s room, where he had apparently been the whole time. (Dammit, Sam, we have to work on your search and rescue skillz.)

“You told me to go to the bathroom,” he said.

I shoved my way to the front of the ice cream line one more time to cancel the Amber Alert I had instigated and which had never materialized, then we went back to the family restroom and Jack and I had a little heart to heart and I pulled myself together.

Then we stood in the ice cream line where I ended up paying a tremendous amount of money for ice cream for my kids just because I was so happy that all three of my kids were still present and accounted for and I didn’t even give them the lecture about how if they were cold, ice cream would make them even colder.

Quinn opted for something even messier.

Quinn was going to save some of his cotton candy for Alex, because Alex likes cotton candy. I convinced him that it was unnecessary to do so (mostly because I would have had to drag it all over Baltimore).

There was probably a full serving left on Quinn’s face after he was done eating.

After we Went to The Bathroom and ate/smeared our desserts, we headed over to the chimpanzees, where we saw some extremely inappropriate behavior.

Seriously. It was a scene. Feeding time seemed to get them sexually excited.

I did not photograph the obscenities. You are welcome.

There were also lions and an elephant that was trying to eat the (greener, literally) grass on the other side of the fence and the elephant that was playing with a tire (I originally wrote “tiger” instead of “tire,” which, honestly, would have been even cooler) and there were more ducks and some other birds and I actually gave my kids quarters to look through those stupid things that look like alien faces but that you are never quite able to find what you are looking for through them.

These things.

Then it was off to the penguins, who did all kinds of cute waddling around, but not enough jumping in the water for Quinn.

This one did work the audience by swimming through cherry blossoms.

Then off to the cheetahs, because come on, cheetahs. The Cheetah Cheetah is in the background of this photo of Cheetah Jack.

Cheetah Jack’s expression is better though.

I also really liked this bird. This bird had giving the Whale Eye down to a science.

It seemed like hard work to be this bird though.

So, the way the Maryland Zoo is set up, the entrance is either a tram ride or a short walk to the actual exhibits. We took the tram in the morning, but the line was really long in the afternoon, so we decided to walk back. Unfortunately, my kids have all kinds of different speeds. Sam is Mr. Fast and Jack is Mr. Slow and Quinn is Mr. Travel Twice the Distance by Running Back and Forth.

Sam is waaaay up in the front. Quinn continues to levitate.

This “5-10 minute walk” took a lot longer for us. Why? This:

Jack meanders like it is his motherfucking job.

And then just because I love this photo because it is very Sam and Quinn.

Sam is being crazy swinging our sweatshirt and Quinn has lost a shoe.

After we had looked at all the animals, I asked if everyone had had fun and they grudgingly admitted that they had. So then I asked them if they could show their gratitude by smiling in unison and not looking crazy for a photo for me.

This is as close as they got.

I’ll take it.

There is the last day of spring break. Now perhaps you understand why I was so happy to send them back to school.

* a.k.a. the “farm”

*****

Thank you to Kirstin G. for your donation to the Cheetahs. You all make me so happy. Thank you, my loves.

A Stimeyland Easter

Evidently Quinn checked the fridge this morning and found our dyed Easter eggs still in there so, despite Easter presents in the living room, he determined that the Easter Bunny hadn’t hidden any eggs.

He was right.

The Easter Bunny then snapped into quick action.

Fortunately, our kids are not very observant.

Alex then convinced Quinn that a very, very quiet Easter Bunny snuck into our house while they were in another room this morning to get the eggs and hide them. After Quinn checked the fridge again to find the eggs gone, he was impressed by the bunny’s magic.

“If I’d gone to get a snack, I might have seen him!” Quinn insisted. To anyone who suggested that it was strange that no one heard the bunny, Quinn said, wide-eyed, “Magic.”

“But, Quinn, what about—”

“MAGIC!”

Then Alex and I sat on the porch and watched the munchkins scramble around the backyard.

In addition to the dozen real eggs, we had 24 plastic eggs that I had put candy in. Then I put those eggs in a bag with the leftover candy, figuring the leftovers would get put in a bowl later. When Alex took that bag to the yard to hide the eggs, he dumped the loose candy in a pile in the garden.

Because that makes sense.

It did make these two really happy, however.

Then this happened:

(One of my most liked Facebook statuses ever.)

Then I watched this:

I am a terrible person.

*****

Thanks to the newest Cheetah donors, Lisa R and Dick & Candi. Every time I look at that page and see friends and readers and relatives on that list, I get all gushy and happy inside. Sincerely. Thank you.

The Bad, the Good, and the Sproingy

One.

I hate everything. *grumblegrumble*assholes*grumblegrumble*motherfuckersallofthem*grumble*

Two.

Except this. I don’t hate this. Jack (and the rest of Team Stimey more peripherally) spent a couple weeks last month being photographed by a very talented photojournalism student from the Corcoran College of Art + Design for a photo story about autism. She was amazing and so professional and also crazy nice. Jack sort of fell in love with her. I think he wants her to live with us.

She came over last weekend and presented me with two flash drives full of hundreds of photographs of my family. What an amazing gift. As a side note, it takes a surprising amount of time to look through multiple thousands of photos. I did it once and I have to go through them again to pick out my favorites, which I’m sure I will be sharing here over the next few weeks, but for now, I will give you a few pictures that she emailed me separately.

Dragon Quinn and his Tinkertoys.

Alex is showing Jack the “Who’s on First?” video.

Sam is actually becoming a remarkably good flautist.

Hmmm. Quinn in another funny hat.

Jack chilling on someone else’s lawn.

If you want to see more of her work, you can check out her website, which is a work in progress but should be up and running presently.

You can also see the exhibit at the White Walls Corcoran Gallery at 500 17th Street NW in DC. Her exhibit is part of a larger exhibition called “Interactions” and will be up until March 31. There is a reception on Thursday, March 22, from 5-7 p.m.

Sadly, Jack and I will not be able to attend the reception because we will be out of town (more on that later this week!), but it is possible that Alex and the remainder of Team Stimey will be there. All are welcome to check out this exhibition of work by student photojournalists.

I think it’ll be good. I wish I could be there.

Three.

Thank the good lord, it is spring. I couldn’t resist writing about it over at White Knuckle Parenting this week, although I did refrain from using the term “tree sperm” to refer to all those annoying seeds that blanket the world for three weeks every March and April.

The column was originally titled When Spring Sproings, but evidently some copy editor objected to the fact that “sproing” isn’t really a word. Pfft…copy editors. I say that with the greatest of love, considering that I used to be a copy editor. But let’s be honest: copy editors are a strange and persnickety bunch.

Epilogue.

I am going to bed.

Spring. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Everything’s blooming. All that crap.

I grabbed my camera today because Sam was in the backyard doing something funny…

Playing his flute for the neighbor with his sheet
music in a tree was the something funny.

…and I realized that I haven’t taken photos for weeks. Being someone who comes home from a two-hour trip to the museum with 150 photos, this is out of character for me.

I think the reason is mostly because we haven’t been doing much that is exciting. I mean, there are only so many photos you can take of your kids playing video games and doing homework. But this week it has been 80 degrees and there are new leaves on the trees and Jack doesn’t have any homework because it is standardized testing week and the teacher is giving them a break in the evening, so we are full of time and new, vibrant places to play and take photographs.

(By new and vibrant, I mean “the backyard.”)

It struck me today that spring might actually be here. Maybe we can shed coats and get a fresh start in the fresh air. You know, like George Costanza says, “Spring. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Everything’s blooming. All that crap.”

Why play video games when you can beat the
hell out of each other in actual nature?

Sadly, Quinn didn’t make it. Aside from a break between reading and math homework, he was stuck inside doing homework because he’s not old enough for standardized tests.*

He was a wee bit put out about the whole thing.

Because I don’t have any photos of Quinn doing adorable things in the backyard today, I decided to show you this picture he drew at school instead. In it, he details what he did this weekend, which was apparently some coal mining.

Quinn with his pickax.

Underneath the photo, Quinn wrote, “I cut plants with plant clippers. I dug with a pickax. I cut down trees.”

What he really did was get chased around the yard by the neighbor’s 50-pound Swiss Mountain puppy while Alex did all those things in Quinn’s essay. Regardless, it’s all good.

Bring it, spring. I’m ready.

* At first, I accidentally wrote “standardized testes” and then I laughed and laughed and laughed.

*****

Hey, if you are so inclined, some amazing ladies (Sue from Laundry for Six, Mir from Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and Leigh from Flappiness Is) and I are proposing a Room of Your Own panel for BlogHer this summer and would love your vote. It’s called Telling Tales Out of School and it’s all about what you should think about when you are blogging about your kids and their education. You have to log in to the site and then click on “I would attend this session,” and hopefully we will end up being selected to speak at the conference in August.

Honestly, this is something I think about every single day, especially right now when there is a LOT going on with Jack and school—so much more than I can write about right now. I’d love to be able to explore this topic a little more with you guys in August.

For the Love of All That is Good in the World, Let There Be Spring

Every single year I get really excited in March and write some sort of post about spring arriving. Most years I probably use one of the following words in the post title: spring, fling, sprung, sprang, SPROING!

These tend to be followed by April entries that use the following words: fuck, you, snow.

Okay, that thing about March and spring words turns out not to be true. I just searched through all of my March entries and it turns out that I only did this in 2007 and last year. It is, however, EXCEPTIONALLY easy to find entries where I make things up.

One of my favorite spring posts of all time is one about Jack and Quinn becoming friends. I wrote it less than a month after I started blogging and it remains one of my favorites. They were/are so cute.

The point of all this is that the past three days have been remarkably spring-like and wonderful and although Alex and I have been huddled up and destroyed by clouds of sickness for the last several days, we both presume that the children have been out and about enjoying themselves in the spring weather.

Well, really what they’ve been doing is play video games as Alex and I fight over whose turn it is to nap. Today I told them that if they wanted to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl that they had to go outside first and play Super Stimey Bros. Brawl. Which they did.

See Quinn. See Quinn punch Sam.
See Sam. See Sam retaliate with a stick club.

Speaking of sticks, thank goodness for all the snow, wind and rain that knocked all of the branches off of our trees this winter because now my kids have plenty of ammunition with which to bash each other. Next Christmas I’m going to give them bundles of sticks, because that’s all they want to play with anyway.

Also, can anyone tell me how all the giant branches fall out of the trees but I can still see bird nests, evidently attached with epoxy, up in the still-attached limbs?

Being Stimeys, we naturally plan to pick up those fallen tree limbs sometime in 2013. By that time we’ll have enough to make it worth our while.

Plus, if we move them, what will the munchkins climb on and stab with?

They had the world’s shortest picnic too, at which they consumed goldfish crackers, pretzels and Calvin & Hobbes. (By “consume,” I mean “read.” I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here.)

Note the scavenger dog acting all cool as she lays in wait.

If it snows again, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I imagine it will involve loud sobbing. I am SO ready for spring and summer. I have plans to shove my kids outdoors for the first hour after they get off their bus from now until the end of school, so I will not tolerate rain nor sleet nor snow NOR dark of night.

Huh. Look at that. Jack is outside on the slide playing with a plastic hammer that a baby left here last summer and an empty can of pineapple chunks. That’s weird. Also? Why do I buy toys?