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.

The Three Mudketeers

I have a group of friends that I run races with. You might be familiar with them from my Facebook race selfies. Four years ago I could never have imagined that I’d have running buddies. That’s a whole post of its own. I love them.

Between all of us, we get a lot of emails advertising races in the area. We send them around to each other to see if we want to participate in them together. Usually we are able to come to some sort of agreement about how fun a race is going to be and how we should run it together.

I recently sent one out that advertised the Frederick Mud Dog Run. No one bit.

But then I was all, “Aw, obstacle course races are so fun!” and “They’re not hard!” and “I’ve done them by myself but never with anyone and I think it would be really fun to do one with someone,” and by then everyone just felt sorry for me so my friend Lyda signed up.

Then her husband Bob signed up without understanding much about the race past the fact that it was a 5K.

No one else was kind/dumb enough to join us.

Race day was a couple of weekends ago and we all showed up at the start line scrubbed, fresh, and ready to go.

Photo of me, Bob, and Lyda before the race.

We would not be so clean again for quite some time.

Lyda and Bob had, by this point, spent a fair amount of time circling and fretting, both literally and figuratively. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure that they were still going to be my friends after the first mud puddle.

Incidentally, the first mud puddle is where Lyda learned to keep her mouth closed when you jump into muddy water. That’s a tough lesson to learn.

While she was learning that, I was learning how hard it is to climb up a slippery, muddy slope, even if someone is giving you a hand as long as your foot keeps getting stuck in the mud bog you are standing in.

We had a really fun time, mud, blood, and all. We climbed walls, forded streams, walked across seesaws, and ran between every single one of those obstacles and more. We were awesome. I laughed a lot, even when Bob teased me about all the mud and smeared some on my shoulder. I got back at him by smearing mud on his face. Unfortunately for very many reasons, my finger ended up in Bob’s mouth, which shut him up pretty effectively. (Sorry, Bob.)

Two photos: one of Bob covered in mud climbing out of a bog. One of Lyda sitting on a mud bank grimacing.

See? See how much fun they had? Don’t they look happy?

I kid them of course. They rock. They defeated each and every obstacle with vigor and good cheer. My guess that it would be fun to do an obstacle race with other people? I was right. These two are cheerful and tough—two things I also consider myself to be. We were a good team.

We were a good team even when we came across the bog filled with deep mud that we CRAWLED across. It is maybe the worst thing I’ve ever done. It wasn’t even soft mud either. Under eight or so inches of mud there was no shortage of sharp branches that left little cuts up and down my right shin.

I was really happy when I got to the other side.

Photo of me with arms raised at the end of a field of mud. My arms are muddy past my elbows and my body is muddy past my waist.

At least none of us lost our shoes in there.

It wasn’t all mud though. Roy Rogers restaurant was a sponsor of the race, so they created an obstacle where they mixed BARBECUE SAUCE with the mud.

Barbecue sauce. Imagine that for a moment.

Photo of me and Lyda army crawling under a net. There is a Roy Rogers banner above us.

Look how cute we are even covered in mud and BBQ.

We finished happy, victorious, and with all our glasses and hats intact.

Two photos: One a close up selfie of the three of us covered in mud; the second is a full body shot of the three of us covered in mud.

At this point, I refrained from pressuring my friends into signing up for the zombie version of this race that takes place in October. That will come later.

We dropped some stuff in the car and headed back to the finish line for two very important things: our free beer and a hose—a hose with a very long line. We opted to get our beer first.

Photo of Bob and Lyda sitting at a picnic table laughing and drinking beer.

I love this photo. I love my friends.

Standing in line waiting for the hose was way more fun once we were a little tipsy and I was able to function again because I’d used the beer to clean off my fingertips because if there is one thing I can’t handle, it is dry dirt on my fingertips. You’d think I wouldn’t do these kinds of races with that sort of sensory issue. To that I say I am a bundle of delightful and infuriating contradictions.

There were a lot of people in line for the one operating hose. We patiently stood there until it was finally our turn. Chivalry isn’t dead and/or I was whiniest and Bob used the hose to clean me off first. Then Bob hosed off his wife.

Photo of Bob leaning down and aiming the hose at Lyda.

It must be awesome to have a friend like me around to immortalize moments like this when you’re hosing down your wife’s butt.

Then, just as Bob was ready to hose himself off, the water pressure dropped and there was no more water and so Bob had to drive home covered in mud. No good deed goes unpunished.

It was right around this time that I started feeling even worse about putting mud inside Bob’s mouth.

I had such a good time with my friends—and I am happy to say that they are still my friends, even after I quite literally dragged them through the mud.

Photo of muddy me giving a double thumbs up.

 

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.

 

Stagnation and Progress

Effort is hard, y’all.

Ever since I got back from my half marathon, it has been a struggle to get out the door in my running shoes.

In my mind and on my training calendar, I was going to be back running 11+ mile runs starting the week I returned. That didn’t happen, nor was it probably realistic to imagine that it would happen. I’ve been consistent enough with running and I ran a killer 5-mile race last month, but I need to step it up because I have a 20-mile race scheduled for September 18.

That said, in addition to all the little aches and pains and the worthless right knee that I have, I have developed what seems to be a groin pull. And, in case you’re wondering, if you want to get treatment for a groin pull, you have to both say the word “groin” too many times to too many different people and point to your crotchal region about the same number of times. It’s not fun.

Much to my surprise, however, I did those things. I was concerned that if I pulled a Stimey and ignored it and assumed it would get better that it might, in fact, NOT get better, which would be surprising because isn’t that how these things work? Like I unplug and replug in my groin area and it’s better, right?

Regardless, I decided that even if the pain isn’t a problem for me on most days, I should deal with it now rather than run on it until I am completely immobilized and can’t do my 20-miler.

Happily and coincidentally, I happened to have a med check appointment with my doctor last week, which I turned into a Groin Pull Appointment, which in turn led to today’s evaluation at the physical therapist’s office.

Also, henceforth, my groin pull will be referred to as my Painful Situation, because I have met my lifetime quota for saying the word “groin” to virtual strangers.

The therapist did a full evaluation on my right leg and my right arm (because I offhandedly mentioned an upper arm/shoulder situation that I have been assuming would just get better for a couple of months now and he didn’t seem to think that was the proper course of treatment) and came up with a much nicer way of telling me that the right side of my body is all kinds of jacked up from toe to shoulder.

You guys, physical therapists are like magical mystery workers. He, like, tapped my foot and was all, “Do you have any toe pain?” and I was like, “YES! I haven’t told anyone because, you know, toe pain…that should probably resolve on its own right?…but I’ve been having stabbing pain radiating out from that very spot you are pointing at.”

Magical mystery workers.

Also, probably science and years of training. But mostly magic.

So, the dude has a plan that involves things like better posture and exercises at home and frequent visits to his office, but happily not things like surgery or mysterious toe pain for the rest of my life.

He asked if I had any questions and all I wanted to know was if I could run while treatment was ongoing. Joyously, the answer is yes. I’m allowed to run as long as it doesn’t hurt. I nodded, smiled, and gave two vigorous thumbs up at which time he added sternly, “It can’t hurt after you run either.”

*insert less vigorous thumbs up here along with a questioning face because doesn’t everyone hurt after running*

Long story short, I will likely have a month of easy, shortish, slow runs ahead of me. Not so bad really. So far, physical therapy is kind of awesome.

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.