Giraffes vs. Team Stimey

Remember how I am teaching second graders about writing, because of my brilliant and age-appropriate writing style? Now I’m doing it in TWO classes, both Quinn’s class and for the teacher who taught Jack in second grade a couple of years ago. I started there this week. One of the kids in her class asked if I could be their substitute teacher AND I earned a star from the teacher. Plus, both classes thought my story that I wrote for them was awesome and that my drawings were really good.

Best day of school ever.

I figured that if 7-year-olds were into my story, you might be as well. Don’t worry, they’re smart 7-year-olds. I’m not underestimating you. Too much.

I showed them how I organized my writing and took notes and then I read my story to them. I chose giraffes, because they recently learned about giraffes as well. Unfortunately, some of their facts conflicted with mine. They were all too happy to tell me when that happened.

I originally wrote this with my last name attached instead of Team Stimey, so I had to make some adjustments. I may also have some commentary, [which I will include in bolded brackets].


Giraffes vs. Team Stimey [the comparison kind of “vs.”—not the fight kind of “vs.”]

Giraffes are very cool animals that have some similarities with Team Stimey, which is my family. [Really, I should have written “and differences,” but I didn’t reread it before I printed it out because I’m an awesome “teacher.”] Both are mammals and are pretty fun to have around, but giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals. They are often 14 to 19 feet tall. [The video the kids watched told them ALL GIRAFFES ARE 18 FEET TALL AND ANYTHING ELSE IS WRONG, INCLUDING YOUR GUEST FAMOUS BLOGGER—PLEASE BE SURE TO OBJECT TO HER HEIGHT RANGE ESTIMATE FOR GIRAFFES!] The tallest member of Team Stimey is just barely more than six feet tall. The shortest member of Team Stimey is Quinn.

Alex and Quinn vs. a giraffe

I accidentally made Quinn as tall as Alex, so then I had to put him on a box.

Because giraffes have such long legs, they can run really fast. They can run for up to 35 miles an hour for short distances and ten miles an hour for long distances. The fastest that a member of Team Stimey has ever run is six miles an hour. A giraffe could run faster than your car is allowed to drive on the street outside the school, so maybe if you’re in a hurry, you should ride a giraffe home.

I should be riding that giraffe.

Try not to notice that my face seems to have suffered a disfiguring jogging accident.

Team Stimey has five members, which is similar to giraffes. Giraffes roam grasslands in Africa in groups of about six.

Six giraffes ALMOST equals five Stimeys.

Six giraffes ALMOST equals five Stimeys.

[When I showed Sam that picture, he asked why one giraffe was in the tree. I guess I have to work on my perspective.]

Giraffes eat hundreds of pounds of leaves each week. Those leaves are mostly found at the very tops of trees, where most other animals can’t reach. Even Team Stimey can’t get that high—and most of them wouldn’t eat leaves even if they could.

Quinn liked this picture a lot.

Quinn liked this picture a lot. He was all, “Salad? Ick!”

Giraffe tongues are 21 inches long [even if the district-approved giraffe video claims that they are 18 inches long, wrecking my whole demonstration of showing how high up my arm 21 inches reached], which is almost as long as my arm. My tongue measures three and a half inches, which is exactly as long as my tongue. [Pro tip: sticking a measuring tape into the back of your throat is not recommended.]

Not to scale.

Not to scale. Also, kind of creepy.

If you couldn’t figure out that you are looking at a giraffe from its shape, you can tell because of its awesome spotted coat. No two giraffes have exactly the same pattern. That is something that is the same with Team Stimey. We all look kind of alike, but none of us are exactly the same.

Stimey and Quinn

This particular section might have worked better if Quinn looked anything like me.

I also discovered that giraffes are very cool. I think I’d like to see one close up. If any of you want to see a member of Team Stimey close up, Quinn will be playing four-square at recess.

[And that is how you write an awesome, factual essay featuring text elements and illustrations. BOOYAH!]


I can’t believe that I have never written about sleep habits over at White Knuckle Parenting. I finally got around to it this week. The takeaways: Newborns are jerks and never trust a toddler with a steak knife.

Let’s Not Have a Party—Let’s Have a Melee!

Imagine you got really lazy about planning your oldest son’s 11th birthday party and two weeks before the date, you realized that you had to GET ON THAT, STAT?! I imagine that being the smart person that you are, you would probably decide to invite a class of 26 students into your home in mid-October—a day that could be gorgeous or could be rainy—and you would plan activities like dodgeball, because WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THAT?

Well, YOU might not do that, but clearly *I* would.

I bought a bunch of small rubber balls and Alex picked the dog up and put her away so she wouldn’t steal all the Oreos and that’s what we did.

Cassidy was mightily put out.

The dog was all, “But I WANT Oreos!”

I would like to report that only one head injury was sustained.

That didn’t happen during dodgeball though. The head injury happened during the full-fledged melee that occurred when said class (about 15, plus my three, came) discovered our cache of Nerf weapons and assorted short swords. It was honestly like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was kind of like that scene at the very beginning of Fellowship of the Rings that explains about the Rings of Power and how that one ring ruled them all, except instead of Sauron and that king who didn’t want to throw the ring away, you had Sam and a bunch of his little cohorts fighting over nothing.


Warrior Sam

I actually took this photo much later in the day, shortly after the kids found the costume chest.

After the head injury (he’s okay), I wanted to calm the party guests down, so I put down a little line of cones, divided them into two teams and started up a few rounds of dodgeball. As you do.

No one got hurt or terribly upset during that whole thing, so I decided to move them on to Red Rover. Remember Red Rover? It wasn’t until kids started wringing their hands, loudly ranking their peers in order of weakness, and a couple of them got clotheslined that I remembered that I totally hated that game when I was a kid.

Regardless, it’s been passed on to a new generation that wasn’t aware of it before. Yay, me!

Fortunately, before I was able to introduce something else brilliant, like throwing knives, the pizza arrived and everyone chilled out and ate some food. Yet, as Red Rover follows dodgeball, cake follows pizza and the chill diminished. It has never happened to me before that I wasn’t able to clear a path to the table for the birthday kid to blow out his candles, but this time I was swarmed, so we had an impromptu standing ceremony.


Sure, we can do it here.

I think that the cake bottleneck happened partly because several kids were watching Mr. Free-fall From Space on the computer between our kitchen and dining room. Don’t forget that this was a party made up of Sam’s overachieving buddies from school. (It seems rude to call children that aren’t mine “nerdlingers.”)

Jack watches a free-fall from space

Don’t get any Xtreme Stuntz ideas, nerdlinger Jack.

I’m not kidding when I say the chill diminished. One girl was actually walking around saying, “Buzz, buzz! I’m buzzing! Buzz, buzz!” It looked a little bit like a spontaneous water fight was going to break out, so I quickly organized the troublemakers into teams for kickball. Not all the kids wanted to play, so Alex had to fill in at second base at one point. Dude. That guy can NOT catch a kickball.

It was embarrassing, really.

(I’m just trying to get you your loveable oaf credibility back, sweetie.)

Things were going pretty well. Sam was super happy, Quinn had run away to sneak time with his DSi…



…and Jack had departed to his sensory happy place…

Happy, happy, sand, sand, hammer, hammer, rock...

Happy, happy, sand, sand, hammer, hammer, rock…

…when Alex interrupted the kickball game practically mid-pitch to shriek, “HE’S GETTING READY TO JUMP! HE’S GETTING READY TO JUMP!” and 15 scientists-in-training went thundering into the house to watch a guy sit in a capsule for the next 15 minutes. Parents started arriving and I was all, “I swear we haven’t been making them watch this for the full two hours,” but I don’t know how convincing I was considering some of the kids really didn’t want to leave before the dude exited his capsule.

Alex is the HEAD nerdlinger.

Alex is the HEAD nerdlinger.

Oh, and I sent each kid home with his or her very own megaphone. Because I like to SHARE.


I’m the head jerk.

No matter how hastily tossed together, this party was a blast. Sam has such a good group of kids in his class. And the party was perfectly him. We all had such a great time. Happy birthday, Sam! Thanks for making life so fun!

birthday cat

Glitter cat makes everything awesome.

But Sam makes it awesomer.

The Turtle

I’m not going to keep you in suspense about my 8k race.

(1) I finished.
(2) I ran the whole thing.
(3) I finished 621st out of 627 runners.

Oh, yes, I did.

In case you are wondering, I am the turtle referred to in the title up there. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it sure as hell finished it. I am really, really (really) proud of myself.

Check me out as I crossed the finish line:

Stimey crosses the finish line!

Actually, this is me re-creating my crossing the finish line for my friend Barrie who was took this super flattering photo.

I had an amazing time. Alex took Jack to hockey and Quinn to gymnastics and I headed out to the race by myself. I was so happy though to have my own support team there to take care of me. My friend Lindsay was there with her kids to run the 2-mile fun run and they stayed for me. Amazing.

My friend Emily made a sign to cheer me on and she rooted for me from two different places on the race route. Phenomenal.

My friend Melissa decided to race too and she kicked some ass. I saw her run off in front of me at the start line. I didn’t see her again until the end. She’s my inspiration.

Lindsay and Melissa, each joined by her kids, ran me in the last stretch. It was really wonderful. Although I’m a little mad at Melissa’s daughter, however, for leaving me in her dust in the last meters before the finish line. Evidently, she is still claiming to have won the race. That’s her in that photo above. I think she might be wondering why *I* am having my photo taken when clearly *she* is the one who won.

Then there were the people who stayed on the race course long after the fast runners, medium runners, and slow runners went by to cheer on the stragglers. I got a little teary around mile four when I ran past, among others, a guy emphatically clapping for me on his porch. People are nice.

I also learned that if you are one of the laaaaaaast people across the finish line, everyone cheers really loud for you and your sticktoitiveness.

Support like that is even more awesome than 8-minute miles.

I mean, I assume. I wouldn’t know for sure. It’ll be a long time before I run an 8-minute mile.

An 8k is aaaaalllmost 5 miles and I ran it in about an hour and 12 minutes, which means I ran about fourteen-and-a-half minute miles, which sounds about right. The GPS on my phone thinks I ran farther and faster than I actually did, which makes me kind of love the GPS. I mean, it was awesome to hear in my headphones: “You have run one point zero miles at 13 minutes and four seconds per mile.” Once it got to five miles though, and I still had nearly a mile to go, I started to wonder about its accuracy.

Stimey's 5.71-mile 8k

There are many funky things going on in this phone screenshot.

Let’s start at the top.

(1) 5.71 miles? That would make me awesome, but I don’t think I zigzagged along the racecourse enough to add a whole three-quarters of a mile to the route. I might need to invest in a better, non-iPhone-app GPS.

(2) Run/Jog: At least it didn’t peg my speed as “walk,” but way to twist the knife a little, Map My Run, with that, “Well, you’re not reeealllly running, are you now, Stimey?” dig.

(3) Again with the 5.71 miles. Yes. I know. You think I’m awesome, but you don’t have to lie to me twice.

(4) I started and stopped the app a little on the outside of my run, which added the extra time, but I DO appreciate the little gold trophy. Maybe they gave it to me because I ran so many damn miles. (5.71 of them.)

(5) A Burt’s Bees Facebook contest?! I should click that!

I had to scroll down and take a different screenshot for my next set of stats.

Stimey's race stats

I know you’re bored. But if you let me get it all out today, then I won’t talk about it for the next six months.

I’m not sure at what point I was running nearly 18 miles an hour, but good for me! I think my 3:22 min/mi pace might put me in some record books too. Either I’m not smart enough to understand these stats, or I actually won the race and the reason I was running by myself was because I was so goddamned fast.

I’m going to go with the latter.

Frankly, even a 13 minute mile is pretty outlandish for me.

Okay. So thems the basics. Some other stuff happened too. Let’s see. Here are some of them:

• When I got a text from Alex 15 minutes before the race was too start I was all, “Awwww, he’s texting to wish me good luck!” But he was really texting me to find out if I knew the wifi password at the hockey rink. I eventually forgave him, but only because he toted the children around all morning and then rubbed my back later.

• When that racewalker passed me at the half-mile mark and I never saw her again, I started to realize that I run just about as fast as most people walk. In fact, my race friends (although I don’t think they knew that’s who they were) were two women, one who stayed mostly ahead of me and one who stayed mostly behind me, who were walk/running the race and stayed at just about the same pace as my steady shuffle.

• There was a short stretch of road near the midpoint turnaround where I actually saw other runners because we were running on the same road. I was excited to get to the turnaround and see how many people were behind me. Yes, a million people passed me and a million people started and stayed in front of me, but I was sure that I couldn’t possibly be the slowest runner to have registered for the race. I was right. There were…several racers behind me. Like, at least 10—as well as the truck that picks up collapsed runners and cones to reopen the streets. I felt a little bit like that truck was a vulture circling around me.

• Also, can we talk about water stations for a minute? I run with a water bottle, because it helps me to run, but I got a cup of water at both water stations because I don’t pass up anything that is free. My question is, can someone tell me how you’re supposed to drink from a cup when you’re running? Even if you’re running slowly? At the first table, I took the water and promptly spilled it all over myself. Then I tossed my cup on the ground with all the other cups and felt like a criminal for littering. I think throwing cups on the ground was the hardest part of my race. The only time I walked was at the second water station, when it took me about ten feet to drink my water. And then, because it was so late in the race, there was already a lady sweeping up the cups. So I had to basically throw my cup AT her, which made me feel not just like a criminal, but an asshole criminal.

• I am super awesome. I ran an 8k.

You just wait until next year, Kensington 8k. I’m coming for you. And next time, I’m going to be one of the first 600 people to finish.


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About Stimey

Jean WinegardnerStimey is mom to Sam/Katie, born October 2001; Jack, born May 2003, and Quinn, born May 2005. Katie was originally referred to as Sam, but once she came out as transgender, she changed her name to Katie and is referred to as such from there on in. Stimey is married to Alex, who is an attorney. For a long (looooong) time, Stimey was a stay-at-home mom. She loves parenting her diverse kids. Among us we have all kinds of autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. And we’re awesome.

Stimey was diagnosed as autistic in early 2012. She is now the office manager for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Stimey enjoys reading, writing, zombies, Bob Dylan, and filling out forms. She is a runner. She also likes small, amusing rodents.

Stimey’s work has been published in the following anthologies:

BlogHer'12 Voices of the Year ebook Thinking Person's Guide to Autism Easy to Love but Hard to Raise
CS for the SFrom the Heartautistic girl book

Email Stimey at: stimeyland at or follow her on twitter: Stimeyland is on Facebook at