Things I Have Carried While Running

I am especially pleased with myself when I run AND run errands at the same time.  Over the years I have transported quite a variety of items, including:

DVDs- back in the day you had to return them to blockbuster instead of put them in the mail in a little red envelope
books, from the library 
my ballot - because responsible athletes VOTE
bags of coffee

This was one of the more unusual ones- I ran to New Seasons & got a big loaf of olive ciabatta bread and then ran it home tucked under my arm like a football. It was awkward to carry, but quite light!

A 30 lb bag of dog food- I was pushing the kids in the stroller so I set it on top of the canopy, which made the stroller tip backwards every time I let go of the handle.  It was a beast of a load to push back home! 

Papa Murphys- again in the stroller. It would be way too conspicuous running down the road with a pizza in my arms.  

A basketball pump

Shoes- actually I didn't carry them, but I've run to the employee store at lunch & bought new shoes, recycled my old ones, and ran back to work in the new ones.  

Jelly sandals- these I did NOT run back in, but carried for a last minute birthday present for Jo.

And the most unusual combo I've ever carried was a pack of light bulbs & packaged guacamole.  One arm got a much better work out than the other one that evening.  


Happy birthday mom!

Wishing my mom a very happy birthday. You can't see it here but she wore her FUN pants for the special occasion today, and every gift she received was chocolate and almonds. Every day since her stroke is a gift and I am so thankful for them all- look at all the grand babies she has had since then! Love you so, so much mom!

Fisher of fish

My dad took Jo fishing. "We cut his face off because it doesn't taste good," she explained to me. She even ATE the fish, which has earned her way more street cred than the rest of us Stephens sissies.

Jo spent the night with my parents and she wore a crazy get up and packed every one of her 19 most precious belongings. Including her trick or treat pumpkin pail. It is nice to send her off for the night and know she is so excited to go fish, eat hot cakes, and soak up all the undivided attention she can get :)



Patty took this pic and I love it. This girl is so amazing that even after she (finally!) falls asleep at night we lay in bed and watch videos of her on our phones or laugh at the funny things she did that day. She has permanently introduced new words into our lexicon ('nuggle, 'parkle, tooterooter, and bonkahard). She sings moderately inappropriate song lyrics in public. When she gets shy she closes her eyes and raises her eyebrows (funny looking combo). She has a sensitive heart and sometimes cries when certain Mumford songs come on. She operates at a little higher anxiety level than I would prefer, for her sake. She calls her poppa and uncle jack to ask how cranes work or storm drains. Her biggest obsession right now is Curious George and pretending to have her stuffed animals pass out when the smell her breath or feet. Her fave food is waffles and syrup, she eats carrots and apples every day. She is perfect.


For her bday we got Jo a swing. My dad organized an effort by the men in the family to hang it, and tied the knots. Jo could swing for hours, and most of the time she swings she belts out the latest maroon 5 hit. She has knocked Rucker upside the head several times, almost fallen off as she tried to get her hair out of her face, and not yet knocked into the tree, Baylor, or fallen off (fingers crossed!$



Happy Mother's day to the two best mommas I know!

And the two newest mommas I know!

Things people say

I come from a consolidated lineage of people who believe you must speak first (at any cost, in any circumstance) and evaluate the emotional, political, or social impacts of your statements later (if ever).  By consolidated lineage, I mean my mother & brother.  Here are a few recent gems:

Mom: You're not stressed about Sunday (birthday party for Jo)? What are you going to serve? 
Me: I don't know yet.
Mom: Well you know a guest in your house is like a precious jewel on a pillow.  They are to be treated with care.
Me: (silence)
Mom: Well I think Katie is my real daughter because she knows how to host a party.

Jack: You better be careful or your house is gonna look like a shitty antique store.

I returned my mom's phone call and she says: Oh hi. Listen. I'm going to make this quick because I'm standing at the fridge. Hold on.
Me: You're the slowest quick conversationalist I've ever met.
Mom: [snorts]


Tips on Getting the Most Attention For Your Efforts (for Jack)

Jack is consistently dismayed at the amount of praise I get on facebook for our home improvement projects. I can't say I blame him.

Here's a project I did:

This project was technically quite complex.  I had to drive to Goodwill and find this blue vinyl stool.  Then I had to rip the vinyl off.  You can imagine the risk presented by all those old staples.  If I hadn't been careful I could have been poked.
Then I had to trek to JoAnn's craft store.  If I remember right (the memories of this project are foggy- I think I am repressing them) it was a FRIDAY night when I went.  You do NOT want to mess with JoAnn's on a Friday night.  That is when all the married 30-something's with kids who are finally asleep and 20-somethings without boyfriends, descend on this craft mecca.  It is insane. Watch out for the cutting line.
Anyhow- once I got my fabric I had to use a dangerous [manually] powered [staple] GUN to affix the new fabric to the stool.  It was touch & go for a while.

So I post stuff like that on facebook, and get 18 likes in 2 minutes or something.

Jack, on the other hand, does things like THIS:

That is the front wall of his house- removed entirely so he can install a new window & patch his house. And though it's not like he had to brave JoAnn's on a Friday night or anything, it definitely didn't get the facebook praise it deserved.

The problem with Jack is that he's not properly advertising his work.  I should know this because:
a) I have a degree in marketing from an accredited university
b) I have perfected the art of brogging (that is bragging on your blog.  A word I made up. See, even the way I explained that was a brog.)

So I thought I'd give Jack a few pointers for getting maximum attention and glory for the least amount of effort.  Here goes nothing.

Rule 1: NEVER post a evidence of your father doing work.

Only post the picture of the final product- and leave people to assume you completed the project without the help of your father.

Rule 2: Use "BEFORE" photos that invoke TERROR and FEAR.  Here's Jack's "before" kitchen picture.  Maybe the colors are a little dated...but it is clean and in good order.  I feel like eating when I look at it- not throwing up.

My solution? Sprinkle mouse terds for maximum effect.

Rule 3: To properly impart the impression that you are a HARD worker, you must not appear clean.  If it looks like you're on a HGTV show, you're doing it ALL wrong:

If it looks like a paint can exploded on you, you're doing it right. Bonus points if you have paint globs in your hair that you carefully avoid washing out so that everyone thinks you're a super intense painter.

Rule 4: Buying salvaged doors, refinishing them, trimming them, and then HANGING THEM is a lot of work.

Instead, just slap some dirt on the wall (for your before picture) then some 409 (for the after picture), post them side by side & call it a day in 10 minutes.

Rule 5: Set the bar LOW.  Your efforts are much more impressive if you make it clear that you drink coffee, type on a keyboard all day, and are generally incompetent

vs being employed as a professional plumber.

Rule 6: Think outside the box when it comes to photo evidence.  For example- here's Jack holding a level to make sure the subway tile he's carefully measured, cut and set is perfectly straight.  BORING.

Instead, temporarily strap a kid on your back & pretend to be climbing a tall ladder with some sort of tool or weapon in your hand.

I'll close with this:

Jack, you too can experience facebook fame (amongst your relatively small network of friends online) by: using photos that exaggerate the results of your work, taking credit for things your dad did, or generally just looking dirty and paint-covered.  Sprinkle in some faux humility and impressive words (status update example: "Just salvaged some old growth beams and reclaimed hardware to whip up a custom routed fireplace mantel- no big deal") and  you'll be getting likes & comments all day long.  I also recommend developing a network of friends who are not artisan woodcrafters, professional plumbers, or otherwise employed handymen.  It is much easier to impress your friends if they're the sort that don't carry a 5 in 1 on their person at all times for removing caulking/nails/scraping paint on the go. Best of luck in your endeavors, brother.