Monthly Archives: March 2011

Holy Nerdiness Batman

Sometimes, I just have to sit in silent awe of the nerdiness of my household.  It is something to behold.  And I’m not talking about the whole “trendy geek” thing either.  This is the awkward sort of nerdiness that halts conversations and makes people intently interested in their jewelry or silverware, just to avoid eye contact.

Today, as Toby was leaving for the property, he said, “Adios, Percival Lowell” (much the same way MOST husbands would say, “’Bye, sweetie”) and gave me a kiss. 

Now, I’m used to being called Percy Wales, but that’s generally not a term of endearment.  He uses that one when I’m frustrated and my lips are pursed up like the north end of south bound horse.  He also calls my purse Percy Wales so it can get a bit confusing, but I’m used to Toby calling me and everyone else (and everything) oddball names. 

Percival Lowell still surprised me.  Who?

I guess I should be flattered to be called by the name of a brilliant mathematician/astronomer.  That whole “began the effort that eventually led to the discovery of Pluto” is HOT!   Or at least it was, until Pluto’s membership to the planet club was so rudely revoked.  The mustache was a thing of beauty. And he was an author.  But I wouldn’t mind if Toby occasionally used pop culture references when referring to me.  I would totally answer to Sofia Vergara…


Filed under Uncategorized

Chuck Norris and the Friendly Ghost

Roper is like Chuck Norris; he doesn’t sleep, he waits. 

For most of his life, I’ve been worried that Roper doesn’t require as much sleep as normal babies.  He would get maybe eight hours a night and wasn’t really interested in napping.  But in the last couple months he’s been giving sleep a solid effort with positive results.  As in, his parents haven’t killed him.

I have recently come to realize that Roper is FAKING sleep.  He’s in there waiting.  I guess staying alive is a pretty big payoff for playing quietly in his crib for a couple of hours.  This is probably the time during which he goes over the logistics of his short and long term Evil Plans.

Roper’s room is right above our living room.  Last night, as we watched YET ANOTHER nerdy documentary about space travel, we heard a bunch of thumping around as if a grown man were jumping up and down. In Roper’s room.  Outside of his crib.  So, Toby and I did what we always do, looked at each other blankly and turned the volume up on the movie. 

But it kept happening, and sounded somewhat menacing.  We turned on the baby monitor and (what, you keep yours on?  Here’s your parenting trophy.  Yay!) EERY SILENCE.  So we went back to watching the movie.   It must have been our apartment neighbors moving their furniture, right?

As Toby headed up to bed and passed Roper’s room, I heard a very enthusiastic “HI!” from our son.  He was in his crib, wide awake and very happy.  I sent Toby to bed and brought Roper down to watch cartoons.  The cartoons that are bearable only because of the token adult humor injected in them.  After an hour, Roper was still happy as a clam, wide awake and talking up a storm. 

I put him in his crib.

You guys, that kid was up past 1am — laughing and talking and jumping in his bed.  And he was up when I got up.  And he’s almost always awake when I get up.  If I sneak in his room he’ll do a belly flop into his crib and try to pretend he was sleeping. 

Toby was asleep during Roper’s big party last night, but I had to wake him up to tell him that his son was playing with a ghost.  Yep, a ghost.  Because after 9pm, I am irrational and enjoy creeping myself out.  But also, because I’ve been convinced since we moved in that we are sharing the house with someone.  Someone who plays with Roper’s toys at night and doesn’t put them back where he found them.  Probably the same someone who uses all of the toilet paper and leaves me with nary a square.

So I wake up Toby to tell him I have the heebs from listening to his son talk, laugh and play with a ghost all night. He humors me for a bit and then mumbles something like (and this is a rough translation), “Don’t piss off the ghost because he’s doing us a favor” and rolls back over.  Commence snoring.

So there you have it.  We have a friendly ghost who entertains Roper all night and/or my son is Chuck Norris, biding his time. 

Speaking of…here are some of my favorite Chuck Norris facts.

These are good too.


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Grandma Bee

Skiing in style

I was scanning some old pictures today and started thinking about my Grandma Bee (my dad’s mom).  She died when I was four, so my memories of her are few and fuzzy – like most things originating in my brain.  But her legacy has loomed large in the minds of her grandchildren and everyone whose life she touched.

She and Grandpa lived in Ardenvoir, in the house my parents now live.   Grandma named the house Hog Hollow; I always thought it was because of her deplorable housekeeping skills, but apparently it’s a reference to an old comic strip.  The house was originally called “Bee’s Folly” during the construction phase. 

All the grandkids would converge on Hog Hollow in the summer.  What a brave woman to take on six feral kids!  We loved those weeks of freedom and adventure, and Grandma loved her time with the kids.

My favorite memories of her are the times when all of us kids were splashing around in the pool with her and she’d suddenly decide it was time for a ride through the Mystic Maze.  She’d jump out of the pool, pull on her “snake boots” and pile a bunch of us on her little motorcycle for a ride through the trails she made.  It still makes me laugh thinking about her in just a swimsuit and big rubber boots, with several dripping wet kids piled on a motorcycle, riding through the trees alongside the Entiat river.  What a kick!

With dad (I think) in the hammock

Grandma was an artist and a free spirit.  I cherish stories from her friends about how she’d put Grandpa in his place, or needle him into being less regimented.  She was an amazing gardener, an avid traveler and skier, and quite the artist.  I have a painting (in storage) that she did of me when I was about Roper’s age.  I had blond hair with a few little curls and the giant lips I seem to have passed down – I want to dig it out to see if it looks as much like Roper as I remember.

Grandma used to call me “Blue Bird.”   I have no idea why. I was always impatient to get to Cooper’s Store (probably so I could sneak candy and slide down the ramp from the kitchen to the basement) so I’d start walking down the long driveway without her.  Eventually, I’d get tired and stop to pick wild flowers on the side of the hill until Grandma came by in the pickup truck.  She’d swing open the passenger door and say “There’s my Blue Bird!  Hop in” and off we’d go to the store.

I love looking through the few pictures I have of Grandma Bee.  In the pictures she is always simply stylish – often wearing men’s trousers when everyone else was in long dresses – and has this air of unflappable self-confidence.  She was OWNING it.

Grandma Bee and Grandpa Chuck

Grandma died in a plane crash in July of 1978.  My parents, brother and I were hiking the Chilkoot trail, and Grandpa and Grandma were flying their plane up to meet us.  They crashed in the Yukon, and I remember Canadian Mounties meeting us on the trail to tell us of the accident.  Grandpa survived, but the crash took his eyesight.  To his credit, he kept the tradition of having all of the grandkids over in the summer.  Brave man – but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

I wish I had known Grandma Bee longer – I like to think we would have enjoyed each other’s company and had some entertaining stories of our own to tell.  I know she would have lectured me about worrying too much.  She was a firm believer in enjoying the journey of life and not giving a tiny rat’s arse what other people thought of it!

Me, Dad, Jeff and Anna on Grandma's motorcycle


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Perception of Danger

Everyone has a different perception of what is considered dangerous.  I gather from the feedback of my posts and emails, my definition of dangerous is vastly different from the definition most of you would use.  Apparently, you guys wouldn’t dream of taking your infant mountain biking, letting him drive the backhoe, or tossing him as far above your head as possible.  Weird.  You also might not let him eat unidentified food off the floor.  Everybody’s different and that’s cool.

The part that might surprise you is that Toby thinks I’m overprotective at times.  I hope your eyes just widened and your jaw dropped when you realized I’M THE VOICE OF REASON in this family.  I’m the one who has to say (or hiss through clenched teeth) how about if we tone down the e-brake slides through the icy city streets, and falling down a flight of stairs to a cement floor is not a good lesson because he will not survive to learn the lesson!

I’m the first to admit that I don’t treat Roper with kid gloves either.  From the day he was born, Roper has been strong, stubborn, and a thrill seeker.  He’s going to make a fabulous bull fighter someday.  We wrassle with him, toss him around, and play “Roper bowling” which entails trying to knock him down by rolling a giant exercise ball at him.  You guys, he LOVES it.  Grins, giggles, delighted shrieks – the works.

So, when we went to the Family Expo a few weeks ago, we were pretty excited to take Roper down the giant inflatable slide.  LUCKILY, we saw a circus act, attended a concert and checked out of the booths before going to the slide, because this story ends in a hasty exit.

I decided to take Roper down the slide first because I’m just a giant kid and didn’t want to miss out on any fun.  First of all, trying to climb a flimsy little ladder designed for seven-year-olds is dang near impossible for an adult with a bad knee, bad shoulder (I can’t wait until Medicare buys me a Little Rascal scooter) while carrying a 27-pound package of pure rebellion.  That, in itself, was quite a spectacle.

I let Roper go down first and then I followed.   

It seemed like everyone had a good time so Toby got back in line with Roper.   The Little Tyrant proceeded to pitch a fit and kept trying to push his way past other kids.  He did NOT want to wait in line.  Once they were back on the ladder, the grins and giggles came back.   Toby sent Roper down on his belly and they both thought that was hilarious.  Toby and I alternated a couple more times on the slide, with Roper screaming furiously between each turn.

Roper adores his dad to no end – they have a bond that melts my heart daily.  However, Roper doesn’t realize that he should probably be in some sort of protective suit whenever Toby is in charge. 

Toby decided we were “coddling” our son.  As I walked around to the front of the slide to watch Roper come down, I see Toby TOSS him head first down the slide.  As in, FLYING THROUGH THE AIR*.   It was a bad landing, followed by some tumbling, much crying (Roper) and angry swearing (me).  

I tore into Toby like only a Scared Mother can.  Cue the hasty exit…sorry for the language lesson kids!

I realize now why kids are given two parents.  The dad’s job is to rough house with them and toughen them up, and the mom’s job is to backhand the dad when he crosses the line.  I think we’re both doing our respective jobs well.

* The terminology of this event is still under debate.  Toby believes “shoved” would be a more accurate description of what went down.


Filed under Parenting, Roper


I have a bad attitude towards McDonald’s. I really do. But I recently learned that Mickey D’s Playland is a great place for certain cracked-out little monkeys to burn some energy while I enjoy a coffee.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity for me to catch up with my friend Kim H. after we take our kids to music class. She has two kids, I have a kid, we both like caffeine and we seem to be living parallel lives as freelance writers who happen to be freak magnets – how could this NOT be a good idea?

Roper and Blane mastering the little slide

If you follow this blog at all, you know what’s coming: another installment for the Best Bad Idea files.

I’ll go ahead and dissect the first paragraph so it’s clear why this started out as a bad idea (yes, of course it gets worse). Here are the rough translations:

a)      After music class: The time immediately following being humiliated and traumatized by both having to sing out loud in public and by my son’s behavior.

b)      She has two kids, I have a kid: The adults are now outnumbered by the kids, and there are as many exits as kids. No bueno.

c)       We both like caffeine: We both desperately need an IV drip line of coffee because neither of us slept all week and, oh yeah, IT’S FRIDAY – the official day of zero patience. Unfortunately, there will be no drinking of said coffee due to the previously stated reason of being outnumbered.

d)      Freelance writers: We should be at home working toward deadlines.

e)      Freak magnets: Everywhere we go, strangers act as if they’re our BFFs and accost us with the all-together-too-personal details of their lives while the boys slip out one of the exits and head to the gas station to buy cigarettes and a forty of Old E.

I realize there are a lot of you out there with 3.5 kids who are easily navigating the wacky world of Playland on your own, and without coffee. Your hair probably looks cute too. Let me be clear, I AM NOT YOU. As if that wasn’t already obvious. So I decided to make things worse. Instead of letting Roper continue playing on the “little kid” side of Playland, I decided to let him go into the big structure.

People, this meant I HAD TO GO WITH HIM. Ta da! I present to you this month’s Best Bad Idea.

Before it all went wrong

I started up the enclosed, narrow, spiral staircase after Roper, and immediately seventeen kids piled in after us and surrounded us. Not only am I a Freak Magnet, but I’m apparently the Pied Piper as well. I tried to get the other kids to pass us and continue up, but the spectacle of a tall lady trying to climb stairs while in the fetal position was too intriguing to pass. Did I mention I’m claustrophobic and a teeny bit creeped out by throngs of small people? I SO am.

Cue the Modified Stationary Panic, soon to be followed by the Full Bore Linear Panic. (If you don’t already read McManus, you should. Funny guy)

Unfortunately, Roper unexpectedly hit the turbo button before I could fully engage in the FBLP. He took off like a rocket up the stairs and into upper structure with eleven of the seventeen other critters in his wake. Suddenly there was a sea of small people between me and my terribly stubborn adrenaline junkie.

You guys, have you ever been in one of those structures? It’s a total maze and everything is on different levels with cars and bulldozers and most likely a full-scale carousel with real horses – but I didn’t make it into that room. So I found myself desperately crawling on my stomach under platforms packed with small people, trying to grab the cuff of Roper’s pants so I can stop him. Writing that sentence just made my heart rate skyrocket; there were way too many personal fears manifesting in one small space. The only thing that would make it worse would be letting a couple of birds lose in the structure. Birds terrify me.

I was finally able to grab Roper (who, by the way, was having the time of his LIFE) and pull him to me. I then stiff-armed my way through a passel of critters to get to the slide. My sweet escape! But then I had to face yet another fear: What if I’m too wide for the enclosed slide and get stuck? Can you imagine? All the kids would be crying because they couldn’t get down, and Kim would have to call the fire department to come extract me. NIGHTMARE.

Actually, the slide was kind of fun. We made it out and, not having learned from that event, I found myself in the exact same predicament the next time we visited McDonald’s.

P.S. Before leaving, one of the seventeen critters (not my own) that experienced this ordeal with me, walked up and said, “Love you, Mama.”  I almost started lactating again.


Filed under Best Bad Ideas, Parenting, Roper

Barely Legal

Little Bear,

On Wednesday you turned eighteen months old.  Most people would say “a year and a half,” but even when you’re eighteen YEARS old, your letter will start out with “today you are 216 months old.”  Obnoxious, I know.  You might notice that trend in your letters – your mom is a wee bit embarrassing.

This is the latest I’ve ever been with one of your letters.   I want you to know that I did START it on Wednesday, but then we had a very special visitor (T-bird) stay with us and I was way too busy having fun to finish the letter.  Not to mention the fact that you’re going through a non-sleeping phase which means none of us are sleeping.  AT ALL.  Sleep deprivation makes it hard for me to write you a sweet letter.  Had I not waited, this letter would probably be filled with inappropriate language and offers to trade you for a bag of fresh coffee beans.  Grandma and Papa Bear saved the day and picked you up last night so I could get a full night’s sleep.  I like you a lot more today.

You are still incredibly social and love to wave and say “hi” or “bye” to random people.  Especially to people driving by in a store parking lot.  You even say “hi” on the phone and play peek-a-boo with people on Skype.  You draw a crowd wherever you go and I should start teaching you about Stranger Danger because YOU’RE THE KID WHO WILL GET IN THE VAN.  With a big grin on your face.  

Instead of walking, you usually run everywhere and with great intention.  Usually you’re waving your arms and pointing while giving a very emphatic oration.  We have no idea what you’re saying.  I’m not sure we want to know

You became very sick this month and were almost hospitalized.   On most days, your Indian name should be Cries-When-Breeze-Blows-On-Skin.  If someone looks at you wrong, you fall on the floor wailing.  However, you don’t seem to complain when you have a real problem.   If you tumble down the stairs, you shrug it off and pick up whatever you dropped on the way down.

Your dad and I knew you were sick because you had a high fever for several days, but you were such a trooper that we weren’t too concerned.  In fact, you still did crazy things like climbing a ladder all the way to the top even at your sickest.   When I (finally) took you in to the doctor, they initially weren’t going to let us go home.  You had a double ear infection, bronchiolitis and you were having a hard time breathing.  Luckily, you responded well to the breathing treatments and made such a rapid recovery that even the doctors were impressed.  Well done!

When you are tired, you melt into my arms with your head in my neck and your hands down by your sides.  It melts my heart.  When you’re scared, you hug my leg like a little koala bear.  You like to back yourself into my lap when I’m sitting down – usually with a book in your hands — but mostly you like to be a free range roamer.  When you’re happy, you light up the room and your new laugh sounds an awful lot like Fat Albert.

You have your mama’s quick temper and on play dates you’ve been known to point and yell at kids, grab toys, and hit.  Throwing food is your way of letting us know you’re done.  You’re definitely testing the boundaries, and you’re learning that your dad and mama are strict.    Your trike is your favorite toy and it makes you positively furious that your legs aren’t quite long enough to pedal it.  After yet another failed attempt you’ll get off, yell at the trike, push it over, and then run to a wall to pound on while you cry.  It’s entertainment for the rest of us.

Some random tidbits:  An infatuation with Hot Wheels, motorcycles and anything with a steering wheel has grown exponentially over the last month.  This makes your parents VERY happy.  You took what can only be described as a giant Man-Dump in the tub the other day – I can handle almost anything, but I had to put your dad to work on that one.  You’ve learned to open more doors and I keep expecting you to sneak out at night and hit the bars.  You helped me decorate Valentine’s Day cards by doing all of the stamping (a fun and productive way to take out your frustrations) and you went on your first field trip to a fire station.  You went to a kid’s concert, the Home Show, helped at the property and discovered Apple Valley Gymnastics.  You still love to draw.

The biggest event, however, is that your Oma and Opa moved to town!   They will live here during the warm months (May – October) and they’re so excited to be able to spend more time with you.  You had a blast playing with your cousins while we helped The Outlaws move in.  There are some fun times ahead!

Little Bear, I am so proud to be your mom.  You bring me such joy and I cherish the opportunity to spend each day with you, watching you learn about the world you live in.   


Your Mama

P.S. Here’s a three-second video of you coming down the slide at the Family Expo:  VIDEO


Filed under Letters to Roper, Roper