Tag Archives: Letters to Roper


DSCN0433Dear Roper,

You want a brother. You want to know how babies get in ladies’ bellies. You’re absolutely furious that you can’t grow a mustache. Some days you’re scared of your underpants. You want to swing higher than physics allow, and laugh hysterically when I can’t keep up with you on foot when you’re riding your bike. You’re hungry – always so hungry. You want to know what bees eat. When it’s chilly outside you instruct me to call the Fire Department and tell them to warm it up.

DSCN0424For a week you sported a giant tattoo that said “bookish” which I adored because I grew up with my nose in a book. You were so proud of that tattoo and showed it to everyone. It left a HILARIOUS tan line.  You planted a flower bulb in preschool and sang to it the whole way home, coaxing it to grow and promising it water and sunshine. When we go to a park, you’re a little reserved at first and then make fast friends telling them, “You’re so cool,” “You did a really good job,” and, “Be careful, I don’t want you to get hurt.” You can now ride a pedal bike!

I am so proud of the creative, courageous and kind Little Man you’re becoming.

You are starting to look a little more like your dad, but you’ll always be my Mini Me. You know you can crack me up by saying, “Don’t let the beat mmmmmmm….drrrrrOPP!” in Beastie Boys style. You manipulate me with your ability to make me laugh. You manipulate me, period.

P1060865You can write your name. We had no idea – you kept coming home from preschool with artwork signed by a very shaky hand, but we assumed your teachers were helping you because you wouldn’t draw so much as a circle for us. And then I offered to write your name on Oma’s Mother’s Day card. You became enraged and yelled, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!”  And you did. You wrote your name very clearly on that card and everything else you can get your hands on.

You love to wrestle. Violently.

You are growing tall and your legs are long. I think you’ll take after your mama and earn the nickname “bird legs” by the time you hit elementary school. One morning you told me, “I growed up to be a man last night. I just did that.” I thought you meant that you grew taller overnight, but you were using it as a negotiation tool. “So I can have fire, Mama? Just a little bit of fire?” No, Little Bear, not even a little bit.

You are honest. Brutally honest. When your dad sang a little song for you in the car you announced, “That was a really terrible song, Dad. Awful.” And after I had a particularly difficult day and your dad was comforting me by reminding me of all the people who love me, you sidled up to me and (very creepily) whispered in my ear, “Your mom is dead.” Ummmm…NOT HELPFUL.

DSCN2107For all of your rough and tumble, you are equal parts tender and perceptive. You worry about people. One day after leaving Papa Bear’s house you said, “Papa Bear doesn’t have a friend up at the house. He doesn’t get to have Nanny anymore, so he’s lonely. Maybe Nanny will get better and come back from heaven.”  OK, so it’s possible that you misunderstood the whole Easter/resurrection thing and applied it to everyone in general. But it is so incredibly sweet to hear that you’re thinking about other people and how they might be feeling.

And you don’t have to worry about Papa Bear – he has YOU as his little buddy.

You are resilient and adaptive and have handled all of the crazy changes in our lives with far more grace than I have. You and your dad were bachelors for two weeks while I was in Africa, and then you spent time with both grandpas while Daddy and I were in Belize. Although it causes me great anxiety to leave you for any length of time, you are so blessed to have such amazing role models in your life.

2013-03-06 12.17.37However, with our parenting, you pretty much have ZERO chance of fitting in at school (in our defense, we’ve started a therapy fund). When we’re home alone, I raise you on a steady diet of Janis Joplin and Elmore James. You’ve picked up your dad’s weird Tobyisms, you think it’s OK to fart on people, and you use gigantic words that no three-year-old should use. You are so completely, emphatically and defiantly YOU. And although I could do without the defiant part, I hope you never completely tame that personality of yours. It’s a keeper – just like you.

I love you, Little Bear. To the moon and back, times infinity. Plus a little more each and every day.


Your Mama



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37 Prime (yeah!) Months

Dear Roper,

You are now thirty-seven months old. As usual, you have kept us on our toes. So has Mother Nature – our beautiful valley has been on fire for most of this month. The day before the fires started (from a stunning lightning storm) we all went biking on the Sage Hills trails. It was the first time all three of us were on wheels together and you, my dear, rocked it. Two days later, we could see walls of flames sweeping across those very hills. Tragically beautiful. You’ve been very worried about “your” trails ever since.

With the fires came smoke, and with the smoke came extremely hazardous air quality. This meant no outside play. For the record, I think it’s FAR more dangerous to have the two of us locked up in the house together for days on end than to be outside in the smoke. Tempers were short. When you get mad you literally throw yourself against the wall, belly flop on the floor, hit, kick, throw, scream, and rage about. It’s something to behold. My tantrums look pretty similar, but I have a tad more flair.

Don’t worry, it comes with experience. I’ve got a few years on you.

The silver lining to the fires and poor air quality (aside from your apparent albuterol highs) is that we got to take some pretty fun trips together in search of clean air. You’re great company on a road trip. You “read” your books for long periods of time, you have an eagle eye for spotting interesting things along the way, and you make up wildly hilarious songs.

Boo and Heeed were the first to take us in (after I promised to teach you that cops are bigger heroes than firefighters). You loved playing with the dogs and riding on the lawnmower. We even got to watch pumpkin chunkin with trebuchets and visit the reptile zoo. In a word, AWESOME. I love listening to you and Boo talk about anything and everything. Watching you work your way into the Big Man chair to nestle under Heeed’s arm reminded me that you’re still a little guy under all of that big boy bravado.

After a few days back in the smoke we drove over the passes again to stay with Ang and your three “cuzzies” for a couple of days.  You love being around those kids. So much so, that I almost feel bad for not providing you with siblings. AND THEN I REGAIN MY SANITY. You harassed the girls, and tried to sleep in their room. You and Hawkeye had jumping contests and played with cars. You all sprawled on the couch like a pile of puppies. Little Bear, you thrived in the chaos. But you didn’t sleep. At all.

I’m still holding a grudge – consider yourself warned.

From there, we rented an old farmhouse with Erin, Justin and baby Liam. Your dad was able to join us for the weekend and we relished every moment! The house was on a working farm and you fed the calves, pigs and sheep. Sheer delight. We visited (and were kicked out of) a pumpkin patch. T-bird paid us a surprise visit. The whole weekend was beautiful, relaxing, and full of clean air. Our lungs sung! On the way home we took you mountain biking and you impressed us with your enthusiasm and moxie. Your skills will surpass mine far too fast.

Roper, you are a VERBAL NINJA. You’ve learned that you can stop us in our tracks, make us laugh, and yes, stab us right in our hearts with just your words. The power! You play and experiment with language and rhyme. I have to admit that the writer in me is stoked – even when you’re using your words for evil – because dude, you have mad craft for a little guy.

Some of my favorite quotes from this month:

– After being reprimanded for deliberately and defiantly coughing right in our faces. “My heart grew so big that it blew out of my mouth.”  I have to give you points for creativity on that one.

– Out of the blue, while we were at Boo’s house. “Mama, why don’t you trade in your vagina and get a penis so you can be like daddy and me?”  So. Many. Reasons.

– Screamed from the back of the car. “I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, and I’m FRAGILE!”  Me too. Only now I have a 38-inch-tall tyrant screaming at me from the back seat. NOT HELPING.

– To Erin, when we were staying at the farmhouse:  “I’m growing up right now. Like a little flower.” Most kids grow like a weed. You grow like a flower. If you didn’t sweat straight testosterone, I would read more meaning into this.

– Near Stevens Pass, while we let you steer the car by yourself on a back road. “I need some MUSIC!” Because driving a car isn’t enough for you, you need a soundtrack. Incidentally, this activity isn’t recommended for three-year-olds. But it was safer than it sounds. Stop judging. STOP.

– When I tried to get you to eat the gummy bear in your hand so you could continue biking: “You carry your friend in your belly. That’s not very nice – he can’t see in there. I want to carry my friend in my hand so he can see.” I will carry all of your friends in my belly if you don’t watch it.

You will repeat high-fives until you get a satisfactory slap, you love riding your bike after dark with a headlamp, and you dress up as Superman to run errands. You sound like a maniac when you laugh and you’re always up for an adventure – which is good because I’m always planning one.

You were on the cover of the Wenatchee World again. I think it’s safe to say you’re a media whore – I might start renting you out. Little Bear, there is something about you that captures and engages people. I always tell friends you’ll either end up famous or infamous, we’re not sure which. I won’t lie; you are a difficult child to raise. You’re smart, stubborn, destructive, manipulative and FAST. But you make up for all of that in spades with your giant heart, sweet disposition, quirky sense of humor and complete-party-package personality.

You bring light and laughter to so many people and I only hope that we reflect it back to you. I love you Little Bear. To the moon and back, times infinity.


Your Mama


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Dear Roper,

Congratulations – you just completed your third trip around the sun! You are now 36 months old. (Editor’s note: you’re now 36 months AND A WEEK …. your mama is a slacker)  You have brought so much joy, laughter and love into our lives. But it’s been a wild ride. Possibly three of the craziest years of my life. Not just because of you – although you’ve added your share of crazy – but because we’ve had so many other big things going on in our lives. Like building a house, dealing with major health issues, and trying to keep our marriage from derailing in the chaos.

Through all of the bumps and hiccups along the way YOU help keep us on target. Having you in our lives reminds us to look beyond ourselves and remember what’s important. The other day, after your dad said “no” to one of your many requests, you came and asked me the same question. I said no as well and you asked, “Why you say no, too? Why are you and Daddy a team?” That’s right, your dad and I are on the same team. And we’re ready to paint our faces and wave foam fingers if that’s what it takes to win.

Some days I view raising you as an extreme sport. You, my sweet, sweet boy, can be quite a handful. You are smart, strong-willed and wild. We can’t tire you out. We take you for miles-long bike rides or hikes, and you will come home even more energetic. At times, you appear to be vibrating with excess energy and personality. And then you bust out dance moves, air punches and somersaults. Yes, even in the tub.

You speak like a five-year-old. From the backseat you will ask, “Why are there so many bad drivers?” You wander upstairs and say, “I just came up to see if you need any help.” When your dad physically removes you from whatever destruction you were dispensing you howl, “Ohhhhhh, my poor little heart! My poor little heart!”  When you’re done with a breathing treatment (which you run yourself) you give a big sigh and say “Phew! THAT was hard work.”

You also speak like the newly minted three-year-old that you are with your, “I toot-toot on your face! HAHAHA!” and your, “Macaroni, applesauce, poopy diaper! Haaaaa! Did you hear that? Poopy diaper! That’s FUNNY!” And then you do a little dance where you stick out your bum-bum out and shake it while pointing at it.

THAT. That’s why we don’t take you out in public as often these days.

Little Bear, you have put the smackdown on several big milestones in the last month. You’re now fully potty trained – you don’t even wear a pull-up at night!  The first night we decided to let you go commando, we weren’t really thinking. You had dinner at your Oma and Opa’s house where you proceeded to drink seventeen liters of juice while I wasn’t looking. Yikes. You woke up in the middle of the night and proceeded to complete an obstacle course (in pitch dark) that would make the Warrior Dash look tame. When you finally reached the bathroom, you couldn’t reach the light. You came into our bedroom, flicked on our light and stood there starting at us with the intensity of a man who had given his all to climb a mountain, only to realize it was a false summit.

Dude. You’re a camel. We could see how desperate you were by the look in your eyes, but also by the little trail of dribbles that marked your earlier path. When we finally got you on the toilet you peed for approximately twenty-seven minutes. Bravo, my man. BRAVO. You have gone commando every night since without any accidents.

You gave up your binky! You were given your first binky when you were less than a day old and putting in your time in the NICU. We spent the next two years trying to get you to go without it for two minutes so we could take a picture of you without that thing stuffed in your face. Eventually, we were able to get you to only use it while sleeping…and then we started cutting them. You alternated between thinking this was a cool “big boy” thing, and thinking we were trying to snuff out your will to live. For months we talked about how three-year-olds don’t use binkies. Apparently that worked because you gave them up for good a few days before your birthday. Did I mention that three-year-olds also clean toilets? No? Well, they do.

You quit taking naps. Also known as Your Worst Idea Ever. You’ll take a nap for anyone except me. Do you have a death wish, SON? I have explained to you many times over that I am an unlikely mom and need a little of my own time when I can work, use my brain, and engage in the world. Do. Not. Take. This. From. Me.  I think we’ve come to an agreement about you taking a little afternoon quiet time in your room…sometimes you accidentally fall asleep. And I strut around the house beating my chest and shouting “THAT. JUST. HAPPENED!” Except I don’t shout because I don’t want to wake you. I just mouth the words with exaggerated emphasis.

You started a new preschool. We camped at the property. You had a weekend with Papa and Nanny. You went to Hood Canal with the whole herd of Steere (minus your mama and daddy because we were visiting the happiest place on earth – Whistler Bike Park). You spent a fun-filled day down at Crescent Bar. You caught another fish and collected more cars. You were celebrated by both sides of your family on your birthday – you are so loved!

It’s been an adventure, Little Boy – the past month, the past year, the whole ride. And I would not trade in one single moment. Yes, I complain about your stubbornness and poke fun at your temper, but I would much rather have a spirited child than a passive child. I love you when you’re furious and manipulative, and when you’re sweet and hilarious. I love every bit of you from your fuzzy white-blond hair down to your adorably filthy toes.  I love you ALWAYS. And that will never change.

I’m so blessed and honored to be your mama, Little Bear. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings – what you’ll learn and what you’ll teach us. I think about your future and can’t help but smile. Thank you for bringing all of your joy, energy and upheaval into our lives. And for putting up with our cuddles and kisses when you really just want to PLAY.


Your Mama

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Thirty-four and NOT a bore

Dear Roper,

Sweet boy. You are a little shoehorn, stretching my heart more and more each day. You remind me of what is important in life. You also remind me that I should never use salty language in front of you because you will repeat that choice phrase – verbatim and at peak volume – while tearing around the grocery store.

I’m sorry for hiding in the ice cream aisle and pretending you were not mine.

You had a big month, buckaroo. Your Papa Bear and Nanny took you to a fishing derby and you caught a 5.5lb trout! I would show you a picture, but your grandparents DON’T BELIEVE IN CAMERAS. However, we did get to eat the trout. It was trout-y.

You also went to the theater to watch Madagascar 3 on the big screen and you were completely and adorably enamored. Personally, I enjoyed the fact that you’re too small for the seat and it kept folding up and trying to eat you. And guess what? I (gasp!) bought you a DVD. I thought it was time you saw the movie Cars since you’re so enamored with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater on your underpants. I don’t normally let you watch much, but I kind of have a crush on Tow Mater, too.

Dude. DUDE. You are bursting at the seams with personality. We will be walking through a store and you will spontaneously do a running-start somersault in the middle of the aisle. First off….AWESOME! Also, OUCH.  Those floors are hard. But it doesn’t faze you.

Not much fazes you.

With the help of a little life jacket-y  thingy, you learned to swim the length of the pool.  You are an enthusiastic little water baby. (Ahem…I meant Big Boy. You graduated into pre-school this week. Mama’s still a little sad about that)  Actually, you’re pretty adamant that you HATE water until we coax you into it. And then you never, ever, EVER want to get out again. Because you’re too busy drinking the water.

Little Bear, you add so much joy to our lives that sometimes I’m sad that you’ll be my only baby. But then I remember that you went to the top of the McDonald’s play structure (and we all know that Mama hates that play structure) and pooped yourself silly. You were too mortified to move so I had to crawl up there, on my poor decrepit knees, and rescue you.

It was hard to maintain dignity while hauling you out of there, but sweetie, I would do it again. It broke my heart to see you upset and stuck. Obviously, that doesn’t stop me from sharing that event with the world. Is now a good time to remind you that we replaced the college fund with a therapy fund?

Your dad went on his big motorcycle ride with the guys this month and I made it my goal to have as much quality, fun time with YOU as possible. And Little Bear, we missed Daddy but we had a blast! You’re always good company. You make me laugh, you make me think, and you challenge me to grow every day. You also challenge my patience.

I love you, Roper. Today, more than yesterday. Tomorrow, more than today.


Your Mama

P.S. You remind me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes


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Steroids, Trees and Garbage Trucks

Little Bear,

You are now twenty-seven months and by far our favorite son. You’re also our only son, so that makes things a little less awkward. Yay!

You started out the month with a mixture of croup and the flu. Honestly , that mixture isn’t nearly as fun as a gin and tonic, or a stinger, but it was more exciting. We knew you were sick, but you play and act normal until you crash. And boy did you crash.

I called your doctor’s office and they said “Knowing your son, you should go straight to the walk in.” So, we got to visit the walk-in clinic and they promptly rushed you to the ER with a 105 degree temperature and trouble breathing.

They gave you tylenol, motrin, epinephrine and steroids. During your breathing treatment, I cradled you in my arms and we played the “what sounds does a cow (horse, pig, etc.) make?” And even in your half delirious state, you made each animal sound and even smiled at my terrible version of an elephant trumpet.

Ok. So epinephrine is ADRENALINE. And did I mention the STEROIDS? Within half an hour you were terrorizing the whole hospital. Running laps, knocking things over, probably stealing drugs. I’m not aware of all the damage you dispensed because you were just a blur in barf-covered footie pajamas.

Trying to get you to take the steroids each morning was worse than trying to get medicine down a cat’s throat. We’re talking upturned chairs and bruises. Eventually I learned to pretend to feed your stuffed animals the drugs first.  You’re a victim of peer pressure, you will do anything your stuffed animals do. I am not above putting them on the potty and pretending they peed.

The other big event of the month was your Very First Haircut. You were starting to look like a long-haired hippy so we cut off your curls. It was a bit heartbreaking, but so fun to see you change from toddler to little boy with a few snips of the scissors. I saved a couple of your little curls and they look fake, like doll hair because they’re so white and fine.

You love singing. In fact, you debuted your version of the drinking song “Red Solo Cup” at church and you sing Jingle Bells in your sleep. You biked all the way to Target and back IN THE SNOW. You love snow and everything to do with it. Snow boots, snow hat, snow coat. It all makes your very happy.

You’ve learned to climb up on everything and shout “Watch this!” as you fly through the air – thirty-two pounds of elbows and heels hurling at the back of our heads. You love playing “pig pile” and wrestling with your giant gorilla. Your new favorite phrases are “Oh my cow!” “POW!” and “Amazing!”

You peed in the potty. Once. With no intention of ever doing it again.

We’re lucky to be friends with Justin, who works for Waste Management. You have become obsessed with garbage trucks so we meet Justin on his route on Thursdays. You talk nonstop about the garbage truck all week and then, when we see the garbage truck, you act all cool like garbage trucks are as common as dirty diapers at our house.

We did the Turkey on the Run 5k together again on Thanksgiving morning. You had a blast painting christmas ornaments for presents (and painting your belly, too).

Nanny and Papa Bear opened the Christmas Tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving and you are the official mascot. You spend the morning riding up and down the driveway on the trailer with perfect strangers. You climb up onto the trailer as if you own the joint and then hand-pick someone to be your guardian for the trip. When you’re not on the trailer you hang out by the fire pit giving orders or in the gift shop destroying things and demanding coffee.

Little Bear, I think personality weighs a lot because you feel like you like you’re made of lead and you’re chock full of personality. We’re so excited to share the Christmas experience with you – your enthusiasm is going to light up the holidays like a wildfire.

I love you Roper Jackson. To the moon and back!


Your Mama


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