May 31, 2008

Tent for Sale

It is a truth universally recognized (to steal a line from Jane Austen), that when a tent manufacturer prints "Two Man" on their product, they don't mean to say "Two or Three People - give or take."

What they really mean is:

"No more than Two Men. Ever. If those Two Men intend to be comfortable, they should be adolescent Little People from a tribe of Pygmies."

This "Universal Truth" however was lost on Toby, who bought us a Two Man backpacking tent at REI last weekend. In his defense, I know why he did it. He wanted us to go backpacking so the tent had to be small. He also figured Robbie didn't count as a "man" so we could just slip him in between us. Finally, he was trying to stay within a budget we had agreed on and the three man tent was $50 more.

What he did not realize is the amount of thrashing, squirming and flailing a two year old does before, during and after the process of falling asleep.

Last night we went camping about 12 miles away to give the new gear a test drive before going on a full-fledged backpacking trip. All I can say is thank goodness we were so close to home - I almost didn't make it through the night and gave serious through to abandoning camp.

When Toby spread out the foot print I said "That's it?" several times. It was about six inches wider than a twin bed. The tent, against all my fervent hopes was no larger than the footprint. It wasn't even tall enough inside for me to kneel without hunching over. I'm five feet tall. Our two very compact (backpacking gear, remember?) bags were overlapping Robbie's child's bag when we laid them down inside.

Robbie was easy enough to put down but he refused to get in his sleeping bag. Instead, he insisted on sleeping curled up right where my pillow should have been - feet in my forehead. We tried moving him two or three times before he fell asleep and about five times after - nothing doing. He would immediately slither right back on my head.

To make matters worse we realized too late that we were on a slight downhill grade - my end of the tent being downhill. All three sleeping bags were of the slippery nylon variety. Before I could even get drowsy I was having serious claustrophobia - with Toby sliding toward me from one side and Robbie worming ever closer from the other.

I'm a pretty claustrophobic person on a good day. Clothing can sometimes make a freak out if it is too tight and not breathable. Last night I had to talk myself out of just ripping through the tent Incredible Hulk style and running into the night.

I woke up once to find Toby awake also. It seemed a bit lighter and I desperately hoped it was 5 am so I could get out of the coffin tent.

"What time is it?"
"You don't want to know"
"Just tell me."
"You really don't want to know"
"It's 2:30."
"Oh my God."

"I told you, you didn't want to know"

Still later: "If you want, you can just take Robbie home and I'll pack everything up after dawn."
Thinking: "Yes yes yes, great idea you wonderful wonderful man."
Actually said: "No, I won't just leave you here."

Morning finally did come...slowly and with very little sleep.

I got Robbie dressed and diapered in record time and we crawled over Toby to get out.

While we were standing by the tent waiting for Toby I said, mostly joking:

"Robbie, Daddy doesn't love us anymore."

From inside the tent, I heard Toby laughing and then he said:

"How did you know?"

Does anyone want to buy a Two Man tent? I'm sure you could fit two or three a pinch.

May 30, 2008


I must have been a bit flustered this morning while rushing to make Robbie and I each a pancake. I just reached into my pantry for a cookie and saw a half gallon of Winder milk sitting on my cereal shelf.


On another note - we did have a pretty good morning. Robbie woke up at 6:45 ready to play. We had pancakes on the patio and tinkered in the garden for a bit. I couldn't stop him from reaping a second harvest of berries - some a little more green than I would personally eat but he refused to take my advice.

May 28, 2008

First Harvest

Today we got the first harvest from our little garden - strawberries! Robbie was very excited and started gobbling them before I could even wash them. It took some convincing to slow him down so I could pick off the leaves and give them a little clean-up.

Little Engineer

He's had this hat over a year and would never wear it. Yesterday he woke up from his nap, saw it hanging on the wall and insisted he have it. I think after the Day Out with Thomas he finally realized what kind of hat it was supposed to be.

May 27, 2008

The Greatest Day of His Life

This last Saturday was probably the greatest Day in Robbie's young life. The whole weekend was pretty good for him. It's safe to say that if he could verbalize this, he would proclaim that never, in his roughly 850 days of living, have so many wonderful events coincided in one 72 hour period.

To name a few:

I made banana pancakes - a never before tasted (by him, at least) marriage of his two favorite foods (though he calls them "Cancakes").

He got first pair of cowboy boots - John Deere boots, no less. They were an instant hit.

The biggie: he finally got to meet Thomas the Train at the "Day Out with Thomas" event put on by the Heber railway. To say he was excited doesn't really cover it.

We spent roughly the gross national product of Aruba on new train sets while at the event. (not really - but it felt like it at the time)

After the train ride we went to lunch at the Dairy Keen - a train themed burger joint. Robbie got to sit in another train - this one a table. I would say he ate there but there was no eating going on.

Grummy, Grumpy, Rikki, Jason and Carter were all there at the Thomas event and at lunch - a huge bonus.

He went with Toby to pick up rocks in a rented dump trailer. Toby had taken him to do this before and Robbie had not stopped talking about it since.

While they were in Salt Lake they also picked me up a big surprise - sod!

We laid sod - which to him probably seemed like everyone was playing in the dirt with him.

While I was pulling weeds, he got to nail me right in the bum with a precisely aimed jet of (cold!) water from the hose. Toby enjoyed that as well.

He helped Bob work on the sprinkler system by strategically hiding the parts he needed.

He played with his cousin Carter in Carter's lovely green backyard while the whole family paid him rapt attention.

We went to his favorite restaurant. I call it his favorite - but that's a bit of irony. It's just that every time we go there he acts like a completely sugared up crack addict. He spills drinks, throws silverware, pours salt on the table and licks it off, screams and cackles like a banshee, shoves lime wedges in his eyes (and then screams more - but with a different edge)...and in general makes us so embarrassed and frustrated we have to wait three or four months before we can bring ourselves to go back.

On Monday he went to lunch with just mom - a very brave thing on my part considering the above paragraph. This time went to Chick-Fil-A and I have to say... he was an angel. He ate his whole kids' meal, never whined, never jumped up, never threw anything, never spit food out partially chewed.

Afterward he got play in their (very cool) play area for about 45 minutes. It was pouring rain when we left and he insisted I not carry him to the car - he wanted to walk. We held hands and ran splashing through the parking lot with him shouting "rain rain rain cold cold cold windy windy windy". He was delighted and passed out about 10 minutes into the drive home.

This isn't even everything we did - there was so much more that I don't have time to type. I think this has to be the most densely packed three day weekend I've ever had....and certainly the best weekend Robbie's ever had.

May 22, 2008

The Glass Boot

I have had a boot shaped drinking glass for twelve years. I bought it at a yard sale when I was about 17 or 18. My friend Jill was a Beatle-Maniac and we regularly went "yard saling" on Saturday mornings the summer I got my first car. She was always looking for an original album - and never found one. I was along for the ride (or rather - to give the ride) with no goal in mind - when I found the boot. The glass has come with me from Oregon to Pleasant Grove to Tooele and Grantsville.

Every time we have moved or cleaned out the cupboard holding our glasses, I have had to defend the boot glass to Toby.

"Why are we keeping that stupid boot? It's the only one we have. You never even used it."

To which I would say "Someday we'll have a kid who will think this is the coolest glass in the world and he'll freak out if we even suggest he drink out of anything else. I am keeping it." and it would go back on the highest shelf to be forgotten again.

I didn't buy the glass with the intention of passing it on to my children - not at all. I just thought it was cute and it reminded my of my friend Katy's little brother. He had an identical glass that he would use on a daily basis. If we tried to give him milk in anything else he acted like we were trying to make him drink boiling oil. Plus, the glass was a nickel.

But, even though I didn't really have a clear purpose for the glass, I just hung on to it...part of my inherited pack rat nature. Ask me about my dad if you're not sure what I mean.

Today someone (not Toby) cleaned out my glass cupboard for me while I was out of the house. When I came home, she was gone but the glass boot was sitting on the counter, an obvious statement that it did not belong. Perhaps her way of saying "didn't you want to throw this out?"

I picked up the glass, and was about to put it back in the cupboard when Robbie saw it and started squealing "I want it, I want it, I have it!"

And to further prove me right, he commenced to have a melt down twenty minutes later when I suggested he use a sippy cup at story time (a traditionally horizontal activity in our house).

May 21, 2008

Fastest Shot in the West

We have a new game in our house called "Mommy Fall Down". It's quite popular in these parts and here is how it is played:

Robbie points his toy rifle at me and clicks the trigger. He can't pull it yet so he just taps it. When I hear the clicking I have to clutch my chest, leg, head, etc and start gasping and staggering. Then I fall down - preferably on the ottoman, couch or stairs. The more dramatic the staggering, the more he enjoys the game.

Once I hit the ground he giggles excitedly and says "Mommy Funny" and then puts down the rifle and runs over to give a big hug and lots of kisses wherever he shot me. Sometimes he gives me a drink from his sippy cup.

Then he says "Mommy Fall Down More!"

We have played this game about 849,201 times just today.

Where does a two year old learn this stuff? All he watches are Pixar movies, Noggin and Sprout. It's not like we sit him down each Thursday with a new version of Grand Theft Auto... the gun obsession must be passed down in the DNA.

EDIT: As soon as I hit "Publish" I realized where he learned this! His favorite movie for several weeks has been The Fox and the Hound...lots and lots of rifle wielding scenes!

Proof My Cat Loves Me

I said to myself I would never blog about my cat (tones of "crazy cat lady")...but I can't resist this one. Toby calls our cat The Great White Hunter because, although she has no front claws she manages to regularly capture and kill small birds and rodents. Sometimes she even manages to capture and kill quite large rodents. How large? Well it involves using a pressure washer to remove the blood stains (and organs she doesn't like to eat) from our front porch...that's how large.

I work at home in an office with a window that looks right out at the front porch and the street. Under the window there is a bench and today while I was trying to work, my cat stood on the bench and howled and cried. When I opened the blinds I saw she was holding a five inch long rodent that she desperately wanted to show me.

As soon as I pulled up my camera, she ran for the front I apologize for the blurry image.

When I came outside she dropped it on the welcome mat for me. Yum.

May 20, 2008

Boys Like Bugs

This was the other thing I learned last week - boys have no gene that make them repulsed by bugs *shiver*. Robbie and I were playing outside when I saw this HUGE bug walking over the rocks. I pointed it out to Robbie and he started following it.

Then I said "You want to pet it?" Totally joking! I had no idea...

That he would reach out and pet it. Blagh!

My hysterical gasping probably clued him in that he was doing something wrong because he immediately let go - but the bug stiffened up, flipped over and played dead (it really was pretending - I've seen them doing it and I checked the bug later - it was fine).

I didn't want Robbie to feel bad and I didn't know if he knew what "dead" meant so I said

"Oh...the bug is sleeping"

to which he said...

"No. It's dead" and walked away to play another game.

Things Overheard at Our Dinner Table

"Robbie please don't put your hand in my water glass."
"I want to."
"Your hand probably has snot on it. So if I drink that, I'm probably going to get whatever funky funk you have, right?"
"Should I go get another water?"
"If I do, are you going to put your hand in it?"

A minute later...

"Did you watch Curious George today?"
"Who is George's friend?"
"Yellow Hat Guy"
"What color is is hat?"
"What color are mommy's flowers?" - pointing to huge vase of yellow sunflowers right in front of him.

A minute later....

"Do you want some pie?"
"Yeah...I like-ah the Pie! I WANT it!"

It's interesting what kinds of topics elicit an entire sentence...obviously sugar loosens the tongue.

I'm on YouTube!

The workshop I went to back in March is now up on YouTube courtesy of Leo Patrone who shot it on old school Super 8! It's pretty cool and worth checking out - and I'm even in it here and there.

May 19, 2008


Robbie is doing well. He hasn't been wheezing or coughing (much) and hasn't had a fever. He has just been really tired, a little whiny and definitely very much a mama's boy.

For a few weeks now he's been angling for us to get him a toy gun. When we go to a store with toy guns or gun arcade games (Cabellas) we nearly have to peel him off of whatever gun he's found. We're not sure where he got this fixation but it hasn't died down.

Today I took him to the grocery store for a quick trip to pick something up and the whole time we were there he kept wimpering something to himself I couldn't understand. I kept asking him what he meant but it wasn't until I was at the check out counter (which perversely is where they put the toy section) that I realized what he'd been saying.

"Robbie big gun."

They didn't have the gun anymore that he had seen there four days ago and he cried softly to himself about it for about half an hour. Then he started sayin "robbie no want gun" and "no gun". Was he trying reverse psychology? If so, I am very frightened that he's catching on to that level of manipulation so early.

When Toby got home he bought Robbie not only a gun but bandana and a belt for his gun. It was pretty cute but he was mad about wearing the best and bandana and just wanted to hold the gun part of it.

Boys.... are guns imprinted on the chromosomes?

May 18, 2008 really know how to kill a weekend.

We'd been looking forward to this weekend for a long time - not just because we had some plans but because the news forecast every day in the week leading up to it kept promising wonderful weather.

With the highest temperatures for the year to date it seems particularly ironic that Robbie would come down with a winter-time illness: croup.

It started off with a little wheezing on Friday evening but by Saturday evening we were in an "Instacare" doing breathing treatments. The albuterol and epinephrine didn't work as well as hoped on his breathing and his temperature kept climbing. When threw up the steroids and Tylenol (down my shirt) they sent us to Primary Children's hospital.

It was a long, long night of holding an exhausted toddler in one arm and a oxygen mask in the other. There was no way on earth he was going to let them strap it on his face and just as little chance he would let me touch it to his face. Instead I played a game where I held the mask about an eighth inch from his skin so he could inhale the vapors without waking up.

Toby was kind enough to run to the 13th south Wal-Mart at about midnight (and he survived without gunshot wounds - barely) to get me a clean shirt....but it was still nice to come home tonight, get out of my cherry Tylenol vomit clothes and shower.

May 15, 2008

Children's Photography 101

You learn something new every day... and yesterday I learned two. The first is for another post - but the second is a recipe for getting good shots of your own toddler boy. This is something I previously regarded as hopeless since he scowls at me whenever I break out the camera.

1. Take your child to a park about an hour before sunset so the light is lower.
2. Let him play a while before you break out the camera
3. Have him run. A lot.

4. Take pictures of him running but be sure to stop shooting before he slams into you...knocking you over. If you want to keep him going it helps to let him knock you over...a lot. They get a lot of pleasure from this. Take a lot of pictures.

Heck, take some pictures of them knocking you over and trying to pull off your public.

Don't be afraid if some shots look absolutely terrifying.

You're bound to get a gem or two as long as your shutterspeed is at least 1/250th of a second.
5. Eventually he'll get tired of running and need a break. Now it's pay-off time. That cute relaxed shot you wanted all along. Now it is yours!

Keep shooting - because they recover fast...and then it's play time again.

Just when the memory card was nearly full (remember...take lots of pictures) Toby stopped by on his way home and got in on the action.

May 14, 2008

Husbands and Children

True story...

Toby: So my friend needs to borrow my truck tonight...and that's ok because my motorcycle is at his house and I can just ride it home...

Me: Ok....?

Toby: Well there's just one problem... I don't have a helmet or my jacket.

Me: do you want me to drive it in to you? Because I could just pick you up if I'm driving in? Or do you want to go buy a new helmet?

Toby: Well....I don't want to go spend a bunch of money on a new helmet. Maybe I should just ride home without one.

Me: No...why don't you just borrow your friend's helmet?

Toby: It doesn't fit - my head is too big. And besides, if I take his helmet, he won't be able to ride his motorcycle.

Me: Nice try. His motorcycle is sitting in our garage, remember? His helmet is not too small, I remember what size it is. You're not riding home without a helmet....but nice try. You're as bas as a kid!

If you think I am kidding about how boy-like Toby is about the is a photo of him while were sitting in the bike dealership waiting for paperwork to be done. He was zoned out....

Then I said "hey you're getting a new bike, remember?"

Quick and Dirty Tips

Today while working I've been listening to several podcasts from the Quick and Dirty tips network. I love these podcasts because they have lots of little tips presented in a tidy and humorous format.

"Get it Done Guy" had this especially handy tip that I wanted to share. If you're as impatient as I am, you'll appreciate this one.

Skip voice mail greetings (especially those really corny, long winded greetings) for various cell carriers.
AT&T / Cingular: 7
Verizon: *
T Mobile: #
Sprint: 1

May 11, 2008

Yorkie Pudding

When your neighbor's $1500 breeding Yorkie goes missing, there is a cash reward if you find it alive. If, however, you find it dead in your back yard six months later, partially decomposed...the only reward is that you get to pry it from the landscaping rock (where it has repeatedly frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed all winter) and put it into a hefty bag.

Gloveables...they are loveable. And moving dead animals is just one more use I've discovered for them.

Maybe they'll let me work that into their next marketing piece, since I do their design.

May 7, 2008

Living on a Budget Sucks...Sort Of

As part of our attempt to be better handlers (pinchers) of our pennies we're trying to live on a budget. You can laugh - many of you probably do this already and have for a long time. But our financial plan to date has been "buy what we need and/or want. What's left can go to savings."

Hardly efficient, I know....

Before May began we plotted every dollar. We're only about a week into the first budget and we've already found 5 or 6 things we completely forgot to account for. Dry cleaning? We have to pay for that? We have an account that charges us? Really?

Before May began I also found at least 8 subscriptions, memberships, etc that I either canceled or reduced. We weren't using them at all and won't miss them. This alone was fairly eye-opening. I think we saved $84/month just in little things like Netflix, the Sunday newspaper (which lays soggy in the driveway until someone ** throws it away), some TV services didn't even know we had, the list goes on.

Also, I cannot even count the number of times Toby and I have said to one another "it's not in the budget this month". This is pretty great since neither of us is the bad guy when we say "no"'s the budget's fault. I'll be sure to use this line with Robbie in a few years.

Having family in town was hard - they wanted to go shopping on their last day. How fun is it to go shopping when you can't buy anything? I think I deserve an big hand for spending an hour in my favorite clothing store with my Sister in Law and not spending a dime. Whew!

Toby likewise deserves a pat on the back for doing something similar in Cabella's with my brother.

May 5, 2008

Moab '08

This past weekend my brother came out from Oregon with his family to visit. We decided to take them down to Moab for part of that time and - since we weren't sure how he'd deal with all the sun, the long drive, the dust, etc - Robbie stayed with Grummy and Grumpy.

We had a good time and I'm pretty sure my brother and his family did as well. Since I didn't have a toddler to chase, feed and entertain, I was able to take quite a few pictures.

The crew: sweaty, dusty and hungry.

Jaime, playing way too close to the edge.

Jeremy, surveying the scene.

The ride.

Michele, being camera shy.

Jamie enjoying the bumpy descent.

A vertical ascent.

A portrait of Toby and I - really...look closely in his glasses.

Toby and Jaime under Delicate Arch

The whole family under Delicate Arch. This is just before group sunburn set in and we stiffened up.

The trail we took.

Jamie looking like the Grim Reaper. He had a blue jawbreaker...and I guess he was cold. Now that I think about it, he looks a bit like Charlie from Lost.

May 1, 2008

The Single Leading Cause of Divorce

I've heard again and again that money is the leading cause of divorce. Not adultery...not battery...not eating crackers in

Toby and I have never fought about money - but - that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement in the way we handle it. Our big failing, in my mind, is that we are too darn nice to each other. I have friends whose husbands "don't let them" buy things. I don't have any idea what that is like. We give each other permission to buy anything our little hearts desire.

It sounds great at first (especially if your spouse is a penny-pinching coupon weilding Hun), but I think we both need the other to the be the bad guy sometimes...and that just aint happenin' in this relationship.

We need a hard-liner. We need a nay-sayer. We need a "No Man". So we're bringing in a pro.

Neither of us goes in for self-help books or the latest pop-psych advice. We don't watch Dr. Phil or Suze Orman....we don't get all tingly when we see Tony Robbins. But...we do like listening to all the morons...I mean, all the people with really messed up finances...that call into the Dave Ramsey Show. So, Saturday the 17th we're going to be attending the Dave Ramsey Live event at the E Center. I'm really hoping he can convert us (in five short hours) into the aforementioned penny-pinching, coupon weilding, budget bulldogs we need to be.

This is what the seminar promises to teach:
  1. How to spend purposefully with an easy-to-follow plan.
  2. What it takes to get out of debt and stay out of debt.
  3. How to deal with the differences between men and women when it comes to finances.
  4. The power of compound interest and how it affects your savings.
  5. How to become a cheerful giver.
  6. How to invest with confidence using diversification.
  7. How to communicate better with your spouse about money.
  8. How to work the Debt Snowball.
  9. The basics of mutual funds.
  10. How to get a good deal on a car or house.
If anyone else that reads this little blip in cyberspace would like to come with us, we'd love to have you!