Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Cooperbowl

My son’s 8th birthday was planned to fix all the ways in which he’d been disappointed at recess.

Picked last. Not picked at all. Rarely getting to try quarterback. Teammates making intentionally bad snaps when he finally got to try being the quarterback. Kids suck.

Clearly hearing about it in snips and bits over the past few weeks was really bothering me. Him, too. But The Coop really does let things roll.

I’m a bear.

And so that is how we came to rent a full indoor football field, name ourselves the commissioners of The Cooperbowl, and host what boiled down to an extended recess.

Oh did he have fun.

It was the first time we had planned to host our December baby’s party after Christmas, nearly three weeks after his actual big day. That might have been a mistake. But it was a nice change of pace. Or rather, the pace of the chaos in our house three weeks ago really didn’t afford the time for a birthday party.

After the running, and jumping, and sweating – my do boys stink – they sat down for some good ‘ol fashioned concessions and a quiz. That’s right, the Who-Knows-Coop-Best Quiz. Questions and answers that I’d like to keep:

Who is Cooper’s favorite football team? Broncos (it was the Jets until the 27th of December).

What belt has Cooper earned in karate? Orange

What is Cooper’s favorite color? Green

Other than football, what is Cooper’s favorite sport? Swimming – though he first answered soccer (?!?!?!!?).

Who is Cooper’s favorite football player? Peyton Manning – though I know he loves Tim Tebow.

What is Cooper’s favorite special? P.E.

What is Cooper’s favorite book? Diary of a Wimpy Kid

There were some other questions I wanted to ask Coop. You know, my usual birthday interview. But it seems that all questions are answered with “butt cheeks”, “fart head”, or “I dunno”. I gave up.  

Monday, December 10, 2012


I was going to skip the recap of Thanksgiving and the drive home. There was trip laundry and the crushing disappointment of coming home to unfinished stairs. But then, the boys brought home the homework folders this past week and I found that they had recapped the whole affair and I thought it would be funny to compare notes.
Exhibit A: Cooper’s essay – which I will refer to as fiction, but he would call non-fiction.

Exhibit B: Mason’s Thanksgiving picto-essay, clearly unclear on the meaning of thankful as we don’t have a dog and he hates riding his bike.

Exhibit C: Mother’s last word on the matter.
First let me say, I found having hubby in the car certainly changed the dynamic. Also being exhausted and on the tail end of a binge of good eats and late nights was a factor. Our kids were still good, but they were rambunctious. Here’s how we survived it:
6:01 a.m.
Depart with arms and car loaded with birthday gifts Christmas surprises. Also, plentiful hugs and safe travel wishes.
It’s only 33 degrees in Salt Lake this morning, so we’re grumpy and chattery-teethy. But we fill up our car with gasoline and look for the nearest Starbucks.
Mason’s the first one to break the silence, “Mama, will we be making it back home in time for school?”

The Starbucks has hot happiness on tap and we gladly order as much of it as we can carry. Then we actually get on the freeway and speed into the dark horizon.

“Mommy the sun us coming up,” notices Cooper.
“Yes and it will rise over these mountains and be so pretty.”
With zero interest in my romanticizing of nature’s gift called daybreak he says, “Then we can play the license plate game.”

Mason is humming jingle bells, which I actually expect. What I don’t expect is that Steve and Cooper will start wondering why there is both a Fahrenheit and Celsius measurement.

Mason: Remember the guy who ate deer craps? (Reference to Duck Dynasty, our favorite reality TV show.)

Mason: It looks like an elephant! (Points to Echo Lake)

Mason: That looks like a pterodactyl! (Random mountain we are passing.)

After silence from the backseat we look back to see Mason has pulled his blanket over his head and is sleeping

First prize timer, which Mason sleeps through. Coop is ipad-ing, Steve and I have reviewed all our political conversations from the past week and have decided that unless you lived in Colorado – a truly purple state -- during the 2012 election cycle you cannot possible understand how OVER it we are. Any talk of any politics, any politician, or any political rhetoric of any kind makes us feel a mix of tearing up and nausea. Consider yourself warned.

Drive past Wyoming’s middle of the nowhere Little America.

Drive through Green River and pick out the warehouse that belongs to the parent company of Steve's employer. We tell Cooper we could live here (here as in the town of Green River). 
He looks around and says, “And do what?” Good point.

Mason finally wakes up. Cooper is clearly happy for that. They banter and play with each other in peace.

Mason is humming Tao Cruz songs when Cooper spots
a British Columbia plate!

And now all the I states are accounted for.

Mason: Cooper this globe (my husband’s childhood globe gifted to him by his grandpa) is going to be in my room. But you can still play with it. Just knock on my door and come see it. Or just ask to play with it.

The prize timer beeps and I’m excited because I’m giving the boys a travel version of their favorite game: Blokus to go! They are both really exited to play a game together, and start putting it together immediately

One of my sisters-in-law texts us to show me that Operation Family Pictures is a wild success! Now that I think about it, I need to follow up on those proofs.

We stop in Wamsutter for gas, and courtesy the bathroom stalls I get to add another gem to my treasure chest of Mason-isms.  Taking children into a truck station for a bathroom break is always a challenge. At this point in their lives, the boys venture into the men’s room by themselves while I wait in the hallway just outside the door internally counting and monitoring the sort that walk into the bathroom after them. Once they are finished they come out and start cruising the aisles for candy. Excitedly Mason tells us what he has seen in the bathroom. From what he is describing, and what I know of bathrooms, I’m pretty sure what he saw is rated R. But anyways, he describes in fairly enthusiastic and accurate detail the line drawings of a lewd act involving “butt cheeks” and then shouts with absolutely no compunction for the meaning of that word, “It said F*** ME!”
It was a surprisingly crowded gas station.
Mason is now humming the Spiderman theme

Mason: Oh there’s a red sign. I always believe the red signs. (WTH?!?!?!)

Mason: Mama are we close to home? (We’ve just seen our first sign for

Mason begins a long dialogue with himself, but clearly directed at me concerning the length of time we have left in the car versus how much time it will take us to get home. Basically he’s hoping that the prize timer will sound before we cross the stateline. I’ll also add that they are getting pretty rowdy and I’m not sure I can stand to be in car much longer.
We stop in Fort Collins for philly cheesesteaks.
Back on the road and we finally hear from the disgruntled but quiet Cooper, “We need to get out of the car!”

Home. I’d like to say it was a joyous reunion. But due to some construction headaches, it was tearful and tragic and frustrating.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To The Other Side of the World

An account of how one momma drove her two boys 8 hours and 40 minutes toward a turkey dinner:

First I will tell you that my husband had business in Utah earlier in the week, so he flew out and planned for us to join him in a couple of days. The joining him part was my job.

It was also my job to schedule the floor guys for a final coat while we were away and ensure all scheduling of contractors and house checkers was done. (This was futile as it turns out because we came home to find that they had not done anything. I'll rant more about this later.)

4 a.m. 
Go ahead, blink a few more times and read that purported time, again. I woke up at 4 a.m., without an alarm, after sleeping for a full 7 hours. Tylenol P.M. is the bomb. People who know me well will truly be shocked by my waking up and functioning this early in the morning. Hell, people who know me really well will assume this is both a guest blog entry and a guest driver. 

Now that my boys weigh 50 pounds a piece there was not a chance that I would be carrying their slumbering bodies up a flight of stairs, through the door, down the garage steps, out to my death-by-incline driveway and buckling them into car seats. Instead I shook them awake from their camped-out positions on the sofa and ordered them to get dressed and get in the car. 

While they giggled and squealed like it was Christmas morning I loaded two sacks of sewing orders into my car and the last of the bags and coats into the back. Once they loaded up I locked all the doors and said farewell to my little house on the corner. 

4:40 a.m.
Make clandestine delivery to Cutie Petutie's warehouse before hitting the freeway, all the while Mason is chittin' and chattering about our adventure. 

"Mama, is Utah close to the other side of the world?"

"No; it's just on the other side of Wyoming."

"Oh, that's not that close."

A mere moment of silence -- I think just enough for him to take a breath.

"Mama, just a reminder, are you going to set the timers?" This is in reference to the prize timer that I set on long road trips. Basically at timed intervals if my children have played quietly in the backseat and not fought with each other they both earn a prize. Usually a LEGO minifig or theater-sized box of candy. I tell them the interval is 1 hour, but it is actually 1:20. Will this ruin them for life?

"Hey mama, have you ever seen me shiver and fall asleep?"

"Nope. But I would really like to see that."

"Hey mama, I wish you wouldn't have told me we were going on vacation because then I couldn't sleep. Next time just wake me up and then tell me we are leaving right now," suggests Mason.

4:52 a.m.
We are actually on the freeway, now. Mason has momentarily stopped chatting and is humming four measures of "Deck the Halls" over and over again. I haven't had any coffee, yet.

Cooper says, "It's kinda fun to be the only people who are awake because you don't get stuck in traffic." City boy.

"Hey mama," interrupts Mason, "Do you know that when I get woken up by someone I talk a lot?"

4:56 a.m.
"I think I know why I heard someone say, 'Reset the alarm.' on the walkie talkie." This is a reference to our IKEA evacuation earlier this week. But before I can ask why he says:

"Hey mama did you know the moon is the lightest thing at nighttime?

"I think you mean it appears to be the brightest."

"Yeah, that."

4:58 a.m.
Mason asks, "Hey mama I don't remember, did you remember to set the timer?"

"I did."

"OK if we are asleep and we don't wake up for the timer, will you save our prizes for when we wake up?"

5 a.m.
The alarm on my watch goes off. Both kids sit straight up. I attempt to calm them, "Stand down, that's the alarm to wake up. We're just ahead of schedule." 

Cooper resigns himself for waiting another 40 minutes for the prize timer, "I'm going to open my backpack." This is followed by Ooooohs and aaaahs! And an, "Awesome!"" (I hid new coloring books and a Wimpy Kid Diary in there.)

"Say, 'Thank You Mommy'."

Both,"Thank You, Mommy."

5:05 a.m.
"Hey mama have you ever had a song mash up?" asks Mason and before I answer follows with, "I was singing Batman and then all of a sudden I was like singing Black Eyed Peas. And, I didn't notice so then I was singing Put Your Hands Up in The Air." 

5:08 a.m.
Excitedly Cooper gasps, "Look! It's the Broncos' stadium."

Mason dryly responds, "Go Broncos."

5:20 a.m. 
You may think this represents 12 minutes of silence. Don't be fooled.
In fact, after 12 minutes of enthusiastic humming he has stopped and I think Mason actually fell asleep for a second. 

5:33 a.m.
First McDonald's stop/drive through for the day. Among other indulgences I order both a small coffee and a large coffee and neither are intended for Mason. 

5:59 a.m. 
"Mama how do you spell Plymouth?" asks Cooper and I believe this might be the start of our first holiday relevant conversation.


"Where is it?"

"Hmmmm... I think it's actually a rock on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean right by Massachusetts." And this is where I start to panic because I realize I'm one of the historically illiterate that my idol David McCullough pities.

"Is that where they built their houses?"

"Pretty sure they just docked their ships there. Then they kinda spread out to build their houses in the woods." Oh jeez I'm botching this.

"What happens on the 4th Thursday?"

"That's Thanksgiving." Then I realize I don't actually know FOR SURE if it's always the fourth Thursday or the third Thursday and I wish he would just ask me about Duck Dynasty.

"Why do they call it that?"

"If you count all the Thursdays that happen in November it's the fourth one, so they call it the fourth Thursday. Wait, did you mean, why do they call it Thanksgiving?"

6:16 a.m.
I realized about 4 minutes ago that I forgot to inject Lovenox -- an anticoagulant that I must use on long road trips and flights -- so I start looking for a safe and well-lit gas station. I settle on a dive in Fort Collins just in time for the first prize timer. When we pull up to the pumps Cooper sees a woman filling up her car while smoking. 

He growls, "Get in your car and never come back." 

Mason pleads, "I'm too little to die." 

This gas station only has an outside bathroom that is approximately 26 degrees, so I elect to inject myself in front of my kids in the car. I hate doing this because they get really scared for no other reason than they don't realize not all injections feel like immunizations. So they cry and I hurry and fumble with the sharp in the dark. Super annoying and cause for a little more bruising than usual. 

I fill up the car with gas and ask if anyone wants to use the restroom. Both boys decline.

6:30 a.m. 
We're back on the road, the sun is up and it is 2 degrees warmer. (balmy 28)

6:42 a.m.
Mason, "Whoa, look at the sky!"

Coop, "I need to pee." 

Because 12 minutes ago you didn't?!?!

6:49 a.m.
We pull over at the only gas station I see on 287. We don't need gas, so we rush in the Shell station for a restroom, gum, and another coffee (don't judge). The gas station attendant is so cheerful and nice to everyone in her station. She's simultaneously listening to some old farmer's drama, running a credit card for something like $400 worth of gas, being sweet to my boys, and encouraging me for my long road ahead. Let it be said, I'm thankful for people like her. Sunbeams shined from her face. 

6:56 a.m.
Now that it is light enough to see, we start playing the license plate game. 

Also, in my hand-written notes I wrote something followed by an exclamation point. This is rare. So I suspect this was super funny. But I can't read my handwriting and I was really tired so I don't remember what it said or what happened. That's a bummer. 

Oh wait, I think I pointed out it was 33 degrees! That wasn't worthy of an exclamation point. 

7:16 a.m.
We cross the state line into Wyoming.

7:23 a.m.
Mason begins to experiment with tempo. Which is to say he hums the theme of Harry Potter in a staccato rush of notes and then draws out each note so long I can hardly recognize the song. This experiment isn't appreciated by everyone in the car.

Cooper is chomping on one of the apples I brought. I need to say they are the best tasting, crispiest apples I have ever tasted. I bought them at Target. Best ever.  

My phone says this part of the drive is called Granite Canyon, Wyoming. And I think it also says, "It's freaking cold here, turn around and go home!"

7:42 a.m.
Both boys are reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Silence.

7:46 a.m.
Mason sternly asks, "Is there anything I can do?"

"Color in your Angry Birds coloring book?"

"Naw, I'll just count to 36, sixty times."

7:58 a.m.
I see a huge bald eagle sitting on a fence post! A-MAZ-ING!

8:10 a.m.
Our first Idaho license plate sighting followed by Cooper shouting,"That's where we are going!" 


8:23 a.m.
Prize time, squeals of delight for the mini LEGO batmobiles I found at Target. (Yes, I'm telling you I love Target today.)

8:37 a.m.
We pass Wolcott and my stomach does a little flip. I lecture to the boys, "Do you remember when we had to stop there because the road was closed for a wreck and the gas station was closed because this town is lame and it was super cold because Wyoming has wicked weather and we forgot to bring blankets?"

They both nod yes.

I continue, "The lesson here is that we always take blankets, even if it is warm when we leave."

They both nod yes. 

On second thought maybe they were just looking down at their LEGOs. Either way, I capitalized on my opportunity to teach road trip safety. Yes I did.

9 a.m.
We cross the continental divide and receive a phone call from husband. 

9:26 a.m.
We spot our first international plate -- Ontario. 

9:43 a.m.
Prize time.

10:05 a.m.
We see our first Wisconsin plate and send good thoughts to our very own cheeseheads. Also, I switch to iced coffee. Which is to say that all my hot coffee is now cold and I'm drinking it anyway.

10:17 a.m.
Stop for gas in Rock Springs. The gas station attendant calls me, Hon. She doesn't know me, so I'm not sure why she does this. 

10:32 a.m.
Back on the road after extensive candy aisle contemplation. I also try to fill their garbage cans with all our car trash. In process drop my already chewed gum on my floor mat. I'm mad at myself.

We pass through the Green River Tunnel and Mason points out a rock formation to us and says, "That looks like a statue of a girl tied up." Has he ever seen a girl tied up?

11:01 a.m.
Mason, "When are we going to be in Idaho?" 


11:04 a.m.
After an interminably long time of Jazz (the genre, not the basketball team) radio followed by Country radio followed by lots of static stations, we find "I Will Wait for You" by Mumford and Sons and I am cheered knowing that with good music you can make yourself do just about anything. 

Also, the song puts me in such a good mood I declare prize time. 

11:51 a.m.
Cooper sighs, "Are we in Idaho, yet?


11:56 a.m.
We cross over into Utah. This is met with no reaction from the back seat. 

12:08 p.m.
Mason says, "Mama, when we get there will you play LEGO with me?"

"Of course."

Cooper clarifies, "Yeah, because me and daddy and grandpa and grandma and June are going to play dummy rummy. We've been planning that."

12:14 p.m.
"Look at that mountain, Cooper!" shouts Mason. I almost wreck my car in surprise.

"Oh, that's where vampires live," explains Cooper with no surprise at either Mason's loudness or that vampires might live in the mountains of Utah.

12:19 p.m.
We drive above Echo Lake (actually I don't know which lake it is). Coop starts getting ideas about it's entertainment value, "Can you fish in there?"

"I think."

"Can you survive swimming in there?"

"Not right now!" (it's only 48 degrees)

12:24 p.m.
"Mama are we almost there?" asks Mason


"How many minutes?"


12:25 p.m.
"Wow!" says Cooper. "Are those sheep!?!??  l love sheep." 

Mason adds, "And then the big bad wolf comes..."

12:39 p.m.
As we get deeper into the canyons that feed into the Wasatch Front the radio signal gets worse and the music gets questionable. 

Cooper says, "Why doesn't Idaho's music sound like ours?"


12:43 p.m.
With clear disappointment Mason asks, "Hey, why is it so snowy here?"

12:45 p.m.
The first complaints about butt pain.

12:53 p.m.
"I know this!" says Mason with confidence. "I can't believe we finished our trip in one day!"

1:04 p.m.
Oh I missed the exit to my in-laws' house. Now we are lost somewhere on highland drive. 

1:15 p.m.
My kids start talking about people and their ages and I don't really pay attention because I'm lost. But my ears perk up when Cooper says that he thinks I am 99! I correct him and he says, "I think you're as skinny as a grown up should be." Now that's consolation for an old comment. 

1:23 p.m.
After 2 panicked phone calls to husband, license plates from 25 different states and countries,  across 3 states in 8 hours and 40 minutes we find our way to the driveway of our destination. 

Editor's Note: I would like to apologize for periods of time in which  this entry was published without photos and  in draft form, and then with huge formatting issues. I tried to write and post this while traveling with my iPad. Frankly it didn't work very well. If anyone has a mobile app for iPad that they like for blogging, please suggest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Phew, Oh and That Other Funny Story

Congrats to our orange belt! (That's a Shotokan Karate orange belt, to those of you who know the difference.) Huge sigh of relief! The Sensei is really quite rigid. The students test one week and don't find out the results until the following week. And really, there is no way of knowing if you past the test. Real nail biter. So, tonight, when we showed up we didn't know what would happen. For reals. Then just as I could tell Cooper had given up hope that he had passed the test his Sensei called out his name. Visible ton of bricks fell off Coop's shoulders. 

These pictures are from the night he tested -- that's why he's still wearing his yellow belt. 

I've been waiting to tell a funny story until I had a good karate photo of him. While these aren't the best, please note the hands of one of his Senseis on his shoulders. This is not the main man in the dojo. It's his helper -- who is something ridiculous like 86 years old. 

One day, after lesson Cooper said, "Oh mom you know that Sensei that's missing an ear?" I was like, "Yeah, I know the guy with no ear." Now, let's pause and reflect for a little bit. This in of itself is not something you hear everyday. 

 "Well, he has a wooden foot." 

"Cooper, he doesn't have a wooden foot. I can see his bare feet."

"Seriously mama! It's wooden."

"Why do you say that?"

"He touched my foot with his foot and it was wooden, I could tell."

This is what we have to look forward to in our old age. This man, though spry as a ninja, had such dry, crusty old feet that my child thought they were made of wood. 

The lesson we should learn is this: put lotion on your feet -- just not between the toes. Have a good Thanksgiving, also. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

FBSG: The Quest for Costumes

Before Halloween is a far too distant memory I should tell you that the hunt for our costumes was one of the prime activities over Fall Break. The boys knew what they wanted to be pretty early on, like maybe back in May. Despite what you're thinking -- procrastination -- I was scrambling right up to the end to put them together. 

I did not procrastinate this year. 

For Mason's rendition of Tin Tin and Snowy I looked in every store, and every online venue I could think of for a blue sweater. No where to be found. I was thorough and unsuccessful. In the end we just used a thermal shirt that was in the closet. We also had a hard time finding a plain white dog stuffed animal. The one he carried was a kitten.  He recycled his Indiana Jones satchel and wore some women's knee socks to complete his ensemble. The day after Halloween, guess what popped up at H&M?!??! The dang blue sweater.

When Cooper announced he wanted to be Mickey Mouse I was taken by surprise. He's never been to a Disney theme park and most of his friends were picking persona like minecraft characters, zombies, and Harry Potter. He was a cute Mickey and it took little to no preparation. I glued felt strips on the back of knit gloves (sold for 97 cents in a two pack) and tacked a couple big white buttons on a pair of shorts. We borrowed the ears and completed his look with a pair of thick black tights from the little girls' department. Such an inexpensive costume. 

Steve and I were challenged this year. We could not agree on anything (we wanted to dress as a couple) and when we finally decided on something we couldn't find the right items to complete the look. Frustrating. Then in a random trip to the costume store over Fall Break we had a breakthrough.

Morticia and Gomez Addams. 

Of all things, Steve wore the suit he wore on our wedding day and I wore a skimpy little black dress from Forever 21. I have no business shopping at Forever 21. We both wore eyeliner, without it Steve looked a little too much like the 1%. I also asked my stylist to go a little darker with my hair for the occasion. I am, if nothing else, committed. 

Steve's commitment was more of the press-on mustache variety. 

I believe my dress might have frightened our sweet babysitter. When we asked her to take a picture she managed to crop out all the skimpiness of it and Steve and I look like we're on our way to a funeral. 
Is this weird?

As a volunteer in the classroom I have occasion to dream up two costumes. This year the challenge was to become something a little more clothed. I opted for an all black modge podge of clothes, purple and black striped tights, pointy black shoes, and a large praying mantis in my hair. Also, I had three plastic snakes weaved in there. I didn't take a picture of this number because on this day I also had to carry 40 fruit cups, a tablecloth, pin the face on the pumpkin game, prizes for pin the face on the pumpkin game, 24 bags of sliced apples, 24 cups of caramel dip, 30 spoons, 30 paper plates, a heavy metal cauldron, the camera and an extra lens, and my purse into the school. I kinda broke a sweat. 

Also, this is the get-up I wore while discussing stain choices with the hardwood floor guy. He was concerned, I could tell. 

In related news, I acquired three costumes today. One was actually 67 cents!

Halloween 2007
Halloween 2008
Halloween 2009
Halloween 2010
Halloween 2011