Is There A Doctor In The House?

One recent Saturday morning shortly after seven, as I lay in bed reading and delaying getting up, an eerie sound started up in the boys’ room. It sounded like some sort of special effect from a science fiction movie. Before I could identify the noise, it was punctuated by a robotic voice menacingly declaring “Exterminate! Exterminate!” The music continued and then the voice cut in again and so on.

I soon heard the rustling of sheets and sleepy voices mumbling to each other, first softly and then at a near shout when it became clear that neither wanted to get out of bed. “Turn it off!”…”You turn it off!”…”You are closer!”…”So?! I don’t know how!”…”But I’m on the bunk bed! Just do it! Hurry!”…”I don’t know how!”

Then there was the sound of someone stumbling out of bed, some bumping and exclamations, and then the Dalek and his background music desisted. Some slight rustling as the vanquisher returned to bed. And then silence.

I turned to my husband and smiled. He smiled back. “That was awesome,” he laughed quietly. And, indeed, it was.

You see, that Dalek was ours before it was taken without permission. It had sat placidly in our bedroom not threatening anyone for well over six months since we received it for Christmas. If you press on its head, it will project the time on the ceiling. Pressing its head while the alarm is going off will also act as a snooze and we both continued to smile as we could guess how the boys had likely quieted the Dalek.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, it started up again and the entire situation played out much the same. Only this time, the young bottom-bunk dweller opted to retire to our room after performing his duty so that he couldn’t be tasked with silencing it again.

The next morning, the Dalek greeted us shortly after seven. And again the next. One night, as I tucked the boys into bed, I picked it up and said, “You know, when you guys took this from our room, you fiddled with it and turned the alarm clock on. You need to figure out how to undo it.”

They shrugged me off. I, in turn, shrugged them off. They had dug themselves into this hole and we found the Dalek not merely amusing, but pretty helpful, guaranteeing that our boys would be roused shortly after seven each morning.

After a week or so of this, I went to tuck the boys in last night. Hal looked up and pleaded with me, “Mommy! Will you please, please take that Dalek out of here?!”

“No,” I said, “I rather like it being in here. It does a good job of waking you guys up at 7:15.”

“But I don’t want to wake up at 7:15!” Daryl protested. “I want to wake up at 8:15!”

“Please!” begged Hal. “It scares me. Please?!”

His tone was genuinely that of a scared little boy. I got to thinking about my reaction when I heard that alarm the first time and firmly told my husband he was to never enable the alarm. And how much I had jumped when someone had nevertheless inadvertently turned it on.

I took the Dalek out of the room.

My husband was waiting for me at the dining room table for our budget discussion. I set the Dalek down in front of him. He looked up at it and burst out laughing.

I smiled.

The Dalek had been a gift. One that we had suggested we’d enjoy – mostly because we were after the projected clock. That feature worked but not the way we had intended. The gift, however, has not gone unappreciated. This past week gave us all the enjoyment we needed.


Grand Canyon 2014: A Good Night’s Sleep

Nighttime is always the hardest for me on backpacking trips. I simply don’t sleep well on the ground. Actually, especially here lately, I don’t sleep well period – even in the comfort of my own bed. So sleeping on the ground… and without the benefit of the quieting effects of my husband’s C-PAP machine… is terrifyingly daunting.

Our first night at the Grand Canyon, we slept on the rim in Mather Campground. It’s always the worst night because it’s so freakin’ cold up there! We arrived after dark and setup the tents: girls in one, boys in the other.

As I rolled over onto my side, my butt bumped my daughter’s sleeping bag.

“Ooh!” She called out, “You touched me with your bottom! Don’t do that!”

The night was cold and I added layers of clothing through the night. I kept my face tucked up into the sleeping bag. I rolled over frequently to regain feeling in whichever arm had previously been on bottom. I stretched out when my legs felt tight, only to retract them quickly because of the freezing temperatures in the foot of the bag. Sometimes when I’d move, cold air would rush in through the top of the bag and chill my entire body. Oh, and I learned that my daughter snores. I was miserable, pure and simple.

Jane was cold too. By the morning, she didn’t mind my bum one bit. In fact, she was nearly spooning with me when it was time to get up.

Daryl chose that night to talk in his sleep. Shout, actually. And then later pick a fight with his brother. Apparently both of them move a lot and don’t like to feel crowded by the other.

The second night was better. At least it wasn’t as cold. I had trouble falling asleep though. In part because the lovebirds in the campsite across from us had retired to their tent and she was giggling uncontrollably. I contemplated walking over there and asking them to have sex more quietly. When I told my husband that the next morning, I learned that he had been having a similar but less charitable reaction.

That night was also the night Hal did one of his I’m-not-awake-but-I’m-also-not-happy hissy fits. He fussed and fussed and fussed and kicked about while Daddy demanded to know what was wrong and what he could do to help. It was both frustrating and hilarious to listen to.

The final night was the best as far as sleeping went. It was warmer – so warm, in fact, that I almost sweated in the sleeping bag. The primary disruption was Jane waking me up about 4 am to ask permission to go to the bathroom.

Of course, that was also the night that I forgot my phone was still on Central Standard time and we were now in Arizona. I dutifully powered on the phone and set the alarm for 6 am. When it went off, I woke everyone else and quickly packed my sleeping bag and rolled up my Thermarest.

As I got out of the tent and our voices began to rise (quiet time ends at 6 am), Jane asked, “Mom? Did you reset your clock? My phone says it’s 5:15.”

Oops. The two adults decided, much to the children’s chagrin, that we’d stay up but just move about quietly. This ended up getting us on the trail and out of the canyon that much earlier though so I don’t think there were too many regrets once the day was done. And everyone slept beautifully in the hotel room that night.

Sleeping Alone

Daryl spent the night at a friend’s house last night. He’s done this before but it’s been awhile. Hal doesn’t like it. Not one bit. He’s very accustomed to having his brother in the room with him. He said he was scared when we put him to bed and we told him he’d be fine.

Sometime after my husband left to pick up Jane from her outing with a friend, I thought I heard Hal’s door open. I gazed down the hall but saw nothing. I turned back to the computer. Time passed. Then my chair moved ever so slightly. Hal was hiding behind my chair.

“I’m scared Mommy. I don’t like Bubba being gone.”

I had him lay on the guest bed nearby until I finished the night’s blog post. Then I carried him back to his room.

“You know,” I said, as I tucked him back in, “when Bubba was about your age…” I was about to tell him that his Bubba had slept in a room by himself, but then it dawned on me that five years ago, I was about to give birth to Hal. We had already moved Jane into Daryl’s room so we could turn her room into Hal’s nursery. But, wait! That means…

“You know what, Hal?”


“Did you know you slept in a room by yourself when you were a little baby?”


“Yep. You slept in a room by yourself until you were about 2 or 3 years old. Sissy’s room used to be yours.”

He got a big smile on his face. “I did?”

“Yep. So, see? You’ve done it before. You are just scared now because you aren’t used to it. But it’ll be ok. I wouldn’t put a baby in a room by himself if it wasn’t safe, would I? And I wouldn’t do it to you now. You’ll be fine. I promise. Just remember when you get scared that you’ve done it before, even if you don’t remember. Ok?”

He snuggled into his blanket like he was willing to give it a shot, but then, speaking very slowly as if working it out in his head, he said, “Well, Mommy, maybe when I was two I was really brave and now that I’m four, I’m not very brave at all.”

“Oh, sweetheart. You are just as brave now as you were then. You just didn’t know anything different then. I bet if we grew another bedroom on this house and moved you into your own room, you’d stop being scared in no time. You just aren’t used to it, that’s all.”

With that, I gave him a hug and left him to face the monstrous silence of an empty room. Alone.