When You Find a Manatee in Your Bathtub…

Dad & Lynn gave the kids a fantastic DVD for their birthday. It’s video of marine life doing what marine life does to the music of Brent Holmes. The music is so catchy that it’s got Jill and I singing right along. And, now, I can’t get one of the songs out of my head. But, I only know some of the lyrics, so it’s rather annoying. In an attempt to get the lyrics out of my head, or to at least teach me the rest of the song, here are the lyrics:

When You Find a Manatee in Your Bathtub by Brent Holmes

  • When you find a manatee in your bathtub, playing with your toys,
  • making lots of noise and causing trouble;
  • And, he’s washing his big flippers; and using all your soap;
  • and filling up your tub with giant bubbles; Say...
  • Please, Mr. Manatee, don’t tickle me,
  • ‘cause I’m as ticklish as a kid can be.
  • I won’t tickle you, if you don’t tickle.
  • And, we can play together.
  • Please, Mr. Manatee, while you're in my tub,
  • we should sing a song that goes rub-a-dub-dub.
  • Rub-a-dub-dub, a manatee is in my tub.
  • And, life couldn’t be much better.
  • Repeat with sea lion instead of manatee
  • Reapeat with walrus instead of manatee

There, now.  I feel so much better. If you’re interested, the album is called “Sea Tunes for Kids.” You can find both the DVD and the CD at Amazon.com.  I’ve also seen the CD at iTunes.

The songs I sing to Hunter and Grace

It's my job to put the kids down at night. Generally, I sit in the big, cozy rocking chair with Grace on my left leg and Hunter on my right. I read a few books, then I turn out the light and sing songs. Unfortunately, my repertoire is rather thin:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle
  • A, B, C (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Bah, Bah, Black Sheep (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Rock-a-bye, Baby
  • Hush, Little Baby
  • Hey, Diddle Diddle
  • Are You Sleeping (modified for night time)

And, sometimes I'll sing these songs:

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (including alligators!)

Rather than learning new tunes, Jill and I have both made up some new songs based on tunes we already know, especially the eternally flexible Twinkle, Twinkle. Here's one Jill wrote:

Little Babies, Go To Sleep Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.
  • In the morning, you will wake; Then fond memories we will make.
  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.

And, here's one I made up: I Love You Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.
  • Mommy loves you, yes she does. Daddy loves you, just as much.
  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.

That one is probably my favorite song to sing the kids. I usually sing it last, really softly, just before putting the kids in their cribs. The kids seem to like it, too. They both know the song, and often sing it with me. Grace even made up her own version, it goes like this:

I Love You Sung to the beat of Gracie's own drum

  • Haha, I laa loo. Mama, I laa loo. Dada, I laa loo.
  • Mama, Dada, Haha, Gigi, I laa loo.

But, that's apparently not the only thing the song has taught the kids. Tonight, when I asked each of them to tell me their name, they both gave me versions of their full names: Hunter said, "Haha O'Neil;" and Gracie said, "Sarah Gracie." I'm so proud!

Gaygee and Haha

It's been a while since I posted an update on the kids. Here's something fun that's been going on lately:

Hunter began referring to Gracie as "Gay-gee" months ago. It's still cute, today, especially when he is looking out for her interests. Tonight for example, when I gave him a cup of milk, he wouldn't take a sip until "Gay-gee" got her cup, too. Once she had her cup, all was well. But, up until Mom handed it to her, Hunter pointed at it with a look of concern and repeated "Gaygee! Gaygee!"

It's taken Grace a long time to come up with a name for Hunter. I guess the H sound is more difficult that the G sound. But, the other day, while Hunter was finishing a nap, Grace blurted out, "Mama, Dada, Gaygee, Haha," then beamed as if she'd just won the Nobel Prize for "Best Spoken Toddler." It was hilariously cute! So, Gracie is officially Gaygee. Both she and Hunter are referring to her that way. And, Grace is now calling Hunter, "Haha." (Though, Hunter has yet to refer to himself that way.)

In the days since Grace's revelation, she's repeated the quartet of names several times. One of these days, I'll have a video or audio recorder handy and capture it. It's absolutely priceless.

Should have more pictures up soon. Been organizing our collection lately. Lots of stuff that hasn't been posted!

Seattle 103, Tuscon 101

Seattle played a road game today and beat Tuscon with an all-time best temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 C).  Regional temperatures soared, with official readings topping out around 108 in Bellevue, and unofficial reports as high as 120 degrees!  Now, if only the Mariners and Seahawks could beat the Diamondbacks and Cardinals! The extraordinary news of the "win" made both local and national news.  Here's a round-up of some of the coverage: Local Coverage National Coverage Oh, and, apparently, the entire state is on fire!

Obituary: Barbara Simon Bradley

Barbara Ann Simon (Ridlehoover) BRADLEY died peacefully on February 13, 2009 in Issaquah, Washington of nonalcoholic liver disease and diabetes.  She was 61.  Born March 28, 1947 in Athens, Georgia, she grew up in a Marine Corps family, moving from coast to coast, and returning home to Georgia while her father was deployed overseas.  She graduated from Athens High and attended the University of Georgia before marrying her college sweetheart, Edward Ridlehoover, in 1966 and starting a family.  A devoted mother, she was a stay-at-home mom, playground monitor, den mother and PTA president.  She ran the annual craft bazaar for her sons' elementary school for several years, invariably staying up the night before to bake miniature loaves of banana and zucchini bread for her boys to sell while she manned a booth of her own full of crafts.  As her sons grew, she ventured out into the workforce, starting as a part-time teller and eventually becoming a credit union branch manager.  After graduating her sons from college and divorcing in 1998, she moved to Seattle to be near family and opened Tussie Mussies & More, a florist specializing in the English Garden style.  In 2001, Barbara met her true soul mate - a romantic Scotsman named James Bradley.  She and James married in 2003 and moved to the UK, where she spent three years as "the one with the charming accent."  Upon receiving worrisome medical news in 2006, James brought her back to the states where she was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease and told she would need a transplant.  Despite her best efforts, she was ultimately unable to regain the strength necessary to survive a transplant.  When she passed, she did so only after hearing her husband and sons together at her bedside sharing stories, tears and lots of laughter.  Barbara is survived by her devoted husband, James Bradley of Issaquah, WA; her sons, Alan (Jill / Hunter, Grace) Ridlehoover of Issaquah, WA and Mike (Kristie) Ridlehoover of Coeur d’Alene, ID; her parents, Anne and Frank Simon of Camano Island, WA; and her siblings, Dana Simon of Bend, OR, Joe (Linda) Simon of Central Point, OR, and Gina (Craig / Brian, Zak) Simon of Bellevue, WA.  A celebration of life is planned for late spring.  Details will be published on the web at http://ridlehoover.com/barbara.  Please consider a memorial donation to Providence Marianwood Foundation (where the need is the greatest) or Swedish Medical Center Foundation (Charity Care).

Grateful for the time we had

In early 2007, just after Mom received the diagnosis that she had end-stage liver disease and would need a transplant, she began working with physical and occupational therapists to improve her strength.  But, she would only do the work while she was with the therapists - either in their offices or at our home.  Eventually, they stopped seeing her because Mom wasn't making any progress.  (Seems like mom needed more visits, not less; but that's insurance for you.) This pained me a great deal.  I wanted more than anything for her to get better.  I felt like she'd given up.  At one point, I even threatened to throw her out of my house for a lack of trying.  I told her that I wasn't going to sit idly by while she wasted away.  I couldn't be a party to that.  Like I said, it was very painful. By the time Hunter and Grace arrived, in March, 2008, mom's health was extremely poor.  She was incapable of walking or even standing without assistance.  This made the fact that she was on diuretics (for blood pressure - especially in the hepatic artery) and diarrheals (or laxatives, to remove ammonia from her colon before it entered the blood stream) all the more of an issue.  There was no way for her to get from the bed to the bathroom by herself. By June, 2008, there was no way to care for her at home.  She stopped taking the diarrheal (lactulose) during the day so as to avoid soiling herself while James was at work.  This led to a build up of ammonia that caused an encephalopathic episode which put her in the hospital.  While she was in the hospital, James and I made the decision to move her to a nursing home (on the advice of a very insistant nurse). It was very hard to watch Mom's health continue to decline.  It was especially difficult to think about Hunter and Grace never having the opportunity to get to know, first-hand, what a wonderful, creative, loving person she was.  At times, thinking about this made me very angry - angry at mom for not trying harder to get well.  Over time, that anger made it difficult for me to be around Mom.  I began (subconsiously) avoiding her.  And, I dragged my feet when we did go to see her. When I explained all this to the chaplain at the nursing home, during Mom's last week, he explained to me that God is our Father, and that perhaps He was reminding Mom what it was like to be loved unconditionally by a father through my interactions with the twins. This was especially poignant because my Mom never really knew her birth father.  He left when she was two or three years old.  And, her relationship with her adopted father - the man I know as "Grandpa" - was such that she never referred to him as "Dad." This touched me deeply.  Tears flowed out of me uncontrollably.  It was as though I'd been allowed a quick glimpse of God's master plan.  It was at once extremely emotional and deeply calming.  After all, by the time her liver disease was diagnosed, it was already classified as "end-stage," meaning that her liver had completely failed. At that point, she was already too sick to muster the energy to exercise in order to improve her condition. In the end, when Mom passed, I actually felt happy.  A deep feeling of peace came over me.  Rather than feeling sad, I felt grateful for the time we had.

My friend, Vince

We all have those people in our lives who leave a special mark.  We may not see them every day, but our memories and the emotions attached to those memories come on strong each time we think of them.  They bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. I had a friend.  He was a significant force in my life during our high school years.  He was there for many of the 'firsts' in my life - those rites of passage that we never forget and that, in many ways, help form us into the person we've become today. Vince Gallapaga and I were friends, never boyfriend and girlfriend, but always true friends.  We went to our first Sadie Hawkins dance at Rio together.  That's the event where the girl is supposed to ask the boy.  We were sophomores, and I didn't go to school at Rio so technically I couldn't invite someone to the dance, but somehow we decided to go together.  We dressed up in matching outfits: blue jeans, blue and white checked shirts, red suspenders and straw hats - I guess it was a western theme.  We double dated with Kim West and Jimmy Cuttle.  I don't remember the actual dance as much as the outfits and the friends, but I do remember it as a happy memory, and I have the picture to prove it. Vince was part of the first, and only, time that two boys nearly came to blows over me.  Well, technically, Vince wasn't fighting over me, but Kevin Anderson, my high school boyfriend, didn't always appreciate my friendship with Vince, and there was one night that he threatened to punch him.  We were in my parents' driveway on Ashton Drive.  Vince and I arrived home from a drive in his brother Keith's GTO.  Vince didn't get a chance to drive the GTO very often, so when he got the chance, he jumped at it.  When we got home, Kevin was in the driveway, quite upset.  I think we were going out that night, and when he arrived, I wasn't there.  We got out of the car, and Kevin threatened to punch Vince.  Vince had just had surgery on his nose, and was still quite bruised.  Needless to say, the last thing he needed was to get in any kind of fight.  My mom and sister, Carrie, were both outside, as well, and I have a vivid memory of Carrie jumping in between the two boys, yelling at Kevin to stop.  Ultimately, punches never flew, but there was a lot of teenage adrenaline in the air.  To this day, my mom tells that story every time Vince's name comes up! Vince was there the first time I drank a whole beer.  I believe it was Miller High Life and we were both so proud of my accomplishment!  That was the same night that The Vinces (Vince Gallapaga and Vince Meza) and I acquired the Vincent Avenue signs that hung in their bedrooms for years after that!  I can still remember clearly, sitting in John Gallapaga's Buick Regal, being the lookout.  I'm not sure what I would have done if anyone came along, but there we were, teenagers on a summer night, taking risks and building lifelong bonds. Vince G and I also had our first 'real' jobs together at Happy Steak on Arden Way.  He was the busser; I was the cashier.  We worked with people from the other side of the tracks, and realized that they were no different than us, trying to make their way, just like we were.  That was where we both figured out we were pretty good at taking care of people and making them feel comfortable.  We both carried this knowledge and this skill into our adult lives and continued to nurture the people we met along the way. Vince and I also experienced our first fender bender together - at the corner of American River Drive and Wilhaggin.  We had just gotten off work, and we were looking for a party - there was always a party going on somewhere.  We were debating whether to turn right on to Wilhaggin or continue straight toward Watt Ave.  At the last moment, Vince decided to turn, not realizing that another car was coming up behind us in the right hand turn lane.  We were hit from behind and the car spun, leaving us facing the wrong direction.  No one was hurt, and there was minor damage, but I remember thinking we were in trouble!  We had a six pack of beer in the trunk of the car, and thought for sure we'd be busted.  We traded numbers with the other driver, another teenager who was probably looking for the same party, and then made our way home to tell Vince's parents.  On the way there, we stashed the beer in the ivy in front of my parents' house.  I'm not sure what ever happened to that beer.  A few days later, I can recall sitting at the Gallapaga's kitchen table, with John at that helm, filling out insurance paperwork, and trying to remember the details of the collision.  I remember thinking it was such a hassle to deal with all that paperwork, and I told myself it would be easier just to avoid such incidents in the future. Vince and I had many memories along the way, and not all of them were 'firsts'.  After high school we went on to college; me to Davis, and Vince to Sierra College, and later to Chico.  We met up a few times during those years, and kept up with each other's lives from afar.  In 1997, when I moved to Seattle, Vince and I reconnected.  I learned that he was working at Anthony's in Ballard, and one Saturday night, I showed up at the bar, to find Vince doing what he always dis so well...  nurturing his guests and setting a great example for his employees.  He welcomed me with open arms, and with that our longtime friendship resumed.  We created some new memories; walking the dog at Shilshole, meeting for dinner on Queen Anne, going to a holiday party at the top of the Columbia Tower. Around the time that I met my husband, Alan, in 2001, I lost track of Vince.  I think that's when he went on his journey to Australia.  I became wrapped up in my new romance, and Alan and I married in 2002.  One thing I truly regret is that I didn't take the time to find Vince and invite him to our wedding.  He would have loved sharing that with us, and our other lifelong friends who were there. About a year later, my mom ran into Vince's parents, and they told her about his new venture - establishing a neighborhood restaurant in Seattle that featured Australian meat pies and good beer.  Mom didn't remember the name, so I googled Vince's name, and discovered the Pies & Pints website.  When my parents came to visit a few weeks later, we, once again, showed up in Vince's world to find him thriving.  The restaurant was new, but it was packed.  He was so excited to see us, and to meet my new husband, and although he was running from table to bar to oven and back, he ended up sitting with us for nearly an hour.  He told us all about the making of the restaurant, and his vision for what it would become.  He introduced us to hsi staff, whom he clearly cherished.  He was so proud to show off his creation.  Since then, we've visited Pies & Pints several times and each time Vince was there, nurturing his world.  The last time I saw Vince was a balmy summer night at the restaurant.  We were the last ones there, and Vince had gone home for a shower and then returned with his beloved dog, Darby.  Our friend Susie was visiting from California and there we were, doing exactly what Vince had envisioned - hanging out with friends in a comfortable neighborhood bar, talking about life and enjoying one another immensely. Vince died on Sunday, June 3, 2007.  He died in his sleep of a cardiac event at age 42.  All indications show that he wasn't aware of what was happening to him. Vince's death marks another rite of passage in my life.  He is my first peer and longtime friend to pass on.  I'm surprised by the depth of my mourning, and as Vince would advise anyone, I'm letting myself feel the pain.  It hurts and it heals.  Vince would appreciate the value of this experience and would tell me to embrace it - that it adds one more dimension to who I am. I am so fortunate to have had Vince in my life and to have been able to celebrate his life with his family and his collection of friends.  Sadly, I realize now, that I have experienced my last 'first' with Vince. (posted on behalf of Jill Ridlehoover)

Pronunciation is key

In 40+ years on this planet, I can probably count on one hand the number of cashiers, telemarketers, and sales associates who pronounced my name correctly without hearing it first.  Quite a few still miss pronounce it even after hearing me say it.  So, once and for all, the correct pronunciation is: [al-uhn] And, for those who must know, it is Celtic for "harmony." Oh, you thought I was going to talk about my last name?  Well, yeah.  How come "title" is never pronounced "tittle," but "ridle" is so often incorrectly pronounced "riddle?"  Seriously. [rahyd-l-hoo-ver] Not sure what it means, or even what the origin of the name is.  We think it is either Dutch or northern German.  But, we're certain it has been mangled along the way.