Today, I Am a Happy Storlanee

This morning started off like most mornings in our house. I was upstairs getting some baby wipes when Sophie ran to the bottom of the stairs and screamed, “James is peeing all over Tucker!”

I found this statement to be odd because (1) I had left James in his high chair, (2) James was wearing a diaper and (3) I couldn’t imagine Tucker just sitting somewhere, allowing himself to be peed upon (well, OK, maybe I could but still).

I ran downstairs. There was Tucker, underneath James’s high chair, liquid dripping on his head and all over the carpet beneath him. The liquid, though, was coffee colored. Most sane people, at this point, would think, Oh, my coffee spilled. I, however, thought, Why is James’s pee brown?

Of course it was my coffee. An entire cupful of coffee. It had spilled all over my laptop, my cell phone, a pile of receipts and our laminated cotton tablecloth (one strike against laminated cotton—spills don’t get sucked into fibers rather they slide off onto carpet). And now it was dripping onto Tucker’s head who didn’t care because he was licking up every drop he could get.

Now, before anyone is alarmed by the fact that, at this point, I wasn’t alarmed that coffee had also spilled on my son (James), please know that I no longer drink hot coffee. I make my coffee and tend to someone. I pour my coffee and tend to someone. I add creamer to my coffee and tend to someone. I move my coffee mug into whatever room I’m in at the moment, and tend to someone. And so on and so forth until I actually get to sip the coffee, in which case it’s lukewarm at best but usually cold.

I ran to the kitchen for towels while Sophie asked, “Mommy, why is James peeing on Tucker’s head? Mommy, why is there so much of it? Mommy, do you see it on Tucker’s head? I’ll clean up Tucker’s head, Mommy. Oh my gosh there’s so much of it!” (That “oh my gosh” is totally my fault by the way.)

I wiped—James, the laptop, the cell phone, the table, the receipts, the carpet, Tucker’s head.

And then, I poured another cup of coffee.

And then, the sun came out.

And then, a miracle happened.

The doorbell rang. It was Darlene. From Campbell County Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1).

Backstory: About a week ago we received a letter from SD1 informing us that the sewer line in our front yard needs to be replaced. They kindly told us that, after the four days of construction, they would fix our sidewalks, reseed our grass and haul away any trees that needed to come down. This was terrible news. We have—and our neighbors have—very large, very old, gorgeous trees canopying our houses. In addition, we have a beautiful dogwood that blooms late June and quite adequately blocks our view of the gas station when sitting on our front porch. I was crushed.

As such, I became The Crazy Tree Lady. I called SD1. I talked to our neighbors. Anytime I saw anyone with a construction hat on our street, I ran outside and questioned them. (As such, people with construction hats always crossed the street before passing our house.) I know, if the sewer line is broken, it needs to be fixed. But I also know I love those trees.

Back to the miracle.

Darlene was at my front door. Along with another woman who I had pleaded with earlier this morning. (When I had run out to talk to her she said, “You live in that house, don’t you.”) Darlene said they were rerouting the sewer line to save the trees. She said it was going to be more expensive, and would require two new manhole covers in the street, but, she added, “We like trees, too.”

I was shocked. I squealed out loud. I said, “thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over again. When they left, I did a little dance and squealed again. “What, Mommy?” Sophie asked.

Without thinking I said, “I’m a Happy Storlanee!” She smiled. And then I laughed.

You know you are deeply entrenched in your children’s lives when their language becomes part of your everyday vernacular. For months now, Sophie has called someone who is filled with joy a “Happy Storlanee.” For example:


After Sophie was done tickling James, she said, “Look, Mommy, he’s a Happy Storlanee!” (And, as you can see in this picture, Sophie was, too.)

I have no idea where this came from. Or why. But I love it. Andy does, too.

This morning, when dealing with a dog covered in coffee and a possibly broken laptop and cell phone (don’t worry, Andy, they work fine), I was not a Happy Storlanee. But right now, writing this while my children nap, the sun shines through the window and our beautiful trees prepare for spring, I am.

I hope this day finds you a Happy Storlanee at least once, too.

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne