Heater, Mother of Lance

A Jon Armstrong sized tangent

If you haven’t been following Tyrant’s Flickr stream, you really should be, especially the video of the evil squirrel in our apricot tree. If you have dogs be sure to have them sitting nearby when watching this video because the memory of their reaction should keep you entertained for months. Just make sure nothing breakable is anywhere in the room:

Really quick… Leta and I were at my sister’s house on Saturday night for a family gathering in honor of my niece heading off to college. Jon stayed at home to put Marlo to bed, and at about 5:30 I got this text message:

Dogs just had major freakout. Squirrel on patio! Chase! Squirrel in basement window well. Dogs inside whining and panting.

My first thought was, seriously. The universe is totally screwing with me. I was totally kidding about this becoming the savage wild animal blog. KIDDING. Except I guess the Universe doesn’t have a sense of humor like some of my more vocal critics and is all DON’T YOU KNOW FEEDING VODKA TO INFANTS IS DANGEROUS.

Actually, vodka is very good at numbing the gums when the infant is teething, MOM.

I got home several hours later and made Jon tell me every detail because that squirrel was still in the window well. That giant squirrel. There are two who rule the back yard, and we identify them as Giant Squirrel and Little Squirrel. And I just realized how boring that is. They need proper names. Something like Notorious G and Lil Squee. And we’ll pretend they’re both originally from the Bronx.

The story goes: Coco began barking maniacally at the door leading to the back patio. Jon got up off the couch to investigate and saw Notorious G sitting on top of the patio coffee table and was all whoa, whoa, whoa. You can have the trees, G, but anything pertaining to the house is off limits. He communicated this to the squirrel by opening the door and telling Coco to GIT EEM.

Coco burst out onto the patio sending the squirrel clambering underneath the wicker ottoman. Chuck was upstairs somewhere reading Emily Dickinson, heard the piercing noises coming from both Notorious G and Coco, and then came running to see what the fuss was all about. Jon let him out immediately where he joined Coco in trying to crawl underneath the three-inch opening at the bottom of the ottoman. Let me take a moment here and say that dogs are really stupid.

Suddenly Notorious G lurched out from under the ottoman, dashed across the patio and headed to the first hiding place he could find. That happened to be the ten-foot-deep window well leading to one of the bedrooms in the basement. And that’s when Jon texted me. Well, after the dogs had followed the squirrel over to the well, realized they couldn’t eat him, and started crying like little babies.

Before I went to bed I found a self-racheting tie-down that we use when carting things on top of our car and secured it to the fence lining the window well, leaving enough dangling into the well that the squirrel could use it to escape.

Except, he was still there the next morning, and neither Coco nor Chuck would go and do their business. Instead, they craned their heads through the metal fence and made this noise:




Like they were strapped down and being stabbed with hot pokers.

I made it pretty clear to Jon that I would not be able to live with myself if this squirrel died in our window well knowing that we could have done something about it, and after I asked the Internet for advice he went to the shed and found a twelve-foot-long piece of sheet rock. After some pretty expert maneuvering, we were able to bend it without breaking it so that it resembled a ramp. Then I lined the top with peanut butter. Finally, I called the dogs in and tried to keep it quiet for several hours. Kind of hard to do when your infant is cutting six teeth simultaneously.

Fast forward a few hours and Notorious G was no longer inhabiting the window well. We assumed he had escaped, although we haven’t seen him since. I think he’s either hiding out for a while or looking for new turf. However, Lil Squee learned nothing from this encounter, and I know that he knew what was going on. Because he was throwing apricots at our head the entire time we were trying to save his sidekick. Can you even believe the nerve? You get stuck in that well, buddy, and I’m going to lower Coco in with a rope.

That wasn’t such a quick aside, was it?


The office remodel is coming along in the sense that most of the furniture that I’ve ordered has been delivered, minus a few storage units that we need to pick up. Some heavy decisions have been made, most important among them being the paint color: none.

Candice Olson just fell over.

I wanted to go with a few shades of gray throughout the whole room, but both Jon and Tyrant started making gagging noises, and I was all OH JUST SHUT UP. FINE. By keeping everything white the light gets reflected all over the room, and the angles will blend more seamlessly into each other than if we use different colors. Also, no extra cost! And no, the money we save doesn’t get added on to Tyrant’s check. Although I will admit that’s pretty sneaky YOUR MAJESTY.

Also, one of those crazy nooks is going to be used to house our color printer, and I’m going to set up the other one as a Daily Style photography space. The light comes in from the west through those windows, so for most of the day it’s perfect for taking shots in natural light. Ah hah! Some of you thought I had no idea what I was talking about when it comes to design! But you just didn’t count on the fact that I could fake it so well.

Tyrant’s office is also almost complete, minus some pictures and shelving units. Jon and I were browsing an outlet store the other day just looking around to see if there was anything interesting hidden in the shelves behind vinyl shower curtains decorated with smiling pineapples. And we found this awful, horrifying tiki planter and came up with the idea that we’d leave it on Tyrant’s desk, let him find it and sweat it for a while, and then tell him that we’d decided to go with a wild Polynesian theme in his room. Except before we could set him up he put an orchid inside it, took a picture, and told us he adored it. Couldn’t wait to see the tiki bar we planned to put underneath his window.

The Tiki Planter

Next week we’ll have our second video installment featuring all the furniture I picked out, plus I’m going to get Tyrant on camera in all his glory. Anyone have any suggestions as to which dance move I should attempt next? Remember, I have no shame.


Disclosure: Many thanks to Verizon for helping us take this next step. This house requires a phone on one’s person at all times, so another big thank you to Verizon for the 3 Motorola Droid X phones that help us stay connected during this time of chaos and adjustment as we redo our office. We’ll be sharing some behind the scenes photos and videos over the coming weeks. Learn more about how Verizon helps keep you connected here.

  • doobrah

    2010/08/25 at 7:46 am

    Just wait until those apricots start fermenting. Drunk Bronx squirrels!! Can’t wait for that story!

  • SwissMiss

    2010/08/25 at 7:47 am

    the Macarena!! dooooooooooooooo it 🙂

  • Maggles

    2010/08/25 at 7:51 am

    I’ve always been a fan of the Roger Rabbit (backwards Running Man) and if you can do the Cabbage Patch at the same time, Woah. Please let me see your tall skinny body do the Running Man, oh god please.

  • ninesandquines

    2010/08/25 at 7:52 am

    i think you learned your lesson about tyrant….he take no shit from nobody and gives it back just as well 🙂

  • Melateer

    2010/08/25 at 7:53 am

    You know, maybe once you live there for a year, you’ll be insane enough to whole heartedly (hyphen?one word? TWO?) believe you have a gentle bobcat living in the shed.

  • Melateer

    2010/08/25 at 7:53 am

    You know, maybe once you live there for a year, you’ll be insane enough to whole heartedly (hyphen?one word? TWO?) believe you have a gentle bobcat living in the shed.

  • Lisa Dickie

    2010/08/25 at 8:19 am

    Love the gangsta names! Go geeky with some New Kids shuffle or stick with the gangsta theme and rump shake it! Pretend you are Beyonce if that’s too gangsta. I am feeling for you with the teething. My 14 month old is getting her 4 pointy (eye?) teeth + 4 molars which = much sleep deprevation. Hang in there!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/08/25 at 8:28 am

    The Sprinkler! Those long, noodly appendages are just MADE for the sprinkler:) Or if not that, the Shopping Cart!

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/08/25 at 8:30 am

    We use to have squirrels in our yard–until one of our dogs got lucky and caught one as it feel from the fence. We made her drop it–she did get the shit scratched out of her nose (those squirrels fight like girls-dirty eye-gouging and scratching). Now we don’t seen any squirrels venture into our backyard to steal birdseed.

    I’d love to see you rock a dance like Shakira. Just a thought.

  • Brookelyn Bridge

    2010/08/25 at 8:33 am

    I am thankful there really aren’t any bears in your neck of the woods.

    I can make a noise that causes squirrels to attack. It’s a gift.

    And I loved the pictures Tyrant took of you & Jon. So sweet to see photos of you two together. We don’t get nearly enough of those kinds of pictures either. Probably because no one is ever around to take them.

  • EarlGreyHot

    2010/08/25 at 8:46 am

    You know what that Tiki planter reminds me of? The adventure game Monkey Island. Anyone remember that?

    This would totally be the kind of thing you’d walk past a thousand times, only to realize later it was something you should’ve put in your inventory because it is the missing piece of the Tiki-mural you need to complete before the secret passage opens in the inactive volcano on the remote island.

    Either that, or it’s part of the decoration in the governor’s house that later turns out to be the long-lost spitbucket of the pirate-admiral which you need to contain his unruly ghost in, lest he haunts you for all eternity. And the orchid is the essential bit needed as a stopper for the bucket, because the admiral had an allergy, which was what actually killed him (a trained assassin-pet-monkey put orchid-seeds in his rum). Go and listen, you might be able to hear him curse in there 🙂

    Man, I loved that game.


  • Ambrewskins

    2010/08/25 at 9:04 am

    I’m pretty sure Little Squee is a red squirrel and they are bad, bad, bad news. Like “eat a hole into your attic roof and destroy everything” kind of bad. Keep an eye on him!

  • Cooky

    2010/08/25 at 9:22 am

    Attack of the killer squirrels.

    Coco and Chuck are terrified of those nasty flying rodents for a good reason.

    I like white for rooms especially when you have such awesome sunlight coming from so many angles.

  • Therese

    2010/08/25 at 9:26 am

    Ooooooooooh. Please Hammer Dance it up, dude. I mean Dooce. Please! I am already laughing at the mental picture.

    Also, I love how much you care about animals. Even the insane ones that want nothing more than to pellet you with apricots.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/08/25 at 9:32 am

    I was just gonna say what doobrah said. I have had drunken squirrels before in my yard and it is HYSTERICAL.

  • ladydayholiday

    2010/08/25 at 9:37 am

    I have two words for you and your squirrel problem. Pellet Gun. My dad’s dogs get excited every time he sits out on the back porch with his pellet rifle because they know they’re going to get evil squirrel to snack on. And yes, I know that is pretty country but squirrels can be some pretty destructive creatures. They’re fluffy demons. Digging up my potted plants and fornicating in the attic space above my bed at night to keep me awake with their LOUD squawks? CHECK AND CHECK.

  • Becky Cochrane

    2010/08/25 at 9:59 am

    I played the video for my dogs. They couldn’t be bothered to wake up. Next I’m getting them one of those tiki planters.

  • tokenblogger

    2010/08/25 at 10:10 am

    Put more delicious squirrel food in all your neighbor’s yards (front and back)…

  • jantzie

    2010/08/25 at 10:24 am

    Ummm… shall I be the first to ask? Where might one find that tiki planter? I adore it as well. 🙂

  • GlamourGirlSabrina

    2010/08/25 at 10:33 am

    You should totally do the Macarena or break dance with the catarpillar and windmill! LMAO! Love all you’re doing, as usual!!


  • Erika from Canada

    2010/08/25 at 10:36 am

    I found Notorious G. He’s binging on comfort food after a stressful night in your window well. http://twitpic.com/2i2q2c


    2010/08/25 at 10:57 am

    Have I ever told you about the squirrel (for some weird reason we called him Simon) who grabbed a PBJ sandwich out of my 2-year-old’s hands?

  • rtsmama

    2010/08/25 at 10:58 am

    Many years ago we lived in a very old house and a squirrel made its way into our spare bedroom. It couldn’t find its way out and we couldn’t let it out into the rest of the house so we shut the door. After much deliberation we decided there was only one solution. We had to shoot the damn thing. Yep, my husband retrieved his .22 pistol and shot it dead. Blood and guts all over the wall and carpet. It was disgusting. They are pesky little SOB’s and will destroy everything given the chance. Yep, get a pellet gun.

  • ATV_07

    2010/08/25 at 11:04 am

    An idea for your office remodel. You mentioned all those messy cables and I cant wait to see how you manage those. Perhaps a nest for squirrels. Or how about if Verizon would offer this for free on all new customers who mention “dooce”

  • shuggilippo

    2010/08/25 at 11:07 am

    Oh dear lord, please do The Sailboat next video…

  • hmae25

    2010/08/25 at 11:33 am

    You should get all ghetto and do the “stanky leg” or the Carlton (Fresh Prince of Bel Air).

  • chasingamazing

    2010/08/25 at 12:16 pm

    One morning this Spring my husband ducked and scurried back through the screen porch door as I warned him of the squirrel I’d just seen perched inside above the door. It took over four hours, the use of a hockey stick to poke him (the squirrel, not my husband!) in the butt, one scream from hubbie when the squirrel missed landing on my head by an inch, and fun with deck furniture cushions to get him off the porch.
    That was almost as fun as the night my husband came squealing back in from the same porch after going out there to grab soda and encountering a raccoon who snuck in after chewing a hole in the screen.

  • Kayscoth

    2010/08/25 at 12:26 pm

    If we are going with a dance that will prove your lack of shame, I second whoever has suggested the sprinkler! I think that it would be visually fucking amazing! 🙂 But as a second choice, the stanky leg would also be quite hilarious.

  • freckleface

    2010/08/25 at 12:43 pm

    Soulja Boy 🙂

  • Lily Hydrangea

    2010/08/25 at 1:02 pm

    we never had squirrel problems until our cat Sylvia passed away. now the squirrels in our yard have taken over Sylvia’s old fence post perch & in the process, chewed off all of the fine wood detail as well as regularly taunt our dog Priscilla to chase them up a tree.
    Cats don’t seem to chase squirrels, Sylvia wouldn’t even let them enter the yard unless they were traveling through the tree tops.
    Is it possible for you to get a cat?

  • mjryates

    2010/08/25 at 1:17 pm

    Gosh, I never knew squirrels could be so destructive. The squirrels here in Bloomington are smarter than the students… they at least look both ways before crossing the street.

  • jan001

    2010/08/25 at 1:20 pm

    The squirrels in my yard have figured out that Lydia can’t get to them through the glass. Lydia, on the other hand, has not figured this out. They sit on the windowsill all “Yeah, you’d like summa this, wouldn’t you? Come on, reach for it, you know you want it.” I offer photographic evidence: http://bit.ly/9LFway (my Flickr account)

    Forgive the quality — I had to shoot it quick with my phone. Lydia’s petite and the squirrel’s pretty robust, may even be related to Notorious G.

    And I cast another vote for the Macarena!!

  • craftyashley

    2010/08/25 at 1:48 pm

    OMG. My dogs have never seen/heard a squirrel IN THEIR LIVES, but with just that sound, they perked their ears up, and started pacing the floors.

    Hatred for squirrels must be in their DNA.

  • Jennyville

    2010/08/25 at 1:51 pm

    We have a Blue Heeler and the pair of squirrels in our back yard take great pride in TORTURING HER. They sit just out of reach on the trunk of the tree and chatter just like it’s tea time at the Buckingham Palace. Everything is just grand in the life of a squirrel. Ok, so I’m a little jealous. How awesome would it be to sit just out of reach and torment those who would choose to torment you first. TAKE THAT INTERNET!

  • AshesVonDust

    2010/08/25 at 3:05 pm

    An orchid. AN ORCHID?! I just swooned a little.

    Also? I heartily approve of your squirrel names. Perfect.

  • Becky Cochrane

    2010/08/25 at 3:33 pm

    Hmmm. Considering what Lily at #30 said, perhaps you should have held on to Susan Diego. Or at least you could welcome the return of the Mythical Bobcat.

  • Robin DoddPhoto

    2010/08/25 at 4:34 pm

    Okay.. I’m such a dork. Just figuring out how to be a part of the community of Dooce : ) Yea! I’m in!

  • Sneeka

    2010/08/25 at 5:43 pm

    Okay first of all, those squirrels are so cute. Like adorable. I’m from New York, Harlem as a matter of fact – just minutes from the Bronx (or da BX) and our squirrels are HUGE! From Central Park to DUMBO to SoHo to the BX our squirrels look like furry cats. They make those little pipsqueaks look like, well…pipsqueaks. Next time you are in NYC – take a moment from fabulous Gwyneth meetings and please go take a stroll through Central Park (uh, in the daytime) and see our squirrels!

    And I love Tyrant and his Flickr!

  • PaigeWAydensMama

    2010/08/25 at 5:45 pm


  • mandinka

    2010/08/25 at 5:54 pm

    Dammit woman! There better be a video/photo of Chuck reading Emily Dickenson forthcoming.
    Or at least a masthead featuring Notorious G and Lil Squee.

  • mkdsmall

    2010/08/25 at 6:47 pm

    Seriously this is one of my favorite posts of all time! Little Sqee! LOL. I will say that those are the skinniest squirrels I have ever seen – here in Massachusetts that are fatter than I have ever seen!

  • Ezza

    2010/08/25 at 9:07 pm

    Back on the DANCING suggestions. I would very much like to see Heather doing the Elaine Bennis dance. Ostrich in a blender, oh yes.

  • HeckYes

    2010/08/25 at 9:48 pm

    I think that tiki planter is possessed or something. That thing gives me the creeps! If you ever want to get rid of it you might have to put it through a wood chipper like Rob & Big had to do with that creepy cat statue thing that Big had. You don’t mess with that shit!

  • txgrrl

    2010/08/25 at 10:04 pm

    After playing that video my dog is now fiercely guarding the front door. At least she stopped barking.

    I’m in love with those squirrel names. I think it is time to name ours.

  • shellipsm

    2010/08/25 at 10:31 pm

    first of all, dear Heather, those squirrels are TEENY TINY compared to the darlings we get in the Big Apple.

    And um, did y’all give up your iphones? Or is this in “addition to?”

  • wboswell

    2010/08/26 at 12:57 am

    Look, woman – you promised us a bobcat, and I WANT MY BOBCAT.

  • everydayamy

    2010/08/26 at 5:45 am

    The worm!

  • Bluestalking

    2010/08/26 at 7:01 am

    HAHA! Can I ever identify. I have two Jack Russell terriers (I know, right?). JRTs like to dig, and squeeze themselves into very tight spaces. We have a shed in the back of our yard (as in the kind you store things, not as in rusty tin roof), under which a SKUNK considered moving. While he was in there with his realtor, my dogs were going absolutely nuts. The smaller and younger of our dogs squeezed under there with it. I think you know where this is going.

    And yes, it did. Times two.

    So, my 16 year old daughter got out a can of pureed tomatoes to give the girls a bath. My daughter! Willingly doing work! Anyway, long story short, tomato sauce seems to be a total myth, but when the dogs shook themselves post-bath the place looked like a murder scene. I’m still finding bits of tomato in odd places, and this was two or three months ago.

    But doncha love ’em?

  • Bluestalking

    2010/08/26 at 7:04 am

    P.S.: Our smaller/younger JRT climbs trees to get to squirrels. No joke, kid you not.

  • Bluestalking

    2010/08/26 at 7:05 am

    P.P.S.: The CHA CHA! Or Salsa, with the Tyrant.


Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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