Yooper Stewart: A Celebration

Is there anything more attractive than the man you love holding a baby?* I don’t think so, and for 30 seconds this summer, Yooper Stewart was the most attractive thing around!

Yooper Stewart’s always ridiculously adorable, of course. That’s part of his charm, and it’s that time of the year again when I like to honor and celebrate his charm.

I’ve obviously neglected this site this year — I’m sorry. Because of that, I have MONTHS worth of stories to share, and, like any good writer, now that I’m at my computer I can’t remember a single one. Instead, I’ll regale you with all the wonderful things about Yooper Stewart, then end with a quick re-enactment of last night’s celebration.

My Favorite Things About Yooper Stewart

1. Old ladies love him. Seriously, women 70+ can’t resist him, probably because he’s super patient and will not only help with anything but also listen attentively to all their stories.
2. Kids love him. Pretty much for the same reason as #1. He’s also a hit with toddlers because he’ll play the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again.
3. His feet are bigger than mine. Those of you with tiny feet won’t understand this because you can slip into ANYONE’S shoes, but when you have water skis for feet (like me), nothing fits. Yooper Stewart doesn’t have huge feet, but they’re bigger than mine — that means I can quickly slip into his Crocs to run out to the mailbox without worrying about getting my feet dirty!
4. He pays attention (sort of). We’ve had our fair of miscommunications (i.e. “I told you yesterday,” “No, you didn’t!”), but that doesn’t mean he’s not paying attention to other things. Here’s my favorite recent example:
I don’t have a laundry room, so I don’t have a utility sink. When YS brings home really dirty clothes, I have to soak them in the kitchen sink. Not convenient. I mentioned, “I should get a bucket or something so I can soak clothes on the washing machine,” then went out of town for several days. When I came back, there was a bucket on my washing machine. 🙂
5. He keeps moving forward. Yooper Stewart and I have a good life, but there’s always room to grow and change. He’s never said, “I’m good enough. I don’t need to learn anymore.” He keeps challenging himself and pushing himself, and he’s a better man for it.
6. The littlest things make him happy. Literally! The man loves Lego — have you seen the size of a 1×1 plate? But also, I wish you had heard his voice when I told him we upgraded our cell phone plan to unlimited data. I’m pretty sure he used more gigs of data in the first week than he did all of 2019.

I hope it’s pretty obvious that I love this guy, and I love celebrating him. And, because it’s been a while since I’ve shared one, here’s the latest exchange with Yooper Stewart (happy birthday, honey!):

Me: (turning on the TV) What do you want to watch?
YS: Highway Thru Hell!
Me: (groaning as I turn the channel)
YS: Why do you do that? You ask me what I want to watch, then make that sound.
Me: It’s your birthday weekend. I want you to watch whatever shows you want … I just wish you had better taste in TV shows. 😉

*Meet Little Z! Our newest nephew and my favorite baby in the whole world!

The End of an Era

The year was 2009. Yooper Stewart and I purchased our first home together. We packed, painted the house, and moved the week of Thanksgiving. Then, the night before turkey day — when both sets of parents were coming to our house — we discovered a tragedy.

No. More. Coffee.

It was late. It was dark. And, because this is Michigan, I’m sure it was snowing. We not only needed coffee to help us unpack, we knew we’d need it for the weekend, and there wasn’t anywhere close to buy coffee on Thanksgiving day.

No problem. Our new house is only two blocks from the grocery store! We headed over only to discover that our small grocery store offers the same disappointing coffee selection as most grocery stores — limited decaf selection.

You see, Yooper Stewart and I are a rare breed. We drink coffee because we like the taste; we don’t actually like the caffeine. Unfortunately, we like the taste of good coffee. In a perfect world, we could pick up Swiss water processed French roast decaf at any corner market. In reality, we’re lucky if most places have anything better than breakfast blend Colombia beans (bleh).

Back in 2009, we bought club-sized organic bags of decaf from Sam’s Club, but we couldn’t wait 36 hours to buy coffee, so we did it. We bought Maxwell House.

I don’t know why we bought such a large container, but we did. And it was terrible. I think we may have dumped the grounds after we were able to make it to the Club for our regular brew. The club bag didn’t fit in the cupboard, however, so we made a decision — keep the Maxwell House tub and refill it with our favorite beans.

For the past decade, we’ve done exactly that. There are now so many more decaf options available that we’ve never run out, but our coffee always comes in a bag, and the plastic air-tight tub is much more convenient (and clean!). The Maxwell House tub has been good to us, but it’s time to move on. We got a new couch and new toilets — it was time for a new coffee container. It was an unexpectedly emotional goodbye for Yooper Stewart, so we captured the moment on film (he has pictures of his shirts from high school too — the guy is so sentimental).

There’s a happy end to this story, though. Our coffee finally has a new grown-up home, and the Maxwell House container shall live on in the garage as Yooper Stewart’s new nuts-and-bolts box. It’s a good ending for everyone.

Traveling with Yooper Stewart

Because of my job, I fly a few times each year to attend conferences or visit family (because I can take my work with me). Yooper Stewart works close to home, so he doesn’t travel as much. When he does, it’s almost always to visit family or friends, which means vacation time.

Vacation time for Yooper Stewart boils down to two main things:

  1. Buying, sorting, or building Legos
  2. Unrestricted access to coffee and beer*

That second thing may not seem like a big deal, but it’s heaven for a truck driver, especially one who used to drive across the country (over-the-road, or OTR). You see, OTR drivers make money one of two ways: they’re paid by the mile or by the delivery. Either way, the more deliveries you can make in a week, the more money you make. That means the minimum number of stops, which means as few bathroom breaks as possible.

Most people take their liquid consumption for granted. Not Yooper Stewart. In the two weeks after he quit driving OTR, he drank approximately two pots of coffee per day—not because he wanted to drink that much, but because he could.

As you can see by the short list above, Yooper Stewart’s vacation demands are small. That’s why he’s happy to staycation—he has access to everything he wants at home. When we travel, however, there’s a problem.

The Legos.

He doesn’t indiscriminately play with Legos. He plays with his Legos. He collects the mini-figure-scale modular sets, and he knows how to build the sets as shown on the box as well as according to the alternate building directions available from master builders online. In his world, one Lego pet shop set yields a nice pet shop; a second pet shop with the right instructions, however, yields a vintage book store.

That makes out-of-town vacations interesting, especially when we fly. He wants to make sure he makes the best use of his vacation time, so he packs every Lego he might possibly need. Just in case. That means an entire carry-on roller bag full of Legos, which also means being stopped by the small airport’s TSA because they have no idea what to think of his bag when they see it on the x-ray machine.

I usually wait for Yooper Stewart on the other side of security while the TSA agent asks every teenage boy in the area, “Is this your bag?” YS is too distracted to respond (because he’s repacking the small buffet’s worth of food he had to unpack), so I wave at the nice woman, then point at YS. “That bag belongs to the tall gray-bearded man.”

Once we get through the airport and to our destination, it should be over, right? Hardly. I learned the hard way that when we’re at our family’s house and Yooper Stewart “unpacks the necessities,” what he means is he unpacked the Legos. Nine days later, when we’re repacking suitcases to go home, I notice the still-folded pants inside. It hits me.

“Have you been wearing the same pair of jeans for nine days?”

“It’s the only pair I have.”

“Did you check your suitcase?”

“I took the Legos out. I didn’t think to look there for more pants.”

He didn’t think to look??

(Deep, cleansing breaths.)

Next year, I promise to make sure he takes everything out of his suitcase. I also promise to make sure he changes his pants.

*Yooper Stewart would like to go on record saying he doesn’t drink a lot of beer; he just likes having access to it. I can vouch for him. He can make two beers last the entire afternoon.

Yooper Stewart Gets Older


This man.

He prefers “Maine Cabin Masters” to college football.

He wears socks with his Crocs (of which he owns five pairs).

He makes a living driving dirt from place to place.

He tries to convince me to let him grow out his beard each winter by telling me, “every inch equals an extra degree of warmth.”



He’s great with toddlers because he’s happy to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again with them.

He’s surprisingly sentimental.

He loves Christmas lights as much as I do.

He’s starting to absorb some of my snark (muwahahaha!).

He’s ridiculously finicky about clean windows.

I love this man. I love writing about him (and I need to get better about doing it!). He supports me, encourages me, tolerates me, and loves me. He never used to care much about his birthday, but I’ve cured him of that—the day that he came into the world is a day worth celebrating, so celebrate we will (probably with Legos).

Happy Birthday, Yooper Stewart!

Yooper Stewart Learns to Relax

Life with Yooper Stewart is many things. Boring is not one of them. I need to have a recording device surgically implanted in my hand so I’m always ready to record the conversations and comebacks that happen at my house — you poor folks only get a fraction of my reality.

These fun conversations are more than just entertaining, though; they’re proof that people can change. You see, Yooper Stewart was raised without the ability to tease. He’s always had a sense of humor (he still laughs at fart noises), but everything in life was serious. When we visited my parents and I entered the house saying, “You’re favorite child’s home!” he nearly panicked. No one in his family would say anything like that — wouldn’t that imply that the other children were therefore inferior?

Duh.

That doesn’t mean anyone believes it though (except for me and my parents — we know that I’m the favorite, we just don’t tell my sisters).

After more than a decade of marriage, however, and plenty of exposure to my family, the Yoop is relaxing. He understands that we don’t have to take every spoken word at face value. He’s turning into a decently funny human being. Don’t believe me? Check it out.


Me: I have this spot on my skin that randomly heats up, like someone put something hot on it, but it’s not actually hot to the touch, and the feeling goes away after a few seconds.
YS: Are you having hot flashes? I don’t know anything about hot flashes, but maybe it’s hot flashes.
Me: I don’t think that’s how flashes work.
YS: Maybe it’s spot flashes.


Me: Are you drying dishes with a wash cloth?
YS: It’s a micro towel.
Me: It’s a wash cloth.
YS: Or a micro towel.


YS: You married me for all the growth opportunities I provide.


BONUS: Yooper Stewart’s cure for an upset stomach—coffee and cream with ibuprofen. (Seriously, I don’t know how he kept himself alive when he was single.)

Peas or Plumbing?

Earlier this year I made a commitment to eat healthier. Part of that commitment: vegetables with every meal. That sounds simple enough, but let’s be honest—sometimes you can’t figure out how to pair broccoli with pancakes and other times you’re too tired (or lazy) to cook more than macaroni and cheese with hot dogs.

I haven’t figure out how to make broccoli and pancakes work yet, but I’ve mastered the mac and cheese and dogs conundrum—peas. Grab yourself a bag of frozen peas, pour them in, and viola! Veggies with dinner. Last month I made such a dinner; one digestive cycle later, however, and I had a predicament.

After the necessary rigamarole of eating, digesting, and eliminating dinner, I went about my business. Because I work from home, I tend to drink a lot of coffee, then drink a lot of water to counteract the acidity of the coffee. You see where this is going? Back to the bathroom. No big deal. I’m used to it. What I’m not used to, however, are peas floating in my toilet.

That’s right. I don’t know if I consumed too many peas, failed to properly digest them, or my plumbing failed, but a stubborn cluster of peas floated through the toilet. It didn’t concern me though. Surely they’d drown in my excess of coffee and water.

But they didn’t.

Huddled together, clinging to the surface, those peas tormented me through my coffee break, lunch, afternoon snack, and the next dinner! I had no choice but to warn my husband and ask for his assistance. Oddly elated to be asked to help in such a situation, my truck driver husband swelled with pride at the knowledge that nothing could survive an encounter with his digestive output.

BUT. THEY. DID!

Those stupid tiny veggies-I-had-to-have-at-dinner mocked me as they swam laps around my commode. But what if they weren’t mocking me? What if the peas were suffering (what I can only imagine must have been a torturous existence) because of our bad plumbing? We know our house has some issues that we’ve been saving up to fix, but it never occurred to me that our decision to be fiscally responsible would lead to the unnecessary anguish of innocent pisum sativum.

There was no time to test the theory, though. After dozens of flushes, the peas remained, and the cleaning lady was coming! I had a choice to make: my pride or my strainer? Being the frugal woman that I am, my strainer won, so when the cleaning lady arrived I had to explain the Pea vs. Plumbing debacle. I don’t know what she did or how she did it, but that afternoon I enjoyed a pea-less toilet.

The moral to this story? Sometimes we have issues in our lives that we can’t figure out. It doesn’t matter who’s to blame—the mutant peas or the failing plumbing. What matters is how you respond to the situation. Are you willing to risk your pride to ask for help? I’m glad I did (though I’m hesitant to eat peas anytime soon).

Hangry Stewart

Hangry: When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. (Urban Dictionary)

For the first thirty years of my life, I had no concept of the word hangry. It never made sense to me. If you get hungry, eat! There’s no reason to get upset. Just grab an apple, and get back to work.

And then I met Yooper Stewart. Hard working, handsome, sweetest-guy-you’ll-ever-meet.

I won’t lie: the first several years of our marriage were hard. We didn’t live together before we got married, so it wasn’t just being married that we had to figure out. We had to learn all about each other’s habits and living styles (and let me tell you—as one of three daughters—living with a man for the first time opened my eyes to whole new levels of clutter and body odors).

One thing I never would have anticipated: an adult man who’s incapable of identifying his body’s hunger cues. Someone who could wake up a confident, capable man, then regress to toddler-like logic and confusion by lunch time.

For years, we argued. I tried to reason with my overly sensitive husband, but he always found something else to whine about. His whining annoyed me. My annoyance frustrated him. His frustration made me anger. Eventually there would be yelling and tears.

More than a decade later, I’m starting to figure him out. This past weekend*, for example, went something like this…

YS: (holding an empty plastic storage container) I don’t know what to do with this.

Me: We don’t use it for anything. We could get rid of it.

YS: (sigh) I guess I could use it for my Lego store.

Me: I thought you were closing that, and you already have stacks of containers.

YS: Fine! (throws container into recycle bin)

Me: We don’t have to throw it away. We could donate it.

YS: (cue toddler voice) But then we’d have to wash it!

Me: What the heck? So we wash it! What are— (realization)

Me: (pours a bowl of cereal, pushes it toward Yooper Stewart, slowly backs away)

TEN MINUTES LATER

YS: I’m going to run to the store, then get started in the yard and work out in the garage. Do you need anything?

Crisis averted.

And that, my friends, is why I carry snacks with me everywhere.

*Yooper Stewart would like to go on the record as saying that he’s pretty sure I was hangry this past weekend, and that I may have been overreacting a bit too. (Doubtful, but I promised I’d let you know.)

A New Season, A New Truck

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!

Dr. Suess, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

His home for the past 18 months.

Eighteen months ago, Yooper Stewart started work as an over-the-road truck driver with a company downstate. They’re a great company that took care of YS, giving him a “welcome to the road” kit during his first solo trip, offering bonuses for everything from on-time deliveries to Long Island deliveries, and providing as much flexibility as possible in his driving schedule.

But when you’re gone for 10-14 days at a time and you’re commute to work is 2+ hours one way, it didn’t take long to become physically and emotionally tired — the last thing he wanted to do after a hard trip on the road was drive another two hours home, but he didn’t have a choice. And we missed each other. Bluetooth made it possible for us to talk a lot while he was gone, but that’s not the same as making dinner together or walking the dogs together.

It wasn’t easy to leave his first trucking job, but we knew when YS started driving that the goal was for him to eventually find a local job. Today, he started that job!

 

How Yooper Stewart enjoys coffee and breakfast before work on an early July morning.

This morning he drove thirty minutes to work. He’ll be home tonight in time for dinner. After he finishes work on Friday, he’ll be home for the weekend. And we can expect the same thing next week and the week after and the week after! He’ll still get to drive, enjoying hours a day to himself, but at the end of the day we’ll be home together (and Cooper will be one happy dog!).

The one downside … Yooper Stewart had to say goodbye to his beard. I like the beard. I’ll miss the beard. But we’re both happy to sacrifice it to see each other every night.

Here’s to a new season in a new a truck (and, hopefully, more frequent Yooper Stewart posts!).

This is what happens when you don’t have kids and your wife can’t do first-day-of-school pictures.

A Trucker and His Dog

Yooper Stewart & Lady Cakes

Once upon a time, Yooper Stewart met Super Cooper. Yooper Stewart wasn’t happy about Super Cooper because Yooper Stewart had recently said good-bye to his first love, Lady Cakes.

Mrs. Yooper Stewart, however, loved Super Cooper, so he stayed … and Yooper Stewart fell in love. Then YS hit the road as an over-the-road trucker, and he disappeared for weeks at a time. Super Cooper didn’t understand what was going on — where did Daddy go? When would he be home? How many times could he lick Daddy before he disappeared again?

SC made the best of his Daddy-less life by guarding shoes, sleeping with slippers, and keeping an eye on Mommy. Until the day Mommy decided to take a vacation.

She needed to find someone to watch SC. Normally, she took him to Camp Grandma where he got lots of snuggles and learned how to entertain himself by dropping a ball down the basement steps, then running down to retrieve it. But this trip was special (her first time to Jamaica!) so she decided SC needed a special trip. After making a few phone calls, she surprised SC with his ultimate adventure — a trip in Daddy’s truck!

SC didn’t know what was going on. Daddy was getting ready to leave (again), but he let SC jump in the car before he left. And then Daddy didn’t make him get out. And then Daddy took SC on a car ride! After two hours in the car, they got into an even BIGGER vehicle! It felt just like home — a big, soft bed, pillows, treats, a doggie bed. Exciting!

Yooper Stewart took Super Cooper through Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, and Arkansas. They spent most of their time in the truck, but SC quickly figured out the difference between stopping and stopping when setting the air brakes (FYI — when YS sets the air brakes, SC gets out of the truck!). They took daily walks together, cuddled at night, and — of course — YS introduced SC to dozens of people who agreed that he’s just about the cutest dog in the whole world.

YS didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked, but here’s a quick look at a little dog in a big truck:

Day 1 – 0 miles – so excited!

Meeting new friends in Tennessee. Mara LOVES Cooper!

Taking a “dog” nap in a dog bed. Many hours spent in this position!

“Dad…why did you take my bone? Where’s my bone, Dad?”

If you feel like you’re being watched…

…you probably are.

 

Super Cooper’s haul back to Michigan!

Yooper Stewart left the truck to get some paperwork. Suddenly the horn started honking!

I wonder why…

 

After 3400 miles…

After 3600 miles, Super Cooper was beat!

 

Yooper Stewart Saves the Day

Apologies for the hiatus. Yooper Stewart and I have both been busy, and it didn’t take long for the days, weeks, months to get away from us! After several months of silence, I put some pressure on YS – give me a story or get out of the house! (Not really, but I may have bribed him with tacos.) Unfortunately, he’s not the best communicator, so that conversation went something like:

Me: Tell me something interesting that’s happened recently.
Yooper Stewart: Um…

Eventually I got a few stories out of him but I won’t lie – they weren’t exactly interesting, but they were typical. Drivers in compact cars with death wishes cutting him off. Loading dock workers waking him up two hours early to unload his truck. Snow storms delaying his travel. Nothing noteworthy.

And then he opened with this line: I saved a trucker today.

Ding, ding! That sounded like a great story!

I’ll let you decide.

YS: I saved a trucker today.
Me: (impressed) Really, what happened?
YS: I backed into a dock–
Me: And saw a guy pinned behind a truck?
YS: No, I noticed his tire was off the rim–
Me: And the trailer was falling so you pushed him out of the way and to safety?
YS: No, I went over and pointed it out to him. I told him he might want to check the rest of his tires.
(Crickets)
Me: That’s it?
YS: Yeah.
Me: I thought you were going to say you held up a trailer so some guy could escape. Let’s tell people that. It’s a better story.

Yeah.

On the plus side, I asked him to send some pictures to share. This is what he sent.

Life with Yooper Stewart is certainly not boring! I’ll try to get more stories out of him over the next few months but I can’t make any promises about the pictures.