So, you made it to my “about” page. Since you are here, I have to assume you really do care about the person behind ToadMama. I’m a forty-something, happily married female. Getting closer to the big five oh every day. I love to travel in and around the Great Valley (and beyond!), especially on two wheels. Besides being a motorcyclist, I am an avid reader, aspiring writer and photographer.

The Nuclear Family

My husband, who I usually refer to as “Hubby,” is Mike. Here’s a picture of us together.

Mike and Me (September 2013)
Mike and Me (September 2013)

We have three children. They’ve all left the nest. Our eldest, Shannon (born in 1978), is happily enjoying the single life in Southern California.

Mike and Shannon
Mike and Shannon (April 2013)

Amy (born in 1981), our middle child, has been married to TJ since 2006. They have three kids: Brianna (born 2000), Gaige (born 2003), and Joey (born 2007).

Amy's Family (May 2013)
Amy’s Family (May 2013)

They are currently living in the Western US while he’s on assignment with the Army. Our youngest, Eric (born in 1989), married Kelsey in April 2013. Living in Maryland at the time of this writing, they will be moving to Spain sometime during the Spring of 2015.

Kelsey, Eric, and Me (January 2014)
Kelsey, Eric, and Me (January 2014)


The Dogs

You’ve probably met the dogs. Since they still live with us, they get more attention here than our human children.

Meg, K, and Belle
Meg (1999-2014), K (2006-), and Belle (2007-)

UPDATE: As of November 13, 2014, Meg is no longer with us. She was a few days short of reaching 15 1/2 years when her time came. We miss the crazy old gal…

Meg always looked like she had something to say.
Meg always looked like she had something to say.

 You can read her farewell post here.

More About Me

I never know what to write for these things. I’m just an average, ordinary, forty-something, American woman.

Most people wonder about the “ToadMama” moniker. Way back in the mid-90s when AOL Instant Messenger first started, I needed an IM name. I tried lots of different variations of my name, my name with Mama added (my girlfriends and I call each other Mama), my kids’ names, etc., to no avail. I was getting frustrated. My Internet provider at the time was ToadNet. “ToadMama” was the IM name I’d tried that was available, so I grabbed it. I’ve always liked frogs and toads, too, which is sort of convenient.

I started this blog in early 2008 for easy way to share news and pics from our Alaska vacation. That was supposed to be it. But I created the blog a couple of months before our trip. I couldn’t just let it sit there, empty, so I started doing general posts, which I actually enjoyed. I’ve been blogging here ever since.

I like sharing stuff. It gives me something creative to do, and it keeps family and friends up-to-date with what’s going on in my life and the lives of my family. And, actually, it’s become a personal diary of sorts. So I’ll keep posting, whether anyone reads it or not.

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Itching to know more?

Here’s an interview with me, which was posted at HelmetorHeels, as part of a series profiling female motorcyclists.

I pasted the text of that interview below, in case the link gets broken…

Originally posted on May 13, 2012 at HelmetorHeels

My next guest is another woman who stopped by the blog and left a comment on one of the profiles (hint, hint ladies). I made contact with her and she agreed to help me out! So I’d like to introduce to you Kathy a.k.a. ToadMama from Warrenton, VA.

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Got my license at 18. Rode for a few years then stopped when responsibility/real-life knocked. I always missed riding, though. So I took it up again about 10 years ago.

How did you learn to ride? I taught myself. Back then, I didn’t know there was any other way. The salesman who sold me my first bike rode it home for me. I got my learner’s permit and rode it around the neighborhood for a couple of months. I had a neighbor who already had his license that told me what the licensing course consisted of, so I practiced those maneuvers, too. I think I only did one or two rides beyond the neighborhood, with a licensed buddy, before taking the licensing test. I was one of very few people to pass it on my first attempt. That was awesome enough, but being a girl and doing that, while all the guys immediately before and after me failed, was even better.

What was your first motorcycle? A Honda Rebel 250

How many have you owned? Four. The Rebel, a V-Star 650, a V-Star 1300, and a BMW F650GS, which is my current ride.

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? Because it was fun. I had a couple of guy friends in high school that carried me around as a passenger on rare occasions. I loved it.

Tell us about your riding. Pleasure and vacation. I work from home, so there’s no commuting. When I ride, it’s just for fun. We (Hubby and I) do take overnight trips periodically, but have three dogs, so day trips are more common.

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Do it! Take the MSF safety course. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with a bike, get the feel for riding, learn the principles of safety, things to watch out for on the road, etc. Who knew manhole covers could be threatening, directional arrows are dangerous, watching what’s behind you can save your life, etc. Oh, and don’t start too small. You want to be comfortable and build confidence, but I quickly realized my little bikes just weren’t fast/powerful enough for me. Of course, I am tall so don’t have the seat-height issue many women have to deal with.

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? Um, probably our trip from Maryland down to the Smoky Mountains. Either that or the ride we did down through West Virginia, into Virginia and then Kentucky. I’d always wanted to see a bit of the real Appalachia. It was great riding.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Nope. Well, that’s a lie. There’s the BMW MOA, but I am not exactly an active member. They have a great magazine, which I read religiously, but I am not into the group thing. Somethimes I think that’s because I have a husband who also rides, so I am not always out there riding alone. Other times I realize it’s more likely because the whole club thing is too regimented for me. I love people, really. And I can be quite sociable. But enforced meetings? Largish group rides? Nah. Plus, there always seems to be one person in groups like that who is a real asshole, has a personality that grates on my nerves, etc. I prefer building my own little group of friends.

Do you have a favorite riding story? I’ve had lots of great rides over the years, but whenever someone asks about my “favorite riding story,” I invariably think back to our first motorcycle trip to Europe (a group tour). The riding is very different over there. People actually respect motorcyclists. Cars and trucks expect you to pass. They don’t try and run you off the road, they actually encourage it. Our group was going up one of the major pass roads, the sort that are full of switchbacks and hairpin turns. Because of all the turns, opportunities to pass are few. You have to seize the opportunity when you can. So after being stuck behind a car for several turns, when I saw an opportunity to pass, I took it. The “window” was narrow. I zipped past the car just in time to lean into yet another hairpin turn. It was very smooth, like the passing and turning were all one motion. That was sweet enough. But then later, when we stopped atop the pass to savor the views, a guy who’d been riding behind me was gushing a bit about the move I’d made (my turn) and how cool it was. It was pretty awesome.

What do you do when you’re not riding? Work. Ugh, which takes up way more time than it should. I write proposals for a clinical research organization (CRO). A CRO is not a pharmaceutical company, but we provide many of the services pharma companies need to run clinical trials. It’s interesting, but also very stressful. Always a deadline, never enough time to get everything done, and unpredictable days. Riding certainly helps de-stress from that. Your mind cannot wander too much while riding. Photography and reading are my biggest hobbies. I can’t forget blogging, which is actually sort of time consuming. I dabble a bit in sewing, too. And gardening (flowers). I’ve got three dogs that are my constant companions. And a husband. One or the other of us (usually him) always seem to have a home DIY project going on.

Kathy, Her Hubby, and Her Rides

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If that’s not enough info, you’ll just have to ask me whatever it is you want to know.