Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the night time, is the ... wrong time

Apparently my dad used to call the late-afternoon/early-evening the "arsenic hours."

I don't know if it's something he came up with himself, if he learned from friends, or heard from his own parents. I just recently learned it from my older sister who started her family years before I did, so her kids were still young while Dad was alive, and I think he must have mentioned it to her during those "early years."

Well, we're smack in the early years now with K&L, and while I wouldn't trade them for anything, there are definitely nights.... Last night was one of them.


M is working late this week, so I was on my own. And that always adds layers of depth/complication to any experience with the girls.

In addition, K&L got new lunch boxes yesterday. K has been wanting one because the older kids in her class have them (the kids that stay the full day at school). And so , of course, did L, though she doesn't really have any notion at all of what the hell a lunch bag/box is for.

Yesterday, after dropping K off at school, M took L to Target where they found some lunch bags and L walked around the store with hers, refusing to let go of it.

When I got home the girls were both busy packing/unpacking/zipping/unzipping their bags. They had containers of pita chips and cereal, water bottles, pacifiers, an occasional piggie (#2 of the 3 pigs, for anyone paying attention), and anything else they could fit in. All was well with the world, everyone happy.

Now and then I was needed to help with a stubborn zipper or to rearrange contents to allow for closing. But mostly my purpose was to admire (K: "Daddy, this monkey on my lunch bag." "I know!" L: "Thith monkey!" K: "Actually, it turtle." "Actually K, it's a froggie." L: "It foggie.") and the afternoon went smoothly. Curious George video, soup for dinner, some thunder (K: "Storm coming?" "Maybe!" K: "K no like thunder." "Really? Why? Isn't it fun?" K: "You like thunder? Why like thunder?" "Because we're in here all cozy and cuddled up." K: "Maybe storm come!" L: "Thtom come!"), heavy rain, bath time, more heavy raining, then upstairs to brush teeth and hear stories.

The happiness leaks away:

We settled into our big bed with toothbrushes and books and lunch bags.

Complication: both girls wanted laptime.
Solution: L on one thigh, K on the other. Precarious but workable.

We started with Spot's First Christmas (K's choice), then moved on to Go Dog Go (L's choice). Partway through that K said that the bed was wet. "Feel!"

I felt. Damp. From the water bottle in her lunch bag (which she had with her, had had with her since I'd gotten home. Would have had even in the bathtub if I hadn't I refused to allow that). I told her the water bottle was leaking and that it had to come out.


She needed it. She might get thirsty. It had to be in there! I was tired, ready for bed myself but facing a dirty kitchen before I could crawl into bed. I put my foot down, said "It has to come out," and pulled it out. (I pulled out L's bottle too, though it wasn't causing any problems because she was much less figety with her bag.)


Crying and screaming. Screaming and crying. Rain lashing the roof (this wasn't connected in any way to the water bottle, at least not that I'm aware of, but it provided some nice "white noise" cover for our goings-on). I told K that she could listen to the rest of Go Dog Go if she wanted, or she could head to bed. But I was not going to allow the water bottle in her bag. Crying! Screaming!! L and I finished up the book with some distraction (it's a little hard to concentrate if your older sister is howling just across the lap from where you're sitting).


I finally finish up L's book and carry her out to her crib. She seems tired and ready for bed, but K is still kicking up such a fuss that L can't settle down. Finally get L into bed, K crawls up in her own bed, sniffling and whining and sometimes crying loudly until I say "I'll take your lunch bag away if you don't quiet down," and that settles her a bit. (ha!)

Now L stands up and wants to get "outoutout!" and I lay her back into her bed and she twists and struggles and K starts crying again about needing water and how she needs to have her bottle in her lunch bag. I lay L out again, said "good night" and left.

(30 seconds) Later, downstairs:

L is crying loudly now.
is yelling too.
I go back upstairs and, after asking K if I should hold L, get L and sit with and sing.

K:"K can't sleep."
me: "Then lie quietly."
K: "K can't lie quietly."
(L is by now snuggling into my chest, calming down and wiping her nose on my sweatshirt.)
K: "K can't lie QUIETLY." Making her point nicely.
me: "Do you want me to take your lunch bag away?" Making my own counter-point. "You can lie quietly or go downstairs to lie on the couch. Quietly. I'm trying to get L to sleep!"

Finally get L into her crib, tuck her tightly with blankets (did I mention it's, like, winter here now? -30 or so degrees, miserable, reminding me that I don't like to be cold?).

K: "K can't sleep."
me: "K, you have 2 choices -- you can lie quietly up here, or lie quietly downstairs on the couch."
K: "Lie downstairs on couch."
me: "Ok."

I pick her up along with Sammy-the-doll and her lunch bag, and we beat a retreat out of the room before L kicks up another fuss.

K lays on the couch where I put her with a kiss, rattling her pacifiers for 30 or 40 minutes while I do the dinner dishes. She falls asleep at some point while I'm cleaning. I don't have another word with her. L is out and stayed out all night.

Luckily I'm too tired to look for my arsenic.

(But this begs the question: are the arsenic hours that time when you want to take arsenic? or when you want to give it to someone else? or both?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

definition: actually

"No daddy, you're wrong."

me: "Look at that airplane."
K: "Actually, it float plane."

Alternate pronounciation: acthually

L: "Acthually float pane."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I know I had it comin'...

We've been lucky with regard to music and the girls. I've intentionally steered them away from the more "traditional" kids tunes/singers and toward songs/artists I think I can stand to hear for 10-20 million times in a 3 week period.

So, we have a playlist that includes (among other things):
  • Bruce Springsteen (Froggy Went a Courtin')
  • Kate/Anna McGarrigle (The Swimming Song)
  • Johnny Cash (Busted, Jackson, John Henry, and of course Folsom Prison Blues)
  • The Beatles (Yellow Submarine, All Together Now, I Will)
  • Split Lip Rayfield (The Weasel, the Bean, the Frog and the Dog)
Inherent in this approach though are the "landmines" of more adult-appropriate content in these songs. For example, we tend to sing loudly and indeterminately over the "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" line of Folsom Prison Blues. So far neither girl has asked about it (or about the strong cheering reaction it gets from the inmates in the live recording).

But this morning K noticed that Johnny says goes on to say that "I know I had it coming."

K: "Why 'had coming'?"
me (a teachable moment!): "He did something he wasn't supposed to do. Something he was told not to do."
K: "Why?"
me: "I don't know why. Why do you sometimes do things you shouldn't do?"
K: "K no know why. He get timeout?"
me: "Yes, he got a timeout."
M (in the background): "Loooong timeout."
K: "Hang my head and cry."
me: "That's right. Cry cry cry!"
L: "Hang head cwy cwy cwy."

Friday, September 25, 2009

dorkness on the edge...

(overheard from the kitchen)

M: "Come upstairs and we can choose some socks."
K: "It dork up there."
L: "It dork...."
M: "I'm turning on a light."
K: "It still dork."
L: "Thtill dork!"

I'm pretty certain they weren't talking about me because I was downstairs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

these boots...

Swinging West Seattle town! Mini-ish skirt and go-go rubber boots.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

cry, baby, cry...

For the 2nd night in a row, and for the 2nd week in a row, L has refused to go to bed quietly. She was our "problem sleeper" from the start, needing to be in our bed until the middle of this summer (at 19 months). But then she started laying down nicely and going to sleep.

Now she stands and calls out "Daddydaddydaddydaddydaddy...." and drops her pacifiers and starts to cry and if I go up she lifts her arms and says "Upupupupupupup" and I tell her she needs to lie down and go to sleep now and she says "No!"

Meanwhile, over in her big-girl bed, K sits up and says in a loud whisper, "L keeping me awake!"

I say "I know" and go back to trying to convince L that it's time to lie quietly.

L: "Uh uh."
me: "Yes."
K (across the dark room, whispering): Daddy, L keeping K awake."
me: "K, lie down please."

After one round of this, leaving the girls in the beds and going downstairs, then needing to go back up, I tell L, "I'm going to let you cry. It's going to be hard on you and hard on me and hard on K."

L: "Okay."
me: "So lie down now."
L: "No."

I leave them again, telling K that she can come down to the living room couch if she wants. And I sit listening to L cry for 10 minutes. To K's credit, she toughed it out upstairs in the same room with L. I climb back upstairs.

K (whispering): "Daddy..."
me (loud "whisper"): "I know."
L: "Daddydaddydaddydaddy. Upupupupupup....."

I stand over her crib, unsure of what to do now. Last night I ended up picking her up and holding her while I sat in a chair, singing a couple of songs before laying her down successfully. But if I do this again, is it a cop-out? Am I establishing a bad pattern, one we won't be able to back out of?

K (loud whisper): "Daddy, hold L in that liddy (little) chair for liddy while."
me (thinking): what the hell.

I pick L up and sit with her and sing "Sweet Baby James" (substituting her name for "baby james"), then "Close Your Eyes." It's a James Taylor kinda night, and I've already used up "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Jingle Bells" during the normal bedtime routine. She snuggles in hard and quiet, and when I stand up to lay her down she lets me tuck her in. K jumps up off her bed and comes to reach through the crib slats and run her hand down L's head in a gesture that catches me off-guard with it's sweetness and caring. I help K up into her bed and tuck her in and kiss her good night with a "thank you for helping."

And we're done. For one more night.

happiness runs in a circular motion...

... and carries a popsicle!

let's get physical...

In thinking about last weekend's race, I've come to the following conclusions:

  1. I've only begun getting into proper shape for paddling (at the level I'd like to paddle)
  2. um... there may only be that one conclusion....
DougN has been working at getting us into shape, bringing specific workouts to practice and increasing the length and intensity of our workouts. It's been a good thing, something I've appreciated and even enjoyed: paddle hard for 2+ hours and come back to the beach physically exhausted, work as a team and feel the boat jump under us when things start clicking. It really is a great feeling when that happens, and it's not a men/women thing. Some of the best feeling boats I've been in have been mixed crews during our evening practices.

I'm in better shape than I have been in some time. I feel strong and have a bit of endurance. But during/after Saturday's race I realized that the good teams, the teams we were chasing, had better endurance and conditioning. They were paddling at a level they could sustain longer than we were able to do.

We were neck-and-neck with the Kikaha boat (largely novice paddlers, with DougM as their secret weapon) for the first 6 miles. Ahead of them, but not out of reach, were Wakinikona and ???. After making the turn at the buoy, we fell back and by the ~9mi point all 3 of those boats were effectively out of sight. That suggests to me that we just weren't paddling at the same level as we'd done in the first 1/2 of the race.

Jasen called for regular power 10s (which involve 10 strokes with increased effort and speed, usually in groups of 4, so "next change, 4 power 10s!"), and for a while they made a difference. We'd visibly gain ground on Kikaha, then slowly drop back again. But at some point the power 10s stopped being particularly effective (he said as much afterwards) and he switched to a "next change, everyone give me a little bit more!" tactic.

After the race I felt tired, but not like I'd used up everything I had. At the same time, I was aware that my technique was falling apart near the end, due to both conditions and being tired. That's not what I'd like to feel at the end of a race. I'd like to be able to keep my stroke technique all the way through, and drain my body by putting everything into the effort. I'd like to be able to keep up with the good boats.

So, bottom line, I'm not where I want to be, conditioning-wise.

The good news is that Doug's going to be continuing to help with our practices. And I intend to keep paddling through the winter. The not-so-good news is, the weather will inevitably turn less pleasant, and we'll be doing fewer (no?) OC6 races, so I'm going to need to "man-up" and start paddling in an OC1 or OC2 and do some races in those boats.

What's scary about that is that there's no one else to hide behind. If I don't do well in an OC1, there's no one else to blame. It's me and.... myself. The exposure will be good, but it's a bit scary. In spite of feeling that I'm in better shape/condition, the only thing that will prove it is getting out from behind the curtain of an OC6 and into the spotlight of a smaller boat.

One other complication is that an OC6 is as good as the combined crew. SOCC has a reputation for strong women's teams. Not so much for men's teams. And we'll need to have a full boat of men who want to paddle at the same level. If not, 4 or 5 out of 6 simply can't keep up with a fully committed 6-man team.

Monday, September 21, 2009

getting our ducks in a row...

have you heard, the word is...

Word(s of the week):

  • glubth
    L(while 'helping' with yardwork while coveting her sister's gloves):
    "L need glubth. K hath glubth. L need glubth."

  • acthually
    me (offering some roast chicken):
    "Do you want some chicken?"
    K (thinking I'm offering last night's dinner):
    "Actually, it's called steak."
    L: "Acthually, ith theak."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

it's been a long cold lonely... summer?

(photo credit: stolen from Jocelyn Ritchie. That's her, third from the left. -- thanks Jocelyn!)

There's a chill in the air this morning, though the sky is clear. It feels like fall, and that seems fitting because yesterday we finished up the summer paddling season with the "Hatless Island Race" up in Mukilteo.

On an overcast and decidedly Northwest feeling day (it'd been raining since early morning but stopped long enough for us to race 12 miles), the SOCC men paddled to a 4th place finish, while the women surged to a 2nd place finish among the women.

I'd been confused about the name of this race because I've seen it both as "Hat Island Race" and "Hatless Island Race." It turns out that it used to be the Hat Island Race, but they rerouted it a couple of years ago so that it doesn't cross the ferry path between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island. So now instead of being a 15 mile loop around Hat Island, it's a 6 mile run down the coast, around a buoy and back again, a "Hat Island-less" or Hatless Island race.

Friday was beautiful. It felt like summer again after some hard rains. Early Saturday morning it started coming down and kept raining until about 8.30a, at which point we were rigging the canoes. This was the first race I'd been at without Sabine. She's the mainstay on all things outrigger, so having to rig without her added a new stress for me, but at the same time I learned more about rigging this time than ever before. Mostly Rob and Jasen and Doug did the rigging (I think), but I helped and managed to do more than in the past.

The water was slightly lumpy from a north-northwest wind, and there was a fishing derby going on in the middle of the channel between Mukilteo and Whidbey, which meant both lots of boats, and lots of boat wakes. We were advised to stick to the east side of the channel to stay out of the way of boats.

We all launched, and because there were few enough entries in each division, we all raced together. In our canoe Rob was in 1, I sat in 2, Doug in 3, Zachary in 4 and Erik in 5, with Jasen steering. We practiced one start, a quick digging out by sprinting for 4 changes of 16, then shifting to strong, long pulls. Then we got in position and waited.

The starts on these races seem to be somewhat loose. There's generally a starting line marked by at least one buoy, and the canoes are supposed to be behind this until a green flag goes up. A chase/escort boat bobs around with a yellow (?) flag up. If any canoes are over the line they raise a black flag and you're supposed to back-paddle until you're behind the line. In theory. In actuality things are kinda loosey-goosey. Island-style I suppose. We all bob around, current pushing us south (and over the starting line), while the escort boat holds the yellow flag. Or is it red? Doesn't matter. I'm not supposed to be watching. It's the steersman's job to pay attention to that and to call "Paddles up!" when the yellow (red?) changes to red (yellow?). I'm supposed to be sitting in my seat, holding my paddle up and ready to dig in, waiting for the "Imua!" call from the steersman. Focused forward, a tightly-wound spring ready to GO! A green flag and we're off. That's the theory.

When the green flag went up, we dug hard and got off to a good start, second or third in the pack. We stayed in third for a mile or so, then were passed by a Kikaha boat. We kept in reach of them for most of the 6 miles south, even overlapping them at times, but mostly a few boat lengths behind. So solidly in 4th. I could sometimes hear the boat behind us, but never had a chance to see them, and they didn't seem to be getting much closer.

It was a good paddle down, with the wind at our backs, and the chop helping to push us, along with a changing tide. I worked hard at working hard, while trying to keep in sync with Rob. There was only one point at which Rob switched from a regular stroke to a quick stroke, and caught me off-guard. I hurried to catch up and he switched back to a longer stroke again. Behind me Doug yelled "You guys are all over the place!" And we were. (Later I mentioned that to Rob and he said "Yeah, my back was seizing up!" I'd thought he'd done it intentionally, though I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.)

We passed the shipwreck that marked the approximate 5 mile point, then continued on for what seemed like more than another mile to the turn. Coming around the buoy we were now heading into the waves and the wind, and the paddling was distinctly more difficult. I wouldn't say it was as crazy as the Gorge, but it was noticeably more difficult than coming down. We were working against wind, waves and current now, and it sometimes felt like a real slog. Everyone else was in the same boat (eh hem), but we were slowly losing ground to the 3rd place Kikaha canoe.

Several times our ama popped up out of the water as swells and wind hit us from the port bow. At some point Doug called up to me that I needed to watch the ama (which is attached to the iako which is attached to the canoe behind seat 2) when I was paddling on the left and he was on the right. Usually the 3 and 5 seats are responsible for the ama because both of them sit immediately behind the iakos and it's easiest for them to lean onto the iakos if the ama starts lifting. But of course, if they're paddling on the right side it's pretty hard to get back over and lean in the other direction quickly, so it makes sense that if conditions warrant, the 2 and 4 paddlers should be aware of the ama as well.

The trouble is that I'm a bit gun-shy about amas and swells and huli-ing and da kine li' dat. So now that I knew I needed to be watching, it took my concentration away from paddling a bit, and I think my form and effort suffered some. There were a couple of times when I actually leaned an arm out onto the iako while paddling on the left. Probably an over-reaction. Most likely an over-reaction. But like I said, I'm a bit gun-shy. And every time Doug called "Hut" and I got to switch back to paddling on the right, it felt like a vacation because he was now responsible for the ama.

The best thing you can do in conditions like we had is to paddle strong and keep the boat moving forward. If you feel the ama lifting, a hip-check to the left, throwing weight onto your left butt cheek, is a quick and effective way to shift weight over. But still, I couldn't help myself.

We made it, though a particularly steep/large swell caught us about 30 yards from the finish and all I could think was, "Man, it would really suck to huli this close to the finish line!" We didn't, and when the horn sounded I was relieved. I hadn't had a drink of water the entire race, though I had my CamelBak around my waist the whole time.

So, we finished 4th, a strong 4th, and the 5th place canoe was quite a distance behind us. That felt good; knowing that while we were losing ground on 1-3rd places, at least we were putting water between us and the folks behind us.

Our women's team paddled in a bit later, looking good and strong. I aspire to look as good when I paddle as they all do -- they always look long, focused, in sync.

It was a nice way to finish the year: we were competitive for a good part of the race, within striking distance of the first 3 canoes for 6 miles at least, and getting splashed with salt water while paddling feels great. Our improved conditioning has made a difference, as has our increased experience paddling together.

I still feel I have a way to go to get properly conditioned. I didn't feel like I was as strong as I'd like to be during the race, and I let the conditions get to me more than I'd like as well. But it was a good learning experience, and every time I race with the team (men and women) I like the people more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

black is the color...

Weds. morning L helped me dress.

And by "helped me dress" I mean that I asked her if she wanted to come into the closet with me and help me pick out a shirt, then pulled at one that I thought would be good and said "what about this one?" and she said "yeah!" Easy as that. She got to participate (which she loves) and I got to wear the shirt I was going to wear anyway.

I know better than to ask K for help, because unlike L, K has no shortage of opinions about clothes, and her's generally differs from my opinions. And she won't back down.

To put things into perspective: I'm red/green colorblind (mostly), and though I don't really believe L is, she sure hasn't bothered to learn her colors. When I ask what color something is, (and we're talking about a firetruck or a banana -- I'm not trying to stump her here), she'll take a stab at it:

me: "um, no, black. what color is this?"
L: "red!"
me: "um, no, green. What about this?"
L: "green!"
me: "um, nope, that's yellow. How about this?"
L: "firetruck!"
me: "nope, that's a banana. It's yellow... I think. K? Is this yellow?"
K: "yeah daddy, that yellow. That banana."
me (thinking: I know it's a banana!)

It's pretty obvious that she's just guessing.

on the other hand learned her colors quickly, by learning to ask for one of her (many) pacifiers by color. There were times when I wondered if maybe we could find a gold or black pacifier, just so she'd learn those colors too. I took all this for granted when it was happening, but now that I see L not getting her colors (and not particularly caring about it), I realize that maybe K was a bit advanced in that particular aspect.

When L asks about the color of something in a book ("What color? What name?"), I now turn to K for the answers. Just because I don't want to mislead her.

In any case, I'm pretty sure I wore a red shirt on Weds., and that my shorts were green, so other than looking like a Costco-Christmas-in-September advertisement, I was fairly well coordinated. I think.

sailin' shoes

Tomorrow (Saturday) is our last OC-6 race of the season, the Hat (or Hatless -- I've seen it listed both ways!) Island 12 mile iron in Mukilteo. This one should be fun for several reasons:
  • It's in the Sound, so it's salt water (!)
  • We've been training hard, harder than we have previously, so should be in better shape
  • We've all got more experience than earlier in the season
  • We've got a strong men's boat
  • We've got a strong women's boat
I'm hoping that this race we'll be a bit more competitive than we have in the past.

Jasen will be steering, which I'm pleased about. I trust his judgment and experience. (He did Catalina last weekend, and I think he may be doing a triathlon on Sunday, so steering is what he's up for tomorrow.) The others in the boat are Rob (also did Catalina) in 1, me (or Doug) in 2, Erik in 3, Zackery in 4, and Doug in 5. If Doug moves to 2, all the rest of us bump back a seat. So I'll be in 2 or 3. Doug is our secret weapon, our coach who's filling out the seat listed as "unknown."

I'm feeling pretty strong, though I've got a couple of tweaks in my shoulders, left over from change-out practices. I'll be icing tonight and after the race.

Up until this point I've mostly been wanting to finish the races, get some experience under my trunks waistband, and get a handle on what long-distance irons are about. Now that I've done DaGrind and the SSP Change Out races, and have put a bit more time in at practices, I'm shifting my focus to wanting to actually beat some other folks. It'll be interesting to see how it goes. We haven't really paddled at all as a full team, though most of us have at least once. I'm excited about it, and focusing on paddling strong and smart the entire way.

Loading (without Sabine)

We loaded the canoes last night, moving all 3 of our boats into the trailer (that Melissa had parked early yesterday morning). This involves unrigging them, packing all the gear (ama, iakos, rigging rope and rubber and straps) and lifting the canoes onto a small two-wheeled trolley. Then we have to move each canoe to the trailer, lift it up and into the U-shaped spots they ride, adn strap them down.

We had a good show of folks, and that, combined with Melissa being able to park the trailer off the street, meant that it went pretty smoothly. The only difference this time was that Sabine is out of town (preparing for the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, the Molokai-Oahu race), and she's the one who usually coordinates things, so we had to (wo)man up and do it without her. I think we managed fine. We'll also need to rig the canoes tomorrow without her.

It's good practice and good experience to get more comfortable with some of the processes we've been relying on her for. After all, she can't always be everywhere at once, or even all the time. And the more of us that know how to manage things, but better off the entire group is.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

let's all get up and dance.... (a word about post titles)

For whatever reason, lately I've attempted to come up with subject lines that are either titles of or lines from songs. Many (all?) may be obscure, inaccurate, unfamiliar or modified in some way that seemed to me funny at the time (often late at night or early in the morning).

Feel free to make a guess at the song to which I'm attempting to refer. If you're right.... you get to smile a little while....

i wanna be your dog

Mom, with Gypsy -- Kaimuki, Dec. 1943.

According to Mom, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she walked Gypsy down to the local police station to volunteer her to be a police dog, sobbing as she did (Mom, not Gypsy). The idea of giving Gypsy up was wrenching, but she felt she needed to do something.

The police politely declined the offer. Which Mom says is probably for the best. I don't think Gypsy was especially suited to police/military work.

Still, that's a pretty cool thing for a 14yo girl to do, don't you think?

Our dog Lucy? Hmm... She barks when she shouldn't, doesn't when she should, and is guaranteed to eat more than her share of C-rations. Not so much.... but they can have her if they want!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

talking about....

I've begun to realize just how attentive and sensitive K is. There's a time, early in a child's life, when it's pretty easy to talk over them, to keep emotions and reactions from them, and to shield them when necessary from less-than-pleasant aspects of life. That time is pretty much over for K.

She's always been an alert and observant kid, noticing airplanes and boats and bugs and the tiniest sliver of moon in the daytime sky. She'll ask why a truck that was on the street a week ago isn't any longer. And when we drive downtown and pass a spot where we once saw a policeman on a horse, she'll mention that as well. Now she's even more observant than ever.

We started spelling things out months ago, well before she turned 3. Soon after that she caught on and would ask:

(pointing at one of us, then the other)
"What you talking 'bout and you talking 'bout?"

She clearly recognized that we were talking over her head, in a way designed to keep information from her, and she didn't like that.

Most recently I've noticed that when I'm in a less-than-happy mood, she'll pick up on it pretty quickly and come at me with clawed fingers, saying "tickle, tickle, tickle." It nearly breaks my heart to realize she's trying to cheer me up. (L, of course, does whatever her older sister does, and so comes at me with her tickle-hands as well, grinning a huge, as-yet-clueless grin. It's only a matter of time with her as well, though the jury is still out on whether or not she's as sensitive to others as K is.)

I've decided I need to work at being present and conscious as much as possible when I'm with the girls. After all, this is the only time I get. None of this is available for a do-over!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

... 'til you drop

We've been doing some good, hard workouts in the canoe lately. Doug's coming with workouts designed to improve our stamina and our overall conditioning. They're a challenge, but they exhaust me in a good way, a crawl out of the car and into the house and into bed sort of way.

Last Thursday we paddled for over 15 miles, doing 3/6/9 sets (1 minute warmup, 3 minutes hard, 1 easier, 6 hard, 1 easier, 9 hard) across Lake Washington just south of the 520 bridge, then turned south along the shore because it seemed the wind had backed off. We paddled south until we nearly came to the north tip of Mercer Island, then turned west. By then the breeze had come back up (from the north) and we were slogging into it as it blew chop over our starboard bow. The sun went down behind the ridge between the lake and downtown, and Doug had us head up more into the wind (Pamela was steering). That improved the ride, but it was starting to get dark and cold and we just kept paddling toward the west end of the 520 bridge, then under it and on toward Montlake, pushing through the cut and under the Montlake Bridge, where our last set finished and we floated for a bit, gathering our strength for the remaining mile or so back to the beach. Bumpy and in fading light, it was a bit cold and a bit exciting, but good hard work.

Here's a map of our workout:

On Saturday we did another challenging workout, this time in beautiful, warm weather. Summer was back, briefly, and we paddled south along the west shore of Lake Washington, under the 520 and I90 bridges and on down to the Stan Sayers hydro pits and back. It ended up being 17+ miles (with warmup) of 5x5 / 5x2 / 5x5 (1 minute warmup, 5 hard, 1 easier, 5 hard, 1 easier, 5 hard, 1, 5, 1, 5 then 5x2 minutes sprinting, then another 5x5). We didn't make it past the first 2 or 3 of that last 5x5). We had a break (it was nice enough to hop into the water for a quick swim/cool down) and repeated the set as much as we could heading back north.

There were dozens of boats anchored on the east side of the cut, there for the UW football game. We did our second set of 2x2 sprints back and forth in the bay east of the stadium to avoid the traffic, then headed in through the cut (marching band playing outside the stadium) and on under the University and I5 bridges, going past our beach to finish up our last 5minute segment .... exhausting but it was good, and I think these sorts of workouts will pay off next weekend.

Here's what that workout looked like:

We're doing another salt water race in Mukilteo next weekend, the "Race Around Hatless Island." It's a 12 mile iron (no changing of paddlers) and we've got both mens and womens teams, so 2 boats possibly racing at the same time. Should be a ton of fun, and exhausting too.

Meanwhile, our Catalina crew did Catalina on Saturday, while we were crunching on our 5x5 sets.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

eat it!

I just noticed a box of "100 calorie packs" of cookies in our office closet.

These are prepackaged 100 calorie selections of "cookie bites" (lorna doone, oreos, chips ahoy). It's great that we've got them and all, but it strikes me somewhat like caffeine-free, diet cola. If you're going to indulge, don't go half-way, go all the way. Eat the whole damn big bag!

So, bottom line, how many packages do I get to eat? 6? 8?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

gettin' better all the time

So, in spite of all fears and trepidation, preschool ended up not being the END OF THE WORLD!!!

We only got bits and pieces out of K, but it seems she actually enjoyed herself and is looking forward to going back again.

Things I learned from K:
  • They have three (*3*) play kitchens, 1 big one and 2 small ones!! Who knew!?!
  • They have playdough and other stuff in the classroom!
  • They sit in a circle at the start of the day
  • They had cheese for their snack
    M: in sticks, or in cubes?
    K: cubes.
    P (thinking): Leading the witness!!
  • Katie helped her change her pants
  • There are a "couple" girls in her class
  • There are "some" boys in her class
Things I learned from M (who learned them from K):
  • K peed in her pants during the circle
  • This didn't seem to be a big deal, in the end
All in all, a reasonable first day of school!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

don't leave me this way

Today was the first day of the rest of K's life.

In other words, she started pre-school today, and that was a bit traumatic for everyone. The official routine is that we drive up with K in the right-hand car seat and a sign with her name on it on the dashboard and someone from the school opens the door and helps her out. Parents remain in the car and the transition is short and sweet and not made any more elaborate or difficult than necessary. It didn't quite go that way though.

We pulled up. M was driving. I turned around and unbuckled K and unlocked her door. The official school person opened the door.

K: "Close door! Close the door!"
L : "why K cwyin'?"
K: "Close door! Close door!" (curling in on herself in the car seat)
L : "why K cwyin'?"
me: getting out of car and going to gently pull K out and carry her inside and to the playground where, thankfully, we saw our neighbor and her little boy and she asked K to pose for a picture and I gave K a kiss and faded into the morning.
L : "why K cwyin'?"
L : "whoa (where) is K?" ( ... or maybe this time she really meant "woe is K?")

My guess is that K will hold it together (more or less) until M goes to pick her up at noon, at which point the afternoon may be a long and difficult one.

I will say that we passed a lot of kids waiting with parents on the sidewalks as we drove to her school, and I looked at all of them (kids and parents) with new eyes. Funny how actually facing something ourselves makes us more understanding/empathetic about the situation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


note: edited to include year of brad's death.

This is for the one or two of my readers (including my sisters) who might have been in high school with me on Maui, back in the 1970s.

I've been working my way through a book called Surf is Where You Find It, by Gerry Lopez. It's been a blast to read, especially because Lopez spent so much time on Maui in the 1980s, and his memories are frequently of places that are at least familiar to me, though I was always more of a body surfer than a board surfer.

It's hard for me to imagine that anyone growing up in the islands back then could not know about "Mr. Pipeline," Gerry Lopez. All those photos of of a guy with a shag haircut on a lightning bolt board standing in the tube looking like he didn't have a care in the world? That's Lopez.

Well, he's written this book, and it turns out that he's as good a writer as he is a surfer. His stories are full of self-effacing humor and a zen-like insight into the world, and I'd highly recommend the book to anyone with the slightest bit of interest either in surfing or in Hawaii in the 1970s and 80s.

But back to you folks from high school. If I asked who were the best of the surfers in the class of 1975, I suspect most of you would answer Gary Austin, Brad Lewis and Ian Greene. I don't know what Ian is up to these days, but for years he lived a couple of houses away from my mom in Kuau. Gary died far far too young (19?), a year after graduating (1976? 77?). Brad died young as well, but 10 or more years after Gary (1992). All three were in my older sister's class.

In his book, Lopez writes mentions Brad in a piece about surfing Makena called "Incident at Eke moku" during which Lopez got held held under for 3 consecutive waves, the 2nd of which broke Brad's board in half. Brad was apparently part of a regular crew that included Lopez and went out to surf Makena during south swells.

"Brad was one of the best surfers on the island and a long-time partner of Victor's (Lopez' brother) and mine in our pioneer adventures in big outer-reef waves on Maui's north shores."

He also says that they called Brad "Butt Jammer because of his unique surfing style." That made me laugh because I could picture it immediately, Brad sticking his okole out as he worked down the line. He skateboarded like that too! (Gary, in contrast, surfed and skated with a beautiful smooth approach.) It also made me remember that, at least back in high school, Brad wore Butt Cut brand trunks. I have no idea why that sticks in my mind....

Brad isn't the main focus of the story, but he's a key piece of it, and it's fun to read about him from Lopez's perspective, especially with my memory of Brad's reaction to Pipeline after a North shore surfing interim with John Geyer. I have the impression that that interim was Brad's first opportunity to surf some of the hardcore north shore spots on Oahu, and when someone at school asked what Pipeline was like Brad just said "Hairballs, man, hairballs." Which is as good an ending to this as anything else I can think of.

Monday, September 7, 2009

splish, splash...

taking a bubble bath....

and what better use of bubbles than to make pseudo-freudian faces?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

the plane! the plane!

Because, after all, don't we all on our own fantasy islands?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

it's a family affair....

We're a 21th century fam!

My older sister is on Facebook. She joined shortly after I did, and while I'd never argue that either of us is cutting edge, we're both getting a kick out of reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. It's been fun. And as a bonus, now we get to FB and don't have to get call each other too!

We started out playing Word Scraper until I remembered just how freakin' bad I am at Scrabble and since Word Scraper is just Scrabble without the (tm) I'm bad at that too. So I try to ignore all the "hey, hurry up and play so I can put down my bingo" messages. I don't need additional reminders that I'm bad at things.

I'm also ignoring offers for joining people's mafia families and giving friends online drinks (what the hell good is an online daquiri, for god's sake?!?)

My younger sister is on as well. But she seems to log in maybe once every other month or so, which kind of defeats the sociability aspect of social networking. She could probably beat me in Word Scraper too, but luckily she doesn't seem to have found it. Yet.

And mom is on.

Mom is on?

With one of the default silhouette profile pictures. And after sending a request to add my birthday to the Birthdays app, I haven't heard from her since. I doubt she's been back into FB. I wonder if she'll remember my birthday.... At least she's not asking me to play her in Word Scraper.

Mom and little sister are using a dial-up connection, for which I should probably either cut them some slack, or really give them sh#t. Not sure which. They do live in Kuau, after all.

M is on, of course, and I've considered creating pages for K&L just to pad my friends list, but I don't want weird people hitting on them, so that's out.

Anyone want to play Word Scraper? Or have a birthday they want me to know about?