Tuesday, March 30, 2010

family: celebrity doubles tuesday ... can you hear me?

another edition of Celebrity Doubles Tuesday
with a bonus "you stole my idea" theme

Got this great idea for a movie the other night:

This Could Get Loud

A story of 2 small girls and a man with a vacuum cleaner (plus a dog, because you can't keep her away from blankets or the vacuum cleaner).

We'd do it ad-lib, because that would give us the flexibility to go with the flow.

Imagine scenes where the 3 main characters gather in a room (a living room, for example). Maybe the girls are on blankets on the floor, sharing life experiences and wanting, demanding, to be "snuggled up" like burritos. The man is attempting to vacuum the rugs and if the dog isn't barking loudly at the vacuum, she's trying to find space to lie down on the blankets because her 3 different beds aren't enough. Laughter degrades into shrieks of anguish as Dog moves closer, sniffing, maybe licking a cheek or two.... It'd be awesome. And it could get loud!

Edit: M informs me that, 1) there's already a movie with this name, except that 2) it's called "This Might Get Loud", suggesting to me that whoever made it has no sense of the English language because "could" is obviously so much better than "might."

And I think they must have stolen my idea. Compare:

  • 3 main characters
  • making noise
  • with little overall plan/no script

  • same
  • same
  • same

Also, their casting was obviously influenced by mine:




I rest my case. I'll be talking with lawyers in the morning.

Monday, March 29, 2010

family: double-definition tuesday (special monday edition)

(This is a happy birthday post for my sister. Not that either of these is remotely birthday related, but we're doing this on Monday in honor of her birthday!)

wep wipes - noun: pre-moistened wipes

me: L, stop squirming! We're almost done!
L: But I need a wep wipe!
me: You need one?
L: Yeath. I need one!!
me: A wep wipe?
L: Yeah.
me: Why?
L: Because I need one!!
me (it all becomes so obvious!)

eye bags - noun: dark spots under your eyes when you haven't had enough sleep:

M: L, you have bags under your eyes. Did you get enough sleep?
L: Yeah.
K: I have bags under my eyes?
M: No, you look nice and rested.
L: Daddy, you have eye bags?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

family: it's all a matter of style...

I'm fairly certain that K has gotten any style sense she has from her mother. L, I'm not so sure about.

I grew up in shorts and t-shirts, barefoot through 6th grade, with limp, greasy hair, and have never really gotten over it. M grew up in the land of big hair and trans ams, but seems to have overcome that handicap, dressing now with style and pizazz.

K has strong opinions about her clothes and the clothes we wear.
L's opinions tend to follow closely behind those of her sister.
Sample dialog:

K (brushing her teeth on our bed): I no like that shirt.
me: Really? Why not?
L (sucking toothpaste off her brush): No like thirt!
me (thinking): Oh, well that's a good reason!
K: No.
me: You want to help me pick something else?
K (hopping off our bed to lead me into the closet): Yeah.
L (sucking toothpaste off her brush): Yeah!

K then picks me out a shirt that may in fact be a better choice than the one I originally selected. And L finishes sucking her toothpaste off her brush.

Still, there's hope. L may have inherited some of my taste and tendencies. As earlier described, she doesn't always get her colors right (which may or may not be intentional). And her "style" is sometimes all her own:

Calling Lucy
"Lulu, come hea! Lulu, come hea!!"

Things to note:
  • I took this on 2/7/10
  • in Seattle
  • so you know it's not warm
  • she's barefoot
  • the deck is wet
  • she's wearing underwear
  • over her diaper
  • she's going to hate me in 10 years, if this is still posted
Now that's a sense of style I can relate to!

Friday, March 26, 2010

family: (photo)... smile a little while...

another in the continuing View from 3 Feet series:

Beauty and the Bug
(photo by me)

One of the things I like best about the photos from K's camera is their lack of focus. It's due largely to the quality of the lens, but it's also a function of the shutter speed. None of that really matters though -- what I like is that this blurry vagueness and the frequently off-kilter orientation of the photos fairly accurately capture our current life.... everything feels like it's blurring along.

My latest theory is that the blur comes with the chaos of kids (including lack of sleep), and then by the time the kids are out of the house the blur has become permanent, due to cataracts, pollution, dirty windows, global warming, failing bodies, 18 years of habit..... Something more to look forward to!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

photo thursday: hair today...

M gave L her first "real" haircut this last weekend, and as usual she did a great job:



And my semi-related thought for the day:

So far I've been pretty lucky as far as getting pictures of the girls, but I'm already noticing a change. K has learned to "smile" when I point the camera at her, a smile that isn't really. A smile that looks fake. L isn't there yet, but I suppose she will be before too long. It's one more reason I prefer candid shots to posed pictures.

In At Work, Annie Liebovitz says something to the effect that she felt it in her gut when her daughter lost her natural smile. The concept of learning to put on a face of any sort is one I'm grappling with right now. What is it we teach our kids, if we're teaching them to pretend to be someone/thing? And by "we" I mean not only parents, but the world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

family: ... the night time is the right time...

or, "how not to read to your kids"

jammy party!

scene: K&L & me, leaning against pillows on our bed, 2/3 of us in jammies and 3/3 of us ready for bedtime stories. We've been struggling with bedtime, having already spent 20+ minutes of preparation interrupted by repeated break&dash escapes from L (me: where are you going? L: but I need to do thomthing!), irregular bed-bouncing punctuated by bodies launched into my unsuspecting lap, resistance at having back teeth brushed, pacifiers tossed aside in frustration then needed... in other words, pretty much the usual. Except that on this evening it's just me because M is working late. So, the girls are both brushed and relatively settled down at last, and we've gotten nearly through our first book....

me (reading from The Hungry Caterpillar): ... on Friday he ate...
L: 3 orangeth!
me: 3? Count them.
L: One, two, three.
me: right. So how many?
L: thix!
me: Six?
K: Five.
me: That's right K. L, count them with me.
L (running her finger randomly across the page): onetwothreefour!
me: One, two, three, four, five. 5 oranges.
L: Then had terrible tummy ache
K: No! Not yet!
me: Right, not until Saturday, after he...
L: I want watah.
K: I need my pacifier!
me: Let's just finish this first.
L: I need watah! Watah!
K: Pa. Ci. Fi. Er!
me (tossing the book down and climbing over them): Ok, you two finish this! K? You want water too?
K: No.

Out to get K's pacifier, L's water. Into the bathroom to refill the water, back to the bedroom where the girls are sitting silent on the bed staring at their laps, L with her bottom lip sticking out as far as the tip of her nose.

Daddy: Fail!

me (handing L her water and giving K her pacifier and climbing in between them): Ok, let's finish the book.
K (quietly): I want my water.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

family (celebrity double tuesday): ... as you are he as you are me...

(edit: OK, Blogger* is... "messing up" and this wasn't supposed to go out until tomorrow. So you need to skip it until then, or promise not to complain when there's no new posting!)

*(it couldn't be me that messed up!)

Yet another occasionally recurring theme -- Celebrity Double Tuesday

First, an "outtake" from the Saddle Club sessions:

K, with Patch
(or Prancer, depending on the day/hour)

But ignore the horse for the moment and consider the resemblance to:

Odd that he isn't holding a horse,
but then, not everyone is as lucky as we are.

Monday, March 22, 2010

family: (photo) ... shadow of a doubt...

an atmospheric sample from View from 3 Feet.

Living Room Ceiling, with Light
(photo by... K? L?)

This makes our house look somewhat gothic. I don't think it's gothic, but maybe our neighbors would disagree.... Can a house look gothic with 2 strollers out front, 2 swings hanging from the porch ceiling, a loud dog in the side yard, myriad boots and shoes piled next to the front door, a horse-on-springs next to a tipped-over plastic slide....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

family: ...just be yourself....

As mentioned in a previous post, we did a rider-and-horse photo shoot the other day.

's aim was to duplicate the appearance of one of her heroes from Saddle Club.

Stevie and Comanche
(not taken by me...
well, taken,
but not in the camera sort of sense of taken)

And here:

K Stevie-West Seattle
(and Prancer)

And one more, because it never gets old, posing like someone in the Saddle Club:

Different day, same idea
(K again, with Prancer
or is it Patch today?)

It's a little scary, just how much she loves to do this. And how good she is at it. We've either got an actor on our hands, or a horsewoman, or.... someone who likes to hug horses.

Friday, March 19, 2010

family: (photo) ... when I look into your eyes...

from View from 3 Feet.

M at Thanksgiving dinner (Christmas dinner?)
by K

The great thing about K's photography to this point is the hit-or-missness of it. She hasn't mastered the point-the-camera-at-the-thing-you're-taking-a-picture-of technique. Which means if she's taking a picture of you, you frequently need to duck into the frame (if you're willing and able). It also means that sometimes we end up with some wonderful, unexpected images. This may or may not be one of those.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

photo thursday: .... stuck in the middle with you...

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

Some of my all-time favorite things to photograph are the girls. Together.

I've managed to get lucky now and then, and last week was one of those times.

I knew as I took these that I was getting something I'd like.

The setup: L found a foam clown nose at the bottom of a huge basket of toys that M tries in vain to keep organized in the corner of the living room. Looking for a way to avoid having to put everything back into the basket (because, of course, we'd emptied it out entirely to see what was at the bottom!) I put it on her and suggested we take some pictures. K wanted to join in. The first few were too dark, so I asked them to move to a chair by the window....

Clowning around

One reason I love these is because they manage to capture certain key aspects of both girls' personalities: K's sweetness, and L's nuttiness.

K couldn't keep the nose on her nose, and for some reason that meant dissolving in giggles.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

family: anticipation...

Yesterday afternoon L was still napping when I got home from work. M and her mother (who is visiting) took the opportunity to go get some fish for dinner. Which meant that K and I were on our own until L woke up. And she did. And I went up to get her.

But she was expecting her mama.

Here's what I've noticed: the person who puts the kid to bed (be it at night or for a nap) is the person the kid expects to be there when they wake up. It makes sense. So to avoid being the one called for in the middle of the night, avoid being the one to put them to bed at the start of the night.

The problem comes when the putter-to-bed isn't available. Then we end up with a situation like yesterday afternoon.

L started to call out and I walked up the stairs and she was sitting up in her crib looking sleepy and saw me coming and screamed, "No, don't do that!" and bent over to push her groggy face down into the blanket.

Approaching slowly, I asked what was wrong.

"I want my mommy!"

I told her that her mom was out shopping. She didn't want to hear it.

Luckily, she was wearing a new dress and I was able to distract her by admiring it. It came from Grandmama, and it came with leggings, and if there's one thing near and dear to L's heart, it's leggings. She likes 'em. Loves 'em in fact. I don't know where she gets that from. Not me. I'm a shorts guy (when the weather cooperates). In any case, we went downstairs and watched a Saddle Club, and all was better with the world. But seeing her run face first into unmet expectations got me thinking about how I'm susceptible to the same disappointments.

I wish I were better able to adjust on the fly to the unexpected. I think it's a real skill. And it's one I don't have. I have expectations and when reality doesn't match up... well, crap!

For example (and here is where I sneak a paddling anecdote into a family posting and some of you may accidentally read it!): yesterday afternoon it was windy and cold and threatening rain and we ended up with 9 people at practice. Canoes fit 6, so 9 is an awkward number. You can paddle a full canoe (6) and leave 3 on shore. You can paddle 5 in a canoe, but you lose something. And you can even paddle 4 in a canoe, but you lose something more. You're short 1/4 of the total. It's noticeable. I'm not a huge fan of the 4-in-an-OC6 configuration, but what can you do?

So, I'm disappointed about the numbers. And then there's the weather. Cold. Colder than it's been most of the winter! And the wind is gusting hard from the south and the water on Lake Union is lumpy and gray, so we're going to have to stick to the ship canal between Gas Works Park and the Ballard Locks.

Which we do, and it's fine. But I have to let go of my expectations for a good, long workout. I'm going to miss the next couple practices and I had a short workout on Saturday so I wanted a long one before my break. And I have to accept that our boat isn't going to be moving well because there were only 4 of us in it (and in gusty weather the steerer has less opportunity to paddle).

Ultimately I managed to make the most of it by focusing on technique and working on the front of my stroke, maximizing efficiency there. But it took some mental adjustment to do so.

And a part of me understood why L just wanted to stick her head back into the covers until her mama got home. But I didn't have covers, and my mama is on Maui, and no one seemed willing to talk to me about what I was wearing, so.....

I'm not sure how to teach a child to be flexible and to adjust on the fly when things shift out from under them, but if there's something I could leave with my girls, it would be this. I believe being adjustable (with some sense of self as a foundation) is a key survival skill. If you can avoid being thrown for a loop when the unexpected happens, you can keep your head and deal with just about anything.

Is it possible to teach this? How about if the teacher can't manage it himself?

Our track

My heart rate, just for kicks.

It looks a bit irregular, and I'm not sure why that is.
Not overly high, but just all over the place....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

family: double-definition tuesday

dolt - noun: a grown up

K: I want to do that!
me: You can, when you're older.
L: I want to do that!!
me: Yup, when you're older.
K: When we older, we adult, we do that too.
L: When I a dolt, I do that too!

raccoon - noun: small "house" the hungry caterpillar makes, then chews through

L (reading The Hungry Caterpillar to herself): ... on Saturday ate one chocolate cake, pickle, cheese, salami, lollipop, sausage... that night had a tummy ache.... next day was Sunday, ate a nice green leaf. After that, felt much better. Then build himself house and then chewed a hold in raccoon and... He was a beautiful butterfly!

Monday, March 15, 2010

family: ... put your hand in the hand of the man...

L's hands, in my hand

She wanted to show off her "toe polish" which tends not to last long on her hands and feet. Whatever it is, the size of her nails or the workout she puts them through, the polish chips and flakes almost immediately. One night we had a near catastrophe when her beautiful nail job (she's got a live-in manicurist in M) all floated down the drain.... She was disconsolate, even with the promise of a redo. But then L and "disconsolate" frequently go hand-in-hand when things aren't proceeding exactly the way she would like (be that no chocolate milk before dinner, lost "toe polish," having to share something with her sister....)

I sometimes look at the size of the girls hands/feet/arms/etc. and marvel that these tiny fingers/toes/shoulders are going to some day be adult-sized.

And it's even more amazing when I look back to when they were newborns.

Same hands, smaller version
(L, getting her first taste of the harsh light of the world

What is it we're doing here as parents?
I have no idea.
I'm faking it as I go!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

family: ... you know I love you baby, don't... don't... don't...

"Don't do me like that!"

This is what she's begun saying when she wants us to stop doing something (rubbing her back, blowing raspberries on her tummy, singing to her, looking at her.... the usual). Which makes me wonder if we've been listening to too much Tom Petty lately....

The above photo was taken during a horse-and-rider photo shoot in the kitchen pastures around "Pine Hollow." K wanted to pose like Stevie, and L wanted to pose like K.

Thus, the above shot, in which L appears in her new sunglasses (replacing a pair she broke last summer when, on a stroller ride, she got angry about something and threw her glasses down, to be run over by the stroller. And she'll happily tell you about that if you ask).

I like how she's casually leaning on the head of her horse, approximating K's pose (which is itself approximating Stevie's pose, but I'll save that for another post).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

family: ... we watched you, babe....

(note: this is part 2 of a 2-part "movie" epic. here's part 1 in case you missed it. the story hinges on fully understanding every nuance and intricacy of the situation, and if you don't go back and read part 1, I can't be responsible for your not finding this funny and worthy of commenting on. really.)

So, "movie time" part 1 was a disaster, saved only by the girls of Saddle Club (Yea!). We regrouped, took the offending disc back to the library, and came home with Babe. And by "we" I mean M and the girls. While I was relaxing at work. And imagining them tiptoeing through the stacks because a library is where you're supposed to be very quiet. (L (in a shout-whisper): I being qwiet!)

An aside: It's interesting that both movie 1 and movie 2 involved, even revolved around, pigs. But that's a coincidence. Maybe. In any case, both M and I remembered Babe as a gentle movie without Big Bad Wolves and other disturbing characters. (spoiler: we were wrong!)

Last weekend I proposed another "movie time" to the girls, which was enthusiastically endorsed by K ("Yeah!) and M ("I'll go for a run!") and cautiously endorsed by L ("I don't want to watch that other movie. It cary!")

Being a man who learns from his mistakes, I made a point of being there, of watching with them. So we were, settled down on the couch, under the cozy blanket. And I started the movie.

The first thing I noticed: the opening scene is in a piggery, a huge, warehouse-like building where hundreds (thousands?) of pigs and piglets are being raised. For eating (obviously). And in that scene, lit with noir-ish shadows that telegraph the situation to everyone, unless you're a 2 or almost-4yo with no context, all the adult mom pigs are being prodded (electric prods, luckily showing up quickly and disappearing just as quickly) out away from their cute-as-the-dickens piglets and into a truck that is marked Meats.

Me (thinking): Aaaack!!! Was this scene in the original movie? Is this the director's cut?!?

Hmm... not starting well.

K: Where Babe?
me: There, that's him looking through the railing.
K: Why looking through railing?
L: Where Babe?
me: He's looking for his mom.
L: Where Babe ith?
me: Right there. That's him. (looking sad and already missing his mom)

(how long is this scene going to go on)

K: Why looking for his mom?
me: Because, she's... um... "gone off."
K: Why gone off?
L: Why looking for hith mom?
me (thinking: why did we think this was a good idea?!?): He just wants to know where she's gone.

Luckily we got past that first scene and on to better lit (and by "better lit" I mean having light), less disturbing scenes. And, distracted by their confusion, the girls didn't really notice how Babe went from the piggery to the farm, but then there were puppies and ducks and geese and Babe was lonely and adopted by the dogs and things improved. Slightly.

K: What he doing?
me: He's following the dogs. Playing with the puppies.
L: What he doing?
K: Why playing with the dogs?
me: Because he likes them.
L: Why playing?
me (whew!):Come sit on my lap.
K: What he said?
me: She's telling the other dog that Babe is lonely.
K: Why lonely?
me: He misses his mom. (crap, I just brought her back up!)
L: Why lonely?
K: Where hith mom?

And so it went. Through the sheep rustling:
K: What they doing? That dog bad?
L: What they doing?.
me: Babe saved the rest of the sheep. He went and got the dogs.

Through the attack by the wild dogs
(was that really in the original? how could I have not remembered that?):
K: What those dogs doing?
me: They're bad dogs. They're attacking the sheep.
L: What they doing?
K: What happening?
me (trying to figure out how much to say): She's hurt. That sheep is hurt. But Babe chased off the bad dogs and saved the rest of the sheep.
L: What happening?
K: Why she lying down?
me: Um, she's hurt. She's.... (go ahead, say it)... dying.
L: What happening? Why lying down?
K: Why dying?
me (aaack!)

And through the aftermath of that wild dog attack:
me (oh, shit. now he's going to shoot Babe!)
K: What he doing?
me: Um... he thinks Babe hurt the sheep. But he didn't! Babe saved the sheep!
K: Why? What he doing?
me: He's ... taking Babe into that room (with a freaking shotgun!)
L: What he doing?
me: Come sit on my lap....

In other words, the movie was way over the girls' heads. And was full of scenes that I did not remember but which must have seemed understandable and reasonable when I watched it last (at... 35?), but which now seem insanely outrageously difficult/scary/dark.

I don't think either girl understood the story. It was mostly about puppies (until they got sold off! K: Where the puppies? Why she lonely? L: Where puppies?) and other talking animals.

I'd say it wasn't as bad an experience for them as the first one, but that may have been as much due to my being there as to the movie itself.

So now I'm wondering, what's a good kid movie for kids (2 and 4yo) who aren't exposed to the "normal" stuff that everyone sees on TV? Charlotte's Web? That'll have me crying and needing to explain through my tears that it's all good.

Or maybe it's just too early for movie time with real movies? I know I could keep K occupied for hours with diaper change videos from YouTube, but somehow watching dirty diapers doesn't seem like quality, popcorn eating time.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

family: .... they talk to themselves but they don't listen....

excerpt from a recent conversation with L:

L: You have pwivates.
me: Yes, I do have privates. Everyone has privates.
L: Me have pwivates and K have pwivates and Mama have pwivates....
me: And Lucy.... everyone. You know what 'private' means?
L (clueless): Yeah?
me: It means you don't share them with other people. You keep them private.
L: Yeah. You no show your pwivates to anyone, not ever!
me: Right. Well, sometimes. Like the doctor. Or if we're giving you a bath.
L: Yeah. But not you.
me: Uh... yeah, ok.
L: Not show them!
me: So when you want privacy...
L (big grin): When I go under the table and pooping!
me: Right. That means you want to be left alone.
L: And then I have biiiiig poop-a-doop and that will be a big bummer!
me (looking at K): ????
K (laughing): She wearing a diaper!
me: Yeah. L, you're wearing a diaper. It's not a big bummer.
L (laughing now and crawling under the kitchen table): But it going to be a biiiiig bummer.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

photo thursday: ... strolling down the avenue...

me and my shadow (L)
(spending quality time together.
in 30 degree weather)

Seemingly Random Digression: This blog was originally named after our dog (Lucy, or Lucy the Dog, or LtD, or Lulu, or "the beast") and K ("bug" because of how she curled up in the middle of the night when I was trying to change her diaper).

I also thought that Beast and Bug would be a great name for a photography business that did pet or child photography. Or both. And, I've got a couple of ideas for kids' books using the theme.

But when I look at this photo (taken shortly after the above picture, thus this digression):

L, done with quality time*
when the air temp is sub-freezing

... I'm wonder if there's a new beast ...

* Note: For veracity's sake, I want to acknowledge that the hat here was knitted by and given to K by our good friend Jocelyn. See this post for my earlier mis-identification of the hat.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

family: ... they're going to put me in ...

... (front of) the movies....

Movie time: Part 1

On Sunday we did "movie time" with the girls, and I made sure to be there while they watched. This because we'd tried this once before, with some 3 Little Pigs cartoon from the library, and that was not successful.

Here's how it went that first time:

me (hoping for enough time to get dinner made): You girls want to watch that movie you got at the library?
K: Yeah!
L: Yeah!!

I take them down to the basement and set them up. I make sure to watch the very beginning, just to make sure this isn't accidentally some oddball adult movie that somehow got slipped into the wrong section of the DVDs (hey, there have been a lot of budget cuts at the library!). It looks good. 3 pink pigs talking about houses and all that. Cool. I kiss both girls on the head and leave them.

I'm just getting going with dinner when I hear L coming up the basement stairs.

L (not yet at the top): Daddy?
me (registering that she doesn't sound quite her usual, jovial self): You ok?
L (appearing at the top of the stairs): Daddy! (running toward me)
me (lifting her): What's up?
L (snuggling in against me): I don't like this movie.
me: No? Why not?
L: It cary.
me: Really?

I carry her downstairs to check on K who's still gamely sitting on the couch, watching the TV.

me: You like this K?
K: No. It too scary.
me: Really?
K: That the bad wolf.
me (regretting not being there): You want to watch something else? (pulling out the serious stuff) Saddle Club?
K&L: Yeah!

So out comes the Bad Wolf and in goes the 3 happy girls and horses, and my girls get their screen time in and I get to make dinner.

And periodically throughout the next week L reminds us: "I don't want to watch that movie!"

I worry that she may have been scarred, but otherwise she seems unfazed, so maybe it's just instilled in her a healthy respect for wolves.

Coming Soon: Movie time part 2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

paddling: .... you can't catch me...

(warning: boring to most normal* people)

I've not mentioned paddling now for 3 or 4 days, so to catch up, here's a brief recap of various practices over the last week:

Thurs, 3/4/10: OC1 practice with the Dougs, which consisted of me:
  • trying to keep up with the Dougs
  • trying to not huli
Result: 10.14 miles in 2:09, with no huli.

It was a good practice for me in that it got me back into the OC1 after my Saturday race (w/ huli), and it felt pretty good. I also got some useful coaching from DougN after we'd finished the workout -- need to rotate a bit more, maximizing the catch and front of my stroke. And I need to keep my upper wrist straight. Any wiggling of that is counter-productive and can lead to carpal tunnel-type issues. Definitely don't want that!

Sat, 3/6/10: OC6 practice with only 4 of us in the boat:
  • 10min sets working mostly on technique
  • using a new, shorter paddle (52 instead of the 54 I've been using)
  • sat in seat 1
  • sunny and warm and I was in short sleeves and board shorts for the first time this season!
Result: 8.64 miles in 2:07, with moderate success on technique and shorter paddle.
I'm still adjusting, and felt my back and shoulders quite a bit over the weekend. I'm not sure if this is the result of the paddle change, or the focus on rotating, or both.

The ultimate take-away for me is that I really don't like paddling w/ just 4 in an OC6. It always seems to feel like a slog, and though we were moving decently, it wasn't as much fun as other practices in more completely crewed boats.

(erratic track due to circling back
to keep together with the other boat)

Tues, 3/9/10: OC6 practice with a full boat:
  • 2x (8on, 1easy, 7on, 1easy, 6on, 1easy, 5on, 1easy, 4on, 1easy)
  • wind came up near the end, a cold cold wind
  • using 52in paddle again
  • sat in seat 1
  • DougM's birthday
Result: 12.66 miles in 1:58 (DougM's gps said 12.8mi), feeling better about the paddle length and the rotating. Main issues for me were the cold (couldn't feel my fingers for much of the first 3rd and the last 3rd) and the fact that I kept speeding up the pace on our power 10s.

That's something for me to work on -- to stay regular and consistent, even during the power pushes. In other words, I shouldn't pick up the pace unless specifically asked to. Part of it was that the others in the boat seemed to tend toward speeding up the pace, but mostly it's my responsibility to keep it where it should be, and let them back off to keep in time with me.

(erratic track due to circling back
to keep together with the other boat)

* normal = anyone who thinks getting out on the water in a small boat in Jan/Feb/March in Seattle is nuts.

family: (photo) ... lay, lady, lay...

Another in the "View from 3 Feet" series:

Ms. L, in the kitchen, with a pacifier
(she's lying on the window seat cushion
clearly exhausted from... being Ms. L)

(Taken, it appears, from beneath the kitchen table. By K. Or me. Did I really crawl under there?)

Monday, March 8, 2010

family: ... well, well, well, you're feeling fine...

A doctor and her sister

So we played doctor last night.
And it was great.
No, it's not what you're thinking.

It was K and me, and it was great for a couple of reasons:
  1. K got to pretend to be a doctor, and I'm all for practicing being something of worth. I'd love for her to be a doctor or a writer or a... actually, I'd love for her to be whatever the hell she wants to be, as long as she wants to be it. I love that at this point in her life, there are no limits. She sees a figure skater and wants to do that. She sees a paddler and wants to do that. We spend time looking through the Title 9 catalog together, focusing on the wonderful pictures of active women doing things like surfing, swiming, biking, and she wants to "do that!" Yes! Do it! Do it all!!
  2. I got to lie on the couch and stick out my tongue, turn so she could use a flashlight to peer into my ears, pull my shirtsleeve up to get a shot.... in other words, it was low-impact, low-energy for the patient (me) and lots of hard work based on minutes of training and on periodic "I going to ask the ananano (other) doctor" pauses while K went to see what M thought about my various conditions.
The good news -- overall I'm quite healthy. I was assured that I'd feel better, especially after I got 5 different shots (one in my stomach, due entirely to the easy access to my stomach), two in each arm (due to my suggestion that an arm might be a better place for a shot than my head).

Some choice quotes from my doc:
  • "How you feeling today?" (nice bedside manner!)
  • "This going feel kind of weird, but it help you get better quickly." (on learning I needed a shot)
  • "How WAS you sleeping?" (clearly well trained in asking all the important background questions)
  • "This your bed? You sleeping with your wife?" (took me by surprise and I started wondering where this was going to go, but was relieved when, on telling her I was, she told me)
    "That good. Get good sleep." (and I exhaled in relief)
Meanwhile, in another galaxy entirely:

L had stripped down to her diaper and was running back and forth between kitchen (where M was working at her computer) and living room (where K was examining me). I'd hear L shout in her oh-so-gentle voice,

"I going to work. I love you! Goodbye!"

and then come racing into the living room where she'd crash into the couch next to my head, counting on couch cushions and her belly to bring her to a halt.

And I'd say to her, "Go to work, I love you! Good bye!" and she'd yell "OK!" and race back into the kitchen.

For all you non-parents, a word of caution: this type of behavior 20 minutes before bedtime does NOT burn off energy and tire the kid out. Rather, it winds them up and leaves them standing in their crib, wanting to keep on going to work for looooooong minutes past bedtime.

A choice quote:

L (yelling from her crib): "Mamadaddy, you need me!"

And downstairs we're thinking: "Um.... no, not at the moment, but yeah, you're right. We do need you. You have no idea just how much."

For you parents, this is so obvious that you're wondering what the hell I was thinking. My only defense -- I've been under a doctor's care so I'm not thinking straight.

Friday, March 5, 2010

family: ... woke up, got out of bed...

(View from 3 Feet)

(I think this captures accurately the feeling of morning at our house -
that is, exhausted chaos)

I got to sleep in this morning. Fridays are the only day in our current schedule that I don't get up at 4am to get into and out of work early. 2 days a week M's got work and/or school. 2 other days, I've got paddling in the evening. So I slept in. With L curled tightly against my side.

She'd joined us about 4a this morning.
L (somewhere out beyond our bedroom door): daddy!
me (stumbling out): it's still night time.
L (pointing to our bedroom and lisping around her pacifier): go in thea!

I opt for the path of least resistance, pick her up and carry her into the bedroom where she then tosses and turns between us for 45 minutes.

Later she fell asleep hard, tucked in between my left arm and the side of my body. It feels great until I want to turn over. Then I'm stuck.

But, we get to sleep in until nearly 7 (3 hours beyond normal for me!), at which point K starts singing in her own bed and L wakes up.

L (bedheaded and still waking): go down stay-ahs.
me (having been awake for at least 15 minutes): ok
L (pointing): with you!
me: ok
L (pointing again): and me!!
me: ok
L (lifting her arms up to be carried, concerns apparently addressed): ok

Later, down in the kitchen, I ask how her diaper is.
L: fine.
me: really?
L: yeah.
me (grabbing her to check): it feels pretty wet.
L (twisting away with a laugh): and stinky!
me: stinky?
L (running now): yeah!
me: did you poop?
L: yeah!
me: really?
L: no, gath!

Ultimately, the change revealed a very wet but not stinky diaper.

Meanwhile, in another part of the kitchen, K is getting into her clothes for school. This involves taking off her (dry) diaper and helping her into underwear and pants.
M: did you sit on the potty?
K: no!
M: you didn't pee at all last night. You need to sit on the potty.
K: no! no!
(note: I'm not sure where this aversion to the potty came from, but she rarely wants to sit on it, often preferring to wear a diaper while at home.)
M: come on K. I want to take a shower. Since I haven't had one in 3 days.
me (stepping in): I'll take over. Go shower.

I get K into her underwear and pants and then:

K: need to go potty.
me: ok. Do you need help?
K: no.
me: ok.
K (disappears into the bathroom, then 30 seconds later): daddy!
me: yes?
K: my pants are wet.
me (going in): what happened?
K: I needed to pee and they got wet.
me (seeing that she's apparently peed on her pants while getting up onto the seat): that's ok. We'll just get new pants.
K: I haven't wiped yet.
me (handing her paper): but you peed. Nice. (we high-five.)
L (who followed me in): K pee?
me: yup
L: I need to pee!!
me: no you don't!
L: but I do! K pants wet?
me: yup. Let's go.

Then it's upstairs to get new underwear and pants for K, then downstairs to go look for the dog's poop. And while I'm doing that, I walk into the bird feed hanging from the Larch tree ("the larch!"), giving myself artificial dandruff and opening myself up to remembrances of the time, nearly 2 years ago now, that I got pooped on by a crow on the way to the bus. That story is always good for a lot of conversation and pleased recollection by the girls. Luckily it doesn't come up this morning.

A morning ride in the kitchen riding ring

Thursday, March 4, 2010

photo thursday (bonus): ... you are a beautiful child...

I've never posted photos of anyone else's kids, but last weekend we went to visit our friends and meet their new baby, and Ainslie is such a beauty that I'm posting a few pictures of her (with her parents' consent).

Safe in Daddy's arms

I forget just how delicate newborn babies are.

A well-deserved rest.

These are some of my favorites. From a series of pure mother-daughter love.
Nothing says "I love you" like latching onto the tip of your nose!

(all images copyright 2010, pvz)

family: ...breath in, breath out...

a quote

L (galloping into the room, a "prend" horse feeling spring in the air):

It thmell like a woman in here!

(galloping out again)

Um... thank you? What could I say?.
Luckily it didn't matter because she didn't stick around for a reply.

photo thursday: ... it's a stretch

I believe in the power of role models. I believe that seeing someone you identify with, in a particular position (job, responsibility, accomplishment), can really fuel the belief that that same thing is not out of reach for you.

And this is one reason I love parenting with M. What a wonderful role model the girls have! Not only is she a wonderful person, but she's active and engaged and is setting a high bar for our daughters.

Here are a couple of pictures of "my girls" stretching (M after a run, K&L after... hanging out with me while M ran - I'm being a role model too!).

For the sky!

Note that both K&L are still in jammies. It isn't morning!
Also note L's intense attention to M's instructions.

And a bonus picture, because I can't resist L's Saturday Night Fever pose:

Stayin' alive

K seems to have gotten the finer points, including the feet. It's all lost on L.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

family: ...I may have been only 3, but ....

... I was .... crabby...

From the series: The View from 3 Feet.

(I've downloaded a bunch-load of photos from K's camera and will be using them as filler to make up for the fact that I have nothing worth saying. I think possibly the Grandmothers appreciate it. The other two of you will have to just suck it up!)

K, expressing unhappiness at L using her camera*

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

family: ... potty like it's 1999....

Self-portrait w/ daughters
(K's camera)

This is a potty post. You've been warned.

An excerpt from my afternoon yesterday.

Scenario: It's 4-15ish and I'm trying to vacuum and get pesto made for dinner. To that end, I've turned the girls over to 2 episodes of Saddle Club. Yes, I've turned into that parent. K is in underwear, having been in it all day at school. L is in her diaper, but I haven't changed it since picking her up from daycare at 3.20p.

I manage to vacuum the kitchen and the dining room. I decide against the living room because I want to roast pine nuts and garlic before the TV shows are done. I get nuts roasted, garlic roasted, basil washed.....

L (from down in the basement): Daddy!
me (loading the chopper): Yes L?
L (yelling): Pea you come!
me: I'm making dinner.
L: Pea you come Daddy!
me (measuring 7 table spoons of olive oil): You need to wait L.
L: My diaper wet.

my plan was to make the dinner (I've already got the pasta boiling) and then do bath before we eat. Dinner in our house comes around 5-5.30. Now I have to figure out if I can dodge a diaper change until bath (to save on diapers, not that I really mind doing the change itself).

I go downstairs where L & K are both still watching Saddle Club.

me: How wet is your diaper?
L: Pea you sit with me!
me: I'm making dinner. After this is over we're going to do bath.
L: And then jammies and brush teeth.
me: Nope, then dinner. Then brush teeth!
L: Yeah!

Here's where experience comes in! I make a calculation that things are ok, that I can just leave her in the wet diaper. I leave them each with a kiss that I don't think K even notices.

Back upstairs I stir the pasta, put the asparagus into the oven to roast, and grate cheese.

A bit later....
K: Daddy, it over!
L: It ova!
me: Ok, turn off the TV and come on up.
K: I can't!
me (yelling down the stairs while dripping olive oil on the floor -- the dog will get it): Yes you can.
K: I can't turn off the DVD!
me: L knows how to do that.
K (coming upstairs): I turned the TV off.
L (from down in the basement): Daddy, pea you come down hea.
me: Did you turn off the DVD?
L: Oh, no. (pause) I turn it off. Daddy, it off!
me: Thank you!
L: Pick me up!
me (going downstairs): Ok, come on, let's get you upstairs. I'm going to finish dinner and then we'll do bath.
L: And brush teeth!
me: After we eat!
L: Yeah!

The girls mill about while I stir pasta, turn asparagus and gauge the timing and coordination of events.... Things get suspiciously quiet.

me: Where's L?
K (riding her horse in the middle of the kitchen): I don't know.
L (out in the living room): I need pwivacy!
me: Ok. (thinking, damn, can I have her wait in a diaper that's both wet and dirty?)
K (going out into the living room, because, after all, if someone says they need privacy, you ought to go find out whether they need privacy): You need privacy?
L: No see me!
me (trying to instill the notion that people don't necessarily want to share every single little detail of their lives): K, come here. She wants some privacy.

K comes back.
Time passes.
returns to the kitchen: I have poopy diaper.
Hmm... can I hold off on the change...?

K (yelling from under the kitchen table): Daddy! I having accident!!
me (peering under where she's standing with a wide stance, peeing a river on the kitchen floor): Oh, K!

I run to the bathroom, grab a towel and push it under her. She's obviously not peed for some time, because now she's peeing a lot.

me: Stand on this.
K (very softly): Ok.
L: K having accident.
me: Yes. K, why didn't you sit on the potty?
K: silence
me (more harshly than I intend): I'm going to make a new rule. You have to try peeing before Saddle Club.
K (softly): Ok.

So now I've got asparagus roasting in the oven, pasta not quite done, one girl in a wet poopy diaper, the other girl in wet underwear, tights and skort.... I turn off the oven and leave the asparagus in it, pour the pasta into a sieve, and herd the girls to the bathroom where we strip down (well, they strip down, I help them) and start bath. At one point I run back to the kitchen and pull the asparagus out. Maybe it'll be ok.

K (quietly, while I wash her face): Everyone have accidents.
me (realizing now just how badly she feels): Yes K, everyone does. It's ok.
L (with enthusiasm): K have athident!
me: Yup, everyone has them.
L: Yeah, evyone hath them.

Bottom line (so to speak): dinner wasn't ruined, the towel sopped up all the pee, and things were ok. Oh yeah, K went back under the kitchen table after dinner, after getting washed and into jammies, and had a big poop in her diaper.

Just another Monday evening at our house.

Monday, March 1, 2010

paddling: ...I'm not sad, I'm just....

(edit: updated with official results at the bottom)

This weekend I did the PNW-ORCA "winter series" outrigger race in Silverdale. My over-all feeling about it is disappointment.

There are a lot of factors that go into that reaction, but ultimately the biggest disappointment is that I felt I couldn't manage to finish in a way that reflected my conditioning and my ability. I did finish, which is good. I would have hated not to finish. But I ran out of steam towards the end, and was passed by at least 2 people I'd passed earlier.

It was a 6.5 mile course, with the first leg running almost directly south and into a headwind of maybe 5-10kt. At the halfway point we rounded a buoy and ran back north to the start (or almost the start).

I started strongly, and was solidly in the middle of the pack when I hulied after 15 minutes. In some respects it was a positive thing -- other paddlers coming by me all called out to make sure I was ok (I was). And I managed to get back on the canoe fairly quickly, though not as quickly as I would have liked. My fingers were cold enough that I couldn't find the release tab of the leg leash by feel. Ultimately I had to lift my leg up out of the water so I could see what I was doing. That probably added an extra 10 seconds or so (which, when you're in this water, seems significant!). It made me feel good that everyone was so responsive when I went over. And it was good to know I could recover from a huli.

After the huli, I paddled conservatively, over-correcting by leaning left to prevent another huli. That meant that I wasn't able to paddle in a balanced way, and wasn't able to really get the pull I would have liked. Which meant that I was slower than I wanted to be, and that my back and arm muscles got used in ways I haven't been training them for. Which meant that by about 3/4 of the race, I was beat. And mentally I let it get to me. I might have been able to catch at least one of the people who passed me, but I didn't do it.

Here's what I think I may have learned:

  1. know the boat. I'd only ever been in this OC1 2x before, and I haven't spent enough time paddling it (or any OC1) to be really comfortable. I could tell paddling out from the beach that the ama was "light" (it wanted to lift off the water). I didn't recognize that in the conditions we had, this would prove a key factor.

  2. know the conditions. I don't have much experience at all in wind/bumpy conditions. This means that any down wind run (which experienced paddlers tend to like because you can catch lifts from waves and get extra speed for not much extra effort) makes me nervous and conservative. In the New Year's Day Challenge race, we had a long and bumpy down wind leg, but the final mile or so was in flat, and I caught a couple of folks then, after losing a lot of ground during the down wind section. In this most recent race, the down wind leg was the final leg, so there was no opportunity to catch up after it.

  3. know how to rig the boat. I think I may have unintentionally rigged the canoe too light. You can control this by how much of the iako (the connecting arm) you push into the ama and the canoe. I have to go back and figure out if I was doing the opposite of what I should have done.

My track
(the little zig on the right about 1/3 of the way down,
that's my huli)

The race started well, and I felt good as I paddled into the wind. I was passing some people, while the strong paddlers were out front and pulling ahead. The wind chop was coming from slightly off the port bow, so just a hair on the ama side. I worked at my technique, at pulling strong up front and having a good twist as I reached forward with the paddle.

At several points little waves would pop my ama out of the water and I'd have to lean left to get it back down. It felt a little dicey, but not too bad. Then I was reaching forward on the right, and a wave popped the ama, and it came up. I think if I'd had more experience I might have been able to recover (it hung there just above my head for at least a second or more), but instead I did a slow flip over to the right and into the water.

We're all wearing PFDs, and I had neoprene pants and 2 layers of polypro up top, so I was doing fine. My sunglasses and hat didn't even come off. And the water, while cold, wasn't *that* cold.

I got the boat flipped back over, and got the leash off my right leg (finally!) and then swam around the stern of the canoe and to the ama side, where I slithered back up onto the seat, turned over, reattached the leash, and started paddling again. All the while other paddlers were coming past, making sure I was ok, and ... passing me! The chase boat came by too, after I was already up and paddling again, and asked if I was ok. I yelled out "It's all good!"

Detail from huli
(zoomed in: apparently I drifted about a tad!)

I was cold, but more than that, I was pissed at myself. So I dug in and paddled hard and managed to catch a bunch of the folks who'd been behind me and had then passed by while I was in the water.

I paddled ~20 on the left and 15 on the right, overdoing the left side, leaning in that direction the whole time. But I kept going and gained on some folks, including an OC6 from the host club that I think was just pacing folks and doing the course. I felt the awkwardness in my stroke due to my poor posture/positioning, but didn't feel there was any way to address it without risk of another huli. And there were a couple of times when it felt imminent.

The wind came in gusts, and so did the chop. I focused on moving forward (at what felt like a really slow speed!) and not flipping again. As I passed a woman in a very narrow yellow OC1, I saw a big seal off to the right. It didn't seem to care about us.

Approaching the southern turn (a raft with a pink flamingo on it), I came up on a guy named Russ, who paddles for Kikaha and apparently used to coach their women. He's one that Zachary and I bumped at a turn in the Ruston Way race last year. I don't really know him, but Melissa tells me he's a good guy, and we exchanged "sorry about that" and "it's cool" comments during Ruston Way, so I have no issues with him. I backed off and let him have the turn, rather than racing him to it. No sense in pushing it. I felt like I would be able to keep up with him and pass him.

He turned, I turned after him, and then I caught and passed him. I caught and passed the OC6. And I caught and passed a woman named Minnie. And then it was a matter of paddling down wind for 3+ miles to the finish.

Occasionally the wind swells would come up and I could feel them trying to give me a lift, and at first I paddled hard to catch what I could of them. I think it made a difference in my speed at times. But it wore me out (it, and my odd paddling position and stroke). Each time a swell came, the boat would lift slightly and I'd steer right to keep from swinging left where the ama could get lifted up.

One issue I have in both the OC1 and OC2 canoes -- my feet go numb. I lost feeling in my left foot and leg in the New Years Challenge, and I lost my left foot again this time. That makes it hard to steer. I don't like it and I don't know if it's an issue with the seat or.... but it's something I'd like to address. I know that paddling unbalanced contributes to my leg/hip issues, so that's probably part of it.

Nearing the end of the course, Russ came by me. He'd been right behind me a good part of the way since the turn, and now he passed me. I felt like I could keep up with him, but then I lost my energy and mentally was beaten. He moved on past and ahead (and finished more than a few seconds ahead of me).

Very close to the end, Minnie came up and we fought it out for the last 100 yards or so. It was still down wind, so I was paddling almost exclusively on the left. And she was taking advantage of the chop in ways I was not able to. So she passed me and finished maybe a second or two ahead of me. She nearly hulied right at the end, but she managed to recover and get across before me.

Minnie ahead of me (I'm the canoe to the right)
finish line is the piling with the sign (I think)
image stolen from FB

I was glad to be finished, and disappointed to have not kept up with her, but I looked over after we were done and said "good race" and she smiled and said "I almost hulied right there, at the end!" I'd heard the slap of her ama coming back down.

So, that was it. Disappointing, but more experience for me. Next time I'll do more like what I expected of myself. It's all good. Experience is good. And there were no permanent injuries (though I definitely noticed the muscles in my back the next morning -- muscles I've not been using during practice!).

Next time:
  • I'd like to do more practicing in the boat I'm going to race in. (I was originally going to do the race in an OC2, but my partner got sick the night before. Not that I'd done a ton of practicing in the OC2 either, but it was a mental shift for me.)

  • I'd like to have more experience in rigging the boat. I want to know that I've rigged it the way I intend to rig it.
    Note: I just did a quick web search and 2 things apparently factor in: 1) the farther out the iakos are from the hull (the farther out the ama is), the heavier the boat, and 2) the farther into the ama the rear iako is, the heavier the boat.

  • I want to get more experience in down wind runs. Everyone else seems to like them. I find them stressful because I don't know what to expect or how to take advantage of what they can offer.

    Quote from an OC1 paddling site: "The point of learning this (flying the ama out of the water) before you do a run is so that you feel comfortable with your ama coming up. Now, when a wave hits your ama and pops it up, instead of panicking and flipping over, you will casually, no matter where you are in your stroke, put your blade out and catch yourself."

    That's where I want to be!

Some details from the race:

0 to 5 to 0 to...
(that sudden drop around 16 minutes -- that's my huli)

Things I notice:
  • the avg speed is probably low b/c I turned the gps on before the start, and then sat for a bit. That's the low stuff on the left
  • I started strong, going 5mph initially.
  • the near-6mph bit around 32 minutes was a lull in the wind, I believe
  • the jump from 4-something to 6+mph just before 50min is where I made the turn and started back north (down wind)
  • I kept it up over 6mph for a chunk of time. I think this was when I was doing my passing and the bay was relatively calm/sheltered
  • then things drop back to 5mph with spikes over 6, but it gets messy there near the end when I was tired and blah blah blah
  • It looks like when I was pushing to keep up w/ Mini, I was managing 6+mph.
3/3 - update:

my official time (and Minnie's):
39 Minnie Fontenelle 1h 12.29.90m
40 Paul Van Zwalengurg 1h 12.31.87m

So that's almost 3 seconds gap you're seeing in that photo.
And I was the 40th boat in.
Of 52.
The first to finish came in at 55m 19s.
That was a surfski.
The 2nd boat in was an OC1, with a time of 55m 42s (Alan Goto).