Thursday, September 30, 2010

photo thursday: ... we're soooo tired...

Lake Sammamish, August 7, 2010

What we look like
(after a hard race)

This is our Na Pali Men's crew after we'd just spent the last 30 minutes of the 11 mile DaGrind race trying to catch a Mountain Home canoe that was just ahead of us. We didn't quite catch them, and finished about 20 seconds after they did, but it was a good race and we were pretty well spent. But then you know all of this if you've been paying attention in class to this point.

(photo by Mark McDermott of Wakinikona Canoe Club)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

paddling: ... cry, cry, cry ...

DougM and I did a long OC2 practice on last Thursday night, and though I started the workout feeling weak and draggy, it ended up being a good, hard workout.

I've been paddling all year with both Dougs, going Tues/Thurs due to childcare/school schedules, which means I've not been making most of the normally scheduled club workouts (Mon/Weds). The tradeoff has been that I've benefited from having personal trainers that most paddlers would pay for. And all I've had to do is show up! I think I've gained a huge amount from spending almost every Tuesday in an OC2 with DougM, and now that my schedule is shifting back to Mon/Weds, I'm not going to have this opportunity for at least a while.

The Tuesday workouts have been small boat workouts (OC2 or OC1), but the Thursday workouts were largely OC6 paddles, with the other paddlers being folks on the Na Pali crews. Those paddles became known as the "make me cry" workouts, due to a joking comment I made to DougM at one point. We regularly went 15+ miles (sometimes 18) and 3 hours and kept up a good pace the entire time. But after the Na Pali race, and especially over the last few weeks, turnout has dwindled, and the last 2 Thursdays has been just DougM and me. Which, is fine with me. It's just more personalized training time!

So last Thursday we did our final "make me cry" workout. I said we should just do a "cruise" workout given that I was feeling dragged out. We started out and headed to Lake Washington to check out the wind. It was supposed to be blowing hard from the south, and it was doing that to a fair degree, which meant we were heading south, into it, toward I90.

Doug didn't think we'd make the bridge, given the swells we were pushing into, and the early sunset, but we did our best to paddle hard, and he even managed to catch some small bumps that were running south, against the wind swell. It was odd, feeling the canoe pick up and start to run a little, even as we were crashing into oncoming waves. Odd and fun.

As we got closer to I90 and the wind seemed to back off a bit, I said "You're not going to turn me around now!" and he laughed and said we'd make the bridge. Which we did, surfing more small bumps as we neared it. Then a quick turnaround, and we were headed back north.

Now we were paddling with the wind and swells, and Doug was regularly catching bumps so we were surfing. The surfing, I've learned, is frequently just a subtle increase in speed, coupled with a lifting of the back of the boat. It doesn't always (or even usually) feel like board surfing, where you catch and drop in and tuck, going across the face of the wave. It's more a sense of feeling the front of the canoe drop down and the back rise up and then you paddle hard for 5 strokes or so, and there's an increase in speed that isn't directly related to how hard you're now paddling. If you're lucky, you get 10 seconds of that lift, which can mean a lot in a race, especially if you're catching regular bumps. If you're really lucky, you can sometimes stick with a bump for 20 or 30 seconds, adjusting, trying to stay with it without over paddling and going out past it. It's a delicate balance, and the more experience you have, and the more you've been paddling with your boat mates, the easier it is. At this point in the season, DougM and I have been doing this enough that I even sometimes know when to push without having him say so. And at the least, I react as he tells me "now!"

I felt strong the entire way in, and as we approached the Montlake cut, I started to want to really push it to the end. We ran in ahead of a powerboat and continued through the cut in mostly smooth water and dying light. Coming out the west end, we powered toward the University Bridge. There were rowing shells working out in the calm water, and as we passed under the bridge and headed out into Lake Union, there was a single that we were trailing and that I wanted to catch.

So I pushed and Doug pushed behind me, and even though we were going into the wind again and tired we nearly caught him before turning off into Waterway 18.

Our track, along with the vitals

It was a great finish to the Make Me Cry series, and fitting in a way that it was only the two of us, as we'd been the original instigators of that workout, with Doug steering, and me trying not to cry.

Some of the things I've enjoyed about paddling with Doug:
  • He's strong and so I get to benefit from his fitness
  • I can practice keeping my pace up as I stroke
  • He's focused and puts himself into the workout (setting an example as much as anything else)
  • He's not afraid to go for something long
  • He's got a good sense of humor
  • I get to learn from him every time I'm out on the water
Our splits:

(nearly 7 on a lot of these - the 5.x ones were into the wind)

Go ahead, try to Make Me Cry!

Monday, September 27, 2010

family: ...home, home...

... and we're staying this time...

Done. Our roadtrip. To Walla Walla. And home. Someone asked me last night if it was fun. I thought for a moment longer than they expected, then said "parts were."

Traveling with 2 small kids is a challenge. Maybe it's just a challenge for me. Maybe everyone else in the world can pop a 4.5yo and an almost 3yo into a Grand Caravan minivan and drive for 5 hours and settle down in a hotel room with 2 beds and one window and lots of dimness and spend a night and do stuff for a day and spend another night and then reverse the process, slicing maybe 30 minutes off the drive home, and when asked if it was fun, say immediately and without reservation "Yeah. We're going to do it again next weekend. Maybe double the drive and quadruple the time spent away from the comfort and familiarity of our home!" Maybe it's just me.

I found it draining. And this with girls who are relatively well behaved!* I can't imagine what it would be like if they were truly handfuls.... I don't want to imagine it.

I can't imagine doing this kind of thing alone, without the support and tag-team benefits of M. She picks up the slack when I'm worn down, and vice versa (I hope). But even going two-on-two, it was a long game and I'm glad it's over.

There were good moments, but there were not-so-good ones as well. We took the girls' bikes and they were excited to ride (to the point of wanting to ride as soon as we got there, even though they were tired and hungry and had not a clue). On Saturday we took them to the Whitman campus where K rode well and enjoyed herself (mostly) and L had multiple meltdowns because she couldn't peddle as well as she wanted, and it was slightly uphill and she was tired and hadn't slept well and hadn't eaten well and, and, and.... (there's something particularly humiliating about being a parent of a child having a loud tantrum on a quiet eastern Washington Saturday morning right next to tennis courts on which competition is taking place! "Hi, oh, we're just passing through... my wife is an alum and she's over there with our other child who is also having a meltdown about... well, something vitally important, and we just wanted to come let the girls watch you play tennis because it's such a great example you're giving them, and by the way, we'll also provide a bit of an audio challenge while you're trying to win your match!")

Being a bit older than M, I'm way past feeling like I'm almost one of these college kids (who all seem to be about 11 years old), but I suspect experiences like taking your own kids on campus help slap you in the face with a cold harsh reality that you are 15 years removed from playing tennis in the early morning quiet and marveling at the really old alums who would bring their kids back to an reunion....

Balancing this type of thing were moments like watching the girls imitate their mama on the climbing rock, me basking in the fact that these were my kids and my wife and somehow, as if by magic, they had ended up in my life!

And then there was the fact that these sisters managed to share a bed and sleep reasonably well (until 5a the first morning, and 6a the second). Is it just me, or is there something endearing about the image of two small kids curled together in one bed, asleep and breathing in a pool of shared little kidness?

And we had coffee. I drank much coffee. It wasn't even particularly good coffee, but it was warm and dark and helped keep me awake.

I wish I was a better traveler. I wish I could embrace the unexpected and the challenges of travel with kids. I honestly believe exposure to things other than the familiar is good and expanding and blah blah blah, but this morning I'm tired and wonder why it's morning and not night, and why I'm getting up and not going to bed.

Did I mention that it's gray and dark and damp and that the winter hasn't really even STARTED yet? It's going to be a long, cold, lonely winter.....

I like the idea of travel with the kids. I'd love to immerse the girls in things unlike those they are used to, introduce them to people and places and experiences that open their eyes and give them the facility to embrace the world in all its glory and variety. But right now I just want to sleep in my own bed and know they are sleeping well in their own beds....

On the bright side, I managed to "test drive" parts of a story I've been kicking around in my head for some time, a story called "Kate Finds a Horse." It's something I'd like to write out and explore as a possible kid's book.

M and I were beat, 4 hours into the return trip, and in order to keep the peace and relative quiet, and to distract K who was "hot!" and insisted on having my window all the way down, even though it was now raining and having wet wind blow into my left ear at upwards of 70mph was not conducive to my finding a happy place, I started telling this story to the girls right about the time we crossed Snoqualmie summit, and it kept K occupied and engaged the entire rest of the trip. She kept asking for more chapters, suggesting the concepts: "Tell about how Belle jumps!" and "Tell about Belle's Stall!!" I tried to stop after 4 chapters, but she insisted I keep on telling the story even as we crossed the I-90 bridge on into Seattle.

So, I think I've got one reader, if I can manage to get this thing onto paper.

*Just to make clear, our girls were nothing more than... kids. They were fully age-appropriate and if there was anyone who wasn't acting his age, it was me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

family: ... but he left it, no doubt...

dispatch two from walla walla

Today L found the Gideons' Bible in the bedside table drawer and spent a goodly (as opposed to godly) amount of time "reading" it. Should I be worried?

She likes to read anyway, happy to sit with a book and page through it, telling the story aloud as she remembers it, self-conscious only if she realizes we're listening and not wanting us to pay attention to what she's saying ("Don't thee me!").

So there she sat on the bed turning the thin pages of what she was, curiously, calling her "peppermint book." And I wondered if I ought to worry. Convenience taking precedence, I decided not. After all, what's a bit of religion if the trade off is that it keeps her relatively quiet?


It's hard to imagine what parenting was like before DVDs and laptops computers. Maybe parents and kids had to interact or something.

Another Walla Walla Saturday
a book, a MacBook, a Curious George DVD, and two girls)

On this trip we've used my laptop more than once for watching videos (Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine), and this has bought us a few minutes of peace and reading time here and there. A good thing too, as M is nearing the end of the 2nd of Stieg Larsson’s mysteries and I'm completely wrapped up in a book called The Element (which is convincing me that US public schools are probably not the place I want to send my kids, but then neither are most of the private schools) and we're both finding it difficult to get much opportunity to read. And after all, that's what having family is all about, right? Scratching out those moments when you can be together without talking?


We had a bit of an evening, the girls and I. First we went to dinner at a brew pub where K ordered fish and chips and ate chips and ketchup, L ordered grilled cheese and ate fries and ketchup in between lying on her back on the bench with her bare feet on the wall next to her, and I ordered a burger and beer and ate K's fish and chips and drank L's pineapple juice and somehow managed to get them out of there without publicly throttling either of them.

waitress: Do you need a high chair?
L: I want a high chair!
me: You don't need a high chair L.
waitress: A booster seat?
L: Yeah, a boothter theat!
K: I want a booster seat!
waitress: Two booster seats?
me: Thanks.
... later, in our booth...
K: I want to take off my shoes.
me: You can K.
L: I want to take off my thoose too.
me: Ok.
K: I'm on the inside booster seat.
me: Yes you are.
L: I want to be on a inthide boothter theat!
me: You want to move over here next to me? Then you'll be on the inside.
L (pouting): No. I don't want this theat! (getting up off it and pushing it to the floor) I want a inthide boothter theat!!
me: And that's not and inside booster seat?
L: No! Ith not!
me (getting up and crawling under the table to retrieve the seat): Ok.
L: I want a inthide boothter theat!
me (going to the front door to get a replacement seat): Here.
L: Ith that a inthide boothter theat?
me: Yup.
L: Ok. ... Can I thit nexth to you?
me: Sure.
(both girls end up moving over to my side of the booth)
K: Actually, I don't want a booster seat.
me (sigh): Ok, here (taking it and putting it on the bench across the table).
L: Acthually, I don't want a boothter theat.
me (big gulp of beer): Ok. (adding it to the opposite bench)

What follows dinner? Bath in a bathroom approximately the size of an airplane toilet. I'd been planning to skip for the 2nd straight night, but K suggested it, and I decided that it was a good idea, given the ketchup of dinner, the stickiness of ice cream/lollypop from the afternoon, the grime of the day, etc. We managed to get through it with a minimum of water outside the tub, and only 5 potty breaks (2 for K, 3 for L).

Then a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine videos (so much more enjoyable for me, now that I know it's the late George Carlin doing the narrating! I've got a fantasy that at some point he'll break out in "7 Words Thomas Can't Say"). Then, books and bed and 15 or 20 minutes of tossing and cover-kicking-off and loud whispers in my direction in the dark.

And now.... silence, interrupted occasionally by a sleep sigh or a groan.

Good night.

family: ... sitting on top of...

Something thing I love about M is the example she sets for our girls.

She isn't afraid to try things, or to get her hands dirty trying.

Today we went by the college climbing rock and of course M wanted to try.

Reaching for the sky!*
(miles above the ground)

And then so did the girls...

K&L, now with two, two,
(two times the climbing power!)

I served strictly as "documentarian."

How wonderful for K&L to have a mom like this. They'll really appreciate it in the years to come. The sky's the limit girls!

Missionaries, missionaries, we're on top!**

Ms. Good Example
(who wouldn't like a mom like this?!?)

* where sky may = approximately 6' up and miles might be "about 2 feet," with me lying on my back so as to give the pictures the proper perspective
** unofficial whitman college cheer

family: ... all our bags are packed...

... we're ready to go... check in to the hotel Marcus Whitman

Another day, another city
K&L, heading for the lobby...

Friday, September 24, 2010

family: ... i just can't wait to get on the road again...

dispatch one from Walla Walla --

I'm sitting in the dark in the Marcus Whitman Hotel while in the bed next to mine two girls are refusing to go to sleep. So far today has consisted of getting up in order to start work from home at 5am, working until we left West Seattle at noon to pick up K and head east toward the mountains, driving for 5 hours during which a total of about 30 minutes of napping took place, and eating picnic food at a BBQ here in Walla Walla.

We've come to W.W. for one of M's class reunions. This is the second reunion of M's we've been to in 5 years, which is revealing. Me, I've not been to a single reunion of either of my colleges. Which is also revealing. (On the other hand, I've been to multiple high school reunions - that's what happens when you go to a school where your graduating class size was under 30.)

Our 5 hour drive over here can be captured in just a few lines of dialog:

K: How much longer 'til we get there?
L: How longer 'til we they-a?
me: A while yet. It's still a ways a way girls.
M: It's a long drive.
L: Ith a long dwive K.
K: I'm not talking to you!

Or, if you want the director's cut:

K: How much longer 'til we get there?
L: How longer 'til we they-a?
me: A while yet. It's still a ways a way girls.
M: It's a long drive.
L: Ith a long dwive K.
K: I'm not talking to you!
M: We're on the I-90 floating bridge, so we've been driving about 10 minutes.
me: Which means we've got a little way to go yet.
K: I'm tired of sitting in the car.
me: Me too!
L: Me too!
M (looking at me): I'm going to read my magazine.
me: ha ha ha!
M (pulling out her magazine): Hmm....
me: You were serious?
M (already head down and reading): Hmmm...
K: How much longer 'til we get there?
L: Dada, I thaw a plane!
me: Where L?
L: Up they-a.
me (not seeing it): Oh, yeah.
L: You thee it Dada? You thee it?
me: mumble mumble mumble...

... minutes pass ...

K: Are we almost there?
L: Ith a long way K.
me: We haven't even gotten to the mountains K.
K: Are we going to slide down the mountains?
me: No, we're going to drive up and then down.
K: Drive up the mountains?
L: Up the mountains Dada?
me: Yes.
K: I don't want to slip down.
me (realizing she's nervous about going straight up some mountains): There's a road K, it's like this one we're on now. It's just like this one.
K: Oh. (silence for a moment) How much longer...?
me: A while K. We aren't even to Issaquah yet.
L: We not to Ith-a-claw?
me: No, not yet.
K: I'm hot!
L: I'm hot!
M: You can take off your shirt.
K: No!
M: Ok.
L: Take off my thirt!
M (unbuckles, turns, helps the girls out of their shirts, sits back down, buckles back in). Ok?
K: I'm hungry.
M (quick glance over at me): What do you want to eat K?
K: I don't know.
L: I hungry Mama!
M: Graham crackers?
K: No!... Oh, ok.
L: Yeahyeahyeah!
M (unbuckles, turns, gets graham crackers for all the girls, sits back down, buckles back in).
K: I'm thirsty.
L: I thirthty too Mama!
M (unbuckles, turns....)
me: Getting a lot of that magazine read?
M (picking up her magazine): You are now it...

... much later-er ...

K: Are we almost there?
me: No, it's a long drive.
L: Ith a long dwive K.
K (yelling at her sister): No! Stop! I'm not asking you!
L: Ith a long dwive.
K: Mama!
M: What do you want to do?
K: Get out.
L: Get out-y!
M: We can't get out. We're driving 70 mph.
me: Hey, look over there.
K: What Daddy? What? ..... Horses! I see horses!
L: What? What?
K: Horses!
L: Way-er?
K: Back there.
me: They were back in that pasture L.
L (starting to cry): I didn't thee them Dada!
K: I'm cold. Mama, I'm cold.
M (unbuckles, turns, puts shirts back on girls, sits down, buckles up again)

Go back to "much later-er" and repeat multiple times, occasionally substituting "cows" for "horses" and "hot" for "cold"

... later still ...

L: I need to pee.
me (looking at M): I can pull over.
M: If we see a convenience store or something.
me: There's nothing anywhere around here. It's like Lewis and Clark just passed through a few weeks ago. Except for this road. And all the traffic. And the country radio stations.
M: So just like.
me: Pretty much.
L: I really need to pee!
M (looking back): Really badly? Or just kind of?
L: Weally badly!
M: Ok, we're almost there.
K: We're almost there?
L: Ith we almost they-a?
me: Yeah, almost.

... we arrive, manage to fit in a couple of pee breaks, go to a BBA where we drink a flat beer each, eat brats and potato chips and then I return to the hotel with the girls, leaving M to reune ...

me (in the darkened hotel room): If you don't go to sleep we won't be able to do anything fun tomorrow.
L: Whoa is Mama?
me: She's out seeing friends.
L: When is she going to come back?
me: After we're all in bed. Go to sleep.
K: What are you doing with your computer?
me: Nothing. Go to sleep.

... moments later ...

K: I'm thirsty.
me: Good night!
L: Dada, I'm thirsty!
me: Good night!

Go back to "moments later" and repeat multiple times.

Good night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

photo thursday: ... hippity-hop...

because, nothing says "Autumn" like last year's Easter hat!

L, in motion, in K's hat

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

definitions (special edition): spodoze / ahminated

it's a special WTF edition of double-definition tuesday!

lollypops from NYC!

spodoze - ???, ????


L (snuggled against me, reading): It spodoze.
me (looking down): "Spodoze?"
L: Yeah! (starting to laugh), spodoze!
me: Spodoze.
L (laughing maniacally now, and beginning to hop about): SPODOZE! IT SPODOZE. Yeah Dada, spodoze!!!!
me: (giving in to laughter without knowledge or understanding)
L (singing it now): Spodoze, spodoze, spodoze!!

ahminated - adjective?: ????

L (walking into the kitchen): Dada?
me: Yes L?
L: Whoa is K?
me: She's in the bathroom.
L: K! K! You want to go upstay-ers with me?
K: What?!?
L: You want to go upstay-ers with me?
K: What?
me: Let her finish L. Ask her after she comes out.
L: What?
me: Wait until she's done in the bathroom.
L: K?
K: What?
L: What you doing?
K (opening the door): What?
L: You want to go upstay-ers with me?
K: No!
L (somewhat disapointed): K, you're tho ahminated!
me: ???
L: Yeah!
me: What's "ahminated?"
L: It boolly boolly boolly! (laughs maniacally)

bonus "ahminated" picture
(dimness of photo due to crappy September weather,
not to technical failures of photographer)

Monday, September 20, 2010

family: ... what goes on...

... when Mama is away...

Today I'm posting a couple of photos taken by a friend* who came over for dinner while M was gone. I take plenty of pictures of the girls, but it's nice to see some from another perspective.

L, looking herself in sooo many ways
(new "thockerball" pajamas)

I love the one above because it manages to capture aspects of L's personality that I'm not sure I've ever managed to get in a picture. Three pairs of glasses? Really? (By the way, all glasses are "thunglatheth" to L, whether or not they have darkened lenses.)

And this one too, captures key aspects of K:

K, looking... pensive and pretty
(L in foreground, using my "gee-pee-eth")

*(thanks Melissa.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

family: ... it's all right now...

a "conversation" while solo parenting last weekend:

L: Dada?
me: Yeah L?
L: What you doing?
me: Uh, having some privacy.
L: In the bath room?
me: Yes.
L: Ok.... Dada?
me: Yes L?
L: I changing my panth because I need to change them because it getting late and I want to change them.
me: ???
L (pushing open the door): What you doing?
me: L...
L (laughing and pulling her jeans over her stiff legs): I'm putting on my pantsies.
me: Ok.
L (grinning in through the now open door): Could I have a little pwivacy? Could I Dada? Could I have a little pwivacy?
me (starting to laugh): Sure L.
L: Cause I need some pwivacy because I going to have to change my jeanth because I want some pwivacy. Ok Dada?
me: Sure. Ok. I've got your back.
L: What?
me: Nothing.
L: What?!? My back?
me: Nothing L. It's just a saying.
L: A thaying?
me: That's right.
L: I need some pwivacy!
me: I know L.
L: That ok?
me: Yes L, it's ok.
L: Ok.... Dada?
me: Yeah?
L: Can you help me?
me: Sure L.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

photo thursday (family): ... all I have is a photograph...

(from the occasional series "the view from 3 feet" - photos from K's cambra)

Some "real life" pictures documenting last weekend's "me-n-the-girls" solo parenting gig.

More. Espresso! (please)
(What do you mean I'm crabby first thing in the morning?)

Mid-bite, dinner
(K was especially pleased w/ this one)

Is it Monday yet?

For the record, we all survived, and M had a great time in NYC. And she's back, and I get to be at work!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

family: ...all i want to do...

... is sleep sleep sleep...

Just one more example of why I love my wife.

Our dog, the "Beast" of the title of this blog*, is a Labrador. Which is another way of saying that she likes to eat. She. Likes. To. Eat. A. Lot.

Rare photo of the Beast not eating
(she's thinking about it, I promise)

Once she found and chewed open a bottle of Ibuprofen so we took her to the vet to have her stomach pumped. They had me leave her there, and when I went to pick her up the lab tech brought her out to me. She was all smiles (the beast), tail wagging high. The tech told me they'd cleaned her out and had her eat charcoal to absorb any of the toxins she might otherwise have gotten. A woman standing near by with her small lap-dog in her arms opened her eyes in amazement. "How did you get her to eat that?" The tech looked at her and said with a shrug, "She's a lab. We put it in a bowl." I laughed because I understood exactly what she meant.

When we have to give the Beast a pill, we just hold it out like a treat, and she eats it. Like a treat.

We know she's not well when she's not eating.

All of which may seem beside the original point of this post, but it's not.

We're in the heart of pear season right now, with a good crop on our aging tree. (Apparently, in spite of the lack of a real summer around here, pears did well this year.) And the Beast likes pears. Among nearly every other food. (She eats raspberries off the bush like a grazing bear in huckleberries, unfortunately eating them just before they are human-ripe. She'll eat green tomatoes off a bush until she gets sick. Needless to say, all our garden crops are isolated behind multiple electrified barbed-wire fences!)

Beast and Bug
(harvesting raspberries)

She jumps into the air to pick pears off the tree. Before we got her there were branches down as low as 4 feet off the ground. After she figured out the tree had something she might want to eat, I trimmed the branches to somewhere around 6.5 feet up. High enough, I thought.

But I was wrong. She'll spend hours under the tree, leaping to try to grab a pear. And when there are no pears within reach, she'll grab a branch in her mouth and pull, letting it go as she plummets to the ground, watching all the while to see if she managed to shake any pears loose. (This dumb dog isn't that dumb!)

Catching some air
(and a pear or three)

She's getting older now, 9 years older than when we first got her at 1yo, and she can't jump as high or for as long. She'll sometimes stand under the tree trying to will a pear to fall, groaning in frustration and her lost athleticism.

(you're feeling very ripe....)

She's also losing her hearing, at least a bit, and I can sometimes call to her multiple times before she turns and sees me.

But, in the dead of night, during pear season, she sleeps with one ear turned toward the bedroom window, and seems to have no problem hearing a falling pear. Which results in her getting up out of bed and coming over to our bed to stand softly whining as though she's remembered some crucial bit of email she forgot to answer. Or as if she badly needs to go out. Which she does. But not for reasons for which I'm willing to get up out of bed at 11.30p or 12.09a or 2.43a or 3.51a. Yet, after 5 to 15 seconds of dog breath in my face, I'm usually haul myself up and stomp downstairs after her (she rushes ahead, excited about her upcoming snack), cursing the day we ever thought about getting a dog.

Last night I got up at least 3 times (that I remember). After a hard paddling workout. And before needing to get up at 4a to get out the door by 5a. By the second time I was fuming. By the third (at 3.42a, remember, I'm getting up at 4a), I could feel my head ready to explode. I finally got up at 3.53a, swearing and pushing my way out past the milling dog. I think I might have even kissed M goodbye before I left the room. As I was fantasizing kicking the dog.

Later, she called me at work to see how I was doing.

M: You must be tired.
me: I am. Sorry for being so stressed out last night. I know it's awful to be trying to sleep next to someone who's all tensed up.
M: Oh, it wasn't too bad.
me: Why'd we get a dog again? All she wanted was to run outside and look for pears. Why'd we want a pear tree?
M: We didn't plant the pear tree.
me: No, but we haven't cut it down either! I swear I thought my head was going to explode, I was so worked up!
M: (sudden snort of laughter).
me: Uh...
M (still laughing): That wouldn't be good. Think of the mess it would make.
me: Uh.... no, but... (starting to laugh too)

At which point we both began laughing insanely.

See, she laughs at me, but in a way that has me laughing with her. And that's why I love my wife! She helps me laugh at things that otherwise would have me stewing and steaming. Thank you, M! (even though, as I recall, it was your idea to get a dog in the first place!)

* "Bug" is K. And here they are, Beast and Bug:

(seeing eye-to-eye)

family: ... one for my baby....

(in which I worry probably a bit too much about sugar and junk food and not quite enough about agricultural organizations)

(not so) Still-life
(with bigfoot)
(entirely unrelated to sugar ingestion)

It's interesting to note what things we as parents worry about, and what we don't have enough imagination to think of worrying about. And I can only worry that it will get worse as the girls get older. For now, the story of a relatively benign misplaced worry:

We don't give the girls much "junk food." Which doesn't mean they don't get snacks. But they've not had much soda (called "pop" around here, and, interestingly, called "co'cola" in Alabama, as in "I'll have an orange co'cola."), but recently they each got to have a can of ginger ale. (Yay!)

I poured it into 2 small glasses, over ice, then discovered they wanted to drink it from the can. Really? I pour the soda back into the cans and give one to each of the girl, along a straw.
Then I wait to hear the reactions. Would the bubbles tickle their noses? Would they like it? Would they suddenly turn into sugar craving fiends? Isn't high-fructose corn syrup a gateway drug to.... higher fructose corn syrup?*


K (after taking a very small sip, too small to actually taste anything): Good (nodding). I like it.
L (after a larger sip): I like it!

a few seconds pass, and then:

K: Vernonica not use straw.
L: Litha not uthe thtraw.

So there you have it. More important than sugar or bubbles tickling noses is the fact that in Saddle Club, when the girls drink soda, they drink straight from the cans! These are, after all, horse riding, jump jumping, song singing girl riders.

Duly noted. No straws.

* I heard on NPR this morning that the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the FDA to change the name from HFCS to "corn sugar." Apparently the sales of HFCS have plummeted lately, possibly due to concerns about health and obesity amongst Americans.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

definitions: eyebulb / roastmallows

it's another edition of double-definition tuesday!

eyebulb - noun, the round thing behind your eyelid.


K: Daddy, look at L.
me (looking over at my younger daughter who is lying on the window seat with a finger in her eye): What are you doing L?
L: Thith ith my eyebulb!
me: Your eyebulb?
L: Yeah! Can you touth it? Dada?
me: Touch your eyeball?
L: Yeah! Can you? Pleath?
me: No L. We don't touch anyone else's eyes.
L: Peath Dada? Because I want you to!!
me: I'm not going to touch your eye.
L: I can touth it mythelf!
me: Why do you want to do that?
L: Becauth Dada. Becauth it my eyebulb
me: Ok.
K: It not a eyebulb!

roastmallows - noun: one third of the makings of s'mores.


L (walking to the supermarket with me): Dada?
me: Yes L?
L: Can we get some roathmallowth?
me: Some roastmallows?
L: Yeah Dada! Pleath!!
me: Why?
L: So we can eat them!
me: You want to eat them?
L: Yeah. And put them in the fire and hold them there with a stick.
me: Like at Kathleen and Larry's?
L: Yeah.
me: Maybe we can. Should we do that with them again?
L: Yeah. That would be fun Dada. It would! Weally!
me: I think you're right. It would be fun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

family: ... crazy, i'm crazy for...

... lovin' you

Here's a relatively accurate portrayal of parts of our weekend:

Burning daylight while burning energy
(we pay taxes for the sidewalk,
we may as well run up and down it
yelling at the top of our lungs!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

paddling: ...we can change...

... our lives.

(this is part paddling and part introspection. mostly the latter. you have been warned)

Our Men's Na Pali Crew*
(paddling on Lake Sammamish in early August)

A good friend who not only has a gorgeous daughter (and wife), but is also a world-class athlete recently asked me if the Na Pali Challenge paddle was a "life changing" experience for me. I don't think he expected any particular answer, meaning that I don't think he anticipated that it would necessarily change my life, but he was curious, looking for information about the paddle and my reactions to it.

I thought for a moment and then said I didn't think I'd call it life changing. It was fun, it was challenging, it was satisfying, but life changing? Probably not. And I don't think I expected it to be.

But I liked that he'd asked the question, and it got me thinking. And anything that gets me thinking is good.

For instance, I'm thinking that I don't believe any of my paddling has been particularly life changing, at least to this point.

I suppose it partly depends on how you define "life changing." If by that you mean, has my day-to-day life changed as a result, well, yes, I'm spending 6-9 hours a week doing heavy exercise, crawling into bed 2 nights a week with a body so exhausted by workouts that I can barely pull my legs in after me. So in those senses, paddling has changed my life.

But do I have a different outlook on life now that I'm paddling? Or now that I've done a long paddle in Hawaii? I don't believe so. I feel like I have a tiny bit more understanding of water conditions there, and that this bit of information will help me the next time I go. But about paddling I'd say it feels more like a natural extension of who and what I am and have been for years. It fits me like something I have loved in the past and will do in the future. (I hadn't really done any paddling before the summer of 2009.)

I can imagine that there are some paddling experiences out there that would feel like life changers for me. Perhaps doing the Molokai Channel solo. Or even as a relay with someone else. Or maybe not. Paddling feels right to me, it feels like home in some ways that other physical exercise hasn't (biking, for example, is something I've done and enjoyed, but not the way I enjoy being on the water**).

Some life changing experiences: going to college on the mainland, getting married, getting divorced, living alone, getting married, becoming a parent, losing a parent....

I wonder, what life changing experiences have you had? What constitutes a life changing experience, and are any of them related to exercise?

*taken by Mark McDermott of Wakinikona, and used here without permission.

**Interestingly, my sister and her two kids have all begun rowing this past summer, so there are more of us getting out on the water and being physical. I won't necessarily extrapolate any particular conclusion from that fact.

Friday, September 10, 2010

family: ... win! win!...

(daddy win)

Yesterday (or was it the day before? these days blur into each other when I'm focused on holding it together on my own) I had a significant win as a daddy. L was foolish enough to ask me to put a pony tail in her hair, and I did. Luckily she is neither critical enough to double-check my work, or discerning enough to demand a redo (both of which K would most certainly have done).

Once I'd managed to make her so happy that she spent the morning running like a maniac back and forth around the kitchen, I decided I should immortalize my work. Some day she'll look at these pictures and wonder how she ever managed to survive little girldom But that's a worry for another day, another year.

Here's a picture of L refusing to slow down long enough for me to capture the deed. She's just ricocheted off the kitchen door and is heading back toward the mudroom:

Pure Joy
(and wanting to tease Dada)

And here's a picture I somehow managed to take, utilizing techniques similar to those of National Geographic photographers who take pictures of hummingbird toenails:

Ear, with pony tail
(stop-action photography by ME!)

family: ... I can't sleep...

... if I can't sleep with you.

Have I mentioned that I'm solo parenting starting yesterday (thurs) and continuing through Monday? M has gone to NYC, and while I won't say she was excited about the trip, I will mention that yesterday evening when I finally went upstairs to brush my teeth and collapse in our bed, I found her espresso mug sitting on the bathroom counter, as if she'd downed the double shot in a single swallow so as not to interrupt her preparations to flee, and then abandoned the mug in her haste.

This is a birthday trip, something I intended to surprise her with, but which got too complicated to actually do a morning-of "I'm taking you to the airport" bombshell. Still, she's excited, and deserves the break. After all, she's had the girls on her own twice this summer, both times for 10 days - first down in Alabama when she stayed after I'd come home, and again last month while I was in Hawaii paddling. So the math I do is (10 + 10) = 5 days in NYC visiting a college friend. Seems about right, no? (Note: I was a liberal arts, history/literature major, so that's as good as my math gets.)

So far, so good. I got both girls fed (sorta) and bathed, and both even told me they loved me last night. We'll see how long the honeymoon lasts.

This morning I have to get K ready for school (yesterday dissolved in a mess of tears when she decided that the shirt she was going to wear didn't fit any longer because when she leans over it shows approximately 1 cm of skin, for up to a second at a time), and L ready for daycare. And I'm working from home so that I can go get them at the end of their day. And then we have to figure out what to do for the next 72 hours until M gets back. I'm sure we'll think of something. After all, our new DVD player has an auto-repeat feature....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

photo thursday: ... joy of joys...

we now have something approaching 8 or 9 or a trillion rubber duckies in the family. These get divided up evenly between the girls, with K getting 5 or so, and L getting 3. It's all good.

Last night was bubble bath night, and the duckies partook:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

family:... today it's your...

... first day of school

First Day of School, 2010
(second year of Pre-K)

Today is noteworthy for several reasons, including that it is the first day of the school year for K. This is her second year at Montessori school and she enjoyed her first year. But the start of any school year is a big deal, and this is true of the start of your second pre-K year at Montessori.

To celebrate, we (M and I) drove her down to school and walked her in, kissed her goodbye, and went to coffee and bakery treats.

This was also to celebrate another milestone: today is M's birthday. In honor, she got to make K's lunch, struggle with getting L dressed, drive the girls (and me) to daycare (L) and to school (K), and then I treated her to coffee and a twice-baked scone at our local world-famous bakery. She went off to work after this, to get some quiet time I think.

Of note this morning was the opening of a package from M's college roommate, a package that contained a book about the Brat Pack, and a yodeling pickle. Yup, that's right. A pickle. That yodels. If you know M and her roommate, you know that this isn't as surprising as it sounds.

Here's the thing. L is sometimes, well, crazy, even without adding in a yodeling pickle. Add that, and what you get is L running back and forth across the kitchen, wielding this pickle as it "yodelahe-hoos." In any case, the pickle was a huge hit with the girls, so much so that we had to divide up turns with it. L gets 5 minutes, K gets 5 minutes... repeat ad nauseam.

K: It my turn! I want to see it!!
L (bursts into tears as K pulls the pickle away): Waaaaaaa!!!!!!
me: K, what happened?
K (quietly, almost to herself): Nothing.
L: She tookth it from me! I want it! I want it!!
K: Well, it was my turn and I wanted it.
pickle: Yodelllllllaaaaaayheeee-hoooooooooo
me: retch!
L: I want it!
me: K, give it back to your sister. You get a turn next.
K (hands the pickle to L): Here.
L: Thank you. (takes off running, pickle broadcasting loud yodels throughout the house). I winned! I won!! (back and forth from mudroom to back door)

(interruption - how kids learn language is fascinating. L obviously understands past tense at some level, and she corrected herself, going from "winned" to "won")

L (still running): Listen Dada! Hear it! Hear it now!!
me: I hear it!
L: No, hear it with your ear!
me: I do hear it with my ear.
L: No, put it close!
me: I don't need to.
L (takes off running again): I won! I running!! I won!!!
M (quietly, to me): I'm going to go take a shower, ok?
me: Sure, knock yourself out! Happy birthday!!
L: Hear it Dada! Hear it!! (looking around) Where ith Mama?
me: She's upstairs. Hey, we're leaving the pickle home when we take you girls to daycare and school.
L: Ok Dada!
M: Oh, alright.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

definitions: enbellope / lawn

it's double-definition tuesday!

enbellope - noun, a paper sleeve designed to hold a letter or card (see also unmail).


M: The mail's here!
K: Can I see it?
L: I want thomthing!
K: No! I asked first!
M: There's some for everyone. Here K, a new magazine. L, do you want a magazine or an envelope?
L: A enbellope?
M: Yeah, an envelope. Here (handing some junk mail over).
L: Thith a enbellope?
K: I want something with horses
M: We don't have anything with horses K.
L: Mama, thith a enbellope?
M: Yes L, it's an envelope.
L: K, this a enbellope.
K: No it's not! It's a envelope!!
L: A enbellope? (Rips it open.) Mama, I want another enbellope!

lawn - verb: to open one's mouth wide when tired.


M: K, did you get up too early?
K (looking tired at the breakfast table): No.
M: Really? You just had a biiiiig yawn?
K (shaking head): No. Daddy, can I have some candy?
me: No K. Are you eating your breakfast? Oh, that was a big yawn!
M: Do you want some oatmeal K?
K: No!
L (coming in from the living room): What?! What Mama?!?!
M: I asked K if she wanted oatmeal.
L: Ith she said yeth?
M: No, she doesn't want anything. (seeing K yawn again) Oh K!
L: What Mama?
M: She keeps yawning, L. I think she got up too early. Do you want some oatmeal?
L: Thur. (climbs onto the window seat)
me: I'm going to have oatmeal.
L: Me too!! K, you want to have oatmeal?
K: No!
L: Does you want to have baby boony? (laughing)
K: No!! Stop it! (another yawn)
me (looking over at M): Does you want to have another coffee?
M (emphatic nod): Yes!
me: K, do you want some coffee?
K (smile threatening to break out): No! Daddy, no!
L: K, does you have a lawn?
me (looking at M): ???
M: ???
K: What?
L: A lawn. Does you have a lawn?
K: What is you talking about?
L: A lawn. Does you just lawn?
me: Uh... do you mean yawn?
L: Yeah, lawn.
K: Stop talking to me!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

photo thursday: ...dreaming...

... a dream...

(because a girl needs to dream!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

paddling: ... 14 (or so) on the left...

... 14 (or so) on the right...

14 (or so) thoughts related to the Na Pali race:

  1. morning on Hanalei Bay is glorious.

    I love morning anyway, and can't imagine a better way to start a canoe race.

    1a) It helped that it wasn't raining or cold.

    1b) It helped that I was with a great group of people.

    1c) And it helped that I'd had a big bowl of oatmeal and a couple cups of coffee.

    Our canoe, pre-race

    Our crew, pre-race
    (Rested(?) and ready!)

    Competing prep, pre-race
    (Sabine/Lisa : water vs coffee camps)

  2. outrigger canoe races always start late.

    It's the "island time" syndrome I suppose. There are reasons. There are always reasons. The steerspersons' meeting finally took place around 7.40a, with the race scheduled to start at 8a.

    2a) in spite of this, the race actually started very close to 8a!

  3. the start of this particular race is crazy and wonderful.

    The women started this year and it was a "beach start," meaning that the canoes were in the water at the beach, with the #1 and #6 paddlers standing in the water, holding the boat steady while 2-5 were seated and waiting.

    Sabine and Kaimana holding the canoe in place

    3a) multiply this by almost 40 canoes,

    Almost 40 canoes

    3b) with anchored sailboats and pleasure boats offshore and milling escort boats (1 per canoe) off to the sides. It's an amazing sight. Add an official boat with waving flags, yellow, red, GREEN! and then ....

    .... they're off!

  4. when an escort boat is late, it should not motor in toward the beach any where close to the scheduled race start.

    Our escort boat was late and came up to the beach to pick up the men as 36 canoes of competitive women were poised to start. Bad move. He got yelled away by many different paddlers and eventually backed off until after the start, at which point he came back, we swam out to get on, and we chased after the canoes for the first change.

  5. the first change in a change out race is crazy because the canoes are bunched up.

    There are crisscrossing wakes, multiple canoes to avoid, multiple escort boats to avoid, with everyone pushing rushing hurrying to get ahead.

    But we managed to find our canoe and get in position and in spite of nervousness, we were in the water and then clambering into the canoe and then I was paddling a race in Hawaii!

    5a) Here's to warm water and warm air and great team mates!

  6. the Na Pali coast is gorgeous.

    The women, approaching for a change
    (early in the race)

    6a) you don't get to see much of it while paddling.

    Men during our first shift

  7. dolphins are cool to see, no matter what (we saw some after our first leg in the boat, while the women were paddling for their second piece).

  8. though it takes what seems like forever to get to Kalalau Valley when hiking, it's a quick jaunt down the coast by canoe, and there's a lot of coast beyond it.

    Men, second shift
    (not Kalalau Valley)

  9. it's fun to catch and pass other canoes.

  10. it's fun to hear your team mates cheering for you when you're paddling

    9a) and it's fun to cheer your team mates when you're in the escort boat

    9b) it's also fun to cheer another canoe crew, especially when you're battling neck and neck (we were even with one Hanalei crew for a good part of the middle section and at one point gave their paddlers a cheer which seemed to first take them aback in their escort boat and then inspire them to give us a cheer in return - very cool aloha)

  11. when there's no water under the front of the canoe, you need to keep paddling as if there is, because everyone else behind you is keeping pace with your stroke rate and if you stop, they get confused.

    Men, paddling w/o water underneath
    (2nd leg)

  12. it's good to hydrate (water, coconut milk) when you're not paddling

    12a) it's also good to eat (poi works well, unless it makes you want to throw up (usually a mainlander reaction), and then it works less well)

    12b) after an hour or so of paddling interspersed with sitting on the escort boat hydrating, you are going to need to pee

    12c) peeing is best done in the water, while waiting to get into the canoe or immediately after exiting the canoe, rather than when in the escort boat or the canoe (yells of "go!" do NOT mean it's ok to pee)

  13. it's hard to remember to pee when you're waiting for a canoe, treading water with paddle held high as more than 400 pounds of canoe and paddlers come bombing down at you over the lumpy seas.

    13a) And then you have to paddle for 30 minutes still needing to pee.

    Men, waiting for the canoe
    (about to start 4th leg*,
    there may or may not be peeing taking place**)

    *we did 5 30 minute legs and the women did 6
    ** see #12 above

  14. when changing out, it's polite to first take the incoming paddler's paddle

    Men, taking the incoming paddlers paddles
    (women climbing aboard for their 3rd leg)

    14a) and it's also polite to take your paddle with you when you exit the canoe

  15. paddling #1 takes my breath away

    Me in #1, without breath
    (men's last (5th) leg)

  16. when there's a swell, it can be nervous-making to go close to the reef/beach!

    Trying to reach the no-change buoy
    (me in 1, gasping for breath on leg #5,
    but at least we're not too close to shore)

  17. there's a mix of of relief and regret when you don't make it to the "no change" buoy 2 miles from the finish and have to swap out with the women one more time.

  18. the mixed feelings continue when you watch the women negotiate the roughest 2 miles of the entire race and negotiate it well.

    Women, riding up over a swell
    (and doing it well)

  19. there's nothing but happiness and relief when the women pass the finish line (even if you aren't sure where it is)...

    No airhorn*, no indication of where, exactly, the finish line is!
    (but they crossed it!)

    *I heard later that the official boat had
    run out of air for the horn. Local style!

    ... and cruise into the small harbor...

    Women, cruising into the harbor
    (not evident: how big the swells were nor
    how close to closing out the channel looked)

    and you follow and climb off the escort boat at the end of the race.

    Pau! And tired, post-race

  20. luau after paddling is "da best!"

    20a) add beer, good beer, and it's even better than that!

  21. one beer goes to your head when you spend 6 hours alternately on a boat in the hot sun and in a canoe paddling hard in the hot sun.

    21a) the dizziness might last until almost Princeville while you ride back in the van

  22. you gotta do your best to ignore rude people, especially rude locals (there are always a few jerks among a lot of wonderful folks, even during an event like this).

  23. there's nothing like paddling in Hawaii.