Monday, November 29, 2010

family: ... she's got a ticket to ride...

... and she don't care!

L, in my "cowboy hat"
(daddy, ith thith your cowboy hat? / not exactly L / But ith it Dada? / sure, yeah, it is)

Overheard from the kitchen:

L: Mama, where are you going?
M: I'm going shopping.
L: You going shopping?
M: Yes.
L: To the store?
M: Yes. Shopping at the store.
L: Mama, can I go to the store with you?
M: I'll take one of you.
K: I want to go!
L: I want to go!!
M: I'm not going to take both of you. I'll take one of you. Last time we went to the store you two ran all over the store.
L: We won't!
K: We won't.
L: I promith Mama! We won't run all over the store!!
M: Why do I have trouble believing you?
L: We won't. I promith! … We'll gallop!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

family: ... i could take the credit...

... but it's thanks to you.

We're thankful. And hope you are too.

Sisterhood of the earrings

It's cold here, with some snow left over from Monday's "snopocalypse" and we're thankful for our warm home, food, dry beds, and safety. We wish the same for everyone, though we know it's not the case.

Monday, 3.45p
(doesn't look like much, yet, does it?)

4.10p, from the Water Taxi

At 4.40p the water taxi turned back to Seattle after failing at multiple attempts to dock in West Seattle. There was too much wind and too much swell. And I walked home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

family: ...found my cleanest dirty shirt ...

This is a cautionary tale. Pride and falls and all of that.

Monday Morning
(the aftermath)

K is something of a clothes... horse, if by "clothes horse" one means that she's picky about her clothes to the point of driving us freakin' nuts at times. When she's got her options, we can face her at the dresser and say "pick out an outfit for tomorrow." When something comes up, we're screwed.

Example: She won't wear a shirt if it has a stain, even one she caused (maybe especially one she caused?). If there's a hole in a pair of pants, they're rejected.

At least if she notices. I've managed, a time or two, to slip one past her. There's a spot on the back of a sleeve, or a tiny tear and I get the article of clothing on before she sees the offending flaw, and we're good. For the moment. She'll sometimes notice later in the day that, "Hey, what this hole doing here?!?" and then the pants are doomed to the rejected-so-L-gets-them pile. And the thing about K is that she'll remember. She has that kind of memory. Meaning the opposite kind of memory than I do. I can't remember from moment to moment which shirt belongs to which girl, but she'll pull a long-sleeved shirt out of her drawer that hasn't been seen in weeks and say "This not supposed to be here! This has a stain!!"

I consider it a small victory if I happen to notice something that she doesn't, and as a result the morning dressing goes relatively smoothly. I have an exciting life.

The worst-case morning scenario is to have her dressed and ready, and 2 minutes from stepping out the door to carpool with our neighbor, and then have her discover a problem. Because there is never a simple answer.

An unexpected complication generally means that the world comes crashing down around us, and there are at least four stages we'll need to work through before we can address the issue itself: wailing, meltdown, refusal of offered options, slow reduction of tears. Note: I wonder where she gets this inability to adjust to the unexpected?!?

This is all a long and probably boring lead up to my description of our "Monday Morning Coming Down" experience while M was away.

I'd already had K home all day Friday, even though I had work to do. M wouldn't be home until late Monday evening, so I was on tap for the morning handoff. And it had to happen. I couldn't take another day of working from home with company. I didn't have either the patience or the flexibility for it. I had to deliver some documentation for work.

My plan: Get both K and L to pick out their outfits on Sunday night. Seems relatively obvious, and M had probably figured this out two years ago. But I was feeling especially cocky when I suggested it and the girls hopped right into my trap. They found and laid out their outfits.

K has a tendency to literally lay her outfit out. I should have taken a picture, especially given what ultimately happened the next morning, but her procedure was:

  1. pick underwear and carefully spread them out on the floor.
  2. pick tights and spread these out over the underwear, as if she were dressing a paper doll
  3. pick a dress and spread this out over the rest, so only the legs of the tights are showing
  4. consider and reject the idea of including a sweater

L, on the other hand grabbed some things from her drawers and handed them to me. I put them in a ball on the top of my dresser.

We were set! I was getting this solo daddy thing wired (where "wired" = I haven't yet killed them either accidentally or on purpose)!! Look at me!!! NO HANDS!!!!

Fast-forward to the morning. L has joined me some time in the night. Not that she'd joined me without me knowing, because she's still in a crib and though she knows how to climb into it, she still hasn't yet figured out that it's 10 times easier to climb out. (Shhhh!! Don't say anything!!!) So apparently at some point in the middle of the night she woke up, called out to me, and I got out of bed and got her and brought her back into my bed, which, with M gone, is just barely large enough for me to share with L.

Anyway, as I was saying, L is tucked in against my left side, snoring softly, when the door opens shortly after 6am (note: due to the time change, I was on easy street. The girls were able to sleep in (so their bodies believed) and yet still be up early enough to not make the morning a rush)... the door opens, and K joins us, slipping in on my right.

So there we lie, the three of us, and K tosses and turns and makes noises with her mouth so that eventually she wakes up L, who sits up and asks loudly, "Where is K?"

I point to my right side. L looks over for several seconds, then lies back down with a thump. We remain this way for 4 to 9 seconds before K is ready to get up. L would like to stay in bed and snuggle, waking slowly, but she isn't going to be left behind, so we all get up and move downstairs for the main event of the morning, breakfast.

I'll skip right over that and more on to the pièce de résistance, the Getting the Girls Off to School/Daycare. The bit I'd been so worried about until I thought of the clothes-before-bed approach.

I herd them upstairs to get dressed. They do so, pulling on their assorted, previously decided upon outfits. And that is as good as it gets. In fact, I should pause here to bask in the glow a moment, because it doesn't last.

K sneezes. I grab a Kleenex and wipe her nose, but it's already too late. She's already midway into a fit because she's somehow managed to wipe her sleeve against her face after the sneeze. The dress has sneeze on it and she can't wear it.

Did I mention that we have about 5 minutes before the neighbor will be looking for us?

I tell K I'll wipe the sleeve. Nope, not good enough. I look at the sleeve and don't see a thing. I tell her it's not dirty, but that doesn't buy me anything. She is frantic, pulling the dress off and wailing that she doesn't have anything to wear, and L decides, in the spirit of collaboration, that her outfit isn't going to work for her either. For. No. Good. Reason.

K is at the point of the meltdown arc in which she isn't going to be able to find anything to wear. Ever. This means refusing outright, any offered option.

L is pouting too, mostly in support of her sister. "Now I never going to go to Miss Ronda's! Ever again!!"

Somehow I find something. Leggings that go with her Cupcake top, a set I've washed on Sunday because, with a rather mystical foresight, I figured "you never know!"

puts up with me getting her into this stuff, even while she is winding down the tantrum. L is still complaining, but I have another 30 minutes before I need to drive her to daycare, so I ignore her. I get K outside as the neighbor comes around the hedge, and I kiss her goodbye.

A few minutes later I've found L something to wear, and in less than an hour I'm sitting at my laptop, updating the documents I need to finish for work.

Later, I washed the dress.

I'll confess that I was tempted to just put it back on its hanger and just let K wear it as-is. But what would that have accomplished?

Would I want to say "K, I told you so! There wasn't any sneeze on that sleeve and you just wore it to school! Ha ha!!" Uh, no, I wouldn't. And knowing her, she would have asked me anyway, before putting it on: "Did you wash this Daddy?" and as I make it a practice to never lie to her, I would have had to say "No, but it doesn't need it...."

Instead, when I brought her home that afternoon I told her I'd washed the dress and it was ready for her to wear the next morning. And she said "thank you." And that almost made it worth it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

photo thursday: ... the water is wide...

a view from my tuesday commute:

It was a dark and stormy night...
(but at least it wasn't raining)

Is it just me, or does everyone see a picture of a lit-up sailing vessel on dark water and think of the Titanic? The contrast of the warmly lit windows and the dark clouds and darker water always reminds me of the classic painting of the Titanic as it sat disabled in the night.

But maybe it's just me....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

definitions: pallay / baskinet

it's another double-definition tuesday!

pallay - noun - a highly formalized classical dance, and anything related to this dance


L: Dada, peas help me with my pallay!
me: Your pallay?
L (holding out her hand-me-down black ballet slippers): Yeah Dada. Peas?

baskinet - noun - a container designed for holding a small, sleeping baby.


L: Dada?
me: Yeah L?
L: Where is my baby?
me: Uh... I don't know. Where did you have it?
L: Up stay-ers.
me: Is it still up there?
L: Yeah. It is Dada.
me: Why don't you go get it?
L: No, I can't.
me: You can't?
L (shaking her head): No, she's sleeping in her baskinet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

family: ... one way or another ...

The horrors of Halloween continue to haunt us a full week after the event. Trick or treating itself went fairly well. The weather was good, the neighbors friendly. The girls were happy with their bags of candy.

The trouble started the following night, when each girl got to pick one candy to have as dessert. L quickly picked something... maybe chocolate, I'm not sure. It's been driven from my memory by... K's decision making.

She took (literally) 20+ minutes to choose a candy from her bag. She agonized, considered, lined options up and touched each one. M got fed up and took L off to bathe and into jammies. I remained by my firstborn's side, determined to see this challenge through with her.

She wanted to know how many M&Ms were in the packet. How many Skittles. How much candy was in the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I laid the various candies out, ordered by relative amount (net weight). I offered opinions, made suggestions, started to get short tempered. I considered banning chocolate from the house until K's wedding day, and knew I would have to explain to her husband-to-be that she had this character flaw... the wedding would be called off, the guests sent home, the flower arrangements given to neighbors....

She finally decided (Skittles) but it was agony, and she wasn't happy about the decision until she had that sweet fruity goodness in her mouth.

By this time, L was upstairs being read to. I had to run a second bath for K, and we didn't linger in it either.

All of which is a preamble to this:

On Friday night, the first night M was away the weekend before the last one, the night immediately following the day during which I had to work from home with K next to me because she refused to go to school, I let the girls have dessert.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... well, I'm sure y'all have the same saying in wherever the hell it is you're from! The point being, I said "yes" to candy, knowing full-freakin'-well that this meant a good chance of 20-50 minutes of indecision on K's part.

Somehow I dodged a bullet and took just a small b-b.

L chose something right away, but then saw K fretting over the options and decided to fret as well. She's nothing if not amenable to participating.

Luckily, they both had Skittles in their bags, and K got to talking about how good Skittles are, and L thought maybe she would think Skittles are good too, so in the end (about 5 minutes of discussion), they made a collective decision:

The Comfort of Company
(K and L both opt for Skittles)

Not only is there the choosing, but there's the continual counting of pieces during the eating. At least that's the case for K. L tends to eat candy the way her grandfather ate popcorn, using the grab and stuff technique. (Apparently. I never did see M's dad eat popcorn, but she tells me L is the spitting image of him doing so.)

Counting the remaining pieces
Align Center(it's worth noting that K has always
been good at math. Small comfort...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

family: ... asked her for water...

Some water challenge:

"Cleaning" the table

One of the parenting skills I lack is the ability to gracefully shift gears and adjust on the fly. I don't seem to be much for spontaneity.

On Saturday the girls were at loose ends. I could have stuck them in front of the TV to watch some videos (and I did a bit later), but I hate to do that. I hate to do it from a philosophical point of view (I think the passive watching is not good for them) and from a practical point of view (if they watch now, what will I have in my bag of tricks for later?!?).

I happened to get a sponge out to wipe the table and K wanted to use it. Then L wanted to use it, so I managed to find a second one (whew! bullet dodged!!). And then they wanted the sponges "wetted" so I did that. And they wanted more water, and more water, and more and more and more.... It wasn't what I was anticipating nor what I would have ideally chosen (which would have been what, exactly? I don't know. Maybe sitting quietly with 2 books, reading to each other while their tinkling laughter filled the house with sisterly love?). But it was (relatively) benign and relatively clean. I kept refilling the sponges, even as the water started to drip onto the floor. I mopped up a little bit, but let them go at it.

Calling it water torture is a bit of an exaggeration (and lord knows I don't like to exaggerate when I write!), but it was "challenging" to my missing spontaneity genes.

Shortly after this picture was taken, L suddenly needed to pee and didn't quite make the toilet. Another mopping up took place. Along with a change of clothing. I think that's about the time we switched to the videos.

What doesn't show in this picture: it's freakin' pouring outside so maybe I should have just put them out on the back deck, and the girls are sitting on fabric cushions so it's a good thing the floor slopes in toward the center of the room.

Monday, November 8, 2010

family: ... facts are useless in emergencies ...

Right now we're collectively skewed...

cross-eyed and...
L, by me

... exhausted...
K, by L

... not to mention easily annoyed...
Me, by L

But just one more afternoon, one more evening, one more bath and bedtime and we're no longer a single parent household, no longer quite so out of sync and off kilter.

And if there's a "take away" from this weekend, it's this: Unplanned pregnancies are to be avoided.

Which is not to imply that either of the girls were unplanned or unwanted. But I've got to say, if it can be this... challenging... with kids who are entirely wanted, I can't imagine what it would be like with a child I was ambivalent about or worse.

Which leads me to this: I believe that anyone who opposes Planned Parenthood and sexual education and contraceptive instruction for teenagers should work on getting their head out of .... the clouds.

No, I don't want the girls to be having sex at 16. Probably not even at 18. Or 20. Or 28. 30. 45... Though I know I'd be crazy to imagine they wouldn't have considered it by 12 or so. I'd strongly prefer they don't have sex until they're ready for it, and when they choose to do so, I sure as hell want them to be using contraception. And protection.

That is all I've got tonight. Good night to all the ships at sea.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

family: ... add it up, add it up....

Shit I'd Be Writing if I Were Still Blogging

- written Saturday night
- posted Sunday night

Is it half-past Sunday yet?
(photo by L)

It's 8.59p on Saturday night, which means it's actually 10p but I've already set the clocks for the "fall back" of tomorrow morning. Which means for the second night in a row it's managed to jump from 7.30p (when I got the girls down to bed) to 10p without my understanding how, and it'll be 5a when they get up tomorrow (assuming that L isn't already in my bed, like she was last night starting at about 2a).

I'm solo-parenting this weekend, which extends from 8.30a yesterday through 11p Monday, so I'm more or less fucked. But enough of that.

The weekend scorecard to date:
  • 3 - Number of "Belle stories" K has forfeited for poor behavior: last night, tonight, and tomorrow night, all for spitting.

    Yesterday we almost made it. She only "spitted" at me immediately after bath, which was less than 20 minutes before the story would have been told.

    Today she spat at me twice, once this afternoon while I was talking to Mom for the first time in over a month (I had to cut short the call), and once later in the afternoon. In both cases she seemed unrepentant.

  • 3 - Number of L's clothing changes due to accidents. The first time was this morning, seconds after she announced to me that she had to pee, but hours after we'd changed her from her sleeping diaper into underwear.

    Somehow both K and L manage to go almost the entire morning before either needed to pee, and then seconds after L went into the bathroom, she called out "Dada, I'm peeing!" I thought she meant on the toilet, but she meant standing in the middle of the room with her pants 1/2 way down, watching the yellow tide spread around her feet. I got there in time to throw the bathmat down and staunch the flood. Then it was a new set of clothes, and on to other things. The second change came partway through her nap, when I heard something odd on the monitor. I found L standing in her crib saying "Dada, my pants are wet!" This was the second time in 3 days that there's been a nap accident. Luckily this time all I had to wash were her pants, sheet and mattress pad. The third time almost doesn't count. She was sitting on the toilet and peeing, but sitting too close to the edge, so she peed into her pants. These things happen. Happily, she seems not at all bothered by them, and all in all, her transition to underwear has been remarkably smooth.

  • 1 - Number of Black Beauty showings K has lost the privilege of seeing.

    I'd been planning on doing a Netflix download for her, a treat we could all snuggle together and watch on my laptop in bed, but she lost that when she continued to spit after losing a Belle story for tomorrow night. Or was it when she hauled off and clocked L with a horse? Or when she smeared the window with cream cheese by pushing her messing mouth up to the glass? Or…? Honestly, I've lost count and lost track of all the times and ways that she acted up this afternoon.

  • 1 - Number of days of school K has skipped.
  • 1 - Number of those days I was supposed to work at home.
  • 1.5 - Number of hours during that day I managed to get any work done.*
    *these courtesy of the Curious George dvd I popped in and left running.

    The plan yesterday (was it really only yesterday? uh...shit!?!) was to drop K at school, then M at the airport at 8.30, then back to West Seattle to drop L at daycare. I'd have the day until 3p to work at home. But we didn't get out of the house until almost 8.25a due to K's stalling, and when we left it was with her in a diaper, so school wasn't an option, even if she hadn't been refusing. Dropping L off turned ugly too, once she realized that her sister was skipping school.

  • 0 - number of desserts they got to eat tonight. Not for any specific reason, but rather because I felt things were already so iffy in so many different ways, that I wasn't willing to add any chocolate to the mix.

    On the other hand, they both ate skittles last night, after an agonizing period of indecision. L would have dived in and picked some kind of candy, but she saw K waffling and then they got into a discussion of what was good and what they had in their respective candy bags and eventually they both went with the Skittles, much to my relief. (K took literally 20+ minutes to decide on Skittles the night after Halloween (which, if you're not counting, would be Nov. 1. I just wasn't up for another delay like that.)

  • 1-15 - the approximate range of inches of rain that have fallen since this morning. It's soggy out there, and we didn't leave the house, which was a bad thing in so many different ways and for so many different reasons. I'm tempted to bundle them both up into raincoats and make them go out in it tomorrow.

  • 1 - number of double-timeouts K has had. Shortly after losing Belle and Black Beauty this afternoon, I think this one was for kicking a hard plastic high heel shoe (not one of my purchases!) at L, missing, and having the shoe spin up and into the kitchen sink, where it clattered among the many dishes I hadn't had a chance to wash. Her usual M.O. is to yell "Is it over?" loudly and repeatedly throughout the course of her timeout. I told her I was going to set the timer and when it went off her timeout would be done. Until then I did. Not. Want. To. Hear. A. Word.

    And I didn't.

  • 1 - number of CostCo trips in planning. Not my idea of fun, but it's become a necessity because we are apparently out of Kleenex and Maple Syrup, both necessities during a weekend like this one.

  • 0 - number of Cup Cake Royale cupcakes the girls have had. M suggested treating them one day, and it seemed like a good idea. Until K didn't go to school yesterday.

  • 2 - number of days before M gets home. She'll arrive very late Monday, so I've got both tomorrow and Monday evening to deal with. Not to mention the afternoons. And mornings.
And on the plus side:
  • 1 - number of dogs snoring next to my bed.

  • 2 - number of girls sleeping as the rain lashes the roof.

  • 3 - number of times the girls (K especially) insisted on watching the online video of Zenyatta come from way waaaaay behind to almost win the Breeders Cup.

    I think the girls kept hoping that if we watched again she might actually win it. Seems reasonable to me.

Addendum, Sunday evening:

Today went remarkably well, especially compared to yesterday. Though most things, compared to yesterday, would appear positive. K and I managed to make it through the day without any lost privileges. She and L and I snuggled and watched Black Beauty (more on this later, but can you say 3 men killed on-screen?). The sun came out. And we were blessed with a short visit from my sister and our nephew. Everyone is asleep now. And it's freaking not raining!!!

Good night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

family/paddling/blog: ... the bedroom walls were closing in...

Holiday. Not a bad idea. I need one.

I know, because lately I've found it difficult to find much humor in the things I'm writing about. And that (finding the humor) is a big reason for doing this.

So, I've decided to take a break, beginning immediately.

I'm not sure when I'll be back here. It may be in a week, but it might be in a year. I do intend to return, but at the moment things just aren't lined up well for me to continue writing in the ways I most enjoy writing. And there are more important things to focus on than this. Like:

L, K and Ainsley

Thanks for reading....

Monday, November 1, 2010

family: ... have you got everything?

it's another monochrome monday:

My Commute
(Or, "What I'd look like if I wore nice pants and had a classy overcoat and wasn't sitting in the back of the boat taking pictures of people who aren't me.")

And now, in honor of the non-monochromatic weather we had this weekend, including yesterday (and in defiance of this morning's weather), a bit of Friday commute color:

Afternoon Cityscape
(Or, "What my commute did look like on Friday afternoon." )

A gift of Friday multi-chrome in late October in Seattle! And one more, because this morning the puddles are 2 inches deep out there....

Westward ho!
(photography rule: never point your camera into the sun)
(general rule: never never obey rules blindly)