Thursday, June 30, 2011

... these pants are made for....?!?


What happens when dad leaves his pants lying around....


It strikes me that they're having just a little too much fun.

Monday, June 27, 2011

... you can't hide those.... cryin' eyes...

Note: This is a late post slightly about Father's Day, and mostly about The Princess and the Frog. I'm late, but better than than nothing, I always say....

(photo by K)

Father's Day, was notable for several reasons:
  1. I got up at 5.20a to go paddling.
  2. When I got up, I found a fresh bag of Stumptown coffee waiting for me next to the espresso maker! (Stumptown is our new go-to coffee. West Seattle needs a Stumptown!!)
  3. And a box of salted caramels!!
  4. I went for a solo paddle off Alki, and though it wasn't entirely satisfying (too much working to stay in the canoe, and not enough working for exercise), it was good. Nice to be on the water at 7.10a on a quiet Sunday, nice to be paddling in salt water, nice to know that my family was safely at home not 10 minutes away.
Other planned or semi-planned events didn't come off quite so smoothly, in large part due to both the girls not feeling well. K has had a cold, which she's now nearly over, but L was hit hard and was coughing like she was tubercular. We had her checked for pneumonia and so far she doesn't have it, but we know 3 other children who do, and we were told to keep an eye on her. She's got a fever too.

So, we didn't do our traditional coffee-at-C&P. It's something we've done every year since K was born. They even comp me my coffee more often than not. But I've got a rain-check from M. And we didn't go anywhere besides to the grocery, and to pickup take out.

K, looking growed up

Given that we were mostly laid low on Sunday, one of the treats the girls and I had was to snuggle together in our bed and watch The Princess and the Frog on my laptop.

I could say a lot about the movie, some of which I found very enjoyable, some of which was quite clever, and some of which struck me as especially stereotyped ("Ray" the firefly, as dentally-challenged Cajun, surely that raised some protests?). But the most significant thing for this particular post has to do with how K reacted.

If you've read older posts, you may remember that we've got a bad history with movies, the girls and me. We've tried several different "children's movies" that were too scary. This includes Little Red Riding Hood and Up. Possibly even the 3 Little Pigs (before K was in the musical version and got a better handle on what goes down - spoiler alert: in most of the versions these days, the wolf is chased away "and never comes back").

So I had my doubts.

Which were quickly realized when the two frogs (go watch the movie if you're already lost) are attacked by 'gators in the swamp. Both girls buried their faces in my shirt until I told them it was safe to look. And then, of course, another gator shows up to make a liar out of me. He ends up being a good, friendly gator, a misunderstood gator, but he's scary too, at least at first.

Somehow we got past this and moved onto several different voodoo/spirit scenes that were also scary (to K) and/or confusing (to K&L). I just said "they're like ghosts" and "he's a bad guy, but don't worry" and for some reason they were willing to stick with it. Maybe because there was the promise of a princess.

But what really undid K was when Ray (the firefly) dies. He gets stepped on by the bad voodoo guy, and slowly dies. Then there's a touching scene where everyone takes him back to the swamp and gives him a send-off on a leaf. His whole family is there, along with various other swamp critters, and they may even have a party afterwards. And his body floats off down the stream. And then, the mist clears, and high up in the sky, next to the evening star (which, I should add, Ray always believed was Angeline, the most beautiful firefly in the world and with whom he was in love), is a new star. Ray has joined Angeline! It's a touching moment. Apparently.

Because as we are watching, and a layer of dampness briefly crosses my eyeballs, I realize K is sobbing into my shirt, "Why did he die?" and "Where is he?" and "I don't want him to die" mumbled through her tears.

(L: He died becauth that mean guy thepped on him!)

I can't explain why I found this so touching, but I put my arms around K and held her and told her that he was now with Angeline. Which didn't really help because she didn't really get that part, and it didn't explain anything, but it was all I had for her. And eventually she was distracted again by the prince and the waitress (like I said, go watch the movie) open their restaurant and live happily ever after with the good gator playing saxophone in the jazz band at the restaurant....

Cryin' eyes
(a "selves-portrait," 6/19/2011)

Later, we went outside where M was gardening, K with her face still glistening, me with my shirt snot-damp, and she told her mama what had happened. M asked her about it and K said it was sad. But I think both she and L enjoyed the movie. I think.

It struck me that, plot-wise, it's pretty damn complicated for preschoolers. It's rated G, which I've learned doesn't mean squat. You can't count on anything these days! But it's G and there's no .... violence? nope, there's violence, sex? no sex, drugs? nope, no drugs, evil spirits? uh, there are evil sprits.... And there's death.

Which something of a recurring theme here lately. So, speaking of which, here's one more picture of our own extinguished "Ray" (though no one stepped on her). She's the one charging the photographer at the lower left:

"Chaos on the beach"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

definitions (special woosie wed. edition): ammonia / UPS

It's been a long time, but double-definition tuesday is back. Sure, it's wednesday now, unless you're reading this next week, in which case it might be tuesday, or, if you're behind us on the international date line, maybe this was on time.

In any case, we've been ill, and, to use a phrase that is in vogue both at work and at home right now:

You Git What You Git and You Don't Throw a Fit!


ammonia - noun, an illness that is apparently pretty bad, given that every kid in the proximity seems to be coming down with it.

me (walking into the house): Hello the house! How is everyone?
K (running into the living room): L has a temperature. If she's not careful she's going to get sick.
me: Sounds like she's already sick.
K (confused look)
me: If she has a temperature she's already got something.
K (all understanding now): Oh, yeah. But if she's not careful, she might get ammonia.
me: Really?
K (nodding): Yeah, Morgan has it and .... someone else too.
me: Ammonia? Wow. That sounds serious.
K (more nodding): Yeah. Read me a book Daddy!

UPS - noun, a device used as decoration, like a bracelet. Also sometimes for measuring distance/speed/etc.

L (holding up her arm with my Garmin on it): Dada! Dada!! Look. (big grin)
me: Hey. Where'd you find that?
L (grinning, then coughing): In your bag Dada! I found it in your paddling bag!!
me: Oh. I'm going to need that tonight, when I go paddling.
L: I know (more coughing - is it ammonia?). I just needed to wear it for a while.
me: You needed to?
L: Yeah. Here (taking it off her wrist). Read me a book Dada!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

... our weekend in a picture...

... more or less:

June 19, 2011

It seems that all the kids around us have colds and/or pneumonia ("ammonia" to K).

So far, we're only as far at the colds, but they've hit hard, and now L has a cough that won't quit, so tomorrow I'm taking home duty and will be driving the shuttle to the clinic and back.

I actually had a very nice father's day (though I don't tend to go in for these kinds of holidays), about which I'll write more when I'm more rested. For now, I'll just say that it started with some stumptown coffee and a solo paddle. And I'm heading to bed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

... good morning, good morning....

Monday morning it was my turn to get the girls ready for daycare and drop them off. Full disclosure: I rarely have to do this. I rarely have to pick them up either. M takes the brunt of the impact on this front, which I very aware of and alternately feel guilty about and grateful for.

Sometime in May

But Monday M went in early, so I stepped in.

Which means I got up early to try and get ready before they were in the way. And once they woke up I spent a lot of time trying to get them to eat, trying to convince them to get dressed, telling them that they CANNOT play with horses/baby dolls/books because we need to get out the door by 8.15a. All while getting ready myself.

How this goes depends on how well everyone slept, what they're feeling like, what they've got that might distract them. This morning there were horses (as usual) and oatmeal (which they sometimes eat and sometimes reject) and toast and showers and....

K didn't want to eat. L ate some oatmeal. I made a piece of toast ("Do either of you want some toast? K? L?" "I'm Black Beauty, Dada!!" "Toast! Do you want toast Black Beauty?" "You're P.J.!!"). I started to eat my toast. L wanted toast. I made her a piece of toast ("K, do you want some toast? K?! K!?!!" "No! I said no!!"). I gave L her piece of toast and started eating the second piece I'd put in, figuring K would want some. K decided she wanted some. ("You're kidding, right?" "No, I'm hungry.") I made another piece of toast ("L, do you want more toast?" "No Dada, I'm Black Beauty!" "Black Beauty, do you want more toast? More oat-toast? More horse-toast?" "Um.... no thank you!") and gave it to K who ate about 1/2 of it.

I decided I needed to take my shower, whether or not they'd eaten/dressed/were ready to go. So I went upstairs and undressed and got in and was shampooing up and K appeared, still in her jammies.

K: Can I get in Daddy?
me: Huh?
K: Can I get into the shower?
me (are you kidding me?!?): Uh, no K.
K: Why not?
me (yeah, why not?): Ok, sure. (opening the door for her to come in).

She came in and stood in her pajamas in the spray of the shower.

L caught wind of what was going on and she joined us. What's another soggy girl when you've already got one?

So there we were, me trying to actually wash, K&L trying to avoid doing all the things they ought to have been doing. And I turned off the water when I was done, and L got cold and we stripped her and dried her and I sent her to pick out some clothes. K next. And then I was able to dry and get dressed myself.

And you know what, it was the twist they needed to go ahead and get dressed.

It didn't make any sense, but it was somehow the right thing to do. I ended up with some soggy jammies, but I also ended up with 2 dressed-and-ready-to-go girls. And I managed to drop them off and I made the 9.15a water taxi.

Daddy Lesson: Flexibility is king. You have to be willing to shower outside the box!

Friday, June 10, 2011

... we all scream ...

... for milk shakes!!!

2006, 2 days before K was born

It's mighty quiet around the house these days, which, if you'd been anywhere near the house recently, you might find hard to believe. But the chaos of the girls isn't quite the same when not overlaid with the chaos of the beast. It's hard to not hear her barking at the mail... or the neighbors... or us.....

But one of the things about being parents of young children is, you get limited time to wallow. Which probably isn't a bad thing. So life continues on. Specifically it goes on at Luna Park Cafe, West Seattle:

Choices choices choices....

M and I had a lunch date with K, the center piece of which was her first-ever milk shake (chocolate):

First Taste - Chocolate Milk Shake

All this to celebrate K completing the 2nd year of preschool. Next year she's officially a kindergartener!

And one last picture:
This one of me
(taken by K)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

... school's in ...

or, Of Dogs and Dying in Our Family

K and Lucy, Sept. 2007

Having children is a continual education. Which is the way I'd want it. When I imagine reaching a point where I have no interest in learning, it seems close to death. I hope my girls keep teaching me things. Which is a less-than-smooth introduction to today's topic: Death.

Death is one of those biggie topics.

It's hard for adults to handle, so it's no surprise that it would be difficult for children. Over the last 24 hours it's been interesting to help the girls try to take in the fact that Lucy is gone.

My biggest problem is not knowing what the girls are capable of comprehending, what they can take in and make (some sort of) sense of, and what just flows on past. Which in turn makes it a challenge to be understanding/supportive.

I'm fairly certain that Lucy's dying is impacting K. She was a mess yesterday, though not in any way that was easy to directly link to Lucy not being around. M and I suspect she's processing the challenging fact that part of her (seemingly unchanging) world has now permanently shifted. Kids imagine that things as they are, are things as they've always been. 3 years seems like forever, and their limited experience tells them that Mommy and Daddy have always lived right here in this house, and have always been married.... Even with the details of parents as children themselves, there's this sense that the world is fixed.

When M asked K how she was feeling, she said that every time she sees someone with a dog she gets embarrassed. M asked if she really meant embarrassed, and K wanted to know what embarrassed meant. When M included the notion that it can mean feeling shy about something, K latched onto that, saying "Well, I'm shy, so that works." I'm thinking she meant something slightly different.

L, on the other hand, seems to be experimenting with this notion of death, trying it on, turning it over to see what it looks like, but in a way that suggests it hasn't really sunk in. And she's only 3, after all, so that's probably as it should be. Yesterday morning when we told the girls that Lucy had died the night before, they had a few questions, and then when we were distributing vitamins, L said "This is my medicine. Pretend this is my medicine and I need to take it so I don't die." Ok.

K had lots of questions yesterday afternoon, questions about what Lucy looked like, what happened to her afterward, where her body went, etc. This is where my lack of understanding of child psychology probably does her a disservice. I tend to answer factually, without going into too much detail. Is this what she wants/needs? Is it appropriate? I don't know. But luckily children are pretty resilient. Hopefully I won't screw them up too much!

May, 2005.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This evening I'm remembering Lucy, the "beast" in the title of this blog.

March, 2005

She was with us for 9 and 1/2 years, and the bedroom was awfully quiet last night without her snoring and shifting. We'll miss her.

Monday, June 6, 2011

.... we are riding, on an outrigger...

(one of the many "catch up" posts I ought to be posting. not sure how many will actually make it up here, but here's one, at least.)

A couple of weeks ago, K paddled in her first outrigger race.

I'll pause a moment to let that sink in, because obviously everyone reading this blog understands the monumental significance of that sentence.


This accomplishment was, as you may well imagine, fraught with... all kine stress and thrill and excitement.

I've been talking up paddling since shortly after I started, and the girls, being nice, pre-teen children, have taken the bait and talk excitedly about it themselves. Not that this means they understand anything at all about what is involved. But at least I get the lip service. For now.

A couple fellow paddlers with young children decided this year to make an effort to have a keiki (children) team for at least one of our sprint regattas. We tossed our hate into the ring too. K said she wanted to paddle. L would have loved to paddle as well, but at 3yo, she's a bit under the cutoff of 5yo.

There's something extra special about watching little kids paddling these 400 pound canoes. there are 5 children, and 1 adult (who steers), and depending on the experience and amount of practice and size of the teams, the steersman/woman does much of the real work. The races are 500 yards (meters?) and involve a turn around a buoy after 250. And turning an outrigger is very difficult if you don't have much speed going into the turn. And these canoes frequently don't have much speed.

But we were going to do it, and so, a week before the race, it was time for a practice. K was excited all week long, but on Saturday morning she collapsed in tears. She didn't want to paddle. She hated paddling. She was never, ever, going to paddle in her life ever again.

This was, to say the least, a bit inconvenient, given that 4 other kids and our steerswoman were going to be expecting her at the beach. M and I tried to talk to her, tried to explain that when you commit to something, you need to follow through, especially when there are others counting on you. She wasn't buying it.

So I told L that she could paddle, and we started to get her dressed for the rigorous 15 minute workout. I wasn't sure what would happen, given that she was technically too young to race, but we'd cross that body of water when we came to it. L was enthusiastic and hurried to dress in time for me to get her to the practice.

Which spurred K to change her mind. Which caused some complicated feelings on my part, given that I'd told L she could paddle instead. We ended up going, as a family to the practice, and while K sat in the official boat, L come with M and me and a couple other parents in a second canoe, paddling alongside the one which was "working out" (and I use that term loosely).

All of which is intro to these:

Getting ready to shove off.
I'm about to give K (who is sitting in seat 5,
immediately ahead of our steerswoman-extraordinaire)
the somewhat non-traditional pre-race kiss.

At the start! K is the smallest of the small,
on the far right in the closest canoe.

And under way, though you wouldn't necessarily know this,
given the amount of bow wave each canoe has....

And it was good.

Most importantly, the children all had a blast. K was nervous, but she showed up and get into the canoe and paddled like she knew how. We'd practiced the day before, sitting on stools in the living room, holding onto kitchen serving spoons, practiced changing from side to side, practiced keeping in time with the paddle ahead, practiced the motions just so everyone would be more comfortable with it.

Our canoe finished dead last, but that didn't matter. All the paddlers enjoyed themselves, and almost as important, L understood that she wasn't going to get to go this time, and there was no real fuss about it (I hadn't been sure how that would go).

K says she wants to do it again, and L wants to try as soon as she is old enough. All in all, a success at Green Lake!

* here's the thing about K and her pre-practice meltdown. I can understand where that comes from. She's like me, unfortunately, and doesn't like to do things unless she knows she knows how to do them. Which is a hell of a roadblock to throw into your path. She was nervous, scared, and felt she didn't know how to paddle so didn't want to make any mistakes. I can identify, and commiserate.

Luckily, our steerswoman completely understood (she's a mother, after all, and a very empathetic person). The practice was low-key and mostly just a familiarization of being in the canoe. They did things like look at the Space Needle, and paddle over toward a family of Canadian geese that made the mistake of crossing paths with a canoe full of kids. In short, the focus was on having a positive experience, and that carried over to the race itself, where it was about the experience rather than winning/losing.