Sunday, September 30, 2012

... do do do, looking out my...

... side window.

It's another Twisted Sister Sunday, this the "can you see what I see?" edition:

K pointing something important out to L
(water taxi ride)

I don't know what they share during moments like this...

but it's something they do spontaneously, 
and I never get tired of watching them like this

Two weeks ago M dropped the girls off at work so I could take them home while she went on to an event meeting in the evening. That's the way our days sometimes go. And I love to ride home with the girls on the water taxi.

Often they sit and eat candy I bring from the work candy jar. This time, after they'd eaten their candy, they went to look out the window. And I snapped pictures.

Later, on the Seacrest side, we hung out on the beach for over an hour while watching two women and 6 children (some K's age) going out for a paddle board ride. K and L were fascinated but K especially so, and when she asked me if we might be able to do that sometime, I decided I'd pay for her college education!

She asked, as they were coming back to the beach, if I thought anyone had fallen in. I told her that unless they had, they weren't really trying. Right then one of the little boys did fall in, and he scrambled right back out. I launched into some parentally-typical lecture about how the only way you learn is by pushing the limits. K was distracted by the sight of the group coming in, and luckily didn't pay me too much mind.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

definitions: limbo / Upalup

It's another double-definition Twosday, not to be confused with a Tequila Monday. And today we bring you a definition from each of the monkeys:

limbo - noun, a large, overly long vehicle made for groups of people who want to go out in public and behave poorly.

(L and I are driving to Bakery Nouveau and we pass by a very large RV)

L: Daddy, what is that?
me: It's a large... it's a camper, a big camper.
L: Does it drive?
me: Yeah, people drive it places and camp in it.
L: Oh yeah, like a... a... limbo.
me: A limbo?
L: Yeah, it's long and ...
me (suddenly getting it): Right, like a limbo....

Upalup - proper noun, a town in western Washington that hosts the annual fair. See also, "Doin' the Upalup"

(I'm coming in the door from work and the girls come thundering out of the kitchen to greet me - is there anything better than this?!?)

me: Hey monkeys! How was your day?
K: Daddy! Daddy! I get to go to the fair!!
me: You do?
K (obviously quite proud): Yeah! My whole class is going!!
L (somewhat sadly): Yeah, her whole class.... Daddy!?! I don't get to go! (pouting now) I want to go to the fair too!
K: You get to go to the salmon hatchery.
L: I don't WANT to go to the salmon hatchery!!!
K (done with her attempts to cheer her sister): Well, I'm going to the U-pal-up fair!
L (collapsing on the floor in tears): I want to go to the fair! I want cotton candy!!
M (from the kitchen): Welcome home!

afterward: L got so worked up about not getting to go to the fair that on Thursday night she cried herself into a mess and made M promise to get her some cotton candy and bring it home. She went so far as to make M get out of bed and go write a note to herself, reminding her of this.

aftermath: On Friday, M drove the girls to school and discovered that one of the children she was supposed to drive wasn't there, so L got to go along. And get her own cotton candy. Not to mention ride on ponies, a tilt-a-whirl, and some big swings.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

... put your hand in the hand...

it's Twisted Sister Sunday(tm) again, and today we ask:

What's better than the curved comfort and wide arms of an Adirondack chair? 


An Adirondack chair that includes the arms of your sister 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

... I want to tell you...

or, there are moments that make up for the moments....

Last week when I got home from work one afternoon, our dear neighbor (KD) from across the street, a woman who has been surrogate grandmother to both the girls, was on the porch talking with M. They were looking out at the street and I could hear the girls inside, watching a video. I said hello and realized they were talking about some particular challenge we'd had that morning.

Then I told her that I thought it was the stress of starting school again, but for whatever reason, K had been a basket case this week.

KD: Well, I have to tell you, last weekend the kids were over in our yard and K was standing looking down at our little corner of the yard where I've got the garden shed, and she said, she wasn't even looking in my direction, but she said "I should probably thank you."

KD: And I asked her, "What for?" And she said, waving her hands, "This. It's all like a little house." Then she looked up at the birdhouse I have hanging in the fir and I told her "Your mama gave that to me." K said "I know, she got it in Florida." And she added, "It's not very colorful." I said, "Yes, that's why I like it." And she looked at me and said "Well, that's what really matters."

I think I just about cried at that point.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

... daddy, can you hear me...

or, Old People Also Don't Hear Very Well, a lesson in listening.

"stinky and me" by K
(photo by L)

Last week I was snuggled in bed with K, reading the 11th (or was it the 12th?) book in the Boxcar Children series. And in the midst of this tender father-daughter tableau....

K: Daddy, you have stinky breath.
me (apparently looking taken aback): I do?
K: Yeah. But that's ok. I know old people have stinky breath.
me:, Chapter 7....

It was, possibly, one of those "charming" moments when children are honest to a fault, and probably touching on some basic truths we don't want to hear. On the other hand, in my somewhat lame defense, I'd eaten takeout for lunch and *knew* my breath was stinky. Moreso than usual. Usual being "not stinky at all." About the whole "old people" thing... well... like I said, "basic truths" and all that.

I'd gotten enough over the sting of this by Saturday, when I mentioned to the canoe full of paddlers I was with that my daughter thinks my breath is stinky and told them all the story, which they thought satisfyingly hysterical. Because of course I'm NOT old. And don't have stinky breath.

Then, later that day or the next, while we were all in the kitchen getting ready for dinner, I told M about how I'd at least gotten a laugh out of it...

K (looking at me): What?
M&me (exchange glances): Uh
me: I was telling your mom about how I'd told the paddlers what you'd said about my breath.
K: What?
me: You said it was stinky. Remember?
K (nodding, it's all cleared up now): Oh yeah. Right.
me: You said "old people have stinky breath."
K: (mumble mumble) old people (mumble mumble)
me (glancing at M): Right, old people.
K (shaking her head now): No! ALL people.
me (my turn to look at her!): What?
K: "All people." I said "all people have stinky breath sometimes."
me: Oh....heh...

Monday, September 17, 2012

... i can't hear you....

Yesterday morning, after what seems like days and days of L not listening to us, not paying attention, doing things we explicitly tell her NOT to do, M sat down and had a talk with her. There was a "discussion" (and I use that term loosely) of what we might do to tackle this problem. Suggestions from M included a Star Chart to mark when L had done a good job listening, the upshot being that once she'd earned 5 stars she might get a treat. (That seemed to be a good one, but later in the day L decided she didn't want to risk NOT getting a treat.)

Can't see the mermaids for the foam

M: What are we going to do? You're not listening. How can I get you to pay attention to what we're saying?
L: I'm hungry!
M: What about... we need a phrase, something to let you know that you're drifting off and need to be paying attention.
L: Can I have a plum?!
M: Like....
K: What?
M: A word, some indicator that your sister is going astray.
K: A tray?
L: I said, I want a plum!!
M: Right. Did you hear me L?
M: I need to be able to tell you to listen, to pay attention.
K (as though it's obvious): You could tell her.
M: Yeah, that seems to be working out well. (thinking) A phrase, like.... jellybean sandwich.
K: Jellybean sandwich?!? (laughs)
M: Right. When I say 'jellybean sandwich' it means you need to pay attention. OK? Did you get that L?
L (smiling): Can I have a plum.
M (glancing over in my direction): Uh...
me (shrugging)


a few hours later, when L has grabbed a pear in spite of being told directly that she may not have one, that she's just wasted a banana she did not eat, and the pears are not ripe.

M: Jellybean Sandwich!!
L (starting to bite into the pear): What? What is jellybean sandwich?!
K: What we talked about L!
L: What? Jellybean?!?
K (laughing): That means you're supposed to listen to her. You're not listening to her!
L: I want a jellybean sandwich!!
M (muttering, with a glance in my direction): I'm going to take a bath.

The thing I worry about, besides simply surviving this stage, is what if it isn't just a stage? What if she's simply one of those people who refuses to listen, who pushes against the limitations and insists on forcing the issue while smiling in your face?

And worse, what if we're making the matter worse in some way by doing (or not doing) something that we should (or shouldn't)?!?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

...born to be wild...

Sister Sunday, biker edition, or,

How I had a great photo of the girls planned for Sunday morning, but events conspired to make me late posting it, and then life conspired to create events that needed writing about, but I was too shellshocked to do so.

"not having fun" at Jack Block Park

(it seemed like they were actually having fun)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

... i know what i know....

... or, just one more summer camp field trip example of how not knowing the answer can impact excitement...

I came home from work one evening last month and the girls ran up to me, full of excitement.

K:  Guess what we saw?!? RAINbow sails on sailboats. They were on Lake Union!!
L:  Yeah, rainbow sails!!!
me: Really? How was it?
K: It was crowded.
L: Yeah, it was crowded!!
me: Where did you see this?
K (still full of the excitement of rainbow sails): From the Space Needle!
L (as if it should be obvious): Yeah, the Space Needle!!
me: Wait, you went up the Space Needle?
K&L (nodding): Yeah.
me: That's cool.
K: Yeah, we stopped at ... some house... to eat and change into bathing suits to play in the wading pool
M: At the Center House?
K: Yeah!
me: What wading pool did you go to?
K: Uh (looking confused, backed into a corner)... I don't know!
me: That's OK. I was just curious.
K: (grumpy look due to not being able to answer my question)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

too cool to be ...

.... forgotten?

It's another edition of celebrity double tuesday:

L, having her juice at our early dinner on Sunday

someone, having her drink on the wall next to our booth 
at our early dinner on Sunday

Note: The dinner was had at roughly 3pm in White Center, at a recommended burger place after which M started feeling pretty lousy and continued to feel so through the night. Oh yeah, and it was our celebration of her birthday! Happy day!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

... monday morning you sure look...

... fine?

Disclaimer/note: I have/had all sorts of plans/ideas/intentions for writing up a summary of the last few days, but so far I've failed to come up with anything that anyone will be interested in reading, so I'm punting on that for now and just giving you a recap of the morning.

Monday Monday... and M has an 8.30a meeting, which means I'm dropping the girls off. Which means that if I'm a bit too late, I miss the 9.15a water taxi run, and the next one isn't until 10.30, which puts me to work sometime after 11a. And given that I already worked a funky schedule last week (see the posts I haven't completed nor posted for more information), I can't afford any more short days.

monday morning face
(actually taken on sunday morning)

So I'm up at 5am, M at shortly after 6, and we're making lunches and planning strategies and and and.... until it's nearly 7 and I say that I'm going to grind coffee now, because the girls should be getting up anyway, and M agrees. And I reach into the drawer while simultaneously recalling that the last time I ground coffee (Sunday morning - another stellar experience about which you should read yet another of my unfinished and unposted tales) I realized that we would need to stop and get more that same day (aka "Sunday," alias, YESTERDAY!).

Slowly, I lift up the jar and shake it sadly.
me: Uh... we're short on beans.
M (who has not been grinding, so has no blame in this): Oh....
me: I can squeeze out 2 cups. I'll make you one.
M: No, you can have them.
me (magnanimously): Nope, I'm making you one. It was your birthday on Saturday and you spent the day cleaning the house and doing chores, so.... (see that other post I never wrote).

And so we each have a single double shot of espresso, where on most normal mornings we would each have 3. In a fit of generosity, I also make M a mug of tea to go, while making myself one.

Later, after she's driven off, only to call to say that the emergency brake light won't go off, and she comes back and I do what I can to fix it (pulling the lever and letting it go - pretty much exactly what she'd done already), and we determine that the brake is *probably* not still on, even though the light is bright red on the dashboard, I try to get the girls to eat some breakfast.

K has some "Go Lean" with Silk. L doesn't want anything. K has some "Go Lean" with chocolate milk. L has some with regular milk (and when I say "some" I mean a spoonful or two). K also has some applesauce.

And at this point I'm 20 minutes away from my target blastoff, a time carefully calculated to allow me time to get to the water taxi dock in time to catch the 9.15 boat. K seems to have eaten enough to get by. L seems to have eaten enough to feed a family of gnats for maybe 2 minutes, after which they'd all collapse with hunger. But I'm not going to cave and give them either a breakfast bar or a cookie (I'm saving the cookies as incentive to get them into the van). So I tell them I'm heading up to take my shower and they should come and get dressed when they're finished eating, because if we can get out of here by 7.50a they'll get to have a cookie in the car. And I leave them there in the kitchen and go start my shower.

A bit later (longer than I would have hoped) I hear the thunder of little feet coming up the stairs. And the girls appear, both in their nightgowns, with L carrying her annoying kitty-shaped keyboard that has functioning keys but which she prefers to use to play canned (and horrendous) songs about kitties. She settles on the bedroom floor and starts to "play" while her sister dances in front of the mirror.

I call out to them that they'll need to be dressed and ready when I get out.

They don't seem to hear me.

I call out that I'm nearly done shaving.

L starts singing an ad hoc song about "daddy shaving in the shower." Her sister keeps dancing in front of the mirror. (Note: Possible profession - exotic dancer? Only acceptable if she does it in a flannel nightgown like she currently is!)

I call out that if I'm ready to go before they are, they don't get cookies in the car.

L tosses her keyboard aside while K quickly pulls her nightgown off.

And here's where I'm conscious of just how tenuous this whole morning is. As long as I can keep the mood light, without any obvious stress, everyone keeps their heads above water.

Example: L struggles with her nightgown and can't get it off over her head. I quickly dry off, call out that I'll help her, and we get it off together. If you blink and show any annoyance or stress, it all collapses in a pool of sobbing.

Example: L decides, once we're downstairs and getting shoes on, that she doesn't like her shirt. I say that's fine, we'll find another one, and she heads upstairs to get one (after we take the other one off together). K says "why does L always decide to change her shirt?" (here's an opportunity to sigh and say "I don't know!") I poke her in the belly and say "You used to do the exact same thing!" with a smile before racing upstairs to help L who's now yelling that she doesn't have any long sleeved shirts.

I pull out a couple and she decides on one and we're off and running again. Until we get downstairs where K is standing with her shoes on, and L sits down and says "Oh, these socks aren't going to work!" and I say, "Ok, let's go find another pair," while studiously avoiding the sound of eye rolling coming from the general direction of my other daughter.

Almost miraculously, we find another pair of socks (thank you laundry lady!) and then we're out the door and into the van where:
  1. there are bottles of wine crowding L's foot space
  2. the seat belts in the car seats are too tight
  3. I've forgotten the cookies and have to run back inside
We've already decided NOT to take coats, even though it's raining now for the first time in 48 days (literally - we were something like 2 hours or 2 days from setting a new record, but I'm getting off track here....) because as K explained it to me, "You see Dad, if I have a coat I don't have room for anything else." Oh, ok, you've convinced me.  (For what it's worth, and in the spirit of full disclosure, while solo parenting last week (one of those posts you missed because I haven't ever finished writing it) I didn't bother with sunscreen even though it was sunny and warm and we hadn't had a drop of percipitation in like, 45 or 46 days.)

me: I may miss the water taxi, and then I won't be able to paddle.
L (curious look on her face): Daddy? Do you want to paddle?
me: Yeah, I like to.
L: Why do you like to?
me: It gives me exercise. I enjoy it.
L: Can we eat our cookies now?

I start driving (after giving the girls their cookies) and my phone rings to let me know I have a text. Which I read after digging the phone out of my pocket whilst narrowly avoiding the cars parked on either side of our street. It's from M, who says "I got coffee! How'd drop off go?"

The girls want to know what it is and I tell them.

L (laughing, with cookie in her mouth): We haven't even gotten there yet! How can we be dwopped off already?!?

Ha ha indeed!

I know M was asking ahead of time because she's heading into a meeting, but I don't bother trying to explain, choosing instead to laugh along with the girls and say "I don't know. That's silly!" thereby buying myself a small bit of cred with them since even I know you can't say how drop off went when YOU HAVEN'T YET DROPPED THE GIRLS OFF! They'll explain it to their mother tonight.

It's now 8.10a and I'm about 20 minutes behind schedule and have lost an additional 7 seconds by slowing down while reading the text, but I'm doing my best to 1) keep it light, 2) not reply, and 3) not stress out about the water taxi. If I miss it, I miss it. And I don't paddle.

And we do manage to keep it light, all the freakin' way down to White Center and their school. And I drop them and call out I love them and then drive back and just miss the 8.45 water taxi run but have enough time before the 9.15 run to get a double shot of espresso across the street. And take my picture.

silhouette, with the 8.45 water taxi leaving behind me

Friday, September 7, 2012

... big wheel keep on turning...

In which I do something I never intended to do, with people I love, and find unexpected joy in the doing....

The "big wheel"at dawn

A few weeks ago, on the spur of the moment, we went to dinner with some friends to celebrate a birthday and then did the "Seattle Big Wheel," which is apparently our version of the "London Eye" which is London's version of a big-ass Ferris Wheel.

In my mind, I figured that this thing was another step turning the Seattle Waterfront into a mini-Coney Island. Which means, of course, that it appeals to children much like the tinny sound of The Entertainer  played by faded pink, rusting jeeps driving slowly through summer neighborhoods hawking freezer-burned ice milk bars. In other words, as soon as they saw it being built months ago, the girls wanted to ride it. I myself had no immediate plans to do so and no real desire (and to be clear here, I don't want to go to Disneyland either), but these friends were going, and if there was anyone I'd want to ride a big-ass Ferris Wheel with, it's these friends. So we bought our tickets and joined them.

"Daddy, those ants look like people down there...."

The "seats" which are actually small, fully-enclosed cars, fit 8, so we all fit into one, and then we turned. And the girls loved it. And I actually enjoyed it quite a bit as well. Gorgeous views on a beautiful night, we got to spend time with some of our favorite folks, and I had the opportunity to re-remember that sometimes it's good to stretch oneself and do what one might otherwise avoid doing.

family self-portrait, w/ blue umbrellas

portrait of another family self-portrait

portrait of another family

Everyone had a great time, and...

I'll admit, the view was pretty cool...

And I was reminded that we're all just shadows on this earth anyway, 
so we might as well have some fun....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

school's.... in for winter!

and someone is a first grader while someone else is starting her 2nd year as a preschooler:

 sisters, ready to go

three beautiful women
(2 dressed for the first day of school, 
1 dressed for 3 action-packed days of an event)

It was a busy morning, what with everyone needing to get off to school and work and all, but we managed to get everyone out the door with a minimum of tears and changes of clothes (and breakfast - the egg whites I got up to make them "tasted funny," which meant that K only had a couple of helpings of them (she didn't notice the funny taste until L said hers tasted funny and had "black spots") and L only had one piece of cinnamon toast - great starts to the morning!), and now I've got the house to myself while K is in her first day as a first grader and L is starting her second year as a preschooler and M is diving head-first into a 3-day event for which she's got way too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. Which means it'll all go fine and they'll love her. But it also means that I'm working from home to do drop-off and pick-up these next 3 days.

To compound matters, we had new lunchboxes, supplies to deliver, one new teacher, a new playground, and somebody (somebody!) had the bright idea of including some "letter" cookies in each lunch. I quickly found 4 for K's name, but couldn't find enough "l" cookies for L's name, so I had to fall back on doing her initials. We'll see if either of them even notice.

Drop-off went fine, though L was a bit clingy on the playground since her big sister wasn't there to play with her. K was already in her class, learning what it means to be a 1st grader and one of the "little" kids in a 3-grade classroom.

I'm sure everything will be fine.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

definitions: marhonica / cheese cream

if it's tuesday in seattle, what time is it in casablanca? or, there might be a definition around here somewhere....

marhonica - noun, a musical instrument you play with your mouth. See also Bob Dylan. Or better yet, Sonny Boy Williamson.

(I'm working out in the studio when I hear the thundering sounds of 2 running girls, and the door bursts open.)

K&L: Daddy, Daddy!!
me: Hey monkeys.
K&L: Daddy!!! Can we play out here with you!?!
me: Sure.
K (holding a box with guitar picks, capos and harmonicas): What's this Daddy?
L (reaching into the box her sister has found): Yeah, what's this Daddy?!?
me: Those are my harmonicas.
K: Can we play them?
L: Yeah, can we play them?!?
me: Sure....

And so the girls blow a bit and suck a bit, and tire of making music. The real reason to come out to the studio is to sit in my desk chair and spin.

L: Daddy?
me: Yeah L?
L: Can we spin in your chair? I don't want this marhonica.
me (getting up and taking the it from her): Ok, sure.

cheese cream - noun, a spread for bagels which you then don't want to eat.

(I'm running late, hurrying to get out the door in time to catch the first water taxi, when M and L come down into the kitchen.)

M: Here's our early riser.
L: Hi Daddy.
me: Monkey! What are you doing up so early?
L: I wanted to come down stay-ers.
M: What do you want to eat L?
L: I don't know!
me: How about a bagel?
L: Yeah, a bagel.
M (getting it out of the freezer): Do you want some peanut butter on it?
L: What else can I have?
me: Butter....
L: Which is better? Butter or ....
me: Peanut butter? Peanut butter has protein.
L (seeing me spread cream cheese on my own lunch bagel): Or cheese cream?
me: Right.
L: Which is better? Butter or cheese cream or peanut butter?
M: Peanut butter is probably better for you.
L: Hmm... I want cheese cream.
me (packing up and heading out): Cheese cream is good too. I love you! Tell your sister I said goodbye!!
L: By Daddy!!!
K&L: Daddy, Daddy!!
me: Hey monkeys.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

... twisted sisters...

It's "Sister Sunday" wherein I post occasional photos of... well, sisters.

Heading to the Water Taxi

Saturday, September 1, 2012

... running down the road...

Or, how we set examples for our children (and our spouses):

Last Sunday M decided to do a 5k race that was taking place down at the bottom of our hill. How she can decide this on the evening before the race, and then not even set an alarm for that morning, I have no idea. I need to have several days, minimum, in order to stew and worry and get stressed out about a race, and then I'd set the alarm for 4am in order to get up in time to.... stew and stress a bit more.

But she did it, deciding around 8pm and then sleeping until around 7am. And then she headed down the hill.

I followed on foot with the girls a bit later, the plan being that this would be a great opportunity for them to see their mother running, to see a strong woman competing in sport.

They had questions. Will Mommy win? If she's not going to win, is that ok? What if she doesn't win? Maybe could she win? (Nope, yes, it'll be fine, probably not).

They watched the start of the race with interest. After all, how can you not be fascinated by hundreds of people hurrying by you in the street, a street that usually is busy with cars.

And then M came running by. Which was very exciting, but not something I was quite ready for, camera-wise. All I managed was this shot of her (and a friend) heading away from us:

But she looked strong, and even more important, she looked like she was enjoying herself. Which, if you want your daughters to consider doing something physical to keep themselves in shape, is a great thing.

And I have to say, it was a wonderful experience to be with the girls as they watched their momma doing a race. They know she exercises (which I also think is a great thing), but I don't think they really understood what it meant that she runs and that she can do races. Now they have a real sense of it.

Admittedly, she was trailing the lead runner by a bit, which concerned L somewhat ("She's not going to win, right Daddy?" Right), but I did my best to let them know this was ok, that she didn't necessarily expect to win and wasn't doing the race to capital W win.

Then we went down to the beach, where the girls wanted to dig tunnels in the dry sand (which doesn't work well), and then fell back to the default of being horses. I set up a jump and they jumped it for a bit:

Alki Beach Mustangs
(not dissimilar to the horses found on Chincoteague)

And then we saw the runners coming back, so we headed up to the street again. (me: They're coming back. I'm going to go up and watch for your mom. K&L: We want to be horses. me: You can be horses up there, watching for your mother horse. K: Mother horses are mares. me: Right. You can watch for... well, I'm going to watch for your mama.)

The lead runner came blasting past (L: Mommy isn't winning.) and then more, and then we saw her:

Which really got the girls excited. Especially when she came close to give them each a high-five. And after she went by L reassured herself, "But she's in the beginning part, right Daddy?" and I said that yes, she was in the beginning part of the pack.

And we watched other mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.... and K was processing it all. She asked how old you need to be to do the race. I told her there wasn't an age limit so much as you had to be able to make it to the end, but you can walk when you get tired. And you get to do it with Mommy.

K: You can't run very well, right Daddy?
L: Yeah, you can't run very well.
me: No, I can't run at all.
K: We can probably run faster than you Daddy.
L: Yeah!! We can run faster than you!!!
me: Yes, you can. And you should!

And speaking of tired, after all that excitement and exercise, the girls still had to walk back to the house. Which they managed fairly well, even though they were "exhausted."

All in all, it was a most satisfying Sunday morning! I'm proud of M, for being a strong woman and a great role model for her daughters (and for me).