Wednesday, December 23, 2015

... ride, 'Arry, ride...

... upon your Nimbus stick... or, "Mount up, Harry Trotter!"

The current obsession in our household is with Harry Potter. Or 'Arry Pot'r, as we attempt to say. Combine this with an on-going fascination with all things horse-related, and we end up with some unique creative play. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

K is a reader. I am too. We all are. K is also very sensitive to violence or any suggestion of violence. And I am too. So I get this, I'm sympathetic. She's also disinclined to stretch herself much. She doesn't embrace new experiences. If she had her way, we would never repaint, never move furniture, never change a thing. Except maybe to get some horses to put in the back yard.

She will read just about anything having to do with horses. Or anything that she's already familiar with. She is not especially adventurous, in other words. So she'd rather reread Thoroughbred #22 a fifteenth time than branch out to something I'm recommending but which she's unsure of (example: The Good Master).

She has "known" for years that 1) she did not want to read Harry Potter, 2) it was too scary, 3) it was (probably) a "boy book", 4) (a bunch of other reasons I can't recall at the moment. But at some point L decided she wanted to hear the first Harry Potter book, so M started reading it to her at bedtime. They were nearly through with it when K got sucked in too, and once they were done, L & M watched the first movie while K insisted it would be too scary and so she and I watched "Mr. Dobbs Takes a Vacation" which is an odd Jimmy Stewart movie full of early 1960s "humor" that K seems to love. I think this was the fifth or sixth time we've watched it. L & M moved on to the second book, and this time K was listening from the start and liked what she was hearing. When they finished that book, they all (we all) watched the second movie, K with some trepidation but knowing the story, willing to give it a try. She loved it (just as she'd loved the book), and immediately wanted to watch the first movie, so she, L and I did. Then K went and read the first book. And then second book. And the first book again. And all the while, she, L & M were working through the third book.

"just 10 more minutes!"

Now all K wants to do is watch Harry Potter movies (the first two especially - the third one didn't really grab her fancy). And play horses.

Which leads to something I like to call "Harry Trotter."

As near as I can tell, listening in from the kitchen while the girls play in the living room, is that they are in a stable, and the horses have names like Dumbledore and Nimbus 2000 and Fireball and Snape. They wear robes and discuss other students and classes like Dark Arts and play quidditch disparage muggles and ride horses and brooms and have created an imaginary world that combines the two seemingly disparate worlds in a way that I love. And don't quite "get."

But that's ok too, because I'm a parent and they are playing and being creative and damn, I love that.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

... me and you, and you and me...

or, "just another Sunday morning in WS."

This weekend we were actually all in town together. Same place, same times. It was nice.

Friday night K&L convinced us that we had never gone out to eat for M's birthday, so we went out to our neighborhood pub-food place and had burgers or fish&chips or squash enchiladas. At the end of the meal K sat up and said, "Now that is what I call a good Friday night!"

Saturday M took the girls shopping and I got some work done on the house, finishing one of my two "absolutely going to have this done by the end of the summer or my name isn't..." projects, which apparently it isn't, because this is now 10/4 and last time I checked the end of summer was a couple of weeks ago. Astronomically speaking I mean. As far as normal people go, summer has been gone for at least a couple of weeks, if not longer. Which isn't to say that it's gray and damp yet. It's been pretty darn nice. But the trees are changing, and the light is more oblique than the summer sun. And the days are getting shorter and cooler, both of which make me sad. Apparently some folks love the fall, the changing seasons. Me, I miss my summer sun and warmth.

And on Sunday L and I went on a bike ride while M planted a tree she's had on her list to plant. K mostly lay about in her pajamas, reading in the oblique light. We also had L's final cross-country "championship" race, which was much like the other two races except that for this one everyone across the finish line was handed a "participant" ribbon.

All of which makes it sound as thought we're something like the Waltons, happy and content and fully aware of all the glories of the world around us. And for the most part, now and then, we are. But there were also tears. Make no mistake about that. There were tears about how there was nothing to do, about how K pinched L, about how no one ever gets to have dessert any more... there were battles about someone sitting on someone else's bed, uninvited. There were disagreements about horses during games, about rules during Yatzee, about who got to have the last of the orange juice....

Which is to say, it was pretty much a normal weekend around here. And right now, normal seems dang nice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

... i can't sleep when i can't sleep with you...

...or, "the bed's too big without you."

I took this last weekend, in Wenatchee:

M is out of town this weekend, and this morning when the girls called me at 6.30 (I was still sleeping, having gotten up at 3am the day before), I discovered that they were together in K's bed and had been all night.  This isn't an unusual occurrence, and there's something I love about the fact that they will snuggle like this. It's  generally L driving the doubling up. She sleeps best when she sleeps next to a warm body (something that doesn't bode well for parental comfort when she's off at college!). She spent most of her first 18 months sleeping happily between M and me, and we used to joke that at least we were going to know when she got home from her dates as a teenager, because she would be climbing into bed with us when she did.

Tonight I just went up to kiss them goodnight before I climbed into my own bed, and discovered again that they were bundled together in K's bed. I moved L, mostly out of a hope that this will mean they'll both sleep longer tomorrow morning. We'll see. I do hate to split them up. For all the arguing and fighting they do, they sure do come through for each other when it counts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

... better run run run run away...

or, "how I learned to stop worrying and love the start."

Being a parent seems to involve preparing your child for life as much as you are able, and then standing back to allow them the space to succeed or fail. Which is a difficult thing to do since you develop this attachment to these little people who've taken over your world. But apparently you need to do this so that they are able to be independent and develop confidence and a sense of themselves.

And this past weekend the girls had their first cross-country meet ever, and despite some serious concern and nervousness (not entirely on the part of the girls), it went well for all.

Having opportunities like team sports is one of the reasons we decided to change schools this year. Their new school has far more options than we had previously, some of which are extra curricular sports.

Neither girl had ever done anything like this before, and as a parent I was nervous for them. It was chaotic, with figuratively millions of children and parents, a high wind at Woodland Park, barely understandable announcers, uncertain courses.... all the ingredients for a perfect day, in other words. The start involves sending 50+ second (or third, or fourth, or...) grade girls (or boys) running full blast down a hill, guaranteed to result in some collisions and falls. Luckily both our girls stayed on their feet and did not, as far as I am aware, push anyone else out of their way.

L ran hard and was near the front of the pack for 2nd grade girls (she was the 2nd of the runners from her school to finish):
on your marks, get set, GO!

K ran well too, and what really made my day was the smile she gave me as she ran past, nearing the finish line:
a smile for dad

We were proud like only parents can be, and the girls love their "official" racing shirts.

There was also the perk of vitamin water after the race, thoughtfully supplied by M.

Monday, September 21, 2015

... just hanging around this town...

(or "what we did at the wenatchee harvest festival")

Our friends were going to Wenatchee for the weekend and invited us along. M already had a weekend planned at Leavenworth, so the girls and I dropped her on Friday and drove on to Wenatchee. On Saturday we went to the "Harvest Festival" which was short on harvest and, really, on festival as well. It was... "sparsely" populated by both attendees and vendors, and we didn't see much in the way of harvest.

But we did get to hang out downtown:

hoodlums, wenatchee wa

Friday, September 18, 2015

... well i tried to fix it friday...

(or "hair today, back from maui")

M has been handling both dropoff and pickup while I was out of town, so this morning she really needed to get in to work early, which left me to tuck in loose ends. She did a great braid for L, but there were hairs hanging out. I convinced L that I could fix them, and twice tried to do this with a "tuck," simply slipping the errant strands in among longer ones that were tightly braided. Both times these slipped out, and we were in danger of a "major hair meltdown" (one of the five or six main classes of morning meltdown, others being "no socks meltdown," "missing glasses case meltdown," "wrong leggings meltdown," "didn't say goodbye to mommy for the fourth time meltdown," and "we're going to be late meltdown"), but then I suggested bobby pins. Or maybe K did. In any case, I worked some daddy magic and we were set.

addendum: the hair apparently came down at school, but the bobby pins stayed in! in my book, that equals a win for daddy (in truth, anything that gets us out of the house in a reasonably timely manner is a win, so I'm not above digging dirty clothing out of the pile if that's what is called for).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

... but the centipede he crawl all over your feet...

One of the defining concert experiences of my young life was a show that Kenny Loggins did in the Lahaina amphitheater behind the police station, some time in the late 1970s. We got tickets through friends who got them for free from the radio station, and we nearly didn't go ("we" being my sister and me). We had to work that day, physical work out in the sun, and we were tired. We also started work every morning at 6.30, so weren't accustomed to staying up much past 8. I'm guessing the concert started some time around 8. I do remember the sunset behind the stage, out over the Lahaina roadstead, with Lanai in the distance and sailboats making silhouettes against the light.

In any case, for whatever reason, I was able to convince my generally-not-up-for-this-sort-of-thing sister to go. And it turned out that Kenny Loggins was a fantastic performer. I had liked the stuff he did with Jim Messina, but wasn't a huge fan of his solo work. Still, he could really work a crowd, and we were sitting outside on the grass in the tropical evening, and it was a blast, well worth staying up past 8.30pm for!

But one of the things that happened was people were calling for "Lahaina," the song that Loggins and Messina had recorded. I was enough of a music nerd to lean over and mutter to my sister, "He's not going to do it, it's a Jim Messina song." And I was right, he didn't do it.

All of which is a pretty much unrelated to this video I shot with my phone two nights ago, here in Haiku:

This is a decent sized centipede (compare to the hand that appears late in the show). But this sort of thing doesn't phase me much. Having grown up in Hawaii, I'm ok with most island critters. Centipedes, scorpions, mosquitos, bees, spiders, mostly - I actually dislike cane spiders more than I do centipedes. Centipedes at least run away from you rather than jump AT you when you frighten them. In Seattle I catch spiders in the house and release them outside. When we had a cane spider in a condo here on one visit, M and the girls expected me to do the same. I shook my head and said that they didn't understand, that besides being about 4 inches across, it would jump toward me if I approached it, and it would move "frickin' fast." I moved toward it, just enough to make it run, and it crossed about 25 feet of wall in a fraction of a second. M looked at me and said, "Ok, I get it." We left it alone for the remainder of our stay. It was hidden behind the cabinets in the kitchen, which was fine by me. I do less well with non-island folks like snakes, bears, and lions and tigers I suppose though I've never encountered either of those in the wild.

It's been a gloriously damp visit here, with rain sweeping in from the northeast and making all the lawns green (including Mom's which is unusual at this point in the year). And after years of drought, the island sure can use the water. I've even seen a buffo or two, something I haven't seen in years.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

... if you go to... kanaha, maui...

... be sure to take a picture of the flowers on the beach.

(for my friend Kathy, who misses the flower photos I used to post on Facebook before I quit Facebook.)

beach morning glory

At Kanaha beach park, splattered with rain drops from passing showers.

Monday, September 7, 2015

... this could be the first time...

... baby, the first time in this school. Or, "just like starting over."

The girls have just started school again, and this time a new school (more on that in a separate post, if I ever get my act together). But most importantly, a few photos:

first day, 9/1/15
(you may be able to intuit a bit about the new school from the outfits)

 And with a new school comes high stress levels, which we've been dealing with much of the summer, but with increasing amounts as summer ended. It's hard to change schools. K had been at the old school for 6 years, and L for 4, so the change is huge for them. But they're doing a good job of handling it well (for 9 and 7), including occasionally help each other out. For example, later that same week, after M went to work, L had a hair emergency that she decided I couldn't help with. Enter K to the rescue:

I loved that K offered and that L was willing to let her help, and that I had enough time to grab my camera.

What's worth noting, and may go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway, is no matter how "prepared" we were for the stress and resulting behavior, it still caught (and catches) us off-guard at times. The girls hold it together at school, where they're the "new girls" but once at home, things can quickly sour. We've had a lot of tears and meltdowns and blowups, and yet I'd say overall that things are going well. There was concern on their part that they wouldn't be able to do the academic work (we weren't really worried, but they had nothing to compare their previous experiences against) - that's a non-issue it seems. They are able (for the most part - L has had some challenges with the math as it is done in their new school, because she didn't have the intro that all the other 2nd graders had last year), and the concerns don't seem there. But not having a circle of friends, not knowing people, not wanting to be the center of attention, all of that is pretty draining for a grownup, and these are young girls. Luckily, the environment is quite supportive (one major reason we decided on this school) and I think it's just going to be a matter of time before they settle in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

... she's leaving home...

... bye bye... or "how my morning went"

note left on my keyboard

Just before I got in the shower L got mad at me and apparently ran away from home. I was oblivious.

By the time I got downstairs after finishing up my shower, she was reading on the couch, sniffling a post-cry sniffle. We proceeded to the car for the drive to school.

Sometimes the best approach is "clueless."

Friday, April 17, 2015

... sunshine on my shoulder...

... makes great shadows...

Here's my most favorite picture from our time in Ptown, Sunday morning:

post-browsing shadows, 2nd morning
just before heading out to the coast

Thursday, April 16, 2015

... paperback...

... reader.... paperback paperback.... - Part One

Last weekend we took Froggie (and the girls) down to Portland for a quick visit where we did the town up right. Or at least "right" from where we sit.

Froggie and the girls ate breakfast at a bakery:

first family rule: never leave the house without at least one book!

second rule: never leave breakfast without at least one double espresso!!

They read books at Stumptown (while we drank coffee):

corollary to second rule: 
another double is good, another double from Stumptown is excellent!

They (and Froggie) went to Powell's Bookstore, my favorite bookstore in the world:

K, as I led her into the "horse stories" aisle:
"I love this aisle! I just want to hug it and take it home with me!"

corollary to first rule:
you never can have too many books!!! 

We walked by the river, found cool stuff and wore ourselves out. We retreated back to our hotel to recuperate by watching HGTV (can you say "Flip or Flop?" this is a show the girls and I just discovered - perfect for when you're so worn out you can't manage to read one of your many new books), by learning how to go for ice without parents, by learning how to use the elevator without parents, by learning just how much your parents will let you get away with....

We walked again, this time to get dinner and to take a grab shot family portrait (don't complain that you already saw it when you get the Christmas card this year):

Nordstrom, Up Escalator

After dinner we retreated back to our hotel for more HGTV, more reading, more getting of ice and riding of elevators. And eventually, for some sleep as well.

more later....