Monday, August 30, 2010

The Precious: 2 Hours after Bedtime

Ken and I are very lucky. SO VERY LUCKY. We are humbly grateful every day to the Universe to have a child who took to sleeping through the night starting at three months and abiding a reasonable schedule.

But from three months to nine months of age, I thought at any moment the other shoe was going to drop and Sidney would realize "Oh, you mean other kids don't really do this so early and so well? Yeah, I was just kidding." Like "Fight Club," in those beginning months, the first rule of Sidney's sleep habits, you do not talk about Sidney's sleep habits.

Now that we are almost at a year old, I have become much more caviler about this schedule as it has seemed to gel. While there have been some interruptions due to sickness, travel and a rare bad dream, the girl rocks it. So I have become very covetous of the 2 hours after her bedtime which are filled with so much possibility. I mean I can do ANYTHING. I can watch TV, I can call people, I can surf the Internet, I can listen to podcasts, I can write blog entries, I can read fan fiction (my new thing)... I can even go to the bathroom with the door closed and not be interrupted. (TMI, well I have a feeling that is only going to get worse.)

But what I do tend to do is consume media. I cruise my Facebook, look at all the blogs I follow, catch up on the Daily Show & a few celebrity gossip websites. Or sometimes I just follow a tangent about something I want to know more about and down I go into the rabbit hole that is the Internet. Earlier to day it was "BHT (the preservative)." Last night it was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The night before, "Lady Gaga." Then just like that, I look up and my 2 hours are over. It's time to go to bed and see what the precious 2 hours tomorrow will have in store.

(Right now my Mother is saying, "you better be spending those precious hours getting my retirement party video done.")

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shannahans in Seattle

Ken's step-brother and his wife run a cruise club out of Salisbury, MD. They just spent a week cruising in Alaska with their kids Ryan & Sam, along with 100 other members of the cruise club. (One day I want to do that cruise too!) They flew into and out of Seattle but disembarked out of Vancouver BC. Tonight they dined at Buco di Beppo which is a place that can handle HUGE groups and the food is great.
Unfortunately they had planned to do some sightseeing as a group in Seattle but were delayed 4 hours at the Canadian border due to volume of people passing through today. That is just crazy. Didn't those people just host an Olympics or something? At any rate, they made it right on time for their 5 pm reservation and we all dined together. It was great to see the family and I didn't know the boys would be with them this trip. Sidney also worked her magic on everyone she could make eye contact with and cast a spell on.
It was a shame it was so brief but we were grateful for the time spent. They all fly out on a red-eye for Baltimore tonight.

Thanks again to Kelly and Tracy for inviting us to dinner and for the awesome leftovers (on account we are the only locals of the group).
Safe travels home.






Marketplace Money Soundbite

This weekend I got to be on NPR's Marketplace Money, relating a short and sad story of $$$ lost to bad financial advice.  Listen here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Official: Mom Retires

Last weekend we were down in the Rose City to celebrate the much awaited retirement party for Mother. I think this event has been in planning for oh, about a year. Perhaps I exaggerate, but only a little. Mom had definite ideas about what she wanted and Cindy, Angela & I did our best to bring it to life.

And it's not for the lack of trying to be on top of things but I/Ken managed to forget the amplifier and microphone we promised to bring down so we ended up renting one that was so huge.  But it did the job and everyone could hear the speeches which is what we wanted.  It never fails these days: I will forget something for our roadtrip down to Vancouver/Portland every time.  Well let's just don't forget the minky/satin blanket that Sidney sleeps with.  We will be in major irreplaceable trouble if that ever happens...

Personally, I have not been to any retirement parties in my life so I had no concept of what they were supposed to be like. Evidently they have become a pretty major event that, not unlike weddings, have flowers, food, speeches, decoration and drama. (Well not as much drama as a wedding.) But on the day of we arrived at the venue (the gem of a park in N Portland) called Peninsula Park it was on. I turned into Bossy McBossy and did what I do best: tell people what to do. Luckily everyone was amenable to that. But clearly a lot of planning and staging of needed items on Cindy's part made being on-location/setup smooth. Angela's eye for decoration and attention to detail made it beautiful.

This event occurred on the only day they had rain in 2 weeks (wtf) so it was a little wet and chilly at the beginning but turned out to be a gorgeous day. The speeches were sweet and the food (except for the crab cake with dijon + horseradish--yucky!) was delish. Mom's friend Maria made homemade baklava and while I am not easily impressed with exotic pastries---oh one of the ingredients must have been magic or some addictive substance because it was that good. Ken was on all-day Sidney duty while I helped with the setup and then guerrilla photo/videoed the event. I know my mother will be sad to know I have not even looked at the footage yet, but I WILL. Until then, here's pics from the event.

Austin also a big help for the set up was in charge of sanitizing the venue.

Mom and Cindy.  Mom with food in her mouth...naturally.

Fourth picture in a series that these two couldn't get their faces to work right.

Co-workers from mom's former team @ Kaiser.

The Swerdlik Family

Ms. Sidney falls in love with the purple streamers.

Sidney wants mom's former Mult. Co. boss Donna to know where the purple streamers are.

Sue, Angela & Mom make admire the food table.

Mom's most recent boss Diana presents her with a gift and kind words.

Donna takes a turn with some thoughts.

Brian and Fred from her Mult. Co. days share some memories.

Mom says a few words to her guests.

Us with the Queen Bee.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First World Problem: Baby Doll

In the scheme of things, this is inconsequential but I'm not sure what to do.

We'd like to get a baby doll for Sidney and now you can find them in every race.  Clearly she looks 95% white and has blue eyes so I could safely go with the standard blue eyes, light skin, blond hair dolls that are easily found.  But part of me feels we should pay homage to her/my ethnicity a little.  Since I could find no hapa dolls, I found these two that are interesting:

This is (obviously) an Asian doll and looks pretty cool.  But it doesn't look a bit like Sidney.

This is a Hispanic doll but looks more like Sidney.  Though it has brown eyes and I assume darker hair. 


And this is the standard Caucasian doll which looks just like the Hispanic one, except slightly lighter skin and blue eyes... So I don't know.  What should we do?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Individual of the Species, who happens to be female

Last month, Ken and I saw a play called “Female of the Species.”  It was an incredibly smart, funny and cutting examination of how Feminism is perceived in present day.  As I watched this play, I was reminded of my own exposure to “the Feminist movement” (from my mother naturally) and what I’ve come to understand the role of women in society today.  But I also left wondering, where is Feminism now?

Just recently, coverage of a dust up at The Daily Show reminded me that fueling the rage of feminism is inflammatory business that is profitable in these days of page views and click through ads.  (From Jezebel, the article asserting that the Daily Show could be sexist.)  The story goes that there aren’t many female staffers at the Daily Show and those who are there are allegedly subjected an old boy’s club.  Slate.com accused Jezebel’s article of being a “prime example of the feminist blogosphere's tendency to tap into the market force of "outrage world"—the regularly occurring firestorms stirred up on mainstream, for-profit, woman-targeted blogs.” And petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism.”

So if the Slate and Jezebel posts are any kind of indication, the attention to inequality between the genders as discussed from the feminine point of view, seems met with a contemptuous “media blogstorm” and accusations of profiteering.  Lovely.  Are we all doomed to highly polarized rhetoric like we get from Senate Democrats and Republicans?

I was raised to believe you could achieve anything you wanted as long as you were willing to do the work.  This was especially true in school leadership and academics where I planted my flag and sought to excel.  I didn’t perceive that gender, race or any other “identity-based” attributes had anything to do with my success or failure.

Feminism struck me as the double-edged sword of empowerment and entrapment.  To me, Feminism defeated its own purpose because it called too much attention (the wrong kind) to the thing that it was trying to overcome. (See, I’m a woman and you should listen to me because I’m a woman). You may get close to what men get but as long as you keep throwing your gender in their face, but there will always be a divide and there will always be inequality.  I felt it better to be an Individualist in the “listen-to-what-I-have-to-say-because-it’s-good/true/smart/useful (regardless that I am a woman).” 

In college I worked shoulder to shoulder with men and women alike.  Pushing the boundaries of broadcast production to the point that it made no difference whatsoever what gender you were.  All of us could direct, produce, shoot, edit, write.  I graduated with some of the most talented and passionate people in their craft.  It was a wonderful microcosm of what could be possible.  And then I entered the real world…

It wasn’t obvious or immediate but I began to see our still “gender-fied” world outside of the protective walls of college and academia.  It was so subtle that I didn’t even see it for years.  I was already working in the male-dominated industries of broadcasting and hi-tech so I could roll with misogynist jokes and attitudes and bend them to my purposes.  I commonly had to prove myself but usually won the respect of my peers through hard work and devotion to improving.  I progressed upward, with full exposure to mid-level and upper-level leadership, clients and vendors.  And it was there that I began to see certain “boys’ clubs” which I could never progress beyond or be a part of.  My shock to their existence was na├»ve but I convinced myself I really didn’t want to go higher in the leadership chain because of the stress and the demands.  Which is partly true, but it was also just so unsavory and unwelcoming.  Toward the end of my working stint, there came a subversive and patronizing undercurrent which I got swept up in and I just got tired of fighting it. 

When I got married, I soon noticed that my husband was treated differently in identical scenarios.  The foremost example was when dealing with customer service for a wood blinds company that made a mess of our order.  We both separately spoke to the customer service folks, asking for the same things.  But Ken got a lot farther than I did when it came to getting refunds, comp products and special accommodation.  The same held true when we were bumped from an Alaska flight to Pullman a few years ago.  For our trouble, we got not one, not two but three round-trip tickets anywhere Alaska flew—EACH.  I was grateful for his success but I felt for the first time disheartened by the realization that I wasn’t able to get what I wanted and deserved for myself.

To be honest, in the last few years I’ve felt frustrated but more than that, disappointed.  Disappointed in me for giving up and accepting the situation.  When I was on my Individualist kick, I wouldn’t succumb to a defeatist attitude or have a secret gratefulness to have a husband who can talk to the customer service people of the world.  I realize bending to this; I became part of the problem. 

When I found out I was pregnant though, priorities changed.  The daily ego-fueled ideological scrapping and proverbial dick-measuring at work struck me as futile and banal as it always was, but I no longer got stuck in it like fly paper.  My world view expanded while focusing on something so small and fragile.  Funny how that happens.   (Watch now as folks come out of the woodwork, “See, see a woman shouldn’t be compensated like a man because she can’t keep her eye on the ball and give everything she has to her job.  The minute she gets knocked-up she coasts.”)  Such an American, work-yourself-to-death view.  I’ll take actual work-life balance, please.

Currently I’m doing the ultimate feminine job: full-time mothering.  It doesn’t get more female than this, it doesn’t get more multi-taskingly challenging than this and it doesn’t get less paid then this.  I’m sure the original Feminists didn’t intend for someone like me to stop down a 12-year career to stay home raising a child. But I wonder when I rejoin the working-outside-the-home crowd if this experience will have a marked effect on my attitude toward the genders or my role in the workforce?  All I know is that I still want to be judged for what I bring to the table.  But maybe what I’ll be bringing will be a little more perspective, an even better ability to multi-task and (hopefully) some skills to win over customer service people.  We’ll see.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mika's Ukulele Luau Birthday Extravaganza

Happy Birthday to the best Ukulele player we know!  A lovely event organized and orchestrated by Sarah (and friends).  We so love their parties--always unique and full of great people.  Sidney stayed in with a sitter while we were able to relax and not worry.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Letter to Marvin

Dear Marvin:
May we have a word with you?

Our folks, well, they are an interesting bunch.
They are always putting cameras in our faces and seeking out good light and the best angles. They get really bossy, tell people where to stand, what to do and to tilt their chins up. A few of our parents (and we won't name names) like to throw parties and cook slabs of meat outside on the hot thing. We don't know what that has to do with you but it's pretty serious.

We've heard a lot about something called "Cable 8." Whatever that is kicks our parents into fits of nostalgia. It's like they act like kids again and we should know. They talk about "Rico's", "directing the news" and "Murrow"--whoever that is.

Sometimes after they've had enough of "daddy's water," they even start singing this ridiculous song about "fighting" and "crimson and grey" and then they spell a lot of words--it's horrible. What kind of a song is that?

Anyway, we figure it all comes back to you, Marvin. They always mention your name with a wistful look in their eyes. Lily's daddy had something to say about it just the other day...



We figure you were the one who started all this so with your benevolent influence, please don't let them embarrass us when we become teenagers. There's a few more years to go but we suspect this is only going to get worse. The number of pictures Sidney's mom has and the infamy of their stories could keep them going until they are even older than you. Hard to believe.

Please help,
Sidney, Lily and Tegan




[Marvin Marcelo: Associate Dean of the Washington State University Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and Instructor of Broadcast 455--and much beloved professor]

Video from the Mantooth BBQ Gathering

Never a dull moment.

The apron makes it but the pseudo-contempt for Mr. Ken is precious.


It's really sweet to see the daddies and their girls in live action.


Lily is so freaking hilarious here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Making a Case for Drive Thru

Before I had a child, I regarded using the drive thru as something teenagers or lazy people do.  I thought, how freaking hard is it to go into a fast food place and order your meal?  Get some exercise and have a little dignity.  When I noticed the local Walgreens had a pharmacy drive thru, I was all, People, what is the hardship?  Park and walk in.  And when I saw the drive thru at Starbucks?  Eye roll.

Oh silly, judgmental, non-parent me.  Those were the days.

Flash forward.  Oh sweet heaven, I wish every business establishment had a drive thru.  I'd even settle for curb service and I'd play extra for it.   Now that I have a child on a nap schedule, a car seat I must buckle and unbuckle her out of every time we stop and Sidney's ticking-time-bomb tolerance level for errands of approximately 2 hours--I scheme about how to be the most time efficient.  Bottom line: we could save lots of time by not leaving the car.

Banks get this.  Fast food gets this and a few others do too.  But how about the grocery store, Bartells, decent restaurants, the post office, the hardware store, the drycleaners, etc?  I actually got a clerk at our local hardware store to come out by dialing them from the parking lot.  He brought out the spool of weed wacker cord I needed and we did the transaction right there.  (I couldn't bring myself to wake her after a long day at Co-op and she finally was sleeping.)  I thanked him profusely and wondered if I could get other places to do this.  I tried it again today with the lady at the teriyaki place but it didn't go over well.  I almost went to Wendy's but thought better of it. She said it would be ready in 5 minutes and then I could come in and get it like everyone else.  Again, sleeping baby in the car.  I left the car & A/C running, ran in, urgently handed her the money and grabbed my lunch.  No tip for you.

Being a parent has definitely changed my perspective and we can chalk this one up to "things I now want more than anything that I once thought were stupid."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fun in Vancouver

(Also on Sidney's Page)

Well the fun didn't stop once we returned from the Oregon Coast. No sir. We took Daddy to the airport so he could go to CA on business and we stayed in Vancouver with Grandpa.

Grandpa liked riding in the back so he could be Mr. Entertainment. This worked out quite well. And then we came in from the car after this and Sidney had a major blowout diaper that Grandpa discovered as he was carrying her. It was everywhere. We had to just hose her down in the kitchen sink as I was stripping off poopy clothing. How did it get that bad? Mommy should have changed her diaper at the restaurant where we had dinner but she forgot and then we didn't go straight home like she assumed we would. Just glad Grandpa can deal with poo.





The next day we went over to Bev's and she played with Sidney on the floor with some of Ben & Jamie's old toys.  She read Sidney the cool new book she bought her and we just enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the house.  Sidney really loved all the space and carpeted floor to crawl around on.  





That night, Grandpa did Mommy a solid and babysat while she went out with two friends from high school who also have young daughters.  We drank, laughed, ate and talked about our babies (only a little about our husbands) and it was an absolute hoot.  This is at the Laurelwood Pub in Battle Ground.  Good times.



On our last full day in Vancouver, we had the best time with my high school chum Amy and her three super awesome children.  Somehow I only got pictures of two of them (the boy eluded the camera somehow).  But the two girls seemed to really like entertaining Ms Sidney and squeezing her cheeks (!).  It's so funny because people always comment on them.  They are squeezable and kissable.  Anyway, Elise and Olivia were charming as ever and made up a little dance to entertain Sidney.  We strolled around the WSUV campus, the kids played in the fountain and Amy & I got to chat.  












Staying some extra days, especially into the week, allowed me/us to spend more time hanging out with people we don't normally get to see in a weekend visit.  It was really pleasant and I think I will do more of it especially when Ken is traveling for work.