Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Currency: Cookies

We're back from the distant lands of Portland/Vancouver and all the holiday hubbub.  While it was a wonderful time away on many fronts, being back here at home is sort of a relief--especially in regards to sweets.   It became apparent to me after observing my family and attending a few gatherings that Christmas cookies & sweets really are the "Currency of Christmas".  (Tisk, tisk that you would ever enter another's home without bearing some currency.)

Apparently in normal households, multiple kinds of these baked goods are made and then placed in tins or on festive paper plates.  These are given to people who you like enough to want to give them something but not enough to make it non-perishable and of course cookies/sweets are mandatory at ALL holiday gatherings.   There are many different kinds of sweets--some awesomely good, some "who-actually-eats-these?" not--but always more than you ever could (ever should) eat so invariably these cookies/sweets get rolled onto another plate or tin that is then given to someone else or taken to another gathering.  And the cycle continues.

Some cookie receivers feel obligated to eat the sweets just because they are around and then disgustedly let it be known that they gained 3 pounds after weighing themselves at the gym.  (Right, Dad?)  But sometimes these "gifts" expire without garnering true appreciation in some one's belly and it really is a shame when you stop to think about the effort that went into it.  But at a certain point you hit a sugar wall and hide them under the pile of Christmas cards and letters you received (the other official currency of Christmas).  The left over cookies become something one must "wait out" until they can in good conscience throw them away.

In a moment of clarity during my holiday glucose haze, I wondered why does this happen?  There is such an abundance of treats already this time of year that it's compounded by all this compulsory baking.  Why do people do this?  Is it obligation or guilt or desiring to squeeze one more thing in during a very stressful time period?  Or is it some insatiable nostalgia bent that says, 'If I just baked the perfect cookie, this Christmas will turn out to be everything I'd ever dreamed of and more?'  Those who say they just do it for the 'love' baking, I don't believe it.

However full disclosure, yes, I'm guilty of contributing to this phenomenon but to a lesser extent.  I personally make only one type of cookie called pizzelles which are a traditional Italian waffle cone-like cookie with anise (black licorice) flavoring.  It's an acquired taste but truly Italian.  I make a small batch and send a few tins to my husband's family on the East Coast and keep some for ourselves.  And that's it.  They are actually good in any season and, from what I hear, can survive over a year in an air tight container.  So a cookie for all seasons.

But what I found the most amusing this year when the cookie/sweet population was at it's peak, was that my husband decided that he was going off sugar...in December. This meant that any candy/cookie-like item that entered this house was my responsibility.  And it meant that our journey south would be ripe with temptation. And it meant that he would eventually break this vow and feel bad about it.  See all the trouble these things cause...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday night out

Last night was our one holiday party so we made it count.  Good times for dinner at Japonessa (preparations & flavors are amazing) and then partying at EMP.  I really wanted to bust loose some of my B- moves on the dance floor but the DJ wouldn't let any song play for longer than 30 seconds before the next song mixed in.  I couldn't find my groove.  Muy mal.

Here is Sidney seeing us off for the evening.  I love the hand in mouth pose.

This is us later at the party in a photo booth.  I think I look like a muppet or something.

Friday, December 16, 2011

In other poop news: the cat

Poop is the big topic around the house these days.  And why should it stop with our daughter when there is another creature who is notable for his waste.  Our cat, Oliver, has been having the driest poops I've ever seen.  It's like they crumble into dust.  There is no moisture whatsoever contained in them.  Given that his preferred water source is the toilet, despite having a nice, new metal water dish, I just shake my head and leave the toilet seat up.  But that should give you an idea that we're not dealing with a rational animal.  Anyway his poop is weird and he needed a well-pet check up so I took him in to the vet earlier this week.

He's 11 years old and back in the day he was known to be FEISTY at the vet.  Like don't go near this animal, you will lose a digit.  Oliver has mellowed in his old age and I do wonder if the energy it takes to fend off an amorous toddler on a daily basis zaps what he'd normally reserve for a vet visit.  He was "chill" initially and even during the vet's physical exam.  She felt his gut and said he was constipated.  She also said sometimes older animals have problems with their anal glands which do something (she explained but I forgot) toward the end of the digestive journey.  Sometimes these glands get clogged and have to be "expressed" or "massaged" or "dealt with" to keep things flowing.

As soon as the vet said "anal glands" and "massaged", I though, 'F-no, I am not dealing with that.  There is enough disgusting bodily fluid and excrement around here...'  I knew about this condition due to some posts my girl Dooce wrote about her dog and they were not fun.  Luckily, the vet staff said they would handle it but for an additional fee.  Whatever--it's well worth it.  They took him away and were going to do this very joyous procedure in another room where I assume there was a sink and they could secure his claws of fury.  Sidney and I waited in the exam room.  A few minutes go by and then loud, unhappy meows bellow down the hall.  Oh man.  But it had to be done.  Then the vet came back in the room after 5-10 minutes and said they now felt he really needed an enema too.

"And you guys are going to do it, right?" I asked.
"Oh yes, right now," she said.
"Well, he's already angry at the world..." I said.

Poor cat.

We were told to come back an hour later after they had done the procedure and cleaned him up.  Evidently he "produced" quite a bit and he was in the most foul mood imaginable.  They warned me not to uncage him near Sidney that evening.  So we gave him a lot of space once we got home but not too long after he was back to normal.

Now he seems like a happier cat these past few days.  They suggested we try to give him some wet food with pumpkin, which helps digestion.  Problem is, this cat is pickier than his mistress and his toddler-sister.  I have 5 different brands of fancy, gluten free, organic cat food with one of the ingredients being pumpkin.  I'm on the 3rd one to see if he'll even take a bite of it.  He doesn't know how lucky he is...the little toilet taster.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Potty Party aka Poop Triumph

(Also seen on Sidneyspage.blogspot.com)

Ken deserves all the credit for the story I'm about to relay.  I was skeptical and discouraging.  

Back in March, Sidney first showed interest in using a potty.  Her casual interest held for a few months and then stopped during the summer.  Ken staged a few pant-less (aka "diaper-less") Saturdays here and there with a few accidents to show for it but no real interest and no real success with getting her to have enough body awareness and muscle control to put it all together.

[Time passes, apathy for potty training (on my part) grows.  Poops get stinkier but I'm not willing to give up the convenience of diapers yet.]

Then just yesterday, Ken decided to try again.  It was pant-less Saturday with Ken keeping a very close eye on her and not letting her on furniture, rugs & beds.  In the morning, they were down in the garage getting something and she began to cry.  When Ken turned around, he found she had peed.  He cleaned her up and consoled her and said if she felt the urge to pee again to tell him and they would just go to the bathroom.  Later she stood looking out of the window and she almost started to cry like that again but stopped.  Ken told her they should go to the bathroom and sit on the potty.  She did and BOOM she peed in the potty.  Good times.

After a diapered nap, she was running pant-less around the house again.  Ken and Sidney were playing in her room with her stuffed animals.  All of a sudden, she walked out of the room and into the dark bathroom and sat on the potty and peed.  No prompting and on her own inspiration.  Excellent work.

We got her dressed and took off to go eat and then to look at Christmas lights.  Upon return, Ken started to get her ready for bed.  She mentioned she wanted to poop so he took her to sit on the potty.  Every time this had happened before, it's been a false alarm.  It's just a ruse to get us to read lots of books to her.  But Ken stayed with her for several minutes, playing with stuffed animals and talking.  Then she made the "poop face" and looked a little concerned, Ken said it was okay if she needed to poop.  She looked down and said, "What is that?"  At this point, I enter the bathroom.  And "that" was one of most gigantic poops I've seen come out of child or adult.  So she pooped on the potty for the first time!  Unbelievable.  We started trying to call grandparents.  We told my dad.  He was thrilled (I think).  It's too late for the East Coast and Mom & Cindy were out so we had to wait until the next day to share the news with the grandmas.

Both Ken and I stand amazed.  It's utterly ridiculous to get so excited but it feels like a major triumph and concrete evidence that she will someday become self-reliant and independent.  It's so cliche, right?  Parents get very, very excited about this milestone.  I even Facebooked it tonight after she had pooped for the second night in a row.  I'm sure people without kids are rolling their eyes at me.  I know pre-mom Kali would have rolled her eyes.  But that was before I had changed hundreds of diapers.  That was before I had touched all manner of human bodily fluids.  So yes, this is a big deal.

It does NOT mean however, that she is now "potty-trained"--it simply means that we are on the road to pantyville.  Giddy up.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Santa...Coming to town?

There is a lot that goes into Christmas as a parent.  It takes mental preparation and dedication to gear up for all of it.  There's the decorating, shopping, parties/events, holiday cards, baking, cooking and explaining what it all means.  

We've punted on the last two Christmases of our daughter's life.  For the first one, she was only three months old and we were just coming out of the sleep deprivation haze.  I didn't have any energy to decorate or get Christmas crazy.  Lucky for us, we spent Christmas in the Portland area and my mother had an especially lovely tree and decorated house.  For the second one, we made the genius decision to move two days after Christmas.  (Take a look at our faces in this post--that about sums it up.)  So there was NO way I was staging Christmas decorations in the middle of that.  But my mother again had a lovely decorated tree & house.  So for a few days we forgot about the chaos that awaited us in Seattle. This year, it's time to get in the swing of things...  

Sidney is taking in all the "Christmafied" environs this year when we go out and about. So I broke out 1/8 of my Christmas decorations and put them around the house.  I only used 1/8th because the majority are *indoor* Christmas tree ornaments.  In our new house, we have a lovely noble fir just growing in the middle of our backyard.  I figured, instead of cutting down a tree and paying $75 for something we will throw out in a month, we should just decorate the outside tree.  So we did.


Christmas means a lot of things but it tends to come down into two major camps: religious (Jesus) or secular (Santa).  Could two concepts be more different?  Up until now we haven't had to worry about what to tell Sidney about Jesus and Santa.  Being a nonreligious household, we don't feel really qualified to explain the Jesus part.  Perhaps we will get a short kids book on it just so she understands the significance.  Or maybe one of her former Catholic school-attending grandmothers can explain it.  To us, the spirit of Christmas season is giving, reflection, celebration and wintertime.  I still hope to install some aspect of active charity or community work but the best we can pull off right now is giving some money to the food banks. (I'm totally open to ideas if anyone has them, btw.)

But the concept of Santa is a tricky one.  Ken and I have mused about our own experiences growing up with the myth of Santa.  At first, it's wonderful and magical, and why wouldn't it be: there's a guy with flying reindeer and a sleigh who brings you presents and knows just what you want.  But eventually, someone tells you or you figure it out and have that crushing realization that Santa doesn't exist.  You then see it was a ruse by all the grown-ups you knew.  Santa might only be the first of many disappointments but it can certainly be the hardest.  I remember at five or six years old figuring it out but I wanted so badly to be wrong.  I used logic to wear my mother down until she finally admitted it.
"How is it possible for Santa to go to very single house in the world?"
"How does he know where everyone lives?"
"How does he have time to do all of it?"
"How does he get into people's houses who don't have chimneys/fireplaces?"
"I looked at our fireplace and he can't fit through it."
I was relentless with my questions and the exhaustion from dealing with my new little brother (and of course me) put her at a distinct disadvantage.  It was a valiant effort on her part to explain things and keep it going but she was ultimately no match for my singularly-focused barrage.  I get it though: from an adult perspective, it's all in good fun and you just try to continue the fantasy for the next generation.

So far, I've sheepishly addressed the concept of Santa and we've been reading the Night Before Christmas.  I'm sure we'll go to sit on his knee this year (I have a Groupon for the Alderwood Mall Santa pics).  I asked her tonight what she'd ask Santa for and she wants a "black candy cane."  Specific and eye-brow raising.  I believe she saw one of these flavored candy canes at the store so it's not too "Nightmare Before Christmas".  Not that she's even seen that movie.  Yet.

We'll see if she's okay with Santa--sort of as a dry run--because my uncle will be making an appearance as Santa on Christmas Eve.  He also did this when my cousin, brother and I were little kids.  Santa will likely give her just a few small gifts.  As discussed yesterday with a fellow mom, if Santa gets all the credit for the big, expensive gift, it's like this stranger she hardly knows gets all the glory.  We can't have that.  To Be Continued...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's wrong with Breaking Dawn? An exercise in irony

Don't tell me, you saw the latest Twilight movie on opening weekend too?!

Sure it was bad and based on an even worse book but I'm not going to apologize for going.  I consider the effort a fact-finding mission.  A fact-finding mission with eye-rolling and serious-moments-turned-comical.  I just had to see for myself how they did the baby delivery scene.  I listened to the audio book of Breaking Dawn right after my daughter was born in 2009.  Imagine a new mom rocking her newborn daughter to sleep in the dark while her white iPod earbuds spew this s**t forth.  And even after knowing what real birth was like, I was horrified by what happened in Breaking Dawn.  It's just fiction, right?  It's just human-vampire [not real] babies being born--but still.  STILL.  I thought this book was simply unfilmable because of the home-birth vampire cesarean scene.  But here we are.  

Knowing this gruesome depiction of childbirth was in the movie did not stop hoards of teen girls from being there.   Because it's balanced out by, you know, dudes with no shirts on and only the most frustratingly antiseptic love scene that only the entire series has been building up to.  But I think the number of giddy teenagers present saturated the air with hormones and I kid you not, at one point when the teens in our row were laughing/shrieking about something during the movie, an older (post-menopausal) woman turned around and told them to get ahold of themselves.  That's why you go to a Twilight movie on opening weekend: for the drama.

I attended the spectacle with my trusty Twilight research colleague, Amy, who makes anything 10x more hilarious.  Even in a pitch black theater, I can feel when she turns to me and gives an open-mouth WTF look. Which she did often.

Basically the overriding message of Twilight is that sex should be feared, getting married is a drag, the honeymoon is horrifying and pregnancy/delivery is a downright apocolyptic bloody nightmare.  But this view doesn't just come out of thin air.  I'm no psychologist but "someone" (Stephenie Meyer, I am looking at you) might want to get their issues addressed.  Just saying.

Here are a few other morsels of ridiculousness that I've been reveling in since last Saturday:

Throughout the series and in this movie, Bella looks like she's about to vomit AND hasn't taken a s**t in several days.  That's talented acting or the first trimester of a real pregnancy.

There is a vampire with braces (From Alaska no less)  in the wedding scene.  Seriously.  Who does her ortho and how do they not get bitten?

Doesn't every small town doctor have the latest medical equipment and x-ray/ultrasound machines just laying around the homestead?  Carlisle does. (And Tom Cruise) And don't forget that stash of O Negative blood he keeps in a house full of vampires.

Imprinting, the werewolf equivalent of love at first sight, will be further explored in the next movie  since Jacob "imprinted" on Bella's infant daughter.  According to the book, the girl will not physically age past 7.  So basically you have a 19 year old guy and a 7 year old girl who are eventually going to be sexually attracted to each other.  Yeah, that's normal--nothing freaky or weird about that, right?  Stephenie, again I think you need to deal with some of your issues.

So will I be going to Breaking Dawn 2 (the last movie of this cringe worthy series) next year on opening weekend?  Certainly.  If nothing else, to be a witness to the crazy and add more fuel to the fire.  Burn, baby, burn.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Half Marathon Warriors

Picture from Kay's phone after the race.
Today the Seattle Half and Full Marathon were held on its typical Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Who knows why someone thought it was good to hold an event like this in Seattle in November.  (August or September are too temperate evidently?)  It rained today with 50 degree weather.  (But the first time Ken did this, it snowed so this was a vast improvement.)  Ken, brother Ed and Ed's girlfriend Kay braved the elements and the hills making good finishing times.  Ken beat big brother Ed (again) so hopefully this will settle the dispute of who is the fastest.  Though I have already been hearing plans to start training for the next race competition.  Oh boy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts

Do brine the turkey for moist, flavorful meat.

Don’t depend on pop up timers or non-numerical thermometers which only indicates “done” or “not done”--they are worthless.  Use an oven safe, numbered one.  160 degrees throughout!

Do get a fresh bird (not frozen).

Don’t buy 10 lbs of potatoes for mashed potatoes when serving dinner for 4 adults.  Anyone want some?  We have extra.

Do use an electric knife for carving to get as much of the meat off of the carcass and to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome.  (Thanks Uncle Ed for ours!)

Don’t expect pre-made gravy to be free of chicken stock/base.  In trying to keep it simple, we bought gravy from the same butcher we got the turkey from.  Passable but disappointing.

Do employ initial hot temperature browning then reduced temperature cooking for primo outcome.

Don’t use 6-year-old pineapple juice you found in the back of the cabinet in your fancy cranberry sauce recipe.  While you will be fine, it will taste too acidic and you’ll blame yourself for days for “ruining” an otherwise perfect meal.

Do consult Alton Brown DVD for tips and assurance that helped first-timers like us cook an awesome turkey.

Don’t leave the giblet bag inside the turkey.  We ended up cooking ours inside the turkey INSIDE the plastic bag they came in.  The lesson:  if you don’t find it at first, look again--it’s in there.

Do get everyone in the family involved in the process.  Makes great memories and inspires appreciation of what it takes to make a Thanksgiving feast possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Gift Guides for Babies & Toddlers

It's mid-November now and that means holiday shopping is in full swing.  Have you been to the mall lately?  <shudder>  There's a lot of pressure giving gifts these days.  It's almost like the process of picking the gift is almost as important as the gift itself.  With the economy and general mood, it can be a little heady because you really want to hit that sweet spot of something a) uber useful b) completely fitting/appropriate c) doesn't require taking out a loan (even if you could get one.)

Allow me to help you out a little or at least give you some ideas.  As my daughter Sidney has grown from a newborn to a bustling toddler, I have kept track of the items that have delighted and challenged her.  Fellow moms with younger kids sometimes ask me about recommendations and, as we all know, I love to make lists.

So here are my holiday gift recommendations for the various ages birth-3 years.  They will also be on my sidebar until further notice for quick linking.

(If I can get inspired, I may do a gift guide for Moms but I'm really just waiting for when you can buy units of sleep via Amazon Prime.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Great Indoors for Seattle Toddlers

To live in Seattle, is to accept that it rains a lot and going outside nine months of the year requires bundling up and/or precautions to keep dry.  As an adult, you can go one way or the other: become an outdoor-loving mossback or just embrace your inner-hermit and take refuge inside.  (I am the latter at heart which clearly disappoints my hiking-fiend of a father.)  

The weather is beginning to turn so that means caregivers of small children have to load up their arsenal of potential places to take stir-crazy kids.

Here are my favorite indoor destinations for Toddlers (in random order):

Third Place Commons (Lake Forest Park):  I wrote up a profile on this place on Red Tricycle earlier this year.  Food Court, play area, bookstore, super cool community space with a unique vibe.  And a photo booth.

Nurturing Pathways (Phinney Ridge): We have done this dance and movement class for 3-4 sessions and love the connections between movement and brain development that the instructor discusses as we do fun, interesting activities.  I suggest the class at Phinney Ridge taught by Christine, the founder.  

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (Ravenna): Great indoor tot play room that is big with lots of cars, trikes, toys and things to do plus a fantastic outdoor play area if the weather's nice.  Tot room has a schedule and costs $2/kid to enter.

Twirl Cafe (Queen Anne): Pay-to-play space with food.  A good option when wanting to stay central to the city.

Vios Cafe (Capitol Hill): Greek Restaurant and one of the best indoor play areas I've ever seen in an eatery.

Mosaic Coffeehouse (Wallingford): In the basement of a church with it's own separate entrance.  Large, well-equipped play area.  Food/drink is a pay-what-you-want set up.

Children's Museum (Queen Anne): We have never been personally but we know plenty of parents who love this place.

Kids Quest Museum (Factoria):  We made the trek to the Eastside for this.  A little spendy but totally worth it.  So much to do and see--very unique.  Get there early.

Shoreline Library Storytime (Shoreline): Definitely a drive but it is hands down the best story time we've been to.  Songs, interaction, take home papers with letter of the day, music.  And it's FREE.

Central Market (Shoreline): They have mini-carts that the kids can push.  A fun, interesting place to roam around in with live crab & lobster tanks, a huge salad bar and hot lunch options.  While you're there, pick up groceries or stuff for dinner.  Two-fer!

Seattle Aquarium (Waterfront): We received a membership as a gift and we make the most of it.  They have a program called Toddler Time that does activities just for kids under 5 years.

Om Kids Play Gym (Wallingford): This has been recommended to us but we have yet to go.  Looks like a playspace with things and instructors to interact with.  Have heard from two sources that it's pretty cool.

Issaquah Community Center (Issaquah): Toddler (1-3 years) indoor playground (8am-Noon weekdays) with lots of trikes, cars and active toys for $2/kid.

If there are any other favorites, please feel free to post in the comments section. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pacific Science Center and Storm Preparedness

Announcing my latest Red Tricycle article on visiting the Pacific Science Center and getting winter storm prepared.  With the weather changing and winter on it way, it's smart to be ready.  A big thanks to Karen Rich who inspired the story idea and for all the information about TakeWinterByStorm.org.

The article is HERE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Honey Badger

"Honey Badger don't care. Honey Badger don't give a sh*t." One of the funniest things I've come across in a long time.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Japanese Family Dinner

Back when I was 9 or 10, I can remember dinners out with my Japanese side of the family.  We always met up in the banquet rooms of Chinese restaurants.  You might be asking why would Japanese people do this and I have no idea.  I did like Chinese food at that time so I did not complain.  (I now find it too greasy, salty and "sauced," but I digress.)  We met up with my many great-aunts and uncles, 1st and 2nd cousins and occasionally my grandpa and grandma (if the were visiting) to talk, drink tea and eat lots of Chow Mein.   Speaking of Chow Mein, I've still never learned how to make it.  But I hear there are culinary classes from accredited online colleges available, so definitely worth checking out.

My younger brother and I were usually the only children present so we had to entertain ourselves.  It being the 80's and pre-Gameboy or iPhone, our options were limited to playing with the chopsticks, slowly sucking up our soda with a straw, making sugar packet forts or drawing on the paper placemat with Dad's check writing pen or just wandering around the table/room/restaurant.  When an elder would catch us in their eye line, they'd try to have a conversation with us.  Everyone always asked about school which is part Asian cliche, part standard protocol when talking to a school-aged kid.  But it didn't take long to list off what we were doing and kids don't give a rip about what adults like so the conversation pretty much fizzled out.  There would be an uncomfortable silence and then they'd turn to the nearest adult and start talking again.

The Japanese folks were a lot less raucous and emotive than my Italian relations but they could still surprise you.  Once my great uncle Walter ordered a fancy drink but at age 9, I had never seen anything like it before.  To me, it looked like water in a triangular, stemmed glass.
So I leaned over and said, "Is that water?"
He said, "Yes!" (a bit to enthusiastically I should have noted)
"Can I have some?" I asked.
"Sure," he said as he slid it over.
I took a big mouthful which was okay for a second and then as I swallowed, it BURNED all the way down.  Oh yes, that would be a gin martini.  My normally reserved uncle howled with laughter and some of my other relations flashed a knowing smile.  I gulped down my own water as fast as I could to wash the taste out of my mouth and I never asked to try his drinks again.  Sure, it's not nice to trick children who trust you but I have to admit that was pretty funny.

So last Saturday, I found myself at a long table with many of my Japanese relations seated across and next to me.  Earlier that day, my family celebrated the life of my great uncle Bill who passed away in late September.  Ken and I were not at that earlier event but we were very eager to be at this dinner. It was in a Thai restaurant which fit the prerequisite of an Asian-cuisine-laden-in-sauces-that-is-not-Japanese. Only this time I was not a kid any more and ended up asking my younger cousin how school was going.  Sidney proceeded to wander around the table as my brother and I once did.  It's like this has happened before and will happen again.  The cast of characters has certainly changed.

Now you can pick your ending:

But nothing says family like having a good meal together, reminiscing about those no longer with us and introducing the next generation to this tradition.

But nothing says family like Dad & cousins comparing receding hairlines, dealing with a toddler who won't eat anything and tracking the UW vs. UO game on Smartphones during dinner.

The cousins: Euge, Ken, Steve

Dad gives Sidney some coconut ice cream,
one of the few things she would actually eat that night.

Cousin Ali meets Sidney for the first time.

Ali holding Sidney.  Ali and Sidney both have dads who are called 'Ken Sakai'.
But only of them is actually named that.  

Great Uncle Hank & Great Aunt Juli.
Juli was later styling in her "hot" Juicy Couture hat (not pictured).   True story.

Riyo & George

Max & Rosanne

Little brother with cousin Dave and Great Aunt Susie

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Remembering Auntie Rosie

Today, we lost a dear, lovely lady in our family.  My great-aunt Rose who was my grandmother's sister passed away this morning, surrounded by her children.

She was always very chipper, easy-going and optimistic.  One of my earliest memories of her is visiting her and Skipper, her dog.  He loved these little "hot dog-like biscuits" call Snausauges.  During one of our visits when I was 4 or 5, I was allowed to give him one.  I decided to sample one also and to my surprise IT TASTED AWESOME!  From then on, I equated going to Auntie Rosie's house with getting to eat, straight from the box, these amazing "crackers" that were really dog treats.  My mother and aunt just let me go to town on them like they were Nilla Wafers.  I don't begrudge it though--they were delicious.

All joking aside, it is truly a loss that I have not come to terms with yet.  Rose was the closest thing to a grandmother that we/I had left on this side of the family.  She was so excited about Sidney and always lit up when she saw her at family functions.  Auntie would always want to hold and play with Sidney and had such a caring way about her.  (You can just see it in the picture below.)  It made the absence of my own grandmother just a little easier, knowing that her younger sister Rose was doing an outstanding job filling in.  RIP Auntie.  We will miss you.

Christmas 2009

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011

Sidney's costume this year was a triumph in procurement. While my mother used to make many of our costumes and was amazing at turning fanciful ideas into reality, sewing is not my core competence. So I had to start early and be on the look out for ideas. I think by late spring early summer I bought Sidney's antennae headpiece. I loved it so much and built her entire costume around it. Next I found that little dress on the internet on clearance and it came with the lamest set of wings I've ever seen.  So I found another set of wings on the internet but when they arrived I realized they were for adults and too big & heavy for her.  Then a few weeks ago while trolling around in Target I happened into the costume section "just to see" and wouldn't you know it?  Perfect purple wings with the curly ends and everything.  Looks like the headpiece and wings are a set but they weren't.  Score!  The downside of those wings are those curled ends: they grab on everything so she has to have a 4 foot radius of open air.

This Halloween we went up to Queen Anne to participate in their neighborhood trick-or-treat event.  I know, we don't even live there, it's scandalous!  But we were with our friends the Testas.  They joined us last year in Ballard for our neighborhood trick-or-treat event.  Up on Queen Anne at their neighborhood event where you go from store to store, it was pretty crowded and there were some kids who were 10-12 years old who were like velociraptors and as our little toddlers would approach a person with a bowl giving out candy, these kids would rush up in front of them nearly knocking them over and crowding them out.  Seriously, there's enough candy for all of you--take it easy.  In all honesty, Max & Sidney will not get to eat most of their bounty this year (that's what we're for) but at least they got the experience so they can sharpen their elbows for next Halloween.

And on top of that a gal from one of the coffee shops had all the candy in a glass jar and was sitting outside the shop, holding it on her lap.  I passed her then I heard a loud crash and felt something hit the heel of my boot.  I looked back and saw the glass jar had shattered on the ground with candy scattered among the very sharp pieces.  (I'm still not sure what caused her to drop it.)  Ken and other adults helped pick up the chunks of glass as there were a lot.  Once that was done, "the velociraptors" moved in and started taking the candy that was still littered among the smaller glass fragments because no one could grab a broom fast enough.  But the gal working there was actually letting them take it.  This would be THE scenario where I would say checking for foreign objects in trick-or-treat bounty is a good idea.

(Also posted on Sidney's Page)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Please, Thank you, You're Welcome

Just in time for Halloween when complete strangers are handing candy to your children.  Now what do we say?

The foibles of parents can create blind spots for kids and even as a parent when you want to provide broad, correct and useful guidance--sometimes you can't get out of your own way to see that you are biased.  Case in point: niceties.

Please, Thank you, You're Welcome.  Are they necessary to get you what you want in life?  Yes.  Are they what civilized, enlightened people say to one another?  Yes.  Do they expend extra energy & time to say and sometimes smack of formality and expose weakness?  Yes.  Back in college, when I was learning to direct television programs and television news especially--there was no "please."  There were short, barked commands and then magically stuff got done.  I loved that because my dad was right, I was put on this planet to boss people around.  Well someone has to do it.

In raising a 2-year-old, economy of words has worked fine especially since she's just learning to talk.  She'd say with escalating panic:
"Where monkey, where monkey?" "Here," I say as I automatically hand the stuffed animal to her.
"Want raisins!"and I hand her the box, as she snatches it and runs away.
"More milk!" and I simply hand her the cup.
She expressed what she wanted/needed, I understood, I fulfilled.  This is my life.

But perhaps I've been programmed to give and simply accept orders because that is "what Kali would do."  (WWKD?) When Sidney was able to start putting correct nouns and verbs together a few months ago, we were absolutely thrilled.  If it was an acceptable action or desire, we just did it.  We didn't put any emphasis on niceties because it would just complicate matters.  This is not to say that I didn't use niceties ever.  I did and do.  If she does something I ask or gives me something, I thank her and God knows I ask her to do things with "please" and then employ a mountain of patience that I didn't know I possessed.  I have never said "please" so much nor waited so long as she decides she wants to come over and put her shoes on.  But I digress.

A few weeks ago, one of our toddler friends was visiting us with his parents.  His most excellent manners became immediately self-evident when he said "thank you" every time he received something.  Ken and I were impressed and a little alarmed.  Sidney is 2 months older than him with a firm vocabulary but this polite behavior does not happen.  Ken was all concerned, "We need to work on this!"

The final straw was a week ago at preschool co-op when after inhaling her first helping of grapes, dry cereal and cut strawberries, Sidney proclaimed, "More gwapes! More gwapes!" To which my response was to just reach for the spoon and start dumping more grapes on her napkin.  As soon as I started doing that, a mom who was right next to me looked at Sidney and said in a saccharinely sweet sing-song, smack down voice, "What's the magic word?"  I froze.  Oh snap--Sidney (and I) just got "pwned" by another mom.  It burns, it burns!

So here we are in "nicety bootcamp" where even I am having to remember that every exchange, every request, every action probably requires one of these things to be said.  But Sidney is on to us and now will roll through the list hoping that one of them works "peese-tankoo-welcome?"  That's my girl, efficiency at it's best.

(Also posted on Sidney's Page and Broowaha.com)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trick or Treating in Seattle

I recently complied a list of trick-or-treating spots around the Puget Sound area and tried to push North, East, West and South for a more inclusive set of events.

Be sure to check it out on Red Tricycle HERE.

Everyone have a fun, safe and bountiful Halloween!

Sidney from Halloween 2010 during the Ballard/Market Street Trick-or-Treat event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Symphony Rules 2

Last week, Ken and I went to the Symphony and saw the new music director/principal conductor Ludovic Morlot.  As I mentioned in my prior post about the Symphony, he is 37, and his influence can already be felt, despite the fact we attended the Sonic Evolution program in which we expecting a whole different type of crowd. The program paid homage to Kurt Cobain, Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix then featured a KEXP darling called Hey Marseilles with the backing of the orchestra so the audience skewed way younger than I have ever seen it.  And the energy was electrifying.  To have people our age and younger all around us was a rare treat at the symphony.
But another rare experience was having 3 living composers provide works that were debuted in front of a live audience and then have them come up on stage and take bows.  That was how the masters in the Classical music collective did it, I guess.  But let me be honest: modern composers have such a plight not to be derivative of the masters, push the symphonic construct to the edge and be distinct.  It's a tall order when you consider a lot of brilliant, listenable music already exists in 2011.  So they create musical landscapes that are layered, discordant and unique--only as far as no one with musical education has thought to put these certain sounds together.  Excuse my vulgarness, but the three pieces--especially the Jimi Hendrix and the Kurt Cobain tributes--seemed like musical masturbation.  Formless, self-indulgent and not nearly as satisfying as the real thing.  Still, it is a triumph to have new blood, new attendees, new interest and new music filling Benaroya Hall.  Hey Marseilles, amply backed by the full orchestra, was breath-taking even if it might be a bit unorthodox.  Despite my opinion though, I fully support Maestro Morlot for taking chances and making the old new again.  I look forward to more that will probably test my comfort level and expectations.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

F**king Tea!

As my 500th post, why not?
I can't begin to explain how much I love this video. Yes I am a tea drinker.
(Language NSFW obviously--so put your headphones on)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Highlights of the 5th Year of Evidently...

Topics are all over the map for this roundup but in retrospect, it was a great year with lots of surprises and experiences. Splitting my time between Sidney's Blog, Evidently and RedTricycle.com filled up my writer's cup. But distractions like Facebook and Twitter proved too tempting for some of my more impulsive rants and splintered my focus a bit. I hope to work on that this year.

Issues & Current Events
4/2011 Financial Literacy Month: Resource Roundup (Info you can use)
4/2011 Living in one of the Whitest Cities (Portland & Seattle, #1 and #5)
9/2011 WDS Tries to Take Over the World (Dental Insurance coup d'etat)

Thoughts on Art & Entertainment
10/2010 Battlestar Galactica Exhibit @ EMP (BSG up close and personal)
4/2011 The Symphony (It has rules, even if you don’t know them)
10/2011 Music Recommendations (There are albums & there are ALBUMS)

Fame & the Famous
10/2010 Alan Wilder (Teenage Dreams and Techno music)
10/2010 Dave Matthews (Carry your rewards card to avoid detection)
1/2011 In Memoriam: Jack LaLanne (Inspirational but not much taller)
4/2011 Internet impersonation and insta-fame (Daily Show, my photo & lies)
9/2011 Radio Ga-ga (Parenting lessons by way of internet scam baiting)
9/2011 Ken written up in the Financial Times (Ken talks to the British)

Parenting Stuff
1/2011 Febrile Seizure (Scariest s**t ever)
6/2011 Immunize (I believe in science and so should you.  Yeah, I said it.)
9/2011 Favorite Toys for 2 year olds (Need gift ideas?)
9/2011 Yoga Momma (Best Mom-only activity)
9/2011 Domestic Enemies of Prius Mom (Mommyland represent!)
9/2011 HFM Disease (More catchy than Lady Gaga)

10/2010 Wenatchee (Scratchy Wenatchee--we love you)
10/2010 Flat Stanley (Have Stanley will travel)
5/2011 Ohio (Where “real” Americans live and my friend Anne)
6/2011 Victoria Part 1 & Part 2 (First time away from the child)
8/2011 Alberta Canada: Arrival, Banff, Orange Cup (Breathtaking)

Grab Bag
1/2011 New Roof part 1 & part 2 (And you thought tuck pointing was bad...)
6/2011 Embarrassing Personal Stories--Gifts (Making excuses)
7/2011 Angela & Jaime: Wedding & Honeymoon sendoff (Happily ever...)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Letter to Sidney for her 2nd Birthday

I just received the 2010-2011 "baby book" that I make from Sidney's blog where I have the year's worth of entries and photos printed into a physical book so that we can thumb through and viscerally experience it in trying to be like other crafty, scrap-booking moms.  I have no gift for scrap-booking so this is as good as it gets.  But in looking through it, I reread this entry and wanted to share it on my own blog. Originally, I had posted this on 9/12/2011 a few days after Sidney's 2nd birthday.  This letter-form was inspired by Dooce.com and her monthly/yearly letters to her daughters which capture milestones, current events and thoughts in that particular time.


Dear Sidney,
You just turned 2 and none of us can believe it.  You are so much a little girl and so less a baby that I think we now believe all those sage parents who advised us to cherish every moment of your young life because it floats away.  But I'll be honest, I love this age on you.  Nothing gets by you and I'm sure you pick up a lot more of our adult conversations than you let on.  Your vocabulary and ability to mimic sounds has exploded.  I credit your father with his diligent (yet exhaustive) work with you on your annunciation.  I am prone to correct you but let things go by because I figure you'll get it eventually and for one aspect of your upbringing, I will not be the hard-ass. 

Ugh, there I go using adult language again.  Speaking of which, your father is bound to throw some at me when he hears about this: while he was on his run today, I was flipping through some online photos about the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  (That will be something we'll explain to you later.) You were completely engrossed in a puzzle or something which is why I thought I could get away with looking at them.  Suddenly I landed on a photo of a person falling from one of the towers.  I must have made a noise because you looked over and immediately said, "That man outside building."  Did I mention *nothing* gets by you?  Yes, I am a bad mommy for even having those pictures in your eye-line.  But I just said, "Yes and one day I'll tell you more about it."  You seemed unfazed and returned to your puzzle.  I realized right then that this parenting thing, as your cognition and understanding improves, is going to be such a balancing act.  Because for all the brutality and horror in the world there is also beauty and light and magic.  It's important to me that you gradually understand that all of it exists in the world. 

You yourself are such a source of pure joy and delight. I know that you are only 2 but I can sense that you are funny, fearless and empathetic.  I see how you have embraced going to family swim times with you Dad and by proxy overcome your fear of showering or being in a shower.  You give your PEPS friends hugs and ask about them when they are not around.  Your infatuation with orange cup, yellow marker, your plastic dinos, monkey man, Baby Paul, certain puzzle pieces and the story of Ping the Duck fascinates and frustrates us--especially when we can't find an item you NEED right that moment.  But mostly the fact you're forming attachments to things and people let's us peek at the buds of your personality.  The things we care about say a great deal about who we are. 

Your birthday party this past weekend was combined with our Summer BBQ event this year.  We tried to keep it on the smaller side because we did all the food this year, instead of a potluck.  It was still a good-sized crowd and I think 12-13 of your little friends (plus their parents) were here.  That's a lot of kids running around YOUR house, playing with YOUR toys and generally reeking havoc.   But you seemed to feed off the energy of all the people and enjoy being social.  Maybe you will grow up to love parties (uh-oh).  I'm really glad we got to celebrate up in Seattle this year with the friends you see the most as well as having your Portland-area grandparents on hand.  But mostly I'm glad your Daddy was here (and not hiking the Grand Canyon) to light your candle, play with you on the lawn and see how much fun you had as we celebrated you. 

I could go on and on but I have to get to bed.  Your Grandma Cindy took some amazing pictures of the day which I will post tomorrow and for that I am truly thankful for those memories.  Happy Birthday once again.  We love you and look forward to another year of wonderment with you.

Much love,