Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hot Stuff

I've picked on Baby Led Weaning plenty - and it deserves to be picked on, because it never delivered on its promise of teaching a kid how to eat all kinds of fun and exciting adult foods, such as anything that isn't cheese or pasta related - and while I still spend WAY too much time cleaning up all kinds of squishy, crunchy, smeary food off the dining room floor after every meal, there is one thing that it has taught Edie to do.  And it's something that I value quite a bit.

That woman can eat some heat.

Finn has never been fond of hot foods - neither caliente or picante.  He will immediately spit out anything that is even approaching hot in temperature, even if it hasn't actually touched his tongue, based purely on an offhand mention that it might be hot or the presence of a single wisp of steam.  He's slightly better with spicy, making a single concession to my love of spicy foods by sharing 1, maybe 2, but no more than 3 JalapeƱo potato chips with me.  Anything more than that will result in cries of "too spicy!" and maybe some tears.

I'll bet Edie could drink Finn's tears if I were to boil them for 30 minutes.  I'm not sure she has any temperature receptors in her mouth at all.  Where Finn would cringe, Edie looks me dead-in-the-eye and matter of factly shovels more scorching hot food into her open cry-hole, while mentioning in a slightly bored fashion, "hot."

Not having to spend 15 minutes blowing on each bite of luke warm pasta is nice, but I've been leery about really unleashing the spicy on her.   This hesitation is apparently unwarranted.

While the family was on a beautiful fall excursion a couple of weekends ago at one of Seattle's prettier parks, Kubota Garden, we took a moment to check out a koi pond in which a turtle was sunning himself.  It was a great view, so I let go of Edie's hand for a second so I could snap off a couple of pictures.  I turned around to call her to come up to the pond for a look and that's when another idyllic sight struck me:  Edie with a dirty, half-empty Taco Bell hot sauce packet hanging out of her mouth.

As I screamed, dropping my camera and rushing over to wipe the disgusting red goo off of her face, her hands and her shirt, she just stood there, looking calmly at me, as if to say:

"Who's the baby now, old man?"

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What's Your Damage, Edie?

If the anecdotal evidence poured into our ears by our friends as we prepared for child #2 was to be believed, Edie was guaranteed to be the polar opposite of her brother - destined to be completely chill, to enjoy entertaining herself for hours, and to be potty trained by week 2.  Of course, our friends are all drunks, so it was not at all surprising when Edie turned out as a 150% more hyper version of her already insane brother.


But then something happened.  The ship turned.  Or maybe our memory of Finn's maturation is faulty, but she is now totally happy sitting in the corner by herself, eating rocks and writing on the wall with crayons.

Maybe she developed self-reliance when we weren't looking.  Or maybe she developed it because we weren't looking.  

It's not perfect.  Like I said, she draws on the walls, the furniture, me and Kitty, and the cats - which was a habit Finn never picked up - and she does it while staring directly at us, and smiling.  So, while she's cool hanging out by herself, she's also kind of a jerk.  But a confident, self-reliant jerk - the world will be her oyster.  

At daycare, Edie has two little friends, both born within a month of her.  Her daytime Mommy informed us the other day that she is now the "ringleader" of this tiny little adorable gang.  

That is an absolutely terrifying prospect.  My daughter is turning into a Heather.

I wonder if she'll be sitting in her college dining hall, throwing whatever food she doesn't like onto the floor while staring her dining companions dead in the eyes over threats of "time-outs"?  Or still be expressing her feelings in a reasonable and measured way, by punching the guy who lovingly picks her up at the end of a long day directly in the face?

Actually, as long as that guy is no longer me, I might be ok with that.  You go, Edie.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kicking & Screaming

As Derek Jeter plays his last game as a Yankee, I am forced to simultaneously confront two harsh realities:

  1. I'm getting really freaking old
  2. Finn has not done a very good job of positioning himself as Jeter's heir apparent.
The former is not news and the latter is not surprising, though it's not for want of trying.  My patented instruction-through-yelling technique may be world renowned, but it has strangely not proven effective in Finn's case.  Perhaps I'm just not yelling hard enough.

And so it was that with a goal of significantly increasing the amount of spittle flying out of my mouth and veins popping out of neck that we signed Finn up for fall soccer.  For some reason, he didn't seem overly excited - as in, didn't want anything to do with it - until I promised that unlike in Little League, I wouldn't be coaching soccer and therefore wouldn't be standing directly behind him for 5 innings, criticizing the way he was kicking the infield dirt.  Suddenly, he was open to the idea.

Lucky for Finn, I know absolutely nothing about soccer - which apparently separates me from every other dad at the field, based on the "encouraging" screams of criticism coming from all sides.   I don't want to sound like a hippie, but man, these dudes need to lighten up.  I've significantly rethought my approach toward sporting with Finn based on just three games and Kitty and I have decided that from here on out, we would be nothing but supportive and would maintain realistic expectations.

Given that Finn has never played soccer before and his initial approach to the game appears to involve circling any ball in play from a distance of no closer than 30 feet and/or carefully considering all balls kicked directly to him for such a period of time as to allow anyone to come along and kick it away, realistic expectations are a must.  Our goal today?  Just kick the ball.  Any ball.  In any direction.  And kick it hard.

And you know what?  He did.  Like six times.  The ball didn't go anywhere near the goal, but he couldn't be happier and therefore, neither could we.  I gave a him a standing ovation as he exited the porta-potty, but for some reason, he wasn't as into that.

I think we're gonna like this soccer thing.

At least until it starts raining.  Which should be right about... now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Walkin'

While it's awesome that Finn's new school is only a drunken hop, skip and a broken ankle away from our house, the downside for lazy ol' me is that we're now actually TOO CLOSE to catch a ride with the school bus.  Not only does this mean that Finn is missing a golden opportunity to get bullied by the big kids in the back of the bus while they sit around smoking "My First E-Cigs", it's actually kind of tricky getting him to school.  It's a little too far to walk - what with that one hill and all - and while we can easily drive him, the traffic patterns approaching that school in the morning look like the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan during rush hour.

To avoid starting our morning sweating and/or screaming at each other over our inability to find parking while one of us is kicking the back of the others' seat, we opted for another route.  We're doing the Walking School Bus!

Pros of the walking school bus:

  • Sick reflective vests!
  • Meeting and getting to know all of the neighbor kids at school within a 4 block radius
  • Ability to drop Finn at the curb 20 mins before we would normally be able to drop him off at school
Cons of the walking school bus:
  • Apparently awesome perks like this require "parents" who will "volunteer" as walking school bus "drivers"
I was ready to totally walk away from the deal on that condition, but Kitty - being a sucker - volunteered us.  The plan is for us to alternate one day a week, but we both know that this means that I'll fake a cold or a leg injury or ebola and Kitty will do most of the work. 

Today was my day, so since this was my first, I happily agreed to walk the bus, after Kitty happily informed me that I'd be walking the bus.  And I'm glad that I had that idea, because it was a lot of fun.  Between my wealth of knowledge of Charlie Brown characters and my seemingly inexhaustible inventory of stories about getting pooped on by birds, the kids and I got along famously.  Sure I couldn't stop them from hitting each other in the face with sticks and maybe one of them almost stepped in dog poop on my watch, and OK, I may have kind of forcefully pushed them along a couple of times to keep them moving, but it was still awesome.

As I sat sipping my coffee at the playground waiting for the bell to ring and watching them play, I couldn't help but think of all of those sucker parents sitting in their cars, already on conference calls, that were missing out on the best moments of their kids' lives.

And then I realized how cold it was, right as it began to rain.  As I was walking back up the hill that seemed to have grown 500 ft in the past twenty minutes, I came to the following conclusion:  I think I'll have ebola next week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to the Grind

Confidential to G:  How old was your son when
he learned how to do this?  I'll bet he was in
high school or something.  My kid is 6.
As my liver was nice enough to inform me roughly 45 minutes before total organ shutdown, summer
is over.  Finn's first day at his new school was last Wednesday and it gives me great pleasure to announce that as of today - 4 days in - he has not yet announced how much he hates school.

In Finn terms, that's a ringing endorsement for the new joint.

I think it's safe to say that we're all eager to get back into a pattern after a whirlwind summer and it would appear that the Unteachable Child is ready to learn.  After fighting it every step of the way throughout the summer, Finn finally decided to learn how to swim on the last day of the pool's season.  On his own.  After refusing to practice reading all summer, he happily read a couple of pages with me tonight.

Of course, the book was about Star Wars and we told him his teacher had assigned it as homework, but there was no complaining.  It was amazing.

And he'd better be ready to learn about Lego Robotics too, because I introduced myself to the joys of public school parenting by lining up before school this morning and throwing some mean elbows to get myself into prime position in the afternoon enrichment program sign-up line, where Lego Robotics spots were going like hot cakes.  I apologize in advance if you're one of the moms that I chop-blocked to beat you to the sign-up sheet, but it had to be done.  I'm just a better parent than you.

To help prep for school, Finn decided to lay some learning on me last weekend on a trip to the dump.  His lesson was titled "Six Things You Need to Know About Garbage... No Wait, Seven Things" and it went something like this:

Things 1-3:  The Three Types of Garbage
1.  Yard Waste - waste from your yard
2.  Recycling - metal and glass and stuff
3.  Garbage - everything else

Things 4-6: The Lifecycles of Garbage
4.  Yard Waste - yard waste starts out in your yard and then is turned to compost and then goes back to your yard
5.  Recycling - recycling starts out as stuff and then is recycled and turned back into other stuff
6.  Garbage - garbage is buried and then turns into a field

Thing 7:  You can take things from the dump if you want
7.  You can take things from the dump if you want - provided it hasn't already turned into a field

I was with him up until point 6, but that's where we had to agree to disagree.  Upon review of the items at the dump, he also rethought point 7.

Even though we weren't exactly on the same page throughout that lesson, one thing is certain, his new school smells a lot better than that particular classroom.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Deadhead Sticker on a Cadillac

As the summer winds down, with Don Henley playing softly in the background, and as we sit here labeling the ridiculous amount of school supplies that we need to purchase for our public school because apparently writing checks is not something that you get away from when you quit private school, it is time to reflect.  Also because I'm drinking.  And that's what you do when you've been drinking.  All summer.

Things that I won't miss:

  • Edie's ridiculous teething.  Apparently, Edie's teeth hate her with a white hot passion that defies reason itself.  I don't recall Finn's teething being this painful, but then again, I recall very little about Finn's childhood.  Biology is awesome.
  • Traveling on a plane with an 18-month old.  Having to decide between the poor guy in front of Edie whose seat she couldn't stop kicking and the entire plane, who would've borne the brunt of her screaming should I grab her feet, was a prisoner's dilemma I did not relish.  And for the record, sorry to the dude in front of Edie.  Although I refused to make eye contact with you for the entirety of our flight from Newark to Seattle, I was mentally buying you a drink.  In my head.
  • Drinking.  In particular, the (apparently) annual "drinking of the moonshine" back in NY.  Boy, do I need a break.

Things that I will miss:
  • Seeing the family and having an amazing time watching everyone connect as the kids get older.  Edie's inability to sleep on vacations is offset by her inability to not charm everyone that she meets.  And my son's bravery continues to astound me - how many 6 year olds do you know that have ridden in a helicopter and a biplane (pictured above)?
  • Summertime "lessons" from Finn, including the one I received today titled "7 things you need to know about garbage" which will form the basis for my next post.  It's life changing, yo.
  • Sunshine.  This is Seattle, after all.

So even though we've got a few more weeks before the rains begin, summer is over and it's time to get back to reality.   And that reality will start with Finn's first day of his new school on Wednesday and the beginning of the Seahawks next Super Bowl winning season on Thursday.

Summer was weird this year, being both awesome and hard, and I'd sum it up the same way my dad and I summed up the trip back East:  "It was great, I'm glad it's over, and I can't wait to do it again."

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mama Dada

The absolute BEST feeling in the world, hands down?  Your daughter's earnest begging for "DADA, DADA!" at any point in the day.

Hands.  Down.  The best.

The best reminder that as good as that feels, you ain't @#$%?  Your daughter screaming "MAMA, MAMA!!!!!" the minute you pick her up.

Parenthood is for suckers.