Monday, December 28, 2009

The 12+ Days of Christmas

As last year's Christmas was decidedly unrelaxing, with the city on lockdown from Snopocalypse, and kind of a letdown, with Finn's total ambivalence toward his gifts, we had high expectations for this year.   As previously noted, we got an early start on Christmas, having picked up the Christmas tree just after Columbus Day.

Due to concerns about our household of demolition experts, equally dangerous in the arts of breaking stuff and flooding stuff, I would have been happy not decorating the tree at all, surrounding it with furniture and only looking at pictures of it on my phone.  However Mema was going to be in town so that just wouldn't have been appropriate.  Instead, we waited until the absolute last minute to decorate it.  And by "decorate it," I mean localizing all delicate ornaments in the top half of the tree.  Note the soft/unbreakable items hanging on the lower branches in the pic above.

The weather gods smiled upon up this year and it was a beautiful weekend in Seattle and a great time to check out West Seattle's insane Christmas light displays, including some of soon-to-be national renown.  In fact, we've spent so much time checking them out, that I'm not sure what I'm going to tell Finn next week when he starts his nightly call for "eh-eh liiiights."  Maybe I'll tell him we're now Jewish.

It was an all around fantastic holiday and as I now wait for our Christmas tree to drop its last needle before I finally get up the energy to carry it to the curb, it's time to look back at the highlights:
  1. Christmas lights!  If you haven't clicked the link above, there are seriously some amazing displays in West Seattle - from the Menashe's to the house with the FM broadcast.  And nothing gives Finn the opportunity to point our how much yellow is in the world as Christmas lights do.  
  2. Yellow!  Turns out, in Finn's world, everything is yellow (LAH-lo).  Though to be fair, he's starting to get better at identifying the other colors.  Of course, he might just be memorizing every light on the tree.
  3. Presents!  MUCH better reception this year for presents, though I've found out that it doesn't take much to bring back the unpatience you felt opening a present as a child. Finn unwraps presents in fingernail sized pieces.  I had to step in.
  4. Presents!  Did I mention this one yet?  It turns out that I also like putting stuff together. It makes me feel useful and it works out the coffee.  I know I'm going to regret ever admitting this.
But perhaps the single most astonishing thing about this Christmas?  I was able to get all of the wrapping paper, packaging and trash into a single load, which was picked up today.  AMAZING!

Also amazing?  The fact that neither Kitty nor I noticed that daycare was closed this week.  Luckily, this was caught just prior to our dropping Finn off this morning - something I typically don't even come to a complete stop in the car for, so that's... lucky.

Christmas with a soon-to-be two-year-old?  Expensive.
Finding out that you've all got one more week together, without any work/daycare/baseball to hide behind?  Priceless.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mommy's RULE!

On this, the darkest day of the year, and (coincidentally) the Mommy's birthday, I figured it would be fitting to use my recent cross-country trip with Finn as a reminder to myself of how important Mommy is to this family.

Plus, the carpets have dried out enough for me to take a break from swearing at the cats and type this up.

It was Kitty's idea that Finn and I take a trip across the country for my father's birthday since we wouldn't be traveling for Christmas this year. Like tequila shots, stage diving and Taco Bell, it seemed like a good idea at the time. As the time approached, however, I would have felt more confident taking a handful of peyote buttons and disappearing into the desert for a week.

We almost never got off the ground. The flights on the way out connected through Minneapolis, which was (and is perpetually?) going through a blizzard. After the gate agent made double-extra-sure that I really wanted to check-in knowing that and after a stern warning that I should make sure that I had everything I needed in my carry-on (I didn't), I was let through with a minimal chance of making it. Somehow miraculously, our flight was immediately upgraded from delayed to on-time, almost guaranteeing that I missed it. Definitely guaranteeing that I missed my pre-flight cocktail.

Finn was a dream on both flights out and aside from a brief side-trip to be de-iced in Minneapolis, we made it to NY just fine. As anticipated, the last time I saw Finn until the return trip was on the hand-off to my mother. Actually, that's not entirely true. I'm pretty sure he was at the cocktail party that my parent's threw, but that's only because I'm assuming it was him playing trains with the rest of the grandparents. And I'm also relatively certain that it was Finn's ear that my father was blowing into every time he came around on the merry-go-round at the children's museum... at least I hope it was.

Actually, I did see him for sure when he posed for the picture above. He put his boots on all by himself, then came over to my mother and me, handed us the camera, took a couple of steps back and said "cheese." Methinks we may take too many pictures of our son, if that's the only training he's got. Of course, this is the only quality picture I have for the whole weekend, to Kitty's chagrin, so maybe that's OK.

The rest of the trip was spent perfectly: feeding Finn pizza & graham crackers and handing him the phone every 15 minutes so he could "call Layla" and tell her all about his big adventure, however it only went well because I had the help of my parents. Without Kitty around, I struggle just to remember to feed myself, much less keep Finn alive. But it wasn't until the flight back, that I REALLY missed the Mommy.

I scheduled our return flight to coincide perfectly with a freak hour-long snow storm in Albany, thereby ensuring that we would have no layover to speak of in Detroit and would have to run for our connection. Turns out that Finn + 1.5 hr ride to Albany + 2 hr flight to Detroit + running to gate + 5 hr flight to Seattle - any time to run around in-between = very unhappy Finn. And an unhappy Finn + 2 bags + 1 stroller - any idea of what I'm doing = very frayed Daddy. Finn decided not to sleep the entire second flight, so it was well past his bed time and my personal endurance limit when we finally landed in Seattle and I was once again picked up by my far more proficient teammate.

So on this 7th anniversary of her 29th year on Earth, allow me to wish my beautiful wife the very happiest of birthdays. As a birthday gift, I make this solemn promise: I will never again willingly travel without you!

Lucky you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The cats FAIL

I was going to use this post to catch both of you back up on how Daddy & Finn's trip back East went (Finn's preliminary travel grade: A-), but I'm afraid that I'm too tired to do that.

Remember when I used to compare Finn to the cats in a cliche attempt at humor? And I had the cats in the lead for a little while?

Yeah, they FAIL.

Still trying to get my mojo back after a cross-country trip in which the weather gods decided to choose the two days we were flying to dump snow on the airports we were headed through (incidentally, who puts an airline hub in Minneapolis?), I was awakened at 3 AM by Kitty. Apparently her Mommy-sense/rabbit ears were tingling and she heard something downstairs that needed some investigating. I'm an imposing figure at 5' 9", 160 lbs., so I've got no issue running downstairs to crack some skulls.

Unfortunately, this time I wasn't running, I was splashing.

FUN FACT: Cats can apparently turn on a tub faucet AND close the tub drain - possibly via cat teamwork. Amazing!

Even more amazing: the cats are still alive after flooding the basement with a 100 gallons of water!

So if you'll forgive me, we'll return to semi-funny self-indulgent Finn stories in a couple of days. Once the carpets have dried. Until then you'll have to make do with this picture of an apparently stoned and clearly homeless Finn.

Now where are those cats...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pray for me

I used to have a snake named Otis. He was a ball python that I found in the hallway of my apartment building in college. He was pretty low maintenance - I only had to feed him once a month - but his cage smelled awful. Mostly because I only cleaned it when I fed him.

I mention this not to compare Otis to Finn, though they both have the same eating and toilet habits, but rather to fondly recall how easy it was to fly with Otis. I'd stuff him in a pillow case, tie it up and toss it into my carry-on. He zipped through the luggage x-ray and spent the whole flight under the seat in front of me.

At least, I hoped he spent the whole flight there. I didn't want to get Samuel L. Jackson all up in my business.

Tomorrow morning Finn and I fly solo back East to visit his Grandparents. Just me and him. Alone. On an airplane for 6+ hours, with a layover in the middle. Something tells me that Finn is not going to handle the pillowcase-travel as well as Otis did. I don't know what I was thinking when I booked this flight. I'm not prepared for this.

I need Finn's Mommy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Second Noel

My father used to tell me that Christmas would regain its excitement for me once I had kids. I assumed he was referring to the inevitable foot races against the great unwashed for the last Torture-Me Elmo doll at the Germiest Place on Earth, but now that we're starting to gear up for the holiday with Finn, I've gotta admit that it's pretty exciting.

This is our second Christmas, but the first was a total loss so I'm not counting it. Finn was totally underwhelmed by the empty boxes that we wrapped for him and he didn't even give the tree much of a second glance. He was too busy blogging about what a terrible job the city was doing clearing the streets during Snowpocalypse. This year is going to be different. This year, we'll actually put something in the boxes for him to be underwhelmed by.

We decided to kick off the holiday season by traveling up to Christmas Creek with the Spiros to cut our own tree for the first time. This being only the second Christmas that we've ever spent in Seattle, we've always just hit an in-city lot, so we were pretty excited. Plus, we planned for Finn's first Santa experience this year and word on the street is that the Santa at Christmas Creek is the real deal. Spiro says that Macy's tries every year to pull him away.

Spiro also believes that the Gray Top tourist buses are spying on him, so take that for what it's worth.

Christmas Creek is about 45 minutes outside Seattle, so we filled up on breakfast from the local cafe for the ride. As an aside, the local cafe is a place that believes that Gummi Bears are not only an appropriate garnish for Mickey Mouse pancakes, but they also give you a container to go, in case your kid isn't hovering far enough above the ground already. We hit the tree farm right as Finn was about to explode out of his car seat and headed straight for Santa.

The cabin where Santa was blessing the masses was tiny, but warm. Or at least it looked warm from where we were standing in line, out in the freezing cold. By the time we finally were allowed inside, Finn was vibrating nicely. We were pumped up for an epic first Santa experience and were eagerly practicing our "ho ho ho"'s.

Rather than just narrate the Santa intro, I'll let the pictures do the talking. I'm sure you know how this is going to play out.

Finally at the front of the line, Kitty put Finn up on Santa's lap.

Note the downward gaze. Finn wouldn't meet the big man's eyes and just stared straight ahead at the floor. This didn't afford us the photo op that we were looking for, so Kitty "adjusted" his head.

Santa thought this was great, but Finn... not so much. It only took a second before...

We scooped Finn up and headed out into the tree farm, but the damage was apparently lasting - whether it was Santa or the Gummi Bears is unclear (smart money is on a combo of both) - and the meltdown continued outside, where we quickly bailed on the cut-our-own plan, bought a pre-cut tree by the cashier, threw it on the roof of the car and tore out of there.

Note Santa's concern. I hope we didn't hurt his feelings. He took it all in stride, though he did seem a little puzzled when I offered a genuine thanks for making my son cry. You see, we really needed a Christmas card pic.

Does that make us bad people?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Perhaps to soften the blow of having to tell us that our son is a wuss, Jena & Carrie threw us a bone and informed us that he was a savant when it comes to knowing his shapes. They showed us a video where he pointed out triangles, circles and squares with ease, which is apparently impressive for a young-un like him. He even nailed the oval, which I have trouble with sometimes.

We got all excited about his gigantic brain, until Kitty made the mistake of Googling "savant" and we found ourselves swimming in Rain Man references.

I know what you're thinking: "VEGAS, BABY!" Good idea, right? But what would it look like if Finn started crying after the dealer took his chips away? Ugly. We wouldn't be able to get any of the cocktail-waitress/strippers to talk to us at all.

We'll apparently need to come up with another avenue to get rich off of our kid, leveraging some of his other growing skills. The one that's currently standing out the most is his talking.

A Finn that's good at talking? Shocking, I know.

He can now name pretty much every animal, can count to five (if you don't care about three and four), can name every vehicle and every object in the sky. He can even put together rudimentary sentences like "Help, please," or "I love you, Mommy," or "Daddy-soda." Of course, he hasn't lost his penchant for one-word sentences either and his new go-to is "MINE."

As long as he doesn't use that when he's grabbing for my Daddy-soda, we'll get along just fine.