Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Should auld acquainta... NO RACCOONS!

As another year winds down and as my lovely children have finally been stuffed forcefully in their beds with peppermint popcorn crammed lovingly in their cry-holes, it's time for reflection on the important question that I must imagine all parents ask themselves this time of year:  What did I yell more in 2014, "lean over your plate!" or "stop screaming or you're getting a time out!"?

And is it appropriate to immediately follow an exclamation point with a question mark?

The answer to both questions, of course, is "who freakin' cares?"

Whether it's Edie's adorable demands for everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) within 10 square feet of her, to "READ A BOOK!" or her oddly persistent fear of raccoons, it's been a great year.  Whether it's the fact that Finn is finally gaining confidence in his reading and writing or the fact that he hasn't taken that opportunity to write "BUTT" on everything we own, it's been a great year.

Yeah, we failed in our second attempt at organized sports and spent way more time (and gambling money) at the hospital than anyone should have to.  And yeah, there's still WAY too much poop in this house not ending up in toilets and/or getting flushed, but screw it.  The kids are healthy, they're happy, and I'm so utterly spent that I don't even get to update this thing as much as I'd like.

Even if I haven't written it down, at least I'll remember it - with the three brain cells that I haven't killed by drinking myself to sleep each night in total exhaustion.

So here's to a roller coaster 2014 and to new adventures and challenges in 2015!  Even though we've turned many corners this year, I know that we've still got a long & exciting road ahead.

We're gonna need more beer.

Monday, December 1, 2014

'Tis the season... for Raccoons!

It is fair to say that among the Scrooges of the Ninja/Rookie household, I am typically the Scroogiest.  From my rampant disdain for glittery junk that does nothing other than stick to my cheek inappropriately before important meetings and clog the vacuum cleaner to my disregard for dressing up for costumey occasions in anything more than a different colored baseball hat, I much prefer to spend my holidays sitting in the corner feeling superior and judging you all.

While drinking Egg Nog.  Because Egg Nog is the bomb.

Case in point, while Kitty starts Christmas planning in March, with "Stocking Stuffer Season" in full swing by July, I hold fast to a No-Christmas-Before-Thanksgiving rule.  This means no Christmas Lists get written, no Christmas Carols get sung and certainly no Christmas Lights go up until after the turkey is put away and both the gravy and Daddy are drank/drunk.

But it was harder this year to resist the draw of Christmas in the fall.  I don't think it was the October Christmas displays at Rite Aid (though those are getting better), I think it was the ridiculous explosion of Halloween and Thanksgiving lights that everyone in Seattle has suddenly adopted.  Thanksgiving lights?!  We even had a neighbor that had a giant inflatable turkey in their yard, holding a knife & fork... What does that even mean?!?  Is he eating turkey?  Or is he implying that he's going to eat people?

I have no idea, but we had to go down nightly to analyze & debate it.  Unfortunately, we may have broken our daughter of holiday lights in the process.  On one trip down to the giant inflatable cannibal turkey, we ran into a gang of ruffian raccoons that tried to run us off their turf.   I thought we handled it well, with few "We're not scared of you!  We're leaving because we want to, not because you're making us!" back over our shoulders, however now whenever Edie sees Christmas lights, she just starts repeating, "No raccoons, no raccoons" like a soldier with PTSD and won't let us go anywhere near them.

It would be a shame for someone who has shown herself to be a big animal lover to develop a critter phobia like that so early on, particularly one that impacts our ability to rock out to some Christmas lights, so we'll need to work on it.  And apparently we'll work on it by buying a life sized stuffed tiger that we'll name Mr. Pickles and that will also terrify her.  We like to fight fear with more fear.

Nothing is more adorably sad than hearing your daughter yell, "No Pickles, No Pickles!" over and over again at your enormous stuffed tiger.

Whatever.  She'll get over it, eventually.  She's already gotten up the courage to punch him in the head, so hugs are the natural next step.  Right?  Right.  Finn currently drags Mr. Pickles all around the house with him and sleeps with him in his bed every night, so it's not like she can avoid him.

So while we work on that, at least we can enjoy our own Christmas lights, since I went against type and put them up weeks ago.  Given how ridiculously sore I now apparently get from the act of putting up Christmas lights, I'm extremely happy that I did it so early.  This whole holiday would not at all be worth it if I had to climb up in that stupid tree and take them down again just a couple of days later.

Here's to Christmas lights in July!  Ho! Ho! Ho!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From the hip

Greatest.  ER picture.  Ever.
Do you know what Toxic Synovitis is, aside from the most kickass punk band to ever crawl out of the Athens underground?   You should, because according to the internets, it's a very common ailment affecting children between the ages of 3-10.  And I had never heard of it before last Friday either.

The good thing is that Toxic Synovitis can be treated with Ibuprofen and rest.  Or, alternately, it can be treated with a trip to the ER, surgery under general anesthesia, and two days in the hospital.

Being concerned about money, we opted for the latter.  Of course.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

After being home sick on Wednesday, but making a full recovery on Thursday and going to school & karate, we were surprised when Finn suddenly announced that he couldn't climb the stairs as we were going to bed Thursday night.  Assuming that this was just Standard Finn Manipulation protocol, I sighed, picked him up and carted him off to bed.

When he was still complaining that he couldn't walk on Friday morning, we went into full on parent-mode, deploying the most effective tool in our arsenal:  fear.  We told him that if he couldn't walk, we'd have to go to the doctor, assuming that he'd snap right up and start brushing his teeth.  When that didn't happen, we were out of ideas and we scheduled the doc appointment.

While waiting for the appointment, his condition worsened, his fever spiked again and he began crying about pain in his groin with any shift in his body position.  The doctors ruled out a groin strain and recommended we get x-rays done at Children's Hospital, just to rule out a bone issue or infection.  No problem - it's across town, but we have 3 hours before we need to pick up Edie, so should be plenty of time to get some x-rays and get back.

This is how parents who have never had to take their children to the ER think.  It's all sunshine and roses, until it's 12 hours later and you're in an abandoned, dark, surgery reception area in an empty hospital, pacing holes in the floor because the surgeon was supposed to contact you 30 mins ago and your son is under general anesthesia and it was only supposed to be a groin strain and you only agreed to this whole stupid procedure because the doctor scared you into it with fears of infection, even though there wasn't much fluid in the ultrasound, which followed the x-ray, which followed the blood test and christ you're tired and your wife looks like she's about to throw up and you hope that your sister-in-law is still OK watching your daughter while you silently freak out, worrying that the last time you're going to have touched your son is when you were helping him hold his wiener steady so he could pee in the bedpan, in this dark, empty hospital with its ghostly footsteps echoing in the distance.

Or something like that.

When the surgeon does finally call and tell you that everything is fine, that he extracted a little bit of fluid from his hip and it's not infected and while you're not supposed to see him, because he's still sleeping, hell it's two in the morning, so come on over and we'll get you into a room - that's when you exhale.  And you promise yourself that you will never, ever take a single minute with your son for granted and you chuckle about that whole "holding his wiener" thought, and you smile and head home to let your sister-in-law off the hook while your wife spends the night in the hospital.

The next day, as you and your wife switch places, you have the most amazing day with your son.  He's completely healed and you race around Children's Hospital - which, incidentally, is THE hospital to be in if you can choose, where mac & cheese is always on the menu, where there's a Starbucks on every floor and where they bring you free unopened Legos if you but ask - chasing & tickling each other until you're both exhausted and making your son laugh so hard he pees in his pants instead of in the bottle they're trying to get him to use.

It's heaven.  And it lasts about two hours, before you're yelling at him for some small offense like spilling his juice or neglecting to flush the toilet.  Just like that, everything returns to normal, except you're still stuck in the hospital.

Now we're home and Finn wishes we were back at Children's, where the bed is adjustable, the TV is always on, and his Dad buys him cake pops from Starbucks whenever he asks.  And his Dad is reading articles like the one linked above stating that Synovitis can be cured with Ibuprofen while he waits for the hospital bill and wonders what kind of kickback the surgeon gets for recommending all of the tests.

But that doesn't matter.  His son is healthy and happy.  Or at least he was healthy & happy until he faceplanted running down the street last night with his ams zipped into his jacket, leaving nothing but his nose to break his fall.

Luckily it was just a little bloody - no lasting damage - and we were able to bypass a second trip to Children's.  Better luck next time, Finny.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Low Tech

When asked whether his kids enjoyed the amazing technology devices that he had created - specifically the iPad - Steve Jobs famously replied, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

He was apparently not alone in the world of technology leaders - lots of folks that spend their days living and breathing tech, limit the amount of interaction their kids have with those same electronic devices.

That's admirable.  And totally freaking impossible.

I mean, we do monitor the screen time Finn gets at home, but temptation is everywhere!  Especially when you're hung over!  Or busy!  Or feeling like just maybe being a grown-up for just a minute and pretending that your life is actually your own, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

While we attempt to limit the technology to just 30 mins every other day (plus those extra-special qualified situations), increasingly technology is sneaking in around the corners.  Finn now has iPad apps for both his reading homework and his math homework.

Who wants to read books when you can read an app, particularly an app that reads for you in a far more attractive voice than your clumsy Dad's?  I know I don't.  I wish Finn's reading app could keep me up to date on all of my important reading.  By which I mean celebrity gossip and Derek Jeter fanzines.

But I digress.

While the concerns about addiction and impact on cognitive ability linger, conversations with Finn have gotten more... interesting, of late.

For instance:

  • When I informed him that his behavior was making me frustrated one morning and tried to engage him in a discussion about how we could fix that, he set me straight.  "I think you just need to meditate, Daddy."
  • Last week, after we told him that we would no longer be reminding him of his chores, we asked him what might need to be cleaned up before he could have dessert.  Without missing a beat, he replied, "If I told you, then I'd be reminding you."
  • As his mom was pressing him for details on a story that he was telling that wasn't quite ringing true, he stopped her dead and asked, "Why are you asking questions?  You have all of the information that you need."  And then went back to playing Legos.

    This will not do.  I did not intend to have these types of conversations until our children were much older.  Edie just showed us that she can count to eleven (though to be fair, I'm pretty sure she has no idea what she's saying).  I'm at risk of being outsmarted by my children before either of them reach the age of 10.

    Either I need to start killing their brain cells with technology or I need to double down on killing my own brain cells with beer so I no longer care.  At the moment, it's a toss-up.  

    Maybe we'll do both.

    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 Jalapeño 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


    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.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Good Lookin'

    Loaded hypothetical:

    What's better - being smart or being good looking?

    Does your answer change if you're talking about a man or a woman?

    Does your answer change if you're talking about your spouse vs. your child?

    Of course not.  That's a stupid hypothetical.  Everyone knows the answer.  It's WAY better to be good looking.  Being smart is lame.


    Unfortunately for Edie's sake, it would appear that she's been stricken with both maladies - extraordinary intelligence and should-be-illegal-and-sure-to-complicate-my-life-in-about-12-years good looks.


    I mean, seriously, look at that picture!   How can anyone in their right minds resist that face?

    The answer I'm looking for?  They CAN'T.  In particular, I'm looking for that answer from those on this weekend's nonstop flight to Newark - where Edie is certain to augment that award winning smile with her equally impressive banshee screech as I try to remove whatever inappropriate and/or dangerous and/or bloody mary-ish thing she's latched onto as her mother and I sweat and fret and try to appear calm about the fact that we're locked into this flying tube with a pin-up version of Li'l Satan for 6 hours.

    I wonder if I can duct tape her entire body and face to the seat, provided I give her an air hole?  Is that FAA approved?

    No, that'll never work.  It would block her smile... and that's really the only currency I expect to have on this flight.

    That goodness for the boy - and his best friend I. Pad.   They play so well together, you hardly even know they're there.

    Now where's that bloody mary?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014


    Finn started walking at about 10 months, while Edie didn't start until she was exactly one year.  Edie's got a vocabulary that would put many of my peers from the Penn State School of Communications (I'm looking at you, football team) to shame, whereas I don't remember Finn having this many words until he was well beyond two.

    But there's one thing that they're pretty much exactly aligned on:  looking adorable naked in backyards.

    Finn - Summer 2009

    Edie - Summer 2014

    Not pictured:  Edie immediately topping her brother by pooping on the lawn, followed by Kitty chasing her around with a little blue plastic bag.  

    Not because I didn't want to picture it - I was just too busy laughing to frame the shot.

    Ah, summertime.

    Thursday, July 24, 2014


    I think I've figured out why Edie's such a tyrant and why she's so quick to resort to fisticuffs.

    Yes, she drinks too much.

    At least she does when Mommy leaves me and the kids alone for the weekend to head off to some hifalutin birthday party in Sonoma.  What else are we gonna do, but lay around the house drinking Tecate and peeing in our pants?  It's fun for the whole family!

    Less fun for the whole family is when Mommy comes back to Seattle with a crippling cold.  Nothing like the giddy anticipation of some parental help after single parenting for a weekend, following immediately by the crushing realization that you're now parenting three little babies instead of two.

    Looks like we'll need more Tecate...

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    Black Eye

    From the moment Finn's junk emerged from the grainy depths of the ultrasound machine, I knew that it was only a matter of time before he and I came to blows.  I mean, it's a story as old as time itself - the son grows up and eventually seeks to assert himself against his terribly handsome, witty and charming father.  Who has great hair.  And used to drive a really cool van.

    So I've been waiting.  Waiting for that moment when Finn would square off against me... ensuring that only one of us would walk away from the encounter on our feet.  By which, of course, I mean me.  While he lay rolling around on the ground on accounta the fact that I kicked him square in the testicles.  With age, comes wisdom.  Punk.

    But as it turns out, that wasn't to be the first familial throw down.  No, we male Parkers are a loveable bunch.   We give hugs, we don't fight.  Not like the female Parkers.  They're the physical ones.  At least one of them is.  It turns out that the smallest female Parker REALLY, REALLY hates it when you try to take the iPhone out of her hand.  You know when you hate something so much, that you would practically throw it in your mother's face?

    Yeah.  That happened.  She was so mad at me for trying to take back the iPhone, that she threw it directly into her mother's face.  This is what it looked like immediately after.  I'd show you what it looks like now, but I prefer the actual visible blood in this shot:

    Isn't that awesome?  Of course, we all feel bad for Kitty, but that is some amazing damage done by a seventeen month old.   I can't wait to see what she does when she turns thirteen.  Poor Kitty.

    If only she had testicles to kick...

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014


    I don't remember Finn being half as adorable as Edie is right now.  Maybe it's because she's a girl (it's
    definitely because she's a girl), but pretty much everything she says makes my bottom lip tremble as a Fatherly tear runs down my face.

    Hearing her say "shoes" or "elbow" digs right through your ears and directly into your chest like a tiny little baby Kevin-Bacon-Tremors-worm.  It's like listening to the most adorable Mötley Crüe song ever written, times ten.  You guys cry when you hear "Kickstart My Heart" too, right?  Right.  Well imagine ten Vince Neils and ten Tommy Lees surfing ten drum kits on ten rainbows while ten Mick Marses and ten Nikki Sixxes brood in the corner like ten little miniature unicorns and you're starting to get the idea.  Plus Jon Bon Jovi is also there.

    In other words, I'm pretty smitten right now.

    Also adorable?  Her older brother, but in a slightly different way - the way that's less about how cutely you mispronounce words and more about how awesomely you're learning to punch people in the face.  Acceptably.

    Finn just completed the Leap of Faith program, which is a really cool kids program focused ostensibly on self-defense, but really on building confidence - something that my awesome son, who has unfortunately inherited my shyness, can use.  Through teaching kids how to use all of their "powers", like seeing power, feeling power, voice power and more, it sets them up to focus not on the things that could hurt them in the world, but rather on how they're setup to be safe, happy & healthy.  In other words:  not what they can't do, but what they can.

    It was inspiring watching Finn punch a 6' 5" dude in the face during the graduation ceremony to demonstrate how he'd escape from someone grabbing him.  But it's even more inspiring watching him walk more confidently across the street and generally be more comfortable in his skin.  It's not like he's a completely different person, but there's a stronger vibe in the air.  Of course, a large part of that is that Kitty and I have also been coached on respecting boundaries as part of giving him the ability to put them up.  As much as I dislike the fact that I am no longer supposed to hold him down over his pleas and cries and tickle him to death, I can certainly take the long view on this one.

    But perhaps the greatest improvement we've seen?  He now loves getting his picture taken.  I'm not sure this is due to the program - causation/correlation blah blah blah - but still... we needed more pictures of Finn.  Otherwise, we'd only have pictures of adorable Edie.

    And I'm pretty sure that would explode all of your brains & eyeballs.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Speaking of money...

    ...guess who got all excited & started negotiating Tooth Fairy rates and then completely forgot to check under his pillow in the morning, ignoring all hints, until Kitty basically told him to go look under his pillow for his cash?

    Yep, this guy.

    * Sniff *  My prone-to-weird-face-scratches little boy is getting all growed up.

    I don't like this one bit.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Money, Money, Money

    It is an immense disappointment to both Kitty and me that the tool that we are most successful in wielding to motivate those around us in our lives to do the right thing is completely useless against Finn.  We can't do a lot of things, but one thing that we can do very well, and the people seem to respond to?  Pay.  Pay a lot.  Pay the #%$@ out of everything.

    Typically, works like a charm.  Everyone loves money, right?  Money's awesome!  

    Unfortunately, Finn The Hippie doesn't care about money.  This would be an arguably admirable trait in grown-up.  It's incredibly frustrating in a child that you are trying to motivate.

    We've tried allowance.  Nothing.  We've tried insisting that he has to pay for his treats/toys.  Nothing.  We've tried kidnapping his stuffed animals and demanding insane ransoms to save them from the horror that is the washing machine.  Nothing.

    I wish I could say that I was a good enough parent that I could shrug this off and simply change tactics - pick another tool from the toolbox.  Unfortunately, the only toolbox I own is my wallet.  I'm screwed.

    The other day, Finn and I were chatting about collections and how some people like the collect things.  This is an interesting topic to him because I recently showed him my pocket knife collection from when I was a kid and he almost peed his pants in excitement.  Of course he asked if he could have it, and I promised it to him when he got a little bit older.  I asked him if he was interested in collecting something slightly less stabby & cutty in the meantime and he decided that he wanted to collect "everything".

    I explained that that wasn't how collecting worked; that's called hoarding.  Collecting requires that you kind narrow in on something specific.   He decided that he wanted to collect a new iPad.  Also unacceptable.  I explained that even if he had an iPad, he would still need a credit card to pay for the apps that he wants.

    He seemed very concerned about this and got real quiet.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he jumped up as the lightbulb in his head went off.  In all sincerity, he emphatically exclaimed, "I've got it!  I can collect money!"

    Now we're getting somewhere.  Looks like I need to dust off the old toolbox.  It's time for some "parenting".

    Thursday, May 29, 2014


    The best part about having a kid in private school for someone as lazy as I am?  My parental participation in my son's education is safely accomplished through the act of writing a check each month.

    You say that the children love it when adult volunteers come into the classroom to help them read?  I'd love to help.  Where's my checkbook?

    Help delivered from the comfort of my own couch.  I feel so fulfilled.

    Alas, with Finn's transition to his new public school next year, my participation toolbox is going to need some new tools.  Kitty has dived right in and signed us up as charter PTA members and started actively meeting parents, volunteering for school events and generally being an extremely good person.

    I have joined the charge by reluctantly signing up for the email list and actively complaining about the volume of email that I now receive as I delete it without reading.

    It's exhausting.

    But then Finn's school scheduled a big fundraising event, which got me really excited.  Who knew that public schools needed money too!  I thought Joe Taxpayer took care of footing the education bill.  You say that doesn't cover actual human teacher salaries and/or chairs in the new classrooms?  No problem, I know how to do this part!

    Before I could whip out the checkbook, however, Kitty informed me that we would be helping by actually chipping in this time around.  She was going to man one of the craft stations and I was to help her cut out 3000 falcon masks and colorful bird feathers for the masks in preparation.

    This is not what I signed up for.  By my scientific calculations, cutting a mask out of card stock takes nine more muscles than signing a check.  And that's nine muscles I just don't have.  The event was a huge success and Finn and I got to watch a special Raptor presentation from the nice lady from the Woodland Park Zoo, but I've gotta tell you, my mask-making-scissor-fingers are really sore.

    This public school thing is hard.  

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014


    As Edie progresses through each of the major milestones of baby-dom, Kitty looks on wistfully, wishing she could make it all go slower... as I silently high-five myself just out of eyesight.

    Don't get me wrong, I know that one day I'll look back at these early days of my (hopefully) last baby and wish that I could have them all back again.  But not today.  Today, I'm all about getting out of the darkness of the baby cave as fast as humanly possible.  This is the downside of having a six year old and a baby.  You know that all of the literal crap that you're cleaning up now goes away.  Sure, it's replaced by new crap - but that crap is figurative, and therefore less smelly.

    Let's review some of the big milestones of the last couple of months:
    • No more cloth diapers - YES!
    • No more formula - YES! 
    • No more bottles - YES!
    • No more 4000 lb infant carrier - YES!
    • No more stupid rear-facing car seat that does nothing but make Edie scream - YES!
    That said, there are some milestones that I'm in no rush to reach, such as the removal of the pacifiers or the crib, since anything that keeps the baby quiet and/or contained is all good with me.  Despite my comments above, I'm also OK with diapers.  Since Edie's a little girl, there's no actual crap - she just poops rainbows and ice cream.  Or at least I assume she does.  I don't change diapers.

    That brings the remaining milestones down to the following:
    • No more Lego eating: I hope we hit this one soon, since we've gotten kind of lax about the crumbling cardboard guardrails that currently separate Edie from 5000 Lego Star Wars characters, so carefully crafted to fit the toddler trachea like only the Danish can.  Quality control is so good there that I bet I could still choke on the Legos I had as a kid.
    • No more baby gates: Again, the sooner the better on this, given Edie's tendency to see all physical barriers as obstacles to overcome through kicking me in the face, punching me in the face & screaming... at my face; plus she loves to slam dunk her pacifiers over these Tony Fernandez style, which while adorable, results in many pacifiers/shoes/socks in the cat food - which we protect with a baby gate.
    As my boy Roger Murtaugh says on poorly dubbed network television broadcasts of Lethal Weapon, "I'm getting too old for this spit."

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014


    Legend has it that Abner Doubleday, the dude who created baseball, also invented Mothers' Day.  In fact, he invented both of them on the same day, in the exact same spot, in Cooperstown, NY in 1492.   Look it up.

    First he invented baseball, then immediately thought of his mom (and apple pie) and so thusly invented both apple pie and Mothers' Day.   And now, tradition has it that all loving fathers are 100% obligated to treat the mothers in their lives to a baseball game on Mothers' Day.

    Or at least I assume that's why Seattle scheduled their Safeco Field "Little League Day" on Mothers' Day.  There's really no other explanation.  But Kitty took it like a champ and even pretended that she was enjoying herself as Finn refused to pose for a single nice picture as we toured around the outfield before the game, Edie tried to eat every previously chewed peanut shell off of the stadium floor, and I generally ignored everyone in favor of beer, sunshine and the crack of the bat.

    I'm a couple of days late on this, so I know this is no way to make up for a very non-traditional Moms' Day, but HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY to all of the moms out there in baseball-land.  I hope your Sundays were as Robbie-Cano-filled as ours.

    If only Abner were still alive to see the fun he had wrought.  Unfortunately, soon after inventing baseball, apple pie, Mothers' Day and cold fusion, he died upon ingesting a combination of Pop Rocks & Coca Cola.

    RIP Abner.  I'm sure you would've been proud.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014


    When we embarked on this whole baby-led weaning journey a few months back, I was operating under the apparently faulty assumption that the weaning would be the baby's and that it would be related to a progressive migration from milk to food.

    Instead, what I learned that it really means is that you introduce food immediately and then you slowly start to wean your floor of the various tarps needed to protect it from the half-chewed & expelled carrots and you slowly start to wean the baby from the various complicated smocks & bib technologies that you acquired for top dollar from the internet's most expensive bibberies.

    Whatever your definition, I'm happy to report that the weaning - while not going quite as quickly as I or the floor would have liked - is progressing.  We put the bottles away about a week ago, along with the dreaded bottle drying rack, which served the dual purpose of cluttering up our kitchen counter, as well as breeding new species of fruit flies.  Edie also appears to be swallowing roughly 60% more of her food these days, which is reducing the amount of cleanup of floor & person.

    Unfortunately, she's not taken a real shining to throwing her new & expensive sippy cup technologies at the poor dented & stained floor, as well as at her mother and me, but I'll take that.  It's a lot easier and less vomit inducing to pick up a cup than it is to pick avocado out of the crevices of her chair.

    Speaking of disgusting, I'd like to point out the picture above, which is the first photo evidence of voluntary sibling contact.

    Not pictured, the booger that he's undoubtably rubbing on her hand.

    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    No Love

    I don't know if y'all have picked up on this, but there's been a distinct lack of Edie posts round these parts lately.  It's true - she's been blackballed from the blog.  She's been giving me the cold shoulder lately and I'm a petty, petty person that also happens to be ineffectual everywhere in the world except in this tiny little slice, where I can at least wield the Crappy Sword of Omission.

    So THERE, Edie.  I'll show you for ignoring me and/or crying when I pick you up and/or constantly arching your entire body away from me while looking pleadingly with your saddest eyes at your mom as if to say, "Save me from this monster, woman!"

    Aw crap.  I already regret e-lashing out.  I mean, look at that smile?  Could that smile really mask a calculating, Daddy-hating little devil?

    Yes.  I'm certain of it.  Which is a shame, because I thought we were still in the glory days of PO childhood.  Pre-Opinions.  Because we all know that the development of opinions is where child-rearing really goes south.

    It won't be long now until we're there.  She's coming entirely off the bottle, is mostly eating whole foods - at least those that she's not throwing at me out of spite - and is more or less down to one nap.  This is the end of infantdom and the dawn of toddlerism.  Dark, dark toddlerism.

    But I'm not depressed.  I know that it's only a matter of time before she comes back my way.  She's a girl, after all, and I hear that they love their Daddies.  Or at least she will once I start telling her what her Mom says about her behind her back.

    I'm a petty, petty person.

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Greetings from Radiator Springs

    My friends who have taken their kids to Disneyland talk about the effort of keeping the kids settled down as the date approached - the stomach aches, the crazy energy, the incessant requests for updates on timeline - so it was with mixed feelings that we dealt with absolutely none of that.  From the moment that we told Finn that we were going to Cars Land until roughly ten minutes into our Cars Land adventure, four weeks later, he didn't seem to care much at all.

    And then this happened.

    Yes, Mater really does drive around Cars Land... talking.

    From that point, it was on...

    Since we were in LA paying off several of my more poorly advised sport bets, we only had a day at Disneyland, specifically at California Adventure, but what a day it was.  Things to note about DCA:

    1. That place is immaculate.  There were no blemishes that I could find anywhere in the park - the lines were manageable (on a Disney scale), the rides were all perfect, there was not a spot of trash (except for one oddly placed champagne bottle on a trashcan in the parking garage), and there was not a carnie in sight.  Amazing that they can pull this off at this scale.
    2. I mentioned manageable lines, but that's only if you know how to play the game.  As long as you enter the park the minute it opens and run to the Fast Pass machine for Radiator Springs Racers, you can avoid the only 1+ hr line on a day like the one we had.  Add to that the "stroller pass" that allows the parent stuck with the baby to skip the line, as long as the kid and other parent have already waited in it, meant that Finn got to ride many rides twice in less time than rookies rode them once.
    3. Phinneas & Ferb can really throw a dance party.  Even though I watched them do it three times in about an hour, they never tired and their enormous faces never appeared upset.  Must be all the hot Fireside Girls at their dance party.
    4. The Cars are real.  I swear it.  Their lips move, their eyes follow you, it's freaking spooky.  And it's amazing.
    5. Lunch at Flo's V8 Cafe is awesome.  A kid's meal of Lightning MacQueen & Cheese in a Lightning McQueen box and an open faced turkey sandwich with gravy and an IPA for Daddy?  I LOVE this place.
    We only meant to spend 4-5 hrs at Disney, but in the end, we had to tear ourselves away after about 8.  That place really was the happiest place on earth.  Except for this weird floating tire ride in Cars Land, where everyone looked so disappointed in the ride's obvious suckiness that we had to avert our eyes and close our ears to Finn's repeated pleas to ride it.  Apparently he's not as in-tuned to tangible depression.

    And while this vacation was clearly more for Finn, even Edie had a good time, dancing in the water feature outside a Bug's World and napping in Radiator Springs.

    That nap proved crucial, because it enabled her to avoid passing out cold in the backseat of the rental car with her face in a paper bag.  Unlike her brother.

    I think it's safe to say that we'll be back here.  In fact, I'm going to start saving my allowance right now.  Those Fireside Girls have expensive tastes.

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    The Sky is Falling

    The best part of Finn's school play this year, other than Finn's Oscar-worthy performance as Little Fox #2?   Edie's ridiculously loud raspberry right during a quiet lull.

    Nothing like getting heckled by a 13-month-old to break your stage confidence.

    In the absence of anything insightful to say, check out his awesome fox fur coat:


    The Sky is Falling