Tuesday, August 31, 2010

House Guests and Other Noises

We got back from the beach to a mostly clean house. Except. In the kitchen we found a weird mess of dust bunnies and plastic lids. The windows were closed, so it wasn't the wind. The rest of the house was fine, so we just shrugged and cleaned up the mess.

On Monday Chris emailed me.

Subject: Mystery Solved
T'was a rat. :(

He'd seen the rat that morning, as it scurried from under the hoosier, across the dining room and into a gap by the pocket doors. (not that you asked what a hoosier or pocket door is, but I am helpful like that)

That night we heard some scratching in our wall and were mesmerized as we listened to the on again, off again noise.

The next night Chris set traps, and while we watched Mad Men we heard one of the traps slap closed. Ugh. I refused to look, but from Chris's face I am sure it wasn't pleasant. I feel a little conflicted about using a killing trap, but not enough to have taken steps to handle it another way. I was so much more squicked by the reality of a rat in my house than I'd imagined I would be. I felt much better once the rat was gone.

Except that not more than 10 minutes later, we heard the scritch scritch scritch sound again. We probably should have known that there would be more than one. Luckily, we'd gotten more than one trap. We left the traps out and went to bed.

The next morning I got up with the babies. I dutifully went around picking up the traps before the babies discovered them. First the two glue traps, and then the spring loaded trap. Leaning over, I noticed that it had been sprung. Huh, that's weird, it's sprung but there is no rat in it, I thought. That's when I noticed the dead rat a few inches away, under a chair. I was so shocked I did that involuntary full body wiggle of ewww! I didn't quite jump on a chair, but I was too much of a wimp to deal with the dead rat myself. I made Chris come get it so that the babies would not get a chance to go after it.

The next night involved no rat sounds, thankfully. However, at 3am I woke up to Chris walking out of the room. He briefly went downstairs and upon returning said that he'd heard something. He got back into bed, but we both lay, heads cocked, listening to some kind of weird scratching noise. At first I thought it was in our room, but then Chris realized it was coming from outside our window. He peeked out the window and saw a dark shape moving from the neighbor's vertical rain pipe onto their second floor porch. It was a racoon, climbing the drain pipe, he said. Eventually we relaxed and fell back asleep.

The following day I took Ada and Lila on a bike ride to the ice cream store. When I got home, Chris had news: Last night? It wasn't a raccoon. It was our neighbor. Apparently Sam found himself locked out, his cell phone was dead or not with him, and he could not wake his house mates by knocking on the door. He decided that the best way in was through the second floor balcony, so at 3 am he'd scaled the rain pipe to get into the house. And now we know that our neighbor looks and sounds a lot like a really creative raccoon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Okay, Indulge just a FEW more pictures

The set up: look, blue sky!
A little family photo from right before I messed up the larger family picture.

I took several full family photos with the timing (note to self, next time bring the remote!). Sadly, before I realized that they were fairly blown out, the kids and adults all decided they were done with photo time. You can see a couple of them here, which range from more blown out to more crazy looking participants (eyes shut, arms flailing, etc). Oh well, better luck next year.

Anthony and the kite
Anthony flying Ada's kite

Fancy Girl and Seahorse
Ada with my glasses and her new seahorse 

Can you see how high we climbed?
Ada enthusiastically climbed the huge sand dune four times

more sunset
One of a few really lovely sunsets
What these pictures do not express is how much I love my family. I really enjoyed the week, and as I told my sister when we returned to Portland, I was only sad that I had not gotten more. I am greedy for their time, and want as much of it as I can have. Even though Karen, Anthony and my parents live only a state away, there is never enough time. I often want to paraphrase that line from Where the Wild Things Are: I'll eat them up, I love them so. 

It is nice to have these reminders of how lucky I am to have such a great family, and occasionally even the time to enjoy them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Last of the Beach Photos (Don't Forget Ian!)

Ada, Chris and I have a running joke about how one or the other of us forgot to include Ian. Once Ian is more tuned in to our humor he may be annoyed by this, but for now the phrase "Don't forget Ian" gets a lot of play at our house.

Ian on Chris' back

Ian had some trouble napping at the beach, which made him a bit cranky. It did not entirely dampen his hammy sweetness, thankfully.

ian, couched

Ian makes his presence known and we have, so far, not forgotten about him at all.


For my mom, Sally and maybe Stephanie, here is a short video of Ian talking about his toes:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beach, Part II (Mira Edition)

So yes, Mira was not a big fan of the actual beach. She did love the trip, however. And not just because Chris let her steal his beer bottle one afternoon.

Yes, she has his beer bottle

Mira learns to climb into chairs

Mira on the porch

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back From The Beach

I am back from vacation, into the frying pan. Or something like that. Work is hectic (grant due soon, so many stupid details to deal with) but I have these photos from the beach. You may get a bunch of them while I frantically write and budget and dump the sand out of my shoes.

Karen and Ada: 

K & A 1

K & A 4

K & A 3

Karen isn't crazy, it was a windy day and pretty cool despite the blue skies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Hand Soap

I'm not going to step on your head just to make you feel better.

Where the Wild Things Are

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hello from the beach.

This is the year Ada got over her fear of the ocean. She is a blur of dune-climbing, sand angel-making, water-enjoying happiness.

Ada on the beach

Ian loves the beach. In particular, he loves tossing sand in his own hair.
Ian's first experience with sand

Mira is less excited and pretty much refuses to be put down on the sand. As long as we hold her, she's happy.
When the beach is too much

Walk in the woods
I hope you are having a good week, wherever you are.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Red Sky At Morning

I started the month by shooting a crazy red fetish object (the feathers in the collage below) and was ready for an amazing month of red. I definitely enjoyed taking red photos, but my challenge this month was finding time to take the pictures. Work has been crazy busy and in my off time I am running around with the kids or keeping the house going or doing whatever people do in their off time. Still, it was a good month.

Red collage

This month I took a fair number of pictures of works of art. I had a good time in New York shooting close up shots of larger art works. (I know, I was in New York in August, I told you this was a tough month to find time for photography!)

This was the first month I started using my iPhone to take pictures. (I just got it in July.) As my point and shoot camera broke early this year, this is the first time in a while that I have had a portable camera to play with.  I am so in love with the magic that is hipstamatic, and I am really enjoying taking self-portraits with the photo booth app.

I also have to say that while it is not my best photo ever from a technical standpoint (or even in terms of composition) I really love the picture I took of my friend J above. She has such an expressive face and looking at this picture makes me want to reach in to the picture and give her a hug.  

The full July set is here. August is green!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Other New York Moments

Lest you think that New York was all navel gazing, I wanted to share a few things from my trip.

I went out for a late walk with Alejna, Debbie, Gwen, Neil and Sarah. We walked by the Plaza Hotel and talked about Eloise. Four of us had drinks at some random asshole bar and I was fascinated to hear what happens when one's parents are Esperantists. 

I saw a cool bird weather vane and a nice Henry Darger exhibit at the folk art museum.

I had dinner with an old friend whose friendship still makes me happy. I met his wife and child for the first time. I felt more comfortable with the wife than I'd expect for someone I'd just met. The child I wanted to eat with a spoon.

I put up with Neil telling me (three times) that he has never read my blog. (I'm all for honesty, but enough is enough, right?)

I wandered around Brooklyn with my favorite cousin and her guy. We shopped for new sunglasses but in the end held out for beer.

Pair #1: 80s glasses
Laura told me that these require bigger bangs.

RA in Yellow Spex
RA in Yellow Spex

Pair #2: Built for the Stage
 RA suggested that this look would be best worn with a cape, while performing with Funkadelic.

EA in White Spex
EA, not so sure about the big white frames. I actually quite liked them on her!

Pair #3: Inexplicably appealing to me
Is it really weird that I was tempted by these glasses? 
No really, if they had been cheaper I would have snapped them up!

I had such a great time with this cousin and her guy. It makes me sad that we live so far from them. (Note to self: win lottery and plan lots of trips to New York to see friends and family.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photos of the Week

Really Good Dirt

Doll in the Dirt

I just wanted to write a joke where the punchline was "I don't have to fuck a cracker, do I?"

Zach Galifanakis
Live at the Purple Onion

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Left New York, Still on Wall Street (Journal)

I am quoted briefly in a Wall Street Journal article on parents buying adult styles for their young kids. A WSJ reporter found me a few weeks ago by googling skinny jeans for toddlers. She is not the first to do this - I regularly get visitors to the blog who stumble on the site while looking for clothing for their slim children. More often than not they leave anonymous comments telling me that I am an ass for making fun of skinny jeans.

What these parents fail to notice is that I am not opposed to thin kids wearing slim fitting clothes. What does bug me is that adult styles, particularly ones that are marketed as sexy, are sized down and sold to kids. That's it. End of complaint.

The article is kind of funny, especially the title: Do These Jeans Make My Diaper Look Big? Maybe I am just slow, but it hadn't really occurred to me that people put clothes on their kids when they would like to wear a style themselves. I get that parents dress their kids based on their own tastes (heck, I do that when I can), but somehow I had never considered using Ada as my personal style surrogate. And now it is too late, as she has her own strong opinions about fashion that don't exactly comport with mine. Sigh.

I realize that writing about this is just going to draw more accidental traffic from parents of skinny kids. And I will get more anonymous mothers telling me that I am a horrible person. But please, if you have come here because you want to buy your kids jeggings or skinny jeans, please, before you yell at me remember that this is just a blog, not a manifesto. I don't really care how you dress your kids. The fact that I don't buy skinny jeans for my roly-poly babies should not mean anything to you. I have nothing against the Gap (especially not after they gave me clothes for Blogher!) and am not invested in what other people do. Unless it is parachute pants. I reserve the right to laugh if I see your child in parachute pants.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wrap-Up (Or, How Blogher Reminded Me That I Love My Small Blog)

On Saturday morning I sat next to Maggie at breakfast. I told her that I was feeling happier than I had in a long time. Maggie gave me a funny look, wondering (I imagine) how I could be happiest at Blogher, an event known to cause insecurity and discomfort in the most self-possessed of bloggers. I told her it wasn't so much that I was happy at Blogher, but that I was just happy. I am feeling good about my work, my family, my blog.

I am happier with my blog than I have been in a long time. I generally like my blog, but preparing for a panel at Blogher is what really made me so happy with it. Writing notes for Little Fish in a Small Pond reminded me why I blog, and why it is so much more rewarding to put my energy into my blog rather than into reciprocal commenting, tweeting, self-promotion and all that goes into trying to gain readership or make my site into a big name blog. I don't want to do any of that. I just want to write and take pictures and read the blogs I want to read.

In 2008 I found Blogher kind of frustrating and depressing. I had not expected the focus on sponsors and monetizing. I enjoyed meeting people but felt uncomfortable and decided it was me who was out of place. In 2010, I went to Blogher mostly to see the blog friends I already knew in person and meet people I have known and enjoyed through their blogs. I knew what the conference would be, but felt confident I could find my place in it. On the flight to New York I wrote up some thoughts, and by the time the plane landed I felt happier with my small blog than I'd felt in a long time. The feeling persisted through the conference, and came back home with me. This feeling made me decide to stop running Blogher ads, because I can't figure out why I wanted them to begin with. (Sure, the money, but honestly the amount I make from them does little more than buy me a cup of coffee now and again.)

I am happy with this place. I don't want to change it or worry that it should be something more or different. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled when you visit. I enjoy comments and encourage you to write them. But whether or not you are here, I will be. Ultimately this is for me, and I love my small blog.

Long Live the Small Blog!

For more about the joy of small blogs, check out the live blog transcript of the Small Blogs session from Blogher 2010. But be warned, the live blogger mis-understood and wrote that I said I have a child on the way. I do not. After saying that I have twins, I responded to an audience member who happily pointed at her own belly and said she was going to have twins too. I am not pregnant!

Oh, and Emily also wrote a post inspired by the small blogs session. It apparently got some folks riled up. I'd write more about that, but I am too tired. If you have also written a post on this topic, leave a message in the comments or email me. I'd love to read it!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Some New Friends

Hello to those who found me via blogher. (and hello to others too!)

I will have more to say about blogher and specifically about the session on small blogs, but for now, here are some photos of me with my new friends:

With Mrs Potato Head

With Video Game Rabbit

With Honey Bear

WIth Sneezy Kid
With Dora

WIth a Todd Parr Super Boy

With Wonder Woman

Thanks to Maggie for snapping these precious moments for me! I imagine this last one is a little fuzzy because she was shaking with excitement about meeting Wonder Woman. And that was even before WW let Maggie try out her magic lasso.

The really embarrassing thing is that after taking all these pictures, I have almost NO photos of the real people I met and hung out with at Blogher.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Think first. Cry later.

As I have mentioned to any number of people lately, my job satisfaction is at an all-time high. I don't think that I have been this happy with work since I lived in Chicago lo these many years ago. It kind of hit me by surprise, this work-happiness. Not that I was previously unhappy at this job, because (barring the here and there bumps that we all face in the world) I have enjoyed a fairly terrific job and office over the past almost-five years. I know all too well how rare it is to be able to work less than full-time in a meaningful job where people take your contributions seriously and value your efforts. (Heck, I know how rare that is in a full-time job as well!)

My present job-happiness is in large measure due to federal health reform. (Yes, I have essentially just outed myself as the biggest dork ever.) For the past several years I have been part of teams investigating, analyzing and recommending ways to improve in the Oregon health care system, knowing that much of what we recommend will be shelved for lack of funding. And now! Now we have both funding and a mandate to move forward! A big health policy geek could not ask for much more.

So yes, all is well, and we are in the middle of a lot of work. My colleagues and I are all running flat out to get everything done. This summer I upped my work hours from 24 to 32 hours and still I have more than enough to keep me busy. And last week the announcement came out for a big grant that we need. Due in a month, but mostly no problem as we have planned and considered and prepared for this moment. But still - in the next month I will be on a work/blogher trip one week and on vacation another. And as ready as we are for this grant, we still do have to apply. So I was feeling amped up and tense going into a meeting last week. The meeting involved a heated discussion about something important to me, and all of a sudden, I was in tears.

Everyone in the room looked shocked. Or horrified. Or both. It has been so long since I have cried in public this way that these people didn't know or didn't remember that this is what I do when I am nervous. Or frustrated. Or both. Tears are a physical response that happens before (and even without) a conscious feeling of frustration, stress or anger. I really was not especially upset when I started to cry. The combination of underlying stress and momentary frustration with the conversation activated my tear ducts. Everyone around me clearly thought this meant I was UPSET. I was barely even upset.

But I was embarrassed. My horror at crying in front of this group and even greater discomfort at their response left me rattled. We moved on, finishing the conversation and moving on to other topics. But it made me realize that my recent decision to contain myself more at work may be harder than I'd feared.

I want to be taken seriously and to be seen as an asset to the work we do. Watching others I respect, I recently decided that I need to employ more of a poker face. That I need to shut up more and share less goofiness. Even if I am able to do this, I am not sure I will be able to hold back the tears when they want to come. I worry for the impact this will have on my work life. The extent to which people will see me as too emotional or not strong enough to take on leadership roles. The extent to which my lability will undermine me.

I don't have much control over how I am perceived by others, but I can continue to work on how I present myself. I am voluble by nature, and a calm silence does not come naturally. If I could make a deal with my tears I would. I would give up so many things in order to know that I would not ever repeat the scene I faced in that meeting - the look of horror on the faces of my bosses and colleagues. But since I can not strike such a deal with myself, I will instead make a concerted effort to think first and speak later. It is the best I can do for now.

Tearful navel-gazer
I wanted to break up this post with a photo, but all I could think of was this 
portrait of the blogger as a tearful navel-gazer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

To the Midwest and beyond

Today I am off to Minnesota for a work conference. From there I am headed to NYC for Blogher. If you are going, please look me up. I'll be speaking (along with the fabulous Catherine and Celeste) about having and loving a small blog. Come talk with us at 3pm on Saturday!

I'm speaking

Monday, August 02, 2010

Naked, But Not Here

Many of you know and love Gwen, of Not Really. I met her when she graciously agreed to let me be a third wheel room-mate at Blogher '08. It was actually quite kind of her, given that all she knew about me was that I was friends with Debbie and needed a place to stay. I can only imagine that she was disappointed when she learned that (unlike Debbie-of-the-amazing-wardrobe) I did not arrive with my entire fantastic shoe collection, and had packed not a single wig. (Really, what was I thinking?)

Lucky for me, Gwen is very kind. Also lucky for me, she is funny. Really super funny in a wonderful dry way. With the arch of one eyebrow she had me in stitches. I am afraid I did not leave her alone the whole weekend. And yet, in her desperation to find people to blog-sit while she went on vacation, she asked me (and a bunch of other women with whom I am glad to be even tangentially affiliated) to write a guest post. And today is the day my post appears on her blog. So go visit! Look, it's me, naked. Or rather, it is me talking about naked.

Given that Gwen, when she is not traveling the U.S. on her summer tour, currently lives in Zurich, I considered titling this teaser post Live N--de Swiss Girls but I decided that would get me too much skeezy traffic. As it is, I saved this post about kids-n-naked until I could write about it someplace other than here.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I love you Chris.

I love that you are:
A wonderful husband.
A fantastic cook.*
A loving father.
An enthusiastic mathematician.
An unrepentant internet addict.

Black Eyed Susans

In the words of Fats Waller: I love yah, I love yah, I love yah.

Happy anniversary!

*I can not believe that in all the years of this blog I have not written about Chris' terrific cooking. He feeds me well. I offer as proof, two words: bbq pork.