Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Reads

Some of recent favorites:

A post by Moose in the Kitchen about trying to save a wayward dog (and how it made her feel about San Francisco).

The blog Infinite Garage Project, in which Raina documents all the stuff her mom left behind in her house and three car garage.

Read anything Smacksy writes. She is hilarious and her son is wise.

Monday, November 29, 2010

another reason I am thankful that my children have so many clothes

About once a week I need to take Ian and Mira with me to pick up Ada from school. The most direct route requires climbing a flight of stairs on the way to Ada's classroom. If I want to take Ian and Mira inside in their stroller, I have to go around to the far side of the school, past the entrance nearest to Ada's classroom, and back down the hallways packed with elementary school kids trying to get out of the building. Have you ever seen salmon swimming upstream? It is a little like that, except that I am the salmon and the kids are the current.

To avoid the stroller-derby, I often bring a baby backpack along and, leaving the stroller at a bike rack, I transfer one kid to the pack and let the other walk with me up the stairs and down the hall to Ada's class. At first this worked fine, but now the kid in the pack gets annoyed that she or he is not the one granted freedom. (And frankly, the walker gets annoyed when I keep steering him or her away from all the fun things in Ada's classroom.) Getting the kids back into the stroller after we get Ada is also a problem.

The other day Mira lost the coin toss and was on my back while Ian got to roam. Mira complained the whole time I had her in the pack and both she and Ian were less than excited when I suggested they get back into the stroller for the walk home. Luckily, Ada decided she would like to walk with Mira.

The two girls took off down the block while Ian and I moved at a more leisurely pace. (He decided he needed to touch each pole we passed, yelling "pole!" and smiling broadly.) When we got to the end of the block, I had to negotiate two toddlers, the stroller and one "big" kid. Oh, and the actual corner was blocked off that day, as it was under construction to make it more accessible (workers were putting in a yellow rumble strip*). Ada had Mira's hand, while I held Ian's and pushed the stroller. Except that Ada didn't notice that the big pile of wet leaves next to the curb hid a fair sized puddle. Mira stepped off the curb and into the leafy puddle, falling over and soaking herself. Did I mention it was cold and rainy that day?

After our collective "oh crap" moment, Ada takes over the stroller while I hold Ian's hand and carry Mira football style across the street. Safe on the sidewalk I strip Mira of her pants, shoes and socks. She does not appear upset to be covered in icy, muddy water. Nor does she mind being stripped to her diaper on a cold and rainy street corner. What she does mind is being put back into the stroller. Crazy person that I am, I think she'll be warmer (and dare I think, happier) in the stroller, cozy in a fleece wrap.  Needless to say (but I will), she is NOT happy. She screams and stiffens. Meanwhile, Ian finds a stick and starts poking a puddle. Ada alerts me to Ian's entertainments, so I ask her to make sure he stays out of the street. I shove Mira into the stroller and ignore her wails while I strap her in. Looking up, I see Ada (on the sidewalk) watching Ian (in the street) happily standing in and poking a large puddle by the curb.

Alarmed, I ask Ada if I hadn't told her to keep him out of the street. "I couldn't stop him" she says. Not wanting to stop to argue, I scoop up Ian (muttering my "no street, no street" mantra) and strip off his soggy boots before shoving him in the stroller. Chaos contained (or at least limited to two wailing toddlers) we slowly make our way home, where we all change clothes and have warm snacks and drinks.

Ah, parenthood. All's well that end's well, right? This story comes to mind a lot in the weeks since it happened. I think of it especially when people sympathetically say things like "it must be so hard to be at work and missing your kids." I do miss them but I don't miss building more memories like this one.

* You really do learn something new every day. That stuff is called tactile paving, apparently.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

November 8: Graffiti on White Wall

Must all shortcuts and conveniences be subject to so much epicurean bullying and such internal shame?

Frank Bruni
Loving Coffee Without Being A Drip

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Truer Words Were Never Written


I think she intended to make more comparisons between us, but got distracted.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Before the Month is Up

October Blue Collage

From the October (Blue) series. Ten color months down, one to limp through go.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is the first year that I have spent the bulk of my work days in Portland rather than an hour away in Salem. This is the first year that I have made a concerted effort to bike to and from work on my Portland days, the first fall that I prepared for rain and darkness with rain pants and lots of blinky lights. Day after cloudy day I get on the bike and pedal to work. (This is actually pretty easy - it is downhill almost the whole way, and not so far that I get to work sweaty or out of breath.)

With the time change, I have been conscious of the lights on my bike. This summer I got a new front (white) light, bigger and brighter than my old one. Unfortunately, it was slipping and tipping down as I rode. I took it off to fix it, and (predictably) forgot it at home on Thursday.

Heading out of the office that night I realized I did not have my front light. After briefly considering whether I should ride without a front light or call Chris for help, I realized that I had my old light in my saddle bag. "Lucky," I thought. "I'm stupid, but lucky."

I strapped on the light and hit the (dark, wet) road. On the ride home I thought about this switch to bike commuting and felt pretty good. I didn't mind the cold or the rain. With my gloves and rain pants, I felt protected. A few blocks from home I pedaled quickly through a busy intersection. Heading into the next (much smaller) intersection I looked left to see a car zooming toward me. In the couple of seconds I had to assess the situation, I saw that the car was going to hit me and considered how I could keep that from happening. I couldn't. Fortunately, the driver (who had gunned his engine in order to get across the intersection before the car trailing me blocked his path) slammed on his brakes. Instead of flying over the car's hood as I'd feared, I felt the front of the car tap my bike. Yes, TAP. I felt the contact, but I was not heart and neither was my bike.

Moving out of the intersection, I looked over my shoulder to see the driver stop and roll down his window.

"Are you okay?" he asked?

"I'm not hurt." I offered. "That was really scary." I wracked my brain for what to say to him to express how scared I was, how angry. But there was nothing to say - I wasn't hurt and I could not really force him to get out of his car and kiss my shaking feet. So I got back on my bike and pedaled away. I biked to work on Friday with the sense that if I didn't fear could keep me from getting on my bike for a long time.

A recent study indicates that accidents and injuries are fairly common for bicyclists. One in five regular bike commuters in Portland reported being injured in an accident. I understand that this is a risk of biking, but until now I had been lucky enough not to experience it myself. I am still lucky; I was shaken up but not injured.

Another example of my charmed life, I suppose, but also a reminder to be more careful and not ever think that because I have never had a close call before that I won't again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Superhero Supply in Brooklyn

You know baby
When I was taking my pantyhose
Out of their egg this evening
I thought, I'm gonna find that man
Who has the right shade of bottled tan
A man who smells like cocoa butter and cash

Scissor Sisters
Any Which Way

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House of Blllrrrgh

Last week Ian and Mira got a stomach bug. By Saturday they seemed better (ie, had gone a day with out vomiting). By Sunday morning I was nauseous; by the late afternoon I was throwing up. Ada joined me in this by the evening.

I stayed home from work Monday morning and hung out with Ian and Mira while Chris worked for a few hours and Ada snuggled in our bed. Mira was pretty perky but Ian had vomited again early in the day and was clearly not fully recovered. Ian came up to the couch and put his torso on it, while his feet remained on the floor. I rubbed his back and within a couple of minutes I heard... what's that? snoring.

sleeping Ian (long view)

Meanwhile, Ada posted the following on her door:

Please send me a card

She'd originally wanted to ask her friends for sympathy presents, but Chris told her it might be better to requests cards. (Despite the learner's spelling, she is not actually asking for a Toyota.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Etiquette, Holiday Edition

The holidays are coming, which makes me think about, well, obligation gifts. Off the top of my head I can think of the following categories of people I will or should be giving gifts to:

  • Nanny
  • House cleaner
  • Newspaper delivery person
  • Postal worker (if you are my parents, at least*)
  • Administrative staffer(s) who have helped me in the past year
  • Ada's teacher
Now this last one is the thing that got me started thinking about all this. I saw this idea on parenthacks for a teacher gift, which sounds delicious but made me think: ANOTHER person to whom I now have a seasonal obligation?

Don't get me wrong, I really like Ada's teacher, and Ada clearly thinks she's fantastic. But am I supposed to buying or making her a gift? Isn't it enough that we are ceaselessly engaged in the financial support of the school, or bringing snack, doing the weekly class wash or volunteering for lunch duty, cooking assistant or PE helper? (Okay, I am not volunteering much, but Chris has done more than his share of this kind of thing over the past few months.)

So what do you do? Do you give the teacher a gift? The postal worker? The newspaper guy? (the latter is probably the most in need financially, and he has done a good job getting the paper on the porch this rainy season...) Who else do you give gifts to at the holidays? Why or why not? 

*My parents seem to have very good relations with their postal worker. I think this guy has moved on, but for a while they had a postal worker nicknamed Smokey, who left them a fantastic, idiosyncratic poem one year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wait, Who's the Map?

Ada, while watching Dora, responded to seeing the talking Map discussing the three landmarks on the map of the day:

"How can the map be on the map?"

Good question.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Keep Thrilling Me

Just one more reason why I love Portland:

Video by goldensummitinc

Friday, November 05, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week


is your dad a dealer,
'cause you're dope to me


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

To a friend who is getting ready to bring home her second child:

Don't worry that this new baby will be a stress to your first born. We all love our first babies so intensely. We worry over them in a way that is often impossible with the second or third. Your first is a strong child and will gain so much for having a sibling. There will be stress for everyone, but it is also growth. I know for Ada, the days she gets frustrated with Ian and Mira are outweighed by what they do for her. As a five year old she may not appreciate what it means to have siblings, but they are teaching her so much about love and joy (and yes, about sharing and compromise).

There are of course days when Ada thinks it would have been better to have been an only. She recently told Chris and me that she doesn't like our family with Ian and Mira. When we asked her why, she replied "Because sometimes Ian bugs me." Chris and I had to hold our tongues so we did not tell her that sometimes she bugs us. Instead, Chris politic-ly said that sometimes people in a family bother one another, but they also so things for one another. "Like what?" Like loving one another. Ian and Mira love Ada so much, even if they show that love in sometimes overly drooly, toddler-messy ways.

I recently read that having a sister makes people happier. I know it is true for me, and I am hopeful that my kids will feel their lives similarly improved by having one another. (and given how chatty Ian is these days, the rationale in the article may hold true for him too)

I am sure that this is how it will be for your family too. Your children will be enriched by having one another. Sharing the experience of growing up together will bond them, as will their happiness at having one another to share stories about their crazy parents. (Not that my sister and I ever do this, mind you. But I've heard some siblings do...)

I am so excited to meet your new baby and to see you four as you grow into being a family together.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Wonder Woman and the Herd

the herd
Giraffes live in herds, right? 

October 31: Wonderwoman in her blue skirt
One of the few pictures she'd let me take of her in full Wonder Woman get up

I take lots of pictures of him because he lets me
Ian Giraffe posing for his animal-loving fans

Mira in full Giraffe regalia
Mira was not at all interested in being photographed. She preferred foraging for dinner at the neighborhood party. Plus, the COOKIE! (and later, the CHOCOLATE!)

Giraffe boy
Simultaneously giraffe and ham