Our Third Family Vacation, Pt. 2

…continued from part 1

Day 2 started as I suspected, with a less-than-stellar breakfast. While the hotel had a much more vast selection than most hotels offer, it was pretty bland food. I had a bagel and some hash browns. Shaun had eggs, sausage and hash browns. Sonja had hash browns. Afterwards, we headed out to the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm (that’s Canadian for petting zoo). We walked, and on the way were forced to trek through Beacon Hill park, which is terribly lovely. We ran into a peacock along the way. We were early to the farm, so we explored a little more of the park. This was probably the best part of this trip, and when we go back, I’ll make it a point to go there again.

A Canadian Peacock. Maw...Eh?

A Canadian Peacock. Maw…Eh?

 

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park

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Silly poses

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Running through the flowers

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One of many lovely ponds. She’s standing directly in front of the fountain.

The petting zoo was small, but we were there in time for the goat stampede, which was pretty cute. Then Sonja brushed some of the goats and watched while they mingled with other children. We looked at bunnies and alpacas and birds, oh my. We didn’t spend nearly as much time here as I expected, because it was so tiny. So off we went a-walkin’, again.

Children's farm is Canadian for petting zoo. Phew, I was a little worried.

Children’s farm is Canadian for petting zoo. Phew, I was a little worried.

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Goats and children mingling.

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Hellooo? Anybody home?

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Brushing a goat.

Tea shopping was on my itinerary for the day, but we didn’t make it that far before Sonja got whiny and I got hungry. I had also wanted to stop at the downtown Victoria mall, and that is where we went to eat. I don’t have any idea why I let myself stop at a food court for lunch. Mall food is universally terrible, and the sesame chicken I ordered should have been called sesame dough balls. At least Sonja enjoyed the piece of terrible-looking pizza we got her.

Then it was more walkin’, and I found the Silk Road Tea Spa, which was recommended by the travel guide. A few people were there on some sort of Tea Tour (if only I had known!) and I overheard the guide talking about how to brew a proper cup of tea, including the steps, which seem now common sense to me, of making sure the water is the right temperature (differs for the type of tea you’re brewing) and steeping for the correct amount of time (too long can turn your tea bitter.)

I purchased some tea and as we left. Sonja was having an “I don’t want to walk anymore” meltdown. We promised her we’d get her ice cream on the way back to the hotel, and we’d rest before we went to afternoon tea. She wound up with a chocolate shake because the gelato tourist shops were scary in a “we-might-be-harboring listeria” kind of way.

"I'm tired of walking!" In front of Fan Tan Alley

“I’m tired of walking!” In front of Fan Tan Alley

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After a brief respite at our hotel, all three of us headed out to the Empress hotel for what I knew would be a ridiculously expensive tea time. I already knew Shaun wasn’t particularly going to like it. I thought he might enjoy the pastries. I figured I’d like the tea – though I did wonder what the reception would be like when I asked for ice. When we got there, we were seated near the piano player, who was playing muzak renditions of everything from Toy Story to Bob Dylan. We were immediately served three dishes of blueberries covered in whipped cream. Two dishes remained uneaten when the waitress checked back, and I explained that Sonja wasn’t going to eat anything. (If only I’d said the same about Shaun.) We ordered the Empress blend of tea and a Darjeeling. I requested a glass of ice for Sonja, and the waitress looked at me like I’d asked to to go to Mars and bring back a Martian. We got the ice, and Sonja said she liked the tea. But after Shaun put a couple of sugar cubes in his cup, Sonja wanted to do the same. I warned her she wouldn’t like it (she won’t drink anything with sugar in it), but she did it anyway. When she didn’t like it, I poured the sweetened tea into my cup, and poured her a new cup. Now I didn’t want my tea because it was sweetened (I don’t like anything in my tea), and Sonja started complaining that the tea was different and she didn’t like it. It suddenly dawned on me. The tea was bitter. There’s only one way tea gets bitter. I popped the top on the teapot and sure enough, the tea bag was still in the teapot. Apparently the employees of the Empress had yet to take that tea tour. At this point, I realized where things were headed, and when I asked for the check, I somehow received a 20% discount since we didn’t like it. It must’ve been Sonja’s cuteness. It still cost us over $100 to not drink tea and not eat anything. As we were waiting for the credit card to come back, Sonja started complaining that she didn’t want to listen to the music anymore. I can’t say I blame her for that. Really, her instincts were spot on. So I can’t recommend the Empress experience unless bitter tea and hoity-toity snacks are your purview.

The only happy moment of the entire experience.

The only happy moment of the entire experience.

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After tea we retreated to the hotel once again, and at this point the vacation was winding down. We were headed to the ferry at 9 a.m. the next morning for a 10:30 sailing, and I still had one thing on my list I wanted to accomplish. As strange as it sounds, that thing was Wal-Mart Canada. My French friend told me that’s where she got half of the French-themed decorations for her house, and as I am partial to those types of decorations myself, I wanted to see for myself. Part of the appeal of this little excursion was that we would need the car, and that would lessen the walking, and hopefully the whining, significantly. The 15-minute drive was pleasant – a nice glimpse into greater Victoria. Surprisingly, the gigantic, two-story Wal-Mart didn’t disappoint, and I came home with a tablecloth, placemats and kitchen towels. However, they did not have the extra special deodorant and, as I did not make it to any other drugstores, my stockpile is only three deep.

Canada - More French than America, less French than France.

Canada – More French than America, less French than France.

That night Sonja slept through the night and I slept better. I was happy my internal alarm woke me at the correct time because my phone had died in the middle of the night. I had leftover spaghetti for breakfast, and we got in line for the ferry. Sonja wanted to eat on the ferry again, but all they had were breakfast foods – nothing she would touch. We climbed up the steps to the deck seating area, and were greeted by exceedingly pleasant weather. Sonja danced and did gymnastics in an effort to entertain the other passengers. By the time we reached Port Angeles around noon, we were all hungry so we stopped at a Frugal’s. Sonja was asleep before we hit the drive-through, and slept the entire way home.

Last stop - ringing the bell on the ferry.

Last stop – ringing the bell on the ferry.

Now she tells me frequently that she misses Canada. When I ask her what specifically she misses, she says eating snacks and watching TV. Sigh. At least she had fun.

 

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Our Third Family Vacation, Pt. 1

After the disappointing end to last year’s beach-side vacation, we decided that Seaside would not, in fact, become an annual family tradition. Through no fault of its own, we just could not bear to go back to the beach this year. We decided instead to hit up Victoria, BC, location of our honeymoon and many fond memories. We told Sonja that she would get to go on a ferry boat, and this made her very excited. I tried to instill the concept that Canada was a foreign country (really the concept of country all together), with a small amount of success. Although I try to keep most activities under wraps until the last second, so I don’t have to hear a constant barrage of, “is it time yet?” questions, I let her know early that this was the plan so she could get excited. And excited she did get.

Watching the ferry arrive

Watching the ferry arrive

We decided to go for two days for a number of reasons. The journey is too long for just a one night stay, and Sonja is still young enough that any more than two would be too exhausting for me. Plus, Shaun didn’t have a lot of vacation time accrued at his new job. Our original intent was to take the Clipper, as was the plan for the honeymoon. Both times, however, a search for Clipper vacation packages resulted in the knowledge that the sailing times are very inconvenient for people who live an hour south of Seattle, and the ferry from Port Angeles is much cheaper with more convenient times. In the end I’m glad we went that way, as we pack too heavily to not take the car.

Before the day arrived, I was showing Sonja pictures of the boat on the ferry’s website, and happened across the information that they serve ice cream. She knew immediately that she wanted ice cream, but was concerned about exactly where she would eat the ice cream. I explained that it was a very big boat, and there were tables and chairs where she could sit down and eat the ice cream. She then began telling everyone she saw that she was going to sit at a table and eat ice cream on the ferry.

Eating ice cream. On a boat. At a table.

Eating ice cream. On a boat. At a table.

It’d been seven years since our last visit. I remember Victoria as a sleepy town, but not as sleepy as Seaside. I borrowed a guidebook from the library and looked online for kid-friendly activities. There were a few that I earmarked, with the intent of playing it by ear.

Honeymoon selfie. From before the word selfie even existed.

Honeymoon selfie. From before the word selfie even existed.

We arrived in Victoria on a Sunday afternoon, and were half an hour early for hotel check-in. This may be the only time I’ve been turned away for arriving early. We took a short walk, which took us directly by the horse-drawn carriage tours. Sonja immediately started lobbying for a ride, but to no avail. It was expensive and we figured after one whiff of the horse poo, she’d want to get off.

Walking around Victoria

Walking around Victoria

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Where does she come up with these poses?

Where does she come up with these poses?

In front of the parliament buildings.

In front of the parliament buildings.

Making a wish

Making a wish

After checking in to the hotel, which was very nice and had an unexpected but small kitchen, we headed off to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. I’m somewhat amazed that I did not know Victoria had an OSF when we went on our honeymoon. It seems like the kind of thing I’d suss out early. But I knew this time, and it was only a few blocks from the hotel.

The Embassy Inn

The Embassy Inn

It was a long dinner, during which I had to exchange Sonja’s drink twice and her meal once. We left a nice tip for the friendly waitress, and started walking. Most shops and activities were closed already (this was about 7 o’clock), but there were a few souvenir shops and drug stores still open. I realized that I’d forgotten to bring Sonja’s toothbrush, so we stopped at a 7/11 to buy her one. They did not have a kid-size one, so we plunked down $4 Canadian for an adult one that we figured we’d throw away after the trip. Then, on our walk back to the hotel, we found a proper drugstore, a kind of Canadian Rite- Aid. There we found a kid’s toothbrush, and after some fussing about which character she wanted on her toothbrush (she settled on Marty from Madagascar), I stood up from crouching and turned to exit the aisle. I found myself staring directly at my favorite deodorant which I haven’t been able to find in the States for years. (It is nearly impossible to find strictly deodorant – not antiperspirant – in the ladies’ deodorant section. Go ahead. Look. You’ll see I’m right. Now go to the men’s section. See how much more choice they have?) I really liked this brand for being cheaper and better smelling than what I could find in the organic aisles. I cleared off the shelf and intended to stop by every drugstore I could find the next day to clean them out too.

Waiting for the food

Waiting for the food

Outside the entrance

Outside the entrance

Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory

Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory

High off that triumph, we headed back to the hotel a little worn out, a little weary and some of us (I won’t say who) a little whiny. The beds were comfy (though not the pillows), the a/c cold and the hotel quiet. Still, it took me a long time to fall asleep, and I was awakened at four a.m. by Sonja, who was complaining that she couldn’t smell. She was just having some allergies – happens all the time to me and Shaun in hotel rooms. It took another hour for us to get back to sleep. And by 7 the next morning, we were up and getting ready to head downstairs for the hotel’s free buffet-style breakfast.

What else does Canada have that the US has discontinued?

What else does Canada have that the US has discontinued?

Continue to Part 2…

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My 7th Anniversary – The All-Food Edition

Seven years of marriage, another seven or so of dating. A 14-year span of time gone by inexplicably and unacceptably fast. Instead of dwelling on the shock of it all, I have been thinking recently of the time before the wedding. Seven years and three months ago, I undertook a dairy-free diet. I searched the web for diets that were good for skin, and out of the several I found, the only one I thought I could keep up for three-months was the one that eliminated dairy. I totally rocked this diet with only a single cheat day half-way through. I remember passing up M&Ms at work, rebuffing a coworker who was coaxing me to just take a few. If you know me, you know that passing up M&Ms meant I was deadly serious.

Spoiler alert: Avoiding dairy did nothing for my skin. However, by the day of the wedding, through what can only be described as a combination of diet and exercise, I’d achieved the figure I’d more or less been trying to achieve.

On my way to the ceremony, looking and feeling good.

On my way to the ceremony, looking and feeling good.

Let me explain something. I’ve never been fat. I’ve been skinny and even scrawny at times, but I’ve never had a particularly flat stomach. So of course that is what I want, almost more than anything, except of course M&Ms. I was proud of my small achievement and pinned all of the success on the dairy-free lifestyle. Dairy, I figured, just didn’t agree with me. Neither the exercise, nor the stress, nor the length of time figured into any of my post-wedding assessments of the diet.

I got married on a Saturday morning and by nightfall I was in Canada eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory, puffing out and completely ruining three-months worth of work. It seemed that to continue the flat-stomached figure, I’d need to continue the dairy-free lifestyle, and long story short, that wasn’t going to happen.

However I’ve spent much of the last seven years obsessing about my lack of resolve, feeling guilty whenever I eat cheese, and embarking on dairy “cleanses” in an attempt to recapture the glory. There are a few dairy items that I’ve had to divorce. Cream and I just didn’t get along anymore so we parted ways. And since I wasn’t much of a milk enthusiast anyway, I stayed with almond milk. But cheese. Oh my, cheese. I will always and forever love cheese. And it’s cheese that ruins any and all attempts to remove dairy from my diet. I can get by for a couple of months, or until someone puts a pizza in front of me, whichever comes first.

Recently, after attempting a difficult elimination diet that allowed cheese but almost nothing else, I decided that I didn’t want to eliminate things from my diet anymore. There are a few things that have had to go over the years, like MSG because of its headache-triggering properties, some legumes for the same reason, and the aforementioned cream, but they are minimal and not really missed. I started to realize that full-scale, cold-turkey withdrawal just leads to cravings and binges (duh), and that eating less of these things and exercising more over a significant and sustained period of time might be the thing to reproduce those wedding results.

We are a culture that is obsessed with food, and obsessed with elimination and diets. One year we have to eat no fat so we binge on carbs, the next we eat no carbs and binge on fat. It’s all meant to make us feel better about what we’re eating, because ultimately we are trying to feel better when we eat. But it makes no sense in the long run. Bingeing and purging is the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do — the right thing to do — is to make lifestyle changes and choices, and to stick by them through the fads and the fledgling nutritional science. So from now on I’m going to eat that pizza in front of me, I’m just going to try not to eat the whole thing.

Oh also, I’m trying this new thing where I accept who I am. I think it will help. Maybe you could try it too.

This cake is not dairy-free.

This cake is not dairy-free.

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My Lost DisneyWorld Epilogue

I was doing a little spring cleaning of my hard drives, and I found this blog entry from January 2009. It was meant to be a follow-up/epilogue to the series I posted about our Dinseyworld honeymoon. For some unknown reason, I never posted it. Reading it now, it seems totally ready for blog-dom, so I’ve decided it’s never too late to share. I originally titled the piece Don’t Fly U.S. Airways. There is only one missing detail (that I can recall), and it’s that the girl sitting next to me, on her way back to school at UW, was also sick. Immediately after we landed, she said exactly what I was thinking: “Well, that was the worst flight ever.” Read on for the rest of the details.

A Disney Honeymoon - Pre-Sickness

A Disney Honeymoon – Pre-Sickness

Don’t Fly U.S. Airways
from January 2009

Well I had hoped to post an update on the great Disney adventure a day or two after we returned, but I fell ill on the plane ride home. Well, I was already sick. I’d caught a cold on New Year’s Eve amongst the masses at the Magic Kingdom, but it was a mild cold. Then in the midst of the day of flying, I began to feel like one of the people in those early ’90s commercials… “Oh, I can’t fly with this head cold!” Only I didn’t have any Anacin, or whatever it was they were hawking, to help me out.

Shaun and I flew Alaska Airlines on the way to Florida. It was a non-stop, five-hour flight, and if you read the first entry of the trip, you know that it was a pleasant flight all around. The seats were comfortable, there was complimentary beverage service and though we did not take advantage of it, they offered DVD players with several movie selections for rent. The flight left and landed on time. It was great.

And on the way back, we flew U.S. Airways. This was a mistake. Repeat: Flying U.S. Airways is a mistake. Don’t fly U.S. Airways. U.S. Airways sucks. We boarded a two-hour flight from Florida to Philadelphia. We weren’t seated together so we had to ask another passenger to change seats with us. (Which he did, very nice guy.) Then, we had a three hour layover in the Philadelphia airport. For the next flight, Shaun and I still weren’t sitting together, and were even boarding in different zones. (Instead of calling rows 1-whatever, they print zone numbers on the tickets.) So we decided to wait until Shaun’s zone, the later and what turned out to be last, zone boarded. As we were walking down the ramp to the plane, an airport worker came running after me shouting something about my suitcase, then grabbed it, put a checked baggage tag on it and told me to leave it at the door. Well I wasn’t about to do that, so I took it on the plane anyway. Of course, being the last people to board, they’d run out of room in the overhead compartment and again they took my bag from me.

When we finally got in the air, all beverages were $2.00 or more, and I couldn’t even get a free cup of water. I could have paid for a drink, but unlike Alaska, which is a cashless cabin, U.S. only takes cash, which I did not have. By now, the (literal) pressure was getting to me and I was definitely uncomfortable.

There was no entertainment whatsoever. Nothing for free, nothing for rent. The rows of seats were closer together than they were on the Alaska plane, and all three people in front of me reclined ALL the way back, as far as they could, as soon as the fasten seat-belt sign was off. And they stayed like that the whole flight. This made for extremely cramped quarters, especially when I was trying to watch a video on my laptop. And my laptop is tiny! Then when we finally got off the plane, we had to wait at least a half an hour to get my suitcase from baggage claim.

It was absolutely the worst flight I’ve ever been on. And this awful, horrible flight was provided by U.S. Airways!

The next day, I was really not feeling well. My mild cold was mild no longer. I had the day off but was scheduled to return to work the following day. I thought if I didn’t feel better the next morning, I would go to the walk-in clinic where Shaun’s sister works. I thought this for a while, and about 4:30 in the afternoon, after checking that the clinic was still open, I insisted Shaun take me right then. It was as if we never landed, the pressure in my sinuses was so great. I got some steroids and antibiotics, and was out of it for about a week. Now, ten days later, I finally feel better, but I still have an obnoxious cold. And for all of this, I blame, who was it again? U.S. Airways. I couldn’t even get water!

Anyway, that was the worst part of the trip. Every time I fly, I hate it more and more (because they make it harder and harder) but now I see the difference between a good airline and a bad one. The rest of the trip was good. It wasn’t without its fair share of problems, but I’m glad we went. Next time I spend that kind of money, I’ll be going to Europe, but I’m glad we went.

From the good flight, the first flight, Alaska Airlines

From the good flight, the first flight, Alaska Airlines

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My Three-and-Three-Quarters Year Old

Three-and-three quarters. I’ll transition from saying she’s three-and-a-half to saying she’s nearly four. I am somewhat impatient for four to come along. Three has been an endless roundtable of questions (why? why? why?) and illogical tantrums, set off by nothing and often unintelligible. It is not the fact that these things happen but the frequency that leaves one exhausted and gasping for air. There is, of course, no guarantee that magically at age four all of the previous troubles will disappear, but one can hope. (And yes, I know, new ones will take their place so perhaps it is six of one tantrum…)

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Sonja has also been going through a very clingy phase, and though it is probably totes normal, I can’t help but think I traumatized her. I went back to work in late March for a short, six-week project, but it was a 40+ hour work week with a long commute on either side, and Tuesday and Wednesday nights I went to night classes. So that left two whole days where I left before she woke up and returned after she was asleep. Though I heard from everyone around that she behaved great all day and even went to bed peacefully for Dad, the fit throwing the rest of the week for me was epic. Since I have been back home some of that has settled, but she has started hesitating and sometimes bawling when I leave her, even if she is going to Grandma’s, which is one of her favorite places.

At the park

At the park

But leave her I can. For the first time, we had to employ the services of a sitter, and found a nice woman near my parents to take the job. I was very nervous for everyone involved, but everything turned out fine. One Friday night after work, I was telling Sonja I would be home for the weekend and we could do lots of fun things together like build castles with legos. I asked her what else she wanted to do, and she said I could take her to Debbie’s (babysitter) and they could play princesses. So I guess maybe she wasn’t that traumatized.

Being silly in Mom's socks

Being silly in Mom’s socks

Speaking of princess, that dreaded phase has arrived with fury. She still likes Big Hero 6, her movie obsession from the last update, but her favorite things du jour are Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She had seen Frozen but was not particularly enamored with it until she went to a friend’s Frozen-themed birthday party. Now it’s all the rage. With all the vitriol I have towards princess culture, one would think that I would be happy she’s mixing things up by also loving the Turtles. And I am glad we are not a one-hit wonder household. (Those Frozen songs really get stuck in your head!) But I’m not super excited by this interest in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There are infinite variations, incarnations, movies and TV shows featuring these characters and not one has half the intelligence and wit of Frozen. In addition to being #TeamElsa, Sonja is #TeamMichelangelo. Elsa is obvious, she’s got the powers (though I don’t care what you say about the impressive vocal range of Idina Menzel, I prefer the pleasantness of Kristen Bell’s (Anna) singing voice), but it appear she likes “Mikey” because he is silly.

Sonja and Queen Elsa

Sonja and Queen Elsa

Sonja in her Elsa dress. Riding a crocodile.

Sonja in her Elsa dress. Riding a crocodile.

I was so relieved as we headed in to warmer weather, and Sonja could ditch the socks she never wears anyway in favor of flip-flops, and I could stop fighting with her over the weather-appropriateness of short-sleeves. But all she ever wants to wear now is her long-sleeve, polyester Frozen dress, and gloves that help control her power. (Obviously.) Try explaining to a stranger why your kid is wearing gloves in 85 degree weather, especially one that has not seen Frozen. Oh, and she’s finally decided that she should sleep under a blanket, so good timing for that when her room is 80 degrees at 10 o’clock at night.

Sleeping with her gloves on. You know, to control her powers.

Sleeping with her gloves on. You know, to control her powers.

In other happenings this quarter, we bought Sonja a scooter, for unknown reasons. I guess I didn’t think she was ready for a bike but thought she might have some fun with the scooter. For the record, she has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle scooter, Frozen knee and elbow pads, and a psychedelic kitty helmet.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Scooter

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Scooter

Suited up and ready to go!

Suited up and ready to go!

I took her to the Children’s Museum in Tacoma one day after my job ended, a special outing, and I lost her when she ducked under a treehouse and never came out the other side, that I saw. She was playing at the other end of the museum, but panic, thy name is a missing child. On the way back from the museum, we stopped at the UWT bookstore, and I caved and bought her a stuffed husky she liked. She decided that she was going to name him Ketovey (Keh-toe-vee) and I so loved the originality of this that I reinforced it, as well as the idea that this latest stuffed animal was her favorite. (Wouldn’t want my money spent in vain…) It worked until I bought her a Michelangelo action figure, and that seems to be her new best toy.

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We took the link light rail to the Children’s Museum. I think that was her favorite part.

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Water Table Fun

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Hand Dryer Fun

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An Owl Costume

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All tuckered out

She finished up the year in preschool and towards the end, made a new friend named David when they started birdwatching together. He’s the same age and nearly twice her size so it’s an interesting pairing.

Sonja's Special Day at preschool

Sonja’s Special Day at preschool

And looking for something to do over the summer, I signed her up for ballet, which she adores. She glommed on to a girl who was wearing a nearly identical outfit, and wouldn’t let go of her hand. I asked her what her new friend’s name was; she didn’t know. I asked her what she liked about her new friend; she said she had a pretty, flat ponytail. If only we could make friends like this as adults.

Napping after ballet with Ketovey.

Napping after ballet with Ketovey.

She’s getting better at taking the stairs with alternating feet. She makes up her own games all the time, and sometimes they are completely original and totally non-sensical, and sometimes they derive from movie scenes. She is constantly singing, usually made up songs about whatever is happening at that moment. It’s super cute. She also sings along with Frozen and other songs, and she can remember the lyrics and sing in tune. She has her own opinions and is not afraid to voice them, nor is she shy. She’ll talk to anyone who will listen. She has always been stubbornly independent, but she’s getting a little better at doing things herself. She loves to feed the dog, which she can do all by herself so long as it’s the kibble. After reading what is now my favorite tip ever on Pinterest, I put all of her cups in a basket on a shelf down low, and when she wants water she can get it herself, instead of yelling at me that I picked the wrong cup.

Some of the creatures in the house seem to want attention...

Some of the creatures in the house seem to want my attention…

Even though the fits and tantrums are exhausting, I can tell she is transitioning into kid-dom. There are negotiations and pleas, some won and some lost. The exciting things (holidays, trips) are the most exciting things ever, and the boring days are very, very boring. There aren’t many gross motor milestones left. I have a little kid on my hands who looks and acts and talks like a little kid, and when did that happen?

Eating a "Bido" popsicle at the farmer's market

Eating a “Bido” popsicle at the farmer’s market

All wet

All wet

Testing out the new spray area at Pioneer Park

Testing out the new spray area at Pioneer Park

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My Letterman

There seems to be a lot of endings this year. Mad Men. The Colbert Report. Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. Perhaps the saddest and most melancholy for me is the end of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Dave was on the air for 33 years. I heard about him first from my parents, but I only saw one of the “old” shows – Late Night with David Letterman – on NBC. It was when They Might Be Giants were on and I recorded the episode to see them. The show was bizarre. Dave made a phone call to a woman in an office building across from his and talked to her for a while. I loved it.

When Dave moved to the 11:30 slot on CBS on August 30th, 1993 – the eve of my 15th birthday – I watched the inaugural episode and was delighted by a reference in the opening monologue to Ringo Starr. I didn’t get to be a regular viewer of the show in high school though. I was quite the insomniac, but 11:30 was still pretty late when I had to be up at 6 in the morning.

My Late Show Hoodie which doesn't fit very well anymore. I wear it in the morning sometimes.

My Late Show Hoodie which doesn’t fit very well anymore. I wear it in the morning sometimes.

By the time I got to college, I never missed the show. Never. I had a streak that lasted probably 7, maybe 10 years. I was really upset that when I went to study abroad in England that I would miss three months of shows. But he was on there too, just a day behind and an hour earlier (or maybe later). The night I arrived in town, Paul Simon was the guest.

Sarcasm has always been my kind of humor. I’d say I knew that by middle school, well before most of my peers had caught on. And some people never catch on to sarcasm, but for me, Dave was my guy. Self-deprecating, sharp, and assured. I saw Larry King interview Dave and he talked about not going to parties. Here’s the transcript:

KING: You don’t go to parties. You shy away from parties.

LETTERMAN: I never went to parties, even when I was in school.

KING: I know, but why?

LETTERMAN: I don’t know. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go to parties. I’m my own party, Larry.

KING: Do you like aloneness?

LETTERMAN: No, not necessarily. I’m very happy with the way my life is. I’m just not driven, drawn, motivated to go to parties. I’m in show business, you’re in show business; let’s go out and buy socks.

As a college student who had no interest – and I mean zero – in going to parties, I loved that someone as famous and smart as Dave shared the same mindset. He didn’t just provide my kind of humor, he seemed like my kind of guy. I really was quite the insomniac for a very long time, and I used to joke that whether I saw the show or not, I couldn’t fall asleep until 12:35. It was one of those funny but true bits.

I got this postcard on "The Ave" in college, when the winter Olympics were on CBS. I can't remember if I bought it or if it was free.

I got this postcard on “The Ave” in college, when the winter Olympics were on CBS. I can’t remember if I bought it or if it was free.

Over the past several years, the diligence of my watching went down. With a small child and sometimes work, it wasn’t something that fit my schedule. That pesky insomnia went away and if I did tune in, I was usually out before the monologue was finished. Perhaps most importantly, times changed, as they are wont to do, and broadcast television is something that I’ve almost completely eradicated from my life. Dave wasn’t easy to watch online. The Colbert Report, at a half an hour and offered up with a few hour delay on Hulu, was. (By the way, I am so excited that Colbert will be taking over this spot, and I think he’s the right man for the job, but it is sad that in so many ways the new show will be less accessible to me than the old one on cable.)

I fought back sleep to watch Dave’s final episode and lamented that my dream to see him in person vanished without my consent. Dave truly was an integral part of my life for a very long time, and I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through college or the early days of having an infant without him. Even though I was not watching him as much as I used to, I’m kinda mad and pretty sad he won’t be there anymore. It’s change. And Dave and I, we don’t like change.

My "Late Show" mug, the same kind that was on Dave's desk.

My “Late Show” mug, the same kind that was on Dave’s desk.

“Any enormous, uprooting change in my life has petrified me. Really petrified me. But once I’ve come through the other side, the reward has been unimaginable.” – David Letterman

 

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My Three-and-a-Half Year Old

With a whopping three of them already behind me, I think of the -and-a-half  updates as the slowest time of the year, what with the last three months being the dead of winter. And yet, as always, a lot of stuff happened this quarter.

Long shadows on a short winter day.

Long shadows on a short winter day.

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My Annual Oscar Post – 2014 Edition

All right, y’all know the deal by now – I have only a passing interest in movies anymore, and the Oscars are nearly unwatchable. Blah, blah, blah, cranky old lady, get off my lawn! So I decided rather than ranting, I’d tell you about my favorite Oscar tradition. The one I always carry out whether I get to watch the Oscars, or whether my three-year-old is screaming at the top of her lungs to please, please, please let her watch anything else at all. Honestly, I had to agree with her. We settled on YouTube videos of Simon’s Cat.

So instead of an Oscar recap, I bring you pizza! I’ve been making my own pizza on Oscar night since I was a teenager, and as time has gone on, the pizza recipe has only improved. Our latest, most favorite incarnation is a recipe from Cook’s Country. Nothing out there compares. It takes advance planning, because the dough is required to rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but it’s worth it. It also makes a complete and total mess of the kitchen, but again, it’s worth it.

We divide the dough into three balls so we each get our own pizza.

We divide the dough into three balls so we each get our own pizza.

The beginnings of sauce

The beginnings of sauce

The endings of sauce. No stove top required.

The endings of sauce. No stove top required.

Dough rolled out and placed on pizza paddle.

Dough rolled out and placed on pizza paddle.

Pizza decorated and ready to go into the oven.

Pizza decorated and ready to go into the oven.

Pizza going into the oven.

Pizza going into the oven.

Pizza on the pizza stone.

Pizza on the pizza stone.

The piece de resistance.

The piece de resistance.

I hope you enjoyed your Oscar night as much as I enjoyed my pizza.

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My Writer

My favorite author Nick Hornby was recently in town promoting his new book, Funny Girl. You probably already know that I’m a massive Hornby fan, but if you need a primer on why, I turn you to my post from the last time he was in town promoting Juliet, Naked.

I hadn’t finished Juliet, Naked when I wrote that last piece six years ago. It is a beautiful novel. It is at the top of my Hornby list, and that is a very high position to occupy. I’d have to read them back to back, but Juliet might even beat out High Fidelity as my favorite Hornby work. Or, it might not be discernible. High Fidelity is about obsession and music in youth (20s). I was young when I read it. Juliet is about obsession and music as an adult (30s-40s), and I was an adult when I read it. High Fidelity introduced me Hornby. Juliet made me cry.

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My 2015 New Year’s Reflections

New Year’s resolutions seem to be just another thing that I don’t have the time or energy for any more. I know, generally, what I want to be like and what I want to get done, and I’ll get to it when I can.

So I wan’t interested in doing a resolution post this year, but I am sort-of interested in taking stock, in a totally non-crunchy way. This was one of those ‘learning’ years. Years in which a bunch of stuff blindsides you and you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take stock of what was broken and what wasn’t, and move on.

I made one big decision and had one big realization this year. The decision was to start teaching as a career, and to be clear, that came first. I’ve thought about teaching lots of times, and it was why I entered into a Master’s program in the first place, though I lost track of that goal very early on. When I took a short gig scoring standardized tests, there were a lot of things about that weird job that felt very right. The first thing you have to do before scoring the tests (I was scoring a 10th grade writing assessment) is learn the material on which the students were being tested. This couldn’t have made me feel more at home, for it was a lot like school. Then you had to learn how to internalize a rubric to score all the tests by the same criteria. This was more challenging than I thought it would be, and though I don’t think any rubric, especially one for a standardized test, is flawless, it was a worthy challenge. Finally, I had the chance to read really good papers, middle-of-the-road-papers, and bad papers, and in each case, I was sorry I couldn’t offer feedback to the kids. So this very short, very bizarre experience sent me walking back down the career education path.

The realization came much later. You could call it an epiphany, if you really wanted. After Shaun was laid off, we both sent out a flurry of resumes. I figured I’d be the first one to land a job, because I have a resume that lends itself to different fields and I talk a good talk in an interview. Plus, I didn’t need a career-type job the way he did, I just needed to earn some cash. I knew the job I found wasn’t a forever job and I knew that it was a somewhat boring job. I didn’t know I was walking into a complete and total disaster. I’ve had a few disaster jobs throughout my career, ones I hated and that didn’t last long. In each case, the job was very different than advertised, and the company was batshit insane. These dread-inducing jobs – I thought I’d seen the last of those. I thought they were a vestige of my younger, more vulnerable days. How on Earth did I get here, I wondered. Did I miss the warning signs out of fear of the flophouse, or was the employer that dishonest? A little fear, a lot of dishonesty. However, that’s when it occurred to me that there does not exist a job within the private sector that I would like. I’m not built for business. I’m an academic. I always have been and I always will be. And since I can’t afford to stay in school forever, that really leaves me one other option. Teaching.

And so I begin 2015 happily unemployed and returning to school, briefly, to obtain an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate. That plus my Master’s degree should land me a job in community college. When I was looking for a teaching job this summer, without any actual teaching experience, I had several people suggest getting certified in ESL, and I sort of half-listened. But the more the idea bounced around in my head, the more it started to make sense. Hey, you know what you’re really good at, self? English. Hey, you know what you really enjoyed in college (outside of music), self? Learning a foreign language and linguistics. So I like the idea as a foray into teaching, that can then be leveraged into teaching other subjects, if I so choose.

The reflection part comes in that I don’t know if I would’ve come to this conclusion so quickly, and acted so quickly, if I wasn’t so miserable. I thought, after the gig this summer, that I would leisurely look for a teaching job and find just the right thing. Obviously that idea flew out the window and all of the unhappiness led to some fast and furious introspection. Misery is a breeding ground for introspection, which is why artists are so frequently miserable. Not that I wouldn’t like to be a great artist, but I am just so tired of being miserable.

I am really excited about all that I have planned for 2015. I don’t know why I kept straying off the education path. And I can only hope that I’ve called my calling correctly. I take refuge in a comment from a friend, “I definitely see you in a teaching role. In fact, now that you mentioned it, I can’t see you any other way.”

Neither can I. And that gives me a great deal of hope.

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