Sunday, January 14, 2018

Side note

Guinea pigs drink from the standard small pet bottle. It has a spout with a ball valve - they can push the ball in with their tongue to get water out. The rats I had as a pet (MUCH better pets than guinea pigs, should you be in the market for a pet) would just lick at the valve and get water very efficiently. The guinea pigs put their WHOLE MOUTH over the spout and bumble around for water. Every time I see them doing this, especially Snufkin, who is large and generally inept, I think of Parks and Recreation.

Kids these days

I've been reading a book about how screwed millennials are, and what I'm gleaning from it* seems like it will dismally apply to Duchess and Skipper.

Also, Duchess and her phone. Ugh. She's constantly holding it and staring at it. Last night I made her turn it off earlier than usual, and she was such delightful company - she played a stupid card game with Skipper, manically and amusingly did a dance and voice interpretation of my uterus, and worked on a crossword with Cook.** I've missed her.

*Kids are having to work increasingly hard on training themselves and making themselves more valuable resources in order to compete with each other for increasingly unstable and poorly paid jobs. This is bad.
**I have fond memories of doing crossword puzzles with my friend in middle school, in the Eugene Maleska era. That's how I learned the word "ort."

Thursday, December 28, 2017


We had a lovely Christmas. It even snowed!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Limping into the end of 2017

(Hello! Everything is fine. I'm fine, Cook's fine. The girls are fine.)

This fall I tried something different. I've been watching Duchess enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, reminding me of what a fun game it is, and I've also been reflecting on the fact that the kids have lots of activities (well, not Skipper anymore) and I have none. So I signed up for exercise classes (I found a company that allows you to visit lots of different exercisey places, meeting my need for variety) and have been doing all sorts of novel barre and yoga and pilates and strength training things that are fun and hard. That's been great, though expensive.

I also signed up to play "goalty," a spin-off of ultimate. It turns out that it's a more compact, much quicker game than ultimate, and there are only 4 players per team on the field at a time (2 men and 2 women in this league). This means that even if you don't really understand the game, aren't very good at throwing and catching, and aren't particularly fit,* you can't dawdle confusedly in the background while other people make things happen - you have to actually participate. This would be okay if not for the fact that everybody in the league is much better than me AND have all been playing together for years (I was afraid they would all be young and obnoxious, but they're mostly my age-ish) AND are pretty intense and competitive. They were all nice to me, but I was very clearly deadweight. And that felt terrible. The first time I took the field, I literally fell down three times in a row (I think that was about playing on turf - I never fell down again after that) and I could almost feel all my teammates' horror radiating at me from the sidelines.

This experience made me think about Skipper a lot. I didn't want to go back after the first day. I knew I should, but I was dreading it. I went, but only to three out of the five sessions (three games to a session; ugh) and hated most of it. But I did it. I even caught a few scores and made some good catches and throws. I also dropped a lot of catches, threw away a lot of throws, and failed terribly and repeatedly at defense. I even knocked over the goal once. But I did it, which is something. I think the next new thing I try will be easier, though.

This experience also made me think about my dad, who played in a baseball league when he was in his forties - he complained a lot about how his "eyeballs jiggled" when he was running for the ball in the outfield. I thought that was hilarious, and I gave him a lot of shit. Jiggling eyeballs! Ridiculous! But when I was running around, trying to track changes in play direction and locate a flying frisbee, I really felt like my eyeballs were ... jiggling. A lot. Definitely more than they used to. Dad, sorry about that.

*Barre and yoga and pilates and strength training don't do much for one's cardiovascular fitness. And I wasn't ever very quick or dynamic even when I was in better shape. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Duchess turned thirteen. THIRTEEN!

Skipper lost another tooth.

The guinea pigs remain very strange. But they feel more comfortable with us. A little bit.

We went to Astoria! It's been nine years since we last visited, but we revisited some of our favorite sites.

The Maritime Museum, whre Skipper purchased herself a hat.:

A different hotel with a view of the bridge. Skipper, who has very little hotel experience, was thrilled with things like the elevator, the pool (a POOL!), the vending machine, and the room key card. "This is a life of luxury!" she said.

And Fort Stevens, where the camera ran out of batteries. It was very beautiful, I swear.

We also went to the Lewis and Clark Historical Site, and we ate dinner at a restaurant that had sea lions sleeping under the floor, visible through a viewing window. This was all very exciting.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Another photo

These photos were taken the day BEFORE Halloween, which is why she's smiling.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Question Maker

Last week I picked Skipper up from after-school care a little early, and watched the end of her kung fu class. As all the other kids gathered up their things and trooped out of the room to go to the main area, Skipper helped the teacher put away gear, in a companionable way that suggested she had done this many times before. Afterward, I asked her if she always helps the teacher, and she said she does. I asked why, and she said "I like it. It gives me a chance to ask her all the questions I have about forms, because of my One-Minute Question-Maker."

I had not heard of the One-Minute Question-Maker, and I was intrigued, so I interrogated her a little. Skipper explained that she thinks of at least one question a minute all day every day. Some of them she forgets before she can ask them, some are silly and she dismisses them. But mostly, she asks them. She asks and asks and asks. She stores them up and them they pour out.

Also, the guinea pigs are feeling more lovable. We finally figured out that they're a lot more fun to hold one at a time, because when they're together, Momo gets pissed off at Snufkin* and snaps at his face.

What else? Halloween happened. It was a bit of a debacle. Skipper decided she did want to have a costume, but didn't want to go trick-or-treating, because she gets pretty stressed asking strangers for things. We were fine with that - it's not a bad thing to have a realistic understanding of yourself and how you will experience things and what you will enjoy. (Skipper only rarely attends birthday parties these days, because she doesn't enjoy them. We try to follow up the declining of the invitation with a one-on-one playdate with the birthday kid instead, which Skipper does enjoy.) So she assembled a classic witch costume in which she would greet trick-or-treaters.

Duchess had said she's too big to trick-or-treat, and feels self-conscious about looming up on people's porches like an obnoxious teenager. We thought she would go out with friends, but somehow she ended up staying home. (She was also pretty sick.) Whatever the case, we ended up on Halloween night with both kids at home. Skipper decided she did want to trick-or-treat just on our block and then come home, and Duchess decided she would hastily put together a black cat costume and go along as Skipper's familiar. They went out together, which was delightful - I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly and cheerfully that came together. They came back five minutes later, both very resentful and aggrieved. Skipper had decided she had had enough just as Duchess was picking up steam and starting to get really enthusiastic and happy about getting to trick-or-treat after all, and Duchess was angry at having her enthusiasm ruined, and Skipper was angry at being made to feel guilty for her decision. I have seen the adorable photos of my friends and coworkers' children in their costumes, and the only photographic evidence I have of Halloween 2017 are these photos of my two petulant children.

After they seemed to have recuperated a little, I took them both out again for a small-scale trick-or-treating. We stayed within two blocks of the house and went to a bunch of houses that weren't getting much traffic, and were happy to give large handfuls to Skipper. Duchess stayed on the sidewalk with me, but she was still pleased to get to go out and see the decorated houses and the kids' costumes. Everybody was fine with the evening, in the end, after muddling through the emotional muck.

*To be fair, it's understandable why she's pissed off at him. She's neutered, but he isn't, and he spends most of the time when they're together attempting to convince her that it's Sexy Time (which male guinea pigs do by making a funny chuckling noise and rolling their hips amusingly as they walk), and she spends all that time either running away from him or explaining to him at great length that It Is Not (in a torrent of irritated chirping noises and, if necessary, a sort of guinea pig hip check).