Sunday, May 6, 2018

Momentum and inertia

Summer is rapidly approaching. The kids have reached the point in the school year where everything is pointing toward end-of-year performances/tests/celebrations/field trips. The weather is leaning hard toward shorts. The trees are leafing out. Cook is mowing the lawn right now.

I find myself even more than usually lazy. I literally lay in the hammock yesterday and did nothing but lie there and grow my ennui. It was pretty nice, but I do recognize that weeds need pulling and dishes need washing and dinner needs cooking, and it's probably not a great marital-maintenance plan to just let Cook do all of it. Last weekend I forced Skipper to accompany me to the library and grocery store, and she objected strenuously. I said she needed to leave the house and do something other than loaf, and she said "WHY!? What's the POINT? Why can't I just read books and do word searches?" and I didn't really have a great argument for that. So maybe she's just persuaded me to give in to the sloth.

It just seems like there's so much schlepping; a classic middle-class middle-aged person's complaint - orthodontist appointments, dentist appointments, eye doctor appointments, regular doctor appointments, vet appointments, roller skating lessons, grocery shopping, hardware store trips, bike repair appointments, car repair appointments. Plus, you know, work and housework and the normal slog of shepherding everybody through the day. It feels like A Lot, even while it also feels like a great stroke of luck to be able to have this particular bag of A Lot.

We're all doing the same old things. Skipper is walking herself home from school every day and latchkeying it. She likes that a lot. She instant-messages us when she gets home to tell us she's home, and then she just reads for hours. The third day she did it, I was at a meeting when she normally arrives home, and didn't look at my phone till a little later when I was alarmed to find no message. I got a text pretty much right away from Father Blond, saying that Skipper was at his house and that she was "Wet. Unhappy." Turned out Skipper had run home in the rain (she had no raincoat, due to poor planning) and couldn't find her key in her backpack, so she left her backpack on the back steps and walked to the Blonds' house. She knows she's not allowed to cross the major street between our house and theirs except at a controlled intersection, but she got disoriented and walked much further out of her way than she needed to to get to a light. She walked 16 blocks in the rain, terrified that she was going to get arrested (she actually saw a school friend of hers and hid behind a corner until the friend's family was out of sight because she was afraid that they would call the police if they knew she was unescorted), and arrived at the Blond house weeping and soaking wet. She was upset, scared, embarrassed and uncomfortable. After I retrieved her, I pointed out that she had in fact just demonstrated her coping skills by solving the problem in a fairly sensible way, and she made a bunch of good decisions. I felt a lot more confident about the whole thing after that episode. I'm not sure that she shares my confidence; as always, she was pretty focused on the stressful and humiliating elements of the experience. I did reassure her that the police are NOT going to arrest her for walking alone in the rain.

That's pretty much the news.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Skipper turned 9!

I asked Skipper (by instant message) for a list of birthday gift suggestions. She wrote me back this:

Craft stuff
Definitely stocks

She got balloons. And oranges. And books. And craft stuff. Not stocks yet - I'm trying to figure out how a 9-year-old can invest in stocks.

We ate ramen for dinner.

Skipper had another sleepover birthday party. We all agreed the next day that it was the last sleepover birthday party. Cook concocted another scavenger hunt that required digging.

Catching Up

We're good. I'm just feeling kind of overwhelmed by things and spending my spare time idly playing computer games and watching Schitt's Creek. But look, here are photos!

Sunny walk in January.

Sunny day in March.

Easter eggs.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Last week, Duchess went to do her daily chore of sweeping up all the poop in the guinea pig cage (this needs to be done twice a day, because guinea pigs are prodigious poopers) and was very alarmed to find it smeared copiously with blood. Turned out Snufkin had injured his back - the fur on his back was matted with blood. Cook spent most of Tuesday driving Snufkin to the vet (all the way across town), watching the vet pull away the matted fur and then be sprayed with arterial blood, leaving Snufkin and $300 there for surgery, driving home again, and then driving back later to retrieve Snufkin after surgery. The vet declared Snufkin's problem to be "weird - really weird" ; the bleeding was because he had somehow ruptured a growth that he had had on his back (which we were ignoring because it was small, not changing, and didn't seem to hurt or bother him in any way) which was somehow involved with blood vessels, AND was somehow associated with an old injury (childhood trauma probably incurred in the garage where he spent his youth with a LOT of other pigs) that had left a huge scar down his whole spine. Snufkin seems fine, indifferent to his comical shaved patch and stitches, though he really hates the probiotic and antibiotic he has to ingest twice a day. His whole "fuck you, don't touch me, just give me food" attitude somehow seems more nuanced now that we know his previous life literally left him scarred. Like he's a tough, damaged loner who's secretly tender-hearted and vulnerable under all the tattoos and intimidating glares. (Also, because the money we spent on repairing a rodent who literally spends all his time eating, pooping, and running away from us in terror is now spent, and I have to emotionally justify it by making a connection with the rodent.)

Also, this week we have sounded the alarm on Duchess's health. She's generally fine, but she's missed quite a bit of school and activities lately because she intermittently feels tired and dizzy and vaguely sick. I have been annoyed by this; she's a responsible person (except at home) and doesn't really like missing school, but she's also kind of whiny and inclined to laziness (she gets this from me!), and it I have been feeling like she should Just Toughen Up And Stop Malingering.  However, it's starting to feel like an actual thing, so we finally called the Kaiser advice line, which suggested that it could be anemia, a potential diagnosis strongly supported by our subsequent googling. She is not enthusiastic about eating liver, so we'll have to find another way to iron her up. She'll need her strength for all the rowing.

On Friday, I had to go (along with all my coworkers) to a 5-hour training on how to interrupt microaggressions, which put me even further behind on all my work tasks that keep piling up. So I would say it's been a First World Problems kind of week.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Parenting; or Fumbling Around in the Dark Trying Not to Break Things

Hello, my wee piece of the internet. We're all fine. It's sunny and warm here today. We took the guinea pigs outside, and they cowered in terror, too afraid to do more than nibble tentatively at some of the delicious fresh grass (which they will savagely devour if we tear it off and bring it inside and feed it to them in their cage). I'm afraid the guinea pigs are too perfect a metaphor for our family. We should have gotten a less fear-based sort of pet.

Things go on. Skipper is currently doing occasional rollerskating lessons, because she "likes the gliding part." She is finding third grade very stressful. She has a teacher who is fairly harsh and sarcastic, and Skipper lives in terror (see above) of the teacher yelling at her. It doesn't actually ever happen, but she's afraid ALL THE TIME (see above).

Duchess and I got in an unpleasant argument on Friday night. I told her she was signed up for a beginner rowing class in the morning and she freaked out. (Back story: this is a sport I have long thought would be perfect for Duchess. It's intensely team-oriented, it has a lot of rules, you don't have to be super-humanly athletic to succeed, and it takes place on the water. She has expressed interest in the past, but when I mentioned it recently, she was tepid on the idea. I decided to just barge ahead and sign her up and not mention it till the last minute, because she's usually pretty pliant.) She was really mad, and made some excellent points about autonomy and her right to make her own choices. Her excellent points, however, were embedded in a petulant and bratty tantrum, and I responded like a jerk.

We got over it, because Duchess is a forgiving person and I apologized for railroading her autonomy. She's right that she should be able to make her own choices. To a point. And I need to cede that, to a point. But I said that she should go row unless she had a really good reason not to - she was interested in it, and a sunny spring morning is a good way to try rowing out.

She sulked all morning, sulked and whined all the way to the class, and told me that she hates me (semi-joking) when I left her at the class. When I picked her up, I was resigned to a wave of righteous petulance, and resigned to the fact that I would deserve it. As we walked away from the "boathouse"(actually warehouse) where they keep the gear, she turned to me and said with a faux-angry expression "I HATE that you were right," and then she beamed her full-on, all-in Duchess grin. She loved it, for all the reasons I had listed off to her. I thanked her for being generous enough to allow herself to enjoy it, in spite of her determination to punish me. I would like to think that I have learned a lesson and will be more respectful of her autonomy in the future, but I'm not sure that I have.

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."