Sunday, December 9, 2012

Close Encounters with Santa Clause and Frosty the Snowman

Yes, 'tis the season.  Time for the annual sojourn to see Santa.  Once again, while Ken minded the store (literally) Grandma Mary, Grandpa Roy and I took Cornelia to visit Jolly Old St. Nick at Westfield Mall.  Before jumping on the Muni at the Castro Street station, however, we stopped by the Wingard store for a quick "hair fix."  Try as I might (and I do try), I can't do pigtails like Ken can do pigtails.  And I wasn't going to have my inept hairstyling skills memorialized in Cornelia's 2012 picture with Santa.

At the mall the line to see Santa was short.  I prepped Cornelia for the moment by pointing out Santa and coaxing her to wave "hi" to him.  As we stepped up for Cornelia's turn on Santa's lap, she was  intrigued by the big man in the red suit.  I was confident she would again produce a wonderful picture, with a big smile for the camera, caught in time for years to come.  Alas, within mere seconds of coming to rest on Santa's big red knee, the tears came complete with screaming and arms outstretched to Daddy.  I suppose it was inevitable, and I guess it's adorable nonetheless.  After all, part of the Christmas tradition is a red-faced wailing child on Santa's lap. 

Here's the least tearful of the pictures.   

"Is this the guy who promised me a pony last year . . .
and didn't bring me one?!"
And one more Christmas story:  Last night Coco was home with Grandma Mary and Grandpa Roy while Daddy and Papa were out for a Saturday night with friends.  Cornelia was bathed, in her pajamas and content with her bedtime cup of milk.  It was 8:00 p.m. and Frosty the Snowman was on TV.  Cornelia was on the couch, sipping on her milk and focused on the show with laser-like attention.  And then it happened . . . halfway through the show . . .  Frosty melted.  Black hat in a puddle of water.  Little Karen, Frosty's little friend, started crying . . . so did Coco.  She burst into tears.  Who knew that at nineteen months she was following the plot?  She did manage to calm down and watch the rest of the show.  And then at the end, when Frosty waved good-bye to Karen and said he would be back again someday, Coco burst into tears again.  

Karen and Frosty the (melted) Snowman

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

We spent Thanksgiving week in the country again this year.  After the past several hectic months of work and travel we decided a week together as a family was much needed.   And sleep.   Sleep was much needed too.  And we've slept a lot.  Cornelia went to bed at 7:30 and most nights we followed not long after that.  We did manage to be a bit social.  We had friends over for dinner on Wednesday night.  Since our oven doesn't work we tried to bake a pumpkin pie in the barbecue.  It didn't work so well but we think we'll get it right next time.  We spent Thanksgiving with Steph and Dennis - the second year with them.  It was a wonderful afternoon with martinis for Mike and Ken, oysters for those who like them (including Cornelia!), three dogs for Coco, and an absolutely wonderful meal for everyone.  The pumpkin pie was not cooked on the barbecue.

"Cheese and crackers!"  (Watch the dog!)

Coco and Papa enjoying the sunshine.

Waiting for the oysters to come off the grill.

"Yum!  Oysters!  Hold it, they're what!!"

Meeting Kukula, one of three dogs for Coco.

The weather has been great all week.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

More than words can say . . . .

Coco's first time in the "big girl swing" by herself at Duboce Park.  Only 18 months old. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn is in the air!

It's hard to believe it's fall, Halloween is next week and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  And do not talk to me about Christmas!  Wasn't I just blogging about the heat of summer, wading pools and garden hoses?!  Sheesh, time flies!

Coco is now 18 months old.  She is such a little person.  She marches around in her little outfits, she has an opinion about whether she wants to be upstairs or downstairs, she climbs the stairs all by herself now (okay, we're always right behind her with hands outstretched to steady her if she wobbles), she likes to put on her shoes by herself, and she holds her dolls, bunnies, bears and doggies tight, giving them hugs and kisses and asking Daddies to give them hugs and kisses too.  She waves "hi" and she blows kisses "bye-bye."  She has added stickers to her list of favorite things (bubbles are still at the top of that list).  She likes to put stickers on lots of things.  Last weekend we played "stick the stickers on daddy's nose."  I now understand why homes with toddlers of a certain age have stickers on everything.  I mean - everything.  Our time is coming although I suspect Papa will set some boundaries when it comes to stickers.

Clearly Cornelia will be a talker.  She likes to talk, although she doesn't have many words yet.  She is pretty good with "daddy," "agua" (we get that one a lot these days) "bubbles" and "baby."  There are others too - "hat", "balloon" . . .  Oh, and "apple" is a big one right now too.  Of course she might be saying a lot in Spanish and we just don't know it.  Some things are still sounds and signs.  Dogs are "arf! arf!"  Elephants are an arm up at the side of you head.  More and more she talks with her dolls, bunnies, bears and doggies in her crib before she goes to bed and after she wakes up in the morning.  I have to say it's very cute to hear her upstairs talking all by herself.  

Our nutty travel schedule for the past three months is lessening a bit.  This week should be the last week we both have to travel for some time.  We've had very little time together as a family.  We did manage to visit the Los Angeles zoo when Cornelia and I flew to Los Angeles for Ken's last day of shooting on HomeMade Simple.  Last weekend we visited a pumpkin patch in Anderson Valley.

I have to admit it's really hard to be away from Cornelia when I travel for work.  (Yes, honey, it's hard to be away from you too . . . .)  Of course, every parent who travels for work experiences it: the guilt about being away from home, worrying your child is wondering where you are and missing you, and regretting the moments you've missed while away.  And it only gets harder as she gets older and more clearly understands that you're leaving and that you're gone.  Before my last trip I'm sure she knew I was packing to leave so she would not let me out of her sight.  For me, before Cornelia, I understood my friends and colleagues missed their kids while traveling for work but it's different to experience it yourself.  Well, duh!  It does mean that I appreciate the kisses more, story time more, and the hugs every night more.

Tonight when I put her to bed she hugged each one of her friends in her crib (Big Bunny, Liza Sue, Baby, Howard, Ellie and Bunny) and then handed them to me to hug and kiss good-night too.  Then I picked her up again and gave her another hug and kiss too.  That was awesome.   

Harvesting the first apples of the season.

This year's harvest

"Apple!"  (We hear a lot of that these days!)

Looking for the perfect pumpkin.

"Which one, Daddy?  There's so many!"

"Too big?"

"If I can carry it, I'm taking it!"

"I'll see you on Halloween, mister!"


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Bubbles, Bangles and Bears, oh my!"

Last week was a big week for The Bean: her first trip to Washington state to meet the Walsh clan and to spend a week at Grandma Mary and Grandpa Roy's house.  It was big trip and did not disappoint.

On Friday night Cornelia and I flew to Seattle where Mom, Dad and Scott met us at the airport and we made the late night trek to Moxee, which in the last few years has become the hub of all Walsh clan activities.  (Much to Stephanie LaCoursiere's dismay, but that is an entirely different blog post . . ..)  We arrived at 1:00 a.m.  Scott, Cornelia and I crept into Marty and Jane's guest rooms while Mom and Dad went on down the block to their lodgings at the LaCoursiere's.

On Saturday the festivities commenced.  The Bean was up early and ready for the day.  As usual, the family gathered at Marty and Jane's house.  The guest list included Marty and Jane, Pat and Jay, Stephanie L and her beau, Kathy (who motored over the pass from Seattle), Ned and Stephanie W, Erin, Chris and Donovan, and Matthew and Dylan, and the Gothams.  Oh, and of course, Lincoln!  We can't forget Lincoln!  The crowd was large enough even to warrant a kid's table at dinner.  (Although, I have to say, it's sad when one is 45 years old and still sitting at the kid's table . . . . uh, Scott?)  The day included lots of beverages, good food, loud football and constant chatter (but I'm not mentioning any names).

But for The Bean those weren't the day's highlights.  For her, it was about the bubbles and cousin Donovan.  Cornelia spent most of the morning in the backyard with Grandma engaged in her absolutely favorite pasttime: blowing bubbles, more bubbles and even more bubbles.  (The girl has some serious lungs on her which will serve her well when we start training for cross country running and cycling.)

And then Donovan arrived.  Donovan.  Three years old.  "He Who Opens Doors."  Literally.  Yes, all the doors in the house were closed to poor Cornelia.  Bedroom doors, office doors, guest room doors, bathroom doors, garage doors and even back doors.  Her world was limited to the family room and kitchen and, if someone indulged her, the backyard.  But, with Donovan's arrival, no door remained closed to Cornelia.  Donovan's little hands could firmly grasp door handles and then turn and pull them with ease.  "Viola!"  Soon, shrieks of delight were heard from the master bedroom, then from the master bedroom closets and then, finally, from the master bedroom walk-in shower which boasted the accoustics of a symphany hall for two delighted toddlers intent on making as much noise as possible.  And then they discovered the door to . . . Outside . . ..  (Fortunately, Grandma was watching from around corners to make sure all remained (relatively) intact in the wake of these two little cyclones.)

On Sunday Mom and Dad dropped Scott and me off at the airport for our flights to Denver and Anchorage.  I was concerned that Cornelia might be upset when I got out of the car and left her behind.  Much to my relief (and, yes, a bit of disappointment) she was nonplussed.  "Be gone, Daddy, and fare thee well.  I am off to the land of Grandma and Grandpa's house for the adventure that awaits me."

And, yes, it was an adventure.  Although I didn't realize it until later, the entire week in Washington was  about teaching Cornelia all about being a Gotham.  I should have suspected the direction for the week's activities when Scott surprised Cornelia with a WSU Cougar cheerleading outfit.  It seemed cute and innocent enough, but when considered from the perspective of the week in its entirety the underlying intent becomes clear . . ..

At Grandma and Grandpa's there was so much to do.  First, toenails had to be painted.  Grandma has painted toenails and so shall The Bean.  Then of course there was the new outfit and shopping bag from Nordstrom.  And then there was the jewelry.  Ah, Grandma's jewelry.  So many shapes, so many colors, so sparkly -- and, thankfully, so unbreakable.  Of course Grandpa was not to be outdone by Grandma.  He had a special activity planned as well.  Cornelia enjoyed her first camping trip right there in the family rec room.  Grandpa was rewarded for this activity as Cornelia - who had been a bit cautious about Grandpa - climbed right up into his lap on his birthday on Wednesday night.  Amidst all these activities there were of course, every day -- bubbles.

It was not all fun and games of course.  Cornelia had her chores too.  Every day she went with Grandpa to the mailbox to check the mail. Sometimes it took many trips before the mail finally appeared.  And then sometimes carrying the mail back to Grandma in the house took several trips.  Cornelia could only carry two pieces of mail at a time.  And it was a good week for mail, apparently.  Grandma very excited by all the mail Cornelia brought to her.  Apparently even the junkmail was unusually interesting last week.

By the time I arrived in Port Angeles late on Friday night the entire house had become Cornelia's playroom.  Toys, dolls, tupperware and random pieces of jewelry were strewn about nearly every room.  (I was not allowed to take pictures.)  It certainly is true that grandchildren always have it good, because as a kid I was never allowed to leave my stuff cast about the house.

Cornelia and I flew home on Sunday and this Saturday we fly back to Seattle so she can spend another week with Grandpa Roy and Grandma Mary while Ken and I are away for work.

Scott: "You're not very good at this 'hair thing,' are you?"

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

"He Who Opens Doors"

"Wonder Twin powers activate!!"

Future Cougar

"Cougs are No. 1, baby!"

"Grandma, you've done this before, right?"

"Grandma, how do I know when I'm wearing too much?"

"So tell me more about these 'real bears' of which you speak."

Getting the mail

"Happy Birthday, Grandpa!"

"Daddy, focus on making the bubbles please."


Monday, September 10, 2012

And One Picture To Rule Them All

Jeff Spicer & Eric Mann Wedding, Cotuit, Cape Code, August 19, 2012

A Summer Day in the Country (Pictures!)

Okay, for those of you who read my previous lengthy post without pictures (I know, stories without pictures are hard!), these pictures are your reward.

Every day in the country starts with blackberry pancakes!

And a Big Girl Cup 'o Milk.

"Let's go to the barn!  It's where we keep stuff!"

"I hate burrs in my shoes!  I hate burrs in my shoes!"

"Time to work in the garden!"

Bedtime with Ellie.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adventures with Cornelia

Sorry I don't have any pictures to include with this post.  I will update it with pictures as soon as I can.  I guess this will tell me whether you read the blog for my narratives or simply for cute photos of The Bean.  (And, yes, I know the answer.)

Ken has been filming HomeMade Simple in Los Angeles ("on location" as they say) again for the past five weeks (or some number of weeks; I've lost track).  He's gone for five days every week and this weekend he won't make it home at all.  While he's been away Cornelia and I have been having a few adventures together.  She won't remember them, but I will.

The first week Ken was away I left my laptop at the office one night and didn't realize it until Cornelia was in bed and asleep and I sat down to work.  Now, one might think that leaving one's laptop at the office for one night is not a big deal.  One simply would not work until the next morning when one arrived at the office.  One with that reaction would not be me.  While Ken is away my hours in the office are limited so working at home either early in the morning before Cornelia is awake or at night after she is asleep is required.  So, after a mini-meltdown, including the requisite "my head just exploded" call to Ken, I got Cornelia up and out of bed and into the car (wearing for the first time her cute pink NorthFace jacket from uncle Scott and aunt Tami).  We arrived downtown, walked a few blocks to the office singing "Wheels on the Bus" since the busses were still out, flirted with the building security gaurd (Cornelia, not me), grabbed my laptop and headed home.  Unfortunately, putting Cornelia back in the car I bonked her head on the car door which of course caused her to scream and cry.  And, as luck would have it, we were parked next to a large parking garage which amplified her screams quite well.  I was certain someone was going to haul me away for abusing a child.  I hustled her into the car and fled.

I had also run out of diapers so we had to make another stop on the way home.  Yes, I was that dad carrying his toddler in her pajamas and a jacket through Safeway at 11:00 p.m. buying just diapers.  At least I was not also buying Vodka.  I assume all dads do that at least once or twice, right?

Speaking of diapers, you would think I would figure out one of the basic rules of parenting.  Rules like, "When the baby sleeps, you sleep" or "When the baby sleeps, you get everything done that you can't get done when the baby isn't sleeping."  Well there is also, "When you buy diapers, buy a lot of them."  Duh.  I mean, it's not like you can buy too many, right?  She is not going to stop pooping anytime soon.  But no, I bought one package of diapers.  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.

So, the Universe decided to provide me with "learning moment."  First, the Universe arranged for our car to breakdown the following Saturday night just before midnight when we were on our way home to relieve Mari after a night out with friends.  So, while Ken called a tow truck, I ran the rest of the way home.  (Well, at least I was finally getting some exercise, right?)  Then the next week the Universe arranged for me to run out of diapers -- again.  So, when Mari arrived that morning I had to run -- literally -- to the store to buy diapers, run home, change for work, and then hustle downtown.  So, now we know, "When you buy diapers, buy a lot of them."  Thank you, Universe, for that.

And then there was the day Mari called me at the office because Cornelia had a fever.  Well, actually John (Ken's business manager) called me at the office, because Francisco (Mari's husband) called John, because Mari called Francisco because Cornelia had a fever.  I called Mari and conferenced in a colleague at the office who is a native Spanish speaker so that I would understand what was happening at home.  While I couldn't understand Mari's Spanish (my coworker and Mari were chattering on in Spanish about Cornelia and her fever) I could definitely understand Cornelia's wailing and shrieking in the background.  I was on my way home with a new thermometer and "baby Tylenol" within minutes.  Of  course, when I got home, Cornelia was asleep in Mari's arms, exhausted from her meltdown only thirty minutes earlier.

That evening Cornelia and I drove to the country.  (I don't remember now why Ken wasn't home from Los Angeles that night.)  Mindful of warnings about babies with fevers and overheating - combined with my uber-paranoia about anything happening to Cornelia (I am that dad who listens at her door at night to be sure she is still breathing) - I slept on the couch on the landing next to Cornelia's crib.  When she woke up in the middle of the night I hauled her out of bed and onto the couch with me.  Then when I thought she felt too warm I moved to the kitchen to be near an open window.  Another sleepless night.

The next weekend we were headed to Cape Cod for Jeff and Eric's wedding.  Heeding the warnings from friends about the potentially bad combination of a toddler with an ear infection on a plane with variable air pressure, I took Cornelia to her pediatrician for a check-up.  She was fine.  However, the doctor then decided to share with me the tale of her recent horrible flight with her two over-tired small children.  "Gee, thanks for sharing, doc."

So I braced myself for my first solo flight with Cornelia.  You see, we were flying to Cape Cod for Jeff and Eric's wedding; Ken was flying to and from Los Angeles because of his filming schedule while Cornelia and I would be flying from San Francisco to Boston . . . via Seattle . . . on a red-eye . . . in coach . . . with Cornelia in my lap.  Most parents would likely wonder why I was worried about this trip.  Kids fly all the time, and they fly fine.  I, however, paled at the thought of it.  What if Cornelia had a melt down on the plane, threw a fit or was inconsolable?  What would I do, trapped on that plane with a screaming child, people staring and muttering about me and my child?  How would I manage in coach with my knees pressed against the seat in front of me, with a toddler on my lap, for two flights and twelve hours of travel?  That does not sound pleasant, does it?

Ken walked me through his travel tips (he had already flown with Cornelia solo several times), including a variety of entertainment options and bountiful, easy-to-eat snack options.  (It's all about the blueberries.  Lots of them.)  By the time I left for the airport, I was actually looking forward to my journey with Cornelia.

Of course she was a total pro for the entire trip.  She was quite engaged with the older gentleman next to us on the way to Seattle, and she slept through the entire red-eye flight to Boston.  I even got up twice and she didn't wake up.  (I didn't sleep a wink.)  The trip home was fine as well.  Although the three of us slept for little more than an hour the night before we left Boston (Cornelia does not sleep well in hotel rooms we have learned, and we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. for Ken's flight at 5:00 a.m.), she was perfectly well-behaved the entire way home.

A side note:  It's not uncommon for people to make conversation with others about their children when travelling, particularly when a dad traveling solo with his toddler daughter. The flight attendant on the way to Seattle asked me, being entirely friendly and chatty, "Where's the mother?"  "Oh, there isn't a mother," I said.  "There's another dad."  She of course immediately realized her gaffe and was terribly embarrassed; in fact I think she realized it based on my likely surprised expression before I even responded.  I told her it was quite alright.  I mean, it was an innocent question and in 99% of instances it would have been a reasonable question.  On the way home, the woman next to me was chatting and complementing Cornelia.  She noted Cornelia's big brown eyes and commented, quite innocently, "So, does she get her brown eyes from her mother?"  Not wanting to engage in a complicated conversation, I just dodged the question.  Ken would have handled it differently, I should mention.

Since our return from Cape Cod we have settled back into our usual schedule.  Stay tuned for our next adventure when we travel twice to Washington.  I'm going to visit several of offices for work and Cornelia is going to spend time with her Grandma Mary and Grandpa Roy in Port Angeles.  She will also be meeting her aunts, uncles and cousins in Seattle and Yakima and may even make a cameo appearance in the Seattle office.  With all these flights I think Cornelia should qualify for Toddler Gold status on Alaska Airlines, don't you?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Toddler Cocktail

It's August in the country.  Saturday night.  Ken and I are exhausted from work these days.  So we're staying home tonight.  Ken has wine.  I have a vodka tonic.  What do we do for Coco?  She has to have a special drink too, right?  Ah, of course - ice, soda water, and a splash of orange slice.  The perfect toddler cocktail.  "Summer time, and the livin' is easy . . .  Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high . . . ."

Monday, July 16, 2012

"It's hot in Savannah!"

The Gotham Wingards travelled to Savannah this weekend to visit Granddad Roy and Grandma Connie and the Kennesaw Wingards - Kevin, Angela, Kourtnee and Kamryn.  I should mention that it was hot in Savannah.  Like, really hot.  Hot like walking-into-an-oven hot.  Too hot for someone like me, hard-wired for the gray, misty cool climate of Seattle where 85 degrees in July is considered a scorcher! 

For Coco, the weekend wasn't about the heat - it was about the water.  On Sunday we visited the beach on Tybee Island where Ken and Kevin spent their summers when they were teens and where, more recently, Kourtnee and Kamryn have spent their days during their summer stays with Granddad Roy and Grandma Connie.  Coco was thrilled with the beach.  Beyond thrilled.  She made a bee-line for the water, with Daddy and Papa trailing behind her.  She stood in the surf, fearless, shrieking in delight as the waves rolled over her feet and splashed all around her.  (I fear that the bathtub at home, which seemed so big until now, will never offer her quite the same excitement as it once did.)

On Monday morning, Papa took her to her first official swimming lesson, courtesy of Granddad's membership at the Y.  I think Coco actually got her own membership card.  Coco was a little less thrilled with the deep pool than she was with the beach, and she was not so keen on the blowing bubbles lessons.  But in the end she had a nice time.  Afterward she played in the "Magical Land of Peek-a-Boo Waters" - a land she never could have imagined existed.

After this weekend, I see many vacations centered around water activities in our future.

We had a really wonderful time with the Wingard clan in Savannah.  I even ate crab legs for the first time.  Who would think that a boy from Seattle would have to travel to the South to crack crab legs for the first time. 

Coco and Papa in the surf

The Wingard Girls

The beach is exhausting.


My first swim class wth Papa

"Are you kidding me with this?!  Who thought of this?!"

"Where did the water go?"

Country Boil