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 . . . ."