Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 2014

Picking the tree.
Putting the star on top.
Coco's First Nutcracker Ballet
December 15, 2014

It was Daddy's first Nutcracker too.
"I want binoculars for Christmas." 
(Seriously, she does.)
Margot:  "Not having it."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snow. Uphill. Both ways.

Dear Readers:   About this time last year I wrote a post about the exhausting schedule of managing “three under three” – three children under the age of three including infant twins – while both Ken and I were working far more than full time and both of us were traveling for work.  At the time I wrote it I remember thinking, “I don’t want to forget just how exhausting all this was.  Someday I might think it couldn’t have been that hard.”  Well – note to future self – it was hard.  Really hard.  Worth it, of course.  But hard nonetheless.  A year later I find myself in a similar frame of mind.  Hence the following post.  It’s long and I won’t know whether or not you read it.  Feel free to skip the text and go straight to the pictures.  Certainly the pictures are the better part of the post.

It’s been more than three months since I last posted here.  Although I’ve wanted to post something and have felt guilty about not posting anything, I’ve not done it until now.  Well, the following better-late-than-never post might provide a bit of insight into our lives for the past three months and why a blog post just hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list.  (And, hey, future-Coco, future-Flynn and future-Margot, pay attention to this post because this is my version of “I remember when I had to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways.”  And do not roll your eyes future-Flynn!  ‘cause I can see you from here!)
Ken and I’ve been a bit busy. 

In September, October and November, between the two of us, we took 35 flights and were away from home 57 nights.
Ken finished his fourth season as a designer on Home Made Simple in early October.  After working for nearly ten weeks in Los Angeles with only a few opportunities to come home for the weekend, he finally came home on October 3rd. Then (bless his heart!) he started traveling back and forth to Los Angeles every week for three appearances each week on Home & Family.  He leaves the house on Tuesday mornings at 4:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight and then flies home on Thursday evenings.  Fortunately, most weeks he’s home in time for dinner on Thursdays, so he’s only gone two nights a week.

When he’s not in Los Angeles (or, actually, even when he is in Los Angeles) he’s prepping for upcoming segments on Home & Family, building his media presence (blogging, posting, tweeting, etc.), and managing the Wingard store.  The store runs pretty smoothly and Ken can manage it remotely, calling a few times a day, placing orders on the road, and spending time in the store on the weekends.  There have been some hiccups of course.  Several weeks ago a now-former employee decided to “follow his heart” and go to some festival in Oregon.  He thought leaving a Post-it note on the door was a sufficient “won’t be coming to work today” message.  Fortunately, because Ken calls the store multiple times a day he quickly figured out that this guy had, well, “followed his heart.”

Fortunately, Ken’s travel schedule and my travel schedule have not conflicted.  My travel has been mostly at the end of the week, through the weekend and/or at the beginning of the week.  And most of it has been on the West Coast.  But the scheduling is still difficult.  October was particularly challenging.  Three times I had to be on a flight leaving San Francisco on a Thursday, the day Ken comes home from Los Angeles in the evening.  On two of those Thursdays I dropped Cornelia off at school in the morning and then went straight to the airport.  Our good friend (actually, pretty much our best friend at this point) Eric picked her up from school in the afternoon and delivered her home. On the third Thursday, Ken and I played our parental version of “Tag, you’re it!  Ken arrived home in the evening as usual.  He came up the front steps and in the door; I met him at the door, gave him a kiss good-bye, took my suitcase and trotted down the steps and into a waiting cab headed for the airport. 
In November a few weeks ago I was in Seattle for a meeting and I realized that my day-long meeting would not finish in time for the last flight home to San Francisco.  Ken had left for Los Angeles that morning and I was supposed to be home that night, albeit late.  Fortunately our nanny Mari was happy to stay the night.  The following morning I got up at 3:15 a.m. to catch a 5:00 a.m. flight to San Francisco so I could be home by 8:00 a.m., take Cornelia to school, and then be at work by 9:00 a.m. 

One Tuesday night in October the kids went to sleep with Ken home and me gone and then woke up on Wednesday morning with me home and Ken gone.  Coco was entirely nonplussed when she found Daddy home and Papa gone that morning.  I think she thought we were being funny.

(Hey, future-Coco, future-Flynn and future-Margot, are you listening?  Like I said up above, “In the snow.  Uphill.  Both ways.”)
On the days Ken is gone – Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays – my days are divided into four parts.
The morning shift:  Starts at 7:00 a.m., unless Coco is up earlier.  Get ready for work, usually with Coco’s company.  (These days she likes to put shaving cream on her face while Daddy shaves.)  On school days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) get Coco dressed and fed and make her lunch.  At some point the twins wake up.  Deliver sippy cups of milk, change diapers.  Twins roam around upstairs while I pick up before Mari arrives at 8:00 a.m.  Leave the house at 8:15 a.m., taking Coco to school if it’s a school day.  Arrive at work by 9:00 a.m.

The day shift:  Work from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. if it’s a school day, or to 5:30 p.m. if it’s not a school day.

The evening shift:  On school days take the train to Noe Valley to pick Coco up at school.  Take the train home with Coco.  Home by 6:00 p.m. every day.  Mari has Margot and Flynn fed and in their pajamas.  From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., play, dinner for Coco, more play, story time for twins, bedtime for twins, pajamas for Coco, story time for Coco, bedtime for Coco.
The night shift:  Work from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and beyond.

(future-Coco!  future-Flynn! future- Margot!  Say it with me now:  “Snow!  Uphill!  Both ways!”) 
So, dear readers, you might wonder if I worry about our schedule and its impact on the kids.  I used to, but I don’t anymore. 

I don’t think our schedule is unique.  It can’t be unique.  How many families these days don’t have working parents juggling busy work and childcare schedules?  I don’t even think our travel schedules are exceptional.  Lots and lots of people travel for work and many people have to be away from home for much longer periods of time.  I think the description of our past three months would resonate with a lot of busy -- and exhausted -- parents.
I think we’re lucky that every day our kids wake up to a parent at home to start their day and have a parent at home for dinner and bedtime stories every night.  Mornings and evenings (at least while the kids are awake) are very rarely interrupted by work emails and phone calls.  Work on the weekend is generally very early in the morning or late at night.  When we are with the kids, we are with the kids.  And our routine times are special in their own way. 
Twice a week Coco and I commute home together.  We walk from her school to the train, wait a bit for it to come, ride it from Noe Valley to the Castro, and then walk home through Duboce Park.  I ask her how her day was at school (“Good,” she says.) and she asks me how my day was at work (“Fine,” I say.)  We share the left over Goldfish crackers from her lunch.  Sometimes we have adventures.  This week it rained so hard on our walk home that we had to take cover from the downpour.  We were literally huddled under an umbrella.  (Okay, I admit that I played up the adventure aspect a bit just to make it more interesting for her.) 

Every night for story time with Flynn and Margot I throw the bed pillows on the floor and all three of us pile on.  They hear the pillows hit the floor and they come running ready to plop themselves down.  Then they proceed to try to turn storybook pages before I’m done reading them or grab for the next book before I’m ready to read it.

Ken often takes Fridays off so that he can spend the day with the kids.  Invariably he takes them on an outing, typically to the park followed by lunch at a nearby cafĂ©.

So, in the end, really, we’re just like all the other busy parents out there.  We’re just making it work.

"Halloween caterpillars are No. 1!"

"I want to be a princess! 
Not a caterpillar!"

Halloween 2014


Monday, September 1, 2014

Coco's Cake II

Coco has become quite the baker these days.  On Saturday this weekend, she helped Papa make the birthday cake for Margot and Flynn's birthday party and some banana bread as well.  Then, the next day, she and Papa made sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles. 

But there is a bit of a story behind the cookies baked on Sunday . . .. 

On Saturday night, as I was putting Cornelia to bed after the twins' birthday party, she asked about the birthday cake.  She wanted a piece of cake.  The cake she helped Papa make that day.  Putting aside that it was bedtime and a piece of cake was out of the question, the cake was gone.  Not because it had been eaten at the birthday party, but because Cornelia's dads had given the remains of the cake away.

It seemed an entirely reasonable thing to do at the time.  At the end of the party half the cake was left; the cake was huge so half of a huge cake is a lot of cake.  (See the picture below.)  As the party was ending and the neighbors were leaving -- neighbors with multiple children of cake-eating age at home -- it seemed like a good idea to give the cake away rather than leave it in the house where Ken and I would have no willpower to resist consuming it in less than 48 hours.  In the Wingard family, leftover desserts are slowly and surely consumed through a process called "straightening the edges."  "Oh, I'll just straighten this edge of pie."  or "Oh, look at the crooked edge of that cake.  I better straighten that out."  It's brilliant in its subtle innocence.  Obviously, the cake had to be removed from the premises.

Alas, in our panic to get that half-of-a-huge-cake out of the house, we forgot that our own child who is of a cake-eating age and who had helped make that cake would sure want another piece of the cake.  So, there I sat next to Cornelia's bed, looking at her and thinking of what to say . . . .

"Um, well, the cake is gone," I heard myself say. 

Then it came.  What I knew would come as soon as I knew I had to speak those words.  First, the welling up of tears, then the outright crying and then finally the uncontrollable sobbing and wailing over the loss of the cake.  My thoughts raced.  "What have I done?  How could I be so thoughtless?  I gave away her cake!  Cake I would have happily eaten with her.  I am a horrible father.  But it was Ken's fault after all!  I didn't want to give away the cake.  Papa made Daddy do it!"

Fortunately, before I could throw Ken under the bus for giving away the cake, he came into the room, assessed the situation and managed to change the course of the conversation.  He started talking to Cornelia about the cake, and how she had helped make it and how much fun they had making it.  Then -- before more talk of the lost cake resulted in more tears -- he seamlessly moved the conversation to the idea that they could make cookies together tomorrow.  Miraculously, the tears were replaced by excitement at the prospect of making cookies.  Cookies that would absolutely, definitely and most certainly not be given away.

The Cake

Margot’s Firsts

Flynn is getting a lot of “baby glory” right now since he was the first to crawl and the first to take his first steps, etc.  And he’s certainly very, . . . um, . . . adventurous. 

Margot, on the other hand, is more quiet, more calm, more subdued.  She often plays on her own – “far from the madding crowd” (i.e., her more boisterous brother and older sister -- and you will find her by herself closely studying a toy or whatever else she might have picked up, turning it over in her little hands. “I wonder what this does . . . .," she seems to be thinking.  She’s definitely a thinker. 

Her development has blossomed in subtle ways.  For example, she now perceives the connections between objects and their functions.  She picks up a hairbrush and touches it to her head.  She picks up a shirt and puts it on top of her head.  She picks up a bottle and gestures it toward your mouth, or she picks up a baby-wipe and waves it toward your face.  She also waves back when you wave at her - sometimes.    

This weekend I gathered up in a single basket all the toys that will help her start to learn her colors and shapes and how different pieces fit together, toys which until now have been scattered about the house in pieces or up in Cornelia’s closet. 

Margot and Papa, August 30, 2014


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Flynn's Firsts

Flynn has had a lot of "firsts" in the last few weeks leading up to his first birthday last weekend.  Here are a few highlights.

1.  First steps.  Flynn officially took his first steps on Friday, August 15th.  Ken and I had just arrived at Grandma Mary's and Grandpa Roy's house where the kids had been vacationing for a month.  Ken and I were there for the kids' last weekend and to take them home.  (It was also my 30th high school reunion weekend.  Bonus pictures included below.)  We were barely into the house and Ken -- who had not seen the kids for a month -- was already testing the twins' walking skills; standing them up and seeing if they would take any steps for him.  Flynn rose the challenge and took three steps while everyone was watching.  (Can you say "show off!"?  Because surely that's what Margot was thinking.  I'm pretty sure she even rolled her eyes.) 

2.  First climb up the stairs.  A week later, back in San Francisco, Flynn climbed the stairs all the way to the top for the first time -- with Coco gleefully urging him on from the top of the stairs the entire time.  "Come on, Flynn! Come on!"   Now he regularly makes a break for it any chance he gets and heads to the bottom of the stairs so he can make the long climb up.  And I swear, even when I say in my best don't-you-dare tone, "Flyyynnn . . . ., I'm watching you!" he turns and gives me a look that pretty much says, "Yeah? So watch this!"  And up he goes.     

"Hey, Daddy!  You watchin this?!"

"You gotta bend your knees . . ."

"Hey Margot! Learn from the master!"
3.  First item out of a second-story window.  I should've seen this one coming.  Coco is nearly three-and-half and has never thrown, pushed or dropped anything out a window.  I somehow also doubt that Margot will do anything of the sort.  Fynn, of course, is another story.  One morning a week or so ago I was changing Margot, and Flynn was standing next to me.  He was playing with a plastic sippy cup and was holding on to the window sill.  The window was open about three inches.  (Totally baby-safe.  Trust me.  I'm uber-paranoid about open windows.)  As I glanced down, I saw him look out the opening -- which was about eye-level -- and push the sippy cup right out the window.  I don't think he knew exactly what had happened, but since I reacted with so much surprise he was pretty pleased with whatever he had done.

4.  First time spashing water in the toilet.  My words to him:"Seriously, Flynn?"

Flynn and Daddy, August 30, 2014

Bonus pictures:  My date to senior ball and me in 1984 and again in 2014.  Her mom saved the dress . . . .


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Camp 2014

Cornelia, Margot and Flynn are away at summer camp – four weeks at Grandpa Roy and Grandma Mary’s house in Port Angeles. 

Just like she was last year, Cornelia is quite busy every day helping grandpa with the yard work, raking and picking up pine cones, and of course keeping the driveway swept up and the birdfeeder filled.  She gets out and about with Grandpa for a bike ride once the work is done.  Grandma arranged for private swimming lessons twice a week for all four weeks and Coco is doing really well, according to the reports I'm getting. 

Margot and Flynn are busy too – they are mostly focused on trying to walk. Grandpa and Grandma are busy every day doing the “finger walk” thing around the house.  The twins are also having fun splashing around in the wading pool when the weather is nice enough.  (The west end of Port Angeles is a bit like the west side of San Francisco -- it can be a bit foggy and chilly even in the summer time.) 

We also made the annual weekend trek to Moxee to introduce Margot and Flynn to the Walsh clan.  Scott even flew up from Denver for the weekend as well.     

Nothing like a three-year-old and power tools.

Taking a break from the morning chores.

"To the park, Grandpa!"

Craft time with Grandma. 
(Uh, did I just use "Grandma" and "craft" in the same sentence.
My, how times have changed . . .)



So, Margot and Flynn were not so keen on Uncle Scott.
East Beach, Lake Crescent