Friday, December 23, 2005

2005: The Year In Review

When I started Double Duty Diary back in August, it was mostly with the intent of leaving behind the old method of sharing family photos (mass e-mail dumps of huge, often mail-box-clogging photo files to recipients who may or may not want to see them), in an attempt to provide an outlet through which friends and family could view, on their own terms and in their own time, photos of the kids. Come visit once a day, come visit once a week, or come visit only once; it's your choice.
We'll leave the light on for you.

Along the way, I realized how much fun—and how cathartic—writing stories about the hilarious and often challenging parts of my day could be. A twenty-minute temper tantrum thrown by a tyrannical, hungry, napless three-year-old may seem like the end of the universe while you're caught in its wake, but later that day, with a healthy dose of retrospection, a dash of forgiveness, and a splash of humor (and one ice-cold Tecate with a slice of lime), you've got a good story for the tellin'.

But I haven't forgotten just how important the visuals are to my original purpose with this blog; I like to think that they tell just as much of the story as my words do. Most days, in fact, I let the images in my photo files dictate which ditties I'll write about (and with two kids under the age of four, oh, the "ditties" I have). Sometimes, I feel the photos are strong enough on their own to tell the story I want to share. And some days, truth be told, my ball-breaking bosses have me on such a tight schedule of juice fetching, peek-a-booing, swing pushing, spoon feeding, and Lincoln-Logging, that posting a photo or two is about all I can find the time, energy and sanity to do. (I so deserve a raise.)

So, inspired by Time magazine's "Best Photos of 2005" issue last week, I decided to wrap up the year by creating a similar post that includes my "Favorite Photos of 2005." For one reason or another, these images never made it to the blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do; they represent many of the events that I will remember fondly when I think of the year that was 2005—the year that blogged.

The Son Also Rises:
Finnegan in January at age 2 1/2

Stuck On You:
Valentine's Day sticker fun with Papa at Ruby's Diner

It Never Rains In Southern California:
Finnegan in March, happy to break out his rain gear once and for all

The Final Piece Of Our Puzzle:
At 1:57 p.m. on April 30th we met our sweet daughter, Shea Emely

Someone To Watch Over Me:
Finney took quickly to his new role as the Big Brother

His Favorite New Hobby:
John napping with five-week-old Shea

Some Expressions Are Universal:
Opa sharing a big grin with his first granddaughter

Catch Me If You Can:
Finney dodging the waves

Not So Tiny Bubbles:
Finnegan on June 26th, his third birthday

A Three-Hour Tour:
Karin and John on a sunset cruise in late June

Screams Of Delight:
Fourth of July comedy at the beach

The Biggest Grin:
Shea at 11 weeks, charming her way through the summer

On The Green Grass, The Boys In Blue:
The kids showing their unique eye colors at a September Dodger game

Or As Grandma Likes To Call Her, S. Emely:
Grandma Emely with Shea in October

Full Speed Ahead:
Finney really opening it up in mid-November

Hey, Nice Attention To Detail:
Finn making Christmas cookies with his new buddy and classmate, Logan

Finally Learning To Kiss Back:
Finn and Shea, early December

Double Duty Diary will be back again in 2006.
Hope you have a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Our 100th Post!

In case you were wondering,
this is what a
race car angel looks like:

Monday, December 19, 2005


First the good news: Finn loves preschool. He loves his classmates, his teacher, playtime, story time and crafts. Each morning after he wakes up he inquires if today is a school day; three days a week he’s ecstatic, two days a week he’s disappointed, and on the weekends the question represents the only time he’ll address me directly, as Johnny’s home and I can’t be wasting my time on idle chatter, woman, when my Papa’s here to play with me! Duh!

Now onto the frustrating news (or comic news, I suppose, for everyone who’s not his Virgo mother).
The complete version of the sentence above should have been written like this: Finn loves preschool—as long as it falls between the regularly scheduled school hours of 9am and 12:30pm. After that time, all declarations of love become null and void.

For some reason, the same little boy who chatters non-stop all day long and has lately earned himself the nickname “Captain Volume” due to his success rate in waking his sister up from more than 90 percent of her naps while doing so, flat-out refuses to participate in any
extracurricular social or holiday activities at school. The trend began back in October, when the school hosted its fall carnival a few nights before Halloween. (Perhaps you’re familiar with my October 27th post?) I thought his overall apprehension to participate was explainable by the fact that, in the dark, the school’s otherwise familiar and comforting surroundings appeared spooky and intimidating.

But that quaint theory was quickly shattered upon our arrival at—and Finn’s immediate boycott of—the school’s Thanksgiving banquet. This festive spread, held in BROAD DAYLIGHT, featured a long banquet table where miniature pilgrims and Indians dined on sliced turkey, fruit and biscuits. Finn wouldn’t even sit with his
classmates—you know, the ones he laughs and plays with each day at school without issue—let alone wear the feathered headdress that he had made himself just days earlier. He clung to my leg while we watched his friends eat—and the suddenly shy boy no wear-um fancy headdress.

So I harbored great optimism when I overheard Finney practicing his Christmas carols around the house last week in preparation for the school’s annual Christmas pageant. Some of the more outgoing students at school, the ones who are able to bring themselves to speak aloud among mixed company, volunteered to be part of the nativity scene. The rest of the children, including Finney, were to play a chorus of angels, dressed all in white with silver garland around their waists and halos on their heads.

The first sign of festive fallout materialized a day or two before the show when Finn said to me, “I don’t want to be an angel; I want to be Darth Vader.” I let him know that Darth Vader probably didn’t make an appearance at the first Christmas, but I assured him that he could play any type of angel that he wanted. “I want to be a race car angel, then,” he retorted, speeding off in one long screech around the kitchen corner and out of sight. Great, I naively thought. Problem solved.

Are you predicting how this turns out, yet?

The night of the show, as John and I attempted to dress Finn in his pageant costume, you would have thought we were trying to outfit the lad in a straight jacket lined with porcupine quills instead of an oversized Hanes beefy tee by the way he writhed in protest. Despite our most earnest attempts at coercion and pleas for compliance, Finnegan morphed once again into a holiday humbug and a pillar of shyness, rigid and unmoving. No silver garland belt, no halo, no way. I don’t wanna. No race car angel. No angel. No nothin’. Even Grandma, who with Opa was in attendance to witness their grandson’s first holiday performance, couldn’t work her magic and persuade him to join the heavenly host of toddler angels.

So, together as one big family, we watched the charming Christmas pageant unfold from the 14th pew of the school’s chapel. Finney too, who was still being held in all his unrelenting resolve on the sidelines by Grandma.

Afterwards, from the safety of the parking lot, Finn assured us that, yes, he would definitely participate next year with his classmates. Yeah, that's right, I'll do it NEXT YEAR! Especially once he noticed that all the little angels, shepherds, animals and even the baby Jesus himself came back from the pageant chomping on the candy canes they had just been given by Santa.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Boy And His Tree

John took Finney along this year to pick out the family Christmas tree. As Finn hasn't seen the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV yet this year, we can only surmise from his selection that he either 1) has an astounding memory and was able to recall the lesson from last year's airing, or 2) that he's filled with love by the god of Small Things.

Here is his bedraggled and humble choice, which he presented to us with more pride than I thought could fill his little body:

And you know what? It cleaned up real nice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Look Ma, No Teeth

I think Shea's teething. The general whiny clinginess she usually reserves for the late afternoon/early evening has been making guest appearances throughout the entire live-long day this week—even in the mornings, when she's usually as chipper as an overtime elf collecting his paycheck on Boxing Day.

We haven't been able to detect any tiny tooth buds breaking through her gums yet, as the photo at right clearly shows, but I'll certainly keep you posted. Or, you can just search my expired body for itty bitty vampire marks. Be sure to check around 7pm, after the two darlings I call children have screeched, clawed and ravaged their way through the twilight hours into my heart. Literally.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Safety First

I took the kids to the mall last week to take care of some last-minute Christmas shopping and general overspending and, while there, we bumped into Santa.

Well, sort of.

You see, we actually watched him work the merry masses in his pimped-out pied-a-terre--his street name is Master SC, it seems, from the looks of the embellished fireplace mantel--from the safety of the mall's second-floor perch, as this was how close Finnegan would allow us to get to the man in red.

From his safety-glass-enclosed nest above, Tiny Timidity watched with great fascination that which he would not grant direct eye contact on the first floor.

See, honey, that little girl just climbed up on his lap and she seems OK.
She clearly lacks the gene to distinguish when she's in mortal danger.

Santa's really a nice guy.
How can you trust someone who dresses like that in Southern California?

And that little girl just got a lollipop after her visit.

I'm pretty sure he's going to eat all those children whole and he's just sweetening the mix.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


"Hop on, little lady!"

--Finn to Shea, as he rode around the backyard on his tricycle and Shea adoringly watched his every move from her fun zone.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mother's Little Helper

Bossed In Translation

Most of the time, "S" stands for Shea. But some of the time, "S" stands for screamer. Sonorous, spirited, shameless screamer. Not all the time, thankfully, but when our little diva’s Pampers are in a pickle she’s known to voice her displeasure with abandon. LOUDLY.

Sometimes, in moments of frustration, I question aloud—rhetorically, mind you—what is so upsetting to the poor lass that she must regularly try to deafen every living creature within 30 feet of her vocal chords.

Finnegan, rarely fazed by the crushing din and ever the gallant assistant, has on a number of occasions offered up translations of his little sister’s discontent in what can best be described as a classic exercise in projection. To wit:

She’s sad because she wants to play.
She’s sad because Johnny’s not here.
She’s sad because she wants to go to Grandma’s house.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We Love Every Ounce Of Her

I really didn't think our little camera had quite enough gusto to capture this gem, but voila!

Notice there's no baby blanket beneath her bottom to receive this offering to the spittle gods.

Yeah, it looks like Stanley Steemer's gonna have a good year in '06....

Monday, December 05, 2005


OK, here's the plan: When you start screaming for your dinner, I'll start bouncing around in my seat because I desperately have to go to the bathroom. Then, after she's fed you and finished helping me in bathroom, you fill your diaper and I'll knock my dinner on the floor. After she cleans up my mess and changes you, you start that great "hold me now or I'll just die" whine that you do so well and I'll moan incessantly about how much I want my Papa. It'll be great ~ she won't know if she's coming or going. Now let's go make the most of the next two witching hours. Ready, break!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chunk Muffin

Shea had her 7-month checkup yesterday, weighing in at 20 roll-pinching pounds. She's 28 inches long, too, for those of you who keep up on those kinds of stats. (Hi, Mom.)
Best of all, she's in great health and only yelled at me for five minutes for letting that mean, mean doctor stick two needles in her otherwise perfect thighs.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On The First Day Of Christmas

It's December. No, really. As in the month before it becomes 2006 and we move into the second half of the decade. As in there are only 24 days left before the dude in the red suit makes his first appearance that might actually be remembered in my three-year-old son's collective memory bank so I'd better pay attention to all the details this year lest the Tiny General take note of some willy nilly inconsistency in my storyline and call me out as a dream-shattering, innocence-crushing charlatan. (As in a full seven months after I gave birth to my last child and shouldn't these lovely lady lumps be gone by now?)

Did I mention it's December?!?

We dressed up the kids in their holiday finery last week and took them to see Santa Claus. Below you'll find the results of this well-intentioned outing in the order in which they unfolded. (Note John's hand in the left foreground of the first two photos, which Finn initally REFUSED to let go of.) The potentially precious moment quickly devolved into a truly comic and suspenseful toss-up as to who would lose their bedecked
shit first.

Great Santa, though, no?