Sunday, January 29, 2006

We'll Be Back Before You Know It

Double Duty Diary will be hitting the proverbial pause button as we take a little family vacation to celebrate the the big guy's 40th birthday.

We'll be back again soon, most likely with some fun pictures, traveling-with-kids horror stories, acute jetlag, and sunburns.

Ah, life is good!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

100 Things About Me

I tried to add this self-indulgent list to my main profile page, as I've seen posted on blogs elsewhere, but it went well beyond the established character allotment.

Good thing they don't have a photo limit on this system, eh?

  1. My name is Karin.
  2. It usually gets misspelled.
  3. I’m 35 years old and this still bugs me a little, like someone dialing a wrong number.
  4. From all accounts and memories, I was a pretty timid child.
  5. Once, while staying overnight at a friend’s house, I played quietly by myself in another room while my friend and the rest of her family watched “CHiPs”—because the car explosions upset me.
  6. That same family once took me to see a Blue Angels flight performance; the incredible noise of the aircraft overhead frightened me so much that I went to the parking lot and sat in the car with the windows rolled up for two hours. Alone.
  7. That same childhood friend was Chinese and whenever I played at her house I would secretly wish that she would invite me to stay for dinner because her mother made the most delicious, authentic and, to my underexposed palate, mind-blowing Chinese meals.
  8. To this day, my favorite foods are Asian in origin: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.
  9. I take half and half and real sugar in my coffee.
  10. I don’t drink enough water.
  11. I waited for the right guy.
  12. I’m thankful every single day that I did.
  13. I hardly ever cry.
  14. In the late ’90s I cried once for hours and hours after a little boy I knew drowned in a pool. At his Little League end-of-season pool party. It still chokes me up when I think about it.
  15. My husband has known me for 11 years and has seen me give birth twice but has never seen me cry. I like to think that he’s a large part of the reason that I don’t need to.
  16. It doesn't bother me when other people cry, but I look forward to the time when my children don’t cry so much.
  17. The birth of my children represent the two best days of my life.
  18. My wedding day is a close third.
  19. At our wedding my husband, John, and I provided a keg of Guinness for our guests. We drank the keg’s last pitcher together in our room at the Hotel Laguna (the Bacall suite, named so because Bogart and Bacall used to rendezvous there), immediately after the wedding ended.
  20. My married initials are KEG.
  21. Finnegan, our son, is named after a book I have never read.
  22. Shea, our daughter, is named after a stadium I have never visited.
  23. I use Shea butter, however, in unbridled amounts and think the Shea tree of Africa is lovely.
  24. I absolutely love both of my kids’ names and think they fit their personalities perfectly.
  25. I can’t watch scary or violent movies. Despite hearing repeatedly how great they were, I have never seen Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Braveheart, Reservoir Dogs, Platoon, The Deerhunter, Seven, Kill Bill, or Unforgiven.
  26. I saw Psycho at age 10 and was shaken for months.
  27. I flirted with some OCD-type rituals as a child but gave them up because I found them to be too exhausting to maintain.
  28. I have jumped off of more than one pier into the Pacific Ocean.
  29. Once I did so at night with a group of my friends, wearing only my panties.
  30. That night I was wearing more clothing than most of the other people in the group.
  31. I used to prefer salty over sweet, but since I gave birth I prefer sweet over salty.
  32. I was accepted to UC Berkeley but attended college at UCLA. I had a great time, learned a lot, and made some lifelong friends, but still sometimes wonder, “What if?”
  33. I lived in London for six months after college and worked at Harrods, shucking oysters and serving champagne in the store’s gorgeous, tiled food halls.
  34. Handling hundreds of coarse oyster shells each day gradually wore away my fingerprints.
  35. They eventually came back.
  36. I was standing about 90 feet away from windows that exploded when an IRA bomb, placed in a public trash can outside Harrods, detonated. Thankfully, nobody died. That time.
  37. I went to at least one play, museum, or historical building every week while living in London.
  38. I think about the city of London almost every single day.
  39. My parents have lived in the same house for more than 30 years.
  40. When my children visit my parents, they play and sleep in the same little room I called my own for nearly 20 years.
  41. I’m not the best housekeeper.
  42. I get better at cooking each year.
  43. I used to procrastinate but I’ll get to the rest of that story later.
  44. I can’t be away from the ocean for too long with getting a little batty.
  45. I’d much rather be too hot than too cold.
  46. Opening Day of baseball season is my favorite day of the year.
  47. While I do love baseball and the romance and lore that surround it as an all-American pastime, it’s mostly because the arrival of Opening Day signals the end of winter and the beginning of warmer weather.
  48. The first song I taught my son to sing was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
  49. My least favorite day of the year is when the clocks are turned back for Daylight Savings.
  50. Not so coincidentally, this usually falls around the same time as the World Series, thus marking the end of baseball season—and the beginning of colder weather.
  51. I could never live (happily) somewhere where it snows.
  52. I know; I’m a huge wimp.
  53. I’m allergic to cats.
  54. Although I like cats, I’m glad I’m allergic because I wouldn’t ever want to have one of my own.
  55. One day, I’d like to have a dog.
  56. After driving a series of used cars for 14 years, I bought myself my first new car at the age of 30.
  57. Even though it’s a Chrysler, it felt like it was a Ferrari.
  58. On the way home from the dealership I played Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” as loud as it would go. And for the first time in my personal driving experience the speakers didn’t distort.
  59. I have been to no fewer than 150 concerts, large and small.
  60. Remarkably, I still have fantastic hearing.
  61. I’ve seen Beck in concert seven times; the second time I saw him, he opened for Johnny Cash.
  62. The first album I knew intimately from start to finish was John Denver’s “Poems, Prayers & Promises.” Although he dabbled in cheese later in his career, I still find this early album to be earnest and beautiful, and the title song can make me a little misty if it catches me in the right mood.
  63. I owned a metallic blue 1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville de Elegance for about two years while I was still single. I bought it for $450, which I figured came out to about 10 cents a pound. It had five ash trays in it and sailed like a dream.
  64. I read magazines from front to back, without exception.
  65. John reads the obituaries department in Time magazine first.
  66. The only thing I really miss about having a corporate job is the paycheck.
  67. I’m perfectly happy with two children and don’t want any more.
  68. When I imagine my life without kids I imagine myself pining for my kids.
  69. I’ve needed my Mom more in my thirties than I did during my twenties.
  70. I talk to my grandmother about once a week. She’s one of my favorite people. Ever.
  71. As frustrating and blood-boiling as it is when my son is willful and defiant, a little part of me is secretly relieved that he isn’t as timid as I was.
  72. It wasn’t until I had children that I felt I had anything to write about; I never felt close enough to the subject matter.
  73. If I was given two hours to nap or read, it would be a tough choice deciding which to do.
  74. I’d like to visit Japan.
  75. John and I often talk about retiring in Hawaii.
  76. Good writing quickens my heart rate.
  77. I made most of the best friends I have today in Junior High. That was really the only good thing about Junior High.
  78. When I was in seventh grade, a vapid rockabilly girl mistook me for a boy. I was wearing a grey crew-neck sweater, cords, and a bowl-cut hairdo. The next day before school, after I put on a skirt and blouse, my mom curled my hair for me.
  79. In eighth grade, while eating the lunch my Mom packed for me, I unwrapped the aluminum foil from what I thought was a soda can and discovered it was a can of Coors. I giggled about it with my friends and threw it in the trashcan.
  80. My Mom was mortified when I told her what she had done.
  81. I cannot draw to save my life.
  82. My brother was an art major.
  83. I’m starting to get gray hair.
  84. I don’t want to start coloring my hair. Yet.
  85. John has sexy salt and pepper sideburns. I don’t think there’s anything sexy about my grays but he doesn’t seem to mind.
  86. I love how John, one of those strong, silent types, will begin four separate sentences at the same time when excitedly trying to tell a story.
  87. Sometimes, when he’s sleepy, he’ll begin a sentence and then just end it before completing his
  88. When things are too hard to learn I give up more often than I’d like to admit.
  89. I wish I had more perseverance.
  90. As a girl I loved Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett.
  91. It makes me sad that they’ve now both had so much plastic surgery that they’re hard to recognize until they speak.
  92. The two hardest classes I’ve ever taken were Chemistry and Geology.
  93. My friend Michelle is a getting her master’s degree in chemical geology, or something like that. Her talents boggle me.
  94. I love destination aquariums.
  95. The desert bores me.
  96. I have a low threshold for personal drama.
  97. I hate ironing.
  98. I miss having time to read.
  99. I miss having time to do crafts.
  100. I know when my children get bigger I will have time to do these things again and I’ll miss the days when my children were little. I’m just that way.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I've been poking around the blog world lately and have come across some pretty impressive women out there who have the time and organization to both raise their children and remain dedicated to their arty crafts. First of all, let me just say how impressed I always am at people who manage to do both well. I'm still working on finding that happy balance.

So I enrolled our family in a "Mini-Swap" with a lovely group of other mothers around the world.

Sometimes She Reminds Me Of Moe Howard

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Clothes Are Still Killing Me

I really thought this girl clothing "thing" would wane after the initial shock of actually giving birth to a female child but, truth be told, it's only getting worse.

I'm so sad when Shea finally outgrows her cuter outfits and separates--and shoes!--that I almost always put them on her one last time, just because I can. Sure, they're a little short at the ankle and a little tight around the neck, but I'm able to cling onto the baby doll fantasy a little longer.

Sorry, sweet girl, to put you through the mild discomfort, but you're just too cute. And the clothes? Well, they're just too cute, too. Put them together and I'm toast; I can't help myself.

Just consider it harmless payback for all your needy caterwauling.

Sometimes She Reminds Me Of "That Girl," Ann Marie

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

For Your Convenience

In case you've ever had the inclination to conduct an online search while reading Double Duty Diary (you know, during those moments when you ask yourself, "Who the hell is Linda Fiorentino?" or "What does she mean by calling Gerhard Richter an abstract expressionist? I've only ever studied his figurative work!"), I've added a fun Google search bar at the bottom right-hand column of the blog. Enjoy!

Social Climber

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Get Your Insulin Ready, 'Cause This Is A Sweet One

"I had a dream last night that Shea could talk."

"Really, buddy? What did she say?"

"She said she wanted her brother to hold her."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Maytag, You're It!

Morning Routine:

Brew coffee...prepare Shea's breakfast...prepare Finn's breakfast...pour coffee...feed Shea while sipping coffee...nag Finn to start eating...savor coffee and all its coffee goodness...clean up Shea...put dirty bib and rest of load of clothes in washer...nag Finn to put down toy already and finish breakfast...put Shea in playpen...ignore Shea's squeals of protest...take clothes out of dryer and bring them upstairs to be folded later...continue nagging Finn to -- Wait! Where's Finn?

Finney? Where are you?


[remotely] I'm in here, Mom!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Like Christmas In July

Our Christmas tree was disassembled and laid to rest at the curb nearly two weeks ago...

The lights that twinkled outside for a month have been taken down and put away...

And the reams of holiday lore that we spewed at Finn in the weeks preceding the Big Day have now scrambled around in his spongey brain like a tangle of Christmas lights, causing him to tell me today that Santa Claus lives in our chimney...

But we're still living the La Vida Noel since we realized--oops!--that we forgot to open the gingerbread house that we received as a gift two days before Christmas. Our solution? Open it, decorate it, photograph it, break it up, and get started on the big job that will be eating it--all in the same night.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Karin: "Shea, say Mama."

Shea: "Papa."

Karin: "Say Mama."

Shea: "Papa."

Karin: "Say MAMA."

Shea: "Papa."

Karin, pathetically attempting reverse psychology:
"OK, Shea. Say Papa."



Shea: "Papapapapapa....."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

You Talkin' To ME?!?

Did you know that this is the official "De-lurking" week in the blog world? No? I didn't either. Until I read a few of my favorite blogs today, that is.

Apparently, this is the week when blog audiences who tune in regularly to read posts on their favorite blogs in quiet anonymity are encouraged to post their comments/questions/critiques.

Been wondering about something in a recent post? Now's the time to ask. (On that note, by the way, NO--we didn't name our son Finnegan after a beer, as the link at right might suggest. He was named after the James Joyce novel Finnegans Wake, but I seriously toyed with the middle name of Guinness for about a minute because how cool would it be to have a beer name? My name is Karin and sometimes, especially at the sushi bar, I imagine it's KIRIN, but I digress...)

Anyway, now's a great time to reach out and say hello. For the record, I take issue with the term "De-lurking" because it sounds kind of menacing--reading isn't lurking, duh!--so let's just say it's Reader Feedback Week. (OK, I admit that's not as catchy as "De-lurking," but you get the point.) So, start clicking that keyboard and say hi. It'll make me feel a little less like I'm writing in a vacuum each day. De-lurking is delightful!

Things They Don't Tell You In The Mommy Handbook

There will be times when you'll be bitten, kicked, karate chopped, and headbutted by your children.
All in the same day.
All in the name of love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Newest Leprechaun

In our family when someone doesn’t take a nap the entire day he’s called a No Nap McGee. My Mom coined this charming sobriquet back when Finn was two, when going without a nap all day was a Big Deal. We originally used it so Finn wouldn’t know we were talking about him, as in, “You wouldn’t believe the fit No Nap McGee threw today!” But Inspector Napless soon caught on that we were talking about him and, in a page straight from the From Epithets to Empowerment handbook, actually began using it himself in his No Rest For The Weary campaign: “But, Moooooommmmm, I want to be a No Nap McGee today!”

The nickname always struck me as oddly funny in its cheery singsonginess, since being a No Nap McGee turned our usually sweet boy into a fang-bearing, claw-sharpening gremlin. I imagined all the happy little leprechauns—Patty O’Day, Seamus McGillicuddy, Malachy O’Reilly, and the like—gathered around the hearth, half pints in hand, singing folk songs of dear old Eire, while No Nap McGee sulked in a shadowy corner, whining about When his Papa was expected home or Why he didn’t want to eat his yucky dinner.

These days, Finn rarely naps anymore so we’ve shelved the nickname for a while. We do, however, have a new ornery leprechaun in our midst, one with big blue eyes and a grip tighter than Guinness on Ireland*: Grabby McDougal.

Baby Shea is in that grab-as-grab-can stage of babyhood, clutching with fists aplenty anything within her reach: hair, necklaces, noses, earrings, breasts, curtains, lips, telephones, Venetian blinds, her brother—you name it. Then she tries to shove said item straight into her pretty, teething little mouth.

So tactile-driven is Grabby McDougal that John and I must keep a stash of plastic toys nearby when we feed her to keep her hands busy so she doesn’t intercept the food-filled spoon as it’s en route to her mouth. Lately, each toy we present holds her attention for the duration it takes to ingest about four bites of food, after which she hurls the toy to the floor in disgust like a petulant monarch tossing a deadpan jester out of her parlor.

Stay tuned for the announcement of future inductees to the Surly Leprechaun Hall of Fame, as we’ve been witnessing some regular appearances lately from the likes of Whiney O’Herlihy, Clingy McCorkle, Sassback Sullivan, and, most spectacularly, the Lord of the Poop Dance.

* In no way is this comment meant to be judgmental. After touring the Guinness James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, I learned that almost two billion pints of Guinness a year are sold around the world and more than one million pints A DAY are sold in Great Britain alone. And while on our honeymoon in England and Ireland, John and I singlehandedly (doublefistedly?) tipped the scales in favor of homeland consumption.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006


Our good friend Jody generously let us take her Canon PowerShot S60 digital camera for a test drive over the holidays. All I can say is, WOW! This efficient little machine let me turn something as everyday as an afternoon walk around the neighborhood into One Of Those Moments.

Thanks, Jody! You realize, of course, that you've created a monster and now I'll be forced to hold your camera hostage, right?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit

Finney told us his first joke over the Christmas break.

If I had read it written on paper, it probably would not have even made me smile. Any other kid telling it? I'd probably giggle. But when he belted it out, taking me completely by surprise, I cracked up for days.

Are you ready? (You have to at least smile, now, you realize...)

Here it is:

"The cows went to the moovies."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Angel Descends

By the way, can you guess who finally decided to wear his halo--along with his Start Wars t-shirt and Darth Vader sneakers--on Christmas morning?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Introducing Big Red

When Finn was an infant and John and I were still somewhat used to having two salaries at our disposal (ah, the folly!), we decided to splurge and buy our first-born baby the tricycle of our dreams. The Sky King, a scrumptious "fender-to-tailfin replica" of the 1936 version of the same trike, has a working headlight; thin, whitewall tires; and the sleekest design lines of any ride I've seen on any sidewalk anywhere. The thing is just flat bad ass.

And, yes, we wish they made an adult version.

So, for more than three years, this fine piece of machinery has been sitting in its original box, tucked away and out of sight, just waiting for the day when Finney would be big enough to ride it without killing it or himself in the attempt.

That day, my friends, was Christmas morning 2005.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you in all its retro glory . . . BIG RED:

Needless to say, Big Red was a huge hit.

And, yes, John and I are totally jealous.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Three-Year-Old Teenager

I originally posted this photo without any accompanying text just before dinner because, with his kickin'-it-on-the-couch pose and mildly defiant expression, Finney—all three years and six months of him—looked like a hip but recalcitrant teenager to me.

Little did I know that only moments later, as I was preparing dinner in the kitchen, he would really drive the metaphor home with his snarky comment, below.

Visibly impatient with my slow preparation of his tilapia and turkey quesadilla, Sir Kvetch-A-Lot shifted all of his weight to one hip, rolled his green eyes skyward and, intending to express his boredom with the entire plebeian, domesticated condition, conjugated his complaint incorrectly and exclaimed:


Finn, you may be bored but you are definitely never boring.

She's A Giver

On her first Christmas, baby Shea gave us all some wonderful gifts.

For Finnegan:
This year, by sitting silently on Mommy's lap for nearly an hour, I will let you OWN the Christmas Eve festivites at Grandma and Opa's house. Go ahead, fish gifts out from under the tree, hand them to their recipients, and tear open your own. Steal the show with your excited dances, commanding all attention on yourself. Work the room like you did back in the day. While all eyes are on you, I'll be all eyes. Enjoy your moment; its kind may not come again so soon, big brother.
Love, Shea

For Papa:

For you, my sweet father, I will babble "Dada" for the first time on Christmas morning--and continue to do so incessantly for the next four days. Beginning on day four, I will try your preferred "Papa" on for size with mixed results.
Love, Shea

For Mommy:

Since I gave you the spoken gift of "Mama" last month, I will allow you to dress me in a super girly, velvet Christmas dress, upon which I won't spit up or drool for at least an hour, allowing you to take your requisite three hundred photos. Snap away, dear woman; get a good one.
Love, Shea

Monday, January 02, 2006

Play It As It Lays

My Mom loves to tell the story about how, when I was a child, my parents were never able to tell me ahead of time when we were going to Disneyland because I would get so excited that I would hardly sleep the night before--thus turning me into an overexcited, exhausted, ticking time bomb zombie while at the supposed Happiest Place on Earth.

Well, a little more ticking time bomb-ish than the rest of the kids there, I suppose.

So I was a little worried that maybe Finn had inherited this anticipatory anxiousness from his Mom when, on Christmas Eve, he showed no signs of winding down to sleep. Knowing that Santa would finally be making his long-awaited and much-publicized appearance THAT VERY NIGHT, Finney repeatedly resisted our efforts to get him to bed.

After a number of fruitless attempts to coax him into slumber (didn't he notice all those other kids contentedly sleeping in their beds in the four hundred Christmas stories we read him?!?!), and knowing that he was way overdue for some serious shuteye, we finally just had to close his bedroom door, muffling his pleas to stay up with us, and hope that he would eventually find his way into his bed, where he could properly host visions of sugarplums and such and we could get to work on rolling out the red carpet for Santa.

Once we closed the door, though, this is what we heard:

"No, not now! No, not now! No, not now!"

(Note the special emphasis on NOW, as if he'll clearly miss something spectacular--Reindeer tapdancing on the roof? Santa playing Frisbee golf with the cookies we left out for him? Mom and Papa slagging down too much egg nog?--if he retires this very minute.)

But since we held our ground and didn't respond, this simple plea soon became his mantra, his grand exhale, and the soundtrack to his final physical winddown for the day:

"No, not noooooooowwwwwwww! No, not noooooooowwwwwwww!"

This went on and on and on, as is Finnegan's Way:

"No, not nooooooooowwwwwwwwwww! No, not noooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww!"

Until, finally, we heard:

"Well, maybe just a five-minute nap."

Followed by delicious, festive silence.

And this, dear reader, is what we saw when we cracked open his bedroom door two minutes later to check on him:

Sunday, January 01, 2006