Thursday, November 30, 2006

At Last

Well, I did it.


Thirty days in a row of blog postings and, aside from a few trying weekends, I have to say it wasn't that bad.

And I agree with Laid-Off Dad that it has made my freelance writing flow much easier now that my wheels are greased and running daily.

And I feel like you, dear reader, have been able to stay more informed in our little goings on here at Casa Double Duty.

And I read some fun new blogs and made contact with some kind new commenters (hi, guys!).

But I'm done with the daily posts for a while, and plan to give myself a bit of a breather in December as I prepare for -- and enjoy -- the holidays.

In the meantime, though, I can tease you with this:

Double Duty Diary will be hosting another fun CAPTION CONTEST in December, so don't forget to check back in to give us your snarkiest and wittiest entries. There will be fabulous prizes for the winner(s).

And lumps of coal for those Grinches out there who don't play.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When Molehills Need To Stay Molehills

Ah, the sweet renewal of slumber. Its forgiving clutches embraced me for nearly 11 hours last night, thanks to my sweet husband, who took over the kiddy/kitchen cleanup/bathtime/pajamas/book-reading/bedtime reins and let me go to bed early.

After feeling obscenely short on attention and patience all day, I knew my ticket was finally up when, around 6:30pm, I nearly had a breakdown when John was unable to procure from his wallet the $7.50 I requested for Finney's December lunch schedule, which was due today to his preschool director, in cash, and in exact change.

What do you mean you don't have any money in your wallet?
What if there was an emergency?
What type of example are you setting?
This is just unacceptable!
An egregious front to the sanctity of fatherhood and all it represents!

Nevermind that I always take care of getting the cash for Finn's lunches on my own and therefore threw John a complete curveball with my last-minute request.

And nevermind that I didn't have any money in my wallet, either, so I had no right to opine on the propriety of a parent toting an empty wallet.

Logic was out the door at this point, sipping a Mai Tai and laughing at my ridiculous internal histrionics.

Don't worry, I didn't say any of those asinine things to John, nor did I mean them. They just ran in a ticker-tape rant through my sleep-deprived mind. But I knew that, when I felt my lower lip begin to tremble and heard my voice crack when I simply replied, "Really, you don't have any money in there?" that it was time to hang it up for the day.

Today, thanks to a $5 bill from Grandma and 10 quarters from the laundry cabinet's change-recovery bucket, Finn's money was paid on time for his three Friday pizza lunches in December.

And John, I betcha, stopped at the ATM.

And I, feeling human once again, will do so, as well.

Thankfully, my inner ticker tape doesn't run a course straight to my mouth, or I'd be crafting a Mea Culpa this morning instead of a Mea So Silly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bllllleeeeeeehhhhhhh.....

So remember how I mentioned I'm assistant teaching at the local community college this semester? Well, it's been great. Great students, who have great energy, who make it a great experience overall.

Great, great, great.

Um, well. Yeah.

What's not so great is that I got home from class last night at 2am. Yes, the 2am that comes in the slow, still hours when only hungry newborns, shut-out bar patrons and insomniacs rule the world. We were on production deadline and last night was our last opportunity to wrap up a semester's worth of loose ends.

So that's it for me today. You can find me crumpled in a corner of the living room, if you need me, trying to sell the kids on watching yet another Disney DVD while I drool in my full-blown knowledge that I'm closer to 40 than 30. And far, far away from 20 -- the last time I could pull off all-nighters.

Thanks for playing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On Their Way Home To Roost


For some reason the blogger system read this photo as a vertical, rather than as a horizontal -- the way it was shot.


I find the composition to be quite lovely this way.

So it stays.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanks For The Memories

Finn, whispering in my ear, hands cupped around his mouth for complete discretion:

"Mom, I have so many more memories than you.

I have about 100."

Moments later...

Finn, returning to my ear, whispering once again:

"Actually, I have about a gazillion memories, Mom."

Karin: "Wow, that's amazing, Finney. How many do you think I have?"

Finn: "Eight."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Last year, when he was only three years old, Finney staunchly refused to participate in any and all holiday events at his preschool. No Halloween games without security in tow, no dining with the other pilgrims and Indians, and absolutely no dressing up as an angel or singing in the Christmas play.

I'm happy to say that time and familiarity have pleasantly seasoned our once-shy boy who, a year later, has been doing great at (which is to say actually taking part in), the extracurricular holiday events at his school.

On Halloween, he strolled on his own in the cake walk and proudly brought home a half-dozen frosted cupcakes as the winner.

And on Wednesday, not only did he leave behind his fear of wearing silly hats at the annual Thanksgiving banquet, he actually joined his classmates at the banquet table instead of hiding, quivering, behind the safety of my leg.



And he ate. And ate. And ate.



In fact, he was the last one of his class at the table--long after all the others had run off to play on the jungle gym and swing set--still macking down turkey, fruit, rolls, and sweet little toddler pieces of pumpkin pie.


What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

10 Reasons Why I Love This Photo


  1. My Mom, bless her heart, who was so happy to have her two kids in the same place and eager to capture the sunset, took this photo almost directly into the sun--with no idea of what shooting at that angle does to the visibility of one's subject(s).
  2. If you look closely you can make out the Pacific Ocean in the background, right as the sun finally dipped into it for the night.
  3. Since my brother had just spent countless hours in his pickup truck, making his way home from Northern California--and since he's spent the last three months in northern Northern California full stop--he was pretty stinky at this precise moment. (Hi Ed!) And you can kinda tell that I'm recoiling slightly from being in such close proximity to his offending armpit.
  4. I have very few photos of just me and my brother as adults.
  5. I'm rocking my old-school Fussy shirt.
  6. Therefore, my boobs look great.
  7. Ed's throwing out the cheesy, lounge-lizard finger.
  8. You can see my dad's homemade plastic bird feeder, the one he cut out by hand from an old restaurant-sized mayonnaise container, along the right ridge of the image.
  9. It's November and we're still in t-shirts at sunset. (Sorry to belabor this point lately, but it's pretty common knowledge that I do much better when the weather's warm. So you might want to brace yourself for posts from Moody Mommy over the next six months or so.)
  10. It's always nice to have Eddie home again--even if it's just for 36 hours.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Don't Be Hatin'

Don't hate me if you're shivering somewhere cold and blustery right now, but we've had not one but TWO more beach days since my last beach post. You know, the one when I thought it was gonna be the last beach day of the year.

Yeah, well, not so much, I guess.


It's been a ridiculously gorgeous November here in So Cal, and I think I even managed to get a little sunburned yesterday while watching the kids at the park. (Yes, I hear your tiny, mocking wails in response to my horrible plight. Play on, world's smallest sympathy violins...)

And speaking of the park, look who joined me in my Double Duty playground adventures...


Why, it's Uncle Eddie!

He's heading to Hawaii tomorrow, so he stopped in for the traditional spaghetti dinner bonanza at our parents' house and some advanced glass clinking out on the town with his boys. (Yes, you may commence round two of surly condolences, what with his island-bound adventures and social itinerary, and all.)

In conclusion, I have no conclusion.

Just thankfulness for this ongoing beautiful weather and for my happy, healthy family.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Full-Fledged Daddy's Girl Already

John was away camping for most of the weekend with some buddies, so we didn't get to see him for three days and two nights.

After he returned, Shea pretty much refused to leave his side.

It was pretty damn sweet.



Sunday, November 19, 2006

A First Time For Everything

Yesterday I did something I've never done before.

I stopped at a scenic lookout point, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, that I have driven past more than 100 times in my life.

As a kid, I did so as a passenger in my parents' car, so I was never really aware of it. Once I started driving myself through life, though, I was usually too focused on my destination or my schedule to take the time to stop.

Yesterday I did.

And it was beautiful.

And kinda windy.

And it made me thankful for the beautiful scenery in my home state.
And reminded me how important it is to slow down once in a while.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Admit It

If you were going to be kicked, you'd want it to be done by someone wearing these shoes:


And if you were going to be hit about the face and chest with tiny fists of fury, you'd want it to be by someone who can pull this look off with ease:


And if you were going to be bitten on the soft, fleshy part of your underarm, you'd want it to be done by someone who has this smile:

Right?!?!?

P.S. Just as they did with her brother, Shea's "terrible twos," tantrums and all, have started early--at 18 months.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Maybe It's Time To Switch To Decaf

I love the name Shea.

It's simple, classic, androgynous, and--in my mind, at least--only subtly Irish.

And within the dynamics of our little family unit, it's also a perfect foil to Finnegan's three syllable, over-the-top, double Shamrocks first name.

It's also easily recognizable by most Americans as it graces one of the most famous baseball stadiums on the Eastern Seaboard.

But some people--particularly younger, less traveled ones--struggle with it, not quite sure how to put their mouth around the four little letters, S-H-E-A.

I've tr
uly lost count of how many times someone has garbled out,

"What? Is that SHEEEEE-uh?"

...as they try to phonetically read it.

I've always been able to calmly counter with,


"It's Shea. Like Shea Stadium. And Shea Butter. Which comes from the Shea tree."

When what I'm really tempted to say is,

"It's really not that complicated, Twinkletoes. Just Shea, plain and simple. And, while we're at it, is it tough going through life so bewildered by alternative vowel combinations?"

Or, more definitively,

"Actually, no, I don't really think the S-H-A-Y spelling would be 'totally cute,' either, and much easier for people to read. In fact, I don't think the kinds of people stumbling over this one do too much reading to begin with, to tell you the truth."

(Note to self: Hmmmm, grouchy much, Karin?)

On Monday, unfortunately, my list of easy examples for the, um, less informed was significantly shortened after
plans were announced to build a new home for the New York Mets. By 2009, the fourth-oldest ballpark in the National League will be reopened as Citi Field (you may commence cracking adolescent rhyming jokes now).

So, yeah. In sum:

I guess I'm sad about yet another old ball park closing. Piece of Americana, symbol of early '60s promise, yada yada yada.

And a little frustrated about having one less handy example at my--and my daughter's--fingertips.

And completely dumbfounded at the vapidity of many of the people I encounter on a daily basis.

But, really, mostly just jonesing for another strong cup of joe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm Sure There Will Also Be Some Advanced Lincoln Logging Courses

Probably because our 19-year-old next-door neighbor began attending the local community college this fall--and probably because I started assistant teaching there this semester, as well--the subject of college has come up frequently around the house lately.

Since I don't really remember knowing what college was until I was at least 10 years old, I was curious to hear what Finn had to say about it. So, over breakfast on Sunday morning, I asked him where he thought he might like to go to college.

After hearing about my college in Los Angeles and John's college in Texas, he said he might like to go to Uncle Eddie's college, in Northern California.

When I asked him what he'll be doing once he gets to college, he shrugged, then started throwing out some ideas, that from their sheer grasp of the true nature of college, absolutely demanded that they be written down for posterity.

Here, then, is what happens in college, according to Finn, age four and a quarter:

  • Play with toys
  • Eat snacks
  • Run on the playground
  • Read books
  • Put stamps on things
  • Pee in the toilet
  • Dress up
  • Play soccer
  • Play with cars
  • Read cards
  • Color
  • Drink coffee
  • Eat eggs every day

Monday, November 13, 2006

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News!

Our dear Auntie Gretchen becomes a DOCTOR today!

After successfully defending her dissertation, everybody's favorite PhD candidate will receive her walking papers this morning at a ceremony
on campus.

Congratulations, Auntie Gretchen. After so many years of work, months of stress, and seemingly only minutes of sleep, you did it! And you make us all so proud.

(Also, super cool Uncle Eddie turns 33 today. Happy Birthday!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

So THIS Must Be What Life In Hawaii's Like Year-round

What do you do when Mother Nature temporarily forgets what season's she's in and serves up a day straight out of the August songbook?

You grab the kids, pack up the car, and head straight to the beach, of course!

Yeah, we were able to eke out perhaps the last beach day of 2006 on Wednesday. The kids didn't miss a beat and were working the boogie boards and juice boxes as if it were the fourth of July.

Only seven more months until summertime!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Surf's Up

So, according to Lane, there are a whopping 1,913 blogs participating in the NaBloPoMo blog posting month. That's nearly two thousand of us crazies out there, trudging through the mental muck to bring you the finest -- ** cough, cough ** -- blog content we can muster up on a daily basis.

OK, at least we're trying.

If you'd like to check any of them out (some of them are just great!), all you have to do is click "The Randomizer" -- that cute little blue box over on the right-hand column that's been magically rigged to transport you to another participant's blog -- and you'll get to taste some other flavors of the blogosphere. Thanks, Lane!

And if you're so inclined, say hello while you're there. Feedback is nice. Nice, nice, nice.

Enjoy your surfing session, everyone!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Head Over Heels

Finney's a pretty solid sleeper. Like his father, once he's decided it's sleep time, his system shuts down quickly and he falls asleep right away. (As opposed to his mother, who has to review the events of the entire day and anticipate in annoying detail the plans for the next one.) And once he's down, he's pretty much out for the night.

Which helps explain how he managed to pull this doozie off:



Yes, he's fast asleep here, with his butt and legs on his bed, while his head and shoulders decided to fly south for the winter.

He falls out of his bed pretty regularly still -- John and I usually hear the THUMP of his body hitting the floor before we retire each night and place him back in his bed before retiring to our own -- which is why we keep him in his toddler bed and don't upgrade to a proper twin bed. It would just be further to fall, as they say.

He sometimes even partially falls out of bed in just the opposite of this configuration -- with his head on the bed and his knees on the floor, so it looks like he's deep in bedtime prayer.

But this was an impressive, new bedtime feat. Well done, Snoozy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beautiful Mystery

When I found myself fighting the urge to send this video link to every single person on my e-mail distribution list I realized it might be just the perfect content for a blog post.

OK, so it's not about my children, but it's about someone's child -- one who didn't say his first words ("pencil" and "paper") until he was five years old. And when he got that pencil and paper, oh, the magic he made!


The video is about five minutes long, and is SFW (safe for work), as the kids today like to say, so try to carve out some time to have your mind completely blown. I found myself with mouth agape in disbelief and astonishment more than once, completely in awe of this man's UNBELIEVABLE gift.

Here's the description that came with the video on YouTube:

Stephen Wiltshire is a British man who was diagnosed as autistic when he was a child. He's also been noted for his exacting memory, which allows him to recreate [in drawings] vast scenes he sees only once. This video shows his 16-foot-panorama of Rome after taking one helicopter ride above the city.



Thanks to www.kottke.org, who continually manages to rise above and find amazing and thought-provoking content on the Internet.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ding Ding Ding Went The Bell*

When Finn was young and first learning to speak, we somehow began to identify his primary boypart as his ding ding.

The phrase seemed cute enough at the time--especially because Finn was actually able to say it himself--and I've never really understood the need for very young children to know the clinical names of their body parts. Piggies are adorably interchangable with toes; nobody really needs to know at that stage in the game that they have phalanges. (Plus, it's always a little strange and to hear a two year old scream out in the grocery store about her wagina.)

So, now that he's "four and a quarter," John and I decided that now may be the time to introduce the formal names of his anatomical bits and pieces so he's not left standing aghast and aflutter should the word penis be introduced on the playground. (Oh, you and I both know that day's coming. And soon.)

Finn's nightly bathtime was chosen as the easiest and most convenient place to open the discussion, and John stepped up to the parenting plate with characteristic aplomb.

J: "So, Finney, did you know your ding ding is also called your penis?"

F, lying flat in the bathtub with his ears and head semi-submerged underwater: "Did you say PANTS?"

J, laughing: "No, Finn. I said penis."

F: "Is that Spanish, or something?"


* This, by the way, cracked me up something fierce.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Beauty, Mate!

Finn spelling his classmates' names outloud for me:

"Logan: L-O-G-A-N."

"Davis: D-A-V-I-S."

"Katherine: K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E."

"William: W-I-L-L-I-A-M."

"Grace: G-R-I-C-E."

Karin: "Uh oh, honey. That's spells Grice, not Grace. You need an A in there."

Finn: "I know. But that's how the crocodile guy would spell it, Mom."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Glad That's Finally Over

Some people complain that the Christmas season goes on just a little too long, overstaying its welcome and becoming a bit of a burden on the spirit.

For me, that happened with Halloween this year.

It just seemed the parties and parades and pumpkin patches and pandering went on and on and on. Don't get me wrong; each of the events in and of itself was delightful, and the kids had tons of fun celebrating the season. It was just cumulatively exhausting for me ushering the kids from one costumed event to the next, especially when Finn changed his mind every twelve minutes about his costume choice.

I know, I'm a party poop.

But I'm genuinely glad it's November. Thanksgiving is just the right low-key holiday to bridge the energy required to traverse from Halloween mayhem to Christmas bedlam. Bring on the stuffing.

That said, here's the recap of what we did and where we went:

At Brian and Geri's annual Halloween party, Reilly and Finney were once again each other's constant shadows. It's always good times with those guys, and this year was no exception. They hired a large, inflatable bouncy contraption for the backyard, and the kids--Brian included--jumped their hearts out for most of the night and much of the next morning.


Then, of course, there was the
pumpkin patch--the highlights of which I already posted here.

Then came the Halloween Haunt at Doheny State Beach, which had one of those black-light haunted houses lined with creepy fish and nautical motifs.


Followed by the Halloween parties and parades at Finn's preschool, which went on for TWO days (hence the plurals). The upshot was that I was able to capture the image below, which has become one of my favorites of the entire year for its dizzying range of blank four-year-old male expressions and focal points.


I mean, c'mon--that's priceless.

On Halloween night we trick or treated in our neighborhood, more to show off the kids to the neighbors than to collect candy. Since Shea was a bundle in our arms last year, this was really her first taste of toddling from door to door and she just rocked Finn's old tiger costume. Unsure of how to handle the whole treat bag thing, though, she would give her candy to her brother or me as often as she would place it in her bag for safekeeping. The instinctual protectiveness over her confectionary booty will surely develop in the coming years.


Afterwards, we visited Cari and family, where Finn and Daisy (aka Spidergirl) had a chance to play and trade lollipops.


To top the season off, baseball ended for the year and the clocks got turned back--two events that always send me into a bit of a psychic tailspin.

Finally, to see a slideshow of all the Halloweenerie and visual proof of why October kicked our butts, click here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Day 1 of 30

So I've done gone crazy and voluntarily signed myself up for the divine M. Kennedy's NaBloPoMo posting drive, wherein participants agree to post on their blogs once a day (weekends included!) for the entire month of November.

Lucky for me, photos count, eh?

Here's a little explanation from Fussy herself:

NaBloPoMo is an alternative to November's NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, the program wherein you crank out a novel in thirty days. Some of us lack the imagination, stamina, and self-destructive impulses required to write a novel that quickly, but, by Grabthar's Hammer, we can update our blogs every day for a month!

Even if it takes having a metaphorical gun pointed at our heads.



Yeah, there are a few prizes donated by fellow participants that will be distributed randomly, but the real purpose of the drive--other than clogging up the blogosphere with even more minutae--is to get the little hamsters running in their wheels upstairs.

This one says it pretty clearly, too:



So I'll be here all month, folks! It's the Jedi Force, man. You just can't beat that shit.


P.S. Readers without blogs are also invited to participate by "de-lurking" and leaving a comments every day this month. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of us self-flagellating, masochistic bloggers involved in NaBloPoMo, and you can find an alphabetized list or participants here. Pull out a couple pennies--this is the month to share your two cents. And, as Fussy says, if the site has Google ads, you know what to do.