Double-fisting in the Parking Lot

30 04 2012

When Alex gets frustrated at something, he now tries to keep himself from crying. He’ll shut his eyes tight and wipe his eyes quickly with his hands. It breaks my heart… to see him in (emotional) pain, to see that he’s picked up the “boys don’t cry” message from somewhere, to see him grow up.

Because he’s been getting more mature each month, it shocks me when he slides back and has bad days. Saturday was one of those. We decided to spend part of the afternoon learning to ride his bicycle. It’s a struggle to get him practicing. While he has fun while riding (mostly because he can make me run behind him), he’s so scared each time he starts. We offered a bribe of Baskin Robbins to get him out Saturday afternoon. I talked it up… how good the ice cream will be, how I’ll get my favorite — rainbow sherbet — and how much I think he’d like that too.

Even with the bribe he was defiant, short-tempered, and… well, six. (And he had a great time once he started riding.) I don’t know if it was the fear of falling that made him cranky or if something else was making him have an off day. All I know is his bad mood returned at Baskin Robbins, of all places. I don’t even remember what was making him whiny while we were there (I think we were arguing about cups versus cones), I just remember that nobody was having a good time as we ordered. Plus, a little league team was there, so there were no free tables and we had to sit outside in the parking lot. Not a good beginning to what was supposed to be a reward. Alex eventually gets chocolate ice cream with both a cone and a cup, and I get my rainbow sherbet, and we settle down outside.

While we were eating, and trying to turn everybody’s mood around, Alex looks at my rainbow sherbet and asks, “Dad, where did you find that kind of ice cream?”

Thinking he was asking me when I first had it, I answered, “Oh, this has been my favorite since I was a little boy.”

“No… I mean, where did you find it? I looked for it and I couldn’t find it…” He starts looking sad, and Molly and I both realize that he’d been trying to find the rainbow sherbet behind the counter in the tiny, little-league-infested ice cream parlor, when everyone’s tempers were on edge, and he just ordered chocolate because that was the best he saw.

“Alex, I didn’t even look for it because I knew they’d have it. Did you want rainbow sherbet?”

He looks even sadder, and nods his head… and then just breaks down in tears. He was sad in the way that only a little boy can be.

What could we do? We bought a kids cup of rainbow sherbet. Everyone’s day improved. Here he is, double-fisting in the parking lot:


24 04 2012

Quick cross-post: I’ve had a website for more technical content for a while (mostly about my iPad apps). I just wrote a post about life at my new job, Urbanspoon. Or rather, on the advantages of having a job at a big company (though I’m very happy at a small one). If you’re interested, you can read more at

Epic Weekend

22 04 2012

I don’t need to tell people who live here how nice this weekend was. Even certain recent visitors to Seattle would agree that it was a beautiful, sunny, and warm weekend.

Molly & I won’t forget this weekend for a long, long, time. As a delayed birthday present, Molly had arranged for our regular babysitter to watch the kids overnight on Saturday. We decided to spend our night away at the lovely Inn at Langley. We’d been to Langley once, ten years ago, for their annual Murder Mystery weekend, and I’ve always wanted to return. It’s not far from Seattle — maybe an hour and a half, depending on the ferry traffic — but it feels like another planet. It’s a sleepy little town that overflows with art galleries and amazing views over the Saratoga passage to the Cascade mountains.

We were a little late getting out of the house on Saturday. It turns out it takes longer to get a babysitter ready to spend the night than it does to get a babysitter ready to watch the kids for an evening. Plus, it had been an unusually busy Saturday morning, so we didn’t have a lot of time to pack or prepare beforehand. I glanced at the route on Google maps, and it seemed straightforward: Head to the Mukilteo ferry, then follow the signs for Langley. But I didn’t have time to look at the ferry schedule, so when we finally got everything settled with the babysitter we just started driving north and hoped for the best.

It turns out we had amazing ferry karma. We got to the ferry dock at 3:11 and we got to sneak on the 3:15 ferry. What luck! All during the ferry crossing, we were playing a memory game… when was the last time we rode that ferry? We remembered having the kids with us, because we remembered parking in the ferry lot and walking on the nearby beach. (We saw scuba divers getting out of the water!) But where had we been going? Molly thought we’d been heading to visit my college friend Cynthia, but that didn’t make sense. Cynthia lives by the Hood Canal, and you can’t get there from the Mukilteo ferry. We would have taken the Bainbridge ferry when we visited Cynthia.

We still hadn’t solved the mystery when we got to the other side and started driving. After driving about 10 minutes, I started getting really confused. There were no street signs pointing the way to Langley. The street signs I did see made no sense… Port Gamble? I remembered biking through there and I didn’t think it was on Whidbey island. Signs for Bremerton? Why? We came to one fork in the road — we could go West or South, and I had no idea which one would get us to Langley. That’s when we pulled over and consulted the map on my phone. This is what went through my head, with horror, when I saw the data from the phone’s GPS.

Ferry Mistake

Not only were we far from Langley — we weren’t even on the same landmass! Instead of being on Whidbey Island, we were on the Kitsap peninsula. I muttered, “I could have sworn I was supposed to take the Mukilteo ferry! What happened?” It took another minute or two to realize: Yes, I was supposed to take the Mukilteo ferry, but the Mukilteo ferry isn’t the first ferry north of Seattle. It’s the second! Without knowing it, we’d hopped on the Edmonds/Kingston ferry by mistake. (And, incidentally, the last time we’d taken the Edmonds/Kingston ferry was to visit my friend Cynthia over by the Hood Canal, so the mystery was solved once we knew where we were.)

At this point, we had two not-good options. We could turn around, take a ferry back to the mainland, drive to the Mukilteo ferry, and take it to Whidbey. That wasn’t a lot of drive time, but has two unpredictable ferries. Or, we could drive around to Port Townsend and take the Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry over to Whidbey. A much longer drive, but only one ferry. We decided one ferry was better than two (and for what it’s worth, Google Maps agreed that driving to Port Townsend would be marginally faster.)

We got lucky again in Port Townsend. The ferry had just docked and was starting to unload when we got there. Things still could have been bad: The Port Townsend ferry is one of only two in Washington State that take reservations, and we didn’t have one. What saved us is it still isn’t peak season, so we were able to fit on the small boat.

Once we got over to Whidbey, finding Langley was easy. However, the mistake cost us about two hours, so by the time we got to town the shops were closed. Still, the Inn was nice, we had a nice meal, and we were treated to beautiful weather the next morning. Plus, we woke up gently to morning sunlight on the water rather than by hyper kids jumping in the bedroom next door. So in spite of the mishaps, it was still a nice… no, epic weekend.

Saratoga Passage Sunrise


Morning Coffee

Lord of the Flies, Again

16 04 2012

What do they say about history repeating itself?

Remember this from three years ago?

Lord of the Flies

I wrote at the time:

For two days in a row now, Alex has come home with his face covered in magic marker. It looks like war paint.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that for the past two days, one or both of the full-time teachers in Alex’s room have been out sick.
I have a theory that the toddlers sensed the weakness in the regime, realized they had strength in numbers, and took over.

Well, three years later, there’s another substitute teacher, and now we have this:

Patrick, Lord of the Flies

Spring Break

15 04 2012

Dear Commonwealth of Virginia,

Thanks for sending Grandmom and Cousin Shannon to take care of us for spring break! We had lots of fun, especially going to the Bouncy House and getting Bok Choi Boys.

Please send them back again someday! Don’t believe the stories you hear about our manners. And Virginia, please don’t think we are only mischievous when you send somebody to take care of us! Just today, when our parents weren’t looking, one of us (we won’t name names) emptied out a quarter of the dishwashing soap on the floor in different rooms of the house. It was a slippery mess!

Boys in the Market


The Seattle Kids


1 04 2012

Saturday night, we were running late for our monthly food club (a monthly pot luck with six other couples… and now ten little boys and zero little girls amongst us). More specifically, the our food was running late. It had taken me longer than expected to prepare the Leek Bread Pudding from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.

Luckily, our friends Ben & Jenny were hosting, and they live about a half mile from our house. So Molly decided she’d walk over with the boys, and I’d follow behind in the car when the food was ready.

The boys weren’t too keen on the plan. “Why do we have to walk? We want to drive!”

Molly convinced them that they wouldn’t have to walk… instead, they could fly! So they strapped on their superhero capes and ran the whole way…