Monday, December 8, 2014

Captain Domestic's Monthly Reprieve

Like most families in the last few remaining weekends before the holidays, we spent our Saturday shopping.

The day began with Mimi and Kuri waking up normal time, which meant both Sumie and I had to be up as well. At what age do kids learn the concept of sleeping in on weekends?
After gymnastics and Kuri's morning nap, we headed to the east bay to buy bedding (Sumie's entire family will be staying with us over the holidays) and to take our yearly family pictures - this time with the grandparents.

The sale on bedding was fantastic, but the scheduling at the picture studio was abysmal.  Though we had an appointment, there was still over an hour wait. "We're running on baby time" was the explanation. To me, that's a creative way of saying "We overbooked so you'd have to stay here and shop."  Despite the wait and the hungry kids, the pictures came out well, thanks to a photographer who is far better at getting my kids to cheer up than I am.

Here's a shot of Kuri and Mimi.  Kuri, of course, has his ever-present burp-cloth in hand.
And here's Kuri all on his own. He's smiling, but note the droopy eyelashes at the corners of his eyes. Tears had been streaming down just a few second before. I wish I could turn my day around so quickly.
And lastly, here's Mimi.  She was all smiles. Kuri, however, despite his tears, wanted to be a part of each picture.  Note the little red arm creeping in from the left!
As a man who embodies the antithesis of being photogenic, Mimi's comfort in front of the camera amazes me. Here she is at Old Navy. I think she was the highlight of the display.
After photos it was time to eat. On the way to the restaurant, Mimi snatched Sumie's phone and began taking pictures.  Here's a shot of Mama...
an action shot of Kuri in his car seat...
...and Mimi's greatest work: Self Portrait Number 27.
She goes through film like a real photographer.  I later deleted 87 photos from the phone.

After dinner we had one last stop to make. Mimi and Kuri, despite the late hour, handled themselves wonderfully.  I was a proud papa.
The long day ended with a bath for Kuri...
...and a quick trip to bed for both children and parents alike.  Sunday was to be another busy day, but only Papa had to wake up early.

As a result of the past few years, starting with my year long stint as a stay-at-home dad, I've acquired the moniker of "Captain Domestic."  I cook, fold laundry, handle the finances, take the kids out on my own on call weeks, change diapers, wake everyone up in the morning and tuck them in at night. If that weren't enough, I work in education, designing learning materials for kids.  Yes, I think I've earned my title.

Still, there are times when this domestic gentleman needs to cut his apron strings and rejoin the ranks of the hairy chested and grunting species to which he belongs. As readers of this blog may have guessed, I'm not a typical guy's guy.  I'm not into sports, I'm not a gym rat, and I don't play poker.  I do, however, love - nay, adore - cars.

On the first Sunday of every month, there's is a "Cars and Coffee" gathering a few miles away from my home. It's chance for locals to take out their classic, unique, or tuned cars and commune with like minded souls. 8:00am is a bit early for me on a Sunday, but having missed the last one, I had to make it.  I'd hoped to bring Mimi with me, but (sadly?) she was till asleep when I left.

I arrived about 8:15, a little late but still part of the early crowd.
These are very informal events, but every time there are some astounding cars. My humble little 911sc Targa was flanked by a beautiful Ferarri f355 spyder (one of my favorites) on the right...
and by an even more beautiful Ferrari coupe on the left.
As usual, Porsches were well represented. I drooled over a 1989 factory Turbo Slantnose...
...and a gorgeous 356 cabriolet (perhaps my favorite Porsche).
My little car wasn't even the stand-out white Porsche. That honor was taken by this beautiful Carrera RS tribute.
Though my little 911 is very humble, thankfully, showing off is not what these events are about. They're simply a chance to talk shop and to share a love of cars. People show up with six-figure garage queens to tuned Subarus to work-in progress Datsun wagons and BMW 2002s. And that's what makes it so special. There's no real criteria for the car you bring other than that you think it special and want to share it with others. Like many other cars there, my car isn't perfect (far from it), but that's somewhat a reflection of it being well-loved. You can't really bond with a perfect car on the road. You'll always be too afraid of what might happen. Similarly, you won't be able to discuss the innumerable improvements you have yet to do with other car nuts!
Perhaps it's wrong to start at such an early age, but I've been attempting to instill a love of cars in Kuri. Each morning, after I pick Kuri up from his restful night's sleep, we head over to the "Plaque of Emblems" on the wall by his crib. This was created by my grandfather for my father when he was a boy, and hung in my room when I was young as well. It's a collection of emblems that were prizes in Wheaties boxes in the 1950s.  Kuri already has his favorites.  He particularly likes Ferrari, Bentley, and Jaguar. I cannot argue with him there.
Over the past 30+ years, I've seen examples of almost all these marques in the flesh, but one had still escaped me. I'd never seen an Allard.  Well, this Sunday, just two spaces down from my own little car, I saw my first.
As the years go by, I'm looking forward to bringing Mimi and Kuri along with me. It might not fully rub off on them, but I'd love them there beside me.  Even if it makes me a little more domestic during man-time.

P.S. Many thanks to Paige Gaines for the photos of the cars (including mine) I "borrowed" for this post.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cards, Cranes, and Dangerous Toast

This last week was a call week, so I was heading up child development as Mama worked in the hospital tending to those less fortunate, especially those unlucky enough to spend Thanksgiving day away from their families.

A while back Mimi and Kuri celebrated their Mama's birthday.  Papa ran around securing cards and cakes during the day so that all would be prepared for Mama's arrival.  As soon as Sumie returned home with the kids, I ushered her into the bedroom and took the kids to write their cards.  Kuri even managed to get some ink on the page, though his favorite thing was to mash the card up as much as he could.
Mama was very pleased with the special treat.
Rather than going out (which can be more stressful with these two kids than cooking a full meal at home) I attempted to prepare something special for the birthday meal.  I bought two cracked crabs, shelled the meat, and warmed it up in butter.  I then tossed it with fresh pasta, onions, and mushrooms sauteed in white wine, butter, and truffle oil.  Thankfully, Sumie approved.
After dinner, Sumie attempted to blow out the candles on her cake, but Mimi, as usual, beat her to it.
The following weekend found Sumie at work, so I took the kids to the open session at the gymnastics center on Sunday.  Even Kuri got into the fun, doing his best to climb up the angled mats...
...and sharing the foam stars that were being flung about the room by his older sister.
When it's just me and the kids at home, Mimi usually confronts me with two options: 1. play with me, or 2. let me watch TV.   We don't allow much screen time, so I'm usually roped into some kind of shenanigans by my 4 year old.  Here is a shot of her "you're-going-to-do-something-with-me-or-I'll-make-you-suffer-in-ways-you-cannot-begin-to-imagine" face.
One of the best things we do together (and also one of the messiest) is to play with Legos.  Mimi's almost old enough for standard Lego, but with Kuri around, we just have the Duplo out.  That's still enough for now, though.  Together, Mimi and I made a crane, a train, a plane, and a robot.  I decided to name the robot "Wayne" so that he'd rhyme.
Kuri got into the fun, too.  I think he likes taking things apart best.   He loves the way his arms fling out frenetically to the side when two pieces finally separate.
With Kuri now 1 year old, we're beginning to see just how different little boys and little girls are.  In many ways, Kuri is somewhat easier to handle than Mimi, but he also has his own agonizing little quirks.  Like most boys, he's very adept and finding, and insisting upon, the most dangerous way of doing anything.  Here he is eating toast, which he'd only submit to if he was also holding a fork, with the tines pointed at his face.  No matter what utensil is on the table, Kuri will always make a beeline for the sharpest and pointiest.  Case in point, while writing this very post he was looking at me with a butter knife held against his neck.  Had there been a steak knife on the table, I'm sure he would've used it instead.
Every time I'm out with these two on my own, I learn something new.  For instance, I am now fairly sure that a love of BBQ is not transmitted genetically.  Here we are at the Pork House, with Mimi refusing to eat and Kuri attempting to see just how far back he needs to lean to have his high chair fall over.
I also learned, on this outing, that some things are well nigh impossible when juggling two children. Immediately after our food arrived, Mimi declared that she needed to go pee.  Unfortunately, I did not have a stroller or a Baby Bjorn with me.  Once inside the bathroom, I quickly learned how to hold a 4 year old in one arm over a toilet seat while balancing a toddler in the other.  The trick is hold the toddler sideways.  Well, at least it was for me.

This, however, was not the most challenging bathroom gymnastics undertaken.  I also had to go. Mimi could stand on her own, which was nice, so all I had to do was hold Kuri.  Easy stuff.  I took care of my business and then realized that I'd forgotten something: it is virtually impossible to button jeans while holding a toddler. Somehow, 5 minutes later, we were able to leave the bathroom without the toddler having been set down and with my jeans in place.  I still don't quite know what I did to make this happen, but I do think I worked off some of my meal in the process.

As we get closer to the holiday season, I'm looking forward to more time with these three and the rest of the family.  I am sure many small, but memorable adventures await. I'll just be sure to have a Baby Bjorn with me to face them.