Archive for 2010


Thursday, December 16th, 2010

[flash /images/2010/1012/ronin_plays_ukulele.flv w=400 h=225 f={autostart=false}]

We got this ukulele for Ronin last Christmas. Up until recently her biggest interest was in cranking the tuning knobs. She’s taken to strumming but refuses to let me tune it.

Drawing and Writing

Monday, November 29th, 2010

[Portrait of Punk Rock Girl]

Ronin was impressed when Punk Rock Girl appeared in the Macy’s Parade last week. I asked who it was and she shouted “Punk Rock Girl!” and another little girl yelled “Raggedy Anne!” The looked at each other in confusion.

The parade was a big hit and afterwards we to the Sauvie Island tree farm to get a Chirstmas Tree. Ronin has been busy rearranging the lower ornaments ever since.

Here is an earlier work (April) from when she was just starting to make clearly representational pictures. Can you guess which one is Punk Rock Girl?

She’s also really interested in reading and spelling. Here’s an example of writing her own name. Remarkably only slightly worse than my own penmanship. She finds her lack of hand coordination really frustrating though. She knows what she wants to write but just can’t make the shapes. I showed her how to type words on the computer and she’s really excited about that. She’ll type her own name over and over and asks me to spell things to type out.

We haven’t spent too much time explaining letter sounds but she clearly understands the concept of reading. She can recognize all our names and some other words on sight. I know that there is a long standing controversy about sight reading vs phonics. I learned to sight read and I partially blame this for my inability to spell. However, I think sight reading is a simpler concept. Going from letters to sounds to a word is too many steps for her right now, but it’s pretty easy for her to just memorize a word. Mostly I teach her by pointing to the words as I read. She can answer questions like “Which word is Cat?” Then if I ask how to spell it she can read the letters off the page.

She spends a lot of play time “reading” books to herself. Of course, she isn’t really concentrating on the written words. She just memorizes the story after a couple of repetitions with mom and dad.

Fairy Ballerina

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

When we asked Ronin what she wanted to be for Halloween we got the predictable answer, “Bat Bear!” Although it would have been easy just to go with that, her bat bear outfit has seen a lot of wear over the last year. We had to bring the subject up a few times to get her to commit to a second choice. “A ballet dancer.” She loves to watch ballet on Youtube (Here’s a favorite and she’s recently shown a deep interested in Mother Ginger) and plays ballet dancer a lot. Some sort of tutu was on a list of things she needed anyway. It’s clear that she’ll get a lot of use out of it and we’ve already had a few fights to get it off.

We went by The Kennedy School again to trick-or-treat and see all the other costumes. Then we met up with some other toddlers in a part of town rumored to go all out for Halloween. They weren’t kidding either. The center of it all was a corner house with a couple of hearses out front and an Elvis impersonator on stage. We were through early and it appeared to be just ramping up on our way out.

Ronin loves the candy, of course, but we are mean parents and only allow it on days when she consents to eat reasonably healthy food. When we do let her have some I put a selection on a plate and let her choose one. She makes funny choices. I would have always gone for biggest one, but she often picks out one of the smallest. Maybe she just hasn’t figured out yet that larger package means more of it.

Mount St. Helens

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I wanted to get up to Mount St. Helens this year since it’s the 30th anniversary of the eruption and I haven’t been up there in at least 15. I thought we had missed our chance, but we had a few beautiful days this week so we made the trip.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory was closed for the season and the place was mostly deserted. The wind blasted us with grit as we peeked over the edge and I could barely hold the camera still enough to get a picture. Ronin enjoyed our stories about the mountain exploding, but hated being out in the wind.

[Coldwater Lake]

[Sliver Lake]

On the way out we stopped at Silver Lake to hunt for giant maple leaves and mushrooms. There were many but mostly not the mushrooms we wanted. I did find one large lobster.

Stuff of nightmares

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

This may be an old story to some but I haven’t officially told it here so those of you who do not know what on earth I am talking about, be glad of your opportunity to pass this one up. I kid not; I have traumatized no fewer than every single person who I’ve told about this. I guess it’s my way of dealing with the personal horror: spread it out evenly amongst everyone I know and perhaps I can get on with my life.

*** [LAST CHANCE]***

Okay. Here we go. Once upon a time Ronin had to use the potty. It was week two perhaps of her sudden potty-trained existence and so I hopped-to the moment I hear her say the word. We hustled on into the bathroom, and as I reached for the green turtle seat and lifted the lid ..

There. In the toilet bowl, sitting in the water, LOOKING up at us, was a monster black beady-eyed sewer rat. And it started thrashing around (presumably I scared it.. HA!). I shrieked and recoiled; Ronin was startled, to say the least–her face was even closer to the thing than my own when I lifted the lid. After a few seconds, I regained my senses and threw the lid closed before it could figure out how to jump.

“OKAY! Let’s go pee in the backyard!” I told Ronin, hustling her toward the back door. Ronin is always game for going in the backyard and happily peed on her favorite board.

Once back in the house, I was still shaking with adrenaline. The first thing I did was grab the camera to get a photo. (This is what you would have done, right?) Behold:

It’s big! Can you believe it?

To get that photo, I sloowwly lifted the lid with the lens of the camera until I had it in my view and quick took the picture, slamming the lid back down. Then I flushed the toilet a few times. I gave it another peek and it was just standing there straddling the hole in the bottom while the water rushed around all “Whatevs.” It was clearly not going to go back down the way it came. It began to thrash around again so I put Ronin’s stool on the lid, then one of Joshua’s heavy software books.

Once I was relatively sure it could not escape (not OUT of the toilet certainly), I sprung into action. I fired off a mildly hysterical email to Joshua. Then, I posted my photo to Facebook.

Ronin was very excited and kept nattering on about the rat in the potty: “What is the rat doing in the potty, mama? Is he PEEING?” Periodically, we would hear the rat bustling about, and then at one point, it started squeaking. (GAH!) “I think he is looking for his mama,” said Ronin.

Meanwhile I discussed possible courses of action with alert Facebook friends. Mostly, they just wrote to let me know how hysterical they found the situation, and offered their advice on how to get it out. More unfortunately, I had to pee, and the backyard wasn’t going to cut it. Luckily I had an errand to run so I took Ronin, and left the house.

I didn’t want Joshua to forget about our unwelcome guest, maybe mosey into the bathroom, mind elsewhere, flip up the lid.. Here’s what I left for him:

[ps – Note I still hadn’t cleaned out Ronin’s hairbrush. Our bathroom is a regular gallery of horrors.]

When I got home, Joshua was home, and the rat was taken care of. Joshua whipped the toilet lid up and popped a large Nancy’s yogurt container over the thing before it had a chance to react. Then he slid the lid under, duct taped it up, and then we drove it to a nice sun-dappled place in the forest where there was a bounty of glistening sewers for it to make a new home. No, not really. I hate to say it but that sewer rat came up the wrong damned pipe.

So, yeah. Rats coming up into your toilet through the sewer = NONFICTION. Sewers are almost never flooded with water and so they act as a bustling rat super-highway. Apparently, if you have less than five feet of vertical pipe leading up to your toilet, it’s possible for a rat to scale the pipe, then all he has to do is swim the little boop-a-dooer vapor-lock deely and PRESTO! Surprise for you!

I’ll wait while you climb down into your basement right now with your tape measure to just check up on that.


It’s been a month or so and Ronin still talks about the rat. “I’m going to flush down the poop and the pee for the rat to eat mama, okay?” Yeah, kid; you do that. I’m just happy that she wasn’t traumatized out of being potty-trained; she seems to not have been affected at all.

Not me though. I have a hard time peeing in the night. Actually, I flash the light on/off super fast to just get a glimpse of the bowl and be sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me. It practically gives me a seizure to do it but the thought that another rat could have found its way up our pipes again and I SAT ON IT makes my brain quiver.

And then I stumble back into my warm bed, calmed, secure. And with the sight of that empty clean toilet bowl permanently burned into my eyeballs.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell