So Long, 2016

I wrote 14 posts this year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still a blogger.

What can I say? It’s been a hell of a year. A lot of this is known to people; we all heard about the election, and no matter how you feel about the results, it was a big damn deal. We all know about the celebrities who died; Carrie Fisher’s passing hit me particularly hard.

For us, we’ve had a triathlon to train for (Mr. Sandwich) and support (Baguette and me), multiple IEP meetings, changes in leadership at Baguette’s school, lost teeth (the sixth came out this week), family drama that warrants assessment, and lice.

Oh, the lice.

We were supposed to travel to visit my dad and stepmom for Thanksgiving. But I had a bad cold, and based on much prior experience of making that trip sick, we decided not to. As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Because on the day we would have been driving, I discovered that Baguette and I had lice.

We called a service to come over to the house that night and comb all three of us, and scheduled the follow-up for the Monday after the holiday. But as it turned out, we couldn’t wait that long, so we also went to a lice-combing salon on Friday for an additional come-through.

There are, by the way, a lot of businesses providing this service in Los Angeles.

That was our hair; we also commenced on an astonishing amount of laundry, washing and drying on hot things that we often don’t even put in the dryer. We vacuumed and lint-rollered and bagged and froze and did everything we could think of to halt this in its tracks.

It was exhausting. It was not a vacation. It was not a break. But ultimately, we were successful–although we now are completely fixated on checking our heads on a regular (and probably unnecessarily frequent) basis.

We delayed our trip, planning to visit the week after Christmas. And then I got bronchitis. So we didn’t go. But we did have Christmas dinner with Mr. Sandwich’s parents, as planned. That was nice for a bit, and then discretion is the better part of valor, and also of family harmony on Christmas.

Now we are two weeks into Baguette’s three-week winter break from school. In case you were wondering, three weeks is too long. It’s not that I don’t love and value the time with her–it’s that we don’t have any other care for her, which means we have to take more days off from work, and it means that her routine is significantly disrupted in ways that are very difficult for her. And with my bronchitis that first week of the break, we didn’t do a great job of creating a different routine. We’re getting into one now, but that still doesn’t keep us from having rough days.

Long story short? I am ready for a new year. So Happy New Year to all of you!

And know that while I may not be able to stay up the whole time (among other things, Baguette got me up at around 4:00 this morning), I am definitely feeling this:

Happy Halloween, 2016

Baguette has never been that into trick-or-treating. From her perspective, Halloween is when you knock on your neighbor’s door, and they answer it–but then they don’t let you in. What’s the point of that?

It’s always been a struggle. Not because it particularly matters to us whether she wants to, but because we want her to understand what it is, and see if she can find a way to make it fun for herself. There would be a parade at her day care that she had to be wrangled through–the teachers made those costumes–and then in the evening we’d try to get her out into the neighborhood.

Each year, it was harder than you’d think. There was the time she refused to wear layers (shirt and tights were fine, but not the elephant part of the costume). After many tears, she decided to wear all of her Elmo clothing. It worked. The next year, she rejected the costume we’d bought her AND the one from day care, finally settling on my shirt worn backward. The year after that, we laid out every costume and clothing item we could think of, and she chose soccer ball fleece PJs–although once she was done with her abbreviated neighborhood circuit, she added Anna’s ball gown from Frozen.

This year, we looked at the restrictions required by the school and settled on gray leggings, gray t-shirt, and elephant headgear (we bought two headbands with ears and a hat). But yesterday I pointed out that she’d spent the week saying “I am a fire fighter” and “I am a doctor,” following a LOT of viewings of Elmo’s World DVDs. And I remembered that at some point, someone had given her a doctor costume. So I unwrapped it, and she instantly fell in love with the idea. She wore it all afternoon, and tried to sleep in it, and put it back on enthusiastically for this morning’s parade at school.

Small girl in scrubs costume running
Paging Dr. Baguette

She was still wearing it when Mr. Sandwich picked her up, and didn’t take it off until they were in the store looking at fire fighter costumes. They brought one home, but its velcro fasteners proved unacceptable. Out of all of the costumes we’d spread across the couch, which one did she pick?

The elephant-ear headband.

So we headed out with our elephant for trick-or-treating, but it turned out that Baguette had no interest in that–she just wanted to go for a walk around the block.

The whole point is to have fun, and for the first time, Halloween was really fun for her.

I couldn’t be happier.

Summer Recap

I haven’t posted in a while. Or much this year at all. Turns out, life’s exhausting.

Baguette finished TK in June, and we promptly left for a week’s vacation in Santa Barbara. Where I drank a lot of coffee, we went to the zoo manymanymany times, and she lost a tooth! We don’t usually go that early, but it turned out that there was a week-long gap between the end of school and the start of summer camp.

label on coffee dispenser reading "Obama Blend: an optimistic blend of Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaiian"

small girl sitting on small statue of elephant, with a hat on its head

Naturally, she was sick for the first few days of summer camp.

Then, after not-a-week of camp, she started summer school. This was by virtue of a revision to her IEP. In theory, fine. In practice? We weren’t so sure.

The challenge was that summer school only ran until about 12:45. That’s far short of the end of the workday. Neither of us works nearby, and it would be really hard to drop her off mid-day anyhow.

That meant Baguette would need to take the school bus from summer school to camp.

This was not her actual bus.
This was not her actual bus.

We had severe doubts about this. It just didn’t seem like something that would work. She’d never been on a bus of any kind, and she’d never been in a vehicle without one of us or a grandparent (and, let’s face it, that mostly means us).

The first couple of days were rough, as they worked out the details of the route. The ride was too long, and Baguette would arrive at camp screaming and crying. But she never balked at getting on the bus, and we started packing Dr. Seuss books so that she’d have some entertainment.

She decided she loved the bus. She started telling her aide that she wanted to ride the bus, long before it was time to leave for the day.

After four weeks, summer school was over, and it was back to all day at camp. No bus. Baguette was disappointed, but she rallied.

And after another three weeks, it was time to start kindergarten. So here we are, in kindergarten. We’re still trying to figure things out, primarily because there has been a lot of change–new special ed teacher, new principal, new classroom, and more.

Fingers crossed.

School bus photo by dfirecopy, via Flickr. Public domain.

Role-Playing

Princess Anna has left the building.

Small girl in purple cloak walking away

She’s got a sister to catch.

Small girl in purple cloak running

Baguette has been watching Frozen again. She’s quoting a lot and singing more of the songs, she’s wearing costumes based on what is happening on screen, and she’s acting out scenes (mostly the sequence where Anna leaves Arendelle to go after Elsa and gets lost in the snow. I play the role of the horse).

Today, she decided that, like Anna and Elsa, she was going to take her cloak out into the world and have an adventure.

You go, Baguette. That cloak is washable.

My Top 4 July 4ths

Counting up:

4) The year I went to Battery Point to see the Tall Ships. I think I may have spent the day alone, with the exception of the homeless woman for whom I bought breakfast, but it was a really nice day. Hot, mind you. But the ships were worth the heat and humidity.

3) Manhattan rooftop parties. A friend from college and I started out at a party on a balcony overlooking the Roosevelt Island tramway. You know, the one Spider-Man rescues Mary Jane Watson from in the first Tobey Maguire movie. Then we went to an actual rooftop to see fireworks over the East River. The only problem? We couldn’t see the fireworks. Between the humidity and the smoke, there very quickly was no visibility. All we could see was a colorful glow through the fog or smog or vog or whatever it was. Booms and red-glowing mist? It was like watching a psychedelic war zone.

2) Grilling. I lived in Austin, and my parents lived in San Antonio. This particular Fourth, they were on a cruise. So my brother, who was house-sitting, and his best friend decided to have a cookout. I decided to join them, because the air conditioning in my apartment was nominal at best. It was a Thursday, which meant I worked Friday–so I drove down Thursday morning, helped get ready for dinner–the guys grilled everything but the fries–watched area fireworks from the upstairs window, and drove back up to Austin before work the next morning. Nothing had changed about my air conditioning, so that evening I drove back to San Antonio and spent the weekend indoors.

1) Pop goes the question! Mr. Sandwich and I were long-distance for all three years that we dated, with him in Los Angeles and me in New Jersey. There were a lot of plane flights back and forth, which meant a lot of frequent flier miles. I planned a trip out and discovered that I had enough miles for a business class seat–which definitely beat paying for coach. What beat the business class seat? It turned out that this was the weekend Mr. Sandwich had chosen to propose. I inadvertently ruined his plans, I said yes, we went to celebrate with friends, one of my bridesmaids took me to try on wedding gowns at a shop FAR outside my budget, and in the airport on the way back, I realized that all of those wedding magazines now applied to me. Flying business class did not even come close. I really don’t see what could.

multicolored fireworks in midair

Photo by dider.camus. Public Domain.

Spring Break! And Then a Bit More

This is Baguette’s first year in school, which means that we just had her first Spring Break. No, we did not take her to Mazatlan or South Padre Island or the Bahamas.

We went to Mammoth with some friends! There, we got to enjoy the cold weather.

Sled

Village

And we also got to be cozy.

Fireplace

Blanket

But why stop there? Why, indeed. Because this is possible in California–and because Mr. Sandwich had signed up for a half-Ironman triathlon–ten or so days later, we also went to Oceanside and Carlsbad.

Mr. Sandwich drove down early for registration, and Baguette and I took the train. She’s enjoying our train trips.

Train

She also enjoyed the beach, as she always does.

DCIM114SPORT

And we got to cheer on our racer of choice!

DCIM114SPORT

Places to eat in Mammoth

Burgers (amazing patty melt)
CJ’s Grill (splurgy, but some of the best fish and chips I’ve had)
Looney Bean Coffee Coffee!
Shea Schats Bakery (the roast beef sandwich is basically a slab of prime rib with bread and condiments)
Erick Schat’s Bakkery–Bishop (the lemon blueberry shortbread bites are amazing)

Places to eat in Oceanside/Carlsbad
Banana Dang (sweet coffee)
Bobby’s Hideaway Cafe (meatloaf)

Doing What Works, Because It Works

Today, Baguette’s Daisy troop had an outing to a UCLA Gymnastics meet. I’ve been thinking about taking her to see a gymnastics meet, so this seemed like a great opportunity. She’d get to see some of her friends and have a new adventure.

gymnastics meet warmup at Pauley Pavilion, from stands

We made it through the warmup, and Baguette was done. There were two factors.

First, she didn’t want to sit in the stands. She wanted to go down onto the floor with the college teams, because clearly they were doing something active and fun, while she was just sitting there.

Second, apparently now every athletic competition is a concert. My gymnastics viewing is pretty much limited to the Olympics, during which I can hear the equipment flex at moments of impact. But from well up in the stands in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, we got an overwhelming combination of music, announcements, cheers, and more. As we learned later, it was a bit much for the neurotypical girls, too.

So we left our seats and walked around the concourse for a bit, to see if we could cajole her back in once the actual meet got underway. Turns out? We could not.

Fortunately, we had a Plan B: UCLA.

Baguette loves the campus. We’ve taken her there any number of times over the years, and she runs around it like she owns the entire place. She seems to be learning her way around; often, it’s clear that she knows where she wants to go and how to get there, and we just follow her lead.

So we did that. We went up staircases and down walks and through buildings and plazas. We watched the marine layer come in, bringing the fog ever closer from the west, even though the campus itself was still bright and sunny. And after a couple of hours, she asked to go for a ride in the car.

It was a great afternoon. Maybe not the one we expected, but great nonetheless.

It was what worked, and it worked well.

Naming Rights

When we first met Butch and Sundance, they were named Bert and Ernie. Those weren’t their original names–not that anyone is aware of, anyhow–but that’s what the shelter had named them.

They’re fine names. But as far as Baguette is concerned, those names are taken (even if she doesn’t have a lot of time for Ernie).

The dogs were definitely a pair, and they needed names that reflected that. So on our way home from our first time meeting them at the shelter, we started a list. What was on it?

Strunk & White
Romulus & Remus
Butch & Sundance
Briggs & Stratton
Pratt & Whitney
Tango & Cash
Rocky & Apollo
Castor & Pollux
Teddy & Franklin
Standard & Poor
Asterix & Obelix
Traipse & Gallivant
Serenity & Firefly
Jayne & Mal
Spock & Bones
Han & Chewie
Proctor & Gamble
Holmes & Watson
Plunket & Macleane
Flotsam & Jetsam
Felix & Oscar
Troy & Abed
Jake & Elroy
Watson & Crick
Bass & Treble
P.B. & Jay
Currier & Ives
Coulson & Fury
Hell & High Water
Pomp & Circumstance
Funk & Wagnalls
Banner & Stark
Indy & Sallah

I feel like you can tell a lot about us from this list. But the next morning, I woke up thinking about the names Butch and Sundance. They just seemed right.

So when we went back to the shelter a couple of hours later and met the boys again, we tried out the names–and they just seemed to fit. Apparently the dogs felt so, too, because they were learning their names in just a few days.

Also, they take turns keeping watch, just like a couple of outlaws.
Also, they take turns keeping watch, just like a couple of outlaws.

Occurrences Of Late

Mr. Sandwich: I’m developing legal arguments regarding why Ariel’s contract with Ursula isn’t binding.
Me: Because she’s a minor?
Mr. Sandwich: That, and Ursula keeps employing metaphors that Ariel cannot be expected to understand, like “Rake ’em across the coals.”
Me: When Ariel doesn’t know ‘what’s a fire, and why does it–what’s the word–burn’?
Mr. Sandwich: Yes. And she talks about how “if you want to cross a bridge, my sweet, you’ve got to pay the toll.’ Ariel has no bridges in her life.

[pause]

Me: This is based on our extensive knowledge of Law & Order. But have you considered maritime law?
Mr. Sandwich: Good point. After all, my Opa did sign a contract and go to sea at age 12.

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Baguette has two loose teeth. They’re her top front incisors. This will be interesting.

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In the “nothing’s ever easy” category, we’ve just changed Baguette’s aide at school. We thought that having the aide who was with her at day care would be a good transition, and offer some continuity, but it didn’t play out the way we expected. First, it took a month and a half to resolve all of the communication issues between the district and the private agency, so the need for continuity was pretty much gone by the time we were up and running. And then it turned out that there were persistent punctuality issues, and we stopped getting our daily reports (which are kind of important when you have a child who’s not yet able to tell you about her day). The aide had to be out for a week and a half for a family issue (this was valid–we have no issue with the week and a half, just all the rest of the time around it), and that meant we had a sub.

The sub was amazing. As of tomorrow, the sub is the permanent aide. Fingers crossed, and moving forward.

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Baguette has a new iPad Air. The old iPad ran out of memory, and there was really nothing to do about that–just because she hasn’t played with an app for a year doesn’t mean she won’t start again in 10 minutes. And the apps were starting to hang up due to the lack of available memory, so the solution we came up with was a new device.

New to her, anyhow. We went with refurbished. We’re not insane.

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Los Angeles got rain today! I was really hoping for a solid day of rain, and there were a couple of sunny hours in the afternoon, but I’ll take what I can get.