Friday, June 15, 2018

May 2018

All-Around Annika
—The 4th/5th grade music performance:
Annika’s class and the 5th grade had their spring performance together on the blacktop, six or eight songs with Mr. V’s usual patter (like, to the word), and although she was kind of embarrassed, she looked lovely and the show was fun as usual. :-)
—School talent show: This year’s talent show saw a reunion from two years ago: Annika and Raina back together again! They performed “Happy,” in emoji shirts and yellow sparkly tutus, a dance of their own creation — and it was so good! They looked thrilled to be up there — fun for all of us to watch.
—Annika’s Skip Day: Undoubtedly the highlight of her month was the day she used her Skip School Day (part of her birthday present). She chose a Friday, and had a whole agenda planned: Boulevard for breakfast, Fish Market for lunch, Old Navy and Target in the morning, and a few other things. We had a great time together, just wandering around and not bein’ at school. Best birthday present ever! 
Lukas Life
—Gymnastics:
The kid is driving us nuts with the in-home parkour and whatnot, so I got him into a free trial at ATA Gymnastics (where his classmate Samantha had her birthday party). He. LOVED. iT. He’s the only boy in a group of five or six kids, and he still is the most energetic person in the place — I hope they can get him to listen and learn, but in the meantime, his hourlong lessons are the best part of his week.
—Screen free week(s): So. He broke the iPad mini, basically trying to parkour with it and record himself doing so, and then he lied about it (said he didn’t know when or how it happened), so he got a screen-free week. And then we had a bad bad terrible couple of days (the culmination of several weeks of bad behavior, while R. was at the condo 14 hours a day painting it every weekend), and he lost screens for another week … and I gotta say, it wasn’t the worst thing. It was expensive (we bought a lot of Legos, went to Color Me Mine, etc.), but his behavior really improved, and he did so much creative stuff (drawing, play-doh, etc.) — I wouldn't mind a few more screen-free weeks, actually!
—Kinder open house: They split the grades up, which is nice for us, and we went to the Kinder open house as a family. Lukas was so proud to show us all his work, it was so sweet. :-)
—May the Fourth, aka Star Wars Day: On May 4, the school had a special free dress day, where the kids (and teachers) could wear Star Wars merch/costumes. Annika, of course, was Uninterested, but Lukas wore his favorite T-shirt and had to be persuaded not to bring one of his lightsabers, lol. 
Family Fun
—Visit to Lendlers:
It was our turn to make the trek up north, since we hadn’t seen our Marin friends in awhile. Kusum made my faaaaaaavrit dinner, and we hung around on their back patio, drinking champagne and letting the kids do whatever — a good day for all of us!
—Mother’s Day: The next day was Mother’s Day, and it was another epic one for me! The kids and R. let me sleep in, then read the entire New York Times, and brought me flowers and breakfast in bed (homemade waffles! yeah! and coffee). The rest of the day was fun too — Annika and I planted a bunch of wildflowers, R. made dinner — just a great, chill, family hang. Perfect!
—Epic weekend: We don’t like to … do stuff on weekends. Like, maybe we’ll do one Thing. But the weekend of the 18 - 12 was packed full: The talent show on Friday night, then at 6:30 the next morning, Annika’s (and my) Girls on the Run 5k in Vasona Park. Then at 10:00 a.m., the world premiere of Kevin Carney’s movie that he and his brother and friends shot in high school, at a theater in Redwood City. That evening, R. and I went to dinner at Plumed Horse for his birthday. The next morning at 6:00 a.m. (hooooooooooo boy), I took Annika to school to meet up with her Girl Scout troop for their special trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they got a behind the scenes tour and fed a bunch of the fish. By late that afternoon, we were all DONE … but yeah, it was all fun.
—Art Vista Show: This year’s Art Vista show was a loud, wild cluster as usual, but the kids had some great pieces in it and they were really proud of their work.
—Mike’s 50th Birthday Sauce: No rest in May, we Sauce again! This time we did a two-nighter because that’s how Sauce rolls on milestone birthdays. We couldn’t think of any good gifts, until the last couple of days — when I got the idea to get T-shirts made with an old pic of Mike on them and the word “MAALGAARD” underneath, plus a set of whiskey glasses etched with MAALGAARD and some wooden coasters wood burned with the “little man” image that was a Sauce joke nearly a decade ago (coasters and glasses courtesy of my friend Fiona). He loved, loved, LOVED it — RAWK!
—R.’s bday: A milestone, but not a big one — 45! We had caaaaake (the kids and I picked one up, since with all the Things we’ve been doing, there wasn’t time to bake!), and Indian food delivered, and lots of awesome presents (mostly practical / band-related this time, plus of course booze). 
Memorial Day weekend
This was an unusual one — normally, it’s the first pool weekend of the year, but the weather was mighty uncooperative (cool and overcast Saturday and Sunday, until finally heating up and making it worth summarizing the deck and pool on Monday). Aunt Amy and Uncle Paul went away for the weekend, so the cousins “visited”, from Friday afternoon to about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Monday night, we watched what Lukas called “crimson dynamite” — actually Napoleon Dynamite, lol. So a weird but good MDW after all!

Quotable:
—Lukas “presentation” of Hand Hand Fingers Thumb: “anchor chips” (handkerchief), “snake hand, snake hand, snake snake snake”
—Lukas, discussing single-player vs. multi-player modes in MarioKart w/his teen cousins: “So, you’re versing the computer?”

April 2018

School Days and Other Craziness
—Kindergarten Spring Tea:
Lukas’s class held a fancy-dress Spring Tea, which was mostly for them but the parents were welcome, so I stopped by to eat a cupcake and get cute pics of Lukas and his friends out at the outdoor picnic tables. They were all so psyched at the treats and the break in the routine, and it was sweet to see them in their dressy clothes.
—Various Panics: Two moments of genuine alarm this month. The first, and showier one, was our ER visit for a sliced finger — Lukas, of course. He’s been watching a lot of ninja warrior type animated shows, which maybe is where he got the idea to take one of my sharpest carving knives out of the block while I was in the dining room and, I later learned, “find out if it was sharp.” It was. He tried to hide it by going upstairs and getting a band-aid, but quickly realized a band-aid was no match for the blood and came back downstairs to show me. Gaaaaah! We ran it under water, wrapped it in paper towels, dropped Annika off at her sleepover (at Raina’s), and went to urgent care, where they eventually just glued it closed. This KID, I swear. The other incident was the full-on lice panic; the day after we got home from our trip to Carmel (see below), Fiona called to say that both her kids were riddled with lice and we’d better check ourselves. I went straight to nuclear mode, piling the kids in the car and heading to a professional lice removal clinic in Sunnyvale … where they found not a single bug or nit, despite the fact that the kids had slept in the same beds as their friends and sat with their heads literally together while watching movies on an iPad. It was a miracle, and not a small one …
—Spring things: 1) Lukas had his spring school pictures taken with a fresh layer green hair dye, which of course was ridiculously cute on this little turkey-leg of a kid. 2) We enjoyed the multicultural faire again, but we weren’t official representatives of anything; we just subbed in for the actual Finns while they went to watch their older daughter’s dance performance on stage, and of course made the rounds ourselves to eat around the world and see the dancers we knew (Raina’s group was our favorite). 3) Raina's birthday party was a sleepover, again one of the absolute highlights of her social year.
—Annika’s band concert: The Friday before spring break, Annika’s school band had a short concert. She was SO! EXCITED! for it, but of course nervous; what a thrill to see her up there performing, and doing so well! She even agreed that it would be a fun thing to do again, so we may find a teacher for flute lessons so she’ll be even better next time. 
Spring Break
The break started with a bang this time — we took a screen break one afternoon, went out for a nature walk in the park at the end of our street, and ended up with some great, up-close sightings: a white crane just chilling in the road on the way there; a red-tailed hawk way down low, then perched on a rock just ten feet away; and a coyote, who got within 20 feet of us and didn’t seem at all afraid. Epic nature day.
—Spontaneous trip to Carmel with the Marshalls: Niamh and Lawson’s paternal grandparents own three (3) beach houses in Carmel, so Fiona invited us down to stay midweek (the invitation was for 2 nights, but we had to get back for a sleepover that was already planned). The weather was fabulous, the beach houses were insaaaaaaane (we had our own, right next to theirs), the kids wore themselves out running on the beach with the Marshalls’ dogs, and we even got a visit from Mr. Dinh, Molly, and Maisie!
—Gilroy Gardens: R. took a day off work to go with the fam to Gilroy Gardens, and we took Raina with us as a guest with our memberships. Then, we hadn’t been there for ten minutes until we ran into Ami, who was there soloing with Manir and Amira! So the ragtag bunch of us combed the place every direction, not missing a thing and having a great time. 
Easter & Aunt Lesley’s visit
Aunt Lesley showed up the day before Easter (on a flight that got rather dramatically late and sent me to the airport at 1:30 in the a.m., lol). We dyed 18 eggs; Sunday morning, the Easter Bunny had made his or her visit and the egg hunt lasted quite a long time. That week, did a condo picnic: we took sandwiches out to the grandparents’ new condo for R., who was prepping, priming and painting, and all ate out on the deck. We also had a movie night (“Sing!”, which we all really really liked) and did various other fun stuff.

Quotable
— “I’m not a doctor in training! I’ve been doing this for ... twelve years!” (Lukas, re: animal care at Annika’s self-purchased American Girl doll veterinary clinic)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

March 2018

All-Around Annika
—GOTR starts:
Against her mighty protests, I signed Annika up for Girls on the Run, a program for girls in 3rd-5th grades, where they learned empowering lessons and trained for the 5K that’s at the end of the program. It’s twice a week for 8 weeks, and her only complaint at first was that “there’s a lot of talking and not much running.”
—Raina sleepover: Annika and her BFF Raina are spending more and more time together doing their own thing, so every few weeks, it’s either our turn or theirs to host the girls. We love Raina!
—Girl Scouts Filoli Gardens outing: Annika’s troop chose to go on a guided “tulip walk” at the Filoli Gardens, an all-day sucker that she really, really enjoyed (despite not knowing much about it in advance, lol). Got some great photos of the girls and the gardens, flowers, and mansion.
—Gold Rush Day: Fourth grade at our school means Gold Rush Day in the spring, where the kids dress up as 49ers-era kids and do frontier activities like using a washboard to wash clothes, panning for gold, eating beans for lunch, and stopping by the saloon (where I, in prairie dress including a hoop skirt, was a blackjack dealer, heh!). Annika had a lovely custom-made blue calico dress and bonnet (bought from a seller on Etsy, as I’m no good with a sewing machine), and looked absolutely adorable in the square dancing and everywhere else.
—Annika ends swim class: She was one ribbon away from completing all the levels, and since they’d told us her technique was perfect and she lacked only the speed they wanted her to have, we were at the point of just letting her quit … when one of the teachers called her a “snail” in class, upset her terribly, and gave me Mom Rage like you would not believe. We pulled her out that very day, and none of us are the least bit sorry. 
Lukas Life
—Aiden's bday party:
Lukas’s classmate Aiden had his 6th birthday party at the fishbowl (bowling alley inside Bass Pro Shop, heh), and the kid did his usual “bowling savant” routine where he just chucks the ball and it mysteriously, miraculously rolls slowly down the lane and knocks over a random and improbably large number of pins, and then he dances his victory dance.
—Skateboarding lessons: The lessons started at the end of January, but Lukas’s first skateboarding road rash happened this month, and it was a doozy — two huge, adult-palm-sized scrapes on his lower back and hip, which took weeks to heal completely. He was upset at first, but both the coach and the two of us assured him it was part of the sport and meant he was doing it right — taking the risks and taking the lumps. 
St. Patrick's Day
The biggest event of March was the usual silly fun: Lukas claimed several actual FOR REAL leprechaun sightings (and worked really hard on his leprechaun trap to try to catch one at school), the yearly collection of leprechaun gold at school; etc. Annika was sick with a fever and puking on Friday the 16th, so she was worried about not getting to collect her share, but not to worry — just on the way to walk Lukas to class, she got a couple handfuls. Then, we did Sauce Patrick's Day at the Sauce Compound, where the luck was with us all — a fun time, even in a house with cats that got an allergic reaction out of poor Lukas! 

Quotable
—“toy-koise”
: Lukas’s interpretation of “turquoise” 

February 2018

Family Fun
—The Super Bowl:
Per longstanding tradition, we had the Carneys over for the Super Bowl, during which I managed to not know which teams were playing until the game started, and a good time was had by all.
—The Winter Olympics: We watched SO! MUCH! Olympics! It was awesome. The kids are finally old enough to watch for more than a few minutes at a time, and to marvel at the various kinds of sporting excellence (even if they didn’t quite have the stamina that we had. Lukas was in fine form with his interpretations of country names, sport words, etc. (e.g. “Slovenia” became, in his parlance, “Snowbabya”), and Annika asked some really insightful questions. We all loved figure skating and the killer downhill sports, and rooted for Finland in the sports where no Americans were important. 
—Spring Break Tahoe trip: Per another tradition, we went to Tahoe with the Carneys for a few days. Got a new house this time, as the other one we’ve used is now off the rental market, and this one was good — we had fresh snow and decent weather, good food and relaxing times with friends, and didn’t bother with organized snow sports. One of these days I’m gonna do cross-country skiing, but not this trip!
Lukas, Annika, and Friends
—Lukas engaged x2:
A little girl named Mia, from another Kindergarten class, has become enamored of Lukas, despite the fact that he’s already promised to marry his classmate Kylie. We’ll let them figure it out later, heh.
—Lukas, the star of the week: This month, Lukas finally got to be Star of the Week, and spent a decent amount of time on his “all about me” poster, which he did 100% by himself (there are a fair amount of kids whose parents clearly do the poster for them, which seems unsportsmanlike to me but whatever). He loved getting to be line leader, and do his sharing, and all the other SotW perks.
—Annika & daddy dinner out: Rather than crowd into the Daddy-Daughter Dance, R. and Annika went out to dinner at her favorite place, the Fish Market, and she tried Linguini with Clams for the first time — which is now her favorite dish!
—Grace sleepover bday party: Grace is usually the only girl at Annika’s parties who’s not a Los Alamitos kid, and Annika had a chance to be the only one from another school at Grace’s party. She had a great time, and as always, wanted to stay longer.
—Annika’s class field trip to San Juan Bautista Mission: Fourth grade is the California history year, and her class went to the mission at San Juan Bautista. She loved it, and came back full of facts and whatnot, but before the trip, when he heard it described, Lukas asked: ”You’re going on a real mission? Do you get to wear spy gear and stuff?"

Quotable
— "Today is Valentine's 1st"
(as opposed to Feb. 1, according to Lukas)
— Lukas on pirates: “No, you don’t wanna be on an island with pirates! They’ll slice you and dice you!”
“portal potty” (aka port-a-potty)
— Kids arguing over whether cats have 9 lives. Lukas: “Boys and girls have one extra life: Boys become ghosts and girls become angels. Have you ever heard of a ghost cat? No, because they have 9 lives.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

January 2018

Family Fun
—My birthday:
The festivities this year started the night before, with dinner at the Plumed Horse for R. and I — which was awesome, but meant I reeeeeally needed to sleep in on Saturday, heh. The kids made me adorable homemade birthday gifts, and from the grownups I got things like Stone Roses merch and Scotch — a very good birthday indeed!
—MLK Sauce: Our first Sauce since June — so we made it a two-nighter, even though we are all old, setting up Saturday and staying till Monday of the holiday weekend. It was a great one, despite the fact that Lukas had an allergic reaction to their cats and needed Benadryl and then had to more or less hide in Mason’s room the whole time … heh. Kids love Sauce for the relaxed rules and increased screen time, yay!
—Burns Night: We were invited to a family party at Annika’s friend Alana’s, featuring Scotch and haggis and all that good stuff, in honor of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. We all had a good time (and finally there were people there that we knew besides the hosts!), and it wasn’t even all that hard to do my Girl Scout volunteering the next morning … (two hours packing SUVs with Trefoils at the cookie distribution center). 
Lukas Life
—Lukas loses a second tooth:
He’s got a mouthful of wiggly ones, and this time, he lost a tooth at school! I was sick, so my friend Ami brought the kids home, and it was of course the first thing he wanted to show me when he got home. Tooth Fairy tonight!
—Skateboarding: Thanks most likely in part to Lawson having done it last year, Lukas wanted to take after-school skateboarding lessons; the first session was a rainout, but on the last day of the month, he got to bust out his (Annika’s) board and his new set of pads and get started. He said he’s gonna learn "a kick flip, grinding, and grabs.”,),
—DanTDM manifests again: Lukas has discovered the apparently infinite stores of videos of DanTDM playing various games — Minecraft, Roblox, a thousand variations — and doing various “challenges” (e.g. “try not to laugh” challenges). R.’s and my opinions of these … would not have made the dude rich, but it’s the kids who love him, so … 
Action Annika
—Baby teethpocalypse:
At the kids’ regular checkup, the dentist told us that she had eight baby teeth that were mere shells sitting on top of already-emerged permanent teeth. So we scheduled an “extraction,” which was basically (per the dentist) “flicking” the shells out; she didn’t want to do it, but A)it didn’t hurt, and B) she got to skip school and swimming, plus absolutely cleaning up in Tooth Fairy gold coins, so altogether not too bad an experience. 
—Annika starts band: Another thing we almost missed doing: A local music school formed a band at the kids’ school, for grades 3-5, with practice before school 3x/wk. Friends of hers decided to do it, and we happened to have a flute available (Cousin Alyna recently upgraded her instrument, and loaned us her “starter” one), so she agreed she’d like to try it — and she has really enjoyed it! Practices without  being told! Wants to keep going with it! So we’ll see — but for now, it’s been lots of fun.
—4th grade musical performance: Once again, back to Castillero for the six-song EP (heh) performance! Annika seemed to be having a fine time, while Lukas and Lawson played with slime and ignored the stage entirely. 
—Girl Scout Cookie sales: As I mentioned, it’s cookie season, and our troop got lucky with a whole bunch of booths in the first week. Annika and I were out there the first day (Monday) and the third (Wednesday), which discharges our booth requirements for the session; she was really great with customers this year,! Meanwhile, P2P sales have been brisk, so it’s all been relatively painless … ;-) 

Quotable
Lukas, on Land of the Lost and other Sid & Marty Krofft entertainments R. put them up to watching: “We watched a really bad show about dinosaurs, and then a show by the same guys that had a rotten sea monster named sidmond.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

December 2017

Christmas!
The biggest event of the entire kid year, and it’s basically all month long! We started with the advent calendar(s) and the advent treasure hunt on December 1. That first weekend, we went to get a tree; slim pickings out there, but we found one we all liked at the second lot we tried, and brought it home, spending what’s maybe my own favorite afternoon of the year decorating it. Even Lukas is old enough now to hang the ornaments, so it was all the more fun. School was basically camp for the last week or so (including Pajama Day, on which I’m assuming very little work gets done by anyone), and the kids were super excited to be the first to put presents under the tree (both homemade and things they bought from the “Penguin Patch” gift shop at school, with their own money). We all loaded up in the Highlander and went to Fantasy of Lights, a perennial favorite. A couple of days before Christmas, we had family movie night and watched A Christmas Story — which finally, FINALLY the kids are as into as we are; the entire rest of the break, they would recite lines from it, re-enact bits of it, fall to pieces laughing at scenes they remembered … Christmas Eve, we baked cookies, snuck off to wrap last-minute presents, hung stockings, and put out treats for Santa & the reindeer, then off to bed (after a bedtime reading of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, of course). Christmas morning, the kids woke early but not awfully so … and Santa had been here!!!! The pile of presents extended well into the living room, and it was all we could do to hold the kids to a couple of presents and the contents of their stockings until R. and I could get the turkey into the oven. But when we did dive into the pile … hoo boy: a giant pile of Harry-Potter-themed pillows, some gorgeous stuffed animals, 1500 wooden dominoes (to set up and knock down), a baseball glove and a guitar for Lukas, these crazy little Cozmo robots for both kids, cameras for both kids, a cool metal jewelry-making kit for Annika, a two-wheeled scooter for Lukas, books, games, puzzles, a fox hoodie for Annika — these kids made out like bandits! The cousins came over for a little while, late in the afternoon; meanwhile, Lukas had come down with a fever that ended up spiking pretty high (103) and lasting for six days, poor thing. But all in all, it was a really really nice Christmas for the whole family. 
Kid Stuff
—Quitting karate (for now?):
Just as quickly as it arrived, the karate train has apparently left the station. Annika stopped first — just flat refused to go anymore, for reasons we don’t understand because she won’t tell us, and then Lukas. We are annoyed and baffled and suspect that at least on her part, it’s about screen time and the fear of being unable to break a board, but she stonewalled us and he doesn’t really care all that much. So for now, at least, we’re allowing our pre-paid term to expire mid-month and that’ll be that for awhile.
—Grandma & Grandpa arrive: The grandparents showed up mid-month, for what might be their last long visit on account of with any luck, their condo will be finished and ready to move into before the next trip!
—Girl Scout stuff: The Scouts were active this month, with a trip to a food bank to deliver their troop’s donations and get a behind-the-scenes tour, and of course the Christmas party at the troop leader’s house, where I helped the girls make ornaments and decorate cookies.
New Year’s Eve
We had a pretty quiet NYE at home — just us and the TV — and Annika had Raina over for a sleepover (long-planned and basically the reason we didn’t do a NYE Sauce, lol). Grandma & Grandpa stayed up through East Coast NYE, then went to bed; we made Lukas go to bed around then, but promised to get him up for the ball drop (which we did). There were noisemakers, those little exploding poppers, homemade crowns for the kids (Annika’s doing, of course), and sparkling beverages (cider for kids, Schramsberg for the grown-ups). Here’s to a great 2018!

Quotable
—“Hey, kid!”
and “I can’t put my arms down!” — both kids all the time, post ACS

Saturday, January 20, 2018

November 2017

Lukas is Six!
Our boy Lukas turned six this month! The big day was on a Saturday, so we had his party at Pump It Up in the morning — tons of little maniacs running around, caroming off the inflatables, screaming — and then in the afternoon, made him the chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate glaze that has now become the family go-to for birthdays and special occasions generally (although the dinner we had, hilariously, was pasta for three, and a PB for one — his birthday, his choice! LOL). He made out like a bandit, present-wise — stuffed animals, marbles, Star Wars shirts, transformers, Legos, Captain Underpants books [sigh], etc. Hard to believe he wasn’t even born when we moved into this house, and now he’s a half-grown tasmanian devil in the form of the sweetest boy in the wide world. 
All-Around Annika
—Girl Scouts: This month, the big event with GS was her troop’s hike to the top of Mt. Umunhum, which is a place you can see from everywhere around here but not that many people have ever been to (including me). She really enjoyed it, even though she has started to say she wants to quit GS …
—iPad time: Annika’s been saving for over a year to buy herself her own iPad mini, and this was the month she finally had enough $$ to do it. R. ordered it to get his discount, and threw in a cover and the AppleCare insurance. We made it clear that the family rules about when and how it is used still apply, and that we would always know its password, and so far, she’s been conscientious about that. She’s very proud of herself for reaching her goal, and so are we.
—Fun outing: Her BFF Raina won the teacher raffle for Mr. Dinh’s class at Dandy Day, which was a trip to a restaurant in the mall with Mr. Dinh and a friend for an item called a “Pizzookie” — a cookie the size of a pizza, with ice cream and stuff on top. Raina invited Annika as her plus-one, and they went on a Friday afternoon to get their treat. 
Lukas Life
—Lukas loses his first tooth! The Tooth Fairy made her first visit for Lukas this month. He lost one of his bottom front teeth, which had been wiggly for weeks — so exciting! He was thrilled, of course, and very surprised that though there was a tiny little bit of blood, it didn’t hurt. In the morning, the tooth was gone, and three shiny gold dollar coins had taken its place — pure magic! He looked extra adorable in all his birthday pics, with the little gap where the tooth used to be …
—Birthday party month: Since Lukas was in TK and all those kids have their birthdays in October and November, we had a flurry of parties to attend, including: Brayden’s, at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl (a bowling alley and bar, with an undersea theme, inside Bass Pro Shops); Samantha’s, at a gymnastics school (Lukas had an absolute blast at this one!); and Dylan M.’s (at Cucina Bambini, a cooking school for kids, where they made their own pizzas and ice cream treats).
—The TK/Kinder musical performance: On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, the TK/Kinder classes performed a half-dozen songs in the cafeteria (the same ones from last year). Coincidentally, Lukas’s class were Pilgrims again; he was so flippin’ cute in his little Pilgrim hat and collar!!! And he knew all the songs already, so this was all showmanship … heh. 
Family Time
—Parent-Teacher Conference week: We managed to get both conferences on the same day, one right after the other, so we put the kids on their iPads and got ‘er done. Mr. Dinh, of course, had high praise for Annika academically (she scored in the 99th percentile on a statewide verbal/English assessment and 97th percentile on the math portion, yay!), and mostly socially, with the minor exception of her extreme anxiety around being wrong or being challenged by him or (especially) by peers, which manifests in tears and lashing-out (with which we are already familiar; we just have to keep working on her developing the skills to handle those situations). Mrs. Goldman said Lukas was one of the best readers in his class, knows all the sight words and more, and is doing great with the math skills (again, one of the top kids); it was not news to us that he occasionally is an ungovernable little turkey in class (my phrasing, not hers, lol).
—More painting: We went back to Color Me Mine on Veteran’s Day, since the kids were out of school. Lukas painted an Iron Man head in a variety of fun colors, and Annika painted a set of four coasters, each with a completely unique design. I made a mug for R.’s xmas present that said “I don’t have to outlast Dunder Mifflin. I just have to outlast you.”
—We got a house for Grandma & Grandpa! This month, we actually closed on the condo in the Villages — a 2/1, 913 sq. ft., in need of a total remodel but definitely priced to allow it. The first step to moving them out here! Wooooo!!!!
Thanksgiving
This was the most chill, pleasant Thanksgiving in recent memory — everyone was for the most part calm, happy and mellow; we were able to watch the entirety of the Macy Day Parade without incident, the turkey was FABULOUS, all the sides came out great, Annika made a rich & wonderful dessert almost entirely by herself (chocolate pots, from a Jamie Oliver recipe), everyone ate (even Mister PB had a full plate that he ate … some of), and we had time for a family movie night (Despicable Me 3) before bedtime. Exactly what we all needed! 

Quotable
Annika's response to a crossword clue: "Noah's ___” … ”Bagels?”