Sunday, May 15, 2016

April 2016

Family Fun
—Gilroy Gardens:
What a great discovery! During Annika’s spring break — the February week is actually “winter break,” whatever that is — R. took a day off and we all went to this family amusement park. It was so, so much fun! There were a couple of mild but rough-riding rollercoasters that Annika loved, and lots of kiddie rides for Lukas, so we ended up staying past closing time, and buying a season pass.
—Daddy to Vegas: Work sent R. to Las Vegas for 48 hours, so the kids and I turned in early the night he was away, and Annika camped in Lukas’s room while I stayed up way too late watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.
—Chuck E Cheese w/Anna & Ella: Also on spring break, the kids wanted to go to Chuck’s and invite friends, choosing the twins to meet us there. Once again, Annika saved up her tickets for next time, and Lukas bought some cruddy thing or other that he was very happy with. :-) Good time all around. 
Annika’s stuff
—Anna & Ella sleepover:
Yet another entry in the Era of the Sleepover! Annika went as primarily Ella’s guest to the twins’ sleepover and had a great time; she never wants to leave when I show up to fetch her, which says a lot to me.
—The school multicultural faire: Annika got a bee in her bonnet to represent Finland at the multicultural faire, so I parachuted into the event already in progress (I didn’t go to a single meeting … whoops), borrowing Finland stuff from the Finnish family that moved to Sunnyvale (the Vaisanens put me in touch with Heli, the mom), making a “national costume” per Annika’s vision (white shirt, white skirt, blue apron made from a pillowcase, burgundy tassels with yarn pom-poms I made myself, braided hair) for the International Fashion Show … and R. and I repped his heritage for three hours with Finn Crisp crackers and butter while Lukas partied at Kidspark. Exhausting.
—Tori’s party at Pump It Up: TBH, Annika didn’t want to go and I wouldn’t have made her; Tori is kind of a bully. But it seemed like not many people were going, so I suggested she go … and since Sydney was going, she agreed. It was the night of the Multicultural Faire, so … yeah that was a long night. But it ended up being fun for her, so we had that going for us. 
Lukas’s stuff
—Steele’s bday party:
Lukas’s friend Steele (I think it’s funny that two of his best friends at school are inanimate objects: Cole [coal] and Steele [steel], heh) had his birthday party at Pump It Up, and of course Lukas was out of his mind with excitement! It’s still such a cute big deal for him to go to his own parties, and not as Annika’s plus-one at her parties. :-)
—The allergy wanes: It’s not an event, just an observation — Lukas seems to be outgrowing his allergy at last! I’ve fed him cheese, he ate regular (homemade) cupcakes with real buttercream icing at Steele’s party without any reaction, he can apparently eat milk chocolate, etc. I’m still not ready to feed him eggs scrambled in butter, but it’s definitely milder, almost to the point of vanishing. YES!!!!

Quotable
—X-ray swing fighters:
Lukas’s take on “X-Wing Fighters” 

March 2016

Family Fun
—The most important movie night:
We finally decided both kids could handle it, and they were both begging for it … so we closed the drapes, covered the entryway, and fired up the movie screen for Star Wars. Wooooooooo!!!!! Both kids loved it, neither were too awfully scared (although I think they missed the burnt skeletons at Aunt Beru & Uncle Owen’s place), and now they want to see all the rest of the movies! Yes!!! A new generation learns the ways of the Force!!!
—Aunt Lesley visits: My sister came out for a few days on her spring break, which included Easter Sunday; she dyed 36 eggs with us, and witnessed the hilarity of our annual egg hunt the morning after the Easter Bunny came. It was great having her here; the kids love their “Aunt Weswey” (Lukas’s rendition). 
—Theo’s party at Happy Hollow: Eleni’s younger brother Theo, who is in kindergarten, loved hanging out with Lukas at our house, so he invited us to his birthday party at Happy Hollow; we all went, including Aunt Lesley. Annika had a blast running around with Sydney — including riding the little roller coaster for the first time, and Lukas spent over an hour in the giant play structure (climbing ropes, big slides, nets, passageways, etc.). 
Lukas Life
—Lukas goes to Little Gym:
That boy needed a place to spend some of his maniac energy, and to do flips and jumps somewhere other than our living room, so I signed him up for Little Gym on Tuesday mornings. He LOVES IT, loves it loves it! Yay! Kid Fearless, that one …
—The Dark Side: Lukas got into some serious behavior issues this month, including 1) sneaking down stairs to steal candy from the pantry in the middle of the night, and lying about it, and 2) wiping poop from his own butt on the living-room furniture. On the plus side, it’s clear that Hershey’s Kisses don’t trigger his milk allergy, but on the other hand: NO. So he lost his treat for two weeks, and his allowance for one, and we have started to lock the pantry at night, among other things. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Action Annika
—Monterey Bay Aquarium field trip:
The second grade went to the MB Aquarium, and she requested specifically that I *not* go with them as chaperone. I am still not sure why, but I am trying to encourage her independence, so I agreed. She had a great time, wasn’t worried or scared at all … so, I guess it was a good call!
—Sleepover at Sydney’s: Speaking of independence, it’s apparently the Era of Sleepovers; she was invited to Sydney’s, and once again had a blast. The only thing I really worry about, now, in re: these parties, is what I always worry about anyway: head lice. Hahahah! [but really] 

February 2016

Tahoe!
We went to Tahoe with the Carneys again on Annika’s spring break, and this time there was a big nasty storm forecast for the Thursday we’d been planning on driving up. So we went up on Wednesday instead, and got a hotel room for the night. The kids handled it well, and woke up to a couple of feet of fresh snow! Woooooo!! We got to the cabin, moved in, got groceries, and the other family arrived late that afternoon while we were out at a snow play area (with sledding, snow tubing, and a big field in which we built forts and furniture). The first full day, we put all the kids in a 3-hour ski lesson and we adults made a couple of runs … just a couple, because nothing was groomed, and we were all afraid of breaking a leg, but it did feel good to do it again after a 10-year hiatus (the last time R. and I went was … 2006?). The kids didn’t love their lesson, but it was still worth doing. The next day we all just hung out in the cabin and played for hours in the backyard — epic snowball fight, making a sled run, flopping down and making snow angels, etc. Then we had to pack up and head home on Sunday, another surprisingly easy drive home after a great trip. Excellent vacation with friends!
Annika’s busy life
—Girl Scout cookie sales:
OK, now this is real. We had to get inventory, make the pitch to customers, get Daddy to take boxes to work (he ended up being the real hero of sales, selling out his inventory nearly every day till the end), and take our turn at booth sales (one outside of the Lucky near us, one at the Safeway farther away). Annika loved booth sales, and I tried to stay out of it, only being the responsible adult presence and letting the girls manage themselves — it worked surprisingly well, and we sold quite a few cookies; the girls did very well against their troop goals.
—Orca ribbon: Annika got her Orca ribbon at last — the shiny black one — and there are now only three levels to go until she, in her own words, “graduates” AVAC’s program. Go, little mermaid!!
—Grace’s birthday: Annika was of course invited to Grace’s birthday party, at Rockin’ Jump, which is just a warehouse with a mess o’ trampolines. She LOVED it, of course, and now wants to go there all the time.
—The Journey of Orthodonture begins: Three appointments this month, the first two for measuring and insertion of spacers, and the final one for the insertion of the expanders (upper and lower), which she’ll wear for four months. Annika took it all like a champ, even though some parts of it were clearly painful. Each time, I took her for ice cream after school to make up for it. I have to turn the key to expand the expanders a little bit every evening for two weeks, which is just … ugh. It makes me feel so bad to do a thing that hurts her, even though it’s for the long-term good. Poor kid — and a little tiny bit poor me! Next appointment is six weeks away. 
Just bein’ social
—Super Bowl Sunday:
We had the Carneys over again, cause last year was a good time — and so was this one! The game was fun, the kids got along, we ate a bunch of crappy food and drank a lot of beer. Murica.
—Lukas’s trio: The Girl Scout troop went ice skating, so I had three little brothers over to our house while the girls were away: Lukas, Eleni’s little brother Theo, and Brianna’s little brother Brandon. Within about three minutes, they were all playing Star Wars, and the afternoon included a ton of popcorn, an hour of dot-painting art, and numerous high-speed laps around the pool. They all had a blast, but by the end I wanted to have a large Scotch and go straight to bed … 

Quotable Kids:
—Powerful Blue Panthers:
The name of Annika’s basketball team at recess. They like to wear blue headbands.
—bazombies: Lukas’s take on the undead
—play Star Wars with me: What he wants everyone to do, all the time.
—windmills = wing fighters: He saw some windmills, and called them “wing fighters,” aka X-Wing Fighters. Heh.
—“What is this world called? Truckee? I think that's because there are lots of trucks there. Little trucks, like Crusher's trucky that he loves.” Lukas making sense of the name of the town we were in on the way to the Tahoe cabin, incorporating Minecraft, observation, and Blaze & The Monster Machines.
—robot dinosaurs: AT-ATs (Star Wars)
—“Why does every single superhero have to stop a train from a broken track?” Keen observation in re: world-saving tasks performed by the superheroes in his picture books. 

January 2016

Family fun
—Senior sauce:
With the grandparents here, R. and I were able to go on the rare grownups-only Sauce night — and once again, the kids barely even noticed we were gone!
—Movie nights: It’s cold, often rainy, and nighttime comes early, so we’ve had quite a few movie nights this month, including screenings of all three Despicable Me movies. The kids are so nuts about those that they can (and do) actually sing the Universal Studios theme song … 
Annika’s things/life/whatnot
—Minecraft:
The pointless wanderings of Minecraft have finally come to our house. Annika is heavily into it, forsaking all else, at least for now … my friends with older kids tell me there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but like six or seven years from now. Oh boy …
—Annika in the kitchen: She’s “helped” me for years, the way very little kids do, but as of this winter, Annika is truly a partner in the kitchen — she did fully half the work for some cookies we made for Sauce, and the Swedish pancakes we made with my new plettar pan, and so on. She can measure anything, pays attention to the right way to do things — I’d let her in there by herself if she wanted!
—Piano lessons: She has started piano lessons, half an hour on Monday afternoons, with a young teacher recommended by the parents of her friends Anna & Ella. The teacher comes to our house and Lukas and I vacate the room, and from what I’m able to hear, she’s making real progress — learning about music and notation generally, besides getting better at the piano specifically. So far, she’s liking it — yay! — and isn’t fighting doing her 15 minutes of practice daily.
—Braces ahoy: We went to her first orthodonture consultation, and their assessment aligns with what her dentist has been saying, so we’re going to start the whole years-long process now. She’ll get spacers in February, then other stuff eventually. She’s adjusted to the idea, which she used to vehemently oppose, because fully half of her classmates are on the same track — it’s no big deal now. Whew.
—Cayli’s sleepover birthday party: She finally went to her first sleepover, which was a birthday party at her friend Cayli’s house. This was ideal, because not only were some of her best friends there, but also, Cayli’s mom is Annika’s teacher (Mrs. Merrell). She had an absolute blast, and now wants a sleepover like every night of the week. Heh.
—Noping on out of there: It’s kind of a bummer, but Annika quit Spy Adventures: Star Wars Edition after two meetings, basically because she's the only girl. I wish that didn’t matter, but she’s at the age that I guess it kind of does.
—Girl Scout cookie rally: We went to the big kickoff for cookie sales, where, among other things, she set her sales goal: 1000 boxes! I like her enthusiasm, but I don’t think I’m gonna buy 995 of ‘em … 
Lukas Life
—The TK/Kinder tour:
I’ve been hearing such universal raves about our school’s TK class that it’s got me considering enrolling Lukas. So R. and I went on one of the tours the school offers, which was pretty impressive — the TK kids have a great classroom, they were all engaged and behaving, and the program sounds like it might be a fit for Lukas. Based on all of that, I’m going to make an enrollment appointment for him, and keep the option open; at this point, I’m about 90% for it. We shall see. 
—Shanaya’s birthday: Lukas was invited to his classmate Shanaya’s birthday party at Pump It Up. He’s an old pro at that place by now, and was SO EXCITED to go! He had a great time, of course, and I got to talk with the other parents, a few of whom are considering sending their kids to TK as well — more information is always good!
—The ubiquitous Iron Man pajamas: You never know, with this kid — one day, he wanted to wear his beloved Iron Man pajamas all day, so I let him (not on a school day, so who cares), and then he did not want to take them off, ever; he changed back into them the second he got home from school, he cried when I had to take them to wash them, he did his Iron Man moves everywhere we went. It was so cute, we indulged him — at least until they got a hole in the knee big enough to put his head through, ha! And then they went back to being home-only clothes.  

Quotable Lukas
—“Mom: I bezent you my DINOSAUR LAND!"
Proudly presenting me with a piece of paper covered with dinosaur stickers.
—“Mick-tunior" His favorite website — aka Nick Jr.
—“Santa Claus Beach Boardwalk” His take on a favorite family destination
—“Mommy and daddy / is a wonderful place to come” A little ditty he sang when he crawled into our bed, several mornings in a row 
—“I won't eat gatoregg. It has egg in it.” On the suggestion that he drink some Gatorade while he had a cold.
“Are you the sweetest boy in the world?""Yes!" “How sweet are you?” "I'm 18 miles sweet!” Quantifying the sweetness. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

December 2015

Christmassy stuff
—Advent calendar treasure hunt:
From the “biting off more than one can chew” department: I bought these cute unpainted wooden advent calendar xmas trees last year on clearance, figuring we’d paint them and I’d put little treats in them for the season. Well … the first part went beautifully, but the second got way out of hand. The boxes for each day were only like 1”x1”, so really nothing but an M&M would’ve fit, so I ended up putting in a clue as to where the treat was hidden. The kids liked the clue-hunt part so much that I somehow found myself making a 4-clue treasure hunt of it every single day. They loved it, it was fun, but … oh man, please tell me I didn’t sign myself up for this as a yearly thing? I’m out of ideas! LOL.
—The tree: We got the tree early this year (well, for us), following the Kiwanis to their new location the first weekend of December. Decorated it the same day, with both kids finally old enough to actually help, instead of the younger one just getting underfoot, heh. As always, it was one of my favorite parts of the season, and the fresh tree smell made it seem like Christmas.
—Lukas’s holiday potluck and musical at preschool: Just like for Thanksgiving, Lukas’s school held a potluck holiday lunch, but this one had a singing performance beforehand; Grandma & Grandpa were already here, so they came along to see it. Lukas’s class, the oldest, went last and made the most sense — he was hilarious and very proud of himself for singing all the words.
—Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Park: This year, the lights were much easier to see — they had a ticketing system, sort of like the FastPass, where you were given a window in which to show up, which minimized waiting. We went on December 26; Grandma & Grandpa got to see it for the first time, and the kids were thrilled all over again.
—1000 cookies: We baked a lot — and Annika is now a full partner in the kitchen, yay! — mostly cookies. The funniest thing was the cream cheese cut-outs; I quadrupled the recipe, thinking that’s what I had done last year, but no … it made so many cookies, we covered the bar top from end to end. Annika and I iced and decorated them, and everyone ate them for more than a week. Hilarious!
—Christmas Eve & Day: After a solid month of build-up, the kids were out of their minds for Christmas to actually be here. We watched Christmas shows, ate dinner early, put out cookies for Santa, and got the kids to bed. The next morning, niiiice and early, the kids got up and Santa had indeed been here! So! many! presents!!! They got to plunder their stockings and eat candy before breakfast, then open a couple of presents, then we had to get the turkey in the oven before getting back to the gifts. Lukas was particularly entertaining, freaking out over pretty much all of his gifts — so much fun! The cousins came over, and there were more presents! The kids got bikes! We had an awesome Christmas dinner! It was nuts, and so, so, so much fun.
Daily life
— Grandma & Grandpa arrive (after a night in the Denver airport):
G&G were supposed to get here on the 15th, but the weather had other ideas, and they ended up spending the night in the Denver airport and catching another flight to SJC the next day. It was pretty hard on them, especially since Grandpa had a cold, but they caught up on sleep that day and were more or less normal within a few days, getting woken up at the crack of dawn by the kids every day as usual …
—Lukas’s room is finally finished! Well, except for getting the doors painted. But he got his big boy bed and a nightstand at last, and with Daddy’s careful painting and the gorgeous moldings, it’s now the nicest room in the whole house.
—The new bikes from Santa: Annika got a bigger bike, since she’s so much taller now than when she got her old one, and Lukas got one with training wheels. We took the first nice post-xmas day and went to the school blacktop. Annika got the hang of hers right away; Lukas entertained himself by stomping on the brakes ever two or three revolutions of the pedals, to the point where R. and I were so exasperated we let him ditch it and ride his scooter instead. Oh well — he’ll change his mind soon enough.
—Holiday Bowling: R. was home for those two weeks, so we were able to go bowling mid afternoon one day while Grandma & Grandpa, both kind of under the weather, took much-needed naps. I wore my new bowling shoes (xmas present!), and the kids managed to not fall apart, so — good times!
—Build-a-Bear: Annika got a gift card for Build-a-Bear for her birthday, so we took Grandma and Lukas and went to put it to use. She immediately selected a sparkly white reindeer named Glisten, while Lukas dithered forever trying to pick something; he ended up not with a bear or animal, but with two blue light sabers ("light savers are the best savers”) meant for the Star-Wars-branded bears to hold — and they actually did light up! The funny thing was that, although they have not seen any of the movies (on grounds of they both say it’s waaaaay too scary), Lukas — making his saber selection — discarded Kylo Ren’s fancy red one for a simple blue one, because “Onwy de bad guys have wed wight savers. De good guys have bwue ones.”
Friends and whatnot
—Family party at the Thomases’:
We were invited to a holiday party at the twins’ house (Anna & Ella), where the kids acted like maniacs and we enjoyed some tasty beverages and food and got to know the parents better.
—Annika’s Brownie tea party: The troop had a little tea party for its last meeting of 2015, and invited the moms. It was so sweet how hard they all worked to set it up and act as waitresses — I could get used to that!
—Billy Beez: Lukas was invited to a party at Billy Beez — a kids’ play space in the mall — which was just nuts (a giant indoor playground with slides, bouncy areas, all kinds of pretend-play toys, etc.), and while we were there, Annika and her friend Sydney went to Raina’s, where they decorated a gingerbread house and played ninjas and whatnot (the three of them are a tight little group these days). 

Quotable
—“Mommy this is SEWIOUS: Santa has two magic eyes that can see whether you're asweep!”
(Lukas, both hands on my face, reporting with great urgency)
—“handkerchip” (Lukas’s interpretation of what Grandpa uses instead of Kleenex)

November 2015

Everyday happenings
—This month, the kids were STILL bunking together
(and Lukas was, frankly, being an a-hole, what with the all-night jumping around, flopping around, bothering Annika, not going to sleep, etc.), until — on his birthday! — the little guy finally moved back into his own (85%-finished) room! Yaaaaaaaaay! He was still sleeping on the futon mattress, but at least, it was on his own floor …
—A brief Yo Gabba Gabba renaissance: Lukas found some old Gabbas on Annika’s phone, and they both started watching them, which led to watching them on TV for like two solid weeks. It was nice while it lasted!
—Annika gets her ears pierced: Years ago, I said she could do it when she was eight … and she remembered! A few of her friends are starting to get their ears pierced, too, so it was time. I did some research, but we ended up going to Claire’s in the mall, where we got ‘em done with the ol’ piercing gun (with one person on each side of her, so it was over quickly). She was a champ up in that chair, picked her earrings out, and squeezed her eyes shut - boom! Pierced! She looks adorable, of course, and loved picking out a bunch of earrings to wear when the 6-week trial period is over. 
Lukas’s birthday
—Pump It Up!:
The Saturday before his actual birthday, we invited his preschool friends, plus Grace and Sean and Lawson & Niamh, and ended up with about 12 kids for his party at Pump It Up (bouncy houses & whatnot). He had an absolute blast, except for when he was told to sit in the birthday throne for the presentation of the Spider-Man cake he chose from Lucky — at that, he wept, thinking he had to sit there the whole time instead of sitting at a table to eat with his friends! Poor kid — once we figured out what was wrong, he went back to having a blast. :-) The next day, same time, we went back for Sean’s party at the same venue; Lukas was pretty wiped out, but the allure of PIU is strong, and he had a great time for the most part (minus a small overtired meltdown or two, heh).
—The glorious 18th: We had a family birthday dinner for the little guy on his actual bday, with his favorite meal (PB!) for him and regular food for us, plus a vegan cake I’d baked and Annika decorated (with red icing, his favorite color). He got a ton of presents, mostly superhero and/or action-based, plus some books and Pixar merch). Hard to believe he’s actually FOUR YEARS OLD!!! Sweet boy, habitual line-stepper — that’s our precious little Lukas-man. 
School days
—Lukas’s school Thanksgiving:
The preschool had a potluck Thanksgiving party, which I went to; it was adorable, with all the kids in either Pilgrim or Indian construction-paper hats. Lukas of course wanted to come home after the party, so we made an early day of it.
—Annika’s first solo field trip: The second grade went to see a play at the Campbell Heritage Theater, and since so many parents want to chaperone, there’s a one-field-trip-per-parent policy; Annika preferred I come on the trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the spring, so I sat this one out. She had a great time; it’s really fun to see her gain independence as she gets older!
—Annika gets into the Titanic: Browsing the shelves at the school library, Annika came across a section on the Titanic, and immediately became almost as fascinated with it as I had been at about her age. She made her favorite of the books the subject of her November book report, and asked me repeatedly to look up pictures on the internet. I did explain that it was a terrible tragedy, and kind of walk her through that part of it — Tragedy 101, I guess? — but I think she’s mainly into the grandeur and the hero/villain narrative, which sounds about right to me.
—Lukas goes to Cole's Pump It Up birthday: I think we started a trend among the preschool set! Back to PIU for another session of bouncing till he can’t bounce no more …
—Dandy Day honors: Annika, it turns out, raised the most money by any individual in the whole school at the walk-a-thon: $1250.00!!! Fully $500 was from Uncle Jake and Aunt Jill, who pledged $10 per lap (she walked 50 laps! hahaha!). Her prize was an iPod Nano, engraved for the occasion, and she was presented it at an assembly in front of the entire TK-K-1st-2nd grades — what a thrill!
Thanksgiving
We woke up Thanksgiving day to a cool frosty morning (there was so much frost on the neighborhood’s roofs that the kids thought it had snowed!) with a crazy full moon still in view. We all watched the Macy Day Parade while the turkey roasted, and everything came together on time for a great Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us. Truly one of our better turkey days — good times all around! 
Social stuff
—The city and P-Town:
We were invited to a first birthday party for Mike & Angie’s daughter Viv, so we made a Saturday of it — first the party, then a leisurely drive down to Pacifica to walk the old neighborhood (it was a gorgeous sunny day, with whales visible not far offshore as we strolled the ocean walk), then an early dinner at Celia’s (with plenty of takeout for the next couple of days). It was fun to see the old places and point them out to the kids; Annika remembered some of it, but of course, Lukas had never been there. Great day!
—Play dates: We had a couple of get-togethers with newish friends: A surprise/impromptu play date at Sydney’s, and a Thanksgiving-week after-school play date at Anna and Ella’s. We’re getting to be better friends with each of these families, and looking forward to getting to know them.

Quotable
—"The Minion Bunch”
(Lukas’s conflation of two new things in his life: the minions, from the Despicable Me movies, and the Brady Bunch, one episode of which we screened for the kids, to much appreciation (the one where “mom always said don’t play ball in the house!”)
—"Let's have a band for the birds!” (Lukas making a happy suggestion, while I practiced bass and he banged around on the keyboard, and a bunch of birds were flying around just outside our window)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

October 2015

Day-to-day
So we got home from Disney, exhausted but so happy with our awesome vacation and all wanting to pretty much go right back again — and found our house (or at least the upstairs) torn to bits for Lukas's room remodel. Unnnngggghhh. The lighting in the hallway looks awesome, and we can tell how great the room is going to look, not to mention the doors that were replaced in the whole upstairs hallway, but there just seems to be so much more to do, and the kids bunking together (Lukas on a futon mattress on Annika’s floor) — much as the two of them like it, giggling away about “fart-butt” and “poopy-head” half the night — it’s ruining R.’s and my lives. They get to sleep later, they wake up earlier, and Lukas absolutely cannot be trusted alone in there with all of Annika’s fascinating, forbidden, breakable toys. Here’s hoping this is finished with a quickness!
Annika’s birthday
—October 9:
Per our family tradition, I had decorated her place at breakfast and had a small present for her to unwrap. It happened to be college shirt day at school, so she wore a Columbia shirt and the birthday crown they gave her at school all day long. This was also her “VIP week” in the classroom, coincidentally, so she got to do a lot of special stuff during the week, which made it extra nice. That night, we had a family party, with a cake I baked and she decorated, and a whole bunch of presents, including the long-desired EZ Bake Oven. Eight is going to be awesome, my sweet girl!
—The fairy party: Per Annika’s heartfelt wishes, we did her friends party at home this year. Here’s how it went: 
16 fairies, with wings
2 little brothers
1 babysitter who was so helpful I should have paid her $500
1 parent who was so helpful I probably embarrassed her with the effusiveness of my thanks
A fairy house painting craft (Pinterest gold!) that was actually rather a success
A cake parade (18 kids marching through the house shouting CAAAAKE! CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE!!!, much like drunken adults at a bar when that "Shots" song comes on)
A fairy dance party (primarily to Taylor Swift's entire 1989 album, purchased online for the occasion, on repeat)
The pin the wand on the fairy game (I forgot both the eye covering -- eventually using a scarf that, well ... I just really hope none of those kids had lice that night -- and the fact that there's supposed to be a prize for the winner)
A fairy egg hunt in the gloaming, which served as the distribution for and stuffing of goodie bags 

R. and I were exhausted, but the party was a hit, and she was thrilled and grateful (oh my heck, one only turns eight once, doesn't one, after all?), and we are NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.

Lukas life
—Big Hero Six:
Lukas has gotten way into the movie Big Hero 6, which he’s only ever seen parts of (at school movie night and at the gym’s kids club) but has a couple of books about. He tells us who we are and what our powers are, he loves pretending to be the character Tadashi (which he renders as “Kendoshidi”). It’s pretty hilarious — and I’m assuming it will make a lot more sense if/when we ever watch the whole movie ourselves.
—Swimming: Lukas earned his “O-Fish-Al” Jellyfish ribbon this month! He was so proud to get it — and now every week he doesn’t get one, he complains about it. Up next: Octopus. 
Annika’s adventures
—The Brownie troop:
This month, her Brownie troop went on its first field trip, to a local pumpkin patch. It’s the first field trip I’ve not gone on with her, because Girl Scouts has some seeeeerious regulations w/r/t who can drive the girls (there’s a training & qualification thing that I haven’t done), and of course Annika handled it like a champ — such cute pics they sent back! Also this month saw the start of a thing I didn’t know existed before: fall sales, which involves nuts, candy, and magazine subscriptions. I got press-ganged into “managing” it, which since I decided more or less unilaterally was going to be online only, wasn’t as big a deal as I had feared; we’ll likely do booth sales next year, but at least for now, we’re easing into it.
—Dandy Day: Holy moly, did she exceed her last year’s performance and this year’s goal! She did 50 laps — which is about ten miles!!! — and thanks to a number of per-lap pledges, earned $1,200 … $500 of which was a super-soaking of good old Uncle Jake and Aunt Jill, who pledged an insane and probably unsustainable-in-the-long-term $10 per lap. She was thrilled with herself and grateful to all her sponsors, and excited to do it again next year.
—Spy Adventures club: The most perfect after-school class of all time landed in the white envelopes, and it could not have been farther up her alley — the Spy Adventures club. Mondays after school, it involves all manner of spycraft and mystery solving, including the building of a periscope and the creating of crazy aliases, etc. She loves it! 
Halloween
The greatest day of the kid year (besides Christmas) was on Saturday this year. Annika was a Pearl Fairy (costume ordered from a place called Chasing Fireflies — $$$ with bad customer service, but the dress was really lovely — with a pearl wand handmade by me) and Lukas was Captain America (which he decided on a month or two prior, and which remained unchanged despite his ever-changing allegiances to various other superheroes and animated characters). The costume parade at school on Friday was hilarious (and a lot longer than last year, due to a lack of the rain that shortened it in 2014). Saturday, we went to our friends the Marshalls house, had dinner, and got costumed up for a great time canvassing their neighborhood; we even ran into Raina and her older sister and did half of the route with them. Both kids got a ton of candy, and as Lukas’s allergies seem to be fading somewhat, he even got to eat some of the chocolate & caramel stuff this year! I even let them have some candy before breakfast on November 1 (which, alas, was the night of the time change … so we were up mighty unnecessarily early, ugh!). They were so cute, trick-or-treating — there wasn’t anything too scary at the houses, and Lukas finally gets it (including the fact that you don’t just barge into the living room, ha!); at one point, he took off his Captain America glove so he could hold hands with “Wawson,” his BFF-whenever-they’re-together. A great night for everyone!

Quotable
— "I'm Batman!"
Lukas, jumping through the bedroom door one night at bedtime, wearing his house slippers and a black eyemask and nothing else
— "Do you think they're brothers?” Lukas re: some ants he’s spotted on the curb at Whole Foods
—“Super unstoppable bagel finger!” Lukas, with a finger stuck through the center hole of a mini bagel