Saturday, September 26, 2015

August 2015

First day of Second Grade!
We got the letter on the Monday before the Wednesday start date: Annika was assigned to Mrs. Merrell’s class! It was exactly what she’d hoped for, and although a lot of her friends were scattered to different classes, she was thrilled to have her friend Raina in the same class (and as we found out the first day, actually at her same table — yay!). She said she was nervous, beforehand, which she really hadn’t been the previous two years, but it turned out fine, and I was pretty pleased with her classmates (I like the ones whose moms I am friends with, ha!). We were on time this year, unlike before — who knows how we managed that! — and got her established in the room before she told us to scram. Heh. Afterward, I let her skip swimming just this once and took her and Lukas to get ice cream in Willow Glen. All in all, a good first day, and hopefully a very good year ahead. 
Preschool happenings
—After a few happy months in Miss Penny’s 2-3 year olds class, Lukas was moved to Ms. Mita's classroom (the 3-4 year old class). He liked it OK, but resisted tracing letters, because he wanted to play — too bad the older you get, the harder the work! Heh. 
Fun times
—The Monterey “Baquarium”: On one of Annika’s last free days before school started, we went down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we all had a blast once again — there’s never a bum day at what Lukas calls the “baquarium.”
—Annika "texting" Vilma: Missing her friend, and looking forward to the day when she’s old enough to text (which she has decided is when she’s ten), Annika built herself a new cardboard iPad and for several days, carried it around with her, “texting” constantly, laughing at Vilma’s replies, and showing it to me so I could join in the fun. I’m saying it again: I don’t think we actually need to buy electronics for that kid; the ones she makes are plenty good enough!
—The Incredibly Social Weekend: We usually need a week’s recovery time between guests, but it just worked out calendar-wise that we had our friends Mike and Angie and their baby and their dog on a Friday night (swimming, grilling, chilling) and the Carneys on Saturday night (same deal). The kids loved having both a baby, and a large, chill, old dog around, and of course Grace and Sean are some of their most favorite playmates, so this was pretty much their favorite weekend of the whole month.
—Back to Sharks Ice: Annika’s friend Olive had her birthday party at Sharks Ice, and BOY, was it a nightmare to get Annika to go — she was freaking out that everyone would be better at skating than her, and she’d have to use the buckets, etc. (and I mean FREAKING OUT, crying and screaming for HOURS). But at a certain point, R. and I decided, forget this — she’s going. She’s got to get over this freakout, and the only way out is through. So I took her, and she verbally abused me throughout the drive, our arrival, the pizza, the putting on of skates … and then got out on the ice and had an absolute BLAST. She and Cayli did a lap of the end zone with the buckets, then ditched them and headed out into the rink, where they stayed until they got called back in for cake and presents. Amazing. 
Aunt Lesley visits
My sister came to visit for a week, and we did all the usual family stuff plus a couple of outings:
—Bowling bowling bowling: A random thought on Aunt Lesley’s part, we just packed up the kids after school and took them bowling. They had SO MUCH fun, hoisting and tossing those 6-pound rocks (usually with a cringe-inducing thud about 8 inches from the foul line)! The kids used bumpers, which these lanes put up for individual bowlers instead of for the entire group, so the adults roll without them. Anyway, it was so awesome that we went the next day with Daddy, and bought everyone discounted passes that let us play up to three games per day, including shoe rental, until September 7 - whaaaaaaaat? So we went twice more with Aunt Lesley, and then a half dozen times with just me and the kids or the four of us once she went back to NYC. Got our money’s worth, and rediscovered our old favorite pastime that we can now do with the kids — yay!
—Chuck E Cheese: Another semi-random outing, because the kids are always up for Chuck’s, and Lesley hadn’t been in years. We played an amazing amount of skeeball, Operation, and “kids basketball” (Lukas’s favorite game), among other things, and earned enough tickets to buy a good prize for each kid. 

—Lukas, playing with an empty Spider-Man Pez dispenser I bought him at Lucky: [Excitedly:] “Spider man, can you catch dat bad guy?” [Gruff, flat:]“No. I'm a Pez."
“recordion” — Lukas’s take on “accordion”
—Lukas w/ small metal play cooking pot on his head: "I'm a pot head!”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

July 2015

Fun times
—The Glorious Fourth:
We were back from Hawaii in plenty of time for our traditional Fourth of July activities (mainly swimming and grilling). We went to the Montevideo neighborhood parade in the morning, which was … extremely short. Like, 3 floats and a Scout troop short. Eh, well, the kids got candy, so they were happy! Then that night, we walked over to the lake park at dusk to watch the fireworks — it was a really great show, much longer than last year’s, and we all really dug it (except for Lukas’s terrified screaming at the loudness, right at the start — eep! — but he got over it and watched the rest of the show from Daddy’s arms, so it was OK in the end).
—Kent and Kylie and Sky and the wedding weekend and the Sauce weekend: Our old friend Kevin’s wedding was July 11, way up in the Berkeley hills, and our dear friends Kent & Kylie and their son Skyler made the drive out from Kansas to be there. They spent the night with us before we grownups headed off for the overnight in the East Bay (with Aunt Amy attending all three of the kids at our house). We had an awesome time, and a great (if hungover) drive back down, and the kids got along like a house afire — ate what they wanted, had hours and hours of screen time, etc., with Sky sleeping on a futon mattress in Annika’s room. Then the Smiths went off on a round of camping, sightseeing, friend-seeing, etc., meeting back up with us that Friday at the Sauce Compound for an epic Sauce weekend — the whole band was back together! The kids once again had a great time, mainly playing Club Penguin and swimming and stuff, we all went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Saturday, we rocked both nights … and by the end of it, we were all worn out but exhaustedly happy. Now Skyler wants to schedule a monthly FaceTime date with Annika, to keep in touch!
Shimmer and Shine: Just when you thought you’d seen the worst show, along comes this one, about two genies … and the kids both LOVE IT SO MUCH. Oi.
—Hiking playdates: TBH, I made a whole lot of plans with friends just to keep Annika socially engaged now that Vilma has gone back to Finland (see below) — so we went to these cool Japanese gardens with Brianna’s family and Mrs. Casey (will I ever be able to call her Jayli? I may not, though I like her so, so much and think she could be a friend!) & her oldest daughter, and to Quicksilver Park with Sydney’s family & Ezra’s mom, and a couple of other things here and there. Also I like to meet up with the families where I like the mom, so … ;-) 

—The last days of Vilma:
Poor kid, her best friend in the world just moved halfway across it. Vilma and her family left for Finland on the 16th, and in the weeks before that, we made every possible swimming playdate and meetup that we could, including a day where she and Vaatu came over alone while Anu tried to finish packing up. It was actually pretty great — the four kids played together really well, and I snapped a few pics of them eating homemade popsicles and painting at the craft table and such. Annika was prone to finishing trains of thought with “And I’ll never see Vilma again [tragical face].” I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese on the day the Vaisanens actually left, basically to distract them, and while we had fun in the moment, the exit from Chuck’s was one of the worst stereophonic meltdowns I’ve ever seen my kids have. I was fireman-carrying both of them out of the place. So … stressed and upset, a little. Yeah. I do hope we can visit Finland sometime — they are good friends, and I’d hate for this to be the last we ever see of them. But: Bon voyage, Vaisanen family, and best of luck to you all!
—The Summer of Fairies: Annika got into reading an apparently infinite series of books called “Rainbow Magic Fairies,” in which these two girls, Rachel and Kirsty, have various adventures in fairyland with the multitudinous fairies whose domain is this, that, and the other area of human life (e.g. chocolate, Christmas stockings, fashion shows, the color blue, etc.). They’re cute and harmless and among the few books that are of the reading level she needs but with content that’s OK for a seven-year-old (although it’s introduced some phrasing in her vocabulary like “This is going to be a disaster!”, LOL). She built a mall out of boxes in the movie room — Tippington Fountains Shopping Center (a location frequented in the books), with a half-dozen shops & merch and whatnot, it’s amazing — and allowed herself to be talked out of bunk beds only by the purchase and installation of a fairy-lit, purple tulle fairy canopy over her existing bed. Also she wants her birthday party to be a fairy theme. So … we are very into fairies up in this joint. :-)
—A swimming breakthrough: Annoyed and bummed by the lack of a ribbon in recent months, Annika asked me to sign her up for AVAC’s “intensive” lessons, which is a week of lessons every day — and by granny, on Wednesday of her week, she earned her Marlin ribbon and is now working on the Orca! They’re learning breaststroke and some other fairly complicated stuff (teachers say Orca level is the hardest); she’s part mermaid, so I’m sure she’ll earn this one too.

Lukas has entered the “why” phase, in which every single question — and there are lots of questions — turns into a rundown back to the most basic and elemental things. You can answer the opening Qs, the easy lobs, but then as the interrogation goes from something like “Which crayon is your favorite?” to “What is blue?” and “Why are there colors?” … you find yourself out of answers. He also has many theories as to why (on any given topic), which are as entertaining as they are educational.
—Party time: Lukas was invited to his classmate Alex's birthday party, held at the Almaden Lake Park. He was excited to have gotten his very own invitation! We went, and it was fine, but sizzling in the un-shaded sunlight of a Saturday morning on the SURFACE OF THE SUN. He even ate a real cupcake — the kind of petroleum-byproduct item you get at Lucky — without any ill effects, and said thanks for inviting me/I had a nice time without much prompting. 

—Annika to Lukas:
"You look like an old person when you tuck your shirt in!" (To me, confidentially & knowingly: "Old people do that.”
—In the mornings, Lukas has me cover him in the dots blanket (blanket dots) in the crib, then tells me he's going to "crack out" of it
—Lukas, confidently buying Annika a post-swim-lesson cookie at AVAC: "My sister wants a chocolate chip cookie!"

June 2015

It’s so cool / in my pool
It finally got warm enough to start using the pool a lot in June, so in the first two weeks, we had a Vilma & Alana & families end-of-school pool playdate, the first family pool weekend, and a pool playdate with the neighbors (Janeen and sons Greyson and Anders). I’m finally figuring out how to do it right, w/r/t timing, towels, a pitcher of water & some glasses outside, etc. And with Lukas in a floaty suit, I don’t have to hold him in my arms the entire time he’s in the water — yay! Often, after a long hot day, I’d get the kids in the pool in the late afternoon (sometimes after their dinner); the shadow of the house shades the pool at that hour, so no sunscreen is necessary, and not only does the water calm both of them down, but also, in this drought, it suffices for a bath/shower. 
Family game night ahoy
For no real reason, I decided we needed classic editions of Clue and Monopoly, so we got them, and took a chance on playing Monopoly as a family … and it actually worked! Even Lukas held his own, although he more or less always thought it was his turn, and Annika became incensed anytime anyone else gained money or property … lol. Of course it takes forever, so we quit after an hour or so and came back to it another day, and left it set up on the dining table for weeks (until we had houseguests and had to take it down so we could feed them properly). Feels like the start of a new era! 
Annika’s world
—The last week of school:
School runs into June here, and this last week was really pretty sad for us — Annika hated the thought of not being in Mrs. Casey’s class anymore, plus knowing Vilma won’t be there next year … :-(  There were actual tears the last day. First time I’ve ever seen (or done) anything like that!
—Camp Mom: Annika decided she didn’t want to do any camps this year — in her words, she wanted to “take a break” — so we scheduled nothing, but made a list of fun and/or educational things to do (e.g. go to Chuck E Cheese, get a library card, learn to tie her own shoes, have a picnic, work in the 3rd grade notebook, bake, etc.), and started in on them right away. Of course she played a lot of Club Penguin, but it was pretty well balanced with the other stuff — and she is hugely proud of having her own library card. Takes it very, very seriously; borrows all the Rainbow Magic Fairies books (there are apparently three million titles); always remembers to get a book or two for Lukas. So cute!
—The Last Dance Recital: Annika still insists she doesn’t want to do dance this next year, which means 2015 is her last recital. She loved her costume, she loved only doing ballet (no tap), and she really enjoyed being onstage (and Lukas LOVED the show — I mean it, I doubt there’s a dance parent in the whole audience who was more into it). But when it was over, she was as firm in her convictions as ever, so I guess that’s where we’ll leave it for now. 
Lukas Land
—Potty trained??:
The kid had been keeping dry during the day and overnight (mostly) so we made the leap (hoping not to have to take diapers with us to Hawaii) — and it’s early yet, but it looks like we may have VICTORY!!! Woooooooooooo!!!!
—Lukas’s first invited party: He’s used to being dragged along to Annika’s parties and playdates, or included as her plus-one, but this month, Lukas got his first very own party invitation: to our young neighbor Anders’s superhero party! He did great, and wore the party-favor superhero mask for three solid days (most of the kids took theirs off within about 15 minutes).
—Swimming: Lukas finally earned his first ribbon at AVAC! He’s not quite as achievement-oriented as Annika, but BOY was he proud of himself for getting his O-Fish-al Jellyfish ribbon. A big day for the little swimmer! 
Blue Hawaiian
The big event of the month — nay, the whole summer! — was our almost-two-week trip to “our place” in Hawaii (the condos near Waikoloa, on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island). This time, we didn’t muck it up with long drives or Hilo or luaus or any of that stuff — we stuck extremely close to home, packing a cooler, having breakfast on the lanai, and hitting the beach club early every single day of our stay — which made for a very mellow, actually-at-times-relaxing vacation. Highlights included:
—Lukas learns to swim for real: Maybe it was the buoyancy of the ocean, or the amount of time we spent in the water, or all those months of swim lessons, but he finally really got it, and spent all his time either playing “chase race” with me or swimming in a triangle between me, R., and Annika.
—Annika and Daddy snorkeling: Those two booked some serious time in their snorkel gear, going way out past the rocks, even seeing a shark just past the reef! Annika continued to work on her (excellent) free-diving in the channels, and is excited to learn scuba or snuba as soon as she’s allowed.
—Annika and I doing water sports: I rented a SUP board one day, took it for a lap or two, then picked up Annika as my passenger and paddled us around the bay. It was awesome!! Another day, I rented a two-seater kayak, and we paddled together almost as far out as she and R. go snorkeling — a really fun change of pace for us both, and I was extra glad to be in such good shape (that stuff is hard work!).
—Lukas in restaurants: Parents of the Year, here, we let Lukas have his favorite meal every time we went to a restaurant … and by the end, he was ordering "French fries, ketchup, and water” like a pro. Ha! 

The Quotable Lukas
—“Hey Mr Chivers - I'm wearin underwear!”
Imparting important facts to our contractor, who had come to check on the progress of the new downstairs shower.
—Annika, seeing Lukas with hands behind his back: “Hey Lukas, whatcha got there?” Lukas: “My CROTCH!” he roars as he jumps 180 degrees, pointing to his butt and collapsing in giggles.
—“honeypickle" = Popsicle
—“I was SO gone!" What he told his teacher, Miss Penny, re: having been on vacation

Thursday, June 11, 2015

May 2015

—Mother’s Day: Annika was the main instigator of the plans for Mother’s Day, drafting R. as necessary, including: Buying a waffle iron to make waffles for me (they were delicious!), making me several little crafty adorable presents, and buying a flowering plant in a pretty blue flowerpot. I got to sleep in, too! Yay for Mother’s Day!
—Daddy’s birthday: Homemade brownies with ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce, presents, family dinner, cards — we celebrated old Daddy Dad’s birthday in style. 
Grandparents visit
Grandma & Grandpa flew out for a springtime visit, our Christmas gift to them (and sort of a do-over for that particular visit, ugh), arriving in time to allow R. and I to go to a Senior Sauce (aka kid-free) and also, the next weekend, to go to the Plumed Horse in Saratoga and stay overnight in a hotel (a birthday gift from me to R.). The kids, as usual, forgot we existed as soon as G&G got here, and the four of them spent many quality hours together, just enjoying each other’s company. Grandma even escorted Annika to her classmate Alanna’s pool party, just about a block from our house, and came home with more information about Alanna’s family than I’d gathered in a year of knowing the family — that’s Grandma! 
School happenings
—Art Show: Annika had two pieces in the school’s Art Vistas showcase, so we all went to the evening show. She was really proud of her work, and it was neat to see what the other grades had been up to as well.
—School open house: Grandpa stayed home sick, but the rest of us piled into the car and went to the school open house. Grandma got to meet Annika’s teacher, the fabulous Mrs. Casey, and we were all taken through the list of “things to see” by our tourguide, Annika, in order and at a regimented pace (that’s our girl!). It was pretty amazing to see how much they got done, and how she’s improved from what we already thought was a high level of work. Lukas, up past his bedtime, was a butthead, except for the brief moments when he was lounging on the beanbags in the classroom’s reading nook, like he owned the place …
Playdates with new playmates: I haven’t said it this way exactly, but with Vilma moving back to Finland, Annika needs to diversify her friendships — so I was very glad to help arrange a few new-ish friend playdates: one with her buddy Raina (which went very, very well — she’s a great kid), and one with Brianna, who mostly pals around with a couple of other girls but is fun and cool and I like her mom, so it’s nice for me too. :-)
—Girl Scouts party: At Annika’s desperately-pleaded request, I have signed her up with a Girl Scouts troop for this fall. The rest of them have been meeting all spring (Annika already had piano and dance on the meeting days), but invited Annika and the other girl who had a time conflict to their end-of-year party at Brianna’s. It was fun and a good chance for her to get to know them a little better, although she gave me grief on the way home (as is her wont) about how come she hadn’t been meeting with them all along and how she didn’t feel like part of the group yet (see above re: conflict.) Oi.

Annika's mystery rash, Lukas’s HFM: Antibiotics killed Annika's mystery rash (see April 2015) right away. But then, Lukas sprouted similar bumps on his feet and wrists; we treated it with antibiotics (though his strep test ended up coming back negative), before we found out the neighbor kid with whom he’d recently had a playdate had Hand, Foot and Mouth disease — which we concluded was what he had, instead of the same thing Annika had had. Gaaaaaaah! Anyway, they both got over their ailments, and all is now well.

Quotable Kids
—Lukas, in re: killing a fly: “I gotta get something very very sticky, and very very very smashy!”
—Lukas’s version of the middle bit of the ABC song: "A K K K LMNOP"
—Lukas in his crib one morning, to me: "I'm turning into a dinosaur! [spins] Raaaaaaaawr! I'm turning back into a precious sweet boy! [spins other direction, whispering 'Magic powers!’]"
—Lukas asking the important questions: “Does Thor play with toys when he's tired of banging his hammer?"
—Annika, officiously, to all of us, clipboard in hand: “Take this survey. Survey: What's your favorite animal: fox, wolf, cheetah, or cat?” R. and I choose from the list. Lukas’s answer: “Ghost.”
“Sauerkrap” = Lukas’s rendition of sauerkraut

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

April 2015

Spring break
Annika’s spring break happened to coincide with Daddy’s trip to Las Vegas for work, so it was mostly me soloing with both kids, and we did all right, I’d say! Highlights included:
—Chuck E Cheese: Both kids LOVED this place, and honestly, I’m not sure there’s more fun to be had for $20 worth of tokens. Really fun time!
—The tea party restaurant: One day while Lukas was at school, Annika and I went to this tea place in the Pruneyard for a very girly outing together. We ate tons of those little cinnamony cookies with lemon curd, I let her put all the sugar cubes in my tea, and we nibbled little bitty sandwiches like fancy ladies. A new tradition!
—The Children’s Discovery Museum: Glad we had free passes to this one … it was fun, but 60% of the place was under construction, so there wasn’t that much to do, and we bailed early to eat “breakfast for lunch” at a diner near home. 
—Sharks Ice: Another girls-only outing, for a little ice skating while Lukas was in school. Annika’s skills have really picked up!
—Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: An excellent day on our new season passes, full of rides and junk food and no meltdowns! This one we did after Daddy got back, of course, heh. Annika made a friend, a little girl who was there with her aunt, and rode a bunch of rides with her while Lukas did the baby belugas ride like seventeen times. 
Lukas’s school days
The little guy is still doing great with preschool (well, when he goes, which is only about 70% of the time, considering he’s gotten every illness in Northern California in his short tenure there). He still loves Gymsters, on Mondays, although he has quit basketball for reasons undecipherable. He's always excited when he has a school day, and his smile when I come to get him is just the best. 
Annika’s wild life
—Party time:
This month, she went to Alana’s birthday party at Pump It Up, then a couple of weeks later, to Petroglyph for Raina's party.
—The mystery rash: One Thursday night, she said her knees were itchy, and by the next evening, her knees and elbows were like cauliflower with painful hive-like bumps. We went to a doctor on Saturday, who had nothing of value to tell us, and then to a dermatologist the next Wednesday, who at least gave us a cream that seemed marginally effective, but by that time she had a 101.5 fever and had thrown up in the car, plus the welts had spread over her thighs and ankles, so she was out for the rest of the school week. The next Monday afternoon, her own doctor took a strep swab, which came back positive, so it looks like that might have been the mystery ailment — here’s hoping!
—School singing performance: The first grade had a short concert at Castillero Middle School one evening, so the whole family went to see it. Annika did beautifully, and even Lukas loved it (I took video of him copying the arm gestures of one of the songs — hilarious!).
—Club Penguin: Annika got obsessed with this one kids’ online game called Club Penguin. It’s incomprehensible to R. and I — we can’t tell what is the object or why you would care — but she really does love it, and after a month of playing the free version and racking up “coins,” she made a very considered and thorough pitch to be allowed to become a member ($19.99 for 3 months) so she could upgrade her igloo (?), wardrobe, and music library with all those coins she’d saved. So far, so good, although — seriously — WTF is this game? and why god why? Oh well … 

—“If I close my eyes, you can't see me.”
—Lukas, on invisibility
— “I got a machievement sticker!” — Lukas, on the 90-day sticker he won on the toothbrushing timer app.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

March 2015

Lukas starts preschool
The marquee event of the month was Lukas starting preschool. He was thrilled and excited to be going to “school like Annika,” and had his specially-chosen Spider-Man water bottle and lunch box (aka “wunchbocky,” his goofy term for lunchbox). He liked it a lot, and made friends quickly — they all greet him in the morning (“Hi, Lukas! Lukas is here!!”), and by the end of the month he had started naming some of the kids he would play with that day. Sometimes he’s a little clingy when I’m trying to leave, but it hasn’t been too bad. He LOVES Gymsters, which is on Mondays, and is really proud of the little art projects he’s produced. Of course, preschools being basically huge vats of germs, he got sick right away — he spent the first weekend after he started, all pukey and feverish, and missed a day, and as soon as he was better from that, he got a feverish cough and general yuck that turned into pneumonia (mild, treatable, but kept him out of school for a week). Poor kid — but he got better quickly, and here’s hoping he doesn’t pick up something else! In the meantime, the new era has begun, and it seems to be working really well for him.  
Annika’s amblings
Their school does a voluntary science fair each spring, and Annika announced right away that she wanted to do it, and even had a project in mind: Finding out what liquid would clean a penny the best. So we filled out the forms, got a trifold board, followed the scientific method, and got it done nearly two weeks early. She drove the whole thing, btw — I provided logistical support and materials, with the occasional assist from R., but this really was Annika’s from start to finish. We were so proud of her! At one point, she declared rapturously, "I LOVE Science-O-Rama!” Heh. Anyway, so the night of the event, we went to school, and she had to answer questions from a judge about her project by herself (we parents all had to wait outside as the judges roamed around the cafeteria interviewing the kids); she knocked it outta the park! 
—Wildflower Run: Our plan to do the Wildflower Run together — me doing the 5K and her doing the kids’ 2K — hit a snag when I broke my toe (the right pinkie) the weekend before. I was ready to bag the whole trip, but Annika really really wanted to do it and earn her medal, so R. stayed home with a sick Lukas and she and I road-tripped to Morgan Hill ourselves. She ran the first two and a half laps without stopping, and really pushed the rest of the run as well — it was a real thrill to see how hard she worked and how well she did. So she got her medal — and hopefully we’ll both be race-ready next year! 
Things Life Whatnot
—Annual Guinness party at the Marshalls:
Mid-month, we went to the belated St. Patrick’s Day party at Annika’s friend Niamh’s house. R. and I had a good time drinking Guinness and talking with grownups, and the kids — after a rocky start, when Annika felt Niamh wasn’t paying her enough attention and Lukas had a rough time in the bouncy house — enjoyed themselves as well. 
—Spies playdate: Annika and her friends are into All Things Spy-Related these days, so when her school had a couple of minimum days (out at 1:00) for spring PT conferences, we invited the Alana and Vilma families over for a Spies playdate. The girls had to take a quiz Annika had written out (sample Q: Where do spies live?), then they all bombed around the house sneaking and writing cryptic notes and peeking around corners and whatnot. Good times!
—Pop torture: This is my fault, but unfortunately, the kids both love Taylor Swift (argh). It’s all because of that ONE SONG I kind of liked, which they both loved, and now they ask me all the time to find TS and her various noodlings on the radio … [headdesk]
—Homestyle gymnastics: Annika has been heavily into perfecting her cartwheel, both at home and on the playground, and what she does, Lukas must also do — so they use our room for gymnastics practice: cartwheels for her, somersaults for him, on the carpet. It’s hilarious, if occasionally hazardous …

Quotable Kids
—Lukas, in re: tornados:
—Annika, rushing to interpret what he was trying to say about a Little Charmers character: “Hold on - I know Lukas talk!"
—Lukas, watching her doing magic in his room one morning: "Dat's coool! How'd you DO dat??"
—Lukas, warning innocent bystanders before he somersaults: “Wook out be-kwow!"
—Annika, doing a little informal history research: “What was your favorite app when you were a kid?"
—Lukas, starting the next game: “How bout we pway ... [dramatic silence] [dramatic whisper as he opens a cabinet door with a flourish] … wegohhhhhhs!”
—Lukas, about an intriguing musical instrument: the "recordian" (accordion)

Monday, March 9, 2015

February 2015

The social swirl
—Super Bowl Sunday: We kicked the month off in style with a mini Super Bowl party at our house — just us and the Carneys. The kids played and ran around and watched stuff on the living room TV (the book cases etc. were finished JUST that week!! So we could move the couches back in there), while we grownups drank beer and ate amazingly bad-for-us food and watched the game on the movie screen. It was the most fun SB Sunday we’ve had in years!
—Vilma’s Valentine party: Another little impromptu party at Vilma’s, with us and Alana’s family invited after school on the Friday before. The kids are all at a really good place, where they’re actually playing instead of just fighting over dumb stuff, so all seven of them had a good time while we moms drank coffee and talked.
—Valensauce: We talked Mike & Heather into hosting Sauce on Valentine’s Day, and while Sauce is never not fun, this one was one of those where we never quite got it together; the kids did not go to bed (and woke up at the stroke of 6:00 a.m.), our drummer became incapacitated way, way early; and there were various other momentum-killers that kept putting us off our rhythm. Time for a do-over — without the kids, next time. 
Days with Lukas
—Preschool search 2015: This month, we made several preschool visits, trying to find the right one. I narrowed it down to three, and took him with me on tours. The first one was great and wonderful … and had an 18-month waiting list. The second was kind of meh — it was OK, but not markedly different from AppleSeed, which Annika is ever more vehement against. The third, Discovery Years, seemed like a good fit — clean and bright, with warm & kind teachers, and a huge outdoor play area with a big, clean sand pit, lots of natural shade, and stuff to climb on. After R. toured both alone, we agreed that was the winner for now; it’s not very “academic,” but for his first little while in preschool, it was a good choice. He’ll start MWF, 9-3, on March 2.
—Potty training: We finally, FINALLY got some traction with getting this kid trained. He is willing — and loves to earn his Oreos as a reward for #2 — but he will almost never think to go on his own. He’ll stay dry all day if you remind him he needs to go. Someday we’re just gonna have to put him in underpants and deal with the consequences, but for now, this is real progress.
—Lukas and the muddy puddle: After some rain over a weekend, we went to pick up Annika on Monday, and there was a giant puddle of water on the blacktop. Annika, Vilma, Vaatu, Niamh and Lawson all skirted the puddle, but Lukas ran right to the center of it, splashing in with both feet. He got himself soaked to the waist, and the other kids got splashed if they went within 15 feet of him — I tried to stop him on approach, but he was too fast, and after that first splashdown, there was really no point, so I let him play, the little maniac. He loved it!
Annika's Superstar Week
Annika’s name was drawn from the jar at long last, so one week this month was her very own Superstar Week at school. She had to make a poster over the weekend (All About Me), on which she listed and illustrated the arctic fox as her favorite animal,  “gymnastics” as her favorite thing to do, “ice skater” as what she wants to be when she grows up, and “home” as her favorite place to be (awww!). She did 100% of her own work for the other things: the estimation jar (121 sequins in a baby food jar), the sneaky sharing clues (the superstar brings a sharing item each day, with three clues — she wanted to stump the class every time, and almost did — one kid guessed correctly one day, which made her cry after school), etc. The cutest thing was that she (well, I) brought Lukas in for her sharing one day; the clues were that he “could be noisy,” was “smaller than me” and was “from California.” LOL! He was shy at first, when we came in — all those kids, sitting cross legged on the carpet! — but soon warmed up and even did some singing for their entertainment pleasure. On Friday, to help her with the comedown from being Superstar, I took the two of them to an ice cream store in Willow Glen; it was rainy, which, since we were the only ones in the place, was apparently the perfect time to spend an afternoon eating ice cream. 
Our friends Anne & Kevin — Grace & Sean’s parents — invited us to share a vacation house in Tahoe with them over the girls’ winter break (Presidents’ Day week, aka in California, “ski week”). So we dug out our old ski stuff, borrowed and bought gear for the kids, and drove to what Lukas kept calling “Ta-HOE.” There was a truly unnerving lack of snow — 60-degree days, continuing drought, and nothing but a dusting way high on the tips of the tallest mountains, and only a few resorts had even any manmade snow. But we did find some of that manmade stuff, and the first full day, the kids got to do some inner-tube sledding, which was a thrill for them. We signed Annika & Lukas up for these half-hour one-on-one ski lessons (ski rentals included — it was a great deal for an intro lesson!), and they both did GREAT. We were really surprised how well they both took to it — Annika didn’t even get mad and stomp off and cry when she (inevitably) fell! Next time, we’ll get them a half-day lesson (assuming there’s any snow, ugh). The next day, we went up to Northstar and rode the “gondolon” (Lukas’s phrasing) up the mountain, where they had a snow play area — we threw snowballs, the kids made snow angels and a snow fort — it was fun! Then after lunch, Annika and I and Kevin and Grace went ice skating at Northstar’s “village” while Anne & Sean watched and R. and Lukas went back to the snow play area. Once again, Annika really got it — no buckets, no quitting when she fell, just a lot of hard work and smiles. We were out there for two hours without complaint from her! We none of us got any sleep (Lukas on a pallet in the room with R. and I, Annika and Grace sharing a double bed in the same room with Sean, who can be a fractious waker), but it was a really good time with friends, and we’re looking forward to trying it again. 

Quotable Kids
—Lukas, when I find “Uptown Funk” on Sirius: “That’s our JAM!!!”
—Girl Scout cookies, per Lukas: “thinamints”
—Annika, re: the song “Turning Japanese”: “I imagine the guy singing this looks like Vilma’s dad. With sunglasses up on his head.”
—Lukas, asking me to send a pic of him with a toy to Uncle Jake: “I want to show Uncle Jake my stretchy awien!” [alien]
—Lukas, telling the same story over and over like a drunk at a dive bar: “When I was a wittle boy, I swipped on a weave and fell down." [slipped on a leaf]