An extra day in the parks meant we could slow down the tiniest bit … but we didn’t really! Our trip this year saw slightly cooler weather, slightly larger crowds, and a lot more rides, minus the evening events which we saw last year and decided we didn’t need to prioritize this year. It was AWESOME!!! Annika went on Space Mountain four times (twice each with R. and I), I got to ride Tower of Terror, we went on Big Thunder railroad several times, Pirates three or four times, Radiator Springs Racers 14 times, Haunted Mansion, R. and I got to go on Matterhorn twice each … and so many other things — we even did the Roaring Springs Rapids (and got pretty soaked). The kids held up really well — no actual meltdowns, not like last time, just near-meltdowns. There was an especially big difference in how Lukas handled things — he LOVED the Midway Mania ride that he screamed through last year, for example. So much fun, and such a great time! We can’t wait to go back!!!
—Home & school celebration: Her actual birthday was on the Sunday that we got back from Disneyland & the end of the school break, so she took Pokemon cupcakes to school on Monday the 10th. But! on Sunday, she came downstairs to a special place decorated at the table for her, and a small present to unwrap. I made pancakes for her (her favorite), and dinner was her favorite kalamata pasta thing. Her presents were the kind that are starting to get really good — calligraphy kit, Robux (so she can play more RoBlox), a gems & minerals kit, Pokemon Team Mystic schwag (necklace & shirt), etc. She loved them — said they were the best presents she’d gotten, ever! whew! Love that kid — can’t believe she’s NINE. That just seems impossible, but there she is, more and more wonderfully herself as she grows. Happy birthday, sweet thing!
—The Party: Annika was dead set on having a sleepover, so despite swearing we wouldn’t do a home party again, we did … but at least this time it was just nine girls altogether and not 18 + little brothers. The theme was Pokemon, and the volume was loud. We started with pizza from Bibo’s, then a cake with her two favorite Pokemon (Suicune and Flareon?), and then the idea was they’d dip in the hot tub. Well, they did that, and proceeded to pile into the unheated, 67-degree pool — in the rain, in the dark — and swim, going back and forth between the pool and hot tub, for two hours. Then they settled down for a couple of movies (I popped popcorn, dished out bowls of Pirate’s Booty, and baked some cookies), while I dozed in the guest bedroom. They asked for a third movie at 1:45 a.m., insisting they were not sleepy, but I had to shut that down. Within ten more minutes, all was quiet. In the morning, they let us sleep till after 7:00 — miracle! — then there were waffles, and presents, and the general gathering-up and exit. Only one girl left early (and at a perfectly manageable 10:30 p.m.), nobody threw up, there was no drama — it went so well! Whew! And Annika loved it, said it was the best birthday ever, so!
—PJ Masks: This is a new Disney Junior show he’s obsessed with, and has sort of gotten Annika obsessed with as well. Three young kids go out to “fight crime” at bedtime (thus the PJ bit) — v. cute w/a catchy theme song… until the next one he gets into!
—Pumpkin patch field trip: I went along on the TK/Kinder pumpkin patch field trip, yay. It was … whew. It was something. At least it was overcast so it wasn’t BLAZING HOT like it was the year I went with Annika’s class, but it was still dusty and janky and the kids were maniacs. Ahh well, they enjoyed it, and they loved getting their pumpkins at the end — which we carved the following Friday in class. The kids each had one adult come at 2:00, and I sat next to a kid who didn’t have a special adult with him so I ended up carving two — aaahhh, my hand! It was a lot of fun but so crazy … how does that teacher manage???
Party time: This being the TK class, everyone’s birthdays are September, October, and November — so Lukas went to several parties this month, including Gavin’s (which Manir’s mom took him to, so we could get ready to go to Sauce), and Manir’s party, at Happy Hollow, which Ray took him to on account of I’d been with Annika from 8:30 - 5:00 at the walkathon the day before … whew.
—At last, we got our letter from Hogwarts: Thanks to Mr. Dinh, who read the first book to the class, Annika has gotten into the Harry Potter books in a BIG way. She tore through the first two in about three days, and has been plowing through the rest as fast as she can. She’s forming a Quidditch team, trying to be a good sport about being Sorted into Hufflepuff on the Pottermore website (I’m a Slytherin, and Lukas is Ravenclaw; we haven’t Sorted R. yet), carrying a wand around, writing a book of spells, wearing a bathrobe in the house (as Hogwarts students do!), etc. I could not be more thrilled — I’m so glad she loves these books!!!
—Two more to go: Annika earned her Flying Fish ribbon, meaning there are only two remaining before she “graduates” from the AVAC program. Go, little mermaid!
—Mr. Dinh's class get-together: This guy just can’t get enough of his students! We had a class family get-together at a local pizza place, in which it was incredibly loud but lots of fun and the families all got to meet each other & Mr. Dinh’s baby (Maisie); he's about to go on parental leave in November, through February.
Another wild and long day … Annika walked 64 laps, which fell short of her goal of 75 but significantly exceeded last year’s 50, so she raised good money and did it all on her own power … all of which she rejected and made little of, and CRIED ABOUT, because other people walked more and/or raised more. That’s Annika, always focusing on the positive … Lukas walked about 25, which is a lot for such a little guy, and generally behaved like a f’ing maniac with his pal Lawson. I won four items in the silent auction, which is about 3 more than I thought I would … oh well. It’s For the Children.
We’ve done this before with the Sauce band — play a night in full costume around Halloween — but this time was different: It was with an audience! Mike & Heather opened it up to friends & family the Saturday before Halloween — revealing the mystery of what it is we do here — over (I must admit) my own objections, on grounds of I’m the weakest musician and not up to public performance. BUT: IT. was. AWESOME! We played for six straight hours. I loved it so much and now I just want to do that all the time! People sang, they cheered, I played better than I knew I could … and for once, I was wearing a costume that people actually got: R. and I were Hopper and Joyce from Stranger Things, it was so cool! The kids just sat around for a truly unconscionable number of hours playing on various screens … so they had a great time too. :-)
The second-greatest day of the Kid Year was on a Monday this year, and a school half-day at that (it was the first day of conference week, with dismissal every day at 1:00). So on the 31st, we started off with the school costume parade — which took forever as always, but was adorable and awesome. Lukas was the cutest little Storm Trooper, and Annika was a regal and spooky vampire queen. Then the older kids changed into uniforms and went to class, but I stayed to help with the costumed Kinder/TK “Halloween Extravaganza” (in which small groups of kids went classroom to classroom for various activities). I minded the “pin the tail on the cat” activity, and by the end of the day never wanted to speak to another human being again. LOL. And then we went home and carved our pumpkins — Lukas’s was a “scary jack o’ wantern,” and Annika’s was the significantly more difficult Team Mystic symbol. We’d barely finished that when it was time for all four of us to suit up and go to Niamh and Lawson’s house for the now-traditional stand-up dinner, drinks, and wandering trick-or-treat revue in their neighborhood. The kids got a LOT of candy, maybe more than last year, and an excellent time was had by all.
—“camoplage” Lukas’s interpretation of the word “camouflage,” which Gekko does a lot on PJ Masks
—“And then after Christmas I'll have toys I never had before!” Lukas waxing rhapsodic about the wonders still to come, even after his birthday
—“My belly is done with this cake.” Lukas, having finished his treat at Gavin’s birthday.