The kids have really been playing and hanging out together a lot. Lukas has developed almost an obsession with Annika’s whereabouts (he’ll ask, upon waking, “Where Ah-kah?”, craning his neck to try to see her; he won’t go downstairs in the morning without her coming too). They built a “secret hideout” together over several days out of the same cardboard box that’s been in the corner of our living room for like two years. They love to watch TV together, and are now into the show “Olivia” (about an irrepressible 6-year-old pig and her family, including younger brother Ian and baby brother William) and another one called “Tickety Toc” (which is awwwwwwwwful, but they both adore it). And they play games together, e.g. “Grizzlies,” which as far as I can tell is just them crawling all over the furniture and growling, occasionally going to “sleep” in their “den,” aka the secret hideout. It’s been really fun to watch them turn into real playmates, even if it does sometimes devolve into pushing each other’s stomachs in and then ratting each other out.
—Three birthday parties back to back: At one point, we went to Pump It Up on consecutive Sundays and Saturdays (Grace’s birthday and Vilma’s birthday), and then to the local Little Gym for Tarek’s birthday party (Annika was one of only two kids in their whole Kindergarten class that Tarek wanted to invite; all the other guests were family and soccer buddies).
—A trek to Marin: We finally went up to San Rafael to see our friends I&K and their kids in their new house. It was a rainy but very nice visit, and the M&H family were there too, so really it was more like a small party. The kids all had a great time, and so did we — even if it was a long day, since we headed up there at the end of one of the Pump It Up parties and didn’t get home till 9:00 …
—Valentine’s Day: Of course we had to make 31 Valentines for Annika’s class, but it was a fun crafty thing with stuff we bought from Michael’s. She and I made sugar cookies with pink sugar for the family, and the kids got little gifties from us (a little stuffed elephant, balloons, chocolate treats). Very cute & fun. :-)
—The Lego Movie: Annika and I went together to see it in the theater and LOVED it! R. and I considered making it a family outing, but we weren’t sure Lukas could handle the entire hour and a half — maybe next time.
—Cirque du Soleil: R. got tickets to Cirque’s Amaluna through work. He thought Annika would like it, so he took her with him (a lot of his work friends did the same thing). She really enjoyed it (although he said they could’ve cut about an hour out of it and made it better, ha!), and it was a really nice outing for the two of them.
—The winter Olympics: For two solid weeks, including the week Annika was off of school for their winter break (known as “ski week” in California), we did almost nothing but watch the Olympics. Annika loved the opening ceremonies, and her favorite sports were figure skating, speed skating, cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Lukas was happy when any sport was on, but particularly hockey (every time we turned the TV on, he’d say hopefully: “Hockey? Wass some hockey now?”).
—A brand new car: Thanks to a confluence of factors including the Prius’s age, mileage and resale value; the availability of HOV access stickers, and a really good price, we decided now is the time to get a three-year lease on a Chevy Volt (electric car with gas backup). So R. did his research and ended up working with a dealership in Van Nuys; one Tuesday, he flew down to Burbank, got the car, and drove it back up. It’s the first American car either of us has had in over 20 years, and so far, it’s a good ‘un — but the best part is that the HOV sticker means R. is getting home at least an hour earlier than usual these days! Yay!
I discovered an accidental parenting hack: Playing classical music on Sirius channels during dinner and bedtime. During the Christmas holidays, we always had a holiday music channel on, so recently during a crabby dinnertime, I said, “Let’s have some music!” Annika requested “pretty ballet music,” so I put it on the symphony hall station, and darned if it didn’t settle both the kids down some. So we left it on, and have been doing the same thing every night; it seems to help them rest easier when they go to bed (especially Annika — the Lukas man loves to sleep, so he’s no prob).
—Lukas loves his footstool: Those friggin gray plastic footstools. He carries them around, and guess what he uses them for? Jumping off of, and reaching stuff he ought not to. Arrrgh.
—“I riding my entefant!” (His word for elephant; he likes to ride that stuffed rocking-horse-style elephant that Uncle J. & Aunt J. gave Annika when she was a baby.)
—A(nother) disastrous beginning of potty training: The kid is Not Interested. At all. Each time I try, I’m all “THIS IS IT, WE’RE GONNA DO IT IF IT KILLS US.” And he’s like, nope. Ixnay. Nein. Nyet. Go jump in a lake.
—Hitting baseballs: His favorite thing to do outside. He can pressgang old Daddy Dad into it, easy; he likes both hitting off the tee, and swinging at pitches. Either way, he has a hell of a swing — he knocks those whiffle balls from where he stands at the side gate all the way to the chimney.
—"I wearing Ah-kah's i-kates!” That’s what he says he’s doing when he jams his hands into her roller skates (aka, to him at least, her ice skates) and crawls around on all fours (with the front ones rollin’).
—“I DO IT!!”: The defining statement of his entire life and ethos right now. Everything — EVERY THING, ALL OF THE THINGS — are “I do it!” Opening doors, closing doors, putting the milk in the fridge, putting it on the table, brushing teeth, climbing into the car, going up or down the stairs, evvvvvvvvvvvverything all the time, with hell to pay if you don’t let him or don’t think of it first. Which is fine and all, but the worst is when he says “I do it!” and then … doesn’t. But then gets hysterical if you then do the thing for him. “I do it! I do iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! I do it!” repeat repeat repeat drink Scotch.
—Swinging: As is her wont, she figured out all at once one fine afternoon how to swing under her own power. She didn’t get it, she didn’t get it … and then, she did! Yay! It was so great to see how proud she was, and there is really nothing like watching her push up to the sky, hair streaming out and legs driving her higher.
—Running: We registered for the Wildflower Run (which is in April) in time to get the discount; she is absolutely able to handle the distance (she’s done it tons of times), but I’m still not sure she’s actually going to do the race, when we get to the actual day. She gets overwhelmed and shy, which — boy! do I understand. But I do think she’ll push through, because that’s the only way to get a medal, and getting medals is Her Thing.
—Scootermania: She’s had another breakthrough on the physical front: Really getting the hang of using her Razr scooter. She has requested I bring it with me every time we are going to walk home from school -- and so I do -- so she gets a good deal of practice.
—Her first try at roller skating: We went out one afternoon to try out her new roller skates. R. had to hold her up, and she really didn’t grok the method of keeping her feet under her. Next time, I think maybe we should try on grass or carpet or something that will offer a little resistance (and cushion if/when she falls); I do feel that as she gets more confident with those long glides on the scooter, and does a little more bike riding, the skills will sort of inform each other and she’ll get it. That’s really kind of how she does things, after all! (See above, ha!)
—Lexia: She is now on level 6 of the computer reading program thing at school, which if I understand correctly, is fourth grade material. Holy moly. That’s our girl!