Monday, January 2, 2017

December 2016

Harry Potter
It would be hard to overstate the importance of Harry Potter, et. al., in the household right now — and it is AWESOME. Annika finished all the books and started re-reading them, and we’ve started going through the movies on family movie nights. Annika loves them but gets scared sometimes; Lukas pushes us away when we try to block him from the scary parts (he loves it all). We’ve re-watched several on the TV, as well; we’re really getting to be connoisseurs of the franchise. Annika is very hot on the idea of us going to Universal Studios to the Wizarding World amusement park, which we are all excited to maybe do sometime soon. It is a trip to hear Lukas’s commentary during the movies — e.g. “Harry’s got an invisible-bility cloak,” “Oh, now he has Hagrit for his parent!”, etc.)
Holiday potpourri
—R.’s knee surgery:
Twice-rescheduled, the bursectomy finally happened on Dec. 8, hopefully making R. much more comfortable and agile in the future but for a few weeks rendering him more or less immobile. We had to cancel our attendance at a couple of social events — a holiday dinner party at some friends’ house, another friend’s 40th birthday party — but we got so much help from so many people that it made things infinitely easier (my friend Jen brought food, Fiona took the kids to school on the day of the surgery, everyone brought things and pitched in in a dozen ways large and small). And the knee is on the mend! Yay!
—Grandparents arrive: Grandma & Grandpa arrived … just in time for some doctor and financial advisor appointments! The kids immediately commenced fighting over who got to play with Grandma, per the usual, and couldn’t really split time with Grandpa because he was sick — pneumonia this time. But with the right meds and some rest, he rallied somewhat.
—Cole’s party: Lukas’s preschool friend Cole invited a large and seemingly random group of kids to his birthday party at Pump It Up, so he and I went with Lawson & his mom, and met up with Manir and his mom — another crazy time with crazy people. 
Christmas in old San Ho
Christmas, the most important event in the whole kid year … this year, we got our tree early, because R. wouldn’t be much good decorating it after his surgery. We went to four different places and found the choices lacking, but finally ended up happy with a really nice tree. I biffed the advent calendar treasure hunt a few times, mostly on account of it’s labor intensive and I didn’t have much time for the labor — but it was a highlight of the day whenever we did manage it. We went to Fantasy of Lights … well, all of us except R. and Lukas (there was a bathroom-related issue for the latter that could not be overcome in time for us to make our entry window, so the boys’ll have to make it next year). We did all the usual, wonderful things — watching A Christmas Story on family movie night, watching all the other xmas specials instead of regular kids’ TV; eating tamales on xmas eve; making a million cutout cookies; discovering that Santa had come during the night (yon wee detective grows extremely skeptical, and several times uncovered hard evidence of parental deception … oh dear); making a big meal on xmas day; having the cousin household over in the late afternoon (this year with music provided by the guitar/clarinet duo of Alyna & Uncle Paul). The big frenzy of presents earlier in the day ran very heavily to Harry Potter (the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw robes from Santa were the marquee item, but the illuminating wands, the goblet, the Marauder’s Map, and the quill pen were big hits as well). For Lukas, Santa (and R. and I) delivered on a great many requests — Lion Guard action figures, a spyglass, a big Baymax, a Minions fart gun (yay), a big Tie Fighter, and other Star Wars stuff. Annika scored some Pokemon cards & figures, and both got some new books (of course). Annika spent a lot of time hand-making bracelets for everyone with their Hogwarts House Crests; Lukas gave us ornaments made in school. A very good year indeed! 
Quotable
“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 7-8-9 in a pear tree!”
—Lukas, not all that illogically
“You mean the North Pole has a tractor beam like the Death Star?” —Lukas, attempting to understand how Santa gets kids’ letters

“Very dark stuff in there.” —Lukas re-stating — with embellishments and whimsical additions — my explanation of how electricity gets to the outlets and thus to lamps & etc. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

November 2016

Early-Out Week
Per the usual in early November, the kids had a week of half-days due to parent/teacher conferences. It could’ve been all screens, all the time, but we managed a few things: We did a nice long family playdate at Alana’s (their youngest kid is now big enough to participate!), we went with Annika’s friend Kaia & her mom to Vasona Park for some Pokemon hunting and playground time, Annika had a mega-playdate over at Anna & Ella’s while Lukas and I met up with Lawson at AVAC open swim, and we watched Big Hero 6 about a dozen times together. 
PT conferences
The conferences with both kids’ teachers went very well (as expected, heh). Ms. Bingham says Lukas is a sweetheart and behaves very well in class, plus he’s learning everything he needs to be. Mr. Dinh invites the students to the conferences, and he loud-talked at all three of us with many compliments for Annika and some general advice for more practicing on math. She’s reading really far above her grade level still — grade 7.6. 
Lukas’s fifth birthday!
He’s FIVE! We had to time the little guy’s party based on the number of parties likely for his classmates (all 26 birthdays in Sept. - Nov.) and avoiding Thanksgiving, so we had it at Pump It Up on Nov. 12. All of his favorite little friends came, jumped themselves silly, and ate the icing on his somewhat-improvised PJ Masks cake (a Spider-Man design w/o Spidey, on which I put a set of PJ Masks figurines). Then, on his actual birthday, he came into our bedroom at dawn, per the usual, and we told him he was five now — to which he replied, “Actually, I’m not five until I eat my cake.” Per his request, that was a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and a chocolate glaze, which Annika and I made. It was also the last day before the Thanksgiving break, which was the day of the TK/kinder music performance; Lukas’s class were Pilgrims (other classes were either Pilgrims or “Indians,” still). He reallllly hadn’t wanted to do the show (we think he thought he would be up there alone, or something?) but he ended up doing such a great job — stood right there in the front row, singing all the songs, doing the arm movements, cute as all get-out. Later that evening, his presents ran heavy to Nick Jr. and Star Wars toys, since those are his major enthusiasms at the moment, although he did get a large Emperor Zurg talking figure to go with the large Buzz Lightyear he got at Disneyland. Hard to believe the “baby” is five already — he’s a combination of total love bug (always wanting hugs and kisses and cuddles) and insane energy dynamo, sharp and funny and sweet and wild. He’s the little brother this family needed and just the man for his era. 
Thanksgiving
We did Thanksgiving at home again this year (my preferred way, heh), with a big turkey, the Macy Day Parade, deviled eggs (mostly done by Annika), etc. The pies didn’t really work, but other than that, all the food was good and the kids even had regular plates (some of which they actually ate). Good times!
November randomness, good & bad
—Election Day: Started out so great, with me in my Nasty Woman pantsuit and the whole family going to vote. Ended worse than we could have imagined. The less I say about this, the better, except to note that the hardest thing I’ve done as a parent so far was not allowing my black depression to ruin Lukas’s birthday enthusiasm, and it took everything I had to make that work.
—Lukas the party guy: Everybody’s birthday is this month, it seems, and Lukas went to several parties, including Brayden’s (which was at a joint called “Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl,” apparently what the bowling alley in Bass Pro Shop is called?), and Sean's party, at Rockin’ Jump, which R. took the kids to, solo, because of:
—My trip to Tulsa: We got the word that my Uncle Ronnie has cancer and is refusing the major, invasive treatments that might buy him a little more time (on grounds of he’s 80 years old and not interested in all that expense and bother for so little gain). So we did some shuffling and Internet-searching and all the siblings converged on Tulsa for a day. It was really great to re-meet my cousin Monty (who’s now 24, and whom I last saw when he was 7) and to spend some time with Ronnie while he’s still able to visit with us. So it was a little sad but also a good trip. 
Quotable
Lukas, observing the preparation of turkey-roasting on Thanksgiving morning:
“Is that a real turkey?”
“Yes.”
“Why isn't it moving?”
“Well, it can't move anymore, buddy.”
[moment of contemplation] “Where is its face?”

Lukas, slightly conflating a couple of his new obsessions: “Can I watch PJ Ninja Mega Turtles?”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

October 2016

Disneyland & California Adventure!
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!!! 
Annika’s birthday
—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!
Lukas Life
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. 
Annika’s stuff
—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. 
Dandy Day 2016
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. 
Sauce-o-ween
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. :-) 
Halloween
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.

Quotable
—“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. 

September 2016

Family social life
—Lots of things going on in September, including an overdue dinner at the Carneys (where we stayed longer than intended and the kids + grownups had a blast); the Lendlers driving down to visit and bringing homemade Indian food (aaaaaaahhhh!) and the kids paired off to play Pokemon (A. & Theo) and Hot Wheels (L. & Dylan) for literally hours while we adults drank champagne and ate till we couldn’t anymore; and a modest celebration of our 24th anniversary, kind of low-key because A) the date crept up on us, B) next year’s is a bigger deal, and C) we were trying to get ready for Disneyland! But it was nice, and there was cake, so.
—Almaden art & wine festival: This time we did a better job of getting there early, before the sun fried us all where we stood. The kids had a great time in the bouncy houses, and doing this martial-arts obstacle test culminating in kicking a board out, etc. And of course R. and I drank beer and ate street food, so that worked out. When we got home, it was pretty much the last pool day of the year — a good way to close things out!
—Another screening of The Empire Strikes Back: An overcast, low-key day … perfect for Empire. Annika haaaaaaaaaaaaaated it (too scary!), and Lukas loved it. 
Things & whatnot
—Halloween costumes early: Unlike childhood me, these kids knew a long time ago what they wanted to be for Halloween this year: Annika chose a sort of gothy vampire princess dress — dark red taffeta, black velvet, with a hooded cape and a set of fake teeth — and Lukas was adamant about being a Storm Trooper. So I ordered the costumes early and Lukas wore his pretty much every chance he got from the day it arrived. He likes to recite bits of Star Wars dialogue in costume — either actual Storm Trooper stuff or things Han and Luke said while dressed as STs. ha! 
—Annika gets actual braces: We weren’t sure when this would actually happen, but apparently it was now — she got her expander wired into place as is, it having done its job, and they installed a row of braces on her top front teeth. That wasn’t a problem — she’s handling this whole thing like a champ! — but these so-called “bite buttons,” aka rods sticking backward into her mouth that prevent her from actually biting (her teeth do not meet; there’s about a half-inch gap — so she can only eat liquid or very mushy foods, nothing that needs chewing at all, surprise!), those were a problem. She was so upset about it — and honestly, how can I be expected to put an almost-nine-year-old on a liquid diet for weeks or months??? — and we were about to go to Disneyland, so I was That Mom and took her in on a Saturday to get those things removed. Braces are one thing; this stuff is a other. Whew. So we’ll see what happens next!

School days
—3rd grade Kinder Buddies:
Annika’s class were assigned members of one of the Kindergarten classes as “Kinder Buddies,” with whom they will meet weekly in the hope that the 3rd grade can influence the K kids with “positive behaviors.” Annika is thrilled at the big-sisterly aspect of this, and she looks forward to each weekly meeting with her buddy … whose name she does not recall. hahahaha!
—Student council speech: 3rd, 4th and 5th grades elect two students per class to the student council, so each kid who wanted to participate was told to write and present a speech. Annika’s was just about perfect — short and sweet, but with good details and solid plans for what she’d do to represent the class on the council. She rehearsed and revised, gave the speech to us several times, and was ready for it. She didn’t get elected, but it was a great learning experience and we were super super proud of her and her campaign!
—Fever Strikes: Annika and Lukas tag teamed for over a week on being feverish (about 102 degrees) and staying home sick from school, one at a time, miserable and logy. I had a day of it myself, but mostly it was them.
—Star’s party: A new kid named Star, in Annika’s class, invited everyone to her birthday party at the cabana club her family is a member of. She seemed nice enough, but it was soon apparent to me that she’s part of a demi-Mean-Girls clique with three classmates — one is a would-be co-leader, and two are followers; the four of them together were unspeakably irritating to me (not outright mean, not yet and not in that setting w/parents everywhere, but insular and clannish in a way that pings a lot of alarms for somebody who’s been through that). To her utter credit, Annika did not seem to notice or care, so yay! But still: Grrrrrrr.
—Volunteering in both classrooms: I’m doing regular Wednesdays in Lukas’s class now, helping out with “small groups” the teacher breaks the class into. My section has involved tempera paint each time thus far, but that’s fine by me. I’m getting to learn what the kids are like — it’s cool! For a few weeks, I went to Mr. Dinh’s class to help facilitate “book groups,” with medium success. That feels like good and important work, but the organization is somewhat lacking and I suspect the gig won’t go on all that long — fun while it lasts, though! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

August 2016

Family fun
—Afternoon at Anna & Ella’s:
We were all invited over to the twins’ house on a Saturday to hang out and swim. It was good to get to know their parents, and all four kids had a blast on that very low-key afternoon.
—Back to School swim party at the twins’: This was only about ten days later, the day before school started for everyone — an actual party at Anna & Ella’s, which was another chance to kind of get back into the social swing after a summer off. Lukas spent most of his time on the trampoline, and I spent mine talking to some of my favorite mom-friends.
—Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: We put those season passes to good use with a weekday trip down to SC for some boardwalk fun. The big headline this time was Annika riding the Big Dipper (the old wooden rollercoaster); she was terrified, and I don’t really feel good about how I persuaded her to ride it — she’d said maybe, on the way down, but HELL NO once we got there … But anyway, it’s always a good time walking around eating dippin’ dots and whatnot.
—The Rio Olympics: We watched thousands of hours of Olympics coverage, to the neglect of every other kind of entertainment while the games were on … the kids loved gymnastics and the equestrian events, and the swimming was very exciting; Annika watched Katie Ledecky’s swims in slow-mo and took actual notes on her form, which the then taped to a piece of construction paper and put inside a Ziplock for reference outside in the pool. Love her focus!!
—Lazy days: Most of the month that wasn’t spent on school prep (e.g. the hellish trip to Target for school supplies, the shoe store, etc.) was given over to our usual stuff: swimming, bowling, playing around on screens (Annika’s heavily into something called Roblox), and watching Octonauts (Lukas’s new discovery, of which we all heartily approve).
—Parade of Broken Appliances: First the ovens died, then the washing machine, then the freezer. So we worked around (sending out the laundry) and did without (no more ice cream), until after a solid month, the oven got fixed — we celebrated restored oven functionality by baking these amazing Finnish cookies Annika had discovered a recipe for; still waiting on the other appliances. Ugh. 
Annika
—Brownie sleepover:
Annika’s troop had its first official event, a sleepover and cookout at R&R’s magical wonderland of a house. They actually slept in tents in the backyard; I had to sign up for a 2-hour volunteer shift, part of which included setting up those tents, but otherwise Annika was on her own with the girls. She loved it, and now wants to go camping with her troop. I’ll … send marshmallows. Have fun kids. 
Lukas
The Empire Strikes Back: Lukas finally decided he was ready to watch Empire, so we set it up in the movie room the day Annika was at her Brownie sleepover (she was actively against seeing it herself, thus the choice of showtimes). He loved it, wasn’t scared, and now has new stuff to yell when he runs around pretending to be a stormtrooper.
—Play dates: Lukas is fully committed to the playdate lifestyle, asking for one at least once per day. He had one with Lawson (in the two hours between Kinder/TK dismissal that first week) and one with his TK classmate Manir — his good buddy from preschool — whose mom I love and get along with really well. He fell apart at the end when it was time to leave — exhaustion plus just really not wanting to stop playing — but the during part was awesome!
—Wacky Wednesdays: We had to move Lukas’s swim lessons to Wednesdays, because obviously he can’t do Thursday mornings anymore, so it’s going to be a very, very tight turnaround getting from school to AVAC by 3:15 for his lesson (hers is at 3:30). Should be fun. 
Third grade and Transitional Kindergarten!
Astonishingly enough, Annika started third grade, and Lukas started TK. She got the “cool” teacher, a young guy named Mr. Dinh (who, it turns out, kind of stresses her out by being a loud talker but! redeemed himself in other ways, including the optional Pokemon Friday lunch trading card sessions). Most of her runnin’ buddies are in other classes, but she is back with Niamh this year, and her BFF Raina is in her class, so it’ll be OK. Lukas is loving the otherworldly-good Miss Bingham, and she has highest praise for him so far. He has been reunited with preschool pal Manir, whom he runs to and hugs in line every morning, and is making lots of other friends (most of whose names he doesn’t know yet, ha!). He comes home with a half dozen scrapes, bruises and scratches every day, so I guess he’s having a fabulous time on the playground as well. It’s looking like a good year for both — although we found out at Back-to-School night that Mr. Dinh is going to be taking parental leave (he has a newborn daughter) starting in November. Boo! But I mean, excellent for him and I support it and all that. Heh. 

Quotable
—Me, sifting through forms & permission slips:
"Hey, did you wanna join the Green Team at school?"
Annika, with the levelest look I have ever seen on any human face: "No. I'm not gonna spend my recess digging through the garbage with gloves on."
Me: [thrilled beyond measure that I haven't passed on my Overachieving People-Pleasing Joiner gene] "OK then."

July 2016

Grandparents’ visit
So G&G came for three weeks this summer, straight from NY (where they are fixing up the Long Island house for sale). It was the usual mix of Lukas & Grandpa rowdiness, Annika & Grandma sequestration, afternoon swimming, too much screen time, and a couple date nights out for R. & I, except for two things: 1) G&G’s anniversary dinner, in which the six of us went out to celebrate 56 years for the guests of honor (the kids held up much better than expected — a gift all by itself!), and 2) Grandpa getting vascular surgery five days into the visit to repair a blockage before it could do any damage to the old guy. It went extremely well, and Grandpa only spent a single night in the hospital before coming home to recover with ease — couldn’t have asked for an easier experience (at least for those of us who didn’t actually have the surgery!).
Family fun
—The Glorious Fourth:
We had a great 4th of July weekend, featuring a spot of bowling, a lot of time in the pool and grilling out for nearly every meal, a day visit from everybody’s favorite Tom, and on the 4th, a short trip to see our local parade with R.’s work friend and his family, plus that evening, an awesome fireworks show, where we were joined by the cousins & Uncle Paul & Aunt Amy.
—Gilroy Gardens: We needed to make use of those season passes we bought, so we cleared a weekday and went again. Another fun trip for all! Annika sure does love that one roller coaster … :-)
—The abortive trip to Marin: Our friend Ian had a book reading & signing at a bookstore in San Rafael, and we were invited over to their house after to hang out and eat dinner. And everything was perfect … until we got stuck in absolutely insane traffic on the way up, and yada yada yada, three and a half hours later, still on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, we called it — turned around and came home, feeling horrible about missing everything we’d planned with our friends, but with no prospects of getting there before sundown. Ugh. Hell of a day. 
Annika
—Brownie swim party:
Annika’s Brownie troop had an informal get-together at the twins’ house (Rachel & Rebekah) for swimming and whatnot, so she spent a crazy town afternoon there, after having really not seen her friends since school let out.
—Pokemon GO!: This mobile game has more or less taken over the world, and our lives — good thing it really is so much fun! When we finally figured out what we were doing, A. and I really started to get into going on walks and to parks to hunt the little critters. We even got to go Pokemon hunting with Paul and Alyna, when their family came over to visit G&G.
—Mom & Annika time: While she’s still out of school but Lukas hasn’t finished at preschool yet, Annika and I did a bunch of just-us things, e.g. bowling w/o her obsessing about Lukas getting a better score than she did; going to the tea party restaurant and the new coffee shop near the house (for crepes and coffee); seeing Secret Life of Pets in the movie theater, and spending a couple of hours at two different paint-your-own pottery places — the kind of thing a younger sibling couldn’t really handle yet. 
Lukas
—Goodbye to Discovery Years:
At the first of the month, I turned in our 30-day written notice, withdrawing Lukas from preschool. We have high hopes for TK, and it’s just time to do this; his teacher was very sorry to know we’d decided for certain to take him out, and spent the rest of the month making a fuss about it, but the deed was done!
—Mornings with Lukas: On another note entirely, Lukas has turned into quite the morning cuddler/snoozer; he’ll sneak into our room verrrrrry quietly in the morning and climb into bed with us. Some mornings, it’s nice, and he’s sweet, and he’ll give lots of kisses and sometimes even go back to sleep draped on top of one of us; other mornings, he’s the frickin Tasmanian Devil and rousts us both out of bed, grumpy and angry at him for disturbing our rest. You just never can tell with this one. 

Quotable
—“I like Rusty Rivets because he can fix anything, just like you!”
-Lukas, to Daddy

—“Lukas did that. He says it's his booger army. —Annika, with the most perfectly deadpan eye-rolling comedic delivery of all time, when I catch sight of some stuff wiped on a wall in the bathroom.

—“You’re a monkey, Lukas!” —Grandpa
No, I don't like bananas!” —Lukas, indignantly defending his honor

 —“Why does Batman have to verse Superman?” —Lukas asking the age-old questions

Thursday, September 1, 2016

June 2016

Second grade is over!
—The second grade picnic, and a limo ride to Chuck E. Cheese:
The second to last day of school was the day of their class “picnic,” which this year was held at Parma Park. I took Lukas with me and walked with the class to the park; it was hot, but the kids had a bomb-ass time (Lukas had Lawson to play with), so all was well. Then, when we got back, it was time for Annika to go with her pal Niamh in a limo to Chuck E. Cheese’s for lunch — a treat Niamh had won in a raffle back on Dandy Day in October, which included inviting four friends along (her friend Alana was one of the others). We got pictures of their departure in the white stretch limo — it was hilarious, and she loved it!
—On the last day — which as always is a minimum day — we hung around for a bit saying our good-byes, and then went to get ice cream in Willow Glen (per our first-and-last-day tradition). Lukas is so much less sensitive to dairy now (I want to say his allergy is officially outgrown, but of course I’m scared to actually do that) that I was going to let him order real ice cream (but he wanted a Dole Whip, so that’s fine). Anyway, we were sitting outside to eat, and a girl — about 12 years old — nearby was talking with her mom about her karate class. Lukas jumps out of his seat, strikes a pose in front of her, and declares: "I'm a real ninja!” (to the general hilarity of all). It was a good last day! And only three days till … 
Hawaii 2016!
With the dance recital week not a factor this year, we planned our trip for as soon as we could — school let out on Thursday, we took off for Hawaii for two weeks on Sunday. This was the year Lukas was finally a real swimmer (and we were confident enough in his abilities that we could let him do it, heh). The fact that he didn’t have to cling to one of us, or be watched like a hawk anymore, opened up a lot of things for us. And it was glorious! Most days, we spent at the beach club, chilling in our cabana, going out to swim, building some crazy sandcastles, etc. Annika and R. went snorkeling every day (and she did a lot of free-diving in the channels); Lukas even got a set of fins and goggles, but he’s not quite ready to go out there yet. I rented a two-person kayak one day, and Annika and I went pretty far out, just paddling around and looking at stuff. But several days, we went up to Hapuna Beach, which is north of where we stay, and is one of the best beaches in the world. It’s unprotected (no reef), so there are waves — the kids both did some boogie-boarding and bodysurfing, with mixed/very sandy results), but most of the time, we would just jump around on the soft, soft sand and go out to jump and float in the chest-high waves. The water was so warm and wasn’t at all rough, despite the scouring wind up on the beach; the only real downfall of Hapuna is the complete lack of shade (except if you get there early enough to get a spot under the kiawe trees … which is a whole other kind of problem). On those days, we either brought lunch or got food in Kawaihae, the little town just north of Hapuna, when we quit beachin’ for the day (absolutely delicious fish tacos, burgers, etc.) and pick up some fish to grill for dinner, too, at a place that sells the day’s fresh catch. We cooked at home a lot, but went out a lot too; Lukas would order “chicken fenders, french fries, lemonade, and ketchup” from any place we went, while Annika managed to get some variety in her orders. We decided to take a chance on the luau again (having skipped it last year), and it was a MUCH better experience this time: Nobody was scared, everybody could eat what was on the buffet, the kids behaved themselves, we actually got to enjoy the show. Victory! Once again, we visited some units in the condo complex that were for sale, and almost talked ourselves into buying one … that story is not over yet. Eventually, of course, the trip was over and we headed home … only to end up spending NINE HOURS in the Honolulu airport (some mechanical problem with our plane). They moved us around a bunch, gave us vouchers for dinner, and eventually we got settled in the Magnum, P.I.-era wing of the airport, from whence we finally departed. We walked through our front door at about 5:30 on Sunday morning (Father's Day, lol), and didn’t get ourselves righted for a week, time-wise — but the kids did OK (thank all the large and small gods for Apple mobile technology!!!), and it was worth everything it took out of us. Aloha till next year!

Quotable
“Betsy — the one with a face helmet, that wears green and black.”
—Lukas describing the Star Wars character Boba Fett
—“cheft hat” —Lukas’s take on “chef’s hat”
—“legendary nut” — Lukas describing a kukui nut that still had green on it