—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.
—Why? 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!"