Wednesday, November 19, 2014

October 2014

Annika is SEVEN!
—The big day
: As is now the custom, I decorated her place at the dining table with streamers (blue this year) and put a little present there for breakfast. She woke up early and was super-excited to get cranking on the birthday fun. At school, she declined to be recognized during “Movin’ and Groovin,” her most hated school activity (led for all the first graders by Mrs. W, about whom: more below), and otherwise had a fantastic day being the special birthday kid. At home, she and I got right to the important task of baking her cake, which this year was a round two-layer cake with a gigantic number “7” on it in blue sanding sugar. We all ate her favorite meal for dinner: spaghetti with butter & cheese. Afterward, she opened presents, which included: tickets to Disney on Ice (for her and for me, two Saturdays later), Goldie Blox, Lego Friends, iTunes cards (for apps), walkie-talkies, a magic kit, and a Kidizoom watch (which takes videos and has games on it).
—The party: Earlier in the year we’d thought of having her party at home, but because we thought we might have construction going on (turned out, it started a little later, in November), we looked for a new fun place to have her party: Color Me Mine, which has a new location in the mall near us. She kept the guest list to 14, which made a full table of kids (including Lukas), and everyone loved the unique idea of it. Going with her requested “undersea” theme, I ordered her  a special cake from a local bakery with a mermaid and a cute hammerhead shark on it, and made a banner for the wall at Color Me Mine. Hilariously and awfully, we showed up late to our own party — three of her guests were already there, probably wondering if they were at the wrong place … but it worked out fine, and with help from the other parents (and especially my friend Anne), we got it all done and a good time was had by all!
— 7 year checkup: She’s almost 49 inches tall (she’s really shot up this year), and her eyesight is as sharp as ever. She was able to get the inhalable flu vaccine, so no shots, and was very good at helping Lukas get past his shrieking, gibbering fear of same so he could get his inhalable flu vaccine at the same time. Yay for big sisters! 
Lukas Life
—Lukas knows his left and right:
I’m not sure how he picked this up, but he has — and he can even choose correctly on a person who is facing him (i.e. reverse it). Wow!
—He’s into superheroes and Buzz Lightyear: The little guy has figured out, through cultural osmosis, all the superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man, plus all the ones in the Pixar universe (mostly for movies/TV he’s never seen). He’s forever talking about “punching out bad guys” and trying to fix in his mind who is a bad guy and who is a good guy.
—Monster in the morning: Lukas putters around by himself in his crib for awhile in the morning, but when somebody goes into his room to fetch him out, he crouches down behind the crib bars and then pops up, going “Raaaaahhhhrr!” You’re supposed to pretend to be scared of the “monster” (or dragon, or dinosaur, etc.), and then, relieved, say “Oh, whew, it’s just Lukas! I was so scared!” or whatever.
—The thing with him and opening the front door: He’ll get to the front door first and block it, telling me “You can’t do it, but [whatever he’s holding or wearing, e.g. stretchy alien, the car on his shirt, a handful of stickers, Buzz Lightyear] can!” You’re supposed to unlock it, then let him (or it) press the handle down and shove the door open. 
Family field trip
We don’t get out a lot as a family, but when prompted, it’s often epic: Our friend Ian has a new children’s book out, and invited us to his launch party at a bookstore in Marin. We accepted, and made the 1.5 hour drive up there. We all had a great time (at the reading and at the running-around-the-store afterwards); Ian and Kusum’s son, Theo, had a school friend there, who got an eyeful of Annika and said to him, “How do you know HER?” hah! They invited us to their house afterward for some celebratory champagne, which we had while the kids ran around some more. Then we headed home, stopping in to our old stomping grounds, Celia’s Mexican Restaurant in Daly City, for some takeout (we even got to visit briefly with our old friend Miriam, who was often our waitress in those long hangouts of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon). When we finally got to our house, Uncle P. and Cousin Sonic were there to greet us, as they were on the run from Cousin A.’s slumber party back at their house. So it was a long day and a late night, but epic fun!
School stuff
—The 9/11 book incident:
Annika somewhat elliptically revealed to me one night that about a month ago, a substitute teacher in her class, having read them a book about Philippe Petit (the guy who walked on a wire between the two WTC buildings in 1974), had told them all about 9/11 (including such choice details as 3,000 people dying, people falling or jumping from the buildings, the pilots crashing into the building on purpose — which I had to amend to the bad guys threw the pilots out and they crashed the planes on purpose, etc.). SO. R. and I were beyond furious. He went to the principal the very next morning, and managed not to yell at the guy (who was, to his credit, properly appalled), and the whole thing grew into a string of emails between us, the principal, her teacher, and the sub — who defended herself on grounds of 1) she’s been teaching for 46 years and is beloved there, and 2) she didn’t say that stuff, which of course was bullshit. We didn't want Annika to be in any class taught by this woman, and actually kept Annika out of school one day when we knew she was going to be the substitute. Finally, there was a meeting with all five of us, at which we were eventually satisfied that they acknowledged that the whole situation was messed up and told us how they’d plan not to have something like this again. Annika dislikes the sub on general principles (she says she treats the first-graders like babies, the highest possible offense!), but as far as we know, is unaware of all the kerfuffle — so we got that going for us.
—Red Ribbon Week: My god, what a nightmare for my kid who only wears blue and does not own sports-related clothing … this was a theme week about “making healthy choices,” and there was some sort of special attire “suggested” every day. I spent HOURS and DOLLARS on trying to get her kitted out correctly, only to have her scream and cry and berate me — for the yellow-striped shirt on “black and yellow” day that had GRAAAAAAAAAYYYY IN IT (she ended up wearing the black velvet dress that was the base of her Halloween costume); for the SF Giants shirt on “sports/team attire” day — the literal only SF Giants shirt in Target — that was TOO BIG AND YOU ALWAYS GET ME CLOTHES THAT ARE TOO BIG (she wore the velvet dress again, with a uniform skirt over the bottom half); for the “wear all red” day (she hasn’t a stitch of red, which is clearly my own personal evil and intentional fault) …. Next time, I’m letting her outfit herself, or not, and I’m not getting anywhere near it.
—Dandy Day: This was a triumph all around! Her school has one big fundraiser, a walk-a-thon and silent auction called Dandy Day — that covers most of their “extras,” such as science lab, music, art, computers, etc. She solicited donations from the family (and I put it on Facebook), and wow, did she earn that money! She walked 37 laps — which I’m told is nearly 11 miles, the latter half with a huge blister on her left instep (by the end, she was just gutting through it, really in pain, but refusing to stop), and ended up earning $420 (thanks, Uncle J., for the $5 per lap pledge!). She bragged to everyone about how much money she earned for the school, and was thrilled to get a special “Paws” medal for raising more than $300; her class even got the first grade’s “Golden Shoe” award for most money raised. She’s already talking about next year, and how much more she’s going to walk. Look out!
App Crazy
So Annika noticed at the dentist that there’s a free app you can download from Oral-B toothbrushes, where you scan your Licensed Character Oral-B toothbrush on your iPad and it plays a timer for 2 minutes, gradually revealing a picture from a Licensed Disney or Pixar Property, after which you get a virtual sticker to add to a virtual album. Simple, yeah? IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN BOTH KIDS’ LIVES. I’m only kidding by a very, very little bit here. The fights, the elbowing, the screaming if one of them pushes the start button on the other’s profile — it is NUTS. It does get them to brush for a full two minutes, morning and night, but … we’re starting to wonder if it’s worth the ag. 
Halloween, the most wonderful day of a kid’s year!
—The costumes:
Annika went through fewer ideas than you’d think; if Halloween were in May, she might’ve gone as Frozen’s Queen Elsa, but by late summer she was pretty well fixed on being a black cat — specifically black, such is her orthodoxy in matters Halloween. But she wanted to wear a dress, so I searched the internet for a garment of the correct length and coloration, finally hitting the jackpot with a black stretchy-velvet skater dress from American Apparel; bought a size too big, it was the proper length for milady, and she was thrilled with it. She had a tail from some cheap kit she’d gotten me to buy her at Michael’s a month ago, but the glittery kitty mask from that kit wasn’t any good — it was flat, with no nose indention, and some of the sequins were missing. So I found a plain black mask with the nose thing, and got black and silver glitter, plus some whiskers and a hot glue gun to affix them to the mask. We mod-podged the glitter on, I hot-glued the whiskers — mask sorted. Then, the matter of claws: I bought a pair of black gloves and a pair of black jazz shoes (this at Prima Dancewear, heh), and drew claws on both with a silver paint pen. She loved the whole ensemble, and she was definitely the cutest, most ladylike black cat in Halloweendom. Lukas, in his first year of real Halloween eligibility, was all over the place in his costume plans — Spider-Man, doggy, Iron Man, Dora (and friends), Spider-Man dragon — but then got specific and definite: red dinosaur. He stuck with that for two weeks, so I finally went ahead and searched — and darned if there wasn’t a red dinosaur costume on sale at Pottery Barn Kids! Amazing. Ordered it, it fit, he loved it — win! He was quite happy to wear the headpiece (some kids won’t wear stuff on their heads), and the glove-claws that came with it — he was committed to doing this all the way. Cutest little red dinosaur in the Anthropocene Era!
—The costume parade at school: It hadn’t rained in three years, but the forecasts were 100% for rain on Halloween, so there was some doubt the school costume parade would be held outside. The weather cooperated, though, and had the added benefit of moving things along a little faster than last year. There were, predictably, tons of Elsas and Annas, but a lot of fun stuff too (my favorite, besides Annika, was a third-grader with a stuffed tiger — Calvin and Hobbes!). Lukas was super excited, yelling and pointing as he spotted several "Iwon Man"s, Captain America, "box guy” (a kid with some sort of box around him — I think Minecraft-related), “blue guy” (a kid in an all-blue one-piece unitard that covered everything, including his/her head — not sure what that was supposed to be), etc. Tons of fun, and just so friggin cute all around.
—Halloween night: We decided to stay local this year, and scored an invitation to Annika’s friend Niamh’s house for dinner and group trick-or-treating. Rain had fallen in the afternoon and was still threatening, but there was no more than a mist in the air by the time we finished dinner, and trick-or-treating was ON. We parents walked their neighborhood, which is one of big, holiday-decorated houses, with to-go cups of adult beverages, while the kids ran house to house. Lawson and Lukas held hands pretty much the entire time (gaaaaaaaahhh so cute!!! him running, holding hands, with that dinosaur tail wagging behind him!). When the kids declared themselves done, we adjourned to Niamh’s house, where the adults stood around the kitchen with wine and the kids ate a ton of their candy haul and ran around like maniacs till about 9:00. The next day, we broke our usual rules and let Annika & Lukas eat candy more or less all day long — Halloween is but once a year!

The Quotable Lukas
—“This wowipop tastes like swazzberry!”
(His approving commentary on a grape sucker he was eating.)
—“Woo-wee" (aka Woody, from Toy Story)

Monday, November 3, 2014

September 2014

Social butterflies
—Lawson the BFF: Thanks to my new fitness blogging gig, Lukas and I are at AVAC several mornings a week, which means we see a lot more of Annika’s friend Niamh’s younger brother Lawson (because that’s where their mom works out too). Lawson is nearly a year older than Lukas, but the two of them get along like a house afire — every time I see them, they’re bombing around like maniacs, jumping off of stuff, flying “Iwon Man” around, etc. Lukas loves to go to the “new, new gym” to see “Wawson,” which is just the cutest thing ever! 
—Epic weekend: Other people have jam-packed weekends all the time, but we always prefer not to … but sometimes, a jam-packed weekend happens anyway. One this month started on Friday afternoon with a playdate with Cayli (her pal from last year, who is now her best friend in Mrs. Casey’s class), transitioning into an evening with the cousins (while Aunt A. & Uncle P. were on a date night), in which most of the time was dedicated to poetry and songs about farts. The next day, we took a family trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; we got there earlier than last time, and had the place practically to ourselves for awhile — the kids just rode rides nonstop, and Annika even went on the kiddie roller coaster with me (which she found terrifying but said she wanted to do again next time). Then on Sunday, we went to the Almaden Art and Wine Festival, walking over to the park with the jogging stroller nice and early. Annika & Lukas both went nuts in the bouncy houses — ever braver about the bigger, taller slides and such — and Lukas spent about an hour at the Little Gym area (with gymnastics equipment, springboards, wedges, balance beams, etc.). I’ll be getting him into a Little Gym class as soon as he’s old enough to do it without my participation (after his birthday). Afterward, we went home, had lunch, and spent the rest of the day in the pool — a relaxing end to a nonstop weekend.
—Jason’s party: Annika’s friend Jason Lee invited her to his birthday party, which was at a wall-climbing facility in downtown San Jose. I thought she might like climbing, and she was pretty keen to try it, but when her turn came, she got about three feet up the wall, and declared herself done. She didn’t like the “height,” and I think it was also a little harder than she thought it would be to find the toeholds; even though she was in harness with an experienced belayer, she didn’t feel stable. Some of the kids were the same, but some just scampered to the ceiling (e.g. Vilma — it was nuts!). Annika tried again, this time getting about 18 inches up the wall before calling it for good. I was proud of her for trying it that second time, even though it terrified her, and for knowing when she had reached her limit — that takes guts, too! She spent the rest of the time running around the place with her buddies, so it ended up being a fun time anyway.
—Fall break week: At the end of the month, school was out for a week. We had no plans to go anywhere, so we did a mix of fun, local things: A group playdate at Alana's (us, Vilma’s fam, and Alana’s), to which Annika brought a set of SpyPhones, customized for each kid; a family trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which both kids LOVED (and which ended in them getting souvenirs: a shark truck for Lukas and a giant plush hammerhead shark — soon named Emily — for Annika; her little buddy Brianna's birthday party, a Friday-evening drop-off affair which Lukas pretty much crashed for the first 15 minutes (the little brother is a pal of his from school pick-up; they both like Yo Gabba Gabba!, Spider-Man, and cars of all kinds). 
School and extracurriculars
—Mad Science: Annika wanted to do this after-school thing called Mad Science, especially because the current 8-week class is NASA-branded and space themed. They’re learning about planets, stars, space travel, rockets, space stations, the whole bit, and Annika loves it! That’s my little explorer/engineer!
—Piano: Another after-school class, in which an outfit called Joyful Melodies brings a bunch of keyboards and teaches a group piano lesson. She wanted to do it, so we signed her up — and then found out both Vilma and Niamh are in it, too! This is great all around — I’m not sure how much piano she’s learning (most of her stories tend to involve the antics of a 4th-grader named Victor), but she loves it, and it’s on Tuesdays so I don’t have that weird early-release thing to contend with (she walks over to the classroom it’s in with Vilma, making her pick-up time the usual 3:00), plus Lukas gets to play with “Wawson" and Vaatu while we wait for class to end.
—One rainy day: The three-year drought continues, but one glorious day, it rained — and the kids both ran around acting like my friend April Marks (from Daly City) did during that first snow our freshman year at Columbia — yelling, laughing, shrieking, singing little made-up songs … all the kids at Annika’s school were doing the same, busting out their umbrellas and their rain boots (LOL) for the slightly-more-than-a-drizzle rain.
—Volunteering in her class: I signed up to volunteer in Annika’s class, and since there were so many people who wanted to do it, I am assigned to every other Monday morning. I put Lukas in KidsPark, this drop-in daycare place near the mall (recommended by several friends who’d used it), then went to school with her. Volunteering in Mr. Ford’s class was like trying to keep the train from going off the tracks over the ravine, but Mrs. Casey is another thing altogether — she has a list (printed!) of what do to, and whom to call to the back to work on what, and little examples set out … it was organized and efficient and amazing, an altogether pleasant and productive experience. I love to be in there and get to observe the way the class is run, and what they’re learning — and Annika is WORLDS better about letting me go when I need to go; I think this is the biggest difference. She likes to be there, so she’s not so upset when I’m not there. It is awesome, to know how much better she feels.
—Summer’s end: Though the days are still blazing, blistering hot, the nights are getting cool, and it’s taking longer and becoming more expensive to heat the pool. So the weekend of the 26th & 27th was the last pool weekend of the year. We swam and swam, then pulled all the pool toys out, rolled up the rugs, and bid the season a fond farewell.
—What’s Annika Reading: Right now, she is obsessed with these Thea Stilton books; titles like “The Secret of the Snow” are about this group of … mice, I think? that go on implausible adventures. The text is sprinkled with font and color changes for emphasis, and frankly they seem kind of … insubstantial, but she likes them and so does Vilma, so they’re staying.
Medical Matters
—Allergist visit: Since it’s been nearly two years since Lukas got his allergy diagnosis, I took him in to see if anything had changed; we’ve been feeding him bread that has milk in it (they said baked milk could help him get over it), and although I’ve kept him from straight-up eating egg or milk products, I’ve been MUCH less careful about casual contact, and he hasn’t had any real reactions in a long time — maybe a welt or two, several minutes after contact, which would fade on its own without the help of Benadryl. So I was expecting to find that he was less allergic now. But … the welts from the skin test were actually bigger this time. Booo! The doc said it might be because his immune system is stronger and fights harder, so I’m gonna believe that for now, and keep increasing his exposure just a little at a time, since he really does seem to be losing his sensitivity.
—Dentist: We went to the kids’ dentist again, and both kids are cavity-free, yay! He did say that we would probably look into orthodonture for Annika in about a year; nothing crazy is happening, but he said that there is some crowding, and that if we do it in two phases, we can actually help shape her mouth as she grows, and the results would be better and more permanent. 
TV Time & Other Entertainments
Peppa Pig:
Step aside, Dora, pups, et. al. — Peppa Pig is here! Also here: her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, plus a cast of characters including Susie Sheep, Zoe Zebra, Rebecca Rabbit, Ellie Elephant, Pedro Pony, etc. It is this hilarious British animated show for kids, featuring short little vignettes about things like jumping in muddy puddles, going on a picnic with the family, having International Day at school, etc. It really is cute, and what’s even cuter is the Britishisms (or just pronunciations) that both of the kids (especially Lukas) have picked up — hearing him say “Yes, please!” or “I just love playing caahhs!” or either of them saying “Ready, steady, go!” with British accents is just hysterical. The Pig family giggle a lot together — contagious!
—America’s Got Talent (aka to Lukas, Merican Tawent) and The Voice: Daddy and the kids love to watch these shows together! I could take or leave them, especially The Voice, but the three of them could watch all day long.
—Another homemade tech toy: Annika, annoyed that her cousins have those little handheld game consoles and she doesn’t (“IT’S NOT FAIR!”), just made her own out of cardboard, with a taped-together hinge and an attached “stylist” (stylus) for verisimilitude. She “plays” it sometimes, shushing us as if it’s real and she's going to miss a sound effect.
—Sailing the cardboard seas, riding on a mythical beast: Inspired by a Dora and Friends episode, Annika (with Daddy’s and my help) spent a couple of weekends building a pirate ship out of cardboard — it’s huge, it has a mast and a sail (which she colored), there are portholes and an anchor … amazing. The two kids spend at least part of nearly every afternoon fighting over who gets to be in it, so — successful build. She also made her own stick unicorn out of a wrapping-paper roll and some carefully shaped and taped paper with an embroidery thread mane. 

The Quotable Lukas
—“ac-tu-awwy …"
Him about to correct you or explain something
—“ka-zert" = dessert
—“I was bewy nice to dat one kid,” he tells me, of his experience at the “new, new gym” (AVAC).
—“speed bumper” = his term for speed bump

Friday, October 31, 2014

August 2014

First Grade!
—We got the school classroom assignment a few days before school started: Annika would be in Mrs. Casey’s class … while her friends Vilma, Alana and Niamh would all be in another class together. Ooof. I was worried (OK, freaked out, kind of ranty), but luckily had time to cool off — especially since she didn’t seem all that worried about her friends being in another class (“We can play on the playground at recess!” she explained, reasonably).
—The first day went very, very well: R. and I both went into the classroom with her, and it was a well-lit, well-organized, welcoming and happy oasis (quite a contrast to the shabbiness of her Kindergarten classroom, for sure). One of her buddies from last year, Cayli, was in her class, and that was enough for her. :-) Then, when I went to pick her up at the end of the first day, she came out, saw me and gave me a hug, and with arms wide open, said “I love first grade!"
Mrs. Casey is awesome: I am thrilled that my worries about Mrs. Casey (which at root, honestly were worries that the social thing would be weird for Annika) were for nothing; she’s the greatest! Sweet, charming, brilliant at keeping the room under control and all the kids engaged … ahhhhhhh! Wonderful.
—Funny: Mrs. Casey keeps a prize box as a reward system (there are several such systems … I can’t begin to understand them all), and one day Annika’s new buddy Mackenzie (who is new to the school, actually) didn’t get to pick a prize, so Annika made a prize box at home, stocked it with her own little treasures (pencil erasers, stickers, etc.) and took it to school so Mackenzie could pick one!
—Vilma et. al. at recess: As Annika assumed, she and Vilma play together nearly every recess — it’s all good. Sometimes, apparently, she brings this girl Alexis (who is a … well, I’ll call her a Mean Girl, because the other things I’ve called her are very much not nice), and Annika hates her — but they all seem to be working things out, and I’m not interfering. Gosh, that’s hard … 
—Scooter City: From the second day of school onward, we’ve been scootering to school in the mornings, sometimes meeting up with our new neighbors enroute (mom Janeen, sons Grayson, who’s in Kindergarten, and Anders, who’s 2). I push the stroller at a run while Annika scooters; the way back is much more leisurely, and often includes a park stop for Lukas. It gets us to school on time, and is a nice little outing in the cool morning. We don’t scooter home in the afternoons, though — it’s invariably 95 (actual) degrees, and I end up toting both kids in the stroller while they bitch and crab at each other and at me; the air-conditioned car is much better for that trip. 
—New skillz on the playground: Annika’s getting much more confident on the equipment, learning stuff like how to hang from the monkey bars (which terrified her absolutely, as recently as early summer).
—Brotherly greetings: At pick-up time, Lukas drops whatever he’s doing as soon as the door opens, and rushes to Annika (sometimes all the way into the classroom, ha!), to hug-bomb her; he does the same at drop-off, when her class is going into their room after the Pledge — I sneak in one last kiss and “I love you,” and he demands a hug too. It is SO CUUUUUTE how sweet he is.
—New facts learned: Within the first couple of weeks, we could tell (as if we hadn’t already gotten the idea) that this class was going to be much different; Annika comes home telling us all about Venn diagrams, "digital numbers” (i.e. numbers of more than one digit), and so on.
Grandparent-palooza and other fun stuff
With Grandma and Grandpa here, and the kids (rightly) ignoring my and R.’s existence, the two of us slipped away for a one-night “Senior Sauce” — i.e. the first non-childed Sauce since late 2006. It was epic — the band rawked till 3:00 a.m., we drank more than was advisable (and paid for both for like the next two days) — and best of all, the kids were having so much fun, they didn’t miss us at all. I also absconded for a night to a hotel in Lost Gatos, where all I did was read (new books, a 10-month backlog of The New Yorker, etc.) — well, after I got the massage that was one of my birthday gifts from R., ha! A nice break, especially since I knew the kids and R. were well cared for too. :-) 
Friends & such
—Verna playdate: Having met back up with her dance-class buddy Verna at dance camp, Annika wanted to do a playdate, so we did — we invited them over for a swim, but Verna can’t swim, so the kids just ran all over the house like maniacs for a couple of hours. It was fun — she’s a really sweet girl, and we’re glad to count her as a friend.
—Petroglyph with Anne & Grace: Another time grandparent babysitting came in handy! Anne invited us to go to Petroglyph, a paint-your-own ceramics place, with her and Grace. That’s not really Lukas’s scene yet, so he stayed home with Grandma & Grandpa while we went and painted, then hit a candy store and also had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Annika painted a puppy (black, of course), while I made another To Kill A Mockingbird quote mug. I’m gettin’ good at those. Heh.
—Spy Club: Annika has developed an interest in spies and spying (she’s even made her own “spy phone” out of a Tic-Tac box), so she plays Spies all the time, including at a playdate at Vilma’s. It seems to have been sparked (or enhanced?) by these Top Secret Adventure kits she talked me into getting her from Highlights Magazine; they are folders with workbooks and maps and a little book about one country at a time (China was first), and the stuff it asks you to do is really too advanced for her (all this decoding, reference lookups, deduction, etc. — at least fourth-grade level), but damn if she doesn’t plow through, page by page, to figure out the “mystery” and get her “visa” stamped. This is one goal-oriented kid!
—Victor’s party: Annika’s old pal Victor (whom we met at AppleSeed and was in her Kindergarten class) had his birthday pool party at his house across the street from the school. She had a blast with Vilma, and jumped off the diving board like a hundred times.
—Labor Day weekend: Just two weeks into the school year, we had Labor Day off, and the weekend was a great, low-key one with grilling, pool time, and not much else going on. Exactly what we needed!
—Annika the inventor: I almost think we should never buy this kid any tech toys, because when she’s denied one — say, her own iPad Mini — she just makes her own. She did one out of cardboard with a blue back cover for herself, and one with an orange back cover for Lukas, complete with apps, power button, and all; she’ll sit there for quite awhile, swiping this way and that, pretending to make and watch videos, looking stuff up — hell of an imagination!
—Dora and Friends: Into the City: Move over, PAW Patrol — there’s a new queen of our TV, and it’s Dora and Friends. This is a new show featuring an older, longer-haired Dora the Explorer and, of course, her friends (Alana, Emma, Pablo and Naya, a supportive, multitalented, and endlessly collaborative ensemble), and the usual mix of total insanity that makes you wonder if you’ve been taking crazy pills (e.g. dogs that can sing and talk, but only as viewed through a camera phone that was covered in dog-slobber — I am not making this up). Both kids are frickin’ fanatics for this show. It’s … ahh … of limited appeal to adults, but hell, if they like it, I like it.
—A new ballet class: Annika is continuing at her dance school, and this year she’s in a ballet-only class for kids 6-8. We got a lecture the first day about how, at this level, the kids had to have their hair in “a proper ballet bun,” not “just thrown up there,” so when we got home, I watched a YouTube video to figure out — finally — how to do it (it involves bobby pins, a certain pinning technique, and a sort of hair net dealy). She likes the class, but Grace is no longer in the same one (she wanted to go the opposite direction — jazz & hip-hop — and also had conflicts with soccer), which also means I don’t see my friend Anne nearly as often as I’d like, so that’s a bummer — not to mention that Lukas is now the lone little brother, causing mayhem in the lobby … 

The Quotable Lukas
—“Not now! I want some more whiles!”
(a protest at being told it was naptime)
"Ha-wai-oh" = Ohio
—He has memorized several of his most-often-read Critter books, and likes to “read” them to us — SO CUUUUTE!
“that kind of" = how he asks what kind of thing something is (appended to the end, e.g. "What is that bug kind of?”)
—Nonverbal but cute: He’s started pointing and squinting at what he's asking about, with tilted head, as if it is on the far horizon, even if it’s two feet away. Heh.
—“Is dat Dewek Jeter?” Every time a baseball player is on TV … which is a lot around here. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

July 2014

The Glorious Fourth
We got home from Hawaii late on July 1, so we spent most of the next couple of days recovering from vacation jet lag and swimming in the pool, but by the Fourth, we were ready to re-enter the world. First, we went to the Montevideo neighborhood parade (as is now our tradition); we met up with R.’s co-worker Daniel and his family (with shandies for the grown-ups and juice for the kids), and a good time was had by all. Then we came home, grilled & swam, and eventually got ready for the city-sponsored fireworks in Almaden Lake Park. We walked over with the stroller about 15 minutes before the start time; it was crowded, but we found a great vantage point right near the entry (which also made for a better exit). The fireworks were awesome — just the right length of a show for the kids, super-loud (due to proximity and geography), and the perfect capper to a great day. 
—We went swimming nearly every day.
It was a very hot, dry July, and I more or less stopped bathing the kids — we’d rinse off Annika’s hair, but that’s about it. Swimming pool counts as bath! (Especially in this drought. Very responsible of us.) —Vasona Park: I took the kids on a couple of local field trips, and Vasona Park was a highlight. They have really cool playground equipment (e.g. a WWII bomber — just the structure, no guts), a restored old carousel (Lukas was terrified the first time he rode it, but then wanted to go again and again), and a little train that made about a 10-minute loop around the park (which both kids LOVED).
—Mini golf: Ray took the morning off of work one weekday and we all went to play mini golf at GolfLand. It was kind of hilarious — the kids were better at it than I’d imagined! But it got hot toward the end, and we were glad we’d come early.
—Visiting Precious Preschool: With the idea that Lukas should start some kind of preschool in the fall, I took both kids to visit one that is a)very close to Annika’s school, and b)comes highly recommended by several of our friends. It was just about perfect, but there’s one big problem: They won’t take kids who aren’t fully potty-trained — which leaves our Lukas out. [sigh] Annika is vehement that we not send Lukas to Appleseed, so we’re kind of at an impasse for now. Still, good to know there’s a good local option.
—Dance Camp and Camp Galieo: Annika went to two weeks of local day camp this summer, which happened to be back-to-back the last two weeks of July/first of August. The first was at her dance school: Dance Around the World, with a different style of dance each day (plus crafts and such), and a performance at the end (it was great! so cute!). Camp Galileo was at her school, and this year she chose the Road Trip theme — it was all about Route 66; they built cardboard cars, made roadside diner signs, etc. She really loved it, and is looking forward to doing it again next year.
—America’s Got Talent: Both the kids got really into watching the show with Daddy. Lots of fun in general (including the one where they heard the song “Baby’s Got Back” for the first time, because the opening line — “I like big butts and I cannot lie” = COMEDY GOLD — seriously, they both repeated that for weeks, collapsing into helpless laughter each and every time).
—The earning of badges: From sources unknown, Annika got very into the idea of earning badges for awhile. She had me print some out from the Daring Book for Girls, requested badges as souvenirs from every place we went, and made dozens of her own (for herself and for her friends). She said she wanted to joint the Girl Scouts — for the badges. I will wait and see how long this obsession lasts.
—Homemade helicopter: Springboarding from her obsession with Paw Patrol, Annika spent a couple of weeks designing, building, and improving a helicopter out of cardboard boxes and bits. This sucker had a back rest, multicolored dials and buttons, a working joystick, front and back rotors, a windshield, foot pedals, side panels that opened to reveal the engine — and she painted it blue, of course. Lukas was allowed to ride in it, sometimes, but not to wear the goggles she also made (which she wore while flying the helo, and while doing engine maintenance). Amazing. 
Playdates and Other Social Events
We arranged a few get-togethers — one at Grace's, the blonde mafia (Alana & family, Vilma & family) here in the pool, etc.
—Mike and Angie visit: Our friend Good-Looking Mike (GLM) and his fiancé Angie, who is about 6 months pregnant, came down from the city with their large, gentle black doggie for a day of swimming and grilling. Our kids were on their best behavior — which is always nice for expectant parents to see. :-)
—Grandma & Grandpa arrive: Near the end of the month, the Dorks came for a visit; the kids were, as usual, out of their minds with excitement and filled with plans for the next couple of weeks. 
Lukas tells us all the time how big a boy he is, but OMG he is fighting potty training like the very devil, and really wanted to keep the pacifier — although when we started the same method we’d used with Annika (cutting it just a little eensy bit more every day, and saying it couldn't be fixed), he gave it up after about two nights. So … there is hope for the potty? 

The Quotable Kids
"Hey! I was just doin' somethin'!" (protesting his innocence as I found him trying to open a package of SweeTarts)
—Spider-Man everything: The little guy names everything SpiderMan (e.g. a SpiderMan school, his imaginary Spider-Man puppy, a Spider-Man train, etc.).
—“Hobercrack”: His interpretation of “hovercraft.” 
—“Gummy”: His interpretation of Gumby.
Annika: “Vikini”: Her interpretation of “bikini.” 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

June 2014

End o’ the School Year
—Another lost tooth:
Annika has now lost all of her front teeth, and is starting on the sides. The Tooth Fairy is having to work pretty hard these days!
—Mathea's birthday party: Annika’s friend Mathea had her 6th birthday party at the aquatic park in Morgan Hill while Mamalah was visiting, so R. took her and Mom and I stayed here with Lukas. Annika was fearless — jumping off of diving boards, splashing around in the water, etc. At a shift change, a lifeguard said she needed to do a swim test to be allowed to stay in the lap pool, so she just knocked out a 25-meter lap like it was nothing (she’s been doing that at swim lessons, having moved from the baby end of the pool), and earned a bracelet showing she was OK to be in that area. Go, little mermaid!
—Kindergarten park day: During the last week of school, all of the K and TK classes took a field trip to a local park, about a one-mile walk from campus. I went as chaperone, and it was every bit as chaotic as you would expect a five-hour stay at a sun-drenched, bathroomless playground for 150 5- and 6-year-olds would be. But she had a fantastic time, and slept like a rock that night, so it went much better than I anticipated. Even Lukas enjoyed himself, barreling around on equipment that was much too big for him — he seemed to really dig the chaos. Oi.
—The last day of school: I think this was a bigger deal for R. and I than for Annika … she was glad to be getting done with the school year, but it wasn’t a big momentous thing. After we picked her up, Lukas and I took her for ice cream, and then we came home and got into the pool — a good end to a good first year. 
Dance recital week
So the week after the end of school was more or less entirely given over to preparation for Annika’s dance recital — rehearsals, picture day, dress rehearsal, finale rehearsal (all of which involved separate trips to Campbell, at very specific times), and finally the recital itself.  We decided to go ahead and take Lukas — it was a gamble, because he’d behaved like a feral monkey at dress rehearsal (and I’d had to remove him to outdoors, where — luckily — we’d found a skate park nearby and he had stared in total fascination at the “big kids” skateboarding), but he did really, really well. Annika’s dance was ADORABLE, and she was clearly enjoying being up there on stage — all smiles, nailing all the moves, having a great time. She was also thrilled to be in the finale (her group had been too young last year), and for the next month would keep adding finales to just about everything. We got some great pics of the little dancer, who says she wants to take the summer off and then do “ONLY BALLET” next year (instead of the combo ballet/tap class she’s been in these two years). All righty then! The only drawback of this recital was its timing — it was on Father’s Day, and it meant that we had to sell our tickets to see the Yankees in Oakland (bought months ago, because of its being Derek Jeter’s last trip out here, before we knew which one of four recital programs her dance would be in … a one in four chance, and it was the jackpot). Ahh, well! :-)
Annika’s interests these days
—Blue is Annika's favorite color:
After years of PINK ONLY AND ONLY PINK, Annika has decided that blue is her favorite color. Now nothing but blue will do.
—Maximum Maxi Dresses: The Blue Rule goes double for the new style of dresses she prefers: the maxi dress. I bought her several, based on her Frozen love, all of which touch the floor or almost do. They’re ALL SHE WEARS. There is sadness upon the land if a destination or activity doesn’t fit the maxi dress. There is sadness when laundry must be done. Only maxi dress can stop the sadness.
—Engineering: Influenced by the omnipresent PAW Patrol, she decided she wanted a helicopter — so she built one from a cardboard box. It has multicolored buttons, seat cushion, etc. (all fashioned from paper, cardboard, and about six thousand yards of scotch tape). It is painted blue, has top and back rotors and front windshield, and is openable at the sides to reveal the engine. Note proper safety goggles, also handmade; they come in handy both while flying the helo and while attending to mechanical maintenance with power tools (including a Spider-Man pincer thingy and a "drill" from a Home Depot kids' set).
Lukas the hilarious
We’ve started getting pizza after dance class every other week or so, at this great new NY pizza joint. One evening while we were waiting for our order at the counter, Lukas wandered off and when I looked for him, he had climbed up into a booth with a family who were eating their dinner. I found him sitting there, smiling all around, acting like he was their third kid, just makin’ friends … they were charmed, and he thought he was hilaaaarious. Heh. 
The second half of the month was the most fabulous: We were in Hawaii! 
For the first couple of days, both kids were total bastards. The flight went OK, but as soon as we got there, they each became their worst selves — Annika whiny and prone to meltdowns, Lukas stubborn and difficult and both completely unfixable by any means we tried. They didn’t like all staying in one hotel room the first night (neither did we, but in the planning stages, it had seemed like the right call after the 7:00 a.m. flight, rather than driving on to Hilo that day), they hated the drive across the island to Hilo (we rather liked it — lunar landscape, little-seen vistas, fog and rain at the summit), they hated the house in Hilo (it was really weird and janky, but that’s Hilo, unless you want to pay $500/night for something super-luxe), the food was all wrong, there were no swimmable beaches, etc. etc. etc. to infinity. They were miserable, and they made us miserable as well.
There was a big slide — curvy and two stories high — at the hotel in Kona. It was a little scary, but Annika did it with R. — and then again and again by herself. That’s our brave girl!
Volcanoes National Park was great. We joined a short walking tour, saw some of the extinct calderas, watched smoke rise from a distant, active one, and enjoyed the visitors’ center. We're looking forward to longer hikes once the kids are older (and not being bastards).
Underwhelmed by the east/Hilo side of the island, we cut our visit there short by a day and drove back across to our home base in Kohala (the Fairways Mauna Lani). We stopped on the way for malasadas at a famous little restaurant (amaaaaaazing), and made a short detour to Waipi’o Point, this astonishing lookout high atop a cliff, where you could see the lines of where tsunamis had struck in the past. But we were all so thrilled and relieved to be “home” when we finally got there — we just ditched all our bags, put on swimsuits, and hit the beach club. I didn’t even ask R. if he wanted a beer from the restaurant — I just went up there and got us one. Vacation rebooted!
The bizarre magic of Paw Patrol: Safely back on familiar turf, R. finally got it out of Annika that one of the things making her miserable was that she didn’t have her customary 2 episodes of Paw Patrol to watch each evening. Well. At that point, we would have given them each a pony and a wad of candy bigger than a Volkswagen if it would have improved their (and thus, our) moods, so R. bought some episodes on the computer and set the kids up. It was like MAGIC. Magic. They weren’t perfect the rest of the time, or anything, but balance in life was restored and they more or less quit acting like demons from hell, so — win!
Annika was an ace snorkeler, this trip; she had her own mask and fins (and R. went ahead and bought a set for himself, given that he would need them for two weeks this time, and hopefully many times after), and she just took to the water like a born mermaid. The two of them would go out for 45 minutes to an hour, once or twice each beach day, swimming far out, going around the point at the edge of the cove, etc. It was amazing to watch. One outing, when R. was teaching her to free-dive in the channels between the coral, she even came face-to-face with a manta ray — a big one, which R. estimated had about a 7-foot wingspan. She surfaced immediately and kind of fled back to the beach, but half an hour later, she was back in the water. Wow! She also worked on boogie boarding, and a little bit of stand-up boogie boarding (“surfing”) with Daddy pulling her along with the rope. She’s got great balance and could stay up for pretty good distances. Maybe next time she’ll want a surfing lesson for real!
Lukas the robot/Giant Alex: Lukas went in the water a lot, and loved it, but didn’t have quite the stamina that Annika. Often, he would stomp around going “Fi! Fum! Giant Owex, here I come!” — which is his version of a Paw Patrol episode where one of the pups has a dream in which a little kid — Alex — turns into a giant and says “Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! Look out, here I come!” If Annika’s fins were not in use, he would put them on, to enhance his stomping; occasionally, he would mix it up and be a robot (wobot) instead.
The luau: We went to a big luau at the Fairmont one night. The show was pretty good; the kids were really wowed by the fire dances, although Lukas was a little scared by some of it and needed to sit with Daddy for most of it. They both got big Polynesian temporary tattoos (part of the cultural education before the show started) and ate chunks of coconut hacked apart by a machete, island-style. Annika loved the music so much that she asked for (and received) the soundtrack. 
R. and I, as always, can’t wait to go back — so much of it was so awesome — but given the tetchiness of the kids even after we discovered what ailed them, plus Annika’s newly-developed fear of flying (she threw up during our landing in San Jose, poor kid), we’re going to have to work on them first before we attempt it again. Whew!

The Quotable Lukas
—“Gween Gwob-win”
aka The Green Goblin, one of Spider-Man’s many nemeses
—“NO! I WANT DADDY! DADDY DO IT!” … and variations on a theme (e.g. “NO! YOU go to wuhk! DADDY stay home wif Wukas!”). He’s in a major, major Daddy phase.
—“I burped my butt!” His rather original term for farting. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

May 2014

Family social life
—Aunt Amy’s 45th birthday party:
We hosted a movie night for Aunt Amy’s 45th birthday in early May. We moved the couches all into the movie room, and Annika and I decorated (a concession stand, a walk of stars, a marquee that said HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMY!), theatre light string, etc.). The feature was Ghostbusters, at least for the grownups; meanwhile, upstairs, the more recent Frozen was our babysitter (the kids watched it in our room, and it worked really well — although when it ended, I heard Lukas crying at the top of the stairs, because as he told me when I reached him, "You need to put on more Fwozens!”).
—A visit from the Villari family: Our college friend Alex (whom we hadn’t seen in years) and his wife Amy and their two young boys were vacationing in California from Brooklyn, so they swung by for a visit the day after Aunt Amy’s party. Annika was awesome — having one of her best Perfect Child days, heh — and Lukas was great too, even when calmly but stubbornly defending his toys from the slightly-younger AJ (the older of their kids; the other is a 5-month-old baby). It was so good to see them all!
—Mother’s Day: Annika made me four gifties, including a tea tray (with tea bags, cookies, and flowers, made with Daddy’s help), a lovely card, a picture frame she made in school that said #1 MOM, and a flower in a little pot. Later, we managed a successful restaurant outing, to the Fish Market for dinner; it was super-crowded and we had to kind of snag our own table in the bar area, but the kids held it together and we all actually got to eat, yay!
—Swim playdate with the Carneys: On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we had the Carneys over for a swimming-and-grilling afternoon. Lots of fun, with the kids all getting along and having a blast, and us able to eat at the table outdoors since the days are getting longer now.
—Daddy’s birthday: Daddy got pretty much exactly what he wanted from the kids: They were good all day long, they made him cute cards (and Annika made a little birdhouse as well), and they sat up with us to a late dinner complete with two kinds of chocolatey cake (one vegan, one definitely not).
—Mamalah’s visit: As part of her Christmas present from us, Mamalah flew out from Texas for about a week near the very end of the school year. She napped when Lukas did, and hung out with the kids the rest of the time, displaying massive amounts of patience with crafts (e.g. a puppy made out of yarn … “simple!” said the kit …) and Paw Patrol (see below).
—Memorial Day weekend: We spent the holiday weekend almost entirely in the pool — it was a hot one — and ate almost nothing but grillage the whole time. Nice and easy all around! 
School days
—Art Show:
There’s a program at Annika’s school called Art Vistas, and for each unit, the kids make a different kind of art; at the end of the school year, they have a big art show featuring at least two items from each kid. We went after dance class on the big day, and saw Annika’s items: A fish portrait, and a handmade ceramic bowl. She was super proud of both, and it was cute to see how excited she got to see them, in among the many displays. 
Athletic and other accomplishments
—Pitching for the Yankees:
From all the baseball on the TV this time of year, Lukas has developed this hilarious pitching stance, including the stomping foot and the big windup, usually wrong-footed so that he has to hold on to furniture to stay upright while he’s doing it — which he does every time he’s about to throw, which is almost constantly. The kid has a hell of an arm. Also he’s finally learned to catch — not every time, but he gets it, and can more often than not make the play.
—Annika the hula hooper: They have hoops on the playground, though Annika had never quite got the hang of hula hooping. But one Friday this month, it all came together for her, and then she did it all weekend long (there was even a bruise on her hipbone from the constant thwapping of the hoop she has at home) — she added all kinds of moves with the thing, too! Impressive.
—The latch hook rug: I told Annika one night about the latch hook rug my brother made in 8th grade (an orc), and then she wanted to try it. I thought she’d probably dig it, so we went to a craft store and got her one. Now … as with a lot of these half-remembered crafts, I forgot how although it’s not exactly difficult, there’s kind of a knack to it, so we had a frustrating half hour or so until I revived my rusty skills well enough to help her do it, and then she just took off with it. She worked on it for nearly two hours the first day, making pretty dang good progress, then put it aside to work on later — and she keeps picking it up from time to time, hooking another line or two. It’ll look good when it’s done!  
A new sheriff in town
We are now blazing through all the shows on Nick Jr., and the current King of Shows is a computer-animated Canadian import called PAW Patrol — or, as Lukas calls it, PAW Control, which is apropos because I’m pretty sure it actually does involve mind control. They both frickin LOVE this thing — the deal is, there’s this kid, a teenager (?), named Ryder, and these six “pups” (always pups, never puppies, or dogs) who have special skills and equipment (e.g. there’s one who’s a police officer, and the one female pup flies a helicopter), and they “save the day” in and around “Adventure Bay.” It’s super, SUPER annoying for adults, but as I said, the kids love it, and it’s not offensive or anything — just nails-on-chalkboard irritating if you’re over age eight. I hear the theme song, lyrics included, in my nightmares. 

The Quotable Lukas
—“Ian [on Olivia] was bein a ghoster! He was scarin all of dem!"

—Countdown mashup: “One, two, paghetti, go!”
“pa-pan-o” (piano)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

April 2014

Frozenmania continues, intensifies
So now they’re going around calling themselves Prince Lukas and Queen Annika; she identifies more with Elsa than Anna, apparently, and has added Prince Lukas to the story, which he’s only too happy to agree with. She swans around the house in an outfit she made herself: the black “heels,” a light blue printed dress, a beautiful white hand-knitted afghan that one of Grandma’s friends sent us as a baby gift (she wears it around her waist, tied with a loop of nylon material from her potholder loom under her bustline, Empire-waist style, so that a long corner of it drags the ground), her lavender satin gloves (that she goaded me into buying at Target), her hair in a French braid and topped with a light blue satin headband. The braid, BTW, is ever-present; she won’t even go braid less at night, and now all her little school friends are doing it too. We heard “Let It Go” on the radio one day, and she listened, enthralled; when it was over, she asked me how it got on the radio, and when my explanation was unsatisfactory, she theorized that somebody “stole it and snuck it onto there.” They both sing the songs from the movie more or less constantly; she offered, kindly but seriously, to teach me the words after she heard me get them wrong once, as if this were a matter of Great Import. And in addition to her previously established "rain powers,” she now maintains that both she and Vilma have "wind powers.” 
The Wildflower Run
On Sunday, April 13 — the Wildflower Run! The kids’ 2K race was first; as soon as Annika and I both got checked in and got our bib numbers, we all headed over to the track. We’d practiced several times at the local high school, so she knew she could do the distance, she was used to running on a track, and she knew how they calculated laps (with a lap marker — they picked up another with each lap). She was excited but not nervous, and she KILLED IT! I had made a GO ANNIKA GO sign, which she saw as she finished her first lap (and her whole face just lit up!). She ran most of it (while Lukas, strapped in the stroller, was dying to run along with her and the other kids), and ended up placing 52nd out of 98 total; her time was 15:02, and she only missed 3rd place in her division by about 30 seconds! She got the medal that she'd been wanting since last April, and training for since Christmastime -- I can't imagine a face happier, prouder or more thrilled! (In the 5K shortly after, I was 11th in my new division — women 40-49 — which is down one from last year, but my time of 28:11 was two minutes better than last year. Woooo!!)
Lukas joined in the egg dyeing for the first time, and predictably, he mostly got the colors mixed together in unfortunate ways in the cups. But we all had fun doing it; Annika created two different “Frozen eggs,” with a paintbrush and the blue dye. Easter morning was, of course, the egg hunt, which both of the kids loved. Some four or five dozen eggs were hidden around the house — it was all we could do to keep everybody upstairs until they were dressed, they were so excited. We let them eat a couple of treats before breakfast, even! For the whole next week, they went to the baskets for treats and snacks. Lukas got extra sneaky — one morning, he sort of disappeared, and when I went downstairs looking for him, there he was, elbow-deep in Annika’s basket (his was put away out of reach, anticipating just this type of scenario), with a melting chocolate egg in one hand and multi-colored Skittle juice dribbling down his chin. 
A day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
We didn’t really have much planned for Annika’s spring break, until she came up with a great idea: going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! (She knew about it from commercials on Nick Jr., of course.) So R. took a day off, we loaded up and headed down there — and we ended up having an awesome time! We stayed in the little-kid rides area, ate corn dogs and fries for lunch, and even got a few minutes on the beach. The weather couldn’t have been better (not too hot, not cold), and it wasn’t crowded until we were ready to leave anyway. Both kids LOVED riding the rides; Annika even went on the Ferris Wheel with me while R. took Lukas to get on the baby belugas ride all by himself. Altogether a great day, and since we bought the kids season passes, we look forward to doing it again. 
Annika’s activities
—Alana's Frozen-themed birthday party:
Annika’s friend Alana’s party was at her house, with mostly just the girls (and Jason Lee) from her class invited. They have a trampoline, which was great, and the grownups got mimosas (even greater).
—Bike riding with no training wheels: She is working so hard to learn to ride without training wheels! R. took her out a few times and said that she’s getting better (I think it’s because of how good she’s gotten at riding the scooter).
—The Multicultural Faire: Her school had a Multicultural Faire with booths for 27 of the countries represented among the student body. A number of groups did little performances (e.g. singing, karate, traditional dances); a group of kindergarteners had rehearsed at school for the previous couple of weeks to do a song and dance to represent Mexico, which of course Annika was thrilled to participate in. About 25 of them ended up in the show — SO cute!
—Another trick on the playground: She learned how to go down the spiral thingy on the play structure at school, which she’d been kind of afraid of. Yay courage!
Feats of Lukas!
—Scooterboy: The kid is physically adept — and he wanted to keep up with Annika on her scooter. So R. found the best three-wheeled one and ordered it, and we got him a helmet and he just took off. He can really make that thing go, although he’s not clear on how to steer it (by leaning; the T-bar is fixed, not the kind that turns) so he runs it off the sidewalk into the grass a lot — which doesn’t seem to bother him. He just steps off, rights his course, and keeps going.
—Pedaling the trike: He finally learned, sort of, how to power the tricycles we keep out on the back deck. He can’t steer it (this one does use handlebars to steer!), but again, he’s happy just to be on it, and doesn’t care if he’s heading toward the edge of the deck or the wall or whatever.
—Starting dance class: He loves music and loves to dance, so I signed him up for a Friday-morning class at Annika’s dance school (also, it’s the only activity of any kind that I can find in the South Bay that doesn’t require parent participation!). The first day was … not so good. He was super-shy, clinging to me and refusing to join the eight or so little girls in tutus for all the animal-walking, spinning and whatnot. But the next week was Annika’s spring break, so she came with us, and that seemed to be the push he needed — he got out there on the floor and really shook a tail feather. Seemed to really love it this time. Then we didn’t go for two weeks (studio spring break, then it conflicted with Annika’s Kindergarten musical at school), so … we’ll see how it goes the next time.
—Singing: He loves to sing, and lately, when it’s not the Frozen soundtrack, it’s Yo Gabba Gabba! or, even funnier, the Olivia end song, which he does with all the right rhythms and pauses and whatnot; there’s not much funnier than hearing that on the monitor in the morning when he’s just waking up. And speaking of his waking-up business:
—He calls for Annika first — not us — in the mornings. He knows who to hit up for books, and she can open his curtains and all that, plus her response time is so much quicker than ours. Heh. 

The Quotable Lukas
—"Mommy? Daddy? Where are my paaaaaannnnts?” (him quoting The Lego Movie, which he has not seen, but Annika has)
—grampagrampa and gramma

—Oh toast! (Excitement for the toast popping up, every time)
—We’re here! [and] Are we there yet? (picked up from watching Olivia)
—Sure! (affable, reasonable agreement to whatever)
—Ducks onna pond! (Every time we go past Almaden Lake Park, in re: the ducks, geese, and/or seagulls often sitting on the water) (And the variant: Duck onna grass!, which he exclaimed upon seeing a large blackbird on the grass in front of Subway)
—I’m not mean, I'm just Lukas! (response to Annika saying “You’re mean!”)