Sunday, November 19, 2017

September 2017

Labor Day weekend
The month got off to a bang with an absolutely ferocious heat wave — well over 110 for several days in a row, hitting a high of 113 on September 2. Good thing we had the pool — we pretty much lived in it, and what socializing we did, was out there as well — the Carneys came over, per tradition, for grilling and chilling. On the hottest day, we knew the kids weren’t getting to sleep in their oven-like rooms, so we had a late family movie night with family sleepover, in which the kids slept in sleeping bags on the floor of the movie room and R. and I huddled in the guest room with fans on — if you don’t have AC, laying low, literally, is the only thing to do in a situation like that. The next morning, the kids discovered a massive ant infestation in the dining room and kitchen — so that was the next couple of hours, killing, cleaning up, setting traps, etc. Ugh. So — fun, minus the ant army … 
Fun stuff
—Girl Scouts Coastal Cleanup Day:
Annika’s troop joined a big volunteer day effort to clean up the waterways around the area. They were assigned to a park that had a creek, and spent a Saturday morning picking up garbage — educational and useful!
—Lukas and daddy start piano: Now that Lukas is the same age Annika was when she started learning piano, we signed him and R. up for the parent-participation beginning keyboard classes at the community center on Saturday mornings. He did really well, and seemed to enjoy it — he was really proud of what he’d learned.
—Art and Wine Festival: This year, we knew to go early, and Manir’s family (Ami & Ritesh, Manir, and Amira) came over and walked to it with us. It was easier and so much fun to go as a group — the kids really had a good time, and we grownups sampled the beers and turned into easy touches for buying the kids stuff. Heh. 
Travel weekend
The second-to-last weekend of the month found us all over the place. Annika’s Girl Scout troop went on their big weekend camping trip (we packed everything according to the list, including food and equipment, etc.), and she had a great time (and fell asleep in the car on the way back, according to the troop leader). I went to Portland with Anne, a long-delayed girls’ weekend that we planned just for fun; we ate well, slept relatively late (8:00 a.m.!!!), and I got to go to the greatest bookstore of all time: Powell’s City of Books. R. and Lukas stayed home, having a good time on their two-dudes weekend, mostly eating pretzels and watching Star Wars. 

—Sparenheit and Celsius
(the two temperature scales, according to Lukas)
—"Is he in heaven already?” (Lukas upon seeing an ‘80s picture of Elton John; Annika likes him now because of “I’m Still Standin’”)
—“Lydia Lemon Markoff is your name.” (Lukas the human mashup-maker)

Monday, November 13, 2017

August 2017

School days are here again
—Last day of summer:
We were invited to a summer’s-end party at Anna & Ella’s, which went pretty well for Annika but involved a lot of crying from Lukas … [sigh]. And then we went home and I dyed the kids’ hair again — Lukas’s an allover bright red, and Annika’s just a few inches of bright turquoise at the bottom; both very cool looks that got a lot of fun attention the next morning.
—The first day of school: It was a good first day for both kids. Lukas liked his new classroom and teacher (Mrs. Goldman, formerly Miss Emmons), and there were 8 kids from his TK class there, so he had friends already. Annika went in with the confidence of knowing all there was to know about her class and teacher, so she was just excited to see her friends again. That afternoon, we went for ice cream in Willow Glen (and met up with the TK friends), skipping karate just this once. 
All-Around Annika
—Harry Potter event at Hicklebees:
A local independent bookstore had a Harry Potter trivia contest for all ages, so I took the kids and they were on a team with a half-dozen other kids from Annika’s class — all in their House robes, with wands at the ready. The team did well but didn’t win any prizes (unless you count the books we bought at the end, lol).
—Hiking Quicksilver with Mr. Dinh and classmates: Early in the month, Mr. Dinh organized a hike for whoever was around, and so Annika and I joined them; Raina and her mom and sister were along for what turned out to be a 5.5-mile loop that we (mostly) got in before the worst of the day’s heat … whew!
—Girl Scouts Camporee: This was a kind of trial run for the camping weekend coming up in September. The troop went for an entire day, returning well after 10:00 p.m., and hiked, ate s’mores, etc. Annika really enjoyed it and is looking forward to the longer trip. 
Lukas Life
—Emmett’s birthday party:
Emmett’s party was at one of the neighborhood pools, and was on a long hot afternoon. Lukas did great, even if I did have to yell at him a time or two for playing too rough.
—I’m back: A couple of weeks in, I started volunteering in Lukas's class on Wednesday mornings. I am one of two parents helping with the small groups, and it’s really good to get to know Lukas’s classmates and see how his teacher works. 
This & that
—Solar Eclipse 2017!
We kept the kids home for the morning to view the eclipse — you don’t get 78% coverage every time this happens, so it was worth it. They were very good about abiding by the safety rules, and it really was just so cool!
—A visit from the Lendlers: Our friends came down from San Rafael on a little end-of-summer tour of their own, and spent the afternoon hanging out, swimming, grilling, etc. As before, the kids had fun left to their own devices, and we adults got to talk and catch up.
—Aunt Lesley visits: My sister came for a week, and mostly we just bombed around, ate at Mo’s a lot, and chilled — good times! She came with us to back-to-school night since we’d already arranged a babysitter, heh. 

—“Take a picture - knock yourself out!”
(Lukas, hilariously direct0
—“lime-onade” (what he called the beverage we made from the abundance of ripe limes dropped from the neighbors’ tree)
—“Doesn't Annika's hair look like she's queen of the world?” (Lukas making an admiring observation one morning — he was right, too!)

July 2017

Summer fun
We have been all over the place this month, with the only regular stuff being karate and swim lessons. We had a park afternoon with Manir’s & Brayden’s families, we had Alana’s family over to the pool for an afternoon and the Carneys over for another, spent another pool afternoon with the TK families at Manir’s. We got the Summer Games pass again, so we were back to bowling once or twice a week. We went to Niamh & Lawson’s joint birthday party, got into Power Rangers and Pee-Wee Herman, had a really good two-night Sauce at Mike & Heather’s. Annika got into latch-hook in a big way, the kids both went to karate camp at their studio for a week (day camp, not a sleepover thing), Annika and I left Lukas with Grandma & Grandpa for a couple of hours and went to the new tea party restaurant at Santana Row. And of course we all had a great time on the Fourth of July — the parade was fun, the pool was necessary (it was a hot one!), and the cousins came over later in the evening to walk over and see the fireworks with us — Murica!
California on the horizon
Moving to California has long been the plan for Grandma & Grandpa, and we decided it was time to put some weight on that lever. So, P&A and the two of us agreed to just … get them a place to live. That will be in The Villages, a 55+ community they’d toured and really liked some time ago. We contacted our realtor and started shopping, discovered that this really was a viable option, and started planning. When G&G came out for their summer visit, we had a little party on their wedding anniversary and told them our plan to make a gift of it — they were, understandably, quite surprised and thrilled! So now we just have to find the right place. Stay tuned for updates!

What properties describe a jungle?
Lukas’s A: “Vines and sweaty trees and lots of bugs. Oh, and temples."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

June 2017

—Brownies become Juniors:
Annika’s Girl Scout troop had their bridging ceremony in a park near our house, followed by a pool party at the troop leader’s house (the only dry cookout I’ve ever been to … ). She’s not 100% sure she wants to do GS next year, but it was a fun day and the girls & families were all really proud of their growth over this past year.
—Back to the Emergency Room: After years of being allergy-free for milk and egg, Lukas had a reaction to something he ate one evening — the sudden attack of sneezing and welts all over his body was concerning enough to send us to the ER, but as with the other times we’ve seen this, we dosed him with Benadryl and in all the hours waiting to be seen by a doctor, he improved on his own, and so we left without getting him any treatment.
—First belt test: We missed the official belt test night because we were in Hawaii, but on return, we were informed that there was another opportunity to test, so the kids took a private karate lesson to be sure they were ready. We went to the make-up date — and they both got their new belts! They really did so well, and it was such fun to see them demonstrate the skills they’d learned since they started. 
School year ends
The school year was the usual insane blur of activities, with hardly a regular full day in the last month; Annika’s class went to the 3rd grade pool party (at a cabana club pool near campus), I chaperoned the TK/kinder park day (at Parma Park, which had the big advantages of shade and bathrooms, heh), and of course the last day of school was another wild one — short day, with maaaaybe a few tears on leaving Ms. Bingham’s class, followed by our usual treat of ice cream in Willow Glen. 
The biggest event of the summer started just two days after school let out: our two- week trip to Hawaii! There was a bit of drama upon arrival, as the baggage from our flight was delayed by a couple of hours. We ended up borrowing booster seats from the car rental place, and eventually we had all our bags — then it was home to the cation house. We spent almost all of our days at the beach club: I made my long-overdue return to snorkeling (I even bought my own rig, assuming it was going to work out; I needed Annika to swim with me and had to breathe through some would-be panic attacks, but by the end of the two weeks, I was back!). Lukas had his own rig as well, but the red pencil urchins in the water freaked him out completely, so we shelved his snorkeling days for next year. We saw a bunch of turtles sunning themselves on the rocky beach at the Fairmont, and had the rare treat of an in-water turtle sighting at our own little bay. We spent a few days at Hapuna Beach, jumping the waves and swimming in that clear warm water before leaving around lunchtime just as the sun got to full power and the waves got rougher. Thanks to Pokémon GO!, we finally ventured out for a family walk on the fishpond paths near the beach club — that was so cool! Fishponds, weird little cabins, cool plants, different views, and of course, captured lots of new Pokemon. I rented a SUP rig one day and took each of the kids out on it; another day we rented a kayak and paddled around for quite awhile. Annika got sick one night; we tried a new restaurant (The Blue Room) for dinner and stumbled onto a surprise hula show in the shopping center, which was a nice night’s entertainment. We celebrated Father’s Day with cards the kids had made back home, plus a breakfast of donuts from the local grocery. For the first time, we ventured upcountry a bit … and ended up with one of the best dinners of the entire vacation at a place called Pueo Osteria. We spent two mornings building an absolutely epic sandcastle town around our cabana. We had fantastic weather for most of the trip, minus one rainy dinner attempt at the Fairmont … and when we got home, we closed out the trip with a perfect pool day at our house, including a truly gigantic giant pink peacock (quickly named “Peaky” by the kids) R. bought at the pool store that morning. One of the best trips ever … 

“Ma-jeek is Spanish for magic!”

May 2017

All-Around Annika
—School talent show:
Once again, Annika decided she wanted to be in the Los Alamitos talent show, and this time, she recruited her friend Jasmine to dance to a Justin Timberlake song. They spent an afternoon choreographing at our house, then practiced every recess and break they had — and in the end, it was such a cute performance, with both girls in white sundresses and black ballet shoes and a version of the song edited to just under two minutes. Bravo!
—SF zoo field trip: The third grade went on buses to the San Francisco Zoo, which she hadn’t been to since she was not quite three years old. They weren’t there for long (due to the length of the trip) so everyone planned in advance what exhibits they wanted to see and grouped up based on that. She loved it, and now keeps asking to go back! 
Lukas Life
— Mother's Day Tea:
Lukas’s class had a special Mother’s Day tea, to which they invited all the moms and gave us presents and performed a couple of songs — it was so sweet, and the kids were SO excited! Really fun for me and for him.
—Lukas open house: The TK/kinder/1st grade open house was separate from the older grades this year. Lukas was psyched to show us all the work he’d done, and lead us around to all the stations to tell us what they do in each one, and we met some of next year’s TK kids and of course told them all about how awesome Ms. Bingham’s class is.
—TK/Kinder musical performance: The big show of the year! They had a half dozen songs, done on the risers outside on the blacktop. Lukas did great and had a good time.
School Days
So at the Multicultural Fair at school, Lukas “won” four free classes at Victory Martial Arts, and this month he started to use them. He loved it right away, and Annika — who had not planned on that, at all — decided she might like to try it — so she did. The regimented, belt-earning part appealed to her (Lukas liked the outfits as well, heh), and they both liked getting to punch and kick without getting in trouble, so we have signed up for a seven-month term; they’ll go twice a week, and are in the same class, which is nice for the logistics. Fun, fitness, and kicking ass …
—School art show: Both kids had two pieces in the year-end art show. This year, we palled around with the TK gang and made an event of it, with dinner out after — high-energy and kind of exhausting, but a good time nonetheless. 
Family Fun
—Mother’s Day:
Annika was fully in charge of the holiday this year: She planned and helped make breakfast in bed (“eggs on the go” — scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, in a pita), got me flowers, and made lunch. In the afternoon, I took the kids on what actually turned out to be a thoroughly disastrous hike in Quicksilver (they bitched and moaned the whole time, were afraid of wild animals — of which we saw precisely zero, and both fell at least twice … [sigh]), but while we were gone, R. made me his awesome spaghetti sauce with the little savory breadcrumb pancakes for dinner; also they got me a heart cake, and made a poster for the door). I think Mother’s Day gets better every year …
—Daddy’s birthday: It’s hard to do a lot when your birthday is on a Wednesday, but we made a good time of it — the kids and I baked the chocolate-raspberry cake, wrapped presents, and made dinner for R. :-)
—Lendlers visit: The first pool weekend of the year, we had the Lendlers over and enjoyed some of R.’s margaritas while the kids swam and played. Beautiful weather (though not too hot) and a really nice day with friends.
—Memorial Day weekend: It was a big holiday weekend for us. First, my friend Amanda from high school came out to California with her family (husband Drew, daughter Audrey); they stayed the night with us before continuing on their road trip (and our kids fought for Audrey’s attention, of course) — awesome to see all three of them. Then, more or less per tradition, the Carneys came and we grilled out and swam and had another chill good afternoon. 

—“I'm not afraid of spiders. I'll kill it with my Maui hook! We've never had a spider in our house before. They crawl in our water pipes, like the itsy-bitsy spider!" (Lukas tackling the big issues)
—“Hetched it means wenched it, and wenched it means ... got it.” (Lukas explaining his unique terminology)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

April 2017

All-Around Annika
—Sleepover City:
This is the era of the sleepover party, and there were two good ones this month. The first was Alana’s birthday party, where she was greeted in the hallway by a six-foot-tall inflated stormtrooper (which she appreciated much less than I did). The second was Raina’s, with a Harry Potter theme that her family put an immense amount of effort into — there was even a nighttime scavenger hunt through the neighborhood — and Annika pronounced “the best party ever.” The third was Anna and Ella’s birthday party, which was the usual chaotic fun time for all.
—Los Alamitos Idol: Once again, Annika has decided to perform in the school talent show, so she press-ganged another friend (Jasmine) into doing something with her (actual act TBD).
Lukas Life
—Friday fun: We got the TK Boyz together, with assorted siblings, for an afternoon at Amato & the park — first the pizza, then the dashing around while we moms enjoyed a beer.
—Family Fun Night: There was a school fundraising thing at Blaze, a pizza place, so we moms took the kids, got everybody fed & picked up dinner for all of our husbands, and hung out; the evening ended with the kids all doing foot races on the sidewalk with Annika the judge of winners.
—TK/Kinder farm field trip: I went on the bus with Lukas’s class for the same farm field trip that Annika’s K class had taken; these kids liked the pigs and chickens a lot more than her friends had, heh. Lukas actually fed the chickens from his own hand, thoroughly thrilled and proud of himself — so cute! 
Family Stuff
—Spring breakin’:
No trips this time — we stayed close to home and did our thing, which included a fair amount of screen time but also fun stuff like baking bread several times from scratch, and spending a loud crazy afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese with Manir’s family — all in all a nice change from the school-day routine.
gilroy gardens - Lukas rides quicksilver,
—The Multicultural Faire: This year, there was another actual Finnish family, so we handed over the poster-board making and artifact-providing to them, and showed up to help staff the booth. Our new friends were very very nice — it was really good to get to know them and their two daughters (one of whom is in 3rd grade) a little bit.
—Garden 2017: Annika & Dad went out one warm weekend morning and selected the plants, then came back and got to work making this year’s garden: Basil, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, jalapeño peppers, and lots of tomatoes. Can’t wait till we get to harvest whatever the squirrels don’t take!
—Movie night: The kids and I had seen it, but R. hadn’t, so we fired up a movie night with Moana — which is now my favorite recent Disney/Pixar joint. It was a good one for all of us!

—“I hate school - it interferes with my screen time.”
—Annika, with her priorities straight
—“Octamus Prime is the strongest one of all.” —Lukas, re: the Transformers
—“What’s under the cracks in the pavement? Lava and tornados.” —Lukas asking and answering his own question
—“Why are there green cracks on my skin?" —Lukas wondering about the veins visible in his chest

Thursday, September 21, 2017

March 2017

still way behind … cookin’ it up as fast as I can! 
Lukas Life
—Lukas’s 10-penny bad day:
As delightful as most days are in Miss Bingham’s class, there are still some doozies, and Lukas had one this month — involving a semi-meltdown and hitting another kid, resulting in his losing a whopping ten pennies from his jar. His face, when he was released from class, told the whole story before I even knew there was one; he just crumpled into my arms and cried before he told me what happened. Poor kid pulled it together the next day, though; it was apparently a good lesson.
—Getting the gang together: We’ve formed a little crew with his running buddies Emmett and Manir; one afternoon, we all went for ice cream at Rite Aid with the boys, another day we spent the afternoon at Parma Park, etc. Annika goes along with more or less grace, and usually spends her time with Amira (who thinks she hung the moon).
—Annika the reading teacher: Big sister has become concerned with the pace of Lukas’s reading education and has taken it upon herself to nudge him along in the mornings, setting him words to learn and rewarding books read with cash incentives (usually 25 cents per book). As with most things she sets her mind to, this appears to be working, and he actually likes it 
All About Annika
—Beauty & the Beast:
We went with Anne and Grace to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie (the live-action one starring Emma Watson), and then out to lunch after; the theater was surprisingly crowded, so the girls sat together a few rows ahead of us, which seemed to make them feel very grown-up.
—Reaching out: Since Annika seems to be kind of tightly-wound and had been open to the idea of talking with a counselor about her anxiety, we had her meet with a therapist and, on the therapist’s recommendation, take part in a kids’ anxiety group. It really did seem to be good for her, to talk about her fears and anxieties, and be around other kids who were dealing with similar issues (once a week for six weeks).
—Fourth grade, sorted: We got the news that Mr. Dinh would be looping, which means he will be moving to fourth grade next school year and taking the class with him (if they opt in). I wasn’t sure Annika would want to do that, but she positively lit up when she was told, so we are in for 2017-2018! 
Family Fun
—Cirque du Soleil:
R. got us all tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia show, which is all about Mexico — and it was fantastic! We all loved it — so much fun, and nothing too goofy or inappropriate. We’ll have to do that again sometime!
—Guinness party: The Marshalls’ St-Patricks-adjacent party returned this year, and for the first time, we all really got to relax; nobody has to hover over the kids, so they were free to run around and play while we hung out and drank from the kegerator, heh.
—The barfening: These kids really don’t get sick much, but there are exceptions. One delightful evening this month, both of them had some sort of hurling sickness — Lukas went down first, then Annika. They managed to get sick into the toilet and/or their trashcans, not on carpets or beds, so that was helpful … poor kids, though, they were so sick and pitiful. It lasted about 24 hours, then they bounced back.
—Thomases’ party: We went to a little get-together at the twins’ house, catered by Chipotle (some sort of prize-draw win), and for once, we actually got to hang with grownups and let the kids manage themselves! Parties are getting better around here …

—We were talking about poppies — the wildflower blooming all over the place this month — and Lukas asked: “Do they grow up into dogs?”
—Annika re: recasting all the roles in new Wimpy Kid movie: “The kids have grown up, and the parents are like ... really old, or … R.I.P.” (Particularly funny to us, because the actors in the first run of movies are just a few years older than R. and I … )
—Lukas requested "Salty water. You know that kind with bubbles that goes fizzzz." Seltzer? 😂
—Lukas re: Michelangelo, in the Lego Batman Movie: “Mikey-langelo"