But, this blog is not about my work life. It's about Kailey and Alden -- so, let me give a bit of an update on their last month.
Maybe the place to start is New Year's Eve. We ended up throwing a big tamale/enchilada party on NYE. I made a ridiculous amount of food: corn tamales, beef tamales, vegetable enchiladas, cheese enchilada verde and chicken enchiladas. Plus homemade rice and beans. It was enough food to feed like 50 people. And we had about 12 people over. Plus us -- that makes 16. It was still really fun. We rang in the east coast new year (we are afterall middle aged people with young children -- one cannot expect people to stay up until midnight). But, then, one of the families that was over DID stay until midnight. I, of course, fell asleep on the couch before the midnight countdown. I've never been able to stay up late -- not even when I was young and childless. Other families left around 10 PM. So, for us, it was a bit of a rager (again, think middle aged. Kids. That kind of rager.) As folks left we joked that everyone should return in the morning for brunch to eat the rest of the food.
Then, one of the families that hadn't made it to the NYE party because of a flight delay texted the next morning about getting together. I replied that we had a ton of leftovers and they should come on over. And, since they were coming over, I decided to just invite everyone who had been at our house the night before and another family that also had to miss out on the previous evening due to illness. To our surprise, most everyone returned and we ended up having an even bigger bash on New Year's Day. It was wonderful weather (this is Sacramento -- it's already springtime here!) So, we built a fire in the outdoor fire place, made tortillas out of the leftover masa, ate the leftovers, watched the kids play on the playground (man, they love that thing) and celebrated the beginning of 2018 with our favorite Sacramento families. It was really nice. It was great to say goodbye to 2017 -- which, for us personally, was not a terrible year... but was a complete disaster for the country at large. And, it was nice to reflect on the community we've built in the last few years since moving to Sacramento.
We took most of the rest of the first week of January off. Kailey didn't have school that week. Alden only had school for a couple of days. And, really, that's why the rest of January was so busy. Taking 3 weeks off work means coming back to 500+ emails and a stack of work so big that it takes a month to crawl out from under it. That, plus that number of crazy things that blew up as soon as the new legislative cycle opened -- and, my month was completely subsumed. I went back to work on Friday, January 5th to a day of back-to-back meetings starting with a roundtable at the Capitol where I was presenting on a very controversial topic and trying to upend something the state is trying to implement. There were about 80 people at that meeting and it was explosive. Welcome back to work!
Anyway, back to my non-work activities for the month. Because it's already spring (seriously), we've spent a lot of time in the yard. We're tilling new paths, getting ready to lay bark and gravel (under the playground), planning some additional trees to plant, and improving the playground. Kai has really gotten into playing on the bars at school and Eric spent a Monday evening digging a hole and pouring some concrete to put in a gymnastics bar for her coming off the playground. Now the kids can be found outside most weekend days and weekday evenings swinging and playing on the bars. I don't remember playing on our playground as much when we were kids -- although, I know we had a really nice playground in the back. But, Kailey and Alden LOVE being on the playground and spend hours back there making up games. They have picnics out back, taking chairs from indoors and hauling them up into the little fort. Actually, many things from the kitchen go missing and end up in the fort. It's a bit annoying, from my standpoint, but amusing if I take the longview of the whole thing (something I'm not always good at doing).
Although we've been enjoying the mild spring weather (remember, we're talking January here) -- Kailey turned to me the other day and said, "why is it so warm already? I am NOT ready for the hot summer." And that is the downside of where we live. The winters are oh so short and mild -- the summers sooooo long. And hot. We've so enjoyed our fireplace this winter. We've had fires constantly and it's so cozy hanging out in the living room, playing games, watching videos, and enjoying the warmth of the fire (as opposed to the blazing hot sun of the summertime). I think we're all wishing we could have another month or two of a bit of a chill in the air.
When it is cold in the morning (and, we're talking like 40 degrees cold) the kids complain so bitterly about the weather. We call them California soft.
This has also been a busy month for new activities. Kailey got into a play at school -- they are putting on a production of Alice in Wonderland and she auditioned and got the part of Lobster #1. It's a really cool program, actually. The Sacramento Theater Company comes into the schools and works with the kids to do a full production. There are auditions and rehearsals and costumes and sets. Then, the actually show is held at the community theater and they get to do the show twice over the course of a weekend. People in the general public can purchase tickets and go to the shows. It's really very cool. And, Kailey is absolutely loving it. It has been a chance to meet new kids (her main friends are not in the play) and do something that she really enjoys but that also intimidates her a bit.
In addition, we signed both Kailey and Alden up for swim lessons and gymnastics classes. Those are back to back on Saturday mornings. Alden has not been a fan of the swim lessons. The first class, we had to force him into the water and he howled and cried the whole time. It's gotten better from there -- he now goes into the water without crying -- but, he still says he doesn't like it. Driving to swim lessons this last weekend, we called Nonnie and Papa and I asked Alden where we were going. He said, "swim lessons... which I HATE." Later in the week while I was driving Alden to school he said, "why do I go to swim lessons?" I said, "well, it's important to learn how to swim... and it's fun when you learn." Then he said, "well, they are NOT good at teaching... I still do not know how to swim." It was hilarious.
Alden is full of funny statements lately. When his hands have gone to sleep he says, "my hands are bubbling!" He also keeps talking about his "second Christmas" and "second Halloween"... as in, "when my second Christmas comes, can I have more candy?" At first I was confused, and then I realized that he really only remembers the last Christmas and Halloween we just had. So, to him, he's had one Christmas and one Halloween... and he's anticipating his second Christmas and second Halloween. I tried to explain to him that he's had FOUR Christmases already, but he wasn't buying it.
On the topic of Halloween, he turned to me just yesterday and said, "on my second Halloween, can we have Peter and Nina and Eramiste over again?" I told him we could invite them and he said, "but NOT Nina's grandma." I asked him why and he said, "because I had to trick or treat with Nina's grandma and I only want to trick or treat with mommy or daddy." On Halloween, we had split up for a bit of the night and I took the bigger kids (Kailey and her friends) around while Alden stayed with the little kids (and Nina's grandmother was assigned to be Alden's buddy). Apparently, 3 months later, Alden has reflected that he did not like that arrangement!
What else? Kailey has really become a big kid this year. She's managing her schedule, homework and activities in a whole new way. At the beginning of the year, we were really having to stay on her about all her tasks and activities. There was a lot of fighting and a lot of tears. Now, she has more of a routine. She comes home in the evening and dives into her homework. What was taking hours (and I mean, HOURS) to do is now generally done in an hour. There are fewer tears. And, she knows her schedule for each day. Kailey does a lot -- she has orchestra, art class, Alice in Wonderland, swimming, gymnastics and homework. There are lots of tests this year and 4th grade is a big year for friendships and the start of more cliquish behavior. That, plus a big new school... it's been a big adjustment. But, these days, she really has a handle on most of it. It's been fun to watch her grow into an upper elementary student and navigate the additional responsibilities.
Kailey and Alden are both very busily planning their birthdays already, too. Kailey is going to have a campout birthday party -- we will pitch tents in the backyard and have a sleepover. Alden changes his mind on his party on a daily basis -- he has wanted a rainbow party, a green heart party, an ocean party and a horse party. Maybe we'll just mesh them all together and have a party without a theme (a radical idea in this day and age of parenting via pinterest).
Hopefully I'll post again before their birthdays arrive.