Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Help Us

We are not big on Christmas.  I don't really think this is a problem.  Kai gets a lot of attention, plenty of presents, and we have a lot of really fun family traditions (especially around Thanksgiving and Orange Food Day!)  And, of course, her birthday is a month-long extravaganza every year (which is likely to become all the more rockus once her baby brother has a birthday just a couple of weeks before hers.... I'm being optimistic and assuming our little eggplant (that's his size at the moment) stays put until April!)  We also have a wonderful holiday tradition of traveling to Timerbline and living it up in the lodge.  Most years we have a fireplace room and spend the days drinking hot coco, skiing, hot tubbing, swimming, and eating the delicious (at least in recent years) lodge food.

Which is to say, we have traditions around the holidays that we all really love.  But, Christmas is not really among them.  And by that I mean what a lot of other folks associate with Christmas. We generally don't get a Christmas tree (we are usually in Oregon for most of the holidays, so it has never made sense... I don't have anything against Christmas trees).  We don't have a Christmas morning tradition (last year we were in a Yurt, the year before we were at Amy and Dave's house, sometimes we do presents, sometimes we don't really do presents.  Sometimes we do stockings, not always).  There is no annual visit to Santa Claus and we have never really spent any times talking to Kai about Santa.

In general, we try to be honest with Kai -- without overwhelming her with information.  And, to us, the whole Santa thing is not in line with the philosophy of being honest.  So, we've never dwelled on Santa.  We didn't go out of our way to tell her that Santa does not exist.  We just didn't say anything about him -- we never mentioned the idea of Santa.  We just celebrated the holidays without a Santa and without making a big fuss on Christmas morning.  Instead, our holiday is stretched out over many days as we travel from home to home, exchange the occasional present, stay at a world-class lodge, and mix it up with different adventures for the entire break.  Santa isn't part of it.

Kai has brought Santa up before -- but, not in a questioning way.  She would just say something about Santa and we would ignore her.  But, kindergarten is a whole new world and the other kids are Santa-believers to their core.

Which led to the conversation we had with Kailey about a week ago when she woke up and said, "you know, Santa can see us when we're sleeping and when we're awake."  Creepy, right?  We both protested immediately, telling her that Santa isn't watching her every move.  She insisted that he was and that he was coming down the chimney to bring her presents on Christmas if she was good.  Not being able to help ourselves, we pointed out that we don't have a chimney.  Kai paused and said, "well, he comes up through the vent in our hallway then."  At that point, we decided to ignore her.  Clearly, 5 Christmases without a mention of Santa and without ever having received a present from Santa was not enough to overcome the myth as it is powerfully presented by the elementary school masses!

A few days later, Kai turned to me and said, "Is Santa real?"  Feeling like a total grinch for the conversation a few days before, I decided not to answer her directly.  I asked her if she thought he was real and she said she did.  We let it go at that.

And, as it turns out, this year we are celebrating a much more traditional Christmas which will play into her newfound belief in all things Santa.  We will be home on Christmas morning, so we got a tree that is quickly accumulating quite the stockpile of presents.  We have a bunch of things for her stocking.  Initially we thought we were not going to Timberline, so we were just trying to do some things that were special at home.  But, now we are also going to Timberline and staying at a hotel in Portland for several nights beforehand.

We also took her to the San Francisco Nutcracker the other day -- which is quite the event.  It's at the Opera House and is really quite an amazing show.  We got all dressed up, arrived early so we could take a picture with some of the dancers beforehand, and eat dinner at the restaurant at the Opera House.  Kai whispered all through the performance, and has been talking about the snowflakes and the sugar plum fairy for the last couple of days.

In other words, this year has quickly become an over-the-top extravaganza complete with all things Christmas plus a lot of extras including performances, hotels and lodges (and, of course, the pools), traveling, skiing, and visiting family.  I think we are setting ourselves up for trouble.  All I can say is, hopefully Kai is right and that Santa is real... because I'm not sure we can sustain our ever-growing holiday tradition without him!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

And the Hip Hop Performance...

The next week was Kai's Hip Hop performance.  She has been less enthusiastic about Hip Hop class, I think mostly because none of her closest friends are in Hip Hop.  She had been saying for weeks that she doesn't want to do Hip Hop anymore and that she wants to take ballet instead.  However, just the other day she found out that Talia (her "BFF"... did you know that 5 year olds use acronyms?!)  is going to sign up for Hip Hop, so now she is all about it.  In fact, now she wants to take Drama, Hip Hop, Club Jam, Ballet, African Dance, AND go to Spanish School.  Oh, and more gymnastics at Head Over Heels.  She is going to have to be a bit more choosy.  I think she wants to do most of these things based on which other kids are also doing them -- at this point, Kai still is a bit of a generalist.  She likes most everything she does.  She isn't particularly into any particular activity... she's just happy to be with her friends and learning various things.  I think that's probably a good thing at 5... but, at the same time, I am not going to sign her up for SEVEN activities!

Anyway, the Hip Hop performance was at 4:30 in the afternoon -- better than the 1 PM drama  performance but, geesh, how do they expect working parents to get to all these things?  The winter concert next week is at 9:30 in the morning!  School hours and functions are not designed with the idea of a life outside of school in mind.  Anyway, Kai's part of the performance lasted 1 minute.  But, it was a cute minute -- and she was quite proud of her "handstands".  
The Hip Hop performance was on a Tuesday, and on Thursday of that week Kai was supposed to join her Spanish School classmates for their winter performance and fiesta (a nighttime performance!  How novel!)  Anyway, I picked her up from school a little early so we could get ready to go -- but, when we got home, Kai burst into tears and said she didn't want to perform and she didn't want to go to the fiesta.  I was a little torn because I felt like her teacher was expecting her, but -- Kai isn't one to turn down a party and I could tell she was just tired.  And, quite frankly, I was feeling a bit worn down by all the work, travel and school function juggle as well (this last week, I was in LA one day, Sacramento two days, and Kai had two performances... it's a lot to try to fit in!)   So, we decided to have pancakes for dinner and watch videos instead.  Turns out it was a good decision -- her meltdown was a prelude to illness... the last couple of nights, Kai has had croup and today she is feeling under the weather. 
This weekend we are all hoping to catch up on a bit of housework and take a break.  Here's to resting!

Drama Performance - Part 2

And here is the second half of 3 Little Pigs.  I have to say, I like how the instructor has them perform in groups.  There is no pressure on a single child to remember lines, and it was a HUGE help to Kai to have her classmates up there with her.  So clever and a great way to build confidence among the kids that are a little crowd shy. 

Kai has already started her second drama class -- next session they'll be performing the Elves and the Shoemaker and Kai is SO excited because she gets to be one of the three shoemakers (with her best friend Talia!)


The end of the semester brings with it a multitude of performances -- particularly because Kai is in a lot of different after school activities, and it seems that each one has its own final performance.   I was particularly excited about Kai's drama performance.  When we signed her up for drama, I wasn't sure that she was going to like it.  She isn't big on performing, and when I mentioned the class to her she said, "no, I don't want to do that.  I don't want people watching me."  However, the description of the class was that it was a very low key introduction to performing, and it was the only class available on Wednesdays right after school -- and I was trying to fill her afternoon.  Without a class after school, it meant 2.5 hours of Adventure Time before someone would pick her up and take her to Spanish school... which is too much Adventure Time, in my estimation.  Adventure Time is really aptly named because it is a bit of a free for all.  She's in with all the other grades -- so there are 50 - 100 kids (it's hard to tell how many because they are running all over the playground and then in the AT classroom, which is generally PACKED).  I have no idea how they keep tabs on everyone.  The door to AT is always open and the kids come and go from the classroom as they please.  They have a couple people supervising the playground chaos and a couple supervising the classroom... but, it really requires the kids to be watching after themselves a bit.  Kindergarten is really such a BIG change from preschool!

Anyway, I digress. I wanted her to have a class on Wednesdays.  Legos was full - so, drama was the only option.  I signed her up and crossed my fingers that she would take to it.  And, it quickly became her favorite after-school activity.  Kai would come home and tell us all the hilarious stories from drama and talk about the funniest parts of the play they were preparing.  A few times, she expressed apprehension about doing a performance, but as the classes continued and she got more comfortable with the material, she got more excited.  I was supposed to be in Anaheim doing a training on the day of her performance, but the more she talked about drama, the more I wanted to be there to see the performance that had her so excited.  So, I canceled my trip and asked my colleagues to fill in for me so that I could be at school on a Wednesday afternoon at 1 PM to see Kai's first drama performance.

Here she is part 1 of her debut performance (it seems that blogger is making me post each segment separately.  So annoying). 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's a BOY!

We had our 20 week ultrasound today and got to get a peek at the newest member of our household -- in all HIS squirminess.   Yes, his.  It's a boy!  We are really excited.  Kai said, "this is great! We'll have two girls and two boys in our family."  I couldn't agree more.

Just like Kailey before him, this baby squirmed through the ultrasound, kicking away and moving around to try to get away from the tech's wand.  Our kids are high energy -- no surprise there!

Even more important than the gender, the scan revealed that everything looks great with the baby.  The email I got from my doctor after the ultrasound said,

"Dear Angie--The ultrasound looks great. Placenta location, cervix, anatomy all look normal. The baby looks on the large side but that would be fantastic if the baby comes a little early :)"

In terms of the comment about the baby being on the large side -- the ultrasound technician told us that by her calculations (based on the baby's head size, femur, and some other measurement), they thought the baby was measuring ahead and would put the due date at April 4th (his due date is April 10th).  I'm pretty confident that we have the due date (of April 10th) correct... so, what that means is that the baby is just on the bigger side which, as Dr. Calhoun says, is great news when we are concerned about prematurity. 

Here's the first good picture of our newest little one!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Settling into Kindergarten

The transition to kindergarten has definitely been more of an adjustment than I anticipated.  Kai has always had such an easy time with transitions.  Even last year when we threw her into Spanish school as the new kid in class and the only one in her class that didn't speak a word of Spanish, she adjusted really quickly.  The first two weeks of Spanish school were fully of tantrums and tears -- but, after that, she embraced it.

We are beyond two weeks into kindergarten -- but, it's only been in the last couple of weeks that it feels like she is beginning to adjust.  The first couple of months were hard... nightly temper tantrums, a lot of cuddling needed, and a big increase in defiant behavior.  Kai said she loved kindergarten and her teacher, but every night she would come home and fall apart.

I think it's been the adjustment to real school -- there is a lot less free time during the day.  In preschool, there are lessons and, of course, she was constantly learning the language -- but, there wasn't nearly as much desk time.  Kai isn't really one for sitting at a desk for protracted periods.  She can be extremely focused -- it's not a lack of focus -- but, she likes to work on her projects standing up, and she moves around a lot, and talks while she is working.  She talks to herself, talks to the person sitting next to her, jibber jabbers and makes up songs.  She likes to be moving.  And talking.  And doing.  All at the same time.  So, adjusting to kindergarten -- which requires a lot of listening, sitting, and working quietly -- has been hard.  And, I think the result is that Kai is at her wits end at the end of the day when we ask her to do any of her nightly chores. Homework, setting the table, getting ready for bed, taking a bath -- all taken as monumental tasks that we are asking her to take on and we're often met with flat out refusal.  Which, of course, results in consequences.  Which results in Kai rebelling against the consequence.  And she also started coming into our room every night again at midnight wanting to sleep in our room -- which, after months of sleeping in her own bed -- was a bit of a regression. It's been a challenge.

Of course, her adjustment should have been completely anticipated. She has long days.  And she's being asked to do a lot of new things and adjust to a lot of new rules.  And there are a lot of kids that she's dealing with -- both in her class, but also in her extracurricular classes and the daycare program after school.  All we have to do is take a walk in the neighborhood for me to see how big Kai's world has gotten -- we can't go more than a block or two without some other kid shouting out, "Hi, Kailey!!"  She knows everyone.  And she knows everyone because she's at the school a lot.  Interacting, listening, following rules, navigating complicated social relationships, learning new things... it's a lot.

So, we've been more patient at home.  More indulgent of screen time.  Helping her with homework.  Doing her chores with her.  Talking about what's going on.  And, Kai has been good about communicating.  She'll say, "I'm just so tired," and we know she is and that she needs a break.  So, we try to give her those breaks while also maintaining our expectations.  A bit of a balancing act.

In the last couple of weeks, though, it seems we're turning a corner.  She's been really helpful in the evenings and willingly doing her homework.  She's been wanting to play games and talk about her day.  I read the most helpful parenting tip about talking to your kids -- ,instead of asking your kid "how was your day?" which, apparently, is not how kids think and not a question they can really wrap their heads around, we say, "tell me a story from your day."  Kai LOVES to tell stories from her day.  She'll say, "ummmm... " as she thinks through the stories of the day and then blurt out, "I can tell you TWO stories..." and then she dives into stories from her day.  We are actually getting to learn a lot more about what is going on, just by changing the question.

So, I've been reading up on other tactics like that, trying to figure out how to help Kai with the transition and make sure that as she's digging into her school life, she's enjoying it.  We want her to like school.  Since the beginning, she has said she loves it and all reports from school are that she's happy... but, the nighttime struggles were making us worry.  Now, though, we're hearing the stories, she babbles on about drama and funny things that happen at school, she's happy again in the evening, she's sleeping all night in her own room... it feels like we're settling in.

I think we've just been lucky at how easy Kai has been with most transitions and, really, what we've been dealing with the last few months is probably just minor adjustment issues compared to many other kids.  But, for her, this has been a big change -- and I'm really glad to see her settling in and finding her groove.  Growing up is hard.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name...

The other day, we took Kailey out to a fancy dessert diner after dinner for a treat.  This place was pretty cool.  When we walked in, we were greeted with display cases of amazing cakes, pastries, pies, and other delectables.  Kai's eyes widened and she started hopping around from case to case trying to see what all her options were all the while ohhhing and ahhing at her spectacular choices.  She immediately started to try to tell Eric and I what we could get (she's a bit bossy sometimes).  We told her to focus on her own choice, which was clearly not easy for her.  As she was trying to decide, they brought out a massive chocolate cake:

(this wasn't what it actually looked like -- but, it's close.  The cake we saw was actually more impressive).

Kai's eyes got even bigger and she shouted, "I want THAT one!"  We said OK and got in line, giving her about 8 more minutes to reconsider her choice.  When we got to the front, Eric said, "that cake might be really rich... let's ask what's in it and make sure you'll like it."  Kai agreed and asked the waiter what was in the cake.  He told us it was chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache.  We told Kai she would like it but she quickly said, "no... no... I don't want that.  I'll have the yellow cake."

That struck me as boring, but also as something I would have picked.  And, she was excited about it -- so we settled on the yellow cake with the chocolate buttercream frosting while Eric and I split a cream puff (I love cream puffs!)

Once we were settled and eating, I asked Kai for a bite, which she happily obliged (she's really great about sharing).  "Yummm.... the buttercream frosting is so good.  It almost tastes like chocolate mousse,"  I said to Kai and Eric.  We continued eating but after a few more bites, Kai announced she was full (it was a MASSIVE piece of cake).  As we were leaving, Kai grabbed the sleeve of a busboy and said, "excuse me, what is in this cake?" holding out the yellow cake for him to inspect.  He looked confused, so Kai clarified, "is there mousse in the frosting?" she asked.  "Oh, no... that's just buttercream."  He told her.  Kai nodded and we left the restaurant.

As we approached the car, it finally hit me, "Kai... did you think there was an animal... a MOOSE... in that cake?"  I asked her.  "Yes... that's what you said.  It was a MOOSE cake."  I felt like we were in an Amelia Bedelia book and started cracking up.  "No, no... mousse is different then a MOOSE... one is a dessert made out of cream.  The other is an animal."  Kai started laughing and said, "OHHH... I thought that cake was made out of a MOOSE... that's why I didn't want it.  That would be so gross."

Yes, yes it would.

Halloween recap

As I mentioned in my last post, our Halloween celebrations this year stretched out over the whole month... but, of course, culminated in the big day.  And, it was quite the day this year.

The weekend before, we went to the parade in Piedmont with one of Kai's school friends (as I previously posted about).  After the parade, Kai declared she wanted to be a witch for Halloween.  We had told her before that she could have multiple costumes because there would be a lot of different events (2 parades, school party, and trick or treating), but she had insisted that she only wanted to be Sleeping Beauty.  However, at the parade, Giselle came as a witch and told Kai that for school, she was going to be a cat.  Hearing from a friend that multiple costumes were the thing to do, Kai decided that she, too, needed more than one costume.

Of course, this meant finding a witch costume on the Monday before Halloween.  Amazon to the rescue.  We looked at various costumes together, rejecting most of them (too big, too little, wouldn't ship in time, I didn't like it, she didn't like it...) and finally found something that looked OK.  Thank goodness for 2-day shipping.

Party day finally arrived -- that's what it was... one big party after another.  The teachers have figured out that teaching on Halloween is pointless.  Instead of real school, the kids got to listen to stories, play games, have treats and pizza for lunch, and then school ended with a school-wide Halloween parade.  When we got to Kai's class for the festivities she was quietly eating pizza and the entire class was quite composed -- not what we were expecting since we've heard rumors that they are a rambunctious bunch and that Kai is one of the social ring leaders.  But, they were all quietly enjoying their pizza.  After lunch, the kids played Halloween Bingo and then it was time to change into their costumes for the parade... which is when things got a bit more hyper (keeping them out of their costumes until parade time was also quite smart).

Kai loved being with her friends and talking about their costumes.  It was quite cute to watch them all comparing notes about their costumes and talking about their plans for the evening.  Kai got invited to some parties... but, we already had plans to trick or treat with Penny and Max, which she was quite excited about.

After school let out, we headed down to Montclair Village for the parade. They got to trick or treat at the local shops, loop around to the park, and then have a party climbing on the fire truck and eating some of their candy.  In past years, this was about as far as we got on Halloween.  And, the Montclair Halloween festivities had always sort of freaked her out -- there were a ton of school-aged children running around and cramming into the stores for their candy, and Kai had been too small to really participate.  That, and she didn't know anyone, so she hung back.  But, this year, she WAS one of the school-aged children, and she had half her class with her.  They paraded proudly down the middle of the street acting like a bunch of teenagers as they whispered secrets, traded candies, and debated about which stores to hit up.

After the Montclair festivities, we headed home to get ready for the grand finale -- night time trick or treating, something we had never done with Kai before.  We headed to Sarah's sister's house to meet up with Sarah, Doug, Liz, Riley and their kids (we had 4 kids trick or treating accompanied by 5 parents!)  It was really fun to be out at night and seeing all the houses with their creepy decorations.  By the end of the day, Kai had a HUGE bag of Halloween candy and was completely exhausted, falling asleep in the car on the way home.

A few days after Halloween, I had Kai at her bi-annual dentist appointment.  When the dentist asked Kai how everything was with her teeth, she announced, "I have a LOT of candy at home!"  Note to self:  Don't schedule dentist appointments for the week after Halloween.

All in all, a very successful Halloween (and, bonus -- no cavities!)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Preview

It's Halloween month -- and as Kai gets older, we seem to spend more and more time celebrating our favorite holidays (her birthday, Halloween, and Thanksgiving... and, there are always our travels in December and Timberline).  Anyway, each holiday is eagerly anticipated and it's fun to get ready for the big day with Kai.  This year, we bought a bunch of Halloween decorations for the yard the first week of October, and had fun decorating around our house -- especially the path along the public stairway that many kids take to and from school.

Next, we had a pumpkin carving party with Sarah, Penny and Max.  We made Halloween treats for the party including these apple slices that looked like they had teeth and eyes, mummy hot dog roll ups, spider dip, and pumpkin cupcakes (which the kids decorated).  And then there was the pumpkin carving, which everyone loved.  The pumpkins the kids carved were pretty impressive.  It was a fun party!

This weekend we went to the Halloween parade on Piedmont Avenue.  The kids get to trick or treat at all the stores along Piedmont until they get to the cemetery at the end of Piedmont Avenue, which is a massive place with a lot of park-like spaces.  In the cemetery they have jumpy houses set up, food trucks, a pumpkin patch, and other games for the kids.  We went with one of Kai's friends from kindergarten (who is also on our soccer team).  It was really fun -- and Kai already has more candy then we know what to do with. The parade goes right by Kai's Spanish preschool, so Eric posed with some of Kai's teachers (Kai refused to get in the picture).  Eric invented his costume moments before we left for the parade -- cutting off the top of a pumpkin for a hat and grabbing a scooter out of the basement.  He was Mr. Pumpkin Head Scooter Guy (according to Kai).  His costume was a big hit.  And Kai was Sleeping Beauty.  We talked about being other things -- but, she is still really into the princess thing.  Big time.

This week there is a Halloween parade at her school, another parade/trick-or-treat opportunity at the shops in Montclair Village, and then trick-or-treating with Penny and Max on Halloween night.  And, after that, we'll have to purge at least half the candy when Kai isn't looking.

Happy (early) Halloween!

Baby Announcement

The day we got back from our Epic Trip, we got a bit of news -- that I was pregnant.  We were really excited but also nervous, thinking about all we had gone through with Kai in her infancy.  But, mostly we were excited.  And especially excited to tell Kailey.  However, we didn't tell her right away.  We wanted to go to the doctor first and make sure that everything looked OK.  Amazingly, she didn't really seem to pick up on all the baby talk over the next several weeks as we waited to see my doctor.  Or, if she did, she didn't say anything to us.

After our first appointment with the doctor, where we were able to see the gestational sac (it was too early to hear the heartbeat at that point -- but, we've since heard it several times) -- we prepared to tell Kailey.  I took another pregnancy test before we told her.  And we had an app on the iPad that talked about pregnancy and gave a week-by-week update along with photos.  

We all sat down and told Kai that mommy had taken a test that tells us whether there is a baby growing in mommy's uterus (we like using the correct terminology -- and Kai knows babies grow in uteruses, not bellies).  We showed her the box of the test, and that it had to have a plus sign if there was a baby growing in mommy's uterus.  Kai asked us what the test said, so we showed it to her and asked what she saw.  "A plus!" she said and then she got a look of total shock on her face and looked at us, looked at the test, looked at us again and then said, "Are you being serious?"  Clearly, we joke with this kid too much!  We told her we were totally serious and that the plus sign meant there was a baby growing.  Her face lit up and she flashed the crooked smile she has used since she was a baby when she was really excited about something and announced, "I'm going to be a SISTER!"  We told her it was really early still -- and that a lot has to happen in a pregnancy, but that it was our hope that she was going to be a sister.  Kai jumped up to hug me and then backed away and said, "Can I still hug you? Or will that hurt the baby?"  I scooped her up and squeezed her tight and told her we could definitely still hug.  

Then we spent some time looking at the baby app and how small the baby was -- the size of a grain of rice when we told her.  We told her we were not telling other people yet -- there is a size guide on the app, and we told her she could tell other people when the baby was the size of a plum -- which was around week 12. 

Kai nodded while also lamenting how many other fruits we had to get through (blueberry, raspberry, grape, date, and fig) before we reached the plum stage.  And, of course, over the next few weeks, Kai would come home from camps or other activities and let us know that she had forgotten and had told someone about the "baby growing in her mommy's uterus" -- which is how she always announces it to people.  It's funny. Overall, though, she did a good job of not telling many people.

Kai would ask me as the weeks went by -- how big is the baby now?  We'd pull out the app and look it up -- and Kai would count the number of fruits left until we could tell people.  The morning we hit plum, she was so excited.  And yet, when we called folks to tell them, Kai refused to tell the news.  Apparently the anticipation got the best of her! But, she is very excited about everything and loves to learn what the baby is doing as we pass through each week.  It's fun to talk about it with her.  

Now I'm about 16 weeks -- I feel like this pregnancy is going really slow, probably in part because I keep waiting for symptoms of pre-eclampsia or other complications.  It makes it a lot harder to just relax and be zen about the whole thing.  But, Kai's excitement about being a sister is keeping us all excited.  Hopefully, in another 24 weeks or so (I'd be happy with anything 20 weeks or more from now) we'll be welcoming a new person into our home!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Routine

We are beginning to settle into our fall routine. For Eric and me -- this is little changing.  But, for Kailey, it's a big transition.

It's not really about starting kindergarten.  After all, Kai has been in a very school-like setting for the entire last year.  And, it's not the long days.  Kai has been doing all day daycare (as in 9 - 10 hour days) since she was a year old.

Rather, it's the fact that she no longer has one program/setting that she is in from drop-off until pick-up.  Her routine is really varied -- a necessity since kindergarten gets out at 2:15 (and they call that "full day" kindergarten.  Not in the working world it's not!)  So, she's done with school at 2:15, but there is no one to pick her up for nearly 4 more hours.

Thornhill has a great enrichment program -- various after school classes that are offered to provide the children with various experiences (dance, music, languages, arts, science, etc) and there is also Adventure Time (which is a lot like daycare -- it's pretty much free time in one of the classrooms or on the play equipment outside).  I didn't want Kai to just have playtime -- so, we've cobbled together enrichment classes, Adventure Time, and Creative Spanish (the after school spanish class that her preschool teacher runs).

What this really means is that every day, Kai has a different schedule.  I find it disorienting and worry about how she is adjusting to moving from one class to another and -- three days of week -- getting picked up by various people (I also had to cobble together a transportation schedule) and going to Creative Spanish.

This morning after dropping Kai off, I was kicking myself because I forgot to go over her schedule for the day.  But -- in usual Kailey fashion-- she is rolling with the busy schedule.  And, she LOVED hip hop today. Hopefully she'll love Drama and Club Jam as much as she liked hip hop.

But, seriously -- for five, this kid is busy.  Hip Hop, Creative Spanish, Drama & Storytelling, Club Jam, soccer and swimming.  In addition to full-day kindergarten and homework most evenings.  Right now Kai is chilling with a PBS show (after spending the evening helping me with a variety of chores with nary a complaint).

I get frustrated sometimes by whining or her spaz attacks --but, when I look at how much she does and think about how WELL she does, I am really amazed by her adaptability, her willingness to jump into new activities, and her incredibly good-natured attitude.  She is such a great kid.

Love that Kai.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Parenting lessons

Yesterday, I picked Kai up from her second day of kindergarten at noon (when school gets out this week... ugh) and headed to the grocery store to get some dinner fixings.  At the store, Kai asked for popsicles and a couple of fruit leathers, which I let her get.  In the car on the way home, I let her eat one of the fruit leathers.  Then, once at home, she asked for the other one, which I let her have (admittedly, I was trying to work and wasn't paying that much attention).  A bit later, she asked for a popsicles and I let her have that too.   It was early in the day still, and it's just fruit leather and popsicles.

That afternoon, as we were driving to BART to get Eric, Kai said, "I have a tummy ache."  I told her I was sorry her tummy hurt and she said, "you shouldn't have let me have so much sugar!"

I tried not to laugh and said, "so this is my fault?" 

Kai responded, "YES!  You're supposed to say NO when I asked for TWO things with sugar. And you didn't.  You said yes and now my tummy hurts." 

Whoops... next time I'll know.


Lately, Kai has been really into magic.  The last two nights, she has wanted to do magic shows with Eric (he is the other magician, I'm the audience member).  She has a box full of magic supplies (mostly just trinkets she has gathered from her room) and she likes to make them disappear and reappear. 

Of course, the way she does this is either (a) to tell us to look away while she does the magic; (b) try to distract us while she is shaking the object in her hand and then throw it out of her hand quickly when she thinks we are not looking; (c) place the object inside another container -- again, while making faces at us and telling us we aren't supposed to see that part. 

My favorite is when she throws something across the room because, after tossing the item, she does this grand display of splaying out her hands and turning them palms up and palms down with this look on her face as if to say, "wow! nothing in my hands!"  It's hilarious. 

So, yesterday, she's doing a magic show with Eric and he has gotten a couple of limes and dice that look the same and has planted things around the room in advance of the show (and without Kai noticing).  In the first trick, Eric was playing around with a lime and told Kai they had to dance around the room to make it disappear.  Of course, she's distracted dancing around and doesn't notice Eric get rid of the lime.  Then, a moment later he, pulls the lime he stashed out from under the couch.  Kai's face LIT UP.  She was so excited that the trick actually worked.  She tried to keep it together and pretend like that was what she was expecting to happen --after all, it was her magic show.  The whole thing was hilarious.

Then, this morning while we are eating breakfast, Kai turns to me and says, "where did Daddy learn REAL magic?"

I love that she still believes in real magic.

Favorite Phrases

Kai has a few funny phrases that she uses all the time:

"My heart is beeping really fast."

"We were playing bone and arrows at school."

"The cat what was sitting outside.." (the "what was" is always used in place of "that was" -- it cracks us up).

Soon she'll outgrown all these little alterations of common phrases... but, for now, we still get a kick out of them. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

1st Day of Kindergarten

Our summer came screeching to a close. Kai basically had 4 weeks of camp:  Spanish School for a week, Doug's house for a week, gymnastics camp, and then back to Spanish School.  Kai continues to be such an adaptable kid -- the varying schedule week-to-week doesn't phase her at all.  Although, the last week at Spanish School was a bit trying.  Kai was acting out quite a bit -- which, for Kailey, means being excessively hyper.  Think, "why are you hitting yourself" on constant repeat.  Or just being a general spaz.  We suspected she was amping it up in anticipation of the summer ending and school starting.  Verbally, she would say that she was excited about kindergarten.  Her actions confirmed nervous energy boiling over.

On Friday, Eric took Kai to Thornhill for the kindergarten "meet and greet" -- a chance for the kids to sit at their desks, see the classroom and meet the teacher before the big day.  Thornhill has 3 kindergarten classrooms -- and Eric and I were hoping she'd get Mr. Thompson for a couple of reasons.  First, his classroom is in the main building, and we thought that might make her feel more like part of the school (the other 2 are in portables).  Second, because Mr. Thompson is a mister... and we both thought it would be good for Kai to have a male teacher.  Just to mix things up a bit.

So, anyway, Eric took Kai over to the school on Friday morning (I had to miss it... I tried so hard to schedule things around the meet and greet, even canceling a day in Los Angeles.  But, alas, a couple of meetings I couldn't miss got set in Sacramento for that morning.  Argh). Eric told me they rolled out the big bulletin board with the teacher assignments listed.  I was sitting in my meeting in Sacramento and got the text, "Mr. Thompson!"  Woo hoo!!  They went over the the main classroom, and Kai was thrilled to find her desk with her name on it, a pencil box with her name on it full of pencils and crayons and scissors and glue -- all with her name on it!  And, she had TWO cubbies, which she was pretty excited about.  Eric sent me a picture of her getting settled in:

Kai's initial reaction, other than being thrilled about her desk, supplies and cubbies, was "I have a BOY teacher?!"  But, we reminded her that her swim teacher is a boy and that there are lots of boy teachers in the world.  And, with that, she was fine with it.

This weekend, Kai got her goldfish ribbon at swimming-- she is now a Puffer, and learning how to do the official freestyle and backstrokes.  The rest of the weekend, we just worked around the house and talked a lot about kindergarten starting on Monday.

On Sunday night, I read Kai three books about starting school.  She went right to sleep, crawling into our bed at about 6 in the morning.  It was funny because she slept through the night just fine.  I spent the night tossing and turning.  Not because I was worried about her at school -- I knew she would be just fine.  But, I think I was anxious about the change nonetheless.  I've never had Kai's propensity for adaptability.

Kai woke up at 7 AM this morning and said, "I have to go to kindergarten today."  I cuddled her and said, "you GET to go to kindergarten today!" and she giggled.  For breakfast, I let her have hot chocolate (and regular breakfast items, don't judge) which she loved.  Then she got dressed, grumbling a little about the shoe policy (you have to wear closed toe shoes if you want to play on the playground equipment... thank you, Thornhill!)  Then we took some pictures outside:

As we were taking the pictures, we saw other kids walking along the road on their way to school, realizing it was time to go!  Ahhh.. the beauty of living across the street from the school.  The sounds of the other children streaming down the public stairs and across the road is like our own personal alarm clock!  2 minutes later, we were at school!

The playground was overrun with parents and kids, getting into the line-up and taking millions of photos.  We got right in on the action:

Then, her teacher appeared (as well as the other kindergarten teachers) and they said good morning, gave a few announcements (mostly reminding us that school let out at NOON this entire week and telling us to be on time picking up our children!) and a few minutes later, the kids marched into school behind their teacher and were off for their first full day.

When we picked Kai up, she was in high spirits.  She got to eat lunch at school, take a tour of the campus, draw a picture of herself, and get acquainted with her classroom.  She spent the afternoon being a total spaz again -- but, we're assuming that will ease off in a few days.

Next week, the transition continues as Kai starts her after-school classes (hip hop, cooking, percussion, spanish, and maybe a drama class).  And, she also has the "adventure time" after school after her various classes on the days she is not at Spanish School after school -- or for the periods before she gets picked up for her Spanish School program.  I think it's going to take her a bit to get used to the new schedule.  But, luckily, the adventure time folks help get the kids to their enrichment classes and then into adventure time. So, she'll have adults helping her get from activity to activity.

It was a great first day-- and we're hoping it's the sign of a great first year.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Epic Journey Part VI: IPNC

The last part of our journey was in Portland, OR at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, to have some quality time with Leo and Soren (and, of course, Amy and Dave -- although, they are quite busy during the course of the weekend, which is why we are there!)

Getting to IPNC was no small feat.  Wednesday, July 24th was our longest travel day.  We woke up at 7:30 AM in San Juan, Puerto Rico and landed in Portland at 11 PM at night.  And, then we had to get from the airport to Amy and Dave's house, where we were crashing for the evening and getting a car to take up to IPNC the next morning.  I think we got to Amy and Dave's house at about 12:30.  So, it was a 17 hour travel day.

Kai did great the whole time.  The backpack o' fun that we bought her for the trip was really a stroke of genius on our part (if I do say so myself).  She was so excited about the various art and craft projects, and she waited SOOO many months to get to play with the little stuffed mermaid we bought her that she had hundreds of stories ready to be acted out with the doll.  Even during our 5 hour layover in Chicago, she just played games or watched shows on the iPad.  Of course there were bits of whining interspersed throughout the day, but no meltdowns (or really anything approaching a meltdown).  Maybe it's just a matter of being 5.  Such a big girl!

She did give us quite a scare getting from the airport to Amy and Dave's house. We decided to save about $30 and ride the Max to downtown and then catch a cab downtown to their home.  We boarded the train and got about 4 stops along when some guys got on the train that were pretty wasted (likely meth) and acting out.  We had quite a bit of stuff with us, each of us loaded down with 2 backpacks and then an additional carryon.  But, we decided we should probably move to the other end of the train just to get out of the way of what was likely to be trouble.  So, we told Kai we were moving down.  She misunderstood us and thought we said we were getting off.  We were passing by the doors of the train when it stopped and Kai ran off.  We were still on, since we weren't planning on exiting.  I screamed Kai's name and she jumped back on, right as the doors closed behind her, nearly giving me a heart attack.  All I could think about was Kai alone on some train platform in the middle of the night.  It was terrifying.

We finally got to Amy and Dave's house and, of course, we were all jazzed up from the day of travel.  We ended up hanging out for about an hour and finally crashing at about 2 AM (which was, remember, 5 AM where we had just come from ... Kai's first all-nighter!)

The next morning, we had nowhere to be so we were thinking that we could sleep in. When I say "we" were thinking that, I am referring to myself and Eric.  Kai had other ideas.  She was excited to be in Portland and couldn't want to see Leo and Soren.  So, she got up at 5:30 AM.  That's right.  5:30 AM.  As in 3 1/2 hours after we went to bed.  We tried to get her to go back to sleep but she kept saying, "WHEN are we going to IPNC?!  Let's GOOO!"  We got up and going by about 8 AM.  I think we were on campus before 10 AM.  Crazy kid.

But, it was great to get there.  Soren and Leo ran up to us and gave us all huge hugs.  We immediately started trying to figure out how to get into trouble (just kidding).  We went straight to crew chow (IPNC is all about the food, after all).

The next few days were great -- everything that camp IPNC has to offer.  This year, we brought a slack line and a slip n' slide... hours of fun!  We spent many, many hours trying to get across that slack line.  I think the boys were quite amazed at my balancing skills. Ultimately, it was Eric and Soren that made it all the way across.  But, I think I had the most consistency at getting pretty far.  It was fun, evidenced by the sore feet I had for the next several days.  In addition to slack lining and slip n' sliding, we played in the fountains, did some wrestling, and just had fun hanging out.


We also had an actual IPNC-sanctioned task this year.  Rather than handing out popsicles to the guests as they got off the buses from the winery tours, the kids were tasked with running Shrubs by Shrubs.  A shrub is a colonial area drink that was made from fruits preserved from the summer with the use of flavored vinegars and herbs.  Then, when you wanted a nice refreshing beverage in winter, you could pull out the syrupy vinegar and add some water and, presto, deliciousness in the dead of winter.  And, of course, Leo, Kai and Soren were the shrubs handing out the shrubs.

They had a blast making the base syrup.  They spent forever playing around with different fruit combinations (and making a disaster in the kitchen boiling the fruit in various pots).  Then they would experiment with different vinegars and herbs until they found the perfect flavor combinations.  I think they had a strawberry/blackberry concoction with lemon verbena and mint.  And then other flavors, using peaches and other yummy combinations.

Then, each afternoon, we'd load up the wagon with the cups, ice, syrup base, sparkling water and scoops and head to the buses.  The drinks were made as the buses pulled up, to prevent the ice from melting too much.  Kai loved making the drinks.  She got really into measuring out the syrup, adding some ice, and then topping it off with the sparkling water.  A lot of folks tried to get pictures of her because she was so intense and serious about the entire operation.  But, whenever she saw a camera, she'd dive under the table and hide.   I did manage to get some pictures of her, but I don't think the other guests did!

She was less thrilled with handing out the drinks. She would grab a couple and march over to the folks exiting the bus.  The guests, of course, were usually engrossed in conversations and not looking down.  That is, until they felt an icy beverage being shoved into their more sensitive regions and then they'd jump back in surprise and notice Kai staring up at them, drink extended towards them.  Many folks said "no, thank you", which made Kai hold up the cup more insistently.  She never talked to anyone.  That is, until someone handed her a dollar for the drink.  After that, she started saying "MONEY" with an outstretched hand whenever someone took a drink.  They made $50 on the drinks the second day.  Best lemonade stand ever.

The rest of our time at IPNC was great.  One of my dear friends had decided to come to the Salmon Bake many months ago, and it was nice to catch up with her (and eat the spectacular food of the Salmon Bake!)  And, the brunch on the last day was divine.  It was bittersweet to be winding down our vacation, but if it had to end, there was no better ending then crab, oysters, champagne and sabering.

It really was an epic journey.  And now, Kai gets ready to head into her next epic adventure -- Kindergarten, here she comes!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Epic Journey Part V: Puerto Rico

Ahhh... vacation feels so far away already.  As evidenced by how my posting about our trip slowed waaayyyy down.  That is because I've been consumed by work --August is supposed to be slow, but it has been insane. And, there has also been quite a bit to do to get ready for the Fall (signing Kai up for after school programs, getting all ready to be her soccer coach! and other things of that sort).   It feels like we never went on vacation.  Which is why it's all the more important to write down the memories so we can read of our adventures and look back on the pictures.

Tuesday morning we woke up a bit sad, of course. We had packing to do and the cabin to clean.  The folks at the eco resort recommended leaving the resort 4 hours before your flight back to San Juan.  I thought that seemed extreme, but also didn't want to risk another plane debacle.  But, that meant we needed to leave by 10 AM because our flight was scheduled to take off at 2 PM out of San Juan.  So, we basically woke up and spent the morning packing up and feeling glum about having to leave paradise.

The packing didn't take too long, and once we had everything to go, we headed down to the pavilion for one last breakfast, savoring the view.  We bought a few last postcards and some t-shirts and then we headed in the Jeep back to Cruz Bay.

We didn't know exactly what the ferry schedule was, but we knew they ran about once an hour.  It turned out we were going to have to wait about 30 minutes.  Kai enjoyed playing on the beach one last time while we waited for our ferry.

The ferry ride going back was more fun then the one that we took to get to St. John.  It was a much smaller boat and a longer journey (because we took the ferry out of Red Hook but returned to the Charlotte Amalie dock).  Once we got over our blues of having to leave, we enjoyed the ride back to St. Thomas (well, Eric and I did... Kai hid under her jacket most of the way).

Once back at St. Thomas, we caught a taxi to the airport.  Once we got to the ticket agent at the airport, she asked for Kai's passport.  We explained we weren't traveling with passport and that Kai didn't have anything.  I also told her I had looked up whether it was necessary before we left, and had read that passports were not needed.  She told me they weren't necessary to come to St. Thomas but you needed them to leave.  Eric called her bluff and said, "well, I guess we'll stay then."  It was irritating and she basically made us wait longer while she sighed and filled out some form.  Meanwhile Kai was dancing around behind us and saying she had to go potty.  We kept telling her to wait a minute.  But, the ticket agent was taking forever and finally Kai announced, "Uh.... Mama, I don't have to go potty anymore..."  and, sure enough, she didn't.  I think that might be Kai's first accident since she was 3!  Now I was super annoyed at the ticket agent.  I got more annoyed once we got inside the airport and saw big signs everywhere that said that passports were not required.

We had no issue at all getting through customs or getting into the airport (although, it was like 3 different lines -- one for customs, one to scan our checked bags, and then another for security!)  I guess that's why they say to leave 4 hours early.  Once we were through, we had about 50 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off.

Kai was hungry again so I went to grab us food.  No sooner had I gotten back then they announced our flight!  I was confused -- it was still not scheduled to take off for about 40 minutes -- and these are not hard planes to board (since they only seat about 8 people).  We basically had to throw away the food and got on the plane.  I asked another passenger what time the plane had been scheduled to take off and they told me it was supposed to leave at 2, but that we were leaving early.  Seriously!  It's like a habit with this airline!  Good thing we were there early this time.  And, given that we were there, Eric and I were happy to leave early because it just meant we'd have more time in San Juan.  But, still, Seaborne Airlines is not to be trusted in the scheduling department.

It was an uneventful flight back to San Juan and a quick cab ride to our hotel (which I booked with points and was advertised as having the best pool in San Juan!)  It was a nice resort hotel, as far as big resorts go.  But, compared to the eco cabin in St. John, it was a let down.  And, it was also quite a shock to the system.  Here we had been in this idealized eco-friendly environment surrounded by nature and living in a place that tried to incorporate daily living into the environment and the natural surroundings.  And now we were at the equivalent of Disneyland.  It was extreme.  There were 4 pools, one with a swim up bar.  Tiki torches.  Beach chairs.  Plastic stuff. And gazillions of people.  We usually felt like we were alone on the island in St. John -- or, at least among the very few.  Now we were among a sea of people.

Of course, Kai got one look at the pool, and wanted to jump in right away.  We ran up to our room to change and were back at the pool in a flash.  Which also means we didn't eat anything and since Kai hadn't gotten to eat at the airport, she should have been starving.  But, she powered through (the Schwartz Wesselman power-through gene is strong and Kai has inherited it in spades).  She jumped right into the pool and swam the entire thing.  Then we found a little platform about 3 feet above the water and she started jumping in over and over.  She loved it and would have been quite content to stay at the pool for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

However, after about an hour at the pool, Eric and I couldn't take anymore.  Besides, we really wanted to show her Old San Juan and take her to the Capitol.  She was not really excited about the prospect, but I think she did realize she was hungry so she agreed to move on.  For the food.

We took a cab to the Capitol and got there moments before they closed.  Lucky!  We got inside and it was beautiful.  They had some cool exhibits set up, and Eric and I enjoyed poking around reading about the politics of the region.  Kai was bored after about 5 minutes and getting quite impatient for food.

By the time we got back outside, she was having none of the posing for pictures.  Oh well.  We walked the rest of the way into Old San Juan and found a somewhat traditional-looking Puerto Rican restaurant.  We ate chicken and pork and other yummy things.  Kai was happy to munch on chicken.  She was less happy about how the prepared the plantains.  But, it was a nice dinner, and Kai was more willing to pose for pictures knowing that there was food in her future.

After dinner we wandered around Old San Juan and bought some trinkets.  Then we headed back to the hotel, knowing we had to get up somewhat early to catch our flight back to Portland.  St. John already felt too far away -- but, we were comforted knowing that vacation was still not over and knowing we'd be seeing Soren, Leo, Dave and Amy very soon.