Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

At Kailey's parent-teacher conference the other day, Mr. Cunningham shared with us the story Kai wrote recapping our Thanksgiving.  He didn't let us have it because he said he wanted to keep it in order to have a point of comparison later in the year to assess her continued development.  I think he wanted to keep it because it is hilarious -- recounting the stomach flu horror that pervaded our Thanksgiving break.  Once I get it, I'll update this post to include her retelling of our fateful week.

This was really the first real Thanksgiving in our Sacramento home.  Last year, for the first time in more than a decade, we didn't bother with a turkey and didn't do much on the actual holiday.  We did throw a big tamale party the Saturday after Thanksgiving and had many of our new Sacramento friends join us.  But, it wasn't our traditional holiday. 

This house was really made for the holidays -- the layout is great for entertaining.  It's a fun kitchen to cook in.  And, we were excited to host my parents for Thanksgiving week. The night before they came, we decided we needed to get a new bed right away (as in delivered the next day!) because then we could put our Olympic Queen bed in the guestroom and my parents would have a real bed to sleep on.  As we were going from store to store trying to find a place that would deliver the mattress we wanted the next day, I realized that this shopping mania is also a bit of a tradition for us.  Last year, it was our dining room set that we got for this house when we realized that it was going to be difficult to throw a tamale party for 15+ people with an empty dining room and just a little kitchen table.  Then there was the year we got the pull-out couch that is now in our living room when we realized that there was no extra bed to sleep on for guests that were coming in our 670 foot Oakland home.  There was the year of the dining room table we got for the Sunset house in San Francisco -- same realization as we had invited about 25 people to Thanksgiving dinner!  We got the mission furniture for our bedroom in the same frenzied manner. Apparently, our yearly entertaining the week of Thanksgiving is a good motivator to furniture shop!

So, this year, we decided to upgrade our Olympic Queen bed to a Cal King.  Ahhh..... the luxury of being able to fit two children and two kittens into our bed with room to spare! And, getting a real bed in the guestroom, meant we could move the futon into the living room . And, we decided to move the nice area rug in that room into the living room too. 

The next morning, Saturday, my parents arrived in time to see the last of Kailey's soccer games.  It was a good match and the end to a great season.  We had a soccer party that night, got the bed delivered, and then spent the afternoon and the next day watching Will while his parents moved (they moved into our neighborhood - just a block away -- so Alden's best friend is now our newest neighbor! Pretty cool).  At this point, if we were watching a horror flick, you'd hear the du-du -duuummm.  Turns out, Will had been under the weather.  His mom thought it was something he ate.  Turns out, not so much. 

On Sunday, we had family pictures taken.  I'm so glad our friend, Julie, organizes this these short photo sessions every year.  It is so nice to have real family pictures.  And, I like seeing how the kids change from year to year.  It was nice to have my parents here this year -- as we got some pictures with them, too!

On Sunday, Eric and I continued our shopping spree and bought a couple of side tables... suddenly the living room looks like a fully furnished room!  Complete with seating options for 7 - 10 people (if you count the bean bag chairs).  It's become a very cozy living room and so much more conducive to hanging out.

So, up to this point, all had been going well.  For some reason, on Monday, my mom and I were talking about sick kids and I commented, in a cocky sort of way, that my kids never throw up.  Ah-hem.  Note to self: karma is real.  We also had a new mattress delivered on Sunday since the mattress they delivered on Saturday was defective. 

So -- let's recap:  new mattress + bragging to my mom about how my kids never throw up = bad idea.  That night, around 10 PM, Kai came stumbling out of her room howling, "I threw up".  And, indeed, she'd managed to get it between her mattress and the bedframe, down the steps of her bunk, and all over the floor.  As we started stripping her bed and cleaning up, Alden started wailing from his room.  My mom went in and came out saying, "Alden threw up, too."  It took a moment for us to understand what was happening -- BOTH kids were sick.  We grabbed a bucket, started what was to be the first of about 1000 loads of laundry, and hunkered down for the night. Early on, Alden puked into the bucket followed by Kai and she said, "he only filled it a little -- I almost filled the WHOLE thing."  Ahhh... competition at its finest.  The kids threw up at least once an hour.  Everyone was miserable.  At about 5 AM, Eric started hurling too.  And, although, I wasn't vomiting... I was sick nonetheless.  It was awful.  We spent Tuesday barely moving.

But, by Thanksgiving day, no one was sick -- so we spent the day putting together a feast of cider-brined turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies made starting with the pie pumpkins themselves, mashed potatoes using my new potato ricer (that is the way to make mashed potatoes!), butternut squash and apples, artichoke dip, and more.  Cathy, Aaron, Will and Cathy's mom Jackie all joined us for Thanksgiving.  It was fun to have our first real Thanksgiving feast!



Unfortunately, Thanksgiving week didn't end on a high note. Friday, my mom was stricken by the dreaded stomach bug.  She got a pretty mild case, but Friday night, my dad got it -- and he had it among the worst.  It was terrible -- and not a fun way to end the holiday weekend. 

By Sunday, everyone was recovered and my parents took off for the long drive home.  We spent Sunday going out to Apple Hill with the Weng-Guiterez family.  Alden was not at all excited about tree shopping.  He cried the whole hour plus drive to Apple Hill and then screamed the whole time we were there.  The tree farm was really cool -- but, we didn't end up getting a tree there.  Julie and Malachi found their tree while we dealt with a screaming toddler.  Then we all left to go get some food at another place just down the road.  Once Alden finally calmed down, we went to a nearby tree farm (Apple Hill has about 20 different tree farms) and found our Christmas tree.  And, we got a free train ride as an added bonus!  It was just a little train with a lawnmower motor -- but, Alden was thrilled. 

Despite the stomach flu, it was a nice week filled with family, cooking, games, decorating, and coziness.  And, by the weekend's end, we had a decorated tree, stocking hung, and thanks to the fact that we never bothered to take the holiday lights down last year -- the house is fully decorated!   Holidays... here we come! 

Little Boy

Alden just got the second haircut of his life this last weekend -- and this time we let her cut off the curls in the back.  He looks like such a BOY all the sudden.  Compare the picture above with the ones below... Where did my baby go? Seriously, how can a hair cut make such a huge difference? I'm so glad that Linda Ann snapped the picture above -- it's hard to catch Alden smiling and being still at the same time.  Most of my pictures are just a blurr of blonde hair!

It's not just losing those baby curls that is evidence that his baby-ness is being left behind.  Alden is practicing being a two year old with all his might lately.  He is a boy that knows what he wants.  As has been the case his whole life, Alden LOVES music.  But, now, he has very specific songs he wants to hear.  We'll ask him if he wants to play some music and he'll nod in the affirmative, bending at the waist, so that it's a full-body nod while he grins ear to ear.  He really knows how to say "YES!"  Then we'll turn on a song and he'll scrunch up his face, furrow his brow and shake his head "no" very vigorously.  Wrong song.  We'll try another one.  Wrong again.  Once we find the song he was thinking of -- he'll burst into a grin and start jumping and dancing and spinning.  It's hilarious, although, it can be a little frustrating guessing which song he has in mind.  It's never the same one. 

He also loves dancing.  As opposed to most 20 month olds, Alden experiments with different movements.  He'll try jumping, moving his head from side to side, bending his shoulders, spinning... it hasn't been the easiest thing to capture on film, but here's a video of one of our recent dance parties:

He also has an evolving sense of humor.  No one can make Alden laugh harder than Kailey.  They crack each other up and work each other into a frenzy. 

And now they share a room!  For some reason, Alden turned on a dime and is suddenly extremely difficult to put to bed at night.  I was gone for a couple of nights for a work trip, and every since returning, I cannot get Alden to go to bed.  He freaks out in his crib, and even managed to hop out of it in a fit of rage the other night.  So, that's not safe!  No more crib for Alden.  We decided to lower Kai's bed so that it is no longer a loft -- but rather just a normal twin bed.  And we set up the toddler bed in her room so they can share a room - but, then, if Alden decides to crawl into bed with Kai at night, he's not going up a ladder and risking falling out.  We thought that might be the answer to our sleep problems -- but, he has continued to resist going to sleep at night, screaming whenever we attempt to leave the room, and flying into hysterics.  Last night was a little better -- I stayed with him until he was asleep, but the whole routine only took an hour as opposed to the 2 - 3 hour ordeals of the previous 4 nights. 

He really likes his toddler bed and is napping in it without any issue.  But, something has got him worried at nighttime -- so, we're working through that. 

Alden also has developed the most hilarious way of getting Eric's attention.  He hollers out, "DAAAAA-DAAAAA" at the top of his lungs but in a way that is somehow exceptionally cute.  He is very into his daddy these days.  He loves doing projects with Eric.  Whenever the tools come out, Alden gets very excited to help out.  He follows Eric around and whenever he leaves the room, Alden hollers his distinctive "DAAA-DAAA".  I caught it on video:

The combination of the haircut, toddler bed, opinions, jokes, newfound skills, increased communication, and big kid problems -- it's clear that Alden is not a baby anymore.  But, still, when I ask him, "who's my baby?" he hugs me and says "Bab-ee".  So, maybe for a few more months, I'll get to hang onto those baby cuddles and that baby sweetness. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Second Grade Report Card

Kailey's writing skills this year are really taking off.  No longer does she write outside the line, in big letters, tacking letters on vertically when she runs out of space on the page.  And, her stories have structure and so much detail.  It's amazing to see how much she has learned in just a few months in second grade.  I am going to try to save some of her writing and transcribe it here.  The story she brought home this week is "My Favorite Holiday".  Her teacher has them put together a writing web to organize their thoughts, and then write 5 paragraphs based on that web. 

"My Favrit Holiday is Crasmas.  By: Kailey
On Crasmas you get a Crasmas tree from a tree farm and you cut down the tree and the pepol who work thar will rap the chrmas tree in string to put on the top of your care and driv home. 
When you get home you get out your Chrmas tree decorasnons then you get out your Chrmas tree stand and stand teh tree up.  Then you cut the strong off the tree and then you decratit with lights to the top.  Then you put on the orments then finally you get to put on the star at the vary top of the tree.  Then you can tern off the lights.
For Chrmas I want a flut, a piano, and a violin.  My mom side it will be vary expensof to by just tree instrments for Chrmas.  I might want a new bak pak because I have had the bak pak sence Kindergarden! I also want to have a fier on Chrmas because winter is cold and I want to be warm.
If you put stokings up by the fier place you can put toys and stof in the stoking and on Chrasmas you can look into the stoking and see what is inside the stoking.
When it gets to Chrmas you can take the prasints from under the tree and opind the ones that say your name.  You can also take the stoking that seys you name in a coler and look what is inside it and mabiy your family will build a fier so you can warm up by the fier and drink hot coco."
I love her image of Christmas -- even if it is way more traditional than we ever really planned!!  Ahh how parenthood changes a person :)
We just had her parent teacher conference last night -- and she is doing excellent in 2nd grade.  She got "Exceeds Expectations" for her writing, science, demonstrating effort to do her best, and following complex directions and instructions.  In all other areas she's meeting expectations -- and I can tell she is learning and really enjoying school this year.  Her teacher is phenomenal and the assignments are interactive and hands-on.  Kai comes home excited to share things she has done and she is practicing her writing, math and projects at home without being prompted. 
Her teacher wrote about her:  "Kailey has transitioned from first to second grade very well.  She works very hard and seems to enjoy both the academic and social elements of our class. I'm impressed with Kailey's enthusiasm for learning, critical thinking and kindness toward her peers.  She is really excelling in Science and brings great enthusiasm to the subject."
Good Work, Kailey!!