Saturday, July 22, 2017

Halfway Through Summer

Summer is a bit nutty.  It starts way before the actual season begins because I have to figure out the entire schedule for summer in March.  But, the actual summer itself is a bit insane.  My work doesn't let up in the summer but is thrown into chaos because every week is a new camp, with a different drop off time and pick up time.  Plus, the ridiculously hot weather makes us all a little cranky.  And, the long days make it difficult to get children to bed on time.  Throw in a few days of a broken air conditioner or a sewer line that decides to give out... and, it's just a lot of chaos.

There is also quite a bit of fun in summertime.  We all like spending time outdoors and it's fun to be adventuring together.  But, by this halfway point in the summer, I am always craving the routine of the school year. 

So, to recap some of our summer activities: 

Over the 4th of July, we took the week off and headed to MacKerricker State Park, which is on the ocean near Ft Bragg.  We went there last year, too, meeting up with two other families.  It's a blast for the kids because there are 7 of them and they have such fun playing in the woods together from dawn to dusk every day.  This year, they built an amazing fort -- improving upon it every day.  By the time we left, they really had built something magical, complete with an "intruder lookout post", entryway, and swings. It was fun to watch them work together and bring their vision to fruition.  And, they were very inclusive of each other -- even Alden, who is the youngest of the group by several years.  We also had a great time playing at the beach, playing in the sand dunes, riding bikes and making lots (lots!) of food together.

Last year we attempted to make a lemon meringue pie camping -- without a blender, it's pretty hard to whip meringue. But, we did it!  Our failure was in letting the pie cool sufficiently before digging in -- so, it was a bit of a mess (but, a tasty one).  This year, I saw a video online for bacon smores.  Basically, you weave bacon together, put brown sugar on it, cook it and then use the bacon weaves as the graham crackers -- each smore has about 4 pieces of bacon.  Weaving the bacon was a bit messy.  Cooking it was messier.  And, in the end, it didn't even taste that great.  Graham crackers are better for smores.  But, it was amusing to try to make them and we all had a good laugh in the process.












It was fun to get away for a few days with the kids -- they love camping.  Hopefully we'll get at least one more camping trip in before the summer is over.  We are supposed to go the last week of August, but Eric and I are both feeling like we have had to miss so much work with all the other summer activities that we may bag it. 

Last weekend, we braved the state fair in 108 degree heat.  Somehow it was fun despite how hot it was.  Alden and Will had a great time together on the rides.  Kai won a ginormous stuffed frog bursting balloons with darts (it cost us about $30!)  The kids loved watching the horse races (and Alden has been playing pretend ever since that he is the #3 horse and he races around the house while Eric plays a pretend trumpet tooting out the racetrack song).  They liked riding the ponies and seeing the farm animals.  We're going again tomorrow with some families from Alden's preschool.  











So, we've definitely been having fun... I love camping and I love the fair.  But, in between the fun, work has been insane and makes the breaks a bit stressful.  Since June 1st, I've traveled to Washington DC, Houston, Milwaukee, Eureka, and multiple trips to LA (I've traveled more this year than any other since joining the Alliance... partly because there is so much change happening in the LA office, partly because I'm hiring, partly because it's a year of training/implementing a new law, and partly because work at the federal level has picked up and requires me to be interfacing with folks beyond California a lot more)... but, it makes it hard to get other things done.  Eric is beyond over my travel schedule (as am I), but I'm not sure it's going to get better any time soon.  And, because I feel guilty about being gone a lot, when I'm home I try to do the lion's share of the child activities when I'm home -- drop offs, pick ups, cleaning, cooking, shopping... basically it has been non-stop.

Adding to the chaos, we're continuing to transition over to a vegan lifestyle, which has caused a lot of learning and some exasperation since the kids have the same resistance to eating vegan food that they have to ALL food.  But, both Eric and I have limited patience for complaints about food, especially from Kai, since we're all trying to switch what we eat because of her desire to not eat any animal products. We are on board with supporting her and making the switch -- but, not accompanied by a refusal to eat vegetables or complaints about the new diet!  I have to say, minus a few difficult nights, she has mostly been amazing.  She is trying new things, she made her own lunch all week for camp, and she is very committed.  We went to a pasta place for dinner last night and she ate all her dinner, without using any parmesan (which she used to love).  It's been impressive to watch her adopt and adapt to her new lifestyle and clear that she feels empowered by the choices she's making for herself.  Very cool.

On Tuesday, we drive to Oregon to spend a few days with Eric's mom, attend the salmon bake at IPNC (which we haven't done since Kai was 5!!) and then drop Kailey off at my parent's house for a week of fun.  It's not a great week for me to be missing work and the day I get back I have a new staff person starting, followed by a two-day trip to LA later that week, and then a 3-day trip to New Orleans the following week.  Eric has Paddle to the Capitol and a bunch of other training activities going on. And, Kai's soccer is starting up in August.  Practices are at 4:30 this year, which is a bit of a pain and is going to make work even more complicated to get done. 

I probably should not be writing a blog update today because I'm in a cranky and tired mood.  I just want one of those Saturday mornings from before kids where I am completely in charge of my own day and no one is demanding anything of me.  But, instead, Eric is on the river for the third weekend in a row and Alden has been up since 5:30.  Both kids have been asking non-stop for videos, food, water, snuggles, games... the list goes on . They are banging on the piano and drums and mauling me every few minutes.  Alden is at the age where he asks the same questions over and over again -- when are we going to the fair?  When will Nonnie and Papa be at our house?  And then he whines that "it takes soooo long" after I explain to him when these things are happening.  And, of course, they are squabbling and fighting with some frequency.   In short, they're being kids... but I need a break. 

When I was a kid, I remember feeling like summer break just dragged on and on.  I was so bored during big chunks of summer. Now, summer is this jam-packed, non-stop ordeal that leaves me completely frazzled.  I've lost the "break" part of summer.  But, I'm trying to hold onto the fun... just, today, I'd rather be napping. 



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vegetarian

I've written before about my struggles with dinner.  First, when Kai was little, just getting used to the dinner routine was a big adjustment.  It's hard to adjust to having to prep dinner at a set time every day and have dinner as a family.  After so many years of adulthood and eating whenever the mood struck -- often times a bowl of noodles at my desk while working late -- it was hard to think about meal prep and planning.  But, I mastered that long ago.  Not that I love it -- but, it's part of my routine now and I'm pretty good at meal planning.

Now, the struggle is getting the kids to eat and having dinner without listening to constant whining about the food in front of them.  Kai was a great eater when she was young, but has developed real resistance to many foods (many of which she once loved).  She picks at her food and moves it around on her plate, refusing to eat most of what's before her and claiming that she's not hungry (even when she just said moments before that she was hungry).  It's beyond frustrating.  And, Alden follows her lead.  So, when she starts picking at food, he picks at it and claims it's "too spicy". 

In one of my less stellar parenting moments, we finished a dinner the other night where they both ate very little and complained very loudly and I said, "you are both terrible people to spend a meal with.  And, I'm sick of it.  No more treats until you can go 5 nights of eating all your dinner with NO COMPLAINING."  So, we got out the sticker and they spent the next couple of weeks trying to earn 5 stickers.  Meals were somewhat less combative.  They eventually got through 5 that were less offensive to their delicate sensibilities. 

I think as a result of all of this, and the fact that Kai has always been fascinated about where her food comes from, Kai has been thinking a lot about food.  She came home from camp this week and said, "we had hamburgers for lunch but I couldn't eat it because I feel badly for the ground up cow."  Well, yes, when you put it like that, it's sort of gross.  She continued, "I think I want to be a vegetarian."

I thought Kai was going to insist on becoming a vegetarian when she was 4 and obsessed with where food came from and constantly asking if the red on her plate was the blood from an animal.  So, I've been expecting this day.  And, as I wrote 5 years ago, happy to support that decision if she was serious, could articulate the reason, and also be able to eat enough variety to be healthy.  So, we had that conversation.  I told her that eating vegetarian meant she was going to have to eat a whole range of fruits, vegetables and grains that she didn't often eat now.  I told her it wasn't a way to just get to eat pasta and rice every day.  She said, "well, I'm just THINKING about being a vegetarian." 

The next day, she told me she wanted to "just try it out."  So, I spent the evening researching various vegetarian options for meals for the coming week in an attempt to get a menu together that contained a large variety of different foods.  Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and loaded up on the items for the vegetarian meal plan.  Last night, I said to Kai, "how about we learn how to cook vegetarian together?"  She was all in.  So, we cooked our dinner together - with her doing at least half of the work.  We made sesame Soba and Zucchini noodles in a almond butter sauce and roasted cauliflower in a soy ginger sauce.  While we were cooking, Kai said, "I think I was born to be a vegetarian... and I'll be helping to save the world." 

I'm all about saving the world and figuring out how to be a social justice warrior in our day to day lives (and our work)... so, I was all in on this statement. Yes, let's be vegetarians and save the world!

She then said, "this smells delicious!" and once dinner was on the table, both kids sat down and ate with yums and thank yous.  Alden had seconds.  Kai ate all her cauliflower and asked for more.  Dinner was beyond pleasant and I was beside myself.  If this is what it took to get through a meal without complaints -- I was more than in!

So, it was one night.  And it was soba noodles.  So, we have a bit of a ways to go with this experiment.  But, Kai is interested in learning about how to be a vegetarian and I'm interested in supporting her.  I told her last night that she's old enough to start making her own choices about what she eats and how she approaches the world around her -- and deciding not to eat animals is one of those decisions.  Today, I'm going to show her a documentary about the food industry.  I like exploring these social justice issues with her and figuring out what that means both in our individual lives and in the larger political context. 

It may mean a bit more research for me in terms of meal planning -- at least in the short term -- but, I'm pretty good at recipe finding these days.  So, I'm not intimidated by the need to mix it up. I'm not sure I'm going to become a full-fledged vegetarian -- but, I'm willing to mostly adapt our dinners to vegetarianism and to make alternatives for Kai the nights we decide to have meat (ie veggie burgers when we have cheeseburgers, or alternative chicken sandwiches when we have real chicken... there are a lot of vegetarian alternatives to choose from).  And, she may not stick with it, of course.  But, it's fun to let her explore the options and figure out who she is and how she wants to approach her place in the world. 

Images

Alden has a way with words and describing his experiences.  I wish I was better about writing down all the things he comes up with.  He has a great vocabulary and when he hits a wall with the words he knows, the things he comes up with to get you to the same conclusion, often blow me away.

The other night, I was putting him to bed and had finished his three stories and "talk about the day" (something we started with Kai when she was a toddler that she loved and, similarly, Alden loves to talk of the day.  Essentially, we just walk through exactly what happened in the day, recalling what we did together and, often, the things they did away from us.  I think it helps them to process the day, reflect, and also realize that even when we are not with them, we are aware of what they are doing and thinking of them.  Of course, they don't articulate their love of "talking of the day" as a result of those benefits -- but, that's my theory as to why they like it so much). 

Anyway... we had finished the stories and the talk of the day and I had turned out the light and turned to Alden and said, "now, close your eyes."  Alden said, "I don't want to close my eyes because I don't like the movies and pictures that come when I close my eyes."  I was stunned.  For two reasons.  One, that was such an apt way to describe dreams.  Two, because why didn't he like his dreams?  But, then I realized how it only really takes one bad dream to turn you off dreams for awhile -- and they can be scary.  So funny how that's true of so many things.  We, as people, remember all the negative comments we get and have to receive the same compliment 5 times before it sinks in.  We remember our nightmares and forget the wonderful dreams. I think that's another benefit to talking about the day -- it's an opportunity to just reflect on all the things that are otherwise forgotten about in the hum drum of living.  And to remind ourselves of all the good things that happened.  It's also why I love this blog.  It's a way of just remembering all those small, positive moments in raising little people -- because it's easy to focus on how much work it is and how busy and stressed I am all the time. But, the act of taking out my computer to tell one of the little stories of wonder and amazement that comes from raising kids keeps me focused on what an amazing (and fleeting) experience this is. 

But, I digress.  I turned to Alden and said, "do you mean you don't want to dream?" Alden said, "I don't want to close my eyes and see the movies."  I reminded him that he loves movies and he said, "not the movies when I close my eyes."  I rubbed his head and hugged him and said, "many of those videos are lovely.  And, mama and dada will always keep you safe.  And we love you.  Tonight, let's hope for sweet dreams."  He was sleepy and turned over and fell asleep.. hopefully to sweet dreams.

Another example of Alden's imagery -- we were watching a nature documentary and there was an avalanche in the documentary.  The footage of the avalanche went on for a couple of minutes and we really got to saw how massive and destructive big avalanches can be.  Then, the documentary went on and after several minutes, Alden turned to me and said, "where did the mountain wave go?" The mountain wave!  That's exactly what it was. 

Alden loves to play pretend these days.  He wants to pretend he's a dinosaur, a baby, a bird, a builder.... he asks us to play pretend multiple times a day.  He isn't into dress up -- but, he likes to have props and to make up stories as he goes along.

The other day, when I was trying to get Alden to come set the table for dinner he said, "one minute, Mama.  You have to be patient."  I cracked up.  How many time does he hear that same phrase, but it was funny to hear it coming out of his mouth.  Patience!

He is constantly recounting tales to us and, if it appears we're no listening, he grabs our face and says, "Mama.  Listen. I'm talking to you."  He also says to me at least twice a day, "Mama -- I want milk and snuggles with you!"  He loves to have his sippy cup of milk while we snuggle on the couch and he rubs my "nickel" (a mole on my neck that both he and Kai love to rub... weird, I know).  He just bounded over here and grabbed onto my neck and said, "Mama... I want milk and snuggles".  I told him to go get milk from Eric (who is in the kitchen) and before he bounded off he clarified that we had to lay lengthwise on the couch (since I'm sitting up at the moment).  I assured him that when he returned with the milk, we'd lay down and have a proper snuggle.  He'll be back in a moment. 

It's 7:45 AM.  I've been up with them for two hours already.  We've built a fort.  Made coffee.  And now will be doing "milk and snuggles" before diving into breakfast prep and then, clean up. Gone are the days of sleeping in late and eventually getting up and heading to brunch with friends.  The days are definitely long, but it is so true that the years are short (too short) -- and I'm excited to hear what images and phrases pop out of his mind today as he navigates his day. 

Happy Sunday in June!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day

As with Mother's Day, there was a little celebration at Alden's school for Father's Day.  They made a collage of the quotes that each child said about their daddy.  Alden said, "I love to play horsey with my daddy."  He likes when I pick him up and take him places, notably to Will's house. And he likes roughing around and playing horsey with his daddy.  Very accurate! 

Anyway, that is really where the similarities with the two celebrations ended.  Remember how I wrote about the forced day off work so that I could spend the day with my preschooler by packing him a picnic lunch (which, as you recall, I failed to do because I had assumed that on a celebration of mother's, the mothers would not have to be the ones packing the lunches). 

For Father's day, the school sent an email inviting all daddies to drop their child off at school and stay for a donut and coffee before they had to head out to work.  The event went until 8:30 AM so that everyone could get to work in time.  And, the donuts were provided.  As was the coffee. 

Seriously.  What year is it?  And, what kind of message are we sending to our preschoolers? Daddies have to work.  They cannot spend a whole afternoon with you.  And, also, they cannot pack their own breakfasts (or, at least, we wouldn't want to impose such a duty on them).  Also, the children did not prepare any special song for the dads -- because, who could expect all the dads to show up at the same time?  I say that sarcastically, of course, as every school event has been equally attended by the moms and dads. 

I was so irritated.  I LOVE Alden's school... most of the time.  But, the persistent gender bias that has cropped up time and again is so irritating.  No one at his school would bat an eye if Eric were out of town as much as I am.  But, for some reason, it gets me a lot comments about how difficult it must be for Alden and various comments insinuating that I likely have little clue as to what's going on with him.  But, despite the fact that I clearly work -- there is also the expectation that I can take a day off whenever called upon to do so to host a field trip, pack a picnic or be otherwise on call.  There is no similar ask of the daddies. 

Eric points out that it cuts both ways and is also hurtful to have such low expectations of dads and the idea that they generally are a nice, but unnecessary, accessory in their children's lives. And, that is also true. 

We are co-parents.  Both involved at their schools and in their lives -- running them around town, going to parent conferences, helping with school work, playing together, doing projects, and being there for everything big and small.  And, we both miss things some of the time.  Because we both work.  And both of our jobs are important.  It is really time that we adapted schools and work to the expectation of joint caregiving responsibilities (whether that caregiving be for a child or another member of your family).

In our own family, we share a lot of the work.  We've always got numerous house projects going on and overwhelming numbers of tasks at work and all the general family time that we try to get in -- and, we share it.  We make it happen.  We parent together.  Maybe we shouldn't have a separate day for moms and dads.  Increasingly, in blended families and families that come in all different types, that just has the potential of alienating as much as it does celebrating.  Some children don't have a mother or a father.  They have a grandparent raising them.  Or, they're in foster care.  Or they have two mommies . Or two daddies. So, maybe we should just celebrate caregiving. 

Eric is an amazing dad and deserving of celebration.  And, I'm a pretty kick ass mom.  But, we don't need to be celebrated as a "mom" or a "dad" -- and we certainly don't need celebrations full of outdated stereotypes and expectations (or the lack thereof). 

OK -- rant over.

And, thank you, Eric, for being the amazing dad and partner that you are!

Hamming it Up

Alden loves videos.  Loves them.  He woke up this morning and before his eyes were open, he asked for a video.  I laughed and told him he wasn't even awake.  He protested and then I told him we don't have videos first thing when we wake up, to which he replied, "then, when we go downstairs?"  I laughed and then he made it into a game, asking for videos in silly voices and he kept saying, "wait! wait!... Ummm.... can I... can I .... ummmm... can I have a... VIDEO?!"  He was being hilarious.  But, I told him we couldn't watch videos.  So, he got books for us to read instead.  The book was about different animals and Alden started asking what sound they made.  But, the animals in this book were hippos, lemurs, beavers, and penguins.  I have no idea what ANY of those animals sound like.  So, I smiled and said to Alden, "well... to answer that, I guess we need a video."  He was so pleased and we watched videos of hippos, lemurs, penguins and beavers to learn their various sounds.  Clever little boy, he is.

Alden also likes to mimic videos . He'll re-enact scenes from movies and he remembers his favorite lines.  I may have already written this story in a prior post (because, who can keep track?  Particularly with my favorite stories because I repeat them to numerous people and also try to remember to write them on the blog...and, I lose track of what I've done and who I've told what to.  I'm sure it's annoying to everyone in my life who gest subjected to multiple tellings of the same story).  Anyway, he was riding his bike around our neighborhood the other day and he rides down the little hills on the sidewalk with his feet outstretched to get as much speed as possible.  The other day, as he was heading down a hill, he hollers, "I'm.... STILL.... FALLING" quoting a line from Moana.  I laughed so hard.  And then, he continued with the movie line, "Dum-dum... she's not even down here.  What mortal would jump into the...."  It's crazy how he knows lines from movies and also how to use them with comedic effect in his daily life .

Eric was showing him videos of some funny dance moves from Saturday Night Live, and he decided to imitate those, too.  This has resulted in one of my favorite videos of all time:

video

End of 3rd Grade


Wow!  Kai has finished 3rd grade.  There she is above on her first day this year.  Eager and ready to go.  And, with good reason.  She had an excellent year.  They wrote a memory book as one of their last projects, recording their thoughts from the year.  Kai's cracks me up.  The first page is "All About Me" and Kai writes: "I am small, blonde and creative.  I like to color and to read.  My favorite book is the Land of Stories.  I like to do drama but I get shy.  I also collect pencil leads."  I have no idea what pencil leads are and also had no idea she collected them.  The rest of her description of herself is pretty spot-on.  I would add that she is mighty to the first sentence.  Mighty, determined, and persistent.   She says her favorite color is teal and her favorite food is sushi. 

The next page is "All About My Class" and Kailey writes: "My class is loud and very crazy.  On the outside, it looks like we're 3rd graders.  But, on the inside, we're preschoolers."  Oh, Kai's poor teacher. But, again, a pretty apt description.  Her class is full of hyper, type A personalities.  Everyone has something to say.  She also writes that her favorite class memory is the Marin Headlands. 

The next page is "All About My School" and Kai writes, "My favorite school event is the plays.  I like to act . I just get scared."  Kai has decided she would like to be an actor.  When we talk about the fact that she hates it when people look at her or ask her to perform, she is undeterred.  She says that just because she is afraid of being on stage doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy it.  At Target today, a woman approached us excitedly and asked if Kai was over 7 yet.  I told her she was 9 and she got more excited and pleaded with us to go to an audition for being a model in the Nordstrom's advertisements, stating that it is really difficult to find the blonde-haired, blue-eyed models.  Kai made a face at her.  After she walked away, I asked her if she'd want to do it and she said, emphatically, "NO."  Then she told me she just wants to focus on school plays at the moment and go from there.  So, she's developing her skills in her own way -- is there any other?

The next few pages deal with what she learned throughout the year in various subjects.  For math,  Kai writes, "I learned the perimeter, which is the outside of the shape.  I also learned my times tables through 12.  I also learned division."  For reading, she writes: "I learned how to make connections and how to summarize.  I also learned how to sit and read quietly." In science, "I learned energy and biomes.  I learned that sea turtles mistake plastic bags as jelly fish.  Then they choke and die."  For Social Studies, "I learned that my character for the Sutter's Fort project discovered gold.  I also learned that the government and George Washington made the Constitution."  Well... not quite.  But, that's OK!  For writing she says, "I wrote about sea turtles.  I also wrote about my Sutter's Fort character, Elizabeth Bays Wimer.  And, I wrote lots of other essays." 

The book ends with her goals for next year, which she put as (1) getting better at math; (2) paying better attention; (3) getting in less fights.  Then she writes, "I am going to try to not scribble in my math book so that I learn more math."  I don't want her to feel like math is a struggle -- particularly since that was something I struggled with.  We are going to sign her up for a math class/tutoring thing this summer to help her keep up her skills and build confidence. 

What really strikes me about her book is how well she knows herself, how much she learned, and how engaged she is with her schooling . They did so many great projects this year including the Sutter's Fort historical project, writing and publishing a book about the solar system, writing another book about all the biomes, writing a detailed essay on sea turtles and creating a visual aid, memorizing her times tables... there was a lot more.  She loved school this year and was quite bummed on the last day when it was all over. 

The comments on her report cards also shows her progress throughout the year . For the first trimester, her teacher writes: "Kailey is doing very well in 3rd grad.  She has made vast improvements in math, but still tends to find problem-solving word problems a challenge.  Her reading has well surpassed grade level and continues to be one of her strengths.  She had no trouble keeping up with her book club reading assignments and has been reading multiple other books as well.  She rose to the challenge during our solar system book project, doing more than her share of the work due to her partner's absence from our class.  Her excitement for the Sutter's Fort research project shows in her quality work on this project."

For the second trimester, her teacher wrote: "Kailey is doing so well in third grade.  Her enthusiasm and conscientious effort for every activity set a good role model for her classmates.  Her work is carefully and accurately completed and her comments shared in class also show her understanding of the academics.  She is making excellent progress as we move towards the end of the year."

Her final report card of the year was her best -- she got 7 E's (for Excelling) and all the rest were M;s (Meeting Expectations).  There were no Ps (Practicing Skills) or Ns (Needs Improvement).  And her teacher wrote: "Kailey has had a very successful third grade year.  Her perseverance and passion for learning are admirable.  While she easily excels in reading, Kailey occasionally struggles with certain math concepts.  However, she is always eager to sit down and put in the time until she understands.  I feel very lucky to have had her as a student.  Have a great summer!"

So, we'll practice math more this summer and also just have fun relishing another great year and preparing for the next one.  Kai has a lot of fun camps lined up.  I'm so proud of how hard she works and the words that her teacher uses to describe her (words I've been using since the moment I met her!)  Here's a picture of her from the carnival on the last day of school -- we love you Kailey:




Sunday, June 11, 2017

First Camping Trip of the Year


We capped off birthday season with a trip to the Santa Cruz mountains for Eric's birthday celebration.  This wasn't supposed to be our first camping trip this year.  I had made reservations for us to be in Yosemite over Mother's Day weekend.  However, the weather in Yosemite that weekend was supposed to have a high in the low 40s.  Having been more adventurous when Kai was a 3 year old, we have already attempted camping in cold conditions with a toddler.  And, while it had its highlights, she was mostly fairly miserable about how cold it was the whole time (and we were mostly looking for places to get warm indoors).  So, we skipped that trip.

Similarly, this weekend, I had made reservations in Lake Tahoe and then, when I checked the weather, saw that it was supposed to be in the low 40s and raining.  Where is my California weather this year?!  We've only hit 100 a couple of times this whole year.  So different from the last few years we lived in Sacramento.  It hardly feels like summer.  Neither of us wanted to go someplace cold and wet, so we looked at the map to see where the sun would be shining this weekend and realized that the beach and Santa Cruz looked great.  Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest state park in California and a fairly big swath of redwood forest that is fairly easy to get to -- perfect, except that we didn't have reservations and it was the beginning of summer.  We wanted to leave at 1:00 on Friday afternoon and hoped to get there by about 5:00 PM.

The problem with trying to fit in adventures, camping and fun with the kids on the weekends and over the summer is that our jobs are insane.  This last week, I was in Eureka (a 5 hour drive north of here) Monday- Wednesday.  On Wednesday evening, we had an evening meeting at the school that went until after 8 PM (to meet the new candidate for Principal).  Thursday evening Kai had a piano recital.  I needed to prepare for two separate conferences the next week (I'm in Wisconsin the bulk of next week) and had to catch up from being away fro 3 days.  Eric had a major grant report due.  And, we were trying to cram it all in during the working hours, with even those being cut short for evening activities.  And, someone needed to pack food, camping gear and clothing if we were going to go camping.  Really, camping for two nights away is the same as packing for a week. 

To complicate it, my policy assistant sat me down as I was rushing to get out of the office on Friday and told me she's leaving. Of course.  I haven't really had a chance to process that.  I went back to packing and told myself I'd figure out a plan over the weekend. 

It was a busy week.  We didn't get on the road at 1 PM.  But, we were driving by 3:30 PM.  Not bad, considering.  And, more importantly, we were on the road.  Eric brought his computer and worked on the drive, but at least we were driving!! 

We got to camp at 7 PM.  The campsites are mostly of the variety that you have to reserve in advance.  Like, 6 months in advance.  But, they always hold a few for same day arrivals.  You cannot reserve these in advance, but they are first-come, first-serve.  7 PM is not an ideal time to arrive for these sites.  The kids were road weary but SO EXCITED to be at the campground.  I was certain we were doomed for an evening of disappointment. 

But, fortune befell us!!  The camp host told us that a family had just decided to pack up and leave that evening.  I didn't have the highest hopes for the campsite itself, given that it had prompted another family to abandon camp.  But, beggars cannot be choosers and the kids were beyond thrilled that we had arrived and got to set up our campsite.  As soon as we got to our site (which was right next to the road -- but, it's a quiet road through the woods and was totally fine) - they immediately started playing pretend.  Our site had a bit of a hill in it, and they started running up and then running down as fast as they could, pretending to be birds.  They hopped around in excitement commenting on every little thing they came upon.  Kids love the woods.  My kids love the woods.  It felt so good to be outside with them. 
 
 
We made a quick dinner of pasta and stayed up late watching the stars.  We didn't go to bed until 10 PM and they both slept like rocks.  Until 6 AM.  Seriously.  Why does the sun come up at 6 AM?!  And why do children wake up with the sun?!  But, up they were.  At 6 AM.  Ugh.  I tried to keep Alden quiet until 7 (so as not to wake up the rest of the campground... which, incidentally, was FULL of children.  But, only ours start screaming and hopping around at 6 AM.  Go figure). 

The thing is, even after sleeping outside and being sore and tired, I was so excited to wake up in the woods with my family.  We made fancy French toast for breakfast.  It was delicious.  All food is better in the woods.  Then we hiked to the camp host station to see if we could keep our campsite for another night and, again, got lucky.  No need to move!!  The day was ours!  We played in the amphitheater for awhile -- with the kids making up performances for us.  Then we went on a hike and taught Kai had to navigate using the map.  Alden did fantastic and hiked most of the way. 

 

When we got back to camp, we made grilled cheese and then went bike riding.  It was a fairly hilly campsite and Alden rides his scoot bike (balance bike) FAST.  He is great at picking his feet up and just flying along.  But, he's not used to hills.  He did a couple of them at full speed and managed to get himself back under control.  The look on his face was one of utter concentration.  But, there were a few times (3 to be exact) that he wasn't so lucky and took a spill.  What's amazing is each time, although he cried for a bit, he brushed himself off and got right back on.  He loves riding his bike.  He did slow down eventually and learn to manage the hills a bit better.  He ended up with a bit of road rash on his side but no other owies, which is amazing.  He is a pretty controlled crasher.  And, by the second day of riding, there were no more crashes.  We were beating ourselves up a bit that we let him crash three times.  But, he learned a lot about riding his bike and balancing.  And he didn't give up.  And, by the end of it, he was yelling, "I KNOW I can DO it."  It was pretty cool to watch him perfect his skills before our very eyes. 

Kai also loved riding around the campground and conquered her fear of riding fast down the hills (helps to have a little brother egging her on!)  She also loved making up plays and getting Eric and Alden to perform with her (I was the audience).  The woods really spark their imaginations. 


Later that evening, he stood up on a chair and took another tumble, cutting his upper lip.  And, he got about 5 bug bites on his face, one of which is a bit infected on his face.  So, coming home today, he was quite a sight. A bit bruised up but SO happy!!

We cooked a feast the second night and the kids ate a ton.  There's nothing like hiking and biking all day to work up an appetite. I made mashed potatoes and a bunch of rice and they ate it all.  Plus, we had two big pork loins and they ate almost all of those as well.  Alden was obsessed with the marshmallows all weekend.  He ate most of a bag. And, Kai is an expert marshmallow roaster (Alden cannot be bothered with roasting them).


It was really good to get away for the weekend.  And reminds me that we need to force ourselves to get out even when it is not easy to get away.  It's so good to watch them play and explore outside.  It's so good to have time together away from screens and distractions so that we can all just play together.  We all had a blast. 

Happy Birthday, Eric!  47 years young and still playing in the woods.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Faking and Pretending

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had some friends from Alden's school over for dinner.  Prior to coming to our house, they had attended several other events and, by the time they got to us, Peter (their 3 year old and one of Alden's best friends) was pretty wiped.  Still, they played on the swings and went as high and fast as they could go.  After that, Peter wasn't feeling well at all and ended up getting a bit sick (e.g. throwing up) and so they ducked out early.  He was fine after a good night's sleep -- it had just been a packed day.

Before they had left, and when Peter was starting to not feel too good, his Mom was attending to their newest family member -- Baby Joy, who is about 2 months old.  She was breastfeeding the baby and Alden was so curious.  He stood right at her side, peering at what was going on, and asking a gazillion questions, "why is Baby Joy eating your boob?"  Sarah explained she was drinking milk.  "Why is she drinking milk from your boob?"  Sarah explained that Mama's make milk for their babies and that's all that babies eat. The conversation went back and forth.  I, of course, offered to remove Alden so she could focus on feeding and not be interrogated by a questioning toddler - but, she was unfazed. 

Alden was fascinated by the whole visit.  Both by the fact that Peter had gotten sick and by Baby Joy, particularly how tiny she was, that she had been in her Mama's belly and was now out, and that she ate from her Mama's breast.  Alden continued to talk about Peter being sick and Baby Joy for the rest of the evening (he always refers to her as Baby Joy.... not just Joy. Hence, the reference here!) He wanted to play "Baby Joy" which essentially entailed him making baby noises and pretending to be a baby, insisting that we refer to him as Baby Joy.  He wanted to pretend to breastfeed, but we drew a line at that, explaining that he wasn't really a baby and breasts are not for pretending.  That evening, I put Baby Joy (not Alden) to bed.  When I told him it was time to go to sleep, he turned to me and said, "I can't go to sleep in my bed... babies don't sleep in beds.  They sleep in their Mama's arms." With that, he got extra cuddles and snuggles. 

The next morning, on the way to school, Alden announced that he wasn't feeling well.  He often doesn't feel well in the car, as he is quite prone to car sickness.  I told him we were almost at school and he continued to protest that he didn't feel well.  Once we got to school, he moped around and said, "I'm SICK.  I feel SICK."  I offered to read him a book before I left.  He grabbed a book, sat in my lap, and then got a look of panic on his face and said, "I'm going to THROW UP."  So, I ran him into the bathroom where he proceeded to stand over the toilet and gag, although, he did not throw up.  At this point, I suspected I was being played a bit but also didn't know what to do.  They certainly didn't want a kid that was feigning throwing up at school.  So, I told him he could come back home if he was sick and he nodded in earnest and pathetic agreement, looking miserable the whole time. 

Once home, I put him back in his PJs and we crawled into bed.  I told him I had calls to do and he had to be quiet.  I also told him we couldn't play any games or watch and videos because he was sick, so he needed to just lay in bed.  He smiled and asked if we could hide.  I shook my head, reiterating that I had work to do and he was sick so he just had to lay in bed.  I told him I would snuggle with him, but no games, no playing and no videos. 

He jerked his head to look at me and announced, "I'm not sick anymore!"  I rolled my eyes and turned to him and said, "Alden were you pretending?"  His eyes twinkled and he said, "YES!" Then he said, "was it funny?"  I put my sternest look on my face and said, "no.  It was not funny."  Then I asked him if he wanted to go back to school and he confirmed that he did.  So, after calling the school to make sure they'd let him return, I got him dressed again and we went back. 

At the end of the day, his child care provider laughed and said he actively avoided the topic all day.  He just played and if anyone talked about it, he would pretend not to hear.  As we were talking about it, Alden was sitting by, clearly listening, but pretending to be oblivious. 

Hopefully he's learned his lesson. He's certainly taken faking and pretending to a whole new level!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Insightful

Kailey has always had very deep insights into herself and the people around her, and that continues.  She has had some conflicts with friends at school recently.  I think this is inevitable at the end of the school year, and particularly at such a small school where your options for simply ignoring certain people and finding others to play with is quite limited.  There are only 6 girls in Kai's class, including her.  It can be tough.

But, Kai is very thoughtful about the dynamics.  She told me that she and Leanna fight at least once a day.  Mostly because Leanna gets quite upset when Kai doesn't do as Leanna wishes, and it causes fights (I realize I'm hearing about the conflicts from Kai's perspective -- but, this one seems to hold true).  Kai was describing the relationship to me the other day and said that when she first met Leanna, it was like being at the beginning of a long rope. She said, "it's so exciting.  I am just so excited to have a new friend and everything is good and everything is happy." Then she said, you start walking across the rope, the way you go deeper into a friendship, and there are little snags and breaks in the rope.  It gets harder to walk.  Sometimes you fall off. But, she said, "you just want it to be good -- so you keep going.  Even though the rope has a lot of breaks in it and there's a lot that's not good anymore."

She's nine.  NINE!  I marveled at her description and how apt it was.  I can so relate to that excitement of meeting someone that you hit it off with and being so thrilled to have a new friend.  And, the inevitable disappointment and conflict that come in any relationship.  It was so interesting to listen to her think through relationships and how they change over time. 

And, she doesn't give up on her friends.  She got in a big fight with Ava on Friday and came home and wrote her an apology and made her a key chain for her backpack.  She wants to work things through.  Although, she definitely has her own stake in these disagreements and a strong point of view, she seems to care about reaching reconciliation. 

When Leanna drew on an art project that Kai was working on (Kai had invited her to help -- but then was not pleased with what Leanna ended up doing), Kai was fuming and said, "she very well knew that I didn't want her to draw on the parts that were erased.  She very well knew."  It cracked me up to listen to her fume, hands on her hips, talking like an old lady.  But, then when we talked it through, she came to the point that maybe Leanna hadn't known.  And maybe she did feel badly.  She comes around and thinks things through and is open to other viewpoints.  After that initial fuming period -- Kai definitely has a temper and when it blows, you have to wait for her to calm down before getting to that point of introspection.

But, even with that, she knows that she can blow.  She was supposed to do a reading project with Lucas at school the other day and neither of them wanted to read first.  Kai suggested they do rock, paper, scissors to determine who should have to go first.  They did and Lucas lost and, upset at the loss, still refused to read.  Kai was upset about that and they got their teacher involved.  Her teacher agreed they had figured out a good way to resolve the issue and asked Lucas if he had another idea to determine who should go first.  He didn't, and so her teacher told them to go forward with Kai's plan and walked away.  And, Lucas still refused to read.  Kai said, "I was mad, so I walked to the door and took 3 deep breaths.  I tried to calm myself down, but my anger overruled me -- I couldn't stop it -- so, I went back to Ms. Standart and she told us to just read separately." 

Her anger overruled her.  It's the same way she described her anger getting the best of her when she was 5 years old.  But, unlike that 5 year old that would lash out physically, Kai now just resorts to telling or stomping or leaving the situation.  But, she recognizes that anger in her and knows that she has to get past it.  And, once it's gone, she is so good at analyzing the situation and figuring out what to do differently in the future.

It's hard growing up.  Watching her grown up and navigate these difficult relationships can be so painful at times, and makes me think of my own struggles with friends and relationships.  But, Kai has that deep sense of justice, of fairness, and of reconciliation.  She also knows how to look within and make amends.  She's a big personality -- but, having introspection helps to temper her personality, at least in those quieter moments when the conflict has subsided. 

She reminds me of myself in many ways -- I wrote so many letters to my mom and others after a conflict.  I was always trying to sort things out and figure out what made myself and others tick.  But, I don't think I was quite as introspective as she was when I was nine.  I remember most of that coming after my car accident when I was 12.  Kai has always had this deep understanding of her emotions and the ability to articulate what she's feeling and thinking.  It's a remarkable gift. I love listening to her sort out the world and people around her. 

It might make for some rocky teen years -- but, it may also be the key to getting through those years.  She feels things so deeply, but has the analytical ability to make sense of those very deep feelings.  It's a good combination. And, I'm excited to see where it takes her.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mother's Day Picnic


Since Alden is our second, I have been through the pre-school and kindergarten Mother's Day celebrations at school a few times.  When Kai was at Lauren's house when she was 2 and 3, the kids made us a special card and sang a song.  At Spanish School, all the moms came to preschool for the morning and listened to the kids sing us a song, then we spent time at each of the pampering stations (they did our nails, brushed our hair, did a craft with us, etc) while eating scones and other treats the school had provided for us.  At Thornhill, when she was in Kindergarten, I think she just came home with a card and some sort of craft.  Then, in 1st grade, the moms went to school and got seated by our children at their desk and they scampered off to fetch us coffee and pastries.  After we had our morning treat, they sang us a song and we were on our way. 

Maybe it's because of these prior experiences that I didn't read the email about Alden's preschool Mother's Day celebration with the utmost attention.  I knew that we were going on a picnic with our children and taking a bus to the park.  I knew I needed to be to the school at 10 AM.  So, I dropped Alden off in the morning and went to a nearby coffee shop to work for a couple of hours before the designated meeting time. Alden was so excited when I returned, flying into my arms to give me a hug and declare that we were "going on a BUS to the PICNIC!"  It was very cute.  One of the teacher's asked me if I could also be Sophie's chaperone for the day, since her Mom couldn't make it and she and Alden were such close friends.  I agreed, of course.  We listened to the instructions in circle time, got our bus passes, and lined up to go the bus stop. The kids had also told their teachers what they loved about their mom, and there was a collage of their statements on the wall.  Alden said he loved when I picked him up and when I took him to Will's house -- which, of course, I took a picture of and sent to Cathy.  It was pretty cute.


We go to the parent meetings at Alden's school and all the social events they put on, so I had seen most of the moms before.  Although, that said, I didn't know anyone very well besides one or two other moms, that I've talked to more extensively a few times.  But, we chatted and rode the bus to the park.  When we got there, all the other moms started pulling out large picnic blankets.  I had a purse on me.  Nothing else.  I hadn't noticed, until that moment, that the other moms had larger bags and backpacks.  But, now it appeared there was a reason.  I looked around for someone I knew to try to sit with.  Meanwhile, the kids gathered together to sing us a song, so I stopped looking for a place to sit and went to where I could watch the performance.  It was super cute -- Alden had been singing the song to me for a couple of days, so I knew what was coming, but it is always adorable to see them all singing together. 

After the song, the kids ran to their moms, who turned and walked them back to the picnic blankets.  Ugh.  Back to this.  Only, now, everyone also started pulling out the lunches they had brought for their children.  LUNCHES!  Ack!  Seriously.  Since when is a Mother's Day celebration a day when you have to take off work, pack your child and you a lunch, bring something to sit on, and then watch your child at the park?  The school was essentially celebrating Mother's Day by giving their folks a day off while the mommies did what mommies do -- watch their kids!

So, I had no food.  And I had not one, but two kids.  Sophie looked up at me and said, "Did you bring my lunch?"  Of course not! I hadn't brought anyone lunch.  One of the teacher's intervened, claiming it was their fault they hadn't grabbed Sophie's lunch.  I didn't mention that Alden was also lunchless.  I think they assumed I had food for me and Alden. 

Alden didn't really seem to care.  He wanted to go play on the playground.  And was thrilled to have me with him for the day.  He had sat on my lap on the bus and held my hand when we were walking outside . He gave me repeated hugs and kisses.  He was beyond thrilled.  And, we found another mom, that I barely knew, to sit with and she shared both her blanket and her food with us.  I made self-deprecating jokes about my inability to read emails... my go to way of handling these awkward moments. And, it was fine. Not my finest moment, but it ended up being a fine day thanks to the generosity and kindness of other moms and the sweetness and cuddles of my little boy.

video

I was recounting the day to another friend later on who, besides thinking it was hilarious, reminded me that all that really mattered was I was there.  I suppose that's true -- but, do think that Mother's Day Celebrations that expect the moms to do all the work are not really celebrations... just saying.

On the actual day, the kids made be breakfast, cards and let me stay upstairs by myself for a few hours while they cooked.  We went to pizza with some of my favorite families for dinner and had a lovely day in between riding bikes and playing at the park.  It was as Mother's Day should be!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Two Night Adventure

I mentioned recently that Kai got to go on a two night trip to the Marin Headlands with her class.  She was nervous about going.  I love how she handles her nerves.  She's a planner and an organizer.  She made sure I put the packing list on the bulletin board and added her own additions to the list (stuffed animal, cards, books, and an extra blanket).  About a week before, she started reminding me every day that she needed to pack.  I was in D.C. the week leading up to her trip, and got home the Saturday before (she left on a Monday).  She was quite concerned that there was NO WAY we were going to be able to get her ready to go in one day.  But, somehow we managed.

We did end up having to go to REI to get her a daypack.  Her school backpack is pretty flimsy and wouldn't have really been a good thing to bring on long hikes.  So, we headed to REI to find a hydration pack.  Kai specifically wanted a hydration pack.  It took a bit of negotiating to get her to agree to the one that was the right size but wrong color -- but, we got there.  And, by the time we left the store, she had come around telling me, "it is more important to be able to take all my stuff.. the color is not the most important thing."  I nodded in agreement (muttering to myself that I had been saying that for the last hour). 

She left on a Monday morning -- it really is remarkable how different it is having two kids at home versus one.  So quiet -- even when the one is Alden (who can be quite loud).  We went to pizza with Will and Cathy on Tuesday night as a special outing for Alden. And, Alden relished the time alone with us.  He definitely doesn't get that much.  But, I missed Kailey and felt down the whole time she was gone.  It was so strange not having her in the house. 

When Kai got home on Wednesday, she was SO excited.  She told us all about eating a whole apple core, learning a secret handshake for the apple core club, kissing a banana slug, going on a blindfold hike, seeing a whale and a deer, the bonfire and camp songs, and so much more!  On Friday, when she got home from school, she told us a story about her day by starting off saying, "today at school... because we weren't really used to being back at school yet after our long trip.." I restrained myself from laughing.  By Friday, she had been back for as long as she had been gone -- but, I know how a big trip (especially one without her family) can feel so significant.  It clearly impacted her in a profound way.

I'm so glad she's at a school where she gets these experiences to study outside the classroom, build her independence, and see the world.  It was a great experience for her and now she cannot wait for her week away next year (when they head to Yosemite). 



Birthday Weekend

We're nearly at the end of the birthday season in our house -- just Eric's to go.  And, Eric's is a little less compressed since he's about 6 weeks after me (a reasonable amount of time between birthdays).  Alden and Kai are 3 weeks apart and Kai and I are another 3 weeks.  It's a lot of birthdays.  I think this year, we managed the birthday madness well.  Alden had a party.  For Kailey's, we took a special trip and spent time with family.  And, for mine, we went away for a weekend as a family to Monterey and hit the aquarium and the beach.  So, really, they both got an added adventure thrown in! 

We went to the aquarium with Kai when she was about 3 years old and it was fun to go there again with Alden at that age.  He loved the sea otters, the octopus and the area upstairs designed for toddlers (the splash zone).  Kai is in the middle of doing a report for school about sea turtles, so she was super excited to see the sea turtles in action.  And, we also happened upon the Stanford University Marine Center open house, where she got to meet a graduate student who specializes in the study of sea turtles.  It was a fun day (other than the car ride to get there -- Kai used to be a great car traveler.  Now, not so much.  And, Alden has always been terrible at long car trips.  He gets car sick -- which is really not fun and means that he cannot do much of anything while in the car other than listen to music.  So, the car rides are torture on everyone). 






Anytime we go to a hotel with a pool, that's a vacation unto itself.  So, after the day at the aquarium and the Marine Center, we headed to the hotel and played in the pool and hot tub.  Alden cannot swim.  But, he is convinced he can and has no fear.  He jumps off the edge before anyone is ready to catch him and scares the bejeezus out of both of us.  So, while the pool is a blast -- it's also a little scary.  Alden will definitely be taking swim lessons this summer.   He has been getting better at floating on his back and can do it by himself with just a single finger from one of us supporting him.  And, when he's in the bathtub at home, he'll flip on his back and shout with glee, "I'm FLOATING!"  He is so anxious to catch up to Kailey and to be able to do all the stuff she can do.  He watches her with awe as she dives under the water and swims independently.  Soon, Alden.  You'll be there soon. 

The next day, we swam in the pool a bit more in the morning before heading to the beach for the day.  They had a blast playing with the kite, building sandcastles, eating a picnic on the beach, and chasing each other.  It was a fun day and they fell asleep almost immediately when we got in the car.  At 4 PM. Ugh.  I think they would have slept the whole way home but that would have been a disaster at bedtime.  So, we woke them up at about 5 and they were NOT HAPPY about that development.  The last couple of hours home were miserable.  They were both completely beside themselves. 

But, other than not being able to handle the discomfort of car rides -- we had a great time and it was nice cap to the birthday madness. Happy 41st birthday to me! 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Vocabulary


Alden is such a talker these day.  He is often very deliberate in his word choice and clever is describing concepts to us when we cannot understand his pronunciation of a word.  I've been doing  a lot of ordering from Amazon Prime Now these days because they deliver basic necessities (milk, cheese, popsicles, ice cream, paper towels, wine glasses... yes, wine glasses) to the house in a 2 - 4 hour time frame for FREE.  It's so much better than loading the kids into the car and going to the store.  Alden asked what I was doing the other day and I told him I was getting him milk.  He was fascinated that the phone could bring us milk -- and I told him a person would bring it and that we could look at the map and see where the person getting the milk was.  The real time map has a little dot that shows you where your house is and where the delivery person is so you can track their arrival.  Alden thought it was pretty cool and was excited when the milk arrived.

A week later, I was ordering again and Alden said, "is the dot coming here soon?"  I had no idea what he was talking about.  Of course, it's obvious what he was talking about because I just told the first part of the story and in this retelling there is not a week's worth of activities in between. But, in real life, I had completely forgotten about showing him the app with the dot moving towards our house.  I looked at him and said, blankly, "what?"  And he said again, "the dot is coming?"  I still had no idea what he was talking about.  "What dot, Alden?"  Now he was the one to be exasperated. "On your phone.  The dot.  It's coming?"  Now I thought he was talking about the bubble buster game I seem to have developed a minor obsession with and so I just sort of shrugged and said something about the bubble game.  Kailey jumped in and said, "he's talking about the map where you can track the delivery" and Alden said, "YES! The dot.  It's coming with the milk?"  Siblings are the best interpreters.

Then today, while we were riding in the car to school and listening to Moana songs Alden was recounting what part of the movie the various songs went to.  He said, "this is the song where Moana's dad is MAAAADDD" using his growly voice to emphasize the word "mad".  The next song he inquired, "what happens here?"  And I told him, "this is when she finds the boats to go on her journey."  Alden scrunched up his face in confusion and said, "JOURNEY? What's THAT word?" I said, "journey is like a big trip.  Moana goes on a big trip across the ocean.  That is a journey."  Alden thought about that for a moment and then said, "did Mama go on a journey when you were gone?"  He was talking about the previous week that I had spent in D.C.  My trips really seem to impact him.  You've never seen a kid so happy as when I get home.  He was dancing around, singing, hugging me, and proclaiming his love for everyone in our family.  And he kept saying, "Mama is HERE!" like he couldn't believe I had finally gotten myself extracted from the phone to materialize before him again.  I told him, "yes, Mama was on a journey to D.C.  A trip.  And I came back."  Alden said, "Moana is on a journey and Mama went on a journey... and ALDEN goes on a journey on a plane with Mama?"  I laughed and told him we had just been on a journey to San Diego.  He nodded, seeming to feel confident in his new understanding of the word.  I expect to hear more about journeying in the days to come.

It's fun to be able to have such full conversations with Alden and see how his questioning mind is processing the world around him.  He definitely takes it all in. He is such a bright and inquisitive little boy -- although, don't call him little!!  He will quickly correct you and either remind you that he is a BIG boy or claim that he is not a boy at all -- "I'm an Alden" he'll say with certainty.  That he is.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Break in San Diego

Because of the way I label posts (some for Kailey, some for Alden, and some for both -- to help in the creation of the annual books!), I am posting the San Diego pictures separately from Kai's birthday post (because I want both kids to have the San Diego pictures in their annual books). 

We had such fun playing together over Spring Break -- a little beach, the zoo, and lots of family.  I love traveling with these two.  Alden is so enthusiastic about new activities.  He constantly exclaims about how much he LOVES what we are doing.  And, Kai has always been an amazing traveler.

Here's a summary of our trip, in pictures!