Monday, May 22, 2017


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.

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


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!



She's a year away from double digits.  My little 3 pound baby is now a head-strong, chapter-reading, questioning, soccer-playing NINE year old.  Next year is a big one, I suppose -- the big 1-0.  But, somehow, the precipice of tweenhood (and then teenhood) feels big to me.  Like I need to grab onto this last year of her girlhood.  She's on a two-night trip with school right now.  She was so nervous about going, but excited too.  And, it kept feeling like it would just be a moment before she'd have those same butterflies as she heads off to a summer away or to college.  She's halfway to 18. 

It's a strange thing to be the parent.  I so distinctly remember my impatience at growing up when I was young. I was so ready to be a grown up (or, so I thought) and thought it was taking forever to get there.  And yet, with my own children, it is whizzing by.  I know they feel that impatience at being older and the triumph of every passing year.  Kai keeps telling me that she cannot believe she's almost in FIFTH grade (completely skipping over the fact that she is not yet in the fourth grade).  I recognize that desire in her.  But, despite that recognition, I just want to slow it all down for her.  And, I say that even though I actually prefer my adult self over my child self.  I like being a grown up and I know Kai will like it, too.  So, it's not for her own sake that I wish it to slow down. It's for MY sake.  We are so busy and there are so many demands on our time -- I rarely feel like I get moments to just soak up these days and enjoy their childhoods (even though I know they, themselves, are soaking up their days and moving in their own world that actually spins at a much slower pace than my own jam-packed world of meetings, traveling, and parenting...)  It's a strange juxtaposition to know that our universes swirl at different speeds -- but, still, I will it to be slower (and yet, each year goes by a bit faster than the last). 

Last year was the biggest party I may ever throw in my life.  and this year we didn't do a party for Kailey at all.  Instead, we gathered in San Diego with my parents, Kate and Becca for some much needed beach time.  It was fun to take the kids to the beach.  San Diego beaches are warm enough for body surfing and lots of wave splashing, which both kids loved doing.  Alden kept exclaiming about how much he LOVED the water and the sand and the zoo and the pool.  Kai was in her element in the water.  She is a fish.  Has been since her earliest days. 

She got a ton of books for her birthday.  She is such a reader now -- but, I think she has about 10 new books to occupy the next few months (really, it will only take her a few months to read them all!)  She says "really" all the time now as a way to start her sentences, as though we don't believe what she has just said. 

Nine year old Kailey is a scholar, an athlete, a patient sister, and full of insight.  This year has also been the beginning of a political awakening for her.  Earlier than many -- but necessitated by the politics of the day.  She is paying more attention to the news and asking so many questions.  A lot of the books she is reading right now relate to uprisings, civil rights, and some of our darker periods of history.  It's great to see her exploring these themes and paying attention to the world -- although, I wish the times were different and we could be doing all of that exploration more in the abstract. 

April is always a crazy month -- and this year her birthday was sandwiched between a LOT of work travel for me.  I feel like I hardly got to take a breath this month -- which made the trip to San Diego all the more needed.  It was fun to get a long weekend with family.  Kai spent about two hours in the pool trying to stand up and balance on a boogie board.  She has such persistence and determination.  She would not give up.  There was another little 3 or 4 year old in the pool with us a good chunk of the time that Kai was trying so hard to balance and when the little girl got ready to go, she turned to Kai and said, "you're really good... I hope you can do it soon."  Kai has that ability to never give up.  To try and try again.  It's a remarkable gift - the gift of grit and perseverance.  I love seeing her try and improve and, ultimately, succeed.  She's a wonder to watch.

I want to grab onto this year.  Both kids are at such good ages.  Kai is such a big kid now.  Full of understanding and starting to anticipate the needs of others.  She is such a big help and so tuned into what's going on with everyone around her.  The other day when I was being cranky she said to me, "you're not cranky at me... you're cranky at Alden but then you just get mad at everyone around you."  She was right, and her insight stopped me in my tracks.  And, I apologized. 

She teaches me things about myself every day and makes me a better person.  She's been making me a better person since the moment she was born.  I'm so lucky to get to be her Mama.

For now, she's still a girl who likes getting her face painted, singing at the top of her voice to the Moana songs, playing pretend with her brother (although, sometimes she gets sick of being the mom while he is the baby... his favorite game), playing games, cuddling with her parents, sleeping with the lights on around her bed, and snuggling her kitties.  For a little while longer, she's still our little girl.

I love you to the moon and back and around again, Kailey!!

Happy NINTH birthday!