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Posted by lynn on 10 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: family, melina, nalani, travel



It’s official. Our kids like the snow as much as I do. Sorry Joey, you’re outnumbered! Last year Nalani had a cold (and was, well, one year old) and didn’t seem too thrilled by all that cold white stuff on the ground. This year, she was the one who wanted to jump on an inner tube ride – over and over and over again – “all by myself.” She didn’t even reach the 36″ minimum height requirement, but the teenage line monitor (and tire pusher/spinner) didn’t care, even when I asked. It wasn’t unsafe. She was just out of my eyesight for a few minutes. And thrilled about it.



Melina kept to sledding, throwing snowballs at cartoon targets, and helping Daddy, Lucas, and Nali build a snowman for a contest. (They won third place! A snow robot took first.) Lucas and Noah did plenty of tube riding themselves (as did Stacie and I), and the two little Hams romped around in the snow. We absolutely loved Tahoe Donner, and by the time we left even Joey agreed that we should rent a cabin with cousins there next year. My only addition: Next year, I’m getting on skiis again for the first time in 10 years.


Posted by lynn on 30 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: family, melina, nalani



Melina had been counting down the days since my birthday (conveniently, also the first day of advent), and was bouncing off the walls when December 24 finally arrived. Nalani (who still deserves the nickname echo for how she copies big sis) followed suit, and before long we were off to our Roseville celebration with Grandma, Grandpa, and a house full of cousins.



Melina and Lucas didn’t miss a beat in connecting over markers and stacks of plain white paper in Lucas’ art area. Nali and Ella immediately ran towards each other and asked to go outside. Noah played solo with his Legos and toddler Zoe said “hi” with outstretched “pick me up” arms to any adult in sight. We got the celebration rolling with no fewer than eight (might have been more) steaks on German’s new smoker, plus lasagna, a gingerbread trifle, and plenty of wine, beer, and other sweets.



The kids sprinkled the Ham’s front lawn with reindeer food (dry oats and glitter) for Santa’s crew, and set out cookies for Santa himself before going to bed, more or less successfully considering it was Christmas Eve. In the morning Nalani found her asked-for blue present with a black bear inside, and Melina a huge Rudolph with a light-up nose. She had been asking Santa for Rudolph for two years and he finally came through!

Happy holidays to all!

santa spirit

Posted by lynn on 21 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: family, kai, melina, nalani



We’ve been gearing up for Christmas all month, starting with a family photo shoot (the visuals of this post) for our annual holiday card and, well, because we hadn’t had a family photo shoot since Nalani was eight weeks old. Now, at 2 1/2, she happened to fall off a swing right before the photographer arrived, but we still managed to get some sweet (if not-so-smiley) shots.



We’ve also had performances: Kai and Melina sang in a beautifully staged and sung choral performance with their after school program; Nalani dressed as an elf for her preschool singalong; and Melina’s kindergarten class staged a re-enactment of the story of the gingerbread boy and girl. We’ve decorated gingerbread and cutout cookies with friends and classmates, made multiple batches of cookies, and decorated and re-decorated the house.



We’ve had incredibly specific Santa requests, like this exchange I recently had with Nalani:
Poppers, what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?
A present.
What kind of present?
A blue present.
What’s in the blue present?
A bear…. a black bear.



And we’ve been entertained daily by the Santa musings of an uber-curious five-year-old. Some recent examples follow. (I wish I’d written down more of them!)
Melina: Does Santa Claus ever die?
Me: No, he’s magical.
What about his elves and the rest of his crew?
They’re magical too.
When he delivers presents to China is it light out?
No, he delivers them at night there, too.
But since it’s daytime here when it’s night there, maybe we’ll see him in the sky?
Hmmm, I never thought of it that way. Sure, maybe.

A few days later:
How does Santa fly so fast? Can he fly without his reindeer? (Stream-of-conscious non-sequitur:) How do babies know to start growing in their mommy’s tummy?

And just tonight:
The thing about Santa is, he knows everything, but how does he know how *everyone* has been good or bad?

Most my answers to her questions focus on the magic of Santa, which translates easily into the magic of the season and the spirit of giving (Santa) in all of us. I have a feeling by age six she’ll have made this logical connection all on her own.

Happy holidays! Enjoy the magic of the season.

thanksgiving weekend

Posted by lynn on 25 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends



This year Thanksgiving had a few twists and last-minute turns. We’d planned to celebrate with my parents in San Jose, but a week earlier jointly decided it would make more sense to gather in Berkeley. My parents were winding down their 2-week-long babysitting stint for the Ham kids while Stacie and German adopted Zoe from China. And we Rapozas wanted to travel to Roseville the day after Thanksgiving to meet our newest family member. Thanksgiving in Berkeley meant less prep stress for Mom, and less travel stress for us.


It also meant our first chance to host turkey dinner in our “new” house. We’d hosted a handful of times at our Alcatraz pad with it’s modern convection oven, and had successfully roasted two chickens at once in our newly-acquired 1940’s Wedgewood oven, but had yet to put our kitchen centerpiece to the 13-pound turkey test. Hosting also allowed us to invited the Schultzes to join us and my parents for a relaxing afternoon of food, festivities, and plenty to drink.



On Friday we hopped in the van and headed up to Roseville to meet 17-month-old Zoe and welcome her to the extended family. She had a cold and was still adjusting to a brand-new life with three brand-new siblings, but enjoyed waving and saying “hi” over and over, and watching the other kids indulge in plenty of good ole’ cousin playtime. We can’t wait to see her (and the whole Ham clan) again for Christmas next month!

fish ‘n pumpkins

Posted by lynn on 24 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, melina, nalani



We had a jam-packed weekend! On Saturday we headed north with the Schultzes and Maloneys for James’ birthday celebration. The very full day included coffee and pastries at the French Hotel, fishing at a trout farm near Bolinas (the fish were so hungry that four kids caught close to 10 fish within an hour), a late lunch at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma (gorgeous day meant a packed patio), and finally pizza and birthday cake back in Berkeley.



Lily and Melina enjoyed fishing but didn’t seem to quite capture the dead fish part of it – even after watching them get gutted. Nalani wanted nothing to do with it, only the snacks we brought along. But little Joey and Nolan Maloney were addicted! Looks like James found some fishing partners after all. Next time hopefully Kai can join as well.



We got to sleep in a little later on Sunday but not by much: We met my TechTV ladies (Karen, Jenny, and Jenn) and their families down in Livermore for our now annual pumpkins and wine tradition. The kids had fun riding with pumpkins in wagons, building pumpkin pyramids, and running through a hay maze. A short drive down the rode and the adults had fun picnicking over several bottles of Malbec and Pinot Noir at Fenestra Winery. Certainly a something-for-everyone sort of day.

And now back to the grind – and perhaps a little bit of rest?

sunday streets

Posted by lynn on 19 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: community, family, friends



Last Sunday, Berkeley closed down 17 blocks of Shattuck Avenue to create a 1 1/4 mile-long block party. We have festivals all the time, especially in the fall, but always smaller-scale in geography and larger-scale in the number of food, craft, and music booths packed into a relatively small space. Sunday Streets is a growing, world-wide movement and is all about opening up a main artery to the walking and cycling public, letting the community take back the streets for an afternoon in a very literal and more personal way.



Rachel, Kendall, Mina, and I biked up Shattuck right before the party started but after the street was blocked off. (Empty! Exhilarating! Barely 11am and we could already feel what this was all about). We soon met up with the Schultzes and the Beelers at the top of the event in Gourmet Ghetto. We spent most the day together, trying to keep track of seven kids and at least four or five nicely-shared bikes and helmets between us.



We walked, and rode, and watched the kids get their faces painted and decorate pumpkins. We drank beer from Andronico’s out of plastic cups and bought the kids ice cream drumsticks from the grocery store because the line for fancy sorbet was about two-dozen deep. The party officially ran from 11am to 4pm. We planned to go for a couple hours early on then head back in time for Nalani’s afternoon nap. We ended up staying until well past three. No nap for little monkey that day: we were all having too much fun!

oregon road trip

Posted by lynn on 26 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel



We did it! We pulled off a fun road trip (almost 30 hours of driving in all) with three little kids and a just-the-right-size minivan. Nine days in all, we traveled from Berkeley to Ashland to Portland to Rockaway Beach (OR coast)–and then back again, with some longer stops at the coast and in Portland. The key was keeping each driving stretch to no more than 2 1/2 or 3 hours, and no more than 5 1/2 or so hours each day.

See more of our favorite pictures in our Oregon Road Trip album.



We enjoyed small surprises at every stop. In Ashland we took advantage of a lovely outdoor pool at a sweet, garden-filled roadside motel (cottages, really) called The Palm. We also caught part of a free folklorico dance performance at the Shakespeare stage and got a rocky start to our Oregon brewery tour. (Standing Stone Brewery had a cool setting and bicycle theme, but the beer wasn’t great.)


Beach girl

We spent our first night in Portland at a hotel (complete with a pool looking out towards Vancouver, WA), more as a stop on the way to the coast than anything. It also allowed us to get re-acquainted with Sarah, Kari, and the girls at a much better brewery (Laurelwood) and check out Powells and infamous Voodoo Donuts the next morning. Somehow the kids and I managed to walk past the red-rope line guiders at Voodoo and right in to take our time picking out a bacon maple, rice crispies/chocolate/peanut butter, and rainbow-cereal-on-pink donut before finding a seat on the alley picnic tables. By then the line stretched halfway down the block.



The coast was lovely, and with record-hitting, 98-degree heat in Portland was also a perfect-weather (blanket o’ fog burning off to upper-70s by noon) getaway. You’d miss the town of Rockaway Beach if you blinked while heading up highway 101, but it has a small market, nowhere else you can really waste your money, and one of the widest, unpopulated stretches of coast I’ve ever seen–complete with a perfectly-placed rock arch jutting up from the sea on the horizon.



Kai and Joy spent hours in the sand, mostly kicking and throwing it to their hearts’ content, and without anyone near enough to care. Nalani scooped sand into buckets, dumped, and repeated. Melina and Linnea explored. And we all enjoyed countless games of Sleeping Queens, and introduction to duct tape art (Joy made Melina a purse!), and chill catch-up time.



Back in Portland we hit Powell’s again, visited the Oregon Science Museum (OMSI), had brunch at Portlandia-like Tin Shed, explored neighborhoods, and mostly just continued to hang out with Sarah and her family. By staying in her parents’ basement we also got to catch up with Ivona and Don and their two crazy cats, Bob and Zora. Oh, and we found our favorite restaurant ever: Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), with a great kiddie play area and the beer (Ace of Spades imperial IPA) that for the time being has ruined all other beer for me.

Portland, we’ll miss you!


Posted by lynn on 10 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: family, kai, melina, nalani, travel



We’ve made a yearly trip to Capitola a part of the Weiss (-Rapoza-Ham) family tradition. It all started when Melina was just three months old my parents rented one of the “Painted Ladies” that stretch right in front of the main beach – and (to harken to a longer-standing tradition) where we once stayed when I was just two or three years old.



As an aside, my two memories of that long-ago trip are playing in the lake water next to the sea (it’s now too polluted for swimming), and winding up in the emergency room with a burn to my side. I ran straight into a hot radiator when horsing around at the house, and the next thing I knew I was lying on a metal cot looking straight up at some very bright lights.



Now that we’re grown with kids of our own, sometimes Joey and I can only manage to get away for the day, but this year we made a long weekend of it and stayed for two nights. In all, we were six grown-ups and six kids. And we moved from the run-down (though super central) Painted Ladies to a house just up the river that actually fits our large headcount. As Melina pointed out, the new house is also “just around the corner and BAM you’re there!” to the ice cream shop.



Besides daily ice cream runs, other highlights this year included a trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (I got Kai to ride the Giant Dipper with me, wheeee!!), s’mores on the grill, plenty of sand-digging at the beach, and a late-evening Pinot Noir flight for Joey and me at the luxurious hidden-garden bar at Shadowbrook. Looking forward to next year, when, with Zoe’s upcoming adoption, the kids will outnumber the older-than-10 set.

damir-weiss reunion

Posted by lynn on 26 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: family, kai, melina, nalani

reunion 2012


We pulled it off! After a casual conversation with Aunt Sharon in May about trying to get as many of us as possible together, we managed to do it: Every single family descended from Grandma Damir made it, and outside Robert – who had to work at the last minute – every person made it, too. Traveling from as far as Seattle (and as close as Novato and Berkeley), my sister and I, our three cousins, and our spouses and kids all joined Aunt Sharon and Uncle Ray at my parents San Jose home for a full Saturday of fun.



We only had one planned event (if you can call it that). Ever since Rosa then Mary’s wedding, Melina has “really really really” wanted to be a flower girl. After Mary’s ceremony a few weeks ago, we told her she could be the flower girl of the reunion – an idea admittedly only half-baked in my own mind.



She latched onto this and had the whole event planned, from the dress she would wear, to the way the chairs would be set up with an aisle down the middle, to the Easter baskets she – and whoever else wanted to join her as flower girl or boy – would carry and toss flowers from. I warned the family ahead of time, and everyone played along beautifully after Melina and Lucas set up chairs as if facing a stage in my parents backyard.



And then, Melina sat down too. After all the anticipation, the planning, and the setup, she either froze or was simply done. Ella and Nalani took her place, tossing flowers as directed (well kinda – they ended up in a pile by a single back-row chair) then doing a speedy, disinterested run down the aisle and back.



Stacie and German brought a big, blow-up water slide that entertained half the kids (mainly Emmit, Jax, Melina, and Lucas) for the entire day. Another group of kids, including Kai, played board and computer games and planned a script for a video that unfortunately never got shot. After a pizza dinner and sundae-and-cookie-bar dessert, we started up a game of Pit – a tradition that seems pretty unique to my family and one that I’ve missed!

Everyone had fun playing, chatting, and catching up, and we need to make sure to do it again!

congrats, mary and craig!

Posted by lynn on 20 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel



Over the Fourth of July holiday we packed our van full of gear and girlies for an extended wedding celebration at Asilomar, near Monterey. This was no ordinary wedding. Last January my friend Mary and her fiancĂ© Craig sent a preliminary save-the-date for a series of one-week celebrations hosted at the conference grounds throughout the month of July. In order to keep the celebration both intimate and full of their favorite people, they decided to divide it into four separate celebrations – each with a surprise theme and complete with its own ceremony on the beach.



Wow. Then wow again, times three.

We arrived just in time for a private Independence Day BBQ. A looping shuttle took us from Asilomar to a courtyard in historic Monterey that was decked out in red, white, and blue, and circled by a dozen or so carnival booths. We drank delicious wine and beer, feasted on a huge picnic spread, and treated ourselves to the ice cream sundae and pie bar.


rosa lynn laney

But most fun were the carnival games: Melina got to try each game until she won. (Didn’t pop three balloons in five throws of a dart? Try again… and again, until you win!) And Nalani just had to stand and look cute in order to win a prize. By the end of the evening Melina counted 24 stuffed animal prizes in all – not to mention a number of silly bands and glow bracelets. (We donated over half the animals to children coming to future wedding weeks, and gave another third to friends.)



Other official wedding week activities included a well-orchestrated scavenger hunt on the Asilomar grounds (we had the team with the most kids, so guess where we fell in the competition?), a board game night, a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (complete with a picnic lunch!), and a lavish wine and cheese tasting party at a house they rented across from the conference grounds. Since Mary and Craig treated us to all the main events, Joey and I splurged on two nights of in-room babysitting, so we could attend game night and most of the wine tasting kid-free.



The ceremony itself was intimate, unique, and full serendipity – very Mary and Craig. We gathered at a meadow near the main lodge, where roles for the ceremony – everything from usher and bridesmaids to officiant and mother of the bride – were decided by a game of “Wedding Pit” (their invention, surely). Earning the role of “audience,” Joey and I walked along a narrow boardwalk path through coastal woods, then out onto a fog-lit beach a few hours before dusk. The vows were perfectly woven with the week’s gaming theme, as was the rendition of “The Newlywed Game” at the wedding reception that evening.

Congrats, Mary and Craig. We were honored to be a part of your celebration!

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