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dancin’ kiddos

Posted by lynn on 23 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: community, friends, melina

This afternoon I happened to catch Melina and her buddies practicing a salsa routine for their upcoming after-school program performance. Look at them go!

ballerina weekend

Posted by lynn on 16 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: friends, melina

arms up

finale

My little ballerina got a bit of a dream weekend, with both days filled with ballet. This morning she performed with her junior ballet class – and good friends Lily and Emma – in a real theater in front of an audience of a couple hundred parents and siblings. They all did beautifully! Not an ounce of stage fright from my “slow-to-warm” girl, and we saw confidence and joy emanate from her face.

flowers

nutcracker

Yesterday we joined Kendall and Rachel for a trip to Melina’s first viewing of the Nutcracker, at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley. The performance featured students of the Berkeley Ballet, some of them not much older than Melina and the oldest still teenagers. They danced beautifully, Melina was mesmerized, and to top off the event we got to meet the dancers on stage after the performance.

thanksgiving weekend

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

turkeyday_kids

dessert

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.

walk

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.

wagon

7cousins

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!

halloween

Posted by lynn on 02 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: community, friends, kai, melina, nalani

nali_parade

m_parade

What a jam-packed Halloween we had this year! On my agenda were two school parades (preschool and elementary), volunteering at the Halloween centers in Melina’s classroom, a half day of work, a parade and costume contest at the community center around the corner (also home to Melina and Kai’s after school program), and finally a potluck with trick-or-treating at the Beelers. Phew!

sibs

costume_contest

Melina had been looking forward to Halloween with as much enthusiasm as she counts down to her birthday and Christmas. It’s a big deal. And it didn’t disappoint: she had a full bag of treats before she even left kindergarten for the afternoon, and it only grew from there. The rec center party was especially impressive: they paraded for nearly a mile, with a few police escorts down the busier streets. And afterwards the auditorium was packed with costume contest participants.

trickortreat_poppers

tracees_groupshot

We also got a chance to trick-or-treat down our block on the way home. Nalani took it all in stride and got the swing of this candy-asking thing by the second house. (At the first, she knocked, and when someone answered the door she turned and walked away.)

Happy start to the holiday season!

fish ‘n pumpkins

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

fishing

friends_n_fish

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.

caught

family_pumpkins

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.

girls

kids_fenestra

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

readytoroll_streets_blog

family_sundaystreets2012blog

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.

friends_streets_blog

kids_streets_blog

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.

schultz_streets_bike_blog

sundaystreets_group_blog

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!

lifelong friends

Posted by lynn on 07 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: friends, melina, nalani

reunion

hugs

We’re feeling the full swing of fall, complete with the back-to-school groove, leaves dropping from trees, plenty of festivals, and Melina’s first mini-reunion with her close group of preschool friends. Maya couldn’t make it, but the rest of the gang (including token boy Liem) gathered at Frog Park for a morning of non-stop giggles, chasing, and fun. Nalani and I joined after her swim class across town, and she was thrilled to see Max, Miya’s little brother and her new Duckie classmate at the “big” kids’ alma mater.

nali_max

specialstudentcelebration

We started off the weekend with Melina’s Special Student celebration in her kindergarten class. The kids all showed off their Special Student books and enjoyed tea and cookies. Melina was extra thrilled because I picked her up directly from school (not the bus or after school program), and as a bonus we hung out on the playground for an hour afterwards so she could play with new friends and I could chat with other moms.

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original_group_crunched

We also hosted the mommy/play group potluck this month, with a “back to school, easy meals!” theme (appropriate, huh?). Every family made it, which meant around 18 kids and 18 adults in our house for several hours Friday night, and it was fabulous! We took advantage of the full turnout to get a group shot of the kiddos for the first time in 18 months. This is our fourth group photo shoot over the years, with the first taking place five years ago, coincidentally almost to the day. Take a look at how our babes have grown (in size and number) from four months, to 17 months, to approaching four years in age.

oregon road trip

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

waterbabes

sarah_me

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.

follow_leader

daddy_poppers_beach

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.)

nali_joy_beach

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.

arches

sarah_mina_dusk

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.

tillamook_icecream

dinnerkids

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.

OMSIarch

HUB

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!

congrats, mary and craig!

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

partyhat

loot

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.

sundaebar

bedtime

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.

us_wine

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.)

bride_groom

ceremony

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.

us_wedding

bigtentcrew

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!

playtime at asilomar

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

family

slide

Outside Mary and Craig’s official wedding week events (to be highlighted in an upcoming post very, very soon), we had plenty of time to explore the Monterey Peninsula on our own and hang out with friends. We also got to experience micro-climates even more extreme in the Bay Area, meaning the girls learned the true value of dressing in layers.

joey_girls

swimming

Melina and I especially took advantage of several opportunities to swim. Our very first full day, my childhood friend Laney invited us to her parents house in Carmel Valley to dip in the pool and enjoy the warmer, valley weather. Melina had a blast playing with Campbell (who is actually closer in age to Nalani, but also much closer to three.) It took Nalani a bit longer to warm up to the water, but before long she was also jumping off the side and practicing her kicking as I glided her across the pool.

lounge

hands

The next day we took our chances at the chillier Asilomar pool. It was really chillier times two: the weather was a good 15 degrees cooler (and they sky gray instead of blue), and the pool wasn’t nearly as heated as the one at Laney’s parents’ golf club community. Melina didn’t seem to mind. We just kept moving! By the end she attempted to swim on her own, but we’ll need a few more pool sessions for her to fully take off. Nalani dipped one toe in the water and decided that was enough. But she had fun watching big sis.

wheeee_mina

bridge

The day of the ceremony we joined Laney and family at the Dennis the Menace Playground in Monterey. I have vague memories of this park from my own childhood, and it’s been around since before I was born. The place is fabulous, one of the larger playgrounds I’ve seen and set right against the water. The girls especially liked the big slide made of hundreds of thin red rollers, the lion’s mouth drinking fountain (that was a definite memory-jogger!), and the long wobbly rope bridge.

babygirl

trail

We also had plenty of mellow fun just walking around the gorgeous conference grounds, exploring Pacific Grove, playing games like Sleeping Queens in the Marlin room (designated social room for the entire week), and hanging out with friends old (my fellow BigTenters) and new (for Melina, of the 4- to 7-year-old girl variety). By the end of our four days, our appetite for recreation was sated and we were ready to take on our daily lives once again… at least until the next vacation!

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