melina

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happy sixth, melina!

Posted by lynn on 02 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: melina

Big 6

beelergirls

Our first baby turned six yesterday! She and I started the celebration Friday right after school, with a cafe treat and a pedicures followed by a trip to our new library with sis. In the process of trading pink for gold as her favorite color, Melina opted for a pink-gold pattern on both fingers and toes. She also got to pick out a balloon from the party store: a big gold 6 with pink ribbons!

table

makingicecream

Saturday was both her birthday and birthday party day. (At first this fact disappointed her – she likes to spread things out – but she soon saw the beauty of all that concentrated attention.) She decided to have an ice cream party at Fentons Creamery and invited friends from school, her after school program, the neighborhood, and of course Lily and Emma.

icecream

tart

We had a blast! The kids got to color, eat lunch, chat, watch ice cream being made, then pick their very own flavor from the big display at the front. We had most the back room to ourselves so didn’t really bother anyone else with our party noise.

In the evening Kai returned from Mosaic camp and joined us for Melina’s birthday dinner. At first she wanted to go out, but at the last minute opted for a pizza and movie night (Wizard of Oz) followed by her lemon birthday tart. Yummy fun. Happy birthday to my girl!

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!

snow!

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

snow_cousins

tubing

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.

sled

snowman

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.

growing girls

Posted by lynn on 09 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: melina, nalani

bubbles

beads

Our girls continue to grow and flourish. Friends who haven’t seen them in a while take one look at Nalani and say “she’s looking more and more like Melina every day!” and one of Mina’s school friends recently told Nali to her face: “You’re a mini Melina!” Nalani just said, “No, I’m Nalani.” And regardless of her looks, she certainly is her own person.

morn_sugarface

lil_princesses

Our baby’s biggest current feat is potty training. It happened so quickly that on her first diaper-free day at preschool she was also underwear-free: Her teacher had asked if she wanted to try using the potty instead of diapers and she said yes, but we hadn’t brought any panties so she had to go commando. The whole day. (She didn’t mind – and didn’t have a single accident.) Overall it’s still a work-in-progress but we’re happy to see her on the right track.

jan_walk

lilfarm

Nali continues to be rambunctious, decisive, and happy. Besides the potty, these days she’s spending a lot of time honing her cutting skills. She’ll cut anything paper-like in sight: brochures, stickers, the plastic baggie that was holding the stickers. We sometimes walk into a room full of confetti if she’s been left alone to “craft” for just five minutes. She also moved to a big-girl (really, toddler) bed last month and loves it. She recognizes when she’s tired and goes to bed easily. The other night she simply said “good night, Mama” and kinda pushed me away. Other nights she’ll ask for a song or story or lift up her shirt and say “here,” meaning “please rub my back.”

dance

100dayschool

Last month we took the whole family to a classroom cleanup event at Melina’s kindergarten. Nalani was super excited about “going to kindergarten,” and when we got there she even asked Ms. W which one was her cubby. She scrubbed chairs and washed paint cups, and tripped over the teacher’s dog… and when we got home wondered aloud why there weren’t any stories or circle time. When Joey took her to school on Monday she was also a little confused why she wasn’t in the car with her sis heading to elementary. She asked, “But where are you taking me?” When Joey said “preschool” she just shrugged, then happily ran to her friends when they arrived.

gardening

toddlerbed

Speaking of kindergarten, Melina is reading! She flies through simple early readers (“BOB” books) and sounds out more “complex” early readers like Fancy Nancy or the Pinkalicious series. Nalani also “sounds out” the letters and words in a book – or at least she thinks she’s doing that. “Pp-iii-gg” when the real word is, say, bat. But she’s going through the motions and one day it will serve her well. At their after school program, Melina and Kai both continue to dazzle us with their performing arts performances. They both expressed sheer joy during the dance program, where they each performed three dances – from African to modern (Melina) to the Charleston (Kai) with their peers.

mudpies

dinnerprep

Our big girl loves to write, and, thanks to Ms. W, has finally learned it’s ok to sound out words on your own and not look to me to help her with every single sound. This means words like “gardener” and “when” come out “grdnr” and “wen,” but this is how she’ll learn to spell on her own. Melina does, however, have a perfectionist streak that’s starting to shine pretty clearly. When she’s tired she’ll insist on re-doing a homework drawing or word up to five times, and once was so frustrated by the imperfect “e” in Melina she wound up erasing a hole in her paper. She also loves having a tightly made bed, with all her animals lined up perfectly at the foot. No one can help her, because we never do it quite right. While big sis is pretty easygoing overall, she, too, knows her own mind!

christmas

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

cousins_tree

bear_rudolph

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.

breakfast

presents

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.

three_generations

joey_me

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

family

kids

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.

kids_longshot

poppers_mama_bw

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.

nalani_swing

melina_swing

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.

mama_nala_color

mina_dada

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.

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.

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?

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.

with_sibs_1012_crunched

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.

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