April 2012

Monthly Archive

dance recital + urban outdoors

Posted by lynn on 30 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, melina



Yesterday Melina and friends Lily and Emma had their first dance performance. The full show lasted over an hour, with each of the YMCA’s young movement classes dancing for around five minutes. Melina was excited and proud, stating “This is my first performance!” While she’s performed for parents at her school, this was in fact her first stage (ok, gym) performance in a non-familiar venue. They all did great!



Afterwards we celebrated at Jupiter with Emma and Lily and their families. We ended up skipping Nalani’s soccer class to do so, but after two rounds of swim class on Saturday followed by the dance recital Sunday morn, Joey and I were ready for something a little less planned and totally kid-centric. At Jupiter we could enjoy pizza, Red Spots, and grown-up company while the kids commandeered the fire fountain and stage-with-lounge-chairs before the patio got too crowded with other afternoon sun-seekers.



We spent the rest of our weekend on impromptu outdoor fun–of the urban variety. We finished our garage-front parklet, an idea inspired by the parklets (parking strips overtaken by temp-to-perm decks, outdoor tables and chairs, and a few potted plants) popping up at Oakland cafes. We also biked to one of those cafes on our first-ever full-family bike ride.



Melina and I have finally adjusted to the trail-a-bike, and Nali got to ride in the tot seat with Daddy while Kai followed behind. Next time we’ll try to plan enough in advance so some friends can meet us there for a pint while the kids take over the library corner and sip lemonades, which sounds like a great something-for-everyone activity in just about any weather. Do you see another theme popping up this weekend?


Posted by lynn on 16 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, nalani


With April 14 falling on a Saturday this year, we chose to have both our anniversary dinner and Nalani’s birthday party in one fun-packed weekend. This translated into an an anniversary date night on Saturday followed by a pizza party on Sunday. Last year we split up the celebrations, opting to postpone our anniversary dinner to the following weekend, or perhaps month. It’s the first year I don’t remember what we did, which makes me think it does matter that we mark the day for us as for well as our littlest girl.



To ramp it up even more, I signed up Nalani for Sunday tot soccer at the park down the street, with the first class happening a mere three hours before party time. Plus, Melina had ballet earlier that morning. Phew! This meant we spent Saturday morning in full party prep mode, instead of at the zoo or Little Farm (in honor of N’s bday) or on a San Francisco city walk (in honor of our anniversary) as we would have if the events were on separate weekends.


Between party shopping and Grandma and Grandpa’s (babysitters for the night) arrival on Saturday, I did manage to take the three kids on a bike ride around the park while Joey hung his Green Griffon Games sign from our garage (something he’d wanted to do for a while). And then, I finally got around to baking the cake. Our favorite banana cake recipe from scratch. By myself. But with three small helpers. I pulled it out of the oven less then 30 minutes before Joey and I headed out for a fabulous dinner and bottle pinot noir at Chez Panisse Cafe.



And woke up the next morning to find it had a huge crater in the center. What’s more, I knew immediately what went wrong: between Melina slipping off the stool with an egg in her hand (it cracked) and Kai shouting out the recipe over Nalani’s cries to please have the stirring spoon, we’d forgotten the melted butter.



Instead of homemade banana cake Nalani ended up with a deliciously sweet vanilla bean cake from a mix Joey bought early Sunday morning at Trader Joe’s. And it looked adorable in the shape of a panda, complete with chocolate ears, nose, and mouth. Better yet, we all – and especially Nalani – had a fabulous time at her pizza party late Sunday afternoon. We had nine kids (with Tejal and Maya representing the two-year-old set), and around a dozen adults, including Uncle Kitt and Grandma and Grandpa, up for their second visit of the weekend.

Hooray for Nalani! And – have to say, equally important – hooray for Joey and me!

nalani turns two!

Posted by lynn on 14 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: nalani



Our littlest girl turns two today! Happy birthday, Nalani poppers. Just look how much our baby – who is no longer much of a baby at all – has grown.

First and foremost, she is as strong-willed as ever. Our girl is confident, intentional, determined, and loves an audience, especially when her actions provokes laughter. She adores her big sis (who reciprocates the feeling) and looks up to her as someone to emulate. Case in point: I took both girls to the doc when Melina got her kindergarten shots. Nalani followed every action Melina was asked to take, and once the five pricks were done on sis demanded one for herself. She got a cartoon bandaid instead.



Her two favorite sentences these days are “I do it, I DO IT!” and “I don’t want it.” Depending on the day, this could be provoked by the exact same thing, say, me pulling out her toothbrush at teeth brushing time. Nalani has also been saying “Mo teeta” for months, complete with the “more” hand motion, whenever she wants more of something. We chalked it up to toddler-jabber for a while but a couple weeks ago, as her language started to improve and the phrase remained, I finally asked her, “Nalani, are you saying ‘More please that’?” She said a confident “Yes,” complete with a single head nod, as in “Of course that’s what I’m saying, mama.”



Even Nalani’s destructive streak comes with intent. It seems tied to her love of having an audience, or more to the point, getting a reaction. We repeatedly observe her walk into a room and assess the surroundings with a little glint in her eye that says “Ok, what can I do here to make my presence known?” Then she’ll go to it. Sometimes it’s swiping an entire shelf of clothes to the floor at Old Navy, or dumping out a box full of dot paint when I pick up Melina at preschool, or tossing pantry items one by one out of our corner kitchen cabinet. Another tactic for grabbing an audience is to run away: at the park, at Melina’s school as I’m trying to coral both girls out the door, or at home when we’re trying to put on her jammies. She always makes a point of stopping to look back, just to make sure we’re watching her grand escape. And she always looks very proud.



Her desire to observe and methodically emulate comes in handy for getting what she wants. At the park the other week, a friend and I were hanging out with Nalani in the fenced-off toddler section while the bigger kids moved back and forth between playgrounds. One moment Nalani was climbing peacefully behind a slide-locked gate, and the next she was out. From watching the big kids open and close the “lock,” she figured out how to do it on her own. Then, hanging out with her cousins at my parents’ house last weekend, Nalani patiently watched the older kids climb Grandpa’s ladder to pick oranges. You could almost see her taking notes in her nearly two-year-old head. I knew by the end of the weekend she’d walk up to the ladder without a word and climb to the top. About an hour before we left, she did.



Nalani started showing distinct interest in the potty a little over a month ago. She asks to read “Time to Pee!” (by Mo Willems) several times a day, and goes through all the potty-ing motions seamlessly. Except for the fact that nothing, not a single tinkle, has ever come out. For over a month now she asks to use “potty,” goes to the bathroom and puts the toddler ring on the pot, pulls down her pants (we have to help with the diaper), and sits. Then after nothing happens she wipes, gets down, flushes, and washes her hands. Once she sat there long enough for Melina to recite the whole “Time to Pee!” book, which took a good 10 minutes. Not a drop. I’m glad she at least has the routine down, and am hoping the lack of action is the sign of a really strong bladder.



Our baby recently started the preschool program at her current daycare, and while drop-offs are still tough she loves the big kid playground and familiar older faces (like Tejal) from the toddler room. She’s also eager to start at big sis’s preschool, just as soon as they have room! Nalani is super comfortable there, so much so that a few weeks ago when I was picking up Melina early she lined right up with the Wee Duckies to have afternoon snack. Miss T saw her and said “Nalani knows her people. She’s ready.”



She’s a whiz at toddler puzzles, counting to 13, and singing the ABCs and other catchy preschool tunes. She also knows what words are color words, but for now calls everything “boo” (blue). She also love, love, loves books. She will still sit on her own and quietly flip through her favorites for over 30 minutes. She’s very insistent about getting in enough mommy and daddy story time, asking one of us to “Peas come” to the reading pillow, then gently shoving her chosen books, one after another as each story finishes, into the grown-up’s hand. In the evening this serves another purpose: playing into her beloved routines. As long as we follow the story and sleepsack ritual and she’s heading to her room the same time as big bro and sis, Nalani goes to bed without a fuss. Thank you, Nalani.

Happy birthday. We love you!

cousins, candles, and a bunny

Posted by lynn on 09 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: family, melina, nalani



We don’t always celebrate Easter with extended family, but this year my sister and I decided to join forces with our parents, and also to link the festivities to Ella, Nalani, and German’s birthdays. (Ok, really Ella and Nalani’s, but since German now shares his with his youngest child, we really must raise a cheer to his, er, barely-40-something years.)



To make it even more of an extendo-family event, my mom invited our cousins Aaron and Anne-Marie to dinner on Saturday. Only Aaron was able to make it, but we had fun catching up and reminiscing, and bachelor Aaron seemed to get a kick out of watching our five young ‘uns run themselves ragged in endlessly energetic circles. (He also got a kick out of getting to go home without them.)



As for the kids, they had a blast. Ella and Nalani followed each other around like personal homing pigeons, and Nalani asked to play with Ella again as soon as we arrived home. All five of them took turns climbing Grandpa’s ladder to pick oranges from his tree. Nalani watched the older kids climb over the course of the weekend, and you could almost see her taking notes, 2-year-old style. About an hour before we left, she walked over and straight up to the second-to-top rung. Grandpa helped her pull down two oranges.



We literally had to pry Melina away from cousin Lucas and the wonders of Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard. On the way home, she said “We can play at our house next time instead of Grandma and Grandpa’s, as long as we get a deck and that part that drops down [into a strip of plants between the deck and the back wall].” They were making leaf and flower soup at the time, in the same spot against the back wall (there was no deck then) where Stacie and I made countless mud pies during our own childhood.



Earlier, when we strolled over to Kirk Park (formerly Kirk School), I held Nalani’s hand as she walked along the same three brick walls I would balance on to and from school, nearly every weekday from kindergarten through fourth grade. And while the kids swung on colorful monkey bars and slid down recycled plastic slides instead of the stark metal ones from my youth, I looked at the backdrop of my old third-grade-classroom-turned-rec-room and the field that now sports several BBQs and a picnic grounds in one corner, and wondered how all those trees in the middle got so tall in the short time it’s been since I left and the school was converted into a city rec center. Then I realized that “short time” is probably close to 30 years, and wow, I really am getting old.

easter eggs, of this and years past

Posted by lynn on 01 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends



With one week left to go, we finally pulled the Easter baskets out of the garage and had a fairly impromptu gathering to color eggs. Tracee and I realized this is the third year in a row we’ve done something Easter-like with Lily (either coloring eggs or an egg hunt). This year Sofia joined us while her mom, dad, and newborn sis took a much-needed nap.

The photo on the right is from two years ago, right before Nalani was born. I love how Lily, Melina, and Kai are in almost the same position as this year, even with the different house.