June 2012

Monthly Archive


Posted by lynn on 29 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel



Melina has been talking about “the other Julia and Mir… what’s her name again?” since we visited our Mendocino friends last year. For context, neighbors Julia and Miri (ages 2 and 4.5) live down the street from our not-so-new house. Julia and Miranda (ages 7 and 4) live in Mendocino with their parents–and our longtime friends–Milo and Cassandra.



Much like our neighbors, the Mendo Julia and Miranda love to color and bead, watch princess movies, and play dress-up. Different from our own neighborhood, they do this in their 2-acre Fort Bragg backyard covered with tall grass and bounded by redwoods. A match made in coastal heaven for our own five-year-old craft-loving princess.



When we found out Milo and Cassandra were expecting their third in the fall, we decided it was time for another, pre-baby visit. My cousin Michelle lives between Fort Bragg and Mendo, and had offered her guest rooms (just off the barn) as a place for us to stay. As a bonus for the girls, Michelle has two horses, two dogs, and 16(!) cats.



Julia was celebrating her seventh birthday the weekend of our planned visit. We were told to get ready for a cowgirl party, complete with a miniature horse to pet and a small Icelandic horse to ride. Rounding out the perfect plan, Milo recently started working Saturdays at Goldeneye Winery, our absolute favorite stop along 128, and a spot full of memories from a trip Joey and I took just after we were engaged.



Our weekend got off to a rocky start when Nalani (not the kid with a history of carsickness) threw up not once but twice within 10 minutes of starting the winds of highway 128. (Note to selves for our upcoming Oregon road trip: Give all children dramamine! And pack plenty of towels and plastic bags.)



After the second bout she knocked herself out cold and we made our way to Goldeneye, where a sunny blue sky, gorgeous picnic grounds, and Milo carrying a tray of pinot noir tastings awaited. Melina tried her hand at photography, Nalani ran around like a suddenly freed toddler, and Joey and I were in such bliss we completely forgot to take advantage of a discount for a few of our favorite wines.



From there, the weekend unfolded beautifully. The girls played together as well as we’d all remembered, and this year Nalani was old enough to join the fun. Joey and I got to catch up with our friends, and I got to re-connect with my cousin (who, by the way, lives on a gorgeous and hidden 10 acres of land in the middle of the woods).



All the girls, especially Melina and Miranda (just seven months apart) had a hard time saying good-bye. “If we were neighbors, we’d play all the time!” Miranda announced. As we left, I said “We’ll see you after your baby brother is born,” meaning sometime next year. Miranda replied with preschool specificity: “See you in October!” And as we drove off, Melina offered, “I want to invite them for a five-day sleepover at our house.” We’re game. But it’s a loooong, windy drive.

congrats, preschool graduate! (and welcome, lil sis)

Posted by lynn on 26 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: melina, nalani

When I Grow Up...


On Friday Melina had her first official graduation ceremony. Yes, from preschool, and complete with a red felt graduate hat (though no gown). I don’t think I had an official graduation ceremony when I finished preschool. Joey didn’t even go to preschool. But we are so proud!



Nalani started her preschool stint just five days earlier, making her the youngest newcomer at the school. Going through a first week and a “last” week (Melina will be there all summer and at our house we’re calling it “summer session”) made for a fantastic contrast for our family. Even Mr. Tom commented on the community’s newest member as he handed big sister Melina her diploma.


Nali sings

In the past three years, Melina has developed into a thoughtful, sociable, artistic, and whimsical girl who’s eager to take on kindergarten and the big kid world. And now Nalani is bringing up the rear, ready to take the little kid world by storm. With less than a week under her belt, she walked out confidently with her Wee Ducky class and stood in front of a crowd of parents to perform “Good Bye Graduates.”


pizza party

We’ll be sad to see Melina’s preschool years come to a close, but are looking forward to new adventures for both our girls. As their smiles show, they are, too. In the meantime, they have a whole summer of fun to spend together, at home, on all our trips, and now at school, too!

bay area discovery museum

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



I can’t believe it took me this long to “discover” the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. I’ve been hearing about it for years. But until the girls and I arrived (after an unintentional detour through waterfront Sausalito on a crystal-clear, cafe-packed late spring morn), I had no idea of its gorgeous setting, or the fact that a good part of the museum is outdoors. And, at the scenic foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tam, the outdoor part makes perfect sense.



We met a bunch of play group friends (Lily, Connor, Joey, and their moms and sibs) on a beautiful Friday morning, and ended up staying until past 2pm. We would have stayed longer if Nalani didn’t need a nap and Melina didn’t need to be back for ballet class in Berkeley at 4. During our visit we got to experiment with waves, play on a pretend fishing boat, practice hula hooping, and look at hermit crabs through aquarium glass.



Nali, Mina, and Lily spent a good chunk of time in the art hall, where Nalani painted, squeegied clean, and re-painted a big wall of glass at least a dozen times. We enjoyed a cafe picnic with the wind and a view of the Bay. The kids all seemed to like the Clifford exhibit, especially a huge Clifford rendition right at the entryway to the guest exhibit hall.



But they really liked the outdoor stuff: the mini Golden Gate Bridge, the sandy “ship wreck,” the lookout tower with a grandiose view of the Golden Gate, and a fake tide pool area where waves splashed in every few minutes… just like the tide. I love that I became under-employed just as the weather hit a “wow, this is perfect!” stride. It’s been sunshine and mid-to-high seventies for weeks now, and I’m loving spending as much time in it as I can with my girls.

rec classes

Posted by lynn on 10 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: melina, nalani

Besides swimming (which we see as a safety thing), the girls have started taking few other classes to add to their weekly fun.



Nalani started a tot soccer class at the park around the corner the day after she turned two. It took a good five or six classes for her to get into the groove. By this morning she was really looking forward to it, and kept saying, “Kick ball! No hands!” She participated like a champ, and even ran across the field in her first-ever game. As luck would have it, this was the last class of the session.



Melina’s interest in ballet has been pretty steadfast, but the Y program just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Several friends recommended the same studio in gourmet ghetto, so I signed her up for a trial class. My slow-to-warm girl was hesitant when I told her this, and kept asking questions about the teacher and the space.



I asked the teacher whether we could do a preview, and after 10 minutes watching the “big” girls (8-13) dance, Melina was hooked. Friend Sofia joined her in the preschool class the next day, and Nalani was eager to join them, too. Sorry, baby, for this one we’ll need to wait until you’re three. In the meantime, after a birthday party at a gymnastics studio yesterday Nalani asked me directly, “Mama, I want take class here.” We’ll have to see how mama’s work schedule plays out for that.

celebrating five

Posted by lynn on 09 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: melina



Last weekend was packed with Melina-centric fun for our big girl’s big day. The festivities began on Friday with a day off for everyone. My reduced work schedule and Joey’s seeming abundance of PTO made this possible, and made the otherwise school day special for our birthday girl. We’d planned to visit Children’s Fairyland (Melina’s choice) as a family, but Nalani came home sick from daycare the day before. (With Hawaii and now this, we’ve had bad timing for illnesses this year!) Instead of a family outing, Melina got a very special mama-and-Mina day.



We started with a walk next door to visit with Jeanie and Weldon, who gave her a special pink lady apple and later came by with a big Hello Kitty bag of surprises. We then got to visit Fairyland at exactly Melina’s pace, and discovered things (like the Snow White exhibit on the backside of the Little Crooked House) we’d never seen amidst competing little-kid wishes. We got hot chocolates, road the train, ran into Max and Zehma (who turned three the same day), and Melina got to ride a pink and purple horse on the merry-go-round.



Since we didn’t have to get home right away for Nalani’s nap, we drove straight from Fairyland to Rockridge for frozen yogurt at Miam Miam (Melina got four flavors!) and a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for breakfast-for-dinner fixings. This was Melina’s backup dinner choice, seeing as Nalani’s waning fever had out-to-eat plans up in the air.



Turned out we got to save our food fixings for the next morning. Nalani was feeling fine and raring to go (on a bike ride with Mama, no less) as soon as we walked through the door. That evening instead of Zachary’s pizza with Lily (which we postponed just to be safe), Melina got Lanesplitter’s pizza with Daddy, Mama, and sis.



The biggest piece of fun was still to come: a Hello Kitty party in the park on Sunday! Grandma and Grandpa showed up at 9am to stake out a spot (amazingly, they had to negotiate for a few picnic tables even at that early hour), and by 10:30 almost two dozen preschool-sized friends and their parents started to arrive. Neighbor Abby provided face-painting, Hello Kitty coloring pages some artsy fun, the playground tons of room to run and play, and a piñata the one organized activity – besides cake, of course!


This year the weather fully cooperated: we had full sunshine and a blue sky all morning long, making for an extra lovely celebration.

A full week later we still have one final bit of celebration in the works. To make up for our missed dinner with the Schultzes on Melina’s real birthday, we’re heading to Zachary’s with them tonight. Yesterday Melina asked if she gets another present, too, since it’s technically her birthday dinner. Sorry, baby girl. But I do see more ice cream in our very near future.



Sunday update: We had loads of fun with Lily and family at Zachary’s last night. After a busy day (including another birthday party and no nap) the two five-year-olds were exhausted! But not so tired that they couldn’t enjoy root beer, cheese pizza, and cotton candy ice cream from Dreyer’s down the street. Nalani got a bit of a shock when James (completely sober) accidentally spilled a full pint of beer on her, Tracee, and me. And with that, our celebrating has officially ended.

happy fifth, melina!

Posted by lynn on 01 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: melina



About a month ago Melina got really upset about the whole turning five thing. Thinking it was nerves about coming change, I asked simply, “Why are you upset?” Her response made me laugh: “Because all my friends are turning five and my birthday’s a really long ways away!”

Wow, five. Solo biking. Reading. Learning to swim. Kindergarten. Our biggest girl has shed most all her preschool-ness and is ready to take on the big-kid world. With a little hesitation, of course. And no small dose of Melina-esque imagination and flightiness. Our girl often gets locked in her very own, very happy head-space.



We haven’t been over-emphasizing kindergarten but, with Kai already at the school and Nalani starting preschool in just one month, it seems to come up a lot. Melina is mostly excited. The other week she said, out of the blue and in a curious instead of nervous way, “I wonder who my friends will be in kindergarten?” Friend Miri from down the street is starting with her, and Kendall and Kai are already there. At an incoming kinder picnic last week she got to meet Kai’s old kindergarten teacher, and at open house she also met Kendall’s. I can tell she appreciates these faces put to her changing world.



Here’s another way I can tell she’s eager: the day after the welcome picnic at her new school, Melina told me she wanted to learn how to read. She “reads” stories constantly, flipping through the pages and telling the story out-loud either from memory or her own imagination. I’ve been gently asking her for months whether she wants to learn how to sound out the words on the page, and until the other week she always said “no thank you.” Once she said yes, I had to sift through our odd collection of children’s books to find a few Dr. Suess early readers, then bought her a stage one reader of The Lorax. Sounding out one or two pages per night, she finished her first book within a week.



Swimming has been more of a challenge. She’s taking lessons without Emma this session, and is not thrilled about the idea of getting into the pool. For the first two classes I got special permission to sit on the bench by the pool instead of on the other side of the glass with all the other parents. Funny thing is, once she’s in, she’s fine. She follows every single direction and jumps and dunks her head under water with enthusiasm. She just doesn’t want to be let go. Last week I was able to slip behind the glass, and at the end of the lesson the teacher told me: “Her skills are strong and she likes dunking her head under water. Once her confidence kicks in she’s going to take off really quickly. ”



As I’ve said before, Melina often acts wise beyond her years (ok, Mama boasting), has a canny sense of logic, and an amazing memory for (mostly) pertinent facts. Like me, she takes her time with just about any task and gets easily sidetracked. Other times she’s all silliness. And then there are the time’s when she’s all drama.



She’s still extremely attached to Purple Bachie (her little lovey who she recently tried to re-name “Mint,” but it hasn’t really stuck), she still gets obsessively attached during preschool drop-off if the kids are already playing outside and her window-waving routine is broken, and like any person, she still has her moments when everything is colliding. We hear these loud and clear. When I mentioned Nalani’s stubbornness to teacher Yolanda, she wisely observed that “Melina’s stubborn, too, but she picks her battles.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.



Every Wednesday on the drive home from preschool Melina tells me what they did for something called Big Circle. Oftentimes it involves games or a race, and it seems around once a month they do musical chairs. She always tells me, “And guess who won musical chairs, Mama. I did!” I figured she kept winning in an “everyone wins” sorta way. Until I talked to Miss Tammy, and she said “Oh, Melina’s on a winning streak with that one, for sure. She watches like a hawk and scopes out the situation, and she’s reeeeeaal quiet about it.”

That’s my girl.

Happy fifth birthday, Melina. As my first, you’ll always be my baby.