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!

jammy up!

Posted by lynn on 02 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: nalani

Nalani, two years six months, shows off her technique for putting on pants.

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.

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.

“kee-gah-ten”

Posted by lynn on 21 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: nalani

These days, when we ask Nalani where she goes to school she bypasses the whole newly-begun preschool experience and says “kee-gah-ten.” We then ask who’s your teacher? And she says “Miss Wash,” Melina’s teacher.

She packs a lunch alongside her sister every night. It consists of multiple packaged snack items – like granola bars and fruit roll-ups, anything recognizable within toddler reach – zipped neatly in a plastic baggie then her old daycare lunch box. She puts it by the door each night for the next morning. And each morning she goes her own way to her own school, forgetting about the lunchbox until Melina packs one up again that night. Just look at the fun she has!

poppers

Posted by lynn on 21 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: nalani

tomato_baby

biker

Like most babies, Nalani earned a cutesy nickname long before she could say words, and in this case, before we knew how much her personality would match. We call her Nali for short, and keeping in line with Melina’s nickname (Mina Bean, transitioned from Meli Bean, which rhymes with jelly bean), we soon took to calling Nalani Nali Pop (rhymes with lollipop). It’s since transformed into Poppers, which fits all too nicely with the firecracker “pop” of her emerging personality.

daddys_beer

big_cat

She can still be totally chill. Nalani loves to look at books, and oftentimes will quietly flip through them in her crib for who knows how long in the morning before we come to “wake” her for the day. And when she’s in the right mood she responds to routines, requests, and common sense far more than either of our other kids when they were two. She does everything with confidence, determination, and decisiveness. (She certainly doesn’t get the last trait from me.)

pose

bikeride

But when she sets her mind of something, Nalani does not back down. Even her preschool teachers have learned “you don’t fight Nalani; you either joke with her or make her think it’s her own idea – otherwise you’ll lose.” At school she’s decided she’s no longer a Wee Ducky (young two-year-old class) but a Bumblebee (three-year-old class). She tells me “I Bumblebee” and according to her teachers, after nap each day she gets up, walks into the Bumblebee room, and sits down nicely for circle time. And every day her Wee Ducky teacher walks in and says “Nalani, you belong in the Wee Ducky class” and takes her back. Every day.

dolores_park

lemonade

She also loves nothing more than an audience, especially one that’s laughing. She’s a brilliant hide-and-seeker (for a tot), meaning she can actually hide silently in a strategic spot (again, for a tot). Oftentimes she does this without an actual game happening, just to get a reaction. On the flip side, we sometimes call her Echo because she repeats everything she hears – especially from Melina – and most often in a playful way, like she knows she’s being funny. She makes silly faces, tickles peoples’ toes, and does silly dances no matter where she is or what she’s supposed to be doing. Earlier this week she decided naptime at school, with her sheets as a stage, was as good a time as any for a little recital. Her teachers didn’t agree. But she’s so cute about it, well, it’s hard not to laugh while trying to get her to comply.

swimmer

babygirl

One of our most telling Nalani stories happened at the Aquarium in July. As our three girls played on a small indoor structure, Joey, Laney, and I watched Nalani walk up to a little boy (but a good head taller than her), pick him up, and move him out of her way so she could access the slide. The kid wasn’t phased in the slightest (I realized later he’s probably picked up and moved like that all the time, just as toddler Nalani is), but Joey and I jumped up shouting “Did she really just do that?!” and ran over to reprimand her. As I told and re-told the story to friends (always with a mix of laughter and disbelief), I realized the act wasn’t violent at all. It was determined and confident (and completely ego-centric), just like our littlest girl and the toddler that she is. As I’ve started saying since that day, she’s very good at being two.

kindergarten

Posted by lynn on 31 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: melina

lunches

kids_n_me

Welcome to kindergarten, Melina! Our biggest girl took a big step to the next phase of her social and educational life on Wednesday. And she did so with giddy eagerness and far more confidence than Joey or I remember having on our first day of school. She couldn’t wait to pack her own lunch (“I’m going to make a sandwich!”) along with Kai all three days of the first week. She got up each morning (30 minutes earlier than she has been) without a huge fuss.

kids

reading_firstday

And biggest of all: She said good-bye without a hint of clinginess or withdrawal – and most importantly, without any drama. (Just last month she threw a fit when I left her at preschool. Guess she decided it’s time for that act to end.) Nalani was also excited about Melina’s first day, wearing socks and a “pack pack” (backpack) just like big sis.

classroom

frozen_yogurt

Melina had a fabulous first few days, with the only bummer being she wasn’t yet on the list to take the bus to her after-school program. I was there (I’d hoped just to watch her get on and then follow the bus and watch her get off without a hitch) so drove her and Kai to the rec center on day one. Luckily she was able to ride the bus on day two – and she was thrilled! Her excitement didn’t end with the bus ride. Instead of being exhausted she’s been amping herself up into a super loopy world each night. Thrilled to see how much she loves school.

Her favorite thing: “I made a lunch buddy” (Saira). She also got to play with Kendall and Kai and make new friends at her after-school program, and I got to commute an amazing five-minute walk to pick up the kids at 5pm. She also brought home a picture she drew of me walking her to preschool friend Maya’s house for a sleepover. And on Friday evening of her first week of school, that’s exactly where she is right now. It was a big week for my little girl!

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!

capitola

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

beach

sand_pit

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.

volleyball

icecream

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.

uncle_german

girlies_grandpa

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.

smores

grandkids2

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.

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