Great googly mooglies folks: Athena is four! We have totally not killed her or let her die for four whole years. I'm proud of us.
This morning I'm getting ready for work and I hear thump thump thump thump thump thump thump of tiny feet running down the hall. Then rustle rustle rustle. Then she appears in the bathroom doorway holding her big birthday present with a giant grin saying, "Can I open my present now?" Responsible mom reserve melts in the face of cute. I say yes. Her dad leans in and says, "After we get dressed, right?" And I pause and say, "Yeah, yeah. After you get dressed."
Fairy wings with her Elsa dress because "Elsa can be a fairy too."
Okay, so that was awesome, and we still made it out of the house on time. Erik is teaching at Stanford again this quarter on Thursday nights. That means he picks her up and shuttles her to Tesla where I get a hand off at 6 p.m. And then everyone who remembers her from this a year and a half ago squees that she's grown so big. And everyone that's never seen her before gets distracted by this cute little human roaming their halls. Last week there was a party in the showroom where one of my colleagues had a little yellow minions electric car that came with a suspiciously Model S-esque nose cone, so he dressed it up with some Tesla badging on the back and voila! Tiny Model S he was running by remote. But she sees this and he says, "Want to try it?" So she climbs in, gets rolling, and is a little scared, so she wants to hold my hand while she drives. Still, insane cuteness (but no video because I had to hold her hand). Then she wants to go get her cereal from the kitchen and come back. Her confidence bolstered, but the car has gone home for the night. So then I asked Erik if I could by our child a car. Because suddenly I'm that parent.
Now that we've established that I have poor resistance in the face of cuteness, there's not a lot else to report. We had a lovely couple of evenings this month a CKP Manor. Our renters have let us know they're ready to move on and so we're getting my old house started toward going on the market. I'm apparently a master of picking good fruit trees because we picked a tangerine from Pixel's tree while we were there and it was the best one I've had in years. Athena's very favorite teacher was fired from Early Horizons, apparently for being too strict with some of the kids. We're hoping to find a good excuse to get her to watch Athena soon, but this is a really tough situation because school becomes extra hard if she ever realizes Miss Kym isn't ever coming back. Still, gotta do it. School continues to be otherwise good.
The three amigos
Clementine's birthday cupcakes
There's been a lot of rain this month. Thank goodness. But it led to a few days of joyful rain dances at school.
My dad came down for a few hours last weekend and brought a few presents for Athena, one from his neighbor Gabby who always hits the mark on exactly the right gift for Athena. This time it was a block-based six-sided puzzle. She asks to do at least one puzzle each night before bed now. Another big hit was Carol's Cinderella doll. Cinderella has had many fine adventures with Tinkerbell, Periwinkle, Elsa, and Anna (her other similar dolls).
We went to lunch at Santana Row and then walked down to the Tesla showroom. Athena climbed into the driver's seat and another little girl climbed into the passenger seat. She said, "Bye! We're driving to Disneyland!"
Happy holidays everyone! I finished my UCSF study having traveled many miles (over 500!), averaging 77,000 steps a week/11,000 per day. I didn't lose any weight (boo!), but I'm going to try to keep up some of the pace going forward. I'm pretty sure I can do 9-10k a day successfully, but I'm going to focus on also doing other things like core strength building, and some PT for my knees and hips. If I want to lose weight, it means eating far less food, which is a bummer, because I eat when I'm hungry. The catch is, I have to stop when I'm not hungry, not when I'm full. So it goes.
Meanwhile, my little girl is almost four! She'll tell you often that she's a big girl, and she is. She's almost completely potty trained, only having a wet overnight pull-up 2 or 3 days a week. She's getting up every morning and going pee by herself. We're almost there! Of course, she's a big girl in other ways too. The other morning, I watched her on the video monitor as she got up to pee, then slipped off her wet pull up and change into a fresh one before coming out to greet us. Clever girl. I opted not to bust her that morning, but she tried it again and Erik caught her with the other pull up still warm on her dresser. I embrace the future with eyes wide open, knowing she will get better at hiding her indiscretions. (High school is going to be a fascinating experience.)
Athena is growing and changing in a million ways. She's taking a new ballet class and can easily demonstrate her ronde de jambe when asked. She loves making up songs to sing, but also really wants to learn all the words to various songs. In early November she asked for a new song so I sang Tomorrow from Annie. The next few weeks we listened to it in the car and she got to where she could perform the whole thing without coaching by Thanksgiving (if it was just for Mommy and Daddy). There were awesome swim lessons til mid-November and now she can swim down about half a lane when she wants. More lessons again next year.
Athena had her first haircut. It was great! Jane is so totally the best!
Karen came out over Labor Day weekend, so we had a whirlwind weekend of fun. We hit the Oakland Zoo and Longitude. We went on the trains and carousel at Vasona Park. Erik and I snuck out to go to Friday Night Waltz and hit the Pacificon LARP afterparty with Team Volare on Friday night.
Giraffes at the zoo!
Daddy's hat at the zoo
Train at Vasona Park
We've made it to a couple of dance events. We took Athena to the Halloween Gaskell Ball with us and she loved it. We also opted to participate in the Bal de Vampyres, with Erik as the Transylvanian prince trying to woo the unsuspecting Miss Eliza Doolittle into his life as a vampire. Athena spent that evening with Cordelia and Alex and Sherman, with huge thanks to them for taking her when our other babysitting plans fell though.
Mermaid the Ariel and Erik as Prince Eric
Silly vampires! They never get the girl.
Halloween was an unexpected treat. With a limited version of Haunted Fox Hollow, there wasn't going to be room to accommodate everyone who wanted to join us, so we decided to do Halloween at home and a little party became a little bigger and a fabulous night was had by all. Turns out, our neighborhood is perfect for trick-or-treating, and our buckets were groaning before we made it around the block.
Athena was napping as the party commenced, and she wanted me to be a pirate since she and daddy were being King Triton and Mermaid the Ariel, but I'd punted and gone for 1950s witch. She was kind of upset about that, and had the usual grumpiness from waking up mid-party, so I offered her some milk and told her I'd change if she wanted me to after she finished her milk. She drank it, and then came over and said, "Mommy, I changed my mind. You can be a witch." I gave her a huge hug and said, "Thank you! That's so kind of you. I love you so much." And then throughout the night, she would periodically come up and say, "I changed my mind. You can be a witch." Which really meant, "Please give me a hug and tell me you love me." So I did.
The Langs and friends came as Stepford Wife-bots and hardware engineer
End of the night selfie
Our welcoming porch
Thanksgiving was spent at my grandparents house with my mom. The best part was Athena showing her great grandma her very favorite movie. That's going firmly in the "why we make the drive" folder.
Best thing ever.
We sent out our annual holiday card. Unfortunately, TinyPrints doesn't give you a very good digital version to keep. Here's the preview I have:
As Christmas approached, I was once again longing for Winter Closure at Stanford and my ever so generous leave. Instead, we spent Saturdays doing Dickens most weekends, and had "Christmas" in Sacramento on Saturday the 19th, and then closed Dickens on Sunday. Dickens was a mixed bag this year. They announced early on that they were indeed having workshops on Halloween. Now when you're dealing with a group of volunteers who choose to spend every weekend during the winter dressing up, it's a safe bet those same folks tend to enjoy Halloween. When the missive announced that Halloween costumes would not be allowed, it was a bridge too far. There was a quick retraction and amendment, but it left a sour taste in a lot of mouths. What's done is done. I decided we really didn't have time for Dickens officially. There was only one day we could conceivably commit to workshops, which is tight at best, and would've certainly cost Athena her nap, making for a long week to follow. Gents were supposed to get new pants and none had been ordered by any means for Erik. I had a new dress, but hadn't had time to sew trim on it. I didn't know if Athena's dress from last year would even fit. So, I sent a note to Fezzi management and said we couldn't join them this year. Dave replied that he did not accept my refusal and that he'd put us on the gatelist. So, we came out Saturdays, and traded off shifts whenever on site with one of us dancing and calling and the other on duty with Athena. It worked out. We managed to contribute sufficiently to feel useful at Fezziwigs, and not completely burn out.
Happy on Daddy's lap.
Out on the streets with friends.
Backstage with Cordelia
Meow! I'm a cat on a tiger!
Waiting for Lorelei
Waiting and hoping.
We're all mad here!
Up on stage with the magician.
After closing tradition dictates push ups. Now with extra help.
Athena was entranced with the shows this year, including Punch and Judy, the various magicians, and Jack is Back, but especially Jimmy Chiminey.
At the end of the last day, we made it just in time for the end of his last show. She wanted to tell him how much she liked him, so we waited for the crowd to thin, and then she stood there staring up at him. I intervened and said, "Your her favorite thing from all of Dickens. She was wondering if she could give you a hug." He melted and knelt down to meet her and she gave him a huge hug. I said, "Thank you." And she came back to me utterly beaming.
Later when we headed back to Fezziwigs, I led her through a Congress of Vienna. I often wish I could capture these things more effectively because no one will really believe it later, but she can be led through CoV better than the average novice. The biggest challenge remaining is her height. We do a modified windows and turning waltz, but she can open and close on cue, and once into her windows, she waits for the beat to start the walking. Then she sneaks behind me for the pivots like a pro. We closed the fair with a final waltz, all three of us together cheek-to-cheek. More than likely that won't be possible next year as she gets bigger, but it was perfect. Then she sang Hallelujah. She realized that whenever Elizabeth held up the Hallelujah card, you sing that word, so she did. Elizabeth said it was a real treat to see her singing on cue.
Athena was huge on Christmas carols this year, demanding we sing several each night at bedtime. Santa Claus is Coming to Town was her favorite, which I'm a tad ambivalent about as it's very guilt-based. Better be good because you're being watched! Creepy! Oh well. I kept steering her toward Christmas Eve on Sesame Street with one of my favorite songs: Keep Christmas With You.
From 1977, and really, most of the fashions don't even seem that out of date now. They seem like urban hipster winter wear mostly. Anyway, after 38 years, I still find that special to be perfectly enchanting.
Karen and Rich arrived on Tuesday. We went shopping for all the Christmas food on Wednesday morning and Scott arrived Wednesday night. My mom came down for Christmas Day and we had a lovely day of stockings and blueberry french toast breakfast and presents and standing rib roast for dinner followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Erik commissioned art and it was super awesome! Dinosaurs, a train, and us. Woohoo!
We didn't take Athena, and I was honest with her that I wanted to see it first to see if it was too scary. By the end of the first scene, I was glad I'd made that call. Kelly and Cole volunteered to watch her, and Cole joked she could come with us and Kelly said, "Sure! Go! Enjoy!" And Cole was like, "Wait, what?" So we bundled her off with us and that was totally awesome. On the way home, I told Athena it was too scary and we could watch it when she was older. She asked me to tell her the story, so I did, summarizing the story on the ride home in the car. In our house, it's not about whether or not you know what's going to happen in a story, but how it's told, so I don't even feel bad about baby's first spoilers.
On Christmas eve, we went ice skating in Central Park. It's a great little rink, and it was nearly empty due to inclement weather. It had been raining all morning, so the ice was a smooth as possible. Athena got her skates on and immediately walked over to the edge, had Karen help her onto the ice, and was off. Karen went backwards while she came forward, lifting her feet, stepping along, and utterly fearless. It was a amazing. I don't think she realized it was supposed to be hard. Erik got right out there too and they took her around with two hands. I was far more wobbly, finding my balance, but I got there eventually. The staff offered Athena a bucket to push around and before long she was doing twirls around it.
Ice skating will be AWESOME!
Ice with bucket!
I made it off the ice without a tumble, but everyone eventually landed pretty hard. Athena is lucky, not having far to fall (still only 39 inches!!!). Erik scored a really impressive bruise on his hip. We headed back to the ice on Sunday with the Lendvays and unfortunately, Karen fell again, this time breaking her arm. None of us saw her fall, and she snuck away home before we realized how bad it was, but sent her off to the ER for x-rays soon after we got home. Looks like she gets six weeks in a cast. :(
We're closing the year with New Year's Eve at CKP Manor. Hope this little catch up finds you all well and may 2016 be full of more consistent updates!
Okay, it's been two months, and I've got nothing. It turns out that I have sold off my last scrap of spare time to exercise. Where I used to cobble this post together out of three or four lunch hours, I've lost that time. Why? Because UCSF was looking for study participants who were mothers of children under 5 who had become more sedentary since having a child. That would describe me exactly. So, twelve weeks of being studied remotely to see if I can keep up on good habits with little or no encouragement. I'm in the control group! But here's the thing: I've always been a good student. Give me an assignment and I'll do it. I may grouse and complain, but I'll get it done. They told me I should increase my daily activity to 10,000 steps a day, up to 12,000 steps a day by the end of the study. That's about 6-8000 more than I get without consciously stopping for exercise in my day, going to ceili, or going to Friday Night Waltz. Basically, it's at least doubling my amount of exercise day by day. And you know what else? Lumping that extra into my day every day takes 30-45 minutes, which it turns out was the last shred of uncommitted time I had in my days. It often means I'm going to bed later than I was before because there wasn't actually an extra 30-45 minutes available in that day. One of the things that's fallen by the wayside is this blog. So I'm here today to say, yes, it's still a priority. But six hours of sleep is the least I function on without dozing off at my desk by 3:30, so it's not getting done right now. I'll try to find a scrap of time somewhere soon, but it doesn't exist today.
So, after six weeks in the study, what's changed? I'm taking a lot more steps. I'm getting a lot more exercise. But I've actually gained two pounds. :( And I'm not eating more, allowing myself extra snacks, or anything. It's just... well, it is what it is. If I want to lose weight, I've got to really cut calories, and that means being hungry a lot of the time, and being hungry leads to me being a grumpy person. I told myself at the beginning of this year that I'd had it with that and I was taking a year off. I didn't need to be thin. I needed to be less angry. Next year I can be hungry, but I'm not even going there til after the holidays.
Still not 40 inches. Dang it. Mama wants to go to Disneyland. So does Daddy. So does Athena. We go to the park instead.
It was a crazy month for me, especially at work. My interns are both gone and the only evidence that remains is a whole lot of new articles on Roadsters in my database. This is good. Very very good. Previously, the database had only been used for Model S, but now it's got Roadster and some stuff for the shiny new thing on the horizon. I also hosted training for technicians from every service center in America in one week. That meant two groups totaling about 90 trainees. Before that could happen, I had to line up the 15 presenters, prep presentations for several sections, and categorize every article in the database depending on which vehicle model applied. There was a bit to do to get ready, so that was naturally when HR decided that we had one week to complete annual performance reviews. 8-\
It went well, save for the morning where nothing went right. I left the house in blue shoes to go with my red and black outfit. One of my presenters presented less than 20 minutes of material for his one hour slot. I tripped and fell setting up lunch while everyone there for training waited for lunch. By noon, I was ready to just hide for the rest of the day. I survived the day and made it home for a tasty meal of caprese salad. ham and Gruyere panini, and a Trinidad Sour. I described the previous few weeks as "being chased by a giant boulder, Indiana Jones style" in my staff meeting on Thursday. Don't trip, don't fall, just run! (Except that I tripped, I fell, and ow, my knees!)
I vanquish you foul day with tasty noms!
Meanwhile, Athena has been doing her thing, being awesome. It's been months since she had a potty accident while awake, and longer since she had a poop accident for which I am sublimely grateful. The era of accidentally poopy panties seems to be well and truly over. Whew! She naps at school without accidents, and does pretty good at home unless it's a really long nap (sometimes she Sleep-Camels on the weekends and goes for 4 hours. It's rare, but oh so nice...) We tried giving it a go for overnight, but the reality is that she just doesn't really wake up if she gets wet. She tends to wake up a couple of hours later when she gets cold. For me, that says she's not ready, so we're sticking to pull-ups for overnights for now. We'll try again around the holidays and see if we've made progress.
Progress just keeps happening in other areas. She now recognizes most of the alphabet, and can set a set of letters out to spell her name, and can mostly write it too. Her written letters are wobbly and stuff at the end is a little weak, but she's getting there fast. School sent her home with a baggie full of foam letters to spell her name and she's been practicing. She occasionally gets them turned the wrong way, but in general, she's got this thing, and it's getting more solid every time she does it.
Miss Kym is back at school after her hip replacement, and that means the girls have been having a blast. She's brought them tattoos, and they love them. Currently she's sporting a silver necklace temporary tattoo. It's been 3 days of joy.
Tattoos are serious business
Athena loves swimming. We have two community pools within walking distance of the house, so it's time to get her swimming fully on her own. She's been swimming with her elephant vest for a year or more now and still loves it, but it's time to go to the next level. She's ready.
Off to the pool!
We picked up a Groupon for swim lessons at Waterworks. They use the indoor pool at City Sports in Sunnyvale, so no sunblock required! Her teacher, Brandon, was pretty impressed with her willingness to follow directions, put her face in the water, and jump in. He said he could have her swimming a half a lap in eight lessons. Two lessons down and she's on her way. This was her first lesson:
We went to Zev and Rebeka's wedding on the 22nd. It was awesome. I ended up helping more than I planned just by having so much wedding experience that I could say, "Oh, go try this." So, I suggested a venue (Rockefeller Lodge) when their first choice was being dodgy. Then I served them wine they liked and ended up serving. Then there was last minute dance lessons. Then the baker was going to charge $250 to deliver the cake, so we picked it up and brought it up. It was easy for me and fun to help. The wedding was a hoot. It was a semi-traditional Jewish ceremony, with little feminist additions and adjustments. The rabbi was awesome, dancing down the aisle on the way out. And then there was a lovely dinner with our ConLARP friends, a truly charming toast from the father of the bride about a wine bottle and a family tradition, and shots of vodka. (The bride is Russian Jewish.) Meanwhile, our little dance-aholic was asking, "Can we go dance now?" We distracted her successfully til it was time for dancing, but just barely. We had a really successful dance a little later where she let us take a lap of the floor as a family, then let mommy and daddy dance a lap alone. We're getting there! Before long, we may get a song or two alone. Erik and I also reflected on a day back in 2009 at Alex and Sherman's wedding, on that dance floor, when the ink was dry on his PhD, and we were dancing, when I answered the outstanding question that was required as soon as said ink was dry with a, "Yeah, I can go for the one." Now with Athena dancing with us, and waiting for us as we made another lap, it all felt right.
Two sets, because Athena wanted more.
And yes, Athena loves dancing. Clementine's moms looked into next dance classes at school this month since they'd had a year in Creative Movement. She checked out Hip Hop and Tap/Ballet Combo. There were not enough spots for everyone in Tap/Ballet, so Miriam and Clementine decided Hip Hop was the thing. Athena was super jazzed about Tap, so we decided that for now at least, she could do both. It's an added expense, but oh goodness she loves it! She's been teaching us shuffle-step and other things after class. Hip Hop is fun and includes her besties, but Tap/Ballet currently has her heart. One of her favorite songs is Edward the Tap Dancing Elephant, so this isn't a big surprise.
We've spent a bunch of time hanging with the Lo's because she adores Bit. Erik has a monthly game with Wendy and others, which leads to time to play with T and Devon, both of whom treat the kids like they're the favorite uncles, which, well, if she didn't have two actual uncles, would be totally true.
Tackling T, like you do.
The other thing that's awesome is a place called Dim Sum King in Sunnyvale with take-out dim sum, meaning that we can grab dim sum and head to the Lo's for half the price of going out for dim sum. Then when the kids have had their fill, they run off and play Legos or Rescue Fire Squad and we get to enjoy a leisurely conversation around the table. So now we say we're getting dim sum and going to their house and Athena says, "Dim sum? I'd love some!"
Waiting at Dim Sum King.
The Los were shopping for a new house, so they had to head out to see an open house, and believe it or not, Athena misses going to open houses, so she insisted we go see one too. We went to one in Santa Clara on our way home, at her insistence. It was a cool place, and the kid's room had a pink piano. She sat down to play and insisted it was time for me to dance.
On Friday, August 7th, John texted and asked where was a good place for dinner in Campbell. And would we want to join them. Aqui! and YES!!! John and Becky live in El Portal, so it's tough to see them. They were in town to fulfill Becky's dad's Christmas present: the Engineer for a Day experience at Roaring Camp. We didn't have plans til Saturday evening, so we joined them not just for dinner, but also at Roaring Camp the next day. Rarely have I even seen someone enjoy a gift for such an extended time. Erik Lund was over the moon. If you know someone who wants to drive a steam engine, then this is the way to do it. He took the train on 4 runs up and down the mountain. We took the third run up to the redwood grove.
Kids love cake at Aqui
Waving as Erik Lund heads out on the 12:30 train
Getting back from the 12:30 run.
Athena tried his hat
Happy family including John!
Gotta get back to work
(Where work is actually super fun)
About to drive the train away from the summit
Erik and Athena in the cave tree in the grove
Back at the station, Penelope checked out the hat
You wear it Daddy!
Hat back on Grandpa
Trying the covered wagon with Daddy
Fun playing with Penelope
And as we all miss Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, here is your moment of Zen.