Almost there...

Monday, February 02, 2015

Before turning 3

Disneyland was a blast. Utterly fabulous. It was a very different trip as Jeff and Wendy aren't big rides and coasters folks, so instead, we took more time for Fantasyland and stuff knowing we wouldn't be rushing off to grab a ride on Space Mountain or Big Thunder. Also, Disneyland is fabulous during the holidays. Just absolutely delightful. It's decorated, but it's not cloying. They somehow balance it perfectly. Things are not unnecessarily replaced. Each choice is carefully made. Small World is improved. The Jungle Cruise becomes the Jingle Cruise and is completely delightful.

We arrived Thursday evening and found ourselves slightly stuck in traffic on Disneyland Drive, delaying our meetup with the Los a bit, partially because Athena finally passed out for a nap while we waited in traffic. We arrived and I unloaded while Erik continued grading. In a whirlwind, everything was unpacked and we were ready to roll just as Athena stirred. We met up with the Los for chicken dinner at the hub, but they were finishing and getting restless. Athena was also none too thrilled about the first ride being the dinner ride. Was she hungry? No! She wanted to go on the carousel. I proposed the maybe Athena could show Connor the carousel or the flying elephants. SHe headed off with them, leading them into Fantasyland. We ate quickly and caught up in line for Dumbo. After flying elephants and carousel, Connor wanted to go on the Storybook Canals, so we hit that, much to Athena's delight. Initially she was a little scared of the "whale tunnel" but that was completely washed away after seeing Arrendelle and Elsa's palace. A new favorite was forged. We called it a night early and headed back to the hotel, ready to take on the day tomorrow.

We started the next morning with Athena decked out in her favorite Minnie Mouse dress and headed to Toontown. Here I had a moment of near-perfect parenting. She saw some toys in the Toontown shop and said, "I want that!" to several items. Fearing a weekend of saying no to one toy after another, I instead said, "Well, we can only take home one present from Disneyland, and we'll get it later. Is this the one you really want?" She made her choice from several things there, settling on a pack of six toy cars from the Cars movie. Throughout the rest of the weekend as she pointed at various things, I  said, "Do you want that more than the cars?" She'd think and then say, "No, I want the cars more." Okay! As we got ready to leave on Sunday, she asked if we could go buy her present now. I said yes and confirmed she still wanted the cars. We got it and I said, "You can't open it til we get buckled into the car to go home." She agreed and said, "Let's go!" Departure difficulty level: zero. She then played with the toys in the seat til she fell asleep 3 hours later. Then she played with them more when she woke up. It was magical. She's played with her cars dozens of times since. I don't know where I pulled that inspiration from, but it was pure genius.

After that, we tried Gadget's Go Coaster, which wasn't fun for her yet. Too fast and loud. We headed to Minnie's house for a fairly short wait to get photos with Minnie. Minnie absolutely adored her outfit and especially her shoes.
Minnie showing off their matching shoes.

The rest of the weekend was a whirl of favorite rides, favorite foods, and favorite breaks. Athena loves churros, but who doesn't, right? And did you know that if you ask at Main Street Station, they'll show you the locomotive while they load the passengers? They even open the firebox. It's powered by bio-diesel nowadays, but the Fred Gurley has run a lot fuels since it went into service in 1897.

Kids running around Tom Sawyer's Island is one of life's great joys. I remember running across the bridge when I was a kid and Athena loves it just as much as I did.

We spent Athena's naptime both days at Carthay Circle Lounge, Erik and Wendy sipping Manhattans and me sipping a Double Pear martini. There is nothing sweeter than sitting in the nicest bar you can imagine with your sleeping child wheeled up next to you. For this alone, DCA will always have a special place in my heart.

We learned the difference between Connor and Athena as night fell. At 9 p.m., Connor passed out in his stroller and would not be roused for Fantasmic or fireworks. Athena said the fireworks were too loud and could we go on the whale tunnel again now? We bid farewell to the Los on Saturday night after fireworks and headed back to Fantasyland. Erik said, "Maybe I'll duck out and hit AstroBlasters?" But then Athena started dancing and playing and giggling and both of us were thinking, "Nope. I'm good right here." It was late, it was cold, and our kid was still the most cheerful person in the queue. So we did whale tunnel, Dumbo, carousel, and finally talked her into taking the "sky train" (monorail) back to the hotel. The band in Tomorrowland was doing a cover of  AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" and Athena was rocking out right til the train came.

We asked if we could ride in the nose and they said, "Sure!" so we got to watch Disneyland recede away with our 270 degree view.
We returned back to normal life on Monday the 5th.The rest of the month was good, with a brunch at our place the following weekend, dropping into the Fezziwig's cast party where Athena enjoyed playing with Vicki so very much, having Clementine for an overnight, planning a game with Erik Dahl for Kublacon, and getting out to Friday Night Waltz for Movie Night, including my getting to learn the Laendler, which was a hoot. Erik got out for Gent's night last week on Monday and I went out for Girls Gaming Night on Tuesday. But Disneyland really was the highlight. Athena is just so much fun at Disneyland. We'll be sad to have our passes expire on the 21st of March, but now that she's turned 3 and is no longer free, we expect we're going to wait til she's 40 inches tall and can go on Radiator Springs Racers before we head back again. I suspect that if she realized what she was missing, she'd be inconsolable. Meanwhile, she's got six cars from Cars that she picked out as her special present from Disneyland and they make her incredibly happy.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Athena!

Athena had a lovely birthday yesterday. She's in the middle of transitioning to the Dandi room at school, so that meant big signs in both rooms proclaiming "Happy Birthday Athena!" At 3 p.m., she had little cupcakes with her Dolphin-room class, which she took very seriously:
It's clearly a big responsibility waiting while everyone sings for you. Fear not, she really did enjoy her cupcake with sprinkles.

I picked up Athena from school and we headed to Aqui for dinner with 18 of her friends. There was Aqui chocolate cake and presents. 
Unwrapping the "Elsa doll that doesn't sing"

More candles!

Dancing with Christy

(which gives mommy a break)

Until the Hokey Pokey!

Whereupon I hereby declare birthday celebrations as good. She has celebrated her first three birthdays at Aqui and shares a birthday with the manager's daughter. She is known by the bartenders and has a usual order. It may not be the most normal thing for a 3 year old, but she's doing a-ok. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Holidays!

A few days before Christmas, Erik said to me, "What are we getting Athena for Christmas?" Let's skip right over the implication of that "we" and how I get to handle it and tell him what we did, shall we? But "we" erred on the side of "everyone else is going to get her a ton of stuff." I got her a musical set, a couple of Magiclip dolls, and a slinky. Let's be clear though, it took her 3 days to open all of her stuff, and not because she wasn't into it or wasn't skilled at doing it. There was just way more stuff than any 2 year old really needs. Being the only grandchild and the only kid in my family or Erik's family means that Athena will never want for much. Also, Amazon wish lists are awesome because as I think of fun things throughout the year, I can stash the ideas there and folks will just find things she will really love.

On the weekend of the last Gaskell's Ball, Athena went to school for Parents Day Out, then went home to Clementine's house for a sleepover. She had a great time, and we went and worked all day at Dickens, then followed up with Gaskell's, then grabbed some breakfast and picked her up. The freedom of Dickens without a toddler is pretty nice. And Gaskells was one last hurrah at something that has been a huge part of my life for 20 years.
Bohemian National Polka

Sir Roger de Coverly

Waltzing with Dave

One of my favorite things at Dickens, aside from all the dancing, is the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah at the end of the day. I usually grab the King of Kings/Lord of Lords card and proceed to be a big ol' ham, jumping for the sopranos' high note, bending for the basses' low note, swooping for the big runs. It just makes me happy. I got to do it both at Dickens, and again at Gaskell's later that evening.

Now as if watching Athena for us Saturday night/Sunday morning wasn't enough, Kelly and Cole also watched her so that we could go to Mythbusters Live on Thursday night.
Adam hanging from an interleafed pair of phone books

Good seats!

The most powerful paintball gun ever

Athena wouldn't get it at this age, but darn I do hope they do a show like this again in another five years. We'll take her in a heartbeat, and hopefully she'll be the little girl on stage swinging the huge hammer, or something similar. Adam and Jamie were awesome, telling tales and giving me a new word: BLEVE: (bleh-vee) Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion, also known as "What happens when you leave a boiling ham bone on the stove overnight and the water goes down and the bubble under the bone superheats and it all explodes at 3:30 in the morning." Because it did. All over the kitchen. So we cleaned house til 5 a.m., then I got dressed and headed to work and started my workday at 5:45, before we headed to Mythbusters later that night and learned that fabulous new word.

Enormous thanks to Kelly and Cole for watching Athena two nights in one week! Overnights aren't smooth yet. Athena said on Thursday she "Had a rough night." But the waking hours of the two of them together is adorable.

At work the following day, I wrapped up the last crazy steps to send our diagnostics database out for translation into Chinese. We got it down to 7,303 articles with over 300,000 words. Of those, only 317 were not last edited by myself, or my two interns, Zach and Eddie. Bless those young men! We moved mountains of data in two months, checking and validating every attachment, ensuring that every alert had a definition, and cleaning up a lot of duplicates and other bad data. It's an amazing amount of work.

On the final weekend of Dickens, we headed up early to Soup Night at Becky's parent's house. This is my favorite holiday event. Erik and Carolyn are the best hosts. We made a tortilla soup this year that was a big hit. That, plus split pea, butternut, and chili provided by the house, yummy bread, brownies, and more. Then folks roll in from a long day of Dickens, grab a bowl, and tell tales. It's all laughter and family. This year, Erik had his 1950s electric train set up under the tree. Athena was rapt. The other kids present milled in and out, but Athena spent almost two hours lying down on the floor with the trains. This once again serves as a preview for John and Becky, busy wrangling a mobile but mostly non-verbal 18 month old. It gets better!

We stayed the night in the (rather disappointing) Ramada arranged with the Dickens rate, allowing Erik to hit fair in time for tableau. Athena and I gathered ourselves together and had a leisurely breakfast downstairs, then went to Tanforan to hang out for a bit before fetching Karen and Rich at the airport. Being in a mall in full Dickens garb is weird. Athena didn't care. She picked out a Christmas present for Lorelei, then we headed to the play area and played for an hour, climbing and exploring.

Then we headed to the airport. This is her waiting for Meme face:
They landed?
When we caught up to them, Athena wanted to ride the airport train. So we took a grand circle tour of SFO, then headed for Dickens Fair. Karen and Rich had never seen it. My dad met us there and he squired Karen and Rich around for a bit. We stopped for tea and had a generally lovely time.
A friend of Erik's caught this amazing photo!
Erik took Karen out for four or five dances. We would've made it til closing, but they extended the hours and Athena was starting to melt. We piled into the cars and headed home.

I talked to my dad at Dickens and told him about the train and he decided to get Athena a train for Christmas. When she opened it, she wanted it assembled now. Moments later, the train was under the tree chugging along. She learned how to operate it immediately, and never managed to get her helmet off from her bike ride.

Christmas went really well. Karen and I went shopping earlier in the week and decided on a prime rib roast that was pre-prepped from Costco. It was delicious, and beautifully prepared. It was stuff full of garlic cloves. I can wait to boil the bones for stock! Add to that Karen's twice-baked potatoes, shaved brussels sprouts in sage and bacon, rolls and cheddar biscuits, fresh butternut squash soup, and green beans and it was a feast. We didn't even manage to cut into the pie for hours after dinner, opting instead for a trip through the hot tub.
Christmas in California done right.
We spent Friday hiking and going to the Tech Museum, then Greg and Kayla headed home. Saturday was dim sum, train museum, and RC cars at Vallco, then Scott headed home.

On Sunday we made a pilgrimage to the new Exploratorium. I was relieved to find so many of my favorite exhibits made the journey. I had this weird fear that it would be a cleaned up, more sterile, more polished place, but it was the same old Exploratorium, just in a glorious new space with a fabulous view of the water and the bridge. We met up with Justin, Monica, Seamus, Christyn, Brian, Brian's sister Sheri, Athena, Cyrus, and Lorelei, and fanned out through the museum with tiny humans leading the way from one exhibit to the next.

We convened in the Seaglass restaurant at noon and found a lovely meal (fresh sushi bar, salads, roast chicken, fresh mac and cheese, and poke. Yum!) and a full bar. I opted for the lemon basil cacahca drink. I love that the museum is the sort of place you can get a freshly muddled craft cocktail. Things have really improved since the days of hot dogs and cheese in a can poured over tortilla chips!
Athena watches the dry ice in the water on the bar. I'm watching the fresh basil, mint, cucumbers, limes...
Karen and Rich headed home Sunday night. Monday I got up to go to work and Athena said, "But don't go. All of my friends are leaving." I promised her I'd be back by bedtime, and that Meme would come back soon and that she got to spend all day playing with daddy. Still, she was a little sad. She really loved playing with Scott and Greg, and she always loves Karen and Rich.

Christyn and Brian were looking for company for a trip to see Kurios. We hadn't gotten tickets yet, so we dove on that grenade and went with them on Monday. Athena was supposed to be hanging with Clementine, but Clem's mom came down with the flu, complete with 6+ days of fever, so Anna and Heraldo rescued us. (Thank you!) She spent the night doing crafts and dancing.

Ballet in the living room
Aside from the obvious, "It's Christmas!" there is something else I really want to record this time and not let it slip away. Last year about this time we started getting a real preview of what 2 was going to be about. Now we're getting a good look at 3. She's suddenly changed so much. Independent play is normal. She sings to herself and makes up songs. She can have a book read to her once and will have several pages memorized the next time you read it, calling out the story before you can. It has been "No I can do it by myself!" for a couple of months now, but that just keeps escalating. She actually can do a lot by herself, so she's not wrong. This morning she got up and peed in her potty and tossed her overnight pull-up in the diaper pail, then said, "I need your help to get dressed." Erik and I looked at each other, shrugged, and said, "Okay, good job honey." The only thing that's mildly worrisome right now is "No I want to go first!" which leads to a meltdown if you go in front of her. We're trying to get across that she doesn't always get to go first. She gets it sometimes.

To sum up, it's been a good, hectic holiday season. I'm glad it's over. Next stop: January. And the ladybug has been waiting for January for a very long time. Back in October, she was saying, "I don't want to go to school. I want to go to Disneyland." So I figured out that we could go back in January. I told her and she said, "I don't want to go to school. I want to go to January." I said, "Well honey, we're going, but there's going to be a lot of stops along the way." We're almost there!

Oh, and the other thing. Our grand experiment in not modifying our linguistic style around our child has borne fruit. Athena correctly used "Dammit!" in context the other day when she dropped something she was working on while sitting on a stool at the counter. She did it again a few times over the next few days, but as it's not getting a huge rise out of us, it seems to be fading back in the lexicon again. So, yeah, she knows what that word means, and when Mommy would use that word. Now to get onto the deeper contexts like, "Um, sweetie, we don't saw that around your great grandparents, okay?" We'll see how it works out!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Grrr.... grandma went for a follow-up appointment today. Her ankle is broken after all. Apparently the doctor she saw on the Friday after Thanksgiving can't read an x-ray.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Almost 3!

Every month I say, "I'll start earlier and not be late this time." And then the 28th rolls around and I say, "Dangit!" So this is the almost 3 edition, before Christmas, since I can almost guarantee the Dec. 28th edition will slip to January as well.

First, I'd like to say that things at work are settling into a nice routine. My early concerns about this being a good fit are going away. The benefits plans are significantly improved this year, no longer catering to the single young men nearly exclusively. The food situation is so much better with the addition of the Whole Foods mini-market, plus they announced they've hired a chef to start in January, so hopefully food will be even better soon. Today I forgot my lunch for the first time in ages, but it was no problem. I grabbed some tacos from the Mad Mex truck and they were great - carne asada, baja fish, and pork cubano. Nom! I also moved desk out of the wind tunnel and that's improving the condition of my neck and shoulders significantly. Turns out, it was indeed the clenching from shivering that was doing a number on my shoulders week by week. Meanwhile, my two interns are closing in on the end of the term. We've managed to slog through so much work together. It's amazing. What seemed insurmountable is now largely tamed and we hope to ship it all off to the Chinese translators before the holiday. I've gotten in the habit of going for a 2 mile walk at lunch, often on the Matadero Creek trail behind the building. This includes climbing up to the top of the foothills and getting a view of the bay, downtown Palo Alto, Stanford, and 280 and the hills beyond. Not a bad thing to have in my day at all!

Halloween went swimmingly well. I realized I had a reasonable batch of work to do at home, so I didn't drive into Palo Alto. Sanity level: expert! We picked up Athena from school and headed over to Fox Hollow for trick or treating with Lorelei. Athena wore her Elsa dress and Athena wore her Anna dress. Three cul-de-sacs later, Athena was spent, having hauled in more treats than any 2 year old needs. We headed back for dinner and a party at the Lendvays house. My Frozen blue sangria was a hit for the Elsa drinking game - drink every time an Elsa comes to trick-or-treat.

Athena curled up in my lap in the garage movie theater to watch Addams Family. The style and imagery didn't bother her at all and honestly, it's still a great movie with good themes - family sticks together, parents love you and are in love with one another, and dancing is awesome. Heck, the dancing was how I ended up in the garage. Folks came inside to let me know it was almost time for the Mamushka. This is how I know I'm with my people.

The next day we took the girls for a trip to Lemos Farms. Clem's moms took Athena with them back in September and it was a big hit. It was our turn so that they could pack up house, and the girls were once again enchanted. The Groupon for $25 for 2 adults, 2 kids is a deal. Unlimited train rides, bounce housing, and pony rides til the girls can't do anymore. Shockingly, neither opted for a nap on the way back in the car. That's new! Instead, we took our tired girl home and she crashed out early. We're definitely getting to the point where she can either have a nap around 2 or 3 o'clock, or if we make it through to 4, then she'll get past the crankies, and be fine til 7:30 p.m. or so. We've taken advantage of that a couple of times this month to have a nice active day and an adults-only evening at home. On Thanksgiving, this meant her passing out in my arms at 7:15 and slipping her into bed and getting to relax and catch up on some tv, and she slept til 9 a.m.

The following Saturday we headed to Pacifica for Dickens workshops. We're officially working Dickens this year - one day per weekend, as best as we can. Workshops went well. She sat relatively patiently through the lectures, actually enjoying Shelly's steam and gears lecture (trains!) and doing just great in Cathleen's dance class and fine in Hilary's language workshop. In the cafeteria during lunch and during Fezzi rehearsal, she grabbed any willing child and ran up and down the ramps and stairs, monkeying through the bars. When one child flagged, she grabbed another and off they went chasing around again. Athena hit the cranky time (4 p.m. and no nap? Uh, we gotta go...) after an hour of Fezzi rehearsal and we bundled her off into the car with new gate passes in hand. She then crashed out and slept for 3 hours straight. We headed to Crystal's birthday party and parked her in the backyard with a monitor where we got an hour into dinner before she rose to consciousness again. Crystal once again did amazing things with meat and also smoked mac and cheese. We had a lovely time with good friends and very good wine.

This has also been a month of renovations at our house. We finally dove into the bathroom remodel. It's an adventure having contractors tromping through your bedroom daily, but when it's over, we may be lucky enough to have a beautiful new bathroom. Right now, it's life in a sea of dust. When we bought the house, we knew there were issues with the master shower. The rest of the master had issues as well, so we opted to just demolish the whole thing back to the walls. Under the shower, the floor was nearly rotted through because the last shower had been installed very very badly. Do it yourself seems to often mean do it wrong. That's all fixed now and new tile is in place. The walls are painted at cabinets installed. The toilet arrived broken, but Home Depot was a champ about it and gave us a discount on the replacement with speedy shipping so it should arrive Wednesday. By this weekend I'm hoping I no longer need to creep down the hall to pee in the middle of the night. If the new toilet is as quiet as advertised, I may get to pee AND flush without waking the household!

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever. My mom and grandparents trekked down from Sacramento. Luckily, they had great traffic because everyone was going the way I usually have to go - towards the valley and Tahoe. My mom asked, "What can we bring? I don't want you to have to cook everything." I said, "Oh trust me, I'll cheerfully cook anything you want if I don't have to slog to Sacramento on Thanksgiving!" The usual 2 hour drive becomes 4 hours of torture. I've learned some creative routes through the backroads in the last 20 years, but instead, I stayed home, prepped on Wednesday, cooked Thursday morning, and had a gorgeous feast - turkey, two kinds of gravy, Brussels sprouts with bacon and sage, broccoli with almonds and onions, mashed sweet potatoes with browned butter, roasted root vegetables (onions, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes), ginger-ale jello salad inspired by the Missionary's Downfall, and an apple crumble. My mom brought pumpkin pie and cornbread stuffing. We had enough to feed twelve, and only five adults and one tiny human who prefers fish sticks (though she did try some pumpkin pie). My grandmother baked a huge batch of ginger snaps which have turned out to be the key to getting Athena to do whatever we want - eat your fish stick, poop in the potty, etc. Those disappeared and we had to make more this weekend. We've almost made it to the end of the turkey. Almost.

The only bad thing was that my grandmother stepped off the step from the dining room to the family room and fell. Luckily, nothing broken - just a sprained ankle and some bruises - but oh that is so scary!

The next morning we got up and loaded into the car for a trip to Racoon Gulch with Christyn and Brian to get a Christmas tree. A tromp around the back lot led us to the chicken coop and to a lovely tree in the vineyard (soon to be a lemon orchard). Erik headed out with saw in hand to slay the mighty conifer. Athena wanted to help.

Clementine arrived for a sleepover just as we got back. We tucked them in for naptime, but they never settled down. I took an hour to sew some hooks on my Dickens skirt while they "slept" (but mostly giggled a lot). I went in at the end and said, "Are you ready to get up?" Athena announced, "Yeah! We just woke up!" Sure ya did kiddo. But, that meant they both crashed when we tucked them in at 8 p.m. and slept til 7 a.m. I sent Erik back to bed and went and watched Frozen with the girls til 8:30. Then we got ready and headed to the Cow Palace. The two little balls of energy both dozed off on the way up and got a good nap before we handed Clem off to Kelly and Cole.

Then we headed into Dickens. This worked out great for Athena. She was raring to go and we rampaged all over Dickens. Erik and I took turns for who was Fezzi-ing and who was on duty with Athena, which mostly worked pretty well. She decided the ramp up to the upper parking lot was the North Mountain (and Fezziwig's was the ballroom at Arendell), so she climbed up to the top of the North Mountain 8 times with Erik and 6 times with me. Meanwhile, on the dance floor, I danced with a special young man who gave me the most sprited mazurka in ages whose caregiver was just melting with joy to see him dancing. I danced with someone who used to be a teen at FNW years ago, moved away and back again, and now is a grown up who should join us. I helped a set of Sir Roger that was struggling and talked a gentleman through Duke of Kent til he felt like really had it by the end. I danced a Northdown with a young lady whose friends gushed about how elegant and amazing she looked. Later she and her girlfriend asked for waltzing tips and I recommended open waltz variations and to "just play." They had a blast, focusing on the twirls and passes rather than the turning waltz and were all smiles. This thing we do for so many hours a day - there's magic in it. We left the Cow Palace at 7 and Athena was out soon after. We picked up a pizza on the way home (the just reward of a very active day), and she didn't stir. We got home and got the car unloaded and she didn't stir. We scooped her right into bed and she slept til 8 a.m. the next day. Day two in a row of a quiet evening at home on the sofa with my husband.

Erik has been teaching a Continuing Studies class on Thursdays at Stanford. He picks up Athena early from school and drops her off at my work about 5:45 to save me the crazy of leaving earlier and trying to get down 280 in traffic to pick her up by 6. She's never wanted to transfer from car to car directly, so instead, we go inside, take a walk, get some cereal, and then head back to the car. Colleagues have noticed the tiny curly haired moppet narrating her way through the world in their midst and have joined in the fun. Usha's son is 15 so she's thrilled to see a toddler again. She offers Athena Chocolate Kisses, which Athena will never ever refuse. Lamar has a dragon sculpture on his desk, and she goes and pets it each time. This week another coworker whose name I don't know yet offered to let her fly his tiny quadcopter. She took to it instantly and had it whizzing around in no time. Then we got her Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a cup of water and headed home.
The blue car is happy. The black car is scary.
Like she owns the place.
So Saturday was spent baking cookies and making gingerbread waffles and decorating the Christmas tree.
Admiring the tree.
Pointing at her Princess Anna ornament from Grandma.
Gingerbread waffles!
More ginger snaps!
On Sunday, Erik was still suffering a cold, so he stayed home with Athena while I headed up to Dickens to put in a solid day in the warehouse. I forgot my hat so I danced all day. I think I skipped four dances from the time I arrived. I taught many people dances including two teens of thick foreign accents, a young man I pulled into Sir Roger at the last moment who was all grins by halfway through, an older gentleman from Red Thistle who took to mazurka better than someone a third of his age, and Mike, who wanted to know more about where to learn this going forward. With a little luck, Mike may turn up at a Fezziwigs rehearsal in the future. I missed Erik and Athena but loved my day nonetheless. I concluded with triumphant flapping of the King of Kings card and dressing down during notes. It was perfect. This is Christmas for me: baking and dancing. I guess I should do some Christmas shopping sometime soon...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Obesity and Health and History

So last night, I'm driving home from Oakland after a lovely night of ceili dancing, feeling good, and I tune into KQED and listen to a few minutes of Sarah Varney talking about her book XL Love. Since it's Forum, folks are calling in and asking about what's considered obese and she starts talking about BMI and how unless you're an athlete, really, at the point you're tipping into a 30 BMI, you really are obese.

And then I turned to KFOG because I remembered it was time for 10@10 and it turned out to be 1988 and it was a fabulous set and I hoped very much that my brain would let it go.

So today, I'm flipping past Facebook and hit a post of photos of Victorian burlesque dancers. And all I can think is, "How is it I'm obese, and these girls were hot?" Because I'm pretty sure I'm about as fat as this girl:
And I could pick out any of about half of the girls pictured. Some are a little heavier, some lighter, but none of them are as thin as is considered "normal weight" today.

And by BMI standards, I'm obese, and have been for the past two years, and have been overweight for the last 20+ years.

And I'm fighting the good fight, trying to lose weight, but while I eat 1 egg and a slice of Canadian bacon for breakfast, a 3 oz. piece of chicken and some steamed veggies for lunch, an apple for a snack in the afternoon, and a 3-4 oz piece of meat with some steamed veggies for dinner, and maybe a glass of wine, and I might lose a pound a week, and I can put that right back with one deviation from the plan. Meanwhile, my intern is eating 24 sausages a day for breakfast because it's what he can afford to keep him from withering away. He's sitting at the same desk I am for just as many hours, and while yes, he's a 22 year old boy, I was already overweight and fighting it long before 22 and I NEVER got to eat like that. Ever. So is it just a different genetic makeup? Because I don't eat badly. I rarely have. It was chicken breast and salad for lunch in high school. I just always gain weight unless I'm hyper-vigilant. And I'm sick and tired of it. And I'm sick of being told that the obesity epidemic is something totally new and that Americans have never been this fat before. I have to ask, "Is that really true? Or has our standard for "obese" shifted to move more people into the category." If it is true, I hate being lumped in it. I'm fatter than I should be, but it's not because I'm living on Doritos and Coke and burgers from McDonald's. What the hell is going on that I can barely shift the needle with vigorously healthy eating and at least 2 miles of walking at lunchtime per day?

Anyway, shut up brain. It doesn't make sense. It's never going to make sense.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Athena's School

A lot of nights, we're not necessarily the best parents ever. We tend to let Athena watch some Bob the Builder and/or Dinosaur Train while we unload the car, get dinner ready, and take care of random life details like opening mail or putting away groceries. I would feel worse about that if I didn't know with absolute certainty that Athena is run ragged at school.

They play so hard. And the stuff she comes back with is amazing. She'll go on about how she can't push because if she does then someone could fall down and then they would be sad and they would cry. Or she has to be patient and wait her turn. Or she wants to paint. Most days she comes home covered in paint. Or smelling sweaty with dirt smudges on her face. Or both. Or both shoes filled with sand. They take photos and post them on a group on Facebook for the parents every week or two.
Painting with dye
There was orange paint everywhere when she got home.
Taking a car down the slide at school
Random dough project
Egg game
Water play day this summer with Clementine
More water play
Halloween parade at school!
She shares her days with kids from every ethnic background and her best friend has two moms. It's everything I want it to be. One recent morning, we arrived and another couple of kids ran in front of us. The little boy was wearing a fluffy white tutu. Miss Lupe called out, "Slow down please. There's not enough room to run inside please." Yep. Perfect.

She has a sometimes teacher named Miss Kym. Kym floats from room to room subbing for folks on vacation. Kym is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, but so far as I can tell it hasn't even slowed her down. She's got no hair left and wears a scarf most days. Miss Kym started doing Athena's hair a year or so ago, getting her used to brushing it out, putting it up in "ponies" and other various styles. For a little girl with a lot of curls, this has been a godsend that she gets to practice this stuff at school. Recently Kym  brought nail polish. We know, because Athena came home with blue and orange fingernails. She was so very pleased with them. I don't know how she managed to get them to sit still, but in the weeks since, Athena has had green, and then purple fingernails. It's fantastic. Wednesday night Athena was putting on her jammies and caught her shirt on her head, and flung it around and said, "I'm Miss Kym!" Erik and I looked at each other and we both knew how thankful we were for her. Miss Kym is awesome. She usually has to run off at 6 sharp to go teach an aqua Zumba class. She's pretty much who I want to be when I grow up - someone who puts her heart and soul into taking care of kids all day, then runs off to get some exercise after chasing kids all day.

Now our girl is not a morning person. She's not easy to get up on the best of days. Well, okay, to be fair, the last time we went to Disneyland, she woke up a few minutes early and said, "I want to ride the flying elephant!" But most days, we're lucky to pry her out of bed. There's often a lot of complaints about not wanting to go to school. I'm pretty sure they're (even) more likely to force her to live by the rules than we are, so there's a bit of resistance. But lately, we've got an ace in the hole on Fridays. She's got dance class at 9:15. They pick the kids up from her classroom and take them to class. She tried a 4 week stint back last spring and we decided to pause for the summer since she wouldn't be there on Fridays. Well, she's back, and she loves it. We knew this because I told her last Friday that she had to get up because we had to get there in time for dance class. Suddenly my ordinarily lethargic child was up and out of bed and dressed and in the car and into her classroom in no time at all. She actually ended up at school 40 minutes earlier than the day before. We also know this because another parent opted to try to capture dance class on video recently. The net result is that his daughter didn't dance much at all, but we got adorable video of Athena and Clementine dancing.

My favorite was this one with the scarves. Not only is the dancing adorable, but then at the end, Athena offers to help put away all the scarves for the teacher.
These are the moments of parenting that just turn you into jello. I always knew I'd love my kid, but I actually really like her as a person. She's helpful and enthusiastic and a good friend. A lot of it is her basic nature, but there's nurture there too. A big chunk of that is a really good pre-school/daycare where they encourage the best in her.