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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

42 Months

Athena grew! She's super excited about this. After being stubbornly 38 inches for months, she put on an inch in a week. How do I know? Well, she asks us to measure her all the time because she wants to reach 40 inches so we can go back to Disneyland. At first I couldn't believe it. Then it was clear after the third measuring that yes, we'd reached 39 and there was one inch to go. What does that mean in real terms? It means that when we go back, she can ride:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Radiator Springs Racers
among a few others I wouldn't invite her to try. (Seriously - 40 inches for Tower of Terror? Well that's a good way to traumatize a kid for life.) In very real terms, it means if she wants to go on the Lightning McQueen ride, she can. If she wants to go on the fast railroad, she can. She asked before and we told her she wasn't big enough. So, we'll see. In reality, she may be too afraid to try them, but she might love it. The story of my first trip on Space Mountain is legend in my family. I came out completely silent and wide eyed. My mom asked if I was okay. I nodded. She asked if it was scary. I nodded. She asked if I wanted to go again. I yelled, "YEAH!" To be fair, I was 6, not 3 1/2, so not sure if we're willing to try that experiment yet.

We had Clementine over for the weekend after 4th of July and proved once again that entertaining the two of them is easier than Athena alone. We'd be lost without Clementine in our lives. 

Bedtime stories

Letting Daddy sleep in
We went to McKenna's birthday tea party at Chris and Darne's house and it's still a subject of interest weeks later. This morning Athena and Clementine were discussing when they'd next get to have Clementine come over and how we'd have to set a place for Clementine. I was puzzled for a minute but realized she meant at the tea party table. 

Tea party treats
Athena picked up materials for the summer reading challenge. We decided that 30 books in three weeks was a good goal for her. (Well, there were 30 lines on the page, so...) She blew past that easily, and we only wrote down unique books not rereads. I'm feeling pretty good about how much time she spends being read to, and this didn't count circle time at school. One morning we sat on the sofa and she got through nine books and started to get restless on the tenth. When we read Dragons Love Tacos, she likes to eat the tacos off the fronticepieces. Daddy got a little silly and started dumping them from the page into her mouth.

As her reward for reaching her goal, she got to go pick out a book from the library. She got Not Your Typical Dragon
Plus there was a photo booth
This past Friday, I noticed some irregularities on my credit card statement. I called EBMUD, the utility district for Berkeley/Oakland and said, "Sorry, why are you charging me $150? I haven't lived there in 20 years." But as I looked down the statement, I realized there were also charges for PG&E and a whole bunch of Uber rides. So, I called Chase and said, "Yeah, this is a problem." And they took down the list of bad charges and said they'd send a new card in 3-5 business days. Now, this is the Amazon card, so before long I was thinking, "Seriously, you can get me thousands of things the same day, but it takes a week to get a new piece of embossed plastic?" Ugh. I also called Santa Clara to file a police report. Athena headed to the park with Daddy and I waited for the police officer to arrive. They almost didn't make it back in time because a little girl brought her Frozen Jeep to the park and shared it with the other kids. 

How to make kids insanely happy, pt. 1.
But I texted when the officer arrived and they made it back just in time to meet the police officer, and they went to go walk him out to his car and he offered to let her have a seat.

How to make kids insanely happy, pt. 2. 
We went to the Fezziwig's rehearsal on Saturday and Athena slept through the first half. Then she joined us for dancing the second half, with brave Mr. Holly taking a waltz with both of us and her joining me halfway through the Lancers. She's really good about offering her hand to dance partners, so that's nice. We headed to Nicole's birthday party to follow. Athena was a perfect angel, the only kid in a crowd of adults, and happy as can be to play with Robert, eat cake, and get flowers in her hair.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Fourth of July

Our biggest party of the year, the one where we invite everyone from coworkers to closest friends, is the Fourth of July party. I spent all day Friday making salads and pie and prepping meat and cleaning house and clearing up the yard. On Saturday morning, we did the unthinkable and ducked out of the house to go visit Cy and Sandra at their new place in Alameda, see the new house, see the parade, see friends who wouldn't be making the trip south, and then we raced back home. I told Athena that if she took a nap in the car, she wouldn't have to rest during the party. I've never seen her try so hard to go to sleep before, but she was motivated by the imminent arrival of all of her friends. 

We came home just in time to meet our first, prompt guests: Dave, Ellen, and Sarah. I handed Ellen the first cocktail, and Sarah volunteered to juice lemons for lemonade and away we went! I spent much of the next few hours orchestrating in the kitchen, pouring drinks, putting out food, and saying hi to folks as they arrived. Erik worked on arranging the furniture, getting the shade structures up, and firing up the grill. Meanwhile, the party got underway. Lots of folks took heed and really arrived early. There were nearly a dozen kids rampaging through the yard and many more adults to keep them safe.
Athena and Miriam share a box.

We enjoyed the unexpected pleasure of Kevin's birthday. He always spends it in Brown Island with his family, but couldn't this year since Rachel is injured. Instead, Athena made him a birthday cake. It was declared delicious by all.

Kev also brought a pinata and taught the kids how to do it.

Bob arrived late, so dancing was bound to break out finally. There was a little swing and such, and then Night Fever broke out. Athena joined right in. I love this kid!!! My little dancing buddy. Yay!

Around 9:15, I suddenly realized it was almost time for the big show. Our neighbors down the street said their place was as good as the park, so the party migrated there and we enjoyed the show.
At the neighbors where Toledo becomes Asbury.
Dave captured this from our place
As the evening wound to a close, and Athena was ready to fall asleep in my arms, we started turning out lights per our usual bedtime routine and found the pinata head tucked into bed, enjoying a well-deserved rest.
Athena knows nothing of The Godfather and thought the llama head was hilarious.
We'll be eating sausages and ribs and other leftovers for at least a week (and freezing other things). I had the foresight to schedule our house cleaners for Monday at 8 a.m. I should've left a big tip. The house was drenched in a layer of lemonade and splattered food and soggy footprints. It will be miraculously clean when I get home. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015


There has been a ton of chase lately.

First, there's the episode of Dinosaur Train where Alvin the Allosaurus and Morris the Stegosaurus can't get to their food because they can't pass each other with civility. Buddy and Tiny coach them into doing it with nobody getting bit and nobody getting a Stegosaurus tail to the leg. Alvin wants the meat. Morris wants the plants. For whatever reason, this really clicked with Athena. We talked about how different things are made of meat, and how plants can't move on their own, unlike animals made of meat. She got to the conclusion that Mommy and Daddy and Athena are all made of meat. So then we somehow leapt to chasing each other around to nom the meat. With a wild eyed look, she'll say, "You're made of meat!" and the chase is on, laps around the kitchen island, until someone gets caught or cornered and is nommed. I can't get video of it because most of the time one parent is helping Athena catch the other parent as meat. That's how we roll in my family apparently.

On Tuesday night, Erik went to Lowe's and Athena asked for a flag. He got her a flag and she loves it. We decided to try the Tuesday night Kids Make Their Own Pizza thing at Pizza My Heart. This was a huge win, especially with the big patio outside. She made her pizza, waited for it to be cooked, and ate dinner. A lot of dinner. Since that's a battle we still fight most days, this was awesome. She even accidentally consumed a piece of ham and didn't spit it out. Win! After dinner, she and Daddy chased after each other to get the flag. Then I chased her. Then they chased more. Thank goodness there's two of us and only one of her.

She loves her "fast shoes." The girl has no shortage of shoes, but they're being rated in terms of which ones are easiest to run in. Sparkly gold shoes are awesome for some days. Dancing shoes are fine sometimes. But most days, fast shoes win. As these are also her most durable shoes, we're okay with that. She's gonna run the soles right off them before the outgrows them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

41 Months

This month we finally got a visit from Karen. Hooray! (No really, total Kermit flail!) Athena was beyond overjoyed. I think she might be enticed to come back sooner as this time all thoughts of "No, Mommy do it." were left behind in favor of "No, I want to brush teeth with Meme." and "No, I want to make coffee with Meme." and the greeting of  "Meme! Meme! Meme! Meme!" for about an hour when she first arrived. Athena skipped school in favor of trips to the park and the library and the junior museum and generally having a completely delightful time.

We went to Vasona Park for the first time to try the train and the carousel, which were both great.
"Meme carry me please."

Carousel in the trees

Mommy and Daddy sat on the bench
Saturday night we took advantage of the free babysitting and hit the Mountain Winery for George Thorogood and Brian Setzer. Brian Setzer was as awesome as I expected, and the Mountain Winery is definitely not the right place to see him. We found one wide space to dance a bit, but otherwise, it's tiny little seats with barely any legroom and no place to dance. I initially turned it down, and Erik said he wanted to go without me. That bummed me out, so I decided to go too. I would cheerfully go to any Brian Setzer show again almost anywhere else, but yeesh, when the best dancing is on flagstone paved corner no where near our seats, that's just wrong. But when you're the only couple dancing, a lot of people notice. Erik bumped into Ryan Shen-Knotts in the bathroom, and, and a Stanford colleague emailed me on Monday to say hi and say, "I told my husband he'd never dance with me like that." He said, "Nope."

We all headed to Santa Cruz for Father's Day, which seemed to be an idea lots of other folks had too. Athena loves the rides so very much.
On my trusty steed!


More carousel!
Athena is very clear on the letter A all of the sudden. She has been pointing out As all over the place, because A is for Athena. She also knows O. Other letters are still a bit more fuzzy, but she's got her numbers, can count to about 30 pretty successfully (and farther with a nudge here and there, so she gets the mechanic clearly), and delights in counting everything.

Also, we are all silly Billies. A lot.

Athena delights in making a mistake. I can only assume this comes from school because she says it with such joy. As in, "Oh! I made a mistake!" So far, no particular negative connotations there, so that's pretty cool.

And last week, her favorite phrase became, "Well, except..." She uses it in much the same way that a lot of folks use, "Um" but it sounds more adult and more contrarian. She's also all about "the plan." I'm pretty sure that one is my fault. I'm always briefing her on the plan because life goes soooooo much better if she knows what the plan is, especially if we can get her used to a big, out of the ordinary plan for a few days before it happens. Then big things can happen, and she knew it was the plan, so she's way less upset. Turns out, her needs are not unlike any adult. She likes to know what's going on, and sometimes she likes to decide what's going to happen. She'll say, "Well, here's the plan. We'll make coffee, then get dressed, then go to the park." And I say, "Oh, ok. That's a good plan." She'll say, "That's a really good plan. Let's do it." And off we go.

Her favorite food is macaroni and cheese. Like she would eat it twice a day every day if we let her.

Meanwhile, at work, things are pretty busy for me, but at least I've got a couple of interns doing the pile-on, no way it was gonna happen work. Erik is just finishing his quarter and the summer quarter starts Monday. This seems crazy on many levels, not the least of which is that grades for the prior quarter aren't posted til Wednesday so there's no telling if you passed the prerequisite, but it's how they roll at De Anza. He'll have a month off in August/September so that will be nice. (I never get a month off! Or an end of the quarter sense of completion. Harumph.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

40 Months for Athena. 41 years for me.

Since last we left our heroes, both Erik and Ammy have enjoyed birthdays. That brings me up to 41 (which sounds oddly older than 40, like, "I'm in my forties." instead of "I'm forty." Weird.) But, since there's been a large gap since our last update, I'm going to sum up a bit more than normal.

Athena now makes me coffee. Our daily routine involves her scooping coffee into the filter, adding water, and closing the lid. Then she presses the button and we wait for the beep. We pour coffee, then milk, and she pours in the sweetener.

I put the lid on because the day she tried that it splashed a bit on her, so now she doesn't want to, because hot is bad. Net result: my kid makes pretty good coffee! Also, the one thing I really wanted for my birthday was a conical burr coffee grinder to improve my coffee experience. My mom got it for me, so now I can up my coffee snob street cred a bit. 

We're working with a grad student in Stanford's Learning, Design, and Technology program (the Master's degree I'd get if I didn't have to have a job for a year) who is working on a thesis called "Nomster Chef," using a custom app to have picky eaters make meals step by step with their parents. The first week we made a quesadilla with beans and spinach. At first, Athena was her usual self and said, "I don't like that." Then as we all sat down to dinner, she decided to try it. Win!!! She explained that she likes the cheese and the leaves, but not the beans. I said that was okay. We've had two more quesadillas since then. This week we made a pizza with mozzarella, spinach, sliced tomatoes, and basil. She didn't like to eat the tomatoes, but she loved slicing them in half with the knives Ashley brought. This time Athena asked if she could eat some of the shredded cheese. I scooped some extra into the measuring cup and she proceed to mow through about a 1/3 of a cup of mozzarella. That was new. So, our girl is still hopelessly picky, always preferring a granola bar and a pouch of banana apple fruit over almost anything else, but we just keep chipping away at this challenge and someday she'll be eating curry and sushi and gyros and with us like a champ.

We went to KublaCon this past weekend. The hotel remains my least favorite of the local gaming con circuit due to it's lack of parking, lack of access to food and shopping, slow and broken elevators, and indifferent staff. Athena has the bug though. We told her we were going to a hotel and she was super excited. She likes hotels for a lot of reasons. It usually means we're spending time with friends she likes and it means we sleep in the same room with her. She gets to sleep on her little cot, which she also likes. She only got to stay one night this time because she was off to Clem's house for a sleepover on Saturday morning. This meant Erik and I actually got to play in a game together. Yay! Then we helped run the Night at the Mouseum game on Saturday night (Disneyland meets Night at the Museum - shenanigans ensue!). 

On Sunday we headed to Rich and Louise's wedding. It was the first time in ever that I was able to go to a wedding without even getting on the freeway. That was awesome. It also meant that when Athena was still pulling down an epic nap at 3:30, I headed off to the ceremony and Erik stayed home with the girl. It was a charming wedding for two folks who seem terribly well-suited for one another. For years, I knew Louise was super awesome, but never quit fit perfectly in the dancer/Fezzi milieu. She found Legion and it was like a sigh of relief - yes, these are your people, including this cute guy you get to marry. Yay! Meanwhile, Athena thought the party was cool, especially when she got to play with the rainbow disco light thingy and the horn helmet for the picture booth. (She was a tricertops, you see.)

Cupcake with sprinkles. 

Peter blowing bubbles for Athena

 On May 14th, we took Erik to the airport for a conference in San Diego. While he enjoyed a few child-free evenings with colleagues, I took Athena to visit her grandma in Sacramento (and her great-grandparents). We booked a ride on the railway and spent an hour on a train. Athena was rapt. 

Then we headed into the Railroad Museum and she played with all of the train tables for the next hour while mom and I sat and chatted. Then we headed to my grandparents house, collecting pizza en route. Our entertainment for the afternoon was a belated egg hunt. My mom had Easter things for Athena (including that purple dress above) and we enjoyed a half dozen times of us hiding eggs for her, and her hiding eggs for us. 

Athena had her first official dentist's visit. To be fair, she went when she was less than a year old, but that was perfunctory. This time she'd been with us to our dental visits for the last three trips. After we went to Dr. K's office, she started telling me she wants to be a dentist when she grows up. She'd reach in my mouth and have a look with some regularity. She was super excited to go to her dentist. She showed them how she brushes her teeth, how she rinses and spits, and then let them do a full exam and a cleaning. She was such a champ. 
The office had an amazing space shuttle toy Athena gravitated to.

We arrived back at school just in time for circle time, so Athena said, "Bye mommy!" then dashed in and plopped down next to Miss Kym.

Miss Kym is going to be out for 8 weeks getting a hip replacement. We miss her so much, but I still get shades of Miss Kym because she pops out of Athena's mouth all the time. Athena may be the most polite child I've ever met, and for anyone who knows me, you know that's her school being awesome rather than us doing an amazing job. Mama has the mouth of a sailor. Meanwhile, Miss Kym routinely enforces pleases and thank yous and addresses the kids as "my friend" when asking them to do things. Last weekend, Athena was asking me to do something and she said, "Could I have that for a snack, my friend." At Trader Joe's this week, she asked if she could have stickers saying, "Please may I have stickers?" And I said, "Yes you may." And she said, "Oh thank you. Thank you mommy." I can't wait til Miss Kym is back! 

Our fence didn't make it through the last rainstorm of the season, so we met up with the neighbors and got bids for a new fence just before the annual Santa Clara cleanup. They tore out the fence and the ivy, and replaced it with a lovely new fence and a gate with a latch that doesn't require insane tugging and trouble. In the process, we found out that our neighbor's daughter now was starting to babysit. She'd taken the Red Cross CPR and babysitting training and was  available for $3 an hour. I just about choked on the spot. That's about 1/5 the cost of babysitting normally. (Heck we've paid as much as $22 an hour when desperate.) And she'd have her mom next door as backup, and really, she's a kid. On Monday we told Athena that Maddie was coming over to play. We got her all set up then said we were going to go out for a bit and she said, "Okay bye mommy." This is not her normal reaction to my leaving. Ever. But hey, there was another kid to play with. A big kid. And painting. They painted, and drew and painted toenails and played outside and watched the Tinkerbell movie. We got home to find Athena napping. She woke up unbelievably cheerful. It was idyllic. Meanwhile, we hit Sushi Confidential in Campbell, then saw Tomorrowland at Camera 7. It turns out one of the main characters is named Athena. In a few years, we'll introduce it to our Athena and see what she thinks.

At work we've done 3 sessions of Elite Technician training. It was great to get back to the training world for a visit. We had 14 different speakers over 3 days and 20-24 techs per session. Now every service center has at least one expert who will review cases before they're escalated to Service Engineering, which is going to be huge because certain things are happening that are going to make things much busier, as if introducing the new dual-motor vehicles wasn't adding enough extra load already.

I also taught two sessions of Mastering Your iOS Device for Stanford Continuing Studies this quarter. It was a blast again! Exhausting, but fun. My "teach people cool stuff" itch has been well scratched over the past quarter, which it appears makes me a happier employee overall, so that's good (and good to know).

During one of those classes, I was demonstrating Find My Friends and I brought it up, and then tried to figure out what the heck was going on with folks. None of it made any sense. Kevin was in the park where Erik and Athena were going earlier, and Christyn was at our house and it was all just so very weird. So I'm driving home and I say, "So, why was Christyn at our house? Erik says, "Long story, I can tell you when you get home." I say, "Yeah, okay, but did Kev go to the park with you?" And he sighs and says, "Want to hear it now?" And, well, yes, I'd love to hear a good story as I drive home from Palo Alto. Turns out, Erik met up with Ben and Miriam in the park for lunch and toddler play time. The city workers decided to turn on the water features in Las Palmas park. (Because it's this awesome tiki-themed park.) It turns out that a pipe had broken, and Erik fell into the invisible quicksand that was forming and was up to his waist almost instantly. He let the workers know and they turned off the water, but then Erik realized he's lost his wedding ring. It could be in the water pit, or it could've flown when he fell, but it was gone. Meanwhile, it was almost toddler naptime, So, he rallies the troops, and begs for help. Christyn heads to our house to sit while Athena naps. Kev goes to Home Depot and gets a bucket and some mesh for a sieve. Erik and Kev head to the park and with shovels and tools in hand, stride back to the pit. Another person says, "Oh hey, be careful, there's a deep pit." He says, "Yeah, we know. I'm the one that found it. I'm just going back to find my wedding ring." And the guy says, "You lost a ring? Is it silver and blue? My daughter just found one." He calls to his daughter to bring it over. It is indeed Erik's lost ring. He thanks them profusely and says, "Sorry, what did you say your daughter's name was?" It's Athena. Erik just stands there dumbfounded, then explains. He offers a reward to Athena and her father insists no reward is needed. So Kev and Erik return the supplies to Home Depot and go back to the rest of their day only slightly disappointed that they didn't get to have an adventure with shovels and sieves and buckets.

I'm out of time, so here's a few more pictures of my cutie girl to wrap up this post. 

Trying on a seersucker suit at Target.
Being patient while toes dry.
Two tattoos! Elsa AND Anna!
Picture by Miss Joanna at school.
Life is good. Busy. There's rarely time for anything more than the minimum requirements - work, eat, sleep, take care of tiny human - but we're doing okay. And she's one heck of a cute tiny human, so it works out.