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.
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
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.
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.
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.