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Friday, August 30, 2013

19 Months

Well this has been an interesting month. Stanford suffered a nation-level security attack. We're dealing with that, but we had other big projects rolling like the release of the AirWatch MDM for Android and the launch of Zimbra 8. Things are hectic at work. Also, I got into a minor fender bender on the way home from work last week and have to take my car in for repairs. Luckily, everyone is fine. But that's not what's plagued my brain this month.

Our big saga for the month has been Athena's transition to DeLor Montessori School. We made the decision for all the right reasons - wanting her to have the Montessori experience that had served friends' kids so well, plus it was less expensive than her current daycare. Makes sense, right?

But transitions are hard. We know this. Every morning, drop off was a lot of crying. The thing that was a little frustrating for us was at the end of the day when we pick her up, we'd ask how she napped or what she ate, and they didn't know because her teachers had left for the day already and left no note. Also, she'd routinely be in a diaper that was full to bursting. Her lunch box came home with yogurt and applesauce unopened, not just uneaten. They said she refused her yogurt or applesauce and wouldn't drink her milk. This seemed odd. In the first week, she picked up the phrase, "No no no" with a finger waggle. We'd been very cautious with No up to that point, wanting to save it for the important stuff like "No, stop, you'll get burned." She came home with a sunburn one day and we asked if they did sunscreen. They said no, that we should put it on before she comes in. At Early Horizons, they use Alba sunscreen on the kids, and their play area is shady. We'd never been told we were responsible for sunscreen at DeLor, so we hadn't made that part of the daily routine. Athena acquired her first freckles.

Still, we promised ourselves 30 days before we made any decision. We wanted to let her get settled in. We were struggling with that, but then it turned out the whole school was closed for the past week. We found out by noticing it on the sign-in sheet. They hadn't mentioned that when we started at the beginning of the month. We still needed child care, so we asked at Early Horizons if they'd have room for her. They did, and so we showed up on the first day in the new room and she went right to Jenny who she'd met once before with no fuss or tears. Isabel and Clementine were both excited to see her and Naryan and Miriam both acknowledged her too. I called Erik as I left that first day. It was breaking my heart. She and Clementine together is something magical. At the end of the day, she'd had bananas and crackers for a snack they provided and she actually ate bananas, plus ate all of her yogurt, drank milk from a big-girl cup, napped for almost 3 hours, and came home happy and giggly and sweaty from playing all day. We also had a nice note that detailed the day.

By the end of Tuesday, they had a basket labeled for her and she ate watermelon. This was huge! Our girl never eats wet food that has to be chewed, but she did with the group when everyone had it. Erik said, "We're switching back aren't we?" I said, "Yeah. We have to."

So he went in to talk to De Lor today. They told us the communication problems were our fault. They said that we have to give 30 days notice or they'd take us to small claims court. This made me unbelievably angry, but what choice did we have? 30 days of torture for the girl, but then it would be over. He stopped into EH to give them the bad news. Kylee, the director, said, "Oh no. She shouldn't go back. That's not okay. For September, you pay whatever you can, even if that's a ridiculously low number. We'll keep her." Erik texted to tell me that. That's when I started crying in my meeting at work. Hopefully no one noticed.

So now Athena is at Early Horizons in the Ladybug room with Dewan, Crystal, Christie, and Jenny as her teachers. This was an expensive mistake, but one that we'll try to learn from. When our gut is telling us that things are off, they probably are, and when our gut says, "Don't go!" we really should listen to it. Really. The day before we switched, I just wanted to call the whole thing off. If I couldn't put a finger on why, I would've, but I couldn't, so I stared at the ceiling telling my brain to shut up. Sorry brain; I owe you one.

But, that's not all! In other news of the month, Erik finished summer school and did a week-long inservice. After that, I took 3 days off work and we did a lot of unpacking. We moved furniture around. We drove around Santa Clara based on the list the city gave us and picked out a tree for the front yard (a Zelkova, because wow they make for beautiful shaded tree-lined streets).

Okay, wait, pausing here to mention that Santa Clara has an awesome street tree program. Well, really, Santa Clara has a lot of awesome things - it's own electricity company, with the option to get green power, and an amazing library, and great parks and well, I think we're going to like it here. But the street tree program is basically that the city will come and look at your house and if there's no tree out front, they will plant one for you within five feet of the sidewalk. They left a list with addresses to go see examples of the trees around the city. I did some research online to narrow it down, then Erik did the same research, and armed with a list of a half-dozen trees, we drove. It came down to an Ash or a Zelkova, with the Zelkova winning for it's broad canopy. The city guy came back and picked out a spot for the tree. We suggested one place, but it turns out that's right over the sewer line, so that's a horrible idea. He and Erik decided on a better spot, marked it, and then gave Erik a bunch of other gardening and watering advice. This was completely awesome.

So, we had time for that, some unpacking, some shopping for tile for the bathroom, and generally pulling it all together. On Wednesday I was disappointed that we didn't get more done, but Erik assured me that we were in better shape than it looked like. He then spent the next week slaving over the house, installing a new faucet in the kitchen that doesn't wobble, and installing a new shower head, and putting all the books onto shelves in the guest room, and patching the wall and installing a new toilet paper holder and towel holder in the bathroom and moving all the boxes out of the dining room and rehanging the closet doors and hanging the curtain rods and curtains in the bedroom and let's just say that he's awesome, okay? Also, he'd much rather sit down and play video games for a few days to unwind from the school year, but he does these things because he loves me. I love him so very much and am so very grateful to have him sharing my life.

Athena has been talking up a storm, and has gained the cadence of English, even when the words aren't necessarily words. The consequence of the increased use of the word No at school has been a significant uptick in using it herself. Add to that the new word "mine" and entire sentences have become, "No mine no mine no mine no no no mine no mine no mine." It's hard not to laugh at her when she does that. She's deadly serious about it though! We're still working on food that doesn't come from a pouch. She doesn't seem to like anything that is wet or sticky. Graham crackers are awesome, strawberries are not food, unless pureed. Ritz crackers are yummy, but peanut butter crackers are unacceptable. We asked her pediatrician about it at her 18 month appointment, but she said not to worry too much. We just need to make sure she's getting iron in her diet. She still usually likes to have a bowl of baby cereal each day, so she's usually getting enough.

We did go to her 18 month appointment. She had her last vaccine for quite a while. Yay! She's lock-step on her curve. She's a little short for her age, a teensy bit heavy, and has a pretty big noggin (85th percentile). We hope that she's growing a big brain that's getting full of new things every day. She loves puzzles now and will happily sit with her buckle puzzle (thanks Wendy and Jeff!) for 30 minutes at a go. She also has two favorite books - Inside, Outside, Upside Down and Baby Animals. Baby Animals gets read by daddy and he does all the animal noises. She loves it. Now she can do several of the animals herself and daddy is training her on the elephant noise. He does an absolutely amazing elephant. When she sits with me for Inside, Outside, Upside Down, I bump her up and down as the box falls off the truck. Again, big smiles and giggles. Then she'll sign "more" and say "More?" or "More, again" or most recently, "M'again." It's super cute. We usually have to read the book at least 3 times.

We signed up for a second round of swim lessons, and Clementine is joining us this time. Athena is in love with the water. Many nights she asks us to go swimming in the big tub outside. We've been relegated to spelling or foreign languages when discussing baths unless we want it to happen Right Now. Clementine is still in the stage where swimming is filled with sadness, but we've assured Kelly it will get better.

Even though we weren't enrolled at Early Horizons a week ago, we took advantage of their Parents Night Out. Athena spent the night scribbling and playing with Clementine while we went to see At World's End. It was a perfect Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie that left me with This Corrosion stuck in my head all week. After that we grabbed a slice and a salad at Pizza My Heart and headed home to finish the season of Supernatural while assembling a table and chairs set for Athena. That, plus waffles in the morning at Fred's birthday party and it was a really nice day.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and working on planning our housewarming party. Looks like we're shooting for September 14th, so if you don't get an invite soon, leave a comment here and we can get that to you.

Other fun adventures included a trip to Aqui for dinner with Christyn, Brian, and Jonah. Athena was having a night of cuteness. Christyn caught this photo:

Dinner at Aqui with Christyn, Brian, and Jonah.
Later, after dinner, we were finishing our drinks and Athena needed to get up to play. One of us chased her while the other chatted. Athena decided that the wet floor cones at Aqui were the best toy ever. She pushed and dragged them all over the restaurant. The staff humored her, and one even said, "I want to send one home with her. She's having so much fun!" We really like the gang at the Cupertino Aqui. She's been going there since she was born and they've treated us really well. Now if only they had a diaper changing station!
Playing with the wet floor cone at Aqui. Signing "more".
There was also a trip to dim sum and a stroll through Macy's afterwards. While Erik tried on a new pair of jeans, Athena found a mannequin hand on the ground and carried it around the store.
Oooh - a hand!
Clearly practicing for her Halloween role as zombie princess.
A girl and her hand.
We went to the Lund's house for a Meet the Babies party for Penelope and Alexander. The babies were so tiny! It's amazing how fast they grow. Athena actually at a jam cookie of her own free will and LOVED climbing the stairs. We unloaded a ton more toys and clothes that Athena's not using anymore.
Stairs are awesome!

Athena's cookie at the table.
We also went to the PEERS picnic. We were horribly underprepared and brought no picnic, but our friends are awesome. Kathleen fed us her blackberry cobbler and wine. Arielle fed us too and loaned me a hat to shade the baby while she had a bottle of milk. Then we danced a bit, even managing a Spanish Circle Waltz with Athena in arms. Later, Athena played on the slide with Erik while I got in a few more dances.
Shaded by a lovely hat. Thanks Arielle!
After school, Erik lets her get in the front seat and play with his car. This has led to some interesting and unexpected settings in the car.

Athena "driving" daddy's car after school
The other night, it was approaching bedtime, and Athena took her bottle of milk and climbed into the rocking chair. She watched the projector, pointing out the cow and the sheep and the moon and the stars. When I told her that what she was pointing at was the sheep, she'd say "Baaaaa!" and kick her feet.
Bedtime milk watching her Soundspa projector
And just for fun, here's a few shots around the house.
Athena running down the hall with a balloon.

Computing with mommy.

Athena with Daddy on the sofa.

Did I mention the super cool library in Santa Clara? It is lovely. Athena approves.
She says "book" now.

Just available for the kids to pick out.

Yay library!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Science News!

If you skip sleep, you gain weight. Reasons: you're awake for more hours to eat and your sleep dep will totally tell you it's okay to have that cookie because you're tired and you need it to keep going. Now, who is surprised that new moms have trouble controlling their weight? Certainly not me.

A month or more ago, I came across this news bit about Elon Musk proposing a high speed tube for travel. Sounded awesome at the time. It got more concrete this week. Elon Musk may be a dreamer, but let's be clear: he's a dreamer who gets shit done. I'd love it if he did this.

Also, did you hear about the new version of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson? I hope so, but if not, surprise! I hope it makes you as giddy as it does for me.

There are a lot of Upworthy videos out there, and their site routinely annoys the snot out of me, but this one is well worth watching. It's what happens in our brains when we're the one with the money. Turns out you're probably not imagining it with the entitled asshole in the BMW. He probably is thinking he's worked harder than you and is entitled to get on the freeway faster (or whatever).

Autism likely a genetic condition? Yes, and there's a blood test in the works. This may be the only way to truly kill the vax=autism bullshit, and if so, that would be completely awesome.

Does this sound fattening to you? Branding experts should be aware that front vowels sound like a product will be light or thin or slim and back vowels sound rich and creamy.

And now my tabs are closed. Phew!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Extra Extra!

I just have to pause and say that that was an awesome weekend.

First, we took Athena to Parents Night Out at Action Day where she sort of almost ate a few bites of pizza, played like a champ, and slept like an angel. Meanwhile, we went to the 12th anniversary Friday Night Waltz, took Richard's history of Blues class and cross-step variations from 2001, and danced til 10:30. Then we rushed out to pick up the girl and slid her into bed.

I was there for the very first Friday Night Waltz back at the old YWCA in Palo Alto. It was delightful then and continues to be an awesome mix of end-of-the-week casual dancing, with great lessons and music that I need in my life. We're going to try to commit to being there for the 2nd Friday of the month from now on. Athena will always have the option of Action Day that night, and for $30 from 6-11 p.m., it's a steal. Plus, her parents REALLY need to dance more for so very many reasons, not the least of which is that's what brought them together in the first place.

The next morning we were up and at it before 8 a.m. as the city-wide garage sale was happening. We shuffled our stuff out onto the drive before the baby woke. She slept til five minutes after nine, which meant she had barely enough time for a bottle and getting into her swimsuit before swim lessons.

After three weeks of swim lessons, I was braced for the screaming and tears, but like a magical switch had flipped, and she was excited about swim lessons. We got in the pool and she almost immediately gave Mr. Phillip a high-five. She only fussed slightly about being on her back for rocket blasters. She actually giggled during motorboat rides. It was magical. Sophie, another tiny swimmer, had the same radical transformation. She was in the pool giggling when we walked up and I thought, "Oh boy, my kid is going to be the only one still crying." Nope, that was Veer, a little Indian boy. Everyone else was totally into it. This was completely awesome.

Then we headed back, hopped into the shower together, and washed off the chlorine. Athena and I spent the rest of the day running around while Erik ran the garage sale. A couple of big items went away and a bunch of small stuff. We acquired a pair of sunglasses for Athena from the next-door neighbors and a nice bathmat from some neighbors down the street. Otherwise, it was all pretty chill, hanging with the neighbors, sharing beer and margaritas and occasionally becoming salesmen.

As we pulled it all back inside, our new bed arrived and was set up for us by the furniture store. We now have a king-sized bed, which is wonderful. We borrowed a set of sheets from Kev and Rachel as ours have not arrived from Cape Cod yet (because Erik's mom sells the most amazing snuggly sheets from the Comphy Sheet company). Hopefully they'll get here soon. We tumbled into bed and slept well.

We got up earlier the next day when Athena woke at 7:30. We played a bit, then got her ready for her playdate with Clementine. Clem's moms took both girls for a couple of hours while we rearranged the living room a bit and unpacked things onto shelves as if we're actually starting to settle in. Yay! I came back a few hours later to find Athena wearing a hat (which she never does for me) because Clementine was wearing a hat. Oy, those two are amazing together.

So then, Athena had a solid 2 hour nap because she'd played with her bestie for a couple of hours and we finished putting up curtain rods and laundry shelves and whatnot. When she woke up, we bundled ourselves off to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond for a bit of shopping, having spotted an unusually nice piece of art there at a terribly reasonable price. BBB not being the kind of place I expect to find good art, I was a little surprised. But it turns out, we really like Brent Lynch's artwork and may soon have it hanging on our living room walls.

Then we caught up to Athena, Cyrus, and Lorelei for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, and when the girls could not be contained any longer, Cyrus and I took them outside where they ran up and down the sidewalk. Athena vocalizes as she runs these days, with her arms flappping, and it's just about the cutest thing ever. I took to hiding behind a light post, where the girls would come "find" me and tackle me with hugs and giggles.

We all headed back home and jumped in the hot tub where Athena swam back and forth between us, then spent another ten minutes climbing up to the side so that she could slip/slide down and splash in. What a difference a week makes!

We're still moving in and settling and finding our way around the house, but it's starting to feel like home, and we're able to keep chipping away at the tasks to get settled.