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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Athena!

Yep, it's true. We made it two whole years!

The phrase of the week is "Oh my goodness!" and "Oh my gosh!" She says both as a general exclamation all the time. It's absurdly adorable. Something falls to the floor? "Oh my goodness!" Something tips over? Oh my goodness!" Wet pants? "Oh my gosh!" Super cute, really.

When I got to daycare today, there was a "Happy Birthday Athena" banner in her classroom. She sat right down with her friends, kissed me goodbye, and dove into her day. I brought cupcakes for everyone, Athena-style: no frosting. Sure, all the other kids will be disappointed, but Athena will love every bite without having to work around the wet or the sticky of frosting.
The cupcake was irresistible the night before.
We're headed to Aqui for dinner with friends after work. This is probably our last low-impact birthday for her, so a reprise of last year's party sounded lovely. Last year this meant her first steps. We'll see if we get anything exciting tonight. She helped me mix up some gingerbread cupcakes for anyone who didn't want Aqui's flourless chocolate cake (Karen! Rachel!). She loves to help cook - counting out ingredients and stirring things. She stands on a chair in the kitchen, it's back turned toward the counter. Life is good.

A quick check in her room this morning put Athena between 33 and 34 inches tall. She's growing like a weed, up four or five inches since 18 months.

She's just started watching a bit of Sesame Street this month. She dearly loves Elmo. On nights where she's running low on steam, we'll sit down for half an episode. Boy has it changed since I was a kid! It's not bad, just so very different. I miss counting to twelve. I miss the Yep Yep aliens. Oh, but one thing has NOT changed: Maria. She's still there, and damn she is looking good for a woman in her 60s! Like WOW! There she is in a square-necked top, and I say, "She's been on this show forever. She's got to be in her 60s." and Erik says, "That doesn't look likely." Sure enough, it's true. Clean living on Sesame Street for the win!

Athena still loves singing songs. There's the Sesame Street alphabet, and Charlie Hope, and lots of good stuff from Pandora's Toddler Radio. She's decided she likes to Move it Move it! One night we were headed to meet up with friends for dinner, so Erik caught this video.

It's been a lovely leisurely month. We spent Christyn's birthday weekend with them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Athena loved the fish and octopus and such, but really loved the jellyfish. The only challenge was that she didn't like being in the dark even if the exhibits were lighted.
Watching fishies with Daddy
We made it out to Friday Night Waltz once this month for Richard's night of Ginger and Fred lessons and movie theme music. It was a blast. We learned a nice foxtrot combination and got to dance to some favorite music with a whole lot of our friends. It was the busiest I'd seen FNW in a while. 
Silly tango is always fun.
I started a diet when I got back to work. It's working... slowly. Three pounds down with three weeks effort. I'm hitting the gym at least 3 days a week, which would be deadly dull, save for the use of an iPad to watch an episode from something I'm years behind on. First up: Warehouse 13, season 4. It's good goofy fun, and lasts 42 minutes long, which makes for a nice stretch on the elliptical. Getting to catch up on tv is an absolutely fabulous incentive for exercise! So, I figure I'll be working on that for the next six months or so. Maybe if I'm very very lucky (and diligent!) I'll get to my goal weight before my 40th birthday. I reckon by then, I'll at least be fitting back into a lot of my favorite clothes, and that seems an awfully worthy goal before that little milestone.

Clementine's family is moving to a nice duplex this weekend, so we took Clem Saturday morning so that they could pack, then dropped both girls off for Parents Night Out at school in the afternoon. Remembering the experience of toddler vs. packing, we were really happy to help. We spent the morning up at the park with a lot of time on the swings, then watching the swim meet for a bit and finally ended up reading a few books at the library before heading home for lunch. Athena's new favorite food is fish sticks, so we made up a batch. Clementine was dubious, but Athena will eat 4-6 at a sitting. 

We had a ladies clothing swap on Sunday and I'm wearing a lovely new-to-me purple dress today that fits perfectly. I took the leftovers to Savers, and then headed inside to use my 20% coupon. I found Athena a perfect purple Columbia jacket. She LOVES it. Her favorite things right now is anything purple. This means keeping track of our purple plate, purple bowl, and purple cup is a critical daily task. Food simply cannot be served on the orange plate! The only thing better than a purple outfit is one with pockets. A pair of pockets on the front of something makes it the best thing ever. 

Last Thursday, Wendy was in town for a business conference. We got to have dinner with her, which was a treat. Unfortunately, it was the third time in the last 2 weeks that Athena has gone all day without a nap. We're so not ready for that! And she really isn't either. She transforms from a happy, gregarious toddler to a super-crankypants. Oy. She did it again on Saturday, so we shuttled her off to PNO early and let Clementine have a nice nap. Then we shuttled Clementine over and went to Susanne's Twelfth Night reading at CKP's house. I drew Sir Toby Belch from the hat and had a lovely time being a drunken fool all night. We picked up Athena at 9, and she was still up. So, predictably, she crashed out hard and slept til 9:30 in the morning. She's taking after my sleep patterns for sure - unable or unwilling to sleep with there's something interesting going on, and sleeping late to make up for it. I can live with that. I know a lot of other parents who really wish that was an option. 

Erik's mom bought plane tickets to come back in a month. Can't wait! Athena loves calling Grandpa and Meme on Skype. She will cheerfully play in front of them for at least a half hour, feeding Meme tea through the screen and offering her food and showing her how well she rides her rocking horse. Hopefully it will be pouring down rain when she arrives so that Athena can show off her ladybug rain coat, boots, and umbrella!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Almost Two (23 Months)

What a lovely month it's been. We didn't do Dickens, and mostly didn't miss it overmuch. We did enjoy sleeping in a lot, snuggles in bed, and a fabulous Winter Closure/Holiday Break.

We went on a family outing to Target at Westgate to get some Christmas lights for the house. There's a sort of aging mall attached. While Erik dithered over the various options, Athena pointed to the carousel and wanted to ride it. Previously, this has been sitting for a moment, then crying piteously when it starts to turn. Well, she keeps growing up, and while I thought this would be a brief sojourn, I ended up dropping $3 in quarters into the carousel, and each time it stopped, she'd tap her hands together and say, "More? Again?" There were three horses on the carousel, so my $3 was a share of several other parents' rides as well.

We even met another little girl named Athena. She wanted to ride the carousel, but her mom didn't have change. I encouraged her to jump on. She did and rode several times til we both declared we were out of quarters. Athena went off to play in the play area, and we tried to sneak past the carousel on the way out, but Athena and her mom came back and begged to let her ride again. There's also an Orange Julius right next to the carousel, so I split one with Erik. I let Athena have a sip and she loved it. We checked out of Target and headed home.

In addition to our Christmas lights, I saw a cute lighted tinsel flamingo, complete with scarf, at Target. For some reason this amused me a lot. I looked it up online again later. Cute, inexpensive, and something about the scarf just made me smile every time. I came home one night from a long night at the office and Erik and Athena had gone back to Target and bought him and plugged him in at the front door. Athena said, "Mingo!" And she said, "Mingo!" every time we came home all month. So, Mingo the Flamingo sits as our doorway guardian, next to the snowman sign that says "Winter Welcome."

On Saturday the 7th, we had Christyn, Brian, and Christy over for waffles, and then we all headed up Highway 17 to Racoon Gulch for a Christmas tree. Greeted at the gate by Jeannie's dad, we tromped around the lower lot first, and then found two lovely trees in the upper section. We chopped ours down while Christyn and Brian got the full tour from Steve. Then they picked a tree and we started to load both on Brian's car. Then their tree started hissing. A lot. Turns out there was a little bat in the tree. Steve ran inside and got a large jar and a nice piece of bark and coaxed the bat onto the bark. We all then stood close and admired it. Athena said, "Bat!" I wish we'd taken a photo of him. He was so pretty. We'd clearly woken him up and he was grumpy. Steve made him a little house where he stayed for a day, then went on his way. We came back, put Athena down for her nap, ordered a heap of Chinese food from the corner, then settled in for a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill. The game is basically Cabin in the Woods as a board game - look around the house til you sort of accidentally stumble on one of 50 scenarios. I rather enjoyed myself as an alien invader who either killed or harvested all the other players. Sadly, an oddness of the game mechanic let me kill my husband almost immediately, knocking him out of the game, which is always a bit of a bummer. Anyway, I suspect not all 50 scenarios have been thoroughly playtested for issues, but it's definitely an interesting game. When Athena got up, we hit the hot tub and played a bit. Christyn and Brian stuck around for another round where the good guys won, but Erik still died early on. Oh well. Not his favorite game...

On the third weekend of Dickens, we made it back for the Twilight ticket - $13 from 4-7 p.m.  On the first weekend, Athena had looked longingly at the lion and the elephant on the carousel, but I figured she'd just cry. This time, I figured we should try it. We watched the group before and I asked her if she wanted to ride the lion or the elephant. She decided on the elephant and we got on. I thought maybe the ride would be too long, but she loved it. Around and around and the only tears came at the end when it was time to get off.

We also got a few dances at Fezziwigs, and another pair of peanut butter cups from Paul's booth. We danced to a jig that Casey was playing on the country dance stage and got to catch up a bit with Jennifer. We closed the day with a Sir Roger de Coverley (all three of us, passing Athena back and forth) and headed to soup night at the Lunds. Soup night is my absolute favorite holiday party. Several pots of soup and the singular hospitality of Carolyn and Erik and it really is a magical evening around their large dining table.

The following day, Erik had his Supers game, so I went out with Clementine and Nicole at Happy Hollow for a bit in the morning. It was soooo cold though that both girls got pretty cranky fairly quickly. We came home for a nap and Athena was out solid. Later, I decided to take Athena shopping again. We wanted through Target completely haphazardly, making it through the checkout four times. One time it was for a stuffed monkey - a Carter's Just One You bean bag monkey. Athena and monkey have been inseparable ever since. Monkey goes everywhere with us. (After searching five Targets for a spare monkey, I finally broke down and bought one on eBay last night.) We also rode the carousel again and went shoe shopping. I had a coupon for 20% off at Payless, so I thought I'd go looking for some brown boots for her. The boot selection was disappointing, but I let Athena try on a pair of red sparkly shoes. She set her favorite black boots aside and marched out of the store. I called her back to pay for them. She didn't really get it, but eventually came back because I let her swipe my credit card. (Have I mentioned how doomed we are? She LOVES using card readers while shopping. Yeah...) The red shoes were her new favorite. Then it was back to the carousel with her new shoes. Honestly, it was an awesome day.

Athena is eating more. Trader Joe's seems to sample things she likes. First it was gingerbread. Then it was vegetable biryani. Then it was mozarella sticks. She's become a waffle maniac, thanks to TJ's pancake and biscuit mix. For three weeks in a row we'd have waffles once a weekend, and freeze the excess for waffles on the way to school each morning. We can actually get her to try a lot of things by calling it either a waffle or pizza. She also ate some of our burritos, fish at dim sum, Mexican rice, and a quarter of my fish sandwich. She'll also eat as much mango yogurt as we'll let her. The silliest was one day when she wanted to trade off bites with Erik. I was in the back dealing with an issue from work. She'd have her bite, say "Daddy's turn!" then run down the hall to the bedroom, giggling. Erik would yell, "Athena's turn!" and she'd race back. I really honestly had trouble not giggling. Luckily, Mark Mellis has three kids and totally understands. She's also decided bananas are okay. She at one and a half bananas this morning. She can hold the peel and not get messy, and eat the banana. This really is the root of our food issues. She hate being sticky and dirty. We have recently convinced her it's okay to lick her finger clean when food gets on it. This is a weirdly big achievement. Previously, it was tears until we could get her a napkin and fix it.

I actually took a couple of extra days off work before Winter Closure because things were winding down and my time was more valuable as time to get things done with Athena in daycare. We spent Thursday cleaning house and prepping for dinner with John, Rebecca, Penelope, Carolyn, and Erik. A big pot roast, roasted veggies and crusty bread made a tasty feast after our trip to the Tech Museum to see the Star Wars exhibit. It was a traveling show that has seen some wear before its last stop in San Jose, but the costumes and models were great and the videos with the creators were fun. Then Penelope dove into dinner with an abandon that Athena has never exhibited. She at carrots and potatoes and parsnips and squash like a champ and even enjoyed beef. Athena had a waffle and a cup of yogurt.

There was cleaning and organizing and last minute gift shopping and last minute decisions about Christmas morning. My mom was sad that we were considering driving home. The trouble is, sleeping elsewhere with Athena these days requires a near perfect recreation of her room in whatever space she's in. This means bringing her orange pillow, her monkey, her blanket, her soundspa, her jammies, her sleepsack... and then usually something we didn't think of. Sure enough, she woke up twice before 2 a.m., and there was no rocking chair to get her back to sleep. Poor little bug is a creature of habit right now. She enjoyed reading in the morning with grandma though.

My grandparents are not doing especially well. My grandfather broke his arm earlier this year, and recovery has been slow with many bumps. My grandmother has been trying to take care of him and running herself down in the process. My mom and Mark spent months spending nights over at their house, and they've got some paid help now, but not every night, so Mom and Mark are still over there at least one night a week. They've got an ideal home for aging in place, with not so much as one single stair, but I think this has all overtaken them so suddenly that they are not quite sure how to deal with it. They really do need daily assistance at this point, so it's sort of down to hiring a live-in caregiver or going to a nursing home, but they're not ready for either option. It's a pity, but they've had such good health for so long that it's quite an adjustment for them. A year ago, my grandpa was still happily driving everywhere, so the steep decline of his independence is a rough trail to travel.

We headed home from Sacramento to have dinner and hot tubbing with the Lendvays on Christmas night. Athena made an amazing Lamb Mansaf with turmeric rice and brownies with fresh raspberry coulis. Ohhhhh so good! Then we headed out to the tub and splashed and played til the kids were exhausted. It was the perfect conclusion to the Christmas holiday.
Merry Christmas from California!
Athena is a child that shall not want for much. For Christmas, she got a ton of stuff.
She got a mini-stove from Mrs. Lendvay for Christmas. It has light-up burners and makes noise. She's been "cooking" her pizza in it a lot lately.

She got a wooden train set from Rachel for Christmas with lots of cars. She got a tea set from my mom at Christmas and we have tea parties a lot.

She got a subscription to Babybug from Erik's mom for Christmas. That will mean a new book/magazine every month, plus there's an iPad app. She also got her an adorable ladybug rain set.

She got a LeapReader Junior from Aunt D at Christmas and Minnie's Bow-nanza as the book. She loves it. I got her a baby doll set for Christmas (Cabbage Patch) that came with a stroller. She loves pushing monkey around in the stroller. The baby doll mostly goes night-night in the bed that came with the set.

My dad's next door neighbor got her a purse with a fake phone, fake lipstick, and wallet with fake debit card. She loves it.

With Christmas behind us. we got to do other things. Athena was home from daycare until January 2nd, so this meant a lot of mornings spent lounging in bed with books, and doing other Athena-centered fun things. We had dim sum with T & Danielle and the Los. We had a soup night of our own with a dozen south bay folks. We had long walks as Athena pushed her new baby buggy with monkey. We left Athena with Christy for a few hours so that we could go with Mrs. Lendvay to see Thor 2, and then we all retired to Aqui for dinner. We spent one afternoon cleaning out all the stuff we had in the garage that needed to go to Goodwill/Savers. We spent another 30 minutes after that browsing Savers and I found a fabulous asymmetrical cardigan for $5 in a lovely teal. 

Comcast messed up our bill AGAIN this month, and then service started getting really flaky over winter closure, being consistently down around 9 a.m. each day. We called and they told us our modem was not supported. Um, okay, so we bought a new one. This did not miraculously fix the problem. (We're taking it back...) Then they said it was the splitter. I picked up a new splitter. This did not miraculously fix the problem. Then they made an appointment to come out on Friday from 8-10 a.m. At 9:30, no one had called or shown up, so I started getting uneasy and asked Erik to call. They said they'd called and we didn't answer, so they didn't show up. We said, um, no, been here the whole time. When are you showing up? They said Erik wasn't authorized to make an appointment. Erik said they really didn't want to talk to me because the next time I had to talk to them, it would be to cancel service. The guy insisted while I was changing the baby's diaper, and I authorized Erik again, and then the idiot kept wanting to ask me questions. Erik took the phone back before I could tell them to go to hell. After several more conversations, they said they'd call back after noon to let us know when someone could come out. At 1:40, they called and said the tech was at our house, but since we weren't there we missed our appointment. We said we didn't have an appointment because you were supposed to call us back after noon to let us know when our appointment was. We begged the tech to stay while we sped home. Several exchanges later, the tech drove away before we made it home. That's pretty much when I lost it. Seething, screaming rage. We had been planning to go see a movie, but we missed the morning showing because we were on the phone with Comcast. We missed the next showing because we were racing home to try to meet the Comcast guy. We were working elsewhere in the interim because we had no internet at home. By the time it rolled around to 2:20, we jumped in the car to go see Frozen. They couldn't have our entire day. We hit the 2:25 showing just as the last Preview rolled and got great seats with a comfy footrest. Idina Menzel still rocks my socks off. Kristen Bell was adorably Kristen Bell (so looking forward to Veronica Mars!!!) and Olaf is likely to become a fixture in our house next year if Athena's current appreciation for snowmen is sustained at all. They finally came out on Sunday and determined that the line from the pole likely needs to be replaced. Erik handled that while I went to get a pedicure with Christyn. We are also looking into Sonic for internet and a digital antenna. 

Athena is going to be terribly disappointed with the world soon. Her favorite part of Christmas has been all the outdoor decorations and lights. She rides down the street on the way home from school and says, "Pretty lights!" punctuated occasionally with "Snowman!" She really loves singing Frosty the Snowman.

We got to see Book of Mormon on January 2nd. Athena stayed with the Lendvays. Just before showtime, we got a text of bedtime stories. It was the cutest thing ever.

She can sing her ABCs all by herself now, count to ten consistently, and count to 20 with a little help. She knows all of her colors and loves scribbling in a coloring book. She loves reading books and singing songs and is generally just a ridiculously normal little girl. She's also very sensitive to others emotions. When reading Giraffe's Can't Dance, she usually needs to hug monkey or Mickey Mouse when Gerald is so sad and so alone. When we left dim sum the other day, she gave Connor a hug and a kiss. I thought Wendy might just melt into a puddle from the cute. She knows Connor's house and Lorelei's house and is always excited to go visit them. At school, when she arrives, Libby, Naryan, and Clementine usually jump up and scream and run toward her. On her first day back after the holiday break, she immediately jumped down and gave Clementine a hug. She loves Skype time with Meme and Grandpa, and will play just so that they can see her playing, but sometimes when it's time to Meme to go, she actually starts crying. She loves her Meme and Grandpa so very much. When Kev and I were playing Ms. Pacman last week, she got really sad when Ms. Pacman got caught by the ghost and died. Kev was pretty surprised that she understood the narrative that much. 

Anyway, sorry for the delays! Happy holidays to all!