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|
|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:
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!