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Friday, October 31, 2014

Y'arr!

The pirate family rides again!
Y'arr! Avast ye scurvy dogs!
Two years ago we were momentarily internet-famous for my BoingBoing post with this picture. 


Looks like I gained the pudge that Athena has lost. C'est la vie. 


Happy Halloween! (33 Months)

October is my favorite month of the year. I love Halloween, and I love the changing of the season into fall, and it usually includes the first rain. All these things combine to totally overwhelm the nuisance that is pumpkin-flavored everything.

We started the month with a trip to Disneyland for Mickey's Halloween Treat. It was another wild weekend trip to Disneyland, this time with a special event Friday night. The biggest catch was that the weather missed the "it's fall" memo and it was over 100 degrees. But we did okay. We totally failed to take pictures of us in our family pirate costumes at the Mickey's Treat event, but it was indeed super cute. In fact, I seem to routinely take pictures at Disneyland while Athena is on the carousel. This is largely because there's a waiting period where the ride gets loaded, then you wait while they check everyone. That gives me time to get out a phone and entertain Athena by taking photos. So, lots of carousel photos.


Wheeeeeeee!

Princess Anna

Pirate girl!
But we did lots of other things besides the carousel this time. Athena discovered the Little Mermaid ride and we rode it about 6 times on Friday. Friday night was Mickey's Halloween Treat which meant somewhat reduced crowds (though not nearly as good as last year). Erik went on Nemo's Undersea Voyage with Athena while I hit Space Mountain with Kevin and Rachel. The line was far shorter than any other time during the weekend, so that was great. Athena knows these characters now, so she got a huge kick out of those.

She still loves the flying elephants. 

She didn't enjoy Midway Madness at all. And we rode Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, which she mostly liked, but then bonked her head on the exit gate as we walked out and gave herself a big forehead bruise, so that wasn't fun anymore. 

We tried a new hotel - the Stovall's Best Western. I like it! It's on the Disneyland Hotel side of the park on Katella, so it's a bit of a hike, but if you take the monorail in, it's sweet. It also gave us a chance to pop into Trader Sam's. It's not as nice as the HoJo, but it's nicer than most of the rest on Harbor, and less expensive, so that was a nice thing to learn. 

It's funny though, she really does adore Disneyland. I told her we were going, so on Thursday morning she woke up extra early and said, "I'm ready to go to Disneyland!" But we had to wait for Erik's class to end at 2:30 so that was inconvenient. I picked her up from school just before 1 so that she wouldn't have her nap with everyone else. Instead, we ran errands at Target and picked up burritos for the road. She was just getting really sleepy when we pulled into DeAnza to pick up daddy. I told her that yes, we were finally going to Disneyland, and she almost immediately passed out. She took a solid nap all the way past Lost Hills. When had a rest stop at Tejon Ranch and she hopped right back in the car saying, "Let's go!" Sadly, we hit Anaheim just after the park closed, so we had to wait til the morning. Otherwise, I would've totally run her in for one or two rides before bedtime. 

The flipside to that though is that on Monday on our way to school she said, "I don't want to go to school. I want to go to Disneyland." Then she said it on Tuesday. And Wednesday. All I could think was, "I know baby girl. Me too." 

The following weekend we planned to go back to Santa Cruz with John and Becky to celebrate our anniversary. Santa Cruz is almost as much fun for her as Disneyland. 
Truckin!

Flying dragon all by myself!

The whale ride is still the best.

Red baroness!

Driving in my buggy.
Boats Boats Boats!
We took a break midday and headed to downtown Santa Cruz. It was a nice walk. John wanted to hit Bookshop Santa Cruz. I picked up a copy of Fortunately, The Milk and the first book of a new Jasper Fforde YA series called the Chronicles of Kazam. We grabbed a burrito and headed back towards the Boardwalk where both tiny humans passed out in their strollers en route. This let both couples have a turn on the log ride. We paced with the girls while John and Becky went, then they did the same. Teamwork! They went again, and Athena woke up and wanted more whale time. Whales, dragons, and truck convoy ridden, we were done and Penelope was just waking up. They took a turn on the carousel and then we all headed back over the hill for dinner at Aqui.


The other thing we discovered at Bookshop Santa Cruz was that Neil Patrick Harris was coming to town to be in conversation with his husband, David Burtka. Now, interviewed by Terry Gross for Fresh Air is cool, but on stage with your husband? That's special. You can tease and tell in-jokes and see how they are with each other. Unfortunately it was on a day that Erik's class ran til 5:45 and the show was at 7 in Santa Cruz. He pushed me to go ahead and go, and I'd mentioned it to Christyn, so she and I headed over the hill and had a great time. How do they interact? Playfully. Lovingly. Like two people who really love each other and who are totally raising two kids. I can't wait to dive into the new book. Plus, mine is signed!

Wait, what? you say. Yes, Neil wrote an autobiography in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure. Here's the YouTube trailer. Trust me, it's totally worth three minutes of your day:


Officially our anniversary was Friday, October 10th. Christy emailed a few weeks before and said, "Your anniversary is this date, so unless you object, I'm babysitting." Don't argue, just go out. So we went for hamachi shots and cocktails at Alexander's followed by air hockey at Bowlmor.

I won 3 games to 2. Woohoo! I do so love that Erik makes me bring my game to air hockey though. Could I have married someone I could always beat at air hockey? Hmmm... probably not. 

The day before our anniversary, Tesla had it's big media event in Hawthorn. Folks are all manner of jazzed about the dual-motor drive going 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, but the auto-pilot segment is what wows me. It reads speed limit signs, it keeps you in the lane, it changes lanes for you, and it comes to a stop if traffic stops in front of you. I'm in love. See it here:
So we make some pretty cool cars here at Tesla. Also, I had a meeting with my manager this week up on the hill. This is one of the hills on Stanford land, so beautiful oak tree, rolling hills, horses, and all. But best yet is that I'm sitting there looking up stuff on my computer because there's wi-fi on the hill. You know you're living in the future when your meeting room is the great outdoors. 

How all meetings should look.
We went to the NASA Ames 75th anniversary, but oh what a total disaster! They should've invited that many folks over 2 days instead of 1. As it was, traffic was gridlock and it took us 3 hours to get inside, only to walk back to the Supercomputing building where Athena colored a rocket man, then we saw the Mars Rover, then she started hitting naptime, so we hiked the hour and a half back to the car and she woke up a few minutes later. Total disaster. As we were leaving, friends said, "Heading to the food trucks!" I texted back, "Heading to Aqui!" At that point after all that stress, there was not a large enough cocktail in the world. They could've easily spread the event over 2 days to increase capacity, but everything had crazy lines and you couldn't see the information while pushing a stroller because folks would just cut in front of you. They could've worked with the nearby business parks to borrow parking for the weekend, but instead, several (Symantec!) had guards making sure no one used the lot. We tried to use public transit, but the web sites were so confusing that I couldn't make out which stations were likely to have parking, save for the Mountain View station where a shuttle left from. But the line for the shuttle was daunting, so we opted to try to find another option. We parked at Ellis and Middlefield and started hiking in the 2 miles to that gate/shuttle. We were told once there that to walk in, you had to go to the Moffett gate, another 4 miles away, or we could wait the 90-120 minutes for a shuttle. We started walking to Moffett, but I realized this was going to be a hell of a walk back to the car, likely with a grumpy toddler, so I went to seek alternatives. Just as I got back to the car, we heard from Christyn that they were allowing people to walk through at the Ellis gate now. That's when I just sat in the car with my head on the steering wheel for a few minutes. I walked up to the light rail station, but the train had just gone through and they were only running twice an hour. I walked back to the car and reparked in the Google lot, taking my chances, and walked in the Ellis gate to the farthest point possible away and finally caught up to Erik and Athena for the coloring and the Mars Rover. Anyway, total total disaster. Total waste of time. 

The following day, Erik had his monthly RPG with T & Danielle, which was a great chance to catch up with them after the kidney swap. He came home with a big bag full of yummy carnitas and chicken because since they both only have one kidney now, they have to be on a somewhat reduced protein diet. And that's why it's awfully convenient to have your wife donate a kidney to you: it puts you both on the same diet restrictions! Meanwhile, I took Athena to see Disney on Ice with Lorelei and Athena Lendvay. Through the joys of ordering by phone (never again, Ticketmaster!), my tickets weren't sent to me, but to Manny Woodbury. And when I realized this after 8 p.m. on Saturday night, I couldn't do anything about it for a show that was at 11 a.m. the next day. So, I called at 9 when they opened, got it corrected, and waited for the tickets to arrive by email. But they didn't. They were sent to another wrong email address, disregarding my careful spelling. Then Ticketmaster hung up on me. Then Erik called back because the next person I talked to was going to die. He got the tickets switched to will call. We parked in the lot immediately behind the SAP center because walking with toddlers is hard, but it turned out the will call was on the polar opposite side of the place. When she said that I must've looked like I was going to cry, because she said, "Let me get you and escort to take you through the building." We did, and I dropped Athena's waffle on the way, down the stairs and out. Tickets were acquired and it was back up to where we started. Ah well. Disney on Ice was weird. It was 4 different stories - Cars, Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, and Toy Story 3, complete with children destroying the toys, the incinerator, and all. It was an odd choice. Athena loved the Cars, Mermaid, and Tinkerbell segments though. 

After that weekend, Erik said he really wanted a weekend at home with little planned. That was all well and good, and I agreed right up til about 5:30 on Saturday night. It was Gaskells. It was the second-to-last Gaskell Ball at the Scottish Rite Temple. Fred posted about meeting Malaya there and how they were headed up. I got a bit wistful and posted a comment saying I wished I could go with them. About an hour later I caved and confessed to Erik. He was coming down with the cold I'd come down with the prior Saturday, so didn't want to go, but said he backed me going on my own. Then Fred texted and asked if I wanted to carpool. I said, "Likely yes. When are you leaving?" and then set about trying to find something to wear. The answer was, "Pretty much now." I had an old French Maid costume in hand, and found it could zip up. Then I found the apron. Then I put my hair up. Then I did a little makeup. Then I ironed the apron as Fred and Malaya arrived. We all piled in my car and hit the road.
It zipped!

Yay dancing!

The most beautiful dance floor.
So there I was, in my favorite place to dance with most of my favorite dance partners, and certainly more than I could dance with in one night, and it felt like home. Gaskells is my favorite. It's the first thing I heard about when I came to Berkeley and it led to my first really big foray into Victorian costuming with a beautiful ballgown I helped my grandmother make. It led me to Dickens Fair a year later in 1995 and it's so much a part of my life. I remember when it cost $10 and sometimes had over 700 guests. Nowadays it's a more modest 250, but it's still the most gorgeous ball I know of and the thing most likely to take the breath away from people the first time they go. I will miss it dearly.
Today is Halloween. We took Athena for practice trick-or-treating at the mall last weekend and she loved it. She has the full routine down, and it's a treat to watch people melt with this tiny person says "Thank you!" for the treat. I asked her if she wanted to go trick-or-treating Friday with Lorelei and she said, "Yeah! Can we go now?" That's my girl.