Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy 3rd B-day, sweet J!

Little Miss J,

Where do we even begin?! You've got so much personality, it's easy to forget that you're just turning three. And every day, you develop more and more. It's happening so fast, it's hard to capture this amazing time, but we're going to take a shot at some of the highlights of who you are at this very moment.

+You're incredibly loving and give, objectively, the BEST hugs. It feels like a bite of the best, warm chocolate for our souls. You squeeze and press cheek-to-cheek and squeal, "You're the best, ever!" And we melt. (side note: when you figure out that this combo will get you your way 99% more often than a tantrum, it's going to be expensive for us).

+You're a great sister. Seeing you and E as best friends is an indescribable warm feeling that results  from you're "hug walks" to you playing babies together to you figuring out whether to watch Caillou (your favorite) or PJ Masks (his). There are squabbles, for sure, but that's also part of learning to be close to another human being and you both show every indication of being masters at relationships long before we were.

+You're helpful. Daddy wants to get a cleaning service, but don't think we will because you love to help scrub the toilet and fold laundry. And who is he to smack a gift horse in the mouth?

+You're likely going to be a superb athlete, if you want to be. At gymnastics, when they let you "wall stand" for as long as you could (basically, a handstand using your feet on the wall for balance), they had to tell you to stop after hitting 75 seconds -- and the next closest kid in the class tapped out at 60 seconds. Also, looks like you've got the potential to be a great dancer've got a budding love for it and natural inclination.

+You're a goofball. And it's hilarious.

+You're a natural with dogs. Seeing how excited you get to pet Bailey or hug him or give him a check up, shows another facet of your extremely loving nature. And, boy, does that dog love you back.

+You're probably going to be a project manager, like us. Case study: we went to the Morgan Hill YMCA toddler water slide area and you launched into, "I will go first. Then you will go with E, and then I will go with Nana. And then, you will go again, and...[continues for a good 15 combinations]." And the scariest, most telling part is that you remembered the order and would correct us if we strayed.

+You're considerate. It's so sweet when, at the dinner table every night, you ask us each in turn, "How was your day?" or when you're concerned when one of us is sick and say, "But who will take care of them?"

+Your're very articulate. Most people cannot believe how well you speak for your age and they're right. We'd like to pretend that this is because you have some super well-spoken family around you. In truth, it's more likely that you figured out early on that the better you can communicate your wants, the more frequently you get your way.

+You're determined. Extremely determined. This is a trait that we admire so much. As with all strong traits, at times it can be used for good (already able to put on your own shoes) or other times not-as-much (you're absolute, blanket refusal to eat any raw fruit). You really are the perfect little girl as long as we're all doing exactly what you want us to. The experts say that you're just supposed to let a temper tantrum fizzle out...those experts haven't met you when you don't want to get your jammies on.

Want to know what's the most amazing thing? That in the next year, you're only going to get more personality. For that reason, it's nearly impossible to imagine and equally as exciting to imagine our letter to you next year.

We love you so, so, so much, Sweet J.
Mommy & Daddy

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Space Mountain & Nuh-Thin!

Wow. SoOoOo...between the holidays, an action packed (and people-packed) trip to Disneyland, craziness at work, school, cold season, birthday parties, marathons, Aquarium visits, meeting our new cousin F, family events, dishes, laundry, and on and on, the last few months have felt like Space Mountain -- you get the sense of motion from the wind and the projected stars, but you have to trust the track is whole on the next turn.

I won't give the play-by-play as I sometimes do, since none of us have that amount of time. Instead, I'll let the pictures/slide show (click below) do a lot of the summary.

Some particular things that I'd like to remember from the last few months:

+ Seeing all those kids together when Lil 'F came to visit from Alaska, it was so fun to watch our kiddos be the big ones doting. And having all the family here for a busy Thanksgiving as well as the festivities of the lil' guy's baptism.

+ A really nice Christmas and New Year. Santa brought J the Bitty-Baby -- her first (of many?) American Girl dolls and E a big-boy bike. Also, E was a shepherd in the St. Justin Christmas Eve Mass and he was so cute it was hard not to squeeze him and make him miss the performance.

+ One of the most-packed and fun trips to Disneyland and our first (of hopefully many) with BeLinda. It was great despite the crowds. I especially loved taking E on Big Thunder Mountain, his first big-kid roller coaster. And a close second was experiencing all the magic that Disney brings now that J is old enough to comprehend it (last time she was just 1.5 and she doesn't really remember).

+ Work being one of the most trying and rewarding periods of my career so far.

+ Watching the kids run next to Lisa, cheering her on, as she completed the Big Sur Half Marathon -- her first big run since before having those same munchkins.

+ New Year's Day dinner at my folks house -- the holiday we always hosted growing up. It was our first here and the first without GG or Cody. Still it felt right -- felt like home.

I will tell you that the kids are growing up faster and faster. They're amazing...and so much fun (most of the time -- hey, no one is perfect). It's so great to have both sets of grandparents around and so involved in life. I seriously have no idea how anyone raises kids without an army of help.

As E rounds the final bend to turn 5, he's developing into a sweet, sensitive kiddo who loves to learn how things work, conduct 'ex-perry-ments' and already knows more about WWII planes than I do (and cars and trains and rockets and basically anything mechanical -- thanks to his Grandpas and Uncle). He's very into PJ Masks -- a group of elementary kids who "go into the night to save the day" by changing into superheros when they wear their jammies. One of my proudest daddy moments was when he explained that he was rooting for the Falcons in the 2017 Superbowl (which he was enthralled by) because of the Millennium Falcon.

We're currently in the process of selecting his kindergarten. It's so hard to believe the stress, pressure, and seriousness associated with the decision. If my parents had this sort of lamenting over wildly different options, it was transparent to me. In the end, I know he's going to be fine no matter where he "gets accepted" or winds up because he's got that army around to help -- but STILL you hear that you should try to keep it in perspective, but then you hear all these other parents discussing it and it's difficult to keep from wondering how much we'll screw him up if he goes to a school with a 7 rating or not enough emphasis on STEM or STEAM! Who knew this parenting thing would be so hard? (Ok, everyone that's ever been a parent ever).

A friend of mine has a term, "two-nager" and I think it describes J perfectly. She's striking out as an individual and I love seeing her do it...getting herself dressed, feeding Bailey all-by-herself, that sort of thing. It's wonderful...until it happens that her individualism and mine are out of sync. It's funny (retrospectively) to hear her decide that it's not time to get jammies on (even though it clearly is). "J, it's time to pick out your PJs. Which ones do you want?" Flops on floor. "I will wear Nuh-Thing. Nuh-Thing " Us: "Okay. Go to bed naked," Wails. "I will be SO CO-OLD" "Right. What jammies?" "Nuh-Thing! I will wear Nuh-Thing "...and on and on and on. While this can be painful in the moment, it's my hope that she's training us early on how to handle an actual teenager -- when the stakes are no more life/death than PJs. (those of you who've raised teenagers, please allow me my delusion).

The above really represents a small fraction of J. The rest of the time she's so sweet...always asking people how their day was, giving the best hugs, and helping pick up toys or clean the potties. She's obsessed with her doggy, loves ballet/gymnastics, and is drawn to medical stuff. The other day, I mentioned that I had to take Bailey to the vet and she jumped up and down, "I want to come! I want to!" As for shows & books, she loves all things Princess. As a basic rule of thumb: if it has a princess, J likes it. If not, out of luck. That's not entirely true. Minnie is in the same category. Though it's not all Rapunzel and Aurora, she was totally into Star Wars and Princess Leia is a current favorite.

Lisa and I are keeping our heads above water more days than we're not. I got to take a recent ski trip to Salt Lake City with a buddy that was so much fun. And Lisa is busy at work and that's prevented her from running quite as much as she did in the fall, but signing up for another couple events in the late summer/early autumn so she's excited about that.

Phew. I'd make promises about a shorter duration before the next blog post, but I'm coming to understand that I should avoid improbable promises. After all, you never know where the next bend or hill is coming on Space Mountain -- and that's why it's a classic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

War-Eld & Cruise Directing!

I hope everyone's October is going as well as...

Wait. What?

It's November? Mid-November?!

Ahhh, jeez. Well, not sure where all of October went, but the flashbacks (and the pictures -- see below) seem like we had a lot going on.

Some of the highlights were:

+We had a fantastic time at the St. Justin Sock Hop (it was a muggy night, we were in a school gym, and I was dancing = Lisa looked at me and all she could say was, "You look like you just came out of the shower and if you didn't, you need to.")

+Attending Light the Night, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at Avaya stadium, which included some amazing face painting, a really inspirational message, great friends, and a dozen kiddos rocking out way past their bed times.

+The Santa Clara Fire Department open house, where we got to sit in the fire trucks, spray the big hose, and get our own hats. Oh, I mean, the kids got to do all those things. Right. The kids.

+Nana & Papa's first annual Halloween Party -- which was perfect to host at the Lake Castle (along with their even more perfect costumes). The industrial smoke machine may have been a little over the top (since it couldn't be activated for more than 5 minutes without causing the smoke alarms to blaze). Though the food, company, and full-sized skeleton were right on!

+And, of course, Halloween itself and all the festivities that go with it. E was a firefighter this year (after all, we already had the fireman hat) -- along with a whole crew of boys in his class. Their parade and songs were so. dang. cute. Halloween night - I'm still unsure whether the kids liked the Trick-or-Treating more or answering the door for the kids visiting our house. J in particular liked to hold the bowl and say, "You can pick two pieces."

Speaking of our little cruise director J, she's so sweet and can be such a handful. Recently, Nana & I took the kids to the indoor splash garden in Morgan Hill (think of a park play structure in 1.5 feet of water). J loved it, though she definitely enjoyed directing us as much as the playtime. "First, Nana will go on the slide and then I will and then E. And, Daddy, you stay here until next time and then you will go and I will go together and..." She's so sweet and loving (unless you're doing something contrary to her plan).  Have I mentioned how much trouble we're in? I know because Lisa and I are both Project Managers and having two in the household is plenty -- adding in a third, especially with the sensibilities of a small child -- *shivers*

J is also really into her dolls, Mariana in particular (from Aunt Dasha). Mariana goes everywhere with us, often having to have her own seat at dinner, and J tucks her in before her own bedtime. J also got really into watching the election between "Donald and Harry [Hillary]" and wanted "Harry to win because he is a Duh-url [girl]." And that's as political as I'm going to get.

We had a lot of fun following the World Series, even without the Giants in it. E adopted the Cubbies as his team-of-choice and rooted them on. 

E's creativity and curiosity never cease to amaze me.  Nearly daily, he's coming up with ideas for projects, art, or contraptions he'd like to build. Sometimes his ambitions outreach his and our ability. For instance, he recently decided that we should build a "model war-eld [world]." It didn't have to be a full-sized war-eld, he explained, just as big as, maybe, our house. It did need to have a sky and an airplane big enough for him and J to fit in. Though he understood that we couldn't really make a functioning jet -- just something to pretend with. What would we make this war-eld from? "I dunno, maybe some old stuff in the garage." He finally compromised with constructing a lego city and watching an episode of MODERN MARVELS.

And with that, I'd better start working on the November post, because next thing, you're going to tell me it's January.