We spent another long-weekend at our friends’ house at Lake Tahoe. There are really no words to describe how beautiful this place is! The kids had their usual fun in the sand, and this time they got to try paddle boarding. It was a first for all of us, and we were hooked! Harper was a natural, and within minutes was paddling all over the lake by herself. Ada and Roman preferred to sit on the board while an adult paddled them. We literally could not drag Harper off of her board – she stayed out there for hours. It was incredibly fun and relaxing for all of us! Big girl on her board: Roman’s turn:Eh, she’s alright I guess:
Yaya came out from VA in June to babysit the kids while Portman and I flew to DC. We were only gone for a few days, so we got to spend some time with her when we got back. Her visit coincided with the Sonoma County Fair, right here in Petaluma. We went on the spur-of-the-moment one evening and loved it! It’s nice and small, with something for everyone. We went out to the beach one day and discovered Shell Beach (in the Sonoma Coast State Park) for the first time. We LOVED it, and have since been back 5-6 times! We live about 40 minutes from the beach, and love having the option of heading out there whenever we feel like it. Roman is a starfish magnet and can always be counted on to find one! We got to Shell Beach at high tide and the kids started jumping off a big rock into the surf. This quickly escalated to jumping off it in their underwear. This big boy would absolutely not let me carry him to the car! He hiked the whole way back up the cliffs “by self.”
We celebrated the end of the school year by road-tripping down to Monterey for a long weekend. We bought annual passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and visited it probably 4 times over the weekend! The Aquarium was a huge hit for all of us. It has a ton of touch-tanks, really cool live shows, and just lots to see. Roman and Ada got to try wearing a scuba mask and a regulator and breathing underwater! Harper couldn’t stand the taste of the salt water on the regulator and wanted no part of it.
We spent lots of time at Lovers Point beach, where Harper and I (dubbed “the climbing crew” by Harper) scaled Lovers Point rocks and climbed all over the cliffs by the bay. Harper and I both love to climb! My beach babies had lots of fun in the sand. One of the things we all love about west coast beaches is that they have lots of nooks and crannies for sea creatures to hide in. There’s always something to climb on and we are constantly finding starfish, anemones and other sea life! We enjoyed downtown Monterey and the boardwalk area, where the kids did a street caricature. We had such a successful long-weekend, that we are stopping back in Monterey for the night during our Thanksgiving trip!
June in review… now that it’s mid-November!
We spent a morning playing with “bubble snakes.” This is one of the easiest things to make, and actually kept them entertained for quite some time.
This guy continued to grow by leaps and bounds and get cuter by the day: Ada and Patton cemented their status as the little terrors in the family, teaming up to drive the rest of us bat-sh*t crazy, but we keep them around because they make us smile from ear to ear: The big kids started a month-long theater program at our local community theater, Cinnabar Theater. It ended in a full production of Grease! staring 6-11 year olds. Harper played a Pink Lady, and Roman was a Burger Palace Boy! It was such a fantastic first theater experience for both of them, and they can’t wait for next summer’s production. While I can’t find any pictures of them at the theater, I did find a picture of a hot dog, popcorn and condiments that Roman made out of Legos: And this picture of Harper being sweet:
Roman earned his Orange Belt in Tae Kwondo. Next month he will be testing for his Green Belt. He takes it very seriously and has gotten really good! June’s highlights (earning their own posts due to too many photos!) were our trips to Lake Tahoe and Monterey, and Yaya’s visit which included the Sonoma County Fair and a beach day.
Over Mother’s Day weekend, I traveled to NYC…BY MYSELF… to spend the weekend with Yaya and Cammie and to pick out Cammie’s wedding dress! It was my first time travelling away from the kids by myself, EVER. I so badly needed it, and came back 3 days later super refreshed and appreciating them more than ever.
We had a great weekend picking out Cammie’s dress, dining on yummy food (which I got to enjoy in its entirety, not cutting it into small pieces or taking anyone potty mid-meal), strolling through Central Park and the Highline and even had time to see a Broadway show.
We busted out the inflatable pool on the patio. Woohoo summer!
Harper, Patton and I biked downtown to get her a new bike (gears and handbrakes!) and Lala’s: Patton and I had several coffee dates after dropping everyone off at school:We all went to the kids’ open house and art show at Grant School. Harper’s fish painting made it into the school calendar! Grandpa visited from NC, and we went to the pottery studio to celebrate Ada’s birthday (Ada asked for a trip to the pottery place in lieu of a gift from Grandpa).We also took Grandpa out to visit the garden at the French Laundry in Yountville, followed by a picnic at a winery in Napa. The kids got to help pick carrots at the French Laundry, which has simply the most stunning garden you will ever see! These two just nailed it. We had after-dinner cones at our neighborhood park: And after-cones bath snuggles in “mommy’s big bath:”We discovered that the only fruit Patton will eat is watermelon:And we briefly misplaced Ada, only to find her asleep on the floor of my closet with the door shut!
We have really embraced the hiking and camping opportunities that literally surround us here in Northern CA. The kids have become great hikers, and it’s something we really enjoy doing as a family. On this particular Sunday morning in April, we set out to hike to the East Peak of Mt. Tam, which is the very highest point on the mountain. At the top there is a fire lookout station, and the big kids thought the whole concept of a “spy station for fires” was really cool!
Luckily you can drive pretty close to the peak, so the hike was short and sweet, although not the easiest trail. The big kids love some good rock climbing, so they were psyched to do some hand-over-hand climbing work on the trail. Ada was not being a morning person and quickly found her way into my carrier!
View from the parking lot. It was a foggy morning, as it often is early in the morning, but you can see San Fran way in the background! This is one of my favorite photos of them of all time: Minutes before Ada decided she was done hiking:My big-kid climbers. It is so fun being able to do big-kid stuff with these two!
Daddy and boy checking out the views: My two comedians posing at the door of the “spy station.” View from the top:Ada in her chariot:After the hike we decided to check out Muir Woods since we were heading down the mountain in that direction. We’ve avoided it up to this point because (1) I’ve already been, (2) we’ve been to Armstrong to see the redwood trees half a dozen times, and (3) it always seems so crowded. We should have just skipped it because it was pretty disappointing for all of us. The best way to describe it would be “Disney for trees.” They’ve constructed a wooden walkway through the entire forest that you have to stay on, so there is no opportunity for the kids to explore. You can see how it could be beautiful, but it’s so crowded and touristy that it is just ruined! The kids were bummed that they couldn’t “explore anything,” and our takeaway was that Armstrong and some of the more untouched redwood forests are just a thousand times nicer.
This summer we are headed up to Oregon for 10 days of exploring the outdoors. We are stopping at arguably the “best” redwood forest in NorCal, then moving onto Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge, Silver Falls and Mt. Hood. We’ve been planning this trip for months and we just can’t wait!
Easter itself was pretty low-key since we were really celebrating Ada’s birthday. Earlier that week the big kids and I dyed eggs after Patton went to sleep. After dying the eggs, Ada and Roman immediately ate about a dozen of them!
The Easter Bunny visited and left some bunny tracks along with lots of fun stuff in their baskets. The most popular eggs were the ones with money in them! Yaya sent some really cool real egg shells that the kids had to smash in order to retrieve a note and even more money. The only candy they actually ate was the candy necklaces and the ring pops. Every year we scale back the candy, yet every year mommy still ends up eating most of it!
Our little Ada (yes, we still call her “Little Ada”) turned FOUR in April! At 4 she is just as feisty as she was the day she was born, but over the past year has become such a pleasure to be around. I just cannot express how wonderful this girl is right now! She is happy, spirited, helpful, positive, LISTENS to me, is funny and independent. She is truly our “favorite” right now!
We enrolled Ada in a year-round private Montessori school last August, and it has been the most positive experience for all of us. It fits Ada’s personality to a T, and at her most recent parent-teacher conference, her strict German teacher told me “Ada is a poster child for Montessori.” We knew this when she was 10 months old – it’s just the perfect environment for her. She goes full day (8:30-3:30) and is absolutely at her happiest on school days. I don’t know what this says about our home environment, but I’m so happy to keep paying the tuition! Her school has a beautiful outdoor playground, vegetable garden and learning area, and she spends much of the day outside. She takes a walking field trip at least twice a month to places like the library or most recently our county fair, and every few months they do a big field trip to a farm, museum, or farmer’s market.
At home Ada has become a helpful and independent big sister. Lately when I say “let’s get dressed and ready to go,” Ada is the first one to dress herself, brush her teeth by herself, and put on her shoes. I rarely have to ask her to do it twice. She has really grown into her role as a big sister, and loves to help and play with Patton. She stays so busy during the day with various “projects.” Yesterday she sat for about an hour stapling teeny-tiny pieces of paper together, then cutting meticulously around each staple. I have no idea what it was for, but she was perfectly happy to work on it for the longest time!
Ada is our most athletic kid by far. She can swim by herself, do the full monkey bars, twirl a hula-hoop, almost ride a bike, cruise on a scooter, you name it. And she’s always up for the next challenge. Her teachers say that if they put out a new activity at school, Ada is always the first to want to try it, and she will work at it until she gets it right. One of her favorite things this year was sewing, and she worked diligently on her little sewing squares until she had enough for a small quilt.
Ada’s birthday fell on Easter this year, so we had a long weekend to celebrate. On Saturday we took the kids on a surprise “birthday outing” for Ada in lieu of gifts. We took them to Fisherman’s Wharf for the first time and saw all of the street performers, the sea lions and lots of crazy SF people, then we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Dinner was such a hit that all of the kids have asked to go for their birthdays now!
Sea lions at Pier 39 and riding the carousel:
On Ada’s actual birthday, we went to our favorite winery with friends for a long Easter picnic. The kids ran themselves ragged, ate lots of cupcakes, and we left relaxed and dirty. It was a great day.
All the kids lined up for no apparent reason, so I snapped a photo: Cupcake time for the birthday girl! Boy hot and sweaty and enjoying some sugar: Daddy and Eric deep in to a game of paddle ball: Ada and Eva:
Later that week we hosted Ada’s birthday party at Pump it Up with her school friends. She insisted on having the exact same party as her big sister (whom she idolizes).
Roman is every parent’s dream child. He is so freaking easy 99% of the time and is just a joy. Yesterday, after a particularly crazy afternoon with the girls and Patton, during which Roman played Legos quietly in his room and periodically came down to show me something, we had this conversation, which Portman and I cannot stop laughing about.
Me: “I am so lucky to be your mom. Seriously, I am just so lucky that I got you!”
Roman (giggling): “Why?”
Me: “You are so sweet, you play nicely, you’re a good friend and a great brother, you’re funny and smart, you listen and follow directions, you entertain yourself, you are kind and thoughtful, you are just so easy and wonderful!”
Roman (gets a serious look on his face and is quiet for a moment): “Have you ever said that exact same sentence to Harper?”