Last year we tried starting a tradition and went to a tree farm in Sebastapol, about an hour away. Apple cider, hay rides, piny rides, the while nine yards.
This year, we decided to go with a different tradition- doing it the easy way. There's a Boy Scouts tree lot about 5 mins away, and we bought the first tree the kid showed us. We rooted around a little bit for the kids' tree, but we were in and out in record time- probably 30 mins! I like this tradition.
Everyone says that little boys are more physically hyper than little girls. We had a pretty active one with Huelan, so I thought a boy probably wouldn't, couldn't be much more rambunctious than her. I was wrong. The boy is just wired differntly. He is into everything, and he's kind of a brute, so he tears everything to pieces. Climbs a stool to get to a chair to get to a counter where he can grab something and shake it. You can see in his eyes that needs to be working on getting something out of reach. Gotta love the motor, but we need a safe, constructive release, and we found one, at least for a few minutes- improving his vertical.
He's counting to three in Vietnamese- something I do with him each time I flip him around or toss him up.
Seriously, feel like I look away for a second and I've got five vids to post and hundreds of pics. I haven't even posted Halloween pics!
Well let's tackle these one at a time:
Halloween was a super blast this year. At nearly five years old, this is the first time that Huelan has been so excited about a holiday. She's talked about it for months, musing about costumes and practicing her trick or treat schpeel, and going through the Oriental Trading Company catalogs circling everyone's favorite candies. The thing was in tatters, all dog eared and marked up like a manic's .
Of course it was all about the candy. We stayed in the neighborhood this year- Grandma and Papa even came from SF- the first time in over 40 years they didn't great trick or treaters on 8th Ave! Unfortunately, we didn't get many kids coming around our house this year- the older ones were at parties and there aren't many young families- just us and one other family.
But that didn't dampen Huelan's spirits at all. In fact, I think she sensed that the small number of competitors was in her favor. Neighbors figured out that not many kids were coming, so they dished out swollen handfuls of candy at almost every house. Some double handfuls. She harvested two buckets of sweets from 30 mins of work.
This year we tried something new- The Switch Witch. We asked Huelan to wrote a list of toys, as if Santa was coming, and leave it for the Switch Witch. "If you leave her enough candy, maybe she'll bring you a gift from your list!" Well, she was skeptical to say the least. We could see the wheels grinding in her sugar-addled brain. She had a contemplative, crooked smile on her face as she literally weighed her options. Transfer a few pieces of candy to the Switch Witch bucket as shift it around a little bit to see if it looked like enough. Or too much. We finally got her to fill a bucket full with candy, and we could see that she was not confident about this working out in her favor. This was perfectly good, freshly earned candy she was parting with, and she had not a drop of faith in this Switch Witch.
Well, the Switch Witch came through, with adorable results:
Later she told me secretively, "I still have a lot of candy left." That she does.
This was also the first year that I couldn't talk her into letting me make her costume. I was kind of sad, but also kind of lazy and found a $17 costume on Amazon, so it worked out okay. At least I got to make Vansen's vest.
We spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend, taking advantage of some outstanding outdoor conditions. The autumn weather this week has been near perfect- a slightly crisp air balanced perfectly with warm, orange-tinted sunlight. It's so nice, in fact, that after a few small showers the week before, we saw a number of plants on our hike shooting up tender green new sprouts. Go figure.
The end of the Joaquin Miller loop
Brightening up the deck with some new plants
Stowe Lake paddle boats
A little something for the ducks
Weekend mornings = both kids piling into our bed
Dropping Huelan off at Grandma's for her sleepover. Stowe Lake, sandwiches at Roxy, JP Murphy playground = Gorgeous Sunset afternoon.
Huelan is staying tonight and possibly tomorrow night with Grandma and Papa, just for kicks. We're hitting the sack before 10:15. Everybody wins.
This is a couple of weeks late (and we miss her already)! It had been almost three months since Ba Noi's last visit, so we had a lot to catch up on, but it was a great little visit. Huelan and Vansen both immediately took to Ba Noi and barely left her side the entire weekend.
We had a couple of other visitors, too. Mark and Rene stayed the weekend and checked out the Folsom Street Fair- they came in Saturday morning. And coincidentally, Cheryl was in town doing some work stuff on Friday. A couple of phone calls later, she had her flight changed and her new BF Teague on a plane to SF to meet us. Really nothing like getting old, old friends together over some tasty food.
It's mind-boggling to reflect on how long we've known each other- early elementary school was a looong time ago. And though we're no longer in touch everyday, there's an almost tangible bond formed with people with whom you've shared childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and whatever comes after that. Other than your family, who actually probably know less about your antics than your good friends, these are the people who really know you. Gosh we're blessed with good friends.
At about the same age, Huelan and Vansen both acquired a fascination with belly buttons. When Huelan was about 15 months old, she would constantly bare her belly and point to her own bellybutton, as well as demand the same of others, even in the most inappropriate places.
Vansen is a little less demanding with his belly button mania, though slightly more specific. He prefers the pink belly and the raspberrry.
They're probably more similar than different. They both are very cuddly and like to play with dolls. One obvious difference we've noticed is that the boy is definitle a climber. Up the stairs every chance he gets. Pushing boxes and stools around the house to use as boosters. As seen above, they both enjoy a spot of evening tea, but he prefers to pour while standing on the table.
This is from a while back, but I had to reach back and include it. Liz and some of her girlfriends planned a food and wine retreat in Napa one weekend in late August- a beautiful time to be in wine country. So imagine five women, with eight kids between them. One of them a mother of young twins on her first weekend away from her boys. They are having a blast being chauffeured around, eating, and drinking at every stop, and documenting it all on Facebook. I couldn't resist counter-posting, letting them know that the dads were having a good time too.
Their relaxed weekend took a wild turn early Sunday morning though, in the form on the strongest earthquake in the bay area in the last 25 years, centered just 4 miles from their hotel. Napa is far enough from our house so that I was barely woken by the shakes. But in their hotel, they felt the full 6.1- drawers flying open, dishes on the floor, and car alarms blaring. And soon, moms screaming. They had no idea that they were on top of the epicenter, and that down here we barely felt it- in their minds, a 6.1 in Napa meant a 9.1 at home. So I was surprised to get a phone call at 3:30 am and even more surprised to hear an adrenaline-amped Liz on the other end. In my deep sleep, I didn't even realize that she wasn't in the bed next to me or that Huelan was spending the night at Uncle Anh's.
Thankfully, everyone ended up being just fine and Napa only saw mild property damage. But all that relaxing got shaken out of the girls, so they'll have to plan another weekend.
Learning to walk comes with the requisite tumbles. And if you're top heavy like this guy, you're going to get some knocks on your noggin. Sunday he took a header at Sam's, Monday he went face first into the concrete at the pool, finally Wednesday he took a spill in the bathroom and cut himself on the cabinet handle. All in the exact same spot, and this pic actually doesn't do it justice.
I still think that his sister wins the prize for best shiner though- this one from Oct, 2011: