Thursday, July 31, 2014


He's been watching us tend to the deck garden all spring and summer, so naturally as soon as we let him roam free on the deck he went to the watering can, put it up to the spigot, and tried to turn it on. 

He spills most of the water dragging the can to the pots, but he manages to have enough to get some into the soil. Drought be damned. 

He can pretty much stand in one place until he gets bored of standing, and I've heard reports of several un-assisted steps, but I have seen for myself anything that would qualify as walking. So far the interest just hasn't been there, partly because he's so quick and efficient with his crawl and tripod gait. But I think it's just a matter of days...

Thursday, July 17, 2014


From the stories I hear, Liz used to mercilessly tickle Tommy when they were young.  Then, unexpectedly, Tommy got bigger than Liz and the tables turned.

I suspect that we're seeing that begin to play out here.  Along with a little regression on Liz's part.

Lindsay Wildlife

There's a place in Walnut Creek that is part animal hospital, interactive learning center, and museum called the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.  They are the largest raptor hospital in the country, treating over 5000 injured birds a year.  Some of them are not able to be released back into the wild for various reasons, so they have a permanent home at the museum, where they regularly bathe and exercise  them.  The day they were there, they had out a couple of different kinds of hawks, turkey vultures, a great grey owl (that was huge and awesome) and barn owls (Huelan's favorite-their faces were snow-white and heart-shaped).  And she got to pet a gopher snake and a guinea pig.  My favorite was the live bee hive, which they had sandwiched in between two sheets of plexiglass with a tunnel that led to the outside.

I thought that she had a pretty good time.  She even caught a feather that was just floating through the air. But the next day she told me the museum was boring.

Friday, July 11, 2014


The kids have birthdays very close to six months apart- Huelan's is Dec 27 and Vansen's is July 3. Perhaps more significantly though, their birthdays are both very close to major holidays. The effect is that they both have birthday parties that last over a week long. 

Though we had a big blowout for Vansen the weekend before his birthday, this year, on his actual birthday, Vansen got to celebrate with a full-on street parade. We invited ourselves to celebrate with the Reichards in Benecia (the one time capitol of California!) where they have an old-timey 4th of July parade down Main St. (on July 3). 

Going to downtown Benecia is like stepping into 1954- the kitschy, Back to the Future parts (complete with a DeLorean!), not the bad segregation and McCarthyism parts.  There were community floats, classic cars, and a Boy Scouts color guard, but the highlight had to be Stella's preschool "float." Vivien pulled a wagon with three preschoolers in it, and when they came by our spot, they wrangled Huelan and Liz to join them. Not that it was difficult to get Huelan into the action- she sprinted into the thick of the parade, enthusiastically patriotic,waiving her mini-flag and grinning ear to ear. Huelan. In a parade. She was unstoppable.

When we caught up to Liz and Viv at the end of the route, however, everyone was wiped out. But a couple of corn dogs and masubis perked them up a bit. 

The next day, Independence Day proper, the Lee clan come to the house for some smoked tri tip. Laurie made some kind of deliciously magical berry trifle for dessert. And Vansen finally got his cake, and we got the obligatorily adorable frosting face photos. 

I recall that we were in a much more reflective mood when Huelan turned one; as we're finding with a lot of things, the second time around affords a little less time for reflection. Nevertheless, One is definitely a milestone, and as always, it feels like it's gone by super quickly.  Though that feeling is kind of confused with the sense that he's been with us for much longer than a year. All of a sudden he's one, but at the same time, it doesn't seem possible that just 12 months ago he wasn't part of our family. I guess it's all part of the weird warping of time and perception that happens as we grow older ourselves.  

Some pics from the long weekend: Pics here

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Party Time

Boy, kids like pinatas.  Though most of them couldn't put a solid swing on it, the few who managed to make solid contact did some damage.  Candy rained down multiple times, as the pinata fought hard to hang on to its contents through several different hackers, and every time it brought on a swarm of frenzied kids diving and jockeying to fill  their hands with the sweet, sweet loot.  And we only had one kid got grilled with the bat, so that's a success.

We celebrated Vansen's birthday a few days early, staking out a large spot at one of the local parks on a sunny Saturday.  We're of the opinion that good food & drink are crucial ingredients to a successful gathering, mainly because that's the best way to get the Ly Family & Friends to show up.  We did our best with trays of rotisserie chicken and a whole suckling pig, and you all certainly held up your end of the bargain.  It was great to see share Vansen's first birthday with so many people, and to have soooooo many of those people be little kids.  The littlest kid award goes to Finley, at just three weeks, though if the timing were slightly differently it may have gone to Boris/Natasha, the Zatulovsky baby, who was already tardy as of partytime.  Both mamas are champs!

Besides, who are we kidding?  A one-year old can't even appreciate his own party.  These parties are for the grownups, so that we can catch up with one another on a sunny day and enjoy some food and drink while the kids run around and wear themselves out.  Even if the conversation topics occasionally drift to potty training and pre-schools, getting in some grown up stories and laughs helps us strengthen our sometimes tenuous tether to the outside world.

Here are some pics from the party and the latter half of June, including Nhuanh's 30th (!) birthday at Lake Merritt and Vansen's first haircut.