Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Welcome to my sadly neglected blog.
Samuel welcomes you also
Samuel signed up for pre-competitive swim team this fall.  Swimming is pretty serious around here (hey, they swim at the Janet Evans swim complex, if that tells you something!  She went to my high school, by the way, and we were on swim team together when I was little)  Anyway, I was worried he didn't know his strokes well enough, but he managed to figure them out quickly and worked hard.  He got to participate in a trial swim meet and did great.  

He was the only boy to sign up for the last event, the 500 meter freestyle.  Only a 13-year-old girl swam with him.  I was so nervous for him!  It is a distance that most adults can't complete (20 laps).  My sister gave him some advice over the phone before the event, and I think it got him through.  I was so proud of him when he finished! 

Our Australian friends moved away suddenly.  We got the privilege of spending the last 48 hours of their time here with them.  I had long been meaning to stop calling them "our Australian friends" but never got around to it.  Now it seems fine for me to do so, seeing as they really do live in Australia.  
 (Their real names are Rob and Natasha).

 Here's some Halloween pictures:

Annie, age 5, as Annie
Kaci, age 5, as Annie. Funny how the tree is taller and the bush is bushier in the older picture, when the house was only 5 years old.  My mom made both costumes, and both were worn in a year when "Annie" was playing in theaters.
Quite a few people mentioned how fitting each kid's costume was to his/her personality this year.  We're not sure what it was, but something just seemed so right about each one.  I never got over being surprised for a moment when people answered their doors while we were trick-or-treating and said, "Annie!" or "Hi, Annie."  Pretty much every time I thought, how do they know her?  How does everyone know my daughter? Takes me a little while to catch on, I guess.

I went to the kids' school for the obligatory class party volunteering.  There are always so many parents standing around on their cell phones helping, I always feel like I leave wondering why I came. 
At Evan's party, I just decided to log some Quality Time Love Tank Filling  minutes or credits or whatever.  I don't have that many kids and yet I feel the pressure of making sure I am spending equal one-on-one time with each kid.  So, I parked it right next to him and we played Bingo together and called it good. 
At Annie's party, I just followed her around, taking pictures because she was so cute.

Ooops!  Wardrobe malfunction on the swingset!
I actually helped in Sam's class party and it was actually super fun. I didn't take any pictures but my kid who is becoming a tweenager in so many ways seemed proud to have me there, so we'll call that good as well.

Oh, here's one I took at the parade.  Sam is in GATE (Gifted and Talented Education).  He is now friends with a lot of Asian boys. 
"Hey there, sonny!"
Evan, who was all like, "I don't know if I even want to dress up" was totally working it along the parade route.  That kid.
We had a lot of pumpkins between our students and us.  I made the sad Kansas City Royals guy (it was right after their loss in the World Series).

We trick-or-treated with my parents' next-door-neighbors (that's a lot of hyphens in one sentence!).  The neighborhood was a ghost town and trick-or-treating seems like a relic of the past.

Janyl had fun participating in her first American Halloween.  Don't ask us what we're dressed as...we did it for the kids.
Our students carved pumpkins. They did an amazing job for being novices.
Having a lot of international students around makes holidays a little more fun and festive and usually super un-PC.

We actually had this great conversation about the topic of political correctness at a Fulbright luncheon I went to with Janyl and a girl from Kuwait.  I couldn't believe I was able to hold my own on the conversation level among all these amazing scholars!  We talked about how, in our attempts to avoid conflict, we pretend differences don't exist and therefore further our ill-informed stereotypes of each other.  The students I was sitting with--from Latvia, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, Western China, and beyond--all expressed a desire to actual talk about our differences and really get to know each other.  It was really cool!  What wasn't cool was when people asked me what I was studying.  Wah wah.  There's really just no cool way to say that I'm a housewife in the company of such ambitious people.

The mansion (overlooking the ocean in Malibu) was the private residence of an Indian gentleman.  I felt like I was in a Bollywood movie or something.  Don't worry, I didn't start dancing and bobbling my head.
Rare beautiful sunset in Fullerton

Alexandra, our German friend
We rounded out our fall season with a trip to Oak Glen (my kids still think we went to Oakland, which is totally different, I think).  It is a small town with lots of apple orchards and tourist traps.  We had fun together with my mom, even though some of the places we had hoped to visit were closed.  Evan saw an armadillo in a museum and cried out, "Mom, oh look!  A tortil-la!"  It was so cute.  But alas, there were no raccoons.
I'm not sure who this is sized for.  The longer I look at them all straining to get their chins over the tops, the more I start to laugh.  Especially at my mom.

Corn maze was fun!

We drove on to Yucca Valley to see my cousin, Jenny, and Jon and Mikaela.  It is always fun to connect with them and to see the girls enjoy each other.

There's lots to be thankful for as we head into the holiday season!