Thursday, December 5, 2013


What am I thankful for? My family. I am very lucky. Now, if I stop to think about this, I am lucky for many members of my family and grateful for them all. This Thanksgiving, we spent time with part of the family. 11 adults, 2 children and a newborn. But, I am smart enough to be thankful for more. And, because it is the place I am in my life, my focus is admittedly on my children at this point as they continue to grow. Still, I try not to forget others in my family and try not to neglect my wife too much either. Lately, Tami and I are extremely lucky to get a couple of minutes together to act like compassionate adults and try to catch up on conversation. So often I am burning my candle at both ends- one end to keep up with my new job and the other end to ignore my unfinished work as I spend time with my kids. So often Tami is burning the candle at both ends and the middle as she is taking care of our children, half the owner/operators of a bilingual preschool, and full time graduate student. Still, we manage to love each other.

 We had Thanksgiving at our house this year. Delicious.

 Baby Layla was the star of the night. Beautiful Layla. Adorable.

Ana got to hold Baby Layla with Aunti Tia's help. Ana was quite excited to do so.

Enzo got to hold Baby Layla with Mami's help. He was excited, too. Especially as he had thought his chance was after Ana's but Layla decided she was desperately in need of some food before Enzo's turn and Enzo had to play for a wile before he got to hold her.

And then they both got some time again.

Babies.... they rejuvenate those around them.

 For the second year, the bug was in the Niles Festival of Lights Parade. I don't remember how many lights I used last year but this year I used all of those plus 850 new lights that I bought plus the new multi light star for the tree that Tami bought. Pictures do not do justice to how much this car stands out in the night. Enzo and I again drove the bug with the music coming from the large speaker mounted on the rear outside rack that Aunti Tia's dancers danced to along the parade. We placed a real tree on top of the roof rack again. Ana walked the parade with Tami along side the dancers. It was fun.

In the staging area, filling up on some late night snacks of rice cakes and crackers before the parade starts.

 Here the dancers are getting ready in the staging area.

Still in the staging area, we watch the warm up out the windows.

After the parade we parked in the end-of-parade lot. It is interesting how many people come up to the bug to take pictures with it.  It is a cool bug and some people definitely notice it on the streets but it is still really interesting how many people will pose in front of it when it is covered in lights for a photo.

One thing about having thousands of lights wrapped around a bug is that the majority of Christmas house decorations is already done at that point. With Santiago's help, I ran a strip of lights around the house and then plugged the bug's lights into it. Voila! House decorated.
Our house decorated. We took the house lights and ran a strip across. Then ran a strip to the flagpole which wound down and then plugged into the Christmas tree that had been on top of the bug in the parade. Another strip then ran to the bug instead of, as it was in the parade, run through a power inverter plugged into the car battery. The next day, Enzo helped with the flashlight as I set and plugged in an auto timer so that the lights come on and go off every night automatically. I do love the lights. So I set them to also come on for a couple of hours in the morning so that I see them when I leave for work. They look great.

Also great about that night we set up the lights? Santiago was there, as was Melanie, Phyllis, Hun and Don, because Tami invited Melanie and Phyllis over to make tamales. Yuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm. The great thing about tamale making is that, if you have corn chips, as we did, you can eat the turkey tamale and chili sauce filling with chips all night as they are being made and, at the end of the process, you still get to eat delicious tamales!

 Thanksgiving means four days of no work and more time for the family. It also meant a few hours where I got to go out for a ride. Cool thing is that Nathan was going to go for a ride too so we got some riding and social time in.

And, the last note for today. Tami continues her Christmas countdown that she started a few years ago. Each day of December the kids take a turn pulling a note out of the numbered pocket on Santa's beard and we do something special. On 12/1 the note said dance party. So simple, right? No big deal? The kids loved it!!! We put on music and danced for several songs. The kids were still talking about it the next day when I picked them up from school. Day 2 was read a special book with Santa in it. We read The Polar Express. 12/3 was make snowflakes. Ana fell asleep early but Enzo had a great time making them with Mami, Tata, and me. He decorated a wall in the house with the results. 12/4 was drink hot chocolate. Or, as the kids say, hot-hot-Hot-----Hot-Chocolate! Because, you know, they have seen The Polar Express a bagillion times. I look forward to seeing what today's special treat is.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

School Pictures are In

The kids' school uses a professional photographer. Here are some school pictures of the kids for 2013.

Enzo did Scrunchy Face for a school picture!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Haircut and Splashes Splashes......

How do you like Ana's new haircut? It's her first...... Her brother gave it to her.

They now know how to open the "child proof" latches on the art supply cabinet. Of course, we explained again that hair cutting is for Aunti JoJo, Mami, and Grandma. We also reminded them that Mami or Papi were supposed to be involved when the scissors come out. You know, to save hair and the clothes that the kids were wearing and also decided to cut. Yet, they kept going for that cabinet in the following days. Scissors are now stored above the fridge.

"Ring around the rosey
Pocket to the posey
(Spinning around on their knees)
We all fall down!!"
(SPLASH!! On to their pompies) the tub. This is the song they were chanting for ever!! I don't know where they heard the real song or when they decided it was a bath time song but their version makes sense in the tub. I love my babies.

The caped kiddos saying bye to Mami as Papi takes them out for an adventure so that Tami can do some homework.

Enzo yells out "I'm not a baby!!!!" Followed by his own laughs.
I say, "I know you are not really a baby any more but you and Ana will always be my babies and Mami's babies."

We have had this "baby" conversation many times. I call them my babies all of the time and they don't actually mind but they do like to talk about everything. Enzo especially likes to use "Why?" questions and lately he is really fond of an endless list of "What does XYZ mean?" XYZ being something from the previous definition I gave him or some other word he just heard. When having the "I'm not a baby, you are silly Papi!" conversation, Ana will often chime in:
Ana: I'm bigger huh? Papi, I'm bigger huh?
Me: You are bigger and you are going to keep getting bigger until you are all grown up as an adult.
Ana: I'm bigger already huh Papi?
Me: You are bigger than you were. And you are still growing. And some day you will be as big as Mami and Papi. You're not that big yet but you are still growing.
Ana: Yeah, I am growing bigger.
Me.. to myself: There is no rush, take your time.

We drove around and ended up in Palo Alto. Enzo fell asleep in the stroller while I walked us on University looking for a restaurant. Ana and I enjoyed a nice Italian meal while Enzo slept in the stroller at our table. After, we walked/strolled down to a park and then Enzo woke up naturally just in time to play.

The park had a pretty cool concrete slide. Kids had left lots of cardboard at the bottom of the slide for anyone to use if they wanted to slide down faster. Enzo tried with and without the cardboard. He and Ana went on the slide over and over.

Ana also is much more comfortable making new friends than I am. Her only question/comment was "these are my amigos right?" Yeah, it's easy to be friends at this age. I said, "yes, these are amigos, you can go play with them." And off she went. Here is one of the pictures of her playing with some of the other kids.

At one point a slightly older kid tried to shove her off of this spring-thing while yelling "No!" He wasn't trying to be mean, though it did look like it. He just didn't have the vocabulary to explain, as there were only two of them on it at that moment, that Ana should sit opposite him so that the thing would balance. Ana just held her ground and looked at him. Then, after some consideration, the other kid got off his side and moved opposite Ana. Then Ana understood. Later, Ana was on it alone and another little kid tried to get on right next to her. She tried so hard to explain in her limited way and she even tried to gently nudge, but she didn't shove. The kid didn't get it and Ana didn't feel like moving so they played a few moments sideways until more kids came in and balanced them out. It was interesting to watch.

This is a very special drawing that Enzo made last week. It is the first of it's kind. Tami and I both noticed it when Enzo made it. All of a sudden, with no other sign of build up, Enzo jumped a whole new level in drawing. Every crayon picture either of us has ever seen of his before this one was a scribble of color and/or letters. He would tell us what they meant, they had meaning. Then he made this all of a sudden one night. He made this enclosed shape and colored it in. Crazy. I never would have thought about the developmental phase of coloring an enclosed shape but had I, I would have imagined the processes leading up to it to have been more obvious to me. Nope. Appearing to me as all of a sudden is this space ship that Enzo made. He said the lines in the back are the fire. After making this, nearly all of his drawings now include enclosed shapes that he colors in, with rare exception. I can think of only one drawing, other than letters which he has been writing with increasing frequency, in the last week that was not an enclosed shape he made and colored. Very interesting. Which brings up a new stage in play at our house... we go through a lot of paper for both of the kids now.

Also fun was that this last weekend we celebrated with Baby Jack and Laurie for their birthdays along with other friends and family. Jack is one and Laurie is a little more... about my age. Happy Birthday! We had a good time. Tami and I mostly got to speak with John and Dana and their two kids who are so grown up now (12th and 8th grade) which we enjoyed. Enzo and Ana got to play with Charlotte and Tristan a lot which they very much enjoyed. And we all got to see people we don't see very often.

On Sunday we played in the park and I pushed Ana forever on the swing as she likes me to do. Enzo watched some older boys playing and in doing so learned how to spin around on an unwinding swing which occupied him for quite a while.

Good days.

Also!!! QUICK UPDATE----- Aunti JoJo is in labor right now as I type!!!!!!! I am at a cafe and doing some work and also uploading this post that I was working on. Now, I have to hit "Publish" and close up my work. Heading home now to be there when my kids get home so Tami can run off to see Jo. Exciting!!! Layla is on her way out into the world!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Halloween and More

Ana is 2 and a half years old! She got to decide what was dinner on her half birthday. She said she wanted burritos and she wanted to eat in a restaurant, so we did. She is beautiful.

The kids and Tami went to a high school football game with me. Ana is a super climber. I like to not limit her too much which meant letting her climb a bit while I stood next to her to protect her. Then I realized that I was working and I wouldn't let another kid be climbing all over the place like she was. Unfortunately, there was another kid who started doing the same right next to Ana. I figured the other girl was next to her dad too, so I would just be ok with him having the responsibility. Then, I let Ana know it was time to go somewhere else for a bit. Which kind of works. The girl loves to climb. And she is so capable and confident.

Part of my job involved being in a parade. Parades seem to be a much more important part of my life in recent years. Tami and the kids showed up too. From a distance I could see this crazy-cool spaceship that Enzo had on. So cool. Tami told me she made it for him in 15 minutes that morning.

He asked for a window at a specific spot so she put that in. Or as she explained it, she built it to spec.

I gotta say, I was impressed. I mean really impressed. It was just a used cardboard box but with a little creativity Tami had created a toy that my kid loved to play with. In following days parts of the kitchen were cordoned off with tape by Enzo as his spaceship garage. He put toys and a "tool box" in the top portion and he would work on his spaceship fixing it while Ana completed various spaceship garage responsibilities. Just awesome. At one point my son was under a table on his back looking up at the bottom of the table, arms extended to it with his "tools" as he fixed part of his space port. So many memories came back of my childhood on 15th street under the 6ft long table my uncle had made when he was in high school. Me with my "tools" fixing the table/spaceship/car from below for so long that my little 5 year old arm muscles would burn and I would have to let them rest. It was awesome to see Enzo doing something similar in his imagination. I marveled. Which is more valuable that taking a photo.... but I tried to take the photo at one point and by then the spaceship mechanic had moved on to other tasks. The moment was superb and I am so glad I got to see it.

On the Sunday before Halloween we had a pumpkin carving day. Lots of fun.

Of course, there were breaks for various oddities like watching a horse ride a horse very quickly. That's Ana's smile in there.

Tami helped Ana carve her pumpkin. She did this by drawing out several mouths, noses, and eyes on a paper and then asking Ana what she would like Tami to carve into her pumpkin and where. And so my daughter ended up with this interesting pumpkin with three mouths on it. And I thought, what a crazy revolutionary liberal minded artsy granola wife I have. She didn't tell her no, Ana, pumpkins get two eyes one mouth and maybe a nose. She just said ok and Ana smiled and got a pumpkin as she ordered it. That's the mother of my kids. I love my wife.
Which reminds me of another story. I don't have the pictures yet but I saw them on Tami's phone. Tami told me about the school day my kids had a few days ago and I'll tell you now that at the end of the conversation I told Tami how glad I was that our kids go to the school that they do. So, the kids, including Ana and Enzo, are painting on a large paper in class. After a while Tami looks over and sees that Enzo is standing with his foot up behind him as he uses the paint brush to paint his bare foot. Then, loaded with paint, he swings his foot in front of hm and paints his foot print on to the paper in front of him. Tami says, and she told me this would not have happened at home but in her school it was different, "you want to paint with your feet?" So she tapes down a large piece of paper on the tile, places three plates with paint on them on the floor, gives the kids the ground rules about staying on the paper and asking- then waiting patiently for her help- when they decide they are done painting with their feet so she can help them clean themselves. So cool! What kind of parent/teacher enables such craziness? That's my wife and I am so glad my kids go to her school.  

This is Tami's pumpkin.

 This is Enzo's pumpkin that Tata helped him to carve.

This is Hun's pumpkin.

The kids had picked out this giant pumpkin for me because they liked all of the bumps on it, according to Tami. I carved a train for them.

Shea did this elaborate ghost.

I took a picture of what this looked like from the pumpkin's perspective from inside as Shea carved.

Shea did this great job!

Ana's in the dark.

Recent Ana story: Recently, while I was at work, Ana was whimpering. Tami did not know why. Finally, Ana said to Tami "I need help." Tami learned that Ana had stuffed a pomegranate seed into her nose. Why would anyone do that? I don't know. I have heard other friends talk about these kinds of things like going to the doctor with an m&m or a dime in their nose as kids. So I know it happens but it still is funny and odd as I just don't remember doing anything like that. Maybe nothing got stuck for me and that's the only reason, I don't know. Anyway, Tami couldn't get it out but eventually she was able to help Ana blow it out.

Enzo's in the dark.

Recent Enzo story: We got ready for bed one night while Tami was at night school. We go to read and are having a great time. We start reading Dr. Seuss's ABC's for our second book and the kids are just doing great trying to sing and even point to letters as I read anticipating the alphabet. I don't know how much they really know but they were doing great. One of the fun things that showed me Enzo really knows some of those letters is that Enzo started saying the alphabet backwards as he pointed starting from Z. He got a a few letters in when he made up a "letter".. something like "alaaablah" and I started laughing! I think this was on Ana's 2 and a half year birthday. Anyway, then we all started laughing so hard in bed. Ana and Enzo then both took turns reciting parts of the alphabet, forward for Ana and backwards for Enzo, for a few letters and then going into a made up letter followed by extreme ruckus! Not what you would consider conducive to a bed time routine (shadows of a previously stated theme?) but somehow it worked out and the kids did eventually fall asleep. But before we slept, Enzo says "I'm starving." For what seems like an eternity of 2 seconds I want to tell him the joke but know he is not ready yet at three years old but I can't help my self and go with it and blurt out "I'm Papi!" I doubt he had time to process that as a joke but being practiced myself in the jokes of equivocation I started laughing in the dark. Enzo paused for a second and then started laughing too. Ana had now fallen asleep but Enzo clearly needed to test this new joke.
E: I'm starving!
Me: I'm Papi!!!!
(ruckus laughter)
E: I'm an orange!!!
Me: I'm Papi!!!!
 (ruckus laughter!!!!!!!!!!!)
And that went on for a few rounds until eventually we did settle down and Enzo too, fell asleep.

Papi's in the dark.

Recent both-kids story: It was nap time and it was me that was tired while Tami was off doing homework one weekend day. Which means that the kids were wide awake but I was going to try anyway. The gem if this story is not that I got some rest, because I didn't. But at one point, the kids were face to face on the bed and Enzo throws his arms around Ana and holding her says "I love you Ana."

A few seconds go by. Enzo continues to have his arms wrapped around Ana. Ana says a few things and then throws her arms around him and says "I love you Enzo."

It is a beautiful and perfect world that I live in.

Shea's in the dark.

Nicole's in the dark.

 Hun's and others in the dark.

Remember Halloween in school?

Ana is a cat and Enzo is a lion.
Is this a Counting Crow's song?
"I want to be a lion
Everybody wants to pass as cats
We all want to be big big stars, but we got different reasons for that...."

On Halloween, Ana getting ready to transform into a cat and trying on her Mami's shoes while she waits for her brother.
Why is her brother taking so long? Well, he decided he didn't want to be a lion anymore when he goes trick-or-treating. He wanted to be a spaceman in his spaceship that his Mami had made him as a toy. Well, ok then.

Thinking about this post, it is starting to appear to me that the theme of this post is accidentally permissive parenting. For the record, I assure you that my kids are well behaved..... Or do I profess too much? Well, they are.. when they are not hungry.... or tired... or have to go to the bathroom.... You know what, they are perfect angels. That's all there is to it.

Aunti JoJo, baby Layla (in womb), and Cousin Vincent joined us for trick-or-treating. It is always a treat to see Aunti JoJo and even more so since baby Layla has come in to the picture. And Cousin Vincent, we haven't seen much lately so it was great to see him. The cool thing is that he has become a regular for Halloween since we have had the kids. I don't know if that is a conscious thing but it is interesting and great that the kids get to enjoy family on this odd celebration of humanity in our world.

My mom made the trick or treat bags this year. Both grandma's are great at making things for the kids. I would almost believe this was a dying art if it weren't for the fact that Tami still sews on occasion or whips out spaceships from a few inches of tape and a box in the garage.

Here is another example of sewing. My mom watched the kids one night when I had a school fundraiser to attend and Tami had a school marketing event to attend.While the kids were there my mom made them capes to play with that were reversible. Enzo's has spaceships on one side and "Super Guy" on the other. I may not have written about this but there are times in the last several weeks when Enzo will yell out "I'm not Enzo!!!!! I'm SUPER GUY!!!!!" Ana's has butterflies on one side and "Ana" on the other. By the way, Enzo declared his first "when I grow up..." job to me in the last couple of days.

"When I grow up I am going to be a Super Guy Astronaut." -Enzo

Ana has not been left out of his future plans. Enzo will also have a spaceship. But he will wait for people to get on and off. Ana will not be allowed in the back of the spaceship because only boys can go back there. I'm just reporting this for history. I couldn't get to the reasoning either. Also, I am allowed back there because I am a boy. I tried to question this because I like boys and girls and want my daughter to have it all in life. But, who can fully understand children's minds? I felt a little better, though I still do not know the rationale, to learn more from Enzo. Ana is allowed in the front of his spaceship and Ana will also have her own "Super Guy Ana Spaceship" that she will fly.