Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fire And Rain

Our plans for a Saturday morning yard sale were upended by a rain storm. Not just a drizzle, or mist. But a real storm, with thunder and lightning. I can probably count on my hands the number of those I've seen those in the 10 years I've lived in the Bay Area. And so, we were in full improvisation mode.

Kalian, always the curious one, wanted to go for a walk around the block just to see what it was like to walk in the rain under an umbrella. (see picture above).

When we got back, I needed to find something to amuse them. Fortunately, I came across a listing for an open house at The Crucible. I had always wanted to visit and what could be better than a free open house? The Crucible is a big, industrial art studio where artists forge big metal sculptures, blow fantastic glass objects, and in general build all sorts of inspiring, funky things. It's one of the great Bay Area-Burning Man type places that makes me appreciate living here.

So I took Liam and Kalian down for a few hours and it was as good as I'd hoped. Liam walked right in and exclaimed, "This place is awesome." There were some people blowing glass in a big furnace when we first entered.

Liam and Kalian both spent about 30 minutes making picture frames and magnets out of glass fragments:

Then it was on to making etchings in sand plates:

And then clay:

Liam made an elaborate clay sculpture involving an alien and a swimming pool with diving board:

It's great to see Liam so engaged. For so long, he was the kid who refused to do any art-related activities. I never wanted to press him to hard, but I remember being so disappointed any time I tried to nudge him to try a craft of some kind and he ran screaming in the other direction. He's always been very creative and it's great to seem him finally developing the patience to create the things in his mind. Earlier in the day, he staged a whole play behind the couch using action figures and playmobile people.

So the Crucible was a hit, and from there we drove the Berkeley Y for an hour of swimming before heading home to watch (gulp) Tinkerbelle. It was Kalian's turn to pick for movie night, and she had been dying to watch this godawful DVD that someone gave her. And yes, it was horrific.

But as days without a plan go, this was a great one. Tomorrow, we've got a regular family meditation gathering which will fill most of the day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kalian Rides!

Tonight, Kalian officially left behind the running bike and rode her pedal bike around the block. We may not have done much right as parents, but we've done pretty well with the whole bike riding thing. Both kids learned to ride first on a running bike, rather than using training wheels. I had a hunch that Kalian was ready about a month ago. Tonight, after a rough evening with tantrums galore, Kalian asked if I'd take her out on the pedal bike because, "It had been, a long, long, long time since we rode the pedal bike."

Sure enough, she hopped right on, scooted a few feet, and then pedaled away. Of course, she had to stop every few feet to offer up commentary on what she was doing. But that was just her way of being excited. And she was beaming.

At one point, she needed help to get started. I was holding the seat and giving her a push. When she was ready for me to let go she shouted, "Daddy, I don't need you any more!" And it made me smile and wince at the same time.

It was just the latest, obvious sign of how quickly she's growing up, and changing. I just noticed the other night, as she was falling asleep, that she's barely blonde any more. She was a redhead until she was about two, and then went sharply blonde. Now her hair has turned brown with only some blonde streaks remaining. She'll soon have Jen's brownish-blonde hair. But the curls are only getting more intense. My lone contribution to her genetic structure, I think.

Here she was at the dentist a couple weeks ago, already a pro who was proud she knew the ropes:

And because she's only going to pre-school four days this year, we hang out Friday mornings. She requested we stop by Nomad's for a bagel. And I couldn't help but notice that she looked like a teenager curled up in the big lounge chair, snacking away:

For now, though, she shows no sign of leaving behind is her princess obsession. But who knows how much longer that will last? Okay, who are we kidding. That will probably be around for a few more years. Until the Hannah Montana years start.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Old Friends And New Ones At The End Of Summer

Just returning from a wonderful afternoon spent at Dolores Park watching the fantastic SF Mime Troupe, a real Bay Area treasure. The musical this year, "Too Big To Fail." Not their best, but still spot on political satire.

Even better, though, we spent the afternoon with Doug and Karen, two new friends we've met through Liam's elementary school. It's taken awhile for us to really gel with anyone there. I think it's natural. But I was definitely overwhelmed last year with all the new faces. We had the 20 new families from his kindergarten room. And then there were the 25 new families at Kalian's new pre-school (her third school in three years, poor thing). I barely felt I had time for all the people in our lives already. And now we had another 45 families with which to mingle.

Back when we lived in Cambridge, it took almost the whole year before I felt like we were just become a part of some people's lives when we left. It's not easy, given that everyone comes to the table with their own friends, their own complicated lives.

For the past year, that's meant a lot of work arranging play-dates for Liam, who demands them constantly. As most parents know, this can feel like a full-time job, adding another layer of scheduling.

As such, we tend to be the ultimate last-minute people. This weekend, that paid off. We had old friends Lori and Ori, and daughters Hannah and Ruby, over for a BBQ on Saturday, responding to an email I sent out Friday night. We met through our midwife, initially worried that Hannah and Liam would be born too close together for us both to use her. Hannah and Liam went to pre-school together. And when we returned form Cambridge, we very nearly decided to move into their house (a duplex) and do the group house thing. Our blooming fruit trees in the back yard convinced us to stay put. (Though as a side note, had we sold our house, we would hit the very top of the housing market back in 2007. Ah, well).

Still, Lori and Ori are the kind of folks we worry about loosing touch with as the kids move to different schools. And so far, to our relief, it hasn't happened.

And on Sunday, also in a last minute invite, Karen and Doug met us at Dolores Park and then we grabbed burritos before riding Bart back together. Oddly, Liam's classmates Vera pals around with Kalian, while her younger brother Roy buddies up with Liam. I guess gender trumps age. But when our two have playmates, it makes all the difference. One hates to be mercenary, but there it is.

It was a great ending to summer. And I'm again promising myself that this Fall, I'll become a better planner.