I not only had the privilege of being at opening night to see Keana and Maia in Cindy!—a local production of the musical via the Shine! Theatre—but I also had the privilege of doing their makeup…and I really do see it as a privilege.
First, I’m just glad I’m around to take up such an opportunity. Second, I’m glad my daughters (and wife) trust me enough to do their show makeup. Actually, that’s not totally true—they kind of didn’t have a choice since Sarah and Aliya are out of town on a camping trip with Grandma Jennie and Tia. No mom this weekend, just dad.
One thing we’ve struggled with on the weekends since having kids (especially multiple kids) is finding balance. The balance between resting, relaxing, doing fun stuff as a family, and getting stuff done around the house to keep this crazy ship afloat. Add anything else to the mix, like dance rehearsals or birthday parties, and it all becomes that much harder.
This past weekend was the first weekend without anything extra in a while and we were not prepared. (That’s another thing: after all these years I would think we would be better at this weekend thing.) Anyway, Saturday rolled along and Aliya’s crib had to be switched out for the mini bed we had in the garage, then the flower beds had to be watered since the heat is creeping up now, then the garage had to be reassembled because of course, that bed frame was at the bottom of a delicately layered mountain of camping gear, Christmas decorations, bikes, and old clothes. Then the kids were hungry for lunch (hadn’t we just had breakfast!) and on and on until it was time to make dinner and get them ready for bed. At the end of it I felt, I admit, pretty annoyed that it was Saturday and I was just as worn down as if it had been a Monday, and even questioned the quality of time we spent together as a family.
That night Sarah suggested we make a plan for Sunday so we didn’t have another day that just sailed by without doing what we really wanted. This was another conversation we were quite familiar with, and it was a good idea, but I was feeling a little hopeless. I get this way, especially when the temperature around here starts climbing up into the 90s. I feel like I’m racing nature to get everything done that I want to do outside before the blistering heat and shitty air closes in. That, coupled with an already intense competition for needs and time, is a recipe for an unproductive conversation. Here I was already tired from a “day off” and I couldn’t get past the existing list of house cleaning and grocery shopping that still needed to get done. Plan something fun? Forget about it.
Luckily we were able to persevere through the initial turbulence of this conversation and finish the talk, emerging with a decent plan for a trip to the zoo in the morning, followed by an afternoon (inside away from the heat) doing house cleaning.
And it worked! By God, we had fun and got a lot of shit done! It wasn’t easy of course, and the kids still had a little meltdown (literally) before lunch, but once we cooled off and ate something, the afternoon was fine. I even squeezed in a game of chess with Keana, Maia, and Aliya.
I’m a grown-ass man with three kids and yet I still just want to sleep in and play on the weekends. Maybe some day I’ll accept the fact that that life has packed and sailed (for now), but this one, now, can be navigated well if Sarah and I just chart a course together…before we embark on the journey.
One of the benefits of living in Fresno is close proximity to the mountains, and for us, close proximity to family near the mountains with a house. With this cold winter storm, snow fell as low as 2000 ft., so we woke up this morning with a text message from Sarah’s dad that they had lots of snow up in North Fork and to come on up. So we did.
We all had a blast sledding and playing, then going inside to dry off and enjoy our gracious hosts’ hospitality. Nana Cin always provides a great meal and lots of treats for the kiddos. We had the added joy of Tia and Cousin Olivia’s company, so it was a great day of family and play. And there was so much snow! It blanketed everything and provided a magical landscape for us to enjoy. We even got to play as it was snowing, so the kids really got the full experience. The kids were also just overjoyed with being able to go up there on short notice and were in awe of how everything had been transformed overnight. Today we really felt very fortunate to be able to enjoy something like a full day in the snow so easily and comfortably.
Here’s a little snapshot of the day, thrown together on my iPhone:
It’s been a pretty busy weekend I’d say, though we rarely have one that isn’t. But as you’ll see, as this entry unfolds, there’s been more than usual lately. Maia and Sarah slept in until almost 10 a.m. mainly because Maia was up for a while somewhere around 4:30 a.m. But today we played in the rain and upon seeing Keana and I stomping in puddles, Maia really wanted a piece of the action. She eventually was content to just walk around and sit near a shallow puddle. She also enjoyed licking the umbrella. We became too wet and cold after a short while and headed back inside.
For good portions throughout the day, Keana entertained herself with dressing up and playing out imaginary scenarios with her toys, often singing the narration. At one point Sarah and Keana were playing a type of follow the leader game, flying, dancing, jumping, and wiggling all over the house while Keana screamed, “C’mon Papa, we’re entertaining Maia!”. Naps were basically a wash today which means we had more time to do some chores and Sarah made a great pork loin with chard, squash, and yams on the side.
Yesterday we sold a desk which we had posted on craigslist and then headed out Albany Point (or something) near where we live. We had never been there before and it was definitely interesting. Basically, it’s a landfill that’s closed down and overgrown with vegetation and it has road/trails that have a great view of the bay and San Francisco. There were a ton of dogs and I got the feeling that it was a little too janky for it to be a kid hang-out, so it has become a dog hang out. There’s sort of an “artist” community that’s claimed it, I think, with evidence of various domiciles in the bushes. small altars/art pieces scattered about, and a pretty large graffiti palace. I think it was safe in the daylight though, and we ran into a family that I know through work, so at least we weren’t the only ones with kids. We stopped by the shore and had a snack on a pile of concrete but had to watch out for the snaking re-barb that was poking out. Sounds crazy but it was actually fun and good to get out before this big storm hit.
So, you may have said earlier, “Huh, they’re selling stuff, why?” Well, we’re moving to Fresno, or as we like to say now, FresYes! The squeeze of the bay area has finally squeezed us out and since all of Sarah’s family and many of her friends or all located in one area- Fresno- it just made sense. Not to mention Grandma Bev runs a fairly prestigious preschool which Sarah attended and now our girls will have the chance to attend, so we feel very fortunate for that. It’s going to be a culture shock for me, I’m sure, but we’re excited about the possibilities this affords us and are looking forward to actually being able to get ahead financially. A big bonus too was that my employer, NWP, is allowing me to keep my job and work from a home office in FresYes. For that, I am exceptionally grateful, especially with this sad economy. I’ll be coming back to Berkeley about once a month for meetings and checking in, so I’m looking forward to staying connected to the area in that way.
All this excitement has really been keeping us busy, and we’ve sort of put Maia’s “sleep training” on hold. We did, however, set up Hotel Hokama downstairs. We moved the twin bed out of Keana’s room, so we put Maia to sleep upstairs as I get Keana ready for bed, Keana goes to sleep in her room, and when I head down for the night I bring Keana with me and I sleep with her and Sarah sleeps with Maia. It’s a little crazy, but it works. This way there’s no kids waking up in the middle of the screaming for one of us and we mostly all get a decent night’s sleep. Don’t worry though, it won’t always be like this. We shall reclaim our adult sleeping quarters, probably when we move and have a house that’s not split up funny and creepy like this one.
Damn, I guess that’s the last couple weeks since my last entry (in a nutshell). I’ll try and keep up more, especially in this exciting time of transition and with Keana’s birthday right around the corner!
Every day we see Keana’s personality emerging more and more. She has such a great sense of humor and we find ourselves laughing at her little jokes all the time. Like when she’s sitting at dinner and singing, “Sausage, sausage,” or saying in a deep, growly voice, “MEAT!” The photo below from February means so much more when you know the context. Sarah said she wanted to get a photo of her, not saying anything about the stroller, but Keana went and got her stroller so she could pose with it. You’ll see that she came up with this hilarious pose. It somehow reminds me of those photos you see from the 1800s when photos were new, and people would pose with their prize possessions, like a clock or their favorite rifle or something. The best part is her face too. Very serious and very cognizant of the camera. Definitely one of my favorite photos of the month.
Keana continues to be a voracious reader and often entertains herself looking through her books, especially when we’re busy. She’s able to name the titles of her favorite books and says portions of the story when you flip from page to page. She’s got an amazing memory and continues to pick up on lyrics to songs we sing all the time. The latest trend has been singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while brushing her teeth, and she chimes in on all the “echo” versus singing, “Like a light bulb!” and, “Ho, ho, ho!” and, “You’ll go down in history!”
We still visit the park across the street many times a week and she’s able to climb up the stairs of the play structure and go down the big slide all by herself. In fact she insists saying, “No Mama help!” Quite the little independent. She also seems to enjoy observing the other kids’ behavior at the park as much as playing on her own, and you can just see her little gears turning in her head. Tonight when we went to the park she was all about collecting wood chips and rocks to keep as little treasures and she even made sure that I had my own saying, “Papa have a rock too.”
This week Keana turns two and we can hardly believe it. She’s certainly not a baby any more and we’re excited and even a little in awe of her ever-emerging personality and independence.