Tag Archives: sleep

School Approacheth (and Other Things)

school_approachethThere’s nothing like sitting down to capture life in writing and being completely overwhelmed by what’s transpired in the 46 days since I last did this little song and dance. I struggle with deciding if I should write something heartfelt about mind-blowing transformations and lessons learned, or simply stick to the facts and events since those often tell a story within their own story.

One thing that struck me the other day too, was that now that Keana’s eight and heading into third grade, her story isn’t exactly mine to tell anymore. She already writes many of her own transcripts of events—like what we did on vacation—but I also worry about putting things about her life here that will embarrass her later or be used against her somehow in the cruel throws of growing up in a “Googleable” world. Or maybe she’ll just be annoyed if I beat her to the punch line with life events. What’s more annoying than your parents answering for you when your voice is plenty strong, right? So there’s that.

And then there’s many of my friends having first babies—which really has nothing to do with me—but on the one hand I’m thrilled that they are beginning to enter a realm where they get to hold something greater than themselves in their arms, and spend countless hours admiring and being astonished by someone that hardly does anything at first. I think about all the “firsts” they have yet to experience and a pretty ridiculous grin fills my face.

Then, as I deal with the madness of trying to get all three of my own kids to actually sit down and eat until they’re full, followed by the circus-frenzy that is bedtime, I can’t help but wish I could somehow have the answers myself and pass them on to save them from this insanity we call child rearing. Sorry friends. You’re in for wonder and amazement…and plenty of nights of the type of wonder along the lines of, “What the eff were we thinking?!”

Now they’re peacefully sleeping though, plenty tired from a busy weekend and a sleepover at Grandma’s. After eight years I’m still taken aback by how they can be so gorgeous and sweet awake and asleep. The frenzy and frustrations from the day are all but echoes and there’s so much to look forward to tomorrow. Maia and Keana will find out who their teachers will be this year. Maia’s not happy about her finger that got stepped on yesterday, but she’s a little excited about a special trip to the doctor just for her (yes, it could be broken). Back to school is Wednesday night and we still have one week until school starts, but the first-day-of-school excitement and jitters are beginning to build. It’s life and it’s happening. And the whole thing starts over in a few hours so I guess our latest trip and that more detailed update on what’s been happening will just have to wait for another night.


cozyUntil last weekend, our sleeping arrangements had been off for over a while. Two weeks ago Keana got a virus and a nasty bacterial infection in her lungs—yeah, ended up with walking pneumonia. She missed nine days of school and sadly, also missed Authors Night—where the kids read the books they’ve written and illustrated in an after-school event. Anyway, Aliya was already in her own room and we let Maia sleep with us to reduce the risk of infection. Thanks to her first-ever dose of antibiotics, Keana’s infection went away and our plan worked: Maia and Aliya didn’t get sick! Truly a miracle. It was time to get back to the regular sleeping arrangements, but we took the opportunity to explore a new arrangement: bunk beds.

These bunk beds are not new. Oh no, they are quite old in fact and I think I’ve built them and taken them apart at least two other times. We bought them a couple years ago thinking they would be great, then realized Keana and Maia wer too young. Then when Aliya came along we tried again. Nope, still not time. Too many worries about falling kids, messing around on the top bunk, etc. So, they’ve been stored in the garage, just waiting for the appointed hour. And I think it’s come.

It seemed like Maia wanted her own space but not her own room, and Keana was finally ready for the top bunk, so we brought them in on Saturday and put them together. Of course, when Aliya caught sight of them, she did not want to stay in her boring old room. With the extra space in Keana and Maia’s room, there was a place for her little bed, so we made a deal that they could all sleep in the same room as long as everybody actually slept. Yeah, right. But actually, it’s going well so far. They’re so sweet with each other and they really enjoy all being in the same room. Mostly. Maia had a moment when she wanted to kick Aliya out, but now by the fifth night, I think they’re settling in.

There’s something really special about having them all in the same room, sharing the “lights out ritual”, and waking up together. They love it. And I can’t quite explain it, but Sarah and I love it too. Maybe it’s because we’re pack animals and having them all together and closer to our room just feels right. And Aliya always wants to be doing whatever her big sisters are doing and thankfully, they almost always want her along, sharing their experience. PLUS, if all goes well, we’ll have a free bedroom for my office and guests. Yes! (insert fist pump).

Emerging with the Sun

The Ladies of Team Hokama at the Japanese GardensThe warm sunshine has felt so good lately. And what’s felt even better is an almost healthy family! I say almost, because I’ve just now gotten over phlegmy-phlegm-phlegm and Sarah is just now getting better from a cold as well. BUT, thankfully, the kids have gotten over the rotating wheel of badness, which has allowed us to enjoy and focus on some other things…

…for instance, Valentines was a lot of fun. Keana hand made cards for everyone in her class. We cheated a little by making one drawing for the boys and just coloring each one, but every girl got a custom picture of themselves with Keana. She had herself dancing, flying, and “going crazy” and no two were alike. I have to say, she did get a little stressed out when she realized the breadth of the project she had taken on. She tends to do that—get stressed out over long-term projects. It’s very difficult convincing her she has enough time and that “it will all be okay.” Right now she’s working on her first report for second grade. They’re studying goods/products and she chose almonds. I think it’s because Sarah’s been in the process of converting them to non-dairy milk (just to see if there are benefits for them, not particularly due to any terrible allergy). Keana really likes the vanilla almond milk, so there you go. Keana’s been literally harassing us about helping her research and type. All the research and writing is basically done and it’s not due until Friday, so for now, it looks like this girl is not our procrastinator.

Maia has been having a lot of success sleeping on her own, through the night, with the help of a tracking chart (with fun stickers). It’s something we’ve tried before, but this time it’s really working. We started out three nights in a row then a small prize, then upped it to four, then five, etc. It’s worked so well, we’ve started using a chart for Keana too, but she’s working on cleaning up after herself, particularly with clothes. I too have chart, and I’m working on not getting angry or being mean, and communicating better by acknowledging when I’m spoken to. The anger thing I’ve been working on for a while but I’ve still had my moments of frustration where I raise my voice. And with three kids talking at once, I have found it easier to just listen and not talk, but when I get busy I tend to not even acknowledge important things even if I do hear them. I’m not very good of thinking of reasonable prizes for myself though (like, an iPad isn’t really a fair prize for 5 stickers), but the chart is really helping me too. I attribute it to my competitive nature. Doesn’t matter what it is, I want to win dammit, fill up those squares!

Aliya’s much less cranky now that she feels better and it’s so much fun watching her learn new things and hearing the complexity in her thoughts and speech increase daily. Yesterday she pointed and called out “O!” in the word “stop.” She’s also been figuring out “how many”, mostly just up to two. Her sense of humor is coming along nicely too and I’m pretty sure she’s going to be cracking us up regularly as she gets older. She already appropriates jokes she hears from her older sisters. That being said, she can switch to serious in heartbeat. If you call her “silly” or some other thing, she’s quick to put on her stern face and say, “I’m not silly, I’m ALIYA!” We still call her “Babe-in” too, so sometimes she refers to herself as that. She mostly doesn’t nap anymore but by the time 4 or 5 rolls around, she’s very tired and does tend to get more needy. But at night, she goes straight to sleep and mostly sleeps until 6 or 7. Her sisters are really good about playing with her and she and Maia, especially, can play around the house together for hours, running from one end to the other, caring for babies, catering an event, or just following some other imaginative adventure. This last week she started calling Maia, “Maia Mama” and looks to her for help and comfort at times. It reminds me of when Maia started calling Keana, “Little Mama” around the same age.

This weekend was the first warm one in a while—where everyone was healthy—so we went to this huge park nearby called Woodward Park and had a picnic, ran around, explored, played chase, danced silly, and climbed trees. We also visited the Japanese Gardens and had fun crossing the bridges and checking out the koi. It was a great reminder of how important it is to get out as a family and be in the sun and just do kid-like things. When there’s sickness and it’s cold and hazy out, and there’s all that stress that goes along with that, it’s hard to remember that it will eventually pass, the sun does come out and warm things up, and better times are always just around the corner.

Back on Schedule

back_on_sheduleWell, we survived our first week back from three weeks off and have already begun the next. Keana and Maia were quite excited to be back at school which I’m always thankful for. Being back at work was pretty easy too since there was no lack of things to do which kept the tim flying. I also took a work trip to Berkeley for a couple days, so that made the week go by even quicker but also made it feel particularly hectic.

love coming back from vacation and having a long weekend too. We took advantage of the extra time to rest up and have some fun. I (finally) installed some training wheels on Keana’s bike while she played at Iana’s house and Maia had a playdate with a friend from school. I had resisted training wheels because I know how much Keana struggles with change, and I worried that she would be the only kid in her junior high still riding with them on. I realized my foolishness though and put them on hoping that it would make it more fun for her to at least be a little independent while she gets used to this bigger bike. Although I had a little trouble loosening up while instructing her on how to ride on the road with cars, we eventually had a lot of fun cruising around the neighborhood together. I have to fight that 1950s-style-dad that’s embedded in me somewhere that says, “If you’re gonna learn something, learn it right the first time dammit! I don’t care if it’s not fun at first. Learn it right and it will be fun!” Anyway, I was really proud of her for not freaking out when cars came by and not panicking under pressure. She even had a brush with an accident but somehow saved herself from completely tipping over on a particularly sloped street. Even after that, she had no problem straightening out and getting back on the road. Now she’s begging to ride every chance she gets.

And yes, Maia had her first playdate with a friend from school. She had had playdates with shared friends with Keana, but this was her first having someone over own her own. He’s this little guy from up the street, who’s a little younger than her, and really sweet. They had a lot of fun together building with blocks, running around in the backyard, and generally just being silly together. Maia is really maturing quickly it seems and she’s just a lot of fun to watch. She’s even been having some success sleeping on her own through the night, so we can sort of see some light at the end of the tunnel with things she’s struggled with up until this point.

This morning Aliya was really surprising me with her aggressiveness. It’s not a bad aggressive, really, she’s just more physical than the other two were at her age. She leaps with reckless abandon across bodies on the bed, not thinking a bit about where she’ll land or who she’ll land on. This is particularly exciting when waking up, first thing in the morning. She’s also found it quite funny to smack people lately and we’ve really had to put the lid on this, especially since it kind of stings for me as an adult, so on the kids, it’s pretty painful. It’s tough though, because out of nowhere she’ll just slap the top of your head with surprising force, and it makes me laugh which of course just makes her want to do it more. Also, this morning I ran into the girls room to sneak a little peace and closed the door, which is very hard to open. I flopped on their bed and I could hear Keana and Aliya banging on it and trying to pry it open, then I heard Keana walk away. Aliya didn’t give up though and with a final bang, busted it open as Keana squealed with delight, “Babe-in got the door open all by herself!” Aliya burst in, crawled up on the bed, and body slammed me, giggling the whole time. I love that girl’s fire.

And now they’re all asleep. Phew. And Keana seems to be coming down with a fever and has sore leg muscles from riding her bike, so she’s pretty uncomfortable. I just pray it’s something we’ve already had because after spending half of December and January with sick kids, I am not ready for another round. Now when’s the next three-day weekend?

Maia in the Moon

A couple nights ago, in the kitchen and exhausted, I look at Sarah and say, “I’m lost.” She says, “Me too.” and we hug.

We are in the middle of another “how do we get Maia to stay sleep well” phase. Each time I tell myself that it’s just that, a phase, some brief period that we just go through as part of her growing up. But over the winter break I was moving our old blog to this site, and years ago I wrote about pretty much the same thing I’m about to write now. When it comes to Maia getting good sleep, we are lost—again.

It’s on and off. Sometimes this thing works and sometimes that thing works, but we have yet to find that magic formula. Really, since she was a baby, we have experimented with every method you can think of, tweaking things here and there hoping for some solution. We’ve thrashed between being confused and confident, angry and peaceful, despairing and hopeful, and everything in between. And the only thing we’ve really come up with is that sleep is important and we all need more of it. Well, Keana and Aliya are doing pretty good, but sometimes Maia wakes them up with her middle-of-the-night anguish too.

The last three nights pretty much sum it all up:

She goes to bed fine, but wakes up around midnight and can’t go back to sleep.
She has to pee.
She’s hungry.
She’s scared.
She wants Mama.
She has to pee.
She wants Papa.
She has to pee.
She’s scared.
She has to pee.
Finally, at 4 a.m., she falls asleep (and Aliya wakes up).

Friday night’s antics pushed us to rearrange her bed, moving the mattress to floor (her idea).
She goes to bed fine, but wakes up around 1 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep.
She has to pee.
She’s hungry.
She’s scared.
She doesn’t want Mama (because Mama makes her have to pee).
She wants Papa.
She has to pee.
She’s scared.
She has to pee.
I am so frustrated with her that I lose it.
I ask her why she can’t just sleep like a normal person.
I ask her why she’s such a problem.
I tell her I’m going to put her in a box and ship her to the moon.
I feel horrible.
I tell her I’m sorry and frustrated and she’s not the problem, but her not sleeping is the problem.
I tell her I won’t put her in a box or ship her to the moon.
Finally, I lay with her in our bed and she asks in a whisper, “Papa, if you ship me to the moon, what will I eat?”
I feel horrible, but muster, “In your box there would be a magic fridge with whatever you wanted and a little bear would help you.”
“How big is the bear?” she asks.
“About as big as Miko [our 20 pound cat].” I reply.
She snuggles in and falls asleep.
I’m not sure how early or late it is, but I know Aliya will wake up soon. And she does.

She goes to bed fine and starts to fuss around 11:30 p.m.
She has to pee.
She’s hungry.
She just wants to be held.
I take her back to her room and ask if she wants me to sleep with her.
She nods yes, we snuggle in, and we fall asleep.
I wake up at 2 a.m.
I have to pee.
Maia’s fine.
I go back to sleep.

What happens next? We have no idea.
We’re researching.
We’re asking lots of questions.
We’re listening.
We’ll stay patient.
We’ll stay open.
We’ll stay loving.
Sometimes as a parent, that is the only magic formula you have.


It’s not a very glamorous word, but it seems like such an important one. Progress. We can’t really help it, actually. And the kids, man, they are beyond it if that’s possible. I almost feel like my humble writings, even combined with all the photos and video, barely do their amazing lives justice. Not to mention their vast and rapid development. It overwhelms me really, but then I remember that even the most basic of accounts speaks volumes years down the road, and we can already see this at this early stage of the game.

Keana is simply a delight. From the instant she wakes up until she falls quickly asleep, she is essentially a ray of light. She has definitely been trying out her defiance, coupled with sneers and powerful growling expressions, but we know it’s natural and it rarely lasts. She’ll ignore what we say until we force the issue but it’s actually really good to see her healthy questioning and the strength that’s behind it. I think it will serve her well later in life. She’s also excelling in school and gets along with everybody, even the kids in other classes. I’m still surprised when other teachers and parents know her and greet her on the way to school. Keana is definitely our social butterfly.

Tonight was special too. She was chosen by all the kindergarten teachers to present a piece of what she’s learned in school. There were three kindergarteners and three first graders. Here’s what she read from her animal journal:

We’ve worried a little about how much the kids are expected to learn in kindergarten, but Keana has really done well with it and seems to really enjoy the power that comes with reading and writing.

The epitome of progress though is Aliya. She has the unfair advantage of being baby, but she changes every day. After she began sitting up, it wasn’t long until she started to crawl, and she first crawled just a week ago. Sure, it’s still mostly a scoot crawl, but it’s surprising how far she can get in just a short amount of time. We’ve really had to watch out for all those older kid tiny toys, as well as anything else a baby shouldn’t be ingesting.

Aliya is very curious about everything and loves taking the magnet off the fridge and putting them back on, as well as banging things together to make sound. She may be our little percussionist. She’s always been a thump-a-foot, and a game we like playing recently is when I’m changing her diaper, I pretty to defend myself as she kicks wildly at my arms and face; kind of like a faux-karate match. Laughs and squeals and loves it, and so do I. She continues to be quite flirty with everyone really, waving hello and goodbye, and her super-smile is irresistible. I also love how she squeals really high when she’s excited to see someone she knows.

As for food, Aliya is eating much of what we eat with the exception of cheese, cow milk products, bread and that sort of thing. She loves turkey, peas, zucchini, gnawing on chicken bones, and these puff cereal things made for little babies. I like to line little bites up in a row on her tray and she just mows right through it.

We also started Aliya sleeping on her own, in her own room, about two weeks ago. She fusses for 5-10 minutes and then sleeps through the night. It is really amazing having our evenings to ourselves again. Sure she was adorable to hold while she slept peacefully, but it was time. She’s still not used to napping yet, fussing for 5-10 minutes and falling asleep, but not sleeping for more than an hour and is noticeably tired throughout he day. So that’s still being worked out. This is the earliest we’ve started the sleep training though, so we’re in slightly uncharted territory.

Finally The Maij…our fierce little Maia. She is hilarious. She is adorable. She is quick as a whip. And she is mad as hell sometimes. Her will will not bend or brake, and though it’s quite challenging now, I know it will be a strength someday. It seems she’s been having a hard time eating lately. We think she may be too tired at the end of the day to focus on it, or maybe she’s just going through some developmental thing that affects her intake. She’s growing fast and we’re trying not to make issues out of it, but it certainly has been challenging. And of course, bedtime and sleeping has been a challenge too, just as it was with Keana when she was three. We ditched the bunk beds and are having Keana and Maia sleep in the queen together. So far, they are able to go to sleep together most of the time, but Maia often pitches a fit in the middle of the night and Keana comes to sleep with me and Maia falls back asleep with Sarah. We would let her cry it out, but she’s so damn loud and persistent, that she keeps everyone awake. So we’re feeling our way through this one at the moment.

And that’s just a snapshot but I’m operating from the perspective that something, anything, is better than nothing.

Stressed out

Maia, the past couple weeks, has really been doing a good job sleeping through the night. She previously would wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes every 1-2 hours, saying she had to pee or wanted milk or some other 3-year-old excuse. I think she was really starting to adjust to being potty trained at night, even though she had been sleeping without diapers for quite some time. I think it was also partly due to the fact that now I, Papa, was responsible for Maia in the middle of the night. No Mama, so less options and I suppose less fun.

Overall the adjustment has been great. I take her to pee before I go to bed, and she goes right back to sleep and sleeps until daylight. It is glorious. But sometimes she has a little trouble falling asleep, especially if she’s had a nap. Occasionally, when she’s freaked out, we’ve given her a little homeopathic stress-reliever called “Rescue Remedy”. In the beginning of this month, she started relating that she couldn’t go to sleep because she was “stressed out”. I think these audio clips (taken 1/4/11 around 8:15 p.m.) speak for themselves; just a little glimpse into my life with Maia, pre-bedtime.

Maia talks about being stressed out and not being able to go to sleep. time: 2:19

Maia reads a story in an effort to calm down. time: 2:06

When Papa got a minute

We got the kids to bed kind of early tonight so here I go…

Last week Aliya was still just figuring out grabbing things well with her hands and now, seven days later, she’s so much smoother. Yeah, she still drops things and doesn’t always rotate them smoothly, but she is so much more dexterous and accurate with her grip, it’s scary. These damn babies develop so fast and we are beyond thankful. Aliya still laughs hysterically at her sisters, so much so it almost sounds like something between a smoky bar laugh and baby’s cry. First time she did it I wasn’t sure she was actually happy until I saw her big smile at the silly things her sisters were doing. She’s also figured out how to thump her leg in her bouncer to back it bounce and once it stops, she thumps again to get it going. Brilliant.

Maia is still struggling with sleeping through the night. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t, but she always wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. People are always saying not to look forward too much to the teen years, but I have to say right now, I’m ready to get back to sleeping in until noon. I think Maia is still really struggling with not being the baby anymore and she wants to grow up and be independent like Sissy (Keana), but she’s just not quite there yet. It’s a big step and although we’re quite frustrated with her, I have a soft spot for what she’s going through. I remember feeling exactly like her at several stages when I was coming up.

Keana continues to be our extraordinary pioneer. Her parent/teacher conference was amazing and her teacher said that she is well beyond where they expect at this point in kindergarten. We, of course, try not to put too much weight in evaluations like this, but I have to say it’s what every parent wants to hear. There’s a little boy in her class that has been trying to kiss her and/or talk about kissing her, so that has been interesting. Keana and this boy played all the time together but when he started this behavior, she was done. Thankfully the school is taking it seriously and wants Keana to be comfortable, so we’ll see how everything turns out. Sarah and I know that this little guy just likes her a lot, and perhaps doesn’t have great modeling at home, so we’re just rolling with it for now and letting her teacher deal; don’t want to make it a bigger deal than it is. I guess the whole “boys and girls can’t just be friends” starts early (just joking…sort of).

Last weekend we went down to Long Beach to visit Tia, Uncle Ryan, and Cousin Olivia. We hadn’t been down there since last Thanksgiving, so it was time. It was a lot of fun, minus the 6+hour drive to get down there. But Iana and Ryan were very good to us and the girls had a blast with Olivia. She’s starting to walk, so Keana had fun leading her around by her hands, and both Maia and her had fun torturing her with as much love as she could take. Honestly though, I think Olivia really enjoyed having her boisterous cousins around for a couple days and it was fun watching them together. Of course the World Series was on so some time had to be spent rooting for our Giants, and there was the costume/trick-or-treating-candy-eating-mayhem on Halloween, but all-in-all it was pretty restful and great to get away. (SO many pics from October/Halloween, not enough time tonight, so I’ll get them up tomorrow.)

I can’t believe we’re already entering into the holiday season, with Maia’s birthday falling on Thanksgiving this year. This month is going to be crazy, especially with me having a work trip the week before Thanksgiving, but we’re looking forward to it. Today we had a very productive day around the house and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed raking leaves off the roof and cleaning out gutters. Why is being on a roof so much fun? I do not know. But it did feel good to get give away some things, clean up a bit, and prepare for this great month we’re about to have.

Train outta Fresno

Wrote this on the train out of Fresno, heading to Berkeley for work: 4/7/10. Also trying out a bigger font, hope it doesn’t look “playskool”.

More run-down backyards filled with old, rusty cars than I could imagine are passing by my window. There’s beautiful fields and farmland too, which is strange, right? Farmland, beautiful? Well, rows and rows of organized nature at times seems like some of the best of what the world has to offer and humankind’s ingenuity. Maybe. I don’t know. But before I dump out that can of worms, to my point. I am running on two hours of sleep. Why you ask? I got two names for you, Maia and Keana.

Keana always gets anxious before I have to leave for work trips because often I leave early in the morning and she figured out that when I say “I’m going on a work trip” that means “Papa’s going to be gone when I wake up”. Even with days of prep and explanation, she still gets upset. Maia on the other hand says, “You comin’ back?” and when I say, “Of course, I’ll always come back” she seems quite satisfied. So last night I explained to Keana I’d say goodbye and she didn’t need to worry in the middle of the night and call out. She seemed to understand, but sure enough, 2 a.m., “Papa? Papaaaaaaa!” I go in and explain it’s still night time and she needs to be quiet so she doesn’t wake Maia up. She says okay, but looks worried, and I leave her. 15 minutes later, whining. “Shit! Dammit! What the hell?!” are some sentiments going through my head. This time, Maia does wake up calling for Sarah. I try lying down with Keana in her bed and Sarah goes into Maia’s room. 10 minutes later, Sarah comes in and says Maia wants me. It is now a little after 3 a.m.

I go back into our bed because it’s the biggest, and I have Maia crying on my right and Keana snuggling desperately on my left. I finally get Maia to calm down and she tries about a million different positions to get comfortable. She uses my stomach for a pillow. She says she’s cold. She says she’s hungry. She calms down. Time goes by. We’re not sleeping, none of us. Finally I take Maia back into her room where Sarah’s been sleeping, pretty sure she’s ready to sleep now, but with Mama. It’s now 5 a.m. Alarm goes off in 40 minutes. “Shit! Dammit! What the hell?!”

Alarm goes off. Keana wakes up and wants to sleep with Mama and Maia. I take her in and Maia says, “Hey, this is my bed.” Mama growls, things quiet down. Was Maia ever asleep in there? Are they sleeping now? As I roll past a waking Modesto I certainly hope so. Damn, longest shortest night ever. Well, not ever. But put it the books along with the rest.

As promised…and a little extra

WARNING: This blog post may be boring and disgusting but you might actually like it if you stick with it. For those that don’t have the patience, here’s an outline to assist in skimming:

  1. Following up on Keana’s 5th birthday/visitors (Iana and Olivia)
  2. Easter weekend Part I (The Rogers Gathering)
  3. Projectile vomit (Best Friday Night Ever)
  4. Easter weekend Part II (Rough Start with a Strong Finish)

1. In my last post I said I’d let you know how Keana’s birthday party went, so here it is. Let’s just say it turned out better than we imagined. For one, we thought that only one friend was coming, but it turned out that the other two girls Keana invited showed up at the last minute; we were probably more excited than Keana was in some ways. As a parent you can start to see all those social perils unfolding, even at this young age, of who gets invited, who doesn’t, who shows up, who doesn’t, and what that might mean as far as whether or not they like you, etc. And in this case, there were competing birthday parties that day, so we weren’t sure the best way to explain that one. Keana seemed fine with just having one friend there, but I think deep down inside she was disappointed and Sarah and I felt especially bad because maybe if we had sent out the invite sooner the outcome might have been different. Luckily, in the end, all turned out well. The girls, even Maia and the other 2-year-old, all played really well together and enjoyed our little treasure hunt and piñata. Sarah had to give it a good bashing first though, cause there was no way these five-year-olds were going to even make a dent in that thing. I sat video-taping and laughing wondering how many parties in the world had the same unbreakable piñata. And of course, The Cake. The Cake was amazing. Grandma Jennie picked it up from La Boulangerie and upon request, it was chocolate, and not too sweet, but still rich, moist, and overall scrumdiddidlyumptious (as we say in our house). Our guests stayed from 11-after3 and we were exhausted, but Keana was happier than ever.

The next day, Keana’s actual birthday, was pretty mellow. Keana went to school, though she did try and talk me out of it. They do a special celebration though, and I knew she would be upset if she missed it (all the special attention in front of her peers), so I persuaded her to go. I took the day off work though, and after school we enjoyed some time as a family, followed by Keana’s favorite dinner, roast chicken, and some of that awesome left-over cake. It was a little hard for me to relax because I knew the next day I would fly to DC for NWP’s annual Spring Meeting (where our teachers lobby for funding from their representatives). This trip was also a longer one- I got back March 28 in the afternoon- and when I returned, Iana and her baby Olivia were visiting. Keana had the week off school for spring break, so she and Maia got lots of good time with their little cousin. Olivia is really starting to grab things, roll around, and smile, so I think it was especially fun for the girls. And I’m not going to lie, it was pretty fun for Sarah and I too. Olivia adores Sarah and has the biggest smile whenever she sees her (and a cheerful squeal or growl isn’t uncommon either).

2. On Friday we had a Rogers’ get-together up at Sarah’s Grandma Bev’s house that overlooks Millerton Lake. In attendance were Great Grandma Bev (of course), Great Uncle David (who the girls don’t get much chance to see, but something we’re going to work on), Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin, Tia, and Olivia. It was a lot of fun, but the car ride home was NOT. About two minutes into the 40 min. ride, Maia began screaming and crying and nothing would comfort her. In order to not let the screaming disturb my driving and/or drive me totally insane, I often try to focus on a piece of music or some other train of thought. This particular night, I was thinking how it was Friday night, and once upon time that meant something. It meant around 5 or 6 you would start scheming the entertainment for the night. Who’s around? What’s the dinner plan? Would it be live music after? A movie? A bar then some dancing? Maybe even a night trip to the outdoors somewhere? Now it’s a mad-dash home before the kids melt down, and on Friday, it was already too late. Kid was melting down. Poor Maia was just plain pissed off. After what seemed like hours, we finally arrived home and both kids were hungry, of course. We fed them some left-over hamburger that we brought home and some yogurt, and put them to bed.

3. Then, not long after we got Maia and Keana to bed, Keana called out. I went into her room and she looked worried. Something’s wrong with her throat she said. I began to worry she was having an allergic reaction to something and attempted to assess whether or not her throat was sore or if it felt like it was closing up. I called for Sarah, then had her stand up to see if it was just the position she was in. In the span of three seconds, I saw The Look in her eyes…I grabbed her to move her to the toilet…and…projectile vomit spewed forth on my shoulder, arm, leg, and cascaded onto the cat, who unfortunately happened to be rubbing up against my leg at exactly the wrong moment. The nastiness continued to flow onto the rug, her toys, then eventually all over her little toilet we keep in her room for night-time convenience. Like waves of disgusting it seemed to just keep coming and coming. Oh man oh man. Luckily, after that one blowout of the decade, Keana calmed down and appeared to be completely fine. Sarah and I got to work like a machine, trading off cleaning up the worst mess in recent memory and sitting with Keana to be sure it wasn’t going to happen again. Long night doesn’t begin to define it.

4. Saturday Morning Keana was fine though, and we prepared to head up to “the round house”, a small round house up in the hills near Friant/O’Neals. It’s actually where we got married, so it holds a special place in our hearts. Anyway, Jacque (our current midwife) and Frank Moschella own it, and host an Easter celebration every year there. I guess it’s usually a two-day affair, but this year we just did Saturday. It was great to see all the old family friends and I think Sarah especially enjoyed catching up with everyone and showing off her pregnant belly. Tia (Iana) and Olivia left first to head back to Long Beach and it was almost a teary good-bye. I have to admit, I got a little misty looking at the little chunk-a-munk Olivia, thinking of how much she’ll have changed and grown before we see her again, and how seemingly small and vulnerable she and Iana looked heading out the door to the open road. Anyway, we tried to enjoy ourselves and be conscious of the time, having just endured the same car ride with Maia screaming the night before, and wanting to avoid another terribly long one. Ten minutes down the road, it began. Again, Maia screamed bloody hell practically the whole way home. I put on Kind of Blue and she screamed through So What and Green on Blue (it was on shuffle) before finally falling quiet to Flamenco Sketches. Sarah had to hold her hand too, a deadly combination with the subtle stylings of Miles.

And today. Well, today was not a picture-perfect Easter. Maia was awake from 1 a.m.–3 a.m., followed by Keana waking up between 4 and 5. Needless to say, I awoke pretty grumpy with zero coffee to be found. Maia and I hung out though till 10, which was fine/fun, when Keana and Sarah got up, but Maia and Keana instantly began fighting over Easter bags they got yesterday. Papa growled, apologized, then had to head out for coffee before things deteriorated any further. We finally had our “special breakfast” of Belgium waffles and sausage around noon and the girls went out to look for the baskets that Grandma Jennie had carefully assembled for them, and that I had hid in the backyard. Sarah and I did not rally for Easter this year, so we were especially thankful for Grandma’s collaborative efforts with The Bunny. Sarah and Maia went down for a nap around 1:45 p.m., and after prepping the chicken with rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper, Keana and I followed and had an amazing nap. This amazing nap was followed by an even more amazing dinner. Although the day started rough, with a little help, I think it was still a special one for everyone and we’ve certainly ended on a positive note.