Friday, August 23, 2013

Swim Class at the YMCA

Lachlan started swim lessons when he was just four months old at the Cook and Phillip Pool in Sydney. I use the word 'lesson' loosely here because four month olds cannot learn how to swim, but they can get better acquainted with the water, a small stepping stone on the path to actual swimming.
Big boy rash guard and trunks.

We had taken a break from swim classes while we moved overseas and got ourselves settled here in Mountain View. Now that we belong to the Y and summer was coming to an end, we decided to give swim classes another go.

We were the only family enrolled in the 9:15am class and I suppose that meant we were technically entitled to a private lesson when we had in fact paid for a group lesson. Because we were the only family, though, the instructor didn't take the class very seriously and told us to 'swim around' and 'do whatever you want.' We switched to a 10am class so that Lachlan could enjoy the company of other little swimmers, but even in a group setting, our instructor's abilities are a bit underwhelming. We miss the professionalism of the Cook and Phillip Pool staff and their indoor, perfectly-heated facilities.

Still, we're doing our best to make the most of swim class. I demonstrate blowing bubbles to Lachlan over and over though he'd rather lap the water with his tongue. In my most enthusiastic voice, I encourage him to kick and splash his way across the pool, but the toy ducks and frogs serve as his only real motivation.

There's a 19 month old boy in our class who annoyingly already knows how to swim. He goes underwater, jumps in the pool from the edge and splashes/paddles and kicks his way to the edge. I overheard the mom say to the instructor that they have a pool at home. 'Why are they even here then if he already knows everything? Showoffs,' I thought to myself ungenerously.

I remind myself that every child is different and that Lachlan will be a fantastic swimmer in years to come. For now we'll count not crying during back floating time and cracking a smile during hokey pokey as swimming victories.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga... Choo Choo!

Love this one of my sweethearts watching the forest go by.
Prior to moving overseas, I had lived in the bay area (Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose) for about six years. I thought that moving back here would be easy because I already know the area, but it turns out that I knew little about the peninsula and almost nothing about what it has to offer kids/families.

Big trees indeed.
It's funny how being a parent provides one with a new lens through which to view the world. As an adult without children, I was focused on great places to eat and drink with friends. These days we explore public parks and rank them according to which ones are closest, least crowded, have the most redwoods and afternoon shade, cleanest sand, best play structures for little tykes, etc. I could probably do an entire post on our favorite parks in the area, but I'm sure other bay area parents have already done that online, probably in great detail and perhaps with metrics and colored graphs.

One of the kiddie destinations that we took Lachlan to recently was the Roaring Camp Railroad in the Santa Cruz mountains. We rode an actual, open-topped steam train through the redwoods on a gorgeous day. Lachlan is just starting to get into trains, (he likes to make the 'woo woo' whistle noise) and so we thought it might be fun for him. He enjoyed looking at the forest and especially loved observing the other children in our train car, but staying seated for an hour and fifteen minutes while the train was moving was a challenge for him. Perhaps we'll take him again just before he turns two; he may have more patience and will still get in for free.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Summer Was Made Possible by Nani

When Nani had to return to her job teaching high school English, we had to bid her a sad farewell on Monday morning. It was hard to say goodbye because we spent the summer having way too much fun together while furnishing the house and establishing our new lives as a bay area family. Here are a couple of highlights from a memorable summer.

Steven's Creek Trail
We kicked off the summer in style by celebrating Lachlan's first birthday with a luau at Nani's home in Upland. The occasion was all the more special because Lachlan's Dadi and Dadu and Uncle Nic and Auntie Kat flew from across the country to attend. Because the first birthday is a big one, it was easy to go overboard with decorations, balloons, a pinata, cake and a whole roasted pig. Putting it all together was a tremendous amount of work considering all of the help we had from eight different adults (Lachlan's parents, four grandparents and aunt and uncle) the weekend of the party. It was all worth while, though, because everyone had a good time and we got some colorful pictures out of it.

My birthday is less than two weeks after Lachlan's and I imagine it will be forever overshadowed (and that is totally fine with me). Still, Papa treated me to a lovely present - a new bike! We also got a bike trailer for Tiny, helmets and locks and everything else we need for our new hobby. We miss our walkable Sydney suburb, but are trying to take advantage of our new (mostly flat) home of Mountain View by biking. Mickey's been biking to work every day and we seem to be getting along fine with just the one car. Lachlan, Nani and I have biked to the library, Target, parks and on a trail, too. He isn't terribly fond of wearing his helmet, but he likes to say 'helmet.'
I felt special because Celine doesn't jump into just anyone's lap.

We enjoyed a couple of three-generation playdates with my friend Leah, her daughter Celine and her mother Marilyn. Lachlan and Celine love to observe each other and fight for toys, but cannot yet play together. I've heard that kids don't really play collaboratively until age three and that seems like a terribly long wait for playdates involving sharing and some sense of civility. Until then, I'll practice the art of diplomatically solving toy squabbles and teaching Lachlan that he needs to greet friends in ways other than poking their eyes and faces.
It's easier to wait for your meal when you have
cheddar bunnies.

One of the best parts about exploring our new neighborhood is finding new favorite eateries. I've always loved The Counter and was delighted when a brand new location opened up just a mile from us. Their menu suits both Nani's and my tricky diets (best GF bun, hands down) so it has become our go-to spot. When Mickey and I went out for a date evening last weekend, Nani took Lachlan to The Counter and I'm told that he behaved like a little gentleman. Nani said he enjoyed sitting at the front of the restaurant where he could observe diners (especially the little ones) coming in and finding a table. Also, he said 'hamburger' while Grandpa Tom was visiting and we now ask him to repeat it all of the time. It's amusing that Lachlan doesn't yet say 'I love you,' but confidently attempts three and four syllable mouthfuls like 'hamburger' and 'avocado.'

My major accomplishment of the summer was furnishing our new home. I thought that it would take the entire year and though the office and garage need work (whose don't, really?), it's nearly complete now. We have everything we need and then some and it's starting to feel like home. Of course, this would not have been possible without Nani. She did everything from care for Tiny while Mickey and I went out furniture shopping to offering decorating tips to hanging pictures to assembling our recliners. This is turning out to be the stylish, comfortable and practical home I had envisioned and I have Nani to thank.
Lachlan's nursery is one of my favorite rooms.