Friday, November 14, 2014

The stars at night...

At the end of last month we took an ambitious, eight-night family trip to Texas. I'd call any trip involving air travel with a two year old ambitious, but this was all the more so because it had three separate legs with three different accommodations.

Super excited to be a ring bearer
The purpose behind the trip was my cousin Helen's Texas-sized (and yet so elegant) wedding in San Antonio. She graciously asked Lachlan to be the ring bearer on her big day and I was touched that she wished to include him. Initially I fantasized about how darling he would be walking down the aisle in a tiny tuxedo. "He's going to steal the show," my mom predicted.

Then reality set in and I started to fret about whether he would actually tolerate that tiny tuxedo and the sweet coral-colored bow tie that Helen bought for him. Even if he wore it without a hassle, would he walk down the aisle holding the flower girl's hand as planned? It was a total gamble as to whether or not the two year old ring bearer would actually cooperate. I did my best to set Helen's expectations of Lachlan's performance. She said that she wouldn't mind if he refused to participate in the ceremony and only wanted a couple of cute pictures with him. In hindsight, I realize that the person who would care most about Lachlan not sticking to the plan was me.

Fortunately, Helen didn't entrust him with the actual rings. Instead, she gave him a bell to ring while he walked down the aisle. While waiting with Mickey in the wings he said, "not wanna ring the bell" many times, but at the critical moment, he came through. He did ring the bell while holding the flower girl's hand all the way to the front of the church. I was overcome with emotion and started to cry with relief. "He totally killed it," I whispered proudly to myself. Once at the front of the church he spotted me and I hoisted him up to the pew. I gave him the fruit snacks that I had used to bribe him and that kept him quiet for a blissful 2.5 minutes. Then, unfortunately, he behaved like the two year old he is and Tom had to take him out of the church. I was so focused on getting him down the aisle that I had absolutely no plan to keep him contained during the ceremony. Oops.

I'd like to think that this first San Antonio leg of our journey was fun for the whole family. In between wedding events, we took a hop on hop off double decker bus tour of the city. This was fun for Lachlan because he enjoys vehicles and public transportation. It was fun for us because we learned a bit about the history of the city. We also managed to catch up with my brother over drinks at our hotel's Menger Bar, an exact replica of the pub in the House of Lords.

Livin' the good life in Comfort, Texas
Birthday barbecue lunch at Rudy's
We left Lachlan with a babysitter at the hotel while Mickey and I enjoyed a child-free reception. The path leading to the event space was lit by luminaries, just one of this wedding's many thoughtful, beautiful details. The food was fantastic, the drinks were flowing and the company was family; it doesn't get a lot better than that.

The day after the wedding was Mickey's birthday and though I had made a restaurant reservation for brunch to surprise him, it ended up making more sense to drive out to the hill country where my aunt and her husband Brian now live. We stopped for barbecue at Rudy's on the way, a Texas institution that serves tender smoked meat on waxed paper. I feel hungry now just thinking about Rudy's and all the other Texas barbecue we enjoyed.

Lyndon B Johnson Nat'l Park
Nic and Kathleen followed us up to the hill country and Aunt Jill lead us on a tour of Comfort after Lachlan woke up from his nap. We were surprised by how chic and fun this small hill country town was. We spotted deer by the creek and relaxed on bench swings. Lachlan enjoyed seeing the longhorns from afar and everyone fell in love with the local Bluebell ice cream. We sipped wine while watching the sunset from Aunt Jill and Brian's wraparound porch. It would have been even more relaxing if the porch had glass panes, but they weren't yet installed so someone had to constantly be on guard making sure Lachlan didn't tumble over the edge and fall two stories to the ground. Aunt Jill made a lovely meal and there was leftover wedding cake to celebrate Kat's 30th birthday and Mickey's, too.

A train ride through Zilker Park
On subsequent days we explored Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock and the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park en route to Austin. We had heard great things about Austin and added it to our itinerary even though none of our friends currently live there. We realize that there is only so much sightseeing that a two year old can manage so we kept our travel goals simple for the Austin leg of the journey. "We're just here to eat and look around," we said. Austin absolutely lived up to the hype and I'm eager to go back again one day perhaps for a girls' trip or couples trip. We knew it was home to lots of hipsters, but I didn't realize it also had a sort of San Francisco meets Las Vegas with a Texas twist kind of vibe.

We hiked some urban trails, toured the capital building, watched the bats depart from Congress Bridge, visited the Whole Foods flagship store and of course ate lots of delicious food. In fact, Mickey says the burger he ate at Hopdoddy, a burger and craft beer place, was the best he's ever eaten.
A very cool train table at the Thinkery

Lachlan said that he wanted to go home every day of our trip, but he was actually a really good sport. His favorite destination was the Thinkery, a very cool children's museum on the north side of town. We arrived home on the morning of Halloween, just in time to put on a costume and keep on celebrating.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Morning nap with his neck in an awkward position
Though Lachlan's language skills are improving by the day, he's not yet able to articulate what's wrong when he doesn't feel well. Indeed, when we get sick it feels like we all take one gigantic leap backward. We don't have time to be polite or express ourselves eloquently; we just want our moms.

Lachie woke up with a fever on Monday morning and I knew he wasn't himself when he stood in one place and just cried while I took my shower and later again when I ate my lunch. I couldn't interest him in any food, not even his tried and true favorites like raspberries.
Cuddling Papi

Unwilling to infect other children, we spent a lot of time in the house. Lachlan didn't want to play the way he normally does, but we sat in front of the television and watched Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood together while he took a couple of bites of popcorn.

I figured if he was going to be sitting around and watching TV, we might as well take a car trip (he watches DVDs in the car) and escape the 100F degree weather on Wednesday. We drove through the Santa Cruz mountains and further south on highway 1 to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Lachlan seemed excited about going, as he kept repeating the word 'quarium' but he wasn't interested in staying a long time once we arrived. At least we got out of the house and saw some gorgeous fish.

The upside to a sick child is that he lets me give him extra cuddles. I cuddled him while we watched TV and he even fell asleep in my arms in the morning before nap time. It feels like he hasn't done that since he was a much smaller baby. He didn't require much entertainment and seemed content when I sang Lisa Loeb's The Disappointing Pancake album in its entirety.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Vivid Imagination

One of my greatest joys as a parent is tracking Lachlan's development. Language is most obvious because it allows him to communicate better with each passing day. He likes to ask questions lately such as "where Lachie's going?" and "what's that one?" He can also now use the phrases "right here" and "right now." I love how he's picked up from me phrases such as "nice and safe" and "nice and cosy." It's funny and adorable to hear those come out of his mouth.

Beloved bulldozer from Grandpa Tom
I'm also fascinated by his growing imagination which seems less based on mimicking me and more about expressing his own thoughts and exploring simple narratives. When we're in the car, Lachlan will ask "which Mommy pick?" and I'm guessing that he wants me to choose a car/truck on the road that I like. I choose one (usually based on color) and then he'll pick one, too. Sometimes he pretends that we are both taxi drivers and I'll ask him about the color of his taxi (usually orange), where he's going (usually preschool) and who's in his taxi (usually Mommy and Papi). One time he told me that he was driving a big orange pumper truck (unclear what that is) with red hoses. He said he was driving it to a station to get a new tank.

Lachlan loves pretend that he is a worker. Putting on his construction helmet helps set the stage for him to use his bulldozer (both real toys) to go to the construction site and feed the ducks corn. Today he was playing with a cart and a popper and pretending that he was a gardner who had to mow the lawn and use the edger. He made motor noises and kept running to the dishwasher to retrieve his "backpack" (he's noticed that gardners wear leaf blowers strapped to their backs). He loves enacting similar scenarios at the park where he'll run in circles and keep repeating that he has "lots of work to do."

He seemed to never tire of a game he roped Uncle Doug into playing with him last Friday afternoon. He was at the playground and would pretend to wash his hands at a small basin. The soap was at the other end of the play structure so he and Doug would have to run back and forth to get more soap. Orange soap, then red soap and then blue soap, etc. This game went on and on.

I wonder if the parts of the brain that control imagination are close to those that involve fine motor skills. Lachlan enjoys small motor tasks these days as his skills improve. He likes to spend ages with his seat belt (snap snap), putting "people" into his toy school bus and putting ladders back into their small slots on his fire engine.

I love to watch my boy grow and change.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Last Easter Post, I Swear

Jess sent me her pictures of the dyeing eggstravaganza.

Yay for Lachie's Elmo apron!

Johanna was a pro at painting her eggs with a golden sheen.

Both sweeties looking at the camera!

Monday, April 21, 2014

More Easter Fun

"Mom, this isn't an Easter egg..."
My Aunt Jill got married this weekend at a picturesque Texas hill country location near the ranch she's building. Mickey generously gave me the okay to join my family there for the event, but I just wasn't quite ready to leave Lachlan for even a weekend. When I saw pictures of how much fun they were having I regretted not being there, but in hindsight, I'm so glad that I was around for Lachlan's second Easter.

The Easter Bunny hid both plastic eggs (filled with Reese's Pieces eggs, jelly beans, and sidewalk chalk) and eggs that we dyed last Wednesday with our friends Jess and Johanna. I'd love to post a picture of that delightful mess, but I was too busy containing the chaos to snap a picture. We all had fun, but I learned some valuable lessons about toddler art projects: 1) buy white eggs (Hello! Can't believe I made this mistake. I was so focused on buying organic, cage free eggs that I forgot about how dyeing something is a lot more effective when you begin with a white canvas), 2) give the kids something to do while the eggs are soaking up color in their cups. Toddlers are not long on patience, 3) kids will want to eat the eggs. Be okay with this or provide even more enticing snacks.
Arastradero Lake

The Easter Bunny also left a small, gold foil-wrapped Lindt chocolate bunny for Mickey. I'm grateful that Lachie was not yet aware enough to demand chocolate. Discovering jelly beans was enough of a sugary revelation for our little man. When some people get drunk, they get loud; their personal volume level gets bumped up. We've learned that the same goes for Lachlan when he's had too much sugar. We knew he'd reached his limit when he was shouting, "jellybeans!" and running around in circles.

Nani couldn't let the occasion go by without sending Lachie another gift and this one's an absolute winner. I mentioned to her that Lachlan really likes the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans. It's darling when he says, "Mommy, read Madeline again," because I enjoy the stories, too. (Lachlan doesn't object to my bad French accent). Anyway, Nani sent a Madeline magnet set complete with four scenes from the books. Lachlan loves watching me act out the stories with the magnets though he gets wary when any story involves the Lord Cuckoo Face magnet.

We saw a real bunny on Easter!
After we hunted for eggs and had our pancake and bacon breakfast, we walked to the farmer's market and later took a short hike at the Arastradero Preserve.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lachlan's Favorite People

Lachlan is incredibly lucky to have lots of family members and friends who adore him. I'm always pleased to observe that each loving adult has their own preferred way of spending time with him now that his little personality is emerging.
Holly and Lachlan

My mom loves to cook with Lachlan. They pull over a kitchen chair that he can stand on to bring him up to counter height so he can help. She asks him to add salt, pepper and spices and always lets him mix ingredients together. Lachlan is terribly serious when he cooks; it seems to require all of his concentration. When my mom babysits Lachlan in the evening, she loves to cuddle him while he watches Sesame Street and snacks on graham crackers.

Mickey's parents love to take Lachlan for walks outdoors and help him develop physically and mentally. Dadu taught him some exercises that look totally adorable and funny when Lachlan practices them. One involves him shaking his bum in the air while in a downward dog yoga pose while the other is mostly arm swinging and heavy breathing. Dadu and Dadi also taught Lachlan his address, something I would have never tried at his early age.

One of Lachlan's other favorite people is my cousin Holly. She's recently come to stay and help me while Mickey was overseas for work. She has a background in television and film and unsurprisingly, takes great videos of Lachlan. Then she'll show him the videos and he'll ask to watch them over and over again. He loves watching videos of himself!

During Holly's visit, Lachlan noticed that she drank Pellegrino and now likes to point that out at different times: "Holly likes Pellegrino." We took her to preschool one afternoon and Lachlan happily dragged her around the play yard while I went to the parent meeting inside. Another parent asked who Holly was and said, "my son would never go with one of my cousins. He doesn't know them well enough and would cry." This made me so incredibly grateful that Lachlan knows and loves his family.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt

Last Easter, Lachlan was just ten months old and not yet walking. Because his Nani adores him, though, she bought him his very own Easter pail filled with goodies, including four plastic eggs. This year, Lachlan can not only walk, he can run and loves any game that involves hiding so we thought he might enjoy attending an Easter egg hunt with my mom's group.

I'm a bit wary of community Easter egg hunts that involve pushy parents and the little ones getting trampled, but the one offered by Sunnyvale Moms, was manageable, dare I say, even fun. Lachlan took a lot of interest in dyeing eggs and wanted to dip other kids' eggs in dye after they were already colored. Egg dyeing requires a bit more patience than most toddlers have. Still, we'll try it at home soon.

When the hunt began, the organizing moms encouraged the big kids to run to the back of the park to allow the little ones a chance to collect eggs at their own toddling pace. Lachlan understood the concept of finding eggs, but he didn't understand my sense of urgency to find the next one before they were all gone. We were surprised to learn that all eight of the plastic eggs Lachlan collected were filled with non-edible items such as toys and stickers. I filled our eggs with stickers because I know it's easy for kids to overdo it on sugar and I wanted to include kids with dietary allergies, too. Perhaps I was also a bit lazy. Anyway, it seems that the other moms all had the same idea.

Since yesterday, Lachlan's wanted to play with nothing but his new plastic eggs. He likes opening and closing them, hiding them and shoving tiny toys inside them. By the time we do his preschool egg hunt next week and an egg hunt at home on Easter, I hope he won't be bored of the idea.