A new (old) toy

May 28th, 2016

A few weeks ago the girls started playing with one of my old Cabbage Patch dolls – which had long been sitting, untouched, on Avery’s bed. Then they got really excited when I brought my second one out of storage – they’ve been playing with them every day since!


Avery with Cabbage Patch doll

Oh, say can you see…

May 26th, 2016

An exciting week for Zoe, who got to sing – along with the rest of her school’s chorus – the Star Spangled Banner at yesterday’s Giants game. I couldn’t be there, but Q and Avery were there to cheer on the group (as was, evidently, Lou Seal – the Giant’s mascot).


Brandeis chorus at Giants game - small

Brandeis chorus with Lou Seal - small

Zoe with chorus - small

Our girl on the run

May 24th, 2016

As mentioned here previously, Zoe joined a running club at her school – and one of the things she’s been training for was Girls on the Run, a non-competitive 5K race through Golden Gate Park. The race was this past weekend, and our little runner was the 3rd girl (and 7th overall) to cross the finishing line! Most exciting is the fact that there were about 3,000 people racing, including many adults and kids much older than her. I’m one proud mama!


Zoe at Girls on the Run

Annual camping trip

May 22nd, 2016

Like last year, Avery’s class planned an end-of-the-year family camping trip at the beautiful Costanoa Lodge; we just got back. Despite dreary weather reports (cold and rainy), it was a beautiful weekend – perfect for hikes to the beach, playtime with friends, and lots of cook-outs (including, of course, s’mores). Next year’s trip is already marked on the calendar.


Avery in tree

Avery and Matthew

Zoe at beach

Avery on beach

Zoe walking

Avery and Mila

group making smores

Zoe making smores

Avery, Naomi and Liza


End-of-year craziness

May 20th, 2016

The end of the school year is approaching, which means a ton of activities and events between now and mid-June. A ton? I’m exaggerating a bit, but there’s:

  • the first-grade camping trip
  • Girls on the Run, a 5K race that Zoe’s running
  • Zoe and her school’s chorus singing the National Anthem at a Giants game
  • a separate chorus concert for parents
  • an all-school prayer service being led by the first graders
  • Avery’s class’ opera performance
  • the first-grade pool party

When you factor in permission slips, food and volunteer sign-ups, and tons of related emails (on top of, y’know, life), it’s enough to make one’s head spin. But it’s all good stuff (singing at the Giants game alone is super exciting!), and we’ll get lots of memories (and photos) of it all. We’ll just have to rest after June 17.


More chicks and ducks

May 19th, 2016

Two more pics (including one that’s hanging outside of Avery’s classroom).


Zoe with chicks

Avery and the chicks


Chicks and ducks

May 17th, 2016

Seems like only yesterday that Zoe was a first-grader learning all about the development of chicks and ducks. Now it’s Avery’s turn, and her classroom’s first batch of eggs hatched last week.


Avery and the chicks and ducks

Some thoughts from mom

May 15th, 2016

The older the girls (and Q and I) get, the faster time seems to go. I have so many thoughts about this stage of the girls’ lives and parenthood these days, but it’s been a challenge to find the time to write them down. Here, though, are a few thoughts:

-I’m continuously fascinated by what a difference 2.5 years makes in a child’s life. While the girls still share many interests (they enjoy the same games and shows, for the most part), nine is just so much more mature than six-almost-seven. It’s partially personality, not just age  (of course), but Zoe can be very serious and independent – and she does things (sitting and reading thick books for hours, recording things in her various journals, for example) that are more “adult” than “kid.” Avery seems so innocent and little girl-like in comparison: She’s always bouncing around the house, jumping on top of me and Q and asking to play, and she gets really excited about small things. (You should have seen her face when she excitedly described what was happening with the chick and duck eggs in her classroom – more on that soon.) A recent event at school also clearly displayed the differences: The students were marching to a school assembly and the parents were watching. When Avery walked past, she gave me a huge, happy smile and big wave; when Zoe saw me she gave a shy half-smile and quickly looked away. It’s like we have a teenager already…

-I’m also intrigued by how different the girls are when it comes to school and learning. They’re both very happy there (phew!), but Zoe seems to have more of a natural love for academic work. She’s the type of kid who does her homework without being asked and actually gets sad when she’s on a break from school. Avery, on the other hand, often has to be prompted to do her homework and especially to read (which she is supposed to do 15-25 minutes/night, admittedly a lot for a six-year-old). In school, it can take Avery a bit longer than her sister to get things (note that this could be a product of her being one of the youngest in her class, while Zoe is one of the oldest), and she can be hesitant to pipe up if she needs help. (Her teachers say she appears to do better in a small-group setting than in a large one). But she does wind up getting things and, perhaps most importantly, she does really care: Her teachers report that she is a perfectionist who always wants to get it right and doesn’t give up until she does. So I guess in that respect, she and her sister are alike!

-For the past few months, there’s been a clear pattern with the girls’ play: First thing most mornings, and most afternoons after school, they go in the back room and play Lego Friends, Calico Critters, Barbies, or Groovy Girl dolls. Unless they have a tiff (which does happen) or we have to go somewhere, they could play together for hours. It makes me happy for many reasons: I love that they’re close, that they’ve having fun and just being kids, that they can entertain each other and give me and Q time to do other things. But I’ve felt a bit torn about it lately: If they’re always playing together, that means I’m spending less time with them. And I feel guilty about rarely joining in; I know I should, but I always wind up thinking, “They’re having fun together. Just let them be.” And it is nice to have some kid-free time even when we’re all in the house. I realize as I’m typing that this is a good problem to have, and I know from almost ten years of parenting something else: This is likely a phase, and it won’t last forever. Enjoy it while it lasts, Michelle.


Mothers’ Day in Sonoma

May 13th, 2016

I realize I’m a bit late to this, but last weekend the four of us went up to Sonoma and Napa to celebrate Mothers’ Day. On my wish list was to take the family to a restaurant that serves delicious farm-style breakfasts; I had been there with friends before, but never Q and the girls. We drove up very early to avoid lines, enjoyed some biscuit, grits and other goodies and from there went shopping at the nearby outlets (another thing on my wish list) and took in the pretty Wine Country scenery. We wound up not having the energy to visit a winery, but that was okay: It was a pretty fantastic day.


Zoe and Mommy on Mother's Day

Avery in Sonoma

family at Fremont

Zoe’s ways to calm down

May 11th, 2016

Zoe is overall a happy kid, but she does have her ups and downs. (Let’s just say that we sometimes see pre-hormonal moodiness that I didn’t think would happen for few more years.) One day last week, when she was upset about something, she disappeared into her room for a few minutes and came back with a piece of paper. She had mapped out ways to make herself feel better, she told me, and I suggested she hold on to this for a while…


Zoe's Calm Down chart

Floral creations

May 9th, 2016

During our recent trip to the children’s section of the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the girls got crafty: They used half of a toilet-paper roll and freshly picked flowers and leaves to make bright and cheery pieces of art. I’m particularly fond of Zoe’s creation, below.


girls' flower artwork

Zoe's floral creation

Afternoon in the gardens

May 7th, 2016

Last weekend, with the arrival of sunny and warm weather, the four of us headed to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. As crazy as it is – given that the gardens are 10 minutes from our house and free to San Francisco residents – I had never been! But not surprisingly, we all loved it there – especially the children’s area, where the girls planted sunflowers, sampled various edible flowers, helped with composting and did some artwork. “That was awesome!” Zoe exclaimed as we left, and both girls have already requested a return trip…


Zoe in arboretum

girls at arboretum

children's garden

Avery smiling

Avery planting sunflower

The best 30 cents I’ve ever earned

May 5th, 2016

There was a lot to do when we returned from our trip: namely, laundry, unpacking and getting organized to head back to school. One morning I was, shall we call it, huffing and puffing about how much needed to be done and how frustrated I felt to be the only one doing it. (Everyone pitches in, of course – but it didn’t feel like it in that moment.) Avery came up to give me a hug and tell me, “I”m sorry, Mama. You work really hard. You should get paid for what you do.” She then dug through our coin jar and came back and handed me my earnings: a quarter and a nickel. :)


Hello, South Carolina – one last time

May 3rd, 2016

Some final pics from our trip, including several from our time at Boone Hall Plantation’s annual Strawberry Festival. (As you can see, we kept quite busy during our trip!)


girls hugging

girls on roof2








Water or grass?

May 2nd, 2016

One of the things that most fascinated the girls about Magnolia Plantation was a large pond that doesn’t look like a pond at all: Due to a major moss covering, the water looks like a beautiful field of grass. Here, Zoe shows her method of testing whether the area was water or grass.