Happy Birthday Nathan!

We had a very big weekend of growing up – Nathan turned 8 yesterday and Sam lost his first tooth on Friday.

He had the tooth Friday before breakfast, then he didn’t have it Friday after breakfast.  The logical conclusion is that he swallowed the tooth.  The tooth fairy visited him at night and left this nice note.

She also left him a dollar, but he lost it before any of the rest of us woke up.  Perhaps appropriate, since we also lost the tooth.  Nathan has stated that the believes that the tooth fairy does exist, since he would wake up if it was Mommy sneaking into his room.

Sam models the Happy BIrthday hats that Jon brought home.

Nathan looks good in it, too.

On Friday, I also brought cupcakes to Nathan’s school to celebrate his birthday.  He was extremely excited and confidently took charge of the cupcake distribution.

Yesterday, we had Nathan’s party at our house.  We had planned to have it at a little lego-themed party place nearby, but they are disorganized and lost our reservation.  This actually worked out great for us, since we decided to turn our train table into a lego table by buying six huge lego base plates and taping them onto the table.

Even before it's attached to the train table, the lego base makes a great stop motion movie studio.

We also made a ramp to roll lego cars down, inspired by the ramp at Legoland that Nathan enjoyed so much.

Sam was especially helpful when I was setting up for the party hanging balloons outside.

He's pretending to use the force on the balloons. And, yes, he was still wearing his tiger jammies when the first guests arrived.

By the standards of child birthday parties, this one was actually kind of mellow.  Several kids couldn’t come, so there were only about 10 kids.  They used the ramp and the lego table some, but they were actually more interested in the magnatiles and the light sabers.

Instead of a cake, Nathan requested chocolate mousse, so I made individual servings of triple chocolate mousse with chocolate lego guys on top.  The white chocolate one is just a generic lego guy.  For some of them, Sam helped me paint the shirt and pants into the molds with cocoa butter and he did a fantastic job, to the point where you can barely tell which ones he did and which ones I did.  The milk chocolate one is meant to be Emmett from the Lego Movie.  The dark chocolate one is a robot henchman from the Lego Movie.

This morning Beeba and Zayde came over for Birthday #2.  They brought Nathan this Lego Master Builder set.

And Sam a little lego set of Emmett and a glider from the Lego Movie, which he spent all day building and finished, to his great delight, right before bedtime.

He exclaimed with joy over the truck wrapping paper.


Beeba and Sam hard at work on the lego set.

Hours later, Ryan and Sam hard at work on the lego set.

They also brought Nathan this magic set, prefaced by Beeba demonstrating a very entertaining magic trick.

Then we went to brunch at Hobbees, where Sam demonstrated just how much more interested he is in coloring than Nathan ever was.

And Nathan played with minifigures.

It was a lovely day, so this afternoon, we went to the park in our complex for the first time in a while.

Last weekend we went to a kids’ museum called CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point.

Sam frolicking in the park.

Nathan frolicking in the park.

We got there just in time to see the Reptile Show.  Nathan volunteered to pet the bearded dragon.

They both pet the boa constrictor.

There were also otters.

And we met this ferret.

But the big attraction was this exhibit of various kinds of gears and levers.

Sam also enjoyed the area with pipe sections to build with. This is Chewbacca's crossbow.

We also recently rediscovered Ryan’s label maker.

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Two exciting weekends

We went to see the Lego Movie last weekend.  It was actually really good, even for the adults.  The song “Everything is Awesome!” has now become a key feature in our lives.  We’ve had several Awesome-centric dance parties.

We came home from the movie and immediately dumped out every Lego in the house.

We also tried an acrylic painting technique on my truck.

No, we didn't wash the entire truck, just a few little patches.

We took a drive up to San Francisco to see Noah.  After a short stop at Noah’s house, we all took a train to the Exploratorium.

The train was a very exciting experience for Sam. It went through a tunnel and Sam was utterly fascinated by the idea that we were really underground.

This is a toilet made into a drinking fountain. Sam was hesitant to try it, but after I tried it he did, too. A dad who was standing nearby gave Sam a great "Ewww!" response, after which Sam was, of course, delighted and showed off his drinking from a toilet fountain to anyone else in the vicinity who would pay attention to him.

This is a fascinating machine that calculates square roots using a ball bearing rolling down a ramp. Sam loved it and played with it for quite a while, even showing another kid how it worked.

Infared Sam.


Multiple Sams.

Multiple Sams.

I have very few pictures of Nathan at the Exploratorium because his museum speed is very different than Sam's museum speed.


On Friday, Nathan’s class gave a recital, singing a lot of songs about earth science, including “Fossils” set to the tune of “Gone, Gone, Gone.”  Nathan did a great job.  He was also the wiggliest in the class by a wide margin.

This is before the performance actually started but it nicely captures Nathan's overall demeanor.

Sam poses proudly with Nathan after the concert.

Last night as Sam was going to bed he asked first Ryan and then me where the first people came from.  It’s an excellent question, but we had to give him an extremely succinct explanation of evolution, as it was after 8:00 since we had stayed up late to eat nachos and watch MST3K’s This Island Earth.

This morning we went to a fundraising run at Nathan’s school.  Ryan and Jon ran the 5K.  Jon, having been inadvertently registered as a woman, was the third fasted in the women’s 30 – 30 category.  Ryan was ninth in the same category.  Nathan, Sam, and I showed up just in time to watch Jon and Ryan finish the race.  Nathan later ran in the second grade boys quarter mile.  He finished the race an enthusiastic last place, upholding the family aptitude for sporting events.  Sam was registered in the pre-K race, but he refused to run.  He had a good time though.  Hobbee’s had donated a lot of coffee cake, so he ate two pieces and dropped one piece on the ground.  There was also a Nestle Quik truck there, passing out free bottles, complete with a guy in a bunny costume.  Sam especially enjoyed tweaking the bunny’s tail then running away giggling.

The bunny looks extremely creepy in this picture.

Giggly Sam enjoys teasing the bunny.

Nathan ready for his race.

Sam, less interested in the race than he is in playing with the cones.

Playing on the structure.

All in all, a busy week or two.  Of course, most of them are.

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Stuff I uploaded from my phone

I just uploaded some photos from the last six months or so from my phone.  Here are some highlights:

From October - look how focused on their pumpkin carving they both are!

From November - Nathan bounds happily around a giant trampoline playground.

Also from November - Sam was less initially convinced by the trampoline playground. He came around eventually.

From November - oh so snuggly.

From December - Sam packed into a box.

From January - Nathan strikes a pose with a cheese hat.

From February - Ryan and Jon left me in charge for a weekend. I fed them root beer floats for lunch.

- and we played with Nathan's new rainbow loom. Rainbow loom bracelets are beautiful.

- and we had a movie night. We're eating nachoes and watching the MST3K Mole People. We have since instituted a weekly MST3K movie night every Friday.

From February - Ryan and I took them to see The Cat in the Hat at Palo Alto Youth Theater. They were selling these awesome hat cookies afterwards.

I was feeding them dinner. I asked them what color their drinks should be. Nathan asked for blue milk. Sam asked for orange water. I love food coloring.

From February - Nathan tries his first Fun Dip that he received for Valentine's Day.

- Sam is in favor of Fun Dip as well.

- Blue tongues for everyone! They both squealed with joy when they saw them in the mirror.


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Mostly Legos

Our Christmas preparation is in high gear.  Sam has done most of the tree trimming, which means that the top third of the tree is almost entirely bare.  Yesterday, we hung up the lights outside.  I hung the big wreath outside the door to nowhere using zip ties and Sam wanted to help, so we now also have an extraneous red plastic lei zip tied to the railing alongside the wreath.

Lego have been front and center lately.

Sam and Ryan work on a Lego set.

Nathan and Gramps work on a Lego set.

Nathan spent several hours this weekend making a stop-motion movie using his Star Wars Legos.  I’m not sure whether Ryan has figured out how to export it yet.  My favorite part is the light saber battle.  Ryan and I served as cinematographers; Jon was drafted to help with special effects (holding a space craft to make it look like it was flying); and even Sam helped by standing in the shafts of sunlight to improve the lighting.  Sam also contributed a little Lego creation that we dubbed the Turkey Leg Robot – because its legs are little Lego turkey legs – that was used as a spy droid in the movie.

We also went to a Star Wars exhibit at the Tech Museum recently, which featured both real props from the movies and hands-on activities about real science and engineering related to the movies.  The boys were both very engaged.  I spent the whole time with Sam, so I only have pictures of him.

Sam at the Star Wars exhibit experimenting with different size legs on his "robot."

Yesterday we went to a huge Lego train exhibit, where Nathan delighted in finding the Wall-Es.  (There were 5.)  We decided that we need a family membership to the Bay Area Lego Club.

Sam and Ryan enjoy the Lego display.

Nathan marvels at the Legos, too.


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Thanksgiving and trampolines

Calvin and Hobbes remain a favorite. Nathan sometimes uses them to practice his reading. And we frequently play Calvin and Hobbes, mostly with me being Rosalyn the mean babysitter, while they hide out in their treehouse and watch TV and eat cookies. And cut the rope whenever Rosalyn tries to climb up the ladder.

Sam has been doing a lot of drawing lately. This isn't a great picture, but here he's drawing the clock on the wall, very carefully looking back and forth between the clock and the paper just like a learned to do in my college drawing classes.

The completed drawing. Sam mentioned how difficult it was since the numbers kept changing.

It actually rained here for a few days, resulting in many worms on the school playground, which Nathan delightedly gathered up.

Sam proudly helping me carry things into the house after I picked him up from his playdate at a friend's house (his first playdate, I think). They apparently had a great time. When I came in, they informed me that they were pirates. Then Sam showed me a game that they played and he told me how good he and Afik were at the game and how bad Afik's mom was.

Sam, Ryan, and I went to Nathan's Thanksgiving concert at his school.

I didn't get a great picture of Nathan, unfortunately.

Nathan writing on the smart board in his classroom.

Snuggling together in my bed, which frequently serves as Calvin and Hobbes's treehouse.

We took the boys to a trampoline place this weekend. I failed to get a non-blurry photo of Nathan because he didn't stop moving the entire time. There were some teenage boys there doing flips and tricks. Nathan kept running up to them wanting to be bros and they were super nice to him. He would congratulate them on their cool moves and they would thank him. One of them had a kind of trampoline snowboard which he demonstrated for Nathan. Then Nathan told one of them, who had just done a backflip, that he could do the same trick, only not in the air. The guy asked Nathan to show him and Nathan did a somersault and the guy acted suitably impressed.

This was Sam's initial response to the trampolines, but once we persuaded him to try he loved it until he bumped into another little boy and they both cried. Ryan told Sam that they should keep one little boy per trampoline square and Sam corrected her, saying, "One little boy OR GIRL!"

After the trampoline place, we had lunch at Hobee's, where Nathan ran into his friend Zane, who came over for an awesome playdate.


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Biking and drawing

Bike riding continues to go well.  Last weekend, Nathan, Sam, Ryan, and I biked along the little bike bridge to a park.

The ride may have been a bit ambitious for Sam.  He refused to ride on the way back, so he and Ryan made it back considerably after Nathan and I.  Today we put hooks in the garage to hang all the bikes and then Nathan and I took a lap of the neighborhood and then Sam and I took a lap of the neighborhood.  Sam did extremely well, though I spent most of the ride pushing my bike along with my foot rather than actually riding, since his bike is so slow.  Ryan suggested that I walk instead of biking but Sam insisted that I bike since Nathan got to bike with me.

Other recent highlights:

Nathan found this large pine cone on the way to school, declared it a tunnel borer, and proceeded to dig holes with it. It actually worked quite well.

The cleaning crew at the gas station. The lady at the next pump was so impressed with them that she suggested that they could do her car next.

Sam has been doing a lot of very careful drawing lately. Here he works on his latest drawings while standing in a large box that I ordered for them to play in. Actually, there was some other stuff in the box when it was delivered, but obviously nothing half so exciting as the box itself.

Beeba and Zayde came to visit today. Beeba, Nathan, and Sam worked on this awesome collaborative drawing. It includes Nathan in his pajamas holding a light saber, two Sams (presumably having gone through Calvin's Duplicator), a monster with crab claw hands, and the King of the Imps complete with fins, wings, a pointy devil tail, stripey legs, and a crown

Sam's sidewalk drawings. Clockwise from top left: 1) a boat; 2) Sam with a happy face; 3) "no nighttime"; 4) a maze; 5) "yes morningtime." Sam told me that morning was his favorite time of day because then he has the whole day to play. Apparently, he was sad that it was getting on towards evening when he drew these.

Sam with his drawing of "an American flag boat."




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New bike!

I haven’t really ridden a bike since junior high, but Nathan has been pressing for family bike rides, so I definitely now have a need for a bike.  Mom and Dad sent my a birthday check for me to get a bike and today Jon and I went to the bike shop!

Nathan and I took two laps around the neighborhood together and we’re planning a bigger family ride tomorrow.  Apparently it’s true that you don’t actually forget how to ride a bike, but I do have some work to do to get back up to my old level of comfort on the bike.

In other news, we grew this amazing crystal tree today.

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Happy Halloween!

This morning Ryan, Nathan, Sam, and I went to the Halloween costume parade at Nathan’s school.

Here the two Vaders indulge in a little early morning light saber battle.

But they hug it out afterwards.

The parade was quite a production.  Sam found it a bit overwhelming.

We went to Sara’s to trick-or-treat because her neighborhood is clearly the best.  Even Ryan got dressed up.  She’s Ninjini, from Skylanders Giants.

The boys had a great time trick-or-treating, including at the place that essentially was a carnival complete with a live band in someone’s front yard.  Then we went back to Sara’s to eat pizza and Nathan VERY enthusiastically handed out candy to other kids.  Since Sara’s yard was decorated as fabulously as always, he especially liked demonstrating the creepy mechanical kid that waved its arms and talked when you touched its head and pointing out that the glowing spider looked like it was farting when the fog machine behind it went off.

And everyone ate A LOT of candy and then collapsed.

Note that the patches on Sam’s costume are new.  He cut and colored themselves last night.  I helped tape them on, but otherwise it was all him.

We also carved pumpkins yesterday.  Sam worked very carefully and intently, even using the little saws to cut numbers into his pumpkin.

Sam tried to give a pumpkin to Charlotte, which was very sweet.

In other news, Grandma and Gramps sent us a huge box of Calvin and Hobbes books.  It was greeted with great delight.  So far, we’re about half way through one of the ten books, so we should be set for reading material for a while.  On the way to trick-or-treat today Nathan told me that Calvin and Hobbes was his favorite book and Bill Watterson is his favorite author.

The other day, Nathan came home crying because he hadn’t gotten a muffin at Sam’s preschool.  So we got out Grandma’s chocolate chip muffin recipe, but I didn’t have chocolate chips, so we used a variety of Wilton candy melts.  The boys were both extremely helpful, measuring, mixing, and scooping out the batter (even though Sam doesn’t look it in this picture.)


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The capes are here …

… and they’re fabulous!

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My new TV for my room was delivered today, providing us with this delightful box.

Inspired by our recent reading of the Calvin and Hobbes where they go to Mars and are scared by a little tentacled martian, the box soon became a rock for martians to hide in.  Note Nathan’s eye stalks, which he made himself.  I should have taped them to his head with weaker tape because apparently they hurt being peeled off. 

This eventually developed into a martian school game, where Nathan (aka Bio) and Sam (initially aka Blobby Blob, later aka something else goofy I can’t remember) aliens drew pictures of their families.

Sam’s shows, from left to right, his daddy, himself, his mommy, and the things that go Glurk from Dr. Suess.  The scribbles inside of them are food.  The smaller dot inside daddy is his blood.

Nathan’s shows, from left to right, his dad, his little brother, himself, and his mom.  Note how he’s captured the real family dynamic – he is spazzing out, his mom is really excited, his dad is trying to distance himself from the crazy, and his little brother looks confused and concerned.

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