Aug 19 2014

Back at Home

Category: Animals,Art,Family,Friends,Home,Music,Sports,Travel,Videoshisoneko @ 2:16 pm

Some snaps from the last few days in PA and then back at home. Tashi is happy to be back! We inadvertently forgot to leave Yoshi water over the weekend, but she caught up—and we’ll never forget again!

Tennis pickup: This is after their names are spoken into a walkie talkie and as they are escorted to the car, usually by two people. Arjun’s name was always ArJUNE.

tennis pickup

Supermarket run. The younger two convinced Rohan to drive this very large cart but he got them to strap in:

supermarket trolley

Playing war, which more often than not got a little testy:

this is war

Rio and Daddy arrive, and we hit the middle school playground (empty as usual!). Tashi finally gets how to pump her legs to get going:

finally getting the swing thing!

Tennis second week report:

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Crazy kids on the ride home:

Looming back at home Sunday afternoon:

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Dominoeing (I liked how Rio was resting on his hands):

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Some awesome Rio artwork while I was in PA, this one from camp with a nice signature:

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Star Wars-y and crafty (he would work on art in the a.m., husband says):

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And my favorite, the footed bus!

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An awesome throwback photo I found in my stuff:

throwback!

Gonggong is in Europe, and I’m in L.A. this week visiting my friend Sateeb (whose book party I’d gone to San Francisco for a few years ago). We walked the dog he and Dylan are dog-sitting. Lulu is Yoshi-like! Very feline and snuggly and quiet. Actually more quiet than Yoshi!

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Here’s Dylan’s apartment which is in the American Cement Building, oft-used in film and photo shoots:

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Eg, as in this Pharrell video:


Aug 14 2014

Week Three

Category: Animals,Family,Music,Sports,Videoshisoneko @ 12:31 pm

The scene when I arrived Sunday afternoon:

car wash with cousin

car washing

Honestly, I was kind of twiddling my thumbs right after I got here, my sister was handling them all fine. Then they left and I had maybe a day’s grace period, but the wheels came off Monday night into Tuesday, and so Tuesday I finally moved Tashi from her solo guest room next to the boys in a shared room back over to our side of the house (the addition, and separate from the boys). She has been sleeping better (longer), which is awesome, and I got over feeling like I was disrupting the schedule or denying her cousin time. I think they’re all sleeping better!

Rio at Adlai’s the same afternoon, with husband on dad duty:

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I can’t explain what is going on here with Rio but it looks like fun for everyone else!

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After getting lunch/water ready and lubing up with sunblock and bug spray, saying good morning to Buddha:

morning mantra

Dropoff at the tennis camp is an insane experience for those of us used to (mostly) walking with the kids. Cars line up, kids are met at the cars, and then walked with counselors. All along there is staff with walkie-talkies directing you when to drive, when to park, when to drive again, and you never leave your car. It’s a seriously well-oiled machine. Also, the private school where the camp is feels and looks like a college campus—huge and sparkling and clean. (Tuition starts at $21K.) They even printed “NO CELL PHONES” and “NO IDLING” onto the school flags lining the campus streets!

After Popo showed me where everything is I have been driving them mostly, although I am not able to (yet) replicate the Green Tara mantra she has them do while in car line. (She also drove Gonggong to and from the airport for his trip returning from Cleveland and then onto Brussels.) Sister took a photo when she helping out with car duty last Friday:

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Here is Rohan Monday on the first day of art camp (Tashi and Arjun continued on for a second week of tennis):

wayne art center

Rohan’s first-day haul of pottery—the five bowls in front are his—and yah, you wear clothes that can get muddy:

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Apparently you only get to glaze five. In the first two days he made something like 19 pieces. I don’t know how he’ll decide!

More pottery from Wednesday:

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Tashi not looking at camera for a hello to Rio:

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And this is from the week of Chinese camp that I neglected to post:

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I admit this week seems LOADS easier with three older kids vs. two younger kids. (Also, camp—both of them—goes till 3pm!) I am super enjoying time with my nephews, talking with them about (no joke) science, math, art, music, books, and animals (I have passed on my addiction for live-streamed animal cams, like this one featuring a panda in Edinburgh. The resolution has much improved since I watched baby snow leopards a few years ago.) We (they) are also doing Kumon and reading and piano, but I haven’t had much luck getting Tashi to do her journal. She always has her nose in a book though. A couple times we made it out to play late-afternoon tennis. Rohan has been great with Tashi—more patient than her mom!

Piano practice:

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Rohan had started with her with zero prompting from me, while Arjun waited so we could go play tennis.

Despite all the seriously great cousin bonding, I think Tashi will be ready to go home—three weeks is a long time! And we will see them again in Avalon at the end of the month. Husband and Rio and sister and brother-in-law all arrive tomorrow, Friday, for the weekend.

Happy birthday today to Nina Ping! (A day before Amber’s!)


Aug 10 2014

Mastermind, Mountain

Category: Art,Family,Friends,Music,Swimmingshisoneko @ 8:05 pm

Some snaps from the weekend from sister, who arrived in PA Thursday night.

Piano practicing:

Masterminding:

Tennis camp report after week one:

Meanwhile, back in NJ, more Rio and his artwork:

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Saturday we went to Robin’s just-finished pool again as I invited ourselves over—again! (And we’d come straight from Graydon earlier in the afternoon.)

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Pizza dinner (note the Uggs):

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And near the mountain that is in the as-yet-unfinished back yard, husband’s gesture that says it all:

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Sister and Amrish took the kids to Office Depot, Ikea, and then Chanticleer Saturday:

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Sunday they went on a walk (two miles, long for Tashi, but Rohan got her to finish) along the Schuykill and then crepes with brother. I’m in PA having taken Amtrak down Sunday afternoon. Trying to maintain Tashi’s relative equilibrium. She needs to learn to rinse out her hair fully. It is thick and heavy with conditioner. I may have to just remove using it from her routine. The four of us played some card game called Kemps (?) for nearly an hour tonight. Rio went with husband to Adlai’s barbecue while I was on the train. I’ll update with photos!


Aug 08 2014

Mushball

Category: Art,Cats,Family,Friends,Videoshisoneko @ 7:46 am

The best part about this short video is Rio’s drawing of Yoshi, aka Mushball (Soup).

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Tashi seems to be doing great at Popo and Gonggong’s—“very independent” according to all reports and showering by herself. Rohan and Arjun are both being great big brothers, keeping her on task with piano and sunscreen, and Popo says she writes in her journal while they do their Kumon.

They’ve been doing experiments like microwaving vitamin gummies and chocolate (we don’t have a microwave at home); here they are replenishing Tashi-safe (nut-free) chocolate at Trader Joe’s, a photo courtesy of sister, who went back down Thursday night.

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Meanwhile, I managed to do one playdate for Rio during his week home solo, at Luca’s house. No pool photos—too difficult to capture! Watching “Octonauts” after pool, pizza (and big sister Sophie):

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Aug 04 2014

Cousins Arrive!

Category: Family,Friends,Language,Sports,Videoshisoneko @ 2:16 pm

Friday evening, along with husband. I’d taken the kids to see “Planes” in the afternoon after Chinese camp ended, while everyone else was in bad summer Friday/weekend traffic compounded by flash T-storms. The kids liked the movie though, and at 1 hr 23 min, the perfect length! Rio’s leg still fell asleep though thanks to the poorly designed booster seat.

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Brother-in-law’s pop also came along to visit—a great conversational partner for Gonggong.

The last day of Chinese camp involved a presentation for family: Rio I was unable to get a non-blurry photo, and both kids pulled long angry faces at discovering I videotaped them! I said it was for Daddy, which only just slightly mitigated it. Strange actually they cared so much about whether or not they were filmed.

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Rio had lines to memorize, you can’t really hear him but sort of get the point:

They learned how to write some characters—I was surprised that Rio wrote “up” and “down” without prompting! Tashi said her performance was fan dancing and “boring”—I have to say I rather agree, but they only had four days to prep anything. She was more interested in the Chinese yoyo, so maybe we’ll get her one for next year’s international expo in school.

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I think I mentioned I’ve been going through all sorts of correspondence I’d accrued since we moved from Illinois to Maryland (so, late 70s, no joke). I also found my kindergarten class photo. (Note the year. Most of my current mom friends, including Tine, hadn’t even been born!)

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Maria is one friend from that period (Maryland) who I’m still in contact with, perhaps not unrelated to the fact she now lives nearby. We had a catchup/read each other’s saved letters and notes while the kids trampolined, husband read books, Rio colored, and then the Hoberman sphere came out. They are making funny faces here:

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Tashi stayed behind in PA as of Sunday evening to start tennis camp (two weeks!) today, with her cousins. I go back down for the 2nd week. I am worried about her sun exposure as she wilted in the sun so quickly even at the end of the day when the sun was lower in the sky. I hope she likes it!

Happy anniversary to Popo and Gonggong!


Jul 30 2014

Cup Art, Duplos, Tennis

Category: Family,Language,Parenting,Sports,Videoshisoneko @ 8:20 pm

A typical morning:

Gonggong: Why was Rio crying?
Me: He is 4 and irrational. Today it was wanting to keep playing and being worried someone would put away his toys or that he’d forget to play when he got home.

Tashi at least enjoyed the noodles they made during the cooking part of camp:

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Tashi holding some cup art, Rio and his Duplo creation:

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We actually shot a long video about how to make the cup, in parts, for husband, to calm her down the first afternoon. It’s too long to post. Rio owl-bombed the entire time.

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They are most out of sorts at pickup, not unlike pickup at Ivy when they are tired. But, all things considered, they seem to be liking Chinese camp, and ending at 130pm isn’t as short a day as I’d feared. (Popo has pretty much eliminated the house maintenance part of my time—xie xie!!) The camp is a short drive, and lunchtime is included (food that we provide), so there’s no mad scramble to feed them as soon as we get home.

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We have been attempting a daily schedule of reading, writing, practicing something, physical activity, a home chore, and good eating. Tashi is racing through the books sister had given us a while back—the Littles, Horrid Henrys, and now the Enid Blytons (finally). For each day this week there are themes I’d cribbed from a homeschool blogger but they have sort of gone by the wayside, eg “make it Monday,” “Tuesday trip” (ours was only to Trader Joe’s—and somewhat of a disaster as there weren’t free lollies as at the one we usually go to), “wet Wednesday” (we did water balloons), “thinking Thursday” (I have NO idea what to do for it), and “fun Friday.” I am hoping the new Pixar is showing somewhere close for that one.

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We have gotten into the habit of doing tennis at the high school, which is nearly always completely empty, at around 430 or 5pm so I can wear them out even more so they go to sleep pretty immediately in the shared room. As for the actual tennis, let’s just say Tashi can only improve after tennis camp the next two weeks, and Rio basically chases a ball around several courts. They tire out after usually only 10 to 20 minutes, sit and suck on Ricolas and drink water, and I hit a bunch of serves for a while. Then I send them running back and forth on the grassy field next to the courts to doubly make sure they are tired! Today they played in their still-wet swim clothes since I knew the sun would dry them right out, even at 5pm.

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We come home and they watch about 20 minutes of a long animated version of Siddhartha’s life as their daily dose of TV and so they each eat an apple-orange squeezer. By this time, too, Popo already has dinner ready (Tashi: dumplings, rice and seaweed, chicken; Rio: bacon, cheese, crackers, chicken, seaweed—but, I did do waffles with honey one night too). They’re usually in bed around 8 or even a little later, which is much later than usual but if they aren’t super tired it gets worse as they chat and jump around the room and I have zero, zero patience for that at nearly 9pm.

Meanwhile I have been cleaning out boxes of books and papers and other dead-tree ephemera from college, high school, and even earlier. I am quite confident I will never be sifting through emails, tweets, and Instagram (I’m not on it anyway!) like this. Which is good and bad.

Rio’s koala drawing for me (with a baby):

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Jul 27 2014

Three Weeks in PA

Category: Family,Videoshisoneko @ 7:34 pm

We’ve started our three-week jaunt in PA. Actually Rio is here this first week, me weeks one and three, and Tashi all three. Week one is Chinese camp till 130pm (!), and weeks two and three is tennis camp (till 3pm) that Rohan and Arjun do every year and which we are trying for the first time with Tashi. Husband will be back this weekend, and sister will be here weekends, and I’ll be back for the last week. Fortunately, our college-age sitter across the street doesn’t go back to school till later in August so we have help with pickup when I’m down here.

This was during the drive down Saturday:

thumbs up

owlies on the move

Rio’s serious (or maybe it was funny?) face:

making faces

Some Lego swordplay with Gonggong:

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The first night sleeping here sharing a room is always a tough one for the kids, compounded by a late night Friday too at Amber’s and an attempt at family tennis in the late afternoon sun on Saturday. (We all wilted.) That said, the kids still woke up Sunday at 510am and never really went back to sleep. But they were in bed tonight by 7pm. Tashi passed out mid-complaint about not being able to read in bed when sharing a room.


Jul 21 2014

Behold, the Ducks

Category: Family,Videoshisoneko @ 9:47 pm

The Duck Derby (second annual) was Saturday! Here are our four (from left: Tashi, me, Rio, husband):

ducks

Tashi’s got a bit more decorated after the photo—and then got lost. Tashi swears she saw it escape through the net. Husband’s finished in the top 25.

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Kevin came out Saturday afternoon to spend the night. He has been teaching in the city for Girls Who Code (a three-week leave of absence from his job), and was solo after sister and family (whom he has been staying with) headed for Maine for a week. He took over jumping-platform duty in the not-quite-warm-enough temps—and is the reason we have this family photo on the bridge waiting for the ducks to race:

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I had spent the morning working at the estate sale at Roger’s house. Sad, but good to chat with many of Roger’s friends and family, who came in from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and closer to empty out the house that has been in the family for 72 years. I ended up with some sheet music, glassware and other kitchen stuff, dominoes, and playing cards—all vintage.

On Sunday we took the ferry out to the city:

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And then a bus ride downtown to the 9/11 Memorial. We found Adrie’s dad’s name on the north side. (She got into Harvard early!) This is the view from the west. The footprints of each of the two World Trade Center towers are now memorial waterfalls. (UPDATE: In case you are wondering, we did attempt to tell the kids what happened there, describing it as bad guys who wanted to hurt America because they didn’t like what America stands for, such as freedom and equality for girls, as well as resentful of America being arrogant and telling smaller countries what to do. Not sure it sank in, although Tashi asked about it again later.)

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After a riverside lunch (and a surprisingly clean, shaded, and sand-stocked playground), we happened upon this Irish famine memorial that I’d also never seen before:

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The expressions alone are genius:

That’s the new Freedom Tower in the background, the tall shiny one in the back.

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We were wiped out after our day in the city, even though the weather was perfect (low humidity). The kids got back yard haircuts before bedtime, which unfortunately means Tashi can’t do her own hair in a ponytail anymore. Oops!


Jul 18 2014

The Week in Review

Category: Friends,Health,Sports,Swimming,Videoshisoneko @ 9:13 pm

Rohan’s home! Picked up on Friday (by sister) from sleep-away camp after three weeks.

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Pool on Friday… gymnastics on the sand!

Husband had taken a summer Friday to help (a LOT) with the dentist, which was in the morning. Alas, Tashi has yet another cavity, in a back tooth, making it six total, despite all our efforts with flossing and fluoride. She inherited our closely packed teeth. Rio also got X-rays for the first time, and was fine—fortunately!

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I was in the city this week and saw Jenn and the girls—both walking!—as well as Tish for lunch. (And got a haircut.) I also started tennis lessons via the village with a book club friend. The first two classes got rained out, but we finally had a lesson this week, and it felt great to whack a ball in a serve over and over again!

Friday kid dinner dessert! Outdoors for half an ice cream sandwich till I realized we were being swarmed by skeeters.

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Creative PJ-wearing from Tashi. Can you spot the naked Rio?

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Jul 15 2014

Visits to the Pool

Category: Friends,Swimmingshisoneko @ 9:23 pm

This is totally a classic Rio expression:

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As is this:

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Reminds me of this photo—Rio always gazing up at his sister!

Aislinn came to visit with Cassius and Landis Saturday (Jeffery works weekends). At one point it was just Cassius (the blond one) and me, and he said, Do you know who I am? Who are you? I said, But of course, and, I’m Tashi’s mom!

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From March 2009:

cash + tash

The day before, Dara came to visit with Sammy, who was the only one ready for this photo:

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Sunday we did NOT go to Graydon (but to Abuelo and Grise’s), making for a very long afternoon at home when it didn’t actually end up raining. I got out the kiddie pool and they played in it with the water guns we’d gotten at Target that morning, which killed about a half hour max. We also played dominoes. Tashi is super-competitive! And so she and husband won—tied. The kids were so not interested in the World Cup final, beyond registering that Arjun-tina ultimately lost.

Tashi has been getting bitten up at camp (despite wearing bug spray), and Rio has been coming home with interesting math tidbits, like “two plus two plus two is six,” and “four plus four is eight.” In other news, we had the final inspection for the master bath on Friday! Phase 1.5 finally DONE. And cicada-shell season has started. As with finding loose change around, Rio freaks out when Tashi spots more than he does.


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