Sep 13 2014

Catching Up

Category: Home,Schoolshisoneko @ 9:08 pm

Some snaps from husband—Tashi’s late-in-the-block-party face painting. Fortunately most of it came off, before school the next day! Rio also roaring in the back.


Husband’s thousand-piece puzzle that we collectively (but mostly husband) completed in under a day back in Avalon, and after a 500-piece puzzle was already finished. (These thousand pieces have a back story though, involving Amazon Prime, an address that doesn’t exist correctly on Google Maps, emails with Amazon, and many calls to the local UPS office.)

1,000 pieces

I have been swamped with work. Utterly. But Friday was still Rio’s home day! We met up with Liam for lunch at pizza/bagels and playground by the library. Here we are walking back to the cars.

village hall

Rio on the rocks: “I’m the king of the world!”

village hall


Me, reading a story: “What are baby ponies called?”
Rio, triumphantly: “Unicorns!”
Tashi, snickering.
The book: [Actually] foals.

Tashi’s first entry into her journal since Avalon: “First grade is tiring.” (I didn’t look—she told me.) It’s been a long week for all, with bursting into tears par for the course. Back-to-school night already happened too—her teacher seems very nice and genuinely warm and interested. It’ll be a nice change after the novice teacher for kindergarten. So far she’s had daily homework Monday through Thursday.

Sep 09 2014

Pool Action

Category: Friends,Swimmingshisoneko @ 12:05 am

We switched venues for swim lessons. Mainly because we couldn’t get into semiprivate lessons at the Y. At all, on any day! And we are tiring of the Y. So on a tip from Aniela’s mom we are doing Safesplash, at a local gym. We managed to get what seemed like the last spots for the earliest lesson of the day on Saturday (1130am). And at their levels. It’s four kids to one teacher, so we’ll see how it goes.

For the occasion, we also got new goggles, and Tashi is required to wear a cap:

saturday pool lesson

The rest of Saturday was a bit more challenging. Tashi is manifesting the same kind of negative attention–getting behavior as we had the beginning of last school year. It’s very trying. We’re trying to ignore it. Not very successfully, and Rio is copying, not to get attention per se, but to copy his sister. Sunday there was an Abuelo and Grise visit but I stayed home to work. Then we went to Robin’s.

sunday pool action

I like this photo for the girls negotiating. Tashi had given Sophie a ring from “Frozen” (Olaf, the snowman, and itself borrowed from Mia, whoever that is!) but, naturally, wanted something in return. This is Sophie saying, “Um, no”:


Then we had our annual block party! It’s always the Sunday after Labor Day, starting at 5pm. A bit too late for little kids, but it is what it is.

rainbow duo

Friday was Rio’s first home day of the school year. Husband worked from home, which ended up being useful for me and the load of work I have this month. This is Rio’s Lego creation:


I had a class parent meeting Monday afternoon at which I said to Lily, who is also Chinese-American: “It’s Mid-Autumn Festival! What have you done? I have done nothing!”

After the meeting I biked to the Japanese store (J Mart) in town and got mochi cakes, fortunately nut-free (and labeled!) and looking not unlike full moons. Then, as we’re supposed to do, we crafted a poem (loosely based on a cinquain, from Junie B. book):

Very bright
Glowing rising falling
The moon looks like cheese

As I told Popo, Tashi came up with the last line, which is supposed to be a synonym for moon. I was out of ideas! We got cloud cover early but then it cleared up.

Sep 04 2014

First Day of 1st Grade

Category: Friends,Schoolshisoneko @ 9:32 pm

She doesn’t look that impressed (Tashi) but I recall from last year it took a while to warm up to the new teacher. From all accounts Mrs. Buckler (below) is a nice one, and seasoned (unlike our newbie teacher last year). I hope she’s not TOO nice—Tashi can probably use some talking to!


First day comments: A boy sitting at her table had a peanut bar for snack. She raised her hand saying she had an allergy (when prompted), ate her snack elsewhere, and the table was wiped down afterward.

She liked aftercare more (on-site courtesy the Y). Tashi was most impressed that it costs $200/month for two days a week. If only she knew how much Ivy cost—and costs! She was the last person to be picked up today at 515pm. It goes till 7pm! So I felt badly about that, but then she didn’t want to leave.

The first-morning scrum was still pretty scrum-ful. It’s always hot, crowded, and confusing! Not my best scenario, nor Tashi’s, but we did better this year. Rio kept wanting to bolt from the stroller, which wasn’t helpful. Husband couldn’t make it, but Tashi didn’t seem upset by it! PS I could not get her to wear a dress or skirt and those shorts came from the dirty laundry bin. O well! I’m sure she’ll be back on the “first day of school” outfit thing again soon.


I have a lot of photos of this guy’s backside, below. No idea which child he belongs to. I realize I should crop him out, but it’s also kind of funny. And you get an idea of how crowded it was.


Yup, that’s Kento. And Aniela, who grew three inches in the past year and is now I think taller than Tashi!

Both Amber and I scheduled meetings in the city thinking school would’ve started before today… but we were wrong. I ran into her on the bus on the way back, at least, which was nice! And I discovered some buses have wifi, which can be life-changing if you have your laptop and too much work to do (my case this month).

Gonggong has arrived back safely from his Europe travels. Some photos. I have to ask about the hat!




Sep 01 2014


Category: Swimming,Travelshisoneko @ 9:55 pm

We’re back from our beach week with these snaps to finish out the week. Rio collecting shells Wednesday afternoon:


Coloring… mainly I wanted to show the coloring the kids got—they’re pretty brown!


Husband holding court with the kids (Nina Ping and Sammy included):

hot tubbing

Rio on the beach again Thursday, which we spent all day (well, till 3pm for our family—sister’s and Tish stayed longer!) there:


I needed to get a tennis shot—cooler this day (Friday) than it looked, and that’s Arjun and his dad on the court. Arjun especially was always up for playing!


Friday night dinner (last night) seafood extravaganza: lobster, clams, crab cake! I had to step outside to get everyone in the photo:


Tashi’s seashell necklace, at the offices of our realtor, which we’d returned to after forgetting an important thing in Avalon (ask husband!):

seashell necklace

Lunch in Belmar, to see Tashi’s old teacher who works at Klein’s Fish Market (the bar there) during the summers. Tons of water traffic (kayaks, fishing boats big and small, more) to keep Rio entertained:

water traffic

When we got home the kids were all into making their beds, and more importantly being reunited with their various stuffed animals:

rio bed

Saturday we recovered, Sunday we went to the diner and Fairway and Graydon for an hour before the lightning warning, and Monday—Labor Day—back to Graydon for our last hurrah! It was the last day of the season. Pizza for lunch, ordered with Jamie, Monica, Paola, Anna, Christie, and co.:

last day pizza

Frisbee in the water, which we also hadn’t ever done before:

last day frisbee

And we sat in a different spot too—closer to the four-foot platform!

last day

Welcome home Gonggong! Tomorrow and Wednesday both kids are at Ivy before Travell starts again Thursday.

Aug 27 2014

Typical Avalon Day

Category: Family,Swimming,Travel,Videoshisoneko @ 10:10 am

Much use of the pool and tennis courts.

flotation devices

Tennis a bit hot now with no breeze or clouds, but we’re still making it out. The pool is hard to leave to go to the beach instead. Tashi demonstrated her ability to swim the long way across with proper breathing. Rio’s shrieking is typical, too.

A colleague of husband’s stopped by for pool and lunch en route back from Cape May. Kids also half-Asian so they fit right in, including a very fat and smiley 3-month-old. See if you can ID everyone in these next two photos with the visitors (two of whom also had nut allergies!):

lunch view

lunch view

At the end of the day they’re pretty wiped out. Yesterday we put in a movie pre-early kid dinner, just to get everyone wound down and out of the sun.


Rio managed to sort of sit up for this photo:

sleepy tv

Kid dinner at Oceanside Seafood:



(We last went in 2010 with Sammy and Jack! Check out toddler Tashi and baby Rio!)

Avalon Dinner

the boys

On the walk back to the house we saw a line marking how high the water reached on Dune Drive, one of the main drags and which is 1 1/2 blocks farther from the beach from where we are. Not as tall as Rio:

sandy line

Brother left for Philly last night—we are glad he could come even for a little bit—and brother-in-law is due back from Mexico City today.

Bedtime sometimes looks like this:

eye roll

(Above is genius for Arjun’s expression.)

bedtime reading

And like this, courtesy of Popo:

Apologies it stops suddenly—phone had run out of memory!

Aug 25 2014


Category: Family,Sports,Swimming,Travelshisoneko @ 11:55 am

We got here Saturday. The place we rented is close to town and has a shared court and pool (with saltwater). And a hot tub (pretty key too to warm up from the pool). The neighbor’s mailbox, which we may have to get for our house:


Lots of hot tubbing:

hot tub

Following by pooling:

complex pool

Back to the hot tub:

hot tub

Lots of tennis, too, except no photos—I’ll try to get one. Arjun has been a key tennis partner. Rio and Tashi are still working on their strokes.

A.m. Trouble (haha):

a.m. trouble

Kid dinner Sunday night:


Hot tub maintenance (the quietest they’d been all morning!):

hot tub maintenance

We have been doing many racquet sports on the beach yesterday (kadima), on the court (tennis), and in our yard with the fake grass (badminton). Missing: Gonggong (Europe), brother-in-law (briefly, for a meeting in Mexico), and brother is leaving tomorrow night to go back to work. Tish and Nina Ping have rented a few blocks away. Yay!

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:


Crazy kids on the ride home:

Looming back at home Sunday afternoon:


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


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


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


And my favorite, the footed bus!


An awesome throwback photo I found in my stuff:


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!


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


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:

batter up

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

Screen shot 2014-08-14 at 1.05.56 PM

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:


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:


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:


Tashi not looking at camera for a hello to Rio:


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


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:


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:


Tennis camp report after week one:

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


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.)


Pizza dinner (note the Uggs):


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


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


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


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).


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.


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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