Kung Fu FIghting

Were all tired out from a long weekend. We’ve just finished a healthy dinner of fried hotdogs and left over pupusas. Here is some dinnertime conversation about our day and from where each kid has inherited their talents.

Me: Leo, what did you do with your friend in the park today?
Leo: Mostly we played on the really fun twisty slide.
Lucy: Well I told you to go on the slide because you were too scared.
Dad: Well I gave you the genes to give you the courage to do things like that Lucy and Leo’s mom gave him the cautious genes.
Lucy: You DID NOT give me any jeans. Neither of you gave me ANY jeans.

In truth, Leo is not that cautious. Nor am I. Come on. But Leo is sensitive not to hurt other people’s feelings. For example, he did something nice the other day, I can’t remember what, and when I asked him where he got his nice side from in perhaps a leading fashion …

Me: Leo, you are so nice. Where did you inherit this from? Me?
Leo responded in a very characteristically nice way.
Leo: I got it from everybody.

In other news, we now move on to the title of the post, Kung Fu. The kids got their red/yellow belts in Kung Fu last night. We are new to martial arts and I had never heard of this half step belt before. Before yesterday they were yellow belts. Now they are halfway to red belts with red/yellow belts. I’m not sure if it is a real thing outside this studio or a way for the studio to earn an extra $80 for the cost of a test but it was a proud moment for us, nonetheless.

It was the first belt test at the big studio over in Sunnyvale. The way it worked is about 30 kids sit in one corner. Each got called in front of 3 judges to do their moves while a bunch of parents watched. All with some light pop music playing in the background. The humor was not lost on me when the first kid went out there and in the background you hear the lovely melody from the 1970s “… oh-hoh-hoh-hoh … well they were Kung Fu fighting … fast as lighting …

Leo takes Kung Fu very seriously and practices every day. He told us he was nervous in advance. But then he went out there and just nailed it.

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Lucy also did great but she has a much more happy go lucky approach to life. Didn’t seem nervous. Also not phazed by any mess ups.

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In both cases it was neat because they had worked hard and then had a nice achievement. I thought it would be great fun to go out to ice cream after Kung Fu but everyone else just wanted to go to bed. We planned to go out for ice cream instead today but then went to a birthday party and have now each had at least four desserts so I think the ice cream is on hold.

Life goes on in the areas of trying to raise healthy, happy, children. We have been exercising together as a family. Caleb has been doing the 7 minute workout with the kids. Sometimes Lucy also likes to set up with me when I do push-ups and sit-ups. When Lucy was doing her push-ups the other day I suggested that she bend her arms more and try to get her nose to the ground like I do. But Lucy explained me: “well that is easier for you because your nose is bigger than mine.”

I respectfully disagree that that is why push-ups are easier for me. I have never heard of large noses as a push up advantage. Lucy is totally discounting all the practice I have been putting in.

The kids have also been talking about crushes recently. Leo is frustrated because Kirby said he had a crush on Annapurna and Annapurna said she had a crush on Kirby and that makes playing together as a threesome less fun.

“Wha-ut?” Lucy responds “Ewan and I have a crush on each other.”
“No you don’t”, Caleb and I explain, “you’re just good friends.”
“Well, we don’t annoy each other that much. So that means we have a crush on each other,” Lucy explains.
Maybe that 6 year old has a point. Not-annoying-each-other-too-much makes the world go round.

Love is in the air. Lucy’s piano teacher recently got engaged. “Mom, Mom, come here!” Lucy shouts during her piano lesson. When I go over to where Lucy and her teacher are sitting, Lucy says “I want to compare your rings.”

Well, we were all thinking it right?

At this advanced age I am actually not thinking such things but I wonder how Lucy knew the worst thing you are to say to a newly engaged woman? After the side by side I explained to Lucy that she probably should not do that. It didn’t really make sense to her. Why not?

Since I’m tired, I’ll end now with a picture from last week’s tiring weekend. That is Lucy smashing wasp eggs in an oak gall. (You can read more on the entomology here). She feels bad for the wasps. Not so bad, I don’t think.

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Spring Party

On Saturday we accidentally hosted a spring party that did not raise money for a bunny.

Huh? Here’s how:

The other day Lucy came home from school* and told us that she and Kaya were having a spring party to raise funds for Kaya’s bunny. So I asked, “Does Kaya have a bunny?” “No, Kaya needs to raise money so she can get a bunny,” Lucy explained. Since I’m not Kaya’s mom, and I do not have to take care of the bunny, this seemed like a great idea, so we got straight to helping Kaya raise her funds.

Obviously I’m just kidding.

But it did seem that somebody got straight to work, because in our inbox was an email to all the parents from Lucy’s teachers saying some kids were organizing a spring party and it was this Saturday at 11:00 at Mitchell Park. The specificity sure made it sound like we were on the hook for organizing this spring party.

Like a good organizer I checked in with with Kaya’s mom. Did she know about the bunny? “Yes”. Was the party for the bunny? “No, Kaya is doing chores for the bunny”. Was she planning the party? “Let’s do potluck”. So all my organizing was done. I figured I’d pick something up on the way.

Saturday comes along and 30 minutes before the party Lucy says, “we have to pick the oranges. I promised to bring orange juice to the party to raise money for the bunny”. Now if you don’t live in California picking oranges from the tree in your yard and making orange juice is actually not such a crazy idea. Making it 10 minutes before a potluck is no so realistic. So we decided to buy some orange juice along the way.

We arrived at the park and it was quite a bit chillier than I would have liked for a spring party but there was a new playground in the park so actually no organizing was required. The kids played in the playground. The parents shivered around the potluck. A former teacher of Leo and Lucy’s came. A lovely time was had by all. Here is a picture of everyone near the party sign.

And that is the story of the accidental spring party that did not raise money for a bunny.

* “School” refers to Wildchild Free School, the Nature program the kids attend
** “Teacher” means “Guide”, the person of authority at Wild Child Free School.

Sweetness, Weddings and more …

As I tucked Leo into bed last night we had this exchange.

Me: I’m glad you had such a great day, Leo.
Leo: I always have a great day.
Leo: I think I may have had a bad day once, but I can’t really remember it.

I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy from that sweet sentiment. A sweet sentiment to start out a sweet post. I promise to end with a sweet sentiment of Lucy’s after a long and meandering update. But now let’s turn to another sweet topic … donuts.

Healthy Eating

Those are my Mother’s Day donuts from Sunday (minus a few that have already been munched). Mother’s Day started with only one box of donuts. The pink box on the right. But as you can see there really are only 4 or so types of donuts in that dozen so I had to send Caleb back to the store to buy more because when it comes to donuts I always want to have a bite of each kind and I need lots of variety.

Mothers day was awesome. We invited over another mother whose husband was away so I did not get to eat all the donuts myself.

But the company was worth sharing a few donuts for. Here is where my plate wound up.

Despite his mother’s sweet tooth (or sugar tooth as Lucy calls it), Leo is turning out to be a very health conscious kid. He will tell us things like he does not want too many sweets because it is unhealthy. The other day Caleb was craving a Big Mac and could not convince Leo to join him at McDonalds. Why? Because it is not healthy. Leo also orders the side of fruit instead of the fries on the kid’s menu. Recently Leo took his health awareness to a new level.

Caleb was planning on making Leo a tuna salad sandwich for lunch. Leo protested. “Why not?” Caleb asked, “you love tuna.” “I do, but I’ve already had tuna once this week and that is too much mercury.”


(Leo hunting his food)

Now it is time to take a moment to reflect how we are always inclined to highlight the good when talking about our children. While it is great to put your best foot forward, there is a lot of talk about how facebook and the Internet make people think this is your only foot, creating the phenomena that everyone else’s life is perfect on facebook, while we all sit around feeling bad about ourselves and our imperfect lives. I, too, want you to think that my life is perfect and my children are perfect. So I direct my blog on the items to brag about. For example, Leo’s great eating habits. Or another example is my childrens’ love of nature. I love to take pictures of the kids in the tops of trees, which of course, is a place they love to be. My kids love climbing trees. If you read my blog you would realize that my kids love nature more than your kids love nature. They make hedge nettle tea from plants they collect. No piece of poison oak is too strong for their little plant identifying minds.

Here are Lucy and her friends in a tree just yesterday.

But somehow I never take pictures of Leo watching other people play Minecraft on YouTube. If you don’t have kids you would not know this is a thing. You might think that kids like to play video games. But you might not know that kids like to watch other kids who have taken videos of themselves playing video games. Along with climbing trees, and avoiding mercury, watching other people video games is one of Leo’s favorite pastimes (although not so favorite as climbing trees … ahem).

So this is my long winded way of saying that lest you think that Leo is a perfect eater, on the topic of food I’ve conveniently forgotten to mention that the kid who monitors his mercury intake also broke down crying the other morning when we returned from Boston and had missed his sugar cereal day.

At night when Leo is watching others play minecraft, Lucy is usually watching My Little Pony and singing along (to her brother’s chagrin). A true true friend helps a friend in need. A friend will be there to help you see. A true true friend helps a friend to see the LIIIIIIIIIIIGHT that shines from a true true friend.

Since Lucy likes to sing so much, Caleb put her in a music class. A few weeks back we got to got to Lucy’s recital. Which brings us to Lucy’s eating habits which have their own idiosyncrasies. She still loves the normal stuff. She loves sweets. She loves the dregs of our coffee. She loves fattiest pieces of meat. And for her new love …

Here is Lucy getting her certificate after performing at her recital:

And here is Lucy’s half-eaten certificate after our car ride home:

I’m not sure about the mercury content in recital certificates but I’m encouraging her to stick to the fatty meat.

The Wedding

And now lets flash even a couple more weeks back. I hinted at it, but me and the kids got to return to Boston for Sammy’s wedding celebration. Sammy and Gretchen met at a running club by the Charles River that has weekly races. And so to celebrate their marriage they decided to put on a race around a section of the river. Then they ran the opposite direction of the runners to create the sportiest and sweatiest receiving line ever. It was a really lovely event. The only thing that could have made it better would be if Boston had been 10 degrees warmer that night.

Here is a picture of the bride and groom.

Here is a picture of me finishing the race with my brother and new sister in law.

This picture reminds me of a time that I ran this same very race at this very club about 13 or 14 years ago — right about the time of my own wedding. I was in pretty good running shape, training for a marathon and running lots of races. So I came out to Sammy’s club one summer night and ran as fast as I could. Now one woman had clearly won the race, but another woman and I were neck-and-neck for second place. I had never won a running race before and it looked like I might even come in second. I dug in. I focused. I pushed myself. And I won! I came in second place!!!! It was amazing! I felt so good and proud of myself.

At the running club they stand around and drink beer after the race. So as I was proudly drinking a beer with my brother the lady I had beat was standing nearby talking to her friends and I overheard her say “she was trying so hard so I let her win …” Let me win!?!?! Let me win!?!?!? Way to kill the moment.

Well anyway, check out the picture again of me finishing the race at Sammy’s wedding. See that 10 year old kid who is like twenty steps ahead of me. I totally let him win.

More on winning

My mother is not very competitive and so it seems that I must have inherited my competitive genes from my father.

Dad and I got to have a few games of scrabble during this trip in which he also let me win, which I appreciated. You can see there is a theme here. I’m not sure he appreciated my winning though. He kept helping me out but then getting frustrated that I was winning.

Sharon who was visiting my parents as well, said that my father just cant help but be helpful.

My dad is actually pretty good at Scrabble. Which I have always taken as a given but is kind of surprising because for the last 45 or so years he has been married to someone who hates to board games and only plays occasionally with his children. Without practice where did he learn to play? So I asked.

Turns out when my parents were newlyweds and living in an apartment building in Cambridge near these guys (pictured above). Some guys from MIT lived in the building as well. And they were board game junkies and spent their evenings sitting and working out the optimal steps in the games. This was the cool crowd my dad was hanging out with in his youth and how he learned to be good at Scrabble.

Back to the wedding

In her retirement my mother is picking up other firsts so if my dad is lucky she may yet pick up scrabble. Another first was for her to get on the dance floor. Here she is boogie down with her kids.

Back to the sweets

At the wedding we got to met Matt’s lovely new girlfriend, Brittney. Later in the week when we went to visit NH I had another opportunity to exercise my sugar tooth. Brittney had nice a plan to bake cookies with the kids.

We all had a lovely time. Britney, Cheryl and the kids baking. Me eating.

I’m not so sure about the chronology of this post but eventually we returned from Boston, Mother’s Day happened as did everything else I talked about in this post. So now, as I promised, I will end on a sweet sentiment of Lucy’s. The other day Lucy unprompted started listing the reasons she was lucky.
1) Gets to eat sugar cereal
2) No hair lice
3) Has such nice parents

I’ll never say if #1 is true. #2 is true, especially if you never check. But #3, that is definitely true. At least her Daddy anyway.