Sunday, March 27, 2011

Six Now and Forever

{A big "What, What?" to Tiffny for the poem and to Jill for the picture.}

It's now official.  She is six.  And we partied hard.

We played Stick the Badge on Woody.  Bethelle's was perfectly in place, even to being turned to exactly line up with the outline on the poster.  Umm-hmm.  I think so too.
 Everyone made a horse visor.
 They didn't stay on heads very well, but they were fun to create.
How about that cake?  Costco wouldn't do it for me, so I just ordered it plain white and worked a little Elke magic on it.  That belt is a Hershey's Bar.  Hey, it was cheaper than buying chocolate frosting!
We invited Nick's friends from work to join us for cake and ice cream.
This is the other LDS family that is in Nick's group.  They live in our complex and give the kids a much needed excuse to get out of the house and play with a different set of toys.  What a blessing to have them here with us!
There were gifts, of course.  The big one was Jessie...
 Curie enjoyed the chocolate eggs served at the end.
 Happy birthday, Bethelle!  Oh...  I love you!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jane Monheit

Nick occasionally takes the time to golf or go to a football game with a friend.  Sometimes he even takes a half day off of work to do it.  And I think to myself: I never do that.  I would never do that.  And then I say that out loud to Nick, as though it's not fair.  So Nick replies, "Then do it."

I finally did it.

I bought myself a concert ticket.  Just one.  I went by myself to see Jane Monheit and Nick stayed home to put the kids to bed and do his homework at the kitchen table.

I had a balcony ticket.  The auditorium at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is boxy and gilded and ornate.  And the balcony is on the stage.  Practically.  Imagine Gladys Knight performing in a fancy frou-frou dress with an orchestra around her and a gospel choir above and behind her.  Now replace Gladys with Jane Monheit (pictured below), replace the orchestra with a jazz trio, and replace the choir with me.
I had an excellent view of the pianist's face.  If Jane had a bald spot, I would know all about it.  She does not.

In my limited singing, I know what the rules are.  I pronounce sounds as they should be sung.  I hold out the vowels and watch my breathing.  I lift my soft palate and project out of my forehead.

Jane also knows the rules, I am sure, but she breaks them just so.  And it's perfect.  So the rule breaking changes from lazy and uneducated to artful and stunning.

It is common in scatting to vocally imitate an instrument.  Often a saxophone or a horn.  In one song, Jane scatted as a river.  I've never heard of such a thing.  She has this way of doing things with her voice that anyone else would be embarrassed to try, but she tries it and then perfects it and then performs it.

I wish I could tell you how I feel as I listen to live jazz.  I sit on the edge of my seat and stare.  It's like when you're anxiously waiting for something and don't quite know when it will happen, but it's all you can think about.

So sit on the edge of your seat and breathe this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Farewell to Five

Five is almost over.  She is getting so much older.  What is a mom to do?  I can't seem to slow her down.  Being six means first grade.  FULL DAY!  I don't know if I can live without her like that.  But she has earned it.  She can swim a bit without arm floaties and she occasionally cleans her room without me asking.  It doesn't get much better!

What do you think of this hair?  Too weird?
 I walked into the room and found her just like this.  She looks 11 to me.  It's all happening too fast.
This video is just of Bethelle washing her face, but there's a priceless moment about 40 seconds in.  It's worth watching.  If you're like me, you'll watch those couple seconds about a thousand times.  They are classic, lovable Bethelle seconds.

Parks and Rec

The rain has finally caught up with us here in San Francisco, so I thought we haven't been doing anything. Then I uploaded my pictures and remembered that we do get out whenever there is a break in the clouds.

We spent a Friday morning with some friends in Tiburon and Belvedere.  Wow, does anyone else remember that show?
This was a great park.  They don't make this kind of space in the city.
Although we did find this cute toddler park right next to the Giants' Stadium.
Always a bridge view, but this time it's the Bay Bridge.
 She's so good for the camera.

All the playing will really knock a kid out for the night.  For the record, they each have their own little mattress on a common box springs.  But they seem to ignore the social norm of sleeping on your mattress.  For a week or two they were sleeping half on the slats of the box springs.  Lately, they are completely off their mattresses.  I can't imagine how uncomfortable that must be.
One other "rec" activity was to go see a college roommate of mine, Andrea.  I hadn't seen her since my wedding!  She is fabulous as ever and has turned into quite the gourmet cook.  Thanks, Andrea!  We're already planning a couple more SF activities to do together.  Next time, I'll take my camera.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Super Diamond

I grew up with a dad who loved the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Doors.  Nick's dad played Neil Diamond.  Nick went to his first Neil Diamond concert when he was five years-old.  He took me to his concert when we were 16.  I played it cool at the time, but I really hadn't heard many of his songs before that concert.

Well, Neil is still making music, but his age is showing in his singing, so what's a fan to do?  Enter Silver Diamond, a cover-singing, country-touring, Letterman-performing tribute band.
We took the kids to Nick's aunt's house for the night.  She's only an hour away from us, but we hadn't been out to see her yet since living here.  Curie did very well away from us.  She didn't cry when we left and she slept well in a travel crib in the bathroom.  The big kids lived it up!  The stayed up late watching cartoons and then finally fell asleep in a bed with four kids and a chihuahua.  Bethelle is in love with that dog.  It begins.

I liked the concert a lot.  Nick loved it.  That's OK, right?  His opening band was a Beatles cover, which was fun for me.  The Diamond singer sounded exactly like a young Neil Diamond.  Exactly.  Nick was in heaven dancing and singing along.  We met up with six of Nick's coworkers.  They were pretty impressed/confused that Nick knew every word to every song.

Super Diamond's final words, and the moral of this post:
Never let anyone ever tell you that Neil Diamond doesn't rock!!  (And the crowd goes wild...)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reno and Tahoe City

We are trying to get fives years' worth of living out of our five months here.

Nick had another weekend off of work, so we took off again.  One of his classmates has a cabin in Tahoe, so about 30 of the class went skiing.  Not wanting to crash the house with a family, we booked a room in Reno (half an hour away) and headed out.

Nick spent Saturday skiing Northstar.  He hasn't skied much in his life, but says he really started to get the hang of it by the end of a long day.
Check out the view from the top of the slopes!
I took the kids to beautiful Tahoe City for Snowfest.  What an awesome snow fort!  The kids kept wanting to go back to it throughout the day and see if it had been opened up for kids to climb on.
They had two objectives for the day: build a snowman and sled.  As we worked on the snowman, Channel 13 Sacramento showed up to film the cuteness.  Of course they did; we're newsworthy!  Strange as it may seem, I think our snowman looks right out of the tropics.
I was pretty proud of Rigby, climbing to the top of this hill, sled in tow.  I have noticed recently how much older he acts than many kids his age.  I think this is due to being best friends with his big sister.

If you asked, they would tell you how much fun they had sledding.  They have forgotten that all three of them were crying by the end.

After sledding, we watched a parade!  This may have been a very low-budget parade compared to our experience with Chinese New Year, but part of that low budget included candy and mardi gras beads that were tossed to the spectators, so my kids were thrilled.   The adults around us all collected for my kids, too, so they did pretty well in the sugar and necklace counts.
After the parade, a local art shop hosted a wooden bear painting activity for kids.  Rigby really was this focused on his project the whole time.  I love his bear!  It looks like the earth.
We went back to our hotel for naps and dinner.  We stayed at Circus Circus, so I took the kids to the midway for what looks a great deal like "fun."
Let me just mention here that I can't stand Chuck E. Cheese.  They peddle their money-wasting wares to little kids who will get nothing in return for their investment.  Of course there is nothing wrong with dropping some money to play a little game and hope for a cheap stuffed pig, but Chuck E. Cheese feels like a casino to me.  I think that if you really wanted to raise a kid to gamble in casinos, that is where you would start your training.

So it makes sense that Circus Circus would train up the next generation of return-guests.  And yes, I took my kids to it, but only because I wanted them to have a "vacation" out of this little trip.  And no, I don't really feel that good about it.  Nick says this post is getting controversial, but this is how I feel.

Gotta throw in Curie "in" her travel crib when we got back home.

Also, Nick and his male relations have a thing about not shaving on vacation.  Nick initiated his classmates into the family by talking them all into letting the facial hair go.  His dad requested the pics, so this one's for you, Pabby.
And this one.  Kyle, I included his T-shirt in this shot for you.
We are firmly resolved not to go on vacation next weekend.  But we do have concert tickets...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hyde Street Pier

We found a sunny day to walk out on the curvy dock I mentioned earlier.  Another checklist item!
Is it just me, or does every place around here have a view of the Golden Gate?

Post jaunt, we met some friends at the Maritime Museum and headed out to tour the ships on Hyde Street Pier.  Here's the first "ship."
Pretty sure this motley crew washed up from the prison.

My camera has a short, short battery life, so you'll have to picture the rest of the story in your mind.

We started and the end of the pier and worked our way in.  The first ship was one that would've traveled around the horn from NY to CA.  I was expecting just a ship, but it was decked out like it was ready to travel.  I was surprised by the realism of the bags and bags of wheat, crated piano, captain's quarters, furnished galley, etc.  Next we toured a steam tug boat.  As we boarded, we saw sea lions off the other side of the ship.  One caught a bird in his mouth!  Four other sea lions swarmed in and they all shared the bird.  If you could get past thinking of the poor bird, the view was spectacular.  The sea lions were dancing, synchronized swimmers and were only a few feet from us.  Great show.  We also toured an old ferry.  The friends with us were pretty excited by this boat, but my kids were not sure what was so special.  On Bainbridge, they rode the ferry weekly.

Not much else to report about this one.  Another great San Francisco outing.  This city doesn't stop.


Friday evening, Nick bought a box of twinkies.  This was a first since we've been married.

Sunday evening, Nick proclaimed, "There are still four twinkies left [of ten].  That's pretty good!"

Elke: Well, Rigby and I don't like them.  We didn't eat any.

Elke:  And Curie.  She doesn't like them either.

Nick:  Oh.  Maybe that's not so good.  Bethelle and I ate six twinkies?

Bethelle (from around the corner):  Six?  I only had one!