Summer Vacation, Part 2

A little overdue but here we go.
Fun BBQ at Betsy T’s house. 



Grammy was sooo good to Nicholas with perfectly ripe mangos almost every day. 

We took a break from the heat and visited a fun dinosaur exhibit at the museum before the big party on Saturday. 


We can’t wait to get the real photos of the whole family and during cocktails, but here are a few from the night. 


By now, we had check off everything on Julia’s list, but we were about to sneak in more of #6. She wrote this by herself the day before we left SF. 

Before our flight from Newark we got to meet these cuties and get some more Ahlstrand love. 



Time for the airport. 

Time to be delayed… Four times. Our kiddos took it all in stride and we got a few compliments that our family was still smiling. 

Time to visit the cousins again. That’s right, at 10pm they finally cancelled our flight. No bother. 

Ok, let’s try this again. Matt had to cancel his entire day, Julia missed her first day of gymnastics camp, Simba needed to be taken care of, it was all starting to feel a little painful. 

When we made it home, the kids hugged the house, our tree, and Simba. 

And, just like that, we were back to normal, but we will not forget what a great trip we had. 



Even Simba is getting back to normal. Look what came off!!

Bath time after seven long weeks. Now he wears a baby sock while some irritation from the cast clears up. Good job, little guy. 

Summer Vacation, Part 1

Our summer vacation in the Poconos was wonderful. Matt and I loved seeing the kids wander around the forest, play at the lake, and have fun with all three of their cousins at the same time. 

Nicholas said, “Mommy, I was to stay for TEN weeks.” At the end of almost every day Julia said, “That was the best day of my life!” 

Really, I think it was the people that made it so special for all four of us. 

The first night we all arrived later than expected and stayed up later than expected. But, after that night, we were all in bed by nine (adults included) and I think everyone slept really well. 






Thank you so much to our always amazing hosts, Ed and mom, who always invite everyone, always think of everything we need, cook so well and always have the best time with the kids. 

After three days in the Poconos, it was time for the big party-filled weekend. We spent just 36 hours at my mom’s house, but we packed in a lot of good stuff.

Marcie and Jim took us out on their boat on Blue Marsh Lake, just a few minutes away from their house. 


We swam and played… And we went tubing! That was one of the moments Julia called “the most fun of my life.”

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We quickly showered and kicked off the family weekend with a backyard BBQ at Betsy T’s house. The whole weekend was full of good food, good drinks, and good fun. 

Mom’s 70th and Ed’s 80th aren’t really until October, but July was the best time to get both sides of the family together. 

We hired a photographer one night to capture everyone together, but next I’ll share some of everyone’s candids. 

Go Time

5 am wake up but these kids are taking it like pros at the airport. 

One business travelled noticed how well they went through the security line and complimented them. Nicholas said, “Well we’re ALWAYS at the airport.”

A Tale of Four Fishies… and then Ten

We researched, we talked shop, we got the right stuff: heater, charcoal filters, buffers, good bacteria. We looked but didn’t buy.  We were patient. 

When we were educated and ready, we set out with small tanks and ran the filter for four days before introducing any fish. 


After six years of going to this fish store on Clement Street, we finally bought four fish. Two for each kid. 

They were all dead by morning, those poor fish. 

Our water temp was perfect, we had the right hiding spots and swimmable area. Sigh. 
Two weeks later we built up the courage to siphon out the water and start over again. 

This time, I had the fish guy test our water. We had gotten ride of the harmful stuff but our ph was off! Sorry sacrificial four fishies. 

We added ph test strips to our small collection of necessary supplies. 

Next, we bought two fish each… again. Then we waited. They made it to see the light of the next morning! But, patience. Two more days passed and we added three more to each tank, making our aquariums complete with five small fish each. 

I have to say, they are a lot of fun. The tanks are silent. The fish and scenery are somehow beautiful, despite the garish colors the kids chose. We look at them all the time. We talk about them all the time. 

We sing fish songs to them before bed. 



Here is Mr. N’s tank featuring his favorite color, orange. And pirate stuff. 



Here is Julia’s creation and her active fish. She even has a theme and a naming convention for them. Most recently added to the list: “green= Summer Break” a petite but spunky green fish. 


In other news… Coming at you, Chris, with your favorite key lime pie in a few days. We cannot wait to get the cousins back together soon. 

Julia had no camp this week so we had a lot of mommy daughter bonus time together. 



Meanwhile, Nicholas had Hawaii Week at preschool camp. Julia got to be a helper on Friday, so fun. 

Sunday it was so hot we needed to cool off in the back yard. Sort of. We even took off Simba’s cone for a tiny break. We hope everyone had a greet week, too. 

Happy 4th of July

We headed to the Marin County Fair for some fun and sun yesterday, and celebrated the 4th a day early, since tonight is a “school” night. (And it’s always cool and foggy in the city on the 4th.)


Once you entered the county fair, there were no tokens or tickets to fiddle with, it was so nice, all the rides and exhibits were free. 


The kids legitimately won their own prizes, popping balloons with darts. They were allowed to play one game each, once, and we honestly didn’t think they’d win anything. Thank goodness they can aim and throw hard. 


We spent A LOT of time measuring ourselves, and sometimes that led to disappointment. 

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When it came time for the fireworks, Matt and Julia were unbelievably lucky to be ON the ferris wheel while the fireworks were going off about 100 yards away. They didn’t intend to time it that way, their long wait in the line just paid off! IMG_5213IMG_5214IMG_5221
I love a good county fair. Matt claims he hardly ever went to any as a kid, so this was a fun treat for him, too. The kids, of course, loved it and want to do it every year from now on. 

In other news…

 Bence gave us a set of his old golf clubs which are the perfect size for Nicholas, but too small for Julia. So, Matt and Nicholas headed to the range just a mile from our place.

It’s a real set of clubs, complete with the bag and backpack strap for, err, when Nicholas will be carrying his clubs for 18. We’re grateful for the real set of clubs.

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Farmers Market in the fog. 

We ended summer camp week one on a high note. Look at Julia’s creations!! She sketched them on a grid and painted them. I love that she learned about the process and ended up with some very creative pieces. 

Pirate Week was a hit. Now if only he’d stop attacking us. 

It’s Stars and Stripes for Simba this week. 

They don’t need us at all. They’re ready to run the world. 


Look where we parked the other day!! In front of our old apartment building. We almost knocked on the door, but decided not to seem like weird people. Julia really wants to take a look inside someday. 

Camp Mommy

Last week the kids and I enjoyed the first week of summer break together. We called it Camp Mommy. 

Each day had a different, big activity and we made the most of every moment. We slept really well each night!

Monday = Pool & Playground. 

Since we were driving my mom to the airport on Monday, we continued south another 20 minutes to a fantastic kid pool. Look at this place!!


Tuesday = Library, Reading Time, Clement Street Fun, Haircut. 

Julia didn’t get a haircut but she’s loving two new hair styles. We French braid her wet hair after a shower for waves the next morning (above) and we do a little twisting half up style. 

Wednesday = Hiller Aviation Museum, Model Airplane Building, Fort Building. 


Thursday = Zoo to visit the new Mexican Grey Wolves that were recently rescued. We got there when the zoo opened at 10 and left FIVE hours later. 


Friday = Drive down Hwy 1, Organic Strawberry Picking, Fort Building on a Beach. 

We stopped for an hour at one of the many gorgeous beaches along the way home. We spent most of the hour finishing a wind block that someone else had started. 


Plus, each mellow morning was filled with tea parties, “homework,” and more. 



By Friday night, I must admit, I needed a drink and an hour alone to myself without someone saying “but she took my… Or Mommy!” but it was a great time together. 

Saturday was another fun day. 



Nicholas and Julia got to play at a friend’s house while we had a date night. So fun for us after a week of Mommy Camp. 


And… I’ve never been so excited to get back to the drudgery of packing two lunches on a Monday morning. 

Julia’s at an art camp and Nicholas has Pirate Week until 1:00 every day this week. 


Graduations, Father’s Day, Grammy’s Here, and More

Here are all the photos I meant to share before accidentally hitting “publish” twice. 

The kids had a great last week of school with celebrations and fun. Julia is officially a first grader and Nicholas is now in the Wildcat class. 




We’ve had such a good time with Grammy in town to celebrate with us. Here we squeezed in a friend’s birthday party in the Japanese Tea Garden before the preschool graduation ceremony. 


More info on the fishes above coming soon. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress for now. 

Father’s Day was gorgeous and fun. It’s always a good day to celebrate our favorite dad. We started out the morning with daddy’s favorite breakfast in the back yard. The kids made and gave some nice presents. 


Julia was a brave first grader and got her ears pierced! She picked daddy’s birthstone, aquamarine studs. I had thought we’d wait until she was older, but she’s so responsible, sports are easy to accommodate right now during the healing process (less so when she’s older), and so many of her friends with varied cultural backgrounds are already pierced. 


We took a short bike ride and hike in Golden Gate Park, trying to do many of Matt’s favorite things. 



Grammy in town always means a date night out. Thank you, Grammy, you’re the best.

We love reliving our travels so we picked a good Japanese restaurant and said, “omakase,” which means the chef picks all the dishes for you. We were immediately transported back in time to that great adventure. 


We ambled down Clement Street and picked up a perfect gift for our good friends who have a son turning one. You’re never too little to have some cool art. (Side note: look at that handsome husband of mine.) 


Grammy treated Julia to an outing at The American Girl Doll Store, the other best place on earth. Julia does her research and always stays on budget, even bringing her own money ($21) just in case. 


Other good stuff we’ve been up to with Grammy here…

This is Julia imagining she is a mermaid. 

We’ve cooked some tasty meals including lemon chicken with hearty Greek salads, salmon with a salad made of corn and tomatoes, and grilled five spice chicken with my take on a Vietnamese salad. ‘Tis the season for great salads. 


We’re just a few days into the summer and the kids are already bouncing off the walls. We have this week completely off and then start up some fun summer day camps. Thank goodness. 

Congratulations, Julsie and Mr. N on a great year!