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    G, today you are 8

    August 28th, 2016




    What is your name?
    What’s your full name?
    Griffin V R*****
    What does the V stand for?

    How old are you about to be?

    What’s your favorite color?
    Black, blue and orange

    Who are your best friends?
    Milo, Brayden, Lincoln, Hector, Hayden… did I already say Hayden?
    You know… you don’t have to also list the whole Blasters team.

    What’s your favorite book?
    That Magic Treehouse: Pirates at noon

    What’s your favorite movie?
    Star Wars, Force Awakens

    What’s your favorite TV show?
    Phinneas & Ferb

    What is your favorite animal?
    Because it shoots poison

    What’s your favorite food?
    What kind of pasta?
    Long noodle, and tube pasta

    What is the wisest thing you can tell me?
    Don’t pollute the earth!
    Huh — that actually is a really wise thing!

    What is your favorite toy?
    Pokemon cards

    What’s your favorite shirt?
    Any shirt
    Any shirt?
    Yeah, pretty much anything inside my closet.

    What kind of job do you want to do when you grow up?
    Hmn… a baseball player
    What kind of baseball player?
    A good one!
    What position do you want to play as a baseball player?
    1st base

    Oh Monkey! You are a smart, smart-ass kid that I love in ways I can’t express. You drive me bonkers. I make you mad. We snuggle just right. I suppose it’s as it should be.

    My wish for you in this coming year is for you to embrace creativity and let your mind explore. Be it through art, through building, through reading, or through coming up with your own experiments. I hope you continue being curious; continue being athletic; continue loving math, and get bitten by a reading bug. Above all I hope you are healthy.

    Love ya, G!

    Leona’s big day

    August 24th, 2016

    Storm brought Leona to school yesterday. I knew it was a risk, but I had hoped he’d be ready to leave her in his backpack once in the classroom. I get that he needed some comfort in a new environment. When it was time to say Good Bye, his teacher asked that she leave, since Leona didn’t have a name tag. Storm was a bit upset, but I promised him that Leona was going to have an adventure with me going to work. And I promised him pictures. My coworkers were super happy to oblige and participate, which I appreciate. Thanx, guys! I work with some good-hearted people.

    Leona “helped” drive. She couldn’t see over the steering wheel though, so ultimately just played co-captain


    She greeted people in the lobby


    She met Fish


    … and a dog



    Dog got to know Leona. This was a mandatory photo. I have a 5 yr old boy. Butts are funny.


    She supervised


    She attended a meeting


    Oh yeah, she was top dog!


    First day of school

    August 24th, 2016

    We have a second grader in the house! Joined by a kindergartner. We’ve also achieved single drop-off. Yeah!!!

    Let me tell you about our day (in photos).

    This was 7:16am this morning — not a good sign for trying to get out of the house at 7:45. The view in my bedroom (as far as my male counterpart goes) looked about the same 🙂


    7:45. Getting there!





    Car-ride with bagels — breakfast of champions.




    It was interrupted by the following statement: “Mom, I need to go pee. RIGHT NOW!!!!!” So our chill time in the car became a rush to the school trying to find an open bathroom. Thank goodness for Griffin calling out that the bathrooms by the kinder rooms would be open. Thank you, kid! After that at least I got to manipulate the kids into the shot (hello, first day of school frame-able!)



    I was really impressed with Griffin being immediately surrounded by friends saying “Hello!”.


    Storm got to see his buddy. Also, happy to say that a kiddo from his most recent preschool is actually IN his classroom. So happy that there’s someone he knows in his class. From the 4 kids of our family crew that hang out, we’re surprised that all 4 got into separate classrooms. So I’m glad he at least has this friend.






    Upon getting in, Storm needed to sign his name, and the parents got some homework — we traced the kids’ hands, and made them a heart.





    The teacher then sat them down and read them the Kissing Hand. It was sweet. The kids needed this story to transition to this big day.




    We were hugged out and sent on our way.


    Sadly, Leona couldn’t stay — Storm was REALLY bummed out about this. I promised him that I would take her to work with me today, we’d have an adventure and we’ll take photos. Those will come soon — today, today’s about first days 🙂

    Aloha, Maui!

    August 23rd, 2016

    The boys are sleeping off our late night return home. They have a day off today before starting a new school year tomorrow.
    Me? I’m trying to hang at work, through my body is REALLY not ready to be back from vacation? Where did we go? My Turtle Sightings post was a spoiler, but we’ve just spent about 5 days in Maui.
    I’m not ready to be back to life as usual, and already wishing another vacation was near, so I guess *I* had a good time. However, vacations with kids… well, it’s just different. Our kids didn’t have their toys, or other activities to occupy them, so whenever we were back in our room (or sitting still, really) they were constantly asking for the tablets… or teasing each other. Not the most relaxing, for the adults, for sure! At the same time it was really neat to see their reaction to new experiences. For example, one thing that sticks in my mind is listening to Storm, underwater, humming to himself while snorkeling. So imagine a 3’5″ wee-bit kicking while floating ahead just humming. It’s kind of one of the best things, really.

    We took advantage of our CA body schedule and got up for an early morning boat ride out to Molokini and Turtle Town visit. G LOVED being on the boat. Snorkeling was not really his thing, so after Molokini he got back on the boat, and more or less became a hand, passing people noodles and hanging with the boat captain. He even took over the first mate’s chair. I don’t often see him this excited and happy! As a side note, I’m glad that the boys seem to have inherited their dad’s constitution when it comes to being on the water. My achievement for this trip was not throwing up. And trust me, it was a BIG effort. By the time we parked in Molokini my stomach was churning. Even being in the water sucked. Being back on the boat was even worse. When the boat was moving faster I was so much better, but docked I was lying down trying to keep it together. I’m surprised last year’s boat ride out to sharks and rays was fine. I didn’t feel sick. Same measures this year, totally different results. Oh well — doesn’t look like I’ll be loading a boat in the near future. Additionally, and I remember this from last time Shane and I went to Maui and did a trip to Molokini — the snorkeling we did off shore was just as good, if not better than what we saw out by Molokini island. So I’m going to spare myself the cost of money and body and just not do that again. Glad we did it for the kids, don’t see the need to do it again.

    We also attended a luau. It was our first, and as it turns out literally right below our hotel room. We can hear the performances from our space, and occasionally at night we’d leave the door open just so we can hear it. Storm saw a poster advertising the luau in our hotel, but not knowing what it was about kept asking where he can see a ring of fire (think spinning poi). Without context, I had no clue what the kid was talking about so just shook my head at him a lot. Needless to say the kids were stoked about this. The food was actually quite good, the performance interesting, and the boys really dug it.

    Shane and I stole some time to ourselves too — I really wanted to stay at a place that had childcare. It’s how we ended up booking Hyatt Regency to begin with. Kids love it at the kid-camp. To a point where they were mad we picked them up. Griffin had heard “all day” and in his mind 3pm did not qualify as an “all day” stay there. Shane and I went out for dinner one night, and then snorkeling on two beaches for a day trip. That part was nice!

    I convinced Shane to go down to the Wailea area for dinner one night. We hit up Monkeypod, which was yummy and even Storm ate at! He had a salad — gave it a thumbs up. Earlier that week Shane had mentioned that he’d love some local brewery rootbear, and since Maui Brewing Co had a tasting room (relatively) close to dinner, we stopped by for a tasting before we headed in for the evening. There was live music; the kids tried root-beer for the first time (both gave it a thumbs down), and then they watched some adults play life sized Jenga. I kinda want a set, to be honest 🙂

    On this trip Storm figured out the art of the photo bomb. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving :-/

    Now onto some photos
    … but if you want to see the full set (there’s only about two hundred!), go to: https://www.flickr.com/gp/avalikelava/Ux7VVZ

    Making sure we didn’t have to pay extra for the kids2016-08-17 08.57.18



    This might be the only photo of me on this trip. It’s a good one too! Courtesy of Storm

    2016-08-17 15.27.04


    View from our hotel room




    And this was his first mastered photo-bomb. Griffin was the subject.




    At least I didn’t get an actual moon 🙂














    Look at this smile!!!



    “Look, Mom! A snorkel!”






    2016-08-19 12.01.42


    First Shave ice 🙂
















    Storm’s new buddy, Flipper. Hanging out with Leona (and I guess showing off how much bigger he is)


    Maui — the land of the incredible sunsets and always white, puffy clouds








    I don’t wanna go home!


    Turtle Sightings

    August 20th, 2016

    We went to Baby Beach today. We wanted to go snorkling with the kids, and Baby Beach came recommended by friends (thanx E and L!). The location was close to our hotel, the waves calm, the water fairly shallow and there’s a bit of coral and fish to keep things interesting.

    Unintentionally Storm and I ended up drifting away from Shane and Griffin. But we had fun regardless. We saw an awesome looking puffer fish, a family of (something yellow), and there came a point I said “I want the camera”. At this point Griffin was now up on the shores building walls of sand (remember when I said our kids were perfectly content just playing in the sand while at the beach?) and Shane was off exploring the edge of the reef.
    I took a break and went up to grab it and so glad I did… because upon our return to the water we came across this gentle giant.

    I was the guide, and as the adult in this relationship fully reserved my freak-out to my insides when I saw a very large shadow come up ahead of us. Thankfully, and amazingly, that large shadow turned into a turtle. It was literally crossing our path, and Storm and I followed. It was incredible, although a bit nerve wrecking, because as much as I wanted to stay  at a fairly respectable distance, the current brought us closer, and then the turtle did a complete 360 to face us. We didn’t get in contact, but we swam literally right over it.

    The part I find somewhat amusing is that just the day before we did a snorkeling boat ride out to Molokini Island and Turtle Town just so that we can see a turtle. The kids were over the water portion of the program right after Molokini and wanted to just stay on deck for the Turtle Town visit. From the whole visit there was indeed a turtle sighting. Just one turtle (I guess Turtle Down is like being at the Olympics for the hosting town residents — you stay away unless you gotta be there?). So they saw no turtles and I was really disappointed for them. I wasn’t expecting this meeting, which is what made it even so much more special. But you see, I wanted them to have that experience. Bummed G is a turtle sighting short, but at least my ONE wish for this Maui trip has been realized. Turtle spotted 🙂 Hoping G will get lucky too.







    Our visit was no longer than 3 minutes, we let the turtle get it’s lunch in peace and continued on.

    The kids got a big intro to snorkeling in that we never get in contact with the reef, and while pointing is fine, touching is not. He did so awesome! You can hear our squeals in the video, but though the current pushes us close to this guy (or gal???) there was no turtle touching.

    Storm is genuinely doing so great in the water! Yes, the salt helps with buoyancy a ton, but this kid kept going for almost a full hour with barely any rest, and no freak-outs about not touching the bottom — this is not the Storm I meet in the pool! So proud of this dude. To be honest, what I’m really excited about is the prospect that he and Shane will have this activity to share together. I can tell G enjoys it, but not to the level I’m seeing Storm get into it. Maybe Shane will get a SCUBA diving buddy after all. As long as Shane doesn’t mention anything about sharks, that is — think Storm’s inherited his irrational fear of those predators from me 🙂

    Beach trip

    August 19th, 2016

    There’s a ton of photos that need to be rescued (and shared) off my phone and camera. I’m caught up on editing them, and now I really need to share them.

    The kids and I went to the beach at the start of summer. It was mid-day. The wind was something else. It was pelting us in the face, but the kids didn’t care. Storm got his feet in the Pacific Ocean waves for the first time. I’ve been (mostly) taking the kids to the beach by myself, and allowing them anywhere near the water has been a big deal. Yep — we’ve been the family where the kids go to the beach to just dig in the sand. Frankly, with how cold the water is, swimming hasn’t been something they’ve been craving either.






















    The last pre-school day… ever

    August 16th, 2016

    Today marks the last day that we entered the walls of a pre-school for one of our kids. With the start of school next week, Griffin is off to second grade, and Storm is off to kindergarten. It’s surreal to think that this phase is our lives is finally here, and that’s over. For about 7.5 years now we’ve been dropping off at day care. It seemed like it would take an eternity to have big kids off to school. In retrospect, it feels like it’s gone by too soon.

    I’m not teary. Just feeling sentimental. It’s just remarkable to me that we went from this:

    to this:

    and this:

    to this:

    2016-05-15 13.16.56-1

    S2 ran into school today. He’s been prepared for this day. He’s been preparing to say his good-byes, and he’s been excited about it. He’s excited about the next thing in his life. Frankly so am I — it just hit me last Thursday that this week… today would be the last week I would STOP doing something that has been such a major part of our lives. In the rush of the next phase, I kinda overlooked and took for granted what we’re leaving behind. We’ve compiled some incredible village of friends and teachers that have helped shape our boys into who they are today, and THAT part will be hard to leave.

    I brought my camera with me today. I felt today deserved it. Storm actually took it off me and managed to take a pretty fun photo of Ms. M. I had a meeting that ran late this afternoon. So much so, that Shane had to get Storm. I wish I had a chance to say good-bye to Ms. J and Ms. H, but am also glad that Shane had a chance to see them one more time too.

    Meanwhile, here was what my camera captured from our morning.







    This. This is the image that I want to have ingrained in my head to remember today. The last time he opens those doors, but so happy and proud with himself. We are too, buddy! We are too!







    So… some news (aka Movie Monday)

    August 1st, 2016

    It’s a Movie Monday. More than that, it’s a Milestone Movie Monday.

    We managed to capture two “first” in video.

    First up, S2 reads. Yep — he’s been asking to learn to read, and I’d have to be insane not to take advantage of it. He’s now onto Bob book #4, having conquered 1-3.

    Next on deck: he rides a bike… with pedals. Now that G has a bigger bike, S2 has taken over the pedal bike upgrade. Shane took him out for some bike riding and came to the conclusion S2 really didn’t understand how pedals work. Had to get him off the bike to illustrate the mechanics. After that, S2 got it. That’s my boy’s engineering brain at hand. I am both proud of him and pity him. My mind works that way too — if I see the mechanics, I get it… but it also means that until I see the mechanics, I struggle. Not necessarily the best thing when you’re on the clock on something… like let’s say… skydiving, trying to figure out why you are turning without initiating it. But I digress. Yey, S2!

    It’s been a big week-end around here!