Saturday, March 25, 2017

my birthday!

I had a lovely birthday day - sweet, thoughtful husband and children, wonderful presents both big and small, excellent food, and even the rare appearance of the sun, which came out long enough for us to enjoy a family hike in Forest Park, where we saw the first trilliums of the season.
I came down this morning to a happy birthday banner, stretching across the doorway. Both children were super sweet all day long - on their best behavior, helpful and considerate. Sebastian made this cheery sign; Liesl had drawn pictures and assembled various birthday packages for me of random (but sweet) detritus.
 Hiking with the baseball fiend and a toothless grinning girl.
 Trilliums! Finally! We thought you'd never come.
We had brunch at Lovejoy Bakers, picked up pastries from Pearl, and enjoyed ice cream at Salt and Straw. In the afternoon, the children played at the field with their respective friends while I worked at a PSU recruiting event. And then we met up for a family date dinner at Ava Gene's, an Italian restaurant. (The children dressed up all fancy and were on their best manners, more or less, delighted to be invited along instead of being relegated to a babysitter's care.)
Steve and the children collaborated on birthday jewelry for me - green earrings and a locket necklace. Sebastian had apparently decided upon about a locket three months ago - I'm not sure how he even knew about lockets, but he was clear that it was to be a necklace that opened up and could have pictures inside. So today, he picked this one out at Gilt, our favorite vintage jeweler on NW 23rd. It's got leaves and purple-colored jewels, and is from the 1940s. I'm so charmed by his thoughtfulness and advance planning, and delighted that Steve could make it happen.
Anne and I went out for a cozy wine night on Thursday, and the Hoangs are coming over for brunch tomorrow, and then next Friday a group of us are going dancing at a nightclub (90s night!). Happy 41st to me!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Liesl loses her first tooth!

Liesl has had a very wiggly loose tooth for a few weeks now, and today it finally came out. Yay! She pulled it out at school, while sitting on the rug, "while Caleb was reading a book".
She was so happy and excited and proud. After dinner she wrote a note to the tooth fairy and tucked her precious tooth into the fairy doll's bag (thanks Grandma Raab!).
"Dear Tooth Fairy. This is my very first tooth I lost. I pulled it out and I had to go to the office and I showed my parents. P.S. What do you do with the teeth. Love Liesl."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

dinner conversations

Our dinner table conversations are not usually terribly interesting - a series of nagging reminders to sit down, use silverware and napkins, eat your food, ask to be excused - interspersed with play-by-play reports of Sebastian's recess soccer games and overly long, meandering, occasionally pointless descriptions by Liesl of something someone possibly once said. (Ah, family dinner!)

But we've had some remarkably good and interesting - even challenging - conversations in the last week. We had a long discussion about money, in particular loans and mortgages versus savings and interest, and what it means to put your money in a bank. Sebastian was very confused by the idea that if you went to the bank where you put your money, it wasn't exactly your money that was sitting there. I had a tough time explaining both electronic money and interest rates to children who don't quite grasp percentages. Liesl was astounded that we had a 30-year mortgage on our house and that it wouldn't be quite ours until we finished paying it off; Sebastian was concerned about what would happen if we stopped paying the mortgage. It was really quite good stuff.

We had another conversation about maiden names, and specifically who changes their name upon marriage, and why, and why you might not do so. Liesl knows that I have my own name, of course, and was curious what the maiden names of Grandmas Raab and Avery had been, and why they had changed. Sebastian thought it would be super confusing for a long time to be called by a different name - "they'd call your name out and you wouldn't answer!" Liesl decided to be herself, an Avery Raab, forever.  :) We'll see, but I won't be surprised.

There have been ants in our bathroom and living room this week and we have thus set out ant traps, filled with nasty pesticides. Liesl has been very reluctant to crush the ants, carefully attempting to pick them up and take them outside. When she and I were talking about the ants, she compared us to mean giants, who were unfairly killing the ants, and asked how I would feel about some giant squishing me with his thumb. She was happy that there were fewer ants coming into the house until I explained that the point of the poison was to carry it back to the nest. She thought that was not fair at all, to kill off the whole colony, including the ones who had never come into our house at all, and questioned why we are killing anything. She's also been concerned about all the worms covering the pavement after a rainstorm - worry that they'll get stepped on, or drowned, or dried out, or run over, or eaten by birds. We decided that worms have tough lives.

Sebastian periodically reads questions from a dinner-table question box that we have, and this week he produced cards asking "what would be your family business?" and "would your family members rather sleep, watch tv, or be outdoors?" and "in what ways do your parents embarrass you?". We agreed that our family business would be birthday parties: I'd cook the food and make a cake, Liesl could decorate, Steve could make up the games and treasure hunts, and Sebastian could help coordinate events and organize children. Everyone preferred to be outdoors.

In less fun news, Liesl wore her rollerskating wrist guard to school on Tuesday, seriously impinging on her ability to write, draw, type, and play on the playground. I didn't realize that she had it on all day until I picked her up at the end. I scolded her for carrying her pretend play to school, and then it turned out that she had told the technology teacher that Sebastian knocked her over while playing basketball and had broken her arm! And the tech teacher got angry at Seb for it!! (Poor Sebastian, getting in trouble in front of his classmates for something he hadn't done, and had no idea about.) L and I had a good conversation about remembering what was true and what was pretend play, and I thought everything was solved/understood/clear. But then she snuck the godforsaken wrist guard in her backpack to school again on Wednesday! She waited until I left to put it on and then pretended once again all morning that her arm was injured/broken. The truth finally came out after lunch, and Mrs. LaTocha made her take it off, and explained that she had to tell the truth to her teacher, etc. Liesl was so upset - humiliated and embarrassed - and in tears when I picked her up. But when I asked her, she told me that she had felt sick and was too shy to go to the nurse's office - it was only after an email from Mrs. L. that I learned what had actually happened. What a mess! She was probably looking to garner attention and sympathy, and instead dug herself into a deeper and deeper hole of untruths. Sigh. I hope some lesson was learned, and I don't just mean by me about the continually changing but ever-present challenges of parenting.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Silver Falls State Park hike with mom

Mom and I intended to go hiking with my mama friends on Saturday, but given the weather forecast (100% chance of cold rain), we decided to delay and go on Sunday instead, just the two of us. It ended up being a beautiful day - crisp and sunny, with spring in the air. We hiked the 7-mile Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park and it was wonderful. The waterfalls were gushing with water, a breathtaking sight, the trail was solid and well maintained, and we started early enough that it was not too busy. It was a lovely day - company, scenery, weather - and I can't wait for another.
A rainbow from the spray at South Falls! An auspicious omen to start our day.
South Waterfall.
The trail going behind and under South Falls. We got pretty wet from the spray.
Approaching Middle Falls, another one you walk behind.
Twin Falls, falling straight into mom's head. :)
 North Falls, which you hear and feel before you can see it, thundering 136 feet to the basin below.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

mom and dad visit

Mom and Dad came south to visit us this weekend and we had a jam-packed schedule of fun events. On Friday night, we had a double date to see Northwest Dance Project's stunning spring show at the Newmark - two new works of choreography. The first was autobiographical and extraordinarily moving - the story of the choreographer's injury and recovery. Everything about it was fantastic, but Ching Ching was just mesmerizing. The second work was an interpretation of Carmen, and was comic, creative, and dynamic - it really showcased the dancers. It was lovely to be out together.

Saturday morning, Sebastian had his final game of basketball. They ate cupcakes after the game and got a medal, and all were thrilled.
Then we drove clear across town to HK Cafe to meet up with Cuong and Camille, Michela and Brian and their children, plus M's sister and boyfriend - 14 in all for dimsum!!! It was delicious. Mom was so happy to be in a classic dimsum restaurant, with huge round tables, rolling carts, and Cantonese-speaking Chinese ladies thrusting food at you.
And then we came back again, this time for Liesl's final basketball game. (More pics of that from dad's camera, to come.) They had a little party afterwards at a local pizza place - cheap pizza and cupcakes, and some sweet speeches from the coach. He called out Liesl for having the best fashion display every week. :)
After all that, we were all finally home, for a St. Patrick's day meal of lamb stew, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, homemade Irish soda bread, and beer.

Friday, March 17, 2017

future goals

Liesl had a writing project in kindergarten this week, discussing change and growth. I love her work.

It reads:
I was a baby: I was really happy when I was a baby. (Yes, yes you were.)
I am now six: I am a good writer and reader. I love everything. (Yes! Sweet girl.)
Me at 20 years old: My family is great. But I'm going to college. (Yes! Our work here is done.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

science fair!

After two months of hard work (possibly more effort and time than they expected), and thanks to the amazing vision and persistent effort of Nathan's mom Anita - our boys finished their science fair project this weekend.

Title: Effects of Exercise on Short-term Memory.
Hypothesis: If people exercise intensely for 5 minutes, their minds will be more focused and they will remember stuff better.
Methodology: Ask people to remember as many foods as they can from 10 flashcards. Run around the track, do jumping jacks or push-ups. Rest. Show a different set of 10 food flashcards and see how many they can remember. 
Results: 7 people got better, 5 did the same, 7 got worse.
Conclusion: We could not prove our hypothesis. Our results showed that intense exercise for five minutes didn't improve memory for the group as a whole. We have not answered the question about memory and exercise. More experiments are needed that increase the intensity, leave more time before the second recall, use different images, or test more people.

We hosted a final science fair playdate on Sunday afternoon - we finished summarizing our research, printed everything out and formatted it, wrote up the title and bylines, and drafted the conclusion.
The three boys took their poster presentation to school this morning and set it up in the school gym for everyone to see during the day - much excitement about the fact that they missed two hours of class time to be in the gym with their poster! This evening, there was the actual science fair. They spent an hour standing next to their poster and explaining their experiment and findings to the parents and others.
Overall, I think it's been a good experience for them - to use the language of science, to think about methodology, to carry out experiments, to learn that research is messy and inconclusive, to practice public speaking. I hope they participate again next year.