Yesterday Chris turned 35 years old and we celebrated by getting Nanny Kathy to watch all four kids so we could go wine tasting and out to dinner in Amador. The weather was perfect and we started out with a lovely picnic that my parent’s provided. By 2pm I think we could’ve all taken a snooze on a wine barrel somewhere between sipping wine and sitting in the warm sun. Angela and Bob met the four of us at a cool restaurant in the funky little Podunk town of Plymouth – a diamond in the rough – and we had a wonderful four course dinner and of course more wine. Chris had a nice birthday which he deserved. Everyone deserves to have a nice birthday because it is your one special day that is all your own out of the whole year.

Ava is at Country Days camp all day every day this week which takes immense pressure off of me to figure out how to keep her busy all day without too much computer time. Even though she is at camp from 9 to 3 everyday bouncing in the bouncehouse, riding horses, swimming in a pool, and dabbling in arts and crafts, when I pick her up this afternoon she will still ask me “what are we doing today?” and “who is coming over today?” Oh the ways that my four year old can make me feel like I am suffering a slow and torturous decline into insanity. That is one way. The other way is her new particularity about what she wears and how her hair is done. Ava has all of these nice clothes and shoes, yet she will only wear a select few because she doesn’t like the way her shorts and pants feel around her waist or the way her shoes fit her on that particular day. She will only have her hair partially pulled up on the sides, where I then have the choice of doing a ponytail or a braid. I had to pull out my patients that are kept in reserves to get through the dressing this morning. Oh well, just another way that children try to gain independence from their parents I suppose. Sigh.

Ava and I had a very special trip to San Francisco a week ago. We met Nicola and Kei and went to the Aquarium at Pier 39 and to the new Academy of Science at Golden Gate Park where there is a four story Rainforest and another Aquarium. We had a wonderful day of culture which is hard to come by in Cameron Park! Later that night Nicola and I went to this cool spot for dinner, A16, in the Marina district and had lots of wine, good food and caught up on old times. We have been friends since our first year of college so it is a special history we share even though we don’t get to see each other much with our busy schedules. The next day Ava and I headed to the Discovery Museum which is made just for small kids and it was a very cool place. Ava tells people she got to paint windows and then squeegee them. She painted carpet squares and stamped them onto paper. She played in moon sand. There was a fantastic playground overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge where everything seemed to be a learning experience. There was a cultural center that taught the kids about the Chinese culture this month. We spent a few hours there and then we headed to Sausalito for pizza on the water. Ava slept the whole way home. We can’t wait to go again soon.

Meanwhile, Elsa is becoming an expert on animal sounds. She does the scariest lion you will ever hear, reaching down to her gut to pull that roar out just right. This morning she perfected the “neigh” and she can also do a very good “moooooo”. We are working on “meow” which is a more difficult combination of sounds. Elsa is averaging about one new word a day. Meanwhile her adorable brother and sister prefer to not say much of anything. Violet can take any direction you give her and she knows exactly what you are saying. She is a thinker and does very well playing by herself and putting things together quietly. I have one word for Preston – boy. He is like, duh, I am just going to scream and grunt and throw things and run my toys into the walls and bang my cars on the windows and that is how I will communicate with the world. Preston has also formed a very interesting relationship with his toy vacuum which is at times loving and other times adversarial. He drives that pink vacuum all over the house looking like a professional janitor until it gets stuck in the corner or gets tweaked out of position and then he gets pissed. He stands there and screams at it and cries and gets very ornery. The other day Chris and I couldn’t take it anymore – Preston and his unhealthy relationship with the pink vacuum – so we took it and hid it behind a bunch of clothes in the closet. The next day Preston had already found his special vacuum friend and was cruising it around the house.

The babies’ interactions with each other are very interesting these days. Violet gets along with everyone is very easy-going and good natured. The others take toys from her all day and she just moves on and finds something else to play with. She gets along well with all her siblings and they love her also. Preston and Elsa are not getting along. They scream at each other just because they aren’t getting along. I had to move Violet to the middle booster chair to avoid all out screaming wars between Preston and Elsa that ultimately ends up with crying. So now when Preston is on one side and Elsa is on the way other and Violet isn’t in her seat yet, Preston will look over at Elsa and give her a little warning scream to show her who is boss. She will give him a short scream back to tell him that she is still the leader of the pack.

In light of Preston and Elsa’s unfriendly interaction lately, we have decided to put Violet in the middle of Elsa and Preston in the car also. It was so sweet because on the way home from My Gym on Friday I looked back and Violet was reaching her hand over to Preston and reaching her other hand over to Elsa and they were all holding hands with each other. Violet is our little peacemaker.

We have a busy couple of weeks ahead of us. This weekend is Ava’s last swim meet and then early next week we head to Thousand Oaks to stay with Dick and Sherri. I plan to do beach day trips, museums, lots of walks, and just enjoy the Southern California scene. By the end of the next week Chris and I head to Paris. There is so much to do to get ready to leave my precious kids that it is overwhelming to think about. I will have to be very organized and plan on making many meals to freeze so everyone can have good lunches and dinners while we are gone. It will be a whirlwind but it will all get done and when I am sitting on that plane I can take a deep breath and enjoy each moment that comes my way.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.

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Preston and His Pink Vacuum

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