Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Time!

Summer time! 4th of July Weekend picnic at Big Basin.

Yes, summer finally arrived in the Bay Area sometime in early July, though the weather occasionally lapses back into early Spring. Just this morning, Elaine was bugging me to put on the heat. I refuse on principle -- or as she puts it, "because you insisted it was broiling hot in here even though it was 64 degrees!" Same difference.

Anyway, the kids are doing really well these days. Huge leaps forward in language in the last couple months. In fact Maddy's speech therapist may discharge her at the end of August. In the spring she had several notable delays and was referred for therapy, and by the time we were able to get an appointment with the speech therapist, she had already met or exceeded most of her goals. That's the tough thing with preemies (and kids in general I'd guess): you worry and worry about the things they can't do and then suddenly they wake up one day and do it.

Milo has also taken big leaps forward. In fact during yet still another evaluation (unrelated to the series they had in May/June) he tested in the range of normal in all areas, though he was on the low side of normal on cognitive and language (just like Dad). The evaluator was very surprised that he qualified for any services at all with the school district. Huh?!

We also paid a visit to the kids' pediatrician in late June for the 3-year check-up. Everything looked good under the hood. The kids were weighed and measured and here's the break down: Maddy weighed in at a robust 32 lbs. and was 37" tall. That places her in about the 60th percentile for weight and the 45th percentile for height for full-term girls. Who'd a thought, eh?

Maddy munches in the great outdoors Big Basin.

Milo was a lean, mean 27 lbs (as of end of June) and was 36" tall. That places him in the 5th -10th percentile for weight and the 20th percentile for height for a full-term boy. Milo is pretty jacked though - the kid's calves are far bigger proportionally than mine ever were, and he's sporting a six pack. Crazy.

Standing tall - Milo mugs for the camera at Big Basin.

I was a little worried about Milo's lack of weight gain over the last few months, but he was just getting over being pretty sick. Overall, he eats well and is extremely active - so for now, no worries. He also looks like he may have gained a little weight since the check-up.

As you've probably noticed from the pictures above, the family braved the 4th of July traffic for an outing to Big Basin State Park. Turned out to be a great day! The kids loved playing in the trees (see above) and ended up meeting another little girl along the trail. The three of them walked and ran the entire half mile loop through the woods, though with all the doubling back, it was probably closer to a mile or more. Ice cream and popsicles were had afterward making for happy and sticky kids. (BTW: Maddy loves ice cream, but Milo will only eat popsicles - hence his low weight and toned tummy.)

Mom and M&M at the Alameda July 4th Parade.

4th of July also means parades. Alameda brags that it has the longest 4th of July parade in the country. Not sure if it's true or not, but it seemed pretty long. Most of the floats were great, but a few were suspect. I'm thinking of the one entitled "People Who Weren't in the Alameda 4th of July Parade Last Year!" Maddy was tired and a little overwhelmed by all the sites and spent most of the parade on Mom's lap. Milo enjoyed his giant cookie and took in the entire spectacle.

Maddy & Mom rockin' out!

We probably let the kids watch too much TV, but the good news is they only seem to like shows with lots of music and they never stand still. Even Mommy can't resist a little jig. Notice Maddy has taken to picking out her own clothing. The fine outfit above was included in a little costume chest she got for her birthday. Maddy likes to wear the skirt with pretty much all of her other outfits. It makes a fine addition, doesn't it?

Friends Chris, Baby Kate & Emily - July 2011.

This summer has also meant lots of visits with friends and many, many birthday parties. We got down to Redwood City to visit with our friends Chris, Emily, and Baby Kate who just turned 1. They happen to live next to one of the best city parks I've ever been to, complete with a mini-water park (see picture just below).

Maddy & Mom enjoying the water on a hot day.

Ellie's 2nd Birthday.

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays! I'm certain that a substantial portion of Maddy's weight comes from cake frosting -- the Pixie's favorite food. Above, Maddy eyes the goods at her friend Ellie's birthday. (Ellie is the younger sister of Callie, who at age 4 is Maddy's idol.)

Callie & Maddy do some quality noshing - July 2011.

More birthday scenes: Riley's first birthday.

Beyond cheap food and entertainment for the kids, one of the up-shots of so many birthday parties is that we've ended up meeting a lot of other families and discovering a few great new spots for the kids. Riley's birthday was at the Roberts Regional Recreation area, which ended having one of the coolest playscapes we've ever seen yet (except maybe Happy Hollow, but that required an entry fee). It came complete with an enclosed slide, kids' boulder climbing area, and all kinds of other great stuff.

Mom awaits Milo - July 2011 - Roberts Reg. Rec. Area.

Milo jogs back to the playscape after grabbing a quick snack.

Since the kids are now 3, we decided to try our hand at a family camping trip. We're headed out in August to Humboldt Redwoods State Park to give it a whirl. In the run up, I went ahead and set up my backpacking tent in the backyard and - of course - made a few key gear purchases for M&M. We've committed to at least 2 nights, but we're shooting for 3 or 4 if all goes well!

Above: M&M try out there new sleeping bags, which are a hit so far! Maddy has insisted on sleeping with hers several nights over the last week and not just because I'm cheap with the heat either.

M&M practice the essential art of entering and exiting a tent - repeatedly.

The kids also visited their giraffes, lions, and other pets, which we generously house at the Oakland Zoo. Above: Rhea, Maddy and backwards Milo.

Rhea, Maddy & Milo checkout the alligator.

Milo pets the business end of the sheep.

The kids seem to be sleeping less and less during the day. Maddy in particular is starting to skip naps on the weekend. It really would do the little girl's disposition a world of good to sleep for an hour at least, but she'll typically have none of it. Above: Mom & Maddy work the Gruffalo puzzle while Milo sleeps soundly.

To end on an up note... Summer is all about rockin' out, and we've stumbled on to a nice free venue near the house. There's an open shopping center that's featuring some pretty respectable live music for free on Saturday evenings. And there's booze on hand! Yeah, I was shocked too. The first week we saw some pretty solid Latin Jazz by a group called Edgardo & Candela. The kids absolutely loved it. Yesterday it was Fish Bear - a mix of ska, klezmer, and rock that actually works really well.

Above: Maddy & Milo get down to business. As you can see, Maddy's dance is very pure, raw, and emotional. She leaves nothing behind.

Rockin' out is even better with friends. Above: Nicola, Maddy & Milo playing games after dancing to tune the tunes of Fish Bear and having a nice Chinese dinner. What more could a kid want?

See you next month with a full account of the camping trip and other developments. Wish us luck.