Wednesday, September 6, 2017

San Antonio's version of a Hurricane

While many of my favorite people were hunkered down in Houston and watching the water rise in our favorite city, I was stuck with a little drizzle and three bored kiddos stuck inside here in San Antonio.  I have nothing to complain about from that weekend, we took it easy and had fun together. Here is a little snapshot of Zahra and Zayd getting creative on Day 3.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Z3 and the return of School Day Friday

Now that school is back in session, it means me and my little Z3 get to spend some time together! Friday is just about us!

Frankly, it used to just be about me and my to do list. Ziyan was so young and pretty much up for any adventure as long as he had his Tula carrier and an on-demand access to milk, so last spring we didn't focus on him, so to speak. Now, he has loves and interests. Books to start! I can tell that we are going to read at least a dozen books every Friday. He has favorite songs (Happy and You Know It, Ants Go Marching, and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes) that I will surely be singing on demand. He loves to do his shape sorting, throw a ball, play with his Minnie Mouse vaccuum that he INSISTED I buy, and eat sweet things preferably made from chocolate. He is the best little tubby Mammen I ever could want.

Tonight, he sat on the couch with all four of us "big Mammens" and kissed us each in turn. He might have given out 50 kisses, each with a giant toothy grin and an adorable smacking Mwa! sound. He is the best 3rd baby anyone has ever hoped for. I am so glad that he is my Friday date, every Friday.

Here he is on that very first Friday after enjoying a delicious croissant at Commonwealth Coffee House.

First Day of School at ALA 2017

I am negligent on posting first day of school pictures and then realized that I never posted last day of school pictures from June! SO, I offer up a twofer.

First, here are the kids headed off to their last days of school just before summer, Zayd to say goodbye to Ms. Alyson and Kindergarten, and Zahra to say goodbye to Montessori Schoolhouse and Ms. Lee. I was really much sadder to be leaving MSH than I expected. Both of my kids really blossomed there and grew into such interesting people.

Zahra didn't understand why she didn't have a sign like she does on the FIRST day of she made one. Again, MSH was the perfect environment to challenge this precocious four year old.

Fast forward 90 days, a lot of time with Joe and a few vacations, and you get to mid-August and a back to school advcnture for my kiddoes.

I am terrified of sending Zahra back to Pre-K 4, this time in a public school, but I really want her to be with her proper grade. I don't want her facing college at 17; I think she might self limit with her college choices (or we might!) to compensate for her age. I remember some young women at Bryn Mawr who were just 16 and they didn't get quite the full experience. I can't imagine what that looks like at a bigger school. So, maybe we mess around and tweak this year a little, but eventually we get her into a village model at ALA where she can do 2nd grade work in Kindergarten and all is well. I just have to hold on for that. And she does too. Since we are a couple weeks in, I can report that she likes it quite a bit but insists that they don't have to work, they just play. She studied for Zayd's first spelling test and got an 80 during our at-home exam, but frankly spelling OF as UV kind "uv" makes sense. :)

Zayd was excited to go back to school. The village model really works for him too. He has great friends and a wonderful teacher. He has reported some rough days and has a hard time being nice to so many people for such a long time (his words).

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Path of Totality

Well folks, we did it! (To be honest, we are still currently trekking back from the path of totality, but for this hellish commute I think we're past the part where we are stuck in a poop-filled potato field so, really, we are on the upswing.)

Honestly, for days we'd been doubting whether we should attempt this crazy trip. This is despite it being the purpose of our trip out West and even despite the hours of research I did that informed me Idaho or coastal Oregon were the best visibility options. Two days ago, after reading the LA Times article about how terrified tiny Idaho Falls was or the near constant warning from the Salt Lake City news that we were surely diving into an apocalypse, I was even shaky with our commitment to be real eclipse chasers. Now, having done it and despite being up from 4am until likely 1am tomorrow and this hellacious traffic, I would do it again with 1000% confidence that it's worth it. It really was.

The excitement and community we built with strangers out in Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls, the hours spent just being a family, killing time outside, and making memories, and the actual gobsmacking beauty of a total eclipse made for an exceptional afternoon. The price we're paying now won't be what we carry home with us.

So, what was it like? Was totality really as cool as everyone said it would be. Yes! I think so!

We were up at 4am and on the road twenty minutes later. The kids slept until 6:30 and we were pulling into Idaho Falls around 7:30. We had company on the highway but no traffic. I had researched and researched and discovered that Tautphaus Park would have large grassy fields, restrooms, a playground, an amusement park and a zoo in walking distance. We had a morning picnic of croissants and chocolate cake and made friends with the families around us. Sam took all of the kids to check out the skate park and I got to stretch out (and call my momma!). Later I discovered that the big kids we're actually sliding into the bowl of the skate park and then running up the sides, and pulling themselves up and over the edge. Goodness. It was Zahra's ripped skirt and dirt smudged nose that gave it away. But! The kids loved it and I'm pretty sure we can convince them to go to the skate park near us with their wheels. So, win win for everyone other than that skirt.

We did origami in the park and had a crowd of five year olds come join us. We played soccer and even Ziyan was dribbling and kicking. We stretched out on a fuzzy blanket, glasses on and watched the sun slowly get eaten by the Moon. "Mommy, it looks like the Moon took a bite out of the sun," conjectured Zahra. "Or a dragon!" posited Zayd. We had an hour and eighteen minutes between that first tiny bite and totality and we spent it together in anticipation and it was simply lovely. Everyone spread out on their blanket was so friendly and talkative. We shared stories about where we came from, what we were eating, and how the traffic had been. We shared glasses and origami papers and insights about the sun. (Mormons were there sharing free books!) Aman nearby was the local expert and he had a special countdown timer. By thirty and then definitely by ten seconds the whole park was woohooing and yelling and joyous. I can't actually explain why, other than a buildup of energy that we were all engaged in together.

When we reached totality suddenly it was truly dark. The horizon had the dewy pink hue of sunset for 365°, which was truly spectacular. The corona of the sun flamed and flared around the moon in a truly magical way. Seeing the sun slowly disappear, you come to understand how magnificently powerful it really is. At 60% covered, it didn't seem any darker and even at 90% we could still see one another. Just before it disappeared strange (apparently unexplained) wavy shadows danced on the sidewalks. And the second it was gone, it got so cold.

During totality Zahra especially buzzed around and I felt teary. Zayd offered to pick her up so she could get a closer look. Then...double teary. Sam seemed awestruck. Ziyan slept through the entire thing, just like I hoped he would. It was two minutes of unthrottled excitement and maybe even euphoria. Let's just say, I can't wait for 2024. But also, the adventure, minus this horrific commute we're still slugging through, made it more special. We built up the suspense for so long, skipped out on our normal lives, and journeyed halfway across the country together and then witnessed what felt like a miracle but was actually better, it was science!

We bummed around Idaho for some hours, rode the ferris wheel, visited the zoo, and ate. We attempted to leave around four but the traffic made is about ship nearly an hour in. Fifteen minutes later, we were touring the Museum of Idaho with 300 other eclipse chasers. We're now two hours into our late night trek headed for SLC. Wish us luck!

PS As a last hurrah, the sunset tonight over the mountains and fields of Idaho was magic. The sun was was an enormous orange disk, the sky so pink. What a great day for our solar system's prized jewel.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Frio Adventurers

We spent one of our last summer weekends at the Frio. Just like real Texans.

We rented a house at the Concan Country Club (unlike most Texans) and enjoyed days at the river and evenings in the pool.

The kids had a great time with 12 kids running around and we enjoyed having some one else (neighbor kids) entertain them!