Diving Girl

By: Ann

Here’s a quick snippet of when Athena jumped off the diving board last week. Usually kids her age aren’t allowed, even the last “fun day” of class, but our instructor thought that Athena, being the daredevil that she is, would thoroughly enjoy it….and enjoy she did.

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A Bittersweet Update

By: Ann

We have been meaning to be better about updating this blog with current news, but, let’s admit it.  Facebook has made us very lazy.  I sometimes ask myself who exactly are the people that are following us through our blog that aren’t on Facebook (FB)?  I can only come up with 1 or 2 people.  I guess this is for people who want to remain FB free, which is definitely their prerogative.

About a month ago, the Glowczewskis came to visit us for a full week.  It was pretty super awesome.  They came during Jessi’s birthday, so it was a treat having Jessi for her birthday.  I can’t remember the order of events in detail (partially because so much has happened since then), but here are a few pictures of the highlights.  I think we’ve all decided that we’re going to do Disneyland next year and live it up.  It’s very rare that we all get to hang out since they live in Cleveland and all.  Besides, Athena and Asher have to grow to be best friends so that they can go to each other’s proms.

On a  much lower note, a few weeks ago, Gram, Jason’s maternal grandmother, passed away.  It was a long battle of many comorbidities, but at least she was able to spend her final moments with the people that she loved in her own home.  Even though we live all the way in California, it is very surreal thinking about a world without Grammy.  We very much miss seeing her on our weekend webcamming sessions singing “Where Is Thumbkin?” (or “pumpkin” as Athena likes to say) or “Skinnamarinkydinkydink” to Athena on webcam.   She was so generous to accept me into her home when I first moved to the Cleveland area to be near Jason (my then boyfriend).  She was Grammy to all of us.  It pains me to think that my last grandparent is truly gone.  Please excuse how short this section is.  I want to write more about her, but every time I do, I start getting upset again.  So I’m just going to move on…

Father’s day this year was a little grim, since we were just getting over our sad trip from Cleveland.  I tried to make the most of it, though, by spoiling Jason with my culinary skills including homemade  cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberry pancakes for breakfast, treating for Z Pizza (healthy pizza) for lunch, and black bean and quinoa stuffed red peppers for dinner followed by homemade chocolate chip cookies.  We did take Athena to Mitchell Park (a park with ground water fountains), followed by wrapping the day up with our tradition of dancing to 80s Dance Party (which we made an appearance on for my birthday). We’re still working on getting the episode uploaded.  Sorry.

Last week Monday, I started Athena in swim lessons.  They’re not really too structured.  It’s more of a Parent & Tot swim class to learn how to kick, float, and dunk your head underwater.  Athena loved the first two days because it was in the 90s and the water felt great.  She hated the last two days because the temperature was in the 70s.  I felt like I was torturing the poor girl.  She was a trooper, though.  At least she didn’t spend the whole 30 minutes crying like other toddlers.  After last week’s last swim class for the week, I marched over to Costco to find some wetsuits for her.  Hopefully this does the trick.  Jason says I should just let her suffer like he did during the cold Ohio summer mornings of yesteryear, but I don’t want her to become afraid of the water…as I have.  I still have not learned to swim, even after countless swim lessons offered by Jason and even some offered by an actual instructor.  These classes are really great for Athena.  Hopefully she’ll learn to not be as…reckless.  Wish us luck.

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Gardening with your toddler

By Jason

Athena and I did a little gardening today and I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on gardening with a two-year-old. Working in the garden can help build patience, motor skills, and teach children how to care for a living thing. Some of my earliest memories are time spent in the garden with my dad and grandma – it’s great bonding time.

1. Take your child to the store to help pick out planters and other accessories. It’s fun, and children love making decisions. I let Athena pick out her very own watering can. Remember that you have to buy anything that has your child’s teeth marks. Teeth marks are forensic evidence.

2. Show your child the plants as you pick them out, and explain which plants grow tomatoes, strawberries, etc. If it turns out that strawberry plants don’t actually taste like strawberries, don’t worry – your child will spit out the leaves and flowers she has bitten off when you get to the cashier.

3. One of the most important rules of any project is the old saying, “measure twice, cut once.” A two-year-old is probably still too young to take this to heart, but she might just help you figure out how many cubic feet of potting soil you need for the five unmarked containers you’ve purchased by climbing out of the shopping cart and oh my god don’t climb out head first stop just stop it! Sit down! Stop taking off the seat belt!

4. Timing is everything. This is a big day for your child – so you should get an early start! If your daughter naps a little later than usual or you don’t decide to start the project until the last day of the three-day weekend, you can always work frantically, racing against the setting sun to get these stupid strawberries in the stupid dirt that you can’t believe you paid stupid money for. What kind of an idiot buys dirt?

5. Give your child a series of simple tasks that you know they can do, such as putting rocks in the bottom of planters and smoothing out the potting soil. Even if they are excited to help, it’s natural if their attention wanders a bit at this age. Besides I’m sure that jogging stoller was designed to handle the stress of being flipped over, but a child, from within, because it was kicked it so much.

6. Children make great gophers! No, not the small burrowing mammals, I’m talking about having them “go for” various items that you need. For example, if you need a trowel to loosen soil from a very heavy bag perched precariously in one arm, simply ask – “Athena, would you give daddy the shovel? Athena, can you get that shovel? Athena? Hey Athena girl, can you help daddy? See the shovel? Over there. Athena! Hey kiddo! Shovel? Athena! Athena, just look up. Just look up when daddy speaks. So I know you haven’t gone deaf. Athena!”

7. Involve the whole family by handing your child off to your spouse so covered in dirt and filth that she can’t possibly go to bed without another bath.

With these tips in mind, in no time your child will develop quite a “green thumb”. If her thumb physically takes on the color green, don’t worry, it’s just sidewalk chalk. Why is her ear green? Why would you put chalk in your ear? We don’t put the chalk in our ears. Get that out of your mouth! Come back here!

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Things Athena Did Today

By Jason

1. Walked to the train station, actually doing the walking herself. This is a mile or so, and she is two years old. This is not unusual for Athena, we go every week for the farmers’ market, but I just remembered it’s kind of a feat for a two-year-old.

2. Took the train. After months of farmers’-market-induced proximity to the VTA light rail system, I finally took her on the train. This was an amazing experience for Athena. To illustrate: I told Athena she had to “sit nice” when the train started, and she sat in her seat like a human being for 20 minutes straight before reverting to her natural state. In her natural state, Athena is sort of like a lemur that harbors an irrational hatred of chairs.

3. Heard about every ride, live show, and concession available at California’s Great Adventure amusement park in great detail from a nice young man on his way to work at California’s Great Adventure amusement park who also clearly had Asperger syndrome. He was very earnest and helpful and thorough, but looked a little confused about how to say good bye when we got to his stop.

4. Played at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. I won a raffle at work for a year-long family membership, so we are there all the time, to the point where Athena just calls it “museum”.

5. Saw a short ballet dance performance at “museum”. Athena sat patiently as the lady in charge of the youth ballet program talked for 15 minutes straight about the program, upcoming performances, and the bizzare story of the dance we were about to see, which somehow involved a princess falling in love with a boy who put a dead bird in a shoe and smeared mud on it. I know that 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much time, but for a small theater filled with 2-to-6-year-olds who have been promised a princess and dancing it is an agonizing eternity. Athena did pretty well, only asking a couple times “see show?”

From Apr 30, 2011

6. Played in bubble area at the museum without getting covered in soap. Played in the water area without getting soaked. I need to call the Pope and get this miracle certified.

7. Rode a skateboard for the first time, at the San Jose Convention Center train station. She borrowed it from a nice young man who was also waiting for a train. He said she was a bit of a daredevil like himself, and that when he was a kid he sat on a skateboard and rode it down a hill in Santa Cruz all the way to the boardwalk. We have been warned.

8. Took her nap on the train in her daddy’s arms. She woke up at the Mountain View station fully recharged. It was like one of those old Energizer battery commercials, where I was the crappy other toy with the crappy other battery that the bunny always humiliates.

9. Went to the pet store, the book store, and the park on the way home. Saw “Nemo” at the pet store, periodically referenced Finding Nemo from then on.

10. Watched Finding Nemo when we got home. Yeah.

11. Totally showed up this 3-year-old neighbor girl by (1) asking nicely to share a toy she was done with, (2) giving it back when the girl pitched a fit, (3) restraining herself from retaliating when the 3-year-old swatted at her, and (4) saying sorry and “it’s okay” when the 3-year-old started crying. By the way I’m not gloating here – as every parent of a pre-K kid knows, tomorrow the shoe may be on the other foot with Athena as Gollum. I’m just proud of her today.

12. Ran into three different neighbors’ houses through opened doors, a total of 20 times. To Athena, an open door to a neighbor’s house is like a personalized invitation, printed on good stationary, to join their family and pet their dog. By the way a closed door is an invitation to ring the doorbell and bang on said door, and the existence of any windows on the building is an invitation to scale the walls and peer in.

13. Got wished a “happy May Fool’s Day Eve” by a guy walking down the street. I have no idea.

14. Ate the spiciest salsa at the Salvadoran place down the street. She invited herself to dinner with a random guy who was nice enough to give her some tortilla chips. Before either of us could stop her, she dipped a chip in his salsa, and took a big bite. I froze, expecting catastrophe. For an agonizing second, no reaction – and then a shudder, and a quick gasp and she was fine. She washed it down with a swig from her grape juicebox. Note to self: pepper spray probably no longer effective against Athena, local SWAT teams will have to adapt.

15. Took a bath. This sounds like no big deal but if you’ve ever been involved in bathtime with Athena you know it’s like the percussion section of a marching band jumping up and down inside a car wash for 25 minutes. After which the band members scream at you like you are stabbing them when in actuality you are attempting to apply lotion.

I am so very tired.

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Skiing, sort of

By Jason

I’ve never been skiing before, so I was pretty excited to go on a trip with my co-workers at Google to Northstar at Tahoe. On the off chance that there’s anyone else in the world who hasn’t been skiing, I thought I would share all the things that I learned this past weekend.

- Green runs are the easiest, blue are harder, and black and double-black are the hardest. You can’t completely compare this scale from one mountain to another, but you can be sure that blue is too hard if you’ve never put skis on before. Another good rule of thumb is that the green is probably also too hard.

- As you are hurtling down the blue run, don’t worry if you’re having a hard time applying the lessons your friends are shouting to you between falls. You will have plenty of time to absorb the lessons when you get to a green run like you should in the first place. What is wrong with you?

- Ski boots are large and clunky. Even with adjustments they are pretty uncomfortable. If they are so uncomfortable that they abrade skin off your calves and shins, you need to readjust. It should only take you about half a day to figure this out.

- Skiing is expensive. Getting to and from the resort, renting a cabin, renting skis, boots, and other equipment, lift tickets, eating at the resort, etc. all ads up. The “village” at the resort is really a mall filled with expensive boutiques. I hear there are some pretty good deals if you buy a package deal with lessons, sort of how cartoon drug dealers in Just Say No ads used to give out the first dose for free.

- You should bring sunscreen on ski trips – despite the cold, your face can get exposed to a lot of UV rays. I also avoided sunburn by spending a lot of time with my face down in the snow and my arms and legs strewn about.

- To slow down, point the front of the skis toward each other and dig in with the inside edges. To really successfully employ this technique, it helps if you have done any exercise in the past year and your legs have not atrophied under a computer desk.

- Don’t be surprised to see little kids learning to ski too – and some very young kids zooming down the slopes with amazing skill. I hated them so much.

- If you are on a slope that’s too steep, you can get down by zig-zagging across instead of going straight down. I often felt like I was starting to go too fast and lose control, but in retrospect I wasn’t really. Speed = distance / time, and once I added up all the time I spent untangling my legs and standing back up, I had averaged a quite leisurely pace after all.

- When your friend calls to ask “Are you okay, I heard you had a big fall?” she is going to have to be more specific than that.

Extra special thanks to Tilek and Wysz for teaching me how to ski and sticking with me when they could have had more fun actually skiing.

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Christmas in Cleveland – Part 1

By Jason

We spent this last Christmas having a wonderful time visiting my side of the family in Cleveland. Before I get to all the cute pictures and such, let me tell you that getting from Mountain View, CA to Cleveland, OH with a 2-year-old isn’t easy. No matter how early we book and select seats we can’t seem to convince the airlines to consistently put Athena in the same row as her parents. I can only imagine Delta Airlines thought we needed a break and assumed the random strangers in row 13 would happily take care of a bored toddler for several hours. And as for USAir, who placed Athena by herself in an exit row, I can only imagine they are insane.

I have to imagine because we were unable to talk to anyone at the airline the night before the flight, even after several hours on the phone. I was only able to get anything done by calling tech support for their website, where the kind young man assured me that giving the responsibility of opening the emergency door and deploying the life rafts to a tiny person who is constantly putting shoes in her mouth was a “bug” and that I should just hit “continue”.

Ann and I had set ourselves up for our own “bug” by trying a new way to get to SFO. We normally park at one of the off-site lots but we found that the Millbrae BART station has very inexpensive airport parking and a train to the airport. It turns out that two of Athena’s favorite things are getting on trains and being pushed around SFO at a flat run by crazed parents. It also turns out that it takes two transfers to get from Millbrae to our gate. In any event, my co-worker Sandy has informed me of a brilliant way to avoid all of these hassles for future flights so Athena will have to deal.

Bonus trivia! Did you know that when I’m completely naked, I don’t look like a terrorist? This fun fact courtesy of the TSA. When monochrome images of Paris Hilton’s assets were broadcast on computer screens, she got her own TV show, so I’m expecting a call from one of Lionel Richie’s kids any day now.

I complain, but we did manage to get there eventually and it was great to catch up with friends and family. We stayed in my parents’ new house in Sagamore Hills. It’s really nice, and a lot bigger than their old place. Athena got to see her Grammie and Grandpa and Uncle Ryan and Aunt Laura in person, which is always a nice upgrade from Skype or Google Chat.


Our first night we ran off to dinner with the Glowczewski’s. Asher and Athena get along really well – Athena is still periodically asking about him. We left the kids with my parents and snuck off to dinner at The Vegeterranean, a vegan restaurant in Akron. It was delicious.


Ann was just getting over a cold at this point, and Athena ended up picking it up that night. She didn’t let it stop her from chasing two puppies around the house all day, but she did spend a couple of nights sleeping with us sitting upright because of a horrible cough.

Ryan and Laura with their new puppy, Krumpet:

We visited with the Delly family, here’s Athena escaping from a nice photo with baby Henry:

We also visited with JJ, Jess, Rachel, and the Glows:

Here’s Ann eating maple sugar cotton candy – that’s right, the technology exists to turn maple syrup into maple sugar, and then spin the sugar into cotton candy. It’s what the clouds in heaven taste like:

After Athena coughed in my face for a few hours I caught the bug too. This ruined my plans to take Athena sledding somewhere, build a snowman, etc. but she did get out in the snow so her uncle could teacher her how to throw snowballs:

Christmas morning was a lot of fun, Athena really got into opening presents this year (she even woke me one morning by asking, “presents?”)

I’m going to break here and write more soon. If you’re interested in seeing the literally hundreds of photos, check out the link below:

Christmas 2010
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