Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lessons learned

Most of the time when I ask Lucas what he learned at school, he says, "Nothing." I didn't think I would get that response until at least 5th grade.

But the past couple nights, Lucas has let on more than he normally does.

"Bon Appetit"
Two nights ago, we were going to eat some snacks before his bath. We spent a while shelling pistachios. When there were no more to shell, I ate a couple.

Lucas said, "Mommy, we didn't say 'bon appetit' yet." I didn't totally understand him at first, but then he said, "Okay, I'll say it, 'Bon appetit, now we can eat'." He obviously didn't get that from us.

The Golden Rule
Last night I asked Lucas what he learned at school. He said, "Treat others how you want them to treat you. That's the golden rule." I asked him what that means. He said, "Mommy, listen to me. You be nice to other people, don't you want other people to be nice to you?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

36 is the new 70

at least according to Lucas.

We were on the couch, pretending to be in a boat. We were going to venture out past the crocodiles and sharks to get some snacks.

Lucas said, "Mommy, don't go by yourself. You're an old woman. I'm a big boy, so you come with me, it's too dangerous for old ladies."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happy anniversary!

We all went out to sushi the other night to celebrate our 8-year wedding anniversary.

As we were driving to the restaurant, Lucas said excitedly, "This is the McKay car! It's just our little family, yay!"

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend party #2

We went to a party tonight for our friends, Kimberley and Dan, who will be married in a couple weeks. It was kind of like a couples shower, but without any shower-type games. With mostly adults at the party, Lucas improvised and soon made good friends with Yalki, the mini schnauzer who lives there, throwing the ball for him in the backyard. After a while, he found Sean's disposable camera and proceeded to take pictures, first of just his eyeball.

Then someone told him to turn the camera around. So he did.

We can't wait to see what the pictures look like!

Weekend party #1

Saturday afternoon we went to a birthday party in Memorial Park. After much playing around on the jungle gym, riding his tricycle, Lucas was ready for the penultimate activity - the pinata (or as he calls it, the empanada).

While Lucas waited in line, he did the proper warm-up to the event.

After a few tries, he knocked that pinata right off the tree. It took a few more rounds of kids bashing it in to open it up and get the goods. Then, the final activity of the party, Lucas' favorite.
Sidenote: Check out these beautiful cupcakes. The grandmother slaved away for 6 hours making these gorgeous creations. She sliced up marshmallows, which took the most time she said, then just decorated them with sprinkles and artfully placed them on top of the cupcakes. Not only were they beautiful, they were delicious too.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Put a lion in your heart

This can be classified under the uncanny things that kids do and say.

Probably about six months ago, when we were still in the apartment, I showed Lucas some of these cards from the Creative Whack Pack, that I had from a brainstorming session.

Lucas just found these cards this morning, he picked one up and said, "Put a lion in your heart."

And that's exactly what it said.

So after reading the explanation, I asked him the key question, "What gives you the courage to act on your ideas? What puts a lion in your heart?"

His reply, "When mommy tells me to go to bed and I don't want to."

Closing the age gap

Friday late afternoon we had a play date with Whitney and Julian. It started out slowly, Lucas was hot/cold about sharing his toys with a 22 month old. There were a couple time-outs for Lucas.

But by the end, they were having a great time jumping up and down on Lucas' bed.

After our guests left, I asked Lucas if he had a good time. Lucas said, "Julian is very cool, for a baby."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blue ghosts

Lucas and I had this discussion the other morning.

Me: Did you have any dreams last night?
Lucas: No, not really.
Me: I dreamed about purple elephants (not really, I just used it as a conversation starter)
Lucas: I dreamed about blue ghosts (see, it worked)
Me: Ooh, what did they look like?
Lucas: They were brown with one purple foot and one orange foot.
Me: Wow!
Lucas: And they had 5 eyes and 5 butts. And it had black hair.
Me: Oh I thought you said you dreamed about blue ghosts?
Lucas: Well some of them were blue and some weren't.
Me: That explains it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Concert in the Park

During this month, the local park has a "Concert in the Park" every Thursday night.

We went last night with Lori and Owen. It was a blast! It had a small-town feel to it, we saw a bunch of people we knew. Of course, it definitely had a Berkeley-like twist to it. It was worlds away from the more staid and definitely less colorful concerts in the park we attended last summer in Moraga.

The park was packed with families picknicking on the grass. Oh, and did I mention the dancing? Owen and Lucas did their own form of dancing, which mostly consisted of running around, pushing each other, and the occasional bodyslam to me.

To really capture the feeling of the night, check out this video.

A little spooky

Lucas loves tortillas by themselves. Lately he's been taking to biting holes in the tortillas to make interesting patterns, like an L, or this (see photo at left).

It's a little spooky. He calls it his "Bones of Fred McFee" mask. "Bones" is a book about a skeleton that he sometimes likes us to read to him. He insists he wants to be Bones for Halloween, complete with his tortilla mask, so I bought him this (see photo at right), which doubles as PJs.

Now I just have to figure out how to get a tortilla like this strapped to his head!

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Isn't it bootiful?"

After a big day of not doing much of anything, I laid down on the couch to rest for a bit. Lucas was upstairs with Kevin and his suitcase of stickers (Lucas' not Kevin's). After a while, I heard Lucas come down the stairs.

Lucas was carrying one of his prized cars, newly adorned with stickers.

Lucas: Look mama, look what I made for you. Isn't it bootiful?

Me: Wow, it's the most beautiful car I've ever seen! I love it! Thanks for making that for me.

Lucas: You love it? You really do? I made it for you. I think it's bootiful. See all the colorful, shiny stickers?

Me: Yes, I really really love it Lucas. It's the most beautiful car ever!

Lucas (pointing out various stickers): See, I put on purple and blue stickers. You like those colors right?

Me: I love purple and blue. They're my favorite colors.

Lucas: Me too. We must be best friends.

Me: We sure are.

Tips for a successful play "date"

Here are some tips from Lucas, the typical 3 year old swinging bachelor, on getting close to that special someone.

Ella came over for a play date on Saturday and Lucas quickly put his strategy in place.

#1. Start slowly. Do something completely platonic that both of you enjoy, like play-doh or just hanging out at the train table.
#2. Flatter her. Ask her to do something that you know she really likes, like ballet. Make sure you flatter her enthusiastic but rudimentary attempts at Swan Lake. Even while flattering, honesty is your best bet: "I've never seen Swan Lake performed quite like that before", "That's a unique interpretation of that ballet.", "Wow, you really put your all into it."And be attentive.

#3. Order her meal for her. Most girls like a guy who can take charge (though there are exceptions). Find something you both like and then place your order. "Mommy, Ella and I will both have the peanut butter and honey sandwich on wheat. With some canteloupe on the side, in a different bowl. And can we have water with straws please?"

#4. Get cozy. Ask your mom to read a book after lunch. Here are a couple that usually get positive responses from the little ladies.

"Little Bear" (Wow, that Little Bear is so sweet and funny, kind of like Lucas.)

"Japanese Folk Tales" (Gee, I never knew Lucas was so worldly and cultured.)

Choosing the right book can make or break a date. Don't choose anything too boy-ish, but don't sway too much to the girl side either. If you pick something like "The Paper Princess" she might think you'll never be anything but just a good friend, or worse yet, someone who she can look to for advice on shoes and tu-tus.

#5. Make your move, timing is key. Make sure everything is in place. Ella was all cozy on the couch from storytime. Then, I waited patiently for my mom to finally leave the room, and see, I just cuddled up to her.

Final tip, when your date says, "You need to get off of my lap now." Oblige politely, if somewhat reluctantly. There's always the next play date.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Literary discussion

I think Lucas and Ella had their first meeting of a book group today in the car.

Lucas: Hey Ella, have you ever read that book, "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!"
Ella: No. I don't think so.
Lucas: It's a blue book. And it's got a pigeon on the front.
Ella: I have lots of books.
Lucas: Me too.
Ella: I love all my books.
Lucas: Me too.

This was the most intense discussion I've heard between Lucas and another kid about books.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Will Cuddle Mavel please come forward?

Lately, when I make up stories for Lucas he wants to hear about Thomas and all his friends. He asks for each of them by name "Thomas and Gordon and Toby and Salty..." and the names keep coming because he knows about 12 of them. Then, he'll throw in "and Cuddle Mavel".

The first time I heard about Cuddle Mavel, I asked him to repeat the name. Yep, I heard right, Cuddle Mavel.

But, just who is Cuddle Mavel? I went to the Thomas the Train character guide, but couldn't find anyone with that name, or even any name that sounds similar. I Googled Cuddle Mavel, Cuddle Mabel to see if I could find him, thinking he may be a character in a storybook he heard of. Nope, I still came up empty-handed.

According to Lucas, Cuddle Mavel is not only the biggest train, he is also the nicest, oh, and he's brown. He has been the hero in many made-up stories over the past couple weeks. We even roleplay this mysterious character -- Lucas or I will be Cuddle Mavel and the other will be Toby or Gordon or another train.

Last night Lucas wanted to see Thomas and his freinds on the computer. I pulled up the character guide and he asked for the ones he knows by name. Then he asked the big question, "Can I see Cuddle Mavel?" I kind of poked around and showed him 2 or 3 different ones asking, "Is this Cuddle Mavel?" He said no to these. I was running out of options, he had to be a brown train. Then I clicked on Old Slow Coach. Lucas exclaimed, "There he is, that's Cuddle Mavel!"

Thank god I found you, Cuddle Mavel.

Last of the LeapFroggers

The LeapFrog marketing alumni met up on Thursday night at Kitty's Bar, a relatively new outpost in Emeryville.
Who was there? The usual suspects. We were getting together to see Deb, who was in town from NYC. There was also something else that was happening, it was the last time we would get together with someone still working at the Frog. At the end of the month, Whitney will be saying farewell to the Frog after 6 years of employment.

Most of us have been gone from LeapFrog for 2-3 years already, yet we still keep in regular touch. That was one of the nice perks about working in such a crazed and manic environment, it created super-close friendships.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New school - day two

On Lucas' 2nd day a funny thing happened with him and Ella.

Jennifer, Ella's mom, and I have been close friends since 6th grade. Ella and Lucas went to the same school last year, and are now in the same class at their new school. It's funny, we've had zillions of play dates with Ella, but they never really interact since usually Ella is sitting quietly gluing things to paper and Lucas is running around like a madman.

Lucas tried to "help" by pushing Ella on the tricycle. But Ella, who is already riding a big kid bike at home, didn't really want help. Though Lucas, the tenacious little fellow that he is, continued to try and "help" her. Who says chivalry is dead in this day and age?

Finally Lucas managed his way into the driver seat. But Lucas found that it was hard to pedal while pushing another kid, who is at least a head taller than him.

After about 5 minutes of going back and forth on this, they parted ways and each found their own tricycle. It was nice to see them finally playing together. Lucas would say, "Ella look at me!" And Ella would be on her tricycle, "Lucas follow me!" It's probably very comforting for them to have a familiar face in a much bigger school.

And after 3 years of trying to get them to pose together for a photo, I finally got it!

I picked him up at 3 again, this time with my mom. He had another great day, no accidents, went to the bathroom with all the other kids, and talked and played with the other kids. And again, he didn't want to leave, so that's a good sign.

New school - day one

Lucas started at his new school, Growing Light Montessori, on Tuesday. I was very nervous about how he would adjust, as changes and transitions are hard for most 3 year olds.

In addition to adjusting to his new teachers, classmates, and everything else that comes along with going to a new school, I wondered about how he would do with going to the bathroom. He's been diaper-free for going pee since May, and just last Thursday started pooping in the toilet. I expected some setback on that front, but wanted him to succeed just the same.

Lucas insisted on wearing his PJ top. It was clean, so we went with it.

Kevin and I hung out with him on the playground. He was thrilled with the plethora of tricycles and scooters that littered the playground. He would go off and play and then run toward me (as seen in the photo) and dole out one of his "body slams". He liked climbing this one tree and was told repeatedly by another kid, "You can't climb the tree, it's against the rules." I didn't know if this was the case, so we gave Lucas the benefit of the doubt, he was really enjoying himself.

Once playtime was over, the kids lined up and walked up to their classroom. They settled into circle time and his teacher Javanka played the guitar and sang some Spanish songs. Lucas on the other hand, sat by my feet. He would inch closer to the circle and look at me, I would nod and make a little pushing movement with my hand, like "Go ahead, it's okay to sit in the circle." After about 5 minutes he was sitting with the other kids.

While Javanka was singing, one or two kids at a time would go in the middle of the circle and dance/skip around. It was the cutest thing ever, since most 3-4 year olds can't really skip or dance, but they did it with such enthusiasm, it was great to see. I didn't take a picture because I didn't want the kids to be too aware of the adults at the back of the room. However, now that I think about it, these kids are too young to be that self-conscious and probably would have been pleased that their dances were being recorded by someone. Next time.

Lucas was a little clingy when we said bye, but was placated by the fact that it was snack time. (The boy loves food!).

I came back to pick him up at 3. I was pleased to see he was in the same clothes (which meant no accidents) and also diaper free! Javanka and Nobu said he had a great first day and was talkative and outgoing once we left. When Lucas saw me, he ran up and the first thing he said was, "I went pee twice in the toilet!". Then, he didn't want to leave, as they had just finished naps and came to the playground. So I hung out and he played for quite a while. Then I took him for a celebratory snack to Bette's and then to the Ark where I let him pick out one toy (from the wide variety of pricey toys, he chose the $5 train).

We celebrated at home with one of his favorite dinners, home-made chicken nuggets, with extra ketchup.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pro-nun-ci-a-tion and im-i-ta-tion

The other day I was reading "Jumanji" to Lucas, and we got to the part about the volcano and lava.

Lucas: Oh I know 'lava', it's a little bug, right?
Me: Actually, that's 'lar-va'.
Lucas: La-va.
Me: LAR-va is the little bug and LA-va is the hot stuff that comes from a volcano. Can you say "LAR-vuh"?
Lucas: LA-vuh.
Me: Close. Say it with me, "LARRR-vuh".
Lucas: LAR-vuh
Me: Good, now "LA-vuh"
Lucas: LA-vuh.
Me: Nice

A few hours later, we were talking about food and he said something about celery.

Me: Did you just say "celery"?
Lucas: Yes, celery. Can you say ''cel-uh-reee''? Say it now, ''cel-uh-reeeeee''!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Scenes from a family photo shoot

Last weekend, a friend of mine from work took some Choi family photos for us, so we could give some to mom as her belated bday gift. They turned out great.

The last time we took photos of the Choi siblings was in 1998, just before Kevin and I got married and Rocky left for China for the Peace Corps.

A lot has changed since then.
No, Kevin and Joe did not call each other that morning to say, "Dude, let's both wear our olive green shirts!"

It takes a lot to get a good shot of Lucas these days, with him looking at the camera. This would have been an even better shot, if Lucas wasn't pulling my hair with one hand and reaching for the camera with the other. We celebrated a successful photo shoot with lunch at Fenton's, and ice cream of course. Kevin ordered a small sundae, which at Fenton's means about 3 scoops! I opted for the petite size, which is about 1.5 scoops.
Here's Lucas leaving Fenton's, after eating almost an entire bowl of chocolate ice cream, with two cookies in hand. I guess he inherited his penchant for sweet from both of us.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow."