Saturday, May 31, 2008

Viva Lake Tahoe!

We just got back from a fabulous trip to Lake Tahoe with my family to celebrate my mom's birthday. Her birthday isn't till August, but since my sister will be having baby #2 then, we bumped up the celebration.

We were really looking forward to this, as it's the first Choi family vacation since Banff in 1998, when Kevin and I were newly engaged, and my sister and her husband were "just friends". And I hate to admit this, but after coming to Tahoe at least once a year when I was a kid, it's my first trip up to Tahoe in more than 15 years!!

First of all, the house was amazing! Even by Dollar Point standards, I was still surprised. It was right across the street from the lake, and it was huge! Kevin, Lucas and I had our own suite upstairs, which featured a Jacuzzi tub and shower/sauna.

Back to our vacation ... We had a wide range of weather while we were up there (and it had snowed just days before we arrived). Chilly, sunny, hail, thunder, and rain. That being said, we still had a great time. We took daily walks to the beach, swam, biked, and hiked.
We also spent a lot of time indoors playing pool, playing board games, and just relaxing. With a house like this, there were plenty of nooks and crannies where you could go and curl up with a book, or just take a nap!
Lucas is at that age (4 and 11/12ths) where he's really into board games, especially when the rest of us are engaged in a game. I taught him the finer points of Scrabble, which he thoroughly enjoyed. We also played a game called Apples to Apples (which was way above his head with things like "the Mafia", JFK, atomic bomb). But he was a trooper and played as best he could. He would even look at the cards in his hand in the most discerning way, probably not comprehending or even able to read most of them, and put one down saying, "I'm going to have to go with this one," or "Aha, I have the winner," and other things he would hear us say.

One of our other favorite indoor pastimes was eating, of course...we ate in for every meal taking turns cooking and cleaning so my mom didn't have to take up her usual station in the kitchen. We ate ice cream every night after dinner and snacked all day ... we were quite indulgent.

But a Choi vacation wouldn't be the same without karaoke. My mom has a nifty little karaoke gadget that has a slew of Korean songs, but also some American and pop/rock tunes. While my mom took care of the Korean tunes and her token Elvis songs, Kevin rocked the house with his renditions of "Staying Alive" in this crazy falsetto voice. The rest of us took our turns "on stage" and took the jeers and mocking that came with some of our performances.

Here's Rocky and I doing our standard version of "Fame" with Kevin providing some seated dance moves.
We also had the cutest backup band ever. Lucas took the microphone a couple times and belted out "Row Your Boat" and "This Land is Your Land". Bedtime was another rule we broke on this vacation with the kids staying up to at least 10 every night.

Here's a Choi family photo on the beach. It took several takes for us to get one where we're all looking in the right direction (kids), smiling (kids+Kevin), and not blinking (everyone).
Lucas and I engaging in some shadow boxing as we were getting ready to leave.

And this is our family dream house, right down the street from where we stayed. It's on sale for a cool $4.5 million, so we're putting our pennies together. We'll be back!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New trick

Here's a new game Lucas and I made up.

If you're wondering what is on Lucas' head, it's a very plush eye shade I got for my 3-day walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another possible career for Lucas?

Lucas came home with this the other day. I wasn't sure what it was, but I know they're studying art at school this month.It took a little bit of online research for me to realize he 's dabbling in art forgery. Here's the original. Although there is a bit lost in the finer details, at least he used the same color scheme.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Home work"

On the way home from school, Lucas was telling me how he showed one of the younger kids one of the "works" in the classroom. ("Work" refers to the various tasks and projects in a Montessori classroom). He told me he would show me the work once we got home.

As I was putting dishes away, Lucas set this up all on his own, even the sign.If you have problems reading this, it says "Practical life number #1". The task? Essentially pouring water from one cup to the other, and back again. After he gave me the "lesson", I did this a few times. I must have done a pretty good job, because he said, "Excellent work, mommy!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Did I mention Lucas' bug bites?

(Okay, it's 8:36 and the boy is still sleeping, must be from all his rare bites from our camping trip.)

Since we got home from camping I've been complaining about all my mosquito bites, about 10 total. Not to be outdone by me, Lucas has revealed that he has about 27 bites, but not from your run-of-the-mill camping pests. Lucas claims to have bites from the following types of critters:
  • cracken
  • boa constrictor
  • wolf
  • tarantula
  • cougar
  • yellow jacket
I may have missed some, but that's what I can recall. In reality, he has not a single bite anywhere on his body that I can see.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our "not quite camping" camping trip

To call our weekend trip to Rancho Cicada "camping", is an insult to true campers. Here are the reasons why I don't think it qualifies as camping:

- We were met in the parking lot buy one of our hosts, Bill, with an ATV to tote us and our stuff down to the "campground".
- We slept in tents that were already set up for us. Some people slept in wood cabins, but we decided to "rough it" in the tents.
- The tents had real beds in them (not aerobeds).
- There were two great cooks who prepared all our meals for us in the working kitchen (our food included: pancakes, frittatas, curried chicken salad, tri-tip sandwiches, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies). We ate outside on a nice covered deck.
- There were refrigerators and freezers where we could store any snacks we brought along.
- There were bathrooms with toilets, sinks and showers with real hot water! And did I mention the hot tub?

And this is why it's called camping in my book:
- No private bathrooms.
- Lots of mosquitoes.
- It's out in the sticks, about 15 minutes off the main highway.
- No "general store" where I could buy more insect repellent when I misplaced mine.

Nevertheless, we had an amazing time. It's a private campground so the only ones there were the people we came with. Aside from the river, hot tub, and rattlesnakes (more on that later), everyone felt safe letting their kids run freely. There were 29 adults and about 20 kids, mostly around 5 years old, so there were lots of kids for Lucas to play with.

It was HOT, nearly 100 degrees, but there's a river that runs alongside the campground where you could go in and cool off. Lucas and Kevin spent most of the time in or around the river. (Do you see Kevin? He's the one pulling the raft for Lucas and his buddy.)

Me? I spent most of the time lounging and reading on the grassy area next to the river. There were huge shady trees and a bunch of hammocks. This was my view from one of the hammocks.At night we made s'mores at the fire pit. And in the morning, we woke to the sounds of geese and the rushing river. At one point, as I was relaxing in the hammock, looking around at the kids running around playing, I thought, "This is how those utopian societies start, minus the crazy religious freaks."

We knew just one other family going into this trip, but everyone we met was so nice. It was so re-assuring that we could just go on this trip with a group of people we don't know and find so many interesting folks to talk to and spend time with.

On Sunday morning, our hosts, Bill and Dave, took some of us up to see their antique cars and Abe, a 250-pound tortoise. Here's Lucas and another boy inspecting an authentic Hudson Hornet (just like Doc, from the movie Cars).The whole time, we were made aware of the rattlesnakes that were in the area and were constantly reminded to be careful and stay on the paths when we were up in the brush. Unfortunately, one of the kids went off the path, climbed over some rocks, stepped on a rattlesnake and got bit in the leg. It was very surreal and scary as I saw this boy being carried away quickly, past all of us toward the cars. He was rushed to the hospital and is now doing fine.

This was a trip that Lucas will probably always remember. Luckily, plans are already in the works for next year's trip to Rancho Cicada.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kids these days

Lucas drew this "citey map" at school yesterday, inspired by Google maps.

It shows the driving directions between his two friends Ella and Ahbi (who actually don't live together) and our house. He drew our house too. He was super impressed he could see our house and even our car in front with Google Maps.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Phone tag drama

This past week: Lucas and one of his girl friends at school asked me to set up a play date for them.

Thursday: After hearing that I hadn't called the girl's mom yet, Lucas took the matter into his own hands and told me when I picked him up that he wrote down his phone number and put it in a girl's file at school.

Friday: The girl and her mom left a voice mail for Lucas. I coached Lucas a bit before calling her back, "If someone answers you say, 'Hi this is Lucas McKay. Can I please talk with XXX?'". He practiced it a few times and then eagerly called the girl back. I also coached Lucas on what to say if we got her voice mail, "Hi this is Lucas McKay, calling for XXX. Please call me back at XXX-XXXX." As luck would have it, we got her voice mail and Lucas left a message.

30 seconds later: Lucas wanted to call back again. I told him he should wait for her to call back.

Within the next 30 minutes: Lucas asked to call her at least five times. (I thought about that scene in Swingers when Jon Favreau's character keeps calling the girl back and leaving these awkward mesages. I didn't want that to be Lucas.) I reminded him that he just left a message and she would call back when she could.

Saturday: She called back and left a message, with some concrete dates for Lucas to consider.

Today: We will call her back and hopefully get a date on the calendar. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Photos from the Maker Faire outing

We got these photos from Jeff, the other dad who went to Maker Faire. I don't have any context for these pics, but the boys are definitely having fun.

Lucas' grocery list

Lucas gave me this before going to school yesterday after he heard me say I was going to do some grocery shopping.
Just the usual grocery items. And he also added in some items for Santa. I guess he thought I might run into him at the market: yoda masc, u gwin (a green) yoda litsabr, yoda wob (robe).

Monday, May 05, 2008

The secret life of boys

On Sunday Lucas and Kevin headed out on a big all-day outing to the Maker Faire in San Mateo. I urged Kevin to bring the camera so I could see some of the cool things there, but he didn't want to tote it around. I dropped them off at 9:15 at the BART station where they could meet up with his friend Jeff and his two sons.

I didn't plan my day out in advance so I had lots of time on my hands. I'm sure this was good for me because I usually have every minute scheduled. I filled up the morning with a long walk into the Berkeley hills with Lindsey and some window-shopping. Then I got sucked into a television show, Brothers and Sisters, which I could watch on, courtesy of Red Lobster, Bertoli, Jack in the Box, and other sponsors.

About four hours later, I got busy cleaning, organizing, and grocery shopping. But truth be told, I missed Lucas and Kevin.

I picked them up from BART at 7:30. Eager to hear about their day, I asked a lot of questions, but didn't get much in the way of answers from these two:
  • It was really cool. Lots of exploding stuff which Lucas wasn't really into.
  • We ate pizza, ice cream and popcorn.
  • I saw R2D2.
  • There was a whole room filled with LEGO stuff.
  • We saw lots of robots.
  • I saw some of the geekiest people ever.
  • We saw cupcake cars.
After Lucas went to sleep, I asked Kevin more about it. He said Lucas was really into this fire truck.

Me: What type of fire truck?
Kevin: I don't know, it said "Maker Faire" on it.
Me: What else? Was there something different about it?
Kevin: I don't remember. It was big and red.

That's it? They spend 10 hours away from home and that's all I get? So much for filling in the details. I guess I'll have to go next year to see what it was all about.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In-house fashion consultants

When I was trying on different summer dresses the other day for Jeanne's shower, I got some fashion feedback from Lucas and Kevin. Usually they don't really pay attention to what I'm wearing, but since I don't normally wear dresses, I guess they noticed.

Of course, Kevin liked the ones that made me look "curvy" (aka, you could see cleavage). I thought these were a bit too racy for a baby shower in conservative Lafayette. Plus, I didn't really have the shoes to match any of these clingy dresses.

Lucas had other opinions. His first instinct was the black dress, which I was headed for as well. Kevin said it made me look "flat", I wasn't sure what that meant at first, but it wasn't good. I asked Lucas if it made me look flat, he agreed, but the way he agreed I think he thought it was something good.

Then Kevin pointed out that this is a baby shower and I should wear something more spring-y (not sure why I was listening to him, the man only wears blue, grey, black or khaki, and tennis shoes). But I opted for a cream-colored frock with a floral pattern.

Again, none of my shoes really fit the bill. I was lamenting that I didn't have a snappy little pair of silver sandals. Then Lucas said, "How about those white shoes?" He pointed. I tried them on.

Lucky for me I have a slight bit of fashion sense and did not walk out the door like this. I went out with my red comfy sandals that I wear everywhere. But I'm still on the lookout for some little silver sandals.

Star Wars Kid, 2.0

This is one of the more popular videos on YouTube - the infamous Star Wars kid.

Well, we have a Star Wars kid of our own. And not only is he oh-so much cuter than the original, but I know he could kick the other Jedi-wannabe's ass any day (turn up the volume for sound effects).

May the force be with you.