This week the girls' karate class had a fun Halloween party. The kids all came dressed in costumes, they karate kicked a pinata, they wrapped each other in toilet paper like mummies, there was lots of candy, and, of course, there was karate.
The kids looked so cute practicing karate in their costumes. Ava and Lola wore old costumes rather than this year's Halloween costumes - mostly because I hadn't finished making them yet! But also, because I wanted them to save their real costumes for Halloween (and the Halloween celebrations at school today). Ava wore her vampire costume from 2013 (you can see it with full hair and make up here) and Lola wore a fairy dress and tiara from the girls' dress up drawer.
This Saturday just gone, marked the fourth anniversary of Ava, Lola and myself arriving in America. Four years! I can't believe it's been that long. Kim's four year anniversary came in August as he moved here a few months before the girls and I. And of course, little Mathilde has lived here her whole life. Actually, Saturday also marked her one and a half year birthday.
As I do every year when the anniversary rolls around, I'm sharing below some of the highlights of our life in America over the past twelve months. It's going to be a long post so settle in with a coffee and prepare for lots of fun highlights. You can find the full story for each event by clicking the bold links.
Our fourth year in America started with an exciting week - my best friend Kylie came to visit from Australia with her husband and baby son! We did all of the regular touristy stuff together including a big walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as all of the fun seasonal traditions that fall at this time of year. We visited a pumpkin patch, we carved pumpkins, we celebrated Halloween at Ava's school, we went trick or treating, and we celebrated Day of the Dead at two festivals. I loved being able to share these traditions (which are still pretty new to us) with friends who were experiencing them for the first time. It was also Mathilde's first Halloween so that was pretty exciting. Look at how tiny she was back then!
California's weather may not have gotten the memo yet, but despite the lingering Summer weather, it's well and truly Fall now. And of course, that means it's pumpkin season!
One of my favorite places to take the girls in Fall is our local greengrocer, Monterey Market. Each Fall they have the most amazing pumpkin pile that kids can climb around on inside the store. You may remember my post from last year when Lola's preschool class went on a field trip to climb on the pumpkins (you can see it here).
It's been a while since I shared a Cooking with Kids post so when the opportunity to work with Bertolli® (who this year are celebrating their 150th birthday) came up I knew it would be a great opportunity to get the kids back in the kitchen.
This weekend we celebrated Lola's 5th birthday with a birthday party with a very specific theme: Lola's Metal Detector and Penny Finding Party! Lola came up with the theme herself and I have to say that despite it sounding kind of weird, it was one of the most fun parties we've ever thrown.
Wondering how such a party theme came about? Well, Lola is kind of obsessed with finding pennies. It's amazing just how many she finds when we're out and about. She's so good at finding pennies that she refers to herself as a "penny finding machine"! That said, quite some time ago she decided that an actual penny finding machine (ie. a metal detector) would help her find many more pennies. I have no idea where she got the idea about a metal detector from (presumably tv), but she has been asking for one for her birthday or Christmas since she was two! I figured she was a little small for a metal detector back then and told her she'd have to wait until she was at least five. Well, she didn't forget and when it came time to start planning her party this year she came up with this wonderful theme. Of course, that meant that a shiny new metal detector was unwrapped on the morning of Lola's birthday!
To celebrate Lola's birthday we had a big party with friends over the weekend. I'll have a post about the party coming soon, but for last week's 52 Week Project post I wanted to share Lola's actual birthday day.
Lola's birthday fell on a weekday this year and now that she's a big school girl, she spent her special day at school. Usually the birthday kid gets to have a special celebration at school but because Lola is in Transitional Kindergarten and ALL of the kids in her class have birthdays in either September, October or November (they're the kids who just miss the Kindergarten cut off) her class just has one big celebration at the end of each month instead. Her class did sing Happy Birthday to her though.
After school we headed to the girls' karate class where once again everyone sang Happy Birthday to Lola. The girls' karate sensei is also an amazing artist and she gave Lola the most adorable water color portrait for her birthday. I still can't get over how cute this is and what a special gift it is. Thanks Sensei Julia! (You can see more of Julia's artwork here).
A few weekends back we attended the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Fully Belly Farm in Yolo County. We all had such a great time and I have so many photos I've been wanting to share but I've been a little caught up lately in prep work for Lola's upcoming 5th birthday party, and once again I've found myself falling behind.
So, it's time to catch up with some fun on the farm photos...
This year we attended the Hoes Down with some good friends who have daughters the same age as Ava and Lola. The kids loved having friends with them, especially when it came to camping in the evening. We managed to coordinate arriving at the same time and set up our tents right next to each other. The girls loved being neighbors! Like last year, we went for the car camping option and set up our tent next to our car. Unlike last year, this time around we had a new tent and we actually all fit inside it without feeling like sardines. What a difference it made! Five people crammed into a three person tent is no joke. Our new tent felt like a mansion in comparison!
Today I'm working with First 5 California, a trusted free resource provided to parents and caregivers, to spread the word about the importance of talking, reading and singing to (and with) babies and young children.
Interacting with young children in these ways is so important. It helps them develop an understanding of their world, increases vocabulary and helps their developing communication skills - right from the very start. Did you know that 90% of the brain is formed by the age 5? Or that more than 80% of it is formed by the age 3? These early years are so important when it comes to learning. That may sound a little scary, but helping young children learn important skills can really be as simple as talking, reading and singing to (and with) them.
Reading with my kids is one of my favorite things. It's a great way to spend some quality time together and I love knowing that my kids are learning as we read. Now that Ava and Lola are both at school I have more time to spend one on one with Mathilde. We spend a lot of time both playing and reading, and often these two things go hand in hand.
Week 40: International Walk & Roll to School Day 2015
After playing catch up on my 52 week project I've finally caught up. This week's post is actually from this week. Woo hoo!
This week the girls' school took part in International Walk & Roll to School Day. Now for us, every day is walk and roll to school day so it wasn't really any different, but it was great to see lots of other students arriving on foot or on scooters/bikes.
One of the great things about living in in the Bay Area is having the opportunity to see some of the world's biggest companies from the inside. Opportunities to take part in research projects with big companies pop up from time to time and every now and then we get selected to take part.
One such company whose research projects we've taken part in quite a few times is Leapfrog. All three girls have tested potential new products at the Leapfrog head office over the past few years. They always enjoy it and, the best part, they get to take home an existing Leapfrog product.
In the past few weeks both Lola and Mathilde have played tester at Leapfrog.
The highlight of the Roadworks Festival is watching linoleum block prints being made with the help of a steam roller. You know, the sort of thing that would've been used to smooth out roads back when coal was the power source de jour for vehicles. We've attended the Roadworks Festival in the past and we've all enjoyed it. Now that we have a "digger" obsessed toddler in our midst attending the festival was a no-brainer. A whole afternoon of watching a ye olde construction vehicle paired with hands on print making and book binding fun. Perfect!
I'm a little behind again with my "weekly" 52 Week Project posts. Technically I should be posting Week 39, but I'm only up to Week 38. And here's the thing, I'm a little behind in my photo taking too. So, in an effort to play catch up I'm mixing up the weeks a little. Some of the photos below actually are from week 38 while a few of them are from week 39 but continue with the theme.
This installment of my 52 Week Project is all about the fun walls that we find around town. When we find walls with murals, great colors or interesting textures the girls like to pose for photos. Sometimes they stand in a line and look quite serious. Other times they jump and do crazy dance moves. And about half of the time there's duck face!