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Wednesday 28 October 2015

Four Years in America

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!

After our trip to the pumpkin patch we visited Santa Rosa where we discovered Peanuts sculptures dotted around the town. The kids loved them so much that a few weeks later we took another trip to Santa Rosa to visit the Charles M Schulz Museum - and lots more Peanuts sculptures.

And then it was Thanksgiving!

December brought lots of Christmas activities. We visited Santa at Macy's, we went ice skating, we played in man-made snow in Berkeley, we chose a Christmas tree from a local Christmas tree lot, we visited the Victorian Christmas Fair in Nevada City and visited a Giant Gingerbread House in San Francisco.

Over the Christmas break we set off on a roadtrip to Southern California. We visited the quaint Danish village of Solvang, celebrated Christmas with good friends from London (via Australia) in Santa Barbara, spent a few days in Los Angeles, climbed the amazing Salvation Mountain in the desert and experienced snowfall in Joshua Tree National Park. Yep, snow in the desert! We were not prepared for that!

January was a pretty quiet month for us with no exciting adventures. Just our usual every day stuff: school, preschool, work, swimming, karate classes... Oh, and we met Grumpy Cat!

February was a much busier month, starting with Ava's 8th birthday party at Fenton's Creamery in Oakland. After Ava's party the girls had new silhouettes cut by famous silhouette artist Karl Johnson. I love the idea of having silhouettes cut every few years. February was also pretty busy with Valentine's Day preparations. Lola made marshmallows for her preschool class mates and Ava gave out Goldfish crackers with a cheesy card. Despite being Winter, February was relatively warm and we spent plenty of sunny days in parks and favorite places like Children's Fairyland in Oakland. Check out the not-so-Wintry clothes the kids are wearing! We also celebrated the Lunar New Year with a festival in Berkeley.

We started March with a continuation of the festivities for Lunar New Year, with the big parade in San Francisco. The festivities then switched to Irish with the St Patrick's Day parade, also in San Francisco. The biggest celebration though was reserved for Mathilde. At just ten months our little one started walking on her own! We also went on a fun macaron hunt around Berkeley with friends. We really need to do more treasure hunts - especially ones with such delicious treasure!

April was another busy month starting with April Fool's Day and some fun pranks played on the kids at breakfast time. Spring break fell at the start of April so we took the kids on a few fun trips around the Bay Area. We visited the Jelly Belly Factory, Mrs Grossman's Sticker Factory, Mt Diablo, Albany Bulb and the Oakland Aviation Museum (which I really must remember to post about soon). Then of course, there was Easter which is always loads of fun for the kids. And the big event... Mathilde's first birthday and her circus themed party! There was yet more fun with Cal Open Day, Cherry Blossom Festival and even a lemonade stand with friends.

May was another busy month. We started the month with Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) Day at Ava's school. The kids were asked to dress as their favorite book character. Ava dressed as Charlie Brown. Lola tagged along and dressed as Rosie Revere Engineer. Once again we attended Maker Faire, my favourite event of the year. Ava took part in the Berkeley Kids Traithlon - and won first place for her age group! We all joined Kim at work for Take Your Child to Work Day - best day ever! Ava's school held an art exhibition at a real gallery. She's a real artist now! At the end of the month we took a little trip to Bodie, a real life old west ghost town, Mono Lake and we did a little panning for gold. We even got to play in the snow a little as we drove through the Sierra Nevadas.

In June Lola graduated from preschool, Ava finished second grade, and the long Summer vacation began. We spent a weekend at the Bay Area Book Festival, hung out in the city with friends visiting from Australia, and spent our time rushing around getting things done before our big trip back to Australia to renew visas and visit family and friends. We spent three weeks in Australia over June and July, but I'm not going to include that here as it's not part of our time in America!

Before we knew it, it was mid July and we were back in California. The girls were happy to be back in Summer after a few weeks in Winter and we spent a lot of time playing in local parks. We visited the San Francisco Botanical Gardens while the Flower Piano installation was in place (so much fun), painted ceramics at Brushstrokes Studio, watched a live performance of The Day the Crayons Quit at Children's Fairyland,  and visited the Berkeley Botanic Gardens and the flowering corpse flower.

In August we headed to Oakland's Jack London Square for the annual Pedalfest festival and visited the two mosaic staircases in San Francisco's Sunset neighborhood. We also spent a day in the wild west at the YouTube Summer picnic.

September was a month of big change. Ava started third grade and Lola started Transitional Kindergarten. No more preschool. Now both Ava and Lola are at the same school and I only have one drop off in the morning! We spent a fun evening at a baseball game that paid tribute to Bay Area locals Green Day, we watched a steam roller roll prints at the Roadworks Festival and at the end of the month we marveled at the Super Blood Moon.

We started October with a weekend away at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival. The girls loved camping and playing in the creek. Back in the city Lola and Mathilde played tester at Leap Frog and received fun prizes, Ava and Lola ran run-a-thons at school, and of course, there was a big celebration. That's right, Lola turned five and had a Metal Detector and Penny Finding birthday party. To round out our third year in California I took the girls to the pumpkin pile at Monterey Markets here in Berkeley.

Another whole year in America has zoomed by.
Here's to making lots of fun memories over the next year!

You can see previous years here:
One Year in America
Two Years in America
Three Years in America

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