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Super Deane Bros.

May. 28th, 2012 04:18 pm May

Another month slipping by, though this time we haven't been so busy, just nothing particularly exciting to blog about. New photo album in flickr Deane Photos 2012 (May to June). Some things that happened this month:

Henry quit going to French classes. It has been some time coming as he has been losing interest, then a combination of a couple older girls he didn't like joining the class and getting a new teacher (though he liked her all right) finally did him in. He does still seem interested in the language, but not so much in doing a class. Plus we were going to have trouble fitting it into the summer schedule anyway. Not completely done with Yak Academy though, we might be trying Archie out in Spanish over the summer.

I've been waking up in some pain and very stiff most mornings for over two years now, some times the stiffness lasting quit a long time after getting up, making it very difficult to run or exercise in the morning, but the Catch-22 being that movement, of course, helps the stiffness and pain go away. Anyway, all blood tests that were run on me came out normal, so no real answer for this. Also had an x-ray of my lumbar spine area where I have had pain for years and years. Nothing abnormal there either. Since yoga seems to ease this particular pain, I'm planning to do it more regularly and hope that maybe it will also help out with the stiffness problem.

I ended up buying a new organic mattress too, which got rid of one painful spot I was getting, but otherwise didn't solve the problem. Liked the mattress so much that we bought the twin size firm version about two weeks later for Archie to use, though he only naps on it right now. He still sleeps in his toddler bed or my bed at night.

I volunteered to work on Henry's school songbook to standardize the formatting and add chords to songs where there aren't any, so that is what I have been doing in my limited free time. There are about a hundred songs in the book, plus they want to add some more so I have a lot of work ahead.

Mother's Day was on May 13. Got a nice photos of Archie and I together and Henry and I together at the end of the day. Archie isn't real big on posing for the camera yet.

Rebecca and Archie Read Together

Rebecca and Henry

Ben worked really hard this month with a lot of late nights and some weekends as they released the game he was working on, Diablo III on May 14.

I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon on Sunday, May 19. Ended up being stuck in the potty line as the race was starting, so ended up starting about 10 minutes after the official start. Talk about coming from behind, first I had to pass all the walkers and then all of the slow runners, was finally getting to people at my same pace in the last couple miles of the race. Finished in about 2 hours and 9 minutes, not sure of the exact minutes and seconds as the chip didn't time from when I crossed the start line, so I only know the estimate from when I looked at my watch when I started the race and then when I looked at it again while I was in the finish area.

Rebecca at end of Pasadena Half Marathon

Friday, May 25 was a busy day. Henry had the day off from school and wanted to go to Disneyland, so off we went. Spent the equivalent of a school day there. Rode on the Carousel, Storybook Boats, It's a Small World, and the Jungle Boats. Boys played a lot in Toontown in Goofy's House, Mickey's House (and meeting Mickey), and Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse. When Archie had his nap in the stroll, Henry and I looked around the Innoventions building.

Henry on King Arthur's Carousel

Archie on Storybook Boats

That evening Ben and I went to the Toad the Wet Sprocket concert at The Canyon in Agoura Hills. The place runs a food racket, making you pay extra to reserve seats (otherwise you have to stand at the back) at a table near the stage and requiring minimum food orders, then serving you lukewarm food with vegetables that have already gone cold. Regardless, I particularly enjoyed seeing one of my very favorite bands playing together again (last time we saw them on stage was the mid-90s, though we last saw Glen do a solo show in autumn of 2005, and I've watched a few of Glen's StageIt shows online recently).

Toad the Wet Sprocket, with Jonathan Kingham

This weekend we've been doing intensive potty training with Archie. Three days in and not much success, hoping he gets it soon.

Trying to get Henry out of the house this weekend to be less of a distraction so we can keep a close eye on Archie and usher him to the bathroom at the right moments. So Henry and I went to see the new location of the Art Zone that opened on Pico Blvd on Saturday. They aren't quite done with decorating the place yet, but the space looks great.

Henry in Cave

Yesterday, I took Henry to a playdate with Mia and Emma and then went for a run from their house. Henry decided to come back home with me when I got back from the run. This morning he went for a playdate at the neighbor's house and this afternoon he and Ben went to South Coast Botanic Gardens. Archie is taking a nap now, allowing me to write this blog.

Henry has just 11 more days of school left before summer vacation starts and tomorrow commences the annual "Final Fun Days" where each day of the week has a different them or activity planned. Tomorrow is Bubblegum day, which Henry is eagerly anticipating.

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May. 5th, 2012 04:33 pm Kids 4 Kids 10K

On Sunday, April 29th I ran in the Kids 4 Kids 10K to benefit the Children's Cancer Research Fund. This was my fourth race in my attempt to ran twelve races (at 10K or half marathon distance) in twelve months (one per month). It was a warm morning in Downtown Los Angeles for this flat, mostly there and back, double-looped run. Figuring that a lot of people would be doing the 5K walk (that started at the same time) for charity I actually started not too far from the front. It took me 15 seconds to get to the start line and then I was off. My goal was to do a sub-hour 10K. I got through the first 5K in about 28 minutes. In the second lap I seemed to be on pace with a boy next to me and we got to talking. He was 13 years old and in his third 10K. He had never run one in less than an hour before, so I promised I would get him to the finish in under an hour. About a quarter mile before the finish line he was feeling good and so took off to finish about a minute ahead of me. I finished officially in 58 minutes and 25 seconds. Turned out I was 5th in my division (women between the ages of 30 and 39) and was only 11 seconds short of being 4th! Okay so there were only 37 women in that group, but still I am slightly amazed. I was only two spots away from getting a special medal!

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May. 5th, 2012 04:03 pm Day Off at Disney

On Monday, April 23, Henry's school was off for a staff development day (or everyone recover from the Peace Trip day). As this was an odd vacation day that other schools didn't have off, I decided it would be another good day to go to the Disney theme parks.

We spent most of the day at California Adventure. When we arrived we went straight to the Playhouse Disney stage show. Was worried that Archie wouldn't be interested as he was not into the warm-up at all, but as soon as the lights dimmed and Mickey Mouse appeared on stage, he was hooked.

Archie ate some snacks as we made our way to "A Bug's Life" area. Rode on Heimlich's Chew-Chew Train first and then Flik's Flyers -- both boys especially enjoying the latter.

Archie and Henry in Flik's Flyers

Then we were thinking about lunch -- I ordered three chicken taco kids meals. Archie ate the chicken out of Henry's tortilla. Henry ate his tortilla with Spanish rice in it, so I had the two remaining tacos. I will definitely get the adult chicken tacos next time as they come with the fixings and the kids' meals didn't.

After lunch we walked around to King Triton's Carousel. Then we waited in a long line for Toy Story Mania. Archie was antsy in line and so I tried letting him look at the iPad, but it was too difficult for him to use it and hold it and try to move with the line. I had to put it away and Archie got so annoyed he protested loudly and threw his body backward, hitting his head on a post. So he was pretty ornery about that (and lack of iPad) until we got where he could see the ride moving. Once he became interested in that, he was okay and then had fun on the ride. Henry scored over 30,000 points and I was over 60,000.

We walked a little after that and got Archie to sleep in Bob. Henry got a bag of cotton candy, which he'd been wanting to have for a few weeks and we couldn't find at the various places we had been visiting.

Henry Eats Cotton Candy

Wandered over to the Hollywood Backlot area and into the animation building. We watched the animations for a while and then decided to check out the Sorcerer's Workshop, which we had never been to before. In the first room, we got to look at some zoetropes. I copied out a Mickey Mouse head-shaped balloon animation and then we tried it out in one of the zoetropes. Really enjoyed doing that, I made an animation!

Ready to Test the Zoetrope Design

The next room had magic books where Henry answered questions to learn that the Disney character he is most like is Jiminy Cricket (Henry -- a voice of logic and reason?)! then we went into the cave of Ursula the Sea Witch. We read dialogue from a scene from Beauty and the Beast and then it replayed the scene using our voices. Then we sang the chorus of "Hakuna Matata" and it played animation with our voices again. Guess we made too much noise as Archie woke up while we were doing this.

Thought Archie needed to move around after his nap, so headed to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail next. Archie really liked going down the Rock Slide, and did so several times.

Archie on the Rock Slide

Then the boys climbed up the rope net ramps. Henry encouraging Archie the whole way and congratulating him and sounding proud as Archie made it to each new level. This was very sweet to see as it has taken a long time to get Henry to really interact with Archie in a positive way. Spent quite a while playing around in this area. Here are the boys crossing the nets...especially tricky for Archie as his feet still fit easily through those holes.


Next we had our first time on Ariel's Undersea Adventure ride. Hard to believe the building used for this ride used to house a movie theater. The ride is reminiscent of those in Fantasyland, which you get in a vehicle (clam shell) and then tour around to see the Cliff's Notes version of the story.

It was early evening at this point and we had done most of what we could do in California Adventure and were thinking about dinner. Decided to go over to Disneyland and had dinner at the Pizza Port. Spaghetti for Henry, a salad for me, and Archie and I shared the personal-sized pizza.

We went on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters while the parade was on, which meant we had almost no wait in line. Next we went on the Storybook Boats, where Henry got to sit on the very front of the boat and very seriously pointed out the little settings while the tour guide talked about them.

Henry Acting as Tour Guide on Storybook Boats

Only about a half hour before the park was to close (at 9pm) and we managed to get on to "It's a Small World" ride. Henry really likes these boat rides. Archie was dancing around while we were on this one. When we came out we had time for one last favorite, King Arthur's Carousel. We were walking down Main Street on our way out as they announced that the park attractions were closing (though the Main Street shops would be open for another hour). Yes, Henry can spend a whole day at Disney and still look full of energy at almost 9pm!

Henry on King Arthur's Carousel

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May. 3rd, 2012 10:54 pm Peace Trip

Friday, April 20, Henry got out of school at noon as his school prepared for the annual Peace Trip. We took advantage of the extra time off to Culver City and get haircuts from Ida. Henry and I got haircuts, but she had a really hard time trying to cut Archie's hair. He was not only veering away this time but also lifting his hands up to try to swat her away. So he ended up only having the bangs trimmed and a little off the bottom at the back. It looks like Archie is going to be one of those little kids with long hair or a bad haircut, as I think at some point I'm going to have to cut his hair some time while he is asleep.

Saturday, April 21 was the main day of the Peace Trip. We ended up getting out of the house only about 15 minutes later than we planned; however, due to bad traffic on the way up, we arrived at the first meeting place, Manning Park (group area) in Montecito, CA about an hour after we had wanted to arrive. I dropped all the boys off at the park and drove a couple blocks north to the Pierre LaFond deli to buy us lunch. Very yummy food from there, so definitely will be going there next year. Henry did not particularly like the flatbread pizza, but I thought it was delicious. Mostly Henry played at the park with all of his school friends while Ben, Archie and I ate food. Completely forgot to take photos while we were at the park...too busy eating.

Then it was on to the La Casa de Maria Retreat Center for the whole school peace ceremony in the Sadako Peace Garden. Each of the school classes performed a song: the Explorer class sang a revised version of "Down by the Riverside," the Discoverer class (Henry's class) sang "The World Is a Rainbow," the Investigators sang "Winds of Change," and the Voyagers sang "Shower the People You Love (with Love)." Here is the photo of the Discoverers, Henry is third from the left.

Discoverer Class Sings "The World is a Rainbow"

After each class sang, then the Investigators and Voyagers joined together to sing "Thousand Paper Cranes". It sounded really great this year. Then Henry helped with hanging the paper cranes in the garden, which I think always looks so much more special with the cranes in it.

Henry and Rebecca Hanging Cranes

One of the cranes got loose from its string, ready to fly away.

Crane Ready to Fly Away

Soon it was time to leave the Peace Garden and while the other families went to the camp site, we went to our hotel, the Hampton Inn in Goleta, to check in. After a brief time in the room organizing, eating snacks, and figuring out what we wanted with us, we stopped at Ralph's for some food to share and headed to the Ocean Mesa camp site across from El Capitan State Beach ourselves. This site had a community swimming pool, so Henry joined most of the school kids in swimming, while Ben watched him and Archie and I played on the camp sites play structure. Eventually the swimming finished and the grilling began and people gathered around the campfire to eat and chat. The evening was cold and overcast, with low clouds, and it was almost drizzling at times, yet we all had fun despite the weather. Henry made smores over one of the outer fire pits. Here he is toasting a marshmallow.

Henry Toasting Marshmallow

We donned extra layers of clothes and munched on food from the pot luck table. Rick gave his banana boat making demonstration, which we were all sworn to secrecy about. This is the Voyager teacher and head of the school, Rick Sharp. All the light circles in the photo must be from the mist, that or my camera is picking up on Rick's magic aura. Pretty sure it's the mist.

Rick Demonstrates Making a Banana Boat

Then he and Cecilia got out guitars and led us in songs for nearly two hours. Eventually Henry fell asleep in his chair. Archie was kept happy, busy and warm with the iPad for a ridiculously long period of time. We finally left the place around 10:30pm. Both boys were asleep in the car ride to the hotel and transferred fairly easily to the hotel beds.

Next morning got up early for breakfast and then I went for a fantastic long run (9 miles) along the Obern bike trail, which runs close to the hotel and is one of the reasons I wanted to stay at that hotel again. Ben took Henry and Archie back to the camp site for further socializing, but even though they got there around 9am, people were already packing up to leave. Still they ended up hanging around for about an hour. I returned to the hotel and showered and at about the same time, Ben got a phone call that he was needed at work. So unfortunately we had to cut our trip short (scrap our plan to go to the Natural History Museum) and head home. Both boys fell asleep in the car on the way home, so even though it was around lunch time while we were driving, we just drove straight on and got home by 1pm.

The boys and I went grocery shopping that afternoon at Trader Joe's...reminder...do not ever do that again on a Sunday afternoon, it was crazy busy there. The upshot of coming home early was that it gave Henry some time to work on building his Lego Train, which was the group gift he got from his classmates for his birthday party. Here he is just finishing the train and about to put together the track.

Henry with His Lego Train

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May. 2nd, 2012 02:28 pm Renaissance Faire

Sunday morning, April 16, decided somewhat spontaneously to go to the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire. We had been planning on going some time during its run this year, but weren't sure when. The weather turned out to be perfect and kids got in free that day. When we arrived we were all a little bit hungry and it was almost Archie's lunch time, so headed straight for the food. Remembered the yummy stuff we had last year, so I got a crepe with strawberries and whipped cream, Henry got a cream puff, and Ben was looking for something more substantial, so had a sausage roll.

Henry Eats a Cream Puff

Then we took the boys over to the Kids Kingdom to play for a while. Ben and Henry played a ring toss game, while Archie really enjoyed playing the blocks.

Archie Building with Blocks

Both of the boys dug around in a sand pit trying to find buried treasure. Then Henry and I went into the games tent area and one of the guys taught Henry how to play Nine Men's Morris.

Henry Learns Nine Men's Morris

While Henry was busy with that, Archie was busy playing with a wooden castle, knights and horses play set on a table outside the tent. Mostly playing with the horses though. Did I mention he loves horses?

Archie Loved These Little Horses

Next up was show time, we went to see the Magnificent Humble Boys, a pretty funny show that we also saw last year. We wandered around a bit afterward, eventually going to the coin tent for Ben to ask about a coin he had, which turned out to be a museum copy. While there, Henry learned all about the counting board and did some addition with the man who was working there.

Henry Learns About the Counting Board

As we wandered around we caught the end of the Kondor Brothers juggling show. Next it was time for ice cream cones for Henry and I and a frozen peach for Ben. About this time Archie fell asleep in Bob, so we were looking for things to do while he was asleep that wouldn't wake him up. Henry saw one of those Bungee Trampoline things and really wanted to do it. So he had his first time trying that and had a blast.

Henry Up High on the Bungee Trampoline

Pure Joy

Next, Henry had a pony ride. Then we decided to go see the Moonie show. Archie woke up just as it started, because Moonie communicates by whistling, which basically acted as an alarm clock for Archie. Finally, we decided to eat some food before leaving, so I had a chicken sandwich and a smoothie, Henry had bread and cheese, and fries, and Archie had bits of our food and also drank a lot of milk. Then Henry and I raced each other around the picnic tables a few times. On the way out, we stopped briefly to watch a glass blowing demonstration and that concluded our day at the Faire.

All the pictures from April have now been loaded into the Deane Photos 2012 (March to April) flickr album, though I still need to blog about the rest of our activities that month.

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Apr. 29th, 2012 05:59 pm Henry's Birthday Party

Since Henry's Birthday fell during the middle of his school's spring break, we decided to have his party a week and a half later on Saturday, April 14. Even with the later date only about half of his class could attend, plus our next door neighbors to the east and one of the Mom's Club families. We had the party at our house. Quite a few parents took the opportunity to drop off their kids while they ran quick errands. Mostly the kids played outside on the play structure. Here's a photo of Riley, Adam, Henry and Noah on the structure.

Playing in the Backyard

There was a lot of kicking the soccer ball around and Ben even managed to organize some sort of loosely structured game, using the gate across the driveway as a goal area.

Soccer in the Driveway

I had made some ice cream cone cakes and set out different colored frosting, various sprinkle containers, and Cool Whip so the kids could decorate their own cones. That worked pretty well as they had fun doing it and it saved me the trouble of having to do it!

Decorating Ice Cream Cone Cakes

Henry had an ice cream cake for his birthday for the first time, chocolate cake on the bottom with mint chocolate ice cream and vanilla frosting on top. Nice little family photo of us with the cake here.

Archie, Ben, Henry, and Rebecca

Archie slept through about half the party, but we did get a nice photo of him strying out the cake.

Archie Eats a Piece of Cake

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Apr. 29th, 2012 05:20 pm Archie to Audiology

No, not a page listing out of the dictionary...on Tuesday, April 10 I took Archie up to the Audiology department at UCLA to have his hearing tested again. When he had it done last year they only tested the two ears together. This time they did a good job getting the testing done for both ears together and then on the right ear, but by the time they were finished with that and got to the left ear, Archie was pretty much over being tested. So his ears tested within the normal range together, as did his right ear. Would still really like to have them test his left ear better as that is the side the nerve damage/muscle tightness is on his face and not sure if his ear is also affected. Though it was difficult to tell as he was losing concentration for the process, he was definitely slower to respond the few times they tested his left ear and was not responding at all to very quiet noises on the left side. So, back for another test after he is two and a half years old. We get to practice putting earphones/plugs in his ears with him so he gets used to that and play games where he has to wait, so he will be better at waiting for the sounds for the test. His ear tubes are still in and open. We have to wait until they come out and Archie gets checked by a doctor to confirm the ear drum has closed over before he could go swimming without ear plugs (not that he goes swimming now...but he might get a bit more wet in a wading pool in the summer).

During the appointment, Archie absolutely amazed the Audiologist with his reading skills, she had never seen anything like it. At this stage, he is basically reading/attempting to pronounce everything, so it is pretty amazing if you haven't seen a little guy do that before.

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Apr. 29th, 2012 04:57 pm Easter Weekend

Saturday, April 7, Henry had his usual two classes, ballet/tap and piano. In the evening, we colored Easter eggs, well mostly Henry and I colored eggs, while Ben kept Archie occupied. We weren't letting Archie get anywhere near the dyes.

Henry Dyeing Eggs

We also spent the evening watching the film "Easter Parade".

Henry was up early on Easter morning hunting for plastic eggs, which each had a squinkie inside and a few jelly beans and/or Cadbury mini eggs. Henry got his basket too and I tried to minimize the amount of candy in it. Besides some chocolates and Jelly Belly jelly beans, there was a "Caps for Sale" shirt (image from the cover of the classic children's book), a butterfly puzzle, a little toy wind-up bunny, a book about honeybees and a Webkinz guinea pig, which Henry named Dusty.

Henry Got a Webkinz Guinea Pig in his Basket

Archie got up a little later and got his basket. Still not really giving him candy, so he got a stuffed guinea pig that looks a little like our Betty, a "Corduroy" T-shirt (image from the cover of the classic children's book), some bunny cookies, a squeaky rubber duck, a Super Why! "Peter Rabbit" DVD, and a set of zoo animals -- hippo, polar bear, monkey, penguin, and zebra. Think he was saying duck or quacking when I took this photo.

Archie Gets a Squeaky Rubber Duck

I made a basket for Ben and I and gave Ben an "Origin of Species" T-shirt and myself a "Nancy Drew" T-shirt. Lots of Cadbury Cream Eggs and chocolates for Ben. Can't really think what else we did on Easter. Think Ben might have been slightly ill, so we decided not to go out, or possibly the weather wasn't terribly nice or both.

Henry and I modeling our shirts:

Rebecca and Henry Modeling New "Out of Print" T-Shirts

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Apr. 29th, 2012 03:43 pm Adventure City

Okay, I've got a lot to blog about in increasingly less time. Going to try to break this down into a bunch of short posts.

Back to Friday, April 6, heading toward the end of Henry's spring break, Archie's first time going to Adventure City. Henry had last been there in October of 2008. This is a great little theme park for kids about 8 years old and under. There is only about a dozen rides, most of them aimed at younger kids. During our day there we went on: Rescue 911 (the boys driving the fire engine), the Carousel, the Giggle Wheel, Barnstormers, the Adventure City Express Train, and the Crazy Bus. Henry also did the Crank 'n' Roll twice...this is a hand-operated ride and I remember when I had taken Henry here last time he could barely do it. This time he zoomed around the track. For fun, then and now photos of Henry on the Crank 'n' Roll:

Henry, almost 2 1/2 in October 2008
Henry On the Crank and Roll

Henry, just turned 6 in April 2012
Henry on Crank and Roll

Love this photo of Archie on the Carousel.
Archie on the Carousel

Some other things we did at Adventure City included Henry climbing the rock climbing wall, watching a magic show, playing in the arcade, petting and feeding goats, and playing with the wooden train sets. This was the first time Henry has ever climbed one of those big rock walls and he made it to the top with the help of the attendant (the guy went up behind him and told him where to place his hands/feet or even helped move his feet). Henry didn't really like doing it though, because he says he is afraid of heights, so really impressed he got to the top in spite of that. In this photo he is still working at it on his own.

Henry Climbs Rock Wall

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Apr. 20th, 2012 10:03 pm Henry's Birthday

Thursday, April 5 -- Happy 6th birthday to Henry. We had a long and busy day, starting with present opening in the morning. Henry got quite a few books (I had ordered a bunch from the Usborne catalog), some Lego sets, a Hex Bug Battle Bridge, 4-Way Spelldown game, Zoobles (he wanted some even though he said they were "for girls"), and a Magic Show kit. Here is the 6 year old with the Fire Boat from Grandad and GJ.

Henry Opens Lego Fire Ship

After Ben left for work, Henry helped with making his birthday cake. Used the Dr. Oetker's Organic Vanilla Cake box mix (and also the frosting mix). It turned out okay, but Henry didn't really like it. The cake part of it seemed too healthy and the frosting part was super sugary, where I could feel the texture of individual crystals of sugar. Anyway, he really enjoyed putting all the few ingredients together.

Henry Helps Make Birthday Cake

Then we drove to Irvine for a birthday lunch with Ben at Blizzard. Henry ordered a hot dog which he ate one bite of, but was very happy to eat Tater Tots (as was Archie).

Lunch with Ben

After dessert we went up to Ben's office where he had three presents hiding for Henry. Henry really liked the toy voice changer. He overheard someone in the office say "what the hell" so then was repeating it multiple times through the voice changer, much to the embarrassment of the guy who said it, who apologized to us profusely.

Soon it was time for Ben to go to a meeting and Henry, Archie and I headed to our next destination -- the Easter Eggstraveganza at Irvine Regional Park. We bought tickets to do the various activities and got Henry an armband for the 2:30pm Easter egg hunt. First off, Henry rode one of the trot ponies.

Henry Going for a Pony Trot

Archie was really grumpy, so gave him a snack and had him play the iPad while Henry did his egg hunt. Archie was then in a slightly better mood, so he had his turn riding a walking pony, whi9ch I got to lead around with a rope. Henry acted as photographer.

Rebecca Leads a Pony Named Dan

Henry then played the ring toss and bean bag toss games and got a purple inflated rabbit. Next it was time to ride the Irvine Park Train. Then Henry frosted/decorated a big cookie. After that it was time for Henry to go in the bounce house, where he did a few flips, until I read the sign that said, "No flips." It was a pretty warm day, so we got some drinks and dino chicken nuggets from the refreshment stand. Henry had a cherry Icee. Then we drove a very short way to the playground in the park, mainly because Archie had been stuck in Bob for a while and I wanted him to have a chance to move around before we headed home. Love this photo I got of Henry singing at the park.

Henry Singing

When we got home I frosted and decorated the cake. When Ben got home from his piano lesson, we sang "Happy Birthday to You" to Henry and he blew out his candles and we all ate cake to finish off the long day.

Henry with Birthday Cake

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Apr. 19th, 2012 10:19 pm Legoland California

After talking with some friends that were at the Seussical production, we learned that they were going to Legoland on Tuesday, April 3. We had been thinking of going to the Wild Animal Park that day, but changed our minds to meet with them at Legoland California in Carlsbad. We arrived at the theme park first, even though the others had been staying overnight locally. We spent most of the time waiting for them playing in the Duplo Playtown area. This was ideal though, as we had been in the car for about two hours and both boys needed to move around and stretch their legs. We also rode on the Legoland train and then Henry did the Volvo Jr. Driving School. Here are the boys on the train.

Archie and Henry on Duplo Playtown Train

After about an hour, we met up with Kathi and her kids, Kennedy and Finley, and Erin with her girls, Emma and Mia. Kennedy and Mia are in Henry's class at school. Soon after joining up with our friends, it was already time for lunch. After refueling and chatting, we finally got to go on a little airplane ride, the Cargo Ace. The kids (minus Archie) also played for a while in the Pharoah's Revenge play area. Next Henry and some of the group went on the Dune Raiders giant slide. At about this point Kathi's sister, niece, and two nephews joined us. Henry was particularly enamored of sixteen year old Garrett. We then wandered up to Castle Hill and all the kids except Archie went on the Royal Joust ride. I pushed Archie in Bob around the perimeter of the ride (four or five times) until he fell asleep. Here is Henry on the Royal Joust.

Henry on a Jousting Horse

Then the rest of the kids played in the huge Hideaways play area filled with ramps, bridges, rope nets and slides while the adults chatted and Archie slept. We also ate some popsicles. Next up was the Pirate Shores area, where Henry and some of the kids went on the Splash Battle water ride. Henry used Garrett as a shield to keep from getting soaked, here is a photo of them having a laugh about it. Henry had a blast!

Garrett Having a Laugh with Henry About Being Used as His Shield

We walked through part of Miniland USA, taking in the Star Wars area, but by this point it was getting late and we wanted to get a couple more rides in, so didn't see all of it. Here is Henry with a Lego R2-D2.

Henry with Lego R2-D2

Back to the Cargo Ace ride for a second time. Archie wanted to go on so much he cried while having to wait in line, but stopped as soon as he got in the plane. For our final ride, the whole group went on the Dune Raiders target-shooting ride (along the lines of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, but with smaller targets). Henry rode with Garrett again and I was with Archie, who just liked examining the shooter and not bothering to shoot it. Finished off at the Lego store, which was crammed with people as the park was starting to close (at 6pm). Henry picked out three small Lego City boxes with vehicles to build and we got a Duplo Numbers set for Archie.

Attempts at eating out at a Mexican restaurant with Kathi and Erin were thwarted by the restaurant taking to long to get a table for us and Archie finally breaking down at the end of the day. I left the restaurant at 8pm (having not got a table after a half hour wait when we were told fifteen minutes) and we ended up stopping at a grocery store near the highway entrance and picking up plenty of food for the three of us at the cost of what one meal would have been at the restaurant.

Wednesday, April 4, we were all fairly wiped out from the long day at Legoland, so just went to Archie's speech session in the morning and Henry's swim class in the afternoon. I believe Henry spent some of that afternoon also building his new Lego sets.

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Apr. 16th, 2012 04:32 pm Spring Break, Week One

Henry had two weeks and a day off from school for spring break, so we did a lot of fun days out.

Monday, March 26 and also April 2, Archie and Henry both had their regular Little Gym classes, but we managed to sandwich in a make-up hip hop class for Henry. Henry learned a routine to the Monster High song, which he really enjoyed doing as it incorporates a lot of fun monster moves.

Tuesday, March 27 we drove to the Children's Museum of La Habra. Henry and Archie had lots of fun in their percussion exhibit, playing in the preschool room, and in the bus. The boys were excited to get to ride on the small carousel, especially since we didn't think they were going to be running it before we left. Though I didn't know it at the time, the last we saw this carousel, Archie was less than a month away from being born.

Henry and Archie on the Dentzel Carouse

Archie especially enjoyed doing puzzles in the preschool room and Henry liked dressing up as a firefighter. Archie was fascinated by the model train they had running around the top border of the lobby. We stopped for lunch at Applebee's before heading home. Then later in the afternoon, we were off to Henry's usual Hip Hop class.

Wednesday, March 28 Archie has speech in the morning, then we headed down to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Did not bring a stroller along and it turned out to be a bit difficult to manage Archie. He just wanted to run around and didn't have much interest in looking at anything in the tanks, apart from the sea lions and seals. He also seemed very grumpy, so we ended up eating an early lunch in the cafe. He was a little more cooperative after eating, but not much. In one area, he ran across a small bridge about 20+ times. Bridge running:

Archie Ran Over This Bridge a Few Dozen Times

Eventually I got tired of trying to keep two boys in one area and we needed to head back to get to Henry's swimming class. He had his swim-roll-swim test -- he had oto jump in the pool and alternate swimming on his back and swimming on his front across the pool, which he did. In fact the other two boys in his session passed the test too, so they stayed at the same time slot with the same teacher, Sam. Now they are working on the next set of skills -- lots of dolphin kicks and sidestroke. Henry is so limber, he does look just like a dolphin when he does the dolphin kick. Celebrated with frozen yogurt at Menchie's afterward.

Henry Passed His Swim-Roll-Swim Test

Thursday, March 29 was our usual busy day of classes, starting with Music Rhapsody in the morning for Archie. Henry sat in the office lobby area and played on his Kindle Fire while Archie was in class. Later in the morning was Archie's second speech class of the week. Henry couldn't resist doing flips into the ball pit! Henry had French class in the afternoon -- the last one with Ms. Joelle, his teacher for almost three years, as she has now left Yak Academy. Though Henry was going to be more bothered about her departure than he was.He isn't particularly liking French class anymore, which is too bad as he knows a lot of vocabulary and speaks it well. He described it by saying that he didn't ever get to do anything he wanted in the class, e.g., in swimming while the instructor is working with one child the other ones can be playing around in the shallow end. Not sure how much longer he will be taking French, especially since he wants to do more dance classes next year and he really likes that. In fact, recently he ranked his class from the most favorite to the least favorite: Hip Hop, Tap, Swimming, Piano, Ballet, Little Gym, and French.

Friday, March 30 looked like it would be the perfect day to go to Disneyland. The cheapest of the SoCal passes was blocked out for the first day of the sping break session, yet most of the local schools were not yet on spring break. It was still busy, as it always is, but it was not jam packed as it usually is during vacation periods. We wasted a lot of time on arrival to the park as when we were dealing with getting our new season passes while still outside the park, Archie managed to kick off and lose one of his shoes. This could not be found by an immediate search of the area and no one had turned it into guest services in the ten minutes we spent looking around for it (amazingly we received it in the mail later that week). Well, he couldn't go the whole day without shoes, so spent some time in Downtown Disney looking for shoes, but only found one pair that I didn't really want to buy. We ended up buying that style though when we got in the park and couldn't find anything else that fit -- a pair of Mickey Mouse Crocs for $35.

Archie's New Disney Crocs

Anyway, we enjoyed a bunch of rides throughout the day: King Arthur's Carousel (twice), It's a Small World, Storybook Boats, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Casey Jr. Train (which Archie loved), and Peter Pan. Here are the boys in the caboose of the Casey Jr. Train.

Archie and Henry on the Casey Jr. Train

Both boys spent a long time playing in Goofy's backyard. Stood in line to meet Mickey Mouse and ran into one of the former Yak Academy Spanish teachers, Hector, who subbed in some of Henry's classes a while ago. Amazingly, he recognized us. Archie didn't know what to make of Mickey Mouse. We were the first in the room so he didn't get much transition time to figure things out. He stood next to Mickey for about ten seconds, just long enough for me to get this photo.

Henry, Mickey Mouse and Archie

We went to the Tiki Room, but Archie did not want to stay once the lights were dimmed and I had to take him out, which was odd, because last time he seemed to really like it. When Archie fell asleep in the afternoon, we discovered that where Santa's reindeer are kept in the winter is a goat petting zoo during the rest of the year. Henry went in a lone to meet some goats. The log cabin that houses Santa at Christmas time had some tables, chairs and pictures to color. So Henry colored a picture of a horse orange, while Archie slept in the Joovy and I got to sit down. Speaking of the Joovy -- that was the last time we use that at Disneyland. The boys have reached a combined weight at which it is very hard to turn when they are both on it, making it a struggle maneuvering through the crowds at Disneyland. While Archie was still sleeping we bought a fruit popsicle for me and chocolate covered Mickey head shaped ice cream on a stick for Henry. Of course Archie woke up as soon as we had those, but we walked over to the New Orleans square and all listened to the Dixieland Jazz band playing while we ate our treats. We ended up staying at the park much later than planned, but that worked out as we missed the rush hour(s) traffic on the way home.

At the weekend, Henry had his usual ballet/tap and piano classes on Saturday. We spent April 1st trying to dodge not so funny tricks by Henry. In the afternoon Henry and I went to see a youth theatre production of Seussical Jr., that some of his friends from school were in. We had asked him if he wanted to be in the show but he turned it down saying he thought he would be too nervous to do it. He enjoyed watching the show though and wished that it was longer so he could see more.

Lots of photos from the end of March and beginning of April have been added to Deane Photos 2012 (March to April).

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Mar. 26th, 2012 12:11 am Most of March!

March started off pretty quietly for us as far as visiting places (since Henry was developing a cold), but very busy for another reason. Henry had been wanting a pet for a while and had been talking about getting a guinea pig for about a month. We had done our research on the Internet and it seemed like we would be able to handle it, and by we, I mean I, as I was fully aware there care would be my responsibility. Henry had off of school on Friday, March 2 and Monday, March 5 for parent/teacher conferences. On Friday morning we visited the library and checked out a handful of books about guinea pigs, so we all could learn more about them. Around lunchtime we went to a school friend's house and nearby park to play for a while. Then we ran errands to a local hardware store, Fast Signs for coroplast, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond for wire storage cubes in order to make a guinea pig cage. I spent that evening building it. The next morning I got more coroplast from a local sign shop to fill in the loft space I decided to add and extra for a "travel cage". In the afternoon, Henry and I headed to L.A. Guinea Pig Rescue, which is actually just a woman's garage completely dedicated to the purpose of housing (and re-housing) guinea pigs. She does a great job providing information and keeping her web site up-to-date with new guinea pigs that need homes. We spent around an hour there looking at the guinea pigs, asking questions and getting to know the two that we chose, Mia (renamed Betty) and Estelle.

Meet Betty and Estelle!

Estelle was born in August 2011 and has already had babies. She was a private surrender to the Rescue because she was pregnant. Betty, born in November 2011, was actually rescued from a shelter and had her babies about three weeks before we brought her home. Two of her babies were still at the shelter and we almost got one of them, but we really liked Estelle. Betty is fairly shy and spends a lot of time hiding in the sleephouse or pigloo. Estelle loves to chew on things and explore about the cage and is much less timid, though runs away quicker when I try to take her out of the cage. She was the first one to use the ramp in the cage on a regular basis. She is also more dominant than Betty and will oust her from her resting place if she wants it. We gave them a few days to get used to the cage. I got another set of storage cubes so I could make a big fence we could use to get them out and handle them. Here is their first time out with Henry, on Thursday, March 8.

Henry Petting Betty and Estelle

Archie doesn't get to play with the guinea pigs as he is still too little to understand how to handle them. He does like to stand up close to their cage and watch them, and also run his hands down the wire rungs of the cage, which usually scares them!

Monday, March 5 was my conference with Henry's teacher Suzanne. Went pretty much as expected, no surprises. Henry and Archie got to play with Ms. Karina for the hour that I was gone.

Spent those first couple weeks with everyone getting that nasty cold. Ben even took off of work on Thursday the 8th and I cancelled all of Archie's activities that day. We were a fairly miserable crew.

Saturday, March 10, I ended up taking Henry to his Saturday classes as Ben was feeling worse than me. Took him to his ballet/tap class, then bought some donuts and milk, stopped at Petco, then ate donuts and drank milk together while waiting for his piano lesson time. After the lesson we went to the Manhattan Beach Library book sale. This was a good thing as we found two boxes of near mint condition Hardy Boys books (possibly remaindered). I bought them all without even bothering to look too hard for any duplicates -- 40-some books for $18 -- bargain! So of course I ended up with about 10 duplicates, oh well. Will find a deserving family, sell or donate them eventually. After the book sale, we ate a late lunch together at Corner Bakery.

Sunday, March 11, Ben took Henry to the Redondo Beach Festival of the Kite. They ran in to one of the del Sol families there. Henry had fun flying his kite and eating ice cream afterward.

Henry and Kite

Henry with Ice Cream Cone, a Kite Festival Tradition

I managed to get out of the house on Wednesday, March 14 to go to Book Club. We just finished reading the rather whimsical book, The Matchmaker of Perigord. I could easily imagine this as a French movie with all of its odd characters in a small town; however, some of the stylistic elements in the writing got a little irritating while reading the book (repeated descriptions particularly). Our next book is to be C by Tom McCarthy.

Friday, March 16 during the day, I did a little clothes shopping, buying a pair of beige trousers and a pair of jeans from JCPenney's. Archie sat patiently in the stroller playing games on the iPad, while I tried on over 20 different pairs of trousers. So hard to find the right fit! Friday evening, we had our last family night of the year at school (there are still other school community events to come this year though). Chili was served, along with sourdough bread bowls you could put your chili into, if you so wished. Ben got to take Archie home, while I stayed for the Parent Education session, which was more discussion on P.E.T.

Saturday, March 17 was a washout, it pretty much rained all day long. While Ben took Henry to his Saturday classes, I took Archie to the South Bay Galleria for more shopping and bought some Dockers trousers and a pair of jeans at Kohl's. Once again he played iPad games. We ate lunch together at Red Robin before I drove him home (in order for him to fall asleep in the car for naptime).

My running has been fairly compromised with all the illnesses I've had the last two months. Sunday the 18th presented my last chance to get in a long run before my race on the 24th. Ugh, it was so windy and cold! I managed to get in 8 miles but it was rough. Thankful that my rain jacket is also a wind stopper and I was smart enough to decide to wear it for the run.

In the afternoon, the whole family went to the California Science Center. We needed to use up our free IMAX tickets we got with our membership before they expired at the end of the month. Henry and Ben went to see Flying Dinosaurs 3D, about pterosaurs, while Archie and I played in the World of Life Discovery Room and the Ecosystems Discovery Room. Then, the parents swapped kids and I took Henry in to see Born to Be Wild 3D, about an orangutan rescue and an elephant rescue, while Ben took Archie through the Ecosystems exhibit.

The ensuing week was fairly routine until Friday the 23rd. I had to go up to Agoura Hills to pick up my race number, so I decided to leave early and take Archie up to Underwood Farms in Moorpark. He was such a happy guy at the farm. We started off having a look at a few animals and then he had a pony ride on a pony named Arizona.

Cowboy Archie

Then we went around looking at all the animals, using quarters to buy food pellets for them, and sending the pellets down tubes that went into the animals' enclosures. He played on the long wooden train for a little while. We also went into the petting area and he patted a few goats and tried to brush them, but was holding the brush upside down. Then the animal show started and we watched part of that. Got to see the trainer bring out a pot-bellied pig, a couple rats, and a cockatoo (first time we have seen this cockatoo in the animal show). Archie was getting hungry, so we had a picnic lunch that I prepared ahead of time. One more pony ride for Archie (on Arizona again!) before we left the farm.

Headed over to Agoura Hills and only spent about 10 minutes picking up my race number, goodie bag and free T-shirt. Then headed home for about a half hour before having to get Henry from school.

Friday was Henry's last day of school before spring break and the school held its annual Spring Party. They had an egg hunt, dyed hard boiled eggs, brought in bouquets of flowers, made chocolate bird's nests, and made "critters" with plastic eggs, odd pieces of material and hot glue guns. He had a great time!

After school, we went to the North Redondo Moms Club meeting and egg hunt at Franklin Park. Was good for Archie to get some more energy out at the park after the long car drive back from the farm. Henry enjoyed the egg hunt, but seemed a little tired by the whole day.

Saturday, March 24 was the morning of my race, the Pacific Half Marathon which is part of the Great Race of Agoura Hills races all held the same day. The race started from Paramount Ranch at 7:30am on a cold, overcast, misty day. Very neat to start in the midst of an Old West set! The race was extremely difficult, especially with my lack of appropriate training in the weeks leading up to it. It had an enormous hill around mile 3 -- the longest hill I have ever run up in my life -- thankfully it was just as long on the way down. Extremely scenic route with rolling hills, passed some rustic looking places and the fancy homes along Malibu Lake. This race was the toughest half marathon I have ever run, and I was so happy to be done with it. Finished in 2 hours 22 minutes and 49 seconds.

Back at the Start After Finishing

That afternoon I took Henry to his school friend Madeline's 7th birthday party at the South Bay Gymnastics facility. They set up a few different circuits for the kids to do, utilizing different pieces of the equipment. Henry especially liked jumping along the trampoline track and off into a pit of foam blocks, as well as swinging on a rope and letting go to land in the foam blocks.

Sunday, March 26. It rained almost all day again. I went to Target in the morning and that was about as exciting as the day got!

Of course, more pictures of our activities in March are available on Deane Photos 2012 (March to April).

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Mar. 25th, 2012 10:21 pm End of February

Henry had off of school on both Monday, February 20 and Tuesday, February 21. Ben was also off work on the 20th. The boys had their usual Little Gym classes, Archie in the morning and Henry in the late afternoon. Henry also did a make-up Hip Hop class right after lunch. It turned out that no one else came to the class, so Henry had a private session. The teacher of that class, Amy, really likes to have Henry come in to do make-ups in her class, so they had a good time.

On Tuesday morning, Henry had a dentist appointment -- all is still looking good. Could see his adult teeth growing on the X-rays. The dentist reckons that Henry will be a bit later in losing his teeth, probably not until he is closer to 7 years old. We will see if her prediction comes true. No sign of any wiggling thus far. After the appointment, I took the boys to the California Science Center. There was hardly anyone else there, so we were able to spend as long as we liked in the Discovery Rooms and actually get to enjoy the exhibits without a crowd of people.

Wednesday, February 22, Archie had his appointment with the Craniofacial clinic where he sees a group of specialists over a couple of hours. He was 35" tall and approaching 27 lbs. Not much to report. Everything is looking good. They want to check his hearing again as last year they were not able to test his ears separately, so we have an appointment schedule with the audiologist in April. Also, one of his ear tubes was starting to come out, so we will see if it is out by then. Dentist was a little concerned about our problems with brushing his teeth, so we are being more vigilant about brushing thoroughly than before, which is unfortunately a little more difficult for Archie. We are hoping he will get used to it...he hasn't really yet after a month though!

Friday, February 24, I took Archie to the Los Angeles Zoo. We enjoyed watching a couple of the elephants get pedicures. Spent some time playing at the zoo playground until it got overwhelmed with a school group. Archie also got to ride on the new Conservation Carousel for the first time. He really loves riding on carousels!

Archie Rides a Horse on the New Conservation Carousel

Picked Henry up from school and went to the North Redondo Beach Moms Club meeting being held at Manhattan Heights Park. At first Henry wasn't too thrilled to be there, but then a few older kids showed up and he had a lot of fun playing with them.

Saturday, February 25 the family spent the late part of the afternoon at the South Coast Botanic Garden. We didn't bother bringing the stroller in so there was a lot of following Archie around. We all had fun running races across the big lawn. Archie liked fiddling with the raised sprinkler heads. That boy is drawn to metal things with moveable parts like metal is drawn to a magnet.

Sunday, February 26 we drove out to The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita for the first time. The Gentle Barn is "home to [over] 130 animals who are rescued from severe abuse, neglect or slaughter. Once the animals are rehabilitated they stay at the barn for the rest of their lives and serve as ambassadors helping to heal abused children"...and the general public is welcomed in on Sundays. What a wonderful place to take our two boys who love animals so much. We got photos of quite a few special moments between the boys and the animals. We arrived shortly before they opened, so said hello to some of the horses in the outer area.

A Horse Saying Hello to Archie and Ben

Bought a bag of carrots and spent a while hand feeding them to the horses, pony, and donkey in their stables.

Rebecca Feeds Rosalina

Henry Feeds Addison

Donkeys are one of the animals Archie is particularly fixated on right now, so it was great for him to meet Addison.

Archie Talks to Addison

We listened to the speech given by one of the animal caregivers and toured the upper barn, which had pot-bellied pigs, goats, huge pigs and turkeys that had been given growth hormones, and even a peacock. Here are the boys with Portia the turkey, whose body is so heavy her legs can't support her, so she gets around in a red wagon. Turkey feathers are surprisingly soft.

Henry, Archie, and Ben Pet Portia the Turkey

We stopped for lunch at a Coco's Restaurant, then headed to the William S. Hart Museum and Ranch in Newhall, only about a dozen miles from where we were. There was a small area with some animals in cages to view, but after being at The Gentle Barn and being able to interact with the animals, this was somewhat underwhelming. We probably most enjoyed the Ranch House, where Hart stayed while his larger mansion was being built. Here is Henry outside the Ranch House.

Henry in front of the Ranch House

It had plenty of memorabilia set out in each with room with signs describing their significance. It was tour at your own pace and there wasn't anything Archie could really get into, except this odd space in the wall!

Archie Found an Odd Space in the Hallway

We trekked up a large hill to get to the mansion. Here is Henry and the view as we neared the top of the hill.


While waiting for the tour we gazed across the countryside and spotted 5 or 6 bison grazing near the top of another hill. The tour of the mansion/museum (the mansion is itself the museum, with original furnishing, Western artwork and Hollywood memorabilia on display) was led by an elderly lady who thought it was important to tell everyone not to touch anything, even the walls, about every other minute of the tour. Ben had to take Archie out after about 5 minutes because he was not happy being held and started protesting rather loudly. I enjoyed the rest of the tour with Henry, particularly seeing a pair of Harold Lloyd's glasses on display (which had been given to the Natural History Museum, which is a partner with the Hart museum). There was also a bear rug on the floor which had been given to Hart by Will Rogers. No one on the tour knew who Will Rogers was except me! Got a nice photo of Henry and I on a bench outside the mansion/museum.

Henry and Rebecca

Last day of February, I took Archie to a Moms Club play group. Trying to give him more chances to play with kids closer to his age. Same day Henry came home from school complaining of a sore throat and being really tired. He decided not to go to swim class and he was so worn out that he took a long nap too! It was the start of a cold that came with an annoying cough that was to get passed around the family, first Henry, then Archie, then me and then Ben and would last about two weeks for each person! That pretty much wraps it up for February.

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Mar. 17th, 2012 06:33 pm Photos Up!

Time zipping by again. Getting guinea pigs, everyone getting colds, doing expenses for 2011 taxes, and finishing a book for book club, leaves not much extra time for blogging. Finally got the rest of the February photos on Flickr and created a new set for March -- Deane Photos 2012 (March to April). Hopefully will blog about the end of February soon!

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Feb. 19th, 2012 12:48 pm It's February and Archie Turned 2!

What a busy month it has been. Can't believe it is half over already. Archie and I started the month trying to get over our colds, that were really drawn out and I think mine turned into a sinus infection as I had continuing nasal problems for a couple weeks.

The first weekend of the month was a pretty busy one for us. On Friday morning, February 3, Archie went to a play date/book party for the twin girls, Kate and Audrey, who are in his Music Rhapsody class. He enjoyed playing with all their toys, especially a horse he found and some "My Little Ponies". We also have one horse at home he really likes, but I am in search of a plastic toy horse with moveable legs that isn't all girly looking. Do they not make horses for boys anymore that aren't collectable figures (Schleich, Breyer, etc.)? Anyway, so the kids played while the girls' nanny Regan watched over them and the moms got the pitch from the Usborne book sales rep. I purchased a couple chapter books series and science books for Henry and a potty book for Archie. Eagerly waiting for the books to be delivered now.

Saturday, February 4, Henry had ballet/tap and then piano. In the afternoon we headed up to Ida's place to get our haircuts. Henry's turned out really nice. Archie, however, would not sit still at all this time. Would not even be distracted by videos playing on the iPad, so his bangs are a little crooked! Ida apologized, but it was easy to see he was cooperating, and we didn't want to turn it into a traumatic experience. So Archie has his own style...all the two year old kids will be wanting crooked bangs soon. Besides all that, we were making preparations for Archie's birthday party on Saturday!

Sunday, February 5, started off with me going to the Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K. Ben dropped me off a few blocks from the start, which was thankfully not until 8:30am. It was a very pleasant morning to run, sunny and high 50s/low 60s. The temperature actually reaching into the mid-70s later in the day. I finished the race in 58 minutes and 37 seconds, about 4 minutes faster than last year (though the course was slightly different last year due to construction). I was pretty pleased to beat last year's time and even happier to get in under an hour. While I was busy running, Ben went to Von's to pick up Archie's football-themed cake and a few extras for the party. They spent the morning finishing getting things ready and blowing up helium balloons.

Since Henry helped organize Archie's party, and since Archie doesn't have a lot of friends his age, we invited the kids from Henry's class and our next door neighbors. Being Super Bowl Sunday and having given only a couple of weeks notice before the party a lot of other people we invited already had plans. In attendance were neighbors Gisella and Logan and from school: Noah, Adam, Zach, Alex, Esme, Madeline, Giorgio, Lily, and Olive. We had the usual snacks and served pizza, with cake and ice cream at the end. Archie mostly did his own thing, playing in the sand table outside for a long time, though he also played upstairs in Henry's room alongside the other boys for a while. Archie was in awe of the two candles on his birthday cake and did not even attempt to blow them out (not that his breath would have been strong enough to blow them out anyway), but Henry helped blow out his candles. Here is a picture of the family with Archie's cake.

Rebecca, Ben, Archie and Henry, About to Sing "Happy Birthday"

Here is Archie eating his cake, which was vanilla with a lemon flavor in the middle. He is signing cake here and trying to say it, though the sign should be done with the palm facing up horizontal to the ground, not vertical. He didn't eat much more than what was shown, but he had stuffed in a huge amount of food at lunchtime, just before the party started.

Archies Signs "Cake" (Vertically)

We saved the opening of presents until the morning of Archie's birthday, Tuesday, February 7. Once again, he wasn't that interested in tearing open the paper, so Henry had to help. A bunch of pictures of this are in the Deane Photos 2012 (January to February) album. Some presents he got were books, stacking boxes, alphabet abacus, a woofer dog guitar (he really LOVES this), swimsuit and beach ball. I forgot to give him some presents and I also took a trip to Ross and Marshalls on Wednesday and found a few cool toys on big discount, including a Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set that was 60% off the original price! So he had a few gifts trickling in over the remaining days. Our big present to him was a basketball hoop. Here he is on the afternoon of his birthday (it had rained in the morning), shooting hoops.

Nothing but Net!

I had looked at the forecast the day before Archie's birthday and saw that it was going to be cold and windy and rainy, so I sent out an email to some Moms Club members to see if anyone wanted to come over to play at the house for the morning. So we met Amanda and her son James, who is just 19 months old, who played for a while. The next morning we went to a new moms club play group for 18 to 30 months old, so hopefully Archie will be making some friends closer to his age.

The morning of Friday, February 10, my friend Rachel from Moms Club and her son Carter (18 months) came over to play for a little while and also for Rachel to pick up some chapter books for her older daughter. She is a year older than Henry and also advanced in reading, so I made some recommendations and lent her a few books from the Deane library.

Then Friday night was another Family Night at Henry's school. This time I took Archie along. While Henry and I were eating (it was spaghetti/pasta night), Archie played on the iPad and ate a few snacks I had brought along (he is hit or miss with eating pasta).

Saturday, February 11, another busy day. I took Archie to a make-up Little Gym class in the morning. Ben took Henry to his ballet/tap and piano classes as usual. Then in the afternoon, Ben took Henry to see a youth theatre production of Guys and Dolls that one of the del Sol parents was involved with producing. A bunch of other del Sol students were attending the performance so that was fun. Henry really enjoyed the show. Here are Ben and Henry all dressed up and ready to go to the performance.

Ben and Henry Dress Up for the Theatre

Another fun day on February 12. Henry got to go to his school friend Mia's 6th birthday party. It was held at the Toyota Sports Center ice skating rink. He was so excited to go ice skating again. I bought him a new multi-sport helmet that I thought would be better for skating than a bike helmet. In a panic right before the party, we realized he didn't have gloves and the neighbors were out (we had borrowed Logan's gloves the last time), so Ben and Henry stopped at REI and bought some super cool black gloves! Henry had a fun time skating again; here he is ready to go.

Henry Goes to an Ice Skating Party

Tuesday, February 14, Archie got to go for his 2 year old well-child check-up with his pediatrician Dr. Bayan. Dr. Bayan was really pleased with Archie's progress. Archie weighed in at 26.8 lbs (50th percentile) and height was either 35 or 35 1/2 inches (75th percentile). Not exactly sure of the height as they always seem to measure long there and because Archie kind of freaked out when I laid him down on the exam table and was super wiggly. Think he may have been having a memory of previous vaccinations. He calmed down and played with toys for a while and then the iPad while I talked with Dr. Bayan and while he did most of the exam. Dr. Bayan witnessed him reading some words on the iPad and was pretty impressed. Then when he had to be laid on the table again he started crying and trying to get away. Luckily, Archie has had all of his baby vaccinations and didn't have to have any this time and won't have his next ones until his is four years old. Since the appointment wasn't long and didn't involve any needles, I took Archie to Anderson Park to play afterward.

The next day, after speech therapy, we went to Amanda's house for play group. Archie had fun playing with all of James' toys, especially a ball popper toy and an "Old Macdonald Had a Farm" book.

Speaking of speech therapy, Archie has about 25 words that he says fairly clearly now that we can understand even without a sign. The video of Archie demonstrating his current speech skills is available on YouTube. He has been seeming to have a breakthrough in speech in the last few weeks. He sometimes sings along with songs that are playing, for example songs on "Signing Time" or that are on the iPad and has even sung along with me singing the ABC song! He now parrots a lot of what we say, or things that are said on "Signing Time" or words that are spoken on electronic toys or games he plays on the iPad. He also has a lot of word approximations, where you can usually hear the vowel sound of the word and sometimes the consonants, if they are consonants within his ability. He was evaluated recently by Kids in Motion using the Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale. His current development age ranges in the following areas were: pragmatics (18-21 months), gesture (21-24 months), play (21-24 months), language comprehension (21 -24 months), language expression (12 - 15 months). Ani noted that he does have scattered language expression abilities above that age range, but as he hasn't met all requirements to get in the next age level (such as producing t or d consonant sounds) she scored him at the lower level. This is a good thing in a way, in that it will help that he has a lower score, in order for insurance to continue to cover the speech therapy!

Saturday, February 18, the family went out for lunch at Charlie's an Italian Restaurant near the Yak Academy and the Redondo School of Dance and Music that I have been wanting to try for a while. The food was very good, though service a little slow. Will go back there again on days when we aren't in any sort of hurry.

Sunday, February 19, I went for a 10 mile run this morning. Ben took Henry and Archie to one of Henry's school friend's birthday party this morning, this time it was for Zach, turning 7. (So I got time to blog!) This afternoon Henry and I are going to see ukelele sensation Jake Shimabukuro in concert at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

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Feb. 12th, 2012 03:22 pm Second Half of January

Tuesday, January 17th Archie had another NICU follow-up appointment. They knock him back four weeks in his comparisons because he was four weeks early, so he was classified as 22.3 months old. Archie weighed 26 1/2 lbs (12.1 kgs) which was between the 50th and 75 percentiles and his height was 34 1/2 inches tall (88cm), which was at the 75th percentile. So he has not only caught up in growth now, but is taller than the average child his age! This is amazing because a year ago he was still below the 3rd percentile in weight! They performed a battery of developmental tests resulting in above average cognitive and fine motor scores and average receptive language score. He was a little below average on expressive language scores, so it continues to be important for him to receive speech therapy to help with his oral communication.

Friday, January 20th was an overcast windy day, so I decided to take Archie to Adventureplex for the morning. Archie played in the under 4 area going down the little slide a bunch and rolling balls from the ball pit down it. He also spent quite a lot of time in the puzzle and book area putting wooden puzzle pieces into the board. We also spent some time on the basketball court kicking balls around. Ordered a pizza to eat, which we ended up taking to go as we had been there for two hours and Archie was getting close to falling asleep. Then guess what? A few days later Archie and I started having colds. We seem to always get sick after being at that place, no matter the amount of hand washing or sanitizer used!

On Monday, January 23rd both boys had their Little Gym Showcase week where parents come in and watch their skills. Well, Archie is a parent/child class anyway, so wasn't too much different. Archie pats the mat to the goodbye song.

Archie Patting the Mat

Was fun to see Henry's progress up close. It was also the last class that we went to at that gym location, as the Little Gym relocated to a new location (not far from the old one). The new gym looks great, with a much better use of space in the gym and nice cushioning mat covering all the floors. Anyway, here is Henry crab walking down parallel bars.

Henry Crab Walks

I went to book club on Tuesday night where we talked about The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. Next book to read is The Matchmaker of Perigord.

On Wednesday, January 25th, Henry had his swim survival test. They flung him into the water with his street clothes on and he had to recover and get into back float position. Then they splashed him while he was floating on his back to try to see if he could hold the position, which he did. He passed the test and got a little ribbon. He also moved into the next level up, ST3. So now he has an earlier class time and a new swim teacher, Sam. Henry is working on swim-roll-swim, a technique in which he swims a couple strokes forward on his front, then turns and glides on his back to breathe, and then goes back to swimming forward on his front. He is looking very comfortable in the water now. We celebrated afterward with frozen yogurt and nearby spot, Menchie's. Henry had a mixture of Cookies n Cream and Chocolate Silk frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles, chopped up Oreo cookies, M&Ms and Gummi Bears. I hard Red Velvet frozen yogurt with blueberries and bananas and white chocolate chips, thinking Archie might eat some of it, but he didn't like it.

Henry Celebrates Passing Swim Test

On Friday, January 27th, there was a Discoverer hosted family night at school. Ms. Karina came to babysit for Archie so that I was free to help out with the food (we had Indian food, huge amounts of Chicken Tikka Masala) and clean-up. The Discoverer class did a presentation of quotations to welcome in the Season of Non-violence. Henry spoke the quote, "Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love," by Mahatma Gandhi. Then the Discoverer class sang the song, "Be the Change." Ben and I were both able to go to the parent education discussion after the presentation, which covered the first three chapters of the book Parent Effectiveness Training. Henry had fun playing with all his friends at school and got one of those paper fortune tellers made, which he enjoyed for a few days.

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Feb. 10th, 2012 02:40 pm Our Trip to Arizona

Hope that this doesn't become a habit to go for so long without posting to this blog.

January 1 -- well we didn't do anything particularly memorable for our 14th anniversary. I went out on a 14 mile training run. No, I do not plan on running the same number of miles as years in the future, just a coincidence.

January 2 saw Henry going back to his usual schedule of school and extra-curricular classes.

Thursday, January 12, Henry's class went on a field trip ice skating at the Toyota Center in El Segundo. This was Henry's first time ever ice skating. He was pretty nervous about it and initially didn't even want to go, but word that they would have hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie after bolstered him with courage. Discoverer Class Ice Skating

Friday, January 13 we headed off for our long weekend to Arizona. Took Henry out of school for the day and Ben took a day off too. We stopped at Don and Sweet Sue's for lunch. Having written on the blog last time we stopped there that the waffles were good, we all opted for them and they were tasty. After lunch, we stopped at Century Park on the way out of town to let the boys release some energy. Henry and Archie had fun climbing all around.

Henry Going Over the Top

Ben and Archie Playing

Enjoyed the drive across California and into Arizona, despite its length. Henry was excited to see saguaros once we got to Arizona. We stopped briefly for gas after crossing the border, because the price was about 40 cents cheaper per gallon than in California.

Arrived in Tempe, AZ just before dinner time and headed straight to the Arizona Mills shopping mall. We stopped at the Stride Rite store and bought some shoes at reduced prices for Henry. Then we ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. It was pretty noisy in there. Archie liked the elephants and the waterfall, which he called "rain". After dinner we drove across the street to our hotel. We stayed at the Residence Inn, where we had stayed on our last visit, but this time we had a two bedroom suite, which was rather nice! It was truly a home away from home, with a lounge and kitchen in the middle and a bedroom with ensuite bathroom on both sides of the lounge.

Saturday, January 14 -- after eating lots of food from the breakfast buffet at the hotel, we headed to the race expo for the half marathon. I picked up my runner number, shirt, and goodie bag. Then wandered around a bit checking out the booths. Bought some socks from Gizmo Socks as I had forgotten to pack enough pairs for the vacation. Spent a half hour getting a massage while Ben pushed the boys around in the Joovy (with Archie playing on the iPad and Henry playing on his new Kindle Fire). Also bought some new bluetooth earphones, which actually have not gotten to use yet! Most make some time to sort them out soon. We strolled over to a nearby British-themed restaurant, The Rose and Crown. The food was okay, but nothing great and annoyingly, they were out of milk.

After lunch we walked over to the Arizona Science Center. Our membership at the California Science Center meant that we got free admission and only had to pay for the planetarium show on Saturn. We all got tickets, but unfortunately Archie decided he didn't want to be in the planetarium after about 10 minutes, so I had to take him out. He played in the small under-4 area for along time while Ben and Henry finished watching the show. Spent the rest of our time making our way through the exhibits, especially spent time in the human body exhibit area as Henry was studying that in school at the time. They put together the organs in the this body puzzle, the most effort being to keep all the organs from falling out while putting organs in. Perhaps the should change this to a horizontal exhibit with the mannequin on a mock operating table?

Ta-dah, Organs in Place!

Here's our alphabet enthusiast putting together a puzzle.

Archie Loves Alphabet Puzzles

So Archie ended up taking a late nap because we were at the Science Center pretty much until it closed at 5pm. This ended up meaning that we had dinner really late, which was not what I wanted to do since I had to be up pretty early for the race the next day. While Archie was resting, Henry and I popped over to the Walgreen's next door to pick up some cereal and milk so I could have breakfast before the race. I would be leaving the hotel before breakfast was served.

We drove about 15 minutes away to an Italian Restaurant called "RigaTony's", so I could get some pasta. Then we had to wait a ridiculously long time for a table (45 minutes to an hour). The food was tasty enough, not sure if it made up for the long wait though.

Next morning, up bright and early. All piled into the car for me to be dropped off a few blocks from the start line of P.F. Chang's Arizona Half Marathon. Preparations for the race that morning all went smoothly, though I managed to forget my watch and pedometer so had no good means of measuring my pace. The race was run along a different route than when I ran it four years ago. That last time the half marathon and marathon started from the same area. This time they separated the two starts, but they both finished at near the Sun Devils stadium. It was a bit cold to start with, so I ran in an old maternity sweatshirt for the first couple miles, and then ditched it by the roadside. Clothes such as this were being picked up by a local charity, though I can't remember which one now. Felt really good during the race, so I kept the pace up as much as possible. Based on the roadside clocks that appeared throughout the race, I knew I was going at a pretty good pace for me. I pushed it a little in case I could get in under two hours, but not quite this time. Ended up finishing in 2 hours 1 minute and 43 seconds. I was in time to get over to the marathon finishers area and watch the winning men come in. Then I met up with Ben and the boys and we headed back to the hotel.

Rebecca, Half Marathon Finisher

My legs were pretty worn out after the race as I ran a lot harder than I do in training. We were all starving so decided to eat at the "5 and Diner" across the street from the hotel. The boys got paper hats with their menus, which provided some entertainment. We were all pretty happy with the shakes/malts we ordered, especially me!

Short Order Cook Archie

Short Order Cook Henry

We had plans to go around Scottsdale, but Archie was needing to nap and I wanted to rest too. We watched the Olympic Marathon time trials on TV, a Packers game and the Golden Globes. Just lounging around the hotel relaxing seemed on the cards. Ben ran out to a Mexican restaurant to pick up dinner.

Next day, we had a rather quick drive back home, mainly because when we stopped for gas we also got some food to eat and ate in the car, saving us an hour of time that we would have sat around in a restaurant. We were able to enjoy some time at home that evening, which is always nice after a vacation.

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Jan. 29th, 2012 09:43 pm Tumbleweeds Blowing Through This Blog

And not just because we went to Arizona this month. Sorry, I've sort of lost the will to blog/photograph/document lately. Another month has passed since the last update! I'm planning to get the update of the month up in the next two days! Meanwhile, there are some photos (not many) in a new Flickr album: Deane Photos 2012 (January to February).

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Dec. 29th, 2011 09:19 am December 2011

Upon returning from our trip to England, Henry had a week and a half of school before the holiday break. It was a fun time for him as there were a lot of holiday activities culminating in a party on the last Friday. There was the annual gingerbread house building, making latkes, singing to the other school classes (his class sang "Frosty the Snowman" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and exchanging gifts -- Henry got a Hexbug Ant and the gift he gave (to Catalina) was a Zoobles set.

That same day Archie had a stomach bug and was vomiting. It proceeded to go around the family, me and Ben both got it Saturday night and Henry got it on Monday night. Was a pretty horrible experience all around!

Still Henry and I managed to squeeze in a viewing of the School of Dance's production of "How the Grinch Stole the Nutcracker" a combination of the two classic Christmas stories. Henry really enjoyed the production, which had some really fantastic costumes and fun choreography. There was an amusing '80s dance scene in the middle showing the "teenage grinch". We were amazed to learn in a Q&A session after the show that he and some of the other teenage leads dance around 20 hours per week (though they can take dance as a "gym credit" and get out of school an hour early).

On Friday, December 16, Henry, Archie and I went to Disneyland to partake of their Christmas celebrations. We had a really wonderful time. Both of the boys still love the carousel. As most SoCal kids were still in school and it was the first blockout day for SoCal passes there was actually a reasonable number of people in the park (at least during the daytime). Rides we did: Dumbo, Carousel (twice -- the boys both love it), It's a Small World, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Storybook Boats, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, and Finding Nemo Submarines. Saw the Christmas parade (Henry was really excited about this, we hardly ever get to see the parade and we got a good spot even though we lined up about 5 minutes before it started0, the Tiki Room, a couple shows projected on It's a Small World facade, and Fantasmic (from a not very good viewing point, but while eating ice cream). Henry played in Toontown at Goofy's house while Archie napped. Met Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, and Santa Claus. Ate Mickey-shaped beignets while listening to jazz (could have done that all day) and Archie repeatedly signed "man". Caught the end of toy soldier drumming street show and snowing (foamy bubble stuff) in Fantasyland. Lots of photos from Disney have been added to Deane Photos 2011 (November to December).

Mickey Mouse, Henry, Archie and Rebecca

Henry had an all day long playdate with friends Mia and Emma on December 20th. We spent a good amount of time playing outside and made a big chalk drawing on the driveway.

Adding Presents Under the Tree

We also spent a day at the California Science Center, mostly playing in their various Discovery Rooms and in the Ecosystems exhibit.

Then just before Christmas the boys both had colds...just after Christmas they gave it to me. Christmas photos are available in the Christmas 2011 album.

Henry Finds the Stockings

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