Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Rocks My Socks: Part 2 - Big Girl Thangs

This summer is not even to its halfway mark and is already full of all kinds of important milestones and accomplishments from all three of our girls.  It has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to keep up and adequately celebrate all the new skills the girls have acquired in the last month.  My babies are growing up and surpassing any and all expectations and dreams I have for them.  Here's some of the highlights of all the excitement that has been going on in our house this summer vacation:

Chuli Can Tie Her Own Shoes: I know that as a mother I am supposed to have undying faith in my children but Chuli's intense defiance and resistance to the mere suggestion that she even try tying her shoes had almost convinced me that she was going to have to wear slip-on Vans for the rest of her life. One morning last week she decided that she was going to try and lace up her Chucks by herself because I was busy putting on Rio's shoes and for whatever reason, the thing she convinced herself she could not do suddenly became possible!  It made me so happy to see her finally try and tie those shoes and prove to herself that she could do it, that it didn't even matter that her laces came untied 3 times from our house to her summer camp.   She is so proud to tell anyone that will listen that she can now tie up her own shoes and has been sure to pick out "shoes with ties" everyday since.  Those Vans are starting to look a little dusty... 

Justice Hits The Other Side Of River With Every Rock She Throws: Last summer on our yearly trip to the Russian River, Justice tried for an entire week to hit the other side of the river with a rock.  She was motivated by the $50 reward I offered should she be successful in her attempts, as well as her desire to have a better arm than her Papa.  On our last day at the river she managed to make enough contact with the other river bank to collect her reward but wasn't able to replicate the throw with any kind of consistency.  This year the first rock she launched hit the other side of the river feet behind the water line and 8 out 10 rocks thrown with even the slightest bit of effort have made it to the other side.  Good thing I'm not paying this year! 

Rio Uses The Potty: I don't know if it's her intense hatred of having her diaper changed, her fear of over-flowing landfills, or maybe because the rest of her family spends so much time sitting on the toilet that she has come to believe there is something magical that happens there, but at only 19 months Rio has started using the potty.  Not only does she ask to sit on the potty but she actually makes deposits, of the #1 and #2 kind.  And while we are still probably a long ways away from being able to call our 3rd born officially "Potty Trained" it is still pretty impressive.  And the decrease in our weekly diaper budget is a sweet added bonus.

Justice has started walking places alone: Next year Justice will be in middle school which means she has a new schedule that requires her to be at school a full hour earlier than her little sister.  Since I am not inclined to getting our entire family up and out the door and hour earlier than normal just to sit around the school yard for an hour until Chuli's classes start, Justice will have to get her butt to school on her own.  We only live 10 minutes and a straight shot away from the school and I walked the exact same route when I was her age but none-the-less Justice has been dreading this day since she first heard about it.  In order to combat the resistance to and fear that Justice has about getting places by herself, I have engaged Operation Solo Walk in full effect to turn this 11 year old into an independent, confident and fully-navigational machine by the time school starts.  She started in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica making the 5 kilometer bike ride into town by herself  (a perfect starting point as there is exactly 1 street in the whole town and almost zero possibility of getting lost) and today Justice can walk herself to and from Band Practice (which is a mere 2 blocks from our house), to Trumpet Lessons (4 blocks away) and her grand finale, a full 5 blocks to Starbucks to get me my Chai Latte!  I have to say, this is definitely my favorite development yet!

It seems like all of the sunshine & water-play this Summer has made my kids into fully blooming Big Girls.  While it is easy to miss the snuggly baby stage, I have to say that I am really enjoying the increase in independence.  Even these small milestones give me a sneak-peek into the fierce, strong, confident women my girls are destined to become, and so far the future looks amazing.  I can't wait to see what these girls will accomplish in the next few months and I will be there at every moment with my camera phone in hand to make sure it all gets adequately publicized to the world!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Rocks My Socks: Part 1 - The Family That Carnavals Together, Stays Together

Every year on the last Sunday of May at exactly 8am our block is filled with loud bass booms and fast paced beats streaming from the giant speakers mounted on the back of pick up trucks and flat beds parked at the corner.  This invasion of sound officially announces the start of San Francisco's Carnaval parade, an annual event which brings together over 60 contingents who fill the streets of The Mission with music, dancing & costumes celebrating traditional & contemporary artistic traditions & styles of The Americas & The Caribbean.  Considering that all of the contingents line up on the corner of our block we all quickly learned that our options were to either join in the festivities or spend every last Sunday of May whining & complaining about being woken up to some one's sound check.  So my family chose to dive into the Carnaval pool head first and now this event has become one of our families most important traditions.
The decision to become a Carnavalero and dedicate yourself to this annual event should not be taken lightly.  Carnaval can consume your body & soul (and not to mention bank account) so quickly it will leave your head spinning.  There are definitely moments when the amount of time, money and energy we put into this event seems a bit ridiculous.  When our family hasn't had a weekend off in 3 months because of rehearsals, when my hands are covered in burns from a glue gun, when there is a thick layer of glitter covering everything we own (including my kids!), when we are awake at 2:00am sewing feathers, tying rafia, or painting a float, "What the hell am I doing???" is a thought that runs across my mind with quite some frequency.  The reality is that participating in Carnaval is hard work, it is expensive, and from March until May our entire family gives up and sacrifices all other "non-carnaval" parts of our lives but here's why I wouldn't give it up for the world...
Being able to dance down the streets of my neighborhood to a soundtrack of high-energy drumming provided by my husband and daughters is such a powerful occurrence that could only be possible during SF Carnaval.  The energy that is generated by such a large group of people of all ages & backgrounds who are united in the single purpose of celebration, is so intense you can feel it vibrating in your bones.  For 4 hours you are surrounded by nothing but love and smiles and the the joy is so intense that it almost becomes a physical being.  It is such a privilege to be able to come together with our family, our friends & our community to create something that brings so much happiness to the world.  The images of Chuli shaking her booty down 24th Street, of Justice and her father standing side-by-side as they bang out a Samba rhythm and of my Mama and Rio dancing together are what make it all worth it.  It connects us to our streets, it opens the door to summer and it is probably the only activity that keep every single member of our family happy! 
I will continue to pour myself into SF Carnaval every year so that my family can have the opportunity to make music together, to dance together and to spread love into our community.  And that is definitely worth all the blood sweat and glitter!