Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Tradition

One of our favorite holiday traditions is our annual trip to Pier 39 to see the Christmas decorations.  We did all of our favorite things like watching the Sea Lions, going on the carousel, eating lunch at Bubba Gumps, watching street performers and then buying some fresh crab to eat at home for dinner.

 Aliyah doesn't like going on the animals on the carousel but she is usually ok sitting on a bench.  Silly mom didn't realize that this fancy bench rocked until we started moving so Aliyah spent the entire ride clutching my shirt with one hand and covering her eyes with the other.  I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap and she said no, she just wanted to ride like that.

 She felt much better once we were on solid ground at Bubba Gumps.

And this is what normally happens when we try to get a picture of all three of our kids looking at the camera...

 ... but then we happened upon Santa at Boudin Bakery and somehow the impossible happened. Must be the magic of Christmas :)

A Day in the Life

We try not to over schedule our weekends but every once in awhile, schedules line up so that we have a lot going on on the same day.  Last Sunday was one of those days.

The day started off with a trip to San Jose where Nick's flag football team was playing in a tournament.

Receiving last minute advice from Coach Dad.

And then end of the season trophies.

After the flag football game it was off to Noah's futsal game.  Futsal is a type of indoor soccer that really helps the kids with developing their footwork.

After futsall it was off to Stockton to go to a minor league hockey game to celebrate Noah's 5th birthday with a few of his friends. 


Aliyah particularly liked the ice dancing at intermission and was a little upset by the hockey game that was interrupting their performance.  She also did not care for the very loud horns when the home team scored but all in all it was fun, but very tiring, day!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Grandpa Jeff

I really am the worst when it comes to taking pictures. My dad was just in town visiting from the Philippines for a month and I didn't think to take any pictures until the last day he was here at lunch and I had Pete snap a quick picture on his phone.

Despite the lack of photo evidence, we had a great time visiting with Grandpa Jeff. He met Aliyah for the first time and was amazed at how smart she is. We describe her to people but in this case, seeing really is believing that she is just an amazing little girl.

Nick and Noah also loved visiting with granpda and hearing his stories about everything from how to kill a rattle snake to how big crocodiles grow in the Philippines. Grandpa has promised to take Nick hunting once he turns twelve and takes the appropriate gun and hunting safety classes. We had my dad over for dinner twice before Thanksgiving and Noah was a bit shy with him. I encouraged my dad to not wear a shirt with buttons (see previous post on Noah's dislike of buttons for explination) on Thanksgiving and maybe Noah would warm up enough to give him a hug. Grandpa wore a plain shirt and sure enough Noah gave a big, extra long bear hug when it was time to say good-bye.

Grandpa flew back home to the Phillipines last week but he is coming back in the summer. We are planning on going to Lake Almanor together along with my sister and her kids for a week. My dad is already making plans for fishing and catching crawdads, it should be a trip to remember.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Movin and groovin

Having fun on a rainy Sunday at home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aliyah's Village

Nick and Noah are on the far left on the couch and Aliyah is next to them between her two buddies.
We are fortunate to live in an area with a large adoption community. We have met a few other families near us with Ethiopian children and the moms and youngest kiddos try to get together for playdates as often as we can. Our last playdate was on Veteran's Day and since all of the schools were closed, we all had all of our older children with us as well for a total of 17 kids. My favorite part about seeing all these kids together is seeing how the older siblings look after all of the Ethiopian children, not just their own brothers and sisters. It is great for our kids to see other families like their own.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sibling Love

One year ago on November 13, we arrived back in the US from our second trip to Ethiopia and Nick and Noah met Aliyah for the first time. When the boys woke up the next morning, they wanted to have their "baby sister" sit on their laps. I think they were little surprised that she wasn't really that much of a baby!
And now one year later, I would say the sibling bond is pretty strong. Aliyah copies Noah which drives him crazy, just the way that Noah has always copied Nick and driven him crazy. They all play and push each others buttons in only the way that siblings can.
I just asked Noah how he feels about Aliyah. He looked at me funny and said "She's my sister" in a "duh mom" kinda voice. That pretty much sums it up.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This was Aliyah's first Halloween and she loved all of it.

Grandma Kathy came over on Halloween night to pass out candy so that both Pete and I could take the kids trick or treating.

Aliyah had thought the costume was pretty cool but then when she found out that you go to houses and they GIVE you candy, well, she took to it like a kid to candy :)

Half the people who saw Nick said "cool, fear the beard!" and the other half said, "Um, a Giants player with a beard?"

And since grandma was with us we got a rare family picture (just wish the lighting was a bit better.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Pete and I both feel pretty strongly about trying to steer Aliyah away from the whole princess craze. However, this morning as she was pushing a toy truck around the kitchen in Noah's handmedown firetruck pajamas, it occured to me that we might be swinging too far in the other direction :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


One year ago, Pete and I flew to Ethiopia to meet our little girl. When I look at pictures and videos of that first trip, I think of her as Mesi which I guess makes sense since it is as if she really is a different child than the one who sits on my lap now making up songs about socks and pizza. On October 18 we went before the judge and she told us two words that changed our family "She's Yours!"

Some people call the adoption day "Gotcha Day" but we don't really like that term so we borrowed from another family and came up with "Aliyahversary".

What a difference a year makes!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yarn Braids

I know, I know, another post about hair.  A few months ago my friend who also has an Ethiopian daughter demonstrated some hair styles for me.  After a few weeks of learning new techniques I decided to try something a little more challenging with the yarn braids.  Basically, each one of these braids is one strand of hair and two strands of yarn finished off with beads.  It took me a little while to get the hang off and it and for the first hour, it took both Pete and I working together to figure out how to get the yarn to stay in tight at the beginning of the each braid.  Then I did a little more research and watched a few video demonstrations and I was able to finish the rest by myself.  It was a big project but we worked on it over two days and it should last awhile.  From what I've read, yarn braids can last several weeks but for our first try I'll be happy if we get two weeks. 

The boys like it when I do Aliyah's hair because it means a little extra t.v. time.  They've also gotten to be very helpful with loading the beads on the threader.  Nick commented once I was done that he liked it, but it's maybe too many beads (such polite critiques from my 7 year old!)  I told him I agree and I have some ideas on how to do it better next time.  It's a learning curve but we're getting there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Official... Again!!

Today we went to court to readopt Aliyah in the United States.  Because of the change in the Ethiopian adoption process, Aliyah actually became a US citizen when we landed in the United States and went through immigration.  However, there were still a few benefits to readopting her in the United States. First of all, it will get her a US birth certificate and second, it is the easiest way to change her name.  Her legal name until now was Meseret Peter as that's how the courts assign the names in Ethiopia.  So while she has officially been ours (and us hers) since our court appointment last October in Addis Ababa, she is now officially Aliyah. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First ER Visit

Every child has a long list of firsts and this last weekend Aliyah was able to check off "first trip to the ER". She had gotten a pretty bad cut on her finger and we spoke to her pediatrician and they recommended we go to the ER because of fear of infection. The ER staff kept commenting on what a cute patient she was and I couldn't help but agree! We were in and out in a little over an hour with careful instructions on avoiding infection. So although it wasn't how we anticipated kicking off our weekend, all told it was a fairly benign way to check of that first.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Weekends

With both boys playing soccer and dad coaching both teams, our Saturdays are pretty much spent at the sports fields. Nick and Noah are both really enjoying their seasons and have scored several goals each. And little Miss Aliyah has been busy making friends with siblings and parents on the sidelines.

And starting in a few weeks Nick will begin flag football and then you will know where we are spending our Sundays also!

Monday, September 12, 2011

42 inches

Growing to be 42 inches tall is a pretty great thing. It means you can finally go on the cool roller coaster at the zoo, ride on the log ride at the Boardwalk AND go down the big waterslides! It also apparently does not stop you from making silly faces at the camera. Yep, life is good when you are 42 inches tall.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ethiopian Vietnamese Americans

Last weekend we went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Oakland. When the food came I asked Aliyah if she remember how to eat the food. She said "Uhuh" and then grabbed some injera and dug in.

She ate everything and nothing was too spicy for her. She was one happy little girl!

We knew that the food might be too spicy for the boys so we told them that if they tried some of the food that mom and dad determined wasn't spicy, and otherwise sat at the table quietly, that they could have hotdogs at the A's game afterwards.

It was a great day enjoying an Ethiopian meal and the all American past time. We are trying to talk to all three kids about all of the cultures that our family celebrates. I think it would be pretty great if they all grew up thinking of themselves at Ethiopian Vietnamese Americans :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We had some brown bananas so Aliyah and I decided to make some banana bread. She was a great helper with smashing the bananas and stirring but the waiting for them to bake part was a little hard from an inpatient (and hungry!) two year old.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Last weekend we took the kids to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the first time. Pete insists that I've been there before but I don't remember it so it was like my first time too :) Nick was big enough to go on most of the rides and Noah was tall enough to go on the log ride as long as an adult went with him.

Aliyah was sad to sit out on the big kid rides but had a blast on the Whale Ride. She pointed and said "I want 7!" and she was pointing at the whale with the number 7 on it. She never ceases to amaze us.

After the Boardwalk and lunch we played at the beach for awhile. You can see Nick digging in the sand by the water. Nick loves the ocean and can play in the sand for hours.

And finally kisses in the tent before we packed up and headed home. It may have been a bit too much for one day though because Noah fell asleep on the car ride and didn't wake up when we got home. He slept through dinner time and bathtime so we finally just put him to bed still covered in sand and he slept straight through until morning!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Last weekend was the start of a new soccer season. It's Nick's fourth year playing and Noah's first. They are on different teams in different age divisions but both ended up with team Germany. It's a fool proof way to make sure Dad always wears the right coaching shirt to each game!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Last week Aliyah and I met with my friend Vanessa and her daughter Cami so that Vanessa could show this clueless momma had to put beads in Aliyah's hair. In the picture above, Aliyah's hair was in practice mode and Cami has yarn braids which is something I hope to attempt with Aliyah one day. But for our African Haircare 101 we just started with braids and beads.

Then when we got home I gave it a try. This hairstyle took me about an hour. People often ask me how I get her to sit still that long and this is how, lollipop bribes and T.V! You can see the boys absorbed in Olivia in the background.

Aliyah was so excited to have "beads like Cami!" She kept shaking her head back and forth and asking me to hold her up to the mirror to see.

Then we were done it was Aliyah's turn to fix Nick's hair :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last week as I picked up Aliyah from school and we got into the car she asked for "deglass". Her language skills are pretty good and I can usually understand her but that one was unclear. I asked if she meant sunglasses or maybe a necklace and finally figured out that she was saying Dance Class. Her school works with a dance school that comes on site to offer dance classes once a week. They hold the classes in the indoor play area which is right outside of Aliyah's classroom. So every week as the dance class is being held outside her window, Aliyah has been anxiously asking her teachers if she could go to "Deglass". Clever marketing!

Aliyah is very heavily influenced by her brothers (shocking, I know) and often wants to do the same things as them. She kicks the soccer ball with them, puts on her glove and tries to catch the ball, takes swings off the tee with the bat and will play with the big buckets of dinosaur and car toys. This is one of the first things that she has expressed an interest in all her own. So, while it wouldn't have been my number one choice of activity to sign her up for, I was happy to oblige when my little girl asked to go to dance class.

Nick and I went to watch the first class and Aliyah was so happy! She did a great job following instructions and was beaming from ear to ear with excitement the whole time. The class focuses on movement and coordination and mostly just having fun.

This was Aliyah's expression when she realized the class was over.

But then she brightened up when I suggested we take a picture with her teacher, Ms. Jana :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coach Pete

Pete is starting his third year of coaching soccer and this year he is coaching both Nick and Noah's teams. He has also coached two years of baseball and he is thinking of being an assistant coach for flag football in the fall. All in all, he's coached a lot of kids and it seems that it's starting to happen quite frequently when we go out that we run into one his current or past players. I usually hear a little boy's excited cry of "Hey, look! it's Coach Pete!" It feels like I am out with a minor celebrity the way these little kids look up to him.

So now in addition to being know as Nick's Mom, Noah's Mom and Aliyah's Mom, I am also Coach Pete's wife :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Last week we went to Lake Almanor for a week. This was our second year as a family visiting the lake where I spent my summers as a child. Of course this year was extra special since Aliyah was with us. We spent the week fishing, swimming, hiking and enjoying the beautiful lake. The kids were filthy and exhausted at the end of each day and we all agreed that we want to go back again next year.

A tired boater...

and two happy boaters.

Beautiful Mt. Lassen (yes, that is snow on the ground in August!)

Enjoying ice cream after a hike around Manzanita Lake.

The boys teaching Aliyah how to fish. Unfortunately we didn't catch anything but we are hoping Grandpa Jeff can join us next year and teach us the secrets of fishing Almanor.