The Stanfords’ Year – 2009

December 22, 2009

2009 was an interesting year!  While it may have been a bad year for the US economically, we’ve managed to sit tight financially, and the kids seem to have suddenly grown by leaps and bounds.  In January they finally ditched their training wheels at the first attempt, and are riding like pros.  (Ok, so that’s parental exaggeration.)  Now if they can only learn to put away their helmets so the dog doesn’t eat it!

In April the kids discovered sushi.  Mara has the more adventurous palate, her favorites being the spider (soft-shelled crab & smelt egg) and dragon or caterpillar rolls (both with eel & avocado), while Ian prefers to stick to plain crab sushi.  I’ve also developed their Filipino tastes, as they both enjoy binagoongan and dinuguan (Blair does too).

In May Mom came to visit for around 3 months, attending an Abelardo family reunion in Florida, and then going to Canada to visit with Lia, Lem & Ben, as well as taking a side trip to Vermont with Uncle Ding’s family.

In September, Blair’s brother Scott finally sold his 20-year old veterinary laboratory to its main rival, a big corporation, and Blair and Scott started working for their former competition.  It’s been an adjustment for both of them, but so far has gone smoothly.  Blair got a big bonus from the sale which allowed us to keep the kids in Montessori for another year, and buy a really old but pretty sturdy secondhand 1989 Volvo 760 Turbo sedan for his commute.  He doesn’t enjoy the 30 minute daily trip, having been spoiled for the last 19 years being able to walk a block to work, but it has its advantages too – for the first time in his life, Blair is working a 9-5 job with weekends off and paid vacations.  And working in the IT department instead of the lab is much easier and more comfortable for him.  His biggest complaint now is boredom at the lack of actual work.  But he does get to travel occasionally, and in October went on a week-long trip to re-wire the network closet of a lab in Chicago.

In September, at the start of the school year, we enrolled Mara in ballet lessons, which she has been wanting since last year.  Through one of the other parents I discovered the International Children’s Choir of Long Beach, and promptly entered both kids.  I also signed them up for the Long Beach Parks and Rec’s free sports program in the park across the street from the school, and the kids played flag football.  Suddenly we found ourselves turned into the typical American parents, shuttling their kids to after-school and weekend activities, something I had been dreading, but was relieved to find pretty tolerable after all.  I did decide to wait till next year before allowing Mara to participate in the annual Nutcracker ballet, as the expense made me raise my eyebrows.  Football was not greeted with enthusiasm by either child, but I was determined they would learn sportsmanship and get more exercise.  Amazingly enough, their team went 4-0, retiring undefeated in early December.  It took the first 2 games for them to get their bearings, then in game 3 Ian stripped their opponents of their flags 3 times, and in the last game he gained yardage towards one of their touchdowns.  And Mara scored the very last touchdown of the final game!  Next January they start basketball.

In October I was chosen to be on the jury of a civil case, a property dispute between two grumpy old men.  After 3 days of listening to sometimes boring testimony, the judge conferred with the lawyers and the parties came to some agreement, so we did not even get to deliberate – but though we were a teensy bit disappointed that we did not get the full jury experience, we were all glad to finally get back to our lives.

It was on the morning of the first day of my jury duty, as we were rushing to get out of the house, that the gate failed to latch properly behind me and Abby, our 8-year-old pit bull, got out.  We frantically chased her through the streets but she ended up on busy South Street, and our worst fears came to pass as she was run over by a truck.  We were all, and the kids in particular, absolutely devastated, especially as Blair and I had to pick up her remains from the street to bring her home.  Blair buried her in the back yard.  It’s the kids’ first real brush with death, and they were terribly sad for weeks after.  We debated getting another dog from the pound, but have decided to remain a single-dog household for awhile as Oreo is enjoying a lot more attention now.

In November Ian finally lost his first tooth, and a few days later his second.  He has been pretty impatient the last couple of years, watching his sister rake in the dough from the tooth fairy (Mara this month lost her 6th tooth), and has some catching up to do.  This month the kids also learned to write poetry in school.  For their December Christmas show, the school brought in a snow maker, and the kids performed in the parking lot in snow!  They (and the parents as well) had a lot of fun playing in it after the performance.

The International Children’s Choir took up most of our extra-curricular time this December, as it’s the busiest month for performances.  Mara’s very first performance was on television!  Local TV station KTLA Channel 5’s Morning News Show featured an author promoting her book and a food drive, and she asked the choir to sing for her.  The station limited the number of kids and chaperones, and Mara was quite fortunate to make the cut – I didn’t.  She was quite comfortable in front of the camera, making sure to get her face in the screen, the little ham.  The choir also performed this month at the Queen Mary, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, and the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, among other venues.  Ian missed the last 2 shows the weekend before Christmas due to Strep throat, but is feeling much better.  In January the kids get to perform at Disneyland and stay in the park the rest of the day, so they are looking forward to that!

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010 to all!

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