Amelie at 10 years, Mia at 8 years, Desmond at 5 years, Miles at 3 years
September 16, 2014


There's been a couple of new additions to our family. First, Mia discovered her long-lost cousin Cha-Cha from south of the border. I asked Mia about what Cha-Cha is up to lately and she said she has returned to her home in Mexico.



Next, we got a new puppy named Buddy. Naomi did a lot of research before settling on an Australian Shepherd. Buddy's a pretty cool dog, and so far the puppy training we've been doing has been paying off.



Amelie with Buddy. We had no intention of getting a dog, but Amelie wouldn't give up. After months of badgering we finally gave in, and so far it's been pretty fun. Since he's a herding dog, he herds the chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits, and the kids. It's weird how he knows how to do that instinctually.



Mia with Buddy. He's just an adorable little puppy.



The 4th of July has come and gone since the last update, but the girls were all dressed up for the holiday.



Mia was lighting fireworks this year, she's got a snake burning here.



The noise bothered Desmond, so I put the ear protection on him and he was fine. He lit sparklers all night long.



We did another block-party this year, so once it got dark, the whole street lit up.



Mia and Amelie enjoying the show.



Amelie rehearsed Alice In Wonderland for months and then finally they did three days of shows. This is her costume for the opening scene at a fair, before Alice goes down the rabbit hole. You can see the video of the entire performance at this link.



Naomi signed up for a membership at the Discovery Museum, so she's been taking the kids there. I like how Desmond is trying to figure out how Mia is doing the peace sign.



We went to this year's Home-Schoolers of California convention in Santa Clara. It was the best one yet, and it was nice we didn't have to drive all the way to Sacramento for it.

Buddy chewed up and pissed on the hotel room like only a puppy can. We did our best to contain the damage, but I can see why they charge extra for pets.



Mia bought a lot of the badges they offer that say all kinds of silly things.



They have lots of little workshops during the conference, so Amelie did a make your own hula-hoop class.

Moving to the Hyatt in Santa Clara seemed like a good idea at first, since it's closer, but in the end, it was pretty crappy. In Sacramento, the hotel has a huge outdoor area, including an outdoor stage. I didn't realize how nice it was to be outdoor most of the time, even though it was 100 degrees. They had a water-play area that was very popular, and a couple of different courtyards to do activities in. It was pretty oppressive being in a conference room after that, and there was no construction zone or water play, which was a real loss.

Also, when the homeschoolers move in, they take over the entire hotel, so everybody you meet is sympathetic.

On the other hand, at the Hyatt, there were all kinds of groups there, including some idiot who asked me to get Desmond and Miles to move off the bar stool while they waited for a glass of water at the empty bar because you have to be 18 to sit at the bar. I let them stay.



Mia did a super-hero costume class.



Mia helped Miles with his costume.



Back home Amelie and Mia are taking pottery classes. We bought a professional Shimpo pottery wheel and now I'm looking for a cheap kiln so we can fire our own pottery at home. It's pretty fun.



Mia is doing some really creative pottery. She pokes at the clay with a pencil and makes designs in it, it's pretty cool.



We took the kids to Shakespeare in the Park a couple of nights, it was fun and also boring. Shakespeare by the Sea did Hamlet and A Midsummer's Night Dream.



Since the last update, Miles has turned 3! He's talking a lot, but he's still difficult to understand, though he's getting clearer by the day. Desmond and Miles are playing together a lot more now, as well.



Miles is cracking himself up trying to burp.



Naomi took the kids up north to enroll them in Salmon Creek Elementary schoool, in Occidental. It's a charter school, but it's small and sits on sixty acres of redwood forest.

It's pretty unique. We took the kids up there as a sort of home-schooling adventure in regular schooling, and the kids were pretty excited. After a couple of weeks, the girls thought it was boring but they liked playing with all the other kids and Amelie enjoyed working in the cafeteria. She would serve lunch to the other kids, and she really enjoyed it.

There's a giant redwood forest behind the school that the kids can take walks in. Where most schools look like a prison to us, this school is different.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of houses for sale in Occidental because it's so rural and the school won't do inter-district transfers because there's a waiting list to get into the school. Naomi only got in because she told them she was homeless, which apparently, is the magic word. Once we told them we weren't actually homeless, they kicked us out, but we were coming home anyway.



They have a beautiful garden that's huge. I tried the cherry tomatoes and they were unbelievable.



They had a cool mural as well. Miles is eating an apple that's red on the inside that he got out of their garden. I'd never seen an apple like that before.

One nice thing about dropping the kids into their respective grades for a bit was that we got to find out how we're doing homeschooling them. We didn't know, have we been totally fucking this whole thing up? Or would they be fine, working at their grade level with no problems?

Well, it was fine, much to our relief. They did great, and didn't have any problems with the work.



Mia was amazing. After the first day of class, Mia came home and said she had made a new best friend. I asked her what her friend's name was and she said she didn't know her name, but they were best friends.



Naomi visited her nieces in Eureka while she was up north. They went to the zoo there.



All the cousins playing on their rope spider web.



We stopped at a park in Healdsburg to look at houses to buy, it was like driving through Irvine. Except, after some research, Naomi discovered they're close to running out of water. So, maybe that 2.4 million dollar home won't be worth so much once that happens.

In the end we decided not to move up north. Sebastopol was really nice, but it had one road through town so all the locals cut through the neighborhoods and there was traffic everywhere you looked. With four small kids and a dog that wasn't what we wanted.

We'll probably buy an RV and take trips around the country, instead.

The cool thing was that I tried working from the hotel while we were up there and it worked great. I just remoted into my work machine and programmed away, it was simple.



Banging on the bleachers at the park in Healdsburg. Good thing we were the only ones there.



As the girls get older, they take little trips around the corner to get their nails done, and to have a little frappucino while they're at it.



Amelie doing a balancing act at the park. She's such a sweet kid, I love how she is growing up.



A tiny frog the kids found at the park.



The kids are still climbing everything they can find and they're getting pretty good it at. Mia is standing there like an acrobat.



Until next time, bubbles!



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