Monday, July 10, 2017

Goodbye Middle School

Yes, the twins have graduated! We were a little confused as to what the event actually was. In years past, our middle school had a bigger event off site but has recently down scaled to a “celebration” at the school itself. We got there and it definitely looked like a graduation. Kids marched in, close to 400 of them, and sat and rose on cue. Adam and Royce marched in together so that was a nice moment, though we were too far away to take a good photo. The grade 8 students practiced all week and were good marchers. The twins got dressed up and went despite some nerves on both of their parts. All in all, a nice event and closure to the middle school experience.
Middle school ended with a flurry of activity. The kids went to Washington DC for a few days.  They visited a number of sites, stayed at a hotel and had their grade 8 dance at the hotel. Royce texted us throughout the trip, telling us historical facts and figures. Her favorite site to visit was Mount Vernon, where she bought us all postcards and jam. I asked Adam if he liked Mount Vernon. He said no. I asked him if he liked the Air and Space Museum. He said yes. When he got off the bus, he had no voice, totally hoarse. So we know he was talking non-stop there, just not to us about the learning experience. We also got lots of pictures of Royce and her friends before the dance. We have no pictures of Adam at the dance but Royce assures us he was there.
After the graduation, we invited neighbors back to our place for pink and blue cupcakes and Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers. All very nice and so kind of everyone on our street to celebrate the end of middle school at our house. We even had some friends from Hong Kong who now live in our town in attendance. It was nice to have someone there who remember the twins when they were starting Reception 2 at Hong Kong International School. Made the whole thing feel full circle. We reveled in the moment, then got everyone to bed. The kids graduated on a Thursday and had to go to the final day of school on Friday. Short and sweet, just like the whirl of years in elementary and middle schools!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Twin Teenagers

The saga continues. The twins turned 14 in May and I am struggling to complete this post about it by the end of June. That pretty much sums it up. Things are fast and furious over here now that all kids are teenagers. We anticipate the speed to pick up even more when the twins hit high school in September! But before all that, we had some birthday parties.
Adam, in a burst of independence, organized his own party. He sent out invites that he made himself. Set up the date, time and venue. (Bowling). I really was not sure what to expect but when Royce and I dropped him off there were kids there waiting. Everyone seemed happy, especially the newest 14 year old. After bowling, the group ended up back at our house for pizza and running around in the back yard. All in all, easy and just what Adam wanted.
Royce had a murder mystery party with her friends coming over and then following a script from a murder mystery party pack. The mystery was at points obscure but the girls went with it, hamming it up with accents and costumes. The overall theme was the 1950’s so we had lots of girls bursting into song from the movie Grease (which was oddly reminiscent of one of my own pre-teen birthday parties…)
Royce made a few appearances at Adam’s party and Adam did the same at Royce’s. But, unlike other places we have lived, they don’t really seem to be known as twins. Or perhaps their friend groups are sufficiently far apart. All party goers seemed genuinely surprised and pleased to see another 8th grader (said twin) pop up at the other’s party. The other notable absences; Tori and MaryKay. Tori was at Disneyworld on a high school band trip, but called and texted with more regularity because it was the twins and my birthdays. MaryKay, a many year twins’ party attendee and last minute cake helper, was away this year. She earned a break and we stumbled through without her.
The twins’ gift this year was a phone. While we are already regretting it, we caved to the inevitable. We now have multiple phones dinging at all times, fights for the charging station and low grade worry that someone has lost an expensive device. But we also have a family group chat (at one point titled “Sienna’s Fan Club”- Sienna is our dog). Somehow communicating with the group irons out individual fights. Our group chat messages look so nice and loving it gives us parents hope for tomorrow, for high school and even beyond.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Sons of California

We recently enjoyed a quick trip to California. One of our typical whirlwind trips but a good one with much needed calm in the middle of the whirlwind of travel. We happily stayed with old friends and their young children. Our kids did a bit of studying on the plane but had plenty of down time while in California. Walking around the neighborhood looking for rocks and kicking a ball in the backyard was exactly what our on the go teens needed. Just feeling the sun on our faces while little kids did and said cute things around us made us realize the differences between west coast and east coast, though perhaps the difference is more little kids and big kids.
We spent a few days in Carmel, heading straight for the beach. We were amazed that the main city beach was dog friendly, with signs telling you dogs would be off leash. In New Jersey, dogs are not allowed on the beaches, which always makes us sad to leave our dog behind. We wandered the Carmel downtown a bit. Stores were mostly where I remembered them from my own high school days and I told the kids our story from then. How my Mom and grandma and I had gone into a store and missed a run in with the then mayor Clint Eastwood. We emerged from the story to find my Dad and brothers covered in Elect Eastwood pins.
We stayed at a nice quiet place in Carmel and walked to a bike rental nearby. They suggested we rent bikes in Monterey and we did. We rode right along the ocean, stopping frequently to look at seals and otters. We kept on riding, getting on the 17 Mile Drive in its small bike lane. By the time we got back to Monterey, the aquarium was closing. We did not go to the aquarium, though one kid was interested in it. It felt funny to say but we were perhaps a bit too old for it that day. The fresh air and the doing were a better fit for us. I hate to think we are getting too old for it but perhaps we already are.
We finished our trip with a Stanford college tour. Absolutely beautiful but also an affirmation that our Cal loyalties run pretty deep. We were the parents making sarcastic comments off the back of the tour group with our kids standing far away from us. Sadly, the Stanford tour guide only gave the Bay Area rivalry passing mention and focused on football. A hard one for Cal to counter these days. Our son was talking, loudly, about Aaron Rogers and the glory days. But afterwards he bought a Stanford football t-shirt. He asked to tour the stadium. We said no. At least we held our ground there.