First Head Wound

As of a week and a half ago, Finn is the winner of the first head wound lottery! It was bound to happen sooner or later, and we’re lucky that it was a pretty minor injury that happened when he was playing tag with friends at recess and hit his head on the play structure. He didn’t even realize he was bleeding until much later in the day, when he saw a little bit of blood on his finger after scratching his head. His teacher and the woman in the school office thought he was fine because he wasn’t acting differently. The woman in the office called me and told me what had happened but said she thought he was fine, and that she couldn’t feel a bump.

After school he played as usual, and continued playing with a neighbor once we got home. When he finally came in the house at about 5:30, he asked if I wanted to see where he’d hit his head. I did, and I was surprised, once I found my way to his scalp through all that hair, to see an actual wound.

I immediately texted my doctor friend Melinda who advised that it probably warranted a trip to urgent care so they could check out the depth. So, that evening the two of us went up to the local urgent care where they cleaned the wound and found that it wasn’t huge, but it was big enough to need a staple to close it. Finn was frantic. The idea of a staple completely freaked him out, and the cleaning had hurt. He was not a happy boy when I surreptitiously snapped this photo of him with the numbing medicine strapped to his head.

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The actual application of the staple proved to be less harrowing than the idea of it, and soon we were on our way home. He couldn’t wait to tell Bruce and Ezra about it. He stayed home from school the next day because it was still hurting and it had been a fairly late night at urgent care. But the day after he couldn’t wait to tell all his friends he had a staple in his head. And he had me take a picture so he could show everyone (and zoom it all the way in, which he loved).

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A week later we went back and had it taken out. Here are the boys lounging in the waiting room beforehand.

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The doc said everything looks good!

Ezra’s Mission Project

Fourth grade is the year public school kids learn about the California Missions. Ezra is no exception, and he was assigned Mission San Gabriel. We visited the mission when we were in SoCal over the holidays and I was hopeful the project would go well, or at least he would take an interest in it, which initially seemed to be the case.

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His teacher made a schedule so that each piece of the puzzle (essay, map, drawing, etc.) had a due date early enough that there was plenty of time for edits, redos and putting it all together. Unfortunately, every single step of this project became more painful than the last. There were tears, angry scribbles and some door slamming before every due date. It was all so unpleasant that I realized when it was all done that I hadn’t taken any pictures of any part of the process. I think the project came at a particularly tough¬†time for Ezra as the transition back to school after Christmas break was difficult¬†for various reasons.

He finally did rally though, and over the last weekend before it was due we all pitched in and his poster turned out quite good. He had some creative ideas and seemed to be genuinely taking an interest which was really nice to see.

Here he is with his poster and cardboard rendering at school. This is his new pose for every picture.

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The day after the projects were due, all of the fourth graders celebrated with food and dancing at Fiesta Day. Here are a few pictures from the dance. Ezra is on the right of the first photo. He’s wearing a borrowed sombrero.

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I was pleased to hear that he had a good time with the dancing! (I was also thankful that another parent took pictures I could download from the class’s website!)

Wunderlich Hike

A couple of week ago, we spent a Sunday afternoon hiking through Wunderlich County Park in Woodside. I continue to be amazed at how close we are to such beautiful open space. In addition to a great network of trails, this site includes the Folger estate (originally owned by the Folger family, of coffee fame). The museum is only open on Saturdays, but we did see the stables.

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After a quick look around we consulted the map …

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… and started off on our hike.

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The boys went a little off-trail at times.

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Ezra had to go down into the [hopefully not poison oak] wilderness to retrieve his favorite stick after he accidentally through it off the cliff. Well, cliff may be a bit strong but it was steeper than it appears here.

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He put on Bruce’s jacket to protect himself against the possible poison oak, he found the stick, and no one ended up having an itchy rash so all’s well.

They also clambered down to check out this wreckage of some sort.

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We continued on, letting Finn, our burgeoning map-reader, lead the way.

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Here are a few more pictures, including one of the old out-buildings on the edge of the property.

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Chocolate Tasting

We’ve been watching a lot of America’s Test Kitchen lately, mostly at the boys’ request. They love to watch the cooking, but I think their favorite segments are the gadget reviews and the tastings. The other day, Ezra was talking about how good Hershey chocolate is (he’d gotten some at school for Valentine’s Day). He said it was “the best chocolate in the world.” And, you know, I couldn’t really let that statement stand, so I told him there were lots and lots of different chocolates and many were better. Of course, he immediately said, “We should do a tasting!”

So, yesterday morning he and I walked over to the fancy grocery story in our neighborhood (Piazza’s Fine Foods) and picked up a selection of chocolate for our first Moision Family Chocolate Tasting. (I anticipate many more.)

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We chose basic chocolate with similar cacao levels and without any accoutrements (except for the one with sea salt). Obviously the Hershey bar was an outlier but we thought it was a good baseline. We did blind taste testing.

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And everyone filled out Ezra’s pre-made index cards.

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The results:

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We had a clear winner: the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt (so delicious — smooth with the bonus little salty bits), and a clear loser: Endangered Species natural dark chocolate (too chalky a texture and a little bitter). The Sharffen Berger, Ghirardelli and Hershey were in the middle but we didn’t agree on the order. So, we had to go back for a second try. The jury is still out.

Hidden Villa Farm

This week I found out about this place called Hidden Villa in Los Altos, about 15 minutes from our house. It’s a large property with a farm and hiking trails, and I thought it sounded like a good fit for a weekend outing. I was right!

When we looked into it further, we found they do farm tours on Saturdays so we signed up for one yesterday. Finn has a recent obsession with pigs (I think thanks to his reading Charlotte’s Web) and, of course, Ezra loves all animals, so off we went. They were in heaven.

First up, we walked through one of the chicken areas (Ezra was already trying to catch one) …

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… to get to the pigs. There were piglets!

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They seemed pretty big to me, until we saw the adults. They are enormous! This is the smallest of the three grown ups.

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Once we’d had enough of the pig pen, we moved on to the chickens.

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And then the goats, where Bruce relived his childhood.

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Finn wasn’t too sure about them, especially when they started jumping up to try to get the food.

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We also saw some cows.

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And sheep.

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At the end we visited their garden and had a little snack — rhubarb, dried persimmons and a few seeds — to try out some of the things they grow there. The guide said it’s their slow time and we should come back in the spring or summer.

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It’s a beautiful place; I hope we go back for another visit and a hike.

Ezra’s Buddy Assembly

It was Ezra’s turn for a buddy assembly last week; his fourth grade class and one of the second grade classes put on a play. The little kids dressed up and acted things out; the big kids narrated.

Unlike Finn, who practiced his songs and poems in front of us for several weeks and made sure we were both aware of the date of the assembly well in advance, Ezra hardly mentioned his until a day or two before it was happening. He even had one of the speaking parts, which I didn’t know until I watched it happen.

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The play was really cute and despite his reluctance to talk about it, I think he had a good time.

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As an aside, that’s his new friend Henry in the Rangers jersey. The last time I saw him he was wearing a Sharks t-shirt. Tough playoffs for him last year!

Parkour

At some point last year Ezra discovered parkour; I think it was through Minecraft. He started talking about it more and more, trying to explain it, and making up moves on the play structures at school. I would describe it as urban gymnastics, and if you search for it on YouTube you’ll find a bunch of videos that are pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, I’ve had some trouble finding a class for them to take. There’s a group that does free classes in parks for beginners each month and we did one of those a couple of months ago. The boys had a blast learning how to jump over fences and safely roll around. A couple of weekends ago we tried another class at a gym in San Jose. I thought there wasn’t enough instruction on how to do the moves correctly and I think parkour is really meant to be done outside, but the boys loved it. I didn’t take many pictures but I got a few of them doing wall jumps.

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We’re still on the lookout for a better class, but it was a fun morning!

Duck Decoy Hunting

It’s duck hunting season on the Bay and Bruce has become enamored of the abandoned duck decoys bobbing up and down in the water. He brought one home a few weeks ago, and one weekend, after seeing a few more that were too far out of reach, he decided he needed a hunting strategy. His idea: a lasso!

So, he pulled some rope out of the garage and looked up the lasso knot on the intergoogles and soon we were packed up and riding over to the Bay. Here’s the soon-to-be master on one of his first tries.

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(Can we just stop here and acknowledge what a ridiculously gorgeous day it was?!? It was windy and chilly for me, but absolutely beautiful!)

The rope wasn’t going as far as necessary, so he moved a little closer.

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He finally did manage to rope the duck … but unfortunately when he started to pull on it, he lost his balance in the muck and fell backwards into the cold and, dare I say, gross water. I was freezing just looking at him, but he persevered! After all, there was at least one other decoy out there! We rode a short way to the next location and, soaking wet, he managed to get another one. By a stroke of brilliant luck, I happened to be shooting video of it — the only video I took of all of his tries.

We stayed a little longer as the boys, Ezra in particular, was having fun breaking off the shore. Here’s a video (at his request), complete with a happy dance at the end.

And here’s a picture of the spoils.

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Finn’s Buddy Assembly

Finn’s second grade class and their “buddy” fifth grade class put on an assembly last month. It was math-themed and they sang a couple of songs and recited a few poems.

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Here’s one of the poems — “One Inch Tall” by Shel Silverstein.

Finn had a great time. Here’s a closeup of his little area of the stage.

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While we’re on the subject of Finn, he was Star Student in his class a week after the assembly and he made this poster, which I thought was super cute.

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Backyard Swinging

We added a feature to our backyard last month — a swing for the boys. And by “we” I mean Bruce did all the design and construction and the rest of us held things up while he assembled it. Here are some photos of the process.

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At first we set it up as a test in an easy spot, to see how it went together and how hard it would be to assemble it.

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It went pretty well. We took it back down and Bruce made some adjustments. When we installed it in the corner spot we’d picked out, it was tricky because of the bushes and trees. I don’t have many pictures because I was one of the lackeys holding up part of the structure. But I did manage to get one of the boys — they’re wearing their bike helmets for safety.

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Finally, it was done! Here’s a blurry picture of Finn trying it out.

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And a few days later I surreptitiously took this picture of Ezra after school enjoying a quiet moment.

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I sent it to Bruce so he would know all his hard work had paid off.

Bicycle Sunday

We’d heard about a great family biking opportunity just north of us called Bicycle Sunday. They close a portion of Canada Road to cars from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. It sounded perfect — safe, scenic and family friendly — so we drove north a bit and checked it out on January 4th. You can see from this picture that the enthusiasm level was high.

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Finn, very excited to ride his new bike, bounced back from the mini-nap and had a great time. However, we soon realized we had two problems: 1) Ezra didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to ride his bike, and had every intention of complaining the entire time, and 2) the road wasn’t actually closed to cars.

It was scenic though!

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And it wasn’t that crowded with cars, but it’s still nerve-wracking to ride on a big road like that with the kids. We rode along for about 3.5 miles and once we looped back, we figured out the reason for problem #2.

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Oops. It was January.

But Finn had a fabulous time on his sleek new bike!

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We’ll definitely try it again on another Sunday. Especially if we can find something else for Ezra to do instead. (In Ezra’s defense, he turned up sick the next day, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he probably wasn’t feeling up to par that day either.)