Ezra’s Egyptian Chariot Project

Last month, Ezra and his classmates completed their unit on Egypt, which culminated in an evening where the kids presented their projects to all the parents. Ezra had been determined from the start to build a full-size chariot. Luckily Bruce was available to facilitate the process because I wouldn’t have known where to start. He had two classmates who were supposed to be helping, but they each only showed up for one day, so it was really Ezra’s thing. Here are some photos of the building process. As usual, he had a very clear vision that needed to be brought to reality.

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He was pretty happy with how it turned out.

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Here’s the debut ride.

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They also made headgear. Ezra wanted to pose with Emmy for the picture.

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And here’s a shot of everything together once we got it to school.

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On the night of the presentations, he and his teammates gave rides to other classmates. It was a big hit. I’m not sure how much he learned about Egypt in this process, but his enthusiasm was nice to see!

Finn’s Mission Project and Fiesta Day

After weeks of research, writing, and creativity, Finn turned in his mission project on February 9th. He was very proud of his storyboard, which was the required part …

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… and his model, which was the optional part.

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He was also excited about Fiesta Day and his new sombrero which he wore all the time.

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Sophie liked it too.

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We are very proud of Finn for doing such a great job on his project!

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Fiesta Day was Friday the 10th and the kids learned a dance and got dressed up to perform.

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Here’s video.

Here’s a post-dance picture of the whole class.

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I left after the dance, but they also had a taco feast, so all in all a great end to the week for Finn!

Mission San Miguel

Finn was assigned Mission San Miguel for his project, so on February 4th we made the 2+ hour trip south to pay it a visit. I was hoping to make it into an overnight adventure, but we just couldn’t make it happen. It turned out to be fine as a day trip, and on the way back we stopped at Mission San Juan Bautista so Bruce could see it. Here’s Finn just after we arrived — he was super happy.

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There was a wedding about to happen inside the church so we spent some time outside first.

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Here’s the bell tower.

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On the side of the church was a small cemetery. This was the entrance.

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Inside the side yard …

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They had a small museum and store, which we saw next. Finn liked this cannon outside of the store.

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After we saw the grounds and the museum, we went inside the church. (The person at the store told us it was OK, that people who get married there understand there will be tourists visiting.) I snapped a couple of pictures.

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After the tour we had lunch at a local diner, which was surprisingly good, and then we hit the road. The stop at San Juan Bautista was fairly brief but Finn was excited to show Papa all the things he saw on his field trip. Here are the three of them standing on the original El Camino Real.

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At the historic park, they were doing a monthly reenactment and we ran into a couple old-timers at the end of their day. They were very nice and had the boys stand in one of the vats for a photo … which was a little weird.

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Finn took a bunch of pictures that day too, which are in a separate album here.

Alex’s Memorial

In November, my sweet cousin Alex passed away after a lifelong battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and various other illnesses. His life was a lesson in perseverance. In addition to adversity the likes of which I can only imagine, there was adventure, poetry, and most of all, love. His parents’ and siblings’ dedication to him and his care and well-being are the most beautiful illustration of family I’ve ever seen.

His memorial service was planned for the end of January in Orange County, so I flew down for the weekend. Luckily, Cari was available so we spent the time together before the memorial on Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect (and a welcome respite from all the NorCal rain). Cari and I went on a couple of walks and spent as much time outside on the deck as possible. Here are a few pictures.

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I don’t have any pictures from the memorial service because I was too busy catching up with family and friends. It was a lovely time and I’m glad I got to go.

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Mission San Juan Bautista

Finn’s class began studying the California Missions before winter break, and on January 24th we visited Mission San Juan Bautista. I didn’t go on this field trip with Ezra, so this was my first visit. In addition to the Mission itself, the surrounding area is a State Historic Park with many buildings from the 1800s. The kids were split into groups and allowed to explore the Mission and the Historic Park in whatever order they liked. We started at the Park and saw the Plaza Hotel, the Zanetta House/Plaza Hall, the Plaza Stables, and the Castro-Breen Adobe.

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Here’s our group outside the jail.

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After our lunch break we toured the Mission and its grounds.

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There is also a small chapel apart from the main Mission, which I thought was lovely.

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There was a little bit of time for running around too.

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Here’s a shot of the outside of the Mission.

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And one of the whole class.

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Women’s March San Francisco

On January 21st we joined hundreds of thousands of people all over the world for our first ever march. We were, as usual, a little disorganized that day having booked tickets for The Physics Show for 10:00 am. Luckily, the San Francisco march was in the afternoon and evening, so we could make both events. We enjoyed The Physics Show and then got to work on our march signs when we got home. As always, all credit goes to Bruce.

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Ezra came up with his design on his own, although Bruce and I helped him with execution.

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We had a grand plan to drive to the nearest BART station and take the train into the city (which is often how we get there because even on a normal day no one wants to drive in San Francisco). Of course, many, many people also had that plan. It took us over an hour just to get on the train but the atmosphere among all those waiting people was wonderful. Here’s a picture of the boys in the train station.

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It was a lot of waiting and eventually they did get a little bored.

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But people loved Ezra’s sign so the positive feedback was buoying for them. When we finally boarded a very crowded train and made it to our stop, it was raining and super crowded. But again, to a person everyone was polite, happy to be there, and well-behaved. Here are a few shots from the actual march.

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I took a short video to try to capture the scale of it.

All in all, this was an overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive day. Before we went to our march, we saw so many photos from friends participating in different cities — it was heartwarming and unifying. To know that so many of us were saying, “No, this isn’t OK and we’re going to fight for what we feel is right” was exactly what we needed. I’m proud our family was a part of it.

Fairmeadow Ice Skating Party

Fairmeadow’s annual ice skating party at Winter Lodge happened on January 18th. Bruce took the boys while I went to Ezra’s school to learn about what to expect in 7th grade. I’m not sure which one of us got the better deal.

I don’t think Bruce took any pictures, but my friend Christina sent me these two which are pretty cute.

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The boys were certainly happy to have upped their ice skating game since last year!

Barn Trail Hike

I read about this Pix in Parks promotion that Santa Clara County Parks does, where they pick seven hikes to encourage people to get out and explore. Most of the hikes seem well within our ability, so I thought we should give it a shot. To that end, our first hike was the Barn Trail hike January 14th. It had been raining a lot so there was quite a bit of mud, but that also meant flowing streams. It was absolutely beautiful and I got lots of great shots, but this is by far my favorite.

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Here are the boys starting a leaf race in a stream. I don’t know who won, but as always, there was cheating.

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Here’s a shot from right before we realized we’d missed a turn and gone too far. The boys were none too happy that they’d climbed this hill for nothing.

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So, we turned back around and, as it was starting to get quite chilly as the sun went down, we hightailed it out. We did stop briefly to say hi to these cows.

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Like I said earlier, it was pretty muddy.

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Finally, we made it to the spot where we were supposed to take our picture for the #pixinparks program.

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By the time we got back, we were all pretty cold — especially Finn who didn’t even have a sweatshirt — but happy to have completed the first hike of the challenge. The rest of my pictures are here.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum Field Trip

Ezra’s class spent the second day back to school after winter break at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. They were just beginning their unit on Egypt (which, as you’ll see in future posts, proved to be quite successful!) and they seemed to be pretty interested in the Egyptian artifacts on display. Personally, I liked this mummy. Creepy cool!

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They had a replica of a tomb which was pretty interesting, and our guide for the day was funny and kept the kids interested which is always appreciated.

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I didn’t take very many pictures, but there are a few more here.