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.

Caples Lake Part II

Towards the end of winter break, Bruce took the boys back to Caples Lake for a few more days of snowy/icy fun. I stayed home where it was warm, so I don’t have a lot of details about the trip. But the pictures he took are stunning. I’ll post them here and perhaps when he has time he will edit this entry to add some specifics.

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More pictures here.

Christmas 2016

After traveling the last two Christmases, we decided to stay in Palo Alto this year. Now that we have room for guests, Jamma was able to stay with us for the holiday and fun ensued. The stockings were hung … as they say …

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The first thing on the agenda was to make a rhubarb pie with the rhubarb Rhonda had sent as a surprise for Jamma. It turned out pretty good!

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On our first night together, Jamma gave us three bags of Nicaraguan coffee (yum!) and three of her dad’s harmonicas which the boys loved.

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They are very cool. Here’s a closeup of one of them.

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After dinner we went to see the Fantasy of Lights in Los Gatos. It’s a huge park, all done up with different light displays. Here are a couple of examples.

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Finn wasn’t feeling very good, but Ezra had a good time, especially when he stood up through the sun roof.

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The next day we took Jamma for a tour of X. They had another fun winter display with the car in the lobby.

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After the tour we went to lunch at our favorite Mexican place in Redwood City.

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We had our annual building of the Trader Joe’s gingerbread house.

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This time, Ezra added some gory details of severed limbs (although, nice use of sprinkles, I’d say).

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And we watched Elf on the big screen.

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I’d gotten a puzzle for us to do in our down time. It started off fine, but ended up just being another thing for the cats to play with. Or lay on as the case may be.

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We had a lovely dinner for Christmas Eve …

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… and we were ready for the big day. I snapped a couple of pictures in the calm before the storm.

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It was a very Kings-y Christmas and the boys were pretty happy with their new hats, socks, and jerseys.

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They got lots of other stuff too. The cats were just happy that all the boxes that had been torturing them were now empty.

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On the day after Christmas, Ezra holed up in his room building his LEGO VW van.

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Later in the afternoon, we had visitors — Mike, Carla, Emily, Kendra, and Paige! Super fun to see everyone. I didn’t take very many pictures, but I snapped this one when Mike borrowed Paige’s reading glasses to see something on her phone. Wow, we are all getting old!

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The boys roped their cousins into playing a game of Exploding Kittens.

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And before they left I remembered to get a cousin shot.

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I also got one of Jamma and the boys.

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And that’s it for my pictures. That night I took Jamma over to Oakland so she could stay there overnight for her very early flight back to Belize. We had a great visit!

Christmas Light Ride

There are several local cycling groups that put on group bike rides, and one of them (San Jose Bike Party) does an annual Christmas Light Ride that is family friendly. So, on a very chilly Sunday evening in December, I coerced my family into doing it. Bruce outfitted our bikes with as many lights as we could find. Here we are just before the ride.

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Here are a few more shots before the ride started. It was, as everything in the Bay Area is, unbelievably crowded (fitting with our unofficial Moision Family Bay Area motto: It would be awesome if it weren’t so crowded). But so fun to see all the bikes lit up — some people went all out!

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I took a video during the ride to try to get a feel for the crowd and atmosphere.

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We didn’t end up staying for the whole ride because with that many people it was just a crawl and every time we had to stop at a stop sign or light it took forever. So, mixed results but I’m still glad we did it!

Birthday Weekend in Pasadena

It all started in October when Bruce and I were graciously invited to the Kings/Sharks season opener in San Jose. The Kings lost the game, our starting goalie was seriously injured, and after suffering through the Sharks skating through a giant shark mouth, I texted my friend Sherry to say how much I missed Kings games. Sherry texted back that I should come down for my birthday because there was a game that day. I laughed it off as impossible, but it stuck and lo and behold we made it happen!

So, on December 9th we left about mid-day to beat some of the traffic. We were a little nervous to leave the kittens at home for the first time, but they were in good hands with Detchemendy/Eide family taking care of them. Here’s Julia giving some love to Emmy.

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After finding and settling into our little Airbnb house in Pasadena, we went for dinner at Zankou.

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It was sooooo good.

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In the morning I got up for an early walk which was chilly but beautiful (and not as chilly as I’m used to now!).

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Then we had breakfast with Bob, Vanessa, Reba and Thomas at Du-pars. Great to see them and enjoy some yummy pancakes and french toast. I forgot to take pictures until the very end when Finn was, apparently, grumpy over some slight. It’s a terrible shot, but I’ll put it in anyway for posterity’s sake.

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Soon it was Kings game time. It was a 1:00 game and Sherry had a surprise for me, so we left Pasadena really early. The surprise was a picture with Luc Robitaille, my favorite King. (It was a season ticket holder event with the new 50th anniversary monument that had been rescheduled to the 10th because of rain. Good luck for me!)

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After the picture, we visited the team store (stocking stuffers for the boys) and had a drink before the game started. It was a great game — not too stressful and the Kings won 4-1.

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While I was at the game, Bruce and the boys met Rob and Chapin and went ice skating at the Pasadena Ice Rink. Chatty Finn even managed to get a reluctant Chapin to try skating, so success all around! After that Bruce took the boys to visit the Bates, where I met up with them after the game. We had a lovely visit with Colleen, Darryl, Emily, and of course, the boys’ favorite, Molly.

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From there we hustled up to to Altadena for the Christmas Tree Lane lighting ceremony. We’d missed the Pintos’ pre-party but saw some friends briefly. It was super crowded! But such a fun hometown event.

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We managed to catch up with the Bannings for a few minutes so I got a shot of the kids together.

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And, more importantly, we found Erin who was going to babysit the boys while we went out for a celebratory dinner with Cari and Rob.

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We finally settled on a restaurant (Little Beast in Eagle Rock) and I actually thought to have the hostess take our picture, which never happens. Actual documentation of an adult outing, yay!

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We had a lovely time, exactly what I was hoping for to celebrate our birthdays.

The next morning, Cari and I got to have a walk together — in person, not by phone! I was happy to get some extra Cari time, knowing she had a busy Sunday and I wouldn’t see her again. As an aside, we stumbled on not one but two Little Free Libraries on our walk! They were numbers 24482 and 30115.

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After that, we cleared our stuff out of the Airbnb and drove up to the Heffernans’ for breakfast. Jerri had to work that day so she invited us up for a visit before she had to leave. Here’s a shot of all the kids.

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Our last stop was a park play date to catch up with long-lost friends. So many Cottage, Aveson and neighborhood friends showed up! Bob, Vanessa and Thomas came too for some added family time. It was a lovely meet up for us. I was too busy visiting with everyone to take many pictures, but here are a few.

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After a late lunch at Ginger Corner Market across from the park, it was time for us to go home. I got one last picture from Christina of the kittens getting some love, so we knew they were doing well.

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Our drive was long as usual, but thankfully traffic was pretty light. We were all exhausted, but it was a perfect birthday weekend.

Duets

Finn and his piano teacher (Heidi Saario) spent the last lesson of 2016 doing Christmas duets. It was super cute and I recorded them all. Here’s Deck the Halls which was Finn’s favorite of the bunch.

Deck the Halls

There are five more (short) songs. You can see them all here.

Christmas Decorating 2016

We got an early start (for us) on Christmas decorating this year because we were going to be out of town on the weekend we would normally do it. Even then, it kind of happened by accident. We were putting up the library ornament on the first Sunday in December and wanted to put up house lights but we no longer had our old house lights. So, off to OSH we went. On our way out of the store, we decided to pick up a tree too. Bruce got the house lights up quickly and everything looked very festive!

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It was fun to get out all of our Christmas ornaments again since we didn’t decorate at all last year because we weren’t going to be home. Finn was sick but Ezra helped decorate the tree.

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We had a few ornaments that didn’t survive the move. One (Ezra’s snorkeler) just needed a repair. When we noticed it was broken, I told him to put it in the kitchen for Bruce to superglue it back together. This is what I found when I walked into the kitchen later.

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Even though the tree drove the cats crazy with curiosity, they loves sleeping under it.

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Once the tree was done, the boys worked on the train.

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Here’s a short video.

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We didn’t end up running the train much, unfortunately, because everyday the cats knocked it over. Also, they kept scooting the tree skirt around which blocked the tracks. Oh well, they only ended up breaking one ornament so I’m going to call that a win.

Vintage Christmas Party

December 3rd gave us not only Finn’s piano recital but also a Vintage Christmas Party put on by a couple of our favorite Fairmeadow moms. These are our hostesses, Karen and Christina, and as you can tell from their outfits and the decorations behind them, they went all out.

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Bruce and I got dressed up vintage style as well, although I just couldn’t manage the 50s-60s hair. But I did get a petticoat and I pulled out my mother’s pearls which were definitely from that era.

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Bruce decided to go with 50s NASA engineer. I tried to get him to shave off his facial hair (which I’m pretty sure was a no-no among that ilk at the time) but he wouldn’t do it. We did manage to make a pretty accurate recreation of the pocket contents and a NASA badge. He also had his calculator on his belt like a holster.

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Here are some more pictures from the evening. Super fun!

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Finn’s Second Piano Recital

Finn had his second piano recital last month. He played Green Tea and Jingle Bells. He looked pretty sharp in the outfit he picked out. He really wanted to wear the jacket.

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Here’s the video of his performance.

And here’s the whole group of students with their teacher, Heidi Saario.

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December Bike Ride

My bouts of vertigo this year have really kicked my butt and kept me from doing some of the things I love. I’ve missed a lot of the regular weekly hikes I used to go on, as well as the occasional bike rides with that group. So, the fact that I was feeling good and had no scheduling conflicts was very exciting when a ride came up on December 2nd. I rode 16.44 miles with two friends, Sonya and Leslie. Here we are at the half-way point.

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And here’s our route info.

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Hopefully 2017 will bring better health for me!