Caples Lake Fishing Trip

On the day after Thanksgiving, Bruce and the boys went with one of his colleagues, Andrei, to Caples Lake in the Sierra for a fishing trip. As the plan was for them to leave at 2:30 in the morning, spend the day in the freezing weather, and then drive back in the evening, I passed. I did have a twinge of jealousy when I saw the gorgeous photos Andrei’s wife took, but not enough to really make me regret my decision to stay warm and cozy at home. Here are some of those photos. The boys had a really good time.

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There are more pictures here.

They got home safe and sound, sans fish, but looking forward to going again!

Thanksgiving 2016

We spent Thanksgiving in our own home — the first holiday we’ve had at home since we moved. Now that we actually have a house we want to spend time in, it was a nice change to have a holiday there. It was, however, quite mellow as it was just the four of us. Everyone pitched in to prepare the feast.

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The kittens got a special treat — some turkey — which they loved.

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In the evening we walked down to the Detchemendy/Eides’ house for dessert and wine which definitely helped the day feel more festive. Alas, we were having such a nice time that I forgot to take any pictures.

FSOC Party 2016

After Baris’s departure from Bruce’s work group, he thought it would be a good idea to get the remaining team members together for an outside-of-work morale booster. Of course, between the time we set the date for the party (early November) and the actual party date (November 19th), the election happened. We were all pretty depressed, and work had continued in Baris’s absence well enough that we thought the party might not be such a good idea. However! We had the party anyway and we’re so glad we did! We had a great potluck with lots of wonderful food, a new cornhole tournament (with Devin defending his title much to Bruce’s chagrin), and a new game of LED bocce ball that Bruce made up.

I have no pictures from the actual event, which is actually a sign that it was a fun party. But here’s one of Ezra demonstrating the LED bocce game. It’s basically LED lights and batteries taped onto magnets and thrown at a board to see who could get closest to a target. It was fun!

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And here’s the cornhole tournament board showing Devin’s win.

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It was all in good fun, but I’m pretty sure Bruce will try to avenge his loss again next year. It’s also a good sign that many guests were already talking about upping their game, assuming there would be a rematch.

Cal Academy Field Trip

On November 15th I drove Ezra and four other boys to San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences. I don’t have very many pictures because I was mostly trying to make sure the boys did the worksheet they were supposed to do and that no one wandered off which was a real possibility with our group. We spent the first part of our visit in the earthquake area learning about tectonic plates and experiencing the quake room they have there. Here’s Ezra at a game about how the continents have moved around.

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We also spent some time in the room with the penguins. They were definitely a hit.

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We made a quick stop to see the albino alligator which was, thankfully, pretty far away.

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We visited a couple of other areas, and of course, the gift shop, and we had lunch there before heading back to school. The boys were all bummed that we were back in time for their last class.

Election Day 2016

We were very excited for this year’s election to finally happen. We’d decided to put our American flag on the Little Free Library for the day …

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… and I’d been holding onto a copy of the Constitution to put inside.

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I should’ve known this day was going to go horribly wrong when a grumpy woman who walks past me all the time without even so much as a nod took the Constitution before 7:00 am.

At any rate, we began the day with a lot of nervous enthusiasm. Our polling place was right across the street, so we had the boys go with us to turn in our absentee ballots before school started. We all got our I Voted stickers. Ezra put his on his wall; Finn proudly wore his to school.

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I decided to use some of my nervous energy on a bike ride and hike at the Stanford Dish Loop. It was a beautiful day.

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In the afternoon, I switched to my Pantsuit t-shirt …

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… and got ready for the election results to start rolling in. As it became more and more clear that the unthinkable was happening, our moods sunk into the abyss of realization that this is really our country now. I was so hoping that we could just put the whole Trump fiasco behind us, but alas, it will be years-long.

The next day the boys and I drowned our sorrows in ice cream.

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Nearly a month later, and we’re still trying to come to grips with this reality. I suspect it’ll take a very long time.

Alcatraz

We finally got our act together and booked a trip to Alcatraz on November 5th. I’d previously tried in the summer but tour space is limited and there was never any room. Even for the November date I had to book several weeks in advance. However, it was super interesting and I’m very glad we finally did it.

We took the ferry over and then got the audio tour, which we’d heard was really good. It did not disappoint! Here are some pictures of our visit.

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Dreary!

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This was the library.

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Kitchen, with knife diagrams so the guards could easily tell if one was missing.

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The buildings have not held up to the weather very well.

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The audio tour did a great job explaining the different escape attempts, and they’d recreated the cells of the prisoners who famously tried to escape — especially the ones they never found.

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Here’s a shot of the boys after we left the main prison building.

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And here is an outside shot looking back at San Francisco.

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After the tour we walked around for a little bit, but everyone was getting pretty hungry by that time. We took the next ferry back to the city and had lunch there. Here’s a shot from the ferry. The skies were finally clearing.

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And here’s a shot looking back at Alcatraz.

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I don’t think it’s something I need to do more than once, but I’m really happy we went!

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Filoli Field Trip

On November 3rd I drove and chaperoned Finn and a few classmates to Filoli for a docent-led hike. Filoli has a 16-acre formal garden and a mansion, but we weren’t there for those things. We were there to hike in their nature preserve, which has a couple of good examples of ground shifts due to earthquakes, a focus of the fourth grade curriculum. We did walk through a part of the formal garden on our way out to the nature preserve; here’s my one photo. Very manicured (and a little fussy for my taste).

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Here’s our group and our docent, who pretty quickly lost patience with our talkative bunch.

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Here are a few more shots.

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We stopped in this spot by the little bridge because it’s right on the San Andreas Fault. The ground has shifted quite a bit there are two plates (the American and the Pacific) which move in opposite directions.

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We saw examples of this on another field trip when Ezra was in fourth grade, but I thought it was much more visible here.

I didn’t take very many pictures but it was a gorgeous day. Here’s one last shot from when we were walking back towards the cars.

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Finn’s California Passport Project

This year, it’s Finn’s turn to do the fourth grade California Passport project. He chose to do it on Jamma, which meant he could do most of it on his own. He took great initiative contacting her with questions and putting it all together. I helped with photos and proofreading, and Bruce helped with the visual aids for his class presentation. Here’s a slideshow of the passport booklet.

And here he is meeting with the “governor of California” (his wonderful teacher, Mrs. Johnson) before his presentation.

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Here’s the video of his speech.

And the speech written out.

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Lastly, here’s his grade report. Well done, Finn!

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Halloween 2016

In September Bruce started brainstorming ideas for Halloween costumes. Ezra wanted to be the Enderman again, so that was easy enough, although of course there would be some modifications. Finn, on the other hand, wasn’t sure what he wanted to be. The initial two ideas were a hockey player and a vending machine. Somewhere along the line, the vending machine idea was nixed for both level of difficulty and prohibitory weight. However, the basic idea of a box morphed into a refrigerator, which proved to be the winner.

The fridge was constructed with styrofoam and covered in aluminum foil (because of course it has to be a stainless steel fridge!).

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We needed food for inside the fridge, which turned into a whole-family affair.

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Finishing touches included a handle, a name plate, and a family calendar. Here’s Finn showing off his costume at X’s Halloween affair.

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Before Halloween, we also added lights that were triggered when the door opened.

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We had a nice group for trick-or-treating with Finn’s friend Satvik and his sister Namisha, as well as Ezra’s friend Henry. Here’s the group before we left (including Henry’s dad in the hotdog costume).

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Ezra’s costume modifications were new lights around the eyes, so they were finally visible on Halloween.

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It really did look cool!

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And here are this year’s jack-o-lanterns. Ezra’s (second from left) had a glow-in-the-dark part that didn’t show up in the photo. It also ended up not working very well in general so Bruce helped him re-carve it, but I never got another photo.

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All in all, a successful Halloween!

October Surprise

October was marred by the surprise Loon resignation of our friend Baris. While we weren’t happy about the news, we’ve settled into acceptance and, in usual Bruce fashion, he provided an excellent send-off. The group asked him to make a balloon “card” so out came the papier-mâché once again. Unfortunately I fell down on the picture-taking job, but here’s the one photo I have after the group had signed the balloon.

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What you can’t see is the underside where there’s a cutout with plexiglass showing that the balloon is filled with the colorful origami cranes from the original Loon piñata Bruce made. It really turned out to be quite nice.

The presentation on Baris’s last day, however, was appropriately dark …

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Here’s a closeup showing the dead roses, baked in our oven to perfect crispness.

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No sense hiding one’s feelings.

Ezra’s First Dance

On October 21st, Ezra went to his first middle school dance. I have to say I was so proud of him because he went despite the fact that neither of his two good friends were going. I don’t think I would have done that at his age.

I tried to take a picture of him getting ready, but literally got the door slammed in my face.

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Luckily I’d snapped this one before he knew I was there.

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When I dropped him off, I took another one.

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And then he was off! When I picked him up he gave me a brief report: he met up with a friend and they ate their weight in junk food. I didn’t hear anything about any dancing, but it sure seemed like he had a good time.

Fall Walk & Roll Day 2016

Last month’s Walk & Roll Day was the first one I’d done since becoming the only Safe Routes to School rep at Fairmeadow (instead of one of three reps). I wanted to do a bang-up job of getting the word out, so I made new posters and Bruce helped me hang them by the car line.

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I also posted flyers all over school, sent home a small flyer in the Friday folders, and put the announcement in the weekly newsletter. OK, maybe overkill.

The Friday before the event, there was an all-school assembly. When Finn and I arrived at school, the Principal asked him if he would participate in the assembly to talk about Walk & Roll Day. He was game, and I have to say he did a great job, especially considering he didn’t know about it until just before it happened! Here’s a still shot of him talking with Principal Althouse.

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And of course I recorded his whole part. He said he was super nervous, but I don’t think it shows.

As for Walk & Roll Day itself, it was a great success. I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it because I’d been fighting a bout of vertigo for two days beforehand. I had made arrangements for stand-ins just in case, but luckily with a lot of help from Bruce that morning, I was able to do my job that day. I only have a few pictures because I was super busy greeting students and handing out raffle tickets. Here’s one of Finn, who was manning one of the entrances.

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And here’s our main entrance before the main crush of students arrived.

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We had a ton of participation in active transportation that day and almost no solo car trips, as evidenced by our sticker charts.

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Our normally busy car line was almost empty. I’ll take that as a success!

Bike Palo Alto 2016

One of my favorite events of the year was a little rushed this time since we had hockey skating lessons beforehand. Our late arrival cut short our biking time, but we still had a good time. We met up with a couple of families from school and headed out on our route — the same as the first year because the boys were choosing and this one stops at the Sweet Shop.

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All of my pictures are from this stop, in fact. We all enjoyed our free frozen yogurt and the boys had some time to be silly. Here’s Finn and Eli.

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And here’s the whole group of crazy boys.

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From the Sweet Shop we made it over to Bol Park where the kids played for a while before we headed home. Even a shortened Bike Palo Alto is a good event. And we got free blinky bike lights this year!

Hockey (Gear)!

The boys are in their second term of hockey skating lessons and we finally broke down and bought them equipment. They don’t even need it — these are hockey skating lessons only, no sticks or pucks — but almost all of the other kids have the gear so we decided to join the ranks. They seem to love the skating and are anxious to work their way into “rookie camp” so it seemed like a safe, albeit expensive, thing to do. Of course, secretly (or not so secretly) I love that they are playing and I love seeing them in that gear! Here are a few pictures from their first day on the ice.

Henry, who’s an old pro, helped Finn with his helmet.

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And here are the three of them before the lesson started.

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I only got a couple of shots of them on the ice.

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After the lesson that day, we rode several miles in our third Bike Palo Alto event, and then when we got home Finn immediately wanted to put his gear on again. He was pretty pooped though …

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September 2016 Wrap-Up

I’ve got a bunch of random photos that don’t warrant a whole post, so I’ll put them together here. First, lots of boys and cats.

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And some cats in funny positions.

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Ezra got baskets for his bike, so now he looks like a real bike commuter on his way to school (with his ridiculously heavy binder).

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And last, but not least, we had a gross bug problem in the library. Honestly, I think someone brought some very old books that were infested with the bugs. I solved the problem by taking everything out, cleaning it thoroughly, and leaving it empty for a few days. I made a sign to explain so people didn’t put books in while I was letting it air out. Seems to have worked since we haven’t had another infestation.

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