Christmas 2018

We got started on Christmas pretty early (for us) this year. On December 8th, we had a tree, complete with the train.

And the boys had built the annual gingerbread house already. (They ate it all the next day.)

The ornament was up on the library on the 10th. (The house lights have been up since 2016 so that was easy enough.)

Ezra made another gingerbread house (well, graham cracker house) in his cooking class, and that came home on the 20th. They actually managed to wait on eating it until Christmas Eve which was pretty impressive.

For the cats, all the hullaballoo is fine so long as there are some empty boxes to hide in.

We missed having Janice with us for Christmas this year, but things just didn’t work out. We’d planned to go visit her after Christmas but the tickets were just so expensive that we didn’t make it. We did have a little bit of her with us though — she sent the annual set of ornaments for us all.

Christmas Eve was just the four of us, but we went all out with the table — candles, the special Christmas dishes that were my mom’s, and the good crystal. We had a lovely dinner.

The boys woke us up at 5:30 (!) on Christmas Day. My pictures are not very good because it was still so dark even with the lights on, but here are a few.

Bob, Vanessa, Thomas and Reba joined us for brunch, presents, games, and a walk by the Bay. I only took a couple of (not very good) photos.

It was perfect weather, sunny and brisk.

In the few days following Christmas, Ezra and Bruce put together his new gaming computer and Finn figured out how not to fall off his new electric skateboard.

I still need to get some photos of Finn on the skateboard! He’s practicing a lot so that I’ll let him ride it to school. Oy, how did I lose that battle?

King Tide Walk

On December 23rd, Bruce and I did a King Tide Walk put on by a local nature center. It was a little low information, unfortunately, but we did have a lovely bike ride there and back. And the weather was perfect. I got a few nice shots of the bay.

The trail was flooded in a couple of spots … due to the King Tide.

3 on 3 Christmas Tournament

Finn and four of his Black Starts teammates played in a just-for-fun 3 on 3 tournament on December 20th in San Jose. Their team was The Angry Elves, and one of the dads got elf hats for them and made “uniforms” out of t-shirts. They played three half-hour, cross-ice games and were thoroughly exhausted afterwards. It was a cute group of kids and the parents are all nice so it was a great evening.

Here they are in between the first and second game. From left to right, Robert, Finn, Mikala, Bubba, and Jack. (The moms of the two boys on the end were much more on it with the hats and stuffed them to make them stay up.)

Mikala’s mom bought them a pizza after the last game, which they inhaled.

It was a nice send off for the Christmas break before games and practices start up again after the first of the year.

Ezra’s First Focaccia

Ezra continued on his bread-making roll and made a focaccia on December 16th. It’s a long process because of the starter that needs to be done the day before and then all of the folding that takes about 7 hours. It came out pretty good but stuck to the pan a bit and Bruce had a grand time trying to pry it free. Nevertheless, it was quickly gobbled up!

Christy’s 50th Birthday

Turning 50 was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, of course, better to turn 50 than not (!) and all the usual keeping-things-in-perspective stuff. On the other hand, 50 sounds really old! I don’t feel 50. Turning 40 didn’t bother me, but 50 did. But, time rolls on.

I did have a great day. I got a new bike which I’m very excited about.

Bruce and Finn picked out flowers and a cake. Emmy and Sophie love having fresh flowers in the house.

And the four of us had a lovely dinner at Sundance (a local steakhouse we’ve been wanting to try). We all ate so much there that we didn’t get to the birthday cake Finn had picked out for two days! So, the celebration continued.

Thanksgiving 2018

For Thanksgiving this year, we were juggling a hockey tournament and dinner. Finn only had one game on Thursday and it was actually at a pretty good time (11:00 am), so I was able to get a morning walk in before the craziness started. We’d had rainy weather, which thankfully cleared out the smoke, and there were spectacular rainbows for quite a bit of my walk.

Everyone was cooking something for dinner so we had some scheduling to do.

I took Finn to the game alone so that Bruce and Ezra could stay home to cook. When we got home, Finn worked on his twice baked potatoes. Cooking class at school finally got him to wear a ponytail in the kitchen.

Ezra’s contribution was buttermilk biscuits, which are another bread in the ROPE project he’s doing. And, luckily, his mentor was with us for Thanksgiving so he got some hands on instruction.

It was a busy kitchen, as usual!

I really need to do a better job of insisting on family photos. This is all I managed and obviously not everyone is in it.

I’ll try to do better next year!

Hockey in Tahoe

In mid-November we briefly escaped the terrible air quality in the Bay Area for a previously scheduled set of games in Tahoe. The Camp Fire in Paradise was still raging, and the death and devastation was profound, so we really have no room to complain about air quality. However, it was awful. We’d been limiting our time outside to our commutes and wearing masks whenever we were out.

On the drive to Tahoe we went through areas that were so much worse than ours — Sacramento, Davis, and Vacaville were particularly bad. But Tahoe was clean and cool. And very blue.

Finn’s team tied the Saturday game and won the Sunday game. It wasn’t very conducive to picture taking but here’s one of Finn. He was trying to keep himself in the game because his team was mostly playing at the other end (generally not a bad thing!).

We reluctantly came home into the smokiness on Sunday. Here’s a shot from our drive home. The fire engines from several south bay cities on their way home are in the distance.

October 2018 Miscellaneous

A few random shots from October. First, Ezra and some of his friends had a ramen party after school one day. The host mom sent me a photo.

We got the cats a new seat — a “cat crib” that attaches to the dining room chair. We were happy to see that they actually like it.

While Bruce and Finn were in Las Vegas, Ezra made breakfast for the two of us — french toast rollups that he learned in cooking class and bacon. It was lovely and delicious!

Another mom from Finn’s team happened to be videoing at a game and caught a great save by Finn.

And, newsflash: Ezra loves his kitties.

Halloween 2018

As I mentioned before, September and October were super busy for me. Unfortunately, that translates into zero photos of the Halloween costume making process this year. But the boys did end up with super cool costumes. Ezra was a “Prawn Suit” from the game Subnautica, and Finn was a vending machine. My only real contribution to them was to get snacks for Finn’s vending machine. He wore it to school and made $7! Here are some photos.

They both trick-or-treated with friends this year all by themselves. It was strange to be home, giving out candy while they were both out but nice that they are so independent.

Fall Vegas Tournament

In October Bruce and Finn headed to Vegas for the annual tournament there. Since I’d taken Finn there in the spring, it seemed only fair that Bruce handle this one. (While I love to watch Finn play, the whole Las Vegas thing is a bit much for me and I was happy to escape the madness this time.)

I don’t recall any scores but I’m pretty sure his team lost all their games. As it turns out, his club had signed them up (again) for a tournament above their level. I’m not sure why they keep doing this but it’s frustrating. The BB tournament was the next weekend; I’m not sure why we went to the A one.

At any rate, the photographers there captured some great shots, a few of which I’ll put here.

And my favorite:

Ezra’s Banana Bread

Ezra’s in a different program at school this year called Connections. It has a more hands-on, project based learning philosophy and there is an 8th grade project called ROPE (Right of Passage Experience). Students are meant to choose something to learn about, find a mentor, and then present at the end of the year on all that they learned. Ezra decided to do bread baking and asked his Uncle Bob to be his mentor. His first item to bake was banana bread, and he made his first loaf on October 14th.

It turned out pretty tasty!

He is going to have to learn a little more about cleanup though …

He’ll continue to make some additional quick breads and then move to yeast breads. He’s looking forward to cinnamon rolls which I think are the last item on the list.

September 2018 Miscellaneous

Most of September was a blur for me. The LCI seminar took up a lot of time for prep and then the actual weekend itself. Also, I’d been working on the third grade bike rodeos which are throughout September and October. I was working very long hours, so not much else happened besides that and shuttling Finn to hockey practice.

Finn was very excited on September 20th when his jerseys came in. Games were about to start so it was good timing!

My other main activity during the past few months was Bike Palo Alto. I joined the steering committee and put in quite a bit of time working on publicity and other things. It was a great event. I worked at the Safe Routes to School table that day and talked to quite a few participants who wanted information about biking to school. Here’s some of the team that helped with the event.

Christy’s LCI Seminar

In mid-September I took an LCI seminar to become a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor. It’s a lot of work and time — two full weekend days plus several hours on Friday afternoon/evening. Each participant is assigned two topics to teach — one solo and one in a group. Luckily I’d prepared curriculum for students before so I had some experience. However, my solo topic was drivetrain maintenance (!) which is not something I’m an expert in. It all went pretty well though and was really interesting. We had a really supportive group of participants and a chill lead instructor. And my neighbor and friend, Maria, was also in the seminar so that helped. Here’s a picture of the two of us the day we accidentally wore matching shirts.

I have a few pictures from the on-bike portion of the training, where each of us took turns leading a ride as if we were teaching a group of students.

Here’s our whole group including the instructors and newly-minted LCIs.

Bruce’s Birthday

After last year’s birthday that Bruce spent in the hospital, I was keenly aware of how lucky were are to celebrate this year. We celebrated early and late and I thought it was a pretty good day! First, breakfast cake and presents.

In the evening we went out for a fancy-ish dinner at Los Altos Grill. I don’t know about Bruce, but I had a super nice time. The boys were great — funny, personable, well behaved. We must be hitting that sweet spot between little kid and sullen teenager where they’re just a joy to be around. I took a few pictures but they’re all terrible because the light was so low. I’ll share one blurry one because it’s the birthday boy blowing out his second candle of the day.

Great day! Happy 49th to Bruce!

Cat Town Oakland

On August 19th we went across the bay to visit Vanessa, Thomas and Reba in their new digs in Piedmont. After a visit at their house, we went to Cat Town in Oakland since all of us are cat lovers. Ezra, the cat whisperer, had the most success interacting with the cats.

Also cat related, earlier in the month, Bruce had installed the swinging backyard chair we’d gotten for Ezra and I snapped this photo of him and Emmy.