We started off Spring Break with a bang — a trip to the dentist first thing Monday morning. During our wait time, the boys checked out all the dinosaurs, including the old typewriter, which is always a hit with them.

E at the dentist's typewriter

I took a couple of photos of them in the chairs. They always look so small to me in these situations.

F at the dentist

E at the dentist

Good report — no cavities, Finn’s got two loose teeth (his first!) and Ezra’s grownup teeth are coming in nicely. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could avoid braces!


We had the Moision side of the family (plus Jamma) up for a little get together on Saturday and decided to take a picture of all seven cousins. As Jerri said when she saw the picture I posted on Facebook, “That’s a lot of boys.” Yes, yes it is.

They are not easy to wrangle, although they were all pretty cooperative. Here’s Ezra directing traffic to get everyone on the right stair.

Ezra directs the photo shoot

Pretty good! (Although, no one is actually smiling or looking too happy about the situation.)


Here’s a pretty good close up.


It broke down pretty quickly.

And he's off

I think this one is my favorite.


Tootho and the Worm Dragon

Last Thursday Ezra lost another tooth. It happened while he was at his friend Jack’s house after school, and he brought it home in a plastic baggie. Then we got busy hustling and bustling through dinner and bed time and totally forgot about putting it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy. I thought he might be upset in the morning, but he wasn’t at all. He just wrote the Tooth Fairy a letter and made sure it got under his pillow Friday night.

E's letter, page 1

E's letter, page 2

Transcription: ¬†Tooth Fary, tell Tootho to look at the Ultra Dragon! It is lokated in the dining room. P.S. It was funny when Tootho left tracks in my room. P.S. 2 I’ve heard that you are friends with the Candy Fary.

So, of course, despite being tired and sick, Bruce (the creative genius in our family) got working on a letter back.

Letter from Tooth Fairy, page 1

Letter from Tooth Fairy, page 2

Now is the point where I would put a picture of the Ultra Dragon after Tootho broke off some and then tried to fix it with tape, but I can’t. Ezra read that part of the letter in the morning and ran down to fix it before I was even awake. Then he came upstairs again, laughing, and woke me, saying, “Mommy, you should have seen what Tootho did!”

Needless to say, Ezra (and Finn) loved the drawings of Tootho’s Worm Dragon. Here’s the one the Tooth Fairy drew on the chalkboard in the kitchen.

Worm Dragon

And here’s my boy showing off his letter.

Ezra and his letter

As a side note, Ezra told Bruce that he didn’t think Tootho actually signed his name because the “h” was going the right direction. He remembered from Tootho’s previous correspondence that the “h” was backwards. Bruce, thinking quickly on his feet, said Tootho must have learned how to write it correctly. Pretty good for pre-7:00 a.m.!

Aveson Performance 2013

Our kids put on a Spring performance again this year; this time the theme was “Imagine.” They practiced for weeks and both boys reported enjoying the process and the performance. I have some photos but most of them aren’t great due to the low light and how far away I was standing. But I tried.

I did get a couple of cute ones of Finn in the classroom before the first performance. It was their last rehearsal.

Before the performance

Before the performance

The Kindergarteners had painted their own rainbow shirts on the Monday before the show. Here’s a picture of Finn painting his.

Finn painting his rainbow shirt

And here’s Finn and his friend Silvia making an attempt to quiet their class before the show. (Thanks to Silvia’s mom, Stephanie, for this one!)

Finn and Silvia quieting their class

Here’s Finn’s class up on stage. They did three songs — “I’m Alive,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Walking on Sunshine.”

Finn's class

Finn is somewhere in the back. I got this one of them walking off stage when I could finally see him.

Finn's class

I also shot a short video of the third song they did.

Ezra’s class performed “Turn the World Around.”

Ezra's class

The boys started on the floor, and then got up and danced toward the end of the song. It’s not the clearest picture, but I’m putting this up to show that he was dancing!

Ezra's class

And here’s video of Ezra’s class. This was the third and final performance and I was standing on the wrong side of the auditorium to get a good shot of Ezra, which is a bummer.

Clubhouse Construction, Part 1

Bruce and I have been talking about building the boys a playhouse, no wait, mustn’t call it that … a clubhouse for a while now. Originally it was going to go under one of our big oaks, but it wouldn’t go in until we’d taken down the wall and built the new fence. But thanks to the City permitting issues and general busy-ness, we haven’t built the new fence or taken down the wall so clubhouse construction has been on hold. A few months ago, we started talking about changing the location of the clubhouse, in part based on the fact that the boys constantly play in this one corner of the yard that seems, well, perfect for a clubhouse.

Bruce started checking out books on clubhouse design from the library and drew up a tentative plan so I could see it.


Last weekend, actual construction started. Here’s the footprint.

The footprint

The boys were pretty helpful that day — hauling gravel over to the site …

Moving the gravel

… and pounding in stakes.

Ezra pounds in a stake

Pretty soon, the first post was up.

First post up!

They kept working the next day.

Leveling the post

Making concrete

Smoothing the concrete

Moving the wheelbarrow

Cleaning out the concrete

Of course, they took a few breaks for play time. Here they are, goggles on, breaking concrete pieces and building their own little Stonehenge.


Building Stonehenge

As an aside, I also have to share the outfits they changed into later when they realized it was St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick's Day outfits

At some point Rob came over to collect some of his tools he’d left after woodworking class. Bruce put him to work as a consultant on the job.

Rob consults

It was not all work and no play; there was plenty of goofing off going on.

Goofing off on saw horses

Goofball Finn

But at the end of the first weekend, we had the skeleton done.

End of first weekend

This weekend we were busy with a family party and a tree planting session at Aveson, so not as much work got done. But Bruce did manage to get a few hours in and here’s where we are now.

End of second weekend

New Trees

We finally got around to replacing a couple of our more useless trees — a dead lemon and an ornamental plum (I mean, seriously, what good is that?). We replaced them with a not-dead lemon and a fruiting plum.



We also added an avocado.


It’s been about a week since they went in and they look to be adjusting fine. We’re looking forward to the fruits of our labor!

Woodworking Starts Anew

I’m totally behind on my blog and out of chronological order here, but I’m going to do some catch up in the days ahead. First up, woodworking class which started again this month after a hiatus for the winter months where we don’t have enough daylight and people are generally too busy. Even this class was a little low on light but part of that was due to bad weather. When off-and-on rain was predicted for the day of class, Bruce decided to set up a tarp off the garage rather than cancel the class. It was a little crowded but it worked! Here’s the beginning of class with Bruce’s explanation of the project — making a T-Rex.

Bruce explains the T Rex project

I couldn’t get the whole sign in the shot and didn’t even see the best part until the next day when the kids were playing with the sign.

End of sign

This project entailed a lot of sawing. I mean a lot.

Getting started

Busy garage

Finn and Kai

Olivia saws

There was some drilling, too.

Caleb and Rob

Ezra chose not to participate in this project. I think the crowded garage was just too noisy for him. He went on a bike ride instead.

There goes Ezra

Actually, Finn didn’t make a T-Rex either, come to think of it. Hopefully they’ll participate in future classes.

What they did enjoy was the dinner afterwards, which was moved inside because it was cold and drizzling outside. Ezra and Bruce built a fire and these crazy kids (the Moision and Detterich boys and Ruby, who always jumps right in) played a game of going outside to get cold and running inside to warm up by the fire. Pretty soon, they were all in their underwear and covered in wet grass from rolling around on the lawn.

Crazy underwear boys

I guess you can take the kid out of Cottage but you can’t take Cottage out of the kid!

Pi Day

Thursday, March 14th was Pi Day, an unofficial holiday. Finn discovered that there was no graphic for Pi Day in our calendar, so he made one.

Pi Day

Here’s a closeup. Pretty good Pi symbols, if you ask me!

Pi Day

After much deliberation, I also decided to make a pie. The deciding factor was that Bruce was bringing home a colleague from work — a student who is here from Sweden working with Bruce for two months. So, you know, I guess we need dessert. My pastry skills are lacking since I usually pawn off crust-making to Bruce on the rare occasion that we make a pie. But as no one else was home, it was all up to me. It was comical, I have to say, watching that pie crust slide right off the rolling pin before I had a chance to center it over the pie plate. But pieced-together crust tastes as good as perfect-looking crust, and it was a good pie. A little wonky-looking, but delicious.

Pi Day

Hike to Echo Mountain

Last Friday those of us in Pasadena woke up to this gorgeous view of snow low on our mountains. (This is the view from my balcony.)

View from balcony

When it looked like there was a break in the storm, Cari and I decided to hike up the mountain. We’d gone about 45 minutes up a couple of times before, but we wanted to get to the top this time. The snow was a big incentive.

It was a gorgeous day for a hike and the views were spectacular.

Beautiful day


At one point we stopped to take a look and realized there was a huge storm cloud coming. It’s hard to really get the scale of it all, but I tried with the panorama function on my iPhone.

Panorama of weather

But we were on a quest and weren’t stopping until we got to the top. We got pummeled with some hail — luckily it was tiny pieces. And then the hail turned to snow flakes. For this California kid, it was awesome.

Finally, after about an hour and forty-five minutes, we made it to the top.

We made it!

It’s pretty cool up there. There are remnants of old structures and the railroad that was there. Very fun to see bits and pieces of the history.

The snow was still too far away for us to walk around in, but it was great to be up so high. And again, the views were fantastic.

Snow still too far away

View from the top clearing up

We had a lovely walk down the mountain in perfect sunny and cool weather with no more rain or hail.

I have a few more pictures here.


The boys picked out matching outfits for school today. They are allowed to wear green, orange and purple to school. Today, well, all three together.



Rockin’ the camo shorts with the tie-dye shirts. Cuz that’s how they roll.

Finn’s First Recorder Recital

Finn started recorder lessons at the beginning of January and Sunday afternoon he had his first recital. I nearly died from the cuteness of him getting all dressed up. We had searched for shoes the day before and he was very patient in finding the ones that were just right. Then we picked out a new shirt with a tie. He got some help getting dressed from Bruce.

A little help from Papa

New dress shoes

Here he is just before we headed out.

Ready to head out

After about a half-hour of waiting patiently, it was his turn. He went on with his teacher, Melissa, and Sami, the other boy who takes lessons with him.

Getting set

The program said Finn was going second, so I wasn’t quite ready to start rolling when he actually went first. His solo is Hot Cross Buns.

Next he did a duet of Merrily with Sami.

After the show, Finn and Sami hung out for a few minutes and we took some pictures.

Finn and Sami hanging out after the recital

Finn and Sami

And then we went across the street to El Patron for a celebratory dinner. With Legos.

Minifigure at dinner

Congratulations, Finn, on your first recital. We are so proud of you!

Ezra’s 8th Birthday

Ezra turned eight on Monday and this year we finally dove into elementary school parties with a joint Lego party with his friend, Jack, whose birthday was Saturday. The party was — at Jack’s request — on Sunday, the day in between both birthdays.

We hired the company that put on a Lego camp that Jack and Ezra attended in January. The “teacher” put on a little class for the kids and then they got to build machines to battle on the battle track.


Here are his very fancy Ninjago samples.

Ninjago battlers

The kids loved the building, I think especially because he had pieces to motorize their creations.



Here are the birthday boys — very busy.

Preparing for battle

Of course, Bruce did some building, too. But his super machine was a colossal disappointment.

Bruce battles Amelia

Here’s his battle against Finn’s machine.

After all the battling, the kids did a great job cleaning up. Ezra took a quiet moment to peruse the teacher’s Star Wars Lego magazine.

Quiet moment

Pretty soon it was time for singing and cake. Jack’s mom made cupcakes; I made the chocolate Lego bricks and minifigures for the tops.

Lego cupcakes

Birthday boys

There was the normal amount of after-cake backyard craziness.


And then it was time for the kids to go home. A couple — Jenner and Ruby — stuck around and helped Ezra open his gifts. I was worried about him opening his presents when I wasn’t available to watch, so I told him he had to make a list so that he could do thank you notes. He surprised me by just writing the notes as he opened the gifts. They are brief, but awesome.





My favorite is that last one to Jack. He gave Ezra the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game. When I told Ezra what it was called he said, “I don’t want to write all that” and went on with his playing. Can’t really blame him, I guess.

On Monday night, we had a little family celebration with Ezra’s favorite — In-n-Out burgers — for dinner and his pick of candy apples in lieu of cake.

Birthday boy's choice in lieu of cake

He opened presents from us and the Becks and was the happiest eight-year-old on the planet with some new Lego sets.

Epic Dragon Battle

Needless to say, he’s done a lot of building after school the last two days.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Birthday morning

(More pictures here.)

Dr. Seuss Day 2013

Last Friday was Read Across America Day, or Dr. Seuss Day, and Aveson celebrates by having kids dress up as their favorite character from a book. We were super busy last week and Bruce was sick, so we hadn’t really talked about whether the boys wanted to dress up or not. Until Thursday. Evening.

So, at 7:30 p.m. I was at Target gathering supplies for two costumes. We had worked through Ezra’s big emotions about not being able to be Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) because they didn’t want characters from comic books. And Finn’s reluctance to go as one of the pea shooters from the Moomintroll books because they wear skirts and he didn’t want to wear a skirt.

It was settled, finally, that Ezra would be Fingers McGraw from The Getaway and Finn would be The Groke from Finn Family Moomintroll. Here were the supplies — thanks goodness Target had everything we needed.


It was well past Finn’s bedtime when I got back from Target and Bruce got started doing his creative magic. First, The Groke — black sheet, pillow case turned into a mask, white poster board for the mouth and black poster board for the big nose. So flippin’ cute!

Finn as The Groke

Fingers McGraw was next. White poster board for the ears, part of the black sheet for the mask (multi-purpose purchase!), black balloon covering a dog’s toy ball for the nose and an elastic hairband to hold it in place. He also used the little black bag the sheet set came in as his loot bag. He found a red and black striped shirt in his closet and was all set!

Ezra as Fingers McGraw

I was on campus to do an article about the day and all the costumes, so I got to see all the creativity on display. It was great that many of the teachers dressed up as well. Finn’s teacher Jessica was Pippi Longstocking.

Ms. Jessica (Pippi Longstocking)

Ezra’s teacher Thea was Madeline.

Ms. Thea (Madeline)

And his advisor Diane was the Cat in the Hat.

Mrs. Diane

Here’s a group shot of Ezra’s class.

Ezra's class

And my favorite — the little Groke walking to class.

The Groke walks to class

Finn’s Quarter

Finn was working on his workbook the other day and came to a page where he was supposed to draw a picture of an item that went with each group. Here’s what he did.

Finn's quarter

I think Ezra did the first drawing. Finn did the quarter (my favorite) and the jeans below it. When I said that I really liked his drawings, he said, “I know why you like my drawings. Because you’re a mom and moms always like their kids’ drawings.”

He went on to say, “It kind of looks like a chicken.” And, “Don’t send it to Ms. Jessica [his teacher]. I need to work on it.”

I think it’s great just the way it is. But then, I’m his mom.

Kindergarten Guest Speaker, Take 2

Last Monday Bruce was guest speaker in Finn’s class for another stint teaching Kindergarteners a little bit about communicating with Mars. As he was with Ezra’s class two years ago, he was a big hit this time. The giant Mars globe is a good start.


First he wanted to give the kids an idea of how far Mars is from Earth and their relative sizes. Here he is blowing up Earth.

Blowing up Earth

Then he blew up Mars and our moon and the kids took a look at their sizes.

Mars, Earth and the moon

Next up, he talked about the very large antennas used to communicate with spacecraft so far away.

Pictures of big antennas

And pulled out our homemade antennas for a demonstration.

Intro to antennas

Finn got to be the volunteer to listen with the “big ear.”


Finn's big ear

Finn's big ear

He moved all the way to the back of the room …

Finn's big ear

… and could still hear what a classmate said through the other antenna.

From across the room

Of course, the part of his talk that really kills is the volume miscalculation water trick. I think the kids understood perfectly this volume calculation.

Volume Equation

Or maybe they just wanted to play with the Rover wheel he brought in.

Finn and friends

But really, once the experiment starts (to see if he calculated the volume correctly) their eyes are glued forward … until chaos breaks out.

That’s just a stippet of the video; I put the full 3:54 of it up on YouTube:

My favorite part is when he defends math. Hopefully the fact that he got it wrong twice won’t deter these future mathematicians too much.

I cut the video off a few seconds early — just before he yelled, “I did the calculation for a cylinder and it should be a truncated cone!” I don’t think anyone else heard him over the screams of laughter.