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).


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


Here are a few more shots.




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.



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.


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.


Here’s the video of his speech.

And the speech written out.


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


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!).


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


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



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


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).


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


It really did look cool!


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.


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.


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 …


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


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.


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


When I dropped him off, I took another one.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


And here’s the whole group of crazy boys.


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.


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


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



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 …


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.





And some cats in funny positions.




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).


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.


Moonlight Walk/Run

On September 16th we participated in Palo Alto’s annual Moonlight Walk/Run. We did the 5K walk, so not stressful or hard at all. We were very Palo Alto-y and biked to the event, which was a good thing since there’s pretty much no parking anywhere near it. I didn’t really stop to take pictures, so I don’t have a lot of good ones. Here are a couple from the first mile.



Part of the draw was the Harvest Moon which made an appearance about the middle of our walk.



My pictures don’t do it justice, of course, but it was pretty spectacular.

The boys did some complaining during the walk but they were appeased when we finished and they found the free food tables. Cookies for all!

The other cool thing we saw at the after-event was this bike book-mobile that the city library has started using. Super cute!


I don’t know if I’ll be able to talk the boys into doing this again next year, but I’m glad we participated once!

Ezra’s “Dig” Field Trip

One of the first units of sixth grade study for Ezra was about archaeology. He seems to have taken to the subject and enjoyed the project of making up a civilization and creating its artifacts. The culmination of the unit was a field trip to the beach, where the artifacts were buried and teams of students dug up and analyzed other teams’ artifacts. Luckily he’s still happy to have me along on field trips, so on September 13th, we drove to Pacifica State Beach at Linda Mar.

The teachers had set out grids for each civilization. This is Ezra’s group’s.


Before any artifacts could be buried, there was playing to be done. We were at the beach after all.





Finally it was time for each team to bury their creations. Ezra made a golden chicken bone on a stick and a silver helmet.




He had a good time doing the burying, but was disappointed when it came time to dig for the other group’s artifacts. Apparently someone else dug up the grid that he was supposed to dig, but he didn’t know it, so he dug and dug but never found anything. Luckily he was still happy to be in the sand. Some things never change.


It was a pretty nice day for a field trip to the beach.


Bruce’s Birthday

It feels like we’re just running from one stressor to the next these days, so I’m having a hard time remembering what we did that day. I know we celebrated in the morning … because it’s the only picture I have from that day.


The boys had their skating class that afternoon and then a birthday party. Ah, and I do remember, Bruce and I went to dinner by ourselves to celebrate. Low key, but nice (and rare) to get out.