August 2017 Hodgepodge

Mostly my Miscellaneous monthly folders are just random kids and cats photos, but this time I also have a couple from Back to School Night. I loved this drawing and poem Finn made.



I also have this one a friend sent me from the first assembly at Finn’s school where they highlighted the fifth grade Safety Patrol members. Pretty cute in their hard hats!


OK, and here’s the kids and cats portion.



Oh, and some other animals too …


The West Wing Weekly

On Saturday, August 26th Bruce and I actually got out for a date night! I’d gotten us tickets to the live taping of one of my favorite podcasts, The West Wing Weekly, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. We planned to have dinner around the theatre somewhere, but when we arrived the line for the show was already down the block. (Tickets were general admission seating so we didn’t want to be too far in the back of the line.) So, we nixed our plans for a leisurely dinner and instead wolfed down some pizza and Chianti at the pizza place across the street. Luckily it was delicious and satisfying!

The show was very entertaining — the two hosts welcomed the show’s creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin, for a great conversation. Allison Janney, who played the press secretary, was a surprise guest. My pictures are horrible but here’s one anyway.


My favorite part was participating in their signature ending:


Luckily Bruce had fun too because I’m dragging him to another live podcast (Pod Save America) in December!

Solar Eclipse

On August 21st, we joined in the eclipse madness, although we didn’t travel for it, instead opting for the partial eclipse we could see from Palo Alto. Finn’s school provided glasses for all the kids; Ezra took a pair of Google-issued glasses Bruce brought home. They both got to see it while they were at school. Bruce got good views at work thanks to his optical-expert colleagues. I went to the Stanford Dish with some friends to get an unobstructed view with a little exercise on the side.

Here are a couple of shots of our group, organized by my friend Lisa in the white striped shirt.




And here are my four amateur iPhone photos of the eclipse.


It was really interesting and fun to see the eclipse … and a little eerie with the way the light changed. Bruce and I decided that we have to travel to get the full effect of the next one!

Braces, Phase II

On the day before school started (August 14th) Ezra got his second set of braces on after a break of about 18 months. He’s got a lot going on and will need oral surgery to coax an errant tooth into place, but for now it was just the top and a little bit on the bottom.


More than anything, I just thought this scene was funny.


San Francisco Day Trip

After returning from SoCal, we had about a week and a half before school started. Luckily that coincided with our Pasadena friends, Elizabeth, Edie and Richie’s annual trip to San Francisco to visit family (and friends!). On Thursday, August 10th we drove up to meet them at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park. Elizabeth wanted to see the Summer of Love exhibit before it moved on. Unfortunately, so did seemingly everyone else within a 30 mile radius, so the crowds were tough. I would’ve loved to get a better view had we been able to get closer to the objects, but what we did see was cool. The kids liked this psychedelic room with its furry beanbags.


In another area of the museum, I enjoyed this giant blown glass still life.


We also went way up to get a bird’s eye view.




Next we walked to the Japanese Tea Garden where the kids ran around like crazies.




After the garden, we went to a park for a while and then we drove to Elizabeth’s mom’s house not too far away. Ezra was completely enthralled by her giant cats! This one is Bob. He was not happy.


It was a great day, and despite my cursing the traffic, we all had a fabulous time with friends!

Summer SoCal Trip 2017

As has become tradition, in July we headed down to SoCal to spend some time with the Bannings in Laguna. We added a little time in Pasadena on the way to stomp around our old haunts a bit and attend Bren Heffernan’s 50th birthday party. We drove down late Friday night (July 21st) and spent Saturday morning wandering around Pasadena. We walked from our hotel (the newly renovated Hotel Constance which we loved) to the Norton Simon, admiring the new Metro bikes along the way.


And the bridge!


The boys are not huge fans of museums but we visited a few rooms. They liked the audio tour and the sculptures outside.



They were much happier once we got to the pizza place for lunch. In the afternoon I deserted everyone to go get my hair done by Roseanne. Such a treat! In the evening we headed to the Heffernans’ for the party, which was super fun. So nice to see so many friends we haven’t caught up with in a while.

The next day we drove down to Laguna to begin our beach vacation. It’s immediately relaxing. Just ask Chester.


And kids with bowls of ice cream.



I have lost track of some of the narrative of our trip since I’m writing this so long afterwards, but we tried to do something active each day, only some of which I actually documented with pictures. Our first outing was paddle boarding on Monday which was super fun! I have no pictures though because taking an iPhone on a paddle board (especially when it’s your first time) seems like a terrible idea.

Our second outing was a bike ride in the canyon on Tuesday. Very hard to take pictures while riding, but I got a few during breaks.





The next day we took a hike in the morning with a “surprise” showing of a herd of goats doing some brush clearing. (We thought they’d be there but we didn’t tell the kids ahead of time.) Needless to say, they were a hit with kids big and small.



We wore everyone out with some good hills and a couple of steep staircases.



We did take them to the beach later. They got in a little boogie boarding.



Later, there was more relaxing on the deck with these two peas in a pod.


The next day was Bruce’s last day so we decided to go paddle boarding again. Unfortunately, Finn had gotten stung by a bee at the beach the afternoon before and his foot was pretty red and sore.


He really wanted to go but by the time we got there and walked from the parking lot to where the paddle board rentals were he was a mess. So, he and I sat out this session. He wrapped up on the beach and took a nap. Poor guy!


As it turned out, it was much windier this day and the paddle boarding was a bust. Everyone who went came back grumpy and mad. Well, maybe that was just the kids.

We got Bruce on a plane that evening, and I kept an eye on Finn’s foot, which eventually was fine after a day of rest. When we couldn’t take any more lounging around, we planned another active outing — a bike ride in San Juan Capistrano to breakfast at Ruby’s.



I’m sure we did more that day, too, but I have no idea what it was. On Sunday, the 30th, we went to a nature preserve in Newport. Actually, we went to two, the second of which had a museum store where stuffies were begged for and purchased much to my chagrin. Actually, I was on board with the one Ezra wanted which was a bobcat. He wanted to see how our cats would like it with the hopes that if they liked the stuffed animal perhaps they’d be OK if we foster kittens. (!) Finn on the other hand, originally picked out an opossum (yuck!) and then settled on a coyote when I balked. Of course, it’s nowhere to be found now as per usual.

Anyway, here’s one of the two pictures I took at the nature preserve.


I did take a bunch of shots at the beach later in the day.



Oh my gosh, I’d forgotten until looking at these photos that we’d had a rip current scare! The day that Finn wasn’t wanting to do anything because of his foot, Cari took the kids down to the beach. Ruby and Ezra got caught in a rip current, Cari had to rush in to get them — I think Ruby knew what to do but Ezra didn’t. Luckily (and thanks to Cari) everything was OK but both kids were terrified.

So this was the day that we were trying to coax them back in the water. It took a bit, but Ezra waded in.


He was still more interested in digging but at least he got his feet wet.


We had another photo-worthy sunset on the deck that evening.


The next day we went to the San Diego Zoo.





We were nearing the end of our visit and feeling panicked to get in all of the stuff we had on our list of must-dos. One thing that always shows up on that list is Balboa Island, specifically the arcade. I mean, there are clowns to be shot!


We spent a little time outside too.



But the currents and waves were dangerous again and we got shooed away by the lifeguard. We got a little rained on in a freak storm (you can see the angry clouds in the swing picture) but luckily it was just a sprinkle for us.

Another crazy-beautiful sunset.


On our last full day, Ezra and Ruby spent a little time on the deck before our bike ride.


We had several flat tires that Rob valiantly fixed before we headed out, only to have at least one of them not hold. Twice, I think. At least we made it to breakfast. That’ll teach everyone to do any off-road biking.

We packed up on Thursday, August 3rd to make our way back to NorCal. It was a wonderful, weird, adventurous trip.

Miscellaneous July 2017

A few photos to share … mostly kids and cats.



Ezra after his first real haircut in years.


Ezra heading out after his last day of cooking camp. He loved it except for the days he was the only boy.


Boys and cats …


Random hockey practice. That’s Finn in the middle of the ice in all that goalie gear.


Little Free Library Anniversary

In July we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our Little Free Library. Here are its three locations.

Atchison in Pasadena (with the original LEGO door handle)


Mackay in Palo Alto


Louis in Palo Alto


This year it survived all of our rain and flooding as well as a broken window. It also got a geocache courtesy of some neighbors. LFL 2397 is still going strong!

Half Moon Bay

On July 15th we decided to beat the heat by making a return visit to Half Moon Bay. The bike/pedestrian trail had been reopened in the spot that was closed when we were there two years ago, so we were looking forward to a longer ride. Well, Bruce and I were looking forward to the longer ride. The boys, not so much. But, we planned to bribe them with food which usually works.

Sadly, we were not the only people who decided the beach was a good plan that day. We sat in horrendous traffic on the way there (and the way back!) but we finally made it. I only have one good shot from our day as it’s pretty hard to take photos while riding a bike.


Here’s the one I took accidentally when I almost dropped my phone after taking the first picture.


At any rate, we had a lovely day. The scenic ride and delicious lunch were worth sitting in traffic.


We finally found a household chore that Ezra will do without complaint: Cleaning the skylights. He loves being up on the roof so it’s a perfect fit.





Steep Ravine Camping 2017

For the Fourth of July we made a return visit to Mt. Tamalpais’s Steep Ravine campground. On the way up, we stopped in San Francisco for a hike and lunch break at a foggy, yet picturesque, spot.




Once we got to the campground, we spent some time hauling our stuff in wheelbarrows from the car to the site. The boys were a big help this time, even though they did plenty of moaning and groaning about it. We were all happy to be back in this beautiful place.





It was chilly, so we had dinner and made a fire early. (It’s hard to tell it was cold by the boys’ clothing, but I was already in a parka and warm hat.)


We upped our s’mores game this trip thanks to Christina’s suggestion.


Here’s our campsite at dusk. The sites there are pretty separate and it really feels like you’re out in nature all by yourselves.


Our night was quite eventful with a persistent raccoon trying to help himself to our food supply. We anticipated him after he chowed down on a whole loaf of bread last year, and we made sure all the food was secure before we went to bed. However, he still managed to wake us by making a whole lot of noise trying to get into an empty food container. Bruce scared him away, but then a few hours later we woke up to his noises again! This time, he was tearing at our tent trying to get to a backpack that we had inside the tent. He must have smelled whatever remnants of food were in it, and he tore a hole in the tent trying to get to it. Needless to say, Bruce was not happy. He scared him away again and luckily that was the last we saw of him.

The next morning was cold and foggy — to be expected.



We spent the morning close to the campsite and looked for whales and dolphins. We found them! Sadly, my lens is not the right equipment for catching them, but I tried and I’ve cropped and zoomed a couple of photos.




I also got a video.

Even though it’s hard to capture on the camera, the experience of seeing the whales and dolphins roaming around is not to miss. We had some great vantage points too.


There were other animals also — birds, bunnies, some sort of small rodent that was actually really cute. And, a couple of monkeys in a tree.


After a while, we decided to go on a hike. We started out on a short trail that starts at the campground, but soon found that it led to where we could access the road (Highway 1) that had been closed due to a big landslide. We weren’t close enough to the slide to be in any danger, and it was really fun to have the road all to ourselves.


We stopped at one point and went out to a rocky area where we had a nice view. (I think Ezra was looking at ants in this photo.)



And then we headed back.


It was clearing up and we planned to head down to the beach. I took this shot of the entire campground.


We spent the rest of the afternoon down at the beach. It was chilly but beautiful.




We’d had a lovely time, but Bruce had been having intermittent chest pain and lightheadedness. After we got back from the beach and had dinner, we decided it would be best to skip the second night and head home. With the surprisingly long July days, we had plenty of light to get everything packed up. I was happy to sleep in our own bed that night since I was coming down with a cold. The rest of Bruce’s story is not blog material.

We hope someday we’ll be able to reserve one of the cabins at this campground. There are only about ten of them and they are very hard to get!

Finn’s First Goalie Mask

We’re borrowing (luckily!) most of the equipment Finn needs to be a goalie, but after a few weeks we decided he should have a proper goalie mask instead of his regular hockey helmet/mask. Not surprisingly, he was over the moon to get it.



Sophie liked the box.


Giants v Mets

June 24th was a good day for a ballgame. Perfect weather in San Francisco (you really never know how that’s going to go), a nice train ride up there, hotdogs, peanuts, and good seats.


Oh, and cotton candy, too.



The boys thought the between-inning raking of the infield was funny. I forget what they called it but it was something having to do with a Zamboni.


It was also bobblehead night, which kept everyone entertained for a few minutes on the ride home.


Finn’s Goalie Tryout

Both boys have been loving playing ice hockey since they started last year. For about three months Finn asked me if he could try being goalie. I wanted him to remain a skater and hopefully learn the game before he tried goalie, so I just kept putting him off. Finally, he took matters into his own hands and asked the woman who runs the club if he could try it. Seeing how they are always in need of goalies, she was more than happy to oblige. So, on June 23rd he took his first pass at it. Here he is taking a shot from his goalie coach, Tony.


And, of course, I have video. Slo-mo!

He worked so hard during that first session. I thought he was going to come off the ice and say it was too hard and he hated it. However, he LOVED it! He hasn’t stopped talking about goalie stuff since that day.

He especially likes it that Ezra’s best friend Henry is also a goalie and they hang out at practices.