Ezra’s 13th Birthday

Teenager in the house!

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OK, so he’s a sleepy teenager with a cold, who we forced to get up early-ish on the Sunday morning of his birthday so we could have breakfast together before Finn’s hockey practice, but a teenager nonetheless.

This year, in trying to come up with a good birthday activity for a kid who didn’t want to have a party, Bruce thought of having one-on-one time with each of us. Luckily, Ezra is still game to hang out with his family so it all worked out. On Saturday, Bruce and Ezra took BART to San Francisco to spend the day at the Exploratorium. They had a great time and there was ice cream, so, you know, all good. There were not, however, any photos of the day.

After they got back, Finn took Ezra to Teaspoon, the local all-the-rage bubble tea shop. They rode their bikes there and had an independent, brotherly outing.

On Sunday, I finally got my time with Ezra — we went to see Black Panther. I think I got the best deal of the three of us. It was great! Wakanda forever! Ezra liked it because there were lots of explosions. And he got a giant bag of popcorn and an Icee. Don’t tell his orthodontist.

For dinner, he’d requested bacon-wrapped shrimp, which he had picked out on the menu when we were in Belize at the Secret Beach, but the restaurant ran out of gas for cooking so he never got to try it. When I told him he could choose whatever he wanted for dinner, he immediately went for the bacon-wrapped shrimp. He said all he wanted was a big platter of it.

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So that’s what he got! It was delicious — Bruce made it with a maple Sriracha glaze. Yum!

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For dessert I made chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.

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And ice cream, of course.

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I think he had a good weekend despite his cold. Hopefully he feels as loved as he is.

February 2018 Miscellaneous

Cats and kids again!

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Ezra’s pancake he made at school:

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And, finally, one of my book club members, Susan, is moving to Seattle so we had a special potluck celebration for her at our house. It was a really fun evening. Luckily another member thought to take a picture.

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Ezra’s Great Helm

Ezra’s been studying armor from the Middle Ages and he was disappointed that his teacher hadn’t assigned any projects for the unit. Actually, there haven’t been any projects at all which is unfortunate for him. He’s been really interested in the subject matter, especially the helmets, and Bruce encouraged him to make one even if it wasn’t assigned. And so, they made one together — a Great Helm.

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He took it to school and his teacher loved it and said he should bring it back for Open House.

Finn’s First Hockey Game

On February 24th I was out for my morning walk when I got a phone call from Ali, who runs the travel teams for the hockey club where the boys play. She said they were in desperate need of a replacement goalie because the regular goalie had the flu. After much hullaballoo about which team he’d play for (there’s an A and a B team), he ended up playing on the A team. Luckily this is the team he practices with on Mondays, so he knows the kids, but they’ve all been playing much longer than he has so their skill level is higher.

He was nervous — and so were Bruce and I! — as he’d never played in a real game situation. There were all sorts of little things he didn’t know, like the goalie leads the team out on the ice, they switch sides each period, and the goalie leads in the handshake line at the end. Luckily, the other players were incredibly welcoming and supportive both for these little technicalities and during the game. Likewise, the parents were very nice to Bruce and me and super supportive of Finn’s efforts. It was a tough game — they lost 9-2 to a team that was clearly superior. Finn played well and had a good time, and even though he had moments of despair when the goals against kept coming.

Here are some pictures and video.

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I have to say as a parent, watching him in this situation was incredibly nerve-wracking! I was so happy that the kids and parents were so supportive. Here’s the final score sheet, thanks to my friend Christina, showing that Finn had 19 saves.

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Finn and Sangeet’s Game

Finn’s class periodically has a class store where they can make things and then sell them to classmates. For the first one, he and Bruce made a watermelon out of Papier-mâché. This time, he and his friend Sangeet decided to make a game. Here is their initial sketch.

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It’s a little bit like skee-ball in that you throw balls and try to get into certain holes for more points. I don’t have any pictures of them building it, but here are a couple of them painting it. It’s made of chicken wire, cardboard, and plastic tubing.

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Here’s a shot of Finn on his way to school the morning of the store. The final paint job took on an Olympic theme.

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And here’s a shot his teacher took during the store.

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They decided not to sell the game itself. Instead they sold turns to play it and win candy. It was apparently a huge hit.

Finn’s NASA Field Trip

Two years ago I got to go with Ezra on his field trip to NASA’s Ames Research Center, and this year I got to go with Finn. They have a great learning center there, and they’ve changed some things up in the last two years. There was a new flight landing simulator where the kids get to plan out flight paths and make adjustments to make sure planes land safely. They all seemed to enjoy it.

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There was a movie about future space exploration that the kids seemed to enjoy. There’s also a good hands-on part with lots of spinny things.

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And then this part where they’re trying to simulate how hard it is to land something somewhere when both parts are moving.

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They also spent a little time in a simulated International Space Station doing experiments.

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The only bummer about the changes was that they no longer have the model of Bruce’s project (LADEE). It’s been replaced with a poster placed in the stairwell with posters of other projects.

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Ezra’s Homemade Pasta

Another perk from Ezra’s Living Skills class was the homemade fettuccini alfredo we made in early February. He’d loved it when they made it in class, so I bought the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment set (which they use at school — talk about lucky kids). I don’t have many photos because I was busy helping.

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Lunar Eclipse

I got up extra early for my walk on January 31st in order to see the lunar eclipse. We lucked out with clear skies and it was absolutely amazing. I kept stopping my walk in order to take pictures, but since I was only using my phone none of them really came out. Here’s the best I could do, for posterity’s sake.

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See, they’re terrible. But it was so great in person! I woke up Finn to see it and he came out for a few minutes before he ran back in the house freezing. I didn’t wake up Ezra because I hadn’t talked to him about it beforehand and he’s awfully grumpy in the morning. My mistake — he was super mad that he didn’t see it when people were talking about it at school. Lesson learned.

Dogs v Cats

Finn has recently been lobbying for a dog, while Ezra has been trying to get us to foster kittens. We told them they both should try to make their case, and on January 7th they did just that. Bruce and I sat down to a presentation from each of them.

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I only have pictures of Finn; I’m not sure why. His presentation was really good! He did research and had some convincing arguments. Ezra’s report was mostly just pictures of really cute kittens. I think he figured he had an advantage since we already have cats.

Luckily, no one has pressed the issue further because I am not really interested in adding to our menagerie just now.

Ice Skating in San Jose

We wanted to try one of the outdoor skating rinks that were put up during the holidays, so on January 6th we headed to San Jose. As expected, it was crowded and the ice was terribly slushy, but we had a good time anyway.

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We also had hot chocolate and strolled through their Christmas display, which was on its last legs having probably been up for almost a month. Still fun.

New Year’s Day at Caples Lake

Some time toward the end of 2017, Bruce heard from his friend Andrei that Caples Lake was frozen and because of the unusually dry weather, the ice was smooth and perfect for skating. Needless to say, he wanted to go, so we spent New Year’s Eve getting supplies (like ice skates for me) and packing up. We set out early in the morning on New Year’s Day — no coffee and Rose Parade viewing for me this year — and it took about two seconds of seeing the lake to know we made the right choice.

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We started out at the south (?) end of the lake, which was smooth-ish but still felt rough for me as a beginning skater. The boys were fine since they are very good on their skates. Bruce was pretty comfortable too.

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I switched to snowshoes which felt much more secure, and I took a nice walk. Bruce snapped a picture. Turns out, even though he’d encouraged me to go, he was a little worried at how far out I got.

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During my walk I saw that the other side of the lake looked smooth as glass, so I went back and convinced everyone to move. I mean, look at this! Even I can skate on this.

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Ezra didn’t skate as much as the rest of us because he spent most of the time using his hockey stick to smash some piles of ice. He was having a blast. To each his own. It’s hard to see, but he’s over there somewhere.

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At some point we stopped for lunch (Cup Noodles and hot chocolate — perfect).

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And then Finn, Bruce and I did a little more snowshoeing on the other side of the lake.

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The temperature was in the 50s most of the day, but after the sun went behind the mountain it started to get pretty chilly. We finally packed up and headed home. It was a perfect way to ring in the new year!

I have lots more pictures here.

New Year’s Eve 2017

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at home after running around for the better part of the day getting equipment, clothing, and food for our trip to Caples Lake the next day. We also had lunch at Refuge in San Carlos where Bruce and I split their homage to Langer’s Deli, the #19. It was good, but not as good as the original.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I’d had the idea to write down each week’s best thing for all of us. We didn’t manage to do it every week, but we had a lot of entries and we spent some time on New Year’s Eve reading through them all.

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We discovered two things: 1) we really enjoyed it and wanted to be more diligent about it in 2018, and 2) no one can read my sloppy cursive writing. But we did our best to go around the table, each reading a week’s entry.

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It really is a pleasure to go back and think about all the good things over a year — the small things and the big things — especially in a year with the trials we had. It was a great exercise in gratitude.

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Carmel

On December 29th and 30th we visited our friends, the Detchemendy-Eides, at their house in Carmel. As you can tell from this photo, it was terrible.

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We spent the afternoon at the beach where the kids built structures and played around and the adults chatted and relaxed. Terrible, I tell you!

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I mean, just look at poor Finn and Julia.

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And this sunset!

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When it got too cold to stay at the beach, we walked home and had a delicious dinner.

The next morning, Christina and I got out for a walk (and a pastry, shhhhh), while Chris and Bruce went out for their runs. The kids were happy to be home hanging out.

Later we all went to Point Lobos Nature Reserve for a hike. It was our first time there, and it was beautiful.

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After the hike, we made a trip to a local restaurant for some steaming bowls of pho before packing up and heading home. A really lovely little getaway to end the year.