Finn’s 12th Birthday

Finn’s golden birthday fell on a Friday. He started the day with a few presents at breakfast while he ignored the fact that he had a cold.

We had a sleepover planned with three of his friends and he was determined that the sniffles were not going to ruin it. Against my better judgment, I said OK to going through with the party and bought some provisions for Bruce and me.

The party ended up to be fine. The kids were loud but nice and enjoyed a bunch of pizza, an ice cream cake, some time on the trampoline, the newest Spiderman movie and, of course, some Fortnite time.

In the morning, we all enjoyed a breakfast of fruit, bacon and sausage, and some of Ezra’s world famous cinnamon rolls.

This is the best I could do for a group shot; these boys would not stop shoving food into their mouths, which seems about right for 12.

Hamilton

We finally joined in the craze and went to see Hamilton in San Francisco on April 6th. I really don’t know how it lives up to the hype but it really, really does.

We had dinner at a restaurant down the street from the theater and were tickled with their special Hamilton menu (although we didn’t end up ordering anything from it).

We had enough time to walk around San Francisco for a bit after dinner. I coaxed the boys into a relatively grimace-free photo.

And then we headed to the theater and experienced the magic.

Finn would like to see it every week.

Pasadena Weekend

We took a quick trip to Pasadena over the last weekend in March. We stayed in a super cute Airbnb in South Pas — a “mid-century modern retreat” as described by the owner. It was a very comfortable (but not fussy) place and a great location right on the border of Pasadena and South Pasadena. We enjoyed their cool bookshelf complete with a copy of Eat: Los Angeles from our friends at Prospect Park Books.

On Saturday we rode our bikes around town to check things out. Ezra commented on how pretty the streets are with all the trees. We rode by our old apartment on Bank Street and Bruce pined for a Hi Life burger and told the funny story about his haircut at Zen 2000.

We used up all the bike parking wherever we went.

We were pleased to see some actual bike lanes (and that Pasadena drivers were courteous passers).

And tried out the new (tiny) stretch of a dedicated bike path in South Pasadena. Hopefully it will be expanded because it was nicely done.

We met the Finley-Knockels for ice skating and chatted away the afternoon. We all agreed that the scenery at the Pasadena rink is much better than Redwood City.

We had a great Zankou Chicken dinner at the Bannings. Great, as always, to spend time with them.

The next morning I sneaked out for a short walk and enjoyed the gorgeous blue sky and the wildflowers at Arlington Garden. Fun to see Cottage Coop again too.

It was great to pop into town; we only wish we had time to see more friends.

The Hummingbird Saga

When Cari was here over the weekend of March 23rd, she spotted a hummingbird nest in our oleander bush. We were all very excited to discover there were two eggs in the nest.

Little mama was doing a great job of guarding her babies.

But of course we were on pins and needles wondering if the babies would make it. We thought it wasn’t a great spot given the other wildlife around, including the gross rats we see on the fence behind that bush every now and then. We kept checking and everything seemed OK on March 28th.

But then the next day Finn went outside and noticed that things were decidedly not OK.

We don’t know what got to the nest. We do know that little mama survived because she kept coming back to this spot all day and into the next. It broke our hearts. Nature is harsh.

Ezra’s Pan Dulce

Ezra decided to add another bread to his repertoire in March when the opportunity came up to bring food for a party in his Spanish class. He made a test run on the weekend for the family. They were delicious but perhaps a little overbaked.

A couple of days later he made smaller versions to take to school. Judging from the crumbs that came back that afternoon, they were a big hit.

Finn’s Band Concert

The busy-ness of February continued with Finn’s band concert on the 13th. I no longer bother to shoot video at these events because it comes out terribly. But, here are a couple of still shots. In the first one, Finn is all the way in the back top right corner. In the second he’s in the small group playing in front.

Ezra’s Trip to Philadelphia and DC

On March 7th we took Ezra to SFO to meet his classmates for their overnight flight to Philadelphia. It felt very strange to just leave him at the airport! We kind of hung around for a bit with the other lost, awkward looking parents wondering what we were supposed to do. And then we left and he mingled with friends and played with his butterfly comb.

Early Friday morning I got a sunrise photo from him with the message “Kill me I’m so tired.”

He rallied though and enjoyed a trip to see the Liberty Bell and, even more so, his first Philly Cheesesteak.

They also went to Valley Forge that day and happened upon a film crew making a movie.

After the first day, I got fewer photos from Ezra but they were keeping the kids really busy sightseeing in DC. I think they saw every monument and museum in town, along with the Capitol and the Library of Congress.

They also hit a couple of souvenir shops.

And he got a giant quarter.

One funny story. Before he left I told him that the social media personality “God” had planned to have an anti-Trump billboard on a truck in DC during the time that he was there. He sent me a text on the last day with this photo and the message, “Holy shit.”

Finally, on the evening of March 12th they returned home safe and sound. Of course, he was most happy to be able to snuggle his cats again.

Ezra’s 14th Birthday

Ezra’s birthday was a scattered affair this year. We got him a new monitor for his computer and decided to give it to him on the Saturday morning before his birthday (which was Monday) because he only gets screen time on the weekends and that way he could use it. Needless to say he was very excited about that.

He chose to do a family birthday dinner at our local ramen place over the weekend, and then on his actual birthday, after Finn’s hockey practice, we had cake.

Ezra’s First Sandwich Bread

In March Ezra moved on to his first loaves of sandwich bread. Spoiler alert: they were very good. Finn requested that he make some every week. Here are some photos of the process.

We all enjoy the rising process — it’s like magic!

Miscellaneous February 2019

February flew by in a whirlwind of hockey practices and travel, but we always need a couple photos of Emmy and Sophie at the end of the month. I’m not sure how Sophie gets up to the top shelf where I put all the things I don’t want her sitting on, but she does. All the time.

Emmy usually prefers to remain in lower places, and she never skips the opportunity to sit in a box.

Of course we need one photo of silly Papa.

And here’s one of my friend Maria and me at the Mother’s Symposium. It was a great morning spent listening to some inspiring women speak about their experiences of motherhood. It made me miss my Pasadena crew tremendously. There’s something irreplaceable about the group of moms you bond with when your kids are in preschool and early elementary.

Presidents’ Day Tournament

In February we packed up the whole family and went to San Diego for Finn’s hockey tournament. The timing worked out well — the kids had Thursday, Friday, and Monday off so no one had to miss any school.

This was a great tournament for lots of reasons. In past tournaments, Finn’s team had been entered in a division higher than their skill level and the scores reflected that. I don’t mind them losing games, but when they aren’t even able to compete it’s no fun. This time, they were in a BB division as they should be and it was much better. Also, since it was in San Diego we were able to meet up with the lots of family and friends. It was great to have a Moision/Beck get together and to spend some time with Peter, Laura, Eric, and the Banning clan. The Bannings rescued Ezra from a long day of hockey on Friday when they invited him to join them at the Wild Animal Park. He bonded with the animals.

Friday was a great day of hockey — two games and Finn’s team won both. First, though, was the boys’ favorite part: breakfast at the hotel. The food was mediocre at best, but the kids love being able to get what they want from the buffet, and the novelty of eating breakfast with friends is slow to wear off.

Here are a couple of shots from one of Friday’s games. I don’t tend to take many pictures during the games.

And one of the handshake line.

After the second Friday game we went for a late dinner with the Bannings. Despite the “meh” Mexican food, a good time was had by all. At the end of the night the kids noticed this sex appeal monitor in the lobby and hysterics ensued.

The next morning we met up with Laura and Eric, stuffed ourselves with pancakes and coffee, and then took a quick trip to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. It was a gorgeous day.

We all enjoyed seeing a reference to an Oatmeal comic in an exhibit about the mantis shrimp. Ezra, especially, is obsessed with all things Oatmeal.

Finn was nervous about getting to his game on time (that’s my fault; I’m also too much of a worrier about getting places on time) but it all worked out. They lost the game, but continued to be in good spirits. After the game, Bruce and Peter had the chance to hang out while the boys and I went to lunch with Finn’s teammate Arthur and his mom.

That night was the Skills Competition. Finn and three of his teammates, Robert, Drew and Bubba, were competing. It was a madhouse of activity, but the boys did really well. In fact, they won the prize for their age group. There was only one other team competing, but still.

Finn stopped all of the shots he faced. We couldn’t see very well, but his coach sent me videos. (I love seeing his teammates cheer for him!)

Here’s the whole Skills Competition crew and Coach Mike:

On Sunday Finn’s game wasn’t until 4:00 so we had time to take a leisurely visit to Balboa Park. The museum we planned to see (the Mingei) was closed for remodel, but we had a fun time at a photography exhibit, the train museum, and a stop at the Finnish house on the way out. Here are a couple of photos from the photography exhibit.

And here’s all the photos we took of ourselves at the station Finn is at above.

They ended up losing Sunday’s game, too, but still made it into the finals.

And they had a team dinner on Sunday which was super fun for the kids. Bruce and Ezra skipped that and went out with the San Diego/Temecula Moisions and Becks.

Back at the team dinner, there was cake and a very festive atmosphere. It’s a pretty fun bunch of kids.

On Monday, the Black Stars played in the finals against the team from Canada. There had been some parental conflicts at the previous game against this team, and the bad attitude of a couple of the Canadian parents continued on Monday. Really there were only a couple of parents pushing the limits of youth sports decorum, but they sure managed to dispel the myth that all Canadians are nice.

Our boys ended up getting the silver, and the team quickly scattered as people rushed off to the airport to make flights or start the long drive home. Our flight ended up being delayed, so we were not in a rush but had a very late night.

For us, it was definitely a successful weekend. And I think our very tired goalie would agree.