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.

Ski Trip for Finn and Bruce

While Ezra was in DC, Bruce took Finn on a ski/snowboarding trip to Tahoe. I don’t have any still photos, but Bruce sent me a couple of videos of Finn. They had a great time.

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.

Finn’s Egyptian Sarcophagus Project

Finn has the same core teachers for sixth grade that Ezra had and thus, he also did a hands on project for the Egyptian unit. Whereas Ezra made a chariot, Finn and his group made a life size sarcophagus. They used a cardboard base shape and then covered it in paper mache and lots of paint. They worked mostly independently both at school and at our house, so I don’t have many pictures.

The toxic gold paint was really the only thing that I was worried about. It worked out pretty well though with only a few globs ending up where they weren’t supposed to be. Here are some shots of the final product.

And here’s Finn bringing it to school for the big unveiling.

And here’s Finn and his group on the night the class presented all of their projects.

Hockey Bling

About halfway through the season, Finn’s team started a Player of the Game award with some homemade bling. Finn was the first recipient on January 13th for holding on for a 2-2 tie against the division-leading Tri-Valley Blue Devils.

Bruce and Finn Go Snow Camping

To celebrate the end of 2018 (and because there’s a break in hockey during the holidays) Bruce and Finn went on a snow camping trip. I’m hoping Bruce will fill in the details at some point, but for now I can say that they were in Carson Pass, California and Lake Winnemucca, Nevada. It looks gorgeous and extremely cold.

3 on 3 Christmas Tournament

Finn and four of his Black Starts teammates played in a just-for-fun 3 on 3 tournament on December 20th in San Jose. Their team was The Angry Elves, and one of the dads got elf hats for them and made “uniforms” out of t-shirts. They played three half-hour, cross-ice games and were thoroughly exhausted afterwards. It was a cute group of kids and the parents are all nice so it was a great evening.

Here they are in between the first and second game. From left to right, Robert, Finn, Mikala, Bubba, and Jack. (The moms of the two boys on the end were much more on it with the hats and stuffed them to make them stay up.)

Mikala’s mom bought them a pizza after the last game, which they inhaled.

It was a nice send off for the Christmas break before games and practices start up again after the first of the year.

Fall Vegas Tournament

In October Bruce and Finn headed to Vegas for the annual tournament there. Since I’d taken Finn there in the spring, it seemed only fair that Bruce handle this one. (While I love to watch Finn play, the whole Las Vegas thing is a bit much for me and I was happy to escape the madness this time.)

I don’t recall any scores but I’m pretty sure his team lost all their games. As it turns out, his club had signed them up (again) for a tournament above their level. I’m not sure why they keep doing this but it’s frustrating. The BB tournament was the next weekend; I’m not sure why we went to the A one.

At any rate, the photographers there captured some great shots, a few of which I’ll put here.

And my favorite:

Finn Gets Braces

On August 7th, just before school started (and on Picture Day!), Finn got braces. Of course, we need a shot of his new mouth:

As I write this on December 26th, I am amazed at how much straighter his teeth are already. They moved pretty quickly, but his jaw is all catawampus and he has these huge apparatuses in his mouth that are helping to realign things.

He’s making progress though. I think it’s expected he’ll have them on for two years. At his most recent checkup, they said he’d probably get the big things off in May and then they’d put on the bottom braces.

Goalie Camp

Finn did his first week-long goalie camp the week after we got back from Laguna. Busy summer for him! I don’t have a lot of pictures since it was a drop off situation, but here’s one of him and two of his goalie friends heading in for the day.

Here he is after the first day on the ride home.

It was a very exhausting camp full of drills, both on and off the ice. On the last day they had a scrimmage with the players from the regular hockey camp that was also going on. There were so many goalies that they had to take shifts, and the extra goalies waited in the penalty boxes.

I think he had a pretty good time. Here’s a photo of the whole bunch. (Finn barely made it into the shot in the far right corner.)

Finn’s Fifth Grade Promotion

Finn’s fifth grade promotion ceremony was a beautiful morning on the first of June. We got there early to get a decent seat and the kids were pretty cute milling around all dressed up.

When the ceremony started, they walked in in pairs.

And then went to their rows.

Several of the kids who had leadership roles spoke. Then they gave out the only award, the Fifth Grade Role Model award, which is given to two students as voted on by their peers. Finn and a classmate named Riley were the winners.

It’s meant to be a surprise, and it sure was for us! No one had tipped us off (although his teacher later told me that she wanted to!) and I didn’t even remember that they gave out this award. We were so proud of Finn!

Riley’s mom sent me a fabulous picture of the winners after the ceremony.

Then it was time for Principal Althouse to hand out the certificates.

Luckily my friend Karen had a better vantage point than I did and got a nice shot of Finn’s face.

Then hugs from the teachers.

And then it was over and they marched out.

I managed to get a photo of Finn with his teacher, Ms. Corti, and Principal Althouse, who was celebrating his last fifth grade promotion ceremony as he is leaving Fairmeadow for a new school in Marin County.

And one with a photobomb by some friends, Gabby, Gillian, and Sayori.

We also got one of the newly minted sixth grader with his parents.

Last Week of Fifth Grade

The last week of school, especially for the fifth graders, is one long celebration. There’s a picnic at Foothills Park that lasts all day, there’s a water balloon toss the next day, and then there’s Field Day. It’s a good week.

The picnic is a fun, activity-filled day. There were all sorts of games available. Finn spent a good portion of the day playing whiffle ball.

After lunch and more play time, they rounded up the whole class for a photo.

And then it was time to get their yearbooks. They only do yearbooks for the fifth graders, so this is a pretty big deal. All the kids seemed to have a fun time running around getting signatures.

The next day was a water balloon toss. Finn teamed up with his friend Felicity. They did pretty well!

After the competition was over, some kids stuck around to get soaking wet with the extra balloons and buckets of water. Of course, Finn was one of those kids.

Finn’s First Hockey Tournament

May was filled with hockey, hockey, hockey, as Finn and his team prepared for a tournament in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. Due to some stubborn adults, the team was signed up in a division that was above their skill level, and I was already sporting a pretty bad attitude about the tournament. We were initially supposed to play in Valencia which was a) driving distance away and b) in a place where we could have seen our SoCal friends. Regardless of my feelings, the Vegas trip happened. Finn had a great time, as evidenced by this shot of him enjoying in-room breakfast on our first morning.

They played four games. The first two — one each on Friday and Saturday — didn’t go very well. They were pretty outmatched, and, at least for the first one, Finn was very nervous.

Their coach didn’t help matters by getting them on the ice late, allowing for no warm up time. They never recovered, and lost 10-4. Finn faced 36 shots, while the opposing goalie faced 13. Bruce pointed out that Finn’s save percentage was better than the winning goalie’s, which cheered Finn up quite a bit. The boys seemed to recover quickly; the afternoon at the hotel pool helped.

The next game was midday Saturday.

That one didn’t go much better. I don’t remember the score, but it wasn’t pretty.

Again, the boys bounced back with a trip to the hotel bowling alley and arcade, and a team dinner at the hotel buffet. As usual, parents were more upset than the kids.

The final day, Sunday, they ended up playing the same team twice — once as part of the round-robin and then again for the 3rd/4th place final. The other team was a much more favorable match for them and they won both games.

The post-win goalie pile-on.

The handshake line — a great tradition.

And here’s the team enjoying shaved ice after the game.

It was the best possible outcome — they got to end on a high note with two wins, and Finn and I got to catch a flight out Sunday night instead of waiting around all day in Vegas for our original flight home Monday. Now that’s a win-win.

One other fun fact: the games were played in the Vegas Knights practice facility and the whole place was alive with the excitement of the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals. The Finals started after we left Vegas, but we did get to see a Knights practice which was fun. There was always a line out the door for their practices, but since we had an early game on the same ice we were able to just stick around to watch their ice time. It’s always amazing to see NHL hockey up close — even practice.

Finn’s Fifth Grade Band Concert

Fifth graders from Fairmeadow and El Carmelo joined together to put on a concert on April 16th. I didn’t take video because they recorded it for us but I took a few photos.

Also, there was this incredible full rainbow on our way to the concert. A lovely addition to the evening!