Laguna 2018

This year we wedged our Laguna trip in between the boys’ sleep-away camp and Finn’s goalie camp, and had a great week-long vacation with the Bannings. Super fun that Bruce and Rob were both able to take the whole time off. Cari and I planned ahead for a couple of new adventures — the King Tut exhibit at the Science Center and a day trip to Catalina Island. And, we got in several bike rides, a couple of hikes, and of course, plenty of beach time. Here are a few photos.

All the kids at the Science Center. Not easy to get them all cooperating but this is a close as it got!

The Catalina was a great day. The boat trips were smooth and fun, and we rented kayaks on the island and did some snorkeling. Everyone was worn out at the end of the day but agreed it was an excursion we should revisit.

One day, all the boys (and I) went on a little hike to check out a local park. It was a little warm and dry, but fun nonetheless. A couple of days later, the boys all went back for a bike ride which was mostly successful with a few glitches (one broken derailleur and some complaining about the up-hills).

On the non-adventure days, we had lots of hanging out on the beach time. The kids are still enjoying digging big holes and getting pummeled by waves at “the pool.”

And, of course, we had many delicious meals on the deck — one of my favorite places in the whole world.

We’re so appreciative of this annual invite to spend time with great friends in such a gorgeous place.

Erin and Rikki’s Wedding

On the last weekend in June, we traveled to Pasadena for Erin and Rikki’s wedding. We got in late on Friday night, found our AirBnB in Altadena, and pretty much crashed. I got up at a not-too-early hour to have an in-person walk with Cari. It was a very Pasadena walk — two different film crews and the beautiful yards and architecture that I miss so much.

Our house on Atchison was looking pretty good! Unfortunately, they’re losing another one of the old oaks, probably due to whatever killed the first one before we bought the house. The new owners have put in a pretty awful cactus garden on the side of the house, but the front yard looks beautiful.

After our walk, Cari came back to our place for a cup of tea. That led to a decision that we should all have breakfast together, and luckily the rest of her family was able to come up and join us, too. We had a good meal at the newly renovated Fox’s and so much good conversation that I never took out my phone for photos. I did catch a quick one of the kids on the walk back. It was a great way to spend the morning!

Once we said our goodbyes to the Bannings, it was time to kick it into high gear for last minute wedding prep. The two big tasks were to get some shoes that fit Ezra and to drop off our wedding present at the Bates’ house. Our present was a little unconventional — a giant paper maché Peggy Hill head. Peggy Hill is Erin and Rikki’s dog, to whom they are both completely dedicated. It was a whole-family project, but of course, Bruce dreamt it up and did the lion’s share of the work. Here are some photos of the process.

The humble beginnings of the wire shape, made possible by many sketches and printed photos of Peggy Hill herself. (Thank goodness Erin and Rikki post pictures of her so often!)

The first layers of paper maché, left to hang dry outside.

Finished and primered.

Spray-painted with four colors to get her likeness just right.

And, of course, it’s not really a Bruce Moision original if there aren’t lights.

Anyway, we managed to wrap it in rainbow party tablecloths, which seemed appropriate, and Bruce dropped it off. We heard later from Erin and both of her parents that it was the hit of the brunch the day after the wedding. And Erin sent us a couple of photos.

Now, back to the wedding! The boys all cleaned up quite nicely and I took this photo on our way to the shuttle that would take us to the home up in the Altadena hills that was the location for the wedding.

Bruce and I took a selfie a little later. I guess we all cleaned up pretty well!

The ceremony was lovely. Finn said it was the best wedding ever.

After the ceremony and before dinner, the boys enjoyed a bag of candy each from the giant candy table.

There was also a wicked cornhole game.

Dinner was delicious, there was a little dancing (for us, lots for others!), and then it was time to head out. We’re so happy for Erin and Rikki and their life ahead!

Big Basin Camping June 2018

A couple of weeks into summer vacation, we joined some local families for their annual trip to Big Basin. I’d gone with them a few years ago, but Bruce missed that trip because of work. I warned him that we were unlikely to see much of our boys and he should bring a book. I was right.

I managed to get a couple of photos of Finn and Bruce making the first fire, but that was it.

Luckily one of the other moms is great at getting photos and sent them out to all of us. The eighth graders played a game of tag for hours, while the sixth graders had a top chef like s’mores competition.

Our boys never even came to our site for dinner. At the end, they were filthy and exhausted — two hallmarks of a successful camping trip.

Tahoe Weekend

We took the boys to Tahoe for the weekend at the end of March. Ezra wanted to try skiing (he loved it) and Finn, as always, wanted to snowboard. Bruce skied too, and they all had a great time.

I spent the time walking and relaxing. The lake was beautiful.

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.

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.

Thanksgiving in Belize

Way back in August, before all hell broke loose in September, we decided to jump on some reasonably-priced tickets to Belize for Thanksgiving week after initially nixing the idea because the fares were through the roof. Needless to say, after September’s drama, we didn’t really think we’d make it to Belize, but we decided to play it by ear. Lo and behold, Bruce was feeling pretty good, and whether it was wise or not, we decided to go. It was a beautiful, relaxing week and we are so glad we decided to do it.

I took a lot of pictures, which you can see here, but I’ll post some highlights.

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We tried to keep the days low-key but usually had some kind of outing. One favorite was the “secret beach” where the boys paddle-boarded and we all swam and had snacks. It’s hard to see, but that’s Bruce way out there on the paddle-board.

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The water was shallow and warm so we all took a dip. We’d come with the idea of having lunch but in true Belizean fashion, the restaurant had run out of gas so they couldn’t cook anything. Chips and salsa came to the rescue. And Orange Fanta, of course.

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The next day we drove Jamma’s golf cart up to X’Tan Ha resort for lunch and swimming/snorkeling off their dock.

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In the afternoon we relaxed on our dock …

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… and had a visit from a ray.

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In the evening we went to Rojo for a great dinner, a game of pool (for the boys), and a snuggle with the local cat.

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We had a fabulous, unconventional Thanksgiving day which included a snorkeling trip, a stop for lunch on Caye Caulker, and a delicious dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen. First, the snorkeling trip. The time we spent around the reef was just okay, unfortunately. We have experienced a visible change and degradation in the reef since our first trip in 2010. There were such stunning, vibrant colors then, and now everything just looks brown and gray. Luckily, we had a couple of other stops which really perked up the trip. First was a chance to see a manatee. We’d heard they’d been hanging out in certain spots and we were able to see one at the second place we looked. It was amazing! No photos, of course, but it made quite an impact on all of us.

We also stopped at Shark Ray Alley where Bruce and Ezra swam with the nurse sharks and rays.

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On Caye Caulker, we had lunch and then walked a bit of the island to meet up with our boat. The boys played a little horseshoes while we waited.

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Then, back on the boat and headed home.

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After a nice rest back at the house, we got “dressed up” for dinner.

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Dinner was really good — food, wine, and atmosphere. It was also surprisingly pleasant to not be the ones cooking!

The next day, we flew over to the mainland to spend our last night in Belize at the Zoo Lodge. We’ve been to the zoo lots of times, but we’d not stayed overnight. We booked an adorable little cabin perched above the pond.

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The room was comfortable and we had a visitor.

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Can you see him?

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In the evening we had dinner at the lodge and then went to the zoo for a night tour. First, the boys held the snake at the visitor center.

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I don’t have good pictures from the tour, unfortunately, but we saw big cats and small cats, owls, a tapir, and more. The tapir got really excited and peed … on Finn! Luckily, Finn wasn’t bothered by it because it was right at the start of our tour.

The next morning after breakfast Bruce and I took a little hike around the grounds. It was really beautiful and quiet — a perfect end to our trip.

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We had a long travel day awaiting us, and a very late arrival back home, but as always, it was worth it.

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.

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And the bridge!

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

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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.

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And kids with bowls of ice cream.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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The next day we went to the San Diego Zoo.

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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!

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We spent a little time outside too.

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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And then we headed back.

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

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

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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!

Carmel

Shortly after returning from Big Basin, the boys and I went to Carmel for a couple of days with Christina, Henry, and Julia. It was fun to see their house there and discover how beautiful Carmel is. It was chilly, but that didn’t stop the kids from wanting to spend time at the beach (of course). There was the obligatory digging and building.

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After that, we went on a nice walk through town. The reward was the candy store.

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The next morning, Christina and I went on a moms-only walk and had breakfast at a little cafe. It was a great way to start the day.

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After we got our acts together and dragged the kids off their devices, we went to the Aquarium. We didn’t stay very long but we had a good time.

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We had another round of building on the beach before we headed home. Finn and Julia even braved the water … a little bit.

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Great trip!

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Big Basin Camping 2017

We kicked off the summer with a camping trip to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We rode bikes, took hikes, whittled, relaxed at the campsite, made s’mores — all of the usual camping activities.

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Ezra was beyond thrilled to discover that Base Fake Fake (as explained in my 2015 entry here) was still there.

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Here are a few other shots from the trip. Ezra whittling:

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Finn roasting a marshmallow:

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Melting pennies on the fire:

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I took a few shots on one of our hikes. We found a gazillion banana slugs.

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It’s really something to be among the redwoods.

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SoCal Visit

On May 20th, right after Finn’s piano recital, we headed down to SoCal for a sad purpose — the funeral of Bruce’s stepdad, Jay. Despite the circumstances, it was great to see all of Bruce’s siblings and get all the cousins together. I didn’t take enough pictures, but here’s one of some of the cousins. It was like a meeting of the minds at this table.

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One of the tasks for the siblings was cleaning out the condo. Of course, treasures abounded. Here are a few.

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The funeral was a lovely celebration of Jay’s life. We all enjoyed the eulogy his brother gave with stories we’d never heard. Next time we’re all together, though, we have to do a better job getting photos!

Finn and Bruce’s Bear Valley Trip

As I mentioned in my last post, Finn chose to go on a snowboarding trip for his birthday instead of having a party. He didn’t have to twist Bruce’s arm too much since he wanted to get back on the slopes again too. So, the weekend after Finn’s birthday they went to Bear Valley. They stayed at the Bear Valley Lodge. There was tons of snow.

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They did some snowshoeing.

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Made a giant snowball.

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And had a snowboarding/skiing day.

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Lucky ten-year-old.

Colorado Trip

We spent the last few days of Spring Break in Silverthorne, Colorado with the SoCal Moisions thanks to a generous offer of his cabin from Vanessa’s uncle. The cabin is enormous, with comfortable common areas, a nice kitchen, and, much to the boys delight, a pool table.

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There was still patchy snow on the ground when we arrived, enough for the boys to have a snowball fight.

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The first full day we were there we went snow tubing. I’d never been before and it was super fun.

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The second day we went skiing. I was a little nervous since it’s been eons since I’ve skied and I was worried about getting hurt. Bruce and I took a class for beginners, which was good (and we “graduated” early since we weren’t truly first timers). Here we are all geared up.

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I don’t have any pictures of us actually skiing, which also means I don’t have any of me falling when trying to exit the ski lift. Which is good.

The boys took a snowboarding class. Here’s video of Finn (it takes a while to become apparent where he is).

And here’s Ezra.

They were both very tired by the time we caught up with them in the afternoon and there had been some mishaps. Snow sports are hard, but overall they had a really good time. I thought they looked great out there!

Overnight we had a little snow storm so we woke up to a thin blanket of snow.

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Bruce and I got in a little hike around the property and then we packed up and hit the road. We were all happy to get home to our girls — even allergic Bruce.

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Caples Lake Part II

Towards the end of winter break, Bruce took the boys back to Caples Lake for a few more days of snowy/icy fun. I stayed home where it was warm, so I don’t have a lot of details about the trip. But the pictures he took are stunning. I’ll post them here and perhaps when he has time he will edit this entry to add some specifics.

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IMG_20161231_083616

IMG_0820

IMG_20161231_090032

IMG_20161231_140039

IMG_20161231_180627

More pictures here.