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.

Christmas 2017

We got geared up for Christmas pretty early this year and got our tree on December 9th. It was not the cats’ favorite day, as you can tell from the look on Emmy’s face here. They generally are not in favor of any changes in the house, but putting a tree in the living room with a bunch of shiny, dangly things is really just too much.

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We had a nice time decorating it and were happy with the new spot we chose this year.

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There were some cat shenanigans and a few fallen ornaments in the weeks we had the tree up, but it was okay.

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Mainly they just liked to hide under the tree.

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After some delay because of lighting issues, we got the Little Free Library decorated again too.

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Jamma arrived on the 21st and we were ready to celebrate! While Bruce was working on Friday, the rest of us saw a great LEGO exhibit in downtown Palo Alto and then had surprisingly good Mexican food for lunch and a little run around time in the park. On Saturday, we all saw Coco which we loved. I cried like a baby, such a sweet movie.

On Christmas Eve we had a feast of ham, scalloped potatoes, glazed carrots, and homemade rolls.

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After dinner, we braved the cold to walk off a little bit of what we’d eaten. Poor Jamma was a little chilly but a good sport.

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As usual we were exhausted but managed to get everything ready for the morning before hitting the hay. I always love the peacefulness of late Christmas Eve.

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We had a good time Christmas morning with the present-opening extravaganza, although I mostly just have pictures of the cats checking out the mess. But here’s one of Finn.

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Once the boys discovered they had one more present outside, they had a wicked foosball game going.

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But mostly they loved the wacky stuff from Vat 19, including the sticky poo. Oy.

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Oh, and the Emmy socks!

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We were sad to see Jamma go a couple of days later, but we had a nice visit. I’m sure she misses us but is happy to be back to reasonable temperatures!

Ezra’s Living Skills Class

Ezra took a “Living Skills” elective this year, mainly because it’s a prerequisite for the Advanced Cooking class he wants to take next year. It’s been great — he made himself a pair of pajamas, learned how to do laundry, and had a long section on cooking. That part has benefitted us all, especially on December 23rd when he decided to make egg drop soup for dinner.

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It was delicious!

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Meanwhile, Finn, Jamma, and Bruce played a wicked game of Monopoly.

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Ezra also made a gingerbread house at school right before break, which was pretty cool.

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I love that he took this class and I’m looking forward to more cooking from him in the future!

Finn’s Trumpet Presentation

On December 19th Finn’s music class at school had an informal presentation. It was in the classroom and included some instructional bits from his music teacher. I really enjoyed seeing how the teacher and students interacted in this setting. They’ll have a more formal concert later in the year, but this one was relaxed and fun. I have several videos of Finn here, but here’s one of them.

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At one point, they turned the tables and made the parents play the instruments. Luckily, we got instruction from the kids! It’s really hard!

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He’s had his ups and downs with the trumpet this year, but he really seems to be getting the hang of it and enjoying himself.

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Christy’s Birthday 2017

When my birthday rolled around this year, we didn’t really have a plan to celebrate. Or rather, I didn’t have a plan but apparently the rest of the family did. The boys sent Bruce and me out on a dinner date, and while we were gone they got everything set up for a birthday cake celebration. So sweet!

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(It totally looks like I’m about to sneeze right on that cake, doesn’t it? I didn’t.)

We took some silly pictures after dessert.

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It was perfect.

Leaves in the Trampoline

November was truly the Fall season in our neighborhood — we had so many leaves! Ezra immediately saw an opportunity for fun and started collecting them one day to put in our trampoline. Here’s the first day’s work.

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But he didn’t stop there. He enlisted Finn’s help and pretty soon the street was clean and there was a huge mound in the trampoline.

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They had a super fun time jumping in the leaves, and it was perfect for a slo-mo video.

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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.

Finn’s Outdoor Science School

This year Fairmeadow changed its traditional fifth grade trip from the one-night Age of Sail trip that Ezra did to a three-night Outdoor Science School in Santa Cruz. Finn was mostly excited but had some nerves the morning they were set to leave. It’s hard to tell from the photos though.

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The parents in Finn’s class didn’t hear anything from the teacher for the whole trip, which was pretty nerve-wracking especially considering other teachers were posting photos and updates. But we did finally get access to all the photos so we got a glimpse of what the camp was all about. There are a lot of photos in that album but here are the ones I could find of Finn.

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He was tired and a little overwhelmed when he got back, but after a few minutes to regain his footing he was full of stories and excitement. He and I had a nice lunch just the two of us.

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We were all happy to have him back home — the house is too quiet without him!

Finn Gets His Cast Off

Finn got to get out of the cast a little early because he was headed to Outdoor Science School and we were going to Belize for Thanksgiving — both places not very conducive to keeping a cast dry. The doc said the cast could come off and be replaced with a hard brace for the last few weeks. Here are pictures of the cast right before it came off.

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The arm looked weird to me — swollen and curvy — but the doc assured us that the break was healing properly.

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And here’s the new brace.

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Ezra’s Tooth Extraction

After the joy of Halloween candy, Ezra had to pay the piper and get his errant tooth extracted. It was a doozy that required oral surgery but he came through it like a champ. He looked a little worse for wear that first day …

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Good thing we have comfort kitties.

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That is a big tooth.

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I was worried about his recovery having had a tooth extracted myself and it was the worst, but he did just fine. He was allowed unlimited screen time, and between that and a few Advils, we barely heard a peep out of him.

Halloween 2017

The pumpkin masters were at it again this year. Well, three of us are pretty much the grunt workers and one of us does the fine details. Thanks to Bruce, pumpkin carver extraordinaire, we always have excellent decorative gourds.

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The boys wore their costumes to school on Halloween. Here’s a picture I got in the parking lot before they took off.

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Finn had done his fork in conjunction with his friend Satvik’s knife:

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They were a big hit in their last Fairmeadow Halloween Parade.

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Later everyone met here and went out for trick or treating. Here are Ezra and Henry.

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And Finn, Satvik and Kyuhyun.

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The big kids went on their own, but I did get a few pictures of the fifth graders trick or treating.

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Massive amounts of sugar were collected, traded, and consumed.

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And the cats were a little confused.

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Another great Halloween in the books!

Halloween Costumes 2017

Halloween is bigger than Christmas for the project-loving Moision boys, and this year was no exception. Well, except that Bruce had the hospital detour and some restrictions on his activity level this year so we had to pare down a bit. Ezra in particular had some very elaborate ideas that just weren’t possible this year, but he took it in stride and ended up with a great costume. Here are some photos of the process for both Ezra’s goat and Finn’s fork.

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Finn’s fork went through a couple of iterations — first cardboard which didn’t quite work out and then chicken wire covered with Papier-mâché.

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Bruce’s Account of His Hospitalization

On September 9th, a Saturday, I headed out for a mid-day jog. A little four-mile loop. An old habit. A mile or so in I started to feel light-headed. I’d been feeling this way on runs for several months–years, actually, although it would go away for long periods. This year it had become more frequent and severe. I slowed to a walk to wait for it to lift, which it usually did.

The next thing I recall a police officer was accosting me: “Hey! I need you to sit down!” I remember thinking “what’s your problem?” and “fine, fine, … ” as I sat on a curb. “What’s your name?” he asked, and I thought “That’s weird, I don’t know my name.” He kept asking questions and things started to come back. An ambulance came and took me to the ER.

It turns out I had had a small heart-attack–a ventricular fibrillation, they think–passed out, fell and hit my head. A passer-by had waved down the officer who was politely but forcibly getting my attention. I’ve had an undiagnosed heart condition for twenty years. It’s resulted in several heart attacks, but I’d never lost consciousness.

The next part is a bit of a jumble. I don’t remember when I noticed my tongue hurting, but I had bit it badly. In the ER they decided to stitch it closed. They debated how many stitches to put in. Four. That hurt. Then a hematoma formed and my tongue swelled up like a balloon. They decided to intubate me before my tongue shut off my breathing. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate the significance of the intubation at the time.

Being intubated and partially sedated was awful. I would wake and it felt like I was suffocating. Christy and the nurse kept assuring me I was safe. They’d tell me they could read my blood oxygen level and it was fine. But it felt like I couldn’t breathe, which was frightening. I’d eventually talk myself into being ok, but I’d come in and out of consciousness and every time I rewoke I’d go through it again. I really, really, wanted to get out. Throughout this time I communicated by writing on a clipboard. I’d write, to Christy, “How much longer?” and “How many more hours?” I don’t remember how she answered but she knew it was days. At some point they tied my hands down so I wouldn’t tear out the tubes but I don’t remember it.

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I’ve since read that intubation can be a terrifying experience for some people. Months after I was released I had a bad sore throat and congestion, and I kept waking dreaming I was suffocating. I knew, rationally, that I could breathe, but my constricted throat brought back memories from the hospital. I had to fight panicking. Until now, I hadn’t really understood people who choose not to recall bad experiences. I’d like this memory to fade.

I slowly started to recover. A few days later they decided to extubate me. Extubation was 30 seconds of awful. They had stitched the tube to my nose to keep it from falling out and in one sequence of motions they cut those stitches and pulled the tube out. Starting to breathe again felt like choking. But progress felt great. I’d have been glad to go through much more than that. Taking the feeding tube out was easy. The urinary catheter less so. Anything in the name of progress.

I moved from the cardiac ICU to the cardiac CU, which is adjacent to the ICU. I started to walk slowly around the unit. On every loop we’d pass my cardiac ICU room. It was brightly lit, but my memory of it was as a darkened room. I even asked Christy if it was always so bright. “Yes, always.”

Christy was with me pretty much the entire time, which was unquantifiably comforting. I had a few other visitors as well, but Christy’s presence takes no effort on my part. I declined requests for most visits. I was feeling pretty dejected and not up for the pressure to be positive.

The attending cardiologist recommended a pacemaker. Actually, although I’d call it a pacemaker, it’s an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD. It does more than just re-pace you: it’s a little defibrillator with leads dangling into the chambers of your heart, watching and waiting to shock you. My regular cardiologist had brought up this possibility a few years back and at the time it was startling. I didn’t imagine I’d ever be as ill as someone who needed a pacemaker. Now they were pretty matter of fact about it. You need one. You can’t pass out. It’s dangerous. (I know I keep imagining that the worst part was passing out, and not having a heart attack, but I’m indulging some level of denial.)

I got in the queue for an ICD (I’d still yet to leave the hospital). I had to wait a few days. My roommate, a big, boisterous, overweight guy in his 60s went in ahead of me. He had traveled some way to have the procedure here, which seemed a good sign. “No big deal!” he proclaimed. I finally rolled in to have mine installed. “Hey! Welcome back!” said the nurse. I’d been there a few days earlier for a cardiac catheterization, but didn’t remember any of it. They told me I’d been funny, which I was glad to hear. It was like hearing your stand-in had represented you well.

A day or so later I finally left the hospital. Twelve days. It seemed longer. I’m still adjusting to both the severity of the event and what, if any, changes I need to make going forward. A week after being released I had an appointment with my cardiologist. They were tweaking my medication. “What about drinking alcohol? Is that ok?” I asked. “Oh, I think you could use a drink.” I’ve taken his advice.

 

Finn’s Broken Arm

On October 24th the boys left for school on their bikes just like every other morning. However, about ten minutes later my phone rang with a call from a Palo Alto number I didn’t recognize. Luckily, I always answer unknown local numbers because it was Finn who was distraught, having fallen off his bike. I jumped in the car to go get him and had a bad feeling immediately from the way he was holding his arm. I took him home briefly to have Bruce take a look and drop off his bike, and then we went directly to urgent care. He was pretty miserable, but some bonus screen time seemed to help.

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The x-rays came back as we’d expected — it was broken. Or “transverse fracture of the distal radial metadiaphysis” to be exact.

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He was much more comfortable once they stabilized it in a brace and sling.

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Two days later we went back and got the cast.

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Having a cast on is a pain, but he did enjoy the minor celebrity status it provided.

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Ezra’s Cell-a-bration

Ezra has really been enjoying science class this year, and in October they put their knowledge of cells into action by building models. All of the models were assembled in the cafeteria and families got to come and take a look. I didn’t take many pictures but here are a couple. As usual, Ezra enjoyed explaining the part he made — the vacuole.

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And here’s a longer shot of more of the cell.

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