Belated Birthday

We finally got the chance to have a proper birthday celebration for Bruce on October 6th. Even though it was last minute and low key, it was meaningful given where we were on his actual birthday. And the cake was delicious.

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The Rest of September

There were a few normal moments in September, mostly involving cats. Here’s Sophie up on her perch above the kitchen.

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And here’s Emmy being her snuggly self.

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I had the grand honor of sitting on the famous Physics Show bed of nails one Saturday morning when I met one of the Foothill College teachers who puts on the show. It was super fun and the boys were thrilled to see the photo.

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Bruce’s Hospitalization

The blog has been stuck at this spot for a while, and the title of this post might be a clue as to why it’s January and I’m finally writing about a September event. It’s hard to write about the bad days. But, here goes.

On September 9th, Bruce went out for a jog about at around 3:00 pm. That was not unusual, but the call I received from the Palo Alto Police officer around 4:00 was. (It had been determined that he had lost consciousness and fallen, biting his tongue in the process. We later learned that someone had seen him stumbling around and flagged down a police officer who was driving by.) The officer said he’d found him injured and was sending him to the hospital by ambulance. My first thought was, “He’s going to be so mad. He hates going to the hospital!” Figuring this was going to be his “usual” two-day hospital stay, I grabbed some supplies for him (a book, a phone charger, and some clothes) and headed to the ER. He was a little banged up and dirty from his fall, but he didn’t look too bad. Except for his tongue which was completely mangled and very painful.

We waited for hours as they took his medical history, did tests to make sure the incident was caused by his heart and not something else, and stitched up his tongue (not something they usually do but the cut was so bad they decided to). Once he was settled into a regular room on the cardiac ward upstairs, I went home to be with the boys.

The next day I went back to the hospital in the mid-morning and he was still in a lot of pain and his tongue was very swollen. We still had no indication of what was to come when I left after a few hour visit. Some time around 5:00 I got a text from him that his tongue had continued to increase in size and they were worried it was going to block his airway, so they were going to intubate him. I was shocked and terrified. When I got to the hospital Sunday evening, they had just finished the procedure and transferred him to the cardiac ICU (the CCU). He was sedated and hooked up to what seemed like a million tubes and his hands were in restraints so that he wouldn’t pull out the intubation tube. He would occasionally wake up and be scared because he felt like he couldn’t breathe. His nurse kept reassuring him that the machine was breathing for him and all of his numbers looked good, but it was of little comfort.

Over the next several days, he was on heavy painkillers and partially sedated. Thanks to four very helpful visitors (Cari, Laura & Eric, and Janice) I was able to be at the hospital every day for long hours. Bruce had two day-nurses over the five days he was in the CCU, and they were incredibly talented and watchful. Bruce often seemed lucid and would write down questions or try to have a conversation by way of pen and paper, always making jokes. He had the nurses and doctors laughing on more than one occasion. When one group noticed from the whiteboard that it had been his birthday, he wrote down “This is my mid-life crisis” on his piece of paper and laughter erupted.

I took a picture of his whiteboard on Monday because what most occurred to me when I saw it that morning was “worst birthday ever.”

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On Tuesday, when I was about to crack from the stress of seeing the strongest person I know in such a state, his nurse, Jake, asked if he wanted to sit up in bed and dangle his feet over the edge. Of course, Bruce never says no to a challenge, so he did that and then they decided he could also try standing up. Accompanied by “Eye of the Tiger” he stood up, leaned on the walker, and bobbed his head to the beat a little bit. It was a much-needed bit of levity and a sign that he was going to be OK.

The week is now a blur of IVs, medical personnel, and procedures. Here’s his IV pole which gives you an idea of the chaos.

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Here he is after they extubated him on Thursday. He still had the feeding tube in, much to his annoyance.

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And by Friday he was looking pretty good!

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They finally kicked him out of the CCU and transferred him over to the regular cardiac ward to await his ICD. Unfortunately, there were some scheduling delays but he finally got his device and was released the following Wednesday, September 20th. He has made great progress since then, adjusting to the new normal and getting back to all of his regular activities.

I am so grateful for the out-of-town angels who swooped in to take care of my boys and keep some semblance of normalcy during the long hospital stay. I also had help from several local mom friends, and Bruce’s friends at work brought bags and bags of groceries, and even a little piƱata for his birthday.

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School Photos 2017

I finally got around to scanning this year’s school photos. As usual, they are not the best representation but good for posterity. Nothing fits my children better than a forced smile in front of a bland background. At least they switched companies for Finn’s school this year and they took them outside.

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I always like the class photos better and this year is no exception.

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And here’s Ezra’s, which was taken before school even started. He’s still working out how to manage avoiding the fake smile the photographer is inevitably asking for.

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If you want to see all of their years of school photos (in all their glory), click here.

August 2017 Hodgepodge

Mostly my Miscellaneous monthly folders are just random kids and cats photos, but this time I also have a couple from Back to School Night. I loved this drawing and poem Finn made.

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I also have this one a friend sent me from the first assembly at Finn’s school where they highlighted the fifth grade Safety Patrol members. Pretty cute in their hard hats!

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OK, and here’s the kids and cats portion.

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Oh, and some other animals too …

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The West Wing Weekly

On Saturday, August 26th Bruce and I actually got out for a date night! I’d gotten us tickets to the live taping of one of my favorite podcasts, The West Wing Weekly, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. We planned to have dinner around the theatre somewhere, but when we arrived the line for the show was already down the block. (Tickets were general admission seating so we didn’t want to be too far in the back of the line.) So, we nixed our plans for a leisurely dinner and instead wolfed down some pizza and Chianti at the pizza place across the street. Luckily it was delicious and satisfying!

The show was very entertaining — the two hosts welcomed the show’s creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin, for a great conversation. Allison Janney, who played the press secretary, was a surprise guest. My pictures are horrible but here’s one anyway.

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My favorite part was participating in their signature ending:

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Luckily Bruce had fun too because I’m dragging him to another live podcast (Pod Save America) in December!

Solar Eclipse

On August 21st, we joined in the eclipse madness, although we didn’t travel for it, instead opting for the partial eclipse we could see from Palo Alto. Finn’s school provided glasses for all the kids; Ezra took a pair of Google-issued glasses Bruce brought home. They both got to see it while they were at school. Bruce got good views at work thanks to his optical-expert colleagues. I went to the Stanford Dish with some friends to get an unobstructed view with a little exercise on the side.

Here are a couple of shots of our group, organized by my friend Lisa in the white striped shirt.

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And here are my four amateur iPhone photos of the eclipse.

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It was really interesting and fun to see the eclipse … and a little eerie with the way the light changed. Bruce and I decided that we have to travel to get the full effect of the next one!

Braces, Phase II

On the day before school started (August 14th) Ezra got his second set of braces on after a break of about 18 months. He’s got a lot going on and will need oral surgery to coax an errant tooth into place, but for now it was just the top and a little bit on the bottom.

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More than anything, I just thought this scene was funny.

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San Francisco Day Trip

After returning from SoCal, we had about a week and a half before school started. Luckily that coincided with our Pasadena friends, Elizabeth, Edie and Richie’s annual trip to San Francisco to visit family (and friends!). On Thursday, August 10th we drove up to meet them at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park. Elizabeth wanted to see the Summer of Love exhibit before it moved on. Unfortunately, so did seemingly everyone else within a 30 mile radius, so the crowds were tough. I would’ve loved to get a better view had we been able to get closer to the objects, but what we did see was cool. The kids liked this psychedelic room with its furry beanbags.

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In another area of the museum, I enjoyed this giant blown glass still life.

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We also went way up to get a bird’s eye view.

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Next we walked to the Japanese Tea Garden where the kids ran around like crazies.

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After the garden, we went to a park for a while and then we drove to Elizabeth’s mom’s house not too far away. Ezra was completely enthralled by her giant cats! This one is Bob. He was not happy.

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It was a great day, and despite my cursing the traffic, we all had a fabulous time with friends!

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.

Miscellaneous July 2017

A few photos to share … mostly kids and cats.

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Ezra after his first real haircut in years.

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Ezra heading out after his last day of cooking camp. He loved it except for the days he was the only boy.

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Boys and cats …

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Random hockey practice. That’s Finn in the middle of the ice in all that goalie gear.

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Little Free Library Anniversary

In July we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our Little Free Library. Here are its three locations.

Atchison in Pasadena (with the original LEGO door handle)

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Mackay in Palo Alto

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Louis in Palo Alto

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This year it survived all of our rain and flooding as well as a broken window. It also got a geocache courtesy of some neighbors. LFL 2397 is still going strong!

Half Moon Bay

On July 15th we decided to beat the heat by making a return visit to Half Moon Bay. The bike/pedestrian trail had been reopened in the spot that was closed when we were there two years ago, so we were looking forward to a longer ride. Well, Bruce and I were looking forward to the longer ride. The boys, not so much. But, we planned to bribe them with food which usually works.

Sadly, we were not the only people who decided the beach was a good plan that day. We sat in horrendous traffic on the way there (and the way back!) but we finally made it. I only have one good shot from our day as it’s pretty hard to take photos while riding a bike.

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Here’s the one I took accidentally when I almost dropped my phone after taking the first picture.

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At any rate, we had a lovely day. The scenic ride and delicious lunch were worth sitting in traffic.

Skylights

We finally found a household chore that Ezra will do without complaint: Cleaning the skylights. He loves being up on the roof so it’s a perfect fit.

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