Bruce at Winnemucca Lake

Continuing their ice fishing quest, Bruce and Andrei made a day trip to Winnemucca Lake in March. Sans children and armed with a longer drill, they gave it another shot.






There were still no fish.

But it was beautiful!



Spring Walk & Roll Day 2017

Way back at the beginning of the school year, I chose to have our Spring Walk & Roll Day in March instead of April because a) we had rain in April last year and b) April is when the standardized testing is happening and I figured everyone already has enough to worry about. Well, point b) was fine, but, unfortunately, we still had to fight the rain. I was really worried we’d have an unsuccessful event, but with the helpful ideas of a veteran Safe Routes rep, we managed to pull off another great W&R day.

It was a family affair — Bruce and Finn both helped make the poster and man the tables.



The poster was a huge success!


Here’s a video that shows all the post-it notes that the kids drew. I really was surprised at the outcome — such enthusiasm and creativity!

Choosing an Instrument

I don’t remember this happening when Ezra was in fourth grade, but this year the District held several events for fourth graders to try out and choose what instrument they’d like to take next year. Finn is interested in either the trumpet or trombone, and despite the ridiculous lines at the event, he got to try each of them.



We’ll see which one he ends up with, and start preparing the sound-proof practice room.

Weekend in Laguna

I got to sneak into SoCal for a weekend in Laguna with Cari in March. It was beautiful and relaxing. I have no pictures of us, but several of the beautiful landscape.




Also, here’s one from the airplane showing how temporarily green California is.


Finn’s Sacramento Field Trip

On March 9th, Finn and I went on the annual fourth grade field trip to Sacramento. I was happy to get to go again since I had a great visit with Ezra’s class two years ago. It’s an early day though! We were on the bus at 6:30 am! Here’s Finn and his friend Floyd setting in for the ride.


There was some confusion at first when our bus tried to drop us off at City Hall instead of the State Capitol building, but soon enough we were where we were supposed to be. We started off with a class picture in front of the building.


Once inside, we waited for our tour time by walking around a bit. Here are a few shots.


Los Angeles County’s display case (every county has one):


Finn in front of the bear that guards the governor’s office:


Our tour guide later told us that Arnold Schwarzenegger bought the bear from an art gallery when he was governor. He also said they call it “germ bear” or “bacteria bear” because everyone touches it. Yuck!

Here are a few shots from our tour. We weren’t able to see the Senate room because there were too many other tours happening but we did see the House. (As an aside, it did seem to be quite a bit busier tour-wise than two years ago. I’m attributing it to everyone’s increased interest in government since our last debacle of a presidential election.)






While our tour guide this time didn’t harass the kids about how they are responsible for taking part in government (a good point with poor execution), this year’s guide wasn’t that great either. He did a pretty good Schwarzenegger impression though. But, he didn’t point out fun things like the tiled California poppies on the floor. Luckily, Finn’s teacher, Mrs. Johnson, did.


After the Capitol, we still had two more stops on our Sacramento tour. Next was Sutter’s Fort, which had another school doing an overnight field trip in costume. Our kids got to see rope and candles being made, as well as the cannon being fired which was a huge hit.




After lunch, our final destination was the Railroad Museum.




Once again I had a little nerdy moment to myself while I admired the place setting display from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe line.


Finn asked me to sit next to him on the way home. I think he had a wonderful day but was just done interacting with friends. Or maybe he just wanted to play games on my phone. (Sad news for him as there aren’t any games on my phone!) It didn’t really matter because about 20 minutes in he was out.


Great day!

Ezra’s 12th Birthday

Bruce and Ezra got home from their snow camping trip in the afternoon of Ezra’s birthday. They were tired, but not too tired to clean up and have a small birthday celebration. All Ezra had on his birthday list was Anki Overdrive paraphernalia, so that’s what he got!



For dinner we had Ezra’s choice of Howie’s pizza delivered and then ice cream cake.



Happy 12th, sweet boy!

Snow Camping

Over the weekend of Ezra’s 12th birthday, he and Bruce went on a snow camping trip with Bruce’s colleague, Andrei, and his son, Edward. They went to Carson Pass and had a fun but chilly time. As with the Christmas break trip, I’m hoping Bruce will fill in the details on this post at some point! For now, here are some photos.






More photos here.

Finn’s Buddy Assembly

On February 24th Finn’s class teamed up with their second grade buddy class for this year’s buddy assembly. They did a version of the book Click Clack Moo which was super cute. They also sang a song — here’s a video.

The video is a little far away, so here’s a picture from after the performance.


Rainy February

It’s not news that we’ve had a lot of rain this year. It’s a good thing — California is digging its way out of the drought — but I am over it. February 20th was peak ridiculousness as the storm drain in front of our house backed up and we had a flood. Here’s Bruce out there trying to work on the clog.


The clog wasn’t anywhere we could fix — somewhere further down the line — and it eventually corrected itself. But while there was a giant puddle in front of the library we needed a solution because the cars driving by were spraying the front of the library. Bruce’s tarp did the trick.


Remarkably, even with all this rain, our well-built little library had no leaks. Kudos to Bruce for good construction.

Ezra’s Egyptian Chariot Project

Last month, Ezra and his classmates completed their unit on Egypt, which culminated in an evening where the kids presented their projects to all the parents. Ezra had been determined from the start to build a full-size chariot. Luckily Bruce was available to facilitate the process because I wouldn’t have known where to start. He had two classmates who were supposed to be helping, but they each only showed up for one day, so it was really Ezra’s thing. Here are some photos of the building process. As usual, he had a very clear vision that needed to be brought to reality.






He was pretty happy with how it turned out.


Here’s the debut ride.


They also made headgear. Ezra wanted to pose with Emmy for the picture.


And here’s a shot of everything together once we got it to school.


On the night of the presentations, he and his teammates gave rides to other classmates. It was a big hit. I’m not sure how much he learned about Egypt in this process, but his enthusiasm was nice to see!

Finn’s Mission Project and Fiesta Day

After weeks of research, writing, and creativity, Finn turned in his mission project on February 9th. He was very proud of his storyboard, which was the required part …


… and his model, which was the optional part.


He and Bruce did a bang-up job, even creating the inside and installing a light. Here’s a peek through the front window.


He was also excited about Fiesta Day and his new sombrero which he wore all the time.


Sophie liked it too.


We are very proud of Finn for doing such a great job on his project!


Fiesta Day was Friday the 10th and the kids learned a dance and got dressed up to perform.


Here’s video.

Here’s a post-dance picture of the whole class.


I left after the dance, but they also had a taco feast, so all in all a great end to the week for Finn!

Mission San Miguel

Finn was assigned Mission San Miguel for his project, so on February 4th we made the 2+ hour trip south to pay it a visit. I was hoping to make it into an overnight adventure, but we just couldn’t make it happen. It turned out to be fine as a day trip, and on the way back we stopped at Mission San Juan Bautista so Bruce could see it. Here’s Finn just after we arrived — he was super happy.


There was a wedding about to happen inside the church so we spent some time outside first.


Here’s the bell tower.


On the side of the church was a small cemetery. This was the entrance.


Inside the side yard …


They had a small museum and store, which we saw next. Finn liked this cannon outside of the store.


After we saw the grounds and the museum, we went inside the church. (The person at the store told us it was OK, that people who get married there understand there will be tourists visiting.) I snapped a couple of pictures.



After the tour we had lunch at a local diner, which was surprisingly good, and then we hit the road. The stop at San Juan Bautista was fairly brief but Finn was excited to show Papa all the things he saw on his field trip. Here are the three of them standing on the original El Camino Real.


At the historic park, they were doing a monthly reenactment and we ran into a couple old-timers at the end of their day. They were very nice and had the boys stand in one of the vats for a photo … which was a little weird.


Finn took a bunch of pictures that day too, which are in a separate album here.

Alex’s Memorial

In November, my sweet cousin Alex passed away after a lifelong battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and various other illnesses. His life was a lesson in perseverance. In addition to adversity the likes of which I can only imagine, there was adventure, poetry, and most of all, love. His parents’ and siblings’ dedication to him and his care and well-being are the most beautiful illustration of family I’ve ever seen.

His memorial service was planned for the end of January in Orange County, so I flew down for the weekend. Luckily, Cari was available so we spent the time together before the memorial on Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect (and a welcome respite from all the NorCal rain). Cari and I went on a couple of walks and spent as much time outside on the deck as possible. Here are a few pictures.





I don’t have any pictures from the memorial service because I was too busy catching up with family and friends. It was a lovely time and I’m glad I got to go.


Mission San Juan Bautista

Finn’s class began studying the California Missions before winter break, and on January 24th we visited Mission San Juan Bautista. I didn’t go on this field trip with Ezra, so this was my first visit. In addition to the Mission itself, the surrounding area is a State Historic Park with many buildings from the 1800s. The kids were split into groups and allowed to explore the Mission and the Historic Park in whatever order they liked. We started at the Park and saw the Plaza Hotel, the Zanetta House/Plaza Hall, the Plaza Stables, and the Castro-Breen Adobe.



Here’s our group outside the jail.


After our lunch break we toured the Mission and its grounds.


There is also a small chapel apart from the main Mission, which I thought was lovely.


There was a little bit of time for running around too.


Here’s a shot of the outside of the Mission.


And one of the whole class.