Christmas Light Ride

There are several local cycling groups that put on group bike rides, and one of them (San Jose Bike Party) does an annual Christmas Light Ride that is family friendly. So, on a very chilly Sunday evening in December, I coerced my family into doing it. Bruce outfitted our bikes with as many lights as we could find. Here we are just before the ride.

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Here are a few more shots before the ride started. It was, as everything in the Bay Area is, unbelievably crowded (fitting with our unofficial Moision Family Bay Area motto: It would be awesome if it weren’t so crowded). But so fun to see all the bikes lit up — some people went all out!

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I took a video during the ride to try to get a feel for the crowd and atmosphere.

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We didn’t end up staying for the whole ride because with that many people it was just a crawl and every time we had to stop at a stop sign or light it took forever. So, mixed results but I’m still glad we did it!

Birthday Weekend in Pasadena

It all started in October when Bruce and I were graciously invited to the Kings/Sharks season opener in San Jose. The Kings lost the game, our starting goalie was seriously injured, and after suffering through the Sharks skating through a giant shark mouth, I texted my friend Sherry to say how much I missed Kings games. Sherry texted back that I should come down for my birthday because there was a game that day. I laughed it off as impossible, but it stuck and lo and behold we made it happen!

So, on December 9th we left about mid-day to beat some of the traffic. We were a little nervous to leave the kittens at home for the first time, but they were in good hands with Detchemendy/Eide family taking care of them. Here’s Julia giving some love to Emmy.

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After finding and settling into our little Airbnb house in Pasadena, we went for dinner at Zankou.

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It was sooooo good.

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In the morning I got up for an early walk which was chilly but beautiful (and not as chilly as I’m used to now!).

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Then we had breakfast with Bob, Vanessa, Reba and Thomas at Du-pars. Great to see them and enjoy some yummy pancakes and french toast. I forgot to take pictures until the very end when Finn was, apparently, grumpy over some slight. It’s a terrible shot, but I’ll put it in anyway for posterity’s sake.

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Soon it was Kings game time. It was a 1:00 game and Sherry had a surprise for me, so we left Pasadena really early. The surprise was a picture with Luc Robitaille, my favorite King. (It was a season ticket holder event with the new 50th anniversary monument that had been rescheduled to the 10th because of rain. Good luck for me!)

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After the picture, we visited the team store (stocking stuffers for the boys) and had a drink before the game started. It was a great game — not too stressful and the Kings won 4-1.

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While I was at the game, Bruce and the boys met Rob and Chapin and went ice skating at the Pasadena Ice Rink. Chatty Finn even managed to get a reluctant Chapin to try skating, so success all around! After that Bruce took the boys to visit the Bates, where I met up with them after the game. We had a lovely visit with Colleen, Darryl, Emily, and of course, the boys’ favorite, Molly.

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From there we hustled up to to Altadena for the Christmas Tree Lane lighting ceremony. We’d missed the Pintos’ pre-party but saw some friends briefly. It was super crowded! But such a fun hometown event.

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We managed to catch up with the Bannings for a few minutes so I got a shot of the kids together.

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And, more importantly, we found Erin who was going to babysit the boys while we went out for a celebratory dinner with Cari and Rob.

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We finally settled on a restaurant (Little Beast in Eagle Rock) and I actually thought to have the hostess take our picture, which never happens. Actual documentation of an adult outing, yay!

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We had a lovely time, exactly what I was hoping for to celebrate our birthdays.

The next morning, Cari and I got to have a walk together — in person, not by phone! I was happy to get some extra Cari time, knowing she had a busy Sunday and I wouldn’t see her again. As an aside, we stumbled on not one but two Little Free Libraries on our walk! They were numbers 24482 and 30115.

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After that, we cleared our stuff out of the Airbnb and drove up to the Heffernans’ for breakfast. Jerri had to work that day so she invited us up for a visit before she had to leave. Here’s a shot of all the kids.

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Our last stop was a park play date to catch up with long-lost friends. So many Cottage, Aveson and neighborhood friends showed up! Bob, Vanessa and Thomas came too for some added family time. It was a lovely meet up for us. I was too busy visiting with everyone to take many pictures, but here are a few.

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After a late lunch at Ginger Corner Market across from the park, it was time for us to go home. I got one last picture from Christina of the kittens getting some love, so we knew they were doing well.

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Our drive was long as usual, but thankfully traffic was pretty light. We were all exhausted, but it was a perfect birthday weekend.

Duets

Finn and his piano teacher (Heidi Saario) spent the last lesson of 2016 doing Christmas duets. It was super cute and I recorded them all. Here’s Deck the Halls which was Finn’s favorite of the bunch.

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There are five more (short) songs. You can see them all here.

Christmas Decorating 2016

We got an early start (for us) on Christmas decorating this year because we were going to be out of town on the weekend we would normally do it. Even then, it kind of happened by accident. We were putting up the library ornament on the first Sunday in December and wanted to put up house lights but we no longer had our old house lights. So, off to OSH we went. On our way out of the store, we decided to pick up a tree too. Bruce got the house lights up quickly and everything looked very festive!

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It was fun to get out all of our Christmas ornaments again since we didn’t decorate at all last year because we weren’t going to be home. Finn was sick but Ezra helped decorate the tree.

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We had a few ornaments that didn’t survive the move. One (Ezra’s snorkeler) just needed a repair. When we noticed it was broken, I told him to put it in the kitchen for Bruce to superglue it back together. This is what I found when I walked into the kitchen later.

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Even though the tree drove the cats crazy with curiosity, they loves sleeping under it.

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Once the tree was done, the boys worked on the train.

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Here’s a short video.

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We didn’t end up running the train much, unfortunately, because everyday the cats knocked it over. Also, they kept scooting the tree skirt around which blocked the tracks. Oh well, they only ended up breaking one ornament so I’m going to call that a win.

Vintage Christmas Party

December 3rd gave us not only Finn’s piano recital but also a Vintage Christmas Party put on by a couple of our favorite Fairmeadow moms. These are our hostesses, Karen and Christina, and as you can tell from their outfits and the decorations behind them, they went all out.

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Bruce and I got dressed up vintage style as well, although I just couldn’t manage the 50s-60s hair. But I did get a petticoat and I pulled out my mother’s pearls which were definitely from that era.

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Bruce decided to go with 50s NASA engineer. I tried to get him to shave off his facial hair (which I’m pretty sure was a no-no among that ilk at the time) but he wouldn’t do it. We did manage to make a pretty accurate recreation of the pocket contents and a NASA badge. He also had his calculator on his belt like a holster.

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Here are some more pictures from the evening. Super fun!

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Finn’s Second Piano Recital

Finn had his second piano recital last month. He played Green Tea and Jingle Bells. He looked pretty sharp in the outfit he picked out. He really wanted to wear the jacket.

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Here’s the video of his performance.

And here’s the whole group of students with their teacher, Heidi Saario.

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December Bike Ride

My bouts of vertigo this year have really kicked my butt and kept me from doing some of the things I love. I’ve missed a lot of the regular weekly hikes I used to go on, as well as the occasional bike rides with that group. So, the fact that I was feeling good and had no scheduling conflicts was very exciting when a ride came up on December 2nd. I rode 16.44 miles with two friends, Sonya and Leslie. Here we are at the half-way point.

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And here’s our route info.

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Hopefully 2017 will bring better health for me!

Caples Lake Fishing Trip

On the day after Thanksgiving, Bruce and the boys went with one of his colleagues, Andrei, to Caples Lake in the Sierra for a fishing trip. As the plan was for them to leave at 2:30 in the morning, spend the day in the freezing weather, and then drive back in the evening, I passed. I did have a twinge of jealousy when I saw the gorgeous photos Andrei’s wife took, but not enough to really make me regret my decision to stay warm and cozy at home. Here are some of those photos. The boys had a really good time.

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There are more pictures here.

They got home safe and sound, sans fish, but looking forward to going again!

Thanksgiving 2016

We spent Thanksgiving in our own home — the first holiday we’ve had at home since we moved. Now that we actually have a house we want to spend time in, it was a nice change to have a holiday there. It was, however, quite mellow as it was just the four of us. Everyone pitched in to prepare the feast.

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The kittens got a special treat — some turkey — which they loved.

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In the evening we walked down to the Detchemendy/Eides’ house for dessert and wine which definitely helped the day feel more festive. Alas, we were having such a nice time that I forgot to take any pictures.

FSOC Party 2016

After Baris’s departure from Bruce’s work group, he thought it would be a good idea to get the remaining team members together for an outside-of-work morale booster. Of course, between the time we set the date for the party (early November) and the actual party date (November 19th), the election happened. We were all pretty depressed, and work had continued in Baris’s absence well enough that we thought the party might not be such a good idea. However! We had the party anyway and we’re so glad we did! We had a great potluck with lots of wonderful food, a new cornhole tournament (with Devin defending his title much to Bruce’s chagrin), and a new game of LED bocce ball that Bruce made up.

I have no pictures from the actual event, which is actually a sign that it was a fun party. But here’s one of Ezra demonstrating the LED bocce game. It’s basically LED lights and batteries taped onto magnets and thrown at a board to see who could get closest to a target. It was fun!

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And here’s the cornhole tournament board showing Devin’s win.

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It was all in good fun, but I’m pretty sure Bruce will try to avenge his loss again next year. It’s also a good sign that many guests were already talking about upping their game, assuming there would be a rematch.

Cal Academy Field Trip

On November 15th I drove Ezra and four other boys to San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences. I don’t have very many pictures because I was mostly trying to make sure the boys did the worksheet they were supposed to do and that no one wandered off which was a real possibility with our group. We spent the first part of our visit in the earthquake area learning about tectonic plates and experiencing the quake room they have there. Here’s Ezra at a game about how the continents have moved around.

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We also spent some time in the room with the penguins. They were definitely a hit.

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We made a quick stop to see the albino alligator which was, thankfully, pretty far away.

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We visited a couple of other areas, and of course, the gift shop, and we had lunch there before heading back to school. The boys were all bummed that we were back in time for their last class.

Election Day 2016

We were very excited for this year’s election to finally happen. We’d decided to put our American flag on the Little Free Library for the day …

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… and I’d been holding onto a copy of the Constitution to put inside.

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I should’ve known this day was going to go horribly wrong when a grumpy woman who walks past me all the time without even so much as a nod took the Constitution before 7:00 am.

At any rate, we began the day with a lot of nervous enthusiasm. Our polling place was right across the street, so we had the boys go with us to turn in our absentee ballots before school started. We all got our I Voted stickers. Ezra put his on his wall; Finn proudly wore his to school.

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I decided to use some of my nervous energy on a bike ride and hike at the Stanford Dish Loop. It was a beautiful day.

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In the afternoon, I switched to my Pantsuit t-shirt …

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… and got ready for the election results to start rolling in. As it became more and more clear that the unthinkable was happening, our moods sunk into the abyss of realization that this is really our country now. I was so hoping that we could just put the whole Trump fiasco behind us, but alas, it will be years-long.

The next day the boys and I drowned our sorrows in ice cream.

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Nearly a month later, and we’re still trying to come to grips with this reality. I suspect it’ll take a very long time.

Alcatraz

We finally got our act together and booked a trip to Alcatraz on November 5th. I’d previously tried in the summer but tour space is limited and there was never any room. Even for the November date I had to book several weeks in advance. However, it was super interesting and I’m very glad we finally did it.

We took the ferry over and then got the audio tour, which we’d heard was really good. It did not disappoint! Here are some pictures of our visit.

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Dreary!

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This was the library.

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Kitchen, with knife diagrams so the guards could easily tell if one was missing.

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The buildings have not held up to the weather very well.

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The audio tour did a great job explaining the different escape attempts, and they’d recreated the cells of the prisoners who famously tried to escape — especially the ones they never found.

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Here’s a shot of the boys after we left the main prison building.

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And here is an outside shot looking back at San Francisco.

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After the tour we walked around for a little bit, but everyone was getting pretty hungry by that time. We took the next ferry back to the city and had lunch there. Here’s a shot from the ferry. The skies were finally clearing.

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And here’s a shot looking back at Alcatraz.

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I don’t think it’s something I need to do more than once, but I’m really happy we went!

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Filoli Field Trip

On November 3rd I drove and chaperoned Finn and a few classmates to Filoli for a docent-led hike. Filoli has a 16-acre formal garden and a mansion, but we weren’t there for those things. We were there to hike in their nature preserve, which has a couple of good examples of ground shifts due to earthquakes, a focus of the fourth grade curriculum. We did walk through a part of the formal garden on our way out to the nature preserve; here’s my one photo. Very manicured (and a little fussy for my taste).

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Here’s our group and our docent, who pretty quickly lost patience with our talkative bunch.

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Here are a few more shots.

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We stopped in this spot by the little bridge because it’s right on the San Andreas Fault. The ground has shifted quite a bit there are two plates (the American and the Pacific) which move in opposite directions.

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We saw examples of this on another field trip when Ezra was in fourth grade, but I thought it was much more visible here.

I didn’t take very many pictures but it was a gorgeous day. Here’s one last shot from when we were walking back towards the cars.

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Finn’s California Passport Project

This year, it’s Finn’s turn to do the fourth grade California Passport project. He chose to do it on Jamma, which meant he could do most of it on his own. He took great initiative contacting her with questions and putting it all together. I helped with photos and proofreading, and Bruce helped with the visual aids for his class presentation. Here’s a slideshow of the passport booklet.

And here he is meeting with the “governor of California” (his wonderful teacher, Mrs. Johnson) before his presentation.

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Here’s the video of his speech.

And the speech written out.

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Lastly, here’s his grade report. Well done, Finn!

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