This year John and Deanna, and the Haller family drove up to our house for Thanksgiving. Michael had come up earlier in the month to visit for a couple of days but had to work this weekend so couldn’t join us. Jeanine, Wade, Luke, and Olivia came up on Monday which gave us a chance to head for the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday. Elizabeth and I had wanted to go since we watched a Netflix show that featured the animals there. They stayed the whole week and John and Deanna came up on Wednesday. On Thursday Sandy cooked an enormously delicious meal while we all took a car ride to the top of nearby Mount Diablo to give her some space. The ride down was fun since we did it in John’s rental car with the gas gauge on E the whole time. The dinner was fantastic and Jeanine added lots of sides to the turkey and ham we had. The next day everyone left and it was just the four of us again. Sad that they’re gone, but we know we’ll visit them down there again soon.
While I was in Atlanta Elizabeth got an award for high scores on last year’s STAR testing. Daniel got the award every year he was at her school and she’s once again keeping up with her older brother. And even though he doesn’t go to school there anymore, he also got an award for his fifth grade STAR scores. Then this month, report cards came out and Daniel got a 3.8 GPA for the semester and is officially an honor student. He got an award and a sticker at a ceremony at the middle school gym. Then just yesterday, without telling us to come and watch, Elizabeth got two more awards. Sandy and I are so proud and know they will keep making us so.
Elizabeth is reading a series of books called Warriors and since its about clans of cats, she ended up being a cat for halloween. Sandy made the the costume and even painted her kitty mask. Daniel wanted to be the black spy from Spy vs Spy. It was an easy costume, just lots of black clothes and a hood but Sandy had to make his mask too. Elizabeth wore her costume to school and got to march in the school parade. But, at Dan’s school, they could wear costumes, but weren’t allowed to wear masks, so since his costume doesn’t make sense without the long white pointy face, and there’s no middle school costume parade either, he waited until Halloween night to wear his. Friends came over and they all trick-or-treated together. We watched Monster House, which has become a Halloween tradition here it seems, then they had a little bit of candy and went to bed. The next day we bought their candy from them for toys and I donated it to the control tower where its lasted just a couple of days.
For our 21st, Sandy and I wanted to spend the weekend with the kids so we packed them up and headed to the Monterey Aquarium for the day. It isn’t nearly as massive or whale sharked as the Georgia Aquarium, but it beats it out on location. This aquarium is really on the ocean and the bay becomes part of the attraction, as the otters, seals and jellies we saw in the wild were as much fun to watch as anything in the tanks. After lunch on the water we stayed at a hotel in San Jose that was across from a Mitsuwa Marketplace. That night we ate Japanese food and the kids picked up some toys from the Japanese bookstore there.
The next day we headed to the Tech Museum in San Jose. Lucky for us it was a very slow day since almost all of the exhibits were hands on and it wouldn’t have been fun if we had to wait for crowds. We got to learn about computers and robots and even some genetics. Elizabeth took the time to grow bacteria in a lab that she got to observe online the next day. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.
My union sent me to a class in Atlanta and realizing that I probably would only ever visit that city once in my life, I went sightseeing whenever I could. The class was held in the very nice Westin downtown and my room had a great view. I only had one day to myself and I used it to visit the Cyclorama, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Georgia Aquarium.
The Cyclorama is a gigantic diarama/painting of the Battle of Atlanta from the Civil War. The painting lines the walls of a large round room and is about three stories tall. In front of the painting along the floor is a three dimensional depiction of more of the battle that integrates into the painting. And in the middle of the room is a slowly rotating grandstand that gives people a complete view of the scene. I was impressed with both the technology and the painting, but after spinning around twice I was kind of bored with it. It’s kind of old and dusty and while it must be seen once, that is probably is enough.
After that I went to the Margaret Mitchell House which is the apartment where she wrote most of Gone with the Wind. I’ve been a big fan of the book since I first read it in high school. I’ve since read it twice more and even a couple of sequels that took the story in very different directions. I’ve seen the movie more times that I can remember and have a copy on DVD in case I want to watch it again. But I’m not a fan of this site. For one, she only lived in a small apartment on the first floor of building which burned down before it was reconstructed to be a tourist attraction. None of the furnishings in the apartment were hers although they were period appropriate. The tour was short and not all that informative. I can say I’ve been there but that’s all I took away from the place.
From there, I went to the Georgia Aquarium. I wasn’t expecting much, I mean this is Atlanta which is not very close to any oceans. But, it was amazing. It is easily the largest aquarium that I’ve been to and it has whale sharks. I’ve seen them on TV but in real life they are ever so much more impressive. Up to now my favorite fish tank has been the giant deep ocean tank at Monterey, but I have a new favorite. This one is similar but so much more, and it include a tunnel to go through it. The massive size of the whale sharks and the giant rays kind of draws all of the attention but there are lots of other fish there too. If this was the only tank, it would be enough, but thats only about a sixth of the whole aquarium. There were fresh water sections, sea otters, penguins, beluga’s, dolphins, and lots and lots of other exhibits.
All of the rest of my time in Atlanta was spent going to class, spending a night bar hopping with my classmates and instructors, and getting to and from the airport (easily the crazy-biggest airport I’ve ever been in.) I can’t see going back for anything except the aquarium and don’t ever see that happening.
Once upon a time, when we first moved into our new house more than 12 years ago, Sandy and I went to a Christmas Party at a neighbors house that the whole neighborhood seems to remember because…. While standing next to a candle, my shirt caught fire. Not a big fire, just enough to catch the attention of everyone while I danced around patting out the flames. Thus was born the Burning Man. So when I turned fifty, my wonderful neighbors threw me a Burning Man Party. There was even a tiny little burning man, who unlike me at that first party, was totally immolated. The kids went swimming, the adults went drinking, everyone went eating and having a great time.
The next week when I actually turned fifty, my family threw me a more intimate party with a cake, ice cream, presents and dinner at a sushi restaurant. Best day ever. I got a lego iPhone case, ton of “fifty-ish” gifts from the Hallers, some puzzles, and a Roku to watch all the stuff that’s not on Apple TV. I was a little down about the age, but friends and family brought me right back up again. And now that I’m officially retirement-eligible, if work gets to be awful, I can just quit and still get paid.
This summer dan worked at the Dublin Library helping younger kids in their reading program. He volunteered one or two hours a week for much of the summer and in the end had a volunteer party. The gift bag he got at the party had two tickets to an A’s game and he took his dad. We had a great time but hardly anyone was at the game. It was a school night but we still expected more people for a first place, playoff-bound team. Because it was a school night, and we were already snacked out, and it was turning into a rare Athletics loss, we left early and took BART home.
I was so happy that all of us could go to a Dodger game this year, especially with my favorite team doing so well. After the museum we headed to the stadium and met Jeanine, John, Deanna and Tura. It was a great game with good food and a fun time and the Dodgers won. It was great getting to see them during their World Series winning season!
We finally got a chance to go where Elizabeth chose for Girls Day back in March. Wade, Mike, Luke, and Olivia took us to the LA Natural History Museum to see dinosaurs. (Jeanine had to work that day.) In addition to the dinosaurs we saw lots of other stuffed animals, some living ones and lots of butterflies in a garden outside the museum. Afterwards we headed across town to see the Dodger game.
Dan wanted to go to Legoland for Boys Day back in May, but when he found out that we could go to Universal Studios instead, he readily agreed. And it was just a coincidence that we ended up going on Sandy’s birthday. There was lots for the adults and Dan and Liz to do, but I felt bad because there wasn’t so much for Luke and Olivia. Although Luke was just tall enough to ride the Transformers ride. Everyone got to enjoy the backstage tram tour and it was my favorite part. Dan and Elizabeth loved the Jurassic park ride. It ended up being a bit too expensive and a bit too crowded, but we all still had a great time and it was a must see. After the park we went to dinner at a western place at the park’s entrance and while the food was just okay, it was fun watching Wade riding the bucking bronco machine. Later when we got back to the hotel, Sandy opened up some cards and presents. She got three cases. A makeup case, an iPad case, and an iPhone case. By then it was too late and we were too tired to do anything else. We still owe Sandy a birthday cake.
Our first morning in Long Beach woke up to ants in our hotel room followed by a very confusing “free breakfast” that ended up not being free at all. But the day got better when we went with the Hallers to see Pixar’s Planes at Disney’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. The movie was okay, actually kind of less than okay as it seemed the Pixar people just phoned this one in. But the theater tried to make up for it with a little bird show and a tiny little one room aviation museum in the basement. And the day got much much better when we all went to John and Deanna’s house for a back yard barbecue. There was lots of food, and lots of room for the kids and dogs to play in. It was a fun time and a nice change from all the eating out and running around we usually do when we visit.
In addition to the normal summer of swimming, Daniel and Elizabeth tried some new summer sport camps this year. Daniel tried two golf camps and seemed to like them so much, he has joined the year round golf academy at the San Ramon Golf Club near our house. Elizabeth went back to skating which she tried a couple of years ago. Unfortunately she outgrew the skates we bought for her back then and had to use rental skates which never seem to fit quite right. Both kids also went to tennis camp with some friends from school and had lots of fun.
We just got back from almost two weeks in Hawaii and we already want to go back. It was great hanging out with family, going to the beach, eating lots of wonderful food and playing tourist. We were there for Grandma’s birthday and started out the week going out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate. The kids loved hanging out with Jordan and the three of them spent lots of time chasing the hundreds of lizards that thrive in Grandpa’s back yard. Dan got Jordan and Miles to play this new card game he got called Munchkin and ended up playing almost every night before bed time. There were trips to the beach, hiking, sightseeing, the Bishop Museum, the state Farm Fair and lots of shopping and eating. We spent one morning visiting the spot at Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery where Jeanine spread Mom’s ashes. It’s a beautiful spot with a great view that she would have loved and visiting it made us all miss her again. We spent our last day going over old pictures and then going to a fantastic buffet, full of foods that are hard to find at home. We can’t wait until our next visit. Scroll down for two albums full of more pictures.
Father’s Day was the last day I would work in the old Oakland Air Traffic Control Tower. My job was just to sit and be ready in case there were problems with the new tower. So, since I wouldn’t be responsible for controlling traffic, I asked the Daniel and Elizabeth if they wanted to come to work with me and they jumped at the chance. This would be the last chance that we would be able to visit both the old North and South towers so we took the opportunity to do both and visit the new tower, too. For most of the day I answered phones and the kids and I played board games and ate food that Sandy packed. Later when we got home, I opened new shoes and new bike helmet and Sandy made both eggs and pasta for me, two of my most favorite foods along with bacon.
Daniel was promoted into sixth grade and out of elementary school today. There was a graduation-type ceremony where he got a Presidential Education Award for reading, right before getting his certificate of promotion. We then watched a video before having refreshments and gathering in the school courtyard to celebrate. Now instead of a Frederiksen Panther, he’s now a Wells Roadrunner.
Dan won free admission to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos at a raffle at the school science fair so we decided to make a quick getaway to use it during Memorial Day weekend. We stayed the night at the SFO airport Embassy Suites and went the museum the next day. Our room had a perfect view of the runways at SFO and I brought my scanner so we could hear the controllers talk to the planes. The hotel is right on the water and gave us a different perspective on the bay. The Hiller museum is located at the Hiller helicopter factory and there was lots of helicopter displays in addition to those showing off the history of aviation in the Bay Area. We also watched some of the traffic at tiny San Carlos Airport where the museum is located. Very busy airport for being so small.
Even though he has had an entry every year, this was the only year that Daniel was required to enter. For his project he wanted to see what soda would do to meat. He also tried lots of other liquids too, soaking the meat for 5 days and making regular observations of what happened. It turns out that soda in an airtight jar does not really dissolve meat, but vinegar turns it into jelly. In addition to three kinds of soda and the vinegar, he soaked the meat in lemonade, water and mineral water. In almost all cases when he opened the jar on the fifth day, it really stunk.
Elizabeth went for something way less smelly in trying different ways to blow up ballons. Baking soda, ice water, yeast, warm water, sugar, and heat were all used to try to blow up balloons with varying degrees of success. It seems that the quickest and most effecient way for Liz to get a balloon inflated is to ask Mom or Dad to do it.
At the science fair, there was an raffle and Daniel won a trip to an aviation museum, some miniature golf passes and a session at an inflatable jump house place.
This year for boy’s day, Daniel picked McDonalds for dinner. He also got a Lego Star Wars set and a Darth Vader shirt. Usually we let them pick fun stuff to do for Boys and Girls day, but Elizabeth deferred her choice to going to the dinosaur museum in LA. So, Daniel deferred his fun day to Legoland. So I guess that means we’re planning a trip to SoCal sometime soon. Which means we’ll get to visit all of our family down there, maybe at the end of summer.
Friday night was the girl scout Me and My Guy dance at Elizabeth’s school. The theme was “Under the Sea”, which I think was the same theme as the prom in Back to the Future. (Oh i looked it up, that one added the word Enchantment.) It was a fun time dancing with Elizabeth, meeting all of the other dads, and watching all the girls go crazy. I think they even went crazier than normal because, at least with girls, it seems dads aren’t as strict as moms.
On Easter morning I went to work and the kids woke Sandy up twice to go downstairs and see their Easter baskets. In her basket, Elizabeth got socks, paintable bunnies, fuzzy stickers, new pajamas, candy, and a bell for her bicycle. She also got bunnies and candy from Grandma and Grampa. Daniel got a basket full of socks, pajamas, a bike bell, and little pinball machine; and from Grandma and Grampa he got a Lego building set and more candy. Later they dyed Easter eggs and when I got home we had an Easter egg hunt. For dinner we had a yummy ham, with potatoes, asparagus and deviled eggs. It was a lot of fun.
The Hallers came up to visit on St. Patrick’s day weekend and brought their awesomely shiny bubbly new Airstream trailer with them. On St. Patrick’s Day Eve, while I was at work, Sandy and Elizabeth went to see the annual Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. Daniel had to stay home to put the final touches on his big fifth grade research paper on movies. That afternoon Wade, Jeanine, Luke and Olivia drove up in a gigantic van towing an even gigantic-er trailer. They spent most of the weekend with us and all of the kids had a great time playing with each other. On Sunday, we all hiked to the Dublin Library and spent a few hours eating and playing at the St. Patrick’s Day fair. There were rides for the kids but the lines were crazy long so we couldn’t ride anything. We were sad to see them go on Monday, and can’t wait to see them again.
We went to an awards ceremony at school where Elizabeth got an award for being a good role model. The award was for the character trait: Being Giving. I never thought she was that “giving,” and don’t know what she could be giving away. But there it is, and we are very proud of her. Good job, Elizabeth!
I bought a really cool jigsaw puzzle when we went to Disneyland and it was so much fun to put together, it put the whole family, or at least Sandy and I into a puzzle building frenzy, completing 3 thousand piece ones in just 9 days. I like puzzles with pictures on them that I can take the picture on the box and try to put individual pieces where I think they belong and join them together as I find more pieces. Sandy is better at looking at the shape of the pieces and putting them together using colors more than the actual picture. It makes for a good teamwork and worked fine until we got to the third puzzle. It is from Ravensburger and called:
WASGIJ? A jigsaw from another perspective! High Tide. No. 19 083
The trouble is that while the box has a very detailed picture that would make a great puzzle that especially suits my style of puzzling, that picture is not the puzzle. The puzzle is what everyone on the picture on the box is looking at. So there is no guide to where to put the pieces. We can only work on shape and color and sometimes the picture if we can tell what it might be. Very frustrating. So much so that I went online to cheat and find a picture of the completed puzzle. But there weren’t any. Anywhere. But we finished and when we did, I decided I wanted to put the picture online to help others that may need it if they are looking. (That’s why I put the whole name and model number)
Sad news as Beau passed away this week. We all miss him so much. He got sick on Wednesday and by Friday was hurting so bad, he couldn’t go on. The vet told us that 13 years was a long life for a dog of his size but that still wasn’t long enough. We are still coping with his absence and think about him all the time. It’s really hard for us to spend any time in the garage or the back yard without him. He was an awesome friend and member of our family.
Below is a gallery of the some of Daniel and Elizabeth’s favorite pictures.