After spending so much money at Christmas, we decided to a weekend getaway on the cheap and use our memberships at the Monterey Aquarium and the San Francisco Zoo. And while yes, those were free, the gas, hotel and meals weren’t. So we ended up spending some money anyway. We went to the aquarium first, where it was so crowded we had to skip some of the smaller exhibits. Even with the crowds, it was still a lot of fun. We drove up to Santa Cruz to spend the night at the Chaminade Resort. It’s kind of an older hotel in the woods that tries to be upscale but because of the age it can’t quite pull it off. Nice enough for us though and still a fun place to stay and we went for a little hike through the trees in the morning. Sandy said the resort reminded her of the vacation place in the movie Dirty Dancing, and maybe with summer activities, it may well be just like that.
The next day we drove up to the zoo and had a fun time there too. Elizabeth got to visit with penguins at both the aquarium and the zoo. We got home in time to watch some movies while we all stayed up till midnight to ring in the new year with some Martinelli’s.
Deep Blue Sea
Small sunfish but the healthiest looking one we’ve see here. It seemed like they restocked the tank for the holidays. (It was emptier when we went a few months ago.)
Liz’s new favorite animal.
Dinner on the Santa Cruz pier.
Gingerbread beach boardwalk at the hotel lobby.
Active prairie dog
Poking their heads up out of their prairie dog hole.
They had a bear-y fun time.
Christmas morning this year began as usual, with excited kids getting up before Sandy and me, chomping at the bit to get downstairs to see what Santa had brung ‘em. For Elizabeth he brought a membership to her favorite web site National Geographic’s Animal Jam, a penguin, legos, a Kindle, and more. Dan got a 3DS, a Kindle, and some Lego’s of his own. Everyone got to unwrap lots more great gifts from friends and family, then Sandy made a big breakfast of deviled eggs and pigs in a blanket, and then the playing began. Except for a few breaks forced on them by Sandy and me, Dan got lost in his video game and Elizabeth spent the day testing out her new membership. Later that night we decided to change up tradition and eat out at our favorite sushi restaurant.
Ready for the kids to wake up.
Here they come.
A new penguin friend.
Honu wind chimes.
One of two different Gundam models. Dan is in heaven.
Elizabeth made me two shirts. One with whale sharks, dolphins and tigers. (My favorite animals.) One with planes and a control tower.
What did she get?
That’s a lot of stuff.
Yep, its another Gundam.
Cooperating on building Elizabeth’s Lego mansion.
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 getting her award at Frederiksen Elementary
Daniel getting his award at the Wells Middle School Gym
Surprise award for academic excellence. She also got another one on this day for being responsible.
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.
Elizabeth getting ready for school
Sandy and Dan ready for trick or treating
Spy vs Cat
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.
Yes, it’s another clam picture
What’s all the white stuff under those birds on those rocks?
Daniel convinced a robotic arm to spell his name
Learning to program a robot
That glowing green spot is the bacteria she grew
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.
Dan at work.
Great time but lots of empty seats
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!
Luke and his Dodger Dog
Best basesball stadium ever
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.
A wild possum in the park outside the museum
Dan and Newt
Liz showing stuff to Luke
Olivia, Dan and Wade appear to be… learning stuff
A fish that was amazingly bigger than the bear.
Finally some dinosaurs
Standing with dinosaurs
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.
Jetliner crash on the backstage tour.
The bak lot as a back drop
Jaws ate my kids!
Wade gave some bird a dollar.
And then he rode a bucking bronco
Late and sleepy presents
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.
After watching Planes The Movie, we stood in front of Planes The Cardboard Sign
Olivia comandeered all of the puppy toys
While Liz kept Babs entertained
And John kept everyone fed and happy
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.
Perfecting his swing.
Learning the steps for her ice capades routine
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.
Happy Birthday Grandma
I’m thinking the lizards are happy we’re back in California
Paniolo Elizabeth at the Farm Fair
In Laie where we got married 20+ years ago
There’s lots more pictures of the trip here.
There’s so much wonderful flora and fauna, they get their own album here.
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.
Elizabeth and Daniel “working” in the tower.
Playing the Magic Kingdom Game, right before Disney Trivial Pursuit
The New Tower from the old South Tower
Old North Tower
The New Tower from the old North Tower
A note to the demolition workers
Visiting the new tower
New Tower Catwalk
Where the kids and I worked all day
San Francisco View from New Tower
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.
Getting the Presidential Education award from the Dublin School Board
And then getting his Certificate of Promotion from the principal
Post-”Graduation” recession, minus the Pomp and Circumstance
Showing off the Awards
Thanks Mrs. Caudle
Certificate of Promotion
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.
Embassy Suites balcony
Flying a helicopter
Flying a fighter jet
Flying a 747
An awesome but utter failure of an attempt at early flight (but still my favorite display at the museum)
New kids old airport
Daniel and Elizabeth both entered the school Science Fair again this year.
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.
Recording the results
The final result
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.
That’s as big as she can blow it up.
Baking soda and vinegar
Trying with heat
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.
Gifts, Mc Donald’s and cut apples (because there has to be something healthy on that table)
Lego Star Wars
Lego Battle Droid
On Monday I got braces. See!
They are always hitting my top lip. I thought that getting them put in was going to hurt! I had to take medicine that made it hurt less for a few days. I can’t eat chewy or hard stuff anymore so that gets rid of a lot of candy. I can’t wait until I get these out. Only 4 more years!
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.
Easter baskets waiting for kids to come downstairs.
Elizabeth holding carrot candy
Skull-y pajama Dan
Getting it just right
Getting ready for the hunt
And they’re off
Elizabeth’s favorite “onion face” egg
Donating his eggs for Mom to “devil” for dinner
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.
Big red wagon that was part of the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade
Dan carrying Olivia to her brand new Airstream trailer
Wade helping Elizabeth swing from a tree in our back yard
Luke helping Olivia swing, too
The long hike on the Iron Horse and Alamo Creek Trails
Along the trail
One of the many turtles we saw on our hike. We also saw some very large fish swimming in the relatively small creek.
Olivi-Stitch and Luke the dragon
Camp was the most fun thing I did in 5th grade. We did lots of outdoor activities like hiking Cresta Blanca and playing zombie tag. We also had fun playing indoors. In my cabin we played monkey in the middle and had pillow fights.
The food at camp Arroyo was delicious! I even ate the Teriyaki chicken. On the last day they served the best meal ever! We had pizza and they baked us brownies. Camp Arroyo is probably going to be something I remember forever!!!
A view of our camp
My cabin mates in “Alder” cabin
Messing around in the cabin
We saw some awesome wildlife. These are ordinary turkeys, but they told us there were some half deer/half turkey “durkeys” running around there somewhere.
I got half way up this wall. It was big.
Vultures were cheering us on.
Getting ready to go on a hike to Cresta Blanca and Lake Del Valle
Lake Del Valle
Daniel had the option of taking a trip or having a party for his eleventh birthday and chose a trip a museum in San Francisco. It wasn’t until two hours into the trip and some prodding from Elizabeth, that he realized we were going to Disneyland instead. The kids got a rare non-holiday four day weekend so we decided to check out new stuff like Cars Land, the Little Mermaid ride, and the revamped Star Tours at a time when we thought the place wouldn’t be so busy. Cars land was awesome and still new enough to be kind of busy with wait times for the Radiator Springs Racers ride being almost an hour. The rest of the park had very short lines. The Haller family spent every day with us there, and John and Deanna joined us for dinner and some Lego shopping one night. For his actual birthday dinner Dan chose Rainforest Cafe. He had to wait to get back the hotel room to open presents. He got a puzzle ball from his sister and a video game and promise of a new bike from mom and dad. Elizabeth rode every roller coaster she could and even outlasted me on California Screaming. We still cant decide if she really liked it or just was being braver than her brother.
Driving in Cars Land
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Mullholland Madness roller coaster is now Goofy’s flight school. Exact same coaster with new theme, works well. We rode it lots of times.
Lots of red on the new Star Speeder in Star Tours. We rode three time and went to three destinations. No repeats!
That daring young Elizabeth on her looping machine. California Screaming.
So the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is famous for it’s albino alligator so Dan was disappointed (only a little) that we missed that by going to Disneyland. But there was one in a Downtown Disney restaurant to make up for it.
Birthday cake Rainforest style.
Opening presents in our little hotel room.
We went to see How to Train Your Dragon live at the Shark Tank (aka HP Pavillion) in San Jose today. We started out with lunch and one of my favorite restaurants, The Fish Market, then we surprised the kids by taking them to the show. It was the same technology as Walking with Dinosaurs but with some added flying and more drama. I wanted the story to be original, but they just acted out the plot of the movie. We may have sat too high because the dragons were not as impressive as the Walking dinos. Still it’s amazing what they can do. After we got home we watched the movie, and to be honest, I liked the movie better. But it was a fun time out, and we all seemed to enjoy it.
Christmas was hectic this year as we were planning for the holiday and the installation of new floors in our home at the same time. Santa brought lots of toys, and there were lots of presents under the tree from family to be opened. Daniel got some video games and legos and Elizabeth got a pogo stick and some Yoohoo and Friends stuffed animals. Sandy got the pots and pans and new eyeglasses she asked for and I am getting the hardwood floors that I have always wanted in our house. As it is every year, there were too many presents, but all were appreciated. Elizabeth was on her pogo stick as soon as the morning rain stopped and Daniel was building legos all morning long. After lunch I took a nap and worked the mid shift. By the time I woke up the day after, Sandy had already packed up all the Christmas decorations and had begun moving furniture out of the living room in preparation for the installers. It made for a very short Christmas season.
Hung by the Chimney with Care
Hamming it up on Christmas Eve
Dino Pillow Pet
Liz is more excited than Mom
Kewpie Doll (or QP doll, according to the package)
Way cool pottery wheel
I think this is the first year that Beau was inside while we opened Christmas presents. He got some treats in a stocking, too.
Happy dad opening lots of geek-friendly gifts like an Ultra-Man shirt, a Star Trek Game and Mug, a puzzle and more. Oh and new floors to come.
Like a fish to water. Successful pogo-ing on her first day.