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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Girl’s Day is March 3rd. Its just like Mother’s day, Father’s Day, and Boy’s day. This Girl’s day my family gave me a Pokémon t-shirt and a Pokémon action figure set. For dinner we ate at Chipotle and watched Pokémon.
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.
We drove down south to spend Thanksgiving with our Long Beach family and had lots of fun. It was great seeing everyone, but we were sad that Deanna and John couldn’t make it to dinner. We actually had two dinners. One at Wade’s fire station near the Queen Mary, and another one the next day at the Haller’s house. Daniel and Elizabeth really enjoyed playing with Luke and Olivia and we all enjoyed going to P.F. Changs where Mike is working.
Halloween started with a parade at school with Dan as an Area 51 alien and Elizabeth as a bat. Both had parties at school, but when they got home, both had homework since the next day was a school day. But after the homework and dinner (we tried for pizza but I guess everyone does pizza on Halloween because the wait was more than an hour, so we settled for sandwiches from Subway), we went trick or treating. Once around the block then back home to hand out treats to other kids. In order not to have them eat the 100 lbs of candy they got, we convinced them to trade their candy for a toy.
Its now a tradition ten years plus for us, even longer for our neighbors. To celebrate Independence Day we got together with the people on our block, drank, ate and set off hours worth of fireworks. It started out a little different this year. Mark and Yvonne, who live across the street from us, invited us to drinks at their brand new tiki bar beside their back yard pool. Awesome decor with lots of bamboo and palm fronds. They needed more talking flowers and parrots though. While we were lighting our safe-and-sane fireworks, some people down the street were launching some really massive, loud, awesome and probably very dangerous fireworks. No houses caught fire, but not for lack of trying.
We have been in the Washington DC area a week and have been on the go the whole time. The very first day after checking into our hotel, we headed to the White House for our scheduled tour. The security to get in was even more strict than to ride the plane here. Once inside though, we were excited to be there. The furnishings were beautiful and the building really felt like a part of history. We then checked out the Smithsonian and visited the Natural History Museum where we saw dioramas, dinosaurs, mummies, and (ugh) bugs. After that it was dinner at Chipotle which wasn’t very good and definitely not the quality we were used to from ours at home. On the way to Chipotle, we waited with lots of other people along a shut down intersection and watched President Obama’s motorcade speed past our hotel on his way home.
The next day was National Zoo day which is walking distance from our hotel. The highlight was pandas but there were lots of other unique animals too. The walk wasn’t long but it was a bit tiring so we just had an expensive room service meal at the hotel after spending some time in the pool.
The next day, we rented a car and visited the the National Cathedral which is an impressive gothic church with whimsical gargoyles carved along its edifices. We specifically went to look for the Darth Vader gargoyle that was put up as part of a kid’s contest in the 80′s. Could only see it with the zoom on the camera. I was surprised to learn that while the church is Roman Catholic, it is also used by the American Episcopal community too, with their bishop’s headquarters just next door. After a quick stop at the Iwo Jima US Marine Memorial we headed to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles airport which is about 25 miles east of D.C. It is a very large hangar with lots of historic aircraft and space craft including the actual Enola Gay and recently arrived space shuttle Discovery. For dinner we visited Georgetown and ate at a strangely decorated Thunder Burger, where the kids sat on couches and I had a very delicious hamburger/pulled pork sandwich.
The next day we took the car and headed some 150 miles south to Williamsburg. We stopped for a while intending to spend the day but the prices were very steep. Without paying any admission we were able to walk through town and get a bit of the history but didn’t get to go in the buildings or listen to the lectures of the tradespeople. But after walking though, it looked a bit boring so we didn’t mind. That afternoon we went to a maritime museum in Newport News, saw the recently salvaged turret from the ironclad Monitor, and the kids saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Dan said it looks a lot like the Pacific. That night we had a great dinner at Bonefish Grill, a chain that we first tried on a Denver vacation a few years ago, and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express for the night. It was an awesome way to spend Father’s Day with my family. (They gave me my presents before I left, fitted ball caps for both the A’s and Dodgers.) The next day it was Busch Gardens amusement park, the drive home and dinner at a restaurant across from the Omni, Open City, which in my opinion is the best restaurant of the trip so far.
We had the rental car for one last day and used it to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It’s one of the best aquariums I’ve been to, and we had lots of fun. It’s on par with the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we regularly have a membership. It has a very tall tank that the exhibits wind around, before you walk down through the center. Theres a gigantic glass structure with Australian wildlife in it that shouldn’t be missed. It was there that we watched trigger fish shoot live crickets off a branch that one of the workers held over the tank. There also have some dolphins which seemed happy enough despite being in an indoor tank with no real fresh air. Baltimore just had a Sail-abration, to commemorate bicentennial of the harbor’s role in the war of 1812 so there were some tall ships still there when we got there and we got to watch Mexico’s navy training ship leave. Really a sight to see with seamen manning the rails and standing on the crossbars across the sails. For dinner we tried a sushi place near our hotel. Dan stuck with gyoza but did eat some edamame.
Today we went to the Newseum. We weren’t expecting much and thought the kids would be a bit bored, but we spent the whole day there and didn’t even realize how fast time was flying. There’s lots of emphasis on how important journalism is to society and history, maybe too much, but I of course didn’t mind since I was a reporter before I became an air traffic controller. Lots of interactive stuff for the kids to do including games and a chance to be a reporter. For dinner we had some take out chinese from a restaurant close to the hotel. Lots of good food. Too much actually. Its really really hot here now. It wasn’t for must of the time up til now but it got close to if not over 100 degrees today, so because we didn’t want to be out there in direct sunlight, we went to the pool after dinner. Tomorrow its our appointment to tour the US Capitol building with our Representative Jerry McNerney.
For Mother’s Day, the kids got up really early. Too early. So after telling them to go back to bed more than once, we went downstairs and Sandy got to open cards and presents and get some Mother’s Day flowers. The flowers were my idea but not a good one because both Sandy and Elizabeth have been having allergy attacks and the pollen had them sneezing immediately. After the gifts we all got dressed and went to the Marriott in San Ramon for brunch. Everyone had way too much to eat but had lots of fun. Happy Mother’s Day!!!
After the kids spent some time dying eggs, the Easter Bunny snuck in to bring in easter baskets and then run out to the back yard to hide them before moving on to the next house. We had a nice Easter breakfast instead of dinner because once again, I headed out to work.
Christmas time this year started with a trip to see Santa and ended with two kids playing with way too many toys. I had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so Sandy had to keep the kids busy by herself and did a wonderful job. On Christmas Eve, they made gingerbread people and a gingerbread house, and got treats ready for Santa and the reindeer. Christmas morning was spent opening gifts and getting ready for work. Dan got a Wii game he wanted. Liz got an Inkoo doll to draw on. Sandy got a purse, iPhone case and some crafting supplies. And I got a whole bunch of games and a kid-drawn control tower shirt. Even Beau got some gifts to open. The rest of the day was spent playing with new toys and rolling sushi. We had a pot luck at the control tower with turkey, ham and way too much food. We hope everyone has as great a Christmas as we did.
We got to spend Thanksgiving this year with Grandma and Grandpa and Jordan and Miles in Hawaii. We had some great turkey and prime rib and ahi limu poke along with lots of other goodies. When Elizabeth and Daniel and Jordan weren’t eating they were torturing the neighborhood lizards, and there are lots to torture. They keep catching and releasing them, relishing each catch and lamenting each release. We also went to the Bishop Museum and saw the renovated Hawaii Hall which was impressive and got to play with lots of science-y stuff. Later we went to watch the University of Hawaii beat the University of Pacific Tigers in a really close, really fun basketball game. (Made more fun by all the snacks) Next it’s a Christmas craft fair and the UH – Tulane football game. Some pictures are here.
This year Daniel was the Phantom of the Opera and Elizabeth was a Dragon. Elizabeth was a dragon before, but she really loves wearing the costume, even when it’s not Halloween, and jumped at the chance to show it off at school and trick-or-treating. Mom made some adjustments to make it fit better and look just a little more awesome. The “season” started with a trip to the pumpkin patch at an old farm in the hills of Livermore. Then on the Friday before Halloween there was a school parade. We carved and decorated pumpkins on Saturday and then on Halloween, Sandy and the kids went trick-or-treating while I handed out candy. There’s an album of Halloween pictures here.
And a video of the parade here: (it works best for me if I start the video, then pause it and let it finish loading, then play it…or you can just download the actual video by right clicking this link and saving it to your computer)
A week before Christmas, we invited all of our neighbors to come to our house for mimosas, bloody mary’s, breakfast and an ornament exchange. It made our usually big feeling house seem small with over 20 people in it.
On Christmas morning, the kids woke up to a treasure trove of presents left by Santa, and another bunch of fun stuff sent by relatives and friends. Among lots of other things, Santa brought Daniel a giant marble run that he has to build, and Elizabeth a stuffed octopus, some dolls, and some Zhu Zhu pets. Joe got a cool shirt that Elizabeth made and a Harmony remote control, and Sandy got a cool flower pen that Daniel made and a new washer and dryer that she asked for.
It was cold and rainy for most of the kids two-week Christmas break, so much of the time was spent indoors playing. Still even though they were stuck inside, they really enjoyed themselves. More pictures here.
So Michael came down for a couple of days before Thanksgiving and stayed with us. We mostly just hung out but we did go see some cars and motorcycles at Arlen Ness and Kassabian Motors. Then on Thanksgiving day Jeanine, Wade, Luke and Rex came up. We ate tons, played games and drank lots of beer. Jeanine brought Babette’s ashes and we realized that it was the first time mom has been in our house. Hope she liked it. Mike drove all night on Thanksgiving to get back to work but the rest of the family stayed two more days and helped us get rid of some of the massive amounts of leftovers. MMMMM turkey sandwiches.
We had two Halloweens this year. One on Friday at the school parade, and one on Sunday with the real trick-or-treating. Daniel was a alien-looking big headed brainy guy named Brainwashed, and Elizabeth was her favorite character Hello Kitty. Sandy made the kitty costume from scratch and it was perfect as it made Liz look like a stuffed animal (with a Lizzy looking face poking out). More pics here.
This morning Daniel woke up and got breakfast ready for Sandy. There were flowers and cards and presents. Elizabeth had fun wrapping herself up in the wrapping paper. Then Sandy turned on Formula One racing for Joe to watch before he went off to work. Sandy and the kids ended up having movie day. Later it’s the finale of the Amazing Race. I think it was a good Mothers Day here. Hope everyone else had a wonderful one too!
Today was Boy’s Day. I got two Lego gifts for Boy’s Day. One is a Lego Minifigure Ultimate Sticker Collection book from Mom and Dad, and the other is a Lego Typhoon Turbo Sub from Elizabeth. It took me about an hour to build. It includes a mini diver and a shark man. I also got to pick out where we ate, Sweet Tomatoes or what I call the “push your tray place.” I liked the food and got ice cream at the end. Here are some pictures.
During Spring Break we went down to visit our newest family member Luke. We decorated eggs, celebrated with a wonderful Easter brunch. We made Dan’s pilgrimage to his Holy Land aka Legoland. Some time at the beach, visiting Grandma, and a night watching the A’s clobber the Angels, and then it was back home again. See pics here. (Sorry for the poor picture quality, I changed some setting on the camera that I don’t understand and I’ll have to fix it.)
Christmas Pictures are here.
Because Dublin is kinda halfway between Humboldt State and Long Beach, Jeanine, Wade and Michael came to our house for Thanksgiving. Apparently there was lots of braiding going on. Pics here.