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!
My class and I went on a field trip to IN-N-OUT. We got our own hats and name tags. We also got a tour of their kitchen. Then it was time to order food. I ordered a grilled cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
We celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday by having some ice cream cake, and opening presents and then going out to eat at Yanagi Sushi. She got a bike from Mom and Dad, and a nerf gun, a Pokemon and bouncy ball making craft set from Daniel. The next weekend she had a party at the East Bay SPCA. Her and about 10 of her friends played some games and learned about animals before going on a tour of the facility. They finished up with her second birthday cake. Instead if bringing presents for Elizabeth, the attendees brought donations for the dogs and cats there. Lots of fun and turned out to be a great party idea.
It took two days and a hotel room stay, but we now have hardwood floor in our living room, dining room and entry. We thought it would go quicker but when they pulled up the carpet they found 50 year old particle board underlayment that was pretty dilapidated. So they had to spend the first day rebuilding the subfloor with plywood. Then after that they said that the floors had settled over time and weren’t level enough for the hard oak that we ordered. They had to pour a self leveling mixture that took all night to dry, and rather than risk stepping in it and messing it up, we decided to stay at a nearby hotel. We had to choose something that could be installed over the leveler and picked acacia which in the end Sandy and I think looks much nicer than what we originally picked. Now the stained carpets are gone and we are happy with the results. We are putting felt feet on the bottom of all the furniture and up next is finding some area rugs that we like.
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.
Daniel and Elizabeth both got school awards yesterday. I think it’s the first day that both got awards on the same day. Elizabeth’s was for “Excellence in Reading Comprehension.” Daniel’s was for “Most Persuasive.” I know that Liz is a very prolific reader and really does seem to understand most or all of what she reads, but I have never thought of Daniel as all that persuasive. We’ll see at report card time if he’s persuasive enough to get his teacher to give him good grades.
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.
Jeanine, Wade, Luke and Olivia came up for a weekend visit and we had a great time. We went to the Oakland Zoo and the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Olivia and Luke are kinda crazy and I don’t know how Wade and Jeanine keep up with them. But they’re tons of fun. After a great Fisherman’s Wharf seafood dinner we went to get on BART back to the city but some idiot ran onto the tracks and the train was closed. The Davoust’s panicked and took a $150 cab ride back home but the Hallers were patient and waited for BART to reopen and were back into Dublin just a half hour after us. Lots of pictures:
Yesterday was our 20th anniversary. It’s amazing to think its been that long, and then I realized that we were going together at least 5 years before that. Eight job changes, 6 home changes, one puppy and two wonderful kids later, I’m still loving every minute with Sandy. Supposedly platinum is the preferred gift for 20th anniversaries and we shared lots of platinum gifts. Sandy got a platinum and diamond anniversary ring, I got only about a million “platinum” labeled gifts including some Bud Platinum beer and the Platinum Edition of Gran Turismo for the Playstation. We got a baby sitter for Dan and Elizabeth and spent the evening at a Train concert at Berkeley. Now were working on our second twenty.
My new iPhone 5 is here. I should be more excited but I liked my old iPhone 4 and probably wouldn’t have upgraded had my off button not been broken. It’s just okay. It’s got a bigger screen but most of the apps still are the same size with just some black above and below. It is faster, especially with LTE, and my comic books that I read on it are loading faster. But I got used to the jailbreak on my old phone and now I’m missing some of those features. Also iTunes Match in iOS 6 messes up the phone because it won’t let me control what songs take up memory. I used to have power cords everywhere: car, backpack, living room, bedroom, work, garage, now none of those cords fit my new phone and I have to guard the “lightning” power cord because if I lose it (like I have lost many little adapters and gadgets) I won’t be able to use the phone any longer. And of course the maps don’t have street view which was one of the best features of the old iPhones. All that being said, I’m happy to have a phone where all the buttons work, that is thin, light and fast and still can be occasionally be used to make a phone call.
Once again Daniel got an award for Star testing at his school. He again was in the highest level in both math and language arts. We are so proud of him and noticed that he was one of only two kids to get that award all three years that he was eligible. Given there may be people that didn’t show up for the award, but he clearly is one of the top students at his grade level. After a brief but noisy ceremony in the school multipurpose room, the kids got cookies and cupcakes to celebrate.
Hard to believe I’m almost 50. But there it is. We celebrated the day with a birthday breakfast, some cake and some presents. The family got me lots of accessories for our new electric car including University of Hawaii floor mats and an Oakland A’s antenna ball. Afterwards, unfortunately, I had to go to work and despite that, it was a great day.
We all had one last day off together before school starts so we decided to spend it at the Oakland Zoo. We went early this time so some of the animals were more active than normal. (Not the tigers and lions, though, who were sleeping the whole time we were there.) We probably saw turtles, otters, bears and elephants moving around more than we have ever seen. After the zoo, we went miniature golfing, tried a newly opened burger place and finished up by getting Dan a last-minute haircut. Some zoo pics…
Since I had to work in the afternoon, we celebrated Sandy’s birthday in the morning which started with french toast, then candles to be blown out, cards and presents to be opened, ice cream cake to be eaten, and lunch at Red Robin. This wasn’t her first choice but he favorite restaurant was closed on Saturday so we’ll have to make it up to her another time. She ended up getting a new iPhone case from Dan because her old one was too slickery. She got a beautiful stainless steel spice carousel from Elizabeth to go in her new kitchen. And she got an iPad mostly to read books on because it’s kind of hard to read them on the iPhone. It was a fun morning. Happy Birthday Wonderful Wife.
Our Saturn started behaving crazy. Lights would go off and on at random times. The ignition wouldn’t turn off when the key was turned. The door locks would open and close randomly. So I did some research and found out it was a computer in the car called the Body Control Module. Neither the car nor the part has been manufactured in years. Repair estimates came in from $1000-3000. Since the trade in blue book value of the car was zero, I didn’t see the point in repairing it, so I tried trading it in anyway, and got a surprising $2000 for it towards a new silver Nissan Leaf. I’ve wanted an electric car since I first drove one in 1989 when I was writing about them for the Honolulu newspaper I worked for. But until now they just weren’t that practical.
I did the math and counting the repair to the Saturn, the price of gas, the length of my commute, the incentives offered by the federal and state governments, it turns out that I could lease the new Leaf for next to nothing. The gas savings make up for more than half of the lease payments. The savings on the Saturn repair bill, oil change and maintenance costs make up for most of the remainder. And a hefty rebate from the state will make up all but a few dollars of the difference. The only bad thing about the lease is that in three years I will not have a car, but the way the Saturn was falling apart, that may have been the case anyway.
I’ve been driving my new car for almost a month and I love it. The kids do too, and they named it Zappy (because Silvery or Grayee just sounded wrong I guess). I got a free home charger (I just had to pay for the permits), and I love leaving the house everyday with a full “tank.” It’s quiet, zippy and fun to drive, and it talks to my iPhone. We’re looking to put solar panels on the roof pretty soon, and then I’ll actually be driving it for free. It’s range gets me to work and back comfortably and so far I’ve got no gripes.
I also like that it has no emissions, so at least I’m not adding to Bay Area smog. I know it still runs on fossil fuel, but with PG&E getting more than half it’s power from solar, wind, and hydroelectric, it works out to about 12% of what a gas car uses per mile.
But it can’t do everything. We still need Blackie, our Honda Pilot, to go on long trips, to take kids on field trips, and to go anywhere that might be messy since Zappy is a lease and I really cant get too much wear and tear on it.
I went up to our new control tower today and was impressed. Oakland currently has two towers because the airport is so big you can’t see all the runways. The new tower is much taller which allows us to see the whole field and will eliminate the need for the other two. Everything is modern, there is covered parking, and there will even be electric vehicle chargers powered by solar panels. I really was impressed by the views of the airport, the surrounding areas, and the San Francisco Bay.
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.