Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Favorite

Lots of love...

Photo courtesy of K.  Puck is bigger in person than he appears...

Friday, December 28, 2018

Another Walking Food Tour of San Francisco

Our friend Marianne and her daughter Emma put together a fabulous itinerary for us after our ice cream walking tour last month.  This one was based in North Beach and Chinatown and was even better than the last.

We started in North Beach, where even the view from the garage roof was stunning

Grandpa joins us!
Our first stop was at a foccacia place; I knew this as it was a favorite of a friend of mine when I worked with her at the fire department.  They close when they run out and were closed when we arrived.   So a false stop, so to speak, but I expected that might happen.  We had a quick, unplanned stop at the Baked Bear, absolutely amazing ice cream sandwiches, then on to City Lights Bookstore, home of the Beatnik movement of the 1950s.  The kids disappeared into the bookstore and had to be dragged out, Gabriana reporting, "Mom, they have so many books about Frederick Douglass!"  In the meantime, we tried to check out Vesuvius, a cafe next door, where some of the Beatnik writers would hang out and write, but they were open only to those 21 and over.  So...

On to the Beat museum.  As this sign says, "What Elvis was to music... What James Dean and Marlon Brando were to film... The Beat Generation was to literature."  It was a unique experience!  I don't think the kids quite got the relevance of the drug paraphernalia and naked pictures, but someday they will read "On the Road" and remember.

And then on to Chinatown and dim sum.  This place was a little hole-in-the-wall with a line out the door.  We got pork buns, scallion buns, and bean cakes to go and they were so good!  This is a photo of some of the kids on the street in front of the dim sum place.  They also stopped in at the Fortune Cookie Company (basically a machine making the fortune cookies and a long line to see it in operation).

Our next stop was unplanned, but my brother-in-law wanted to go into Grace Cathedral, since we were there.  WOW!  Incredible "Doors of Paradise,"  replicas of biblical scenes created for a cathedral in Florence.
And then the inside - wow again!
Inside the doors, we saw this:  a labyrinth with doves of peace above.  We also saw a portion of the AIDS quilt, a statue of St. Francis by artist Beniamino Bufano (very similar to one on the NDNU campus).
 Next stop:  The Fairmont Hotel and its Tango Room for fun drinks.

Upstairs at the hotel, we found a walk-through gingerbread house!
 Then on to the cable car museum, pizza and calzones at Tony's Pizza Napoletana, incredible desserts at Stella Pastry and Cafe, a walk up to Coit Tower, and then - for some in the group - another round of pizza.  Super incredibly beautiful night in the city; sitting outside eating under Christmas lights strung across the street; gorgeous views of downtown, the Bay Bridge, the wharf, Marin, and the Golden Gate; and walking through beautiful neighborhoods with fabulous architectural details.  Awesome day, awesome evening.

We started with 15, lost three who decided on an earlier night, then lost five more when they'd had enough, ending with seven hardy ones to enjoy the final fun of the evening.  Ran into three different sets of people I knew throughout the day, too.  Beautiful, fabulous, fun day.  The kids' renewed their hope that we do this more often; love it!  History, food, culture, exercise, beauty, and family fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Holiday Lights at the Oakland Zoo

Hm.  An interesting experience.  They decorate the zoo in lots of holiday lights and so you come to see the lights, not the animals.  The best part was a gondola right high up the hill, from where you could see lights from across (nearly) the whole bay.  There was a "meadow show" of lights that was neat, but also weird - a random compilation of Christmas song and apparent excerpts from Christmas-themed television shows and movies, set to a "show" of various strands of colored lights, some shaped like animals, that weren't in the least bit timed to the audio.  It was... interesting.  Perplexing.  Surprising.  Worth seeing - once.

The best part was seeing my 16-month-old nephew's face - he loved everything.  Awesome!

G trying to take a photo; lit gondola cars and lights from around the bay behind her.

On our way out; K standing intentionally to block the "Oakland As" themed elephant behind her.  A Giants fan always!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Go Karts

A fun, post-Christmas experience, thanks to a gift from a generous aunt.   I started singing the "Speed Racer" song and didn't even care when K groaned that I was dating myself.  :-)   Great to see good friends and their kids, too.

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas Gift

G worked so hard on this for many months; giving it was what both of us were most excited about for Christmas!  And now this, so beautiful.  I think he very much knows how much he is loved.

A very long time ago, the mother of this quilt maker made a not-quite-as-great quilt for the mother of this adorable kid.  I had no idea what I was doing, spent my own money on padding ($.99, which seemed like a lot in 1976 when I was eight), and gave up watching my favorite television show (Little House on the Prairie) to finish it when my baby sister was born.  Nice to know that outcomes improve with the generations; this is way better than the patchwork one I put together with no idea whatsoever what I was doing.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bethlehem AD

Three nights of fun, role playing in a living history set up and live nativity. The girls rotated to different groups, handing out coins for visitors to pay taxes, harassing Roman soldiers, learning Hebrew from rabbis, playing with dreidels, making jewelry and cracking nuts in the marketplace, holding chickens and rabbits, helping with the larger livestock (sheep, horses, calves, camels, even a tortoise), and kneeling at the manger.  No rain, huge crowds; a success!

The "Tribe of Judah" being "surprised" by the Angel Gabriel on their way to the lot

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Cake by G

G's creation, modeled on one she saw on "Nailed It."  Not bad!  Penguins are hard to make - these ones made out of white chocolate and edible paint.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Carols at a Senior Facility

G's Girl Scout troop worked with a group of Brownies and Daisies to prepare carols for a local senior residential facility.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Four Christmas Songs That Should Never Be Played

Ah, families with strong opinions.  About everything - even Christmas songs "that should never be played." K put together a video explaining her top four least favorite Christmas songs:

4.  Last Christmas.  "It has nothing to do with Christmas.  It is a song about a break up, not about Christmas."

3.  Santa Baby.  "Let's just say that yuletide cheer and kindness go out the door for someone with a little girl voice who likes stuff."  (Here's a Miley Cyrus version that we saw later and is MUCH better. Ignore the implied profanity.  :-)

2. Baby It's Cold Outside.  "My Mom calls it the date-rape song, so I think I'm going to leave it at that."

1.  Do They Know It's Christmas.  "Uh, no they don't because they don't share your religion and they don't celebrate your holidays."  And another thing, there won't be snow in the Silicon Valley this Christmas either, but that doesn't mean that the children of Tech industry giants need a fundraiser.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ethiopian Dinner

When I was working on my bachelor's degree and beginning to focus on 20th century African history, I had a professor who ended each course with a potluck.  But not just any food - she knew that food is a reflection of culture and history and so we'd get in groups and learn to make traditional African dishes.  My Dad saw my interest and heard my stories.  He worked near City Hall and invited me to go with him to a nearby Ethiopian restaurant.  It was a special treat to go out to lunch with him, plus the first time I'd ever had Ethiopian food.  The restaurant had a vegetarian buffet lunch and years later, when I also worked near City Hall, I'd go back to the same restaurant with colleagues or with my Dad (still working then).  Good memories...

This wasn't the same restaurant, but we were with my parents and it was the first time the girls had had Ethiopian, so it brought back my own memories.  Yum!

Monday, December 3, 2018

End of Soccer Season Party

Great time, made it through the playoffs into the championships and played really well, coming in second place in the league.

Love her coach, who cried while saying something nice about each kid.

2018 Raptors
Later, she got an anonymous note left at our front door.  It said, "I never really talked to you but when we did, you were always so kind to me, so thank you.  You are such a great defender.  You are always strong physically and mentally."  Nice!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Saints Festival

We stepped it up this year with a full-on festival:  the kids worked on "Facebook" style posters for Saints they chose.  We banned the most common ones and so learned a ton about little-known Saints.  We had a scavenger hunt (with a prize!) for the kids who could find the right info from each poster.  We had visits from the younger grades.  The kids voted on 'best in' categories for more prizes and G won in two:  third-best poster and "best comments" as well.  Then the food:  root beer for the Patron Saint of brewers (St Arnold), St. Honore cake for the Patron Saint of bakers, Swedish fish for the Patron Saint of swimmers (St. Adjuctor), and more... we even had poprocks for the Patron Saint of explosions (St. Barbara) and (veggie) hot dogs for the Patron Saint of dogs (St. Rocco). 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Design Final Presentation

G presented a detailed PPT to her Design class - for a tiny-but-luxurious van big enough to sleep all of us, including the dog and the cat, and store everything we need, but small enough to drive (and park) around town (with low gas mileage).  Most existing models that she found only sleep/seat two, so she implemented original designs for her presentation and added both fun twists and beauty. The class and teacher loved it!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Ice Cream Walking Tour of SF

Our premise was an ice cream walking tour of SF - a long walk in which we travel from one ice cream shop to another.  We only actually hit three, but the concept was enough to make the day perfect and to keep the kids engaged and uncomplaining about a longish walk.  Gorgeous weather, clear skies, good company, and a stop at a fun playground.  Needed a group picture but never got one, unfortunately.  Our group consisted of the girls and I, Eliz and her whole family, and my mom.  The most interesting stop was at an ice cream shop with a "cheese and toasted bread" flavor.  Glad I tried it, though I wouldn't want a whole scoop.  Now the kids want to do this monthly.  If we do, I'm trying the rye and chocolate flavor next time!..

From the top of the crooked section of Lombard Street

Cousins at Aquatic Park, GG Bridge in background

Funny shot K caught of a man sitting in a bus juxtaposed above an ad so that he looks like he's part of the ad....

Fun selfie of the girls and my niece at a playground.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Rainy Day in the City

Bday wishes from Captain Underpants.  :-)

K loves Abuela

The rain was right in our faces.  This at Aquatic Park in SF

Fake snow at Ghirardelli Square

Meeting up with some favorite old friends

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Prep

Thanksgiving just isn't hard anymore, not with help from this one. We made three pies - apple, pumpkin, and this beautiful berry one with blackberries that we picked in Gualala in September and then froze. We also prepared a surprisingly awesome tofu loaf, "quattro formaggio" (fancy mac and cheese), an arrugula salad, and some gluten-free cauliflower stuffing with vegan sausage. Oh! And G topped it all off with a really wonderful chocolate souffle - all her idea. Working with her really makes everything so much easier and its nice to get to the holiday itself and not feel exhausted. Awesome kid - a hard worker with great ideas.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Surprise Breakfast

Her Girl Scout troop earned an unusual badge - a "kidnap breakfast," in which they show up at your house when it is still dark, wake you up, then take you out to breakfast in your pajamas.  When they showed up with two kids already in the car, those kids saw me waiting on the porch and said, "was this planned?"  Yes, girls... parents knew, kids didn't.  Looked like a lot of work for the two troop leaders and a lot of fun for the kids.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Annual St. Dominic's Picnic Reunion

A lovely - if smokey - afternoon.  Happy that so many people showed up, despite the terrible air quality.  It is always wonderful to see so many good friends, to pray together for the ones we have lost, and to spend some time in gratitude for the richness of these friendships.

Some of the kids are young adults now themselves; everyone is so big and grown up!

Wonderful to see everyone and to remember those who we have lost, especially Jay and Mary.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Girl Scout Investiture

She got sworn in and received a load of badges, all at once.  A productive troop:  badges for book making, archery, marine mammals, and more.  Early in the morning, she was awakened by two Girl Scouts in her room, waking her to take her to breakfast.  Apparently, the "kidnapping breakfast" is a thing and there's a badge for that, too.  It was a long day with a beginning when it was still dark, but I think she had fun!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Self Directed Learners?

I wish I saw more of this on a daily basis, but here was at least a glimmer of hope that there's a possibility: their teacher couldn't make it, so the four of them did math, history, and literature work independently.  I was hovering nearby (to shoot this picture to send to the other moms) but didn't interfere, prompt, or encourage (nor did I need to, much to my amazement).

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Weekend of Playoff Games

G shot the winning goal in overtime, bringing her soccer team to the championships!  K's basketball team concluded the season with a lot of fun, truly playing together - sometimes serious, sometimes silly, but always fun to watch - even when they didn't win.

Just missed the ball in this photo, but I got G, moments after making the winning shot

Goalie kick in another game, earlier the same day

When I play K, she's unstoppable.  Sometimes seems that way even on the court.