Michael’s Birthday

For Michael’s birthday we had originally planned a trip to Yosemite, but as it was going to be very cold there, we decided on a day trip to San Francisco instead.  On our list of things to see was the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, so that’s where we went.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the city, hardly a cloud in sight.  We first had lunch at the Buena Vista, right across from the traditional cable cars.  The cars were only going half-way up the route so we will save that for another day.  Giving me more time to get some courage! 😉

The San Francisco Maritime Park was at the Hyde St Pier.  We had a good time wandering around the ships.  The 1907 steam tug Hercules and the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha were our favourites.  After we saw the ships and visited the museum, we wandered down to the Pier 39 region and then walked back to the car.   The kids wanted to drive up one of the steep roads, so we drove to the top of Laguna Street, once again—they are terrifying!  I am terrified of those roads, so have no idea how I am going to do the cable car.

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Halloween 2014

Halloween American style was fun!  We decorated the house, we even put lights up outside.  The house we are renting here is huge, so our decorations look fairly sparse in this house, so not enough for Kieran’s taste, but I think we did plenty.  The kids had fun putting the lights up outside and all the spider webs.

We were invited to a party the week prior by one of Michael’s workmates.  Sadly, it wasn’t the best party-but they did try hard!  Every inch of the house was decorated and they even built a huge maze.  The only hitch was the other guests didn’t really interact with anyone, so it was on the quiet side!  We all walked away with a few prizes (Michael won!) and learned a few things on not to do if we host a party!

Halloween itself was fun.  It actually rained, a much needed event here in California, but we were all hoping it would clear by evening, and it did.  We were invited over to the kid’s friend’s house for dinner and Trick-or-Treating.  Kieran’s friend Satchel had a half-day at school so he came over for the afternoon, then when Michael came home we all went over to his house.  The kids friends, brother and sister: Sophia and Satchel, are great fun, they are both very entertaining.  It’s always great when they all get along and the four of them, plus their little sister all had a fun evening.  The parents are really laid back and welcoming, a great mixture.  We had some minestrone and pizza then all went out with the kids.  My two were thrilled by over 3 pounds in weight of goodies each!  Not sure the dental bills will like that, but it is their one and only truly wild Halloween, so I’m going with the fun of it this year!

Edit:  OK, I can’t go with the flow!  Our dentist had a ‘Buy-Back’ scheme running, for every pound of sweets you brought in, you received a $1.00, and each child would get a new toothbrush.  We went with that!  They traded in just over 6 pounds of sweets!  Michael and I added to their bounty for being so good about the trade in.  They then both received a new toothbrush, $5 each and they still have enough sweets for a couple of months.  Result!

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Partial Solar Eclipse October 23, 2014 in California

We have been very fortunate to watch a lunar eclipse and now a partial solar eclipse here in California.  The day started out very cloudy, unusual for here, but the clouds cleared about 20 minutes before the eclipse.  Michael took the afternoon off and we made viewing boxes out of shoe-boxes, and then we made a whole viewing area.  We attached some binoculars to a tripod, put some cardboard around it and projected the image onto some paper, worked a treat!  The large solar flares on the sun are huge, so I was happy that I got those photographed.  I believe they are known as AR 12192, the largest solar flares in this past 11 year solar maximum.

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Hazel & I in Dreamcatcher

When Michael and I knew we were moving to California for the year, we decided to get the kids their own tablets. (We went for an inexpensive version, bought with our vouchers-so basically free, but a good buy!) The idea was that if they had their own tablets it would make it easier for the children to stay in touch with their friends in the UK, and we also knew it would help pass the time in the hotel during our month long stay. Kieran has mostly used his for games, whereas Hazel has been using hers to stay connected with friends, but she also discovered the world of book blogs, especially those of her favourite authors.

When she realized this, she happily started to follow a few. The blogs have provided Hazel with a wealth of information, she has won a few books, she has also learned so many new things and she has met many people online (in a safe environment) who have the same interests as her. It was when she stumbled across Cathy Cassidy’s blogzine, Dreamcatcher, as well as her Facebook page, that Hazel actually became more involved with the online pre-teen to teen reading world. It was a great outlet for Hazel during our time of transition, and I am thrilled that she had such a positive online experience, with something new each and every day to discuss.

Hazel had gotten to know the author, Cathy Cassidy online and she really enjoys Cathy’s Facebook page as well. Hazel has been able to have online discussions about so many important topics and many ‘just for fun’ topics with other like-minded teens. This year, Cathy Cassidy started doing an online series about ‘Mother-Daughter’ relationships, and Hazel and I were thrilled to be invited to participate, and here is our interview from August 2014:

Dreamcatcher: Hazel: Mom is my-biggest-supporter

If you have a child interested in reading, two of the blogs Hazel has enjoyed are:

Cathy Cassidy: Dreamcatcher

Girls Heart Books  (Many, many authors contribute to this blog, but Jo Cotterill is the main ‘administrator’.)

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9 Days

9 days: 2,362 miles, 3 States, 2 Countries, 6 hotels, a zillion bugs killed by car (mostly in Oregon), over 1000 photos and all because when I was 13 I stood in front of the TV in complete shock watching a volcano erupt and I was mortified that there were volcanoes (about 70) on the mainland in the USA and I had had no idea they existed. I had to see Mt St Helens, and the Cascade Range. Going to Vancouver Island, Canada, was to also fulfill my lifelong dream of going there. Thank you Michael, Hazel and Kieran for indulging my wish to see so many places! xxx

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No Uniforms Allowed, a history

If we were in England, Kieran would have started secondary school this week, which means we are officially past the primary school years.  Home educating our children was the only thing I ever considered for our two; school never entered my mind as an option.  We don’t generally keep track of the ‘school years’, but this does seem an appropriate time to reflect back on the choice we made.  I wrote this post years ago during the  during the Badman Era, and though I wrote it at a time I was very anti-the-establishment of schools, I wouldn’t change what I wrote.  We continue to facilitate the children with their education and will continue to do so as they prepare for their futures.  It is the lifestyle that fits all of our needs as individuals and our family unit as a whole.

We realized very early into this way of life that the weather in England is generally lovely when the schools open, so we have tended to take time off during September.  Then as the children got older, we decided to have an outing on the actual first day of school to celebrate our choice of lifestyle and I started to post photos called ‘No Uniforms Allowed’.  This year we decided to do our photos in August when the California children went back to school.  We spent a lovely afternoon at Half Moon Bay, California.  In honour of this tradition and as a time of reflection, I put together this slideshow of photos starting from the year Hazel would have started school.  They are all taken in the month of September.  The photos in the early years were just ‘normal’ photos of the children, the ‘No Uniform Allowed’ outings started in about 2010.   In the early photos they look to me like babes, and I still, to this day, feel children start school far too young.  I am ever so happy our two could just be children whose only priority was to play and to enjoy life.

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Half Moon Bay

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