Christmas lights at Gilroy Gardens

Mommy's handmade advent calendar told us today's activity was to head to Gilroy Gardens, which is lit up everywhere for the holiday season. Grandma Jessie and Papa joined us, and we all piled into Blue Lagoda for a trek to Gilroy. (Why is Google Maps taking us through this winding mountain road? Oh, because that's how you have to get there.) Steve and Zachary went ice skating and rode the roller coaster (3 times in a row), all ate pizza and hot chocolate, we saw The Peanuts Christmas Show, and it was all quite lovely, and after bedtime. 

But before that, we started the day with a lovely birthday cake that Avery and Grandma Jessie made for Ariel. Happy birthday, Mommy! 

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Christmas Tree Day

Today was our annual Christmas Tree Day. But the day threw us a curveball. We headed up to Ward Ranch in Bonny Doon, where we've gone the past few years. But when we got to the entrance, we discovered a chain across the driveway with a sign telling us they were closed for the season. "See you in 2019." Well, that doesn't do us any good now! Thankfully, there were signs for another Christmas Tree farm a little bit farther up into the woods. We arrived at Crest Christmas Tree Farm, which was huge and full of trees almost as far as the eye could see. We picked out a good one after a bit of searching, and the strong women of the family cut it down! 

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Happy Being Grateful Day

Today was very much a day of being grateful and focusing on what we're grateful for. With the rain coming and the smoke from the forest fires abating, Steve took Nyla for a morning walk along the cliffs overlooking the Bay, and they were treated to some beautiful sunrise views. Ariel slept in a bit and then had a lovely run along the coast, with some spectacular views of her own. Then it was time to get down to cooking. Grandma whipped out two delicious dessert pies (assisted greatly by Avery), while the kids expressed some serious skepticism about a "vegetarian Thanksgiving." But we pulled it off, and the kids really enjoyed it. The main course was a Mushroom Wellington, which turned out better in the puff pastry dough than in the pie crust. Accompaniments included mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, fennel-apple salad, roasted butternut squash with onions, and cranberry sauce. So good! And now I'm going to stop writing so I can have some leftovers for lunch. 

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Avery's wonderful phonetic spelling above may need some translation. She wrote: Nyla Rose Gray UCLA. She is a great dog. We love having her as our dog. Information: we got her when she was 2 years old. And at the bottom, she wrote: Nyla Rose Gray thawing, because she learned the word "thawing" as we were thawing the frozen pie crusts. 

 

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The kids then decided on their own, just before dinner, that they'd get dressed up nice for Thanksgiving dinner. So snazzy! 


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Avery needed to tell us "the manners" before the dinner could start. She is becoming quite the performer! 

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Blue Lagoda heads to the Pinnacles

What a weekend we just had. Zachary's friend's parents decided to do something entirely different for his birthday party, inviting a few families on an overnight weekend in the Pinnacles national park. The Pinnacles are about an hour and a half or so drive from Capitola, and as it turns out, it's basically a desert. So at this time of year while it doesn't get too hot during the day (70s/80s), it gets down to freezing at night. We saw that on the weather forecast, but most of the family was not really mentally prepared for it. So the night's sleep was a tricky one, with lots of shivering in the van, and lots of layers being worn. But the morning was beautiful and the hike and the caves were amazing. Such a great trip. 

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Harlem Globetrotters come to Santa Cruz

Steve was at work, thinking about what we might do tonight for a fun Friday evening with the family, when he got a surprise text from Ariel saying "we're going to see the Globetrotters tonight!" Friends of ours apparently had some extra tickets from a recent charity event, and the Globetrotters were coming to the Santa Cruz Warriors arena for one night only. So pizza downtown was followed by a short walk to the arena. The kids didn't really know what to expect, but they were quite entertained. The jokes haven't changed much since the early days when Steve saw them many years ago in Boston, but they're always fun anyway. 

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cats and underpants for Halloween

Getting ready for Halloween is a great treat for these kids, pun mostly intended. It's hard to tell whether they're more excited about the dressing up, their friends joining them, or the candy. And that's probably a good thing. This year's Halloween was no exception. After much back and forth between various ideas, Avery settled on a cat costume. Zachary made up his mind a while ago when seeing a Captain Underpants costume in a store with mom. They were joined by some friends in our neighborhood. Once we got back to the house, we handed out about 500+ pieces of candy, thanks to this very popular trick or treating neighborhood. Fun times were had by all! 

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2018 World Series, Game 5

Zachary was on cloud 9 all night after Game 4 (me too). We'd just seen our beloved ballclub win a World Series game in person, and did so with an epic comeback. And the team was now in a position, up 3 games to 1, to win the whole thing. Bedtime in the hotel basically entailed watching video highlights of the game in bed, until finally it was time to turn off the light and start trying to calm down. 

After a good night's sleep, we walked down to old Pasadena downtown for some well-earned pancakes, eggs, and sausages. 

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After breakfast, which entailed Zachary declaring that that was the best day ever repeatedly, they started the walk back to the hotel. Zachary insisted that we head out quickly, so we could get back in time to watch the game on TV at home. But I thought that it would be a crying shame to spend six hours driving AWAY from Game 5 of the World Series just to watch it on TV.  So he had already texted with Ariel, who graciously offered to tell Zachary's teacher that he'd miss school on Monday. 

So while still out on the sidewalk, nearly back to the hotel, I asked Zachary to sit down for a second. "Do you want to stay another night and go to Game 5 tonight?" The look back was beyond priceless. An instant contortion of shock, confusion, excitement, and happiness. "Yes!" "Okay then, let's go ask the hotel if we can stay another night, and then see if we can get tickets." 

Of course the hotel was happy to take our money for another night, though we did move rooms to get one with two beds and a cheaper rate (a suite was all that was available the first night). And tickets, it turned out, were cheaper than for Game 4. Those Dodger fans must have been bummed that their team was down 3-1, so they sold. So we upgraded our seats from the night before to about 6 rows behind the right field line for about $200/ticket less than the night before. Score. 

Nothing else to do during the day, so we headed to the ballpark early again. This time we ended up parking on a different side (much closer to our seats this time, which was nice), but still found a nice open patch of parking lot to play catch in again. We then announced our presence with matching uniforms, and the security guard insisted that we go back and start our walk up to the gates again so he could take a picture. 

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Now, back in the ballpark, and back near the Red Sox bullpen, to see if Zachary could snag another autograph. And he did! On his own, he walked right over the the bullpen fence and got pitching coach Dana LeVangie's autograph added to his ball from yesterday. No more after that, and no Red Sox batting practice again. 

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To the seats, where we were pleasantly surprised to be mostly surrounded by Red Sox fans. There were Dodger fans two seats to Zachary's left, a couple of Dodger fans right behind us, but in front, to our right, behind to the left, two rows back, three rows back, and on and on: Red Sox fans. All hoping to see history for our team tonight. Made for a fun atmosphere. 

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Did I mention we had pretty good seats for this game too? Oh, and #33 in the picture below is really Jason Varitek, warming up the pitching staff. My '04 and '18 teams colliding! 

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While getting our mini-batting-helmet soft-served ice cream for the pre-game, another kindly stranger asked if he could take our picture for us, which gave us this keeper. 

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Okay, nerves are starting to set in. Almost game time. 

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This one was different from Game 4. Steve Pearce set the tone early with a 2-run homer in the first inning to give the Red Sox the lead right out of the gate. David Freese led off the Dodgers' half with a solo home run to make it 2-1, but then David Price really started cruising. The only other ball the Dodgers really hit well was Freese's fly ball to right in the third that JD Martinez lost in the lights right in front of us, yielding a triple with one out. But when the Dodgers weren't able to bring him in, the Dodger fan behind us (not pictured below) slammed his hat onto our seats and I gave him a dirty look because he nearly whacked Zachary and he apologized and we went about our ways and that was that. 

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The fun really started in the 6th. That was when a string of three straight innings with a Red Sox homer started. Mookie in the 6th, JD in the 7th, and Steve Pearce again in the 8th. Party time, people. Each one brought on rounds of high fives with strangers (is there anything better than high fives with strangers celebrating your team?). 

And here's Zachary firing up the crowd in the 9th. 

 



 

And here's Chris Sale, one strike away from making Manny Machado look like a shmuck to the end the game. 

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Ball game! Red Sox win! 

 

 

The rest below is pictures of the party, shortly after which Zachary said he was tired and wanted to go to bed. But we got to join in a lot of "Let's go Red Sox!" chants, along with chants of "Thank you David" to a teared up David Price, "E-o-val-di" for Game 3 hero Nate Eovaldi, "Who's your daddy?" chants for Pedro Martinez, and big cheers for Alex Cora, and for David Price's and Brock Holt's adorable toddlers. I don't know what else to say, other than what a night, what an experience. 

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2018 World Series, Game 4

I'm writing this after the World Series has ended, but I'm splitting it up into two posts, because there's just so much here to process. First, let's start with the League Championship Series. While the Red Sox were dispatching the defending champion Astros in five games thanks to some amazing outfield play (saving Craig Kimbrel from multiple implosions), I was silently rooting for the Dodgers. Not because I have anything for the Dodgers or anything against the Brewers, but because if the Sox played the Dodgers in the World Series, then I'd consider taking Zachary to a game. 

This season was Zachary's breakout baseball season. He followed the Red Sox season intensely. Every night at bedtime in the beginning of the season (the Red Sox started out 17-2, remember), he'd ask me if the Red Sox won, how many wins they now had, and how many wins other teams had because he was really enjoying the Red Sox leading the league in games won. When the Yankees caught up to the Red Sox for a little while mid-season, he got nervous. And he started checking the scores on his own. His Kindle Fire took the place of my childhood's newspaper and box score (and SportsCenter), and he'd turn it on most mornings to check the scores and watch the highlights. Soon he was informing me what happened in the baseball world at the end of each day. 

So for the Red Sox to win 108 games -- the most in their history -- and make it to the World Series in his first year really following the team was just all too good to be true. We're honestly a little worried about his baseball fandom now, as how spoiled can you possibly get? But I digress. 

The Dodgers won the National League, and looking at the schedule for the World Series games, the Los Angeles games would be on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Can't ask for anything more. I still didn't say anything to anyone, not wanting to get anyone's hopes up, and also not really wanting to go all the way down there if the Sox were in a big hole in the Series. So we watched. 

The Sox took a 2 games to none lead in Boston, and then they were off to L.A. Game 3 will go down in history. A friend of mine was at the game. He had actually texted me a few days before thinking that he might have an extra ticket, but I told him I'd need TWO extra tickets, because I wasn't going to see the Red Sox in the World Series without Zachary. He did not have two extra tickets. So Zachary (and Avery and Ariel and Grandma Jessie) watched Game 3 on the couch. Or, at least, we watched a lot of baseball, but I was the only one who stayed up until 1am to watch all 18 innings. Around the 10th inning or so, I asked Zachary if he wanted to go to Game 4 with me. That was a silly question! Of course! He was so excited. And then he stayed up about three hours past his bedtime, only to not get to see the end of the game, because it would just never end. All throughout the last few extra innings, I was online finding tickets and a hotel. Flights were booked, so we'd be driving, which was fine with me, because it gave us more flexibility in when we left. You know, just in case we wanted to delay our departure. 

The Sox lost that 18-inning, longest-postseason-game-ever game, so they were up 2-1 going into Game 4. Tickets were not cheap, as Dodger fans now had some hope. We got up on Saturday morning, packed our stuff, ball and gloves, etc., and hit the road. Zachary brought a bunch of Red Sox books, but we don't do tablets in the car, so we passed the time listening to MLB Radio and episodes of The Sporkful Podcast. I wanted to get there early in case there was going to be any batting practice, so we went straight to Dodger Stadium, not stopping at the hotel. 

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I also brought an old authentic MLB baseball that I had in a box in the garage, and a pen, in case Zachary got a chance to try to get an autograph. He was pretty shy about it at first, but I gave him some instructions on how to go up to the wall, how to ask, how to be aggressive yet polite with the folks around him, and he did it! That's relief pitcher Hector Velazquez's signature on that baseball. 

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Oh, that last picture just above, that was the first of many times a friendly stranger offered to take our picture. 

The Red Sox did not end up taking batting practice (not surprising, given they played for nearly seven and a half hours last night / this morning). So we hung out in our seats for a while, waiting for the game to start. We had a couple of Red Sox fans next to us, but were mostly surrounded by Dodger fans. 

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After Dennis Eckersley threw out the first pitch to Kirk Gibson in honor of the famous '88 home run, the game started the way Game 3 ended, with very little offense. Eduardo Rodriguez was throwing great for the Red Sox. Until the 6th inning. A hit batter and a double put two Dodgers in scoring position with one out, and an intentional walk loaded the bases. But then a grounder to first -- can we turn two? Nope. Out at the plate, but the throw back to first for the double play went into right field, and we were crestfallen. Had we driven all this way to see the Red Sox still not be able to score a run, and give the game away on an error? With the Dodgers up 1-0 and two runners on with two outs, Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate. On a 3-1 pitch, he crushed it deep into the left field bleachers. Zachary has been watching enough baseball to know when a ball is on its way out, so he didn't even watch the full flight of the ball. He just buried his head in my shoulder and cried, the intense crowd roar confirming for him his worst fear. 4-0 Dodgers in the 6th. Baseball-Reference.com's "win probability" gave the Red Sox a 5% chance of winning the game following that home run. Little did we know, the rest of the weekend would be perfect. 

But these are not your grandfather's Red Sox, Zachary. These are not your daddy's childhood Red Sox either. These Red Sox find a way. Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt walked, and then Mitch Moreland hit a three-run home run to right field that sent the Red Sox fans dancing. 4-3 game. After the Dodgers went pretty quietly in the bottom of the 7th, they brought in their closer Kenley Jansen for the 8th. Jansen is not used to pitching in the 8th, and had thrown in the marathon game yesterday. Maybe he'd be tired? 

Steve Pearce. Solo home run. Tie game. Dancing, ecstatic Red Sox fans. We're back in it. 

Joe Kelly escapes the eighth inning with his second scoreless inning, stranding a runner on third. And the Red Sox's offense just exploded in the top of the 9th. Five runs on five hits, including a bases clearing three-run double by Steve Pearce, that had both of us jumping out and down and screaming like mad men. 

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What a game. No offense for six innings, down 4-0, a 5% chance of winning the game, and then the comeback. Nine runs in the last three innings. And now a 3-1 Series lead. 

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Time to head to the hotel and get some sleep. Zachary wants to be sure we get on the road in the morning to get home in time to watch Game 5 on TV. Daddy has other ideas, though. 

 

 


kids dress up for Career Day

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" This is a fun question to track as the kids grow up. This year, there were no surprises, and the kids got to dress up as their chosen future profession for school today. The choices? Avery is a vet (note the small furry animal in her pocket). And Zachary is a Red Sox player. Where do they come up with these things??? 

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our first (of many?) soccer tournament

Ariel didn't even know how to pronounce "tourney" -- that's how new we are to this world of sports-filled weekends. But Zachary's competition soccer team had its first weekend tournament this weekend. This was a Santa Cruz invitational tournament, meaning Zachary's club is the host. This provided good news and surprise news. The good news was that all our games were a five-minute walk from our house (awesome!). The surprise news was that a parent (ahem, Steve) needed to volunteer for three hours helping out at the tournament events. But it was all good. Zachary and his team played well, rolling through the two Saturday games. The morning Sunday semi-final game was a nail-biter, but the Breakers came out on top 2-1. The final against Watsonville was another story. But hey, ribbons/medals for second place is fun too! Great job kids! 

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