Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Superman!

If you haven't already seen it, go see this documentary out right now.

Reasons to see this film:

 1. It's really well made and entertaining. Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) is a very talented film maker. It brought me to tears a few times.

2. It has a lot of eye opening information about our public school system, without (I thought) being too one-sided. He points a finger at part of the big problem and I think he's fair. It's a well thought-out argument, taking on both Democratic and Republican legislators and mostly, the teachers unions.

3.  It does have somewhat of a hopeful message at the end. It champions some of the successful charter schools that have emerged in recent years. When the filmmakers were on Oprah a month ago talking about the film, they mentioned some of the charter schools that are doing great things, and the charter school organization Nate works for, was mentioned and Oprah donated money to all of those schools!

4. My husband is in it!  Nate makes a few cameo appearances, as Guggenheim references another educational documentary he made 10 years ago that Nate was in, called The First Year  . Nate is still in touch a little bit with Davis Guggenheim, and he invited us to a screening in SF a few weeks ago. But we didn't know we'd see Nate (a younger Nate!) up there on the screen! That was kind of cool.

Nate hasn't told anyone that he's in it. And one of our best friends just gave him a really hard time when he discovered Nate was in it and Nate hadn't told him. So, at the risk of being a little braggy by association, as his wife, I think it's only appropriate to boast about my husband, since he won't.  :-)    I am so proud of all of the hard Nate puts in everyday at his charter school. It's a tough and thankless job most of the time. But I know that he is helping to shape little minds everyday and make this world a better place.  He's my superman.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The BIG Apple!


I never thought I would go to New York City. I never thought anything would ever take me there - no traveling job......or family member who lives there......Wait a minute!.........NOW WE DO!  Nate's brother Dominic and his lovey wife Sarah moved there recently to study, and now we had a couch to crash on! (actually....they oh so graciously gave us their bedroom, and THEY crashed on the couch. Sarah wasn't having it any other way, me being pregnant an all. I tried to protest , but she's the sweetest person in the world.)  When we found out they were moving to NYC, we were stoked! I have been craving a big trip (like out of the country, other culture kind of trip) and this trip is close enough. And, we found a great deal on a flight and Nate had a week off for Fall Break, so we were all set! The kid split time between my sister's house and Nate's parents'. It was hard to leave them. This is the longest we have left them, almost 5 days. But we figured with baby #3 coming soon, there won't be a big trip for at least a couple of years, maybe longer.

So, I know NYC is NOT leaving the country, but it was the culture shock I was looking for.  We walked forever through a part of Brooklyn one day and discovered we were in a very Orthodox Jewish part of the city. Everyone we saw was wearing traditional Jewish clothing and hair styles. It was so neat. (And they didn't seem to mind that Nate and I stood out.) I didn't see a single person for about 20 blocks who wasn't Jewish, except us. And then just a few blocks away from Dominic and Sarah's place in the Bronx, was Little Italy.....people speaking only Italian to each other. It was so neat. Riding the subway everyday, I heard a few different dialects of Spanish. It made me very proud to be American, that so many different cultures can call this country home.

We made a list of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to see while Dominic and Sarah studied and worked all day. Nate had been to NY before, so he wasn't in favor of all the touristy stuff, but I dragged him on one tour to see a special lady. It's hard to tell by the look on his face, I think he's glad he went.

Nate is sort of a Statue of Liberty know it all because when he was in 5th grade his class did a big school play about it and he sang this biggest solo or something. My husband is so funny sometimes.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~Emma Lazarus
We called Finn and Selah from Liberty Island, and told him we were looking up at the Statue of Liberty. It was fun to talk to Finn about things and places that he knows about. He's at a really great age.

When we got off the boat, we were definitely done with tours, being herded like a bunch of sheep on and off the dock wasn't fun. But I'm glad we saw such a monumental......monument. :-)

Dominic and Sarah live just a couple blocks from Fordham University. where Dominic is studying and also the New York Botanical Garden. Both are such beautiful places. We strolled through on our first morning there.
I just had to capture the dress-alike brothers.

This is just an example of how beautiful Fordham is. I would love to study in a place like this. (sorry Sac State, but you just don't compare.)

On to the rest of the city.....

I was impressed with the number of little parks tucked within the city. There really are old men sitting there playing chess, just like I pictured!

I love how these old cathedrals were right up there against those skyscrapers. So New York. I knew there would be a ton of people in Manhattan, but it really did blow my mind. The city is huge! The tall buildings go on for days! And People are all buzzing around just like I expected, with places to go, things to do, minding their own business. It was sort of strange to be in a city so full of people, yet not interact with anybody.

 Ground Zero. I think everyone will always remember where they were when they first heard the the twin towers were hit. It's like the "where were you when JFK was shot" question for our generation.  I was up coaching Sac State Rowing when the first plane hit. We were lifting weights, listening to the radio when the news cut in. Ironically, I started a journaling for the first time in several years on Sept. 10th of that year. My second entry was crazy.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We loved this. But museums take a lot out of me. It was incredible. There is TOO much to see. I could spend all day staring at paintings and statues and jewelry from 500AD.....but my legs started to hurt. So there' a place nearby where we just crashed on the grass for about an hour. Central Park!

I loved Central Park.
Brooklyn is a such a cool area. Very hip. Lots of art, young people chatting it up in coffee shops. It reminded me a little of San Fran or maybe Seattle. I don't know.....but I liked it.
serious man
Our foody friends recommended this coffee shop in Brooklyn.  Mine's the pretty one. (decaf, but delicious!) 

We always find ourselves poking around cool used book stores. That seems to be a thing for us no matter where we go.

Times Square is CRAZY! There was so much eye candy, I didn't even know where to look half the time. Advertisement overload....but pretty cool to see, I must say. Nate and Dominic were in a bar watching a sports news, and then we all walked a couple of blocks away in Time's Square and passed by a window where they were doing that sports news show! It was so weird to be right in the middle of it all.

 Our last night, the four of us went to a Braodway show! We saw one of the newest Tony award winningshows on Broadway, In the Heights! It was so good. The music was great, and there was a lot of rap an just syncopated talking mixed in with the music. Very original. And it was just so exciting to see a show downtown while we were there. Jordin Sparks (former American Idol winner I guess) was the lead., with an amazing voice. (Thank you Dominic for standing in line for a long time to get us the "cheap" tickets.)

Some other highlights were, shopping on 5th Ave, hearing talented musicians on the street, reading on the subway (I never get the chance to read for a long period of time and I read a whole book on this trip! I recommend The Book was great), dinner with our friends who moved there from SB and have this awesome food blog, getting a "slice" almost everyday (NY pizza really IS better!), and just hanging out in the mornings and evenings with Dominic and Sarah in their adorable apartment. All in all, I am SO glad we went. And now it feels really good to be home. I missed our kids! They had a blast with their cousins and grandparents. It feels good to be home bodies together as a family again. 

So long New York.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bishop's Pumpkin Farm

 We got our pumpkin patch outing out of the way early this year, with my sister, the cousins and my folks. It was the first week they opened and it was still in the didn't quite feel like Halloween season. But the kids had a blast of course. I love this farm. It's way more amped up than it used to be when I was a kid. It used to just be a petting zoo and a hay ride. Now they've got slides and games and shows and food. (sigh....... our kids are so spoiled these days.) Looking at these photos, I'm realizing that I took basically the exact same ones during last year's trip. Well, it is what it is.
Train ride with the Grandfolks.

We went on a weekday and Finn basically had Coyote Mountain all to himself. It's a madhouse usually.

Selah, mining for marbles!

The Mother Goose show  - about the importance of nutrition. Way to go Mother Goose! (Now don't forget to get a caramel apple and some pumpkin pie on your way out, kids!) I tease. It was cute.

Selah couldn't resist grooving to the music during the show.

This is the best I was going to get out of the kids. Pumpkin fun takes a lot out of you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Dipsea Trail!

We have been meaning to do this hike since we moved here. The Dipsea trail starts in Mill Valley and ends up in Stinson Beach. It's beautiful and shady for a lot of it, under the big redwoods, and then opens up to the sunny open air, with a perfect view of the finish line. The beach is so cute. You never know what the weather will be like in the bay area when you leave Sacramento.  When we hiked this a couple of weeks ago, we were all prepared with our sweatshirts and it turned out to be in the 80's and a hot beach day for the whole town. Such a fun day.
Finn has been obsessed with pointing out "steep ravines" for a couple of years now. We were very excited to find out the name of the start of the dipsea hike.
Selah started in the backpack, but wanted to run so bad! She did most of the hike on foot.

Finn was such an awesome little hiker. And it was one of the longer ones we've been on, well over an hour.

I love this place!

A little friend we met along the way.

Finn stood right there for about an hour, occasionally throwing handfuls of wet sand back into the ocean where it belongs.

Has anyone seen Selah?

This was such a wonderful day, and I just sat there on the beach staring at my kids, marveling at their adventurousness.  I didn't bring a book, or my swimsuit. I just sat there gloriously soaking it all Nate hitchhiked to to Mill Valley to get our car, a tradition we've done a few times now on this hike, and hasn't landed us in any sketchy situations.....thus far.