200 Years of Castro Valley History {Field Trip 2016}

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Captions by: Melody
Introduction and Photos by: Joyce
More info here –> adobegallery.org

One of our favorite things about the library are the cool display cases with new collections in them every month. One of them has a bunch of art work in it this month, and we saw someone was going to have their work displayed at the Adobe Art Gallery, we were reminded that there was a CV History exhibit on display. So we took our books and headed to Adobe Art Gallery. It was a rainy, rainy day, but we figure we would take advantage of that since there will (hopefully) be fewer people there and we will be able to see more of the stuff.

Getting There
Adobe Art Gallery is kind of hidden, but from Castro Valley Boulevard, starting from Safeway, you go straight down Castro Valley Boulevard all the way to San Miguel Avenue, turn right, and then you come to a stop right before you see the yellow signs about the pedestrian crossing for the schools. Then you’ll see the sign that says Adobe Art Gallery. We got mixed up on the buildings and on parking, but you just follow the sign and go into the parking lot, then you’ll see a wall that has paintings on it. From there you turn left and then you’ll see a building that says, “Redwood Studio.” You park in front of it in the parking lot and walk to the right and turn left and open a door. You’ve arrived!

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Exhibit
When we entered, I knew we had come to the right place. There were panels everywhere that had photos on them. A lady at a desk told us to go around so we walked around the gallery, starting from a panel that says Panel #1. Castro Valley used to be a chicken farm! The glass display below shows an egg case.
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Castro Valley Library has changed in the past. In 2009, they started construction on the new library. They also have a lot of old newspaper clippings on the panels, which I thought was cool.
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Above is my sister pointing to the hospital where she was born. They demolished the hospital after, and then built a new one. We got a tour of the new one a couple years back. Below is a picture of an egg scale.
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Trader Joe’s opened on Redwood Road next to our church. They got in the panel! I don’t know when this newspaper is from, but now we can go and get food for lunch after church!
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Speaking of churches, here is a photo of 3Crosses a long time ago. Still looks the same as it does today! And next to it is the people who the schools in Castro Valley are named after, including Strobridge Elementary and Stanton Elementary School.20161215_141307

As we were walking to see some films, which you’ll hear about shortly, we saw a huge photo…of Castro Valley, aerial view! We tried to find our house, and succeeded! So below is a picture of us pointing to our house! Find us if you can! 😉
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Film
After we took a picture with Castro Valley, we headed into the room where a film was being played. I don’t mean a video or episode, a film! They collected old film footage dated way back from the 1920’s or the 1950’s and then made a video out of it! Did you know that Castro Valley Boulevard used to be a 2-lane road? That was way back in the olden days! And that Adobe Art Center was once the first schoolhouse? And you’ll never guess what was there before Starbucks moved in!20161215_142053

 

On our way out, we signed the guest registry and took some crossword puzzles for home. I’m still doing mine! We think that we were supposed to do it during the tour, but that’s okay. I’ll finish it eventually!

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What are some of the interesting local-to-you spots you have visited as a tourist in your own town? If you are in the SF Bay, where are some of your favorite places to visit or where would you like to go visit?

Check out more photos in our 200 Years of CV Exhibit PHOTO ALBUM.

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USS Hornet Museum {Field Trip 2016}

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Captions by: Melody
Introduction and Photos by: Joyce
Free passes courtesy of Alameda County Libraries’ Discover & Go Program
More info here –> USS Hornet Museum

While I’m not a fan of the high cost of living, I love being here in the San Francisco Bay Area! It is our never-ending playground! Most, if not all, of you know that we love the library. (We’ll need to do some kind of blog post about this sometime!) This school year, we decided to make use of the Alameda County Libraries’ Discover & Go Program. There are so many participants in the program, it can be hard to choose which one to get passes for. (They are all a little different…some will take mobile passes, some you have to print out, some are for 1 adult and 2 kids, some are for a total of 5 people, etc.) I had been to the USS Hornet Museum as a kid, but this was the girls’ first time there. I thought they would be bored (which was quasi-true toward the end of the loooong tour…still interesting, but it involved a lot of walking and they wanted to explore on their own). We got there later in the afternoon because we went to the Japanese Garden and lunch with my mom earlier, so we will definitely have to go back again some day. Also great to see my high school friend Carrie! She will be in the museum store if you ever stop by. It’s a bit lengthy, but Melody did a fantastic job sharing how our day was like at the USS Hornet Museum, so read on, friends!

Before We Got There
At first, when we were trying to find a place to park, we didn’t know where to go, because the USS Hornet is kind of in a place that reminds you of a shipyard. Actually, it is! Some of the ships can instantly take off anytime the US declares war, but others, like the USS Hornet, are retired, and cannot go anywhere else. And then, after we finally got to where the ships were (that was scary!), we had to find parking. We couldn’t tell where the USS Hornet was, because it was so hidden. After we found the correct place to park (after 10+ minutes!), we saw a sign that said: “Welcome to the USS Hornet Museum.” And that’s how we found it!
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Also, when you turn to the left of the sign, you walk to this walkway and it leads you to these stairs. Actually, a lot of stairs. I (Melody) am scared of heights, so I was terrified at the thought of ACTUALLY entering the USS Hornet – the real one, not a duplicate. We had to cross of the water to enter! <gulp> The thought of me falling! But luckily, we made it, and I’ll tell you the rest, just scroll down and I’ll tell you facts…
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Guided Tour
Yes! You made it! Okay, so we went on the guided tour, but not the audio tour. I don’t know what the audio tour is like, because I only went on the guided one, but I looked at the handbook on the ship, and you get to see more on this guided tour. We had a guide named Dennis, who used to be a high school principal. This was the last tour of the day, so we made it just in time. There was another guy named John, and he was actually a veteran of the war, and it was cool that he was there and we met him.
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Here is a view of the runway from a place up above (I forgot where exactly) and when I heard the news, I couldn’t believe my ears. Being a captain, or on the crew, is a very hard job! You only have one chance to land your plane on the runway, and five seconds before those yellow-black thingies release a net that stops the plane. But this can actually still not stop the plane from crashing! This is why you have to be very skilled and trained in order to fly these types of planes.
20160915_144750And this is a view from a lookout on the ship. Here’s another fact for you: During the war, the places where the ship’s lookout and the ship’s captain were were on opposite sides of the boat. In order to tell the captain there was an enemy ship advancing on them, or there was a bomb coming, a crew member, only about 16-18 years old, sometimes WITHOUT training, had to race up or down those very hard steps to climb, and then back down again to keep his post. Whew! Being a crew member is very hard work!
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This was one of our last stops on our tour. This is one of the most important rooms in the entire ship, where the controls of the ship are. After the lookout tells the captain, the captain runs to the control room and tells the person standing there to stop the ship – well, not without help, of course. You can also steer from this room, which is why this is such an important room that the captain spends so much time in. He even has an extra bedroom right next to it, so he can be up and ready to go in case of danger!
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Looking Around
After the tour ended, Dennis told us we could just look around if we wanted. So we did! See these planes? They are mostly army planes, and they didn’t tell us, but I think the reason why it is a shark is to scare enemies away, and if it didn’t, to remind them that we Americans are fierce. And it was so windy there, so make sure to bring a coat if you ever go there!
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We actually stood on the runway, where we began our tour, of course, after we climbed some steps! I think my legs needed some serious exercise before then, so people, here is your workout for the week! And there is the view of the Bay again – just beautiful, I just love seeing the Bay.
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20160915_154446This, I believe, is a Army helicopter. But the USS Hornet didn’t only carry army supplies. It picked up Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon! if you don’t know this, when astronauts return from their trips, a ship usually picks them up. And Richard Nixon also stepped foot on the USS Hornet! Amazing!
20160915_154509After we returned from all of that wind, as you can see from the previous photos, we climbed all of those stairs again and then saw this plane. It’s an original Navy plane!
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We didn’t have any coins with us, so we just traded in dollars for cents, and then after that we got pressed pennies from the museum store. There were many different options, and we got them all! I don’t know about you, but still, after all this time, I still enjoy watching those pennies transform.
20160915_155830Then, as we got ready to leave, I saw something that caught my eye. A ship registry! It was for everyone to sign their names. I just love registries! So I wrote our names down in the book, and then we walked out the door.
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All in all, I think our trip to the USS Hornet was great. I learned a lot. Before, my cousin went to the museum, and I thought, “Oh, it’s just some old museum that you learn a few facts and then you leave.” But I really learned a lot, and I highly encourage you to go for a day. It’s still the same ship that it was so long ago (it’s held up by ropes) and there is a whole ton of history behind it. I shouldn’t reveal any more to you, because then you won’t learn anything when you go! The USS Hornet is really and truly amazing. Go and learn more about it!

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Tips: Wear comfy shoes if you take the guided tour! Bring a jacket to wear, it is windy out there.

What are some of the interesting local-to-you spots you have visited as a tourist in your own town? Does your library have a Discover and Go-type program? If you are in the SF Bay, where are some of your favorite places to visit or where would you like to go visit?

Check out more photos in our USS Hornet Museum PHOTO ALBUM.

San Francisco Excursion 2015

It’s been a year since our last San Francisco excursion, and since we were out in San Francisco for my grandma’s 109th birthday, we decided to be tourists for a few hours. We always go out to SF to visit with friends and family, so the girls don’t understand that people go to visit it as tourists! So fun to show them around our hometown! 🙂

I would imagine that being a real tourist in SF would be tricky because the maps are a little deceiving. It looks easy to get from one place to another, but you have to take into account the one-way streets, steeps hills, lots of other tourists, and having to look for parking! To give you an idea of a time frame, we got to Coit Tower at about 3:30pm and left Chinatown at about 5:30pm.

Trip Itinerary

  • Coit Tower
  • Cable Car Museum
  • AA Bakery

More on my grandma later… (photo credit: my cousin’s hubby Jason)

Coit Tower
We left my grandma’s around 3:30pm and headed to Coit Tower. I have been there a few times, but I have always walked there from Chinatown to watch the sunrise during the weekend of our youth group 30-Hour Famine lock-in. I had no clue about how to actually get there by car or about the parking situation. Luckily, there were signs that pointed the way there. The parking area at the top is quite small (maybe space for a little more than a dozen cars), so plan to park down the hill (but NOT in the residents’ driveways or your car will be towed) and walk up some stairs (we were fairly close but still had to walk up 50 steps or so) or the walkway. Even the view from where we parked was amazing, so if you don’t want to shell out $7/person to go to the top of the tower, you won’t be disappointed.

View from where we parked


Walking up

Coit Tower

Murals inside the tower

Statue of Christopher Columbus

Cable Car Museum
We got to the Cable Car Museum a little before 4:30pm. It is always hard to find a parking space in the area, so if you drive or have a rental car in SF, be patient…someone will eventually pull out of a spot. You maybe need to circle around a few times…it will take at least 15 minutes to find something in the area. Yeah, it’s not very convenient… Taking MUNI or a cable car would be your next best bet to getting to the museum. BUT, once you are there, the museum is FREE, so there’s that. :p Warning: It does smell like oil in the museum, and it is pretty warm and stuffy inside since machinery is running inside. The hallway to the restrooms and exit, where the 1906 earthquake exhibit is, has a nice breeze blowing through it.

Can you tell they were excited to be here?

The four remaining cable lines are running down there!

Ringing the bell *ding ding*

Interesting facts and videos about the earthquake…quite eerie to read about the impact of the shake

Yay!

We decided to make one last stop to Chinatown. It is a short (5ish minutes depending on where you are going) walk to all the shops. The store where we usually buy tea was closed, which was a bummer. We usually go to Napoleon Bakery for buns, but since it was the end of the day, there wasn’t a huge selection to choose from. We went across the street to AA Bakery. The buns were super yummy as usual! And…we were excited to head home after a long day.

The girls always ask about the Transamerica Pyramid when they see it in SF. In case anyone is wondering, it is not open to the public to tour, but there is a visitor center in the plaza level. We’ll have to visit here for some day.

Headed back home across the bridge

It was a beautiful day to visit SF!

The album is not organized at all, but if you want to see other photos from our SF excursion, you can check them out HERE.

If you want a whole day’s adventure (11ish hours with 2 kiddos and actual visitors!), check out THIS POST.

Even though I’m a huge homebody, we definitely have the travel bug, so we are always planning another adventure.

What is your favorite travel destination and why? Have you been to San Francisco? What are your fave places to go or things to do in SF?

My Day with (Flat) Flash

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

I shared in a FB post at the beginning of the month: I started reading Flash and can’t wait to find out more about what a homeless donkey can teach me about life, faith, and second chances. Rachel was one of the very first bloggers I “followed” 7 years ago!, and if my house seems remotely uncluttered or clean to you, it’s all thanks to her and Minimum Maintenance. Be on the lookout for more about Rachel and Flash soon!

In term of blogging, 7 years is pretty much an eternity, so we’ve “known” each other forever! Some of my favorite online friends are from the Company Girl Coffee link-ups, and I hope we will some day all meet up for coffee! It was also a fun little surprise when Emily showed up on Home Sanctuary. That same year, I shared why Home Sanctuary is a Site We Love. If you would like to make your home a sanctuary, check out the Small Things.

I love Flash..both the book and the donkey. If you don’t think you could learn a thing or two from a donkey, think again! Flash may teach you something about life. Below are some takeaway wisdom from each chapter of the book, along with some pics from our day with Flat Flash on World Donkey Day. Enjoy!

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Some days just call for chocolate, tea, and a book about a donkey. Priscilla Shirer and Rachel Anne Ridge had a webcast about Finding God in the Everyday Moments – how God uses our interruptions, inconvenient situations and everyday moments to speak to us. You can watch that HERE –> rachelanneridge.com/webcast.10434373_10153343017396155_3236913975459758276_n

Happy World Donkey Day! Follow me and Flat Flash in our adventures today. He was a little confused why there was cleaning stuff in the car. We started out our day with 7 other friends cleaning another friend’s house. It was truly more of a blessing to us that she allowed us to serve her today.
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Repeat lunch from Taco Tuesday and dishes done! It’s an adventurous life for us.4IMG_20150508_133650

We took a walk to the mailbox to send a letter to Emily’s penpal in Ohio. Flat Flash made sure to stop and smell the roses. That’s a rose, right? I’m so not a gardener, and have a brown thumb.
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A sampling of flowers we saw in our neighborhood on our walk to the mailbox… Thank you neighbors for making our neighborhood beautiful! 10,000,000 points to anyone who can name all those flowers! So far, no one has been able to name all 12 flowers.
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Flat Flash is a bit bored with me. My in-laws are over so I am using this (mostly) kid-free time to do some work on the computer, sign the kids up for VBS, etc. What have you been up to on this fine World Donkey Day?
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We finished eating dinner, the table is cleared, the dishes are washed, and the girls are getting ready to take a walk. They think it is just our usual after-dinner walk around the neighborhood, but we are actually going to ‘run into’ my hubby coming back from the train station. He has been out of town for the week on a work trip, and was able to fly back earlier than expected. The girls thought he would be back after they go to bed.
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They thought we were going to take an after-dinner walk (with Flat Flash), but look who’s home from a week-long work trip!!
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A snack before bedtime…our favorite varieties right now are Fuji and Ambrosia. Yum! I think Flash the Donkey would like them too. Flat Flash says don’t forget to brush your teeth (he needs to work on this one) and say your prayers!
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Flat Flash was curious about the package we received, and found out that Melody’s book about our Australian adventures arrived!
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What other adventures should Flat Flash go on?
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Melissa is the winner of our book giveaway. Yay! If you want to read Flash, make sure to head to your local bookstore or library, or you can get your own copy on Amazon.
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And if you have a moment, check out how donkeys are helping impoverished families around the world. You can sponsor a donkey just like Flash did!6a00d8341cc30c53ef01b8d1107dcf970c

Mini-Adventures in Everyday Moments

I believe that there is always an adventure to be had wherever you are, whether you are in the middle of the rainforest or coral reef in Australia, or at the elementary school where you grew up. Since we did the rainforest in Australia last month, it was on to something different!

We were headed home from hanging out with my mom and my nephew. It was actually pouring rain the night before, earlier that morning, and it was also forecasted to rain again, so I’m not sure what prompted to me, but I asked the girls if they wanted to go by my old elementary school. It is not on the way home, but we do pass by the street that goes into the neighborhood where the school is located. Anyhow, we were just going to drive by, but decided since either school was out or it was spring break, and there were no kids there, we could go check out where my old classrooms were.

Here’s the field where many miles were ran, tagged was played, Wacky Olympics happened, and so much more. It doesn’t show the whole field, but it’s pretty big.
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This is one of two or three play structures in the community park portion of the field. Every school in town has a community park that is on the side of the school next to the school field.
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So many memories! I think this is the second time they have changed the play area since I’ve been gone. Basketball courts and tetherball poles with their clanking chains are exactly the same. The old drinking fountain and the “time out” bench are exactly the same. Four Square area is now colorfully painted, and there are lots of new additions!!
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We only had a white paint outline of the country when I was in school. The girls didn’t mind doing school work during spring break. 😉 Too bad I didn’t know during the school year that all this stuff had been added. It would have been perfect for our Cycle 3 memory work. hahaha!
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This hopscotch is a little bigger than usual.
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Skip counting by 4s on the giant multiplication chart!
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If you know me, you know I love that recycled tires were used for this playground. But this is definitely NOT the playground I knew…where are all my monkey bars and the bars where I do flips and the jungle gym…? 😝
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Food pyramid –> My Pyramid –> My Plate….and she said all the food groups were her favorite.
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I can’t remember exactly which tree it is, but I helped plant one of these trees on Arbor Day when I was in 2nd grade. I tried to get a selfie, but by this time it got really cold and it looked like it was going to rain…okay, it got “California” cold and it did start raining after we got onto the freeway. (I think it was around 52*F, which is pretty much freezing for me.)
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Okay, and the photo from the beginning… I was actually taking it to show where I do my hikes with friends during the summer. It’s somewhere close to where the arrow is pointing (I think). Uphill hike for one mile…great view of the Bay…great view of the Lake…do watch out for dogs, there are lots!..but you can catch a great sunrise/set from here. Who wants to join in this summer? 😊
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What kinds of adventures have you had lately?

Disney Junior Pirate and Princess

We decided to make a day of a fun event happening in our area. I read that this event was part of Disney’s Summer of Service, and the tour only stopped in 7 cities. The theme of the event was Power of Doing Good, and all the little stations had activities related to doing good things.

We arrived a little past our time slot, but it doesn’t matter what time you get there because you just get in the line. It wasn’t too long, but still a bit of a wait with little ones. As with all thing Disney, they try to entertain you while in line, so that was good. There was a show playing on the screen, and someone came by to show you a Disney app on the iPad. While in line, we also got some swag. The girls got paper tiaras, which they were able to collect stickers on when they completed each station, and we also got reusable tote bags and water bottles. There is also a Family Service Guide which has a bunch of volunteering tips for parents of young children. There are some great ideas, which I might even share in a future post because I’m all about volunteering.

There was an Experience Guide which explained each of the stations, but I think parents just went in whatever direction their kids wanted to go. :p


Jake’s Beach Treasures – Treasure Nature
Care for Jake’s beach by finding nature’s treasures and placing them in the treasure chests.

Jake & Sofia’s Storytelling Maze – Discover the Power of Storytelling
Travel through the maze and complete your own Jake or Sofie storybook adventure.

The Enchancia Castle – Lend a Helping Hand
Share what you do to help out at home. Choose a magnetic stone and place it on the castle wall to help building the community of Enchancia.

Sofia’s Animal Friends – Care for Animals
Give Sofia’s animal friends food, love, care, and a home.

The Forever Tree – Make a Power Promise
Make a power promise to do good by signing your name on a bracelet and adding it to The Forever Tree promise chain.

It was pretty hot out, so we are thankful for those free water bottles ad a Hydration Station.

Jake & Sofia’s Musical Celebration – Celebrate the Power of Diong Good
Sing & dance with Jake, Sofia, and Radio Disney Junior.

Overall, it was a good time. It was pretty crowded, but it seemed like they were pretty good about letting people in only after others left. It took about 30 minutes to go through all the stations if you are quick about it. :p The event was held at Kennedy Park, which has other fun things to do, so once it was over, the kids played on the structure, went on the carousel, and jumped in the bounce house. And we ended up at Ono Hawaiian BBQ for lunch, and ran into some other friends, too!




Click on the link to see more photos from PIRATE & PRINCESSES.

A’s vs. Tigers {Baseball 2014}

We usually only attend one A’s game each year, but I guess we are going to 3 this year. We went to the A’s vs. Mariners game in April where we got free fleece blankets. In May, we met Stomper at the BART station and got free BART tickets and tickets to the A’s vs. Tigers game. And we will head to another game in September with the vouchers we got from their educational programs. Notice a theme in our game attendance…there’s something free involved. :p

The A’s vs. Tigers game was a night game, which we haven’t been to in a long time. Luckily, it didn’t go too long, so yay!

I can’t remember what time the game was, but the sun was making its way down.

Waiting for the game to start

In between eating our garlic fries, we did watch the game. 😉

Love my people 🙂

It was neat to watch the sun set in the stadium too.


We had gotten 6 free tickets, so we invited my brother, and he invited a friend.

Waiting for the A’s to win 🙂

And they did! 🙂

Didn’t get a good fam pic, but thank goodness for those free fleece blankets from the last game we attended!!!! It got cold after the sun set.

Do you like watching baseball? Been to any games lately? What’s your favorite sport to watch?

The Girls Meet Stomper at BART

Yesterday, the girls met Stomper (the Oakland A’s Mascot) at the Castro Valley BART station and scored two free tickets and two $5 BART tickets EACH.  Joyce also went, (so in total) we received SIX free tickets and SIX $5 BART tickets.  Let’s go Oakland!

– Norm

A’s vs. Mariners {Baseball 2014}

I started this post right after the game in April, but #life. :p This was the first game we attended this season and the girls were super duper excited about wearing their new A’s shirts…and also to go to the game with family and friends. 😉 They were also giving away “2012 Back-to-Back AL West Champs” Fleece Blankets at this game, so we cooked up some hot dogs and grabbed some drinks and headed to the stadium at 9AM to line up. Note that the game didn’t start until 1:05PM.

Heading to the stadium

We even got some entertainment as we waited in line.

A very sunny day…and hot day as we later learned…

Trying to catch a ball, but also trying not to get hit with a ball… :p

Sunny

We had plenty of time to visit all the different areas around the stadium. The girls got free rally towels from this pitching area.

Sun flares

Warming up?

We went wandering around…

…to Stomper’s Fun Zone…



…then we heard Stomper was coming around and the Hall of Fame Racing Mascots. (Check out the video when they were hiring these mascots.)

We were in the sun most of the time…

…so it was back to Stomper’s Fun Zone they went…

And they got tattoos.

And then we hung out at our friends’ seats. 🙂

Then, we ended back at our seats.

Bummer, they did win this game.

But we did get blankets!!

Group pic

Fam pic

Sleepy girls as we headed to Walgreens for a prescription and then off to the Veggietales House Party in San Ramon.

Thankful that this game wasn’t postpone. The game the night before was postponed due to some water on the field from the rain.

(in)RL Community

While I would love to tell a story with beautiful words like those of the wonderful incourage ladies, let’s face it, that would hurt my brain a bit. I am a documenter..a recorder of events, details… So here is my story of what happened on Saturday.

I had signed up to host an (in)RL gathering again. Don’t ask this introvert why she does stuff like that? The Lord leads and I follow.

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Y’all know I hate shopping, and it has been crazy busy around here, and then it was raining on Friday night. So Saturday rolls around…as in, it is the morning of the gathering, and we are finally preparing for the event. Norm goes out to buy a few things for our snack spread, but as 1PM neared, I was wondering where he was. He was out buying all the groceries instead of what was just needed for the afternoon. Who doesn’t love a man who can shop? But bless his heart, I needed to get stuff into the oven!

So I am now trying to figure out what to do…set out the cheese and crackers, cut up the strawberries, etc or perhaps make myself presentable, now that I had at least finished putting out the favors and hung up some postcards I got from Dayspring.

The doorbell rings and it is my first guest, a blogger I have only met online, Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life. And then, another guest, a friend’s friend I had only met once before. And then my final guest, the table leader in my MOPS group. I am still plating things and forgetting to offer drinks.

We get started, and I love the flow of conversation even as we were getting to know each other. We watched a clip from the video content, and after hearing some of the stories shared, we begin to share a little of our stories. I love that God brings together strangers who have completely different stories and brings us into community with one another. We are all mothers, but it is more than that. We are all daughters of the king.

I wish I had planned better, and that we had more time together, but I am thankful for growing relationships and making new friends.

I didn’t even get a chance to take photos of everything before it all started, and I forgot to take a group pic before Nikki had to leave for her appointment, but I’m glad I got a few (that are scattered through this post) that sums up our afternoon together.

And what you didn’t see was the mess…the house wasn’t even all cleaned before my guests arrived, and my favors were a hodgepodge of stuff left over from last year’s gathering and other things I had on hand, and I taped up the postcards at the end to hide the blue painter’s tape I used to hang the string up because I don’t have cute washi tape. But you know what? No one cared about that. They didn’t come to see if my baseboards were dusted or not (by the way, they’re not dusted). They were there to be in community together. There is something powerful in sharing ourselves with others. There is camaraderie in letting others in on our fears. He draws us to Himself and helps us to defeat whatever is holding us from shining. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

So this weekend…I am thankful for makeshift TV stands with a TV borrowed from my brother because we (intentionally) don’t own a TV. I am thankful for Trader Joe’s yummy snacks. I am thankful for the behind-the-scenes incourage team who makes this (in)RL weekend possible. I am thankful for stories….our stories…God’s stories. I am thankful for community.