Monday, May 29, 2006

A Memorial Day Weekend to Remember

We had an eventful Memorial Day weekend, with activities on each day getting us out of the house. On Saturday, Jenny and I attended her cousin Darrell's wedding in San Mateo, while the kids stayed at home with a babysitter. Our 4-plus hours at the wedding was the longest time we've spent alone in the past year. I felt somewhat strange to be free to talk and mingle with people without having to look over my shoulder constantly. Still, we had a good time although we cut the evening short in order to get home by 9PM.

Jenny's sister Wendy invited us for dinner and swimming at their pool on Sunday. Both Punky and Russell were afraid of the water, so only I got to take a dip in the pool for any length of time. The Brewster Boys did get to see their Grandmother and a pair of Aunts/Uncles/cousins, and they clearly enjoyed watching the teenagers splash around in the pool. As Jenny mentioned to her sisters, it was good to be able to eat dinner without having to worry about cooking, washing dishes or cleaning up the kitchen.

We saved the best for last with Monday's visit to the Oakland Zoo. It's a small zoo, but just right for kids Russell and Punky's age. All of the major African animals were there, as well as a smattering of farm animals. There was even a little amusement park on the side with a merry-go-round and other rides for the little ones. It took only 2 hours for us to see most of the zoo, and the Brewster Boys enjoyed every minute of it. We'll be back in a few months, I'm sure of it!

This was the first time that Russell had seen a live elephant Posted by Picasa

Russell's closest encounter with the lions was with this one at the entrance to the Oakland Zoo Posted by Picasa

Punky surveys the duck pond at the edge of the giraffe habitat Posted by Picasa

Jenny (in the stylish sun hat) wheeled Punky around in the stroller at the kid-friendly Oakland Zoo Posted by Picasa

Juice in hand, Russell checks out the macaw habitat at the Oakland Zoo Posted by Picasa

Russell notices that Oakland's ladybugs are much larger than those in the backyard Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

California High School Diplomas: Now Available in 2-Ply Sheets

When I was in college, many of the school's bathrooms had this phrase written above the toilet paper dispenser: "Harvard Diplomas: Take One".

For the record, I attended Columbia and Cornell where most of the student body had received a rejection letter from Cambridge as high school seniors. Thus, I can say with reasonable certainty that the bathroom vandal was basically echoing a 'sour grapes" feeling common to many of his classmates (including me).

Recently, I thought once again about the bathroom stall graffiti. This time, it was when Alameda County Judge Robert Freedman invalidated the California State High School Exit exam as a requirement for high school graduation. From last week's San Mercury News:

In his ruling, Freedman concluded that students would suffer great harm by being deprived of a diploma, both emotionally and practically. The prospect of having to spend a fifth year in a high school without sufficient educational resources or attend a community college instead of a four-year university shows ``significant risk of harm,'' Freedman wrote.

Arturo Gonzalez, a lawyer representing the students who challenged the exit exam, said Freedman's decision made clear that the harm to students greatly outweighed the harm to the state. ``I can't imagine any justice on the California Supreme Court would be eager to deny tens of thousands of students their diplomas,'' he said.
By a narrow 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court yesterday reinstated the state exam requirements for the high school diploma, subject to a review by the state's Court of Appeal. From the SF Chronicle:

In a split decision, the state Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the exit exam--at least for now--and directed the Court of Appeal to hear legal arguments over its validity. It was unclear how quickly the appellate court would act after the high court's 4-3 decision to set aside an Alameda County judge's ruling that struck down the law requiring seniors to pass the test in order to receive a diploma. This year is the first time the requirement has been enforced.

Iris Padilla, a senior at Richmond High School who speaks almost no English and hasn't passed the exit exam, was in class Wednesday when another student received a phone call with news that the exit exam had been reinstated. "Several girls started to cry," Iris said, acknowledging she was one of them.

Iris has passed all her classes and otherwise would graduate if not for the exam. Her spirits were high earlier this month after an Alameda County Superior Court judge struck down the exit exam, saying it was unfair to penalize students who attended poorly performing schools and hadn't been given an equal opportunity to learn the materials on the test.
In other words, the liberals in the state judiciary would like to award California high school diplomas to students who speak virtually no English because it would cause them to suffer emotionally and prevent them from getting into college. How should we deal with high schools that give passing grades to students who barely speak any English? Or judges who are turning California's public unversities into a institutions of remedial learning?

Note to bathroom vandals: Don't put away that Sharpie just yet.

Crossposted at SF Moonbats

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Food Picture of the Day

I got this turkey meatball recipe from a copy of InTouch magazine, a People magazine wannabe, from the gym. I read these gossip magazines at the gym, and sometimes bring it home for Jenny to read--especially when there are articles about Oprah. The latest issue had a recipe from Oprah's favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara, so of course Jenny had to give it a whirl.

But instead of using raisins as called for in the recipe (we were out of raisins), Jenny displayed her creativity and utilized dried cranberries. Needless to say, the meatballs were quite yummy and spicy. I had 4 meatballs before Punky cornered me and took me upstairs to play. Jenny says this meatball recipe will replace her other one from Jamie Oliver.

Jenny's Spicy Turkey Meatballs--One of Oprah's favorites Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

Business As Usual

Nothing new. I hung out with the kids this weekend, more so than usual since Jenny went out to get her hair done as well as a beauty treatment. Thank God for the backyard. Every couple of hours, the Brewster Boys would get antsy and that would be my signal to open the back door and let them run around the garden & lawn. For a change of pace, I'd like to build a sandbox or play table for them in the back, but Jenny's not a big fan of either.

Without the gate to pen them in, I found myself chasing one or both of them every so often when they decided to run towards the street. It was my best workout in months. The only excursions I made this weekend were to the local toy store and Tucker's Ice Cream parlor.

Russell finds his groove drumming away in the backyard Posted by Picasa

Punky is born to be wild Posted by Picasa

Russell and Punky discover how to roll on the backyard lawn Posted by Picasa

Russell is walking tall in the backyard Posted by Picasa

Punky helps himself to a scoop of Tucker's Super-Creamed Ice Cream Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Backyard Follies

Our new backyard has quickly established itself as the place to be. Russell and Punky want to play there morning, day and night. They refer to it as "Mommy's garden". Tonight, we let them run around the back until they both tried to escape to the front of the house.

There are still a couple of details that need to be completed, namely the gate that will completely enclose the backyard and an arch that will separate the Victory Garden from Jenny's Garden. I am also thinking a lot about the design of the barbeque pit next to the Victory Garden that I am planning to build out of the leftover bricks and stone.

This summer, we will be spending a lot of time in the backyard, entertaining friends and family and just hanging out. It may sound boring, but that's what our lives have become.

Punky offers the cameraman a sip of his salad dressing Posted by Picasa

Russell: "That was fun. When can we turn on Miss Spider again?" Posted by Picasa

Another wet and wild weekend for the Brewster Boys Posted by Picasa

Russell fills up his watering can quickly while Punky is still trying to get the hang of it Posted by Picasa

More water fun with Miss Spider Posted by Picasa

Russell and Punky with their new friend Jordan, who dropped by for lunch on Saturday Posted by Picasa

Punky to Russell: "I'm outta here!" Posted by Picasa

Every weekend morning, Russell insists on harvesting the flowers by hand Posted by Picasa

Punky upon discovering some new flowers in the backyard: "Yee-hah!" Posted by Picasa

The Brewster Brothers love each other very much Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Home Again

I just got home from my first business trip in nearly 8 years. I'm really tired now, so I'll write something about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Russell enjoys playing with a set of African wild animals Posted by Picasa

Punky checks for his Cheerios reward in a Tupperware container Posted by Picasa