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July 27-August 7ish, 2016
Written August 2+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

Every year at this time we have a few birthdays to celebrate.  I have one on August First, but generally am not too happy to be yet another year older.  This year, my 70th, was no different.  My basic birthday wish was to note the day with as little fanfare as allowed.  So we did.
On the Saturday before the First, Marianne and I hosted hosted Mamo for her part of my birthday celebration.  My choice was to have a home-cooked meal, so we splurged with great pasta (thanks Marianne) and good wine (thanks Mamo).  I should have made pictures of it all, because it really was a nicely set table and all, but I missed the opportunity to do anything more than sneak a profile of Mamo, maybe thinking of her own history of 96 birthdays.  I suppose I hope to get there.  (Oh, I don't like thinking about it!)
On Monday, my real birthday started with a breakfast surprise that Marianne had prepared and set out the night before.  There is nothing wrong with cupcake for birthday breakfast.  Of course, I did have to follow this with 20 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym, but it was worth it.  A good birthday start.

Back from the gyms, we headed over to Monte Sereno to enjoy the much-cooler Bay Area weather and have fun with kids.  Always a good idea.
 We started with birthday cake decorating, and I couldn't help but notice that Ava and Sam are both getting older and more skilled in their kitchen help activities.  Almost all of the chocolate frosting made it onto the cake and cupcakes. 

Ava, Sam, and I then headed out to the pool, them to wash off the frosting extras and me to work off the extra calories.  With an active two-hour play session, I think we all succeeded.
For better or worse, our birthday over-eating wasn't done yet.  Gabby and Mamal treated us to an all-you-can-possibly-eat dinner at Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse that offers a huge salad bar PLUS as many servings of a dozen meats as each of us wanted.  Ava and Sam also gave me cards and decorated paper weights they had created.  The best presents are always hand-made.

On Tuesday, August 2nd, we moved to the next birthdays, Gabby's here and Chris' in nearby Monterey.  No reports from Chris, but we wished him well in any event.  Gabby's story we do have well documented.

d160802_02_park.jpgThe first event of the day was a trip to Vasona Park, one of the kids' favorites but, truth be told, not one of Gabby's.  She's a great mom to take kids where THEY like to go on HER birthday.  Sam took his bike to get more learning experience and the rest of us simply walked.  Charlie Ann tugged her leash to keep up with Sam.  More training needed.

We didn't walk too far before the adults decided to rest while the kids climbed.  Really, I do not know where they get so much energy.
We left the park to get back home with the dog and us boys while the girls went out to have manicures.  Not something Sam or I were interested in, so we jumped in the pool for a little exercise.  It was fun having just one grandkid to throw around, but still, I tired out well before he did and he had just come back from bike-riding and climbing in the park.  Made me feel old.  (70 years and one day, to be precise).

When the girls got back from the nail spa, it was time for the whole crew to hit the pool and the hot tub.  Actually, this meant I was in the pool for just a bit more, the kids were in there for hours more, and Gabby and Gigi supervised with good wine, guacamole, and chips.  This was more like a birthday!
d160802_18_exercise.jpgd160802_20_cookers.jpgDinner was barbecue shrimp and corn tacos along with hand-made cole slaw.  (We worried that Sam's fingers would be part of the salad when he enthusiastically helped on the shredder.)  This was followed by more chatting for most of us, but Sam seemed to want more activity, so he convinced dad to hit the basketball court.  I think this made at least eight hours of real activity for him.  I was tired just thinking about it.

We finished the day with a birthday cake, recycled from my own birthday the day before.  We are an efficient crew on these things.
And that was it for official birthdays.  (Almost)

Wednesday was unplanned, as Gabby had wanted for her REAL birthday on Tuesday.  Of course that doesn't mean we were complete goof-offs, just mostly.  We munched; we drank (coffee); we chatted (Adrienne came to visit Marianne); kids were active (Ava had gymnastics.  Gigi arranged an outside treasure hunt.) I window shopped at "Sports Basement" (a huge sporting goods store.)  Pretty quiet day.
Mamal had invited Gabby out for dinner, so Gigi and I had babysitting duty, one of our favorite chores.  My part started with tossing the kids around in the pool.  They enjoy it and it was great arm exercise for me.  Who needs a gym!  After one of the tosses, Ava came up very excited with a new hole in her smile and a little tooth in her hand.  The four of us went out to Willow Street Pizza for a celebratory dinner.
Back home, Ava wrote a nice, long, note to The Tooth Fairy, explaining how the tooth had come out and making clear that she expected money.  Can't hurt to be clear, and in writing.
The bedtime story was a reading from Winnie The Pooh, a classic that is probably as fun as it was 90 years ago.  Or maybe just snuggling up to Gigi was the attraction.

Now it is Thursday and we will be headed home shortly.  Sad to leave the kids behind, but there will be more visits.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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