Friday, July 28, 2006

Sleepover at the Mazzucas

Above photo: Peggy, Anjie, Mick, Patrick
(Note: Yeah, this is the kind of picture you get with an eight-year-old
at the camera and a blogger who doesn't know how to PhotoShop.)

After Mick's last final, back in early June, we packed up the rental car and drove through the night to Issaquah, WA. Driving up the I-5 corridor through the night in 2-3 hour shifts worked well for us; it cut down on a surplus of backseat conversations and potty pitstops from you-know-whom. My cousin Patrick, whom I haven't seen for about three years--I spent a good portion of my childhood free time with him and his brother Deric-- picked us up at the rental car company and took us to his home.

There, the kids played with Patrick and Peggy's kids, Nic and Zac (the Italian alphabet doesn't include a 'k', if I remember correctly, so I think this is how they spell their names). Dane and Aubrey loved Nic and Zac and asked if we could move near them.
Aunt Laurie, my mom's sister, brought her jammies up from Tacoma to join in the slumber party. We stayed up late catching up and talking about feminist and religious issues. The next morning, she and Peggy and I went for a brisk walk through the bun-firming hills of Peggy's neighborhood.
Early that afternoon Patrick drove Mick and the kids and me to our ship at the Seattle waterfront so we could head for Alaska.

Patrick and I were "Coach Commanders"/tour guides together our first summers in Alaska, when we were 23 and 22. We'd surprised each other by showing up at the Gray Line new hire meeting and both ended up going to Fairbanks. Needless to say, Patrick was excited I was getting to return to the Great White North.

I was excited he was heading to Texas in a week to see our other cousins, Chris and Karen, their spouses and children, and our Aunt Debbie and Uncle Lorren (mom and Laurie's brother).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Picklejuice Popsickles
their idea

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

First Patient and First Major Family Ride

Mick met with his very first patient yesterday, an eighty-year-old woman of great patience and kindness, he says. I don't think I risk violating privacy rights when I tell you he performed steps 1-5 and took x-rays. (Yeah, I don't have a clue what steps 1-5 are either.)

He's got another new patient scheduled this week, and another couple for the next. He was assigned about ten patients and he's responsible for scheduling them himself. When his class meets for clinic--a few hours four times a week, I think--if he doesn't have his own patient scheduled, he spends time assisting another second year student.

In other news: last Saturday the whole family drove to Tiburon (about 10 minutes away) and took the Angel Island Ferry to Angel Island State Park. There, we rode our bikes--Dane SOLO and Aubrey on the trail-a-bike--around the hilly, roasty toasty five mile perimeter loop. The kids did great: Dane learned to really control his speed on the downhills so his handlebars wouldn't go wobbly, and Aubrey pumped like such a champ up some of the steep hills that we got to pass other riders walking their bikes up. The temp was in the 90s, with better breezes on one half of the island, but we had fun as we guzzled Gatorade, ate granola bars and explored old barracks. There's also an old immigration station there (on the National Historic Register) but it was down a really steep hill, so we'll have to save that stop for next time when the skill and energy levels are better-suited for it. As it was, we were gritty and salty when we returned home four hours later, but it was great fun and it sure beat sitting around in our hot apartment.

Chock one up for the Reynolds' most recent step toward a new independence.

[Will post pictures soon.]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Here's a write-up on Willow Creek Academy. As residents of Marin City (the other side the Sausalito tracks, so to speak) we wrestled with public vs. private before choosing this public charter school. Dane will attend Kindergarten there this Fall; Aubs will start in '07.

Facilities are a challenge for most charter schools, some of which occupy church basements or storefronts. Instead of having to scramble for a home, Willow Creek is lodged in the spiffy upper half of the Bayside School campus. The classrooms were to be a middle school when the handsome facilities were built 10 years ago. But the middle school wound up in Marin City. Instead, Willow Creek, chartered by the district, moved into the classrooms next to Bayside Elementary. Like many charter startups, Willow Creek adds a grade each year. It is now K-7 and will top out with an eighth grade next school year. Willow Creek has 105 students, the same as K-6 Bayside next door, with which there is delicate coexistence.

For half a century the Sausalito Marin City School District has struggled with having one foot in predominantly white Sausalito and the other in predominantly black Marin City. Many Sausalito parents who could afford to do so sent their kids to private schools, leaving the district with lots of money (two or three times as much per pupil as the rest of Marin), lots of problems (ranging from discipline to test scores) and lots of tension. Willow Creek was founded by Sausalito parents who wanted to re-establish publicly funded education as a core civic virtue rather than as a source of enduring dispute.

Head of school is Carol Cooper who, like the administrators of Marin’s other charter schools, has a remarkably strong educational background. Cooper has degrees from Oberlin, the University of Chicago and UC Berkeley; worked 18 years in the Marin County schools office; took off five years to try her hand at the flower business (Hastings and Hastings in Mill Valley); and four years ago went back to what she loves most—education. Willow Creek has a strong academic focus that features project-based, interdisciplinary learning. About 80 percent of the diverse student body is from the Sausalito district.

Here's a brief analysis of Willow Creek and the other three charter schools in Marin county. Marin’s four charter schools are clearly different, but in three big ways they are quite alike:

1. Small size. Although student-teacher ratios at Marin charters are about average for California public schools, the charter schools themselves are relatively small, from 25 students at Phoenix Academy to 243 at Novato Charter. Every study since Roger Barker and Paul Gump’s groundbreaking work in 1964 (Big School, Small School) has agreed that small schools are superior to large ones in nearly all aspects: attendance, student involvement, academic achievement, the serving of minorities—the works. At Marin’s small charters the kids say they feel valued, there are no dismissive cliques and drug use is either a small problem or no problem at all.

2. Strong parent involvement. At Willow Creek Academy and Novato Charter School, parents must sign on the dotted line and pledge many volunteer hours of work. Parent involvement at MSAT and Phoenix Academy is less structured, but firmly expected. In the broader educational universe, a huge factor in any school’s success appears to be parent involvement. When Bill Honig was superintendent of Marin’s Reed School District, and before he became state superintendent, parent involvement was significant as he propelled Reed from a good district to a great one.

3. Rampant enthusiasm. Almost without exception, the charter kids love the teachers, the teachers love the kids, administrators are friends rather than scary figures and parents feel good, too. Sometimes kids don’t fit. But as four MSAT 10th graders explained, “Some kids aren’t here by choice…Their parents forced them, but they get weeded out…It’s usually mutual. At the end of last year there were kids who didn’t want to come back, so they were replaced and so the 10th grade class now is really just a great group.” The replacement process is a luxury not available at traditional public schools. Kids who don’t want to be there are usually forced to be there anyway.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ahoy, Matey!
Jude turned 2 and Indi turned 5
Party in Glacier Bay, June 15

Pat and Dane

Michelle and Kate

Tom and Aubrey

Mick, Aubs, Indi, and Barritt



Dining On Board the Star

Of course cruise ships are known for their FOOD, but for some reason I was surprised that many of our cruise pictures were taken in the dining room:

Kai and Mick

Pat and Cindy

Andrew and Susan

Cameron, Michelle, and Kate

Jan and Mike

Kay with the greats: Jude, Dane,
Barritt, Aubrey (under the table) and Indi

Kay and Dana

Susan and Tom and Kay


Michelle and Cameron

(I know that Scott and Rod ate too,
but somehow they eluded my camera.)
Cruisin' Reynolds Family Tree (of sorts)

Maurie [d. 2003] & Kay
Their children: Mike (Mick's dad), Pat, Rod, and Tom

Mike & Jan's children: Mick and Kai
Mick & Anjie's children: Dane and Aubrey
Kai & Dana's children: Barritt, Indi, [Jesse], Jude, and ?

Pat & Cindy's child: Danielle [missed the cruise for summer school]

Rod & Susie's children: Kate and Scott

Tom & Susan's children: Michelle (married to Cameron) and Andrew

[P.S. I've added pictures to July 14th's entry.]

Friday, July 14, 2006


Notes on June 12

Norwegian Star
At sea in the Art room, early morning, foggy

...Boy, it's mesmerizing to cruise the sea and watch the waves while feeling the hum of a gigantic engine and the vibrations of the foghorn through my shoes.

This pen sucks. It glides along beautifully but it's too fat for comfort. Bummer. Miss my Pentel RSVP. Will have to find it.

[Yeah, I've spared you the rest of the details of that entry.]


Notes on June 13
Norwegian Star
Port: Juneau

Weather was in the 70s.* Mick and I took the tram with Kai, Dana, Jan and kids up Mt. Roberts for a half mile nature hike up there. Amazing panoramic views from the hike overlooking Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island (our former home), the Inside Passage; kids dug for rocks with sticks (their highlight, I think).

After the tram, we walked into Juneau. Dana bought the kids Russian nesting egg dolls (Maryshenkas) and Mick and I took Dane and Aubrey up Front Street to The Baranof Hotel where Mick and I had met with Maurie and Kay in '96 for a game of cards, that luscious summer of love. Took pictures in the historic booth.

Back on the ship, we checked the kids in at Kids Planet and ate dinner with Kai and Dana at the Endless Summer restaurant (Tex Mex), next to windows overlooking the sun setting on Juneau. There, we waved wildly to Rod, Tom, and Mike several stories below as they boarded the ship after their kayaking/town excursions, but it turns out they didn't even know it was us. (And those Reynolds boys were blowing kisses!)

When we'd arrived earlier at Endless Summer, Pat, Susan, and Cindy were looking at us sheepishly from their table as we checked in with the hostess. Turns out they'd stolen our "Reynolds" reservation at dinner! Said "Who's Russell? Who cares? We'll take it!" forgetting that Kai's first name is Rusty. Lucky for them, we were still able to nab said window seat and enjoy the bottle of champagne they'd sent over to us with apologies.

*Everybody who's seen An Inconvenient Truth tells me to watch the movie and I'll see why there was glorious weather up The Inside Passage. But anyway, based on our own summer in Juneau ten years ago, Mick and I knew that those perfect days were few and far between so we just decided to take it and run with it; I suppose we'll have to turn our attention to global warming now though.


Notes on June 14
Norwegian Star
Port: Skagway

Jan and me with Aubs in sunny Skagway. Aubs had an obsession with buying things--not enough to just look; not even enough to buy something--had to painfully obsess about getting something else. Pleading for pink dress after got seashell necklace. Too little sleep and lots of stimulation don't always make for an easy kid.

Dane spent the morning with Mick and Mike checking out Skagway. That's about all the info I got from them, but I'd be willing to bet there was some ice cream involved.

Gold panning at the dredge later that day before taking the White Pass and Yukon Route: cool music show--old-time "miner" with spoons, small accordian, singing "Jimmy Cracked Corn." Aubrey yells out "We watched a video about Alaska!" after the song. No response from miner, so after his show she told him we checked out Alaska videos from the library. Later, when he showed us how to pan, she yelled out, "I dropped my sticker! It's in the water! I dropped my sticker! Could you get my sticker?" until he did. Yikes. Mick was in charge of her there. I felt bad at first and then decided it was an Alaska demonstration; it wouldn't've hurt to offer a little more interaction with the kids (that's the former tour guide in me talking). Anyway, Jan says we won't have to worry about Aubrey in the classroom (really???) and a woman on the train ride said, "She's a firecracker!" (Oh boy.)

Saw two bears--TWO BEARS!--on our train ride up Chilkoot Pass.

Big, long, fun day.


Notes on June 15
Norwegian Star
At sea, Glacier Bay

Last night Michelle, Cameron, Kate, Andrew and all the kids came over at 10:30 and the kids put on make-up. Yikes! Dane put on his Luke Skywalker outfit (striped jammies, paleantologist eye goggles, green frog boots, shin guards, soccer medallion, and homemade light saber). So content and proud of himself. Of course, Cameron--movie buff--appreciated it. Kai said, "Oh, I remember Luke Skywalker's frog boots..."

Oh yeah, saw whales (Minke, likely) on Tuesday from the ship. I love watching the big mists from their blowholes and the slap of their flukes. The frantic search for the next surfacing is pretty fun too.

Just saw a tiny iceberg. We're in glacier Bay now (8:18 a.m.). The naturalists are on board (awkward reader, keeps gasping for breath making strange speech rhythms, but good info).

Glacier Bay... low horizontal clouds severing the green mountain landscape. Low flying white birds, dirty iceberg, bright white ice berg. Overcast. Runners pounding the jogging path over my head. Cup of coffee on my writing desk. A thousand islands up the Inside Passage.


Notes on June 16
Norwegian Star
Port: Prince Rupert, B.C.

Getting ready to dock at Prince Rupert. Another warm day, if not as sunny as before/earlier this week. Lots of clouds and overcast, but huge break in clouds, sun shining on water, bright line. There's Prince Rupert. Lots of green metal--cranes, drawbridges, out over the water. Clean-cut lines, industrial, against a rocky mountainous landscape. Tall cement building. Maybe this is its industry. Looks like it says Prince Rupert Grain? LTD, Gravel? I think it's grain--yeah, grain silos. Barge with steam coming off it. What a lush, lush area. Huge, bushy hillsides.

Think I'll go for a walk outside now.

The old guy's goopy eyes across from me make it tough to eat the Muslix, mushy with grains, cream, bananas, strips of coconut...


Docked in Seattle two days later. No entries about that, but must note that Mick's grandmother, Kay (Mimi) set us all up for a smackin good time on that trip. (Thanks, Kay, if you read this. It was a wonderful 23-person reunion. We're working on drawings and cards to send you...)