August 2015

Isabella came back from summer camp on August 15 and very much enjoyed a couple of weeks in Portola, CA together with new friends as well as the ones she made last year. 2015 was the last year she could participate so small traces of sadness but some of them are also off to boarding school, so we’re sure they will stay in contact and compare notes.

Once back Libby had organized an little party for Isabella and quite a few of her Saint Catherine’s friends showed up for some pizza and to catch up with what had happened over summer. All but Isabella were back in school and the little group of 36 students that followed each other for years are now spread all over the peninsula including San Francisco.

Olivia and John took Adriana to Las Vegas early August for her to experience all the craziness. She (obviously) loved every minute of it. Olivia and Adriana went to see Le Rêve at Wynn and fully enjoyed the show while John was busy taking a light painting class in Nelson 40 miles outside Las Vegas. Of other highlights that week was the High Roller observation wheel. It stands 550 feet (168 meter) tall and it’s 30 later by the time you get back down to the platform.

Pia is having a good time at Burlingame High School and on the cheer team. They performed this past Friday during the football game – as did Bella’s team – and Pia is enjoying it. Bella is currently delivering the news broadcast at the school. We uploaded the inaugurate newscast to our Vimeo account.

John and Ella spent the past weekend in Hong Kong getting a little time together before school starts. It’s a such a great place and although compact it still offers lots of diversity. They spent a couple of days in and around the city and made it Lantau to see Big Buddha – one of the largest outdoor buddhas in the world as well of Temple of 10,000 buddhas. What was meant to be a hike turned into a bus ride when heavy rain got in the way. They purchased a couple of umbrellas and continued semi-dry while the monks making their way up to the buddha got absolutely soaked.

The weekend prior to Hong Kong Olivia, Adriana and John spent a couple of days in Carmel Valley. It remains one of their favorite places on the planet. A Sunday morning hike brought sightings of 20+ whales feeding very close to the shore and the short hike ended up taking almost three hours with all the stops.

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Going to school 2,969 miles away

There are 23 school days left of elementary school for Pia and Isabella. Finals will soon be part of their days (Bella has already started her finals) and after that it’s mostly wrapping up eight years at Saint Catherine’s.

As mentioned in an earlier post Pia decided on Burlingame High School early on. Isabella applied to several (other) schools and on April 6 Olivia, John and Isabella visited the last school on her list: Kent School in Connecticut. It was in instant love affair although it was still cold and fairly gray. But the campus was beautiful and Isabella had a great day following students around the school while Olivia and John spoke to teachers and counselors.

It will be a big change for all but Isabella is excited and everyone around her is supportive. She’ll be back only three times during the school year, but we will obviously stay in touch and update the blog with news from her time on the East Coast.

Winning performance

There’s no escaping that Pia and Isabella’s days at Saint Catherine School is slowly coming to an end. It was time for graduation pictures this past week, and they both tried to keep their balance on their four-inch heels early Monday morning.

It’s also been time for them to hand in their yearly science project. Both were presented to the judges who unfortunately gave the Grand Prize to one of their classmates. Pia had tested how to make the perfect pie crust while Isabella had tried to find the best way to build a kidney.

The two of them helped out at the school’s annual crab feed last night. Isabella had to run home afterwards to finish her application to Santa Catalina high school. The last of the bunch. Now it’s a waiting game until March 10 when the first schools will let her know of their decision.

Adriana’s cheer team cleaned house in San Jose last weekend, and for a while it looked like they were all off to Florida to compete in the Nationals. They’re instead off to Anaheim mid-April and will surely sporting their new exclusive uniform only given to the ones at the top of the podium.

She’s preparing for her first reconciliation and had her first scheduled confession yesterday. When practicing on paper she wrote “Please help me forgive my sister Bella for wanting to drown me”. We’re not sure of the details.

Bella went to Burlingame High School’s Winter Formal last night. She accepted the invitation after receiving a box of doughnuts – take that Kay!

Happy birthday(s)

Bella turned 17 on January 6 and was celebrated by classmates and family. Isabella’s birthday is February 9 and the extended family had her birthday dinner at Benihana last night – a little early, but conflicting schedules moved the festivities up a bit. Adriana is next.

John spent a bit of time in Las Vegas from January 3rd. The Consumer Electronics Show seems to get bigger and bigger even though the announcements weren’t that significant this year. Through Akamai he hosted 120 people on January 5th and oversaw all of Akamai’s activities there.

Last Friday Pia and Isabella went to the Junior high dance at their school and danced from start to finish together with the sixth and seventh graders. The Drama activities are in full swing and the production of “Shrek” is already taking up some of the afternoons. Isabella will once again be active off stage.

With the exception of Santa Catalina (Monterey) All the high school applications as done and so are the entrance tests. Now it’s a waiting gaming until early March.

Adriana, Pia and Bella are all active with cheerleading – Bella and Pia are cheering for the boy’s basketball teams for their respective schools.

Happy New Year

As with the previous years Christmas really came around with the Christmas performance at School. Last performance with Pia and Isabella – from hereon onwards Adriana will have to carry the tradition; which she surely is happy to do. Much of the show repeated itself on December 24 when Olivia plus kids were part of the Christmas mass. There are some pictures from the school performance here.

We celebrated Christmas with the rest of the Bellamys on December 23 at Adrian and Penny’s house. There was a total of 20 of us this time and the kids had a blast exchanging Secret Santa gifts. Some family members were off to Hawaii the days after – some to London while the rest decided to weather out the Californian rain storm.

Santa did come around again in 2014 and left quite a mess downstairs drinking milk and eating cookies and lettuce. Apparently for the reindeers. He forgot his glasses (again!) and must have several pairs in the sleigh. Santa filled the stockings and also left three girls a new pair of boots and Adriana an American Girl doll.

New Year came and went again without much notice. The three older girls hung out with their friends while John, Olivia and Adriana relaxed at the house. The three started 2015 with a long walk in Half Moon Bay enjoying glorious weather.

Finishing this post off with a note we came across earlier today:

Welcome to 2015.

With resolutions or without, with ups and downs, joy and sorrow, successes and mistakes, friends founds, friends lost, with passion or without, it will be the year that you make, the year that you decide, the year that you want.

Much of the above will happen but only you can turn them into positive experiences.

Happy New Year : )

Mid-September update

Not a whole lot to report from the last two weeks. It’s back in the routine and the calendar looks the same from week to week for a little while. That’s not to say things aren’t busy… In fact yesterday John & Olivia jumped on a plan to South California for the day to get a little time to themselves but also to celebrate that it was six years ago they decided to try things out.

Isabella’s killing it with “The Dorys” – her soccer team. They have won all their matches. This week’s game ended 8-5. Pia and Isabella does not quite have the same track record with their volleyball team, but they are getting better, have an engaged coach and we will be mighty surprised not to see them win one or two games in the near future. Good luck! The eight graders hosted Sunday mass so maybe they’ll have an extra hand next weekend…

Adriana is staying busy with Premier. She’s into it and it’s a good outlet for all her energy. She’ll start competition soon and had to have her picture taken today for the application. Bella is also active with her cheer but spend part of her weekend cleaning the bay together with some of her class mates.

John made it to Boston once since the last update, but overall there’s hardly been any travel since late July, and the calendar contains only two more trips before New Year.

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Back home

Isabella came back Saturday after two weeks of summer camp at Walton’s Grizzly Lodge. She had had a great time – no sign of missing anyone except maybe for the first day or two. Mosquito bites and scratches show signs of an outdoor life, but hail and rain kept the campers inside from time to time.

Many campers were from San Francisco and Marin. Some even from Hillsborough. Good friends made so she’ll probably be busy connecting online with some of them since the lack of electronics while at camp made that impossible. She sounds like she’s ready to go back, but we’ll have to see about that come 2015.

John flew up there to pick her up. It was a pleasure flying alongside highway 80. 22 minutes is all it took from San Francisco to Reno but by going slightly the opposite direction and with check-in and all, they actually spent as much of the day traveling, as we would have in driving.

Isabella received many cards from friends and family and was very appreciative. Getting mail was her favorite part of her day and she sends her heartfelt gratitude!

John spent part of the week at a company meeting in Napa at the Meritage Resort and Spa. Nice place and very easy to get to from San Francisco. Good beer can chicken at the Bounty Hunter and ditto lunch at the Fremont Diner. The downtown area of Napa is looking much better although it doesn’t quite have the charm of e.g. St. Helena. He missed Penny’s birthday at the Paul Martin Grill on Tuesday, but Bella, Pia, Adrian and Olivia all celebrated her.

Friday Adriana had to say goodbye to Garcelle – her trusted nanny all summer long. Garcelle is going back to college starting this week, so Adriana will act as Olivia’s assistant until Saint Catherine’s is open for business in a couple of weeks. John and Adriana went night swimming in Penny and Adrian’s pool last night. No one seems to know where the lights are located; so all the light in the backyard came from the stars above (or the sun if you will…). She quickly fell asleep afterwards watching the Disney Bears movie.

Bella is back in school as the first of the four. She’s active with Cheer and is now on the final half of her high school years. She was followed to the door but a raccoon last night, but and ideas of close contact came to a quick end when Bella decided to scream from the car to the drive way. Easy to hear around the neighborhood in the middle of the night but no-one was concerned enough to call the police. At least not that we know of.

Pia is “enjoying” the summer workbook from school, but has made a pretty good dent in it. So much so that wrapping it up before school start is a realistic goal. She’s good at taking a break to make sure there are no new videos on YouTube she has not watched.

Olivia and John spent the past weekend in Carmel sans kids. Delicious dinner at the Moulin Bistro in Monterey Friday evening. They ended up at Carmel Valley Ranch for appetizers and s’mores Saturday evening and all of a sudden found themselves driving back Sunday – seemed much too soon. They relived some of their younger years earlier in the week rocking to Toto at the Mountain Winery. Toto were (still) surprisingly good nd they had much of the audience standing for the majority of the set.

Burlingame sadly seems determined on turning half of our street into restricted parking. A city hall meeting on Wednesday and a signed petition didn’t change the mind of the council members. While it won’t affect us in terms of permits, people will surely start to park closer to our home. It remains to be seen how much of a problem it will be, but it’s already tight with three cars in our driveway or on the street in front of the house.

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Walton’s Grizzly Lodge Summer Camp

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Bella finished her cheer camp late Monday morning with a show. Olivia and the girls were there to watch and the bunch of them went back to Casa Bellamia right after. They had good friends over for the next couple of days and enjoyed the surrounding incl. a new Xbox with Just Dance 2014. They were back in Burlingame Wednesday evening while John got back from Boston Thursday evening.

Adrian went in for a bit of surgery Friday morning and got home over the weekend. He’s doing very well and impressed the hospital on several occasions with his threshold for pain and determination. Like we didn’t know…

Isabella and John left early Saturday morning and went straight to Tahoe once there was coffee onboard the little Golf. They made it up there in 3.5 hours and decided to try the mouth watering pulled pork sandwiches on the porch. Most delicious and a good starter before heading down to Northstar Village only to take a ski lift back up to the first of two hikes (Sawmill Lake). Good little hike through the forrest ending up by a lake where the bass are so plentyful, that you can see them by the shore (when little kids don’t throw rocks in the lake).

After replenishing their fluids John and Isabella took another lift up to Sunset Loop. (More loop than sunset). Isabella had so much fun on the chair lift that she insisted on another couple of rides. Very slow going down, as the resort won’t let you sit in the open, and there are only a couple of gondolas. 90% of the people going up in the lift, ride mountain bikes down and while it looked like a lot of fun and like a good adrenaline rush, the $141/rental was a little too steep. John and Isabella got back to the hotel at 5:00 p.m. and spent 30 minutes trying to get the original skin color to come back from a very respectable layer of dust. Quick dinner, quick rest and off they went to partake in the Lake Tahoe Star Tour put on by Tony Berendsen. It was very informative and educational. Always good to see Saturn’s rings up close (sort of) but the highlight was watching the International Space Station float across the sky. Couldn’t tell if they returned the big smiles.

Sunday came around soon after Isabella arrived at the camp site at 12:00. She had to check in with the nurse and take a swim test in the lake. She was assigned the Kodiak cabin with a bunch of other “first timers” – far the majority of the campers seemed like they had been there before, but that’s probably already forgotten. Odd not to have contact with her for two weeks (no electronics are allowed). We are going to have to rely on the pony express getting letters to and from and we will feel a whole lot better when we hear a sign of life and know that she made a couple of friends.

Adriana’s been gone most of the weekend hanging out with her dad. Pia’s therefore found herself with a unusual amount of motherly love; which even included a sleepover in the Master Bedroom. It’s all come to an abrupt and was a bit of cold turkey but with travel and activities it’s likely to happen again sometime soon.

We have started to look at summer plans for 2015. It’s quite exciting that we are likely heading to Africa again. We are truly fortunate to have Adrian and Penny in our lives and there’s early excitement of another family trip coming up. Including the planning.

Whale watching in Monterey Bay

On Friday Bella took off for her annual Cheer camp in Santa Cruz – there was a total of 18 teams there. It’s hard work from early morning to late in the day. The Burlingame High School team got a Spirit award for the first time in four years. Congratulations! The whole thing is over Monday shortly after noon with a performance. All the rest of the females of our household will be in watching while John is on the East Coast.

The rest of us spent the weekend at Casa Bellamia in beautiful weather and surroundings. We went on a Monterey-based whale watching trip Saturday morning and saw more humpback whales than the guide could keep up with. They are very impressive animals but it would be so cool to see more than the 5% they seem comfortable occasionally keeping above the waterline. Maybe they are just shy given their size… Lots of sea lions and lots of dolphins. The water was fairly calm but some people still felt the need to refund their breakfast into the ocean. The five of us did great and other than occasionally feeling a little cold and getting a bit too much sun we had a great time.

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We made quick stops at Stevenson’s and Santa Catalina High Schools on the way back. Isabella is considering a boarding high school and while no decisions have been made, it might make sense to have her close enough that we would actually see her once in a while. She’s recuperating well since her oral surgery and have regained normal speech and the feeling in the tip of her tongue. Olivia took her for a checkup on Thursday and all looked well.

We had dinner at Carmel Valley Ranch Saturday evening. Beautiful place that we don’t visit often enough. Delicious local salmon and ditto deserts. John bumped into the Marketing Manager from the ranch a few weeks back and we were treated as VIPs all evening – Adriana is still trying to make sense of what that means but didn’t mind the attention.

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On Tuesday John, Olivia and our neighbor Kasey saw Lyle Lovett and his Large Band perform at the Mountain Vinery. Good show and surprisingly good food but it got very cold past sunset. We didn’t get back until 11:30 at night and had almost regained normal temperature after 45 minutes in the car. Adriana probably had the busiest week with gymnastics and summer camp. She’s got stung by a bee last week and a bit stayed inside the finger. Bella fished it out just before the it would have been necessary to go see a doctor.

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Successful surgery

Ella went in for surgery Thursday July 17. She has had a short membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth ever since birth, and have never really been able to stick her tongue out; which might have kept her out of trouble a few times… That all changed this week. She was under for only 20 min. before Pia and John went back into the operating room to try to wake her up. Very groggy and unable to stand on her own two feet the first time we tried. But after 10 min. we were able to get her in a wheel chair and roll her out to the car.

She’s doing better but is still struggling a bit trying to eat. The pain is disappearing a bit every day; which is good as the pain killers made her quite loopy. Still very hard to understand. She sounds like a retard, as Pia so affectionally says.

Overall a quiet weekend before Pia and Ella starts Volleyball camp. Adriana will continue her summer camp at Alligator Art while Bella is already practicing cheer before spending next weekend at cheer camp.

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