Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

July 31, 2011

July 2011 – Family Update

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 8:45 pm

July Highlights:

Lilah Has Her First Sleep Over

Lilah had a great sleep over but not before we went through our fair share of drama. I may have mentioned this in a past, but Lilah is not fond of surprises. This month “grandmy” planned a special outing for Lilah — a trip to the spa which came with a mani-pedi (for the guys out there, this is short for manicure/pedicure) and a 30 minute massage. About a month before this surprise was to take place, Lilah wanted to know what it was. She was quite persistent about it. To the point where it even affected her sleep because all she could do was obsess on what the surprise would be. Well, on the day before the event we finally relented and told her that her grandmy was taking her to the spa for some pampering. Instead of being happy about the news, she flipped out and said that she did not want to have the surprise now because part of the plan for her sleep over was to have the girls give each other mani/pedis and the fact that grandmy was giving this to her as part of her surprise on the same day ruined everything. Well, actually, let me back up for a moment. Mom and dad ruined everything because we did not give her a heads up so that she could plan different activities for her and her friends to to during the sleepover. This led to a lot of arguing and then Lilah asked if she could call grandmy to tell her she was not going to be able to go to the spa today. In the end, we finally managed to calm Lilah down by offering her a compromise. We told her, why don’t you just get a manicure or pedicure at the spa (not both), and that way you could at least do one of those activities with your girl friends? Lilah thought about it for a while and finally agreed. Crisis averted.

The actual sleep over went off without a hitch. The girls had a great time together and even let Luke join in on the action giving him a manicure of his own — blue and purple nails. Later I shared a great kid-friendly scene from the movie Funny People with the kids. The kids busted up laughing and the next day the kids re-enacted the scene which you can watch in this short short video clip.

We thought the girls would sleep outside in the tent the whole night, but somewhere after midnight they heard a noise, which freaked them out and led them all to come running back into the house and into Lilah’s room where all three girls slept for the remainder of the night. That was the only real change of plan, but everyone took it in stride the the sleepover was deemed a success.

Lake Tahoe 2011

We had another wonderful year at Lake Tahoe. If you want to read more about it or see the pictures, here is a link to the Lake Tahoe 2011 blog post.

America’s Teaching Zoo Camp

The kids have been to several camps this summer — dance (Lilah), track (Luke), adventure (Lilah and Luke) — but I think one of the coolest experiences they had was going to America’s Teaching Zoo in Moorpark for a week. At the zoo they saw and learned about all different kinds of animals, including lions, hyenas, eagles, hawks, mountain lions, baboons, condors, beavers, cranes, monkeys, sheep, snakes, tortoises, and a wide assortment of exotic birds. They learned about suitable environments for the various animals (including the knowledge that animals live longer in captivity), what kinds of food the various animals eat (some will apparently eat dog food), the sounds the animals make and why they make them. They also got to feed and pet some of the animals and create some interesting crafts like a porcupine made from a potato with several straws sticking out from it, animal masks, and bubble art (which you make by blowing bubbles with food coloring and then letting the bubbles burst onto paper — not sure what that one had to do with animals, but I’m sure there was a tie in somewhere). The kids could not stop talking about this camp and they also took dozens of pictures and videos which I will have to upload soon.

The camp culminates in a series of short presentations given by the kids in a small outdoor auditorium on the last day. Parents and family are invited on this day to watch the kids present on a specific animal. The presenters come up in pairs and take turns speaking about the animal that is being showcased by a trainer on stage. Lilah’s dissertation (she wrote three paragraphs which was a bit more than most kids) was on Rosie the baboon, while Luke’s was on Delila the blue crane. After the camp is over, the kids are also encouraged to “adopt” an animal, which means that for a certain dollar amount they can come out to the zoo once a month with their friends and family to see the animal and do something with the animal under the tutelage of a trainer.

Goleta Beach Triathlon

Had a good time at the inaugural Goleta Beach Triathlon. As with almost any first time event, there were a few mishaps. The biggest one was the race volunteers directing us to the finish line when we still had about 1.4 miles of running left to do. So probably half the field or more ended up with world record 5K times according to the official race results. Obviously the results are skewed because of the shorter distance we ran, but it still looks nice on paper.

Overall, I was happy with my race and probably would have been in 4 or possibly 3rd place in my group had it not been for a mishap of my own. About two miles into the bike ride, I reached down to put my water bottle back in the cage. When I looked down I noticed the bottle was crooked so I reached back down to adjust it only to have the entire water bottle and cage break off into my hand. Apparently, the cage had snapped off my bike which left me with the choice of either ditching the water bottle or holding the bottle in my hands for the rest of the ride. Normally, the decision would have been an easy one — just toss bottle and keep racing. But it wasn’t just any water bottle. It was a fancy insulated Camelbak model. I couldn’t just toss it away, right? Well, I didn’t. Instead I rode with the bottle in my hands while riding in the aero position — not the safest move, but I saved the bottle. That is, until I got home and couldn’t find it. That’s when I remembered that I had set it on the rear bumper of the car while putting my bike on the rack. Too bad I forgot to take the bottle off the bumper before driving home. Irony? Yes. But it’s also a pretty strong message from the universe if you ask me. Message: next time don’t risk your safety over a dumb bottle, just toss it, and buy a new one later. Message received loud and clear.

That’s all for now. More next month…

July 20, 2011

Lake Tahoe – 2011

Filed under: 2011 Lake Tahoe — dave9169 @ 11:26 pm

Tahoe Highlights:

2011 Tahoe Vacation Recap

We began this year’s vacation by taking a new route – the US395, a beautiful stretch of highway that leads you through rugged, pink desert landscapes that eventually give way to green valleys, bucolic meadows, and a series of mountain passes that provide incredible vistas of the sierras that still had plenty of snow. In terms of time, I friend of ours swore that this was the fastest way to get to Tahoe. Maybe, but not when you keep pulling over to the side of the rode to take pictures. We did a lot of this as it was the first time Cathy and I had ever been on this highway. The kids liked the scenery but didn’t appreciate all the trip-lengthening stopping.

To break up the trip, we stayed in the small town of Bishop. The kids loved the hotel (they always love hotels), because it had a small creek containing ducks — more importantly, baby ducks. The hotel also had a pool and spa, free cookies and drinks at 5:00 PM, and a decent free breakfast as well. The town itself was quaint, with lots of small restaurants. We ate at Amigos Mexican restaurant which was recommended by Lilahs’ swim coach, who actually grew up in Bishop. Not bad. One of the highlights of the town is Erick Schats’s bakery where you can get a wide assortment of breads, pastries, jellies, jams and practically anything else to appease your sweet tooth.

Lake Tahoe Fishing
Every time we go to Lake Tahoe, we try to do something new. This year our new activities were fishing and horseback riding. We tried doing some fishing on our own, but we’re all rookies when it comes to that stuff. While we were at Zephyr Cove, I spotted an old timer (Glen) who ended up really helping us out a lot. He not only gave us pointers on where and how to fish, he also gave us all the requisite supplies we needed — hooks, swivels, weights and bait. He then proceeded to set up our fishing rods the correct way because apparently I hadn’t even nailed that part down. What was nice about Glen is that he did not give me a hard time for my inexperience. Instead he just showed us how to do stuff and made us feel excited about continuing with our fishing expedition regardless of the results. The only warning he gave us was to hold our rod high when reeling it in because it was easy to get your hook caught on a rock in the location we were fishing in. Sure enough, I was the first and only one to get my hook stuck on a rock because I forgot Glen’s warnings.  Luke had no problem listening to Glen’s instructions and avoiding the same fate, but we still didn’t catch any fish.

We then proceeded to stop by Saw Mill pond, a place where only kids are allowed to fish. We spent a good two hours there as the kids kept swearing that they had a bite on their line, only to have the fish get a way moments later. From my vantage point, it looked like their line was bending on several occasions, but I wasn’t sure if it was due to the fish or the algae catching the line at the bottom of the lake. I did not share the algae theory with the kids however, as I figured it was best to keep them excited about the prospect of catching a fish. We didn’t end up catching anything at the pond either, and I’m not sure what I would have done if we had caught something — not like I’m well versed in unhooking a fish from a line — but our spirits weren’t dampened.

Seeing that the kids were still excited about fishing, I decided to sign up for a guided fishing tour. This is where you pay to have a guide take you out on a boat to go fishing with the hope that you’ll catch something. Our guide, Cory, took us to the Boca Resevoir, about 30 minutes outside of Tahoe, where the plan was to do two hours of regular fishing and two hours of fly fishing. All of us ended up catching multiple fish. Luke and Lilah caught approx. 5 fish each — their stories keep changing as they try to embellish their numbers in order to outdo each other — and I caught 3 as I was doing most of the picture taking and filming. Luke caught the most fish the normal way and Lilah caught the most fly fishing. Initially, we were going to simply catch and release all our fish, but then we decided we should at least keep 3 fish so that we could go through the entire process of catching, cleaning and eating the fish. Lilah refused to look at the fish cleaning, but I have it all on video should she change her mind one day. I BBQ’d the fish later the next day and the kids liked the flaky white trout. In the end, it was really a great experience and definitely worth the price.

Here’s a short video of Luke catching his first fish (well, technically his second fish as the first one got away before we could unhook it).
And here’s Lilah catching her first trout too.

Horseback Riding at Zephyr Cover
Back when Cathy was a teenager, her parents took her horseback riding at Zephyr Cove. 30 years later, this place is still in business and she’s the one taking her own kids there (along with her husband, of course). We decided to go on the dinner ride which includes an hour of horseback riding and a BBQ dinner of New York steak hibachi chicken, corn on the cob, beans, salad, drinks, etc. The ride itself meanders through a wood side trail that leads to a bluff where you get some nice panoramas of Lake Tahoe before the trail makes its way back down to camp and the hearty BBQ prepared by the mom of one of the guides. After the dinner you get to cap everything off with s’mores by the campfire. Not a bad way to spend the evening. It also seems that most of the guides have or currently participate in rodeos so you can get all kinds of interesting stories from them about life on the rodeo, including the dozens of bones they have broken and the myriad of ways they have maimed their bodies for the good of the sport. After hearing all this, Luke said there was no way he’d be in a rodeo ;-).

So those were some of the new things we did this year. In addition to the above, we also went to Squaw Valley which still had tons of snow (not enough for skiing but more than enough for snowball fights), the kids went parasailing along with a group of three other kids (who happened to be the kids of the parasailing company’s owner), and we spent some time at Sand Harbor, our favorite beach, among other things. Hard to believe another vacation is over, but the memories from this one should keep us pumped for years to come.

July Highlights:
<li>Lilah has her first sleep over</li>
<li>We watch fireworks</li>
<li>We check out the local street fair</li>
<li>We take our annual vacation to Lake Tahoe – here is a link to all the pictures</li>
<li>The kids attend a week long camp at America’s Teaching Zoo</li>
<li>I race in the inaugural Goleta Beach triathlon</li>
<h3>Kids Cap Off Another Successful School Year at Yamas</h3>
The kids finished off the school year with strong report cards. Lilah got all As and Excellents and Luke did well too, although not as well as Lilah, which Lilah was quick to point out (as always). We decided to take the kids to Yamas, a Japanese restaurant that features Teppan cuisine and plenty of showmanship as the chefs clink the condiment containers together to make music, juggle eggs on the edge of a spatula and turn onions into <a href=”/wp-content/gallery/june-2011/IMG_2134.jpg”>locomotive steam engines</a>. We thought it would be a fun and tasty way to celebrate the kids’ achievements, but, as is the case more and more these days, Lilah had other plans. She insisted that she did not want to go to eat Japanese food, that she didn’t like it, that she just wanted to stay at home and relax, etc. She also said that she would not be going to Yamas and that we should go without her. After a few futile attempts at negotiation, we resorted to the more heavy-handed, “Lilah, you’re going, now get in the car.”

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