Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

April 30, 2012

April 2012 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 2:03 am

April Highlights:

A Visitor from Down Under

We began the month catching up with Sophia, an old friend I used to work with back in the Elixir days. The last time we saw her was when Lilah was just a baby so it was quite a fast-forward for Sophia to see Lilah so grown up and also get to know Luke. One thing is for sure, Sophia definitely made some friends for life as the kids were absolutely thrilled with their authentic Australian gifts which included two different sized boomerangs for Luke, as well as a pretty rugged crocodile belt buckle and other knickknacks. Lilah received some assorted charms of koalas and kangaroos that she can add to the bracelets and necklaces she makes, a book on how to draw Australian wildlife and a few other items as well. In addition, the entire family now owns the Australian board game, Snakes and Ladders. It was definitely a great visit and we look forward to one day visiting her in her own homeland in Melbourne.

Lilah Begins Volleyball and Performs Well at Her First Recital

As most of you know, Lilah used to swim a lot (something that is well documented in this blog), but a few months ago she decided that she had swam enough laps and opted to pursue a new sport, volleyball. I think I was more bummed out with the decision than Lilah because I knew she was good at swimming and that if she wanted to continue she could do very well. I gave her a mini hard time about it, but I knew I had to let it go — well, at least until I had the opportunity to bring it up again ;-).  The opportunity came when Tory told Lilah that she should get back into swimming because she’s good at it and also happens to have the same birthday as Michael Phelps, which Tory saw as “a sign” of a potential Olympic career. I let the girls gab for a while and had fun listening to Tory’s logic. On our way home, after we had said goodbye to Tory, I brought up the subject of swimming and asked her what she thought about what Tory said. Lilah had no problem answering my inquiry. She said that she knew she was good at swimming, but that she’s the type of person who likes to do many different things — dance, draw, make crafts, etc. –which meant she did not want to spend hours and hours of her time churning out laps in a pool. I don’t remember the exact words she used to explain her rationale to me, but what I do remember is the confidence and self-assurance with which she said those words, which was very adult-like and made me drop the subject. I actually think I commended her on her assessment and told her that many adults I know do not express that same level of confidence and conviction when it comes to deciding what they want to do with their lives.

And with that decision, Lilah has moved on to volleyball and is not looking back. She did well at the first practice as I noted she was the only one on her team who could consistently get the ball over the net with an overhand serve. The volleyball league is very low key – one practice and one game per week. That’s it. But when she gets a chance, she practices her skills with Tory who is also playing although not on the same team.

Lilah is now also practicing piano again. Lilah took three years off piano, swearing she would never do it again. But when Luke started playing piano, I began working on her slowly to see if I could change her tune. I tried using reason — playing piano stimulates your brain and makes you smarter. I tried enlisting the help of her brother who would reassure her that his teacher is great and that she’s also very nice. I tried appealing to her sense of competition, telling her that Luke was going to learn piano better than she ever knew it if he continued with his lessons. For months, she responded with phrases like “she didn’t care” about the benefits or the more direct “never again,” but then one day I half jokingly told her I was going to put her in lessons again anyway. To my surprise, however, Lilah responded with a “fine” but not until she was done with some other activity. Obviously, I was happy with her decision. Not because I felt dad still had some pull with his daughter (although maybe there’s a little bit of that) but because I had a feeling she would like playing piano again once she began lessons with her new instructor.

I’m glad to say, I was right about that. Lilah started her lessons at the end of March and made so much progress in three weeks that she wondered if she might be able to play in the recital. The song that did it for her was “Fur Ludwig” which is a much, much simpler version of Fur Elise. She just liked playing it so much and felt so confident playing it that she asked her piano instructor if she could do it (here she is playing her song). Needless to say, I’m happy she’s playing again and I’m also glad she’s enjoying it. She definitely likes to learn songs and challenges herself by always going ahead of the lesson plan, which is quite a contrast from Luke who I always have to drag into the room to play his songs.

Luke Turns Nine

Luke and I attended a Dodgers vs. Angels exhibition baseball game for his birthday. I purchased some great seats, about 14 rows away from the field, close to third base for $30 each thanks to a deal that was e-mailed to use by Travelzoo.com. We had a great time, but as luck would have it, we were at the concession stand when Albert Pujols hit a home run. He did not play again after the first inning so we missed seeing Albert hit the long ball. Oh well, Luke doesn’t know who Albert is anyway. The two of us just had fun watching the game and getting a chance to be so close to the action.

Our other big project this month was working on our Pinewood Derby car. Last time we were in the derby we made it into the finals only to be eliminated in the first round, leaving us out of the running for the big trophies. This year, we were determined to do better. We had heard that if you put more of your weight in the back of the car, your car will go down the track faster so we drilled some holes in the back of the car, put as much weight as we could in there (total weight of car has to be 6 oz. or less), filled the holes with wood putty and then tested it against our old car. Our new car was quite a bit faster than our old car so we were convinced that this would be our year.

On race day we arrived to race the members of our Adventure Guide circle, which is typically “just a formality” before going into the main heat. Even though there were only two other members in our group participating in the race, Luke’s car beat them both handily — he beat the second place car by more than a car length and the third place car by more than two car lengths (here’s a shot of the victory). At this point our confidence was sky high. All we had to do was go home and come back in a few hours for the main qualifying heats where we would repeat our winning ways and head on to the finals for a rematch.

However, our thoughts of a triumphant return to the finals were quickly dispelled when Luke’s car came in third in the first race — you race 6 times in the qualifying heat. Apparently, the first race was among all the fastest cars and the second race was more of the same — another third place. But then some hope, a first place finish, then a second, then another first and second giving us a total of two 1st place finishes, two 2nd place finishes and two 3rds. It turns out that was not enough. We didn’t even make it out of the qualifying round this year.

Even though Luke pretty much told me we weren’t going to win after the third place finishes, and made his patented “eh” sound — the go to sound he makes when he’s disinterested in something (captured at the end of this short video clip) —  when he realized his car was going to receive another second place finish, we were still both bummed about not making it into the finals. But now we’re even more determined “to waste more time” next year in an effort to better our performance.

We Race Go Karts at MB2 Race Track

The last big event we participated in this month was Go Kart racing. We decided to host this month’s Adventure Guides’ meeting at the MB2 Track which was a big hit with all the kids and “most” of the dads. Lilah normally doesn’t like hanging out with boys — a trend I hope continues for many years to come — but she even joined us so that she could race as well. I purchased two trips around the track for both kids as well as two trips for myself. I can see why it would be a lot of fun. There is all this special gear you get to put on — helmet, neck brace, some kind of fire protection sock you put on your head — and then you get to race around the track at speeds of 25+ mph for the kids (40+ for the adults). Both kids took it slow in their first run, but on the second run they decreased their lap times by 10 seconds a lap. Lilah complained about Luke not moving out of the way and letting faster drivers pass, but she still really enjoyed the racing.

I thought I would like the experience enough to go out on two runs myself, but I quickly found out that one run was enough for me. The track is indoors and I believe the turns are really close together to prevent people from going too fast on the track. The quick, tight back and forth turns made it feel like a roller coaster to me. So when the time came to go out on run number two, I passed and saved my ride for another day, a ride I think I will gladly give away to Lilah or Luke on another day.

That’s all for now…more next month!

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