Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

February 28, 2013

February 2013 – Family Update

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 11:53 pm

February Highlights:

Father/Daughter Dance

For the fourth year in a row, Lilah and I attended the YMCA’s annual father/daughter dance. A bunch of us with daughters roughly the same age sat together for dinner and then spent the night “occasionally” dancing with our daughters. This was the first year that our girls were more interested in dancing with each other as a group, then they were in grabbing their dads to accompany them out to the dance floor. I joked with the other dads that it reminded me a lot of my younger years at the dance clubs watching grown up women doing the same thing — dancing together in groups rather than dancing with me or my friends. Our daughters essentially left us to reminisce about how little our girls used to be, how big they were getting, and how they would be all grown up and out the door soon.

But it wasn’t all bad. Oddly enough, the girls asked us out for more slow dances than in the past. Somehow that didn’t help me feel any better. It’s as if our girls were using us as practice so that they’d be ready to dance with boys in the future at school dances. In the end, I think that was just me over analyzing things too much though. The good news in all this is that our daughters still have fun at this event, they still like coming with us, and look forward to coming back again next year — at least that’s what Lilah confirmed with me when I asked her if she’d be into coming back with her daddy next year.

Lilah also used the occasion to convince me to let her sign up for Instagram. I wasn’t to sure about application at first, but it seems like all her close friends are using it for pretty innocent purposes — posting pictures of puppies and furry creatures of any kind, sharing funny quotes about school, etc.. When I started to explain what the rules were for using the service to Lilah, she said, “Yes, I know, don’t accept invitations from strangers, block anyone you don’t know, and don’t use it to be mean.” She is so grown up sometimes.

Two Trips to the Snow – One Good/One Bad

Mt. High Snowboard Trip
In our quest to become ultimate snowboarders (yeah right), Luke and I took another trip to Mountain High. The day started promising: the sun was out, the mountain was white, and we were wide awake and ready to go. I decided that before paying for another ski lesson, we should try to do a little snowboarding on our own. I thought, if all went well, maybe we could skip the lesson and save $100. After all, Luke had already participated in a 5 hour and 2.5 hour session of childrens’ ski academy.  Sure, I still wasn’t very good at it, but I spent time the night before watching snowboarding videos on YouTube and also chatted to the guy at Sports Chalet who armed me with what I thought were some very good tips. Well, within the first five minutes of our “go-it-alone” experiment, Luke fell and hurt his wrist. I examined Luke’s wrist and he didn’t seem to have any swelling or bruising. However, he insisted that he twisted his wrist and that it really hurt. I asked him if he thought we should still take lessons given the fact he was hurt. He said that “maybe lessons would be good.” Long story short, I shelled out $100 for private lessons after Luke and I ate and rested at the lodge for 45 minutes.

I thought our instructor did a great job of finally getting me to relax and feel like I could actually snowboard. The key piece of advice he gave me was to not look at the ground, to relax my arms and be loose (like a stoner he added), and to look out into the horizon and get it into my head that I was not going to fall. Somehow that worked for me and I found myself able to have a lot more fun than my first trip out. Luke was okay, but he was really cautious and in a somewhat mopey, “I hurt myself” state of mind. The good news was that he went on the lift for the first time. The bad news is that he fell again and decided he did not want to snowboard anymore. He said he would just watch while I snowboarded so I did little more snowboarding on my own, but didn’t go back up on the lift because I didn’t want to leave Luke alone out of eye sight.

That meant I was relegated to trying to snowboard in heavy crowds bull of beginners at the base of the mountain. When you’re a beginner, this is very nerve wracking because you don’t have full control of your board. As a beginner, you want all the space you can have so that you can try out your turns without worrying that you’re going to crash into someone. It’s very similar to when you’re beginning to surf. The last thing you want to do when you’re first starting is try to surf on a congested beach break because you’re more worried about crashing into other people than learning the sport. Needless to say, I didn’t spend too much time practicing what I had learned. Luke didn’t help matters any as he kept asking me when we were going to leave (in that bummed out, defeatist voice he uses when he’s not having a good time). However, one positive thing I can take from the experience is the feeling I now have that I could actually learn this sport, given time, space, and a son with a sunnier disposition (next time we go, I am bringing wrist guards for Luke).

YMCA Winter Camp
What a difference a week can make. We had a blast at winter camp, which was held a week after our short lived snowboarding trip. We lucked out with a snowstorm hitting the mountains just two days before our arrival giving the kids plenty of snow to sled in.  The kids also had a great time conducting snow ball wars. We had fun watching the kids stockpile their snowballs and scout their rivals before the inevitable attack. Luke’s team started from a higher vantage point, which gave them the great tactical advantage of being able to see their enemies down below. It wasn’t long before Luke and Derek were leading the charge down the hill and pelting the rival tribe’s boys with snowballs. Luke said they got them so good that the poor boys from the other team went running for cover to the main lodge.

In addition to the fun he had with the boys, Luke also got to meet Shannon, a friend of mine from college who lives in the Frazier Park area. She invited us to come visit her at the Pine Mountain club lodge and hang out with some friends. Luke and I were impressed at how everyone in town seemed to know Shannon and made their way over to her to say hello or share a story with her. We spent a good two hours enjoying the food and the company. I worried a bit about Luke as he was the only kid at our table of five, but every time I asked him if he wanted to leave, he said he was fine. On the drive back to camp Luke mentioned he followed most of the adult conversations we had, which bounced around many topics, including Shannon’s life as a high school english teacher, gun control, whether the fabric of society is falling apart or not, the school district in Frazier Park, and how Cathy and I met. The only thing he said he couldn’t understand were some of the jokes, which he admitted he probably couldn’t discern because he wasn’t old enough yet. He also said that Shannon and her friends were examples of cool teachers. Quite a compliment from someone who isn’t too fond of school and teachers in general, although he did express a liking for a substitute teacher who distributed candy to him and his classmates for good behavior. 

On our way home from winter camp, a friend of mine invited Luke and I to join him and his sons at Magic Mountain. I was wary of taking Luke there as he had never really been on what I would call a real roller coaster, but Luke said he was willing to give it a try. The first ride he went on was Ninja and he seemed to do just fine. Next came one of the oldest (if not the oldest) roller coaster in the park, Gold Rush. After Ninja, Gold Rush seemed a bit tame so Luke ventured out onto a spinning ride, which he normally doesn’t do. My hunch is that he was trying to show off in front of his friend Jacob, who did not want to go on the spinning ride (I believe it was called Wonder Woman). Keep in mind that Jacob has a hearty enough constitution to have ridden nearly every ride at Magic Mountain, something he was quite proud to tell Luke about. So I believe going on the spinning ride was the only way Luke could find to one-up Jacob. Well, his victory was short-lived because the next ride we got on was Colossus. I knew that even though Colossus was old and nowhere near as big as many of the new roller coasters, it would still present a challenge to Luke because the first drop is pretty steep. Sure enough, I looked at Luke after that first drop and he had that nervous, quiet look he gets when he’s scared. I reassured him that the first drop is the biggest one and that the next one would be smaller and the one after that smaller still. I also kept my hand on his lap because he freaked out a bit at the sensation of lifting out of his seat from the momentum of the ride. He still did a good job of putting on a strong face however. He did not cry, but after the ride was over he said that he was fine going home and not getting on any more rides.

On the way out of the park, Luke said “I don’t think I’m much of a roller coaster person.” I smiled and let him know that’s okay. 45 minutes later as we were pulling into our neighborhood, Luke and I had the following exchange.

Luke: Well you know what’s kind of good about going on roller coasters?

Me:  What Luke?

Luke: Now I can tell my friends about it at school.

Nice to see Luke finding the positive aspect of this experience ;-).

We Lose Two Dear Family Friends

We lost two family friends, Miguel Bello and Luis Zanartu, this month. The loss was especially tough on my dad because he shares an immigrant kinship with them that stems from the fact they all immigrated from Chile at roughly the same time. These are guys who helped each other when they came to this country in their twenties. They found each other jobs and places to stay, they served as sounding boards for different ideas they had for making their way in this new country. They learned the language together, they had the same accents, they had the same cultural reference points and ways of seeing and thinking about the world. Miguel and Luis were also larger than life personalities that my dad loved hanging out with. My dad, who has always been more introverted, was also the perfect complement to them because he enjoyed listening and laughing at their stories.

Over the years, I also got to know both men pretty well — my sister and I affectionately called them Tio Luis and Tio Miguel. Tio Luis was the king of impersonations. He loved to tell stories in which he mimicked the accents, demeanor, intonation and facial expressions of the characters in his anecdotes. Growing up, I remember our house always filling up with laughter whenever Tio Luis was around telling his stories. I also remember Tio Miguel at my wedding reception, interrupting my wedding speech to ask me if I could repeat what I had just said in Spanish. He was also a gregarious host who loved to prepare a great barbecue (giving you plenty of samples while he grilled) and fill his house with festive music and dancing. Growing up, my sister and I visited Tio Miguel and Luis’ families often.

And even though these visits diminished quite a bit once we started our own families, we never felt far apart from these men because my dad would always keep us abreast of their lives just as he would keep them up to date about what we were up to. When Luis first came to this country, my dad and his business partner helped Luis out by giving him a job at their driving school in Los Angeles. Luis eventually went off to start his own driving school in Oxnard. A few years later, Luis and my dad would reverse roles as my dad moved us to Oxnard and began working for Luis at his driving school. And when Luis moved to Camarillo, my dad ended up renting Luis’ Oxnard house — a place that served as our family home from most of my childhood to early adulthood.

As I mentioned before, we hadn’t seen Luis or Miguel much in the last few years, but my mom and dad always kept that special connection going, and both men were frequently a subject of conversation in the weekly calls I typically have with my dad. Having these connections disappear from your life is really difficult. I can only imagine what it must be like for my dad. Luis was someone that my dad talked to on the phone with almost every day and made my dad laugh. That’s a really special bond. I felt sad for weeks after these men died. Rationally, I know that both men were suffering and that they are now in a better place, but I can’t help but feel nostalgic for both men, loving nothing more than to hear Tio Luis break into one of his famous impersonations again, or have Tio Miguel share a generous sample of the meat he has carefully grilled to perfection on his barbecue. Rest in peace Tio Luis. Rest in peace Tio Miguel.

More next month…

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