Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

July 31, 2013

July 2013 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 7:24 pm

July Highlights (there are two pages of pictures this month – click on 2 above to see second page):

First Time All Four of Us Go to Las Vegas

Over the years, all of us have gone to Las Vegas, but never all together. Cathy has gone on her own, I have gone on my own, Cathy has gone with the kids, and I have avoided going with the kids ;-). This year, we decided to forego our typical week-long vacation in a nice natural setting and opted instead for the glitz and, unfortunately, the heat of Vegas. As a kid, I remember going to Vegas in the summer with my parents but never when it was 114+ degrees for the entire length of our stay. Yes, it was that hot in Vegas. Thankfully we had nice accommodations with a refreshing pool area, which I managed to pick up through Travelzoo, but even hanging out in the pool wasn’t all that comfortable unless you located a small patch of shade and even then it was just tolerable.

Nevertheless, we all managed to have fun. In addition to the pool we made trips to the strip, Circus Circus, the M&M store, and, of course, The Fashion Mall where Luke picked up some pretty loud red skateboard shoes at Zumiez to “match” his green shirt and shorts. How could I resist letting him buy these shoes, since he found out they were on sale and he also offered to pay half the cost. I think the red shoes, the M&Ms, the waterfall at the pool and the giant jacuzzi tub made the trip for him. In fact, rub a dub dubbing in the tub may have been the kids’ favorite activity in Vegas (other than going on the rides at Circus Circus), as the almost preferred spending more time in the tub than in the pool. Like I’ve said before, I am happy when the kids appreciate the simple things in life, especially when they don’t cost any extra money.

I thought that opting for the Red Rock Canyon location would lead to some potential nature hikes, but when the temperatures are that hot, the last place you want to be is outside. Cat read about a place in Red Rock Canyon we could have driven to where a hike would have potentially been possible because the temperatures there drop a good 20-25 degrees due to the higher elevation. However, the place was being evacuated due to nearby fires. The smoke from these fires was visible during the 4th of July fireworks show we attended. The fireworks were great but there was no grand finale so when the show was over we were left with the thought “I guess that was it.”

Like I said, we managed to have fun despite the heat and despite the fact that I’m not much of a Vegas person. The kids did express that they do not have any desire to come back to Vegas and that they really want to go back to Lake Tahoe. They then expanded on their opinion by stating that they preferred to go to a place where they can “do things” rather than see things. I agreed wholeheartedly so I think we’ll be rekindling our love affair with Lake Tahoe again next year. ┬áCan’t wait!

Hanging Out with Our Danish Friends

Last year, Ruben, my friend and former colleague at Intel, mentioned that he was planning a vacation to California with his family and thought it would be cool if he could find a place that was close to me. Luckily, my wife’s friend Anna was leaving to Brazil the same month Ruben was coming out with his family so she kindly let them all stay in her place while she was gone. The living arrangement worked out perfectly as Ruben was able to use Anna’s place as a home base in between trips to Cambria, Big Sur, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Sedona and Las Vegas. One of the advantages of being Danish is that you get to take 3-week long vacations in the summer and still have two weeks left to use later. By law, Danish employers are required to provide 5 weeks of vacation per year and many companies provide 6 weeks or more. I was telling Ruben that I wouldn’t mind paying higher taxes to get those type of benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the United States for many reasons, but I just don’t know why we, as a society, haven’t caught on to the fact that having a vacation that is longer than two weeks per year is not a bad thing. In fact, it gives people the opportunity to participate in some pretty wonderful experiences, forging friendships and creating some lasting memories along the way.

An example of this was my daughter Lilah who found a kindred spirit in Ruben’s daughter, Anna. The two of them shared so many similarities that it’s hard for me to remember them all. They both had many familiar facial expressions — especially the ones that show annoyance at parents — they both are great swimmers, they both do this hand clapping, beat box thing (popularized by the film Fever Pitch), they both like Starbucks (Lilah even introduced Anna to “Cotton Candy,” an “off-the-menu” drink). In addition Lilah and Anna are perfectly content to spend all day shopping and take great pleasure in picking on their little brothers.

I told Lilah that maybe the two of us could take a trip to Denmark next year (assuming I can get the vacation time) and she was excited about the possibility. In the meantime, it looks like she is connected with Anna through Instagram. She also sent her a letter recently in which she included a Justin Bieber and One Direction poster. That was one area of difference between the two girls with Anna being the big fan and Lilah, not so much.

I miss Ruben and his family. Ruben and I had gotten into a nice little routine of doing training rides, runs and swims together. As a triathlete, I spend a fair amount of time running and riding alone, although I do schedule a couple of group rides and swims every week just to keep the motivation going. But spending one-on-one time with Ruben on the road was a great change of pace. Ruben, I look forward to doing this again with you soon — if not here, perhaps in Denmark or possibly Chile ;-).

Lilah and Luke Complete Summer Camps

Both attempts at getting Luke into a skateboard camp through the parks and recs failed. Each time the camp was cancelled due to low attendance — only one other boy besides Luke signed up. The good news is that Luke has started riding his skateboard again. He is definitely not as adventurous as he was before the crash, but at least he enjoys slowly carving his way down some mellow hills in our neighborhood. It also gives me an opportunity to do something fun with him since I can follow along on my long board.

Luke’s animation camp was a different story. He seemed to enjoy his experience, but didn’t elaborate too much on what he actually created while he was in class. I did learn that he had the opportunity to work on an animation project on his own or as part of a two-person team. He chose the team option and in the process made a friend that he now connects with through the X-Box. Even though the X-Box is not my personal choice in terms of entertainment, I am starting to see the value in having the device in the house. Luke is typically a pretty reserved kid, but when he gets on the X-Box with his headset and microphone he comes out of his shell. He gets animated, he gets into the strategy of the game, tells others what to do, and the volume on his voice gets turned up quite a few decibels. In other words, he communicates with more zest and expands his vocabulary which is definitely good for him.

Lilah jokes around about Luke’s animated self because it’s a surprise to her as well. For the most part, she is pretty good-natured in the ribbing of her brother, but sometimes she has to sneak up on Luke and yell something into the microphone so that Luke’s online buddies can hear her. Then, Luke is forced to explain the outburst, “That was my sister…” Fortunately for Luke, Lilah doesn’t do it over and over again.

Lilah completed volleyball camp this month. She had a good time there. She learned to dive for balls, roll on the ground to recover, and serve, bump and set better. I knew she was into the camp because after it was over she would ask if I could go practice hitting the ball in the backyard with her so that she could improve her skills. It turns out that she actually wants to try out for her school’s volleyball team this season so good for her. We’ll see if she keeps it up however, as she hasn’t asked me to practice with her much lately. And I don’t push it. I’m a firm believer that if you really want to do something, you will find a way.

We Visit Jalama Beach for the First Time

Every year my friend Randy takes a camping trip with his family somewhere along the coast. This year he chose Jalama State Beach, giving me the perfect excuse to finally see and experience a place I had heard so much about. Jalama is about a 2 hour drive from where we live and the last part of the drive features a 14 mile windy path that leads through some golden hills, ranches, and plowed fields where we saw a few deer. As you make your way through the hills and mini mountains, it’s tough to imagine that at the end of this ride you will reach the beach, but in the last mile or so the coastline makes an appearance and then it’s all downhill to the sun, surf and beach.

If you like the beach, Jalama is a great place. You have camp sites, showers, great surf, a small store, and an awesome burger stand where all of us ate our fill and replenished our energy sources after the long drive. However, if you’re like Cathy, you say things like “I don’t know what’s so special about this beach…it’s noisy, it’s sandy and it’s windy just like it is at any other beach.” That’s my Cathy. Just like I’m not much a Vegas person, she is definitely not a beach person.

Still, she did enjoy catching up with Randy and Janae and the kids liked the experience as well. Jalama is known for being a windy place — we experienced a bit of that in the late afternoon, but for the most part we had a picture perfect day with gentle winds in the early part of the day and afternoon, some stronger breezes later, and then a relatively calm and beautiful sunset in the evening where the sky turned golden, then dazzled us with some incredible shades of purple and magenta.

More next month…

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