Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

August 31, 2013

August 2013 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 4:11 pm

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

We Go to the Ventura Fair for the First time Since 2006

For some reason, I had it in my head that we had gone to the fair multiple times as a family, but the kids said they only remember going once. Well, technically, I was right — we went to the fair two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006, which I guess was enough for me ;-). But, at the same time, the fact that our trip was so long ago meant the kids would have been six and three at the time (thus the haziness in recollecting how many times we had been there). 

I wasn’t that thrilled at the concept of going again because, as you all know, I am not into amusement park type settings, especially the large crowds, the waiting in line, the overpriced food, and all the constant noise (I know, I sound like an old person). However, I have to admit that we had a pretty good time. I think some of this is probably due to the kids being older. It’s just a lot more fun hanging out with the kids when you can have conversations with them and joke around with each other. The contrast of having older kids vs. toddlers really hit me when we sat down to eat our sandwiches and I noticed the mom at the table next to us struggling to keep the peace with her young kids, especially the one in the stroller who kept crying in an attempt to get her mother’s attention. Sure, as parents, we all have to go through the various stages of development with our kids, I’m just happy for the stage our kids are in right now.

The kids had fun going on the rides, although Lilah wasn’t too happy about her brother “wimping out” of riding on the big ones with her. Nevertheless it was a nice night out. We also got a chance to watch the rodeo as well, something the kids had never seen before. The event started with a sky diver hovering above us holding an American flag which he guided into a perfect landing right in the middle of the arena — a pretty spectacular sight. During the rodeo, we watched traditional cowboys lasso calves, and also ride bucking horses and bulls, but one of the highlights for the kids was watching young cowboy kids (some as young as 4 years old) ride atop of sheep. It was pretty crazy seeing kids trying their hardest to hold on to the rope before falling off their woolly steeds. I don’t remember any of the kids hitting the ground too hard as they were always followed by adults who helped catch them or brace their fall. All the kids also wore helmets (a lesson dad still hasn’t learned as you will read below). It was amazing to see kids so young take on a challenge like that, but I guess if you see your mom or dad do it, it’s only natural for some of them to want to get in on the action too.

We Visit Solvang

Growing up, I don’t remember taking too many family vacations, but we did make a few trips to the Danish-American town of Solvang. I remember that before heading into town we would always stop at Andersen’s pea soup in Buellton. I also remember my parents pointing out the various billboards advertising the place on the way their. These billboards depicted a burly chef about to split a pea with a huge mallet while a skinny chef next to him held a chisel in place over a small pea — ready to take the impact. As we would get closer to the restaurant, the signs would change — the skinny chef donned more bandages on his face and his posture began to cower for fear of being hit by yet another piece of pea shrapnel. Each sign also depicted how many miles were left before we would reach our destination, making the anticipation great. The payoff was always a hearty bowl or two of the delicious soup with homemade bread.

Decades later, we now found ourselves taking our own kids to Solvang, so, of course, we stopped in Buellton. Along the way, I told the kids the story about how their grandparents would take my sister and me their as kids. I thought for sure the kids would have no interest in having pea soup, but they surprised me by having more than their fair share of the stuff. We didn’t order any for them, but they had quite a few spoonfuls from mom and dad’s bowl. Maybe this was one of those times where the story of their parents making this same journey and having the “delicious” soup, really piqued their thus making them more receptive to eating something they don’t normally eat (and liking it). Hey, score one for the parents.  

We had an absolutely perfect day in Solvang. If you like to eat sweets and drink wine, it is definitely a town worth visiting. There are bakeries and wine tasting places everywhere. On our trip, Luke discovered the Danish aebleskiver (also known as Danish pancakes), a fried round ball of dough doused in raspberry jelly and sprinkled with powdered sugar. He absolutely loved these things. And, luckily for us, he also likes the Trader Joe version of these snacks which we can now heat up for him in our attempt to fatten him up for the winter ;-).

The next time we go, the kids want us to rent those multi-people bikes you typically see families riding around at popular beach locations. It was a hot day, but it looked like fun way to get around the low-key town, which features some areas that are closed off to car traffic making it easy for pedestrians to navigate and explore the many shops, restaurants, breweries and eateries the place has to offer. The good news is that the kids want to go again so maybe we can continue the Buellton/Solvang trip tradition that was started so many years ago. Maybe the next time we can even bring my parents.

First Camping Trip with the Entire Family

The big news this month is that I finally convinced Cathy to go camping — in a tent! There were a few things I did to warm her up to the idea. First of all, I told her there would be no cooking involved as we would be staying at the Carpinteria State Beach campground. That meant we could just walk into town to pick up food. Second, I said we would only be camping for one night — and, again, I reminded her there would be “no cooking” ;-).

We had absolutely beautiful weather. Well, the first day had a bit of a tug-of-war between sunshine and overcast, but the temperatures remained warm and eventually the sun won out providing us with a nice balmy evening and a gorgeous morning the next day. On the first day of our stay, the kids boogie boarded all day, we also played ping pong, ate snow cones, and grubbed on some cheeseburgers from “The Spot,” which is about a hundred yards or so from the beach.

The night was definitely a highlight however, as Cathy “let the dogs out” and decided to share a pitcher of beer with me during our dinner with the kids at Rusty’s Pizza. The biggest laugh of the trip was when the kids said, “momma you should drink more often because you’re more fun when you drink.” I almost spit out my beer when they said that as Cathy and I both started laughing. Now, I don’t think that drinking a lot of alcohol in front of your kids is a great example to set for them, but when done responsibly and when you don’t do it all the time, there’s no harm. I asked the kids why they thought “momma” was more fun and they said it was because she seemed to smile more and wasn’t yelling at them (note that the kids are fond of exaggerating, as Cat doesn’t really yell at them often, although she does have to raise her voice to get their attention when they’re watching TV or zoned into some other aspect of their little worlds).

After our fun at Rusty’s we walked back to the campsite to start our fire and cap the night’s activities with some s’mores making. We had a little scare at first in that I couldn’t seem to get the fire started. Luckily, the nice guy camping next to us came over and offered me some of his lighter fluid to help start the fire — it worked perfectly and the night was saved as s’mores were had by all, and we all slept soundly afterwards. Cat did say it wasn’t that comfortable of a sleep, but I gently reminded her that we were only doing it for one night.

I knew that Cathy was having a nice time when I turned to her the next day on our walk and said it would be nice to retire in Carp. Instead of giving me her usual speech about how much she hates the beach, she actually nodded her head and agreed with my statement. I think we will be back next year for sure.

Hansen Dam Triathlon

Leading up to the Hansen dam triathlon I found myself dispensing coaching advice to Tom, a friend from work who had targeted this particular race as his first triathlon ever. His goal had been simply to train hard enough to complete the distance and finish in one piece. Tom’s biggest fear was the swim, but I assured him that with all the swimming he had done, including an open water swim with me at the Ventura harbor, he would be more than prepared to do well at the Hansen Dam lake swim. The week of the race, Tom peppered me with questions about how to best prepare for the race. I reiterated to him that the best thing he could do the week of the race was to continue doing the same things he had been doing — eat the same things, do the same workouts, etc. — but to diminish the intensity of this workouts a few days before the race and to not do anything at all the day before the race so that he would be fresh and ready to go when he got to the starting line. I also told him not to do anything new or crazy the week of the race because the last thing you want to do is get injured before your big day.

The good news: Tom listened to my advice and was well prepared on race day. The bad news: I did not listen so well. Four days before the race, I walked the dog with the kids. Or rather, Lilah walked the dog with the aid of her Razor scooter, while Luke and I practiced our carving technique on our skateboards. We have a gentle grade that leads to a neighborhood park and what Luke and I will typically do is slalom back and forth down the grade as we make our way to the park. The slaloming serves two purposes: 1) it keeps our turning skills sharp so that when the snowboard season comes, we’ll be ready, 2) most importantly, it slows us down so that we don’t get going too fast down the hill. Fortunately, Luke has wheels that prevent him from going too fast, but for me it’s important to really slow myself down because my wheels can get me going plenty fast, especially when moving in a straight downhill line which is what I was forced to do when a car was coming toward me. Normally, even if I’m going fast, it’s not that big of a deal because the hill straightens out naturally which eventually slows you down to a stop. However, to get to the park you have to make a left hand turn before the straightening out part. I have made this turn hundreds of times with no issues, but this time I was going faster than normal. Obviously, what a responsible person should do in this situation is just keep going straight, slow down, come to a stop and double-back up the street and then make the turn in a controlled manner, but I decided to forego that plan and instead attempted the turn at high speed anyway.

Next thing I know, I hit the pavement hard. I hit it so hard my sunglasses went flying. I landed on the right side of my body — the same side I fell on during my season-ending crash on my bike last year. The crash left me with bloodied hands, forearms, and knees, not to mention a nice bump on the head as the last thing to hit the ground was my unprotected melon. The kids were too far behind me to see what had happened, but when they got to me, I told them to keep walking the dog while I feebly attempted to jog back home to wash off and ice my sore body parts. It was during the icing that it occurred to me that I had forgotten my sunglasses so I quickly got in the car only to find my sunglasses were gone so not only did I bruise my body badly (after telling Tom not to do anything stupid leading up to a race), I also lost a prescription pair of sunglasses which I now have to get replaced for $120.

I learned a few lessons from this fall. On the bright side, my doctor was right — bones that have healed from a previous break are really hard to break again. Even though I hit the pavement pretty hard, I did not fracture anything — although I did end up with some bruised ribs that remained sore for a few weeks. Another lesson I learned is that it’s best not to take short cuts when it comes to things that can put you in physical danger. This means wear your helmet at all times and don’t try anything stupid like taking a turn too fast the week leading up to a race. Training for triathlons takes a lot of time. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself after you’ve spent months preparing your body for optimum performance. Lastly, don’t wear your prescription sunglasses when skateboarding — they’re expensive to replace ;-).

Now for the race recap — I posted a summary on Facebook, so rather than retype it, I’ve pasted it below

Race Recap
I was on my way to my second consecutive podium finish before I flatted on my bike. Luckily, it happened somewhat close enough to the finish line so I was able to get off my bike and run it to the transition area without losing too much time. It still cost me about a minute thirty, maybe two minutes on my bike and transition split. Without the mishap I would have had a legitimate third place finish today and possibly a second place. Instead I finished 5th. Highlights were: being first in my group out of the water and introducing Tom, a friend from work, to the sport of triathlon — this was his first race and I made sure I fitted him with an honorary CVTri shirt for the occasion (he did great, just two places behind me in 7th).

The iPhone

For years, I have resisted the temptation to purchase my own smartphone. I am not against technology, but when I see what technology does to people, I become wary of adopting it. What I’m referring to is how smartphone-obsessed people can get with their devices and how it can interfere with them enjoying the moment. I’m sure you have all seen it too. You’re at a social function — party, restaurant, a walk on the beach — and someone in your group will suddenly take their phone out to respond to a message, check a sports score, post something on FB, etc.. Not having a smartphone has been my silent protest against this behavioral change in our culture. Now granted, sometimes the smartphone can come in handy and in certain social contexts it is perfectly acceptable to take it out. For example, if you’re talking to a friend about a song or show you like, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to take the phone out to play a sample of music or video clip. And the reason it’s acceptable to me here is because it relates to your conversation and can even add another dimension to it. The behavior I don’t like is when people simply take out their phone to briefly escape the moment they are in — dinner party, outing at the park with the kids, — to check on something going on somewhere else.

But I digress. The point is that I now have a smartphone and so does Lilah. Yes, Cathy and I decided that now was the right time. She’s proven over and over again that she’s a good responsible kid so we wanted to reward her with something we knew she’d love. We gave her the phone on the day before she started 8th grade. Needless to say, she was excited. I was happy for her, but I also had to give her my dad lecture on not allowing herself to become addicted to this little electronic device. We’ll see how it goes. This is new territory for me. Lilah reminded me that this is not so new too her because she’s had her iPod touch — which allows her to text — for a while now. I told her I knew that and that all I wanted was for her to stay the sweet, good kid she is now. If she does that, then there will be plenty of rewards along the way.

More next month…

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