Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

April 30, 2016

April 2016 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 7:20 pm

April Highlights:

Meet Jack

It all started when Cat sent me a text that included an adorable picture of a one-eyed Chihuahua she had learned was up for adoption at the Ojai animal shelter. “Get it,” I responded like I usually do when Cat sends me these type of texts. We laugh, but soon after we resume our busy lives and although the idea of adopting another shelter dog sounds appealing, our energy and focus quickly turn back toward caring for the critters we already have now — two teenagers and Spike — and the thought of adopting another pet fades into the background.

But somehow, little Capone’s image lingered with us for weeks. His face was sweet and had two central features that reminded us of our old dog, Joya. The obvious one was the missing eye. But Capone (his shelter name), had the same quirky ears Joya had where one ear stayed up, while the other one folded in half. For weeks, Cat and I talked about adopting Capone and even involved the kids in the decision making process.

Everyone agreed we should get him, but since we had played the “get him” game so many times nobody really was quite certain what Cat would do. We learned that Capone had been in the shelter longer than any other dog there — 8 months or so. I think that when Cat found that out, it really made her upset that nobody would give this little guy a chance. And so, she did. After her own solo reconnaissance visit, which confirmed to her that he was a good choice, we all found ourselves driving out to Ojai on a rainy Saturday afternoon to pick up the rambunctious 6-7 year old Chihuahua that had captured Cat’s heart.

We all agreed to rename him Jack (after the character Jack Sparrow) and the name really seems to suit him. He is crafty, resourceful, and can figure out how to get into almost anything — whether it’s a small crawl space behind a couch or a table top, he has the agility to squeeze through tiny spaces and the “hops” and intelligence to figure out how to make it to higher elevations. We learned quickly that we need to make sure all chairs are pushed in against the dinner table — otherwise, Jack will jump onto the dining room chairs and use them as a perch for his next jump right onto the dining table.

We all love the new little guy though. He is sweet, loves affection, likes to be at your side and is a big attention hog. Spike has had to adjust to the newcomer in his home. In the beginning, he growled at Jack frequently as he invaded his space — sometimes deliberately and sometimes a little clumsily as the missing eye means Jack’s depth perception isn’t so great. However, after three weeks in close quarters, Spike is at least to the point where he mostly tolerates Jack now as he seems to finally realize that this stranger isn’t going anywhere. We also make sure to give Spike plenty of attention too. When Jack sees that, he comes running over and tries to bump Spike out of the way. When this happens we gently push Jack back a little bit to make sure there is some space between both dogs and then we pet both of them to assure them they are both loved.

For the most part, Jack has integrated himself quite nicely into the family routines. The only thing we still have to work with him on are peeing and pooping inside the house. He’ll do his business outside, but occasionally, we will find a not so pleasant surprise inside the house too.

Lilah is Learning to Drive

Lilah’s mission to be able to drive her own car by her birthday or close to it is on track. Somehow, in the middle of a pretty busy school year and plenty of swim meets, Lilah managed to pass her driver’s education courses and obtain her learner’s permit at the DMV. The next step in the process came when I contacted an old family friend, Tori, to see if she would be so kind as to be Lilah’s instructor. My dad had unfortunately let his instructor license expire and had long ago removed the dual controls from his car. I thought that after some 40+ years as an instructor it would have been cool for him to take Lilah, but the next best thing was having Lilah take her lessons from Tori.

Tori was good with Lilah. The first thing she showed her was how to adjust everything in the car — side mirrors, rearview mirror, steering wheel, seat, etc. — so that she could be in a comfortable driving position. She then proceeded to talk to her about the various controls and dials in the car and how they all worked. It was good because she took her time and really explained everything to Lilah putting her at ease with the situation so that by the time she was done (25 minutes later) Lilah was ready to assume control of the car and drive a car on a public street for the first time. I watched from my driveway and recorded my little girl as she drove up the street, turned the corner and left my sight.

When they got back, Tori said Lilah had done a great job. Lilah, ever the perfectionist, insisted that she was still a little jerky with the gas pedal and the braking but Tori assured her that she had done an admirable job and that she wished that all her first-time students were as good as Lilah. She said that for her next lesson, she would probably take Lilah on the freeway and drive about 15 miles away. But before that, it would probably be good for Cat and I to drive with her as much as we could so that Lilah could continue practicing what she had learned. I was the first guinea pig as I asked Lilah if she wanted to go out and drive with me one day after school. As she had mentioned, she was still a little jerky with the gas and brake but she managed to drive around for 30 minutes and not get us into any accidents. Things went well for the most part. The only thing that was giving her problems was pulling into parking spaces, something she would later tell Cat that I did not explain properly. Cat, apparently explained things much better and that’s fine, that’s what she does for a living so I would expect nothing less ;-).

These days, Cat typically picks her up from school and Lilah drives home to continue her practice. Occasionally, I also take her out and try to be better with my explanations. Lilah is progressing nicely and I’m sure that in another couple of weeks or so she will be ready for her follow-up lesson with Tori. She is definitely on track to getting her license. 

Other Big News – new car, first race of the season, and Lilah goes away for Kiwanis 3-day event

Since Lilah will be driving my car, I finally picked up a new car for myself. After lots of researching and test driving I settled on a Subaru Outback. I love that it is AWD and will become our dedicated snow car for the next season. I keep hoping for one last big snow storm in the Sierras to test out the new vehicle in slicker driving conditions, but I don’t think we’ll have any luck there so we’ll just have to wait until next November or December. In the meantime, we all love the new car. It is roomy, comfortable, and “outdoorsy,” as a coworker of mine recently put it.

My first race of the season went well. I finished third in my age group and am headed back to the same venue in May to compete on a similar course to see how much I’ve progressed in 3 weeks. My dad accompanied me to the race and finally had a chance to see me receive a medal on the podium. He was happy, but neither of us was too thrilled with the long wait leading up to the awards ceremony — both of us were starving by the time I received my medal. I think if I win an award again, we will probably skip the ceremony and go straight to breakfast.

Lilah spent three days at a Marriott hotel near LAX with other Kiwanis club members from all over the state of California in an event I believe was called Dcon. I really didn’t get a chance to ask her much about the event because she got sick shortly thereafter and could not talk. Once she recovered, I remember Cat and I (and Luke) asking her about what took place there during a drive one of our drives home. She said that they just went to conferences and watched presentations. When we pressed her about what she said she went to one conference on Lei making and that all the presentation were basically the same — that they revolved around the great things the club is doing to help the community (like volunteering for float building at the Rose Parade) and how thankful the people were to be part of this group of people who do good.

That’s about as much as we could pull out of a teenager who was annoyed with our questioning. That and that she also now knows that she does not like to hang out with people for three days straight. She said the conference was fine, but she likes to have her own space when the activities are over, something you do not get when you are rooming with other people (or driving in a car with parents and your brother asking you questions).

That’s all for now. More next month.

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