Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

January 31, 2012

January 2012 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 7:18 pm

January Highlights:

New Year Celebration

Gone are the days when the kids could not stay up until midnight. This year, the kids had a great time celebrating the new year with friends. Mom and dad also had a wonderful time hanging out, playing a little ping pong, doing some modest drinking, and eating some delicious food that featured a main course of pulled pork that had been cooked for more than 8 hours.

It was fun to watch the kids pair into groups of boys and girls, with the girls playing a Wii game called Just Dance III while the boys shot each other with Nerf guns. Later, the separate camps merged into one to play Wii party and soon after that all the kids put on party hats, counted down to the new year and began blowing their toy horns into the air and at each other.

Lilah Makes Changes in Her Life for the Better Despite Her Meddlesome Dad
Lilah had been complaining for some time that she did not want to do swimming and preferred to do something else with her time instead. I have to admit that I wasn’t the most understanding dad during that time period, insisting that she needed to stick with swimming because I didn’t want her sitting around the house simply texting her friends on her iPod touch or watching King of the Hill repeats for hours on end. I told her that if she wasn’t going to swim, she still needed to participate in some sport. She said fine, but asked me what sport she choose? I threw out some options to her – soccer (no, too much running), softball (no, too time consuming), etc.. She said she wanted to do volleyball. I told her that volleyball season had already passed, but then one day while driving to work I saw a banner advertising the US Youth Volleyball League. To make a long story short, we are going to sign her up for volleyball, which starts in April.

One thing I have noticed however, is that my fears of Lilah becoming a sloth-like, TV-watching kid were probably overblown to begin with. It’s true that she likes to camp out in our bedroom after school with King of the Hill on in the background, but she doesn’t just mindlessly watch the show when she’s in there. Instead, she does her homework, she works on crafts — such as making hair bows out of decorative Hello Kitty duck tape — and she also works on the school yearbook. In fact, it turns out that she’s been given the responsibility to lay out and provide the copy for 4 pages of the yearbook, a responsibility she takes pretty seriously. On top of that, she continues to do very well at school, which she reminded me of when she showed me her certificate for getting on the honor roll for her 4.0 grade point average.

Now that she is not swimming, I also notice that Lilah is calmer, less moody, and pretty much a happier kid in general. If anything, this experience has taught me that we have to be diligent about listening to our kids and take notice of the verbal and non verbal cues they give us. Cathy reminded me that Lilah has PE at school two to three times a week and that each outing is one and a half hours, which amounts to a pretty healthy workout. She also gets a lot of homework and, as I mentioned before, is involved with extracurricular activities like the yearbook.  Anyway, I think I’ve received the message loud and clear and am now supporting Lilah more in her decisions because I know she’s a good kid who can think for herself and (at such a young age) already knows how to structure her life in a balanced way that makes her happy.

Luke – What a Difference a Year Makes
Turns out that Luke is no slouch himself in the academic department. True, he tends to rush through his assignments and not always pay attention to instructions because he is so eager to move on and do other things like play video games and watch TV, but I was pleasantly surprised when he brought home a paper from school indicating that his teacher had nominated him to take the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) exam, an honor his sister also received in third grade. Perhaps the piano lessons he has been taking for 6 months are paying off as a study showed that a group of second graders who had been given music lessons scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than kids who had no musical background.

I have actually gotten into the piano lessons as well. I’m the one who will typically hang out with Luke in the room so that he practices piano for at least a few minutes almost every day. So not too long ago, I decided that I would also try to play all the songs myself and learn music in the process as well. So far this experiment is paying off nicely in many ways: 1) I find I enjoy sitting in front of the piano and perfecting the songs from the lesson plan; 2) It’s a nice form of therapy in that when I play I am totally focused on the playing and not thinking of anything else; 3) Luke sees that I practice and thus it sets a good example for him and has even fostered a friendly rivalry where we try to learn songs better or faster than each other (it’s a nice bond to have); 4) Maybe these lessons will help dad’s brain get smarter ;-).

On the athletic front, despite not doing any baseball for months, Luke surprised me again with the improvement he has made in his motor skills. Last year, when I took him to the batting cage, he was lucky if he could hit 20% of the pitches shot at him by the pitching machine. This year, he got into the cage and hit well over half the pitches that came his way. In that moment, I realized that it’s not only practice that makes kids better at a sport, it’s also the simple fact of being one year older. Based on what I saw, I think this is going to be a good season for Luke.

We Buy Our First Rental Property
For years, I’ve been talking to friends about buying a piece of rental property one day as a way to supplement our family income. Well, this was the year I decided to stop talking about it and do something about it instead. The result is my brother inlaw and I put some money together to buy a fourplex which we plan to rent out in March. There is still a lot of work to be done between now and then such as getting the loan, closing escrow, fixing the place up, and interviewing some property management companies, but we’re pretty excited about this first purchase and if all goes well in the first six months, we may look to conduct more real estate transactions in the future.

That’s all for now…more next month.

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