Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

March 31, 2013

March 2013 – Family Update

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 9:11 pm

March Highlights:

Track and Field Saturdays

It seems that one of the skills you have to get used to as a parent is adjusting your schedule. Such is the case with track and field. Normally, Saturday is a chance for me to get out and do a long run in the morning. Well, due to the fact that track meets start at 8:00 AM and can last from 4 to 6+ hours every Saturday, the morning run has now turned into the late afternoon run. Cathy will also have to adjust her schedule soon to make sure she is able to pick Lilah up from volleyball games on Saturday (not to mention taking her to practice on Wednesdays). Because Cathy and I have our own fitness goals as well as work to contend with, it seems that every couple of months or so we are changing up our routines to accommodate activities for the kids. I swear, I don’t know how parents with more than two kids do anything other than shuffle their kids around from place to place. Two is definitely a good number.

Although the track meets are long, the time goes by surprisingly quickly. After his first track meet, which lasted 6+ hours, Luke was also smart enough to switch to running the 400 instead of the 800, which essentially got us out of the second track meet two hours earlier. His events right now are the high jump, the mile, the 400 and the 100. So far, track has proved to be a very positive experience for Luke. It probably didn’t hurt matters much that he won a first place ribbon in his first track event ever — the high jump. He cleared 3 feet 6 inches, but fell just short of doing the same at 3 feet 8 inches. I was definitely surprised when Luke chose the mile as one of his events. I’ve taken him out jogging before and based on how he did running with me I figured he’d be able to run the mile in just under 9 minutes. Well, I was way off the mark — he ran it in 7:32 at the first meet and 7:20 at the next meet the following week. To me, that seemed really fast, but it’s amazing to see how fast some of these little kids can run. There are 9-year old kids out there running close to sub 6-minute miles…Wow!

For the most part, Luke has taken to track and cares about what he does. This was evident when he was eliminated in the first round of the high jump at his second meet. Having earned first place the week before (against a much smaller field consisting of only his own team members), I think he felt he would do well again. When he didn’t he got a little quiet and teary eyed. He didn’t start balling or throw a tantrum or anything, but I could tell that he cared about his results because of the emotion he showed on his face. I have not seen that with any of the other sports he’s played before so who knows, track could be his thing for years to come. For me, it’s just fun to watch Luke progress and continue to work on getting better.

A Musical St. Patrick’s Day Sunday

Just when I thought I had Sunday all to myself, Cathy surprised me by informing me that we had tickets to the Santa Barbara symphony on Sunday afternoon. On second thought, I don’t think she surprised me with the news. I believe her news was more like a reminder of something I had conveniently forgotten about. I didn’t have anything against going to the symphony, I just didn’t know it was scheduled for the day after the 6-hour track meet. The kids, on the other hand, expressed no interested in going, but I told them that was tough because mom had already bought the tickets and that we were all going to attend and have fun in the process. Lilah and Luke remained unconvinced. 

If you read this review about our show, which featured music from George Gershwin, and Leonard Bernstein (including songs from West Side story), you’d think this concert was all the rage.  I particulary liked this quote from the review:

As in the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story of Leonard Bernstein that preceded it on the program, the mood was at once festive, invigorating, and darkly exotic.

I realize the review is talking about the music, but it’s funny to contrast the words “festive” and “invigorating” with the crowd that was actually there. The audience for the show consisted primarily of white-haired, geriatric patrons, something that was not lost on the kids who mentioned they only saw “old people.” Lilah said she did see some younger people, but she didn’t think they were there by choice because they were holding leaflets and paper, kind of like they were taking notes for a school project.

In summary, the musicians were great. The only drawback was that our seats were in the first row, which meant I wasn’t able to see the pianists fingers and only caught a few glimpses of her face and right arm as a view of the rest of her was obstructed by the Steinway piano she was playing. I found a lot of humor in watching the kids faces go from smiles to frowns as they realized that the first stoppage of musical play was only an intermission and that there would be more of “this nonsense” after the break was over ;-).

But the day did get dramatically better for the kids because after the show we walked down State street and came across a cool procession of people dressed in green led by kilt-wearing men playing bagpipes in honor of St. Patrick’s day. The kids were fascinated by the bagpipes, so much so that they turned into little paparazzi chasing down the procession to get better views, take more pictures, and record some video (here’s Lilah capturing some of the bagpipe action).

We capped off the day in Santa Barbara by having dinner at an Indian restaurant. The kids were delighted by the choice of food and I had the host sit us right next to the window so that I could have fun watching all the drunk St. Patty’s Day people walking down the street in an inebriated saunter. In the course of the day, the kids learned that maybe days don’t always start out fun, but there are always opportunities to turn the day around and end up feeling good in the process.

Connecting Turns

On the theme of things not starting out fun, but ending well, it’s interesting to compare the following Facebook entries regarding snowboarding that I posted months apart:

Entry Number One (posted in December 2012)
despite the group lesson, i absolutely sucked at snowboarding and have no desire to ever get on one again

Entry Number Two (posted in March 2013)
i am nowhere near the 10,000 hours malcolm gladwell proposes you need to spend at a profession, sport, hobby, etc. to become a master, but somehow i managed to put in just enough hours this season to finally learn how to snowboard and have fun doing it…yes!

My loathing of snowboarding has come full circle and turned into love. One of the main purposes for me learning to snowboard was that I thought it would be fun to learn something together with my kids — that way, once we learned it, we could all participate and have fun as a group. That plan did not start out so good in December, and I was seriously ready to give it up after the first day disaster. But, as with many things in life, sometimes learning something new is not easy. What is easy to do? Rationalizing why you can’t do something — I’m too old to learn this, I don’t have the right balance, I just don’t get it, etc.. However, if you can keep sight of what your purpose was for learning in the first place (to have fun with the kids), you can use that as motivation for when the learning gets tough, such as the countless times I fell and bruised my tailbone.

In learning a new, physically demanding skill, you also can’t take short cuts. Initially, I thought that because I knew how to skate and surf, it would be no problem to learn snowboarding. Nothing was further from the truth. The truth was that I just needed to get out to the mountains and keep practicing. Through practice, I progressed from knowing nothing to mastering heelside traversing, which allowed me to come down the mountain slowly in a pattern snowboarders call “falling leaf.” Next, I got over my fear of snowboarding toe side which initially caused me to generate so much speed that I’d freak out before turning and force myself to crash instead. To help me overcome this phase, I learned a simple trick of looking up the mountain and that seemed to turn my body and board in the right direction. That meant I was now able to turn left and turn right independently  The last step was learning to connect those left and right turns together, which basically means you are able to glide down the mountain using a series of S turns all the way down the run.

Once you’re able to connect turns, then you’re well on your way to becoming a snowboarder. The fact that Luke and I both learned this final piece of the puzzle in Mammoth, the mecca of mountain resorts in California, made it all the more special. This was the first time the three of us had ever been to Mammoth in the snow and man was it an awesome experience. Lilah and Luke both loved the amount of snow (6.5 to 14 foot base) and the quality of snow. The trip was somewhat of an impromptu venture as I planned it just a week before the kids got out of school for spring break. It was a perfect way to cap the season. Cathy did not accompany us, but that’s okay as it gave her a chance to have some mom alone time, which essentially consisted of her doing whatever she wanted — something she relishes!

It’s a five hour drive to Mammoth, but we always stop along the way to stretch and get a few pictures. The scenery on the 395 highway is breathtaking, especially the east side of the snow-capped Sierras which accompany you for seemingly endless miles. Our location in Mammoth was excellent — just a small lodge (Sierra Lodge), but reasonably priced and strategically located next door to a decent BBQ place named Angel’s, across the street from a respectable pizza place named John’s Pizzza Works, and minutes away from the slopes either by car or free shuttle. I can’t say enough about our experience in Mammoth. The people were friendly, the slopes were huge, giving you plenty of space to experiment with your turns without feeling like you were going to crash into someone, and the dining was simple and easy. I think we’re definitely going to be heading back there next year and who knows, maybe two trips will be in order.

Easter Egg Hunt

We ended the month with an Easter egg hunt at our place. It’s good to see the kids still enjoy scavenging through our backyard for candy-filled eggs. My folks as well as my sister and nephews joined to make it a festive atmosphere. I think it was good for my parents to be around the kids as they had just put Koki, their 14-year old dalmation, to sleep the day before. She was definitely a sweet dog and will be missed by all of us. It just so happened that my mom also retired from work the Friday before they put Koki down. She said that made her retirement bittersweet. She said she was happy to now be able to start living her life at her own pace, but would have liked a little more time with her doggy too. One cool thing she shared with us was an award (called a commendation) the city of Santa Barbara bestowed on her for her years of service at the county. This is a new award the county started this year and she is the first person to receive it. The award also contains a letter highlighting some of the reasons my mom was deserving of the honor. We gathered the kids and all the adults and Cathy read the letter aloud so that everyone could hear why mom had been selected. The following are some of the standout passages:

Eliana is the self-proclaimed “spicy” member of the Public Health Human Resources team and her team agrees that she adds “flavor,” enthusiasm and excitement to the daily routine.

Eliana has developed close relationships with many individuals throughout her years of employment by treating everyone with respect and fairness, making each person feel valued, listening with care and compassion; and encouraging others to be the best they can be.

Once Cathy finished reading the award we all applauded. It was a good way to end the month!

More next month…

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