Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

November 30, 2012

November 2012 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 12:59 am

November Highlights:

  • Kids see cousin Rebecca
  • We celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary – here’s a picture of us back in the day to commemorate the occasion
  • Lilah plays In the Hall of the Mountain King, The Blue Danube, & her own composition at piano recital
  • We celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once with Farsh & Mary, and another with my parents and sister
  • I brine and prepare turkey for the first time
  • Luke introduces us to the Shaytards, a daily vlog that chronicles the lives of a zany family of six

A Moment of Parenting Insight

It’s not always easy to do the right thing as a parent, especially when you have a lot of things going on (or you choose to do too many things). Sometimes the easiest thing to do is tell your kids not to ask questions and to just do as you say. Mind you, I am not a strong proponent of that approach as I don’t think there is much creativity in it. Typically, this is the method I use when I don’t want to deal with the problem, but want to stamp out the symptom. My latest dilemma came in the form of Luke burying his nose in my Kindle, but not to do something that I would consider educational (like read). Instead Luke was using my Kindle to watch funny YouTube videos. I told him I didn’t want him sitting around watching videos all day because it wasn’t really a productive use of his time. I also told him I would take the device away if I felt he was getting obsessed with it. I found that I was starting to sound a lot like my dad did when he would get on my case over watching too much TV when I was a kid. That’s when I started to analyze myself. I asked myself questions like “if Luke completed his homework and played his piano, what was wrong with him having a little free time to do his own thing?” It occurred to me that there was nothing inherently wrong with this and perhaps what I didn’t like about Luke watching those videos is that he was often off on his own in his room and not hanging out and doing things with us.

But then it was time to shine the light on myself and the rest of the family. What was I doing? What was Lilah doing? What was Cathy doing? It turns out we were all doing our own version of Luke. I was busy with my computer or watching a Laker game on TV. Lilah was busy texting or taking on the phone with her friends. Cat frequently spent time on the computer as well creating her playlists for her spin classes. And granted, there was a certain amount of that stuff that we all needed to do on our own, but I felt like a pattern was definitely emerging of everyone in the house doing a little too much of their own thing. That’s when I decided to ask Luke what it was that fascinated him so much on YouTube. He said he liked watching this show called The Shaytards that chronicles the daily lives of a really fun family that used to live in Idaho but now lives in LA.

I then asked Luke if he would want to watch the show on the TV with the rest of us. He quickly said yes, jumping at the opportunity to show off his discovery with the rest of us. I was a little nervous at first. What if this show he liked so much was a show he really shouldn’t be watching? What kind of parent was I to allow him to watch this? But it turns out my fears were unfounded. The show is actually great family fun. I think the best way to describe it is to imagine if your dad was super funny man Jim Carrey, or Will Ferrell. Now imagine this dad of yours going out of his way to always do fun things with you and also encouraging you to be a fun and free-spirited person yourself. Then imagine if your mom was a zany and complimentary counterpart, kind of like a Jenny McCarthy from the MTV days (yes I know Carrey/McCarthy situation happened in real life) who also encouraged an atmosphere of fun. The parents on this show are just like that, except a lot more wholesome. The show was created by Shay Carl as a way to document his family life by posting one video per day. He’s been doing the show for four years now and even though Shay can be a little obnoxious at times, his heart seems to always be in the right place. It’s really an excellent example of a family growing and having fun together with plenty of life lessons and family problem solving.

To make a long story short. The show has now given us something that we can “all gather around the fire” to watch before the kids go to bed. The kids absolutely love the show, while mom is a little more on the fence about it even though I often catch her smiling or chuckling about the shenanigans that go on at the Shaytard household. How we got to this balance is also a great reminder to myself not give in to easy solutions when it comes to parenting, but to ask questions of your kids, dig a little into your soul, because you never know when that digging is going to pay off in unexpected but very welcome ways.

My Fall 2012 Suburban Nature Photos

We had some spectacular moments of great lighting this fall. I took the first four photos in the sequence above one day on the way home from work. Granted, I took a rather circuitous route in order to take these shots, but taking the long way home yielded some nice results. I took the last shot in the sequence on a drizzly day — I snapped the shutter just as a drop of water was just about to fall from one of the leaves of our liquid amber tree. Now I need to see if I can get a similar collection of photos in the winter.

Lilah Gets Some Girl Cousin Love

As I’ve mentioned before, one of Lilah’s frequent complaints is that she has no girl cousins her age. A few years ago, however, we introduced Lilah to Rebecca who is Lilah’s second cousin and it’s nice to see that even though Rebecca is about 10 years older than Lilah, she and Lilah get along really well and their relationship continues to grow. Rebecca is one of the sweetest people I know and I’m glad that she’s taken the time to nurture a friendship with Lilah. One cool thing she did this month was give Lilah a bunch of her old clothes and nick knacks. She also picked Lilah up for a day of shopping at the mall followed by a dinner at Red Robin. Needless to say, Lilah couldn’t stop talking about her cousin, how cool she is, and how she just likes to hang out with her. The two of them even exchanged numbers so that they could text each other. I’m very happy for Lilah and am glad that Rebecca is back in town again and so willing to be a mentor and big sister to our daughter. Thanks again Rebecca!

We Brine a Turkey for the First Time Martha Stewart Style

Lilah told us that she didn’t want turkey this year because it’s always dry – Lilah is still a very no holds barred critic. There is some truth to Lilah’s assessment because the last few years we’ve gone away from preparing the whole turkey to just cooking the turkey breast as it helped simplify the Thanksgiving celebration for Cat and myself. For Cat, it was a way to not have to cook so much and for me it was a way to not have to deal with the whole turkey carving issue. Well, this year I decided we were going back to the whole bird. Plus, I also wanted to make sure our turkey was as moist as it could be. That led to me getting a Martha Stewart brining recipe from a friend and all the instructions necessary to deliver a moist flavorful turkey for our annual Thanksgiving meal. I told Cathy that I would take care of the turkey, which consisted of four main steps: 1) preparing the brine (here are recipe and instructions), 2) putting the Turkey into the brine for 24 hours, 3) seasoning the outside of the turkey with butter, salt, and pepper, and inserting rosemary, thyme, sage, apples, and lemon inside the turkey cavity to help with the “aromatics,” (used Alton Brown’s instructions for aromatic mix and roasting) 4) roasting the turkey in the oven to the designated temperature of 165 degrees.

Sure, it took a little bit of work and time, but by breaking up the jobs over the course of two days I was able to make it feel like there wasn’t much labor involved. The kids even got into the spirit of things and asked if they could help. I enlisted their help in preparing the brine which was comical as I had them smell each spice – cumin, allspice, cloves — before they added it to the mixing bowl, which led to scrunched up faces faces of disgust after each smell. I was a little worried at having had them do this because I thought that might psychologically predispose them to not liking the final product, but fortunately that was not the case. The bummer was that Lilah got sick the day before Thanksgiving and thus her appetite wasn’t what it might have been otherwise. Since she was in bed the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I thought for sure she was not going to be able to eat, but much to my surprise she summoned me to her room and asked if I could bring her a small plate of turkey to eat from her bed. As I handed Lilah the plate, I waited for the moment of truth: she took a bite of turkey, looked up at me, and said “Wow!” the best one-word criticism I could have received. If you’re curious, the turkey came out great and very moist!

I still struggled with the turkey carving. No matter how many times I watched Martha Stewart’s turkey carving video, I just couldn’t get it right. The video made it seem so easy, “just look for the joint, then give it an easy cut…” Yeah right, there was nothing easy about it. But hey, that’s what grandmas are for ;-). Thanks for helping out again mom!

Fall Recital

While Lilah got sick for Thanksgiving, Luke got sick a day or two before the piano recital, which meant he was not able to wow the audience with his rendition of Star Wars. Lilah dutifully represented the family however, performing the classic songs In the Hall of the Mountain King, and The Blue Danube. I learned both these songs as well but I couldn’t quite master In the Hall of the Mountain King, the way Lilah did. Her instructor did say that this song was well more advanced than our level one book so I felt good that I was at least able to play it. Lilah also played her own composition, Growing in the Wind, which I really liked. After her performance the initial reaction on her face was one of annoyance, very similar to gymnast McKayla Maroney’s smirk when the mishap on vault cost her the gold medal at the London Olympics. Luckily she let go of her mood pretty quickly. Lilah can be hard on herself sometimes. I barely noticed the missed note and was simply impressed that she was able to play in front of a room of people without freezing up. That’s not easy to do. I mean, I have trouble enough just playing a song in front of the kids or one friend without blowing it, let alone an entire audience. Good job Lilah!

More next month…


  1. Felicidades!! Por tu Familia, por la presentación en el piano de Lilah, por el Pavo que dice tú Papí te queda muy rico. Y muchas Gracias por compartir.Cariños

    Comment by Pamela Luz — December 8, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  2. gracias tia!

    Comment by dave9169 — December 8, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

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