Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer 2017 Recap

 The most common question I get asked is, "How was your summer? ".   The obvious response for someone who gets to take that time off with their kids is always a re-sounding "wonderful".   There's no denying it. Summer really was and continues to be full of all of our favorite things. Swimming, Giant's games, fishing, hiking, baseball, enjoying a new pool, late nights, and time with friends.

This summer we were blessed with a lot of time with family around the Fourth of July. All of our southern California cousins came for close to a week. Between giving pedicures to great-grandmothers, hiking in to Mountain Lakes, and running the streets of Mount Shasta, it was a terrific week.

 I also had the privilege of taking the boys up to Eugene, Oregon for an Oregon Ducks baseball camp. The boys learned a tremendous amount about fundamentals and drills. They had full access to the college baseball facilities. It was 9 to 5 baseball and they completely ate it up.   Meanwhile, I was able to take advantage of the many running trails around the town and had lunches by myself.   After the last day of camp the boys and I toured the college and checked out the many opportunities. It is Bradley and my goal that any time we go to a new city we tried to get the boys on a college campus.

 The boys also participated in swim team this summer. They awoke each morning, did their chores, 30 minutes out of school work, and then we headed off for an hour of conditioning. They were only able to participate in one meet which was our county meet and they both took High Point places in their age group. I was so thankful for the time that they were able to spend in the pool each day learning new strokes.   Their hard work paid off and on the evening of my birthday they both came home with trophies.

 That night marked a turning point in our summer. Bradley's grandma Cora has been in the hospital and then under hospice care since that time. The silver lining is all of the time that we have spent with family over the last month. She is regaining her strength and just today ate some homemade tomato soup that I made last night from the bounty of our garden.  At 87 years young, she has amazed all of us with her tenacity and strength.

 In the midst of the summer Bradley has also been dealing with severe back pain caused by a torn disc in his back. He went ahead and had the injections which did not do anything for him. Recently, he was seen by a local physical therapist and masseuse. He experienced the first relief he has had in months and I can't tell you what joy it was brought to our family to see him without pain.   Even in the midst of his physical struggle, he has managed to take the boys fishing quite a few times and even a 9 mile hike and a summit of Black Butte hike. His dedication to his family and his job is remarkable.

 As I dictate this blog into my phone sitting by our pool, ashes falling out of the sky on to me. Fires are burning near us, temperatures are high, and air quality is poor. All of those fire camps make a lot of waste and on top of managing a growing business Bradley is also working  to service those camps.

 The start of the school year was last week. Both boys have taken to the adjustment of school life again very well. Their alarm goes off, chores are done, breakfast is eaten and off to school they go with dad.   Our school is full as enrollment is high, and this is very exciting for our community.  The boys and I went to visit grandma today, and our school viewing the eclipse and receiving a grant made the front page of the local paper the first day. She remarked on this news with each visitor that came. With all of the stress of daily life, it really is important to realize that  when we leave this life all that we will have left behind that matters is our family.

Here's to another year of learning, another season of change, and hopefully less ash in the air.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Who does the world revolve around?

A lot has happened in the last two months.  We made it through baseball season, Miles graduated from Kindergarten, Carter got promoted to the third grade and mom renewed her contract for her 4th year as principal.  Miles's "graduation" from Kindergarten was recently validated based on a conversation in our car.  I was in the middle of ending a conversation on my car phone, and Carter immediately asked that we listen to Journey on Pandora.  Frustrated, I replied to his request by saying "Carter, the world does not revolve around you."  Miles promptly replied, "Yeah, Carter.  The world revolves around the sun."   Looks like those new NGSS standards are really impacting the education of our youth.  I still get confused on what revolves around what.  Either way, it was a good laugh and reminder of what really matters.
Unfortunately, in preparing the pool room to house all sorts of lovely drinks and ice cream bars by positioning a refrigerator, Bradley tore a disc in his back.  It's been a slow healing process, but after a week flat on his back or with a walker, we're calling each new task a win.  The world did revolve around his needs for a week or so and we are so incredibly thankful that he's recovering!

 Sadly, Bradley was supposed to be joining Joy on the 200 some odd mile running trek from Southern Oregon to the coast, but the back injury prevented him from joining in the fun.  Mom logged over 27 miles in 35 hours and Bradley was able to join the Hiltons in the mountains for a trek into a lake for some Father's Day fishing.

We recently spent a weekend in San Francisco as a family.  After a wedding on the way down, we arrived in the city late on a Friday night.  We had purchased owner tickets for Saturday's game as a fundraiser for our local Booster Club and decided to sit in the bleachers for the Sunday game.  Little did we know that it was also "Pride" weekend in San Francisco.  An additional million people in the city and a lot of cultural flavor made for some interesting conversations.  In the city, it really does feel like everyone knows the world revolves around them.  Nice guys do finish last.

We arrived early in line for Sunday's game.  We wanted the world to revolve around us and decisively ran fast, passing up other fans up the levels in order to score tickets for autograph day.  Both boys had their MLB baseball and mom supplied Sharpie and patiently waited in line.  Sam Dyson, number 49 relief pitcher was on duty, and both boys got his autograph.  Following the game the boys got to run the bases.  What a thrill!!  They even managed to scoop some of the infield dirt into their pockets and I added it to the bottom of the cases for their signed balls.  We ate a lot of great food, enjoyed all that AT&T has to offer, cheered on our Giants and just enjoyed each other.

Both boys are doing swim team this summer and it's been a great way to keep a routine during the summer and get some exercise.  They recently completed their first lap-a-thon.  Miles had a goal of 10 and Carter of 50.  They completed 69 and 100 laps respectively.  The boys have also been doing a great job of following Captain Super Bulldog's recommendations to do 30 minutes of math or reading each day.

We are trying to breathe in everything that summer has to offer us.  Our pool has been an amazing addition to each day and is a total mental game changer in the heat.  We hope that summer is truly never ending.  The long days and late nights seem to fly by despite the speed that the earth does revolve around the sun.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Riding the Mexican Wave

We recently returned from a week in Mexico relaxing with family.  Bradley's sister, brother-in-law, and our niece and nephew all travelled and stayed together in a Villa in Cabo San Lucas.  We drank way too much beer and not enough water.  The adults relaxed on the beach for hours while the kids swam.  We laughed, ate, and just simply enjoyed every moment.  Well, not every moment.  There was the night that Mexican gut hit four family members.  I may or may not have forced the boys and Mason to ride a "banana tube"  going 40 mph in the ocean.  I'm just glad we are all still alive.  Seriously.  There were also a few scary taxi rides.  Carter managed to hook a Swordfish in the Sea of Cortez, but the fish got off at the boat.  I'd say that was the biggest disappointment.  Pretty blessed that we can say that being on a boat in the Sea of Cortez with your family was slightly disappointing because you didn't catch any fish.  We spun it the other way and just realized we need to come back.  In fact, we have to come back to the Giggling Marlin because Miles made such an impression with his dance moves that by the third night we came back, I'm pretty sure our beer was free.  In fact, we got two free buckets of beer because I won a musical chair contest and another table of Scott Valley folks was there to cheer me on.  The contest ended in a race so I knew I had it in the bag.

 Even while on vacation the boys got to show off their awesome math skills.  Each day we were offered everything from cigars to illegal drugs, to Mexican bracelets, Mangoes on a stick, and even donuts.  Yes, who wouldn't want a cream filled donut at 2pm in the afternoon in eighty degree weather?  Our kids did of course.  Carter asked how much, the woman replied that the donuts were two dollars each.  The woman continued on.  The other kids stated they wanted a donut.  I told Carter to "run down and ask her how much for two donuts."  He ran about 10 yards, abruptly turned around and stated "It would be $4 mom?!?".  Great.  So happy that you are quick with the number sense kid.  Not so great with the common sense.
 Pretty rough to be Miles.
 Great food and off the beaten path.
 After three trips to Cabo Bradley finally took me to the arch.

 Swordfish on!
 Hours and hours and hours of this.
 Last night and Shelby's birthday.  Special restaurant on the beach.

The week ended too soon, but we have tried to ride that Mexico wave of relaxation and zen mentality for all it's worth.  Upon return it's been back to baseball four nights a week, outside projects, preparing for two kids in the talent show, and the end of the school year.  Bradley and his dad are coaching Carter's Little League team and watching the games has easily become the highlight of my week.  Miles plays farm league and I'd be lying if I said that those games were the highlight.  They are actually fun, but just in a "there aren't any rules and every kids runs around the bases, and only adults pitch" kind of fun.  The most exciting part is that Miles is truly beginning to love and understand the sport.  In fact, as I type this the boys are out playing a game of ball in the backyard.  Together.  Having fun.  Not arguing.  Perhaps it's just that wave of Mexican relaxation.

Miles turned six years old on April 18th.
 I made him birthday pancakes with sprinkles and Ms. Shelley delivered cupcakes to school.   That weekend we took eight of his Kindergarten friends to a local "paint your pottery" shop.  A few phosphates and chocolate cupcakes later and we were ready for some games of pinball before pizza.  Miles tore through every change container in the house and came up with a half gallon ziploc of quarters.  Those quarter didn't last ten minutes in the pizza place.  So much for the Mexican wave of relaxation.

True to tradition, here are his answers for his 6th birthday:

What is your name?  Miles
What is your favorite color?  Blue
What do you want to be when you grow up? Artist
Who is your best friend? Tinley and Carter
What is your favorite food?  Sticky Rice
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play Sorry with the family.
Who is your favorite animal?  Zebra
What is one thing you don't like?  Salad
What can you do now that you are six years old?  Ride a brand new bike on cement.  Clean the chicken coop.
What was your favorite part of your birthday? Painting
Where do you like to go to eat?  Three Little Birds

Yesterday our family all ran at local run benefitting the Wildland Firefighters Association.  I ran the 1/2 marathon, Bradley ran (placed second overall) in the 10K and both boys did the 5K.  Miles and I stayed true to keeping up with that wave of relaxation by taking a three hour nap in the afternoon.  Carter mourned the Giants loss and Bradley worked on projects.  Today marked the day we took the winter cover off of the pool and worked hard to ready the outside for summer.  Here's to the end of the school year, to baseball, and to a summer of enjoying the pool and riding that Mexican wave for all it's worth.