September 2001

Doug, Brad, Kristi and Keith halfway around Lake Poway, Labor Day 2001 We have always struggled with three day weekends.  Neither Kristi nor Keith necessarily want to travel, as we live in very populous Southern California, and we don’t want to fight crowds on roads or at destinations.  Still, by the time the sun sets on Monday, Keith is upset that he hasn’t accomplished 150% more jobs around the house than a normal weekend, and Kristi is frustrated that the weekend didn’t hold anything special.  Lately, however, we’ve been doing better.  This Labor Day weekend we did stay around the house and accomplish things for the first two days, but also did some fun things: Bradley attended his first sleep over birthday party, and Dad and Doug camped out in the backyard.  On Monday, we declared a labor-free day and went for the first time to semi-local Poway Lake, discovering a wonderful recreational resource.  We hiked the nearly 3 miles around the lake, and the boys are insisting we go back to rent boats in the near future.  Doug is also intent on trying out his fishing pool he got for his birthday.
Bennet and Russ Bird listen attentively as Doug holds the Talking Totem.
New beginnings….

Doug and Keith have joined the YMCA’s Indian Guide program.  Understand, this is completely heretical to Keith the Eagle Scout.  But Brad has already skipped Cub Scouts (although Dad still holds out hope for Boy Scouts), so that makes taking the next step away from Scouting orthodoxy and joining a rival organization such as Indian Guides with Doug more palatable.  Actually, Keith would never have entertained the idea if not personally invited by friend Russ Bird to join his neighborhood tribe.  (The last time Russ asked Keith to join an endeavor was not nearly so successful.) So now Doug is Little Palomino and Dad is Gray Mustang, members of the Sioux Tribe of the Black Mountain Nation. This month, the tribe held its first meeting of the fall at the Bird teepee and climbed up Black Mountain.

Brad and his report on Penguins: clay models and a board game Although it officially started last month, school didn’t really get rolling until this month.  Kristi has started her annual work producing the Deer Canyon Elementary Directory, with class listings, addresses, and phone numbers.  Bradley is in a 4/5 combo class (he’s one of the fourth graders) with 32 students. He has one and a half teachers in one and a half classrooms. He has a second, half-time teacher that, when she is in, breaks out either the 4 or 5 graders to a section carved out of the library for them.  Douglas is a beneficiary of California's class size reduction for grades K-3: he is one of only 20 students. He has the same teacher Brad had for first grade (which we are quite glad for as we really like her).  She teaches three days a week and job-shares with another teacher the other two days.  That seems like a lot of tumult for the kids, but the boys have grown accustomed and both seem to be thriving.
What concentration! The weekend after Labor Day was the opening day for Penasquitos Soccer.  Both boys played splendidly, both played goalie the entire first half, and both won their games.  This never happened last year.  (Brad never lost, Doug never won, both teams occasionally tied.)

Doug has discovered a passion for goalie, like his brother.  Although we cringed when he was put in goal (too much tension for Mom), he faired far better than we thought he would.  He did drift too far to the sides at times, but solidly stopped all shots, and wasn't afraid at all.  And most amazingly, he knew exactly what to do once he had the ball: without hesitation, he ran up to the line and threw the ball.  And not down the center.  Very impressive!  Playing other positions requiring running, dribbling, and passing, Doug has advanced remarkably in skill and confidence since last season (although he will never be mistaken for the fastest player on the team).

Brad about tackle Brad played a solid, if not spectacular, first half.  His team’s defense was pretty good, so he was only tested once.  They got a break away on him, one on one, with a kid that was playing competitive soccer last year (i.e. he was good). Brad didn't stay back on his line, but went out to challenge (and cut the angle down), and blocked the shot. But perhaps the most remarkable part of Brad's goalie work was after he had the ball.  All his kicks were long, flat, and down the sidelines. 

Oh, yeah, Bradley scored the first goal of his career (second half, first game, third season). Keith missed it, having taken Doug to his game at another field.  Suddenly, having taken some shots on goal and seeing one find home, Brad is no longer satisfied with playing defender when he’s not in goal.  He wants to be a forward…

Brad rounds first on his way to sliding into second....SAFE! Also starting new this month was Bradley playing off-season baseball.  The Little League and Youth Soccer Leagues each run smaller leagues during the other sport’s main season.  Baseball during soccer season is called "Winterball" (soccer during baseball is called "spring soccer"); the games are on Sunday afternoons and there are no practices during the week.  We as a family have steadfastly stood by the rule "one sport at a time."  Until now.  Brad understands (he says) that Church and Family come first on Sundays, and that he will miss some games.  Brad is a Cub.  Nobody has had the heart to break it to Papa.
Keith readies to crush the ball
With Douglas in school two and a half hours more now in first grade compared to Kindergarten, Kristi really finally does have most of the day to herself now.  She has said she wants to spend some of this new found time developing new interests.  So, she and a friend have started taking tennis lessons one day a week together.  Kristi is quite enjoying the experience, although her body takes a couple of days to snap back.  This was a surprise, given that she works out regularly Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at the gym.

Everybody else is doing sports, so we’d better mention something about Keith’s athletic endeavors.  He is back to playing volleyball twice a week at lunch on the sand court at work.  Somewhere lost in the month was the 6 month anniversary of Keith’s achilles tendon rupture and surgery.  While he can’t say that it’s fully 100% recovered, he can say that it doesn’t hinder him from any thing.  As has been read, he’s playing volleyball, hiking, and biking full speed without regard to his leg.

Doug camping out in the back yard on Labor Day And some anniversaries….

There were more monumental anniversaries this month besides Keith’s achilles: Kristi quit work 5 years ago to become a stay at home mom.  Fifteen years ago, Kristi moved to San Diego to start her working career.  And 20 years ago, Keith came to San Diego to attend the University of California.  While he spent the summers of 82 and 83 back in Los Alamos, let’s just for argument’s sake say he’s lived here for 20 years now.

How the terrorist attacks directly effected this family

Brad delivers speech to school assembly No new or profound thoughts on the attack, but it might be interesting to note direct effects we experienced.

All the fifth graders at Deer Canyon Elementary wrote essays about their feelings in the days after September 11.  Bradley did it as well as a fourth grader in a 4/5 combo class.  He was one of four students asked to read their essays to a school assembly on Friday, the National Day of Remembrance.  It turns out Bradley is gifted public speaker as well as a writer.

Doug's teacher's husband is a firefighter and member of the San Diego Urban Search and Rescue squad. He was dispatched to New York for 2 weeks.  While he was away, Kristi invited her and her two young sons to dinner. And later, when the baby had a cold and couldn't go to daycare, Kristi took care of him all day so she didn't have to get a substitute.

I don't know whether it was kids acting out what they saw, or heightened parental sensitivity (probably both), but the boys seemed to do a lot more playing with plane and fire truck toys with make-believe disasters in the days immediately following.  Dad went in to the toy room and explained how the words "terrorist," "hi-jack," and "suicide" were not appropriate words to use during play time.  After a week, Brad's play went patriotic, and now he makes American flags out of legos, blocks, any medium at his disposal.

Little Palomino and Gray Mustang on top of Black Mountain

Doug practicing bike riding at the cul de sac at top of street.

Overheard lately:
Brad: "I’ll remember this for the rest of my life" after scoring the first goal of his soccer career, in the second half of the first game of his third season.
Doug: "’Drunk’ means you had too much caffeine, right?"
Brad, noticing Mom walking slowly and stiffly hours after tennis, "I’m sure this is how Venus Williams feels after a match."  Kristi replies, "Yes, but she is paid to feel this way, and I’m paying to feel this way, and that just doesn’t make sense."
Keith, on Cal Ripken's Coca Cola ad: "Where's Tony Gwynn's lucrative sponsorship deal?" Brad: "El Cajon Ford, Dad..."

Reading List:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Keith to Doug)
The Hobbit (Keith to Brad)
The Westing Game (Brad)
The Giver (Brad)

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