April 2002

Doug and Friends inside the jumper
Aunt Betty, Brad, Kristi, Keith, Doug at the Padres Game
Doug, backing up at shortstop, celebrates an out at third.

April contains Spring Break, or as we like to call it around here, Kristi's dry run for summer.  It is usually an impossible time for Keith to get much time off from work since it is right before the tax filing crunch of April 15th (although this may change as Keith's new job is less "customer facing" than his old one).  So Kristi gets to practice her summer time "manage-the-kids-all-day-without-killing-them" skills. This year's spring break included a traditional day at the beach and a trip to Knott's Berry Farm to make up for January's aborted trip to California Adventure.
The trip to the beach was one of those bad news, good news situations: the day was heavily overcast and the water pretty cold (neither is atypical for an early April day), but the kids didn't seem to notice (they certainly never complained) and Keith was able to join them for lunch.  This was Bradley's first opportunity to use his fancy new body board he got for Christmas.  Although he enjoys flopping around with it, he hasn't yet discovered the thrill of actually catching breaking waves.  He needs to be a stronger swimmer (the parents' hidden agenda items with the Christmas gift, admittedly).  Doug inherited Brad's $5 garage sale body board and dutifully carried it from the car to the beach and back, but never took it out on the water.  Hasn't got a clue yet on what to do with it; likes the idea that it is his.
Keith usely sneaks one day off work during Spring Break so the family can do some activity together with weekday crowds instead of weekend throngs.  This year we went someplace we'd never been before: Knott's Berry Farm (or as Douglas continually called it, "Berry Knotts Farm").  Knott's has apparently conceded the children's market to Disneyland (although they did have Camp Snoopy), and has been building mostly thrill rides lately to go after the teen market. There were noticably less families than at Disneyland, and more packs of Middle and High Schoolers.    While it wasn't Spring Break for other school districts in San Diego county besides our own, it must have been Spring Break for some districts in Orange or Los Angeles counties, because the park was pretty packed for a Friday.  We saw two other families we knew from Penasquitos, so the idea wasn't as unique as we imagined.  Despite the fact that the boys are definitely not big thrill ride fans, we had a good time, and can see ourselves returning in a couple years as the boys grow more adventurous.
We hadn't even finished recovering from Spring Break when the entire family came down with the stomach flu the following week.  For the first time ever, Kristi actually called Keith to come home from work to pick up the kids because she was too sick.  I don't know how disease works in your household, but in our's it works like dominoes.  Mom usually gets it second, and Dad last.  There was a lot more simultaneity this time than usual: at one point Keith spent the night in a sleeping bag in the hallway so he could jump up and run in either direction to assist either Kristi or the boys from their beds to the toilet.  At least this time when Keith got it last after the others had recovered, he didn't feel so bad about them waiting on him.
Doug had his 7th birthday on April 23rd.  This was the first year all the parents dropped and ran, leaving Keith and Kristi by themselves to manage 8 kids for two hours.  Good thing we had the jumper!  When planning, we had worried that two hours wouldn't be enough; that if you rented a jumper for the whole day, you should have kids over longer.  However, an hour and a half in, with no other parents, we began to feel that perhaps two hours had been too much.  We were very relieved when the parents started trickling back.  It was interesting to note how many of the gifts he received his parents might have had when they were seven: Slip 'n Slide, Battleship, Rock 'em Sock em Robots, Hot Wheels. Everything old is new again.
Aunt Betty joined us for Little League day at a Padres game.  This is one of the best games of the year to attend because you're surrounded by other families from your Little League, and chances go way down that a beer sodden loud mouthed boor shouting obscenities will be in your section.  On the other hand, if there is such a cretin, chances go way up that you know him.
Another rite of April is Intuit's company party to celebrate the end of another tax season.  On the Friday after April 15th, the entire San Diego staff loads into about 15 busses and heads to a site unknown to all but the party planners.  Keith skipped last year's party at the local Dave and Buster's since he was on crutches (so perhaps skipped is an inappropriate verb).  This year the busses deposited us at San Diego's Mission Bay, where in addition to the traditional activities of volleyball, samuri wrestling, and beer drinking, there were water sports like paddle boats, kayaking, and sailing.  New this year to the corporate catering games was a surfing simulator, which is clearly the Sourthern Californian equivalent of the old 1980's mechanical bull.
Brad was one of two students from his class that made the school spelling bee.  He continues to surprise and delight his parents by qualifying for academic competitions.  This was more of a surprise than most as spelling is not a recognized strength and he didn't make it as a third grader.  His goal was to "not embarass myself" and make it through the first round (i.e. get at least one right).  Unfortunately, he drew position 18 out of 18, and the words got progressively harder.  He got the toughest word of the first round, "bleach," and spelled it with two e's.  As with all things, his parents think he's better off for the experience, even if it didn't end as hoped.
Brad and Doug continued baseball .  Doug has become quite a hitter, while improving his defense.  While hits are routine, outs are still rare (but becoming less so) and can cause quite a stir.  Ground outs that require one boy to field, throw, and have another boy cover the base and catch the ball, are the sweetest of all.  Doug has taken after his brother and decided he too likes playing catcher, although there is no stealing like in Brad's league, so the job isn't as demanding.  Maybe it's just all the cool gear you get to put on.  We'll see what he thinks next year when he has to wear a cup.       
Brad is taking the Pastor's class at church in preparation for Baptism.  This class replaces the normal 5th grade Sunday School class that Keith teaches and runs from the week after Easter through Pentacost.  It was taught by the Senior Minister, with Keith assisting.  Brad is just a 4th grader, but is ready for Baptism, so he took the class.  This gave Keith a sneak preview of what having Brad in class next year will be like, as well as gaining empathy with Brad's current school teachers.  The class included a sleep over in the church chapel with the minister and his wife (one of the fifth graders is their daughter).  Keith didn't sleep over, but did participate in the evening, and returned the next morning with breakfast for everyone.
Doug can't be bothered to become proficient at bike riding, so when it comes time to explore the area, Keith and Doug hike where Keith and Brad biked .  We don't make it quite as far on foot, but we do pretty well.  It goes slower not just because walking is slower than biking, but because you see so much more.  Or rather, it's so much easier to stop and investigate any little distraction.  It won't be too long before houses will completely encircle us and we'll have to drive to hike in undeveloped land.

They Read It:
Keith to Brad: The Fellowship of the Ring (six months in the reading); The Two Towers was immediately started in hopes of having it done by the movie release in December.  

Text and Pictures Copyright © 2002 Keith Sherwood - All Rights Reserved