The Sherwoods made a lightning trip to Los Alamos the first week of the
New Year. On New Year’s morning, a Tuesday, we had breakfast with
Kristi’s parents here in San Diego (they didn’t head back to Illinois until
the 2nd), that night we spent in Flagstaff, AZ. The next three nights
we were in Los Alamos with Keith's mom, before returning (via Phoenix Saturday
night) Sunday afternoon, in time for school and work on Monday morning.
We had a wonderful time. We did all the
, plus a few out of the ordinary things. Nana took the boys to the
animal shelter to help pick out a new cat. While exposing our children
to things we did as youths is often nostalgic and fun, we could have done
without a trip to the Los Alamos Medical Center. But Douglas had developed
red splotches the day we left, and a trip to the pediatric ward confirmed
a case of fifth disease. Benign.
the boys were really looking forward to, however, was snow. They
were so excited the first night in Flagstaff, playing in twice melted and
refrozen gray drifts in parking lots. Not for the last time their parents
were reminded how little exposure to snow the boys have had growing up in
San Diego. When we got up the next morning to find the car windshield covered
with ice and realized we had no ice scraper, the parents were reminded they
hadn't been exposed to the reality of cold weather either for 15 years.
From an everybody-getting-along-in-the-car standpoint, this was the most
successful car trip ever. Yes, we resorted to electronic mesmerizers GameBoy
and CD player. But there was also train spotting, state license plate
collecting, alphabet game playing, and a general absence of “Are we there
yet,” “I’m so bored,” and “I have to go to the bathroom.” All in all,
it was a pleasure to travel together, which is a good omen for the 3000 mile
car trip we have planned for this summer.
The San Diego County School Geography Olympiad was held January 14th.
Bradley made his school’s team again this year, and has been staying after
school for team practices once or twice a week for a couple of months.
Kristi goes most times to help quiz kids. She also bakes tons for
the obligatory bake sale fund raisers. This being her second year,
she took on ordering the trophies. She’s in danger of being drafted
to run/coordinate the whole effort next year, a move she is so far resisting.
Last year the school team got first overall, but Brad didn’t get any ribbons.
This year the school earned third spot overall, and Brad’s teams got two
first place ribbons, including first in the premier event, “Geobowl” (i.e.
college bowl, similar to Jeopardy). Some example Geobowl questions
that Brad answered: “This state is the fourth largest state and home of
Glacier National Park.” “The Great Salt Lake is saltier than the ocean.
Name two lakes in California that are more saline than the ocean.” “This
state capital is the largest French built city in the US.” (Answers:
Montana, Mono Lake and Salton Sea, and Pierre, ND.)
The Indian Guides event for January was the Pinewood Derby. This
held great interest for Keith, since he participated in 3 Pinewood Derbies
in his youth in Cub Scouts. His two second place trophies (1973,
1974) are proudly displayed even now in the family room. Keith can
still readily remember building those cars with his dad, especially pouring
the molten lead into cavities in the car. Doug, at 6 ½ years
old, is considerably younger than Keith was. That, combined with
Keith’s enthusiasm for the project, gave credence to the old Pinewood Derby
adage (that I just made up) that “the first one is always for Dad.”
Since Doug had neither the interest nor stamina (Keith spent multiple hours
sanding by hand with extra fine sandpaper) for the project as his dad envisioned
it, the compromise was struck that Doug would participate in each step (sawing,
sanding, masking, painting, decaling) as much or as long as he could stand
(or his dad would let him). A few tears were shed at spray painting
time, which is something Doug really wanted to do, but Dad wouldn’t let
him do much since he couldn’t spray evenly and without splatter. Although
Mom had reservations, everyone enjoyed the spectacle of melting fishing
weights on the stove and pouring the molten
lead into the car.
After The Build Process, the Race itself was rather anticlimactic. Doug
got second place in the tribe (twelve boys/cars), so honor and tradition
were served. Doug's car was quickly eliminated from the playoffs, so there's
room for improvement for next year.
sooner was one craft project complete than another begun. In California,
state history is taught in fourth grade. The two highlights of the fourth
grade year are the end of school field trip to the state capital, Sacramento,
and the build a model of a California Mission project. Every California
fourth grader builds some sort of a Mission model. I didn't fully
appreciate the implications of such a state-wide fiat until I discovered there
were actually mission kits for sale at the area arts and crafts stores. We
quickly purchased such a model, realizing Brad's grand but unfocused plan
for building out of clay was a blueprint for family strife.
As with earlier social studies projects this year (local Indian diary and
poster, detailed California map), Bradley really got enthralled once he got
rolling. As with all projects, Dad couldn't let any teaching moment
go untaught, showing Bradley that two coats of paint looked better than one
and that paint brushes must be washed after every use. Bradley's enthusiasm
steadily increased for the project, although it's difficult to tell if it
was proportional to how recognizable the model was as the mission San Luis
Obispo, or inversely proportional to the amount of instruction he received
from his father.
In the end, he didn't receive maximum marks (apparently you have to create
from scratch for that), but the real goal of learning about the mission was
accomplished, and the secondary goal of discovering the fun of modeling was
achieved with much less stress than attempting something from scratch. In
fact, his ownership and pride in the model are enough that he won't let it
be thrown away, but insists that it be stored in the copious free space in
has become family tradition to take a day trip at the end of January. The
kids have a day off from school for Teacher growth day, and Keith trades his
Martin Luther King Jr holiday at work for this Friday. Last year we went to
Disneyland. This year we were going to go to the new adjacent theme
park, California Adventure. But when the morning arrived, we woke up
to that most shocking and rare of southern Californian events, a thunderstorm.
Figuring we didn't want to go in the rain (or fight the rain snarled
traffic), we scratched our plans. When the rain broke up, we decided
to make the best of it and go miniature golfing instead.
the original plan had to been avoid the crowds, it worked. No one else
seemed to interested in going to the Family Fun Center at 11:00 am on a cold,
blustery Friday. The astro turf carpeting on the golf course were soaked,
and several holes were filled with water. We gave the kids some quarters
to plug into arcade games (nearly as rare as a Southern Californian rainstorm)
then went out to lunch.
They Said It:
a TV commercial for the musical "Tommy": "The Who Tommy? Is that from
Kristi, upon driving past the restaurant with the
windmill out front: "Look, See Poop Anderson's."
Doug, exploring the motel room and discovering Gideon's
Bible: "Look, it comes with a book!"
They Read It:
Keith to Doug: The Indian in the Cupboard
Brad: Books 1 & 2 in Seventh Tower Series