April means Spring Break, Doug's
Birthday and, very often, Easter. Easter was a little different
this year, and Spring Break was completely different.
After weeks of training, months
of Bike Club, and literally years of anticipation, Brad spent
Spring Break on the fifth grade Ride Across California. Keith
went along, well, for the ride. Kristi and Doug dropped them off,
went out to visit them en route one night, and went to pick them up, but
otherwise had a rare week to themselves without Brad and Dad's interference.
A 7 day, 6 night, 260 mile Odyssey can't be constrained to just a single
paragraph or a picture or two on this page, so
the adventure is described separately.
Because days of rest are for
wimps, the day after completing the Ride Across California,
we went to Little League day at the baseball stadium. This
year the Rancho Penasquitos Little League eschewed the Padres
and chose instead to participate in the Anaheim Angels’ Little League
day. Now Mom and Dad are wimps, and they tried to
convince the boys weeks earlier that going to Anaheim the day after
the bike ride was a bad idea, but the kids prevailed. And a good
thing, too, because we had a great time. And saw at least two
other parents and boys that went on the Bike Ride, so we weren't the
only crazy ones. The kids got thunder sticks (those inflatable tubes
you bang together) while the adults got thunder stick induced headaches.
also got close to two balls, which is two more than he’s ever
gotten close to before. One was a homerun ball that landed
across the aisle and one row down. Keith was literally within
an arm’s length of the ball when he stopped scrambling for it
since it was underneath a child’s seat, and therefore obviously
his. Another adult had no such compunction, however, and dove
right in, swatting Little Leaguers aside, and emerged with his inglorious
trophy. The second ball was a third out ball tossed into the crowd by
the retiring outfielder. This ball actually landed in Keith’s
outstretched hand, but he failed to time his clinch, so the ball ricocheted
around until the girl behind Keith eventually ended up with it.
Doug's eighth birthday was April 23rd. Because
Brad likes it when Kristi makes "Happy Birthday" signs for him, he
has taken up the tradition for his brother. This year a couple
were hidden like Easter eggs. Brad was particularly pleased and
Doug particularly surprised when he found the one on the right.
For his birthday party this year, Doug chose to
have a baseball party on a local park ball field. You would think that
an old fashioned party at the park would be less expensive and less
organization than an "event" party at the bowling alley or rock climbing
gym. But considering the grocery store catered chicken tray and
carrying everything from the car around the locked fence, it was neither!
Still, it was a lot of fun, and worth it. We split into two
teams with Keith all time pitcher and a little parent help in the out
field. We played an inning and then ate, then played an inning and
had a water balloon toss, then played an inning and... It was especially
fun because while half the kids played Little League, the other half didn't,
and so this was their first opportunity to play a quasi-organized game of
baseball in forever.
This Easter we had the usual kite flying picnic with
the Kristi's brother's wife's family, but we switched from the bay to
a park near their home. No matter, the weather still cooperated and
the crowds were still large. Keith and the boys ended up playing
"pick up softball" with another group there.
Everybody has their volunteer
positions at church: Keith is vice chair of the Board, Sunday
School Teacher, member Pastoral Relations Committee, and Deacon;
Kristi is in charge of Wednesday night dinners for 30, nursery
volunteer, communion tray provisioner, and Deacon; and Brad is nursery
volunteer and acolyte. So everybody but Douglas. Until
now. Doug has been trained and accepted the position of acolyte.
Doug's first scheduled rotation came with his brother, something
we're sure the scheduler will repeat since it makes the congregation
sigh with recognition and then compliment the boy's parents.
Each boy had a project due this month. Doug
made a pinewood derby car for Indian Guides. Last year, our first,
Keith did the vast majority of work (including making Doug cry when Keith
wouldn't let him spray paint the car because he might make drips in the
finish). This year Keith was determined to only help, not do. Turns
out Doug was just as determined to do, and not watch. We picked a very
simple design, and Doug learned about coping saw, file, and sanding. He
did the glueing and the painting. The only thing Keith still insisted
on doing was melting the lead and pouring it into the hollowed out bottom.
The results were a car Doug could proudly call his own, and a quick
exit when the race-off began.
Brad's April class assignment was to spend a million
dollars. More precisely, they had to come up with a "million dollar
project" and make a poster board presentation. Brad chose to build
a ball park with Little League dimensions but minor league amenities.
He did extensive Internet research costing out concrete, sod, seats,
all the way down to chalk, bases and turnstiles! As is always the
case with Brad, once his imagination caught fire, he couldn't be stopped.
Mom helped him construct a poster board that was "a feast for the
Brad's baseball team was not very
good in March and half of April. Although they had good
pitching, they weren't hitting and they were making lots of errors
fielding. But midway through April they began coming together
as a team and playing some very fine baseball. Brad still
struggles at the plate against curve balls, and he's lost his favorite
in field position. But he's doing a fine job catching and
is an outstanding left fielder
, making excellent catches and throws, but most
importantly displaying his sense of baseball geometry (reading
the speed and direction of the hit ball and knowing where to go
to intercept it) that has always set him apart.
None of the 8 year olds on Doug's
team have developed a sense of geometry yet . But the
manager and I are very excited about the level of play the kids
are giving us. The team hasn't reached the fielding plateau
of making 18 outs (3 outs in all 6 innings) but we've gotten very
close. I'd also like to see the kids get a "true" double
play (short to second to first) as opposed to the "catch the ball
and double up the runner" double play. Doug continues to be a strong
pull hitter and his fielding is definitely improving. He and
his brother have occasionally been sighted playing catch, which will
improve his skills a lot more than the fantasy whiffle ball games
he and his brother are so found of.
won't see very many pictures of Doug because Keith's busy
coaching. When we're batting, that means that he is feeding
the pitching machine and being the on field umpire for the game.
The last weekend in the month we started
training the next generation for the ride across California.
Doug has just three years, and he’d better start preparing now.
He is not an accomplished bike rider. In fact, he is just short
of passable. He didn’t go to a friend’s birthday party a couple
of months back because it was a bike party at a BMX track.
He’s never found it enjoyable, and like his brother, has an aversion
to practicing. So his bike has gathered dust for two years.
But no longer.
Instead of saying we’d ride to the ice cream store
when he practiced and got better, Keith just took him on the
mile ride to the ice cream store. This was huge, as he had never
been more than a 100 yards away from the house before. But like
the Pinewood Derby car, Doug got determined, and with a clear goal
and reward, did a great job.
Take Our Kids to Work day occured the day after Doug's
Birthday. He was old enough by a day to attend, but didn't so that Brad could
go to his first ever by himself. Last year Brad lost the privledge
at the last moment, and the year before that Intuit didn't have one, and
the year before that Intuit had a really good one but Brad wasn't old enough.
So he'd been looking forward to going to Dad's work for years. He
had a good time; Intuit does a really good job with activities for the kids,
and I lined up a special tour for us of the server lab where Intuit has its
hundreds of World Wide Web computers. Keith remembers very fondly the Open
Houses they would have at Los Alamos National Laboratory when his father would
show the family around work. Kristi, on the other hand, found little
joy in being forced to go to her father's work (the fields) and "walk beans"
(pull weeds from among the soybeans).
Puppy Chronicles :
is shedding. Hair everywhere. We knew it would
be like this. Doesn’t make it easier to keep the house
has expanded her domain to the entire down stairs. Like any
child she just keeps pushing (in this case, keep going into the
living room and dining rooms) until the parent tires of correcting.
So she’s added the kitchen and living room to the rooms she’s allowed
into. Put we’re drawing the line at the stairs and the upstairs.
She’s become an excellent walker. She doesn’t
pull on the leash much any more, but matches your pace.
For Easter, we gave her an old stuffed Easter bunny we had in
the decorations box. She loved it. Would chew on it
for hours. Eventually she tore it open and we had to throw it
Dancer does not particularly care for Bradley’s
trumpet playing. In fact, it has been known to send her
into barking hysterics. She nips at Brad and his trumpet,
barks, tries to grab at his music and steal it. The boys
find great sport in her torment.
They Said It:
Kristi, upon watching the baseball thrown into
the crowd bounce off first Keith (the coach) and than the manager of
Doug’s baseball team: “I guess that’s why you guys coach and don’t play.”
Doug: “It’s a good thing beer doesn’t taste
like root beer or I’d be an alcoholic."
Related web sites:
Keith's Pictures of Bike Club rides