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The last several years, August has traditionally held four constants: the start of soccer season, Life Enrichment Week at church (a.k.a. Summer Bible School), our anniversary, and the start of school, in roughly that order.  This year, however, both boys decided to hang up their soccer cleats.  While it was sad to reach the end of a childhood era, to be honest Keith and Kristi saw a lot of upside in having fall Saturdays and evenings free for the first time in several years.
Life Enrichment Week is Torrey Pines Christian Church's summer Bible School program.  It occurs in the evening, and has unrelated programs for children, youth, and adults.  For the past several years Keith and Kristi have been adult volunteers working with the oldest children, third through fifth graders (the same ages as Keith's Sunday School class).  Doug was in our group, while Brad graduated to the Youth program.  The Youth mixed fun (beach bon fire) with service (making sandwiches and then handing them out to the homeless downtown).
Inspired by his photo journalistic successes on the Ride Across California and the Star of India field trip, Keith sort of resigned his position with the group (after making sure Kristi had plenty of other adult helpers, of course) and just flit about taking pictures as the different age groups moved between stations each night.  
Not all activity for the boys this summer was parent sponsored.  The boys went camping locally with next door neighbors the Ayers in their fifth wheel camper (coincidentally, on our anniversary weekend, allowing the happy couple a night on the town alone).  Brad went on several adventures with the youth group at church, including a day at the water park and another at the beach.  There Brad even tried his hand (or feet) at surfing, something his father has never managed to try in 20 years in San Diego.
Doug has spent 4 solid weeks in swim lessons at the YMCA this July and August.  At July’s beach camp out , for the first time he held his breath underwater naturally, without thinking about it.  This then allowed him to discover that playing in the water was in fact more fun than frightening.  So the time was right, and Kristi made it happen.  He did very well, and is now much more comfortable and confident in the water.  And still having fun.
Both boys completed summer league basketball this month.  Doug’s team was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Brad’s team went to the championship game, where they came up just short.  In two seasons of basketball, Brad has enjoyed remarkable success, with his teams getting first and second in the playoffs.
Brad received two athletic complements this month.  An old soccer coach that we saw during basketball invited Brad to come try out for one of the competitive soccer teams that needed a goalie.  That was declined, and our autumn Saturdays were free once again.  But then Brad's basketball coach suggested Brad try out for a competitive basketball team.  Brad's love had always been baseball, but competitive baseball in the summer had never been an option since family vacations are sacrosanct.  Now suddenly it was suggested he try out for competitive teams for two other sports.
Fired by the love of a game he had started playing less than a year before, Brad decided the basketball try outs were something he'd like to experience. Thus it was that the Sherwoods, fixtures on the Penasquitos Recreational Sport scene, showed up at their first competitive sport try out.  On the drive to the try outs, Dad couldn't even get out the "do your best and enjoy yourself" motivational speech before Brad showed his well balanced temperament by stating, "I'm just going to have fun since this is my first time."  At that point Keith was impressed and pleased regardless of how the actual tryouts went.
Kristi did an exceptional job of keeping the boys busy this summer.  It started with the goal (since accomplished) of getting the boys to the beach at least once a week.  Doug bought his own body board after discovering he liked it so much at the beach camp out last month.  Build beach excursions around trips to the Bigelow’s new backyard pool, going to visit Betty, outings to parks with the Bigelows and Fabijanics, and sleep overs, plus the occasional special (i.e. something that costs money) like bowling, a movie, or Belmont Park, and you have a fun packed summer. The true test: Mom and Dad don’t every recall hearing the dreaded “I’m bored” this summer.  Kristi worked hard at it, and it worked.  Each boy cherished the individual day she spent with just him as they bought school supplies and clothes together because she presented it as a day of the two of them together.
That said, there is no one happier than Kristi that school started again August 25th.  Doug is starting 3rd grade with a teacher and principal new this year to our elementary school.  He likes his teacher, and so do his parents, so we’re off to a good start.  Third grade is remembered as the first really fun year for Brad with projects and field trips.  California budget cuts to schools permitting, we hope to have more to report on Doug in school this year.
Brad has started 6th grade at Mesa Verde Middle School.  Both he and his parents were looking forward to his transition to middle school with a combination of fear and anticipation.  The first week has been great, with Brad enjoying every class but band.  Both Brad’s Home Room teacher and Doug’s teacher have called to introduce themselves, so we’re favorably impressed with both and their communication skills.  We look forward to learning more at each boy’s Back To School Night.
Well before school started, Kristi already began putting in long hours this month on the Mesa Verde school directory.  She’s done the Deer Canyon elementary for four years, and was talked into doing the middle school directory this year too.  She correctly determined she needs to get well along into the 1200 student middle school directory before even beginning the 500 student elementary directory.  These projects (and specifically the time Kristi spends on the computer to accomplish them) have created a new problem not previously experienced in the Sherwood household: computer contention between Kristi and Keith, who spends more hours on the computer processing digital pictures and creating VirtualSherwoods than the modest website would indicate.
Great Aunt Betty Sherwood Kinney, who had lived at her home in San Marcos last month with live-in help from friends, moved this month to an "assisted living" complex in Carlsbad.  She hasn't regained enough strength and mobility on her left side since her stroke in May to be able to take care of herself.  The facility is very close to the home of her step daughter Susan Middleton (who has done all the hard work in getting Betty situated).  Keith tried to make it up to visit twice a week during lunch hour.  The whole family made it up a couple of times, including for the monthly open house.  This month's theme was luau.
The month concluded with a family camping trip, but since it occurred over Labor Day weekend, I'll leave it until next month.

They Read It:
With school back in session, there is hope this popular feature can be revived. In the mean time, here's what we've been reading this summer:
Keith: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Church on the Other Side
Keith to Doug: The Hobbit (only took us 10 months)
Kristi: Seabiscuit
Brad: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

They Said It:
Brad flipping channels on the car radio, finally finds a station he likes: “Cool! Oldies!”  It was an Eighties station.
Doug, contemplating the passage of time: "Labor Day, then Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  Boy, my life is going fast.  One day I'm 8 and going to school, the next thing you know I'll be 21."
Brad on returning to school and having to think and calculate again: "I think I'm finally losing my summer brain."

Related Web Sites:
Life Enrichment Week Photo Album


Text and Pictures Copyright © 2003 Keith Sherwood - All Rights Reserved
Questions or comments? Write keith at virtualsherwoods dot com .