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Doug and Keith went on a New Year’s Day hike to explore the next section of freeway they are putting in towards the coast.  Always a good hike when you can climb on idle earth movers.  On the last Sunday of the month Keith explored it again on his mountain bike, and confirmed his suspicion that the freeway has been graded far enough west to connect to an east-west bike path that in turn can be exited to surface streets in Del Mar.  He came up a bike path exit and a couple miles short from realizing his long term dream of riding from Pipestone to the Pacific.  Next bike ride he’s confident he can make it.  Hopefully Brad will come too: it’s a couple miles further than the deli ride, probably close to 20 miles round trip.
Speaking of the Deli Ride, we had another on Martin Luther King Jr. day.  Another fully organized Deer Canyon elementary event, not one of Keith’s freelance jobs.  On Friday's in January, the Bike Club went to Miramar Lake.  Brad made it to one lake circumnavigation.  Keith has shown him how few weekends remain before Spring Break in April, and urged Brad to come on more free-form training rides with him on weekends, thus far to no avail.  
The big event in January for both Brad and Kristi was the San Diego County Schools Tenth Annual Geography Olympiad.  Both had been working hard for two months preparing: Brad as the “brain” expected to carry the team, and Kristi as one of two parent coordinators in charge of everything from twice weekly after school practices to day of logistics like snacks and permission slips. Both felt the heavy burden of responsibility and expectations as Deer Canyon Elementary is a recognized power house, finishing first and third the last two years. They both did great: the day went off without a hitch.  Deer Canyon took third place overall. 
The Olympiad is held at a local junior college (a location that the now jaded 5th grade Brad doesn't find as exciting as he did two years ago).  It consists of a dozen different events, with a team of 3 or 4 students in each event. Brad’s teams placed third () and won the two prestige events, Geobowl (Jeopardy) and Superstars (essentially, a geography test administered to individuals, then summed over the team).  The Geobowl finals were between Deer Canyon and their arch rivals, Del Mar Highlands (another traditional powerhouse, which would take second place over all), so it was an especially sweet victory.   The most exciting event of the day was the semi finals of Geobowl which ended in a tie.  It would be decided by a single toss up question: buzz in first and get it right, you win; buzz in first and get it wrong, you lose.  Don't buzz in and let the other team control your fate. Proctor: “Yellowstone and the Grand Tettens (sic) are-“ BUZZZ. The proctor stops, not finishing the question.  Dead silence around the room as we look to the indicator lights to see who has buzzed in before the question finished. Brad’s light is on.  “Wyoming,” says Brad, a statement not a question. The Proctor pauses for effect.  “You are correct.”  Wild cheers erupt from the audience, and Keith forgives Brad for not knowing the Mason-Dixon line earlier in the contest.
As usual, Brad’s birthday party got pushed from December into January.  This isn’t just a convenience for the parents who have completely booked every waking moment of the Christmas season between Thanksgiving and New Years, but it’s also a necessity if you want any other kids to come since they’re just as busy with their families (or are out of town).  For those of you curious (and of course you are since you’ve read this far), the eleven year old boy who wants to be cool invites about 8 boys to go for bowling and laser tag.  Doug did a great job of hanging with the big kids, and was well received by the kids and his brother.  In fact, Dad may have been more of a style cramping nuisance with this camera than Doug.  Keith and Kristi were amazed at how silly they all got, but also what a great group of young men they were.  They bowling alley staff, which does literally a dozen birthday parties a day each weekend day, even commented and complimented our group.  Only Kristi impressed them more, by showing up with a homemade cake and her own serving knife.
Because there’s just too much free time between the end of soccer in mid December and the start of baseball in early February, Brad is playing Basketball for the first time this year.  He’s playing center and forward, as much for his ball handling skills (developing) as his height (he’s second tallest on the team).  His confidence builds with every game.  When he gets the ball, he’s beginning to consider alternatives to just passing it quickly to one of his guards.  Keith remembers playing league basketball for 2 or 3 years at just about this same age.  He suspects that Brad’s 4 ppg average already makes Brad the better player.  Keith is scorekeeper/timekeeper for the team.  The calculus goes something like this: Keith coaches baseball (a big commitment), so the Sherwoods can duck any commitments for soccer and call it even.  But basketball is new to the mix, so a minor commitment keeps the karma balanced.  It’s a great seat sitting at half court, but he doesn’t have much of a chance to take pictures or video.
On Super Bowl Sunday we added the newest member to the Sherwood Pack: Dancer (as in the reindeer-she and her 7 litter mates, born late November, all received names from "Twas the Night Before Christmas").  She's a 2-month old puppy, a Lab-mix from the animal shelter.
We were going just to look.  That was clearly spelled out before we took the ride in the convertible after church up the coastline to the animal shelter.  Their web site said they didn’t have any puppies, so it should be relatively safe to go for a visit just to get the lay of the land, to begin the process, to get our names in process for the inevitable background check.  But the web page wasn’t updated (they had puppies) and we didn’t keep the kids moving along (they spent too long in front of one cage and bonded).
The first week of puppy ownership isn’t over, and the bloom is already off for the kids.  Some playful puppy nips have scared them way from further close contact.  Doug in particular seems to be mistaken often for a giant chew toy.  If the first agreement they forgot was “we’re not getting one today” then the second was, “Dogs are a lot of work and you boys must agree to do the majority of feeding, walking, and poop-scooping." It is clear that the boys will need as much training as the puppy.    

They read it:
Doug Read: Captain Underpants and the Wicked Wedgie Woman; Maximum Boy Super Hero…Super Thief; Mutiny at Crossbones Bay; Robin Hood; Wizard of Oz; Return of the Native (I kid you not! It's a sort of comic book, from Kristi's youth.)

They said it:
Doug, describing the latest semantic advances in automotive technology, “It has punctuation-proof tires.”
Brad's final words to his parents as they leave for a class at church about Raising your teenager:  "Go learn how to deal with me."  (With an attitude like that is there any doubt as to why we are going when he only just turned 11?)
Also from Brad, contemplating looming teenagedom: "I'm sorry for the attitude I'm going to have as a teenager."

Related web sites:
(These links will open new browser windows.)
Keith's Pictures of Bike Club rides
Two year old article on Geography Olympiad (mentions Deer Canyon and Del Mar Heights schools)
Rancho Penasquitos Basketball (Brad is on Division E Blazers)


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