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The Sherwoods went camping with the Bigelows, the Fabijanics, and several other families over Labor Day weekend.  The Bigelows have been organizing these Labor Day campathons for several years; this was the second year the Sherwoods have lucked into an invitation to this family car-camping extravaganza.  Kristi must really like Gail and her friends, because this is Kristi's one camping event of the year.  And the Bigelows must really like Kristi, Brad and Doug knowing that they have to put up with "Camping Curmudgeon" Keith when they invite the Sherwoods.
Like last year, there was a whole flock of kids, of whom Brad was again the oldest.  Like last year, there was jump roping, S'mores, mountain hikes, scooter gangs, boys playing football, and late night adult silliness around the fire. Keith's alternate (or perhaps primary?) personality showed up, the Camping Curmudgeon. He enforces all the rules: don't feed the animals, don't gather wood to put in your fire, don't throw trash in your fire, etc.  All the follow-the-rules downside of having a park ranger/cop  in your entourage, with none of the benefits.
More details are in the camp out photo album .
Brad made the competitive basketball team for which he tried out last month.  He’s on the “B” squad.  And so begins this family’s first experience with non-recreational sports.  “Competitive” merely means they don’t have to take everybody who tries out; essentially it means more attitude, more practices, and more money.  Usually it means some travel, too, to other communities, but this league runs out of a gym complex at a university 10 miles away.  The good news is that we don’t have to travel any place else for games; the bad news is we have to travel this far twice a week for practices.  So Brad car pools.  We’ll see how the games go, but the practices (more intense and thorough than any thing he’s experienced in rec leagues so far) will certainly improve his game.  He’s enjoying himself so far.
With a month of school under the family belt, life has settled into a routine.  In the morning the boys are pulled from bed, protesting all the way, a little after 7.  (This is a real change for Brad over the last year, because for the first eleven years of his life he was an inveterate early riser.)  If Keith doesn’t kiss them goodbye right then and drive off to work, traffic will be bad enough he might as well wait. After breakfast at 7:45 Doug leaves for school.  If Keith is still around, he drops Doug off and then continues on to work.  Otherwise, Kristi drives him over.  Brad practices trumpet to a nearly empty house from 7:45 to 8:00 when Kristi drives him, his backpack, and trumpet to middle school.
On Tuesdays Kristi works in Doug’s classroom from 8:00 to 10:00.  She does both “busy work” (copying, laminating, etc., so the teacher can concentrate on teaching) as well as working with the kids when the teacher splits them up into groups.  Occasionally she’ll attend morning PTA meetings at either school.
Every weekday but Tuesday Kristi takes Dancer for a walk after the boys are at school.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Kristi goes to the gym for a workout and weekly core-board (Monday) and Pilates yoga (Friday) classes.
Kristi picks Doug up from elementary school at 2:00.  For the next hour they have private time together, before Kristi picks up Brad from middle school at 3:15.  On Mondays, Doug has piano practice.  (Doug cannot pass by a piano without playing Beethoven's Ode to Joy.  This was totally endearing the first hundred times; now it is just aggravating.)  Occasionally Brad and Doug will perform impromtu deuts  
On Monday and Wednesday evenings, Brad has basketball practice from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.  He's been doing an excellent job of getting all his homework done ahead of practice.  Wednesday evenings is also church night.  For about the third year running, Kristi is in charge of quick dinners at the church from 5:30 to 6 so families can come without worrying about dinner.  She either makes it herself or manages the schedule of other other volunteers.  Brad has Youth Choir from 5 to 6 and Youth group from 6 to 7:30.  Doug has class from 6 to 6:45 and Children's Choir from 6:45 until 7:30.  Keith saunters over from work at about 5:30 and assists Kristi with food distribution and then clean up.  Then they go to class late.  Yes, Brad has a conflict.  Generally he goes to church when Kristi is cooking and goes to basketball when she isn't.
Kristi put in many hours this month on her two school directories.  She more than doubled her work load this year by taking on the Middle School directory in addition to the Elementary School directory, but is on course to get them both published sooner than her one school directory was published last year.
In the middle of September Keith and Doug went with Y Guides for the third time in three years to Camp Fox on Santa Catalina Island.  Previous trips had been in November, so we were really looking forward to a stay during Daylight Savings and hopefully warmer water.  The trip did not disappoint.  We had the best weather yet, and did far more water activities than in the past. November 2002 only had a paragraph devoted to Camp Fox, so this year we'll give it the full treatment with multiple sub pages of details and photos.
We attended the last Friday night Padres game in the current stadium.  Next season, they'll be in their own baseball-only ballpark.  They played up the nostalgia angle as best they could all night, bringing back former stadium and radio announcers and newspaper sports writers and photographers.  But the big draw of the night was the return of the San Diego Chicken, who hasn't been seen in these parts for maybe 10 years.  They gave out bobble-head chicken dolls for the give away that night.  This was only the second game the family attended this year (Bradley caught a couple others with friends, including Opening Day with Betty); like the first game, this was also a group from Church.
Two other special church events we attended this month were the church picnic and the children’s and youth choir retreat.  At the picnic, it was demonstrated that chief among the advantages of Youth Group is a non-threatening place for Brad to practice his friendships with girls.  Brad took part in all the silly picnic relay races, like passing oranges under the chin, completely unselfconsciously with the girls.  Doug, on the other hand, could not be pried off the volleyball court.  The choir retreat started with a little singing, then went on to lunch and a pool party.

They Read It:
Keith to Brad: The Two Towers (only took us a full year, and leaves us only 3 months to read the Return of the King before we see the movie on December 29th)
Kristi: The Secret Life of Bees


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