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Everyone is holding something special to them.

The front yard becomes a lit wiffle ball stadium.

Brad's summer basketball season completed.

The boys' 2005 First Day of School pictures.  Note Doug in his red and white Safety Patrol uniform.

Brad takes the role of an Elder for the serving of Communion.

Water balloon toss at the church picnic.

Doug grimaces but catches it cleanly.

Doug tries to dunk his father in the dunk tank. Does this picture look strangely familiar?

August, 2005
Where were we?  Oh, yes: Minnesota, on family vacation. Ken and Minoosh successfully married, we bid adieu to the gathered Sherwood relatives and lit out for Illinois and the Rafferty relatives.  We visited the Field Of Dreams in Iowa before making it to Bloomington, where we spent the next week before returning home to San Diego on August 6th.  Read all about it on the summer vacation page.
Back in San Diego, Kristi did her usual excellent job of squeezing every last drop out of summer, getting the kids to the beach several times and taking them to a pool party at the Bigelows in the two and a half weeks between returning from Illinois and going back to school.  Brad had his own version of sucking the marrow of summer, stretching neighborhood wiffle ball games late into the evening by setting up an elaborate system of extension cords and lights, garnered from parents’ garages up and down the street.  Doug is catching bicycle fever, wanting to ride his bike everyone in preparation for Bike Club this fall, which in turn is in preparation for the Ride Across California next spring.  And Doug is reading up a storm, having raced through the entire Harry Potter series, he voraciously consumes any books, especially series.  It must be said that both boys have neglected their instruments, however, since returning from vacation.
Brad went to Magic Mountain with the church youth group as a last hurrah on the weekend before school started.  Six Flags Magic Mountain, located on the far side of Los Angeles, is known for its thrill rides, roller coasters and hence its teenage crowds.  On trips to carnivals and amusement parks, Doug has clearly established himself as the braver of the two boys when it comes to thrill rides, a fact that he likes to throw at his brother when he has the chance.  (Little brothers are always searching for some way to beat older brothers.) Doug has been asking for a family trip to Magic Mountain for some time, and the fact that Brad is now the first in the family to go really irks him.  The trip was an overnighter, going up Saturday morning, spending all day at the park, crashing in a nearby motel, then returning to church first thing Sunday morning (thus cleverly passing through LA during two weekend mornings).  The church would pick up the cost of the park and motel if you had earned enough participation points in the youth program, which of course Brad had.  We got a call from Brad to let us know they arrived.  Brad had last seen Magic Mountain three years ago, and only then passing at 80 MPH.  Now he was standing outside, waiting to get in, and examining the offerings.  He said there were 3, maybe 4 rides he would actually go on. He ended up having a blast (of course), and by the end of the day there were only 3 or 4 rides he wouldn’t go on.  Doug may be losing his grip on family thrill ride king.


A shift, subtler than Brad trouncing Keith in the 5K, has occurred in the athletic pecking order of the household: when Keith and Brad go out to play catch in the street, it is now Brad and not Dad who takes the downhill position.  The downhill position is the position of the better player: the down street player must be stronger as he has to throw up hill, and he must be better defensively since any ball that gets by him runs downhill to the corner. And finally, that ultimate demonstration of manhood, miniature golf, also betrayed Keith.  If only Keith could have had that piece of steak for breakfast that he longed for, surely he would have beaten his younger opponent.
Back to school means back to school shopping, and Kristi has refined the tradition to an annual event. While one, both, or neither boy may participate in the school supply shopping trip, each gets a dedicated day with Mom for clothes shopping. As parents, we are always surprised at how much more each boy shines (and behaves) on their own rather than with each other. As payment for a day of trying on clothes, each boy gets to choose where Mom will take him to lunch. And this year the tables turned slightly with Brad buying Kristi a coffee as she began to sag in the afternoon.
Between 5 weeks off during the school year, plus various partial days and professional growth days, summers are now officially just 2 months long in our school district. The first day of school was August 25th.  This was also about the hottest day of summer so far.  Every time Kristi scheduled a beach day, the overcast refused to burn off until noon or one o’clock.  But the first day that school is back in session, it is cloudless from sunrise. And Doug had to practically get up with the sun to make it to school early for Safety Patrol.  Just his luck draw the first day of school. 
Both boys returned from their first day excited and talking.  Brad’s home room teacher is a Lincoln fan, and started the first day with a history lesson on Lincoln.  Brad had to correct the teacher when he misspoke one or four times.  Brad explained that he had just been to the Lincoln museum in Springfield earlier this month.  Brad was most enthralled with Lincoln and Kennedy assassination comparisons, a series of remarkable coincidences of the kind that the Internet was invented to promulgate and disseminate.  Doug was very excited to get Mr. Bueker who Brad had for fifth grade and who Brad regards as the best teacher to have ever walked the face of a school yard.  We topped off the first day of school with a nightcap at Dairy Queen, our first of the summer.
The start of school also means Kristi starts the School Directory.  August she collects data Kristi gave up doing the PTA District Directory after just one year, concentrating on just the Mesa Verde Middle School directory.  She really didn't enjoy doing the district directory: she didn't see the point in its existence, and no parent ever came up and raved to her that they keep their district directory in their glove compartment for easy reference, or that the district directory is the most important piece of information they received from school all year.  Parents have said that about her school directories.  So August is the start of the three month long process of gathering the information from parents and school, collating and creating, and finally producing and distributing.  She says she'll do the middle school directory two more years, and then be there for the next owner to consult in Doug's final year in middle school.

Doug's last year in middle school, only three years away.  Sounds so close.
The summer rec basketball league came to an end.  Brad did really well and resolved to try out for the competitive 8th grade basketball team.  As when he tried out two years ago, his parents were proud of his effort and courage, regardless of the outcome.  That the high school coach, who ran the tryouts, remembered him from summer basketball camp (and constantly called him by name) didn't hurt.  We were delighted, if financially wary, when he made the team.
Forgive me, but there are two church related items that need to be recorded, both occurring on the last Sunday of August.  It was church picnic day, so the two services were combined into one, and the picnic followed.  Because there was a single combined service the minister decided to change some things up, since people would already be resigned to having changes to service.  One of his ideas was to have age and youth serve communion instead of the usual Elders.  Brad was asked to represent Youth, and gave a prayer before serving communion to the Deacons. 

The second item to relate was that after a several year hiatus, the dunking booth was back at the church picnic.  The last time there was a dunking booth, Keith was asked to be one of the dunkees since he was a Sunday School teacher, and surely the kids would line up to dunk him.  This time he was asked to be a dunkee since he was the previous Chair of the Board, and surely the congregation would line up to dunk him. 

The social dynamics of the dunking booth have remained constant.  Adults don't "do" the dunking booth because it is monopolized by kids.  And kids don't care what their relationship is to the adult getting dunked; they're just happy to wield the power over the adult, any adult.  All that Keith knows about dunking booths he learned from TV.  So while he's on the chair, he's harassing, insulting, and generally being rude to the thrower.  All fine and good in Hollywood, but it does seem out of place to be rudely mocking a 7 year old girl at a church picnic.  Perhaps Keith won't be asked to participate next year....

They read it

KeithThe Kite Runner, Hosseini.
DougHarry Potter 1, 2, 3, 4, Rowling.  (Having completed the last two in the saga (5 and 6) in the last two months, he decided to go back and re-read the entire series, since they had been read to him, rather than him reading them.) 

They said it

Kristi: Is that green chili salsa still good?
Brad (who does not care for green chili): Still good?  It was bad from the day it was made.

Brad: I was a little embarrassed at registration today.  A teacher was waving at me, so I waved back. But it turns out she was waving us over into her line.
Doug: She wasn’t waving at you, Brad, she was waving with you.

You could have clicked it

Links above you may have missed:

Our Summer Vacation The family's two week trip to Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.
2002 Father/Son Roadtrip
The last time Brad (or any of us) had seen Magic Mountain.
2002 Church Picnic
The last time Keith was in the church picnic dunk tank.
Miniature Golf
Brad's athletic prowess displayed on the miniature golf course.
A Piece of Steak
Classic Jack London short story you should have read in High School in American Lit.

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Text and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood.  All rights, writes, and rites reserved.