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The family at the start of the Eldercare 5K Fun Run/Walk in Balboa Park.

Keith throwing the frisbee to Brad and Doug at La Jolla Shores on July 2.

Brad works on his tan.  His thirteenth summer is the first that he's ever spent any time basking.

The still snowy north side of San Gorgonio, the tallest mountain in Southern California, from our drive through the mountains behind Loch Leven.

Uncle Jeff and Brad talk barbecue on July 4th.

Doug watches his brother glide by, two miles gone and still running strong.

Keith in Balboa Park, already well behind Brad.

Doug and Kristi on the home stretch.

Kristi and Brad over the stream flowing through Loch Leven.

Brad in pony tails with Rachel at Loch Leven.  No, I don't know who Rachel is.

Keith and Doug 'pepper' with a volleyball in the front yard.

Neighborhood wiffle ball.  Yes, those are high school girls on the left....

July, 2005
July started off with a an odd celebration of sorts.  On July 1 Kristi made a cake with 12 candles (one for each month) and the family celebrated the end of Keith's tenure as church Board Chair and the return of father and husband to the family.  All through the month at church the standard small talk opening line to Keith was, "Boy, I bet you're glad you're not Board Chair anymore."  Well, that was certainly true.  But it was also true that the health of the church is not just the board chair's responsibility, but the congregation's; we should all feel that sense of responsibility, and urgency, and ownership.  But it is just small talk, a pleasantry to open conversation, so I respond with a "yes" and a smile, while you get the sermon here instead.
But fear not, gentle reader, for you will benefit as well: next month will not start off with a paragraph or three about church.
On July 2 the family decided to stare down the crowds of Southern California and go to a popular and picturesque beach, La Jolla Shores. This made the Saturday in the Fourth of July weekend the annual day we take enough provisions, toys, and patience to stay at the beach All Day Long.  While the boys end up spending plenty of time in the water, it is required that we go through the traditional "Verbal Dance of the Wet suit:" Boys: "The water is so cold!" Parents: "It's a shame you don't have wet suits." (They do.) Boys: "Aw, they're too hard to bring/put on/take off/clean afterwards." Parents (on good days): "Well, that's your choice."  Parents (sarcastically, on not so good days): "How would you know since you never bring them?"  Boys: "I'm bored; there's nothing to do." Parents: "Why don't you go swimming/boogie boarding/body boarding."  Boys: "The water is too cold!"  Repeat ad nauseum.
We got our fireworks the evening of the second.  In Penasquitos they have traditionally done fireworks before July Fourth, presumably to save money. (I imagine you get a pretty steep discount from a fireworks display company that gets lots of business on July 4 but nothing the day before.)  Actually, this works out rather well, as the family always gets to attend together before someone leaves for summer camp.  And by "attend together,"  I really mean arrive and depart together, because while Mom, Dad, and Doug sit together, Brad's first order of business upon arrival is to find friends to wander off and play and roam with during the show.  It's not that he's trying to ditch his family, it's just that he wants to have fun (he says).  It's a pattern we're getting used to, and that parents of teenagers through the centuries have had to get used to.  We make sure to spot him a couple times before the lights go out.
On July 3 the family drove up to Loch Leven in the San Bernadino mountains (behind Redlands at the east end of the Los Angeles valley) to drop off Doug for a week of camp. Camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders are invariably scheduled the first week in July, so Doug missed Fourth of July with the family last year, too (as did Brad when he was this age before Doug).  Having fireworks early in Penasquitos is actually beneficial in this case.
Dropping off Doug at camp takes an hour.  First, Brad must wax poetic about every experience he's had at camp; every sign, building or rock evokes a cherished memory of Brad's, and he shares it.  Then Keith must take pictures, since these are likely to be the only pictures he will get to commemorate the week. Do both Doug and Keith a favor and visit Doug's Loch Leven page.
After dropping Doug off, instead of returning immediately the way we came, we kept on highway 38 and drove the scenic mountain route up through Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernadino Mountains.  It was a very pretty drive that none of us had ever taken before.  Keith did go to one of the ski areas in the region back in the early 80's, but he couldn't remember or recognize which one.
Apparently Jeff and Chrysanne were not satisfied hosting the extended San Diego family for both Easter and Christmas.  So they invited everyone for a Fourth of July barbecue as well.  It was also a family birthday party for cousin Kelsy Rafferty, who was turning 5.
On July 5th, it was Kristi's annual turn to host the church ladies’ bunco game.  To make themselves scarce, Brad and Keith went to see the movie War of the Worlds. (Doug had obligingly made himself scarce by being at church camp.)  Keith had been threatening Brad for a month that the family rule would be followed: you cannot see the movie until you read the book.  The irresistible force of parent pushed and pushed against the immovable object of teen resistance.  Eventually, a compromise was reached: just read the first couple of chapters and you can stop if you don't like it. Later that night, as Brad was racing through chapter 9, Lights Out had to be enforced or he would have read, engrossed, all night.  Although not clamoring to read more HG Wells, Brad did enjoy the 19th century version of science fiction.  Score this one a win-win.  And of course Brad had to comment on everything during the movie, whether a version of this event had taken place in the book. This was okay with Keith, since he had never read the book.
Sunday July 10th (the morning after picking up Doug from church camp) was the big 5K Fun Run and Walk.  Keith ran 3 miles every morning in July (save the day before) in preparation.  In fact, he over trained, stopped by muscle cramps on the eighth day.  Brad ran once or twice with (or away from) Keith, but mostly relied on basketball to keep him in the excellent cross country condition he was in from PE in school.  Kristi and Doug paced off three miles a couple of times.

This was the first time the family had attempted any thing of the sort.  It was a fun family activity, with a purpose: it was a benefit for San Diego Eldercare, so we did it in memory of Betty.  Turns out these fun runs are just that: fun, with goodie bags and a pavilion of booths around the theme for before and after the run.  And with participation in the hundreds not thousands, it wasn't crowded or unpleasant at all.

But the best part was simply running through beautiful Balboa Park at seven a.m. on a Sunday morning.  What a different experience sharing the park with a bunch of runners as opposed later in the day when the park is choked with people and cars!  After they ran the first 200 yards together, Brad looked imploringly at Keith.  Keith waved him off, releasing him, and Brad sprinted away after the lead runners.  At least he asked before abandoning his father.  We figured that running a race outside of school would either stoke his enthusiasm for cross country, or crush completely any interest, all depending upon the amount of success he experienced.  Well, Brad came in 5th, and can tell you how many "San Diego Track Club" T-shirts he beat.  So suddenly he is excited about running and interested in running in more races.
As an aside, the day represented why we live in San Diego: morning 5K in Balboa Park, then a spontaneous trip to the beach for a couple of hours, then an evening neighborhood wiffle ball game after dinner, called only on account of darkness.
What's to be done with the boys during the week between Doug's return from Loch Leven and Brad's departure to same?  Sports Day Camps, that's what, where the high school coaches and varsity team members put on day camps for their respective sports.  For the week of July 11-15, Doug attended baseball camp and Brad went to basketball camp.  Both camps were in the mornings at their eventual high school, Westview.
What new can be said about Brad and church camp at Loch Leven?  This is the highlight to Brad's summer. Every year he says it is his highest priority, and that to attend he would gladly forego any of the other wonderful adventures his parents plan for him.  In an effort to understand his obsession, we have a page of Brad's Loch Leven memories from 2005.  He will clearly be a camp counselor here one day.
The crazy San Diego real estate market must be at a frothy head.  Seems like half the homes in the neighborhood have turned over in the last 6 months (although it's probably more like 20%).  We changed one next door neighbor, and both across the street neighbors.  One family that moved in down the street has a boy two years older than Brad and another four months younger than Doug, so we're very excited.  The older boy is a baseball and basketball player like Brad, and Doug hasn't had anyone his age in the neighborhood forever.  They play together all the time.  Loudly.
In fact, the arrival of the new boys has re-energized the street's youth, and they are once again playing outside and hanging out together this summer as they haven't for the last couple of years. Our house has become the central hang out spot for the neighborhood kids, ages 10 to 15.  Whether this is because Brad and Doug live here, because we have trees that shade our yard, or because our house is halfway between the cul de sac and the blind corner (making it the natural starting spot for all games played in the street), I don't know. It used to be we would drive home to find kids in our tree; now they're older and just sitting in the shade underneath them. Every night this summer there were boys knocking on the front door after dinner, asking for Brad and Doug to come out to play basketball or wiffle ball. After the sophomore boys come out to play, the two junior girls will often join in the games.
Two more things that history needs to record about Doug this month: he started trombone lessons in preparations for beginning fifth grade band in the fall, and Doug loves to play volleyball with his dad. Instead of "Do you want to go play catch, Dad?" it's "Let's go pepper!" Doug is getting good fast, and frequent games of pepper can't be bad for Keith's lunch time games of volleyball at work.
Recapping July so far, that was Doug to church camp for the first full week,  both boys in day sports camps the second week, then Brad to church camp the third week.  So for the fourth week, we went on the family summer vacation to Minnesota. Naturally, we left the very next morning after Brad returned from camp.  The family vacation included Grandma Camp, Keith and Kristi spending time alone together in romantic Duluth, and finally the best reason to go to Minneapolis in July: Keith's brother Ken getting married.  (Kristi enjoyed pointing out that we went as a family to Hawaii, but for our 15th Anniversary, Keith took her to Duluth.) Kristi's parents drove up to Minnesota to meet us and lend us one of their cars; they then returned to Illinois in another car driven by Kristi's aunt and uncle.  After a week in Minnesota, we drove down to Bloomington Illinois on August 1st for the second week of our family vacation.

Keith took his work laptop along on the vacation, a first.  He did use it for work once or twice as he couldn't help but check in at work (romantic Duluth Best Western had high speed Internet access!), but he also found other uses for it: for a slide show of various pictures of the family (since he wasn't keeping up on the web pages), to back up of pictures he took while on vacation, and to make a flier explaining a Persian wedding to distribute to Minoosh and Ken's guests.

Doug Camp
Brad Camp

Typical Betty, from 1994: not afraid of getting in a box to play peek-a-boo with Brad.

Betty Remembrance

Keith got it in his head that with his father, aunt and uncle gathered at Ken's wedding at the end of the month, this would be a good time to distribute all the Betty memorabilia. He began to desperately go through the 8 Betty boxes, trying to reduce the content to something manageable enough to ship or check through to Minnesota.  He got it down to 6 boxes, but couldn't compress it further, when Kristi pointed out there was the 2006 family reunion.  Rather than taking it all upon himself to sort and distribute, why not make that part of the fun of the next family reunion?  Thus relieved of his burden, he took only a small sampling back to Minnesota, with promises of more to come for the reunion.

This particular trip through the Betty boxes retrieved the picture to the left.  This was not a previously unknown picture; Keith took it and had the original in the family album from 1994.  But it was a wonderful reminder of the qualities that made Betty so special.

They read it

With a imperious father-edict similar to Brad and War of the Worlds above, Keith told the boys they couldn't read the new sixth Harry Potter book until they read the previous Harry Potter book, which they both started two years ago but neither finished.  Doug saw the logic in such an argument, while Brad refused to be caught up in the mania surrounding the latest book release: “Everybody says their favorite is either 3 or 4, which I’ve already read, so I don’t need to read any more.”
Doug: Harry Potter 5, Harry Potter 6, Rowling
Brad: War of the Worlds, Wells
Keith: Harry Potter 6, Rowling; This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald

They said it

The sweetest words a father will ever hear: Brad (after a walk with Dancer and Dad): “Thanks for making me come.  This was fun.”

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.
Doug at Loch Leven Doug's week at church camp.
Brad at Loch Leven Brad's week at church camp.

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