Friday, July 18, 2014

Final Post

This is the final post of this blog. I plan to keep loving this family of mine, riding motorcycles, appreciating friends, and contemplating this life experience that is mine.

I look forward to years of watching and thinking about what I see. I look forward to learning more about what makes a marriage work, a life interesting, a human a human. I look forward to watching my beautiful son and daughter grow and learn and discover and ask. I look forward to seeing what they do with their minds, athletic skills, bravery, and contemplativeness. I look forward to their hugs and kisses. I look forward to spending time and sharing meals with family and friends and appreciating their hugs and kisses, too. I look forward to being, to riding, to walking, to what more life has for me.

A few months ago Tami overheard a song called Life is Better With You by Michael Franti. She bought the song and it has become a favorite in our household. I told Tami that if we were to get married today that this would be our song. She smiled and told me she had thought the same thing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wrapping Up Blog

It's just about time to wrap up this blog. If you would like me to send you an email notification if/when I start a new blog, feel free to enter an email address in the form below and click on submit button.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

First Half of Summer 3 of 3

Fran's brother was getting his son a new bigger bike. Fran said Enzo could use a first bike and so it was that Enzo got a bike. Tata brought over the surprise.

Enzo was happily surprised.

I was stunned however, when Enzo taught himself how to ride on two wheels and started peddling short distances within minutes. Yes, minutes. No training wheels. First time using brakes. Within the hour he was ridding his bike for the distance of two houses without putting his feet down. There were no tears, no dramatic struggles, no weeks and weeks of effort, no movie-like moment where a parent let go as he peddled on. He just got on, practiced, got the hang of it and kept practicing. It was amazing!!!! He is 4 and a half and taught himself to ride in an afternoon. After a bit of play, the kids took a nap and ate dinner. Then, they got back outside and hopped on their wheels, Enzo on his bike and Ana on her scooter. Enzo was then ridding non stop to the end of the street! Enzo, still on that very first day of ever peddling on two wheels, just went and went and went... All around our neighborhood like a pro.  Tami and I walked while Ana scooted and Enzo rode all the way down to a local park where he continued to speed along, make u-turns, experiment with ridding over grass, looped around objects, and went as fast as he could. I kept telling Tami I could not believe that was possible in one day. I was truly amazed. Someone had told me a long time ago that the secret to kids learning to ride was to put them on a bike with no peddles or a scooter-like bike without peddles. And that's what I did when I bought them the orange scooter. Enzo and Ana have been riding that thing for a very long time now and I think that made the world of difference. They are great at balancing now, already know how to peddle from tricycles, and the transition to two wheels was super smooth for Enzo. But still, I had no idea it could be that smooth. I remember being older, maybe 6 or so, and having to struggle for days and days and days to learn to ride on two wheels. But how awesome it was to ride once I got it. I see that happiness in Enzo when he rides. Ana is clearly going to need a bike soon, too. She wanted to be on Enzo's bike so much.

Nathan invited me to be a passenger in his race car on a track day at Sonoma Speedway. That's a picture of me in the car. The next one is a picture I took of Nathan driving (he is in the car in the middle, the black car after the blue and white car). I had no idea how fast a race car goes before it brakes hard into a turn. The range finder in my brain was saying "this is impossible to not be slowing down yet" at every turn. Crazy! Fun, but crazy. I admittedly became a bit queazy, tossed around in my seat at such speed, sweating hot in a helmet with the outside temperature in the 90's. After a few laps of holding back any motion sickness and anxiety from being so hot, it was time for me to get out and enjoy the rest of the day as a spectator. Luckily I was clear headed enough during my first ride in a race car to memorize and appreciate some of the experience and the feelings of moving so fast around a road track. I had often wanted to see what that would be like and now I know. I am super grateful that Nathan thought of me and invited me to join. And, as always, I enjoy hanging out with that guy.

After the track day, we loaded up the car into the trailer and headed off to enjoy dinner together.

Later that week, the kids and I went over to Nathan and Laurie's house to play and have dinner with them and their kids. They played in the pool and tested out their new life vests we got them before our next camping trip where there is a swimming hole. I didn't get any pictures of once we got in the water but they would have had a lot of smiles. Nathan started spinning Charlotte around in the water and once Jack, Enzo and Ana saw that, Nathan didn't get a break for a long time.

The kids swam, jumped on the trampoline, ate a delicious home cooked meal, and played for hours. It makes me happy to see our kids playing together.

Years ago, about 12 or so years ago, I spent the summer working at San Jose Family Camp near Yosemite. This summer, for the first time, I spent several days there as a guest with my family. Traci and Fran even joined us for a couple of the days.

The kids played in the water multiple times each day. They loved it. I am pretty certain that the swimming hole was their favorite feature of the camp.

View from my cot during nap time.

The kids and Tami getting down during a dance party, one of the many daily activities.

Ana loved leaving the kid section to kick and practice swimming in the deep pool when ever Tami or Aunti Tia would be out there. I don't know how a kid can be so fearless as she. I am always impressed with these kids. And more importantly, always entertained to watch their discoveries.

On one day the kids, Tami and I walked up river and then cruised back on the tubes we brought up with us. I have no pictures of that. I was soaked and we all enjoyed ourselves. Later, Traci the kids and Tami did it again. I got some pictures of them as they floated back into camp while I read along the river.

After the water, Enzo's favorite part of the experience had to be the nightly camp fire complete with silly and fun camp songs. He was into it. He sat up front away from us and gave his full attention.

Ana, however, was usually fighting off sleep by the time the camp fire started. Still, she hung in there because after the songs the sticks and marshmallows were handed out and it was roasting time.

They talked with a couple of kids during the trip but this girl next to Enzo in the picture named Lilly, a little older than Enzo, became the one they always looked for.

This is silly but I am proud of the fact that I tied the bikes to the top of the car for this trip. It turns out bikes aren't even allowed in the camp so we couldn't use them. And that makes sense, the camp has a lot of hills and people walk all over and no one has to worry about kids on wheels. Besides, there was enough time to play in the water that they weren't too sad to leave the bike and scooter alone for a few days. But the reason I started this paragraph was to say that I realized I was proud of having tied the bikes to the roof. I didn't even know until I did it that I always wanted to tie stuff to the top of a car and drive far. Somehow that image had gotten into my head as one of those things I would like to do in my life. And I did it.

This is a cool fish that Enzo invented. It has spikes on its fins and tail. He explained that these were defenses, like some plants have, to protect it from sharks. He drew it himself and cut it out.

Remember this guy? I hardly get to see my friend Don lately but we did get to meet one day in Campbell on my way home from work. Good times.

I bought a couple of new books for the kids which they began "reading" right away. It's neat to listen to them explain the story they see.

To celebrate Tami's birthday, we had a BBQ at Baylands park. There were bikes and kites and food and fun.

The BBQ did end a bit early with a bit of a sad situation. Enzo fell off a bench he was standing and spinning on and hit the ground pretty hard. His leg and chin were scraped up. Two fat lips. Bruised forehead. Bruised purple gums. Front teeth were shifted a bit. That part of the day was not fun and neither was that night. We are waiting for a few days to see how things settle to see if we need to do anything at the dentist. It is nice having a family friend, Jean, in the dental business to call and get advice from. Poor kiddo. He is handling it all well, better than I am. He plays and goes about as normal. I worry a bit and cringe once in a while thinking about it. This life experience can be a bit stressful at times when someone I love is hurt. Life is worth the tough times, but it is a bit of a challenge, none the less. And I sometimes find it harder to convince myself to be calm and patient until the challenge passes. But, as Tami said, Enzo is ok and it was a good day up until that point and there were good memories made that very day out there in the park.

So, I think about the happy memories as I deal with my sympathy for my Enzo as he heals. The swelling has gone down considerably as I write this, 24 hours later. He plays and eats. He is fine even if bruised and I know he would be on his bike at the park right now if we let him. Still, I know I will have much to think about when this is a bit more behind us. I'll get to remind myself how some situations can raise great stress but work out just fine. I'll again get to ponder how I react to seeing those I love be injured. I still remember all of my emotions associated with Ana getting stitches. Yet, all of this is balanced with the fact that I tear up happily when I remember clearly all of the emotions I experienced when Ana and Enzo were each born. I still smile when I choose any of thousands of mental memories with these kids, my wife, my family, and my experiences to ponder. It is so good and sweet to be alive even as it is sad at times, but mostly sweet. We are lucky, to be sure. Being a parent is wonderful and it comes with some challenging times. I suppose that explains much of life, marriage, work... just about everything to some degree.

(*Update- the scheduled dentist visit and exam for after the swelling went down a couple days after the fall showed that healing is going well and no procedures were necessary. We go in for another check up in two weeks to see how his front teeth are doing and to be sure they are ok.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First Half of Summer 2 of 3

We went camping with Shea and Nicole to Big Sur.

Played games.

Were visited by a skunk.

The kids used the morning fire as a train engine. More accurately, Shea was hanging out by the morning fire when the other kiddos decided they could make a line around her with chairs and use the fire smoke as train smoke. Shea played along though. It's great that these kids all get along.

Tami even packed up her laptop and took it with us as she had a lot of work to do before her first year in grad school would wrap up since she took summer classes. This picture above represents the only time she pulled out her laptop. You can see it there, snug in it's case by the fire, Tami's eye's closed as she slept. This is about as productive as one needs to be when camping.

Our skunk friend came out again another night.

No need for sprinklers when camping next to a river.

Ana liked to take breaks sometimes and wrap herself in a Hello Kitty towel then sit back with me before going back in the water.

We stopped for a view along Highway 1 on the way home.

Ana was quite happy with the comfortable accommodations at the look out point.

I took the kids to a park in Campbell that has a water feature. It is a great big park that is always well used. Enzo loves to run through the water.

Ana loves to climb. She went up that net so many times. She would then call out to me "Papi!" so that I would see her. Then, climb down, play in the water, and eventually climb up the net again. That Ana loves to climb.

Ana was having troubles jumping on the rocks the way Enzo was. Enzo got down, went to her, and coached her through one time, even giving her his hand at a few points. He would say "I'll help you Ana, you can do it, here, I'll show you how." Then they jumped and walked from rock to rock before getting tired and ready for a nap. Well, maybe it was me who was ready for a nap, not sure I remember for sure now. But that was a good day at the park.