More Sylvans Pages
Monday, August 26. 2013
For a long time, I have been writing entries here partly for my dad... I guess it was an alternative to emailing him updates about the kids.. or maybe a lazy way of letting him know what was going on while serving my own purpose of creating an external repository of memories.
He died today. I went to visit him a couple of weeks ago, after he'd gotten sick, but before he got too sick and went into the hospital. When I saw him, he was already the victim of brain tumors, and had difficulty talking. It hit him fast - a month before that, he'd been planning a visit to California. I wish he'd got to have that visit.
I wish I could make him better, have bought him some more time, but if he had to go anyway, then I wish he could have had that visit. I wish he could've seen his grandkids, and my kids could've seen him, one more time.
I find myself wondering if I should have stayed longer, or tried to talk to him about more stuff.. I feel like I should regret not seeing him more... but I sat with him, and we talked a bit... which was always awkward for both of us... and I'm not sure more of that would've done anybody any good. Maybe it would've made him happy, and I regret not doing more to try to do that...
I watched a drum core video with him, and I think he liked that.
And today he's gone, and I find myself being introspective, kind of soul searching, looking around to see what regrets are lurking, and feeling confused, and lonely, and wrestling with the sense of loss.
Tuesday, May 21. 2013
May has been a busy month with our Boy Scout Troop. We went to Pinnacles National Park where we pulled weeds then hiked over the peaks on Saturday (beautiful and amazing landscape - the boys agreed with me that it was like a scene out of Lord of the Rings) and went through the caves on Sunday. The boys really liked the caves; several of them said, "This is the best hike ever!"
The weekend after that, we went to Angel Island where we helped with a bunch of stuff (led by a park employee and two college girls - a few of the boys were fairly aware of the college girls) during the day and hiked to the top of the island at night. The next day we hiked around the island and enjoyed all the amazing scenery - everything from old military buildings to the Golden Gate Bridge to the San Francisco Skyline to the old gun batteries. About 3/4 of the way around, the clouds were rolling in and lightning struck close enough to us that we heard it Zap! It startled the heck out of us and I had to look around to make sure everyone was okay - it was that close. But the island was gorgeous.
Then we had Scout-o-Rama the following weekend, then this past weekend the older boys (and a few dads) backpacked through Henry Coe State Park, which was a less dramatic landscape than Pinnacles and Angel Island, but still very pretty. The hike was pretty challenging, but the boys did well and we saw deer and bats, and heard turkeys and coyotes. My water filter died trying to filter scummy pond water
I recently bought a $60 short surfboard ("fish" style) from Costco last week and tried it out at 6am this morning. It was (as predicted) much harder to catch waves but I managed to get one good ride (and a few not so good), so that was reasonably satisfying... though on a longboard I would have caught many. It's a fun change, but I like the dependability of the longboards.
Thursday, May 9. 2013
For Ben's fifth grade science project, he is trying to figure out what ingredient in soda pop makes the reaction with Mentos so last night we tried all kinds of different combinations of soda and mentos.
Initially we had some old 7-up, diet Pepsi, and A&W root beer. All were pretty disappointing. Grandma had pint of Coke, so we asked if we could have one - she said, "you have soda!" and we replied, "but we need Coke - it's in the name of science!"
Some (like Orange soda) were very disappointing, but both diet and regular coke and pepsi were pretty good.
Tuesday, April 23. 2013
Tuesday, January 29. 2013
We just had the Pinewood Derby in Cub Scouts, which is always a lot of fun. Ben and I made is car in a bit of a rush, but had a pretty good time doing it. Only thing was, he was feeling kind of competitive and hopeful to place well, and we really disappointed when his car only did about average...
The quarter just finished and Eli just finished up "Vo-Tech" - basically a kind of modernized shop class, which he absolutely loved. He had one project to choose a design, then sand blast that design into a piece of glass and mount it in a frame that he was pretty excited about. Problem was, there was no place for him to keep the glass at school, so the first piece broke. The teacher gave him a second piece, which Eli tried to leave at school, but it disappeared. He got a third piece, but it broke too... he was kind of upset / disappointed about the whole thing. He brought some frame pieces home (wood that he had cut and routered himself) and I suggested we could go to Tap Plastics and he could make something with it. So, on Saturday we drove over to Tap Plastics. On the way there, Ben was kind of iffy about it, and I said, "you guys will like this place, it's cool". Ben said, "how cool is it? On a scale of one to ten?". I told him, "Mmmm, about a six". So Ben turns to Eli and says, "that means to us it's probably a three".
Anyways, we get there and start looking around at stuff. Ben says, "Maybe it's a four or a five". And a little later he asks what score I had given it and at that point agrees that it's probably a six.
Then Eli and I look at some pre-cut cheap Plexiglas pieces for awhile, and eventually see the sign that says "custom cut plastic starting at $1" so we go to the counter which is manned by this old guy (grandfatherly age, at least). On first glance, you can't tell whether the guy will be all business, or whether he's the friendly helpful type.
Wednesday, January 9. 2013
Ben turned 11 yesterday and had a pretty good day. We started the day by going to Bascom donuts for breakfast (Ben got a maple bar, a "sunflower", and something else I can't remember.. .he was full a couple of bites into the maple bar) and Ben bought 5 donut holes to share with his friends before school. He also had elaborate gift bags to hand out in class with a bunch of goodies in each bag.
He had dinner at Pizza My Heart (pesto pizza, of course!) and we got several personal size cakes from "Flour, Sugar, Butter". We took those home, and unwrapped presents. He got a bunch of good stuff including Talisman (board game) expansion sets, some new shirts, and an airsoft rifle from Eli.
Thursday, October 11. 2012
Ben and I had fun talking about all kinds of stuff tonight and buying ice cream at the grocery store. I don't remember why, but at one point he was reminiscing about last spring when we went to the Grand Canyon and there was snow on the ground, so the boys and I made snowballs and threw them in to the Grand Canyon. Other tourists saw us, and they did it too.
Monday, September 10. 2012
Well the boys are back to school and that's going well. We had a family camping trip over Labor Day weekend and had fun - friends joined us Saturday for boogie boarding and volleyball in beautiful sunny weather, but Sunday we were fogged in all day and we took it pretty easy. Eli found a ton of sand dollars on Sunday and had a great time doing it.
Today, Eli, Ben, Maizy, and I went Geocaching around (never quite made it into) Almaden Quicksilver Park today and had a total blast. Poor Ben has a cold and was tired and hot, but he still had fun finding some caches. We stumbled upon the Quicksilver Mining Museum (didn't even know it existed, but we drove by it and stopped) and had fun there. The museum was cool and the docent/interpreter was very friendly, plus there was a cache right outside the parking lot. We stopped and found a few other easily accessible caches, and at one point we turned around in a driveway next to a beautiful horse. I think Maizy and the horse would've like to have played together - she looked at him and just wagged her tail like crazy. Afterwards we got In-and-Out Burger.
Monday, August 20. 2012
We went to the beach (Rio Del Mar) with a lot of friends on Saturday. I had been worried it woudl be too cold, but the weather cooperated and it was beautiful. We got there by about 10:15 and set up around a fire pit (good thing we got there early, because 15 minutes later, the last fire pit was taken).
The waves were fairly small, and the boys and friends (and I) did a lot of boogie boarding, and we had a few nice volleyball games. Even some parents got into it. Top it all off with a fire, hot dogs, and smores, a view of the milky way after the sun went down, and I don't think you could ask for more.
Saturday, August 11. 2012
Eli and I went backpacking with the Boy Scouts on Skyline to the Sea trail (but started at Big Basin). This was preceded by my doing a lot of research and a small buying splurge (bigger backpack and lightweight tent from Ledge Sports, JetBoil hiking stove I got on clearance from Sports Authority, and 200 feet of paracord and some plastic buckles).
The first day was a little over 5 miles to our first camp site and Eli was selected to lead the group down the trail. I think it took him a little bit to get the swing of things (using the map and compass, along with the trail signs, etc) but he seemed to get right into it. It was only moderately stenuous (though, a short ways in, we passed by a sign that said "Warning: strenuous hike next 6 miles" - Eli said, "Oh great, now they tell us!") with a couple of uphill / downhill sections. We stopped for lunch and then again at a creek to get water (no water at the camp; you had to filter it from the creeks - which was a new experience for Eli and I both).
I taught the kids to make paracord "survival bracelets" which I had spent a chunk of time researching and practicing, and they were really into it. Many of them made two bracelets.
We hung our food from tree branches to keep it away from the raccoons, but it turns out we didn't do a great job, as raccoons got to every single bag. One of the other adults and some of the boys shooed them away and re-hung the bags further away from the tree trunks (the raccoons could reach the bags from the trunks - either by leaping or by swaying the tree to get closer to the bag - smart raccoons!)
The next day was really beautiful - we trekked through redwoods and past several waterfalls, each of them worth the hike on their own. After the waterfalls, the trail wound through the forest a bit, and then got both easier, and more boring. The kids spent their time talking about who would win on the TV show, "Deadliest Warrior". We arrived at camp, and found that someone had partially scratched out the name on the sign, and had scratched instead, "Raccoon City". But that night we did a better job hanging our food, and had slightly less stressful adventures. Eli had a raccoon climb under the rainfly to his tent and peer through the screen and him and his tentmates. One of his tentmates was talking to the raccoon, asking it if it was tired, and Eli said, "It's not tired!! It's nocturnal!!"
Finally, on Sunday, we left camp and hiked two miles (mostly along the ridge, which afforded some great views) towards the beach. At one point when we rounded a corner and the ocean came into view, the boys cheered. We saw some deer on our way to the beach, and the trail was a bit narrow and intense at times, but basically it was good. We arrived at the beach and had a picnic lunch with mothers and grandparents. Most of the kids were very tired, but agreed it was a great trip.
Saturday, June 9. 2012
The next day was the start of a warm spell and Joann took the boys and a couple friends to Raging Waters, where they played all day and Eli got a sunburn from hours laying on his back on tubes in the lazy river. I met them at the movies theater and we saw Madagascar 3 which was actually really pretty good.
Saturday we went to paintball with some other friends for about five hours. This was our second time doing paintball and we wore thick clothes to pad us from the hits. Ben wore his heavy winter coat and I put several layers on Eli, including some motocross body armor and a folded towel over his sunburn. Both kids said all the padding was effective; getting hit was relatively harmless. We drank quarts of water though, and sweated profusely, and by the evening the boys were pretty much exhausted.
Ben had a friend sleep over Saturday night, and I went to Chris's house to celebrate his birthday. Sunday morning I took Eli to Cowell's beach to give him his first surfing lesson. He's outgrown his booties, so I put him in mine which were only a little floppy on him. Good thing I did - we got knocked into the sharp rocks several times and I got several cuts on my toes - better me than him. The tide was reasonably low (less than half a foot, positive) so Eli and I could pretty much walk out to the inside break. The waves were just a touch bigger than I would've liked for his first lesson, so we just waited out the sets and I helped him catch the small ones.
He paddled, and I gave the board a big push, and he was off. He had been a little tired and cold when we first got in the water, but after the first wave he caught, he looked back at me with a big smile and a thumbs up. We had a few false starts, and he fell off a few times (sometimes due to me doing a poor job pushing the board, sometimes due to him being a bit far forward and going over the nose), but by his second wave he was starting to try to stand up. He got about halfway up three times and had a blast - and I was very happy for him and proud of him for deciding on his own to try to stand (I'd told him to just do whatever he was comfortable with - ride on his belly, try to stand - it was up to him).
Afterwards, when we were out of the water carrying the boards down to the car, he asked me, "Do I look like a surfer?" I said, "Yes, you totally look like a surfer... but more than that, today you are a surfer!"
We got clam chowder for lunch and just basked in the glow of a beautiful day at the beach, and his first day surfing - probably the first of many.
And today I don't know what they're going to do - but I shared this thought with Eli and Ben over the weekend: So far their summer reminds me of Phineas and Ferb, with a new adventure every day.
Tuesday, May 8. 2012
Another busy, busy weekend! We got Pizza my Heart for dinner and saw Avengers Friday with Brett and the girls and Derek - was a lot of fun.
Saturday Eli had Relay for Life with the Scouts. It was very sunny and beautiful (though perhaps a little too sunny midday) and Eli and Ben both participated in the opening flag ceremony with Eli's troop. It was pretty cool. There were a lot of booths selling stuff and doing fundraising - the scouts were selling glow bracelets and doing "rent a scout" - for $1 a scout will do a lap. One booth had "rent a bra" - these funny garish bras. A couple of younger scouts each got bras and were walking around the track in the opposite direction of traffic promoting the scout booth - it was too funny / cute. Eli and I had an interesting conversation about doing embarrassing things and having the self confidence to do them.
Ben wasn't feeling well, so I let him off the hook for doing any more shifts, but Eli and I came back for his shift, 2-4pm, and then again after our Cinco de Mayo mexican dinner with Grandma (where we had to share menus because Alicia's was pretty busy... food was good and the top shelf margaritas were better than that).
We took Maizy to Relay for Life in the evening after seeing other people bring their dogs and she had a great time meeting people. The boys played frisbee and other games. The luminaria were beautiful and it was very moving. Eli and I walked a memorial lap in memory of Jen and held hands and talked.
And Sunday we had a beach day with Brett and the girls and had a total blast (in spite of kids being worn out from Saturday) - boogie boarding, bbq hot dogs, and ice cream at Marianne's.
Monday, April 23. 2012
In spite of that, I took the boys boogie boarding later that day. It was a rough start because the weather was beautiful and everyone was at the beach - parking lots for the state beaches were full all the way down to Sunset. We parked in a residential area and walked down to a beach near Manresa, but there were some bad rip currents and the waves were breaking too close to shore, so I told the kids, "how about we go back to Rio Del Mar, and even if I have to drop you guys off at the beach with our stuff, park a ways off, and walk a back, we'll do that?" They were agreeable but when we got there we got lucky: A parking spot right in front of the Pixie Deli in Rio Del Mar! Seems like fate changed and decided to smile on us, so we got clam chowder, cokes for the boys, a beer for me and things were really looking up. Great clam chowder, btw. After that we went boogie boarding in some great little rolling waves (perfect conditions) under the warm sun.
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts has been busy. Between the wreck and boogie boarding, Eli had a fundraising event with his boy scouts (during which I was on the phone with insurance companies) and last week Eli's troop had Camporee and I took Ben to half of that. Eli had a great time shooting bb guns and other activities and while Ben missed a lot of the really cool stuff, he still had a good time whittling and making new friends.
Wednesday, April 4. 2012
ben asked me to do an "I spy" book with him tonight. that really took me back - when he was maybe 5 it was one of his favorite activities, both the books and the game. we used to play i spy to pass the time when we were waiting for something.
Friday, March 30. 2012
A couple of years ago Eli got a cool RC car that has a digital controller - up to 4 cars can use the same frequency. Plus, it is a really good car; nice nice and plenty of power. Other RC cars were underpowered, too large, lost the battery packs, etc. So as we gave away or threw out the other cars I had told the kids I'd get them new, good cars like the ones Eli had. I finally did that in January.
But then I didn't ever get them out - until tonight. We had some free time and I gave them some ideas of stuff we could do and we ended up taking the new cars down to the library and racing them around and getting pizza form Little Caesars and making a ramp out of the pizza box and it was a really good time.
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