Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sledding Fun

Pam and I have questioned if this would be the year we take all of the kids skiing. Instead, we took a one day trip up sledding. Pam's sister, Jackie, was a good sport and went up with us. I wasn't exactly sure where to sled but thought we'd strike out up Highway 50. About 15 minutes outside of Placerville, we came upon a gas station with about 200 sledders on the hillside and we joined the revelry.

The only incident (and every sledding trip has at least one) was Blake getting struck by a "human missle" from behind while retrieving his sled. Thankfully, no injuries.

Joshua refused his coat

Angel Meg

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All that Glitters is not Gold

The kids had Veteran's Day off of school this week so we took a long anticipated trip up to "Gold country" east of Sacramento in the little town of Coloma.

A bit of history: We learned about a few members of the Mormon Battalion working their way back to Utah who had stopped to help build Sutter's Mill late in 1847. While digging to divert part of the river in order to power the water wheel, James Marshall, the foreman, found a pea sized piece of gold. On January 24th, 1848, two of the Mormons recorded the date and finding in their journals. Word spread quickly, for the times, and soon the "Gold Rush" was on.

We made quick stops in the museum and blacksmith shop before heading down to pan for gold and strike it rich on the banks of the American river. We had, unfortunately, forgotten our pans but were able to dig through the silt bottom for treasure. Abby was convinced we'd be filling our pockets with gold in no time and was quickly disappointed. The adventure was salvaged when Pam and I started helping, though. We found pyrite (not that the kids cared - it glittered) and some gold as well. Our total haul was a bit less than what you'd collect from running your fingernail along the edge of your Bible but that's just details. The point to all involved was that we came for gold and we found some.

Our last bit of fun for the day was spotting a bunch of geese in a field. I suggested to the kids we sneak up on them and give them a scare - which we proceeded to do. The geese weren't too skittish, though. Locals walking by laughed and told Pam (who was uninvolved in the mischief) that they'd been chased before. The geese mostly ran from us until they, reluctantly, took flight. The point - like the rest of the day - was the adventure, not the magnitude of success.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"No pictures, please"

Halloween 2008 started out with Joshua parading with his pre-school class and telling Pam, "No pictures, please." Not sure how he decided that but it's an instant classic.

It was a bit rainy so the crowds were down a bit. We had about 250 come to the door, down from a more typical 350. Good times were had, of course, by all.

Indiana Jones

Snow Queen


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Orinda Family Science Night

Last March I was tapped to organize the Family Science Night here in Orinda. This would be the third iteration that has happened every three years. I was greatly helped by Andy Sorenson and Sheila Yeh who had helped pull it off in prior years. We put together our steering committee and started to line up scientists to come and put on demonstrations for the local community. Beginning in September we intensified our efforts and were able to hold a great event on the 16th of October. We had about 1200 people there and about 30 scientists. Among other things, the kids made ice cream and slime, dissected (cat, heart, and eyes), and star gazed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Saint George Marathon

We arrived in Saint George on Thursday full of optimism and energy. We left Saint George Saturday damp and sore. There for the big day with me were Pam, Jonathan Tanner, Heather Callister and other more extended family members. The weather was far from ideal for running with a stiff headwind and rain throughout. In the days leading up to the run I was actually encouraged by the weather reports calling for cool weather and 10-15 mph South winds. Since the marathon course runs generally southward, I thought that meant the winds would be pushing us along. It was a sad moment when I learned from a friend that wind conventions tell you FROM which direction the wind is blowing, not to. Needless to say, it was a challenging day for more reasons than just the 26.2 miles to be covered.

I was running my third marathon and Pam had finally relented and was joining me for her first. She had told me that she'd never be able to run that far. My mantra, though, is that it's not any harder to run 26.2 miles than to run, say 5, but just takes longer. She continues to disagree with my line of thinking, but did cover the distance in around four hours. She had to fight through the conditions like everyone did that day but also with a stomach aliment the last 12 miles. Even more important than finishing, though, Pam impressed me with her months of training.

My day started off with a 3 hour 15 minute goal to finish in. I started off well enough, although spent more energy in the first seven miles due to the wind than I would have liked. I spent the next five miles running up the hills at just under a 3:20 finish time pace. At mile 12 I decided to carpe diem and accelerated to get down to my 3:15 goal. The winds were too strong for me that day though and I could feel myself slowing my mile 18. By mile 23, people were passing me in droves and it was all I could do to hold on to the finish line. My hubris in the early and middle miles ended up braking me by the end. I finished in 3:26:36.

My Garmin:
Mile 1: 8:21 (Avg Heart Rate 153)
Mile 2: 8:01 (167)
Mile 3: 7:21 (167)
Mile 4: 7:18 (166)
Mile 5: 7:19 (168)
Mile 6: 7:02 (166)
Mile 7: 7:09 (169)
Mile 8: 8:25 (170)
Mile 9: 8:05 (170)
Mile 10: 7:47 (168)
Mile 11: 7:54 (171)
Mile 12: 7:34 (168)
Mile 13: 7:23 (166)
Mile 14: 7:33 (166)
Mile 15: 7:10 (162)
Mile 16: 7:04 (163)
Mile 17: 7:30 (162)
Mile 18: 7:45 (157)
Mile 19: 8:10 (159)
Mile 20: 7:37 (159)
Mile 21: 7:37 (152)
Mile 22: 7:59 (156)
Mile 23: 8:20 (151)
Mile 24: 8:34 (140)
Mile 25: 9:30 (143)
Mile 26: 10:12 (125)
Mile 0.2: 9:04 pace (143)

Even though it wasn't the day that Pam or I had dreamed of, I'm thankful for the opportunity to have the experience. Our health has been excellent and thanks also to my parents who watched the kids while we had our little fun.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to School

Ahh, guilty pleasures. For some it may be chocolate. For me this year, it was having the kids head back to school. We had lots of fun as a family this summer including trips to out family reunion in Oregon and to Calgary. We had fun swimming and just hanging out. But, for the first time this year, the summer seemed a week or two too long.

As you can see from the picture, Megan now has a pair of glasses. She'd been complaining the end of last year that she couldn't see things sometimes. I tested her around the house and found that she couldn't read letters as well as I could so we decided to take her in for an eye checkup. We had a good time and she did the full eye evaluation and Dr. Sorenson, in our ward, thought that she might like the extra help of glasses for a while. For the eye minded around, her prescription was for +075 on the right and +50 on the left which, apparently, is not very much. Since she's starting 2nd grade and working to improve her reading we agreed and she got to pick herself a pair of frames out at Costco.

Abby is joining Meg in 2nd grade - although in different classes again this year. Blake is starting 4th grade. Amazingly, he's back in the same class as his friend Bryan. They've done 1st -4th together now. Josh was very excited to be headed back to St. Mark's for his 3 day a week preschool. He's feeling rather grown up and told Pam the first day back that he was going to skip the project and play until it was time for gathering.

Blake and Josh are playing soccer this year as well, Josh for the first time. We don't have a picture of Blake yet but I think Josh is looking good here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Canada Trip

We're home now from a great trip to Canada. Pam and the kids flew up a few days before I did. I was stuck back at home working which is never as fun as vacation. :) We try to make it up to Calgary at least twice per year and have been about that for the past few years. The highlight, of course, was visiting with family and watching the kids enjoy playing with cousins. There was a lot of swimming to be had, too.

Josh having fun with cousins on their water slide

Another highlight of our Canada excursions is a trip up to Banff National Park. We love to hike and enjoy being out in God's country. The mountains are majestic and there are lots of lakes to see and throw rocks into. Joshua was keen to find plenty of sticks along the trails. We spent one night in Banff, too.

In the village of Banff there is a candy shop that we never miss either. I'm not much of a candy or sweets person - but as you can see from Megan - most in the family are.

The Bow river runs through Calgary and Banff. We took an afternoon to have fun on the river with a canoe and paddle boat. Blake did some great rowing, the girls not so much. There were a lot of ducks out and about. Abby and Meg loved the little babies.

We all arrived home safely early this week. Pam and kids a day after me - again that work thing. The kids did well (I hear) on the return flight sitting two and two across a row with Pam behind. This week we've been able to enjoy more cousin time with both Aimee and Melissa in town.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Swim Summer

One of our big events for the summer has been swim team. I never liked swim team as a kid. A lot of that probably had to do to starting as a 13 year old. That was way too late and especially so because I probably was 10 year old size. I only lasted that one summer. So ..... beginning last year we had Abby, Meg and Josh swimming on the team.

Josh is actually a "Mini" which means he has lessons and is now swimming. He refuses to swim anywhere except the shallow end where he can touch, though. Monday we were at the pool in the evening and we were the only one's at the pool ( so no one could hear the screams). Being a big meany, I tossed him into the diving part of the pool and he swam his way out. He wasn't pleased but now reports that he can't walk in 9 feet but he can swim in 9 feet.

Josh with Mini coach Dexter



Abby and Meg have also been getting more and more confident this summer. Megan missed nearly all of last year with her broken arms but has been catching up to Abby this year. Last week at their swim meet they both set PR's in both free and back. Abigail is at 29.57 in the free and 29.25 in back. She loves backstroke and it's actually kind of odd to be faster in that. Megan did 32.27 in the free and 33.93 in the back. By comparison, last summer Abby was about 45 seconds in the free and Meg about 1 minute so they've made a ton of progress.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Family Reunion

The first week of July we spent some time in Oregon at our biannual family reunion. Back in medical school and residency we missed most of these gatherings so it has really been a treat to go the last few times. We all had a great time and no one got sick (which has happened in the past.) Our drive up and back was uneventful and as a bonus we got to stay and visit with Pam's sister Jackie.

Blake reports his favorite part was riding his bike around everywhere. The week before, Blake had gotten a new bike for his birthday (only 6 months late). It was a big step up as he's never had hand brakes only and gears to shift. We did a bit of practice on the sport court before leaving but he really came into his own at the reunion. The first day there he did a somersault down a short bushy hill but was unhurt and I think that gave him a bit of confidence.


Joshua loved playing with sticks and hanging out with cousin Bradley. Meg's favorite part was swimming. Abigail liked everything. One of the days the kids had a treasure hunt and we had to take some pictures.

One afternoon we couldn't find Joshua. We had seen him wandering off but now didn't know where he was. Pam and then I took turns on Blake's bike riding all through the camp but couldn't see him. Finally a cousin happened upon him asleep in their cabin and I had to take a picture. Their cabin was right next to ours so it looked like he got mixed up while trying to find his was back to take a nap.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Disneyland for the day

Quick trip down to Disneyland for the kids. I was working so Pam and the kids were accompanied by my mom and Kellyn with Drew Larson. They reported having a great time at the Happiest Place on Earth. It was a long day, though, as they were walking around the park until late into the evening.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rock Walls

With the house down and junipers out, we're delighted with our new rock walls. We decided to go with a lighter stone which has turned out very nicely. It looks like it was just hewn out of the quarry and dropped off in our front yard.

As a side note, Orinda just isn't the same town as I grew up in. A new group of teens has surfaced and I've recently dubbed them the PP gang. I haven't decided if I like the "Porta-Potty" or "Potty-Pushing" name better, though. For three weekends in a row, our porta-potty was tipped over by this nefarious group. We seem to have outsmarted them for the moment, however, with a few stakes holding it down.

Yosemite Get Away

To celebrate our 12th anniversary, Pam and I decided to hike Half Dome. We'd heard of a few other people doing it and we definitely thought it sounded like fun. Back at BYU, we'd climbed Mt. Timpanogos twice - summitting once - and enjoyed the climb-a-mountain-at-night adventure.

We left home Friday afternoon on our way to Yosemite and stopped in Modesto for some dinner. Driving a bit blind, we wandered around Modesto until until getting the bright idea of calling our friends who'd recently moved from there. We got some nice restaurant ideas and had some of our best nachos ever before driving the rest of the was to Fish Camp. I had only started looking for hotels about 2 days before and everything in Yosemite valley was booked so we ended up at the Tanaya Lodge.

We had planned to get up at about 4am but after getting upgraded to a suite when we arrived (they were about full as well) we felt like we needed to enjoy our room and "sleep in" until about 5. Pam and I reached the trail head parking lot about 6:30 and took a quick picture at the base of the Merced (I think) river before heading up.

We took about 3 1/2 hours up and another 3 1/2 hours back down and got a few fun pictures on the way. The final climb up to the summit is assisted by some cables placed in the mountain side. It's quite steep and my favorite part was coming back down the cables. There were a few others on their way up so I had to stop a few times but otherwise I ran down the whole section. Fun, fun.
Here we are a the two falls we hiked past. Vernal falls is the picture above and the "Mist" trail passes close enough to get sprayed like a light rain. On the right is the higher up Nevada falls.