Monkey Business

Max attempts to conquer the monkey bars…

Last fall, Max and I discovered this cool park near the house. Max calls it the “rock park”, because the walking paths between the different playground equipment is covered with small pebbles. Most of the other area parks use either wood or rubber mulch, so this makes it a little more interesting. Plus Max loves it when I make a small pile of pebbles at the bottom of the slide that he can crash through on his way down.

The playground is a fun mix of traditional playground equipment like swings, slides and monkey bars. But it also has some unique stuff like a floating balance beam, rock climbing walls, and these large tractor tires that kids can climb over and run across. Since we’ve been going there, Max’s nemesis has been the monkey bars. He’s watched as other kids swing their way across. He’s tried and tried, but he just couldn’t hold himself up long enough to swing himself to even one bar.

A few weeks back, I pointed out to Max that there was a low set of monkey bars in the corner of the playground. At first when he saw it, he said it was for babies. It’s only 4 bars and it’s only like 4 feet off the ground. Eventually I convinced him it wasn’t just for babies, and he practiced and practiced. Right before we left the park last week, he was able to swing himself across all four bars. We tried it on the taller monkey bars, and he made it across one bar, but then his grip gave out and he fell.
We were having some renovations done to the house, so we spent a lot of the day in doors on Saturday. The contractors finished up their work around noon on Sunday, so after lunch, Max and I head back out to the rock park while Rachel ran some errands. I noticed when we got there, he avoided the monkey bars. He did all the other stuff he enjoyed, but stayed clear of the monkey bars.
After about 3 hours at the playground, I got a call from Rachel. She said she was done with her errands and wanted to know if we were still at the park. I told her we were and a few minutes later she drove up to meet us there. When she got there, Max asked me to lift him up on the high monkey bars. This set is about 6 feet off the ground and has 8-10 bars that go across. I lifted him up, and much to our delight and amazement, he swung across all the way from one side to other like a  pro. Rachel and I watched in amazement. There was a little girl looking on with her grandparents, they cheered for Max as he made his way across. He was grinning ear to ear when he reached the final bar and made his way down. He was beaming. So proud of him, and it came just 5 days before his 5th birthday. WOOHOO!!

It’s so nice seeing kids grow and develop. Last year, in the fall there were several things on the playground that Max couldn’t do, but after a few trips back in the spring, he figured things out. I’m amazed at how he can conquer things as he gets a little bigger, stronger and more confident. He’s a lot like me in the sense that he fears the unknown. If it’s a new place, a new activity or a new person he’s meeting, he gets scared. But once he visits the new place, tries the new activity or meets the new person, he usually loves it.

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

A few weeks back, fellow blogger Kristin over at Run Runner Girl Run nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I don’t subscribe to a lot of blogs, but I do hop around to number of them from time to time. I wanted to thank Kristin for nominating me, and for motivating me with her posts about running.

Part of the process of being nominated is that you are supposed to write 7 things about yourself so your readers can learn about you. So here goes:

1) About 18 months ago, I started the couch to 5k running program. Since finishing I have logged over 500 miles and run in 5 races including a mud run, which was awesome. Hope to do my first 1/2 marathon next spring. Thanks to my love on technology, I’ve been able to use my phone to log my miles, track my pace, and see my improvements and milestones along the way. I will never be a world class runner, but I love that I am now able to run several miles whenever I want to and without much struggle. I feel healthier, I’ve lost a few pounds, and found a hobby I love. I would love to run in my races, but it gets boring running alone. Hoping to find a like minded, similarly aged and skilled person to run a few races with next year. At this age it’s hard to make new friends, so not sure that will happen. And with my social anxiety (more on that later), it won’t be easy.

2) I was born and raised in Queens NY, but have lived in northern Virginia for over 13 years. I feel much more “at home” here in Virginia. I still love going back to see family and friends in NYC, but after a few days, I get a little crazy in the big city. It’s nice to return home to the quiet, boring suburbs.

3) I love music and playing guitar. I love everything from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, to Willy Nelson, Pearl Jam and Metallica. If the songs are sung without autotune, and the artist plays their own instrument, I’m all in. I hate pop most pop music because it sounds so artificial and a little too perfect.

I bought my first guitar when I was about 14, and took some lessons, but never got very good. I can play a few chords, and know about 100 songs, but when I play them, they aren’t nearly as smooth and polished sounding as the originals. This doesn’t stop me from trying. One of these days, I hope to have enough spare time to practice a lot and take my playing to the next level.

4) I’m a shutterbug. I have always liked taking photos and preserving memories. I never had money to buy film and get photos developed when I was a kid, and I hated that you had to wait to see the results. Once the digital camera came along, I was hooked right in. I’m amazed at how far the technology has come along in the past decade. When Rachel and I got engaged, I had a 1.5 megapixel digital camera. 11 years later, I now have a 16 megapixel digital SLR, some studio lights and portable off camera flashes. Becoming a dad has given me a good excuse to polish my skills and take some great photos of Max. The first photo of Max was literally taken a few seconds after he was born. As soon the nurse cleared his airway and held him up, I snapped a photo of him in the delivery room. I think I took more pictures of him in the 1st month of his life than I had taken of me my entire childhood. I love the instant results and how I can tweak the photos and add effects. It appeals to my creative side as well as my geeky/tech side.

5) I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I keep a huge bottle of Purell in my desk drawer, and carry small bottles with me just about everywhere I go. I hate getting sick (who doesn’t), so things like shopping cart handles, door knobs, elevator buttons, and  gym equipment gross me out. Don’t even get me started on coins.

6) I’m “hard of hearing”.  My hearing has not been good for a while, but my wife noticed it was getting really bad and encouraged me to go to the doctor to get it checked out. When I got my hearing tested, they determined that I had really bad high frequency loss in both ears, especially bad in my right ear. The doctor was puzzled because she said most people who suffer from this are either much older than I am, or they are veterans who have been around artillery, or work construction jobs where they are around loud equipment. I have a particularly hard time understanding speech, especially those with higher voices like women and children.

I got fitted for a hearing aid about 3 years ago, but don’t wear it very often. I find it to be quite uncomfortable, and it only helps a little bit. It seems like when I wear it often, my brain gets used to it, and I start having trouble hearing again. The best results I get are when I don’t wear it for about a month and then put it back in. For the first few hours, everything sounds like it’s coming through loud and clear. But then over time, it seems like I get to that point where the amplified sound becomes normalized and I am back to having trouble hearing.

7) I’m a beverage lover. When I was a kid, I loved sugary drinks like fruit punch, soda and juice. As I’ve grown older, I don’t really like super sweet stuff anymore. I still drink soda occasionally, but usually limit myself to 1 every day or two. I was also on a sweet tea kick for a while, and drank it by the gallon. But drinking all that sugar was not very healthy, so I sort of weaned myself off by cutting back the amount of sugar I added. Now I’m too a point where I drink my iced tea with no sugar. I was never a coffee drinker, until I became a dad. Those first few months when I wasn’t getting much sleep, and had to be at work the next day, I started drinking a few cups to get through the day. A few years back I started enjoying trying different “craft” beers. I was never really a fan of beer until I discovered all the different kinds there were. Once I tried a number of different kinds, I discovered that I like citrusy wheat beer in the warm weather months, and Marzens, Stouts and Porters in the cold months. I don’t drink the beer to get drunk, I usually just have one beer a few nights a week at the end of the day to unwind. I enjoy the complex flavors and trying brews from around the country and the world. Flavored seltzer is my new obsession, which I just got into about a year ago. I wanted to drink more water, but I hate plain water. Seltzer has a little bit of bite to it thanks to the carbonation, and with all the flavors out there, it is much more pleasurable to drink. Cranberry lime is my current favorite.

Like I said, I don’t read a lot of the same blogs, so I only have a few nominations to hand out. Here they are, in no particular order

1) runrunnergirlrun.wordpress.com/

2) strobist.com

3) hikingphoto.com

4) eatwatchrun.com

5) greatmomentsinbadparenting.blogspot.com

6) anaturemom.com

Halloween

Halloween 2012 turned out to be pretty great. With hurricane Sandy coming through the area, I was nervous that it would be too windy and wet for the kids to trick or treat. When I woke up to go to work Wednesday, it was still very gray, damp and there was a light mist falling. Thankfully by the time the evening rolled around, it had warmed up a bit, the wind had subsided, and most importantly things dried up a bit. 

 Max saw his buddy Ziggy as school and they talked about trick or treating together. So after we ate, and Max had his costume on, the two of us walked down to Ziggy’s house to see if he was ready to go. Ziggy was dressed as DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba. Ziggy’s little sister Remi was dressed as a Lady Bug. 

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With Remi being so little, she only lasted about a block. Ziggy and Max were very gung ho and excited. Once Remi went in, they went door to door at top speed. Running up and down driveways, and running back all excited about what they got. After about 2 blocks, Ziggy and his mom (Becca) decided they had enough and they went in for the night. Max wanted to go to a few more houses, so we finished up our block, and did a few more houses around the corner and the next block over. By the time Max was finished, his trick or treat bag was so heavy, he was asking me to carry it. Quite a haul!

 

I’m glad Max got to trick or treat with a friend this year. This is his 4th Halloween trick or treating, and he’s come a long way. The first year, he wasn’t even a year old yet, so we pulled him a long in his wagon and carried him up to a few houses to get some candy. The next year, he was walking and talking, but a bit too shy to say trick or treat. Last year, he sort of got the concept, and said trick or treat and thank you most of the time. But he got bored after a while, and preferred sitting on our porch to hand out candy to the other kids, rather than going door to door to get more candy for himself. This year, he really enjoyed walking the neighborhood. Early on, Rachel and I took turns walking up to the front doors of the houses with him. After a few minutes, Max said he wanted to do it by himself. So we stayed back and watched from the sidewalk.  

 

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