Tag Archives: childhood

Mid Summer Check In

So the summer is about half way done. Max starts school in about 4 weeks. I thought it would be a good time to write. So far the summer has been great. It’s nice not having a rigid schedule like we do during the school year. Max enjoys staying up later. And it’s nice not running from ball field to ball field for games and practices. Although fall baseball starts up in just a few weeks.

Staying up later, and late sunsets have allowed us to do some late night swimming, toad/frog hunting, and firefly catching. Thankfully, Max hasn’t been as adiment this year about catching slugs. Last summer he was obsessed with slugs and snails. They are so gross and slimy, I really don’t like them at all. I have to admit that catching the toads has been kind of fun. We wait till about 9PM and we head out with flashlights and headlamps and a small plastic habitat. There have been nights where we searched for an hour and found nothing. There have been nights when we find 2 toads in the first 5 minutes. We usually catch them, Max observes them, we take photos, and then the next morning we release them.

We’ve also done a bit of stargazing. Last week, a co-worker mentioned the International Space Station. And I remembered that I had an app on my phone that tracks the ISS, and alerts when it is nearby and visable. So I re-enabled the alarms. Sure enought around 9PM on Friday night, I got an alert that the ISS would be passing by in 5 minutes. Rachel, Max and I headed out to take a look. About 9:05, we saw a small dot in the distance. In a few minutes the dot became bigger and easier to see. It was the ISS! That same night, we also saw a shooting star and the awesomely bright “blue moon”.

Max and I have gotten really close this summer. Sometimes with school, and sports, it seems like all we do is run around. It’s been nice, spending quality time with him this whole summer. Instead of running around from place to place, we have been leisurely doing different things. Like neighborhood bike rides, swimming, playing with water balloons, and gardening. In the spring, I saw a cool YouTube video about “earth buckets”. They are 5 gallon buckets that you use to grow vegetables. You drill a series of small holes and put a net pot on the bottom. The water wicks up through the holes and into the wicking cup which provides the perfect amount of water to the roots. I watched a few videos and kind of pieced the best aspects of each together and we built 5 of these buckets. We used 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot. We planted two types of tomatoes (roma and grape), two buckets with cucumbers, and 1 with bell peppers. We’ve had varying rates of success. The cucumbers have grown a little too well. They have gotten so large, that they are hard to manage. The roma tomatoes looked promising. The plant grew very full and had lots of flowers. However, as the tomatoes formed and then ripened, most of them got a dark black spot on them like they rotted. We’ve been picking them before they fully ripen, and that seems to help. So far we’ve gotten about 2 dozen roma tomatoes. About 15 cucumbers, and about 10 peppers. The grape tomatoes have grown amazingly well. We’ve probably gotten close to 100 tomatoes from that plant. The plant is huge and has dozens of flowers still. It’s been producing fruit for 6 weeks now. It’s been a fun project to do with Max. He enjoys watering the plants and checking for new vegetables each day. And since he loved cucumbers, he has enjoyed eating the “fruits” of his labor. Next year, I plan on doing these again. Maybe try some other fruits and vegetables.

Max has also had some fun playdates with some of his friends from his baseball team, and school, and he even got together with his friend Brody that he went to pre-school with. Max and I have always been close. But sometimes when we are super busy, we focus more on the activities and less on each other. It’s nice that he is now at the age where we can have conversations, and I can teach him things, and we can share laughs together. I love the way he giggles when I chase him in the pool when we play “water tag”, and when I make “monster waves” in the pool. It’s also funny watching as his sense of humor develops.

Max has also taken a real liking to skating. He goes roller skating almost every week. The local roller rink has fun summer events for the kids, so he got to skate with the Minions, did a “super hero skate”, and some other cool open skate events. He also tried ice skating again when we were on vacation. He’s definitely better and more comfortable on roller skates, but seems to enjoy doing both. The local ice rink has open skating, so I would like to take him a few times so he can continue to practice and get better. Max and I also tried rock climbing for the first time at this cool indoor facility. Max took a real liking to this as well. Rachel’s brother used to rock climb, so the next time we go, we will take him along so he can give us some pointers. It’s fun watching Max try things, and of course, it’s fun when I can try them along with him. I’m enjoying all of this immensely. The time will come, when Max doesn’t want to do things with Dad anymore, and will want to do more with his friends. So I’m happy that he still likes doing stuff with me and has fun while doing it. And we live in an amazing time, where we have cameras and social media to capture and share it all.

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Father & Son Fishing Fun

There are times when I feel very close to Max, and times when I feel like work, and life get in the way. Lately, things at work have been completely nuts. Working 12 hour days, late night maintenances, calls in the middle of the night. It has not been fun. So between working so many hours, and being run down and tired, I probably haven’t been as fun, or nice as I usually am. I’ve been feeling very guilty about this.

With Max now on summer vacation, we are dependent on my mother-in-law to look after him during the day when Rachel and I are at work. She was up in Pennsylvania for a birthday party over the weekend, and wasn’t home on Monday. So I took the day off to look after Max. And boy was it a great day.

The day started off by Max crawling into bed with me and giving me a hug. I guess he was happy to see me. We chatted for a bit, and then I asked him what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to go fishing. We tried fishing a few times two summers ago, and at the time he was only 4, so he wasn’t exactly patient. He’s still not the most patient person, but he’s much better now than he was back then. I’m not much of an outdoorsman either. I never went fishing before, so most of what I knew I learned by watching fishing shows on TV and YouTube videos. So I wasn’t very confident we would catch anything. But I had nothing better planned, so I said sure we can go fishing.

So after breakfast, I got the fishing poles out of the garage, tied some new hooks onto the fishing line, and we headed down to a nearby lake to try fishing. I bought some night crawlers, bated the hooks, and for the first hour, absolutely nothing. No nibbles at the bate or anything. Then suddenly, I felt something tug at my line. I pulled, and sure enough, I had a fish. Not the mightiest of fish, but it was something. I told Max to grab our net, and I reeled the fish in. About a 4 inch sunfish. Max was way excited.

We got the hook out of the fish’s mouth, I filled our bucket with lake water and we dumped the fish inside. Max couldn’t stop looking at the fish. He was thrilled. I told him he should try to get a fish of his own. After a few minutes, he picked his pole up and dropped the line into the water. He was still a bit impatient, reeling the line in quickly and casting it back out over and over. Then a girl who was working at the marina walked over and started talking to Max. She was probably 16 or 17. She was asking him questions about fishing, and how old he was, and whether he was going to eat the fish we caught etc. It kept his mind occupied for a bit, so he kept his line in the water. Then I heard him yell “Daddy!” I looked over and his fishing pole was bent at the tip. He had a fish! I asked if he wanted help, and he said “No, I can do it”. I saw him cranking away and reeling the fish in. Before I knew it, he was lifting his pole and dropping the fish into bucket. Not only did he catch the fish all by himself, the fish he caught was way bigger than the one I caught hehe.

He had caught about a 6 inch sunfish. He was so proud and the girl at the marina congratulated him and said he did a great job. I snapped a photo of him holding his catch, and we sent the photo to Mommy. She was equally as thrilled.

When we got home, we cleaned up, ate some lunch and watched the World Cup. Max was still beaming and so proud. I was pretty proud too. It was one of those magical moments, that was so special. Maybe if I was an experienced fisherman myself, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the fact that he it was sort of a new experience for the both of us, and we both got to share the moment together was awesome. It’s a memory I won’t forget anytime soon. I hope this is the first of many special moments Max and I have over the summer.

 

I got one!
I got one!

 

No more training wheels

Yesterday was a “historic” day for Max. One of Rachel’s friends from work got her tickets to see Pink in concert, so Thursday night it was just Max and I. Over the past 2 weeks or so, he’s really loved riding his Razor scooter, or as Max calls it “two wheeled scooter”. He had the concept of balancing the scooter down pat, so I thought it was time to have him try to ride his bike without training wheels.

Two years ago, we got him a 14 inch bike. It was the perfect size for him at the time. Now he’s bigger, so he’s sort of outgrown that bike. So we ended up getting him a new bike for his birthday. A larger 16 inch model. Since it was bigger and heavier, it meant Max had to pedal harder, and with the training wheels on, he would get frustrated. It seemed like he was pulling a cinder block behind him. Since the new bike is larger, it’s also more bike that he has to “handle” and control.

So Thursday night, as he rode his scooter, I went into the garage and removed the training wheels from his trusty old 14 inch bike. The bike he felt confident on. At first when I told Max to hop on, he wanted no part of it. Then I told him to just put his feet on the ground and to push himself with his feet, don’t worry about pedaling. As soon as he did that, and got a little speed going, the bike balanced itself and he was rolling for a few seconds.

I new we needed more room, so I told him to hop on his scooter and to head down to Uncle Jon’s house. Rachel’s brother Jonathan lives just down the street, in a quiet cul de sac. The pipestep that leads down to the 5 houses on his block, is probably about 200 feet long, straight and flat. So once we got down to the pipestem, Max rode his scooter to the bottom of the hill and I told him to hop on his bike. I have him a little push to get him started, he started pedaling and boom, he was off. I was so proud.

He still has some troubles turning, but he learned how to brake and turn with the training wheels pretty quickly, so I’m sure with a little more practice, he will be turning like a pro. The one problem is that Rachel wasn’t around to see it. So tonight, I plan on meeting her down at Uncle Jon’s house with Max’s bike, so he can show off his skills.

I’m glad Max picked things up pretty quickly. I always envisioned that classic movie moment, where the dad is holding the back of the seat, running along the side bike, then he lets go and the child takes off on their own. I didn’t have to do any of that running behind the bike stuff, Max just needed a little push, and once he got a little speed going, he was off and running.

He’s asked for a skate ramp and skateboard for Easter. If we decide to get those two things, I think knee and elbow pads need to be purchased as well. Especially once it warms up and he starts wearing t-shirts and shorts.