Trip to Hawaii starts out as an adventure!

Over Spring Break this year, our family traveled to Hawaii to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary – and yes, we took the boys, too! Smile Last year, my sister-in-law and her husband had traveled to Kauai using some of our timeshare exchange points, but had not been able to do all that they had wanted. So we all decided we would go together this year! But instead of going straight to Kauai this time (like they did last year), we extended the trip a few more days and stopped in Honolulu first to see a couple of things.

Spring nope! WinterBecause of the timing of when each family bought airline tickets, we took different routes to get to Honolulu. Our family decided to fly out of San Francisco non-stop to Honolulu. That meant driving over the mountains (Lake Tahoe) to get to San Francisco for our flight. Just as fate would have it, our vacation trip became a family adventure from the get-go due to a sudden winter storm dumping 6 inches of snow on the mountain passes the night before our flight. This is typical of Reno spring-time weather – we get spring-like weather for late February and most of March, but when April comes, we get one last winter storm to remind us that Mother Nature is still in charge! Open-mouthed smile

We had a morning flight on April 1st – about 11 AM. We already had planned to drive to Pittsburg, CA and take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit – train/subway) from there to the airport, and we had planned on leaving plenty early from Reno to get there. Now with the impending winter storm coming in and hearing that the highway passes over the mountains were starting chain controls, we realized that we needed to leave Monday afternoon/evening and get over the pass that night. If we waited until morning like originally planned, the delays caused by slower traffic driving in the snow and cars stopping to put on and take off chains could potentially cause us to miss our flight. So we made a snap decision to pack up the car and head out, figuring we would find a place to stay in Pittsburg that night and make the morning trip to the airport stress-free. Luckily, we had spent Monday doing all of our packing for the trip and we were all ready to go anyway, so when I got home from getting my pre-vacation haircut and picking up Chinese food for dinner, we ate quickly and loaded up the car – the Mazda Tribute with 4-wheel-drive. (For those not familiar with snow conditions, most of the time when they have chain controls in this area, those with 4WD are exempt from needing chains. It has to be really bad snow conditions to require 4WD vehicles to use chains, too.)

It was the right decision leaving Monday night. We took our time getting to Pittsburg, got there around 9:30, and found a room at the Hilton Garden Inn for a reasonable price. Now we could really relax. We were out of the winter weather and could focus on catching our plane the next morning to wonderful Hawaii!

In the next several posts, I’ll share our photos and stories from our Hawaii trip. Smile

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Has our son found his sport?

It looks like Dragon Rider may have found the sport for him! He has just started taking Kung Fu classes and is more excited about it than he has ever been with any other sport, including swimming! And he seems to have a natural talent for the moves. The style he is learning is Choy Li Fut (that’s the Cantonese name) and is a mixture of styles from both the Southern and Northern Chinese Martial Arts styles. From Wikipedia:

the powerful arm and hand techniques from the Shaolin animal forms from the South combined with the extended, circular movements, twisting body, and agile footwork that characterizes Northern China’s martial arts..

He is so excited to learn this that he comes home and continues to work on forms and movements on his own – in other words, practicing! Because of his age and his size, he can attend both the teen classes and the beginning adult classes for a total of 5 classes/week. However, on Mondays there is both a teen class and an adult class, so he usually only takes one or the other. He won’t be allowed to start sparring until he moves up one level (and gets rid of the white sash! 🙂 ) It should take about 3-4 months to qualify for that. When he starts sparring, that will add another class each week.

You may remember that both boys did do some martial arts when they were little. That was Taekwondo, a Korean martial art developed in the 1950s by the South Korean military, and they were 6-7 years  old. This is very different (as martial arts go) and Mike is already learning so much. He is very interested in the weapons that he will eventually get to start learning in Kung Fu. The first will be a long staff (just a wooden stick or pole.) Don’t worry – the dangerous weapons are a long way off and they use practice weapons, anyway. 🙂

I took some pictures and videos of his 3rd class, the teen class, so that I could show you what he is learning. There were only 4 teens that day, including Dragon Rider. You can click on a photo to see a larger size. There are really a total of 6 videos, but I put them all together in a “playlist”, so when you are watching the videos, wait a second after the end of each video and the next one will automatically start so that you can see all 6 videos in a row.

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Blizzard Blast Swim Meet

This past weekend, Alex Rider had his first swim meet since October – and a very successful swim meet it was! Going into the swim meet, Alex Rider had already achieved a Junior Olympic Qualification time for his 50 Freestyle (short course, yards.) This meet, he added the 100 Breaststroke to his JO Qualifications! And every other event he swam, he achieved personal best times!

This meet had an odd schedule. Friday evening, when they usually only have a few long events, like the 1000 Freestyle and the 400 IM (Individual Medley), this time they included the 50 Freestyle (which many swimmers swim every meet!) So we drove down to Carson City (nearly an hour drive) so that Alex Rider could swim the 50 Freestyle! It was worth it, though, because he took 1.10 seconds off his previous (JO Qualification) time. Smile

The next odd part of the schedule was that Saturday (but not Sunday) was a prelims/finals day. So in the morning, he swam his chosen events (200 IM, 100 Breaststroke, 200 Freestyle) as prelims, then swam in a 400 Freestyle Relay, had a 2 hour break, and then swam Finals! For the 15-and-over age group, they had the top 8 swimmers for an event swim a Final and the 2nd 8 swimmers (ranked 9-16 in the morning prelims) swim a Consolation Final. Alex Rider swam 2 Consolation Finals (200 IM and 200 Free) and a Final for the 100 Breaststroke. All-in-all, he swam a total of 7 events on Saturday alone, made it back home by about 9 PM, turned around and went back to Carson City again the next morning. Sunday they didn’t do prelims/finals, so he only had to swim his 3 events (100 Free, 200 Breast, 500 Free) and a relay (400 Medley Relay.)

Some swim meets, they group the swimmers as 15-16 years old and 17-18 years old for purposes of place and ribbons, and other meets are setup so that all swimmers 15-and-over are grouped together. This meet was the latter, so effectively, Alex Rider was ranked against not only his age group, but the 17-18-year-old boys (men!) Alex Rider placed 5th in the 100 Breast, 7th in the 50 Free, 200 Breast, and 500 Free, and he was on the 1st place Medley Relay team. Here are his best times from this weekend, for those who might want to compare:

Event New time Change
50 Free 24.68 -1.10
100 Free 57.73 -1.63
200 Free 2:18.85 -14.71
500 Free 6:57.76 -1.22
100 Breaststroke 1:12.16 -3.96
200 Breaststroke 2:51.08 -9.54
200 IM 2:34.10 -4.56
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Daily Prompt: Colors

This gallery contains 5 photos.

In order to combine the Daily Prompt: Colors with today’s Zero-to-Hero challenge, I am creating a photo gallery (inserting a new object that I haven’t done before) with several pictures to display a variety of colors. These images are my … Continue reading

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A Facelift for My Blog

I am participating in this month’s Zero-to-Hero Challenge from WordPress. Each day, they give us an assignment of something to do to improve our blog. I think it’s really designed for true blog beginners, but some of the participants are more experienced or already have blogs like I do and it’s just a way for us to learn more about WordPress’s tools and how to use them.

Today’s assignment was to go through the available themes for sites and consider other themes for our site. I went through a bunch of them looking for something new that would still work for me and really couldn’t find anything better than what I have. But I did feel that after 4 years my site could use a little change just to make it a little fresher. So I searched for some new images for the background and header and changed them. I also reorganized my menus across the top of the site and cleaned up the right-hand column a bit to update it.

I am going to sit with this for a bit and see how I like it. Comments, anyone?

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