November 2014: Fall – My Favorite Season

The return of Fall each year is always special to me. Marked to the day by the birth of my oldest son, it is hard not to start off on the right foot. Will awash with smiles and joy as he’s surrounded by his favorite friends, family and free from the worry and concern that I blessed so graciously upon him 12 years ago. He took a bunch of his friends to Sky High Sports where they bounced and jumped on trampolines until they fell victim to the time limit and their adolescent hunger (the latter of which is hard to watch when that hunger is actually fed). We took in pizza at Empire Pizza where they were enamored with large volumes of pizza and the nice distraction of trivia. These 12 year olds did pretty darn good at 80s trivia to boot! Then to the tenuous sleepover. The same sleepover that each year we say we will never do again. The noise, the lack of sleep, the smells…But alas we braved it and guess what? It was pretty great. Behavior was largely self-regulated, bedtime was established within the group (trampolining had to have helped here) and no disagreements. Pretty dreamy as far as sleepovers are concerned.

Additionally, fall brings cooler temperatures which are always welcome when you drive a car that lacks air conditioning through a southern summer – looks like you get to stay one more year Mr. Saabie.  Way to be.  Lastly, colors go from bright greens to vibrant reds and oranges which still amazes me after seeing nothing like it my first 20 years of life in Florida.

The great part about this fall has been the amount of time we are spending on our new back porch with shade, fires, s’mores and family.  

Fall also signifies the start of school, soccer for Will and Charlie this year and a new season of the YMCA Fort Mill Adventure Guides group we started a few years back. Will’s soccer has really challenged him and conditioned him this year – he’s in fantastic shape and learning more about soccer than I ever knew existed. While he’s challenged, I really appreciate that he is enjoying the process of learning and improving. The amount of improvement both Will and his team has made under his coach has been incredible. These kids are playing 11v11 on a full-sized pitch (the actual name of a soccer field, who knew?) and learning formations, pace and control of play. It has been mostly fun, but admittedly, at times a bit stressful to watch. Charlie’s team was quite a bit less stressful and a joy to watch him run with a constant smile pasted on his face. He loves moving, running, kicking so soccer has been a great fit. He was a goal-scoring machine to boot! Ok, so maybe the lack of a goalie on the field helps that a bit…

When I think about Adventure Guides I am most proud at how much Stewart seems to enjoy it. One of my proudest accomplishments as a Dad (so far!) has been watching my only girl gravitate to nature. While I realize unlikely, her natural pull to play in the woods and dirt with her friends gives me hope that she may one day come to me and say these magical words: “Daddy, I think I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail.” At which point I’m going to smile my biggest smile and respond: “Would you mind too terribly much if your old man tagged along with you?”   Yes, I understand the chances here are low, but I appreciate the allowance to dream. And seriously, if it happens – life will just have to go on hold for those five months while I live out my biggest dream with that amazing girl! We are batting .500 this year with Adventure Guides camping – a trip to Westminster on the Catawba river was a huge success with over 75% of the Dads/kids attending. Our 2nd trip to the ASC Greenway was unfortunately rained out with 2 days of constant rain and 30 degree temperatures. I never like making a decision to bag the event but it was the right decision given the conditions.

This year Fall has brought on a couple of other good notables:

  • For the first time in my 41 years on Earth I got Red Cross CPR-certified! Six Dads from the Adventure Guides group took the course – feels good to be able to respond, god forbid, if needed. I can even use a AED Defibrillator.  The Red Cross has a pretty good website and set of documents to help here if you are interested in a quick tutorial or finding out how/where to get trained. 
  • I ran my 5th fastest marathon at St. George, Utah in early October. You can read about it here and see a log of all of my times here – caution – drowsiness/boredom can be encountered by clicking these links. If you ever want to run a race in an unbelievably majestic setting and on a super-fast course, then the St. George Marathon is for you. Additionally, I daresay you won’t run in a better organized running event – after 30+ tries, this group has perfected the art.
  • A rare work note here: My team spent the last 8 weeks planning an offsite. What’s an offsite you ask? This is where a bunch of Senior Leaders go into a conference location and hold an extended meeting “off site” from our normal work environment. In this case 75 leaders from around the world (e.g. London, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Costa Rica, etc.) met in NYC for 2 days where we produced a heck of a meeting if I do say so myself. 12 agenda topics, several speakers from the Executive Management team at our company, a hot dog stand brought into the hotel for lunch (huge hit!) and my favorite, a service event where the team (in our suits with aprons and camouflage shirts) built 25 bikes to donate to families who have a parent serving in the military overseas. The tear-jerking presentation of these bikes with the USO to the kids and their parent was one of the bigger highlights of my 20 year career!

 

So, that’s largely our life so far this fall. Thanks for reading – I realize writing on this blog is more for me than you, which makes me appreciate you reading it even more. Now off to pay the price of fall – leaf raking!!

Click here for a slideshow of other random November and October occurrences.  

Click here for a slideshow of some of the good things that occurred in the last 2 months.

Next posts:  Halloween and our Charleston Trip!

 

 

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Grateful for 9…but please slow it down!

 

My little girl turned 9 this month.  While so far we have a million good memories and smiles it dawned on me shortly after her birthday that in the same amount of time she’ll be in college!  What!?!?!  Makes me shake my head.  It all is going by so very fast.  This isn’t so much a surprise as it is a reality.  Most people I know who have older kids have told me regularly to embrace every second as it goes by so very fast.  I’m here to tell you that so far they are right.

What I also know is this sweet 9 year old girl has taught me so much more than she knows.  She’s taught me that nearly every event that involves leaving the house should excite me to the point of jumping up and down.  She’s taught me to love bubble gum pop music, so much so that I run with many of her favorite songs in my running playlist.  She’s taught me to love more deeply.  Her tears in movies when a good character gets hurt makes me tear up.  She’s taught me to be bolder.  Wearing mismatched sock like no one cares is liberating and fun.  Who knows, I might even start wearing bright socks to work with my suits – it looks like fun.  She’s taught me know matter how smart I think I am I’ll never fully understand women.  She’s also taught me that a hug and a kiss can make everything ok.

She’s one of a kind filled to the brim with awesome.  I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Her birthday events lasted only about 10 days this year, down from roughly 3 weeks last year. 🙂  First at 1×1 sleepover with her good friend Lucy.  Then the family party at Thi’s Vietnamese in Rock Hill on her actual birthday.  Side note for locals:  eat at this restaurant and don’t order from the menu.  Ask Thi to choose for you and to prepare something nice.  We’ve never had anything we didn’t like yet rarely have experienced any of the food she serves.  Along with the cake we brought, she made homemade donuts with tons of powdered sugar which Stewart absolutely loved!  Then a lunch party at her school.  Then a skate party at Kate’s Skates in Rock Hill.  Yep – mom and dad skating in all our glory.  We learned that the skating rink smell is unchanged in 25 years.  I also learned that I might actually be a better ice skater than roller skater (this is a low bar).  Stewart loved every second of it – 10 girls yipping and yapping about a rink for hours.  I still loved seeing Stewart spend time with the weaker skaters to make sure they didn’t feel left out – she’s got a good heart.

Lastly, Stewart and I enjoyed a Daddy/Daughter date to witness some amazing high school girls receive awards for their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math abilities.  We dressed up and had a fancy dinner at the Ritz in downtown Charlotte.  Memorable good times for just the two of us.

She seemed to have a great few days.  See for yourself – slideshow of her birthday can be found here.

We’ve had a fun month in March…see other random events in this slideshow.

 

 

November 2013: Eating and Running, Running and Eating

Our November has been a fun month.  Two main themes emerged from our goings on:  Eating and Running.  Cindy has been a Girls on the Run (GOTR) coach this fall for Stewart and about 12-14 other girls around her age.  This is a pretty great cause – all about building confidence in young ladies through running in an environment where they aren’t constantly competing or having to measure up to boys.  It is NOT about winning but instead about finishing.  NOT about time or distance but instead about doing your best.  NOT about beating others but instead enjoying the journey with others and building each other up in the process.  Cindy with her good friend Tracy have put in 9o minutes for two nights a week since September plus preparation of the lesson they spend time on each meeting.  They were great coaches.  Cindy doesn’t know this, but just watching her do this inspired me – she’s nothing short of amazing.  During these meetings the girls also build up their endurance with the culminating point being a local 5k (The Reindeer Romp) where there is not clock and only Girls on the Run girls and their coaches and families.  Roughly 1,500 of them at the Rock Hill event!  Their GOTR group even had a mascot:  Charlie!  He attended most of the practices, mostly because his Dad couldn’t get home from work in time to watch him (Bleh!), and decided rather than sit around and watch he’d join in on the running.  As a result, he ran the entire Reindeer Romp at the age of 4 and finished!  Stewart was running a minimum of 2 nights a week with GOTR and finished the Reindeer Romp with a great effort.  She’s so amazing because while running she manages to socialize just as she does when she’s not running.  Will made a point of timing his 5k Reindeer Romp (that’s my boy!) and finished with a time of 26 minutes.  Let me brag for one moment:  I have three awesome kids.

Thanksgiving in Columbus was all about the Panda.  There were lots of other great things like great food, good company, the first Thanksgiving in years where my entire family was together and my Aunt Dian and Cousin Shani/Joe and Shelby was down.  They also brought their cute dog Maggie who was a fan favorite amongst everyone.  Maybe one of the sweetest dogs I’ve been around.  But back to this Panda.  Charlie and I were out back playing golf and we saw the Panda.  Apparently the guy in the Panda suit and his sons who were home from college, wandered out back to see whether a guy in a Panda suit could play golf (he could).  When he wandered up to the hole my parents live on my Cousin Joe, the Game Warden (no, the irony was not lost on us), politely asked him to join us inside where we took about 100 pictures of this guy.  Sitting at our Thanksgiving table, surrounded by family, etc.  It had us laughing for the rest of the day.  Not sure how we’ll top it next year.  Maybe Albert the Gator pays us a visit? Mickey Mouse?  Sir Purr from the Panthers?

Another big event in November, ok early December, was Charlie’s test for his Yellow Belt.  He’s diligently worked through all of the White Belt (the first belt) requirements and as the youngest person in the class at this time, he decided he was ready to test.  Hand techniques memorized?  Check.  Count to 10 in Korean?  Check.  Break some wood with a hammer chop?  Check.  On the first try?  Check!  He was as proud of this accomplishment of any so far in his life.  He had a big crowd watching him and could bring many to chuckle as he stepped through the class process maybe one half step behind the teacher and class.  Did that bother him?  Not one bit.  He yelled his “Hi-Yahs” as loud as he does as if he was right where he needed to be.  The definition of a proud dad is knowing your son is a slight step behind and being as proud as you can because he’s out there doing it on his own and not worrying one bit about anything else.  Makes me wonder what happens to us along the way to lose this spirit?  We are born with awesome.  We should all do everything we can to keep our awesome and not take others.

One final note.  I ran a unique race last weekend in Croft State Park near Spartanburg.  It was a 24 hour race called the One Epic Run of which I ran for 7 hours and 22 minutes (6 hours 40 minutes of running/moving time) and 35 miles before heading back home for date night.  While some may question my priorities, I rarely miss a date night.  The unique part here wasn’t the race format or distance but rather the charity that the event was supporting:  Eleonore Rocks.  This Charity provides rockers to families who have children born with very little time to live on this earth (hours and days).  I got weepy at the start of this race hearing about this cause.  There are so many wonderful people doing really wonderful things in this world.  This was just another example.  Trying to bring a little comfort to people who likely have nearly no ability to see comfort in their current situation.  I was touched.  If you want to learn more check out the link above.  Makes me want to do more wonderful things and support those doing wonderful things for others.  That. Is. All.

Stewart Turns 8 (and Grandpa turns 8+62)!

   

Sounds more timely and exciting than it really is.  See normally, at minimum, you can count on this blog being, if nothing else, a chronological review of life in Sutton-ville.  Not so fast!  Timeline trickery!  See, Stewart’s birthday was in March…BEFORE The Masters post, yet I am only now posting about it…AFTER the Masters post. Sneaky, I know.  I could have really messed with the minds of the 15 readers of this blog and put our Spring Break stuff up before Stewart’s birthday and after The Masters but, alas, I won’t get crazy…

She’s 8.  All of it.  My daughter is 8.  She’s amazing.  Goofy.  Funny.  Sometimes a bit too full of attitude.  Most of the time she’s brimming with awesome.  This year she had a camp out celebration with the Adventure Guides on Copperhead Island, a small sleepover with Krispy Kreme donuts a week later and then a trip to see Taylor Swift in the arena in Charlotte.  Pretty big 3 week extravaganza, I’d say.  On a slight aside, Stewart and I (and her buddy Kylie) enjoyed Taylor Swift (me more than I thought I would) but really thought Ed Sheeran stole a bit of the show with his loop pedals (look it up).  Taylor Swift does really knows her audience and impressed me with her ability to show the young kids a good example who seemed very appreciative of their support.  Even if it is all an act and comes falling down in a pit of Lindsay Lohan/Brittany Spears failure, she did a good job of doing no harm and inserting very little in the way of questionable-ness into her show.  I, the father of an 8 year old who took her to said show, am very thankful for that.  As a 40 year old, my ear drums will never recover from the high-pitched squealing of said target audience.  In addition to the fun of her birthday and the birthday season, we have also successfully completed the birthday cake detox after what seemed like 2-3 months of non-stop cake product intake.

Not much else going on here.  About 8 more weeks of school and then we head to HHI for vacation.  Oh yeah, I got a new job at the bank.  After 27 months, it seemed like a good time for a change.  I’m pretty lucky and grateful to have the choice of career movement.

Click here for a slideshow of the 8 year old birthday extravaganza.

Click here for a slideshow of the 8 year old at the Taylor Swift concert.

Click here for a slideshow of the 8 year old camping at Copperhead Island.

Lordy, Lordy…

 

…CINDY’S (finally) 40!  If you don’t know my family very well then you probably don’t realize that we spend almost as much time eating cake during the months of February and March as we do sleeping.  In the year 2013 we not only ate cake, but we officially said goodbye to Cindy’s uphill climb in life and welcome in her downhill slide.  Too morose?  Ok, we officially welcome the start of her 3rd score…that’s right her 5th decade.  The big 4-0.  What ever you want to call it, at very minimum, she’s once again as old as I am.  This old starts with a 4 and ends with a 0.  🙂

Like most things, Cindy’s approach to 40 was built on strength and determination.  Strength and determination in the form of 60 days of Insanity.  As in the video workout craze.  Best I can tell this is a series of videos where the instructor makes you do things that are quite hard for the average human.  Once you have the hang of it he makes you do them faster and faster for longer and longer.  Like one of those music videos that speeds up as it goes along, this guy proceeds to make a mockery out of fairly in-shape humans.  I’ll give this guy credit as he is one of the first exercise puppeteers who shows people on his video who can’t do everything.  Meaning these people are gasping and choking and taking breaks like I’d be doing if I were doing it.  Here’s the amazing thing:  Cindy blows through 60 days of this video without so much as a squawk.  I join her for one day and can’t stop talking about how coordinated you have to be to do this and how some of the exercises aren’t possible for the average human.  Not only did Cindy knock out the first 60 days prior to turning 40, but she’s decided to repeat the 60 days again.  Crazy with a capital ‘C’.  So why’d she do this you ask?  Because someone mentioned to her that the body you enter your 40s with is the body you go to the grave with.  If so, she’s going to be leaving this earth (hopefully way down the road BTW) with the body of a very in shape 25 year old.

For Cindy’s birthday I got a wild hair to set up a series of surprises.  Dangerous given the regular advice I have been provided by the birthday subject herself to never, ever partake in the ritual of surprising said subject for her birthday.  I took this advice and didn’t surprise her one time.  I surprised her twice.  I think she was, as Charlie would say, a ‘yiddal’ surprised.  Surprise #1:  Dinner with a few friends at Enso’s in Uptown Charlotte.  Cindy and I were staying one night at the Ritz (this was not part of the surprise) on the remarkable BAC rate (a pleasant surprise, but not one of THE surprises) and I suggested we get Sushi at Enso’s.  We arrive and 4 long-time, great friends were awaiting us at the table.  Surprise #1.  Check.  From there, after a great dinner/dessert I suggested we use a ‘gift card I had received as a reward at work’ at the Wooden Vine.  Upon walking in you see Cindy piecing it together.  There’s someone I know.  There’s someone else I know.  Wow, coincidence that they are both here…BOOM!  A right hook to my shoulder and me quickly suppressing my flight response tears later and…surprise #2.  Check.  20-25 of her friends from the ‘hood awaiting her arrival.  Likely another 40 years before I pull a stunt like this, and potentially Physical Therapy rehab for my right shoulder, but well worth it.  Good times.

In addition to the birthday surprises we celebrated Cindy’s Mom’s birthday and Stewart’s reconciliation on this same February weekend.  See slideshow pictures below of both events.

Click here for a slideshow of Cindy’s 40th

Click here for a slideshow of Stewart’s Reconciliation

February 2013 – Charlie’s 4th Birthday and what could be my laziest post ever…

 

 

It is March.  I started to write the post in mid-February.  My last post was January.  We’ve been busy.  With what you ask?  Check out the slideshows below and see.  In addition to things with pictures, the last few months had things without pictures (my 50k race, Stewart’s Student of the Month presentation, Cindy’s completion of the Insanity workout [she never missed a day!] and endless lego creations with Charlie) – for these things use you will be required to use your imagination.  Enjoy!

 

Click here for a slideshow of Charlie’s 4th Birthday

Click here for a slideshow of our trip to Hawksnest (Snow Tubing!)

Click here for a slideshow of our first real snow of 2013

Click here for our Adventure Guides Trip to Morrow Mountain State Park

 

 

Nov 2012 – Milestones

 

 

What does the number 40, Plus 1, and 16 have in common?  They all represent an odd milestone that I covered off on in November 2012.

40…nope, not my age in November (although at the time I am writing this I can no longer say this), but rather the number of marathons I have run after completing the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte on November 17.  Some golfers want to shoot their age – as an aside I never understood why middle-aged men thought this was so tough until I realized it was for 18 holes – I ran my age.  Since the age of 22 when I ran my first marathon at the Disney Marathon in 1995 I have managed to run and complete 40 marathons.  An average of just over 2 per year which seems low since I had a few years of 5 marathons…guess I also had a few years of only 1 a year too.  Not exactly a hugely meaningful stat but it does mean that if I average 1 marathon a year for the rest of my days I’ll always be able to say I ran my age.  I’ve tried to catalog my running stuff over the years – some years better than others.

Some other stats 40 marathons represent:

  • Roughly 150 hours of race-logged running.  About 10x that in training hours.
  • 1048 miles of race-logged running.
  • Considering I’ve averaged about 1000 miles a year this means over the past 18 years I’ve run nearly 18,000 miles.  Roughly 6 cross-country trips.

Plus 1.  My new status with Cindy having returned to work full-time.  This November I attended my first Plus 1 perk – trip to Kiawah Island complements of her work.  We stayed at The Sanctuary.  Not. Too.  Shabby.  I can’t coin the term – I think I stole it from “30 Rock” or something like that.  Nonetheless living the life of a kept man was good but admittedly took some getting used too.  Cindy had work events and I got left behind.  Never really thought much about those times when I left Cindy behind.  I’ll think more about those times going forward. Nonetheless I spent time catching up on reading, running, playing golf and walking about shops…actually surprisingly dreamy time.  The Sanctuary for those of you who haven’t been is pretty darn swank.

16 you ask?  That’s number of steps it took for me to make cheese.  Could have used the #5 as that was the number of days it took just to get the cheddar cheese to the aging stage.  60-90 represents the number of days it will age before I know whether I have made something good or something that could actually harm me.  I’ll eat the first slice and wait a day before opening my concoction up on the family.

Pictures of this fun stuff can be found at the links below.  Life is good…even the turning 40 part – more on this later as I head out to celebrate that very event as we speak!

Click here for a slideshow of the 2012 Thunder Road Marathon (my 4oth – my sister-in-law’s 1st!)

Click here for a slideshow of our travels to Kiawah (Plus 1)

Click here for a slideshow of some of my cheese pics (16 long steps to cheddar cheese aging in 5 pictures)