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.

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October 2013: 3 Gen Hike – A Tradition Established

Our 2nd ever Three Generation Hike on the Appalachian Trail took place a few weeks back.  Such a cool experience for Dad, Will and me and now officially a tradition.

It seems like each of the last few times I have sat down to write this post it has been after yet, ANOTHER Florida Gator football, although it doesn’t really resemble football, loss.  I sit down, start to gather my thoughts and my disappointment in this so called team sneaks back in.  It is just football, right?  Not really.  It is SEC football which means it is a disease placed in you upon day one of college and sticks with you until you die.  Maybe longer.  Oddly, this disease doesn’t apply for nearly any other sport. While I’m at it I owe an official apology for the bad-mouthing I have provided to FSU fans over the past 10-15 years.  While your regular season conference schedule is still and will likely always be a joke, I, and my University of Florida brethren can no longer call it out given our recent loss to Georgia Southern.  Do you know what Georgia Southern’s mascot is?  That’s ok, no one else did either until yesterday (they are the Eagles BTW).  

 

 Truth be told, I fear the whoopin’ you will place upon our arses next weekend.  I’ll read about it on Sunday – I have grass to watch grow.

Wow…slight side trip there…let’s get this car back on the road.  Three Gen Hike.  3rd Generation Hike.  3GHike.  Whatever you want to call it the experience is quite unique.  Load a backpack on three generations of Suttons and set off into the woods for 15 miles or so over 2 nights.  Add some light rain, dropping temperatures, traffic to get there resulting in a 10:30pm first step onto the trail and it gets even more interesting.  Most of this could crater the event except for the fact that we all want this.  We likely want it for different reasons.  Will wants me to see how strong he can be (I’m impressed for the record) as he carries his own sleeping bag, clothes, snacks and pad.  I want my Dad to see what he has done by introducing hiking to me.  He has given me the right to introduce it without fearing it to my kids.  And my Dad, well, he’s almost always game.  A never say no kind of a guy.  I need to remember to ask my Dad what he gets from the hike.  It’s likely just plain enjoyment.  Both trips have been awesome.  The terrain is not a slam dunk – we have jumped into the section coming out of Georgia that starts to feel out the 5,000+ footers on the way to the 6,000 foot Smokies.  I’m proud of the boy Will is and the man he has the chance to become.  There is some sense in me that says if I just let him take what comes to him he will do crazy impressive things!  It is me who can limit this and in all honesty, I have to check myself on this more regularly…We have some pretty amazing kids.

This trip was great.  15 miles.  1 on Friday night at 10:30.  10-11 on Saturday and 3-4 on Sunday.  We tented the first night and we slept in the Wayah Shelter with a guy who was going north over the winter.  He’ll have to get his stuff together a bit more than he had it to make it.  Oddly, he was the first hiker I’ve ever seen hiking with a duffle bag slung over his shoulder.  Crazy innovative or just crazy?  Not sure it would have met the Blue Duck or Ironweed test.

I hope we can continue this for years to come – it is an amazing time spent with some of my favorite things:  my Dad, my son (and eventually one days Sons and Daughter) and nature.  Pretty good life we all have.  Thanks Pops (and Mom)!

Click here for a slideshow of the hike.

Summer 2013 – Part 2 – Our Lives

 

This summer seemed to step up the level of activities our kids enjoyed. We are really very lucky to be able to give our kids a) choices of activities and b) multiple activities to do over the summer. By the end of June I would have placed money on the fact that the favorite camp of the summer was going to be Stewart's Little Mermaid camp where she learned and performed a big chunk of the play in the span of a week or Camp Grammy and Poppy where they all spend a week in Columbus at a place I affectionately refer as the 'spoiling machine.' The latter consists of golf, ice cream, movies, ice cream, shopping ice cream, swimming, ice cream…you get the drill… But along came the ASC Greenway camps (the Adventure Seekers camp for Will and Stewart and the Little Critters camp for Charlie) where after a week the kids all deemed these the “BEST CAMPS EVER!” We loved them because the price was right, the experiences were priceless and best of all, most of it was spent outdoors in or near the woods.

Cindy and the kids enjoyed a quick trip to The Outer Banks (OBX) with her family. With such close proximity to our beach vacation in HHI and a new role at work, I hung back at Fort Sutton. What it really was best for was total and complete boredom. They had a great time with the highlights being bunk beds, shrimp boils and ice cream anytime the words were spoken. Pretty cool seeing pictures of Cindy's Mom and Dad laughing together.

There are some other events that happened this summer but it all went by so fast – a true blur. An Adventure Guides camping trip at Knight's Stadium where after a double header we got to camp out in the outfield, cookouts with friends, movies, sleepovers, soccer camps and did I mention rain and wacky weather? Maybe the wettest summer I can remember here in the Charlotte/Fort Mill area. Easily the coolest August I've ever spent in the area. My air conditioner-less car thanks the weather gods for this.

I probably sound like a broken record and there are certainly days where my words and demeanor on the outside do not reflect what I feel on the inside, but I am so very grateful for being able to provide my kids experiences and summers like this one. I realize that so many kids and families are not this fortunate and because of this I want to work harder to continue to build great experiences for my children but also ensure I am providing them with context on how good we have it and how not everyone is as fortunate. For them to see this and want to work to share their time helping those less fortunate is a goal I want to work harder to achieve in future summers. Not sure what and how to do this just yet – any ideas?

I sit here writing this 2nd post on all the great things that happened on my kids summer vacations realizing today is their first day of school (at least it is for the olders). Here's to another year of learning and excitement for going to school. One last area where I am thankful is for the fact that my kids have genuine excitement to be going back to school. In my opinion, schools are doing something pretty good when kids are excited to return after a pretty decent summer of activities and fun. Bring on the soccer (actually already well in flight), music lessons, Faith Formation, Tae Kwon Do, Chess Club, Curriculum Nights, Field Trips, etc…We. Are. Ready.

Click here for a slideshow of Stewart's Little Mermaid Camp

Click here for a slideshow of the OBX trip

Click here for a slideshow of the DuMont's Baptism celebration

Click here for a random set of pics from July

 

June 2013: HHI Vacation (and a whole bunch of other stuff since April!)

   

Here I am to tell you about this great summer vacation we went on in June shortly after school ended and it is only days before school starts back. Where does the time go? In addition to our fun vacation activities, there were some pretty cool things that happened before heading off to our traditional vacation in Sea Pines.

Mom, Dad, Tim and I went to the Masters in Augusta – maybe the first time that I have spent time with just my Mom, Dad and brother since before college! It was a near perfect day (and not just because we were in Augusta at the Masters) and something I hope we can do more often.

Stewart celebrated her First Holy Communion. I learned I wasn’t AT ALL ready to see her walk down a church aisle in a white gown.

Stewart played in her first ever musical recital (guitar) – I was amazed at her complete lack of nervousness. So cool under pressure or a complete lack of care that she should be worried. Either way another sign of what I believe makes her so full of awesome.

Will and Stewart both had end of grade award days and came away with great awards and some near flawless report cards to boot! These kids learn so much more, so much earlier than I did growing up. Bear with me while I brag on my kids a bit more…Will is showing so many natural leadership qualities at school – he has such a passion for learning and others in his class seem to draw to him for help.

As a family we celebrated Mom’s Day over brunch at the Fish Market (highly recommend this restaurant) with Cindy and her mom (Nanny) and her dad and Earth Day at the Greenway. Both fun and cool days.

Our time in Hilton Head each year is always so much fun for us. Mom (Grammy) and Dad (Poppy) always come with us which makes vacation even easier with an extra set of eyes. We all seem to enjoy being in HHI at Sea Pines equally. This year I enjoyed watching Charlie get more confident on a two-wheel bike (he especially liked the flatness of HHI and wide sidewalks) and learning how to swim on his own (he just decided it was time to swim on his own when only weeks back he was terrified of it!), seeing my Mom on a bike (I think she enjoys HHI and Sea Pines the most which makes me happy – Mom/Dad: if you guys are reading this you should totally move there!), seeing Cindy sit, just sit in a beach chair and read her book (this woman I married does so little sitting and relaxing – for all she does for our family she should do this so much more!), watching my Dad get his cooking on when it was time for our Low Country Boil and having special 1×1 time with each of my kids (they have no idea how much I enjoy spending time with them individually). Sea Pines makes it so easy to relax. I love being able to bike everywhere and would love all of the shaded areas. We did all of the traditions, the Low Country Boil, the magician who pulls money out of a lemon in South Beach, Greg Russell in Harbortown, hot tub time in the ‘Mickey Mouse’ pool and even found a few new traditions to keep up on our next trip like eating at A Low Country Backyard (restaurant we highly recommend for their pimiento cheese and banana pudding) and homemade dessert night (this year it was blueberry cobbler). As a family we are very fortunate to be able to go to great places like HHI each year and we try hard to never take it for granted.

Below you will find links to slideshows of the various events that took place between Easter and the HHI vacation. In my next entry you will get caught up on our lives between the HHI vacation and the start of the next school year.

Click here for a slideshow of Mom, Dad, Tim and me at the Masters

Click here for a slideshow of Earth Day

Click here for a slideshow of Mom’s special day

Click here for a slideshow of Stewart’s First Holy Communion

Click here for a slideshow of some end of school activities

Click here for a slideshow of our trip to Hilton Head

April 2013 – The Masters!

 

First off, thanks Dad for getting the tickets.  One of the few examples I have heard of the ANGC lottery system actually producing tickets…and Wednesday Practice Round tickets to boot!  While I am thanking people, thanks to mother nature for the perfect spring day we enjoyed in Augusta.  This was a unique trip as it is one of the first times in many, many years I can remember doing anything with just my Mom, Dad and brother Tim.  A special occasion for us all I think.  The four of us met in Augusta yesterday mid-morning and wandered the course, mostly the back 9, eating pimiento cheese sandwiches (still a $1.50), egg salad sandwiches (still a $1.50) and drinking sweet tea, water and pink lemonade.  We even saw some golfers playing golf, skipping balls at 16, and chipping/putting to tees where pins will be over the next four days.  In addition to a typical practice round, we spend a good amount of time watching the annual par 3 contest.  This is a relaxed event where the golfers and some of their families walk a separate and small par 3 course amongst crowds as big as you will see on tournament days.  Also unique.

In Augusta-speak, we had a “pleasant spring day amongst the tall pines and southern breezes.”  I hope to be able to see Augusta as well as share many more days like this one with my family in the years to come.  Now, back to the grindstone.  Pictures/slideshow can be found below.

Click here for a slideshow of our day at The Masters

Click here to see all of our pictures via Flickr

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

 

 

Christmas 2012 – Gifts of Giving

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Our Christmas was pretty dang amazing this year and I think the two biggest contributing factors were a) a focus on giving to those in need and b) not trying to coordinate for all scenarios. The giving part. In December I was fortunate enough to spend time volunteering in three separate places and for two of these my family was able to join in and feel how good it feels to help others. We made meals together with some close family friends at Friendship Trays/Meals on Wheels. The kids loved it! They worked the line loading the trays and also helped deliver the food to the elderly and shut-in folks. Lots of great lines like “I wish I could make these folks meals everyday”and “what happens if these meals aren’t made for them?”

We also spent time with our Adventure Guides group making nearly 500 sandwiches for the Urban Ministry of Charlotte. Same kind of questions but with statements like “I’ve already made more sandwiches for others than I have for myself. In my entire life!” My kids have challenged me to find ways to give back to our community at least once a month – I’m up for this challenge! Next up: Hyaet meal-sharing with my running buddies and their families.

In addition to giving our time to the community Cindy and I worked hard to over-communicate our plans and opportunities to share time without pushing commitment upon others who are juggling plans and decisions of their own. We found it to be quite freeing to only plan our time vs the time of others (imagine that!) and almost felt like we spent more quality time with those we care about than we did when we over planned and under communicated.

Christmas the holiday itself was pretty great. The only twist this year was we didn’t travel further than Pineville, NC (next town over) and it really made a difference. Christmas Eve has never been more relaxing. After our annual “walk-thru” at Church (this is where we show up 40 minutes ahead of Mass starting only to find standing room only – with 3 kids this is a non-starter so we walk on through), we headed home to spend the late afternoon and evening watching Santa drive by on the fire truck, hanging with family that dropped by and slowly prepping for the real Santa. The coolest this year was seeing Charlie get it fully. So. Much. Fun. It was a great Christmas season.

Click here for a slideshow of our Christmas Holiday (sorry for the volume)

Click here for a view of all of our pics on Flickr