Dan and Hannah Pay It Forward – Pandemic Style – KGUA #40

Winter evening in York

Funny how paying it forward works.  Let me explain.

The best gift, bar none, Hannah and I ever received as parents was when someone would take our young kids so we could get away for some “us” time.  League leaders in this category were my mom and dad.  Regularly, they would settle into our house in York, Maine with Molly, Robyn, and Will while Hannah and I would take two nights going up the coast to Camden.

Circa 1945 My mom and dad in the Pacific during WWII

With the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, Hannah and I have a chance to pay it forward with our daughter Molly’s family.  Our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), have been remote schooling and hanging with their parents going on 12 months. 

Now that Hannah and I are two weeks past our second Pfizer vaccine for Covid, we are set to have the boys for our famous 24 Hours of Owen and Max.  Molly and her hubby Tip get to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

The first weekend in March is still winter in Maine.  Highs this Saturday are in the upper 20s; though the sunshine adds a few degrees, the wind takes away a few more.

The Home Depot Kids’ Workshop has been cancelled, the York Public Library is not an option.  Basically it’s the great outdoors.

Taking the boys to the mailbox, Hannah turns toward the icy pond in our front yard.  The boys have their plastic sleds and we all have struck outdoor gold.

After an early lunch, we pile into our Prius for George Derby’s place on the Atlantic where we hunt for sea glass, explore the rocky coastline, and get nicely surprised by George just returning from clamming. 

Sea glass hunting
With Owen, George is just back from clamming with a peck of clams, which is about 15 pounds of clams
Owen with the clam fork

Just north of George’s place is the Fort McClary State Park for further exploring and a short trail hike.

A wintry 28F on the coast of Maine at Fort McClary State Park
Cannons that protected the Maine coast in days gone by
Owen, Max, and their Omi at Fort McClary

After three hours outside, we all return to our Chases Pond Road place.  The boys settled in with a Netflix movie, Bigfoot Family, while I go to the York House of Pizza for dinner.  Then Hannah and I have a glass of wine to toast our extended family.

After their large pepperoni pizza and our mushroom, we play cards, Sevens and Sh-theed.  Bedtime by 730P leaves us all ready for a good night’s sleep.

Next morning, Hannah makes omelets-to-order.  Max choses cheese while and Owen opts for onion.

Twenty fours after I picked up the boys, I return them to their pop.

It was one of the best 24 hours of the entire winter!  As you can see, paying it forward has multiple winners!

Max and his cheesy omelet
Owen digs onions in his omelet

By the way, when asked to rate Bigfoot Family from one to ten (ten being high), no surprise that the children of a math educator (their mom Molly) would rate the movie a 9.7 (Owen) and 9.9 (Max).

Dan and Hannah Pandemic Hike with Owen and Max at Weir Hill, Massachusetts

First off, New England has some unusual pronunciations.  Check these out! Weir of Weir Hill is pronounced Wire??  How about these towns in Massachusetts? Leominster is Lemon-ster, Haverhill is Hayve-rill, and Gloucester is Glaw-ster! 

Owen, Max, and their Omi, parents in the background

With the pandemic winter here in New England, Hannah and I fortunately are still able to winter hike with our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6) and their parents on a regular basis. 

Listen to this line-up of trails that we have hiked since the cold and dark of 2020 came to stay: the Ring Trail at Mount Agamenticus in York, the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, and through Steedman Woods to the Atlantic Ocean in York Harbor.  Our daughter Molly has found us a sweet #4.

Driving 50 miles south from our home on the last day of 2020, we arrive ready to hike the trails of the Weir Hill Reservation, a 194-acre public park located in North Andover, Massachusetts.   Though two weeks ago a foot of snow covered these trails, this New Year’s Eve Day we find that all the snow has melted.    

We hiked the yellow trail that circles the property

The trail begins with no lack of enthusiasm

Fully masked, we opt the 2.3 mile Weir Hill Trail loop with just 130’ of elevation that circumnavigates the property.  Max matches up with his Omi, telling his parents to go ahead because he and Omi have some trash-talking to do.  Trash-talking for this six year old means talking about his strategy for Sushi Go Party, a game that they received for Christmas.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Molly and Tip

By the way, a fish weir is a submerged woven fence with stakes to catch alewives, a type of herring.  Hiking with a first and second grader is not linear; it means stopping and starting; we see them jump on to the larger trailside rocks and balance on the logs along the path.  Other times, Max reaches for my hand and Owen for his Omi. 

Arriving along the trail to the Lake Cochichewick, Owen climbs up on a bending trunk and finds a place for his brother. 

Later, Owen and Max scamper out a horizontal tree just above the icy water.  For many reasons, it’s great to hike with Molly’s whole family; among the reasons are that Hannah and I are not responsible for the boys’ safety.  That’s what they have parents for.

Molly and Hannah on the home stretch

Heading back to the trailhead with Molly, I ask her what she thinks lies ahead with the roll out of the Covid vaccines.  Will she feel comfortable resuming normal life once she gets the vaccine?  She just doesn’t know. As a public school teacher, Molly will soon get the vaccine.  What if 80% of the population has received the vaccine, what will she have her family resume doing?  She and I have no answers about what we will do. Stay tuned.

Even though we are 70+, I’d be surprised if Hannah and I get vaccines before spring.  I take on a mindset – expect the good.   There is a part two when needed.  If the not so good happens, find the good.  Worrying ahead of time is just self-induced suffering.

With lots of families on the trail this festive New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Weir Hill trails deliver for us all. 

Exploring Utah with Owen and Max – KGUA radio #14

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For broadcast on August 10, 2020, KGUA radio (Gualala, California) asks writers to free write about in 200 words or less: What is something in front of you that you want to go after, experience, or explore?  What (who) is behind you stopping you from going forward?

Exploring Utah with Owen and Max

Utah map

Moab is near Arches NP

Our grandsons are six and eight.  Hannah and I had big plans to take Max and his older brother Owen to Utah this past April (2020).  In one week’s time, we’d visit four of Utah’s five national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon.  The boys are at an age where they can hike the trails and enjoy the high desert world so different from their home in New England.

We had rented a condo in Moab with a pool and would have the good company of their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip;  he just so happens to have the grilling gene that I was born without.

But out of the blue in March (2020), the coronavirus turned our world and theirs upside down.  There was so much unknown about the exploding pandemic.  So many questions with few palatable answers.  Ergo, we postponed our adventure.

It’s now August.  Time to make plans for April 2021.  But the questions and wonderings remain, answers remain elusive.

Who knows what the world will be like in nine months.  So April 2022 is on the table as a possible year for our adventure.  Hell, they’ll be eight and ten and be able to do even more.

Words – 200

Utah five grandkids

The featured picture has Owen in the red Pi shirt with his brother to his right and his cousins, Brooks in blue and six week old Reese (to Owen’s right) and Charlotte looking on in amazement.

Dan and His 2020 Stimulus Check – The Stories

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog asking for your help in finding a worthy home for my 2020 stimulus check.  Click here for that blog.  It turned out my goal to give away $500 wasn’t enough to meet all the needs.  We gave away nearly $700.

Here are their stories from the people that we have supported.

Stim2 superhero

We learned from Mary (married to my Arizona State roommate Rich) that friends of theirs had a niece born at under two pounds who lived just three months.  When these friends themselves became pregnant, they too had a preemie who was at great risk.  Their son survived; in gratitude, they support the Superhero Project, a non-profit that raises money to support NICU families and babies.  Click here to learn more about the Superhero Project.  Hannah and I are all in.

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Our friend Nancy from our Arizona days writes of her student from Brazil who wants to pursue a medical master’s degree.  The young man lives with his uncle’s family in the basement of another family’s house.  He is an only child and his mother (no father) is in Brazil.  He talks to her daily and worries about her health.  Hannah and I appreciate our chance to support this young man.

My colleague at Nevitt Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, Diane, first suggests supporting a cat shelter in Scottsdale, then how great it would be to have breakfast with an elderly friend from Chicago.  This all leads to what’s in her heart.  She’d like to reconnect with a long lost friend over breakfast whose life has been filled with challenges.  Hannah and I support Diane’s efforts.

Stim2 rwanda map

Despite the Southwest connection of the first three entries, Hannah and I have made a few friends since our Arizona days.  One of them is Rose, who worked with Hannah at the Visiting Nurses Association of Portsmouth, NH.  Hannah was the Hospice volunteer coordinator and Rose a nurse.  Rose writes of a wonderful, hardworking couple from Rwanda. The wife was taking English classes before Covid-19 hit, and her hubby worked at Bowdoin College in food service.  They have a beautiful baby boy.

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Our California amiga, Tree, says she will donate to her beloved, local radio station and non-profit, KGUA. KGUA stayed on the air 24/7 during the wildfires, public safety power shutdowns, and most recently, the COVID-19 health crisis. This year, due to the virus outbreak, their annual fundraiser event was cancelled so donations at this time would greatly help them to continue the outstanding work.  We, too, will support KGUA.

Our local friend Mandy nominates her niece who raises three kids, two of whom have special needs.  In addition, her niece works three jobs (nurse in the schools, at the local hospital, and a summer camp for special needs children).  This summer camp is not opening due to Covid-19.  She never complains or asks for support because she is too busy serving and caring for others.  We’ll step up.

Stim2 AFSP

Our neighbor Laurie asks us to support the virtual walk she will do with her daughter to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Due to Covid-19, they cannot walk sixteen miles overnight in Boston as they did last year.  Done.

Hannah’s friend from the College of Nursing at Arizona State, Patty, nominates a co-worker.  (By the way, Hannah was a student in the ASU nursing program for a semester plus, having aced the prerequisite Organic Chemistry to get in!)  Patty’s friend’s unemployment check hit a glitch, and glitches take a long time to fix due to the staggering #’s of people applying for unemployment.  Even though she and Patty were furloughed in March, her friend has yet to receive a check.  She has diabetes, with an expensive monitoring system.  Glad we can help.

Stim2 SAFER bags

Andy’s New York Food Bank in Action

 

Our son Will’s college roommate at St. Michael’s College near Burlington, Vermont, Andy, offers us the opportunity to give to their local food bank, Schuylerville (New York) Area Food and Emergency Relief.   The Food Bank collects large donations of food from the food industry and distributes it to charitable agencies serving 23 counties from Plattsburgh to Newburgh; they provide over 35 million pounds of food a year to 1,000 agencies.  We’ll do more than just give them food for thought.

From our daughter Molly’s Family: 

Stim2 Max

Max’s neighborhood ice cream smorgasbord

Max wants to have an ice cream smorgasbord with our neighbors – he is requesting $25 to buy ice cream from Sully’s and toppings.

Owen would like to buy groceries for the local food pantry and also donate some money – he is requesting $20 for us to buy some groceries and $20 for us to give to them directly.

Tip would like to support Black Lives Matter – Boston because we are committed to learning more, becoming anti-racist, and raising our children to understand white privilege. We are committed to learning, growing, speaking up, and acting for justice and equality.

Stim2 Owen

Owen figuring which items to buy with his $20 (among pasta, cereal, and cans of corn)

Molly would like to support Bail Bonds because “There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man or woman gets depends on the amount of money they have.” I’m requesting $50 for the local Massachusetts fund.  By the way, Molly’s family is going to match our gifts to the food pantry, Black Lives Matter, and Bail Bonds.

Stim2 Owen with bags

Thanks to these folks for coming through for Dan and Hannah.  Their stories make me realize that in addition to giving some money away, my companion goal was to strengthen our connections and further build relationships with others.  By others letting us know of the folks in need, Hannah and I become a little closer to the families in bold listed above who brought these stories to us.

Dan and Hannah Want to Be a Part of the Global Solution to Coronavirus

I admit, my focus on the Coronavirus was way too narrow during the past weeks (early March 2020).  Then all hell broke loose in York, Maine and all over the country.

McM 2C D and H closeup

Hiking in Santa Barbara

Reasonably, I figured that, though I am in the danger zone being well north of 60 years old when it comes to the Coronavirus, I believe I am one healthy 72-year-old.  I pickle, rock the elliptical and recumbent bike at the gym, and recently hiked up and down a slew of canyons into the mountains above Santa Barbara.

I figure that if I get the Coronavirus, I’ll feel crappy and feverish for a while and then I’ll get over it.  A week ago, I even thought, how bad could it be if I just got the damn virus, and then was done with it.  I’m healthy enough to weather that storm.  Or so I think?

Even four days ago, I thought that Hannah and I would still go with our daughter Molly’s family of four as planned to Utah to see its national parks during school spring vacation week in April.

Then last Thursday night Molly got word that her Lexington, MA school district was shutting down for two weeks.  That got my attention.  I never saw that coming!   A helluva wake-up call.

CV patty hymanson

State Rep Patty Hymanson

Then Friday an email from a family friend, Patty Hymanson, who is also an MD neurologist and the Maine State Representative for our part of York, advised against any unnecessary air travel within the US.  That was enough to kibosh the Utah trip.

CV ellipticals

The ellipticals at Coast Fitness in Kittery, Maine

But Hannah and I still went to our Coastal Fitness gym on Saturday.  At the gym, we play it safe by wiping down our elliptical and recumbent machines before and after using them.  The staff is wiping down more of the hard surfaces.  And, there are fewer people going to the gym these days, which reduces the possibility of infection, doesn’t it?  Now that I think of it, maybe fewer people should have been my first clue to rethink my choices.

Face Timing with our daughter Molly and her whole family Sunday night, we found the first seeds planted in rethinking our position about indoor pickleball and working out at the gym, that we promptly dismissed.

CV flatten the curve

After indoor pickleball was cancelled early Monday morning (March 16, 2020), Molly texted us about the importance of social distancing in order to slow down the spread of the virus.  You see, if the rate of infection can be slowed, we the people can minimize the chance that the health care system will be overwhelmed by a spike in cases needing hospitalization.  More than just thinking of ourselves as individuals, we need to start thinking of our whole community and to “flatten the curve” of this potentially deadly virus.

CV molly's fam

Dan, Molly, Hannah, Max, Tip with Owen in front in Big Sur, California (February 2020)

Molly sent along a link to The Daily Podcast from the New York Times, Learning to Live with the Coronavirus.  It is compelling.  Click here to listen to this podcast.  It’s well worth your thirty minutes.

And just like that we gave up the gym, for the time being; we’ll walk in the neighborhood, at the beach, on a local golf course, or through the in-town woods and bike when it gets just a little warmer here on the coast of Maine.

CV cv

I finally got it!  There’s a new normal that I am going to have to get used to.

Rather than focus on how the virus affects us as individuals, Hannah and I want to start being a part of the global effort to support the health care community in fighting this pandemic.

Join us.

Dan and Hannah Have a 40-year old

Back in the late 1970s, Hannah and I nearly gave up the idea of having children of our own.  As 30-somethings, we weren’t making things happen.

You see, after two years of trying during our 6th and 7th year of marriage, we were thinking that a family was just not in the cards and the Universe was dealing us jokers.  So, we just gave up.  Quit.  But not so fast, my friend.

Molly hovatter to tempe

Carefree and thinking we’d be dinks (i.e. double income no kids) while driving to California, we pulled off deserted Hovatter Road, 50 some miles from the Colorado River in Arizona, and… well, Molly came into our lives eight months and twenty-seven days later on August 5, 1979.

As with many first-timers, Hannah and I were clueless at the parenting game; we were amazed that two days after Molly was born, the nurse at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona would actually just send us home with a short pep talk, but no game plan or instruction manual.  Hoping for the best, we drove eight pound five ounce Molly to our new home at 1206 East LaJolla Drive in Tempe.

On day ten, Molly cried for seven hours straight.  No lie, seven hours!  Making the classic first-time parent mistake, we held her, rocked her, sang to soothe her in our arms.  Hannah would hold her for 20 minutes while I stood in the backyard with the doors closed behind me so I couldn’t hear Molly’s cries, and then we’d switch roles.

Grasping for straws at 10P, we called the pediatrician who told us to put her in the crib and let her cry for 15 minutes.  In five minutes, Molly was asleep, and she had survived her first bout with our parenting.

Molly tempe to york

Moving from Arizona with 2 1/2 year-old Molly and her four-month-old sister Robyn, we settled into life on the coast of Maine.  Thinking that raising kids in a small town in New England would be pretty cool, 37 years later we know that we hit our version of the lottery.

Through her public school years, Molly played sports, succeeded academically, later followed me into public education as a teacher, married very well, and rocks as the mother of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5).  We couldn’t be more pleased.

Molly at ACC

Early morning on the ninth green at Amesbury Country Club

Now that she lives but an hour away in Massachusetts, Molly and I have summers for golf.  Every two weeks, we arise before dawn to play nine holes at the Amesbury Country Club, a turn of the century course with wide, forgiving, and empty fairways.

Catching up over the past fortnight, we hit second shots if we want, don’t keep score, and celebrate each other’s well-struck shots.  After nine holes, we head to the Morning Buzz for coffee and eggs, home fries, and multi-grain toast.

I never could have imagined that life could be so good.

PS  We’ll celebrate her 40th tonight.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max at the Acton (Maine) Fair

Living within an hour of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), each month Hannah and I spend two to three afternoons/evenings with them at their home in the Bay State.  Regularly, we also have “24 hours of Owen and Max” where the boys come to York for a day and an overnight, so our daughter Molly and her husband Tip get some time to themselves.

Acton 4 Owen first day

Acton 4B Max on first day

Acton 4A M, O, and M on first day

Our grandsons with their teacher mom!

There was no better gift for Hannah and me, as parents of young children than when we had my mom and dad come to Maine to take Molly, Robyn, and Will for three days/ two nights.  Manna from heaven. In bowling terms, it was a 300 game.

Acton map Y to A

With “24 hours of Owen and Max” beginning, we drive inland from our home on the coast of Maine this late August Thursday to a small time agricultural fair in the little burg of Acton (population 2,427).  Get these prices.  Parking is $4, the admission for Owen and Max is free, and Hannah and I pay a mere $8 each (Fridays seniors are $4!)

Acton 1 Han and Max

Eating fair food and the oxen pulling contests are at the top of the boys’ list.  Normally, in teams, oxen pull pallets loaded with concrete blocks up and down the dirt grandstand show path.  Unfortunately this year, we arrive after the oxen pulling and settle for the oxen strutting their stuff for the assembled small crowd of folks and judges.

Acton 1A Max as cow and H

Undeterred, we’ve brought pbj and veggies with humus for lunch.  Ah, but the boys have their sights on bigger fair fare.  You see, we give each one $4 to spend on whatever food they want.  Right off the bat, and before lunch, they each opt for a $2 bag of buttery, movie-style popcorn from the local Rotary club.  With the planned-for lunch no longer on their minds, we walk the midway to find how they will best spend their final $2.

Acton 3 Max on ride

Max low riding

And then we hit gold.  While ice cream cones everywhere are $3 or more, $8 funnel cakes and over-priced deep-fried anything is everywhere, we stumble upon two young men raising money to go to India to build a dam for the local population who are selling one scoop cones for a dollar.  One simolean!

Acton 2A ice cream guys

The next generation is in good hands with these young men looking out for the world

Owen opts for strawberry and Max mint chip, a personal favorite of mine.  Going down easily, the $1 cones mean they still have a greenback left.   They want another cone.  Wouldn’t you?  It’s their dollar; their choice takes Hannah back to a favorite childhood memory when her dad gave her money for three cones in one afternoon.

Acton 2 Fire and Rescue

Acton Fire and Rescue Team with three loyal supporters

While waiting for the carnival rides to open at 4P, Hannah notices two guys and a young woman from the Acton Fire and Rescue Squad sitting on a picnic table.  Hannah turns to Owen, Max, and me and suggests that we buy cones for the three and their nearby chief.  I approach the three and say, Have I got a great offer for you!  To thank you for your service, we’d like to buy you each a cone.  Can we?  How could they say no!  They can’t.  They don’t!

Gratefully, today we celebrate another of our 24-hour days with Owen and Max, this time at the Acton Fair!

 

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire

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To celebrate this Father’s Day (2019), I ask our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip to hike up Mount Monadnock in southwest New Hampshire with Hannah and me.

MM diner pancakes D

Many a good Dan and Hannah hike begins with breakfast out for some carbo loading.  Fifteen minutes from the trailhead, our diner of choice is the top-rated Hometown Diner in Rindge, NH. Hankering for blueberry pancakes, I overstep by ordering three, when the waitress tells me, They’re big!  The plate-covering behemoths do satisfy my craving, allow me to share one with Molly and Tip, and send home one for our grandsons, Owen and Max.

MM 1 at white dot trail sign

Knowing that Monadnock’s the most hiked trail in the United States and #2 in the world (See below for number one.), we arrive by 830A to insure ourselves a parking spot as well as a cooler morning hike.

Though populaire, the trail is typical New England – a mountain of rocks.  The wide path up the White Dot Trail is stone after stone, one higher than the next.  If you are hoping for a walk in the woods, this is not the hike for you.

MM 1 trail begins with H M T

What looks like a walk in the woods soon turns into…

MM 1B stone steps with M and h

…stairways of stones…

MM 1C H on stone face

…then walls of stone.

Rather quickly, we are breathing heavily as Molly sets a pace that I love; she has a relentless commitment to the top, with nary a rose smelled.  We stretch our legs to step up the mountainside boulder trail.  Leaning into the mountain, balancing with our hands, we are greeted by stone slabs which require handholds to ascend.  Though it’s a tough hike, eight and ten-year-olds are on this trail, too.

MM 1D H on stony face

Hannah on all fours climbing to the top

MM 1E M H D on rocky assent

Dan, Hannah, and Molly making their way to the summit

And then we spot two women, one with terror on her face as she explains she can’t go up the stone face nor does she feel can she climb back down.  “Panic” is what she feels and articulates.

At this point, Tip jumps into action as he did two years ago when he escorted Hannah up a rock face ravine where she had fallen 25’ to a precarious perch off the  San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California.  Today, Tip uses all his skill and confidence-producing words to support this athletic woman, who we learn is dealing with a recently separated shoulder.  While Molly and I lead, Hannah stays close to the hikers distracting them with encouragement and interest in their story.

MM 2 M with MM in distance

Molly ready to summit Mount Monadnock in the distance

 

MM 2A D with mountain in background

As I said, there are a few rocks.

All six of us make the summit and celebrate with pictures.

MM 4A we six on top

Dan, Tip, Molly, and Angie in the back.  Hannah and Amy upfront.

MM 3 D and M on top

It was indeed windy at the top.

MM 3A T and M on top

Tip and Molly atop Mount Monadnock two days before their eighth anniversary

MM 3B we four on top

As mountain hikers know, often the climb down is even more difficult.  Rising to the challenge, Tip in front and Hannah behind support Amy on the alternate White Cross Trail down the mountain.  The slower pace allows us all to bond as we learn about each other’s lives.

MM 5 descending

MM 5D rocky descent

MM 5E angie amy H descend

MM 5B tip on tree

Successfully, back at the trailhead we feel like old friends with Amy and Angie.  Our new hiking compadres are most appreciative that we altered our hike for them and to Tip for shepherding Amy all the way down.  Fact is, meeting these women made for a more memorable experience than we ever thought possible; and as Hannah reminds me We are not here to see through each other, but to see each other through.

MM 5F d and h in descent

Hikers from Maine in New Hampshire

 

Mt. Fujiyama in Japan is numero uno.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max Explore the Santa Barbara Zoo

Our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten) and Max (preschool), have come with their parents to California during February school vacation week in New England.  Whether it is including the boys at an evening potluck with local friends in California, exploring the beach in Carpinteria, or taking them on a train ride to Ventura, we look to make memories with our guys.

Rattle 3B Rawdings at meadow

At the meadow two miles into the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara

Yesterday, Hannah and I with the Family Rawding hiked the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara.  Click here for that adventure.

Today, we will take the boys to the Santa Barbara Zoo while their parents hike up Gaviota Peak 45 minutes north on The 101.

Zoo map

Arriving at the zoo fifteen minutes from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria, we have a sunny, blustery day for los animales.

Zoo 1 flamingos with O and M

Flamingos that are worth a good thirty second for Owen (in red), Max (in orange), and me

At each exhibit, the boys’ age-appropriate short attention span matches mine.  While Hannah reads about the animals and tells us one of the listed fun facts, I take a good thirty seconds to take in the tropical birds or the elephants or the lions or the giraffes.  Then the boys and I move on.  I am not a stop and smell the roses animal lover.  I gotta be me.

Zoo 2A tortoise 2

 

 

Pausing in front of the tortoise enclosure, we learn from the keeper about these forty year-old tortoises.  As herbivores, they are making a comeback from endangered status thanks to zoos and private owners.  Unfortunately, their shells are still harvested, which, upon removal, immediately kills the tortoises because their backs are directly attached to their shells.  Some kill the tortoises for their livers, which they believe have wonderous medicinal properties.

Zoo 3 giraffe skull

Giraffe skull

Zoo 3B giraffe hoot

Giraffe hoof

On the path by the giraffe enclosure, two volunteers intrigue us all with the skull of a giraffe.  Next to them they have a 15” bicycle tire tube that represents the length of the giraffe’s tongue.  Then the volunteers set a rubbery mat on the ground which indicates the size of the giraffe’s hoof and lets the boys compare their feet to that of a giraffe.

Zoo 3 giraffe

Giraffe with the Pacific Ocean in the distance

Lions, elephants, alligators, anteaters, and penguins rock our world, albeit briefly.

Zoo 1C Max with lion

Max checking out the lion

Zoo 1CC the lion

Tough life tanning 200 yards from the Pacific Ocean

Zoo 1A O and M with elephant

Elephante

Zoo 1B Omi as zookeeper

Perhaps I should have taken this picture when the sun went behind the clouds

 

Zoo 4A alligator

See you later

 

Zoo 6 anteater

The anteater is one big dude!

Zoo 6B penguin with max

Max at the penguin aquarium

Zoo 6D O and M with penguin

Owen and Max check out Peter the Penguin

Wisely constructed in the center of the SB Zoo, a favorite spot for our young guys, is the AstroTurf mound at the playground where Owen and Max slide down the hill on cardboard.  Owen teaches his brother how to surf down the play hill.

Zoo 5 more playground

Zoo 5 playground

With cool temperatures near 60F, we are not exhausted after nearly four hours among the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  That said, once home, we turn the boys back over to their parents, and have one sweet siesta.

Dan and Hannah at Molly’s Math Night with Owen and Max

Math 1 Molly leading

Molly

A teacher for seventeen years, Molly is the oldest of our three kids.  While years ago I saw her teach algebra to eighth graders at Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, Hannah has never seen her teach.  But that is all about to change.

A text arrives from Molly inviting us to her Parent’s Math Night in late November at Fiske Elementary in Lexington, Massachusetts.  As a math specialist working with teachers and kids during the day, tonight Molly will lead a workshop on teaching parents how to support their kids when it comes to learning and loving math.

Math 1A H and O working on math

Owen and his Omi at Math Night

My takeaways from our night at Fiske:

One, it was really cool that Molly asked us to come.

Two, always looking to have adventures with our grandsons, we made it an event by taking Owen (6) and Max (4) along for the evening.

Three, no matter what she does, Molly’s energetic and passionate.  Tonight, she is articulate, composed, and well-organized.

Four, she made an excellent choice to make it a night for parents and kids.  That saves parents the hassle of finding babysitters.

Math 1B 5 principles

 

Five, Molly included other teachers in the presentation for over one hundred.  Being a part of a team helps teachers beat the isolation and exhaustion that the teaching life can be.

Math We Believe

 

Six, throughout the night, the team of teachers, reinforced key points of what they believe about the teaching of math.  In addition, they encouraged parents to never say “I can’t do math.”

Seven, here and there, Molly and the teachers would talk for only two to three minutes.  To keep us all engaged, they had chunks of time for parents to listen to their kids as the kids noticed and wondered about the math questions and puzzles that they were given.

Eight, parenthetically (we were the oldest ones there.).  It felt like we fit right in.  You’d enjoy living in our delusional world.

Math 1C Carol Dweck

Stanford University’s Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Nine, there were a couple of pertinent and articulate TED talk videos (2-5 minutes [referenced below]) and Carol Dweck references.  As such, the evening was thoughtful and never dragged.  See Carol’s wisdom to the left.

Ten, there were five raffles of math-related games, a math book, and math puzzles.

Math games

Raffle prizes

Eleven, the night was scheduled to go from 615-730P.  Wisely, the night ended five minutes early.  Students (and parents) of all ages love getting out early.

Twelve, Hannah and I loved the post-presentation clean-up party.  Many parents joined us in folding up chairs, placing them on chair carriers, and breaking down tables to be stacked at the end of the gym.

Owen and Max got to participate and by osmosis saw what people do to support one other.  It takes a village to clean up a gym.

Thirteen, I end with a video clip of Molly’s intro to the parents and kids.

 

 

Here are the links to the two superb videos that were showed: Dan Finkel and Annie Fetter).