Chess Master Jason

Jason’s been on a tear this year with a series of successful performances in his chess tournaments.  This past weekend, he took first place in the Under 2200 section of the Cherry Blossom Classic in northern Virginia.  In the process, he boosted his USCF rating to 2203, marking a 123-point rise from the start of this calendar year and officially earning him his “master” status.

Jason had set himself a goal of reaching “master” by age 15, so this puts him almost a year ahead of schedule.  It’s especially impressive to me given what’s involved with chess; namely, maintaining the focus and discipline required to play 5, 7 or even 9 games per tournament, any or all of which can last up to five hours each.  That strikes me as a rare talent for a 14-year-old.  Certainly it would’ve been for me at 14.  It would be now.  What’s more, he’s done it all pretty much on his own, aside from helpful input from some kind mentors; he’s never had a coach per se and living here in Richmond, his access to tournaments has been very limited.

Anyway, I’m very proud of his ability to set long term goals for himself and keep at them until they’re achieved.  It bodes well for him in life.  Next up is that BSA Eagle rank he’s been shooting for since his first Tiger Cub meeting at age 6.  I have no doubt he’ll get there.

Gracie Talks Turkey

Earlier this week I pulled into the driveway after work and saw Grace and Scott “galloping” around in the front yard.  Grace explained that they were “riding their turkeys.”

She saddled up again and gave me a demonstration. “If you make this sound, he goes left,” she explained.  “If you make this sound, he goes right, and if you go like this, he’ll circle back to the start.”  Then, while she pretended to tie the turkey’s reins to the porch post, she said what I was afraid she’d say: “Now you try it.”

I’ve done a lot of goofy things to entertain my little princess, but this was one indulgence I wasn’t ready to grant, at least at that moment.  “No, honey,” I demurred, “I’m afraid if the neighbors saw me riding around on a turkey at my age, they’d think I was silly.”

“Daddy, it’s okay,” she assured me.  “He’s invisible.”

Somehow, I wasn’t convinced that would help my situation.

The next day, I asked if the turkey was getting wet in the rain, and she said, “No, he’s in his pen.”  Just to tweak her, I said, “Oh, no, I’m afraid he got out of the pen.  I saw a turkey running down the street after the mailman yelling, ‘Gobble Gobble, Gimme Mail!'”  Without missing a beat, she answered, “Well, it couldn’t have been mine.  He’s an off-road turkey.”

Check and mate.

OBX 2015

The first week of this month, we enjoyed a relaxing week in the Outer Banks with Grandma and Grandpa.  We managed to get the same house we had 3 years ago (even though I was convinced for some reason it had been razed by a hurricane in the interim).  The chief appeal here is the direct access to the beach, and the ability to watch the sun rise and set from the comfort of the deck.

sunrise

As an avid sky-watcher, I found plenty to look at all week, though the highlight was probably the electrical storm we got to watch one night as it lit up the skies a few miles away.  Living in the tree-filled suburbs, you don’t often get a feel for the true size of a storm, or the play of lightning from cloud to cloud, but with a miles-long unobstructed view of the storm out over the coast, it’s like the world’s biggest fireworks display.  Sorry I couldn’t manage any photos for here.

The kids enjoyed the water all week, even though for the most part they couldn’t wade in too far due to treacherous rip tides.  After Labor Day, the lifeguards packed up and left for the year.

waverunner

Collecting shells was a popular passtime. This week I was trying to organize the garage and found a collection of shopping bags filled with shells the kids (and I) had picked up over the course of the week.  It probably weighs about ten pounds.  I’m pretty sure we left a few on the beach, though you wouldn’t know it from that pile.

shell-hunting

Grace was easily the biggest beach bum, angling for walks with Grandma every chance she got.  Somehow every “walk” ended up getting her wet.  Meanwhile the boys were just as content hanging out inside, playing video games and watching untold hours of “American Ninja Warrior” repeats.  But when we did get Jason out on the sand, he seemed to have a good time.

jpm-obx

 

For the grown-ups, the trip was largely about food.  Laura and I made sure to get out to our favorite spot, Kill Devil Grill, as often as we could, and over the course of the week we ate way too many Duck Donuts (and yet, somehow, not enough of them).  I even broke down and tried fish tacos at one eatery, and found they’re surprisingly a lot better than they sound.

I went in with vague plans for seeing the Wright Memorial again, or climbing Jockey’s Ridge early one morning, or maybe even a horse sightseeing tour for Grace.  But by silent consensus we all seemed to agree to just relax and recharge, instead.  It helped that most kids had to return to school that week, so after the holiday Monday the crowds diminished considerably, and things were comparatively quiet. We even fit in a little birthday party for Grace, who turned 7 (gulp!) that Wednesday.

goldengirl

Thanks for the fun, OBX.  See you next time.

pier

 

 

Fun At Grandma’s

Last week we made our first trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Ohio in over a year.  It was also our first real vacation in a long while.  The kids enjoyed time with cousins, a trip to Amish country and an endless supply of snacks.

jpm-ajf-ds

Scott and Jason tried their hands at riding Cousin Alex’s longboard, with varying degrees of success, but no injuries, thankfully.

swm-board

Grace put almost as many miles on Grandma’s pedal car as we did on the real one.

gem-car

And we fit in a couple games of miniature golf, the first a lot of fun, the second one on a much more frustrating course in miserable heat.

trio-golf

All in all, a lot of fun.  You know it’s true when the question you get as you drive away is “When are we coming back?”