We Are The Hunters AND The Foxes

Yes, the title of this post is a nod to Taylor Swift. Why, you ask? She was just here on tour last week and her show is now officially etched in history as my daughter’s first concert. It’s kind of unbelievable that I have a child old enough to listen to a pop star let alone attend her concert. Just getting the tickets was a whole production compared to any show I ever went to as a kid. I still remember waiting in line at the Ticketmaster counter at the record store for tickets. Not anymore. This time around I had to preregister as a fan club member to get a special code for early access to tickets. The process was actually pretty smooth and prevented scalpers from snatching all the tickets up. I should’ve know then, though, that this was not going to be an ordinary production. Oh no. This concert was on a whole other level compared to any show I’ve ever attended. I’ll show you in a minute.

Since the tickets were kind of a big deal, I decided to make a day of it with my daughter. My friend Sara and her family joined us for the day. She discovered a cool urban scavenger hunt that can be done any time on a smartphone. It took us all around the city. We traveled a little over 3-miles and the clues were challenging and fun. Pretty cool!

We finished the scavenger hunt with just enough time to get to the stadium with all 59,994 other Swifties. I wish I could describe my daughter’s face when we walked into the stadium. She was so appreciative and excited. I was thrilled (and a little choked up) to share the experience with her. It was a magical day that I know she won’t forget. Seriously, it was amazing. Here are the first few moments:

Taylor Swift put on a great show!

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Family Hike: Lake 22

Lake 22

Lake 22

First, let me say that Lake 22 is not an easy hike. It is uphill much of the way and a good portion of the trail requires scrambling over boulders on a pretty steep edge. That’s why I was so impressed with my kids, 2 of their buddies and my good friend Martha who made it the whole way without ever hiking much before. Martha is an amazing person who lost more than 75 pounds through hard work and healthy eating this past year. I was so excited and humbled when she asked me to join her. The trail website said the hike was around 5-miles but we ended up going about 8.5 miles total over 5 hours. It was no joke but the views and an afternoon at the lake made it completely worth it. If you go, pack or wear a swimsuit and give yourself the day to make it to the lake and back.

Seattle In The Summertime

The view from our picnic at Gasworks Park in Seattle

The view from our picnic at Gasworks Park in Seattle

I know I’m probably biased but I really don’t think there is a prettier place in the world than Seattle in the summertime. There are tons of fun things to do and it’s light out until almost 10pm every night. We make it a point to get outside and enjoy all the city has to offer. One of our favorite activities is renting kayaks and seeing the city by water. We usually rent from Agua Verde Paddle Club because they have a great Mexican restaurant above the rental office. I highly recommend it! This year, the kids outgrew their kayak options so we tried the Northwest Outdoor Center instead. The folks at NOC were very friendly, prices are reasonable, and parking is free after 5pm. We weaved through the clusters of houseboats as the residents greeted the kids and encouraged them to paddle harder. There were tons of boats on the water and seaplanes taking off and landing. After we finished paddling around, we ended the evening with a picnic at Gasworks Park. It’s a pretty perfect way to spend an evening.

The Value of Assets

This past weekend, a local high school senior, Chris Nguyen, took his own life. Statistically, two young people between the ages of 10 and 24 kill themselves every week in Washington state, with another 17 making an attempt. Chris’ family asked that the news of his suicide be shared, because it is true and because they hope talking about his death will help prevent another family from suffering this loss.

Last year our school hosted a speaker from The Search Institute. Over the last two decades, the institute has researched and measured the key elements of child development that result in kids who grow into healthy productive adults. The 40 Developmental Assets is the result:

Over time, studies of more than 4 million young people consistently show that the more assets that young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive. Research shows that youth with the most assets are least likely to engage in four different patterns of high-risk behavior, including problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. When they have higher levels of assets, they are more likely to do well in school, be civically engaged, and value diversity.

The positive power of assets is evident across all cultural and socioeconomic groups of youth in the United States as well as other parts of the world. Furthermore, levels of assets are better predictors of high-risk involvement and thriving than poverty, family structure, or other demographic difference. However, the average young person experiences fewer than half of the 40 assets.

The average young person experiences fewer than half of the 40 assets they need.

We can do better.

I had some incredible assets in my life. One of them was my high school guidance counselor, Mr. Daniel Naegeli. My senior year I had a free first period which meant I had an hour to kill every morning before my classes started. Mr. Naegeli welcomed me into his office each morning and we would drink tea and talk about all kinds of things. Without getting into a big sob story, I had some personal challenges and really needed positive adult influences in my life at that time. He provided that for me. He listened to me and respected my opinion. He also personally drove my college application to the University of Washington campus for me because I was so undecided that I waited until the last possible day to turn it in. I don’t know where I would’ve been without his support.

Just recently I got a chance to reconnect with Mr. Naegeli and tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me all those (20) years ago. He retired last June after helping countless kids become better adults. We just got together for coffee yesterday too:

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It’s not just up to school teachers and counselors. We can all positively impact kids around us. Consistency, respect and time with kids and teens makes a world of difference to them, and ultimately, all of us.

The Best Of Us

I started a short-term full-time job at a local elementary school last week. It’s an IT position during the state SBA testing. I make sure all the Chromebooks the kids use for the testing work effectively. I fix glitches and inventory all of them each day. I’m fortunate that I’ve  got great friends and neighbors who help me out with my kids before and after school so I can swing it. It’s been fun adjusting to work again. Look! I still remember how to make a spreadsheet:

I know these babies inside and out:

When a student has a technical issue during the testing, I sneak in like a ninja and try to figure it out as quickly as possible. I’m in and out of all the third grade classes throughout the day and they know me as the Chromebook Mom or by my official title, Building Online Assesment Team. That’s right, I’m the BOAT. A “team” of one by the way.

Today when I was in between rooms, a little girl reached out and handed this to me:

I mean seriously. How sweet is this?!?! Kids, in general, are my favorite kind of humans but this kid blows me away. She is so thoughtful. She found out my name AND EVEN SPELLED IT CORRECTLY. Many adults can’t do that! It’s gestures like these that make me feel like the world, as crazy as it is right now, will be in great hands after we’re finished messing it up.

Spring Break in Oregon

I’m settling back in at home and tackling a mountain of laundry after a fun trip to Oregon with the kids for Spring Break. There is a fun little hippie gem in Cave Junction, Oregon called the Out ‘N’ About Treesort that we love. I discovered it a few years ago. My kids are awesome little travelers and my vacation comes from watching them run wild in the woods. I don’t plan anything or organize at all. In fact, I just read on the porch swing while they assimilate into the little tribe of kids that run around the grounds. It’s pretty wonderful for all of us.

There are multiple tree house options on the property and a ton of fun unplugged activities for the kids. I’m not sure how they do it but the beds are really comfy too! It’s a beautiful little spot. They fill up fast for the entire season so call ahead if you plan to stay.

On our way home we made our way to Crater Lake and meandered through Deschutes National Forest. We even got to play in snow!

It was a great trip and worth all the laundry.