The title is obviously a misspelling. I wanted to type "School begins", but after some reflection I like the seemingly erroneous title better. Both kids are now school "beings".

Garrison started 4K this fall. We originally had him in an afternoon session at a local 4K that met in a church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The school was highly recommended and not terribly far away. However, the afternoon sessions were just wildly unfair to Garrison. By the end of the day he vacillated between unable to hold his head up at the table and so tired that he had no emotional or physical self-control left. He was there for about two weeks before we pulled him out and enrolled him in a 4K class at a local school run by the school district.

This particular setup has three advantages:

  1. He is now in a morning class.
  2. He rides the bus to and from school.
  3. This is his teacher's last year before she retires.

The morning class is better for him in many ways. He has the most energy in the morning, so he doesn't go to school in the afternoon during one of his lulls. His friends from our neighborhood are also in morning 4K and at the same school, so he can see them in the morning and occasionally in the afternoon. When he was in afternoon 4K is was difficult to impossible for them to get together.

The big downside to the morning classes for him is that he isn't too fond of getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning. To his credit, I haven't yet had to put him on the bus in his pajamas (though I've threatened to do so), but he has cut it close a few times.

The bus ride is something of an adventure for him. He rides it with two other kids from our block, and the ride is short enough that he doesn't get bored. When I was a kid I hated riding the bus. I don't remember much else about those school years, but I do remember how much I hated, hated riding the bus. We lived at the end of the route and in the morning when it picked me up my bus ride was maybe ten minutes long. However, the bus drove the same route in the same direction on the way home, so my afternoon bus ride was a full one hour long. It was one hour that alternated between utter boredom and complete disgust at the bodily fluids being expelled by my fellow bus riders. It was always the wrong temperature, the seats were wildly uncomfortable, and the ride of the bus itself was bone jarring. So, I was apprehensive about putting Garrison through that. We live just two blocks from the school where he'll attend 5K through eighth grade, so he'll be walking to school for the next nine years and will be able to avoid the bus all that time and probably through high school. That makes this year a one-off. So far, he seems to really enjoy the ride and it saves us the trouble of driving him to school and back.

Garrison's teacher this year is in her last year of teaching, so I'm confident that she can handle 18 four and five year olds in a classroom with just one other adult. It's nice to know that he's in veteran hands with his first foray into the public school system.

Dinah is spending two days a week at a local day care. I felt really strongly that she ought to spend some time at a day care because it seems to help kids socialize with other kids. There are other benefits to being in day care (learning to be under the care of other adults; getting over separation anxiety; missing fewer days of school later due to illness; etc.), but the socialization was my biggest worry. That's not to imply that Dinah was in danger of becoming some sort of hermit if she stayed home with Sarah or a nanny. In reality, she seems to be less social than her brother by nature, but social enough to get along with the world. Regardless she is now attending what she calls her "new school".

Beyond the benefits of day care itself, it's good that Dinah is attending daycare because otherwise she would be extremely jealous that her brother got to go to a new school and she didn't. She feels special when she gets out her backpack and sweatshirt and heads off to her "new school" just like her big brother does.

Dinah's language proficiency is progressing well. She is now forming simple three word sentences ("Daddy do it." "Pick me up." "Mommy walk Dalla?") and is using more new words all the time. One of my favorite words of hers is "Dine-up!" which is is a contraction of Dinah and up that she uses to mean, "I'm going to pull myself up here." She seems to be able to keep more of her internal monologue actually internal, so at this point she isn't prone to the stream-of-consciousness rambling that Garrison indulges in on a daily basis.

Dinah seems to have inherited my palate, as she's still pretty much on the Bear Diet. She enjoys corn on the cob, and will tolerate the occasional small taste of carrots and peas, but for veggies that's about it. She really enjoys raspberries and is in for a harsh awakening now that the local raspberry season is ending. She will eat most other fruits as well, so her diet isn't entirely meats and carbs. She enjoys cheese curds, parmesan cheese, feta cheese, sharp cheddar, and some mozzarella cheeses. Clearly she was born in America's Dairyland. She still won't drink milk with a meal (preferring water), but we have successfully gotten her off of bottles for her milk which both Sarah and I viewed as a major victory.

Garrison seems to share Sarah's like for veggies as he's willing to eat green beans, brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower. Both kids will eat potatoes in french fry form, and I've managed to sneak some butternut squash into Dinah by combining it with meatloaf.

One phrase that Dinah knows ("'ssert now.") is an original creation on her part. That's "Dessert now" to a nearly two year-old. She loves marshmallows, chocolate, and whipped cream and isn't shy about asking for them at the end of a meal.

Both kids grew like weeds during the summer, with Dinah growing several inches and Garrison growing more than an inch. We've been marking their progress on a board and the difference between the marks is startling.

Dalla celebrated her 11th birthday in September. She's getting grayer around the muzzle and wider around the hips (that's probably as much our fault as hers) but she's still spry. She killed a shrew last weekend, to add to her lifetime tally of rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and other rodents.

Last December I started working out at the local YMCA to get the exercise that I wasn't getting with the commute to my (then new) job. It took a month or so, but I finally figured out an exercise program that works well for me. Surprisingly, it was weightlifting.

When I was in high school, I worked out regularly with a couple of friends, but none of us really had any idea of what we were doing and I wasn't very serious about it. Predictably, my gains were limited. So, I felt like I had tried it, but it didn't stick and I never really had much interest in trying it again. Then I found my way to Mark Rippetoe's book, "Starting Strength" and after reading through it suddenly understood just how much I didn't know. I started lifting weights again and now I'm hooked. Three times a week for an hour each time, I'm at the gym lifting weights. I don't run on the treadmill. I don't use any stretching anything. I don't use any weight machines. I use a barbell, weights, dumbells, and a power rack. Using just that equipment, I'm able to put 275 pounds on my back and squat all the way up and down fifteen times. And those aren't half-squats, either. Those are honest, below-parallel squats. You can undoubtedly find people who squat more (even much, much more in big-time football and professional powerlifters), but the average adult male at my weight squats around 130 pounds so I feel pretty good about that number. I'm able to pick up over 300 pounds off the floor in a deadlift, which is almost three times more than when I started. My overhead press and bench press numbers aren't terribly impressive but they're slowly getting stronger, too.

That probably sounds like bragging, and maybe it is. But I'm proud of the work that I've put in. It isn't always fun or desirable to get up well before dawn and do unpleasant things at the gym by myself. But I like where the journey is taking me so I keep going back. Even though I haven't lost any weight, my body composition is changing. My core muscles are by far the strongest they've ever been and I can do things I could only dream about previously. For instance, both kids (who together weigh about 70 pounds) sat on my back while I did push-ups in the living room the other day. Earlier this summer I carried both kids up a long, steep grade with loose gravel underfoot while hiking. Those feats probably aren't terribly impressive to everyone, but unless you've tried them you don't understand the amount of work you need to do to get to that point. I don't want to be the Dad who gets winded easily and has to wear size XXL shirts to fit over his beer belly. I want to be the Dad who can keep up with his kids during their athletic pursuits as both they and I get older. They have the benefit of age, so I have to work twice as hard to keep up.