#19 – Start Playing Piano Again

One of my biggest regrets was my choices with music.  When I was in elementary school, I played the violin.  I was no Itzhak Perlman, but I was part of the Littleton Honor Orchestra and I actually enjoyed playing.  It’s amazing what we do and think as children, and as I approached Middle School, it quickly became apparent that playing the violin wasn’t cool.  After all, I was a football player and my friends made it known that I couldn’t do that and be a music nerd at the same time.  So I quit.  Being 10 times the violinist that I ever was a football player, I obviously made a bad choice.

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(The only known picture of my playing violin.  Don’t ask me about the ridiculous getup because I don’t remember why we had to wear costumes.  But I think this was from our 6th Grade continuation ceremony.  The only thing I remember is that I played “The Impossible Dream” with another violinist in front of the entire school and it’s a great memory to me.)

Still, I always enjoyed music, and we had that old piano sitting in the corner.  I finally decided that I could do that and my friends would never have to know.  So, when I was about 13, I started taking piano lessons from Mr. Myers, the old guy who lived behind us, and who was previously my violin teacher.  I played for a few years, but once I reached High School, there were too many other distractions, so once again, I quit.  I really loved playing piano, but I can honestly say I never developed into the kind of pianist that I wanted to be, mostly because I was lazy and didn’t want to practice.  Fast forward 15 years, and in 2001, after I graduated from college, I decided to start playing again.  I bought myself a keyboard and found a new teacher.  I did that for several years and, as before, really enjoyed it.  But once again, life took over.  After we moved in 2009, I sold my keyboard and decided I was probably done playing.

I guess you get an itch for something that you can sometimes never scratch.  Once the girls all graduated High School, and I finished my Master’s degree, and life settled down just a little, I told Felicia I wanted to start playing again.  I talked to my folks about getting the old piano moved to my house and we got that done just yesterday.  It’s like having an old friend around and I can’t wait to start playing again.  With modern technology, there are apps and programs and YouTube videos galore, so I don’t know if I’ll be taking lessons again, but I do know that some of my free time will be dedicated to playing again.  I may never be Billy Joel, but it’s not going to stop me from trying!

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#18 – Family Picnic

When I was growing up, we used to do picnics in the park all of the time.  At least a couple of times every summer, we’d just get the whole family together, eat a bunch of food and play volleyball, softball or any number of other games.  At some point though, these just stopped happening.  I think we only ever did one when the girls were little and we hadn’t done one since Matt was born.  So, I decided it was time to try to throw one together.  I picked a park (sort of) and reserved a shelter on the Sunday before Labor Day and invited friends and family to come along.  Honestly, I had no idea how many people were going to show, but we did it anyway.

The park we were at had a great shelter, but fortunately, it wasn’t much of a park.  Besides the shelter, there was a bathroom, and that’s about it.  It’s more of a pit stop along the Platte River bike path, so there wasn’t a play structure for the younger kids, or even any grass to setup a volleyball net.  Still, we had corn hole, a BBQ, and shade from the 93 degree heat.  We ended up with about 30 people, and thankfully my sister-in-law Bernice brought water balloons for the kids.  They actually went down and played in the river after lunch and overall, I’d say it was a success.  Besides the heat, we had plenty of food and a lot of fun just hanging out.  I plan on doing this again next year, but definitely at a better venue.

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#17 – Try Paddle Boarding and/or Kayaking

Both of these activities looked like a lot of fun.  Obviously paddle boarding has gained a lot of popularity the past few years.  You can’t go to a lake without seeing them everywhere, and we even saw them on the river a few years ago when we went rafting down the Colorado.  My friend Jeff picked up a couple earlier this summer and while I was in California for training, I had a couple of opportunities to try it out!

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Under his expert tutelage, I was able to stand up almost immediately.  Now, if you’ve never tried this, you probably assume that it looks pretty easy.  I know I did.  I thought, “how hard can it be to just stand on a board?”  Well let me tell you, it’s harder than it looks!  You really have to use your entire core to stay balanced, and then you have to paddle without disrupting the flow of everything.  I did pretty good my first time and didn’t go into the drink until we were almost done.  Oddly enough, my feet hurt the most out of everything, and I think I just lost my balance.  Before I knew it, I was wet.  But, as it was in the 90s, that wasn’t all bad.

We went one more time to the same lake before I returned home, and again, it went well until the end.  I had back-to-back dunkings before calling it quits.  It is quite the workout, more so than you would first imagine, but it is a tremendous amount of fun.  I’m pretty confident that we’ll invest in a couple of these by next summer.  I still want to try kayaking at some point, but I’m going to check this one off the list!

#16 – A Movie at Red Rocks

Red Rocks is one of the best venues for a concert that I’ve ever been to.  You certainly can’t beat the view and the acoustics are amazing.  However, every summer, they pick a select number of movies to show and I thought it’d be fun to take Matt to one.  I was really hoping to make the Top Gun showing, but unfortunately, that didn’t work with our schedule.  But, while Felicia was in California, they were having a showing of The Mighty Ducks, so Matt and I took advantage of it.  He’d never seen the movie, so that made it even better.  I think he was a little unsure of it, being a hockey movie and all, but I reassured him that it was a genuinely funny and enjoyable movie.

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We packed some snacks and got to the venue pretty early, so we were able to get some really good seats.  They started the evening off with a bunch of performances from the School of Rock, which for the most part was entertaining, and when it finally got dark, they started the movie.  The place was pretty much full, and the whole experience was a lot of fun, especially when you had people shouting out famous quotes and pretty much everyone in the place launching into a “DUCKS! DUCKS! DUCKS!” chant.  Matt had a lot of fun and really liked the movie, so much so that he came home and immediately watched again the next day to fill in some of the gaps he missed.  If you ever have the chance to a catch a movie at Red Rocks, I highly recommend it.  It was a great time!

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