It’s the end of karate (for the kids) as we know it, and I feel (sorta) fine

Nothing lasts forever.

The Beatles. Vacation. Milk.

For us, add to that the kids’ love for karate. I think it’s been about five years now, and they moved up slowly from white belt all the way to black belt. Pretty impressive. We thought they would continue on, learning new skills and techniques like sparring and grappling, weapons, etc.

Nope. Last Saturday, the kids went to their last class at CMB Karate.

After they reached black belt status, their interest in practicing (or going to class) dropped off. As they’ll tell it, they didn’t feel the drive or passion after reaching that pinnacle.

I’m not certain why I feel a bit more bittersweet on this. Josh is dropping band and the trumpet after this year. I feel that karate was a big part of their lives these past five years, and it’s a sign that remnants of childhood are slipping away. They’re growing up, and moving onto other things, whether we understand what those are or not.

Does it mean they’ll never do karate again? No. Of course, they can choose to return to it in the future on their own. For now, that chapter has closed. That’s the end of weekly classes, karate tournaments, and demo team performances (after next week’s last performance of the season.)

You know, maybe it is better this way. It was annoying to constantly force them / remind them to practice. As they get older, they have to make these decisions for themselves, and feel like they want to practice. If you enjoy something, you’ll do it. As parents, we’ll have to continue to learn how to be good guardrails as they explore who they want to be.

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Memorial Day Weekend 2019

I think we had a fairly low-key Memorial Day weekend. What, no out-of-state travel? No running around? Yeah, I guess so.

We got a bunch of clean-up down at the house (in anticipation for a party at our house the following weekend), I purchased and used our new pressure washer, we went to the town Memorial Day parade, and we went to a pool party hosted by some friends Sunday evening.

Pictures below from the parade — Lily and Namita marched with the Girl Scouts, and Josh marched for the last time with the middle school marching band. He’s decided that he’s done playing in band, so this was his last hurrah.

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Oooh, aaaah, we have a new outdoor bar cart

Last Christmas, my sister and her husband bought us an outdoor bar cart for use when entertaining in the backyard. It’s, of course, been cold and rainy these past few months, so no one has needed it. With Memorial Day weekend here, and the weather was good, I felt it was time to open up the box and assemble it. The kids were nice enough to not run away when I volun-told them to help me put it together.

Voila! We have a new bar cart.

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I bought a gas pressure washer over Memorial Day weekend. It’s interesting.

Every year, we get mold on the vinyl siding of our house in areas that don’t get nearly enough direct sun. A stone wall in our backyard gets that way too. Too much shade from pine trees. I once rented a gas pressure washer from Home Depot back in 2014 for the old house, but I found using it to be awkward. After twice paying contractors to clean the outside areas of our house, I think it makes better financial sense to purchase a tool that we will expect to use at least once a year.I wanted to rent one this year, but I guess they’re hot commodities and always unavailable.

There are lots of guides online to read through, and I would recommend understanding your requirements and budget before you invest in a pressure washer. We have average homeowner requirements:

  • Need to clean my home’s vinyl siding of mold annually
  • Need to clean concrete walkways once in a while
  • Need to clean stone retaining walls around the yard annually
  • Need to clean patio maybe annually

No boat to clean. ;)Besides cost, from experience, you also need to balance features against maintenance and portability. I once rented a large gas pressure washer from Home Depot. It was powerful but large and heavy. It was a trial to simply load it up in our SUV. While I like idea of electric for the easy upkeep (no gas, no oil), those models don’t appear powerful enough for cleaning stone or concrete garage floors.I decided on a midrange Ryobi gas model. It provided enough PSI to clean stone, could spray soap when needed, and was portable.

So far, so good. The fuel tank is a little on the small so I have to refill the tank after 30 minutes of use. I would also have preferred an onboard tank for soap/detergent. I was surprised to learn our concrete walkway was filthy and discolored. I was so focused on cleaning the siding and backyard stone wall, I never considered the concrete. I started cleaning the front stoop and the difference in color was dramatic. See the color difference above. Crazy, right?

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The Garage Renovation Project has commenced – Phase 1 (Painting)

A new year, a new home project.

The chaos that is our garage has been bothering me for eons. Yes, that’s right. Eons.

I’ve been cleaning it out slowly these past few months, but that’s only step one. The next phase is to prep the walls, remove old rickety racks & hooks, paint the garage, and install new shelving and track systems for improved organization. I want fewer things strewn about the garage like a minefield or obstacle course, and more items up on walls, out of the way, and easy to find!

I’ve worked out the layout for the future state, and we’ve started painting. I haven’t settled on an exact color, but we’re thinking a grey. Although I love grey, I’m not sure if I want to see grey walls and a grey floor. The jury is still out. For now, I’ve got one wall painted with paint + primer. We still have three more walls plus ceiling to paint, then to install the shelving, and move everything. I’m trying to get it done in stages, and completed in full by August 1st.

Wish us luck.

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Brunch with friends in Morristown for Sheba’s birthday

On May 4th, we drove up north to Morristown to celebrate our friend Sheba’s birthday. For a nice change of pace, we went out for Sunday brunch. It was also the same weekend for the Kentucky Derby, so End of Elm featured a few unique Derby-themed drinks available.

For a hard-to-find restaurant adjacent to the Morristown train station, the Brunch menu was fancy. In case you were dying of curiosity, I opted for the fancy shmancy chicken & waffle sliders.

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Avengers: Endgame was an epic movie, but I liked Infinity War better

**Warning – This will be a spoiler-heavy discussion about Avengers: Endgame (2019). If you haven’t seen it yet for some reason, step away from the website.**

This is it. The big finale. The end of the line for many characters that have been dear to our hearts for the past 22 films. Okay, not for all of the 22 films, but can we agree that this is a big deal?  It’s the end of a saga? Good. Otherwise, we’re gonna need to hash this out.

This was a long film at 3+ hours. I liked that it subverted our expectations at the onset. In the first 20 minutes, the remaining heroes had found Thanos…. and killed him, but achieved nothing. The Stones were gone. To have our heroes return home defeated, and have five years pass. That was bold. What was even bolder? For a film that I knew would feature time travel didn’t employ a reset button. We didn’t get our heroes back. We didn’t get our five years back. Life moved on, for better or worse.

That’s big.

I didn’t expect the newer characters like Captain Marvel to save the day. This was always going to be about the original core characters from the first Avengers film.  But I wasn’t expecting to see Natalie perish. To see Gamora not come back somehow. To see Vision not come back either. To see Thor move on and join the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’ll say that the whole time travel thing was a little too wonky for me. How did Captain America return all of the stones? Did he meet Red Skull? Time travel theory according to Back to the Future is bupkis? Too many questions for me.

Where does the MCU go from here? Besides Spider-Man: Far From Home in another few months, I have no clue.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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The kids on Spring Break

The kids spent a week on their own for Spring Break in April, and I think they enjoyed having a relaxed schedule for a few days. We (the parents) had work, so unfortunately we couldn’t take off or take them fun places. We started off their vacation by the four of us going out to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse for my birthday last Sunday evening, and to celebrate Easter.

The kids spent most of the week watching TV or playing video games. Namita and I worked the entire week, so the kids weren’t against the idea of a chill week without too much responsibility. When we were home, we did things like:

  • celebrating Easter Sunday
  • biking over to Dairy Queen for a ice cream on a hot day
  • celebrating my birthday with dinner at Ruth’s Chris
  • adding a new movie to our vast media library
  • going to visit their friends or bringing them over to our home.
  • had Princeton Tree Care come to remove one dead tree and trim other trees
  • went to see Avengers: Endgame
  • ended Spring Break with Lily getting her braces
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Lily now has orthodontic braces

Lily is the third and final Ipe getting orthodontic braces. Joshua completed his little journey in February, and I’m hopefully almost done with my Invisalign braces in another 6-12 months. Lily has not been happy with the alignment of her teeth, and we support her in this.

Good luck, little girl! I look forward to our combined visits to see Dr. Leiva for the next 12 months.

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Catching up popular films – we watched Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

The Ipes recently stayed in on a less-than-wild Saturday night and watched Crazy Rich Asians (2018). The film came out last year, but now it’s available on HBO Go. Is it a romantic comedy? If so, it’s the first rom-com that I’ve actually liked in a long time. Based on a 2013 novel by the same name, the film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and a whole host of interesting characters.

The film follows a Chinese-American professor (Wu) who travels with her boyfriend (Golding) to Singapore for a relative’s wedding. She would also meet her boyfriend’s family, and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore. The film has fun visuals and cinematography, excellent music, and yeah, it was enjoyable. Yes, now that I think about it, there are many of the familiar rom-com story beats, but the characters and the writing made it very enjoyable.

Also, I always enjoy a film with Michelle Yeoh. 🙂

It’s a must watch film.

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