SARAH and her exchange students are participating the Questival 24 hour adventure race this weekend. Good luck team #exchangestudentsrock !

2014 Concerts

David, Peter Miles, Daniel

Daniel continues to excel at drumming.  His skill is impressive, as he practices very well and has a good instructor (although it would be even better if Janel lived around here)…  David began playing euphonium this year.  His teacher chose the instrument for him, after having him try several, because of the nice tone he produced even before he began lessons.  We enjoy having our little musicians around the house.

David played in elementary band, which is made up of students from four elementary schools that feed into Aylen Junior High.  Daniel was in the Concert Band this year.  The picture above shows the boys with the former band director at Aylen, Peter Miles.  He was director when the girls went to Aylen and he started Sarah playing the bassoon.  Click the photo to see more pictures from the two concerts.

2014 Elementary Track Meet

Click for more photosThis year the Puyallup School District again held its elementary school track meet.  With Daniel off to junior high school, David was the only Averill participating.  He ran in the 4×100 relay and also the 800 meter.  These events are always tremendous fun – not so much for what happens in the races, but mainly for the interactions with all the kids.  And David is so very social that he is an absolute blast to watch all day.

After David ran the 800 (video below), he was speaking with the superintendent, who later shared with me that he got a kick out of his conversation with David because, while they were talking there was a line of junior high girls at the fence saying, “Hi David” and pretty much insisting on getting his attention.  It seems everybody knows this kid!

Click the photo to see more from this great day.

Track Highlights

Aylen track team

Daniel had his first season of Junior High track and he LOVED IT!!!  He is such a gifted runner (so is David, but we’ll get to him) and he seems to get stronger as the races get longer.  The longest junior high races are 1600 meters (1 mile).  For the first couple track meets, seventh-graders are only allowed to run Junior Varsity; after that, it’s whatever they qualify for.  Varsity and J.V. run at the same time so sometimes it’s confusing to watch.  In the first race, Daniel finished first overall.  He explained that it was because one of his teammates – a fast 9th grader – was unable to compete that day.

For the second race, you need to watch the video.  With good competition from the 9th grader mentioned above, Daniel finished in under 5 minutes!  I won’t spoil the race results, but it comes down to the end.  I will say that both boys established new Personal Records in this race.  Take 5 minutes and watch.

Meanwhile, David competed in the Elementary Track Meet (there’s only one for the district).  Although there are some good runners, David’s size and Ethiopian heritage render the race one in which the rest of the competitors can only hope to come in second (in the 800).  He runs hard and only tries to beat the clock (which really means the others will finish far off in the distance).  Click on the picture at the top to see a select set of pictures.  You’ll find the boys running, watching/cheering teammates, talking with the Superintendent (who takes a very strong interest in the boys – he’s super supportive), and generally having a good time.  David’s 800 meter video is posted below.

Spring Fair 2014

When you live in Puyallup, you start to take The Fair in stride.  In September, you’ll have 17 days of horrible traffic somewhat offset by the great time you’ll have on those couple days you actually attend.  In March, there’s the Spring Fair, which is a much smaller event taking only four days with much smaller daily attendance (some would say more reasonable daily attendance).

This year’s Spring Fair gave an opportunity to expose Ermias (pictured with David) to the experience in a perfect setting.  He loves spending time with his cousins and they love showing him around.  The kids played games, ate fair food, and generally had an awesome time.  Welcome to America, Ermias.

Easter 2014

David and Daniel

Easter is time for the greatest of celebrations as we commemorate Jesus’ triumph over death on our behalf.  He is risen indeed!  This year, the boys had a small egg hunt at our house and the main event was at Julie & Cindy’s.  Weather was fantastic and the crowd was almost big enough to fill their great yard!  At this point, Ermias is tightly connected with David as seen in many of the accompanying photographs.

Daniel’s First Daffodil Parade

Daniel – focused

As a seventh-grader, and a member of the Aylen Junior High Band, Daniel got to march and play in the Daffodil Parade this year!  It was so much fun to see him out there, and I think he had a great time too.  This year the parade was held during Spring Break, and many students were not around, so they put all the feeder junior high bands with the high schools and had them march together.  Daniel marched in the drum line with Puyallup High School.  While there, we ran into one of Janel’s friends from junior high, Ashley, and her family.  Click the picture to see more.

Spring Break in Las Vegas

In ‘n Out Burgers

Sary-Jo and the boys went to Las Vegas for Spring Break!  What were we thinking??? Well… they went to visit Sarah, Kyle and Caio, who happen to be living in Las Vegas right now.  The visit was enjoyable, entertaining and educational.  While there, they saw a show, Recycled Percussion, in which David got called up on stage.  They did some hiking in the great outdoors.  They also visited a school presentation including a number of survivors of the Holocaust.  It was so interesting to hear first-hand how these people endured and are educating others.  What a treasure that we won’t have with us for too many more years.  The kids also went rock climbing and toured the Strip.  One more thing – Sary-Jo won a bunch of money on the penny slots.  Click the picture to see more.

So Proud

Daniel (The Great!)

Daniel made the Honor Society in 7th grade.  This is an accomplishment regardless of other activities or life experiences.  The fact that he kept his grades up while participating in every sport the school offered, in addition to club sports and church activities, says a lot about his work ethic and character.  When you add in that this is only his fourth full year of school, it’s nothing short of a miracle!  Here’s a picture from the induction ceremony – click it to see a few others.

California Visit

Mid-winter break was awesome!  Here’s basically a day-by-day account:

Daniel, our own “Ethiopian Super Natural”

We took our time enjoying the waterfront and the Exploratorium, which is similar to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.  On the pier next to the Exploratorium is an exhibit that records sounds and then plays them back 12 hours later.  Since our visit was shortly after the football season and the Seahawks won the Super Bowl (43-8 in case any Denver fans forgot), David went by the microphone and yelled, “Go Seahawks!”  Unfortunately, we weren’t going to be around at precisely midnight when it played back.

I get so much joy out of watching the kids interact with Science exhibits, and this place had so many interactive exhibits!  It was incredible to watch in wonder at their exploration.


Sarah & Caio joined us on a tour of a couple wineries.  The first is an incredible Italian castle, Castello di Amoroso.  It’s an amazing place and well worth the tour.  The second is the winery that produces my all-time favorite Merlot (and now my favorite Zinfandel, and a couple other reds).  We sampled a significant number of wines and discover
ed that Sarah and I have a very similar palate.  We both signed up for the Markham wine club.  The first place was for the tour; the second for the wine!

Chef Ryan

After the wineries, we went back to Ryan and Janel’s home for a rather-impressive tri-tip dinner (and some good wine). Ryan’s parents made the drive and it was great to spend time with them.  Then we played games and the kids goofed off!

A bit conspicuous

Next,  we wore our Seahawks’ gear and got pictures with the San Francisco skyline.  We toured Alcatraz (yes, it was actually the first time for many of us and it was very interesting).  People made jokes but treated us very well, especially considering this was just a few days after the Super Bowl!  Even though Allison and Eileen are 49ers fans, they indulged us with the pictures.


One of the things we enjoy while traveling is touring college campuses. We went to Berkeley and had Ryan as our tour-guide. As an added bonus, Janel and Ryan had done their homework and found an excellent Ethiopian restaurant near the campus. Dinner was awesome. The next day we went to Stanford and caught up with Sarah Howard and kids.  What fun!  Then we visited Janel’s school and classroom.

Click on any picture to see the rest of that gallery.

At Stanford