Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Little League and A Weekend As Mr. Mom

This past weekend was rather busy for me. First T-ball game, Opening Day Parade, BBQ at the beach... Oh yeah and my wife was off to Vegas, while I was in charge of the kids, of which the youngest is 3 months old! Yikes!
Attempting an outing with all three kids!

Recently, I signed my son Scotty up for T-Ball. As my wife can tell you, I've been waiting for this since he was born. He just makes the age cut-off (Has to be 4 by April; turns 4 tomorrow), and he's the youngest on the team, but he's very excited about it. Hard to tell who's more excited between the two of us really. As baseball happens to be my favorite sport, and I am fortunate to be able to pretty much set my own schedule for work, I also agreed to coach. We've had a couple practices, a game, and an opening day parade at this point. All of which have been highly entertaining and - in the words of my assistant coach and childhood friend Jason Beck - "an absolute success!". I haven't had any experience coaching, but as I've heard from some of my older parent friends, coaching T-Ball is really more like herding cats than anything else. So far, that isn't all that far from the truth!  I've learned that being a T-Ball coach requires giving very simple, specific directions, and a lot of positive reinforcement!
Our first game was scheduled for Saturday at 8:30AM. Fortunately, Alison had arranged for a baby sister for the little one, and I was able to get out of the house a little early to get set up, and prepare some warm up activities for my players. The teams trickled in, and we got the game started. I put on my coach hat, and offered up my best advice to Scotty:
"Okay Scotty, what are you going to do after you hit the ball?"
"Run to first base?"
"You got it buddy!"

We were up to bat first and made it through the order without too much trouble. A lot of "Run! Run! Run!" shouts from the coaches, and tons of picture taking and cheering from the parents. It was great fun! It was pretty good comedy as well. The first kid up to bat on the other team hit the ball and ran straight up the middle to the pitchers mound! Poor kid was in tears when he realized his mistake! Cue the positive reinforcement! After the second inning, the other coach and I agreed to call the game a few minutes early because it was getting pretty hot, and the kids were starting to fade.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Took the kids to my buddy Jeff's house to swim while we watched with a few cold brews. Then capped of the day with a evening BBQ with good friends Shelly and Joel at the beach club. I was even able to convince them to take Gabby for a sleepover! Day one down, and the kids are still happy and healthy. Success!

Sunday - Rolling Hills Little League Opening Day

Opening Day! Our league does a parade through town where the kids get to decorate the trucks, and ride in the back. It was great fun for them, and a chance for me to get some great pictures. My dad was very kind to come and keep an eye on the baby for me while I was in the parade with my team. The kids had a blast decorating, and even more fun riding down the street, cheering and waving. The league did an excellent job with the opening day celebration! There were bounce houses and games everywhere, and several food trucks. It was another scorcher, but it was nice to sit in the shade and let the kids run wild on the field...

Alison came home and we decided that even though we were both pretty tired, the day was just too nice not to share a few beers at the beach.

All in all, a great weekend. It was certainly no picnic juggling all the events and kid's needs, but somehow I managed. I always appreciate the job my wife does and try not to take any of the wonderful things she does for granted, but it's good to experience it personally once in awhile to remind myself just how hard she works and what an utter failure I would be in her role. I am extremely grateful for all the wonderful people and events in my life, and this weekend was an perfect example of that!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dave's Trail

One of our best local trails. A lot harder than it looks. Especially at night!

Afternoon Delight from Nic Grillo on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Introducing the Newest Grillo: Natalie Jane

The Grillo Family has a new member! Natalie Jane. Natalie because we liked it (and it has Italian roots), and Jane after my grandmother. 6lbs 13oz, and incredibly sweet! Mom and Natalie are doing great! Gabby is a very proud big sister, and Scotty isn't sure how he feels yet, but he did finally pat her on the head and say "Hi baby Natalie!" 

Gabby loves her new sister!

Grand kid #6 for Papa Scotty!

All dressed up and ready to go home!

Meeting Papa Moak

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Descending Ishibashi

Despite being located near one of the largest cities in the country, we actually have a pretty decent little network of trails. This is the Ishibashi trail, which is located in the Portuguese Bend area of Palos Verdes. It's a pretty short ride from my house, so it's an easy choice when I need to get out for a short escape. Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Camping at Two Harbors, Catalina

I was looking through some pictures today, and came across photos from our camping trip to Catalina this summer. I thought I'd post a few along with some details from the trip. Enjoy!

We decided to take a camping trip to Catalina, and so invited our friends The Milams, who have kids of similar ages as ours, to join us. Alison and Shelly decided they would take the two 3 year olds on the Catalina Express, and Joel and I would take the older kids on my boat. As you can see, even though we were only camping for two nights, there is no such thing as packing light when you are hauling the gear for 9 people. This picture only shows about half of it!

The crossing from San Pedro to Two Harbors was a smooth one, and we arrived just before the girls did on the express. We picked them up from the dock with my boat, and motored over to the east side of the harbor where the campsites are. After anchoring, we launched the dinghy, and transferred all our gear to shore. This was our first camping mission to Catalina, and as such, we slightly underestimated the hike up the hill to our spot. It took us about 30 laborious minutes to get all the gear (pic above) hiked up the hill to our spot. Once we did though, we were presented with this awesome view!
The Harbor as seen from our campsite. You can see Ship Rock in the upper left, and the edge of Bird Rock on the right.
My lonely little boat at anchor
The first night, we barbecued hamburgers for the kids and bacon wrapped hot dogs for the big kids. If you haven't tried them, you're missing out! 
Happy Customer!
Bacon wrapped hot dog and PBR. What's more American than that?!
Scotty would like to demonstrate the proper way to crack a peanut.

We spent most of our time down at the beach, where we enjoyed the nice weather and got some good snorkel time in. The little guys had a lot of fun playing pirate in the dinghy; a great makeshift playpen, as featured on Hint Mama's blog.

Trac-ball! Lots of fun in the water!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Three Weeks Since Collarbone Surgery

3 weeks post-op. The bone is starting to mend.

Well, I've made it three weeks, and things seem to be improving. I had my three week post-op appointment yesterday, and the doc says I'm healing as expected. I'm still having a bit of moderate pain at times, especially in the morning upon waking, but he says that is normal. It's just my bones and muscles working everything out. I was given a refill of Percocet, and advised that a couple a day to manage the painful moments are not a problem. A relief to hear that, as I always try to ditch the pain meds ASAP, not wanting to end up like Rush Limbaugh or something. Call me a masochist, but I also think feeling a little pain is good for me. Reminds me that things are healing. I'm mostly out of the sling, but I still keep it handy for the times when it starts to hurt - usually at the end of the day. I asked about exercise, and the doc says that the stationary bike is still ok, but no running or real bike riding until the 6 week mark. I am free to continue moving my arm, just not to lift anything heavy, or lift it above 90 degrees. I still can't raise it above about 30 degrees on my own anyway, so no issue there. I asked him about that, and he said that it will take some time to regain that muscle strength, but not to worry. Driving hasn't been an issue. I started doing that at 1 week post op. Much easier now without the sling though.

I am still planning to ride the Catalina Gran Fondo on May 14th, but I may opt for the shorter 14 mile version.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pliny the Elder

I'm having it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Collarbone at 1 Week Post-Op

Friday was my first post-op appointment with Dr. McGovern. I had been looking forward to this appointment for several reasons. I was anxious to see the x-rays of the completed repair, and also to find out how soon I could get back to being active.

The first picture below was taken right after completion of the surgery. You can see the plate, and the 12 screws holding it in place. Near the middle, you can see a screw that is not a part of the plate, and on its own. This one was necessary to hold two of the four bone fragments together before the plate was even applied. Quite a wreck I was, but some beautiful artwork here by Dr. McGovern to put me back together.

A better view of the lone screw

I had several questions for the doc at my appointment, mostly related to how soon I can ride again, and what I can do in the meantime in the way of self physical therapy. He tested my range of motion, and found it very satisfactory for this stage in my recovery. He told me that I could reduce use of the sling when I am around the house but told me to wear it out in public, really as a warning to other people not to come up and hang on my arm or anything like that. He cautioned me on not raising my arm above 90 degrees, or lifting anything heavy. He explained that it will take another 4 weeks for things to really solidify, and until then it is still possible to do "silent damage" to the repair. Not interested in doing that, thanks! After the 4 weeks (6th post-op), he will start clearing me to ride again and do more things as my condition allows. Until then, I'll keep doing my pendulum exercises (leaning over and swinging my arm back and forth) and trying to get used to doing everything with my right hand!

This pic is from the appointment on Friday (1 week 2 days post-op). Looks kinda like a caterpillar with long legs! My next appointment is in two weeks. I'll provide more updates then.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Broken Collarbone

Two weeks ago during my weekly Wednesday night mountain bike group ride, I took a spill. A pretty nasty one as it turned out. A trip to the ER produced the x-ray image below, and a diagnosis of a fractured left clavicle. A complete break, being displaced almost 3cm. The ER doc said that it might need surgery, and referred me to a orthopedic specialist. 

Fortunately, I happen to have a good friend and riding buddy who's wife is a PA at an orthopedic clinic. She set me up for a consult with Dr. Brian McGovern at Torrance Orthopedic. She recommended him as "the guy I'd send my husband to in this situation". Good enough for me! Met with him the following Monday, and I liked him right away. Confident, knowledgeable, and covered all of my concerns.  He explained that depending on the nature of the break, there are two ways to treat such an injury. You either let it heal on its own in a sling, or have it repaired surgically with a titanium plate and screws. He said that the surgical option is becoming more prominent in the specialty lately. The malunion rate of the "self healing" option can be as high as 30%, especially when the displacement is greater than 1.5-2cm (me). The malunion rate among the surgically repaired is closer to 3%. Since the displacement of my break was of the larger variety, Dr. McGovern recommended the surgical option for me. A side benefit of the surgical option is also quicker recovery time. 6-8 weeks, versus 10 weeks or more the other way. It also means a sooner return to fitness activities, so that I might maintain some of the fitness that I had begun to accumulate this season. Not that I am in any way comparable to pro cyclists, but when Thor Hushovd broke his collarbone back in 2010, he was racing again at 6 weeks post op. On cobblestones, no less!

As you can see below, I went the surgical route on Wednesday 3/13. According to Dr. McGovern, it was a bit of a mess in there and not a slam dunk case, but he was very happy with the outcome and expects a solid recovery. The first night post op was pretty rough once the surgical nerve block wore off, made worse by the fact that the pharmacy wouldn't fill my percoset prescription because of some sort of clerical error. All I had was Vicodin, and let me tell you... It wasn't near enough. Once I got the percoset the following morning, things were all good. The pain was very manageable after that, and I was quite comfortable on the couch for the next few days. I slept there too, in a semi-upright configuration for the first few nights. I must say, I am very fortunate to have a lovely wife that took excellent care of me while I was a vegetable.

At 1.5 weeks post op, I'm feeling pretty good. Most of the pain is gone, and I'm off the pain meds. Getting dressed still takes some time and assistance (try putting on socks with one hand!). I've been doing some walking/hiking, and even gave the recumbent bike at the gym a whirl. I have my first post op appointment later today, where I hope to learn more about what I can and can't do in the coming weeks. I've picked up some great info from fellow cyclist Mike McQuaide's blog, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get back on the bike soon. I'll update with post op x-rays after my appointment today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

4th of July in Catalina

We decided to do something new for the 4th this year and ended up in Catalina. We were fortunate to be able to rent a friend's vacation house for a few days, and since we now have the means to cross the ocean, it was an easy choice! We called to invite our friends the Milams, and they didn't hesitate to join up on another Grillo-Milam adventure.  Even though I have been to Catalina many times, I somehow managed to avoid being there on what is probably Avalon's busiest weekend. What a blast it was! From the Parade, to the drinks on the beach at Descanso, it was all good.

Since this was one of those goofy years that the 4th falls squarely in the middle of the week, I elected to take Thursday and Friday off and make a nice long 5 day weekend out of it. The plan was that Joel and I would take all the gear and the big kids on my boat, and the wives would ride the Catalina Express with the babies. We departed for Avalon early on the 4th, leaving from the marina around 8AM.

The "big kids" - ready for the three hour tour!

The crossing was nice and smooth. We made it to Avalon in about 50 minutes, not counting the two stops mid-channel to watch the dolphins. It really is amazing how excited kids get over seeing dolphins swim by! We had a bit of time to kill until the parade, and since my brother had reserved a spot for us at Descanso beach, we decided to take advantage of that. A few destroyers later, we headed into town for the parade. The parade was fun to see, complete with the USC marching band. We posted up in front of Luau Larry's, and the kids collected all kinds of candy that was being thrown by the parade. After that, it was back to Descanso for some more quality beach time. Joel had no problem getting used to the island life!

After the beach, we headed back to the house to get dinner going.The Milams insisted on bringing the food for the trip, and it sure was nice. They brought a well marinated tri-tip to BBQ, and it was delicious! Joel was the master BBQ man.

If there was one negative of the trip, I would have to say that the fireworks were pretty bad. Of years past, my parents tell of amazing fireworks shows that you could see directly overhead from where we were moored in front of Descanso beach. Not so much this year. Apparently due to budget cuts, the city of Avalon did a super budget show off the end of the pier in the main harbor that wasn't visible at all from where we were. We occasionally saw a flash of light from over the Casino, but that was it. Needless to say, the kids were rather disappointed.
Thursday brought another beautiful day at Descanso. We again had a prime spot on the beach, directly in from our boat, which made swimming back and forth a lot of fun. At one point, I pulled my dinghy ashore, and it became a makeshift playpen for the little kids.

Our day was spent hanging out on the beach, and occasionally the boats. We were moored next to my Dad's sailboat, so we got to spend time with my parents as well. My brother Alex was also there, and took Gabby out for a paddle board ride.

An excellent trip, and something I look forward to doing again soon! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

Having fun in Palm Springs for Mother's Day!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Monday morning bacon and egg burritos. Just wish I had an avocado lying around!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where have we been?

Time to catch up with the Grillos! So many fun new things going on and it's been awhile since I've had a chance the motivation to write about it. 

LA Marathon 3/16/12
When last I updated here, Alison and I were training for the LA marathon. Things were going well with that, right up until about mid way through my training program. I was out for a 14 mile run, and at about mile 9, I began to experience an incredible pain of the outside of my left knee. Tried walking a bit and then running, but the pain was like someone sticking a large needle deep into my knee. Fortunately I was near my parents house, so I walked there and got a ride home. Turns out that I had injured my IT band. A rather common running injury, but tough to recover from. I gave it a few weeks of rest and stretching before I tried to run again. When I did, it was painfully obvious by mile 2 that this was going to take more time to heal. I gave it another month. By then I was going stir crazy. I did get out for a few bike rides, but I could still feel the dull ache in the knee, so I tried to limit that. By the time I was able to run three miles without too much pain, I was so far behind in my marathon training that there was just no way I was going to be ready in time. Alison however experienced no such maladies, and kept right on trucking with her training. I'll admit, I was a bit jealous as marathon day approached and she was in super form as you can see...

Since the marathon was the day before our anniversary, we made a weekend out of it and stayed at a hotel up in Santa Monica. We went out for an awesome sushi dinner at Roku and turned in early after a nice walk back in light rain. I had decided to ride the course on my bike as she ran it. I fitted her with a Garmin GTU10 personal locator so that I could see her position at any time on an app on my phone. It was pretty neat to watch her little blue dot run the streets of LA! After dropping her off at Dodger Stadium, I drove back to the hotel and hopped on my bike. I planned to meet up with her somewhere on Hollywood Blvd, and headed out that way. It was kinda fun to be out on the LA streets on my bike that early in the morning. Hardly any cars, and a feeling of stillness that is rare in LA. I made my way across Beverly Hills, and up the hill to Sunset Blvd to check in with Garmin. At that point, she was still near downtown, so I continued on east. I stopped again at Hollywood Blvd and the 101 Fwy. She was only about a mile away at this point, so I posted up on the side of the street and waited for her to come by. It was fun to watch the blue dot get closer and closer until I finally saw her. This was at mile 10, and she looked pretty good!
Alison at Mile 10, still looking fresh!
I was able to follow her along most of the route, and snagged a few more pics...

Mile 20, Feeling it!
Ocean Ave. 1/4 mile to go!
In just a shade over 4 hours, she crossed the finish line. 26.2 miles! An amazing accomplishment! I am very proud of her! 
New Boat
We picked up a new boat! I've been thinking about it for years, and the right opportunity came along at the right time. I happened to be chatting with a friend at a kid's birthday party a few months ago who mentioned that he was considering selling his boat. Curious, I inquired further. As it turns out, it was just the kind of boat I had thought about. A 21ft Boston Whaler Outrage. Perfect for runs to Catalina with the family! After a sea trial and agreement on terms, we became the proud new owners of "Milly". 

So far, we've been to Catalina twice, and it's been a lot of fun. Our first trip over was to go fishing with Gabby and my Dad. We went ashore in Avalon to grab some lunch and supplies, and spent the afternoon fishing for sand dabs. I think we came back with 20. Gabby had a blast!

Setting Hoop nets on the last night of lobster season 2012! 
Stay tuned... Lots of fun stuff planned for the summer!

Friday, November 11, 2011

LA Marathon Training Begins

I've been a runner for most of my adult life, competing in races here and there, but mostly the shorter distances. Cross country in high school, 5Ks, 10Ks, and more recently, Half Marathons. But never the runner's ultimate achievement: The Marathon. I know, people run Ultras and stuff, but that's just crazy. Sure, I've done plenty of "cyclist's marathons", but according to my friends who have done both, the marathon is definitely harder. Alison's story is pretty much the same, so awhile back, we decided to run a marathon. Since we live in LA, we decided to run the LA marathon. Natural choice, no? I have a far off hope of qualifying for Boston, but I don't think that's a very realistic goal for my first marathon. That would take a time of 3:10, and I'm going to be more like 3:35. Having recently read Hal Higdon's Marathon, I elected to use his 18 week training program. He offers multiple iterations of his program for different levels of runners. I went with the Novice 2 program. This program suggests that it is for people who may or may not be running their first marathon, but have a history of running and run an average of 20-30 miles per week. Right in my wheelhouse.

I've just come off a mini break of about a week after running the LA Half Marathon on Oct 30th. I PR'ed in that one at 1:44. My goal was sub 1:45, so I'm pretty happy with that. This week marks 18 weeks to go until the LA Marathon, so time to get off my butt and begin training. The program is basically short to mid length runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and the long run on Sunday. Fortunately, I still have Saturday to get out on the bike! Alison is following the same program, so we are working in our runs where we can. For me so far, the only place I can fit in the weekday runs is in the morning before work. Twice this week, that meant getting out the door at 5AM in the 45 degree super dark morning. I snagged the headlight off my bike so I can see where I am going. That's been working pretty well, but I think I'll need to pick up one of those lights that you can wear on your forehead. I also picked up a running beanie when I was out today. I tried one of my normal wool beanies on Tuesday, but by the time I was done, that thing was just gross. Wednesday was better. I didn't have any morning appointments, so I was able to get out for a run with Alison. We put Scotty in the BOB, and set off for a 5 miler. We wisely parked in the Starbucks parking lot so that we would be able to easily talk ourselves into a post-run latte. Thursday was another early morning job, but a bit warmer.
Even though it's been cold and dark, and will continue to be, I must say that I am happy to be training for a race again. I think I run better and follow a plan better when I am doing it for a race. As usual, you can follow my training via the widget on the side of the blog, but I am sure I'll be back here soon to write some more!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Gabby!

Off to Seaworld for Gabby's 7th Birthday! But not before a stop for donuts!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Home Improvement Project #1 Complete!

Well, it took the better part of two weekends, but the dog run is done! The pup now has a nice big fenced-in area to run around in. A big thanks to my dad and brother for helping out!