Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cold train running

For the third consecutive year, we went to Day Out With Thomas, an event at the historic Heber Valley Railroad that is all things Thomas the Tank Engine. We met some friends there this year and were hoping for a fun time.

It was fun but cold. Really cold, at least for Memorial Day weekend. Heber City is about 1,000 feet up from us, it was mostly cloudy, the wind was blowing and it was before midday. The conditions sort of sapped the fun out of the event, and Littlest, who seemed to be coming down with something, wasn't his usual energetic self

Yes, the boys did get to play with some trains. We did buy some Thomas stuff, and I'm happy to report we made it out spending less than $40 (last year it was near $100). We got our picture taken with Thomas -- the even features an actual working Thomas train, though it's not a real engine, it does move along the track with the other cars -- and did take a train ride, on which thankfully we found seats in the enclosed coaches rather than the outdoor ones which are popular this time of year. Littlest did perk up, too.

But it just wasn't the same. We left sooner than we did last year, drove to Park City for lunch (the boys did great in the restaurant) and came home, somewhat exhausted. Our day didn't quite go according to plan, but it was a good start to the Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Leaps and bounds

Littlest turned 2 this week, and I'm amazed how much he's changed in the last couple months.

Don't get me wrong -- he's still the sweet, exuberant 24 pounds of nonstop energy he was before. But it's just interesting to see his vocabulary expand, his understanding of the world around him grow, and his interaction with others develop. Today, I called home from work, and while Wife was talking to me on the cordless, Littlest picked up the other phone, listened to us and then said "bye." I almost didn't catch it, either.

His favorite toy lately has been the giant plastic ball that shapes fit into. When he gets them all placed, he applauds himself, something he's been doing a lot of lately. Eldest went through the same milestones, but his were more obvious because it was only him. With two children, you are trying to recognize more of these moments, and sometimes they sneak up on you, perhaps more with the youngest. And when Littlest applauds, I have to make sure to applaud along with him. A standing ovation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

School's out for summer

Eldest's last day of the school year was today. Despite him switching schools in the middle of the year, the last 8 1/2 months went quick.

After the last four months at his new school, we know we made the right move. We've seen his progress, and though it's a little sad that many of his friends are moving on to kindergarten, we can look forward to him continuing with the same teacher in the fall (he was in 4K instead of 3K when we switched schools, his late birthday means he won't start kindergarten until 2009).

Today was a graduation of sorts, with all the kids getting diplomas, a few including Eldest receiving diplomas welcoming them back next fall. The kids put on a play (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, all the boys played Papa Bear!), got to bounce in a bounce house and hung out at school together one last time. Littlest even had fun, at one point sitting with all the older kids (kudos to the teacher for letting him). A good time, but bittersweet. One year down, 14 more to go before college. They better not all go this quickly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blog idea, come to me now!

I'm trying to get into the habit of coming home from my slightly expanded work schedule, making some tea, and blogging, either to this site and/or my NFL blog. Here I am, tea steeping, at my computer ... and my mind is ablank.

My first thought was to do another list, but nothing good was coming to mind. I pondered typing up my five favorite old Atari games, or better yet, my five favorite old Activision games for the 2600, but I don't think I could come up with just five. So that's for another time.

Then I thought about blogging about my day, but it wasn't that eventful. It was a nice Mother's Day -- we went to Red Butte Garden for a little hike and then out to lunch at Winger's, and eventually I had to work. See, not that eventful -- I just summarized it in one sentence.

I theorized writing about how the Jazz are pissing me off by winning. It's a myth that sports journalists root for a home team; we mostly root for whatever makes our lives earlier. The Jazz winning and continuing their season isn't making my life easier.

I just completed my first four-day stretch on the expanded schedule, but the job itself is boring even me. So none of that.

Finally, I decided on blogging about how I didn't know what to blog about. Hope you liked it.

I fought the lawn ...

I mowed the front lawn for the first time this year, and I must say, I feel encouraged.

Every year, I try to get a nice lush lawn out front, and every year I still get bare spots. Some years some new grass has grown, only to die over the summer in the heat (particularly when we go on vacation, not having a sprinkler system doesn't help). This year, I took extra care to spread more seed, add fertilzer, pack it down with peat moss and water religiously. And ... I'm growing more new grass than any other year.

I finally mowed today, and I'm not out of the woods yet. There are some weeds, and I'm worried there will be another clover assault like in past years. I'm not growing grass everywhere, so I'll need to throw more seed down. And I still don't know what I'll do during vacation to get the new grass through the summer.

But this is a good start. Just don't ask me about the back lawn and it's monster dandelions.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Silver bullets

(In an effort to blog more on days where I don't feel much like recapping my day, I'm going to bring back the random top five list.)

TOP 5 BOB SEGER SONGS

Don't ask why this popped into my head as a blog topic. I got to thinking about it after hearing an old WLS aircheck that included "Horizontal Bop" and one thing led to another to this point.

1. Against the Wind: One of my favorite songs, not just by Seger. I may have written about this song before: The singer reflects on the passage of time and how much he's learned and how much he hasn't. My favorite line: "Deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out" -- essentially what I do as a newspaper copy editor.

2. Roll Me Away: Follows the usual Bob Seger theme of finding what's lacking in one's life, and how it's a journey that might never reach a conclusion. Used to perfection at the end of "Mask."

3. Traveling Man/Beautiful Loser: These two songs are paired on a live album, and it's a curious pairing -- one song is about someone afraid to settle down, the other is the opposite, about someone afraid to take a chance. I wonder if he paired them purposely or if they just melded together musically.

4. Night Moves: The song that launched other Seger songs about the same reflection on life, the amazement on how quickly it's gone. For years, I thought the line "How far off I sat and wondered" was "Hopped on a rock I sat and wondered." Wife still makes fun of me for that.

5. Rambling Gambling Man: Just a fun rock song, a good break in concert I would imagine when he gets too serious.

Finally, the three Bob Seger songs I could never hear again and not be sad: "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" (which probably wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so overplayed, blame Tom Cruise for that), "Understanding" and "Shakedown."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A little busier

For the last 16 months, I've been working part-time, 2-3 nights a week.

I'm about to bump up to 3-4 nights.

My earlier situation was not permanent, and a hole at the newspaper opened up that was, but at an extra day per week. I'd been working three nights seemingly every weeks for the past few months anyway, so we decided to give this a try.

When I racheted my schedule down, it was with the hope I'd pick up alternative sources of income -- freelance editing and writing. Having those two days of work made me somewhat complacent, where I wasn't seeking that out. I'm hoping the extra day is the impetus to look beyond the newspaper for work. It's an odd catalyst, but I don't particularly want to work more out of the house. We should be OK for the summer, as I'm not picking up that many more days and it would be nice to bank a lot of this extra money. We'll reassess come September, but for now, this is the plan -- work more to work the schedule that benefits us the most.

I figured this out: I'm losing about 12 summer nights, and I love summer nights. It's my responsibility to make sure those 12 less nights with my family are worth it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Us at 15

May 4, 1993. We meet at The Chancery in Wauwatosa. Wife is wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt and jeans, and flashes me the cutest smile I'd ever seen while saying hello.

Fifteen years ago today, Wife and I met for the first time. She confirmed what I was wearing -- a green and blue rugby from The Gap that I wore a lot in the early '90s. We met for a few beers, and she was patient as I kept glancing at the TV to see how the Lakers-Suns playoff game was going (it's an I-can't-help-it thing with sports journalists).

It was a fun first date, we talked a lot, made plans to see Jimmy Buffett together (I was buying tickets the next morning). I walked her back to her car and kissed on her cheek before she drove away.

Fifteen years later, look what we've accomplished, the best being our two sons. It's funny how my life changed that day, how I can divide it between before we met and after, starting May 4, 1993.

Thanks for the 15 years, L. I love you.

One last thing, I looked it up: Suns 107, Lakers 102.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May, I

(Note: Another post about the crappy spring weather in Utah. You've been warned.)

After a long winter and a hit-or-miss spring (at least before we moved to Utah it was hit or miss), I've always considered May as the turning point of the year. School was winding down come May. The sports world, and subsequently work, isn't as crazy come May (Jazz playoffs notwithstanding). The weather improves in May. Though baseball began a month ago, any little league or softball season I played in started in May. Everything turns green by May.

So what happened in Salt Lake City on May 1, 2008? It snowed.

It warmed up the past few days, and it looks like the leaves on our big tree are starting to finally break out past their buds. But I can't stress this enough: IT SNOWED! Hard, too -- I've seen snow in Milwaukee in May, but barely enough to collect. This snow whitened the lawn (thankfully, not the driveway, I would have blown a gasket if I had to shovel in May).

I made it to May, and May thumbed its nose at me. Now, I just need to make it to May 5, when the temperature should reach the 70s, the leaves should finally emerge, and I can be happy I reached the turning point. Bring the green.