Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

No flashbacks tonight. No resolutions to share. No reflections on the past or the future. I'm just enjoying an easy night, waiting for midnight, doing some iTunes maintenance, and maybe having a beer later. Everyone else is asleep, though I might wake Wife up at midnight. All that said, Happy New Year! Bring on 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Decadent

I declared this to Wife a few days ago, and I'm reiterating it for everyone else -- this decade that is coming to a close was officially a blur.

What brought the blur into focus was remembering working the night of Y2K -- 10 years ago. It doesn't seem that long ago.

So what blurred this decade so brilliantly? Kids? 30s? Just being busier, trying to get through every day, week and month that we don't appreciate each day, week and month? I'm not sure. I just know the 1970s, '80s and '90s didn't zoom like this.

Twenty years ago, celebrating New Year's Eve with some friends, I tried to explain the significance of the 1980s to them, each of whom were born in or around 1970. I wanted to explain how we defined ourselves by the previous 10 years, and how the '80s were what we knew best. Unfortunately, after several beverages, I didn't make as much sense as I wanted, starting off by saying "The last decade lasted 10 years ..."

Twenty years later, I'm looking at this last decade as being even more defining. Let's hope that continues in the 2010s -- but just not as fast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A worthwhile hiatus

Yes, it's almost been two months since my last post, but I had a good reason -- I wrote a novel.

I participated in National Novel Writing Month, which challenges would-be writers to pen 50,000 words in November. After years off wanting to write something beyond a short story, and after a few mis-starts, I did it -- I wrote 50,000 words in the form of a complete short novel.

I haven't yet to read anything I wrote, giving myself a little more time before I delve back into it. And I really don't think I wrote anything that interesting, but in a way, that's not the point. I wrote a fictional book, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

So, last month I poured all my creative efforts into the novel and didn't blog here. I have no excuse for December, but at least I started again before the end of the decade. See you soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ready for spring

Yes, the title says it all, I'm annoyed with winter and it's still fall.

It snowed here in the Salt Lake Valley yesterday, and was in the 30s again today. Yes, it's supposed to warm up and feel like Utah autumn again, but the snow lost its novelty on me quickly, especially this morning when I had to brush the car off.

I do like bundling up and going for walks when the weather is this brisk (and there is now snow to navigate -- fortunately, nothing really accumulated on the sidewalks), but that has been the only redeeming quality of this cold spell. That will wear off soon, too. I'm ready for next baseball season, even though this one hasn't finished (go Phillies, by the way).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Break out the rakes

Fall finally seemed to arrive in Salt Lake City. By this time each fall, I've already raked a few times, but this autumn was odd. The leaves weren't changing colors and falling off by mid-October.

Well, just in the past few days, our maple turned red, our other tree's leaves went yellow, and suddenly, our lawn was full of leaves. I took the boys outside after dinner to rake, and in 10 minutes, we managed a big enough pile for Littlest to jump into.

I don't mind raking every fall; in fact, I kind of look forward to it. I know some people curse their trees for the leaves, but I see it as the tradeoff -- the trees provide shade, scenery and oxygen, we rake in return. And, it's a nice sign of fall, even if it was a few weeks late.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ski season approaches

We live in Utah, but our family are barely skiers. Wife went a few times in the first few years we lived here, and I went twice, taking lessons both times. Then we had kids and I haven't gone since.

As I type this, I'm looking at the used pair of skis we bought Eldest. We've been promising he could try skiing for a couple years now, but we haven't taken him or signed him up for lessons -- falling into the same no-time trap that has kept us from going skiing. So, we bought the skis, thinking this would force us to get him started. Many of his friends his age already are skiing, and we know he'd love it, so we made the commitment by buying the used skis. We figure he'll be able to pass them to Littlest, though I'm not sure if Littlest will be as enthused (he's more of a climber than a speedster).

And maybe, we'll go again, too. I took the lessons six years ago believing that I'm never going to get the opportunity to ski so easily (the resorts here are so close) if we ever moved. I don't like going fast, and I hate the ski lifts with no safety bars, but I wanted to give it a try, and for those two times, it didn't suck. I can see Eldest becoming a good skier, so I may have only a couple years before he's skiing black diamonds while I'm stay on the green circles.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday night lights

I took Eldest to a high school football game tonight. I'm not working Friday nights during the fall, and I haven't seen a game in a long time. Eldest has never seen a football game outside of what I try to get him to watch on TV. With early Saturday soccer games the next few weeks, tonight was the best night to go if we were going to see a game this season.

When the game first started, Eldest was simply taking it all in, I think. Football might be one of the tougher sports to explain to a 5-year-old, so I don't know how much he understood, but he seemed to follow some of it. The game unfortunately was a bit of a snoozer -- the visiting team took a 35-0 lead by halftime, and we were sitting in the home bleachers.

In the first quarter, we walked to get hot chocolate, and Eldest saw a souvenir table where glow sticks were on sale. For the next quarter and a half, all I heard was "Is it halftime" because I said we could maybe buy one then. After getting the glow bracelets and wandering around a bit, Eldest seemed energized. I bought him a hot dog, which he ate quickly. He seemed to be more excited to watch the game and was clearly having fun. Eventually, he asked to go -- it was getting chilly, the game had slowed down to 35-7, and he was getting tired. But it was a fun night, and I'm hoping to take him to one more game before the end of the season.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still the tallest

Eldest has been a kindergartner for a little more than a month now. He's doing great, has made some good friends (boys with whom they formed a "Star Wars" club) and looks forward to school every day. We enrolled him at Salt Lake City's Open Classroom school -- a charter school in which the parents help the teacher teach the class. It's been fun for me, not only to watch Eldest in class once a week and to be integrally involved in his education, but also to be part of the class. The last three Wednesdays, I've been teaching a mini course on dinosaurs, which has been fun.

He's grown up so fast -- I'm amazed to see him go through the lunch line (he's full-day twice a week), sit down with his friends, and not be fazed when I go. And yes, he's the tallest in his class, though there's on girl in one of the other kindergarten classes that might be a smidge taller (and a few boys who are close -- two are his good friends and I've been jokingly calling them the "frontcourt" because they'd make a good basketball team). But he's also standing tall for another reason -- he's loving kindergarten.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Food stuffs

Littlest is a skinny 3-year-old, much like I was 30-something years ago. It's simply his metabolism, not because he doesn't eat. And today, he ate.

We're wrapping up a trip to Moab, and today we hiked at Arches National Park and swam in the hotel pool. We've done this for a few days now -- hiked and swam. The combination must have sent Littlest's appetite into overdrive, because I have never seen a 32-pound tall 3-year-old eat as much as he did today.

First, he ate a big breakfast, including a whole bowl of Apple Jacks, part of a bagel, half an apple (no idea why he ate Apple Jacks with an apple), some yogurt and chocolate milk. On the way to Arches, he wanted some Pringles, so we gave him the can, which was a mistake. He ate about two-thirds of a big can of cheddar cheese Pringles, and he wasn't just casually munching on them -- he was eating them as if there was a deadline. Maybe he thought Eldest was going to take the can away, but whatever the reason, we had to actually clean him up of cheese residue when we finally parked the car.

Littlest didn't eat a lot of lunch, maybe because of his Pringle binge, but he wasn't done pigging out. After swimming, we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. We ordered the boys a small cheese pizza to split, and we also had a side of pasta available. The pizza was too hot, so he asked for some noodles. He proceeded to eat about 75 percent of the pasta side, and it wasn't a small plate. But apparently, that wasn't enough, because he then ate two slices of pizza. We got back to the room, and I bought the boys ice cream Push-Ups from the hotel's little store -- and of course he ate that.

Maybe it's been our active trip, or maybe it's a growth spurt, but more than likely, it's just a genetic metabolism that he'll be stuck with growing up. I'll warn him that someday, that metabolism will slow down. Hopefully, he'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Swim like a fish

I grew up being afraid of water and not having much fun around swimming pools. I've blogged before about how happy I am that my boys don't have that fear and love swimming, but they are further along then I would have ever imagined.

Eldest, at age 5, is some armwork away from being a better swimmer than I am at 38. I was surprised to see him diving for pool toys on the bottom of the pool today (in about 4 feet of water). A couple weeks ago, Littlest, at age 3, decided he too could jump off the diving board, and today he started perfecting a cannonball. He's not quite swimming yet as much as floating and kicking on his back, but he's still more proficient and more confident in the water than the average 3-year-old.

What I'm most happy about is that the boys are having fun swimming. I never did growing up, and I missed out on some things as a result. I'm not the most brave person in the water, but at least I caught up. And at least, along with them, I can make up for some of those things I missed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back and forth

Today is Oct. 1, and our family has mostly settled into its weekly routine with school. September seemingly flew by, just like July did, just like May did, just like March did, and so on. But that's OK -- throughout all the discovery, adaptability and stress of September, I'm somewhat glad October has arrived. It feels like now we can truly settle in to something not rushed, even though it's sure to be another busy month.

Sweatshirt weather has arrived, which is enjoyable until about my birthday, when I'm craving spring again. The boys are in school, the NFL is in full swing, I'm coaching Eldest's soccer team again, and Halloween is less than a month away. Yes, it's undeniably fall. Here's to a great October!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lazy day of summer

I vow to myself every summer not to waste any days during this, my favorite season. But sometimes, you just need to have a lazy day.

The last couple weeks have been quite busy, compounded by the fact we only had one car. Now that we're back to two cars, and there was no overriding reason for the boys and me to get out of the house today ... we didn't get out of house. We weren't completely lazy: I filled up the kiddie pool for us, and after dinner we took a drive in our new 2002 Outback up Little Cottonwood Canyon. But mostly, that was it. We won't be as non-active tomorrow, but for today, taking it easy was fine -- the boys were still tired out by the end of the day, as evidenced by Eldest falling asleep on our drive at 7:15 p.m.

After the boys went to bed, I settled down to watch a movie, saw what time it was, saw the setting sun, and knew getting out for a walk would do me good. Not a long walk, not a run, but just a short walk to see the summer sunset, of which there is a finite amount. Perhaps there is a fine line between being a little lazy and wasting a summer day. I'd like to think my late walk put my day on the right side of that line.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In the swim

We finally made it to the pool today. Granted, we've been to a pool a few times this summer, but for the first time, we got to swim outside at the JCC pool. It only took a month, thanks to a combination of bad weather, kids' wishes to go someplace with a water slide and a rescheduled swim meet (which forced us into the JCC's indoor pool last week.

We had a lot of fun ... eventually. After arriving, we swam for about a half-hour until safety break (10 minutes in which all the kids must stay out of the pool). I wandered over to the deep end and tried to summon the courage/memory that I can do it to jump off the diving board when I witnessed a painful accident. These guys, probably no older than 20, were doing goofy dives when one of them did what I could only describe as a spinning bounce off the end of the board. But his foot slipped as he faced toward the back of the board, and he went into the water first with his shin, which bounced the board up just as his chin came into contact with it. He took a few seconds to surface as his friends swam over to help him and the lifeguard looked concerned.

The guards put him on a backboard just in case, and the paramedics were called. In the meantime, no one was allowed in the pool for a long time -- maybe 40 minutes -- during which we were getting cranky in the heat. Littlest was getting fidgety and tried wandering every place he could; Eldest was hungry beyond the snacks we brought. But once the pool reopened and we got back in the water, our irritation cooled. Littlest had so much fun -- he's becoming a brave little swimmer and for the first time was jumping off the side into water over his head. Eldest jumped off the diving board eight times and is getting better at swimming back to the side on his own (he just needs to remember to use his arms). By the time we left, we were tired but much happier. We picked up dinner at Noodles and came home.

Littlest's mood didn't last, especially after the late night last night, but he fell asleep earlier than normal despite his protests. There's nothing like swimming to tire the boys out. Or the parents.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Best Fourth ever

We had a great Fourth of July today. We didn't do anything spectacular, travel anywhere or blow anything up, but instead simply had a fun day.

The day started this morning with our neighborhood's Fourth of July parade. Eldest rode his bike the whole way, while Littlest was content to sit in the wagon. We had lunch at the potluck after and talked with some neighbors while the boys played.

Some clouds rolled in, and rather than risk going to the pool and having it rain on us, we hung out at home; then I eventually took Eldest to see the new Ice Age movie. We both enjoyed it, and after, we drove home and I started the grill.

Our dilemma was whether to keep the boys awake to watch fireworks at a nearby park. The show wouldn't start until 10, which is far past their bedtime. But we gave it a shot, and it worked out well. We loaded the running stroller and walked down, finding a good spot on the lawn at the high school right next to the park. This is Salt Lake City's main fireworks, and this large park is full of people, so we felt fortunate to find as good a spot as we did.

The boys stayed awake until the show, helped by a few glow sticks we bought off a roving vendor. And then, the fireworks started, and they loved it, especially Littlest, who laughed with delight for the first five minutes. The look on his face was so worth it; I'm glad we kept him awake (he fell asleep on the walk home, wearing two of those pliable glow sticks bent into necklaces).

While we were waiting for the show, I asked Wife what her favorite Fourth of July was, and I tried to remember mine (sadly, the first one that came to mind was the year my Dad brought home a bag of M-80s). But the four of us watching fireworks together for the first time, capping a fun day, cemented the fact that 2009 became my favorite.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ragnar report

OK, I know that the Wasatch Back was two weeks ago, but I have wanted to blog about the experience of my first Ragnar. So two weeks later, here's the short version:

I ran the 12th, 24th and 36th legs of the race. Surprisingly, I had more energy for the 24th and 36th legs than I thought I would, especially after little sleep. I ran all three legs under my projected time, though on 12 and 36, just by about a minute. Still, I was ecstatic that I not only ran, but felt that I ran well.

My first leg was tough, and was the only one I wasn't completely happy with. The route was 3.1 miles uphill -- really uphill. The first mile was flat, and I ran it relatively quickly, as planned before I got the the elevation gains. I walked more of the last two miles than I wanted to -- I didn't think it was going to be as nasty as it was. Still, I made it under my projected time and was ready for dinner when I finished.

Our van had about six hours until we were running again, and we worked our way to the state park where the next exchange would be. I ate, then tried to sleep for a few hours. I normally can nap rather easily, but this evening, I couldn't. Maybe I was full of adrenaline, or maybe I got too much sleep the night before, but whatever I tried, I couldn't sleep. I dozed for about a half-hour during the night before my second leg.

I was worried about that second leg because of the lack of sleep and because my knees were sore from the uphill leg. But, I was surprised how well I did. I came about three minutes under my projected time and got a major second wind about midway through the leg. The sky was getting lighter just as "Light of Day" came up on my Shuffle (alas, Joan Jett's version instead of Bruce Springsteen's). All the training was worth it for this one leg.

I managed about 90 minutes sleep after my run and ate breakfast before our van was up again. My final leg ended the race for our team, and I got to see Wife (she was volunteering) at the exchange before I departed. This leg was mostly downhill, and it felt like I was flying. However, right near the end, it went back uphill and slowed me down more than I would have liked. But when it flattened out near the finish, I saw my teammates and we ran in together. Actually, I ran in ahead of them -- I saw our overall team time and wanted to break 31 hours and 30 minutes. I thought we made it, then saw the official time handed to us -- I missed by one second (the clock at the finish line I was seeing was off). We didn't hang around long because it was raining, but I didn't mind. I had finished my first Ragnar, and got to finish my first Ragnar. I can't wait to run it again next year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The heat is on

Finally, Salt Lake City has stopped feeling like Seattle. Yes, the rain has departed and the heat has arrived.

Today started early with us driving Wife to work. We had a minor car accident a couple weeks ago that was major enough to leave us without the use of our Outback, permanently (the car suffered more damage than it was worth). We're on the verge of getting a replacement but had to return the rental the insurance company paid for on Saturday. So, we're down to one car for a few days until we buy another one. After taking Wife to work, I got the boys in the stroller and went out for a walk/run.

This was the first time I had run with both boys in the stroller since I started up again. It was challenging, simply because I'm pushing 80-plus pounds, plus the stroller, in a non-flat neighborhood. I mostly walked the minor uphills and tried to stay hydrated as the heat set in. Littlest enjoyed it, and though Eldest complained of being bored, I don't think he minded it, either.

We ran an errand in the afternoon, and the drive involved the first significant air conditioning in the Corolla this year. It worked well, and on the way back we stopped to gawk at the new waterpark that opened in the suburbs. It looked like fun, but was for another time. We had planned to go swimming at the JCC in the late afternoon, with Wife meeting us after taking the light rail from downtown.

We arrived to swim in the heat but were disappointed to find out the outdoor pool was closed because of a swim meet. All the rain of the past weeks postponed this meet twice to this night, unfortunately. We swam inside and still had fun, but for not as long as we planned (the pool was chilly; Littlest's lips turned blue quickly; and honestly, some of the wind was taken out of our sails). We picked up dinner and came home.

Despite the move inside, this was a good summer day, one I've been waiting for all month. The day was hot, and we stayed cool and had fun. As long as Seattle doesn't return, today was a good blueprint for the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The second day of summer

(Transcribed from written pages, a couple hours later ...)

I'm sitting on a hillside at Donner Park, watching the sunset on the second day of summer. I usually visit this park on the first day of summer to watch the sunset and reflect, but there was no sunset to watch last night because it was cloudy to the west. There have hardly been any watchable sunsets this month leading into the longest day of the year -- I've already lamented about the bad weather, and more complaining will be forthcoming in another post.

I ran the Wasatch Back over the weekend and had a blast. The relay provided a great ending to an otherwise rough week. But, for now, those are topics for other posts.

Today, I did take time to reflect, not here watching the sunset, but at Eldest's soccer camp this morning. He went to this camp last year for two different weeks, at the same park as 2008. He would play soccer, while Littlest would cavort at one of the two playgrounds (one in the park, one in the adjacent school).

So we were back at 11th Avenue Park for the first time in 10 months. After Eldest started camp, Littlest and I went to the first playground, and the flood of memories, starting with the concrete bench/ledge on which I sat watching him last year, rushed back into my brain. Then the swings he couldn't resist (not baby swings, either, he did everything to hold on last year but was fine in 2009). Then the trail we walked along past the tennis courts. Then the school's playground, which partly was being replaced when we were there last year. Everything wasn't deja vu, but more a sense of "We were just here."

But we weren't just here -- we were here 10 months ago. Maybe it seemed so recent because this soccer camp was part of our routine for two weeks last summer. It just seemed so quick. And then it dawned on me -- it's not supposed to be slow. This concept is something I've known all along, but this morning at 11th Avenue Park, it was hammered home. I look back at the last year, all the joys, tears, triumphs, struggles and laughter, and wonder how we crammed it all in. And how it went so fast.

Perhaps there's no way to slow it down, as much as I wish I could. We are blessed with two wonderful boys, but they are going to grow up before we know it. Almost a year has already passed since that last soccer camp. It was almost an instant. But it was still a year. The key -- and I'm sure I've postulated this before on this blog -- is to not wast the year; to look back and say "Wow, a year went by so quickly! Wow, what a year we had."

The sun just dipped behind Antelope Island and out of my view. This is the fourth consecutive year I've come to Donner Park to watch the sunset before it starts heading southward across the sky again. The first time I came was in 2006, and reflecting about the three years since, I think about how much has changed, how much has stayed the same, how more amazing life has become, and how much more amazing I want it to be. And I hope when I come back to this hillside next summer, if I think "Wow, a year went by so quickly!", I follow it up with "Wow, what a year we had!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here and now

After months of training and anticipation, the Wasatch Back, the 188-mile relay that I'm running, is tomorrow. I can't believe it's here already.

I think of where I was running just in February, when getting to 20 minutes was a struggle, and how far I've come since. Even though the relay hasn't started, I feel like I've accomplished something; that I made a long-term commitment, worked toward it and achieved my goal. Now, can I apply that to my other long-term goals: writing, freelancing, the house, and numerous smaller goals. Sometimes the long view can seem so daunting. Training for this day seemed that way, too, at times, but I took it one run at a time. Maybe all those other goals just need some daily miles, too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The imperfect storms

Late May and early June in Utah goes something like this: We get a few cold/rainy days between Memorial Day and the first few days of June as spring makes its final stand; the temperature shoots up toward 90 once or twice; the rain never comes back; and summer is in full swing (eventually with highs staying above 90 until late August).

This time period has been different this year: about three straight weeks of rain. Temperatures haven't been too cold, but not too warm either. We've had a couple sunny hours sneak in here and there, but for the most part, it's felt like Seattle rather than a high desert in the summer.

And, it's starting to piss me off. I know I have complained about bad weather before in my posts, and I know much of the country is getting this suck-tacular weather as well. But I'm going to vent anyway.

I love the first few weeks of June heading into the solstice. I love those first trips to the pool, those warm mornings, those sunset viewings as the setting sun crawls northward day by day until the solstice, when it will start creeping back. This year: No pool trips (other than one visit to an indoor pool). Mornings have been chilly, as have been evenings. I haven't even seen the sun set in a month -- it's a week until the solstice and I'm missing out on the buildup. I won't even get into my inability to find sunny time to mow the lawn.

Yes, after years of drought, Utah needs the rain, but we're starting to see flooding. The thunderstorms aren't even worth it, because they aren't as impressive as Midwestern boomers. The forecast for the next few days: More chances of thunderstorms, with maybe a break next weekend.

Dammit, summer, we're waiting ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The relay

Last June, Wife ran the Wasatch Back as part of a relay team. The Wasatch Back is a 36-leg, 180-mile or so race, and after it was over, her friend who organized the team asked if I wanted to do it in 2009. As a way to get back into running, knowing that commitment was out there, I said yes.

Well, almost a year later, the Wasatch Back is coming up fast -- 10 days away. And I'm happy to report, I'm mostly ready for it. And I'm really happy to report, I feel like a runner again.

I'm not a good runner by any means, and nowhere near my prime when I was a below-average high school cross country runner. Plus, I've been doing a run-walk method in which I run 4 minutes, then walk a minute -- a program that's kept me from getting too discouraged (I was always a better interval runner than endurance). But, I'm happy I'm back in some modicum of running shape, that I can go for 6-7 miles for the first time in a couple decades, and that I'm looking forward to getting out for that run as much as I can.

It hasn't been easy -- for the first 10-15 minutes of every run, it seems my body starts asking what the hell am I putting it through (but I get past that point and hit a welcomed zone). Furthermore, my knees aren't that of a 15-year-old anymore; I've been sorer than I thought I'd be. Nevertheless, I'm happy I committed to doing the relay. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The age of aquarium

With the threat of rain forecast today, I took the boys to the aquarium. Yes, Utah has a small, interesting aquarium that its organizers hope will someday become a world-class aquarium. For now, it's small and housed in an old grocery store (heavily remodeled, of course). We hadn't been to the aquarium in a couple years, and Littlest is at the age where stuff like this is fascinating too him. Maybe too fascinating -- he wouldn't stay looking at one fish for more than a few seconds and insisted on splashing to try to get the stingrays' attention (he did get to pet one). Eldest was a little mellower but had fun, and for maybe the first time, took the time to look at a lot of the fish, almost to the point that it canceled out his brother's frenetic pace.

Alas, our day at the aquarium was coming to a close when Littlest got a little crabby. The aquarium had some featured non-aquatic animals presented for an hour in a separate room, and though Eldest was interested, Littlest was a little too interested, wanting to get close to the big parrot and trying to grab the container with the giant South American scorpion. The day will come when he will get older and not be so impulsive when presented with so many fun options.

But that day doesn't have to come too soon.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer, summer, summer

I think I can officially declare that summer is here.

Yes, I should have declared it last weekend before Memorial Day. I actually tallied a day count between the Friday before Memorial Day and Labor Day on how many days of summer I can enjoy this year (a whopping 109).

But tonight, when I went outside to put turn off the sprinkler, the evening warmth, the non-crisp, starry sky, and the knowledge it just barely got dark -- it all signaled summer had arrived, at least in my universe.

Hopefully, it's going to be a great summer. No wasted days out, especially because there's only 99 left.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And then he was 3

Littlest turned 3 years old today, and he enjoyed a fun yet low-key birthday. We had a small birthday party for him Sunday, but today we gave him his present from us (a new bicycle) and Eldest (a bell for said bike) and sang "Happy Birthday" again while he blew out a candle on a cupcake.

It was a big day for Eldest, too, who got to sit in on his new kindergarten. He was paired with a current kindergartener and got to go on the playground and have a snack. Eldest was shy talking about it at first, but later told Wife he had fun and that it was the best part of the day.

I no longer have a 2-year-old and will have a son in kindergarten next fall. Wow. No deep reflection, just wow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grilled to perfection

The rain finally subsided, the temperature warmed up, and I pulled the grill out today.

Nothing too fancy, just some Colosimo's bratwursts (Colosimo's is a local company that makes decent sausages, at least for Utah) and a few hot dogs for the boys. But there's nothing like pulling the grill out to make it feel like summer. After dinner, it seemed all the neighbors and neighbors' kids were outside, and it was nice to simply be social, especially after not seeing everybody too much all winter. (I also realized we have many 2-3 year-olds in a five-house radius.)

And for the better news: The weather is supposed to stay nice for a few days, at least. The grill might be making a return appearance this weekend.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May days

For my first post in a almost 7 weeks (and no, I'm not going to blog about how I need to start blogging again, blah, blah, blah -- I slacked off and now it's done), can I say how happy I am that spring is sort of here. May is my favorite month, with the leaves back on the trees, baseball in full swing (no pun intended) and summer up ahead.

However, this spring has mostly sucked again here in Utah. We get a few nice days followed by a few rainy/cold days. Lately, it hasn't been as cold, but there have been few breaks for me to mow the lawn, do some weeding, plant anything. Each year, I seed the front lawn with the hopes I'll get full coverage. I was ready to go when the weather turned icky, and in the brief warm spells, clover invaded. So now I have to spray weed stuff on the lawn before I can throw down any seed. At least the clover makes the lawn look green ...

I shouldn't complain too much, because it doesn't seem this spring is as bad as last year (when we went to see Thomas the Tank Engine at Heber Valley Railroad over Memorial Day and it was in the 40s). I have managed to grill once, not every soccer practice and game of Eldest's have been canceled, and I did unintentionally start a Keen sandal tan on my feet. And it's been warm enough to run outside. I just wish Utah's spring this year wasn't so ... midwestern.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bye bye bug, hello pavement

Spring is just about here, and the weather here in Salt Lake City is cooperating. We have flowers blooming, and I've already done a little yardwork. One thing has been missing -- my continued progress as a runner.

A couple weeks ago, we all caught a virus that has annoyingly lingered, and as a result I missed two weeks of running. I ran so well and was so happy after my last run before I got sick that I was antsy to get my Brooks back on. Finally, tonight, I was able to run again and was pleased that I hadn't lost progress as much as I'd thought.

I'm working toward the Wasatch Back -- a 178-mile team relay -- in June, but there's another running benefit that I've been happy with: it's the best thing to get me back in shape and lose weight. Though a better schedule, some better eating choices and some killer group strength workouts have helped, I believe running has been the biggest catalyst in losing 20 pounds so far in 2009. I'm worried I gained some of that back these two weeks in which I haven't worked out and have eaten worse (though coughing is aerobic ...) but I'm confident I can get back on track.

Beyond the weight loss, it has just felt great to run again, and not to feel so out-of-shape when I do. I'm not a natural runner, so it takes work for me to become a merely below-average runner. I'm hoping this time, the re-running sticks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All by ourselves

Wife is on a business trip for a couple days, so it's just me and the boys. I'm not worried that I won't be able to handle it, except for getting them to sleep, which Wife seems to excel at. But tonight went quite well -- both boys started conking out early and fell asleep before 8. I need to get to bed soon, too, because they will be up early (before 7, probably). Wife warned that a hungry cat woke her up this morning at 6, so I have that to look forward to as well.

I know Wife misses us, but she needs this little break. I'm hoping to do some fun, out-of-the-ordinary stuff the next two days, but preschool and The Little Gym are smack dab in the middle of Thursday and Friday. Maybe Chuck E. Cheese on Friday afternoon? Maybe not, but we'll find something.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sliders

We had promised Eldest we'd go swimming today. The boys start swim lessons up again this week, and I wanted to get them back in the water before then. But Littlest has been a little under the weather the last few days (though I'm sure that wouldn't have stopped him at the pool), and Wife wasn't feeling well, so it was just Eldest and I.

Instead of going to our fitness center's pool, we went to a nearby park's indoor pool that features a water slide. Eldest had a blast. I wondered if he'd be nervous on a big water slide, but on the first ride, it was apparent he had no fear at all. He kept walking back up and sliding down again. I rode about every other slide. This pool runs the water on this slide full blast, and I'm always a bit nervous that I'd get going so fast that I'd go up and over one the side on a curve. It's probably irrational (as well as physically impossible), but I sat up and tried to slow myself for the top half of the slide so I didn't pick up too much speed.

Eldest hadn't been swimming in a few months, but now I know he never will be skittish after time off from the pool. In fact, he's turning into (if he's not already) one of those kids who just has a crazy, awesome time at the pool. Not being one of those as a kid, it's great to see him at that level of confidence and joy. We'll see if Littlest makes it there, too. First, we'll see how Littlest's first lesson back goes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Boys will be boys

Today was a big grocery shopping day for the boys and me -- we went to Wal-Mart and Costco. They did well -- no tantrums, no crabbiness, and Eldest helped get things off the shelves. We ate at Costco, and something struck me on how unique boys, especially brothers, are. We were wrapping up, and Littlest wanted to throw out some garbage, while Eldest was getting me more soda. After returning with the Coke, he walked over to the returning Littlest, and instead of walking directly back, they took a wide running berth near the tire department before reaching our cart.

Maybe you had to be there to understand, but the first thing that struck me was how much my boys were acting like ... boys. Why walk right back when you have energy to spend? And I believe brothers feed this concept off each other -- they somehow were driven to this little run. They have been fighting a lot lately (Littlest is learning how to push Eldest's buttons), but they still are each other's favorite playmate.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nothing but the tooth

Eldest lost his first baby tooth sometime overnight or this morning. We're not quite sure if it came out during the night and he swallowed it, or it just fell out and he didn't realize it this morning, because we can't find the tooth (never fear, we left a note for the tooth fairy). He noticed it was loose Saturday, and was excited, then a little spooked by the concept, then excited again. Yesterday, the tooth was wiggling both back and forth and side to side, so it was just a matter of time.

I'm surprised how young he lost his first tooth -- he just turned 5 in December. I didn't lose my first tooth until just after 7 (of course, I was smaller at 7 than Eldest is at 5). It's a memorable little milestone; we just have to hope he doesn't swallow the next one that falls out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Running wild

I am back in running mode, the most serious running mode I've entered in at least 10 years. In the last six weeks, by my count, I've run 21 times. Before I brag too much, it should be noted I'm following a program that gets you running-proficient slowly -- you run for an interval, then walk for a minute, and so on, for 20 minutes; gradually, the amount of running is increased until you are running for 20 minutes straight. I'm guessing I still have about 6 weeks until I'm at that 20 minutes consistently, but I've enjoyed the journey so far.

This gradual return is necessary for me simply because I'm not much of a natural runner, even though I ran track in high school. I'm starting now, because come June, I'm running on a team in the Wasatch Back -- a 128-mile relay. After Wife ran last year's, her friend who assembled the team asked if I wanted to try it this year. I was apprehensive, but it sounded like fun and I knew I would have to get back into running shape, which I've wanted to do for years. So far, so good. I thought it might be rough, but as I increase the running interval every few workouts -- and handle it -- I'm becoming more confident I'll be ready come June.

Now, if the weather will stay warm enough to run outside (I finally did Saturday, but otherwise it has been indoors on a small track). Just because I'm running again doesn't mean I have to run in the cold like I did in high school.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Sunday

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and I'm not working it for a change. I didn't work it last year, but I was actually ill and didn't go into the office.

I'm watching the game right now and doing a little blogging. Bruce Springsteen at halftime was great, and the commercials haven't sucked.

It's been a long Sunday, beginning with taking one of our cats to the vet. Iago has Cushing's disease and his skin rips really easily; he just had about 40 stitches removed from his back over the last two weeks. This morning, we woke up to discover he got his cone off and groomed himself a new wound on his back. Luckily, it wasn't bad and he didn't need any more stitches.

Sunday got better from there, culminating with watching the Super Bowl. If you name the Super Bowl (going back to 1978), I can tell you where I watched it. It's just one of those events that I remember from year to year. And this year, I'm glad I'm not in the office.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Super commerical

I finally replaced my Back in Time video (to the right), and with it being Super Bowl week, I couldn't resist the classic Mean Joe Green Coca-Cola commercial. I used to love the Steelers when I was a kid (they were my AFC team), and to a 9-year-old, this commercial was great. Seriously, who wouldn't want to get a jersey from their favorite player, all for a simple Coke (note the old glass bottle, too). There may be plenty of entertaining Super Bowl commercials Sunday, but this will always be my favorite.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hoop it up

Eldest is playing biddy basketball this winter, and it's been entertaining. It's a league of pre-K and kindergarten kids, and the rules allow for only occasional dribbling, small basketballs, no scoreboard and 8-foot baskets.

It's fun to watch, but thankfully I'm not coaching, because it would drive me crazy. Ever watch team handball during the Olympics, a sport in which you need to bounce the ball a couple times down the court? This is what the dribbling skill at this level is like. And it's just as tough to keep the kids focused as it is in soccer, maybe even more so because it's more chaotic. The coaches are doing a great, patient job with the kids.

Eldest is getting better week to week -- his dribbling is improving, he's getting rebounds, and his shooting is getting somewhat better. The first couple games, he was shooting underhand (and made a basket one week), but he's switched to overhand and is still figuring he needs to shoot up, not straight across. He'll get there, and if not, he'll always be a better soccer player. I have a hunch Littlest might be the better basketballer -- we can't even take him to games, because he goes so nuts and wants to play that he won't sit still.

I remember playing biddy ball when I was a first-grader, and how much fun it was. I know now how much fun it must have been for my dad to watch.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back in the saddle

Welcome to the umpteenth restart of my blog. And this time, I mean it!

Well, at least I hope I do. There are no excuses now. I'm only working one night a week away from home, and the contract editing I've picked up drops me on my computer in our office/storage room/Nintendo hookup most nights during the week. One of my goals when I scaled back my schedule again was to write more. Is has taken a month to start that goal, but now that it has started, hopefully, there will be no turning back.