Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer, Day 11

I'm a little worn out as I type this post. I'm writing and watching "Dog Day Afternoon" on TCM at the same time. And I'm tired.

I co-oped Tuesday and Wednesday at the boys' school, and today I helped out with the kindergarten classes' Water Day. I filled up a lot of water balloons, then became a target for water balloons. None of the other adults got water balloons thrown at them, just me. Maybe I shouldn't be such a fun co-oper. It was a fun morning, and I wasn't defenseless in the water war -- I had the bucket and access to a faucet.

The boys had swim practice in the late afternoon, and once again, I lounged by the pool while they swam. Michael did diving practice after swim, but Ben didn't, so the two of us swam for 45 minutes, involving Ben getting thrown about 25 times. He loved it, but it took a lot out of me, even though he's so light (even in the water). After practice, we picked up dinner and came home.

I took Popcorn for a long walk, and about three-quarters of the way through, I hit the wall. The tiring day, the tiring week, was catching up. Tomorrow will be even busier -- Michael's class needed parental help with Water Day for the rest of the school, and I said I could. The school (kindergartners excluded) is getting bused to a rec center pool, where the kids are going to rotate between the pool, the sand area and lunch. This should be crazy, but considering I don't like sand, I'll get a little time when I'll just be overseeing rather than being the fun co-oper. Then I work tomorrow night. On Saturday, we have an 8 a.m. soccer game, a 1 p.m. baseball game and a block party. The fun continues.

I should go to sleep, but I'm sucked in to "Dog Day Afternoon." I remember watching this on network TV long ago with my mom (and asking her what "Attica! Attica!" meant). I'll likely stay up to watch (spoiler alert!) watch John Cazale get shot, then try to get eight hours sleep. Summer is great, but damn, sometimes it's tiring.

If you think today was busy, read Day 12.

Summer, Day 10

Co-op days are always a little crazier, and though I will miss co-oping over the summer, I'm ready for the school year to end to get a break. Today was no exception the crazy expectation after co-oping Ben this morning, trying to get some work done this afternoon, taking the boys to swim practice, then to their baseball game. At least at swim practice, I got to sit by the pool and relax while watching the boys' practice (I even jumped in for a few minutes -- the water was great). Ben struggled a little today; he's suddenly not wanting to swim freestyle (or is forgetting what it's called).

After swim, we picked up a pizza and motored to the baseball game. Propelled by six-run fifth inning, the Twins won 8-4! I was a little nervous that fate wasn't on our side. Michael and his teammate Kyler, the best to hitters on the team, probably have not failed to reach base after hitting the ball in play all season -- until tonight. On consecutive at-bats, Kyler hit a soft liner that was caught and Michael was jammed into a ground out right to the first baseman. But both Twins crushed the ball on their next at-bats, sparking the rally that led to the victory. Michael finished with a single, double and two RBIs. Ben seemed to have lost his swing again (could the lost freestyle and lost swing be related?) and went 0-for-3, but he did great at catcher again -- he really takes it seriously, more so than maybe anyone else on the team.

No co-oping tomorrow, but I'm going to school to help with the kindergarten classes' water day. It should be fun, but I'll be happy when school ends for 2011-2012.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer, Day 9

Past Memorial Day weekend, and back to school. I'm amazed grade school teachers try anything scholastic after Memorial Day. Ben's last day is next Monday; Michael's is two days after. Nevertheless, I took them to school and co-oped in Michael's class. After the morning co-op ended, I took Ben to the cafeteria, where he stood in line for his first school lunch, in preparation for next year when he will be eating lunch there every day. He did great, getting his spaghetti and cheese, picking some veggies and fruit from the choices bar, sitting down and enthusiastically eating his lunch. I took Ben today to give him a chance to experience a new routine. Maybe I don't give him enough credit sometimes, because he loves tackling new routines. He's going love first grade, too.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I coached Ben's soccer team's last practice of the season. I went for a at dusk (this is my favorite time of the day at my favorite time of year to run). I watched "The Descendants" while eating dinner. And here I am typing before going to bed.

Click for Day 10.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer, Day 8

Today was Memorial Day, and as far as Memorial Days go, this one seemed somewhat anticlimactic. The sun came out after three less-than-stellar days, perhaps preventing the weekend from being a total bust.

I worked late last night but was awake earlier than I wanted to be this morning. I fell back asleep and woke up around 10:30 to a thumping sound outside. Michael, Lori and my father-in-law got the rest of the sand in the base of the new basketball hoop, and Michael and his friend from across the street were shooting around.

This was Lori's parents' last day in Utah, so we treated them to The Cheesecake Factory at the new City Creek mall downtown. I had the macaroni and cheese burger and most of a piece of Oreo cheesecake (no matter how much I pushed on my sons -- they wanted to share Lori's banana cream cheesecake). The boys and I wandered City Creek a little and came home.

The afternoon wasn't much more eventful. Michael and I took Popcorn to the park for about 10 minutes of exercise. Lori found a couch (our old one is on its last legs) she liked at a furniture store, and she summoned me and Michael, who is rather attached to the old one, to see what we thought. After the furniture store, I took Michael to a classic arcade that just opened, where we spent a few bucks on classic games. I discovered that I'm just as good at Centipede as I used to be, am better at Tron, could be better at Tempest if the paddle controller worked better (it is a 30-year-old machine), and still suck at Star Castle. Michael liked Tron and Cruis'n' World. I have to go back sometime, with both boys and a lot more quarters, if not just to play Omega Race and Vanguard again. We got home, where Lori and I showed Michael how to play cribbage.

I was resisting eating much dinner, still being full from our slightly later lunch and believing myself to be flabbier than I want to be with summer beginning. But Lori made a lasagna -- maybe the best one she's ever made -- so I had some and took Popcorn for a walk to Sugar House Park. The sunset from the west end of the park was amazing. Summer really is here.

Prepare for Day 9.

Summer, Day 7

I'm happy to be writing this post after work. I'm picking up some extra shifts for the summer, and if I want to blog every day, I'm going to need to write after work to recap the day. It helps that today wasn't too eventful ...

The sky was as cloudy as it was yesterday, but it didn't rain much today. My father-in-law ambitiously assembled Michael's new basketball hoop. He did a great job, better than I would have done, but the base of the portable hoop needed sand. I didn't find any at Sears or Walmart, but bought some at Home Depot cheap. This took a couple hours, and I got home just as Tony was finishing the hoop. The boys and I started putting sand into the base -- unfortunately, not a quick task. I funneled one bag in, and Lori and Michael got two more, but we still have three to go. I know Michael is excited about his new hoop, but I am too -- I love random shootarounds.

I went to work for a busy night, but I managed to get out on the balcony for 10 minutes just in time to miss the sunset behind clouds and the sunset. But the weather did clear up, which bodes well for Memorial Day.

On to Day 8!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Morning drive

When I finishing up first grade in 1977, age 6 1/2 at the time, my family moved from McVicker Avenue near Riis Park in Chicago to Rascher Avenue on the Northwest Side near Oriole Park. We moved during the first week of May -- generally too late in the school year to even bother switching schools. At the time, I was going to Trinity Lutheran School, which was around the corner from the McVicker house. We weren't Lutheran, but the school was so close and my mom was so nervous (I'd be crossing the busy Fullerton Avenue to get to the Catholic school) that for kindergarten and first grade, I went to Trinity Lutheran. May 1977 was my last month there.

We moved five miles away, and somehow, I had to get to school. My mother didn't have her driver's license yet, so Dad drove me in every day. I don't remember specific conversations with him as he drove me in. I don't even remember if I sat in the front seat of the Century or not.

What I do remember is what those mornings felt like. The level of sunlight -- a calm sunlight -- that covered the city. The cool yet still warm air coming through the open car window (this must have been on gorgeous May in Chicago). The 20 minutes or so after leaving home before we got to school -- a trip that took only two minutes at our old house.

I remember the route we took. We got on the Kennedy Expressway at Seminole and Ozanam, joining the traffic of thousands of cars heading downtown. I was especially fascinated with reading road signs at this age, so those couple miles on the expressway were captivating. We got off the Kennedy at Austin, which shared a exit sign with Foster Avenue. From there, it was a straight shot down Austin to Wrightwood, a right turn, past the street we used to live, and then to the school.

And I remember the music I heard on the WLS, the Big 89, generally the only station we would listen to on the AM radio in the Century. Larry Lujack DJ'd the morning drive, but 35 years ago, morning drive DJs still played a fair amount of music. I've blogged often about how songs take me back so vividly to a moment and/or a place in my past; the songs of May 1977 are no exception. The playlist in my mind (and yes, on my iPod):

Sir Duke -- Stevie Wonder
Rich Girl -- Hall and Oates
Right Time of the Night -- Jennifer Warnes
Southern Nights -- Glenn Campbell
When I Need You --Leo Sayer
The Things We Do for Love -- 10cc
Don't Give Up on Us -- David Soul
Gonna Fly Now -- Bill Conti

Someone had to drive me home from school, and I think it was Dad every day as well. I wonder if my grandmother picked me up a few days. I do remember Dad driving me home while he was on duty (he was a police officer, I think in plain clothes by 1977) with another police officer, who was impressed that at age 6, I was reading street signs and getting at least close on the tough ones by our new house ("Oconto"; "Oleander"; I probably struggled with "Osceola").

The commute didn't last long -- just May and a few days after Memorial Day. First grade ended. Except for a few chance meetings, I wouldn't see my old classmates again after starting at a new school by the new house. I wonder if that separation is why that morning commute in May 1977 stands out so much. It was the run-up to the ending, just like the weeks before graduating high school and college were memorable run-ups as well. I found some of those old classmates on Facebook, but 35 years later, I don't know how to explain why I'm sending a friend request.

A few years ago while visiting Chicago, I tried replicating the morning drive to Trinity Lutheran School (which has closed and is leasing its space to a charter school). I turned on the aforementioned song list on the iPod, drove into Oriole Park, got on the Kennedy at Ozanam and Seminole, and drove to school. It wasn't quite the same. Maybe because I did it in July and the light and air seemed different (although, in theory, it should have been exactly identical light conditions). Maybe the neighborhoods, en route and near McVicker, look different than in the '70s. Maybe because I was the one driving and not a 6-year-old passenger.

I've driven my own kids to school in May, though I haven't tried the 1977 playlist (maybe I will try that this week). And similar to my attempted Chicago recreation, it's not the same. The boys are used to the commute -- not as novel as my one-month routine necessitated by a move to a new neighborhood. I don't listen to much Top 40 on the drive in, so they don't either (though they will celebrate when a newer song they like comes on; Michael just did that a couple weeks ago to Owl City's "Fireflies"). Spring 1977 was all about transition. Maybe at its core, transition isn't forgettable.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer, Day 6

Ben's kindergarten class is having a camping trip this weekend, about an hour south of us. We are not campers, but we were going to visit just for the day, weather permitting.

Unfortunately, the weather did not permit.

I was out running this morning when the drizzle began. By halfway through my run, at the farthest point from the house, it was pouring. A few minutes later, thunder and lightning began -- not a lot, but enough to make me a bit nervous. I passed another guy running, and we smiled while we said hi and passed each other, an unspoken smile that declared "Are we morons for running in this?" The funny thing was, I felt great running, being cold and wet notwithstanding. Maybe it was just adrenaline or the desire to get out of the lightning, but I was moving. Anyway, I got home, enjoyed a warm shower, and realized we likely weren't going to the campsite. The weather did improve a little, but it was still cool and windy, and we didn't want to risk driving down to Spanish Fork Canyon to stand in the rain for a few hours. We stayed home.

Despite my good run, my mood soured. I felt bad that the weather had kept Ben from spending time with his classmates. I was tired from the late night of work Friday, and I banged my head in the laundry room, giving me a headache. I got back outside again, taking Popcorn for a walk -- she was antsy after being inside all day; she doesn't like the rain -- and my mood improved from bad to indifferent. Ben and I looked at some baseball cards, everyone else went to bed, and here I am, typing and watch "Sharktopus" on Syfy.

Just one Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to have three beautiful days. Tomorrow: more rain.

Here's Day 7.

Summer, Day 5

(I'm writing this the morning after Day 5 after working late last night and not being in the mood to get back on the computer.)

Michael declared on Friday that it was a "video game sort of day." That description was accurate. The day felt like a cloudy August day -- not really cool, not quite rainy, but just miserable enough to remind you that summer would be ending soon.

The only problem: Summer is just beginning. We've seemed to have some miserable Memorial Day weekends here in Utah the past several years, and Friday was a precursor to what appears to be another clunker.

I tried running Friday, but got about 15 minutes out when my iPod shuffle's battery conked out. I took that as a sign and ran home. After a not-so-productive afternoon, I went to work.

The boys didn't do much either. I think we needed a day that was chock full of activity. I hate to take those days in the summer, but if you are going to take one, best to do it on a cloudy, climatologically confused day.

The weather got worse on Day 6.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer, Day 4

We take one big vacation every summer, almost always back to the Midwest. This year we delayed booking a trip. We contemplated going to Texas instead to see my family, as well as waited until airfares, which have been the most expensive since we moved to Utah in 2000, became cheaper. In the last 36 hours, fares became cheaper, and it was time to pounce.

Booking our trip should have been easy. Unfortunately, it became an adventure itself, dominating my thoughts and efforts all day.

I had found a cheap fare to Texas on Southwest, but I also found the cheapest fare I had seen for Chicago in months, maybe a couple years. We had miles built up, and I thought I could get us a good deal. However, Delta's website conspired against me. After swaying back and forth between Chicago and San Antonio, I finally got enough of a better deal for Chicago and booked the flight. We'll go to Texas in November, when the weather is quite nice. November in Chicago is terminally gray.

Otherwise, it was mostly an uneventful day. The weather was a little nicer today, and the boys were warmer at swim practice. I got the safety and emissions tests done on the Corolla this morning, and I gave Popcorn a much-needed bath in the afternoon. After wolfing down dinner, delayed for me while I finalized the vacation, Michael, my father-in-law and I saw "The Avengers" at Gateway. Fun movie, and surprisingly, a needed outlet to unwind.

Click here for Day 5.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer, Day 3

The rain didn't arrive until tonight. But the chill blew through all day.

I took the kids to school this morning and then went for a much needed run (the Wasatch Back is coming up quick, and I don't feel like I'm in any semblance of shape for it). We went to lunch with Lori's parents at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, and I was happy that I was full but not painfully full (which has happened at Simply Sushi before). The day just got busier from there. I eventually picked Michael up from school, took the boys to swim practice, picked up a pizza for them to eat after practice but before baseball, then took them to their baseball game. After getting out to a big start against the best team in the league, alas, the Twins lost 23-7, though Michael went 4-for-4 and Ben enjoyed playing catcher again.

After getting home, I let Popcorn play with the neighbor dog for a while, then retired for the night, watching "Modern Family" and the end of "St. Elmo's Fire" (which I have never seen all the way through. Before I came downstairs to blog, the rain began. I'm hoping it won't last too long.

On to Day 4 ...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer, Day 2

Another warm day ... for a while.

When I walked outside this morning to drive Michael to school, I thought to myself how much I love warm mornings. I hate waking up for them, of course, but I love the green and the pleasant air that portends a great day is imminent. I co-oped at school this morning, and while some kids were taking district-mandated tests, I taught others how to play Strat-o-Matic baseball. Hey, it's educational -- there's math and reading and strategy! The kids who played seemed to like it, even though we didn't have time for a full game.

Michael had an orthodontist's appointment, and we took him to lunch before taking him back to school. I returned home to an uneventful afternoon, followed by Ben's soccer practice. After being so hot, and this being kind of an optional practice league-wide (the league doesn't play this Saturday), I had something fun planned for the team: a water fight. I brought several plastic sport bottles for this, but the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, and only half the team showed. The kids still wanted the water fight, or course, but when Ben and I left for Michael's soccer tryout, he was a little chilly all wet in the gustier winds. He eventually dried off and played at the park with a friend whose brother was also trying out.

The grayer skies somewhat paralleled the moods of Lori and me. We're unsure whether we are going to let Michael play comp soccer if he makes one of the teams. He didn't look as sharp today as he did yesterday, and we did catch him goofing off once with one of his old teammates who he always used to goof off with. The tryout is good experience for him, and we've prepared him that he might not make the team or that he might still just play rec even if he is picked. Here's our dilemma: We want our children to succeed, but committing to so much soccer this young the best decision? Michael admitted he likes basketball and baseball more; if he's playing comp soccer, how much will those sports be curtailed? Not being selected will make our decision easier. He started playing better near the end, but every time we saw him make a good move, the coaches didn't see it. I told him afterward that tryouts are like that: You have to be playing your best all the time so the coaches see your best stuff when they are paying attention. That said, doing the math, he might get picked for the B team. Or my math is fuzzy just because I want him to make the team, even if I'm not sure if I want him to play.

Michael and I left the park to come home under the gray dusk. As I took the last garbage can outside, the cool, cloudy evening also felt good. The rain is coming, maybe tomorrow.

I'm getting so good at cross-linking: Here's Day 3.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer, Day 1

Having the crazy first three weeks of May, I'm thinking of summer. The temperature climbed above 90 on Monday, really making me think of summer. Thus, I embarked on some simple math.

Ten days remain in May. June has 30, and July and August each are 31 days. Labor Day is Sept. 3, but I'm going with Sept. 5 -- the first NFL game of the season (yes, it's on a Wednesday this year). Add it up, and you get 107. Add the day that just finished, and you get 108. That number is how many days I'm declaring officially as my summer.

I'm planning to write something about each of the 108 days. It's ambitious, and it doesn't mean that I won't blog about other things (but it might mean multiple postings in the same hour; please, please scroll down when you call up my home page). I've declared how much summer has meant to me, and how much I try to recapture the feelings and memories and summers past. This year, I am making no excuse to let those memories drift into a fog. I'm blogging the summer.

So here was Day 1: I worked late last night, so I was slow to get going this morning. When Ben, who is mostly off this week for end-of-kindergarten assessments, and I finally got out of the house, we went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and Toys 'r' Us so he could use a gift card he got for his birthday (he bought six Track Pack eggs, series 2). We came home for lunch, and after, I took Popcorn for a hike on the off-leash trail (Ben didn't want to go and stayed with his grandfather). The dog played hard on the trail and splashed (but didn't swim; she won't go in too deep) in the creek. Later, I took Ben to swim practice, then took Michael to his comp soccer tryout. Michael's practice ran long, but he did well, and I got him Wendy's for dinner (and got a burger for myself). We got home, everyone else crawled into bed, but here I am, outside on a pleasant night, blogging.

I'm ready for Day 2.

And that final sentence, unbeknownst to me at the time, makes a great segue into a link to Day 2.

Catching up

Yeeks, just when I thought May couldn't get crazier, it did. Baseball, soccer, swimming, grandparents, school, extra work shifts, a trip to Denver and Ben's birthday party all kept me from blogging, or any writing at all. There's so much to catch up on ...

I survived another round of layoffs at the newspaper. I wasn't too worried anyway -- as a part-timer who can perform a variety of jobs, I am incredibly cost-efficient, and besides we wouldn't be losing that much salary if I was laid off -- but I didn't want to go out like that. And I didn't, but I feel bad for the co-workers who lost their jobs, as well as those still working under a reorganized but not necessarily improved newsroom structure.

Lori and I went to Denver last week for our first trip without the kids since we had them. The three-day, two-night excursion was wonderful. We ate at restaurants not worrying if they had a kids menu. We explored a great bookstore and took our time browsing. We saw a Rockies game. We wandered downtown Denver. We relaxed, And we were gone just long enough to feel like we got a break without missing the boys too much.

We got back for Colorado and the fun really began: Ben's birthday party. We had a day to organize it. Oh, we had three soccer games Saturday, too. But we managed to throw a fun party with an Amazing Race theme (with a race with various tasks around the block). We got to Saturday night with a sense of "Finally!"

But wait, the chaos begins again. Swim practice. Comp soccer tryouts. A much-needed hike for the dog. At least I had time to write today.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Batting averages, epilogue

Since Part 4 of this series, I embarked on a mission: Find a pack of baseball cards with gum in it. I've seen such packs in the past few years, and I wanted to taste the nondescript flavor of this gum again.

My summer of baseball that was 1980 came to an end, and I began fifth grade. I followed George Brett as he chased .400, but hampered by hemorrhoids, he fell short at .390. The Phillies defeated the Royals in the World Series. The Cubs were worse than ever (at least in my baseball lifetime), and they would trade Bruce Sutter and Dave Kingman during the offseason. I transitioned into football season, collecting football cards, rooting for the Bears and getting Earl Campbell's autograph that fall.

I thought for sure I would find a pack with gum at Shopko, which usually has a decent selection of cards. However, the store didn't have such packs. I see the Topps retro pack, which puts today's players in the 1963 style of baseball cards. Maybe past years of these cards were the ones I saw with gum. If so, Topps stopped adding gum again. But maybe I'm thinking of another pack and I just need to go to another store.

I was so excited for baseball in 1981. I bought the new season of Strat-o-Matic cards, with stats from the 1980 season -- this is still my favorite season three decades later -- and played through the whole summer, particularly when the baseball strike erased weeks from the season. I played on a team that won the league championship, and I hit well for most of the season.

But I stopped collecting cards as much as I did the summer before. By 1982, I stopped collecting them altogether. By 1983, I stopped playing Little League. The Brewers made the World Series in 1982, the White Sox won their division in 1983, and the Cubs came agonizingly close to the World Series until 1984. But once the Cubs began faltering again in '85, I had moved on to other sports as my favorites, particularly after the Bears won the Super Bowl and the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan.


Walmart's card selection wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. Target was better, maybe even better than Shopko, but no packs with gum. I bought the boys a pack of 2012 cards instead. My last hope is a card shop or eBay., perhaps even Toys 'r' Us, but I'm not going to bother. Do I really want stale gum to be even staler if it's a few years old? I sometimes see unopened old packs for sale on eBay, and buying one would be torture, because I would want to rip it open and see who is within. And you know I would try the gum. Perhaps the memory of the gum should remain a memory. After all, I did get to taste Fruit Stripes again ...

As the years passed, I came back to baseball. The Cubs kept teasing me with playoff appearances, only to disappoint. I rediscovered Strat-o-Matic. I played fantasy baseball. I became a sports journalist and was paid to publish baseball. I played softball. I found the cards of my youth on eBay. I came to appreciate the simple joy of listening to a game on the radio (or online or on my phone) or watching a game on TV, passively if not actively. I help coach my sons' team. The start of baseball season coincides with the arrival of spring, which I covet even more as an adult than as a kid. Nevertheless, I'm still more of a football and basketball fan than baseball, which is a close third. My affection for the game has evolved since my baseball-crazy 1980. It's a more grown-up affection, and it's definitely more practical, but some of that youthful exuberance to the game exists and, hopefully, will never be lost again.

Michael and I were driving home from his baseball game Saturday and stopped at a yard sale. The seller had rubberbanded baseball cards -- 1991 Donruss -- for 50 cents an improvised pack. Michael's eyes lit up. He likes cards, even old ones. So does Ben. I love yard sales for old baseball stuff, with my dream of finding old Strat-o-Matic cards someday at one.Once, I found two sport card lockers you would see advertised in comic books or baseball magazines; the boys usurped those from me even though the containers, reminiscent of Matchbox car carriers, were easily 40 years old. At Saturday's yard sale, I talked the seller to giving me all the cards -- about 400 -- for $6. They probably are worth just that (I saw a George Brett that might be worth a buck), but they weren't for me. They were for my sons, more cards to put in their card lockers along their new cards. Their baseball-crazy summers are still in progress.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Communion

Michael made his first Communion today. He's such a big kid that I can't believe it.

This picture is of him at the reception afterward. If he looks relaxed, I think he is. He did the second reading today, and though it was only two sentences, I think he was nervous. I know I was nervous. He got to the pulpit, tapped the microphone to see if it was working, read the reading (which he's been practicing for two weeks), and stepped down. We were so proud.

The Mass was really nice. I wonder if my family came away from my Communion Mass so uplifted. I think Michael was nervous as well receiving the Eucharist for the first time. The ceremony was designed to that we would be right there observing him taking Communion for the first time, so we saw him eat the wafer, almost forget which hand he needed to make the sign of the cross with, and take the wine (I forgot to asked him how it tasted). Lori was tearing up off and on during Mass, and at that moment, I tried hard not to as well. My first son is a big kid, and he has been for some time, not just because he made his first Communion (and not because he's so damn tall for his age). Today was another milestone, just like his baptism, the day he started walking, the day he started riding a two-wheeler, his first day of kindergarten.

After Mass, we went to Buca di Beppo's for dinner, and we were seated at the Pope's table. We had every grandparent in town this weekend, and it meant so much for them to be here. The boys closed out the long day swimming with Grandpa Jim and getting frozen yogurt. We've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time. It lived up to its expectations.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May

This is May.

Leaves. Exploding leaves, reclaiming branches that have been bare for months. Thousands of reminders that the sunshine and the warmth returns every year.

Dirt. The soil underneath the grass that is daring to grow again. The dirt on the baseball diamond that lightly coats the players (and coaches) above it -- dirt that won't feel the same in June.

The sun is reasserting itself in the sky. No more wimpy paths that barely graze the southern sky, but a start ruling directly overhead. The sun at 9 a.m. is tentative. The sun at the same time in May is confident.

"Sir Duke" is May. So is Smokey Robinson's "Being With You," as well as "The Reflex," "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shattered Dreams."

Every Star Wars movie is May.

May is relief. And hope. And anticipation. Summer is right around the corner. The month of May is no better reminder of that.

This is May.