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Showing posts from June, 2012

Summer, Day 39

When I walked on the pool deck to get Ben from swim practice this morning, I saw him sitting on the side, chattering. His coach told me he was frustrated today because he just didn't feel like swimming and was tired. She was proud of him and told him not to beat himself up so much if he is tired. He had mentioned being tired this morning before he left, then told that to Lori when he dropped him off. After I got him, he took a long, hot shower, got dressed, and watched Michael's diving practice. He seemed to exude more energy than before -- not doing cartwheels, but not totally a lump, either.

After we got home and after lunch, I checked to see if Ben's forehead was warm. He didn't seem too warm, but maybe warm is the new normal in this stretch of hot weather. But when I actually took his temperature, it was around 101. That would explain the chattering and fatigue this morning, and yesterday him wanting to come home from playing with his best friend (he was complainin…

Summer, Day 38

Blessedly, today wasn't a lazy day. The boys had swim practice this morning, then playdates in the early afternoon. I was participating in a blogging webinar and was grateful to have the house to myself.

The webinar, hosted by Jeff Goins and Derek Halpern, was good in that it inspired me a little to really get going on starting the next blog I'm planning. Some of the advice was enlightening, but I was a little turned off when the webinar turned into a sales pitch for a longer course on blogging, seemingly more aimed toward bloggers using a blog to sell something. Though I'd love my next blog to get enough traffic to provide a few dollars off ads -- as well as providing more visibility for my writing -- I'm not looking to be an entrepreneurial blogger, which some of the strategies were aimed toward. Nonetheless, I'm glad I listened to the webinar, most importantly because it got me jazzed to seriously plan my blogs' direction.

Later in the afternoon, we took Pop…

Summer, Day 37

I've mentioned a few times in the past couple weeks experiencing somewhat lazier summer days brought on sometimes out of circumstance, sometimes out of necessity. I was accepting that these days are inevitable and not to get too bent out of shape when they happen.

Today was one of those days, and I'll be honest, I'm getting annoyed.

Tuesday was hot again. We usually don't get this much heat until July, suggesting that by August, I might be ready for winter. No, that won't happen, but the high temps are hampering what we want to do outside. We took Popcorn to the park for a little while to throw the ball to her, but without any shade, this much heat and sun is a little too much for a sprinting black dog. We stayed only about 10-15 minutes before going home and cooling her off.

The boys didn't go to swim practice this morning, instead going to the afternoon session. They have been reluctant to do anything in the heat as well, begrudgingly going to the park with t…

Summer, Day 36

Monday, Monday ...

I'm writing this Tuesday and trying to remember my Monday. The boys had swim and dive practice in the morning. Ben was upset during his swim time because his goggles didn't work the way he wanted -- his old pair broke last week -- so later in the day we went to the swim shop and bought him two new pairs (thinking at he'll be happy with at least one of them). I bought Michael a new pair as well.

The boys swam in a meet later Monday. Michael dove OK, then struggled a little during the meet. For some reason, he didn't swim a freestyle this meet, but instead competed in two backstrokes (one in a relay) and, for the first time, the breaststroke. We didn't expect much from the breast -- his time wasn't great, but the best part was the Joker-smile he appeared to be flashing every time his head came out of the water -- but thought he would do great in the backstroke after last week. He started both out strong, then lost focus. I was volunteering as a…

Summer, Day 35

I had a Sunday off today. I usually work Sundays -- and will go back to them come NFL season -- so I was psyched to have an extra whole weekend day off with the family.

And ... we did nothing.

Lori woke up feeling sick this morning and needed to take it easy all day. The heat was simmering outside again, this time with clouds (I'm outside at 11:30 and it has barely cooled off), and I didn't want to take Popcorn out in it, especially after our long hike yesterday. I thought taking the boys to the pool would be fun. I put on board shorts, filled a small cooler with snacks and asked them if they wanted to go.

Amazingly, they didn't. Maybe they were tired, too, but they were content to stay inside and play all day. I was a little bummed -- I don't like wasting summer days -- but maybe the rest of the family needed the break. I said to Lori yesterday that we had nothing planned for today. Perhaps after busy day upon busy day, nothing planned equals rest. Lori surely needed …

Summer, Day 34

Hiss. Rattle.

Oh my.

 I was hiking with Popcorn on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon when she looked to go down a slope to get to a little creek, presumably to get a drink. She edged down slowly while trying to find her footing when something caught her attention. That's when I heard it.

Hiss. Rattle.

Popcorn wisely didn't approach the rattlesnake after that, instead running down the slope to the stream. Though I never saw the whole rattlesnake, I did see its back half, including the rattle, slithering behind a gap between a board holding up the trail and the trail itself, away from where Popcorn just ran down. She ran back up straight to me, not coming near where the rattlesnake was.As we continued our four-mile hike, I wondered how I would have gotten her off the trail and out of the canyon to an animal hospital quickly. Thankfully, the rattlesnake just used its natural defenses to scare Popcorn, who got the hint.

The rest of the hike was uneventful. We were in Millcreek…

Summer, Day 33

Today's recap is going to be as short as yesterday's. The boys had a long swim practice this morning, followed by Michael's diving practice. Afterward, we went to breakfast at The Original Pancake House, where the boys tore through their meals in less than three minutes. I fear the days when they eat everything in sight are near.

When we got home, I was still tired from last night's late work shift and zonked out for long enough that I started dreaming. After waking up, I mopped the floors, started inflating the kiddie pool, took a shower and came to work. The section is small tonight and I'm done laying it out, so I'm taking some time to write here on the balcony. The air is hazy from a wildfire burning about 30 miles away. The sun has set and the breeze is nice, even if its fanning flames in the next county south.

Day 34 got interesting ...

Summer, Day 32

The heat returned Thursday, but it wasn't as bad as last week. We weren't outside that much anyway, doing a little yard work in advance of our barbecue Saturday night. Michael had his last day of basketball camp. I took the boys to swim practice then went to work. I was so tired when I got home that I went right to bed without blogging (I'm typing this the next morning during Michael's diving practice in the sun). Not much to the day other than that, but those days happen in the summer. I'm ready for the weekend.

And for Day 33 ...

Summer, Day 31

Day 31 included my annual summer solstice jaunt to watch the sunset, but there was a whole day to enjoy before that. The boys had swim and dive this morning, and Michael had basketball camp again. Ben and I took Popcorn for a hike on the dog trail. After getting a few provisions from Harmon's, I made quesadillas for dinner. We went to Yogurt Stop for dessert, and I was a little paranoid after eating the peanut butter yogurt that emerged too fast from the machine (wondering if it was fully frozen). But I haven't thrown up three hours later, so I think it was OK. I went to the park, watched the sunset, came home, and sat on the porch posted my earlier blog entry and will soon post this one.

The heat returns tomorrow, and I'm back at work after eight days off. Astronomically, summer has officially begun.

A short post on Day 32.

The orange sky

Summer, Day 30

Blessedly, today was cooler and not as tiring as yesterday. But here I am late, thinking I should get to bed soon. So I will make this brief.

We skipped swim practice for the boys this morning after the late swim meet last night. I did have to take them to my haircut, but they behaved, and Ben marveled at the unique men's room (just spacious with artwork), declaring "This is incredible!" Michael had basketball camp in the afternoon -- just two more days, and though he's loving it, I'm ready for it to be done. Two hours from 12-2 is limiting what we can do around the camp, though today Ben and I did assemble our new portable fire pit. The boys did go to the afternoon swim practice, and I try to work out, but my brain and knee couldn't stay focused to get a coherent workout. I made Hamburger Helper for dinner, watched the Heat-Thunder game (Heat won) and took Popcorn for a walk

Day 30 over. Not so bad, and restful.

Day 31 here.

Summer, Day 29

I'm writing this a day late after a tiring, fun Monday that was Day 29. I was tired last night, then simply forgot to write today until now.

Day 29 started with the boys' swim practice. I picked up Ben while Michael stayed for diving practice. We went to my dentist appointment in Holladay, then drove over to Taylorsville to the condo of one of Ben's classmates. Her mom had invited a bunch of kids over to swim in the condo complex pool. Ben had so much fun, and the water felt good on a hot day. After lunch, we picked up Michael from basketball camp (Lori had collected him after diving), then went home.

That's enough to fill a day, but we weren't done. The boys had a swim meet that evening. Michael did all right in his dive meet, swam an OK 25 freestyle (he looked up near the end to smile at Lori but stopped kicking in the process), his fastest 25 backstroke ever and a blistering opening leg of the 100 freestyle relay. Ben did great, too -- he knocked off 17 seconds …

Summer, Day 28

Father's Day was great. But my family missed out on getting me the perfect gift -- a driver. However, they wouldn't know that until the afternoon.

Lori made pancakes for breakfast, and after a quick trip to Kohl's and Harmons, we went to Mulligans, which offers a driving range, a par-3 and an executive course, mini golf and batting cages. I thought this would be a cool Father's Day adventure: letting the boys swing a golf club for the first time. Ben managed to hit a few with the kids iron Mulligans loaned us. Michael was trying my irons, but when he switched to the kids club, he had more control and hit the ball well (not far, but straight and in the air) about one in every four shots. He keeps wanting to step into his shot like he's hitting a baseball (which, by the way, he rarely does while hitting a baseball ...) but I think with practice he will catch on quickly. We practiced putting -- Michael did well right away, while Ben was impatient -- and I showed Micha…

The stopwatch that never stops

Today is Father's Day, my ninth as both a father and a son. After reading a great post from Bill Oram, a co-worker of mine at The Salt Lake Tribune, I was a bit inspired to write my own Father's Day post.

My father is 62 and I am 41. You don't see many father-son combos that close in age. I read and hear about sons who strive to connect with their fathers, and I'm surprised because I've never seemed that disparate with my dad's interests. He liked sports when he was younger, so I naturally wanted  to play and follow sports, to the point that I don't think I would have become a sports journalist if I hadn't seen so many of his softball and basketball games as a kid. When I hurt my knee over these past days, I knew exactly from whom to seek advice. I've never resisted or dreaded just hanging out with him.

In 2000, Dad sprung for a two-day golf instruction in Lake Geneva. I learned much golf-wise that weekend (including a change in my grip that curtail…

Summer, Day 27

Summer, according to my calculations, is a quarter over.

When I started blogging summer in May, I declared it to be 108 days long this year. Twenty-seven days in is 25 percent. I'm hoping the remaining 75 percent are better.

I shouldn't complain -- the last 27 days have been fun, sunny and eventful. I just wish the last week had been better. The Wasatch Back completed today, so it's time I stopped feeling sorry about myself and look forward to the rest of the summer. More good times are ahead. I missed one, but now it's time to move on.

The boys had two birthday parties today, which consumed much of the Saturday. I mowed the lawn this morning, grilled pork chops for dinner, and took the dog for a walk to one her favorite play spots next to Red Butte Creek. I'm trying something different tonight by letting Popcorn sit on the porch with me while I type.

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and I'm itching to get in some more exercise than I've had all week, maybe get…

Summer, Day 26

Today, I figured out how to fully straighten my left leg out, which I haven't been able to do for days because my knee is swollen. All I had to do was not fully step on the stoop with my whole foot, thus letting the back of my foot sag down, thus stretching out my whole leg. I yelped so loud I think the neighbors heard me.

No, I didn't mope today as much as yesterday, but I am wishing this weekend would end and the missed Wasatch Back was behind me. So this is what a Friday night before Father's Day at home is like?

The day started early with the boys' swim practice. They didn't get much breakfast, so we met Lori at The Other Place to eat. Our afternoon featured a hike on the dog trail with one of Michael's friends (and his dad and dog). We shopped for two birthday presents, then came home and made dinner. Lori and I watched a little of a classic "Dallas" episode that is unintentionally being DVRed. We all watched "Iron Man" after dinner.

An…

Summer, Day 25

Today was for moping.

Still bummed out about my injured knee and missing this weekend's Wasatch Back, I wasn't too keen on enjoying the gorgeous summer day presented us. I could have taken the boys to the pool but didn't. I could have mowed the lawn but didn't. I could have spent more time outside in the sunshine but didn't.

The day wasn't a total display of self-pity, however. The boys had swim this morning, and Michael had basketball camp at noon. I went to Kohl's and bought a new pair of New Balance cross-trainers -- anticipating the increased walking to strengthen my knee and get more exercise over the next eight weeks. Michael and I did take advantage of the nice weather by taking Popcorn on a hike on the off-leash trail, which she loved. I grilled Polish sausages and two cheeseburgers (for the boys) for dinner. And here I am typing, outside on the porch on a pleasant summer night.

The moping ends tomorrow while I focus on the yard, writing and doing s…

Summer, Day 24

For the whole summer so far, go to Day 1 and follow the links.

The knee got shut down today. I'm not running the Wasatch Back this weekend.

I saw a sports medicine specialist, who within five minutes diagnosed that I likely had a meniscus tear in my left knee (the general practitioner on Monday had theorized this, as well as gout or a Baker's cyst). I was given a knee brace, instructed to ice it often and take naproxen, and not to run for eight weeks. But, the doctor, knowing I was going to run the Wasatch Back this weekend, said I probably couldn't do any more damage to it by running three more times, but that it would hurt a lot afterward. I had hope.

Later in the evening, Michael and drove to the East Bench neighborhood beyond Foothill Drive looking for some long downhills to test the knee. My last scheduled leg in the relay was a 6-mile downhill, and this is what I feared would be too hard on my failing knee. The first downhill we tried was long and not too steep, and …

Summer, Day 23

After the tiring day yesterday and me working tonight, I wasn't expecting a moderately productive day today. True to form, it was lackluster.

I'm typing at work again on my break, out on the balcony on a pleasant summer evening. I tried sleeping late this morning, but the boys' class lists were emailed for next school year, which woke me up. Michael had basketball camp again, though I didn't watch as much today. I walked Popcorn around the block a couple times, and I did manage to get some laundry put away and make myself a dinner (ramen noodles and a salad) for work rather than buy something. The boys annoyed the heck out of me by not being ready to go to swim practice, and I forgot things I needed to take for work after I dropped them off. So, I was a little stressed when I arrived at work, but things have calmed down.

My knee felt better today, and I'm hoping to be able to run the Wasatch Back and deal with it after the weekend. I am seeing an orthopedic surgeon…

Summer, Day 22

I'm writing this a day later because last night, hell, I was tired. A good tired, but tired nonetheless. The boys were exhausted, too. It was a busy, fun Monday.

The boys had swim practice in the morning, with Michael following that up with dive practice. Ben and I ran to Smith's Marketplace to buy a new basketball and replenish or sunblock stock. We picked up Michael and came home, where we tried out the new basketball on the new hoop, which Lori and I raised to 10 feet. We were practicing because Michael started basketball camp that afternoon.

The camp, held at nearby Highland High School, was for third- to sixth-graders. Michael, now a third-grader, looked taller than all the other third-graders as well as all the fourth-graders. Ben and I stayed and watched for a little while, went home, then picked him up later. He looked like such a big kid, and he said he had fun -- so much that we are going to sign him up for another week of it next week. We returned home and prepared …

Summer, Day 21

I'm out on the balcony at work, waiting for the sun to set and enjoying a slightly crisp summer evening. Everything going on in the sports world today is about done, and I didn't go for a walk tonight, so instead, I'm taking my dinner break outside with my laptop. The sun is inching its way downward to Antelope Island. I love summer nights such as this.

I slept late this morning and woke to a lot of knee pain. My left knee hasn't felt right for a couple months, and just in the past week, it's hurting more. This morning, I couldn't straighten it out. I think something inside is swollen, and though running on it didn't hurt yesterday, doing everything else seemed to hurt today, including just bending it sometimes. I've resigned myself to the idea that I should see a doctor about this. I don't know if it's just inflamed ligaments or something worse, but I'm tempted to wait until after the Wasatch Back, which starts Friday. I worry a doctor woul…

Summer, Day 20

Soccer season ended last Saturday. This Saturday, baseball season ended, smack dab in the middle of a busy day.

For the first time in weeks, we had nothing going on Saturday morning. I went for a long run that felt good, but my left knee hurt afterward. I iced it while coming up for a lineup for the boys' baseball game. Their head coach is out of town, so I was running the team for the season finale. We played OK, but lost 3-2. The best part of the game was that some of the Twins who hadn't gotten hits in a while did in their last game, including Ben! He hit a rocket (for him at least) down the third base line and stared for a second or two at what he had just done. After Lori and I simultaneously yelled "Run!" he beat the throw to first base for just his third hit of the season. He was so excited that he was still celebrating a couple batters later. A few other kids got key hits, too, but unfortunately, our good hitters were striking out or not hitting the ball as h…

I am a writer

A couple days ago, Lori directed me to a blog she thought I might like: Primility. From that site, I found my way to a Jeff Goins writing website,  the author of which is challenging his readers improving their writing. The challenge (admittedly, a little overly motivational speaker-esque, but I'm giving it a try anyway) is made up of 15 stages. I came in a little late, but I'm starting with this post: Declare.

I am a writer.

I have been a writer since I was 11 years old -- probably even earlier, but around 11, I began realizing I liked it and could be good at it. Around 11, I started getting an inkling that I wanted to be a journalist. Sometime in high school, I realized that English was my favorite class -- seeing how others wrote and how to improve. Sometime, in college, it occurred to me that I could write my way out of tests and term papers that I really wasn't prepared for.

Also in college, I wrote my first article for a major newspaper and was paid for it. At age 20…

Summer, Day 19

The clog is history. This great summer day is history, too.

The plumber arrived early to unclog the tub, and while he was here, he cleaned out the bathroom sink pipes as well. He was done by 9, giving us an early start to the day.

We went to the waterpark and met one of Michael's friends and his mom there. Conditions were warm even at 10 a.m. (though the breeze was chilly when you got out of the water). The boys had fun, as expected, and having season passes takes a lot of pressure off the need to stay all day and get on every ride. I suffered a little sunburn on my back -- not too painful yet, but somewhat noticeable in the places I missed with sunblock. I usually don't have my back to the sun; I must have been angled that way on the lazy river or the wave pool.

We left Seven Peaks and picked up Arctic Circle for lunch. The boys got value meals instead of kids meals -- the two cheeseburgers meal. In the seven minutes home, Michael ate both and Ben almost knocked off his secon…

Summer, Day 18

The first full day of the boys' vacation started with a clog.

Lori woke me up to complain that the bathtub drain was backed up. Water was trickling away very slowly. She went to work crabby after not taking a shower, while I did what I could to alleviate the clog.

Unfortunately, nothing worked all day, no matter what I tried. Hot water didn't work. Vinegar didn't work. A snake didn't work. Plunging didn't work. Liquid Plumr didn't work. Some combination of these methods might have made the clog worse -- dislodging sludge from the pipe farther down into the barrier and slowing down the trickle even more. Finally, I called the plumber, who is coming tomorrow to hopefully break the dam.

And that was pretty much our whole day. We did go to Smith's Marketplace to buy the Liquid Plumr and found two Skylanders the boys didn't have. I did some housework in between unclogging attempts. I took the boys to swim practice, and then I went to work. I managed about a …

Summer, Day 17

After Ben's last day of school Monday, Michael enjoyed his last day today. This was a short-day party too. Brunch, recess, class awards and some pictures, and that's all she wrote. Michael is now a third-grader, and a tall one at that.

We went home after school, let Popcorn out, then headed out for some needed shopping and some discretionary shopping. We bought dog and cat food at Petsmart, a used Wii Guitar Hero drum set for $4.99 at Savers, clothes for the boys (mostly Michael, who is outgrowing things) and swim trunks for me at Kohl's, and a few more shirts and flip-flops for the boys at Old Navy. We had to buy Michael the flip-flops, which were cheap, after trying them on -- he was wearing his Keens today, which needed to be washed, and his feet were so stinky, it transferred odor to the flip-flops, and I felt a moral obligation to finish the purchase.

The boys had a good swim practice later in the afternoon while I ran a short speed workout around the JCC indoor track…

Summer, Day 16

Since we moved to Utah, I've noticed that June produces one cold snap before summer really sets in. Even after consecutive 90-degree days, that cold snap made an appearance in 2012. After a nice morning, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and it felt like November.

But that was OK for today -- a kind of lazy day I think we needed (at least for Ben and me). I did some housework, picked up Michael from school, eventually took them to swim practice (yes, they had swim practice outside; the water was warmer than the air by 30 degrees) and came home for a boring night, capped with watching "Schoolhouse Rock." We'll be more productive Wednesday, but for Tuesday, it was perfect to not get outside. As much as I want the sun to return, I needed one cloudy, cold day.

Click here for a warmer Day 17.

Summer, Day 15

By noon on Monday, I no longer had a kindergartner.

Today's was Ben's last day of school (Michael goes through Wednesday). We can now call him a first-grader. This school year went so quickly, yet we've seen Ben grow and learn so much these past nine months. He will do great in first grade. But Lori and I will never have kindergarten again.

I took Ben to Seven Peaks (formerly Raging Waters) after his short day ended, just to say we went to a waterpark on his last day of school. He's not tall enough to go on everything, including Cliffhanger, which scared the heck out of me last summer. He wanted to try  it, but I went first so I could watch him. I told the lifeguard that this was his first time, and she asked if he was a good swimmer. I said yes, he's on swim team, but that I'm still a little nervous for him (and me). I went, got a little water up my nose, swam back to the side, and waited for Ben's turn. I don't know if he was nervous, but he went, fle…

Summer, Day 14

Blessedly, Sunday was a much less busy. I'm still tired tonight, but it feels like we got over the busy hill. School ends this week, as does baseball, and soccer is over.

The heat was back with all its simmering glory, but I got Popcorn out for a hike on the dog trail early. She was happy -- we haven't got her out for as much exercise as she needs the last few days. After getting home, our neighbor Matt helped (actually, did most of the work) putting up a new ceiling fan in our bedroom. Lori took the boys to Ikea and came home with a new chair that Michael picked out. He's a little bummed that we're getting rid of the old, big chair (now not needed with our new couch and love seat), so this was the compromise: Buy a cheap chair all his own. Lori and I got the old chair outside, and she assembled the new one. The living room looks good.

I worked tonight at the newspaper, but didn't get out for a walk beyond Costa Vida to pick up dinner. Still, it was an uneventful s…

June

June is daylight. Hours upon hours of daylight. June is late sunsets and early sunrises. June hates the night.

June is achievement. The school year is complete. The long trek from winter to summer is complete. June is success.

Summer always feels so damn new in June. But it comes with a price -- come the summer solstice, the days start to get shorter again. But June isn't a time to worry about that. June is a warmth that doesn't look ahead.

June is all about sunsets. June is "Sister Golden Hair" by America, the opening riff of which just sounds like a sunset.

June is that first jump into the pool. It's reruns, too -- reruns you won't bother watching because you are outside, thinking about walking to get ice cream or a snow cone.

June is Madonna's "Borderline" and Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me." It's the best beer you will taste all year, imbibed outside on a warm night with the warm city getting into …

Summer, Day 13

This Saturday started early with Ben's soccer game at 8 a.m.and Michael's at 8:30. Both games were their last for the season. Ben and the Crushing Tigers, who I coach, played well against a team with a maybe the best player in the league. When I finally looked at my phone after the game, I got a text from Lori saying Michael had scored a goal, his first of the season. It's not that Michael isn't a good soccer player, but rather that he has five teammates who are phenomenal at soccer for this age, and as a result, get most of the goals. Plus, he's played a lot of goalkeeper this season, reducing his chances a bit (though he had two assists on dropkicks from back there this spring). He had been stressing out about not getting a goal, but today, he finally got it, along with hearty congratulations from his teammates. Unfortunately, I missed it, but such are our Saturday mornings.

A couple hours later, with temperatures reaching the 90s, the boys had a baseball game --…

Summer, Day 12

(I'm writing this a whole day late. I worked late last night and had to get up early this morning, then was busy all Saturday, which you can read about on Day 13 ...)

After Ben's Water Day on Thursday, I helped out with Michael's on Friday. This one was for the rest of the school and was held at the Northwest Rec Center. I was skeptical that the school could pull this off with so many kids, but it did, with a third of the school outside eating lunch, playing sports and careening down a makeshift water slide, a third swimming, and a third in the indoor sand pit. The groups got rotated, and everything went quite smoothly. I again must be all the kids' favorite co-oper, because after getting pelted with water balloons the day before, this day the kids all wanted to tackle me in the water. Lori brought Ben, who got to swim as well. I took him home while the rest of the kids got bused back to school.

I got home and rested before my work shift. First, I took the boys to our …