Showing posts from July, 2012

Summer, Day 72; Vacation, Day 8

Michael woke me up early to tell me that my father was making pancakes. So, I woke up early and ate breakfast. I was hoping for a little relaxation today (and some time to write), but that wasn't happening, although the day wasn't overly busy.

Ben has been a game freak lately, so I found the version of Risk in the house and showed him how to play. With a little help, he quickly took over Europe and Australia. He understood the concept of the game well enough, and though I did control Africa and South America, I did not play as cutthroat as I would if I was playing my father. Ben had fun, but the game went long and he got bored, so Michael took over and won the game, starting a turn with 42 armies and sweeping through South America, Africa and southern Asia. We all enjoyed the game, and I have even more incentive to find my old Risk that I can't find in my house.

Lori flew back to Utah today, and we took her to the airport around noon. Afterward, we went to Target, then bac…

Summer, Day 71; Vacation, Day 7

Lori celebrated her birthday today. She's used to celebrating her birthday while we are on vacation, and I'm subsequently used to frantically trying to find her a present in Chicago every year. I took the boys into the city for what I was hoping for a short trip, but we ended up at the REI just west of Lincoln Park. I reminded the boys not to bug me much while I'm navigating Chicago streets. The nice thing, however, after winding our way through the city, was being able to hop on the Kennedy Expressway and zip back to my dad's house.

The rest of the afternoon was a little lazy. Dad and his girlfriend watched the boys in the evening while Lori and I went out for her birthday and to celebrate our 15th anniversary a few days early. We drove to Navy Pier, explored a little, went to eat at Harry Caray's tavern, explored some more, sat and gazed at the lake and the city while I drank an overpriced beer, and rode the Ferris wheel. Afterward, we drove to Buckingham Fountai…

Summer, Day 70; Vacation, Day 6

Today was a driving day, returning from Merrill to Chicago. The boys and Lori did get to go out on the boat one more time this morning while I stayed at her sister's house and got the car ready for our return trip. We ate at Noodles in Wausau for lunch, then were making good time back before hitting traffic north of Madison all the way into Illinois. The ride home got harried enough that we stopped a couple miles from my dad's house at a Walgreens so Michael could use the restroom. Dad had invited some family over dinner and a birthday cake for Lori, which made for an enjoyable evening. My knee will be happy that we won't be making any more long drives for the rest of the trip -- just days of enjoying Chicago.

Happy birthday Lori!

Summer, Day 69; Vacation, Day 5

We didn't pack as much into our Wisconsin day as we did yesterday. After an easy morning in which Lori's aunt drove from Stevens Point to see us for a few hours, we drove to Minocqua to meet Lori's parents. The boys go-karted (Michael on his own, Ben with his grandfather; I sat out as to not aggravate my knee). we played miniature golf (during which I did aggravate my knee -- I didn't see a little slope, stepped wrong, and swore in agony as my swollen knee stretched too far back), then went to dinner at Mama's Supper Club. After driving back to Merrill, we watched some Olympics, and I walked the boys and my niece to get ice cream.

Over the past two days, I've more firmly believed something I somewhat knew before: I like the Wisconsin, up north vacation. The lakes, the woods, the Leinenkugel's, and even the touristy things we don't do back in Utah. I don't want to move back any time soon to Wisconsin any time soon, but a few days up north a year is e…

Pure joy

I blogged yesterday about going tubing on Lake Alexander and how much fun Michael had. I don't think I did justice to the description of Michael's fun. Quite simply, I've never seen him with as big a smile as he did while he was on that tube.

Michael is such a big kid, and the oldest brother, that I can sometimes forget he is just 8. I compare him with Ben at different times of their lives, and Michael always comes across as older. He was in bigger clothes at age 3 than Ben was. Riding a bike at 4, while Ben is still learning. Playing somewhat advanced video games at 5 when Ben didn't pick them up until 6 (but Ben is catching up quickly). As a result, Ben seems the baby and Michael far older than he actually is. I don't know if my parents viewed me that way, perhaps because I was small at 8 and had sisters. I know Lori's family did, however.

At one point tubing, he was in the giant tube by himself, having the time of his life, smiling the whole way, and he look…

Summer, Day 68; Vacation, Day 4

The knee felt better today. But now, I can't stop swaying.

My brother-in-law borrowed a boat and took his and my kids out on Lake Alexander just outside Merrill. The boys tried tubing for the first time. Michael loved it right away and didn't want to stop. Ben needed more coaxing and eventually went, just once, with his cousin in a large tube he could sit in. My brother-in-law didn't drag him too fast, but at one point, he asked to stop, then declared: "I'm sorry for not wanting to go before, this is great, let's keep going."

The lake included a rope swing off a small island, and Michael loved jumping off that as well. Ben was a little small for the swing, but later did jump off a smaller rock on the island. We took the boat out a second time, but they had to use a different tube after the strap on the large one broke. This second tube required more holding on, but Michael again did great, never being fazed by bumps or the two times he got thrown off. Ben…

Summer, Day 67; Vacation, Day 3

My left knee is killing me.

I think I might have overworked this knee, with its likely torn meniscus, the past few days, especially Tuesday, because today, it has felt worse than it has in weeks. I'm icing it again right now and hoping it feels better in the morning.

We drove from Chicago to Merrill, Wis., to Lori's sister. We made good time, only stopping a couple times for bathroom breaks and lunch. The boys were excited to see their cousins. We went to dinner, then took it easy the rest of the evening. Tomorrow should be a fun day, weather permitting. I hope my knee permits, too.

Early Slug Bug scores: Michael 11, me 10, Ben 4, Lori 3. Admittedly, Lori is giving many of hers away ...

Read about our day on the lake.

Baseball 1981: The grand finale

As I've been typing these posts, including the one about me striking out to lose a game and the last one about my coach hitting the other team's coach in the face, I began to wonder -- if I hadn't struck out, and we had clinched a spot in the title game, would there have been as much tension that last game? Could the whole mess have been avoided? Maybe this was all my fault ...

The league held a meeting to see if Coach would be allowed to coach again and if the last game should have ended in a forfeit. Many of our team's parents, including mine, went to the Oriole Park field house to express their support for Coach -- a man they were comfortable and happy with coaching their kids. I went with my parents but waited outside, playing catch with 16-inch softball with one of my teammates. The meeting took a long time.

We didn't forfeit the game, and Coach wasn't kicked out of the league. The Astros would play the Giants for the championship at Thillens.

With a week …

Summer, Day 66; Vacation, Day 2

Lori and I were sore when we woke up. And still tired. The four beers I drank yesterday, not enough to give me a buzz, dehydrated me enough that I felt a little headache this morning. Lori had been busy with her convention, and I had been so swamped getting ready for a trip, that we needed a recovery day. Thankfully, my family was happy to help. My dad and siblings -- especially Megan, who starts college in a month -- entertained the boys all day. They watched Michael and Ben when Lori and I went to Target to pick up a few vacation supplies. Megan took the boys to the park. Later, they all went to the pool. Lori and I were planning on going, too, but when we didn't look too enthusiastic, they offered to let us stay home. We didn't argue, and instead went to Barnes and Noble for bookstore time without children.

After more relaxation, the family returned from the pool. We all, including my dad's girlfriend, went to Graziano's for dinner. After returning home, and after t…

Summer, Day 65; Vacation, Day 1

Tuesday morning, 6 a.m., and I'm the first one awake in the house (Lori is already in Milwaukee). Vacation is here.

We groggily said goodbye to the pets and were driven to the airport. Ben's mood perked up as soon as we got to the airport, and Michael was eventually full of energy as well. The flight went well, with Ben chattering for most of the flight (when he wasn't playing his DS) and Michael watching a movie ("Scooby-Doo") on the DVD player. I actually nodded off for a couple minutes -- rare considering I usually can't sleep on airplanes. I wish the nap was longer because the day was just beginning.

My father picked us up at O'Hare and took us back to his house. We didn't have too much time to rest, as we needed to drive to Milwaukee to meet Lori. We got the rental car -- a Nissan Altima with push-button ignition that intrigues Michael -- and made good time to Milwaukee. We picked Lori up from her hotel room, then walked to the Harp -- a bar/rest…

Summer, Day 64

After a few busy days, I'm finally catching up. So yes, this is a couple days late ...

Monday was full of swim and preparation. The boys had swim practice in the morning and a meet in the evening. Michael swam a great meet, and Ben achieved a personal record in the backstroke despite not using his arms for much of the race. Yes, Ben stopped using his arms early in the race and just kicked across. He heard from a coach (maybe not one of ours) to go eight strokes and kick to the wall. When I told him that maybe the coach was explaining what do do when you saw the flags (near the end of the pool), he replied "Oh, that makes sense." After the meet, we picked up Costa Vida for dinner, then watched some fireworks our neighbors were setting off (Ben held his first sparkler and thankfully didn't burn himself).

The rest of the day was devoted to getting ready for our trip. I didn't go to bed until 1 a.m.

Vacation starts tomorrow!

Baseball 1981: Grownups behaving badly

In the first and second posts of this series, I haven't used my coach's name out of respect for him. Hence, I just call him Coach.

Diamond 5 is tucked way in a remote corner of Oriole Park bordering Bryn Mawr Avenue. Peewee teams played on diamonds 5 and 7 (now called 6), but during my season with the Reds, we only played one game all year on Diamond 5, which was far away from the other diamonds and required a 150-yard bike ride to the nearest water fountain (requiring a mad dash on your bike to get a drink if you were lucky enough not to be batting that inning).But the next year, we played several on that field.

After the Astros' showdown against the Giants, I'll never forget Diamond 5.

I've tried to remember every detail of this game, 31 years later. I've asked my mother, too, who was at the game (my dad, I relearned, missed the game and only heard everything secondhand), to find out what she remembered, but I think I remembered more. The evening was a bit ov…

Summer, Day 63

Vacation is soon, and today was mostly dedicated to preparing for it. Tomorrow will require just as much work, but I'm feeling good that we won't be too rushed Tuesday morning.

After a morning and early afternoon of packing and organizing, we made it out to Costco and Target in the afternoon, then went to the pool for a few hours. We picked up Wendy's for dinner, then were invited to light sparklers with our neighbors. We never got past pop-its and smoke bombs, however, after a storm rolled in and the wind picked up. The pool was fun on a hot day, and I'm glad the boys worked off a little energy. The storm was cool, too -- I miss evening summer thunderstorms after a hot, sunny day (they are rare in Utah in July).

Time to wrap this up. More vacation preparation is beckoning.

The day that was 64.

Summer, Day 62

Lori flew to the Midwest today, and the boys and I drove her to the airport this morning. We tentatively planned a long hike today with neighbors today, but that fell through, and in retrospect, that might have been a good thing. We all felt tired for most of the afternoon.

After dropping Lori off, we hit a few garage sales (found "Pretty in Pink" on DVD for a dollar!), and the boys got haircuts in the morning. Michael and Ben played with friends in the early afternoon, and we went to PetSmart and Walmart later. I made macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for dinner, and we started watching "The Bad News Bears" (original) on Netflix. The boys got some playtime after dinner, as did the dog.

Tomorrow is the big preparation day for the trip. Today was the calm before the storm.

Day 63 is next.

Baseball 1981: Thrill of victory, agony of defeat

My first post in this series talked about the success of the Astros in Oriole Park Peewee baseball in 1981. I was enjoying similar success, at least for most of the season.

The season before, my first in kid pitch, I was nervous about getting hit by pitches, to the point I'd take a mini-step away from the plate on every pitch. At some point in my second year, I stopped backing off the plate, and when I did, I started hitting for average. At 4-foot-8 (that might be an overestimation) and about 70 pounds, I was never going to be a power hitter, but at least I was getting on base regularly.

I played left field all season that year. We had better infielders than I was, and outfield would prove less stressful (and by the next year, I would become pretty decent in center field). I didn't mind. One thing I did want to try was pitching. I almost got my chance one Saturday, when we had a doubleheader (due to a rescheduled game) and my friend Chris, our best pitcher, already having reac…

Summer, days 60-61

I was downloading some music onto my PC yesterday, which slowed it down to annoying levels, so annoying that I didn't even attempt blogging. So this post is covering yesterday and today.

Thursday, we went on another hike with some of Michael's classmates, up Rattlesnake Gulch in Milcreek Canyon. We didn't go too far beyond the first trail, even though we thought about it. The hike was long enough. The boys had fun, as did the dog. We got back to the house and were exhausted.

I had filled up the kiddie pool in the morning, with the thought if we were too tired to go to the real pool, this would be a good option to cool off in the sun. I had hoped that after six hours, the water would have warmed up enough. We got outside mid-afternoon to discover clouds had rolled in and that the water hadn't warmed much. I could say the cool water felt good, but it was more of a shock to my lungs. The boys didn't mind as much.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The boys went to be…

Summer, Day 59

So much to do before vacation. Today, I knocked out the lawn and the last three episodes of "Friday Night Lights."

As usual, we started the day with the boys' swim practice. The boys played inside most of the afternoon, while I watched those last episodes of "Friday Night Lights" and got the lawn mowed. I grilled pork chops for dinner. The boys and I tried having a water fight after dinner (and after a hot day, the cold hose water wasn't so bad), but we cut it short after Michael scraped his back on the gate in our back yard. We watched a couple "Batman" episodes that I also was trying to clear off the DVR, the boys went to bed, and I'm running some laundry and getting the lawn watered.

Vacation is five whole days away. So much to prepare for that, but so much to do to enjoy these next few days here as well. In that sense, vacation has already begun.

Two days in one post, up next.

Baseball 1981: Astro mania

Last summer, I blogged about my memories playing baseball as a kid: in t-ball as a 7-year-old; as an 8-year-old in instructional league; and my first year of kid pitch in 1980. I wanted to continue the series with my next year playing baseball (to the point I scanned pictures), but 1981 was no ordinary season in my athletic lifetime. I've written about this season before in a writing journal that I had been scribbling in during the mid 1990s. I didn't feel I did it justice then, and I wanted to be thorough on my favorite season in any sport I've played over the past four decades. So I put it off, and put it off some more, until here it is, a year later. So here's the first installment of baseball from that summer.

I was still playing Peewee at Oriole Park in 1981. Most of the fifth graders that spring had moved up to Midgets, but with my birthday after Sept. 1, I was relegated to Pee-Wee again. I didn't mind. Most of the Reds from the year before (I never realized …

Summer, Day 58

Another gorgeous evening on the balcony at work. I'm on vacation after tonight, even though we don't leave for the Midwest for another week.

Today wasn't action-packed, nor did it need to be. The boys swam this morning, then went to practice in the afternoon while I went to work. We went to Smith's Marketplace to pick up a few things and put gas in the car. I took Popcorn across the street to play with the neighbor dog. For some reason, I felt tired all day, perhaps after staying up to late trying to finish off "Friday Night Lights." Though much preparation awaits us before our trip, I'm looking forward to a fun few days before then. Swimming, hiking, playing and getting Ben some practice as he tries to ride a bike.Fifty days of my summer remain. Charge!

Day 59 ...

Summer, Day 57

I was so excited about the boys' swim meet tonight.

Ben was swimming in three events for the first time and racing his first-ever breaststroke. Michael was scheduled for his first IM (individual medley -- all four strokes in one race), and when we got to the meet, we found out he was swimming five events tonight, which would be the first time he swam a full slate. With the season winding down, their hard work has been paying off.

Michael even dove well tonight. He has been struggling all season, especially trying to do a back dive. He gets so nervous (even when his coaches are spotting him) that he simply falls butt-first into the water. At tonight's meet, finally, he dove backward all on his own. Alas, he didn't complete the dive, landing hard on his back and drawing a collective "oooh" of pain from the spectators. He cried as he swam to the side, and his back was red for an hour, but we were proud of him -- the front half of the dive was perfect; he just never …

Summer, Day 56

Today was much the same as yesterday: overcast but never really rainy, a day to get some stuff done around the house but not go overboard. A day for catching up on movies and stuff on the DVR (I watched "Michael Clayton" this morning in time for it to get sent back to Netflix). The only difference is today, I'm typing this at work (with a nice breeze on the balcony, and I can see rain bands in the distance in front of a pink dusk to the west). Oddly, I somewhat looked forward to working tonight. The shift has been easy, and after 11 days off, one day in the office didn't seem so annoying.

I forgot to post this fact two days ago -- summer, according to my count, is halfway over. The second half is going to zip by, especially August. I need to stay focus on getting the most out of the remaining 52 days. Fall won't wait, but it doesn't have to hurry, either.

The posts keep coming! Here's Day 57.

Summer, Day 55

The full day of thunderstorms forecast for today? Ten minutes of rain, total. If you are going to have rainy summer day, then it should rain and rain and rain. Today, with its clouds and humidity, just made me feel like I should have been outside more than inside.

This Saturday was kind of a breather day. Lori went to Kohl's, Harmon's and Shopko (where she took Ben for a new pair of flip-flops after the dog chewed up half of his previous pair), and I took Michael to Costco. I grilled sliders for dinner and watched an episode of "Tron: Uprising" with the boys. Popcorn and I took a longer walk. I'm trying to finally watch the last season of "Friday Night Lights" that I DVR'd starting in late 2010 and knocked out two more episodes tonight.

Today was the last day of my 11-day stretch of no work. I want to think the last 11 days were fun and somewhat full. I was somewhat productive from the writing standpoint, but not as much as I wanted to be. Back to w…

Worth the Risk

One of my favorite board games growing up was Risk. Parker Brothers' game of global conquest was one of my first strategy games (after chess, of course), requiring me to think out how each move I made.

I recently found the new version of Risk at a second-hand store and bought it for a dollar. The game appeared to be in good shape, though some of the pieces I did not recognize. As what has happened with many board games, Risk was updated, now including capital cities and a slew of new rules. That's fine: I'm looking forward to trying this new version. But the version I wanted to play was the classic Risk -- the game I played in my youth. The game I got for Christmas in 1980 from my great grandparents (really from my mom, who would be given money from my great grandparents to buy us one present each year). That version included all the familiar pieces and rules and would be easier to teach my own sons (who, I'm not expecting deep strategy from, but just a fun experience …

Summer, Day 54

The wind came through Salt Lake City today. Now, we're just waiting for the rain.

We watched one of Michael's friends for most of the day. He watched the boys' swim practice, then we returned to the house, where they all played Wii. I had hoped we would do something outside, but the skies were ominous for most of the morning. But all three boys were getting antsy, so we went swimming. A good friend of ours is taking care of her neighbor's house that has an in-ground pool in the backyard, and she invited us to swim, clouds be damned. The rain never came, and we even got a little sun. The boys had fun and wore themselves out. The water felt great, and lounging on a pool float was so relaxing.

The trip to the pool mostly dominated the whole day. We were thinking of going back in the evening, but the wind came through. Surely, a thunderstorm would follow, but it never did. Perhaps tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow. We could use one rainy day to recover from this long week.


Summer, Day 53

The heat that was wearing me down yesterday is starting to tire out the boys, too. After swim practice late this afternoon, neither wanted to stay at the pool to just splash around in the 100-degree conditions.

Michael and Ben did have an active day. We met some of the boys' classmates for a hike at Donut Falls up in somewhat cooler Big Cottonwood Canyon.  The boys had fun climbing rocks, wading ankle-deep in a very cold creek and hanging out with their friends.

We rested after returning home, then cleaned the house a little and headed to swim practice. The boys swam inside, while I got an hour of kid-free pool time outside. I didn't swim much, only jumping in for a minute (and having a preschooler jump on top of my head while I was surfacing -- I wasn't happy but not hurt), and alas, clouds covered up the sun a little. The hour went quick, and went inside to fetch the boys, who surprised me by saying they wanted to come home. They were hungry, because they got home and go…

Summer, Day 52

The heat is starting to wear me down.

After the boys' swim meet tonight, and after we got home from dinner, I was absolutely worn out. I still had to take Popcorn for a walk but didn't want to stand up, put on the knee brace (which I'm also annoyed with) and go back outside. Maybe because today seemed more humid was I so drained. After getting the boys from swim practice this morning, then taking the car in for an oil change, I was almost useless until we departed for the swim meet. And after I got back from the walk, I couldn't bring myself to get off the couch, stop watching "Dazed and Confused" on cable, and write (until now, at least, later than I wanted to).

The boys swam alright tonight at their meet. Michael raced in the butterfly for the first time and didn't get disqualified. He set a new personal best in the backstroke (and smiled at me midway through the race -- he was in Lane 6 and I was on the side), but struggled in the freestyle after his g…

Summer, Day 51

The MLB All-Star Game is always such a summer event. As a kid, it was a chance to see all the best baseball players I would see on my cards or in my Strat-o-Matic set in one game (and before cable, in Chicago you wouldn't get to see many stars not on the Cubs or White Sox). After watching the Home Run Derby last night with the boys, I was looking forward to viewing tonight's All-Star Game with them as well.

We didn't watch the whole game, which didn't matter after the National jumped to a big, quick lead, after which the game was never close. But the boys did pay as much attention as I had hoped. Michael was intrigued by Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City and its giant Royals scoreboard, and I found a book of ballparks Lori had bought me years ago and leafed through it with him, pointing out every stadium I had been to I (and where I sat for the ones I remembered). Ben liked that book as well and kept asking if I had been to the Astrodome.They made it through six innings …

Summer, Day 50

Finally, today the boys and I enjoyed the summer adventure I had been craving.

Michael was worn out this morning, so they skipped swim practice. I had theorized taking them to the waterpark, but with his swimmer's ear, thought maybe a hike would be better for the early afternoon. The boys begrudgingly went along with the idea. We loaded Popcorn into the car and headed up Millcreek Canyon. I wanted to avoid the trail I saw the rattlesnakes on last month, so we drove up to the end of the road. We had never hiked from these trailheads but eventually figured out a good path to follow -- the Little Water Trail to Dog Lake.

The trail was a little more uphill than I had anticipated, and our calves were definitely burning, but not so bad that it was difficult. The temperature was 20 degrees cooler than the near triple digits in the valley. The bugs were annoying, but a family offered us some bug spray and lotion so the flies weren't biting us too much (though they were still flying ar…

Summer, Day 49

Popcorn loved today.

Our dog's best canine friend, Bowie, has been gone for a month while our neighbors went on their honeymoon. We got Popcorn and Bowie within days of each other when they were both puppies. They love to play, especially wrestle. Popcorn missed her friend so much. She would run into their backyard and hope he was there, only to find it empty, even after looking in the doghouse. Today, they picked up where they left off, wrestling and playing for a while.

Michael is happy to have his best friend -- Bowie's boy -- back as well, and they played today, making duct tape flip-flops (I kid you not). Michael's morning was a little rough: We had to take him to KidsCare to confirm a diagnosis of swimmer's ear. He was prescribed some drops and not instructed (thankfully) to stay out of the water. I went to Walmart this morning to by a new garden hose, then in the afternoon straightened up the garage and swept out all the leaves while listening to the Brewers gam…

Summer, Day 48

Today was Saturday but for some reason felt like a Sunday. Maybe because the holiday was Wednesday and felt like a Saturday, today had to feel like a Sunday. I'm not sure what the actual Sunday will feel like ...

Ben slept late, and Michael was a little tired after getting home from his sleepover (and seriously, have you ever been to a sleepover where you went to bed at a normal hour?). Humidity added to the hot conditions outside. Today was destined to be mellow. The boys and I played Lego Batman 2. I got Popcorn to the park to throw the ball the her, but she didn't even want to run much. I grilled sliders for dinner and played some basketball (gingerly on my bum left knee) with the boys. After, I suggested getting in the car, hiking to the H Rock, watching the sunset and getting sno-cones afterward. Neither boy wanted to go. Instead, I took Popcorn for about a 2-mile walk.

The next summer day that appears to be lazy (and even Lori took it easy today), I'm going to have a…

Summer, Day 47

I've complained about summer days that have been less than filled. Today was not one of those days. And it was a great day for Ben and me. I hope for Michael too

The boys had swim practice this morning, and I picked Ben up first. While Michael had diving, Ben and I picked up breakfast at McDonald's. I knew our day would be busy. Ben had a playgroup and Michael was going to Cowabunga Bay waterpark with one of his friends. So they needed food. Michael inhaled two Egg McMuffins on the way to Liberty Park for Ben's playgroup.

Ben's friend's older brother is good friend of Michael, so no one was bored as they played in the Liberty Park fountain, designed to replicate the seven major creeks that roll out of the Wasatch Mountains and into the Salt Lake Valley. We couldn't stay because we needed to get Michael to his waterpark expedition. Fortunately, his friend's mom was able to pick him up instead. Michael also was invited to sleep over by (it was his friend'…

Summer, Day 46

Rain! Blessed rain!

After a least five weeks of no precipitation in the Salt Lake City metro area, it rained today. It rained for hours. Not pouring rain, but more than just random drizzle. I don't think I've ever been happier for a rainy summer day. Our lawn needed it badly. Every dry lawn, field, acre of brush and dry mountainside needed it. the wildfire burning in Utah County needed it. The temperature cooled off into the 80s, too, but the air definitely felt more humid than normal. That's OK -- I'll trade a few hours of humidity for the rain (which will be gone tomorrow; the heat is returning).

I was looking forward today as a really productive day, but somehow, I ran out of time. Ben had a playdate in the morning, and from there, Michael, Popcorn and I went to PetSmart to buy dog food. We got home and Michael read to me, then he played Minecraft while I watched something on the DVR and ate lunch. Before I knew it, we needed to pick Ben up from the playdate, and af…

Summer, Day 45: Fourth of July

Another July 4, and we've mostly settled into the traditions we've established in past Independence Days. We started our holiday by participating in the neighborhood parade, with Michael riding his bike and Ben on his scooter. Lunch followed the parade, and we socialized with neighbors until going home.

The boys played with their friends the rest of the afternoon, including Michael's best friend who hadn't been home in almost a month. I took Popcorn for a hike later in the afternoon on the off-leash trail (trying to time it so she wouldn't need a walk later), and she loved it as usual. I don't think we've ever been on the trail and seen so many black dogs. The hike wore her out, thankfully.

We grilled flank steak for dinner, then hung out until walking to Sugar House Park with our neighbors for the annual fireworks show, which seemed shorter than usual (only about 25 minutes). We trudged through the crowds back home, and the boys were so tired by then. I th…

Summer, Day 44

This is going to be a quick post, written a day late after working last night and not feeling much like blogging on Independence Day. We all slept in after the late night Monday post-swim meet. The boys played at a neighbor's house again, but other than that, we took it easy all day. I took them to swim practice and then went to work. A giant fire erupted in Utah County that you could see miles away. I got Costa Vida for dinner, and work was not busy. Seriously, if I had blogged this Tuesday, this was all I would have written.

A day of independence is next.

Summer, Day 43

A new week begins. Have kids, will travel.

The boys went to swim practice this morning, and I picked them up and watched Michael's diving practice. The sun was already hot by 9:30 a.m. This seemed like the hottest day so far this summer, but figuring that out is difficult because almost every day has been like this.We took it easy in the afternoon, with the boys playing by a neighbor's house for a couple of hours. I took them to the library and managed to get the dog out for a short walk, and the conditions were sweltering.

Monday night is swim meet night, and the boys swam at The Cottonwood Club in Holladay. Swimming a road meet isn't easy, and the deck of the pool at this country club was small. But the boys swam OK. Ben's times were similar to last week, though his backstroke would have been faster if he didn't swim into the lane line 5 yards into his race (and then hit it about three more times). Michael's freestyles looked great, and though he was faster …

Terabytes of memory

Typing something up recently, my mind wandered into an odd question: I wonder how many times I have hit the space bar with my right thumb.

I didn't wonder how often I did it in just that typing session, but for my whole life.

The human brain is an incredible data and logic machine, but I wish it was even more like a computer sometimes. I wish it recorded everything, just like a computer. If I could only access my brain's file, I could find out my space bar question. And I could ...

-- Find out how many steps I have taken in my lifetime. How many miles I have run. How many pairs of shoes I've gone through.

-- Figure out the exact moment I learned something. A new word. A historical fact. Addition. A simple skill such as putting on a shirt or opening a cheese wrapper.

-- Discover how many dreams I've had over my lifetime. Identify each one. I've written lucid dreams down before, but it's never is as accurate as the actual dream. And while on the subject of sleep,…


July is heat. July is bright. July is a quest for shade, a quest that sometimes proves futile even when you complete it.

July is blue. Blue skies. Blue parts of flags. Blue fireworks that sometimes could be confused for purple. This is also the month for punks -- not people with attitude, but the skinny smoldering sticks you use to light firecrackers. Ever hold a firecracker in one hand, the punk in the other, light the firecracker and then throw the punk instead? Thankfully, I still have all my fingers.

July is Sunkist commercials and cold generic cream soda. It's festival beer in a 16-ounce cup. July is frozen Sno-Cones -- not the freshly made ones, but ones that you buy from the ice cream man and are solid ice, with its blue, cherry and lemon flavors melding together into a sort of purple color as you lick it down.

The smells of sunscreen and chlorine are so July.

July is "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,"  "Die Hard 2" and "Escape From New York." It&#…

Summer, Day 42

I slept in late this morning, prompting Ben to ask me when I was going to wake up. I finally did, made an egg sandwich for breakfast, then took Michael outside to help me clear weeds from the side of the house near the air conditioner. We never see this, non-driveway side of the house, which tends to get a little overgrown. Vegetation wasn't encroaching upon the air conditioner, thankfully, so I pulled, clipped and chopped the weeds and quickly filled up the brown garbage can.

Lori was hosting a meeting of her committee from the boys' school, so I took them to the pool later in the afternoon. We ended up staying three hours. We encountered some of the boys' friends, and they splashed, dove and swam for a long time. I managed to actually read a few pages from a book while they swam, but I also splashed, dove (well, just jumped) and swam for a little while as well.

I grilled sliders for dinner, and we watched Olympic trials while we ate. I took Popcorn for a walk. I'm on…

Summer, days 40-41

After working late Friday night and not getting a chance to write during work, I'm combining two posts into one on Saturday night. Our Friday was boring anyway. Ben needed one more recovery day, so we mostly stayed inside until I went to work. Since I've been getting some extra shifts and doing layout at the newspaper, the nights have been easy, but last night was busier, to the point I never got out for a walk, never got out on the balcony with my laptop, and never got much of a chance to relax. I know I once did this five nights a week, but removed from full-time for long enough and even extra shifts are annoying. I work next Tuesday, then thanks to a scheduling quirk, have 11 days off until I work again (then do two shifts in three days followed by three weeks off for vacation). I'm looking forward to the long summer break

Saturday was a big improvement. Ben felt much better and was ready to run. The boys participated in the Mountair Mile, a multisport kids race they ha…