Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer, Day 101

Ben started sneezing and being stuffy yesterday. Today, Lori and I showed the same symptoms.

Damn, I better not be catching a cold to end the summer.

Today seemed busy but unproductive. I went to pick up both teams' soccer uniforms and tried to get a roster mistake fixed, but to no avail. Our email address might have been compromised, and we couldn't get that resolved tonight. The DVR receiver appears to be on the fritz. And I'm doing a fantasy football draft, right now, but every pick we want seems to be going one spot before us.

And, I'm sniffling. We are hoping that something we're all allergic too is simply blooming and being brought inside by the dog. I'm hoping Friday is less frustrating.

Yes, I got a cold.

Summer, days 99-100

My, I'm tired right now as I type this. The summer is wearing even on my summer posting project. I don't want to be quick about this, but I'm ready for bed. Let's see where I go with this ...

First, Tuesday, which was my first day co-oping of the new school year. And it is the first time in which I'm co-oping the entire day instead of splitting the co-op shifts between two days. This was by choice, and in the long run, I'm going to appreciate this more, but I was expecting some adapting to this schedule. By 1 or so, I was dragging a little. Next week, I need to sneak a soda (remember, I don't like coffee) in to drink before the afternoon co-oping. Otherwise, the day went well. I'm going to enjoy helping out in the boys' classes.

We got home and I napped a little. Then, we took Popcorn to Petsmart, where we were enamored with a feisty kitten missing an eye that was up for adoption. Thankfully, we came home with just pet food. I made sliders for dinner. I worked on some fantasy football preparation, and then hell, I was ready for bed.

Wednesday, I got some stuff done around the house and got the dog out for a walk. After picking the boys up from school, we went to the waterpark one last time before the season ends. Seven Peaks has afterschool hours this week, and it wasn't as crowded as a normal summer day. The boys had fun, but I arrived home dragging again. Ben might be catching a cold. I walked the dog again and watched "The Hunger Games" (just arrived in our mailbox from Netflix). And here I am, typing after midnight.

Summer fun with Day 101! OK, not really ...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer, days 97-98

Two days of posts. First, Sunday: I worked in the evening. The shift was easy, but I was annoyed when I went to Costa Vida, normally open until 8, to discover it closed at 7. Nothing else is open in the mall that late, so I drove to Wendy's for dinner -- not what I had in mind. I threw the ball to Popcorn in the morning. Did some laundry in the afternoon. Worked in the evening.

Now today, Monday. This was my first full day of both boys at school the whole day. I had made this big list last week of everything I want to accomplish with the hours of extra time I will now get with Ben in school all day. So after not sleeping well last night, I woke up, ate breakfast ... and didn't know what to do next. I couldn't even fall back asleep after my rough slumber. I posted my plight to a stay-at-home-dads forum I read, and someone gave good advice: The list can wait; enjoy the serenity of today. Then another day posted this suggestion: Go to the pool and swim without the kids. The sun was shining, the weather was hot, and I found myself at the pool.

I didn't swim much (maybe a couple laps) but did jump in three times. In between, I did take the nap while soaking up some sun and listening to a fantasy football podcast. I sat in the hot tub for 10 minutes -- normally off limits to kids (and why I never get to sit in it). I took a shower afterward, then went to pick up the boys from school.

For dinner, I tried a pork tacos recipe I found in Men's Health. It turned out all right, and I was sufficiently stuffed afterward. Popcorn got some play time with the neighbor's dog, so I didn't take her for a walk tonight. I'm going to wrap this up soon so I can get to bed early in advance of my first full day of co-oping (I'm volunteering for both kids on one day) of the school year.

I'm not going to lounge in the sun every day with my new explosion of kid-less time (the pool closes in a week anyway). I can't wait to tackle all the initiatives I listed. But the serenity for 90 minutes in the sun and water was a nice way to start the week, as well as a nice way to start a new focus in my life.

Another double post on its way.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer, Day 96

Kind of a boring day today. And I'm not apologizing for it.

The boys went to a birthday party for one of Ben's friends. We had a minor plumbing emergency that we addressed. We watched "Mr. Mom" on Netflix. I took Popcorn for a walk. I'm sitting outside and it's actually cooler tonight. That was our Saturday. Again, no apologies.

Two days of summer on deck.

Summer, Day 95

I got a whole morning to myself, with the boys at school and no need for me to go in. They didn't have a full day -- those start next week, at which point my free time increases. So what did I do with my free morning? Come up with a plan for the extra time while both boys are in school full-time. More working out. More writing. More freelancing. And while summer is winding down, a little more time in the sun.

I picked the boys up and brought them home, and once again, we weren't that driven to do anything. The routine will develop next week. After Lori got home and we ate dinner, we all went to a high school football game, where the local favorite Highland High defeated Cedar City 27-0. The boys had fun (Ben wanted to dance to the cheerleading songs and even belted out of a few lines of "Call Me Maybe") but tired out somewhat quickly. We returned home and I took Popcorn for a walk.

Here's Day 96.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer, Day 94

Everything seemed just off-kilter on Thursday. Maybe we were all just tired.

The boys had an OK day at school. I ate lunch with Ben and helped in the classroom for the rest of the shortened day. We were slugs in the afternoon after we got home, but that wasn't surprising considering how busy our previous day was. I tried getting a roster mistake on Michael's soccer team, which I'm not coaching, fixed, but with no luck yet -- and that flustered me for the rest of the afternoon. Lori brought home Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner. I played a little Wii with Michael. I took Popcorn for a three-mile walk in temps that hadn't cooled off even after dark (I have complained about this before -- this August hasn't felt like high desert). I wanted to blog last night, but sat down, watched "History Detectives" and almost dozed off during it. So, I went to bed early.

A routine is imminent. Just not this week.

Here comes Day 95.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer, Day 93

Wow, what a long, eventful, great day. Next time you want to make the first day of school memorable, go to an amusement park afterward.

The boys were awake bright and early, eager to start their school day. Lori made them lunches and took pictures of them outside our maple, and we loaded into the Corolla to drive to day one of the 2012-2013 school year. One great thing about the boys' school -- a co-op school where parents help in class -- is that parents aren't shunned from the classroom if it's not their co-op day. No we're not encouraged to be there every day, but on the first day of school, to see how what our kids' new classes were like, we were welcomed.

I spent a good chunk of the morning in Michael's new 2/3 class and helped out a little after a co-oper failed to show. From the first couple hours, I could tell Michael is going to do great. As an older kid in his 1/2 last year, he became a role model and a good friend for the younger kids. On his first day as a third-grader, he answered a question explaining what quality work was, then was called on again by his teacher to reinforce the point.

That said, I am more anxious about Ben's journey through first grade then Michael's year in third. I'm always more protective of Ben, and I want him to have a great year. I probably should not worry so much. He had a great first day, mostly witnessed by Lori. He raised his hand and wanted to participate. He had fun at recess. He plopped down next to Michael in the cafeteria, and though he will need to sit with his own friends at lunch, he at least felt comfortable there today (I might meet him for lunch tomorrow to encourage him tomorrow).

After school, we went on our annual trip to Lagoon. Usually, this day occurs before school begins, but this year, the Lori's office moved the Lagoon Day to this week. So, we went straight from school to the amusement park. This was the first year Ben was able and eager to go on the bigger rides. He's lucky -- he's right at a height that he can go on most of the grown-up rides and most of the kiddie rides. However, I get the sense Ben will be one of those people content to forgo thrills for mellower rides. We saw this on vacation when he tried tubing, but was just as happy simply to sit in the boat. Today, he went on some more daring rides, but he said his favorite was the sky ride that carried guests across the park. He went on the wooden roller coaster (my favorite) and didn't want to go on again. Admittedly, Lori was nervous to let him go on some rides even if he was tall enough (he is so damn skinny, after all). Michael was more daring and went on a few rides by himself, but avoided some others. Next year, if Ben doesn't want to spin upside down, maybe we bring a friend for Michael to enjoy those rides with. I know I won't ride them -- in fact, I think I might have reached a tipping point with thrill rides. A few things I normally would enjoy (including a couple roller coasters) dizzied me a little. If Ben gets more brave, he and Michael can go on rides together (they rode a few today).

We rode the giant Ferris wheel around sunset, as we do every year. That was supposed to be our last ride, but we went on two more before coming home. The boys were in bed by 9:30 -- a little late for a school night, but understandable after the long day. Hopefully, they sleep hard all night and are ready for their next day of school tomorrow.

Day 94 will be much less fun-filled.

Summer, Day 92

(Housekeeping note: I accidentally titled two posts as Day 82. As such, I've been a day behind in the titles of the last 10 days of posts. Rather than try re-titling everything, I'm skipping from Day 90 to Day 92, even though it's only been one day.)

Today was the boys' last day of summer before school began. Quite, honestly, it was mostly a clunker.

I didn't expect we'd do much today, and we lived up to that expectation. It felt like one of those summer days in which no one musters enough energy to get out of the house or to be too productive. Unfortunately, it came on the day before school started. I got a few things done, including some initial organization for the upcoming soccer season (I might be coaching Michael as well as Ben). We made it out to run a few errands. Lori went to a school meeting after work, so the boys and I ate dinner without her -- fish sticks and macaroni and cheese.

The day might have been boring, but the evening was nice. I took the boys and the dog to get a snow cone after Ben wondered a couple days ago why we hadn't got one all summer. The line was long and slow, which threw a little wrench into my plan of hiking to the H Rock to watch the sunset. We weren't able to hike, but I did drive to the other side of the trail, where the overlook is just as good as being in front of the rock.

We didn't stay for too long, but did get a glimpse of the sun briefly peeking out from behind the clouds and dropping behind Stansbury Island out in the Great Salt Lake. The boys seemed to appreciate the sunset -- we only stayed for a few minutes. I asked them what their favorite thing we did this summer, but Michael thought we meant today and said "getting a snow cone." Michael tried to pick out his school from the landscape below us (the haze didn't help). We drove home, and the boys finished their snow cones, got their pajamas on and went to bed. Lori came home in time to kiss them goodnight.

I hope the boys did have a good summer, capped with a snow cone and a sunset. I'm going to keep blogging until my 108 days of summer are over, and we're going to Lagoon after work tomorrow, but in the view of a child who doesn't go to class for 10 weeks, summer ends when school starts. The sunset on the last day before school start is bittersweet. It signifies a new beginning, but also shines on an ending. I remember the resignation of that last day of summer. At least the boys are excited to start school again tomorrow. I'm happy they are excited, and I'm looking forward to some more free time while they are in school, but hell, I'm going to miss them and our summer, too. That's my bittersweet sunset.

Day 93 is our least boring day of the year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer, Day 90

Our last full, stay-up-later-than-normal day before school begins did not go as planned.

I'll admit it: The boys and I were slugs this morning. We took Lori to work (our Outback was in the shop -- more on that later), but we got home and collapsed into laziness. I thought of maybe going to Kohl's to get Michael some Levi's and then running a few errands, but finally, I settled on taking the dog on a much-needed hike on the off-leash trail near our house. Yes, it was hot again today, but she's been on hikes in the heat before. This trail intersects and ends at a creek, so she could splash around and get a drink if needed.

As expected, Popcorn was running and playing as soon as we took her off the leash. She made some new dog friends, splashed in the creek, fetched a stick another dog owner was throwing and was sprinting all over the trail. In other words, she was loving the hike. On the way, a bee or wasp stung Michael on his hand. He cried, but the sting wasn't too bad. In retrospect, it was an omen.

We got to the end of the trail, which is a pond created by Parley's Creek. Popcorn generally doesn't jump in this pond, but was moving through the creek and being curious. We were there for a few minutes when Popcorn threw up a gooey, thick yellow substance -- possibly bile. Then she threw up again. I got her away from the trail and she threw up a third time. Definitely not good. She wouldn't drink any water we tried giving her. I called the vet, who said to bring her in. Of course, we were a mile from my car. We started walking, but she looked so tired and eventually found a shady spot to plop down. I was getting worried. I picked her up and started carrying her back to the car. I didn't carry her the whole way, and eventually, she did walk some again. We made it to the creek crossing earlier in the trail, and she walked down for a drink, but she didn't play. In fact, she didn't play with any dogs she encountered on the way back, including a cute Great Dane puppy about her size. That's when I knew she was truly feeling icky. I thought maybe she was suffering from heatstroke -- she is a black dog, after all -- or she ate something (yellow flowers?) that disagreed with her. I carried her some more, and we got back to the car and hurried to our vet.

While waiting in the reception area, Popcorn drank some water, and her tail was wagging again, offering me some relief that she was feeling better. We saw the vet, who wondered if maybe something stung her. The vet reasoned that a healthy, young lab, shouldn't be affected by the heat so quickly. At the end of the trail is some muddy, swampy ground next to the creek that is always wet but never has anything really flowing through it. Wasps always are buzzing about this ground, and I wonder if one stung Popcorn and caused an allergic reaction. The vet reasoned that a sting could shut her down that quickly. One minute she was fine; the next, she was miserable. And her heart rate was still elevated when the vet checked. They took Popcorn to a quiet room where she got a couple injections to deal with the possible sting,  then let her rest, drink some water, and monitor her blood pressure, which came down. When Lori arrived, Popcorn was happy to see her and  feeling better. We brought Popcorn home and let her rest. I took her out later, and she wanted to play, but we stopped that -- she needs a good night's rest after her rough day.

Our car had a rough day, too. After the mechanics could not definitively say what was wrong with the Outback, and it started right up for them every time, it conked out on Lori while she was waiting at a light. It started up right away, and now the mechanics are thinking it might be a fuel pump. At least that can be fixed. I drove it home, and I could feel it not getting the surge it should when you step on the gas. But I still got home in it. 

I skip a day in numbers but not on the calendar, so Day 92 is next.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer, days 88-89

I've been lamenting about the heat, haze and humidity all week, and the conditions haven't improved, even though rain, fronts and winds have been forecast for a few days now. After seeming to get better this morning, the haze returned to the point I can't see the mountains across the valley. This weather is making it difficult for me not to wish summer to end ...

Saturday, Michael had a birthday party in North Salt Lake, and I got a couple hours to myself. I looked for a primary-ruled composition book that Ben needs for school and got lunch at Jimmy John's. We returned home and relaxed in advance of the Real Salt Lake game we saw that night. We had rain checks we were given for this season that we needed to use, and Michael and I drove to Sandy to get tickets in the morning before his birthday party.

The game was fun, even though RSL lost 2-1 via a goal in the 94th minute. We were given tickets in the Supporters Section, near where the two major fan groups for the team sit. Next to us was the group of Latino fans, who had their own band (the drums pounded the whole game), chants, confetti, streamers and a giant banner they raised when RSL scored a goal. Most American soccer fans don't get this festive, so sitting next to the section unique, and ultimately, a lot of fun. Ben loved it, but the constant pounding got to Michael.

Today was uneventful. Outside sucks, even now near midnight because the air hasn't cooled off. Nobody felt too much energy, and I needed hours before I summoned enough effort to get outside (I went looking for a late-season lawn chair deal, already contemplating the boys in school and a free afternoon with my laptop, the backyard, and sun). I grilled steaks for dinner, and later, I took Popcorn for a long walk.

I have an odd feeling we are headed for the hottest September ever. I shouldn't have to look forward to November.

One last day before school starts ...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer, Day 87

I'm working tonight, sitting on the balcony and overlooking a hazy valley. Will I associate haze with August the way I associate cloudy humidity, indifferent baseball and desperate inevitability with this month? At the very least, I'll associate this day with the smoky sky.

OK, this day wasn't so bad. The boys had fun, and work, despite this being the first prep football night, is bearable. Our plan was to go to the waterpark, maybe for our last morning/afternoon excursion there of the summer (we are planning to go after school a couple times). We got going early (for us this week, at least), loaded into the car, I turned the ignition ... and the car wouldn't start. Eventually, it started and we drove to the waterpark with the thought the battery would be recharged. I turned the car off, then immediately tried turning it on again ... and nothing. I walked the boys into the waterpark, where we found the friends we were meeting, and asked them if they could watch the boys while I tried figuring out what was wrong with the car.

I returned to the Outback, and it started on the first turn. I took it to a Sears, where they tried testing the battery but had to give it a charge to get a better reading. Lori eventually drove over and let me take the Corolla so I could drive back to the waterpark and relieve my friends. I tried having fun once I got to the waterpark, and there are worse things on a hot day. Ben insisted on going in the hot tub, twice, which sapped my energy. On a very simple concrete slide (almost like a fountain), I hit the water at the bottom and, I swear, water shot up my nose and bruised the back of my head (I still can't figure out how I lost the breathing out timing on water slides). I did go back on the slide upon which I flipped my tube last month, and I reached the splash pool intact. We left to meet our Lori to drop off the Outback at our mechanic after Sears said the battery was fine.

I took the boys through a McDonald's drive-through before arriving at the mechanic. After barely eating breakfast, the Double Quarter Pounder improved my mood. We eventually got home without a lot of time for me to relax before going to work.

The hazy sky is grayish-purple as night falls. I would take a picture, but my camera phone won't do it justice. The car is in the shop until Monday, when our mechanic will test what could have been preventing the car from starting (alternator, starter or fuel pump?). I have a feeling that on Monday morning, they will find nothing wrong with it. Hurray for the impending Saturday ...

Twice the days in one post, up next ...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer, Day 86

I forgot to mention that besides the heat in Salt Lake City, the air is hazy from wildfire smoke. We so need a break from all this.

That said, at least these have been perfect days for the pool. We went back to our friend's neighbor to swim again, and this time brought the dog to play with a puppy lab (about Popcorn's size) she is watching. The dogs had fun, and the boys had fun. I got to relax a little in the sun, but I was still exhausted by the time we got home. I didn't sleep well last night and woke up restless and too early. And again, we weren't out of the house before noon.

Lori and I went to the parent meeting for Michael's new class, which already seems like a good group. School starts in six days. Am I being selfish in wanting it to get here soon?

Ahead to Day 87.

Summer, Day 85

I might not want summer to end, but damn, I'll be happy when it cools off a little.

We've endured the heat all summer -- worse than usual for Utah -- and most days I adjust. Today, the heat simply seemed oppressive. I'm outside after midnight typing this, but the air still feels warm, humid (this is unusual for Utah -- usually, the sun goes down and you get a little break).

Not surprisingly, I felt tired all day. Michael went to a birthday party. I ran a couple errands with Ben. Driving in the Corolla in this heat reminded me of when we moved to Utah and the two August weeks I spent here on my own (Lori had flown back to Madison in 2000 after we initially drove out here). The heat was something else back then, but I didn't mind because everything was new. Today, I did mind.

So what did I do for dinner? Grill in this heat. Thankfully, sliders cook up quickly. I took Popcorn for a walk after the sun went down, but even she was happy to get back in the house. Tomorrow, I'll deal with the heat again, but hopefully, I won't be so tired. And definitely, we'll find a pool in which to cool ourselves.

Day 86 beckons.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer, days 83-84

Growing up afraid of water, I dreaded summer despite the fact I also loved summer. To me, summer was primarily swimming, and because I didn't want to go near any body of water, there was always some apprehension caused by the knowledge that my friends and family wanted to swim and I didn't.

I got over my fear (mostly) and looked forward to the swimming.every summer. I was determined that the boys would love the water.

The past two summer days have been all about the water.

Yesterday, we went to a friend's pool where we swam. Today, we went to a friend's pool where we swam.

Monday first: We were so tired the morning after the concert that we didn't do much after waking up. But we needed to clean -- Lori was hosting a small meeting for school, and a member of her committee was bringing her sons. The boys needed to straighten up their room, and they took a long time doing so. Eventually, we got out the door and made it to the apartment complex of one of Ben's classmates for a swim playdate. The sun was hot, the water was a little cool (but not too bad), and all the kids splashed and played and snacked. Ben's classmate has a brother around Michael's age, and they hung out as well.

We made it home, tired, and welcomed the other boys we were entertaining during the meeting. Our boys, however, wanted to play across the street, so all six boys (my two, her three and our neighbor) engaged in a big squirt gun fight. We walked to Yogurt Stop for dessert, the other boys went home, and I was exhausted. I took Popcorn on a short walk, then was too tired to even blog.

Now today: We weren't as sluggish this morning, but we still got out the door about the same time as Monday. Our friend Maureen is watching a neighbor's house with a pool again, and she invited us to swim. We took one of Ben's friends and one of Michael's friends and swam for a couple hours. We got home and prepared for a bigger school meeting we were hosting -- this one for all the parents in Ben's new class. The backyard gathering was a success. I took Popcorn for a two-mile walk, and my left knee has barely hurt all day.

If you suspect I'm trying to get as much water time in before the summer ends, you would be correct. We can hike and ride bikes and do plenty of other summer stuff in the fall, school notwithstanding. Swimming outside won't last beyond another month or so. All these years later, I still believe that's one thing that summer is all about.

Onward to Day 85!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer, Day 82

Both of my legs are wobbly tonight and a little sore (there is ice on my knee as I type). My right inner feels a little dazed after a night of loud music. I am still too wired to go to bed, even though it's after midnight.

Totally worth it.

We saw Michael Franti tonight at Red Butte Garden. After Lori and I saw him last year at Red Butte Garden, we agreed to take the boys if he returned to Salt Lake City this summer. He did, and we bought tickets as soon as they went on sale last spring. Ben loves Michael Franti's music, and Michael generally likes concerts, so we were confident we'd have fun.

We had fun. So much fun. This might be the most fun concert I have ever attended.

I was surprised how many lyrics of Franti's songs Ben actually knew. He loved it when his favorite song, "I Got Love for You" was played. He was dancing, cheering while sitting on my shoulders (hence the sore legs) and singing along. Michael was a little more reserved and got a little tired during the middle of the show (he and Lori had gone on a long hike this morning) but still enjoyed the show. Both boys liked the beach balls that got thrown into the crowd during "Sound of Sunshine" (we even deflated and kept one).

After a quiet morning (I mowed the lawn and Ben played DS inside while Lori and Michael went on their hike), Lori dropped me off to Red Butte Garden around 3:30 to wait in line in advance of the gates opening. Maybe next time I'll show up earlier, but we still got a good spot on a lawn, on the side but only a few yards from the fence. Being so close only ramped up our energy.

Michael Franti will step down to the fence after his concerts to say hi to fans (some of his band members will too). We decided to stay (I had gotten to the fence by the end of the encore) to let the boys meet him. It took a little while, and our Michael got a little squished when a drunk woman tried crashing the group of people next to us, but he made it us, and Ben wrapped his arms around him for a huge hug. Michael F.smiled and gave him a guitar pick. I thanked him and said that Ben had the time of his life.

On the way back to the car, Ben was so wired and happy, and I told him how lucky he was. Most kids his age don't get to see their favorite musicians, much less give them a hug. Ben got to do both tonight. The concert would have been great without the kids. With them, it was spectacular.

I'm going to try and get some sleep now. My knee is numb from the ice. My ear is ringing.

Totally worth it.

To Day 83.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer, days 81-82

Another two-day recap after working last night. I'll make Friday brief. I ran a few loads of laundry. Ben practiced riding his bike around the block with the uneven training wheels.I worked, late. Ate a Costa Vida salad for dinner. Came home from work and basically went right to bed.

Yawn. Saturday was much better.

The boys competed in their first kids' triathlon this morning up in Park City. Before the race started, I adjusted Ben's training wheels so he wouldn't have as much balance issues. We originally signed him up for an older division, knowing he could easily handle a longer swim and run, but on a suggestion from one of the race organizers, dropped him back into his own age group. Wise decision -- Ben rocked the 25-yard swim, but was slow with the training wheels on the quarter-mile bike ride. He eventually finished the bike portion of the race, parked it in his transition area, then ran 200 yards, quickly enough that he didn't come in last. I don't think he would have minded if he did -- he was so excited to cross the finish line and get a medal, and be proud of his achievement. He'll get there on the bike -- after all, I didn't learn how to ride until I was 8.

Michael competed with his friend Aiden in the 10-and-under division (yes, Michael is only 8; we bumped him up, again, knowing he could do the swim easily). He was the third out of the pool but was a little slower in his transition to the bike and a little apprehensive to pass the kid in front him. But he was still moving it on the bike, finished his mile, and transitioned to the run. The older kids' run was a half-mile with a little bit of a hill. Michael held in fourth place throughout the run and finished strong, though so tired -- his first words to me were "I have to sit down." He did great and loved the whole experience. He may not be the best at some sports, but he was good enough at three today (and I noticed while he was running with his shirt off that he has a much more athletic build than his skinny, just-like-his-dad-was little brother). This might be a good sport for Michael. The group that organized the triathlon does a couple camps every summer, and we might explore that for both boys next year.

The rest of the day was mostly recovery, the boys from their race and me from my late night. I watched the Olympics and fell asleep during the women's team handball final (not because it was boring!). We went to Best Buy later in the afternoon. I took Popcorn for a two-mile walk. I'm blogging and watering the lawn and hoping to see a meteor or two with the Persieds on display tonight.

Oh, one more thing: I'm proud of the boys today in the triathlon. They worked hard and had fun.

I repeat another day, this time 82, on my next post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer, days 79-80

Two days to recap here. Wednesday I worked, and as much as I want to cram as much into these last days of summer, I didn't want to tire myself out for my shift. I ran some errands with the boys, then pruned the out-of-control wisteria in the back yard. Work was a little busy with the Olympics, but not too stressful.

This morning, we went for a hike in Millcreek Canyon with the school group we hiked with last month. This time, we probably hiked about three miles. We took Popcorn along, and she loved it, of course. My knee felt great. Two girls who were neighbors of one of the other moms came along with their nanny, and one of the girls, age 6, spent half the hike talking with Ben, age 6. I'm so used to girls fawning over Michael that it was cute to see one holding a long conversation with Ben, who wanted to invite her over for a playdate to see his rock collection and watch the movie version of "Scooby-Doo."

We were lazy after returning home, until the evening when we attended the boys' swim banquet. Ben got a medal for his season, and Michael received two -- for swimming and diving -- and was named the "Hardest Worker" for his swimming age group (and got a certificate for the achievement). I was very proud. The banquet ended with a pool party for the kids. Ours splashed and dived for an hour and ate some ice cream. Swim season was well worth it.

I took Popcorn for a walk later after we got home. Scorpius is still in the southern sky, further to the east every night. Twenty-eight days left to my summer, and only 13 until the boys begin school ...

One post, two days, again ...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympic dreams

I was only 5 years old when Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976. I don't remember watching much of it, missing Bruce Jenner and Nadia Comaneci.

In 1980, I was fully vested in the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (I wrote about this back in February). But that summer, the United States boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. Another four years would pass before I would fully get the Summer Games experience.

When those Games, in 1984 in Los Angeles, arrived, they were an experience. In the days before the Internet and the proliferation of cable TV, the only Olympics to be seen were on ABC. Granted the network aired something all day (except for an abbreviated half-hour "All My Children" -- which I was also watching), and I watched as much as I could. I won't lie: Near the end of the Games, I was suffering a little Olympic fatigue. But near the end of the two weeks, we had gone to Wisconsin for a far-flung, small family reunion, then went to our neighbor's cottage in Wauconda, Ill. While everyone else was at the lake, I stayed in the cottage and watched track and field, realizing what an event the past two weeks had been. When I see the paths that brought me to be a sports journalists, the L.A. Olympics were on the map.

I was a freshman in college for the Seoul Olympics. I had just graduated college the summer of Barcelona. We were living in Madison for Atlanta, and had just moved to Utah for Sydney. Obviously, we lived in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games. I've worked in the office during many Olympics over the past 20 years, including the Beijing Games four years ago that seem like they just happened.

Enter 2012. The London Olympics take on a new dimension for me: I get to watch them with my sons.

They watched some of the Vancouver Winter Olympics two years ago and liked them, but they seem more interested this year. They are asking a lot of questions. They are recognizing the sports. Ben is rooting for the U.S. in every sport we watch. Michael likes the swimming and wants to get back into gymnastics. We have watched beach volleyball, track, water polo and team handball.

The Olympics are commercialized, and NBC is over-contriving them more than ever. And I don't care. In the second week, I know these Games will come to a close, too. I hope Michael and Ben are just excited come 2014 for the next Winter Olympics and in 2016 in Rio. The Olympics have been special for me. These Olympics have been special for us.

If I could only watch team handball all year long ...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer, Day 78

Another busy summer day. We are not going quietly into that last day before school starts.

I got a call this morning from the dad of one of Michael's friends, saying they were taking another friend to the waterpark today. Also going was another friend of Michael's and her mom. I had been resisting going to the waterpark this week -- with the sore knee and the endless sucking in of the stomach after eating my way through Chicago -- but remembered my goal to get the most out of these summer days. So we hurried and left the house for Seven Peaks.

The boys and their friends had fun. My knee felt better, though I didn't attempt the tube slides after the wipeout from last time. The park wasn't as crowded as usual, either. We stayed for a few hours, wore ourselves out, and went home to eat lunch.

In the evening, we went to the Skechers outlet to get new shoes for the boys, then went to Smashburger for dinner. Michael and Ben rode their bikes while we walked the dog to get frozen yogurt for desert. As usual, we concluded our night watching the Olympics.

Another twofer for days 79 and 80.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer, days 77-78

Sunday, our first day back from vacation, after a late flight back to Salt Lake City, went exactly as I had expected -- we recovered. I did make it to Shopko to buy an SD card reader, and Michael did go for two bike rides with his best friend. I unpacked. We watched a lot of Olympics, and I did get Popcorn out for about a 1-mile walk. And I slept -- not late after Michael and the dog woke me up, but I napped mid-morning. Recovery complete.

Today was the first of 16 days before school starts. My goal is to cram as much as we can into these 16 days. Today, the boys enjoyed a five-hour playgroup at the house of one of Ben's classmates (thanks, Tricia, for hosting!). I didn't stay for the whole time, going home for a couple hours kid-free. I had filled up the kiddie pool and sat out with my feet in the water (but not my whole self in the water for too long -- the sun hadn't warmed it up too much) and relaxed with a magazine. I eventually drove back to pick the boys up, chatted with the other parents, and returned home.

After dinner (quesadillas/tacos), we tried getting some bicycle time for Ben, who is competing in a triathlon Saturday but can't yet ride his bike. Lori and I decided to put training wheels back on the bike, and we went to Toys 'r' Us to buy some that fit. He went once around the block, which was longer than what he will ride in his race. After watching some Olympics, I took Popcorn for a 2-mile walk (my knee, though still swollen, is feeling much better).

Fifteen days left to get the most out of summer. What to do tomorrow ...

I accidentally repeat Day 78. You'll see.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer, Day 76; Vacation, Day 12

I'm writing this a day later because we got home so late last night. Our last day of vacation -- the return day -- was similar to most return days. We spent time getting ready to depart. We said goodbyes. We took it easy, even with most of the day still in Chicago. We were thankful.

And just when we were ready to go, we were delayed. A big thunderstorm rolled through Chicago, delaying our flight for two hours. With our scheduled departure at 6:35, the delay meant it was going to be a late night.

The boys accompanied my dad and his dog to the park one last time on the trip. We took Dad and his girlfriend to lunch, and they bought let the boys pick out a book at Barnes and Noble for the flight home. At about 3:15 and back at my father's house, I looked at my watch and kind of wanted to the next hour and a half to go quickly, not because I wanted to leave, but because I wanted to get the return over with. Then, I got the email from Delta notifying us of the delay.

So, we relaxed. The boys, not used to Midwestern thunderstorms, hid under a blanket when the thunder rolled through, but instead of using a flashlight for illumination, were playing my dad's iPad. I managed a quick nap. My dad made us a quick dinner. Finally, we made it to the airport and quickly  made it through security.

However, I was sure we were going to be delayed more. The plane we were supposed to board to fly back was late to arrive. Delta did a great job deplaning and getting the plane ready to go again, and we left on time. The sunset at 34,000 feet was an amazing maroon on the horizon. The boys fell eventually asleep, leaving me awake to endure more turbulence than usual. Lori was waiting for us at the airport. Our bags made it out quickly, and we returned home to see Popcorn and Maggie. Vacation ended.

And the vacation was good. As usual, it went by too fast, and with it being a few days shorter this year, I somewhat wondered what we actually did. In fact, we did a lot and enjoyed every day. And our families enjoyed seeing the boys. Until the next vacation ...

Slug Bug final: The boys tied for the first place! Thankfully, as a native Chicagoan, I excel at creative tallying.

Two days for the price of one on the next post.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer, Day 75; Vacation, Day 11

We needed to return the rental car at 3 p.m. today, so I knew the day would be intersected. We would do something in the morning, bring the car back, and then welcome my friend John for a visit in the evening. The boys, after their crabby day yesterday, got some play time when we visited my friend Marc, who has three boys and lives next door to his in-laws with a pool. The activity made them less jumpy and me less annoyed. It was good to see Marc, one of several friends I wish I could see every year but end up seeing once every two or three. We gassed up the car and got it back to the rental agency in time.

It was good to see John, too, who stopped by the house after he was done with work. My dad got us Giordano's pizza for dinner, thus satisfying my last Chicago craving -- stuffed pizza. After letting the boys stay up late to watch the Olympics, I finally got them to bed. I'm going to pack in the morning.

The last night on vacation is always a little sad. I'm going to miss being on vacation and spending time with my family, and I always try to take the last day in to recognize that I'm here, on vacation and at my dad's house -- a place my kids love so much -- and not at home. But I'm eager to get back home, too. The trip has been long and fun. We will have several hours tomorrow before our plane lives to wrap up our vacation. Then it's back home to see Lori, our pets, our friends, and everything we miss.

In the meantime, I'm going to eat the last piece of pizza.

Vacation is almost over, on Day 76.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer, Day 74; Vacation, Day 10

The boys drove me crazy today. Whining, arguing, disobeying. I'm not sure if they were tired, were missing their Mom, or just bored, but they were on my nerves all day.

Today was low-key, and maybe that's what we needed, because any more activity might have pushed me over the edge. We took a walk on a nature trail at Peterson Park with my dad. Both boys enjoyed the walk, with Ben insisting about taking in the view from every bench he saw and Michael taking pictures. The highlight was seeing a mother deer with a fawn (which you can barely see in the picture, but it's there).After playing at the nearby park, we went for ice cream.

We always seem to have one day such as this near the end of vacation. We get back from Wisconsin, we have nothing concrete planned, and the day doesn't seem wasted, but rather, simply there. After dinner, the boys took a bath and settled down. While my sister watched the boys, I dropped my other siblings off at the pool they work at, then took my time coming home, cranking up the stereo to the Foo Fighters' "Walk" and seeing a giant orange moon rising in the east. The extra 10 minutes gave me enough of a recharge to look forward to seeing the boys who had been driving me nuts all day. We watched the Olympics for a little while, then I tucked them in.

Slug Bug update (and this was causing some of the stress): Michael 29, Ben 26, me 23.

And now, Day 75.


August is cloudy heat. A good chunk of my childhood August memories are humid and cloudy. And rainy. The endless of sun of July gives way to more instability. Sure, the gorgeous days are still there. But so are the storms, and the drab.

Desperation is August. The summer is winding down, and there is only so much time to cram in everything you wanted to do during the last two months. Or to do one last time before September. One last day to the waterpark. One last ball game. One last walk to get a snow cone or frozen yogurt. One last trip out town.  One last summer adventure.

August is earlier nights, later mornings. August is indifference, especially as a Cubs fan -- by this time in most years, my team is already out of it. August is bittersweet.

August is anticipation, sometimes good, sometimes bad. You anticipate the cooler weather, but you know the cooler weather will eventually give way to cold weather. You anticipate football season, again knowing that football season will end in the winter. You anticipate school, for good and for bad. For someone who loves summer such as myself, I know how excited the boys will be when school starts again, but I wish I had them a few weeks longer. And when they begin to dread school starting again, August will be bittersweet for them as well.

August is "After the Love Is Gone" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "Hands to Heaven" by Breathe and "Go Insane" by Lindsay Buckingham. It's fantasy football magazines and trees that look a little exhausted. It's "Risky Business" and "The Commitments."

August eventually asks the question: "How was your summer?"

August is transition. I remember being so nervous starting high school in August, and being so awestruck when leaving home for my freshman year of college in August.

The summer may be great, but it can't last. August reminds me that the craziness will return. The chauffeuring, the busy days, the crazy weekends, the things in our lives that we need to function, to grow, to learn -- things we so desperately try to get through yet relish at the same time. Things that go too fast.

Inevitability. The most inevitable month of the year.

This is August.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer, Day 73; Vacation, Day 9

The picture above says it all: We went to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play today. Three generations of Gillespie men: my father, my sons and myself. I took the Lori and the boys to a game last year, so this wasn't their first time to Wrigley. Still, they were excited to see a game, just as I was when I was a kid and now as an adult.My stepfather managed to secure us some good upper deck tickets (my knee handled all the ramps), and the weather was gorgeous.

Unfortunately, the Cubs didn't live up to our excitement for the day. After Starlin Castro hit a home run on the Cubs' second at-bat, the offense shut down. The Pirates only led 2-1 going into the eighth inning before their first seven runners got on base. Leading 7-1 during what was already a long game (so many full counts and throws to first), we decided to get out before the everyone else. We walked across the street to the official Cubs store, then another Cubs merchant selling discount shirts. I wanted to get a Cubs jersey, perhaps of Ryan Dempster, whom the team traded Tuesday, on the cheap. I did find a Dempster jersey that was OK, but then found a Ryan Theriot alternate road jersey originally priced at $170 but on sale for $30. I quietly showed the sales guy all the money I had left in my wallet -- $26 -- and he gave me the deal (he probably wanted to get rid of the jersey, considering Theriot hadn't played for the Cubs in two years). It's a nice jersey, and not many Utahns will know who Theriot is anyway.

We started walking back to the car when we heard cheering behind us at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were rallying! They got within 8-4 when we turned on the radio in the car, but Anthony Rizzo struck out to end the game. I told the boys that not every game will be a victory, especially for the Cubs. Michael was disappointed he didn't get to hear "Go Cubs Go" like last year, but at least they got to see a fan in the bleachers throw a home run back onto the field.

We drove home, then went to Taco Burrito King for dinner and to get my Midwestern burrito fix. Oddly, not as good as I had hoped, but still not bad (I miss El Chico in Milwaukee). We came home and watched the Olympics, while Ben played board games with my dad's girlfriend for a couple hours. I can already feel vacation winding down. Today was definitely one of the highlights -- even if the Cubs lost.

Slug Bug update: Lori gave her points to the boys before going to Utah, so the new standings are Michael 25, Ben 23, me 20.

To Day 74 ...