Friday, September 28, 2012

Dusk fall

(After posting about about the Pope in 1979, here's another fall memory, 27 years later.)

In the fall of 2006, I was stressed out. Work was stressing me out, the demands of a new baby were stressing me out, and my worrying brain was making it worse.

My friend John was getting married in Chicago that September, and Michael and I flew out a few days early to spend some extra time with my family. The trip was a much-needed break from the stress I was feeling.

Unlike our usual trips to Chicago, this one wasn't packed with things to do. One evening, Michael and I were looking for something to do, so we went with my father to my 11-year-old sister's club soccer practice on the fields outside of Taft High School. While she practiced, Michael ran around and kicked a soccer ball with me. He seemed so big back then (and was kicking the ball well), but I must remind myself he wasn't even 3 (Michael will always seem so big to me, no matter what age I'm remembering him at).

The sunset becomes startlingly early in September in Chicago, and soon, dusk was encroaching upon the soccer field. It felt so familiar. After being in Utah for six years -- and working through most sunsets -- there was a powerful familiarity to that evening. I don't want to say I forgot all my stresses, but that night, they were mildly soothed by the pink sky of the soon-to-be-dark evening.

The next night, with nothing to do, I asked my dad if we could tag along to soccer practice again. I needed that fall Chicago sunset again.

TGINW (Thank God it's not Wednesday)

The boys are off school today, and I'm typing this from Kangaroo Zoo, an inflatable playland in North Salt Lake. The day off was such a rare, revered occasion in my youth that I wanted to make sure they had fun today.

My plan didn't go as smoothly as I hoped.

I originally wanted to take them on a train ride at the Heber Valley Railroad. The changing leaves in the mountains are peaking, and we hadn't been on this train in since 2008. Alas, our Outback needs a new water pump, which are replacing on Monday, but I didn't want to tempt fate. My next idea was Cowabunga Bay, a waterpark that is open for one more weekend. The temperature today is in the low 80s, so weather wasn't a concern, but the park wasn't open until 3 (and then closes at 7). I still think it would be fun to go this weekend (tickets this late are cheap), but it just wasn't going to work out today.

So, we ended up at Kangaroo Zoo. We had some passes and took one of Michael's friends along. But I wanted to go sooner, but we didn't get out until later. I'm trying to figure out the three hours it took for us to get out the door, but other than some work-related stuff and a load of laundry I folded, I don't know where the time went.

Do I feel a responsibility to make sure the boys' weekdays' off from school are more than just playing video games and watching "Phineas and Ferb?" Hell, yeah. Maybe I shouldn't feel that way, but I do. The days off are rare, and will be rarer when they grow up. They can veg out on weekends. Days off from school are meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Does the Pope drive through the woods?

(With summer ending and fall approaching, I'm recollecting some autumn moments over the years. Sweatshirts, football, red and yellow leaves, cross country meets, new Old Farmer's Almanacs and bite-sized candy bars. No, fall isn't so bad.)

In the fall of 1979, my mother had signed me up for a soccer clinic at Norridge Park. The clinic basically was to introduce kids to the game, and Mom must have thought I would enjoy a new sport (I already was sports-obsessed by age 8). Even just a decade later, I probably would have been playing soccer at age 6, but in 1979, it hadn't invaded suburban (or in my case, the middle-class neighborhoods inside the fringes of Chicago) youth sports.

I don't remember much about the clinic, which was one or two days a week for a few weeks. I obviously wasn't that enamored with soccer, because if I really took to it, I probably would have asked to keep playing. That's too bad -- I think if I was born 20 years later, soccer would have been a good sport for me, and if I did take an instant liking to it, I might have gotten good enough to play in high school, not because I was naturally talented, but because there simply weren't as many soccer players back then.

Soccer isn't the theme of this post. The papacy is.

On Oct. 4, 1979, Pope John Paul II arrived in Chicago. He spent about two days in a city with the largest Polish-Catholic population outside of Warsaw. Needless to say, this was a big deal to Catholics in Chicago. Our parish and support wanted to show the our support. Mom picked me up from soccer that gray-skied day to join other parishioners and classmates to see the Pope.

We drove to a grassy area next to the Kennedy Expressway off Seminole Street somewhat near our house. There was a hole in the fence and a good 50 yards to the expressway, and a many people had gathered. The Pope's motorcade would travel from the airport via the Kennedy to downtown. We waited to see him. Zoom! His limo with tinted windows sped by. I never actually saw the Pope that day, but just his a brief blur of his car.

I remember so much from this fall, especially this October. Oddly, there are some autumns from my youth from which I haven't remembered as much (including one I wrote about last year). But not 1979. The memories are vivid and important. Even when I was younger (about 12), the start of fourth grade seemed like a transition from being a little kid to being a not-so-little kid. Maybe that's why everything from that fall -- the whole next 12 months, in fact -- is so easily remembered.

Michael is only a third grader, but is turning 9 this fall like I turned 9 in the fall of 1979. I hope he remembers everything.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

All things equinox

Fall began today. Summer was still yesterday. I don't go much by the official seasons when I think of what is summer, what is fall, and so on, but astronomically, we are now in fall.

I didn't blog last night after being just worn out at 10 p.m. Yesterday started out well but descended into frustration and antsy-ness. The boys didn't cause this, but after they got home, any fatigue I had been battling all week finally caught up with me. I just felt blah, and instead of being productive, watched two episodes of "Law and Order: SVU." Yes, that's the way my mood turned. We did go outside for a little while and watched a movie as the boys fell asleep. But I was dragging and went to bed by 11.

I'm not sure what's up. I shouldn't be this tired -- I slept OK all week (though overnight Thursday, I did have a bad dream in which I temporarily couldn't find Ben). I ate like crap all week, too (though I managed salads the last two days). The routine, the goals, the list are all waiting. I just can't seem to find the energy to get there just yet. I'm hopeful for next week.

Today was a soccer day, and I felt re-energized coaching two teams to victory (though I tell my kids, don't worry about the score). Michael's team played its best game of the season and won 10-0 (and he scored three goals), and Ben's team played phenomenally against a team that, according to its coach, hadn't given up a goal all season until us. We won 5-4. Ben is amazing to watch, not because he's this incredible talent (he's not, but he tries -- I wish he was more aggressive sometimes, but today, he was tough, especially after taking a corner kick right to the gut and playing through it), but because he gets so excited playing defense. The ball starts coming his way, dribbled by the other team, and he does this incredible, hyper, uncoordinated, excited bounce before he starts heading for the play. I need to get this on video so I never forget the sheer exuberance, fear and anticipation he feels.

We went to Smashburger for lunch. The boys played with their friends on the block for a few hours while I worked around the house. The energy was back a little, at least enough to get out after the boys fell asleep and blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thirsty Thursdsay

As hoped for, I had most of the day to myself. I went to Kohl's and Harmon's, did some stuff around the house and ... not much else. That's OK -- I needed a little time to relax.

I ran soccer practice for both teams in the early evening, then the boys and I went to Red Robin for dinner. They were hungry after practice and gobbled down their food. Despite being out later than I would have liked, we got home by 8:30 and the boys were in bed by 9. 

Bring on Friday -- another day to myself. I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's Wednesday!

We took Lori to the airport early this morning. Really early. I picked up McDonald's for the boys at the nearby location, and our order was only screwed up twice. Luckily, I caught the gaffes before leaving. We got home, had breakfast, and I managed 10 more minutes of sleep before getting us all ready for school.

I drove on Michael's field trip to Silver Lake, up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The excursion was fun, the weather was nice, and we were back by 12:30. I drove home and managed a little nap, finished the freelance project I had been working on and took Popcorn on a quick walk before returning to school to get the boys. We lounged a little at home, I made them ravioli for dinner, and Lori and the boys Skyped. We took Popcorn to Petsmart and came home. The boys were in bed by 9. I've been watching TV and finally got my laptop out to blog. I'm planning on going to bed soon.

Another parent in Michael's class called asking if I could possibly sub  as a co-oper tomorrow. I feel bad, because she's sick tonight, but I need a day without school or errands -- a day to get stuff done around the house and take Popcorn on a long hike. And a day to relax, at least before soccer practice and the long weekend ahead. Hopefully, the other mom is feeling better or my conscience shuts down. I need the break.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday afternoon

I co-oped all day, and it went well, but I got home and was tired, only to discover Popcorn had chewed into her bed again and a punk kid coming home from the nearby school felt it was OK to ride his bike over everybody's lawn. I shook a fist and yelled at the kid, thus tiring me out more. The boys and I made a quick trip to Shopko after dinner, and both boys read for me.

I shouldn't judge a day just by how tired I am and by how tired I foresee the next day being. I'm helping drive on a field trip tomorrow, and though it should be fun, I'm kind of wishing I had the whole day to work out, finish the freelance project I'm working on (almost done) and get Popcorn out for a long walk. I will try to appreciate all the good and know the fatigue is worth it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Monday

I haven't blogged in a few days, and I'm not sad about it -- I think I needed a break, especially after getting so sick a week ago. This week, I'm striving to post every day, and not just to get back on the wagon. With the routine settling in, I want to chart what I do every day for one week and see where I can be more productive, more efficient.

So here was my Monday. I worked late last night but was up this morning, and after the boys went to school, I drove Lori to the Enterprise so she could rent a car to take to Logan for the day. I came home and went back to sleep for a while, then woke up and ate lunch. I took the dog on a walk. I worked on a freelance project while sitting on the front porch (the weather has been gorgeous the last few days). The boys came home from school, and I worked a little more on the project. Lori came home, and we returned the car. I went to a soccer coaching clinic at Sunnyside Park. I got home, ate dinner, played War with Ben, listened to him read some of "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" to me, watched the Broncos-Falcons game, then took Popcorn on another short walk. I'm blogging now and going to bed soon.

See, that was somewhat productive. I do snack too much when I'm in the house, which I need to figure out. I'm co-oping all day tomorrow, so blogging about that should be straightforward.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Miserable vomitous mass

I didn't blog Saturday night simply because I was tired. Sunday I worked late. Monday was just bad.

After going to sleep Sunday night, I woke up about 3:30 a.m.with a song on my still-playing iPod in my dream. Within a couple minutes, my stomach started churning. Two nights earlier, Michael had thrown up in the middle of the night without even being awake to realize he was about to hurl. He was sick for about 24 hours and was fine afterward. I began to worry that maybe I was falling victim to the same bug.

I couldn't fall back asleep for long because I was so queasy. I couldn't lay on my stomach because it upset my stomach even more. Finally a couple hours later, I began to throw up. Then again an hour later. Then again another hour later. Then, about 9:30, the grand finale: All the remaining food that had been in my stomach from the last 18 hours had been expunged.

Michael was lucky -- he just threw up once and went back to sleep. Mine was prolonged for hours. Then, I was still so out of sorts that I couldn't fall back asleep. Finally, as my stomach settled (there was other intestinal distress, but you don't need even more specifics), I was able to rest (and even watched "Pretty in Pink"). Around 4, I tried a cracker. I managed an scrambled egg around 6. At 8:30, I knew I needed some more nutrition and managed to get down a piece of cheese on dry toast. I went to bed and slept 10 hours.

This morning, I felt fine. Tired, but with a little appetite, but otherwise fine. I co-oped at the boys' school and discovered whatever this bug was, it was going around school pretty rapidly. I ate a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and was still a little hungry after. I was ravenous for dinner. Yes, my brief illness was that quick. But damn, it was vicious while it lasted.

I'm on the porch tonight, and this must be the coolest evening I've been outside in weeks, maybe months. I'm wearing a sweatshirt but am enjoying the cool breeze on my feet. For now, I'm hoping Lori and Ben don't catch what Michael and I endured. Please, tell me Ralph has left the building.

Friday, September 7, 2012

No rest for the weary

There are weeks that seem unproductive. There are weeks that are nonstop.

Somehow, this past week felt like both.

I'm not sure if it was just the shortened week or all the extra things that got thrown in, but I'm glad we have hit the weekend. But that doesn't even provide a reprieve: I'm at work tonight, coach soccer tomorrow and work Sunday. I don't mind the soccer, of course, but what kind of bad luck gave us a doubleheader for Michael's team tomorrow?

I wanted the beginning of the school year to provide a fresh start to my routine, to the things I want to get done those hours the boys are learning. This week, that just didn't happen. An extra co-op shift, a vacation that got planned, two parent meetings, the first official soccer practices of the year -- it all added up. And then today, the I was home, but the day sped by while I felt stuck in slow motion. More soccer matters to take care of, another call to DirecTV to find out where our new DVR is (the old one died last week), and then work. The most productive thing I did all day was shave.

Will next week be different? I hope so. At least I managed to get out on the balcony at work to blog.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The last day of summer

I'm calling it. Summer is over.

The first game of the NFL season was tonight, which, in my book, officially kicks off fall. Summer 2012 is done.

Today was busy, and I never seemed to get a break. Haircut in the morning. A welcome lunch with Lori (the highlight of my day) at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant to commemorate our annual tradition of sushi to celebrate the school year starting again. A meeting at work. I picked up the boys. At home, I tried to rest, but the broken email account finally could be fixed. I then attempted a 10-minute nap only to be interrupted three minutes in by a phone call concerning soccer. We hosted a parent meeting for Michael's class. Then, I got a call asking if I could sub as a co-oper in Ben's class tomorrow.

See, that feels like fall, down to the fact that I was looking forward to relaxing tomorrow and get to something on my new list and now likely won't. Yep, summer is history.

Summer was great. I am glad I blogged it. I will do so again next summer. Let fall begin.


September is football. Sitting in the bleachers on a Friday night. Bright Saturday afternoons with marching bands. Watching NFL highlight shows for Week 1 and thinking that there are 16 more weeks of this. The feel of your fingers on the laces right before you try throwing a perfect spiral.

September is begrudging acceptance. Summer has ended. School has begun. Winter is coming. Might as well enjoy the present because this will be the most pleasant month over the next six. September is dreaded, but once it gets here, it's not so bad.

Things change is September, or at least get ready to. Schedules change. The daytime changes. Leaves begin to change. Wardrobes change. But September is also new. New friends. New routines. New TV shows. September is coming and going at the same time.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart," Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" and "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies are September.  So is "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. Duh.

September is light green. I can't explain why. Not plush green, not brown. It's the best of summer and fall all in 30 days.

This is September.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer, Day 106

The sun might be bright and the temperature warm, but after spending all day in school, then going to a parent meeting at school in the evening, today felt anything but summer. Maybe that's for the best. This has been a great summer. Time to move on.

I co-oped all day at the boys' school. I'm happy to report I wasn't tired or stressed -- the day was enjoyable. Michael's teacher seemed a little stressed -- her class wasn't listening to her (or the gym teacher for that matter). Michael was, thankfully (luckily). I think the start of the new school year, even though we are two weeks in, combined with the fact it still feels like summer has kids fidgety. They will settle in soon enough.

I got home to discover the soccer league that I coach both boys' teams managed to schedule both openers at almost the same time. I spent awhile trying to figure out how to avoid the conflict and alert all the parents of the new schedule, and afterward, I barely had time to relax before we had to go to the parent meeting.

I'm on the porch tonight, writing and participating in one more fantasy football draft online. Tomorrow is the summer finale according to the calculations I made in May (though somehow, I came up a day short; I repeated a day while on vacation). I'm contemplating what I'm going to do afterward. I've been happy writing each day -- insisting I write each day. Do I continue this through the fall (which, in my book, runs through Thanksgiving)? Or do I just make an effort to recap my daily activities as much as possible without being cemented to an absolute "I must journal my life" approach? The one thing I felt suffered through the summer was posts not related to my daily recaps. I don't know what the answer is yet. I guess I'll decide in two days.

The last day of summer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer, Day 105

Today was Labor Day. I labored.

Fortunately, my breathing wasn't labored. I'm barely feeling the cold that pummeled me Friday. With my new energy, I mowed the lawn, pruned our out-of-control wisteria, hung laundry, organized all the soccer equipment and took the dog for a two-mile walk. And, I'm planning to get to bed early enough tonight to wake up with energy for a long day tomorrow.

So I'm declaring, it was a good Labor Day. No, I didn't approach it as a last gasp of summer and tried to do summer activities one last time. Things needed to be done around the house, and with Lori and me feeling better, we did those things. I know I'm so focused on the 108 days of summer that I calculated (but for some reason, am coming in at 107; I think I miscalculated), but we still have September -- and I don't see the heat cooling off any time soon -- to do summer things. The JCC outdoor pool is still open all month. The leaves won't start changing colors for weeks. The only things that will be different are school during the week, soccer on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays. Yes, there will less time for those summer things in the next four weeks, but I'm not ready to pack my favorite time of year in just yet.

Almost done ...

Summer, days 102-104

The cold I had been fearing Thursday overwhelmed me Friday.

After a rough night in which I kept awakening with stuffiness and a sore throat, I slept late, woke up, went back to bed. I woke up, ate some breakfast, went back to bed. I woke up, at a little lunch, went back to bed. I woke up, then only had a short while before work. I was so wiped out. I made it through work, got home, and tried to get as much sleep as I could before having to wake up early the next morning for soccer practice.

My idea was to get an unofficial soccer practice in for both boys' teams before practice officially starts this week. I didn't know how sick I would be the day before. But I woke up Saturday morning and made fulfilled my commitment. I didn't know if it was just adrenaline or perhaps the worst of the cold had passed me by, but it wasn't so bad. My throat did start to hurt from coaching, and I didn't run much (and made sure not to shake any parents' hands), but I survived. The brunt of this cold was hitting Lori, so I bought lunch for all of us at Costa Vida and brought it home. The cold began moving into my throat, and Lori was worn out, so we stayed inside and watched NetFlix for most of the rest of the day. 

Lori and I had more energy Sunday, and we took the boys and one of Michael's friends to the pool, as we had planned before the colds struck. Neither of us put our heads under water much (nothing like a nose full of water with a cold ...), but the boys had so much fun and must have jumped off the diving board 30 times each. I wasn't too stuffy and was only coughing by this time, and wasn't so tired. I took Michael to a fantasy football draft I was participating in that evening, and I felt OK, though I was sitting next to a heavy smoker, and though he wasn't smoking near me, just the fumes off his clothing was irritating my cough. I drafted a good team, and when I got home, I wasn't coughing any more. I watched "The Hunger Games" again, this time with Lori, and went to bed.

And that brings us to this morning, Day 105 of summer, Labor Day. Just a little stuffy. No cough, though the cold seems to have settled in my lungs like colds usually do. I'll take some Mucinex for that and know that this cold, though quick-hitting and rough at times, was quick. When I am sick, I always think about how long it will last, or how long it has been since I felt normal. I thought that Friday, and here it is, Monday morning, and I'm better. The cold almost erased three days of summer -- among the last days I didn't want erased.Yet, I still managed to get outside and do a couple of the things I wanted to do. Time to enjoy the holiday.

Labor Day on tap.