Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring, days 39-42

Things settled down a little bit these past few days. Not much, but a little. Saturday was busy as expected: two soccer games, a baseball game, and Lori and I on a date to celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary when we met. We went to Middle Eastern restaurant for dinner, then got a couple beers and got home at a decent hour. I was exhausted and slept a long time Saturday night into Sunday.

Michael woke up Sunday morning and threw up, and Ben's baseball practice was canceled, so we took it kind of easy until I had to go to work. The day was warm, and even Popcorn didn't feel like running as much as she usually does.

Monday was also kind of mellow. Today was my all-day co-op at the boys' school, swim practice for them, then a baseball game for Michael. He went 2-for-2 with a walk and three RBIs to help his team to a 20-2 victory. I was proud of him -- he is such an aggressive hitter that I didn't think he'd draw a walk all year, but he was patient and finally got one. I bought him a Dorito Loco taco (cool ranch!) at Taco Bell after to celebrate.

The herniated disc has been killing my glutes and hamstrings lately. It wasn't so bad today, and doing the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist has helped, but it's been a struggle. I have a month before June to get this better and lose some more weight (which got derailed by this). Spring is springing by ...

Saturday, April 27, 2013


(After 11 of these monthly reflections, I finally have arrived to the last one, and just in the nick of time before May. It's been a good year.)

April is so confused. Gray, cold and rainy one day; blue, sunny and clear the next. But this schizophrenia isn't just the weather. Summer looms, but we can't stop thinking about the months previous. The year drags on, yet we can't stop thinking about the warmth that lies ahead.

But April has a clear payoff -- get through this month, and you're rewarded with the best days of the year. The blooming is coming. April demands patience.

April is baseball. And basketball. And hockey. And football (via the NFL Draft). And soccer. It's the one month we seem to get every sport. Playoffs are starting. The joyous slog through six months of baseball (less joyous for Cubs fans by August) begins with green grass and perfect spring days ... if it's not raining (or snowing).

 April is "Let's Hear It for The Boy" by Deniece Williams and "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. It's Cadbury Eggs and jellybeans. It's real grass and fake plastic grass. It's too many reruns before sweeps month, and barely any memorable movies before the summer blockbusters are released "Flashdance" is a big exception).

April is annoying and wonderful at the same time. It's a welcome transition that needs to be just endured. Almost there ...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring, days 36-38

The the past three days have gotten sunnier and warmer each today. The leaves are ready to burst on our linden and are already starting to pop on the maple. I took the hoses out, figuring we won't get another freeze.Although we are bound to get at least one more miserable stretch of cool, wet weather, I think we're past the worst of it.

These have been three busy days. Ben had two baseball games, Michael had a game tonight, soccer, swimming, and all the usual stuff we cram into every week. Michael's team won 11-5 tonight (4-0 this season!), and he went 1-for-2 with and RBI and a rite of passage for young baseball players: He got hit by a pitch for the first time. He started crying after the ball hit him in the right wrist, but only for a little bit before toughing it out and going to first base.Of course, we had to get frozen yogurt after the game.

I went in to the newspaper for a few hours this morning and was perfectly positioned to meet Lori for lunch. We went to Toasters and talked about school and work. I wish we did this more often while the boys in school -- once a week would be great. My busted disc sending pain down my left leg was killing me today but felt all right during Michael's game. I managed to get the dog out for two walks, but I still feel flabby after not being to exercise as much since getting hurt.

Saturday is supposed to be even warmer and sunnier. This is what I had been waiting for.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring, Day 35

I co-op at the boys' school all day on Tuesdays. Usually, I enjoy it, but today, I was in a foul mood. My foot was numb from the herniated disc, kids weren't listening to me when I was helping in Literacy, the substitute teacher's surly mood was affecting me, Ben got really mad at a classmate picking on him, and Michael was annoying me during Math. We had a sports workshop today that I helped with, and that was fun and lessened my mood a little.

We got home, and after venting to Lori about the rough day, I managed 10 minutes of nap before we were out the door again, to the boys' swim practice. (Oh, did I mention the dog chewed the handle off her doggie bed in her crate today?) I had to take Michael out early so he could get to his baseball game, but of course, we got stuck in traffic. I had done some exercises for my disc, and though they pulled the numbness out of my leg, they made my left glutes hurt bad. Needless to say, I was still cranky.

Fortunately, watching and helping coach Michael's baseball game pulled me out of the funk. My back and leg started feeling much better -- better than it has in days (I guess the exercises, though initially painful, are working). Michael went 1-for-2 with an RBI. He struck out on his second at-bat against the pitcher lobbing in these high pitches that were too irresistible for him to not swing at (a memorable paraphrased quote from "A League of Their Own" came to mind: "Can't hit them, can't lay off them). Two of his teammates who are better hitters struck out with the high cheese, before finally, another teammate connected, hit a grand slam, and made the score 18-6, which was the final.

I picked up Chipotle for dinner, ate it at home, took the dog for a walk, and got on the computer to continue the photo-scanning project. Hurray for days that improve as the hours pass.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring, Day 34

After working Sunday night, after a busy weekend, my Mondays are never that monumental. With the temperature dropping and the sun retreating for the beautiful Sunday, I didn't exactly have high hopes for this Monday.

I'm happy to report, I wasn't that lazy today. I didn't mow the lawn as I had hoped, but I did get the dog out for two walks. I made a mostaccioli bake for dinner. Michael and I walked to the baseball diamond near our house so he could practice pitching (he's getting better, but still needs practice). I scanned pictures and wrote. I rested after the tiring weekend

Having did something baseball-related with Michael, I offered to play a game of Strat-o-Matic baseball with Ben. (For those of you who have never heard of Strat-o-Matic, it's a dice-and-cards baseball game.) He's played before but mostly just rolled the dice. I was hoping he'd take an active interest in reading the results and understanding what happens when someone hits a double. I had 2009 cards and 1980 cards readily available, and he chose the older set. He wanted to play the Cubs, but after alerting him that the Cubs were really bad this season, he picked the Phillies.

My goal of Ben actively enjoying and understanding the game was realized. We had a lot of fun. Only one problem: We had about a half-hour to play before bedtime, which is enough time to get a game in (I wasn't keeping score beyond a linescore, so that saved some time), but of course, the game went to extra innings. In fact, it went to 19 innings. I've played Strat-o-Matic for 33 years, and I don't think I ever was in a game that went that long. Of course, the game spilled past Ben's bedtime. And I was trying to lose! I brought in bad pinch-hitters (if I even brought them in at all) and didn't bring in Bruce Sutter. Then, I couldn't win, either when I was trying just to end it. Finally, Barry Foote hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 19th and the Cubs won 5-3.

I'm getting to bed early tonight in anticipation of a busy Tuesday and a semi-busy Wednesday. I'm glad I was able to recharge on Monday.

Spring days 32-33

Almost all of Saturday was rainy. Almost all of Sunday was sunny. Thus is April.

Michael played his soccer game in not quite a torrential but definitely a steady rain. His team actually didn't play too badly despite the conditions. The precipitation stopped for Ben's game, but the other team barely had any players show, so we borrowed it a couple and had a game underneath the gray skies. Ben's baseball game was then mercifully postponed. Saturday actually felt relaxing as a result. We went to The Habit for dinner, then settled in and watched "Godspell" in the evening.

Yesterday was gorgeous. The boys had baseball practice, which is always nice on a sunny spring afternoon. I had to go in to work afterward, unfortunately.

Today is cloudy and cool again. I need to mow the lawn soon, but not today.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring, days 30-31

Wow, it's a month into spring already. Summer will be here soon.

This week has been sports, sports and more sports. Both boys had soccer practice yesterday and swim workout on Tuesday. Michael played two baseball games this week, Ben had one. Both boys have soccer games tomorrow and Ben has another baseball game in the afternoon.

I love all the sports -- I really do -- but I always find some relief when our three-sport spring ends in June and we just have swim team (although both boys are asking to do camps, hoops for Michael and soccer for Ben). Maybe my herniated disc and Lori's absolutely exhausting couple weeks at work have us thinking about June a little sooner than we should.

Oh, Michael's baseball team won 9-6 tonight. He went 1-for-2 but was a little bummed about striking out. This from a kid who struck out maybe three times all last season in machine pitch. He still is getting used to the fact that he doesn't have to swing at every pitch. I'd say he's figuring it out if he's 3-for-4 in two games. And I'd rather see him go down swinging than letting strike three whiz by him (which happened to about four of his teammates tonight).

We got frozen yogurt after the game. Yes, spring is an awesome time for sports!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring, days 16-29

I have two good reasons why I haven't blogged in two weeks. Actually, I just thought of a third.

First, I've been getting a lot of contract work. Steady writing and editing, a couple hours every night I'm not otherwise at the newspaper. The work has been great, and we definitely can use the money, but I'm finding myself not in the mood to write for myself afterward. The freelancing isn't going away anytime soon, so I need to figure out my schedule -- not convoluted with baseball and soccer -- to blog more often.

Second, I am suffering from a herniated disc in my lower back. That diagnosis was confirmed today at the physical therapist. I've had lower back pain/tightness before, but never has it shot down into my hip, glutes and hamstring. The pain at times has been unreal, particularly if I'm just rolling over or sitting up. I've been exercising less as a result and feel like the weight loss I achieved this year is evaporating. At least I have a diagnosis after today and a plan to stay focused on getting better, eating healthier and working out (as much as I can) over the next six weeks.

Third, the weather has simply sucked in SLC the past two weeks. Not as bad as in some parts of the country, but not very springlike, either. A long time ago, one of my bosses said how he thought March in Utah is actually nicer than April. He was right. Ben had a baseball game last night and it must not have been warmer than 40 degrees.

So, spring has been interrupted these past two weeks. That's OK. It will get better.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring, Day 15

Today was technically spring, but it felt so much more like summer.

We are still in St. George, and as predicted, we spent much of the day by the pool. Some good friends also visiting St. George came over in the morning, and the four boys swam for a couple hours. After lunch and a trip to Kohl's, we returned to the hotel, and though I was kind of pushing to go for a hike, we ended up back by the pool for a couple more hours. The skies were clear and sunny, the temperature was near 80, and my deck chair was aimed squarely at the sun. The boys had a blast all day, and I was happy the pool wasn't cold.

For lunch, we went to a Thai restaurant we discovered a couple years ago. St. George, unfortunately, is loaded with chain restaurants, and Lori and I wanted to go someplace different. The boys initially complained a little but otherwise settled in to the choice. I was proud of them today. Michael discovered he likes sushi -- avocado rolls, specifically. Ben tried sushi (a veggie roll) and ate his rice noodles eagerly. Both tried the tofu veggie soup and ate a little. Both used chopsticks as best as they could and ate edamame. I felt very fortunate that we have kids who may drive us crazy sometimes but aren't completely against trying new things. I know some families that would never attempt Thai with their kids. Lori and I are lucky that we don't have to fret about that.

For dinner, we found an Mexican restaurant that was just OK. It wasn't disappointing, but it wasn't mind-blowing either. We drove in through the warm evening, listening to satellite radio in the rental car and singing along to Edgar Winter's "Free Ride," to get frozen yogurt. We drive back tomorrow. It's been a good little trip.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring, days 9-14

Maybe my heart isn't into the spring blogging. These five days have been busy. Soccer practice. Baseball practice. Work. Easter. Vacation. But at least it hasn't snowed.

We are in St. George right now on a short vacation during the boys' spring break. We arrived yesterday, swam in the hotel pool last night, went mini-golfing and go-karting today, swam some more and ate at Olive Garden for dinner. I've managed two long walks after the family has gone to sleep, but it hasn't been easy: My hip has been killing me, and my left leg is unusually sore, probably from overcompensating. I don't even know what I did.

The weather has been spring-like, at least. Easter was gorgeous. Another fun day looms ahead. I'm sure we'll go swimming.