Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer 2013, days 5-7

Got a little behind, catching up now:

Day 5, Memorial Day

Our somewhat uneventful weekend (at least after the busy Friday) continued on a gorgeous Memorial Day. The boys, Popcorn and I went for a hike up Rattlesnake Gulch in Milcreek Canyon. Ben had a gift card for Toys 'r' Us he wanted to use, so we went there. I grilled burgers for dinner and drank a generic cream soda, because generic cream soda in a can always reminds me of summer.

Day 6, Tuesday

The first, second and third grades at the boys' school had a field trip to a rec center, where we'd play games outside and then swim inside as part of their sports curriculum, and as a Tuesday co-oper, I got to help. The weather didn't cooperate, so we got to swim inside the whole time (a couple hours). Everyone had fun. I was one of the few co-opers that actually swam with the kids, and by the afternoon, I felt exhausted. Rain came down in buckets the rest of the day, canceling Michael's baseball game. I made pork fried rice for dinner.

Day 7, Wednesday

Today seemed so discombobulated. I was tired and couldn't get focused on the freelance work I wanted to get done. It rained more today, and Ben's baseball game was subsequently postponed. I made pasta for dinner. Oh, I also saw three deer in our neighborhood this morning while returning from taking the boys to school.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Back to the days of Pooh

"I swear that old bear whispered 'boy, welcome home!' "

That lyric is from Kenny Loggins' "Return to Pooh Corner." My teddy bear growing up was a stuffed Winnie the Pooh without a shirt that I called Herman (I have no idea why).

Before Michael was born, I bought a small stuffed Winnie the Pooh that made a squeaking sound when you shook it. One day in the bedroom we had prepared for our soon-to-be arriving son, I held that bear in my hand and was overcome by the impending changes that were in store for me. I had a Winnie the Pooh growing up. Now, my child was about to have one, too.

"It's hard to explain how a few precious things seem to follow throughout all our lives ..."

Last week, I got so angry with Michael. I co-op all day at the boys' school on Tuesdays. Even though I try to get to bed early Monday night, something usually gets in the way, often a freelance project. I love co-oping, but it is draining when you are already tired. Tuesdays are the craziest because the boys have had something after school -- swimming, baseball or basketball. I drive the boys home and try to get a 15-minute nap just to recharge for the rest of the day. But lately, Michael has been plaguing me with inane questions when he knows I just want to rest. "Can I have some [insert healthy food here]?" "Dad, there's no string cheese left?" "Can I watch a video on the Nook?" I just want to sleep, and he's waking me up by asking me questions he knows the answers too. And last week, I finally got so angry with him when he disturbed me again, that I started yelling back about him being selfish.

Apparently, this tirade cut deep, because he retreated to his room crying. I was too irritated to rest, and when I realized he was in his room, I went to talk to him. And hugged him. And said I was sorry for yelling, and explained why I got so mad.

As we were wrapping up our discussion, I saw it -- the small Winnie the Pooh. I haven't seen it in years, but somehow, through the chaos of the boys room, it bubbled to the surface (missing its shirt -- another naked Pooh). I picked it, shook it a little to hear the squeak, and remembered holding it almost 10 years earlier. I was almost overcome again. I felt bad I got so mad at Michael. My time with him and his brother is too short to be getting so angry over little things and not to appreciate how lucky I am to have them in my lives.

I can be a parent, praise them, tell them what their doing wrong, and not be so quick to let them piss me off. They will be out of the house one day. It's coming, and I can't stop that. I don't want to waste any time between now and then. And getting so annoyed is wasting our time and energy together. I want to remember this lesson with summer upon us. The days are too precious.

"Believe me if you can I´ve finally come
Back to the House at Pooh Corner by one
What do you know there´s so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky ..."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer 2013, Day 4

The beautiful Memorial Day weekend continued, and we were content not to overdo it after so many hectic weeks this spring.

I did take Popcorn on another hike, this time with Michael. Lori and the boys installed some tomato and herb plants in the garden. I'm at work right now, wishing this night would end and I can get on with the last day of the weekend. The sun shone all day.

Would I classify today a recovery day? I didn't think we wasted it; after all, I did have to work tonight. So yes, it was a mild recovery day. We enjoyed the weather and the calm. The weather should last, the calm won't.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summer 2013, Day 3

At the beginning of the year, a goal for 2013 was to be down to 200 pounds by Memorial Day. I was well on my way before I herniated a disk -- the injury sidetracked all the exercise I had been doing that had helped reduce the weight.

Well, I'm not going to make 200 by Monday. But I was happy to see 211 this morning when I stepped on the scale. That's two pounds less before I got injured and gained a few back, and 18 for the year. I still think 200 is doable this summer, and I think I look better (I was wearing a pair of swim trunks yesterday while tying water balloons for Ben's party, and they were actually a little loose). But I'm happy for this minor victory -- I got through the discouragement of the injury and am healthier for summer.

And I'm back exercising, though not running. I did take Popcorn for a 2-mile hike on her favorite off-leash trail. The rest of Saturday, with no sports or other commitments whatsoever, was nice, too. We went to the library and Trader Joe's this morning. I bought a new pair of sandals at REI. After dinner, we played Ticket to Ride on the patio.

Memorial Day weekends in past years have partially or completely sucked, merely because of one last jolt of cold, rainy spring. This year's is turning out to be perfect. And it's only halfway done.

Summer 2013, Day 2

I'm writing this a day late, but Day 2 was so great that it needed its own text rather than me combining it with today. Friday, we threw Ben his birthday party. The Salt Lake City School District didn't have classes yesterday, so the afternoon seemed the perfect time for the party that we didn't start planning until just a couple weeks ago.

Ben is really loving dolphins right now, so the theme was marine. Lori found some ocean decorations for the patio and made dolphin cupcakes, and his friends came ready for water play. We had a couple games planned, but the party soon descended into an endless water fight. I was worried the day wouldn't be warm enough, but it got into the high 70s with little wind and plenty of sunshine, so the kids didn't mind getting soaked or standing in the 20-inch kiddie pool that never seemed to warm up. Ben loved his presents, and his friends loved the party.

Later in the afternoon, we went to a park for a baby shower for a mom of one of the kids at Ben's party. The shower was family-friendly, so the kids (many who were at Ben's party) and dads were welcome, even though we really didn't stick around for the mom/shower stuff. This park hosts baseball games with teams the boys play against, so we watched some makeup games, and Michael and I even played catch -- he's desperately trying to learn to pitch but is struggling getting the ball over the plate.

And that was Day 2. I took Popcorn for a walk when I got home on a pleasant night. This felt like summer. I'm happy it's here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer 2013, Day 1

Yes, here it is, my first post of the summer. I'm happy to say, I was outside almost all day.

Our car was in the shop, and I took public transportation to get it (Salt Lake City's buses are so clean) followed by about a mile walk. When I got home, I got the backyard and patio ready for Ben's birthday party tomorrow and mowed the lawn. This took awhile simply because the patio gets overrun with stuff during the winter. Later on, I coached the boys' soccer practices. The wind picked up a little and it cooled off a bit, but the day was still nice. My outdoor adventures ended with a 1.5-mile walk with the dog.

I'm hoping the temperature gets a smidge warmer for Ben's water-themed birthday party tomorrow. Day 1 of my summer was good. Day 2 should be even better.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring, the finale

I'm calling it. Spring is over.

The weather is still springlike, with rain over the weekends but sun the last couple days. Baseball is still in full swing, with Michael's team winning again (the Cardinals are 9-1) and Ben's losing twice (the White Sox haven't won yet, but Ben made another nice pickup of a grounder tonight). School is winding down, and Memorial Day weekend looms.

And so, I'm declaring that after 64 days of non-astronomical Northern Hemisphere spring, summer has begun. I'm definitely blogging summer again, and hopefully will be more proficient than I was with the spring blogging effort. Between now and the first NFL game Sept. 5, 105 days of summer await. My goal for those 105 days is to not waste a minute of what could be the best summer ever.

Hey, spring was good. Insanely busy (today, for example, we unexpectedly had to get the Outback) into the shop to replace the starter, but good. The weather was agreeable, the boys had fun, and winter became a distant memory. But it's over. Let the summer begin.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spring, days 55-56

I'm back out on the front porch with my laptop for the first times this year.

It's good to be back.

After mowing the back lawn yesterday, I actually lounged in the sun on the lawn chair I bought last fall. The sun was warm (the temperature got to 91 degrees yesterday) and felt good, though I needed sunglasses (I b bought a new pair today). The boys were fortunate that it was so warm for their first outdoor swim practice.

The warmth continued today. Michael's baseball team won 9-8 in what seemed to be the slowest game ever (we only played 3 1/2 innings). I went to a physical medicine specialist for my herniated disk. He confirmed the diagnosis and gave me some guidance over the next two months (it's been feeling so much better the past three days -- I'm not sure what I did, but I'm not complaining). Embiggened by this news, I took the dog for a longer walk than I had the past month.

I'm looking forward to another wonderful day tomorrow and some more work in the yard. Summer is almost here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring, days 50-54

The temperature has climbed into the 80s in Salt Lake City and might hit 90 tomorrow. With that, I'm thinking of winding this spring blogging thing down.

Last year, I declared summer, in blogging terms, to begin about the third week of may, before Memorial Day. I might do the same this year. Honestly, the spring blogging has been sort of a bust, at least from my point of view. I was happy with some of the posts, but I've been so busy that I haven't made writing a priority. At least with summer blogging, I know I won't blow it off.

The past five days have been busy but fun. Michael's team won his baseball game Friday; Ben's team lost on Wednesday and Saturday. Today was Mother's Day, and the boys took Lori to The Leonardo museum and had a lot of fun. I'm at work on the balcony right now watching the sun set over Antelope Island.

My sciatic leg was killing me yesterday -- the worst it's felt after a week in which it was generally not bugging me much. Today, it has felt mostly good. I'm annoyed with this injury more than I can express, but I'm seeing a physical medicine specialist Tuesday and hope to get a path toward healing. I'm ready for some improvement. I want to mow the lawn, get the yard in shape, clean the patio, resume hiking with the dog, start running again, and generally be ready for summer.

My immediate goal is to lose about 5 more pounds by the end of the month. I'm happy to report I am back down to the weight I was before the herniated disc got so bad (and that was 16 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the year). I really had hoped to be down to 200 by Memorial day, but I'll settle for around 210 considering how painful the last two months have been.

Injury aside, spring has been great, even if the blogging hasn't. Summer beckons ...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring, Day 49

My sons are clearly not Midwesterners.

Thunderstorms rolled into the Salt Lake Valley late this afternoon, raining out Michael's baseball game. It wasn't certain the game would be called (the storms moved in right as we were getting ready to go), so we still had to go to the park The rain, which had subsided a little as we were leaving, turned up a notch on the way, and the puddles on the field and the occasional lightning confirmed the postponement.

What was funny was the boys' reaction to the first thunderstorms of the year. Michael asked a lot of questions, and Ben was a little freaked out by all the thunder -- he was even nervous as he went to bed, even though the storms had passed. Had they been Midwesterners instead of Utahns, they would be more used to thunderstorms. They would know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning (I don't think there's been one tornado watch in the 13 years we've lived here). They would mildly appreciate the surreal gray and what it feels like outdoors (even if it's not raining yet) under the storm.

So I confirmed for the boys we were safe from lightning in the car. I didn't tell them about the time lightning hit our apartment building in Madison and fried the modem on our computer. I didn't tell them the story when I was at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 1991 when a powerful thunderstorm passed through and my friends and I were stuck under a giant tent that I was sure would collapse underneath the wind. I didn't tell them that when I was maybe 11, I was in the car with my mom and sisters, and she had to pull over on Harlem Avenue in Niles because it was raining. I didn't even tell them that just last summer, we were at my dad's house when a huge storm rolled through, and they survived (I loved it by the way; I miss non-tornadic storms such as that).

Lori told Ben that if it started thundering tonight, he could come to our room to feel safe. The forecast for tomorrow -- more isolated thunderstorms. The boys might get used to spring in the Midwest yet.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring days 45-48

The one thing that drives me a little crazy about May is that you get to it, and suddenly, it's Mother's Day and I'm woefully unprepared. Otherwise, I'm happy that this month is in full swing. Though the multiple sports seasons are wearing on us, I'm in no hurry for May to go by quickly.

The lawn is taunting me. Between my herniated disc and just enough unfavorable weather, I haven't attended to it as much as I had hoped. My goal is new grass to grow where there are weeds now. Likely, sometime in the future, we'll tear up the sad lawn and replace it with new sod. But when we do that, we might as well add sprinklers. But to do that, we need to replace the main line to the house. So for now, it's me and some EZ-Seed, and my fingers crossed.

The days are getting longer -- sunset tonight was 8:30 p.m. Still a little cool to sit outside with the laptop and type. Soon though. Very soon.

The weekend was filled with baseball and soccer again. We're actually halfway through both seasons, but swim practice starts up again next week. Another dad was telling me how his son is loving lacrosse. I think Michael would love it too, but I don't know how we can fit another sport into our year. Ben, with his endless energy, might be perfect for track, but again, not this year.

This was a very random post for a very random Monday. Until tomorrow ...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring days 43-44

Michael must have spent a lot of time in the sun today while at school. I noticed as he was walking into his swim workout that the back of his neck looked just a smidge sunburned. Yesterday was cloudy, so it didn't happen then. Lori thought maybe I didn't get sunblock on him for soccer practice, but that was after swim. He was outside at school -- his teacher will let his class have longer recesses on nice days -- and got some color on his fair skin.

Yes, that first tan/color/burn is proof spring has truly arrived. Break out the sunscreen.

Ben got his first hit of the season yesterday at his baseball game. The team is still struggling in the field. And it's not like we haven't been teaching them how to field -- it just doesn't seem to stick. Or it's just bad luck. A ball drops in front of the shortstop, and all he has to do is pick it up and touch second for the force out ... but he somehow can't pick the ball up. A ball gets hit to the second basemen, who immediately runs toward second base instead of fielding the ball coming right at him. A ball is his to the left side of the infield, and the first basemen runs all the way across to try to get to it. A ball is hit to right field and the right fielder doesn't run after it. These are great kids who are having fun and hitting the ball well. They are so young, though (a lot of first-graders and kids who've never played baseball until this year) that we're not winning games.

Ben knows what to do with the ball when he fields it (he had two force outs at third in one inning last week) but has been having a tough time again at bat. The first practice against the machine (this is a machine pitch league), he hit the ball four times in a row, leading us to think he figured out the batting challenge that he struggled with last year. Then he got his hands too far in front of the plate and got hit on the finger with the pitch. Since then, his confidence, and his swing, hasn't been the same. He was so excited to get the hit yesterday that he celebrated at every base.

Today was sunny, but I was mostly inside, finishing up the second season of "Game of Thrones" that had to be back at the library today and finishing a freelance assignment. But the soccer practices went well. It's good to be in May.