Showing posts from July, 2013

Summer 2013, days 69-70

Tuesday was Lori's birthday, and I must admit, I kind of half-assed it. As a family, we are usually not all in Salt Lake City on July 30, and I think that threw me off on what to do for her special day. We did buy her a present and made her cards, and we went to Blue Plate Diner for dinner, then came home and ate cake and played a couple board games. The rest of the day included some freelance work for me, taking the car into the mechanic for it's safety/emission inspection, and a lot of Wii playing for Ben.

Today, the boys were clearly restless. Their neighborhood friends weren't home, so I arranged with another mom for two of their friends -- boys the same ages and Michael and Ben -- to come over for a couple hours. This helped them not go so stir crazy, especially on a hot day. We got the windshield in our Outback fixed, I made pasta for dinner, and I took the dog for a hike before sunset. I'm on the porch currently, ready to do some more work after I finish typing …

Summer 2013, Day 68

The post-vacation recovery continued today. I managed to get the suitcases unpacked and grill burgers for dinner, but I was tired all day. The boys had swim practice and were generally tired all day too, and none of their friends was home. So they kind of vegged out today as well -- the sometimes gray skies didn't help. We played Ticket to Ride and Word on the Street after dinner, which was fun, and I took Popcorn for a walk. I'm setting up playdates for them this week, chalking today up as a tired Monday.

Summer 2013, Day 67

Today was the typical first day back from vacation. The unopened suitcases taunted us to empty them and remind us that vacation ended (I managed to unload one). The house didn't have much food, so Lori went grocery shopping. The post-vacation fatigue set in, even after getting a good nine hours sleep on my own mattress.

I did work some today, getting two freelance writing assignments completed. The boys played with the friends they hadn't seen in almost two weeks. A late storm has delayed my walk with Popcorn; I'm hoping to get her outside after I finish up this post, then get to bed relatively early again.

Twenty-three days before the boys begin school, about five weeks of my summer left. Let the Utah fun resume!

Summer 2013, Day 66; Vacation, Day 12

Vacation ended today. Where it went, I don't know.

The longest trip we've taken back to the Midwest is 14 days, so this wasn't much shorter. This one just flew by more so than any other. Zoom. That said, it's good to be home.

We weren't flying out until the late afternoon, so the hope was we could do something before then. My dad wanted to take the boys and his dog to the lake again, but a steady rain dampened that plan. So after I returned the rental car and walked home, we just hung out at my dad's house for the rest of the day, packing, eating Taco Burrito King for lunch, and watching Ben win another game of Ticket to Ride against his relatives. Lori and I sat on the covered porch and watched the Chicago rain one last time before leaving the Midwest.

Our flight home was smooth, and the cat and dog were happy to see us. I picked up and cooked Papa Murphy's pizzas for dinner. We were all tired -- I was asleep by 10:30 p.m. MDT.

Until the next vacation ...

Summer 2013, Day 65; Vacation, Day 11

If my posts from this vacation seem unusually short and nondescript, it's because I haven't written one on the actual day. I haven't had the will to write much this trip, so tonight, I finally caught up with some basic details of each day. Tonight, I can at last write about the past day.

First, I should write something about this vacation. It's been fun but tiring and stressful. I got hit with so much freelance work that dominated my thinking and what should have been leisure time that I feel like I barely had time to enjoy the trip. As a freelancer, I know I'm bound to do a little work on my trip, but I wasn't really prepared for the volume of work that I got. Two new blogs that I'm ghost-writing started up, and I was given back a white paper to make a few revisions. One of the new blogs and the white paper were challenging and took a lot of time. Add two posts for a previous blog I had been doing, and by the end of the night, I wasn't in the mood to w…

Summer 2013, Day 64; Vacation, Day 10

We returned to Chicago today. Lori and her sister hung out in the morning, while I worked and got us ready for the trip home. We left mid-afternoon, stopped in Madison for dinner, and made it back to Chicago by 9 p.m. The boys were excited to be back, and we played one game of Ticket to Ride and let them stay up late to finish.

Summer 2013, Day 63; Vacation, Day 9

Today was much lower key than yesterday. We took the boys to a aquatic center/pool in Weston. They had fun, but the water was cold and the temperature wasn't exactly that warm, so I wasn't in the water much and only went on one water slide (plus, I wasn't in the greatest mood). We went to dinner in Merrill, and Ben and I looked for bats outside at dusk. I went for a long walk after everyone went to bed.

Summer 2013, Day 62; Vacation, Day 8

We jaunted into the north woods today, going to Three Lakes to meet up with Lori's parents and go to lunch. The boys, my niece Stevie, my father-in-law and me went to a beach on Maple Lake in town, but the weather had turned overnight and it was too cool to go in the water. Michael and Ben nevertheless played in the sand, and then in the adjoining park.

Lori and her mom were doing some research at the Three Lakes library, and we met them there for an hour. Ben, my father-in-law and I played the library's copy of Wits and Wagers Family, which was fun. From the library, we went to another park in town, then to my in-laws' neighbor, who is in her 90s and was thrilled to be able to see the boys and be able to entertain (making coffee for the other grownups and pouring milk for the kids). Ben and I explored outside for a little while and tried catching grasshoppers.

Eventually, we drove back to Merrill for dinner (spaghetti and garlic bread) and taught Ticket to Ride to my sist…

Summer 2013, Day 61; Vacation, Day 7

Today, the boys and I joined Lori in Wisconsin. My father took Michael, Ben and Moose to the dog beach on Lake Michigan while I got us ready for our drive north. We got on the road a little later than I had hoped but reached a park in Wauwatosa where I met my friend Lisa and her kids (the same ages as mine) for a couple hours.

Afterward, we picked up Lori from her hotel in downtown Milwaukee and drove to Kopp's for dinner. The double cheeseburger, onion rings and Blue Moon Oreo custard were delicious. It took about three hours afterward to get to Lori's sister in Merrill. We were treated to some gorgeous partly cloudy skies intertwined with the sunset as we headed north and west.

Summer 2013, Day 60; Vacation, Day 6

We took Lori to the Glenview train station early this morning. Her company's annual meeting begins in Milwaukee, and she took the Amtrak north -- we will meet her tomorrow on our way to northern Wisconsin. Michael was sad after she left, so I took both boys to Walmart to get them White Sox t-shirts. I had promised to buy  Ben one after he had to give his jersey back after baseball season. After returning home, I found White Sox tickets on StubHub, and our afternoon was set.

The Cubs are not in town all trip, so I thought it would be fun to see the other Chicago team, my allegiance to the North Siders be damned. I wanted to spend more time at U.S. Cellular Field than we did, but we hit a lot of traffic on the way to the stadium. When we finally made it into the ballpark, I bought Michael and me new hats, and we sat down in some pretty decent seats I got far under face value for the game.

The White Sox defeated the Braves 3-1 in a game that went way too fast. After the third inning,…

Summer 2013, Day 59; Vacation, Day 5

Lori and Susy went for a massage this morning, so I took the boys to see "Despicable Me 2." It wasn't as good as the first one but still cute, and the boys liked it. After lunch, we went to suburban Kenosha for a party with my high school friends. We haven't all gathered together with the families in a few years, and we caught up and let all the kids hang out for several hours.

Summer 2013, Day 58; Vacation, Day 4

Today was sort of a split -- the boys with my dad and Susy, Lori and I on our own. They went to see "Shrek, the Musical" at Navy Pier, and we went for lunch at Smoque and did a little shopping at the HIP (Harlem-Irving Plaza for you non-Chicagoans). Today was quite hot, so being inside the cool mall wasn't so bad, even on vacation.

In the evening, we went to my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Howard's house for dinner. There, I was reunited with the Matchbox cars I had given to my cousins almost 30 years ago. I found ones I had fondly remembered, including Pink Jeep, Orange Station Wagon, Car Carrier Truck and Safari Pickup. I'm taking them home to Salt Lake and plan on displaying them in the man-cave.

A big thunderstorm passed through as we were driving home, cooling everything off. It's good to get one of these Midwestern storms every vacation just so I remember what they are like. It was a nice finish to a good day.

Summer 2013, Day 57; Vacation, Day 3

Lori arrived in Chicago today, and I picked her up from the airport while the boys spent time with my dad. After our busy day yesterday, we didn't quite pack as much into today. We took the boys to the YMCA to get them some semblance of a swim workout, and they did do some laps, but mostly, they splashed around in the non-lap pool and shot baskets. I did swim with them for a little while on this very hot day, then we left for lunch, going to Superdawg, my absolute favorite hot dog place. We ate in the car with carhops bringing our food out. I got Lori in the afternoon, and we ate Thai food for dinner.

Summer 2013, Day 56; Vacation, Day 2

Today was a pure Chicago day on vacation. It was great.

After sleeping sort of late this morning (we needed it), I got the rental car, then the boys and I took the L downtown. This was the first time for Ben on the subway and Michael doesn't remember his first time, so they were intrigued by the experience -- the train starts off in the middle of the expressway, goes underground, then becomes an elevated, and finally finishes as a subway downtown. On the L, I told the boys to look for water towers atop buildings and explained that the city used to be filled with such structures. We mostly saw the iron supports for the towers (now topped with cell phone antennae) but did find a couple in Bucktown.

We walked a few parks to Millennium Park and first ate the lunch we brought. The boys splashed in the Crown Fountain for at least a half an hour and were sufficiently cooled off in the humid Chicago summer day. We headed over to the Bean and took a lot of pictures there, then began the wal…

Summer 2013, Day 55; Vacation, Day 1

Vacation is underway. Hurray!

Our day began at 4 a.m., when we woke up to get to the airport and checked in for our 6 a.m. flight. We didn't fly direct to Chicago, instead going through Minneapolis.The boys did well on the flight, and we ate breakfast in the airport between flights (nothing was open so early in SLC) at Friday's. The second flight went just as smoothly, and we flew over the lake and turned around to get into O'Hare (a route I always love so I can look out of my former home city). My father picked the boys and me up from the airport.

The rest of the day was mostly recovery from the early-morning departure. I wanted to nap for a few minutes and ended up conked out for a couple hours. Michael and I went to Target and picked up a pizza at Costco. The boys enjoyed spending time with my family, and we went for yogurt after dinner. The boys finally got to sleep, but I had to do a little work (I have a lot of freelance work to do this vacation). I'm glad we got…

Summer 2013, days 53-54

Vacation begins tomorrow, and the last two days have been a nonstop push to get ready for it.

My sister Jenny and her family arrived in Salt Lake City today. My brother-in-law is a musician who plays under the name Possessed by Paul James, and they are in the midst of their summer road trip.They drove in from Colorado and head to Idaho on Wednesday. The boys and I got to spend a few hours with them today, and Ben and his cousin Jonah (Ben is only two years older) loved hanging out together. They brought their dog, and Popcorn loved to meet her, though Lady might have been overwhelmed by Popcorn's enthusiasm.

The boys had a swim meet tonight on top of all this, and they did well. Ben turned in two personal bests (though he might have been DQ'd in the butterfly after doing three different kicks) and Michael got a PR in his backstroke. The end of the meet was canceled after lightning was spotted (it's storming right now outside), denying Michael one last race on the day.


Summer 2013, Day 52

I'm somewhat tired tonight, so I'm not going to write too long. I tried getting the house ready for my sister's visit and vacation today, and yet didn't seem to get as far along as I would have liked. Ben had a birthday party in the late afternoon, and after we dropped him off, we took Michael to a picnic for his upcoming school class. He got to hang out with a couple friends, and I got the dog some exercise at the off-leash area of Lindsey Gardens. We watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" when we got home, and I watched a "Saturday Night Live" episode for the first time in a while. It's rainy and windy outside tonight, so I skipped any writing on the porch tonight. Almost time for bed.

Summer 2013, Day 51

Vacation is coming, and we're already in transition mode.

Today, we cleaned the house a little, did some laundry, bought some snacks for the plane, got haircuts, and made other plans for our trip next week. The boys swam this morning, we went to Taco Bell's, Kohl's and the grocery store in the afternoon, I made easy gyros for dinner, we played Ticket to Ride after dinner, and I took Popcorn for a walk and got some freelance work done late tonight.

The day wasn't overwhelmingly fun, but it was productive. A few more of these before vacation. The trip will do us good.

Summer 2013, days 47-50

OK, this time, I have a good excuse for not blogging.

I just finished up a huge freelance project that had me a little stressed this week. Any free time I had to write was writing about healthcare background checks, not summer. Summer continued, just not any blogging.

The boys swam a meet Wednesday, with Ben breaking his freestyle best by a whopping five seconds.We went to the waterpark Tuesday morning. Michael had a playdate Monday with one of his best school friends who he hadn't seen in the month, and the friend's grandma, who watches him during the summer, called me the next day thanking me because her grandson had the most fun he'd had all summer.

And yes, I worked. With the project done, I can focus on vacation, just a few days away.

Summer 2013, days 43-46

Eek, I have not been a consistent blogger. Here's the big catch-up:

Thursday, July 4 -- The house blessedly cooled off the previous night. OK, not the whole house, but at least our bedroom, in which we had a fan in a window blowing cool air in. A surprise thunderstorm with a bizarre amount of lightning (I thought it was fireworks being blown off -- odd for 2:30 a.m.) rolled through and put an end to the heat. We were in a good mood the next morning for the holiday.

We went to the annual neighborhood parade, and the boys had fun hanging out with their friends. The rain held off the whole day, and we went to the pool later in the afternoon. The pool was surprisingly not that crowded, and we were able to find a shady spot. I grilled sliders, bratwurst, skewered veggies and pineapple for dinner. We walked down to Sugar House Park to see the fireworks, which seemed even shorter this year (only about 20 minutes; I swear in past years, it's been 40). We lit a few sparklers when we go…

Summer 2013, days 39-42

Hot. So hot.

The air condition conked out Saturday night, and since then, it's only been working sporadically. The AC tech came this morning, and it looked like there was a reason the central air unit was spinning: the condensate pump was so mucky that the stop switch was being activated. For a few hours, the house was cooling again, but we had a warning that the pump might be failing altogether. By the afternoon, it seemingly had failed altogether. I tried everything to get it going again, with no luck. We're just  waiting for the AC guys to come back and replace the pump, which might happen in the next two days, but we're in for a couple more warm nights.

Sunday night, I slept on the couch in front of a fan, with the back door open to get some cool air into the house, but there was none. Monday, I slept downstairs, which wasn't so bad. Tuesday night, with the air not working at all the whole day, the house was a sauna -- we all slept downstairs. Tonight, after the fe…