Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 8

Today was the last soccer games for the boys, on a really nice summer day. Ben's team played great against a really good team that crushed us in the fall -- the final score today was 2-1, and I thought we were going to tie the game late. Michael's team didn't play so well. The Goblins bunched up, were standing around and weren't very aggressively, and didn't kick the ball well. We scored the first goal and were close in the first half, but then it all fell apart in the second half. Still, I was a little sad to see their season come to an end knowing I won't be coaching that group next year.

This was our last crazy Saturday, with Ben's baseball game and Michael at a basketball clinic at the same time. We were exhausted by the time we got home in the afternoon. Our street threw its annual block party, and we had a nice time chatting with neighbors while all the kids played. This was a nice way to finish May.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 7

Baseball season is winding down for both boys. I love baseball season, but more than any other year, it seemed to really get in the way. Both boys had so much else going on that it was a hassle sometimes, neither was overly excited about this season (especially Michael after he started playing comp basketball; he's been so whiny all season), and though I like coaching, I felt worn down after coaching two soccer teams, two basketball teams (and assisting a third) and helping with these two baseball teams. We've encountered a couple teams with overbearing jerks for coaches, and that hasn't helped my optimism either.

Michael's Giants are in the playoffs, and during our game tonight, we got treated to a double rainbow after a half-hour rain delay. The Giants won on a walk-off home run and now are in the tournament semifinals. Ben's team really doesn't play a tournament rather than a few extra games, and he's playing again tomorrow. Baseball here ends earlier than in the Midwest (we went through July), and that doesn't help the overall stress of multiple sports at once. I wish it would start later and run later, but I think that's my own childhood -- and the memories of summer baseball -- stepping up to the plate. Last year when Michael played All-Stars (not happening this year with so much basketball on tap in June), we had games with the temperature above 100 degrees. I can't remember a game that scorching when I was a kid, though I'm sure we had a few hot ones.

As for the rest of the day, I chaperoned Ben's field trip to an indoor swimming pool. He had fun, but the pool was a zoo; the teachers didn't want kids in the big pool (as opposed to the splash/waterslide pool), and without a few of them siphoned off, the smaller pool was too crowded. Ben and I did sneak a lap in on the big pool, and he's officially a faster swimmer than I am. He's going to have a great summer on swim team.

We picked up Barbacoa for dinner, and I got the dog out for a walk. The evening is cool after the rain went through. It will get hot again soon enough.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 6

The last soccer practices of the season were tonight. Soccer ends, summer begins.

I have enjoyed coaching soccer this year, but I'm ready for it to be done. I'm going to coach Ben's team again next fall but not Michael's. Two teams are simply too much, and I'm trying to dial back on the coaching and just enjoy my kids playing their sports (I probably won't help with baseball again next spring, but you never know).

In the afternoon, I accompanied Ben's class on a short field trip to Memory Grove Park near their school for a picnic. It's next to the capitol, but this year, we didn't visit and just hiked back to school. Tomorrow is another field trip -- I love being able to help out as the school year winds down (last week, I went with Michael's class on a train trip to Ogden).

The dog and I went for a very long walk tonight. It felt good -- I needed the exercise. And I love these summer nights.

Summer 2014, Day 5

Today was my last day of co-oping for the school year. I've probably described this before: The boys go to a co-op school in which parents help teachers in the class room once a week (twice for me with two kids). I had split the co-ops up over two days after going both on one day last year. I'm probably going back to all on one day -- I discovered that I don't get as much done as I'd like in the mornings before I come to school, and I still feel sort of exhausted when I get home, so I might as well cram it into one day and be more productive on the second day. Of course, I'll do this and switch back to split days the next year ...

Though I generally feel blessed to be able to share the boys' school experience, by this time of year, co-oping has worn me down and I'll welcome the break. Many parents dread summer because they seem to be busy all the time. I look forward to it because I actually become a little less busy. With the last of the co-op shifts out of the way, all that's left is the last day of school next Tuesday.

Ben had a baseball game tonight, which we lost and the other team's coach irritated me (he irritates everybody). Today was warm, and it didn't cool off much in the evening when I took the dog for a long walk. I finished a big work project today, which was another relief in addition to the last co-op. Lori had a good day, too. All the pieces of summer are falling into place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 4

Only a few days left of school. The natives are getting restless.

I co-oped in Ben's class today for the last time this school year, and after a good start, the kids -- especially the first-graders in the class' 1/2 blend -- were far too fidgety for their own good. When they can't sit still just for read-aloud, you know they are thinking about summer. Even Ben was talking out of turn, shouting out answers when he didn't raise his hand.

The temperature is getting warmer -- it's supposed to be about 90 on Wednesday. We turned the air conditioning on yesterday, and it's doing its job. Michael had a shooting clinic with his new comp basketball program tonight, and the gym where it was at was warm. Near the end, he looked worn out -- his good shooting at the beginning of the practice severely waned near the end. He needs to get used to warm gyms, though, because he'll be playing a lot of basketball in June.

I took the dog for a long walk when we got home. The night was incredibly pleasant. Less than a week until school ends ...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 3

I managed to get a lot of freelance work completed today, which is good because it is going to be another busy week in that department. Lori took the boys to the pool for a couple hours while I worked on the computer and trimming the thornbush on the side of the house that I can't stand. I later took the dog for a hike on the dog trail, which she of course loved. There was no grilling this Memorial Day; I need to buy more propane. The days are really long right now -- it definitely feels like summer.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer 2014, Day 2

I bought a new pair of hiking boots a couple days ago. I had received an REI gift card for helping coach Michael's basketball team, we had our REI dividend, and I had a coupon for 20 percent off one item. All three together resulted in a super cheap pair of nice trail boots perfect for the day hikes I take with the dog.

I can never convince the boys to go with me on many hikes, and I thought today would be no exception, but Ben agreed to join Popcorn and me. We drove up Millcreek Canyon to Rattlesnake Gulch, then hiked to the Pipeline Trail to the Salt Lake Valley overlook. From there we kept climbing up to what we thought was a peak, but we got to the top and looked over to see more ridge leading to another higher peak. We turned back there, but not after our legs were burning and the dog was worn out.

As we hiked down the mountain, with Ben ambling in front of me, I couldn't help but think what a special moment this was. There's really only a finite number of these, no matter how many adventures and everyday experiences we share. The rest of the day was uneventful, but yet, it was still a great day.

There's a line from an old Counting Crows song that sometimes I invoke in my head when I'm doing things with the family:

I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass.
 
 And, fittingly, it was one more day up in the canyon.

Summer 2014, Day 1

Starting today, this Saturday (OK, it's after midnight here, but the new day never starts for me until the next morning), is what I'm declaring the first day of summer. I'm a little late to the party on this, but by my accounts, there will be 102 days I consider summer (before the opening of the NFL season). My goal this summer, as is every summer, is to make every one of those 102 days memorable, and to write all about it.

I haven't been writing much at all here this year -- the freelance writing I've been working on so furiously has diverted much of my creative focus -- but summer is different. Here's Day 1. To follow will be 101 more.

We threw Ben's birthday party today at the house. We were planning to let the kids have a huge water fight as they did last year, but we woke up this morning to rain. It hadn't rained in two weeks, but here it was, a rainy Saturday morning. Every Memorial Day weekend, we seem to get one or two days like this -- kind of spring's last stand before summer. Lori and I started making contingency plans for hosting 15 kids inside the house, as it seemed too cold for water play outside. The guests started arriving, we started crossing our fingers that all would go well inside, and then, the rain stopped. Some kids were dressed for a water fight, so I began to fill up the kiddie pool (which I would have done in the morning so the water wouldn't be so cold). The kids went outside, armed themselves with squirt guns ... and the sun came out. The original party plan, though amended (we didn't fill up a couple hundred water balloons during the rainy morning), was a success. Ben and his friends had a lot of fun.

Lori and I were exhausted the rest of the day but managed to clean up and make dinner (sliders, fries, salad). We all played Mayhem after dinner, and Ben and I played Dominion before I took the dog for a walk. We still haven't turned the air conditioning on yet, but summer has begun.