Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pins to the left, pins to the right

Michael's birthday was a few weeks ago, but December had been so busy that we weren't able to throw any sort of party for him and his friends until today. With a sleepover not an option with Lori's parents staying with us through the winter, we pondered either bowling or swimming. Over the weekend, we settled on bowling, sent last-minute invitations, and hoped that it wasn't too short notice.

It wasn't, because we ended up with 13 kids bowling (counting Michael and Ben). Everyone had fun, though it became a little chaotic as the kids got a little more wired near the end. Unlike a swim party, in which the kids would have spread out across the pool, everyone was in a concentrated spot (three lanes) and were able to socialize and laugh a lot. I don't know if anyone broke 100, but nobody cared -- they weren't there to win or lose (although Ben got annoyed when he threw gutter balls).


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sulking

Michael played in a basketball tournament with his club team the past few days. Tonight was the championship game in his bracket, and his team lost a nail-biter, 37-34. His team had a chance to maybe win the game but just couldn't quite get the winning basket. Michael played perhaps the toughest game I've ever seen him play -- he scored only four points but pulled down a lot of rebounds and played good defense against a good, physical team.

This is how much I know that Michael is passionate about basketball: After the tough loss, he sulked. Not pouted, not whined, but sulked just enough because he was upset about the close game. Lori and I telling him how proud we were of him and how we love watching him play didn't help. His coach and other parents telling him what a great game he played didn't help. Opening a box of Candy Cane Joe-Joe cookies didn't help.

He'll recover by morning. I don't want him to dwell on losses, but he's allowed to be bummed out by some of them, at least for a little while.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Experiences, exponential

Every December, I enjoy driving with the family around Salt Lake City, looking at Christmas lights, listening to holiday music. The only challenge -- getting a free night in which everybody is free and has the energy for an hour or two in the car. Maybe I just enjoy the adventure more than everyone else, but each year, I try.

Last Wednesday, Michael wanted to stay home and Lori was tired, but I recruited Ben to look at the lights. Our first destination was a house up in the Avenues that is ridiculously lit up every year. We spent about 15 minutes just gawking, then went to Barnes and Noble for hot chocolate. We drove up onto the benches, stopped and gazed and the lights of the valley, heard three different versions of "Baby It's Cold Outside" and finished our night cruising through the country club neighborhood (not as impressive as you would think).

It wasn't much, just me and my 9-year-old, but it was an experience I hope never to forget. Remembering these moments, savoring them, seeking them out, and, yes, blogging about them, is so important. Some of these experiences we will inevitably forget; others will last. Either way, they are valuable.

To quote Styx, "Give me the lights, precious lights ..."

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quest for 100

This is my 95th blog post of 2015. Let me rephrase that -- it's my 95th blog post on The 43. I've written 292 posts for work clients. That's part of the challenge I've grappled with for a few years now -- I put so much writing energy toward professional content that I don't often have energy to write for me. Finding the time and wherewithal for both (a balance, to be cliche) is a goal for 2016, because I don't want to be south of the the 100 mark (or even the 200 mark) again.

That said, I'm trying to make to 100 for 2015, and I need to write a lot in the next few days to get there. This has been a nice holiday weekend -- relaxing, full of board games, cold walks with the dog, a basketball game, fantasy football, and, thankfully, no work. I cleared my head to think about 2016, accepting the fact the last year went way too fast. Only these last four days remain, four days to write five posts to put me at 100.

Let 2015 conclude with a bang!

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Yule

For the first Christmas in many years, the boys opened presents when there was actual daylight outside our front window. The slightly later start began a mellow Christmas day that was blessedly uneventful.

Michael didn't wake up until after 7 a.m., and the day moved at a slow pace after that. We opened presents, had breakfast, I got a quick nap, watched "A Christmas Story," ate lunch, tried out my new snowshoes with Popcorn up at the H Rock, took another quick nap, watched basketball, played three games of Pandemic with Ben (it's such a fun board game), and am now sitting with just the glow of the Christmas tree and an REM documentary on VH1 Classic.

The mellow day was appreciated. I used to work almost every Christmas day, because I always preferred having Christmas Eve off, and with no family nearby, the holiday was easy overtime. Today, I was happy there was no work on my agenda, nothing planned other than some board game playing. We don't quite have a midday Christmas tradition, but maybe being mellow will be enough.

I went outside tonight to get the dog around the block one more time, and I saw in the southeast sky the star I had picked out for my grandmother after she died last March. I missed her a little today, though growing up, we didn't really see her on Christmas Day -- usually, it was Christmas Eve. The last Christmas holiday we saw her and my grandfather was 1999, when we still lived in Madison. I'm trying to recall that holiday -- I bought the coffee table for Lori that I'm looking at right now in our living room.

A quick present rundown for 2015: I got the snowshoes, a tumbler for tea at my favorite coffee shop, a Dice Masters expansion, and a Star Wars t-shirt. Lori got a neck messager from the boys. Michael got Super Smash Brothers and Star Trek Attack Fleet, plus a new basketball backpack. Ben got a Big Ben Lego set, a water polo ball, a Galaxy Trucker expansion, and an iPod touch case.