Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 50

There goes June ...

I was so tired all day today. I couldn't fall asleep last night (not because of stress, just was awake), and I was up early to take Ben to swim practice. I got some work done as normal, but I also dozed off for about 15 minutes, only waking up when I let out a snore that my ears heard.

Michael had a basketball game, and I let Lori drive and Michael sit up front while I closed my eyes again in the back. His team won, 35-24, and he finished with 3 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

The rest of the day was trying to get as much work done and staying alert. I took Michael to his swim practice later in the afternoon and got some more work done. Popcorn and I went for a long walk. I've been on my computer the last hour and am ready to turn in. I can sleep late in the morning ... and I definitely will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 49

Ben didn't go to swim practice this morning, so I got to sleep in a little. That kicked off what was mostly a mellow day. I worked in the morning and into the afternoon, then took the boys and two of their friends to the pool. I actually didn't swim much and worked instead, but I did jump in for a few minutes. The boys didn't mind and were happy swimming with the friends for a few hours. Michael did have swim practice during that time, and the skies got cloudy, windy, and a little drizzly, but Ben didn't mind (and neither did Michael when he got out of practice). We came home and watched more of the swimming trials (I was more tired than I thought and dozed off for a few minutes), then I ran to Walmart quickly. I'm on the porch and it's definitely cooler. Storms are in the forecast tomorrow, and for one day, I won't mind.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer 2016: Days 47-48

Hot. So hot. But I am determined to not spend my summer inside. I have a job that allows me flexibility to work anyplace, and therefore, I'm going to work outside, 100-degree temperatures be damned. This has been almost liberating -- working in the backyard, wearing a pair of swim trunks, dumping a bucket of water over my head when I'm sweating too much, going back to work after the cooling off, and repeating as necessary. I'm amazingly getting a lot done this way -- more than if I was inside in the AC. Summer, you are my partner, no matter how much heat you throw my way.

I did take the boys to the pool yesterday evening (and worked there, too, and jumping in a couple times -- tried my first-ever knee dive of the side of the pool) to escape the heat. This morning, Ben had a swim meet in American Fork that I took him to. He was DQ'd in the 100 fly despite swimming a fast time, and he popped in the 200 free. We went to In 'n' Out for lunch. Michael had basketball practice in the evening, and I got a little work done from there. Took Popcorn on a short walk tonight -- it hasn't cooled off much, and I don't want to overheat her (or me). The weather shouldn't be quite as hot tomorrow, and then thunderstorms to end the week. I won't mind either.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer 2016: Days 42-46

The heat broke a little bit yesterday and we were able to open the windows overnight, but it was hot again today. Here's a synopsis of the past few days:

Wednesday:Ben was tired and didn't go to swim practice today, but he did go to basketball camp, as did Michael. The pool felt good in the early evening.

Thursday: The Rocky Mountain Showcase started today, and Michael's team won 43-28; he posted 4 points and 9 rebounds. His jumper is a little off -- he might be having a growth spurt (we've seen this before with him: he shoots up a half-inch and every shot sails long). Popcorn threw up today -- we think she's been eating grass and it's upsetting her stomach. Ben and I walked to the H Rock in the evening to watch the sunset.

Friday: Two more games of the tournament, with Michael's team losing both, though he played well in the first game (9 points, 10 rebounds). Ben and I started a game of Risk on the patio table that we couldn't finish.

Saturday: Michael finished the tournament with a victory and some big stats (8 points, 12 rebounds), then got asked to play with another team from his club -- he was tired but did all right, and helped the squad with some much-needed height. Ben and I finished our risk game (I won), then played Othello, Blokus Trigon, and Cribbage outside. We walked for snow-cones in between. Popcorn was feeling better. We got Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner.

Sunday: I did Body Pump, Michael had a basketball workout, Lori swam some laps, and Ben helped the lifeguards in the morning. After a quick jump in the pool, we headed home for a chill afternoon. Lori and Michael went to Costco, and we are stocked for the next few weeks. I went to Smith's and REI, then grilled burgers for dinner. After watching the first day of the Olympic swim trials, Popcorn and I got out for a walk.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A dusky tradition

Ten years ago, on the summer solstice, right before sunset I took a pad of paper and my iPod to a hillside at Donner Park near our house. I wrote about summer and life. Ben had just been born, and I deep in a reassessment of my priorities and goals.

Every summer since I've come back to this hillside to write about summer and life, on the solstice or soon thereafter if the schedule didn't permit (as it didn't this year). I listen to "Sister Golden Hair" and reflect on the year that passed and what the future holds.

Ten years of this tradition are now in the books. Eventually, I brought the laptop out instead of just a notepad (no transcribing to the blog ...). Here I am again, 2016, on this hillside, reflecting on the year.

The fluster that might have evident in last year's solstice post grew and grew as the months simultaneously dragged and sped by. Some of those months were rough -- I don't think I ever had insomnia as bad as I did last winter. Everything seemed so pressing, especially work.

Then, it all got better. The job stabilized to something I'm happy with. I started sleeping better. I started appreciating every day more rather than trying to barrel through it. Summer so far hasn't been a festival of awesomeness -- it's still been busy -- but it's been good. Warm. Mellow. I can handle that for now, and there's plenty of weeks left.

The sun just ducked behind Antelope Island. It hasn't officially set, but it will. I hit play on "Sister Golden Hair" and the guitar riff that screams sunset to me. The thing I'm realizing this year as I sit here is that I'm in a bit of a home stretch with the boys. Yes, they have years before they are out of the house, but with Michael close to being a teenager, the little kid years are past us for good. I think that's why I'm a little bit at peace of where I'm at in my life right now. The job is manageable. The family is wonderful. The days are mostly complete. There is much I want to do still, but there's no immediate rush.

I think of my friend Tom who just died and didn't see this solstice. His passing gives me a sense of priority, but not desperation. The stress and anxiety just isn't worth wasting the limited energy we can devote to everything else every day. Our group of friends had some great summers growing up. Those summers may have went by too fast, but too fast is preferable to not at all. Tom, at least I hoped, lived his life with the "not at all." It's something I need to remember over the next 12 months, until the next time I'm on this hillside.

The familiar breeze that blows down the mountain after the sunset has set in. The chill feels good after the hot day. I'm thankful for today and looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 41

The heat continued today, and it's getting to us a little. Ben, after his tiring day Tuesday, skipped swim practice this morning. Popcorn didn't want to sit outside with me while I worked. I was able to cool off -- two self-dousings with buckets of water, plus about 20 minutes in the pool while Michael had swim practice. Michael got a nice compliment from the Judge basketball coach today -- another nice thing to hear as a parent. I managed to get the dog for a 30-minute walk, which was exercise she desperately needed. I'm sitting on the front porch right now, and it's barely cooled off her in the city.

Summer 2016: Day 40

Today was another scorcher -- so hot that my any electronics that I had on the patio table in back while working started to overheat. Besides swim practice in the morning and basketball camps in the afternoon, the boys had a swim meet at Alta Canyon. Michael swam great; Ben was a bit tired and not in his usual form. We rushed Michael over to basketball practice, which was intense, but I saw something I love to see as a sports parent: He asked his coach for some advice, and after it was given, his coach high-fived him and gave him the little hip slap. Michael has been working so hard, and his coach knows it.

I got Popcorn around the block when we got home. The poor dog -- it's been really hot for her all week. Hot for me, too.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 39

Both boys started their week with the first day of the Judge Memorial basketball camp, and both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Ben had swim this morning as well.

Today was hot, but we got a awesome break in the evening -- three hours at a waterpark. Our orthodontist rented out Cowabunga Bay for the evening, and each boy got to bring a friend. They all had so much fun, and though I didn't go bananas going on the waterslides (when the sun dips down, the breeze that goes through the waterpark is a bit chilly, and the thing about Cowabunga Bay is that you will get soaked just moving from slide to slide), I did have fun as well (I like the big bucket). We picked up In 'n' Out Burger on the way home to complete a great summer day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 38

Father's Day! I slept later than normal, read The New York Times in the backyard while eating homemade Egg McMuffins that were lovingly prepared by Lori, and then ... did a BodyPump class. I had been debating whether I was actually going to work out this morning, and my right arm was sore yesterday from golfing, but I had to take Michael to the JCC yesterday for a private basketball coaching session, so I bit the bullet. I wasn't as sore afterward this week as last.

After getting home and lounging for a couple hours (I've been trying to finish up the O.J. Simpson documentary), we all went on a hike to reach the nearby Living Room -- rock formations that look like furniture. The trail was too sunny, and Popcorn began to overheat, so Ben and I continued while Lori and Michael took her back down to the car. Afterward, we picked up Jersey Mike's subs and came home to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals (Cavs won, 93-89).

I finished watching the miniseries and am on the porch writing tonight. Another busy week lies ahead -- par for the course for our summers. A great Father's Day is one of the perks each summer brings.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer 2016: Days 34-37

Yes, a few days have passed since I posted. A few busy, tiring days. Wednesday was a standard work/shuttle-kids-around day. Thursday was similar: Ben's last day of the Highland basketball camp and first day of a swim meet, and swim and basketball practice for Michael. On Friday, I took Ben to his swim meet's morning session, then we all went to the meet in the evening. He was only swimming one race (50 back) and did well. We went to Tonyburger for dinner.

Today was different. Michael and I played in a golf outing for his club basketball team's scholarship fund. We had fun, though neither of us hit particularly well at Mountain Dell (we were paired with an eighth-grader who was uncorking 280-yard drives, he saved us for sure). We got home and I napped for two hours. The long week had finally caught up with me. We went to Ben's swim meet in the evening, where he swam two final races. For dinner, as an early Father's Day meal, we went to Lone Star, where I got my favorite Utah burrito (which no one else in my family seems to like as much).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 33

The 7 a.m. starts because of the boys' swim practices that were such a novelty last week are losing their appeal. I was tired all day and am yawning now as I type this. The routine was similar today -- Ben had swim practice, Michael had basketball, Ben had basketball, and Michael had swim, but today, the swim was a meet. He swam great -- maybe the best meet he's ever had. Last week he said he was tired, and his times showed that. Today, he was a torpedo. He's not swimming faster times than Ben, but he got a lot closer to them at this meet.

Oh, we have a pickup a couple days while our RAV is in the shop. Kind of a new experience for me -- I'm definitely not a pickup person. Still, it had more room than the Corolla we originally had reserved. I bought Cafe Rio for dinner while we were at the meet at Life Center -- our old health club and the place both boys learned to swim. I couldn't help but picture them in the corner of the pool where their lessons took place. Too fast ...

Summer 2016: Day 32

And we're back into another week. This one started with thunderstorms and rain all day, which kind of put a damper on doing anything outside. I managed to work during Michael's swim practice under the shade tarps by the pool while it drizzled around me. We watched the Cavs beat the Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight. This was definitely a Monday in ever sense of the word.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 31

The sun was out for most of the day, but it wasn't so hot. Fortunately, it was warm enough to enjoy a couple hours by the pool this afternoon. Michael had a one-on-one session with a basketball coach, Lori and Ben swam some laps, and I did Body Pump (and I'm already sore from it; tomorrow is going to be brutal). We finished all that and enjoyed the pool afterward. I tried a cannonball from the side and had water shoot into my brain (I also need to get goggles). Lori brought out her inner 10-year-old by jumping off the diving board, and the boys had enough energy to swim for a long time.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I grilled for dinner -- fajita steaks -- but was delayed a bit when it started hailing in what proved to be the only cloudy part of the day. The boys and I took Popcorn for a walk to Shop 'n' Go, where I got an ice cream bar and the boys got Icees. Ben loved the walk, right at sunset, and said we need to do it more often.

I agree.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 30

Ben's meet continued this morning, and finally, the heat wave broke. Rain swept through Utah, and hit was precipitating off and on all day, much to the happiness of our front lawn. Ben swam a couple races well but struggled with his 100 free -- he's doing something funky with his hips, which is slowing him down. But he got a best in his 200 IM and swam the best-looking breaststroke of his life.

The rest of the day was mellow, mellow, mellow. We were all tired, and though I went to Costco, I didn't do too much else. And before I knew it, 7 p.m. arrived. We went to Five Guys for lunch and got Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner (and Michael and I had Egg McMuffins for breakfast -- yes, it was that kind of eating day). I got Popcorn out for a little walk in the evening, then sat outside to write in the cool post-rain night.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 29

Ah, Friday. Michael had swim practice in the morning; Ben had a meet in Kearns in the evening. I finished up the work week. And I looked forward to the weekend.

Ben swam all right at his meet. There was an entry glitch and I didn't get to see him swim a couple events -- I was timing and never saw his name on the big board (because it wasn't on the big board because of the glitch).

Michael had his first morning practice of the season. They practiced dives. He reluctantly came with us to Ben's meet.

We stopped at Shopko on the way home to get some aloe for Michael, who had gotten a little sunburn yesterday. The night was pleasant. It definitely feels like summer.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 28

I ate like crap today. I feel a little chunky and have gained six pounds or so since March. And I've been meaning to eat better and exercise more -- especially since Tom died. And yet, today, I ate like crap.

Do I blame it on the first week of summer and adjusting to the new schedule? Or the fact I'm in the air-conditioned kitchen a little more often than I should? Or that the heat is making me burn more energy and I'm craving more food? Excuses. Maybe next week will be better.

Today was good nonetheless. Lori and I both were running around a lot. Michael met a friend at a neighborhood pool, and Ben had a swim meet, and Michael had swim practice and basketball practice back to back.

I got some work done at the pool and then resisted doing nothing. Instead, I jumped in the pool. It felt great, and was a good reminder that these opportunities don't happen often -- sometimes, the water is calling and you have to answer. Sure, it might have been easier to stay in the sun and be dry and not had to change. But then, thinking of Tom, I hopped in. He wouldn't have bypassed the moment, so neither did I.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 27

"This never gets old!"

Those words were proclaimed by Ben after he dove off the diving board for maybe the 20th time today while we were at the pool. Michael had swim practice in the indoor pool, and Ben and I swam in the outdoor pool in the already too hot Utah late afternoon. I jumped off the diving board twice. Ben went over and over. He wouldn't try a flip, but kept doing the same dive each time.

The water felt great today. Eventually, Michael came out and wanted to swim so more, so he and Ben did while I lounged on the deck.

The rest of the day actually felt long. We watched the Cavaliers crush the Warriors in Game 3. I took Popcorn to the park to throw the ball to her, but she's out of shape and didn't feel like running a lot.

But folks, it's summer. And it never gets old.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 26

Today was much like yesterday, but Michael had a swim meet and basketball practice in the evening. The sun shone all day, but the crazy wind from last night died down and it wasn't as hot. Michael swam OK at the meet (Ben didn't swim because he has a big comp meet that starts Thursday) -- he looked a little tired, but he perked up and had a good hoops practice.

I was a timer at the meet, and I enjoyed the water lapping at my feet during races. I ate too much today and am feeling a bit bloated as I type this. Popcorn is on the porch with me, and I'm sleepy -- will probably turn in soon.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 25

Let the fun begin!

School ended Friday, and today was the official first day of the summer routine. Camps, swim practice, working in odd chunks and outside as much as possible (I need to chart how many hours I work this summer barefoot) -- this is what our summer looks like. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Ben had swim practice at 7 a.m. Though waking up for these practices is tough, I love getting an early jump on my workday. Michael had basketball camp at 10, followed by Ben at noon. Michael had swim practice at 5:45, and again, I was by the pool working (but under the canopy -- the sun had disappeared and I was thinking a little that it might rain. I took the dog for a long walk in the evening.

The rest of the week will be equally busy. Again, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 24

Lori resubscribed us to The New York Times last winter, and at first, it was wonderful. Then our Sundays started getting busier and busier, to the point I barely acknowledged that the paper was coming to our house. Sure, I might read a sports story or do the Kenken puzzle, but I never felt I was getting the most from the subscription.

This morning, that changed -- I took my newspaper to our patio table in the backyard and read for a while. This is what Sunday mornings should be like, and blessedly, I finally got to enjoy one. This was a great start to the day.

The day wasn't too packed or eventful. We went to the pool in the late afternoon. Michael and I watched the Warriors dismantle the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Grass from the EZ Seed is starting to emerge. Nevertheless, it was a perfect summer Sunday.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 23

Three basketball games and a swim meet. Just a typical Saturday for us ...

I missed the swim meet to take Michael to basketball. He won his first game but lost the next two in a frustrating finale to the spring season. We went to South Towne mall so he could buy a Warriors hat.

I got home and, for the first time in a while, didn't know what to do. The temperature spiked into the 90s today, and I just didn't feel like being outside. Eventually, after 8, I took the dog for a long walk. I just felt lazy in the evening, which is OK. Tomorrow will be more productive. I need the few hours of break.

Summer 2016: Day 22

The boys' last day of school was today. At their school, this is so much a celebration; the kids get individualized awards and can go home early (it's a half day anyway) if they want. I drove them home before noon, then worked the next few hours.

Ben had a swim meet in Utah County that started tonight, so Lori reserved a hotel room so they wouldn't have to drive back late and then drive back early in the morning. Michael and I golfed again, at Forest Dale, where I shot a disappointing 54 and Michael hit a 64 for nine holes. We picked up Millie's for dinner and came home to watch "Caddyshack."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer 2016: Day 21

The weather is heating up. Only one day left of school for the boys.

Today marked the first swim meet of the summer rec season (I have to clarify that now with Ben swimming comp). This was just the intrasquad meet, and only Michael swam it because Ben has a big long-course meet tomorrow and Saturday. He did all right considering he just started practicing again. Ben actually rooted for his brother in a couple of the races.

We came home and watched the Warriors beat the Cavs in Game 1 of the Finals. I'm wrapping up some important work stuff so I didn't get the dog for a long walk, but she's out with me on the porch now, and we can hear a cricket chirp nearby. I'll be happy when this week is over and summer is in full swing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer 2016: Days 6-20

I've been gone for a while from my summer blogging. I had a good reason.

At first, I just had two busy work days in a row, the first (Day 6) was Ben's birthday as well, and I was just too tired to write. Ben's birthday was nice and low key; we took him to The Habit, his favorite burger restaurant, for dinner. He had a baseball game that Friday night; Michael had two games that Saturday, and then I was all set to catch up on blogging that evening. But then, I got a call about 7 p.m. and everything went to hell.

The call was from my friend John from high school. He was informing me that Tom, another good friend and part of the our group that have been close for about three decades now, had suddenly died of a heart attack.

I flew back to Chicago on the subsequent Tuesday for the wake and funeral in what was an absolutely exhausting and sad week. I tried getting as much work done as possible, but I pushed some hours into the Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to enjoy Chicago in May but just couldn't (though the thunderstorm that pushed through during the after-funeral gathering was impressive; Tom's brother declared "This is Tom saying we aren't drinking enough!"). I flew back on Friday, Day 14.

We went to a Bees game that night, and the weekend was fun. Michael and I went golfing; I shot a 52 on 9 and he shot a 67. Got much yardwork done. Popcorn and I hiked on Monday. And gradually, I started to get my will again to write, but I was still tired.

Today, I jumped off the diving board for the first time this year. For those who don't know, getting that first jump out of the way is how I remind myself that I can indeed swim in deep water, even if I'm not a fan of it. I sat in the sun for the couple hours before that and worked while the boys had swim practice in the indoor pool. And, I felt connected to summer again.

I'm still thinking of Tom often since I got back last week. He would be the first one to say to stop wallowing and start writing, spend happy time with the boys, and get on with summer. I think that's why I took Michael golfing. So let's resume here on June 1. There's so much summer left to go.