Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer 2016: Day 107, the last day of summer

And that's a wrap!

I wish I had written more this summer, something I need to figure out for the fall. And I wish I had not gained 10 pounds in the last month, but I'm taking steps there too (tracking calories again; it always helps). Although I'll miss summer, as I always do, I'm not annoyed that it went so fast this year.

Make no mistake -- it did go fast. The past few summers have settled into this routine:
  1. School ends
  2. A couple weeks with nothing big, maybe a basketball camp and a swim meet
  3. Two basketball tournaments here in town
  4. Fourth of July
  5. A week or two of just summer
  6. Michael's Vegas tourney
  7. The state swim meet
  8. Vacation
  9. School begins
  10. Labor Day

All these mini steps go fast -- so fast that before you know it, summer is over.

The heat was back today, and even hazier skies. I hear the crickets chirping from my front porch. This summer was good, bordering on great. I wish I hiked more and didn't get chunky (vacation kills me ...), and I don't think I saw a single movie all summer, but I was never bored, got to spend time with the boys, and took in all the sun and water that I could. Work was smooth.

So basically, there isn't much for me to complain about. These summers don't last long, and I know the number of summers with the boys is finite and winding down, but I thankfully never felt like this summer was wasted. Until 2018 -- and really, there is no rush -- my summer blogging takes a break.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 106

The first two weeks of school are just preludes for the rest of the year. The fun really begins after Labor Day.

Today was the day after Labor Day.

The heat is still suffocating Salt Lake, but I got to enjoy another day of work by the pool. Haze from fires all over the West (including one up in Weber County) is settling into the valley. Ben began swim practice again after about five weeks off. Michael had another basketball tryout and did quite well at it.

And though it was hot today and I got to lounge in a refreshing pool, it definitely felt like summer has concluded. Nothing gold can stay, or in case, blaze orange due the smoky skies.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer 2017: Days 91-105

This stretch of summer started with the first day of the school year and an eclipse. It ended with a triathlon, a holiday, and a greenish swimming pool.

The first day of school was the eclipse, 91 percent here in Salt Lake City. We dropped the boys off at school and came home, working a little before enjoying the sky show. Ben was super excited to start sixth grade. Michael was less enthused to be back, though his friends were happy to see him.

The first weeks of school passed quickly. The boys got used to their routines. Michael did some extra basketball training sessions in advance of tryouts. We went to the pool a few times. I even worked twice at a friend's house who has a backyard pool -- I couldn't believe how ridiculously productive I was.

The second soccer game of the season was played, with us winning 5-4. We're starting to look a little better.

A few fantasy football drafts are already in the books. The season is coming soon.

Ben and I enjoyed a Friday night just us while Michael and Lori saw "Dunkirk." We went to The Habit for dinner and to Game Night Games, where we tried Splendor for the first time.

I'm tracking calories again. Eek, I'm chunky again. I ate way too much on vacation.

Friday night, I took the boys to the Judge Memorial football game. Both had fun. Michael wants to figure out how football works; Ben just loves to root for the home team.

Saturday, Ben and I hit a few yard sales, and Michael had his first tryout of eighth grade. We went to Barbacoa for lunch afterward. Lori and I went out for dinner and drinks with some friends in the evening.

Sunday was kind of a lazy Sunday. I ran a couple errands and sat in the yard reading It and self-dunking with a bucket of water any time I got too warm in the 97-degree heat.

This morning, Labor Day, Ben and Lori competed in a triathlon. I came along for technical and moral support. Both had a lot of fun. Ben zoomed through the swim and run, was a little slower on the bike and transitions. Lori was simply pleased to finish. We went to Steak 'n' Shake for lunch.

In the afternoon, I took the boys to the JCC. Michael and I shot around while Ben and his friend swam. The pool was a little green -- something with the chlorine and oxygen levels. It was darker on the deep end, but I jumped off the diving board one last time nonetheless.

The routine really gets going tomorrow with Ben resuming swim practice, Michael doing another tryout (and hoop practice for him will ramp up quickly), and me returning to the friend's pool to work. Summer is just about over, but fall should be great.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer 2017: Days 83-90

The week after vacation. The week before school starts. The week I try to re-establish a routine, only to re-establish it again when the boys' summer break ends.

We didn't do a heck of a lot these past eight days. I worked. Lori worked hard to get herself back into a groove. Ben played with his friend Ethan a lot. Michael was a lazy teenager but did get some work done. Soccer started this week, and we had two practices and our first game in the new league (lost 6-3). Michael had a basketball training session today and has two weeks to get back into a rhythm before tryouts.

I walked Popcorn almost every day this week -- long walks. I feel like I gained 10 pounds on vacation. Lori, Ben and I played board games this week, including Settlers of Catan and Patrician.

Today we spent a few hours by our friends with a pool. Then we, as a family walked to the H Rock.

Michael isn't too thrilled to be starting school tomorrow. Ben is happy to get back but sad that summer vacation ended. He said he loved this summer, and remembered how I once told him my summer after fifth grade was my favorite growing up. I hope he's not sad that he thinks they are downhill from here, but he (really, both boys) created many incredible memories on this summer break. I tried to cheer him up that sixth grade is going to be great for him. He nonetheless was having trouble falling asleep.

Oh, Ben and I bought the last of our school supplies today at Walmart. If that isn't a sure sign that summer is winding down, I don't know what is.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 82, Vacation Day 14

Home. Whew.

We finished off Nebraska and Wyoming, finally making it home about 9 p.m. Lori drove most of the way, though I handled Rawlins to SLC. Dinner was at McDonald's in Rawlins. Ran into some thunderstorms. We finished listening to Jurassic Park and moved on to Tex. Such a fun trip, but so happy to finally be back.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 81, Vacation Day 13

The long road home began today. We took a little time in the morning before leaving, and of course, Ben was sad to go. We stopped in Iowa City for lunch at Stake and Shake, then had dinner at CiCis in Lincoln near our hotel. We listened to the audiobook of Jurassic Park along the way today. Even though it wasn't the longest day of driving, the boys didn't feel like swimming when we got back to the room. We watched a James Taylor/Carole King concert on PBS and then an old Bee Gees concert, then turned in.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 80, Vacation Day 12

Our last day in Chicago. We leave for home in the morning.

Today turned out to be another mellower day, which, after such a jam-packed trip, was acceptable. The highlight for me was taking the boys on a bike ride, on the trail up to Golf Road past Chick Evans Golf Course. We rode about 14 miles, and the stunning part for me was that Dad still has my old Schwinn from the 1980s. Michael rode it, and I swear, I thought I was watching myself from 30 years ago. Ben rode well too, and we went to the McDonald's on Oakton for McFlurries.

Lori hadn't had SuperDawg yet this trip, so we ordered from the carhop for dinner. We came home and played Pandemic with Kate and Exploding Kittens with the family. I also watched an SNL Weekend Update special with the fam before turning in for the night.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 79, Vacation Day 11

On almost every one of our vacations, there seems to be a day in which we have hit our activity limit and start winding down. This was that day.

I walked about 4 miles in the morning, and Ben and I went to a game store. Michael, Lori and Susy went for a long bike ride. I napped. My dad picked up Lou Malnati's for dinner. That was about it for the day. And that's OK -- these relaxing days are important. I don't want vacation to end, but I also am looking forward to getting home a little bit.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 78, Vacation Day 10

Today the boys and I ventured downtown. We took the train to Union Station and walked toward Michigan Avenue. The wonder of downtown Chicago is not lost on Ben, who marveled at how "beautiful" it looked (obviously overlooking the smell ...). Downtown Chicago does have a certain appeal to it for someone who spent his whole life in Utah. I still love it and I grew up here. Our destination was the Art Institute.

Our time at the museum was incredible. I hadn't been to the Art Institute since, wow, maybe 1993 when Lori and I went. And for some reason, I don't remember seeing as much art as we did this time. I have no recollection of the Jackson Pollaks, the Georgia O'Keefes, the Picassos and the Matisses -- only Mary Cassat and the impressionists. We started with a Gaugin exhibit, then wound our way through 20th century American artists, the impressionists, medieval armor (that was fun), contemporary artists, and the surrealists and post-impressionists. After three hours, we still hadn't got to everything (missing renaissance and photography) but had to leave to meet up with Lori at Susy's office. After a quick visit to Dunkin' Donuts, the four of us headed back to Edgebrook.

The evening was spent with Mike and John and SuperDawg. I used the last hour of my day to relax on the front porch, listening to music. This is what vacation is all about.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 77, Vacation Day 9

After the busiest vacation week I can remember in recent vacation memory, we needed a day to rest. Blessedly, we got one.

We all slept late and took naps. The only time I got out of the house was with the boys to vacuum out the car and go to Taco Burrito King for lunch. I got sidetracked by some soccer stuff, but that was my only stress for the day. My dad and stepmom invited people over for dinner, and I feasted and drank a few beers. Currently, I'm on the porch writing on a cool night.

We'll be more active tomorrow, but for today, we needed the break. Already on the back half of our trip ...

Summer 2017: Day 76, Vacation Day 8

There was a hangover today. Not a bad one, but I'm definitely too old to be drinking too much at weddings ...

Fortunately, I cut off the hangover at the pass early, and my headache was gone by 10 a.m. We met the boys and Lori's family at a Croatian church's festival on Milwaukee's west side. We hung out there for a little while, and the boys went with Lori's sister and new brother-in-law to Great America while Lori and I got the rest of the day mostly to ourselves. We drove by her old house and hung out at a Collectivo coffee shop in Wauwatosa for a while, then drove back into the city. I managed a two-hour nap at Sara's house (dozing off listening the Cubs' game; they were winning when I fell asleep and losing by five when I woke up ...). The rest of the evening was spent hanging out on Sara's porch, eating dinner (Sara grilled some steak and vegetables), and playing Settlers of Catan.

Through a driving rainstorm to leave Milwaukee, we drove to Kenosha to pick up the boys, who had a blast at Great America. We got a bite to eat with the in-laws and the cousins, then headed back to my dad's house in Chicago. The long weekend finally came to a close.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 75, Vacation Day 7

Two days, two weddings.

The boys stayed with Lori's parents at the hotel in Franklin, and we stayed again with Sara in Milwaukee. Sara, who rarely gets to cook for people, was ecstatic to make us breakfast. I walked to the nearby Pick 'n' Save -- the one that opened in 1994 when Lori and I were living on the east side -- to buy ingredients for homemade egg muffins. They were delicious and a good way to start the day that was bound to get busier.

Mike's wedding was in Lake Villa, Ill., about 45 minutes from Milwaukee. The weather couldn't be better today after the chilly wedding Friday. The location was nice, and the sun was shining for the ceremony. I got to see all my high school friends for the first time since Tom's funeral last year, and we toasted to his memory before the pre-wedding responsibilities began. Mike kept entrusting me to mix him Jim Beam and lemonades, and I was concerned I wasn't making them strong enough. We took pictures and helped with the preparations, then got to hang out in a groomsmen's room before the ceremony.

The wedding was great. Tim almost had me laughing from the start when he whispered to Nosek, on the other side of me on the stage, that John was on the clock for fantasy football. I got it together and didn't burst out laughing. Mike surprised everyone in the middle of the ceremony by beginning to sing a song, but after the first line, two people in the audience took over. Then a violinist stood up and started playing. Then another singer joined in, followed by a tenor. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen at a wedding, and it had the guests in tears.

The reception was wicked fun, of course. I danced a lot, more than perhaps at any other wedding for a long while. Mike had the DJ play Nitzer Ebb's "Join in the Chant," which took our group way back to high school. I was exhausted and a little drunk after that. Lori drove home, with a stop in Kenosha for McDonald's. The Big Mac was a great ending to a great day.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 74, Vacation, Day 6

Today was our first full day in Wisconsin with the kids. Summer vacation, winter temperatures -- just like Wisconsin ...

We took the boys to Ma Fischer's on the East Side for breakfast. The skies were overcast and a little rainy, and the temperature couldn't be above 60 degrees. This far cry from what we experience in Utah summers didn't dampen the boys' spirits; they ate and attacked the day. From the restaurant, we visited Lori's old high school. She just wanted to pass by initially, but then asked if she could take us inside her old stomping grounds. I've never been inside Rufus King -- it's an old high school for sure. Lori enjoyed the memories, and Ben did too; Michael smiled politely and followed the tour, being more surprised by the old water fountains.

After going to Kohl's, we drove along the lake back into the city. We were a smidge frantic getting ready for Lisa's wedding, but it turned out no one from the wedding party was really on time either. The wedding was fun. Lisa's niece Dakota officiated and was nervous/choked up. Ben danced like crazy. The skies never opened up, and eventually it even warmed up (after the wind died down). Lori and I took the boys to stay with the grandparents at the hotel, and we headed back into the city. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 73, Vacation Day 5

A bit of a transition day: We departed Chicago for a few days in Milwaukee. I did go for a long walk into the forest preserve in the morning while the boys, who got to go to the beach yesterday, went kayaking at Skokie Lagoons today with my dad. It rained hard off and on today, and unfortunately, it was way on when we visited Marquette in the afternoon. I wanted to show the boys the campus, but instead we simply hung out in the spirit shop. We headed over to Croatian Soccer Park for my sister-in-law's wedding rehearsal, then went to Kopp's for diner.

Tonight, we are staying with a good friend we knew from Madison who owns a place on the East Side. I'm on the porch, enjoying the cool evening, and finally getting some writing done. Clouds are speeding by, and I think it will rain again.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 72, Vacation Day 4

Lori and I celebrated our 20th anniversary today. We drove to Madison without the kids to reminisce, visit some of our old haunts, and look forward.

I had called the hotel where our reception was to see if we could get in the hall and have one dance, to the song we danced to first 20 years ago. Unfortunately, there was a luncheon in progress, so that didn't work. But Kathy from the hotel let us browse the top floor and the nice staircase, and took some pictures for us. We ate lunch (a great salad bar) in their restaurant, and they brought us free champagne and dessert. This was such a wonderful gesture. That could have been our day, but it was just starting.

We also walked the square, visited the smaller Wednesday farmer's market (and bought fresh cheese curds), visited Lori's old work, strolled down State Street, bought the boys t-shirts at the UW bookstore, drove to the west side, visited the church we got married at explored our old neighborhood, bought Klarbrunn's at Woodman's (which is even crazier than it was 20 years ago), and found a park on Lake Mendota to sit and talk for a little while. Our plan was to find someplace for a nice dinner, but instead, we were content to go to Michael's Custard for their great burgers (my bacon double had the most bacon I've ever had on a burger) and a sundae. Then, we headed back to Chicago, making great time.

Lori and I did get that dance, just on our own, at my dad's house. It was the perfect ending to the day. The only thing I would have done differently was jumped in the lake -- I had went in to my knees and it was warm; we hadn't decided on Michael's at that point, and I could have been a little soggy on my anniversary ...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 71, Vacation Day 3

I still needed to work today, and got much done at two Starbucks before saying my vacation officially begins. Drove around a bit trying to find travel-size saline but had to settle for travel-size solution at three times the price. The boys had a fun day, playing tennis and basketball with my dad. We made burgers and corn on the cob for dinner, then watched the Cubs on TV win big.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 70, Vacation Day 2

Another day of driving, but not quite as long. It's funny how Iowa isn't quite as time-sucking as other states, and Illinois, even at its widest, is quick on Interstate 88. After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road about 9 a.m. and made great time, arriving at my dad's about 7:15 p.m. Dad ordered Lou Malnati's pizza for us for dinner, and we taught him and Susy how to play Exploding Kittens. Welcome to Chicago! It's good to be back.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 69, Vacation Day 1

And the vacation begins! For any road trip, there is usually one long day of driving, and this was it. Lori, whose birthday was today, took the wheel for most of the day as we went from Salt Lake City to Grand Island, Neb. We got into town about 8:30 p.m. CDT, checked into the hotel, and then went to Olive Garden for dinner. Otherwise, we hauled across Wyoming and half of Nebraska, getting a little rain but making good time.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer 2017: Days 46-68

I just haven't been in the mood to write ...

And this is a big issue because, well, writing it what I do, what feeds my soul, and, outside of writing for work, defines who I am beyond a father and husband. But the will just hasn't been there. It's been an exhausting summer, and I want to chalk it up to that, with the directive to figure it out for fall.

In the meantime, three weeks passed between summer blog posts. Here's what happened:

Ben swam three meets, and he's struggled a bit during them. He's either looked tired or is struggling in his noggin. At the state meet, he underperformed, and he usually swims great for big meets. He did make the B final in the 50 back, which he was excited about, especially considering he's in the 11-12 division and just turned 11 two months ago. But after reaching the final, he proceeded to finish last and, again, looked tired. I want to discuss it with his coach when we get back from vacation.

Michael's seventh-grade basketball season ended with a tournament in Vegas. They went 1-3, but they didn't play all too badly. Michael averaged 7 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Vegas was fun again from the vacation point of view. We hit our favorite spots for dinner -- Sushi Mon, Metro Pizza -- and tried a new rib place. We played in the pool often. The weather wasn't perfect, but that was actually a good thing. Michael hung out with his basketball friends.

I worked hard these past few weeks and am ready for the break vacation will bring. The heat has been severe as usual for a Utah July. I've been trying to deal with getting Ben's soccer team moved over to a new league. The summer has been anything but relaxing.

But, summer has been going fast. Not blogging hasn't made it go any slower, either ...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 45

Hot.

Ben got back into the morning swim practice routine after taking yesterday off. Michael had a swim meet down in Sandy. We went to Wing Nutz for dinner. And, it was hot.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 44

Hot.

Today was a recovery day. Poor Lori -- they didn't get enough help to clean up the park, so she was out the door at 6 a.m. She enlisted Michael to help a couple hours later, and finally, the temp workers arrived to help as well. They were exhausted after it was over.

Michael had basketball practice in the evening. First day back at work after a four-day weekend is always a bit of an adjustment, but today wasn't so bad. Just hot.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 43

Today was the Fourth of July, and it was exhausting ...

Lori was helping organize the Sugar House Park fireworks and other activities in the community, It required a lot of work ... and some volunteers. We were up at 7 a.m. helping move garbage cans around the park. The city simply dropped 300 cans in a couple locations, and they needed to be put in certain spots. That took a couple hours and some trips uphill dragging cans, but with several people helping, we got the job done and headed home.

Ben and I participated in the neighborhood Fourth of July parade while Lori and Michael prepared for the rest of their day. The temperature began climbing. After a few hot dogs, we left the parade, and I took Ben and one of his friends to another Fourth of July gathering, this time in the backyard of some good friends of ours. The pool was perfect as the temperature passed 100.

We made it home by 7 p.m., and our family walked to Sugar House Park in advance of the fireworks. The organizers had a little VIP area cordoned off next to the fallout zone, and we grilled some Italians and hot dogs and waited for the fireworks to begin.

Then the chaos began. The organizers had rented a golf cart, and I took the boys in it for one lap around the park. It was crowded. People seemed a little cranky -- they had been waiting in the heat all day, and they were ready for night to fall and the fireworks to begin. Then, people started launching their own fireworks, even though that was illegal. One landed on the other side of the fence, on the dry grass next to the expressway, and started a blaze about 400 yards away from us. This was a mini inferno, and almost at the same time, the fireworks began ...

Turns out, we were in the fallout zone. The fire marshal moved us, but about a minute later, something landed on the other side of the expressway again, and another blaze started. We moved away from it and were about 150 yards away. Michael got some great video of a tree just exploding into flame. But the fire burned itself out quickly.

The fireworks were OK. There were a lot of drunk morons in the park. We usually aren't in the park itself for the fireworks, so we miss most of the obnoxiousness. The long day of heat didn't help. The fireworks ended, and we couldn't get out of the park soon enough. The walk home felt long, but we finally made it, only to hear more fireworks set off well past 11 p.m. Thus ended a Fourth of July we won't forget.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer 2017, days 28-42

Another two-week break. I gotta get better at this ...

OK, 14 days passed, and I'm going to try to recap. I did write on the solstice. There's been a lot of basketball and heat and swim meets and cooling off in that time. Tonight is July 3. Here's what happened the past two weeks:

-- Michael's basketball team took second place its division in two basketball tournaments here in town.
-- Ben had a long swim meet at Kearns Aquatic Center and did all right.
-- Michael had a swim meet, too, at SportsMall, and did all right too.
-- We went to Cowabunga Bay on a night sponsored by the boys' orthodontist.
-- Ben and I hiked to Peak 10420 today. It was short but steep, and definitely worth the view.
-- Lori's friend Tina and her family visited us from Denmark (well, not just us; they are visiting the entire Western U.S. and swung through SLC for a couple days).
-- Ben and I swam at Murray Pool yesterday.

Those were the highlights. This is why I need to blog every day ...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A very fast year to get to another solstice sunset

I forgot to bring the iPod with. The sun might set behind a cloudy front that is moving in. But I still see orange to the west, and it undeniably feels like summer today. It's the solstice, and once again, I'm back on the hillside at Donner Park, reflecting on the year that just passed.

And oh my, did it fly by.

A year ago, I was coming off a big transition with work, the death of my friend Tom, and trying to make sense of the new direction I was headed in. But the year went fast. So fast. Too fast. As a writer, I try avoid using the word "very" because it's a useless modifier, but here it's applying: very fast.

This past year has been the craziest blur of my life. Not crazy bad, not even just crazy busy or unique. Just instantaneous -- more so than I can ever remember. Senior year of high school? Didn't go this fast. The first year out of college? Not this fast. The last couple years in Madison? Nope. The year after Michael was born. Not quite. 2011-2012, the time I generally am going to look back to when I think about the boys' childhoods. No.

The sun is dipping below the clouds; I'm going to get a good sunset after all. There have been 364 sunsets since the last one, and they all went by in the aforementioned blur. I don't know why it went so fast. I wasn't looking forward to anything ending or beginning. It just flew by.

Maybe it's the perception that as the boys get older, each day becomes more important because they are more finite. I just want it to slow down a little. I don't want them growing up so fast. I don't want to be on this hillside a year from now and wonder where the previous year went. I want to be here and think, "That took a long time -- good!"

But life doesn't work that way. Parenting sure doesn't work that way. As I queue up "Sister Golden Hair" on my phone and watch the sun creep toward Antelope Island, I remember that this song is 42 years old. And for my parents, that summer when I was 4 and Julie turned 3, I'm sure they don't think it was that long ago.

I don't think it's a matter of not appreciating every day, but rather getting caught up in whatever's next. Whatever now is what matters. Next will just follow as it always does. Now slows things down; next just has you looking to the subsequent next.

This is my 12th trip to this hillside to write on the solstice. The journey continues. Hurray for that journey. Boo that it's seemingly speeding up. At least this sunset will never change.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 27

Sitting on the porch tonight, and damn it's humid for Utah. Some clouds rolled in but there is no breeze at all, and it hasn't cooled off from this afternoon. We'll be leaving the AC on tonight ...

My Monday was productive. Got a lot of work done all day but also managed to do this 30-minute workout I've been sweating through lately and get the dog for a walk. I took Michael to his basketball practice and had pizza for dinner. Ben felt a little dizzy today, so he missed Scouts, but he should be OK for swim practice in the morning. It wasn't a perfect Monday, but it wasn't a bad one either.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer 2017: Days 4-26

I'm a little disappointed. That was a long stretch without recording summer, and I feel like I'm giving up to easy. And in the meantime, two weeks have passed since school ended for the boys.

Out of the gate, the adjustment to summer is tricky, and I've just been tired most nights to want to write. We've been busy, but not that busy.

So here I am, Father's Day, June 18, my 26th day of summer, and I need to try recapping the last three weeks. Here goes nothing ... and everything:

  • Ben and I went to a Real Salt Lake game on Day 4. We hadn't seen a game since maybe 2013, and I don't think we've seen a game in which RSL scored until 2011. And they won! 1-0. We filled up on barbecue before the game (it was a team event for the boys' swim teams), and got out quickly after finding a good parking spot before game time.
  • We went to the JCC pool for the first time this summer on Day 5.
  • Memorial Day was Day 6. Actually worked some of it. Michael and I also cleared out the patio.
  • Chaperoned the upper grades on a field trip to Crystal Hot Springs on Day 8. Fun, old school water slides, and I got to soak.
  • Day 9 was the last soccer practice of the season, the parent-kid game that is always fun. Ben played his last baseball game of the season.
  • Day 10 was the last day of school. Egad, I now have an eighth-grader and a sixth-grader.
  • Michael played in a basketball tournament days 10-11, and his team went 2-2. He played really well but got beat up a bit (as he usually does as the tallest kid on the court).
  • Day 11 was the last soccer game of the season for Ben's team, and we had the end-of-season party at our friends' backyard pool. The kids loved it, and I got pushed in by my players. Brought three extra pizzas home; they were gone by morning.
  • Day 12 was a Sunday in which we worked on the backyard, pruning bushes and clearing vegetation.
  • Day 13 was Ben's first early swim practice of the summer. He also had his first official Boy Scout meeting.
  • Day 14 was a swim meet for Michael. He swam all right; his fly looks better than ever.
  • On Day 16, we spent the afternoon at Maureen's pool again, and each kid got to bring a friend. I was busy with work and never even jumped in.
  • Day 18 was a Saturday without any sports. Lori, Ben and I hit some garage sales, and then the boys and I went to Ben's end-of-season league baseball party. He won a water bottle. We pulled stuff to the curb for the bulk pickup.
  • I took Popcorn to the H Rock to watch the sunset on Day 19.
  • The boys had basketball camp days 20-23. I worked at some new coffee shops this week and tried some new teas.
  • The weather turned cold and rainy on Day 20, but we needed it.
  • The skies cleared enough for another swim meet for Michael on Day 21
  • On Day 22, I played pickup basketball with Michael, his swim coach, and a couple other swim dads. Damn, Michael is getting good ...
  • Ben had a swim meet days 23-25. It was a tough meet for him; he struggled in this same pool last year. After his last evening session, we went for handmade ice cream sandwiches at a new shop in Fashion Place Mall.
  • Today was Day 26, Father's Day. We all hiked to Bloods Lake near Guardsman's Pass. I lounged in the sun in the backyard, went to Smith's with Michael, then grilled burgers for dinner. We watched "Beauty and the Beast" and Skyped with my dad.
There was more. I promise, I'll make it a priority tomorrow night ...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 3

The weather cooled, and with it, my energy for summer. I felt tired all day and never was as productive as I wanted to be, yet never seemed any time to just relax. I did get a good workout in and walked the dog, and also got my hair cut finally. The boys took it easy most of the day, too. Lori made pork chops, salad, and rice for dinner, and we all watched "The Amazing Race" recorded from last night. Memorial Day weekend gets into full gear tomorrow, and the weather will warm up. I'm ready.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 2

Two kids, two different places to be. One parent for each, missing the other kid's event.

This is a situation Lori and I know all too well. Today, it was me taking Ben to a swim meet in Kearns and Lori taking Michael to school to help with the eighth-grade graduation dance.

The boys' school is a K-8, and it's a tradition for the seventh-graders to organize and execute the graduation dance. Many of the parents volunteered to help as well, so Lori was at the school all afternoon, came home for a little bit, then returned to chaperone and help take everything down. The theme was 1950s' sock hop, and Michael was a soda jerk. He never actually came home from school today, and he was exhausted by the end of the night.

Ben's swim meet went well, though it was long as well. He swam three races, doing well in the 100 fly and the 200 freestyle and just OK in the 100 back (normally his best event). I got some work done in the long spaces in between, and we finally got home around 9:45 p.m.

The long Memorial Day weekend is up next. I think we are all going to sleep late tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer 2017: Day 1

The annual summer blogging tradition begins anew ...

Honestly, I've been a little slow to begin the summer blogging again. In past years, I couldn't wait to pick a day in May, say it was summer, and dive in. This year, I helped chaperone Ben's class trip to the Teton Science School and experienced quite a cold snap (the entire mountain region did). I was going to start when we got back, but it just didn't feel right.

Today felt right.

Temperatures reached the 80s and our house is beginning to heat up. A shower grazed our side of the valley, and the gray skies screamed summer rainstorm. I'm sitting out on the porch at 11 p.m. without a sweatshirt. And Memorial Day approaches.

Let summer begin!

I'm counting 106 days from now until the Wednesday after Labor Day, when I officially call summer. So what happened on Day 1? Not a whole lot. I worked on the porch for some of it. Ben was at a swim meet with Lori, so I was Michael's chauffeur from school, to swim practice, and to basketball practice. The Westminster gym was a sauna, so I worked outside in the cloudy breeze. Took Popcorn for about a half-hour walk. And now I'm typing. When I conclude, I'm putting the headphones on and will listen to some music in the pleasant night air.

Until tomorrow ...

Monday, March 20, 2017

It happens every spring

Baseball season is almost here. I'm still giddy from the Cubs winning the World Series not five months ago, and another baseball campaign is just about upon us.

Ben still plays organized baseball and loves the sport, and it's a good sport for him: methodical, cerebral, and not fast-paced. He's an OK hitter (and he struggled for so long but persevered to get to OK) and is always enthusiastic.

Tonight, we got the baseball gear out and played catch for the first time. We had a gorgeous 70-degree evening to throw the ball around after dinner, still more than an hour removed from sunset. It felt so spring.

Ben graduated to Michael's old glove. I need to buy some glove oil, but it held up fine, and soon he was catching everything I threw to him.

We'll play catch again tomorrow. I will buy the new season of Strat-o-Matic baseball because no way can I not own the cards of the World Champion Cubs. I'll listen to games on my phone and iPad, and I may even pull out some old baseball cards to peruse. Spring is here. Play ball!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pocatello 4

We got back from a weekend in Pocatello, Idaho, today. This is an annual trip for us -- our fourth -- for a little Catholic parish basketball tournament for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Michael played in it for three years, and this is Ben's second. The trip is always fun, win or lose. Most of the kids who play in this tournament will never be more than rec basketball players, so this gives them a chance to travel, hang out with their teammates, and participate in what, for them, is a big event.

Alas, Ben's team went 0-4 for the weekend. The tourney is set up with fifth- and sixth-graders in one division, and his team is all fifth-graders -- and it seemed we played all sixth-grade teams. The kids played hard, though, and were close in three of the four games (going to overtime in one). The parents got to hang out as much as the kids. This tournament always seems to be on the first or second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, so it's hoops aplenty.

Next year will be our last Pocatello (and we may not even go if the state swim meet is back to being the same weekend; we lucked out this year). Our first was one fantastic -- even though Michael's team went 2-2, he played great, and it convinced us he was ready to play comp. But wow, it was three years ago already, serving as a sobering reminder how fast these past three years have gone. Two years ago I remember sitting in the hotel room working on a Saturday afternoon between games. Last year, I motored back on Saturday night so I could fly to a work event the next morning. Two years ago, Michael's team struggled because we only had five fifth-graders and a third-grader. Last year, Michael romped through some of the younger teams who couldn't match his height.

Milestones and memories. They happen, and before you know it, you're on to the next one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The anti-Valentine's Day

Ben asked today how many Valentine's Days that Lori and I have celebrated. This was our 24th, but we have our tradition of not overly putting much effort into the day. After all, shouldn't you treat every day like Valentine's Day toward the ones you love? Somewhere in the mid-'90s, we decided not to buy into the pressure of making the holiday perfect. And thus, we came up with our perfect Valentine's Day dinner: fish sticks and macaroni and cheese.

Fortunately, we ended up with two boys, so our anti-Valentine's Day meal indeed turned out to be the perfect celebration. Today, Michael actually made the mac and cheese. We sat around the kitchen table and ate, and though it felt informal (it was still a busy day all around for us), it was all I wanted from the day.

That's not to say Valentine's Day can't be special. I think the one I remember most is when Michael was maybe 2, and I took him to Lori's work, where he brought his mommy a Valentine's Day card. Special is what you make of it, every day of the year. And today, special, once again, was fish sticks and macaroni and cheese ... and a Ho-Ho from the box of Ho-Hos that Ben got from school today. I think I need to add that to next year's meal.

Monday, January 30, 2017

This Monday

This Monday, I was tired. I didn't sleep well last night and dragged a little all day. I'm typing and drinking some tea now, looking forward to a better slumber tonight.

This Monday, the inversion is bad. Still, I took the dog for a longer walk because she needed it. So did I, even if my lungs didn't.

This Monday, I took Ben home from swim practice and we ate the dinner Lori made for us -- a sausage, potatoes and spinach dish. I took him to Webelos and worked at Starbucks for a little while.

This Monday, I took Michael to basketball practice. He had one with his comp team earlier, then the one with his parish team I help coach. Michael might be getting his shot back after the latest growth spurt that put him past 6 feet. We scrimmaged, and my shot, unfortunately, was way off.

This Monday is over. This Tuesday is on deck.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Workplace conditions

I love working remotely. I love working at home. During the summer, I love working on the porch or in the backyard. I love getting out to a coffee shop, settling in, and pounding out tasks perhaps more efficiently than I do at home.

And I prefer working at the kitchen table -- our new table especially -- over the basement. Only one problem: The kitchen also contains food. And when I'm working in the kitchen, grazing all day becomes far too easy.

Needless to say, there are extra pounds.

The best remedy for this, of course, is warmer weather. This happened last year as well -- November rolled around and I worked strictly indoors until spring.

When I first went to full-time two years ago, I was exclusively working in the basement. Maybe because I started in the winter, it felt too much like a tomb, and I took my Mac upstairs.

Again, I don't want time to rush by (reinforced by the fact Michael has now reached 6 feet tall), but spring will be more than welcome when it eventually arrives. In the meantime, more coffee shop excursions, more tea instead of snacks, and more willpower when the fridge is sending signals to my stomach.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The January Man

I've never been shy of declaring how much I dislike January. Easily, it's my least favorite month. The joy of Christmas has dissipated, the days are short, the sun is barely offering any benefits, and though Salt Lake City doesn't suffer from the debilitating Midwestern sub-zero temperatures, we are forced to endure inversions -- smog fests that are sabotage the air quality and mask an otherwise blue sky. I don't want any time of year to go quickly simply to be done with it, generally because I don't want these years to go by any faster than necessary. That said, I won't be that sad when February arrives (and then, eventually, March).

But something odd happened this January -- a weird winter break for the boys. Their last day of school was Dec. 23, they got two weeks off and didn't return until Jan. 9. After just one week back in school, they were off today for MLK Day. Tomorrow is Jan. 17; my least favorite month is more than halfway over without it quite feeling it ever really begun. Yes, still two more weeks, but hurray, this might not feel like a typical January. Never mind an inversion is starting to set in (it's not supposed to be bad). Never mind the days are still short, though getting longer every day. Never mind the cold temps (still not as bad as Wisconsin ...). I knocked out the first half of the month without a sweat.

The boys enjoyed their days off; both hung out with friends and didn't bug me too much while I worked. I managed a long walk with the dog tonight -- chilly, but it felt good. Looking forward to the 17th!