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!