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Showing posts from 2017

Summer 2017: 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:
School endsA couple weeks with nothing big, maybe a basketball camp and a swim meetTwo basketball tournaments here in townFourth of JulyA week or two of just summerMichael's Vegas tourneyThe state swim meetVacationSchool beginsLabor 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 …

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.

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…

Summer 2017: Days 83-90

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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 ende…

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.

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.

Summer 2017: Day 80, Vacation Day 12

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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.

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.

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 ho…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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 …

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.

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.

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.

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 …

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.

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.

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 …

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 ..…

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,…

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.

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…

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.

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 ar…

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 prac…

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 o…

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 …

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'…

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.

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 ar…

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 …