Friday, March 30, 2007

Day 37 - 03/29/2007

I went to visit Philip in the hospital. Well, visit his parents is more like it. He was sedated and pretty much out of it when I was there. He got in an accident 10 days ago. He's 17 and, like many teenagers, probably felt nothing could happen to him. After a night out with his friends (apparently drinking, based on his BAC), he went for a drive about 5a last Sunday morning. He lost control and totaled his mother's car.

I saw pictures that Phil took of the car at the lot. No one should have walked away from that wreck. The passenger door was moved to the center console and the car itself was bent at a 120 degree angle. One picture, taken from the rear looking at the driver's side indicated just how much the car had bent: the front end beyond the passenger compartment was completely out of the picture. It was bent at least three feet from where it should be.

I was thinking on the way to the hospital how lucky he was. Not just to survive the accident, but to be given a second chance at life. Not many people can claim that gift. And while he didn't necessarily walk away from the accident (he's been in ICU for going on 11 days now), not a single bone was broken and there were no major injuries. He had head trauma and was put in a coma, but the prognosis is a good one. The doctors indicate its a question of when, not if, he'll recover.

Talking with Phil and Tracey made me more aware of how special it is to be a parent. Here we have children, thinking it's our responsibility to raise them, to teach them how to exist in today's world and send them off on their own when they go off to college and beyond....and then continue with our own lives as empty nesters. But it's more than that. They are our flesh and blood and being their parents isn't just a temporary job that ends when they graduate from college and start their own lives. It's a lifelong commitment, regardless of what age they are and what kind of help they require. I think back at what my parents went through for me and am grateful for the guidance, discipline and knowledge they imparted on me (directly, or indirectly, as the case may be) in order for me to arrive where I am in a somewhat unscathed manner. Sure, I had my share of ups and downs and did my share of stupid things, but, as I told Scotty P. all those years ago in that restaurant in Dayton: I always knew I'd turn out good.

I often wonder just how different my life would be had I made just one mistake too many during my misspent youth. Would I be here typing this while sitting in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, married to a loving and wonderful wife and being the father of two kids? Or would I be somewhere else, with a limited future and be running from place to place, trying to eke out a living? I guess I'll never be able to know these things and am glad that I don't have to find out.

What I do know is that when I visited Philip in the hospital, I couldn't help see myself as an indestructible young man, intent on proving to the world just how indestructible I was. I hope he uses his gift wisely and is able to serve as a message to those like him that we are all vulnerable to making mistakes, regardless of how old we actually are.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day 36 - 03/28/2007

Did the usual mundane things at work (babysat the migration), followed by a quick trip to the grocery store for some ibuprofen for M. She's still running a fever and the Tylenol just doesn't do the trick. D told me we were out of ice cream, so I ventured down the frozen wasteland and, lo and behold, Breyer's was on sale ($1.99 per container). Since we were all out (and we typically have 3-4 kinds at home), I tossed four in the basket and made my way to the registers to check out. However, upon returning home, I found out that there wasn't that much space in the freezer, so I had to make adjustments. I've already taken out the ice bin in the garage fridge, the next step will be taking out the ice maker as well!

Since M still wasn't feeling all that hot (the doc said it was probably viral), D made N his standard fare for dinner: chicken nuggets, french fries and ketchup (yes, he considers ketchup a side dish vs. a condiment). Since that was the case, I hit the trail for a quick run. 2+ miles later I was back with a little pain in the knee (but nothing an ice pack couldn't contain). I walked the first 0.20 miles and then ran the rest of the mile (did that twice) and then after the second mile, just walked the rest of the way home. Even including the walking, both miles were right about 10 minute miles. I was especially surprised w/ the second one as I walked/ran that in about 9:30. I really need to slow it down; I'm going way too fast.

I had promised my mom I'd go over and help her w/ her computer, which wasn't set up properly when they installed FIOS (she recently upgraded to FIOS to get rid of the telephone line going across the family room floor). To hear her tell it, she was going to have to buy a new computer because her old one couldn't run the Internet (or so she was told by three different technicians). As it turned out, all that was necessary was to plug the network cable into the router (it had been plugged into the DSL modem). Ten minutes after arriving, I could've packed it in and headed back home, but no, I had also recommended an external drive for backup purposes. Installing this *should* have been straightforward as it's a USB plug and play device. Plug it in and it should work, right? Wrong. 90 minutes later I'm still struggling with it and finally tossed in the towel. I now have this hanging over me to install and configure since I was the one who recommended it. Hooray for me! Not.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Day 35 - 03/27/2007

Spring has sprung and the weather is almost approaching early Summer. With that in mind, I decided to ride my bike to work for the first time this year. (I'll also try to do so on Friday, as D drives Tuesday's and Friday's -- or so it's become that way over the past couple of months.) Traffic was light and there were no problems. I left as the same time as Bob Dylan (two doors up) and passed St. Tim's at the same time as he did. Of course, I cut through the woods and through the neighborhood, whereas he went down Stringfellow to Poplar Tree. Still, it's nice to know that we could bike to church and still arrive at the same time (well, D and I could, N and M would probably slow us down). Upon arriving at work, I hit the gym and was in the office by 8a. I left work around 5p and was home at 530p. Again, traffic was a breeze and riding my bike made me feel pretty good, especially as I wove between all the cars stuck on Stonecroft Boulevard. As I passed St. Tim's on my way home, there was a police officer directing traffic. He had just blown his whistle to let the cars out of the parking lot, so I slowed down to stop. Seeing the right thing to do (in my mind, anyway), he told me to keep going. Thanks, Officer Friendly!

I was afraid that the ride would aggrevate my knees, but that wasn't the case, which makes me think that I'm finally on the road to true recovery. Hooray!

Day 34 - 03/26/2007

M had her second softball practice today. She looks like she's going to have a lot of fun this year -- not that she didn't last year, but she appears more confident in her ability. We gave Abby a ride home and saw two deer behind the house next to the pool. Mundane? Monday?

My ear's acting up again. I started on the alcohol treatment and can't wait for it to clear up. When it gets this bad, if I plug my left ear the environment is muffled. It works great when going to bed and D still wants to watch TV, but not so great when I actually want to participate in conversations. Hopefully it'll clear up in the next few days. I'm having a hard time stopping myself from digging around with a Q-Tip, trying to dig out whatever is lodged in there.

I decided to tag not only the day of the entry with the number, but also the date. This will make reading them a little easier in terms of figuring out which day is which.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Day 33 - 03/25/2007

For the second week in a row, we slept in on a Sunday, finally getting out of bed around 1015a. Bowling (followed by pool at Westfields) was our excuse this week. We decided not to attempt 1045 Mass and instead opted for 1230p. Of course, the mention of going to Mass brought M to her knees and the weekly Sunday tantrum began. For this, she earned time alone in her room after we got home. We had a talk with her and had her draw up an agreement for her expected behavior (and consequences should she fail to follow through) on Sundays with regard to attending Mass. Let's see whether this tactic works over the long haul; I'm sure it'll be fine short-term.

After Mass I took advantage of the beautiful weather and started cleaning up the yard of all the debris that had accumulated over winter. After raking pretty much the entire yard (D helped out on the side w/ the chestnut hulls), I got this wild idea to thatch the front yard. Ugh. I hate that job, it's such a pain in the ass. That being said, it does pay dividends down the road (or so I told myself as I was earning blisters), so in the long run it'll be worth it. Unfortunately, all the yardwork (coupled with M's behavior) caused me to postpone any softball skills sessions with M (or N if he wanted to join in). Maybe we'll break the gear out one night this week.

After yardwork, I took a quick spin on the bike while D got dinner ready. Although I was tired out from spending the afternoon doing the yard work, getting out and pumping the pedals felt great. I was back home in 25 minutes and was ready to tackle the next few hours before I could hit the sack (I was still tired from the night before). Not so fast, however, as first I read Narnia and then we watched Lost (from 3/21) and afterwards, since it was only 915ish, I decided to finish watching the Sopranos episode I still had on Tivo. One thing turned to another and next thing you know I'm watching the second one and not getting to bed until 1115p. So much for turning in early! Oh well, it's not like I have to wake up at the crack of dawn or anything.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day 32 - 03/24/2007

Our contractor showed up to do the trim work around 9a and promptly got started. Since it was a grey day, I thought I'd get a start on some work in the basement. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I got sidetracked and worked in the garage instead. Well, at least some chores got done!

Prior to starting on the garage, I took M and N to Toys R Us to return some birthday presents N got that he already had. Telling a white lie, I told the guy we had lost the gift receipts and he told me I was out of luck, he couldn't do a thing about it. We then went down to Target where I told the same story. The customer service rep told me he could give me store credit , but that I couldn't do more than two transactions w/o a receipt in the course of the year. This was completely understandable and was a great example of smart thinking in that they were protecting themselves from fraudulent returns (e.g., from stolen product being returned) while at the same time not penalizing the customers who truly didn't have the gift receipt but are on the up and up and just want to exchange it for something else.

Anyway, off to the toy aisle we went and got N a new Lego set (the firehouse) and both M and N softball/baseball gear. I also explained that we wouldn't be shopping at Toys R Us for a while due to their short-sighted corporate policy. When M asked me what I meant, I explained that they were trying to reduce the amount of illegitimate returns in order to improve the bottom line (in the short term), but that it would cost them in the long run. As an example, I explained that had we been able to return the Lego to Toys R Us, we would've bought the replacement there as well (which was double what the returns totalled), not to mention possibly getting softball/baseball gear. That shortsighted policy cost them about $100 immediately. I guess they didn't think it through.

After the garage was cleaned, I changed and went for a run w/ M and N on their bikes. We went down the path towards Walney Pond (like N and I did last time), but this time turned around at the end of the trail and headed back home. M had asked if we could stop by Shell Valley on the way back so we made that detour. After searching for (and finding) shells, we headed over to Rock Valley and looked for skipping stones, which we promptly attempted to skip. We also found some sedimentary rocks. I used this as a teaching moment and explained what these types of rock were and how they were made. After finishing my lecture, N tells how one time there was a flood in the creek and the sand came up and washed all the litter down into a big pile and that's how the rocks were made. Well, not quite, but I enjoyed it none-the-less. I then showed them how strong I was by breaking rocks with my bare hands. The jig was up, however, when M did the same. Of course, some sedimentary rocks are very easy to break, I just didn't fill them in on that part.

After we got home, M popped the following question: Da, is F-U-C-K a bad word? Uh, um, uh, go into the living room and I'll be right in. D, I need you to answer a question in the living room. After the three of us were in there, I told D what M asked and she did a great job at explaining it. Of course, I had an answer as well, but nowhere near as good as what D provided. We praised M for asking us about it vs. just keeping it to herself and stressed that there was nothing she couldn't ask us. Hopefully she understands this and does ask us when she feels she needs to get questions to sticky situations vs. going with what her friends tell her. She's a smart cookie, yet she also appears to be easily influenced by her peer group.

Bowling rocked...sort of. We were bowling blind, but heard the team we were matched against did pretty well. We bowled about average (overall), so I'm not sure what that will do for our stats. Only time will tell. DJ Tin Pen started Cosmic Bowling off strong with some good tunes and we kept rocking until it was time to leave. Over at Westfields there must've been a swank wedding as the bar was filled with what appeared to be money-laden individuals. And then there was us: a group of post-bowlers in our grubbiest gear coming straight from the lanes and having a ball. Lots of loaded wedding guests, including a few ladies who definitely had a few too many. The Guinness flowed, but the balls wouldn't drop. Burke and I got our assess handed to us by Chris and Brian before I finally gave up the ghost.

Day 31 - 03/23/2007

M started softball today and I was pretty impressed with her enthusiasm. It's much better than it was last year (her first year playing). I'm not sure if it's because she's a year older or knows how to play, but it was nice to see. She threw and caught the ball as if she'd been practicing all year long (which she hasn't), although her batting skills still need some practice (which didn't surprise me at all).

After practice we (M, N and I) went to Sarah's play. Her class put on "Where the Wild Things Are" -- well, at least their version of it. It lasted all of 15 minutes (if that). She was Pippi Longstocking and had quite the moves when they danced around the stage. The next play was "The Case of the Missing Ring," which was a spoof on all-things mysterious -- movies, plays and even board games. Most of the cast did a pretty good job, although there were a few that showed their age. My favorite part of the show as when the sheriff (a bumbling, country bumpkin) and his dog were approached by a detective who asked if the sheriff's dog bite. Of course the sheriff answered no and the detective was promptly bitten. Of course, the dog the sheriff was walking wasn't his dog. I think I laughed the loudest in the entire theatre. I really should rent the Pink Panther movies. Peter Sellers was classic in them. The final play was a take on the first day of school for a group of seventh graders. It was well done, but - in some cases - appeared to be over the top. Most of the cast tried their best, though, so from that angle it was enjoyable. We left before the fourth play was performed. It was late and I knew we had a 35-40 minute ride ahead of us to make it home. (I was able to make it there in just about 30 minutes, but I wasn't planning on speeding as much as I did on the way there -- much to my surprise.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Day 30 - 03/22/2007

Pain free. All day. And that's that with that.

Picked N up from school yesterday as D went down to visit Philip in the hospital. As usual, he wouldn't talk about what happened during the school day and his teacher said there was no news -- good or bad. (Although she did say that he'll be great in kindergarten.)

Stopped by Boston Market for dinner for both the Ericksons and ourselves. D didn't partake as she was heading to Maria's for dinner. N was served macaroni and cheese, a couple of green beans and a chunk of chicken. Neither the green beans nor the chicken were touched. I didn't give in though, even after he balked at eating the mac-n-cheese (it had dirt on it or something). Oh well, if you don't eat what you're served, you can always have breakfast in the morning!

A call came from Attorney General Kilgore after I put the kids to bed. They were having a town hall style conference call to discuss some of the topics of interest to Virginia residents. I listened for about 10 minutes to a couple of the answers, but when the topic turned towards what he was going to do for seniors, I hung up. The first question had to do with immigration. As I figured, he said it was a federal issue and (by law) he was unable to do much about it. The second had to do with money for transportation. He indicated he would try to speak with Gov. Kaine regarding doing the right thing (e.g., taking out of the general fund that's been growing over the years due to budget surpluses...or so he says). This follows on to a call from Sen. Cuccinelli asking for my support come election time. I hope that what Mike (the guy from Cuccinelli's office) said turns out to be accurate in that the rest of the state will feel the heat once redistricting takes place and NoVA/Hampton Roads become the majority in the General Assembly. I'm tired of paying money downstate to see no services and/or money returned for local expenditures.

As for mundane things, I ate leftovers for lunch (in the form of a taco salad) after picking N up from school, I watched The Last Days that I had Tivo'd a few nights earlier (about 7 possible ways humanity will become extinct) and some of The Sopranos (again, Tivo'd). Then D came home and we went to bed (where I quickly lapsed into a good night's sleep).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Day 29 - 03/21/2007

No rehab, no running, no gym, no exercise...except for the nightly stretching. For the most part, my knee felt great, until I read Narnia to the kids afterwhich it ached in a low-level kind of way.

Speaking of Narnia, the kids love it and really look forward to hearing it on a (somewhat) nightly basis. If I miss a night or two, they think I need to read more to catch up. Hopefully I can find another book to read them after this one that's just as good at keeping them interested. Hopefully it'll be one that I haven't read as well to keep me interested to boot! ~lol~

For lunch we did CCR. For the second month in a row, I was the first one pulled. Fear the Clear, baby! We went to Longhorn and Bales ended up paying again. It just wasn't his day. His wearing the sombrero caused lots of looks from other patrons, one of whom asked him why he was wearing the hat (she thought he lost a bet or something). After he explained it to her, she invited him to her poker party, to which Dave responded: Are you calling me a sucker? No, she said, you're a loser! She turned out to be correct as he indeed lost the game (for the second month in a row).

And did you know that at Longhorn a bowl of chili only costs 30¢ more than the cup of chili? What's up with that?!?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 28 - 03/20/2007

Graduated from rehab. (That's what they call it when you finish the sessions your insurance company has authorized, whether you're cured or not.) Fortunately, I'm on the road to recovery and (coincidently enough) just happened to be on the last session that was authorized as well. So, how do I feel? Like a million bucks. It's been a long, long time since I was able to walk around with NO discomfort whatsoever in my knee. On this day, that's exactly what I experienced.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. Whenever I got up, I thought the pain would be there, but it never reared its head. Am I healed? I don't think I'm 100% (maybe 98%), but only time will tell.

To celebrate my graduation, I dipped into the ice cream not once but twice. I couldn't help myself. Something about orange sherbert that makes you just not want to stop - especially once it's started to liquify and it's like drinking orange sherbert juice.

Among the more mundane things that happened today included going into the office early to make up for leaving early for rehab; showing up for library duty at school only to find out a volunteer luncheon is being held instead and that my services weren't needed; we had chicken pot pie for dinner and N took a cold bath (which reminds me I need to adjust the water heater as drawing two baths at night is enough to run out of water).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Day 27 - 03/19/2007

Nothing says good morning like N sneaking up on you before you even get out of bed. What a way to start out the day!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Day 26 - 03/18/2007

Woke up, at around noon, knew I had to be in Compton soon, had to get....wait, that's not what happened. (Well, I did wake up, but it was around 1030a vs. noon.)

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across, that's not it either.

Well, with the kids down in Fred for the night and our late night escapades, niether D nor I woke up at the crack of dawn. The crack of 1030a was more like it. I told D that I wished it was 930a and when she asked why, I told her it was so I could sleep in another hour.

I dragged myself into the shower to wash off the remnants of last night. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good (I say surprisingly since as we were getting ready to go, a couple shooters made their way down my gullet). We headed down to pick the kids up around noon and after a quick visit, were back on the road around 2p. M had a Brownie event at 330p and N had a birthday to go to at 4p, so we didn't have much wiggle room. Fortunately traffic was moving (although it was heavy) and we made it home just in time for M to grab her vest before leaving again to drop her off.

Before leaving to pick the kids up, I spied the leftover biscuits on the microwave from the other night. Being sort of hungry (I hadn't had breakfast yet), yet still feeling the effects from the night before, I decided I should make some ham and cheese biscuits. I cut each of the three in half and put some ham on them before placing them in the toaster oven for a few minutes. I then got some chipotle cheddar and put that on top of the ham and put them back in the oven for a couple more minutes. When they were done, I spread some chipotle mustard on them and took a bite. Wow. They were muy delicioso! The bread was nice and soft and moist and the ham was just the right temperature and the cheese had melted just the right amount. I'll have to remember that next time we have leftover biscuits!

D took N over to the birthday party (at Chuck E. Cheese's); I met them up there later after picking up M from Brownies and we hung there for a while until all tokens were consumed. There was no kicking and screaming to leave like there was last time, which was good for me as I was running on fumes. (D left to go visit with Maria at Arlington Hospital where her mother is in ICU after having a stroke.) We got home and played trains a little until bath time. Being the lazy guy that I sometimes can be, I stopped playing trains and let M and N play for a little while longer before sending them up for a bath (again, while I read the paper).

Bathtime came and went and after they got ready for bed, we settled in for a chapter of Narnia, afterwhich songs were sung (Promised Land, Me and Bobby McGee and's that for sweet lullabyes?) and the kids were put to bed. As usual, N went down as quiet as ever and, as usual, M is still up there whimpering that she misses her mommy (D is still at the hospital) and that she can't sleep and yada yada yada. What I wouldn't give for her to start going to bed like her brother on a more regular basis. Admittedly, she has improved since I let her in on the secret of just saying "OK" when told that it was time for lights out. The secret is that she has the green light to finish reading the chapter, page, sentence, whatever it is that she was going to ask to finish, but that the lights should be out within the next five minutes. Giving her that little bit of self-authorization has led to much better vibes around the house come bedtime.

Day 25 - 03/17/2007

The St. Tim's fun fair was cancelled due to icy conditions in the parking lot. Instead, we went to the Poplar Tree fun fair. It turned out to be fine as M and N had just as much fun and we only stayed for an hour or so before heading back home (in the wind chilled air) to meet Doug, Nancy and Michael. (The kids were spending the night down there so D and I could go to Donna's party and not worry about the repercussions the next day.)

After we got home (and before D's folks got here), I went for a run. Five minute walk (~1/3 mile) followed by about four minutes of running (~2/3 mile). Repeat. My knee felt pretty good, but after I got home, I whacked it against a cabinet knob and that was all it needed. Hopefully it'll subside over the day so it's not bothersome during the party. I imagine there will be lots of craziness all around.

The party was a blast. Dancing, live music, pool, Foosball, food, beverages, incriminating pictures, jokes on the deck, party-goers taking off their clothes (well, an underskirt, but...). What more could you want? I wonder how Donna and Charlie felt the next day? Neither one were feeling any pain during the party, that's for sure!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Day 24 - 03/16/2007

The spring like weather left us last night and we woke up to rain, which turned to freezing rain, sleet and then snow throughout the day. So much for a warm weekend. Since I went in early (which I'm wont to do on Fridays), I left around 4p to go to the gym. For some reason they were closed. No advanced notice or note on the door, so who knows what's going on. Since I didn't get my workout in on Tuesday, I was sort of bummed, but at least I'll shoot for a run tomorrow (weather permitting).

I came home from work (in the freezing rain/sleet) and played Life instead. Before sitting down to play, I hit the basement and got a start at the weekend organization. I moved some Christmas decorations into a portico under the front hallway and rearranged some other stuff. Spying the cases of beer in the corner, I grabbed two bottles of homebrew and put them in the fridge for later on.

We played Life and D was tech support. We've decided that whoever is tech support will win, since they get $50k whenever someone skews the spinner, which happens quite often. Sure enough, she won. M and I didn't even bother going to Millionaire Estates as we both knew we didn't have anywhere near enough money to challenge her. Oh well, maybe next time.

Fast forward to after the kids are in bed and I decide to call my mom to help fix her printing issues. We (somehow) resolved those rather quickly and the conversation turned to clutter and the emotional duress it puts you under. The conversation was actually pleasant so I didn't push too hard on what she needs to do with the basement. After our conversation, I opened on of the beers that was chilling from earlier. Not so good -- down the drain it went. I opened the second one and found it to be just a little better. However, a little better than "tastes like crap" isn't too mouth-watering so I poured that one down the drain as well. I went out in the garage and was about to grab the Smithwick's Ale when I spied a beer Uncle Jim brewed for Aunt Ann for her retirement. Seeing as it's only been a few years, I figured that wouldn't be bad, so I brought that in and opened it up. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Very, very nice!

Day 23 - 03/15/2007

Had rehab again. Started out great, but left with discomfort. I made the mistake of telling Tia I was nearing the end, but of course overdid it and was left wondering whether I am done. That begin said, as the day went on, the discomfort subsided and, after I did my evening stretches, went away entirely. Good. Next Tuesday may be the last session (I also have one scheduled for next Thursday). We'll see how I do on my run this weekend before I know for sure.

In keeping with our intention of spending less money, I altered our car insurance to remove the comprehensive collision insurance on the Altima. It's coming up on 10 years old, so I would imagine that any serious type of damage that it might sustain in a wreck (where I was at fault) would far exceed the cost of the car and it would be considered totaled. By doing this, we were able to save $360 per year ($30/month). Add that to the $10 per month (estimated) we'll be saving from getting the employee discount w/ Verizon Wireless and we've already lopped off $40 in monthly expenses. Hooray! Next up on the list of things to change is satellite...egads -- did I just say that out loud?!? ~LOL~

We had some yummy pork chops for dinner. Pork chops and appleshawsh is actually what we had (but only if said like Peter Brady in that one Brady Bunch episode). And once one of us says it this way, the entire house breaks out in our best imitations. It's quite funny, especially to hear M & N do their version of it.

I was hoping the Office would be on after a few weeks off the air, but it wasn't. They're still running repeats, so we watched a couple of Rick Steves' Europe shows. Why is it that they're only aired during membership drives? I can always tell we're in the middle of fundraising season by what's airing (e.g., Charlie Pond, Suze Orman, Rick Steves or music from years ago). Thank goodness for Tivo.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 22 - 03/14/2007

Ran today and felt great. No pain in the knees (although there was some in the shin) for either the first 0.5 mile or the last ~0.6 (I did a total of 1.72 w/ a 0.3 mile walk to start and a 0.3 mile walk between the two runs per my therapy plan). I got home and iced it and will do some stretching in a bit. That light I saw the other day may in fact be the end of the tunnel. I am so looking forward to being able to run again. I would love to do another marathon, but if that's not possible, even being able to run five miles would be fine with me!

M still isn't done with her homework. Bedtime is typically around 8p (with books and songs she's up until around 845p). It's now going on 9p and she still hasn't gotten her pajamas on. Her stalling tactics are improving. I countered tonight's tactic by telling her she can't play outside (or inside) until she gets her homework done when she gets home from school. We'll see how long that lasts.

The weather looks like it'll be changing back to more seasonal temps soon. We've been experiencing temps in the 60s and 70s, which has made the middle of March a lot more pleasant than it typically is. Not to worry, however, I'm sure there's some bad weather coming our way. Hopefully we don't get any real bad storms this Spring. It's been a few years since we've had anything major, so maybe we're due (knock on wood that we're not).

Mundane items of interest include spaghetti for dinner with a side of garlic bread; lentil soup for lunch (with cashews and an apple -- the orange looked funky so it ended up in the trash) and a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Saw a woman cutting her hair in her car on the way to work this morning. I'm not sure why I was surprised about it, I mean, the car is the home away from home, right?

Day 21 - 03/13/2007

Had rehab. Based on the information I provided regarding my knee, Tia decided not to tape my knee and told me to head out for a run before my next appointment (Thursday). I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel, let's just hope it's not a train heading my way!

Since M wasn't feeling all that great and they spent the afternoon outside, D got a late start on dinner. I wasn't all that hungry anyway, so I opted out and was going to have cereal until I got an itch for eggs. I diced some potatoes and onions and sauteed them, adding some asparagus at the end. As a side (main dish?), I made an omelet and added some parmesan cheese. Yum. There's some extra in the fridge that I might have for lunch later this week (or dinner if D isn't in the mood to cook again).

We finally saw last week's Lost. D's losing the love and thought it was filler. I enjoyed it, although you have to wonder about Locke's intelligence at times. Or for that matter, the inability for ANY of the survivors to share information and/or ask questions. For that reason I can see why it turns people off. I'm looking forward to this week's episode.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day 20 - 03/12/2007

Slept in yesterday. The alarm went off at 640a and I crawled out of bed around 735a, went down the hall to wake M and N and then hit the shower. I'm guessing it was a mix of a lack of sleep over the weekend and the shift to DST. N didn't want to go to school and we were going to let him stay home as he's still a little sick (and it's preschool), but at the last minute, he changed his mind. He got dressed in a flurry and out the door we went. That being said, M was still grousing that N made us late (it was the first time she's EVER been late for school), even though she was still inside while he and I were in the car.

I think I passed the test I mentioned yesterday. My knee felt pretty good all day long and if I can keep this up, I'll be happy. My next rehab appointment will include me running on the treadmill w/ my knee taped to see if I can run pain free. If so, I'm beginning to think the end is near. Oh, the joy that brings me if I can only run the trails again! How I've missed running through ECL, especially up by the Visitor's Center. Just you and nature (and the sound of the traffic on 28 and the planes on approach to Dulles flying overhead). I can't wait.

The painters finished up the basement and it looks much different. There's now color and warmth and...that new paint smell. That will subside, yes, I'm aware of that, but now we need to get stuff on the walls. It looks so barren down there. We also need to tackle the bathroom as it really doesn't look nice compared with the rest of the basement. That's on the list of Spring chores to do, just like cleaning out the basement. One thing that keeps me from wanting to do chores like that is my knee. Whenever I do work around the house that requires stooping, bending, pushing, whatever, my knee starts to ache and I lose steam. Popping Advil will help alleviate the pain, but not the mental pain that I experience knowing that I'm not well yet. Alright, enough with the self-pity.

And now for some mundane items: refilled my prescription (but still need to pick it up); picked up N's jacket from Lori's (where he had left it when he and D went over in the afternoon); went to the gym for 30 minutes on the bike (but didn't lift as I got dizzy from what I'm guessing was low blood sugar); put the basement back together; watched a hokie documentary on the moon landing conspiracy and then went to bed around 10p. Like I said, mundane details about the day.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Day 19 - 03/11/2007

Ran with N down to the pond. Well, not all the way and he rode his bike. I felt pretty good yesterday after Friday's ski outing and felt I could test it better by hitting the trail today. I walked about 0.5 mile and then ran about the same. The first part felt pretty darn good. (I actually ran 0.25 yesterday as well, but that was to help N get home when he scratched his hand on the stick.) I then walked a bit, helping N get through some of the tougher parts of the trail where there were puddles. (Should he ever decide to remove his training wheels, he could go through them by himself!)

We finally got to the pond and did a slow lap around it. N wanted to get in the creek, but actually listened to me. We finally made it back to his bike and started heading back home. On the way we came across a side trail that he decided he wanted to investigate. He started riding up the hill and I ran alongside him. Not good. Apparently running up hill is more aggrevating than running on a somewhat level surface. Halfway up I decided to walk the rest of the way and ended up walking about 0.75 miles before I started up again.

Overall, I felt pretty good. Later on I got on the bike for a quick ride over to the pool with M and N and the Craig girls. The knee still felt good, so maybe I'm finally on the road to recovery. The true test, however, won't be until tomorrow, so maybe I shouldn't be posting this. We'll see.

The painter starts tomorrow on the basement. While I don't like the idea of paying someone what I could do in a week, I also don't relish the fact that it would take me a week to paint the basement. Not that it would be that difficult, it's just all the trim work. I'd be sore for quite some time. Oh well, at least it'll be done and then there'll only be three rooms left in the house to paint (which I should be able to tackle over the course of the next few months). Suprisingly enough, both D and I picked out the same color from the samples that I put up! Hooray!

Day 18 - 03/10/2007

Started Spring off right by getting the crabgrass shield down. I still have the mulch to get out; maybe I'll get to that Sunday afternoon (weather permitting). Afterwards I took M, N and Sarah to the playground where they let off some energy. Wanting to do something else, I suggested we go see the car in the woods (yes, not very exciting to you and me, but to a kid it's a whole 'nother story!). Since you really can't get to it in the summer due to all the undergrowth, I decided to investigate it. Into the woods I went and N followed along. On the way back out he tripped and cut his finger on a branch. He was pretty good about it until we got within sight of home, when he started crying. Once inside he locked himself in the bathroom until D could coax him out and get it cleaned off.

Oh yeah, and instead of donating unwanted stuff to Goodwill, my mom ships it to me for me to donate (or toss out, as the case may be). Yeah, like I really need to know how to fix a record player. This is 2006, not 1986!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 17 - 03/09/2007

Skiing was a blast. We got there around 1130a and by the time we got our equipment and lift tickets it was past the hour so we missed the first opportunity for a lesson. With that in mind, we went on the Launching Pad (sort of like a moving sidewalk, but on snow) and I tried to teach M the fundamentals of skiing. I quickly found out that this wasn't going to succeed so after a few runs, we sought out the instructors to get that lesson.

At Whitetail, there's a ski-school element that looks to be pretty successful. All day long classes are held on a ski-up basis (for those who've purchased the lessons). The classes are 1-3 skiers per instructor, giving the students a great chance to be singled out during the lesson.

M was a bit concerned on the drive up that she was going to be taking a lesson, because lessons were for babies. I tried to explain to her that beginners in any subject, no matter how old they were, needed to take lessons in order to be successful. Apparently something clicked (or maybe it was the snow and seeing bigger kids taking lessons) and she was more than willing to go with the instructor on her own. She and an 18 year old girl made up her class and the fact that the girl was in college really impressed her. I'm guessing she realized that what I was saying was true and she made the most of it. On the way home she said that the favorite part of her day was the lesson.

After she finished up the lesson, we hit the easy trails a few times and then stopped for lunch. Afterwards, seeing how good she was on the easy slopes, I suggested we head higher. The first run down she did great. Nice easy turns and then she started heading down She slowed herself down and stopped and then did the same thing again. This time she went the rest of the way down the slope. Wow. I was quite impressed. When asked if she wanted to do it again, she immediately answered "Yes!" So we did it again, but the outcome couldn't have been any different.

I guess the second time at the top, she realized how high up she was and saw how long the slope was and I think it spooked her. It was also a wee bit more crowded, so maybe that had something to do with it. Regardless of why, she no longer had the confidence she had before and before long she crashed. I righted her and we started back down whereupon she crashed...again. That was it. She was bawling about how she didn't want to ski anymore and here we were halfway up the mountain. (Mountain in the Mid-Atlantic sense that there's about 900+ feet vertical between the top and the bottom.) It was this crash that gave her one of the nastiest bruises I've seen in quite some time. I'm sure it's going to hurt for a the very least. I had to buddy ski her down the rest of the way, having her hold on to my poles as I snowplowed down the trail. (This was after I tried to hold her hand, which worked going side to side, but not in the turns.)

Not wanting this to be the last memory of the day, I sold her on the idea of hitting the easy slopes again. We did and she skied like there was no tomorrow and we stayed on the easy slopes for the rest of the day. She gained back whatever confidence she lost and was soon not only going up the lift by herself, she also went down the mountain by herself.

We got home around 940 and she crashed hard. Surprisingly enough (or not, considering she put forth a lot of energy yesterday), she's still asleep 12 hours later.

All in all it was a great day (the foray up to the blue squares notwithstanding). On the way home, she missed her geegee (what we refer to as her security blanket), so I had to distract her with music. She latched on to a couple of songs on the Traveling Tunes CD (#4) and we played them again and again and again and...well, you get the idea. Actually, it wasn't so bad as I like both songs (Depech Mode's "I Believe" and Barenaked Ladies "When You Dream"), so hearing them repeated was fine with me. I thought it was a great way to end a great day.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Day 16 - 03/08/2007

Two hours late?!? Are you kidding me?!?

I don't get it. We got about an inch or so of snow last night, most of the streets were clear and the schools have a two-hour delay? WTF?!? I left the house around 745a and didn't hit a single patch of slickness on the 5.25 mile commute to the office. Not one. Gotta love the local school board and their penchant for closing or delaying school at the slightest sign of impending doom brought on by the weather. (I know, I know, it's for the safety of our children!)

So I went to rehab this morning and asked my PT: What would you say if I told you I was going to take my daughter skiing tomorrow? She said: Have fun! Cool beans, that's what I wanted to hear.

I guess I promised M last summer we'd go skiing this year (she's never been) and she's not one to forget a promise (unless it's her promise to do something that she doesn't want to do). So since she's off school tomorrow (teacher workday) and things are somewhat slow at the office, it's the perfect opportunity. We'll leave here around 9a for a 90 min trip up north to Whitetail. It's not the best resort around, but it's close and since she's never skied before, it'll be good enough for her first time. She'll have a lesson then we'll probably break for lunch before spending the rest of the afternoon on the bunny slopes. If she feels up to it, we'll upgrade her lift ticket for the blue square slopes. It should be fun.

Tonight I'm supposed to head over to Sweetwater for a beer or two w/ Larry, but he hasn't called yet. He's heading to Cancun on Saturday and needs to get some packing done, so we'll see what happens. My money is on him showing up; he's not one for passing up a beer at Sweetwater.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Day 15 - 03/07/2007

Scientists say that it all began with the Big Bang theory. While that may well be, what was there before the Big Bang. Nothing? If so, how could something come from nothing? Wait a minute, I thought energy could neither be created nor destroyed, just transferred from one form to another. Oh, you mean everything was squeezed into singularity? Well, how did it get to that singular point? What caused it? Why did it happen?

Just something to think about as you lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the events of the day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Day 14 - 03/06/2007

I am soooooooooo sleepy these days. I can barely make it to 10p anymore...even after getting up at 7a! And the sleep that I get?!? It's nothing but the best! USDA Grade A! And the dreams that go with them? Vivid. Real. Wacky.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Day 13 - 03/05/2007

Mundane goings on in my world. There's a strange odor emanating from M's closet and I have no idea what it could be. The outside of the house looks intact and the attic looks normal as well. (Of course, I'm not too sure what and "abnormal" attic would look like anyway, so take the preceding sentence with a grain of salt.)

D wants me to open up the space behind the closet (e.g., cut a hole in the drywall) to see what's back there. From what I can tell, there should be a triangular shaped dead space behind the closet that may (or may not) indicate what the problem is. If I can't find anything, I'll then be stuck w/ a repair required in the closet where I cut out the drywall. Thinking about it further, there could be a way for an animal to get in there, but it would have to be a small animal (e.g., a mouse or a skink). The only way I could think of is if it crawled inside the dryer vent and then up the siding to the dead space behind the closet and then expired. Egads. I really don't want to discover that behind the closet!

That's my task for tomorrow night after getting home from work. I'll open up the closet and see what I can find. I'm not sure whether I'd rather find a dead animal or find mold. At least you can clean up an animal carcass pretty easily compared to remediating mold issues.

Day 12 - 03/04/2007

N is still sick. He was pretty much out of commission all day long. I went to Mass at 1045 and then D and M went at 1230 while I stayed home w/ N. He wanted to watch a show, so I put on Tom and Jerry for him. I wasn't feeling all that hot (not sure if it was a bug or just being tired from staying up too late and getting up too early) and I promptly fell asleep on the couch with him. He'd wake me up after the cartoon was over so I could fast forward the commercials. Ahhhhh, Tivo, you've got to love it!

After Mass, D and M came home and found me crashed on the couch. Shortly thereafter, we were both crashed and they had a girls afternoon playing in M's room (or was it cleaning her room?).

N finally woke up and went up to his room and I slept some more on the couch. After a while, we all plopped ourselves on the couch and watched the remake of "The Shaggy Dog." It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (although some parts of it I could've done without) and I'm actually looking forward to the sequel (I'm guessing they'll call it "The Shaggy D.A.", but that's just a guess). M and N loved it, however, and I'm pretty sure we'll see it once (if not twice) more at some point between now and Saturday when we have to return it.

The rest of the day was spent vegging. I was pretty beat from the weekend (not sure why other than staying up too late) and once the kids were dressed, read them a chapter from Narnia and sent them to bed. Once they were down, I did my knee exercises, scooped up some ice cream and settled into the couch to catch up on some shows. (Have I mentioned the beauty of Tivo?)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Day 11 - 03/03/2007

Well, N's birthday went off without a hitch...sort of. He came down with a fever during the party and once the bowling was over, he wasn't himself. No pizza. No cake. He didn't even blow out his candle. When it was all said and done, he probably won't remember much of it anyway, but still, it would've been nice if he could've enjoyed the day in the here and now.

Since he's feeling a bit under the weather, we decided to have a low-key night and M, N and I went out to pick up a movie while D stayed home and relaxed amidst the post-birthday mess. We picked up the remake of "The Shaggy Dog" and then some Baja Fresh for dinner (love their fish tacos!). M decided after she had two bites of her chicken taco and a few chips that she was full and that it was now time for the movie, complete w/ popcorn. One thing led to another and the next thing we know, she's pitching holy hell in the family room and gets sent to her room, all the while ranting and raving about what she thinks of her parents. About two minutes later the reality of what she just did hits her and a voice came from her bedroom asking, very timidly, if we could come up and talk with her.

Not so fast, young lady.

About 15 minutes of her stewing in her room, we invite her back down and have a lengthy discussion about her behavior. We'll see where this lands us. She lost accessing Webkinz for the next week and if her behavior doesn't improve by next weekend (e.g., if she has another outburst), it's for the rest of the month. Ouch.

On a completely unrelated subject, I'm having issues w/ connecting to my websites via FrontPage. Not sure why. All of a sudden it just stopped working. I'm somewhat confused as the last time I tried to connect there were no issues and nothing's been done to change the configuration. I'm about to troubleshoot the situation and (hopefully) resolve the issue. I discovered that when I last updated my primary site, I inadvertently introduced a style-sheet error where the header isn't displayed on some of the pages. Whoops.

Day 10 - 03/02/2007

Decorated N's cake last night. I'll post pics of it once they're uploaded. M had it in her head that it was going to be her way no matter what. My attempts at trying to do things "in an orderly fashion" were seen as ways to undermine her design. I guess that's just part of being a kid.

My mom came over w/ N's presents. She's now two-for-two on arriving right about dinner time on a Friday night. I wonder if next will will be three-for-three. Hmmmm.....I'd better go check the calendar to see what we have going on.

I also picked up our new camcorder yesterday. Played around with it last night and am looking forward to seeing it in action. One of these days I'll have to suffer through the task of transferring our tapes to DVDs. I'm soooooooo not looking forward to that endeavor!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Day 9 - 03/01/2007

Went back to rehab this evening after (not really) suffering all day. My therapist said my tendon looked good, but agreed that the fat pads could be the culprit. what. I guess I'll run through the next course of PT and hope that it'll help things out. If not, it's back to the orthopaedist for a followup visit and discuss the next steps. I want to feel normal again and be able to run, dammit!

Afterwards I got home and D and I iced the bowling pin cookies for N's party on Saturday. I'll put the red stripe around the next tomorrow night after M and I decorate the cake. This should be interesting (to say the least).

This afternoon M had a Patriotic Pageant at school. They sang a bunch of patriotic songs with some commentary from some of her classmates in between. I'm glad I was able to go, although I wish she had a speaking part. Oh well, maybe next time.

We caught Lost tonight. Another filler episode that we found to do nothing to further the story (except when we were shown the promo for next week -- which looks good). Oh well, at least we don't have to suffer through repeats and dead weeks anymore. I guess that's a good thing. Right?

Day 8 - 02/28/2007

Went out for a run last night (well, walk-run-walk-run) after feeling great all day and felt pretty good during and after the run. Well, during the first run portion there was some discomfort, but it was very brief and was pretty much non-existent during the second run. Overall went 1.8+ miles (running for about half of that).

When I got home, though, walking up the driveway was slightly uncomfortable. I iced it and went upstairs and then to bed. This morning I woke up and felt good until I started walking on it. We'll see what Day 9 brings.