Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day 252 - 10/30/2007

Like the field trip yesterday, the game that was rained out was rescheduled for today. It's the second to last game of the season and the kids are looking forward to it. Or that's the impression I'm going with (when I said there were only two games left, the reaction seemed to be mixed in that half of them were were happy about that and the other half were non-committal). Oh well, at least I can say they had fun. (They might not have had fun, but I can say they did!)

The game started at 5p and we rushed it along as daylight is getting short as we head into November. Originally, I didn't like the idea of having Daylight Saving Time end in November vs. October, but had it done so, we'd be done with our season. Anyway, we played quickly and the kids made a few outs in the field (which is always nice) and the game was over in just over an hour. My only question was how come we couldn't play speed-games like that during the rest of the season?!?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day 251 - 10/29/2007

The field trip scheduled for last Thursday was rescheduled for today, so after dropping the kids off, instead of going to work, I hit the coffee store and headed back to the school to chaperon N on his field trip.

We got on the buses and headed over to Cox Farm. Upon our arrival, we were told we'd have to wait in the buses until the park opened at 10a (it was 930a when we arrived). Oh well, at least I got to sit in the bus with the rest of the chaperons while the kids yelled and screamed. We were finally able to get off and we went on a hay ride. There was really nothing special about the hay ride and I was glad to get off as I had to find a bathroom.

We only had three hours there since today was a short day, so N and I made the most of it. He really didn't want to hang out with his friends except towards the end, so we went off on our own. And since most of the other boys' parents were chaperoning, I didn't have to worry about anyone but N. Which was good, because even with only having to watch over him, I still lost track of him a few times. (I'm sure his teacher wouldn't have been happy with me had I really lost him!)

After a day of fun, we got back on the buses to head back to school where I signed him out and headed home for the day. I worked the rest of the day from home and then stayed up to watch the Packers beat up on the Broncos. I was able to squeak out a victory as the two players on the opposing team weren't able to get a combined 24 points. I'm now 5-3 and am looking to continue this streak as we head towards the playoffs.

Oh yeah, while I was watching football, I played my guitar (but that goes without saying!).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 250 - 10/28/2007

So last night ended up being a late night and this morning was an early one. I suffer from "not being able to fall back asleep" syndrome. That's what you call it when you wake up and, regardless of when you went to bed the night before, you're unable to go back to sleep. Oh well, at least it gave me some time to take care of some Number Nine Software business (which is still capturing sales, just not as many as I'd like to see).

With Rudy back in the hospital, we decided to make a visit today, not only to see him, but also to provide support to mom. I'm sure it's hard on her being in the hospital with him pretty much 24/7 while he's there. Since D's knee is still bothersome, I dropped her and the kids off and met them inside. After parking the car, I met them and we headed up to his room. The kids made him some Halloween decorations to (hopefully) brighten his room and they appear to have done the trick.

After a visit with him, we made our way to the cafeteria before I realized that the long walk probably wasn't the best thing for D's knee, so we turned around and went to the snack shop. However, by the time we got back there, the snack shop had closed so the kids and I made the trek down to the cafeteria and brought food back for D and mom. After we ate, we stopped back in to say goodbye to Rudy and made our way back home. Dave was coming over for dinner and we needed to get home to get ready for that.

Our visit with Dave was a good one. Not only did he help the kids carve a pumpkin, he got schooled in memory by N (who just happens to be really good at memory!). After dinner he showed us some of the pictures he took while in Iraq. Seeing the country in a personal way such as these pictures really brought home that what's being done over there is a good thing. While I don't think a culture a thousand years in the making can be changed overnight, with time progress can be made and good things will come.

During our visit I had the football games on in the background and was excited to see that I was doing pretty good in my game. Of course, seeing the Redskins go down 52-7 didn't help me as a fan, but it did help me win my game (I have the Pats DST).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Day 249 - 10/27/2007

The kids' games were rained out. Well, not really rained out as it had stopped raining by game time, but the rains we got this week really put a damper on the fields (no pun intended). With that in mind, we had the day to ourselves. We started carving pumpkins as I had promised the kids we'd do that this weekend (they wanted to do it earlier, but with the warm weather we've been having, they'd be rotten by Halloween!). This year I picked up a pumpkin carving kit so that we could get a little fancy with our pumpkins (vs. the ordinary Jack-o-Lanterns of yore). N picked out a pirate ship and M picked out a cat in the window. We were only able to get N's done today as it took longer than I thought it would.

We finished just in time to get cleaned up for Mass. We decided to go this evening (vs. tomorrow) as D and I are heading to a Halloween Party tonight and I don't know how late the night will be. Before leaving for Mass, however, we got word that Rudy is back in the hospital. He's been stabilized, but they're not sure when he'll be able to be discharged. One of the things he's suffering from is limited kidney functions (~15% last time they checked). His doctors want to start dialysis, but given his overall condition, it'll be a few months before he'll be strong enough to start. That being said, he was in our prayers during intentions.

After Mass, we stopped off and got some dinner for the kids (we'd eat at the party) and went home to get our costumes on.

We teamed up with our neighbors to go as members of High School Musical. D and I went as Sharpay and Ryan (respectively) and Molly and Ted went as Gabriella and Troy. By ourselves (with the exception of Ted), you couldn't tell who we were supposed to be, but as a group it became obvious. I'll let you judge for yourselves after I add a picture.

As it turned out, the evening did get rather late. We ended up heading home around 1230a or so (and we were some of the first to leave). Like last year, most of the people went all out and put a lot of thought into their costumes. There was a potted plant and a bee, Susie Who and the Grinch, Michael Vick and his dog (actually there were two of these), a couple guys came with their dicks in a box (separately, not together, which made it even funnier), a pregnant woman came dressed as a bun in the oven, a couple came as a traveling Tiki Bar and of course there were the superheroes and cheerleaders.

I can't wait until next year to see how people are able to top themselves.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Day 248 - 10/26/2007

So after a late night last night, I planned on taking it easy and getting to bed early. That didn't happen, however as when we sat down for dinner, my mom called asking for a ride home. She ran into a pot hole and got two flat tires on her way home. Being the good son that I am, I packed the kids into the van (not only to give them some time with their grandmother and Rudy, but also to give D some alone time) and away we went.

When we got there mom was inside the gas station (where she had parked the car) chatting up someone on the cell phone. Rudy was in the car and he looked pretty tired. After transferring him into the van, we chatted briefly before he started asking the kids questions about school. Ten minutes later we're still in the car and she's still on the phone (we later found out she was coordinating with the towing company). She finally got everything wrapped up with the call and we started the process of transferring in the important things from her car to the van. Stuff like Splenda packets, maps, old receipts; you know, pretty much what you wouldn't want sitting in your unlocked car for the few hours it would take for the tow truck to arrive.

While she was doing that, Rudy started complaining about his chest and just not feeling well. He's approaching 90 and has been in the hospital a couple times in the past month or so. He mentioned that he was just tired all the time and didn't know how much more he could take. It sounded to me that he was tossing in the towel. Not being sure what to say, I tried to lighten the tone a little bit, but I don't think that worked. When mom finally got in the car, she asked him whether he was praying (I couldn't tell what he was doing as he was in the back seat).

I took them home and got them (and their automobile treasures) inside before heading back home. After putting the kids to bed, I shared with D the events of the evening, including Rudy's comment. Hopefully it was just the result of him being frustrated with his health issues and not a sign that he's giving up. After tonight I better understand the lyrics from The Who's "My Generation" where Roger Daltrey "hope[s he] dies before [he] get[s] old."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 247 - 10/25/2007

N was supposed to have his field trip today, but it was rained out (he was supposed to go to Cox Farm). Hopefully they'll be able to reschedule (for his sake), but since I'm covering D in the chaperone department, I wouldn't mind it if it wasn't able to be rescheduled.

So, instead of spending a day at Cox Farm, it was spent watching the rain come down. Rain is something we're in short supply of in these parts. We've had drought conditions the better part of the year (I think we're about 10" below normal as of this month) and we desperately need the rain. Some of us in the neighborhood have been keeping our lawns healthy by watering them, but even that's not enough (I've been watering the yard every few days because I'm too cheap and/or lazy to water it every night.)

After work I hit the gym and then headed over to Bungalow's for happy hour. There was nothing to celebrate, other than it being a Thursday. When I got there I immediately joined the pool queue and ended up going 4-0 before we decided to call it quits.

One thing I like about happy hour at Bungalow's is the large Guinness. Sure, they're $8 each, but they go down smooth and easy.

An old colleague was there and it appears he may be coming back. His new job isn't all it's cracked up to be (I guess he didn't believe the old adage about grass and the other side of the fence). Unfortunately he won't be coming back to our group, but to another one. At least he'll be able to put his product knowledge to work out in the line organizations.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day 246 - 10/24/2007

Another uneventful day in Northern Virginia with nothing exciting to report.

Well, nothing exciting other than picking up Smokey from the vet. He's now been fixed and his claws have been removed. Hopefully this will have a positive impact on the relationship between him and Butterfly. if not, it's $500 down the drain. At least he won't claw up the furniture anymore!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 245 - 10/23/2007

I met Dad for lunch today and was happy to see he brought along Dave as a surprise guest. He surprised me when I went to get in the front seat and there he was. We enjoyed the extra company at lunch (Preet Palace in Centreville vs. Sho Chiku for sushi -- Sho Chiku is getting a facelift and will [hopefully] continue to provide excellent sushi at reasonable prices. For the better part of the hour, Dave filled us in on what's going on in Iraq (as well as catching us up on his family). It was good to see him; I'm looking forward to having him over for dinner on Sunday to continue catching up.

One thing I don't like about Preet is the smell that persists after you leave. I'm pretty sure it's the grease that's hanging in the air as when we go elsewhere for Indian food, we leave without any lingering odors on our clothes (unless, of course, we spill on said clothes).

All day long it was threatening to rain. I'm sure I wasn't alone in hoping for rain, but it was not to be: the weather didn't cooperate so the kids had practice. I was hoping it was going to rain as I wasn't looking forward to N's practice. However, after all was said and done, I'm glad we did have it as it was pretty productive. We did some fielding work before scrimmaging against each other. It turned out one group of kids had hats and the other ones didn't so they were labeled the "hats" vs. "no hats" (which the liked).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 244 - 10/22/2007

I dropped off Smokey this morning to get him declawed and fixed. He wasn't too happy when I put him in his porter (the way it was rocking and being pushed all over the hallway, it looked as if we had captured a rabid raccoon or something!). When I got him to the vet, the receptionist asked me if we could weigh him. I suggested they wait until he was sedated before attempting that. Or at least wait until after his claws have been removed. Hopefully this will cause him to tone it down a little and not be such a spaz.

I went to the gym after work and added a new machine to my routine. I think I overdid it as when I got home and got ready for bed, my shoulders were beginning to ache. I popped a few Advil, but am guessing I'll need more in the coming days (at least until I hit the gym again).

As for Peyton scoring 36, that didn't quite happen. I ended up losing 75-62. Unfortunately, the waiver wire is full of slim pickings so I'll have to rely on what I have so far. If only I had picked up the Giants defense (instead of the Chiefs). And Randy Moss. And a decent running back. That's alright, the season's only half over before the playoffs start. If I can go 4-1 over the course of the next five weeks I should be able to make the playoffs. (Heck, even if I go 3-2, I should still be able to make it...depending on the other folks, of course!)

Day 242 - 10/20/2007

We had back to back games again this morning. N's was at 10a and M's was at noon. Both of them did alright, but you can tell they're also looking forward to the season being over. I guess that makes three of us. While I enjoy helping out, it just seems as if the season just drags on forever. If they were both excited about their games and practices that'd be one thing, but both of them try and get out of going. I guess their enthusiasm is contagious.

I went of a run this afternoon and my knees are continuing to feel good. This time I hit the trail for a run in the woods and made my way over to the Visitor's Center. I was planning on heading back to the North Trail Loop, but I decided to cut it short and head home instead. I was coming up on 20 minutes at the Visitor's Center and wanted to be back in 30-35 minutes. I headed through Walney Park to a cut-through back over to our neighborhood that I've heard about but, as it turns out, the cut-through was not to be. The new owner removed the walkway and put up landscaping (and No Trespassing signs) to prevent people from walking through their yard. The previous owner had no problems allowing people to walk between the two streets and wondered aloud why there wasn't a sidewalk put in to allow access. I don't blame the new owner for not wanting strangers beating a path through their yard, but I needed to get home. I was overheated and ready to call it quits, so I found another way. Other than that, the run was a good one. This is the second run I've had this week and hopefully I'll be able to keep this up next week as well.

Tonight was our bowling league's costume party. We decided to dress up as walking wounded as a show of support for D. She's not sure whether it's our way of supporting her or mocking her, but we all had a good laugh out of it. Actually, the four of us represented only one of the four teams that dressed up (out of 28 teams). It seems the fun times had by all in previous seasons is waning.

The other team wasn't there, so we had to bowl blind. Add that to having D out and our games flew by. Had we not stopped for 30 minutes between the second and third games, we could've been out of there by 9p.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Day 241 - 10/19/2007

I went out in the community today: I volunteered to help plant trees at Ellanor C. Lawrence park through our Service Days initiative at work. We met at the visitor's center and hiked back to the clearing where we'd be planting the trees. All in all, there were about 25 of us (with about 5 from my immediate office park) and we were able to plant about 100 trees (at least). It rained off and on throughout the morning, which felt pretty good since it cooled us off a bit.

Afterwards, I met Frank over at Willard's for lunch (after stopping by the house to change). I hadn't been there in a while and enjoyed every bit of it. We caught up on stuff and went our separate ways: he back to the office and I headed back home.

After a few hours working from home, I drove D to the doctor's office for a follow up for her knee. It's been a week since she had her fall and every day it seems to be a little better than before. I know it's going to take a while for it to return to normal, but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. I'd hate for her to be still nursing it once the weather turns and winter arrives.

Day 240 - 10/18/2007

This morning, for the first time in I don't know how long, I went for a run. Even though it was only 5k+, it still felt great.

M went on a field trip to Williamsburg and was being picked up at 620a so I got up with her and got her out the door. Afterwards, I headed out the door myself. I didn't get that much of a warmup in before starting my run, so I thought my knee would remain tight, but I made pretty good time. (I wasn't trying for anything in particular, just to feel good.)

Hopefully this will be the start of something somewhat regular. I'd love to be able to run 3-4x per week, but I'm in no hurry. I don't have any race plans on the horizon, so what I'm doing now (along with the gym) should help to keep me at somewhat healthy level.

As it turned out, Josh was in Williamsburg today as well. When M got home I asked her if she saw him, but their paths didn't cross. Oh well, maybe some other time.

Day 239 - 10/17/2007

Try as I might, I can't come up with anything interesting that happened today, so I won't try and pretend something did just to bore you with the details.

Let's just leave it at mundane, shall we?

Day 238 - 10/16/2007

I dropped the kids off early since I had a doctor's appointment this morning. Well, I tried anyway. As it turned out, I was right on time.

I talked with Dr. Carter about everything and then had my blood checked. As it turned out, my cholesterol is still outside the recommended range (108 vs. <100), but it's still lower than it was when I first started getting it monitored. As long as I can continue this downward trend, I should be able to stay off the cholesterol meds.

At lunch I headed over for my guitar lesson. After a while of waiting for the instructor to get the CD player ready, I had all of 15 minutes before it was time to head out. Gary let the lesson overrun though, since he started late (and, like I said, had a hard time getting the CD player working). Once he got that going, however, we started jamming. I was actually able to play "Lookin' Out My Back Door" along with him (and CCR). In addition to getting down the chords, I was successful in playing with the capo. (I'll need to get another one that's easier to use.) After I got home I showed off my newly discovered skills to D and the kids. They weren't as impressed as I was, but that's alright (I don't blame them!).

We had a game tonight, but N was acting out and I made the executive decision to keep him home. I don't think he cared about it anyway. Instead, I made him come with me to M's softball practice. I'm sure he didn't like that, but that's alright, he wasn't going to stay at home either.

Day 243 - 10/21/2007

M had a Girl Scout outing in the morning, so we went to 530p Mass. After she returned from her outing, I took the kids up to the school to work on their hitting. Both of them need help and since we had a few hours, I figured we might as well get some hitting practice while the weather's still nice.

When we got there, Tim and Julia were up there as well so they joined us on the diamond. Tim's son Sam is on N's team and Julia's just about M's age (and also plays softball). Although N never got a hit, he did get to work on his swing a bit. M hit a few of the baseballs, but missed all the softballs. I'm not sure how that happened as the size difference is pretty substantial.

Since we were heading to Mass at 530p, we went ahead and ate early before heading to church.

After church, I checked my score and wasn't happy to see that I was down by 35. I still have Peyton playing tomorrow night, but he'd have to score 36 (and my opposing team's member wouldn't have to score anything). It's possible, but not promising. It looks like I'm going to slip another game back and finish the week at 4-3. I guess time will tell.

Day 237 - 10/15/2007

As it turned out, I did end up losing. I wonder if I can learn from my mistakes this year (e.g., drafting a quarterback vs. a running back in the first round) or whether I'll continue to jump at the chance to get a top-notch quarterback.

Not that Peyton has been lighting it up this year like he's done in years past. I should have picked up Brady instead, but at this point, that's neither here nor there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 236 - 10/14/2007

Even though we left on time, I was still late to Evan's baptism. I dropped D and the kids off and parked the car. I stopped by the bathroom before heading into the church and found the ceremony already starting. (I thought it was for 1145a vs. right after 1030a Mass). Fortunately I didn't miss much. Evan was pretty good during the ceremony. Well, until he got hungry and started exercising his lungs asking for a bottle. Afterwards, we went over to The Sunken Well for lunch.

The Sunken Well is a place near Stephen and Stacey's house that they frequent quite a bit. The nice thing about it is that it's within walking distance from their house (five minutes, tops), so it appears it's become a neighborhood hangout. That's a nice amenity to have and one thing I don't like about living in suburbia. Sure, there's community built within the confines of the neighborhood, but there's really nothing within walking distance. I could ride my bike, but most people simply get in their car and drive. If there was something within walking distance, it would allow people to get out into the streetscape and provide them with the opportunity to meet their neighbors vs. stuck inside 2000+ pounds of steel while driving from point to point.

Oh well, as we discussed with Peg and Michael (Evan's Godparents), there's a lot of quality in our lives from the choices we've made. They're right, we're fortunate to have the life we do. I wouldn't call it lucky as it didn't just fall into our laps, we worked hard to get where we are, giving up on some other things in order to obtain what we feel is important.

After lunch we headed over to Doug and Nancy's house for her to pack before we headed back home. D asked Nancy to come up for a few days until she was back on her feet in order to help her out around the house while I'm at work. We hit the road and were greeted with a backup on Route 3 in order to get on 95. Traffic was at a standstill heading south, but even northbound appeared to be stopped. With that in mind, we headed up 17 to 29 to take the back way.

I checked out my Fantasy Football team when I got home expecting to see some great points, but I was disappointed. I had high hopes after seeing Brett Favre play a terrible game against the 'Skins (scoring only 5 points) and hoping Kurt Warner tossing the ball about would prove my coaching genius (I had started Warner over Favre). As I said, I was disappointed. Warner was injured in the second series of the game and scored -1 points. It also looks like he's out for the season. I also lost Sammy Morris and Ron Dayne to injuries. Oh well, at least my decision on which kicker to start paid off (11 points with Ramsey vs. 8 with Graham). That being said, my other decision (to pick up Dayne vs. Wright) cost me 12 points. That wouldn't have won the game for me anyway as the Drew Brees of last year showed up to play against Seattle and pretty cemented the outcome. Unless Plaxico Burress has a phenomenal game Monday night, the game is all but lost. Oh well, at least I'm still above .500 and my starting QB (Peyton) is back next week (in addition to the Pats D playing the Dolphins). Hopefully I'll start a new winning streak next Sunday.

After dinner and getting the kids to bed, I hit the basement to play guitar. I haven't gotten as much playing time as I had hoped over the past week due to one reason or another, but I was able to figure out "Lookin' Out My Back Door" after only 20 minutes of trying. I still need to figure out the bridge between the third and fourth verse, but if I skip over that, I'm golden! (And it actually sounds right!)

Day 235 - 10/13/2007

D's leg is still in bad shape, although it's a little better than yesterday. (I emphasize little as she says it's a little better and I would imagine it is. That doesn't mean she's still not in pain whenever she moves it or it's bumped though.)

So, with her stuck at home (I took the van so she couldn't be tempted to leave the house -- there's no way she'd be able to operate the clutch on the Altima without extreme pain), I took the kids to their games. N's was at 10a and M's was at noon. Heather picked M up from N's game and then after his game, we went to her game to see the rest of her game. She ended up getting a hit (yay!) and went on to score the winning run (again, yay!). After the game, she went over to Riley's house and N and I headed home.

We had originally planned on going to Oktoberfest at Hard Bargain Farm, but with D's leg (and Evan's Christening tomorrow), plans were changed. Instead we went to Mass at 530p. The three of us (M, N and I) were barely able to make it through the Mass without closing our eyes. N did fall asleep at one point. I'm not sure why, but we were all out of it. Maybe it had something to do with the change in weather that brought low humidity and dehydrated us. Or maybe because we were tired.

After Mass, we stopped by Baja Fresh for some take-out. Heather and I were talking about food during the game and this was one of the places we touched upon. I opted for the grilled veggie burrito vs. the fish tacos, which is what I usually get, and N got a chicken quesadilla. I was expecting him to give pushback once we got home about eating that, but with enough ketchup, even a chicken quesadilla tastes good to his discriminating palate. (M, on the other hand, has no problems eating food from Baja Fresh. She loves Mexican food.)

After dinner (and after putting the kids to bed), D and I hung on the couch and watched "The Office" on Tivo before calling it quits. We have to get up early tomorrow and hit the road in time to get down to Fred for Evan's Baptism (tentatively scheduled to start shortly after the 1030a Mass).

Day 234 - 10/12/2007

D fell in the bathroom this morning and either sprained her left knee really, really bad or tore her left MCL.

She was rudely awoken at 5a by Butterfly, who was beginning to wretch. Since Butterfly sleeps above D's head, D grabbed her and headed to the bathroom so that she'd get sick in there instead. She was successful in that endeavor, however, that was also the cause of her fall. Butterfly let if fly as they entered the bathroom and D stepped right in it, causing her to go down hard.

I took her to Dr. Aguiar's office later on and she was relieved to hear that surgery is probably out of the question (the MRI will be the final determination). He gave her a knee brace and crutches, but for the time being, she's going to have to stay off of it.

That night I took the kids to movie night at the school. D was going to take them but given her condition, she opted to stay home (as if she had a choice!). This year they showed "A Night at the Museum." It was alright, although the kids seemed to enjoy it. (Well, at least while they were watching it. A lot of time was spent running around the gym vs. watching the movie.)

Day 233 - 10/11/2007

Yay. I'm finally back to feeling like myself. I got a good night's rest last night and am ready to face the day. Of course, this feeling was short lived as I then went to Happy Hour for a going away party for a colleague.

After getting the kids processed and put to bed, I wasn't ready for that myself so I headed to the basement for a little guitar. The latest song I'm trying to learn "Lookin' Out My Back Door" (another CCR tune). I spent all of five minutes on it before I gave up and started focusing on "Proud Mary". I'm still struggling on the transition between the G and the F in the intro, but it's getting better. I also need to work on the A to Bm transition during the chorus, as well as the solo. Both should come with time with enough practice.

Which reminds me of the old joke about the tourist lost in New York, trying to find Carnegie Hall.

"Uh, excuse me sir," he says to a man on the street, "how do I get to Carnegie Hall?"

"Practice, practice, practice," the man replied.

Even that couldn't keep me going and after a while, I gave up and went upstairs to see if D wanted to watch "The Office" on Tivo. I was too late: She was done and we both hit the land of Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod.

Day 232 - 10/10/2007

N is still sick today so we skipped practice. Unfortunately, practice was changed from on the field to a facility called Frozen Ropes that just opened up in Chantilly. It would've been great for him to go as they provide better instruction in hitting than his coaches (e.g., the dads who volunteered and who may or may not have any baseball experience, and even if they do have experience, that doesn't mean it will translate into good coaching skills).

That worked fine for me anyway as it gave the the chance to continue recovering from the weekend. Yes, I'm still tired. This getting old thing sure takes the fun out of burning the candle at both ends over the weekend.

Day 231 - 10/09/2007

Is it 9p yet? Wow, I really burned the candle at both ends this weekend. I struggled to get out of bed and struggled even more to stay awake during the day. I'm really looking forward to get back to bed. It will be nice and comfy.

N's practice was postponed until tomorrow, which means he won't miss it. He's still running a low-grade fever from his ear infection and cough he had over the weekend. In addition to the ear infection, he's probably got something viral that just needs to run its course. Hopefully he'll be back to normal tomorrow.

So, instead of practice, I mowed the yard. I love doing yard work. It's such an easy job, yet when done well, it gives you a good feeling once it's over. The yard is nice and neat, the edges along the sidewalk straight and the clippings swept off the driveway. The hour or so it takes to mow the yard also provides me with some time to think. Sometimes I'll think about what things I need to get done for iTriTracker or Melon, other times I plan out dinner or hold a conversation I need to have with someone. Regardless, it's quality alone time. My ears are plugged up to reduce the noise from the mower and it's just me in my own little world.

I'd love to give it all up and mow lawns for a living, but I don't think I'd be able to support our lifestyle on a gardener's salary.

Day 230 - 10/08/2007

The weekend is over and the drive home began. Unfortunately, there were lapses in communication and it took us longer to get home than I had hoped. We had to stop by Fred to pick up the kids (N was feeling better, but not by much) and then stop by Spur Road to drop off Caroline.

When we finally got home, we got settled in and got the kids to bed. Tomorrow is going to be tough getting the kids back on schedule so we tried to get them to bed early.

I hit the basement to catch up on football and was pleasantly surprised to see that Romo wasn't doing anything close to what he's done thus far this year. That's good for me as even up by 47 points I didn't think I had the game in the bag. Fortunately he tossed up five pickles (two of which were returned for TDs) and couldn't generate any offense to speak of. I guess it was just meant to be that I was going to win this weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day 229 - 10/07/2007

Sunday morning was a lazy one. We all slept in (well, at least some of us did) before heading out to the kayak trip. I read about the tour in a Washington Post article back in the Spring and as soon as I read it, I knew it should be something we did during the weekend.

We arrived a little early (I was hoping there would be more of an area to explore on our own, but it didn't meet expectations) and Dave (our guide) was a little late. There was a communication breakdown between him and his staff: he thought we were meeting on the main road vs. down by the water.

After a brief lesson on the basics of kayaking, we hit the water, most of us paddling slowly as we got the hang of the boats. (I was in a tipsy boat that I swear had a rudder causing me to turn left regardless of which side I paddled on. It wasn't until we were heading back to the car that I found the secret to paddling properly and actually started making headway!) We arrived at the winery (taking our time getting there) and left the kayaks on the shore while we walked to the warehouse type building that made up the winery facility. After a quick tasting of the five varietals, we packed up and were about to head back to the water to paddle over to Rabbit Island to enjoy the wine when D suggested we hit the patio instead. There were a few chairs in the shade overlooking the winery and we stayed in that spot for the next two bottles of wine, chatting about all sorts of topics and enjoying the afternoon.

Instead of enjoying the third on on the porch, I suggested we head to the island for the last bottle, so back to the water we went. For some reason everything went much smoother and everyone was more relaxed. Maybe it had something to do with the wine.

On shore D and I wandered around the acre sized island, exploring here and there and looking for birds. I never found a bird, but I did find the toilet!

After circumnavigating the island, I found myself back where we landed and, after snapping a few group shots, we headed back to the car for the trip back to town.

Overall it was a great weekend. For the most part we all got along and (I hope) all had a great time. However, there were times when personalities clashed and tensions were escalated. I guess that goes without saying when different personality types are together 24/7 for days at a time. Although the scheduled down time this morning would have allowed everyone to get some time alone and apart from the group, I guess it didn't work out as I had hoped. Maybe next year will be different. I doubt it, but I can only hope.

Day 228 - 10/06/2007

This morning we had the Run for the Birds 5k race. We left the house about 845a and were at the race at 9a, giving us plenty of time to change into our costumes and warm up for the race. Once we were ready, we headed over to the staging area where we got all kinds of looks from the other spectators. I'm not really sure why they were gawking, maybe it was because they felt embarrassed that they forgot to wear their costumes. Or was it us who were out of place? Take a look at the picture below and decide for yourself (that's Senator Nick Rerras in the middle of the flock, by the way):

As you can see, we dressed for the part. Fortunately, the plumage didn't cause any of us to slow down too much (the heat and the soft ground did that). I ended up getting first in my age group and Caroline got second in hers. D did great running in her first 5k (and, as she said, probably her only 5k!), finishing strong to beat out some guy thinking he was going to pull a fast one and pass her at the finish line...yeah right!

After the race, we hung out and spotted a couple of birds. In amongst the trees was the sign from an old motel servicing the ferry terminal. I was quite surprised to see it, but it was neat to see none-the-less. As you can see for yourself, it looks pretty old:

I guess now-a-days the sign would say "Free HBO" or something of the sort.

Our next event was Talons: A Birds of Prey Experience, led by Lorrie Schumacher, Master Class Falconer. (Who knew there was such a thing? I wonder what she things of SNL's The Falconer?) Actually (aside from the crazy bird lady image she projected), the show was pretty cool...and informative. I played a mighty oak and had a Harris' hawk brush up against me as it went from station to station looking for food (in the form of cut up frozen mice).

The night we went to dinner and then drinks at Kelly's Gingernut Pub where we were lucky enough to hear Karl Werne and Eddie Williams play. I couldn't believe my ears when this guy started playing. At first I didn't really pay attention as it looked like it was a local jazz combo, but I soon found out that we were in for a treat once they started playing.

Werne is a local sure enough (well, local to Virginia Beach anyway), and an amazing guitarist to boot. His fingers were flying up and down the fretboard as he and saxophonist Eddie Williams put their personal markings on a variety of songs. It was an amazing experience, but one we cut short as we were all pretty beat from the long day.

Day 227 - 10/05/2007

We were up bright and early and ready to hit the road for our sibling weekend. I dropped the kids off at school and we were out of the house around 9a. After a quick stop at Starbucks for coffee, we were on the road.

Our first event is at 130p, so we were cutting it short and it didn't appear that we'd have much time to stop for lunch. After hearing from Nina that they were late getting out of the house and wouldn't make it to the first event, we decided not to kill ourselves getting there and stopped by Pierce's for lunch. As I've said before (or, if I haven't, I'll say it now), Pierce's is a must-stop place if you're driving on I-64 in Williamsburg. Their barbecue is tops and the sauce has just the right amount of kick to it. Even better (IMO) are the green beans. People who haven't tried them before are taken aback at them, but once you taste them, you too will be converted.

We finally arrived in Cape Charles about 3p. We stopped by the festival headquarters and then by the hotel to get the house keys. We unloaded and waited for the rest of the crew to arrive, which they finally did around 4p. They announced their arrival by dropping the lasagna dish on the ground, whereupon it shattered and infused dinner with tiny shards of glass. Fortunately the lasagna was frozen so the glass was easily brushed off. Well, maybe not easily, but it was salvageable none-the-less.

After dinner we played some games before calling it quits for the night. We have to get up early tomorrow to get to the Run for the Birds 5k race.

Day 226 - 10/04/2007

Over the past several months, I toyed around with a variety of challenges, but never could figure out something that would be fair for all involved. On my run last night it hit me: a scavenger hunt where you have to take pictures of a variety of birds.

Most of the day was spent putting the list together, as well as working on informational packets for the weekend.

I left the office and hit the gym before picking up Caroline from the airport. I haven't been to the gym in a few days (well, not at last week) due to my back, so I wanted to get a workout in before the weekend (since I know I won't be getting any weights in until next week). I told Caroline to call me when she got in and (of course) I was in the shower when she did. Not to worry, however, as she still had to make her way to baggage claim and then wait for that to be offloaded.

As I was pulling up to the terminal, a couple of Metro police officers were in the street and one of them waved me to the curb.

"What for?" I asked her, curious as to why I was getting pulled over.

"Because I told you to," she responded.

"Alright, but why are you telling me?" I asked her as (in my mind) there was nothing I had done wrong.

"Just pull over to the curb," she ordered, this time her voice a little more terse.

I sat there while she and her partner were calling in my license plate and seeing whether I was on a terrorist watch list of some sort. After about five minutes of waiting for her to approach the car and ask me for my license and registration, it hit me: my tags appeared to be expired as I had yet to receive the stickers from DMV (I had renewed online).

I reached for the temporary registration and held it out the window. This prompted her to come forward and take the registration, telling me "I see you figured it out."

Uh, yeah, I figured it out, but would it have killed you to tell me sooner?

I called Caroline and told her to come down to door 5 (she was at door 6) and meet me there. She hesitated as she had a couple of bags, until I explained to her that the two police officers questioning me trumped her two bags. A couple minutes later, there she was, but she couldn't get in the car until I was cleared by the police.

The officer finally determined that my tags were legal and let us go.

The funniest thing about this is that Nina got pulled over by the same officers for not having any stickers on her tags at all an hour or so later! I wonder if the officers saw our last names and wondered whether there was any connection.

Day 225 - 10/03/2007

We had our September CCR lunch today. Yes, I realize it's October, but we were unable to schedule it for September due to our work schedules. Like last time (and unfortunately for Frank), there were eight of us there.

Frank tempted fate by actually looking at the check before playing the game. He ended up losing. And with eight of us there, he lost big (over $100 for the group). Oh well, you play the game, you take the chance. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

We're meeting again in a few weeks to have the official October CCR. I don't think Frank will be looking at the check anytime soon.

I went out for a run tonight one last time before this weekend's race. I tried to go for a run last night, but got to the top of the court and gave up. Too much pizza. Tonight I paced myself with my evening food intake (alright, I didn't have dinner) and hit the ground running. 3.12 miles later, I started walking and was quite surprised with the results of the night's run. The first mile was 7:58, which was right where I wanted to be. The second was 7:55, which was a little faster than where I wanted to be (but only by 5 seconds). The third miles was 7:35, which definitely WASN'T where I wanted to be, but what the heck, I felt good and was quite surprised with my results considering I haven't done any kind of serious running over the past two years. More importantly, my knee wasn't bothering me (during or after the run).

Hopefully this weekend's race will go as well!

Day 224 - 10/02/2007

If it's Tuesday, it must be guitar lesson day. I played "Rollin' on the River" for Gary and he continues to think I'm coming along. The next song on the agenda to learn will be "Lookin' Out My Back Door" (also by CCR). A few weeks back he indicated that CCR has a bunch of songs that are easy to play (and learn) and hopefully that'll turn out to be true. We also went over the capo again. While I've pretty much grasped the concept of the capo, the light hasn't gone on like it has for the root 6 and root 5 barre chords. I guess it's just a matter of time. Until then, I'll have to continue torturing the household with my butchered version of "Rollin' on the River" (or at least until I can get the next one down). I'm just thankful they humor me with their listening.

N's baseball practice is canceled; we're having a game tomorrow instead. It was rather nice not having to rush out of work and home to head over to the field.

No, instead I rushed out of work and mowed the lawn. The fertilizer seems to be working in that the lawn is nice and green, but it doesn't appear that the seed I laid down is working: almost of the spots where I seeded are still bare (and where there is some growth, it looks like clover!).

Day 223 - 10/01/2007

With the game all but wrapped up, I sat down to watch the Bengals-Patriots game, thinking how it will feel to be 3-1 tomorrow. A good feeling, I'm sure.

This is the first year where I've actually got a productive team from week to week. I should consider myself lucky, though, as I'm one of the few teams left intact. A lot of other teams are plagued with injuries. Oh well, that happens in sport. I can't help that, aside from a couple of issues here and there, my guys are healthy.

Or that I drafted with bye weeks in mind.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Day 222 - 09/30/2007

The kids and I went to 1045a Mass. They weren't too excited about it, but N had a birthday party to attend later on, so 1045a it was. Of course, the kids are never excited about going to Mass, so this morning wasn't any different.

N's birthday party was at Pump It Up in Manassas. On the way back, M and I picked up Grace so they could work on their school project together. She ended up staying over for dinner after their project was done and fun was had by all.

D got home earlier than expected from her weekend away in Chestertown, so she was able to join us for dinner (of raviolis and tomato sauce).

Once the kids were ready for bed, I read them a chapter from Robin Hood. So far they seem to enjoy it. Hopefully it'll stay that way.

Day 221 - 09/29/2007

What do you get when you add pictures for N, a game for both M and N and D out of town?

An opportunity for miscommunication, which is exactly what happened. I was supposed to have dropped M off at Riley's house, who was going to give her a ride to the game, take N to his pictures and game, and then pick M up over at Riley's house after the game. What really happened was I took M with me to N's pictures and then dropped her off, before heading to N's game. Riley left with her grandparents, leaving M stranded. (Burke, in thinking that since M never showed up before the game, didn't think she'd be at the game and therefore didn't go to the game which means his in-laws didn't know to take M home.) Fortunately, M got a ride home with another teammate and everything worked out fine. Lesson learned, though. In the future, should something like this present itself, check in with the coach vs. having M (or N) relay the information.

After the games, we regrouped and hit the library, where the kids checked out some books and we got Puss In Boots. I never realized that Christopher Walken could play a cat, but he did so convincingly. Unfortunately, the DVD was scratched, so we kept having to jump forward in order for it to be viewable.

The kids made mini-pizzas for dinner, we went to the library, we went for a run (well, I did anyway, the kids rode their bikes) and ended the day by watching a movie together.

The run, while unexceptional, was great. I kept an 8:15 min/mile pace going pretty much the whole way through and, if it hadn't been for the constant turnbacks to hurry M along, I probably could've gone faster. I'm looking forward to next weekend's race. Even though it won't be a PR (or anywhere near it), I think I'll do pretty good. If I can get a sub-25, I'll be happy. (Heck, I'd even be happy with a sub-26!)

All in all it was an enjoyable day.