Up early…

Up early this morning to get Ian up early (never an easy feat, and sometimes not all that pleasant) to get him to the airport. He’s headed back to Norman and school today, leaving a noticeable hole here at home. It has been wonderful having him home for the break between semesters and for the Christmas holidays.

We’re definitely seeing that as Li gets older, she misses him more each time he leaves, which makes these transition days as and after he departs even harder for all of us.

Featured…

I had a bit of a surprise this week at work when I found out that some of the stuff I work on was featured on the INL’s external Web site: it’s currently a featured article on a project I’ve been involved in for better than 10 years which is in and of itself kind of an oddity from the standpoint of project lifespan. (If it has been pushed off by more important or more current stuff, it is still available here.)

Deb pointed out that I’m only the second member of our family to make the INL’s external Web site this year — Ian made it earlier for his involvement with the cybersecurity program there — and his article at least had a picture of him with someone important.

I’m just hoping this isn’t my 15 minutes of fame… I’m hoping for something more.

Busy, busy, busy…

Life has been pretty hectic of late… in no particular order…

  • Ian heads off to school early Wednesday morning, leaving a huge hole in our home and our hearts. Deb is flying down with him. Li and I will get three full days together…
  • Ian survived getting his wisdom teeth extracted last week in pretty good shape; he’s pretty much back to normal at this point and enjoying being able to eat something other than fruit smoothies and jell-o again.
  • Fall soccer has started back up; I’m taking on my last season as the boys head coach for one of the local junior high schools. First three tryout sessions are behind us, with the final tryout session and the start of real training ahead this week — made all the more interesting by the fact that one of the local HS football teams has taken over our training field, so now we’re back to fighting for space with the lacrosse club and grid kid football programs.
  • With the start of fall soccer, summer soccer (getting to play, rather than coach) has wrapped up for both Deb and me.
  • Work has been pretty hectic, as well, with an office move a couple weeks ago introducing some interesting wrinkles. I will post a picture or two of our new digs one of these days. For the first time in over 20 years, I have a spot in the cubicle maze with… a window!
  • We’re headed out looking for huckleberries today (assuming any of these lazy late-sleepers ever manage to drag themselves out of bed before noon). This is a good two weeks behind when we normally go, but the cool wet spring we “enjoyed” has everything — including our garden — way behind. Now we need the typical eastern Idaho early frost to also be a couple weeks late so our garden and peach tree have a fair chance at producing.
  • Li will start preschool in September. Let’s see: one starting college, one starting preschool… interesting timing God has for us.
  • I’ve done a bit of reading this past month or so: re-read John Irving’s most excellent A Prayer for Owen Meany and just finished C. J. Box’s Blue Heaven (not bad).

Last Match

We are passing milestones with Ian at what feels like a frightening pace right now: Thursday was his last day of high school (graduation is this next week), and yesterday was almost certainly our last soccer match together as father/coach and son/player. Bittersweet, to say the least: we won an easy match against a Utah team after dropping a pair of close matches against teams from Utah and Nevada, matches we could have and probably should have won. Soccer is a funny game, and sometimes it’s simply not enough to play better than the opponent…

We ended our season with a trip to the Salt Lake City area to play in the Wasatch Classic tournament. We ended up coming down with 15 of our guys and played well, but were more than a little unlucky on both sides of the ball particularly in our second match. So that easy win yesterday represents what will be — unless something really unexpected would occur — the last time I will coach Ian or a team he’s playing with. This, in particular, has been a fun season to have been with these guys, in part because we had some success but more because the mix of young men and personalities were just a pleasure to work with and the be around.

It has been an incredible experience as a coach and as a father to have watched him grow and develop as a player and as a young man over these 10-plus years. I know it hasn’t always been easy for him to be a coach’s kid, but he has dealt with that aspect of this with grace. I’m tremendously proud of him, and grateful to have had this opportunity.

More St. Louis…

Teagan (l) and Ian (r) at the top of the arch (01/2010)
Teagan (l) and Ian (r) at the top of the Arch on Wednesday afternoon (01/2010)

… and I think we are all ready to be home again.

Ian and Teagan’s presentation on Wednesday morning went really well, striking a nice blend of the geek stuff. They seemed comfortable doing it, and seemed to have fun in doing it. Very well-received by the audience, and I think it was more than just being polite; a number of them were genuinely impressed with what these guys had accomplished. As a dad, to say I was a little proud of these guys would be a big understatement.

They had a bit of time in the afternoon when there wasn’t anything on the conference agenda that appealed to them during the afternoon, so we wandered down to the arch (our hotel is less than a mile from the park with the arch, or “The Arch”, I suppose). I have to admit I was not expecting all that much, but it was way cooler than I had anticipated… and not just the weather, although it did start snowing while we were up at the top. I knew it was big, but I really didn’t have a sense of its scale and it really is pretty impressive. We walked back to the hotel in an increasingly-dense snow shower.

Sculpture, downtown St. Louis
A rare splash of color in St. Louis: cool jazz sculpture in the snow near Laclede's Landing in downtown St. Louis (01/2010)

Food has been a pleasant surprise here in St. Louis, to put it mildly. We had excellent Indian on Wednesday evening at India’s Rasoi on Euclid with Bryan (Ian’s and Teagan’s mentor); it was exceptional and we all came home impressed and stuffed. We went a little lighter this evening with very good sushi (edamame, nagiri, and a couple different rolls) from Wasabi on Washington, then we wandered around in a cool foodie grocery/deli called Culinaria on 9th and came back to the hotel with ice cream.

Tomorrow we head for home, and we’re all ready — at least mentally — to be home again. Likely to be a long day, given that we aren’t scheduled to get back into IF until almost 11pm… I can’t say I will feel bad about leaving St. Louis. It has been cold, almost exclusively grey, and damp the whole time. Aside from the food and the Arch, there just really isn’t much here that we’ve seen that would make me want to come back but I also recognize that we haven’t had much of a chance to get out and do much and January in the midwest really hasn’t given St. Louis much of a chance to impress.