Still catching up

The weather here today (and, in reality, most of this week) has been pretty lousy; it’s pelting down rain and the wind is blowing right now. We’re trying to make the best of it by getting caught up on stuff that just seems to have been overtaken or lost in the scramble these past couple of months.

Li watching one of Ian's soccer matches (Spring 2009)
Li watching one of Ian's soccer matches (Spring 2009)

I was going through some pictures our friend John took during the course of the soccer season; pictures of most of our team and quite a few of Li. He got quite a few really good ones; here are a couple.

This picture of Li has to have been taken on one of the few halfway decent days on which we had matches, given what she’s wearing and given that her hair isn’t streaming out behind her from the wind. Until the final two weeks of the season, most of the matches were played in some combination of extreme wind, rain, or snow.

Ian on the ball (Spring 2009)
Ian on the ball (Spring 2009)

Given the generally lousy weather we saw all season — I can remember only two practice sessions all season that I was there in shorts without warmups — it was somewhat fitting that we closed our season out on the Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend with an early match under grey skies and light showers at the State Cup tournament. The exception to that was a local tournament a week ahead of State Cup, where we did get to play in relatively warm weather and under sunny skies. This picture of Ian is one of the few John got where the players aren’t all wearing at least one layer under their uniforms.

I’m headed for DC for most of this next week, and as much as I like DC, I’m not looking forward to being gone.

Soccer is done; life returns…

Our spring soccer season wrapped up this past week with the State Cup tournament in Pocatello over Memorial Day weekend and with our end of the season party on a weekday evening. Life feels like it is slowly returning to normal, and as is usually the case by the end of the season, it is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I view this passing.

Our friend John got some really good pix of both Li from the windswept steppes of the soccer pitches in eastern Idaho this spring — we had almost uniformly lousy weather for the season until the final couple of weeks — and of Ian playing. I’ll post a few of those in the next few days as I begin to get caught up on stuff around here.

It has been nice to have evenings back, so that I get a little more time with family and dinner has seen a welcome return to our schedule. Ian and I spent some time yesterday working on stuff in the garage — long overdue, in a couple cases — and we’re enjoying a weekend with Deb’s folks visiting, playing a bit of pinochle with them, and watching them get reacquainted with Li.

I’ve been doing a little reading, working on and almost done with Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”, and just starting “Getting Things Done” (for obvious reasons). I did manage to squeeze in a couple of other books over the season but aside from Alex Garland’s “The Tesseract”, none struck me as extraordinary.

On the subject of “Getting Things Done”, if you’re a follower of GTD or have tried it and found it didn’t help, I’d like to hear from you; post a comment… I’m curious to hear your opinions and experiences with it. I’m just starting to factor some of its ideas into how I try to keep track of everything I’m supposed to be doing…

Catching Up

Li, a big box of new soccer balls, and an active imagination (04/2009)
Li, a big box of new soccer balls, and an active imagination (04/2009)

I just never know what I might find when I walk into our living room. Leave a two year old little girl with a developing love of “the beautiful game” — although I think at this point, her love of the game is based on the fact that her adored big brother Ian plays and every match is an opportunity for her to get to spend a couple of hours outside — alone in a room with a box full of new balls and look what happens…

Soccer is in full swing at this point, occupying a big chunk of our lives, and has been accompanied by the usual early Spring soccer weather: snow, wind, rain, wind, sleet, wind, rain, snow, hail, clouds, wind, and the occasional explosion of a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds. Despite the lousy weather so far this season, Li hasn’t missed any of Ian’s matches. She must dream about it, as well; one morning last week when we brought her in to snuggle up in her little bed in our room at about 2:00 AM, she mumbled “Watch soccer?” in her sleep.

The weather has finally begun to turn to something resembling spring, noticeable particularly just these past couple days. I’m guessing we’ve yet a few snow flurries to suffer through before we can really say, “It’s over!” but it is nice to see the occasional crocus without snow, the lawn greening up (slowly), and the first early signs of leaves beginning to bud on one of our trees. With highs in the upper 50’s, we’ve been able to open windows and let some of that wonderful fresh air in, as well. Deb’s outside right now, doing some early season work in the beds and I know the lengthening and warming days are good for both her and Li.

Li has been sleeping significantly better over the past month or so, with only two or three nights that I would call poor. She’s to the point where she usually wakes up around 2:00 AM and we bring her in to sleep in a small bed in our room for the rest of the night. That change alone has made a big difference for all of us, as we don’t feel nearly as sleep deprived as we have until recently. She’s counting to 10, enjoys showers (in addition to her more-normal bathtime), is stringing more and more words together, has finally learned the word “No” (we knew, unfortunately, that would come eventually), and is showing a more varied palette when it comes to mealtime (although, I think she’d live on homemade apple cider and homemade apple sauce if we let her).

Long Time Gone…

It has been a long time — over a month since Miss Li’s birthday — since I wrote anything here. Time for an update… OK, long overdue for an update…

So, what’s been keeping us busy, you might ask?

A few days after Li’s birthday, I came down with some sort of nasty stomach bug that kept me down and away from work (and almost everything else) for a full week. Much misery, but I’m grateful none of the rest of us came down with this (and I know the rest of us are even more grateful that whatever got me didn’t seem communicable).

Work has been more than hectic, between organizational changes, deadlines, deliverables, and missing a week. I’m glad January is now in our rear-view mirrors; February, although hectic, is beginning to feel like I’m beginning to be caught up. Probably just an illusion, I know.

Li at the piano (January 2009)
Li at the piano (January 2009)

Li is, generally speaking, continuing to do well. We’ve struggled recently with another stretch of about 10 days or so of sleep problems. Problems as in, when Li doesn’t sleep or doesn’t sleep well, neither do Deb or I. Those nights tend to lead to long brittle days for all of us. The past few days, however, have been much better and the good days, though, are really good… she’s growing, and her vocabulary is blossoming. She loves to play the piano, loves to draw, has taken to helping dry dishes and helping set the table for dinner (we’re trying to convince her to get Ian to help more often with these things, but so far it’s not working — but not because she isn’t trying). She has a “vacuum” that she uses to help clean the house — a cardboard wrapping paper tube that she walks around the house with, saying “baboo, baboo”. She seems to like to say “Yes!” with an emphatic nod (and despite being two, has not yet discovered the power of “No” yet — at least not the verbal version of “No”), and she says an emphatic “Amen!” at the end of our pre-meal prayer.

Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)
Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)

Ian got his driver’s license this past week, which is also milestone of sorts.

We’ve been doing a bit of reading over the past few weeks, as well. I’ve enjoyed “Pattern Recognition” and “Idoru”, both by William Gibson and both very good. I also enjoyed “The Eleventh Man” by Ivan Doig, and although it was good, I don’t feel like it was up to the extraordinary standard he set with his earlier works. I’m part way through “The Irregulars”, which is a biographical account of Roald Dahl’s involvement with the British intelligence community in the US during World War II. He’s always been an intriguing author: we’ve long loved some of his kid lit, and his adult stuff is so off-beat that it’s interesting to learn a little about the guy behind the BFG and other books. Deb has been doing some reading on the subject of “spirited children” given what we are continuing to see from Li, and there have been some valuable insights from that.

Soccer is starting to ramp up, which seems odd given our very wintry winter with no real sign of spring yet. Ian and I are headed to Las Vegas next weekend for a season-opening tournament this weekend, so the team has been doing a bit of fitness work and is playing in the indoor league, but we haven’t been able to train as a group. It will be an interesting start to the season, I’m thinking. Some of the politics surrounding youth soccer have reared their heads again this past week which continues to take a bit of the luster off the Beautiful Game, too… maybe more on that later, but probably not. Deb is also playing adult co-ed indoors these days — she’s actually off playing as I draft this post — and enjoying both the game and the social aspect of adult conversation. Probably says a great deal about life around our house these days.

A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.
A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.

All of that doesn’t leave much in the way of spare time. I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering on some technical stuff for an open source software project (which occupied most of what I might consider spare time available for geek stuff for the past 3 months), and I’ve also been working on a facelift for the blog. Here’s a preview at right, and with any luck I’ll have this in place in the next couple weeks (although these things have a way of taking much longer than I tend to think). My goals for this are a lightweight theme that’s reasonably attractive (particularly in light of who is creating it), fluid (enabling it to take better advantage of screen real estate — both large and small), standards compliant in its markup, and easy to maintain/tweak. It will take advantage of some of the capabilities of current browsers (things like rounded corners), will use jQuery for some subtle enhancements, and will (hopefully) degrade gracefully for those still forced to suffer with old broken technology like MSIE v6. OK, probably more than just two weeks, but it is coming…

End of the Season

Late summer mornings working in the flower beds with Mom
Late summer mornings working in the flower beds with Mom

It has been quite a while since I wrote much, but it feels like we’ve reached a couple of recent “ends” within the past couple weeks all at roughly the same time…

We’ve reached the end of the fall soccer season just a couple of days. One of the teams I coach at Taylorview reached the semi-finals of the post-season tournament before losing 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout. The finished the season with a very decent record, going into the tournament as the #2 seed from the south pod of the league. They played well the last four matches of the season, finishing strong, playing decent defense and a very attractive style. These guys were a treat to work with these past three months and as much as I’m looking forward to having my weekends and evenings back, I will miss these guys.

There's nothing like corn on the cob fresh from the garden!
There's nothing like fresh corn from the garden!

We’ve reached the end of the garden, too, with hard freezes pretty much every night now and having had our first snowfall, with a couple inches falling on Saturday (a large chunk of which fell during our first tournament match). The peaches are long since done, and we had an extraordinary crop this year. We thinned and thinned and thinned and still had more that we could eat. The strawberries and tomatoes and corn are done, too, and we’ll all miss that. Li will miss it as much or more than the rest of us…

And we’ve reached the end of the summer in more than just a calendar sense. We’re definitely in autumn now, with cold mornings and evenings, ever-shortening days, golden light in the evenings, the occasional snowfall, and heavy frosts in the morning. Li is back in her fleece sleepers at night, although she pretty much refuses to let us pull down the feet to cover up those cold little toes of hers. She now snuggles up each night with not just her stuffed monkey (named “Monkey”, of course) but also a stuff cow named “Boo” (Li-speak for “moo”) and doll her friend Kate gave her (named “Doll”, appropriately). When she’s ready to get up in the mornings, she’ll be standing there in the crib with a big smile (most days) and her arms full of her friends, waiting to be picked up.

Just two more cherry tomatoes...
Just two more cherry tomatoes...

Her vocabulary is blossoming, and words are coming in pairs more and more frequently. We can’t drive anywhere without her pointing out all of the “big trucks” (which to the unlearned sounds much like “boo duck”) and “big trees” (“boo tees”). “Please” is making more frequent appearances, as is “Daddy”. Her all-purpose word these days is “dosh”, which we finally decided is sort of like “sauce” and she uses it for both apple sauce and soap (“body sauce”, I suppose) in the bath tub. She knows that balls are for kicking, and loves chasing her soccer balls around the house and kicking them back and forth with Ian. (And I caught her reading the adidas section of the Eurosport catalog this evening before dinner!)

Our friend Teri’s dog named Rudy is “Dee”, Ian’s girlfriend Fi is “Fee” or “Gee”, and Ian is something that sounds quite a bit like “bro” right now. Yoghurt is “doo” or something like that. “Peach” and “apple” are very recognizable, as is “juice”, “up”, “down”, “house”, “bath”, “bus”, “dog”, “kitty”, “duck” (although a duck’s quack still sounds alot like a dog growling), “book”, and “goat”.