Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Morning Affair and Catching Up

Between a full schedule of activities, computer virus attacks, and my lack of attention I find myself way behind on 'daily happenings' so here is a sort of Reader's Digest version...
Thursday was a kind of 'catch your breath' day for the Jones crew. After work I hit the yard maintenance and focused on building a retaining wall (pic #1) on a shrub bed in the front yard and finishing up some shrub placement/grass seeding (pic #2 below). Lots of solid tasks started/accomplished.

After running out of blocks I made my way to the backyard to find Jim A and Ian playing some catch. Ian (and Jim) had a great time and we enjoyed watching; although it is killing me not to be able to throw (yet).

Its good to watch both sets of grandparents so involved in our boy's lives and especially have a couple of grandpas who like to toss the ball around with the kids; I am looking forward to doing the same down the road (...far down the road!). It is always sad for the boys when the Appley's pack up and head home for the summer.

Friday morning I embraced the cool windy air and an arm on the mend and knocked out three hours on the road. At long last I was reunited with my 'mistress'. The high winds made for an interesting ride, but my route did a decent job in keeping me fairly 'hidden' from the 50mph gusts. I will say the ride home (tailwind) was a lot of fun and would have been a great day for a point-to-point ride to KC (a little far of a drive for Deb to pick me up). Looking forward to many more affairs with my side squeeze on my early Friday mornings.
Jake had a meet (OC vs COC) Friday afternoon/evening in Branson and while the forecast was rain/hail we made the journey down skirting the heavy stuff until we reached the meet... then it poured... and poured... and then all of a sudden it cleared up. Deb made good use of the truck time to read with Ian (see pic to the right). Just when we thought there was not a chance of this thing happening it cleared up. The meet started about an hour behind schedule, but son of a gun they were going to get it in. The meet was much smaller from years past (frustrating) which got it clipping right along and before you know it Jake was warming up for the open 800. He was nervous as Lebanon, Kickapoo, and Branson have solid 800m guys. Just about the time they announced first call for the girls 800 lightening struck twice; on the third strike they called the meet and Jake didn't get to run - bummer. We loaded up, grabbed some Hong Kong Inn in Ozark with my mom and pop, and then drove home. Not a waisted evening at all as even with the foul weather and not seeing Jake compete we all still had fun hanging out.

Friday night was pretty interesting for me as Jake was having a tough 'teenager' day/period and a culmination of track (injury and the pressure of trying to make me proud), school (maintaining high grades and living up to our expectations) and day to day life felt like a ton of weight on his shoulders. He and I ended up spending some much needed time (after 2am when I finally drifted off to sleep) airing out some issues in his life and both of us ended up understanding much more about each other than before. Jake is a solid kid and it so much more 'together' than I ever was/am, but teenage years are tough and from time to time we all need someone to wrap us up in their arms and let us exhale long, slow, and deeply. No way would I go back to my 'teens' if given the chance! I ended up crashing in his room for the night on his lower bunk.

Saturday was spent at SGF's Ewing ball fields as Ian's team was playing in a round robin tournament. They won all three with the first one (17-16) being the only close one of the day (other two were 15-2 and 15-0). Ian probably had the play of the day as in the first game in the last inning he snagged a off-line throw to the plate (he was playing catcher), got back to home plate, and barely tagged a runner (would be tying run) to save the game; pretty heads-up play. It was short of a long day there as we arrived at 10:30am and left around 6:30pm. I was nice to see Jake drove down to watch his little bro play and hang out with Deb and my folks. E-ball's team walked away with 1st place; the kids were lov'in life.

Deb and I like that Ian wants to play so much, but we are still undecided as to how many 'weekend' tournaments to allow as with practice and games during the week I want my 9yr old to have 'down time' as a kid and not fill us all up with a rush-rush lifestyle. In our house kids get to play one sport at a time which never was an issue for Jake, but that has us 'pulling back the reigns' on Ian which is exhausting...
The rest of Saturday was pretty low key with an after-game meal at Buffalo Wild Wings (always a favorite) and a little tube before calling it a night.
Sunday morning came early as I wanted to finish up the front yard retaining wall and some odds and ends outside. Church came next and then some time with Ian at the gym shooting jump shots (getting ready for BHS youth basketball camp) while Deb got in a nice bike ride.
My afternoon focus was a 65 mile steady effort on the road. The temps and light breeze made my efforts bearable. The route selection was a constant run of short steep and rolling climbs which netted me close to 4,800ft of elevation; I was cooked at the end. I feel my fitness is close to that before the arm incident and hopefully will return to racing in a week or two.
Pulled up to the casa just in time for dinner (grilled chicken salad hit the spot) with a full table (Jones crew, Andie, Jim and Linda). I like our time at the table when it is full. Family dinner has always been a priority at our house and even with busy schedules we typically wait for each other until we can eat as a unit. Afterwards Jim and I put a butt whoop'in on Deb and Linda in an ongoing Spades battle.
Monday was a Monday what can you say... if it was going to go wrong it did early and a virus hit my laptop and knocked me out of commission (until it was resolved later that afternoon). To relieve some frustrations I took an hour spin on the rig at lunch and that helped (much like always) to regroup. Caught some of Ian's basketball camp, played some catch in the backyard with the little man (that's right, the arm is 90% 'throw' effective), chowed down on some grilled chicken (didn't know they made implants for chickens, but these were some of the biggest breast I'd ever seen... chicken wise), played some Settlers with Deb and Jake, and headed off to bed at halftime of the Spurs .vs. Suns game (bummer SA lost).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What a Unique Place...

From time to time Deb and I sneak away for a couple days and this past weekend we took advantage of g-ma Appleby's generosity to watch the boys and headed to Eureka Springs, AR. While I have been close to (yes, broken arm park - Lake Leatherwood) ES I had never been TO/IN the town; that is no longer the case.

Friday afternoon I made it over to Jake's track practice where they had the 2nd Annual 'Cheeseburger In Paradise Run'. It is a tough speed workout (especially since it was raining on and off) with numerous repeats of 300m, 200m, and 150 blasts. On the final 150, prior to departure, each trackster has to consume a cheeseburger (donated by Burger King) then finish out the workout. It is highly recommended to wear you best beach/Hawaiian outfits and to keep the burger down once eaten. Jake ended up sporting a grass hula skirt and a tube-top (makes a father proud... sigh) while several of his teammates wore bikini tops (thought I was back in the Motherland with armpit hair and string tops). Only one 'up-chuck' victim this year; thanks Mike Jones for the display and sound effects.

Got home and helped Deb prepare for Saturday's garage sale.

Woke up early Saturday to dark rainy looking clouds; not good for Deb and her friends who were having a garage sale at our casa. Mid-morning Jake and I grabbed some breakfast at Brenda's before he headed off to do some school related shadowing/observation work with the SBU athletic trainers Between showers Ian and I worked prepping a corner of the yard for some shrubs. Pretty much the morning and early afternoon were relaxed and enjoyable.

Mid-afternoon Deb and I hugged the boys and loaded ourselves up for a much needed get-a-way weekend (Saturday afternoon through Monday evening) in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. As mentioned above neither Deb nor I had spent time there and at the advice of Ira we made reservations in the downtown/hippy area instead of the upper rim; great advice!

ES is a quirky place and one to which we will come back from time to time, but not often. It is amazing the buildings/structures still in place in such a vertically challenged area. The Basin Hotel was the right choice for us and one I'd recommend. It either rained or was overcast much of the weekend, but for our lazy weekend plans it was fine.

Saturday evening we ate at a decent Mexican spot (Casa Colina), walked around a little bit, grabbed some late dessert, and called it an evening...

Sunday's late wake up was just in time for me to catch L-B-L while Deb kicked back with a book. The rest of the morning and afternoon was spend wandering the shops, historic places, and residential areas of town all the time fitting in food, snacks, and cafe mocha. Once again ES is a odd place that I really like.

Deb and I brought a kit and shoes for hiking one afternoon and I thought about taking her over to the scene of the crime (place I dumped and broke my arm), but with all the rain the trails were too nasty so on pavement we stayed.

Sunday evening had us at the hotel restaurant for dinner, later at a local spot for a couple liquids(but no dessert as the place started rolling up by 9pm) and a late night stroll back to the hotel.

Monday morning Deb and I were up and at'em for breakfast at the Mud Street Cafe (solid coffee, muffins, and top three pancakes ever had). Afterwards Deb hit the spa while I kicked around town until departure a little before noon.

The drive in and out of ES are picturesque and worth the occasional 'pull over' views.

Headed over to Branson for a little shopping, lunch, and then hit the road back home. Intended to immediately hit the bike before dark, but one look at the yard made me hop on the mower for a little maintenance. Kept going as the evening progressed and got the shrubs in place and ready for some finishing touches. Spent some quality time with the boys before each drifted off to bed.

Got some ACT scores back for Jake and it turns out the boy isn't only fast, but also has a solid brain in his head (just a joke as we always knew). Between ACT and GPA he is going to rake in some nice academic scholarships to where ever he decides to go (nice for my wallet). He may look like me, but we all know he's got Deb's smarts (thank goodness).

Weekends like this are a must from time to time for Deb and I. I love my family and our time together, but need quality one-on-one time with my best friend. I am glad we both feel trips such as this are a top priority and I believe it is good for the boys to see how much we love and enjoy each other's company. Already making plans for the next one...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Willie Says It Best...

"On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again..." After three weeks of trainer rides I was starting to lose my mind (and will to get on the bike), so yesterday after work I beat Deb home and jumped out on the road for an hour spin (knew I had to leave before she knew my plans). Doc asked me to hold off a couple more weeks before venturing out, but I figure if I can ride a trainer I can ride the road (absolutely no mtb'ing or even 'cross gravel/dirt roads). Overall the ride was a success, but a couple things are still an issue - #1 Shifting: it shoots some stiff pain through my arm using my fingers/wrists to change rear gears. #2 Potholes/Bumps: heavy vibrations and jarring shoots the pain; it is going to be hard to find too many smooth roads in Polk County.

Got back home and Deb was smiling, but it was that kind of smile that lets you know you are an idiot. Not sure how much riding I will do at a time for now, but the training is a thing of the past (hopefully for now).

I am loving our new kits.

After grabbing a quick bite Deb and I headed down to SGF to watch my niece play soccer (she is for real). It was a good evening with my mom, dad, Jim, & Cheri. The boys stayed home with g-ma Appleby as we ended up getting home late.

Weekend forecast is rain, but I'm hoping to sneak in a ride today at noon and then a decent one tomorrow morning (while Deb hosts a garage sale). I booked Deb and I a couple nights stay in Eureka Spring for Saturday and Sunday so we are looking forward to getting away; we have never been to ES and we hear it's a fun place to hang out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Release the Tracken" & Undefeated Baseball

Great play on words (thanks Ira) in the title as it will make sense once you read on down. Freaking awesome Tuesday night sums it all up...

After another three-day trainer session it was time for a day of rest (more mental than physical) so instead of the trainer and a movie at lunch I defended the Nation's interest in COD MW2.

Left work a little early yesterday to make it Jake's Hillcrest track meet in SGF. Deb had to drop off Ian at his game (oddly just a handful of blocks away from JFK (Jake's meet location) before she and her dad showed up to the meet minutes prior to Jake's run (perfect timing).

The meet was pretty small (7 schools), but the quality was good with Lebanon, Kickapoo, Parkview, Hillcrest... Coach is still holding Jake off the 4x800 to keep his leg from flaring back up so it was another night of the open 800. He was pretty nervous heading into it as he has never come close to beat a couple of the Lebanon studs (one was top 5 at 4A XC championships) and he was hoping to stay with them as long as he could for a solid time. Gun goes off and as expected he is sitting comfortably on the Lebanon guys until... at the 395meter point the timer gives them the split 1:03 and Jake immediately shoots to the front, opens a 15 meter gap within 50 meters, and is laying it down. My initial thought was "oh no, boy what are you doing?!?!?!", but turns out he knew exactly what he was doing as the split was too slow and he was there for a solid TIME and not a PLACE. The #1 Lebanon kid took out after Jake and at the 700 meter mark was within 6-8 meters when Jake dug deeper and continued to dig for the line for his first ever varsity win in the open 800 (and against one of the guys he looks up to). He ran a 60 second last quarter to bag a 2:03 (another PR - third in a row). I had never seen him attack an entire race like he did last night; he is running as an entirely different person as of late as his confidence is growing is believing he belongs at the front.

***Jim A took all the above and below pictures (AWESOME). The end of the race was not captured due to he and Deb were going nuts in the stands cheering (don't blame him one bit). Take a look at the last pic above and especially at Jake's face - as is sheer determination and will to win (Ira labeled that pic as "Release the Tracken!" - HA).

After a couple high-fives with Coach Bandy and a quick smile to Jake Deb, Jim A, and I were out of there and on the quick drive to Ian's ball game. I was totally numb with happiness for the boy.

Ian's Bandits played another undefeated team last night and came away with a 11-3 win (now they are the only undefeated). Quite the support crew showed up for his game as g-ma/g-pa Appleby, g-ma/g-pa Jones, Jim, Cheri, Ashton, and Alexandra (Deb and I, of course) was cheering them on. Ian is splitting first base duties with another really good player and is in left field every other inning, but last night he got a little taste of catcher. He likes 1st and left, but is not heading back to catcher anytime soon. If you ask Ian he was 2 for 2 hitting last night, but one was a force out at 2nd which really doesn't count as a successful hit (on base percentage is a different thing). He is having so much fun playing ball with his pals.

Jake gave me a call during Ian's game (first chance we had to talk after his run) and his first words were asking how Ian's team and Ian were playing. I think that is pretty cool to come off your best effort and still interested in how things are going for his little bro. Needless to say Jake was on cloud 9!

***The first clip is Ian giving the crowd a 'fanning' as he swung and missed; he hit for a single on the pitch after it. The second is the boy doing what he does on first. Pictures are on the way***

After the game it was a quick stop at Braums and then back home. Ian was shuttled off to bed quickly and Jake was still pretty stoked when he got home. In discussing his race he thought the Lebanon guys were right on his shoulder the entire second lap and had no idea the gap he caused; he was encouraged (even more) with that knowledge.
After AM practice this morning Jake met up with Deb, her dad, Ian, and I at Brenda's for breakfast. A great way to start any day is having my crew together laughing and enjoying the time together.