Maly’s first day of 11th Grade

First day of 11th Grade today

First day of 10th Grade today:

First day of 9th Grade two years ago:

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First day of 8th Grade three years ago:

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First day of 7th Grade four years ago:

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First day of 6th Grade five years ago:

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First day of 5th Grade six years ago:

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First day of 4th Grade seven years ago:

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First day of 3rd Grade eight years ago

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First day of 2nd Grade nine years ago

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First day of 1st Grade 10 years ago:

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First day of Kindergarten 11 years ago:

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First day of school 12 years ago:

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First day of school 13 years ago:

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First day of school 14 years ago:

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Mara’s first day of 5th grade

First day of 5th Grade today:

First day of 4th Grade last year:

First day of 3rd Grade two years ago:

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First day of 2nd Grade three years ago:

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First day of 1st Grade four years ago:

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First day of Kindergarten five years ago:

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First day of preschool six years ago:

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First day of preschool seven years ago:

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The finality of Bill and Sandy moving

When I woke up this morning, I was having a pretty okay day. The air was crisp and cool this morning for a late-April day in Texas. Nothing overly special about the day. Just sort of a run-of-the-mill nice day.

Bill came back to the house around 10 a.m. because today is the last day that he or Sandy would have access to the house. Bill needed my help unhooking and unplugging the washer, dryer, and refrigerator. And then my mood just did a 180. And I’ve been down in the dumps since. That was the first time that I’d been over there and experienced the finality that is them moving out. The house was completely empty except for the appliances that I was to unplug. It was like turning off life support. I don’t know how to explain it.

Being in their kitchen again. I put the new lights in over the island. Just being there with Bill sitting on the edge of the bay windows as I’m unhooking the washing machine. Being in the backyard again. I’ve spent countless hours and walked miles mowing that yard. Hanging out and talking to Bill in the driveway. Replacing the bulbs in the garage.

We’ve grown close to Bill & Sandy in the last nearly 20 years. I’m probably closer to them than any other neighbor. I actually think Bill was the first neighbor I met when I took a letter over to their house that was accidentally placed in our mailbox.

And it’s kind of dumb, but one of my fondest most recent memories was when we were in for a freeze on a night this past February. I ran across the street to help Bill move some plants inside and he and I just hung out in the foyer and talked. I guess there was just something about him and I out in the cold, taking care of the plants, and then going inside where it was warm and having a chat about probably not much of anything.

I’m just really going to miss the hell out of them. I didn’t realize how important and special the neighbors that live right across the street from you can become. They’re really like family to me.

MVP

The end of year lacrosse banquet. While she’s been playing middie, she was awarded MVP Attack for points scored and draw control.

I’m really excited to see how she improves in this upcoming club season, and then the return to Bowie lacrosse as an upperclassman next year.

When I worked for years at Under Armour, they’d always say “we’re just getting started” to the point where it just became numbing. I feel like Maly’s just getting started. I’m hopeful that she steps into a leadership role and helps her high school team fight for a winning record in the 2023 season.

I’m so damn proud of this kid.

This is a slide from her “Getting to know me” presentation that she submitted at the beginning of her freshman year.

Ten

And just like that — ten years have passed.

I get choked up when I think about my children growing up so fast, but I remind myself that that’s what life’s about. As parents we celebrate the flame in the torch we pass growing brighter and stronger.

If I could selfishly have my own wish on her birthday it would be that she never outgrows giving me her heartfelt hugs. Those mean more to me than she’ll ever know.

Sweet 16

Four desserts at Strega

Maly spent her 16th in Boston. When she was born I wasn’t a runner. Her birthday coincides with the Boston Marathon. We did the touristy stuff today. She doesn’t seem to mind spending birthdays in Boston.

Breakfast date

Yesterday evening Maly said to me, “we should, you know, get up early and go get breakfast tomorrow.”

I took it as an on-a-whim verbal utterance from my teenager. But I indulged her and asked, “you mean, like, you and me? Or the whole family gets up and we all go get breakfast early somewhere?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I guess the whole family could go.”

I don’t remember what was said after that. I think I might’ve said, “okay.” But the conversation didn’t carry on after that. Maly went to her bedroom and I went about whatever I was going about.

She came to me again later in the evening and said, “I was serious. We should go get breakfast tomorrow morning.”

I’d be lying if I said at that point I wasn’t concerned. The child wants to go out for breakfast on a Tuesday morning. Early. This is a teenager who is at that stage in her life where she’s being thrust into the bad habit of staying up too late and coveting as much sleep in the morning as she can. And now she wants to get up an hour early to go have breakfast with her dad. She’s like me. She’s a morning person. She gets up and she’s on her game. I’m nervous that there’s an important life question. A confession. A proposition. Something sensitive that’s going to require “getting it out the way” before the start of a Tuesday.

I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it is that she’s going to tell me or ask me. My dad head goes to dark places – like human trafficking and drugs.

She decides on Kerbey Lane at 7:15 a.m.

I fell asleep last night, wondering why we were going to breakfast. I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and the first thing that came to my head that question of what she was going to ask or tell me.

I heard her alarm at 6:30, and then I could hear her getting ready as I was packing Mara’s backpack.

7 a.m. and she’s standing in the kitchen waiting on me, ready to go on our breakfast date.

And that’s all it was. My first-born child and I went to breakfast together on a Tuesday at 7:15 a.m.

I asked her during the second half of our breakfast if there was anything she needed to ask me or wanted to talk about. “Or, was this just a random breakfast date with your dad?”

“Yep. Just spontaneous.”

The food was terrible. Maly said her ginger pancakes were good though. I was on edge and anxious the majority of the time. I wish I hadn’t been. I wish I would’ve known it was just a spontaneous dad and daughter breakfast. I jokingly asked last night if there was anything big that we were going to be discussing. Like if she was finally going to ask me for a pony. She laughed and said “no.” But you don’t usually say there’s going to be a big question or conversation when there’s a big question or conversation on your agenda. It’s not like you boss says, “Hey, let’s go grab breakfast so we can talk about the big downsizing” if you know absolutely nothing about the big downsizing. Your boss invites you to breakfast like everything’s normal and then he tells you about the layoffs.

I’m unbelievably thankful and blessed to have been invited to a spontaneous breakfast date with my daughter. One day I hope she gets to have that experience.

Grief and the trots

I have a really good friend who I’ve coached for a few marathons. She lost her mom on January 14th. Jess and I usually communicate via text messages or in person. Our conversations as of late have been more lengthy, so we’ve exchanged a few emails. Upon learning about her mother, I did as best I could to provide some empathy and words of encouragement. Not so much running encouragement, but life and grief encouragement.

I told her about my dad dying in 2006 and how hard that hit me. I told her about how I still think about him every day and I still grieve. But that grief is different now. That grief is good now.

She wrote to me today and said: “Grief comes for me the way runners shits do – inconvenient, messy, watery, and I’m not in the place to deal with it. But you find a way to either suck it back in or just let it rip.”

Reflections of trees in the rain

Monday morning greeted us with some much-needed rain. Elise is in Sealy with mom to help out with a doctor’s appointment. Mara and I were up and at it early for the start of a new week. Our commute to school was in a downpour.

We parked in our usual spot and waited our turn for the crossing guard to get us through the intersection in front of the school. We were walking on the sidewalk on our way to the front entrance; to the spot where we normally hug and say our goodbyes before the front entrance.

“Know what I like about the rain?”

“What’s that?”

“I like how you can look at the sidewalk and see the reflections of the trees.”

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever taken notice of the reflections of trees on a wet sidewalk. I don’t know why, but I got a real kick out of Mara pointing that out to me this morning. I think it’s those little things that kids notice and, if we’re really lucky, they’ll make mention of it for us. It’s a reminder to slow down, look around, and take in the little things.

Yesterday was Monday. It was a Monday after a pretty rough weekend. Maly, Mara, and I went to mom’s house to help out with post-surgery care, which turned into a lower intestine ulcer-induced 911 call on Sunday morning. All of Saturday and Sunday were really rough. Elise was back in Austin for work, so the girls and I were on task at Grandma’s house and it was just rough. I may or may not share some details of that experience at a later time.

In the meantime, Mara’s had a rough go of it. She was left to her own devices for the vast majority of the weekend. And her “own devices” meant no devices. I took the tablet away because I don’t want her wasting her youth away before a screen.

This is beside my point. Mara had a less than great weekend. And she really misses Elise. Elise has been with my mom since December 29th. The holidays came and went. We had COVID. New Years was, in a word, blah. And yesterday was the first Monday of a full school week. School started on Wednesday of last week on the heels of the holidays. Now it’s back to “normal.” Mara was sad on Sunday night when we got back from mom’s. And she was suffering from the blues on Monday morning knowing she had to go back to school.

So, after school, I decided I’d take her to the Karst Preserve, which is just a short drive from our house. We walked and talked, and I showed her the two caves. And she told me how she’s really interested in facts about nature and animals. And we just had a nice time together on our little preserve walk.

Epiphany

As sad as it is. I’m calling it a Christmas. Sitting on the couch, listening to my Christmas jazz playlist, and just finished my last Christmas Artbook.

The girls and I had dinner together. I started a fire and let the girls roast marshmallows and make s’mores as we watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I treated myself to a nice nog and Coke.

Now it’s time to turn off the tree, shake my blues, hit the hay, and carpe diem.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy. Merry Christmas!

All week with no social media

It wasn’t really intentional, but I realized I haven’t been on social media beyond a Facebook messenger conversation on Tuesday to coordinate the sale of some old toys.

I have to say that it’s been a very nice break. I don’t miss Instagram or Facebook at all. I think I might just keep this up. No clue how I’ll correspond with my run club though. Guess I’ll have to figure it out.