Week in review

It's Labor Day weekend ...

We have no plans and no place to go. And that's ok. We slept well past 7 for the first time in weekend, and didn't get out of bed until nearly 10; Kates and I sat in our bed reading while Phoebe crawled up and sat between us to watch "Toy Story" for the  umpteenth time.

The perfect cap to a trying week.
Here’s a quick, barely-skimming-the-surface rehash of the week in our household …

Last weekend. I spend most of Saturday working in my office, trying to catch up on things and prepare myself for the start of classes on Monday. Kates spent most of Sunday in her classroom, planning her lessons for the week …

But on Sunday night, the campus was putting on a fireworks display that had generated so much buzz I refused to pass up the chance for some family fun. It was to be a fun kick-off to the school-year and it was set to music.

Around 8, we headed over to the campus and set up our camp chairs among the students filling the practice fields. Kates spent some time reading a book, I chatted with a couple colleagues and Phoebe sat in her stroller, happily blowing bubbles in between some people-watching ...

(I also announced the Emmy award winners to Kates as I received them on my Blackberry. Thrilled to see "Mad Men" and "Modern Family" -- which we've watched from the very beginning -- received the accolades they so deserve ... And this opening number is pretty good, too.)

About 40 minutes later, the fireworks lit up the sky -- in a display that matched Hollywood special effects, complete with explosions on the field surface. Music from “Star Wars” and the Harry Potter movies were part of the soundtrack …

Fireworks kick off the school year

For Phoebe, it was her first-ever fireworks experience, and she’d been talking about going to the display all day. When the first explosions filled the sky, she promptly reached for Kates and spent the rest of the show cuddled in her arms. She loved the display, not the noise.

* * *

Monday. Kates and I had long work days, and both of us felt the weight of the world on our shoulders …

On the bright side, fall classes began at the university and it was energizing to see the campus buzzing with action again.

We decided to hit another campus event that night -- the Wesley Center was hosting a back-to school barbecue -- for some fellowship with our newfound church friends and the good vibes that come with hanging out with the college kids. The place was packed and there was just enough food to go around; Kates contributed brownies for the dessert table.

We had a good time, and Phoebe attracted an audience, as usual.

* * *

Phoebe had been coming down with a cold, and Tuesday it was bad enough that we decided to keep her home.

In anticipation of that, I warned Kates Sunday evening that I couldn’t stay home Tuesday. One of our congressmen was visiting campus and the rest of my schedule was stacked with meetings and responsibilities.

Nevertheless, Phoebe’s crying woke us at 4 a.m. Tuesday. Kates then got the tough task of calling her principal at 5 a.m., waking her up in the process, to tell her she needed a substitute teacher. At least in Kates’ previous district there was a special phone line for teachers to call and leave messages when they needed subs … Then Kates had to go to school anyway so she could lay out the day’s lessons for the substitute.

In the meantime, I kept watch on Phoebe. I popped “Toy Story” into the VCR for her to watch, and within minutes she was curled up with her blanket and zonked out on our bedroom floor. That gave me a chance to take a shower and get myself ready for work … On cue, Kates was back home around 7:30, Phoebe woke up from her power nap, and I was heading to work.

My workday went well, but the non-stop action of it left me so drained I was ready to collapse when I arrived home at 5:30 … We had a church commitment to attend that night, but Kates wanted to stay home with Phoebe. I refused to go so I could stay home with both of them.

* * *

Burdens continued to mount Wednesday.

Phoebe appeared well enough to go to daycare, though she still had a terrible cough. And Kates returned to school … She came home for supper and returned to school late Wednesday night to catch up on what she missed Tuesday and prepare for Thursday.

As we fell to sleep that night, I sighed and told Kates, “I wish things were better.”

“Me too,” she said.

* * *

Thursday, a slight respite.

Our work days were just as heavy. My responsibilities included covering a board of regents meeting and helping with preparations for the governor’s visit that evening …

At the home-opener for our defending national champion football team. The governor was on-hand for a pre-game ceremony to present the national championship trophy, as well as the coach of the year trophy to our accomplished football coach and the cheerleading team with its own national championship trophy, which they won last January.

Unfortunately, we missed the pre-game ceremony. With the 6 p.m. game time, it was a test enough for Kates and I to break from work, pick up Phoebe and eat supper before the kickoff.

Nevertheless, like the fireworks on Sunday, Phoebe had been talking about going to the football game all day. And we had a memorable time teaching her the B-E-A-R-C-A-T cheer

Back at the campus, the atmosphere was festive with families clad in green and white flocking to the stadium. I relished the feeling of attending a football game again, and the fact that my daughter was enjoying it with me … Phoebe -- dressed in a white shirt with pink lettering I’d bought her the day before -- giggled and bounced all the way across the track and to our seats. Once the game began, Phoebe wasn't too antsy, although a box of popcorn toward the end of the first half proved to be an immense help.

Phoebe and Kates left as the second half began, and I watched the Bearcats muddle through the rest of the game. They had their chances, but some overthrown passes and dropped throws kept them from closing the gap and taking a lead. They lost the game 16-7, but the silver lining is they’ve lost their opener the last three years on their way to the national championship game.

When the game was over, I walked home.

* * *

Finally, Friday. The day was good to us and we celebrated with a Greek dinner at A&G’s.

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