Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Time Cometh

We are on the cusp of indulging in a little R&R, and I'm sick as a dog. Even though I was secretly hoping I would escape the pestilence, I knew I would get it, and sure enough, here I am, about to go on vacation, in the thick of having bubonic plague. How's that for timing. The only thing that could top this is seeing YKW at the airport, but I don't think that is going to happen.

Oh well, it could be worse. Better that I'm sick than the kids, who have had their share of malaise and are on the road to recovery, if they haven't arrived already.

I will say this, however. I can't buy any sympathy in this house. Actually, that's not completely true, A&N feel a little sorry for me, but R looks at me and shakes her head with quiet contempt for my dramatic overtures. I can't help it, I need to whine a little, though it doesn't bode too well for my real man training. A minor setback, however.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

More Hurricane Vermont

Anyway, as I mentioned, we know the drill when it comes to power outages, and yet we still lost water. It's not the end of the world, you just have to go downstairs and prime the tank, which involves water and high voltage electricity, but no big deal, right?

Donning my wife's rubber gloves, I set about attempting to prime the darn thing, furiously trying to remember what MG had told me. As I mentioned, there is a trick to this beast, and requires some finesse, which is not always my forte since I tend to be the bull in a china shop, et al.

Anyway, being the big klutz that I am, I couldn't get the pressure up. The pressure in the tank needs to be at a minimum psi before the tank kicks in and runs on its own, and until you get there, the pressure fizzles out the minute you turn on the tap. I managed to get it to about 20 psi, which was too low, and then it wouldn't go any further. I needed at least 30-40 psi, but the thing was stuck at 20. Bummer.

I was ready to just live on rain water, but figured this had to be dealt with. It was Friday night, so it would have been hard to get a plumber out here until Monday, so I did what I normally do in these situations.

I called my Mentor.

And he was out of town. Waah! Since he was gone, I proceeded to call everyone I knew who might have a clue as to what to do, though I knew in the back of mind there were two people who could have helped me, no doubt. These would be the former owners of this house, MG and SG. The problem is, it's awkward talking to people about their former house that they wish they'd never sold and really want back.

So I called my karate teacher, real-man extraordinaire, who rubs dirt in his bullet wounds and eats deer meat raw, whose cousin also happens to be an experienced plumber. He called him, and his cousin called me, which was really cool.

By that time, however, I had broken down and called SG. I hated to do it, on a Friday night, no less, but he was really cool, and said it was never a problem. He gave me a few tips, and suddenly it all came back to me. The key to using this toggle switch is to gently push it up until it just catches, then the pressure will slowly leech into the tank, until it catches and the system is primed. What a pain, not to mention a less than ideal design. Whose idea was this, anyway?

Now we're back in business, we have water, and we now have a plumber. Life is good, until the next hurricane, that is.

Thanks for reading.

Hurricane Vermont

Two days ago we had this massive storm roll in, bringing with it what was described as 60 mph winds, and it was pretty amazing stuff, not necessarily in a good way. It felt like a hurricane, and I was expecting at least one or two the massive pines to come down, but they stood their ground. A testament to fine construction. While we didn't get any snow, it rained a lot and was kind of scary.

Of course, we lost electricity early in the AM while we were sleeping and carried over until daylight. It was to be expected, and something we've dealt with a lot in the past, so we know what to do. I.e., don't flush the toilets. The hardest part is the loss of water. With dishes piling up and the inability to use the bathroom (along with some of us needing to use it bad), we decided to hit the big city and spend the day in Hanover.

Our plan was to go the dump, have pizza in town, go to the Montshire, then to the library, then to meet mom at Boloco, our favorite eatery in town. Well, right before we had our foot out the door, the electricity went back on. Hallelujah! I ran into the bathroom and turned on the water, and you know what? Nothing.

Houston, we have a problem.

We knew better than to use the water because it depletes the pressure tank, thus rendering it idle. We learned the hard way the first year we moved here than you don't use the water in the event of a power outage. The first time we did this, MG walked us through the protocol, and it was not a simple process. There were little fine tuned considerations that were critical and if they weren't done, then the tank wouldn't prime properly.

Of course, I'd forgotten all of them. It was three years ago, after all, so I couldn't remember what to do. I was clearly doing something wrong, because it wasn't working, and we had to go. The kids were waiting in the car.

I decided that it would have to wait. I hopped in the car and we left, with the dilemma weighing heavily on my mind. How were we going to use the bathroom when we got home? How were going to shower? How were we going to make Ovaltine?

I never had a chance to research the problem on the web, and when we met mom for dinner, I told her the problem, thus ruining our collective meal. We sat and ate in somber silence, but weren't depressed enough to pass up on a trip the bookstore for cocoas and cake.

To be continued. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Fred Green for the pic.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Waiting for My Turn

Well, as luck would have it, a few days before our big sojourn to the tropical islands, and we are sick. Actually, three-fourths of us are sick, I've yet to get hit with the bug, yet I know it's inevitable. With this in mind, knowing that I have little say in this matter, but perhaps sooner would be better than later. The bright side to all this is that we are (at least 3/4 of us) are getting sick before the trip, so hopefully we'll (or should I say "they") will be healthy before we board the plane. It's looking like that will be a distinct possibility. Me, on the other hand, will simply have to suffer accordingly. Oh well, such is life.

It all started a few days ago, after our big swimming ordeal with YKW. Not that she had anything to do with it, but it's interesting to consider the timing of it all. Anyway, N started with a cough, which built up to a pretty good sized cold. He sounded rough, and was coughing a fair amount. Enough to worry mom and dad. After a few days, A caught it, as did mom. Fortunately I was well enough to hold down the fort, not that a SAHD has much choice. That's one of the big luxuries you lose when you become a parent, or at least one who gives a damn about their family, and that's self-indulgence. There's just no room for it, life goes on. For the record, there are plenty of parents I've met who are still shamelessly self-indulgent, but I won't get into that here.

We've had to cancel several activities and lessons all week long, but it's been nice just hanging out at home and not having to run around. We're usually on the other side of this equation, all dressed up and nowhere to go, or rather, no car to take us to where we want to go. Now that we have wheels, thanks to my Mentor, of course, we can go places and actually be somebody. I'll be sad when my Mentor takes that car back, but he'll have to unchain me from the steering wheel first... just kidding.

I think the kids are feeling much better, and I'm just waiting for my turn. It's looking more and more like I'll be sick on vacation, but that's okay. At least I'll have plenty of time to rest.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to David Lat for the pic.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Perfect Storm

Now normally I'm a big fan of snow, and the more we get, the merrier. Sure, this will result in a bear of a mud season, and there's so much work to do when it snows, but hey, we love the stuff... sort of. You see, as much as I love the snow, we haven't gotten much this winter. It's been terrible for snow. We've managed to get a lot of skiing in, and personally, I would ski every day, but the kids are now done with it. I couldn't pay them to go skiing. Factor in the recent warm spell that we just had (you can see the ground on the driveway), and it pretty much culminated in a perfect storm of discontent over the recent snowfall we just had. I mean, come on already, I was ready for spring, and now this?

It must have dumped at least a foot overnight, which means that not only is winter holding on for dear life, but now I have to go out and shovel and rake the roof. I know I'm being a whiny baby, but I can't even go skiing because nobody will join me.

At least it was fun digging tunnels and making snow forts with N. After KB plowed (I kept thinking he was going to bring over YKW), there were massive snow drifts that are like Disneyland to Vermonters. We had a blast.

And I have to confess, it is pretty. There's something about winter in Vermont that you just have to love... most of the time. I'm just wondering where all this snow was in January, but then again, you can't have it all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thoughts On Our Upcoming Trip

We are planning our big vacation by doing what we always do, which is not planning. It seems as if we wait until the last minute to take care of everything, including where we're going to sleep and where we'll get a rental car. To some people, these are fairly important issues.

Anyway, we're off to the Islands, and looking forward to some time in the sand and surf. My understanding is that there is no internet on this island, it's fairly undeveloped and very pristine. This, of course, means that I can't blog, and for that matter, write content. This is a bummer, but looking at the bright side, I can work on other things that my blogging and content writing completely distract me from. Also, I've had a recent revelation about travel writing that I'm going to tweak during out trip.

Plus, we'll get to swim and cavort in the sand, and best of all, spend lots of quality time together, which is one of the aspects of travel that we love best. A family that adapts to travel together really comes together as one, you can't beat the experience. Sure, it can be painful at times, but so is childbirth (at least from what I'm told), and that doesn't stop moms from having babies. Besides, everyone is excited, and we just got loads of snow, but more on this later.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ivan Prole for the pic.

New Eating Patterns

Dinner is usually our big family meal together, but we've recently switched over to more of a European model by eating small meals in the evening, figuring that we don't have to eat a big meal just to be together. The problem I have is that dinner is a good time to serve the big bolus of veggies that make us healthy and strong, but big dinners are not only a pain to prepare, but a pain to clean up, and a pain, sometimes, to eat. By eating a smaller dinner, everyone's life becomes easier. The key, In think, is just serving fewer things. We generally make a protein, a starch, and two veggies, one green, one red/orange. Talk about a chore.

Now we're simplifying, and even just having soup and bread for dinner, maybe a raw veggie with ranch dressing, which is another great way to get veggies. Eat 'em raw.

We'll see how long this lasts. I do feel better about not eating so much so late in the day, and again, it's less to prepare. A win-win situation.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ilker for the pic.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Boy's and Girl's Day

R and A have a new thing that I may or may not have mentioned before, but they enjoy spending the day together sans men. This worked out beautifully in the past, because they would hit the town and do lunch and maybe shop a little, and then grab a bite before coming home. Meanwhile, the guys would ski. It was great, then we'd hit the lodge, have some hot cocoa, and then we would all meet at home for dinner. What more could you ask for?

Well, my time in Eden came crashing down with the revelation that N no longer wants to ski. He's done. I stopped just short of begging him to ski a few more times before the season was over, and he said, "No thanks." Not wanting to force the issue, I was resigned to the fact that ski season was over. Bummer.

Oh well, on to the next things. This past weekend R&A headed out and N and I went for lunch and then went bowling. We usually go during the week, so the crowd is not bad at all, but I've learned that on weekends, the place is completely insane. Crowds like you wouldn't believe, there must have been at least three birthday parties. We were denied a lane, (are you sure you don't want to ski?) so we headed over to the PH Mall, where we actually scored a pair of skates for mom. She had been skating on a pair that came over on the Mayflower and were causing her great discomfort, so when the opportunity presented itself, we had to act. In fact, we got the very last pair of ice skates that they had at LL Bean, and they just so happened to be on clearance. 30% off the already 40% discount. I love that place.

After the mall, we went to Lebanon Pet Store to see the depressing birds that cost thousands of dollars (who buys these things?), and by then it was nearly 4 pm. A perfect opportunity to head home, but I felt bad that we were denied the chance to bowl, so I figured we'd try one last time, and sure enough, we got a lane.

We had fun bowling, it's always a fun time, though the bowling alley is a little seedy, and a bit depressing, but what kid is going to notice that?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bill Silvermintz for the pic.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just Can't Win With YKW

This is truly amazing, but in a way, it's really to be expected.

It involves the infamous YKW, or rather, the return of YKW. I'm not sure what to make of it all.

We hadn't seen or heard from YKW in awhile, and that was fine. We're busy on both ends, moving ahead with our lives, with the occasional back and forth with messages for playdates that go unanswered. Well, the other day, A wanted to call her, and she had a busy day planned but had time for a playdate in the AM before her day began. I thought it was a little silly, an hour or two of playdate before going to her friends and then hockey practice, but the kids were excited, and it seemed fine.

She came over, they had a great time, and then we both went about our day. The problem is, it seemed to rekindle A's feelings for YKW, and pretty much over the next two days, all she could talk about was YKW's birthday, which was in a day or two. It was bordering on obsession. She wanted to go to the store and buy YKW something, or go to Joanne's to buy some craft stuff to make her something. I couldn't believe it.

I wanted to sit A down and tell her, she is not your best friend. Sure, she's a friend, but she continually manages to ignore her and blow her off and treat her poorly in so many situations. That's her right, and kids will be kids, but I want A to recognize that real best friends don't treat each other that way. In fact, when we were skiing, A wanted to leave early to go shopping for YKW, and I said no way. I told her she needed to keep her cool, it wasn't healthy to be crazy about someone, especially when it's so one-sided, but maybe that's just her way.

In light of my lecture, A decided to make something with what she had, and she made a really cool ring and a necklace with beads. She also created her own card and decorated it. It was so cute, so creative and thoughtful, and of course, something a kid could never truly appreciate. Adults, especially parents, can see the amazing value in these things, but kids want the brand name stuff they see on TV.

Either way, on the day of YKW's birthday, A called and left her a birthday message. We were planning on going to the Aquatic Center (AC) and swimming, so on our way out, we stopped at YKW's house and left her the presents that A made. They were not home, so we assumed they were out and about, or doing birthday things.

Well, guess what kind of birthday things? When we got to the pool, who should we see but none other than YKW, there for her birthday party that completely excluded A. I couldn't believe it. When I saw YKW's mom, my heart sank, because I put 2 and 2 together and realized what was going on.

The saving grace was that the pool was crowded, crazy crowded, and there were several people we knew there. As far as I was concerned, however, all that mattered was that we picked the worst day to come. Talk about bad timing, you just can't win sometimes.

Worst of all, A saw YKW in the locker room and came out delirious with joy. She spent the next half hour staring at the locker room door waiting for her to emerge. She kept asking me, where is she? I wanted to tell her, get a grip, she is not your best friend. She doesn't feel that way about you, don't get all crazy about her. She's just a friend, leave it at that. She didn't even consider inviting you to her birthday.

Of course, I didn't say any of those things, but deep down, I just wanted to pack up leave. At one point, it took YKW and her entourage at least half an hour to come out, and I was beginning to think we lucked out and they had left. But sure enough, they suddenly appeared, YKW with her pals. Because of the chaos, I don't think A noticed at first, thankfully.

Now I'd like to clarify that I don't think YKW has any obligation whatsoever to invite our daughter to her birthday. She has every right to choose her friends, but what kind of dumb luck is it to run into them at the pool, making it painfully obvious that she couldn't care less about A? That kind of hurts, especially in light of the fact that these guys were good friends at one time, and she was just over at our house and had a great time. At least I think she had a great time.

It was weird, I just wanted either them or us to leave, it made the time awkward. It seems like such a commonplace thing now that when we go places or do things, YKW shows up with her other friends and blows A off, completely. Again, this is fine, it's her right to choose her friends, I just wish A was more cognizant of this fact and didn't deify her.

On a bright note, we saw some of our friends that we'd lost touch with, and eventually YKW did leave with her pals, so I could finally relax. The kids had loads of fun, but it was all overshadowed by the fact that, once again, YKW let it be known that she can't be bothered to give A the time of day when she's with certain company.

And you want to know the topper of the day? After swimming, A wanted to go home and call YKW to tell her happy birthday in person. I told her I'd think about it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to engindeniz for the pic.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

In a futile effort on my part to be cool in front of my kids, which is ridiculous when you realize that as a parent, you'll never be cool in the eyes of your kids but will instead be a constant source of embarrassment, I was trying to do some tricks on my snowboard and ended up hurting my back. We'd built a jump in the backyard that was reasonably high. It was basically a long block of maple that the kids use as a bench. We covered it in snow and it made a fairly substantial jump.

The kids were sledding off of it and getting pretty good air, so naturally, wanting to fit in, I strapped on my board and jumped off it. It wasn't bad, but after about ten times, I began to realize that it was fairly jarring on the landing, especially on my back. Throw in a few wipeouts, and it spells disaster.

My back was killing me, to the point where I couldn't even get off the couch. It didn't help that we went skiing the next day, but in retrospect, it could have been our last time.

Now I suffer for my stupidity, but stupid is as stupid does. It ain't easy trying to be cool, especially when you fail so miserably.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

The End is Near and Swimming Revelations

This may be painfully premature, but I get the distinct impression that winter is over. Not only can we see our driveway, but the other day we went to the rec center skating rink as well as out neighbor's pond, and both of them were un-skate-able. Talk about a bummer, but winter is done, and mud season is on the way.

I realize that it's only February, and we could easily get socked with snow in March or April. In fact, we probably will, but the winter was noticeably deficient in snow.

And, the kids are done with skiing. N, of all people, the skiing machine, no longer wants to ski, which, of course, means dad no longer gets to ski. Wah!

On to the next activity. We went to the indoor pool the other day and though I'm cynical about that place (too much like Disneyland), everyone had fun, and it's a great way for them to get exercise, at least until they can swim outside. Also, there were tons of kids, and they have wireless internet, so I could conceivably work on my computer while they swim. Not a bad idea.

We'll see where this one goes, but we have to replace skiing and ice skating, and until the ground thaws and dries out, our bikes will stay in storage.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Spring in air, ice is melting, mud is coming, skiing done
kids done skiing (wah) and now want to swim
went to aquatic center expensive, like disneyland

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day and Anniversary

Last weekend was Valentine's Day, and though we're not big on the whole holiday/consumer blitz, it also happens to be our anniversary. It doesn't get any more cliche than that, but R and I were married on Valentine's Day in New York City. Talk about your New York City events, we were in line at City Hall with people from all walks of life, complete with pink tuxedos and Elvis impersonators (well, maybe that's a stretch).

Either way, it doesn't take much to just say your care and share your thoughts. This is especially true with kids, who don't need an excuse to have a good time. A&N actually made some really cool V-day things for mom and dad, and contrary to times past, it was actually N who took charge and started the whole thing. He brought down a V-day card and two bracelets for us, and besides being overwhelmed by the creativity, cuteness and thoughtfulness of it all, we were really taken by surprise. These sort of things are usually the provenance of A.

Of course, not to be outdone, A made us heart cards that were very creative and cute, and it turned out to be a fabulous anniversary/V-day. The chocolate auction helped.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to A&N for the wonderful V-day surprises.

How Can You Argue With That?

The other morning N was asking for a bagel for breakfast, and when I asked him if he wanted butter or cream cheese, he said he wanted honey-walnut cream cheese. I told him that we didn't have any, and what was his response?

He said, "You could always just make some."

How can you argue with that?

So I made some, it was easy enough, and then I enjoyed some myself.

After breakfast we attended an auction for, of all things, chocolate. They were selling homemade chocolate stuff to benefit the local church, so we went along to check out the goods. We got there late and half the stuff was taken, but we managed to get some fudge. For the record, we had to kick and scream just to get that, the bidding wars were fierce.

Even still, it was a lot of fun, we saw plenty of friends, though I have to confess, I've had better fudge. In fact, it inspired me to give it a go myself, but more on that later.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Byron Solomon for the pic.

Winter Party at Occom Pond

Okay, so I'm slipping into the abyss of procrastination in regards to my blog, but in my defense, there are plenty of other things going on. Either way, last weekend we went to the Occom Pond Winter festival, and what a cool party it was. Regardless of the fact that it's been a terrible winter in terms of snow, they managed to get their ice sculptures up and the party was a blast. There were hundred of people there, including the HN crowd, but a good time was had by all. Also, we got to see the Macks, which made it fun for the kids. There were plenty of familiar faces and because the pond is so huge, A&N got to zip around and go crazy. Especially N, who is an animal on skates. We'd left behind our hockey sticks, which was fortuitous, because they were discouraging people from playing hockey and disrupting the festivities. I'm all for that, the HN crowd is a bit too thick with hockey player mentality, anyway.

We chowed on burgers and hot dogs, and a good time was had by all. We literally skated until the sun went down.

After the fest, we went to the bookstore and hung out, then had dinner at our favorite haunt, Bolocos. By the time we headed out, it was after 7:30 and time to get home and get some rest.

Unfortuntately, this meant we would miss the Tiki Torch Trek, which is a family favorite. The conditions were poor, but that didn't mean we couldn't simply walk over and support our community. Oh well, next year. I feel bad for missing it, but it's a bit of a stretch to try and do too many things, which in this case is two.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bert Brinkman for the pic.

had fun, ate, skated, saw friends

Friday, February 12, 2010

Figuring Out the Explorer

Being the simpleton that I am, I find certain cars, mainly newer American cars, have way too much automation that takes responsibility out of your own hands, whether it's automatically locking your doors or turning on the lights for you. They remove the need to think and allow you to go through life like a mindless robot, and in the end, I just get overwhelmed and end up using a fraction of them. Case in point, my Mentor's Explorer.

Mind you, I'm not complaining, I love that car. As a matter of fact, being in possession of only one car, I love any car that runs and gets us from point A to B, but how many settings do you really need for the windshield wipers? There must be at least 15 speeds, and I find myself getting all OCD over finding just the right speed. In a way, too many choices simply bog you down.

Another problem I have been having is with the darn headlights. One thing I've never really been a big fan of are lights on cars that you cannot turn off. Another thing I find disconcerting is when the lights don't turn off after you've killed the ignition. I assumed you could adjust these issues, but never knew how. Until now, that is.

I just learned that the adjustment for the lights is in, of all places, the rear-view mirror. Go figure. Now, not only are the lights under manual control, but they no longer stay on after I turn the car off. The funny thing is, as disparaging as you can be about automation, you get used to it and find that, at least at first, you kind of miss it. Oh well, what are you gonna do?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sasan Saidi for the pick.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


As I've mentioned before, the kids are taking drama classes at the local theater troupe, and so far they've loved it. A&N have a flair for drama, something R will tell you they've inherited from be because I tend to become dramatic about everything, but what do you expect? I'm from L.A. Either way, the stage seems like a nice outlet, and A loves performing, at least on guitar. Then again, it's different when you have an instrument to keep you company, or even hide behind. When you're acting onstage, it's just and the audience.

We knew the local theater offered drama classes, and even had a friend who had taken them, but he's an uber thespian who is destined for greatness. How would our kids respond. The theater is the real deal, they put on plays and use local talent, even kids, so there is potential for real deal acting. We asked the kids if they were interested in continuing, and they responded with a resounding Yes!

The question then becomes, do we maintain the status quo, or attempt to move forward. The classes can either be just for fun, or you can use them to prepare for a life on the big stage. In other words, after moving on from the fun/play classes, they offer actual acting classes that allow the kids to hone in their dramatic abilities. We personally think the kids benefit from some challenge, but also want them to have fun.

For N, I think serious acting classes are a year or two off, but for A, she could get a lot out of it. The original plan was she would take the prerequisite fun class, then start taking technique classes, whether or not she wants to actually act, which I believe she does. The reason I began to question what seemed like a natural progression was because one of the moms said her daughter wanted to do the same but the teacher seemed to indicate that they might want to consider repeating the fun class until the student was ready.

Well, I wasn't sure what to make of this, but suddenly I was filled with doubt. Was A ready to move forward, or should she stay back. I posed the question to her teacher, and she responded with an emphatic "Yes!" She said A was ready to move forward, and even though she loved having her in the fun class and would miss her, she really felt she was ready to learn some technique.

Say no more. We will ask her what she wants, but she has hinted that she wants to learn more, as well, even though she adores the fun class. The big stage is calling her.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to rakesh vaghela for the pic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Fest and More Winter Fest

Our town, like most towns around here, have a little winter celebration, and in the past we'd never really checked it out. This year, however, we decided to go, and we ended up having a great time. I'm not completely sure what inspired us to go, because it's not really advertised other than on the town bulletin board, which we zip past every day and don't always take the time to read.

Anyway, we knew of it, but hadn't taken the time to go. This year was different, and for the life of me, I can't remember what exactly was different about it, but we went... I know, one of the kid's friends called and asked us to meet them there at the skating rink. That's what motivated us.

It was really well done, they did a nice job, and I heard later that it was smaller than previous years. There was a chili cook-off, sled dog rides (really cool), a silent auction, and ice skating. There was supposed to be a snowman contest but I think they ditched it due to lack of participation, which is kind of sad. The sled dogs, however, were really cool. Those dogs are amazing, they live to work, and like sheep-herding dogs, if they don't have a job to do, they go a little nuts. I could see it in their eyes. Beautiful animals, though.

We tried the chili, at hot dogs, and skated like crazy. The kids had a blast, though one of their friends thought it was too crowded and wanted to leave. We actually met up with them later at the local pond and skated some more, but for the most part, we enjoyed our time at the carnival. We even got a couple of things at the auction, so we were looking good.

I think part of the reason the turnout was so low was due to the fact that we haven't gotten any snow except a few inches, and that was months ago. What's going on?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to jet steverink for the pic.

Lights, Camera, Action!

So we've just discovered that our little digital camera makes movies. Actually, we had some sense of this because it seems like all digital cameras do this sort of thing, but we've never really dabbled in all the things it can do. Too many bells and whistles for me, I like the point and shoot kind of thing. Either way, when we hang out at GK&T's, they have the same camera and the kids make little movies. Extrapolating that knowledge to our camera, the kids actually sat down and started making short home movies, and they are a scream. So funny, so cute, and believe it or not, so well thought out.

A tends to take the helm and N gets to the be the star, but you can tell that a lot of thought went into the scripting and staging. There are even props. The end result are little movies that the kids can be proud of, and mom and dad get a huge kick out of it all.

Needless to say, we are ready to send the kids to movie-making school, tomorrow. Just kidding, but we've been toying all along with the idea of getting a movie camera, at least something they could make some stop action animated movies with, which could be a lot of fun and a great creative outlet. I'm thinking it's in the stars, even getting R's seal of approval, so stay tuned. For now, we'll make shorts with our point and shoot.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Alek von Felkerzam for the pic.

Making movies, they're hilarious, lots of thought put into it. Could be a creative avenue to pursue. I'm from LA, so it's in our genes

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dumpling Fever

We had family dumpling night the other night, and not only did we make one of our favorite meals, but it's really fun as a family affair. Also, we tried using round skins vs. the standard squares, and the results were great. We liked the end result, and they were easy to make. We made this go around but we are still searching for the elusive killer vegetarian dumpling. You know, the life-altering kind. It's out there, so we're bound to find it. And once we do, there may be no stopping us.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Family Baking and Healthy Snacks

We had quite the family bakeoff the other day, and not only did everyone have fun, but the kids displayed amazing prowess in the kitchen, helping me out a great deal, but we also had fun, knocked off most of the day, and made healthy baked goods. A win-win-win situation if there ever was one.

Normally when the kids want to help out in the kitchen, I have to take the word "help" with a grain of salt, because the reality of the matter is, sometimes more helping hands results in more work for yours truly, not to mention more time. The thing is, I don't want to discourage them from becoming comfortable in the kitchen, especially when they are so eager and enthusiastic to help. Plus, it's good for kids to not be intimidated by cooking, it's really not that difficult, and oh so rewarding. And finally, from a guy's POV, knowing how to cook really impresses the chicks.

So, with that in mind, we set out to bake like crazy. On the agenda were mom's raisin bread, which we make every week, some oatmeal-raisin cookies, and some raspberry bars. Throw in some bread crumbs for good measure, and we have a guaranteed stressful time for dad. What more could you ask for.

Usually we make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which I can literally inhale like peanuts, but I'd resolved to consume my sugar and fat with more complex carbs (it's healthier), so naturally oats and whole grains were in order. I was going to make oatmeal cookies, but A said she could do it, and sure enough, she did them all by her lonesome. Making cookies is not always easy, but she did a stellar job, and I didn't have to help. We went with cookie bars since it's easier, and used pecans instead of walnuts because we like them better. Also, because the eating experience is so involved, it is easy to sequester some flax seeds in there.

N helped me to make the raspberry bars, which requires something akin to a pie crust. On thing I've learned is that a great way to make pie crusts is to use a food processor. Simply amazing. It grinds it up in no time, and no pastry whatever-you-call-them involved. N took charge and made the crust, then spread the raspberry preserves, and then added the top crust. I cut back on the butter and I think it suffered a bit in terms of composition, but was healthier.

And then we were done. Won't mommy be impressed when she sees how much we've done? I also learned yet another great lesson in lightening up and letting the kids do their thing, because they are way more competent than we give them credit for, and sometimes we just need to be reminded of this.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Drama In Our Lives

We had a little drama (or rather, an opportunity for me to make drama) with the car the other day... on our way to drama, no less. Just as we were about to leave for class, the front tire was flat. What a bummer. The front driver side and back passenger side tires have leaking problems, and I continually fill them with air. It's easy enough, but requires stopping at the local gas station, one of the few that has free air, and filling up. I attributed it to leaky valve stems. It's never deflated completely to the point where I can't drive it, until now. I was planning on having the tires plugged up but of course put it off until who knows when.

Worst of all, we had to leave. Well, in a stroke of good fortune, I actually have, if you can believe this one, an air compressor. It's part of the jump box we have, and though it's slow as molasses, it works. I was able to fill the tire enough to get over to the gas station and fill up. Then, we made it to drama class, dropped A off, then headed over to Tip Top Tire, where they took us in on the spot and fixed the problem. It turns out that it was the valve stems. Replaced.

Relieved, N and I had time to hit the bowling alley, bowl two games, do the arcade, then pick up A at drama class.

We also met another home school family that is in the class, and we exchanged contact information because the girl is about A's age. And she's a skier.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pottery Playdate, Slacking on This Blog and Aspiring Novelist

We had a surprise playdate with our pottery crew because the K&J had plans for the next two weeks for A&D, so I got an email the day before informing me that they would be there. No problem, our mornings are flexible, it's our afternoons that are crazy. So we we went and hung out, and had a blast, as usual. It's funny because the kids seem almost ambivalent about the pottery. Don't get me wrong, they love working with the clay, it's just at some point they start to lose focus and become silly. It's fun for them, and with snacks and beverages, their day is complete.

It's the dads who get into their clay projects and enjoy the chat time. Have we become suburban housewives, or what? K is an artist and a craftsman, and you can really see it in his work, he doesn't mess around. Whereas I sit there and make little knick-knacky things, he makes real, functional pieces of work. Pretty cool, makes me feel a little inadequate... sort of.

I've also been busy earning peanuts with my paid gigs, so have been neglecting this blog. Sorry to the millions of readers who wait with bated breath each day for a new entry. I'll get my act together. In my defense, I've had to assume my place in the queue to use my own computer. Our daughter has become a budding novelist and now monopolizes my laptop. Between her composition and N's educational learning games, where do I fit in? Oh well, the life of a parent.

It's cute, though, listening and watching A. She really gets into it, and puts a lot of thought into her writing. In fact, we were walking the other day and she said she hopes to one day write a novel, how cool is that? We may need to get another computer, but one thing at a time.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Family Dumplings

The other day we spent the better part of the afternoon making dumplings, and not only did we get a family favorite meal out of it, but what a great family-time activity. The kid really enjoy making them, and we all get to sit around and hang out. Best of all, we chow down hard on the fruits of our labors.

I was at the store and got round wrappers vs. the usual square ones, and we ended up liking them better. Easier to make, though the round ones are hard to find. I wonder if we could make out own? Hmm....

We use different variations on our fillings, but when you really get down to it, the sky's the limit. Which got us to thinking, maybe we could make a vegetarian dumpling that would make even the hardiest of meat eaters forsake their love of flesh. You never know.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.