Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bike Repair and Revelations

Something I'd put off for who knows how long was replacing the tires on N's bike. They were in reasonably bad shape, no doubt about it, but it was not as if we were doing any high stress or impact riding. They were adequate, but it clearly bothered him, enough to discourage him riding it and instead, opting for his old bike.

I'd even got him the new tires, they were sitting in the barn, collecting dust, and he would keep asking me, "When are we going to put the new tires on?"

Finally, the other day, I put everything off, sat down with him, and we replace the tires. It's not rocket science, it just requires that you get a little dirty. In fact, it reminds me of when I was kid. We used to sit around the neighborhood and take apart our bikes, sometimes ruining them in the process, but oh the things we learned.

Now he's got new tires, and is enjoying his new ride. There's something special about a boy and his ride, you just can't put a price on these moments. Now, of course, we need to get new brake pads, but we'll head on over to Paradise Sports and get them. I love that store, BTW, because not only is it a killer store with a cool cast of characters, but it's local. You can't beat that.

Speaking of bikes, I had a revelation about A's bike. I got her bike essentially for free. It was left over from a yard sale, and the sign said everything remaining was free. It has a $10 price tag, so I left the money and took the bike. It is in decent shape, but was not the most picturesque piece of machinery. A is a good sport, however, and said looks didn't matter, and she could add stickers and spruce it up. Of course, the stickers all fell off, and she had alluded to the fact that she wasn't so keen on the dull gray color.

I told her we'd keep an eye out for a nicer, spiffier bike, but she didn't make issue of it. Then it dawned on me that we could get her one and then either R and I could ride hers. It's a 24 incher, and we ride 26 inchers. The difference is negligible considering the riding that we do, which is family style cruising. We need a 4th bike for family outings since we only have 3. This way, A can have a cool new(ish) bike, and we have a bike for every family member. How cool is that?

Now I just need to find a new bike. Oh well, the search never ends. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gabriella Silvestrini for the pic.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fun Friday

The weekend, and we had a nice Friday to cap off a busy week. In other words, more things to do and places to be, but excuse me for being so darn cynical. We ventured out to get our beef and found good vibes with the farmers. Afterward, came home in time to eat lunch (the kids thankfully finished their school work in the morning) and then do some stuff around the house. By the afternoon, it was time for story hour, and again, it's nice because A&N get to hang with school kids in an afterschool activity.

There are a bunch of nice kids, though N is not into the story or the craft, so I end up entertaining him. With the nice weather, however, he can ride his bike, and we can start Spring training for the upcoming t-ball season. I hope I don't end up having to coach, but you never know.

We'd also been invited to dinner at HH's house, leaving us little time in between. We came home after story hour, got a few things together, met with R, and headed over. Just a side note, and I don't know why I'm so stupid to fall into this trap, but HH's daughter asked me what I was bringing, and I told her brownies. She mentioned that everyone else was bringing deserts and that the needed more beverages.

I should have realized she didn't completely know what she was talking about, but fell for it, anyway. We went to a couple of stores looking for drinks, but all they had were high-fructose corn syrup garbage, so I nixed that idea. I called R and asked her to get some juice. Of course, when we got to HH's, they had plenty to drink, and the OJ went unopened. I shoulda known betta.

The party was nice, and the kids had a blast, even though the temp outside was freezing. My karate teacher's wife was there, and their daughter is a super nice kid. Everyone had fun, and it was a really nice dinner, though the soup ran out quickly, and I was starving, so I ended up eating all of the bread. What a pig I am.

Wow, are we social animals, or what?

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

Bowling With A

We've developed a nice routine on drama nights. When A has class, N and I go bowling, one of his favorite activities. I have to confess, it's a lot of fun, and it's a scream watching him bowl, he gets so into it, and when he hits a strike or spare, the sun seems to shine a little brighter on the world. How can you beat that? Usually when N has class, A and I go to the coffee shop and have cocoa and scones and relax.

The other day, however, A wanted to change things up and go bowling. Sounds good. I don't do as much with just her, it's usually the guys and girls hanging with each other, so it was a good opportunity to spend quality time with her, and we had a blast. She's a good bowler, nice form. She must get it from her mom, who is not only a good bowler, but has good movement and form. So much so, in fact, that it's really enjoyable watching her in motion. Must stem from being a dancer.

Not to deviate too much from the subject, but I remember in NYC, before we started going out, that I used to enjoy just watching her walk down the street, like poetry in motion.

Anyway, A and I had a nice time bowling, though I ended up beating her, and I didn't want to. She's not super competitive, so she was unfazed, and it's good for her to lose now and then. She also scored big in the arcade, and won a bunch of tickets, which we liquidated for some cool flying helicopters. Half the fun of bowling is doing the skee-ball and other games, and then redeeming the tickets for toys. The helicopters were cool, though I think it's time to stem the tide of toy accumulation.

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

Busy Week, No Time to Breathe

It seems as if the more we try to simplify life and slow things down, the crazier things get. It could be do to the weather change. As we shift into Spring, there is so much to do, on the home front and with kid's activities.

Case in point, with all the stuff the A&N have going on, we are running around quite a bit. It's a bit crazy, though I think the kids sort of like it. The classes for drama are a lot of fun, but for A, they require a bit of diligence and work, because she not only has to remember her lines, but she has to add a little panache, being an actor, and all. She's good at it, and she's also has a pretty good memory, so it works out, though initially she was a bit frustrated and overwhelmed. I do think she benefits from a little challenge, as do all of us.

A has three drama productions currently going, and sometimes I ask myself what I've gotten her into. She has the school musical, the drama class, and the local play. In all honesty, I only wanted her in the school play to be immersed with other kids her age. Plus, a lot of them are her friends, and it's nice for her to be with them on a regular basis. She's playing a supporting role, so the pressure is not high, and she likes it.

The local play will be fun, as well, and will involve mainly something that comes naturally for her - playing guitar and singing. There might be a tiny bit of acting, but for the most part, it will be fun, especially since she gets to work with the locals, doing something she's done before.

The real challenge for her is her class. They have a lot of fun, but they teach real drama here, and it's not just all fun and games. Again, I think it's good for her, even if it's difficult at times. The end result should be the reward, and we'll see how that goes. Her memorizing capabilities and her flair for drama will work in her favor. She's the youngest in the class, which I think is good, because she does better with older kids. Also, she's hanging with the imaginative, creative, and quirky acting types, which also seems to suit her.

On top of all that, we've got plenty of other stuff going on. We have to prepare for the farmer's market, making our product. We did find a local beef provider who has gotten rave reviews for their grass fed beef. They are up in Pomfret, and they homeschool, as well. How cool is that? Actually, her daughter was homeschooled to the age of 14 and is now at the local HS, and her son is being homeschooled but takes classes at the school.

It's funny because I went to pick up the meat around noon, and because I was with the kids, she immediately pegged us as homeschoolers. Ah, so nice to meet kindred spirits in unexpected places. It's amazingly beautiful up there, BTW, and the farm was really nice.

Now we've got the meat, we have to do something with it. Eat it, perhaps? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Daniel Foster and Marijn van Braak for the pics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Re-Entering the 21st Century and the Weekend

Okay, things are getting ugly over here with my blogs, only in terms of staying on top of things, that is. It seems like it doesn't take much to let things slide, and suddenly I'm way behind. Bummer, but such is life. You can't dwell on it, because you end up just wasting time dwelling on it.

I called the cell phone company to complain about our free cell phone, only to learn that the problem with it, of course, is my fault. Somehow, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. Besides, how do you complain about something that's free... sort of? It turns out we hadn't charged the thing enough, and when the woman on the help line explained this to me, I could hear the disdain in her voice concerning what a total loser I was for not trying that one out.

Oh well, it just goes to show you, you can run from your shortcomings, but you can't hide.

One other notes, we had a really nice weekend, albeit two weekends ago, bearing in mind that I'm really behind here. We went to a birthday party at DCC&S', it was CH's big day. The party was very mellow and low key, and the kids had a blast. In a testament to what a great kid he is, C ended up as the master of ceremonies, and he pretty much ran the whole thing. Made it easy for mom and dad.

I felt sort of bad because when we have playdates, it's usually a time when CH (the mom) and I chat about homeschooling and share parenting war stories, but we ended up dropping the kids off for two reasons. One, I had a ton of stuff to do at home, none of which I was able to finish. And two (more importantly), we think it's good for the kids to have fun with mom and dad hovering over them. We spend a lot of time together, and I'm an overbearing parent, so it's good for everyone involved, a part of growing up as, they say.

A&N had a really nice time, ate lots of junk food, and that was our day. What more could you ask for?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michal Ufniak and COFFY | MOTIONDESIGN

got our phone to work, for now
had a great weekend, went to a birthday

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I never really know how these things transpire, but are busy as heck over here. With all this talk of simplifying and slowing things down, life just seems to get crazier. It seems as if every day we have some event to attend to, and when we have a day off, we still manage to find somewhere to be. Thank goodness for my Mentor and his car. We couldn't live without that thing, though I'm aware that our time in Eden is limited, and with this in mind, we are initiating our search for a second car, or at least a horse drawn carriage. Again, R and I have philosophical differences in this arena. I'm all for buying cheap and driving it into the ground, while she wants to wait and get something good that will last. Personally, I would take anything that moves, just to have a vehicle.

We'll work this out, not that we have a choice.

Having the second vehicle has enabled us to partake in numerous extracurricular activities, which also can make a person crazy, but what parent out there isn't a little crazy? Both the kids are doing drama, which takes up Mon and Tue, and there are drum lessons on Wed, followed by our regular playdate with GK&T, then A has her musical at school on Thu and Fri, and guitar lessons on Fri. Now that the weather is nicer, we'll probably do some swimming, and once summer kicks in, all heck will break loose. We are doing summer camp this year, but it somehow struck me as exorbitant. They raised their prices, I'm sure of it. All the more reason to get my glorious freelance career up and running, so we can afford this fabulously opulent life.

In the coming month, our town is putting on its own play, and of course A is going to be in that. I know this sounds crazy, but there is a reason for all the madness. I asked A if she were interested in partaking in all these things, and she was enthusiastic about all of them. The main thing is, she's getting a lot of great kid interacting, and with the exception of the drama class, they are, for the most part, low stress. I had planned for it to be that way. We don't have aspirations for our kids to be movie stars, but wanted them to interact with kids with similar interests in an environment that was filled with quirky, imaginative, and individualistic people. What better place than drama?

Either way, she's doing a great job, and enjoying it, and making lots of new friends while also hanging with old ones. A lot of the kids in the school play were also in the Xmas Choir, so she's maintaining friendships.

And, N is really jiving with the kids in his drama class. How cool is that? It's really the guys, they seem to get together and just click, because they can be silly and crazy and just let loose. A good step towards finding his own way. We're just happy that the loves the class so much.

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Exiting the 21st Century

If you can believe this, one day into our new life with a cell phone, and the darn thing doesn't work. For whatever reason, and of course there are no shortages of theories, but our cell phone won't turn on. The kids were fiddling with it all day, learning the intricacies (to eventually teach us) and functions, and suddenly, no life. Not sure what it all means, but it's sort of funny when you really get down to it... sort of.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Entering the 21st Century

Well, if you can believe this one, we finally broke down and got a cell phone. Praise be to Nero's Neptune. Now we just have to learn how to use it. The funny thing is, our kids are so tech savvy, they're teaching us what to do. It amazes me to no end how they can look at something and quickly figure out how it works. They've already got the cell phone down.

One thing that's funny is in the Bahamas at the house we were staying at, they had a cell phone to communicate with. We had the option of getting a calling card and using the phone, which of course we didn't do. One day, the caretakers tried to contact us, and the cell phone at the house started ringing. Neither R or I knew how to work the darn thing, and we sat there helplessly trying to just turn it on. It was pretty pathetic, actually, and it took our kids to explain how to turn it on. Talk about embarrassing.

Now, we actually own one. We thought it would be good for roadside emergencies, like when we can't decide what kind of pizza to get, or if what flavor or ice cream. We got the "el cheapo" plan, which means the phone is really just for times of great need. Which hopefully will be never.

As soon as I learn how to use it, I'll let you know how much we like it. The kids, on the other hand, are besides themselves. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

So Many Things On Our Plate, But Good Things

Lots of things going on in our busy lives. A is involved in several projects, and N has moved up in his classes and absolutely loves his new class. In fact, he can't stop talking about it, and there are a couple of boys that are becoming his buddies. How cool is that. N is starting to embark on his own journey, independent of his big sis, whom he worships. He has been asking to sleep in the guest room, so he can have his "own room," and his interests are really beginning to noticeably diverge. Our kids are growing up.

We had a moment of anxiety and stress on the part of A. She has a lot going on, compliments of yours truly, though I had not intended for it to get so crazy. She is taking a monologue class for drama, at the encouragement of her teacher, but it's not like her previous class, which was all fun and games. Now she's reached the big time, and it will require some commitment and diligence on her part, which are good things.

She's also in the local school play, which is a musical that requires she learn some songs. And she's going to audition for the town play. Factor in her guitar lessons, where she was asked to compose a song in minor chords, and swimming and bike riding and other sorted fun things, and there's a lot going on.

She expressed some reservation, and even hinted that she might not want to continue. Bummer. We don't want to force her to do something she loathes, but we also don't want her to fall into a pattern of just giving up when the going gets tough. Also, these are things she loves, and there is value to working hard at something when it's important to you.

So we are playing it by ear, and after a good nights sleep, she was much more optimistic and enthusiastic about the task at hand. She's learning her script with our assistance, and she knows her songs pretty well (she's a background character, so there's less pressure). She also auditioned for the play and the director/writer/producer loved her act. I, the proud father, was of course beaming in the background.

Things are moving along. If things work out, the obligations will gradually diminish over time. I think there will be one each month, and by June we'll be home free. Nothing like a little challenge to enrich one's life. Then again, once summer hits, there will be camps and swimming and then t-ball, so stay tuned.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Continuation of Good Vibes at Boloco

(not an actual Boloco burrito, but it's all I could find)

We had out weekly meal at (missed it while we were away) Boloco and chatted with the new manager, P. Cool guy, got some insight into the whole Boloco phenom, and learned of the good things they are doing, one of a few eating establishments in the area that is really trying to make a difference. Besides the killer food, cool people, and good overall vibe, yet another reason to eat there.

We love that place, and are happy it's here.

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

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hitting The Ground Running

First day back and we're back in the swing of things. I had to run to the store to get vittles because we were tapped out after returning from our trip. I went to the local Price Chopper, which is good in a pinch, but when you want to do a real food buying trip, you have to go to West Leb. Either way, we are need of healthy eating, something that suffers considerably when you're on the road. I will say this, if I never eat another Oscar Meyer hot dog again, it'll be too soon.

Also, since we've been away, A has been missing some rehearsals for the school play, which she's going to be in. I contacted the teacher and asked if she could join, before consulting with her, of course, thus setting things in motion. I asked her if she was interested, and she said she was, but didn't really know what was in store. We were going to our first rehearsal on Friday.

Fortunately, at least from my POV, we were late in getting in on the show, so the play had been cast and all that was available were supporting roles (flowers, insects, mushrooms, etc.). This took a lot of pressure off but still allowed for A to take part and hang with her buddies, assuming that her friends were in the play.

We jetted off to the school and I finally met JB, the director. Also saw SG and HP in the office, not to mention JM and PA. Anyway, A went to rehearsal, and we saw a bunch of her friends who had the scripts in their hands. Bonus, we knew people in the play. A was excited, as was I.

The rehearsal went well, even though, as I've mentioned, we've missed a few of them. A is pretty good at learning songs, and again, since she's not in the lead, she can ride the coattails of her peers, or hide out amongst them, whichever she chooses.

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

Back To Civilization

Well, believe it or not, we're back from our island paradise and are slipping back into our every day routines, or should I say, sequestering ourselves in them. Something about the warmth and comfort of routines that you have to love.

As I may or may not have mentioned, we had no internet at the place we were at, so I couldn't blog, but in the end, it's probably all for the best, because it would have interfered with our island routine, which consisted of sleeping in, lounging around the house, hitting the beach, playing in the surf, exploring the island, followed by more sleep. How can you beat that?

The trip was originally planned by R as a family getaway, and we would have loved to have had R&J and P&D along, but it was not to be. Realistically, it was a stretch to think everyone could simply drop everything and head on over the islands, especially since they were just over here a couple of months ago, but it was worth a try.

We stayed on an island called, of all things, Long Island, though when we told people this we had to explain that it wasn't LI New York, but LI the Bahamas. Ah, human insecurity, you gotta love it. Long Island is one of the lesser developed islands in the Bahama chain. No big resorts, no casinos, and no shopping, just the way we like it. Lots of local flavor and plenty of time to find your island groove.

Even though the island itself is fairly rustic, the house we stayed in was fabulous. Not quite a mansion, but a really nice house, could have made it into a design magazine. I'm sure there were some professional design touches involved there, and my Mentor would have approved, right down to the slate tiles that covered the entire floor. Don't even want to think about how much that must have cost.

The house was called the Goombay house, and the owner had stocked the fridge with the local beer (tastes like Bud) and a local soft drink called Goombay Punch. Goombay must mean something, have to look into that.

Even though life is mellow on the island, I will say this. There were some of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches I had ever seen, hands down. Right out of a magazine, just fabulous. We spent many hours in the surf, which was rougher than I thought it would be for the Caribbean, not to mention cooler.

We settled into our routines, and had a great time. We had gone for many reasons, but the main one was it was A's birthday, and we wanted to go somewhere special, because she's a pretty special kid. She wanted to be around her grandparents and uncle and aunt, but this time around, it wasn't meant to be. We had fun nonetheless, and I know the beach loving members of this family would have been enamored with the surroundings, while the non-beach loving contingent might not have been as thrilled. Fortunately, all of us are beach loving types. The only thing I would like to have next time is surf-able waves so I can teach the kids to surf. Next time.

We rubbed elbows with the locals, tried to find some local cuisine and failed for the most part, and explored the island. What a great time. At one point, A said it was the best birthday ever, and after hearing that, pretty much nothing else matters. We're glad she had a nice and memorable time.

We arrived back home last night, and I, of course, had loads of anxiety about the trip home, mainly over how to entertain the kids for all those hours. But you know what? They are good travelers, and know how to entertain themselves for the most part, though some of us are better at it than others.

Also, I have to confess, I love JetBlue. What a great airline, preferential seating with families with kids (I know, you're saying all airlines do it, but they don't!), friendly and thorough service (they emailed me confirmations, who ever does that?), and best of all, and the value of this cannot be overstated, but a TV monitor for every seat broadcasting satellite TV. Forget about movies of the week, we had access to Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, etc., all in real time, with your own remote. Say no more, I'm sold, the kids didn't complain a bit during the entire flight.

We had a long day ahead of us on our departure. 8:00 AM flight to Nassau, 11:30 flight to JFK, 4:30 flight to Logan, and then to the hotel to get our car (long term parking), then a 2 hour drive home. How's that for a long day?

While I was stressing about the flights, I figured the drive home part would be the cake walk, but boy was I wrong. The flying went smoothly, we made our connections with time to spare, and the flights were a breeze. The longest one was 2.5 hours, so it really wasn't that bad. The fun part was when we landed in Boston. We took the shuttle back to the hotel where we did park and ride, and sure enough, just as I was worried about in the back of my mind, the battery was dead. Funny how that happens when a car sits for two weeks in the cold.

There was an older couple on the shuttle who were from Minnesota, and the man V wanted to help. He walked over with us and helped me push the car to bump start it, but the two of us couldn't get enough speed. That, and I didn't want the guy to kill himself, he must have been about 70 years old. What a trooper, great guy, he didn't want to give up. He kept saying, "One more try." Meanwhile, I had my AAA card halfway out of my wallet.

It turns out the shuttle driver had a jump box, something I toyed with bringing but didn't want to seem paranoid. Boy was I stupid. I had asked another woman in the parking lot if we could jump off her battery, and she was super nice and agreed, but the driver showed up at the last minute with his box, so we used that.

Once we got it started, we ran into one more problem. The windshield wipers were not working. This happens on occasion, when it gets cold and icy, they freeze up to protect the motor from burning out from excess ice. I'm not sure why they froze this time, but we were bummed, because it was raining, and there was no way that we were going to make it home without wipers. We thought maybe I could drive and R could reach over and squeegee the window now and then, but scrapped that idea. We were on the verge of just getting a hotel room when they magically kicked in, and we were in business.

We burned through an hour and a half by that point, and now we had a long drive home. The kids sacked out (they were secretly lobbying to get a room) while I drove. We got home last night near 11:00, and got the kids into bed, and then could finally relax.

As much as we had a great trip and miss the beach already, it sure is nice to be home. I'll leave it at that. Not sure if I'm going to travel blog this one, it's always hard after the fact, and by then, who really cares?

One final note, the kids started taking pics of their little travel buddies in various locations, and they had this idea of photographing them wherever we travel. What a cool idea.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Okay, today's the big day of our trip, and there's so much to do. We have an early AM flight, so we are staying the night in Boston, where we can leave the car. Before we go, however, we are going to A's drama class tonight where they're having their big recital, how exciting. Before that, there's plenty to do here. We have to clean up, get the cat stuff ready, freeze/compost any extra fruits and veggies, confirm things that need to be confirmed, and of course, pack our bags. Since we're going to a warm climate, packing is simpler, but with kids, you always manage to find more things to bring along. Also, it's A's birthday, so we're bringing some extra stuff.

A is going to be in a school musical, I think, but we're going to miss a week of rehearsal, so it works against us. However, last week there were three consecutive days where school was canceled because of snow or power loss, so we're not missing as much as we could have. I've found a website with the tunes, and we have the lyrics, so we should be okay, but we'll see. In about a week and half we'll attend our first rehearsal, so that will be the true test.

In the meantime, lots to do. As I mentioned, there will be no internet connection where we're going, so I don't think I can blog, but such is life. I'll be too busy recuperating to worry about it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.