Friday, April 30, 2010

New Bike, New Shoes, Guitar, and T-ball.

A had outgrown her bike, and we felt like it was time to upgrade. This way, N could get her old bike, which was a cool Trek that we got at the Omer and Bob's consignment sale. Once he inherited it, A needed a bike. I found one at a yard sale, which was basically free. I put about $30 in a tuneup and some stickers to decorate it, but it was a pale gray color, and not so spectacular. I could tell A was not completely into it, but she never complained, and even said it works fine. When I mentioned that we could get her a nicer one at a later date, her response was that this bike worked fine, and looks didn't matter. It broke my heart to hear it, but I figured she wouldn't cry if she got a different bike, she just didn't want it to go to waste.

Neither did we, even though we got the thing for next to nothing. Then it dawned on me - we needed a fourth bike, so that we could all be mobile. Since A's bike is just one step down from what R and I would ride (A rides a 24 inch wheel, we use a 26 inch wheel), it wasn't unthinkable that we could get her a nicer 24 inch bike, I could ride her 24 inch bike, and R could ride my 26 inch bike. Perfect. Even A like the idea, so long as the other bike didn't go to waste.

This, of course, meant we had to get over to the Omer and Bob's yearly sale, and it happened to fall on the day that I was meeting JH to install doors. T-ball in the afternoon added to our burden, so we had a busy day ahead of us. A also had a guitar lesson with KR.

After JH left, I fixed lunch on the go, to be eaten in the car, and we headed to W. Leb. I wanted to get to the sale ASAP to get the best selection. When we got there, there were several bikes to choose from. I set a limit on price, with some flexibility, and told her to choose 3 bikes, and from there, we'd narrow it down. She ended up picking a cool blue one with shocks, which I thought was too fancy for a kid, but it does make the bike look cool.

Afterward, I felt bad for N because he didn't get anything, but he said he understood. Even still, when they're polite and understanding like that, it makes me feel even worse. Then, it dawned on me that he needed new Crocs. We jetted over to our favorite kid's clothing store, Rugged Bear (I love that place), and wouldn't you know it, but they were having a sale on everything in the store. Score!

He picked out a pair, and we left with everyone happy. We then headed over to KR's for A's guitar lesson, which is always a nice time. We love hanging with her, and she always makes tea and serves treats. It's such a nice time. We also saw DJ walking by with her horses, and I felt bad because we haven't been riding, though I did notice that she was with one girl, and there might be an opening for A to ride. Then again, we don't need yet another thing on our plate.

From KR's, we went home, regrouped, and headed over to the ball field for t-ball, which for the record, N was beside himself with excitement all day, and the day before. T-ball is a story for another time, but suffice it to say that I'd been reluctantly cajoled into coaching, but these are the things you do for your kids.

To paraphrase the great Pete Rose, "I'd run through hell in a gasoline suit for my family." I've used this expression in the past, so excuse me if you know this.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

The Reluctant Coach and Softball Possibilities

On the sports front, we had our first t-ball practice the other night, and as expected, it was a little chaotic. What I find most amazing is how the parents can sit around and watch and do nothing in the way of helping while two adults scramble to find their way. It's a little crazy, if you ask me. As I've mentioned in the past, I never set out to be a coach, and given the choice, I would have balked at the opportunity.

However, N is so thrilled to be playing, he was beside himself, he couldn't stop talking about opening day. In light of this, how can any self-respecting parent not do their best to help him realize his raison d'etre? Besides, the rec center director kind of gave me a very subtle ultimatum. He said that they needed two coaches, and after sending out a request, he had no takers. If things continued this way, he would have hated to have seen the season postponed or even canceled. How the heck would I explain that to N? Furthermore, how could I look at myself in the mirror if I hadn't at least given it a try. Then again, all the other parents don't seem to have a problem with this approach, I'm guessing because things are being taken care of.

Anyway, I agreed. I figured it wouldn't be rocket science, and there was one other parent who agreed to take the helm, so I could in essence be an assistant coach. For one hour, twice a week, we would teach the kids basic baseball fundamentals, and the difference between being a good sport and a punk. I don't think the parents have very high expectations. Plus, I like being there to help out N and give him some pointers. I just find that many kids intimidating, especially with all those parents watching.

The practice wasn't so bad, in the end. Sure, we didn't really know what we were doing, but the head coach, CW, is a take charge kind of person. She is clearly someone who is able to oversee other people, because she's confident and doesn't waver. We broke the kids up into two groups and practiced hitting and fielding/throwing. Most of the kids are 5, some are 6, so N is the elder statesmen. Most of the kids are also girls, so many pink gloves, so it adds an interesting dynamic to the playing field. Plus, N is in essence taking a step back. Last season, he was in the big leagues with kids that were all bigger than him, and the coach threw them into the fire by forsaking the tee and pitching to them. Now, N doesn't want to use the tee, and wants pitches. We may have to adapt, because as anybody knows, you just can't hold a good man down.

I think we need to tweak our plan, because the hitting takes so long that at some point, the kids that I'm throwing with get bored out of their minds. CW is open to suggestions, so I told her we should just scrimmage, and that's probably what we'll do next practice, break up and play a small game. That way they're all engaged in the same thing.

And maybe some other parents will step in. You just never know.

On another front, I learned that on the adjacent field, they have 3rd and 4th grade girls softball. I noticed some of A's friends on the field, and thought she might like to play. I broached it with her and she said she'd think about it, but I think some of the chorus girls are in it. I think because it is girls softball, it won't be as intensively competitive as boys baseball, but we shall see. A is good at playing ball, she can hit the ball, and she has some speed. Catching needs work, but she also has a good arm with good form. In other words, she doesn't "throw like a girl." I hate to be chauvinistic, but it's a valid reference, especially amongst ball players in the know.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Herman Hooyschuur and Maria Yan for the pic.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ready for Broadway, Kids Geling and Having Fun

The community theater is starting to gel, and I think everyone is having fun with it, especially the kids. A really looks forward to rehearsals, and you can get a sense that people really take it seriously. They dedicate a great deal of their time to making this production the real deal, and it's amazing to see. From the writers, to the directors, to the actors and chorus, they volunteer their time and put forth a serious effort. It's beautiful to see, and I'm glad to see that A is having fun with it. Now, if we could just get her to buy into the theater group, life would be good.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bad Parents

A week back we went to the movies and saw How to Train Your Dragon, which the kids loved, though it was a bummer because the movie is made for 3D, but the theater wasn't equipped for it, so no 3D. That didn't deter from our enjoyment of the movie, however, and the kids went nuts for it.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when we were having our separate boys/girls day out, which is becoming a family tradition. R had a meeting to go to, and A wanted to tag along, don't ask me why. Actually, it sort of makes sense. A wanted to go to work with R for "Bring your daughter to work" day, but it didn't work out and she felt somewhat cheated. Wanting to make up for lost time, she thought it would work to attend this meeting, which she was welcome to attend, but I don't think she put too much thought into what was going to go on.

It turns out that not only did the meeting start late (one hour late!), but it bored her to tears. R warned her to bring books and other assorted entertainment, but I think she was ill prepared for just how boring the meeting was going to be, kind of like 99.9% of all meetings. Anyway, the meeting went for at least two hours, during which A was extremely well behaved (the meeting attendees commented as such), but I think she was disappointed. After all, she was hoping to spend quality time with mom.

N & myself, on the other hand, had a grand old time. We went blading, and had pizza and popcorn for lunch, and even sneaked into the parking garage and go to blade on the smooth concrete. It was funny, because we were on the top floor of the garage and I could spy our car in the parking lot, so I knew something was up. They were still in the building, and I assumed that they were having tea at the food court, or something like that. Little did I realize that they were still in the meeting.

We met up afterward at the library, and A was so bummed. In an effort to lift her spirits, the idea of seeing "Dragon" again came up, and she perked up. They loved the idea, the question was, would mom and dad be into it? Then we came up with a plan, which in some parent's eyes may have made us look like bad parents. The inspiration for this plan came from the previous week.

As we were exiting the theater after the first time we saw Dragon, there was a mom waiting for her kids at the exit. She had taken her kids into seeing Dragon, then she and her husband went into the adjoining theater and watched "Date Night." The times were identical. We thought, why not?

Of course, on the day that we were going to attempt this, a few of our friends happened to be in the theater, as well. Long lost friends, all of them former Quechee residents who lived in Hanover or Norwich. This was a little embarrassing, and we spent some time explaining ourselves, but what are you going to do. I didn't really want to sit through Dragon one more time, and our friends B&N were sitting right next to them. We got them some popcorn and a drink, then left them to their own devices. They were thrilled to be on their own.

Meanwhile, we sat through Date Night, which was good, but not necessarily great. I felt comfortable with the plan, and we checked on the kids a few times, but part of me felt a little guilty. Then again, we're around these guys 24/7, they probably can't wait to get away from us.

Afterward, we met them in the hallway, their movie let out before ours, and I wanted them to stay in their seats, but they came out into the hall. B&N were trying to convince them to wait in the lobby where they could sit down, but they stood their ground and waited right there. We were proud of them, but next time I'll make sure they don't have to wait for us.

So we came out of it in one piece. Sure, we left them on their own, but the end result is we all had fun. Then it was off to Boloco for supper, and the end to a (mostly) fun day.

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

Drama May Be Looking Up

Wow, for the first time, A expressed interest and satisfaction, and maybe even a little enjoyment in her drama class. We picked her and her excitement was palpable. Perhaps a sign of realizing the rewards of hard work towards a goal? I sure as heck hope so. In the past, A has expressed reservations about how much she liked it because it was hard work and not as much fun as the make-believe classes. I wanted her to stick with it, not only because I think it would fit her like a glove, but because there is value to hard work and diligence and BLAH BLAH BLAH... This is what our daughter hears coming from my mouth.

Anyway, last class, she was excited, and talked about the desire to practice her monologue so she could do a good job in class and score well. Scoring well was a way to help get your foot into the door of the ensemble group, though I'm still not clear what the status is of the group, but like all things in parental life, we'll have to worry about that when the time comes.

Either way, good news on the drama front. Fun and satisfaction through hard work. How can you beat that? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ilker for the pic.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not Only Seeing YKW, but Playing Tennis w/Her

This is crazy, but a good example of getting over my hang-ups and trying to see the bigger picture. We were spending a quiet day at home, taking care of business and getting things done. The kids were just hanging out and entertaining themselves when at some point in the afternoon, N stated that he wanted to play tennis, and A wanted to have girl time with mom. Fair enough, we'd find a way to make it happen.

Well, as some point, who should show up but none other than YKW. She and her pop showed up on their bikes. Apparently they had tried calling and we hadn't answered our phone, mainly because we were outside working. Of course, the kids went crazy, and they made a plan. We'd meet up after dinner for tennis at the rec. How do these things happen?

Now I wasn't so keen on the whole excursion for various and assorted reasons, but we had made plans to play tennis, so there was no turning back. What are you going to do? It also turns out that YKW's bro is playing on the tennis team, so serious play was in order.

We ate dinner in somber silence, not sure what to make of our situation, but it turned out not so bad, as usual. Of course, R bailed out on me and said she couldn't play because she had to clean up. True, there was the mess to attend to, but she was clearly leaving me hanging, having to deal with the whole soap opera that has come to be known as The World According To YKW. I wasn't appreciative of it all, but what are you going to do.

We drove over to the courts and they were already playing. We hit the court, and it ended up being fun, and as usual, it was convivial and even fun. YKW's bro is pretty good, though he's just a kid, he's got time. And in the end, all the kids had fun. So it taught me a lesson, one that I'd been toying with in the back of mind. I know that YKW is not the most tactful person, and has hurt A on a number of occasions and will continue to do so, but for the most part, A is an incredibly forgiving (naive, perhaps?) person and doesn't hold a grudge. She forgives YKW for all past transgressions, and she is always so happy to see her.

With this in mind, I have to get over my hang ups. I don't like to see A get treated poorly, but on some level, she has to come to terms with these situations on her own, and the truth is, she's happy when they meet. Maybe that's all that matters. That is, of course, until the next time YKW completely blows her off, which I guarantee you, will happen soon enough, but such is the life of a child. Always being treated meanly by some other kid.

One final note, I got the sense that YKW's brother sort of took advantage of me, and I could have and probably should have said something, but didn't. We came to the courts with our own set of tennis balls, all of which were in decent condition. Brother YKW had his own set, some of which were in terrible condition. At the end of the game, we were trying to decide which balls belonged to whom, and I just said take the number you came with. He collected seven balls, and I looked at what was left over, and clearly he had taken the best balls, leaving me with the crappy ones. What a scam. I almost said something, but is it worth making a fuss? Our balls weren't great, but they weren't as bad as the one's he left. Clearly he knew which were his, and took the nicer ones, no doubt about it.

Oh well, my fault for not speaking up, right? I don't think so... Unfortunately this only means that I'll have to take it out on him the next time we meet on the court. It'll be a good life lesson.

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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Training and a Call to Coaching

With spring comes glorious baseball, or in the case of kindergarteners, t-ball. Last year N played ball and loved it, and of course, as the weather warmed, his heart turned to returning to the diamond. We had a potential dilemma in that he's still in kindergarten, last year he was one of the youngest players on the team, even though he displayed a certain level of skill and athletic prowess (this, mind you, is a completely objective opinion by a neurotic dad). With baseball, you either have it, or you don't. While I think these kids are still way too young to playing baseball, they love it, and are having fun.

Either way, this season, because he's so young, N would play another season with the kindergarteners, making him the elder statesman, or in sporting parlance, the veteran. My initial reaction was that he was good enough to play with the bigger kids (ah, the frailty of the male ego), some of whom could barely throw a ball, much less hit one. But in retrospect, he might benefit from another year in the minor leagues, because he'll be the big man on campus, but also because the upper leagues are a combination of 1st and 2nd graders, and that may be a bit much at this point. He just wants to have fun, though he's got what it takes.

So we'll see.

And, of course, I'm being asked to coach again, as if I needed more things on my plate . No other parents have come forward except for one, a mother, which I think is a good thing. Not too much testosterone at the helm of this ship, which should make the experience more fun and enjoyable for the kids.

We'll see how this goes. How do I get myself into these things? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nathaniel :: and Olgica Krasic for the pic

Scheduling and Fun Friday

We had a nice Friday, and have found a fun and somewhat efficient scheduling that seems to be working for everyone involved. Basically, I try to get out in the AM before everyone is ready to start their day and do some sort of work, either in the yard or on the barn/house, then come inside and get ready for the school day. After lessons, I go back out and do more work while the kids entertain themselves. At some point, I have to come in and make lunch, then clean up, and if I'm lucky, I can squeeze in an hour or two of more work, and maybe if I'm lucky, a quick power nap.

Then, once the afternoon kicks in, it's time for kids entertainment, which entails one of their classes or heading to a social gathering with other kids. Now that the school play is done, we have more breathing room, at least until the next gig.

This past week was April vacation, whatever that means, so a lot of our structured activities were on hold. We decided to hit the pool and afterward Shepard's Pie for dinner and to see KR's band play.

The kids were excited about being at the pool, though I have my reservations about the place. It's a bit too Disneyland, and like a lot of kid's activities in the modern era, really designed to get them out of the parent's hair so that mom or dad can spend the time on their Blackberries. They even have wireless internet. Plus, kids don't really swim there, they just float around because the wave pool does all the work. I shouldn't complain, the kids love it, but I have to confess, I prefer just a regular pool where kids can actually swim.

Anyway, we saw some friends there. HW was there with her buddies, and she was happy to see A. She even said hi to me, which is unusual in most of the kids we know. They never seem to acknowledge the parents, just look right through them. HW saw me and and said hi, and we haven't seen her in probably two years. Also saw NM and SM, and of course, mom was busy on the laptop while her kid was swimming in the pool.

There is a big water slide at the pool that A&N were toying with trying, but it's a bit intimidating. A wrestled with it, you could see her ruminating on whether to try it, before finally going for it. And you know what? She loved it and couldn't stop.

Of course, N wanted to, but he's a bit too young. They ask that you be a certain height, and he falls short an inch or two, not much. I told him to wait, but as we were watching the other kids, this one girl who was the same height as N got on and slid down. I told N to go for it, and he loved it. I even tried it, and you do go pretty fast. N got in line to try it again, but the lifeguard busted us and said he wasn't big enough. Oh well, at least he got a taste for it. I'm guessing by the end of Summer he'll be ready.

After the pool, we showered and headed over to Shepard's Pie, where KR's band was playing. Got to see JM and finally got to meet D. Best of all, KR is always cool about letting A get on stage and jam with her (we brought her guitar). A loves performing, she's such a natural. What a sight to behold.

After dinner, which was great as always, we had desert and headed home. I was beat, but not so much as to miss an episode or two of 24.

It was a really enjoyable day, though exhausting. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jan Willem Geertsma and Colin Brough for the pics.

Running Crazy and Montshire

We had one of those insane days where it seems as if we're (more like I) biting off more than we can chew, but our goal is to do as much as we can in a single trip. Besides, losing a little sanity is small price to pay in the interest of efficiency.

So, we set out with the final goal being to get to the Montshire Museum. This makes it a bit more palatable to the kids for us to make a dozen stops to accomplish assorted goals. First off, we had to the store to get some vittles, and then to the hardware store to get roofing nails and finishing nails. From there, a stop at Solid Waste Management to get a new compost bin, then the dump to unload the recycling. From the dump, we stopped at Hollywood Video to drop off the last of our rentals (they're closing-bummer), and then a stop at the kitchenware store to see if they had a dumpling press (they did not), then the veggie market for even more vittles.

The purchase of food is complicated by the fact that certain things are only obtainable at certain places, as well as the variability of quality and price. Maybe I should just go to Walmart.

Finally, after that, we hit the museum. It was surprising quiet there, in light of school vacation, but the kids always manage to find something to do. I sensed that they lost interest more quickly than usual, however. We also ran in to GD and ED, though our kids seemed somewhat ambivalent about seeing them. What are you going to do?

We left earlier than usual, I experience zero resistance, then stopped at King Arthur for a treat, where they happened to have the long lost dumpling press, and best of all, it was cheap.

It's nice to end the day with a small victory.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Signs, Signs...

Boy, if this isn't a sign from up above, I don't know what is. After all that hand wringing over what to do about our drama dilemma, I just found our that the local theater group is no longer going to continue their education program, and thus the children's theater group will no longer be.

I guess that makes the decision a simple and straightforward one, though I'm seriously bummed. It was such a cool group. Oh well, thus continues the quest.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to majaFOTO for the pic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Dilemma: To Push, or Not to Push

To push or not to push, that is the question. (I know, I know, wrong play, but you get the point)

We have a dilemma, or rather, I have a dilemma regarding A. She has been taking drama classes at the local theater group, and initially she loved it because it was all fun and games in preparation of some real drama.

I spoke with the two teachers and they both raved about A, saying she was very good and a natural. The director even approached me, un-prompted (it took me by surprise) and mentioned that A did what theater folks refer to as "reaching deep within" to play her roles. She mentioned to me that she should try out for the ensemble group, which is a theater production company that puts on real productions on stage. Not for the faint of heart, requiring memorizing (A's forte), hard work and serious rehearsal. Plus, you have to audition and qualify, and several kids I spoke with have indicated that it is very difficult.

I thought it would be perfect. Not only could she be around quirky, interesting theater kids, the same ones who are not the prom queens or football captains (they can be mean). Most importantly, however, is that she would be in an environment where she was being challenged, working hard, but realizing the fruits of her labors in a way that was fun and rewarding. We noticed that there was a degree of hard work and diligence involved, and many things come naturally and easy to her. Because of this, when the going gets tough, she does not necessarily dig in her heels and persevere. There is a level of shying away from excessive challenge because so many things just come naturally to her.

Plus, I figured it was a cool way to find your place in the universe, to be on stage, and a good way to develop friendships with a group of kids that she'd see on a regular basis. Finally, I thought she really liked it.

Well, it turns out that she doesn't really like it, partly because of the hard work involved, and partly I'm thinking because it entails a degree of blunt constructive criticism. She's gotten used to people showering her with praise (I acknowledge that this largely our fault), because she is fairly competent at a number of things, and people (appropriately) let her know that of the good job she's done.

It's good for her, however, to get some criticism now and then and work towards a goal. Anyway, she doesn't want to do it, and the question now becomes, do we make her do it? She said that she doesn't hate the theater, and in fact likes it, but likes other things better, like pottery or summer camp or lighter productions like the school musical, where they get to be silly and wear costumes. Serious theater doesn't seem to be her cup of tea.

Unless, of course, we make it her cup of tea. I have this idea that if she just stuck with it and worked hard at her craft, there will be a magic moment where it'll all click, and she'll really be able to find herself. When you're working hard and under duress, it's difficult to see the big picture and realize that there is magic at the end of the road. All you see is the hardship at the moment, and that is what discourages people from ever reaching a goal, or for that matter, a dream.

Mind you, I don't have this goal of making our daughter an actor. It's just that I don't want to give up on something that she's good at and might like just because it's not always fun.

Oh well, what are you going to do?

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

Our Bean Bag

We got our beanbag chair. In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I was initially contacted by a representative for the distributor asking if I was interested in using their service and mentioning it in my blog.

To that, I would have to give a resounding YES. Personally, I love the idea of writing more reviews, one of the simple perks of writing a blog that at least one person reads. The question is, how do I get more of these gigs?

When the bag came and I had brief moment of panic because the box was so big, and a feeling panic crept in as I asked myself, "What did I order?" More importantly, what is my wife going to do to me for ordering.

Then I realized what it was. The kids love the thing, and I'm tempted to order another one, but that could spell doom for yours truly.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trip to the Big City and YKW Sighting

Boy, you can run, but you just can't hide. We spent the day in the big city (i.e., Hanover) and had a nice day going to the library, hanging out, having dinner at our favorite haunt (Boloco, of course), and then, of all things, going to see a movie. And then, of course, as we were walking back to the car, but who do we see but none other than YKW. You just can't win sometimes.

But what are you going to do? Life goes on.

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

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Quiet Days

After a week of going nuts and running around, we finally had some down time to just stick around the home front. Mind you, this didn't mean we, or should I say "I," had time to lounge around and relax like this dude, but at least I didn't have the stress of having to be somewhere, rushing around in my Mentor's car. It starts to get to you.

Now that the school play is over, we have one less obligation, soon to be replace with another, I'm sure, but for now, I'll take it. The kids were asking if we were going anywhere, since I'm sure they've become accustomed to the busy pace that we were maintaining, but I had things to do on the home front, the least of which is get the firewood together, and let us not forget that darn barn. Windows, fascia, soffit, etc. It's a wonder houses ever get built. Oh, and did I mention the garden?

I just wanted to mention that our initial efforts in restoring the lawn seemed to have yielded some fruit, the lawn is looking better, if I may be so bold. The backyard is still a disaster, but the front ain't looking half bad. I just wonder if I need to seed every season, Fall and Spring. Sure, why not? It's not as if I don't have enough to do, but don't mind my whining.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get to the library for story hour. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to aldo cavini benedetti for the pic.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Musicals and More Connections

One down, several more to go. A had her school musical, and she was so excited, she was beside herself. It's nice to see her enthusiastic about things, though she can get thrilled to the point of losing a bit of control, but you have to love such unabashed enthusiasm.

She had a long day of performing. They put on three shows in one day, two in the AM, and one in the PM. Seemed like a bit much, but the shows were well attended, and she loved it. I dropped her off for the day, we reconvened in the afternoon, and then we went back for the evening show.

It was a really cute show, the kids did a fabulous job, and some of them were exemplary, some of the soloists, in particular. A was a late addition to the show, her name didn't even appear on the initial list of actors, a fact that brought me great consternation, but they rectified the problem before I had to karate chop someone on the head. Now being the completely biased person that I am, I think A could have pulled off some of the solos in grand style, or at least one of the monologues, but by the time I had contacted the conductor, she had already cast the play, and only background parts were available. I'm not complaining, we were thrilled that she had a chance to be in the play, and she absolutely loved it. I just think she is born to perform, and she's good at memorizing and reiterating things.

Now that the show is done, it's one less thing to schedule, and that's a huge relief. Also, we met several of the parents, some of whom indicated the desire for playdates. How's that for a monster bonus? One of the main reasons I had initially thought of enrolling A in the play was so that she could be with her friends, several of whom she'd met in the Christmas Choir. Believe me when I tell you that over here, mom and dad NEVER stop looking out for nice friends. It's exhausting, not to mention at times frustrating, especially in lieu of YKW, but I won't get into that for now.

Anyway, we exchanged contact info with several parents, and that means there will hopefully be some (many?) playdates in the near future. Also, some of these kids also have SAHDs, which makes things easier, but is not an imperative, since I can hang with the moms and exchange brownie recipes, not to mention war stories from the trenches.

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dental Who Caries?

I caries, that's who caries. I just had my first cavity filled in over 25 years. I was dreading it, and for good reason. The procedure itself isn't so bad, it's that massive needle that gets to me. If only my teeth looked as good as this guys.

When I was young, I had so many cavities it made my head spin. This made perfect sense because my parents (of course I'm going to blame them) never told us or encouraged us, or for that matter, forced us to brush our teeth very often. Consequently, we never brushed at night, never once flossed, and drank copious amounts of soda. To this day, my brother drinks a 6-pack of coke each day. Talk about disaster impending.

Anyway, my teeth were a mess. I'd actually had root canal done when I was about 8-9. Talk about traumatizing. Because of psychological scarring, as well as that of my wife R, we are militant about our kid's teeth, to point of being complete fascists. I kind of think of it as being the price the kids have to pay for eating sweets. They can have them, to some degree, but they must brush their teeth.

The bright side of this is that they don't complain about brushing after every meal, they just assume it's the way it is. This is a huge plug for establishing good habits early and following through on them. Many behavior patterns are learned, it just takes effort to enforce them, even to the point of being unpopular (say it isn't so).

Since my adult teeth came in, I haven't had as many problems, until now. I may have relayed this story, but I hadn't been to the dentist in at least 15 years, maybe 18 (since before college), and by the time we had moved up here, I figured the time had come. I completely admit that I was scared, plain and simple. The last time I'd seen a dentist was in my junior year in college. A dental student asked me if I was interested in being her subject for her board exams. It would involve free x-ray and exam, and it helped that she was pretty attractive.

Well, as it turns out, I didn't have any calories at the time, though my serendipity was her misfortune because she had nobody to work on. Since that time, which was about 1988 (I know, I'm dating myself), I had never seen a dentist, even when I had dental insurance. After about 10 years, the fear of seeing a dentist become debilitating, so I just ignored any concerns and kept brushing. Mind you, I was fairly diligent about doing this.

Finally, I broke down and went a couple of years ago. I was expecting the worst, but believe it or not, I didn't have any cavities. There were a couple of areas of concern, but nothing glaring, and boy was I stoked. I practically jumped for joy out of that dentist's chair.

And then, of course, my hubris came back to haunt me. Not only did the areas of concern require some work, but I had a wisdom tooth that was loose, of all things, and needed to be pulled. So I dealt with it. Sure, it wasn't fun, and now my teeth hurt, but I may very well have bought myself another 18 years, and you have to love that.

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

Two Nutty Days in a Row

We've had two crazy days in a row, but I think that'll be the worst of it, and once Wednesday is over, things will calm down a bit (I hope). I was supposed to attend a special meeting for the library, and being a trustee and all, felt on some level I should attend, but didn't because there were too many things going on.

First off, we had rehearsal for the school musical, which was in two days, so crunch time was approaching. After rehearsal, we came home for lunch, then off to drama class, stopping on the way at the video store, the veggie store, then the Coop. We dropped A off at her class and N and I went bowling. After picking A up, we went home and I had to make dinner. By that time, I still had a lot to do around the house, and felt like karate had to suffer. I was bummed, I really like the class, but sometimes your interests have to take a fall in order to hold it together for your family.

On Tuesday, the adventure continued. R and I were able to keep our communication straight, so she was able to stay at home while I went to my dentist's appointment (more on this later). I had a cavity filled and a wisdom tooth yanked out. Bummer. Then I had to get home, take A to her final rehearsal, for which she wanted to bring her lunch and dine with the other kids, so I had to make it, then off to N's drama class, and this is where it gets interesting.

Because I had a trustee meeting at 4:00, I had to drop N off, and A and I were supposed to go to the library. However, I almost forgot, and we headed off to the bowling alley, when I realized I was on a tight schedule. I had half an hour to get back to town, while R was going to pick N up at his class during my meeting. It ain't easy being a trustee, and I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do.

Since we were gone all day, I had to make dinner during the day so it was prepared when we got home. Then we could simply reheat and eat. My meeting ended sooner than I thought, and A and I played outside until R showed up. I think I'm going to have to come up with a better solution for A, maybe a playdate.

Either way, we came home, at supper, and then we had to go out yet again for her other rehearsal for the community play. Talk about busy. The rehearsal went from 7-8, and A really enjoys it because she gets to play her guitar and sing a song she actually wrote. I hate to admit it, but when the director asked her who wrote the song and she said she had, I was secretly brimming with pride. I was able to hide it because being a karate man and all, I'm able to keep my feelings inside.

After rehearsal, we came home and off to bed, but not before R and I got a couple of quality hours together with Neflix. Life is good.

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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday is No Day of Rest Over Here

I realize that Sunday is a day of rest of many folks, but that, of course, does not apply to me. I.e., that ain't me sitting in the hammock. Besides, I'm not that tan, or for that matter, handsome.

Anyway, this Sunday was a bit of a marathon. I had to fix the trim on the roof, and then had wanted to split more wood and fire up the lawnmower to coif our increasingly verdant lawn. If time permitted, I was even thinking of starting in on the front deck. Wow, how's that for ambition?

Of course, with the exception of the trim, I didn't get to any of them. I did manage to install new trim, however, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would, especially in lieu of the fact that I had to work the entire time on the roof or standing on an extension ladder. Not my idea of fun.

I would have done more this Sunday if not for the fact that I had a couple of meetings to attend. The first was for a proposed farmer's market. I didn't really want to attend because I was so busy, but my good friend is organizing it, and he asked for bodies to show up. Plus, we have an interest in farmer's markets if we are going to make some food. Also, I wasn't completely clear on my friend's resolve, but that was besides the point. He asked me to come, and I could have flaked, but felt an obligation.

And you know what? It was a nice meeting, got to meet his real man friend W, who is a serious real man, so much so that my Mentor would have even been impressed. This guy is a hunter/tracker extraordinaire, and he basically built my friends house. He also gardens and raises livestock and all that good stuff. And, he's a super cool guy. I'd heard about him many times, he was trapping fisher cats on my friend's property, so I finally got to meet him.

Also met the owner of the Gorge Village property, and what a cool guy he was. One of the nicest, most sincere guys I've ever met.

So the meeting was fruitful on many levels, and I'm glad I went.

Then, my second meeting was in the afternoon for FF. Guess what? I didn't want to attend that one, either, but it, too, went well. Finally met the baking czar FH, and what a super nice guy he was. Also got to rub elbows with the power elite of our community, which is always an impressive thing to observe. Plus, it really plugs you in with the community, and reminds you what a great place this is to live because people are so willing to donate their time.

Just goes to show you, you never really know until you check it out for yourself and try.

Now, if I can just get to that deck. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jan Willem Stad for the pic.

Tasting Africa - Eating at Mariam's Restaurant

In the heat of activity this weekend, we were toying with the idea of going to town and having dinner and a movie. There's a new flick at the Nugget for kids, and movies like that don't stick around too long, so we wanted to check it out before it was gone. Also a chance to eat at our favorite eatery, Boloco. However, it does take a lot of time out of the day, and with all that's going on, we decided to stay local.

With this in mind, we'd heard about a new restaurant in Windsor called Mariam's. It was billed as having authentic African fare, Tanzanian I believe, which spoke volumes to us since our work is focused on Tanzania. They also offered standard American food. Of course, there was no way we weren't going to try the African selections. Plus, it wasn't too far.

We went over and checked it out, and it was hopping. A good sign. I'm no expert on African food, but we loved the restaurant. I'd eaten at a few African restaurants in NYC, and this was just as good. Killer samosas, we had the variety plate - veggie, ground beef, and chicken/spinach. The dipping sauce was to die for, this yogurt mint concoction. We ordered three entrees, the Curry Kuku with rice, Wali Na Kuku (chicken with veggies and coconut milk sauce), and the special, a kind of curried cauliflower. The food was excellent, and not painfully expensive. It reminded me of Thai food, coconut-ty and slightly spice, though we learned later that you can request varying degrees of heat. Good to know, though I like hot, myself.

It was a nice meal, and there was a continual flow of people through the door. I think the combination of the exotic and the highly predictable make it appealing to all walks of life. Nice to have something different that we like.

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

Bummer Busy Weekend

Saturday came and I was so wrapped up in fixing the roof that I didn't get to attend the local class on growing held at the farm down the road. They have an education program, and this was the first class, and I really wanted to go, more to just show my support for KJ, but there is simply too much to do. Even dedicating myself to it isn't enough. Part of the problem is, with all the activities we have during the week, I can't get as much done, and have to work on the weekends.

Last weekend in particular was a bit hectic. I needed to fix the trim on the roof of the house, and ideally get it caulked and painted before it rained. There were also a series of meetings I had to attend on Sunday, which is a bummer. Who has time for meetings? Then, of course, there are assorted shopping trips, visits to the dump, cooking meals, cleaning, etc.

By the time 9:00 PM rolls around, you've really earned that beer and TV remote. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Crazy Friday and Resolved

I've resolved to get my act together and stop procrastinating on travel writing and my darn website... but I'll get to it later.

In the meantime, what day we had last Friday. Also achieved a moment of clarity in regards to owning a cell phone, but first, the day.

I knew there were many things on tap, but knowing something and actually experiencing it are two entirely different matters. I had an optometrist's appointment in the AM, and I usually shoot for as early in the morning as possible so I can get back at a reasonable time for R to head to work. So I got an 8:00 AM, which is pretty unusual. The problem is, I'd forgotten that we also had a show to attend at 10:00 AM at the HOP, and then afternoon story hour at the library.

A was coming down with a cold, so we weren't sure if we would even go to the show, but R had to get to work, so she would bring the kids to meet me, and people felt sick, we'd go straight home. Well, my appointment was shorter than I'd expected, and I was done by 8:20. Time enough to get home if necessary. I was on the verge of driving straight home, then figured I'd call first.

Now just the very act of finding a pay phone is a chore, but once you find one, then you have to deal with trying to use it, if it even works. I finally pulled into a parking lot with a phone and tried to dial home, but realized the call was going to cost me a dollar. Fortunately, the phone was at a laundromat, so I could get change. After pumping the money in, the phone rang and I got the answering machine. Ah! I left a message saying I'd call back in a few.

Well, when I called back, I got the message again, thus burning through another dollar. Finally, on the third try, I got ahold of R. She said A was feeling fine, and that they'd meet me at the Hop for the show. Now I was hesitant to use the cell phone because it costs 25 cents/minute, but it cost me way more in the end to use the pay phone, not to mention the anguish in just finding one. With the cell phone, the call would have cost 50 cents at the most, but instead I spent $3.00. Live and learn.

It reminds me of being in Spain and trying to use the pay phones, what a fiasco. Not only were they hard to figure out, but everyone speaks Spanish. The nerve. In the end, we couldn't even come close to using it. It was actually rather humorous in retrospect.

Anyway, with time to kill, I went into Hanover and ran into DW, who told me he is moving to Oklahoma, sans wife and kids. He found a job out there and is going to spend time in both states. Not sure what to make of all that, but not my idea of a good time. Then again, maybe it is. You do what you need to do, in the end. The world can be a rough place.

I finally met R and the kids at the Hop, and we went to the show, which for the record, was great. It was the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and they do a humorous condensed version of all 37 of Shakespeare's plays, at least I think there are 37. The show was funny, everyone loved it, but you really don't get much of a sense of what Shakespeare is all about, and maybe that's the point. It was really geared towards well-read adults and obnoxiously precocious kids who have some sense of Shakespeare's works. Otherwise, you wouldn't understand the references, which flew by at breakneck speed. Also, the humor was mature and at times crude, but I don't think our kids got it. Yeah, right.

We saw the Macks, and they proceeded to walk right past us. A little chilly, if I may say so. It might have to do with the people we were sitting with, who apparently are not in good standing with the Macks. At least, that's what they told me, so I'm guessing that since I was sitting next to them, AM wasn't about to stop and chat. No big.

After the show, we jetted to the library to get a book for A. I accidentally picked up book three of a series, and she wanted to get #1. Of course, it was checked out, so we put a hold on it.

From the library, we went home for lunch, and chilled until afternoon and after school story time. A loves to go, though N is bit lukewarm to the whole thing. The kids get a snack and hear a story, then make a craft. It's a really nice gig, and best of all, A gets to hang with the kids. And for a bit of serendipity, we found the book #1 that we couldn't find in Hanover. Good to search far and wide.

After the library, it was time to come home and make dinner. Since we were on the road all day, I didn't get to do any of the things I need to do around the house. What a crazy life we lead, I'm looking forward to things calming down, which could be never.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Greg Bialowas and ralu home for the pics.

Friday, April 9, 2010

No Time To Breathe and CSN Stores to the Rescue

Who needs to breathe, oxygen is overrated. We've been going at warp speed (in homage to Star Trek), like a rocket, and until later next week, show no sign of letting up. It's all this drama, in the literal and figurative sense. We have three dramatic endeavors currently in various states of completion. By the end of next week, the school play will be done, but up to that point, we'll be working overtime getting ready. A's theater class has, of all things, homework, but again, a little industriousness is good for a person. Finally, the community theater beckons us.

With all these commitments, we don't have time to take care of certain domestic issues, like shopping non-digestible household necessities. Included in this group are clothes, sports stuff, and even furniture.

Speaking of furniture, not that we have a dying need for such things, but the kids have always wanted a bean bag chair. We were out and about the other day and saw one, and A&N got a huge kick out of it. Since we couldn't take it home with us, naturally they asked if we could get one. Talk about unrelenting. Then again, I remember when I was a kid and being enamored with bean bag chairs, except that was ages ago. Where do you get one in this day and age?

Well, I actually found out where: recently I was introduced to CSN Stores, which sell just about everything any parent needs in this lifetime, and then some, including kids beds, pet supplies, housewares, sporting goods, and you guessed it, bean bag chairs. One stop shopping at the click of the mouse. What else can an overextended parent want out of life?

Now that we've made this serendipitous discovery, a bean bag chair may be in our near future. Stay tuned for more details.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sigurd Decroos for the pic.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rehearsal Night and Sucked Into the Spotlight

We went to the first rehearsal for the community theater, which A is going to be in, and the adults got sucked into going on stage and assuming the spotlight. Talk about being mortified. The man in charge, RJC, was actually doing a great job, I have to give him credit. He's a funny guy, and you have to appreciate the ability to lead the show and engage the audience. He's funny and smooth, maybe a bit too much at times.

Either way, the initial meeting was more administrative, to meet the cast and crew, and get a sense of where they are going with this. They do a great job, and the kids were excited about it. Little did I realize that RJC was going to cajole the adults onto the stage. I had to go up twice. For some reason, he picked on me. They did a little improv with the kids, then gradually made all of the adults get up there. Granted, many of them were in the play, anyway, so they were right in there element, but I was merely there to observe and oversee. I had zero intention of being up there.

The crazy thing is, we had a lot of fun, under the tutelage of the master of ceremonies, of course. They'd written a song for the play, and are in the process of formulating their story line. They'd done this a few years back, just as we were on the cusp of moving here, and it was a fabulous play. From the get go, we'd thought that A would be a perfect fit, she loves to be dramatic.

Of course, it's just one more thing on our plate, and the rehearsal was at 7:00 PM, so it was a bit of a chore. The kids indicated they weren't tired in the least, but yawns told another story.

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Sunday

Talk about busy days, last weekend we had a busy but really fun Easter Sunday. Now I never really grew up making a big deal about the day, but we've come to really enjoy spending it doing fun and creative things together. The kids are thrilled to pieces about it. In all honesty, we weren't as prepared as we should have been. I knew Sunday was Easter, but didn't think we'd do much. R, however, realized the night before that she hadn't prepared, so she ran out and got some stuff, and once the kids were asleep, we went to work.

The first thing was stuffing the eggs with candy, then stashing them for the hunt. That, of course, was my job, since I get up early. R made a trail of chocolate leading out the front door, and around 5:30 AM, I went outside and hid the eggs around the yard. For the record, it was a beautiful morning, unseasonably warm. I recall one Easter hunting for eggs in the snow.

The kids woke up and came down in their Easter garb. That meant a bunny suit for A and a bath robe for N. He loves his robe, such a guy. They were so excited, and we headed outside for the hunt, and we all had a lot of fun, though they were itching to dive into their Easter chocolate.

We decided to have some real food first, and the kids have been asking about pancakes for awhile. We used to eat pancakes and sausage/bacon every Sunday, but it got to be a bit much having all that sugar and fat, and the kids seemed to get a little hyperactive afterward, so we toned it down a bit. This time, we used a new recipe for healthy, multi-grain cakes a la King Arthur flour, and they turned out nicely. R cooked them up beautifully.

After breakfast, we dyed eggs and R made her family favorite, traditional Easter bread. It's amazing stuff, not sure why we don't make it more often, and it looks and taste fabulous. The kids enjoy helping out. In the past, we used to incorporate the eggs into the bread, which makes it look really cool, though not necessarily something you'd like to eat.

We spent the day working up the garden in preparation for our bountiful harvest, and before we knew it, it was supper time. We had a nice meal, salmon, not your traditional Easter fare, but one we love. A fitting end to a really nice day.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Theater Production

Last weekend we spent the better part of the day on Saturday helping the school out in preparing for the big play. I'd wanted to go to the community breakfast, but the times clashed, so didn't make it once again. It may never come to pass.

We'd been asked by the director of the play to help make props/costumes and paint the set to help for A's musical. We weren't necessarily thrilled because there is so much work to be done around the house, including the garden and wood and the barn, but how can you not pitch in to help the kids. Besides, A&N loved the idea of being around their compatriots, so we headed over, not sure what to expect.

At first, it seemed like we were superfluous. They had enough helpers, and we found ourselves sitting around, twiddling our thumbs. At one point R was ready to leave, and I said I'd stick around because the kids were engaged, but eventually they round some work for her to do, and she ended up really enjoying it. Best of all, the kids had fun, they got to hang out, and we got to meet many of the parents, so playdates may be in order.

Nice to pitch in and help, and hang with the neighbors. I'd like to get to know some of the parents because their kids seemed nice, but we'll see how that goes. Can't force these issues, as we've well learned.

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

One of Those Wow Moments

Just had one of those "wow" moments. I've been busy all morning chopping wood and cleaning and getting ready for lunch, and the kids were mysteriously absent. It was so quiet, so I went upstairs and there they were, doing their school work. How cool is that? Then again, it shouldn't surprise me, they're great kids, but I'm not the most objective person in this regard.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Going to Work, Late as Usual

The question of the day is, "Where does all the time go?" Sure, it's a cliche, but one I live with on a daily basis.

I've been going into work a bit more lately, and though it feels good to sink my teeth back into research, not to mention interact with people over the age of 10, going to work does disrupt our daily routine, and as a consequence, we're always scrambling for time. Funny how a job can do that to you.

I generally go in during the early morning, I'm talking around 6:00 AM, get my work done, and try to be home by 10:00 so R can get to work at a decent hour. This works out well in the grand scheme of things, but I can't get as much writing done because I only have about an hour to do it. Once I get home, the kids are up, wanting to be fed and entertained. I can pull of the former, the latter is up to them.

Also, since we are so busy around here, heading off to work disrupts our schedule. Case in point, drama rehearsal. This is complicated by the fact that the rehearsals, which take place on Thu and Fri, occur at different times, and have been held in different locations each time. For a guy like me who is scattered and disorganized, this can spell disaster. I was at work the other day and driving home, I realized I had about 15 minutes to get home and take A to rehearsal. When I got home, we were already late, so I told the kids to get their clothes on and get in the car.

R was confused, she thought it was in the afternoon, but that is on the other day. Today, it was earlier. My fault, I won't dispute this, but the confusing schedule doesn't help. We ended up being about 5 minutes late, not the end of the world, so life is still good.

I think music teacher, however, thinks I'm a big loser because I'm always bringing A late. She's not too far off on that one.

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

Summer's Arrival - Our First BBQ

Wow, does it feel like Summer, or what? This week, temperatures reached the high 70s/low 80s, which made for beautiful weather, but is not a good sign for July/August. It could be brutal, and all the more reason to get a second car so we can make it to the pool.

On the home front, you can really feel the beginning of warm weather because we broke out the hammock and grill, and had two consecutive meals of BBQ, or "barbie" as they say Down Under. The kids are thrilled to BBQ because our grill is a bit on the diminutive size (hey, it works), and they can throw all sorts of combustible material into the coals. Pyromania is definitely hard wired in all children.

After dinner, we usually make s'mores over the glowing coals, but we didn't have the fixings. So N and I jetted over to the store and got marshmallows and chocolate bars. We also used these all natural graham crackers at the UVFC that don't have high fructose corn syrup. Not easy to find, high fructose is everywhere. Interestingly, only in the US. Other countries have much more sense. Now I'm not a big marshmallow fan, but the s'mores sure were good.

We also got to try out our Cloudland Farm beef and was it ever tasty. Makes a delicious burger, so I think we're in. The next test will be the ribeye. Nice to know that there's a source of beef that we can feel good about and like the taste. Thanks to B&CE.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Digital Delight

In the constant quest to find something that really gets the kids pumped, we may have one viable candidate: movie-making. The other day A and I was hanging at the local coffee shop while N had his class and we did a little browsing of stop action animation. R and I have though all along that some form of animation would speak to the kids, especially A, because she loves the right elements. She loves to draw, she loves to tell stories, she loves to create worlds of her own making, and she really gets into creating the details. She enjoys making cartoons because they incorporate these elements, and they can be really fun. Naturally, we thought that animation would be the next logical step, but felt like we needed a video camera, so we sat on it.

Well, wouldn't you know it, but once we did a little investigating, we found out that all you need is a digital camera. You just take a series of snapshots with small increments of movement, and then you upload them into iMovie, and voila. It makes them into a movie. Too cool for words. A got a huge kick out of it, and, at least for the moment, there's no stopping her. The picture is one of her screen credit frames.

I think the most fun she'll have is making animation from her drawings, but one step at a time. For now, we'll enjoy her time lapse creations, and may even post them on YouTube. Hey, you just never know.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

New Beef and Making Dumplings

We found a new source of beef. I hate to bail out on our old source because not only is he a great guy, but he's just down the road, but his meat was just okay, and not only was it lacking a bit in flavor, but the roasts were tough and the ground beef filled with chewy, hard bits. Not what you're looking for in a hamburger.

A friend had purchased a share in a cow and got loads of beef from a local farm in Pomfret called Cloudland Farms. He raved about the meat and said they'd been doing it for years. We made hamburgers one night and they were so good, so I decided we had to get some. I've heard somewhere in our town there is a farm that makes good beef, but I've got to find out who it is.

I also bought a ribeye steak, my favorite cut, though I'm not sure when we're going to cook it. We're not a big steak eating family, but maybe for special occasions.

Either way, we made dumpling with the new meat, and they were good. The true test, however, will be when we make burgers on the grill. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rob Owen-Wahl and lekyu for the pic.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Riding the Rail Trail

A&R have been doing their regular "girl's day out" gig, so N and I have been making the most of our "guy time." We usually go bowling, which is a lot of fun, but sometimes when the weather is nice, the last place you want to spend your day is in a decrepit bowling alley.

So we decided to switch gears and do a biking day out. N and I, that is. There is an old railroad trail in Lebanon that has been converted into a dirt trail called the Rail Trail. It goes on for miles, and is relatively flat, so it's perfect for biking. I loaded the bikes into the car and we picked up the trail where it begins. It had rained the day before, so there was going to be mud, but I figured it comes with territory when real men go mountain biking.

The day was beautiful, a little cool, but no rain. N and I cruised for about 3 miles and then turned around, but what a nice ride it was. He got a huge kick out of it, and we got to spend a nice day outside. Plus, it's free. We took frequent water breaks, but I think over time his endurance and strength will improve. This was, after all, probably the longest ride he's done in awhile. Me, too, for that matter.

Next time we'll bring the ladies long, we just have to get a bike for mom. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bill Owen for the pic.

Crazy Afternoon

On our weekly sojourn to our friend's house, GK&T, we decided to add some more complexity (and thus more value) to the picture by throwing in some swimming, as well. Usually we head over to their place after (her) school, but it was supposed to be cold and rainy, and G mentioned that he wanted T to get more swimming under her belt in preparation for summer. I completely understand, though our kids are like fish, you can't get them out of the water.

This, of course, added to the list of things we had to get done, and made them all the more complicated because by the time we went out the door, I had to everything prepared, because we weren't going to come back home.

These sort of days can be challenging because the earlier activities mean we have to leave before the main event and thus be ready for all planned activities. So, while we have places to be around noon, we also have to be prepared for the thing happening around 3:00. Factor in meals like lunch and dinner, and yours truly has his work cut out for him.

The plan was as follows: we were going to meet our friends around 3:00, but before then, we had guitar lessons at noon, a library meeting at 2:00, then to the pool at 3:00. After the pool we were having dinner at GK&T's, and we were bringing a salad, which I had to make. R had yoga, so she'd get home late, and being the Martha Stewart protege that I am, made her a some warm lentil salad so she'd have something to eat when she got home (she prefers vegetarian fare, especially when she eats so late at night).

To add more drama to the scene, I also had to fill the wood box, clean the house and do the dishes so R wouldn't come home to a messy house (which leads to extremely negative consequences), do the day's schoolwork, and re-string A's guitar. It helps that the kids are more actively involved in the cleaning/bed-making duties.

The guitar thing was one of those typical procrastination events that was coming to a head. A's teacher, KR, had mentioned that she could do with some new strings, and I had them on hand, but like always, was putting it off. We hadn't seen KR in awhile since we were away, and I figured that after all that time, if she showed up with old strings, it wouldn't look good. KR would never had said anything, but I would have felt like a loser (not the first time). So an hour before her lesson, I got out the wire cutters and put the new strings on. It's kind of cool doing it, and makes me feel like a rock star.

We had a nice visit with KR, she filled us in on what's going on her life, and she made tea and served sweets, though she kept pushing them onto the kids even in lieu of the fact that we hadn't had lunch yet. I kept telling them "No more," and she kept encouraging them, a fact that I frowned on a little. Kind of like the fun aunt who keeps undercutting mom and dad's authority (making us, of course, look like the meanies). Finally I had to be stern and say, "Enough." Not easy being the bad guy, but that's what happens when people don't truly empathize with the parental plight.

We wanted to stay longer and chat, but I had my first meeting as an official representative of the library. I was meeting with MD to get some preliminary info about my duties. We met at the library and went over things, and it seemed cool. MD is so nice, and we love our library. It took a little longer than I'd anticipated because we chatted about life and politics, and I got to meet the library staff.

After the meeting, it was off to the pool. I assumed we were late, but we actually pulled into the parking lot at the same time as G&T. We swam for about two hours, then off to their house for dinner. We usually stay there until at least 8:00 PM. I feel bad, but the kids really play well together, and I enjoy G&K company.

After dinner, it was dark, the kids were tired, and I was in zombie mode (what else is new?). We came home and as always were happy to see mom. Then it was off to bed.

Nice day, but busy as heck. Dare I say, too busy? It ain't easy when you're trying to live a rich life and inherit the earth.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Allie Hylton Knut Pettersen and a1977 for the pics.