Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great Range

I had to have our car fixed the other day and since Meunier is about 3 miles from our house, I thought it would be a good time to try out the kid's walkie-talkies. I took one and the kids had the other, and I kept in constant radio contact. It's all so James Bond, isn't it?

Anyway, they worked beautifully. I provided constant updates up to the moment I arrived at our mechanic, and we could still talk clearly.

Pretty impressive. Then again, these are not toys, they are the real deal, compliments of blogging perks, no less.

Thanks for reading.

Eve of Hallow's Eve Good Fortune

We went down to the wire with Halloween this year. Come to think of it, we do this every year. Halloween fell on a Sunday, and by Saturday, we had yet to finish our costumes. N had decided he wanted to a robber, and A was a wizard. We still had things to finish, and R had to go to a meeting with her Africa charity.

We all set out in search of a few key items. N needed a mask to make him like a robber, and he was leaning towards a full face mask. Personally I thought it would have been cuter to wear a mask just covering his eyes, a la Lone Ranger, but he was adamant about his mask, and who was I, dull boring dad, to contradict him.

I called around to several ski shops in search of a full face mask. My first thought was Rugged Bear, the best place to buy kid's clothes in my opinion, but they said they had not come in yet. Bummer. I tried Henderson's and they had them, as did EMS and even Kmart. The masks were not exactly what he wanted, though. They covered the head and chin, but had full face exposure. N wanted the kind with two eye holes and a mouth hole for extra menacing effect.

We set out to find our stuff. First stop was the dump to unload recycling and check out the thrift store. No luck there, so we checked out the Listen center, which for the record was a madhouse, but still no mask, though we scored a meat filling gun that squirts out blobs of ground meat. Kind of like a caulking gun for dumpling filling. Thought it might come in handy if we decide to take part in that madness again.

Next up was the Powerhouse Mall, where EMS said they had the masks. If we couldn't find them there, we could always go to Kmart right across the road. The masks at EMS were actually all adult sizes, so they weren't going to work. N mentioned at least trying Rugged Bear again, and then maybe LL Bean. I figured why not, even though they said on the phone that they hadn't come in yet.

Well, believe it or not, when we went there, they said they hadn't been unpacked yet, but were in boxes on the floor. Not only did they have the masks, but they were exactly what he wanted. How cool is that?

I love when things like that happen, and it just goes to show you, it ain't over until it's over. Regardless of what people tell you, find out for yourself before you throw in the towel.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hockey Game, Homecoming, and Going For It

I made what I thought to be a big blunder, but like many things in life, my mistake morphed into serendipity. Just goes to show you that life is wonderfully unpredictable, as it should be, and rather than shy away from it in fear, we should embrace its whims.

But enough of my pontification. We had been talking about going to see a Dartmouth women's hockey game, and never seemed to get around to it. I finally resolved to do it, and there was an early evening game on Friday. Perfect.

The plan was to go to story hour, grab a quick bite to eat, and head over to the game. It was all complicated, of course, by the fact that there were other things going on. There was a local Halloween party, which I'd never been to, as well as the fact that the kids like to play well after story hour has ended, so it was going to be a bit of a wrestling match to get them to comply.

Also, I learned later that it was homecoming weekend at the college, which meant oceans of people, which also meant really bad traffic, the kind that reminds of living in that hell on earth known as Los Angeles. I was ready to change our plans, but at some point realized that things get too crazy when you try to explore every possible option. Just deal with it.

Besides, the kids were excited about going to the game, and to be honest with you, I really enjoy them, though I like the brutal and physical aspect of the NHL, but that's a guy thing.

After thinking about it for a few minutes and asking R her opinion, we decided to just go for it. We also thought that the homecoming festivities might be fun, and a good way for the kids to get a taste of what college life is like. I know, it's a bit early, but you never know what sort of moments really speak to a child.

When story hour ended, we piled into the car and headed over to the big city. Since the food options at the game boiled down to hot dogs or pizza, which is akin to fine cuisine for a kid, I'd made some healthier fare. For R I brought a goat cheese and roasted red pepper wrap, and for the kids, some cold cut wraps along with some fruit. We have been on a whole grain kick lately, so I also made R a wheatberry salad with feta cheese and olives.

While R loved the food, the kids had one thing on their mind - hot dogs. Oh well, I tried. The game was a blast, and kind of poignant in that they played Brown, our old haunt, and beat them. Out with told, in with the new.

It was a lot of fun. The women are incredibly good, and tickets are easy to come by since nobody seems interested in watching women's sports, which is a shame. After the game, we walked over the Green to watch the homecoming bonfire, and they really went all out. The pile of wood was at least 2 stories high, if not more. Kind of menacing.

There were loads of people, as we anticipated, but it was mellow, and they even had free food. After several interminable speeches, they lit the fire, and man was it impressive. It really warmed things up, it was cold out there.

They have some sort of tradition at Dartmouth where the students run around in circles around the fire, I'm guessing until it's done. There were a few students out there acting silly who were clearly drunk, but for the most part, they were pretty civil. You figure even though these guys are young and prone to crazy behavior, they are Ivy League students and have it together. More so than the students where I went to college (UCLA), where they would never hold a rally like this because it would have most definitely turned into a riot.

We watched the fire for a bit, then headed home. It was a really nice evening, and though we got home really late, I'm glad we did it and did not bow down to fear and anxiety. Nothing worse in life than saying "I should have..."

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rob Dickie and Neil Thorne for the pics.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crazy Weather and New Rakes

Not that I'm complaining, but I don't know what to make of the weather sometimes. Last week it was freezing cold and we even had a few October snow showers, which is a bit early, even for a New England neophyte.

This week, it warmed up to what felt at times like 80 degrees. I doubt it was that warm, but the weather forecast called for temps in the mid-70s. That's incredible, though again, not bad news for taking care of our septic tank.

Because it was so nice, A&N were inspired to go out and rake the leaves into a big pile. Our rakes have taken a beating over the years, a lot of which is due to neglect on my part. I.e., I leave them out over the Winter and they degrade. Consequently, they break, and though they're still usable, they sure lose a lot of efficiency.

With two broken rakes, the job of making a leaf pile was all the more challenging, but the kids weren't complaining. At some point we did decide, however, that we needed new rakes. We headed over to Aubuchon and got two new ones, one metal and the other plastic. They have some really cheap rakes, and you probably get cheaper ones at Family Dollar, but at some point you have to ask yourself if you're really saving any money... my Mentor, not to mention JH and my in-laws, would be proud of that POV.

We broke in the new rakes ASAP, building up the pile and making it almost ready to jump into. Until then, thanks for reading.

Stood Up

So I got stood up by JF, who said he'd help me with my website. Yet another example of the pitfalls of relying on free advice to get something done. I can't tell you how many times things have fallen through with this website, and in the end, I'm the fool for waiting around and hoping someone will magically come through for me. I need to just do it myself and stop whining (who's whining?)

I'd spoken to JF a few times before the big fateful day. He works near the Howe library, so the plan was to meet him there in the afternoon. I had to meet with CiH's brother, RH, who happens to be JH's brother and CH's uncle, as well. Are we connected to this family, or what?

RH came over and we discussed painting matters, since he's a painter, and we could have gone on all day because there is so much to learn. At some point, looking at the clock, I told him we had to go. I was carting the kids with me to the Howe, where they'd entertain themselves while I talked Web design with JF. I was worried they'd get bored, but as usual, they did a stellar job of entertaining themselves. They're such good kids, objectively speaking, of course.

Anyway, we got there on time, and I sat and waited... and waited. JF never showed up. I tried calling his number, but it was either busy or I couldn't get through. Finally, after an hour, I emailed him with the realization that it wasn't going to happen. He emailed me back and apologized that he'd gotten wrapped up in something and forgot.

Shot down in flames again. Truth be told, after fiddling around with this program, I think I can pull this off. Sure, it's not going to be a top notch, award winning website, but at least it will be of my own making, and won't set me back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. I spoke to one person who said the guy who did his site, which for the record is beautiful, charges $2000. I almost dropped to the floor when I heard that.

We also saw our friends the Macks, sans AM, which was a bit of a relief. The kids are growing fast, and it was nice catching up.

The librarian commented on how well A&N entertain themselves and don't create a fuss. I'd have to agree. By about 6:00, R arrived, and we headed over to Boloco for our usual feast. I didn't get any help for my website, but again, I've got nobody to blame but myself for not simply doing it (can you hear the violin music in the background?)

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

Good as New

There aren't too many things that are as much of a bummer as car woes. You really rely on the thing, and when it isn't working, it can have a profound effect on your state of mind because you take it so much for granted, even though I try not to.

We had a few issues recently, not huge, but enough to rest on our minds. The check engine light was on and we were having acceleration problems, coupled with the fact that we needed a new inspection sticker.

Well, our mechanic found the problem, and it turned out to be fairly easy to fix. In fact, in the short term, he fixed it with some duct tape. We passed inspection for about $40. I still had to get the new part, and prepared myself for the worst. However, even that part was only about $40. Factor in about $15 to install it, and we came out of it fairly unscathed.

I love (and am thankful) when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Belovodchenko Anton for the pic.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Busy and Squeezing It In

In the spirit of squeezing things in in what little you've got, not to mention living the life of a soccer mom, I managed to get a ton of stuff done while the kids were having their art class, operating under the prescient words of Eleanor Roosevelt who once said, "You must do the things you think you cannot do."

I've learned that since becoming a parent, the only way things get done is to just do it, even when you are not sure you can. If anything, that is all the more reason to try. I can't tell you how many times in the throes of doubt I didn't do something and kicked myself because in retrospect I could have pulled it off. This also applies to situations where I had the time, but felt too timid or pensive to even try (what a wimp).

Now that I'm a parent with little to no time, I seem to make the most of the little time I actually do have. Funny how that works. Somehow, like begets like. Too much free time makes me a sloth.

Either way, I had two hours, and made the most of it. After dropping off the recycling at the dump, I had to get new floor mats for the car and the only place nearby was the dealer in W. Leb. After going there, I headed over to Stateline to get R and A's skates sharpened. It takes about a 1/2 hour, so I had to come back and get them. During that time, I went to Stern's for produce, then the Coop for assorted items, then back to Stateline to get the finished skates.

I had about 45 minutes and had to make a decision. I had a check for my Mentor, and wanted to get it to him before he left for the season, which was going to be in 2 days. I could have waited until the next day, but again, when I put things off until a later date, I usually regret it. It would have meant making a detour to get back to the kids, but I could have a made a loop to pull it off.

I went for it, and as I headed over there, I started to sweat a little looking at the clock. I had to be back to get the kids, and then take them all to karate class with me. Talk about non-stop action. I got to Quechee quicker than I anticipated, ran inside to give him his stuff (he said, shaking his head "Boy, the life of a soccer mom."), then headed back over the hill. By the time I got back, I had more time than I thought I'd have, and even stopped back at home to drop off the groceries and skates.

I made back to class with about 10 minutes to spare, feeling good that I not only tried, but took care of business. Just goes to show you, when in doubt, go for it.

The kids had fun at karate, but what a long day for both children and adults. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Geir Akselsen for the pic.

Sleep Issues

I have been having some sleep issues, and I know I'm not alone in this affliction. Besides fatigue, which I always assumed was just a natural by-product of being a parent, I also have a tendency to sleep on my back, and along with that come the usual problems, most of which are not good things on numerous fronts.

Well, in the spirit of dealing with matters worthy of my attention, I've made a concerted effort to change certain sleeping patterns, many of which I've embraced since I was a baby, and things seem to be looking up. The main thing is to sleep on my side, even though I savor that delicious sensation of drifting off on my back.

However, I've found the key is to not even start on my back. The moment I get into bed, I go to my side and since I'm so tired, I fall asleep fairly quickly. Also, I really psyche myself up before bedtime and tell myself, "No sleeping on your back." Hey, I know it sound corny, but I think it works.

As a consequence, I think I feel less tired. I say "think" because part of me believes it may be psychological. Whatever be the case, I do feel better, and I recall my dreams in the AM, something that doesn't seem to usually happen. Also, I have been having intense dreams, which again, I remember. Finally, I think R has noticed a change, though it's hard to say with certainty because at that hour, we're both exhausted, not to mention unconscious. This will require further examination.

Either way, just an interesting health note. Sleep is such an important thing, and I get so little of it that I have to make the most of the times that I do.

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

Making My Website

I finally took the plunge and started working on my website, and you know what? It wasn't that bad. Sure, I'm a long ways off from launching his beast, but our new Mac has an internal program designed just for making websites, and being a Mac application, it's very user friendly. I get lost and confuse along the way, but given enough time, I can work through assorted problems.

It's all rather empowering. Coupled with meeting with JF, who has created various websites using I believe the same program, I think this could become a reality, albeit with very small steps.

Then I'll be on my way with my glorious freelance writing career.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snow?

I love the snow just as much as the next person, but last week was a bit early. After all, it's only October, and the weather has been unseasonably cold to the point where we got a light dusting of snow, and it happened two days in a row.

Amazing. The weather is supposed to get warmer, but it's sort of strange seeing the white stuff so early. Could this portend for a snowy Winter?

I can't say, but I sure hope so. I could use a few more days of warmer weather, though, because I have to locate and dig up our septic tank.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Art Projects

The kids love going to the library story hour, which is not that well attended by kids in the local school, even though it's a free event offered to anybody. Whatever be the case, it's a mellow time where they get together, have a snack, and do an art project while the librarian reads them a story. I realize this sounds kind of dull, but it's a really nice time from my POV. I can go into the library and either read, work on the computer, or if I'm really lucky, take a nap, and the kids have a blast. They look forward to it, and a few of their friends are regulars, so it works out nicely.

Plus, they get to do all sorts of cool artwork. The projects are simple, but A&N have a good time and put some thought and effort into their work. Last time they did simple things on paper, and I was impressed with the level of focus that went into them. N did the "Jackson-Pollack-esque" piece, which is all the more impressive when you consider that he had to glue and attach all that yarn.

A drew a piece inspired by the book series that she's read in the past, and she did a stand-up job, if I may say so myself.

Either way, a good time was had by all, and I'm glad we have the chance to use our local library.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cinema Paradisio

There is a series of books that A had been a fan of about a year ago, and they made it into a movie. It's called the Guardians of Ga'hoole, and of course we were going to check it out. A even made a beautiful illustration depicting the book cover.

The only problem was that it was playing at a theater that wasn't so warm and fuzzy. We much prefer the Nugget in the big city, but this was playing at the multi-plex in Lebanon. Now this is a much more mainstream theater, but they have signs saying "No backpacks" and they stress the right to confiscate food that you've brought into the theater from home.

Now I understand it's a business and they're just upholding their end, but it's rather draconian, and the fact that it's so in your face makes it a bit unpleasant. Plus, the last time we were there, the guy working was unfriendly and we saw him in action busting a family and taking their food. It wasn't a pleasant scene.

The theater is a little grungy, as well.

The thing is, they play a lot of mainstream movies, while the Nugget, being a college theater, goes for more eclectic fair. This movie was a bit of an event, so there was no getting around going to the theater.

As it turns out, the mean guy wasn't there, and we had a pleasant experience. Plus, A keeps telling me that I'm too cynical, I focus too much on the negatives, and I tend to complain about everything, so I'll make more of an effort to keep my criticisms to myself, or rather, my blog.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Flu Shots

In preparation for the coming Fall, we went and got our flu shots at DHMC. It's kind of an event, and we always manage to run into someone we know. They hold a health fair and it has a bit of a party atmosphere, with giveaways and vendors. At least that was how it was last year. We missed the first session this year, and I'd heard that nearly 5000 people showed up. I spoke with some people who went and they said the line went out the door.

This time around, the crowd wasn't bad at all. Best of all, the kids got to have their vaccines done by inhaler, which meant no needles. They do very well with shots, but given the choice, why wouldn't you choose the nasal route?

Personally, I wanted it too, but when I arm-wrestled the kids to see who got to have the inhaler, i lost. I had to take my shot like a man. Now my shoulder hurts.

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

One Down...

Just as I go on about how much I have to do, I am actually getting things done. Amazing how that works. I've finally finished that darn curricula, as well as the other documentation that is required to be officially recognized for the academic year. I'll tell you, it ain't easy being a home educator, but you can't beat the school uniforms.

I have to confess, making up the curricula wasn't that bad, especially for N, who will basically follow his sister's footsteps. It takes some time to figure out how A's year will go, but I figure there really is no better way to have an idea of what your kids are learning.

Now I just need to get it in the mail and wait to hear from the state what I've screwed up. Until then, I'll bask in the glow of having one less thing to weigh me down. I feel lighter already.

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Apologies

I wanted to apologize for my rant the other day about all that I had to do and for implying that I get in trouble for not keeping the house clean. This is an inaccurate rendering of the situation, said in the heat of feeling overwhelmed, and I regret saying it. That is not to say that unhappy sentiments are not detected when the house is a mess, but those come from both ends of the marital bliss equation.

Besides, I hate to sound so whiny, not very in line with being a real man, but it sure can be therapeutic at times.

I'll leave it at that. Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lucky Double Dose of JH and CH

We had quite a busy stretch these past few days, but lucky for us it involved playdates with our friends, and as any parent knows, when your kids are happily playing with friends, it makes it that much easier on the parent in charge. It's a win-win situation because it works out for everyone.

JH came over the other day and we discussed our next step. He looked at the sink and we talked wiring, and at some point he had to go and pick up his niece and nephew. Since they are good buddies with A&N, we decided to get the kids together to play. So later that day, JH came over with C&SH and the kids had a blast.

In fact, from the moment they arrived, the four of them went upstairs and we didn't see them again until it was time to go, so JH and I just hung out. The kids really play well together. Sure, it sounded chaotic up there, but nothing was broken, there wasn't too much of a mess, and there was no crying or screaming in anger. How can you beat that? Everyone seemed to play in harmony. All adults involved agree, these guys really get along well. It's nice to see, we really enjoy having them over.

We also got to see CH, sans JH, the next day, which again, was fun. I think the H kids really run at the same speed as our kids, it works out well. They enjoy doing the same stuff and have a good time really using their imaginations and making something out of nothing. The H kids are also incredibly well-mannered and polite, so it makes it that much easier for me. They were having so much fun that they almost didn't want to go to the library, they would have been perfectly happy just playing at home.

Not like some other friend's kids with whom I'm constantly doing battle with over what they want to do versus what I'll let them. They can be unrelenting, and refuse to take "no" for an answer. I can see how they end up getting what they want, because the continual onslaught wears a parent down, and at some point, you just give in because you can't take it anymore.

This, however, does not apply to a real-man in training who is also studying to be a trained killer. Don't mess with a karate man. In the end, the kids are really nice, and I like them a lot, it's just a little more of a challenge establishing who is in charge, and I am not so keen on when they try to get our own kids, A&N, to turn on me to further their cause. This I have an issue with, but the key is to stand your ground. Kids need boundaries, whether or not their parents set them is another story.

As R and I discusses, when we were kids we would never have argued with a friend's parent, or if we did, we'd say maybe one word of protest, and then leave it at that. We just took their word to be the final say. What's happening with kids today?

Oh well, what are you going to do? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Billy Alexander for the pic.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Overwhelmed but Not Whiny (sort of)

If I really sit back and think about all the stuff I have to deal with, it sure can be overwhelming, so the best thing is to do is to not think about it, right? Fat chance.

Bear in mind, I don't mean to sound whiny (too late?), but the list is really weighing on me, and of course, I'd love to share it with you.

First off, the big thing is finishing the kid's curricula. I need to outline their course requirements for the year and get them to the state. Lucky for me they are incredibly nice and helpful, so they aren't sending the vice squad out to get me. On a bright note, their end of the year assessments are completed and accepted, which is a huge relief, but we're not quite ready to celebrate.

The lawn is done, sort of. The main sections are completed and ready for the Winter, but I still need to mow the bottom section and the hill. At some point I'd like to seed them, but that's a low priority. I also need to run the mower dry for storage.

The firewood is an ongoing drama, I did manage to move all the cut blocks (5 cords) to higher ground where I can split and stack them. My goal is to get that done and then start cutting the logs before Winter comes so I can relocate those in the Spring, but I'm not sure if that is going to happen. It is snowing in October! I did manage to get some pallets at Woodstock Hardware, though, which was a score.

I need to order the siding for the barn, which will maybe then have to be moved into the barn to protect it from the weather, unless of course I can just cover it with plastic until Spring. Needless to say, this is the preferred option. Then it needs to be painted and nailed in. Speaking of the barn, I still need to put up the soffit, and then put in the blocking. The septic is in motion, but I need to deal with those darn trees out back. The septic on our house needs to be pumped, but before that happens, I need to dig up the opening to access the goodies. This will require search and discover shoveling.

The front door is close to being done, but I want to put some insulation in that small gap and then cover it with a soffit. I also want to put up some rigid foam insulation on the inside and caulk it because I'm not sure when I'll get that drywall on, and it's going to be a cold Winter, like it always is. The seal on the front door is also compromised, as PR pointed out, and that will be a significant source of drafts. He seemed to indicate that fixing it would be simple and straightforward, which only spells disaster for the likes of me. Also, I need to stain and install the front step, but the staining will depend on the final color that we choose for the house. This, in turn, will only happen after some big decisions are made, but not by me, of course. I just work here.

Now the garbage disposal is acting up. Boy, home ownership can sure break your back at times.

On top of all that stuff, I have a constant flurry of kids activities, not to mention getting the school stuff done while cooking three meals a day and keeping the house marginally clean. Even in lieu of all that, I still can't seem to keep the house clean enough. Throw in the fact that I'm trying to get my glorious writing career going, and it begs the question, who am I trying to kid?

Okay, now that I've moaned a little, I feel much better. Blogging can be like therapy. Bear in mind, as much as I cry about it, I don't want to farm out projects that I could do myself, or rather, watch JH do with his magic bag of tools. Part of being a real man is getting your hands dirty and doing it yourself, so I wouldn't change a thing.

I just need to whine about it now and then. Thanks for listening and sorry for subjecting you to it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get the fire in the stove going, it's cold out here.

BTW, thanks also to Zsuzsanna Kilian for the pic.

Return to Pottery

We made it back to pottery class and I have to confess, I think it's a good one for the kids. They really enjoy it, their buddies are there, and they make some really cool stuff. In other art classes they work with clay or some facsimile thereof, but they don't get to bake it in the kiln and glaze it, which I personally think moves the artwork to another level. Something that you might keep forever, and or makes an even more impressive present.

Whatever be the case, I think they have a blast, and it is an area where I really think the kids shine, especially N. In fact, there were a couple of pieces that had been left over from the previous class that were ready to take home, and they were so nicely done. You can't tell from the pic, but they bowl and box pictured here are really well done. They both have a really cool texture that must have taken a lot of time and patience, not necessarily trademark qualities of young boys. I'm really impressed, and as he explained, the box took some creative problem solving to pull off.

I'm glad the kids are back in. The class was big, there were a bunch of new students. I'd like to keep it going, but it is a little expensive, and I had to convince R that it was worth it. Maybe since the other classes are over, this one will work out.

Either that or I'd better start getting my glorious freelance writing career on track. We'll see what happens with that one. Until then, thanks for reading.


big class, the kids really love it, I get 2 hours to run errands

Bright Ideas

At first glance, this simply looks like a roll of tape that someone had left on the floor, but it is so much more. It is a glaring example how a shameless proud parent takes advantage of a moment to say, "OMG, what a &*#*$ brilliant idea."

What happened is the door to our bedroom never stays open by itself. It always closes on its own, so we put a small rock there to hold it still.

Well, N decided to take matters into his own hand. What he did was he put a piece of double sided tape on the door bumper, and voila, the door sticks to it and doesn't close.

I know, it's just a small thing and no big deal, but when you're a shameless parent, you want to milk these moments. Sorry, I just can't help it.

Until the next shameless time, thanks for reading.

Karate Serendipity

Now that A has joined our karate class, it dawned on me that she should get a gi. It's all part of the enthusiasm package. When she really gets excited and into it, she'd like to dress the part, as does everyone. Plus, when she has the outfit and starts getting the belts, she will all that much more excited about the process of becoming a trained killer... just kidding, sort of.

Anyway, I was prepared to order her a gi since I think she's into it and will continue. Well, no sooner had that decision percolated in my brain when, at our last class, JC came to drop off EC and walked straight over to me and asked if we needed a gi. EC had outgrown his and she wanted to know if were interested in having it.

Were we ever. How's that for timing? Plus, since EC is her buddy, A was all that much more excited about having it. AND, she looks really cool in it.

I love when life works out like that. Plus, we can now work out together, though we have a test coming up, and that's always a cause for a little bit of anxiety. Just a little, because a karate-man shows no weakness.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Patrick Nijhuis for the pic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taco Night

We had prepared for the final market and then it was canceled, much to our chagrin (yeah, right). We were also left with all this ground beef, which buy from Cloudland Farms in 10 pound packages.

Now I'm not averse to having this much meat, which will probably last us the entire Winter, because having a lot of meat means we can have taco night, which is a family favorite.

Everyone gets involved, but none more than N. He loves to cook the meat, but his favorite thing is to cook the taco shells. He's a pro.

We feasted on our meal and then walked away saying we'd never eat meat again... at least not until next week. Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kids and Macs

Great things have been happening since we got the new computer. The kids have really taken to the Mac, and they are incredibly savvy with computers. Part of it is an endless curiosity for gadgets, especially the computer kind. The learn and figure things out at light speed.

They've discovered Google Earth as well as modifying certain parameters on the computer, especially with pics and music. It's really interesting to see. We don't allow them to surf the web, but just fiddling with computer can provide plenty of entertainment.

I'm thinking we can get some cool animation and graphics programs, as well as design and drawing applications. The possibilities are endless, and since they both enjoy making movies, there may be cinema in the future.

We'll see where this one goes. Thanks for reading.

The Big 7.0

Yesterday was N's big 7th birthday, and for many reasons this is a big day, though once again my mom ignored us to let us know she isn't happy with us. Oh well, you can't win them all, though for the record, I'd like to say that I think she's wrong to take out her disdain for me on our kids, but that's just me.

Being a school day, it was a little difficult to have a party, not that anyone on this end was begging to have one. Our plan was to open presents, go bowling (his wish), then have a nice dinner with cake and ice cream at Jesse's, our old favorite haunt.

The day had been building up, with everyone counting down the days, especially N. He was even marking off the days on his calendar. The night before, R sneaked into his room and put up some decorations, and the both of us battled extreme exhaustion and wrapped the presents and put up streamers.

The next morning, the kids came down and were besides themselves. They opened up the presents and had a blast, they were so excited. The pile of gifts was impressive, with grandparents and uncles/aunts doing the usual fabulous job. He got some really cool stuff, thanks in no small part to having cool relatives who love to play with gadgets.

N was also thrilled to finally be in possession of a remote controlled car, something he's been pining for for years, or rather, several months. The kids also got walkie-talkies, which were obtained compliments of the fruits of dad's blogging. I love when that happens.

We had to run out and do some errands, of course, mainly get the car fixed and do some shopping, but thanks to their new stuff, errands became fun. I had to go to the store to get a few things, and usually they come along and can enjoy the experience, but everything changes when you have two-way radios. Now, they could help out with the shopping and maintain constant radio contact throughout the store with their units. How cool is that? They were thrilled to pieces, and wouldn't let me find anything, they all wanted to do it themselves. Another dad was there and asked me what the secret was to getting our kids to help out, and even though I have some idea, I played ignorant and said, "I don't know, I just work here."

After shopping, we met mom at the bowling alley and bowled a few rounds before hitting the arcade. Then, off to A's robotics class, during which N and I went to the skateboard park and did some blading/scootering. We blade together, which can be a bit challenging because the park is filled with young teenagers on skateboards who seem nice enough but also lean towards possibly being hoodlums. That is not completely fair because for the most part I've found them to be decent nice guys, they're just cocky skateboarders. If it was just me, no big deal, but when I'm with the kids, I always feel a little edgy.

On a brighter note, N made a little buddy, a cool hip kid who was shredding on his scooter. I have to confess, N himself is pretty darn good on that thing, a quick learner who aspires to a higher skill level, which knowing him, I think he's got a decent chance of achieving. He's just an athletic kid who is coordinated and strong. He is on the daring side with trying out tricks, and has some inherent sense of what is cool. He's such a guy.

Anyway, besides being cool, the kid was nice, and even introduced himself and said goodbye when he had to go. It was heartwarming. He also inspired N to try out new tricks, and I can see them developing. At some point we're going to have to get that boy a skateboard.

N also brought along his new radio-controlled car (of course), which he got to play with. They'd spent all morning driving the thing up and down our driveway, but now he wanted to give it a go on the rugged urban terrain of Lebanon. He loves that thing.

We went to A's final class and got to watch the sumo-battle between the robots. It was pretty cool, and A really loves the whole programming thing. She and N are naturals on the computer, and since they inherited my old Mac, they are in the process of completely figuring that thing out. More than I ever had. It's pretty impressive, and perhaps an avenue we'd like to explore more. She seems to have more fun with the nerdy computer boys as opposed to the sophisticated cheerleader-type girls. Go figure.

N wanted A to have a chance to try out his car on the urban terrain after her class, he was practically insistent, but we had a reservation to make, and A's class went over because they kept having battle after battle with their robots. It's impresses me to no end that she programmed that thing, and she really loved it.

Dinner was nice, the kids both had steaks, which were kind of big in our opinion, so I got to sneak in a few bites, and then the piece de resistance, the brownie hot fudge sundae, my personal favorite, but it was N's birthday.

Afterward, we headed home, with the kids chatting on the radios all the way. The walkie-talkies that we got were actually not toys, but kind of serious machines. Not only do the claim to have a 27 mile range, which I find hard to believe, but they get they have lights and get the national weather broadcast, which they love listening to. Kind of serious machines. I had written a piece for a retail site and they gave me a gift certificate, which I used to get them.

What an exciting day, albeit a long one, but you can easily ignore the fatigue when the kids are happy and having fun. You just can't beat that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Let There Be Light

We've had this issue with our kitchen, and for that matter the entire house, from day 1, and that is that it is somewhat dark in the house. The upstairs bedrooms are fine because they have plenty of windows and two of them have southern exposure, but something about the kitchen in particular can be downright gloomy at times.

The previous track lights were not very bright, and lit the room to some degree, but still left it dreary, especially on those long Winter nights, so we resolved to do something about it, and it only took 3 months. It would have taken longer (never?) if not for JH and his magic bag of tools.

I wrote about this on GITGMS, so I'll just give a brief synopsis here. I couldn't find lights to replace the old ones on the track, so the only solution was to replace the whole track. This required some re-wiring, which seemed pretty straightforward, but needless to say, I felt better having a seasoned professional do it, or better yet, JH. He came over and installed a box and did the wiring, while I had the all important job of holding the flashlight (though he brought his headlamp, so I was superfluous) and handing him tools. It also involved cutting some of the sheetrock to fit the box in since they didn't use a box the first time around, which JH handled like a pro.

Once the track was in, all we had to do was choose some lights, which isn't easy when R and I aren't working in unison. Our method involved me going to the store, buying 3 or 4 different types of lights, bringing them home and then seeing which one looked good. After choosing what we liked, I went back and returned the undesirables and got more of the desirable ones. The lady at the returns counter thought I was crazy. Also, they were sold out so we had to wait for them to come in.

Once in, I had to do some splicing and re-wiring myself, which was a little tricky but not insurmountable. It gave me a chance to act like I knew what I was doing.

Finally, all the lights are in and properly adjusted, and I have to confess, the kitchen is much brighter, not to mention more cheerful and perhaps even a little rustic-ly stylish. How can you beat that? Maybe get a brighter counter and cabinets, but that's for another time, maybe when my brother-in-law PR next visits.

I may have to install that mirror now that I'm on a roll. Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Puzzlemania

The kids received a puzzle last Christmas called 100 Cats and a Fish, and it was a 750 deal, not for the faint of heart, and way beyond my capabilities. It's a really cool puzzle, lots of fun, and there are many variations on this theme. Either way, they ended up doing it all by themselves, with no help from me, which would have been a liability, though I think R helped them at times. The brunt of the work, however, was done by the them, and they did a stand-up job. It was really impressive.

After it was done, they immediately started up on another one, talk about inspiration. I may have to go online and look for some drop leaf tables to accommodate all of these puzzles, but perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm just so impressed they pulled it off.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Bailed Out on the Last Market

After some discussion with R, we decided to take the plunge and bail out of the last market. This is a bit of a bummer because it is the last market, and I'd made all of the fillings, but the weather was threatening bad stuff, and I had definitely lost that loving feeling.

There is talk of a Winter market, but we'll see.

In the meantime, I'll just stare at those bowls of filling and hope they'll magically turn into dumplings.

Trustee at the Howe and AM Sighting

For whatever reason, I was asked to be a trustee for the Howe Library (talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel), and to be honest with you, I'm not even sure what a trustee does. In fact, before I moved up here, I hadn't even really heard the word, and suddenly I've become one. Funny how the world works.

Now I'm a trustee at the local library, and it's a really fun and casual atmosphere. We make decisions regarding the library, and it's a really enjoyable time. I had a sense the big city library was a little more serious, and as a consequence, I felt a little more anxiety about going to the big meeting, which only happens once a year.

The situation was compounded by the fact that there are nearly 300 people in the group. I felt like I couldn't be my usual sloppy and casual self, so I actually wore long pants that were not jeans and a nice sweater. I even shaved.

Another complication was that I had the kids and had to find a way to entertain them while I was busy making policies. They also had music lessons right in the middle of the meeting, so I arranged with R to have her pick them up at the library and then she could take them to their lessons. I had made supper during the day so all they had to do was heat it up, and I picked up some bread at the market.

I also ran into our old friend AM, and surprisingly enough, she didn't stop and talk. In fact, she saw me and walked right by. I didn't know whether I should have been thankful or offended. To be fair, she had a deadline she had to meet so she was running around, but I sense a cooling between us, perhaps fueled by the fact that we never speak and I haven't seen her in months. Even during the FM, there were times when her husband, TM, would come over and buy dumplings and chat, but she never stopped by, even when she was at the market (I saw her walk by)

Oh well, you can't worry about making everyone happy when you're so busy worrying about making everyone happy.

I also didn't have time to chat, and rushed by her because I had to return a boatload of books, get the kids situated, then fill the book bag again before rushing off to the meeting. As a consequence, I missed the social mixer before the meeting, though there was some degree of design to this.

When I finally made it downstairs, it was quite a scene. Big city folks for as far as the eyes could see, and here I am, not knowing a single one of them. As you can imagine, it had a very clubby feel, with people sitting around and chatting in familiar tones. I actually ran into a couple whom I recognized from the library and the market, and of course I immediately latched onto them, even following them in and sitting next to them.

The meeting was actually reasonably painless, though I had to stand up when they introduced the new members. If I'd have had to have said something, I would run screaming, but that didn't happen. They went over the budget, then the new projects and future fundraisers, and took care of administrative business.

The scene was more serious and maybe a bit stuffier than our local library trustee meetings, but in all fairness, the Howe Library is a truly amazing library, and they do amazing things over there. It's a fabulous place, and the reason for this is because they have the resources and the people to make a difference.

I guess I'm a part of that now, just don't ask me what I'm supposed to do.

The meeting ended a little early, so I had time to jet over to the Coop and get some needed food items, then I headed home and made it in time for supper, which was good because I had the bread.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Final Market in Jeopardy

A friend was likening this to when you have a big exam that you study your butt off for and then the test is canceled. On the one hand you're disappointed because you spent so much time preparing, but on the other hand, you're elated because you don't have to take the test.

That's how I feel about the market, though I don't feel much in the way of disappointment. The week was progressing and it was becoming clear that we were going to have make dumplings at some point before Friday. Actually, more to the point, I was going to have to make dumplings, and I wasn't thrilled about it. By Wednesday, I knew something had to be done, so I set about making the fillings.

We serve 5 kinds of dumplings, and I ended making 4 of the fillings. It took me most of the morning, but it was a good start. I began making the beef dumplings when I checked the weather and it indicated rain and wind on Friday.

Say no more, if the weather was going to be foul, there was no way I was going to make dumplings. I put everything in the freezer and took the day off, which of course means nothing when you're a SAHD because as anyone who watches the kids knows, you never get a day off.

I do have some mixed emotions about the whole thing. It is the last market, and if it is canceled, then we probably won't see the other vendors, our brethren, for quite some time. Oh well, I'll get it over it if it means not having to make dumplings.

We shall see. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Saiuri for the pic.

Pants

This seems insignificant and inconsequential, but we found pants that N likes, and for whatever reason, this makes us all so very happy. The reason being that N is very particular about his clothes. Not in an overt fashion sense, but more in a quirky and meticulous manner. He doesn't like any of the clothes that we get him, and consequently, won't wear them.

The only pair of pants he will wear were the ones made for him by his grandmother. She had done a fabulous job in making them, but it's not realistic, or for that matter fair, to expect her to make his entire wardrobe every year as he outgrows his clothes.

As a growing boy, his pants are starting to get small, so I decided to act out of character and buy him whatever pair he likes at the store, under the condition that he chooses them and understands that we will only get them if will in fact wear them. This also meant that I was going to have to pay full price, which is painful, but sometimes necessary.

We headed over to Rugged Bear, which for the record is one of the greatest clothing stores ever, and looked around. It actually didn't take long, we found a pair he liked, he tried them on, and got them. He actually excited about them, and later when we met R for dinner, it was cold and he changed into them because he was wearing shorts.

Here we are, three days later, and I don't think he's changed his pants. I think we have a winner. Thank goodness for that. Now I want to go and get several pairs so he has a complete wardrobe, but one step at at time. BTW, he looks quite dashing in his new threads, but that's just my opinion.

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

Pottery is a Go

Okay, after some discussion, we've decided to go with pottery class, mainly because A&N love it so much, but also because they get to make some cool things that are the real deal. In other words, not simple play-dough creations, but real pottery that they get to glaze and paint. They make great presents that we can force on assorted relatives and also make nice decorations around the house.

The main reason I'm all for it is that, at least for N, it gives him a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that he can make cool creations with his hands. A loves it to, but she has so many interests and does well at many things. N is not as diversified, he has a smaller repertoire of interests that really get him pumped, so I feel like we have to seize upon the ones that click.

At least, that's what I think. Until the next time, thanks for reading

Bird Rescue

As I mentioned before, our cats have been on a rampage with the bird population. I feel sorry for the little birds, and the cats are a big reason why we don't have a bird feeder. That would be like leading lambs (or birds) to the slaughter. Plus, the cats like to torture them before they kill them, it's so heartless.

The other day, I went out and saw our cat sitting in the sun, relaxing, but for some reason her paw was extended. As I got closer, I noticed she was holding down a bird. I shooed her away and retrieved the bird, which as a tiny songbird, maybe a finch. Cute and yellow. He wasn't dead, at least not yet.

In the past, I've rescued birds from the cats and they ended up dying within an hour or two, but I figured it was worth a try. I put him in a box with towel and covered him, and left him in a warm corner. He was closing his eyes as I left him, so I figured his time had come. At least he could be comfortable in his final moments.

Well, when I went back an hour later, he was alert and perky. Maybe there was hope. I told the kids dressed and we drove over to VINS, where they have a wonderful service of taking hurt birds and trying to heal them.

When the woman opened the box, the little guy took off and flew across the room, which I took to be a good sign. They also informed me that it was probably a warbler, not a finch. They had to look it up in a book, however, and even then, they weren't completely sure.

I'm glad there was some hope, and we left feeling the warm glow of doing a good deed. They said we could call back and check in on the bird, but that's probably pushing it a bit.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Joan Kocur for the pic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Car Solutions

We have had a problem with our car that has people scratching their heads, though there is no shortage of helpful advice. The problem is that the car seems to bog and lurch coming out of first gear. It seems like the timing is off, and the car is on the verge of stalling. Once out of first gear, however, it runs fine.

The main theory was that it needed new spark plugs, which seemed reasonable to me, but what do I know? To add to our misery, the check engine light suddenly went on, and our inspection tag expires this month. These are the sort of things that give me anxiety to the point of shutting down and ignoring the problem.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you see it, that is not an option, not when my family is counting on me to step up to the plate.

The only thing to do was to take it in and have the inspection done and hope for the best. It helps that our mechanic, RM, is our neighbor and really knows his stuff. We took the car over to Meunier, and I was expecting the worst.

Well, it turns out that the problem was an air intake hose, and the guy fixed it with a piece of duct tape. We passed the inspection, got our new tag, and resolved the check engine light/stalling problem in one visit. How cool is that? All it cost was the price of the inspection.

I love when that happens. Of course, I need to order a new hose, and from an authorized dealer, who tend to overcharge. However, when I called, it wasn't that bad, and she said she'd send it to me via UPS for only about $5. Wow, one lucky turn after another. She actually said that this is a very common problem and they send out a lot of these hoses. She even said she has the same car and had the same problem.

I love a happy ending.

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

Chess

The kids have been showing a keen interest in chess, N in particular, and I find this development to be to my liking. Something about chess that appeals to me. Maybe it's because it requires some brain power, but also because it is so quiet and thoughtful, with quiet being the key word here.

Also, they can play each other, freeing dad up to do things like wash dishes and take a nap, but they can also play the computer. They have been finding endless variations on the game with computer, and they can adjust the level of difficulty to their liking.

Did I mention they don't need to me participate?

Sounds good to me. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to guillermo ossa for the pic.

More New Mac

As I gradually get to know the new Mac, the more I realize how nice it is to have a new computer. This thing really shreds (thanks to our dumpling profits), and now we have an extra computer for the kids to use on a regular basis. They can watch movies on it, too.

Best of all, I was able to transfer not only my old files, but the applications, as well. All it took was using a special program and our wireless internet, and the computers did the rest. Because they were connected to the same router, they were able to communicate and transfer the information. It even transferred my desktop photo and my web bookmarks, though it took about 3 hours.

How cool is that? Now, if I could just get my website up and running, I'll be official. Oh well, can't have it all... at least not yet.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Library Emergency

There was a minor crisis at the library, and I got a phone call on Monday morning asking if I could help with their task at hand. For full disclosure, I had indicated that I would help, but that was weeks ago, and being the disorganized slob that I am, never wrote the date down and subsequently forgot. In essence, I was supposed to be there.

When MD called, she asked if I could come and fill in for some people who were no-shows, and when I asked when, she said, "Now!" I felt bad for forgetting, even if it was a holiday.

Either way, I had to pack up the kids, bring along entertainment (because the library was essentially closed), and then head over there. It was actually kind of fun, and I really like all the people affiliated with the library. Like all the things around here, they do a great job, and we are lucky to have a such a nice library in town.

Don't get me started on how lucky we are to live here.

After the work, I took the kids to have wings for lunch (they were so well-behaved), but not before stopping at Green Mountain Smokehouse, where I found they not only have nitrate-free bacon, but nitrate-kielbasa and sweet Italian sausage. Now, if they only had nitrate free hot dogs, life would be good.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Kriss Szkurlatowski for the pic.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trail Blazing

In a classic example of getting into something and then regretting it, I promised the town XC ski trails committee that I would help them make trails. They do it every year and enlist the help of volunteers.

For the record, the two people who do the trails, A&G, do an amazingly fantastic job. The trails in town are incredible, and though many people are involved, it is really the work of those two that get it done. As a resident of this town, we owe it to them to help out.

I don't even XC ski that much, but R enjoys it, and the kids do it now and then. Either way, every year I tell them I want to help, and every year I flake. This year I vowed it would be different, but sure enough I'd forgotten about it until JH reminded me because he helps out.

I told him I'd be there, but things are so busy around here that once the day arrived, I had a million things to do. I couldn't flake again, however, so I put everything aside and went and helped.

I will say this, those guys do some serious clearing. They cut trees down like they were shrubs, and use a tractor to clear whatever is in their path. I also got to drive a tractor for the first time. The guy who owned it told me I could borrow it, and when I told him I'd never driven one before, he made me drive it up the hill and over to the work site. I didn't want to (I was scared), but he wouldn't take no for an answer, so I climbed in and hit the road.

I even cleared out a tree. How's that for real-man points?

It took a few hours, and at some point I told them I had to go. I'm glad I helped, and hope to help more. They do great work and so much of it, emblematic of this community.

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

Adventures in the Big City

As I mentioned, N and I went skating and then split wood until dark. Well, when we went back inside to make dinner, there were messages from mom in Hanover that she'd lost her keys and needed a spare set.

N and I immediately jumped into the car and headed out there, spare keys in hand. We met them at the bookstore where mom and A were hanging out, reading. N and I got a quick burrito from Boloco, and then we got ready to leave.

R went to get the car and was going to meet us at the other car when lo and behold, she found her lost keys. How fortuitous is that?

Another happy ending for a day in the big city. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Zsuzsanna Kilian for the pic.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hitting the Ice

A has indicated that she wants to have girl's day out again with mom, so that means that N and I have to go out in search of guy things to do. Not too hard when you live in real-man territory like Vermont. It did throw off my plans to split and stack wood, however.

I figured with it being October, we could hit the ice and get our skating legs back in shape. Union Arena is open again for the season, so we jumped at the opportunity. We planned on having pizza and hot chocolate at the rink, as well.

When we got there, there were several kids skating but they were all beginners. They were about N's age, though older, and I have to confess, N skated circles around them, not that these things are important. All of the kids were using crates and N just skated like a pro, he's so good on the ice.

We had lunch and then headed over to the craft fair in Woodstock, which was a little depressing now that I'm well versed in what it's like to be on the other side of the table. All those vendors trying to make a buck selling their wares which they worked so hard on. Almost made me want to buy something just to support them... almost.

Afterward, N and I came home and split and stacked the wood until it got dark, just to complete our real-manly day. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lotus Head for the pic.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Penultimate Market

Last week the we had our second to last market and the clock is ticking down to the last one. I can't believe we've made it this far, and I have to confess, I am completely unmotivated and not very keen on the idea of making dumplings. I have the ingredients, and even went out to Pomfret to get the beef, 10 pounds of it. R reminded me that we only had one market left and didn't need that much beef, but we can freeze it and now we have killer meat for the Winter.

Whatever be the case, the market was nice. It was slated to be very slow, and only a fraction of the vendors were there. We did it differently this time and actually cooked on site, which we think makes for a better product. We sold out quickly because we really hadn't brought too many dumplings, so it was bound to happen, but again, it was an enjoyable time. We saw many friends, and it felt good to be back. Low stress.

Also, the weather was beautiful, not too hot or cold, and the band was one of my favorites, Second Wind I think they're called. Just a duo, a man on guitar and woman singing, but they do a fabulous job.

Now we have to bear down and make dumplings for this Friday. I'm having a really hard time finding the inspiration, but hopefully it'll come soon. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mohammed Odeh for the pic.

Survived Evaluations

I admit that I had a bit of anxiety about our academic evaluations, but that's the nature of growing up in a family that stressed academic success over good health and happiness. Indeed, the three were considered one in the same, though academic success was only valid when it meant being a doctor.

Whatever be the case, we survived, and it's done. One last thing to worry about, though there are plenty more waiting in the pipes.

We had to switch evaluators and actually go with DE, whom I had no idea was doing evaluations. He lives in town, which made it convenient, though I wasn't sure what to expect. Our previous evaluator was straightforward and no nonsense, but was not available at this time.

My only concern was that thing would not go smoothly and we would not pass, but in retrospect, these worries were a bit ridiculous, because an evaluator is not out to get you, they are only trying to gather information to provide to the state. And DE is a great guy, not to mention serious and dependable at whatever he does, as reflected by his wonderful kids.

DE's children are friends with our A&N, as well, and as I mentioned, they are super kids. They hosted us while DE did his job, and they are so well-adjusted, polite, and mature. Really nice.

Everything went smoothly, we got it done, and I think we passed. I'm not sure what the evaluations will say, but I'm glad it's done. As usual, I overreacted, but that's just my MO.

One last note, it was a crazy day, because earlier JH came over and we replaced the track lighting in the kitchen, which took longer than I expected/hoped. By the time we were finished, I was ready to buy JH lunch but we had no time. I had to gather up our school stuff and usher the kids out the door. Never a dull moment around here. After the evaluation, we had loads of cooking to do, though we made one of the best apple cakes I'd ever tasted, recipe compliments of SG from the library.

Now I can focus on writing up those curricula for the next school year. Does it ever end? Of course not.

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Getting Ready for Ski Season

Even though I have a penchant for putting things off and regretting it, there is one thing I'm pretty good at staying on top of, and that's getting ready for ski season. Here were are, at least a month before any snow is going to fall (at least that's what I think), and I've gotten all of us set up for ski season. I can't wait. We are especially pumped after our vacation where we hung out by a ski hill.

Their coats, pants, and helmets all fit, but the kids both need upgrades for their equipment, so we went over to Henderson's to swap skis for A and get their gear tuned up. N can use A's former skis. It's been a dry Summer, so I'm not sure what that portends for the Winter, but we're always hopeful.

I had to go up to the attic to get a lot of the stuff, and it's always a bit of an adventure going up there. I'm never really sure what is awaiting me up there, but at least it's not an oven like it is during the summer. Speaking of which, I still need to go up there and add another layer of insulation, but one thing at a time.

Until the next time, or snow, thanks for reading, and thanks to efimova for the pic.

Hendersons with skis

More ECs?

We have a pretty full plate right now, but are toying with even more ECs because we've done them in the past and they are favorites of A&N.

First off, I got an email from LR that they are doing the Christmas chorus again. There is a time conflict with A's robotics class, which she loves, but it would only be for a couple of classes, and she really wants to do the chorus. Then again, they're really not even sure how it's going to unfold.

Second is pottery. N loves working with clay, and though the class is a bit unstructured, he had a lot of fun. Plus, their buddies are in it, and would love to have them join.

R and I are on the fence. Do we really need more to do? Then again, they really enjoy them, and they get to see their friends. I am leaning to a yes, but we'll see. The situation is complicated by the fact that A is now taking karate, which pleases me to no end. Next we have to get N to join, but no pressure.

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

chorus and pottery

Baking Madness

One day after getting back from vacation and we're back into the frenzy of domestic life. We had to make something for J&NH, our neighbors, for helping us out with the tree, so we decided to make them our famous "rum-less" rum cake. We've made it in the past with and without rum, and personally I can do without the rum.

Since we had the oven going, we also made mom's raisin bread, some hearty country bread, and finally, a tray of pan cookies that we got from King Arthur Flour that is the best recipe I've ever made, it's more cake-like but works better for pan cookies. Best of all, you don't have to shape each individual piece, you just pour the whole thing in. I like that.

We were in a bit of a frenzy because we had to be somewhere in the afternoon, so we baked all morning and then ran off to do our chores, but not before delivering JH his cake, hot and fresh out of the oven.

Sounds frenzied but it sure feels good to be back home.

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