Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Camp

We are getting back into the groove of our lives in VT and just like that, we are shipping the kids off to clown camp, though this one is more manageable. It’s actually a great camp, they did it last year, where a lot of kids they know attend and they have a blast learning and performing. It’s only a half day, as well, so not only is it close, but it’s not as crazy.

I think we went a bit overboard with camp this Summer, but A&N had so much fun, and they are able to hang with their buddies and pursue/develop some interests, making it all worthwhile. I hate the idea of becoming the parent who over-schedules their child, but the process of discovering what interests them is exactly that, a process, and like any process, there is always an initial period of chaos before you find a direction that speaks to you. While this may be difficult to believe, it’s not just about farming the kids out to get them out of your hair. Anyone who knows us would know that this is true.

Either way, I think August will be a more sane month, but that could be just wishful thinking. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ben Smith for the pic.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Maybe I’m overreacting, it wouldn’t be the first time, but the kids showed flashes of honesty that just melted my heart, and made me once again feel unworthy.

First off, N was hanging with JD and my Mentor, and they got him some ice cream after the pickup. Now nobody would have known this if he had kept quiet, he could have pulled off the perfect crime, but he was honest. After JD and my Mentor dropped N off at HH’s, they ate supper, and then went to the farm stand to get ice cream. N said no thank you, because he had ice cream earlier. Can you believe that? How cool is that? I’m so proud of that kid. Later that night, before brushing his teeth, I snuck some chocolate ice cream to him, just to remind him what a cool kid I think he is, not that he needs reminding.

The week earlier, when the kids joined us at the market, A went to the Hogwash stand and got a burger and sausage sandwich. They gave her too much change, $7 instead of $5, so they went back and returned the money. The farmer, N, was so happy and appreciative of the kid’s honesty that she gave them both t-shirts from the farm.

They were excited, they’re cool shirts, and it just goes to show you that it pays to be honest. At the very least, you can be proud that you did the right thing.

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reflections on Hockey

Now that we’ve wrapped up hockey camp for N, and I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed watching the kids play, especially N (naturally). It just looks like a lot of fun, and as I mentioned, it’s nice and cool in that arena. We really got to beat the heat that week.

N had a great time, and the coaches were really nice and supportive. I think N has a lot of athletic ability to make this work out, and he is a good listener and learner, and really tries his best. There are times when I watch him and he seems a little distracted and dreamy, but the places where I think he could use a little work are all areas where coaching and experience will come into play. I think the natural athletic abilities are there, they just need to be trained and molded. As long as he’s having fun and enjoying it, but also meets the challenge. There's a character lesson in there.

I met one of the dads whose son will be on N’s team, and he’s a good player. He’s been playing for a year or two, so he’s got a leg up. With all the skating and hockey that we've been doing, N's been able to catch-up a little. It’s nice now to have a break, but I will personally miss the ice time, especially when I get to play with him. For now, we get a break until the Fall, and then hockey will kick into full gear.

Some things we have to keep an eye on for N that are not critical but things he wants are a new helmet (he wants a black one) and a new hockey bag. There are equipment sales that the different hockey programs hold, so we’ll keep an eye out for those. Otherwise, we get to relax for a couple of months.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Adam Klepsteen for the pic.

Welcome Back, Mr. C

Since the meeting we went to was for R, the hotel was reserved in her name, so the placard that got us in (AZ is big on exclusivity and gated communities) was labeled with her last name (sort of) C. So, every time we pulled into the compound, since it was me driving, they'd say, "Welcome back Mr. C" They were probably thinking I was the strangest looking Mr. C they'd ever seen.

Either way, it was an interesting trip, and there is much to tell, though I couldn't blog at the time because I was under the gun, but I'll leave it at that.

First off, I just want to say that given the choice, I would not fly Southwest Airlines. Sure, they offer many convenient flights out west, but a couple of things really made it inconvenient. First off, they don't give you any food or entertainment. I realize this is a cost cutting measure, but other airlines at least give you a movie. A 5 hour flight is tough with kids when there's nothing for them to do. Also, the fact that they don't give you seat assignments is a complete joke. As a family, you run the risk of not getting to sit together. Granted, they have a family seating policy, but it applies to families with children under 4. So if you're child is 5, tough luck. In all fairness, most of the ticketing agents let us slide and board as a family, but one guy took it too seriously and wouldn't let us in at first. He kept saying it wasn't his rule, but the decision was up to him. A good example of a person letting power go to his head.

Either way, I won't be going out of my way to fly Southwest. Also, we got really bad vibes from Dollar Rent a Car, and again, we won't be using them, either.

We did, however, have a really nice time at our hotel. It's actually a resort called the Boulders, I can honestly say that it's the sort of place we would never in a million years stay at. We're not resort-like people, and the idea of being pampered completely repulses me. I can open my own door, thank you. I think the idea of staying at a resort feeds into people's insecurities of wanting to appear affluent and privileged. Unfortunately, when you leave the resort and go home, real life kicks back into gear.

Since it was July and nobody in their right mind would vacation in AZ, the rates were low, and we got to experience resort life to its fullest. The kids got a kick out of it, but again, I had my issues. First off, you don't have to walk anywhere, even if it's 10 feet away. They have a massive fleet of golf carts that will come to your door and take you anywhere on the compound. Like America doesn't need a little more exercise?

We walked everywhere, even though the kids longed to ride in the golf carts. We did ride them a few times, but I really felt embarrassed to be carted to our car. I guess it makes some people feel special. Speaking of special, the resort definitely works toward making you feel that way. You can sit by the pool and not move a muscle as they bring you drinks, food, and even a towel and sunscreen. It's a bit shameful, if not embarrassing. I'm guessing it makes people feel like royalty, but I thought it showed a lack of respect for other people. I realize people pay for this privilege, but isn't there a better way to get your kicks.

We ended up spending our days either in our air-conditioned rooms or in the pool, which was fine for a vacation, but how do people live there on a day to day basis. It was at least 105 degrees every day, even when the clouds rolled in. The food was good, and it was nice to have some Mexican food. Two places that really scored home runs for me were Rubio's fish tacos and In N Out Burger, my two favorite foods from LA. That alone made the trip worth it.

We ended up exploring AZ to some degree, and we went to some fun places, but I'll have to elaborate more on that later. For now, there are dumplings that need to made for next week. Until then, thanks for reading

Friday, July 29, 2011

Goodbye, AZ

Today is our last day in AZ, and I have to confess, as much as I'm disparaging of this state, we had fun. The kids had a blast, and the fact that they love it here so much bums me out a bit, but it's easy to love a place when all you do is swim, eat ice cream, and go to amusement parks. Daily life is when the truth comes out.

Either way, we are flying back to Vermont, and all I can say to that is hallelujah! Get me out of this heat. There's something not quite right about spending 360 days of the year in air conditioning. What sort of life is that? I realize there are reasons people love it here, just as there are reasons people hate living in Vermont. Different strokes for different folks, right?

It's been an interesting trip, with lots to tell, but more on that later. Just wanted to mention that it started out horribly, and ended well. I love when that happens. For now, thanks for reading, and thanks to gulekk for the pic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Under Pressure

So sorry for my absence, but I'm working under the pressure of a deadline here, so I can't blog. Just wanted to mention that as much as I've disparaged traveling to AZ, we're having a great time, though it's still amazingly hot and I scratch my head as to how people live here. Oh well, live and let live.

More on AZ and my s0-called life later. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blazing Arizona

Our trip to AZ has thus far been a challenge from the get-go, and yet another reason why I scratch my head and wonder how people live out here. This is a pic of the official state tree.

Before I get too far, bear in mind, I'm a first class whiner.

First off, we flew out of Manchester airport, which is smaller and more manageable than Logan, but I think for as big as it is, Logan is a very smooth operation. And you can't beat taking the Dartmouth Shuttle which drops you off right at the terminal. We had to do long term parking, which is expensive, and then you have to take the shuttle to the terminal, which adds another leg to your trip.

The second observation I want to make is that I will not be going out of my way to fly Southwest Airlines in the future. It's a bargain airline, no doubt, and the people are friendly and courteous, but you really get what you pay for. I flew Southwest in California when I was young, resilient and single, and it was perfect for a quick jaunt to SF from LA. Quick, affordable, and convenient. They dispense with small comforts and just get the job done.

Now that I'm older and more fragile, not to mention a father, the absence of those small comforts really had a negative impact. It was a brutal flight, 5 hours with no break for meals or even a movie. Plus, they do this lame seating assignment where people stand in line by number and once you're on the plane, it's a free for all. Does it really save them that much money to do this? I doubt it.

Plus, they don't have meal service, which I understand saves them $$, but when you have kids and are flying across the country, you need that break in the monotony, not to mention some food. We were starving. Five hours sure dragged on, coupled by the fact that we were totally un-prepared for this trip. Usually one thing that is at the forefront of my mind is how to entertain the kids on a long flight. This time we were too busy and somewhat complacent, and I forgot everything. Plus, we ran out of food. What a bummer.

The drama continued once we landed with the rental car. AZ has some of the highest taxes and fees in the country, and our bill literally doubled. R went nuts, and we were on the verge of just taking the bus. It really put a serious dark cloud on our trip. Add in the fact that it was 110 degrees outside, and we were not starting out so well. The crazy thing is, the guy at the rental counter was saying that it pretty much stays between 110-115 degrees from May until September. The coolest it gets is the mid-70s in February, and he seemed proud of this fact. I was shocked, and wanted to ask him how he lived here. What good are high temps if you just spend the entire time in the air conditioning. I asked how the baseball team survives, and he informed me that they play in a dome. Talk about wasteful, cooling a baseball stadium so they can play. Maybe they just shouldn't play professional sports in such a hot place. They had a hockey team here, a fact that completely baffles me, not just because of the heat, but nobody here likes hockey anyway. In an act of common sense, the team is re-locating to Winnipeg. Go Canada!

Oh well, I don't want to put too much of a damper on our trip, the desert is a cool place, and our hotel is really nice. The kids are loving it, though every time the mention how much they love it here, it baffles me a little.

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

The Lazy Days of Summer and the Fresh Air Fund

Whatever happened to the lazy days of Summer? I sure as heck haven't had one in years, but that's what happens when you become a SAHD, you forsake your time so that the kids can have theirs. It's a small price to pay when you really get down to it.

The kids have been having a great Summer thus far, but it has been a marathon for mom and dad. Non-stop deadlines and activities, I've never really experienced anything like it, but man are they having fun. Not only having great life experiences, but making new friends and exploring different areas of interest so that will hopefully speak to them. It's amazingly wonderful to see, and as much as it's been crazy for us, the parents, it's just great to see your kids find something that stokes their passion. I love it, and would work twice as hard if it meant that the kids had a fun and meaningful time. Sure, I'd whine and moan about it, but what else is new?

Speaking of Summer, I remember living in New York City and how a lot of kids who grow up there never really get a chance to be in a natural setting other than Central Park. Believe it or not, there are kids up here in VT/NH who have never even been on a farm or spent any time in the woods, a fact that astounds me. Whatever be the case, there are people who are trying to change this and give them a chance to experience what it really means to be outdoors.

One organization whose work really made a difference in the lives of these kids is the Fresh Air Fund. They had a prominent presence in New York when I lived there, and are active throughout the Northeast and New England. We have friends who host a child every year, and they love it. In fact, the Fresh Air Fund is always looking for families who are willing to help out and take in a child over the Summer. Their work literally changes lives, and I would encourage anyone who has the time and wherewithal to at least check out this site: Fresh Air Fund Hosts.

When you really get down to it, these kids never really get to experience what is a part of our daily lives, and the positive impact that it has on their lives cannot be overstated, not to mention how gratifying it can be for host families. In fact, many kids are asked back by their host families year after year.

Just remember, it's never too much work to make a difference in a child's life.

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Juggling Pickup Times and Thanks to JD (and My Mentor)

Before I get too into this, I want to whine and point out that the problems we are dealing with here all stem from this dumb market. Okay, I’ve said what I need to say.

We prepped for the market with so much going on, and the hot weather didn’t improve my disposition, which was lingering on the foul end. Not only does the heat bring me down, way down, but I wasn’t going to be able to watch N at his hockey camp, and I had to arrange rides and caretaking for both A and N. Since they were in different camps, that meant finding two separate people to do the pickup. Talk about complicated.

To make matters worse, N was all the way in Woodstock, which was asking a lot for someone to head out there. A was easy, her camp is close, and HH’s kids were there, so they could all head home together. What to do about N?

Finally, I asked our good friend JD to do us a huge favor. She happens to be the better half of my Mentor and is down here for the Summer, and the kids lover her and she gets long so well with them. The big question, however, was whether she could pull it off. She has to work, and she might have had to work that night. If so, my Mentor said he could go get N, but JD knows the drill, her son played hockey, and there was an outside chance that my Mentor would have to fly on Wed.

Anyway, JD found out she was off, and she said she could help. The plan was for HH to pick up A and take her back to her place, and then JD would go and get N and take him over to HH’s, where they would eat supper. Now I always do this and in retrospect, it’s probably going overboard, but I offer to make them supper to make it easier on them. She never refuses, but I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go that length. It’s my fault, I feel compelled to offer, and I do appreciate her help. Also, I figure I’m feeding our kids, as well.

I ended up making a huge amount of food, and it pretty much took the entire morning to make it. Afterward, I had to set up for the market, drop N off at hockey camp, and then leave, which was a total bummer. It was good practice for me to be less overbearing and to lighten up and let him do things on his own. Yikes, is that really how far we’ve come? The coaches could help him to get in and out of his gear, as could JD, who is a pro.

In the end, it worked out fine, and N didn’t need me there at all. Boo-hoo. Our little boy is growing up, and is a hockey player to boot.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lioness65 for the pic.

Hockey Sunday and Low Turnout at UF

We had hockey Sunday last week and it was a low turnout at the skills camp. I think most of these kids have been there, done that, but I think it’s really cool having the camp, and N loves it. I also thoroughly enjoy just sitting there and watching, though I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m the only parent who sits there and watches. What a rookie I am.

Either way, because the turnout was low, competition was not as fierce, so N was better able to hang with the group, dare I say in a fairly competitive manner. As much as I realize that a player or competitor benefits from competing with a superior player, it’s nice to get a little confidence boost now and then, especially when you’re behind the pack in terms of experience.

After hockey, we bolted over the field for some ultimate frisbee, but not too many people showed up. In fact, it was only JM, TL, B and CH. CH was a pleasant surprise, he’s never been there before, and he even said it’s his first time playing. Not sure what to do, JM took command and we played on half a field with the kids. It was actually a lot of fun, more manageable for my tired old body and because the pros weren’t there (except for JM and TL, of course), the kids got to play a lot. In fact, they were involved in pretty much every play.

I’m guessing the heat drove people away, though by that time, it’s a lot cooler and much more manageable. Even still, to have nobody how up was a little strange.

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

The Big Sleepover

We had the kid’s buddies over for a sleepover last weekend, and it really struck us how they end up sleeping in so many different places with all these camps and convoluted living arrangements. A&I spent last Saturday and A&N were thrilled. HH had to be at a special event and her kids are awesome, so we were more than happy to have them over. It was supposed to be a hot weekend, too, so swimming was in the picture.

One complication was that N and I were slated to do the parent/child open stick before they arrived, so R was going to be solo with the girls, but it all worked out fine because they ended up just going to the pond and spending the day there. R was a little concerned about being out in the hot sun for hours, but there are some nice shady spots under the trees and shrubs. In fact, even in the heat, it’s a really nice spot to go to, and the kids can spend hours in the water.

N and I went to the open stick and it was pretty empty there, which normally would bum me out, but in this instance, it worked out well because we had large swaths of the ice to ourselves. We had fun, and then we jetted home and met the girls over at the pond. It was quite the party over there, with lots of kids and parents, most of whom we knew. The kids had a blast just floating on the water and catching fish and bugs. R packed lots of cold drinks, and we had a super nice afternoon.

At some point we were going to have to eat, so I went home before everyone else and cooked up the big feast. R picked a bunch of snaps peas from the garden, and the kids ate seconds and even thirds of the main course, which I took to mean that they liked the food. I know what A&N like, I was more concerned about our guests.

The kids wanted ice cream for desert, so they drove over to the farm stand and I rode my bike. They say the farm stand never closes, and the ice cream is on the honor system, but on this day it was locked, and it wasn’t even that late. Apparently someone stole money from the box, and now they lock it more frequently. Bummer. We drove over to BG’s instead, and yours truly followed on my bike. I worked hard for my ice cream.

Afterward, we went home and the kids watched Shrek up in their bedroom, and then it was off to bed. It was late, and they were tired after a long day of swimming and various activities. A was nice enough to give up her bed to A, who had been camping all week and hadn’t slept in a real bed for days.

The next morning, I woke up early and whipped together about 3 dozen pancakes (they were small) along with strawberries and pineapple. We skipped the traditional bacon since there were vegetarians amongst us. Soon after breakfast, I went to work on the barn and R took the kids to the pond. Later I joined them on my bike, and again, it as a hot but pleasant by the water. We swam for a bit and then, if you can believe it, the time came for yet another meal. Growing kids, they need to eat.

We served lunch, and soon HH showed up and took the kids home. It was a long day, but the kids had fun, and I still got to go and watch N at hockey skills camp. With the weekend over, we had a busy week of camp and market to look forward to. I can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Patrizia Schiozzi for the pic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting a Video Recorder

We want to get a video recorder, a DVR as they call it. A and N have show an interest and proficiency at making movies, and it’s fun for them to create, not to mention fun for us to watch. Now begins the tortuous process of choosing one. Fortunately, they aren’t too expensive, but man are there a lot of them. Time to do some research which, as many of our friends know, is not a simple process. That’s putting it lightly.

The other complication is that they kids will probably need a better computer, because movies take up a lot of memory. We’ll keep our eyes, peeled.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to tom s for the pic.

Crazy Monday

Our big week of conflicting camps started, and as usual, it was a little nutty. The problem is that I have to be in two places within a short amount of time, so I end up driving all over the place. It’s a bummer.

A’s camp starts at 9:00, and N’s at 1:00. They finish at different times, as well, and they are far apart. So R takes A to her camp and me and N hang out until about lunchtime. We were in search of a raincoat for A, so we headed over to W. Leb and struck out big time. I also got N’s skates sharpened, and ordered dumpling wrappers for the end of the week.

Around noon, we headed out to hockey camp, and when we got there, they were in the midst of what they call dryland, or basically running drills outside. The kids are in camp from 9-4:30, which I know is usual, but what a long day. They must be whipped by the end. We opted to do just the half day from 1-4:30, but it turns out that we are the only ones. Oh well, what are you going to do? I can’t imagine bouncing N out of bed by 7:30 to get there by 8:30. At some point you gotta give these kids a break.

Anyway, N jumped in and played around, and it was clear that these kids were not only older, but experienced. Some of them seemed like they were in their teens. Once playtime was over, they geared up and headed for the ice. I’ll tell you one thing, it sure is interesting in that locker room with 20 young boys. The atmosphere was chaotic, and there was a lot of screaming and yelling. N just sat there and took it all in. I helped him gear up, but I think it’s good for him to be a little independent, so we might work on that next time. There is a coach there to help him out, so I’ll wait outside if he needs me.

Once they were on the ice, the fun began. Again, these kids are older and more experienced, something the coach alluded to, but N held his own. He looked good out there, and on the drills where he had to race to the puck, he was quick. Also, he showed more tenacity and focus when going after the puck. I love watching him play.

At some point I had to go pick up A, so I reluctantly left the ice and headed back to the other camp and got her. We piled back into the car and then headed back to the ice, where we got to watch a little bit of the hockey scrimmage. Again, N looked good, he’s getting more comfortable out there on the ice, and he’s showing more drive and motivation. His strength will work in his favor down the line.

After the scrimmage, we hit the locker room, loaded up the car and headed home. What a crazy day, and it was only the beginning of the week.

I can’t wait for more. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to michaelaw for the pic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Up and Away and Many Thanks to My Mentor

I can’t tell you how grateful we are to my Mentor for, besides being such a great guy, taking the kids up in his balloon. It was the thrill of a lifetime. The subject had come up in the past, but there was the issue of age. Generally he likes for kids to be of a certain age before they fly, but it really boils down more to a question of maturity and trust, or rather who he feels comfortable flying with. He knows A&N well, and felt they were ready.

The kids were thrilled to pieces, and when I mentioned it to them, they couldn’t wait, not that I could blame them. We got word on Wednesday from my Mentor that there was a chance they could fly, so be prepared. Come Friday morning, my Mentor informed us to be on the green by 6:30, and it was all set.

It was a beatiful evening, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions. We spent a quiet day at home, a rarity, and then around 5:00 we headed over the the farmer’s market to get some supper. I bought a quiche from CS, and it was delicious. We also got a loaf of WM’s killer oatmeal bread for my Mentor, and we were off.

We got to the green a little early and tossed the frisbee around, and before long, several other passengers showed up for assorted balloon rides. It turns out that two other balloons were flying, but when it comes to safety and enjoyment, there is only one: Balloons Over New England. GL has a perfect safety record, and when you learn about some of the crazy stuff that happens, this means everything.

We got to help set up, but my Mentor has an entire crew, so I was essentially redundant and tried to stay out of the way. The plan was for R to join the kids to help assuage our neurosis, even though I trust my Mentor in every way in terms of the safety or our kids. The takeoff was smooth, and pretty soon they were airborne. At first there wasn’t much in the way of wind, so they hovered a bit, but eventually the took off and headed down the Gorge. I followed behind the chase car and took pics.

They ended up over near Clay Hill Corner, and we all ran out to help her land. It was such a beautiful flight, and the evening couldn’t have been nicer. We even landed near our friend’s yard, and they came out to greet us and give us peas from their garden. We packed up the balloon, with JD working hard as usual, and headed home. We got to ride in the back in the balloon carriage all the way back to the green, where we had champagne (sparkling grape for the kids) and all sorts of treats.

My Mentor made a joke that he’d been baking all morning and made treats for the flight, and on the way home, N was telling me how good they were and that my Mentor had actually baked them. Cute.

We got home late, as expected, and then we hit the sack in preparation for a busy weekend. It was a really nice evening, and again, much thanks to my Mentor and his better half JD for making it happen.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks again to my Mentor.

You Go Girl

This is too cute for words, but A is a big fan of a certain toy and it’s not your typical girly toy. I won’t get too into the details at this time, but it dawned on her that the product line is really geared to boys, though they have some female characters. She decided to let her opinions be known, so she wrote them a letter commenting on the lack of female representation. She even offered to design a female version for them.

How cool is that? The letter was so well written, and now she’s ready to change the world. Indeed, they say revolution often stems from the actions of the few. Or was it that change never happens when women are behave properly?

Either way, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kriss Szkurlatowski for the pic.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Frying on Friday

We’ve been lucky with the good weather lately. For the past few days, no rain, not too much heat, and simply stellar weather. The beauty of this is that I get to spend all these days inside making dumplings. How cool is that? We set about doing the dumplings this year thinking it would be more manageable, but it’s still a bummer, and the time it takes away from doing other things at times drives me to despair, but enough of my whining.

We had a busy weekend planned, with the kid’s friends sleeping over and hockey and UF. Oh yeah, did I mention that my Mentor took the kids up in his balloon, as well? More on that later.

Because of the slew of activities that we had in store, we couldn’t really make dumplings during the weekend. How weird would that be for our friends, to sit there and watch us make dumplings? So I took it upon myself to suffer a little (a lot?) and make the dumplings on Friday and Saturday morning, and then free us up for the weekend. It wasn’t easy, but these are the things you do for your family.

It was interesting because we usually spread it out over the course of the week, so it’s hard to get a real sense of how much time it all takes, but doing it all at once makes this clearer. On Friday, I was making fillings and dumplings and then cooking them for about 8 hours, no joke. I had to take breaks to make meals and wash up, but I was working pretty much straight through the day. On Saturday, R and I worked for about 6 hours, so it works out to about 14 hours of labor. You realize you can’t really take a break after the market, because the next market is right around the corner. What a drag.

Anyway, we got it done, and were finished and ready to be servants to the kids for the weekend, and what a weekend it was. We had a lot of fun, and there was so much going on, but that’s for another time.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to alex ringer for the pic.

Quieter Day and Movie Night

We’ve had a bit of return to quieter, more sane days, though that won’t last long. We’ll enjoy it while it lasts. After a few crazy and hectic weeks, we finally had some time to just sit at home and chill, though the kids get a little stir crazy. To their credit, they find things to do without TV or video games, and I get to get some things done around the house.

We did have some plans for the evening, but that’s okay as long as it doesn’t entail a bunch of running around during the day. A is doing the Summer reading program at the Howe and she fufilled her requirement. Part of the reward is a choice of gifts from a basket, and she scored some movie passes for the Nugget. Pretty cool. It just so happens that Cars 2 in 3D is playing there, so the timing was just right.

We met up with mom after work at the Howe, and then went to Boloco for supper. Killer burritos, we haven’t been there in a awhile. They also had a new smoothie called the Islander that the kids loved. We stopped for gelato at Morano and then to the movies.

Now we implemented a previous plan to go to the cinema, and it entails sending the kids to a movie and then R and I go to the adjacent theater to watch a different, more adult movie. We’ve done it in the past, and the kids love being on their own, but we always feel a little guilty. The kids, after all, are right next door, and we meet in the lobby. Whatever be the case, we always see our friends or neighbors and then feel like bad parents. This time was no different.

R and I went into the new Woody Allen movie and sure enough, our friends were there and asked about the kids. Oh well, you have to face up to your actions. The kids actually finished a little before us and we met them in the lobby. We told them not to leave the theater, and to come into our theater to meet us, but they opted to wait in the lobby. They did a great job.

It was a late night, and by the time they went to bed, it was after 10:00, long after everyone’s bedtime, but we had fun. I think at some point our crazy lives will calm down, but I don’t know when.

Until that time, thanks for reading, and thanks to S Braswell for the pic.

Seventh Market and Socked Again by the Weather

We were slated to finally have good weather for a big city market, and then the day before, the forecast shifted and thunder showers were predicted. It’s almost as if the weather is mocking us. I don’t mind cloudy, and even a threat of rain, it’s the heat the kills me.

With that in mind, the weather was not that bad. In fact, with the cloud cover, it was cool and nice, and I’m not going to complain. For most, if not all, of the market, we had nice weather, and the crowds came accordingly. It wasn’t until near the end that the big storm clouds moved in, and then the rains poured down on us. We got soaked.

Up to that point, however, business was good. We sold out of every dumpling we had, and we could have sold more. In a funny way, it was good we sold out when we did, because we started to break down early, and by the time the rains came, we were pretty much packed up and ready to go. If we’d had more dumplings, we would have sold until the end, and then got caught in the rain. We got soaked anyway because we stuck around and helped out our neighbors, but the kids were safe and dry in the car, and at that point, you don’t mind getting soaked because all your stuff is packed away.

It was also the market that marked the return of A&N, who were missed by the vendors. People always ask us where the kids are, as do the customers. They are popular there, and rightfully so. They do a good job. In fact, they went over to Hogwash Farms to get some supper and she gave them too much change. A went back to give her the difference, and she was so impressed by her honesty that she gave them both t-shirts. They’re cool shirts, as well.

We’ve also been doing a pretty good job of bartering our dumplings for cupcakes with the Cupcake Queen. They do an amazing business, so it’s not a stretch for them to do a swap. For people operating on the margin, money talks, but when business is good, people seem to be more willing to barter.

Finally, A’s friend from camp showed up. He’s a really nice and interesting kid, so they got to play and it was a nice day up until the great flood arrived. Oh well, you have to make the most of what you’re given.

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

Feeling the Heat

This past Tuesday HH came over and we worked on the barn, but man was it hot. Too hot for my bones, it's like the Mojave desert out there and it makes me crabby. I sort of invited ourselves, or at least the kids, to her house because not only is she alone with her daughter (her other daughter is away at camp), but she has a pool. The only reason I brought it up was because I figured it is easier to have friends over with just one child than having to entertain all by yourself. Plus, with the excessive heat, a pool is just the right thing. Sure, it was self-serving on my part, but again, I only broached the subject because I thought it would be mutually beneficial. I am not defensive!

She was all for it, and I made some pasta and salad for their lunch. The kids were thrilled not only because they couldn’t wait to swim, but they didn’t have to hang with their boring and crabby dad. This left me free to run errands that needed to be done before market, including cleaning and packing up the dumpling stuff. This included a trip to CVS, Joe’s to get the lawnmower blade, then to the store to get fruit and veggies for the household.

By the time I got back, I had time to whip up something for supper. Then it was off to the library for our trustee meeting, which for the record went well because I did was I assigned to do. When it came up, I had something to show them, and they didn’t spank me. What a relief.

The meeting even ended early, and when I went to pick up the kids, they weren’t there. I figured they were at the pond, and on the way home, I passed HH and met up at her place. The kids were hounding me to have H&IH over for supper, which I am all for because we really like them, but man was I tired. I just wanted to have a quiet supper and then veg with a Netflix, but now we were going to entertain. It’s hard because we like having friends over for dinner, we just don’t have the energy.

Not that that was an issue. I said it would be fine, then jetted home to whip up some more food for our guests. R was there when I got there, we pulled in at the same time, and we set about getting ready. H&IH arrived with the kids, and we had a nice supper, though I was exhausted. Then again, what else is new?

In many ways, we have become our own worst nightmare. We always rail on families that do too much and over-schedule their days, but here we are, doing just that. Summer is hell, way too many things going on. I long for Winter where all I have to worry about is shoveling snow and cleaning the stove.

Now we have the market to look forward to. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Thomas van den Berg for the pic.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More From the So-Called Experts

Boy, sometimes I feel like a bit of a fool when I hear the latest health news, especially in light of the fact that I embrace whatever they say despite the fact that they are usually wrong, never agree with each other, and constantly do an about face and change their recommendations. Even then, I listen to them. What’s up with that?

We are sticklers over here for clean hands, and hand sanitize (HS) before meals. This makes sense, though we’ve always advocated washing hands if possible, and we never buy anti-bacterial soap. We just use the regular stuff. If you’re a parent, you can’t ignore the prevalence of allergies these days, and though there are many explanations, the one that seems to get a lot of press is the hygiene hypothesis. Tied to this is the excessive use of HS.

Now they are finding that one of the ingredients in HS is actually found in high levels in people with severe allergies. Great. Once again, technology is part of the problem. This inspired me to shift gears and find an alternative to HS. The answer: rubbing alcohol. I figure a quick spritz of alcohol will do the job, at least until the find that it is toxic, as well. The active ingredient in HS is ethanol or isopropanol anyway, so it’s close, without the nasty stuff.

Here we go again. We’ll see how this one goes. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Keith Syvinski for the pic.

Just Be a Man

I have been having shoulder problems, and at some point it was a struggle just lifting my arm above my shoulder. What a bummer. I figured it was due to ultimate frisbee, because that’s pretty much the only activity that I take part in that requires that sort of motion. With this in mind, I decided I was done for now.

The problem is, when I take the kids to play, as I sit there and watch, not only does everyone expect me to play because I’ve played the past several weeks, but I feel kind of silly just sitting there, and the truth is, I want to play. So, after sitting out a few games, I decided the heck with it, I’m in. Besides, my shoulder wasn’t hurting so bad at that point, so my excuse wasn’t holding much water, not that anyone challenged me. There are enough older guys players to understand that injuries are a part of aging.

Of course, it was fun, and the kids had a blast. In fact, A caught her first touchdown, and then caught another. She was so thrilled. N also impressed the others with his tossing ability, which for the record was impressive. I just wanted to mention how good some of these guys are. The young players are amazing, but the older guys who play are incredibly good, as well. It all makes me a feel a little inadequate, but what else is new?

After the game, we had some supper and then off to bed. The kids had yet another busy weekend, and we just can’t seem to just sit around and relax. We’ll have to work on that one. R and I realize that you have to kick and scream to have family time, but it’s something worth fighting for, even if it offends and pisses off your friends and neighbors. I’m good at that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

and thanks to Andrzej PobiedziƄski for the pic.

Having Fun with Hockey

This past weekend we got two days of parent/child hockey in, and it was a blast. N really enjoys it, and I have to confess, I like it a lot, as well. It’s so much fun skating around and trying to handle the puck. It brings a whole new dimension to ice skating.

On Saturday, the crowd was small, just three sets of people, I believe, so we had lots of open ice. There was one dad there who was practicing with his daughter, who was good, though he was like a pro. I met another dad who had come from Killington. I learned that there’s a rink in Rutland, so I’m guessing they go there.

Sunday the skate was earlier than usual. They’ve held the skate right before N’s skill’s camp, so we just sat and watched the Zamboni and the he jumped back in. This time the skate was much earlier, so we had to go home and eat, then drive back to the arena, which isn’t so bad. Hey, you do whatever it takes to play hockey, right? What was cool was that there was a kid practicing his goalie skills, so he welcomed people taking shots on him. The dad was a pro, not to mention a coach, so it made for a good time. N got to practice skating in on a goalie and shooting, which he loved. Nothing like practice in real time. As an added bonus, the public skate was right after the open stick, so we got to skate a little more, but I didn’t want him to get too tired, so we cut it short.

The skills camp had a completely new crowd. It’s interesting how the players cycle through. The previous week, I’d say N was in the bottom 1/3 in terms of experience and skating ability, but this week, I would have put him in the top 1/3. Maybe he’s just elevating his abilities, but he looked good out there. Also, he’d been skating all weekend.

Of course, after hockey, we jumped in the car and headed over to the field to play ultimate frisbee. I vowed not to play because of my injured shoulder, but at some point, I’m incapable of just sitting there and watching, so I jumped in, but that’s a story for another time.

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fun Never Stops on a Hot Monday

The heat was brutal on Monday, and I spent the early part of the day working with HH on the barn. At least it was early, and the heat not too bad. Also we managed to get some of the soffit in, if you can believe that. She stayed until about 12:30, then had to head off to run errands, so the kids and I settled into a rare day of hanging out with not much in the way of plans.

In typical fashion, the kids brainstormed and came up with something to do, building a fort in the living room out of the scarves, blankets, and couch cushions. How can you not love that? Plus, there were no computers (sort of) or TVs involved. Just goes to show you, when push comes to shove, bored kids will figure out something to do. There is some merit to being bored and spending some time in your own head.

I, on the other hand, set about making some dumplings, and my apologies to the kids for being crabby as a result. On a bright note, if such a thing exists, they knew to stay out of my crabby way, and as a result, made their awesome fort.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, this past week was a rough one, and the last thing we wanted to do was deal with dumplings. Yes, that familiar feeling of dread was sinking back in. Letting things slide, however, always comes back to haunt you, and it was clear that we were going to be short on a certain dumplings. The only thing to do was to make up the deficit. No sense in whining about it, though I always manage to find a way.

First off, I had to make the fillings, and in the heat of the day, that’s a complete drag, but it doesn’t end there, because then I have to make and cook them. Cooking requires breaking out all the pots and pans, not to mention the stove and tent, also knowing that I’m going to have to clean them all before the market. Truth be told, it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so darn hot. Standing by the hot stove can really bring you down.

Okay, enough of my whining. I managed to get it done, the kids had fun, but it was non-stop work all day, because after the dumplings, I had to make supper before we set off for karate. To add to the fun, sensei H called and said he couldn’t make it to class. That meant that I was potentially going to have to lead class, which always gives me anxiety. My first impulse is to cancel, but the show must go on.

Fortunately, we’ve been lucky enough that Master H has been a regular, as has DC, black belt extraordinaire. Between the two of them, we’ve had great classes the past few weeks, even though our fearless leader hasn’t been able to attend. We miss him, but have managed in his absence. He works hard and teaches the class all on his own time, so nobody can complain. Hopefully he’ll be there the next time.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Injury Report

It seems I can’t go a week without some sort of pain and misery. This week seems to be my shoulder, and man does it hurt. I can’t raise my arm above the height of my shoulder, and I’m guessing I’ve got rotator cuff issues. This has been an ongoing problem. About 20 years ago I had a bad mountain biking accident, the first and last time I’d ever mountain biked. I went over the handle bars and thought I’d broken my collar bone, the pain was debilitating.

Ever since then, my should acts up on occasion, and it’s never really felt 100%. I’m guessing that ultimate frisbee has aggravated the problem, because it involves a lot of movement up there, and I can’t figure out what else might have caused this. It really acted up at A’s play, and I was talking to DH about it, and he said he’s going to have surgery on his after years of pain. I happen to know several guys who have had surgery on their shoulders. Yikes!

The only solution to the problem will be to practice throwing the frisbee with my left hand, because I can’t stop play UF now, can I? This should be interesting.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Billy Alexander for the pic.

Blongo Ball

Not wanting to be a victim of “I told you so,” by way of R, we made our own blongo ball set instead of going out and dropping $70 on a new one. The total cost of making it was about $20 for parts and the balls, but it was a rewarding experience because N got to essentially put it together on his own, thus having a feeling of accomplishment, and we got to work together on it, providing the father-son bonding experience.

Let us not forget that we also saved money, because as R indicated from the get-go, she didn’t want to go out and buy another plastic toy made in China that was going to sit around gathering dust. While I completely understand this line of thinking, you can’t deny your kids everything they want in light of this, or I guess you can, but what fun is that? Making the device ourselves resolves a lot of the problems.

I’m bringing this up because, sure enough, the blongo ball was at first a hit, but has since been somewhat idle on the grass. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool game, but I’m guessing the novelty of it all has worn off a bit. Summer isn’t over, yet, however, and I’m sure we’ll get a lot more use out of it.

For now, thanks for reading.

Blowing off Market Obligations

We’re experiencing that familiar feeling of farmer’s market fatigue, and we’re not even half way through. What makes it extra challenging is we’re juggling so many thing with the kids and camp and all that good stuff. This past week we were so bummed out about the bad weather and horrible sales, that this week we had little motivation to make dumplings. So much so, in fact, that we completely blew it off.

This is not as horrible as it sounds, because the previous week, sales were dismal, and we have lots of dumplings left over. We probably have enough to make it through the next market, and if we sell out, c’est la vie. Sometimes there is only so much that you can do.

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

More Hockey Info

Okay, I can’t leave well enough alone. It makes R and I immeasurably happy that N is finding his groove in something that interests him, though again, there is some ground to make up. As long as he is having fun and making friends. Sports definitely give you some carte blanche into the world of boys.

With Summer gliding along, there is the issue of team hockey to consider, and once again, decision time. Uh-oh. There are two types of league play, traveling or house. House teams tend to be more low-key and geared towards fun. Traveling teams focus more on skills and game playing, and are thus more intense and competitive. At first, I thought the house league would be a better fit, because I wasn’t sure how much I wanted him getting into the whole team sports culture.

However, I also want him to have fun and take pride in his abilities, and I think playing in a team situation would promote that. It would be more of a commitment, and might be a little more of a challenge, not to mention a little more rigorous, but there are lessons to be learned about the value of hard work and diligence.

With this in mind, I asked the coach about his thoughts, and he emphatically said that he thought N would be a great fit for the traveling team. He had really nice things to say, and thought he was doing a great job out there. Needless to say, this made my day. Just for the record, to play on the traveling team, you have to display some basic level of hockey competence, and I’m guessing N did just that.

So I guess it’s been decided, but we’ll see.

Two final issues - N has asked for a different jersey. He is not that keen on the one he has, which was given to us. It is different from the other kid’s jerseys, and maybe he doesn’t like standing out. It’s also not very manly since it’s powder blue, and I think used to be our KB’s daughter’s, so I kind of understand. We asked him what kind he wanted, and he said he’d like a Boston Bruins jersey. Of course! Finding one was another matter. We went to Stateline and they said they don’t carry logo jerseys, though the logo-free ones they carry were a bargain. They said go to Olympia, and they don’t carry them, either. Looks like we’ll have to online.

The second thing was helping him practice his wrist shot, specifically lifting it up into the goal. I did some research and learned the way it’s done and relayed this info to him, but learning and doing are two separate things. I found out that you can get hockey practice pads, which are like fake ice. Then again, why buy one when you can make it at half the price?

I got a sheet of acrylic plexiglass and coated it with furniture polish. Then I attached a bungee cord on one end for rebound, and put a 2X4 on one end. The goal here is to flick the puck over the 2X4 and against the plywood. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and if you can’t lift it, it bounces back to you via the bungee. Not perfect, but good enough for now. I’m still searching for the perfect material as well as the best lubricant. I think some sort of silicone spray would work, but don’t want to get into toxic chemicals.

That’s it for now on the hockey front, but believe me when I tell you, it ain’t over yet, not by a long shot.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Shannah Pace for the pic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joining the Fun

We had parent/child open stick, and I got to live out my hockey fantasies with my son. It’s a good chance for N to practice puck handling and shooting, and I get to join in on the fun. If I knew more about the game, I’d work with him and help him prepare for his practice, but I’ve never played before, so it’s hard to know. The best I can do is pass him the puck, but even that I tend to mess up. Then again, it’s good practice for him to field bad passes, because not everyone is going to get it right on the tape.

Whatever be the case, it’s a lot of fun, and he really enjoys it. This past weekend was more manageable than last week, because the crowd was smaller and mellower. The last time there were some college/high school players who were good and shot rockets into the net, which can be a little scary. This time it was much more user friendly.

N has also asked for a new jersey, as I think I mentioned before. These can be incredibly expensive, and when you see some people wearing their favorite team shirts, you realize they spent upwards of $150 dollars for them. Crazy. Also, it’s hard to find a jersey that doesn’t have a player’s name, and N doesn’t know one from another, so it’s not an issue. If anything, he preferred one with no name, which created another challenge. Finally, after much searching, I think we may have found what we were looking for at the Sports Authority. In fact, the woman on the phone said her sons played hockey and not only helped us enormously in our search, but even gave me some helpful tips. I love when that happens.

Now we wait and see. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Neil Thorne for the pic.

The Show Must Go On

A had her play in the park, except that it wasn’t in the park. They had rehearsed for the past two weeks in Paradise Park in Windsor, and the plan was all set to do the show there, but the weather was not cooperating, and they had to make a zero hour assessment. There was a storm threatening in the early part of the day, but no rain, so the plan was a go. By afternoon, it was looking a little more gloomy, so they wavered a bit, but by 5:30, they planned on doing it outside.

We went to the park in anticipation of this, and I told R and my Mentor that it was going to be there, but when we got there, the crew told us that the last minute decision was to go inside. It was prescient, because by showtime, the rain had begun. Truth be told, it was simpler, because the theater is nice, and there was plenty of parking. The lot at the park was tiny, and I figured there wouldn’t be enough and that people would have to park along the road.

In fact, we weren’t even sure where the location was, so N and I went and scouted it out. We found the spot, but it wasn’t that simple, and I even asked a guy working there and he didn’t know. It’s a huge park.

Whatever be the case, the show went on as planned, and they did a great job. What a great camp, the kids all had fun, and they were a fun and quirky bunch, and A really had a wonderful time and clicked with the whole thing. She was amazing on stage, and looked so pretty in her costume. I spoke with the people in charge and they all had nice things to say about her and the overall experience. A also got to hang with her buddies, CH and EM, and made lots of new friends. What an incredible group of kids.

Just wanted to thank AG and A&IH for coming to the show. What good friends they are.

Before the show, we wanted to get A some flowers, something we’ve forgotten in the past and kicked ourselves over. Not a huge deal, but a nice touch, and she really appreciates it. I went over to Harmony Farm and JJ made up a really nice bouquet of peonies just for A. A beautiful job, and A loved her flowers.

After the show, several of the kids and families went over to the ice cream parlor and had scoops while the parents sat around and pontificated about the rigors of parenthood. An interesting bunch of parents to go with an interesting bunch of kids. You can see where they get their individualities.

Now that the camp is over, I think A will miss it, and as much as it’s been a challenge, I’ll miss it if only for the fact that she loved it so much. There are other avenues to explore this side of life, so we’ll investigate accordingly. For now, we have a one week break before the next camp kicks in. It’ll be nice to have some time off for good behavior.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Laura Leavell for the pic.

Taking Care of Library Business

About four months ago at our trustee meeting, I was asked to deal with some issues regarding the library, and of course I blew it off since then. I felt bad, but was not sure what I was supposed to do, and in these situations, I’ve found the short term solution that I always embrace is to ignore it and hope it goes away. Unfortunately, it never does.

I finally decided the time had come to act, especially in light of the fact that when the president sent out the upcoming agenda for the next meeting, it specifically mentioned my name as dealing with this issue. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I think it’s been handled, though for the record, it is a little complicated, and not over just quite yet. I think I’ve gotten the ball rolling, and the next steps will occur in due time. For now, I’ve got something to show the other board members that will lessen their impression that I’m a slacker. Now they'll know I am.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pawel Bialas for the pic.

Hockey Info

Good vibes thus far on the hockey front. Being the OCD dad that I am, I’m torturing myself over what direction to take this. As you can imagine, there are options, and as my Mentor will attest to, I don’t always do so well with options.

I don’t want to become one of those obsessed parents who tortures themselves over their kid’s hockey career, but being a guy and all, I can’t help but think about these things sometimes.

The problem is, N is a good skater and is showing great promise on the ice, but he has much less experience than most of the other kids. In fact, I would bet he has the least experience out there, having never played organized hockey before. It’s crazy how hardcore people are about this sport.

Anyway, there were several areas of uncertainty. First off, his equipment, namely his skates. These were given to us by HH, thanks BTW. They are hand me downs, and they are perfectly fine for just casual skating, but in hockey, everything seems to be notched up a bit, and having good equipment is important. I didn’t want his skates to interfere with his skating, and worried that maybe having hand me downs (I’m guessing he’s the only kid out there with hand me downs, all the other kids have nice new skates) was not a great idea. Even R mentioned that if it was a problem, we should get him new ones, which is amazing.

I had to walk out a bit on a limb and ask the coach his thoughts on N’s skates. It seems that other skaters have different blades, and figured this must affect their speed and agility, but when the coach looked at them, he said they looked fine. I didn’t want to embarrass N in front of the other players, but I think I did just that because the coach examined his skates in front of everyone else. Sorry about that.

The next question was if they were a proper fit. I made a huge blunder but putting N into new skates his first go-around in hockey, and his feet must have been killing them. Even with a perfect fit, there is a break in period, and he had some blisters to show for it. To his credit, he never once whined or complained. What a trooper.

In fact, I think it baffled him why I was obsessing over his skates, he likes them. I just needed to be sure, so the next stop was Stateline Sports, where the hockey gurus reside. I brought the skates in and the sales guy took the time to check them out. He said they fit just right, and any blisters or sores were a natural part of breaking in new skates. N was actually elated that he could keep his skates, even in lieu of getting new ones. This makes me happy.

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Despondent Over Dumplings and the Sixth Market

I don’t know if it is because it was a long hot weekend, but we’ve reached the juncture in our dumpling endeavor when we are starting to feel despondent over the whole affair. Once again, we’re asking the big question, why exactly are we doing this?

With all that’s going on with the kid’s camps and R’s work, not to mention my efforts to start my glorious freelance writing career, the dumplings just take up too much of our time and more importantly, our thoughts. We thought one market a week would be more manageable, which it is, but it’s still a drag. It baffles me how we pulled it off last year.

Plus, for whatever reason, not that there is one, but the weather is out to get us. Every Wednesday, almost without fail, the weather turns lousy, usually peaking in heat or bringing a storm. Someone is trying to tell us something.

This Wed was once again complicated by A’s camp, which ended during the market. Last week I asked CH to help out, and it worked out beautifully, but this week we had to search for another option. Enter HH. She said she’d be glad to have the kids over, and again, I made supper for them. The kids were actually excited to be hanging with their buddies, and they have a pool.

And was it ever hot. It was slated to be over 90 degrees, with possible thunder showers. It’s the heat that really gets to me, especially when you’re cooking dumplings. It’s a complete drag. To make matters worse, the market was incredibly slow. There were no people out there, and we sat around with all these dumplings to sell. At some point, we decided to stop cooking them and try to sell what we’d made in order to minimize our losses.

By the time 5:30 rolled around, the dark clouds started to roll in. I welcomed the break in the hot sun, but as the clouds approached, it became clear that something bad was on the way. Sure enough, the storm arrived, and it was nasty. Tents were getting blown away, and the rain came down in sheets. Fortunately, we could see the tempest brewing and started packing up our tent. The wind made it challenging because we had to hold the tent down, but during the lulls we managed to break it all down and load everything into our cars.

Some people were not as lucky, and I think one or two vendors lost their tent. Once all of our stuff was stowed away, I felt much better, but some people really needed help. I just want to note that once things got ugly, people came out in droves to help, and it was a nice sense of community out there. We helped where we could, and even stayed behind to help the popcorn guys. They have an incredibly involved operation, and it got soaked with the rain and wind.

I felt bad for them, but again, people came out to help and it was a nice to see. Plus, we squeaked through relatively unscathed. For all it’s worth, we got to cut out of the market an hour early. Hey, I’ll take it, even though sales were lousy.

Also, we have lots of dumplings left over, so that means less work for the coming week. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Viktors Kozers and Sebastian Danon for the pics.

Serendipity Through OCD

A indicated that they were having a little potluck lunch for their theater group, and of course, dad’s mind starting racing as to what to make for it. She said she’d like me to make these boiled potatoes that we eat with either olive oil or butter, which is fine, but didn’t seem like enough. I first thought pasta, but then it dawned on me that we have an overload of fruit in the house.

This always happens to me when Summer hits. The variety of fruits that are available strikes a resounding chord in my OCD tendencies, and I seem to stock up on Summer fruits. This would be fine if they have an indefinite shelf life, but they don’t, and it’s shame when they go to waste. Currently we have bags of peaches, nectarines, and apricots, not to mention grapes that are waiting to be devoured. I think R sees them and shakes her head in disbelief.

Now that this potluck is coming up, I can use some of the extra fruit to make fruit salad. How cool is that? I love when that happens.

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

A Fun and Crazy July 4th

We had a long crazy weekend, albeit a fun one, what with the 4th of July celebration and all. We knew it was going to be a little crazy, though we all really enjoyed ourselves, though as usual, I would have rather stayed at home and mowed the lawn and took a long nap.

We lucked out with the weather and had warm sunny skies, just beautiful, though at times a little hot, but I’m not complaining… sort of. The plan was for the kids to march in the parade with the library, and R and I to ride our bikes with TT. I’m still not clear how TT keeps hanging on, they have only a few members, but there they are, still doing their thing. They asked us to help with the float and to ride in support, and we agreed. It’s fun being in the parade, and personally I’d rather be involved than just an observer.

We had to get there a little early to set up. All of us met at the library and the floats were brought over to the starting area, which was a mad house. I have to confess, it’s sort of fun because the entire community comes out, and the kids had a blast seeing their friends. Once the parade got started, it was bedlam. There were tons of people on the sidewalks watching, and I have to confess to being a little self-conscious about all those people watching us, but it’s so crazy out there, nobody even notices you. They’re all caught up in the festivities.

After the parade, we joined in the party, which is always a big affair around here. Lots of food, activities, and fun. R and I sat in the grass and waited for the kids, who were in the library cooling off. At some point, A showed up hanging with EM, her new buddy, who is a really cool and neat kid, though as usual, older than A. N, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen. Apparently he had gone to check out the tractor pull and was all by his lonesome.

I went over to the tractor pull and brought him a burger and hot dog, which he gratefully devoured. It was cute to see him all by himself watching the pull, and interesting that he had the wherewithal to do something he wanted to do without his big sister there. Part of our movement to independence that we’re trying to encourage in him. At some point CH showed up and they hung out for a bit, which was great, because N likes him. CH even went off to get some strawberry shortcake, and then returned to hang with N. That was cool.

Now I’ve never really spent much time at a tractor pull, but it’s pretty serious business. There is an entire sub-culture to it all, and there were people who not only came prepared with chairs, food, and drink, but stayed for the entire time of the fair. Talk about dedication.

At some point, N and CH wanted to check out the fair, so they took off and went to the game booth. N eventually got to hang with his UF buddies.

I went over to the gazebo where they were doing “Name that Tune,” and they had quite the turnout. It was hilarious, with serious music lovers taking it very seriously. It got quite heated, and the competition was fierce. Interestingly, there were numerous teenagers involved, though the music was really focused on classic rock and oldies. I think they would have benefited from including more contemporary music.

By the end of the contest, the fair was winding down, and it was time to go home until that night when the fireworks were to begin. We chilled out for a bit and had some supper (something healthy), and then it was time to go back to the rec center for more fun. It was crowded, and you could see the kids hanging out and forming their respective cliques. Adolescence is such a complicated time.

A&N took off running with their friends, and R and I ended up sitting by ourselves and just checking out the scene. The kids ended up sitting with CH’s family to watch the fireworks, and we missed them during the show. In fact, we decided that next year, we want them to sit with us during the fireworks, for our own emotional benefit, of course, not to mention the fact that we’d like to keep tabs on them in the evening.

After the fireworks, it was late, and we were exhausted. The combination of a late night and being the hot sun all day really takes it out of you, and even a few days afterward, I’m still recovering. I’m getting too old for this.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday, and until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Wong Mei Teng for the pic.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Busy Sunday With Hockey, UF… and Dumplings

I don’t know how the kids do it, but they have boundless energy. It’s good because it keeps them fit, active, and healthy, plus it helps to build their self-esteem and confidence, not to mention their social lives. It does that a bit for me, as well.

We started off the day with making dumplings, which is sort of a drag, but I won’t belabor that point. I will mention that since we had a good day last week, we completely depleted our stocks, so we had to make everything. This proved to be a lot of work, but we just chipped away at the stone until the big push on Sunday. Now it’s all done, and we have a few odds and ends to attend to, but are ready for the most part.

After the dumplings were done, it was time to get ready for hockey. This time around they actually had the parent/child open stick, which meant that yours truly was going to have a chance to play. I’d never played hockey before but dabbled a little on Occum Pond. This time around, it was going to be N and I hitting the big time. I’d gotten a helmet and was ready to rock and roll.

There were several dads out there, and some of them were good. There were also several younger guys, either high school or college, and they were amazing. Their shots were rockets, like coming out of a cannon. I learned not to hang around behind the net because the puck comes zinging by. Fortunately, they’re so good that they have pretty good control over their shots, and I’m glad I had the helmet on with the cage. If you got hit in the stomach, you could easily break a rib, and that’s all I need.

After the skate, N’s practice began, and this time around there was a completely different crew. Hockey really is a small community, and this group had a large Rutland component. N was one of the youngest and I’m guessing once again the only one with no hockey experience. Consequently, he was a little behind the curve, but that’s to be expected. Some of these kids have been playing hockey for years, the age range is 6-14, so N is on the lower end. Even still, he looks good out there, and is on the healthy size side. In other words, he’s not the little squirt out there, and his strength will serve him well.

In the meantime, I think it’s good to focus a little on puck handling and speed skating, and perhaps a little on aggression. N is a good skater, but it’s a whole new game when you have to skate and handle a puck, as you might have guessed. Plus, I think there are times when N is not skating as hard as he could, but I’m not going to make an issue out of it. Peer competition has an amazing way of taking care of that.

One thing I did not ice is that N does not always have that killer competitive instinct that a lot of kids have. I’m glad for this, it’s not always an admirable quality, but I think it has a way of lessening his motivation. Sometimes during play, he’ll hang back and wait for things to happen rather than jumping into the fray and making things happen. I’m hoping the coaches will teach or instill this while playing hockey, because when I try to give him pointers, he stops just short of telling me to go jump in a lake.

The only reason that I make note of these facts is because there are moments when N displays his athletic prowess, and others when he tones it way down. Maybe over the course of getting more experience, he’ll know when to do what.

He’s having fun, either way, and I don’t want to ruin it by being overbearing, so I’ll keep the input to a minimum.

After hockey, N was geared up and ready to hit the UF field. It still amazes me that he’s up for it after hours of hockey, but he couldn’t wait. Sure enough, he did a great job out there, and the other players are very supportive and give him loads of compliments. A did a nice job, as well, though again, when I try to give her advice, all I get is sassiness. Sometimes you can’t win.

We ended up playing until about 8:00, and FYI, N scored the winning goal. It was a great effort, and he even ended up diving to catch it. The perfect moment for the highlight reel.

We came home, at a quick bite, and then the kids had baths and went to be. I was exhausted, but content after having had a nice day. Now we can look forward to a bear of a 4th.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Decision Time

We had to make a difficult decision, or should I say, N had to make one in choosing either the local Summer camp or hockey camp. It was a hard choice for him, and I understand completely and feel bad that it had to come to this. On the one hand, the local summer camp is run by our friends and he went last year with his sister. It’s attended by the local kids, and they do fun stuff in the wild, though he is the youngest one there, and he tends to tag along with his sister.

With his recent interest in hockey, we signed him up for hockey camp to help him develop his skating and skills in the hopes that he may play in the Fall, but I then realized that there was a time conflict. He had to choose, and at first was sort of leaning to the local camp because A is going and he had a blast last year.

I have to confess, I leaned a little more to hockey camp, for a number of reasons. First off, if he wants to play hockey, he is a bit behind the curve with the other kids, and the more practice he can get in, the more fun I think he’ll have once the season starts. The second, and in my opinion more important, issue is that I really think we’ve reached a juncture where N should develop his own interests outside of his sister’s sphere of influence. This process has already begun, with A forming friendships with girls her own age, and younger brothers are not always welcome.

This is heartbreaking for him, but the reality is, at some point, he’s not going to want to hang with his the big girls, anyway. At least until he reaches the age when he wants to be around girls, but that’s a few years away. Either way, I think hockey is a way for him to form his own identity and meet kids his own age that share his interest. Sure, I’m not so keen on the whole hockey scene, it’s an entire sub-culture in and of itself, but I’m not one for scenes, anyway, so I have to just deal with it.

Plus, I think it’s good for N to take part in something he might not only be good at, but can nurture in his own way, on his own terms. Most of his life has been spent tagging along with his big sister and following her lead. I think for both of them this may be running its course, but I could be wrong. They do get along well, but they are different people, and obviously it’s good to acknowledge their respective strengths.

We’ll see where this goes. I’m finding that hockey is just another arena for me to get neurotic about, but what else is new?

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