Friday, September 30, 2011

My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software

I just tried out some awesome digital scrapbooking software and so far it’s been a blast working with it. In the coming days, I’ll have a copy to give away to one of the lucky readers of this blog, so stay tuned for more information.

This software is called My Memories Suite, and it is nothing short of amazing, especially if you love to take pictures and share them in a fun and creative way. There are so many features that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do. Needless to say, the kids and I are going to be having some serious fun archiving our pictures, being the picture-happy family that we are. This is a collage we made of our trip to Arizona.

Because this scrapbook software is so powerful, it is worth it to take the time to learn about the wonderful features, of which there are more than you can imagine . For this reason, we found the best thing to do is start simple and then toy with things until we felt comfortable being more ambitious.

Starting out is really easy - you can either use one of their ready made templates that are included with the program, or you can access numerous other choices online. If you’re feeling really creative, you can even create your own template from scratch.

We made this other collage of our flight in grandad's plane with Uncle P. What an amazing experience.

Best of all, the program is simple to use. It’s as easy as dragging the photos onto the template, and the software does the rest for you. You can decide how pictures go on each page, add captions or any sort of text, and there are background, font, and color choices. You can also re-size the pictures and rotate them directly on the template and then save the changes. The end result is a beautiful photo album of your best loved pictures, all custom designed by you, the artist.

The software is designed for making albums or scrap books, and there are options to add narration, music, and even videos and multimedia presentations for iPods or to make DVDs. You can also modify the file size and format in order to share your work with family, friends, or the blogosphere.

AND, as I mentioned, I will have a copy to give away, so check back early next week.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to the good folks at My Memories for introducing me to their software.

Fall is the Air

Talk about signs that fall is in the air. N decided that enough leaves had fallen in the yard to warrant some raking. He asked A is she was interested, but she wasn’t. Undeterred, he broke out the rake and wheelbarrow and got to work. His goal, of course, is to get a pile going that we can all jump into.

It’s a bit early, so he’s got a ways to go, but you gotta love his enthusiasm. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Elliot Jordan for the pic.

Final Lesson with EE, Walking the Dog, and Preparing for Snow

We did our final guitar lesson with EE, and it’s sort of sad saying goodbye, especially since he’s such a great teacher and an amazingly nice guy. I don’t think it’s farewell forever, it’s just that we are delving into new areas. EE was really cool about it, and said to KIT when A’s ready to start up again. He said he’d also keep us informed of any recital possibilities or performances. Nice guy, that EE.

I will say that I won’t miss driving to the big city every week, and at such a busy hour. We hit the town right at rush hour and when the schools let out. That means we have to contend with traffic and crowds of restless teenagers. Their good kids, it’s just that there are so many of them, and teens become different people when they congregate in groups. It makes me a little uncomfortable when things get rowdy.

Before our lesson, we walked our friend’s dog, and that’s always fun. We love dogs, and it’s nice to have a chance to play with the pup and help out at the same time. It’s never a chore. Plus, it was a beautiful day. After our walk, we headed over to the best ski shop ever, Henderson’s, to see if our skis were ready. They were, and N was visibly excited to get his hands on his twin tip skis. I’m excited for him, they look cool. My skis were also ready, all repaired and tuned up, so we are moving along on this end.

A is all set for her ski equipment, and the one last thing the kids need are goggles. N’s goggles are falling apart, the foam is coming off, and A mentioned that she’d like to get some goggles that fit over her glasses. I’m all for that, though glasses under your goggles presents it’s own problems. Nonetheless, she skis without her glasses, and I’d rather she had them on. We were over at Paradise Sports to get a new inner tube for my bike, and they had some leftover goggles from last year, one of which looked good for A. They didn’t have their winter stuff in yet. At Henderson’s, we found a pair that N liked that wasn’t too expensive (kid’s stuff is cheaper), and a pair that A liked that was expensive. Granted, there are goggles that are much more expensive, you could spend well over $100 on a pair, which I find incredible.

Either way, the pair that A liked was not that bad, but still more than I’d like to pay so we’ll keep our eyes open on that front. It’s only September, so it’s not a rush, but the days have a way of slipping by faster than you think. The last thing is to get A’s skis tuned up, and we are ready for some snow.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Forced to Lead

Last class I got the dreaded last minute phone call from sensei H that he couldn’t make it. He asked if I could open the room and then do what needed to be done. I’m not so thrilled about the idea of leading the class, for a variety of reasons, but usually I get a break and some of the black belts show up, or Master H is usually a pretty reliable presence. In the worst case scenario, class will just be cancelled. Anything but being the teacher.

We got there and nobody was around, so there was still hope, but eventually some of the newer guys showed up. One of the lower belts, who is very dedicated and a great student, arrived along with two of the newer guys who are just starting out. The stage was set.

As we cleared the room and got ready, I kept my eye on the door for either Master H to show up or one of the black belts, but as the clock ticked, all hope was running out. Eventually, it became painfully clear to me that I was going to have lead the class. Bummer. LS came, and she’s the same level as me, plus she’s really good, so I had some backup.

You know what? It wasn’t that bad, and I might even go as far as to say that it was a good class. Not so much because I was leading it, but because it was small and we got a lot done. The blue belts need to learn/practice their katas for their next belt, while the new guys have plenty of material to cover. We divided the class and I worked with the blues while LS worked with the new guys.

I still had to lead, and we did our standard stretches and exercises, and then I led them on drills. These are standard strikes, blocks, and kicks that they will need for their tests, but more importantly, are the fundamental building blocks to combat and self defense. It was a great way to go through class, and as a student and stand-in teacher, helps a lot to maintain perspective on the purpose of the moves. In other words, I got a lot out of the experience, and feel empowered for the next time... yeah, right.

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

A Calendar, Perhaps?

We are fairly busy with school work and life overall, so much so that we often don’t get around to doing the things we want to do. This includes regularly working on karate and also practicing our music. The karate part is my bad, and the music is, to a large degree, my responsibility, as well. The kids won’t practice unless I make them, and then I come out as mean dad, but such is the life of parenting.

A lot of the time the kids end up practicing their instruments the day of the lesson, which is all painfully redolent of cramming for an exam, and something we’ve wanted to avoid all along. With karate, I’d love for N to get involved, but he is reluctant to join the class. He would be willing, however, to practice with his sister and I at home. Say no more, let’s do it.

In the end, a week flies by, and though I have all these grandiose plans of practicing during the week, but the next lesson or class, we’ve let it fall by the wayside, and I’m bummed and disappointed with myself once again.

It occurred to me that we met benefit from a calendar with practice days actually scheduled in. I’m not good with organization, and feel like we should practice these things whenever the time allows for it, but doesn’t seem to be working. We’re going to have get military with this and start putting it down on paper. There is, of course, the strong possibility that we’ll simply ignore the schedule (things have a way of suddenly coming up), but let’s worry about that when the time comes.

For now, thanks for reading, and thanks to Iris Scherer for the pic.

Catching Up With Me

It’s funny how life has a way of catching up with you. What I mean, of course, are those darn dumplings. It also highlights the dangers of getting too complacent and having way too much time in between gigs. Last week we skipped the market, which meant that we were free from the torment of making dumplings for about two weeks.

The reason it worked out this way was because we missed a market due to weather, so we had all these dumpling already made for the following week. After that market, we skipped the next one, so we didn’t have to make dumplings right away. Believe me when I tell you, it was nice. Freedom is a beautiful thing.

The problem is, the market is coming up, and now we have to make up for lost time. Ideally I would have been preparing during the previous week to soften the blow, but I was literally basking in leisure time and waited until the weekend. At that point, it was getting to be crunch time, and not only had to get my act together, but I had to battle inertia and lethargy, two very strong forces.

We managed to get it done, as always, it wasn’t as bad as we anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a bummer, and takes up huge chunks of your day, but things are winding down, and soon we’ll have so much free time that we won’t know what to do with it. Then again, maybe not.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy For Some Beautiful Weather

We had what I would consider to be outstanding weather last weekend, and it seems like a long time coming. It’s been rainy and unseasonably warm the past several days, and it’s been a bit of a downer. It’s supposed to be fall, after all, and if not for the shorter days, it still feels like summer.

We tried to spend as much of the day outside, but it’s hard to do when you’re slaving over dumplings all morning. Even when you’re inside, however, it’s nice to look out the window and see the sun, and to open the window and get some fresh air. I’m not complaining... well, maybe a little. It’s the dumplings, I gotta whine a little. Either way, making dumplings entails some time outside, and even though I was slaving over hot oil, I could still appreciate the beautiful day.

Then we got to play ultimate frisbee, the game we all love to play. Since it was warmer, we could all play in bare feet and not get frostbite. This, of course, is a good thing.

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

Getting It Done Academically

We scrambled to get our school stuff into the state, and as usual, regretted not getting it done sooner. Some things will never change. We were meeting with DE to do evaluations, and I figured it was a good time to get next year’s application in, as well. This meant coming up with a lesson plan for A, who along with her brother will be moving up the academic ladder. For N, it’s a little simpler, because he’s following in his sister’s footsteps, so devising a curriculum entails looking back and using A’s old plan as a guide. Making A’s plan, however, means starting from scratch.

Whenever I review what’s out there, I realize how much of the academic lingo is a lot of talk with no substance. I use the curricula that the schools use as a guide, just to see what is expected from certain age ranges. What you see a lot of is experts saying either the same thing over and over again, or essentially nothing at all, all under the guise of obtuse and esoteric language. It’s quite a chore just to read it all, much less understand and interpret it.

Whatever be the case, I managed to finish up the curricula and get them into the state. Sure, we’re late as usual, but not nearly as late as last year. Thank goodness for that. I’m sure we’ll hear from the powers that be regarding certain deficiencies in what I’ve submitted, but at least we’ll have something to work with in order to reach completion. It’s much harder working completely in the dark, which is the story of my life. All that’s left is to submit the year-end evaluations, and we are done for the previous academic year. That means we can look forward to another year of rigorous academics.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Piotr Lewandowski for the pic.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Karate Class Growing

The turnout for karate has been getting better, and though DC hasn’t been coming, there are a bunch of new students showing up. Some of them look like fighters, and you can see with a little training that they’ll become warriors. A lot of the higher belts have been coming, as well, not to mention some kids so A has friends to be around. It’s harder when she’s the only kid, though I’d love for her to continue irregardless of who shows up.

I sense that there is a test in the air. Master H hasn’t said anything, but he knows they psychology of it all, and if students don’t get a sense of progress and accomplishment, their interest wanes. There are new people, too, who would benefit from a belt or two.

We ended up sparring, which we haven’t done in quite a bit, and I thought A did a stand-up job. Her confidence is great, and she showed patience and poise. She went up against a higher belt, and I thought she did well. Truth be told, her opponent was exhausted and out of sync, and hadn’t been to class in awhile, but either way, A gets credit. I ended up sparring my good friend PC, and it always gets a bit heated between us. It’s a guy thing, we can’t seem to help it. On the bright side, we get some quality sparring done, even if we’re a bit bruised and sore afterward.

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

Scoring at the Listen Center

We had our big day off from the market, so we made the most of it and got some stuff done. Part of this was a stop at the Listen Center. N has been talking about getting a football, why I can’t say. We never watch football in our house, though I like it. He started asking for a football for his birthday, and I figured it would be easy enough, though it would have to be the right size.

When we were at the Listen, we found not just one, but two that were perfect for him. He chose one and suddenly, we were ready to play some football. For the record, the ball cast 75 cents. A got a nice oxford, and I scored a canvas bag, something I’m always searching for.

I have to confess, I have certain things in mind when we go there. I’m always searching for sports equipment for the kids, though you’re generally going to find junk there. That’s fine for things like ski poles or baseball gloves, but for serious stuff like skis or hockey equipment, you really have to go to a better source and usually buy new. Such is the life of winter sports.

I’m also always in search of good bags to hold anything and everything in, especially groceries. Those reusable bags you get at the store are so poorly made, they really can’t hold much in the way of food. As for books, forget about it. Also, I wanted to get a new warm jacket, but it’s not an urgent situation. Every now and then, if you’re diligent, you can score a nice coat, especially if you shop at the Listen adjacent to the big city.

We got home and N immediately pumped up his football and we tossed it around. I have to say, that young man can throw a football, especially in light of the fact that he’d never thrown one before. He got some perfect spirals going, I was amazed. Then again, he is a jock.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Market Free Wednesday

We had a crazy week the week before last week, and as a result, couldn’t make it to the big city market this week. Wow, does that make any sense? Whatever be the case, this was not a bad thing, because we are so fried on this market, we don’t need much of an excuse to miss it. The one downside is that the weather was beautiful on that day, and with the students back at Dartmouth, that meant that we would have probably been busy.

The funny thing was, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Suddenly we had so much free time. I contacted KR and said we were available for a guitar lesson, but then realized that A just had her lesson on Tue, so maybe that was cramming too much in. I cancelled and we ended up running some errands and then stopping at Fore-U to hit some golf balls, our new favorite activity. We ran into PH and he gave all some helpful pointers.

After, we got ice cream, of course, and then headed home. It’s nice not having the market, it makes you realize that there is life beyond dumplings.

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Let’s Not Forget About Schooling

It’s that time of year again. I have to get A&N’s school information in to the proper authorities, and this is a priority. Last year I was so late, I couldn’t help but think the people over in the homeschool office in Montpelier wanted to string me up. They didn’t say anything overtly, but I could tell they weren’t happy. If there’s one thing in life I’ve learned, you don’t want to piss off the people who have the power to make your life or hard.

I should be more on the ball, anyway, but I could always blame it on dumplings. Whatever be the case, I decided to step things up and get it done. It helps that we have to meet with DE to get our evaluations done. This motivates me to get next year’s stuff done, as well.

For the past few days I’ve been powering through the kid’s curriculum. It ain’t easy trying to figure out what kids are supposed to learn, you realize how much you’re allowed to tune out and relinquish any semblance of control over your kid’s education. What parent out there gives any thought to this sort of stuff? Normally you just dress your kids, make their lunch, and then see them again at supper. Who cares what you learned in school? Just pass the potatoes.

Okay, enough of my whining. It’s such a waste of time. My goal is to get the curriculum and enrollment forms done, then have the evaluations done ASAP. Once that’s done, and assuming (hoping?) that the state accepts what I’ve done, then I have all year to put everything off so I can stress out over this next September.

How’s that sound for a plan? Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tiffany Szerpicki for the pic.

Working with I-KODI

Talk about putting things off, I need to get on this I-KODI website work. People are starting to inquire, and I need to take care of it before things spiral out of control. I don’t think we’re there, yet, but things may begin to simmer soon and at that point, it’s not long before they spiral out of control.

I believe I have the raw materials to put a website together. It’s not going to be exactly the same as the old one, but it should suffice, and once I get it together, it should be good enough. I hope. Might this be another situation where I scratch my head and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into?

At the very least, I’m glad I can help DO in his mission to build schools and infratstructure in his home village. At some point, maybe we can broaden our reach.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Robert Proksa for the pic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fun Day at Ultimate Frisbee

We had a great time at UF the other night, though my feet froze to the point where I couldn’t feel them. The next day I was in a bit of pain because I think I injured something but couldn’t feel it because of the numbness. That’s what happens when you’re old and try to act like a teenager.

The days are getting shorter and cooler, so we are meeting earlier for UF. In certain ways, this is a good thing because we get home at a reasonable hour and can eat supper with R. Before we got home late, and we would eat and go to bed. Now we can have a little chill time.

There was a good turnout at the game, and we are getting many new faces, mainly young kids, and that makes for a good time because it’s not as serious. People aren’t too competitive (at least most of us, some maybe get to into it), so including the kids in the game is not a problem. Everyone wants to see them participate and have fun. When you think about it, they’re the future of the game.

A&N both had a blast, and both scored some pretty impressive touchdowns that required focus and skill. It’s great to see. By the time it was over, it was getting cool, and the ground was surprising cold. A&N and myself all play in bare feet, but that may change because our feet really got cold. I think this situation will only get worse with time.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life of a Hockey Dad

We’re new to the world of hockey, but I’m guessing it’s going to be an interesting journey, like everything in our lives. I had heard that the world of kid’s hockey was a bit of an odyssey, both good and bad. I saw traces of this first hand whenever we went to the skating pond and all these kids would be out there in full equipment handling pucks. I have to confess, I was a bit cynical about the whole scene, wondering why they couldn’t just relax and have fun skating. It struck me as just another suburban competitive activity.

There are most definitely aspects of this on the ice, some parents get more into it than need be, and I might even go as far as to say it’s the moms who are the most intense. I see them out there screaming at their kids to do a good job and make mommy proud. I don’t completely fault them, it’s just interesting to see.

Now that we’re about to jump into the fray, I think I’m going to experience firsthand the world of hockey, moms, dads and all. I got a good taste of this over the Summer with hockey camps. The families were all very nice, not to mention extremely helpful for a neophyte like myself. Soon, we’ll be jumping in with both feet as the season will begin in October. This should be interesting.

As part of the gig, I’ve learned that they are asking parents to seek out sponsors for their kids. The goal is to ask a company, or I guess even an individual, who is willing to donate money to sponsor a player, namely your child. This means I’m going to have to get out there and ask for $$. The beauty of it is that the donation offsets the cost of your child’s hockey registration, which I’m all for, because hockey is expensive.

Thus begins my journey into the world of fundraising. Something tells me that I could very well be busy this season taking part in bake sales and tag sales, surrounded by power moms that will slap me around. Such is the life of a stay at home dad.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marcus Österberg for the pic.

Sad to Say Goodbye

Despite the flurry of activity and overall level of stress and busy-ness, it was, as it always is, sad to say goodbye to R’s family. We were all bummed, but the kids were really sad to see them go. Maybe (hopefully) we’ll get to see them again, soon.

There is, however, a certain fun to saying goodbye because we get to go to the Lebanon airport and hang out with the jet set crowd. We all enjoy being at that airport, though it makes us sad to see the R’s leave. Now that they’re gone, we have to get back into the swing of our quotidian lives, which are busy in and of themselves.

After they took off, A&N wanted to hit golf balls again, so we stopped at the range and got a big bucket and swung away. N’s coach, PH, was there and gave all of us some free advice. I think he feels both A&N have good basic skills to play golf, they have the swing. A does seem to get a little frustrated when she has to play second fiddle to her brother, but she can share the wealth a little because it’s usually her that gets the spotlight.

We got home and it sure seemed quiet. It takes a few moments to find our rhythm. Nothing, however, that a nap and a little ultimate frisbee can’t take care of.

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

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flying High

We went for a ride in the Barron during R's parents visit, and was it ever cool. PR had offered to take the kids with him when he went to pick up DR, his wife, but being the neurotic dad that I am, wanted to be there if they went up. Call me a nutcase, it’s just how I am.

In light of this, PR offered to take us up for a quick jaunt before his trip, so headed over to the airport and piled into the plane. It’s always fun going to the Lebanon airport because planes are cool, but it’s also fun being the ones who are taking part. We get to walk onto the tarmac and check out the other planes. The kids were thrilled.

The plane is beautiful, and it’s nice flying with PR, who is amazingly conscientious, competent, and confident. It puts my mind at ease. We flew intially south, then headed east according to the plan. The trees are just beginning to change, and it was a beautiful day. Just right.

We flew over a big lake which I mistakenly identified as Lake Fairlee. It was big and beautiful, but fairly developed, and had an impressive ski hill adjacent to it. In retrospect, I believe it was Lake Sunapee, which fits more with our flight plan, and makes sense because Sunapee has a big ski hill.

Whatever be the case, the flight was loads of fun, and such a great experience, I’m glad the kids were able to take a ride on the plane, it’s something special. We didn’t fly long, just a quick sightseeing jaunt, then PR pulled off an incredibly smooth landing. Takeoff and landing were smooth, the ride had some bumps, but overall it was fine.

After landing, PR was scheduled to go up again in a couple of hours, so we had lunch at Panera and then hit a few rounds of golf balls at the driving range, and then did the requisite visit to Fore-U for monster scoops of ice cream. After that, we dropped PR off and headed home.

What a nice day. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Busy Like a Bee Around Town and at the Market

R’s family came for a visit this past week, and while they hung out and found their groove, we had places to be and things to do. I had cancelled guitar with KR because too much was going on, but we still had tennis and then story hour. After that, of course, was the farmer’s market, and JR mentioned an interest in checking them both out. I thought these would be good opportunities to show her what a cool town we have, and for her to meet some of the really cool people. I think it was a bit of a whirlwind for her, but she hung in there like a trooper.

Since we had tennis, we were not going to be there for the main meal of the day, so I had to whip together some sandwiches and have them eat on the road. Tennis was actually a lot of fun, we met up with DE and his wonderful kids, C&I, and while the beginner class was going on, DE and I played with some of the older kids. It was a lot of fun, though I feel like an old man out there.

After tennis, we jetted back home, and then we headed over to the library. Last week I regretted not bringing a snack because it was all up to AM. She brought some rice crispy treats that she’d made, but there were a lot of kids, and they ran out. This time I remembered to bring some kettle corn, though I wanted to make it but as usual, ran out of time. Either way, it worked out fine.

The library visit was nice, we got to meet a bunch of people, all of them great folks. Then we got to sit in on the story hour, and it was a nice time. We saw firsthand the kids in action, some good, some not so good. Afterward, we hit the market. The kids were off and running, so we could walk slowly take in the scene. We also got to buy a pizza from MD, which we ate for supper back at home.

At some point I had to round up the kids and take them home. A&I’s dad was playing in the band, which for the record did a great job, so they were staying for the whole market, which naturally meant that we were staying for the whole market. I didn’t mind, I’m glad the kids had fun.

We went home and there was a hot meal waiting for us. We chowed, hung out, and then hit the sack. We were all exhausted, no one more than me, but what else is new? The fatigue, however, is not in the least unbearable when you’ve had a good day.

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going to the Fair

Right up the last moment it was looking like we were going to skip the fair, and that was good news for an old man like me. I’m not big on fairs in the first place, they cost too much money, the food is all garbage, and it’s crowded. Whine, whine, whine. The weather was supposed to be lousy, and there was some question as to whether there was even going to be a fair because of the hurricane. Finally, R’s parents were supposed to arrive that afternoon, so how the heck were we supposed to go the fair?

It’s simple, you knucklehead, you drive. The kids were completely unfazed by my long list of concerns and complications, and all they could think about was when we were going to leave. Their good buddies, A&I, were going to be there, and it was the best day to go because the schools went that day and a lot of the hoodlums come on the weekend. Plus, they usually have a deal on the rides on Thursday.

We had arranged to meet up with AG and his girls, he was helping out with the school, and we figured we’d see each other or at least make contact via cell phone. We headed out in the late AM and it was raining, and I kept thinking this would work in our favor because at some point we’d be all cold and wet. On the way in, you could see the damage done by the swollen river as a result of the storm. It was awful in some parts.

It was raining steadily when we arrived, and we put on our raincoats and I was the umbrella caddy (of course) as we walked around. We met up with our friends pretty much right away, and I have to confess that it ended up being a rather nice day. Sure, we go rained on, and it was cold, but the kids got to hang, and the kids paired off nicely. I got to hang with AG, and we had a nice afternoon just following the kids around and feeding them occasionally. Lots of junk food, mind you.

By early afternoon, we were soaked, and some of the kids were complaining of being cold. I think we were a bit under prepared, my bad. Then again, it’s always my fault.

We took the scenic way home along route 14, and again, you could see how bad the damage from the hurricane was. Just heartbreaking. We returned around 4:00, just in time to do some last minute cleanup and heat up the food for our supper when R’s parents arrived. We also threw some logs on the fire to warm up. It’s that time of the year again.

Never a dull moment around here. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to kslyesmith for the pic.

Cleaning Up for the Visit

R’s family came for a visit, and that meant that we needed to shift focus a little and modify our plans. The visit came a little out of the blue, I was under the impression that they were coming in a few weeks, but we were prepared. I like the idea that we can be a bit more spontaneous with guests, and when you really get down to it, family should be, and is, welcome at any time. It’s just that with parents, you want to give a favorable impression, even if your daily lives may be a bit unkempt, or rather, very unkempt.

So, we scrambled a bit and did our best to clean up, but we had a horrendously busy week, and were a bit short on time. Throw in the market and the bad weather, and you can only do so much. Not that it really mattered, because R's parents are great guests, they are not demanding or critical, like some other parents that we know (i.e., mine).

Consequently, we had a great weekend, maybe a bit too short, but fun and thoroughly enjoyable. So much so that we hope to see them again, soon. Also, because there was so much to attend to, we decided to skip next week’s market, so life will be a little less hectic, and I’m all for that.

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

Fourteenth Market and the Final Stretch

Or was it the 15th? Honestly, I can’t recall, but I will say this - I can’t wait for the season to be over. It won’t be long, we are in the home stretch here, and with R’s parents here for the weekend, we can’t make dumplings so we’re going to skip next week. All I have to say to that is hallelujah!

My attitude to the market has really gone from bad to worse, and I just want it to be done. It didn’t help that the last market was one of our slowest, despite the huge number of crowds. There were so many people out there, it was freshman move-in day, so there were students and parents everywhere, yet we didn’t sell that many dumplings.

There are more food choices at the market, several new vendors, so it could be a dilution effect. This is a good thing because it really makes us expendable. Normally you wouldn’t want this to transpire, but seeing that we don’t see a long term future in the doing dumplings, I feel better that the prepared foods front will do well without us. In fact, even S, the manager, doesn’t seem to mind if we can’t make it because she can easily replace us. Again, this doesn’t make us feel bad.

Looks like we’ll get to enjoy another weekend dumpling free. That is, of course, until next week. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jonathan Chasteen for the pic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taking the Plunge

I struggled and tortured myself over finding a good used hockey helmet for N. I thought I’d found a happy medium at the swap, but the helmet turned out to be too small, not to mention white instead of black. Plus, a helmet is an important piece of equipment, maybe that’s the one thing you should spend a little money on.

N is not a demanding kid, and he’s never made issue of the fact that his equipment looks like the end result of a yard sale. After searching high and low for the helmet of his dreams, I finally decided to take the plunge and go to Stateline Sports and buy him a new one. Truth be told, a new helmet costs under $50, and while you can get a used one for about $5, you often get what you pay for.

I won’t belabor this point, and I’m glad that he’s got a good helmet and hope he really loves hockey. Also the helmet is black and expires in 2017, so we have a good five years on this thing, especially since it’s adjusted to its smallest size. We can only go up from here. The guy at the store was super helpful, and did several adjustments and even replaced the cage so that the fit was perfect. It was a great experience overall, and I think N was happy about it.

At the very least I’m relieved that I don’t have to jump into the trenches and fight for used equipment. It’s dog eat dog out there, and the big Woodstock sale, where I’m guessing you can find amazing deals, was cancelled because of the flood. Total bummer. I’m still searching for a bag on wheels, but we’re in good shape for now.

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

Feeling Better

After their big sleepover, N came down with a bit of a cold, and he was not only feeling a bit sick, but he was terribly disappointed that he was going to miss ultimate frisbee. I was almost inclined to skip it myself, but A really wanted to go because her best friend, AH, was going to play, and I love UF myself. So, with great reluctance, we went to UF. It helped that N was sleeping when we left. For the record, UF wasn’t the same without him, and everyone was asking about him, but it’s better for him to get some rest and get healthy.

On that note, his cold lasted only about 24 hours, and by the next day, we was his old chipper self. We’re glad he’s feeling, and while getting sick is a part of being a kid, it’s just a complete bummer to see your kids not feeling well.

Oh well, nobody said being a parent was easy. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Billy Alexander for the pic.

Kicked in Karate

We had a great class the other night, a big turnout, and several of the higher belts were there. One of them, K, was testing for her 1st level brown belt, which is a step away from black. The class was really about her test, so we watched her perform the katas and one steps, and then the fun began.

K is a wicked fighter, she scares me, and sure enough, we all had a chance to spar with her. She not only has an amazing kick that can take your head off, but quick hands. I was humbled, and regretted that I was so out of practice. I’ll be more prepared next time... more prepared to take a beating, that is.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Missed It By That Much, Then Scored

I have been skiing on the same pair of used skis for about 6 years, and at times I toyed with the idea of getting new ones. Not new ones, but a different pair of used ones. Five years ago I bought a pair of used rental skis, and they have worked fine for me. I don’t think the type of ski makes that much of a difference. Even when I switched over to shaped skis, I didn’t feel that much of a difference.

Anyway, I figured I’d keep my eyes open for yard sales or a ski swap, maybe find a pair for $10-20. Well, as luck would have it, as I was driving the kids over to HH’s house, we passed a small yard sale with a pair of skis. Now I don’t know anything about skis these days, they all look the same to me, so I wouldn’t know a good deal if it slapped me in the face. After dropping the kids off, I stopped at the yard sale and checked out the skis. They were Volkls (German made - one thing I like about skis is they are generally not made in China) and were in decent shape, and only $15. They seemed to be more shapely than mine, and I found this to be true after taking some measurements. I’m not sure how this translates into performance, but it must mean something.

I didn’t have any money, and there were no people around - payment was by the honor system. I did, however, have to go back to HH’s to drop something off, so on the way, I stopped at the bank and got some cash. On my return trip, I was going to pick up the skis, but figured it would be easier to get them on the way home, which would be five minutes later. Well, wouldn’t you know it, on the way back, the skis were GONE! I was floored. I did notice a car in the driveway, and thought that maybe the owners had come home and taken the skis inside - it was about 7:00PM. I was going to knock on the door, but didn’t want to seem like a nutcase.

Bummed out and dejected, I went home, figuring it just wasn’t meant to be. After thinking about it all night, however, I resolved to go back and see if they put them back out there. Sure enough, the next day, I went back and the woman was actually out there putting the skis back on display. I was stoked. I chatted with her for a few moments, whereby she told me that they were top of the line skis (yeah, right) at one time but had a small ding on the bottom. I assumed anybody would give me that sales pitch, but figured she was a neighbor, so if it was really bad, I could always go back and give her a karate cop to the head.

I called Henderson’s to see if the ding was fixable, and they said most definitely. I brought them in and asked if it was worth it, and JH, the owner, said they are great skis, he recognized them. Good news, my neighbor was telling the truth. So I left the skis to get fixed and tuned up, and now I have a new pair of skis, all for $15. My kind of deal. Now I just have to figure out what to do with my old ones.

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

Hockey Sale

The big city hockey program had their annual equipment swap/sale, and it was dog eat dog. Don’t mess around with the urbanites. I’m just kidding, the swap is a great opportunity to get cheap used gear that is, for the most part, in pretty good shape. Our goal was to find a good helmet to N’s liking, and whatever other equipment we might need to replace.

Everything he is currently using we got for free from our good friend, KB. Thanks again to him, he saved our behinds. The one issue that has recently cropped up is his helmet, a key piece of equipment. We lucked out in that the one KB lent us fit. What are the chances of that? The problem is, and this sort of baffles me, the helmets have expiration dates. From what I can gather, they are designed to last about 5 years, and then they expire. I kind of thought this was ridiculous, but apparently some referees will check the date, and if they are expired, the kids can’t play. What a bummer.

The helmet seems perfectly fine to me, but one other small issue, and I know this is insignificant, but the helmet is blue. No big deal, right? The only thing is, he is the only kid with a blue helmet. Plus, we are the only family (when I say only, I mean ONLY) that doesn’t use a hockey equipment bag. I carry his stuff in a London Fog travel bag, and the stuff fits, but it does make me a little self conscious. Projection, maybe? N has indicated that he wouldn’t mind a hockey bag on wheels that he can cart on his own.

With this in mind, I set out to find two things at these used equipment sales - a black helmet that fits and is not expired, and an equipment bag on wheels. When I went to the big city sale, however, I screwed up and got there late. By late, I mean I wasn’t 30 minutes early, because the hockey parents are hardcore, and for good reason. The thing started at 9:00, and I didn’t want to seem fanatical, and got there around 9:30. Big mistake, because a lot of the good stuff was gone. I also suffered because I didn’t bring N, and he couldn’t try stuff on, so I had to wing it.

I will say this, the bargains were amazing. I guess everyone donates the old equipment, and I don’t think I saw anything for over $10. In fact, I managed to score a helmet (white, expires 2013) and a bag. The bags were all long gone by the time I got there, but I got totally lucky. A woman had come late to donate equipment, and as the guy in charge was looking through it and pricing it, I asked him, in front of her, if there were any more bags. He said they go fast, and the early birds got the worms. This woman felt pity on me, and said she could part with her bag, and I scored it for $4. Wow, I was feeling pretty lucky.

The only problem is, the helmet doesn’t fit N. What a drag, it’s a nice helmet, fairly new. Did I mention it expires in 2013? I just want to mention that N has never made a big issue of the bag or the helmet. He’s just happy to be playing, but it has crossed his mind, and he has said in passing that he’d like to have a hockey bag, and a black helmet. Again, he’s never complained or made a fuss, he just voiced his preference. Fair enough. I remember what it was like being a kid, and it’s hard when you are the lone wolf, the one kid who is different. I remember playing baseball in 5th grade and having cleats that could fit Shaquille O’Neal. It was embarrassing, but my parents couldn’t be bothered with my problems.

I hate to waste money, but sometimes in the quest to save money, you end up wasting more of it, not to mention time. On the bright side, the stuff only set me back $10, and somebody can use the helmet. Plus, we now have the bag.

For now, the quest continues. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Albin Axelsson for the pic.

The Big Sleepover

Last weekend on the spur of the moment the kids were invitedover to their buddy’s house for a sleepover. I love when events like this canhappen spontaneously because that never occurred when I was a kid, everythinghad to be a big deal with lots of planning, even just having a friend over. Myparents didn’t like having people over, but I’ll leave it at that.

We had spent our respective parent/child days out, and when we got home, therewas a message about the sleepover. The kids were thrilled, and we packed uptheir sleeping bags and brought snacks and a movie over, so they were all set.When I got back home, R and I suddenly had a free evening, and decided to throwa raging party, which for the likes of us meant eating a simple supper and thenwatching a movie with the volume turned up really LOUD. How’s that for livinglife to the fullest?

When we picked up A&N the next day, N seemed to havepicked up a little cold, and he wasn’t happy about that, especially since itmeant that he was going to miss ultimate frisbee. Total bummer, but he’sfeeling much better now.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Zip It Up

Even though we missed out on tennis, it gave us time to attend to a matter that I’d been putting for about a year. I have a coat from LL Bean that was only about two years old. It is without a doubt the coat I wear the most, light but warm enough to wear through December and most of January. The zipper on it started to fail, and I stopped wearing it thinking that it was done. I even got a replacement coat that was heavier but too big on me, though I wore it out of necessity.

Anyway, I figured I’d donate the old coat because except for the zipper, it was perfectly fine. The previous version of the same coat I had I used for about 15 years, I kid you not. Someone told me that if you take your coat to the dry cleaner they can fix zippers, but as usual I put it off for about a year, and finally decided to investigate. After calling around, it became clear that this was an urban myth, and the one place that said they could fix it said they send it out, and they couldn’t give me an estimate to how much it would cost. The jacket is not expensive, and I didn’t want to spend more than it cost.

Either way, since we missed tennis, I had time to consult a seamstress, or tailor, or whatever they’re called these days. She took one look at it and said it was too much for her machine to handle, then informed me that most people don’t have the machines to do it. She said take it back to LL Bean.

Now here’s the dilemma I originally faced, and I know it sounds ridiculous, but LL Bean has a policy where they guarantee all their products. I’ve returned shoes that I’d worn for a couple of years, and they gave me new ones. I feel guilty, I don’t want to take advantage. I didn’t want a new coat, I just wanted the zipper fixed. I figured if I went to the store, they’d give me a new one, which is a terrible waste. I know this sounds dumb, but that’s how I felt.

My options had run out, however, so I went to the store and asked if they could just fix it, and lo and behold, they said they could. I didn’t even have a receipt. She took the coat and sent it back to the factory, and said they’ll send it directly to our house. They did charge me $20, which I’m fine paying, but surprised me a bit. Not that I’m complaining.

I haven’t gotten the coat back, so it’s too early to celebrate, but at least it’s being dealt with, which is a lot better than collecting dust.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Guys Day Out

N started his golf lessons the other day, and it was a good opportunity for the boys and girls of the house to have their respective days together. A is always asking for a day out with mom, usually with no boys allowed, so N and I go out and do guy things. Male bonding at its best.

The lesson was over in W. Leb, which meant that at some point we’d get ice cream at Fore-U. A bonus if there ever was one. We also went to Stella’s for lunch, and I wasn’t famished so just had a bowl of soup, but N had a killer burger with bacon on it. I was jealous, it was so good.

We had a really early lunch, so we had time to burn. We headed out to look for stuff for the Winter. N still needs a light coat for Fall, so we hit both Listen Centers and found nothing he liked. He also needs shoes, but used shoes are a tough call. I think he’s better off with a reasonably priced pair of new ones.

We were early for the lesson, so we stopped at the pro shop and browsed around. Pretty amazing place, they do ski stuff, as well. Our friend, E, works there, so we chatted for a bit, and then watched a guy on the driving simulator. N was quite taken in by it all. We also looked at kid’s clubs, which they have plenty of, but let’s not ahead of ourselves.

N said he didn’t want to get ice cream until after the lesson, maybe because he didn’t want to lose focus. Instead, we got a bucket of balls and went to the driving range. N is a very athletic and coordinated kid, and I’m no expert, but his swing impresses me. I’ve never played golf, but I know some of the basics and tried to relay them to him. I worried a bit about teaching him the wrong things, but nothing his coach can’t rectify.

I also have to admit that hitting balls on the driving range is kind of fun. It sure beats miniature golf, though the kids would disagree. We met with PH at the driving range, and he worked with N on certain motion exercises, but soon realized that N had the motions down pat. He had N swing a bat and golf club at various objects, and said to me, and I quote, “We have ourselves a real golfer here.” I kind of new that, but would never have said as much.

PH said what R and I already kind of know - N has the physical ability and coordination that are important to play golf, but are really hard to teach. His swing is very good, and he has good hand-eye coordination in hitting the ball. Plus, N is very earnest and listens intently to what is being told to him and is a good learner.

Basically, he’s a jock. Now that he’s got some golf under his belt, who knows where we’ll go from here. Before we got ice cream, N wanted to do a round mini golf. How could I say no? After, we got mondo scoops of chocolate ice cream, then took the scenic route home.

It was late afternoon, so I still had time to mow the lawn. Life is good.

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

Local Market Picking Up

Things seem to picking up at the local market, though I think one of the farm vendors dropped out, which is unfortunate because he did a really nice job. However, more prepared food people are showing up, and there is even a hot grill with burgers and hot dogs. How cool is that?

I say this with joy because it makes me feel little less guilty about not being there. How shameless is that? My new honey source, however, seems to have dried up a bit, because every time I inquire about the stuff, they are out, and I get some excuse as to why they don’t have it. At some point you just give up.

Our friend MD also had her inaugural day at the market and I hope her pizza business went well. We bought two of them and they were really good. The idea is that she makes pies ready to cook, so all you have to do is heat them up at home. 10 minutes in the oven. We had pizza for supper, along with fresh tomatoes and olive oil, with lots of bread to sop up the extra oil. I feel so Euro.

The kids had fun at the market, they got to see all of their buddies, and it was a pretty happening scene. Of course, we stayed until it ended, making for a really long day, but everyone had fun, so it was it all okay. Plus, the weather has been beautiful, warm dry days and cool in the evening. New England Summer/Fall at its best.

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

Tennis Confusion

We went to our first day of tennis lessons and were foiled by misunderstanding. The funny thing is, I debated whether to ignore the instructions, but we decided to take the safe route and paid the price.

The lessons are over at Storr’s Pond, and when we got there, the road to the pond had a sign that said “Closed to Through Traffic.” I toyed with the idea of ignoring it and simply seeing how far we could get, but chickened out. We drove around and tried an alternate route, but that had a closed sign as well. We decided to bag tennis and go run errands in the big city.

Well, it turns out that the sign referred to the alternate route, and the actual road to the pond was open. They went ahead with tennis, and we missed out. Bummer, but then again, we got a lot done that we wouldn’t have otherwise because suddenly we had an extra hour.

Live and learn, as they say. I.e., don’t listen to what they tell you to do. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Billy Alexander for the pic.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More Good Vibes From Henderson’s

We are in the process of finallizing our ski equipment. We are pretty much set on the kid’s Alpine stuff, we just need to get N some gloves, and check clothes and helmets. They are outgrowing their Nordic stuff, however, and we had to make some adjustments.

Their skis are still the right size, but we scored A some boots at Henderson’s, and N can take over A’s old boots. Last season we had to upgrade N’s boots, and we got these really junky boots from our friend MB, who was nice enough to swap out, though in my opinion, he got the better of the deal because we essentially gave him a brand new boot for a larger piece of junk.

N was not happy with it, but didn’t complain. They worked, after all, but even I was aware that the thing looked like something out of the junk pile. This year he can wear a much nicer boot, which should also be more comfortable.

Anyway, they need new poles, as well. Poles for Nordic skiing are a completely different beast from Alpine. I downhill ski all the time without poles, you don’t really need them unless you do moguls. For Nordic skiing, however, poles are a must, and I think the fact that the kid’s poles are small is a disadvantage for them. They could use some help on their technique, but that will come with practice, and some new poles.

With that in mind, I went back to Henderson’s to see if they had some used Nordic poles for sale, and they probably rolled their eyes and said, “Not this cheap bastard again.” Of course, they didn’t, and I saw JH and he was cool like always. He said they were in the process of replacing their old stocks, and would have some old poles that we could actually cut to size. He even said he’d give them to me. I love when that happens.

Then again, new poles are not that expensive, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and pay full price... nah! We’ll see where this goes.

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

Helping Out

Our friend from work, MD, is a foodie and has aspirations to explore her passion. She toyed with the idea of doing the farmer’s market, but didn’t get much support from the folks in the big city. She talks to R all the time about food, and R mentioned the possibility of doing the local market, which is always looking for prepared foods. Plus, SI, who runs the local market, is the nicest person you’ll ever meet, and was supportive of the idea. MD’s idea is to make pizzas that are cooked and ready to take home to re-heat and eat. Sounds like a great idea to me.

I spoke with MD at the last market, and I told her that if she even had the slightest inclination to do this, then she should absolutely go for it. This is something I try to teach our kids: when in doubt, go for it and find out for yourself. Never let other people decide for you or discourage you from trying something, because you never know until you try, and there is nothing worse in life than saying, “What if?” or “I should have...”

Believe, me, I know all about that. So MD decided to go for it, we’re glad, and we’ll probably be there to be supportive and help out. I hope all goes well, but again, you never know until you try.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sarah Barth for the pic.

The Constant Search for Winter Clothes

The crazy thing about kids is that you feed them and continue to grow. Because of this, they constantly need new clothes, a constant source of consternation for parents, not only because of the financial aspect, but because it requires searching for the necessary items. You can never relax and just hope things will fall into place, because they never do without a little sweat on the part of mom and dad.

As anyone up here will tell you, this is especially true in New England, which requires stuff for every season. With Winter on the horizon, we have to think about snow gear. A got some new ski gloves at the Henderson’s sale, but they didn’t have N’s size, so we’ll have to keep looking for that. N also needs a light Fall/Winter coat. He has a heavy coat, but something when the weather turns brisk. I think A is all set in this department.

They both need shoes. I think the slip on mocs work great. Besides, they’ll wear shoes for about two to three months, then it’s time for snow boots. Speaking of which, they might need new snow boots, but we’ll have to investigate that further.

There sure is a lot to think about. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Irum Shahid for the pic.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Source of Honey

I’ve been buying raw honey at Stern’s, and it’s reasonably priced, but I found a new source, and it’s very local. One of the women at the local market has her own hives and sells quart jars of local, raw honey. It doesn’t get any more local than that. Plus, it's not expensive, and we can support the local market.

I realized that I should stock up for the Winter, because once the market ends, I’m not sure I can get it anymore. Then again, she’s our neighbor, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

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

Ready for Golf and Tennis

We’re living the country club life over here. When we lived in Quechee, I never envisioned us playing golf, though I’m a big fan of tennis. Either way, N is psyched about golf, and I think he’ll have fun with it. I’m curious to see what their approach will be, but at the very least, he’ll be able to whack golf balls, which he loves to do.

He made a makeshit golf club out of a fishing pole, and he hits ping pong balls all over the yard. He also has a curved pipe that he uses to hit real balls, and he and his sister even created a 7-hole golf course in our backyard. He designed it and A drew up the map. Clearly somebody has golf on the brain.

This should be good. If he gets into it, he can talk to his Grandad about golf, and maybe even go to the driving range with him. Our days of miniature golf may be coming to an end.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Quiet, Cozy Day at Home

We skipped the last market and ended up spending a nice, quiet day at home. We should do this more often. Then again, we are in the final stretch here, and I think there are only 4 or 5 more markets. We’ll suffer through these and then move on with our lives.

Our day at home was really nice, peaceful and productive in its own way, though sometimes when I get too ambitious with domestic projects, I get stressed out, but I’m working on that. The kids played together all day, and though by the end of it they were pretty worked up and energized, they did a wonderful job of entertaining themselves and using their imagination. I still attribute this to the fact that we don’t watch TV or play video games.

I ended up getting a lot of baking done, since it was raining cats and dogs outside and I couldn’t really do a lot of real-man work. I opted for the Martha Stewart approach and made bread, cookies, apple cake, and cauliflower casserole. At one point I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the library, and they said no, they were too busy having fun at home. How cool is that?

Even still, it’s been raining for a few days straight, we could use a break in the weather. I, for one, could use some sunshine, but that’s just me.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skipping Out

Not that this took much coercing, but we skipped the big city market this week because of the weather. Now bear in mind, this is a double whammy in terms of positive attributes, because not only did we not have to deal with being at the market in the pouring rain, but now we are stocked up with dumplings for next week, meaning that we won’t have to go through the torture of making them all weekend. Wow, my outlook sure improved.

We did wrestle with the decision, however, because of the same reasons as always - we don’t want to disappoint our customers, we don’t want to piss off S, who has tore us a new one in the past, and finally, we feel it’s important to finish something you’ve started and man up to your responsibilities.

Having said that, the weather was supposed to be awful, which it was. The forecast called for rain all day, heavy by the afternoon. This meant setting up the tent in the rain, cooking dumplings in the rain, and trying to serve customers... you guessed it, in the rain. Talk about a bummer. The situation is aggravated by the fact that our tent leaks, and it’s not big enough to shelter customers, who stand on the edge and have water pouring down onto them. The dumplings get wet, we get wet, and then, at the end of the day, we have to break down the tent in the rain and load all the wet gear into the car.

Say no more. I was ready the night before to call it off, but we decided to wait until morning to decide. When we woke up, it was pouring, and that pretty much sealed the deal. Feeling guilty and all, I first checked with some of the other vendors, and some were going, others were not. At that point, it didn’t matter, I had set my mind to the fact that we were not going to do dumplings, and that sure felt good. There’s a message in there somewhere. Besides, with the pouring rain, no customers come out, and you literally sit around doing nothing while you get soaked. It’s torture for the kids.

And as I mentioned, we have all of our dumplings still in the freezer, so we are dumpling free this weekend. How cool is that? We should skip the market more often.

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

Full Service Supper

The kids were inspired to make supper the other night, and I’m not sure where it all came from, but they did a fantastic job. It started with A, who said that she wanted to make soup. Now I wasn’t privy to the conversation, but she and R brainstormed and perused the cookbooks and came up with minestrone soup. We had many of the ingredients, but not all of them, so she and R went to P/C to get the rest.

We had a busy day, so the plan was to make soup for supper. We got some crusty bread, and with the leftover parsley, N made chimmichurri, which is this killer olive oil and vinegar dip from Argentina. We also made a wheat berry salad.

Now I wasn’t sure how much of the work was going to fall onto my shoulders, but truth be told, the kids did a wonderful job, and did a lot of the work themselves. Certain things, like chopping with a big knife, I wasn’t about to let them do, but with everything else, they were fine.

The meal was amazing, and they even set the table and folded the napkins and lit candles. It was too cute for words. Were we feeling unworthy? Of course, but what else is new?

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

Preparing for Fall and a Return to KR

Our schedules are going to get a little crazy, we have mountains of activities, so we are thinking of cutting back on some of them. Now that school is in, there is school drama that A wants to do, and she will continue with piano with JB as well as karate, which I had incorrectly assumed she was done with. We will start up with tennis in about a week, and in the coming months both of the kids will have robotics classes. As soon as the snow starts to fall, we’ll break out the skis - yahoo!

We are fairly well prepared in this area, and hopefully won’t have to scramble for equipment as we have in years past. Thanks a bunch to Henderson’s, I love that place. N will begin hockey in the next month, which I think has a crazy schedule. He will continue with drums, and has indicated an interest in bongos, which will be fun. He’ll be doing tennis, as well, and in an interesting twist, wants to try out golf.

This is a new development, and one I wasn’t sure how to deal with. As it turns out, the local driving range actually offers golf lessons. I initially learned about it though Hartford Rec Center, but their timing is in conflict with us. I called the golf center and for about the same price he can get individual lessons, so I think we’ll go in that direction. This should be interesting.

Anyway, as I mentioned, some things may have to be put on hold, and for A, that means we’re going to take a break from guitar. She’s not going to stop, just her lessons with EE will stop after this month, and she’ll play on a more casual basis with our old friend KR. We discussed this and worked out a way that the two of them can play so A doesn’t lose her feel for playing guitar. That would be a shame, because guitar is cool, and every kid wants to be cool.

Since school is in, we’ll also have library story hour, and CH is putting together a book club for older kids, so A would enjoy that. I think they’ll put together skating, but that’s always hard to make it to, so we’ll see about that.

Together with school and home life, we have a pretty busy season ahead of us, which is how we like it. The market will continue for about a month and a half, and personally I think that’s a month and a half too long, but what are you going to do?

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ultimate Frisbee Goes On, Albeit Shorter

There was some debate as to whether or not we’d have ultimate frisbee, but when we went out there, sure enough, the crew was warming up. It’s a great site to see people out there ready to play, because we love UF. It was still a bit in the aftermath of Irene, and rain was forecast for the entire weekend. It was cloudy, but the rain had subsided early in the day, so we had hope. By evening, we were excited and ready. Again, when we pulled into the field, we were stoked to see people out there tossing the frisbee around.

It was nice because it was mostly kids, so everyone got to be involved. I think the 20 year old pros are all back in college, so old men like me don’t have to run as hard. It gives the young kids a chance to play more, and it makes it easier on the geriatric crew that suffers from various bone ailments.

It was fun, and I still got to run around a lot and feel like I’m getting some exercise. And, there were a bunch of new people, so the crowd grows. At some point, the clouds rolled in and we started to see lightning, and the decision was made to call it quits. The timing was just right, because we got home and the thunder and lightning really kicked into high gear, so much so that we actually lost power and went to bed with no electricity.

Never a dull moment on this end. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Matthew Maaskant for the pic.

More Rain

We’ve been getting quite a bit of rain in the past couple of weeks, and the timing is not good. In the aftermath of Irene’s devastation, the last thing we need is more rain and flooding. The state is taking a beating. A few days back there were flash flood warnings, and now the forecast is calling for heavy rains, on market day, no less. We’ve been getting limited sunshine, and cooler weather has set in. It really feels like Fall out there.

With this in mind, I personally think we should bail out on the market. Not only will business be slow, but it’s such a drag setting everything up in the rain, not to mention crowding under the tent in the rain, and then breaking everything down in the rain. It’s just wet and miserable.

I hate to be a flake and skirt our responsibilities, but there’s a point when you just have to ask yourself if it’s really necessary, and for that matter, worth it.

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

Dahlia Festival

Last weekend was the annual Dhalia Fest that our good friends and neighbors JM and NT put together. It’s such a nice party, and everyone had a great time. The food was good, great people to mingle with, and the show was a lot of fun, mainly because we got to watch A perform. There was a threat of rain, but we weren’t going to let that stop us from having a good time.

I do have to confess, however, that large crowds give me a bit of pause in terms of relaxing and enjoying myself. It reminds me so much of college and being in the frat, though the people are so much nicer. I just wander from group to group, looking for someone to chat with, nursing a beer. R had things to do at home, and I know she struggles with the same issues, so I was on my own. If she had been there, we could have sequestered ourselves in a corner and survived that way, but I was solo. That’s what food and drink are for, right?

The kids had a blast because there were a bunch of other kids there, and A was thrilled because she got to be on stage, and I think she’s a bit taken in by the whole celebrity thing. Her friends are very supportive, and it’s cute to see them get excited by the whole event. Most of the kids got up there and either performed a skit or sang a song, and I was impressed to no end by that fact. That’s pretty courageous for young kids, I admire that.

The show went late, ending about 10:00PM, and then the rest of the performers (they were mostly adults and young adults) went to the pond for a bonfire and swim, which our kids and most of the others wanted to take part in, but we said thanks, but no thanks. It was way past my bedtime.

What a nice evening, though a late one. My tired old bones can’t handle all this debauchery, and I wonder how I ever pulled it off when I was younger.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Take It Back

It’s funny how the world works. Right after the massive flooding that has really devastated certain regions of this state, I commented on this blog how I hadn’t heard from either my mom or my brother. We are not incommunicado, but I rarely hear from them. A good example is they never make contact on R and my birthdays, nor the kids, but don’t get me started on that.

It’s complicated, I admit, but I just assume that’s the way things are. Even in lieu of their silence, I still send them birthday and holiday greetings, and A keeps in touch with her cousin. I also send updates to my mom about our lives, especially the kids.

Anyway, after Irene, I’d heard from several concerned friends about our condition, and we were in relatively good shape. We lost electricity, and some trees fell, but nothing like people living near the rivers. I assumed that I wouldn’t hear from my brother and mom, and then sure enough, both of them contacted me. My mom sent me an email and even offered support if we needed it. What really floored me was that my brother called and left a message. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t heard from him in what seems like years.

Just goes to show you, life is full of surprises. That and the fact that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

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