Monday, February 28, 2011

Had to Ask

Okay, I know I said if I were asked if I wanted more snow, I’d say yes, but I also mentioned that it’d be nice to have some time in-between. Here we are, two days after the big one, getting another big load. I’m thrilled at the prospect of playing in the snow, but first we have to take care of business, and that means dad’s gotta start shoveling, and sooner than later.

The fun never stops at our house. I am looking forward to hitting the slopes, however, once the shoveling is taken care of, we can focus on the important things, like having fun, especially on top of the snowdrifts.

Until then, thanks for reading.

3-2-1... We Have Liftoff

I finally managed to get my website (phredude.com) up and running, though it is definitely a work in progress. It will go through many incarnations in the next few weeks. The most important thing is that I went through the rigmarole of getting the address set up and then having the guys at Go Daddy walk me through the logistics of making it go live.

For the record, Go Daddy has amazing customer service, not something you would expect from one of the biggest internet providers around. They were helpful, accessible, and spoke perfect English. I never had to wait to get through, though I probably called during off-peak hours.

Either way, it took me quite a while to get this thing up and running. First I had to learn the design software, which was pretty straightforward and easy (?) with the Mac, which has its own internal web software, iWeb. The hardest part for me was to write up some of the bio pieces. What the heck are you supposed to say in these things?

I’d found the best approach was to just go for it. Rather than worry about how it looks and where things should go, just throw things together and then worry about the details. The same approach works in writing. It is imperative that you write what Ann Lamott refers to as the “sh_tty first draft” and then go back and fine tune it. For many of us, it is the only way that writing, and many things in life, get done.

I also wanted to mention that it was extremely difficult finding someone who would help me get this done. In fact, it was non-existent. Just finding people who knew web design was hard, but once you located them, not a single one of them had the time, or maybe the desire, to lend me a hand. It sort of boiled down to money, which I understand on some level, but on another, I wasn’t asking them to donate an organ. I just had some questions.

The people who knew what they were doing charged the big bucks, on the order of hundreds of dollars, even thousands. If I had gone that route, I’m sure the site would have looked more professional with all sorts of bells and whistles, but I don’t need all that stuff. At least not yet. In all fairness, I did get a lot of free advice from a homeschool mom, JG, who was always available to answer my questions. She’s a professional designer, though, and has better things to do with their time.

In the end, I spent weeks tweaking the site, just getting things in place and positioning them so that they looked okay. Then I had to learn how to do things like make links and important photgraphs. There are still a few things I need to learn, like setting up RSS feeds and properly inserting HTML snippets, but for now, I have the barebone essentials for a website.

I am not completely thrilled with the appearance, I think it needs more color, but again, it’s a work in progress, and will continue to morph over the next month or two. For now, it will do the trick, and I can embark on this new adventure that I fondly refer to as my glorious freelance writing career.

That, or lose my mind trying. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to RIC for the pic.

Snow Day

With the big snowfall, school was canceled, and along with it a number of activities that are associated with academia. This includes A’s rehearsal, as well as story hour at the library. Pottery was postponed as well, but for sickness reasons, so our busy Friday schedule came a grinding halt.

This was not a bad thing, however, because A&I called and wanted A&N to come over and play in the snow, which they did for several hours while I slaved away in the frozen tundra. We were planning on making pizza that night, so we invited them over for supper, but they had other plans, so more pizza for us. The kids came back in the afternoon, and by that time, they were a little beat, as we all were. R got a little crazy and went for a snowshoe trek in the fresh powder, though she hinted that it would have been easier to have just walked in her boots. Personally, I’m not that enamored with snowshoeing, I’d just as soon take a walk, but that’s just me.

We sat down to a pizza feast, and thanks as usual to DR for the pizza stone, and then had family movie night and watched Spy Kids, which was a cool movie and inspires the kids to practice martial, except that they do it on each other and right before bedtime.

Oh well, what are you going to do? Thanks for reading, and thanks to RIC for the pic.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Had Enough?

With the roads posted and the days getting longer, it’s easy to think that Winter is on the way out and Spring is in the air. While this may be the case, it doesn’t mean that we’re done with snow, happily so. Case in point: we had a pretty major snowstorm yesterday, and it all fell so quickly that by noon, when I finally went out to shovel it, there was at least 12 inches to deal with, if not more. Now I know how much I go on about how we love snow, but this last storm almost did me in.

I don’t know what was different this time, maybe because I’m still recovering from a cold, but shoveling was quite a chore, and our plow man didn’t come til later in the day. When he did, I got a sense he was busy or running late, because it was sort of a sloppy job, with big piles left on the driveway which yours truly had to go and clear away, thus adding to my burden.

By the time I cleared off the cars, I was pretty much spent, and I still had to shovel the walkway to the wood, and it was still snowing. For the first time this Winter, I was relieved when the snow stopped, and I have to confess, I was thinking to myself that I wouldn’t have been disappointed if it stopped for the rest of the day. It didn’t.

When I finally got it done, I was sweating bullets. Luckily, it was a nice day, not too cold, so I wasn’t suffering, and at least I got a good workout out of it. Plus, it looks so beauiful after a big snowfall, and the XC trails will have new life, so I can’t complain... uh, too late.

KB came back later to touch up the driveway. It always freaks me out a big to see his big headlights coming down the driveway late at night. AND, if you asked me if I still wanted to get more snow, my answer would definitely be yes, with maybe a few days in-between to recover.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hockey Miscommunication

They have a young kid’s hockey program over in Woodstock, but the season started months ago and is winding down. In fact, there are only a couple of weeks left. I figured that even though the end was near, it would be good for N to at least go out and see what they go and at least get a sense of whether or not it’s something he’d like. I think he will, mainly because he’s a good skater and a good athlete.

I spoke with the guy in charge and the program is ongoing, which I took to mean that people can come and go at any point during the program. They do practices on certain nights, and last night was one of them, so I took the kids out there to watch. I wanted to see what the skill level was, and to find out if we could get the last of the equipment that we needed.

Well, there was some miscommunication, because there was no practice that night. Normally they do meet at that time, but the schedule had changed just for last night, and he forgot to mention it. He felt bad and I don’t begrudge him for it because he’s a great guy, I’ve had many dealings with him. The only bummer is that we’ve got to wait about two weeks to get a glimpse of the action, but during that time, we can practice on the local rink and keep an eye out for more gear, so it’s all good.

Also, V, the man in charge, commented that the thought N was ready because, in his words, "I've seen him skate, he's ready." It made the trip worthwhile.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Patti Gray for the pic.

The Quest for Hockey Gear, Part 2

In the search for hockey gear, I contacted our old friends the Bs and did KB ever come through for me. What a guy. He used to coach his kid’s ice hockey teams so he was stocked, though he said he unloaded a bunch of hockey gear in the fall, so I missed out.

He was still able to set us up nicely, and am I ever grateful for that. Hockey takes an incredible amount of gear, it’s a little crazy, especially for the little kids. We’re talking all sorts of pads (knee, elbow, shoulder), special pants and socks, helmet, a jock (I passed on borrowing that one), and even shorts that for whatever reason go over the pants. What sort of fasion statement is that?

The one area where we were having a problem was with the helmet. Like me, N has a slightly bigger head than your average kid, so almost every helmet we tried was too small. KB lent me two of them and N said they were too tight. Bummer. I tried two from the rec center and they were too small, as well.

So, after lunch, I dragged the kids all over town in search of a used helmet, and completely struck out. Nobody had any in stock, the season is so far along, almost over, in fact, that most places have sold out of hockey gear. I even went to Stateline Sports and they were running out of stock, as well. Plus, the helmets were expensive, over $100 each, which struck me as ridiculous when you consider that kids wear them for one season and then outgrow them. One of the salespeople even commented that they were expensive.

However, the trip was not a complete bust. When N was trying on the helmets at Stateline, I noticed that the guy was able to adjust the width a bit, and then the light bulb went off in my head. The helmets that KB lent me were adjustable, too. When we got home, I loosened them up, and sure enough, one of them fit.

How cool is that? We are almost complete, we just need a jock and some shin pads, which I’m guessing won’t set us back too much if we get them new, not like buying all the gear. Now we just have to find a hockey program so that N can get some ice time, and I think we have an idea where to look.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Quest for Hockey Gear, Part 1

Since I got the hockey bug in me, I can’t let it go until we’re fully equipped. It’s my OCD that drives R crazy, but sometimes that’s the best way for things to happen. As I mentioned, we saw some friends of N who were just coming from hockey practice, and I remember when these guys were learning to skate and N could skate circles around them. N has mentioned on a number of occasions that he’d like to play hockey, but it’s a rather complicated process.

First off, you need ice, and there is a fair amount of equipment involved, all of it expensive. We have skates and sticks, which isn't enough, and I don’t want to go out and buy all this stuff and then have him decide he doesn’t like it. Also, the season is winding down, and he’ll outgrow all of this stuff by next Fall.

So, I am currently on a mission. I contacted people I know whose kids play hockey, and even talked to the guys at the rec center. They let me borrow a helmet, but it turned out to be too small. I have a few more options to exercise, so we’ll see where this goes. Practice is tonight, and the coordinator suggested we come and just have a look. There are only about two weeks left, so it may not be worth engaging, but at least we can get an idea. Then there’s summer camp, and then hockey begins again in the Fall.

This should be interesting. Another parental adventure awaits us, and more fodder for this blog.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Waiting for phredude

I have faith this website will one day go live if I can just get my act together, which for the likes of me is no sure thing. It is about 95% complete, I just need to figure out a couple of things, and talk to the domain company. They also provide hosting, which I thought I had, but found out that I made a mistake that I need to rectify. The longer I wait, the more money is wasted on my domain name sitting idle, plus the fact that it holds up my glorious freelance writing career.

I had brought my computer to pottery because BL’s son, ML, is a computer whiz, and he is also making a website for BL. I see him there every time we’re there, and he’s a super nice and helpful guy. Of course, the one day when I bring my computer, he’s not there, but there’s always next week.

Either way, I have questions, but I also contacted GoDaddy and just wanted to mention that they have great customer service

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bitten by the Hockey Bug

We were in Hanover the other day and ran into some friends from town who were just coming from hockey practice. They were kids that played t-ball with N, and the father was talking about how the boys were playing hockey and were getting into it. I remember when the boys were learning to skate, and recall that N skated circles around them. Of course I got to thinking that we need to get N into some hockey gear.

For the record, this is something he has said he’d like to do, and I really think he could do it, but time will tell.

Anyway, hockey is a bit of a pain, because there is so much equipment involved. I thought we’d just need a helmet and some skates, but the guys over at rink said in addition to a helmet, he’d need pants, as well as knee and shin pads. There were some other things, but at some point I simply tuned out because the list was wearing me down.

First off, the season is almost over. Second, N is going to grow out of anything he wears right now. Third, we’re not even sure if he’s going to like it, though I think he will. My feeling is we can’t torture ourselves over the possibilities, but rather should at least give it a go and not suffer the hell of living our lives immersed in the what-ifs. It’s a terrible way to be.

With this in mind, I am currently in the process of searching for equipment that I can borrow and buy on the cheap. Fortunately, young kids equipment turns over fairly quickly, so we might get lucky. I’ve already made some calls, so we’ll see where this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Albin Axelsson for the pic.

We Love Whaleback!

Why ski anywhere else? We love Whaleback, what a great hill. Good terrain, not too big and not too small, good terrain park (N's favorite), and a really hip mountain. It seems to cater to that skater/snowboard set, and there are some talented people on that hill. It’s amazing to watch. I think it inspires N a bit to go a little crazy, he really loves going off jumps, and he’s good, even if it gives me gray hairs.

Anyway, they had this amazing deal yesterday called Vegas Tuesdays. You roll two dice and the total number is what you pay for lift tickets. We paid $24 for all three of us. That’s cheaper than one kid’s ticket at S6. Amazing. The guy in front of us rolled a 4, and was he ever stoked.

Whatever be the case, Whaleback is definitely a great hill, cool and hip, not as stuffy as other ski hills we go to. They definitely got it down in terms of having a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Plus, they have great meal deals, and they make killer food like waffles and stuff. I think we’ll be going there more often.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Fran GambĂ­n for the pic.

A SAHD’s Worst Nightmare

So I managed to go out and do what every stay at home parent’s worst nightmare is and get sick. Something may be going around, because my friend and his son from karate were sick and didn't attend, and then I started to feel something after class. I could tell something was wrong because I was really tired. Granted, I’m always tired, but this time it was unusual, you can tell when something’s amiss.

The next day, I could tell a cold was brewing, and I had to make a decision. Stay at home and nurse myself back to good health, or go skiing at Whaleback in sub-arctic conditions. Of course I opted for the latter. The way I see it, if I’d stayed home and took care of myself, I would have gotten sick anyway. It always works out that way, once you get it, you can’t magically get rid of it.

I figured I might as well go out and do what I want to do rather than what I’m supposed to do. Take it from a person who has done what he’s supposed to do all his life in lieu of what he wanted to do, it never works out like you expect it to. This applies to many things in life

Either way, the kids were excited, and they had this amazing deal at the slopes that just couldn’t be passed up, so we went. I didn’t feel great, but good enough to have a great time. Today I’m feeling a bit further along but really not that bad, a fact that I attribute to vitamin C and zinc lozenges. Don’t ask me why, but I believe in zinc for colds, even though the stuff is kind of nasty.

We were thinking of trying to ski again on Thursday, but that may be a bit too much, especially since N has a dentist’s appointment. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Daily - A Great New Source for News

I was in the library the other day reading the newspaper, when it dawned on me that print media is really riding off into the sunset, having taken a serious backseat to digital media, and I guess I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, being the old man that I am, I can’t envision a world without print media, especially when it comes to books or a well-written article in a magazine. There’s something to be said about holding a story in your hand and being able to jump back and forth throughout the story, but it’s the same old song and dance as other nostalgic types. Our time in heaven may be coming to an end.

On the other hand, getting news and information on the web is a great thing because, in addition to being easily accessible, I can get most of my news in quick and concise bits that make it a breeze to skim through. It’s also in real time, so the news is updated constantly.

With this in mind, I was just recently turned on to a new site for news and information, the Daily. It’s not a simple blog site that where aspiring writers report on the day’s events, these writers are the real deal. We’re talking seasoned journalists, and the whole site has the support of a major news organizations.

The Daily’s content is all driven by way of the iPad, which is in line with what seems to be the direction we’re heading, though I’m not sure if I’m ready to make that leap just yet. Fortunately, you don’t need an iPad, so I can get by with my archaic MacBook (I know, I'm a dinosaur) while dreaming of one day being current and up to date. Then again, iPads are pretty affordable, aren’t they?

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

African Food and Making Chutney

We were having African food for supper and decided to get a little crazy and make African flat bread, chapati. It’s super easy, and because there’s no yeast, you just make the dough and fry it up in a bit of oil. Easy.

We do a whole wheat version, and the kids love it, especially with chutney. We had a jar of Harmony Farm’s rhubarb chutney, and let me tell you, the stuff is to die for. Simply amazing. The only problem is, we can only get it in the Summer, so by the time the jar was empty, we were out of luck.

Being the go-getters that we are, we decided to take matters in our own hands and make the stuff. Piece of cake, right? Well, sort of. The recipes that we had all involved canning protocol, and I was most definitely not up for that.

However, as anyone any experience in the kitchen knows, all recipes were meant to tweaked and modified, and this was no different. Sure, it might not come out exactly as the author intended, but that’s what makes it personal and unique. When you add your own destructive tendencies to the mix.

The recipe we had was for apply chutney, and the only problem was we didn’t have any apples, which is unusual for our household. I did, however, have some frozen peaches that I’d saved in the freezer, so we used those, instead. I probably should have cut back on the sugar a bit since the peaches are frozen with sugar, but no biggie. We cooked up the mix, put it in clean jars and just kept them in the fridge. I figure as long as we eat them within a month, they should be fine, employing the sniff test before eating, of course.

The chutney came out great, everyone loved it with the whole wheat chapati, and we also had curried cauliflower stew with couscous. I love it when we can pull of the genuine vegetarian meal (high on the K&A scale) it’s a challenge making something the kids will devour.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

More Crazy Weather

I really don’t know what to make of this weather, though I guess it’s en par for the course in Vermont. We went skiing late last week, and the weather was amazingly warm. Too warm, dare I say. I think it was verging on the 50s. We were down to two t-shirts when we skied, and even then, it was warm. The snow was soft, and it allowed us to go gangbusters down the hill. It was fun, though Quechee is a small hill that we’ve skied so many times that it is a bit familiar, though I wouldn’t go as far as to call it boring, as some people have. The nerve.

Anyway, the next day, it was even warmer, and we even got a little drizzle. All of our beautiful snow is going, going, gone. Oh well, Spring is in the air. Just to add to the fun, the day after that, the temps dropped back down to the low teens and the wind kicked up to hurricane force gales, knocking down everything that wasn’t tied down, including our skis on the side porch which ended up all over the place. It was a little scary, and I was expecting to see trees coming down. I’m surprised we didn’t lose electricity for a long time, which is a testament to CVPS.

Our driveway and the roads, not to mention the trails, looked like war zones, with branches and debris covering them. Rather unsightly, I might say, but nothing a little snow won’t cover up. The biggest challenge is that all the melted snow has now turned back to ice, making things slippery and dangerous, though I guess it depends on your POV, or should I say, age? The kids think it’s great, and love sliding around, while I look at it as a disaster just waiting to happen. Isn’t getting old the great tragedy of our existence?

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Skiing at Quechee

They have this great deal to ski at Quechee, and it ends this week, so we figured we’d give it a go. There were several factors motivating us, one of which was this deal. You get discounted day passes, something we never get (we always do half-days or end of days, it’s more affordable) along with $5 vouchers off lunch. Say no more, sign us up.

Also, the weather is really strange, and it’s supposed to rain later in the week, then freeze up again. Kind of bummer, but such is life in Vermont. We spent the morning doing our school work and then cleaning up and making beds. I loaded up the car and we hit the slopes.

First off, I was amazed at how empty the hill was. There were literally 10 people there, including us. Normally this is a good thing, but I think it’s good to have at least a few people out there. Otherwise, it gets kind of strange and lonely, but that may be due to the fact that I’m such a social butterfly. Also, it was so warm, and we all took off our coats. I was skiing with a sweatshirt over my t-shirt and thermals, and even that was warm. The snow was soft as powdered sugar, which slowed us down a bit but also emboldened us to really go for it, and go for it we did.

We also saw our friends, the Es, as well as our long lost friends the Ks, all home schoolers. The kids all skied together for a bit before we headed to the lodge and had lunch. I spoke to DE about the possibility of racing for A&N, and we’ll talk more about that later. The Es had to go, so we hung out with the Ks and I caught up with SK, who I haven’t seen in years. Strange.

We went back to the skiing and literally closed the runs. The hill closes at 4:00, at which time the ski patrol rides the chair and are the last ones up and down. We managed to squeak in right before them, so that was kind of cool. One more run to finish the day. The lodge was closed, so we got some cocoa at the Jiffy Mart, then home to make supper to end a beautiful day.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Retrieving Ski Poles and Shocking Ski Revelations

Like a big dork that I am, I left N’s ski poles at S6 the last time we were there, and thus began the issue of trying to retrieve them. S6 is a bit of a trek out to Pomfret, and N never uses his poles. He and I both ski without them, though on heavy-moguls I need mine. Also, I could have also picked up a used pair for $5.

Either way, I wanted to get them back, they were his, regardless of whether or not he wanted them or was going to use them. So, we piled into the car and headed on over. The kids played on the massive snow drift (the thing is 15 feet high) while I went over to the lodge.

The hill was happening, all the VT/NH kids on break, and the place was packed. I even saw the Ps who said hi to N and A. What really nice kids. All sorts of children attend ski camp because parents have to work and school is on break. Anyway, I inquired about the poles and the woman went downstairs and retrieved them. Boy was I glad.

Happily reunited, we headed off to run some dreaded errands, but I had this idea of looking for some clear ski goggles. Now that I’m an old man, I can’t see as well with tinted lenses in the shade or on dark, cloudy days. I thought clear lenses would be nice, so we stopped at the ski shop. I was amazed at how expensive those things are. The guy at the counter was showing me pairs that were $150-175. That’s nuts. What good could possibly come from a $100 pair of ski goggles?

We browsed around at the skis, and the prices shocked me again. There were pairs that were upwards of $1000. Again, is a $1000 pair of skis going to change your life any more than a $200? I think not. I’ve been skiing for over 35 years and believe me when I tell you that all that money isn’t going to change your skiing, or for that matter, your life. It only going to gives you something to brag about when you’re hanging out with a glass of merlot in your chalet. Then again, that’s often what it’s all about, marketing gear and toys as a substitute for life itself, and clearly it works. That, and buying your kids affection in place of your time and attention, but don’t get me started.

We left immediately, happy that we’d retrieved our $5 poles.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ready to be a Karate Man

Seemingly out of nowhere, I scored a punching bag, and now I’m ready to start working towards being a trained machine of destruction. At the very least, it will help me to get into shape and at least work on some basic fundamentals that I’ll need when I test for my next belt, whenever that may be.

I’ve noticed that I definitely need to spend more time working on my footwork as well as my conditioning. When we spar, I’m still tentative, and by the end of one round, pretty winded, and once you start struggling for breath, it is the beginning of the end. Which is fine when you’re just sparring for fun, but if, heaven forbid, it became a real life situation, then you really need to be prepared. This is how my mind works. It’s amazing I ever survived puberty.

Either way, now that I’ve got the bag, I can train in greater earnest, and at the very least, practice more techniques. After all, the foundation of what we’re learning is based on instinct and reaction, and less on thinking about what you’re going to do. This is only achieved through practice and repetition, so your body knows exactly what it needs to do without your mind consciously telling it what to do. In many ways, you become a machine, capable of mass destruction on the human race... uh, sorry, I got a little carried away there.

Either way, I’m excited to have the bag. BS and NS brought to class for me (much thanks, BTW), and I’m not sure if I’m borrowing, renting, or buying it, but whatever be the case, I’ve got it to use, so I’d better use it.

Otherwise, a certain somebody will most certainly have some choice words for me, none of them complimentary.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Ski Crazy

We have been doing a lot of skiing the past couple of weeks, though we don’t shamelessly gloat about it like some people we know because we feel bad that mom has to go to work while we’re out having fun, so we keep it low key. Though she doesn’t like Apline skiing, and she probably wouldn’t have fun watching the kids fly down the mountain like they do (it even gives me gray hairs), that’s not the point. Either way, we wouldn’t go without her blessing.

What makes it great this year is that we’ve tried some new places, adding to the range of our experiences, not to mention the collection of lift tickets on the kid’s jackets. I remember being a kid and thinking it was cool having a wide array of tickets, and people do check them out and see where you’ve been. I know, it’s a bit juvenile and petty, but what are you going to do?

As I mentioned, we finally made it to Suicide 6, and went back for more. It’s nice to see our old Waldorf brethren, and we got to meet up with our good friends, the H’s. I think it’s great for the kids to ski with their friends and not have to hang out with their boring old dad, who is becoming more and more of an embarrassment. This also frees me up to ski wherever I want to go, though N seems to think of this as a challenge for him to “boldly go where no man has gone before.”

This past week, we also overcame our fears and skied the black diamond at S6, Show-Off, the same one that broke us last time. I brought my poles, and it sure made a big difference. The first time down, I only fell once, albeit pretty dramatically, so much so that the woman on the chair asked me if I was okay. I was. The second time down, no falls. You should have seen N, he breezed right through the moguls, and it helped that the powder was not as deep. A good day at S6, and A got to ride up with her friends, so she didn’t feel abandoned or left out. I made a big blunder, though, and left N’s poles at the lodge. He never uses them, but they’re his poles, so I have to get them.

We also skied at Whaleback for the first time, and what a fun hill that was. They have all sorts of deals, and it’s a really hip ski hill, you can tell they cater to the young and the restless. It’s all so surfed/skateboarded out. I felt the urge to say “dude” all the time. Also, there were by far the best skiers I’ve seen on a hill. These guys were amazing, not to mention the snowboarders. They literally tore up the mountain.

The kids loved Whaleback, and it was easier to get to the than the Skiway, which involves this circuitous route on this horrible road. We love the skiway, but man is it easy getting to Whaleback, right off the highway. I’ve noticed that with the exception of Quechee, all of the resorts are north facing, which I guess helps preserve the snow, but man does it get cold.

Good thing we have out hand/toe warmers. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Night Skiing and More Good Experiences with CSN

I’ve had a lot of good experiences with CSN Stores, and in addition to their stellar customer service, they have a wide range of products to choose from and great deal of variety. Case in point, headlights. We were at the Tiki Torch Trek and noticed that a lot of people were skiing with headlights, which weren’t critical but sure were helpful in seeing your way. The torches only go so far.

R likes to XC ski at night, and she went out with our little headlight and found it almost adequate, but not quite. So, I went over to the CSN site and did a search for headlamps, and several of them came up. I chose what I thought to be a reasonably powerful one, and ordered it.

And just like that, they arrived. I also got free shipping. You can’t beat CSN for customer service, they do a great job and make shopping a breeze, plus they have a good selection of a number of items that I’m looking for. Glad to have them as a place to shop.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Feeling Unworthy, Again

We celebrated Valentine’s Day with the kids in Franconia, and it also happens to be our anniversary. The kids made these really nice Valentine’s for us, that doubled as anniversary mementos. They were so thoughtful and nice.

A made these wonderful cards with clever poems inside, along with our names shaped from pipe cleaners. And N made this box with the symbols inside depicting “Peace, Love and Happiness,” though in reverse order.

They also made these nice cards using some sort of layering technique that makes the shape of a heart. Just another instance of how I feel unworthy of having such great kids, but don’t get me started.

I have to admit, when the put the time in and make something thoughtful for a special occasion, it means that much more to R and I. How can you not love it?

Hope you all had a nice Valentine's Day, and thanks for reading.

Happy Anniversary

We had a really nice time in Franconia for our big anniversary, and I was struck by how quick the trip was, about 1.5 hours. It really isn’t that far, which makes it that much more doable. We only stayed for one night, but I think that’s enough, especially when you eat like we did at the Inn. Lots of meat and rich deserts, which we can’t take too much of without feeling a bit of regret for our corpulent ways.

We arrived Monday in the afternoon and they let us check in early. It was amazingly warm, and we geared up and went for a really nice XC ski trek. It was longer than we are used to, and at some point we began to hear some moaning, but we persevered, and in the end, it was fine and we had earned our big meal for the evening.

We came back to our room, showered and cleaned up, and then had this amazing dinner. The food at the Franconia Inn is not to be missed. A had the salmon while N and R went for the filet, which for the record, was not as good as the cut from Cloudland Farms. I had this pork Osso Bucco, which I’d never heard of, but man was it good. The meat was cooked just right to where it fell right off the bone, incredible.

We had appetizers and salad before, so we were stuffed by the end, but couldn’t pass up desert. The deserts, needless to say, are amazing. We split a chocolate mouse and strawberry Napoleon, and then each had a chocolate covered strawberry. A fabulous meal, but we felt like gluttons afterward. We tried to burn off some calories in the game room playing ping-pong before going to be, but had to wrestle a bit with the kids because they insisted on playing video games and we wouldn’t let them. We’re kind of strict in that way. We have serious concerns about video game addiction, but that’s a topic for another time.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pottery Revelations

We were at pottery and I got to thinking that I could make some practical stuff that could be used around the house. The kids have a blast just making little figurines and hanging with the A&D, and I like just hanging out in a cool place with good friends and nice atmosphere.

Then I got to thinking that I could make some real stuff, especially with BL and KM (both artists, extraordinaire) there to advise and hold my hand. I couldn’t find a better opportunity. I felt bad about using too much clay, but BL said clay wasn’t that expensive, and I shouldn’t worry so much about it.

Say no more. I made this coffee mug that was a little too big, but it was my first effort. Next up, a utensil caddy, maybe one day, a baking stone, before you know it, the world. This could get interesting.

In the meantime, we’re making all sorts of cool knick knacks. I re-made the mouse we gave to Auntie D, though this time I did the entire mouse family. N did some really cool abstract art stuff, he really has a good eye/feel for these things, and A made some really cute birds.

We can’t wait for the next class. Until then, thanks for reading.

Taking Care of Business, Part 2

Speaking of last Sunday, we had quite an evening, and the fun really began in the kitchen. The plan was to make pizza, since we fell short on this project the Friday before. We’d made the dough and kept it in the fridge for a few days, which actually works well and is recommended in some recipes to add flavor. It also buys the busy SAHD more time.

On the subject of dough, we’re finally happy with our recipe, it cooks up nicely, crisp and chewy, compliments of our beautiful pizza stone (thanks, DR), and it’s healthier than starchy white doughs because it’s whole grain with flax seeds. The only drawback is the time and effort involved in forming the dough, making the toppings, and assembling it.

The kids actually do all of the assembling, and they really love it, but man does it make a mess. Something about kids and flour. In fact, it’s better that R is not there to witness the kids rolling dough, because there is flour everywhere, which I’m diligent about cleaning up before she gets home. No need to stress her out more.

Since we hate wasting oven time (and propane), we always try to bake several items concurrently, and this often gets us into trouble because we always bite off more than we can chew. However, as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes that’s the only way things get done. When you look for convenience and ease, nothing gets done.

This time, I may have gotten in over my head. In addition to pizza (we usually make 2 large pies and 6-8 small ones), we were making mom’s raisin bread (3 loaves), and two types of cookies - chocolate chip (our staple) and a new one, peanut butter oatmeal, which for the record is a winner. It is also the first in a series of cookies that we’ll attempt to knock off in our cookie cookbook.

We had a lot to do, but I really found that in this instance, it made a big (positive) difference to have the kids in the kitchen helping out. It freed me up to make the cookie doughs and shape them, and while they were putting the toppings on, which they love to do and get crazy with it, I could bake/monitor the cookies. This makes it easy because then I can just raise the temp for the bread and pizza, which with proper planning are rising during this time.

Talk about multi-tasking. As crazy as it gets, it sure is nice after all is said and done and we have fresh bread, pizza, and cookies to eat, and a clean kitchen, to boot.

All before mom gets home, so we can all sit down and have a nice meal together, and that’s what family is all about, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive

In a funny instance of, “I just had to ask,” I asked the kids to go through this massive cookie cookbook that we have and pick out some of the recipes that looked good. They spent the entire morning perusing the selections and marking the pages with small post-it notes, and ended up marking almost every page.

Sometimes kids are so cute and endearing, it breaks your heart. Now we have the gargantuan task of trying out all those cookies, but at least the end result is worth the effort.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Taking Care of Business, Part 1

We powered through a massive number of tasks this past Sunday, though by the end of it, we were pretty wiped out. Or should I say, one of us was pretty wiped out. Most of us think of Sunday as a day of rest and relaxation, but I’ve found that the weekends are the best time to get things done because the weeks are a little hectic with activities and meals and school work. Normally, having two parents in the house helps, except that R went to the movies, so I was the Lone Ranger for the afternoon.

I had several projects in the pipes, but they’ve been languishing for lack of time, not to mention motivation. I finally decided to bear down and get them done, and though I fell a little short, I managed to knock off several of them.

First off were the kids’ boxes, which I’d been sitting on for weeks. They were almost done, and I finally managed to do the final adjustments and install the latch so they could do with them as they please. Their goal is to paint them, so that may be a bit more involved, but at least they’re ready to roll.

Next up, our karate gis. I sewed the Okinawan patch on both of our shirts, but didn’t take the time to place them properly. Consequently, rather than being on the upper left side, they were more towards the center, near the stomach. It kind of looked funny, but A never made a big deal about it, she’s very good in that way. I felt bad, but couldn’t muster the effort to remove the patch and then re-sew them, until now. It wasn’t so bad, and this time around, I had her wear the shirt so I could see if it looked okay. I also replaced the drawstring with elastic, which makes it much easier to get dressed. A mentioned afterward that she’d like elastic, too, so I have to take care of that one at a later date, hopefully before the next class.

Another project that was sitting around the house, and I’m sure it was getting on R’s nerves, was the the upstairs sink. I had cleaned out the drain pipe on the downstairs sink and man was it an unpleasant experience, not unlike all plumbing projects. This did not inspire me to continue along, but the upstairs sink needed it as well. I put all my tools in the upstairs bathroom, thinking that I’d get it done one day, but that day never really came, and weeks later, the tools were still lying around. Finally I just did it, and now it’s done. For whatever reason, the upstairs sink, which gets much more usage from R and the kids, was a lot cleaner than the downstairs sink, which is the one I use. Why do you suppose that is?

Finally, there was the issue of supper, but that’s a topic for another entry. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to all. Normally I’m a bit cynical about these retail holidays, especially when the stores begin stocking up all the Valentine’s stuff the minute Christmas has passed, but this day also happens to be our anniversary, and not just any anniversary, but the big 10 year Kahuna.

Again, I’m not one to dwell on anniversaries, and like all holidays and occasions like birthdays, think it’s better to focus on the rest of the year, which when you really get down to it, gives you more bang for your buck. However, I do think there’s something to be said about the institution of marriage and the value of family. This has become glaringly apparent in the face of all the families that are dissolving all around us. It’s striking to me how fragile marriage can be.

In lieu of all this domestic upheaval, we plan on spending our V-day/anniversary heading up to Franconia with the kids to spend a nice couple of days in the White Mountains. We’re bringing out XC ski gear and ice skates to burn off some of the massive quantity of calories that we’re going to consume.

When I relayed this to our good friend KR, she commented on how interesting it was that we were going to spend our anniversary with our kids, hanging out, rather than unloading them and spending it alone. The funny thing is, it never even dawned on me that this was sort of unusual, and I got to thinking that we do do things a bit differently

Then again, we can’t envision it any other way, for better or worse. I was talking to R about it and we both agreed that the time we enjoy the most is hanging out together and doing things as a family. I realize this makes us a bit of an oddity, but when you look around and see how crazy the modern world is, maybe being a bit odd and doing things against the grain isn’t such a bad thing, after all.

The key here is not doing something to be different or the same, but doing it because you want to. Fortunately for us, because of our anti-social tendencies and odd/quirky personalities, we don’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fit in or seeking out approval. Living up here in Vermont helps, because people are less judgemental and more open to whatever it is that gets you through the night. I rather like that.

Either way, hope you all have a great V-day, and try not to forget about the other 364 days that are deserving or your attention.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to leovdworp for the pic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dartmouth Hockey

We happened upon a big hockey game in the big city, all on the heels of our bid day at the Winter Carnival. We were hoping to have supper at Boloco, but the festivities ended around 3:00, which was way too early to eat. However, we didn’t want to hang around the big city for a few hours just killing time. Our other option was to just go home, which I was fine with me, being in pain and all.

I spoke to a neighbor who was in town for the hockey game, and that presented us with another option, which excited the kids. However, men’s hockey is a big deal in this town, and we saw the masses heading to the arena and figured it was sold out.

Even still, it sounded like fun, so we checked it out. Parking was at a premium, and they had stopped letting people into the lot. Traffic was awful, and we were on the verge of giving up and just going home, when out of nowhere we found a killer parking space on the street. It was almost too good to be true, which nine times out of ten will come to fruition. I.e., we’ll get a ticket. Either way, I took it as a sign that we were going to watch this game.

The spot was about 500 feet from the arena, so we walked over, prepared for the possibility that there were no tickets left. Sure enough, the game was sold out, but they were offering standing room only tickets. We went for it, and watched the first period on our feet. The game was exciting, hockey is big stuff up here, and the match was against Princeton, which I’m told is a perennial powerhouse.

There were empty seats all over the place, so we managed to seat the kids while R and I stood behind them and watched. It was a lot of fun, and I was impressed with the crowd. Amazing number of people. I spoke with an alumni/devotee, and he said the crowd was very unusual, and a by-product of the carnival attendees.

Interestingly enough, there is a Boloco stand in the arena, as well, so not only did we get to watch the game, but we scored a few of our favorite burritos, as well. Another sign, perhaps? Dartmouth ended up winning, which I”m told was an upset, and we saw many people we knew at the game, some of whom we weren’t as thrilled to see as others, but what else is new in life?

Afterward, we walked back to our killer parking spot, the kind that you’re so happy to have found that you don’t want to move your car, and then headed home, capping off a nice day. The kids got a little crazy outside for a bit and R and I rested our tired, old and weary bones by the wood stove.

I love those moments.

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

Winter Carnival

We headed over to the big city this past weekend to attend the Dartmouth Winter Carnival, and was it ever crowded. There were tons of people, though I was surprised that more people we knew did not attend. In fact, I wonder if it’s something that people stop going to after a couple of times, probably because their kids have lost interest. After all, if your kids don’t want to go, then there’s no reason for adults to attend. It’s really just a big ice party for kids.

We wanted to ice skate, but it’s so crowded that skating can be a challenge. Plus, the ice was in pretty bad shape, lot of rough patches and huge cracks, so it wasn’t what you would call smooth sailing. That is not to say that we didn’t have fun, but I’m wondering if we’ll attend next year. It’s like everything up here, there are so many events to attend, that at some point you burn out and can’t go them all, though our kids never seem to lose interest.

At least there’s lot of food, and at a fair price. We chowed on hot dogs and burgers, and then went skating. I’d hurt my neck by sleeping in the wrong position, so I had to deal with what amounted to a pinched nerve in my neck. Man was it painful, and every time I skated over a crack, the bump sent a jolt through my entire upper body. It put a damper on my state of mind.

There were all sorts of events for the kids, including skating races and ice slides. They were giving away sugar snow, and there were marshmallows, but at some point you’ve skated a thousand circles around the pond and you just want to sit down and watch. I have to confess, I was tired and wanting to move on to greener pastures, but at least the kids were having fun.

By the end of the event, we were ready to head out, but the question became, did we want to go home? It wasn’t that late, and we had originally planned on having supper at our beloved Boloco. However, we were full from all the burgers and hot dogs. Our options were to hang out and kill time until dinner, or go home and make the pizza we didn’t make on Friday.

Well, as luck would it have it, there was a men’s hockey game that night, and if you live in a small town like we do, a college hockey game in the big city is the thing to do on a Saturday night, but more on this later.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to peter hellebrand for the pic.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bean Blanket

We have this heating pad that was given to us by my mother-in-law JR sometime in the past year or so, and man has that thing come in handy. It is filled with rice or beans or some sort of grain, so we refer to it as the "bean blanket." The way it works is you heat it in the microwave oven and it retains heat for a couple of hours. Since it’s been so cold, it’s come in might handy, though I tend not to use it since I don’t like being too warm. Neither does N, so it’s mainly used by the women of the household.

R loves using it while we watch movies, but A has been monopolizing it because she sleeps in the guest room and it is the coldest room in the house. She likes having it in her bed to fall asleep with. After a couple of hours, it gets cold, but we can’t exactly fish it out of her bed while she’s sleeping, so R doen’t get to use it at night.

We considered buying a new one, and found the place to get it, but then we realized that we could make our own. After all, it’s just rice inside a blanket, right? Then again, maybe not. First off, it takes a fair amount of rice, and when you start getting into big bags of the stuff, you’re getting into the price range where it’s just not worth it.

Also, I put some rice into a pillowcase and nuked it, and it smelled kind of funny. Not so much like rice, but more like hamster’s cage. It wasn’t that pleasant. We could tweak our recipe and try different variations, but at some point the time and effort, not to mention the cost, are simply not worth it. Before you know it, Spring will be here and we won’t need it, so we’ll see where this one goes.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Saved By My Kids

The other day R and I were talking about having bad days and how things just seem to go wrong for the entire day. This discussion was coming on the heels of a particularly bad day for R and A. I mentioned that for me, I have more than my fair share of bad moments (just ask my kids), but generally do not suffer from entire bad days.

On this note, this past Friday was a rough one, mainly because we have to be so many places within a short time, and I still need to get things done around the house (excuses, excuses). The day begins early with pottery, which starts at 9:30 and is always a challenge to get to on time. We love it, though, and go out of our way to make it there, mainly to see our friends, but also to get cool things done.

The plan was to take the recycling in after class, but the dump was closed for President’s Day. The funny thing was that there was a line of cars trying to get in but instead having to make a U-turn in the driveway. We even saw our neighbor, PA. After failing with the dump (I hate when that happens), we went to the store, and then home for lunch. We only had about 45 minutes to eat before I had to take A to rehearsal, which is a bummer because it only lasts about 45 minutes.

During lunch, I still had to get the dough ready for supper (we were planning on pizza, and the dough needs to rise), not to mention other household chores. I wasn’t going to pull it off. Normally during A’s rehearsal, N and I go to the library and hang out since it’s not enough time to really do much of anything. This time, however, we were going to have to come home and finish the things we didn’t finish.

The minute we got home, I explained to N the three things we had to do: fill the wood box, deal with the compost, and gather up all the library books that needed to be returned. He said he would help, and we hit the ground running (we only had 40 minutes, and counting). I went straight to the wood pile and filled the wheel barrow.

Now the funny thing I’ve noticed in life is that often when you try to do something to save time, you end up taking up more time, anyway. I tried to pile too much wood into the wheel barrow, thinking I could do it one trip. The minute I tried to wheel it to the door, the pile spilled out onto the snow. Boy was I enraged. After unleashing a few choice expletives, I gathered the spilled wood back into the wheel barrow, and started up again.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the pile was still unbalanced and spilled onto the ground AGAIN. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to just walk away and tell everyone that I was having a bad day and couldn’t fill the pile. Of course, that was not an option. We need heat, and my little bout of whining wasn’t going to fly.

So I decided to make two trips, and got all the wood into the wood box (in this pic it’s only 3/4 full). I still had to deal with the compost and library books, and time was running out because A’s rehearsal was ending and we had to go.

When I went into the house, there sitting on the floor were the library books, all gathered and piled into the bag, ready to go. There was even a note on top indicating that they were the local library books. While I was whining and moaning about firewood, N had taken care of business inside. It brought a tear to my eye, and made me realize how our kids save me on a continual basis.

I thanked N and told him as such. It really helped, because we get our books from two libraries, and it can take a lot of time just sorting them out. Now I didn’t have to do it. Plus, the bag is heavy, so he must have lugged it down the stairs and to the door. What a great kid. I am so unworthy.

We loaded up the car, went to get A (I was late, she was waiting), and then off to the library for story hour. Afterward, the kids wanted to play and lingered so that by the time we got home, it was too late to make pizza. Oh well, you can’t win them all. We had hot dogs and fish sticks instead, and were fine with that. The dough can sit for days in the fridge. In fact, they recommend this for enhancing the flavor, so it all works out in the end.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Next Phase? (aka the End of another Era)

I was speaking to A’s guitar teacher, KR, who we love, and she felt that she’d taught all she could to A, and that maybe she would benefit from a serious teacher to take her to the next level. We both have mixed feelings about this, because A really enjoys her lessons with KR, and we love hanging out with her, because it always involves good conversation, along with tea and treats.

Then again, that’s because she’s our friend and we have fun hanging out. It’s true that the lessons are relaxed, and no doubt that A’s learned a lot, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, A would benefit from a little more sweat and challenge, not to mention structure.

So, we have begun the process of finding a new guitar teacher, with KR’s blessing, of course. She also said she’d look into the matter. Our friend WWA at work started taking mandolin lessons with this guy in the big city, and she said he was good and also taught guitar. We got his name and contacted him, and he was nice and had some openings.

The funny thing is, when I later spoke with KR, she said she talked to DC and he recommended this same person. Wow, I love when that happens. Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs...

We’ve arranged to have an initial lesson, and it should be interesting. I mentioned it to A, and I’m sure she has mixed feelings. She loves KR, and they are good together, but again, it’s more about having fun, whereas this could be an interesting experience. I feel the same way with piano, but more on that later.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to uyo14 for the pic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The End of an Era

We had our trustee meeting the other day at the library, and it marked the last day of our fearless leader, EW. She finished her 6 year term and was riding off into the sunset, much to our dismay. She will be sorely missed, especially by me, who only got to work with her for one year. I really enjoyed working with her and getting to know her, she helped to make the meeting fun and enjoyable, especially for a neophyte like myself.

To EW, best wishes and keep in touch. Then again, in a small town, these things are a given.

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting Ambitious with Bread

Not satisfied with baking a simple run-of-the-mill loaf of bread, we are going to get a little crazy and try to make a sourdough loaf. Make that a sourdough loaf that is also whole grain. Then again, making a tasty whole grain loaf of sourdough bread may be impossible.

The first step will be to make the sourdough starter, which isn’t a simple and straightforward thing. From what I can gather, it could take weeks of maintenance and nurturing, so we’ll see where this one takes is.

Stay tuned for more adventures in baking, and thanks for reading, and thanks to HybridSys for the pic.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Denied

As much as I wanted to go skiing, we’ve had a rough few days, and were in need of a bit of respite from the madness. So, we opted instead to hang out in the big city while R met with I-KODI and then do some ice skating at Occom Pond, followed of course by our regular meal at Bolocos.

We snuck in a trip to the Coop to get necessary vittles (the kind you can’t find anywhere else), then to the Howe, which we love. The plan was to meet mom there, and then hit the ice.

Once mom arrived, we went over to the pond, and I couldn’t believe it, but it was closed. The weather was too warm, and I’m guessing the ice was dangerous. This weather has been crazy. During the Tiki Torch Trek, it started to rain, which froze and made shovelling a chore. Now we are in the midst of a warm spell, affecting the pond accordingly.

They are supposed to have their Winter Carnival next week, so let’s hope things cool off significantly in the next week. A few days back a tractor that was hauling ice blocks for the sculptures for the carnival actually broke through the ice and sank into the drink. The fire department had to come and haul it out.

That’s some serious stuff. As for us, we didn’t get to skate, but we opted instead for a trip to the Montshire where they had a new exhibit on sound waves, which was kind of cool, though we really wanted to spend more time outside, preferably skiing, but don't get me started.

At least we got to eat at Bolocos. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kate Mallatratt for the pic.

Chili Cook Off

So we didn’t win the cook-off, but truth be told, I tasted all of the entries, and thought there were a few that I liked better than mine. Some of them had a really good beefy flavor, and lots of meat.

There were some funky entries, even a green one that was really good though maybe a little too daring for small town palates. In the end, the important thing is that we went for it and at least tried, and for that we should feel a sense of accomplishment, especially in lieu of all the insecurity and apathy that had to overcome. Plus, we spoke with some people afterward who told us they voted for our entry without knowing it was ours, which was called Charming Chili (a monicker chosen by N), and that’s good enough for us.

It was nice that many people entered, adding to the fun and energy of the event. Next year we’ll hand out cash bribes at the door. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Nathalie Dulex for the pic.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tiki Torch Trek (TTT)

The TTT is one of our favorite events around here, and a great time is had by all. People come from all around, and the Trails Group does an amazing job of organizing it. They really put the time and effort to make it an memorable event. We had been going like crazy for the previous 24 hours, but we were still primed and ready to the some night skiing.

We are lucky in having the trails right by our house, so all it takes is getting our boots one and skiing to the trails. The ease and convenience really make it more of a possibility, because if it took more work and preparation, I might be discouraged from even doing it.

It had been snowing steadily for the 2-3 hours prior to going outside, and then for some crazy reason, the weather warmed up and the snow turned to sleet/freezing rain. What a drag, but that didn’t stop people from showing up and having a good time. We all just got wet, but when you’re XC skiing, it doesn’t really matter, because you’re working hard so you don’t really notice being wet and cold.

Also, because the snow was getting soft and mushy, it made slowed the skiing down. Normally this is a bad thing, but it made skiing down the hills, which is a challenge for me on XC skis, much easier. There is a big hill that you have to take to get to the party.

The soiree was happening. The food was great, lots of sweets (we made cookies), along with music and friends. The social aspect can be exhausting, but also, since it’s dark and rainy, you can just stand there and say nothing and nobody seems to notice.

At some point, we wanted to ski, so we geared up and hit the trails with HH and her kids, and it was a blast The turnout this year was good, there were tons of people on the trails, and a good time was had by all. As it neared 8:00, we decided we needed to wind down and get some sleep, so we headed home.

It was a wonderful evening to cap off a hectic but fun weekend, and we still have Sunday to contend with. I want to really go skiing, but that might be asking for too much, and we may spend a quiet day in the big city. Then again, you never know.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Joseph Ellis for the pic.

Running on Empty at the Winter Fest

We were at story hour and A&N’s friends, A&I, were somewhat insistent on having them over for a sleepover. HH was all for it, even though it entailed watcing over 4 kids all by her lonesome, and R and I felt it would be fine, though we all realized that none of the kids would be getting much sleep, and we had a busy weekend ahead of us.

I offered to make supper for everyone. The plan was to jet home, whip up some dinner, meet R, and then head over. HH invited us over to eat with them, but also understood if we wanted to have a quiet night at home. We opted to have dinner with everyone, much to the chagrin of A, who wanted to have a night out without the annoying parents, though N was more amenable to the idea of us being there.

We headed over and the dinner was nice. HH made some raviolis and veggies, and we hung out and had a nice meal. The kids headed upstairs to play and the adults got to share stories from the trenches. We really like HH, she is fun to hang out with and so calm and relaxed, even in the face of stressful times.

R and I went home and had our quiet evening, and it is strange not having the kids there. We are so fine tuned to being aware of their presence, that we can’t turn off parenting mode, and continue to act as if they were there. Of course, they were always on our mind.

The fact that they weren’t going to get any sleep was compounded by the town’s Winter festival the next morning, which is an all day event where all the kids show up and get crazy in the snow. They have sled dog rides (the real deal) and sled races and ice skating/hockey, but the kids seem to have the most fun just getting crazy on the snow drift mountain. There is a massive pile of snow that must be about twenty feet high, and the kids sled and climb all over it. It can get a little heated, though.

The Fest also includes the chili cook-off, but more on that later. We hung out and got to see friends and neighbors. We played hockey and ate tons of chili, and then unleashed the kids to wreck havoc on each other. Needless to say it was a blast, though A got hit in cheek with a broomstick (don’t ask), and N was maniacally running on fumes.

The crazy thing was, we still had another event to go to that evening, the Tiki Torch Trek, and by the time we were getting ready to leave, it started to snow again. I couldn’t believe it. We desperately needed a break, so we gathered the kids up, went home, fed them and regrouped for the evening’s festivities. We were all more than a little tired, but there was no way weren’t going to make the Trek. It’s a must-see event in town.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charming Chili

With Winter Fest right around the corner, we decided to take a leap of faith and enter the chili cook-off. We were there last year and figured we make chili all the time. Why not? Of course, we have no illusions of winning the contest, but figure if we never try, then we'll go through wishing we had. Plus, N came up with a killer name, F's Charming Chili. How can you not love that?

Either way, we ran into a bit of a dilemma that was as usual of my own neurotic creation. You are supposed to bring the entries to the rec center in a crock pot so they can keep it warm. We have one, but it's huge, and I thought it would be better to have a smaller one, maybe a gallon size, if such a thing exists. This initiated a mad scramble to locate a crock pot, or at least a small one.

Our good friends the H's had one, but there might have been a conflict of interest because DH might have wanted to enter the contest, as well. When we found out he wasn't, we rushed over and picked it up, only to find that it wasn't that much smaller than ours. I couldn't make a stink about it, so I thanked them and took it home, but if it turns out to be the same size, it'll be simpler just to use ours.

Why do I always have to make life so complicated? I should have just shut up and used our crock pot, but the thing is massive. Oh well, what are you going to do?

If life was so simple, it'd be boring as heck, wouldn't it?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seeing Friends and Neighbors on the Trails

We've probably done more XC skiing in the past month than we've done since we've lived here, and it's been a lot of fun. We get a good workout, spend quality time together in the great outdoors, and best of all, have lots of fun. I'm amazed how much the kids enjoy it because it can be hard work at times. Then again, we take lots of breaks. We've even gone out in virtual white-out storms, and were unfazed by the daunting nature of the elements, but such is the way in New England.

They got a new groomer for the trails, and it is amazing. It makes a big difference having beautifully coiffed snow, and inspires us that much more to get out there. Plus, since the trails are so close by, we usually see our friends and neighbors out there. It's just the thing to do out here. When it snows, you either go for a walk or ski the trails. Plus we have the big Winter fest coming up, and factor in some ice skating and Alpine skiing now and then (more now than then, of course), and you have the makings of a great Winter.

Speaking of Winter Fest, we're toying with the idea of entering our chili in the big chili cook-off, but stay tuned for more on that.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Skiing at Suicide Six

We finally broke out of our routines and skied a new mountain. Since we began, our skiing has been limited to two ski hills, Quechee and the Skiway. I like both mountains a lot, but felt like we should at least try other hills. The one that kept coming up was Suicide Six, which isn’t the most endearing name for a ski hill, but a lot of people we know go there.

The hill is in Woodstock, which meant it was close by. I’d heard it was small and manageable, which is good, and we could do a half day with minimal amounts of pain. The only problem was that we had piano/drums at 4:30, and the we generally like to ski until the mountain closes, which is 4:00. In other words, here we go again.

Going to a new ski hill is always an adventure, because you have to figure things out and get to know the inner workings of the mountain (i.e., where to get tickets, how much, where to score hot cocoa). Plus, the terrain is all new, so it becomes a bit of an adventure, and you know how I feel about that.

We got there just as half-day tickets were on sale, and who should pull in than none other than our good friends the H’s. Both C&SH had lessons planned, so we were starting off on a good foot by having at least one friend there. It turns out that it was also Waldorf day, so we knew many people there. In fact, I saw people I hadn’t seen in years, including YKW, but that’s another story.

The hill was basically empty, but we also were faced with conundrum #2 - they only had double chairs, and not triple or quads. This meant that one of us was going to have to ride the chair up alone, and that person was going to have to be A. She had reservations at first, but I knew she could do it. I figured I could ask a random adult to ride up with her at the chair. She was not thrilled with this idea, but it was either that or wait for me at the bottom while I skied with N.

Well, as luck would have it, the first person I asked happened to be none other than DJ, her old horse riding teacher. She was happy to see N, and gladly went up with her, though I told her to practice operating the safety bar on her own. She was fine.

The hill itself was more challenging with Quechee, but about the same size. Also, it was not as well groomed, which meant that we had to be a little more careful darting down the hill. The runs were fun, though, and we all had a blast. Since the hill is small, and the chair is fast, we got to take a lot of runs, though we got lost a lot at first. The trails are not clearly marked, and the map is not really to scale, so we didn’t know where we were going at first.

What this means is that we ended up on runs that we had not intended to ski, and sometimes this can spell disaster. Both A and N ended up on black diamonds, though to their credit, they managed to make it down the hill. In fact, A skied a double black diamond, which is super-advanced, and she got down, though she was a bit traumatized by the whole experience. Can’t say I blame her.

There were several runs with lots of moguls, which I am not a huge fan of but can tolerate, except that these bumps were covered with about a foot of fresh powder. This made skiing them extremely difficult, at least for me. One expert run in particular was called Show-off, and for whatever reason, N and I gave it a go. I fell about twenty times, and just to add to the fun is the fact that the trail runs directly below the chair lift, so everyone can watch. This included friends who I haven’t seen in years. How embarassing. To add to the drama, N kept egging me on to do it again, but I chickened out. I regret this, however, and we plan on going back and conquering our nemesis.

The hill got crowded at some point because the school group had arrived, but since the chair moves so quickly, it was never a problem. We had lots of fun, and it was nice seeing old friends. We crossed paths with YKW, and I don’t think the kids even recognized each other.

We had to leave a few minutes before closing because we had to get back to town for piano/drum lessons. This meant getting to the lodge, quickly changing, and getting into the car and hitting the road. We had to take our cocoas on the road, and of course I got a little stressed and snapped a little at the kids. My bad.

We pulled it off, came home and whipped together supper, which I had prepared the day before and simply had to heat up. How’s that for foresight? The kids said that Suicide Six was their new favorite ski hill, but that could mean that they were just thrilled to try a new place. I think we’ll go back this week, however, because that one trail is beckoning us.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Max Peter for the pic.