Friday, April 29, 2011

Preliminaries for Our Trip

We are two days off and counting for our big trip, and there are a million and one things left to do. Why does going away have to be so stressful? Because as foolish human beings, we try to make out lives crazy because it gives us an ersatz sense of purpose.

With this in mind, we are leaving soon and we have to tie up a few loose ends. We've arranged for several things to be taken care of, contacted assorted financial institutions to let them know we'll be away, and are in the process of getting packed and leaving the house in reasonable working order. We've even arranged for assorted friends who are good with tools to be on the ready in the event of a disaster. I love having capable friends.

The fact that we are departing brings up the same question that I always seem to ask, which is what is better, the take off or the landing. There's nothing quite as exciting as sitting in your seat and feeling the airplane take off. It's a mixture of anxiety, fear, relief, and excitement about the trip ahead.

For a little background, we are flying to Turkey and then Greece, utilizing the money that we made while sweating blood over dumpling all Summer. We sure worked like dogs, but made a reasonable amount of money, which we are using for this trip. People look at us in amazement when we tell them the dumplings are funding this trip, and for those of you in disbelief, consider this. We sold over 12,000 dumplings last year. With 5 dumplings in an order, and at $3.00 an order, you can do the math. Bear in mind, it was extremely hard work, and there were times when I was virtually in tears, but what a great well to draw on for this blog.

I have been trying to get certain things done on the homestead before we leave, and I'm not sure how much I'll pull off. I wanted to have this year's wood stacked and ready, but that may be a stretch. My other goal of cutting up all 7 cords of log length wood, however, just may be realized. The weather has not been cooperating, but what else is new?

To complicate this matter, our daughter A has a performance on the day we leave. We tried to explain to her that there will be other chances, but she loves to perform, so we may attempt the impossible and go to her show, then pack up her guitar somewhere safe and head to airport. How's that for drama from the get go? It's always stressful right before we depart, so fitting in a performance beforehand is just asking for trouble, but we wouldn't have it any other way, right? Besides, we love to see her perform, and even more so, love the fact that she loves to perform, so it's kind of a no-brainer.

I am looking forward to having down time to worry about nothing other than what our next meal is going to be, and then not having to worry about cooking it. This is a huge thing for anyone who has had to cook meals every day of the week. Plus, we get to get crazy and all sorts of exotic foods that you will never in your life find in Vermont, that's for sure. Somehow I really relate to food when we travel.

Plus, it'll be nice to see the ocean. More on the trip as it draws nearer. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pablo Barrios for the pic.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sports Complications

We had our sports program all figured out, and then out of nowhere, some serious complications set in. I guess it wouldn’t be our lives if we didn’t a few bumps along the way. It’s a by-product of living the adventure.

N was all set to play hockey this summer. I had literally scrambled and jumped through enormous hoops to get all the equipment he needed, which was a ridiculous amount of stuff. The man who was in charge of the program at Union Arena, VC (a great guy), was extremely helpful and encouraging, and even indicated that N would be a great fit. N was excited, and I was happy to help.

Then, out of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, Union Arena fired VC. I’m sure there’s a story in there, but he was a very well-liked person who did great things at the arena. Firing him was like shooting yourself in the foot, he brought people and money in, and the community loved him. I was shocked, not to mention bummed because our big supporter for hockey was now gone.

They are offering other programs for young kids, so we’ll see what happens, but the air of warmth and fun is greatly diminished in light of the present circumstances. I’m not sure what to make of it all.

Also, N want to play baseball, and also as usual, they can’t find parents to coach. I know I’m on the short list because I’ve coached in the past, and I’m happy to help again, but I really don’t want to be a head coach. I can handle our own kids, but being in charge of a large group of them terrifies me. I wouldn’t mind doing everything else, organizing schedules, contacting parents, and even being in charge of the equipment. I just don’t want to be the one in charge of all those bodies. I could never be a teacher.

To add to all this drama is the fact that we’re going to miss some of the season. This is a bummer, but not the end of the world, because N has strong baseball fundamentals, and he’s got a lot of other things going on. We shall see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nathaniel :: Tutvid.com and Patti Gray for the pics.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Drama Possibilities

The full cast list for the musical that A auditioned for came out and she was not cast in the play, but she has moved on and isn’t dwelling on the disappointing outcome. We’re proud of her that she gave it a try, but as I mentioned before, she was competing against drama kids with a lot of background in singing and dancing, and when you enter the world of theater, the performers are the complete package. They can sing, dance, and act, all at the same time. We told A if she was interested in this direction, she might have to train accordingly, and she should give it some thought.

Or, decide that it is not for her, and move in the directions more to her liking. She has so many interests, I think she can approach this with a healthy POV. She loves to be on stage, but maybe the whole package is not her thing. I don’t see her doing ballet, but she can sing and act, so maybe that’s something to focus on.

With that in mind, there are a few possibilities. First off, the previous N. Stage classes have been re-introduced in a new setting, and the instructors were very encouraging of A to attend because they’d worked with her before, though I’d heard that there was a lot of fun and games involved and maybe wasn’t as rigorous as it previously was. When they studied at N. Stage, the classes were demanding and not just playtime. They really nurtured kids and developed their talents for real life theater, which I liked, but the kids were not as fond of.

The other possibilities include a pre-teen/teen summer theater workshop held by the town, which I was told was a great experience and loads of fun. The teacher involved with that knows A as well, and was very encouraging of her participation. Plus, it’s local kids, and I think they work outside in the park, so it should be fun. There might also be the possibility for N to help out on the production side, so that would be a bonus. I would help if needed.

I want to stress that our goal is not for A to be an actor, unless of course that’s her dream, which at this point I don’t think is the case. I do want to encourage her to do things she enjoys, especially when they involve a little hard work and some challenges, and allow her to interact with the quirky drama kids who have similar interests. It’s all about the experience, and seeing the results when you give something a try.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dominik Gwarek for the pic.

Musical Performance

I’m learning that A’s guitar teacher, EE, is a bit of an icon around here. Everyone I talk to seems to know him or know of him. It’s interesting, and good because it means that we were pointed in the right direction by our friends in terms of finding A a good teacher.

He is planning a big musical performance by his students, and they have been rehearsing their pieces. At the practice session, I was struck by the mix of people. They were fairly evenly divided between children and adults, which makes it interesting. I think A gets a kick out these situations.

We have a bit of a time conflict on the day of the performance, but will try our best to make it work out, because A is really looking forward to the show.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Heartbreak

We were cranking out killer pizza for our friends the other night, and I opened the oven to take out one of the pies only to see that our beautiful pizza stone had cracked. I couldn’t believe it. We use it so often, I don’t know what to do. I thought of trying to repair it, or if I was feeling really ambitious, make one at pottery. I spoke with BL at the studio, and she said people do make them. It would take a lot of clay, but she said clay was cheap, so I may have to go for it.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Movie Makers and Shakers

A&N made a series of short snippets with our digital camera, and then A put them together using the movie software on my computer, iDVD. The end result was amazing, and she even figured out how to burn the movie onto a disc. I am completely blown away by what they’ve done.

Bear in mind, A wrote the script, directed the filming, acted in the film, and then edited it all into the completed project. She even came up with the overall design and feel of the film, as well as the music. It’s really a cool project. We think it’s time to get her a video camera, so she can make real movies.

It reminds me of when A took acting classes at N. Stage. The teachers were very supportive and encouraging of the job that A did, but the head teacher said that what she really sees in A is a director. We may very well be seeing the manifestation of those abilities, and it’s really cool to see.

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

Summer Camps

I’m somewhat cynical about the whole summer camp thing, mainly because you realize it’s all about finding way to get your kids out of your hair while we slave away at our jobs so we can afford our luxurious and opulent lifestyles. Entire industries have sprouted up along these lines, and over Summer, all everyone talks about is what camp their kids are going to. It’s a bit odd.

Of course, we can’t help but succumb. Not so much to farm our kids out, but because their friends all do it, and they get to spend some quality time away from their annoying parents, or in this case, primarily their annoying dad.

In previous years, we did one camp and then we were done with it. This process has gradually morphed into a series of camps, and the drawbacks are the cost and the fact that your kids are run ragged. We’re trying to avoid that, but don’t want to deny them the fun of camp, because there are some really fun offerings.

We usually do Montshire camp, and they love this one because it’s outdoors and a lot of their friends do it, but the camps get more expensive every year, and they offer fewer of them. Not sure what’s up with that, but we’re going to pass on that one. Instead, there are drama camps, hockey camps, outdoor survival camps, and probably others I’m missing. We wanted to get them into Lego robotics camp, but it’s already full, so we’ll have to investigate this one further. A did it in the past, and N really wants to, though he’s a bit young. I talked to the instructor and pleaded our case, and he said he thought N would be fine, so that was a plus.

In addition to camp, we’ll be doing the market, and probably doing some traveling in there, not to mention riding our bikes, roller blading, and swimming. Wow, whoever said Summer was about kicking back and relaxing? If anything, I miss Winter.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ali halit diker for the pic.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tennis Anyone?

We did our first gig with the homeschool tennis group, and the kids actually had fun. They were hesitant, if not downright resistant to the idea in the beginning, even in lieu of the fact that they like playing tennis. Then again, playing tennis is subject to interpretation. I really felt they would benefit from instruction to learn some of the basics. Plus, like many things in life, it can be more fun when you can actually do it, not unlike skiing or riding a bike.

Also, I have a hard time giving them instructions because they just find me annoying, rightly so. I managed to somehow teach them how to ride a bike and ski, but failed miserably at swimming, so it’s hard to predict what will work and what will not. Part of the reason that they were willing to do tennis in the first place was because a few of their friends were doing it, so they agreed. In the past, they said no thank you, so I’m glad the right circumstances presented themselves.

The only drawback of the whole thing is that it’s a bit of a trek out to Hanover to play, but it gives us yet another excuse to be out in the big city, and the kids have fun while hanging with their buddies and learning (hopefully) some found fundamentals. If they can get the hang of the game, then we can play as a family wherever we go. We’ll see.

It was also nice re-connecting with many of the families that we have lost touch with over time, as well as meeting new ones and seeing ones that we see all the time. It’s a winning combination.

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

Happy Easter

Growing up, we never made a big deal about Easter, other than the fact that we were out of school. However, as a parent, it’s a nice occasion to get the kids excited about something, and to have some fun. Then again, all we do is have fun. I hadn’t given much thought to the day, and figured we’d have a nice Easter supper and then be done with it, but R had other ideas.

She got a bunch of Easter candy and planned on setting up an egg hunt. As the day approached, the kids also expressed enthusiasm for the idea, so it was decided. We were going to celebrate Easter. After the kids went to sleep the night before, we set up a chocolate egg hunt inside the house, and the next morning, we set up an egg hunt outside. When A&N woke up, they hit the ground running and were excited as can be.

To their credit, they saw the chocolate eggs when they came downstairs, but held back on snatching them up until the proper time. Not to be such a tyrant dad, but I’m not a big fan of kids just frantically tearing through something because they can’t be patient.

Once we gave the word, they were off and running. They had a blast, and it’s really cute to see them in action. It breaks a parents heart. After the hunt, they had more candy than they knew what to do with. We decided to go for a walk on the XC trails to Stella’s, where we had a wonderful breakfast, and then walked back. It was such a beautiful day.

The kids hung and played the rest of the day while R and I did stuff around the house, and then we had our Easter supper. Since the weather was nice, we fired up the BBQ and fire pit, and had a nice time outside, though we ate indoors because it was getting chilly. For the meal, we had amazing filet mignon from Cloudland Farms, green beans, Yorkshire pudding, and baked sweet potatoes. Desert consisted of more Easter candy.

What a nice day. I really enjoyed it because it was low key and we all got to hang together for the day, not doing much of anything.

Hope everyone had a nice Easter, and thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Wonders of Garbage

It still amazes me to no end that in this day and age, people still throw their garbage out of their cars and onto the road. I understand this happens all over the state, and when we lived in New York, people treated their own neighborhoods like garbage dumps, throwing refuse wherever they felt like it, but come on. This is Vermont, people should know better.

This situation becomes particularly acute in the Spring when the snow melts and all the trash comes to light. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a preponderance of Budweiser and McDonald’s products. Somehow, this makes perfect sense.

My understanding is that teenagers need a place to drink, and since they can’t do it at home, they drink in their cars and then lose the evidence by tossing in onto the road. How brilliant is that? It’s a lose-lose situation, drinking and driving and then littering. BTW, this was explained to me very matter-of-factly. Anyway, yesterday while walking on the road, I brought a trash bag because the sight of all that trash was getting to me. We (me and the kids) literally filled a large garbage bad to the bursting point.

Plus, it’s disgusting garbage, cans and bottles filled with this awful liquid, which I know in certain instances is tobacco spit. We know this because we pour it out to make the load lighter and less offensive, though the process makes me want to yak.

Then, to rub salt in the wound, I even went so far as to sort the stuff out for recycling. How’s that for taking a bullet for the planet? Initially I thought, no way, just toss it all into the garbage and be done with it. I started feeling guilty, and decided to take it to the recycling center. We were going there anyway. My biggest worry was that the bag would tip over, spilling all those cans and bottles, as well as the disgusting liquid inside, all over our car.

We made it to the dump with no disasters, and then I rummaged through the bag and sorted cans and bottles. It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, because we got rid of most of the liquid. I simply wore gloves and held my breath. Once it was over, I felt much better, and was happy to be done with it.

Of course, on the way home that afternoon, we saw that someone had tossed some more garbage on our road while we were gone. What’s the world coming to?

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

Piscine Problems

Our neighbors went away for a few days, and they are always really thoughtful and kind in asking A&N to watch the cat and feed their fish. The kids love going over and playing with the cat and reclining on the lounge chairs, they have a really nice house, and since they live right next to us, we can walk over and pick up all the garbage people leave on our road (more on that later).

Anyway, they just went away, and on the last day, A mentioned that one of the fish didn’t look so good. Uh-oh. I took a look, and sure enough, their beautiful angel fish was doing the lifeless-floating thing, eyes glazed and slime coming off the scales. What a bummer.

I called our friends to break the bad news, and they were very kind about it. They said the fish was very old and it was no surprise that it had passed on. In fact, there were two of them at one time, and the other one had died just this Winter. They even called when they got home to reassure us that it was to be expected, but it’s still kind of a drag when it happens under your watch.

We left them some brownies to cheer them up, for which they were grateful.

Oh well, life goes on, or not. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Christian Johnson for the pic.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fun Continues

We were watching over the A&I after our big sleepover, which went wonderfully well BTW, and the plan was for HH to come and get the girls, and then I was to take the kids on the usual bunch of excursions before A’s guitar practice, which for the record, I screwed up because she did not have an actual practice, but more on that later.

The sleepover was a lot of fun (for the kids, not us). HH came over, we made pizza and salad for supper, and we hung out and had a nice time. HH went home and the kids watched a movie and then retired up to A’s room, where I had moved the bed to make room on the floor. The kids lined up four sleeping bags and sacked out. I was expecting them to fall asleep sometime after midnight, but they actually went down before 11:00. I was surprised.

Since it’s April vacation, there is no school, so the girls didn’t need to be anywhere the next day, and they could sleep in. HH had to work, and she planned on coming the next day around 1:00 to pick them up. I started formulating my ideal day where the kids would wake up around 11:00, eat breakfast and goof around, and then I’d only have to watch them for about 2 hours.

This, of course, is not how it worked out. They woke up early, around 7:30, and asked for pancakes for breakfast. We usually reserve for them for Sunday, but this was a special day, so I got to work making the batter, which takes a bit of time because they are multi-grain and require numerous ingredients. We never do things the easy way around here.

Well, as luck would have it, the kids played upstairs for a couple of hours, finally coming down around 10:00 to eat. The pancakes were ready and they hit the ground running, though N expressed his disappointment that there was no bacon. Our friends are vegetarians, so we were going to skip the meat, but then I announced that they eat some meat, and that she loved bacon. Say no more. I cooked up some bacon and then everyone said they needed more pancakes, so I had to whip another batch. I felt like Mel on Alice.

After about 40 pancakes, the kids were finally sated, and I had to clean up, but it was worth it because they had so much fun, and we killed at least an hour eating. They then got dressed and went out to play.

I figured it was a good time to get some work done, so I got out the chainsaw and started in on the wood pile. HH actually showed up early, and then phase two or our day kicked in. The kids all wanted to go over to their house, which actually freed me up to run massive errands without have to subject them to the pain.

It worked out well, and I got a lot done. What I had originally planned to do in two days, I did in one, and the kids didn’t have to suffer through it all. Even better, they got to hang with their best friends. I think it works well for HH because her kids have fun playing and she is free to get work done, as well.

I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Billy Alexander for the pic.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sleepover Surprise

About a month ago, the kids were asking for a sleepover, and wanting to be more spontaneous, we were ready to go for it. When I was a kid, we were never allowed to have friends over, and sleepovers were once in decade occurrence. Even when it happened, it was sort of forced, and not a lot of fun. There was always so much planning involved.

Now that I’m a parent, I don’t necessarily want kids streaming in and out of our house, but I also don’t want to make such a big deal of things. That includes having visitors and even friends over for a sleepover. We run into this situation fairly regularly because we see our friends a lot and they are always inquiring about sleeping over. This, of course, puts me on the spot, and I have to scramble to respond, when in fact, it’s no big deal.

Last time, we kind of fell into the planning thing. Rather than have the kids sleep over that night, we said we’d do it the next day. When that time arrived, A came down with a cold, and we had to cancel. We anticipated the event coming up again soon, but weeks passed and something always seemed to take its place. I kind of figured it was done and over.

Until yesterday, that is. We were watching over the girls during the day, and when HH came to get them, the question was brought up again. On the spot as usual, I just said what the heck, let’s do it. We could make pizza and have HH over for supper, as well. The one catch was that we couldn’t reach mom at work, so when she came home, she was greeted with a surprise after a long day at work. I tried warning her, but it worked out fine. Sometimes you have to make an executive decision and deal with the consequences.

It was actually fun, the kids enjoyed making and eating the pizza, and they watched a movie on the computer. I moved A’s bed around to make space on the floor, and they all sacked out in their sleeping bags. Believe it or not, I think they fell asleep before midnight. I know I sure did.

Today they girls will hang out until HH comes to get them, but that’s fine, because they have fun playing, they’re really good kids. Plus, as they play, I can actually get work done around the house. I know we’ve been down this road before with YKW, but we watched her for two straight weeks, eight hours a day, and I get a sense HH is acutely aware of asking for too many favors.

The question now becomes, what to make for breakfast. Until then, thanks for reading, and thank to michaelaw for the pic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Great Show

We went to the school to see A perform in the school play, and was it a great show. Now I’m not objective when it comes to things involving our kids, but I really thought the kids did a nice job. I think they are not yet at the age where self-consciousness and embarrassment get in the way of really expressing yourself. You see it more in the older kids.

Either way, A had a fairly prominent part, and when her moments came, she really was a stage presence, exuding confidence and projecting her voice. It was a joy to watch, though I had the usual neurotic parental anxieties over seeing our kids perform on stage.

Best of all, A had a blast, and got to hang with her buddies at school, connecting in an area that they can all relate to. Probably, most of the kids will eventually lose their interest in drama, but for now, they had a lot of fun, and it’s something they’ll always remember.

Of course, now it’s on to the next thing, whatever that may be. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Playing With Fire and Candle Making

It was small, but a fire, nonetheless. In another sign that Spring is here, we had our first bonfire, and the kids had a blast, burning everything they could get their hands on in the yard. It works out beautifully because there is so much debris in the yard in the form of branches and twigs, and it makes for great kindling, though I’m wary of when it gets windy, especially since I almost burned the woods down last year. Won’t make that mistake again, hopefully.

The kids also had this great idea to make candles. Since we’re outside and I’m there the whole time, I feel comfortable letting them work with them. They light the candles and then collect the wax in a glass jar with their own fabricated wick. After awhile, the layers gather to make a nice effect. Once the jar is full, they pop it out, and voila, a candle is born.

In a cute twist, they even give their candles names. We inaugurated their handiwork at supper that night, with a nice candlelight dinner when mom came home. She was impressed, and not at all irritated by the fact that they used her designer candles to make their versions.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.



Captured

I don’t know how mice do this, but they seem to toy with you when you try to catch them. It’s pretty amazing, actually, and a testament to their survival instinct. It almost makes them seem smarter than us. The act in question is how a mouse manages to steal the bait off of a mouse trap and not set the thing off. Granted, it’s a humane trap, which is not as deadly and effective as the lethal kind, but it’s still pretty impressive how they can enter the trap and then abscond with the food without triggering it. It’s a little beyond me.

I’ve experienced this before in NYC, where I had a mouse and it did the same thing. Personally, I think it was taunting me, but I shouldn’t give it too much credit. I managed to catch it purely by luck, because I startled it and it had nowhere to run and hide but directly into the trap. Now I’m dealing with a country mouse, which is probably way more savvy because it has to contend with nature’s wrath. I pale in comparison as an adversary.

Anyway, it foiled me once, so we had to change our tact a bit. I originally put some nuts on the bait tray, but it grabbed them and ran. This time, as per R and N’s suggestion, I put peanut butter on the tray and then rested a nut on that. How brilliant was that?

There was one false alarm, whereby the mouse didn’t get the bait, but managed to set off the trap. I figured that was the end of and she was on to us, but tried one more time. This morning when I went out to check the trap, victory was on our side. There, inside the trap, was the little rascal. I’m not sure if she was the only one, somehow I doubt it, but at least we’ve depleted their ranks.

I’ll let it go outside, and then set the trap one more time, just for good measure. Hopefully that will be end of this saga, but somehow I doubt it. Soon, the ants will be back, as well.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Great Show

Needless to say, the kids did a stand-up job on their show, Compose Yourself. It was a lot of fun, and hats off to JB for the hard work she did, it really showed. The kids were great, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a shameless parent. They really did a nice job, projecting their voices, delivering their lines, and singing their songs. Plus, the script was clever and funny.

It's nice to see kids getting up their, getting over their anxieties, and performing so well. I think there are important lessons to be learned in appreciating the arts, but also taking some chances, putting yourself out there, and understanding the risks and rewards. Things don't always go as you plan them, but when they do, a kid can sure hit a home run.

A was a little bummed that the show was over, she loved it so much, but there are always other avenues for her to strut her stuff, it just takes a lot of searching, legwork, and even participation on the part of dad. I'm happy to do it if she's happy to take part.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Baking Wisdom

We did our big baking day yesterday, which meant raisin bread and assorted low-glycemic sweets. We’ve been making our way through the cookie cookbook, and I’d say we’ve accomplished about 5% of the goal. There are still dozens of cookies that still need to be attempted, but we’ve got time.

One thing that has become a staple in this house are brownies. Initially the goal was to get chewy brownies with a crispy top, but I couldn’t quite get the job done. Our brownies kept coming up cakey. They tasted fine, but we longed for that perfect brownie texture. I learned the key was mixing the sugar properly, but then couldn’t pull it off with low-glycemic sugar.

After years of experimentation, we finally found that by leaving the butter/chocolate/sugar mix on low heat for a really long time, you can actually get brownies that are pretty darn good. They come out like fudge, not quite the crispy-top, chewy things that mark the killer brownie, but good nonetheless. We’re happy with them, at long last.

Now we can move onto to tackling some of those cookies. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Drama Disappointment

We went over to WRJ to tryout for the local community production of Oliver. I thought it would be a great opportunity for A to continue to take part in drama, which she loves, but it wasn’t quite what I had expected. The play is a musical, and they were auditioning for parts. Since Oliver revolves around kids, they need kids, and I thought it would be a chance for A to play a mushroom or street urchin, to be involved but not front and center.

The audition was after dinner. They mentioned from 6-9, which I interpreted to mean that the sooner you came, the sooner you could leave. This meant that we could try out, and then head home in time for supper, which was waiting for us. Boy was I wrong. The audition went until about 9:30. I was so bummed. What had I gotten my kids into? I had to get them something to eat.

Plus, it was a serious audition, the real deal Broadway production. The other people auditioning were mostly seasoned theater folks, with lots of dancing and singing lessons behind them. You could tell that several of them were students of the Northern Stage school. They were good, some better than others. This was my mistake, and I guess I should have been more aware of this. I figured it was going to be a kid’s play that would be a fun experience, but NCCT puts on plays in the Lebanon Opera House, and they are serious productions. The audition was mostly adults, and I recognized a few divas in there.

I was initially interested by the fact that the director is A&N’s former teacher at N. Stage, and was always encouraging of both of them. I asked A if she was interested, and she replied with an emphatic yes, but should have delved deeper into what we were getting into, because not only was A on the young side, but the other kids all had years of ballet experience, not to mention singing and stage production. In the end, she couldn’t really compete, and was aware of it.

When the called out the people they wanted to come back for callbacks, her number wasn’t announced, and she was disappointed. She wouldn’t stop talking about it. The director stressed that this did not mean that they kids were not in the play, it’s just that they wanted to see certain people again. My guess, and I could be totally off on this one, is that the call backs were for lead roles, and we had no intention of trying out for a lead. I just wanted A to have the experience.

Either way, A was a little bummed, but I tried to be more philosophical about the whole thing. First off, it was important that if she was interested, she gave it a try. Even though she was disappointed, it’s important to learn from the experience. If she felt that she was not properly prepared, she could address that for the next time around, if she wanted. That would entail dance classes and singing lessons, neither of which I’m too keen on, but if she wanted to, we’d be supportive (A is just not a ballet-person). The other lesson is that if she was not interested, that would be the end of it. The important thing is that she tried and realized it for herself. This is in contrast to what most of us do, which is to never try, justify our inaction by convincing ourselves that it wasn’t what we wanted, and then live with a lifetime of regret.

Finally, in the age of hyper-parenting, especially with overbearing parents like myself, we tend to tell the kids that everything they do is great, which is ridiculous when you think about it, and the rest of the world might not concur. It takes a third, objective person to say it like it is, even when it is not enjoyable.

It is also important for her to know that some things require a lot of hard work and practice, and involve disappointment and even rejection. You can shelter yourself from this reality early in life by only gravitating to what is easy for you, but inevitably, life will throw you a challenge that will defeat you. If you’ve been sheltered from this all your life, when you’re older, you have a much harder time dealing with it. Sometimes, you simply do not deal with it by avoiding it altogether, an approach I’ve embraced on a number of occasions.

I completely understand going for what you’re good at and dedicating your time to it, but again, we can’t succeed in everything in life, and when you experience disappointment, it makes you realize that life isn’t solely about fun and games and having things come easy for you. There are challenges, and hardships. You cannot teach these lessons, a kid never understands when you try to explain this stuff, they have to experience it and learn, early on, that life goes on, and the important thing is to at least tried. Then, you can go through life knowing that you gave it your all, and either you didn’t like it, or it just wasn’t meant to be.

That is not to say that you should push kids in every possible direction, but the process of learning who you are involves learning who you are not. I’ve had to learn this my entire life. Anyway, truth be told, if I had been more aware of what the play was about, I might have been less enthused about it. However, several of her friends were going out for it, and again, I think A is good on stage, she just doesn’t have the training and experience, and even the best actors have that going for them.

It was a learning experience, and the darn audition went way later than they said it would, and that was a bummer. On a bright note, while N and I were waiting, we went bowling, which is always a colorful and interesting experience, even more so late in the evening.

It was fascinating to see all the people with dramatic ambitions, answering their true calling in life (kudos to them for that), and a good learning experience. We’ll take what we learned into the next round, whatever that round may be.

Also, this drama thing is not over, yet.

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

Mouse in the House

With Spring comes the glaring realization that pests awaken from their Winter slumber and come back to haunt you. For the first time, we have a mouse in the house, maybe more, though fortunately they have been isolated in the mud room.

I actually saw the guy firsthand, though I suspect he’s a she, because she seems to be collecting stuff for what seems to be a nest. This includes tearing up our beach towels and N’s bathing suit to collect fiber, and the swim stuff is high up on a shelf. When I first saw her, she was running down the length of my raincoat, and disappeared behind the freezer.

If the bugger went about her business and didn’t infringe upon us, I’d be less inclined to be so militant about getting rid of her, but on top of tearing up our stuff, she’s been getting into the food, and we store lots of food in the mud room. The mouse has been eating through plastic packaging and getting to our nuts. She ate some walnuts in the brownies, and now she’s gotten to the pecans. Time to take action.

For whatever reason, our cats have been oblivious to this mouse, which dampens their credibility some, though the mouse is sly about keeping quiet. I tried leaving the cats in the mudroom for a bit, but they are so obsessed with getting outside that they can’t be bothered with these sort of distractions, so the impetus lies with me.

I obtained a humane mouse trap. I didn’t know they existed, and am a bit skeptical of their usefulness, but it’s worth a try. We got amazingly lucky last year with the woodchuck trap, so you just never know.

If this doesn’t work, then I’ll either have to get draconian or start digging around back there and flush the thing out and let our cats have a go at it. That would be a bit gruesome, but effective.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Skate Park and the Demise of Skateboarding

N and I discovered a new skate park in nearby in Windsor, though it’s not nearly as nice as the one in W. Leb. Not that we’re complaining, it’s a place for us to go and blade and scooter. We had seen it once when we were driving around during one of A’s rehearsals, and we had to check it out.

I think it’s part of the high school, but can’t say for sure. It’s somehow affiliated with Whaleback Mountain, though, because all of the ramps said Zero Gravity, which is their slogan. A has a lot of fun riding his scooter, though I think one day he should graduate up to a skateboard. It’s cooler. There were two teenagers there doing amazing tricks, and I think N is intrigued.

Speaking of skateboards, I learned that the one skate shop around here, Embasi, closed down, so there is no place to buy skateboard equipment. I couldn’t believe it, but I guess skating just isn’t that big around here. Growing up in LA, skateboarding was huge, and skate shops were everywhere. We have a skateboard, but I think it needs new wheels, and now I don’t know where to go. Part of the fun would be for N to see the types of available and choose, but now we will probably have to go online. One guy told me that there was a shop in Ludlow, but that’s too far to go for me.

I have to confess, I’d like to ride a skateboard again, it’s been years, but I could very well break a limb or kill myself trying, but at least I’d look cool doing it.

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

No Reply

The search has begun for alternate and additional writing employment, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this will require a lot of perseverance and hard work, but patience and mental fortitude, as well. This means writing query letters for every possible topic that pops into my head, and then waiting to hear from these publications, many of which seem to completely blow you off. At least with a rejection you hear something, as opposed to sitting around gathering cobwebs while you wait for no reply.

I was perusing the job listings on Freelance Writing, and there are plenty of jobs out there, but they are pretty much en par with what I’d been doing with the blogs. They offer small fees for short pieces. The question is, do I want to keep doing that, or move onto bigger and greener pastures? The latter, of course. I will, of course, have to fashion a variety of resumes and cover letters, and then start researching my targets to gather information.

This will also require that I work a lot harder and prepare myself for increased scrutiny and a much greater level (by orders of magnitude) of rejection and heartbreak. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but with greater challenge comes greater reward, right? Nobody is going to hand you your goals on a platter. That would mean that they are no longer your own. Even though my first inclination is to look for the easy way out, I also can appreciate the importance of the journey and the value of embracing it.

I just need to jump in head first. I just need to stop talking about it and actually do it. Hmm, maybe I’ll get to it sometime tomorrow, after I finish with the home improvement projects.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Seeds Have Arrived

Are we really going to try this again? We have this love-hate relationship with gardening, or rather, I have a love-hate relationship, leaning more to the hate camp. I’m just not a gardener, and don’t have the patience and wherewithal to pull it off. R and the kids are much better at it, and they do a great job of getting things started. I can do the tilling and initial set up, and then they come in, plan the layout and plant the seeds. That is all fine and dandy.

It’s when Summer really kicks in and the weeds take over that brings me down, and in a big way. It’s a losing battle, and one that breaks my spirit every year with the head, mosquitoes, and complete despair. I tip my hat to people with beautiful gardens, it just amazes me to no end that they can pull it off.

I’ll stick with framing and cutting wood, and get my veggies at the farmer’s market. Until then, thanks for reading.

Showtime Anticipation

A’s big play is coming up, and it’s nice to have the show finally arrive because there have been days of double rehearsal where I have to drop her off and pick her up twice a day. What makes it crazy is that the rehearsals are about 20 minutes long, not enough time to really do anything, but enough to where N and I can’t sit around twiddling our thumbs. It’s easy for the kids in school because they simply have to walk over in-between classes. The challenges of homeschooling.

On the other hand, it’s a nice time for her because she gets to hang with her buddies, and she enjoys it. Plus, she gets to be away from her annoying, overbearing dad for long stretches of time, which is a bonus for her, so it’s a good situation.

With the play on the horizon, they have lots of last minute preparations to attend to, as do the parents. She mentioned that she always gets butterflies before the big show, but that’s part of the experience of performing. There’s always a bit of fear and anxiety, but actors use that excitement to add to the energy of their performance, and in the end, it’s part of what they love about acting.

It’s a long day for her, but it’ll be fun. They’re just kids, after all, and despite her parents neurosis, A always has a good time with it and does a stand up job.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back to the Bowling Alley

We had a day off from rehearsals and practices, so we decided to hit the bowling alley in WRJ. We hadn’t been there in quite awhile, especially with all three of us. It was a lot of fun, bowling is not given the appreciation that it is due, especially with children.

The one problem I run into a lot is that N always ends up scoring the lowest, and it bugs him. I know you’re not supposed to coddle and shelter kids, but somehow I don’t find any satisfaction in beating my son. If anything, I hate it, and find myself at times trying to purposefully score lower. The problem is, when you’re not very good at bowling, you can’t control where the ball goes, and I end up hitting more pins than I intended, thus scoring more points. The only way to ensure that I’ll score less is by hitting gutter ball after gutter ball, which is actually pretty easy to do. My kids think it’s kind of funny, but in a testament to their empathy, are supportive and always offer me kind words. How cool is that?

One day N will grow up and compete with the big boys, and I know he’ll do well. We really try to teach him that it’s not about winning all the time because someone will always beat you, but it’s kind of hard to really grasp this idea in the world we live in. Besides, competition is so inherent in so much of what we do.

For now, I’ll just keep hitting gutter balls. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bill Silvermintz for the pic.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time for a Piano?

Personally, I think it would be nice to have a piano in the house. The previous owners actually had one in the barn, but we weren’t interested at the time, mainly because it was collecting mold and dust in the barn, so they discarded it. Fast forward to today, where our daughter is taking lessons and enjoying them. Also, I would love to have a piano to dabble with, and I think even R and N would enjoy it, but the debate rages over whether we will truly use the piano if we got one.

In some ways, I wonder, does it really matter? Pianos are like furniture, you don’t necessarily have to play them, they just look good in your house. Now I’m not one to waste money, but we’ve been offered a few pianos for free. The only expense would be to move the thing, and we know enough people with trucks and strong backs to get the job done. Ideally, we would use my Mentors ultimate real-man truck, but he’s up in Maine.

Either way, we’ve reached a point where A needs pedals for her playing. We have an electric keyboard that is not perfect, but does the job. The only problem is, it is lacking in a few areas. First off, there isn’t a complete set of notes, which isn’t a factor, yet. The second problem is that keys are not touch sensitive, i.e., you can’t modify the loudness of the note but pressing lightly. What you hear is what you get.

And finally, it doesn’t have pedals. This, I’ve just learned, is something we can address because they actually make damper/sustain pedals, and they make them for our actual keyboard. Or rather, should I say, they carry the exact one we need at Blue Mountain Guitar. This amazes me because our keyboard is not a top of the line item, yet we can get this accessory. I love when that happens. I’ve also been told that this will suffice until we take the plunge and get the real deal, which I really believe will one day happen.

For now, we’ll make due with what we got. What choice do we have? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Robert Walker for the pic.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pizza Party

We received an email from our friend, ZT, who was our neighbor at the farmer’s market, about a pizza party he was holding. Z is a baker of killer bread that is also made from locally grown wheat that he mills himself. Toward the end of last year’s market, he procured a beautiful wood burning oven that was portable, and he started making pizzas at the market. They were a hit, and he moved onto the next phase an built a brick oven in his home.

To celebrate its inauguration, he invited a bunch of friends and neighbors to come over and have pizza. How cool is that? Of course, we had an incredibly busy day that day, and the last thing we wanted to do was to be social, but no time for whining, right? We whipped together some toppings, made a big salad, and headed on over.

His place is right outside of town, and from the looks of things, he’s got the homesteader thing going. Vegetables, goats, the whole nine yards. There was a good crowd there, and we ended up seeing a bunch of our friends and making new ones, which is what small town life is all about, right?

The pizzas were amazing, and he must have cranked out about 50 of them, they kept coming. The kids had a blast seeing their friends, it was a really nice time. We left as it got cooler and darker, which when everyone else was leaving. Another nice local and neighborly event, and yet another occasion to remind ourselves how lucky we are to live up here.

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

Drummer Boy

In the continuing quest for musicality, we have arrived at the point where we need to address the needs of our son. N has been playing drums and his teacher mentioned that he is ready for the real deal. Not a complete drum set, which is probably in the stars at some point, but just a simple, basic snare drum. She mentioned you can occasionally find one at garage sales or in the classifieds. I was hoping she’d say that she had one we could use, but it wasn’t happening. I am glad that she feels he’s capable enough to pull it off, though, and it indicates to me that he’s genuinely interested and moving forward, a fact that she confirmed in her own words.

So, after getting A her guitar and piano accessories, we may very well have to disrupt the peace and serenity (what peace and serenity?) of our house and get a real drum. Yet another mission for stay at home dad to embark on, and more impetus to get the barn finished so we can have a place to house N’s drum set. I’m hoping he’ll stay interested, because I think it would be cool if he did. Part of that fun is getting your own instrument, but we can’t rush into this, it could cost me my life.

On a good vibe note, I saw the drum guy from Blue Mountain (very cool dude) and we talked drums, and he said they get used ones in and he'd keep an eye out for one for us. I love that place.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to jason aaberg for the pic.

Fun and Fruitful Day

We had quite the busy day, like most of our days, yesterday. However, again like most of our days, we had fun. We had an appointment to put the car stereo in our car, though it was happening in the afternoon. A also had a guitar lesson, which usually happens on Tuesdays, but I had to reschedule so I can make it to the library trustee meeting. On top of that, A needs a new bike helmet, and we needed to have lunch at some point and of course, get ice cream and Fore-U. We love that place.

We headed out first thing for A’s guitar lesson, during which N and I hung out at the Howe. From there, we stopped at Listen and Good Buy to find a bike helmet, but nothing fit, so we may have to pay retail for this one. By then, it was lunchtime, so we went to Panera, which is right next to Best Buy, so convenient and a step above fast food. Apparently, half the population of the Upper Valley agreed with us, because the place was a madhouse. I couldn’t believe it, I’d never seen it so crowded. We even saw people we knew.

We managed to get a table because we were at the tail end of the lunchtime rush, but it was pretty amazing. It also amazes me how much people eat, but more on that later. After lunch, we dropped the car off at Best Buy and walked over to Fore-U. It’s a little depressing walking around W. Leb, mainly because nobody walks around that place, it’s really not even remotely designed for pedestrians. If anything, they discourage foot traffic of any kind, so when you actually do go by foot, you stand out like a sore thumb. Everyone drives by you and looks at you like the anomaly that you are. Add to that the fact that it’s a little precarious and even dangerous, and it makes you realize why we really need to re-think urban planning in this country.

Either way, we managed to cross the street and go to Fore-U, where again, it was packed, understandably so. The weather was beautiful, the first warm and sunny day of the season, I think. People wanted to celebrate in grand style, and the line was at least 20 people deep. We didn’t mind because it was such a nice day. We got our cones, hung outside and enjoyed them. It was quite a nice scene, actually.

When we finally retrieved the car, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon, and we had one more event to attend. After paying for everything and testing our new radio to the fullest, we went home to get ready for the big pizza party that evening. The hosts asked that we bring our favorite toppings and they would do the rest, but that they should be cooked. That meant good old dad had to cut, chop, and cook a bunch of stuff, and make a big salad to bring along. Never show up at a party empty handed, right?

More on the pizza party later. Until then, thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Car Audio Continues

We went over to Best Buy to take the plunge and get a car stereo. We learned that we could get it done and out the door for about $100. Sure, it’s not an absolute necessity, but it’s nice to have with the kids, and if anything, it makes the car more complete and perhaps valuable (yeah, right) if we ever wanted to trade it in.

I was looking at the choices and decided on a certain system, which also, if you can believe this, happened to be the cheapest one. For the record, I would have opted for an even less expensive one if they carried it, but they didn’t. I wasn’t looking for anything special, just something for music.

When I went to buy the thing, they had another stereo on sale, which was a bit nicer, at least to me. It was the same price, so I opted for that, but when the salesperson went to get it, lo and behold, they were out of stock. However, it was my lucky day because they had the next model up, which of course was more expensive. I thought, “You gotta be kidding me.” She showed me a couple of other options, but I told her I wasn’t looking for anything even remotely fancy, just a radio. I’m sure I’m the kind of customer that they hate, not into bells and whistles and completely unwilling to upgrade, even if it’s a good deal.

I asked for a rain check, which it turns out they don’t do, but I could buy it online or go up front and order it there. They don’t make it easy on you. And, this could be my neurotic insecurity, but they didn’t seem as warm and fuzzy when I went up front and ordered it. When it comes to high tech electrical stuff, being cheap doesn’t mesh because you can drop loads of cash at these places.

Anyway, the stereo was going to come later in the week, after the initial install appointment that I’d made, so I had to reschedule. I also had to get the right wiring, as well as an adapter harness since the stock stereo is such an unusual shape. It’s the same way for our Fit. The guy in the install department said he never rarely uses these things, which made me think that when people buy cars, they don’t go with the stock stereos. They’re too cheap and funny looking. People want nice, brand name stuff, and are willing to go in debt to get it. Such is the American Way.

In the end, I got the stuff I needed, and I’m slated to get the stereo installed this weekend. If all things go as planned, which they never do, we could very well have music in the car by Saturday. We’ll see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Vince Varga for the pic.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ice Cream Social

We went out to W. Leb and celebrated the opening weekend of Fore-U Ice Cream, and man was it good, especially in light of the fact that I don’t eat ice cream that much anymore. If anything, I never eat it, though it is hands down one of my favorite foods on this planet. We received a buy one, get one free coupon via email, so we couldn’t pass up the chance.

The place is a great because it has a playground for the kids to kill time, and it is right next to Home Depot, so I can go and shop around for man stuff. I actually needed to return a drill battery, but that’s another story. I did run into some quintessential Home Depot customer service, which for the record has improved drastically over the past couple of years, but still falls short now and then. I was looking for a culvert pipe, and they have them at LaValley’s, but they only sell them in 20 foot lengths, which is way more than I need.

I asked around at Home Depot, and got several different answers. Some people said yes, they had them, while others said no. Foolishly, I took their word and left without checking for myself, but it’s not a rush. I have time.

Otherwise, we enjoyed our ice cream cones, which are huge. They really pile on the ice cream, we got smalls and they looked like triple scoops. They also have fun and crazy flavors. The place is a bit of an institution, and we’ve only really just begun to indulge in it. I think this Summer will be different.

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

Dropping Off and Scoring at the UU Sale

Despite the fact that we are happy to have discovered the Haven, they don’t take toys. Can you believe that? Only necessary items, which makes sense when you’re in need. We had some toys we needed to drop off and the local church was happy to take them for rummage sale. The Unitarian Church is actually an interesting place because they don’t use the word god and it really is a mix of different faiths. If anything, it’s more of a club, and not a religious institution.

Either way, they have many community events, and their rummage sale is one of them. When we dropped the stuff off, they urged us to look at their sale and see if we wanted anything. We are not in need of much, but we did score a game for N and a killer bag to hold our hockey equipment. I had actually been scouring the thrift stores in search of just such a thing. I paid $1.50 for it, can you believe that?

Just goes to show you, you never know what is awaiting you out there in the world, but you’ll never find it if you don’t get out the front door in the first place.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

School Drama

We went to see the elementary school’s production of Willy Wonka the other night, and it was a lot of fun. A&N had a blast because they got to see all their buddies and there were lots of sweets to be had at the intermission, though you could tell they were not made from scratch. Either way, it was a lot of fun, and nice to see the kids working so hard at something.

JB, the director and music teacher, does such an amazing job, and that show was quite a production. Hats off to her and her crew, and of course, the kids. Next up is A’s production, which will kick into full swing in the coming weeks now that the bigger kid’s production is done. This, of course, will include parental assistance, so R and I need to be prepared to get our hands dirty.

A is excited about it all, and it should be fun, though mom and dad will be a wreck watching their child perform on stage, especially since she has a reasonably substantial role (she’s playing Mozart). Of course, she’s completely unfazed about being onstage, which is a great thing to see. We love watching her, it’s just that we tend to project our own personal neurosis and anxiety onto every situation while she’s as cool as a cucumber in front of an audience. It’s really great to see.

Anyway, onto the next production. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Premek V for the pic.

Discovering the Haven

We had a bunch of old clothes and shoes that we weren’t sure what to do with. The easiest thing would have been to simply toss them out, but they were perfectly usable, if not in pristine condition. The Listen Center is sometimes a little selective about what they’ll take, understandably so. They have to sell the stuff, and people don’t want things that look too much like junk, not that these looked this way. They just didn’t look brand new.

I’d heard about the Upper Valley Haven from friends, but had never been there. Unlike Listen or Good Buy, they give their stuff away, along with food and other necessitities. The prices at Listen are hard to beat, but if you are in such dire straits that you can’t even afford that, the Haven is there for you. We took a bunch of stuff, including clothes, shoes, computer stuff, and craft things.

We had to run other errands, and I realized too late that they close at 4:00. We got there and the doors were locked, bummer. There was another person dropping stuff off, and she said they have a side entrance, so we gave it a try. Sure enough, people were there and they gratefully took the stuff. I asked if they could use old Mac computers and their tech guy said he had no clue how to use Macs, which I thought was a total copout because Macs are much easier to use than PCs. Oh well, not a big deal.

In the end, I like the Haven and what they do, and would almost rather give our old stuff to them since they give it away. Then again, places like the Listen are so cheap, it’s hard to imagine that people can’t afford $2.00 for a pair of pants.

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

High Fidelity

The stereo in our old car has been broken for so long, I can’t even remember when it actually worked. It came with the car and within a couple of years, it stopped working. Typical stock stereo. We never got around to fixing it because it wasn’t such a big deal, and in the end, I wasn’t even sure where to go get a stereo. Life went on and we were fine.

When we got our new car, it was suddenly fun to have music in the car again. I like to listen to NPR when I go to work, and the kids love to hear their favorite songs, which is made all the more enjoyable when they can burn their own CDs and listen to them. Naturally, this inspired me to look into buying a new car stereo. I spoke to R about this and she seemed amenable to the idea.

The first issue was where to look. Growing up in LA, you car stereo shops grow on trees, as well as places to install them, which is ironic when you realize that if you own even a moderately decent stereo in that town, it will, without question, get stolen. Here in Vermont, I wasn’t sure where to go. With a little investigation, I found out that there is only one game in town when it comes to car stereos, and that’s Best Buy. We’d never even stepped foot inside that store before.

I did some initial research online, and found out that if we decided to move forward, we could get a stereo and have it installed for about $100. Not the end of the world, but I’m still not sure if it’s really necessary and will have to ruminate on this one. I waver back and forth on this topic, so we’ll see where we end up.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to CLIFF HOWARD for the pic.

Gearing Up For Spring/Summer

Now that Spring is right around the corner, we have to start planning for a whole new set of activities. The ones that we are involved in now will come to an end, and then I have to search for others. Life never stops being interesting.

For N, there are summer sports which will include baseball and, if you can believe this, hockey. I’m dreading baseball because I’m worried that I’m going to be drafted into coaching. I can handle being an assistant, but head coaching jobs make me sweat. No thank you. I do think N likes the fact that I’m there with him, however, and that makes it all worthwhile.

They also have hockey summer league, which covers all skill levels. The one we are interested in is to introduce kids to hockey and prepare them for actual competition. Not that we want to get hardcore, but I really think N is a natural, the guy in charge of the ice rink programs even agreed. He’s such a good skater, and after watching the program first hand, I know he could hang.

The kids have indicated that they want to play tennis, and I think they should take lessons, but they don’t want to. I may be able to sneak them in if there is incentive for it, namely other friends who are playing. I’ll work on that one, because as it stands, they just want to out and hit the ball around, and their tennis game is fairly non-existent. I think they’d enjoy it more if they knew the fundamentals, which they refuse to learn from me.

Hopefully it will be warm enough to swim, but I’d like to avoid the Hartland Dam. I’m still suspicious of that water, and it’s always a little grimy and a bit smelly, but that could be my imagination. There will be assorted summer camps, and also for A, theater and drama. The local community theater won’t be doing a show this year, but there are all sorts of venues for her to work with other kids and do drama, even serious stage productions. I think she’d like it. N might be able to take part through stage production because he’s not into the acting thing, but we’ll see how that transpires. Also, I’d like for A do to some video production or computer animation.

All in all, we could very well have a busy summer. Actually, we will have a busy summer, no doubt about it, but that’s not a bad thing. We just have to work a little harder, especially in light of all the other stuff that we need to do, like build a barn, cut firewood, home improvement, yard maintenance, and the farmer’s market.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Alfred Borchard for the pic.

Impromptu Trip to the Capital

Last weekend we went to the school to help the drama department build sets and paint for the big production coming up in the next few weeks. The teachers ask for donations of supplies and a helping hand in the construction of things, and we are more than happy to help. However, last year we went and ran into the problem of too many helping hands. What we ended up doing was standing around with nothing to do.

The kids have fun, however, and you can’t just drop them off and leave. R had some work related stuff to do, so I took the kids over and as predicted, stood around with nothing to do. It was okay because the kids had fun, but at some point I just went over and played basketball with N. I also had a chance to chat with SG, and we talked about kids and school. He’s a great guy, though I still feel a bit awkward when it comes to his old house, which we now own.

After about two hours, I decided that it was time to go. We had also planned on doing something later in the day, so we had to have lunch and get ready to leave. Our spontaneous idea was to head up to Montpelier for the day and check our state’s capital. We had never been there, and I’d heard it was a funky and artsy town, much like many of the towns up here. Plus, we should get to know our capital, don’t you think.

The drive takes about an hour, and the town really reminds you of Burlington, though smaller and a little less pristine. There is a nice main street with lots of cool and funky shops and restaurants, as well as a book store on every corner. We walked around and checked out the shops, and eventually picked out a place to eat supper. One thing nice was that it wasn’t so big that you are overwhelmed with choices.

We picked out a soup restaurant, of all places, because it sounded nice. It was some sort of gourmet soup/sandwich eatery that uses local ingredients called That’s Life Soup. The local thing is huge up there. The place was nice and cozy, albeit a little tight, and the soups and sandwiches were good, but it struck me as a little pricey. After all, if you’ve ever spent time in the kitchen you know that soup isn’t rocket science, nor are sandwiches, and to charge an arm and a leg for them is a bit over the top. The soup portions were big, but again, it was soup. We make soup all the time.

I’m not knocking it, the food was good, I just thought we could have had steak or salmon at Jesse’s for the same price. Next time I think we’ll try the Thai Food. It was nice visiting the big city, however, and since the drive wasn’t so bad, we’ll most definitely be doing it again, soon. It’s much more manageable and accessible than Burlington, though maybe not as much of an adventure.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to rendo79 and gulizars for the pics.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not Enough Snow

As I mentioned, we were supposed to get this mega-storm that was going to drop 18 inches of snow. Schools were closed, people were gearing up for the worst, and the storm turned out to be way more tame than anyone expected. I'm not complaining, though the fact that the storm was milder than anticipated meant that our school was open, and our usual itinerary of activities was going on as scheduled. The kids were happy about this, but I was ready to spend the day at home, snowed in and doing home improvement projects, namely painting.

Instead, we had pottery, two rehearsals, then library story hour. A full day of activities, none of it spent at home. Oh well, like any parent knows, you have to be flexible and able to adapt when you're taking care of the kids, because you never know what life is going to throw at you.

On a bright note (there is always a bright note), not to mention an interesting bit of irony, the fact that we had this late snowstorm that literally came out of nowhere resulted in the kids building their first and probably only snowman of the season. Last year we build a snowman army, we had so much snow. It was amazing. This year, we never seemed to get around to it, until now. The kids went outside and whipped them together in a matter of minutes. Pretty impressive stuff, if you ask me. They even made a snow dog to go along with him

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Ready for Spring

Well, it looks like all indicators point to the fact that we are ready for spring, despite our love for the snow. Normally I get bummed when the snow starts to melt, but now I've set my mind to warmer weather, and we have all been embracing activities that go along with the weather change.

Case in point, N has been ready to start playing some baseball. He was outside playing with his bat in the snow and I think it may be time to dust off the baseball gloves and baseballs, though I think he'll still be in t-ball. Not sure what is going on with that, but we'll see. He's been doing t-ball for the past two seasons, and I'm not sure at what age he goes into baseball. I don't recall playing little league until the 5th grade, so if that is any indication, he's a ways off.

It's been a pretty fruitful Winter in terms of snow, and there is still plenty of it on the ground. We are going to have a miserable mud season, but don't get me started. R was itching to start hanging laundry outside on our line, and even though it was cool, it was breezy, and by noon the temps were above freezing, so the sheets dried just fine. R and A wanted to go for a power walk, and since N and I don't partake in these endeavors, we went to the rec center and tried to play tennis.

The court is still covered in snow, but we hit the ball back and forth in the parking lot and it dawned on me that this was a great way for him to tone up his hand eye coordination. Forget about getting it over the net, just connect with the darn ball.

After tennis, we actually got home after R and A, and they were busy making omelets for supper. Not just any sort of omelet, but gourmet omelets with ham, mushrooms, pepperoni, grilled onions and peppers, and cheese. Amazing stuff, we literally chowed down.

What a nice day we had, a prelude to Spring and warmer weather. Of course, we're supposed to get 18 inches of snow, but that's just a formality at this point.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.