Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bionic Mom

Our camera has been malfunctioning lately. The flash stopped working, and my first thought is that it burned out. However, something clearly wasn’t right, because you could see the camera struggling to do something, it just wasn’t quite clicking right.

I went online and learned a couple of troubleshooting techniques, some better than others. The most popular seemed to be tapping the bottom with your finger. Not very scientific, but whatever works, right?

Either way, R took over, and with her magic touch, she fixed the camera. I didn’t ask her what she did, but at some point I saw her unscrewing the back of the camera to dismantle it. Yikes! Sometimes you’re better off not knowing.

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

Making Friends

I ended up making a friend during hockey camp, and he’s a SAHD, as well, though to his credit, he works way more hours than I do. JW works evenings as a fireman and then watches the kids for most of the day while his wife, HW, works full time, I’m assuming.

He’s one the nicest and friendliest guys I’ve ever met, always cheerful and pleasant. His son was doing hockey camp with N, and we hung out the entire time and chatted about life. What a great guy. By the end of camp, we exchanged emails and I’d love to KIT, but probably never will, unless we cross paths in the hockey universe. In the end, it’s hard for me to develop friendships unless there is a common bond with our kids. His son is little young to really hang out with N, so it’s difficult to just hang out as guys.

Oh well, I’m sure we’ll see him around, he lives in the big city, and we are there fairly frequently, probably eating at the same places. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to wendy domeni for the pic.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hockey Reflections and the Search for More

As the saying goes in sports, specifically hockey, keep those feet moving. Hockey camp is over, but we are currently in the search for more, more. There are a number of opportunities to take these camps, and it’s kind of the thing to do if you want to play. It’s all about practicing and getting the experience, and it’s difficult to pull that off without proper coaching. I sure can’t do it.

After that, the next step will be to investigate a team to play on. I learned that there are in fact several teams in the area, and they were all represented at this camp. The biggest and best is the Hanover squad, they are amazing and have the reputation for being the best. I used to wonder why Ivy League schools always had the best hockey teams, and now I know why. Hockey is expensive and not accessible to the masses. To become the best, it requires a fair amount of time and money on the part of the parents. That, or grow up in Canada.

We are hoping for Woodstock, but Hartford and even Plainfield have teams. This should be interesting, and at the very least, fodder for this blog. This has really been a fun and interesting experience, and you can see the parents really getting into it. I was impressed how much the moms are invested, and they are out there screaming and cheering for their kids. They also get pissed off when they think their kids either aren’t performing adequately or aren’t being given the credit they feel they deserve. Talk about competitive energy, it’s a little disconcerting. The guys seem way more laid back.

I also want to mention that when N first expressed some interest in this, we went to watch the learn to play session, and I came away from it thinking N could skate circles around these kids. The ones who showed up to this camp, however, weren’t those same kids, they were experienced players who were amazingly talented. It was an good and interesting experience, and just goes to show you, things are not always as they appear.

Whatever be the case, we’re in the hunt for more hockey. We’ll see how this goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Frank Levert for the pic.

Getting it Wrong and Dumplings

Boy, talk about being dazed and confused. A had her ensemble rehearsal and I got the time and place all mixed up. In my defense (I am not defensive!), the teacher bounces the location between Hanover and Norwich, and I could have sworn he said that during the Summer his lessons are in Norwich. Taking this to heart, I probably didn’t read the email closely enough, and assumed it was in Norwich, which is nice because there is a cool playground that N loves to hang out in.

R took the kids and yours truly stayed at home and made dumplings. At some point I got a phone call from R saying that there was no guitar lesson in Norwich. There was some birthday party going on instead. Oops! I called the Hanover location and they said that there was a lesson scheduled for 3:30, so looking at the bright side, I got it wrong, but left time to spare. R jetted the kids over to Hanover and A made it on time. Whew! I need a Blackberry.

Either way, while all this drama was unfolding, I made dumplings for Wednesday’s market. Things have been slow, the weather has been terrible, so we don’t have to make as many dumplings. This is good and bad, for reasons that are probably obvious. On Sunday, we’ll do the final push for the coming week, which is going to be crazy once again, but as long as the kids are happy, mom and dad are happy.

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

Dramatic Inclinations?

We had time so we lingered a bit for A’s theater camp, and it was really cool. You can see how some kids just fit right into the dramatic scene like a glove. They do some improv techniques, and the kids who are a little crazy and whimsical really have a chance to shine. If you’re more reserved or shy, I think it can be a daunting experience. I know I’d be petrified.

Either way, it was nice to watch and great to see the kids have fun with it. You can see that it is a chance to be really creative, and I could tell that A was having a blast. She was right in her element. Thanks again to JA for all her help and support.

N even wanted to stay and watch, though I wasn’t quite clear what the policy is for staying and watching. It might have even piqued his interest, but he would never admit to this, he’s so reserved and aloof. He’s such a guy, though I think he’d have a lot of fun with it.

I’m glad A’s enjoying it. Then again, she enjoys most of the things she gets into, especially when she gets to really let loose and be silly and crazy. We’re all for it over on this end.

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

Busy as Bees and Crazy Week Ahead

I’ve come to the conclusion that all this insanity is simply a part of modern parenthood. If your kids didn’t do any sort of organized activities, then life would be much simpler, but as soon as they are playing sports or taking camps, then your life becomes one big scheduling nightmare.

This week A’s camp goes into full swing, and takes up a big chunk of the day. Normally this is a great thing, except that N will want to do fun things to compensate for his lack of organized activities, which isn’t quite fair because he had hockey camp all last week. Then again, the memory of a 7 year old doesn’t extend back far enough to include the previous week. So, I will need to entertain N, though there are several things going on that will fit the bill. Also, A will need a lunch packed every day.

We actually have a playdate with RL on Monday, which is a fabulous thing. Then on Tuesday, we’re picking up CH and taking A to her guitar lesson, and Wednesday is the market. This leaves Thursday and Friday to account for, but I think we can cover two days. Plus, I have work to do around the house, and if the weather is good, N will have to bear with me and watch me work. He sometimes enjoys this, and even helps out, but we’ll see.

Somehow, as the kids get older, their lives become more complicated and involved, which means that mom and dad have more on their plate. Then again, that’s exactly how we like it, right?

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting Published

I got my first piece of writing published in a legitimate publication, the Valley News. It was one of those situations that I really didn’t expect much, but figured it was worth a try. I sent an essay in about being a SAHD, figuring that it would simply be a sample of my writing and I might have the chance to write something else, but the editor liked it and asked me to adapt it.

I was surprised, but grateful for the chance, and rewrote it to be less whimsical and to have a broader appeal. R helped me out, thanks to her editing abilities. These conversations all occurred before we left for vacation, and when we got back, I sent in the piece, and lo and behold, it came out in the paper, on Father’s Day, no less.

Now I’ve got something to put down on my website that people won’t look at and say, “What publication is that?” Maybe I can finally get my glorious freelance writing career started so we can afford to maintain our fabulously opulent lifestyles.

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

Fourth Market

This past market was a complete drag, mainly because the weather, which was unusual because it rained the entire time. Usually we get a bit of a break and though it might drizzle, it has in the past let up and the market went okay. This time, the rain started from the get go, and it never let up. I’m surprised we sold anything at all.

Sales have been declining from the start, which is disappointing, but we’re still ahead of last year, so it’s not all bad news. Now if we could just get some good weather that wasn’t baking hot or rainy, life would be better. On a bright note, we don’t have to make as many dumplings.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Hockey is Done but Not Over

We had our last hockey day of hockey, and both N and I will miss it, though he will more because he had such a good time. I’ll miss watching the kids play, it’s so awesome to see, I can’t even begin to tell you.

I’m also immeasurably proud to point out that N was promoted by the end. He came in the only kid who had never played hockey before. All of the other kids had some hockey team or camp experience, but N had none. We have skated a lot, and even played with a puck on the pond, but he’d never geared up, and never gone through drills. They really put you through the ringer in these camps, and N really held his own. I can’t tell you how proud of him we are.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, some of these kids have been skating for as much as five years, and it shows. N couldn’t compete, not that he cared, he’s just having fun. It’s his neurotic dad who is worried and anxious. They placed the kids in groups according to their abilities so they could have more fun and not get left behind. They had the expert A group of kids, most of whom were older with a few exceptions, and these kids were ready for the NHL. They were amazing. Then they had the B group of kids who were good skaters and puck handlers, but not quite at the A group level. Finally, there were the beginners, or C group, which N was in. This was good, because he didn’t have to get too insecure and worried about not keeping up.

Well, by the end of the camp, N had been bumped up to the B group, and I was doing cartwheels down the aisles I was so excited. He wasn’t even really aware of what was going on, which is fine, though I want him to be proud of his progress. The kids in the B group were also closer to his age, and he even seemed to jive with them and make friends. These kids were good, and N was still working hard to keep up, but he was more in his element. These kids are much more sound hockey players, and they keep each other in line and guide one another, so N gets some firsthand encouragement, if not a little pressure, to work hard on the ice. It’s a good experience for someone is probably not pushed hard enough at home by mom and dad. Peer pressure can accomplish amazing things, especially in sports.

We stayed, of course, for the free skate afterward, and N and his hockey buddies went nuts on the ice. It was cute because two little girls who were figure skaters arrived and were bummed that all these crazy boys had taken over the ice, but to their credit, they braved the jungle. Some of the hockey boys skated over and watched in amazement as if they’d never seen figure skaters before, or for that matter, girls. They were really good figure skaters, too.

After skating, N was hungry, so we stood in line for pizza at the rink, but the family right in front of us nabbed all the pieces. Bummer. I asked for a phone book and called Pizza Chef in Woodstock and ordered a small pie - you gotta love cell phones. Then we picked A up at the library, they ate their pizza in the car and we headed home.

Normally I would take them home and make lunch, but A has theater camp about an hour after N’s hockey camp, so there is no time. I tried it yesterday, and we were scrambling because we get home a little after 1:00, and have to be at the school by 2:00, which leaves us little to no time to prepare lunch and eat. This way, at least they were fed by the time we got home, leaving them a little time to unwind and me time to unpack N’s hockey things to dry.

We then took A to her gig, and N and I ran some errands. We got to watch a little of the theater camp, but that’s for another time. I also want to thank KB once again for setting us up with all the equipment for hockey. He saved us, we couldn’t have done it without him.

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

It Never Ends

Boy, sometimes you do everything to cover your bases, and you still get sucked into the vortex. I took the kids to ultimate frisbee last night with every intention of just sitting it out, and of course I got cajoled into playing. I even showed up in jeans and boots, but they needed a player, and how could I not help out?

I don’t know where kids get the energy, but N had played hockey for almost two hours right before, and still wanted to do UF. I couldn’t believe it. The day had started out as usual, making dumplings for the market. The weather was gray and miserable as usual, but at some point in the afternoon, it got nicer, and even warm, though not much in the way of sun. I figured if it rained we could skip UF.

N has hockey on the brain, and wanted to play more. It just so happened that the hockey rink has all sorts of summer skills camps. I contacted the coach/director DF, and he said they’d love to have N join in, though he would probably be playing with kids who had more experienced. I thought it would be fine, and the best way to elevate his game.

The practice went until about 6:00, and UF starts at 6:00, so the plan was to skip UF since we were busy. The kids were incensed, especially A, who is now a UF lover, as well. Being the big softie marshmallow that I am, I gave in and said we could do both, though it baffled me how N had the energy. I get tired just thinking about it.

We got out of hockey, jetted home to pick up A, then off to the green where the game had already started. There were not as many players so they welcomed us. One of the guys left, so they were one short. They were trying to convince one of the moms to join, but she wouldn’t budge. Finally, I gave in and said I’d play, and proceeded to take off my boots and socks and jump in. I would have played in my boxer shorts, but it was thankfully cooler at that point. In fact, a beautiful evening, perfect for UF.

We played until about 8:00, then N had a quick bath. The kids watched a quick video while R and I made the last batch of dumplings and I cooked them. Then off to bed and the end of another great, albeit tiring, day. At least I got my exercise in for the week.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Picnic

I was talking to CH the other day and she made a great point. She said that after all this time of attending to everyone else’s needs and ignoring her own, she thought it wasn’t unreasonable to think of her own needs now and then. I say “amen” to that.

Of course, what sounds good in theory often falls on its face in reality. Case in point, the other night we had two options to go out in the afternoon, and all I wanted to do was sit back at home and relax, if such a thing exists. The day before we had to do hockey, shoppping for market, and karate. The next day, the kids wanted to go to the summer library picnic and then the potluck supper at our friend JM’s house. I told them we couldn’t do both, though I was thinking we would do both. I even bought tomatoes to make salsa, but then R and I talked it over and decided we needed to get home early so N could some sleep for hockey. So, I told them we could only do one of them.

They were bummed, but decided on the picnic, which I figured would be more fun. It was a dinner picnic, and I wasn’t in the mood to fix a picnic supper, so I employed my new afternoon activity meal plan. The way it works is you feed them breakfast, then a light snack around lunchtime, then an early supper/late lunch meal. If they eat supper around 3:00-3:30, then they’re not hungry at 5:00, and they’re good to go until bedtime. Usually in the evening they can have some cheese and crackers or some fruit. It’s kind of the Euro meal plan, and gets me out of having to fix dinner in the evening after the festivities.

Anyway, we went to the picnic and I just brough along grapes and watermelon. It was a beautiful afternoon, I have to say that, though the turnout was a little disappointing for A. None of her friends were really there, and I think she’s getting up in the years for these things. I think they’re really geared for younger kids. In the past, the picnic has been a lunchtime gig, but this year it was later.

They had fun, nonetheless, and they had storytellers afterward. This couple records CDs of folk tales and folk music, and they look like aging hippies, to say the least. It was fun, the kids enjoyed it, and I got to sit there and shut off my mind, though what I really wanted to do was work on the computer and write this blog. Of course, it didn’t work out that way, but what else is new?

Afterward, we went home and went to sleep. The kids have been pretty active this Summer, and it’s only just begun. What does the rest of the season hold for us?

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

More Hockey Time

Okay, I have to confess, as much as I love watching N play hockey, this schedule is wreaking havoc on our lives, especially with the market et al. I have zero reservations about it, and want N to move to the next level (if he wishes it) because he’s good and he loves it, but man is hockey a time commitment. It really demands a lot of the kids and parents alike, but maybe that’s the only way they make it to the NHL.

The camp starts out at 8:30, but as I mentioned, people are there way before that. Some of them have to drive an hour to get there. When 8:30 rolls around the kids are suited up and ready to hit the ice. Once the camp starts, they don’t mess around, and are working hard from the get-go. They really teach them the cold hard facts, and you can see where all the skills come in because they really work out there. They get a couple of breaks, and by the end, the kids are pretty worked out. I can see N is sweating and tired, but man does he look good out there, and he’s having a blast. Then A&N want to do the free skate, which takes up another 1.5 hours. By the end, the day is pretty much done, and then we often have activities in the afternoon. Life is crazy for the modern parent, especially once you get into the hockey scene.

The first few days were pretty easy going with the a small group of kids and parents. The coaches even said that the class would grow on Wednesday because that’s when certain schools got out. I later learned that these were the Hanover and Norwich schools, where the kids don’t mess around, or should I say, the parents don’t mess around.

On Wednesday’s camp, the rest of the kids showed up, and I can’t even begin to tell you how good some of these kids were. They were amazing, skating like pros. It was pretty impressive, if not a little disconcerting. Clearly these kids have been in the program for some time. I’m sure you see a lot of the same kids on the ski racing teams, along with their intense but supportive parents.

Once they took the ice, there was no competing with them. They grouped the kids according to skill levels, which was good because N could be with kids more his speed. I think he may be the only one out there who is playing hockey for the first time. I came to this conclusion after talking to the other parents, and got the impression that all of them have prior hockey experience. As I mentioned, N has some catching up to do, but he’s doing great.

The coaches are very encouraging, and I’d like to investigate getting him into a league in the Fall. I think he could do well, but am not sure we want him to be as intense as some of these big city pros. They really are on the program, and it shows in their level of play. Also, like skiing, you see why Ivy Leagues schools have such great hockey programs, because hockey is expensive, and to get to the upper echelons, it takes a considerable financial commitment on the part of mom and dad. This is not as much of a problem in Hanover/Norwich or Woodstock.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo for the pic.

Bell-ing the Cats

The cats have been on a rampage, killing various rodents and birds with cold blooded efficiency. That’s what cats do, but it’s kind of a bummer, even for me. I like birds, though I could do without squirrels and chipmunks, even though they’re kind of cute.

Anyway, we decided to end the senseless slaughter and put bells on our cats. Sure, it would lessen their fun, but they could still enjoy the stalking part. The goal would be to hopefully lower their rate of success. We got the collars at W. Leb Feed and Supply, and put them on the cats when we got home. They didn’t resist, and we figured we were home free.

However, within a few hours, I noticed that both the cats were collar free. Somehow they had managed to lose the things, either on purpose or by accident, and they were back to being killing machines. Sure enough, when R was home and we were sitting around the deck, Dusty pounced into the bushes and came out with a chipmunk in her mouth. R and the kids rushed over and saved the thing, but R was incensed and scolded us for not putting the collars on properly. Bummer.

Oh well, back to the drawing board. Life on the wild frontier is not without its share of drama.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to tim & annette for the pic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flashes of Brilliance

As I mentioned, I bought the wrong water bottle for N. I brought along his regular bottle, and noticed that all of the other kids had the same type of squeeze bottle with the long straw on the end. I chalked it up to conformity before I realized that there was a practical side to it all - the straw was the only way to drink water through the cage of the helmet. Duh!

Well, I got him a new bottle, and then proceeded to forget it this last practice. Dad is such a knucklehead sometimes, a fact that my kids are more than happy to remind me of. There was still the issue of getting fluids into N, so I got him a Gatorade and told him he had to take his helmet off to drink it, which he hates doing because he thinks it’s a big pain in the you know what.

Then N enlightened me with a brilliant insight. He said to put the drink in a cup and he could drink it through a straw. Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Of course, it worked out beautifully.

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

Proud Hockey Dad, and Paying For It

N is loving hockey, and he’s good at it. I can’t tell you how cool I find this development. The kids look so cool in their hockey gear, and it’s amazing to watch them skate around and play. I envy them. The fun, however, comes at a price. Our days are crazy, and hockey doesn’t mess around with scheduling. It can be grueling when you really get into it.

Even this camp is supposed to be an intro, but it starts at 8:30 and goes until aournd noon. This takes up a huge chunk of the day, though I really enjoy watching him. Yesterday, we had hockey all morning, then R dropped A off at the library. After he was done, I had to go pick her up, then we went back to the rink for public skate. After skating, we had to go to W. Leb Feed to get cat collars, then back home to have a late lunch.

We were slated to go to the Summer reading kickoff at the library, but before that, I had to deal with this skunk in our Have a Heart Trap. I also had to prepare for the market, and at some point, you really feel overwhelmed. Being the loving husband that I am, I also made supper for R so she could have something to eat when she got home.

I wanted to work on the computer at the library, but didn’t want to be too antisocial so I hung out at the picnic and chatted with the parents. Then when the show started, the library actually closed, so I couldn’t work and had to sit through the show. Afterward, we went home, the kids got ready for bed, and I started loading the cars for the market. After that was done, I had to make sauces for the dumplings, and then get N’s equipment ready for hockey the next morning, after which we will have to get to the market.

How’s that for completely insane? Then again, you make your bed and have to sleep in it. The question is, who gets any sleep?

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

More on Our Plate

Since we’re bored and idle with nothing better to do, I’ve taken it upon myself to make yet another website, this time for the Grateful Dumpling. For all it’s worth, this one should be easier to make than the previous one because now I have some experience, and it’s not as critical than my own site because it’s really just a side note to the dumpling stand.

I’m also inspired by the Cupcake Queen, who has the social media thing down to an art. Her stand has a Facebook and Twitter page, and she promotes it accordingly. Not that we want to rise to that level, but Facebook and Twitter are easy enough to put together, and best of all, they’re free.

So, here I go again, jumping into another adventure. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of complaints and angst that will stem from this endeavor, but think of all the fodder it will create for this blog. It sure beats watching TV.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bev Lloyd-Roberts for the pic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stumbling Through Our First Day of Hockey

Sorry for the long list of posts, I'm making up for lost time because we are so busy.

Hockey seemed like a abstract concept way back when, so I conveniently tucked it away in the back recesses of my mind, perhaps thinking I wouldn’t have to actually deal with it since I had no clue what it would be like. In other words, I had some reservations and even a little anxiety because we’d never done hockey, and you know how I get with new experiences.

Well, you can run, but you can’t hide, because sure enough, the camp arrived, and it was time for dad to deal with his life. As usual, I was poorly prepared, though it wasn’t a complete disaster. First off, a world of thanks to KB for lending us all the equipment, he really set us up. I hadn’t even checked to see if we had everything we needed, I just figured it would all be there. The night before camp began, I brought it up from the basement and figured things would work out. We also fitted his mouth guard that morning.

The major drawback of the camp is that it’s in the early AM, and N is not a morning person. We were supposed to be there at 8:30, and it takes about 20 minutes to get there. We didn’t have time to really eat breakfast, so we woke up, brushed our teeth, got a muffin and juice and hit the road. I realized I screwed up on a number of things, but live and learn, as the saying goes.

First off, we were late. They recommended getting there a little early, which I thought was crazy, because it was early enough, but clearly not for all the hockey go-getters. Plus, they all go to school, so they’re primed and ready for the early morning start. When we arrived, I was so bummed, because all the other kids were fully equipped and on the ice.

We quickly went to the locker room and got ready, and there I ran into my second big problem - I had no clue how to get all that equipment on N, and belive me when I tell you, there’s a lot of equipment. There was a mom in there who had three kids playing hockey, so she knew the drill, and helped us out. Thanks so much to her, she saved us. Also, by some miracle, we had everything he needed. It was at this point that I became aware of my biggest blunder of them all - I’d forgotten N’s hockey stick. How could I be so stupid? A player needs his stick, and we had just gotten one for him.

The camp provided one for him, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but I felt like an idiot. Through the course of the morning, I also realized he was the only kid with a different water bottle. Since they wear caged helmets, they need a water bottle with a spout that will fit in though the cage. I kept looking at all those water bottles and wondering why they all had the same ones. I chalked it up to conformity before the light bulb went on.

Once the kids were on the ice, things calmed down. The most important thing was that he had a blast, and I think he held his own fairly well considering that it was his first time playing hockey. It’s possible he was just being nice, but the coach said that based on his play, he would have never guessed that it was his first time playing hockey. BTW, the coach is friends with KB.

They went through all sorts of drills, and played small scrimmages. Again, I thought N did very well, and has some natural abilities with skating. The puck handling will take a little practice, but he’s a jock, he’ll figure it out. It was the first time for him on the ice in several months, though several of the kids out there were excellent skaters, and I wondered if they’d been skating all this time.

N was also skating on real hockey skates for the first time. He had been using his kid’s buckle skates, which have hockey blades, up until now. In a serendipitous twist of fate, our friend HH had given us a pair of hockey skates that she said they had no use for, and they fit N, so we took them. Good thing, because if he had used his old skates, he would have been the only kid out there without real hockey skates, and you don’t want to stand out too much. There’s a cool factor involved in being an athlete that you can’t ignore.

Towards the second half, mom dropped A off and got to see N in action. She had to go to work, so A and I hung out and watched. There was an open skate right after practice, so we all got to skate together.

In the end, we survived our first hockey session, though it was a serious learning experience, and a little traumatizing for dad. What else is new? We’ll be more ready the next time. Right after practice, we skated for a bit, and then headed over to Stateline Sports to get the kid’s skates sharpened and procure a new water bottle and mouth guard for N.

I’m sure that today I’ll realize I screwed something else up, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. The most important thing is that N is loving hockey, and that’s all that matters for now.

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

Ultimate Frisbee

We had the best game of ultimate frisbee (UF) last week, mostly because both A&N took part, and N kicked some serious butt. He scored I think 4 or 5 goals, and he was beaming and on top of the world. His teammates kept referring to him as their secret weapon, and he ate it up. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s become quite good at throwing and catching the frisbee, and it means the world to him that he’s found his place in the UF universe. Thanks to all of the players for helping him along and making him feel welcome.

A also joined in, and now she’s hooked, as well. When we got there, she had every intention of just sitting back and watching her dad and brother play. However, JM and his daughter were there, and they encouraged her to practice a little and take part. Before she knew it, she was getting good and tossing the old disc around, and by the time the game started, JM had talked her into playing. She was pensive at first, and we were on the same team, so I helped her out and encouraged her. I think she was worried about doing the wrong thing, but I helped to break the ice by screwing up completely and turning it disc over several times as well as getting burned on defense over and over again. I’m old and slow.

Either way, it doesn’t matter in the end because it’s all in good fun, though some of those guys are amazingly good. It helps being young and fast. By the time about half an hour had passed, A was completely into it, and having a blast. It was cute how excited they get, and on a few occasions, when N or A was on the opposing team, I have to confess to letting my defense slip a little and letting them catch the frisbee. I’m not going to swat it away from my own kids.

We played until it was getting dark, and made several new friends. I never really envisioned myself as a UF player, it seems so young and hip, but though I’m probably the slowest and least agile player out there, I’m not the oldest, so I’ve got that going for me. On a bright note, I’m not nearly as sore this time around as the last time we played, so I might be getting in better shape. I hope so.

The kids can’t stop talking about UF and next weekend. I hope my body holds out, though they’re at the stage now where they could easily play on their own, so I could assume the position of spectator if I wanted to. Then again, life’s always better when you’re a participant, right?

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

Surviving Balloon Fest

We thought we were going to squeak by without having to go to Balloon Fest, but it’s pretty hard to avoid. Then again, we managed last year. The kids were playing with their buddy CH, and they were talking about going because he’s a big fan of the balloons. Once the subject came up, our kids were primed and ready. Plus, the way it worked out with A and her other buddy H, they ended up going there anyway, so there was no way we weren’t going.

Before I go any further, just wanted to say thanks a bunch to my Mentor for all his help. We got to the fest a little later than we had planned, or should I say, later than N wanted, because I had to meet the plumber to discuss the plans for the barn, and then we had to engage in all that boring adult conversation that drives our kids nuts.

Being the frugal guy that I am, I didn’t want to pay for parking, so we parked just down the road by the covered bridge, which wasn’t so bad. We got the fest and cruised around, not sure what our plan was. We checked out the frisbee dog show, and N loved that. It was interesting being back in Quechee, in our old haunt, no less. We saw a bunch of people we hadn’t seen in awhile, and even some we had just met. In fact, we saw RL, a potential playmate and buddy for N, though at the time, N completely blew the kid off. So much for congeniality. I think he tends to gravitate to older kids because he hangs with his big sister so much.

As luck would have it, we ran into the H’s, and that pretty much made the rest of our day a good one. Not only was CH being his usual cool self by inviting N to hang out with him and his buddy, but I got to hang out with my buddy, DH, while the boys took off and roamed on their own. Talk about a life saver. Then again, I would have been fine just sitting somewhere by myself and eating corn dogs, but I like DH, we definitely jive on a lot of matters, including music, though he’s much more erudite on this subject.

It was good for N because he got to hang with CH, who he adores, and they got to feel somewhat independent with the parents not around. It was a fun day, and we eventually crossed paths with A and her buddy. It ended up being a late night for everyone, and preceding a really busy week. This should be interesting.

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

Life’s Complicated, but Everyone Wins

With hockey and the market, I've been having a really hard time finding time to blog, so sorry for the spottiness.

Anyway, in the spirit of parents helping each other out, I asked CH for yet another favor, and she happily obliged. As I mentioned, there are a ton of things going on over here, and with one market over, we have to prepare for another. This meant that between the two markets, we have to make more dumplings, and lots of them.

To complicate this matter, the kids had tennis lessons, and HH called in the AM to see if we could watch the girls (including their dog) for a few hours while she ran her own errands. I told her we had to be somewhere at 12:00, but come on over. Talk about a busy morning. Also, the local market was going on that evening, and the kids wanted to go. I just wanted to sit at home and watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t want to burden CH with more kids to watch over, but I found ways to justify doing just that. First off, CH and I can always count on one another in our time of need when it comes to watching the kids. It’s nice to have someone you trust. Our kids all get along like crazy, and they have fun together because they have similar dispositions, which is a bonus. And finally, we all drive to the same place for tennis, which can be construed as wasteful, and carpooling makes more sense.

So, with all of this brilliant logic in mind, I decided to ask CH if she could take the kids with her to tennis, allowing me to make dumplings. She was happy to help, but mentioned that she had errands to run afterward, and if it was okay, would take the kids along. I said fine, take as much time as you need, I’d be holed up behind a hot stove all day.

I thus had to prepare while HH’s kids were over. They just played with the dog and then came inside to do their nails, leaving me to make dumplings. At some point, I had to pack lunches for the kids, as well as snacks for them and H’s. CH came by and packed everyone into her car, and they were off. Everyone was excited, including me, because I didn’t have to bore the kids with cooking dumplings all day. They were really excited, and I appreciate CH’s willingness to take them.

CH mentioned she had some shopping to do in W. Leb, and if it was okay, she’d take A&N along. I said they’d love it, because it’s always more fun shopping with friends than boring old dad. CH said it actually made her life easier because her kids also get bored with shopping, and now they had friends along to share in the misery. I love when things work out like that.

It turned out to be quite a day. They were out all day, and didn’t come back until the late afternoon. I was able to complete about half of the dumplings. At one point near the end of my toiling, our friend showed up and asked if I could help her load her truck before the local market. I was in the middle of doing all sorts of things, but our friend is disabled, and I felt like I couldn’t say no. Plus, she’s a good friend, and we all like her so much.

I dropped everything, jumped in her truck, and we headed over to the farm to load up the back. She then dropped me back off, I finished up with the dumplings, and then R came home early to help out. By about 4:30, CH returned with the kids, and they were pumped and ready to head over to the market. Needless to say, I wasn’t, but such is the life of a SAHD, always running around for your kids. At least I didn’t have to cook supper.

The market was nice, the weather was beautiful, though I didn’t have my good friend DH there to save me and keep me company. It actually worked out fine, N brought his frisbee, and JD was there with her son, so we played out on the grass. It dawned on me that her son, ED, might be a good playmate for N, but it’s also dangerous meddling too much in the affairs of your kids.

We always end up staying at the market until it closes, which means we were there until about 7:30. Talk about a long day. We packed up and headed home. The local market has been slow, and I have to confess, as guilty as I feel about not doing it, I sure don’t miss all that extra work. We have enough going on over here, as you might have gathered.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I spent this past Father’s Day doing what I love best - you guessed it, making dumplings. For all it’s worth, the market has been on the slow side, so we don’t need to make as many as we have in the past, but it’s always slow at first, and things will probably pick up as the school transitions into its Summer population.

I had indicated that I didn’t want to make a big deal about F-day because I don’t think it’s such a big deal. We had gone to Balloon Fest the previous day and had a long, fun and eventful day, so we had our fill of good times, at least I had. The weather was fabulous, too, so I wanted to get some stuff done around the house, especially on the yard. Sunday is also ultimate Frisbee day, so we had to be at the field by 6:00. This meant we couldn’t eat supper at the usual time because it’s hard to fun like that one a full stomach.

Either way, I woke up early and started in on the dumplings first thing. Even though there were plenty of other things I’d rather be doing, it’s good to get the dumplings out of the way ASAP so you can free up your day to do other things, like make more dumplings. Just kidding.

R came downstairs later and helped out, and we finished around noon, which is great, because there was grass to cut and wood to split and barns to build. She ended up doing loads of laundry and cleaning up the mess that the kids and I make throughout the week. Sorry.

After the dumplings were made, I embraced the clichĂ© of fatherhood and mowed the lawn. I’ve found that this year, and to a lesser extent last year, I’ve come down with grass OCD. That might be the only way to keep it from getting out of control, but I feel this overwhelming need to keep it nicely trimmed, and act accordingly. I felt like last year, with the two markets and all, I had no time to cut the grass, and it was always messy and unkempt. It really bummed me out.

This year, I’ve been mowing/weed whacking like a mad man, but it’s been in fairly good shape, and green! Even the kids have commented on the fact that it looks like a lawn this year. Bear in mind, these things don’t happen by accident. All part of my lawn rejuvenation project.

At some point, R and the kids wanted to celebrate F-day, even though I was happy just doing yard work. We were pondering a trip to Hanover for Boloco burritos, but the kids were still tired from a very active day at the B-fest, and a trip all the way to the big city was probably a bit much. We decided to check out our friend’s (RC) new restaurant, The Farmer’s Diner, in Quechee. He took over the place after it went out of business earlier this year. It is a great location, but before our friend took over, the food was mediocre and the service poor.

Now he’s revamped the place, the food is great, and the service wonderful. The diner only serves breakfast and lunch, but it’s open later in the day until 4:00, so we could feasibly eat an early supper there. That’s huge, because it’s hard finding a good place to eat that’s affordable and somewhat healthy. The new menu is great, with local foods and products, and very nicely prepared. We had breakfast burritos with this amazing salsa, and A had the buttermilk pancakes and N had an omelette. The food was wonderful, and we’re happy to have found a new place to chow down.

After supper, we had ice cream at the Gorge, and then back home split more wood before heading off for ultimate frisbee, but that’s a story for another time.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Leon Tiedt for the pic.

Side-Tracked

We’ve had two days in a row of good weather, I can’t believe it. But as they say, gotta make hay while the sun shines, so I have to get out there and take care of things while it’s not pouring rain. I had this grand plan which fell to pieces because we got side-tracked, but I can’t complain because the distraction stemmed from having a really nice day.

When we woke up in the AM, the sun was shining and just like that, our outlook on life improved. Funny how a little sunshine can do that. I wanted to work more on the barn and mow the lawn. I even wheeled the mower out onto the grass to remind me. If there was time, there was firewood to work on, as well.

Anyway, before I started, we had dumpling stuff to take care of, so we had to go to White River Junction, but before that, the kids wanted to stop by the H’s house to drop off a movie that A made for CH. When he was over the other day, they made a film about Lego warriors flying through the air and exploding, so A downloaded it onto the computer and edited it into a movie. For the record, she did an amazing job.

Having burned the film onto a DVD, she wanted to bring a copy to CH, so we called and they said come on over. They loved the film. They were just hanging out, and asked if we could hang, too. The day was beautiful, and they are some of our favorite people in the world, so how could we say no? The kids took off running and I asked CH if she’d mind watching them while I ran my errands. She said she’d be happy to, so I jumped in the car and took off. A&N were not disappointed to see me go. Such is the life of a SAHD.

I drove into WRJ and went to Stern’s. I asked earlier in the week for dumpling wrappers, and they said they’d be in later in the week, but when I got there, they said they hadn’t come in on the truck. Bummer. Luckily, I didn’t need as many as before, and they had them on the rack, but it made me realize that nothing is sure thing in this world, and I am going to have to scramble once again this year to get the number of wrappers that I’ll need.

Oh well, what’s life without a little drama? I got back to the H’s and as expected, the kids were disappointed to see me, but that’s a good thing, because it means they were having a blast. We got in time for me to whip together some supper, and then afterward, I mowed some of the grass, but there’s still more to be done.

I can’t wait. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gareth Weeks for the pic.

Growing Up

A is starting to develop strong friendships with other girls in her inner circle, and this complicates domestic bliss because it means that N gets left out of the festivities. I knew this was going to happen at some point, and know it’s perfectly normal, I just feel bad for N. He is clearly bummed out about being left out, and I know we made this harder by wanting him to feel included with A’s friends in the past. The fact is, N is a little more shy, and is in awe of his big sister, who likes to be a leader. I think this makes it easier for N, I know it would for me. You just follow the leader’s lead.

The time has come, however, for separate paths to form, because the reality is, A is at that age where she is doing more things with her girl friends, and they don’t want the little brother tagging along. The little brother can’t understand why he’s suddenly not welcome, because when there is nobody else around, he’s called on to the faithful playmate. Life isn’t always fair, is it?

Either way, I’m glad A is developing these stronger links with her buddies. We just need to work a little harder at encouraging these friendships with N. He’s a little more on the shy side, but he’s also a jock, and sports open up doors for boys, especially when you’re reasonably competent.

Thus begins another chapter in the parental saga we know as our lives. Then again, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lost in Space

As I try to make this transition from playing a writer on TV to being a real writer, I’ve definitely found myself lost and longing for focus and direction. The writing life, it ain’t an easy one, and just getting started is one of the great challenges. I’m finding that I fall back on my default mode of sequestering myself in my comfort zone and spending my time doing what I know what to do, which is blog. All the while, I should be composing pieces and writing queries.

This situation is compounded by the fact that I have plenty of other things that need to be done and are perfectly legitimate ways to spend my time. Oh well, one day I’ll find my way.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nino Satria for the pic.

The Third Market

We did our third market this week, and there were a couple of factors working against us. First off, Dartmouth is in transition, meaning that the students have all left and the Summer crowd has yet to establish itself, so the crowds were thin. The second thing was the weather, which has been just crazy lately. Then again, now that I think back on it, the current weather is not unheard of. I recall Summers in the past where it has just rained all the time. Also, using the Balloon Festival as a reference, I remember one year when it rained the entire weekend, putting a damper on the festivities.

Either way, this year the rain has been unrelenting, and it has been cool. On market day, we finally got a break and the sun came out, but at several points during the day, the clouds rolled in and it rained. Looking at the bright side, the market started out beautifully, and we were able to set up with nice weather. Also, the rains only lasted for a few minutes, and then it cleared up, so I can’t complain, but still manage to find a way to.

Business went okay, and it’s nice to see the same customers showing up to eat the dumplings. I appreciate this aspect of doing the market, building up a loyal clientele who value your efforts, and the social aspect of getting to know the other vendors is nice, as well. The work is hard, and as I sit here writing this, I know I have to get back to work and start making dumplings for next week, but at least for the moment, I can bask in the satisfaction of knowing we survived one more week. When you’re doing the FM, this knowledge is huge.

Quick side note - we had an AM citing, but I noticed that she walked right past us and didn’t stop to chat, which is unusual for someone as chatty as she. This could be interpreted in a number of ways, none of which I’ll go into at the moment.

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Karate Test

While we were away on vacation, I knew in the back of my mind that A was slated to be tested at some point, but we didn’t know when. One of the students was ready to test, and I figured A was prepared, as well. When we returned, the other student was supposed to test during one of the classes when we were back, but she couldn’t make it on the test day, so it was pushed back until the next week. Seeing an opportunity, I asked if A could test as well, and Master H and Sensei CH said yes. A was stoked.

We did some preparation the week before, and A said she was ready. When the next class came, the other student said she wasn’t ready to test. I couldn’t believe it, she was supposed to be prepared last week, and had all week to prepare for this one. Granted, she said she was sick, but she could have checked to see when the next test would be, or at least assume, as everyone else did, that the test would be postponed until the following week. Either way, I understand her hesitation, and that little shred of doubt is enough to keep you from just doing it, but I just felt like she could have been more responsible about it.

Also, her not taking the test made me wonder if A could still test, though Master H said that she should, by all means, test on that day. Not the most efficient process, but at least she got to go ahead. It would have been better to test everyone who was moving up at the same time, but what are you going to do?

The test went well, and A was really prepared, with a few kinks here and there, but that’s natural. It was a nice class, and A was excited to be moving up to her blue belt, a momentous occasion. There is talk of having the class twice a week, but I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I understand the benefits, but some of us don’t have the time. We’ll see what happens with that.

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

Road Trip to the Capital

We hit the road this past weekend for a day in Montpelier, mainly to get a taste of big city life, but also to check out the Vermont Historical Museum. The weather was once again terrible, so it was not a bad day to be inside learning about our state.

Before we left, A had a guitar lesson in Hanover, so we jetted out there in the AM. While she played, N and I drove out to W. Leb to get him a Frisbee. He has become quite the fan of ultimate Frisbee, and he asked if he could have an official disc. I guess there’s an official Frisbee used in the games. The plan was for us to find one at Olympia Sports by JC Penny while A had her lesson, but then R had the brilliant idea to check out Stateline. This would help us to avoid the ugly traffic right by the 89, which is depressing beyond description. Sure enough, Stateline had them, and it was a quick jaunt back to Hanover with time to spare.

Interestingly, while we were waiting, we spied some donuts at Lou’s that looked too good to resist. R got one for each of us, and I ate this amazing hazelnut danish that was good, but I sure paid for it afterward. I can’t eat super sweet, fatty and sugary foods or drinks in large quantity. Maybe a bite or two, but that thing was huge, and on an empty stomach. Afterward, I felt so tired, I could barely stay awake. I thought I was coming down with something, when I remembered that danish. No more for me, thank you.

My malaise put a damper on the start of our day, but I got over it and it was fine. I’m done with that junk, though. Either way, we first hit the museum, and it was actually pretty cool. Vermont is such an interesting state, always on the cutting edge, and yet, so down to earth and genuine. I learned a lot, and the kids didn’t seem too bored.

We then headed over to Cool Jewels to look for beads and other accessories. The place is kind of interesting, and not that expensive. At some point we all gathered around the bead bin and searched for cool beads, which is sort of addicting in an OCD sort of way. There were other people there, as well, and it sort of became a party to find that one special bead. It was a lot of fun, actually.

Then we went to the Thai food restaurant that we’d wanted to try and had heard a lot about. The place is cool, and the food was excellent. We had the combination appetizer platter, pot stickers, pad thai noodles, and the green curry with rice. The food was great, though the curry was spicy, and we asked for mild. I ended up eating most of it, and paid for it, accordingly.

After supper, we had fried banana with coconut ice cream, and then we headed back home. It’s a really nice day trip to Montpelier, it’s a very manageable town, and the hub of political activity, no less. The drive home was much easier with real food in my stomach, though we were all still tired. We still had the wherewithal, however, to make dumpling fillings for our big dumpling day on Sunday. We are somewhat prepared, so it won’t be overly painful, but painful nonetheless.

Once the fillings were done, we had time to try out N’s new Frisbee, and then A&R went for a quick walk in the woods. Then it was time for blissful sleep. With the rain and clouds, it’s fairly cool, if not downright cold, to the point where I’m tempted to build a fire. Then again, maybe not.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last T-Ball Game

We played our final game the other night. The adults took the field and the kids got to bat, so they all had a chance to hit several times, and the adults got to show of their athletic abilities to their wives, reminding them, in part, of why they married us in the first place... or not.

It was great of the two dads to take the helm and be leaders, but I got a sense that they were finished with coaching. At least, that’s how it seemed from their comments, which is kind of sad, because the kids need parents to come forward and help out. When I was growing up, there were at least 3-4 parents who coached each team, without question, and if they weren’t coaching, they were happy to pick up a glove and play catch with you. I remember the dads in suit and tie taking off their coats and warming up with their kids.

Now, it seems as if you couldn’t pay these guys to come out and help, even if means just tossing the ball around with the kids. Next season, I’m wondering how it’s going to work out, because I’m sure there will be the same problems with finding parents to volunteer, and it’s going to fall on yours truly. As much as I dread it, I’m guessing I’ll have to do it for the sake of the kids. Nobody said parenting would be easy.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nathan Ingersoll for the pic.

Being Organized

I think it goes without saying (then why am I saying it?) that if we are going to survive this go-around of the market, we will have to be more organized, or perish from the process. I guess this is most applicable to yours truly because not only will a brunt of the work fall on my shoulders, but I’m terribly disorganized, and suffer accordingly.

With this in mind, we have to keep our feet moving at all times, especially the day after the market, which will be critical. When the market ends, all you want to do is sit back and pat yourself on the back, but before you know it, the weekend is here, and we have to make dumplings for the following week. This means having fillings made and ready, and all the supplies on hand. The hardest part is getting that darn ground beef. The drive out to Pomfret is a bit of a drag, but that’s what you have to do to get the killer local beef. I would buy more of it at at time, but our freezing capacity is being pushed to the limit over here. Then again, maybe it’s time to clean house.

Either way, we have to keep dumpling on our minds at all times, because we have so many other things going on, and the time conflict can be overwhelming. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make dipping sauces.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Swimming at the UVAC

Now I’m not so into indoor pools, but when you live in New England, it’s pretty much the only way to get some swimming in for most of the year. It’s just that the smell of chlorine inside is so strong, and that can’t be good for the lungs. Plus, you can’t beat the sun for helping to keep germs in check, and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve swam at that Aquatic Center and the water is turbid and cloudy because there are so many people in the water. Kind of disgusting.

I do, however, think that the best way for kids to learn how to swim is in the pool. Lakes and ponds are great for cooling off and splashing around, but to really gain confidence and skill in the water, pools are the way to go. Plus, the kids really love that place.

This past weekend, A&R went off for girls day out, so N and I hit the pool, mainly because he got this new underwater missile projectile thing that he’d wanted for quite some time. In fact, the last time we were at the UVAC, some kid had left behind a smaller version of it, and N completely fell for it. It’s kind of fun, and something that he can do alone or with me. We went searching for one after swimming last time, but couldn’t find it. Interestingly enough, when we were in the Greek Isles, on the ferry boat to Sifnos, they actually had them in the gift shop, and N was beside himself. We told him no, however, because it was kind of expensive, and we figured we’d wait until we got home.

We found one at Kmart, and it wasn’t that much cheaper, but it was much bigger, about the length of a football, but narrower. He loved it, and we played with it the entire time at the pool. I’m glad we found one, because we’d promised him we’d get one once we were home, and I think it’s really important to keep your promises with your kids, or anyone, for that matter.

The pool, BTW, was crowded but fun. As usual, there was some sort of birthday going on, and we saw some people we knew, attending the dreaded party. After swimming, we went for supper at Panera, and then had smoothies for dessert. It was fun, and we took the long way home, enjoying the ride, kind of like life should be.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hot Market and Market Reflections

We had our second market, and it was more like I remember it last year, meaning a little slow, but not terribly. For whatever reason, last week was really busy. I remember cooking dumplings like crazy and not being able to keep up, which is unusual. Usually there is a lull and I can stockpile product to meet the evening/dinner rush. Last week, the demand was constant, which is good because we sold out of everything, but stressful as we rushed to keep up.

This last market, things were more normal, though the weather was unseasonably hot, and when I say hot, I mean scorching. It makes everyone miserable, especially yours truly, who does not do well in the heat. There was a slight breeze, which saved us, and the cloud cover came now and then, which helped, but all in all, it was a hot day, and that always puts everyone in a sour disposition. It makes the market seem longer, and clean up is a chore because all you want to do is go home and have a cold drink. Surprisingly, sales weren’t bad, but again, not as brisk as last week, which was a bit of an anomaly. Last year’s regular customers, however, are slowly beginning to trickle in, and it’s nice to see them again.

One nice note is that we’re surrounded by other food vendors that do well, and it makes for a more enjoyable time. In the past, we were usually next to a vendor that did not do a lot of business, and it made me feel self conscious, if not a bit guilty, that things were slow for them while we did okay. This year, we have the Cupcake Queen who makes the most amazing cupcakes you’ve ever seen. Not only are they creative, clever, and beautiful, but they taste amazing. They are hot sellers, and people come from miles around just to have them. I can’t say I blame them. We had the hot fudge sundae cupcake, and was it ever good. The two women who make them are super nice, and we enjoy being their neighbors.

They weren’t so keen on the heat, either, at least in terms of their cupcakes, but I personally thought they tasted good a little melted.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to enrico nunziati and Brandon van Eeden for the pic.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Penultimate T-ball Game

As I mentioned, t-ball is winding down to an end, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. In a way, I’m somewhat relieved, because it’s one less thing in our busy schedule, but most of the kids love it. There are several of them that just don’t seem that interested, and you wonder why they’re even there, but at least while they’re there, they have fun.

The season is ending a week early because school is coming to an end, and the coach won’t be around next week, so it’s pretty much over. It’s probably for the best, because with school winding down, most of the kids are antsy and many seemed to have lost interest, which is strange because when I played Little League, I couldn’t wait to play. I love it so much.

I also started playing later in life. These guys are probably on the young side, and haven’t quite found their stride in terms of sports. There are definitely some superstars who will go on to be good athletes, but most of them are just out there learning the ropes, and will probably move on to other things as they get older.

N loves t-ball, and he’s good, but once the season is over, he’ll have hockey to look forward to. Not sure when that’s starting, but it should be interesting.

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

Father’s Little Helpers

In support of the adage, “Good help is hard to find,” I think I’ve found my hired hands, and they do a great job. The kids have always been interested in power tools, and who and blame them? There is something fascinating about a tool powered by gas or electricity, it does all, or at least most, of the work for you. Though this is often the provenance of boys of all ages, A has a distinct engineering streak in her, and all machines are of interest to her.

Last week N indicated that he’d like to try mowing the lawn, and not only was he incredibly cute doing it, but he really did a nice job. Very conscientious and thorough, I was very impressed. Not only is it a good way to entertain him, but it actually helps me out a lot, because I can go and weed-whack while he mows, within reason.

Not wanting to exclude A, I asked her if she was interested, and she jumped at the opportunity and also did a great job, though you really see how differently their minds works. N is very precise and methodical, following the lines and making neat rows. A, on the other hand, is all over the place. She starts off in a straight line, but is soon veering of at all sorts of curves and angles. It’s hilarious to watch, and not the most efficient method, but she is thorough and thoughtful about whatever task she undertakes. That’s just the sort of person she is.

In the end, the kids like it enough to almost be at odds over who gets to mow. How cool is that for a dad? Now if I could only get them to be that way over making supper.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pottery by Fire and TCOB

Even though pottery has come to a end, we had one final get together with the crew. KM knows lot about pottery, and he wanted to try baking the pottery in a pit fire as opposed to a kiln. The idea is to create a really hot fire with sawdust, which he had mounds of because of his work. The way it works is you make a massive bonfire, and bury the pottery deep inside. I was willing to do it at our house, but DE stepped up and offered his house, which is much more suited to the task because he has this amazing fire pit.

We met in the AM, and those guys set it all up. We planned on roasting hot dogs and marshmallows in the process, and it was all set up to be really fun day, which it was. The fire burned beautifully, slow and steady, and not a conflagration, which is good, because we were right in the middle of the woods. Because of the trees, it was nice and cool, and thankfully there was no wind. It turned out to be a perfect day for the event.

At some point, as the fire burned and the dads hung out, I started getting antsy because there was the market to prepare for, but also, I didn’t want to spoil the fun and take the kids away. Since the kids were having a blast playing in the woods, DE said it was cool to leave them and just come back when I was done. I felt bad, but figured A&N would be happy if I left, anyway, and would have been bummed to have had to go.

So I left, and got a lot done in the 1.5 hours I had. I was able to get some things together for the market and make supper, which was good, because after pottery, we had to jet over to White River Paper, then to Pro Optical in W. Leb to get A’s new glasses adjusted (they fit perfectly now), then back home for N’s t-ball game, which was the second to last one, the penultimate game.

Never a dull moment on this end. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dumpling Frenzy and Second Market

One thing I’ve found about doing the market is that complacency will kill you. After one market, it’s easy to sit back and feel good about yourself that you pulled it off, but before you know it, one week has passed, and it’s time to do the dance all over again.

With this in mind, we really worked diligently this past weekend to get the dumplings made and finished, though it wasn’t easy. It took longer than we anticipated, and there were several points where we could have easily taken a break and put it off until later in the week, when yours truly would have been riding solo. This way, we bit the bullet and finished, and were able to have the week free to do other things, like chop wood and mow the lawn. Oh yeah, there’s also a barn that needs building.

We are going to have figure out a new plan on being more prepared, however. When you wait until the last minute to make the fillings, it really sets you back. The more you’re ready when the zero hour arrives, the better your life will be. Wow, are dumplings an allegory for life? Who would have thought?

The second market is upon us, and just FYI, the weather is slated to be brutally hot and ugly. Last year, we had beautiful weather all week leading up to the market, and then, almost without fail, on market day, there would be record high temperatures with high humidity. Oh well, sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Real Man’s Work

N did the mowing the other day, and it was too cool for words. He’s such a cute kid, so earnest, eager, and determined to finish what he started. A real man, to say the least.

I was out cutting the grass, and whenever I work outside, he usually likes to hang out and watch or take part if he can. He is fascinated with machines, and runs along behind me whenever I mow the lawn. We have a power assisted mower, which means that it has a lever you push that turns on a motor that powers the front wheels, making it easier to push. I figured that it would make it possible for him to push the mower, and sure enough, he did it. Not only that, but he mowed most of the back lawn, and enjoyed it. At least he said he enjoyed it.

Whatever be the case, he had fun, and it’s a nice way to include him in on the yard work, something he really enjoys. It sure beats watching TV.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surviving the Local Market

There was no getting around attending the local market because we are right there at the library when it all starts. Besides, we can’t spend our lives running away from our source of guilt, right? As I’ve mentioned, we felt bad about not doing the local market, a fact exacerbated by the people giving us a hard time for it. I figured it would be easier just not to show up, but we figured if we’re not vendors, we can still support the market by being customers, and they are our friends and neighbors. Plus, the kids have a lot of fun.

I was there as the market got started, so I helped out with the setup, partly to assuage my guilt, but also because it’s nice helping out. The kids were already running around and having fun, so it boiled down to finding something to do while they ran themselves into exhaustion. This proved to be a lot more challenging than I imagined, and it reminded me of being at a college frat party, where I would wander around, looking for a place to camp out for the night because I failing miserably at meeting girls.

And, of course, I ended up spending more money than I wanted to, so I needed a place to hang. At some point, our friends, the H’s, had a booth, and I parked myself there and begged them to let me hang out. I’ll tell you, it ain’t easy to kill three hours without dropping a big chunk of change, but I'm learning. Interestingly enough, the market was rather slow, though the vendor turnout was strong. The kids had a blast playing in the grass, but I think next week I’ll hang in the library.

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

Making Friends

We were at the library the other day and a really nice young boy came up and started chatting with N. It turns out that they are both playing on the same t-ball team, or at least the same league, if you can call it that. I hate to confess, I didn’t recognize him, but he was really nice, and so polite and well-mannered.

Anyway, it’s nice to see N bonding with the guys, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about growing up, it’s that when you’re a guy, sports opens doors to making friends. I know that as they get older, the hyper-macho environment of jocks isn’t necessarily healthy for boys, or for that matter, society as a whole, but for N, who tends toward the shy side, it’s a great way to make buddies. This is especially true because he’s a decent athlete, and as time goes by, this will give him some credibility.

For someone like A, it’s easy to make friends, because she’s so outgoing, and loves interacting with people. N tends to ride her coattails, but at some point, it’s better for him to develop his own circle of friends, especially since he can’t hang with the big girls all the time. At some point soon, their interests will simply diverge significantly.

What was really cute was the librarian, MD, asked if the kids could water the flowers out back because of the heat, and they were happy to. When the time came to do it, however, A was all ready to go, but N decided that he’d rather hang out with his new buddy and chat. It was a one person job, and the boys watched A do it from inside. N’s buddy relayed this fact to me.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

That Guilty Feeling

Okay, the local market is approaching, and I am faced with a bit of a dilemma. First off, several people have given us loads of grief over the fact that we are not doing the local market, and believe me when I tell you, we feel really guilty. Not enough to do the market, mind you, but people have no concept of how hard we slaved last year, and as much as we loved doing the local market, it kept us working every day of the week. If this was our only gig in life, we could do every farmer’s market out there, but R works full time, I work part time. Toss in the fact that I’m training to be a real man while trying to jump start my glorious freelance writing career, and let us not forget the most important matter at hand, the kids, and... well, you get the idea.

The fact is, when we pondered whether or not we would do any markets, my first thought was forget about it, it wasn’t worth it. Money isn’t everything, right? However, when we decided that we’d only do one market, suddenly my cloud of depression lifted and it all seemed possible. Doing one market meant that it was plausible to spend two days making dumplings, rather than every day of the week. With a little organization, we could pull it off. Sure, we wouldn’t make as much money, but we also wouldn’t be miserable and depressed, and that’s all that matters, in the end.

Anyway, I digress, as usual. The other problem I have is that there is no way we are not going to the farmer’s market, because the kids love it, and it’s an enjoyable time for all. Plus, we spend that part of our day in the area, so we’re right there in the thick of things.

This should be interesting. The only thing is, what sort of excuses am I going to come up with?

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sigurd Decroos for the pic.