Saturday, December 31, 2011

Playing Pirates

We received this board game last year called Pirate King, and as we were trying to learn how to play, it dawned on us that it was rather complicated. The instruction sheet is long and convoluted, and there are so many rules that at some point we quit in frustration.

This year, N was insistent on giving it a go once again, and though we were a little reluctant, we set aside some time and went for it, and you know what? It turns out we love this game. Interestingly enough, what makes it so complicated also makes it more interesting. There’s a good lesson in life somewhere in there. Most games are quick and easy, but they burn out fast. You play them and you’re done. Pirate King requires more setup and engagement, but it’s a really interesting game, filled with strategy and planning. It’s a lot like Monopoly, and it seems like you could play it forever.

We played for hours, and over the course of a few days, and the board is still setup and waiting for us to finish the game. You have to love that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Still Time for Hockey and Girls Day Out

Not that we need more time to ice skate, but the truth is, the more ice time N gets, the better his skill level will improve, and more importantly, his confidence.

With this in mind, last weekend they had a Christmas open skate with Santa, and we all got into the act. The place was a madhouse, crazy crowded, but loads of fun. A good chance for everyone we know to skate together, for better or worse. Then they had an open stick for all players and family members to take part, for free. N was all for it, so I took him to be with his friends. Again, it was quite a scene, and a good chance for dads and a few moms to get out on the ice and show off for their kids. Pretty impressive stuff, while I was disappointed at having to watch on the sidelines because of my recovery, those dads are pretty good and I would have been way out of my league. Then again, what else is new?

We couldn’t have a day without drama, either. We forgot N’s gloves, so it was going to be hard for him to play hockey. He was so bummed, but at some point, I need his help in making sure his gear is all together. I have too many things to remember. Either way, the plan was for us (or rather N) to go skating and A and mom to spend the day together. They realized we’d forgotten our gloves and tried to call us but I had the cell phone turned off, duh. In a stroke of good luck, they brought the gloves over.

This was good because I scrambled all over the arena looking for an extra pair of gloves, and nobody had any. I finally located one mom who had a pair, which she lent me, but right then mom showed up with N’s gloves. Brilliant. Another happy ending, but also a good reminder that we may need to keep an extra set of gloves on hand, as well.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Down and Out

Last week I had oral surgery, or at least what seemed like oral surgery. It was involved enough to where they sedated me and stitches were involved, not to mention antibiotics and recovery. I thought they were just going to pull the tooth.

Actually, that’s not totally true. I knew it would be somewhat involved, just not that involved. In fact, I was planning on taking the kids skiing on Friday, but they said no strenuous activity for five days. What does that have to do with my mouth? I guess too much blood flow could compromise the healing, and I was acutely aware that my mouth was like a construction site. I.e., no skiing or skating for dad. The timing worked out because of the holiday and no learn to play hockey until the new year. Ironically, the lack of snow also worked in my favor because the skiing isn’t so good these days.

To add to the fun, N had an 8:30 AM practice, which is another story in and of itself, but more on that later. For now, I have to rinse with warm salt water. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Matthew Maaskant for the pic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nice Christmas and a New Approach

We had a really enjoyable Christmas, though the holidays are always a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it’s a time to celebrate being together and having a nice time, but the holidays can also be thoughtful and contemplative, if not a little melancholy, as well. This situation can be amplified as the new year approaches.

This time around, we tried to move things along a little more slowly. In the past, it’s a bit of a frenzy as the kids open their presents, play with them for a bit, and then have this massive letdown as the reality sets in that there are no more presents to open. It’s a shame, actually, because you really lose sight of what’s important in life, and it’s totally counter to the fact that we, the parents, really feel that life is not about consumption and accumulating stuff (junk!). It’s really about experiences and time spent with friends and family.

That said, you can’t deny kids the chance to be kids, and part of that is receiving and opening presents. They are just so excited, as well they should be. We paced things this year, and spread out the unwrapping throughout the day. It worked out beautifully, a lesson in delayed gratification, and they had something to look forward to throughout the day. It was really nice.

They got some cool stuff, too, which I won’t go into detail, but I think everyone came away from it very happy. For supper that night, we had filet mignon with baked sweet potato, Yorkshire pudding, spinach and green beans. We got our steaks from Cloudland Farms, and I think for once I cooked them in a decent manner. A really nice meal, followed by ice cream and hot fudge sauce (low glycemic).

After supper, we watched the movie A Christmas Story, which I had never seen but has become a bit of a Christmas classic. I have to confess, I thought it was a little boring, even though the kids enjoyed it.

Now we have New Year’s Eve to look forward to, and then we can get on with our lives. For the record, I just wanted to mention that still no word from my mom, but we’re getting used to this peculiar form of behavior... sort of.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Morning Hockey Drama

We ran into a bit of a fiasco with the last hockey practice, and I have to say, even in lieu of all the drama, things work out and you can laugh about it later. It’s amazing what a parent goes through.

As I mentioned, N had early morning practice at 8:30. I don’t know what they were thinking, but it’s a bit much. There are people who come from at least an hour away, so you can imagine what it takes to get there. I guess school was out on that day, so kids were free, but most parents had to work. Because of this, I told KB that I could pick up C and take her in. They had arranged for a ride home, so it would work out. I couldn’t take C home because the plan was to go skiing after hockey. The arena is about 1/3 of the way to Pico, so why not?

Of course, recovering from oral surgery changed everything, so no skiing. That still left hockey in the AM, and this is where the fun began. I went to wake up N at 7:00 AM, and he’s not a morning person. He said he was too tired and wanted to skip, so I was in a quandary. I still had to pick up C, but now without N. I was going to call KB and explain, but figured it was a waste of time, just go and get her. Fortunately we’re family friends so C wouldn’t be weirded-out with some strange adult.

When I went to get C, KB said I should have said something and he would have taken here, but truth be told, he and A both had to be at work, and I was happy to take her, so off we went. Well, about 3/4 of the way to the arena, our cell phone rang and I asked C to answer it. It was A, and she said that N had changed his mind and wanted to go to practice. What? There was no way I was going to get home on time, so I told him to eat his breakfast, put on his gear, and I would be home ASAP after dropping C off. Then, mom came up with the fabulous idea (she’s so good) of driving N over in the other car. Brilliant.

It’s funny because when we got to the arena, the coach asked me if I’d brought my own kid. It’s a long story, I told him. N arrived about 20 minutes later, and he was only about 10 minutes late to practice. It was actually nice because A and mom hung around to watch, which I think thrills N. He loves an audience. We went home afterward and had a quiet day of recovery, at least for me. It was quite the drama, and I have to confess, amusing in retrospect. Also have to admit that our cell phone has come in quite handily in the past few weeks.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Down and Out

Last week I had oral surgery, or at least what seemed like oral surgery. It was involved enough to where they sedated me and stitches were involved, not to mention antibiotics and recovery. I thought they were just going to pull the tooth.

Actually, that’s not totally true. I knew it would be somewhat involved, just not that involved. In fact, I was planning on taking the kids skiing on Friday, but they said no strenuous activity for five days. What does that have to do with my mouth? I guess too much blood flow could compromise the healing, and I was acutely aware that my mouth was like a construction site. I.e., no skiing or skating for dad. The timing worked out because of the holiday and no learn to play hockey until the new year. Ironically, the lack of snow also worked in my favor because the skiing isn’t so good these days.

To add to the fun, N had an 8:30 AM practice, which is another story in and of itself, but more on that later. For now, I have to rinse with warm salt water. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Matthew Maaskant for the pic.

Busy Weekend

Last weekend was a bit nutty, not unlike every weekend, and somewhere in there hockey always seems to play a role. Funny how that happens. The game really requires some level of parental dedication, and you can see why so many of the moms and dads are hockey players themselves, they can understand and know what it takes. Otherwise, it just seems like complete insanity.

We had two hockey games last weekend, both at home, which makes things a little easier, but even still, it takes up the day. After the game, we had to be in Lebanon for A’s guitar recital, and then somewhere in there we had to eat and pick up food for our Christmas dinner. Crazy.

After N’s game, there were all sorts of announcements of Christmas open stick, where a lot of his buddies would be, so that was another thing on tap. We managed to get it all done, and even made it out to Pomfret to pick up tenderloins for Christmas at Cloudland.

Before A’s recital, we had to eat and decided to go to the Lebanon Natural Foods store, which has a cafe in back. It’s a cool store, a lot like the UV Coop, very crunchy and small, but cozy and interesting. Lots of cool organic stuff, and surprisingly affordable. I always think of place like that as being expensive, but just like the UVFC, the Leb Store is very reasonable. We had sandwiches and soup, and then went over to the AVA Gallery for A’s show.

It was nice, I think A was excited, and there was a big crowd of performers. A did fine, some mistakes were made by all, but kudos to all of them for having the courage and wherewithal to get up there in the first place. You have to give them credit.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to everyone. We even got a little snow, not much, but I'll take it.

Hope all is well, have a great holiday, and thanks for reading.

Dreaming of an Organic Christmas

I admit to being a little overly thoughtful about what we feed the kids, bearing in mind of course that I could be a lot worse. While I am not militant about things being organic and local, I do tend to avoid, whenever possible, artificial colors, sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup. This isn’t so unreasonable, is it? When you really get down to it, if someone handled you a chemical and told you to eat it, would you? And yet, we eat them all time in our food. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Either way, it’s not that difficult to avoid this stuff, except in certain areas. Candy comes to mind, and because of this, the kids tend to eat candy that I would prefer them not to eat, but I don’t want to be the mean, stuffy parent whose no fun. I’m already too adept at that. Plus, you can’t monitor them all the time, just so long as they don’t eat candy made in China. You have to draw the line somewhere.

This issue crops up all the time with candy canes. The kids love candy canes, but you couldn’t find an all natural candy cane if your life depended on it. Without fail they have artificial colors in them. It’s easy to find gourmet candy canes (which are expensive) that avoid the HFCS, but again, there’s always something artificial. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

Until now, that is. I was at the Upper Valley Coop and lo and behold, they had all natural candy canes. They were colored with natural beet dye. How cool is that? We also found something else that is cool - all natural fair trade chocolate advent calendars. In the past, we’ve given the kids the cheesy made in China paper advent calendars, which are good for a few cheap thrills, but in the end are poorly made. They’ve also received ones with chocolate inside them, but you have no idea where that chocolate came from or where it was made. Actually, scratch that, it’s obvious the chocolate was made in China. I wouldn’t want our kids to eat that garbage, it is without exaggeration, like eating wax.

The chocolate advent calendars were also inexpensive, so it was kind of a cool thing. Plus, the kids are never ones to turn down chocolate. Now all we have to work on is making a gingerbread house that we can actually eat, which may be getting in over our heads, but that’s just how we like it.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, we must seek to do that which we think we cannot do.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Breaking Out My Chainsaw

Tuesdays aren’t supposed to be like this, are they? That’s not completely true, when A had rehearsal and auditions, every day was a nightmare, but otherwise, we usually only have hockey. This past Tuesday before Christmas was a bit of a scramble. I now have “learn to play” hockey, which takes up the early morning, and R had to get to work, so it was a bit of a scramble to get home.

Once there, there was the usual domestic duties to attend to, but we are also scrambling a bit to finish mom’s present, which requires creative and logistical input on the part of everyone (excluding mom, of course). I left it, for the most part, in the hands of the kids, so they feel really involved in the process, which they are.

Anyway, a good friend also asked me to help him with some heavy-duty stuff, like moving sand bags and cutting wood. My chainsaw is in storage, but I’ve toyed with breaking it out because we finally received our wood for next winter, so I didn’t need much in the way of encouragement. However, it was still another thing to deal with on an already busy day. I had to gather up al the gear (chaps, helmet, chain oil) get gas, make the mix, then fire it up, which always takes a few tries when it’s been stored.

I went over and helped out, and it was all fine and dandy. It only took about an hour and half, then I rushed back home, made lunch, and then all of us worked on our project. I think we made good strides, we just need to find a way to get over there and pick the stuff up, which isn’t easy when you’re loaded with responsibilities and have to have oral surgery, but more on that later.

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

Staying Warm Over Winter

After months of delay, we finally got our load of logs, and Irving came and filled our propane tank. Even though it’s been fairly mild, we’ll need heat once winter kicks into full gear, and for this year, we’re set. I ordered logs in the early summer, maybe even spring, and when I talked to TB, he said it would be fine. I told him late summer and even fall would work, and that was better for him. Well, come fall, the wood still hadn’t arrived, and I spoke with him again and said even winter would be fine. Our wood for this year is set.

By the time November had rolled around, still no word about our wood. I was ready to look elsewhere, but like the idea of having a reliable source that we go to every year. TB is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and when he finally contacted us some time in early December, he even said he understood if I’d already gotten wood from someone else. That was not the case, but I was not above encouraging a little remorse.

To add to the fun, he raised his price $10 cord, but what are you going to do? We got our wood, and I can start cutting it anytime between now and spring. A few days later, they topped off our propane, so we’re set.

Now all we need is some snow, and lots of it. Until then, thanks for reading.

Redemption, Perhaps?

I was going to say some bad things about the Vermont Country Store, but they may have redeemed themselves. Then again, redemption has not come yet, and the initial negative experience is still a reality, so has anything really changed?

I ordered something from the Vermont Country Store, and being all down-home and cozy, I figured they would have great customer service, the gold standard being LL Bean, which is pretty hard to beat. I’m not expecting miracles, but a little support and sympathy would be nice. I ordered the item about two weeks ago, figuring the store was in Vermont and it wouldn’t take too long to get here. I then noticed that they had some promotion where they would guarantee that it would be delivered by 12/23 if you put in some promotional code, no charge.

I called and asked if I could still get the item before Christmas, which is not unreasonable considering I was two weeks prior, and they gave me the run around. They said since I didn’t enter the code, there was no guarantee I would get it before Christmas, but there was a good chance it would get here by the 24th. How lame is that? I told them I’m in Vermont, and they said it didn’t matter.

I was ready to tell them to take a hike, but decided to keep my cool. I figured it would get here when it got here, and if it was late, I would simply never buy anything from them again. Ha, take that. I called a couple of days later and they said it would go out on Monday and should arrive by Saturday. What a joke. I checked my account on Monday and if you can believe it, it still hadn’t gone out. I contacted them once again, and this is where it got interesting.

The person I spoke with said there was some error on the order and it appears to have been lost. She said she would send out a replacement next day UPS, so I should get it by Wednesday. Fair enough. I was happy they finally were being nice, but I was also aware that if I hadn’t been on top of things and being a pain, things would not have worked out.

In the end, it seems to have all worked out, but I still got bad vibes off the whole experience. Is it true that all’s well that ends well? Not always.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bad Timing

Not that there’s ever a good time to have oral surgery, but this is right in the thick of the holidays. When I made the appointment, I didn’t have any sense of how life would be at the time, but I should have known better. The week before Christmas is always a bear. I need to have a cracked tooth removed, and they need to extract it by less-than-desirable means. I know it sounds awful, but what are you going to do?

The biggest problem is that they need to mildly sedate me, and that will make me somewhat non-functional, all during such a busy time. They encouraged me to get it done before the new year in order to take advantage of the insurance I had left before it expired at the end of the year. This makes perfect sense, it’s just that it forces me to deal with something that I would much rather put off indefinitely. Maybe it’s a good thing.

It should be an interesting day. I have all sorts of pills to take before the procedure, so we’ll see how this goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Julia Freeman-Woolpert for the pic.

Christmas Scramble.

Actually, this has nothing to do with eggs.

I’ve gotten about 97% of our Christmas cards done, and then ran out. I could easily just end it right here, the last of the list is not critical, and it’s getting late, but if I can pull it off, I’ll get it done. I’ll probably feel better if I do.

In the meantime, it has been a bit of rush to get the last of our holiday obligations finished. R and I are not much for giving gifts to each other, we’re more on the pragmatic side, but I came up with a last minute inspiration, and decided to pursue it. It involves the kids, so it’s a gift from all of us, but it takes a little time, and I can feel the clock ticking.

This, of course, led to an inspiration for other family members, including my mom. I’m curious to see if she ignores us again this holiday. That would make 4 years in a row, but don’t get me started. The last minute dash has begun. I’ve resolved that the presents for distant family members isn’t going to make it by Christmas, so it’s more of a holiday present. That gives me until the new year, right?

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

New Stick

Well, after all this rumination about hockey sticks and all the back and forth, we ended up with a new stick, after all. I may have relayed this story, but I’ll give a quick recap. We wanted to get N a new stick, a composite, like all the kids use. In the interim, we had a stick we’d gotten for A, which she decided she didn’t want to use because she has no interest in hockey. I cut it to size and gave it to N, but he stuck with his wood stick. When I asked him if he wanted a new stick, he said he didn’t really need one.

One of his teammates is a left hand shot, and apparently he received a right handed shot stick for a gift and couldn’t use it. His mom asked me if we wanted it, and I said sure. It’s a nice stick, a composite, of course, and brand new. Well, N asked if we could cut it to size and he could use it. It turns out I had cut the other stick too short, and he liked it a little longer. I asked him to show me exactly where he wanted it cut, and did so.

Now he’s using his new stick, and all is well in the hockey world... for now.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Command Performance

We went to the annual holiday show at the school, and A was an active player in it all. It was great to see, and it was a great chance for A to hang with her friends in school for the past month. She has a lot of friends there, and we are really happy that she gets to hang with them. And, she gets to perform, which she loves to do.

The performance was a lot of fun, the kids are really cute. As I mentioned before, A’s teacher asked her to play piano for the 1st and 2nd graders, in addition to her being in the bigger kids chorus, for which she sang a brief solo. She had a blast, and it was great to watch her up on the big stage. She looked so pretty in her dress, such a big girl now.

After the show, there was the usual excitement and socializing, and then it was time to head home and get some sleep. It was nice seeing friends and neighbors, who come out of the woodworks for these performances. Now it’s time to start getting ready for the big holidays, with a little hockey sprinkled in between. It’s be nice to get some snow, but I’m not going to whine about that.

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

Breakfast of Champions

We had a busy hockey weekend (what else is new?) last week, and to exacerbate the situation, the games were away and early in the AM. This meant that we had to wake up early and hit the road early to get there on time. Generally, we have to arrive at least a half hour before game time to get on all the gear, and the drive only makes it that much harder. On the bright side, it’s a chance to check out all these new towns, not to mention see their ice rinks.

Anyway, it’s tough on N because he’s not a morning person, and generally isn’t hungry in the morning. This is a problem because he needs to eat something before a game, and it’s hard finding something healthy that will give him energy to perform. Then I came up with idea of a muffins, Glorious Morning Muffins, no less.

We make them low glycemic, and they’re full of grains, fruits, and veggies. Plus, the kids love them, so he’ll wolf them down, and because they’re convenient, he can even eat them in the car. Perfect.

So far, so good. The kids love the muffins, and they are on the healthy side. The breakfast of champions.

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cool POV

Sometimes the kids do or say something that just makes me think, “Wow, that was really cool.” It just strikes me as cool and somewhat mature POV, but you be the judge.

As you all know by now, we have become a hockey family, and N loves it. We are glad he is finding his thing outside of his sister’s influence, and want to be supportive and encouraging, especially since his dad finds it all so interesting, as well. Not knowing what the future held for this endeavor, we didn’t want to go out and buy all this new equipment, only to have it languish in the basement if he lost interest, so we went frugal. We spent countless hours at the Listen Center and hockey swaps amassing equipment, and our efforts were pretty fruitful. Some things you just can’t find or don’t want to get used. I think of helmets and maybe gloves, because the gloves can get pretty nasty smelling.

We also got him a new stick, because we needed something quickly last summer, and I didn’t realize the Listen gets an amazing number of sticks in the fall. Either way, we didn’t have time to dawdle, so I got him a wood stick at Stateline for about $15. That’s about as cheap as you’re going to get.

One thing you begin to see, however, is that the big thing in hockey is high-tech composite sticks. All the kids have them, and they can cost several hundred dollars. Of course, N asked for one after seeing all the kids with them. It turns out that youth and junior sticks are pretty reasonable, about $50, so we thought it would make a good Christmas present.

Now a corollary to this already verbose story is that at the Listen center big fall sale, I bought a stick for A for when she tried the “learn to play.” She wasn’t interested, but now we had this other stick, and it turns out it was a composite stick, to boot. One of the other coaches even said that they can cost up to $200 brand new, and I got it for $5. I found out later that the kid’s sticks are not nearly that expensive, but it makes the story more intriguing.

I cut the stick to size, N taped it up, and for the short term, he now had a composite stick. We also snuck out and got him a new composite stick from Stateline. Over the course of the past few weeks, however, he has slowly gone back to using his wood stick, which he seems to prefer. He says it’s actually light enough, and that he sort of prefers it. I will say this, he has a rocket of a shot with that stick. Anyway, I figured that he could still get the new composite stick, but when I asked if he was still interested in getting a new stick, he said not really. In his words, he said he already has two sticks, one of which is a composite stick.

Wow, that just melted my heart. I realize practical is boring for a kid, but what a practical way of looking at things. The reality is, at this age, the type of stick makes no difference, and even the coach was saying that he prefers wood, but he’s a pro. Either way, we were happy that it wasn’t just about getting more stuff, especially if you don’t need it. Gifts shouldn’t be about only what you need, but it sure is nice when it works out that way.

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good News on the Eyeglass Front

A had her most recent appointment with her optometrist and he informed us that her prescription has not changed. Good news, that’s for sure. We went in thinking about getting her contact lenses, for which she is thrilled about. I asked if she was young, but he said kids of all ages get them, the key is whether they are mature enough to take care of them. We shall see.

We decided to go ahead with it, and she’ll get soft contacts for now. The other option is rigid gas permeable, but that’s another story for another time. I think she’ll like contacts for certain occasions, like skiing, swimming, and surfing, and of course, as she gets older and is more concerned about appearances. It’s important to look your best around your peers.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to doctor-a for the pic.

Casting Call

The school is holding their winter musical, and A is now of the age where she actually has to audition for a part. With the younger kids, they just take everyone and JB assigns them a role, but this time around, it’s serious business. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the whole scene, because like any situation where you’re taking a chance, there is the possibility of things not working out like you want them. Kudos to A for having the courage wherewithal to overcome this uncertainty and not let it prevent her from trying. It’s like Woody Allen says, 87% of life is just showing up.

So they had the auditions, and they were, at least for me, a little precarious because she didn’t get a callback at first. I’m no expert on drama auditions, but a callback seems like a good thing, and the last time she auditioned for something, she didn’t get a callback and didn’t get a part. I felt a little bad, and A told me to chill out, because she knew it didn’t necessarily mean anything. The drama teacher uses callbacks to get a better look at kids she doesn’t know as well, and JB knows A well. Plus, A is part of the young wave of kids auditioning, so we really have to set our expectations accordingly. These are 5th-8th grade, so A is on the young side.

Anyway, they posted the cast list online, and I snuck a peak before A saw it. She had rehearsal the next day and figured she’d find out then. At first glance, I didn’t see A’s name and my heart sunk, thinking she didn’t even get a part. I was heartbroken, but then I realized that the cast is huge, and the cast list spans several pages. Scrolling down, I realized she got a nice part, one that will require her to be engaged and have many lines. Whew!

Plus, with the exception of a one or two stand out thespians, nobody her age got a lead role, which. There are some stellar 8th grade actors that do a great job, so all it makes perfect sense. Best of all, A is stoked and excited about it, and she is an understudy for one of the leads. All is good in our world.

It’s not easy being an overbearing and neurotic parent, especially when your spouse shares your views on the world, and it can be a rough world out there. Then again, with greater challenge comes greater reward, right?

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


Bringing Along A Fan

I went to my second adult hockey class and N said he wanted to come along and watch. I told him it was early, and he’d have to bounce out of bed, but he was fine with that, and even asked me to wake him up. He actually woke up on his own, and we headed over to the rink together. It was a beautiful morning.

I got him a hot cocoa and he sat and watched, being the only one in the audience, of course. It was cute, and he got to see his dad run through some of the drills he does with his team, and I felt kind of special having a fan in the audience. It’s the little things in life that make it better, though I somehow doubt if this will be a regular thing.

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

Goalie Time

This past practice I arrived late because of an appointment, and practice was a bit unusual in that they were doing all sorts of power skating drills. It was interesting, albeit different, and I thought N did a great job out there. Either way, after practice, when I went to help N with his equipment, he pointed out a huge equipment bag and said he was playing goalie this weekend. Great. Goalie equipment is huge, and adds another bag to our burden, not that I’m complaining, of course.

We had managed to avoid playing goalie up until now. We weren’t necessarily averse to the idea (sort of), but there are several players that want to play goalie and ask every weekend if they can play goalie, so why not let them have a chance? N has said that he’d be fine with playing goalie, though it’s not his first choice. Fair enough, but we knew that everyone on the team has a turn, and we had yet to take the plunge. In many ways, this was inevitable, and we had a sense that this week was going to be our time in Eden.

So now we have this massive bag of goalie equipment. On a bright note, N is actually excited about it, and he’s been playing around the house with the goalie pads. This should be interesting.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Tree Decorating

We were all excited about getting our tree and eventually decorating it, even there was some initial resistance to the idea at first, but I won’t get into that. We prevailed, and got our tree and set it up. Once it was on the stand, I figured we had plenty of time to decorate it, and there was no hurry. A&N, however, had different ideas.

They wanted to surprise mom with the decorations, but we were pressed for time. We had so many engagements that there was little time to get it done without her being here, but to their credit, they found a way. They had about an hour one evening before mom got home, so they just went for it. They worked diligently, and it was cute to see how industrious they were. For the record, I just want to mention that I did nothing. They did all of the work, even putting the angel on the top of the tree. It was pretty impressive, and they had fun while we listened to Christmas songs. It’s times like these that you really love the holidays, and best of all, they were able to surprise mom.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Henderson's Comes Through Again

I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but we ran into a glitch with our ski equipment. The funny thing about kids is that they keep on growing, especially when you feed them. In early September, we checked out the kids’ ski equipment, and all was fine at the time. We got N new boots, but A said hers fit fine. Then, just this past week, I had the brilliant idea of checking them once again, because somehow it was hard to imagine that she would wear last year’s boots, especially since she’s been growing like crazy.

Sure enough, her boots no longer fit. I was a little concerned because the big Henderson’s sale was on Labor Day, and now it was December. Was there a chance that they no longer had boots to swap in stock? Only one way to find out. We headed over to the best darn ski shop in the area, Henderson’s, and they did the exchange, no problem. I love that place. They gave the next size up, they fit A just right, and now we’re once again all ready for some skiing. All we need is some snow.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Daddyshome Website

Being a SAHD doesn’t afford me too many opportunities to bond with other fathers because we are few and far in between, and bonding with the moms is a whole other beast. Moms and dads can hang, but the interaction between them just isn’t the same as when moms jive with moms, I think men and women hold back a little on their true selves (rightly so) when in the presence of the opposite sex.

With this in mind, I found a cool new site, DaddysHome.org, and I would recommend it to moms and dads. Besides the fact that it's interesting to meet up with other SAHDs, and to hear about their issues, thoughts, and concerns, not to mention advice, it always helps to see that you’re not the only one going through what you’re going through. The site goes well beyond a simple blog, as well, and is really informative and entertaining. Nice job, guys.

I know one thing, I’ll be spending a lot of time checking it out. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Leon Tiedt for the pic.

Dad’s Turn at Hockey

This past week dad had his first go at Learn to Play Hockey, and was it ever fun. There was some question as to whether the time would work out, and at some point I even convinced myself that it wasn’t because it’s on a weekday morning and R can’t sit around all morning the kids, so I decided to bail on it. When R woke up, she asked me about the hockey, and I told her that I decided against it, for which she immediately scolded me and told me to go. It was late, however, and I figured it wasn’t worth it, but at the prodding of the two most important women in my life (R&A), I relented and packed up my limited amount of equipment and headed over to the rink. I think the people over at the rink thought I was crazy (they were right) because I originally enrolled, then cancelled my enrollment, and then showed up to play. What a nutcase I am.

I was a bit late, but the scene was pretty relaxed, and it wasn’t a big deal. The coach walked, or should I say skated, us through several drills that I’ve seen before because they are identical to the ones they practice with the youth hockey program. It’s interesting being on the inside. Everyone was pretty much at the same skill level, and the equipment requirements were fairly relaxed, so I could get away with just elbow and shin pads, and a helmet. I wore as much as I had, and the only thing I’m really missing are the pants, for which I’m scouring the area thrift shops. I’m confident that at some point, I’ll find a pair.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a few drills that I can practice on my own. After all the skills stuff, we played a short scrimmage, and it was a blast. It’s good for parents to at least try out what their kids do, because not only is it good exercise, but it really helps them to understand and empathize with what they’re going through. I can’t wait for the next class.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finally Some Snow

It wasn’t much, but we finally got some snow, and believe me, it’s a big deal around here. We need snow. While it’s easy to blame global warming on the situation, the reality is, we don’t usually get a lot of snow before Christmas. In fact, a white Christmas is not a usual thing, so it’s important to keep things in perspective.

While we were away, it snowed about 6 inches, and there was white stuff all over, but then we got this crazy warm spell, and it all melted. Now it’s cold again, and I think (hope?) that whatever precipitation comes out way will come down as the white stuff. Here’s to hoping.

For now, we’ll take whatever we can get. Thanks for reading.

Meeting with the Dentist

I had my big appointment with the dentist, whom I believe is an oral surgeon, and it went okay. I have this problem with a cracked/broken molar in the back, and regardless of what I decide, it really needs to be removed, at the very least. The long term prospect is to have an implant put in, but that sounds a bit heavy, and probably expensive. It requires the insertion of titanium screws into my jaw. Yikes. Before anything, I needed to consult with an expert.

Now since the tooth is so thrashed, removing it might get a little involved, but what I found somewhat refreshing was that he said it might not really be worth it to put an implant in. I won’t bore you with the details, even though it’s pretty interesting, but suffice it to say that biologically and financially, there is a lot to consider. The location in the back of the mouth doesn’t help.

The dentist alluded to the fact that I could just live without the tooth, and that might be the way to go. I was sort of happy with that. We’ll see where this one goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Angel Fragallo for the pic.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Love a Happy Ending

Life seems to throw all sorts of drama at you, and I find it makes it more interesting if not a little stressful, but I sure do love it when things work out nicely. We had some issues that cropped up, and while I fully confess that I get overly dramatic (just ask R) and make mountains out of molehills, I’m still sincerely grateful when things work out. You just can’t take these moments for granted.

We were all set for ski equipment this winter, or so I thought. I had all their ski stuff and even snowboard stuff all lined up and we were ready. Of course, now that we’re all set, we might not get any snow this year, but that’s another story. Anyway, I went through the equipment with the kids to make sure everything fit, but this was in September. Three months later in December, it turns out A’s boots no longer fit. Funny how that works. I know Henderson’s has a wealth of used equipment to swap and sell early in the season, but I wasn’t sure if it was too late to pull it off now. Even though there is no snow, we are on the cusp of the ski season, and the early bird gets the worm.

I figured that the only way to find out was to at least try. When in doubt, go for it, right? So we went over and as luck would have it, the JH was working, and he’s always cool. He’s the man in charge, so what he says goes, and he said we could swap the boots for a larger size. We were stoked, and now A has everything she needs. I love Henderson’s.

Afterward, we headed over to my Mentor’s place to see him one last time before he heads back to the Yukon territory. His better half left some gifts for the kids with him, and I wanted to see him off for the winter. Plus, it was interesting seeing our old digs in the aftermath of Irene. He is actually overseeing the rebuilding, the general contractor as they say. I can’t think of a better guy to be in charge.

We had a nice visit, and hope to see him again when he comes back down. From there, it was off to UA to meet the Es for public skate. It was quite the crowd, and we had fun, but afterward on the way home, A&N realized that N was missing part of one of the gifts, the cool part. One of the books came with a little padlock, and we couldn’t find it in the car. They were eating lunch in the back and I tossed out the garbage, so there was a chance it was there. The problem was, we were a couple of miles away, en route back home, so I wasn’t so keen on turning back, but I didn’t want N to be left out in the cold. He was so bummed. So we drove back, and I went to the garbage can in question and jumped in, head first. In a moment of incredible serendipity, I found the wad of trash I put in there, and upon unraveling it, found the lock. I was so happy, as were the kids.

I’m just a sucker for a happy ending. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to fadTheRed for the pic.

Sports Journalist

I got my first shot at sports journalism greatness and wrote up the weekend summary for N’s hockey team. They write a cool little summary every week about how the hockey program as a whole fared, and it’s awesome reading about the kids. I love it. I broached the subject with the coaches, who write the pieces, and said I’d be willing to help and write it. They were more than happy to hand off the job, and thus begins my glorious career in journalism.

Of course, having never done anything like this, I was more than a little neurotic. I know it’s not a big deal, but for me, everything writing related is a big deal, so I wanted to do a good job. I even took notes at the games, which ain’t easy when there are to games going on simultaneously. Plus, I can’t spend the entire time just watching N, I have to follow all the players.

I guess that’s the first step to objective journalism, compromising a little on what you want to uncover the truth, whatever that means. It was fun, and low stress, so believe it or not, at least for now, I’m enjoying this gig.

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

Killer Karate Test

We had one heck of a karate test this week. I think about a dozen people tested, the entire class, and we had every level represented. There were yellow belts, blue belts, green belts, brown belts, and one on the cusp of her black belt. It was a great show, and I think it was a proud moment for Master H. I’m glad for that.

Because we were testing so many people, the test went really late, well past 9:30, which is crazy. The actual test ended around 8:00, so I figured we would just end it there and go home, but no such luck. Everyone sparred, and then there was the belt award ceremony. After that, they had treats and photos, so it was quite the to-do. It was nice, though a late night for us. I’d brought cookies for the test, but several other people brought treats, too, so we were stocked. There was soda, punch, several kinds of cookies, cake. More than anyone could eat, so I’m guessing someone scored and brought it home. It was a really nice test.

A did a stellar job. She had to spar two people for her belt, so that was a source of concern for her, but she did a great job. She was wonderful on her katas, and we were all proud of her. Master H is particularly nice to her, very supportive.

Now we can relax a little because there is always a bit of a letdown after a test, especially this one, which was one of the best tests I’ve been to. It was really nice.

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

Life Imitates Art

We watched a couple of the Pink Panther movies with the kids, and they sure loved them. Actually, what they really loved was Clouseau, and he wasn’t as prominent of a figure in the first Pink Panther movie, and was definitely not as bumbling and funny. It was the Return of the Pink Panther that the kids really loved, though I recall one of my favorites was Strikes Again. Either way, in the Return, there is a cool scene where the jewel thief sneaks into a museum and steals the Pink Panther diamond. In order to pull this off, he has to escape all sorts of traps and alarms, and this really inspired the kids.

What they ended up doing was setting all these traps around the house with trip wires. They were very clever about it, using electronic sirens and buzzers with insulators that would slip out when we walked through the wire. I actually contributed to the mix by suggesting they tie a thread to a jar of marbles and placing it on a metal tray. When the trap gets set off, the marbles roll around the metal, making a raucous noise. It’s cool that they were so creative about it, but I set the traps off about two dozen times a day. This, as you might have guessed, amuses the kids to no end.

Oh well, you reap what you sow, right? Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Computer Issues

I was noticing that my computer was acting sort of funny. It’s one of those situations where you can’t describe what the problem is, you just sense that things are a little off. Actually, some of the issues were more apparent.

I ran antivirus and got nothing, but then I ran MacScan and found that there were two spyware programs on my computer. Now I’m not sure if this was the source of the problem, but after clearing them out, it ran a lot smoother. It’s a bummer what computer hackers can do to you, sort of makes you feel a little violated. At least I was able to isolate and deal with the problem. Who knows what else is going on inside my hard drive.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jan Krat��na for the pic.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Surviving One Crazy Monday

As usual, we survived a crazy Monday, and as usual again, it was not as bad as we anticipated. The biggest thing that weighed on my mind was that darn flat tire. First thing Monday morning I took the tire off and called RM at Meunier to see if they would take me. We have a great mechanic who is really close, it’s just they fill up and you usually have to wait a week to get in. I figured it was worth a try, never give up until you find out for yourself, right? RM said he could take care of it if the wheel was already removed from the car, which I figured would be the case. It helped that it was 6:30 in the morning. I drove it over and he repaired the leak, which turned out to be a pretty nasty nail.

From there, the day just took off. A had piano rehearsal in the morning, and then another one after lunch. After the later rehearsal, she had an audition for the school play that coincided with my dentist appointment, so the plan was for her to go to her later rehearsal, then stay at the school library for an hour then go to her audition, which was to last until 4:30. I took N to my dentist, and then we came home, picked up A, and got ready for karate, for which we had a test. We also had to take care of our neighbors cat and fish.

And let us not forget about lunch and dinner, as well. Making meals and cleaning up afterward definitely makes running errands more of a challenge, and you can see why parents opt for prepared foods or fast food. Makes life so much easier. I planned ahead and made dinner in the morning and just heated it up in the evening. Since we had a karate test, I knew there would be cookies and sweets, so I had to make sure the kids ate. As busy as the day was, we still managed to bake cookie bars for the test and the kids made huge strides in decorating the tree. They wanted to surprise mom with a decorated tree, and they did a great job.

In the end, we survived, and as I mentioned, it wasn’t so bad. It never really is, or rather, the anticipation is always so much worse than the reality. If people realized this, myself included, a lot more things in life would get done, but that’s a story for another time.

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

Advent Calendars

Part of the fun of the holiday season is when the kids get to open up a new window on their advent calendars. Now we’re not into the whole religious aspect of Christmas, and A&N don’t even know what advent is all about, but like all kids, they love opening little windows. I always space out and forget about the calendars until we are a few days into December, and by then the ball is already rolling. Then it becomes a scramble to find the darn things.

I had heard that LL Bean had cool advent calendars, but when I called them, they said they just sold out. How’s that for a bummer? We were set to meet our friends for ice skating, so I figured that Woodstock would be a good place to find one. I went to Gillingham’s and they had these beautiful heirloom advent calendars made of wood, and they were only $100 each. At that price, I had to get at least two... just kidding.

There was no way I was going to spend over $10 for an advent calendar, and was really shooting for $5. Gillingham’s had the cheaper kind, but they were either too religious, or too cheesy. Plus, for what they were, they seemed a bit expensive. I walked over to the Pharmacy and they had cheesy ones, as well, but maybe not as cheesy, and definitely cheaper. I got two, and A&N were fine with that.

I learned later that the place to get cool advent calendars is the Dartmouth bookstore. They had some nice ones, all under $10, and with cool themes. I’ll know where to go next year, and hopefully I’ll think of it sooner.

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

Christmas is in the Air

Christmas is in the air, but then again, it isn’t. It’s still a bit early, but things have a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. I seemed to notice that everywhere I look, people have a Christmas tree on the roof of their car. Maybe because the weather is unusually warm and the fact that we don’t watch TV, it’s hard to really get the full impact of the season, but it’s here.

The local radio stations are starting to play Christmas music, there are holiday concerts being promoted, and we got our cards and even a wreath and our tree. Of course, there’s a story to this. Our friend CH was selling wreaths and of course we were going to buy one. We usually get a wreath, anyway, and how can you say no to such a great kid? The tree was a little trickier. The place where we get our tree had just received a shipment, and they seemed to be selling fast. After N’s hockey game, we were debating when to buy the tree, and mom kind of hinted that it was too soon and would be all dried out by Christmas. As far as the kids were concerned, the time to get a tree was NOW. I sort of recall keeping our tree up until February, so I wasn’t totally buying the dried out theory.

A&N kept asking when we could get our tree, and mom kept preaching patience. I was all for getting it sooner than later, but I didn’t want it to become 3 against 1, even though that’s exactly what happened. We were driving home from N’s hockey game and we passed by our tree guy, and his supply had dwindled significantly. We all let out a gasp of despair, and mom had little choice but to relent and let us get a tree. You don’t want to be the bad guy in these situations, and truth be told, it’s always fun to get a tree.

So I did a U-turn and we stopped to look at trees. The guy raised his prices, and even I was against spending a lot on a tree, so we settled on a smaller one that looked nice. I think the kids would have loved a 10 ft. tree, but we could never fit that in our house, and it would have cost a fortune. I’m all for small trees, they are more endearing, as R would say.

Now we have our tree. I had some trouble giving it a fresh cut, maybe my bow saw needs sharpening, so I ended up cutting it with the miter saw, and was it ever easy. Now all I have to do is start writing Christmas cards, because as everyone knows, the season has a way of sneaking up on you.

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Skating with Friends and Joining the Club

Our good friends the Es were mentioning that they’d like to take up ice skating, and wanted to meet us at the rink. They are not skaters, though they are skiing pros, and want to expand their winter sport repertoire. We actually gave AE A’s old ice skates, so they were all ready to go for it. We met them at the public skate at UA, and it was fun. There was nobody there, and we had the ice to ourselves. I won’t go into my thoughts about this.

Either way, we had fun. There was nothing scheduled right afterward, so they let us skate long after the public skate was supposed to end. We had to go, but the Es stayed on. I was talking to DF, who runs the hockey program, and we talked about becoming a member of UA. I never really gave it much thought, but you do get a break when you register for camps, not to mention discounts on skating and gear. It works out nicely, so I got a family membership. They are not that expensive, $50, and again, at least in our case, the benefits outweigh the costs.

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

What a Monday

I was dreading this day, but it’s here and now I have to deal with it. First off, we have a million things to do. A has two piano rehearsals for the school choir, then she has an audition in the afternoon for the school musical, and we don’t even know the time it’s at. I have a dentist’s appointment in the afternoon, and then we have a karate test in the evening.

To add to the fun, our car has a flat tire which needs to be dealt with. Are we having fun yet?

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

Busy Hockey Weekend with Drama

We had the crazy hockey weekend this past week, the kind that R dreads because it signals that we’ve become something we said we’d never become: sports parents who cart their kids everywhere. What made this weekend difficult was that both games were kind of far away. To complicate the matter, our new car has a leaky tire, so we had to take our older car. Looking at the bright side, at least we had a second car, otherwise we would have been doomed. A was invited to go to the winter faire with her buddies, so she went to that while we drove N to his game.

The first game was at Norwich University, which I had never been to. What a beautiful arena, the nicest I’ve seen so far. The college is a huge hockey school, champions, no less. The kids had a great game, and I think they dominated. N scored about a half dozen goals, and we were all thrilled. The drive up the 89 is a little brutal, harder than the 91 in my opinion. After the game, we headed home, picked up, and then tried to run some errands. I still needed hockey gloves, and A needs new ski boots, or at least bigger ones. My new hockey OCD is targeting a new stick for N, but more on that later.

We were short on time, and I was not able to do all the things I wanted to do. Bummer. I did get some hockey gloves, however, buying the cheapest ones I could find at Stateline. They were $39, and as much as I hate to pay full price, I figure that was as good as it was going to get. Used hockey gloves are kind of disgusting, anyway, and I simply could not find a pair that fit me. I browsed at hockey sticks and was shocked at the fact that many of them were over $100. Is that insane, or what? Not for an 8 year old boy, thank you. I’ll have to do more research and scratch that OCD itch.

We didn’t make it to the ski shop, either, but such is life. The funny thing is, we were about to head over to Henderson’s to take care of her boots when N yelled out, “Don’t forget about the cat.” There goes that plan. We called mom and told her we were going to be late, drove back home to get the keys, and then fed the cat and fish. Luckily, we were only about 10 minutes late. We picked up mom, headed over to eat, then went to see the tree lighting, only to find out that it happened the night before, on Friday. We’d missed it, and the kids were bummed, especially N. He gets a little grumpy on these occasions, mainly because we missed out on cookies and hot chocolate. I can’t say I blame him. We went elsewhere to get treats, but it’s not the same as being at a big party.

The next day, Sunday, was a little more challenging because the game was earlier, and we had things we had to do on Sunday, like laundry. R woke up early and washed the clothes, and we managed to hang them up and get out the door only about 10 minutes late. The arena in Lyndon was farther than I thought, and I think we were the last ones to get there. We still had time, but you realize that some of these families don’t mess around and make punctuality an art form.

The arena in Lyndon was not the nicest place. It’s sort of famous for being cold and not so lovely, but I have to say, I’ve never seen a more lively bunch of parents/fans, and how can you complain when you have your own ice rink. Most towns don't even have an outside rink. As for the fans, they stood the entire time and were yelling and screaming. It was a bit unnerving. Their team was huge, not just in numbers, but physically, as well. The kids looked older than 8, that’s for sure. Also, they had twice as many players, not that it made much difference, however, because our team dominated. I think we scored twice as many goals, and it was never even close. N did a great job, he didn’t score any goals, but he had many chances, and came really close.

After the game, we made the long trek home but stopped to eat and let R get some work done. We also got our Christmas tree, but more or on all of this later. For now, I have a hellish Monday to obsess about.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Petr Kovar and for the pics.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Sports OCD and Addressing the Situation

I tend to be a collector of things, something that drives R crazy. It’s not an issue of spending too much money because a lot of the stuff we either get for free or for next to nothing at the Listen. However, the stuff can really pile up, and R is not shy about expressing her disdain for the clutter. I can’t say I blame her, but it’s not easy gathering equipment and making sure 4 people are properly equipped and prepared. To compound the matter, in numerous situations, I am venturing into new and unexplored areas, at least for me. This is especially true for hockey and to a lesser extent, skiing.

Now I’ve skied my whole life, but when you’re a kid, you don’t give a moment of thought to the equipment. That’s the parent’s job. All I had to do was put on the boots and hit the slopes. Even as a young adult, I just bought a cheap pair of skis and boots and went skiing. I wasn’t a stickler for high tech stuff, and I couldn’t afford it, either.

Since becoming a parent who is now in charge, I’ve had to be fairly diligent in order to stay on top of the equipment game. If we had unlimited resources, it would be no problem, and we could simply go out and buy new equipment, but that’s silly and wasteful, especially for kids who outgrow stuff every year. Plus, I’m still convinced that spending a load of cash on skis or snowboards is a complete misguided, and makes no difference in how you ski, but let’s not go there.

The process of scouring yard sales, thrift stores, and ski swaps yields amazing finds, but I tend to grab stuff up if it’s free because I figure it’s better to first see if the kids or adults can use it before rejecting it. This is where my OCD really kicks in and nowhere is this more apparent than with hockey equipment.

In my defense, hockey is a whole new world for me. I never played, and never really paid much attention to the sport. To complicate things, there is so much equipment a player needs, it’s crazy, and it can get expensive. So, when I’m presented with equipment for N or even myself, I grab first, assess and ask questions later. I figure I can always unload it at the Listen Center at a later date. The problem is, now we have bags of equipment, and it was mentioned to me that when I was done with it, the person who gave it to me said they’d like it back, so I can’t just unload it.

As you might have guessed, this is a source of consternation and angst for R, who wants to just jump it all in the trash. Plus, used hockey equipment can be a little unappealing. Plus, now that I’m considering hockey, I need to start hoarding equipment for myself. Preparing for winter sports could cost me a little domestic bliss.

Now that I’ve blabbered on for too long, I can get to the point of my post, and that is that if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that organization can make your life a better place, especially if your significant other is an organized person and you are not. Not only will the effort be appreciated, but the reduction of clutter will go a long way in promoting domestic bliss, and I’m all for domestic bliss.

With this in mind, I’ve set about making some big shelves. There is already a huge shelving unit that the previous owners had built, and we never use it. I decided to store a lot of the summer stuff (chainsaw things, farmer’s market stuff) as well as excess sports equipment over there. Since the basement gets a little damp in the summer, you don’t want to put too things like clothes, but I found a spot near the top of the stairs that would be perfect for hockey equipment. Best of all, there are already studs there, so all I have to do is nail in supports and lay a board over it.

The question is, how long will it take me to do just that? This should be good. Until then, thanks for reading.

California Connection

Our homeschool book club has some new members outside of the regular sphere of friends, and it makes for a really nice group. Not only are the kids nice, but there’s a good mix of boys and girls, though the boys tend to be on the older range. It’s fine because both A&N jive with both boys and girls.

One of the new boy’s family is from California. Southern California, no less, and it was really nice meeting his parents and hanging out with them. They’re really cool people, got a good vibe going with them. Obviously because we homeschool we share some common values, but there is an earthy and genuine quality about them that is really cool. It’s nice to find kindred spirits.

Plus, being from So Cal, we can sit and talk about the things we miss about our old homes, namely good Mexican food and In and Out Burger. What else is there?

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Doctor, Doctor

How this for irony? I’ve had the same primary care physician for the past 6 years, and though I’ve never met her or even spoken with her, she is ditching me. I feel so hurt. I got a letter from her stating that she has become increasingly busy and is seeing fewer patients, and in light of this, I should find a new doctor. Funny how things work.

Not that it’s her fault. Through a series of scheduling conflicts on both ends, whenever I’ve tried to get an appointment with her, there has been a 6 month wait, and that’s not an exaggeration. I also opt to see whom ever is available, usually a resident or a PA. Now she’s telling me she our time in Eden has come to an end.

It actually works out fine, the doc I’ve been seeing the most is willing to take me in as a new patient, I just find it all sort of funny. Then again, the state of our medical care system is no laughing matter.

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

Piano Girl

There is a cool new development with A, and it’s right up her alley. She has been taking music lessons at the school and she is also part of the school chorus. There are a few different age levels, and A is singing with the 5th and 6th graders, but there are chorus’ for the younger kids. A’s piano teacher is also the chorus leader, and she asked A if she would accompany the younger kids on piano, so she will be a busy girl for the next few weeks.

I think it’s too cool that she’ll be performing on piano, but also that her teacher was nice enough to consider her for the part. A loves to perform, and she’s right in her element there. Now all we have to do is practice, because we have many things coming up on the horizon, including her own performances, auditions for the big musical, and a karate test.

The fun never stops. Then again, that’s just how we like it. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Alexander Nicholson-Ward for the pic.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Massive Playdate

We had our homeschool book club, and there is a new participant in the mix. He’s a really nice boy, I think he’s 11, and all the kids really jive. After book club they all get crazy, but it’s not really the proper thing to do in a library, so it was decided that everyone would come over to our house to play. The funny thing about his development was that I was the last one to find out about this plan, I kid you not. The other parents were thanking me for having the kids over for a playdate, and my first question was, what playdate?

I’ve said this in the past, I don’t mind having all the kids over. The more the merrier, and what’s great is that it’s only for a couple of hours, and they have so much fun just doing whatever that I don’t even have to provide drinks or snacks. They just take off on autopilot. A&N love it because they enjoy having friends over, and I can get things done, like make dinner before N’s hockey. The other parents are cognizant of the responsibility of watching over so many kids, so they don’t take advantage and show up promptly.

I for one think the arrangement works out perfectly. DE can get to work, CH can get some things done, and all the kids have fun. It’s a good mix of boys and girls, too. This past time I got hang out with D and J, who are both from So Cal, and it was nice chatting with them. All in all, a good time was had, and I for one wouldn’t mind if we made it a regular thing.

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

Getting the Hockey Groove Back

It makes me immeasurably happy that N is excited to get back in the swing of playing hockey. It’s not just that I think hockey is cool, which I do. I really do, but it’s more about him having something that hee feels passionate about and loves to do. Stemming from this is the willingness to work hard at it and the desire to excel. It sure beats being apathetic about life and wanting to just watch TV and play video games. I see plenty of that.

I don’t deny that I think hockey is cool, and the coolness factor is not a bad thing for a boy approaching adolescence. More importantly, however, is for a child to find a sense of place, especially if it really speaks to him. Now I’m not an advocate of the whole jock environment and mentality, but there’s no denying that sports can often play an important role in a boy’s life.

Besides, something about hockey in particular that I find appealing, at least at this stage in life. They really promote and expect good values and behavior, more so than other sports I’ve seen him take part in. The coaches go well beyond just going through the motions, and they constantly expect the players to exhibit character and pride. It shows in the kids, who are well mannered, for the most part.

Anyway, we’re getting back in the groove. Stateline Sports finally got N’s away game socks to match his away game jersey, which the coach still has. N has also exhibited his eagerness by playing hockey constantly in the house. It’s probably best the mom is not around, because it can get rather lively. He and his big sister also made a makeshift goal out of a cardboard box, and it even comes with a goalie that moves. How cool is that?

Clearly we can’t wait to get back on the ice. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kriss Szkurlatowski for the pic.

Karate Test on the Horizon

We had a big turnout for our first class back, and there is a test looming on the horizon. Master H is really keen on getting as many people tested as are ready, and you can feel the energy in the classroom. People are looking good. It’s funny because I have a bit of anxiety about having to spar with certain aggressive individuals, and am trying to mentally and physically prepare for the big bouts, but it seems we’re so busy in class that we never get around to combat. In certain ways I’m relieved, but in others, a little disappointed. I have a real love-hate thing with sparring.

There will be a black belt test, and a couple of us will test for out second brown, which is one step away from black. Hard to imagine. One of our former senseis, MG, showed up, and it was nice seeing him. He will be there for our test, and it’s always an honor to see such esteemed teachers showing interest in our progress.

The test should be good, though it’s always a little tense. A and I will do our best to get as much practice in as we can in the coming days. R will want to come and take pics, so our time will be officially documented, and of course we’ll have to bake some brownies or cookies to celebrate.

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

Hitting the Snow

When we were on the beach I saw the local home forecast, and it called for a bit of snow, but when we returned home, it was clear that there was probably about 5-6 inches of the white stuff. Enough to cover the ground and do some sledding, or better yet, snowboarding.

N was ready, and he grabbed his “new” snowboard, which is now complete, and rode it most of the afternoon down the small hill. The beauty of it is that he has to work hard to have fun. Carrying that board back to the top after every run is a workout. It’s like sledding, there are no chairlifts to do the wrok for you, but the reward for your efforts is the cool ride down. This also affords kids a chance to get some badly needed exercise, not that our kids are badly in need.

It was fun, and I get a huge kick out of seeing A&R get a grasp of a new activity, especially when it’s fun, and more importantly, cool. For the record, the snow has all melted, which is a bummer, but I’m hoping that we’ll get more. It’s been known to happen.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Getting Our Feet Back

Now that we’re back in frigid New England, it’s time to get used to cold weather activities, though the weather has been unseasonably balmy since our return. In fact, when we landed in Boston, it was 60 degrees and we didn’t need our jackets. What’s up with that?

Though we really enjoyed our time in Florida, it’s nice to be back home, and I figured since N missed so much hockey, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hit the ice one time before he starts practicing and playing. A and mom went and had girl’s day out, so me and N decided to get our feet back onto the ice. There are ample opportunities for this at all the local rinks, and over the weekend we decided to head over to Union Arena. It’s usually busy over the Thanksgiving weekend, and that sure was the case this time around. Usually we’re one of a handful of people on the ice, but this time around, the place was packed. It makes skating a little more challenging, but also more interesting and dare I say, fun?

There were several of N’s buddies out there, so he got to hang with them while I skated and chatted with the adults about school, power tools, and professional sports teams, not to mention how the holidays were going. It was nice, and I personally like it better when there are more people on the ice, it makes it much more intersting. I feel the same way about skiing, surfing, and almost every other activity. Maybe I’m a social guy, but being the only ones out there can feel sort of lonely.

It was a fun time, and again, it was nice seeing friends and neighbors. Good to see a good crowd at the ice rink, as well. We scored the last two pieces of pizza and hung out with the families while a group of Pee-Wees practiced on the ice. It’s funny because a few weeks back I played open stick with some of the Pee Wees out of Hartford and they skated circles around me. I was relaying this story to a friend when one of the kids who was practicing after the public skate called out my name, and sure enough, they were in the group. Really nice kids, I have to give them credit for being polite and humble.

All in all, a good day back on the ice. I even wore my helmet, not only to try to look cool as a pseudo-hockey player, but also to protect my melon as I practice skating like a hockey player. Did I mention that it reminds me of when I first started playing ultimate frisbee? The analogy is interesting, to say the least.

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