Friday, August 31, 2012

Travels In Italy - Day 3

Our last day in Florence was perhaps our best, not only because we’ve adjusted to our jet lag, but also because we’re finding our Euro groove, waking up relaxed and rested, and enjoying the food and good vibes of Italy - La Dolce Vita, as they say.

The hotel we’re staying at is really nice, and we’ll be staying here on our last day in Italy on our return home. The place is clean and the people are very friendly, and though it’s not fancy, it’s comfortable and in a great location, which is key to most things in life. It is very centrally located near the Duomo and all the other great sites. Then again, everything here is within walking distance. The family that runs the Inn is very friendly, I’m guessing several generations making things work. The elder grandmother is incredibly friendly, and she kept telling us how nice our family is, mainly because I think A&N are well mannered and polite. Plus, they’re cute and stylish enough to pass as Euro kids, especially A.

One of my favorite things about traveling in Europe is staying at Inn or B&Bs and heading into the dining area for breakfast. It’s always a wonderful mix of cultures, and you hear all sorts of languages being spoken. There are even a fair number of Americans staying in this hotel. I also love trying out the different foods that at least seem typical of a Euro breakfast, though I’m sure they cater to tourists and gear the food to what they think they want. Either way, I love going and have a cappuccino and croissant, then some fresh fruit, finished with some muesli. I have to confess, in classic American style, I like to engorge myself on all you can eat breakfast foods, but it’s so counter to how the Europeans eat. In lieu of all that food just waiting to be eaten, they seem to get by with a croissant and a cup of espresso. Then they’re off to face the day. I feel like such a pig, but such is life.

On our last day in Florence, we went to an exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, who wasn’t born here, but really thrived here since he was such an integral figure in the Renaissance. The exhibit had all sorts of information about the man, not to mention dozens of hands-on exhibits of his inventions. The guy was amazing, especially considering the time. Just goes to show you what happens when you don’t spend all your time watching TV and playing video games.

Naturally, since the show involved gadgets and playing with them, A&N were right at home, especially N. They both had engineer in their blood, but that’s especially true for N. The boy loves machines. There was also a documentary on Leonardo that was very informative about the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, which was nice - a good homeschool lesson.

After the Leonardo show, we headed over to the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is a cathedral where numerous notable Italian people are buried, including Michelangelo, Dante, and Machiavelli. The cathedral was magnificent as usual, incredible amounts of opulence and wealth. It’s striking how prominent Italy was during this time in history.

From there, we stopped at a really nice restaurant called Cantinetta dei Verrazzano and had what I think was our nicest meal in Florence, though we were a little taken by surprise, which I never like. We made the mistake of asking the waiter for suggestions, and he brought us more food than we would normally eat, though it was an excellent variety of breads (bruschetta, focaccia), local cheeses, and meats. It came out a little pricey, as well, but what a nice meal. I need to lighten up when it comes to money, but I can’t.

After a big lunch, we finished our day over that Medici House, which is one of the houses owned by the Medici family who controlled much of Italy, and all of Florence, during the Renaissance. They were the bankers who controlled all the money and their wealth was unfathomable. Their home was bigger than most castles, and their lifestyles reflected it. Just these incredible rooms filled with masterpieces. I believe Napoleon moved into this house when he conquered Italy.

By the end of the Medici House, we were pretty worn out, and it was getting late. Time to get back to our hotel and get ready for our big trip to the Tuscan countryside.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sick and Traveling

In terms of preparing for this trip, we certainly had our work cut out for us. Any time you travel across the Atlantic with kids, it presents all sorts of challenges that are daunting enough to discourage even the most adventurous soul. I completely understand why people prefer to stay at home, and even I at times need a little prodding to make it out the door. Thankfully, we have R, who is in the intrepid traveler, and I say this because all of our trips are memorable, we always have a great time, and we come back with the best memories and experiences. However, even in light of these positives, I still find it hard to motivate.

This trip was no different. There is so much to be dealt with on the home front, I could find a million reasons to stay at home. I need to transport, split and stack the firewood, I need to deal with the barn, I need to arrange school things, I need to arrange our propane delivery, etc. We were also all dealing with colds, some more than others, and there were logistical issues to cover before we left. We had to ask for help from several of our friends to make this trip work, including cat care, getting rides to and from the bus station, finding a cell phone to use in Europe (most cell phone plans in the US won’t work here), and finally, the hardest part, planning the itinerary in Europe. The last one is where R really flourishes, she really thrives in planning and getting excited about travel.

Either way, everything worked out beautifully. I have to get over feeling like a burdern and a nuisance, because friends want to help out where they can. I know I do, and for whatever reason, I can’t project that feeling onto other people. People like to do nice things for you, just like you like to do nice things for other people. That’s what makes the world a great place to live.

Anyway, just a thought on overcoming challenges when traveling. The reality is, nothing is that insurmountable, so you just have to go for it.

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

The Flight Over the Pond

Traveling to Europe is always a mix of excitement and trepidation, especially when you’re with kids. The biggest issue is the health and safety of your family, but you can’t obsess over that because it just makes your life miserable. Life is full of surprises, both good and bad, so you have to embrace them all, because it’s life, after all. You can choose to either embrace it and make the most of it or live in fear and never do the things you want to do, but enough pontification

Generally speaking, flying overseas entails some form of complication. At the very least, it’s a bit stressful. It’s the “getting there” that gives me anxiety, especially in terms of entertaining the kids for 6-8 hours. For the most part, our flight on Air France was very pleasant. The flight was on time, the plane was clean and new, not to mention huge (two-stories!) and modern, and they had the holy grail for traveling with kids: small video screens at every seat.

Since we were doing the red-eye, we weren’t going to watch too many movies, even though the kids were itching to. By the time we were seated, it was well past 11:00PM, and sleep was in order. Unfortunately, I don’t sleep well on planes, nor does A, though thankfully R and N went out like a light. A and I stayed up for the in-flight meal, which was really good. Call me crazy, but I like airplane food. My Mentor is shaking his head right now.

We landed in Paris around 11:00AM, and from there, made a connection to Florence. We were told that we didn’t have to re-check our luggage and to just board the plane, but that seemed a bit strange because we had to go through security all over again. Of course, when we landed in Florence, they’d lost our baggage. My guess is that we should have re-checked our bags. Oh well.

Now it’s a bit of a bummer losing your luggage in a foreign country, but the people at the Air France help desk were very helpful. They even said they knew where our luggage was, and that it should arrive in the next 24 hours. They said they’d bring it to our hotel, and they did, so all was good.

Nothing like a little drama to make your international travel more interesting. I will say this, as well: international airlines definitely have better service that domestic flights. Even though everyone is cutting back, I think the European airlines have better food and just an overall nicer atmosphere. Maybe it’s a Euro thing, but they seem to stress good service.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.
and thanks to Oscar von Bonsdorff for the pic.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travels in Italy - Day 2

I spent all morning writing a blog entry and then lost it through some glitch in the program. Just had to whine about that.

We spent a really nice second day in Florence, and we are definitely finding our European groove and going with the flow, which means a little bread and cheese for breakfast, a little muesli with our coffee, and then off for a relaxing day in the city, just the way we like it. It takes a day or two to get into vacation mode and really just relax and enjoy yourself while on vacation. People who take “staycations” at home really just don’t get it, because staying at home means one thing-staying busy. You really have to get away from your home element in order to let go and enjoy yourself.

The weather has been beautiful up here, perhaps a bit warm, but with a nice breeze. The evenings have been stellar, warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, but cool enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. The people we’ve met so far have been really warm and nice, much like many of the Southern Europeans we’ve encountered, including Greece and Rome, not to mention S. France, where they are much friendlier than Parisians. Even though we’re in tourist purgatory, the prices haven’t been that bad for food, and we’ve found a few gems.

The architecture here in Florence is pretty spectacular, and the main attraction is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo (Dome), which dominates the city. All roads lead to Dome, as N has indicated. Pretty clever, if you ask me. We haven’t actually gone inside the Dome because it’s way too crowded, but it’s quite a site to behold from the outside. The attention to detail is mind boggling, though it speaks of the wealth and power of the church, not to mention the excesses. Nonetheless, it’s truly spectacular, I can’t stop looking at it. The colors are from different kinds of marble, there is no paint used.

Our days are falling into a familiar pattern. We have an enjoyable breakfast in the hotel, very Euro with breads, fruits, yogurt, and dark, black coffee. We then head off to see some major monuments, and though they’re touristy, you have to check these things out. In addition to the Dome, we went to the Accademia di Belle Arti to see Michelangelo’s statue of David. I’m not a connoisseur of sculpture, or of Renaissance art, not like R, but it’s pretty impressive when you see it in person. The details are stunning.

I’m not sure the kids were as impressed, but with R’s excellent narration, we sure learned a lot of cool stuff. AND, we are slated to study the Dark Ages and the Renaissance this school year, so the timing of this trip is excellent, because as I’ve just learned, Florence is the birthplace and center of the Renaissance. How cool is that?

In between the Dome and David, we usually wander the quiet streets of Florence looking for a place to eat, and as you can imagine, there is no shortage of choices. The important issue becomes good food at a good price. Enter TripAdvisor. How did we ever live without it. We actually happened upon a really nice restaurant called Hostaria il desco which won rave reviews from Trip Advisor. The food was excellent, though we are not completely familiar with the eating drill out here. They really take their meals seriously, with three courses, wine, dessert, and a cigarette. I think we looked like rookies out there, but no matter. They were still very nice to us.

Afterward, we found a killer gelato place, very much by chance, because you can’t spit in this town and not hit a gelato place. Apparently, there is a science to finding a good one, and the one we discovered was highly rated by Trip Advisor. Afterward we looked it up, and sure enough, it scored high. The gelato was outstanding, and we learned some important tips to rating gelato, which I find a little over the top, but it’s nice to know.

We walked around because it was so nice out, and ended up at our hotel around 10:00PM. We were exhausted, and still jet lagged, so it was nice to get some rest.

Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Travels In Italy - Day 1

Traveling is always a mix of excitement and trepidation, but this time around we seemed to be a little more relaxed, maybe too relaxed, leaving some things until the last minute. The situation was not helped by the fact that there is a flurry of activity on our end with closing out the school year and getting things ready for next year.
Either way, I hadn’t even packed for the trip with two hours left to go until our departure, and there was cleaning and last minute confirmations that had to be done. If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that we’ve gotten good enough at the travel drill to where it’s not too stressful. If anything, we’re not stressed enough.

Since our garden is going to languish a bit, we are having our friends look after it. I asked them to simply save our small plum tomatoes in the freezer and then help themselves to the rest, since we can’t really use them anyway. We have a bunch of small plums ripening in the window, so we needed to arrange for our friends watching the cats to freeze those, as well. We have new people watching the cats, friends this time, who are doing us a huge favor. Since it’s a bit of work feeding twice a day and cleaning the litter, I broke it up and asked two sets of people to help. We’re forsaking our regular person, PV, because she did a poor job last time and charges us a pound of flesh.

One last note, we needed a cell phone that would work in Europe. We have the ultra cheap Tracfone, which works beautifully in the states, but doesn’t even work in Canada, unless, of course, you’re near the US border, and then you’re just getting US service. Either way, we have to call one of the hotels to pick us up, and if you’ve ever been overseas, you know that payphones in other countries are beyond useless. We searched for options before finally consulting our friends from the UK. Not only did they know the drill, but they offered us one of their phones to take with us. He even explained to us how to take out the SIM card once we get there. Isn’t it great having European friends who know the drill?

The one caveat to all this good will was that a few hours before our departure, I had to jet over to their house and pick up the phone. Plus, these are our good buddies whom we haven’t seen in awhile, so it’s awkward asking for favors out of the blue. However, it is a testament to the strength of one’s friendship, not unlike a favor you’d ask a family member.

In the end, our last day was a flurry of activity, and we thought we had tons of time and before we knew it, my Mentor was knocking at the door to give us a ride, and we weren’t ready! Talk about slacking. One excuse is that our clock in the kitchen died at 2:00, so we kept thinking we had tons of time. Our bad.

Gotta run. The key to blogging when on vacation is to make quick posts and get them up and running ASAP. Just one last note, the airline lost our luggage coming to Florence, but that’s a story for another time.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Almost Time for Take-off

Less than three hours and counting, and I still haven't packed. What am I thinking? Then again, warm weather trips are pretty simple-shorts, shirts, clean underwear, and plenty of possibilities. Just the way we like it, right?

Good vibes and some serendipity on the day of our departure, but more on that later.

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

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sent to the Principal’s Office

I had been trying for the past few days to contact the principal of the school when I learned that she had retired last year. Well what do you know! There’s a new sheriff in town, so I set up a meeting to talk to him about our kids taking part in school activities, maybe even taking a class or two. At the very least, being involved in band/choir/theater.

The new person is GW, and he’s young. He looks about 21 years old, though I know he’s older. Big, too, like a football player. Really nice guy. I emailed him and went over during the day, and things were a little crazy over there as they’re getting ready for the first day of school, which is in about a week or two.

With all the changes and such, there’s no saying what the status of various programs will be, but I do think things will work out fine. GW was very nice and supportive, and we talked about the possibility of A maybe taking a language class or some other offering. They are actually going to offer some cool engineering/design courses, so that may be a possibility, as well.

It was a nice and fruitful visit, and I figured it’s good to check with the man in charge before jumping into activities at the school. I think in years past, I just had Audrey go to these activities without really checking with the principal, and it worked out fine, but this time around I figure I should do it right.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jack The Scribbler for the pic.

Back to Karate

If only for a day, I finally made it back to karate, and it sure felt good. The class is small, though there are new faces. People were surprised to see me, and I felt guilty for being absent for so long. As many of you might know, once you start slacking off on something, it’s a slippery slope, and takes even more effort to get back into the swing of things. There were days when I could have made it to karate, but there were so many other things going on, I found it way too easy to blow it off. Legitimate reasons, mind you, but you have to learn to prioritize.

What’s funny is that I showed up, and now I’m going to miss three more weeks for assorted reasons. Oh well, at least I showed up this one time. Master H wants to have a final brown belt test before the big black belt test at year’s end. This means that during my absence, I have to practice my katas and sparring in my spare time, which is how it should be, anyway, right?

This should be interesting. I will say this - being away was a bummer, but I did practice my body of knowledge, and found that demonstrating katas was not too bad. In fact, I felt pretty good. The only challenge will be practicing the new kata that I’ll need for 1st brown, which I know fairly well, but not perfectly. The problem is that I need to learn it just right or I’ll be practicing it all wrong come test time.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us

Yesterday was our big birthday, and we celebrated it in typical, non-descript style, just the way we like it.  This was the cake I requested. For the record, no word from my mom or brother.

We spent the morning hanging out and taking care of life issues. The kids made wonderful cards and presents (jewelry) for us, and A wrote a song which was amazing. Then we went for a walk to Stella’s for lunch. From there we went to the garden to pick tomatoes and trim the plants, then back home to prepare for our hike. We wanted to have supper on top of Mt. Tom, but had to take care of some things on the practical end.

We ended up getting a bit of a late start on our hike since the days are getting shorter, but with a little inspiration and determination, we headed over to Woodstock and hiked to the summit of the mountain. There were people up there but they left soon after we arrived and we had the place to ourselves. We unpacked our picnic, at a wonderful supper (with birthday cake from Lou’s, my favorite), and then had to head back down. Luckily, we planned it properly and brought headlamps to help us see. This was incredible foresight, because it was pitch black by the time we were halfway down. Not only is it spooky, but hiking down a mountain with zero visibility is not the safest thing to do. Then again, it added to the adventure aspect of it all.

We ended our nice day with a video, and then it was time for bed. Boy, you know you’re getting old when you look forward to watching Downton Abbey to cap off your birthday.

I will say this. One indicator that it was indeed a great day was that it really felt like a Saturday, when in fact it was Tuesday. You just can’t beat that, especially when you’re surrounded by the people you want to be with (our family) in a place you love to be, i.e., home.

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

Running Into My Mentor... Literally

I was thinking of my Mentor the other day (I needed a favor - typical), and hadn’t heard back from him so I was wondering if he was back home in Maine, when lo and behold, I saw him at the intersection near our house. He didn’t see me at first and as he was pulling into the intersection, I ran the stop sign (slowly) and cut him off. I could see him reaching for his Glock to take care of me, but then he recognized me and pulled over for a chat.

It was nice seeing him, and I was able to ask my favor, to which he replied in the affirmative. Then we were off on our merry way. Don’t you love when that happens?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

TCOB (School Business, that is)

Taking care of business, as they say. I scrambled to get our homeschool enrollment packets into the state. Even though the deadline is in about a month, we needed to get it in sooner for assorted reasons. For the record, this is by the far the earliest we’ve submitted, and it’s kind of nice getting it out of the way. Enrollment is a multi-stage process, because not only do we have to indicate to the state that we want to enroll our kids, but we have to create and submit the curriculum, as well as have the kids evaluated and then send in the end of year documents. As I’ve said before in the past, homeschooling is definitely not the easy way to do things, but you are definitely plugged into your kid’s education, no question about it.

This year the state has indicated that they won’t tolerate slackers, so we had to get our act together. This meant spending the last week gathering up all of last year’s school work, summarizing it, and then having evaluations done. Luckily our man, DE, was available this week, so all was good. After doing all that, I then had to write up the lesson plan for next year and submit that to the state. It takes a bit of time, but there is some enjoyment to giving a lot of thought to what your kids are learning.

I got the stuff into the state, met with DE for evaluations, and wrapped it all up. One thing that has made life a little easier is A’s involvement with the DCF book club, because it gives us a concrete list of books that she’s reading and it going to read. This has always been a sticky issue with me, coming up with book lists. A reads a bunch, but it’s hard to keep a list of everything she reads. This way, it’s easy to consult the DCF book list.

In the end, it’s all done, and now we just sit back and wait to hear about all the things I’ve screwed up. Hopefully it won’t be too painful.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to call-small for the pic.

Good Weekend of UF

The kids were fresh off of a busy week at camp, and not only were they (and us!) tired, but they both had colds, as well. Total bummer. They did, however, insist on going to ultimate frisbee, even though all I wanted to do was work around the house, mainly the woodpile and lawn. Oh well, sometimes there’s just no denying your kids.

I was half expecting nobody to be out there since the crowds have been fairly anemic, but there was a good group, and the players were top notch. We had a great game, both A and N scored goals, and it was a blast. Probably our last UF game for awhile, so I’m glad we went. Several of the players have commented on how the kids have grown and improved as UF players, which is really nice. Of course I think that myself, but it’s good to get an outside opinion to cement my feelings.

It was also interesting talking to some of the older kids because you get a sense of what schools they attended in high school, which is something we need to at least give some thought to. Just add it to the list, right?

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

Tomato Bounty

I was beginning to wonder about our tomatoes and if they were ever going to ripen, and no sooner had I wondered this when they started turning red. Gradually they are ripening, and we are almost at the point where I am wondering to myself what the heck I’m going to do with all these tomatoes. Some of them are even impressive, if not funny looking. It’s called a Mortgage Lifter, and they tomatoes are huge.

The question is, what to do with it? On the one hand, they’re big enough to make salsa, but is that really putting the tomato to good use? You can use garbage tomatoes and make decent salsa, what do you do with tomatoes that border on the sublime? You eat them, that’s what. Probably with olive oil and a good, crusty bread. Sounds like a plan.

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

Being Official

I went to my first official state hockey meeting as a scheduler, and it was interesting, to say the least. I’ve been in contact with several of these people trying to arrange games, so it was nice to put a face to the voice, but there were a bunch of people who were completely unfamiliar to me. Plus, I was the only person from our area. Since the meeting was up in Waterbury, which is about 75 miles from here, most of the people were from up and around Burlington, which is a mecca for hockey. These people mean business up here.

My main goal was to meet with other schedulers and get some more games on the calendar, though DF really wanted me to do reconnaissance and find out what’s going on with Vermont Hockey. I have to say, DF is really committed to the hockey program, he’s a pretty amazing guy. When I see how hard that guy works, and nobody works harder, I can’t help but want to help as well.

Either way, the meeting was interesting, though I was hoping to make more contacts, but all the folks from up north seemed to know each other, and I wasn’t really prepared to break into their circle. Plus, the meeting was more informational, and once the talk was over, everyone got up and left. I did manage to connect with the Barre and Lyndon schedulers, both of whom were very cool. Got those games under our belt.

Now I’m going to meet with DF and give him the low down, though a lot of the discussions were over my head. They toss around all these references to things I have no idea about, but I tried to take good notes. Hopefully DF will be able to put together the pieces.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying find games. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to johnwmacdonald for the pic.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tortilla Flats

We’ve been eating at the farmer’s market every weekend, and the choices are fairly limited. However, the one choice that we really like comes each week, so it’s a win-win situation, though the crowds at the market have been thin. I’m not sure how long the market will last, but I don’t think the community has come out as strongly as they had hoped.

Either way, we’re guilty of the same. As much as we go and support the vendors, it can get expensive week after week buying supper at the market. This always leads to extraneous purchases of bread and beverages that the kids want and I feel obligated to buy since these guys are our friends. This past week we decided to skip the market and make the same food we buy at home. Our favorite meal of choice are pupusas and tamales, which Mama Tina makes. They are excellent, and come with this amazing Salvadoran cole slaw and salsa. We can make the salsa, it’s the cole slaw that’s been the challenge. That, and of course, the pupusas.

The slaw seems pretty straightforward, but the question became how they prepared it. It’s funny how some recipes never seem to work out the way you want them to. Some say to leave it raw and let it cure, others say to blanche it. I tried varying degrees of both, and they came out okay, but not as good as theirs. I finally tried doing a flash stir fry in olive oil, and that came out well. We went with it.

The pupusas are basically stuffed tortillas filled with whatever you want, though we go with the black beans. You make the dough and then form it into a ball. From there, you make a bowl, fill it, then flatten and heat. Flattening it isn’t easy, and I ended up getting a tortilla press that works beautifully. The recipe calls for heating it on a hot pan, but I add a little bit of oil and it comes out nicely. Throw on the slaw and salsa, and you have a meal.

Best of all, because we’re making them, we can eat to our heart’s content. They’re not as outstanding as Mama Tina’s, but pretty close. In the end, that’s good enough, and we save money and get to stuff ourselves. Enough said.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Homemade Pita Bread

As part of our healthy eating plan, we’ve drastically cut down on meat and have turned to other sources of protein. One that we like a lot is hummus, though again, I’m still going to feed the kids meat, they’re growing and I’m not a fan of any extreme diet, especially for kids. We adults can subject themselves to whatever nonsense we want, but kids need a balanced diet.

Anyway, hummus is good, especially with some killer bread. Our friend has started a baking business and his bread is at the Coop. He makes this really good spelt pita bread. It’s not necessarily the spelt that attracted me, it’s just that his bread is all natural with no preservatives. It’s not easy to find pita bread that doesn’t contain preservatives, much like it’s hard to find chocolate chips that are made with real vanilla. They are good at sneaking this stuff in.

The problem with buying pita bread is that there’s never enough. You get a package and between four bread loving people, it’s gone too quickly. You have to pace yourself and be aware of how much you’re eating because you don’t want to be the one who eats more than their share. The answer to this problem? Make our own.

Now I would never have imagined making pita bread because I figured there was some magical process to making it hollow, but it turns out that it’s not that hard, especially when you have the King Arthur Flour whole grains cookbook. That book is truly amazing. There are recipes for everything relating to bread, and there is not only a spelt pita recipe, but a whole wheat one, as well. I went with the whole wheat.

The bread was fairly simple to make, and employing my awesome pizza stone, made pretty good pita bread. As the recipe indicates, the bread not only tastes good, but it has killer texture. It’s not rough and coarse like regular whole wheat pita bread, and even has a soft, chewy texture. We all love it, and best of all, we can make large batches and eat to our heart’s content. Pita with hummus and olives or fresh tomatoes. Pita with olive oil and tomatoes. Pita with butter. Talk about going Pita crazy.

Looks like we’re onto to something good. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to brighteyedbaker for the pic.

Board to Death

I don’t mean to be cheeky, but I don’t know what to make of this. The other night we had another board meeting and it, once again, went to 11:00PM. Four hours of arguing, and by the end, I was pretty exasperated. What exactly did I get myself into? It’s one thing if we’re arguing over issues that affect the state of the free world, but come on. The topics were so trivial, and people were getting so heated over the debate. I can understand being passionate about something, but at some point, you have to pick your battles and try to remember that there are other people involved who have places to be and lives to lead. It was just silly to go that long. I was bummed, and at some point R called me on the cell phone to see if everything was okay, and I felt bad.

Something’s gotta give, there’s absolutely (without question) no reason that these meetings have to go so long. The issues are minor, and everyone should just act like adults and deal with it accordingly. Then again, who really cares what I think?

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flush with Blueberries

R has been eating blueberries like there’s no tomorrow, which is good because they’re so good to eat, and it’s also good reason to head on over the farm and pick out own. We’re lucky in that there is a wonderful blueberry farm reasonably close by where we can pick our own, and they’re organic. Plus, they’re pretty reasonably priced, in my opinion ($2.50/lb), you just can’t beat the convenience, and we usually see our friends or neighbors over there picking their own, as well.

The farm is Lone Pine Farm, and the only downside to going there is that they don’t advertise, and there is not much in the way of signage. Consequently, if you don’t know where it is, you have to ask someone who knows, and not everyone knows. I asked several people who had no idea where it was. One day after camp I told the kids we were going to search for it, and they weren’t happy about it, but you just can’t make everyone happy.

Lucky for us, there were signs, albeit small, non-descript handwritten ones, but signs, nonetheless. The farm was in full swing, so we reported back to mom and set aside a day to go pick. It was a good day, actually, because it was cloudy and not too hot. Blueberry picking is actually sort of fun, more so than strawberry picking because you can do it standing up, and better than apple picking because with apples, you end up with all these apples that you don’t know what to do with (waah-waah).

Either way, we picked like crazy, and everyone got into it. The plants were fabulous, filled with ripe, sweet berries, and we ended up with about 23 pounds. Is that crazy, or what? What’s even crazier is that we’ll (mom?) go through that in a matter of months, and thinking of going back and getting more. We had to pack it in early because it started to rain.

I am in awe of this guy’s blueberry bushes, they are amazing. Something to aspire to. Like R said, she’d be happy to have just one busy like this. One day.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Physical Therapy

I finally made it over to the physical therapist (PT), and have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the end result. Now I’ve spoken to a number of people who rave about their PTs and recommend them to me, but I ended up choosing one at DHMC because it was the quickest and easiest way. I originally called my doctor and requested a referral to the closest PT, but then I never heard from them. I think there were too many middlemen involved, so this time around I chose the most streamlined approach and kept it close to home. I figured they want to promote their own docs, anyway.

The PT was very nice, and clearly new her stuff, but in the end, she gave me some literature and recommended some back stretches and exercises, many of which I already know of thanks to RR and the Amazing PR Man. I was thinking they were going to hook me up to a morphine drip.

All in all, the world goes on, and though I know my Mentor is shaking his head and thinks I should see his chiropractor, I think I’ll go with this for now. At least it’s good to know that I’m doing the right exercises, though you realize when it comes to good health, there’s no quick and easy fix. You have to work at it and it takes time. Then again, once you wrap your mind around this idea, it all makes sense.

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

What’s Up With UF?

We were out and about last weekend and went to great lengths to be home in time for ultimate frisbee, but when we went over, the crowd was pretty sparse. We even saw the man, JM, at the field, but he said he had to leave and couldn’t play. Kind of a bummer. It ended up being three adults and several kids, but a pretty thin group, and we didn’t have the field gear that JM brings. We played for a bit, then a large chunk of the group had to leave, so we ended up just hanging out and then leaving. It made me wonder what’s up with UF, and what the future holds.

I was talking to AG and he mentioned that some people were not as into it because so many young kids were out there slowing things down, but come on. We were all at that stage at some point, I still am. They’re learning and they represent the future of UF, we have to encourage and support them. Plus, our kids are the only reason I’m out there. If they lost interest, I’m not sure I’d continue to go.

In all fairness, the guys who are amazingly good probably need more of a challenge, but for many of the adults, it works out just fine. They just haven’t been coming, which is a bummer. I know people are busy and have things to do, but it’s just a bummer when something you love begins to fade away.

On a bright note, AG sent out a mass email reminding people that UF was happening, and there was a good crowd with a good mix of youngsters, neophytes, and pros, so we had fun. It will be interesting to see what happens next week.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to wildcatjon2000 for the pic.

Searching For a Groove

As anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis (all two of you) knows, I’ve been somewhat out of sync lately and haven’t been posting. I’ve just been swamped with other obligations, mainly hockey and school. I’ve even been blowing off my back exercises, and paying the price, accordingly.

The problem with hockey scheduling is that it’s all so new and daunting, so the learning curve is steep and the process is slow. Every little step takes time to learn and become familiar with, and for me, that takes time. I’m hoping eventually it’ll go more quickly, which it already is, though I’m working with a blank slate. This is a double edged sword, because on the one hand, the possibilities are unlimited, but on the other, there are too many darn choices. This should get interesting when the schedule starts to fill out. The situation is further complicated by the fact that game and team availability is in a constant state of flux, so that things are changing constantly and I am never completely sure what’s available to me. Oh well, nobody said it would be easy, and nobody told me that I had to take the job, though sometimes I have a hard time saying no to Mr. Hockey. He works amazingly hard.

On the school front, we have two issues making it difficult. First off, the state has indicated that they won’t be as lenient anymore about enrollment, which includes end of year assessments and next year’s curriculum. This meant that I had to get off my behind and get it done. The past few years we turned stuff in a little on the late side, usually after Labor Day. One year we sent it in October, and I think this made them mad. Consequently, they’re laying down the law and saying it has to be in before Labor Day. Yikes! This is complicated by the fact that we are going on vacation at some point, so time is running out.

With this in mind, I have to put other things aside and get it done. This means going over the school year, summarizing what we’ve done, then preparing for our assessment. Concurrently, I have to determine what we need to do for the coming school year, and then submit a curriculum to the state. This is the hardest part, and is subject to the most criticism by the state. In the past, we’ve had to revise our submission because it didn’t meet their criteria, which is a pain, but you do what you’ve got to do.

All in all, it’s been sort of busy on this end, at least for mom and dad. The kids are having a blast, so I should be happy for that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to cdb41 for the pic.

Real Man’s Hockey

Now that hockey season is completely over (boo-hoo), I can take a break and focus on the rest of my life, sort of. It’s interesting to think back on my inaugural season and what I learned. One thing for sure, it was a lot of fun, and I’m sort of excited about the coming winter.

I played in a more advanced league (Slapsticks) after C-league, and it was an interesting experience, to say the least. One of my teammates from C-league told me about it, and it afforded the chance to play at Thompson Arena, where Dartmouth plays, which was kind of cool. The guys who play Slapsticks span the range of skills, but for the most part, are more skilled and competitive than what you get in C-league. It’s an open stick concept, where guys just get together and play. I am, without question, at the bottom of the food chain. I don’t think I’m the worst player out there, but I’m close.

What really makes it different is that it’s not a team, per se, so there is not as much camaraderie. When you score a goal, there’s no congratulations or celebration, you just put the puck back in play and start over. When you play on a team, it’s much more interesting, and you feel invested in the game. Plus, C-league players are more my speed, and they can relate to my station in life. With the Slapsticks, the guys are not only better skaters/players, but they’re not above letting you know your screwed up or scolding you for your mistakes. I know, it happens to me all the time.

For all it’s worth, I get a lot of constructive criticism, and that helps my game, but I do feel pressure to up my game and avoid stupid mistakes. With C-league, they’re much more forgiving, mainly because they’re out there making the same mistakes. Besides, there’s value in life to being in over your head. It’s not always warm, fuzzy, and comfortable, but you definitely grow from the experience, and that’s what life’s all about, right?

To once again paraphrase Boy Dylan, if you’re not busy being born, you’re simply busy dying.

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

Back to Woodworking

I had told A that I’d make yet another shelf unit for her room, and as usual, let it lie for a few weeks. It’s not an urgent situation, but like many projects, when they get started and then languish, it sort of bugs me and makes me feel like a slacker. The shelf is bigger and a bit more involved, but that’s hardly an excuse.

Either way, I finally decided to get it going, and it proved to be more time consuming that I envisioned. Or to put it more appropriately, I didn’t have huge blocks of time to dedicate to it. One would think that with the kids in camp I’d have all this free time, but that has not been the case, mainly because A has been going to camps and N has been home with me. We end up doing things together and before you know it, the day is over.

Enough of my whining, the shelf is almost done. The next step will be to sand it, and then paint it. Then I can scratch that one project off the list, and that’s always a good feeling, as long as I can ignore the list of other projects calling my name.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No Reply (sort of) At All

So sorry for my prolonged absence, I've been swamped with hockey, the camp, being Martha Stewart, and school, but don't get me started.

Free image courtesy of

As one of my first big jobs as scheduler, I sent out a mass-intro email to the other hockey programs, expecting to be swimming in responses, didn’t hear from anybody. It kind of made me feel lonely. I was hoping to get the ball rolling on this ASAP, but I’m constrained by how the other people respond, which can be frustrating. What makes me a little anxious is that I was told that most of the games should be scheduled by the time of the big meeting, which is coming up. However, they’ve changed everything, and now the big meeting is not such a big meeting, after all.

Now I don’t know what to think. Responses are slowly trickling in, but only a small fraction of what needs to be done. Part of the problem is that most of the other teams don’t know what their alotted ice times at home are, so they can’t schedule home games. That, of course, doesn’t help me, but what are you going to do?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Walking the Dog

Our friend HH is away and she asked us to watch her pets, which means 3 cats, a dog, and a fish. The cats stay inside for the most part, so they’re easy, and the fish is a fish, but walking the dog is where things get a little more demanding. I’m a dog lover, too, but when I had a dog as a kid, I never walked it, we just let it run free. Walking a dog three times a day is a bit of a chore, especially when it’s not your dog. This means I have to drive over in the AM and do the walk, then we go back in the afternoon for the long walk, and then we go in the evening to hang out so he doesn’t get too lonely.

We’re happy to help, and their dog is really nice, if not a little hyper. Plus, on a bright note, we get to watch the Olympics in the evening, so everyone’s happy, though we’re getting tired of watching beach volleyball... or at least some of us are.

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

Heating Options and Fate Intervening

Ah, the barn. The drama that never seems to end. We had to make some big decisions way back when regarding how to heat the thing. Initially, we figured going frugal and doing what was simple and affordable, which meant heating with fire (wood or pellet stove), insulating with fiberglass, and then getting some forced air heaters, like the Rinnai heaters we had in Quechee, which worked great. This plan was endorsed by my Mentor, which should have been enough, but lo and behold, I was swayed by the experts, meaning KB and other assorted contractors.

I understand their position. When you’re an expert in your field, you tend to favor the best and most up to date options, not unlike tools or equipment. It’s not unlike asking a race car driver what car to buy. He’s not going to recommend a 4 cylinder hybrid, he’s going to say get the V8. Anyway, several people said to go with a boiler, which would necessitate special insulation, either foam or cellulose. We went back and forth on this one, and at some point KB threw his hands up and decided to wait until we finally made up our minds. This, of course, may never happen.

About a week back, we finally decided to go with the boiler, we were so sick of thinking about it. The boiler is expensive, no doubt, but it gives you heat and hot water, and it seems like something a lot of people use. Plus, a lot of people seemed to give it a thumbs up, although my Mentor was questioning all this. I contacted the boiler guy, who sent me a quote, and told him on the phone and by email that we were interested in moving forward, which I was assuming involved some sort of deposit.

Then a funny thing happened. He never got back to me. I waited and waited, and no response. I figured he was sick of us, as well, and was going to take his time. In all honesty, we get this from every contractor we’ve had to deal with. Then, as luck would have it, I was at the library talking to CF, resident energy efficiency and practical guru, and he told me that a boiler was a waste of time and money. He said they are expensive, they have a high profit margin for installers, and they have more opportunities to break down. Plus, our situation was complicated by the need for special insulation. CF was adamant about how much better Rinnai heaters were, though being the efficiency expert, he said to insulate with foam or cellulose.

I did what I always do in situations of doubt (and even certainty) and contacted my Mentor, who seconded the motion, though he said he thought fiberglass would be fine. He then told me to do what he told me to do several months ago, and that was to go to the Young’s propane, tell them our situation, and find out how much it would cost, then compare.

So I did, and it was informative. I got prices for units and installation, though Young’s did say that they would only install heaters for their propane customers, which we are not. We have Irving, which I like. There are two ways around this situation: we could either become Young’s customers, if only for the barn, and then they could install the stuff, or we could contact our own propane dealer and see what they could do. Contracting with Youngs would have meant having two different providers, which isn’t the end of the world.

I ended calling Irving, and they said they’d send a person out to consult with us. I’ve never really seen an Irving store, so wasn’t sure what to expect. The guy came out the next day, and it was actually very helpful. He, too, endorsed the Rinnai heaters (funny how that works) and went over the pitfalls of boilers, the same ones as CF’s complaints. In the end, I think we’ve decided (for now) that we’re going with Rinnai, it just makes more sense, and they are cheaper. Say no more.

Plus, the guy from Irving was really nice, and he’s a local hockey parent, whose kids we’ve played, so he’s like family. I love when that happens.

Now all I have to do is tell the boiler guy that we won’t need his service, if he ever calls me back. Then again, it’s sort of nice that he’s blowing us off. Serendipity, perhaps?

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

The Downward Slope?

Seeing that I’m just a big whiner about the heat, maybe the best thing for anyone within earshot of me would be for the heat to simply subside, and I’m wondering if that might soon be the case. I know this makes some people happy, but not me. There is some debate what the hottest month of the year is. At one point it seemed like July, but so far, August has been pretty scorching. However, I get a sense that we have hit the peak, and maybe it’s all downhill from here.

Wishful thinking? It wouldn’t be the first time, and can you blame me? At the very least, the days are beginning to get noticeably shorter, and that must surely contribute to some sort of cool down. This past weekend was hot, but I think the forecast calls for cooler temps. Today is nice, so it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll see where we go from here.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to 88salesutah for the pic.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weed Whacker Issues

In a classic example of getting what you pay for, I’m having some issues with the weed whacker, and it could very possibly stem from the fact that I bought a cheap one. It’s not a complete piece of junk, and for our purposes, it works fine, but I did get it cheap. I know my Mentor and the Amazing PR Man are shaking their heads and wondering when I’m going to learn.

Either way, I got the thing new at Britton’s, and as I mentioned, it was under $100. Now $100 seems like a lot to me, but if you know anything about power tools, $100 is a drop in the bucket. People who are serious about lawn care can easily spend a few hundred dollars on a weed whacker, if not more. If you’re talking a driving mower, you’re looking at thousands of dollars, so spending $80 on a weed whacker is nothing.

For my purposes, however, it’s been fine. I use it maybe four times a season, at most, because I don’t always trim after mowing, though I guess I should. I probably end up weed whacking once for every three mows. Either way, it’s not the end of the world. The tool I have is not powerful but does the job, and it’s been working fine, it’s just that some problems do arise. They are not insurmountable, they just make it a pain to use. The biggest thing is line extension. Normally you bang the head against the ground and it lets out a bit of line, so you don’t have to stop.

For whatever reason, mine gets jammed, so I have to turn the thing off and manually extend it. I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy, but for the most part, it works fine. In fact, I used it to trim the weeds growing through the cracks in the brick path, and it cleaned them out beautifully.

In the end, our weed whacker works adequately, it just doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, not to mention conveniences. I can live with all that, as long as it starts and cuts weeds. Let’s just hope that continues.

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

Rekindling (no pun intended) the Wood Pile

The time has come to return my attention to the woodpile and being the long process of splitting all that wood. I don’t know where the time goes, but it’s already August, and before I know it, winter will be here. It is not a pressing situation because all of our wood for this winter has been drying for the last year and a half, but as I’ve mentioned continuously (painfully?), the idea is to have the wood dry for two years, after which it will burn beautifully. At least that’s the theory, though I’ve found even after two years, I get some hissing when it burns. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

There is about a half cord of blocks lying in the splitting area, so I started splitting that, after which I’ll have to begin the laborious process of moving the cut blocks over. It’s one of those jobs that you initially look at and think it’ll never end, but you have to just do it. At some point, if you can believe this, and I won’t fault you if you don’t, but I actually sort of enjoy it and look forward to doing it. I can’t quite explain it, because it’s hard work, but it just goes to show you that you can set your mind to something and find it satisfying. It’s the process and end result that make it enjoyable.

Then again, it’d be a lot easier to sit back and watch the Olympics. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Video Camp

Last week A did her second week of video camp, and I think we have a winner. She really enjoyed it, and she got to mingle with quirky kids who have an interest in creative endeavors as well as digital media. It’s a great opportunity to have fun while learning modern digital filmmaking techniques. Best of all, she really loved it.

This second time around the class was much bigger, with a larger mix of girls, most of whom were older than A. Last time she was the only girl and it was a small group, which worked out nicely because they had fun working together and got to do more as individuals. This time around, they had at least twice as many kids, placing greater demand on things like cameras and computers for editing. This did, however, make the group more diverse and as a consequence, the overall experience more interesting, perhaps. My take on it, based on A’s comments, was that there were rewards to both situations.

In the end, A raved about the camp, she really enjoyed it, and I think it suits her well. She gets to be creative in writing scripts and filming the movie, she gets directorial experience in guiding the film, not to mention working cooperatively with the other kids. She can express herself in acting, which she is good at doing, and finally, she gets a lot of experience working with computers and software to edit the movies. Best of all, she enjoys every step of the process, so it’s a great experience, especially since the kids who thrive in this environment tend to be creative and quirky, not necessarily the captains of the football team or the head cheerleader. That’s fine with us.

They had their “premiere” last Friday, and we all went to watch the films. They all did a great job, I was so impressed with the level of creativity and how well all the films turned out. What a great camp! The stories were wonderful, the acting hilarious, and all in all, the films were thoroughly enjoyable. I laughed the entire time. Afterward they had a little “Academy Award” type ceremony and then it was over, but we hope to get her involved in more activities like this in the future. Somehow film speaks to A more than being onstage, though she is good at theater, as well.

After the premiere, we still had time to make it to our HH’s party, which we thought we were going to miss, and then off to the farmer’s market. Talk about being busy. The day was scorching hot, as well, though not as hot as Ohio. Fortunately, HH has a small pool, so A&N got to swim and cool off.

What a nice way to end the week. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to great_buffalo_hunter for the pic.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let the Games Begin

Not the Olympic games, mind you, but the youth hockey games (what else is there in life?). Even though the season is months away (actually, not that far), the planning for the season begins now, and I’ve been recruited to be at the front lines of it all. This, of course, begs the question, how the @#^&% do I get myself into these things? For whatever reason, DF felt like I was the man for the job, and on the one hand I could take this as a compliment, but on the other, an acknowledgement of what a sucker I am. When I mentioned to R the plan, she was not happy, but her initial response to all of my ideas is usually less than positive (to put it lightly).

Either way, I’m doing it, and so far, it’s been interesting. I’ve spoken with a few people about the job, and with the exception of DF, who is a firm believer in “anything is possible,” most people talk about what a bear of a job it is. Not the best POV to start something new. When I was initially asked by DF if I would help, of course I said yes, but I indicated that I didn’t know if I could do the scheduling, because it does seem like a big job. Nonsense, DF said, in typical optimistic fashion. He acknowledged that it was a big job, but he is confident I can do the job. Thanks a lot, I think.

One thing is for certain, this will definitely keep me in the thick of the youth hockey world, because I will be rubbing elbows with all the other organizations. What my job entails is contacting the other teams that we’d like to play and organizing the games. We have limited time slots, as do they, so it’s a bit of a game matching times and trying to find a way to make everyone happy. As every parent in this world knows, this is an impossibility.

The problem is compounded by the fact that we’ll be away at some point, and someone else is going to have to take over. In the meantime, I’ll have to do as much as I can during the time that I am here. The previous scheduler, BM, did an amazing job, and I think he should continue, but alas, it is not meant to be, so the torch is being handed off to me. I just hope I don’t get burned.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to 2014lovessocial for the pic.

Go Climb a Rock

Inspired by our time in Ohio, N and I went to the indoor rock climbing gym and had a blast. Now when we were visiting R’s parents, the heat was excruciating. I fully acknowledge that I’m a big whiner and a baby, but man was it hot, and humid. I’ve spent time in the south in the middle of summer, and I’ll tell you right now, it is no different in Ohio. We did, however, manage to temper the situation by living in the city pool.

It was a nice pool, though not unlike most city pools that you see, with lanes for swimming laps and a shallow end for wading. The pool in Ohio, however, had some other nice features. There was a slide, which the kids loved, as well as a rock climbing wall in the deep end. The way it worked was you climb the wall, and at any point along the way to the top, or if you make it to the top, you can simply let go and fall in the water. It was a ton of fun.

We all gave it a go, and initially made it up about 1/3 of the way before falling in, but we enjoyed it. I watched the teenagers do it, and they were good. Almost all of them made it to the top, especially the girls, who climbed with no problem. At some point, I decided that I’d like to make it to the top before we returned home.

We ended up at the pool almost every day, so I had plenty of chances to practice my climbing, and by the second day, I actually got to the top. What was nice was the teenagers watching me were encouraging me, though it was mostly the girls. The guys couldn’t care less if an old man climbed to the top. Anyway, it was fun, and by the last day, I was pretty confident with the climb.

When we got back home, A was away at video camp, so N and I had lots of time to hang and do things. One idea that came up was the rock climbing gym in Quechee. It used to be called the Wall, but then it closed and reopened as the Green Mountain Climbing Gym. It’s a nice way to practice climbing, and it’s not cheap, but not expensive, either. I wasn’t going to climb, it was just N, and I was the “belayer,” which is fancy climbing talk for the guy who holds the rope. It gave me a good chance watch N do his stuff, and he did a great job. In fact, he made it all the way to the top by his 4th climb. To give you some perspective, it’s about 3 stories up, and if you’ve ever been that high, hanging from a wall, no less, it can be pretty precarious. N did a great job, I’m proud of him.

He did about a dozen climbs and then we were done. I’m glad he enjoyed it, and I think A would like it, as well. It’s a nice activity to do when it’s ugly outside, or for that matter, painfully hot. Yes, it gets that was up here, though not nearly as bad as the Midwest.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to (adam) THEO for the pic.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guy’s Days Out

Since A has been at video camp all week, N and I were hanging out and spending the day together, trying to stay out of trouble. It’s fun just hanging with the guys because we get to do guy things like play sports and eat guy food. One day we went to the driving range and N got to try out his new clubs, or rather, his old clubs with the snazzy new grips. The owner of Amy’s Range, Amy, was telling us that the grips on some of his clubs were adult sized and made it harder for him to grip. He was choking up to make it easier.

She said they made junior grips and she ordered them for us and even put them on. They’re actually really cool looking, and I think N is excited about them. Now I’m not a golfer (I just play one on TV), not like N, but one thing I do enjoy is going to the driving range. I just bring a driver and hit them as far as I can, but N tends to use his different clubs for different drives. He’s just like a pro.

It’s fun, and the driving range is covered, so even though it’s hot, you can get some shelter from the blazing heat. Plus, the range is ideally located near such manly destinations as Home Depot and Ziggy’s Pizza, as well as Fore-U Ice Cream, but we’re not eating ice cream these days (boo-hoo!). After the driving range, we went to Ziggy’s Pizza, which isn’t part of our new eating plan, but sometimes you just have to break the rules, especially with kids. It was nice because not only was the place air conditioned, but the Olympics were on.

After lunch, we got some chocolate at the Lindt store, then picked up and went home. It was a nice day of male bonding. You just can’t put a price on those moments.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.