Monday, March 30, 2015

Rock and Roll Music

A has been taking guitar lessons for several years now and her teacher is very supportive, but it begs the question, does she want to take it to the next level? I'm not even sure what that is, but I do think she is a pretty cool guitar player, and she loves to perform. With that in mind, she mentioned playing in a band one day, and the opportunity has sort of come up to do just that. There is a place up here that organizes band scenarios for kids who are interested in finding a group of like-minded musicians. It's sort of a school, but sort of not. When someone wants to play, they match people up, they get a set list together, and then meet regularly at the studio to jam. Eventually they play gigs around the area, at small venues and locations. I've never been to one, but am interested.

A said she would like to try it out, but she's only been playing electric guitar for a couple of months, and even then, not too seriously. Her guitar teacher continues to teach her each week, but she has simply replaced her acoustic guitar with her electric. It's that simple, though she's never really sat down with a band and played. The school invited her to a rehearsal to sit and watch a band play, one that is currently seeking a new guitarist. I actually recognized the lead singer, she played hockey at one time. The band ran through their set list and I not only recognized most of the songs, but happened to like them, as well. They played the Dead, Rush, Heart, Radiohead, the Beatles. A pretty eclectic set list. Afterward A was excited but a bit daunted since the musicians know each other and have been playing for awhile.

With that in mind, she was reluctant to jump right in and join the band. We spoke to the director, TS, and he suggested A come in and play for him so he could give his input. A's guitar teacher, EE, gave her a ringing endorsement, but TS had never heard her play. We went over there last week and they played for about 30 minutes, and he said she would be fine playing with the band. Plus, he made the valid points that when you play in a band, you want to challenge yourself and elevate your level of play to become a better musician. This involves operating outside of your comfort zone, which we all know is the only way to develop and grow in whatever you do.

So now A is interested, and I think she wants to go for it. I am all for it, and think it would be a cool experience, not only musically, but socially, as well. Not that she will become buddies with her bandmates, but when you're a kid, there's something undeniably cool about playing in a band. Plus, A would benefit from a good challenge, especially one where she has a baseline level of talent and experience. It would provide concrete goals for her to focus on.

The band will be playing a gig in the coming weeks so A will check them out. She obtained a set list of their songs which she can practice, and I can help her in whatever limited way I can. It should be good.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ibrahim lujaz for the pic.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Board Search

I have been looking for a new snowboard for A and have come to the realization that it will not happen this season. It would have been cool to have had the board to try at least once this year, but alas, it was not meant to be. Besides, we've lost a lot of steam for winter sports, though I get a sense that N is always ready to hit the slopes. What complicates this whole affair is my need to be frugal, which is rooted in both practical and personal issues. Lord knows I have more than my fair share of issues.

I could easily drop a few hundred dollars and just get her the board of her dreams, but I am somewhat philosophically against such actions. I really don't think a board is worth that much money, especially at this stage of the game. Conversely, looking for a cheap used board is frustrating and severely limiting in terms of selection. Besides, used boards are not that cheap, anyway. I see people selling used boards for $400-500, which I think is crazy, but most people don't think like me.

I don't, however, want to make the same mistake that I made this year, which was to wait too long, thus forcing me take action and limit the selection. Bad planning on my part. Since we have until next season I have time, but again, this happened to me before and I got complacent. I will continue to scour the yard sales and Listen, but there's a fair amount of junk there. As it is with hockey equipment, at some point you've established that the kids are interested in the sport and buying cheap, used stuff is not the best route. Plus, there's the ever important cool factor.

So I'll keep my eyes open. Since skiing is winding down, there are already some good options that are popping up. The question is, do I go for it, or wait to see if something better shows up? I think we all know the answer to that one.

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

Exhausted but Happy

So Mom returned from her big trip and it sure is nice to have her back home again. We were all excited about it but it was a bit of grueling day picking her up. The problem we ran into was that the kids had all sorts of things going on that day, and her flight landed on the late side. She arrived in Boston around 7:30PM and caught the shuttle home around 9:00PM. The ride is about 3 hours, so that meant a midnight arrival here.

Talk about a logistical nightmare. The kids had all sorts of things going on that day and evening, and N had a game the next day at 7:00AM, which meant a 5:30 wake up for him and a 4:30 wake up for me. I picked up mom around midnight and it was great to see her again but it was late and we were all tired and weary. I knew she'd be hungry so I brought her a sandwich, and we got home around 12:30. We both went straight to bed and I got up about 4 hours later and took N to his game. Then it was back home in time to take A over to her babysitting gig. At some point I was able to lay down and take a nap, but I can't really remember when that happened. Go figure.

That's what happens when you're old, tired, and your heads in the clouds. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Krissy Venosdale for the pic.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Boy and His Bike

Speaking of spring, we got N a new mountain bike (MTB) because that's his other burning interest, and for years he rode on a hand me down from a friend. The bike was nice, nicer than anything else we had, but hardly a MTB fit for a mountain bike shredder like N. The key components that he was looking for were disc brakes and larger wheels. His old bike has old style brakes, which slip and slide when wet or muddy, and had 24" wheels. It was time for him to graduate to a 26" or 27.5" like the big boys. I have 26 inch wheels, but my bike is over 20 years old.

Whatever be the case, we got him a sweet new ride and he's totally stoked about it. He literally can't wait for the snow to melt so we can hit the trails, though mud season will set up back some more. I'm glad he's happy with it, we ended up getting it new at EMS, and it was 20% off because it was a 2014, last year's model, whatever that means. It was the last bike in his size that they had left.

Needless to say he's been riding it around the driveway and yard, despite the snow and ice. He's a trooper, that's for sure. Now I just need to get myself a bike that was made in this millennium and we'll be good to go.

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

Mountain Shredders

The ski season is winding down and while I'm ready for some warmer weather, I'm sort of bummed to say goodbye to ski season because the kids have made such great strides on their snowboards. They've become mountain shredders, and I'm glad they're enjoying it. Snowboarding opens up new avenues of adventure because trails that they had mastered and maybe had become bored with on skis are suddenly an adventure on a snowboard. I think this adventure will last at least a couple of seasons, so we can return to hills that may not challenge us as much and have loads of fun. I love when that happens.

For now they are satisfied with the boards they have, but I'm thinking A needs a new one with cool designs, and eventually N will outgrow his, though he really likes his current board. That will give me something to work on during the spring, summer, and fall. Hopefully I won't fail miserably like I did with A's skis.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Image Studio for the pic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sick Winter

In addition to the long cold winter, with record cold temps and plenty of snow, we had our usual bout of illness. To be honest, I am still not 100%, maybe around 99% and for the most part feeling fine, but I still have a tiny bit of congestion and a cough. How much of a drag is that? This happens to us every year, and the boys seem to get harder than the girls. Why is that? The kids usually get it first, and for A there is a day or two of severity, and then she tends to heal well. R doesn't really get that sick, ever, but N and I get hit harder.

Actually, not so much harder, but it tends to linger longer. Last year I literally coughed for 6 months, and N coughed for a stretch. This year we didn't get hit as hard, but again, it hung on. We were back on our feet pretty quickly, but the bug never completely left. I think N is pretty much back to 100%, and even when he was a little sick, he is still highly functional, unlike me, who becomes a basket case when ill.

The cold weather didn't help, but that's the beauty of being a parent. No room for whiners and you have to just deal with it. Maybe a little whining, but that can't stop you from taking care of business. It's funny, because we went to meet an orthodontist and I was sick, so I asked for a face mask. When the orthodontist came in to meet me, I think he was taken aback by some guy wearing a mask in his office. Can't say I blame him.

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

Just The Three Of Us

We've been riding without mom these past couple of days. It's a definite drag but we're glad she's doing some cool stuff. She's out of town until this Friday, so it's been just the three of us. Aside from the practical and logistical load that I've had to assume, it's tough when you're partner in crime (and life) is away. You're emotional and practical support is not there, and it definitely leaves a bit of hole in your life. We'll be glad when she gets back. Fortunately, I've got the domestic drill down, so I'm not completely clueless and lost... well, maybe just a little.

We've been using technology to KIT, with regular Skypes at least once, often twice a day. It's sort of fun, though we'll be happy to have her back in the house and eating with us at the table. Even though I'm waiting for hockey season to end, that and skiing have been keeping us busy, so we don't have time to pine... then again, there's always time for that when it comes to mom.

I guess we'll just have to ski more until she returns.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tambako the Jaguar for the pic.

Put To The Test

This winter my mojo was really put to the test at my new job. I spend a lot of time on my feet delivering these posters around town, and when I think back on it, there were a lot of days where it was either arctic cold or snowing, or better yet, both. As I mentioned, it was a record cold February. I remember going to places that were closed because of the weather, and yet here I was, on the job. Sort of like the US Post Office, whose motto is something about "neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet, etc." Either way, it's sort of funny, but sort of not. I'll tell you one thing, shoving push pins into a board isn't easy when your fingers are becoming frostbitten.

Then again, this is New England, and there ain't no room for sissies, especially when you're training to be a real man, right? I'm curious to see how I feel about the job once the weather gets warmer.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tiomax80 for the pic.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Prom Night

We went to the town prom this past weekend and I have to say, it was quite the raging affair, not to mention a rip-roaring good time. I didn't know what to expect, but they (they being the UU Church) did a really nice job on it, and the turnout was great. Not just old farts like myself and little toddlers, but a good showing of hip teenagers trying to impress by dressing to kill. Even the pre-teens looked like they were 16 years old. I was impressed.

We missed the prom last year I think because A had a hockey tournament, and A is really the one who wanted to go. This year she was looking forward to it, though the boys (N and I) were a bit ambivalent. We would have been fine just staying at home and watching a movie, but we motivated and went and were glad because of it, but more on this later. The theme was to dress to impress, so A got all dressed up and she looked awesome. Even N put on a "dress" shirt and looked cool, though I think we may need to work on some pants for that young man.

We got there in the beginning and A immediately took off with her buddies, which was good. I'm glad she had a clan to hang with and they were pretty much inseparable for the night. N and I sort of stood on the sidelines for a bit and we were actually prepared to leave but I cajoled him into asking at least one girl to dance, which he did, and then I didn't see him for the rest of the night. He ended up having fun hanging with the babes, and I just sat there all night by lonesome like a stick in the mud. I was very stoked that the kids were having fun, and I wasn't that interested in dancing without R there, so I was fine.

As I mentioned the crowd was impressive, and everyone looked good, with the exception of myself, who always looks like a slob. They had this massive hot fudge sundae bar, and the music was thumping. The only thing I thought was lacking were kids around the age of N. Mostly older and much younger, so nobody for him to hang with other than the girls he knew, and they were a bit older, but older women have it more together, so it worked out fine.

All in all it was a fun night. We got home around 11:00 and A got home around 12:00, she hung with her buddy and they helped clean up. She was literally running on fumes because she slept over at a friend's house the night before and literally got no sleep. Oh well, teenagers are more resilient, and she had a blast, and that's what being young is all about, right?

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

Working on the Hill

I'm guessing that this will become a yearly rite of passage, but I am once again toying with the idea of getting a job affiliated with the ski hill. First it was to work at the Inn or spa, then as a ski instructor, and now I'm thinking I'd once again like to work on the ski hill. They must be getting sick of seeing my application, but I've been sincere in my interest, it's just that every year complications arise.

I happen to know some of the guys who do it, and I even know the head guy, so I approached him and he was into the idea. In fact, he wants me to meet him on the hill and meet the crew and learn the ropes. Sounds good to me. I figure we're at the hill a fair amount, anyway, so why not work there and maybe be productive and worthwhile? Not that I'm not productive and worthwhile as it is.

The ski season is pretty much over so for now, so I will have to wait until next fall, but I think I'm ready, or at least as ready as I'll ever be. We'll see where this one goes, stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to David Greer for the pic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Winning Smile

It's looking like we're going to have to get braces at some point, and it hasn't been too bothersome... yet. I had braces as a kid and am glad for it, and today kids are way more evolved than I ever was, and they seem to roll with it. Plus, with modern technology, braces are not as traumatizing. They can even be, dare I say, cool?

We have thus far visited two orthodontists, and I have to say, the experience has been interesting. The two offices were completely different, and I got a sense their respective approaches differed, as well. One was high tech and fancy, catering to the big city crowd, albeit it at a higher cost. The other was more casual but not as fancy or impressive. He was, however, more to the point with fewer bells and whistles. I think he was more affordable.

We will eventually visit a third one, and then we will probably have to make a decision. Some commonalities that we've heard so far is that he will not need a palate expander and the time frame is about 3 years. Both orthos have also said the timing is good because he is still losing teeth, so they want to see how things transpire.

More adventure, just what we need. At least it's warming up and the hockey season is winding down, opening up more free time on this end.

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

Happy Birthday to A

We celebrated A's big birthday yesterday and even though it was low key, it was a very nice day, if I may say so myself. It wasn't over the top and though I feel bad sometimes that we don't throw these lavish parties with all the pomp and circumstance, I also believe that making a huge deal about one's own birthday is bit indulgent, maybe a little misguided, and perhaps even a little unhealthy. It's only one day, after all. Either way, as always, we try to stress the more important things in life, but birthdays are a big event, and even though we don't spend loads of cash, we make it a point to spend the day celebrating this special occasion.

This year A requested that she attend this big event down in Boston with two of her best friends in lieu of a big gift. She scored some very thoughtful things from her grandparents and aunt and uncle in this regard. We also hit her favorite stores to get her some things that will make her fashionable and cool (always important for this age group), and I told her that I'm on a mission to get her a new snowboard that she can ride with pride. This is not something she made an explicit request for, but the timing is good since the season is winding down and all sorts of sales will ensue. Her current board is adequate but totally "cool," so it's something she didn't expect but would love to have. BTW, she and her brother have become pretty darn good snowboarders, but more on that later.

We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and then mom and I started making treats for video club and after supper, since we'd be out all day. I woke up early and made cupcakes for the group, packed up a lunch, and headed off for the day. Mom stayed at home to make the cake, and the plan was to meet up with her later in big city to see a movie. After video club, I picked up the kids and we did some teen shopping, which took us all over town. Then we headed to the big city and did some more shopping before finally meeting up with mom. We had supper at the Noodle Shop, A and N got a bubble tea, and then we went to the movie.

We went to a free screening of Dartmouth Video Animation students, and it was pretty cool. They did a nice job, and it's cool to see what opportunities might be out there for the future. It was not like the National Gallery movie, which was painfully boring. After the movie, we came home, had cake and ice cream, and called it a day. I think A had a nice time, and it was just the right speed for boring mom and dad. Now I just have to keep my eyes out for a cool snowboard.

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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Most Boring Movie Ever

In the interest of trying to find an activity that is fun, educational, and entertaining for the kids, we ended up practically torturing them. To their credit, they patiently sat through it and didn't complain, though I felt really bad. We have been going to a lot of movies lately at the college because we get a good deal on tickets since I work at there. Mostly we have to split up and somehow work it out, but every now and then we think the kids will enjoy a movie or two. There are definitely ones that the girls could see together and appreciate.

Recently they screened a documentary about the National Gallery in London, and I figured it would be an interesting learning experience about the museum. I'm a fan of art and at one time toyed with the idea of majoring in art history in college, though without question every one I knew tried to talk me out of it, and like a fool, I listened to them. Either way, I like art and can appreciate the story behind it. I figured we'd all learn something new about the National Gallery, but the movie ended up being completely different.

In fact, I really thought it was pretty lame, and I like documentaries. After the first hour I wanted to get up and scream, or better yet, leave the darn theater. It was really just a bunch of snippets about the daily workings at the museum, both front and center as well as behind the scenes. Some of it was interesting, but there were an inordinate number of scenes involving board meetings arguing about budgets and logistical issues. It was so tedious, and the beast was 3 hours long. I couldn't believe it.

In a major tactical error, we made the huge blunder of sitting right in the middle of the row. Normally they would have been killer seats, but we were exhausted, bored out of our minds, and trapped like animals. And, to rub salt in the proverbial wound, we wanted to go to the Chinese New Year party on campus where they were serving dumplings and moon cakes, but we completely missed it. After two hours I told R that I couldn't take it anymore and braved the crowd and got up and left. My plan was to take the kids with me and get the heck out, maybe even take them home because A had a big day in New York the next morning.

However, as I got up to leave, R told the kids to sit patiently and wait it out. She didn't realize, of course, that there was still another hour to go. Poor kids, I felt bad. The people in the row were very understanding and dare I say envious of me that I had the cojones to get up in the middle of the movie and leave. The funny thing is, gradually people came to their senses and left the torture chamber, and every one of them asked how long the torture was going to last. Clearly we didn't do our research.

Finally with about 20 minutes left, R braved the crowd and got the kids out. It was about 9:30 at that point and we were tired and hungry. We had to get home because we had an early morning, but I was really angry and frustrated at the movie. What a piece of junk, and a long one at that.

Now I feel like we can't drag the kids to any more of these things. It would be akin to torture, for parents and child, alike. Live and learn as the saying goes.

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

Friday, March 6, 2015

Still Ticking

Hockey isn't over yet. The clock is still ticking, though there are only a few more weeks left, if you can believe that. This weekend is the end of the state tournament, and then we have a few weeks until the final tourney. It seems like it's been a little longer than usual, maybe it's my imagination, but it's almost as if hockey just won't end. I know it sounds crazy, but at some point you sort of want to move on with your life. There are all sorts of spring hockey options and select teams, but A&N don't want to do them. I am sort of glad, I'm not sure I'm prepared for another month or two of ice time, despite how sacrilegious that may sound.

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

Monday, March 2, 2015

We Love Henderson's Again... and again

Once again, our favorite ski shop has come through for us. I love those guys. The kids have been skiing and snowboarding this winter, and they've been on used equipment, as usual, at least until they decide they like it. With N, he has enjoyed learning the boarding but he is still a skier at heart. Besides, his board is pretty cool, with a slick dragon on the bottom deck, which I'm learning is what it's all about - the key to snowboard coolness is how the thing looks.

Which brings us to A. She is becoming increasingly interested, not to mention skilled, at snowboarding, and all this time she has used an old board that put together over the years. It's not sleek and cool, but it was fine for learning on. Of course, you learn soon enough that fine for learning on is not only "not cool," but downright embarrassing. To her credit, A never complained, she just pointed out certain facts, like when her snowboard instructor told her the board was so old it came out decades ago, probably in the 80s. In fact, it is apparently one of the earliest incarnations of snowboards ever made.

Talk about retro. Now I know I could have ignored these facts and just told her to deal with it, but at some point you have to move into the 21st century. I also know this is a frivolous concern, but image is important to kids and it's worth it for parents to give it some thought, whether you agree with it or not. So I went looking for a newer board, nothing fancy and definitely nothing expensive, but maybe something made after the year she was born. Of course I went to Henderson's and asked if they had anything lying around, so they went out back and came out with a board that was a little thrashed but nicer and more importantly, cooler looking. I didn't need bindings, so they sold me the board for $20. How cool was that?

I came home and switched the bindings over and now A has a board that she's not completely mortified to ride. In fact, she might even think it's sort of cool. I love when that happens.

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


I have to give A credit, she was confronted with an obstacle (her own anxiety) and through sheer determination overcame it and accomplished her goal. It's nice to see when your kids pull that off. A tends to overthink things and while this can lead to great insight, it can also make a journey more difficult. Indeed, when you over think things, you often tend to avoid them altogether, which is shame because you can miss out on a lot of things. Ever since A was little she gave a lot of thought to things, and it showed. She is a cautious and thoughtful person, and sometimes you can see the pensiveness in the things she does, at least in the early stages. I saw it in her skiing and skating, where you could see she wasn't as relaxed as she could be.

When she wanted to try snowboarding, I had a sense this would be another journey of discovery, especially since it can be a painful learning process. I signed them both up for lessons this winter and N picked it up pretty quickly. A would have been fine except that she missed half the lessons, so she fell behind. By the time she returned the rest of the class was off and running. That, however, didn't mean she couldn't practice on her own.

One day when N was off skiing with his buddy at the big hill, A and I went to S6 and she spent the day snowboarding. Actually we both did, and I thought at some point she'd just call it a day because it can be a little rough on the body, but she was determined. She just kept going up and boarding down. At some point I switched over to skis and I figured she'd do the same, but she kept going for it, and by the end of the day, she was looking good. You could see she was more comfortable and didn't need me there to offer moral support. She had become a snowboarder.

I'm proud of her, she stuck it out despite the rigors and anxiety that come with learning not only a new trick, but one that can pound on your body, especially your bottom. I've always felt that A is a cerebral kid and can overcome physical challenges by just thinking her way through them. Of course, the stakes are higher when it involves learning a cool activity like snowboarding, but that enhances the reward.

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