Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

On Monday, on our way back from our annual Christmas week trip up to Massena to celebrate my Mother's birthday (which is on December 28), we encountered typically treacherous weather on the strip of Rt. 81 around Pulaski, just before Syracuse. I have endured many terrible winter trips on this road, and Sunday's trip wasn't even the worst of them. The worst in our history was in January of 1985, right after I had moved to Rochester, where massive snow and white-out conditions made Rt. 81 disappear and extended the trip between Watertown and Rochester from two hours to eight hours. That night it seemed like we would never make it home, and after that trip I vowed we would not make the trip during the winter months anytime in the future.

But, as of last weekend the forecast looked favorable for a fairly uneventful trip weather-wise. And, it was uneventful, at least for the trip up North. Sunny and warm, we got there in our usual four-and-a-half hours. We had heard rumblings of bad weather for our Monday return, so we decided to get on the road right after breakfast (and a quick visit to an old aunt). The conditions were snowy and slick, but we made our way driving carefully until the patch outside of Watertown (a notorious snow belt region). The slush and icy conditions were forcing many cars off the road, and as we moved along a white Ford spun uncontrollably in front of us until it left the road and came to a rest in the right-lane ditch. That's when the trouble started.

Mark was concerned about the couple inside the white car as he noticed they were a little older, so we pulled off the side so he could be sure they were okay - they were. But, they didn't have a cell phone so we offered to let the man, Chuck, use ours to call a tow truck (it turns out Chuck and his wife, Stephanie, were traveling from Ottawa to Florida for the winter). While Chuck was making his call, in my rear view mirror I spotted an out-of-control car veering directly toward us, and I told everyone to get ready for the impact. The hit was over quickly (complete with left-side airbag deployment) and everyone, though shaken, was okay. Chuck was in a little pain, saying his back and neck hurt, so we called an ambulance to get him checked out.

After a visit from the ambulance, the fire crew, and the State Police, all the information was exchanged and the tow truck hauled our car out of the bank. There was extensive damage to the back and a little along the side, but the car was driveable. By 1pm we were back on the road, and got home safe and sound. We all thanked our lucky stars that no one was standing outside the car when it was hit and that we were in the Pilot, our SUV, and not the little Civic compact.

Because we were hit, the liability for repairs and related expenses (towing, rental car) will all be billed to the insurance of the young man who hit us. Today we found out the Pilot has $13,000+ worth of damage, and it will be about 25 days until we get it back, during which time we've arranged for a rental car.

I guess our good fortune in the wake of the accident is just one more thing we have to be thankful for. And to my relatives in the North, see you in the spring! You won't be seeing the Baker's until the winter is officially over!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's NOT just like riding a bike

Last night, one of a handful of times in the last five years, I went ice skating on a friend's backyard rink. Before I laced up five years ago, the last time I had been skating was probably 25 years ago. Most of my childhood winter activities revolved around skating, as my friends and I went out just about every night to the rink at the Little League field or a shallow pond nearby. To this day I think I have some nerve damage as a result of the many times I came home with frozen toes, and I remember parking my feet (and butt) atop Nonnie's old-fashioned radiator, blasting out heat, in attempt to thaw them.

BUT, some things are lost over time, like the ability to ice skate. How awkward I looked out there, trying to regain my old stride and perform my old tricks (which were basically stopping quick and skating backwards). Who knows? Maybe practice makes perfect and I can get those ankles back up to par and speed around the rink like that long lost teenager once again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Longest Day

Today marks one of the days I look forward to all year: the Winter Solstice. Although this day officially ushers in a long winter, it also marks the day when the amount of light begins to increase every day (which means: Spring!). Am I too optimistic wanting to skip winter altogether??

Today the sun will rise at 7:39am, and set at 4:38pm - giving us a whopping 9 hours of sunlight! In case you need something to look forward to, a month from now we will have already gained 1/2 of sunlight.

This longest day is the start of what will be the longest work week as we have to work through Wednesday. And how slowly those days will go until we have a week-and-a-half off to regain our sanity and ring in the new year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome to Cookie Land

Last night we held our Sixth Annual Fourth Avenue Cookie Exchange, and hosted our neighbors from the street and a couple beyond the Fourth Ave. realm. It's always pretty obvious how small our house actually is at times like these, but I always feel that the fun of inviting without limits outweighs the fact that people are packed into our three major party rooms: the kitchen (very bad, indeed), the dining room (a little better except for the big table in the middle), and the living room (open enough for a bunch of people to sand in the middle).

This year, as always, there was a great selection. As with the last couple of years, the Baker kids request "Christmas Windows," which aren't so much a cookie as they are candy (mad with three ingredients: chocolate, butter and colored marshmallows). Apparently the either (1) have no imagination, or (2) just can't get enough of those Christmas Windows. Ironically, I didn't get a chance to try any of the cookies folks brought, but the best part of all: we get to keep all the cookies people didn't take. Linda: this year I'm going to finally get a taste of those Kahlua brownies!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

He Lights Up Our Life

Just like we lit him up!

Christmas - A time for...letting go?

Something has happened to me in the last couple of years. I've really started evaluating how I spend my time and the "things I do" to determine what's worth continuing and what has run its course. I've always been one of those people who sees a need or an interest in starting something up (like my bookclub or the New York State Chapter of my professional organization), and "just does it." But, lately I've been forcing myself to do some tough self-evaluation to determine my motivations for taking things on. Does it come from a desire to belong? Do I think if I don't do it, nobody will?

Such self-examination comes with maturity and feeling more comfortable in one's skin, but I've been thinking a lot lately about my relationships and things I've been involved in. This year in particular, has been one of those where I've said "I'm all done with that," and have practiced letting go of some long practiced (and loved) activies and traditions.

Because the holidays have so many milestones and events associated with them, this year has caused a noticeable drop-off of a couple of things I've always initiated over the years. One example is that I stopped coordinating Mark's extended families gift exchange ("drawing of names") for the Christmas Eve party at his Aunt and Uncle's house. I've initiated this activity for about five years now, and this year when it became apparent that there were a couple of schools of thoughts about ways we might do it differently (i.e. just draw for the kids, donate to a charity), I didn't feel it was my place to make a recommendation to the family. So, I decided it was time to pass it onto to another family member. In effect, "I'm all done with that." (A relief.)

The next example is an event that I thought would cause protests among my kids if I suggested ending the tradition, but no one even noticed: St. Nicolas Day. Every year since Cameron was born we've gotten together with Mark's cousin's family (who have children the same age) to celebrate St. Nicholas Day (you can read about last year's St. Nicholas celebration in the Baker blog here). Again, sensing that I was the only one who really cared about this tradition I decided not to remind the kids about it, and did not contact our cousin a month ago to pick a date and time. Guess what? The day has passed and no one noticed that we did not celebrate. I guess I'm all done with that, too.

I'm learning that's the way of life, and that everything evolves, including relationships and traditions. It's neither bad nor good, it just "is." Be assured, that for every activity or tradition that I've discontinued over the last couple of years, there is always one (or two, or three) to take its place.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Messages in a Bottle

After 5 1/2 years in our house, we finally got motivated enough to unpack and organize the attic. It's pretty damp up there, with a lot of creepy-crawly things, so I was concerned about moving a lot of the stuff out of cardboard boxes and into large plastic containers. The long weekend proved a great time to get down to business, so up we went.

I complain a lot about how much of a pack rat Mark is (I'm the opposite...I get rid of everything that I'm not using or haven't worn in the last couple of years), but for once I as glad for his tendency to save because I located (most likely) every letter I wrote to him during the early years of our courtship, dated from December 1981 through August 1984, right up to the time I moved to Rochester.

After finding them, I did not have an overwhelming desire to read them, wanting to leave the past in the past, and figuring they'd be corny as heck. After 28 years together and 22 years of marriage, so much has happened (much great, some, not-so-great), I didn't feel like I wanted to travel back to those idyllic years when I was a young girl filled with teenage love. Call me cynical, or maybe just realistic, but the view from 46 was sure to look a lot different than the view from 18. But, my Libra curiosity and nosiness got the best of me, and I sat down, put the letters in order, and began to read.

Here are some things I learned about my 18-year-old self. Some of these memories are as clear as if they happened yesterday, and some I have NO MEMORY of:
  • I went out to bars with my girlfriends (a lot), and drank a lot of screwdrivers and "quarter drafts." I mentioned, more than once though, that I didn't drink "that night" because I was the designated driver (Wow! How 2009!).Most of my letters to Mark were written after I got home from going out. Usually after midnight or 1am. Can you imagine me staying up that late several days a week now?! I did have the good sense to re-read the letter(s) before I mailed them.
  • I had a really hard time finding a job
  • I couldn't wait until the next trip to "Roch-cha-cha."
  • Apparently my parents drove me crazy, especially my father with his questions about "where I was going." In one letter I was complaining that he wouldn't let me go to Frontiertown with Sue, her mom, and her cousin, San. That's craziness! I wonder why he wouldn't let me go! The fact that my parents drove me crazy is something I do not recall, but it makes me feel good that I complained about my parents much like I'm sure my kids complain about me.
  • I made my friends a lot of taco dinners. This, I remember.
  • One of Sue's long-distance boyfriends paid me to buy (and deliver) her a white rose.
  • There is some sexual innuendo in the letters. We won't go there.
  • I wrote A LOT of letters. Sometimes every other day in the summer. Wow!
  • I complained about the number of letters Mark DID NOT write.
  • At one point I apparently had a job interview at Alcoa, the aluminum company where my father worked. In the letter I write, "I hope I don't have to wait two hours for a 10 minute interview like Tim Bell did." I absolutely never recall an interview at Alcoa! I wonder how different my life might have turned out if had gotten a job there?
  • I also apparently took a civil service exam. Again, no recollection!
  • I missed Mark a lot during out time apart, "more than he could know." There was a lot of that kind of blather.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
I feel really fortunate to have found the letters after all these years, and am glad my kids can have them for the future. They really helped remind me of a simpler time in our relationship, and the less-mature love I felt for Mark way back then. Who knows, maybe the kids will make a major motion picture about us based on the letters!

Mark is continuing to clean out the attic stuff and just came down with the letters I had written to him. I didn't even know I kept them! There are substantially fewer of those, so I'd might as well get reading!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Annalisse-ism, 2009 Style

Here's a little nugget to get your Thanksgiving week started out right. I've posted Annalisse-isms before here and here, and here's a conversation we had on Saturday on the way to the mall to buy her friend a birthday gift certificate:

A: How much is a $20 gift certificate?
Me: How much do you think it is?
A: I don't know.
Me: If you had to guess, what would you guess it costs?
A: I don't know. Maybe $30?


Well, it turns out that a $20 mall gift certificate actually costs $22, so I guess the joke was on me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Travel Bug

Most of last week was spent in Boston for a two-day conference for work. I arrived early on Tuesday morning and had the day to spend as "tourist" until I had to check-in at 9am on Wednesday morning. I suppose it's a sign of maturity that I thoroughly enjoyed the short walk to Quincy Market, a longer walk on the Freedom trail, wandering around Chinatown and relaxing (by myself!!) in my hotel room. I remember back to 1991 or so when I went to my first professional conference, and was very anxious about the trip - what would I do at mealtime? And what it would be like to be all alone in a hotel room? These days, I really enjoy the solitude of short get-away from "real life" and the sometimes mundane routine that comes from family and work! Are we talking escape, here?!

One of the hot things going around on Facebook these days is the challenge to post a message every day about things we are thankful for. Of course, I'm thankful for the usual stuff: healthy kids, my husband, my home, my job, my extended family, etc. but one of the things I'm REALLY thankful for is that I have a job that allows me to travel to cities that I might not otherwise have the financial means to visit. As a result of trainings or conferences in my previous and current positions, I've been able to go to San Antonio (and Bandera, TX - the Cowboy Capital of the World), Scottsdale, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Denver, Boston, and New York. In April, if all goes well, I'll be heading to San Fransciso. Who could complain about that? Definitely something to be thankful for.

Every trip just reinforces how I wish I could travel more (read: all the time). I think we all have dreams of travel in our retirement but there are two things wrong with that plan: (1) we won't be retiring for quite a long time, and (2) chances are we won't be able to really afford to travel that much.

Remember Cam's trip to Greece, Italy and Paris last year? Well, guess what? Now he's going to Germany in June for an home stay/exchange program through his High School. I'm sure annalise won't be far behind with travel. I've told both kids they should take advantage of study abroad programs when they're in college...hey, maybe we'll finally get a chance to travel abroad to visit them! That's probably what it will take. I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sickness all Around

This was another "great" week of bad health for the Bakers. While I was feeling more myself and back on the track to good health, the kids still struggled all week with coughing, low-grade fevers, sore throats and headaches. Looking over the years, I recall that February is a particularly bad month for sickness in our family and others, so the fact that it's all taken a such a hold so early in the season makes me very uncomfortable and anxious for the winter.

Even our sweet nephew, Jackson, has been through the wringer this week with a double ear infection, pneumonia, and the H1N1 virus. Dave and Mandy have been in and out of doctors and emergency rooms with him for a week now, and Mom flew down on Wednesday morning to help out. Luckily, yesterday (after being in the ER for re-hydration until 4am the previous morning) he seemed to turn a corner and has been perking up regaining strength, and eating a little again. All of this does not bode well for a worry wart like me.

Next week I go for a two day conference in Boston, and that family joke is that every time I go away someone gets sick. My only consolation in all this is if everyone was sick this week, maybe I'll have a worry-free trip next week. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Judy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Week

This week was the perfect storm of maladies for me. It all started a little over a week ago when a bump on my leg took on an otherworldly appearance in the form of an angry, red, boil-like-ready-to-burst skin volcano. After urging from Mark and Mom Shiao all weekend to go to Urgent Care, I decided to wait it out and see my regular doctor on Monday (by which time the "boil" had begun to drain and was already feeling better). According to Dr. Sorge, my affliction was not a boil but a soft tissue infection in my leg often caused by bacteria or a staph infection; I have no idea what set it off.

So, after a course of antibiotics and heat for the last week, my leg is looking decidedly better. The rest of my body, though, is having its own challenges. My loving son was kind enough to pass on his cold, complete with constant sneezing, a non-productive cough, and a low-grade fever thrown in, which I've been battling in earnest since Wednesday. Today is Saturday, and I'm still not feeling very energetic or strong. I'm pretty sure it's not the H1N1 virus since there has not been a lot of the other symptoms, but it's been enough to keep me in the house and on the couch all week (as if i needed another reason to take a nap).

And today I'd better get that nap, for tonight we will be overrun by ghouls, princesses and monsters. Now, if I could only get up the energy to carve that pumpkin!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Head of the Fish: Worst Case Scenario

On Saturday evening we returned from a day of torrential rain, 40 degree temperatures and a hellish day of rowing in Saratoga. The forecast had called for rain and chilly weather all day, but it turned out to be a dangerous rowing day with many of the kids suffering from borderline hypothermia, and even one of the Fairport kids going to the hospital. The coaches do talk a lot about dressing in layers, in spandex, in gortex, yada yada, but the kids were quickly soaked through all their layers from the relentless rain and puddles of mud (with a couple of thunder bolts thrown in for good measure).

When Cam came off the water after racing his eight-boat, he could barely walk and he, along with his teammates, were shivering uncontrollably. Luckily the coaches had the good judgement to pull Fairport out of the race by 11:30am, and we were on our way back home by 2pm after a quick lunch.

Needless to say, we did not make it to Vermont. Once I saw the problems with the weather situation at the regatta, I didn't feel comfortable leaving the kids.

On a brighter note, for the races the kids did complete, Annalisse's boat came in 4th out of 18, losing to the 3rd place boat by just three seconds, and Cam's boat came in 9th out of 20. Not a bad showing for a very bad day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Consellation Prize

Today we head to Saratoga for yet another regatta. This is a "big one," featuring upwards of 800 boats, and is the second-to-last regatta for the fall racing season (the last one is the "Pull the Plug" regatta in Pittsford). We're keeping our fingers crossed that the kids will come away with a medal, but this one is really competitive so we're just hoping they have fun.

As a consellation prize for having to forgo my sanity-restoring yearly trip to Vermont this fall, Mark and I are going to sneak away from the regatta after the kids' morning races are finished and spend some time in Manchester, Vermont, which is about an hour from Saratoga. Even though the day is calling for rain, I'm sure the quick trip and a nice, leisurely lunch will offset the fact that we didn't spend time in the Green Mountain State this fall.

Who's with me?!

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

A couple of articles have creeped up lately under various headings such as 4/10 or 10-4, which refers to the idea that many businesses are considering (and some have transitioned) to a work week of four 10-hour days. If only my job would or could do something like that (I'd have the added benefit of only having to work a 35 hour week, or four 9-hour days)! This article highlights the example of the switch by government employees for the State of Utah, and outlines the expected savings in electricity and heat for the business, and gas for the employees.

My employer would likely never consider this since we are a very service-oriented place (less visits would most likely result in less enrolled students), and we actual have students who live on-campus, so we need to keep things up and running all week long. Our main respite is the week between Christmas and New Years, when we do actually close down for a week or so (except for my office, where several employees still go in to handle the volumes of applications we get during that time).

I don't think it's any secret that Mark and I love our free time, whether it be vacation or just a weekend. So, it goes without saying that we would fully embrace the idea of a four-hour work week, even if it meant being totally dead for that extra day since the work days would be so long. I think as energy and gas prices (and the price of things in general) continues to rise, though, we will see an increase in the 10-4 idea.

Indeed, and idea whose time has come!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to "MY OLD MAN" on his 48th birthday!! Pretty soon I'll have to turn him in for a newer model! Unfortunately, the kids will both be at a sleepover tonight, so we'll probably have to go out for Indian since they don't like it. Then, who knows? Maybe I'll try to stay up past 9pm. The sky's the limit!!

Have a great one, Mark!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'll take a Gold and two Bronze, Please

Congrats to Annalisse and Cameron on their great showing at the Head of the Genesee 5K Regatta in Rochester yesterday. Annalissse earned a bronze for her 4-boat, and a GOLD(!) for her 8-boat. In her words, "she almost cried!", but I think there were tears (no "almost" about it) for her and her rowers after many regattas of disappointments. Cam earned his second bronze* (in their second regatta this season) for coxing his eight to third place (out of six) after a challenging course during which they "caught two crabs**." Great job, kids!!

*This post contains no pictures of Cam with his medal since it is fundamentally uncool to pose for pictures for your mother when you're 16.

**Crab - A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an 'over-the-head crab.'

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Never Ending List

The other really exciting thing that happened on Monday, besides the never-ending 14th birthday celebration, was that our Turkish (well, techinically it's Iranian) rug arrived by way of Mom/Mark transport from Dave and Mandy's place in Virginia. The renovation project that started in February is coming along nicely. Now that the rug is in place, all we need to do is get new furniture (HA!). There are still a couple of loose ends to be tied up (as reflected by "the list" on the refridgerator). The "list" contains such compelling ($$) items as:
  • shutters for the upstairs bathroom and Cam's room
  • new shower fixture
  • new bathroom cabinet handles
  • drywall repair and paint side entrance
  • and, of course, new furniture (couch and chair)
On next year's list you'll find:

  • new sewer pipes in basement
  • remove wallpaper and paint the backroom (Mark's cave)
  • paint Annalisse's room
And possibly, next year if we can swing it:
  • remove wallpaper and paint the downstairs bathroom
  • tile for downstairs bathroom
  • new vanity
  • new toilet
  • new tub (maybe...)
On a distant, future year's list you'll find:
  • seal (or replace) driveway
  • home theatre system (TV mounted above fireplace and wireless remote for all equipment)
  • paint the outside of the house
  • new porch
  • new front steps
Then, when we win the lottery:

  • new garage
  • a new kitchen!
Whew! I'm still waiting for that pot of gold to drop into our yard. I'd better get outside and look for the rainbow!

(Apologies for the less-than-stellar pictures. I can't seem to locate my camera [but am pretty sure I know who might have it - ANNALISSE!], so I will post better pictures of the rug later.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Birthday Girl

Happy 14th birthday today to my "baby," Annalisse!! We've gone from parties at home to parties at Build-a-Bear to birthday sleepovers, and yesterday it was a "dress up dinner out" for A. and her friends at Boccaccini's. After crew today, the celebrations will continue with a family pizza party. Her greatest gift so far? Two snuggies from her friends. She's now a member of the Cult of Snuggie. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

800 Miles in Five Days

Yesterday I returned from a week of travel back-and-forth and back-and-forth across Western and Southwestern New York State as a visited eight graduate fairs recruiting for our programs. While it's tiring to pack and repack, and lug my stuff from one fair to another, it's a lot of fun meeting prospective students from other colleges and reconnecting with colleagues (over dinner is the funnest time of all!). The main thing that kept me entertained during long hours in the car (and the inevitable extra time spent driving around since I get lost A LOT), was listening to NPR, and all the great programming they have on during the day and at night.

When I'm going for a long distance, or will be visiting a lot of schools in a short time, I usually rent a car. This time I was "fortunate" enough to score a PT Cruiser. When I heard that was the car I was getting, my first question was, "Do you have anything else?" They are the UGLIEST cars and I hoped no one would recognize me driving it. I felt like Michael Scott in The Office.

The highlight of my trip was on Sunday night, when I checked into The Old Library Inn Bed & Breakfast in Olean. When I called to confirm my reservation, the Inn Keeper let me know that I was one of two guests for the night, and also told me that they (the Inn Keepers) stay "off premises." Okay....I wasn't sure how to feel about that. I had never stayed at a B&B where the Inn Keeper was not present. But, I overcame my reservations (no pun intended) and arrived to a beautiful, old (1895) house that was very much in the style of The Capitol Hill Mansion Inn (where we stayed in Denver). By the time I came back to my room after a great dinner at a Bistro 188 (a "nice" dinner was not easy to find in Olean, which seemed to close down on Sunday nights), I returned to my room and was still the only car in the lot.

Realizing that I was the only guest (so far) in that big house was a little disconcerting and sort of scary. But, I told myself to BUCK UP and act my age (39 and holding), and was soon drifting off for a fitful night's sleep during which I commanded myself to keep my eyes closed. All in all, it was a great place to stay with a delicious breakfast, and I feel like I grew up a little more that night as I faced my irrational fears of staying alone (which I wasn't because I was joined by a young Rabbi at breakfast)!

It was great to get home to the laundry and the dishwasher and the...wait! Take me back to the hotel life where someone cleans my room every night and does the laundry!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Heaven there is no beer

There's nothing better than a rousing round of beer songs to get the crowd moving, especially a bunch of would-be Germans at Oktoberfest. And, just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is German at Oktoberfest. Not that that's a bad's not at all! It's so much fun to see the grown men in lederhosen and felt hats with little pins on them, and women with peasant dresses and braids in their hair.

All of this certainly contributes to the atmosphere of Oktoberfest but let's be honest: it's all about the food. The heavy, bland, wonderful food (and pastries). It's also all about the music, especially the yodeling and the alpine horns!

We've been going to Oktoberfest for several years now, since being invited by our neighbors Morey and Ann. We even invested in a pitcher that we bring every year. Here's a video of Annalisse and our neighbor, Chris, acting like they know how to Polka. Enjoy!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Dreaming of a Three-Day Weekend

Last week was the first full week I worked in a VERY LONG TIME. After a very busy weekend, including Sunday, that was taken up from 7am-5pm with the Lift Bridge Regatta, in Fairport, I sure could use a three-day weekend now!

Getting back to the Regatta, it was the first fall competition for the kids. What a great day! The weather was absolutely beautiful (warm, sunny, breezy - you don't want to have to stand all day in drizzly, cold weather which I'm sure will emerge by the November regatta) and many people came out to cheer on the kids. Annalisse raced two heats (placed 2nd in one [out of two boats], and 4th out of 6 in another), but did not earn any medals.
Cam cox'd his boat to a bronze (third out of 6) and was very proud of that, having been his first time out in competition since he became a coxswain.

Mark spent the whole day on the course either timing at the starting line or hanging out in the safety launch (one of the motor boats that monitors the race).

Crew has been such a great thing for our family. It depends very heavily on family support and volunteers, so there's been the opportunity for all of us to get involved. And for two kids who were never involved in sports, it gives them a chance to participate as part of a team, and they've loved it. That being said, I sure could use a day off after the crazy weekend. Well, I can always sleep at work!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Young and in love

Twenty-two days ago today two young, idealistic kids took the plunge surrounded by the love of family and friends, many of which are no longer with us. It's bittersweet, and the thing of wonderful memories! Of course, we've had our ups and downs since that rainy, fall day, but surviving the challenging times enriches what we have together.

Here's to our anniversary (spent mostly doing crew-related stuff with the promise of a dinner out one of these days)!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let's do it for the ladies!

Come on out to the Red Bird Market in Fairport on Saturday, September 26, from 10–11:30am for a book signing by all the authors of Life, featuring Fourth Avenue's own contributing writers Ann Rasbeck, Donna Edgerton, and Elaine Boyd. Life is a follow up to their wonderful memoir, Seven Women Seven Lives, and books will be available for purchase.

(Remember: the more books sold, the closer we get to that street swimming pool!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't make me say it again!

I'm sorry to bore you with this, but I once again have to sing the praises of living in Fairport. It all started with the street party on Friday night. Closing off the street, eating great food, sharing great conversation and the enjoyment of watching the kids having a ball with each other - it doesn't get much better! For many of the kids, they claim it's the "funnest night of the year." The day threatened rain, but we ended up with a really nice, cool, clear night that ended at 10:30pm with a bonfire at the neighbor's place across the street. Heaven!

On Saturday, the kids braved the drizzling rain to wash cars for the Fairport Crew Car Wash fundraiser. I know, I know! It seems a little redundant (or unnecessary?) to wash cars in the rain, but what the heck! They still did pretty well with a steady stream of cars going through. On Saturday night we had some friends for dinner (they didn't taste like chicken), and the autumnal table (their words, not mine) was adorned by a bouquet of beautiful big-faced sunflowers I had gotten at the market. It was a fun night with great food and great company!

The busy weekend was a preview of the busy week to come. Do I hear those Christmas bells chiming in the not-to-distant-future? NOOOOOOOOO!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And they're off!

After what seems like the longest summer break from school to ever be recorded in modern history, the kids headed back to school early this morning (they were both gone by 6:40am) to their first day of 11 and 9th grades. It's my tradition to get a "first day of school picture" (I'm sure I didn't invent that...flashes were probably going off all around the town this morning), and this morning it was not easy. It took about 10 shots to get an even nearly acceptable one as Cameron was NOT cooperating. In the final shot, if you look closely, you can see he's doing something weird with his eyes. Ugh! Oh well, don't look too closely...

I predict they will be collapsing from exhaustion by 8pm this evening.
(What a cool day to go back to school: 9/9/09!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

The summer bookend of Labor Day '09 has come and gone, and with it a trip to Washington, DC (well, technically, Arlington, Virginia) for our nephew, Jackson's, baptism. The ceremony was made even more special because Jackson's mom, our sister-in-law Amanda, was baptised along with her son, and the ceremony was performed by our Former Pastor, Bill Flamman.

We headed down to Dave & Amanda's early Friday morning, and I was reminded how much fun the area is and how much I miss it now that my BFF Sue no longer lives there. There was a time when the kids and I would take off for the weekend on Friday morning (direct, cheap flights), and come home on Sunday night. I always feel extremely awed and humbled to be in DC, and also extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to visit many times in the past, and the prospect of visiting a lot in the future now that our family lives there.

We did some of our usual favorite things: an afternoon browsing the stores and Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, lunch at the Austin Grill, a trip to the Eastern Market and a walk from Capitol Hill to the middle of the Mall. The heat! The crowds! It was craziness!

The entire weekend was one big food fest (I'm not complaining). On Saturday night we went to the famous Peking Duck, and also to an awesome (and very authentic) dim sum (Mark's Duck House) on Sunday morning after the baptism. I'm still stuffed. Of course, on the way down, and the way back, we had to stop at the Country Cupboard for a homestyle lunch and to restock on sticky buns. Ugh!

Mark had hoped that we could bring our Turkish rug back from DC, but it has not yet arrived with Dave & Amanda's household goods from Ankara. Oh darn! Looks like we'll need to take another trip down when it gets here!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Facebook: Satisfying My Stalker Tendencies Since 2007

I've silently and verbally heralded the virtues of Facebook (FB), but I've never written about it in my blog (although I've been meaning to) until now.

I first heard about FB in probably 2006 or 2007, when it was primarily a social networking tool for college students. Working in a college, I would often see our student workers logged in, but they would also be really involved with MySpace, and I didn't see much value in either. Soon enough, though, I heard that I should create a FB page in case prospective students would like to connect with me to learn about our graduate programs. So, onto FB I went, and created a professional-looking profile which went on to attract no attention whatsoever. After that, I would check the page maybe once every four months to see if there was any action - there wasn't.

Then something happened: FB exploded! I mean it literally exploded as more people started to create profiles and, for me, FB shifted from a recruiting tool to my own person time capsule. Friends from the past, current friends, long-lost relatives, and co-workers began to "friend" me, and I, in turn, would browse their lists looking for friends to invite to connect.

Young, old, it didn't matter. FB seemed to fill a need (actually, a desire, more than need, I would expect) for people to reconnect with those who knew them as their "former selves." I suspect in many cases, it provided validation and absolution, as in: "See how good I look now? I'm really doing okay..." Whatever the motivation, it doesn't matter. I've heard people call FB "CrackBook" (like the drug) because it's so addicting; and it is!!

Many articles have been written about how older age groups have hijacked FB from the younger generations, and how the young folks will soon be leaving FB and creating a new social network to get away from their parents and the adults who are now gaining on them to make up the biggest demographic of FB users. I say, "Adios! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

The advent of technology and the Internet often gets a bad rap because many say it creates a distance between people, and that no one ever communicates "face-to-face" anymore. But, I feel really fortunate to live in a time where I can reestablish relationships with people who were an important part of my younger life. Not to mention staying in touch with those faraway relatives that you only see once every couple of years, if you're lucky. Sure, it's sort of mundane to know that your college buddy has a really important meeting this morning and is then heading to the gym for a workout, but it breeds a certain familiarity that is both engaging and comforting.
Want to see for yourself? Send me a friend request and off you go!

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Praise of the Staycation

Today is the last day of my week's vacation spent hanging around the house. I'm quite lazy by nature, so having the week spread out ahead of me with not a lot planned was a real dream. Alas, why is it that vacation weeks always go so fast and work weeks always go so slow?

I made a to-do list at the beginning of the week and I'm happy to report I was able to check everything off. This exciting list contained such compelling activities as "pick up a 'new driver' handbook at the community center" and "file kid's stuff in their bins in the attic." Oh! And don't forget the very necessary, "Get a new watch battery." Mundane stuff, but ultimately satisfying because these are things that have been on the list for a while now. The highlights of the week were being able to take several dips in grandma's pool, and we were blessed with great swimming weather during what some have said has been the nicest week of the summer.

I persuaded Mark to take today off so we can spend my last day of vacation much like the previous day's vacations: checking stuff off the list. Today's exciting activities will include taking Cam out to look for some playing cards he's been wanting, and checking out couches to go with the new rug (which is not here yet).

Try not to get too overwhelmed with excitement!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Meanest Mother

This morning Annalisse was lamenting the curse of having a really "strict" mother and how upset she was that I would not give her permission to sneak out and go into the village late at night when she and her friend Mo spent the night in the tent this coming Thursday (I know! You think she would further her cause by not telling me her intentions!). The funny thing is, I don't think I'm that strict a mother. A little obsessive about their whereabouts and safety (what parent isn't?), and probably a little too involved in their activities - but strict? That's a good one! Her arguments remind me of a poem my friend Meg read at her mother's funeral service. It illustrates the great divide in perception that's been going on between mothers and their kids for generations. It's long, but good. Enjoy!

"The Meanest Mother"

I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than the other kids' also. But at least, I wasn't alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.

My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we'd be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less - not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was used more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy's pants. Can you imagine someone actually hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now you can begin to see how mean she really was.

We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because she made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends? The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night and up at eight the next morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like our friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.

She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did. By the time we were teenagers, she was much wiser, and our life became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really there. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I'd had a boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused to let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if you dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year.

Through the years, things didn't improve a bit. We could not lie in bed, "sick" like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends' report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for nothing less than ugly black marks.

As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the pleasure of being a drop-out. My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate. Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You're right, our mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a million and one other things that our friends did. She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.

Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my children call me mean. Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world.

written by Bobbie Pingaro (1967)

Family Picnic Pix

As promised, here are some pictures from the picnic we had when Aunt Jeannine visited. This one features Mom, Aunt Jeannine, with their (very tall) sister Aunt Jackie in the middle:

This one brings to mind that old song, "Cameron and Bonnie, sitting in a tree..." (look closely).

And, here's the whole fam-damily, including the kids, my sisters, and our cousin Brenda:

In the words of my wise 13 year old, "Boy, those Canadians sure know how to party!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

They say the best thing about retirement is...

...Sunday night! That saying also goes for the Sunday night before a week of vacation! Which starts NOW!

I've been really lax about blogging lately. I do have some ideas I'd like to blog about, but with the kids home it's been really hard to get a block of time on the computer. That's mostly true, but is probably more of an excuse for the fact that I'm really busy right now, and simply have not taken the time to blog!

Here are some highlights of the last week:
  • Last weekend we travelled to Massena for a family picnic with Aunt Jeannine and Uncle Larry who were visiting from Edmonton, Alberta. I think I've written before about how awesome Aunt Jeannine is, and it was GREAT to see a bunch of other relatives all at once. My super nephew even taught the kids some drinking games (using gatorade)...that was just great.
  • Cam is still really busy with camp. He's home this week but goes back on Sunday for another week. In all, he will have spent five weeks at 4H Camp Bristol this summer. He would move there if he could!
  • Annalisse is raking in the dough babysitting this summer. Last week alone she made $140! Of course, it burns a hole in her pocket! This past weekend she went to spend a couple of days with Aunt Mary in LaFargeville, and between shopping and hanging out in Alex Bay for Pirate's weekend, they both got their fill of girl time.

I just got back from Saranac Lake for my annual girls weekend with Sue, Lorie, Heather and Gina. It's always a wonderful, fun, relaxing couple of days with my girls who mean so much to me!!

Getting back to the original point of this post: I'm off for a week's vacation! We don't have much planned as the week is filling up already for Annalisse with babysitting jobs and hanging with her peeps. But, with Mom home now we'll get some swimming in (Summer is FINALLY here) and just generally hang around with Jasper. I expect he'll also reap the benefits of my week off with a couple of trips to the creek!

I will post pictures of my Massena weekend with Aunt Jeannine soon (Annalisse has them on her computer). Until then....stay cool!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Here Comes Trouble

Last night, after months of saving her hard-earned babysitting money, Annalisse bought the "phone of her dreams." I was very proud that she was able to save over $200 through her mother's helper gigs, and, if you know Annalisse, you know the temptation she struggled with anytime she went into a clothing store or to the mall.

Another milestone: I finally gave in and added texting to all the family phones. Hey! At least that makes us one of the last families with teenagers to give in (I'm sure there are other teens who do not have texting, but there sure are a lot more who do!). I've been reluctant to get texting, especially for Annalisse (Cam doesn't care about it), because it drives me crazy when kids sit around texting instead of actually talking to each other. But, lately I've found a couple of practical reasons for texting, especially since the kids are becoming more independent and sometimes they, or you, need to send a quick message about a change of plans or location that doesn't really need a phone call.

We will continue to monitor this situation closely so the worst aspects of texting do not rear their ugly head(s) in the Baker family. I think it also goes without saying that texting during driving will be absolutely FORBIDDEN (not to mention that it's now illegal in NY state), and if I see it don't even want to know.

(Mary: thanks again for your lack of support during the period that Annalisse DID NOT have texting and for not backing me up when I refused to get it.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stop The Clock!!

It was with much anxiety that I changed my work calendar today when I took down "July" and put up "September." You see, I have one of those cool poster calendars that double as art on my office wall, so I always have two months worth up: the current month and the month that follows. Since July is pretty much over, September went up, and that's when the trouble started.

WHERE THE HECK HAS THIS YEAR GONE? Don't even get me started on the fact that we are on the other side of the year and it's a slippery slope right into hanging the tree and wrapping presents. Just ridiculous! In August the days get noticeably shorter (or as Mark continues to remind me: they don't get shorter, they're still 24 hours long), and the lazy days of summer (for whom?) are overshadowed by the structure and routine that characterizes fall.

I think I'm going to be one of those people who has a really hard time with getting older. The years pass in a blink, and before you know it my kids will be touring assisted care facilities trying to find a good place for me that will let me bring my dog along.

On that note, HAPPY AUGUST!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Build the Ark So We Can Go Out For Dinner

My yard is mushroom heaven due to the unrelenting rain we've had all summer. What is up with the rain? I think I heard a statistic that this is the rainiest, coldest summer since sometime in the 1860's (which is probably when they started keeping records). I would take pictures of the mammoth and plentiful spore-bearing fungi but my camera has pooped out and I'm waiting to get a new one.

The kids are back at camp for another week (it's Cam's first actual work of week), and that means another week of eating out. If you sense the lack of excitement, as indicated by the fact that I did not capitalize those words or use an exclamation point, you're onto something. My waistline is still recovering from our last week of eating out, and all the weeks in between. So, I think it will be the "Week of Eating Out - lite." I'll keep you posted on our selection of culinary delights this week.

On a house note: Mom (so glad she's home!) came over for dinner on Friday night and stayed until 11pm (way past my bedtime!) hanging pictures and helping us with furniture arrangement. The house finally looks like someone lives in it again! Curtains are up, pictures are hung, and all is really cozy. Next up: when our rug arrives from Turkey, we'll travel to DC to pick it up and then go shopping for new furniture! (Again, once I get my new camera I'll post new looks awesome!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's All Over But The Oinking

On Friday I had a pig roast for the good folks at my work. I've been wanting to have a party on our back patio for while now, and a pig roast seemed like a great excuse.

The pig-man, Dave, rolled up around 9am hauling his giant cooker and laid the poor guy out on a table to prepare him for the spickett. Then, after hours of turning and checking, he shrunk to half his size but still yielded a ton of meat.

I resisted the urge to give Jasper the less-desirable swine parts (ears, hooves) because, while I know he would have ENJOYED THEM IMMENSELY, I didn't want to clean up the result during our walks for the next two days.

Was it worth it? The meat was "okay." I expected it to be as tender as pulled pork and I think it was just a little undercooked because it was on the tough side. But, now I can cross "pig roast" off the list of things I want to do at the house (I've been to many, but never had one).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week of Eating Out

If you've followed the Baker Blog for any amount of time you will know that we LOVE to eat out. But, during a couple of very special weeks each summer, our gastronomical foodfest goes to new heights when the kids are a way at camp. We use these kid-less days (nights) to try restaurants we've heard or talked about over the year, and use it as a chance to revisit some old favorites that the kids don't like. Well, we pick the kids up tomorrow, so here's a round up on this year's selections:

Sunday: We went out to dinner with Grandma Pat to Flaherty's, always good!

Monday: The Tap & Mallet, Gregory Street: we had heard about this pub from several friends so decided to give it a try. Mark was pleased (and a little overwhelmed) by the five pages of micro-brew selections, and the food was pretty good. It featured the usual pub-type food but also had some other really interesting stuff that is worth another trip back.

Tuesday: Le Lemon Grass: our old Vietnamese favorite, we brought friend Gillian along this time and now have another convert.

Wednesday: We got tickets to a concert at the RPO, so we just stopped at our neighborhood restaurant, McArdles, on the way home. It never disappoints.

Thursday...not sure yet. I have to work late and prepare for our pig roast tomorrow. Stay tuned for pictures of that poor (yummy, succulent) guy on the grill with a big apple in his mouth!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All Things Turkish

This weekend was sure focused on Turkey! Again, the country, not the meat. We picked up our Turkish student, Semih Torkay, on Friday night for a weekend of drinking and debauchery - JUST KIDDING (I'm not even sure we are capable of a weekend of drinking and debauchery)! As usual, we had a lot of eating and activities planned for Saturday and part of Sunday, during which we introduced Semih to such American delicacies as the spaghetti gelato we are addicted to, my sauce-n-balls dinner, and the giant chocolate chip cookie dessert with ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. Light fare, it was not!!

Semih was very interested in being immersed in American life for the short duration of his homestay. He was especially excited about a trip he and Mark took to Darien Lake to ride some of the monster roller coasters (definitely the highlight of his weekend!). Despite flashing lightning and driving rain, they were able to get on all the coasters before heading home. On Sunday morning, Semih taught me how to make Turkish coffee and left the coffee pot and some grounds behind so I can treat Jeanne when she gets home. Semih is such a delightful young man: well travelled, polite, and very bright!

Rounding out the Turkey weekend is the mounting excitement of Mom's return; she is scheduled to fly into Dulles this evening (Sunday) by 8pm. Then she'll head to a friend's house where she'll stay for a week taking care of Jackson while Dave and Mandy fly to the West Coast for a friend's wedding. The following Tuesday, Mom will arrive back in Rochester! We're very excited for her return!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Life Before .Com

My neighbors Ann Rasbeck, Donna Edgerton, and Elaine Boyd, the "famous" authors of Seven Women, Seven Lives, have just released their encore book, Life Before .Com, an engaging collection of memoirs about their lives. These ladies are so amazing! Soon they'll be embarking on their city-wide book tour and I'll publish those dates once they're available.

Remember: the more books they sell the quicker we get that Fourth Avenue swimming pool!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Bug in the Hand is Worth One in the Ear?

Last night around 11:30pm Cameron woke me up complaining that his ear hurt. I was not that surprised since he and his sister had had a mud fight earlier in the day, and that ear was caked with mud, inside and out. He was experiencing pain and a "bubbling" sound, so I got some water and rinsed his ear out a couple of times, hoping that would help. He waited 15 minutes longer and said it still hurt...I told him we'd need to hang on until morning since we couldn't really go to the doctor at midnight for what was probably not a major emergency.

A couple of minutes later he got me up again saying he thought the mud was coming out, could I get the tweezers? Well, we headed back to the bathroom and rinsed it again, and out came a creepy black bug! YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK!! His relief was immediate and we all went back to bed. Double YUCK!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oh, Canada!

For the last couple of months, the bridge between my hometown of Massena and my mother's hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, has been blocked by Akwesasne Mohawks, the tribe which governs Cornwall Island, the half way stopping point between Massena and Cornwall. In a nutshell, here's what the dispute is about:

The Seaway International Bridge, which connects Cornwall to Massena via two spans, has been closed for a month to people traveling from the United States to Canada, because of a dispute between the Mohawks and the Canada Border Services Agency about a plan to arm border guards.

This might seem like a "blip" on the radar screen of world affairs, but it sure affects the people and business in my hometown, and my family in particular. For many business in Massena, already struggling to stay afloat amid the closing of the GM plant, layoffs at Alcoa, a half-empty mall and a main street of empty storefronts, a drop off in customers from seems almost unthinkable. Right now, if Cornwall residents want to visit Massena they have to go 45 minutes to cross at Ogdensburg, NY, and 45 minutes to get back home. There are many folks who work on both sides of the border who now have real issues with getting to work.

Beyond the obvious blows to the economy, is the fact that my mother (or any of us) can't get quickly over the border to visit relatives, and visa versa. A quick trip that we have taken for granted all our lives now takes thought and planning, and becomes an all day affair.

There have even been rumors of the Seaway International Bridge closing altogether, which would surely sound the death knell for several businesses in Massena, not to mention the hit the Mall would take. It's just beyond belief that I will not have quick access to my relatives in Cornwall when I come up for a visit.

Let's hope the U.S. government steps in "soon" to resolve this issue, recognizing the effect it has had on the economy of an already depressed town.

(As a follow up to this post, my mother and sister tried to cross at one of the nearby borders during which it was discovered my mother's visa expired five years ago! At the Massena-Cornwall border, the guards knew her and never looked very closely!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Sad Day for Pop Culture

Wow! June 25 was a very sad day for pop icons Farrah Fawcett, whose death was expected, and Micheal Jackson, whose sudden, shocking death was not. As a child of the '70s, both stars shaped my childhood and to this day I cannot sit still when a Jackson 5 song comes on. I travelled along the road with Michael on his journey until "Thriller" came out, then I had to get off the bus as his life and looks became more bizarre. Both characters were undoubtedly quite strange, but they will leave a gaping hole in many lives, nonetheless. RIP Michael and Farrah.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here comes summer! Bring it on!

It's been a while since I've been able to update the blog! A combination of general busy-ness and the fact that the kids are now out of school and monopolizing the laptop makes for a quick-n-dirty (less fat, more filling) blog entry! Here are some quick updates with the promise of a meatier, more thoughtful blog in the next couple of days:

  • We had our street sale and only made enough ($32) for an Applebee's-level dinner out, which we promptly spent on bird food. At least the birds enjoyed a nice dinner out! We sold the crockpot we had gotten for a wedding present (it still works!) for $3 - that was one of the bigger-ticket items. Mark's friend, Scott, did really well with his fishing equipment, though. We closed the sale at noon on Sunday because of soaking, torrential rain.
  • The kids are finally done with school, including finals. Let the boredom begin!
  • On Sunday, Cam leaves for camp where he'll be in a week of training. Then he's home for a week, then gone for three and home on weekends. It seems a little like last summer between the time he spent at camp and his three weeks in Europe.
  • Annalisse will be going to camp for one week and rowing camp for another. Other than that, she doesn't have much planned. Have any little kids that need sitting?
  • I struggle each night to not go get one of those gelato spaghetti and meatball desserts. Give me strength!
  • I'm off for a couple of days during which we'll be spending the day at Seabreeze (Wednesday) and biking to Pittsford (six miles each way) to go to the Coal Tower for lunch (Friday).

Now you're up-to-date with the Bakers! How about taking the dog for a walk so I can take a nap on the couch?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bring Out Your Junk!

The yearly ritual of collecting our "treasures" has begun as I prepare for the this weekend's Fourth Avenue Street Sale (Friday and Saturday). There are the piles in the cellar and garage left over from last year, then there's this year's pile of things collected over the past year that resulted from further weeding of the kids' stuff and other attic clutter (their motivation is that they get to keep the $$ for whatever they sell). Mark's friend, Scott, will once again be bringing over his fishing samples (rods, reels, tackle, other equipment), so we hope to attract a crowd that way as well. Our goal every year is just to make enough cold, hard cash to go out for dinner (which is not as easy as it sounds when everything is marked from 25 cents to $1). Anything beyond that is gravy!

The only unknown: the weather. At this point it looks like rain for both day, as I compulsively check my iPhone weather app for updates. Pray for sunshine!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Finally!

Four weeks from today Mom flies back to the states from her year in Turkey. Hurray! We're looking very forward to her return to Rochester, which will happen after she spends a week in DC looking after Jackson while Dave and Amanda attend a wedding on the west coast. We have so much to catch up on (and so many restaurants to visit)!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Royal Dessert

YOU MUST go to the Royal Cafe in Fairport for their gelato "spaghetti & meatballs" treat! Made from homemade vanilla gelato (the spaghetti), topped with a strawberry puree (the sauce) and shredded white chocolate "cheese," it comes with a side of brownie "meatballs." Annalisse gobbled this full course dessert right down. Give it a try! It's just one more reason to love Fairport!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Jam Packed Weekend

Could we possibly fit more stuff into this weekend? Is it possible to alter the Earth's rotation to add a couple more hours in each day? On Friday night, it all started with sending Annalisse off for her 8th Grade Finale and heading to the Village for the bands and food that kicked off this summer's Canal Days Festival. As for Cameron, he was long gone, off with Bonnie and her friends.

We rose early on Saturday morning to get the kids organized and fed before they headed to the boathouse for an exhibition row through the Village. What fun that was! Then we were back and forth and back and forth between the festival for most of the day. When it came time for our usual evening walk with Jasper, Mark had just about had it and and cut our walk short, heading for home while Annalisse and I walked over to Bonnie's so Jasper could play and run like crazy with his pal, puppy Duke.

So here we are on Sunday morning, and by 10am we have already gone for a coffee walk and taken Cam to Camp Bristol, where he'll be working the Open House for new campers from 10-3pm (remember his Dream Job?).

I'd better cut this blog entry short because Mark is calling to "get going" back for a another round in the Village!