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Showing posts from 2010

An end to washing dishes like a pioneer

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Little things mean a lot. Especially, when it comes to my new dishwasher.

Some background: Our dishwasher gasped its last breath back in April. At the time, we didn't want to run out and get one (financially), and, I reasoned: I washed dishes by hand for nine years when we lived in our first house, and there were even two babies involved, so I should be able to wash dishes without a dishwasher for a little while, at least. Besides, I really don't mind doing dishes and actually find it a little relaxing; queuing up my fave tunes and settling in for a little scrubbing.
Except that, for whatever reason, my tap water doesn't get hot enough to really get the dishes clean and every time I wash dishes I have to boil a kettle of water. REAL OLD, REAL SOON. Why not then, you ask, get a dishwasher sooner? Well, the reason is probably one that many will think is odd...
My laptop died right around the same time as my dishwasher. It came down to deciding what I wanted more: a new laptop…

Happy Birthday to my OLD LADY!

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Happy 80th Birthday today to my mother, Aline! I hope she finds glorious wealth from the $20 in scratch-offs that I sent her in the mail. Have fun today, Mom!!

'Twas the day after Christmas...

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...and of course I'm up by 6am doing laundry and other chores.
It as a great couple of days, punctuated by lots of family and fun surprises. Regular readers of The Fabulous B@ker Blog will know that sometimes Christmas really send me over the edge, but that's mostly just the "lead up"; the crazy store decorations and sales, the holiday music in November, the emphasis on spending. But when all is said and done, it's great to see the extended family and, if I've done my job well, paying attention throughout the year, the gift giving is very rewarding.
This year followed the same comforting format of all the years that came before: Christmas Eve service, the Christmas Eve party at Uncle Pete's and Aunt Mary's (who is thankfully doing really well after her tough fall battling lung cancer), then the "silent night, holy night" prep for the big morning.
On Christmas morning I got up early and fed pup, took him out, turned on the lights and waited. An…

I Deserve a Break Today

Rarely have I ever looked more forward to a break than I am to my vacation that starts at around 2pm tomorrow! While I'm sure I felt exactly the same way last year at this time, forgetfulness is a kind mistress since I jumped back on the horse and rode at a quick pace for the last year.
Long live sanity restoring vacations!
(Hey wait! What if it turns out to be a stressful, contentious vacation with two bored teenagers? Still TOTALLY WORTH IT!)

Cam's Big News!

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How can it be that it's December 20 and I have neglected to announce to the world via The Fabulous B@ker Blog that Cam was accepted to RIT on December 8?!
Wow, that one definitely slipped by without the attention it deserved!

CONGRATS, CAM, ON MAKING YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE!

Now, if how to pay for it...?...

Cookie Overload (Not a bad thing)

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Last night we hosted the Seventh Annual Fourth Ave Cookie Exchange, which, of course, included a lot more than cookies. Wine, 12 different kinds of micro-brews, my famous ('round these parts) homemade eggnog, some simple appetizers, and, of course, the stars of the night: the cookies. I love the way our house looks at Christmastime, with the soft glow of the tree, the mantle lights, and the candles. That's probably why I have such a hard time taking the lights off the mantle until mid-February.
It was great seeing all our neighbors as we don't see them quite so often with the snowy, cold weather (not to mention it gets dark so early these days), and it's so much fun to see all the kids from year-to-year - they are growing up so fast.
Enjoy some pictures from our night:
Couch Potatoes
Annalisse and Smiley Riley
Guests
More guests
The Cookie Load
The Nog
Noshing!
Geoff and Chris
Unfortunately, we are "stuck" with the leftover cookies. Oh well, might as well make the best …

Vacation Countdown

While I know we should not dismiss our moments as we wait for others to arrive, I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL CHRISTMAS VACATION. One more week until I'm off for 10 days, and I really feel like I need the downtime. It's been a crazy, stressful fall and I just want to chill out at home and work on some once-a-year projects like:Clean out the cellar and arrange all the garage sale stuff (dreaming of June - there I go not living in the moment again...)File two years worth of kids "to keep" stuff in their memory bins in the atticPut approx. 700 pictures into photo albums (this idea deserve a blog entry all its own)Take down the wallpaper in Mark's cave to get it ready for painting in FebruaryRelocate all the games in the cupboards to make room for the 30 photo albums Of course, beyond the projects, on the vacation list are (these mostly go without saying): Sleep lateWalk with pup to get coffee every morningTake napsGet up to see Mary for quick overnight if the weather allowsDon&…

Fly In

There is a right way and a wrong way to spend time in Chicago.
The Right Way: fly in, check into a great hotel downtown, walk around, do some shopping, eat at some great restaurants, see the sights.
The Wrong Way: fly in, check into the hotel connected to the airport, spend two days in meeting room, and experience mounting anxiety about your ability to get out of that snowy hell before the blizzard hits.
I spent this weekend seeing Chicago "the wrong way." Luckily I was able to catch an early flight out before Mother Nature wrecked havoc on the Chicago area. But, it wasn't as bad as it sounds...I got to spend time with some great colleagues, met some new folks and got back to Rochester in time for dinner on Saturday night. Whew!

Saying Goodbye to Ma Bell

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I lost a very important person today: Barb Bell, my best friend Sue's mom who was like a second mother to me. She had been in declining health for several months, and today she passed away peacefully at Sue and Ken's home in Roanoke. She's now at peace, joining her beloved husband, Jack, who passed away 30 years ago.
I am heartbroken, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I often tell people I got my sense of humor from the Bells (and their cousin San) as they were always such fun people, never taking themselves too seriously and finding fun whereever they went. Charades, a colander on your head at the New Year's party, enjoying that "generous" glass of wine, and our favorite British comedies. For God's sake, would I even know Benny Hill existed if not for the Bells?
The Bell family, and especially Ma, always welcomed me with open arms as if I were one of their own. Growing up I spent so many nights there I had my own toothbrush. They knew if I was goi…

Our Crooked, Full/Flat, Holey Tree

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I should have know when we found it so quickly. But it looked so "perfect" in the field, and had those nice, soft needles. I continue to think it's a really cute tree, a little on the small side, full on one side, flat on the other, and a big gap at the top. Annalisse needed a little more convincing, calling it ugly and small.
Just like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, it seemed to come to life once I got the lights and decorations on it. For the barren spot near the top, I hung a beautiful glass ornament, which looked great with a light right behind it.
After it was decorated, I stood back and exclaimed, "It's the most beautiful tree we've ever had!" - just like every other year!

Have Yourself a Melancholy Christmas

As we enter the season of Advent, and the world "waits" for the happy promise of Christmas, I am reminded how hard this season can be, and will be, for several folks I care very much about. Please keep in your thoughts and prayers our friends and family who are facing devastating loss and health challenges this year:My cousins Lisa, Frank, Joey and their families on the loss of Uncle Joe, and especially Auntie, who has suffered the devastating loss of her husband, her big brother, and now her little brotherBarb "Ma" Bell, a woman who is a second mother to me, during her battle with cancerSue and Ken, and when they can help out, Lisa, and San, who are so willingly and lovingly making Ma Bell so comfortable during her decline in healthMy coworker, Jo, as she faces yet another surgery after which has been a discouraging and scary year with her health issuesTaylor in the loss of her mom, and Hannah in the loss of her dadOur cousin Sue and her family in the loss of Joh…

R.I.P. Uncle Joe

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During the early hours of this morning, my Uncle Joe passed away peacefully. Uncle Joe had been in declining health recently, and the years leading up to this one had not been easy ones for his health either. The news of late had not been good, and we all held our breath, waiting for the day we would get the call.

Joe Greco was my father's youngest sibling, with my father being the oldest and my Aunt Carol (Auntie) the "rose between two thorns." He always had such a twinkle in his eye, and a smile on his face. He was a devoted father and brother, and gave service to the Massena Police Department and the Volunteer Fire Department for many years. Our family was always very close, and his brother and sister were his best friends. For all of us, we feel a piece of us has died with Uncle Joe.

Although Uncle Joe will never pull another penny from my ear, I will cherish my memories of him for the rest of my days. Rest in peace, Uncle Joe, and I hope you are having a wonderful tim…

Bear

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Last night I randomly started calling Jasper "'Bear." I don't know why. Maybe I just needed to shake things up a little. Or maybe it's because when he lays on the floor he stretches and flattens out like a bearskin rug. Perhaps it's his manly fluffiness.

Anyway, it's not catching on and he just looks confused.

The Yearly Christmas Card Picture Challenge=VICTORY!

I'm happy to report that I have already ordered, received, stuff, sealed and addressed our Christmas cards for this year. It's not as ambitious as it sounds. Let me explain...

Around the beginning of November each year I start to fret about taking the ever-elusive Christmas pictures of the kids (and, for the last several years, the dog) for our yearly missive, and it's never easy. Well, I should say, it's easy with two of the subjects (Annalisse and Jasper) and not easy or pleasant with Cameron. He spends endless shots ruining the pictures with weird faces and far away glances. Last year, think we took upwards of 50 pictures to get the one we finally used, and that was only achieved after several threats. Every year I tell him, "Cam, I've done a picture Christmas card since the year you were born, and XXXX WON'T be the year without a Baker family card!" Can you imagine this exercise without digital photography?!

This year, I decided to simply scan thre…

My Father's NYC

I took another quick trip to the Big Apple this week (well, technically, Long Island, but close), and whenever I get any where near NYC I am immediately transported back to my childhood memories of New York - a place I had not even visited until last year. This is the New York as seen through the eyes of my father, who had a great affinity for the city but rarely visited. I grew up reading the Daily News every day, which was later joined by the NY Post, and my father constantly watched the station that broadcast NYC commercials and, most likely, the Yankee games. Come to think of it, that's mainly what he listened to on the radio, also.

I think the reason I love the musical Evita, starring Patti LuPone, is because of the commercial for the Broadway play, which also starred Mandy Patinkn, and ran in the late 70s/early 80s. It's a classic, with Patti LuPone singing "Just a little touch of, just a little touch of, just a little touch of star quality!" Another classic com…

Far Away February

Is it too late to start thinking about going someplace warm for February break? Of course, I can't afford that, but I sure feel like I need it. I knew I was a goner when I received the AAA magazine in the mail and it featured an amazing picture of the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico on the cover. I was immediately drawn to it, and went online to see how much it would cost. Needless to say, that dream was dashed fairly quickly. I have a quick weekend trip to Ft. Lauderdale to look forward to in January (courtesy of my professional association) and Las Vegas again in July. But, I was envisioning something a little more restful, maybe a girl's weekend with my sister(s) and Annalisse (and my niece if she could make it) as Mark is not as keen on winter getaways as as I am.

(HINT HINT, sisters.)

With these short, dark days, I know I'll need something to get through the winter, like sunshine and sand and surf. Stay tuned...

Turn the Page (Orr)

The five-days-a-week practices are done. We can eat dinner at a leisurely pace again. The kids can sleep in on (most) Saturdays. We escaped without freezing rain and snowing...although the last few regattas hovered around a chilly 45 degrees. In other words:

THE FALL SEASON OF CREW IS DONE!

Hurray! At last! The kids have been at it since the last week in August, day in and day out, rain or shine (or darkness). Needless to say, everyone is relieved and looking forward to the break.

At today's last fall season regatta, Pittsford's "Pull the Plug," each of the kids won a silver medal, and Cam was just four seconds away from winning two. That was a nice finish for him since he hadn't taken home a medal all season. It was a nice way to end this VERY LONG SEASON.

Things will start up again at the end of February with winter training, which will take us through the official start to the spring season in early April. At this point, Annalisse is not planning to participate i…

From Sea to Shining Sea

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What? Why are you looking at me that way? You had to know it would be a while between blog posts since I explained in my last post that I was going to be traveling...besides, you actually have to be home to write a blog (unless you take your computer with you, which I didn't). I am not being defensive!
So, I'm back at it after a whirlwind week-and-a-half of travel. From Chicago and back, to Portland and back, with an overnight in Saratoga Springs thrown in there there for good measure. Boy, am I sick of packing and unpacking. I don't know how truly frequent travelers do it. One of my colleagues and good friend, Josh, recruits for SU's MBA program, and he's gone probably more than 75% of the time, on the road at recruitment fairs and college and visits and such. It's really hard on him, but to his credit he's only 30 and doesn't have any kids. He probably has a little more stamina than I do. Anyway...
In spite of the travel fatigue, both trips were great.…

Almost YOU KNOW WHAT

It is with much reluctance that I realized that Christmas is just about two months away. I spend most of my year trying to slow time down so it's not that time again: the decorations, the $$, the stress...ack!
I probably thought of that tonight because these last two weeks of October will be extraordinarily busy for me, passing in a blur, I'm sure. This week I've been on the road a lot for day trips to area colleges for work, and this weekend I'm heading to Chicago for my national association's meeting. Then, it's back to work for two days before heading back across the country to Portland, Oregon for a grad fair reception for my association. That's one day out, one in between, and one day back - a long trip through three time zones for just a day in Portland. Although, I am looking forward to my first trip there. Mark's cousin, Kara, has lived there for years so she'll be showing me the sights before I have to check into my fair/reception.
Just thin…

Another Step on the Road to College

Today Cam submitted his application to RIT for early decision (deadline: December 1). If accepted, "early decision" means he will withdraw apps to all other colleges and commit to going to RIT. That should not be a problem since
HE'S NOT APPLYING TO ANY OTHER COLLEGES.
Yup. That's right. This an all-or-nothing proposition, which makes me extremely nervous because he's a B+ student and didn't fare so well on his first round of SATs (he retook them a couple of weeks ago and we don't have the results back yet, but I'm not too optimistic that he "hit it out of the ballpark" based on his previous interest and engagement with the SAT). So, now we wait - and keep our fingers crossed. His major of interest is Bioinfomatics, which I think he chose because it's a combination of biology and computer science, two of his favorite subjects. But, lest we give up all hope that it's RIT or a life spent working in retail, he has hinted that he will cons…

It's Hip to Be Square

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Happy (GUESS THE NUMBER) Birthday to my "old" man, Mark today. Remember when I was a "prime" number this year? Well, Mark's a square root. Let's just say next year's birthday will probably result in a big part of some kind!!

Sweet Amelie!

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This past weekend we travelled down to Arlington, VA for Amelie's baptism. How sweet and smiley she is! Annalisse and Mema/Popo served as Amelie's sponsors, so it was really special. It was a fairly quick trip as we didn't get on the road until around 1pm on Saturday, after Cam took his final SAT (he's taken it twice, now, this is it - make or break time), and finally got settled in our hotel around 10pm. Who knew therewere three Hampton Inns in Alexandria?! We found ours on the third try - and it was a little tense by then as Mark was getting really cranky over the whole situation. Anyway, we got settled, got a good night's sleep, and headed out early to drive to McLean/Herndon for the baptism, which was performed at our old Pastor's new church.
After the baptism, we made our way back up route 7 for a little lunch at Dave and Mandy's, then took a trip to a German market on the Columbia Pike. Cam is on a mission to try to find Spezi, a soda from Germany that…

Fünfzehn!

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Today Annalisse celebrates her 15th birthday. Where did the time go? I'm already sad thinking that two years from now I'll have a sophomore in college and a senior in high school. The cruel, cruel trick of time.
I'm sure she'll make the best of it at school today, and we'll probably go out for a quick bite after work and before crew. She had her "big" celebration out for dinner with her girlfriends at the Bonefish Grill on Sunday night, which was followed by a family cake-n-ice cream celebration at the house.
In true Libra fashion, she's making the most of her special day!

One of the Great Mysteries of Our Time

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There is a mystery that continues to confound me well into my '40s: Orphan Sock Syndrome.
I have a pile of socks on my dresser that for months (years?) has not had a mate. Where the heck do they go? Is there a moment in time when a (non-laundry-doing) member of the family finally discards a hole-y sock, but does not notify me or its mate, sending the left or right footed sock into wearer limbo? Or, worse yet, is there a pair of socks rolled together in one of our drawers whose mate(s) have been left to search for it's match atop my dresser for all eternity? That seems a little clandestine on the part of the happily-matched-other-orphan socks.
Every week the orphan socks come together with the mated socks in the wild, wonderful "basket of clean whites," and every week they end up in their pile back on my dresser. Oh, every once in a while there will be a long awaited match, but more often than not the old standbys are welcoming new members to their lonely club.
This bo…

Let's Get This Party Started!

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Welcome to the sign of Libra!! Today marks our month long celebration. Libras, arise!! To usher in our special time, there was an amazing harvest moon in the sky this morning. Now, if I could only figure out a way to celebrate my birthday without actually getting older...

One Wild Week

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Last spring, Mark and I attended a German trip fundraiser that Cam was involved in. One of the Fairport High School acts that performed that night was the high school comedy improv troupe, Downstage. The kids were just hilarious and very entertaining , and at the time I thought, "Wow, Annalisse would really love this!" So, when auditions for Downstate were taking place this week, she hemmed and hawed and tried to decide if she wanted to try out. Of course, everyone she asked said she should because of her quick wit and funny sense of humor.
The Downstage troupe is composed of 10 kids, and this year there were three slots available. On Monday, she and many kids went through the first round of auditions, and afterwards she was so excited about the prospect of joining the group. On the second day of auditions, although she wasn't required to, she auditioned again so she could, in her words, "make sure she got noticed." Then, Tuesday night, we waited and checked th…

Many Updates, Little Time

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Boy, that was a long stretch since my last post! The blog drought was not for lack of news, but for lack of time. There's been a lot going on in preparation for the kids' return to school. Just between you and me (and all the Internet universe), I think I'm one of the only people who, in a way, dreads the start of school because of the busyness, rushing and academic pressure involved.
On Wednesday, September 8, at 5:30am, we were off an running. After a summer of staying up late (and getting up really late), the kids were surely suffering by Thursday afternoon when they both fell asleep after school. When I got home from work on Friday it was the same scenario, and out of pity I let them sleep until 5:30pm. Let's hope they start to re-balance the sleep/school time as we enter the second week.
Before the "magic" day, though, there was school supply shopping and our neighbor's annual backyard movie night featuring old reels from the 30's, 40's and 5…

Ready! Set! Go! - Senior Year

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I took the last week off to spend some time doing college related stuff with Cam, and relaxing it wasn't. Cam is finally home from his world travels and camp counselor job (eight weeks away with just about 10 days at home that whole time), so we really needed to get down to business and do some activities related to getting him ready for his senior year. First off, we took a trip to visit the University of Buffalo on Tuesday, and, while a nice campus (HUGE!) he was not swayed from his first choice, RIT.

We spent of a lot of Tuesday rushing from Fairport to Buffalo and back again to be back in time for his senior picture photo shoot. Despite much kicking and screaming (figuratively...), he turned out to be a very cooperative subject and the results were amazing! The formal picture was nice enough, but the black and white casual shots blew us away. We were very pleased and have an appointment tomorrow to finalize our order (side note: very very expensive - they obviously pull you in …

Mulch Madness!

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As often happens, this year we recognized that we would like to mulch the beds around the house, which is fine, but FOR GOD'S SAKE IT'S ALMOST SEPTEMBER. Anyway, we recently had two yards of mulch delivered, and once that happens Mark is obsessed with getting the beds cleaned out and the mulch spread. He takes great pride in his home, inside and out, and it shows with our beautiful gardens. While I do help, he really gets the most credit, and it feels really good to both of us at the end of the day to have a well kept lawn and surrounding plant beds. That being said, two yards was not enough for the all the areas and another two yards are being delivered tomorrow. Sigh.
For a couple of years I've wanted to remedy are really problematic section of our yard, which is a Y shaped pathway leading from the side yard to the patio. My suggestion was to replace the flat stones that serve as walkway (which are constantly surrounded by weeds that grow faster than I can pull them) with…

The Biggest Camping Cliche There Is

Cam came home from his summer camp gig for a 20 hour visit on Friday night before heading back yesterday at 4pm, and brought with him some interesting looking markings on his face. At first I thought he had a series of bug bites that were swelling up, but yesterday morning, on closer inspection, I thought a trip to the doctor was in order.
It's a good thing we went because he had a fresh case of poison ivy all over his cheek and both sides of his chin. It was amazing to me that after probably seven years of summers at Camp Bristol, first as a camper and later as an employee, neither he (or Annalisse) has never had poison ivy. I suppose we're due. He's now on an eight day intensive course of Prednisone (steroid) to help clear it up. I know when he went back yesterday he was really itchy, so I'm hoping the medication works quickly so he can fully enjoy his last week (washing dishes mostly - he's working for at a music camp that is renting the facilities from Saturday…

Too Good Not to Share

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I was looking through some old pictures and I came across this one, which was taken on our first trip to Florida (St. Pete Beach/Tampa), which we took with Sue. What year? Hmmm....it was probably around 2002, which would mean that Annalisse was six (about to turn seven) and Cam was nine. There are a couple of pictures in my collection that really stand out for me, and this is one of them. What fun we had with Sue!!

Comfort in the Routine

Isn't it funny how, in the weeks leading up to a vacation or a break, you can't wait to have a change of routine, pace and scenery, then by the time you get home you are looking forward to getting back into the routine? We humans, always wanting the opposite of what we have!

That's what it feels like for me right now. It's been non-stop since the kids got out of school, and Mark and I (mostly "I") have been on the go a lot in the last month. Of course, Cam has been gone (to Germany, then camp) since June 25 (I think we counted that he's been home for maybe 10 days in the last month-and-a-half), and Annalisse has been enjoying our family vacations, time traveling with her friend, Mo, and a week at camp herself. No wonder the years seem to fly by!!

This morning for the first time in what seems like months we're heading to the Fairport farmer's market to stock up on fruits and vegetables, and will also make a stop at the meat market to fill the freezer…

Dreaming of the Days of Puppy Dog Tails, Cotton Candy and Rainbows

This has been another not-great-news week, just like last week's (and month's) non-great-news week as Annalisse's good friend's (Taylor's) mom passed away suddenly last Wednesday. We are all very upset for Taylor and her sister and two brothers. To lose a parent anytime is devastating, but to lose your mom suddenly in your teen years will be a very difficult thing for them to overcome, if they ever do. Very, very sad.

I thought as the calendar turned to August 1 I would have a respite from the doom and gloom, and get some good news, but my August 1 included a speeding ticket on my way home from a whirlwind trip to Massena. I earned this special token I thought I was in a 55 mph zone but apparently I had just recently entered a 55 mph zone (I definitely saw the 55 mph sign, checked my speed, and settled in at 57) after exiting a 45mph zone and was 12 miles over the speed limit. Freakin' Route 12 between Ogdensburg and Morristown!! To be fair, the sheriff was a re…

Raining (Reigning?) Bad News

Today, on the seventh anniversary of my dad's death, I am reminded that the last couple of weeks have had a dearth of bad news. From the shocking death of a Fairport grad (who many of our friends/families knew), to the news that Mark's Aunt Mary was diagnosed with lung cancer (luckily, it has not spread and she will sacrifice a lung, which is the "best case" scenario), to the untimely and sudden death of Mark's cousin, John, there just doesn't seem to much good news.
I remain concerned about my dear second mother, Barb Bell, who's battling lung cancer, and we are also bummed by the imminent move of Mark's mom to the DC area. Always in the picture is my mother in the nursing home, and how it might not be the greatest situation but is probably the smartest choice we could have made based on her condition, what's available in the North Country for elder care, and in consideration of her inability to live independently.
Illness, death, loss, the fabri…

Welcome, Amelie!

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On Thursday we welcomed our new baby niece/cousin, Amelie Feng Li Shiao, born around 9:30pm and weighing in at 8lb, 5 oz. She's just beautiful and we can't wait to meet her. Congrats Amanda, Dave and Jackson on the new addition to your family!

Home Sweet Home

We've all returned from our major summer vacation odysseys (well, all accept Annalisse, but more on that in a minute) to Maine, Las Vegas and Germany (pictures soon). For the pleasure of the Fabulous B@ker Blog readers, we'll relive them one trip at a time.

Maine

We dropped Jasper off at the Petsmart Dog Hotel and headed north for approx. 8 hours to Portland Maine on Thursday, July 1. In Portland, we stayed at the Inn at Spring Park, a beautiful historic row house right in the heart of the "Old Port." The location was great, within walking distance to really neat shops and restaurants on Maine's Casco Bay. Our goal was to eat seafood for every meal (except breakfast, of course, where we were treated to decadent meals at the inn), and we mostly accomplished that except for a meal or two.

My general impression of Portland, which is the largest city in Maine, was that it was a lot like Saratoga Springs, and not at all like I pictured Maine. We saw the "real" …

The Road Runners

A quick post to hold you over for exciting entries to come, like:All the news from our trip to Maine, complete with beautiful picturesA diary of our adventures in Las Vegas, for which Annalisse, Mary and I leave today (Happy Birthday, Dad! We miss you and are heading to LV in your honor today!)Cam's arrival home from Germany next WednesdayOur crazy travel summer in general If we could stay in one place long enough, I might be able to update the blog. Obviously, the next entry will be a long one and worth checking back!

An Exaltation of Larks

Once, during my undergraduate study when I was an English major working on my bachelor's degree, one of my professors introduced the concept of collective nouns for animals through James Lipton's book, An Exaltation of Larks. It's something that has stuck with me ever since.

A collective noun is the term used to describe a "group" of something. There are the common ones that we hear all the time like "a herd of cattle" or "a flock of geese," but there are some collective terms that are downright beautiful, and others that are just plain weird. Some examples you might not have heard of - including the title of this post- are:
Shrewdness of apesChain of boblolinks (what the heck is a bobolink?!)Wake of buzzards (seems fittingKindle of kittensScold of jays (is that why they seem like they're always yelling at each other?Smack of jellyfishLeep of leopardsWatch of nightingalesBevy of otterBouquet of pheasants (sounds lovely!)Passel of possumStory…

Full Circle

Right now my sisters and I are experiencing one of the great ironies of life: when the child becomes the caretaker of the elderly parent. With my mother in her present condition and residing at the Highland Nursing Home in Massena, a situation I experienced last weekend particularly drove this point home.
Last Saturday, I was able to take my mother out to the mall for the first time since she had fallen and broken her hip the night before Mother's Day. She was absolutely thrilled to be there to see all her "friends," and the ones she ran into were equally happy to see her looking so healthy and well. If I haven't mentioned it before, for a long time now, but particularly in the seven years since my father's death, my mother has compulsively bought cheap stuff (some [like me] would call it "junk") with every trip to the mall. Over the years, this stuff has piled up on every surface in the house, and made for a very cluttered and dangerous living situation…

The Long-Awaited-Much-Anticipated Freshman Dance

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Last weekend Annalisse went to the freshman dance with 18 of her closet friends. Unfortunately, she did not have a date with an actual boy, but that's really a blessing in disguise because, as much as she likes to "talk the talk," she's not ready to "walk the walk" and is very hesitant about boys (Whew! I can relax a little longer on that one!). Anyway, between having her braces off and a new hair-do (combined with a new dress, new jewelry, and new shoes), she was all gussied up and off to a friends house by 5:30pm for group pictures. All the girls looked so nice! The best thing was they had a lot of fun at the dance itself - not always the case as sometimes the prep is funner than the actual event. I'm sure talk will now turn to next year's 10th grade dance, during which the kids will kick it up a notch with gowns, tuxedos and limo rentals. As Nonnie used to say, oh mamma mia!

Four Updates in One, All the While Counting My Blessings

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I've been trying to get to updating the blog but the last couple of weeks have been kind of like a runaway train for us. So here are a bunch of unrelated updates all in one!

Baker Blog Updates Lag, But For Good (German) Reasons
With Belinda visiting (which was AWESOME), we were a little out of our routine, doing something to keep busy just about every weeknight while the kids were at crew practice, and running around every weekend, trying to get the most out of her visit with us. It's been a great 2 1/2 weeks with Belinda, who left bright and early (5:30am) on Wednesday morning, as the group headed to Washington DC and New York City for a few days before flying back to Germany tomorrow evening. Maybe the greatest part about Belinda's visit was spending time with the other Fairport families as we got to know each other better. It was a great experience all around, and the best part is Cam leaves to spend time with Belinda and her family three weeks from today.
14 Going on 21
T…

A Farewell to LOST

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Last night Cam and I stayed up until 11:30pm (on a school night!) to watch the long awaited series finale of LOST. We've watched LOST from the beginning, through the twists and turns, crazy story lines, improbable and unbelievable plots, and a couple of seasons of "what the...?", which I'm sure contributed to its cult following, with viewers dropping off along the way because it was just getting too weird. I, for one, is glad I stuck with it, no doubt due to a little peer pressure from co-workers and friends that helped keep me engaged. But, through it all LOST has stayed loyal to one very important element of any story: the depiction of richly drawn characters that the viewer cared about and felt connected to and invested in.

The finale was particularly touching as many of the characters lost along the way (no pun intended) were joined together through fatefully orchestrated meetings. I'm still trying to understand what the finale meant, and I think my understand…

Germany comes to Fairport

Last night, around 11:30pm, our German exchange student, Belinda Fischer (with 20 of her friends) landed in Rochester as part of a Fairport exchange program with a high school near Stuttgardt. Belinda's visit has been highly anticipated by everyone, but especially Annalisse, who's been in constant contact with her through Facebook, and by Cameron, who's also been in touch but not as frequently. Over the next two weeks Belinda will go to school with Cam some of the time, and take various Central and Western NY field trips the other days. She will be with us for the next two weekends, and a lot of the weekend time will be spent at regattas. Luckily, there are five or six crew families hosting German students, so the kids can all hang together.

Here's what we know about Belinda so far:
Her mom is American, and is from Fairfax County, VA. They visit the states every summer for a month (it used to be twice yearly, but these days flying is too expensive). So, she definitely ha…

Coxswain Gold

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You're looking at the coxswain for the Girls Varsity Lightweight 4 boat that won first place (GOLD!) for the NYS club championship this weekend at the Saratoga "States" Regatta. Congrats to Annalisse and her team for a job well done! Very happy girls, indeed!!