Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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 fabric of our lives this July 2010. Beaten down with bad news, that's what we are.

(Of course, always the optimist, I must consider the birth of our niece, Amiele and our new cousin, Paul John [born to Mark's cousin Paula], the fact that our kids are healthy and having a great summer filled with fun activities, and we're both gainfully employed. Stil...)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Welcome, Amelie!

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!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

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.


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" Maine soon enough with a morning visiting lighthouses (some are really hard to find) and white water rafting on the Kenneck River, two-and-a-half hours north of Portland.

One of the highlights of the trip was "said" whitewater rafting trip with my high school chum Dave Fiacco, his girlfriend Kim, her two daughters, Annie and Christina, and their friend, Tom. I've told many people that I'm a huge chicken when it comes to thrill-type activities, and I readily confessed my nervousness to this adventure. BUT, we had so much fun, and none of us really toppled out of the boat (except Tom, and we weren't even in bad rapids when he slipped out). It was so great to see Dave and meet Kim, and was a thrilling experience.

Another highlight of the Maine trip was taking Annalisse to spend the afternoon with her friend from Fairport, whose family owned a cottage in Ocean Park, near Old Orchard Beach. They bought the cottage 20 years ago and have been fixing up ever since, and it's just three blocks from a beautiful sandy beach. They live there for almost two months every summer. What a life!!

We got home on Tuesday, July 6, unpacked our suitcases, repacked and got ready to go to...

Las Vegas

Annalisse, my sister Mary, and I headed out to Las Vegas on Thursday, July 8 for a board meeting for my professional organization, NAGAP (I'm the membership committee chair). I knew I would be tied up from Friday at 4pm until Sunday at noon, so I asked Mary to come along to hang with Annalisse since they both LOVE to do girl stuff (you know, pedis, shopping, that stuff). When we headed out of the airport on Thursday evening to catch the shuttle to the MResort, WHOOMP! we were hit with a wall of heat. It was amazing. So that's what 107 degrees feels like? It's really something!

We made out way to the hotel (which, by the way, was amazing - contemporary and beautiful), and prepared to head out on Friday morning to "get the lay of the land." In honor of my father's birthday the day before, we decided that for every casino we entered in our travels we would play $1 in honor of Dad. Well, you can imagine we were done quite quickly!

We had a really good time going in and out of the different gardens and shops at the casinos. We aren't big gamblers, so I think I lost a total of $25 for the entire time I was there. It was really fun just to see all the extravagance, not to mention all the incredibly tempting food and treats. If I see one more pastry shop... (I may just cave in and eat it all!)

While there, we had a chance to visit with our cousins Nancy and Patsy (Spadafore). Patsy has lived in Henderson, NV for almost 20 years, and for Nancy, it's probably been not quite that long.

On our last day, we ventured back down to the strip in the morning, but came back to the hotel early enough to spend a couple of hours lounging by the pool. It was heavenly!!

And through all our travels, Cam was having the time of his life in...


We got home on Tuesday, and Cam flew in on Wednesday evening.

Cam visited Southern Germany for approximately three weeks from June 25 until July 14 through the Fairport High School German Exchange program. For the first two weeks of his trip, he stayed at the home of Belinda Fischer, the young lady who stayed with us in May. Then, after leaving the host families the 22 Fairport kids traveled to several castles in the area, visited Salzburg, and spent time in Munich before returning home.

Cam took around 400 pictures of his trip, and said it was "the best trip of his life." It probably didn't hurt that he was there during the World Cup, which is huge in Europe. He really enjoyed the public viewings, where the entire village came out to one central area to watch the games.

A wonderful, wonderful trip!

Think our travel is over? Not quite. Annalisse left yesterday for a week in the Outer Banks with her friend Mo and Mo's family, and Cam left today for his summer job at 4H Camp Bristol (he'll be home just weekends for the next three weeks, and possibly more if he is able to work some of the camps that rent Camp Bristol after their season is over).

No wonder summer passses so fast!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

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 pictures
  • A 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 Wednesday
  • Our 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!