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Showing posts from 2011

Goodbye, 2011

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How is it possible that it is the end of the year already? At times it is very disconcerting how fast the years go now. It seems as good a time as any to reflect on the highs and lows of the last year, which, overall, was a pretty good one.

If I had to think about a theme (or, in this case, several themes) for 2011, they would be:

Milestones ~ Connections ~ Travel ~ Fun

Milestones

An 18th birthday, a high school graduation, a 30th class reunion, starting college, a 16th birthday, a 50th birthday. WOW, those are a lot of exciting, important events for one year.  I made it through mostly all of them without a lot of tears (of happiness). Milestones really do help us mark the passage of time, don't they?

Connections

This was truly a year of connections - spending time with loved ones and reconnecting with those who mean a lot but who we don't see all the time. Cam's graduation and celebrating Annalisse's Sweet 16 and Mark's 50 gave us many great opportunities to spend t…

Christmas Week Chores

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Among all the merriment and celebrations (and laying on the couch watching movies and naps) I do actually count on getting certain things accomplished during the week between Christmas and New Years. I'm happy to say I'm making pretty good progress on my yearly chores this week. Here's a sampling of the compellingly mundane stuff I do during this brief window of sanity before January hits again:

File all the kids special momentos collected over the last year in their "memory tubs" in the attic. This year there was some great stuff because of Cam's graduation and Annalisse's Sweet 16. I'm just hoping they'll appreciate it when they buy their first home(s) and I get to give them 5 or 6 large plastic tubs containing their artwork/projects (from daycare on up), report cards, school papers or essays I thought they might find interesting later, magazine and newspapers highlighting significant current events, t-shirts from special events or camps or what…

Happy Birthday, Mom

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A very happy 81st birthday to my mom, Aline, today. 
I hope she has a 
great day!


A Very Baker Christmas

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Two days after Christmas I finally have a chance to post an update on all the festivities.

Saturday's Christmas Eve followed a very intense, busy week at work and it took me a little while to unwind and realize I actually have 10 DAYS OFF! HURRAY!

One of the great dilemmas this year was when/where to go to church on Christmas Eve. We love our church, but our services were at 5:30, 7:30 and 11pm, none of which really fit into the Christmas Eve plans of getting to Aunt Mary and Uncle Peter's in a reasonable time for their annual family party, which started anytime after 8pm. Sure, the 5:30 service would have worked for us, but...OH ALL THOSE KIDS. If we attended the 7:30 service, we would not have gotten to the gathering until after 9, and 11pm - forget it. We considered going to our old church which had a 6pm service, but it's a little too contemporary for our taste. So, for the first time that I can ever remember we did not go to Christmas Eve service. This bothered me a l…

The Sweetest Thing!

The only thing better than the feeling of a Friday night is...

A FRIDAY NIGHT THAT BEGINS A VACATION WILL LAST FOR 10 DAYS! If you want to find me I'll be on the couch in my sweatpants.

Bringing Back the Light

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Today is the Winter Solstice, which means...we made it through the darkest part of the year. Every day it will become a little lighter, which is of great joy to me. I'm always amazed when, at some point in January I leave work and all of a sudden it's light instead of dark out. The seasons certainly do turn, don't they?

Though still in darkness, we will find the light in the days to come as we celebrate Christmas...with a little help from the 700 lights on our tree.

Side note: Looks like we'll be having a white Christmas as there is still no snow, and even though the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter, it means we have just three more months until the ground comes alive again! It's the eternal optimist in me, I suppose.

The Longest Week

Arise...now commences the longest work week of the year. Or, if you ask Annalisse, the longest school week of the year. Or, if you ask Cameron, the longest, most awesome sitting-alone-in-the-living-room-playing-video-games-and-watching-movies-wrapped-in-a-comforter-with-Jasper-nearby-while-everybody-else-is-at-work-or-school week of the year. I guess it all depends on your point-of-view.

Shakes Takes Downstage

Last night was Downstage's first show of the season, and the beginning of Annalisse "Shakes" Baker's second year with this great, talented bunch of kids.

(If you're just joining us, Downstage is Fairport High School's comedy improv troupe. You can read about when Annalisse was selected here.)

This year there are five new members, to replace the five who graduated in June. One of the most awesome things about last night's show, in addition to the great laughs and our pride on how much growth (in comedy confidence, not size) the kids have shown since June, was that the five members who graduated, Jacob, Mark, Kate, Mitch and Jimmy, were at the show. It was great to see them and I know the kids enjoyed having them there.

After the show, as is the Downstage tradition, the kids got a couple of pizzas and had a sleepover (this time at our house). As I write this, there are eight out of the 10 kids sprawled across my living room. The bacon is cooking, the pancake…

Zombies are Scary

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Annalisse and I are halfway through the second season of AMC's zombie-tastic series, The Walking Dead, and I'm telling you: ZOMBIE ARE FREAKY SCARY. Oh, they're alright if you encounter them one at a time, but if they swarm you, you are doomed. Why, oh, why do I watch The Walking Dead before bed?

I think zombies are actually pretty funny. I enjoyed their staring roles in Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, and it was probably only a matter of time before they got their own series.

So the next time you encounter a zombie (a single one, not a swarm), just remember: Zombies were people, too.

Side note: the star of The Walking Dead is Andrew Lincoln, who has one of my favorite roles in one of my favorite movies, Love Actually - a holiday fave at the Baker's. Love him!

Dreams of Martin Street

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For the last two nights I've had dreams of my Nonnie's house on Martin Street. It's been pretty weird, consisting of situations where we're going through the stuff that existed when she lived there and discussing meaningful momentos.

The house on Martin Street is now for sale since my Uncle Joe passed away last November. It's a real shame that no one in the family can take it over, having been in the family since probably the mid-1930's. The house as it stands today does not exactly look the same on the outside, but the basic design still exists on the inside - enough to evoke strong, wonderful memories.

You've read about my childhood spent as part of a big Italian family (Nonnie had 11 siblilings, two of which had passed away by the time I was born) several times before, including this post and this one, and most of that time was spent in the house on Martin Street, which was a magnet for nightly extended family activity. In fact, five of Nonnie's sib…
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Seriously, how could anyone, especially Santa, resist this face?

My Friday

Today is my Friday as Mark and I are taking off work tomorrow (I suppose that makes it "his" Friday, too) to embark on our annual Christmas shopping extravaganza. List in hand, we will most likely knock off most of our shopping all in one day, come home, wrap the bootie, and stow it safely beneath the tree. Then, when Annalisse gets home from school she will all of  a sudden notice that presents have magically appeared and her excitement will rise 10 decibles. (Funny how Cameron never had the same reaction. Kids!) It's a little deceiving, though, since only a portion of the gifts are for her - but, whatever.

The early highlight of the day will be going to the Chit Chat Cafe in Victor for breakfast, a once a year treat since we don't usually go out for breakfast. Then we'll head over to Eastview to pick stuff up there, then, who knows? Maybe I'll even get a nap in if we get done quickly. Now THAT would make for a perfect day!

O Christmas Tree! 2011 Edition

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The tree is up, the house is decorated, we are ready! (Except for the shopping part.) Once again, we have a beautiful tree - isn't that what I say every year? I absolutely love the glow of the tree at night and always miss it when we take it down (although I am always totally ready to take it down and get on with the new year...). Even though I do tend to get a little annoyed with Christmas at times, I do love the soft glow of our decorations combined with the warmth of the fireplace. Sounds like I'm ready to settle in for a long winter's nap...

(Did somebody say "nap"?)








The Groundhog Commeth?

Groundhog's Day is exactly two months from now. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Now, I shall go back into my hole until February 2.

Bullet: Dodged

Yesterday Windstream completed its takeover of Paetec, and we are relieved that Mark escaped unscathed. For now anyway, his job is secure. Here's the article from yesterday's D&C. Fingers crossed for the near, and far, future!!

Ready, Set, CELEBRATE!

Let the race to the new year begin!
Christmas cards ordered and written:CHECK!Outside decorations mounted: CHECK!Christmas tree in place and decorated: This Saturday!Baker Holiday Cookie Exchange Scheduled: Sunday, December 18!Shopping Done: OF COURSE NOT!Holiday music loaded onto iPhone and iPad, including Michael Buble's new album, Christmas: CHECK!Monitor amount of cookies, holiday appetizers, and wine consumed: TBD.Counting down to holiday break: 22 MORE DAYS!Taking a breather to reflect on the "Reason for the Season" and to think about the year gone by: I'M TRYING, I'M TRYING!Remember that old saying, "If you need something done, give it to a busy person." Right.

Have a wonderful December!

How Long Until the Christmas Holiday Break?

So here we are on the Sunday night after a nice mini-break since last Wednesday. As if I need to repeat this: I LOVE BEING ON VACATION. Whether it's a staycation or an awaycation, it's just awesome to hang at home or, in the case of the "real" vacation, experience new things and new places.

Cam was home on his quarter break, having wrapped up his first term at RIT. That was fast!! His grades were pretty good, except for one "C" in a 4-credit course that brought his average down. I stressed to him again how important it is that he "does well" to keep his scholarship and be on track for grad school (which he has indicated he plans to do), but I still think he's got some maturing to do...he needs to work on more homework/less fun stuff. I'm not against the fun stuff, but he needs to give his schoolwork the attention it demands. Okay, I'm all done lecturing!! That being said, it was great having him home and he was pretty pleasant for his …

Things to be Thankful For - 2011

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I would be remiss if I didn't pause to recognize the things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. There are so many blessings. Of course, I'm thankful everyday (although, to be honest, I'm thankful some days more than others), but Thanksgiving is especially great because it's a no-pressure holiday with amazing food (special thanks to Grandma Pat, who is making our awesome meal today), and is a great time to be thankful for:

Family and friends, near and farReconnecting with old friends this yearOur jobs - in these dire economic times Mark and I have managed to thrive in our jobs. I'm hoping I can say the same thing next Thanksgiving since Mark's company merger happens on December 1 and there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding that transition.Good healthTwo healthy, happy (most of the time) kids who make us very proudOur sweet pup, Jasper, who brings a lot of golden happiness to our livesOur home - a refuge from the crazy day-to-day stuff (especially nice n…

School Picture Bonanza!

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Boy, did we get a bargain with Annalisse's school pictures this year.

OR DID WE?
I always get the least expensive (cheapest!) photo package for school pictures because it's basically a crapshoot. When they're good, they're usually great, but when they're "bad" they can be very, very bad indeed. So, if by chance they turn out pretty well I can always order more.
This year, we ordered Annalisse's 11th grade pictures on picture day in early September and they didn't come, and they didn't come. Then, a couple of weeks ago Annalisse was notified that her picture was lost so she needed to retake them. We received the new pictures today (which turned out great!), and were surprised that somehow we ended up with the jumbo pack: 8 X 10s, 5 X 7s, 3 X 5s, 2 X 3s, wallets, magnets, two key chains and a CD.

WHAT THE H?

That's a whole lotta Annalisse. What am I going to do with all these pictures? We don't even have this many relatives. Maybe decora…

Vintage

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I spent a lazy Sunday (at last!) cleaning out some closets and drawers and came across two pieces of "vintage"clothing left over from my teenhood. Over the years I've never been able to part with these two things: my Massena Red Raiders hoodie (complete with the now non-PC Indian Head) and a down vest I got for Christmas when I was maybe 13 or so (purchased, I'm sure at Levine's Department Store, where my Aunt worked and where all my clothes came from). It seems these two items are some of the last remnants of a life live "long ago."

I don't fit into the hoodie anymore, and Annalisse hardly fits into it either. I do, however, fit into the down vest, although I never really wore it when I got it, or the years following...I'm not sure I ever saw the point to a coat without arms and still don't, even though down vests are still in fashion. Maybe it's a badge of honor to have two pieces of clothing that are over 30 years old! Or the memories…

City Driving Anxiety

Here I sit in a Marriott in Tarrytown, NY waiting to spend tomorrow as an exhibitor at the New York State Art Teacher's Conference. I drove here this afternoon after spending most of the day at the New York Graduate Admissions Professionals meeting at Syracuse University. I can already feel my blood pressure rising as I consider the commute north after tomorrow's long day.

The exit for Tarrytown/my hotel was literally right off the exit from the Tappan Zee Bridge, about 10-15 miles away from NYC. I can tell you I could never live in a place like this, not with all this crazy traffic. As I was coming into the area and the traffic was picking up, it was bad but NOT AS BAD as it was in the outbound traffic lane, which I will be in tomorrow at 4pm. Not ideal. I looked at alternate routes out of the city from here and there are some, but everyone goes the same way for around 13 miles at the start of the route out.

After heading out romorrow afternoon I'll be driving to Bingham…

A Night to Remember

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Yesterday afternoon (on 11-11-11) I loaded up the car with four 16-year-old girls (a.k.a "L.A.M.P": Leighanna, Annalisse, Mo & Paige) and headed to Buffalo for the Mat Kearney concert, Annalisse's birthday present from us (the birthday celebrations just go on and on, don't they?). In case you've never heard of Mat Kearney, he's an indie folk/rock artist, and all four girls are huge fans.

The kids were so excited for the concert! We got to Buffalo around 5:30pm, found parking, and walked to a nearby TGIFriday's for dinner (their choice...). The doors opened at 7pm so we stood in line for a little bit, then entered the Town Ballroom, a cozy music hall resplendent in black walls and a mosh pit surrounded by different levels for standing. Not a seat in sight. (I must confess the idea of standing for over four hours caused a little panic for my 48-year-old self, wondering how my back and legs would be survive the night.) Like a true mom I collected all th…

You'll Never Find a Recipe Here

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As a blogger (that's debatable), other blogs tend to catch my eye. God knows there are enough of them out there, and there are quite a few I follow myself. UNTIL, the blogger starts posting recipes on a regular basis. That's when I "unbookmark" them and move on.

As a person who does not really like to cook, I can't really see the attraction in all the foodie stuff out there these days: TV shows (networks), magazines, Internet sites, and entire sections of bookstores devoted to cooking. Sure, I like to eat great (fancy) food, but I learned early on how the chef (or book pictures) lull you into a sense of "I could do that," only to find out it takes more chopping, mixing and stirring than I have the patience for. That being said, I can certainly appreciate the experience of eating such creations MADE BY OTHERS.

My promise to you, good or bad: You will never find a recipe on the Baker Blog. You'll have to go to one of the other 10,000 foodie blogs for…

Weekend Unscripted

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Finally, a weekend where we didn't have every moment planned, just the way a weekend should be. It all started on Friday night after I took Annalisse to work and Mark had an after-work gathering (from which he didn't get home until after 8pm). Can you say "laying on the couch wrapped in a fluffy blanket, watching TV with my pup by my side"?! Rare are these nights!

Saturday was another winner, sleeping in and staying in my sweats all day, with just a brief jaunt to take Jasper to the field, followed by a nap (and finishing my book for tomorrow night's bookclub). Mark was off with Scott catching perch all day on Lake Ontario. Once he got home (Annalisse was once again at work) I decided to take a shower around 6pm to look presentable (a relative term) so we could go to Donnelly's for a burger.

This morning, it was up for church then raking a gazillion leaves (and they're not all down yet) on what turned out to be an incredibly warm, beautiful late fall day…

A question that needs to be asked

My question is: why does Cam get to go to Vermont this weekend, when I haven't been to my favorite place on Earth for three years? He never even liked to go to Vermont. Not fair! Maybe I can get Annalisse to look at colleges in the Green Mountain State...?

(Cam is headed to UVM for a debate today, and returning Sunday. He likes to rub it in.)

Halloweenie

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Another Halloween come and gone. This year was so much fun!

I often espouse how wonderful it is to live in the Village of Fairport - a little like living in Mayberry - but Halloween is especially fun around our neighborhood. Everyone seems to really get into it. People decorate, and my neighbors go out of their way to set up fun activities for the kids.

This year, with my niece Nic and her boyfriend Patrick living nearby, we had extra excitement. It turns out Patrick LOVES scaring kids on Halloween. So, decked out in our old gorilla mask and hairy hand gloves, he sat in a dark corner of the porch ready to "roooaaaarrrr" at the teens after hey received their candy treat. (The rule was no scaring the really little kids.) You should have seen how some of the kids jumped and screamed. One girls screamed long and loud. Annalisse thinks she might have even cried. It was cruel, but hilarious!! Who doesn't love to get scared?

It was a beautiful night and perfect conditions for …

Another 600 Mile Weekend

Don't the Bakers ever stay home? Apparently not.

We hit the road once again heading east to Saratoga Springs for Cam's first race with RIT. The weather forecast was for snow, a byproduct of the huge October nor'easter hitting New England, but LUCKILY, all we got was a really, really cold day. I say luckily, but after three hours in 38 degree temps I could hardly move my body to walk.
Anyway, Mark and I left around 8:30am for our trek across the state. Annalisse stayed home as she is "so over" regattas and had bigger fish to fry - the main plan of which included hanging with her cousin Nic and going to see the supposedly extremely scary Paranormal Activity 3.We got to the regatta around 1pm and checked in with Cam, then walked around a bit and wasted time until his 3pm "launch," which, as it turned out, probably occurred around 3:45 because he didn't reach the finish marker until 4pm. My plan was to be on the road for a quick visit to Massena for by …

What It Must Be Like To Be a Trucker

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My travel season as a "road warrior" concluded today with a trip down to Elmira College. Altogether I attended six fairs this season, and my colleague Tonya did probably 8 or 10...I lose track. Even though I didn't travel too much for recruitment this fall, when I did travel I sure felt wiped out by the end of the day because of all that driving.

Which leads me to believe I could never have a career as a long distance trucker. It was all I could do to stay awake and engaged on the way to Elmira (approx. 2 1/2 hours each way), even with Evita blasting. On the way back it was Jesus Christ Superstar, with white knuckles all the way because of the really bad rainy/snowy rain conditions. I cannot imagine how truckers do it, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Which reminds me of that time in the mid- to late-70s when CB radios were all the rage. I remember my Nonnie saying they were just a fad and would never last. I was sure she was wrong...it …

Foul, Foul Tuesday

It started on Monday, and is building to Tuesday - my foul, foul mood.

Maybe it's because I didn't get my nap this weekend. Perhaps it's the cold, gray October sky, or the spitting snow forcasted this week. Maybe it's the grind of my job. One thing I know it is: we are heading to Saratoga for Cam's regatta this Saturday and it's supposed to be 45 and rainy/snowy. Another thing I know is: he won't wear his boots or heavy water-proof clothing because he's a teenage boy. Let the worrying begin.

I'd better treat myself to Panera today or it's not going to be pretty.

Weekend in the Windy City

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I do believe Chicago is becoming one of my favorite cities. Not that I've spent a lot of time in really big cities, but how cool it is!

I headed out early on Friday morning so my friend Kristen and I could meet up and go to Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Luckily both flights came in on time, with just one minor glitch: some guy threw up on Kristen on the plane. Y-U-C-K!  Poor girl.

After we each checked into our respective rooms at the uber-luxurious Conrad Hotel (located in the heart of the city complete with a high end mall attached!!) Kristen changed and cleaned up and we headed out by cab on our adventure, which it turns out, was located in a pretty shady section on the southside of Chicago (?Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown?). The driver dropped us off at the address I had printed out from the Internet, which turned out to be a community recreation center. Undeterred, we went in and started asking about the landmarks we were seeking, and were helped by …

A Random Potpourri of Thoughts

Well, the sign of Libra is winding down, regrettably. It's been a crazy week that found me out at one thing or another every night, except tonight, when I am sitting in my sweats in my upstairs three-season porch with the heater blasting on me. HEAVEN!

iPhone 4S

I can't believe a week has gone by and I haven't mentioned that I bought the new iPhone 4S. Of course, I can't afford it and there was just a teeny tiny bit of buyer's remorse but GOSH DARN IT, my iPhone 3 was almost three years old, the apps were constantly crashing, it took forever to respond when I was typing and it was extremely slow in general. (Still, I didn't really need it.) Annalisse got her iPhone at the same time with the $$ she has earned at her bussing job, so we each had a very exciting day on Friday, October 14 when I arrived at the AT&T store by 6:50am (and still had seven people ahead of me)...and I can't even tolerate lines! I was that excited! And, IT'S AWESOME!

Chicago

Tomo…

The Golden Boy (Man)

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Happy 50th Birthday today to MY OLD MAN, Mark! With his young looks he should be able to go another 10-15 years until he actually looks 50. Must be his much younger trophy wife that preserves his youthful looks!!

Today's celebration marks the end of our monthlong birthday celebrations. Until next year...

Sardonic Wit

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How often do we get to talk about someone's brilliant "sardonic wit," and really mean it?

Last night I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. Although it was not in my Top 10 of things to do before I die, or even on my proverbial "bucket list,"I got to see one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris live. Long a fan of his  (seemingly embellished) autobiographical and fictional essays, I was so excited when a friend asked me to go along. For an 1 1/2 hours he read some new material and told some sort-of-silly jokes.

Funny, irreverent, sardonic wit. He did not disappoint!

Birthday Trifecta

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We all survived our wonderful, fun, birthday extravaganzalicious weekend!  The weather could not have been more perfect, and we had fun with all our relatives visiting. In addition to Mark's side of the family and friends, both my sisters and mother were there. Mary and Larry surprised us on Saturday afternoon, and it was so great! I think everyone's spirits were buoyed by the incredibly beautiful weather that graced us both Saturday and Sunday. I even managed to sneak a brief late-season nap on the porch!!

So, two birthdays down, and one to go. Of course, Mark might as well be 50 already rather than waiting until the 17th considering all the hoopla on Saturday. It was a very special time with very special people! Some pix from the party: