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Sunday, November 27, 2011

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 time with us.

The break has been great for getting a lot of little things done. We decorated the house (with everything but the tree), did some baking, chipped away at the Christmas shopping, and just generally puttered around the house and did little projects.

What will this week bring? Probably lots more eating of the turkey and at least one evening program at work. Let's just say I'm counting the days until holiday break!! (27 days.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things to be Thankful For - 2011

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 far
  • Reconnecting with old friends this year
  • Our 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 health
  • Two healthy, happy (most of the time) kids who make us very proud
  • Our sweet pup, Jasper, who brings a lot of golden happiness to our lives
  • Our home - a refuge from the crazy day-to-day stuff (especially nice now that it's fireplace season)
  • Our neighborhood and wonderful neighbors
  • Technology - it's killed my attention span but enriched my life. In particular I'm thankful for my iPhone, iPad and Macbook!
  • My niece, Nicole, who moved to Fairport in March. It's been so wonderful having her and her boyfriend, Patrick, in our everyday lives!
  • Travel - and the opportunities to travel and experience new things through my national association
  • Green Mountain Coffee and Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters - helping me get every day off on the right foot!
  • Sleeping in every once in a while
  • Being married to someone who also likes to eat out
  • Humor - if we didn't laugh, we would surely cry!
Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving for your and your family. I'm looking forward to the turkey coma later today!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

School Picture Bonanza!

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 decorate the Christmas tree? Placemats? Coasters? Use them as her senior picture...now there's an idea!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vintage

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...oh the memories!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

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 Binghamton, which is approximately three hours from here. I'm tyring to get as close to Rochester without actually driving all the way home (too tired, too dark) so I can get up early on Saturday and arrive in Fairport by 10am (in order to get to the Minerva-Deland Craft Fair!). The report is it's snowing in Fairport right now so maybe it's good that I'm not there or I'd probably be cursing a blue streak.

It definitely looks like another 600 mile three day trip. Give me the calm, quaint, welcoming Fairport over the big city anytime!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Night to Remember

LAMP
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 the coats and purses and let the kids go into "the pit" to get closer to the stage. Since it was such a small venue I didn't worry about them because I could watch them from where I was standing.

Mat finally took the stage around 9:30pm (2 1/2 hours of standing by now...thank God I had a railing to lean on), and the crowd went wild. Even though I wasn't really a fan before the concert, I'm definitely a fan now. He was really great: strong voice, talented musician, warm and funny in the way he interacted with the audience. At one point he stepped off the stage into the crowd and walked right past the girls, went up into the upper levels, and headed back to the stage via the stairs directly next to where I was standing. No, I did not reach out and touch him. That would be creepy.

For Mat's encore he invited Leagues, the opening band back out on stage and they performed...wait for it...my current favorite earworm...PUMPED UP KICKS! How awesome was that?! Since Annalisse knew it was one of my favorites she was surely freaking out. Fun!!

Annalisse and Mat
 After the concert the girls were really wound up so we went out to the merchandise table and they got their pictures taken with the "hot" guy from Leagues, and we convinced Annalisse to ask the drummer from Mat's band how she could meet him since she was celebrating her 16th birthday. He told her to go to the bus and wait there - that Mat would be out in 10 minutes. So, out we went, and out he came, and bada-bing! Pictures and chatting with Mat Kearney. What a great night they had. I think I even heard it was "the best night of my life" from one of them.

And I was pretty happy, too. When we can make our kids really happy, what's better than that? Thank you, Mat Kearney, for a great and memorable evening.

Update 11/13/11: Speaking of Mat Kearney, this article was in USAToday this morning.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You'll Never Find a Recipe Here

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 that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Unscripted

Look what we raked up.
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, which was followed by yet more lounging around! Wonderful!!

This was also the weekend our clocks "fell back." Just so you know, I'm sticking to Daylight Savings Time and will be heading to bed at what the rest of the east coast knows at 8pm. Winter solstice can't come fast enough.

Oh, and another thing...I got a chance to see several movies this weekend - which is pretty much unheard of. Jude's reviews follow:


Evita (1996) - Motivated by my obsessive love of the Evita broadway soundtrack, I decided to watch the much derided adaption starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas. My recommendation: skip it. Bad acting and even worse singing. No one can compare to Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin.


Crazy Stupid Love (2011) - Super Cute movie all around. Emma Stone is sweet and appealing ( the next "America's Sweetheart"?) and Ryan Gosling...well...let's just say he cleans up well. Really well!


Water for Elephants (2011) - I was looking forward to this one since we had read it in my bookclub. It was a pretty true adaption. I thought Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon did a respectable job, but I watched it for Christoph Waltz, whom I've been fascinated with since Inglorious Basterds. I can't help but think he's being typecase into sinister roles. I'd love to see him in a different kind of role. I find him so incredibly appealing to watch!

Friday, November 4, 2011

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.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloweenie

Patrick awaits his next victim
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.

Don't even ask.
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 trick-or-treating. We went through a ton of candy and wrapped things up around 8:30pm. It was just the way Halloween is supposed to be!