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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gearing Up For Spring Crew

This weekend starts the official race season for RIT crew. Last weekend Cam and his "four" raced in a scrimmage against the University of Rochester and won by, according to Cam, "less than a second." Here's the news release from RIT's website. They didn't exactly win by "less than a second," but still did really well. The kids were really pumped.

On Saturday we head to RIT for a race against St. Lawrence University, and on Sunday they face off against Hobart. Since we're local I emailed the coach and asked if he would like us to bring bagels for the team. He was very appreciative so we're all set for bagels for 50 for Sunday that we will try to get there between 7 and 7:30am (you do the math: early morning bagel pickup before heading to Geneva, a 45 minute ride).  We're happy to help.

I'm so glad that Cam is really enjoying crew. It's very exciting for the mother of a boy who was never an athlete to know that he is really engaged and confident in this sport!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Random Thoughts for a Lazy Sunday Morning

Feeling compelled to write a blog update...not much exciting going on...here are some updates. You may find them exciting, you may find them mundane. I'm thinking "mundane"to "mildly interesting":

We saw The Hunger Games yesterday and really liked it. I felt is was well cast but obviously not long enough to include all the details that would have made it a richer story. Also about yesterday: I spent just a 1/2 hour at home between the hours of  8:30 and 9:30pm. I don't like those kind of days. We are definitely in the "no nap zone" lately.

Tonight the fifth season of Mad Men starts, which I am very much looking forward to. Some friends are coming over to watch the season premiere so as I head out to go shopping in a little while I want to think of some mid-sixties era snacks to make. Any suggestions?

The amazing weather that graced us last weekend lasted through most of the week, and now we're back to more seasonable cool/cold and rainy weather, although still pretty warm out compared to other years. The trees are budding, the spring flowers are out, and the Lilac Festival organizers are worried that the lilacs will be way past their bloom before the festival. I think foliage is just generally confused this year.

This morning I made blueberry pancakes and bacon after church. I love the smell of cooking that permeates the house on a lazy weekend morning. It's very comforting!

Two weeks from today (Easter Sunday) we'll be on our way to Virginia to visit Mom Shiao, and then Sue and Ken in Roanoke. We'll be getting a couple of college visits in while we're at it. I'm really looking forward to the change of scenery; I've really got the travel bug right now.

Annalisse continues to be upset that she still doesn't have a date for the Junior Prom. PLEASE PLEASE UNIVERSE, SEND A DATE HER WAY SO WE CAN ALL BE HAPPY. She's also not to happy that she has just one line in this year's play, quite a step down from last year's co-lead last. The consolation is that she still has next year!

We saw Cameron yesterday and he seemed pretty happy. He's really getting engaged with crew, likes his program, will be living in a cool on-campus apartment (Global Village) next year with his friend Ryan and three other guys, and is all set with his summer job at Camp Bristol. Of concern: he lost his second roommate yesterday after two weeks of rooming together. He lost his first roommate after Christmas break, and that was okay because they didn't really seem to take to each other. His second roommate moved in at the beginning of the third quarter and Cam seemed to like him better - as in: they actually talked and the new roommate didn't stay up all night and sleep all day. Then, yesterday, when he was out with us, he came back and his roommate was gone. He doesn't know why, and his RA doesn't know why. For the first time since he's been a student I've communicated with the school to understand what's going on with his roommate situation. Hopefully someone gets back to me on Monday. Otherwise, he seems content.

And finally, I'm about 80 visits away from 10,000 visitors. That's not including the approximately 12,000 visitors I had before I added a new counter. Won't you help me make it to 10,000?!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Got Milk?" NO!

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
About a month ago we finally took Annalisse to a pediatric gastroenterologist for different issues she has been having - no need to go into it here at the risk of embarrassing a 16-year old...let's just say her condition caused awkward social situations and intestinal discomfort. After a couple of years of trying different ways to resolve her "issues" by using OTC medications and eliminating trigger foods from her diets, the specialist concluded that she is classically lactose intolerant.

While we had half-heartedly limited dairy from her diet, it was time to get serious and really eliminate dairy from her diet. While not as difficult a condition to manage as, say, gluten intolerance, it's still a tricky one. Of course there are the obvious culprits: milk, cheese, butter. But lactose hides in a lot of stuff you wouldn't expect like bread, jarred spaghetti sauce, and salad dressing. So now I am becoming vigilant about reading labels and adapting recipes that call for milk by using Lactaid, a "milk" substitute. That, and a combination of Lactaid tablets before every meal seems to be making a difference. It's funny: now when she has issues we can usually point to a specific treat she allowed herself, or maybe it was "that piece of pizza from last night."

While you know I don't like to cook, I've been having fun with recipes that are her faves like crepes, chocolate chip cookies (with dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate chips - and they taste great!), and muffins. We are very fortunate to live in a time (and to have a store like Wegmans) where there are a lot of non-dairy products that actually taste great. Lactaid milk has been a great help in cooking, and the soy margarine, tofu cream cheese and tofu sour cream has worked well as spreads and toppings.

With relief from her symptoms comes great relief to her. She's so happy to be feeling better, and eating healthier as a result of her diagnosis!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Early Spring Gift

Although not technically spring until Tuesday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM SHIAO), we have been given the gift of very mild, warm weather, sunshine and a thunderstorm or two over the last week. Being consistent with our snow-free winter (which, as you may remember, makes me extremely suspicious that we may pay for it with a crappy, cold, rainy summer), this spring has been amazing and we were blessed with 70 degree temps and sun all weekend.

On a mission.
Fairport came alive! Neighbors were out doing yard work (Mark was definitely on a mission to clear out the beds before the bees get here), we went for lots of walks, we opened the screens to the windows, we broke out the shorts and t-shirts, and got out the porch furniture (more on that in a minute). A really cool thing about today was that we took a walk on the canal path and came across a HUGE snapping turtle. He was crusty with mid and looked like he had just emerged from an underground hiding place, and I have no idea where he was going, although he was headed in the direction of the canal. There was a circle of people around him taking pictures with their phones (Annalisse had actually brought along her fancy camera so she got sone good shots), and luckily everyone had the good sense not to touch him or try to move him (while we were there, anyway). Poor old guy! I hope he had a safe journey wherever he was headed.
Happy Pat's Day, Pat.
Anyway, yesterday we celebrated St. Patrick's Day (Hey! Everybody's Irish on St. Pat's Day!) with our annual corned beef and cabbage dinner. We were joined by Nic and Patrick, as well as our neighbors Morey and Ann (Annalisse has been working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at Ottos - she's not too happy about that and complains about having no social life, which is kinda true). I just LOVE that meal, a taste I have acquired as an adult as we never ate it while I was growing up (what do you expect with a name like "Greco?"). I've found that most people either love it or hate it, there's not a lot in the middle. This year I perfected it and everything was done just right. YUMMY.

As for the porch furniture: last year we took a neighbors discarded rattan love seat in the hopes of buying it a new cushion and using it on the porch this year. So, I broke it out and headed out to a couple of stores to find a cushion for it. After going to at least five stores, I finally found what I was looking for at Pier 1. I bought a cushion and a cute little "daisy" table to go along side the love seat - I just couldn't resist it, it was so cute.

Well, when I brought the cushion home and put it on the couch, and put the little table beside it, it was obvious that the old couch just wouldn't do. Of course it wouldn't...isn't that just the way?! So, out I went to Pier 1 again today to buy a new love seat and new cushions for our "old" set of porch furniture. I figured with new cushions we could get another year or two of use out of the set (which is probably 10-12 years old by now - we bought it used), and I was right. It all looks so cute and welcoming. Once we know the nice weather is really here we'll bring out the plants and it will become our outside living room for the summer. I cannot stress enough how much I love my porch!

These days have truly been a gift. To have them so early in the season will make it seem like a very short winter indeed! But, that nagging voice in the back of my mind keeps whispering "out like a lion."Quiet!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

That's Showbiz

This week Annalisse auditioned for this year's non-dancing, non-singing play, Harvey(Last weekend the singers and the dancers put on an the excellent show "Guys and Dolls"-  the kids in Fairport did such a great job!!). If you'll remember last year she had one of the leads (as Martha Brewer) in FHS's Arsenic and Old Lace. This year, she had a pretty strong start with her monologue on Tuesday, but was very upset with what she considered a very bad callback audition today.

We just checked online and she got the part of "Miss Johnson" in the play.

On the one hand: Hurray! She got a part!
On the other hand: It's a very small part indeed.

So, needless to say, she's disappointed after her grand debut last year. It reminds me of the days she was chosen to be a "freakin' woodsperson" in Into the Woods, or a "locker talker" (one of the kids who stands around talking near the lockers in the background) in one of her middle school plays. At least she still has next year, and Downstage. Chin up, "Miss Johnson"! Great things are coming your way!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"May The Odds Ever Be In Your Favor!"

It is with great impatience that we are anticipating the coming of "The Hunger Games" movie, which will be out next Friday (March 23). The Hunger Games trilogy was the best set of books I've read in a very long time - it's a story that really stays with you, and I still think of them often almost three months after finishing them. (Real or not real?)

Ironically, when the book the first book in the triology (The Hunger Games) landed on the list as the January's selection for this season's bookclub, I was a little annoyed. In the past we've read apocalyptic, end-of-the-world, gloom-and-doom type gems, and I wasn't in the mood to spend my precious free time pushing through a story that would ultimately be littered with death and despair.  But, the day after Christmas I took the $25 Barnes & Noble gift card Mark had given me and headed out to buy January's selection. To my surprise and delight,  I was totally hooked from page one. The story was intriguing and original, the writing engaging and accessible, and the characters sympathetic and believable. Although it presented a pretty dark theme and did not offer a lot of hope, I still loved it.

Being a quick read, I worked through the book in a day-and-a-half, and had to go immediately out to buy the second (Catching Fire), then the third (Mockingjay) and final installment. After I finished the first book, I passed it onto Cam, who read it in a day and finished all three over three days. He enjoyed the books as well. Next was my reluctant reader, Annalisse, who also got into the first book and finished it in record time (for her). It was especially great for her to read it because she was very proud she had finished it, and fairly quickly. Rarely does she ever read for pleasure so she was excited to work through the second book as well. Unfortunately, school and other activities have gotten in the way and she's just half way through the third book, which I'm sure she'll finish soon, but probably not until at least April break. Mark is the only hold out. I just can't seem to convince him to read the books...another reluctant reader. He says he'll wait for the movie.

If you're also a fan, here's a little something to wet your appetite (Peeta's interview with Caesar):

Totally can't wait!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Prom Mom - Part II

"The dress has been secured and is hanging safely in the closet. I repeat: the dress has been secured..."

Everyone can sleep better tonight; Annalisse found her prom dress. I did some pre-shopping at the mall last night and found two possible dresses that I though she would like, so we went there first thing this morning and she liked both, but liked the second of the two a little better than the first. With some great discounts at Lord &Taylor BUD DA BING! BUD DA BOOM! - we were out of there quickly. We did go to a couple other stores and tried a few dresses on just to be sure, but she came back to the original selection and is very happy with it. It's a little more sophisticated than what I would have preferred, but it's not too bad and it does look cute on her. Having inherited her mother's gift (curse?) of shortness, of course we need to get it altered and it will probably need quite a bit taken off the bottom.

For now the dress is "under wraps." She's determined to make a grand entrance for the prom so is not letting any friends or family see it. Pictures to follow at the end of April. Hey, that's worth checking back for, isn't it?  :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Prom Mom

Things are whipping up in the Baker household as the search for a prom dress is kicking into high gear. Now, I must admit all this girly stuff is a little foreign to me, always having been a bit of a tomboy (and never having attended a prom myself). Let's just say Annalisse likes the bling. I have no idea where she gets it from.

Plans to attend the prom are moving ahead despite the fact that there is no date (boy) in sight. That's okay, though. I'm glad she's planning to go with friends since it is such a rite of passage - says me, the girl who never went to the prom. Sometimes Annalisse is a real foreign creature to me!

So, now she is spending time fretting about the elusive prom dress. They all seem so fancy and overwhelming, both in design (quite bejeweled) and size (miles of material and ruffles on a little 5' teenager). I just can't see her little frame in one of these gargantuan, big bosomed, guady, bright creations!! Not to mention the price.

On Saturday we're picking up Nic and heading out with the intention of securing THE DRESS. I expect it will need alterations so we've got to build in time for that (the prom is April 28). I wonder how much bickering there will be when she and I try to agree on a dress. I'm sure we'll end up with something lovely. Stay tuned...

(No, I do not know the people in the pictures, but aren't the guys great?!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

By The Skin of His...

Whew...as a follow up to the last post Cam's last grade came in for the 2nd quarter and he got 1 A, 2 Bs and a C = 3.0. We're very happy with that.

As far as we know he's in North Carolina. They left at midnight last night (before which, it turns out, he went skiing for the first time this year. I can picture it now; he probably wore shorts, no winter coat [just his North Face jacket] and no helmet [maybe he did wear a helmet, I don't know for sure]). Oh well, as I always tell everyone, it's a mother's job to worry.

I hope he has a great time this week and bonds with his crew buddies!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Just Us Four

Tonight we're having a delicious dinner at home (Grandma Pat's Christmas gift of bacon-wrapped filet mignon and other good stuff) before taking Annalisse to work and Cam back to RIT to get ready for his long trip to North Carolina for a week of training for crew. They leave by bus at midnight tonight amid all the storms in in the Mid- and Southeast. Cam is between terms and I'm anxiously awaiting his grades for this quarter as he indicates school is very tough. We get the sense he's struggling a bit academically but, of course, he doesn't say much. So far, though, he has an "A" in his computer science course, but it's the biology and calculus that are were a real challenge. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm taking a moment to enjoy a nice dinner with all at home before we scatter to the four winds again.