Sunday, June 30, 2013

Girl's Weekend 2013

It is with mounting anticipation that you are visiting the Fabulous B@ker Blog to read all about Girl's Weekend 2013, aren't you? Well, then, let's get started!

Back in the cold of winter we settled on the date of this year's annual Girl's Weekend, and it finally came this past weekend in Hershey, PA. The location seemed perfect since it was a reasonable distance for the North Country girls and those coming up from the south. The exciting part was that it is our 10th Girl's Weekend (Which means we are all 10 years older than the 40th birthday we celebrated at the during the first Girl's Weekend in 2003, right after my dad passed away. The math is pretty depressing...).

On Thursday, Mark drove me to Syracuse to meet Heather, Lorie and Gina to hitch a ride to Hershey (we were down to one car last week as Cam needed the other one to get back and forth to Naz for his Organic Chem class). I hadn't been to Hershey for probably 20ish years so I was looking forward to the trip. Early on, we decided we weren't really going to go to Hershey Park, but would rather just meet up and see where the next couple of days took us.

We got the the campground around 6pm, after a terrible hour of driving in a very bad, low visibility storm (there was even a tornado watch). Gina drove all the way from Syracuse so she was pretty tense by the time we arrived. Sue arrived minutes later. We checked in and found our way to our extremely cute cabin, which was a little like a mobile home made of pine:

It was really sweet and slept six to eight people. The room I stayed in with Sue and Heather had three single bunks and one double bunk. Very cozy. After settling in and unpacking, we went to dinner then a grocery store to pick up supplies to make a yummy breakfast with the eggs Gina had brought from her chickens.
Beautiful farm fresh eggs

Then, we came back to the cabin, had some cocktails, planned the next couple of days then hit the hay around 1am. As usual, I woke up really early on Friday morning (as did Sue) and we headed out for a walk about 7am. When we got back we started breakfast and got the girls moving. Once everyone was showered we headed out to Indian Echo Caverns, my first experience being in an cavern/cave. Very, very cool and fun.

Indian Echo Caverns

After the caverns, we ate lunch and hit the Hershey attractions: "The Hershey Story" on Chocolate Avenue, and "Chocolate World," the ride that takes you through how chocolate is made.

The street lights are kisses.

Later in the afternoon, we back to the cottage to hang out before ordering pizza for dinner and going for a nice walk among the fireflies, which I don't ever see in Fairport.

On Saturday morning we got up and ready and hit the road to check out Lancaster, PA (Amish country) which was about 45 minutes away from Hershey. On the way we stopped at a gigantic flea market, which was quite tacky, but which had awesome baked goods and other delicious treats. We arrived in Lancaster just before lunch, and we were all super surprised by the small city. It was absolutely nothing like we imagined; instead of quaint Amish farms and roadside markets we were greeted with a bustling fair-sized small city, with beautiful historic buildings and quaint shops. After lunch we went in search of the "other" Lancaster, especially since I wanted to get a Dutch Hex for the house. Unfortunately, much to our dismay, we were not able to find the Amish communities. We were all astonished by our inability to find the Lancaster of our imaginations, so we headed back to Hershey and just chilled out until we went out for Gina's special birthday dinner (Gina's BIG MILESTONE birthday was the next day/Sunday). As usual, there was tons of laughter and great conversations.

This morning our fun weekend came to an end. We were all on the road by 8am, leaving another year behind, but filled with endless wonderful memories of another successful weekend with the girls. Planning for '14 starts right after the new year!!
The Usual Suspects

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What I will miss (and not miss) about High School

No, this post was not written by one of the kids. It was written by me. You know, the B@ker blogger.

Reflecting on the kids' secondary school years as they come to a close, I was thinking about what I'll really miss about the kids being part of the daily fabric of the Fairport Schools:

  • Seeing the kids' friends and their families on a regular basis. In the case of Annalisse I will especially miss seeing the Dorseys (shout out to our girl, Jackie! ~ a regular reader of the blog) and the McJurys. The comforting thing is that I know we will still bump into them at the Fairport hot spots since we're all empty nesters now.
  • That excited feeling the first and last day of school. Especially the last day. There is nothing like it ~ the summer looms ahead like an open highway with no end in sight.
  • "Free" textbooks.
  • The great, great teachers.
  • Having someone get home early to take the dog out.
  • Of course, I will miss seeing my kids every day. This will become painfully apparent when they are both away at school beginning the first week in September.

Given equal measure, there are surely things that I will not miss:

  • Packing Annalisse's very elaborate lunches every day. With her gluten and dairy allergies she could not eat the school food. At 5:50am every morning I was up making stir fry, salads, shrimp, cutting up fruit and vegetables, and packing other snacks for her to eat throughout the day. I will not miss that, although you should have seen what she took to eat a camp for the week.
  • Test anxiety (mine). Being so in touch with what tests where being taken when, there was always a couple of days of nagging to "be sure to study." 
  • Girl drama
  • Getting up so freakin' early
  • Forms, forms, forms.
  • Open house/teacher nights.
As it turns out, it looks like there is more that I won't miss than what I will. I think the overriding thing I will miss, though, is the people. What a great, engaged community Fairport is. It's a wonderful place for families and we've met so many of them!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like...summer

The kids drove off in the CRV today at noon for their training week at Camp Bristol. This year Cam is the Shooting Specialist (he had to go for shooting training - an NRA program...don't ask), and Annalisse is a junior counselor. Cam had to take the car because he'll need to go back and forth to Naz this week while he finishes up his Organic Chem class. I guess you could say the coming weeks will be a little like "empty nest in training" for us. Cam will be at camp right through the first week in August (home Friday night, back Sunday morning), and Annalisse will be there five out of the seven weeks as we will be going to Las Vegas from July 10-15, which will cut across two camp weeks. So, yeah. They're gone. 

It's a little different than when they used to be gone to camp and we would have our "week of eating out," trying new and old favorite restaurants around Rochester. Now, with college looming, being by ourselves will be more the norm and OBVIOUSLY we can't eat out every night (can we?)!

I'm super happy that it's another short week, and for a good reason: GIRLS WEEKEND! My fave weekend of the year!! This year we head to Hershey, PA where we've rented a luxury cabin at Hershey Highmeadow Campground. As always, I'm looking forward to a lot of laughter and some great times with my girls!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Turn the Page

The excitement starts at :29

Well, both kids' formal education has come to an end. Everything from here on out is "optional!" (Not really, but still an interesting thought.)

Last night was Annalisse's graduation. After a year of basically being weepy everytime I thought about graduation I was actually pretty cool, calm and collected when the event actually happened. I remember thinking the same thing about Cam's graduation two years ago - I was a basket case in the months and days leading up to graduation, but did a pretty good job keeping it together at the ceremony itself. I spoke with a fellow mom afterward who echoed the same sentiments. Weird, huh?

The ceremony was admittedly long with not too many inspiring speakers. It didn't seem as engaging as Cam's graduation, but that was probably because of the really dynamic speakers and special video they showed during his ceremony (see right sidebar of the blog). The new principal, who has been there a year, is well liked by the students but boy, was he a wooden speaker/reader. It was almost comical. Mary came for the night, which was nice, and we were joined at the ceremony by Mark's uncle Pete,  Lena, Ken, Nic and Patrick. 

Of course, the funnest part is afterward, seeing the excitement on the kid's faces and greeting all the families. This weekend will be filled with Annalisse heading out to parties, and me doing laundry and gathering supplies to get the kids ready to head to a week of training on Sunday for their camp jobs. We'll now be transitioning to Summer: Part II, with the camp jobs, my girl's weekend, our trip to Las Vegas, and getting ready for the new school year. (Not to mention finishing up all the work on the house.

We are so proud of both kids, and so truly blessed!!

The Graduate
The Bakers
Thank goodness her name is in there!
Downstage Kids


Monday, June 17, 2013

Into the North and Senior Bash

The whirlwind continues.

On Friday after work (at the College, we get out at noon on Fridays), I picked up the kids and we traveled north for a much needed visit to see Mom. She's been in the nursing home for several months now and my Auntie is there as well, so we were able to have a nice visit with both of them. 

Mom is always a little confused when I just "appear" in front of her - I'm not part of her every day life and she has a hard time understanding the context of me just walking up and saying hello. Where did I come from? When did I get there? And I think it also takes a second or two to know that it's me. She hadn't seen the kids in a while so she really didn't know who they were, but when we told her I think it was also hard for her to believe how grown up they are. Although it hasn't been all that long since she's seen them, with their busy lives they don't come along for visits as much as they used to, so it's been a while. She's pretty confused and is in the wheel chair most of the time, but otherwise looks very good - clean, healthy and well taken care of.

We got up early on Saturday morning to head home and get situated before Annalisse's Senior Bash on Saturday night. The kids started the bash at 5pm by going to Minerva Deland (the school that houses 9th grade), and boarding school buses for a tour of all the "old haunts" - the elementary and middle schools. As Mark and I were walking Jasper we heard sirens and horns beeping so we rushed to the corner and made it just in time to see all the schools buses going by on their way back to the high school. We waved excitedly, the kids were all screaming with excitement. It was so awesome. I texted Annalisse to see if she saw us, and she did...
I got choked up at the time, and am getting choked up just writing this. It's going to be a tough emotional week. 

Around 8pm, Mark and I headed to the high school to help with the Senior Bash (a '70s theme). We were assigned to the prize table, and our task was mainly to answer any questions about the prizes the students could win with the tickets from the casino games. The bash had something for everyone: the aforementioned casino games, a psychic, a "coffee house" with acoustic music, a DJ, volleyball, badminton, tatoos, food/drink, bouncy houses, a caricaturist, great prizes, and the main attraction: a hypnotist. The kids were howling with laughter as they watched their classmates do goofy things, such as dancing like ballerinas in the aisle of the auditorium. I think the kids were surprised about how much fun the bash was considering it was planned by (boring) parents!!

On Sunday, Mark and I went grocery shopping then prepared for a delicious Father's Day cookout with Grandma Pat and Nic and Patrick. The weather started out soggy (again) but by the afternoon had cleared into a beautiful, although cool, early summer day.

The weekends are too short. The last several have been outstanding with fun stuff going on and not enough time. Soon enough it's Monday again and this week, in particular, will be a very special one starting with a trip to Mercyhurst on Monday for Annalisse's academic orientation, graduation on Thursday, a groom for Jasper on Friday and a graduation party on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, the kids head to camp for a week of training.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No More Teachers! No More Books!

Today Annalisse had her last final - Health, which she said was easy. Let's hope she had a successful week academically with her English and Political Science finals on Monday, and today's test. She's happy to yell from the highest mountain


Of course, killjoy that I am, I remind her she starts back up again in September. Still, pretty exciting stuff!! Onto this weekend's Senior Bash and next week's graduation celebration!! It's all fun from here, kids!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mega Project 2013 Update

The Bakers have been consumed with all the much needed home improvements that are becoming the theme of Summer 2013. Here's where we are so far:
  • The sewer pipe from the upstairs to the basement has been replaced. This project entailed cutting the drywall in the dining room, replacing the pipe, patching it back up and a refresher paint job.
  • The eight of the windows have been replaced. What a dirty job. Everything is back in place but some not so great side effects of that project is that the shutters no longer fit on the windows and I have to get our painter back in to fill in where they cut the windows out, followed by painting of the moulding and surrounding walls. Don't you just love all the hidden costs?
  • The new side fence has been installed. BUT, they installed the swinging door backwards so the hardware (not attractive) is facing the street vs. facing internally into the yard. They are coming back next week to fix that.
  • The garage floor has been replaced, the back wall has been repaired, the front facade has been updated and we have a new garage door. And it looks awesome!
  • The porch is being totally replaced (except for the roof). Meaning: the original plan to just replace the floor and steps has turned into replacing the floor, steps, base, columns, and rails. Another unexpected expense that blew up our budget. So, we head to the credit union today to get more $$. Even though it's costing a ton the new porch will be beautiful with natural wood floors and new columns and rails. I'm also looking for a new porch rug to make my outdoor living room super cosy for the summer.
  • The painter will start the house soon. Once everything is completed the painter will swoop in to put the finishing touches on the house and garage. We are going for a slate gray with white trim look. 
(And, as an added bonus, the microwave died this week. Gak!)

I will post before and after pictures once all is complete. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Downstage 2012-1013 Movie is this year's Downstage movie. Great job, kids!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Gaggle of Grecos

A Gaggle of Grecos. Is that a legit collective term?

This weekend was another totally memorable one. Is it possible to fit worlds of fun into just three short days? Yes! And it was wonderful!!

Hosts of friends and relatives descended upon Fairport this weekend for the double whammy celebration for Annalisse's last downstage show and Fairport Canal Days, our village's yearly arts & crafts festival. The really special thing about the weekend was a visit from my dearest friends, Sue and Ken, and also having both my sisters come for the festivities.

At work we are now on half-day Fridays, and let me tell you, last Friday morning was the longest in recent history. I was counting the minutes until I could be free since I knew I had a lot of prep for the weekend, not to mention massive cleanup at the house resulting from the installation of new windows. (Which, with each room, has caused a total move out of all furniture and other stuff. When complete, we need to mop the floors of drywall dust and clean everything off before moving things back in. Additionally, it usually results in a total laundering of sheets and comforters - great timing all around for a jam packed weekend with visitors!!)

So, I rushed home, went grocery shopping, did my chores, sent Cam off to his weekend training for his camp job, and waited. Sue and Ken came around 6:30, then we headed off to Annalisse's show - another "last." She and her fellow seniors in the group did a great job, and she actually held it together pretty well at the end with a lot of emotion flowing. As with all years, they produced a cute end-of-the-year movie which I will post on the blog once I have a link.

After the show, we went to Donnelly's for a late dinner, then hit the sack. On Saturday morning I was wide awake by 5:30am (why does that always happen?!!), so we got up, did some outdoor chores, and were joined by Sue and Ken for a quick breakfast before hitting the streets of Canal Days.

The day shaped up beautifully, with lots of sun until an afternoon shower, then everyone descended onto Bakerhaus for a picnic featuring, as it turned out, a lot of North Country favorites like glazier hots, Grandma Brown's baked beans and salt potatoes. We were joined by Carol, Paul, Nic, Patrick, Mary, Sue's niece Lauren, Lena and Ken and a couple of Carol's friends. It was a houseful of raucous, loud, crazy Grecos. Fun, fun stuff.

All was quiet on Sunday morning, as Ken and Sue departed early, and we did stuff around the house before heading to Canal Days for one last walk around. On the way there it started pouring and we got soaked, but no worries. The sun soon came out and we were baking again. Cam got home around 1:30 from his training, and it was naps all around as Bakers were strewn all over the living room for a couple of hours.

It was the perfect weekend. These moments are definitely ones to grab onto and tuck away. Love, love, LOVE!