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Saturday, July 27, 2013

10 Years

Brothers
My dad has been gone 10 years ago today. Time seems to go so much faster now that we are older, and the past 10 years went sooooo fast - it seems like yesterday. Back then, the kids lost all three grandfathers within three years: first was Grandpa Charlie in 2001, then my dad in 2003, then Daniel/Gung Gung in the summer of 2004 (I think it was). Lots of love lost. I'm sure all three men would have been super proud of their kids and grandkids. Add to that the loss of our beloved Uncles Joe and Duff - what a time they must be having in Heaven! I'm sure they are just waiting for all those women to join them ~ enjoy your time now, boys!  :)

But, time marches on with the promise we will all be together again someday.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Grad Bash

Annalisse's FHS graduation was June 20. Annalisse's grad party was July 20. One super, super busy month. A month that included the kids going to work at their camp jobs and our trip to LV, topped off by several days of intense prep and set up (which we could not have accomplished without the help of our awesome neighbor, Morey, and the fact that Mark was home on Thursday and Friday to get the outside ready) for an outdoor grad party on a day that called for rain. Whew.

Well, the party was this past Saturday and everything was perfect! My trusty iPhone told me that the rain would clear by 1pm, just in time for the 2pm party start time. When it was still raining at 1pm I did not panic but remained faithful to my trusty Weather App. By 1:30 the skies had cleared and the sun was peaking out, so we got to work cleaning off tables and putting the table cloths on. All was ready to go by 2 and the party began!

The appetizer table was set with Mom Shiao's much-missed homemade eggrolls (almost 300 of them!), Grandma Pat's yummy corned beef bread dip, and my sister Carol's amazing meatballs, among other things. We featured two types of keg beer and jugs of iced tea and lemonade as I am not a fan of bottle returns (yuck), and we also had wine available. People started trickling in and the kids settled in at tables with their pals, as friends and relatives steadily filled the tables under the tents and on the patio, enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful day.

Around 4pm we put the spread out (catered by Annalisse's old job, Otto Tomotto's) and the food was delicious but there was way too much of it. Carol's boyfriend, Paul made a great antipasti salad and my sister, Mary, had also brought a salad and some great Italian bread from Watertown. I don't think anyone left hungry.

After dinner there was more hanging around and we started cleaning up around 7pm. After that we built a bonfire on the patio and relaxed until we headed into the house for the night.

It was wonderful having a lot of our family and friends there to share the day, and I think Annalisse had a great time, which is one of the most important things. Another important milestone has passed and I'm looking forward to slowing down and having a low-to-no pressure rest of the summer!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What Happens in Vega$

Finally! I'm catching up on our trip to LasVegas. This will be a long post so I will report on Annalisse's awesome grad party in the next day or two. So let's begin...!!

Mary, Nicole, Annalisse and I left for Las Vegas the morning of Wednesday, July 10 (which seriously seems so long ago even though it was only 11 days ago...), and arrived about an hours and a half later than planned, around 9:30 LV time, which was 12:30am NY time. So, we were a little whipped. We got settled into our room at the Mirage and promptly hit the sack.

Then, the next morning I woke up early as usual (around 5am LV time, which was not too bad considering I'm usually awake around 3-4am until I begin to adjust to West Coast time), and we got the reluctant girls moving so we could see some sights before I had to report for my presentation around 2pm. (You seriously would have thought they were vampires the way they screamed when I opened the blinds and let the sun in.) For those readers who do not yet know this, I had registered Annalisse for the Mirage's "Trainer For a Day"program where participants shadow dolphin trainers and assist with training from 9:45am until around 4pm." It was quite expensive, and I went back and forth about whether or not to register her for it, but in the end I decided to do it as a graduation gift since as she told me over and over, "if I want to work with dolphins I want to be sure I like it."

So, on Thursday morning before we ventured out, I had the front desk leave a message that there was an enveloped to be picked up at the concierge desk. I told the girls it was "probably related to my meeting," and when we got there I went up to let the clerk know I had been notified and was there to pick up my message. When the clerk asked, within earshot of my excited teenager, "Are you Annalisse Baker?," I could feel the surprise building with A as she came up to the desk to get her envelope. Then she backed a way and started to jump slightly up and down sort of hyperventilating as she suspected what the contents would reveal. She took out the letter inviting her to participate in the TFAD program on Saturday, July 13 and started jumping around and screaming, "I'm going swimming with the dolphins!" And then the tears came. She was sooooo excited. We probably do too many crazy things for our kids, but it is SO WORTH IT to see them so happy.

Once we brought her back to Earth, we ate breakfast and went to a couple different shops then had a quick lunch before I needed to head back to the hotel to shower and change before my presentation (which went really well). Then, we hooked up again to go for dinner and plan the next couple of days.

On Friday, I had just a little time in the morning before I had to go to a luncheon for my association, and after lunch (and a $6 mojito with my colleagues), I went back to the room to force myself to take a power nap before my board meeting started at 4pm. We had tickets to see the 9:30 show of The Beatles's LOVE, the Cirque du Soleil show we had seen a couple of years ago (Nic had not seen it), and I knew I would never make it without a little shut eye. While I was power napping, the girls went to Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum and hung out with some famous (wax) folks. They had a blast! After my meeting I had dinner with my colleagues, then met up with the girls to see the show, which was simply amazing, again.

On Saturday, I was tied up in my meeting (literally) all day, starting at 8am and ending in the evening with the Board dinner which concluded around 9pm. Mary and Nic dropped Annalisse off for her dolphin day, then went on their way to the Titanic Exhibit and more/never ending shopping. I dropped in after lunch to the dolphin area but was not able to see the "trainer" in action as she was having lunch, but she did come out to say "hi." She had an amazing, unforgettable day. What a great program it was! One interesting thing came out of it: She had always assumed that dolphin trainers needed a degree in biology/marine biology, but it turns out that they mostly have degrees in psychology and, in particular, animal behavior/psychology. Very interesting, and makes a lot of sense. As a result her interest in dolphin training has diminished a little since she does not see her academic interests going toward psychology. We shall see, I guess.

On Sunday, I was once again tied up in my meeting from 8am until around 11:30am, so when I got out we headed out to see the sights and shop again until it was time to be picked up by our cousin, Patsy, to head to her place for dinner with her husband, Joe and our cousin Nancy (her sister) and her family. We had dinner then floated in the pool for a while (90+ degrees~wonderful!), just chatting and having a very relaxing time. Our time in Las Vegas was almost over.  :(

On Monday, we didn't need to leave for the airport until around 11am, so we mostly just packed and hung around the pool savoring our last minutes in Las Vegas (which was a vacation for some, and work for another - me!). The trip home was uneventful and exhausting, and we arrived home and collapsed into bed around midnight. On Tuesday morning, it was up early for me who had to work, while Mary, Nic and Annalisse had the rest of the week off (with the exception of Mary, who has the summer off).

We had so much fun! I know some people look down on Las Vegas and I have to admit that I did, too, but you don't have to be a gambler to like it.  (Obviously, I didn't hit it big with my $25 investment since I've returned to Rochester and still need to go to work!) There are tons of places to shop and eat, and lovely and interesting attractions to see. Since my term on the board is up on June 30, 2014, I'm not sure if I'll go back to Vegas next year as I would need to be asked to serve again by the incoming president. My time on the board may be over soon, but it's been a wonderful ride!!
Mom and Daughter
Watch this space...future Oscar winner?
Mary and her friend George. Maybe she's the one to make him settle down?
A dream come true! Sort of. 
Are we outside?
Beautiful Garden
DO. NOT. MAKE. ME. 
Kid Cuzins
The best "31 days" ever! 
Dreams do come true
New spokesperson
The Venetian Gondolas
Trainer for a Day letter
Happy Kid! 




Chocolate fountains - such decadence!
Nic and her date Tim

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Big Reveal

(I know you may be expecting a recap of our Vega$ trip but I thought I would post pictures of the renovations, which I am super excited about, first. Check back!)

They're here! Pictures of the house renovations that started in May. It's been a long haul but we are almost there. The only thing to be done is the painting of the porch stairs, which will need to happen when we are assured of a stretch of dry weather which is hard to come by in this wet, cold summer. We super happy with the results, although the original vision of the house color was a charcoal gray it ended up being a little bluer than planned (Cam calls it a giant blueberry). You just never know with paint! So, just in time for Annalisse's big party this weekend, here they are!

 BEFORE





AFTER















Draggin' Lag

My butt is dragging after getting to bed after midnight last from our LV flight. Highlights later today (or tomorrow):

  • Annalisse's "Trainer for a  Day" pix
  • Pictures of Liberace's abandon home
  • The kids at the Wax Museum

In short, it was a really fun trip! [Now I will pay for the rest of the week...]

Saturday, July 6, 2013

And the chicken goes to...

...the Baker kids, apparently.

The revered chicken
We picked the kids up from their camp job yesterday afternoon. Or, rather we picked up Annalisse; Cam went out to dinner with his camp pals. We waited a little while for them to finish their staff meeting, then out came Annalisse carrying this giant stuffed yellow chicken. It seems being awarded the chicken is a great honor.

It was jointly given to Cam and Annalisse in acknowledgement of a great job done at camp for the past week. Annalisse: for working really well and being super creative with the "sprouts" (little kids/day campers) during an especially rainy week, and Cam: for dealing with some particularly difficult camper situations this week. It must have meant a lot to Cam because he asked, "are you going to write about it on your blog?" Well, if he mentions the blog you bet I am! So here it is!

Chicken award duly noted.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Painting in the Rain, Just Painting in the Rain

Our main house projects are winding down with the painters diligently trying to get the house done despite dealing with buckets and buckets of rain just about every day. I think they were hoping to be done today, but that's not going to happen as it is raining once again. Yesterday was terrible with severe afternoon thunderstorms and flooding everywhere. The flooding and water levels are getting a little scary now, and the forecast on my iPhone shows rain straight through early next week.

This will surely go down as another summer that wasn't. That, as you know, will make for a very long winter. I can't let my mind go there now...I will become too depressed if I do.

I'm so excited to post house pictures. It is coming along so great and I'm hoping, with all this crazy weather, that after the painters are down the construction guys will get back here quickly to finish the sealing/varnishing of the porch decking and painting of the steps. It's a race to get it all done by the big party on July 20, but I think it's doable and it would be great if the sun would come out for a day or two (or three) so we can actually get things done, including yardwork and weeding.

Check back!