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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out with 2016, in with 2017

Well, 2016, your time has come. Time to move on from a year with some great high points and what seemed like a lot of worrying with a couple of low points thrown in.

We certainly did a lot this year: our first trip abroad, Cam graduated from college, moved to Maryland, then moved back. Annalisse took a trip to Italy and had a productive summer, as well as finishing her next to last term at SU. 

But, I feel a general sense of malaise and apprehension going into 2017 with Trump at the helm. I think his election has affected a segment of Americans in a way we have never experienced before. Some are jubilant, others are filled with dread for the future. The contentious election and its result has pulled people apart more than ever before. We will have to wait and see how things go. 


I usually make a list of goals for the new year, and they never seem to change. They usually revolve around losing weight, getting our finances in order, and staying connected to those we love. For 2017, though, I may make some progress toward goals like find a new position/career change (once Annalisse is done with school), get to those much needed renovations in the house, and maybe try to simplify a little - get rid of some stuff. Somehow, a simple cabin in the woods with room for Jasper to run and a trout stream nearby seems appealing right now. 

2017 does hold some promise: Cam has an interview for his job at UR next week (to change from contract to permanent), I will be going to Salt Lake City for the NAGAP conference in April (and am hoping we can manage to have Mark come along), Annalisse will graduate from Syracuse in May, and will hopefully secure a dietetic internship for fall (which will cause us all a lot of worry and anxiety - warning you now), and Cam has a nice girlfriend (hallelujah!). Mom Shiao will celebrate her 75th in March, and Jasper is in good health for being almost 10. That's the great thing about a new year: all the promise it holds!!

All he best to you and yours for the new year. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

We wish you the merriest!

Merry day-after-Christmas from the Bakers! It's been a great holiday, filled with friends, family and a great gift or two (like a new iPad Air and tickets to the SU/Duke basketball game in February!).

I am especially thankful to have family around this year. It might have been a different scenario, where Cam was coming home from Maryland to spend a few precious days, and I continue to be happy and relieved that he is back in Rochester.  We are still waiting for the UR job to be wrapped up, and the position was supposed to be posted before the end of last week, but...bureaucracy.

Annalisse finished a very stressful term at SU. Her grades were disappointing to her (she ended with a 2.8 for the term and a 3.2 overall), with a C and a C+ in key courses, but what can you do? I know she really tries, studying for weeks before a test, and it all ends up falling apart with the test. Even so, she will spend the break getting her internship applications in order, and we can only hope for the best with her the match in April.

Speaking of which, we will be taking a trip down to NYC after the new year to go to an open house at NY Presbyterian, an intership program which apparently loves SU students.

Mark and I keep plugging along, looking forward to a week off (with some projects on the list). The approach of 2016 brings with it a cloud of unsettling uncertainty, with Trump just weeks from taking office and talks of retracting the ACA and tough talk on nukes. So aggravating.

I want to use my break to catch up on some reading, but am having a hard time tearing myself away from my "West Wing" binge-a-thon. The books are stacking up...

Holiday wishes to you and yours! We hope you have a great final week of 2016!









Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks in '16

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I am sitting in the living room pup at my feet, both kids are hanging out watching a "Parks and Rec" marathon, and thinking how overdue I am for a blog entry. I'm trying to think about why I am not so engaged with the blog these days. While a lot of great things have happened this year, some of the year has been a struggle. Moving Cam down to Maryland, and the uncertainty (and huge expense associated) that followed definitely put a little bit of damper on my mood at times. 

I have also been a little cranky about some work stuff, and a desire to maybe be doing something different professionally (although, I do count my blessings daily for having such a great job, but I think I'm ready for some new challenges). I think the prospect of a low likelihood of selling my mother's house weighs heavily as well, as it costs each of us approx. $100 to keep all the bills paid and just feels like it's hanging over all our heads.

But there are some great things happening, and, make no mistake, I am really, really thankful fro all of my blessings, like...
  • There is a good chance Cam will be hired on by UR. It looks like his job will posted in December, and he will apply for it. Fingers crossed that it is just a formality and he will get it.
  • Cam has a nice girlfriend. It's fairly new so we're trying not to make a big deal of it. Danielle is biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at UR (she's from Omaha, NB), and they met through the crew/Rochester Boat Club.
  • Annalisse is wrapping up a very challenging semester at school (she has about three weeks left) and Biochem and her Medical Technology class is really kicking her butt. She is super excited about becoming TA for a food demo class in the spring, and feels really ready to start applying for internships (due February 1, I think)
So, the turkey is in the oven for what will probably be a mediocre Thanksgiving meal (I'm not a great cook), and on Saturday we will head up to Watertown for our Greco harvest dinner.

Thanksgiving wishes from the Bakers to you and yours!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October Round Up

Well, hello there! This little B@ker Blog hiatus is definitely the longest I've taken. I just haven't felt much like dropping a note during this incredibly busy month of travel for work during the week, and crazy, overcommitted weekends.

So, what's been going on? Lots, and not a lot!

21!
Of course, October started with Nic's birthday on October 4 and our little kid turning 21, and all the fanfare you can image would go along with that. On the 5th, her birthday, she held a little happy hour celebration at a Mexican restaurant in Syracuse. Cam, Alex and a bunch of her camp and nutrition friends went, so she was super happy to celebrate with them. She could not overdo it, though, because the next day she had her first food education program for the semester, as well as her first improv show that night.

That same night, Sue flew in from VA for
our girl's weekend in Vermont. What a great weekend that was! As always, it's so much fun to be with "my girls," and Vermont captures my heart every time. We had a nice day celebrating my birthday on Saturday, the 8th - the girls made it special. On Sunday, when Sue and I returned to Rochester, we went to the David Sedaris reading - he's one of our absolute favorite humorists, and he did not disappoint.

The following weekend Annalisse headed to Boston for her nutrition conference, which she totally enjoyed as she learned new things and made contact with internship coordinators. She's super excited (and nervous) about the internship process, made worse by the fact that she has two very difficult courses this term, and is struggling a bit in both. She just keeps plugging away.

This past weekend we went on Annalisse's 21st birthday (limo) wine tour. Despite the heinous (cold, driving rain) weather it was a really fun day, capped off by a big dinner at our house and a hearty breakfast in the morning before the girls went back to Syracuse. Mary also came, and Alex's mom, Brenda, joined us which made for a fun time.

Cam is plugging away at his UR job, which he likes. There is an indication he may be hired on permanently based on a conversation with his boss last week, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed, and crossed, and crossed... He's enjoying his time back with his friends and his work with the Rochester Boat Club, and I know he'd like to get back out on his own, which he can do once we knows if he'll be hired on.

All through these activities have been 15 day and evening trips to college fairs, which finally concludes tomorrow. To say that October has been a grind would be an understatement, and I'm looking forward to a slower-paced November. The days are so cold and dark now - I'm already longing to be back in our wonderful (hot, sunny) summer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hitting the Reset Button

Our 23 year old has moved back home. Alas, we did not make him move into the basement (you know that old adage about adult children moving back in their parent's basements?). No really, it's okay! He's home and ready to push the "reset" button on his young career. We went down to Gaithersburg on Saturday, loaded up ~ again ~ and headed back home this morning. I'm mostly relieved he's back home (including the mouse incident in his apartment on Saturday night) -  I'm not a big city person and it's always a little stressful being near DC with the crazy traffic and a gazillion people around. He's super excited to see his friends again, begin coaching at Rochester Boat Club (and just participating in crew in general), and hopefully settling into the new job at UR.  We managed to absorb all his stuff back into the house, but are keeping must of it together as we expect he will be out again within a couple of months or so, once he finds out how the UR job is going.

He's home just in time for a very busy October. This weekend Annalisse wanted to come home because otherwise she would not have been home until the weekend of October 21 when are celebrating her birthday with a wine tour (Shhhhhh! Don't tell her! It's a surprise [and no, she doesn't read the blog]). So we will have a nice dinner out Saturday night to celebrate Nic's birthday (October 4) and Annalisse's birthday (October 5). Also coming up: Fairport's Oktoberfest this weekend, Girl's weekend next weekend, Annalisse goes to Boston the weekend of October 15 for the FNCE conference, and the weekend after that is her birthday wine tour. Sprinkled in there is also my birthday and Mark's birthday. Those Bakers love October!

I'm really really in denial that fall is here. It continues to be pretty warm most of the time, and I just can't bring myself to decorate the porch (and change the garden flag) with the fall wreath or buy fall-y mums. I just can't! Because you know what comes after fall - and it's just been a banner year for weather, although some might think it's been wayyyyy too hot... ;)

So, life marches on. What a year this has been. Highs and lows, and everything in between!

Friday, September 9, 2016

ROC Bound

Here is an update in the continuing saga of "Cam's Career and Quality of Life" journey:

He found out on Tuesday that he got the Bioinformatician job at UR. In his understated way, he was very excited. I think we can chalk the last couple of month up to a life lesson, one of which he learned plenty about himself, what he wants to do, where he wants to live, and the importance of having a network, especially of friends. The shaky part of the scenario is that the position is a temp one through the middle of December, with a potential for permanent hiring based on funding. We're just going to take it one day at a time. If nothing else, it buys him a little time to look for a job that better suits him. He is also liking the course he is taking, and plans to continue to gain skills in that area. 

When he got back to his apartment on Tuesday, he spoke with the office to made arrangements to break his lease, which will require two months rent payment. While a lot of cash outlay, it's so much better than subletting until next August 1. He'll basically come back having broken even (or a little more than even) financially from this adventure. Also, immediately upon making plans to return he got in touch with the coach for the Rochester Boat Club letting her know about his return, and she invited him to coach crew. So, he's very excited about that as well. Other earning potential includes teaching science and lab courses at the area community colleges, since he has lab experience from teaching two classes at RIT.

He will move back home in the short term, but he knows it's not an indefinite proposition. Once he gets on his feet with a solid job, off he will go, probably living somewhere fun with a couple of his buddies.

We are relieved, and looking forward to his return, and to him being happier. I thought all the worrying would end when he was launched into a career - another good reminder for me: it never ends!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Baker's New Ride

The Baker's new ride
Today, we finally got a new car to replace the black Honda Accord that we gave to Cam when he moved to Maryland (which we officially signed over to him yesterday - going to the DMV is not my favorite thing to do). Today we signed on the dotted line for a 2016 Prius. I'm really looking forward to zipping along in this cute little car, which we pick up on Wednesday. It will be great to have two cars again, as having one has been an inconvenience, but not too, too bad.

Both kids are home for the long Labor Day weekend. Cam came home Thursday evening, and we picked Annalisse up on Friday afternoon. Cam had his interview at UR at 3pm on Friday, and will know if he gets the job by Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm pretty nervous about it, mostly for him because I know he wants it so badly and he will be very disappointed if he doesn't get it. Right after the interview, around 5pm he came into the house, changed his clothes, and was off to with his buddies to camp in Pennsylvania for the weekend. Apparently, one of his roommates competes in speedboat racing and "the boys" went to cheer him on "somewhere in Pennsylvania." I know he misses his friends, all a great bunch of guys, a lot.

Other than that, we are enjoying the long weekend. The fall is going to be a real rat race for me, as I am down a staff member right now and will be having to do more regional travel to Colleges for work. Road warrior mode, for sure! Still, there are a ton of fun things planned this fall, including in October alone, Girl's Weekend, celebrating Annalisse's 21st birthday, Annalisse traveling to Boston for her first professional conference, and parent's weekend at SU. Never a dull moment!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where did August go?

Well, hello there. Looks like the B@ker Blog took a bit of a summer vacation. Once again, busyness has taken over, and at the end of each quick day, I am too worn out (lazy...?) to post!

The journey since my last post has taken us to Raleight-Durham North Carolina and back, with a visit to Cam, Sue and Ken, and nephew Tony thrown in. Annalisse and I travelled 1,750 miles in six days to check out possible dietetic internship (DI) programs for next year. On the way down we stopped to spend the weekend with Cam (who is doing better, although disappointed he didn't get the job at Wayfair in Boston - his interests did not meet their needs ~ DUH ~ he's interested in big data and they needed a coding monkey.  I think that probably came through in the interview. LOUD AND CLEAR.), before heading down to Roanoke (well, technically Salem, Virginia), for an overnight with Sue and Ken, and the bonus of spending time with Cousin San. On Monday morning, with Sue and Ken joining us, our first stop was at UNC Greensboro, where Annalisse had a nice visit, but learned that the program requires the GRE, which she is not planning to take, so that one was "out."

Next, we travelled to Raleigh to Meredith College, where the woman she spoke with was from Buffalo and had gone to the University of Rochester. Apparently, there are a lot of Rochester-Buffalo-Syracuse folks in the R-D area. Meredith was a great visit, and she was excited about that prospect.

After Meredith, we hooked up with Tony for a walk around downtown Raleigh and dinner. Man, was it HOT and MUGGY. (I still prefer it to snow.) On Tuesday morning we headed over to Duke Medical Center where she met with the DI coordinator, and had a great visit there as well.

On the way home on Wednesday we stopped again at Cam's for the night, and went out for a nice dinner, for which he paid with his first paycheck (YAY!). When we got there he informed us he had been contacted the U of R -- more than six months after he applied for a position and spent months trying to get a response from them. He comes home this Thursday night for the long Labor Day weekend and has an interview on site with them Friday afternoon. It would be a temp-to-perm position so we will just need to see how it pans out. There are others being interviewed so I think he's being realistic about it, and is prepared to stay at his current job for a while if he doesn't get an offer. He's also taking an online class to fill some knowledge gaps in areas he would like to pursue work. So, we shall see.

A week ago this past Sunday, we moved Annalisse back to Syracuse for her senior year. Can you believe it?

When Cam comes home for the weekend we are finally going to get the car squared away and signed over to him. Then, hopefully I can get our second car. Being a one car family this past month hasn't been totally horrible, but has been inconvenient at times.

Onward!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekus Horribulus

Deuces
Here we are a week after a stressful week, with another...stressful week.

On Monday, the week started off with me (and Mark, I'm sure) already feeling a bit beaten down from the events to move Cam. Still, we were excited for him to start his new job, and were really looking forward to hearing about his first day.

Well....it was terrible. As described by him, he went in, spent an hour with his boss, and was then told "Ok, go do your stuff." He had no idea what he was doing and did not know what to do. He was upset, feeling lost and unqualified, and felt like he couldn't even go back the next day. Uh oh. I tried to calm him down, and let him know that quitting after one day, or even several days, is not an option for a whole host of reasons, among them that we did not have the $$ to move him back and he had signed a year lease. Then Monday night, he saw a mouse in his apartment. I'm pretty sure that ranked as on of the worst days of his life (so far!).

On Tuesday afternoon he texted me to let me know he wanted to give me a call in the evening. Of course I said "call now," and we talked about how his second day was not any better than his first, with no direction and no understanding about how to do his job. Panic all around.

On Wednesday morning I called him before he left for work to talk through how he should approach his day. My advice: explain to his supervisor that he needs more direction and a training plan. Also, say that even though he has software development experience, he has not done what they are asking - it's new to him. He actually listened to me, and he had a better day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He said he had a project plan and that there was someone assigned to work more closely with him, like a mentor. When I spoke with him on Friday he said he felt he could stick it out for at least 4-5 months, but didn't think he'd be there for the long run. My feeling is that a smaller, more intimate work environment might work better for him.

On top of this, his debit card, which was mailed from Rochester on July 28, has still not arrived, meaning he is running out the cash he has no access to his bank account. I ordered another which was supposed to come via FedEx on Friday, but it has not come yet. Grrrr.

So, all in all, it's been a stressful week for the Bakers, and especially for Cam who is in a situation without a support system and no social contacts. It's a bit of a crash course in navigating a professional work situation, and dealing with really being away from home for the first time (with a bit loneliness thrown in). I'm hoping he has a better week. Annalisse and I will be heading down on Friday for the weekend before heading to Roanoke and Raleigh to visit internship programs, so are looking forward to spending time with him.

Please keep Cam in your thoughts this week!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

STRESS-PALOOZA

Today tops off what has been an alternately exciting, frustrating, and stressful week. Rarely have I had a week where every day brought new stressful, frustrating, expensive experiences. Here goes...

As you know, this was the week we moved Cam down to Maryland to start his new job. So, on Monday I went to work, knowing that Tuesday I would have to take Annalisse to Syracuse to move her belongings out of her current apartment and into her new apartment, as she had to vacate by July 31 (a development I learned about only the Friday before). STRESSOR #1. As a result, we headed out to Syracuse with the intention of simply moving her stuff from her old apartment to her new, but NO: It turns out we had to completely empty out her current apartment and move everything home since she could not get into her new apartment until after August 20 (STRESSOR #2).

Now, all of you know I'm a good planner. I had emailed the rental office earlier in the month asking about this process, but never received an answer. It would have been okay to move everything home had I know that was the process. As a result, I did not have the proper car and was able to only take a limited load back to Rochester. In a panic I called Mom S. to ask if she would be able to come back to Syracuse the next day (when we were scheduled to leave for MD) to take "the rest." She was a lifesaver, and she and Annalisse were able to bring everything back ~ and it's all now in my front hall (STRESSOR #3).

Moving on to our trip to Maryland: the trip down was fine, and we had a nice night in Rockville Town Center, and a delicious Tapas dinner. We got up on Thursday morning and headed over to Cam's apartment to get him moved in. It was suuuuuppppeeeerrr hot and muggy out. We got all his stuff in, EXCEPT the bed he bought at IKEA last August (which was falling apart little by little). Mark and Cam could not get it into the elevator, so they started to carry it up seven flights - they made it up one flight and that was enough. Into the dumpster it went! Now Cam does not have a bed, just mattress to sleep on, and we'll have to figure that one out (A LESSER STRESSOR - #4). On the plus side: Cam's apartment is really nice and quite big for a studio. It's pretty bare but I'm sure it will fill up quickly.

The plan for the afternoon was to take the car in for a MD inspection at 2pm. The inspection lasted almost two hours and cost $93, and at the end the car did not pass because of a bent rim. The cost to fix it: $730. Ummmm, no. (STRESSOR #5.) A salesman Mark had been chatting with overheard our situation, and got right on the phone to a salvage yard where he was able to find a new rim for $200. That's more like it, although we also were not expecting to pay $200 for a car repair. So, in the pouring rain we drove over to the salvage yard and handed over $200 in cash. The rim would be in early the next day, after which we would need to take it to tire service to be installed (STRESSOR #6). Tensions were high that day as we got continually soaking wet going from place to place in torrential rain (STRESSOR #7), not to mention the hellish traffic (STRESSOR #8).

After the tire debacle, we headed to IKEA to pick up some supplies for Cam's apartment, then had a very nice dinner at a pub in Gaithersburg. That was a bright spot for the day.

On Friday, we got a call around 9:30am that the rim was ready for pickup. Mark went to take care of that while Cam and headed to Target to get more apartment supplies. Poor Mark: he picked up the rim then had to wait for almost 2 hours to get it mounted, after which he went BACK to the Honda dealership to get the tire cleared for inspection. He sat there another hour and was not able to get the car in (STRESSOR #9), then had to leave to pick us up for Cam's appointment at the NIH to get his badge picture taken (a bright spot of the trip: the NIH is huge and very cool - like a college campus).

After the NIH, we went back to the Honda dealer, waited another hour-and-a-half for them to update the inspection, then RACED to the motor vehicle department at 4pm only to be told we could not transfer the car because Cam did not have a Maryland license (STRESSOR #10). Two days wasted running around and we could not accomplish one of our major goals.

Now, Cam has to get a license, and we discovered that he needs his Social Security Card for the process. I got home yesterday afternoon and the card is no where to be found (STRESSOR #11), so he has to go in person for a new one...and the office closes at 4pm each day (STRESSOR #12), which will be difficult since he is just starting his job and will not get out until 5pm. Maybe on his lunch hour? Who knows at this point.

And for those of you keeping track at home, because the car is still registered to me and not yet turned over to Cam, I cannot get another car yet, and will have to wait until all of this is resolved (STRESSOR #13). It should be interesting as Mark and I juggle car pooling for the foreseeable future. Looks like I'll be renting a car for our trip to North Carolina in two weeks.

I am really ready to hand all of this over to the Universe. I'm so incredible frustrated and cranky, and looking forward to a new day tomorrow, and to bid this crappy week adieu.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Time Flies!

Chillaxin' at the pool
Can it be that it has been almost 3 weeks since I updated the blog?! SHAMEFUL!

But a super busy three weeks it has been. This summer is really flying by (sadness), but there is still so much to look forward to, like our trip down to Maryland as Cam starts his new job in Rockville.

We will head out on Wednesday, bright and early, with our trailer containing all Cam's Earthly belongings ~ well, maybe not everything, but what he will need to get started in his new place. He is renting a "super studio" in Gaithersburg, at least for the first year, since the info on Craig's list about sharing a house seemed kind of sketchy. His new apartment features a "sleeping area," with no door, but it will fit his full-sized bed he bought at Ikea last year. We also got him a full-size futon so we will be able to stay with him when we visit. The apartment complex looks really nice, so I hope it works for him.

On Thursday, we will work to get him all settled in his apartment, then we need to take his car to be inspected at 2pm, which we will need for his Maryland inspection. After that we will most likely go out and get some home goods he will need, like kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, a toaster oven, a microwave and possibly a small cafe table depending on how much space he has.Then, Friday we will try to get to the DMV very early to get his car settled. On Saturday, we will head home.

To celebrate his last days of freedom from real work, Cam and his buddies went to Cape Cod for the weekend. As of this writing (3:30 in the afternoon), they haven't left for home yet. He does like to make his mother worry, doesn't he?

It hasn't really sunk in that he is moving away for good (fingers crossed everything works out and he likes his job!). Luckily, it's not really that far away (around 7 hours), and Annalisse and I will be stopping by in mid-August on our way to visit Sue and Ken in Roanoke then to Raleigh/Durham for an overnight to speak with internship coordinators for possible internships next year.

Annalisse has finished her volunteering at RGH, and she also finished her online Anatomy and Physiology class a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. She's sitting at about an A- right now, which she'll take!

Oh! Another thing: after like seven long years, I made it back to Vermont this week. MY GOD I MISSED AND LOVE VERMONT. I had to go to Killington for mini-conference for work - which was "meh" - but the meeting was held at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel, which had absolutely gorgeous views and was a very nice hotel. The trip reaffirmed my love of Vermont - if only it was not so cold there in the winter. This time I discovered another amazing little classic Vermont town: Woodstock. I will be heading back to Vermont, this time to Stowe, for our girl's weekend in October. I CANNOT wait.

Other than that, we've been enduring the daily heat which has led to a bit of a drought in our area and beyond, which I am absolutely NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer Daze

I know the lawns are getting brown. I know it's sometimes hard to sleep at night with all this heat. BUT I LOVE IT! This weekend has been a banner one, with beautiful weather and time spent with good friends. It simply doesn't get any better.

The weekend started with a quick trip to Massena for my 35th reunion. I just went only for the Friday night get together, as Mark and I needed to attend our dear friend Kay's dad's memorial celebration on Saturday. Mark could not come along as he can't get away from work (having just taken two weeks vacation), so I started the day in Massena with lunch with my sisters and cousins, followed by a listing of Mom's house with a new agent and a party for Aunt Carol's 96th birthday.

Later in the day I joined my girl's (and Ken, Sue's husband) for dinner at Sabad's before heading to the reunion get together at the Massena Country Club. As always, it was great reconnecting with friends (and ignoring those who I never really liked - there! I said it!), and I noticed it tends to be the same people who go to these reunions, and those who NEVER go. Still, it was a fun time.

Then, Saturday I left my sister Carol's house around 6:30am to make it back to Dale's celebration (held at a beautiful location on Lake Ontario) by 11:30am. After that, I came home and took a nap (yes!), before we had a little bonfire get together with friends.

On Sunday we woke up and had a nice family breakfast before Mark, Annalisse and I headed out to look at cars, and Cam headed to Watkins Glen for a day trip with buddies. I am trying to decide what car I will get once Cam takes the Honda Accord, and I think it's down to three models. This week I'm going to try to get some test drives in so I can know what direction I want to take when we get back from Maryland in August.

Sunday night the kids had a bonfire with camp friends, and some of Cam's RIT roommates came over also. While the kids were enjoying themselves, Mark and I joined neighbors at their fire pit. What a wonderful night, and weekend. Just so much fun spending time with friends on beautiful summer nights. Priceless!

This week will find us back in the routine of Annalisse volunteering and working on her online class, Cam looking for a place to live, and Mark and I working (booooo!). For the upcoming weekend I will be hitting the road again as I run back up north for a baby shower and spend the night at Mary's Saturday night. Sooooo busy, but such a full life!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mary-Land

Well, it's official. One of the Baker chicks is flying the nest.

Cam will start his new position at Omnitec Solutions, contracting to the NIH, in Rockville, MD, on Monday, August 1. In his own words, from his Facebook page:

I am happy to announce that I have accepted a software developer position at Omintec within the National Institutes of Health. I will be helping psychiatric researchers connect to the resources they need within the NIH to better aid in their studies. Starting in the DC area August 1st.
Now, to find housing. We are trying to figure out what he can afford and with the options in that area (DC), which is notoriously expensive. Rent a room? Find a studio? We've got some time so I'm hoping an option becomes clear in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, lots of relief all around in the Baker house!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

DOG days of summer

We got out the little kiddie pool we bought when Jasper was a pup. He still doesn't like it...!

2007
Today

Report from the Porch

Ahhhh, summer. I LOVE IT. I love the heat. I love the soft breeze. I love the porch. ETC. !

A quick job update for Cam: last week he was contacted by the company he had interviewed with in Rockville, MD, letting him know that they had gotten approval for another position and wanted to talk to him about it (this was the company that he was not that interested in - he felt the position was too much like a co-op and below his skill level). BUT, he was willing to hear what they had to say since a job has not yet panned out for him.

So, on Friday he had a conversation with him in which they described another position available with more of a software development focus. He was definitely more interested now! By Friday afternoon, he had an offer in hand (just an hour before he left to go camping), and we expect that he will accept the offer on Monday (unless something major has changed in his thinking during the time spent around the campfire). It's a great relief (for him especially, although he is notoriously hard to read), and we are really happy he will end up in Rockville which is not too far (just outside of DC at around seven hours away). Once he signs on the dotted line his start date will be August 1 (a Monday), so this week we will have to begin to figure out housing.

In a lot of ways it's weird to think that he will be leaving "for good" (which we assume will happen!). Having gone to RIT and being close to home has really helped us avoid an experience where we don't see him for weeks or months on end, so in a way having him far away has been deferred for five years. Still, we are excited for him to enter professional life - ahhhh, to be young and living in DC!

P.S. This is the 800th blog entry, and in May 2007, it will be The F@bulous Baker Blog's 10th Anniversary!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Our Grand Irish Adventure

Welcome back! Sorry for the long blog drought...we've been very busy, above and beyond the fabulous trip we took to Ireland!

Since my last post (May 22 - sorry, again) one of the chicks launched her farm-to-table tour of Italy, and the other has been looking for a job (bites, but no offers yet).

On May 24, we took Annalisse to Toronto for her flight to Pisa by way of Dublin. All her travel went off without a hitch, and she began her intense two week study abroad of the Mediterranean Diet. She had a wonderful time seeing how food was grown, visiting organic farms, working with bees to make honey, making pasta, wine, cheese and bread, and enjoying "slow food" meals that sometimes lasted up to three hours. The group ended in Florence, but spent much time staying and working at farms in between. She said the trip was amazing, and would love to live there (we hear that a lot from folks who visit Italy!) if it weren't for the language barrier. Her trip was capped off with a food tour of Florence hosted by an SU grad who has lived in Italy for 20 years. During her time there she decided she would try gluten again, and has been very successful with it (so far, anyway). The difference probably has to do with how highly processed American flour is. All in all, through, she's pretty happy that she can take baby steps toward eating wheat products again.

On Monday, June 6, Mark, Cam and I headed to Toronto for our midnight flight to Dublin. All went well, and we landed in Dublin around 11:30am (Tuesday). After we made our way through customs and got our luggage, we waited around another couple of hours until Annalisse arrived from Florence around 2:45pm. When we connected with her, we hopped city bus #16 and took the 45 minute drive to the street near our apartment, where our Airbnb host, Paul, met us. We settled in and set off to explore the city for the next two days, taking in all the "must sees" like Trinity College/Book of Kells, Christchurch, Temple Bar and the winding, charming streets with brightly colored row buildings with flower boxes.

On Thursday, we took a taxi back to the airport where we picked up our rental car and headed south to Cork. Of course driving on the left side of the road (or, as we Americans refer to it: the "wrong" side) is confusing, but it wasn't as bad as traversing the VERY narrow country roads we encountered. More than once I thought to myself: so this is how it ends? It was very scary - narrow, winding roads, no road shoulder tall hedges on either side (you feel really boxed in), and cars whizzing by you at 80-100km per hour. Soooooo stressful - but worth it!

We stayed about 30 minutes away from Cork in a thatched roof cottage built before 1800, which was really cute (and a little buggy, as old, damp cottages will be), but in retrospect, as fun as it was to stay in a cottage in the country, we spent a lot of time going back and forth to Cork so it might have made more sense to stay right in Cork.

Once in Cork, we connected with Annalisse's friend Eve, who lives about 20 minutes away in Carrigaline. It was so wonderful seeing Eve and meeting her family! Annalisse was able to spend the evening with her Irish friends from the Carrigaline/Fairport exchange three years ago, and was also glad she was now old enough to drink. Although she's not one to overdo it...usually two glasses of wine is her limit and she doesn't like beer or mixed drinks. For her, it was just great to see them all again.

While in the south, we traveled to Cobh and Kinsale, and spent the day at Blarney Castle (Cam was the only one to kiss the Blarney stone), which was absolutely beautiful and tons of fun. Cobh (pronounced "Cove" and formerly known as Queenstown) was the last stop for the Titanic and was also the village where the survivors and those who perished on the Lusitania were brought. As a town, it's seen a lot of heartache. One hundred twenty three Cobh passengers boarded the Titanic, and most of them were third class, with just 44 surviving. Kinsale is another seaside village, and a little more upscale. Both were very cute.

On Sunday morning we set out early traveling North West to the Cliffs of Moher. It took a little over three hours to get there from Cork, and when we arrived we started out on the path toward the watchtower, which, believe me, is farther away than it looks!! The distance there an back was around 6km, but what amazing sights!! We set off back to Dublin around 2:30pm for the final leg of our trip.

On Monday, we went to the Guinness Storehouse which is basically a Guinness Museum with free beer at the end. That was very cool. Then, in the evening we took a Haunted History Walking Tour, which has sort of become our tradition on vacations ~ being more about history than ghosts. We finished off our vacation and headed to the airport around 10am on Tuesday for the flight back to Toronto.

To sum it up:

Liked/Loved about Ireland
  • Booking Airbnbs - they were cheaper than booking a hotel, gave us a lot of space and had a washer/dryer
  • The food was amazing!
  • It didn't get dark until after 10pm
  • The people were super friendly
  • All areas were very walkable
  • Lush, lush green
  • Manageable distance/flight
  • The amazingly old structures
  • The ruins everywhere
  • That it was invaded by vikings and they had a lot of influence on the culture
  • Scones!
  • Where we traveled it was near the Atlantic Ocean. It was pretty cool thinking that North America was on the other side.
Did not like/love about Ireland
  • THE DRIVING, mostly as it pertains to country roads
  • The parking (very very very narrow spots)
  • The parking fees
  • The weather (we actually had very nice weather in general, but it didn't really get above 70 and was cloudy a lot of the time, and rained a few times
  • The smoking
  • Dublin was pretty dirty, lots of beggars. With its industrial past, it looks pretty downtrodden in general, but definitely has areas of charm.
  • Lots of graffiti and trash all around
All in all, Ireland was a wonderful first foray (for Mark and I) to Europe, for what we hope will be many trips in the future.

Next up: Italy (someday soon, we hope)! Until then, enjoy pix of our trip!

A beautiful alley way in Cork 
The Bakers in Kinsale
Kinsale Great Blue Heron
Blarney Castle 
Blarney House on the grounds of Blarney Castle - it's still a family home open to tourists in the summer 
The view from below - kissing the Blarney stone
Swag 
Cliffs of Moher - look closely at the last cliff o see the tower. Approx. 3km out to it. 
The other, closer, tower 
Making friends with the locals
Meeeeee 
Cairns

Our free beers. Annalisse took about four sips..

Dublin Castle in the center of Dublin
St. Audoen's Church - the oldest medieval church in Dublin. Supposedly the most haunted site in Dublin.
Cliffs of Moher
St. Audoen's Church

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One down...one to go!

Cam and his buddies
What a momentous weekend! Cam graduated with pomp and circumstance on Saturday. I can't believe his formal educational journey is over (unless he gets a doctorate...). The years have been filled with lots of anxiety (on my part, about grades) and worrying about getting things done on time and hoping he finds the motivation to do his best (still not sure he totally "did his best" at all times), but my work here is done. Relief!!!

He attended the all-college convocation on Friday while Annalisse and I did various running around, and on Saturday morning, we all attended (well a lot of us) the College of Science graduation. It was wrapped up in a tidy 1 1/2 hours, after which we took some pictures and stopped by the COS reception before heading to a nice lunch at The Lodge at Woodcliff. A very special day!!! We are so proud that Cam was able to finish strong, and look forward to seeing how his career unfolds for him.

We had a good (quick trip) to Rockville, MD on Tuesday/Wednesday which turned out to be for two interviews instead of just one. He had the interview with Omnitec (contracting to NIH) scheduled for 11am, but he had gotten an email on our way down saying that a company in Bethesda also wanted to speak with him, so he had an informal meeting with the manager for a position at the Walter Reed Medical Center at 8am on Wednesday before heading to his 11am interview. He thought the interviews went well, and is more interested in the Walter Reed position, but, alas, has not yet heard back on that one. He's going to follow up with them tomorrow. He felt the position with Omnitec was more like a co-op, and well below his skills and training. In a nutshell, he thought he would be super bored and not getting great experience, and would like to hold out for something more at his level of training and expertise.

This week he'll start the process of moving home, as he puts the finishing touches on his thesis and concentrates on really looking for a position.

We are heading into another busy week which will find us taking Annalisse to Toronto on Tuesday for her flight to Pisa. Off she goes!! Then two weeks from tomorrow, we will be heading to the Emerald Isle! Can't wait!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bakers on the move

The next couple of weeks will find a lot of Bakers coming and going and coming and going, starting with a quick trip down to Rockville, MD for Cam's first in-person job interview. The company seems to contract to government agencies, and with his background,  if he got the job, he might end up at a place like the NIH. One step at a time, though. Please send positive vibes!

Our busy week will culminate in Cam's graduation from RIT on Saturday morning (8:30am). I know he's a little stressed trying to finish things up, but the finish line is in sight! After graduation we will go for a nice lunch at Woodcliff, then decide the strategy for moving him home before June 1.

Then, a week from tomorrow we bring Annalisse to Toronto for her flight to Italy for her study abroad (studying the Mediterranean diet for two weeks). Then, two weeks after that we will be in Dublin for a week! YAY! Just about everything is set for our trip except the rental car from Dublin to the Cork area and our accommodations in the south.

Other than that, we are just trying to keep warm after the recent cold snap. Really, Rochester? I know it was a mild winter but the spring does not need to feel like November. Brrrrr!!! The back garden is cleared out and just waiting for the new crop of herbs. Maybe this weekend. With the cold wind and sleet this past weekend I'm sure they would not have made it very well.

I know it's Monday, but try to make it a great one!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Green

Everything is so green right now. The buds and plants are popping, and lawns are lush from a rainy spring. It's so wooonnndddeeerrrfulll!

I waited all week, looking forward to Saturday when I had big plans to start my day with a delicious chocolate croissant from Amazing Grains Bakery after a walk to the (first weekend opened) Fairport Farmer's Market. Then, my goal was to get my very weedy herb garden hoed and raked out. All was accomplished, plus a nap on the sunny window seat. HEAVEN.

On Friday, I left work a little early to go to Mom S.'s place as the movers were (finally) scheduled to arrive around 4pm. I stayed to help unwrap stuff, and Mark came after work to relieve me while I went home to walk Jasper. What a disaster this move has been. A lot of her stuff was damaged, including her beloved piano, which the movers must have dropped as the bottom was broken, parts of it were take off, and there were big chips of wood broken off. Additionally, she is missing some boxes. She is going to call the mover today and hopefully she'll get some resolution and answers. It's a been bit of a traumatic week for her between the stress of moving, being without her stuff for a week, then having it arrive damaged and missing. I'm hoping this week goes better for her ~ she's been pretty upset.

Yesterday we celebrated a nice Mother's Day characterized by eating, eating, eating. After church, Jim and Nara hosted us at the Rochester Yacht Club for a Mother's Day lunch, then we had early reservations for dinner with Mom S. and Pat at Warfield's Restaurant in Clifton Springs. Both meals were great and the company was wonderful, but, boy! was that a lot of eating!

Unfortunately, it's Monday again and I have to once again begin the countdown to the weekend. Annalisse comes home tomorrow night, so things around here should become a little more animated when she's around. Please send good thoughts to her as she has two finals tomorrow (Tuesday), and she's a little worried about her Nutrition Education exam. Then, two weeks from tomorrow she departs for her trip to Italy. Wow, did that year go fast, or what?!

Monday, May 2, 2016

On the move...and other news!

Well, hello there. Yes, I've been busy, and a little lazy, too. Welcome back!

This past weekend could definitely be defined with one word: MOVING.

Moving Part I: On Friday, Mark and I took a quick trip down to Alexandria to load up our car and Mom's car for her move back to Rochester. We are super happy to have her back, but she is very sad about leaving the kids, and it will be a big adjustment for her to be back. We were there for just a day. I left at 6:30am on Saturday morning to head back with my full car, while Mom and Mark waited for the movers, who were supposed to arrive between noon-2pm. Well, they got a call saying the movers would not arrive until between 4-5pm, and it was 5:30 by the time they showed up, and 8:30 by the time they left. Mom and Mark finally left Virginia at 8:45pm, and arrived in Fairport at 4:45am. What a night. Thankfully they made it home safely as, in addition to being up all night, the weather was pouring rain all the way.

Moving Part II: Last Wednesday, Nic and Patrick closed on their house in East Rochester, and took through the weekend to paint and repair different items. They moved all their stuff in on Saturday, and have been trying to get settled. They've had company from out of town to help out so I've not gotten in the way, but may try to help them get settled this week if they have a project or two I can do.

In other Baker news: On April 21 (JASPER'S 9th BIRTHDAY!), Cam successfully defended his Master's thesis, and made some further tweaks last week before handing in the edited version on Thursday. WHEW! Now, he just needs to finish up his incomplete from last term. We've decided on a nice luncheon at The Lodge at Woodcliff following his graduation on May 21. Now, to find a job...!!

In Trip News: We've booked our accommodations for our trip to Ireland, and now just need to figure out the rental car situation. Two of the rentals (through Airbnb) are apartments in Dublin, and in Cork we will be staying in a pre-1800s (modernized) thatched roof cottage. It will definitely be an expensive jaunt, but we are very much looking forward to it.

Other than that, somehow the weeks fill up and I'm left with very little "down time." The spring weather remains cold, dark and rainy - probably payment for our mild winter. But, a bright spot: the Fairport Farmer's Market opens this weekend, so it can't be all that bad!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Honky Tonk Girl

Last night around midnight I got home from my week in Nashville, where I visited from Tuesday-Friday for the NAGAP conference. What a fun trip! I had the opportunity to spend time with my old college roommate, Linda, whom I had not seen since I was pregnant with Annalisse (as happens with good friends, we picked up right where we left off!). She lives about 45 minutes outside of Nashville, and came for the afternoon and spent the evening with me so she would not have to drive home late at night. I got in around 1pm, and we connected around 3pm and walked around a bit, going in and out of the honky tonks, had a nice dinner, and went to listen to some more music. Wow, were there great bands in the bars, and there is music literally everywhere you go in Nashville. So much talent. I was especially mesmerized by "Slick Joe Fick," a very well know "slap" bassist who had a role in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

Here's a sample of amazing and entertaining Joe Fisk playing with Harry Fontana:


Now, I think I've mentioned in this blog before that I'm not super crazy about country music, except for the classic stuff I grew up with. I also like rockability and old fashioned blue grass. But, I couldn't deny the engaging qualities of the musicians along Broadway, which was just two blocks from my hotel. On Wednesday morning, before the conference I visited the Johnny Cash Museum, which was also awesome and had tons of authentic items in it.

Once the conference began I was busy attending sessions, networking, and visiting with old friends. It was a great week!! ~ and of course I ate too much...

Another notable milestone this week: Mom and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary. I just love having Mom's beautiful wedding dress hanging from the guest bedroom door. It's so special to look at, I find myself gazing at it a lot.

Things are winding down for the kids' spring term. Cam has his masters thesis defense this Thursday, then he'll need to focus on finishing off his incomplete from the fall term and wrap up his academic career at RIT. Then, of course, it would be nice if he could find a job!

Annalisse is a little stressed. She has one course in which she's not doing as well as she would like, and she found out late last week that there was a chance she might have a take home exam in that class (good news), but that the professor changed her mind and it will be an in-class exam (bad news). Her professor also threw in a last minute video project. Keep going, 'Lisse. Just a little longer and you'll be on your way to Italy (May 24)!!

Speaking of countries that begin with "I," last Sunday we booked our plane tickets to Ireland for early June. YAYYYYY! In the next week or two I have to finish up booking our accommodations, then we will be ON OUR WAY! We're very excited!!

Today has been a beautiful, warm and sunny spring day. Mark and I did a bit of yardwork and cleaned out the garage. A real gift of a day!

Check back for a fun Thursday celebration of Jasper's 9th birthday! I see a nice vanilla custard in his future...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

And then I blinked...and it was April!!

Welcome to April (3rd), a day of blustery snow and howling winds. What an interesting interpretation of "April Showers."

Since my blog entry, Easter has come and gone, and we've had some amazingly warm and sunny weather. Even Pup got a nice bath last Sunday, and we spent time baking in the sun while he dried. Easter was not super eventful. We did frittata and fixins' for brunch after church, then did some stuff around the house (like the aforementioned bath), took some nice walks, took a nap, took Cam back to school, then, when we started to get hungry around dinnertime, went out looking for somewhere to eat. You guessed it: not much was open because, after all, it was Easter and restaurant workers wanted to be home with their families. We ended up at Panera, which was lame, but at the same time "fine" since we didn't want a huge dinner, just a "little something." Annalisse didn't come home since she had just gone back (after break) the weekend before, so it was really low key group, but a nice time spent with Pat, Nic, Patrick, Cam and Morey, who came over for a little while to have a bite before heading to the Highlands to spend the day with Ann (who is not doing very well).

This weekend has also been a busy one. Friday was an especially long and event-packed day which started at the usual time, and ended at 4am on Saturday morning. I took the day off to take Cam to Buffalo for his flight to San Diego (via NYC) for the Experimental Biology Conference, at which he is presenting his research via poster presentation today (Sunday). Of course, his flight was delayed out of Buffalo, and he his missed his connecting flight to SD. He texted me from the runway at 9:22pm to say that they were finally taxiing out. You do the math. The plane landed in San Diego at 3:15am (our time), and he texted he had gotten to the hotel around 3:45am (12:45am his time). So, that was a relief. We have the pleasure of picking him up at 7:30am in Buffalo on Tuesday morning, so he can get back in time to get to his classes.

Additionally, Annalisse's improv group, Zamboni Revolution, took part in an Improv Festival at RIT on Friday night. They went on stage for the last 1 hour set which began at 9:30pm (wayyyyyy past my bedtime), and we got home from that around 11pm. Tired! We went out to dinner with friends Carol and Michael before, so it was a fun night. Three (+ Annalisse) out of the seven members came to Rochester, and the kids spent the night at our house. They also had a late night, getting back from the Improv Festival afterparty at 3am. So, that's why my Friday really didn't end until the wee hours of Saturday. It's all good, though. They are really nice kids and we had a great breakfast before they headed back to Syracuse around 11am. Everyone was psyched to watch the men's Final Four game Saturday night, which they unfortunately, lost.

This week will find me hosting a Traveling Vineyards Wine Tasting event on Thursday night, presented by my good friend, Heather, then I'll be counting the days until I leave for the NAGAP conference on April 12.

In the meantime, I'll be biding my time, waiting for the snow to melt and the temps to go back up so I can continue the wonderful work of looking forward to spring.

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Beautiful"

It was an amazingly beautiful weekend weather-wise, ....and my sisters (and Nicole) and I saw the Carole King musical "Beautiful"  on Saturday. We were in the nosebleed section, but it was really good. Apparently, Mary cried for the entire last 15 minutes as she remembered her teen-hood and the feelings Carole King's music evoked. A fun, fun day.

While the girls were doing girl-stuff, the boys visited several pubs trying different brews. They started at Rohrbach's for a German lunch, then came back to the Village of Fairport and walked to a couple of the Village haunts. We met up at the Gate House at Village Gate Square at 5pm, had a great dinner, then came home for dessert and some rousing games of BINGO. The Walldroffs walked away with the big spoils again this time...do I see a pattern here? Poor Cam, he didn't win again...I don't think he can appreciate the "rush" (!) that comes when you yell "BINGO!" and collect all those quarters. Hopefully, we can get him to play again!! His time will come.

On Sunday we ushered in Daylight Savings Time (YAY!!), and drove to Oswego to pick up Annalisse who had gone to Alex's for his track team prom. They looked very cute. She's home for a week now, and I've taken today off to do girl stuff like getting an awesome foot massage at Happy Feet. Ahhhh....  Then, she has a series of things she wants to accomplish this week, in addition to hanging with her pup!

On Thursday, I cannnnnoootttt wait to have corned beef and cabbage. And remember, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's day!


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Housework Sunday

Here's a really compelling topic for a blog post: How we did housework all day Sunday...and, boy did it feel good!

The days are getting nicer now (weather-wise), and we have been blessed with a couple of sunny, warmish Sundays, which has been awesome. After church (and a bite to eat) this morning, Mark and I went to work on some much needed vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and cleaning of the kitchen floor and washing the rugs. So. Much. Dust. So. Much. Doghair. If we didn't love him so much...

One of the things I finally did this weekend was to catch the dry cleaning guy when he was delivering an order back to us on Saturday, and I arranged for my mother's wedding dress to be dry cleaned. They are going to clean it and "heirloom" package it where they put it in a sealed box. That will be cool - I'll put it up in the attic with my dress which is also in sealed box. Both of which my daughter will probably never wear!!!

Another thing I did was that I washed a big bag of baby clothes, blankets, and booties that I brought home from the Massena attic. Of course, they are all girls clothes, and I expect they are clothes that all three of us used. That was a super fun exercise, and I only got rid of a couple of pieces that had stains or were too well worn. The clothes are so cute! I can't wait until my granddaughter(s?) wear them some day!! I will show them to my sisters when they are here next week - they will get a kick out of them.

So, it's Sunday night and I am hoping I will be able to stay awake for the Downtown Abbey finale, since my coworkers are sure to be talking about it tomorrow. This week will take me to Schenectady for a college fair, where I will having dinner with my fun friend, Cammie from Saratoga. Otherwise, we are looking forward to a fun weekend when we go see "Beautiful" at the Auditorium Theatre, followed by dinner and a rousing game of BINGO.

Also, I saw my first robin today! Have a great week!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap, Baby, Leap!


Isn't it so cool that today is February 29, leap year day?! I think it would be wickedly fun to have a birthday or something like a wedding anniversary on this date (which, apparently - according to Facebook - one of my coworkers does...).

This is actually my third Leap Year post since the inception of the Fabulous B@ker Blog. You can read the first entry here, and the second entry here.

I work with some negative naysayers, and when I mentioned how fun it would be to have a leap year birthday, one of them launched into a tirade about how that would not be a good idea (computer systems get confused, when do you celebrate in the "off" years, etc.). Still, I think it would be awesome. Another young lady I work with is about ready to give birth to her third son, so I instructed her today would be an ideal day for Bryce to make his entrance into the world...alas, Bryce seems to have other ideas (but the day's not over yet!!).

So, I hope you were able to make the most of your extra day. On a non-related note, Daylight Savings Time starts in two weeks. YAY, almost there!!!

(Now let's get onto March and the first day of spring!!!)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Winter Makes Me Cranky

Perhaps you have noticed that I have not been posting much. It's mostly because this cold, dark, rainy, snowy February has been the longest shortest month. When I get home from work, all I want to do is to get into my fluffy clothes, eat dinner, take pup for a quick walk after dinner, and head upstairs to my "cave" to read, watch TV or some online show, and head to bed around 8:30 - 9pm if I really push it. I'm certainly not getting the most out of my days (which also makes me cranky), and it seems I'm just biding my time, waiting for the next season to arrive. So, all of this makes me very cranky.

In addition to winter in general, other things that are making me cranky these days:

  • Owing income taxes
  • Mom's house is still not sold
  • My waistline is expanding and I have not exercised, per my New Year's resolution. 
Things that make me moderately cranky:
  • Cam got an "I" (incomplete) grade in the fall term that he as not yet resolved. Grrrr... GET.IT.DONE.
  • Cam had a phone interview for a really cool job in Baltimore (not cranky), but has not yet heard if he'll be invited down for an interview (cranky). I told him he should probably follow up today. It would be nice to have something lined up before he graduates.
  • I will probably be booking our trip to Ireland in the next month (this makes me both cranky/not cranky since I have to wait for another paycheck - or two).
  • Last week we had a whopper of a snow storm. Cranky: the snow was a pain in the *ss to deal with. Not Cranky: SNOW DAY!
Things that make me not at all cranky:
  • I paid off the Honda today (Yay!).
  • Annalisse is coming home tomorrow and we'll have a fun family weekend.
  • We had a fun birthday celebration with Cam and his roommates at Havana Cabana. Five strapping boys, appetizers, fancy drinks and dinners all around - not a cheap bill, but a fun night !!
  • On Saturday, we had a great dinner with friends at Victoire, followed by an excellent rendition of To Kill a Mockngbird at Geva.
  • Daylight savings time is coming in two weeks, and the first day of spring, on the calendar anyway, is just around the corner.
  • In April, Cam will fly to San Diego to present (poster presentation) at the ASBMB conference (I haven't heard of it either...)
And, there's no way you could feel cranky after watching this:


Finally, this is a leap year! Let's make the most of our extra day!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

May I recommend...?

In the past couple of weeks I finished a book and a TV series that I feel compelled to recommend because they were both so good, and really engaging.

First up, may I recommend The Boys in the Boat, a true story about an underdog rowing team from the University of Washington (as in Washington state) and their bid for the 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin on the cusp of Hitler's rise to power. This book was soooo interesting, and not just because our kids were in crew (that made it very interesting, though, as I understood the incredibly important role of the coxswain better), but because of the deep dive the author took into this event in history, and the interesting way he presented all the characters' background.

In the spirit of Laura Hillenbran's Unbroken (fun fact: Louis Zamperini, Unbroken's protagonist, also competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, as did the famous Jesse Owens) and SeabiscuitThe Boys in the Boat was a real page turner and an excellent book. Seabiscuit, Unbroken, and The Boys in the Boat are all set in the same era. What an interesting time in history! Another interesting tidbit: Did you know that the Berlin Olympics was the first time the Olympic torch was carried from Greece to the olympic site? As described in the book (and on Wikipedia!),  Adolf Hitler saw the link with the ancient Games as the perfect way to illustrate his belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich. Cam read the book over Christmas break, and Mark is reading it now...highly unusual since he's not much of a reader, but he's pulled in as well. Just an excellent read!

Then, just this afternoon I finished (binge) watching "Making a Murderer", a 10 episode true crime documentary on Netflix. Whoa. People have been talking about this series since it aired in December (2015), so I decided to tune it to see what all the hubbub was about. IT IS UNBELIEVABLE. The true story of Steven Avery who was wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for a rape he did not commit, and was released when the true attacker was identified, only to be arrested two years later, charged with murder. The defense in the murder charge made a VERY strong case for corruption in the police force, which resulted in targeting Avery and possibly framing him in the murder (he had a pending civil suit against key members of the law enforcement in his town because of the previous wrongful imprisonment). You may have your own opinion, but it's my opinion that he (and his nephew, who was also pulled into the case) were wrongly convicted, and a lot of people in America feel the same. What a disturbing miscarriage of justice. Last week Dateline had an special on the case, but I have not had a chance to watch it yet. A really compelling and very disturbing abuse of power by law enforcement. Catch it if you can.

While you know I am no fan of winter, it does provide a great excuse to read and catch up on good TV. Am I right?!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Future TV Wellness Guru

As you may remember, Annalisse is studying Nutrition and Dietetics at college. As she enters the spring term of her junior year, she is starting to understand a little about what her future interests will be. Will she be a nutrition educator and counselor? Will she work in a clinical setting like a hospital or a nursing home? Will she work with children? The elderly? Eating disorders?

My advice to her: Become a registered dietitian and get a great gig on one of the morning shows advising on nutrition and wellness topics! I think she's beginning to explore ways that she can use her outgoing, friendly personality in this profession. After all, you might be the smartest nutritionist in the room, but if you can't connect with people how effective will you be?

So, here is a little demo video she made last week. It's not great, but at least, when she's on the Today Show, you can say you saw a video of her when she was still in college!

"I Survived the Blizzard of '16"


Just like being there

Here I am, safe and sound in the north where there is no (or very little) snow. Unless you live in a cave you probably heard about the massive, historic blizzard that hit the northeast last weekend. Of course, one of the hardest places hit was Washington, DC, where I had spent the week and had hoped to depart from on the weekend.

But no. My plans for leaving Saturday, then Sunday, were scrapped by the big storm, which was actually a pretty bad one and lived up to its hype. Complicating things was the fact that the DC area (and areas east, west, north, and south) were not prepared to deal with the management and removal of upwards of 2' of snow. So, with much determination (and $100 spent paying kids to shovel me out over several occasions), I "escaped" the frozen wasteland of Northern Virginia on Monday afternoon.

Other than the exciting storm, I spent a very pleasant week with Mom Shiao. After her daily treatments and any other running around we needed to do, we settled into a comfortable routine of hanging out in our fluffy leisurewear, watched some great movies, eating some great food, and she even taught me to play scrabble (I'm not very good at picturing words in my head, that became quickly obvious). We had lots of laughs and a lot of great conversation. I was able to work from there in the afternoon so I could keep up with my email, and could run reports and respond to issues and requests back at the office. On Wednesday afternoon I had a delicious lunch with my NAGAP friend, Fran from Marymount University - it was great to see her and catch up!!

Now I'm settled back at home with Mark and Jasper, hunkering down and filling up the weeks and weekends to make the time fly by until spring. Just in case you've forgotten, Groundhog's Day is next Tuesday  - we are almost there (after what has admittedly been a very mild winter [but not for DC!!])

Six more weeks...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Week in Virginny

I write to you from Mom Shiao's comfy couch in Alexandria, Virginia, where I'm spending a week hanging with her in her cute, sunny apartment and helping out where I can while she goes for her daily radiation treatments (which end next Tuesday) for lymphoma. Don't worry - she's doing great! Mark and I just thought it might be nice for me to come down and lend a hand.

So, this week will find us spending the mornings at her treatments, and in the afternoons I will try to catch up on my "work work." Mark is home all alone with pup, as the kids are back at school. Annalisse's classes start on Tuesday, and Cam's not until next week but apparently he wanted to go back a week early and work out with the crew team.

And so the Bakers are scattered once again after a wonderful break!