24 December 2007

HO HO HO! Merry Christmas!

Santa (and elves...) have been to our house - hope they find you, too!

23 December 2007

All I Want For Christmas Is A Raincoat For My House

The kids played their last hockey game of 2007 this morning, at the relatively civilized hour of 8:50am. After, we divided. Chris took Lars for a last shopping run while Ross and I gave the downstairs a quick once-over and then started making blue cheese bacon puffs to eat with our friend Rob, who came over to watch the Bills vs. Giants game. We were planning to do wings and fries but we couldn't get any wings, so it ended up being pizza. The Bills dominated the first quarter and put up a good effort but the Giants earned a decisive win in the end with some great plays (88yd turnover TD, anyone?). Rob brought the kids little RC tanks with instructions in Engrish that took a while to figure out but once we got them set up, the kids busied themselves building The Biggest Barricade Ever! out of their sneakers and the fort walls that came with the toys. The tanks are parked in the plaid chair, for easy access in the morning since there's no school.

It was raining a bit when Rob headed home, so Chris checked the basement. We still like to do a happy dance when it's dry - or at least I do, since 1/3 of my kitchen remodel fund is down there - but, alas, no dancing today. The rain driving in from the south pounded the large windows in the kitchen and dining room on that side of our house harshly enough to make pools in the windowsills. This, and the dirt clogging the sill drains combined to cause the water to leak through the window frames, onto the floors and then to drip down through the floorboards into the basement. (What is it about holidays that causes rain in the basements of Blackman homes? At least ours wasn't sewage, for which I am VERY thankful!) We pressed all our scrap towels into service soaking up the puddles and Chris did his best to clear the sill drains - not an easy task in the driving rain or in the dark. As long as we were wet and busy with the windows on a dark December night, I got out ammonia and a scrubby and took the fall grime off. This had the unplanned yet delightful side effect of cleaning my rings, so they are sparkling brightly now and, with another glass of rum (thanks, Rob!), I might just be able to be distracted from the monsoon coming into our house from the south.

22 December 2007

The First Year, We Were Scared

We'd been in our new house for three weeks before we were startled one afternoon by blaring sirens and the loud, blatting honks of the Fire Chief's jeep. Worried because they sounded so close, we looked out the windows and saw the trucks coming to a slow stop IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE. Hearts pounding, we sniffed the air and looked for the children. Then we noticed the neighbors' kids running toward Santa, perched atop the Ladder Truck!

Four years later, our kids' inner clocks are now set to listen for the sirens on the Saturday before Christmas. They keep shoes by the door, ready to spring out whenever Santa might drive by. Lars heard his the sirens first this year and everyone jumped into shoes while I grabbed the camera. It's fun to see all our neighbors at once! We got to meet Minnie, the new puppy across the street and catch up with everyone's holiday plans. We'd been standing outside long enough to be officially chilly and were starting to wonder if Santa and his chauffeurs had been called to duty when we saw them coming! Having Santa come by our house is SO much better than suffering the mall! We might not get tree ornament style pictures out of it, but the home-based memories of seeing Santa with all the kids' friends on the block will survive, good photos or no.

20 December 2007

Tooth #7

9:09pm, feet on the stairs. A serious voice, "Mama, I need to tell you something."

"Ok," I call and with my verbal permission, Ross appears fully downstairs.

"I was in my bed and I heard something 'pop'. I went to the bathroom and, apparently, my tooth came out." He extends a palm showing the apparent tooth and gives a not-so-toothy grin. This is the fourth tooth he's yanked out in the hour or two after bedtime.

"What made it apparent that your tooth came out?"

"Mama," he giggles, "It's here in my hand!"
How will he stave off bedtime when he runs out of baby teeth?

07 December 2007

The Force Has Been Used

Confronted by this grisly scene on your desk, would you take it as some sort of warning?

06 December 2007

The Next Train's Not Until When?

I am stuck in Syosset. By the trains, I am now nearly four hours from home. I missed the two-and-a-half hours from home train by three minutes. I am having murderous thoughts about that guy who just HAD to extend the meeting by ten minutes to discuss a personal agenda. The worst? I have to be out here again, tomorrow morning at 10:00. Here's hoping I get home in time to get the train back!

With nods to SpiceGirl & Joy's month of being thankful, I am incredibly thankful right now for the Dunkin' in the train station parking lot, where I've got food, an outlet to save my battery, and a weak but useful wireless connection. Thank you, open router person...thank you.

04 December 2007

Tuesday Is My Day to Take the Blame

...but not for this. This is entirely the fault of our dentist. She has known Ross a long time - more than his whole life, in fact - and she enjoys facilitating. We love her!

03 December 2007

Nobody Heralds the Holidays like Rick Jeanneret

Actually, nobody heralds anything like Rick Jeanneret, but I think he does especially well with the holiday cheer!

In other news, I'm getting my USA Hockey Ice Coaching certification. I took the Level 1 course last weekend and hope to have completed Level 4 by the end of 2008.

02 December 2007

First NHL Bruise

The kids got to watch the NHL players skate warm-up before the game Friday night. Lars, enthralled, had his forehead pressed against the glass. During the butterfly drill, one of the players winged a one-timer from the point that hit the glass where Lars had his head and gave Lars his very first NHL bruise! See that purple lump with the red middle, just above his radiator scar? That's from getting hit by an NHL puck! As Lars said, hopefully it will be the first of many - he couldn't be more proud.

The Bears skated well as the Mites-on-Ice that night. You can see the video here, if you'd like. After they skated, they got chocolate ice cream (see Lars' chin...) and cotton candy which probably isn't good for my reputation.

29 November 2007

Blackman Has The Puck!

I skated team practice tonight! I almost made it the entire hour and a half but decided to err on the side of caution and sat out the last ten minutes or so when I got to the far side of discomfort. An hour later, there isn't much swelling and I'm medicating with a beer so I think I've got some hockey feet again!

Question: The spider web I've just noticed in the top corner of my den window has an impressive collection of little gnats trapped in it. Should I let the spider stay? She hasn't been there very long - I actually vacuumed in here (I hope you were sitting down, Mom...) last weekend.

19 November 2007

Youth is...

Youth is snapping your fingers at a red light 32 times and still being delighted when it turns green with snap 33.

18 November 2007

Banner Day

I skated today! The cobbler put extra grommets in the back of my skate boot, so the tie doesn't land right across the break anymore and I grabbed a few minutes of ice time before the kids got on this morning to test the modification. Happily, I think it'll work and I'm going to see if I can start skating practice after Thanksgiving!

17 November 2007

9:00am...Time for Lunch

We're seeing a lot of early weekend mornings this year because we have to get the kids to their hockey games which, at Mites level, usually start around 7:00am. Our club usually has an away game on Saturday, so we have to get an extra early start for the travel.

We've been trying to find ways to make these early morning hours more palatable but 5:30am is difficult to combat
on any day and Saturday is worst. Last night, Chris had the idea to call our Starbucks and put in our order so it could be ready first thing and we could just grab it. Staying in town until 6am for the pick-up would put us just on the edge of late but we figured having coffee would be better than not, so I called.

Nicole gladly took our order but then called me back, really apologetic because they don't open until 7:00am on weekends and I'd asked for the order at 6:00am. She'd checked with the opening staff and they could get in early to do our order but it wouldn't be ready until 6:15. I was touched that she'd gone to the trouble of asking the guys to come in early and even more that they were willing to come in for us...but 6:15 would have made us really late for the game, so I had to just cancel the order. I'm not sure which one of us was sorrier!

We were unquestionably on-time for the game and the kids played well despite their parents' slightly groggy overcast. We stopped for coffee on the way home, which worked out fine as it was still only 8:45am. We got bagles, too, since the kids were asking for lunch and going home for bologna just seemed wrong at that hour.

15 November 2007

Room Perimeters

The third grade is learning about personal measurement references. One of the homework assignments this week was to pace out the perimeter of your bedroom and some other room in your house, which you were to draw on the back of the paper. Ross picked my and Chris' bedroom as his other room and very carefully drew a floor plan on the back. He paced around our bedroom and bathroom, very carefully drawing his paces in little circles around his floor plan. He also drew in the toilet at the far end of our bathroom and our bed, neatly made (as if...), with Chris lounging atop it, his feet toward the pillows and a Pilgrim-buckled hat on his head. I'm hoping the absurd hat didn't call into question the (equally absurd) neatness of our bed covers!

12 November 2007

Your Cadaver, Sir

Driving to an away game, Chris and I were discussing whether organ doners can become research cadavers. Attempting to argue for the contrary, I proposed the scavenged bodies could be handed to prospective dissectors with an immediate pop quiz, "Here's your cadaver, what's missing?"

Over Chris' derisive snort, Lars called from the back, "Abra!"

11 November 2007

Mites & Midgets

Today was Mites & Midgets Day, an annual torch-passing ceremony for the kids' hockey club, celebrated with the youngest team at the last home game of the oldest team. The Mites (youngest kids) have a game in the morning, then get breakfast in the rink's banquet room. After breakfast, they go into the locker room with the Midgets (oldest kids) and hang out. The Midgets come out to help with Mite practices, sometimes, so the kids aren't strangers to each other. The two teams also have the same head coach this year, so he knows all the kids quite well and had a good time pairing them up.

After the locker room pow-wow, the Mites got on the ice to participate in the game introductions and a ceremonial puck drop to commemorate the last time these older kids will play on home ice for the Bears. Here's a video of the game intro:

The ceremonial puck was dropped by a Mite (name picked from a hat):

After the opening ceremony, the little kids went back up to the banquet room for a hockey-puck pinata and got commemorative T-shirts from the Midget Moms. It was a sweet day. As I stood watching the puck drop, Mites between Midgets twice their size, I sighed and said, "Tomorrow." The mother next to me chuckled, "Yesterday," in response and I knew she knew exactly what I meant.

08 November 2007

Would You Move Your Bag?

I sank into a seat on a train from the Lower East Side to Columbus Circle today, grateful for the rest especially since my phone can't ring in the subway. I had my briefcase across my lap - it's exactly the width of the subway seat divisions, so I don't seep into the next chair but the train wasn't crowded and there was an empty chair between me and the next guy. A stop after I got on, a large woman boarded, surveyed the train and decided to sit in the empty chair beside me. The problem was that she was considerably wider than a single chair. She MUST know this, yet she still sat down...half of her right on top of me! I figured she'd get right up but no - she glared at me instead and said nastily, "Would you move your bag?"

07 November 2007

Wordless Wednesday

None of the things I can think of to write about just now are very nice...so I'm not going to write them. Hope your day was better!

06 November 2007

Exercising My Right

Voting scares me - it feels like a test I've had a year (or four) to prepare for and yet, every time I get into the little booth, I feel like I haven't studied. I'm generally aware of the candidates for major positions but some of the minor lines throw me. County Clerk? I have to vote for that person? What sort of platform should I expect, "I will faithfully record County real estate transactions and will do my best to ensure name changes are filed with the State in timely manner?" How might the platform differ from party to party? No matter how much research I do ahead of the vote, I always feel unqualified to choose.

This year, I had a personal chat with one of the newcomer candidates for town council. He seemed like a nice guy and I agreed with the things he had to say about our town. He was also genuinely interested in my concerns - he even sent me a follow-up letter addressing one point on which he did some research after we talked. I did my own follow-up research and found that, while I liked that guy, I wasn't keen on some of the things his party's been up to.

On the heels of more research than I've done before an election in quite a while, I turned up to vote with a measure of confidence I'm not used to. Still, I found myself torn in the voting booth - would my newcomer be able to change the direction of his party in the ways he talked about? Or would it be better to vote for him but then vote for people from the other parties - people with platforms I also agree with - for surrounding positions? Splitting the ticket is always awful, right? Nobody agrees? Ack! I jabbed some choices, left some blank, and exited the booth feeling the same sort of turmoil as always. Maybe next year I'll get the right answers?

05 November 2007

1010 to 814

I just purged 196 contacts from my Outlook address book - people who or companies that no longer exist or for whom I couldn't gather up a single memory. I kept about 25 entries that I can still "remember" based on notes but, harsh as it may seem, if I can't remember you and the note I put in your entry doesn't help, you're no longer in my address book. I also ditched three entries for people whom I hope to never hear from again...which pretty much means they will call this week. Actually, I sort of hope they do - one of them owes me money.

04 November 2007

It's 10pm - Do You Know Where Your Cousins Are?

Nothing gets a house clean faster than a 10:00pm call from German cousins saying they're stranded at Newark - is that close to your house? We spent the day at a funeral out of state and have to get the kids to a hockey game at 7:25am so, realistically, my house was otherwise not going to get cleaned this weekend. It's pretty shiny now, though, in an I hope they're travel-weary and will be thankful for a warm bed and clean bathroom sort of way. Ah, but who am I kidding? Lately, that's the best anyone's likely to get. The beer's cold and the door's open - come on over!

03 November 2007

Water Protection Improvements, cont.

First, there was the Dry Basement Dance....

As fall first tried to approach this year, Chris and I discussed shelling out the bucks to have our fireplace fixed so we could use it. "Working Fireplace" was one of the reasons we chose this house but, as with many other parts of our house, the fireplace endured an upgrade by the Drunk Uncle and is currently too shallow to use. I fear that human bones will be found behind the false rear wall but our chimney sweep has said he's willing to take that risk - he's brave like that.

Then, fall stalled. Absurdly warm weather returned and we got some torrential rains, which reminded us that our extension ladder is just short of useful for cleaning out the gutters along our top roof. With water pouring out over the edges of our clogged gutters, Chris arranged a visit from one of those maintenance-free gutter companies. I briefly mourned the postponement of the fireplace repair but it poured again that very night and I forgot to be sad. There's always next year, right?

Now, they're threatening us with rain from Hurricane Noel. We're eager to see how our new gutters will perform. Anxious for the leaves to fall and for the gutters to still drain the rain down the appointed spouts rather than spilling over like a waterfall outside my den window and the front door.
It was supposed to start raining today but instead we had one of those gorgeous autumn days they always show in movies. Considering how much we just spent on gutters, Murphy's Law will probably kick into action and save our entire neighborhood from rain for the next six weeks. When it does rain - and you know it will - we'll be ready, complete with several interpretive dances to honor our impressive water management systems and a really, really, awful kitchen.

02 November 2007

A Post-Halloween Observation

Halloween candy wrappers should not say, "It's not a mix up...You're my Valentine!"

01 November 2007

Hope and Healing at Ground Zero

Friends who should be relatives came to town last weekend to sing in a memorial tribute at the WTC site and we took the kids in to hear the part at St. Paul's Chapel on Saturday afternoon.

Ross viewed the memorial displays in the chapel with interest. He was a few months shy of three when the towers came down but has memories of the event. He was dozing on my lap at the end of the day and, thinking he was asleep, I'd tuned in to the news coverage. Suddenly, a matter of fact voice piped up, "Why did the airplane fly into the building? Airplanes don't fly into buildings." I switched off the TV right away but the image had already solidified for him.

After looking at the chapel displays and hearing the concert, Ross wanted to walk over to see the new construction going on where the towers were. We ambled across to see the new site plan and peeked through the fences on our way over to the World Financial Center towers, from which you can get a nice view of the site from above. As we gazed out over the work, Lars found THE BIGGEST PIPE EVER (must be about 15' in diameter) and we hypothesized that it might be the main sewer feed. As most of our party started off down the passage toward lunch, Ross commented in awe, "Wow...that's for a LOT of sh*t."

31 October 2007

Boo! (updated)

Lars as Pokémon Gengar

Ross as Luke Skywalker

Ross as Luke Skywalker with Aniken Enhancement (scar on face).

Gengar did not want purple face makeup, would not stand still for a pre-trick-or-treating picture, and collected 103 pieces of candy (he had to count them and make tally marks as his homework tonight). For those keeping track of the proceedings on Worst.Mama.Ever., Lars completed 68 "I must not carve on furniture" lines in order to be able to go out tonight. When asked if he'd be carving things on furniture again, he snapped, "Mama! No. Really, NO."

Happy Halloween from our house to yours! Chris carved our pumpkins this year Pokémon Gengar (Lars); my hockey team; and Luke Skywalker for Ross. The back of my Wings pumpkin is carved "Bears" for the kids' team. Here's hoping my pumpkin will break the hex and I'll be back on the ice by the end of November!

26 October 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Well, ok, he joined us for breakfast today.

21 October 2007

Rain in the Back Hall (again)

Once upon a time, we had a rainstorm that looked and sounded very, very much as if Niagara Falls was passing through on its' way to Florida or someplace. We marveled at the solid block of water and did the Dry Basement Happy Dance. Later that same week, while making dinner, I thought I heard that sort of rain again but was horrified to find the crashing water pouring through the ceiling into the back hall! It turned out the boys had been bouncing on the PVC upstairs water feed and it hadn't held up. It also turned out that we did not, in fact, have a shut-off to the upstairs...but that's a tale for another time.

More recently, Chris and I were standing in the back hall when water started tricking down again from above. Chris dashed toward the basement where he knows the exact location of the upstairs shut-off valve we now have but, before he got all the way down the stairs, I called him back - it wasn't water. Lars had gotten himself out of bed to use the bathroom and had sleepily missed the pot...the "rain" was boy-made. Thankfully, we haven't fixed the ceiling from the first disaster, so clean up was reasonable and we were chuckling about the poor kid in short order.

Tonight, we were finishing off odds and ends in the den when we heard a tell-tale trickle and we both leaped up! Chris made it to the hall first to discover a sleeping Ross, half-way down the stairs, pants down, peeing. He'd missed the bathroom and had taken the next left - the stairs - and walked down as many steps as it would have taken to get to the toilet, if he'd been in the right room.

Note to self: The back hall is no place for rugs.

15 October 2007


I am always amused when the kids come home with a classic like "Eeenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe." They are always so eager to share the new hip thing and so delighted when I catch on quickly.

"Scissors-Paper-Rock," which came home a while ago, has been making a comeback recently and the kids were playing yesterday in the car. The format is unchanged - fists are plunged three times in the center as the participants chant the title phrase, then hands are whipped into what one hopes will be the winning shape and compared around. A few rounds into the game, we heard both kids chant, "Scissors, Paper, Rock," followed by a triumphant roar of, "LIGHTNING GOD," which beat all.

The times? They have a-changed.

10 October 2007

Stock Tip: Buy SBUX

I drove myself to the train station this morning (!!), stopping on the way for a latte (cue Hallelujah Chorus), which I could carry because I also navigated the city without crutches today! I got a round of applause in my Sbux for walking in on my own feet again, which probably means you would do well to invest now.

Eyes on the Prize

Full coverage and commentary at Worst. Mama. Ever.

09 October 2007

Daily Reading

In first grade, you get one page of math homework and must read for 15 minutes each night, noting your work in a Reading Log. Today, Lars brought home a book from his classroom to read but he decided, instead, to read from a chapter book about dragons that we have here at home.

Lars is a very good reader but he's not THAT good, so I asked him to do his reading out loud for me. He flipped the book open without hesitation, then paused. "Mama, I'm not wanting to do this reading out loud," he said.

"Oh, no?"

He wrinkled his brow at the pages. "I don't know a lot of these words. The letters are the same but the words are all different," he observed.

"That might be a hard book to read out loud, then. Maybe you could try the book you brought home from school first?"

With a sigh, he went to retrieve the book from school. When he was done reading me the book, he made his log entry dutifully but with a hint of a flourish. "Did you know that I will get a sticker on the chart in my classroom if I read at least FIVE books a night?"

"Five? A night?" If so, they've upped the ante considerably from the five per week mark the first grades used when Ross went two years ago. "Do you think it might be five per week? I think five each night is a lot to ask."

He shook his head at me sincerely, "It is five books for each night and I can do it! I really can!" To illustrate this, he sprinted upstairs and returned with a Curious George - the one about the pizza - and began to read. Halfway through, he stopped. "Pizza for dinner is a great idea, Mama. We should take the advice of this book. It's really good advice!"

Does anyone have a copy of Curious George and the Canadian Baked Eggs I can borrow, fast?

08 October 2007

Hikaru Dorodango

Japanese kids take mud play to a whole new level.

A Real Conversation

"Hello, I just got your e-mail, thanks! I see it says X-Y-Z. Do you mean X?"

"Yes, X."

"Ok, that's good. And Y? You mean Y?"

"Yes, Y."

"That's great - I wasn't expecting that. Now, about Z. When are you going to address Z?"

"Z is addressed in my message and there's an attachment to back it up, too."

"You mean you already responded to Z?"

"....Yes. If you'll read my e-mail, you'll find details for Z right after X and Y. And there's an attachment, Z.pdf, which cites other instances of this same issue and details resolution options."

"Well, fine! Fine, then. Now, all I need you to do is send me something detailing our options so I can present them to the client. Can you do that for me today?"

"Sure - in fact, it's already done! Check the attachments to the message I sent. There should be three files, full information on X, Y, and Z."

"Well, that's great then! All I need is for you to send me something I can share with the client."

"You can share these with the client."

"The client needs them printed out. Would you send me six copies? I have a meeting with them tomorrow."

"You can print as many copies of those .pdf files as you need."

"You can't print them for me?"

The conversation ended at this point, because I crawled into the phone and strangled the guy with my compression sock.

27 September 2007

Being Supportive

You know how you're supposed to be supportive of your children, once they get older and start making their own decisions? Take room decor, for example. When we decorated the boys' room, I thought maps would make a good theme but they picked space ships. Even though I wouldn't have made that choice myself, there wasn't anything dangerous about their choice so I threw myself behind it and helped them select coordinating paint. I even hung the spaceship paper myself! (About 25% of it has been ripped off the wall near the upper bunk and another 30% is sagging down because our state motto really ought to be The Humidity State but I still supported their choice.)

Watching the boys make their own decisions is fascinating! At this stage, you can really SEE them think something over. Ross has an especially interesting thinking face - he can run through sixteen different looks in about five seconds and an actual lightbulb appears, illuminated, above his head when he reaches his conclusion. After the fun of watching them think, I feel it's only fair to reward their hard work by letting them actually make the decision. I know this may be contrary to my WME goal, but I'll redeem myself a little by telling you this:


His choice - the NY Rangers (*spit*) - is SO offensive that it has the potential to get him kicked out of the will (well, ok, if there was a will)...and yet, tomorrow night, I'll be escorting him to one of professional hockey's most sacred temples to watch his team play. Worse, it's not even a Sabres contest! (Yes, yes, I do see all my current WMPs flying out the window.) At least my life will not be in jeopardy, as I will not be wearing any noticeable Sabres gear and I will be rooting, loudly, against the other team (NY Islanders). Note: I will NOT be rooting FOR the Rangers - I will be rooting AGAINST the Islanders. I'm hoping that my staunch refusal to support my kid in this matter will at least keep me from getting kicked all the way off WME.

*** Cross-posted at Worst. Mama. Ever. - Blogging here will return soon! ***

24 August 2007

Pinocchio's Nose

The kids are not at all excited about their new hockey team uniforms and I just got those decorations out for Christmas in July.

23 August 2007

If Only I Could Run

I've been partying with my sister-in-law for about seventeen years now, so you would think I'd know to run when she picks up a paint pen late at night but no, I sat still and even helped her move the bottom of my foot to a better angle. Then, I had to wait two days to get home so Chris could picture the bottom of my cast so I could see her work!

This little piggy...

The other side of my toes sport a bright enamel, courtesy of the one-leg & polish pedicure I had in Toronto while on WTHS.

22 August 2007

Class of 1987

We went to Chris' twentieth high school reunion a few weeks ago. We're still in regular contact with a few people he graduated with, like Bibliofilly, but it was great to see some friends we hadn't seen since his 10th. Here's a shot of the gang who managed to figure out which "big tree" in the Fireman's Field Chris meant for everyone to meet under:

They look pretty good!

07 August 2007

The Untold Story

Each tournament I've been to has a story and the most recent one is certainly no exception. I could sit back and let my broken leg reign as THE story of the MS 2007 tournament. I could even laugh and point out the enormous banner for St.Luke's - the hospital that patched me up - hanging in the background of the medals ceremony (I only noticed today when I processed the pictures).

...but my leg doesn't really doesn't deserve top billing. Anyone can break their leg while playing hockey...it takes a special someone, though, to hop into the wrong team bench at the end of her shift!

04 August 2007

Time Out

We're spending this weekend in Bethlehem, PA, where I've been skating in the Hockey Fights MS tournament. I'm skating for a blended team of women from the Central Penn Blades and the Bridgewater Wings - the same gang I skated with last year. It's been fun so far:

Game 1: Win!

Game 2: Win!

Zambonis concert! Nothing like skating to your favorite hockey band!

Game 3: Loss - but we're still in the finals!

...except that I will have to cheer from the side. With 5:34 to go in the third of game 3, I slid into the boards today and fractured my left tibia. Ow! My sister will be glad to know there are good things to be recognized:

* The ER here was fast and everyone was really nice.

* The hotel has A/C - a luxury we have not got at home and would be really longing for tonight.

* I should only be out for 6-8 weeks; should be back on skates just in time to start the regular season.

01 August 2007

Ontario - Yours to Discover

There is no bridge on this road:

There is a giant chicken:

Perhaps the sign is to deter bird naturalists who might object to the cannibalistic overtones of the avian condo development?

31 July 2007

Hello Helio

A few weeks ago, the 7 key on my cell phone stopped working so well. I could dial a 7 but not without REALLY meaning to and making six or eight attempts. It was ok, though - I could still dial numbers easily out of the contacts list and who needs to delete old voicemail messages?

Trouble was suggested when 3 also decided to play hard to get. My work extension has a 3 in it, so I need that 3 key to get into my office voicemail. Still, who am I kidding? I always forget to check my office voicemail anyhow (note to yourself: call my cell if you want something resembling a timely response).

When 6 and 9 joined the party, I got ticked - almost enough to seriously research a good replacement. The 3-in-1 device I've been holding out for the last year finally came out and it just doesn't live up to my hopes. I spent so much time identifying that device that I was just not looking forward to another round of technical reading.

Chris, however, delights in any excuse to spend time at Gizmodo or the tech blogs. So, in the background of my despair, he was industriously working for my cause and I came home one day to find a stack of information on a device I'd never heard of.

Following a minimal amount of my own reading, we went over to the Helio place in the mall and I blog before you today, the proud owner of a Helio Ocean!

After learning the basics and getting all my contacts squared away, the first thing I did was figure out how to add my own .mp3 ringtones and am in the process of assigning signature rings to everyone I know. While this could potentially win me a few cool points, it doesn't as I am so amused by the novelty that I forget to answer the call. If this happens to you, I'm sorry! Leave a message, though...all my number keys work (two sides!) so I can - and will - call you back.

22 July 2007

Forest Friend

Yesterday afternoon, Chris called the house from the front yard where he was mowing. "You'll want to come out here and see this," he said. The boys and I got shoes and headed out to find him standing at the edge of our property, peering at the tiniest rabbit possible. The bunny had thankfully been sitting at the lowest point of the grass drainage run near the road, so it was terribly shocked but unharmed, even though Chris went over its' head with the mower.

There was some discussion about whether or not we could keep it as a pet. While we entertained the notion, Ross made a box for the bunny. He decorated with grass and cedar shavings and put in carrots, tender greens, and water (water dish hadn't made it into the box when I took the picture).

At first, the bunny only crouched in the corner, obviously frightened. All crunched up, he'd have fit inside a tennis ball - really small rabbit! Eventually, though, he started exploring the box. The carrots and clover Ross put in seemed of little interest, so I tried some broccoli and tomato leaves, which went over quite well (obviously - the teethmarks already in the leaves when I picked them are no doubt from this bunny's relations...).

Chris had a valid point that Pixie might have a problem with a rabbit living in the house. After the bunny was used to my hands and would crawl up and down my arms, sniffing, when picked up (instead of huddling into a trembling ball), I took him inside for an introduction. Pixie sniffed the bunny in a bored way, made a singular comment, and then set about pressing her head to my hands, asking to be pet. Clearly, the bunny was only going to be a stress point for her if he interfered with her chances of getting pet!

Pixie did get up a bit of rowdier interest when I let the bunny hop around on the floor briefly but returned to largely ignoring the bunny when I moved it back to the center of the room.

After the kids went to bed, I had the bunny curled up, sleeping, tucked on my lap in a fold of my t-shirt. Pixie asked to come up, an arrangement I figured wouldn't last long...but I was wrong. After Pixie got settled on my lap, the bunny wriggled out of my shirt and settled in next to Pixie, warm and purring. Unbelievable cuteness!

In the end, though, Chris prevailed. Considering Pixie's habits, we can't be sure a mouse-sized bunny would be safe here. So, last night after the kids were asleep, I took the bunny back down where we'd found him. I did tuck him a bit farther into the forest than the drain at the edge but not so far in that he wouldn't be able to find his way out again. We'll surely keep an eye out for tiny nibbles in our garden (although it might be tough to detect tiny nibbles hiding among the mongo nibbles of the other rabbits...).

21 July 2007

Intermediate A

I passed! Despite many clear differences between me and the teenagers otherwise populating the class, I tested well enough in the clinic skills to gain two levels, Basic AA & Intermediate A. I got the clinic patch and the Basic A level stick last year, just for surviving the week. As a returning skater this year, I actually had to show I could do certain skills at the end of the week. The minimal amount of nearly falling over I did while testing was probably canceled out by the downy fresh scent of my hockey sweater, which shocked the instructor (if you've ever been into a skating rink, you'll know that hockey players - even girls - are not known for smelling good).

Chris was very tolerant of my moaning throughout the week (two hours of power skating a day is ouchy) and extremely supportive. Kath, you'll be encouraged to know that I needed a little kick to find the good thing mid-week...Chris filled in with the suggestion that I was the only clinic participant who could recuperate after the session with a nice cold beer, particularly one served by an attentive spouse willing to rub my sore legs. Despite all the pampering, I've asked Chris to try to remember to talk me out of it when I forget all this pain and try to sign up for this clinic again next year. By then, maybe it'll be time to start putting the kids through the torture mill instead of me...

18 July 2007

On the Streets of New York

Yesterday, the temp in NYC reached 87° with 93% humidity. Sane people hid someplace air-conditioned. I dragged twenty-seven pounds of demo equipment into Manhattan for an afternoon presentation.

For this fun, I elected to wear a long, short-sleeved dress casual enough to be worn with Birkenstocks and without stockings. Underneath, I wore a half-slip to keep my legs from sticking to the dress.

If the weather wasn't the first sign that my day was not going to be stellar, the baseball game that filled up every parking lot around the stadium - and my train station - was. I had to park in the most remote lot, about a half-mile away from the train platform. Thankfully, I still made the train! By the time I got to the presentation, I was sweat-soaked but a quick stop in the ladies' revealed that I didn't look as bad as I felt - phew! I made it through the demo, answered questions, and packed up for my return trip. As I walked back toward Penn Station, reflecting that the bad parking karma had balanced the good presentation karma, I felt something very odd around my stomach, as if I'd undone a loose belt, and then I tripped. Recovering awkwardly due to all the gear I was lugging, I found myself standing on Sixth Avenue mid-town, in a puddle of my own slip - the elastic of which had given up. Since nothing really fazes New Yorkers, I stepped out of the puddle, whisking the garment off the sidewalk and into one of my bags. If anyone I knew saw my shining moment, they did not say hello and, for that, I am deeply thankful.

17 July 2007

Back to the Past

A DeLorean DMC-12! In my 'hood! Chris discovered it and instantly called me to make sure I'd drive the right way home (he's useful like that). I spent a few minutes chatting with the owner and got his permission to take pictures (which I will treasure forever in my "brush with a star" collection).

After I took the photos, I gazed at the car lovingly and tried to give off "I would take REALLY good care of this car" vibes but it didn't seem as if he was going to spontaneously gift me the car. It seems that this twenty-year obsession will not be fulfilled. *sigh* At least I have the pants.

Alas, discovering the speedometer only goes to 85mph (?!?) was SERIOUSLY distressing. Time travel velocity is eighty-eight miles per hour! All these years, I've had no idea I've been suspending my disbelief THAT much.

16 July 2007

Aje, Polar Friend

The boys have lately been electing to gift Webkinz to each of their friends as birthday gifts. Considerable thought goes in to the selection of the particular animal and, on occasion, several shops must be called to locate the preferred one. In the midst of all this research on behalf of their friends, Ross and Lars have (of course) been planning their own acquisitions. Lars will start his collection with three polar bears, one called Mask (because our street hockey goalie mask is white and so is a polar bear), one called Lars (in honor of Lars, the Little Polar Bear), one called Whitey (should be painfully obvious). Ross had his heart set on the husky dog.

Chris and I determined that if the boys kept their spaces (bedroom, playroom, the lab) neat, without too many reminders, they would earn a Webkinz each. That was the right motivator! It didn't take long for them to figure out we were serious. We got clean (relatively) rooms, they got Webkinz.

On the lucky day, Lars decided to ride his bike down the road to visit a friend. On his own. He told his brother, who warned him off the venture, but Lars blasted ahead and found himself grounded to the house for 24 hours.

Of course, when one is grounded, one does not earn new Webkinz...so it could have been an even better punishment than we'd anticipated. As the pictures indicate, however, it wasn't the end of his world. While we do think that he won't be attempting a bike ride in the road on his own for a while (like until he's 32), both boys enjoyed checking out the husky who, after much deliberation, has been named Aje ("age," with a "j").

Aje turns out to be very brave and endlessly useful. Chewbacca is especially glad of Aje's dedicated training in Wookie transportation. It was also clear from the start (you see the penguin, right?) that Aje is a Polar Friend. This bodes well for Mask - the two will no doubt be fast friends and will weather many adventures together.


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