Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This time of the year always makes people remember those who aren't around any more and I'm no different. My dad died 28 years ago on December 12, one day after his 30th birthday. I was only 6 1/2 years old but my favorite trait is a good memory and I remember that day and related funeral and wake events quite well and I treasure these memories greatly. My brother was 4 and sister 2, so they really have no recollections beyond what I can share with them from my own. It's the memories that I think help sustain us when a loved one is gone, helps nurture us back to happy times when we think it isn't possible. Memories have a magical ability to change over time and it never gets old to revisit them. Now, with 3 children of mine all under the age of 5, I can't help but note that they might not remember me or Jennie if we were to die early. I've never thought about it before and it seems far fetched considering that we are the constant and dominant figures in their lives.

Anyway, back to memories. One appropriate for the season happened when I was 4 or 5 years old. My dad had just walked in the door from the barn and I told him proudly, "Dad, I just wrapped your socks but you can't have them until Christmas!" I also remember being towed in a loud, red wagon down the road by my dad on several occasions. It didn't occur to me then but I now have 2 questions: Did he not feel like he was getting enough exercise working full time on a farm? And, is that where I got my ability and desire to run?

We now have another opportunity to test our abilities to grieve. My wife's great uncle Arthur Neuhauser passed away this past Sunday at the age of 90. He was an amazing figure to us and we were very close. Since our move to Vermont 8 +years ago, he made the 60 minute flight up from New Jersey 5 or 6 times in the summer for an annual visit to the North Country, all which feeds my memory bank with some real solid material. Like the time he was served a 2nd bloody mary for dinner because he didn't hear the waitress ask him if he wanted another (he just nodded his head and boom, more liquor!). Ever the jester, he told her that it was good thing he wasn't driving home (he couldn't see very well and hadn't driven in years). He's the only person I know who made a new friend after dialing the wrong number. Even better was that the wrong number turned out to be a funeral home. He was trying to call Jennie's parents and got the funeral home in Malone instead. He had such a good conversation with "funeral home Mike" that he spoke with him at least one more time and this time, he didn't call him by accident. This is just one illustration of his belief or unwritten philosophy that people are interesting and by golly, I'm going to get to know as many of them as I can. During one of his visits to Vermont, he had such a good conversation with Tom, a good friend of ours that Tom now has his own Arthur memories

More recently, Baxter barged in on him in the bathroom while he was doing some "business". He didn't scold or ask him to leave, he promptly launched into a story, as was his custom, all while sitting on the commode. The stories were legendary and covered most of the last century. Mostly, I'll remember the conversations during our drives to the Lake or sitting on our porch. The past few visits, we entertained each other with the wonders of Wikipedia. He would recall a particular event from his youth and I would get the details from wiki to test his accuracy, which more often than not was spot on.

We are sad but not in a tragic way. He lived an amazingly full life, was loved by many and was not afraid to shower us with affection, which was not common by men of his generation. I only got to know him and develop a relationship over the past 15 years of his life, so I can only imagine the pain his own family feels. He wasn't my uncle but was something better: he was my good friend and I will miss him.

So during this season and whenever you need to, remember the good times and those we miss will be with us always.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


We hosted out annual Santa party last weekend and had a blast doing it. Yes, we did this while nurturing a 9 day old baby and yes, we are a little crazy. Way back in October, I questioned my wife whether it would be prudent to throw this party while taking care of a 3-4 week old baby (original due date was 11/22). I was met with a sharp rebuke and the party planning was on. Truth be told, we had plenty of help from my in-laws before the party and plenty from my mom & brother after, along with a dish from each guests made it sorta easy in the end.
The party itself was a blast and I can easily say it's become my highlight of the season. Santa and the Mrs are topnotch, even with his bum leg(more on that later) this year, the kids light up and parents are tickled to just watch it unfold. Our house isn't very big and the roof seems at the precipice of lifting off the rafters due to the shear mass of human flesh, but it's all worth it.
Back to Santa: we got a call from Mrs. Claus the day before to let us know they were coming but to avoid sitting on his left leg. Apparently, he was wrestling with Rudolph and got kicked in the leg (or had a muscle biopsy, the details are hazy). Some of the older children were gathering pitchforks and forming lynch mobs for Rudolph at the sound of this story. We were able to pacify them with more sugar cookies.

catching up

OK, I've got loads of stuff and I always feel a little neglectful after shunning the Manny for longer than 3 weeks.

So we had a baby, about 18 days ago. Emmett Mathew was 9lbs, 5oz and 21 1/2 inches long, which means dad is in big trouble. The Poiriers are not big people. My favorite related quote came from a cousin, "I'm five foot nothing and look like a chia pet with my shirt off. I don't know how I landed my wife." So when Mr. Em came out at that size, I wondered how long it would be before I was the smallest in the family (again).
He's a great baby, the benefit of being largish is that he seems mucho happier than his sister ever was at an age that you still count in days, not weeks. Paigey was 6 1/2 lbs and was a miserable little thing until about 6 months. So to sum it up, we're doing great. In fact, it's the older chitlins who are running us ragged.
We're enjoying the winter so far, lots of fireplace time with christmas movies, kettle corn and red wine. Hope your own home fires are burning brightly.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tick, tock, tick , tock

Ok Baby, just come on out, we're waiting.................................not yet? You sure? Ok, while we're killing time on your DUE DATE, let's brush up on your soon-to-be siblings.

Baxter, age 4, big brother, known nicknames-Bax, B, Baxie(not fond of that one, save it for a squabble)
Baxter 1st entered the scene just over 4 years ago and he's an accomplished speaker for his age. You would do well to pay attention and pick up the English language from your brother. He's also quite good with identifying scent and has been known to sniff out cookie breath (caught me onetime when I was putting him to bed) along with the occasional potty smell. He and your Momma were visiting the local science center this past week and while using the bathroom, had the following exchange:
"Wow, that smells like poop Momma!"
Momma replied, "Well, this is a public restroom and people pee and poop here" (obvious company in the neighboring stall, keeping quiet while they do the business)
"Nah, it's really bad Momma, it smells like dog poop." (quick shuffle to get out before this gets any worse)

Paige, age 2 1/2, "big" sister (she's quite small), known nicknames-Paigey, Paigerino
Don't mistake her slightness for being a pushover, she's feisty and has a little entitlement complex that we're working to overturn before it's too late. For example, she routinely thinks I'm a servant (hmm.......maybe she's on to something there). One morning not so long ago, she needed a diaper change in a bad way. I was making breakfast and busy but with Jennie already quite pregnant, I offered to take care of it. Paige responded, "No, momma change me. You make my breakfast."
Paige is also quite adept at smelling, as you could learn from earlier posts. So it's in your best interest to potty train as soon as possible, because you won't have any where to hide from these two nose detectives.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Come on baby, I don't think I can keep it clean much longer!

We are rapidly approaching family of five status. We've reached the point where uttering the sentence, "By this time next week, we'll have an infant home with us", is almost sure to come true. I think we're ready, I've been nesting my tail off this past week readying the house for another mouth to feed (although in our nursing-friendly family, another bum to wipe is more the case). And in true Poirier-Lowell form, we've already made it necessary to clean the bassinet. You see, we're not clean people. I mean, we shower regularly, generally have laundered clothes, etc....but our home is often in an untidy state. For some reason, the "disease" as I call it escaped my genetic makeup, unlike my brother and sister. It's not uncommon for Jeremy to grab a vacuum while visiting someone's house and give it a go over the carpets, just for fun. This is especially true if it's one of those fun Dyson models that lets you view the swirling, twirling dust bunnies through the clear dirt collector. I swear, one of these years I'm going to sprinkle sand over the wood floors and invite him over for Christmas or his birthday. Danielle is just as bad, if not worse. She lived with us for 18 months while getting her degree and it was the cleanest living we ever experienced. When she moved out, it took me a week to not only find the vacuum but to also figure out what it was and how it worked. Just the other night, she got the kids ready for bed, which included a bath. After she left and the kids were in bed, I walked into the bathroom to finding a sparkling counter and sink. It's like a super power, she can bath the kids, entertain them AND scrub the bathroom at the same time. The Jennie/Derek comparison story-Once we found actual mushrooms growing in the crevice of carpet and bathtub in an apartment we were renting.
The bassinet story-It was returned to us last night by one of Jennie's co-workers, as we'll need it very soon. This co-worker took it apart and cleaned it prior to returning, very thoughtful but probably a bad idea for our house. Within an hour, the kids having just left the dinner table (one of them with a chocolate milk sippy cup) proceeded to climb into it and soil the crib sheet with a nice little splash of said chocolate milk. Luckily, I'm still in nesting mode and immediately brought it to the laundry room for a dose of Shout. If I could only find a way to bottle this nesting hormone for occasional emergency use....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"They grow up so fast" -revisted

Years ago, (like 2-3), after encountering the umpteenth old lady who felt required to point out to me with my new baby(and then babies) that "they grow up so fast" (TGUSF), I muttered under my breath, "Really?!?". You see, at this point, I was most likely sleep deprived and struggling with the demands of new parenthood, like dirty bathrooms, messy house, running out of diapers, all the onesies are dirty, etc...I can clearly remember thinking, "Oh I don't know about that, it appears they will be using diapers, not sleeping past 5:30am and draining all the life energy from me for the next 20 years or so."
I firmly believed that it was in hindsight and hindsight only that one could look at their grown children and wonder in amazement, just where did all the time go?!? Now, almost 4 years to the day have gone by since we brought Baxter into the world and I think my time for TGUSF is almost here.
Baxter turns 4 tomorrow and he's jacked about it. A few weeks ago, he and his mother picked out his Spider Man cake pan and last night made the 1st of many (2? 3?) that will be baked this week. Today is the neighborhood playgroup gathering for all the new friends that we made once Baxter entered our lives. The neighborhood that we live in and all the wonderful people that we've grown closely to over the past 4 years are largely the result of Baxter's existence. Jennie's large belly announced to some neighbors what we were getting into and introduced us to other like-minded people and the rest is history.
Getting back the theme of this post---4 very short years ago, Baxter was gearing up for his race down the birth canal, becoming nothing but a wet blob of crying flesh who needed us for everything. Now, we've got a talking, negotiating opinionated human being. Just this past week, we were shocked with a glimpse of our future.

We have a family eating rule that you must try everything on your plate, which has worked out well for the adults too (Jennie, you know who you are). Last week, after being refreshed on the rule, Baxter said, "You know Dada, other kids don't have that rule."
"Well, this is our rule and we all will follow it."
"Well, when I have 'childs', I won't make them use that rule."
I remember thinking, "this isn't fair! I didn't think we would have to use the "in our house" statement for at least another 6-7 years?!?!" Maybe those old ladies were on to something....

After a brief but effective example by Jen, who pointed out the horrors of not knowing what food taste like without trying it, like the all-time fav cous-cous, Baxter was willing to buy into the food doctrine for at least another meal. I won't fool myself into think it'll always be this easy, but we'll take it today. Parents 1, Kids 0

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stormy Weather, cloudy brains

I opened the paper this past weekend to read about the unnecessary rescue operations under way in Houston and parts of Louisiana due to Hurricane Ike. I say unnecessary because for the past week, my friend and yours Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel, along with all his weather geek buddies and state officials from Texas have been begging people to take precaution and leave for safety prior to the hurricane reaching land with it's 100 mph winds, 20 ft walls of ocean water, etc.. And yet, rescue personal, many of whom maybe volunteering their time, are literally risking life and limb to bring several thousands of people to safety. One gem of a human being after being rescued stated,
"I would have stayed but the snakes were bothering me. I was willing to ride it out, with the man upstairs to protect me."

Whereas I ask, what if the man in question (presumed to be God) was up there wringing his hands in frustration over these people, who I feel required to point out again WERE RISKING THE LIVES OF THE RESCUE PERSONEL! So I picture God, stomping around in the clouds in his birkenstocks, muttering to himself,"I gave you brains, the ability to learn and discover, The Weather Channel and Doppler 2000 so that you could see these storms coming and run for the hills. But you decide to hunker down with a case of bottled water, nachoes and your poodle named Princess!

Jennie were discussing how we would react. We have some ambitious plans for renovations on our home someday and we decided we would go the opposite route. Open the windows and doors (no plywood or sandbags for us), hop in the minivan and take another road trip and pray for total destruction and fresh start for that master bedroom suite. Maybe head back down to NYC for more cupcakes!

Best wishes for the Texans rebuilding who were wise enough to leave.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eastern View Open House

After several years of stressful discussions, planning sessions and negotiations, our commercial building opened its doors for an open house a few weeks ago. It was a booming success, lots of people mingling through the hallways, talking to the practitioners, enjoying the food,music and face painting.

Jennie was the MC for the event and she introduced the health care providers and their individual practices to the attendees. She also introduced the keynote speaker, Joe Semmes, the director of a similar operation from Maine and the uncle of one of our partners. During her speech, Baxter walked up to her to get a few words in himself.
"Um, excuse me Momma." (laughter ensues)
Jennie whispering, "Yes Baxter?"
"I want to speak when you are done, ok?"
Apparently my face went to an extreme shade of red. Before you think I was embarrassed, I want to stress that this reaction was due to the potential words to come from him when it was his term on dais.

Jennie finished up by welcoming the keynote speaker to the stage. Dr Semmes, being a bit of a character himself, pointed out that Baxter was to get a turn 1st. Jennie bent down to Baxter with the microphone and he implored the audience to "eat lots of cake!" Which is great advice for the audience when your cake is 3 feet by 1 1/2 feet in size!

Much thanks to Suzanne and her mad cake skills. Check out http://iheartfrosting.blogspot.com/

It wouldn't be a party without cake!

Mr Baxter goes to school

Baxter started at his preschool last week and is already comfortable with exerting his persuasion. He's going to The Children's School, a cooperative preschool that is a short 1 mile walk from our home, very significant in this $4/gal gas world we now live in. The cooperative school idea is similar to the "takes a village" approach to education. The parents have a responsibility of contributing time and ideas to make the place run efficiently and optimally. Seeing that Jennie has delivered at least 2 of the student body with a few more siblings on the way for future years, perhaps our contribution is complete. Well......not quite. I'm chairing the marketing/enrollment committee and one of the 1st perks of this gig is that I got to show the school in action to a prospective student and thus, spied on Baxter during his 1st day. Already, I could see the allure of teaching where your children attend school. I feel comfortable and safe with the staff and school, no question about it, but it was kind of nice being able to watch Baxter interact with his classmates and I took a little pride in seeing him cooperatively play with the other kids. Poor Paigey who can't go until next fall is already completely comfy at the school, as I have to drag her away from the play kitchen every morning and afternoon.

Baxter, being who he is, already is trying to exert some influence over his peers. I picked him up from school yesterday and as we were pulling away from the lot, he said he forgot to get the Beaver from school!! Normally, this kind of statement would seem weird but we got an orientation last week and had advance notice of this subject. The teachers supply the school with a class mascot of sorts, a stuffed animal to be in the classroom and can be signed out for overnight stays with the students.
After confirming that this was indeed a stuffed animal, I asked him if he signed it out for the night.
"Yeah, I think I did."
I pulled back up to the gate and asked the teachers for a ruling and they laughed at his attempt. Apparently, they introduced the Beaver to the class and explained how the sleepover would work but it was not ready yet. They also informed me that Baxter is trying to get the class to name it Baxter the Beaver.
Already, I think it's going to be a fun year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thursday morning we left on our last jaunt before the un-official end of summer. 9am, we were on our way to the wonderful state of New Jersey for Jennie's great-uncle Arthur's 90th birthday party. He's a dear friend of the family and we were all very excited for the trip. Arthur has recently moved into an assisted living home that has been a little hard on him (he refers to it as "his incarceration", to himself as "one of the inmates"). His mind is very sharp but he can't see, hear or walk very well and his family thought it would be best to have more supervision.
About 30 minutes prior to our 1st stop of the day, the kids decided they couldn't wait another second for some lunch, so Jennie maneuvered her very pregnant self through the van to get to our cooler for sandwich fixings. About the only item from our house that we forgot to pack was a knife, so she was forced to improvise with the handle of a plastic fork. The kids have gotten accustomed to having the crust off their sandwiches, even though I swore I would never do this, so it seemed fitting that I had to eat the crust off of 3 sandwiches (remember, no knife in the van). The positive side is that I wasn't hungry after my crust lunch.
We made one pit stop in Schuylerville, NY to drop off Cocoa and Ella at Jeremy, Stephanie and Emma's house, as they were dog sitting for the night. The kids were disappointed to not see Emma, but took it in stride as they played with her toys for 10 minutes before we hit the road again.
Back in the van, an few hours later, Baxter announced that he had to "pee badly". At this point in his potty training days, we don't really want to test his resiliency and thus, hopped off the thruway at the 1st chance. It wasn't a great spot and we needed to pay our toll ticket before finding a gas station. I hurried him, locked the door and sat him on the toilet. After 5 seconds, he said, "Hmmm, I guess I was just kidding." I went myself to make it worth the while.
Dinner was nice, saw most of the Neuhauser clan, including the Kentucky Neuhausers (I just love that name, it sounds like a country band from the 70's. And now, please join me in welcoming to the Grand Ol Opry Stage......the Kentucky Neuhausers!!!!!")

Arthur was not entirely surprised, although I'm sure he was pleased. His daughter broke the news of the gathering to him about a week prior to make sure it would be OK. As he told me later that night, "You surprise a 90 year old man with something like this, it might his last!"
Breakfast the next morning at a Perkins with a smaller gathering and then off to one of the highlights of the trip. A few days before the trip, I was thinking of ways to add value to a 800 mile journey to NJ and came up with a cupcake pit stop in NYC. There's a special place near the village called Magnolia's where they make delectable treats, and famously, cupcakes. These cupcakes, freshly made each day are topped with about 2 pounds of the richest frosting and should probably be considered a WMD with the artery busting butter and shortening that must be in each one. For those who don't know me that well, I'm practical and don't have much of a sweet tooth, so to trek into NYC on a Friday morning for cupcakes was a significant event. That and the fact that we had my parent's GPS unit and I wanted to test how easy it could make navigating the city on a weekday morning. Plus, it was an educational trip for the kids (look to the right, that's the statue of liberty. No time to stop, we've got cupcakes to buy!)
Drove into the Hudson Tunnel, double parked on Bleeker street so Jennie and Baxter could run in for the booty. Magnolia's limits each customer to 1 dozen( the absurdity, only a dozen?!), but Bax rightfully counted as 1 person and got his own dozen.

I ran in for my dozen after they came back, and then back out through the Lincoln Tunnel. Using a towel to keep the sugar sweats from interfering with my driving, we continued on to Star Lake!!

(Baxter waiting patiently for his frosting to be removed so he could eat the cake 'cause it's too sweet. Just like his dad!)
Actually, one more little interesting stop to pick up the dogs. We let them into the backyard to use the dog restroom one last time after arriving at my brother's house and loaded up their stuff. Only Cocoa came in from the backyard however and a search up and down the street commenced for Ella, who is.....shall we say challenged. She gets nervous, vomits almost daily and runs away from all males. After a few minutes, we located her down the street. I tried to get to her, but again, the maleaphobia kicked in and she took off like a 3-legged bat outta hell. Jennie, moving faster than recommended in her condition ran her down and grabbed her, only to recoil in horror. It seems that in the 2 minutes it took us to load the car, Ella vomited, took a rollin it and then embarrassed by her behavior, decided to follow the advice of the littlest hobo and run away. We hosed her down in the side yard after finding some dog shampoo in my my brother and sister-in-law's house. We couldn't find where they keep the dog towel stash though and not wanting to chance their good natured generosity by using good towels, toweled her off with 19 paper towels. Again, keep in mind that she is a special creature. Our next mission was driving as fast as possible so we could deliver her permanently to her mother who was in front of us about 20 miles.
Star Lake was as usual, awesome. Boating, swimming, hiking, camp fires with a neighbor musician providing free music at nights, etc. It was sad to leave knowing that our lake visits were finished for the year. Till next year, when we'll be a family of five and stretching the space limitations of the little cabin even more, bye beautiful little lake!

Monday, August 25, 2008

If this van's a rockin'.........

As I've mentioned previously, we've had lots of opportunity for road trips in the new minivan this summer and have have fallen into a nice routine of blasting rock n' roll. Either of the kids will at anytime request loud music to "rock out" (their words, not mine). I tell you, I thought the arguments over volume level of music wasn't going to commence until they were at least in middle school. Not so....

"Turn it up dadda, I want it loud!"
"No, it's loud enough"
"But I want to rock out, I can't hear it good!"

Quick side story--A few months ago, we heard some banging footsteps coming from Baxter's room about an hour after bedtime. He has one of those cheap little ipod docking station radios where he listens to soothing music at bedtime, mostly James Taylor. Jennie walked in to find Bax dancing. When asked what was going on, he answered, "Well, I heard "Beat It" on the radio so I had to get up and dance". It turned out that Jennie mistakenly cued up a play list that had Michael Jackson's greatest hits after JT.

Back to the van---Jennie is a fan of Nickelback, perhaps because their style is a bit of a throwback to our heyday in the late 80's with big hair rocker bands. We were traveling down to the farmers market on Saturday morning (nice piece of irony, farmer's markets and hard rock don't usually go together). We had the ipod plugged in, volume turned up to 11 (shameless Spinal Tap plug), and "Rockstar" blasting away. All 4 heads in the van were bobbing, the windows were down and we were stopped at a stop light near UVM, which was receiving the latest batch of freshman students (do they still call them freshman? Seems sexist..). I started to chuckle at what our traffic neighbors must think of us. Either they were questioning our parenting skills and calling SRS on their cells or mocking us ("dude, you are in a minivan!). Yeah, but it's a minivan with a spoiler!

lipstick on a pig (THIS DOES NOT REFER TO MY SON!)

The kids recently discovered Jennie's make-up bag, which is impressive because Jennie herself rarely finds it. I'm not complaining, in fact I have a rather negative opinion regarding makeup. The title of this post is a favorite saying of mine and is used when a ugly or messy situation is artificially(poorly) remedied with cheap cosmetic changes. I think what you are saying when you wear make-up is that your own natural skin/face can't stand on it's feet without the crutch of clown paint, markers and colored dust. So when Baxter & Paige recently came downstairs with lipstick and eyeliner on, I had two reactions: 1: they're playing and having a good time, thus this is not a problem and 2: Am I being a good dad to let them dabble in something that I find repulsive? They will all too soon face the challenges of looking the part in a world filled with pressure from marketers saying they need to buy something to make them better people. Baxter got into the makeup again yesterday and asked the question, "Do I look pretty?" We played along but I stated that I love the look of their clean skin most of all. Still, it's kinda funny...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ode to summer's end

Continuing in the theme of "goodbye summer", we made what was most likely our last trip to the blueberry farm for 2008 last night. We frequent a place called Owls Head Blueberry farm in Richmond, VT, which features musical acts on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the picking season. The kids do a passable job of picking, Baxter on occasion has filled a quart, while Paige only picks enough to fill her belly (and not her basket). Last night, were greeted at the gate with a petition that supports the farms use of integrated pest management. It boils down to this: the birds want the berries and the owners need to stop the birds so they have something for us to pick each year. The local press recently highlighted a dispute between the farm and it's neighbors who are complaining about one device used in the battle against the birds. They use a propane fired cannon, which immediately reminded me Caddyshack and Bill Murray's overhanded attempt to rid the golf course of gophers. Then I quickly learned that cannon only shoots noise, not cannon balls. I read the article over breakfast this week and Baxter was all ears when I mentioned cannon, birds and blueberries. I think he initially thought they were shooting the birds with blueberry cannons. Last night near the petition table was the cannon, all plugged into a propane tank and looking for bird vermin. My opinion of this is in a similiar vein of the "living near the airport" complaint. If you buy a house near a airport (farm), you lose the right to complain when airplane's (normal farming operations) bother you. We live very close to the airport and the F-18's create some unbelievable noise, rendering any activity involving your ears impossible until they leave the zip code. This looks like complaining, which I'm not. As long as I'm not on the phone, I'm amazed at the power these machines generate.
Back to blueberries-the kind owners of the farm provide 2 portapotties for customer use on site. We were on our way past said potties when Paige started a funny little conversation.
"I smell poop!"
"Really? You smell poop?"
"Yeaaahhhh...........maybe cow poop?"

This is a recent development for her and is another Cosby-ish example of how kids say the darndest things. The only drawback is if you are the perpetrator of said poop smell and she outs you in public. Sometimes, on the extremely rare occasion that the smell is coming from me, she'll chastise me about being a big boy and that big boys should go poop on the potty. If it's not you, then just sit back and enjoy the comedy. On the way home, she struck again
"I smell poop!"
Baxter replied, "It's just me Paige, I tooted."
I wonder if potty humor will ever get old.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seasons change

I often describe our friendly little neighborhood by asking people if they've seen the movie Pleasantville. I don't mean in a creepy, sanitary, lacking of individuality way, but more along the lines of quiet streets filled with friendly neighbors, impromptu chats in the street or someone's driveway. One other example drives up and down the streets on Tuesday evenings, ringing a little bell that can only mean one thing: Ice Cream!! The ice cream lady announced this week that she would be back for only 2 more weeks before shutting down the scooter for the winter, which means summer is almost finished. We've had other signs, like 50 degree air temperature by 10pm and not being able to sit outside with the paper at 6am, and the tomato plants showing signs of aging. We'll be ok though, fall brings apple picking, awesome leaf peeping and homemade soups from locally grown squashes. Here's a few fleeting images of summer before we get to the next season.

Monday, August 18, 2008

But it's a good kind of pain...

This is slightly off target for I'm not a manny, but significant enough to be posted. I recently participated in a truly interesting athletic event right here in Vermont. It's called the 100on100 road race, a long distance relay that covers 100 miles on Rt. 100. I was 1/6 of a team of runners, mostly comprised of St. Lawrence University alumni. The lone dissenter was a Rochester grad, but we gladly let it slide because she was lovely company and solid runner to boot. All in all, SLU alum were part of 4 separate teams in the race, showing once again that SLU runners are in this for life and we mean business.
The weekend started out Friday night when Dwight Raby, a fellow teammate and class of '96 graduate arrived at our house for dinner. Dwight flew in from Georgia, showing his world-class commitment to our objectives of simply fielding a full team. Several more runners arrived a few hours later, with the last coming in on a delayed flight from Philadelphia, which arrived painfully at 2am in Burlington.
Saturday morning, we were off to the starting line at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe at 7:45am. The organizers collect estimated pace times for all teams and stagger the starting times accordingly, so that the gracious volunteers who support the race are not stretched all over the course for 14 hours. Our team was to start at 10am, and finish roughly around 8:30pm. I'm not sure what I was thinking 6 weeks ago, because I gave them a 6:20 pace time/mile, which is a little exaggerated (we decided to use aggressive instead of exaggerated for the remainder the day) Our team roster and order of legs was as follows :Amy Farrell (she of top-notch speed and endurance, clearly in the "good people" category and most importantly, Ruby's mom), Peter Cutler of Norwood-Norfolk fame( he's fit, fast, funny and a college coach), Becky Dwyer (the previously mentioned UR grad and our official on-staff physician for the race), myself (nothing to add here), Dwight Raby (the georgian musician whose claim to fame is getting smoked in a song-writer contest by John Mayer) and last but not least, Chris "Sammy" Wilcox (our captain and unofficially, SLU's greatest alum).
The race kicked off from Trapp and we soon found ourselves as the last team on the course. Not necessarily the slowest mind you as I mentioned the staggered starts, but still the last. Our motto for the first cycle of runners was "don't stress the support team!" The organizers explain that if you fall significantly off your predicted pace, they will move a team up along the course with the van and adjust the total time accordingly and most importantly, said team is no longer eligible for awards. I should explain a little bit more about the structure of the race. Teams of 6, taking turns or "legs", each member running 3 separate legs over the course of 100 miles. Each leg is a different distance, the shortest being 2.5 miles, the longest being 7.3. For example, I was the 4th runner, I didn't take my 1st run until about 11:45. I then would wait until my turn came around again or in this case, started my 2nd run at around 3:45 and my last started at 7:50pm.
In between legs, we would cheer our runner at the moment, provide water along the course and knosh on whatever food we decided would supply all-important nutrition but not make us sick while running (mostly GU's, powerbars, gatorade, bagels with PB and J and twizzlers. We finally started catching teams at around the 50 mile mark and then it was on! Spotting slower runners while driving the support van, we would shout encouragement to our runner along the likes of,
"Run like you stole something!"
"Low hanging fruit coming up!"
"Don't stress the support team" (our favorite)

I took a couple of breaks after runs to soak in an icy cold stream that ran along parts of Rt100, which was very helpful once I got past the creepiness getting bumped into by fish and eels.

We finished around 9:30pm, tired, sore and happy to be done. Food was supplied (real food, not the athletic bird food we ate for 11 hours) I was able to catch a ride home with some friends and was finally taking a much-needed shower at 1:30am back home. The last 36 hours have been very achy and sleepy, but I'm getting slowly better. I mentioned to Paige yesterday morning that I couldn't carry her down the stairs because my legs were hurting. She planted a kiss on my thigh and declared that I was" all better"! Not quite, but I certainly appreciated her sweetness.
All in all, it was a completely awesome event, I recommend anyone needing to run 16-18 miles in one day to give it a try sometime. I ran 15.9 miles in a total time of 1 hour, 46 minutes and 11 seconds and it may take me 15.9 days to completely heal, but I'll be anxiously awaiting the next race once the recovery is complete.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

800 miles of fun:The official van stamp of approval...

Just got back from a whirlwind, week long tour of upstate NY -for years I've disagreed with most southern NYorkers on this term. Most folks near the big apple refer to anything north of the Poughkeepsie-ish area as being "upstate", while I, with an origin 15 minutes south of the Canadian border, thought upstate started in Lake Placid and went north. It's simple folks, just look at a map, upstate would refer to the top.
We started out on Saturday morning, after a rambling stuffing of the van with everything from the attic and headed west to Malone for a visit to the county fair in an effort to cinch the parent of the year award by submitting our 2 and 4 year old (almost) to the demolition derby. It started out being pretty cool, but quickly reached a toxic state of burnt rubber, oil and metal, not to mention deafening ear pollution.

We then searched for fair rides that both kids could ride on, Paige with her dad's short genes prohibiting her participation on several of Baxter's choices. The Ferris wheel was a hit, we got a ride all by ourselves.

Next, it was off to Star Lake and G'ma L's cabin. Great fun all around, Jen and I took the kids on a paddle boat ride around the lake, showing them all the cool secret passageways. Tuesday was a picture perfect day, gorgeous sun, plenty of swimming on the new swim float.

Left Star Lake on Wed. @ noon for Skaneateles, NY, a cute little Finger Lakes town where Jen's Grandmother, Aunt and Uncle live. We stayed in a B&B in town, neat old house (c. 1805) and toured the town and lake. With some irritating irony, we choose to stay in the B&B because Grandma T's house has cats and some smoke, and we were worried about fits of asthma for both Jen and Baxter. Well, the B&B happened to have some cats (mostly outside, but probably inside during the harsh winters) and the man of the house did some smoking as well. from now on, we ask about cats and smoking when choosing a place to lay our heads while on a trip.

Friday at noon, back to Malone for more fair fun. Saturday night, we were shakin with the Money man. That's right, Eddie Money. We being delightfully surprised as we age,our home town fair brings in acts that we grew up with and thus, have a little cheap fun during the summer on a visit home. Last year it was Loverboy, this year Money. The old hits were played and they sounded the same as they did 20 years ago. His 20 year old daughter, Jessie who didn't win(lost) on the Rock the Cradle reality show this past year is on tour with him and she sang a few songs. She wasn't bad, decent voice but some immature stage dancing (nothing inappropriate,, just silly looking). The Money man sang a few songs from a charity CD and the Malone folks got pretty restless. We overheard one funny exchange from behind us:
(Woman) " Look at all the people leaving!"
(Man) "Well they should, 'cause he sucks!"
The trip to Malone also allowed us to visit with cousin/niece Emma (my brother and his wife were also there but they know their place;) Paige and Baxter really like her and they all seem to play nicely together.

By Sunday morning, we were ready to head for VT and home. The kids have fallen back into their routines and so have we. I have a big race this weekend, the 100on100 6 person relay from Waitsfield to Killington. (www.100on100.org) Hope I still have legs at this time next week!