Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ben's Christmas Concert

Today was the day of the Christmas Concert at Lake Clear Elementary School, the K-3 school that Ben attends...there are less than 60 students in all, 2nd grade is the smallest with 9 kids and 3rd grade has 16 kids...


The kindergarten class made these trees to decorate the wall...one of Ben's classmates must have been sick that day (because we're one tree short)...I showed Ben the picture and asked him which tree was his, and he looked at me like I was an idiot..."Daddy, they all look the same"...I had thought pretty much the same thing, but wouldn't have pointed it out...


Other grades made these other decorations (much more easily identifiable decorations one might point out) to decorate the lunchroom/gym/library/auditorium with, and did a lovely job!


I loved the mugs of cocoa, especially the big green one, it made me want to make some cocoa with a peppermint stick in it as soon as I got home...


The performances of the 4 classes were all so great and so sweet that I was sore from smiling so hard by the time the concert was done...


The choreography was spectacular...the girl in pink stripes is Ellie, a girl about whom Ben loudly, and without prompting, says that he does not love...


The kindergarten class did 3 numbers, 2 songs sandwiching a poem...it made me so happy and proud that I almost cried...


The 1st grade did some great songs also, especially Ayla, a friend of Ben's and the daughter of our friends the Buerketts...


There were a couple of ensemble numbers with all of the kids together, including one where the kids sang and used sign language...

video

Here's a video of one of the songs that Ben's class sang...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Day Videos

I had a snow-day today, not a big surprise given the amount of snow that fell yesterday; so once it warmed up a bit, Ben and I headed outside to play...

I took advantage of the situation to play with my new video camera a bit, and submit these 3 short movies for your consideration...

In the first one, Ben is sliding down the track that we made yesterday with his new sled...there were about 8 new inches of snow laying on it so the first few runs were pretty slow, but things picked up after that...

video


After sliding for a while, Ben asked about jumping off of snowbanks, which we both did for a bit...it was fun, but he yearned for something a bit more vertical, and asked about the hot-tub...we waded through the snow (up to my mid-thigh, up to his chest) to the hot-tub and he jumped...

video


and plugged into the snow there...

video

We had lots of fun...I also showed him the "trick" of standing under a loaded tree and letting Daddy shake a cubic yard of snow onto your head...he liked that so much that we did it a bunch of times, until he was a little blue (I didn't record that because I didn't want to trash my new toy on its first day in action)...then we headed back inside...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Video Camera

I got a wonderful little digital video camera from La-La, and we tried it out today for the first of, hopefully, many videos of life in the Adks

video

Big Storm!!!

We've already gotten about a foot of new snow, and we're expecting another foot or so between now and tomorrow morning...we're ready for a loss of power if the trees start to fall, and the house is warm and dry...

A couple of hours ago, there was a window of nice weather in the middle of this blizzard, and we took advantage of the break to open a present with Ben (we had permission)...a super sled from Uncle Steve and Auntie La-La...


Ben didn't know what was in the huge package before he unwrapped it, but he may have gotten some sort of hint from the fact that we got him dressed for the outdoors before we opened it...


Gail took one for the team and made the first run in the deep snow (like 2 feet, or more)...flipping over a bit and getting trapped like a flipped turtle in the soft and deep powder...


Once we made couple of runs down the trail, it packed down nicely, and Ben got some nice speed on the way down...the climbs back up the hill were hard as the snow was over Ben's waist...


It was a fun time for all of us, and a nice chance to get outside as the weather was quick to close back in on us once we went back inside (for some grilled cheese made in our huge cast-iron skillet)...ice-pellets alternate with white-out snow as I'm typing this blog entry...


Ben loved sliding down the hill, going fast, and crashing into Mommy or various trees and stumps at the bottom of the hill...it was cool to see him build up speed on the packed trail and then disappear into a cloud of snow when the sled wandered off into the loose powder (and stopping instantly as he lost all momentum)...


At one point, Gail fell back into the snow at the bottom, and got caught in the comfortable depression in the powder...she took this picture at arm's length, doing a good job of keeping the fear out of her eyes...eventually she had to roll over and sort of crawl out of the deep snow until she could stand up...


At the end of the sledding (we could tell when he was done because Ben could no longer get his fingers to hold onto the handles of the sled), he lay down on this new and wonderful present and gave a contented smile to us, to the sky, to the snow starting to gently fall again, and to the universe...

What a great break in the weather, and a lucky opportunity to take advantage of it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Before the storm...

We woke up to a cold day yesterday, and generally took it pretty easy inside until after lunch, when we headed over to Lake Placid to see, "Enchanted"...



We had a great time in this movie...



We almost had the entire theater to ourselves, as everyone else was getting ready for the massive storm that is supposed to come in the near future (nope...not here yet...gentle snow)...after the super movie, we went to the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Company, it's not just a clever name, we had a great meal...Gail and I enjoyed the best prime rib we've ever had (at 4:15pm) in our lives, and Ben had some high quality seafood (fish sticks)...



Today was a ton warmer, so we ventured outside for some Christmas Tree hunting in the woods on our property...this pumpkin, perched on our grill, was covered in about an inch of ice filled with tiny bubbles...



The fairy door that we installed last Spring showed signs of use and habitation...


We chopped down 2 trees, and carried them back through the woods to stand up in our field for final selection...Ben chose the tree that will be our Christmas Tree this year...


While mom strung some lights along the windows and on the tree, prior to decorating the tree, Ben and I went out in a time-honored tradition before (and after) big storms, shopping for Emergency French Toast (EFT)...we're all set for the storm, as big and bad as it gets, but there's still an almost undeniable drive to shop for basics, ordinarily bread and eggs and milk...hence EFT...


Cedar, our Cheagle (or Beagow) is getting to be a grumpy old man, but he is still outrageously cute...


We strung up the lights and hung our favorite decorations on the tree, Ben chose well...


Gail unpacked the ornaments and laid them out on the dining table, and we would take turns picking through to find the ones we like the most, and hunting for the perfect spot to hang it on the tree...


We have ornaments with pictures of each of us and our pets...Hobson and Zeke, our oldest cat and dog, are both gone now (although both are buried on our property, Hobson is helping to grow a rose and Zeke's grave is covered with wildflowers and ivies), but they will always grace the Christmas Tree at this time of year...


Ben had a great time playing with a couple of ornaments that didn't make the cut for this year's tree...I loved his expression in the picture above...


Gail did a great job organizing/managing/overseeing the decorations, including the stockings, tree and the rest of the house...we're ready for the storm, and for EFT tomorrow morning if it turns out as promised...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cold...and cabin fever...

Gail has has been working at home a bit this week...both on Paul Smiths stuff and on stuff for her Doctorate...she's getting a little punchy, and it's not going to get any better in the near future...

We're down around zero this morning, and expecting a major dump of snow tomorrow, so we may not get outside as much this weekend as we ordinarily do...



Here are Gail and Ben playing a game with complex rules over which the vampire-duck has final decision-making authority...



Gail was working on a paper for her doctoral progam this morning, before the fire had caught up with the cold, especially at our dining table, which is far away from the woodstove and its vent and exposed to the nearby windows...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in Maine

We headed to Maine for Thanksgiving to visit Gail's family. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, in Freeport, which is only about 10 minutes from Gail's sister Laurie (better known as La-La). It was a great hotel, with a sweet pool that apparently only we knew about...



Here's a group picture taken using my world famous "swim-around" technique...the hotel even gave us rubbing alcohol for Ben's ears after each swim to help prevent ear-infections...


Given that it's an underwater camera, I feel as though I have to take pictures underwater, so here is a great picture of Ben's legs...


and my imitation of a torpedo (think Sean Connery from Thunderball)...


Ben and La-La had a great time in the pool, and we went swimming everyday that we stayed there...


We also watched a couple of fun pay-per-view movies after each day's activities, as a way to chill out and snuggle-up before bedtime...


Mo, famed world-traveller and adventure-seeking rat was in rare form, and explored the hotel room relentlessly (honestly...she was completely without relent) during our stay...


We visited Friendly's for breakfast one morning (this was before discovering the awesome breakfast that our hotel layed out each morning), and had a great time with the coloring and the tasty foodstuffs...Ben had pancakes with M&Ms in them...


You cannot visit Freeport without stopping in at L.L. Bean, so after breakfast, we made our way over, and explored the store for awhile...the biggest (and best) change was bringing the hunting and fishing stuff back into the main building, after years of exile in an outbuilding...


They added a cool aquarium with all sorts of trout and some salmon in it that had a bubble dome in it that allowed Ben to be one with the fish...


Later in our visit, we went for a visit with Gran, dropped off some belated birthday presents (including Ben's first-ever school photos), and Ben showed off his newly missing teeth...


Thanksgiving day we all went over to La-La and Uncle Steve's house to help get things ready...Ben was very spiffily dressed, and helped to set the table while we engaged in some general carousing and rationalized pre-noon beverages ("the pilgrims probably had a beer while getting ready for the feast")...


The food and prep and comings and goings and noise all made dear, sweet, Lucie a little stressed-out...Lucie came to live with La-La and Uncle Steve 9 years ago (during a Thanksgiving visit), and has been doing admirable guard-duty since then (she can turn on the scary-dog like nobody's business)...she was originally billed as a german-shorthaired-pointer mix, although she is obviously a Saranac Lake pit-bull mix...


Gail was allowed to help in some food-prep before the festivities began...


La-La was, of course, the mastermind of the Thanksgiving feast...


After helping to set the table, Ben settled down to watch a bit of the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV...he was excited, as always, by the balloons...especially the Shrek balloon seen here...


Gail's brother Bim arrived, and we had some time to chat before Dinner was served...


After the Dinner was served/eaten/cleared/cleaned, Ben's cousin Max (and his little brother Lucas) made an appearance, with their parents and Kathy and Auntie Helen, which was a fun bonus...Ben had a great visit with Max, and made plans for a possible overnight this summer during our visit to Maine...

We ended up our visit at Mommy's favorite restaurant in Maine, Margaritas...Gran hung out with Ben for the afternoon while Gail and I went to see "The Mist" (a pretty great movie, except for the changed and quitter-supportive ending)...afterwards, we met La-La and Uncle Steve there for drinks and appetizers until the wee hours of the morning and closed the place (actually, we left at 6pm, just as the evening rush was coming on)...

We had a really nice visit to Maine, and are very thankful for family, fun times, and hotel swimming-pools...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday morning ninja-zombie-football practice

In our ongoing efforts to be participants in Ben's education, we started off the morning with some work on the fundamentals...

Being Sunday, and seeing as Ben has a new found love for football, we got out a football to toss around...but...given that we like variety, we turned the challenge-o-meter up to 11 for this exercise...Ben and I played some ninja-zombie-football, incorporating all of the best things in life (except for pizza, which would have been messy) into our game...


Here you can see Ben in his "Tropical Mango" colored room (with unseen sky-blue ceiling) playing our new game...you can see the zombie component of the game trying to blend in with some of Ben's stuffed animals on the bed behind him (the pic is clickable to enlarge it)...


There is a long and rich history involving the Backyardigans and Ugli-Monsters and zombies...we had a great time playing this morning's ninja-zombie-football...my current plan for when CPS comes to take Ben away due to my multiple "corruption of a minor by exposure to zombies" offenses is to lock the door and yell out that we're not home...if anyone asks, we did not watch "Resident Evil" when he was 4 months old, or "Pirates of the Caribbean" when he was 2-3 years old...


Thursday, November 08, 2007

I love my job...

I work with 6th graders, and in our school the 6th graders cannot participate in the athletic programs...to combat this shortcoming, we take turns offering other activities...today I spent some time getting ready for a couple of weeks worth of GPS fun and games...


I spent most of the day in important (I keep telling myself) SPED meetings, and then snuck out at 2pm to try and beat the darkness...I had my hugest backpack loaded with 26 containers that I would spread out in 5 course of 5 containers (plus 1 pseudo-geocache with trade items and a logbook)...


I drove over to North Country School (also known as Camp Treetops), a private school during the school year and summer camp in summer...I spent 4 great summers here as a kid, and it was neat to come back for a visit...our 6th graders will be joining some North Country School students for the fun and games...


The containers for this activity are screw top tupperware jars with explanatory notes and crayons that they kids will use with check-sheets to show that they found the right containers in the right order...you can also see the demo-cache...


It was a gorgeous day to wander around their huge campus, light cover of snow, chilly air, clear sky, no wind...perfect...


My looping hike took me down to the waterfront center, where we would swim and boat (even on that July 4th almost 30 years ago when it snowed...yes...they still made us go swimming)...I spent too much time looking around at everything, remembering everything as having been bigger...


It was a great way to spend an afternoon, but it was getting colder by the minute...so I kept moving along and hiding jars here and there in the woods and in one case next to a huge glacial erratic (I've got a thing for erratics, and the Adirondacks is chock full of them)...


On the way out I noticed the cute sign over by the barn...I had a moment, remembering the horses...I hated (and was horrible at) riding, which we had to endure once each week...


Luckily, there were tons of sheep and a llama to cheer me up and make enough funny noises to help me forget my childhood trauma...looking past the fun beasties, I was reminded of working the honey-wagon inside, and the compost pile adjacent to, the big barn in the background...which was more fun than it might sound like...


The sheep and llama kept making funny noises at me, so I took another picture of them...


On the way back towards Lake Placid and home, I drove by the closing of the day's nice light over the High Peaks...


I passed the ski jumps a minute later, snapping this picture on the fly...I only swerved a little, and the policeman waiting right there for speeding tourists must have been sleeping, because he didn't snag me...


The school that I work at, Lake Placid Middle/High School, is situated on the Sheffield Speed Skating Oval (no relation), where Eric Heiden won his 5 gold medals in 1980, and across the street from the hockey arena where the "Miracle on Ice" took place...my room is the center window (and the one to the left of that one) on the 3rd floor...pretty sweet digs huh?


On top of the awesomeness of my day, I got paid for my time playing in the woods this afternoon...feeling flush with my easily-gotten gains, I treated myself to a venti vanilla latte...I love having a Starbucks in the town where I work...


On the way home, I filled up my Element with pricey gas and got some nice beverages (both can be improved/dressed-up with bourbon) for the special 2-hour CSI...


To put a yummy-fatty ribbon around the whole afternoon/evening, I stopped by the best Chinese restaurant in Saranac Lake (the other one is known, by us, as "the shitty Chinese restaurant", and it's not just a clever name)...

I'm heading upstairs now to make us some cocktails, tomorrow signals the beginning of a long weekend, we're heading down to CT to see my folks and sister, and I had a fun day at work...