Archive for April, 2010

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Beautiful day…

April 25, 2010

…for a drive. After the kids ran yesterday morning, I was not really ready to go home and saty indoors. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to be outdoors. The only problem with that was that I was overly tired from staying up to watch the hockey game the night before and then getting up early to take the kids to run. I was also having a bad pain day. For whatever reason, I was okay in the morning, but by early afternoon I was in a significant amount of pain. My right hip just wouldn’t cooperate and no position made it more comfortable. Jeff eventually talked me into taking some ibuprofen and we set out for some unknow adventure.

We filled the Jeep with gas and stopped at Gander Mountain for a drink for Jeff. I think he just wanted to wander through the store without kids. He likes it there a lot, which cracks me up because he neither hunts, nor fishes, and he is definitely NOT a redneck. Anyway, we wandered and looked at just about everything they sell, then set out again. I was starving, so we stopped at Wendy’s and I got a cheddar, broccoli baked potato. As I ate, Jeff said he was going to drive wherever, get us lost, and my job would be to get us home. We don’t have GPS in the Jeep, so he calls me his CPS (Carly Positioning System) since I always seem to know which way to go. We wound up near Mendon Ponds, so I suggested we drive through the park.  As we were nearing an intersection, we noticed a field…

Do you see them? Clicking to enlarge the pictures may be necessary.

They were on Jeff’s side so he offered to turn around so I could take pictures, since I almost never leave home without my camera, lol!

The one in the center stayed at that scrub for probably 10 minutes. I couldn’t figure out what it found so appealing about it, since there was fresh, young grass all around. Now that I’ve looked more closely at the picture, I think it was after the new leaves and buds.

While we were sitting there, this deer stopped and stared awhile.

We were only about 100 meters from the deer and I am sure they could here the shutter everytime I took a picture. They would stop and look up at us often, but they didn’t seem too threatened. I told Jeff they probably thought the Jeep was a giant, mutant deer since it’s about the same color as the deer.

There were two adult sized does, and two smaller deer. I don’t know how long they stay with their mothers, but one of the youngsters was much larger than the other. The smaller of the two was lame though, so I don’t know if that had something to do with its smaller size or not.

I decided I had enough pictures, so Jeff pulled up the road a little and turned around. As we started driving back toward the deer, they decided to cross the road. Three of them went into the woods, but the gimpy one stopped and posed for me. If you look, you can see that it is favoring its front right leg.

It looks as though it is smilng in this picture. I think it wanted to make sure I got its good side, lol!

If you enlarge this last picture, you should be able to see the deer looking up at the leaves in the tree, almost as if to say “how do I get those?”

After photographing deer for about 15 minutes, we finally moved on. We drove around a while longer, then decided we’d go out for a bite to eat. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant that we had a coupon for, then we hit the bookstore across the parking lot. By that time my hip was getting even more sore and I really wanted to go home, but Jeff loves bookstores and doesn’t often get to wander through. I was patient for a little while, but then he relented and took me home. All in all it was a great day. I am not often in a place where it is convenient or safe to pull over and photograph wildlife, so that was definitely a treat. Date nights are always a treat too!

Oh, I almost forgot, we got home just in time to see the Penguins score the game winning goal against Ottowa, advancing them to the semifinals! Yay Penguins!

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Sure signs of spring…

April 24, 2010

…include road races every weekend. Kyle takes the winter off from running, then picks it up again around March. He’s been running regularly since mid March and our weekend race season has begun. He ran his first race of the year 2 weekends ago, but I wasn’t able to go because Jeff, the girls, and I were in Hamburg with Erin at a hockey tournament.

Today was the Northstar Christian Academy (NCA) 5 Miler. This is the second year they have held this race and Kyle was excited to run it again this year. All 3 kids went to NCA for 2 years, so they like to see some of the kids they went to school with, as well as some of their former teachers. The church with which the school is affiliated also hosts a race annually, so Kyle always runs that race as well. There were not a lot of participants at this race, so Kyle finished 15th, with a time of 39.18. A full four minutes faster than last year’s time!

Here are all the runners as the race began.

 

Here is Kyle starting out, adjusting his mp3 player.

While we were waiting for the first finishers, I took some pictures of the girls.

Mr.  Boshnack, the kids principal from NCA, ran the race in good time (he finished 2nd). He also announced several names as people finished after him, then he handed out the awards at the end. He was very busy, but stopped a moment to congratulate Kyle on a good race and tell us that he is running in a marathon tomorrow.

Some of the kids watched the 5 mile race, while waiting for the kids fun run to begin.

As Kyle came around the bend to the finish, there were 2 other runners with him. Once he could see the finish line though, he began his finishing sprint and left them behind.

About 20 minutes after Kyle finished his race, the kids race was underway. Erin opted to start on the outside edge of the group. She often feels claustrophobic whenever she finds herself in the middle of a group of people.

Running is definitely not Erin’s forte, but she likes to run whenever Kyle goes to a race that also has races for the kids. When she reached the halfway point, I was afraid she might give up.

As she passed the half-mile mark, she walked for a couple seconds, then picked up the pace into a jog. I thought for sure she was going to collapse across the finish line. She was moving pretty slowly by then and her cheeks were flaming red.

After the race she enjoyed a juice box, a carton of chocolate milk, 2 slices of pizza, a granola bar, and a shortbread cookie.

Kyle had finished 4th in his age bracket and we didn’t realize they were giving out prizes to the kids, so we were getting ready to leave when Sarah spotted her third grade teacher. She wandered over to say hi and eventually the rest of us followed her. As we were talking, they began announcing the winners of the kids races. Turns out Erin won 2nd place in 9 – 12 year old age bracket, so she got 2 tickets to a laser tag place. She was pretty excited and I was glad we stayed.

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Birds and Flowers

April 23, 2010

I had a chiropractic appointment this morning, but I was running quite early, so I went down to the bay to see if the swans were near enough to get a few pictures.

There were many swans in the bay, but only one pair that was close enough for decent pictures. I don’t think either one of them was particularly happy about the band around the neck of the one. The one that is banded kept arching its head funny, trying to poke at it, while the other one kept poking at it with its beak. I didn’t think it looked terribly comfortable myself. Everytime the swan would dive for food, the band would slip up near its head, then back down again when it was upright. Seems like there must be a better system. I assume whoever banded it wants to be able to read the band from afar. Personally I think a slightly more invasive, at first, transmitter clipped to a wing would be more comfortable for the swan in the long run, but what do I know!

There was also a very noisy pair of geese. They landed while I was photographing the swans and wouldn’t stop squawking the whole time I was there. One of them kept rolling its head around, up in the air, and honking. Then it chased the other one making a growling noise and biting it. Eventually the one being chased started in with the honking as well. Finally, they flew over near another pair of geese and started honking and hissing and chasing them.  They were decidedly noisy, mouthy, and mean!

I happened to catch this gull looking for food and thought the pictures were pretty cool.

There was also a pair of ducks, but I wasn’t pleased with any of the pictures I took of them. Their coloring against the background and the weird lighting this morning didn’t make for a good combination.

After watching the waterfowl for a bit, I remembered a road through the park that my mother-in-law had told me about. I still had 45 minutes until my appointment, so I decided to wander over there since it was nearby.

I am bad with flower names, and even worse with trees, so I won’t identify any of these…just share the pictures, except to say that I didn’t know there were yellow magnolias, way cool!

This looks like a terrific spot for a picnic!

And here is a nice place to sit and take it all in.

The road these pictures were taken on is a wide, one-way road the forms a large horseshoe off the main road. Fortunately, there were not a lot of people there and no one drove up behind me, so I was able to roll down the windows and shoot to my hearts content. I took a total of 135 pictures, between the lake and the park. I was quite happy, and relaxed, by the time I got to the chiropractor’s office!

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All Hung Up

April 16, 2010

Earlier conversation…

Kyle: “Hey, Mom, can we borrow your camera?”

Me: (cautiously) “Why?”

Kyle: “Cuz I’m gonna hang myself in Sarah’s closet and we want a picture of it.”

Erin “Oh!” (runs upstairs) “Can I watch?”

Me: (as Erin is running upstairs) “WHAT?”

Kyle: “No, I mean on a hanger…”

Me: (somewhat confused) “Whatever…”

Here is what my kids do to entertain themselves once their schoolwork is finished.  I don’t want to think about what they’ll come up with next…   Thankfully, they often find reading entertaining.

I love Sponge Bob’s legs in this picture with Sarah…perhaps they should have hung him in the closet!

I guess there isn’t really anything to say about this…it’s weird! Just in case anyone from CPS happens upon my blog…NO I do NOT hang my children in the closet!

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Summer Do

April 15, 2010

Erin has been bugging me for a few days to cut her hair. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to let her have short hair. It irritates me that she won’t brush it, but I can’t bring myself to let her have it short. Well, this morning I decided I’d cut it for her after I had a chance to rest. The last several days have had me up early, running all day, and then falling into bed fairly late. Today I had to get up early, but once Jeff left for work, I didn’t NEED to do anything other than help the kids with school work.

While Erin worked on her math, I took a nap. She didn’t need my help, but I definitely needed a nap. At one point, while I was sleeping, Sarah came upstairs to ask if she could borrow my camera. In my sleepy state, it didn’t occur to me that I had it set to “no flash” because the last pictures I took were of a 6 week preemie, who was only 3 days old. I thought the flash would be a bad idea! Sarah wanted to take pictures of Joe and doesn’t really know how to work my camera, other than the obvious, aim and push a button. She knows nothing about the settings. The pictures she took were very fuzzy because the kitchen is dark and she was in the kitchen. One of them was sort of okay, so I decided to post it beecause the subject matter is rather funny!

Joe gets a little more than a full cup of high quality, grain free dog food with a Tbsp or 2 of pumpkin over the course of a day. He only weighs 16 pounds and he’s a couch potato so he really doesn’t need more than that. Oh yeah, he also gets a bite of banana every day (thank you Jeff) and several small dog treats as well. He even gets the occassional fast food burger (no bun) or pizza crust. Apparently there was a mutiny in the kitchen this afternoon! Sarah reports that Joe opened the bucket with his nose and proceeded to munch a few pieces of food before she put a lid on his fun! I suspect someone didn’t fully close the lid on the bucket. At any rate, Joe always “thinks” he’s hungry, but I think he just likes to eat…all the time! He will pathetically sit and stare at the buckets, right after being fed, if someone walks into the kitchen. He’s not spoiled or anything!

After dinner this evening, I told Erin I would cut her hair. I am by no means a hair stylist, but her hair is long and unlayered, so I usually am okay with cutting it. She told me she wanted it just about shoulder length.

This is where we started. Jeff thought a yardstick would give some perspective.

This is where we ended up. I oopsed a couple times while trying to get it even.

At first I wasn’t sure if she liked it. She looked as though she might cry and I thought perhaps I had traumatized her. In all actuality, she had really bad split ends and it needed to be cut pretty short. In fact, to get rid of the split ends, I think she’d need a cut almost as short as mine, which is too short for her, in my opinion! She took a shower and decided that she really likes the length. Whew! I think Jeff may be a bit traumatized by it, but it’s only hair; it WILL grow back, quickly!

She was watching something mildly amusing on TV. She has this incredible contagious laugh. She cracks us up all the time.

She’s even cute when she’s being rude!

I’m just glad she likes her new summer do!

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Crazy Hockey Weekend, Part III

April 14, 2010

Perhaps I should say that the “crazy” part of the hockey weekend continued after the weekend. Erin had tryouts for the Edge U12 team both Monday and Tuesday. Since she really hasn’t been playing all that long, we were unsure as to whether she had a chance of making the team, so we spent both Monday and Tuesday discussing the fact that she should not get her hopes up and that if she didn’t make the team, she would still play, just not necessarily with girls. She was elated to find, when we got home from dinner last night, that she made the team. Jeff is absolutely giddy about it! I’m trying to be excited but play it down a little, I don’t need an (almost) 11 year old with a big head! She’s just excited to be able to continue learning at that calibre. I guess I’m lucky to have a smart AND humble child! Sarah told Erin that she is very proud of her and Erin beamed; lots of sisterly love there!

Back to the (actual) weekend… On Sunday we got up at what Jeff calls “the crack of oh, my God, it’s early” and set out for Hamburg again. Joe looked as though we were abandoning him. He spent a little longer in the backyard doing his business as if to say that he was not happy with us. After dragging him into the house, we were off. We stopped at a different Wilson Farms for ice and I was pleasantly surprised by the cheerful cashiers. We made decent time and got to Hamburg right at 8 AM. The rest of the team arrived a short time later and the girls got ready to hit the ice for game 3. They played Monroe County. I was a little surprised because I didn’t know we had another girls team in the county. Jeff and I are so out of it when it comes to youth hockey. He last played for the Junior Amerks in ’93/’94 as their one over-ager. Since then, we’ve not followed youth hockey at all and boy have things changed (not a bad thing)! The Monroe County girls seemed bigger and older and they were a challenge for our girls. The final score was 4 to 1 but our girls really worked hard!

Nicole needed another inch in leg length!

One goal!

See how much bigger they look? I would have been intimidated! Our girls just seemed to go out there with no fear or intimidation at all.

After they played Monroe, they only had about an hour before they needed to get ready for their last game. Erin was to play in the final game. We went to the Jeep and she had a snack and a drink and I uploaded pictures from the previous game, then back in we went. The last team they would play was West Seneca. The girls on that team were definitely smaller than the previous team, but I was a little concerned because the girls looked so tired after the 3rd game. I wondered how they would get through the last one with so little time to recover. Apparently they only APPEARED tired. They did really well and won the game. Erin had a blast the whole weekend. She loved being with the girls and cheering them on from the bench when she wasn’t playing. She commented on Saturday, after the game in which she didn’t play, that it was really cool to watch a hockey game from that close! Jeff and I thought it was pretty cool that she had such a good time while riding the bench. She definitely has that team spirit, as do all of the girls!

I love Erin’s “air conditioning.” I ask her if her legs ever get cold, but the answer is always, “Mom, it’s hot in all that equipment!”

I love the focus on all 3 of their faces.

One on six? Now, that’s confidence!

As we were leaving the rink, I requested that Jeff take a detour through the parking lot of the VFW post near the rink. They had a plane, a helicopter, and a tank that were begging to be photographed, hehehe! Since there was a helicopter, he obliged. My back was so sore from all the standing, that I opted to take my pictures from the Jeep. I did open the sunroof and pop through for a couple of the pictures. That must have looked funny; I’m sure the cop watching from across the street thought so! I didn’t notice him until AFTER I had popped through the roof. WOW! Good thing that the older I get the less I care what people think of me. I am who I am and if you don’t like who I am, I’m okay with that! I digress…aircraft! I found out that the helicopter is an AH-1 Cobra, or HueyCobra.

My mom and Jeff both really like helicopters, so these pictures are for them…

While stopped at a red light in Hamburg, this clock caught my attention. I had time to fire off one shot before the light changed.

Since we were in the Buffalo area anyway, we headed up to Sheridan Ave. to see what Great Skate might have for goal pads. Erin’s leg pads are about 4 inches too short, so we have been looking around to see who has what. I imagine we’ll wait until all of us have enhanced photo ID’s so we can check out Reids before we decide to buy. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but we haven’t been to Reids in ages. In fact, we haven’t been to Canada in ages…. That will change soon enough!

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Crazy Hockey Weekend, Part II

April 12, 2010

After the first game on Saturday, we had about a 2 hour window before Erin needed to be back to dress for the second game. My in-laws had gone to Hamburg to see her play, so we went with them to a Pub style restaurant right on Lake Erie. As we were driving along Rte. 5 looking for a place to eat, we passed a beach with a launch point for sailboarding. Although we didn’t see anyone with sailboards, we did see several kite surfers. I had never seen this before and only figured out what to call it when I searched in Google. Pretty cool sport! I, unfortunately, did not get any pictures of them as we were short on time and my photographic needs were overridden by everyone else’s gastronomic needs…

I did however, take a moment in the parking lot at the restaurant to photograph a small wind farm that has risen out of the rubble that was once Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna. I remember trips to Buffalo as young child and seeing Bethlehem Steel in full swing. It seems like another lifetime ago. When we lived in Buffalo, Jeff and I used to takes rides over the skyway and into the southtowns along Rte. 5, observing all the dilapidated buildings and boats along the lake shore.   As I stood looking at the wind farm, rising out of a seemingly dead, unusable chunk of land, I couldn’t resist but take some pictures! I am fascinated by the giants that convert a wild, unstoppable force into usable energy. Jeff laughs whenever I get excited about wind turbines. The other night, when I eagerly showed him my pictures, he asked if I was turning into Don Quixote… I have no intention to attack, I only like to look at them!

In addition to the wind turbines, my favorite Buffalo building is in this picture. See City Hall framed between the two generators on the left? The not-so-cool to look at building that stands above the rest is HSBC Centre.

One more picture of the Buffalo skyline. The Peace Bridge to Canada is visible in this one. During my final year at Buff. State and my first year of teaching, before we moved back to Rach-cha-cha, we lived a stone’s throw from the Peace Bridge…and therfore, Doug and Tom Reid Sports in Fort Erie, Ontario! Much time, and money, was spent there when Jeff was playing hockey. They are truly great people!

After a tasty meal, it was back to the ice arena for another game. This time against Niagara.

There was definitely some unrestrained excitement at winning their second game of the tournament. This game was the closest of the 4 games they played.

After the game we headed towards home. I was navigating while Jeff drove, but he turned the wrong direction out of the rink before I had a chance to tell him which way to turn. Knowing my way around the area pretty well, I told him we’d just take a slightly different route. Soon we came upon a HUGE Wal-Mart and Erin asked if we could stop. We went in and grabbed a couple little things and Jeff took the girls to the checkout while I went to sit in the Jeep. My back was not happy after all the standing and/or sitting on hard benches. I got situated when Jeff appeared at the door alone asking for his debit card back. We had stopped, in Rochester, to buy ice to fill the cooler some 7 hours earlier and I was sure I had given him back his debit card. Apparently I hadn’t.

After figuring out that I had most likely thrown out the debit card, with the empty ice bag, at the Wilson Farms, I made several phone calls trying to figure out what, exactly, to do. I didn’t want to cancel the card if I had only left it at the counter by mistake, but the receipt from the store only had an 800 number, not a local one. When I called 411 they gave me the number for Griffith Oil…not sure how that happened! They are located near each other physically, but have completely different names, so I am not sure how one number was mistakenly given for the other (still scratching my head on that one). Once I found the correct number (another call to 411) no one would answer the phone at the store. Not terribly shocking, since the people who work there are frequently out back smoking pot during their shifts! The only reason I know this is becuase it is the closest “stop-and-rob” to our house, so we go there when we need something and are in a hurry. After 20 minutes of calling and letting the phone ring 20 times each, hanging up, calling back, etc. someone finally answered the phone. After spelling our last name about 6 times for the girl and listening as she yelled into the phone to her co-workers, she concluded that the card wasn’t there. In hindsight, I wonder why I called in the first place. I KNOW what the people who work at this store are like and that even if the card was there, they probably would have concluded that it wasn’t. I must stop here and say that I have nothing against people who work at Wilson Farms, it’s just that this particular store, for whatever reason, has very shady characters working at it.

Upon finishing with the Wilson Farms people, I had to call HSBC to cancel the card. Sounds simple, right? WRONG! I called the 800 number on the back of a different HSBC card that states to “call if card is lost or stolen.” Kind of funny if you think about it…how would you get the number if you lost the card? Anyway, I called and got an automated system asking for an account number. I entered the appropriate number, only to have to pass through a handful of other “push a button for…” prompts resulting in my having to hang up because there was no option for “press…for a person.” I dutifully dialed again (oh yeah, the phone number ends HSBC and my cell phone is designed for those who text, so it doesn’t have the letters associated with the numbers…grrr)! I waited until the prompting was finished and eventually I was transferred to India a hold queue for a customer service rep. Twenty minutes later, a woman with a thick Indian accent answered. I have trouble with Indian accents; for some reason I just can’t understand them very easily. Add that to the noise from being on the thruway, and I couldn’t understand a word she said. Eventually, after she repeated everything 5 times, I found that in order to get a new card issued, I needed to tell her where we opened the account (specific branch name) or the last cash withdrawal made with the card (again, specific location), We almost never withdraw cash, and it is usually Jeff that does whenever we do and he doesn’t pay attention to things like the name of the bank whose ATM he is using. After telling her every unique piece of information I could think of, I wound up hanging up without getting a new card issued. I did go to a branch today, spent 5 minutes with a CSR and was issued two cards, one in each of our names, without having to pull any crazy information that was long ago forgotten from my poor, sad, over-tired brain. They should be here in a week, whew!

The obvious moral to this story is: Don’t throw away your debit card!

Once I was finished making all the crazy phone calls, we were nearly home. Once we got home, Jeff and I had to go back out and play musical money, moving cash from one account to another, so we could still access money without his ATM card. I often wonder why we maintain more than one checking account…now I know!  By the time Jeff and I got back home, I was wild. When I get really tired, I become extremely agiatated and unreasonable. I just wanted my bed! Kyle left hamburg with Jeff’s parents so they could take him to a race on Sunday morning, so we had one less person to drag out of bed and to Hamburg Sunday morning. When I finally fell asleep, I didn’t move until Sunday morning when the alarm went off. Poor Jeff was so out of it, he tried to wake me up when his alarm went off, not realizing I was already up and showered… Good thing Sunday was a much shorter day…more about that tomorrow.