Biking and Sunshine

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We took a trip up to Stowe yesterday. The last time I was there it was cold and snowy and we lugged our skis to the ski lift to enjoy some turns on the slopes. Yesterday we had bikes instead of skis. Our kids have new bikes. Children keep growing, apparently. The last time they had new bikes was years ago. Those bikes look silly now.

Stowe has a fantastic recreation path–five miles end to end. We rode from one end to the other. That ten miles seemed easy, even though we all were a bit rusty with the bike riding. The air smelled of grass and thawing dirt and manure and cold air slipping away. We wore shorts.

My kids, as one of them said to me, “kicked my butt” by zooming ahead. At the beginning of our ride I was advised by my son to slow down. I guess I slowed down too much. But we all ended up at the same place, and we all enjoyed a ride on a doozy of a fine day. Snow still graced the mountains but trout lilies and wild leeks graced the forest floor. I kept feeling my usual awe at the changing of the seasons. I wasn’t all that worried about getting my butt kicked.

Later, after we had gotten home and had dinner, we went out for another short ride. We rode up the hill and down and over the other way. It continued to be a stellar day. We watched the sun get low and the trees glow golden with their young leaves. We did not rush but we broke a sweat nonetheless. We all felt great when we got home. And we all slept well, ready to embrace another winner of day today. So far, we have not been disappointed.

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First Day of School

Our children hopped on the bus today. September one–first day of school. I have to admit I am happy school starts in September. Starting in August is hard to take. I can think of September as fall, but August is still summer, no arguing, even if the temperature is supposed to top 90 today. I am off to work, hoping to get it all done before the bus returns this afternoon. Another school year underway, with the good and the bad that comes with that. My kids were excited and nervous at the same time, as I imagine I was back in the school days. A colleague of mine, when I saw her for the first time since June this week, said to me, “Happy New Year!” I thought that was apt. So here is to a good new year. Cheers!

Bus on the Way

And Off They Go...

Going to Sleep

Ah, the woes of being a parent. My two children seem to be having some trouble falling asleep.  Some commennts they have made recently while they should be falling asleep:

I think I heard something.

I can’t stop thinking about bad things.

I have a question: Can I have two cookies in my snack tomorrow?

I have to tell you something: Why does Mars look so rusty?

I have something else to tell you: Tonight, Jupiter was the only planet in the whole sky.

Can I have a band aid for my cut? I cut myself when I was playing with the Playmobil horse.

Today, at school, I found some treasure in the sandbox and no one would let me keep it.

I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.

I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow.

I have to return my library books tomorrow.

Before you got home we could hear a mouse over by the art table, and you know what? At school, Kristen told us that one time she was with her lawyer and a mouse, I mean a squirrel, popped its head right out of a hole in the wall and she screamed!

How soon is it until Christmas?

I don’t know what I should dream about tonight.

For Christmas, I know just I should order from Santa–a tractor!

I’ve tried everything I can think of to fall asleep but I still can’t fall asleep; I’ve tried to lie this way and that way and do everything and I still can’t even though I tried really hard.

I have to go poop.

When you gotta go…

Halloween Parade

Shelburne hosts a halloween parade every year. There is a lot of candy involved. While other parades (4th of July, Memorial Day, and the like) have discouraged candy tossing (in the name of safety! Children apparently, run into moving vehicles in pursuit of sugared confections), this parade seems to require everyone in it to toss the sweet stuff. My daughter wasn’t feeling well so it was just the boy (with the tractor costume recycled for a third year) and I. He hauled in the loot, despite his inability to bend over with ease, and willingly shared with his sister. Good kid, he.

As with most parades, the ambulance started things off

As with most parades, the ambulance started things off

There were clowns on carts...

There were clowns on carts...

and a paddy wagon of sorts...

and a paddy wagon of sorts...

and this witch cowboy themed float.

and this witch cowboy themed float.

Looks like a stacked deck

Looks like a stacked deck

And get this, after they all pass by, tossing candy all the way, they turn around and come back to toss more. Like I said, lots of candy.

And get this, after they all pass by, tossing candy all the way, they turn around and come back to toss more. Like I said, lots of candy.

Rained Out Again but Enjoying the Rain

My daughter has been participating on a T-ball team (sort of like baseball, except they have the option to bat off a T).  So far she has had only two practices.  Four have been scheduled.  Two have been rained out, including tonight.  The kids are supposed to have a game next Tuesday.  That will be interesting.  Most of the kids don’t know the rules;  they do not know, for example, that touching the bases is part of the deal.  But it’s really about having fun anyway.

Instead of going to T-ball, my children played in the rain instead.  First, on the way home from my son’s school, they played with the windows.  They put them down to clear off the rain, which worked for all of three seconds.  Then they decided to put them down every time a car passed.  They got pretty wet but they were laughing so hard I figured it was OK to let a little moisture into the vehicle.

By the time we got home they were all fired up to run around outside in swim suits.  So they did.  They got soggy and muddy, playing in puddles and sliding down the slide.  They were soaked and dirty when they came in, just in time for a warm dinner.  They really wanted hot chocolate, to get cozy as they put it.  We waited until after dinner for the hot chocolate, then curled up by the fire with jammies.

Soon it will be time to head up for showers and bed.  The rain will likely continue into the evening.  I love going to bed when the rain falls.  I even enjoyed walking out to meet the bus this morning, listening to the rain on the umbrella and smelling the new blossoms.  Lilacs and apple blossoms are out now and the air smells sweet when the rain falls.

I don’t have to water the garden these days.  I just have to sit and watch the rain fall on the soil.  The children know that rain means the garden gets enough to drink, so they are happy when the skies gray and spill over.  Plus, they get to romp in the puddles.  So we had no T-ball practice today, but we all enjoyed what we got anyway.  We’ll get back to the field next week.

Mud and Plastic

My daughter had the idea over dinner that we take a family walk down the road.  When your kid asks to do something outside as a family, it is awfully hard to say no, even if you have your pajamas on unaccountably early and the hour has crept beyond the usual one for dinner.  So I donned the jeans once more, slipped on mud boots with my children, and off we went.

A month ago, the ditch lining the road was deep with ice.  We would walk across with nary a step down.  Now it is muddy, running with melted snow.  The children tossed rocks, some of which made the hoped for splash, some of which stuck impressively into the mud.  They stomped and squished.  The shouted and laughed.  We had a hard time getting them to turn around so we could get home for bed.

We picked up a crazy amount of trash a few weeks ago, but there is more now.  Some of it has peeked out from the ice or snow, but some of it is new.  I can’t get over the amount of new litter to be found in those few weeks.  I want to believe it is just an accident, that each new piece bounced from a truck bed my mistake, but there is too much of it.  People are tossing that crap out the window.  It can bring one down, seeing how someone cares little enough that they will leave it to others to pick up their empties.

We generate enough trash as it is.  Americans generate about 4.6 pounds of solid waste per day, per person, and only about a quarter of it gets recycled, even though we could recycle about 3/4 of it.  A large percentage of that 4.6 pounds seems to wind up along the road.  I picked up two aluminum cans this evening–one whole and filled with mud, the other squashed flat–and one flattened plastic bottle.  I will recycle them.  At least, I will take them to the transfer station to be recycled by someone else, but that is more than my untidy neighbor, whoever he or she might be.

The kids are happy to help me clean things up.  I guess they do understand the importance of cleaning up, even though they left a huge mess on the floor this evening before they went to bed (it got too late to push that one).  They were dirty enough that I told them to leave the rest of the plastic bottles, half buried in the winter’s layer of sand, where they were.  I can go get those later at some point.

I had to do some boot rinsing when we got home.  We were a tad muddy.  I tossed what I was carrying into a blue recycling bin, cleaned some footwear, washed my hands, and headed to the kitchen to clean up that mess.  Sometimes it feels like I spend my whole day cleaning up messes.  But what fun would life be without messes, right?  As soon as I am done here, I think I will pick up all the toys on the floor.  I should probably make the kids clean up their own mess, but I need to be a nice guy once in a while.  Maybe tonight will be that once.

“Night” Skiing

We went up as a family to Bolton Valley this evening for one last bout of night skiing.  The last time I did this was with my daughter, just the two of us, before the daylight savings shenanigans; we skied under the lights and had a blast.  The children were disappointed that there was still plenty of daylight tonight.  We left just after 7:00, the sun setting as we walked back to the car.

Since we lived up at Bolton Valley, we have known that this time of year one can find some of the best skiing to be had.  There is plenty of snow by now and the days are warm enough to soften up even the gnarliest ice.  And now we have sunlight so late that it is more enjoyable than working with the shadows of the bright lights.  In December scores of people are on the mountain.  Often it is icy and thin and crowded and that, I can tell you, is not what I’m talking about.

People get sick of skiing once the warm weather hits.  School skiing programs end.  I think a lot of people kind of forget about it.  They start biking and skateboarding and whatnot.  Spring activities get underway.  Who wants more snow?  At least it seems that is the question that gets asked.  But it really is the time to hit the slopes.  Spring skiing means warm air, fewer people and lots of snow.  What’s not to like?

We were not up there long tonight.  We did a few runs, ate the light dinner we brought, shared a waffle from the waffle cabin and headed home in the fading light.  We will head up again tomorrow to ski with friends.  We are now debating whether or not to purchase season’s passes for next year.  My daughter is now old enough that we need to purchase a pass for her.  With the current prices (“low” for now, soon to rise) it would cost us over a thousand bucks.  Is it worth it?

If we go as many times as this year, and take advantage of discounts and deals when we find them, we might come out even or even ahead when it comes to the bottom line.  The problem is that without passes we will likely go less.  Every time we consider going it will become a financial decision–Do we want to spend a hundred bucks for a couple of runs? Some of those times we will decide not to go because our answer will be no.  Do we want to decide whether we go today or wait until tomorrow?  Or do we want to decide whether we go skiing this weekend at all?

It is a tough call.  I get that we are fortunate enough to be in the position of parsing the details of this question.  I want our kids to learn to ski or ride and choose for themselves if it is a sport they want to pursue.  That means getting them out when they are young.  Just going a handful of times would be fun, but to really learn it they need to do it a lot.  Whether we get passes or not we are talking some bucks.

We had a good time tonight.  Since we spent the money on passes months ago, we had the incentive to go so we get our money’s worth, and we also could feel fine with just a few runs.  Next year could be a different story.