2016

31 Dec

I’ve been working on this for a while.  I was going to do a “woe is me, why do I even bother” post but I started out what I though was going to be a short list of the High points of the year and I find that I’ve had a good year and despite of our tribulations, we are blessed. So I am rewriting this and hopefully it doesn’t come out too disjointed.

There have been some high points.

  • Taking Talia to Disney World
  • Finishing The Dark Side Challenge at Disney
  • Paul McCartney concert for Nancy’s Birthday
  • 2016 Salem Sibling Segway Summer Spectacle
  • My and Janine’s 15 wedding anniversary
  • Talia WINNING her Halloween race
  • Talia and Nicky Trick-Or-Treating
  • Rockapella Holiday Concert

But the year hasn’t ended on a high note.  We had a MAJOR incident in the house, we had a water issue that ruined the basement ceiling, the clean up crew had to GUT our kitchen and we wound up with a lesser Christmas tree, couldn’t cook Christmas dinner or Christmas Eve dinner so we didn’t have the feast of the 7 fishes or Bouillabaisse for Christmas Eve for the first year since my mother passed which really bothered me more than I thought it would.

I’ve let my fitness flag and I’ve abandoned healthy eating.  I haven’t felt motivated to take care of myself in months and our current situation isn’t helping me turn things around.  Gotta make a change.

It’s time to think about goals for next year.

Little Goals

  • Start Running 3-5 days a week
    • Be able to constantly run 3 unbroken miles and then more
  • Get back to healthy eating
  • Yoga on Mondays and Fridays

Medium Goals

  • Fit into Large shirts and Comfortably into 38-36 pants
  • Be able to bang off 30 pushups
  • Dust off the carboys
  • New Kitchen

Large Goals

  • Run a half marathon
  • Monkey Bars
  • Rope Climb
  • Fit back into medium shirts and comfortably into 36-34 pants

 

Working towards my goals will help me focus on positive things and not wallow.  We have some good things on the docket already.  We are taking Talia back to Disney in April and to see Janine’s family in the summer, maybe right before public kindergarten starts or perhaps in July, we’ll see.

We should have the new kitchen by end of spring maybe even before.  I think we’ll try to do something more gardeny with the back yard.  Good things will happen, we just gotta go for it.

 

It’s all up from here.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

24 Nov

We’ve had a rough month as of late.  We woke up one morning to a big chunk of our basement ceiling having collapsed as it turns out the upstairs refridgerator had the water lead in for the icemaker rot through and leak everywhere and we didn’t find out until the water damage made it to the basement and we’re going to have to gut a chunk of the house when they come to find/clean the mold. But it’s still safe to live here while they do their thing we just won’t have a kitchen for the month of December and we have to change the lock on the front door as they old owners didn’t have a key and we will soon have it as our only way in/out of the house until repair/mitigation and reconstruction are done.

 

So I am thankful for home owners insurance but there is so much more I am thankful for.

We have a roof over our head (and the floor didn’t collapse)

We have heat

We have food on the table

Talia has everything she needs and a fair amount of what she wants (but she’s not getting a pony)

Janine and I are very happy and we have a wonderful daughter.

We have our health, all of us.  I am not as fit as I was 2 years ago but I have something to work on and I’m healthy enough to get fit.

We are very thankful for our friends and family, we couldn’t do it all without you.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

And so it ends

14 Aug

Today is Talia’s last day at her current daycare.   When we moved to Billerica we had to find a daycare for Talia.  Because we moved in December pickings were slim.  We found one and only one place that had openings for all week long/all day long and for her age.  It wasn’t the place right near our house that seemed to get good reviews online but we didn’t have options so we were happy to have a place at all.

About a month or so after she started going there (might have been closer to two because she missed a bunch of days because of all the snow in late January into  February) her daycare mentioned that Talia was having a little bit of trouble settling in and offered to keep a notebook that they would write reports into for us to see and we could take it home on the weekends and look at it at the end of every day.

They stopped adding to the notebook after a week or two so we were under the impression nothing else was going on.  This was at the end of March.  We were happy to have had the book because The Clubhouse sent home a note at the end of everyday good days and bad and we liked to see at least at a wide view how her day went.

Well towards the end of June one day at drop-off Janine is pulled aside and told that Talia has very serious emotional problems and we need to get her professional help before she winds up a troubled teenager.  They give Janine the number for someone to call and she can look at the binder the place we can call left at the school complete with a tear off phone numbers.

We Janine calls me at work.  She’s understandably upset and fearing she might not be a good mother.  I try my best to console her and let her know we’ll do anything and everything for Talia to get the help she needs.

Now I get off the phone and I realize that the only reason Talia is not at the clubhouse any more is because I couldn’t hack the commute from Derry to Canton, so this is all my fault and I’m a horrible father and husband. It’s a good thing my office is in the back and nobody in the adjacent offices was in that day because I started swearing loudly, slammed all my desk drawers THE FUCK shut and completely lost my mind.

So I look up the phone number for the place on Google to see what these people are about.  All I get is “emergency psychological care”  I can’t find anything to even suggest these people would be appropriate to bring Talia to and they didn’t answer the phone when we called.

Shortly after we go on vacation for a week with Dave and Mali and Dave’s two kids.  Mali and Dave kept a surreptitious eye on Talia and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.  This was pretty well in keeping with my Janine’s and my observations that she’s just a normal 3 year old.

After Janine got pulled aside we started prompting the daycare for more info and reports every day.  We were often told that Talia had another temper tantrum.  When we got home we’d try to talk to her about it and Talia would try to change the subject by telling us that one of the other kids was calling her Talia-Walia.  After the 3rd or 4th time this scenario played out we realized that she might not just be trying to change the subject but that something might be going on at school.

Janine mentions this to the school and is told that they know another one of the children is calling everyone names and “they are working on the situation”.

Gee, wonder if that is contributing to whatever problem you think you are seeing….

A couple of weeks after vacation we aren’t getting any reports of any problems so maybe the vacation did her good… but then we are told by the afternoon person that the morning person told her that Talia had a SERIOUS meltdown but she didn’t have all the details because it only came up in reference to another child’s incident.

Janine is about to take away privileges for Talia that night and starts to talk to Talia about it on the way home from daycare.  It comes up that Talia had sand thrown in her eyes by another child.  So we were about to punish Talia for reacting to being hurt.

That was the point where we decided we were pulling Talia out of the school as soon as we could find another place.

Maybe the following week Julie and Jamie are over for dinner and we start talking about Puddle Duck, the place in Woburn that Nicky goes to.  Julie highly endorsed it.

That Saturday, I go to a race with Tony, Kristine and her Daughter.  After the race we stop for food and I ask Tony to tell me about Puddle Duck and all these details come out.

Kristine, who runs a daycare, looses her mind over how badly our current daycare handled everything and how contrary they operate to what is normal, customary and possibly legal in Massachusetts.  Seriously, she all but wanted to go matrix lobby scene on them and recommended pulling Talia right then and there.

The following weekend Kristine came over along with Tony, Julie and Nicky for a cookout and to also evaluate Talia.  Her considered expert opinion was that Talia is a normal 3 year old child and again called for Talia’s removal from her daycare.

Well, we contacted Puddle Duck and got her in starting this Monday and gave our two weeks notice to the current daycare and Janine sent a very thoughtful letter along with our two weeks notice.

The biggest thing we pointed out was the lack of communication not only between staff and parents but also and perhaps most importantly between the morning and afternoon staff.

The owner replied to Janine’s email to let her know that they are taking Jainine’s critism to heart and starting with the fall session they will be giving all the parents daily reports for all the children.

I have almost broken my keyboard and desk when I got the text from Janine to me and Kristine relaying that information.  Thankfully this is all over now and Talia gets to go to “school” with Nicky.

Bay of Fundy International Marathon

29 Jun

Last year I ran my first marathon at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (yes the have one). It was hilly as all get-out. Seriously seriously hilly. I was running it in memory of my Mom and and it took me a long time but I finished it. Yesterday was my second marathon. I wanted a nice destination marathon we could make a trip out of.

We rented a NICE house for the week to have a nice vacation in Maine, or vacation land as they call it. This marathon started in the US and continues into Canada and then back to the United States. It seemed a good talking point and RATHER unique so why not, I wanted another marathon for this year since the first was so daunting and I wanted to try it again.

On Saturday we had to pickup all our race stuff, half of which was in Canada and half still in the US (Maine). They did this so they could pre-clear you across the border and the prerace meal in Canada was Lobster literally off the boat/docks which was awesome. Sunday the forecast was for RAIN and cold and MORE RAIN. I picked up a rain running jacket before leaving for our trip so I was going to be all good (right?)

Sunday morning I walked to the High School in Lubec and took the bus 6 miles to the starting line in the easternmost part of the United States. On the way to the race I noticed a great deal of people on the bus were Marathon Maniacs, jackets and all. These people run a LOT of marathons, in fact the woman on the seat across from me was running in her 50th state with this marathon and was getting a "50 thousand dollar trophy" which we all thought would be pretty impressive but she meant with the race fees travel and lodging she was spending about 1000 dollars per race.

We get to the starting area about an hour before race time so everybody is milling about. They had contractor bags for makeshift ponchos which I’m super glad I took as I was STILL soaked to the bone by the end of the race even with my erratz poncho and running jacket. They also had water and tubs of vaseline with I am not ashamed to say I was happy to see when I realized I hadn’t put bandaids over my nipples.

I started telling someone about my bus ride last year where I was talking to someone and mentioned last year was my first marathon and I got a very crestfallen "oh" which told me I was in trouble that day. The guy I was talking to (a jacket wearing Marathon Maniac) said "so for your first two marathons, you picked two of the most difficult marathons in the country" I said "Well this can’t be worse than last year" and he said "I’ve done both, this is probably worse" Oh oh….

The National Anthems were sung (US and Canadian) and we were off. The first 6 miles were positively flat, I was on pace for a 4 hour 45 minute marathon which would have been quite the PR. But then we hit the Canadian Border. I noticed the 26 mile sign on the other side of the road so it’s 10 miles into Canada and back.

web-BFAA0839

The hills made last year look like level ground. The runners I had picked out early in the race I thought I could finish ahead of eventually passed me one by one.  At the 16 mile mark we went all the way into the island and had a turnaround at the ocean overlook. I got to the turn around with 2 women and a big guy I really thought I’d be able to finish ahead. 10.2 miles to go!!!

By this time, at mile 16, I was flagging if not "bonking", my feet hurt, every hill either up or down HURT and the Canadian part of the course was all hills. The two women eventually pulled ahead of me and I finally lost sight of them after about mile 18 which is about the point where an ambulance kept pulling up to me and the other guy, seeing if we were ok and then driving up the road about another mile to ask us as we passed again all the way to the border.

web-BFAC1884

The big guy passed me at a water station that I walked through (I always walk water stations for the mini break and not to wear my water/gatorade) but I caught up to him and paced him for a while, at mile 20 we still hadn’t seen anyone come towards us so we were the last two people. I reached over to him and shouted "WE’VE FUCKING GOT THIS" and we fist bumped. As slow and suffering as I was I finally started pulling ahead of him and I could hear people cheering him at the last couple of water stations (miles 22 and 24) about 45-60 seconds behind me, so I was gonna finish ahead of him but not by too much.

At mile 26 I crossed the border back into the US and the last .2 miles was flat town roads into the middle of town for the finish. Janine and Talia were waiting to cheer me on and fill my heart with joy. 

web-BFAB1964web-BFAB1965web-BFAB1966

I finished and I tried to make my way back to where they were to hug them but one of the volunteers literally steered me into the "runner refill" tent. Janine and Talia came down to the runner tent and gave me the two best hugs of my life. I ran back to the finish line to see the big guy finish but he wasn’t quite as far behind me as I thought. They were bringing him into the medical/massage tent as he was apparently having a five alarm cramp. I went into the tent to give him a high five and he thanked me for the support/inspiration as he was about to quit when I fist bumped him 🙂

So my lessons learned

  • I did the overwhelming majority of my training on the Minuteman Bike Trail.  It’s on my way home from work and not far from home on the weekends.  However it crosses streets about every mile to mile and a half.  I’ve trained myself to want to stop running after a mile or maybe 2 and rest before running again.   I need to start training in more places than just there, maybe the lake in wakefield and around town in Billerica.

 

  • I really really need to check elevation maps before I sign up for a marathon.  Two years straight I picked a hillacious (see what I did there?) marathon, and if I run another marathon next year, I need to find one where elevation changes aren’t a major part of the race.

 

I made it though.  Soaked to the bone, aching all over and totally depleted but I made it.

I know my mom, Pete, and everyone else I dedicated my run to looked down and smiled when I crossed that finish line.

6 Days

18 Jan

We didn’t get a whole lot done Wednesday-Friday.  Janine got stuff from Wal-Mart we need for the new house and some stuff packed and tossed.

Yesterday Janine had a baby shower, while she was at the shower I got the kitchen about 80% done.  We have just a little bit of food to decide if we are taking and tossing and the last box or two of glasses and dishes.  I should be able to get that done before the games if not during them.

We brought some stuff to Billerica last night and brought back a bunch of new house trash to toss into the dumpster here in Derry which I don’t feel at all bad about because we pay a condo fee here and they never ever come to shovel and plow early enough that I won’t do it myself.

We went to the Onion on our way back home last night.  If you know me, you’d be very surprised to find out that I didn’t get Chorizo hash.  It may or may not have been a thinly veiled attempt to go again before we’re gone, but I have always meant to try anything else off their menu, so cheeseburger with a sunny side up egg sounded like a decent idea.

I’m going to get the kitchen done today and Janine’s doing a bunch of stuff.  We’re cutting it close, but I think we’ll muddle through.  Janine is off Wednesday though the end of the week and I’m off Thursday and Friday so we can get things banged out while Talia’s at Daycare.

11 days

13 Jan

Over the weekend we got a little packing done on Saturday, but only a little because I was working from home and then we had football.

Sunday we went to Ocean State Job Lots to pickup the area rug that’s going in my basement room so we could move the area rug we bought for the basement room into our bedroom.  We didn’t get carpet because we weren’t entirely sure about our square footage, and as the man says, we don’t need caaarpet, we need an Aaaarrreeeaaaa Ruuuugggggg.

We then went to the Londonderry Home Depot to pick up the Electric Fireplace we had scoped out.  Sadly they only had the display model left and wouldn’t let us buy it because there was a one in stock in Tewksbury and we told them we were taking things to Billerica.  As it turned out this was probably a good thing.

So we go to the new house, drop off the area rug and head to Homedepot in Tewksbury to get the fireplace.  We had a couple of homedepot guys get it into the Rav4 and we drive back to the new house.

We tried to get the box out of the car and it’s TOO DAMN HEAVY!!! so we opened the big box and took in the 3 sub boxes which weren’t exactly light either but we were able to get them in.  Then it was back to the house to do what little shopping we needed for the week and laundry.

Today we headed down to the new house.  I arrived first and got the big area rug moved upstairs to our bedroom before Janine came down Box o’ Joe in hand. Verizon came next and installed FIOS, our phone and our internet. While the verizon guy is doing his thing Janine assembled the electric fireplace that will be our TV stand in the basement, it’s pretty and if we choose to have it do so, kicks off a fair amount of heat.

We had the TV that will be in the kitchen to test out the TV boxes and everything is good to go except that the arm that the TV would connect to in the kitchen seems to be missing a plate or something so we need to see if we can get the plate or have to replace the unit.

We found a decent pizza place, named, oddly enough, Al’s pizza (love the name) and they have excellent greek style pizza, but we’ll have to conduct further research as time permits.

Bob’s discount then arrived and delivered our kitchen table, living room set, new bed room set and Talia’s new bedroom set.  The couch should have feet to have it be slightly raised from the floor so opening the sofa bed doesn’t hack up the floor, they are on order and will be fedexed to the new house but right now the couch is sitting on cardboard pieces so as not to scratch the floor.

They got everything setup and put into place and it is at this time we remembered that we didn’t order a mattress and box spring for Talia’s bed just the frame so we went and ordered a set, it’s getting delivered next Friday still ahead of Talia, so we’re good.

It’s now time to start packing things we didn’t want to pack just yet and figure out exactly what we want to eat until we move so we can pack pots and pans and either pack, eat or toss food.

The end game is in sight.

15 Days

9 Jan

Well, I personally didn’t get too much done during the week.  I helped get the house presentable enough to show our renting agent but that was about it from my end of things.

Janine on the other hand….

Janine packed at the Derry house, including the broom cupboard-closet which was a GIAGANTIC project, brought donations to the homeless vet drop and also brought a bunch of mismatched sheets and such to the veterinarian.  And then today…  Janine went to the new house, cleaned and disinfected the fridge lined the cabinets and drawers with contact paper and supervised the Electricians that came and updated all the electric and eliminated all the bush-league split and spliced coax that is all through the house and also oversaw the plumber that came in and disconnected the gas dryer and capped off the gas. Oh and she met with the aforementioned renting agent.  We should be able to get nearly enough to cover mortgage and condo fee here but not quite.  The small hit will be worth it to get closer to where the action is.

I’m updating our fiancial server at work tomorrow but through the magic of current technology I will be doing it from home so during the times where things process and I wait I could get a box or two packed or something.

Sunday, we’ll probably bring some stuff down to the new house we dont want movers moving and lay out the area rug before furniture is delivered tuesday.