26 July 2012

Lake Winnipesaukee- Part I

Last week I spent all of my time with two very different families at one of my favorite destinations: Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. For Nor'Easterners, you should already know what this magical lake is. For Westerners, it's sort of like Lake Powell but with pine trees, only not at all. The only think they might have in common is the enjoyment factor. Anyway, this was the second of my four vacations this Summer. I spent the first two days with my best friend Brian Starck and his family, including his fiancee. I have been friends with Brian and his family since middle school when we first put our lips together, on separate trumpets, and began our illustrious musical careers together. His career lives on in New Hampshire, and mine, I'm afraid, mostly went extinct when I went on my mission.
But back to the vacation. Brian has a house up at the Lake and I tend to go up and visit him there every few years. Because the only times I ever to go New Hampshire are to vacation, I naturally only have fond feelings toward the Granite State.
With Brian's family we piddled around the lake on a pontoon boat, ate like kings, laid out and swam in the lake, and spent an entire day kayaking. We kayaked to an island uninhabited and ate lunch with the loon residents. We went to Mass, ate delicious ice cream, survived a loss of electricity, and lived free. There was no dying, luckily.
One of the highlights of the stay for me was getting to know Brian's fiance a little better. They have been dating since shortly into undergraduate and I'm really excited for them to get married. As I feel practically a part of Brian's family, it's almost like I'm gaining a cousin with the addition of Amanda.
Next July they are getting married on Lake Winnipesaukee. Brian rented a wetsuit with a bowtie painted on, and Amanda's dress is water resistant. Their plan is to take the pontoon boat out to Alton Bay, perform the ceremony and offer their vows, then throw the rings in the lake and dive in after them. Kind of a weird spin off to a traditional wedding I'd have to say, but there you have it; I'm not the one getting married. I will be present at the wedding though, so I'll guess I'll need to bring my Speedo.
PS- They really are getting married, but in a nice Church up on the shores of the Lake.

22 July 2012

Saturday Chores and More

My parents have been having trouble with some pests in the garage recently. There was abundant evidence of uninvited guests and some wires in the car even got eaten straight through. The problem became amplified when we discovered a tunnel in the dirt going from the garden into the garage. The tunnel was so sophisticated that it had a railcar, lighting, and airholes; it was about 1.5 feet long. My parents tried to remedy the situation peacefully, hiring a lawyer to write up an eviction notice which was then stapled to the garage door and the tunnel entrance, but still the problems persisted. We knew an extermination order was due so we chose Saturday as the day to send a strong message to these pests. We weren't sure what the pests were, but the sand shovels, hockey sticks, and tennis balls suggested only one creature: neighborhood kids. Our predictions were confirmed when we say Billy, the 9 year old two doors down, walking past our house chewing on what unmistakably was car tubing. We did some research online about how to exterminate neighborhood kids from garages but none of the methods suggested looked ethical or legal. We decided to go rogue and solve the problem ourselves. If you want creatures never to come back you destroy their houses. As such, we burned the garage down. Just kidding. Instead we pulled everything out of the garage, filled up 4 garbage cans and 15 contractor bags (with junk like old wood, not with children), and swept up many nests and even a tree house the kids had built in the garage rafters. We plugged the tunnel with every kid's nightmare- broccoli- and then began putting things back into the garage. We were careful not to put things in the corner this time, and vowed to take care of the problem in the future before it got out of hand.
The next project was fixing the bathroom sink. My father declared war on the sink, and they appear to be in a stalemate. One photo of the carnage has surfaced, though I don't feel it does justice to the tragedy that has unfolded in my washroom. The only suggestion I could offer to Captain Bennett was so stop sawing off the
handles of my sink. It makes washing your hands, well, very hot. If I ever try to wash my face while visiting home I'm going to return to DC looking like Scarface. I'm not quire sure what Captain Bennett's next move is going to be, but the faucet is holding its position pretty steadily.
When the Saturday morning projects were done it was time for some R&R.  R and R, of course, standing for Riding and Revving. My Father, the Captain Bennett, in a show of intimidation to the neighborhood kids invading our garage and to the sink refusing to cool down, recently acquired his motorcycle's license. With this information we knew we had to go out riding and revving together. Luckily for us we have some amazing friends with amazing toys, like four Harleys. We borrowed them and went our for a stunning afternoon ride through gorgeous countrysides. We had no destination but absolute Zen in mind, and I think we both achieved it. We cruised, we went slow, we went fast, we saw equestrians practicing, we ate some bugs unintentionally, we bonded, and we picked up my Mom and took her for a ride. It was just a spectacular afternoon. Now do you see why I love visiting my family in Boston so much?

10 July 2012

Take Your Brother to Work Week: Stay at Home Mom Edition

Last week the Bennett hotel was overbooked so I moved out. Rather than stay at a boring Day's Inn or Ramada I chose to move in with my sister in Georgetown (a neighborhood of DC). She and her husband and my only niece, Ruby, live in a nice three bedroom townhouse. I spent the whole week with them, learning the ropes of being a stay at home mom while Father Jeff went to work. Here I will describe some of my observations and funny experiences.
On Monday we went to the National Museum of Natural History in the morning. That's a great place. Ruby loved all the 'stuffed animals,' especially and including the giant elephant and the giraffe. I even had a great time down there.
  • Lesson number one: Being a stay at home mom is much more enjoyable when both the kids and the parents are interested in the activity. It would have been a long day at the museum if it had not been so fascinating.
On Tuesday we went to a children's concert down by the river. A man stepped out of a van and offered to sing to us so we obliged. There were many other moms and nannies there so we figured it was legit. There were bandanas to wave around, egg shakers to shake, and bells to ring. This part of the story is true (actually everything else was, except for the man in the van): A Mom turned to me while I was singing the ABCs and said "You have a very nice voice!" I said thanks and told her it was one of my favorite songs. She then said to me "So what do you do with your voice?" Me: "Um, what do you mean?" Her: "I mean, do you sing professionally or anything?" This kind woman honestly asked me if I sang professionally based on my sing-along version of the ABCs. If anyone has ever heard me sing they know that I was not exactly blessed with an angelic singing voice. Sometimes at Church I like to sit next to the opera singer in our ward and lip-sync really aggressively in hopes that others will think it's me that's actually singing.
Wednesday was the Fourth, so Father Jeff was home and we went out separate ways- me to a BBQ and them to a parade.
Thursday we went to the Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art and rode the carousel on the Mall. It was also delightful.
  • Second lesson: DC is a great place to be a stay at home mom. There is so much free stuff and so much outdoors or indoors stuff to do. How's your city compare?
Friday we went to another children's concert- this time out at Wolftrap. Wolftrap is an outdoor concert hall, similar to Tanglewood in MA, and is operated by the National Park Service. The children's concert (Elizabeth Mitchell for all you mommies who are wondering) was great. Never mind that it was 102F out, we were in the shade and in the woods. All the children were really cute and it was enjoyable to be out at Wolftrap on a non busy day.
  • Lesson Three: Stay at home moms work hard. Kids are ever needy, and there is no shortage of tasks to accomplish. Sure there's some perks like hanging out in museums all morning and napping in the afternoon, but all in all it's a no break job. There's no rest for a stay at home mom.
  • 4th Lesson: It's absolutely necessary to get out of the house every day. Even if it's just a walk around the neighborhood, getting out of the house at least once a day is a must.
I often thought that I would like being a stay at home Dad but now I realize it would definitely take some getting used to. I also realized that stay at home Dads are extremely rare. I did see some Dads out and about during our events, but none of them were alone with the kids. There was always a mother along.
It was a great experience for me, and now I'm much more in tune with all you stay at home moms.