Sunday, June 24, 2012

On the Run and Having Fun, Mostly

Summer vacation is starting off with a flurry of activity. On Tuesday I took Karen's car off to have an oil change, and to have the mechanic sort of poke around to see if there were any obvious issues that would prevent the car from passing inspection in August. Good news: nothing major wrong with the car. Better news: I got to go to lunch with Karen.

On Wednesday, after doing some packing for a trip, I spent some time over at the Wright Museum, a local World War II museum, to be in a movie. A friend of mine from the theater has a friend from his earlier film acting career who is making a short film about a 13-year-old boys who finds himself suddenly back in the War. And he needed some extras, and of course I said yes. Not only did I get to be in a scene in the movie (as a cafe patron), but I got to spend the whole afternoon in an air-conditioned building. Which was truly a treat.

Thursday found us driving down to East Lyme, Connecticut, where we spent the afternoon at a beach on the Long Island Sound. I stayed on a chair on the shady hill overlooking the beach while Karen and the boys played in the water. I got to listen to music (which I don't do as much as I'd like) and read using the Kindle application on my phone. I'm reading The Fifth String, by the legendary composer John Philip Sousa.

That evening, after cleaning up at the motel, we found a restaurant in Groton called Flannigan's, which had a menu published in the phone book that looked very tempting. What the ad failed to mention was that Flannigan's is also a bar, and that they have karaoke night on Thursdays. So it wasn't quiet, but it was fun. Karen and the boys managed to talk me into doing the karaoke bit (twice: one solo of Mac the Knife, and a duet with Daniel of Puff, the Magic Dragon), and William gave it a try although he found he didn't know the lyrics to the Back Street Boys song Larger Than Life as well as he thought. And by the way the food was delicious.

Friday turned out to be a bit gloomy, and not much of a beach day, so we went to visit a museum that we read about in a brochure for Groton, called the Submarine Force Museum. It's adjacent to a naval base, and one of its features is the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus. Unfortunately, we couldn't go on the sub because the air conditioning was down and the temperature inside was well above 100. But the rest of the museum was fascinating, with some great films about submarine history (and one about an underwater spy system called SOSUS that was used to listen for Soviet subs). That's a place we'll go back to.

We also visited a Revolutionary War battlefield, where the only battle of that war to be fought in the State of Connecticut was fought in 1781. The monument that looms over it has a spiral stone staircase inside with 166 steps. Karen and I bowed out, but both boys climbed to the top, and William did it twice!

We also got to explore around the fort a little before it really started to rain. We had planned to visit a little restaurant on the shore in Groton that makes its own pasta, but it was so busy we didn't have time to wait for a seat. So we went back to the restaurant we had eaten breakfast at the morning and had a wonderful dinner before heading for home.

Despite the fact that we got home around midnight, William and I got up the next morning and loaded one of the kayaks on my car. We met the Boy Scouts at the local park, where our kayak joined about a dozen others in the trailers the leaders brought, and William kayaked with his troop all the way to Maine. Okay, it's closer than it sounds, but he was on the water for more than two hours, and swam and played around for about two hours after. Needless to say he slept very well last night.

A lazier day today, expect that we had a lot of cleaning to catch up on, until Daniel, doing the dishes, tried to wash the "fiddle bow" bread knife, which is the sharpest knife we have. And, of course, he sliced his thumb open. So he ended up with three stitches in his thumb for the next 12 days.

But we still had a celebration tonight. Why? Because this morning Daniel had his last dose of medication. And the pain in his thumb didn't stop him from enjoying his cake and ice cream.

That's my boy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And Summer Begins

Forget the calendar and all the astronomy behind it. When you have kids in school, summer officially begins when the school year ends. For us, that's this weekend.

Yesterday Karen and the boys painted the ugly 1-foot fence around the raised garden in the front of the house. They made vertical stripes using paints that we had around the house, and paint samples that were returned to Lowes and placed on clearance for a buck or two. The end result had a lot of personality, added interest to the front of our boring house, and covered some truly awful carpentry by yours truly.

And we ended the day with one of our food experiments. This one was made from taco-seasoned meatballs wrapped in crescent rolls, served with salad, tortilla chips, and two kinds of dip. It was delicious.

Today, Father's Day, after a nice pancake brunch (and an afternoon snack of leftover meatballs), we went out to play miniature golf, contrived to built our own miniature miniature golf course in the back yard (which is not as hard as it sounds—I think), and stopped at one of the local ice cream take-out windows.

Tonight we're having fish tacos for dinner, another recent discovery. If the lead-in to summer vacation is any indication, we're going to be doing some good eating this season.

Which leads me to introduce, as you've noticed if you came here from our site, our new section, "Good Food," which will appear on the sidebar from now on and change whenever we try an interesting food experiment. To ensure you don't miss any, I'll be duplicating the picture and caption in an online gallery. How do you get there? Just click on the picture in the sidebar.

There will be two more sidebar features coming soon. One will be fun house projects, like painting and trimming out the hallway, or actually finishing part of the house, or interesting interior decoration. The other will be the latest craft and art projects from the family. Including tidbits from the books we're writing. That's right, books, plural. Each of us has a project we're working on, and the goal is to finish and go to press by the time the boys go back to school.

You'll learn more about those as the summer goes on. But for now it's off to more mundane things such as laundry and cleaning. And, of course, fish tacos.

Friday, June 08, 2012


It's official. After Danny's last EEG, the neurologist feels comfortable taking him off his medication. It's a gradual process, which will take less than a month, and if everything goes well he'll be done with the medication for good.

The doctor says withdrawing from the medicine might make him more hyperactive for awhile (oh good), but since his total withdrawal is happening as the school year comes to an end, he'll have almost the whole summer to return to normal, whatever that turns out to be. Whatever it turns out to be, it will be nice to know that it's Danny and not the medicine.

Also official is my lack of employment. Measured Progress let us go more than a week earlier than I expected. I guess we are all doing too good a job, because we finished early. I know there's a lot of backwards incentives going on in the world right now, but I didn't see that one coming.

No matter. I'm not heartbroken about being laid off. I need to look for real work, and to spend time selling off Karen's craft collection and our surplus furniture (ah, breathing room) and other items, and working on the books that we are in the process of writing. I'll tell all about those as they get closer to market.

The younger boys have only one more week of school. Lots of activities, including a few road trips, planned for the summer. And the boys and I are going to work on some projects and some lessons during the summer. It will be a bit exhausting, a little hard on the budget, but also a lot of fun, and while I know there will be days I wish they were in school, I'm looking forward to it.

And, I hope I will do a good job of sharing with you on these pages, and through daily pictures, now that the most hectic days are behind me (I like to think) and we can settle down into some kind of routine.