Monday, February 28, 2011

Look in the mirror

Today President Obama said that public workers should not have "their rights infringed upon", an obvious reference to the proposal in Wisconsin to eliminate collective bargaining. So, Mr. Obama, I guess we should expect a proposal from you to help federal workers by restoring their right to collective bargaining?

I didn't think so.

Typical double speak by a Democrat.

No, really?

So Ted Kennedy rented out a brothel in Chile in 1961? You could have knocked me over with a feather!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Darn good vacation

Alas, February Vacation has come to a close...and I have so much work that I didn't do! I should have corrected a ton of papers and planned a bunch of lessons but I didn't do a lick of work this 1week. Instead, I had a lot of fun with the kids.

On Wednesday I took them out to Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield for a snowman making event. The snow was too hard to make round ones so they made square ones. The rangers made a HUGE circle on a patch of snow and outlined it with the snowmen. There must have been 100 or so. Kevin was into it for a bit but quickly got distracted. So, we went for a walk in the carriage around the park. We came back when they were finishing up so we admired the snowmen, had some hot chocolate, and roasted a marshmallow and were on our way.

On Thursday I was going to take them to a talk on beach birds on Revere Beach but we got going too late. So we went to my sister-in-laws in Melrose instead so Kevin and Erin could play with their cousins Shannon and Keegan. We stayed there for a few hours and because it was a nice day, we still took a ride to Revere Beach and went for a brisk walk. I parked at the far end of the beach (the end heading towards Lynn) and walked up to Kelly's and then back. We then took a ride to Lynn/Nahant Beach because the last time we were there, I couldn't find the stamp box for Kevin's passport. Even in the daylight I couldn't find it so I reported it to the DCR! I reported a missing one at the state park in Lowell last summer and they put a new one up right away.

On Friday I met up with my sister-in-law again at Imajine (sic) That in Lawrence, a big indoor play place. The kids love this place and Erin is now old enough to enjoy it. She had a blast climbing their tunnel thing and going down the slide. We actually stayed here for four hours until it was time for Erin's 1-year check-up. She passed with flying colors! The doctor said she was perfect and for us to keep doing what we're doing. From there we went to my parent's house for Erin's birthday party. Our condo is too small to host big parties so my parents graciously offered their place. My father made his world famous pizza which was a big hit.

And yesterday topped it all off. I took Kevin into Boston for a ride to George's Island. I've only been to the Boston Harbor Islands once before and that was with Lynn in 2003 or so. George's Island was primarily a military site, most famously a prison during the Civil War. Among the prisoners was Alexander Stephens, the former vice president of the Confederacy. That blew my mind. Lynn dropped us off in Boston and the boat ride was about 20 minutes. Once on the island, we looked around the visitor's center which had cool exhibits and an 8-minute movie about the island. The movie was very well done, much better than your usual National Park fare. Kevin actually sat through the whole thing. We then toured the island and the fort. You could walk on top of the fort and get amazing views of Boston and the surrounding islands. It was pretty cold and windy and it wasn't unbearable. The thing that was unbearable was Kevin asking me to carry him all the time! We were on the island for about 2 hours and the "cannon" shot around 1:30pm calling us back to the boat.

Someone told me on the boat that Sullivan's at Castle Island was opening that day so when Lynn picked us up, I suggested we head over there. The line was out the door and straight down to the street. But the service at Sullivan's is super fast so I was only in line for about 15 minutes. We ate our food by the water and then played for a bit on the playground. We headed home around 3:45pm and went to our church for an event. Last night they began a series of monthly dinners and talks on parenting led by a woman from Lowell General Hospital. Between now and May from 5pm-7pm on the last Saturday of the month, the parish provides a free meal, free babysitting, and the free talk! Most of our friends were there and it was a pretty free ranging discussion, it was a lot of fun. The kids were in and out of the babysitting room running in and out but of course no one minded.

Sorry to see it all end but there will be more fun this weekend as Kevin, my friends Bill and Dan, and I head to the Berkshires for some camping!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Democratic hypocrisy

No one has ever accused the Democrats of being consistent. Within seconds of the shootings in Tucson, Democrats were falling over themselves calling for "civility" and an end to "hateful political speech." Sarah Palin was seen as the second coming of Adolf Hitler for her "rhetoric" and some even blamed her for the violence.

Now, we have Rep. Michael Capuano telling union workers "Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”

What a hypocrite this guy is.
After Tucson he said:

“Everybody knows the last couple of years there’s been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse,” he said. “If nothing else good comes out of this, I’m hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things."

Surprised? Not me.

Obama wimping out

Amazing column from the National Jounral on President Obama settling for the status quo and the same old same old rather than hope and change. See it all here but below is a taste:

President Obama has chosen to play the political equivalent of the prevent defense as his reelection campaign approaches by deferring tough decisions on entitlements.

His budget made no attempt to change the Medicare and Social Security programs, and barely made a dent in spending cuts.

His agreement to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in last year’s lame-duck session has been followed by an embrace of the protesters in Wisconsin, both of which are off key in an economic situation that demands sacrifice from all.

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wants to “win the future,” but his policies remain stuck in a 20th-century mindset defending a strained government entitlement system and public-sector unions.

His own message was clear: Wait for Republicans to take the initiative, at their own political peril. And that they did. The contrast between the White House and GOP messages couldn’t have been more at odds with each other last week—one that is poised to set the tone for the 2012 presidential election.

SNIP

So the stakes in Wisconsin are high. Obama can’t win reelection in the Rust Belt by just winning over his labor allies and liberal activists. He needs to win back the independents that deserted his party in the last midterms.

It was very telling that the Democratic National Committee initially boasted of its work sending volunteers to protest in Wisconsin last week—with Organizing For America in Wisconsin ginning up the troops—and then, one day later, said they did nothing to encourage the demonstrations.

There was also the president’s own engagement, calling Walker’s plan an “assault on unions” to a Wisconsin reporter before radio silence descended on the subject ever since.

It’s a sign of the tricky balance the White House faces. The administration is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping the public believes Walker overreached in his desire to contain the unions’ influence. But Obama runs the greater risk of looking tone deaf by accepting the status quo of public sector workers’ benefits at a time when states are struggling to balance budgets and unemployment remains high.

That’s not a formula for winning back the center.

Public sector thuggery

Michael Graham of 96.9 braved the 1,000 public sector workers (why weren't they working) at the protest on Beacon Hill yesterday. See his experience here but below is a taste:

What I found most significant was how little effort was spent on argument and persuasion. I don’t mean arguing with people like me. I mean there were virtually no signs making the case for public-sector unionization, or refuting the arguments that people like Gov. Walker are making.

The same with the speakers, like Gov. Patrick and Congressman Capuano. At a Tea Party rally, you hear speakers saying “ObamaCare stinks, and here’s why.” At this rally, all I heard was “Unions rule, and here’s what we’re going to do to anyone who doesn’t like it.”

Pure, brute political force. And in Massachusetts, that’s all that matters. Government union members showed up at Beacon Hill yesterday, not to make their case, but to make a threat.

“Politicians—do what you’re told. Or else.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Washington's Birthday at State Parks

So I couldn't convince Lynn to celebrate Washington's Birthday by checking out some Revolutionary War sites in Boston (BTW - we did get engaged at one, Dorchester Heights). So instead we decided to check out some state parks (gee, what a shock).

There was a program at Dunn Park in Gardner that we wanted to check out. It was a nature walk discovering the signs of spring. That wasn't until 2pm but the kids were going crazy and we knew we had to get out early. So we decided to leave around 10am and check out some additional parks before Dunn. Our first stop was Lake Dennison Recreation Area in Winchendon. There wasn't much to see as this is mostly a beach area. During the winter it seems the only thing to do is snowmobiling. The most exciting part of this park was standing outside the car with Lynn and then turning around to see her laid out flat on her stomach. She slipped on a huge patch of ice as soon as she got out of the car. I expressed my concern for a minute before breaking out in laughter. Kevin scolded me saying I shouldn't laugh at mommy as "it hurts her feelings." But it was just too funny to hear her get out of the car and then turn around and see her laid out flat.

I would get my comeuppance at our next park, Otter River State Forest which is right down the road from Lake Dennison in Baldwinville. This park is pretty desolate this time of year and we were the only people there. We just walked down a long road that leads to the campground area and, I assume, Otter River. It was a complete sheet of ice covered in snow - I fell about 3 or 4 times and Kevin fell just as many. Lynn was pushing Erin in the carriage so she was able to keep her balance. We walked about 1/4 mile in and found the stamp box and headed back. It was a nice, brisk walk.

From there we made it to Dunn State Park for the 2pm program. We got there early so we ate lunch in their visitors center which is warmed by a fire place. Kevin and I spent some time on the ice until he fell and bumped his head! The kids weren't really into the talk but we did spend some time on the hike. It was getting cold and Kevin was just playing in the snow so it was time to go. It was nice, however, spending a good deal of time outside enjoying the crisp air.

I think we're going to do a bunch more parks this week. I really want to be outdoors as I've been inside too long. Tomorrow I think we will stay local and head to Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover for some "winter fun." On Thursday I have to decide between snowshoeing in Weymouth or learning about birds on Revere Beach. Hmmmm.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day with the boy

Had a wonderful day with Kevin today. We both went to the 10am Mass where he was relatively well behaved. He would only go downstairs for the kid's liturgy of the word if I went with him and carried him down. I refused to carry him downstairs so we just went back to our pew where he let me hold him for a good 10 minutes or so. After Mass, however, he ran like hell downstairs to make sure he got a donut. I always feel like a slob being the first one there so I always let him run ahead and I walk slow so I don't look like I am hurrying too!

It was nice chatting with folks who all have kids around the same age as Kevin. There are about five of us couples who are friendly, are around the same age, and who have kids. We all go to the 10am Mass and often catch up at coffee and donuts.

After Mass Kevin and I headed West to Holyoke. Our first stop was the Holyoke Heritage State Park. The highlight here is a merry go round that is over 80 years old. I get the impression that it was part of a local amusement park that closed and is now part of the state park. It actually moved pretty fast for a merry go round - we went on it twice. I didn't have any cash and you could only use your debit card if you spent $10. Kevin had his heart set on some popcorn so I bought $9 in snacks, spent $2 for the ride, and $1 for the popcorn. The snacks will come in handy over the week.

After this, we headed over to Mt. Tom, also in Holyoke. There was supposed to be a talk/hike on discovering signs of spring but it turns out that it is next week. I am not going crazy - it is listed as today on the DCR calendar so they made the error. It wasn't a big deal - Kevin had fun walking on Lake Bray, part of the state park. After last week's ice skating fiasco at a real rink, it was fun to be out on ice on sneakers. Kevin loved it and we could have spent hours just walking around.

Since I now had time, I decided to check out one more state park. I discovered that the Norwottuck Rail Trail was nearby so we went there. This is a 10 mile trail than spans the Connecticut River over an old train bridge. The bridge is 1,492 feet long and Kevin loved it. We walked across the bridge and Kevin spent time on the other side poking holes into the snow. The little things in life...

The trail is part of the Connecticut River Greenway - a span of a number of parks from the border with Vermont/New Hampshire to Connecticut. We visited one of them last year - Mt. Sugarloaf which has AMAZING views of the river valley.

This took us to about 4:30 and most parks are closed by this point so we headed home. It was an awesome day to be outside - cold yet crisp. I certainly want to check out more of Mt. Tom, perhaps even climb it.

Heading to Holyoke

I have spoken of the DCR's passport program a number of times. In sum, you visit a certain number of state parks in a region and collect a stamp from each one. Once you visit all of the ones that are part of the program, you get a free t-shirt. Kevin got one for the Northeast Region earlier this fall.

Now during February Vacation week, if you visit five of the parks in a region during this week you get the t-shirt! So Kevin and I are going to head out to Holyoke today to visit a couple. Why Holyoke? Mt. Tom, which is one of the passport parks, is having an event at 3pm where they look for signs of spring. Sounds cool to me. Before that we'll go to Holyoke Heritage State Park where they have a merry go round. We may try to see one more but I am not sure we'll have time.

Pictures to follow on Facebook.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February Vacation!

February vacation began yesterday at 1pm! Actually, my last class ended at 12:30 or so and I did have a meeting until 2:15. But, it was a lunch meeting so it was all good. I had to leave and take Erin for her one-year check-up. I met my parents as usual and made it to the doctor's office with a few minutes to spare...only to find out that her appointment is next week!

Today was a relatively quiet day. Both Lynn and I needed oil changes on our cars so I went down first to Blanchette's. Blanchette's is owned by a parishioner of our parish who is also one of the parish cantors. They only do oil changes on Saturdays so it's pretty busy and the wait can be well over an hour. But I like to support a fellow parishioner. Plus, he has free coffee and donuts! Lynn came down about an hour after I was there to drop her car off. We then took a ride to the library for a bit. Kevin was spoken to from the librarian about running and being loud...in the children's room. I will concede he shouldn't run but being loud?? It's not like he was screaming.

This afternoon we took a ride to Boston to see Lynn's mother who is at the Faulkner Hospital for a minor illness. After our visit we headed home but stopped at a used book store in Salem, NH. We then decided to get some pizza at Sal's, also in Salem.

I am not sure what tomorrow has in store. Walden Pond is having a neat event about identifying animal tracks - we may check that out. It should be a big week for State Parks - I will keep you posted!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Family weekend

It was a nice weekend with different segments of my family. My parents hosted a birthday party for me and my mother on Friday. My birthday is the 11th and hers is the 4th so we just usually combine our celebrations. It was small - just my parents, my sister, Lynn, Kevin, Erin, and my uncle Johnny. We got Chinese food and had an amazing cake from Market Basket.

On Saturday night, as I mentioned earlier, we all went to Lynn/Nahant beach for marshmallows and hot chocolate. On Sunday we all went to the 11:30am Mass together. We just started going together again a few weeks ago as Kevin is getting better behaving. Actually, it's now Erin who is getting to be a lot of work! She just wants to move and move and move. Gone are the days where she would just let us hold her. We usually go to the 10am Mass and during the readings and homily, all the kids go downstairs for activities. Kevin will only go if Lynn goes with him - someday he will go alone!

I was nervous going to the 11:30am Mass as they don't have the kids' thing but lo and behold, they did this weekend! Our parish has this program called Generations of Faith where every few months they have a meal and talks on various topics. They are designed for all ages with meals and Mass shared together and then breaking up into age specific activities. This recent one was after the 11:30am Mass so they moved the kids' thing to that Mass. So Lynn and Kevin went downstairs for it.

After Mass we headed to a DCR skating rink in Brighton for an open skate. Now I haven't been ice skating in about 20 years (if not more) and Lynn hasn't been in 10. What were we thinking?? I went first with Kevin and he was terrified. I decided to go alone and it was just horrible. All I did was hold on to to the boards. The problem was my skates were too loose - they have to be tied very tight. My ankles killed as a result and I looked like a fool. Lynn took a try too and she looked just like me. $10 down the tubes for skate rentals!

After this, we took the long way home. Kevin loves Boston so we decided to take a little ride through it. We drove up Beacon Street in Brookline, onto Commonwealth Ave, up Beacon Street past the State House, through Downtown Crossing, past Faneuil Hall and then onto 93.

We stopped at Toys r Us in Salem, NH as Lynn had a store credit and they had a buy one get one free sale! I think I had more fun than Kevin looking at all the toys.

All in all, a fun weekend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Today's agenda

I've got cabin fever bad and am always looking for things to do. So after Mass, later this afternoon we're all going to Brighton for an event at the Reilly Memorial Skating Rink. They're having outdoor hikes around (I assume) the reservation there and ice skating. They also said they'll have DCR Park Passport Discovery Program, whatever that means.

Sounds fun to me.

By the fire

Every month during the winter, the DCR has a campfire at one of the North Shore beaches for roasting marshmallows. We missed the first two and we wanted to go last night. So we packed up the kids and headed down to Lynn/Nahant Beach.

Lynn is not easy to get to and I had no idea where I was going (thank goodness for the GPS). But we got there no problem and arrived a little after 6pm. It was pretty darn cold as you would expect (windy) but the fire kept us warm. People were huddled on one side of the fire as the wind on the other side was blowing the smoke in your face. Poor Kevin didn't have mittens but he did pack away a good number of marshmallows (I did too!) and some hot choclate. We stayed for about a half hour or so as that was enough.

This state park is a Passport park but I could not find the stamp box. We drove around twice looking for it to no avail. Next time.

After we left, we wanted pizza so we headed to Pisa Pizza in Malden. My father makes pizza on occasion and he gets the dough from this place. Lynn's brother-in-law piratically lives there, he loves their pizza so much. It is good, I've had it a number of times too. The kids were pretty good and Erin knocked back some meatballs and pizza - she has quite the appetite.

It was nice to get outside even though it was pretty cold. I can still smell the fire on my clothes, such a good smell!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All quiet

Sorry for the lag folks. Life has been pretty quiet lately but work has been keeping me busy. We started our second semester a few weeks ago but it's been stop and go because of the March for Life (which over 100 of our students attended) and the snow. This has been a quasi-normal week with only a delay so far. It looks clear for the foreseeable future. Luckily we have about 8 days built into our schedule so we should be OK.

We're now in that time of year when weekends are so boring, especially Sundays. It's too cold to go outside and there's not a whole lot of indoor activities, especially for kids. There is an outdoor and fishing exhibition this weekend in Worcester - I am considering taking Kevin on Saturday. I am not much of an outdoorsman but we are going camping in March and I'd like to do more of it over time. So maybe I will learn something. Since I am big into state parks and hiking too, it would be interesting to learn about some hiking stuff.

On Saturday night we're going to Nahant for the monthly campfire and marshmellows on the beach. The DCR holds them once a month in the winter on a beach but we've missed the last two. I am looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Last one standing

Pretty cool story on the final American World War I veteran. He turned 110 today! See the story here.

Kerry on Mubarak

For once I agree with Sen. John Kerry. Today he called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to "step aside."

Agreed. The United States needs to be on the right side of history here. It is so amazing to see the people protesting in Egypt. They can't see or hear us thanks to the government shutting off the internet but we see and hear them. You can't stop freedom.

See the story here.