The Bradshaw Blog

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Batter Up!

Img_3583 Matthew’s doing little league this year.  It was now or never.  Next year he’ll be too young to join instructional league.  Since most of the other kids his age have had several  years of Tball and instuctional league already,  he needs to get started now or never catch up. It says something about the local obsession for little league that nine year olds are all washed up if they want to get started in little league.

Little league has changed a lot from the early seventies when Matt and I joined the Chateaugay little league.  In those days they gave you a shirt, a cap with one iron-on letter (in our case B for Barcomb’s Furniture ), and told you to get out there and play ball. Not much in the way of explaining the basics. If you were an un-coordinated nerd with two left feet, ten thumbs and pathogical fear of having a ball hit in your direction (i.e. me) then you weren’t going to get much better.  Luckily for Matt he DOES have an aptitude, and the coaches are great. Nowadays they get cool uniforms (see photo),  great coaching ,  and they have to wear a cup.  Back in the old days we didn’t need a cup. We laughed in the face of excruciating pain and the prospect of singing soprano for life.

Anyways, he’s got a great coach, and he’s doing really well. 

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In Buffalo – Chillin Like Villains

We’re in Buffalo, hanging out with Grandma Sehl. We spent most of the day playing catch, eating (Lunch at Ted’s!) and generally goofing off.

Marty and I decided to go on a photographic foray into the backyard. As you can see, he’s got his dad’s fondness for taking zillions of pictures of virtually everything, from every conceivable angle. Here I think he’s taking a picture of the neighbor’s woodpile. I got a few more pictures of Marty yoga positions and Irish Dance springs. He’s a renaissance man!

It turns out he’s not bad at baseball either. The four of us went over to the local elementary school to get Matthew some batting practice, since he’s in little league. Marty showed more interest in batting and pitching I’ve ever seen from him before. Who’da thought. He’s still completely uninterested in competitive team sports, but he’s on the track team at school now.
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All Is Quiet On New Years Day

We had a fun if quiet New Years eve. The high point of the night was the Monopoly game. Matthew won.  He also got to try a sip of Champagne (response – yuck).  We got out the noisemakers at Midnight and scared the @#$% out of the cats (see photo below).

Back to work and school tommorrow. Aargh. I’ve spent the last week and half at home with the kids, and I’m really going to miss them once we get back into the regular grind of school/work/drum lessons/dance lessons/theatre club/cub scouts.

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The Facts Of Life

Img_0036 Well, he’s 11, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me to explain, but Marty started asking the big questions today. No, no, no – he already knows where babies come from. I’m speaking about the BIG questions. Like "Dad – what’s ISO stand for?" and "What’s the difference between shutter priority and aperature priority?"

Santa brought Marty a very nice digital camera for Christmas. However, he also got a Nintendo DS, which has obsessed him for every waking moment since 6 AM Christmas morning.  Today was the day he decided to figure out the camera, which has a LOT of controls, buttons, menus etc.

  He’s always had a good eye for what makes a good picture. I’ve lent him my old digital camera in the past, and he took good care of it, and got some really great pictures. As you probably know I’m a photography nut, so I’ve been dying to see if he’s really interested in the camera.I was a little bummed that he didn’t use it much the first couple of days.  It was worth the wait. He patiently sat down and listened to me holding forth on the relation between ISO, shutter speed and aperature.  He didn’t get it all, but at the rate we’re going (his brain developing and mine deteriorating),  I’ll be asking him questions before you know it.

Merry Christmas

Well, I swore in the annual Christmas letter that I’d return from self imposed blogging exile after Chrismas, so here we go!

We had a great, if sleep deprived Christmas. The kids were under strict orders not to wake us before 6:00 AM. Last year it was 5:30 AM. I’m hoping to set later and later Christmas wake up times, in anticipation of the days when we’ll be dragging two sullen teenage boys downstairs and ordering them to open their presents and look merry.

There was a lot of gleeful anticipation this year, despite the fact that Matthew was having some anxiety about getting coal in his stocking . This is no exaggeration. He was genuinely concerned that a few lapses of judgement over the year would get him a stocking full of the black combustible stuff.  No worries mate, he did just fine on Christmas morning.

Marty really had the Christmas spirit this year. He cheerfully wrapped presents, kept the living room clean for Santa, and begged me to let him stay up late so he could help me get the Christmas letter out this year. What a guy!

Anyway, the big day arrived, and nobody was disappointed.  Most of the presents were electronic – Ipods, Wii Games, Nintendo DSs.  A big change for me was the fact that I spent no more than 5 minutes unpacking toys. In past years I have spent HOURs with my leatherman multitool cutting, snipping, untangling, untying, and otherwise dismembering the packaging that toys come in nowadays.  It’s sadistic. 

Matthew got a dance game for the Wii ("Dance Dance Revolutions Hottest Party" if you must know), and … ITS A BLAST.  I know, I know. I am the most boring, cynical middle aged white guy in New England.  For what ever reason I love this game. Whodathunkit. Naturally Marty – with 6 years of dance lessons under his belt at age 11 is wiping the dance floor with the rest of us.

Marty is now officially the computer game technical support wiz at our house. Matthew got a Star Trek game that was waaaay beyond an eight year old. Marty ask to play it and politely elbowed me ouit of the way after I warned him that it was kinda complicated. 15 minutes later he had it all figured out.

Anyways, most of the rest of the day was spend playing games, watching DVDs and stuffing our faces.

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Vacation – Installment 2 – Gargoyle Manor-Or- What The Heck is a Lensbaby?

Yes, I know the text wrapping is messed up in this entry. Matt – what am I doing wrong html-wise?

For the next part of vacation, it was on to Tom and Karen’s place in Fairlee, Vt.  We did the usual: Reading/Margaritas(Beth), Fishing/Beer(Me ) , Fishing/Skipping Rocks/General Tomfoolery(Marty & Matt).  Beth was more successful than I was. She got through most of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while sitting on the dock. I caught even fewer fish than usual.

I also spent some time playing with the new lens I bought for my camera. It’s called a lensbaby. It creates intentionally fuzzy, soft focus, artsy fartsy pictures:Img_0004 Img_0039_2

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In case you’re wondering about that last picture – it’s the gargoyle that supports the light over the downstairs door. You gotta love a place with gargoyles.

And in closing – some pictures of some good looking kids:

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Vacation – In Which We Take a Grand Tour of the Continent – Installment 1

Img_9784Ok so it wasn’t the CONTINENT exactly.  It was however, a lot of states. Well, actually it was three states. Including the one we live in.  We started with the Bradshaw Family reunion in Chateaugay on Saturday. 

Since we’re out of vacation time, we didn’t leave until Saturday morning, and since our schedules have been insane, we didn’t start packing in earnest until Friday night.  We finished late and got an early start, but weren’t at our best. I left my wallet at home. Beth missed an exit on the highway she NEVER misses. There was a fair amount of grouchiness on my part.

We got to the reunion three hours later than expected, but still had plenty of time to talk to aunts, uncles, first cousins, half-first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once-removed and all the spouses and significant others who have taken up with the clan. It’s a good sized family.  The only flavor of cousin not represented were the Cassidys who are our first cousins on mom’s side and second cousins on dad’s side (no there’s nothing useemly going on there – our family tree DOES fork and no special dispensation was required from Rome).

My only regret was that by the time that the ice had really broken, and all the kids had gotten over their shyness and started playing together, it was time to go home.  

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Still – the cousins of my generation did have time to exchange stories about our time together as kids  – like the time one of my cousins locked another cousin in dad’s feed storage bin (they both claim not to remember but I was there). 

And Dan Sucato – about that little fact we discussed one day while getting the cows. I hope I didn’t scar you for life.

The next day we stopped by dad and Karen’s place, and then headed out to Silver Lake to visit the Petrashune’s at camp Good-E-Nuff.  Deb Bryant and Pat Bruns stopped by too. Img_9834

We had really only planned to stay for an hour or so, since we had to travel on to Fairlee, Vt for the next leg of the vacation, but we ended up staying for hours.  The Petrashunes were incredibly hospitable as usual.  We sat in their screened porch overlooking the lake as mid-afternoon stretched into later afternoon then into evening.  It had been a cloudless day, with a light breeze. The sound of the lake lapping on shore just below us was better than a bottle of wine (or even a six pack of Genesee Cream Ale). I could feel my blood pressure (and my urge to get moving) drop to almost nothing.

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We finally did the math and realized how late we’d be arriving, in VT, and reluctantly hit the road.

 

I Don’t Wanna Go Baaaack!!!!

We’re sitting in the Orlando Airport waiting to board our plane back to the gray, desolate, frozen tundra of the Northeast.  Hopefully our sled dogs will be waiting for us at the gate when we land in Boston.  Sigh. 

At least there’s wireless in the airport.

I’ll upload pictures and details later, but here’s the highlights

Day 1 – Spent the day in a haze of sleep deprivation. We stayed up late packing, woke up early and I don’t sleep on planes.  Stumbled into our rental condo. Went to sleep.

Day 2 – Slept in. Hung out by the pool. In PM went to Universal Islands of adventure. Had a blast. Took the the Jurassic Park ride, which features an 85 foot plunge at the end. Also did the Spiderman ride, which features the most realistic 3D I’ve ever seen. Universal is great. the kids spent the better part of an hour at the Jurassic Park play area, while Beth and I cooled our heels. much less crowded than Disney,  and MUCH cheaper.  Unlike Disney, they’re very upfront about the fact that its just a theme park. They don’t try to BS the customers with soppy diatribes about saving the environment or working together to create a better world. 

Day 3 – Animal Kingdom. Took the African Safari ride.  Went on the new Expedition everest roller coaster. Not bad for an old guy with a bad back. Last time we went to Disney I skipped all the roller coasters, since my back wasn’t in great shape.  Saw lots of critters.  Ate at the rainforest cafe. Had a great time, although the park got really crowded.

Day 4 – Went to Universal Studios in the AM, and Universal Islands of adventure in the PM. Had a great time. Rides – Jaws, Jimmy Neutron, Shrek 4D, Men In Black, ET. Marty and I went on the Jurassic Park ride one more time.  It was starting to get very hot, so the Kids hung around the splash zone for the JP ride, and got soaked from head to toe. Good clean fun. Also did a couple of shows.  On the way out we ate at Pastamore.  A great day. One of the best of the vacation.

Day 5  – We were getting tired of the regimen of getting up early to get to the parks early, so we slept late, and spent the morning hanging around the pool.  Went to D isney MGM in the PM. Since Matt and Marty still Star Wars fanatics, we HAD to take the Star Wars ride.  Matthew and I also insisted on seeing the muppets 3D show. I’m not sure it was a must see for Marty and Beth, but Matt and I are big time muppets fans.  Beth wanted to go on the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster, but there was a 50 minute wait. We said no thanks. We saw the Fantasmic show at the end of the day.

Day 6 – EPCOT. My favorite Disney Park. Rides – Soarin, Universe of Energy, NEMO (where I lost my prescription sunglasses. They’re now sleeping with the fish). We ate our way across the World showcase. Actually this whole vacation seemed to consist of feeding Matthew constantly, while occaisionally seeing a show or going on a ride.

Very hot.

Day 7 – Magic Kingdom. Lots of fun stuff but always too crowded.  We did the Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Stiches Great Escape, Buzz Lightyears Star Command, got pictures with some characters, ate lunch, and were back at the hotel by 3:30.

Still in denial about vacation coming to a close, we hung out at the pool and drank Margeritas.

More to come….

Please Don’t Ask Me If They Match!

Beth and I spent a few kidless hours Christmas shopping today. For the most part it was a lot of fun. We browsed at Borders, we bought a Bose Sound Dock for the Ipod. We bought gooey cookies at Mrs. Fields. However, there was a price to be paid. We spend an endless, monotonous, painful fifteen minutes at Macy’s shopping for clothes for Beth’s mom. Despite my pleas and non-comittal grunts, she kept asking me my opinion on fashion choices for my mother-in-law. As I waited, I composed a Haiku:

Shopping with the wife

Mother in law needs a skirt.

Inside, I’m screaming.

Greetings From Clarence, NY

Img_4561 We’re in Clarence visiting Grandma Sehl for Thanksgiving.   

We brought both cats with us, and the little buggers kept us up all last night, since they had to sleep in the same room as Beth and me.  Between the sleep deprivation last night, the tryptophan OD from today’s turkey feast, and the effort of raking leaves in the backyard, I have passed beyond exhaustion into some weirdly profound state.  I’m expecting the walls to start bleeding anytime now. Maybe the plastic saints on the dresser will start talking to me.

Backyard_sepa_2 This part of New York took a big hit from the early snow storm a few weeks ago. Mom Sehl was without power for over a week.   A lot of big trees came down. Almost every tree lost some major branches.   People have filled up lot lines with cut-up trees. 

Most of dad Sehl’s fruit trees sustained severe or fatal injuries.  Unfortunately all the cottonwood trees survived.  Dad hated those trees. They clogged the gutters, dropped twigs all the time and the seed pods made a hell of a mess.

Since dad is now enjoying  his  eternal reward I know he doesn’t mind, but it makes me kinda sad. I’m holding out hope that the fruit trees send up suckers in the spring, and the Cottonwoods succumb to their injuries. 

Mom had a utility pole come down in her back yard, and Beth and I spent some time (being long time utility employees) critiquing the repair job. We didn’t approve of the guying methods.  We grumbled that the pole wasn’t grounded. Beth questioned the number of skirts on the new insulators.  It’s easy to be critical when you’re not the one freezing in the dark while climbing a pole to get the lights back on.

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