Saturday was a family reunion on my mom's side (#2 of 4 potential reunions this summer, in case you're counting--three on my side, one on Craig's), and we headed into N.T. (or actually, Wheatfield) for the day. Oh, before we left I spent an hour or so gingerly walking around our still-green pool, trying to vacuum up algae. Lovely. The picnic was a pretty low key one, as there aren't many local kids in the family and only two (Jacob and one other) were there. It was held at a park I hadn't been to in years, Fairmount Park, which hosted many a field day when I was in grade school. Once a year in early June we headed there as a school to compete against other Lutheran schools in track & field events--running races, sack races, long jump, ball throw, etc. I won all of one ribbon in all my years, a first place win in the sack race in fourth grade. That was some sort of miracle. As a result of my usual performance, the highlight of the day (besides being out of school in nice weather) was playing on the playground after lunch. Fairmount Park had a cool playground unlike any other. It was older and had some really unique equipment. The only one I can remember right now was a set of tricycles that had a center pivot point and were on a track of some sort. Not particularly exciting, but different and therefore cool. It was tough to get on the stuff you wanted to play on, though, since you were using the same playground as hundreds of other kids. As a result, one time when I was probably 12 or so, my cousin and I rode our bikes there so we could enjoy it ourselves. It was a long bike ride on a busy road with no sidewalks, so we got a bit of a talking-to when we got back. But it was worth it! :) The other thing of note about the playground is that it was set among a number of old graves. Yep, it was creepy then and is still creepy now. The graves are mostly from around 1900, and apparently the land was used as a cemetery. I have no idea how many unmarked graves there are around there, but the ones that do have markers are roped off. Most of the engraving on them is quite worn, but it's a sobering juxtaposition to have a cool playground set among graves, including one of a 15 day old baby whose 19-year-old mother died a day after childbirth. Interestingly, I ended up doing a geocache with my mom while we were there that used dates from the headstones to give you clues to the cache. I know it all sounds a little creepy, and it is, but I was looking forward to seeing the playground again now that I have a child who can play on it.
The playground has changed a bit, but there were still a handful of things that made it different than most playgrounds you come across these days. There were a few of the animals that you sit on and bounce, including a rabbit, snail, and squirrel, plus this cross between that and a see-saw--this one with horses on each end. Jacob liked bouncing!
There was also a cool merry-go-round with four horses that spun on human power, which Jacob couldn't get enough of. He kept trying to switch horses (often while it was still moving--ugh) and liked getting dizzy as it spun!
In the background of the picture above, you can see a blue dinosaur that was made for climbing, and a strange wooden contraption that was actually a standing teeter totter. Jacob and I went on it with us on one side and my dad on the other. My dad had to move around the bar that you're supposed to hold on to in order to shift the weight enough for us to move up and down, (ahhh, physics), but we had a lot of fun once we got going. Jacob really enjoyed it! (Pardon the misplaced hair...must have flopped funny as we dropped one time! Too bad, because this was almost a perfect picture!)
We had a pretty fun day despite the weather being a bit cool and cloudy, and despite Jacob only napping for a half hour on the way there and not wanting to eat much of substance or sit still for more than a couple minutes. He was constantly running off to play lacrosse (there were little lacrosse-sized soccer nets not far away), baseball (my parents brought a whiffle bat and ball), or visit the playground for the hundredth time. It was tiring, particularly considering I had to drive both ways and am fighting off allergies and a cough from the same virus Jacob has had for the last week. But we ate pretty well and had a nice time visiting with family, particularly my Aunt Sue and cousin Kristi who had flown in from Wisconsin.
Sunday we had a heck of a time with Jacob at church for the first time in a while. We started the service in church, then moved to the separate family room in the back of the church. Jacob wouldn't sit still, wouldn't be quiet, and eventually was screaming so much that Craig had to take him out of the family area into the lobby. No idea why, either, since he'd had a good night's sleep and we actually made it to the early service which is generally better for his schedule. So frustrating. After church we got through lunch and nap, and got Jacob up in time to head off to a celebrity hockey game being held as a fundraiser for Craig Charron's fight against stomach cancer. It was truly amazing to see thousands of people streaming in, to look on the ice and see such an awesome group of players, and feel the love and support in that place. There were bonafide NHLers there, former teammates, Sabres and Amerks alumni, and even some local guys and other minor leaguers that never played with Sharky but wanted to help out. There were even some non-playing celebrities, including Sharky's uncle, Jim Craig (yep, the goalie from the Miracle on Ice team) and Mike Eruzione (the captain of the Miracle on Ice team and game winning goal scorer in the famous game vs. the Soviets), and Rick Martin, my mom's favorite Buffalo Sabre back in the days when my parents had season tickets. Obviously Jacob didn't understand the significance of the guys on the ice, but he loved seeing hockey again. He pretty much wanted to get right down and play ("Big stick now, Daddy!") and was apparently fascinated by the crate of pucks in the locker room when Craig took him in there ("I shoot black pucks!"). As common as its become to be in the presence of pro hockey players, I'll admit it was a thrill to be in the hallway as Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione walked through. They're more than just hockey players--they made history!
Following the game there was a reception for everyone involved, and we had originally set up Lori to babysit Jacob. Well, she got sick during the afternoon, so she was out. As a last effort to give us both the chance to go and catch up with old friends, I put out a request via my Facebook status. Any by some miracle, we found someone! Friends of ours that are Knighthawks superfans and have a nearly 4 year old son offered to help us out. She met me at home and off I went to meet Craig at the restaurant. Jacob was apparently fine until bedtime, but freaked out for quite a while once she tried to put him in bed. In the end, she ended up leaving him in his hockey shirt that he wore to the game and let him sleep with two of his hockey sticks. Not sure if it was our absence, her presence, or his quirkiness (or all of the above) that caused the meltdown, but about two minutes after she texted me asking for suggestions, he dropped off without a sound. Still, I felt bad about putting her (and him) through that.
However, we had a fabulous time out. We caught up with some former Amerks, chatted with some former work associates, and even had a nice conversation with Mike Eruzione! Craig also got a puck signed later on. Not gonna lie, it was all pretty cool. It's still too bad that all this fun we've been having has been at events to raise money for our friend who has a seriously bad form of cancer, but right now his body is responding well to treatment and it's been amazing to see all the support he's getting and (re)connect with members of the hockey community. Oh, and did I mention that they had this amazing made-to-order pasta station with lots of veggies and three kinds of sauces? Mmmm...that just topped it all off.
So, yet another busy weekend. This coming weekend we'll be staying at home and welcoming my parents into town for a visit to the Park Ave. Festival here in Rochester. It's a fun and slightly eclectic festival in one of the trendier areas of town, with crafters, food, and all sorts of other vendors. Great people watching! We went with my parents and a not-even-two-month-old Jacob two years ago, and couldn't go last year because we spent that weekend in Buffalo, I believe when John, Kristin & Kate were in town. It should be fun to go again this year. I keep hoping our pool will be back to normal by then, but I'm pretty much losing hope that it'll ever be normal again. No amount of chemicals seem to do the trick. Summer is short enough around here without being banned from our pool for a few weeks like this. It's going to be another hot week and swimming sounds lovely. Perhaps sitting on the patio will have to do...