Scenes from Saturday + 9 Years Gone

The times they are a-changin’. Allison is now officially a pre-K graduate and after nine years we are done with day care. Are we elated? Yes. Are we nervous? Yes. Are we sad? Maybe a little. Putting your child in day care is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t decision. But if you want to raise your kids, have a career, and have a life, you need some help. For the last nine years, we’ve gotten lots of help. The girls had a routine. They made friends. They grew up. They prepared for school. They built up ironclad immunities.

While day care was for the kids, it also ended up giving us, as new parents, a lot, too. Before day care we lived among the community, but not in the community. Before day care, we were those strangers that walked their dog and lived in that quiet house with well-tended flower beds. Before day care, we left on the 6:20 a.m. train and rarely returned before dark. 

Leaving your 8-week old infant with virtual strangers is beyond hard. Day care provided us with a group of people going through the exact same thing. Oh, look, that Dad is also carrying his crying child inside by the ankle and his shirt has 4 different stains before 9 a.m., too. That weird red and purple rash? Don’t sweat it, my kid had it last week. It provided a safety net and a soft landing on those days where it seemed like the world was coming apart at the seams.

Most importantly, it turned many of those strangers, parents and teachers alike, into friends. It gave us dominoes nights and taco parties and the tumble bus and Oktoberfest and showed us every day that we weren’t alone or unique in this strange new journey called parenthood. It made us part of a community. Continue Reading

5 Recent Mysteries & Thrillers to Bring on Vacation

5 Recent Mysteries & Thrillers to take on Vacation

When people find out you’re a “reader” you get asked about books. I don’t mind. In fact, it’s one of my favorite topics, especially mysteries and thrillers. Starting with the Hardy Boys and my mom’s fascination with Murder, She Wrote, I’ve been hooked on the genre almost since I could read. I remember getting in some trouble in fifth grade for bringing an “adult” mystery.

Now that it’s summer, I often get asked about books to bring to the pool or the beach or on vacation. Here are 5 recent mysteries and thrillers to consider if you want some thrills and chills while you read in the summer sun.

 

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

The second book in the Aaron Falk series builds on and improves on last year’s debut. Five women from the same workplace go on a hike for a corporate retreat. Only four come back out. They all tell a slightly different story.

That’s a good hook. Both books are set in remote and little seen parts of Australia for crime fiction. If you’re looking for a new series, bring both books. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

This is a debut mystery/thriller and sometimes hits some story telling speed bumps that often crop up in first novels, but at its best it does conjure that feeling of impending adulthood and one last summer with friends that Stephen King does so well.

While not going supernatural, the atmosphere and dread lurk over the second half of the book as the murderer still lurks among the now grown friends.

 

 

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

This book reads like an almost unbelievable and over-the-top thriller, but it’s all true. It landed on just about every year end best-of list and for good reason. Grann, also the author of the almost-as-good Lost City of Z, tells a story that appears to have almost been erased from American history.

The story of the Osage Indians, their vast wealth at the beginning of last century and all the attention, murder and grief it brought down on the tribe. Fascinating and sobering read that I’ve recommended more than any other book recently.

 

 

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

This thriller received a lot of buzz early this year. The cynical reader might find it a slick, example of how to produce a commercial bestseller.

It certainly feels at times that the author was working through a genre checklist, but I found it a very well-done example of mainstream genre fiction.

You’ll likely see a few of the ‘surprises’ coming long before they are revealed. But if it’s calculating, it’s still a well-constructed story that forces you to keep turning pages.

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

I’ve really enjoyed the last few King books that dipped their toe into the crime fiction genre and while THE OUTSIDER doesn’t continue the Bill Hodges trilogy, it does continue the recent dichotomy of King and crime fiction. If the Hodges trilogy was 75% crime fiction / 25% classic King, THE OUTSIDER flips that equation.

You get a classic, sprawling King story with many characters (the strongest are the women characters), social commentary on the media, along with a Hodges holdover in Holly. If you find the beginning a bit slow, the story really starts to move when Holly comes onboard and flies through the finish.

 

That’s it. Five recent mysteries and thrillers that will keep the pages moving and help you escape even further on your vacation.

 

11 Things to Do with Kids on a Rainy Cape Day

11 Things to Do with Kids on a Rainy Cape Day

You might have had plans for sun, fun, waves, ice cream and lobster rolls, but now you are staring down a forecast of storms and showers. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You are on a summer vacation and the day is a complete rainout. If you don’t have a back up plan, your vacation can quickly turn into bickering, boredom and second guessing.

Here are 11 things you can do with kids on the Cape to salvage that rainy vacation day. Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Tacos and Indian

Today is my ninth Father’s Day. That is plenty long enough for habits and routines to become well worn. That is at least a thousand diapers. A thousand daycare pickups. A thousand water bottles filled. A thousand pieces of plain pasta cooked. A thousand soapy tubs emptied. As any parent knows these routines are critical for survival. These routines get us through the day with children on the bus, lunches packed, clothes laundered and bedtime stories read. They help us order our world.

It is impossible to see and feel all of those things for the first time, every time. If every experience brought that rush of the first experience, a single day would overwhelm and exhaust even the hardiest parent.  If each day were full of firsts, my legs would crumple and my chest would heave with effort before noon.

Habits and routine are every parent’s secret weapon. I fear they are also dangerous. Habits can quickly make the extraordinary seem ordinary. If you’re not careful, you find yourself looking at the world through a dull, gray gauze. A whisper of brown hair is Ally. Flecks of aquamarine eyes is Cecilia. But did I see them? Really see them? Routine is an insatiable thing. It will consume the familiar and make the everyday seem mundane. They can blind you to the insane miracle of your children. Of being a father.

Of course, miracle is not the first word that comes to mind when I hear little feet going down the stairs at 5:45. Insane on the other hand…..time to be a Dad. Continue Reading

How to Treat & Prevent 5 Common Runner Injuries

How to treat and prevent 5 common runner injuries

I’m currently dealing with a hamstring strain. So much for trying to do more strength training! Tuesday’s HIIT session ended prematurely as I felt my right hamstring tighten up and then give off a disturbing series of cracks and pops as I tried to stretch it out. 

Ice it? Heat it? Stretch it? Rest it? Roll it? What is the best approach to healing and rehab that will ensure you’re only out a few days or a few weeks and not a few months? It’s a common question to any injury.

Here are the best ways to treat and prevent 5 common runner injuries. Don’t neglect those aches and pains and definitely do no try to run through any nagging niggles or tweaks. Listen to your body. Heal it up and then get back to running or exercising at full strength. Continue Reading

Race Recap: Harvest Sprint Triathlon

It had been over a year since my last triathlon and I was nervous. I was nervous for the packing. I had forgotten just how much logistics and checklists are involved the day before a triathlon. Sometime mid-morning I felt a fluttering panic in my stomach and was sure that I was missing something major, something critical from the list. I had a crystal clear vision of showing up on race morning without my bike or my pants. Something that would be embarrassing and force me out of the race.

Turns out a few deep breaths and some double checking and then triple checking my race day list was all I needed. I drove the hour south to Wareham, just before the bridges to the Cape, still somewhat convinced that I had forgotten something, but I showed up at the race venue, unpacked my gear and found that it was all there. I was ready. It was time to race.  Continue Reading

Scenes from Saturday + Triathlons & Tacos

Like many, we are knee deep in end of school year activities. This week we attended Cecilia’s end of the year music and fine arts show. She was very excited. She, unlike me, quite enjoys performing on stage. The show was remarkably good for a third grade production.

The thing she is most looking forward in fourth grade is finally getting to play the trombone. That’s not a joke. And who knows, maybe she’ll love it and be great at it. 

So far, we haven’t really hit on Cecilia’s “thing” yet, which is completely fine. I might not have loved Little League (I was much better at getting hit than actually hitting) but I certainly took things from it that helped me in other areas. I believe kids should try a lot of things for as long as possible (probably adults, too). The trend, especially in youth sports, to specialize and focus on one thing earlier and earlier in an effort to create mini-Tiger Woods prodigies freaks me out. And given how Mr. Woods ended up, it should freak you out, too.  

So she hasn’t found her thing. No big deal. Let’s try the trombone. Lots of room in the world for a kick-ass female trombone player. But first, on to a Saturday that included triathlons, tacos and dance parties. There are always dance parties…. Continue Reading