Now that the youngest boy is out of lessons and goes off skiing with his brothers and friends, I've spent my Friday evenings inside the lodge.
No more standing slope side waiting until he makes it back down or walking him to and from classes. He's gotten pretty independent.
The only time I have to stand outside is when the older boys have races. But West Mountain kindly provides a roaring fire right near the finish line. My kind of "skiing."
The Thunder have varying attitudes about the Super Bowl, but they all plan to watch the game together on Sunday.
You start on the scale with Mathieu Brodeur: "I don't care who wins, I just like getting together to watch it."
Then there's coach Cail MacLean, who picked Carolina, but asked why: "You're asking the wrong guy."
Pete MacArthur was more specific. He's taking Carolina 37-20, even though he wants to see Peyton Manning win it one last time.
Mike Busillo seconded the latter part of that; he'd like to see Manning win, too.
Patch Alber is pulling for Carolina and Luke Keuchly, the linebacker he became friends with when they were both at Boston College.
The plan is for the team to get together with pizza and wings -- the latter being what Alber and Busillo are looking forward to most.
When Glens Falls' move to the ECHL was announced, one of the first questions was about ticket prices. And when prices went up, fans were understandably less than thrilled.
Each time I've reached out for reaction to the new team or inquired about attendance, most of the answers have been about ticket prices.
I get it. It doesn't make sense to pay more to see a lower level of hockey. I wouldn't have been happy either.
Here's where the but comes in.
The Thunder have offered $10 tickets for each of the last four Friday home games. And fans haven't really taken advantage.
The first $10 Friday (5-1 loss to South Carolina on Jan. 8) had an attendance of 2,610 -- 200 more than the season average.
OK, maybe people didn't really know about it or have enough time to make plans.
Second one (2-0 win over Reading on Jan. 16) was 3,270. That one wasn't great by previous season's standards but was the second highest attendance of the season. That's pretty good.
The last two Fridays (3-0 win over Reading and 3-2 loss to Norfolk) have fallen back to 2,680 and 2,551 respectively. That's not great.
The complaints about ticket prices lose some of their weight when fans don't take advantage of promotional pricing.
If your reason for not wanting to come see this team has nothing to do with ticket prices, that's fine. But if you have been complaining and then can't be bothered to buy the cheapest ticket available, you don't have much ground to stand on.
For my previous three seasons (especially the two Phantoms seasons), I heard a lot of complaints about all the losing -- and rightfully so.
The Thunder are five points out of first in the division (and second in the conference) and that's having played four fewer games. You wanted a winning team and you have one.
The $10 Fridays in January may be over, but there are still good deals available in the form of minipacks (some of comparable value). Or Pizza Hut in Warren and Washington counties are offering a buy-one-get-one ticket deal with a two-liter bottle of Pepsi and Mountain Dew.
The deals are there, you should use them.
Greg Wolfe had to be stretchered off the ice after being boarded in the first period.
The Thunder, playing down two skaters, took 47 shots and scored five goals.
In November, finally cleared to play after almost a year of injuries, Ryan Culkin was sent to the Thunder. Now he may get the chance to once again play in the AHL he's been looking forward to since last February.
Culkin was reassigned from the Thunder to the Heat on Saturday afternoon.
When Culkin got hurt, playing for the Adirondack Flames, he was one of the top rookie defensemen in the league, a promising defensive prospects.
In 33 ECHL games, Culkin has nine assists -- not quite the same offensive production as his one goal and 17 assists in 37 AHL games.
This leaves the Thunder short of a full lineup. Given that Culkin was at morning skate in Glens Falls on Saturday, making it to the Heat's game in Bakersfield by 7 p.m. Pacific seems unlikely. Since Stockton doesn't play again until Tuesday, maybe the Heat could have waited. But that's not how it goes.
The Thunder had two healthy scratches on Friday. But Alex Carrier hurt his left foot, Joe Faust was recalled by Albany and now Culkin is on his way to Stockton.
Unless they find an emergency player in the area before game time Saturday, the Thunder will be playing down a player. They have done it before -- in a 2-0 win over Greenville at home on Nov. 29.
Mike Bergin is on injured reserve and is eligible to return on Monday. If he is healthy enough to do so, the Thunder would have exactly as many players as they need to fill a lineup, moving Luke Curadi back to forward as he has done a few times this year.
If Bergin is not expected to be ready, the Thunder might have to find another player somewhere.
The Thunder are out of healthy scratches at defenseman. Joe Faust was recalled by Albany on Saturday.
Faust has been with the Thunder since Dec. 7 and has nine points in 35 games. He has been a solid stay-at-home defenseman for the Thunder.
Faust played one AHL game this season.
The Thunder had one healthy scratch at defenseman (Luke Curadi) on Friday, so they now have just as many as they need. With Alex Carrier hurting his foot on Friday, the Thunder don't have any healthy scratches anymore.
Mike Bergin is on the IR and is eligible to return on Monday, if he's healthy.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, received $11,000 in campaign contributions from convenience store, restaurant and grocery store chain and franchise related political action committees in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a report the campaign filed with Federal Election Commission.
This brings Stefanik's campaign contributions from the sector this election cycle to $30,400, as of Dec. 31.
Contributions in the 4th quarter were as follows:
International Franchise Association -- $2,500, bringing total contributions in election cycle to $3,500
International Council of Shopping Centers -- $2,000
McDonald's -- $1,000, bringing total contributions in election cycle to $2,500
National Restaurant Association -- $2,500
Walmart stores -- $1,000, bringing total contributions in election cycle to $5,000
Yum Brands -- $1,000
Rite Aid -- $1,000
Stefanik, a first-term congreswoman, is running for re-election in New York's 21st District.
Mike Derrick, a retired Army colonel from Peru, in Clinton County, is seeking the Democratic nomination.
Matt Funiciello, the Green Party candidate in 2014, is laying ground work to run again.
Less than three minutes into the second period Friday, Alex Carrier went down on all fours and could not get up without help.
Carrier was pretty much propelled over to the tunnel by James Henry and Joe Faust. The big forward balances all his weight on his right foot and let them steer.
After the game, Carrier limped around with a boot on the left foot.
Coach Cail MacLean said they'll have to wait for more information to be sure, but he doesn't think Carrier will need time on the injured reserve. If that's the case, he could be back in less than three weeks.
Yes, I am the type to go to a dinner party and take portraits of the hosts' dog.
If you'll allow me to personify a date, way to end strong, Friday nights!
The Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George game was my second great finish/great game in two nights. I'm getting spoiled. But it wasn't just that game. Check out the dramatic finish that Mechanicville laid on Stillwater to -- along with Hoosick Falls' win -- create a three-way tie for the Wasaren League title. (link here).
And many probably thought Argyle would have its way with Hartford, but on Senior Night, the Tanagers gave the Scots all they could handle.
One leftover thing I couldn't include in my story was how proud H-L coach Gary Wilson was of his players' leadership. Even the sophomores, he noted, were leaders during crunch time Friday.
I retweeted it, though we didn't get the boxscore for the paper, but big win for Spa Catholic over Duanesburg in a WAC crossover. Saints are getting hot at the right time.
Update on our 3-point race: Argyle's Kobe Lufkin now has 105, fourth-best all-time in Section II, and Joseph Girard III has 100, which is seventh-best.
From here, we have a few games left before Wednesday's sectional seedings meeting, then the Adirondack League championship Saturday, Feb. 13 and the beginning of play-in games.