Monday, April 30, 2007

Day 110: Sleepier photograph

The week has started quite gently here. This was my view of E5N1 when I dragged myself out of bed this morning (well, I should add 'for the last time' as I was up with him an hour or so earlier too). Exile #3 had a normal school day, Exile #2 had a better day at home with Exile #4 and E5N1, and I was back at work.

I took a detour on my way home to drive by a couple of houses on our 'maybe' list for visiting. They are near a very busy highway and sure enough the noise when I stepped out of the car was considerable. Maybe the trees in leaf would mask the sound in the summer and maybe 6pm on a weekday is the worst possible time, but that may be too many maybes.

Anyway, I got a slightly earlier night last night and have definitely felt more human today as a result, so it's time to leave you to puzzle over the title pun - I wasn't being comparative at all.
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day 109: Baby girls wanted

Today we donated these clothes to charity - they were mostly things that both Exile #3 and Exile #4 had worn, but we were reasonably sure that E5N1 would not be wearing. It was a slightly emotional moment disposing of clothes that both our baby girls have worn - but it is good to think that they will go to a good home.

Although new cultural experiences are not daily any more, there is still room for them in our lives. We took some empty paid-deposit bottles back to the supermarket today. The process is entirely automated and I was amazed by the technology applied to it. You place each bottle in turn into a machine which transports them in a little way where they are rotated through 360° in order to scan the bar-code after which they are either sucked into the innards of the machine and smashed (glass) or munched (plastic) or (if they are not the correct type of deposit-bottles) returned out accompanied by a polite message. When you have finished, the machine prints a receipt with your total credit for you to cash at the till. It seems a lot of trouble to go to to encourage recycling, but if it works I'm not knocking it.

E5N1 continues to be a very sleepy baby. He slept through the entire service at church today (not a reflection on the content!) and all the pre- and post-service attention he received. We still expect each day to be the one when he sleeps all day and then won't sleep at night, but it hasn't happened yet. When he is awake he seems very alert and interested in his surroundings though and he has a rather serious expression. Mind you, when his sisters are probably nearby wanting him to look at them or to give him cuddles or sometimes just prod him, he may have good reason to look slightly worried. At least he needn't worry any longer that laundry-desperation will drive us to putting him in a pink floral cardigan.
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Day 108: Scissors & sisters

We had a family outing today (after Exile #3 successfully made it to her last-in-session swimming lesson). The first stop was for the girls to have a haircut (pictured). From there we went on (via lunch) to start shopping for a car.

After we got home I was looking at the "pre-owned" stock at the dealership's website. Exile #4 pointed at the screen and started singing their radio/TV advert jingle "We'll put you in the driver's seat!" She is surprising us every day at the moment - her (computer) mouse skills, use of language and sense of humour being today's moments.

We just saw the announcement of "Kid of the week" on local TV, she donated to something called "Locks of Love." Apparently it's about donating hair to make hairpieces and nothing to do with chastity belts.

By the way, did you know you can now sign up to receive this blog by email? See the new subscription option in the sidebar.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Day 107: Look at this buddy

This flower bud is just outside our front door. Another sign of spring, but you can't fool us any more, we know that winter will probably be back in a week or so. Joking aside, there are many signs of spring now: leaves on trees, daffodils, new growth in the lawn and rain of course - but you can't have everything.

E5N1's birth certificate arrived today so he is real after all. We can now start the process of applying for a passport or two. The birth certificate was issued by the Office of Vital Statistics - that amused us for some reason (I think his are 12-10-10 at the moment by the way).

Exile #3 came home from school early today after complaining of earache and spent the afternoon watching Mary Poppins. Tomorrow is the last swimming lesson in her current series. Let's hope she is fit and able to go otherwise I suppose she will be hitting the medicine bottle again with - altogether now - a spoonful of sugar...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 106: The outdoor life

This evening we had a visit from friends from the UK, planning their own exile here. The four mobile children spent a large part of the evening running around deck and garden (E5N1 is not quite up to joining in yet). They all played very nicely together and even when Exile #4 found it hard to keep up she was very good-natured about finding something else to do. We all managed to eat outside before evening brought a sharp decrease in temperatures. We're expecting a thunderstorm later.

Maybe it's the effect of driving everywhere or the weeks when it was too cold to be outside for any longer than necessary, but we seem to have had a quite outdoor-heavy existence here over the last few weeks. We have certainly seen a lot more of the neighbours (assuming you don't count seeing cars coming and going). One of our next door neighbours introduced herself over a non-existent fence between our back yards the other day. I'm slightly ashamed to say that we had assumed the house was empty (possibly deserted in favour of Florida for the winter) but apparently she has been there the whole time.

Exile #2 has now nearly completed a week of 'normality' including doing the school run in the minivan (or minibus as she calls it). Very soon we will have to commit to acquiring cars and accommodation of our own - it is going to be something of a shock to the system to start to make these significant decisions. Although we have complained about having too many options to choose from, the choices have mostly been fairly trivial and for the last 100 days we have been largely following a path we chose before leaving the UK. Not for much longer.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 105: What do you mean?

This evening we saw two consecutive TV adverts that left me virtually speechless. The first was an insurance advert that stated:

Most accidents happen on Fridays between 3pm and 6pm.

What is that even supposed to mean? Most accidents happen in a three hour period in each week?

The second, hot on its heels, stated that (presumably compared to the 'standard' product) their 'sensitive' product had a pH 10 times lower.

Now I can guess what this is supposed to mean, but let's suppose we take it at face value. If the standard product had the highest pH we can reasonably imagine 14 - extremely, corrosively alkaline, the same as caustic soda, 10 times less would be 1.4 - as acidic as gastric acid. If the standard product was 5.5 - the same as skin, the sensitive product must be like battery acid. I can only assume that this advert was not aimed at chemistry graduates.

Incidentally, I built the nearer tower with Exile #4 last week while Exile #3 was at school, when she returned she helped me build the 'copy' out of Lego - a very satisfactory if entirely pointless engineering project.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day 104: Force of nature

Today I used this old friend to unblock Day 9's new best friend. It wasn't exactly highly skilled plumbing or even interesting DIY, but it was satisfying nevertheless.

Someone (maybe Bill Bryson) commented that the irony of the British obsession with weather is that we don't really have any - the variations are minor and severe weather of all types is actually very rare. That may be changing, but it often seems like extreme weather is the norm here. We have gone straight from wind-chill warnings to winter-storm warnings to flood warnings to fire warnings. Last night there was a severe thunderstorm warning for an area near here for a specific time (a half hour start/finish window) and sure enough at that time almost to the minute our house suddenly sounded like it was being blown down - in fact the only casualties were the garden swing (toppled over) and the girls' plastic chairs and table (blown across the garden) but it was quite exciting-sounding for a few minutes.

The truth of the matter is probably that it is the comfortable unpredictability that is the British staple. Here we have weather that is at times very uncomfortable but fairly predictable (a few days in advance anyway). Just like in the UK, commenting on the weather is a universal ice-breaker in small-talk and the normal reaction to the changeability is very British too - "That's life in Upstate New York for you!"

In fact today's weather was remarkably unremarkable: mid 60s, cloudy with sunny spells. Yesterday however was the hottest April 23rd for more than a century, reaching 87 °F. I bet all the snow ploughs are still on standby though - that's Upstate New York for you!
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Day 103: Back to school

"Back to school." How I remember those words filling me with dread and disappointment when they arrived, halfway through the summer holidays, on signs all over shops - especially next to stationery aisles and clothing racks.

I have had a couple of weeks off work (that's a fortnight for UK readers but most people here seem to have never heard that word) . The sunny weekend that came at the end of it felt a bit like the end of a summer holiday and going back to work was a bit like returning to school at the end of it. Not that it was a bad experience - it was nice to catch up with my colleagues and the progress of various projects etc. - but a shock to the system after a long break.

Exile #3 was also back to school of course and Exile #4 went in too for her assessment prior to starting in September. She took it in her stride as we would expect, although she did suddenly seem very small in that context in a way that she doesn't at home - especially since E5N1's arrival.

Talking of E5N1, he received his Social Security number today, making him the second member of the family to achieve that rite-of-passage (it's the N1 asserting itself). He still has no birth certificate though - I think that's normal, but I'm not sure what the discrepancy signifies about his status. Here he is pictured after his third bath. He seems to be quite content to be bathed - and like Exile #4 he is very happy wrapped in a towel.

Exile #3 was talking non-stop in the bath today, some of it was the Spanish she has been learning from Dora and Diego. She doesn't get the words quite right though - I think there is a fundamental problem learning language from cartoons - no chance to lip-read. "Delicioso" comes out as "Alice-y-Yoko", and I also heard (after Exile #4 had squeezed some water out of a sponge onto her): "Don't squeeze me, squeeze a teenager!" I can't begin to imagine where she got that one from, but I don't think it was from children's TV.
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day 102: Sunday roast

A week ago today we had an inch of snow and I drove Exile #3 to a birthday party in pouring rain on slushy roads. Today we spent the afternoon sitting in the shade to avoid overheating. We were barbecuing with T & S and baby J. As you can see - I even risked baring my legs.

This morning we went to church for the first time since E5N1's birth-day. On that day some friends there who had been told that both the girls had been born 8 days late were teasing Exile #2 that "Today's the day!" We laughed it off as there was no sign at that point but in fact they were right (as they reminded us today). Of course, the intervening weeks have had their share of sorrow as well as joy and several are aware of that.

The girls had a great day. They have not quite got fed up with questions about their baby brother yet and were engaging, if sometimes inaccurate, on the subject at church. This afternoon they ran around the garden picking up the remains of T's snowman (sticks and stones) and making up games to play. It was nearly their bedtime by the time we left and when we got home we just wrestled them through teeth-brushing and pyjama-donning and they collapsed into bed. E5N1 seemed to sleep almost all day again - at some point that might start bothering us, but he is still piling on the pounds and mostly sleeping well at night so we're all content for now.
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Day 101: A walk in the park

Some time ago Exile #2 and I (pre-children) drove some way up the Sea to Sky highway north of Vancouver and stopped for a walk. Just beyond the end of the car park was a sign This trail is NOT a "walk in the park." which needs its very precise punctuation because it is a walk in the park of course. When we did it it was very warm and sunny (despite being February I think) and we didn't attempt the summit - I'm quite pleased having seen the rest of the stunning pictures in the album I linked to. Our pictures from the walk are of the old-fashioned film variety and so not readily bloggable.

Anyway, today we had another walk in the park that also proved challenging. The park was the Thacher State Park (the same one we visited in the snow on Day 11). It was a glorious day, temperatures in the low 70s and unbroken sunshine. People were sunbathing in bikinis, albeit only 30 feet or so away from piles of snow at the edge of the car park. The waterfalls are all looking impressive at the moment, fed by snow melt-water - we walked a little way up this small river until Exile #4 went up to her ankle in mud on the path and decided that it wasn't so much fun. On the way back Exile #3 requested to do some paddling in the stream - we had seen a couple of groups of boys playing in it. The water was extremely cold (as snow-melt is likely to be!) and in the end I was the one who did most of the paddling - each trip across was followed by a few seconds standing on the bank unable to speak or move while the sensation returned to my feet.

Everyone had a great time - if you're worried about the absence of E5N1 from the photos, he was in a carrier attached to me when I took the first picture and lying at Exile #2's feet when she took the second. The change from a week or two ago is quite breathtaking. Choosing to have a picnic in a windy spot on top of an exposed ridge (as we did today) would not have crossed our minds even a few days ago. The warm weather is not here to stay yet, but it has been a welcome taste of summer in a spring which has had more than it's fair share of the taste of winter.
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Day 100: Sent your e-post

Time to take the helmet off and raise a bat to an applauding audience, Exiles in New York has hit a century. Exile #3 apologises for her absence from the celebratory picture, but she was at school - a higher calling without doubt.

As you can see we were able to spend some time sitting outside again today, temperatures are due to rise to well above 70 ºF and may even hit 80 ºF on Sunday. The lowest daily-maximum on the seven-day forecast is 56 ºF - quite a change from when 30 ºF seemed like a warm break in the weather.

It has been quite strange for me to be at home with all the family except Exile #3 this week. Exile #2 and Exile #4 have had their quiet daytime routine shattered by my presence, and also marginally disrupted by E5N1 of course :-). Although the smallest member of the family (I know - that's saying something) has been doing well, sleeping a lot, feeding quickly; it is amazing how much of the day is just written off to changing diapers/nappies, feeds and burping. When things like school-runs and mealtimes are added in the days are packed without any other planned activities. We are exceptionally grateful to some people who are cooking some meals for us. Tomorrow we are going to attempt a recreational outing. Brave or foolish - you decide - and I will let you know on Day 101.

There's a pun for title-watchers but no pop is involved.
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day 99: Sleep, wave your hand

Exiles in New York is feeling flaky today. It could be sleep deprivation. Then again, it was sunny and warm today so maybe the E5N1 has gone to my head. Here he is sleeping off another big meal a couple of days ago.

I visited Exile #3's school today. Parents have been going in to talk about what they do at work. Since the class is mostly boys, I talked about robots (a significant part of my work and sounds cool) and dressed up in a cleanroom suit - there's no place for pride when trying to entertain a group of four and five year olds. I should have seen it coming - they wanted to know why I hadn't brought in a robot to show it working. But less predictable was that when I was asking them why they thought I might have to wear a special suit to visit the room where the robots are one of them said "To make you look like a robot?" Disguise. Cunning. You can never be too careful.

Could it be Pop pun #13? Macho man, sound your horn, ring the bell, kiss, comb your hair, wave your hands, come on wave your hands, ...
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Day 98: From tiny acorns

After tea today, the girls took themselves to the end of the garden and sat down. This has been something of a habit for Exile #4 whenever she goes out, and since we now have three small chairs thanks to a gift from a neighbour, Exile #3 can now join in.

At his doctors follow-up appointment E5N1 weighed-in at 7lbs 14oz - 10oz more than when he left the hospital a week ago, so I think we can assume he is feeding OK and all our thoughts about how much bigger he seems may be based on reality after all.

I was thinking about speed limits earlier today, I ended up driving out in the countryside near here and passed a sign on a narrow road in very bad disrepair reminding me that the state speed limit is 55 mph - it would have taken a sturdy vehicle and a strong constitution to attempt to break the speed limit there. Those same signs also appear on some 6-lane highways nearby, where to go significantly less than the speed limit would be considered strange and probably antisocial. Now I know that speed limits aren't targets and that we need to take the road conditions into consideration etc. but surely a review might be in order?

The other things that have caught my eye on the roads several times recently are the back-to-front cement mixer trucks - to someone used to seeing them with the opening at the back, they appear to barrelling down the highway backwards - quite a distraction, even at 55 mph.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Day 97: Watching the world go by

This morning Exile #4 decided she wanted to go outside and ended up sitting as you see watching the rain fall lightly. It reminded us of UK summer holiday-making (deckchairs in caravan awnings in rainy camp-sites and the like).

My parents left storm-chaser style to follow the bad weather to the coast. OK - actually to get their flight tomorrow. Here things have started to dry out (including a minor flood in the basement), hopefully the rain will not come soon enough or strongly enough for the ground to get waterlogged again.

I hear that Exile #3 is enjoying her new-found celebrity status at school and is telling her classmates all about what her 9 day-old brother does and likes and doesn't like. We ended up going all together to pick her up from school today and due to an administrative problem we found ourselves doing it in Exile #2's normal saloon car. It turns out that it is actually possible (with two people and a crowbar) to get the children's three car seats in the back of it, but it is extremely difficult and then we had to strap them in in the correct order so that we could reach the appropriate buckles. I'm not sure if it's really a viable way to travel.

E5N1 had his first bath today and is smelling as sweet as he looks at last. We bought him a few clothes yesterday, so we don't have to dress him in his sisters' hand-me-downs all the time any more. He might actually be presentable and look like a boy for his next public appearance.

After Exile #4 returned in from this outing, she spotted a squirrel sitting on her chair. "He's a very cheeky squirrel!" was her assessment. Mine was, "Get back out to your post!"
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Monday, April 16, 2007

Day 96: Look at my baby brother

Today Exile #3 returned to school and E5N1 made his first appearance there - first by way of a photo and then in person. When the holiday started before Easter it was still "should be any time now" now it's all smiles and congratulations. It is very hard to believe that it is now as long since he was born as it was between the due date and his arrival - it certainly doesn't feel like it.

Before school I was looking for a photo of E5N1 for Exile #3 to take with her and since we had a bit of time I ended up showing the girls some old photos and videos of themselves. I was quite surprised by the change in them since we left the UK. It should not be a surprise - 96 days have passed and three months older means 5% for Exile #3 and 9% for Exile #4 - and, of course they have had a crisis and an opportunity to re-invent themselves.

In keeping with our current weather (although planned some time in advance) it is "Rain Week" in Exile #3's class - they managed dry windy days in "Wind Week" and now it's raining constantly for "Rain Week" I need to look up (with some trepidation) what the rest of the month holds.

Of course yesterday's news continues to cast a long shadow, I would hate anyone to think it is forgotten, but I thought we needed some light relief, so I will accept suggestions (serious or not) on what is going on in this photo. And don't forget your answers to the pop puns if you're that way inclined.
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Day 95: A long way from home

We awoke today to some very tragic family news from the UK - a totally unexpected death in Exile #2's family. Of course this casts a huge shadow over things that can't be ignored, nor can it really be discussed in great detail with young children or in a pseudo-anonymous blog. At times like this sometimes it feels like all you can offer to those closest to the situation is your physical presence - no words or actions can help especially at first. Our happy news a week ago made us feel a long way from family, but news like this makes the miles all the more painful.

For us the day has been eventful. Exile #2 is in much better form physically, we had a good fall of snow this morning although it turned to rain this afternoon. As you can see the toys that the girls had been using yesterday look totally inappropriate today. The snowploughs have been out again, and may be needed again tomorrow if the forecast is correct.

Exile #3
had a birthday party to attend and had a great time. Her ability to cope in difficult or unusual social situations has been really improving in recent months and it was great to see her increased confidence paying off. The roads were very wet and a bit slick in places - not ideal driving conditions although how someone had contrived to turn an SUV on its side on a highway ramp (slip-road) I don't know.

E5N1 and Exile #4 had a good afternoon at home with Grandma and Grandpa so all in all we are weathering the physical storm OK so far. The emotional storm is another thing of course.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Day 94: Hey you! Who said fat baby?

The box reads "Lots to Love Babies - It's just baby fat". You've got to love those marketing people. As for what it says about body-image issues in children and childhood obesity, I'm not sure.

Anyway, E5N1 continues to do well and certainly doesn't much resemble one of these yet. We are quite tired, Exile #2 in particular who is also a bit off-colour.

There is a big Nor'easter due to arrive tomorrow and continue for a couple of days - this is the sort of storm that caused our big drops of snow in mid-Feb and mid-March. This time, we expect rain - I suppose it will be interesting to witness a big rain storm here, and although my parents drive to the airport on Tuesday may be disrupted we should be otherwise reasonably content to wait it out in indoor-comfort.

With several still to solve as listed yesterday, here is pop pun #12 - How you been (doing with them)? You got it tough? I've seen the toughest around!
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Day 93: Once a pun a time

Today my parents returned from their trip, T & S came to visit with their baby (about twice as old as E5N1) and this evening we ate sushi and sashimi (now that Exile #2 is allowed again). Pictured are my father, E5N1 and Exile #3.

I thought I would use this quiet news day to recap the pop puns to date - did you get them all?

1) Day 22: This means nothing to me... (I imagine you all got this)
2) Day 37: Life in a northern town (yes there is a pun there - if you know where to look)
3) Day 45: Yo baby'll solve it (solved by Adrian)
4) Day 54: There's snow beginning (solved by Adrian)
5) Day 58: Climbing up the Ariel
6) Day 64: Do you still (atom) feed me? (solved by Adrian)
7) Day 65: All white now, baby
8) Day 69: Trudging (in stilettos) in the snow (solved by Adrian and Jude)
9) Day 81: Get your motor running (the pun was there, but no prizes for this one)
10) Day 83: So what if I tie my hair (solved anonymously - although I have my suspicions)
11) Day 91: Queen of the mountain (solved by Adrian - what's wrong with the rest of you?)
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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 92: Alfresco dining

Not for us of course, since as you can just about see we have had a covering of snow again. I took this picture this morning with my very ordinary digital camera - the Downy Woodpecker was about 12 feet (and a double-glazed window) away.

Today has been a very quiet day, we looked at lots of old photos this morning with the girls who enjoyed recognising faces and deducing the identity of babies by recognising their parents and so on. We spent the afternoon watching Peter Pan (well, Exile #3 watched, Exile #4 watched except for the scariest bit, I provided moral support but mostly whilst asleep, Exile #2 replied to some emails and then joined us when E5N1 woke and fed him while watching the ending!)
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Day 91: Queen of the mountain

Today for the first time since an unknown date in January or early February there is no snow at all on our plot. Exile #4 is pictured on Sunday afternoon - as E5N1 was preparing to make his appearance - conquering the mountain by carrying her chair to the top and sitting on it. There was definitely a sense of achievement in it connected to the memory of the mountain as it was.

Today we have had a nice day in our new nuclear (nuculer?) family unit. Mum and Dad have ventured off to investigate New York State for a couple of days. The rest of us managed a walk, a trip to a playground and a brief visit to the supermarket (well the car-park in the case of Exile #2 and E5N1). The sun shone and the girls shed all their warm clothing layers whilst running around at the park.

However, and this is getting beyond a joke, a storm is expected tonight - it may be rain or sleet, but we are expected to get at least 2 inches of snow again.

Batten down the hatches for pop pun #11. The wind is whistling through the house (snow with rosebud).
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Day 90: Chicken smell sends...

...restless baby to sleep at last.

OK, so actually E5N1 was sleeping peacefully listening to the dishwasher and it was lamb that was cooking but you'll forgive me for fulfilling my own prediction perhaps (just a week and a half early).

Inspired by E5N1's first journey today, my mum told us the story of my first journey. It was in an ambulance within a few hours of my birth. Not rushing me for life-saving surgery or anything, but doing a transfer between buildings at the same hospital. The journey involved driving along a short stretch of main road with five or six mothers sitting on bench-seats in the back of an ambulance holding their newborn babies. Quite different from our experiences with a federally-approved child-seat today.

I doubt they had to go through the rigmarole to be discharged that we did today either. Checking the footprints taken in the delivery room along with four separate bits of data from both mother's and baby's wristbands, signing waivers left right and centre to confirm that we had been told this or that and that we had chosen to have or not to have the other. In the end though however you leave, there is always that moment of being 'let loose' with this new life. Quite a humbling experience even with number three.

Exile #3 and Exile #4 continue to cope well with E5N1's invasion. Today they 'helped him' by unwrapping their present for him (only wrapped a week or so ago). Exile #3 also showed an aptitude for settling him down by stroking his head, "He likes me!" she said delighted. Exile #2 is tired and sore, but largely happy to be home I think.
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Monday, April 9, 2007

Day 89: Two big sisters

Exile #3 and Exile #4 met E5N1 for the first time today. They seemed quite pleased - although the glint in their eyes could mean any number of things. How he feels about having two big sisters is anyone's guess at the moment. It is my lot in life too, so if nothing else, he has my sympathy ;-)

Once we gave up being shocked by his arrival, we settled down to agreeing on a name for him, but it is a matter of irrelevance to Exile #4, who proclaimed on hearing it "No, he's Baby!" and later told someone who had just heard his name "I call him Baby" - I wonder how long that will last?

Exile #2, as well as in shock over having a boy, is also in some degree of shock about the rapidity and relative ease of his arrival. She has said "Never again!" though - not that either of us have been planning any further natives or exiles. We hope that they will both be returning home tomorrow.
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Day 88: It's a boy (arrived at last)

Here is Exile #5/Native #1. Let's call him E5N1 - he actually has no real-world name yet for reasons I will now explain.

When we had the girls (in the UK) we never asked their sex when going though ultrasound etc. and no-one ever offered to tell us, so we found out in the delivery room each time. This time round we saw no reason to do anything differently except that everyone seemed surprised that we didn't know. When we went for a late ultrasound, Exile #2 thought she had caught sight of the word 'Female' on the screen with measurements etc. and at her last antenatal appointment, the midwife consistently referred to the baby as 'she'. So, we were pretty much convinced that he was going to be a girl. Our reasoning turned out to be correct - had we allowed them to tell us, they would have told us he was a she. So, we have not settled on a name for him. That's a job for later in the day.

He was born on Day 88 - just - at 11.55 pm weighing 7 lbs 7 oz. We arrived at the hospital just after 11 pm. The midwife arrived just after he was born. Exile #2 did incredibly well, still doubting that things were far enough along to head to the hospital - just as well we did though. At 10 pm she was trying to play Sweet Child O' Mine on Guitar Hero 2, but the contractions weren't far enough apart to let her get to the end. Maybe we should consider Axl and Slash as names? Maybe not.
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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Day 87: Feeding the birds

We started the day wondering whether any birds would discover our new bird feeders, and they did. The morning was dry and sunny, not warm by any means but we wrapped up and ventured out to take the Beaver Tree Trail. It did not disappoint as you can see from this beavered tree. We also saw several new-to-us species of birds including one not sighted at this location by anyone this year.

This afternoon we went for a swim, Exile #3 and Exile #4 surprise us every time with their increasing confidence and enjoyment of being in the water which is great. After we all had a nice Japanese meal, Exile #2 and I went to do some last minute Easter shopping. Whilst standing in the fruit and veg section I heard a message over a loudspeaker "Please stand back..." I missed the rest of the announcement. Moments later water started spraying behind me over the salad items accompanied by recorded thunder sounds. Classy!

Earlier in the day, we found our bird-feeding had unexpected consequences. We fed one bird, not with fat-cake and seeds but with a bird feeding on the seeds. A Cooper's Hawk had caught a small bird and was devouring it between our house and the one next door. It obligingly stayed long enough for my dad to get a decent photo or two for identification purposes, before departing to let the other birds relax again for a while.
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Friday, April 6, 2007

Day 86: In search of fairytale moles

We set off this morning with some enthusiasm to Albany Pine Bush Preserve hoping to have a nice walk and perhaps see some wildlife. We quickly found our route being chosen, not by sights of interest, but by staying out of the wind which felt bitterly cold. Not surprisingly, Exile #4, who doesn't do cold well was soon saying "I want to go ho-o-me" and we did soon turn back. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, but one thing we did see were surface tunnels dug by burrowing creatures, later found out to most likely be Hairy-tailed Moles.

Later we finally made our long-awaited trip to the hospital, as we walked though the door Exile #2 was joking about being "in denial" and just visiting someone. We were of course. T & S have just had a baby boy a few days early overtaking us. Exile #2 advised against me posting a picture of her holding the one-day-old with the title "It's a Boy!" - probably wise but it would have appealed to my sense of humour. We met some of the hospital staff, "When will be seeing you?" "Soon we hope." etc. It is nice to see that T & S seem to be having a positive experience both for their sake and ours and it was great to meet their baby.

Exile #3 was delighted to see an Eastern Bluebird in the garden today - she has been very excited about the prospect since before one was first sighted here. We now have some bird feeders up, so hopefully we will continue to attract a variety of these new and exciting (to us anyway) visitors.
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