Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 171: The sharp end

This morning at eight, our next-door neighbour interrupted 'Saturday breakfast' to warn us that they needed to block our drive in order to remove the lightning-struck tree.

In fact, two men had come to remove it with a large crane, a chainsaw and a massive garden shredder.
There is a video of part of the tree being munched here.

After that excitement, we went over to the new house to see the completion of the floor resurfacing and then realised we were short of a few things for the next couple of jobs, so we went to the garden centre for a housewarming gift (not for ourselves!), the supermarket for some supplies and some lunch and then returned. We ate lunch sitting on a mattress in the kitchen. I don't know why it was there! Then Exile #2 did some kitchen cabinet cleaning and Exile #3 and I bonded over clearing some dead (following pathclearing weedkiller application) grass from in between the bricks on the pathway to the front door. When it got too hot, we retreated, sometimes to the kitchen for a cold drink, otherwise to the basement for some cool air.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening with T&S and baby J at their new home (hence the housewarming gift) we had a very nice time including (in alphabetical order): barbecue, beer, chasing girls aroung garden, conversation, cooing over each other's babies, showing off new cars, test drive of tractor/ride-on mower. A fine time.

The girls were ushered into bed without any real difficulty on our arrival home (at 9pm), all-in-all a very good day, and I am especially happy that the Daddy-Exile #3 interactions were overwhelmingly positive today. If only this were true of all my non-work days...
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 170: A different view

E5N1 soon made friends (lots of talking and smiling) with this unfamiliar baby who appeared in the mirror as he was about to be lifted out of his bath. Although it will be many months before he realises who the 'baby in the mirror' is, I'm glad that they're getting along so far.

After spending most of the day wiring some new offices for power and network connections - not part of my normal job description, but fine for a change, we caught the rush-hour traffic on our way back to our regular office. As a result, when I left half an hour later, I decided to try a different route avoiding all dual carriageways (divided highways). It took me a little longer - most of the non-highway roads here are death-by-traffic-lights - but not outrageously long and I should imagine it's quite predictable in a way that the highways in the rush-hour are not.

Although you see more people (as opposed to people-in-cars) driving through town, the highway is better for wildlife apparently. On our inter-office journey earlier, I spotted a mother deer with a feeding fawn sheltering in the shade of a tree on a small patch of grass surrounded by slip-roads (ramps). Now that was quite a sentence.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 169: It's a Honda!

No really, I now own a lawnmower with a 160cc Honda engine. I had the day off today, mainly so that I could let some workmen into the house to sand and refinish the wood floors in two bedrooms. The day did not start well as the house had no power when I got there this morning following yesterday's storm. Take it from me, they were not planning to be sanding by hand. So I had to call them off. While I was waiting for them to call me back to let me know what they were going to suggest, I noticed a light glowing on a doorbell in the garage (don't ask me!). I thought it a bit strange, but it was indeed a sign of the power being back on. Back on the phone. To cut a long story slightly shorter, they came to do the work.

One of the guys is from Fife (Scotland), I was shocked that as he was telling me that when it gets hot he starts to want to go 'home' I couldn't identify his accent at all. I nearly asked him if he was Canadian. OK, he has been here for five years and another eight on an off before that and so has a mixture of Scottish and Northeast in his accent, but still! Fortunately, I was only partially humilliated because I just asked, "Where are you from?" without offering any suggestion. Once he'd told me I couldn't believe I hadn't realised before, it was so obvious.

I suppose it is like meeting someone out of context. Even someone who you say hello to everyday can be hard to place if you see them in an unexpected place. Once I met the secretary of the professor of the lab I worked in at the time in a town-centre carpark about 12 miles from the lab. At work, she would have greeted me by name without any issue, but on that occassion she really seemed to not have a clue who I was until I told her where she knew me from. Our brains are fantastically efficient, but even the best software struggles at times.

While the floor people were working, I cut the grass (and assorted intermingled broad-leafed plants). The mower worked very well. I would have needed a long time and a very long extension lead to have done it with my 32 cm electric mower.

We also had an electrician over to do a quote, had a visit from our real estate broker (with gifts), cleaned the fridge and switched it on and sprayed some path-clearing weedkiller around. Not a bad day's work really. We're planning to move on Friday of next week (6th July). Hopefully floors, electricity, air-conditioning and carpet and chimney cleaning will all have been done by then so we can move in without one eye on having to re-arrange things for those jobs.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 168: Near Mrs?

Today's temperatures were in the 90s again and this afternoon, the clouds started menacing ready for a thunderstorm to hit. We saw the first bolt of lightning from the office window as I was preparing to leave. I made it to the car before either electricity or precipitation could get me, but from there things went downhill.

My route took me first towards the storm. Then at some point, added to lightning and very loud thunder came the wind and the rain. The main road turned into a procession of cars and trucks with hazard lights flashing, wipers on full-tilt, and driving extremely slowly. Every slight depression in the road had turned into a deep puddle and even the undepressed parts were very wet indeed. Several cars had stopped. I can't say it didn't cross my mind to do the same and wait it out, but I really wanted to get home to see how the rest of the family was doing.

When I got nearly home I found half the road blocked by a fallen branch and when I got to the end of our road, I couldn't have carried on past even if I'd wanted to thanks to a fallen tree.
Anyway I got home safely and the weather started to lift. At some point I looked out of the window and saw that half a tree had come down between our house and next-door. It had narrowly missed doing significant damage to their house. Close inspection showed that it had almost certainly been hit by lightning.

When we saw a traffic report after I had been home for 20 minutes or so, two of the roads I had used to get home were closed due to debris and fallen trees. Next time maybe I'll wait it out at work.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 167: Life is a...

This is Exile #3 (well a bit of her hair anyway) and me on the 'Little Whipper Snapper' on her birthday. This was the second or third time round and by then she was holding on for dear life and hoping the ride would stop soon.

At times I know how she feels.

Today has been one of those days when there are as many things that seem to have gone wrong as those that have gone right. I'm in the middle of it now and not much feeling like writing about it - nothing too serious just little hassles and stresses. It doesn't help that temperatures have been in the 90s today and it's been quite humid. Tonight's low is likely to be in the 70s so I doubt it will be the best night's sleep. The air-conditioning turns downstairs into a fridge if allowed to run, seemingly ignoring the thermostat. Upstairs is more patchy (I'm seeing if closing the downstairs vents will help) and the 'master' bedroom where Exile #2, E5N1 and I sleep is not covered at all. I think we'll probably be sleeping in the 'guest' room tonight.

...Roller Coaster. (I'll settle for that.)
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Day 166: Uncovered?

On Saturday, we had two letters from our medical insurance company telling us that because they had not received any, or had only received partial responses to their requests for 'further information' about a claim, they had processed it and decided that they were not going to pay. Great. I tried to call them but of course I had to wait until today (Monday) to actually talk to someone.

The problem dates back to their enquiries about who insured the girls' health before Exile Day 0 when this policy started. Well, before that the girls were very well looked after by the NHS, so the answer does not fit easily into their systems. Anyway, on May 11th I explained this and was told that everything would now be paid.

So, today I called them and was told that indeed, the claims had been 're-routed' on May 11th, and:

1) The letter doesn't mean that they have refused the claim, just that it is outstanding. Er, no actually, it clearly states that the claim has been processed and that they are providing 'no benefit'.

2) The letter is generated automatically by the computer and they 'have no way of telling it that they have re-routed the claim'. They have no way of communicating with their computer?

The person I spoke to seemed not to understand why I was slightly upset to have received, not just a letter telling me that my children have no insurance coverage for anything that might be classed as an ongoing condition, but that it was my fault for not responding to something. Sigh. All's well that ends with the bank balance intact I suppose.
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day 165: Why K and W?

Exile #3 did this a few days ago (it was before her birthday - because the 4 is her age. I don't know who helped her but he's 36. She actually needed very little help with the alphabet, but did need some help finding the letters in the bubbles in the bath.

For some reason 'k' and 'w' were missing. Maybe so that I can share a bit of unexplained culture-shock. I asked someone why all the radio stations have four letter codes starting with W. The answer, which was not very satisfying, was, 'On the west coast they start with K. No-one knows why.'

Someone must know.

My in-car radio station is WFLY or just Fly 92.3, it's a great station. Not too many adverts, amusing presenters and a play-list you can really get to know - in general they seem to have about 8 songs on very heavy rotation and they change I would guess about one of these each week, so you know what you're going to get if you do a reasonable-length journey. The girls are constantly close to note-perfect on all of them. Not word perfect though - Exile #3 likes to substitute phrases she knows for the ones she doesn't and Exile #4 just makes words up for the bits she doesn't understand. Neither of them take kindly to being corrected.

As for P and Z, well she managed to approximate them, and they don't have anything to do with radio as far as I know.
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day 164: These three peas

All is revealed. Thanks to all who played the 'guess the baby exile' game. Congratulations to Tammy, T,S & baby J, Jane, Hannah, Little Big Sis and one anonymous commenter for the six complete, correct guesses.

We did some furniture shopping today and bought a bed for Exile #3, so in theory we can move in to the house as and when we can organise it (Exile #4 was still in the cot (crib) when we left the UK and now E5N1 is using it). We made use of the versatile seating in our 'van', removing a second row seat and folding the third row down to get the new bed in and then managing to restore five seats but still with room for a flat-packed toddler-bed to fit in so that we could all go over to the new house together. Actually it's amazing to think that Exile #4 was sleeping in a cot and wearing nappies when we arrived - it seems so recent and yet she seems so grown up now.

The girls are currently using rented beds which will stay here at Exile Central Zero when we move on to our new pastures as will quite a lot of other furniture - so we have some more shopping to do, but most of the urgent stuff is done. A lawn-mower is still on the 'buy now' list so that we can keep the place from turning into a jungle. One of my colleagues informed me of an important distinction, in posh places they 'mow lawns' elsewhere they 'cut grass' - the implication being that one relates to 'gardening' whereas the other is a basically agricultural activity which takes place in your 'yard' or on your 'land' . I wonder which will be expected in our new neighborhood. Judging by the low concentration of actual grass in the yard I suspect that neither phrase is very appropriate.
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Day 163: Backseat driver

...and just as well since there is no-one in the driver's seat.

We picked up our family wagon on Wednesday and Exile #2 drove it for the first time today and gave it her thumbs-up. Just as well really since there's no point in changing 'our' minds now. Because I made the eccentric (apparently) decision that the car (a 7-seat MPV or minivan depending on your continent) needed to have four disk-brakes we had to go a model and a couple of option-packs up in the range. Let me pause for a European moment - a people-carrier with drum-brakes? Can you believe it? Can you buy such a thing in the UK I wonder? Anyway, the result of this upgrade is that we have all sorts of little features that I would never have been willing to pay extra for but am very happy to have. Exile #2 will, I'm sure, never look back from power side-doors that you can open from the remote on the key-fob. Once you've got something like that you probably can't imagine coping with three children in a car park (parking-lot) without it. As for the other features, I mean to get to grips with them all during this weekend.

Apart from that, we have pre-move work to do. Buying a lawnmower, fitting a few key window-blinds, buying a bed and working out some furniture layouts. I doubt we'll get it all done, but we can try.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 162: Much the same everywhere

I heard a radio advert today for a restaurant with a contemporary atmosphere 'unlike no other'. Oh well, no need to bother remembering which one it is then, as apparently they're all the same.

This evening, this grammatical blunder was completely overshadowed by a philosophical inconsistency. We switched on the TV after the girls were in bed and saw a report on Kelly Clarkson who has revealed that at high school she struggled briefly with bulimia but recovered quickly and now says she will never fall into that trap again. So far so good. It gets better. She said that 'of course' she is bigger than some of the stick-thin celebrities she is photographed near at red-carpet events but she thinks it's important for people to see 'normality'. Great. Then we return to the studio to encouraging noises from the (admittedly stick-thin) young female presenter. Fantastic. Cut to the co-presenter (this is the next story - really). Jessica Simpson has 'lost' both her celebrity boyfriend and 25 lbs. Cue picture of said extremely slim celebrity. What has the presenter got to say about that? 'She looks great!' All hope of normality breaking into celebrity-culture as anything but a weird side-line is gone again. Sigh.

Anyway, here are another couple of pictures from yesterday. We all rode the train around the other rides. Here's everyone except me waiting for it to get under way.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 161: High Five

It's Exile #3's fifth birthday and we have had another very busy day. It started with presents and cards at breakfast time (including a bicycle cunningly hidden behind the curtains). Exile #4 has already got her eyes on it, but hasn't got the leg-length to actually threaten to use it. She seems happy to have now decided that the scooter and tricycle are now hers. After a late-morning piece of cake (actually a whole cake each as Exile #2 had made her trademark 2007-birthday cup-cakes), we set off to do car purchase two part one - a visit to the bank. After that we visited Hoffmans Playland - where the girls rode caterpillars, cars, buses, trains, boats and carousel horses. Exile #3 and I also went on the smallest roller-coaster I have ever seen. The operator has to push the cars onto the chain-lift to start it off and then he lets you go round four times before stopping it. However, Exile #3 would happily have got off after one circuit as it was possibly the most violent roller-coaster I have ever been on. One of the names painted on the side says "whipper-snapper" and there was plenty of whip and I can't be far from causing some snap as well. The whole visit cost in total $25 for 25 ride-tickets (and we didn't go on any of the multi-ticket rides). We did have some lunch there, but even that was reasonably priced if almost entirely devoid of nutritional value. I suppose the no-entry-fee policy means that they have not got a captive market for food unlike many more remote theme parks.

After leaving there we went to pick up our new car, drop off our remaining rental car and return home in time for the girls and me to venture out to our homegroup meeting. Exile #2 is currently nursing both a migraine and a baby and stayed in - although I suspect that she did a fair amount of tidying before allowing herself to have some rest.

Incidentally I haven't forgotten that an answer is required for the guess-the-babies competition, I'll get to it soon, but I'm enjoying the guessing.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 160: Closed but no cigar

This picture was taken on our first visit to our own property here in the US. Closing was an interesting experience. There was the 'everyone in the same room' part - including the seller angling for an invitation to the house-warming. The kids being a welcome distraction for those not having to read and sign dozens of documents. They were very good. The fact that most of the business was done by our attorney going through a pile of documents handing them to us (with an explanation) for us to sign, while on the other side of the table, the same thing was happening with the seller and his attorney. The weird thing of everyone going away with a check of some sort. Ours was signed over to one of the two sellers whilst everyone else (attorneys, real-estate brokers, mortgage broker and of course the sellers) went away with checks from our mortgage lender. At least it's all quite neat and we shouldn't have other odd bills coming in, except the ongoing ones of course!

It was all over quite quickly, not much more than an hour.

The house seems fine and we've met one neighbour and waved at some of the others. A few jobs to do and then we we can move in and start the next chapter of exile in a more settled way hopefully.

Exile #2 has now gone out to buy cake ingredients for tomorrow's birthday celebrations. We'll also be picking our car up at last, so another busy day lies ahead.
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 159: A little runabout

Ever since I first encountered it I have been amused that, whereas in the UK the roads fill up with cars towing caravans in the summer, here it is the caravans (well, RVs) that tow the cars. Recently I've seen that these 'runabout' cars for use on parking the RVs are increasingly large SUVs or even minivans (MPVs). This picture, however, shows that some are taking things to a new level.

Actually, watching this little runabout (or should that be flyabout?) being towed through the tolls was quite exciting as it only had about a foot of headroom and the pot-holes in the road surface threatened to start the rotors bouncing up into potential danger.

Tomorrow will start with our first house 'closing'. We have bought two houses before - but the completion of a house sale in the UK is an event completely devoid of drama or, for that matter, participation from either seller or buyer. As I understand it, tomorrow we will sit down at a table with the sellers of the house and pass a check (cheque) across the table to complete the sale. It seems like a wonderful anachronism to me - and comes as a complete contrast to the rest of the process. Even in viewings of occupied houses, encounters between sellers and prospective buyers seem to be avoided at almost any cost.

Hopefully, I'll be able to let you know how a hitch-free closing looks tomorrow and I'll probably announce the results of yesterday's teaser - don't miss your chance to join the fun!
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day 158: They're like three...

...completely different things in a pod. Or are they?

Here are Exile #3, Exile #4 and E5N1 - but do you know which one is which? Comments please!

We had a great day. I was woken by the girls bearing gifts at 6.15am. Fortunately we'd had the good sense (for once) to have an early night. They had been given special early-waking dispensation by Exile #2 because I had offered to go and play guitar at church this morning. So I unwrapped presents (shirts and ties to replace some of my very sad imported ones), had breakfast with the girls and then dashed out. After church we had some nice conversations with the families of the church newlyweds who were married on Friday evening, then went out to lunch with another family. All good stuff. This afternoon we had a walk at Five Rivers and saw at least two new-to-us species of birds and watched a tiny red squirrel take on three enormous grey squirrels and come out on top. Another small victory - hooray!
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Day 157: Balloon flower

This afternoon we all went to the 5th birthday party of one of Exile #3's classmates. It was a really nice party and, like the last one, was a really well organised party with a relatively modest budget. Phew. At least we don't yet find ourselves playing 'my party's more expensive than yours' yet. In fact we are debating at the moment what to do for Exile #3's birthday on Wednesday. We are buying a house (and hopefully a car as well) on Tuesday, so thoughts of a major party-event have been long since discarded. Probably we'll have some sort of day-out followed by some play-dates with her friends during the summer once we've moved.

Exile #4 held her own quite well with the older kids which bodes well for her school-start later in the year. E5N1 was passed around and, except when he was hungry, lived-up to his laid-back billing.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Day 156: Branded for life

E5N1 is doing well as you can hopefully tell. His greatest excitements in life (apart from food) are Exile #3 who consistently gets the best smiles and the light-fittings in the family room that come in a close second - although maybe they should be covered by the food-exclusion due to their mammiform nature.

Exile #2 has been thinking that the girls need some summer footwear and was considering some lightweight plastic clogs when Exile #3 wandered over to look over her shoulder at the webpage she was browsing "Ooo - 'Crocs'!" she said, correctly identifying them. Exile #2 was quite shocked, "How do you know that?", "Oh, [names of two school-friends] have them!" So the peer-pressure to start buying particular brands starts here. I'm sure that she is just at the age of starting to be aware of such things but it is impossible not to wonder what effect our continent-shift has had.

When we arrived Exile #3 could already (I'm afraid) recognise the famous golden arches of a particular fast-food chain. However, she gave it an altogether more wholesome air by referring to it as "Old MacDonald's". Food fresh from the farm presumably. E-I-E-I-O.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day 155: Cottingley photos faked!

This photograph is proof that it's impossible to get fairies to stand still long enough to be photographed. So there.

The day got off to a dramatic start when Exile #4 attempted to walk between my still-recumbent form and the edge of the bed and ended up doing half a somersault off the side of the bed and landing head first on the floor. Somehow she managed to not hurt herself, but she was a bit shaken up.

Her real injuries at the moment (unusually for her) are not self-inflicted but mosquito bites. According to Wikipedia, the whole English speaking world calls then 'mozzies' except for here in North America where they're known by variations on 'skeeters'. Indeed, Exile #2 reports receiving a very blank look when she told someone she had some mozzie-bites. There's always something to catch us out.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day 154: Let's offroad!

The red-wagon, an American classic. On Memorial Day, about half the families we saw arriving on foot were pulling one of these with either children or with the paraphernalia of a serious parade-watching expedition in it. So, we are now (since Exile #4's birthday) a one-wagon family. Exile #2 chose the model - the steel all-terrain version, over various wood and plastic models. A great choice. It's a sturdy piece of kit in the mould of the 'unbreakable' Tonka truck of my youth - only on a much bigger scale.

Today we edged towards completing our large-purchases. As long as they can get hold of one quickly I have agreed a price on a car and we have a date for 'closing' on our house next week.

Life is full, but we are, in general, doing fine.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day 153: A great relief (or two)

We just heard from Exile #2's parents that they are safely home, but only after an extraordinary journey including an unexpected visit to France. It's strange to think of all that travelling having taken place since this picture was taken yesterday.

Yesterday was also a momentous day for E5N1 as he managed to fill his diaper for the first time in ten days. I know it's not really a polite conversation topic, but TEN DAYS! His previous best was six. We shouldn't complain I know, although they are fairly momentous when they come, once a week or so is quite easy to deal with.

It was 'poop' all round yesterday in fact, thanks to one of the books that Exile #4 received for her birthday: The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business. A plethora of animals showing a mole with a turd on his head that it couldn't be theirs by delivering one of their own. A toilet-humour primer for pre-schoolers. Fantastic. It's just as well no-one accused her little brother - he'd be hard pushed (if you'll excuse the term) to demonstrate his innocence.
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 152: Happy Birthday 3 Today!

Today started for me at 2 am when I woke to the sound of running water in the bathroom. When I went to investigate I discovered that no-one was there and there was no running tap (faucet) but a recurrence of a regular problem with the cistern valve on the toilet. Having fixed this I heard voices and found Exile #4 sitting up in Exile #3's bed with her with the light on looking at books. No wonder they are tired in the day at times.

Anyway, I put a swift end to that and we were able to start Exile #4's birthday again at 6.30. Here she is with her birthday cakes.

Soon after this Exile #2's parents left to drive back to Boston for their overnight flight back to the UK. They have worked incredibly hard whilst here - I imagine they will sleep for a week when they get home.

By coincidence, it was Exile #4's second day at school - not that she starts Pre-K until September, but today was 'Popsicles and Play' - a chance to meet the children, parents and teachers who will be in Pre-K and Kindergarten next year. Since we had two qualifying children, we were there in force. The girls had a great time, E5N1 was suitably cooed over and we managed to have some conversations with other parents that the normal run of pick-up and drop-off does not allow.

We had a nice day in general, marred by one incident which will require a transatlantic apology. Sigh.

After the girls went to bed I managed to repeat my pre-E5N1 feat of swimming half a mile in single 20/25 minute session. I was very pleased to know I could still do it, hopefully I can get back in the swing of going regularly and regain my pre-birth figure!
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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Day 151: I'm here to help you

These words were delivered with complete earnestness by Exile #4 as part of this role as a doctor. She asked me 'What is hurting?' I assumed that this was not a philosophical question and replied that my knee was, she proceeded to listen to it with the stethoscope and pronounce it to be fine. True, but vaguely unsatisfying. Exile #3 generally prescribes drugs in the same situation, but Exile #4 seems to take a more holistic approach - in this case she is cutting Mummy's nails to help with her headache I think, although it looks more like she is trying to steal the bling.

It is Exile #4's birthday tomorrow and we have been preparing this evening. Also, Exile #2's parents leave for their flight back to the UK. All in all it will be quite a day I suspect. There is not much hope of a return to normality until well after Exile #3's birthday (Day 161) and our house move (some time in July).

My Web 2.0 adventure is gaining steam. Those who know me can now find me on MySpace (rather half-heartedly) and Facebook (marginally less so).
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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Day 150: Ex(ile)-types?

Exile #2 and I sat next to these two baby jaguars at a performance of Go, Diego, Go Live! this afternoon. Thanks to a top-tip from my sister, we took Exile #3's two car booster seats (without the backs) to give the girls an extra few inches and a better view.

Meanwhile E5N1 slept soundly in his pushchair (stroller) while his grandparents walked him around the city streets. A relief for all of us.

The girls seemed to really enjoy the show - for tonight they are exhausted and have gone to bed very willingly - it will be interesting to see what if anything they have to say about it tomorrow. For my part, I thought it was a very good show, slightly let down by some hard-to-hear/follow dialogue - although to be fair to actors and sound-technicians, quite a few parents in the audience seemed to think that it was acceptable to talk loudly to their children throughout the performance. Exile #2 wondered if it is just that people are so used to wall-to-wall TV programming that it doesn't occur to them not to just 'switch-off' what is going on and have whatever debate is on their minds. However, I suspect that in general people are quiet in movie-theaters and that what we observed was parents so worried about their children's behaviour that they forgot about their own. I'm sure I'm guilty of that all too often.
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Friday, June 8, 2007

Day 149: Shall we dance?

My search for a car financing deal goes on. Yesterday the main contact at the dealers was out of the office and therefore unable to fax-on the documents I sent him in support of my application. Today the person who requested those documents was out and therefore unable to look at them. Frustrating times.

We are in the process of sorting out our home-owners insurance for our new home and once that is done we should be able to set a date for closing in the next week or so. Exciting times.

This evening I went out with someone from church for a beer and some wings. How good it is to be able to both pass the time of day (or night) and to get past small-talk to discussing things that really matter to us. The place we went to was cool too - and well off the tourist-trail, so we're definitely starting to act like locals, even if we are a long way from looking (or sounding at least) like locals. Satisfying times.

Tomorrow we start the celebration of the girls' birthdays with a trip to the theatre to see Go, Diego, Go Live! The celebrations will be going on for more than two weeks so we're in for the long-haul. Exile #2's parents are going to look after E5N1 whilst the rest of the Exiles go to see the show, for which we are hugely grateful. Hopefully he will realise that his part in proceedings is to be calm and quiet (maybe even asleep!) for the duration. If not they might end up having a rather miserable time.
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