Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 5.295: Harry Potter and the Mountain of Candy

This evening, with the weather being kind, we once again took to the streets armed with flashlights, cute costumes and bags to carry candy. Well in my case only one of the three - I was just an enabler.

The kids, dressed once again as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley,  braved some fairly scary sights:


But it seemed to be worth it!


Oh my goodness - that's about a year's supply!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 5.294: Doctor...?

So, with Halloween basically upon us, here are the much-hyped pumpkin designs revealed on location and just before the first two were installed.


If you're still wondering about the third one and give up you can click here. It's from my favourite episode of Season 1 of the modern era of Doctor Who (the Cardiff era perhaps?) - also the one that gave Exile #4 nightmares - so it's appropriate for Halloween. Also a Dalek - probably the Doctor's nightmare and the TARDIS - which is perhaps one of theirs?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 5.293: Sandy and the pumpkin papers

So, we're experiencing the passing (well to our south - happily) of what was Hurricane Sandy. She's now a post-tropical storm but seems to have brought unprecedented flooding to New York City and other places down the coast.

It remains to be seen if we will suffer any more than some inconvenience.

The inconvenience started with Exile #2 and I having to cancel our day-out plans due not directly to the weather, but to the kids' school being dismissed early.

Anyway, we're all fine, home, dry and hoping to hear the same for our friends in various places.

Here is a piece of Exile #3's work we saw at school the other day:


And here are the two pieces of E5N1's artwork based on our pumpkin-carving reference pictures that I posted on facebook over the last couple of days along with what should be the clincher:


At some point, he wanted to do a fourth picture so he decided to do an internet search on the iPad.  He'd typed:  doctrandrose - pretty close to what he was looking for - by the time Exile #2 spotted what he was doing! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 5.292: The fall before the storm

It was a perfect weekend for raking and piling...


At lunchtime, E5N1 was out at a birthday party with a Halloween theme - he chose to wear this spider costume.  Later we walked to the library through the crunchy leaves at the sides of the roads.  When we got back he disappeared into the large (but not quite even his shoulder-height) piles at the edge of our front yard.

Our own piles were not added to much this weekend however - I couldn't really bring myself to spend much time piling leaves up only for them to be blown everywhere by Hurricane Sandy when she (hopefully only) grazes us over the next couple of days.  We are expecting nothing worse than a couple of inches of rain and some strong winds, but not far away friends are preparing for much worse.  By this time tomorrow we'll know much more.

Day two of the E5N1 pumpkin game on the facebook page.  I think today's "clue" will give it away to many!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 5.291: Hollow-een

After one of our very rare trips to the mall this morning, we redressed the balance by revisiting Hollyhock Hollow for their "Hollow-een" event.

We made our first visit to Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary, the headquarters of Audubon International, back in May 2007 when E5N1 was just a few weeks old.

Today's event included some guided walks (we took part in a scavenger hunt), some talks (pictured is "Birding by Sight and Sound"), some craft activities, refreshments and face painting.  It was all nicely low-key - much like the place itself.


After the organised activities, we set out on our own along one of the trails.  It quickly turned into a clamber over rocks and then into a clambering over rocks in the middle of the creek (for the girls anyway).


I particularly liked Exile #3's traversal of a fallen tree over a raging torrent (top centre) and Exile #4's aborted attempt to wade through the deep part (top right).  All this despite the fact that the water was, apparently (and unsurprisingly), "freezing".

By the way, I've started a little competition over at the facebook page.  Come and see if you can solve a little puzzle.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 5.290: Which witch?

It was the school Halloween party this evening.  An event we've missed the last couple of years.  Here are the three of them ready to go as their favourite Harry Potter characters.


The party comprises a bake-sale, a disco, some craft activities and the main-event an impressive haunted house (well, more haunted hallway - but it's unrecognisable even to those of us who have often walked along it.)

As a 5th Grader, Exile #3 did a shift inside the 'house' scaring the younger kids.  These are Exile #4's photos inside:


Exile #2 did a long shift supervising a craft table and I trailed around after E5N1 most of the evening.  Not our best ever night out perhaps, but the kids all seemed to have a lot of fun.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 5.289: Smoke...and fire

On Sunday, to my shame, I was unable to cook the pictured steak to the required medium-rare. I did manage to give it some mesquite smoke flavour and a good sear in places.

On Sunday, to my delight, my two children who were eating (Exile #3 had just got back from a birthday party) ate first and second helpings of said - unintentionally very rare - steak without any complaints.


It's been fire safety week and our kindergartner came home with lots of fire-safety-related things - and was very cute about showing them off!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 5.288: A bit of tiling

Several of us did some tiling over the weekend. Exile #2 and I worked with mosaic tiles in the downstairs 'bathroom' whilst E5N1 and Exile #4 used some Hama Beads for their work.


All of us took some time and did a fairly painstaking job.  E5N1 very reluctantly left his unfinished turtle at one point to eat a meal (or for some other unnecessary interruption).  Exile #4 started with the aim of filling the board with light/dark blue stripes but realised that she needed to diversify to get the job done.

In the end.  We were all quite satisfied with our efforts!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 5.287: Skating, cycling and... tubing?

We went to the park on Sunday for a long-promised trial of the boomerang that E5N1 recently found and took an interest in.

We had a lot of fun and a little success throwing it - although it was a little windy.

The kids also brought one other item.

Exile #4 showed off her skill on her roller blades, Exile #3 enjoyed doing laps on her new bike and E5N1...:


Sometimes the less you know, the better.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 5.286: Beautiful signs of fall

Before it was brought to a sudden end, our aim on visiting Five Rivers on Saturday was to spot some signs of fall for a school project of E5N1's. It was a beautiful afternoon and we saw a lot!

Sunshine on autumnal leaves and seed pods (and a deer):


And, less seasonally perhaps, some excellent shape-spotting clouds.  Here we have sea-turtle and crocodile/dinosaur clouds:


(second half of the walk not pictured!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 5.285: Face to face with a fisher

When I was out running yesterday morning I heard something moving through the undergrowth towards the road. It was moving slowly but directly and it was definitely smaller than a deer, but bigger than a squirrel.

I stopped beside the road and waited to see if it would emerge.

At this point I should have readied my camera - well my phone (I don't run with an actual camera). If I had I could have captured something like this:

Fisher (Martes pennanti)
This wonderful photo is by Flickr user guppiecat


A fisher.  It stood on the side of the road, no more than 20 feet away, for a couple of seconds looking straight at me. Then it moved - and I pulled out my phone and caught it disappearing into the ditch on the other side and then turning to look at me again from much further away:

These are mine!

Not exactly award winning, but you can just about see what it is in the bottom photo.

I was struck by its lustrous coat and its size - it's the largest member of the marten family - similar to a fox in length but sleek and low to the ground.  It was quite confident too - clearly in no way tame - but when it left it was definitely on its own terms and not fleeing from its unexpected interaction with a sweaty man just after dawn.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 5.284: Running away


Pictures of E5N1 or the other kids running into the distance are not uncommon. In general, running on ahead is highly preferable to dragging their heels behind so it's often the sign of a happy walk.

Less so today.

On one occasion (not the one pictured) E5N1 ran off - back the way we'd come. We waited, planning to go on, sure he would return. He didn't. Exile #3 offered to go and find him but we reluctantly decided we'd better all go back.

We didn't find him.  We ended up splitting up into three groups and taking different paths.  Still nothing.  I left Exile #3 waiting at the car in case he made it back there and ran back along the trail just in time to see Exile #2 (and Exile #4) being reunited with him.  He'd eventually found his way back on to the 'correct' trail where we had been waiting for him originally and a couple had found him there and started back along the trail with him.

His reaction on seeing his mom revealed that he'd probably had a bit of a scare (although, I suspect, less than that of his parents) so hopefully it will be a learning experience!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 5.283: Made it to the end of the week

Yay!


This is one of the pictures from the camera that Exile #3 took with her on her adventure at the beginning of the week. I'm not sure which of her friends took it. She was back a bit closer to her normal self today after a very tired day yesterday.

Now to see where the weekend will take us!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 5.282: When you say it's going to happen now...

Thanks to some generous babysitting we went to see Morrissey tonight at the Palace Theatre in Albany. It was great!


He did songs ranging from Still Ill (from the first album by The Smiths released in 1984) to two songs (Action Is My Middle Name and People Are The Same Everywhere) which were first performed in 2011 (since his last album was released).  He moved effortlessly from era to era - with neither the older nor the newer material seeming out of place.

He also moved effortlessly through a series of shirts (one was ripped off dramatically on stage as he issued the punchline to Let Me Kiss You and then thrown into the crowd).  There were at least four shirts in total in the 19 song set.   Here he is in one of them:


Highlights for me were the aforementioned Let Me Kiss You along with You Have Killed Me and Ouija Board. Exile #2 was delighted to hear Spring-Heeled Jim and Every Day Is Like Sunday.  He also did a wonderful version of I Know It's Over, well, let's face it I could single out almost every song (full setlist here). We could also name at least as many songs that we would have loved to hear but didn't make it into the set tonight.  The only time the band seemed to have a tiny misstep was in One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell in which they seemed to get a bit out of time at one point but even that song was wonderful.  His voice, stage presence and delivery are all as strong as ever.

He didn't say too much - at one point he seemed to be both complaining about and admiring the building.  Let's face it he seems conflicted about most things - with the exception of his vegetarianism.  He made a reference to Obama eating lambs and lambs being babies therefore...Obama Eats Babies! and did an unrelenting version of Meat Is Murder with a film of hideous lifestock farming practices going on above his head.

The set started with Shoplifters Of The World - which has the wonderfully (in)appropriate line for a first song: I was bored before I even began and he finished the set with Speedway, the closing track from Vauxhall And I in which he admits - All of the rumours keeping me grounded - I never said they were completely unfounded.

And then, wonderfully, as an encore...



...in which he sings I am human and I need to be loved - just like everybody else does and then he accepted hugs from those down the front whether they reached out to him or invaded the stage while the band played on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 5.281: She's back!

Tired but happy.

As far as I can tell she's feeling the same way (or she was before she turned in for an early night).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 5.280: Stanton's Feura Farm

On Saturday, we went to Feura Bush to pick pumpkins at Stanton's Feura Farm - a pumpkin patch of the hay-ride, corn-maze, cider and donuts (and a field of pumpkin) school of pick-your-own.  We had a blast!

We enjoyed the straw maze - a small but excellent maze with lots of blind corners and dead-ends, the kids area where Exile #4 and E5N1 raced tricycles and played in a corn box (that's not sand that his sister is burying E5N1 in below!).

The cider donuts were rather excellent.  I'm not sure if they are made on premises or with their own apples which are also available for pick your own right now only a few years after the orchard was established (sadly we ran out of time to do that - much to Exile #4's disappointment.)


The star of the show was undoubtedly the straw slide - the kids went down, climbed back up, went down again for quite some time - even too-cool-for-kids'-stuff Exile #3 was well and truly won over.

It calls for a moving picture I think:


Oh yes, there were also pumpkins to pick.  Lots of them.  And views.


And next to the pumpkin field, a corn maze - large, fun but intricate rather than fiendish (this one should move too):


And after we returned on the hayride with our pumpkins...more sliding! (and this one)


Now we just need to find time to go back for some of those apples...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 5.279: Nature's classroomer

I took Exile #3 to school early this morning because she was leaving with the rest of 5th Grade before the rest of the school arrived to spend three days and two nights at Nature's Classroom.

She was a little nervous when it came to it, but settled again once united with some of her friends. I'm sure she'll be just fine!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 5.278: Friends far and near


I've never been very good at keeping in touch with people. I have great friendships and value them hugely but I've just never been very good at correspondence of any sort. It's not even that I don't think about people when they're not around - I do - I just don't do anything about it.

I realise that this blog has meant that my friends are very much in touch with what we're doing, but it is - to a close approximation - the only way anyone hears from me.

So it is all the more joyful when we see our friends and find that they are still friends even when we've barely been in touch for so long.

D, often referred to as "Exile #3's godmother" - mostly because it's an easy nameless epithet that fits with the anonymity that I value here - was probably our first friend when we moved house (across the UK) in late 2000. We met her at a church homegroup meeting and she immediately made the place feel more like it could be home for us.  She is flying back to the UK now, I drove her to the Amtrak station after she posed for this picture.

This evening J and T were over for dinner as we mark the end of our crazy little church.  Much like the way we met D, we met them (properly at least) at a church homegroup meeting when we had recently arrived here.  Now, we will move on as friends, but no longer as co-leaders of our church to see what the future holds for us and our families.  After five years it's a strange feeling, but we have gained much and learned much and shared much and will move on positively, not looking back and wondering about the what-ifs.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 5.277: Straw zombie attack!

We visited Delmar Farmers Market this morning. Although the temperature had been well below freezing when I went out for my run this morning (still short and slow), by mid-morning the bright sunshine had changed it to a very nice (if solidly autumnal) day.

The market is held at the middle school and outside it are a number of straw men.

This one was clearly an attacking zombie:


But fortunately, despite never having seen the Thriller video (as far as I know), Exile #3 knew that the way to ward off an attack of the undead is to engage them in a dance routine:


So we all escaped with our lives (and our wares)!

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