Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 2.080: Hang in there!

As of bedtime today all of us were more-or-less healthy. Now if we can just keep it together for two more days...

As if illness wasn't enough, work is a bit crazy at the moment too. At least the trip planning seems to be coming together (the essential parts of it at least).

This photo was taken on Saturday after the wedding. Exile #3's going backwards. In the picture that is.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 2.079: Ready? Steady!

On Sunday morning, Exile #3 decided to go out and play in the rain. E5N1 was keen to join her. This was his idea of being ready - pyjamas, wellies and a pumpkin hat.

'Steady!' may be a suitable term to use to prevent your son running out of the house in the rain dressed like this, but it is not the second thing to say when starting a kids' running race here. This is one of those phrases that we sometimes translate into US English for the kids and sometimes don't (for the children).

However, we have a way to go before we can hope to speak like true Americans. Consider this document I was sent at work explaining a change in the already completely incomprehensible rules about medical insurance as exhibit A. It was a reminder that I am eligible to change my 'elections' on certain 'qualifying events' and informing me of some new cases. However, it was one of the old ones that caught my eye:
Acquiring a spouse through marriage.

Really? You couldn't think of a better way to put it?

Incidentally, we did let E5N1 go out dressed like that - with one significant addition:

And a good splashy rainy time was had by all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 2.078: Deli art: 'Trailed?'

or... No! he (E5N1)'s still ill - it's sin see hon'?

Not all reflections are perfect you know - sometimes they can fool the eye completely.

Alas, there is truth in my ramblings, although this afternoon E5N1 actually managed to eat something and then go to bed reasonably happily. He's now seemingly been overtaken by both his parents in the off-colour stakes. Hopefully we can hold it together and avoid any more family members succumbing to the dreaded lurgy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 2.077: A day of three halves

Soon after I posted last night, we were disturbed by E5N1 throwing up in his cot. He seemed quite ill for a while, but then settled down fine. We were relieved to discover that he seemed fine this morning. It was warm and sunny, so we spent the morning enjoying it and recovering from our disrupted night.

Unfortunately, at lunchtime he proved that he has indeed got a stomach bug of some sort. Enough said.

So we parted ways this afternoon. I took the girls to the first wedding in our little church community where we all had a good time.

And Exile #2 stayed at home with E5N1 who, when he woke from his nap, got to grips with the debasemented bouncer.

Now we wait to see how quickly he recovers - and whether anyone else comes down with it. So much for trip planning and packing today!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 2.076: Center of attention

Our little US citizen certainly doesn't mind being the center (or the centre) of attention. Today at school to see the girls perform in their assembly, he moved on from his gotta-catch-'em-all approach to high-fiving to the fist-bump thanks to some training from his middle-school girlfriends.

We have a weekend of preparations for a trip the UK ahead. We're looking forward to seeing friends and family (we've only contacted a few so far) but not so much looking forward to the travelling.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 2.075: Face to face

Way back on Day 245, I told you about being in this situation face-to-face with a truck apparently either driving or parked on the wrong side of the road.

The reality is less exciting (as you can see if you click or mouse-over).

Exile #2 had her last reading lesson today. If she graduated, she'll maybe read this blog entry and let us know - I didn't have the chance to discuss it with her as I have been out with colleagues eating and drinking beer. Sometimes work just overflows into the evening, but we have to take these bitter pills* from time to time.

*I should probably say 'IPA pills' or maybe 'pils'.

Day 2.074: Graduation Day

The school-bus pick-up is quite an event every morning. Sometimes it's the rush to get Exile #3 out there in time. Sometimes it's the stress over trying to get the tangles out of her hair. Sometimes it's all three kids playing happily on the driveway, or in the snow. Sometimes it's just trying to stay alive in the bitter cold.

This morning, E5N1 was banging on the window with a toy otoscope - normally everything looks like a drum to him - appropriate enough in this case I suppose. Exile #3 was still pulling faces at him when the bus arrived. As she was getting on Exile #4 arrived at high speed to say hello to the bus driver before she closed the doors and let the traffic get moving again.

Both the girls graduated from their skating classes today with instructions to sign up for the next level next time. However, the rink will be closed down soon for the summer, so that will have to wait for a while.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 2.073: Falling-down, tired

It's amazing what you find lying around on the trails in the Spring. Someone had left this life-sized rag-doll just dangling over the edge of the bridge as if waiting forlornly for some long-lost Pooh-stick to emerge.

Also surprising how tiring a short walk can be - especially if you were being carried for most of it.

Right now, I have a pretty good idea how he was feeling.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 2.072: Storm damage

Although we didn't get far along the trail yesterday, we did pass a couple of casualties of the winter. Within a few yards of each other there were two large trees down that had recently been cleared from the trail - by the looks of it they had fallen down in opposite directions from opposite sides of the trail, both blocking it. It looked quite sappy.

Wind damage (as well as the Wizard of Oz) has also been on Exile #4's mind - here is a 'wind rhyme' she composed at school:

Wind blows
King blows
Lynne goes.
After the King
A twister! It was big.
We love to play Dorothy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 2.071: Snow - from the midday sun?

We were snowed-on today - it was quite unexpected as the weather was otherwise bright and often sunny - albeit quite chilly. I don't know if it snowed down here, but we were up on high ground at Thacher Park with a colleague visiting from the UK. Here we are at the sight of previous watery antics. Today, we satisfied ourselves with standing near the stream.

Although this point is often near the beginning of our walks here, today it was as far as we got due to the walk up the trail to this point had been made more interesting than usual by the significant amounts of snow underfoot and our inappropriate footwear. Our visitor seemed to survive the considerable chaos we inflicted on him today - in any case it wouldn't have been right for him to visit Upstate NY in March and not get snowed on.

It's pop pun 98 for title watchers - not that he is staying here, he'll be going back next week. As for us: we come from the land.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 2.070: In Valatie 'n' airy

At lunchtime today I took Exile #3 to a birthday party in the wonderfully named Valatie, NY. It's pronounced Val-ay-sha. Meanwhile Exile #4 had a friend over for a play-date. When we got home both Exile #3 and Exile #4 dashed off to play at our next-to-next-door neighbors' house. When they got back we blew bubbles (including some large ones with a fairly successful home-made wand). It's been quite a busy day.

Here is a moving moment from the birthday party.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 2.069: Show-off

We were at school at 8.30 this morning for a student-led parent conference (or something like that). Basically it meant that Exile #3 got to show off some of her work to us in a private showing in her class-room. She showed us a lot of her work - including testing Euler's formula and writing about spider's oily feet (there was the potential for a pun in there somewhere if you know that Euler is pronounced 'oiler'). I also asked her to show me this pop-up book the class made following their research of what various people do for their jobs since I had missed it earlier in the year. This is her own page about police officers.

While we were doing this, Exile #3's teacher was supervising E5N1 (not part of her job description - but they seemed to have fun). Exile #4 had a normal school day, but the rest of school was closed for the conferences, so Exile #3 managed to fit in a haircut and a play-date. When I got home from work she showed off her new look:
I think she's had a pretty good day all-round.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 2.068: Gull, the mighty

Junk! I really wanted to post a picture of a gull we watched floating downstream on one of the remaining blocks of ice during this walk a couple of weeks ago, but they didn't come out well enough, so this will have to do.

Exile #2 went into Exile #3's class today to sing some songs. It seems to have gone quite well (a roaring success even) and everyone was left singing this one - pop pun 97 for title watchers. "I know!" says Exile #2 "Hush my darling!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 2.067: The journey continues

It turns out that I still have some everyday language to learn, and so do our US colleagues. At lunch today, the conversation touched on the correct pronunciation for what happens when your car is cleaned inside and out when it goes to the dealership for repairs. In the light of filet (Fil-'A') and the like, was quite interested to know how Americans cope with the val-ay'd vs valettid question. Interestingly, it turns out that around here it is pronounced 'detailed'.

Another US colleague was confused when he thought that one of my UK-expat colleagues was threatening to take a visitor from the UK to work naked and show him where to get coffee and so on. Actually, his plan was to ply him with coffee fully clothed, but while rather over-tired from his flight over the Atlantic. I can only assume that old horses have a long and happy retirement over here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 2.066: Over the top?

I took this picture at the Kidz Expo a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure if E5N1 is yawning or surprised. It was the closest I could come to to the extreme levels of bad-taste I am about to relate.

Back in October, I enjoyed sharing the joys of the Christmas catalogue from Oriental Trading. Well, now it's Easter and they have outdone themselves with their "Inspirations: A Celebration of Faith" catalogue.

From the unfortunate - even when really carefully punctuated - it doesn't-mean-that-in-British-English of:
"Smile! Jesus Loves You!" Suckers.
to the meaningless tie ins, including the
"Jesus Lights The Way" Flashing Bouncing Balls
"Catch The Spirit" Flying Stars.

From the 'I think you missed the point' of Lamb cuddly-toys wearing "Lamb of God" T-shirts to the frankly disturbing Jesus Child Costume (with optional 'Biblical Brown' child wig and beard and/or 'Child Crown of Thorns'). Who thought this stuff was a good idea?

But I think my favourite of the day is the wonderful incongruity of:
"Smile! Jesus Loves You!" Bookmarks With Wiggle Eyes.
Father Easter says buy, buy, buy (and let's see those eyes wiggle).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 2.065: How did that happen?

For some reason, when I took the three kids to the park on Saturday morning, they decided to spend about half the time playing in the mud.

Exile #3 tried to persuade me it was sand - because she knows that it was the sandbox (sand-pit) - however simple observation was not on her side. No matter, they had a good time and - mostly - so did I. E5N1 got over the shock of having dirty hands quite quickly and got on with pretending to eat the 'cakes' that his sisters were making. They were mud-pies of course, but in this twilight season between fresh snow and fresh sand, they're making do with what they can find.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 2.064: The 80th day of Christmas

On the 80th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...a hand to get the Christmas lights down from the front of the house.

With the sun shining, the snow gone, the ground only soft rather than marsh-like, we decided to take the Christmas lights down. I was very careful with the ladder climbing - it is the Ides of March after all.

It was really nice to be outside today - especially this afternoon.

The girls were very excited to wear their matching dresses. Exile #4 has only just got tall enough for hers - but at bedtime tonight she asked Exile #2 to wash it so she can wear it again. "Tomorrow?" "Hmmm - maybe the next day!"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 2.063: Rivers engineering

Just over a year ago - I took this picture at Five Rivers. Of course, since you are all such faithful readers, you remember it well!

We didn't try too hard to recreate it - but I did take a picture at the same spot during our walk there today.

E5N1 walked the first two thirds of our circuit. We eventually persuaded him into the backpack after a long pause while I photographed a muskrat who repeatedly appeared out of a hole in the ice near the middle of the pond. Here are a couple of the pictures I took.

We suspect we saw one there once before during a twilight walk - we've also seen its much larger cousin at the same spot

Day 2.062: Different vehicles

I'm tired after a hard-rocking evening, but I wanted to reflect on one of my other online lives (second, third and fourth life?) at the online photographic club known as flickr. I find that for the most part the pictures I post here don't go there and vice-versa.

Here the pictures accompany a story. There they are expected for the most part to tell their own. Here they have a job to do, there they have to stand around and look pretty. I'm sure not everyone would approach the dichotomy the same way I do, but it works for me for now. Feel free to drop in on my photostream and add me as a contact if you flickr and want to keep track of what I upload there.

Also, if you are in need of some inspiration for your photographic efforts, check out Olivia Bee - one of the many wonderful photographers who hang out there and - at 14 years old - something of a flickr-ing wunderkind.

(This was this morning by the way.)
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 2.061: Road-trip rest-o-rants

I've been going through some of my recent pictures. Here are a couple from the trip back from the Washington D.C. area last week.

We didn't actually eat at this McDonald's - we stopped at for a 'rest' (they have a special room for that) and a cup of coffee. It had quite possibly the worst topiary ever outside - marvel how they made this shrub look exactly like three amorphous blobs on sticks.

And here's somewhere we did eat (and it was not bad at all in fact). It's fast food Monday 'thru' Saturday, but closed on Sunday. And although I have trouble pronouncing 'filet' in the local way, this place makes it easy to speak like a true 'merican. Chick-fil-A!

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