Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 2.141: Seats seven (sometimes)

This afternoon Exile #3 was feeling unwell (probably in the same way that I did yesterday judging by her enthusiasm for mealtimes). Hopefully she will bounce back quickly - I have been basically fine today.

This afternoon I was up at our former church gathering location (the founders' rented house) helping get the stuff that belongs to the church out and to various temporary locations until our new gathering space is ready. To do this I had to remove the seats from the 'van' - which did not go as smoothly as it has in the past for reasons I don't fully understand. Fortunately on this occasion the usually hopelessly optimistic phrase from the Haynes home-workshop manuals, "Refitting is the reverse of removal" (seriously - this basically says - "I've helped you dismantle your car - as for putting it back together - you're on your own!") was true and I was even inspired to make a little film for you!

While all the seats were out I did a major clean out - even including a long after-dark vacuum cleaning session. It's like fishing around down the back of the sofa but more so!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 2.140: A bit of carpentry

So today was the day I was supposed to have been working in Florida and instead was at home. Maybe it's just as well, I have been significantly off-colour - sleeping for the first half of the morning, only eating one meal and moving very slowly most of the day - although I did feel much better this afternoon.

You may be wondering who has been drilling a half-inch hole in the deck railing and why. I know I was. The answer is...this female carpenter bee.

I could actually hear her chewing away inside the burrow from the other side of the deck. Hopefully that means she had yet to lay her eggs and this will be the full extent of the damage.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 2.139: There, back again and...

E5N1 seemed so pleased with himself with his short hair and fancy jacket this morning. I thought he might be willing to pose and I was right - to an extent anyway.

Shortly after taking this I set out for the airport to get my 8.20 am flight. Everything went smoothly with picking up my boarding pass and getting through security. However instead of boarding the plane just after 8 am, they were calling in maintenance and in the end they cancelled the flight - because the plane's battery was flat.

Thanks to the random line shuffling that occurred after the announcement I ended up fourth in line to get my tickets rebooked. Still it seemed to take forever.

Right now I'm at home again with Exile #2, E5N1 and Exile #3, who is off school with an earache and visiting the doctor later. I leave for the second time in an hour or so. All being well, I will be in my destination late tonight, missing this evening's dinner, but in time for tomorrow's meeting. If things don't go so well I'll try and call a halt to this post before it publishes itself this evening and give you a more up to date travel report.

P.S. This is how it went down. I arrived at the airport in good time for my rescheduled flight. Only a few minutes late we all boarded the small and very full plane. Our departure was nearly derailed by a man in an exit row who didn't speak English, but that was dealt with and we had the safety demo, started the engines and then the flight deck announced that they couldn't take off due to storms in the NY metro area. We all got off the plane again, waited an hour and were then told that the flight would not be leaving for ANOTHER hour and a half. Of all the connecting flights people had, only one would be leaving late enough. It wasn't mine. I came home having secured refunds (I hope) for the flights and the hotel. So much for that!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 2.138: Upgrades

Since I wrote so much yesterday, I'll keep it to three little vignettes from my day today:

1) E5N1's haircut (before and after):

2) Exile #4 realises that truth is fluid:
Exile #2 (in next room): Can you get your lunch box out of the fridge please?
Exile #4: Of course - I'm near!
Exile #2 (mishearing): Oh you're already doing it, good job!
Exile #4: (muttering)No...I'm...(cogs whir - how to explain? - moves towards fridge)...I...(light goes on - literally and metaphorically!)...Yes - I'm doing it!
Exile #2: Great!

3) An unexpected email:
A Facebook application that gives you a virtual fish-tank on your page that friends can fill with fish announces a slight change of direction:

"My Aquarium's name and functionality will be changed next week to SpeedDate."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 2.137: Collision!

Thanks to Google Reader I find that I can keep up with quite a few blogs without wasting too much time doing it. If you enjoy blogs and haven't tried Reader yet, I recommend it highly.

Some of the blogs I read are by people I know - local friends, the teachers at the school and friends further afield (please let me know if you think I'm missing yours!). Others are on topics that interest me, project management, software development (let's call them techie blogs) and people who are struggling with and through the same church and faith issues that I and our church are facing (let's call them theology blogs). A couple of the blogs I read might feature on two of these lists - friends who have techie or theology blogs.

A day or two ago I read a post on one of the theology blogs - a link to and comment on a blog I don't know. The post I read was good and got me thinking, but I did not bother to click through to the original post. Today, one of the techie blogs had a similar post linking to the same article. That's not something that happens very often. By the way, my additional comment to those is that people who say 'no' are not also doing well by themselves and their real priorities, but also often by the rejected requester as well - as a leader of responsibility takers, it is much easier to ask someone who I know has the confidence to say 'no' than one who will say 'yes' whether they have the time and energy to devote to the task or not.

What's really odd is that it happened again later today when this theology blog post referenced something that the School Principal's blog had referred to some time ago. I really must get round to watching the second half of that video clip!

The picture is from one of the whole-family activities we managed as part of our self-enforced quarantine over the long weekends. E5N1 has finally given up on instantly destroying whatever we put together, so we managed to play with a train layout and a Lego world the girls built to go with it for quite a while.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 2.136: Back to normal?

Exile #3 spent the whole weekend dressed in this magnificent costume. She received it (with an accompanying full-length apron) with some other hand-me-down clothes from a school friend so we don't know who created it or for what occasion. I thought she looked fantastic in any case - and she's quite good at posing for a photo these days.

Today she was dressed more 'culture-normal' and back at school with Exile #4, I was back at work and E5N1 has been being naughty again - normal is mostly a good thing!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 2.135: Cloudy thinking

To the one* of my faithful readers who noticed the little mouse-over 'Easter Egg' that I left yesterday (you know who you are) I apologise, but I'm too pleased with it to leave it our little secret. Go on the rest of you mouse-over the cakes!

That done, I come to today's media excitement. A slideshow picture story!

We had a stay-at-home day again today - not even making it to the parade, but we've had a fair amount of fun and relaxation, so we'll count it as a good holiday and just hope that E5N1's recovery is a bit more straightforward from here on - if not he'll be visiting the doctor tomorrow I expect.

* A complete guess - maybe you all noticed?!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 2.134: You can't make a cake...

Exile #2 managed to fit in making a dozen rather attractive cupcakes this afternoon for a charity bake-sale at the Memorial Day Parade tomorrow. I don't know where she gets her inspiration - do you?

The rest of the day has been quiet as predicted. We managed to get a prescription for E5N1 even though it was the Sunday of the holiday weekend which was a pleasant surprise. Other than that, Exile #2 did some gardening, the girls ran off to play with a neighbour for a while and I took a few photos and found out that my cheapest and oldest lens has a faulty aperture mechanism - so we all had some 'me'-time. Even E5N1, although he slept for a lot of the morning, managed to cheer up significantly this afternoon and sang along with gusto with an episode of his favourite show Hi-5.

Day 2.134a: ...without breaking eggs

At some point Exile #3 was excited to discover this egg-shell. I suspect it's an American Robin egg, but whether it was consumed or hatched I don't know.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 2.133: E is for E5N1...

Unfortunately, after our late night yesterday we had disrupted sleep thanks to this little one throwing-up in his bed. He seemed out of sorts all morning, but better after a long sleep at lunchtime (instead of eating lunch). Meanwhile I took the girls out and we all got haircuts. Afterwards we picked up some slightly-too-long pieces of trellis for Exile #2's current gardening project - hence the off-cuts.

Alas, we just had another 'incident' from E5N1, so I guess we'll not be getting out much over the rest of the Memorial Day weekend either.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 2.132: Rocking all night

With only a few of us at Rock Band tonight we worked hard - causing several muscle strains and a least one blister. We had a lot of fun though.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 2.131: The Missing Princess

Today's guest blogger is Exile #4. Take it away!


We went to school and saw various items of the girls' work. We had been warned about the surprise ending in this one. I hope you like it as much as she does!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 2.130: Spot the differences

Someone brought a calendar into work with a spot-the-differences puzzle for every day of the year. I thought I would rise to the challenge of creating one. I spent all of about 20 minutes on it, so it's not spectacularly good.

Anyway, here is E5N1 helping Exile #3 get ready for the bus this morning. Can you spot the nine differences? Comment your answers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 2.129: Skinny-ribs

A few weeks ago someone commented that E5N1 was out of diapers. No - he has on a diaper, but there's nothing much inside. He has no bottom at all. These nice long shorts are actually 3-6 month trousers. Yes they are really designed for a 3 to 6 month old baby. He's now 25 months old. Admittedly they are a little shorter than intended, but they are amongst the few pairs of trousers he have that will stay up without a belt. Even with these we have to pull the tie-string tight to keep them up.

Yesterday he was at school flirting with his middle-school girlfriends (13 or 14 years old) - insisting on being picked up so that he could give them big squeezy hugs. Today he went with Exile #2 to Exile #4's field-trip to a nearby playground and spent much of the time tearing around with the 4/5 year-old boys from her class while they 'went crazy' as Exile #2 put it. He's certainly a very different creature than his sisters.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 2.128: Bird trouble

For a couple of weeks I've been trying to get a decent picture of a male American Goldfinch - this is the best yet by quite a margin. Unfortunately these two males were hanging around in the now rather leafy tree near the bird feeder and showing no interest in coming out into the open to be photographed.

It turns out that they were waiting for a woman to feed them. Eventually a female visited the feeder, took some food, chased one of the males off and fed the seed she'd picked up to the other one. I've no idea if this is well-known Goldfinch behaviour - if not, you read it here first!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 2.127: Finger safety

This was on display at Build-a-Bear yesterday. It suggests that it's possible to get your finger caught in a folding deckchair. Who knew?

On a side note, I suppose they do not take any responsibility for advertently caught fingers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 2.126: Blow wind, blow!

This morning Exile #3 made Exile #4 a kite by tying a petal to the end of a ribbon. Not surprisingly, it was not a great success when it came to flying it, but it reminded Exile #2 of the tiny kites we had somewhere and soon Exile #4 was flying one with gusto in the gusty wind. Sorry.

This afternoon, I took Exile #3 to the mall for a birthday party while the other 3/5 went to a different birthday party. Ours finished at the Build-a-Bear Workshop - something of a local institution (i.e. we've done well to avoid a visit until now) - where Exile #3 picked, named, stuffed and dressed a bunny now named Honey. Honey Bunny. Her friend called her bunny, Suckle. Bunny Suckle. Kids!

Here is the finished article.

And here is a video of how she came to be (watch out for the fluff-refilling and astonishingly speedy stitch-up at the end):

Considering I spent the afternoon in the company of twelve six-ish year-old girls, it was surprisingly OK!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 2.125: Convoi Exceptionnel

I came home in time for us all to eat together and then we decided to make the most of the lovely evening to walk to the library. Well, I say walk, only Exile #2 and I did any significant amount of walking as you can see. Fortunately there was room in the wagon for Exile #4, E5N1 and a large bag full of books on the way home.

First however we had another visit to make - to the playground next door where they all had fun and (unusually) company too. Exile #2 had a conversation about transatlantic childbirth with a very pregnant Mom of a 3 year old who taught the girls the basics of baseball using a stick and an imaginary ball, but a real diamond to play on.

Exile #3 surprised us all - especially herself I think - by mastering the monkey-bars and E5N1 found boy heaven in the well-stocked sandbox - well stocked for trucks that is, not so much on the sand front.

By the time we were walking the last stretch on the way home it was nearly 9 o'clock and getting rather dark. The kids all went straight to bed. To be honest I could probably have happily done the same!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 2.124: Motherly love?

I spent part of the evening (that spent not watching the rather good 'Season Finale' of Lost) looking for nice pictures of Exile #2 with one or more of the kids for a contest on Flickr. In the end I ended up looking at pictures of her dropping things on E5N1. Actually she doesn't appear, but she was up a ladder dropping things on him. Yes really. You can see what she was dropping towards the end.

Here's the video:

He didn't seem to mind in any case!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 2.123: Classy call: emu sick

It's been a while since I took my camera out at waiting-for-the-bus time. This morning we had time, inclination and early-morning sunshine. I liked the results.

Thanks to locals for putting me out of my misery with Day 2.119's puzzle. If you want a last chance to solve it - go ahead I can wait.

Yes really - click on the link and read the post title out loud. Or have the Odiogo man do it for you! If you still can't get it - ask Sir Guy or locals to explain it to you.

It turns out that a trip with her class to hear Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf performed live has had a profound effect on Exile #3. Not only is she ever-so impressed with her French Horn owning father, but also is now listening to classical music on her bedside radio. I can't say whether her wistful looks are related though. I think she had a good line in those already.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 2.122: Right to wander

I caught a glimpse of this sign as we approached Dyken Pond on Sunday - as you can see we were still on metalled roads at this point. I was more than a little curious as to what the "Right to Farm Law" that we obviously needed to warned about could be. It turns out that we were not being warned so much as warned-off. "No coming here with your suburban sensibilities, buying up a slice of countryside and then complaining about the noise and smell of your neighbors' farming!" or words to that effect.

We had no such ambitions. I wanted to do this:

and wander amongst the witch-hobble. And Exile #3 wanted to do much the same:

She's starting to develop quite a good eye for a photo as well as a sense of humour.

Today was much less entertaining and ended with a very annoying American Idol show. The judges tried to select their favourites to be in the final next week by manipulating the viewing and voting public and ignoring the actual quality of the performances. I'm hoping to see Kris in the final. Danny was great from the start but has never really developed. Adam was fairly painful to start with, got surprisingly and pleasingly good but his 'unpredictability' getting a bit predictable. I'd be content to see either of them go now. Kris seems to pull a surprise out every week and I have liked him a little more each week. Come on America - don't be steam-rollered!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 2.121: Hike 'n' pond

It's a rather nice view - that's for sure. This was our destination on Sunday morning for a Mother's Day walk. Getting there was quite an adventure. If only we'd read the advice on their website:
Dyken Pond Road is a dirt road. Don't get discouraged. We're at the end of the road!

we might not have been so distressed by the two and a half miles of storm-damaged dirt track we had to use to get there.

When we did arrive, the advice on which trail to take was a bit more straightforward:

We did as we were told and found not only the view above, but some stumps to sit on nearby.

As is so often the way with these places, most of the trails are nowhere near the water that give the place its name. I think we will go back and explore in the opposite direction. Assuming the suspension shows no ill-effects from this trip that is.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 2.120: Mommy's Day

It was Mothers' Day here today - unlike the UK, there is no historical Mothering Sunday to attach this celebration of Moms to here. The girls were very keen on the whole thing. During a brief outing yesterday we managed to arrange breakfast and lunch that we could prepare for her (we were already planning to be with our church friends for dinner this evening anyway). Here is breakfast and the menu that Exile #3 wrote for her 'Mommy'. You can play match-the-muffin!

All in all we had a very nice day including a short walk at a new trail location (more on that another day) and Exile #2 certainly did less work than usual, especially in the kitchen. We didn't quite achieve our stated aim of preventing her from doing anything for us, but at least we tried.