Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 4.263: Doggy bag

While the rest of us were preparing to be poked and prodded on behalf of the American government yesterday, I dropped-off our little American citizen to play at some friends of ours. He took his box of Wedgits in his hand and a few cars in his backpack.

Later, after I got home from work, I was asking him about whether he'd a good time and what he'd done. He gave me some predictable headlines: played, ate, drank, watched TV... Fair enough. Then the conversation turned to pick-up time. Exile #2 told me he was eating when she arrived to collect him. "He brought a couple of pretzels with him when we left."

"You brought a doggy-bag from a play-date?!" I scoffed.

"Not a doggy-bag - an Ernie-bag!" he replied without missing a beat.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 4.262: Healthy enough?

This morning we had our physical examinations - the last step in a process to get a federally-approved doctor to approve our application for 'green cards' so that we can, hopefully, eventually, be free from the cycle of visa renewals and the spectre of being thrown out of the country at short notice.

The rest of the application is also coming together - including a new set of attractively cheerful photographs.

One of my colleagues pointed out that we are going through the successor of the immigration formalities at Ellis Island a hundred years ago. Of course in those days, the process took between two and five hours. Let's just say it's a bit slower than that these days (we started the process in October - and ours is going quickly!)  However, many things are the same. The main aims being to ensure we have money (by landing a medical bill for $2500 on us and seeing if we flinch) and do not have any communicable diseases (syphilis and TB seem to be top of the list these days).

It could be argued that if we had any of these diseases we would have been a threat to the fabric of American society for the last four and half years too - but what place does logic have in these processes?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 4.261: Face(book) timeline

This post should really be called "Facebook timeline" but that kind of formatting is not really title-friendly.

Anyway, this is not about new Facebook interfaces however cool or not they may turn out to be.  This is about ME!

I found these today and was shocked to realise that I'm not sure what order they belong in.  So, what do you think - can you put them in order from oldest to most recent?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 4.260: I can read colours...

Exile #2 helped E5N1 make this this afternoon.  She printed the pattern and cut it out.  E5N1 coloured it, stuck it on the construction paper and then cut that out.

I asked him how he chose the colours.  "It says which ones to use!".  Oh, so you can read now? "Yes. Well, I can read colours!"

He also commented on the "Purple" vs "Indigo/Violet" issue apparently.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 4.259: Pretend you're my mommy...

File this under family life is strange.

The other day, Exile #2 busy in the kitchen, E5N1 sitting at the kitchen table involved in a craft project:
E5N1:    Pretend you're my mommy!
Exile #2:    What?
E5N1:    Pretend you're my mommy!
Exile #2:    errr...
E5N1:    Pretend you're my mommy!
Exile #2:    But I am your mommy!
E5N1:    No...pretend you're my mommy!
 Don't try to be something you're not...but it's OK to pretend to be something you are.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 4.258: Roller disco dreams

If you like that kind of thing, you can find the soundtrack for this post here.

The last time I had a pair of roller-skates on was as a teenager at the roller disco. It took place in a wooden-floored gym at the local leisure centre.  It was all about spending time with girls, but as far as I recall I did manage to stay upright on eight small wheels. As I discovered when I stood up having laced my skates at Guptill's Arena this afternoon - that was quite some time ago.

I did eventually manage to reacquire some of my old skills. Both the girls were quickly quite competent and Exile #4 in particular had a fantastic time - she's been practicing around the house for at least a year, but this was her first chance to let loose.  Exile #2 kindly spent much of her time holding a very wobbly first-time-on-wheels E5N1 up. It did mean we never really found out what she was capable of!

The arena is great. It was a lot busier than my long-exposure makes it look in the wide shot above, but definitely comfortably so. E5N1 referred to it as a party because of the music and lights. It was certainly a fun way to spend an hour or more this afternoon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 4.257: Apples, sauce

We had a fun trip to Indian Ladder Farms this morning.  Apple picking was our main aim - and we were not short of opportunities.  We picked four different varieties.  Exile #4 - sporting her new t-shirt - preferred the softer-fleshed Macintosh for their wobbly-teeth friendliness, but everyone else plumped for the crunchier varieties - Empire, Macoun and Jonagold.

It was very warm, humid and buggy in the orchard.  Somehow that did not feel right we felt that we should have been wrapped up in warm sweaters and craving hot chocolate or hot cider.  There will be time for a more autumnal apple picking trip in a few weeks time I suspect.

Afterwards we visited the farm itself where the girls fed the animals and E5N1 played on the playground, at one point engaging another boy in 'repairing' the ancient tractor which is half-submerged in the sand-box.

We left with a large bag of apples along with a small bag of cider donuts and some (cold) cider which we sampled at lunchtime.  Some hot weather may still be with us, but fall has arrived.

P.S. Did you spot the impostor shot in the top collage?  No, there's just one of them!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 4.256: Test result 50%

A few days ago, a colleague - who is a keen runner and training for a marathon at the moment - suggested I might take a day out of my 10K training programme to run a 5K race.

The race was the Watervliet Arsenal City Run. We ran it this evening (with another colleague and about three hundred other people). He took approximately two thirds of the time that I did but we were both happy with our times.

The threatened rain was coming down quite hard as I finished and may or may not have dampened the after-race festivities. I don't know as I decided to leave hot, sweaty, rained-on and happy to get home in time to say goodnight to the kids and eat sushi with Exile #2.  Not a bad way to end the work week.

Day 4.255: Stability enhancement

After managing to find imaginative ways to get by without one for a couple of years, I finally bought an inexpensive tripod for my DSLR. It's light, has a little bag and seems quite stable. So far so all I need is an excuse to use it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 4.254: Vulture stalks boy

Here's a vulture circling over E5N1 at The Crossings on Sunday.

Fortunately, he looked quite lively, so nothing like this ensued:


You know it's the classic story we know so well (3:28).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 4.253: Climbing the stairs

This was the kids' creation that they demanded I photograph when I got home from work yesterday. It's an impressive engineering feat, if a little impractical.

And with that, I've had a couple of rough nights' sleep recently so it's time to climb into bed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 4.252: I never meant to run...

When I visited the doctor for my 'well visit' in July I was, if I'm honest hoping for some credit for my efforts in losing some weight.  I didn't get any.  Instead I received some 'encouragement' to find a way to get some more exercise.

So, to my active but rarely cardiovascularly-taxing lifestyle I started to add some intentional exercise.

Then came our trip to the UK.  I didn't have access to much in the way of options but I was determined to keep something up, so I took my rather sad old running shoes:

and attempted some running.  As I expected, it was terrible but I kept at it, only missing a couple of days over the first week.  By the time we found ourselves in Oxfordshire, it was starting to make a bit more sense and I realised I was running more than two miles before breakfast - and even quite enjoying it.

I haven't stopped (I don't mean in a Forrest Gump sort of way, I just have been continuing to go for regular runs).  I did upgrade my footwear a bit though and started following a training plan.

Today, I registered to run a 10K.  I'm not quite sure how any of this happened, but thanks for letting me see if it made sense in the telling.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 4.251: Cycle Crossings

 After a swim this morning, we rode the wave of our active Sunday by visiting The Crossings (scene of our recent kite-flying triumph) to get some cycling in on our way to church.

E5N1 was on three wheels and the girls on two (each), both enjoying recently acquired/mastered skills.

After a while, E5N1 tired of pedaling up the hills and I pulled him up a couple, enjoying the relief of letting him go (at speed) down the other side.

Of course, sometimes the down-the-other-side contains a road and a stop sign.

Exile #2 was understandably a little concerned when she saw this, but I had spotted the slight upward incline before the intersection and my gamble turned out to be correct:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 4.250: Exile #3 and the bottle top flowers

Exile #3 has an affinity with bottle caps. She has been claiming the lids from my bottles of beer for some time and squirreling them away in a collection.  She told me today that she has 120 - surpassing her original target of 100.

Not that I drink a lot of beer.

She and I spent a large chunk of the day at Five Rivers for the Fall Festival.  She volunteered to help and was assigned to a craft station making paper flowers with bottle-top centres.  She turned out to have an affinity not just with the bottle tops, but with engaging, demonstrating, assisting and encouraging kids both younger and older than herself to do this lovely project.

I was very proud of her.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 4.249: In the car park

It's obvious to me that a place designed for the parking of cars is called a car park. I can see that there is very little actual logic though. After all a water park is not a place to park water, nor is a dog park...well not in the same way anyway.

Anyway, this is not a post about language, but about UK parking. Firstly a test...what is remarkable about this parking situation:

Go ahead, have a look (no not at the disguised plates), anything else?

Did you notice now?


Of course you did, it's that these modestly sized cars are far enough apart to open the doors.

This is not the normal situation in the UK. This is special "comfort parking":

And elsewhere are special spaces where you can park to charge up your electric car - using solar electricity:

Pretty cool - but how it works with the whole British-weather thing is another matter.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 4.248: Schooled!

It was back to school today - for me!

The school open house is a chance to meet the teachers (very briefly), learn about discipline and homework and other useful stuff directly from them and to sign up for a parent/teacher conference later in the year.

There's also some work to see:

A chance to sit a very small desk and work to do. In Exile #3's case I had to find her desk from her favourite things and her self-portrait.

In Exile #4's classroom I had a scavenger hunt to find a red heart with some of her favourite things and her birthday cupcake. I was mystified, but eventually found a paper cupcake cut-out on the wall with her name and birth-month! I also had to write notes to both of them. Pressure! Imagine being forced to write something on cue...oh yes I do that to myself every day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 4.247: Who is Exile #4?

This week's homework is to decorate her journal for the year. It's meant to in some way represent her. She had nearly finished by the time I got home from work tonight but she just needed some photos to finish it off.

So we called up the pictures of her from the last year - and this is what she chose:

Yes, that does seem like a reasonable summary!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 4.246: Her colorful life

Exile #2 has put together this frame with Exile #3's art work from last year. They are all from school apart from the self-portrait.

I don't know how it relates to the rest of her life, but her art has certainly taken a colourful turn - or as I'm sure she would spell it, "colorful."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 4.245: Local building projects affected by flooding

I saw one of my colleagues for the first time since Irene's visit to the area today. His house had two feet of water through the ground floor and he's lost a huge amount, so I'm aware that the situation is no laughing matter. I still couldn't resist this!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 4.244: Ladder may be wet after rain

This morning we had a fairly exciting traversal of the Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher Park.

There was plenty of water coming over the waterfalls - especially the second (more northerly) one where we got rather wet despite avoiding as much water as we could. It was also refreshingly bug-free compared with earlier visits.

Also pictured: Exile #3 finding her newly acquired height has its disadvantages and the kids on a rock that E5N1 pointed out looks like a shark's head.

Afterwards, we saw the stream that forms that second waterfall at the top of the cliffs. High waters (presumably following Irene's visit to the area) had washed out the bridge. You can see where the bridge should go to the right of the main picture below, with the view of the drop-off and the re-wedged bridge below.

There was more water damage in evidence near the Paint Mine parking lot. The trails behind where we have often walked before are completely closed presumably also to do with the effect of the recent rains.

It was a fitting reminder of the excitement we missed during our UK visit.


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