Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 5.356: Slip sliding into a new year

We celebrated the last day of 2012 with some sledding - and some slow-motion video!

Actually all three kids and I had a blast at the big sledding hill - we were there for over an hour and left tired, mildly bruised but very happy with our outing.

This evening, our friends J and T came over and we celebrated UK New Year at 7pm with the help of BBC Radio streaming on the Internet.

Then we did this:

which came out just about perfectly.  It's just about to turn midnight here, so I'll say Happy New Year and Goodnight!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 5.355: Snow surprises

The snow that fell yesterday and last night was looking rather beautiful as a brighter day dawned this morning.  It was doing its icing (frosting) imitations on the trees:

Growing up, I'd never seen snow looking like this except as icing dripped onto trees on a Christmas cake.

This afternoon, we went for a walk in the sun.  It seemed bright and calm.  We knew it was cold, but we were ready for that.  We set out all smiles on nicely cleared sidewalks:

Then we out of the shelter of houses and found out it was quite windy and the snow was drifting.  This is another (previously) nicely cleared sidewalk:

as is this:

So we took a shortcut back and ended up right in the path of the blowing snow:

And then, when we got home all was calm and bright and icing-y again!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 5.354: An unexpected visit

E5N1 was not unexpected when we dropped him off with friends for a few hours in the middle of the day.  We are very grateful that they were willing to have him over.

Our visit to the mall with the girls was not unexpected - we weren't shopping, we went to see The Hobbit movie in High Frame Rate 3D. For the record: I liked the film, mixed feelings about the HFR and I hate that I didn't love the HFR because the nonsense that low frame rates look 'better', 'more lifelike', 'less like TV' or whatever should be just that - nonsense.

The arrival of a snow storm while we were watching the movie was not unexpected - although it was on the heavier end of what we'd expected and it did make the drive to pick up E5N1 and get us all home more interesting than we might have chosen.

No, the unexpected visit came while I was shovelling the driveway after our safe arrival home.

A car came down the street, veered (slipped) onto the wrong side of the road and kept going finally side-swiping our snow bank at the end of the driveway and then driving on (back on the right side of the road).

Here's the evidence:

It came from the right.  All that snow in the road is the result of the knocked-down snow pile and you can see the tracks going back onto the correct (far) side of the road afterwards.

A good reminder to keep the kids away from the snow banks (and to take care if I ever get back on the roads to run again this winter!).

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 5.353: Snow day too!

We had a very nice day.  It involved some of this:

Exile #4 was keen to point out that her engineering was such that legs were straight (out in front - not straight down!)

And some of this:

before an outing to get an International Driving Permit (I'll be needing it soon) and a very nice visit to the technologically-challenged home of Albaniana and family.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 5.352: Nine, ten and eleven

It snowed - real amounts of snow (I would guess about 9 inches but I didn't do a good measurement) and it was the heavy kind!

But after the snow-clearance was done (a very neighbourly scene today - we were both helped and able to help), the kids set out to enjoy it. Exile #3 spent some time out in it, but Exile #4 was very pleased to have a co-conspirator in snow-fun today in the form of E5N1 who has been warming to the snow a little quicker winter by winter and seems to have immediately decided it is fun this year.

Here's the sledding:

And here's whatever this was:

We also watched a little Doctor Who (our family-TV-time) - catching the last of the Tenth Doctor's and the first of the Eleventh Doctor's episodes. Excellent stuff.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 5.351: Ventfort Hall

We visited Ventfort Hall in Lenox MA this morning.  It's a cottage in the Berkshires - which is to say a mansion built around the end of the 19th century.  The house - the summer home of a sister of JP Morgan has had a fascinating history - starting with the jacking and moving across the street of the home that stood on the site previously and including a brush with demolition (after a lot of damage) in 1997 just before its current owners acquired it.

It is now partially restored to its original splendour and serves as a museum to the Gilded Age - the era that gave rise to these mansions

At the moment the house is beautifully decorated for the holidays, there is also a large exhibit of era-relevant fashion dolls that the girls spent a very happy time admiring.  The staff are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and even though we opted to do a self-guided tour, three different staff members popped up at various times to let us know what we were looking at.

As I write, our first winter storm of the season is winding up, looks like tomorrow will be a snow day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 5.350: ...and a coating of snow

So, this was our Christmas Day...

Gifts and happy faces:

Slow-motion videos:

Family - we managed video calls with the kids' grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins which does not make up for not being with them, but was very nice indeed.

Food (including churkey dinner - i.e. chicken masquerading as turkey, Christmas pudding and brandy butter and a Christmas cake featuring Rudolf the Big-horned Snow Moose) and, of course home-made crackers with terrible jokes and compulsory hats:

All this, and yes - in the night - a coating of snow!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 5.349: Happy Christmas #6

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a walk at Five Rivers and a Carol Service at what is probably now after five visits in less than four weeks 'our new church'.

Bu the main responsibility of the day was making our Christmas video.  We went for a song - although not actually a Christmas song, it is seasonal.  I was surprised when looking back at our videos to find that it is four years since our last song (it was our first Christmas video - marking the first year we were actually here in the US for the holidays).  It was followed by the snowballing the camera video, the Advent calendar replay and the magic toy chest.

Anyway, Happy Christmas or whatever other holidays you might be celebrating around this time of year and, as ever, thanks for reading, watching, commenting and making it worthwhile for me to continue this crazy obsessive record of our life here!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 5.348: A happy traffic jam!

After our visit to the museum, we had some dinner at a packed El Loco, the colouring sheet that E5N1 was working on made me wonder how long before we can dissociate Mayans and the end of the world...

Dinner was good.  Only downsides for me were under-seasoned guacamole and expensive soda, but considering how amazingly full the place was, the service and food was (otherwise) great.

Anyway, it was just a precursor to our trip to the Capital Holiday Lights.  It was rather busier than our usual "Oh yes we should go - doesn't it end soon?" trips from recent years - so it was a long rolling traffic jam...

where gingerbread men tumbled over the cars:

polar bears roamed freely through the hills of Washington Park:

this non-animated display had Exile #3 suggesting that they should animate it by having the couple kiss and the snowflakes change to hearts!

but for some real romance, how about driving through the lights in a real horse-drawn carriage?

Well, someone did!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 5.347: An hour of travel in time and space

We were at the State Museum for the last hour of opening today. It was one of our most successful visits there. This is what we did.

We went to the moon.

E5N1 came eye-to-eye with a huge housefly:

I watched some Iroquois workers building a fence:

We dropped by Grand Central station:

and rode the subway:

We took a class:

and spied through the window at a fancy dining room.

I photographed an unusual winter-time hummingbird:

and we took a lesson in the history of firefighting:

So glad they're open on Saturdays again!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 5.346: DAY 5346

Although I see quite a few DAY registrations around, I rarely see one that makes a blog post date that could exist, and even rarer one close enough that I might remember to use it when it comes around.

I did one of these once before, but I don't recall when and my post naming convention makes searching for it rather difficult!

P.S. I wrote this post yesterday (the first time in ages I've scheduled a post ahead of time), it was nearly just as well because the power was off at home for most of the day (from about 11 am).  After predicting it would be fixed at 6 pm for much of the day, National Grid later changed the prediction to 5 pm tomorrow.  It was a very nice surprise when it came back on just after half-past nine this evening.  The house is now heating up to its programmed 62 °F (toasty huh?) from the 56 °F it had dipped to.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 5.345: Sketching and technology

It is a cliché that people use a napkin at dinner (or a bar, or a cocktail party) to make a great discovery, do an innovative design or exchange some world changing idea.

Just because it's a cliché doesn't mean it's not true.

However, today, two people at our dinner party were using a Samsung Galaxy Note (it's a giant smartphone or a tiny tablet depending on your point of view) with a stylus to do exactly what has been done with ballpoint pens on napkins for years!

I got home in time to see all my kids although E5N1 was very very sleepy.  Earlier in the evening he had done one of his (optional) homework assignments: write or draw something you look forward to doing over the holidays.  His answer was part sketch, part technology too:

It reads, "Play LEGO Star Wars with my Dad" and there we are with our Xbox controllers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 5.344: I need a lie-down

I'm exhausted. I've certainly been a little sick for the last two weeks - although nothing to what Exile #2 is coping with now. This week I have foreign visitors in town for work but, despite getting (as my Path timeline tells me) either 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night (except last Saturday), I am still getting more and more tired each night.

I am managing to keep up with my running (3 or 4 times a week) but I consider that a plus rather than a minus in this.  What I could really do with is a week off work.  Hang on...wait...really? Oh yes - it's true I have one of those coming up!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 5.343: Are you buying today?

That was E5N1's question to me when I told him I was leaving for work today.

The kids take a packed lunch to school. They pack them themselves the previous day. Except that once a week they are allowed to buy lunch (we send them with a check for $3 instead). This is popular for a variety of reasons - but mostly either the food or the not having to pack the lunch the previous day.

Anyway, when E5N1 (looking very nice in the shirt he'd chosen) asked me, I assumed he was checking up on whether I was exceeding my quota - perhaps because he'd seen me leaving without a packed lunch yesterday as well and I was a bit defensive.

It was only later I thought that he might have been looking out for me by saying, "Daddy, did you forget your lunch, or...?"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 5.342: There's a party going on

I have work visitors to entertain again this week. Quite a way to round off the year.  This will be made more complicated by the fact that on three of the five evenings they are here some significant proportion of my colleagues have work-related holiday parties.

Today, there was no party, so a colleague and I took our four guests, at their request, to La Fiesta (there's a joke in there somewhere). Sadly, my cell-phone over my head photo cut out almost all of my rather excellent tacos de carnitas.

One day down!