Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 5.021: Face up

E5N1 is the baby of the family but of course he is no baby. He's older now than Exile #3 was when she first gained that name.

He's back to drawing on the computer at the moment.  Generally when I set it up for him I check the pen/tablet is working OK by writing or drawing something.  On Sunday night I drew a face and when I handed the pen over to him, E5N1 said that he was going to draw faces too.

I sat down nearby and read a bit of my book.  When he called me over - this is what he'd drawn.

So good.  So I saved it, but he said he wasn't finished.

Here is the finished article, along with a couple of other ones he did.  He explained that the bottom left one has sticky-up ears on top of his head and that the bottom right one has smooth hair and is saying something (hence the gaping mouth).

Incidentally, he seems entirely well again and so far everyone else is OK.  Hope I didn't speak too soon!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 5.020: Soccer football

E5N1 was keen to play after we got back to the car from his tricycle ride on Saturday. He said, "Let's get the football out and kick it!"

So we did.

Later, he explained to his sisters what we'd done at the park, "We played soccer-football," he told them.  He's obviously more sure of what language I speak than he is of the girls.

In fact, I'm probably just as conflicted - especially when I'm talking to them.  Five years and twenty days have taken their toll on my linguistic purity too.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 5.019: Pajama day

Well, we had a quiet night.  Today, the rest of us got dressed, but the American in the family didn't bother to - hence the spelling.

After breakfast, he went back to bed for an hour or so and has seemed definitely below-par for most of the day but at least it's been incident free.  Even when we persuaded them to all go outside this afternoon, he just wore his snow pants and coat over his night clothes.  It didn't seem to stop him contributing to some all important digging.

As you can see, he attempted some basic planking today.  I'm so proud.  He is actually conscious and happy in that picture so it counts.

This evening, the girls all went to church but we kept E5N1 in quarantine, meaning more hanging-out time with Daddy.  We made this Magnatile fellow, played Monopoly Junior and No Stress Chess and read some stories.  Now we just hope that this is a genuine recovery and not just another lull in the action.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 5.018: Hanging out

Our day started earlier than expected when we were called on to tend to a suddenly unwell child.  Unwell in the change the sheets and disinfect the bathroom in the middle of the night sense.

He seemed fine and went back to bed.  Exile #2 had the beginnings of a migraine and so took some painkillers.

By the time we were done it was nearly time for my alarm to go off for my nine-mile run.  I decided to just get on with it.  When I got back everyone was awake and seemingly well.  We had a normal Saturday breakfast and then the real fun began.

Both the girls had birthday parties - Exile #4 had two with a quick transfer in the middle, Exile #3 had one with an entertainment-to-food transfer in the middle and we were possibly one driver down due to the migraine (in fact - much to everyone's relief - Exile #2 has been almost-OK all day).

Thankfully one of Exile #3's friend's mom kindly offered to take her and do the transfer and bring her home, so I just had Exile #4 to take and then had to find something to do with a possibly-sick E5N1.

Looking for a fun-for-him outdoor activity away from other kids, we went to the park where, amongst other things, he rode his tricycle.

And rode and rode and rode.

Happily, he seemed completely his normal self. Afterwards, we had a few minutes to kill so we grabbed a drink and a snack.

At bed time tonight he reported that he'd had a very special day because he got to hang-out with Daddy.

Then he proved that he is still sick.  More disinfectant...more laundry...oh boy.

Happy days!  No actually, I mean that - and now we just hope for a quiet night.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 5.017: Fighting (and making up)

Exile #3 and I had a fight tonight over nothing much after we'd had a very nice story time. I also managed to be grumpy this evening with Exile #2 and a colleague who I've never met but decided to send an email telling me that I'm lousy at my job.

Maybe I'm the common link.  It's been a tiring week - and not very interesting to read about I suspect.  Sorry.

Fortunately Exile #3 was still awake when I went in to tell her it was time to go to sleep, so we had chance to make up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 5.016: They're a happy height

Occasionally the kids aren't 100% happy about my photographic projects.


They usually come around in the end.

* heights correct as of Day 4.278

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 5.015: Shore shorts

A flight coming in to land at SFO around dawn on Day 5.008.

I enjoyed my runs on the path along the shore of the bay while I was in California.  Unfortunately, my schedule and the time of year did not permit me to run during daylight hours - rather I was running before dawn in almost complete darkness.  There was enough light to see where I was going, but that's about it.  I didn't really go prepared for outdoor running - assuming, incorrectly, that I would be stuck on a treadmill in the fitness center.  So it was that I was running in shorts and short-sleeve running shirt without anything reflective or a light at 5am, disturbing the shore birds, trying not to disturb the homeless guy on the bench, passing the hotel staff smoking at the back of the hotel and a few other runners from time to time.

So, it worked out fairly well and I knew that the views were nice - even if I couldn't actually see them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 5.014: Loving being Dad

My Daddy moments from today:

E5N1 wanting to show off his latest creation.

Exile #4 'catching up' on hugs she missed while I was in California by squeezing in some extra ones.

Exile #3 putting her head on my shoulder while I read to the girls at bedtime.

Four times since we've been here in the US, families we're close to in one way or another have lost their Dads.  The latest was just before Christmas.  He left a three year-old son.  It's almost too sad.

It has made me realise how precious the time we spend with the people we love is.  It hasn't stopped me being cross with the kids, or despairing of them, or upsetting them at times - but it has certainly made me treasure the Daddy moments a bit more consciously than before.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 5.013: Over-tired

It's amazing what catches my eye at times. As I was leaving for California, I spotted what looked like a display case with Swagelok fittings in it at Albany Airport. It turned out to be exactly that.

Welcome to Albany - home of a reseller of vacuum fittings from Ohio.

Today we started the week with a family sleep-in. Exile #3 woke us at 8 am. Amazingly, the kids made it to school on time and I managed a reasonable arrival time at work - more delayed by getting my normal work-stuff together after my trip than by the late start.

And now I better get to bed before I compound problems by having a very late night!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 5.012: Wow - it's winter!

I know we've had some very cold weather, and some snow but - whether it is the return from California or whatever - it really seems like winter at last.

This morning I repeated my cold-run feat but with added snow under-foot.  I'd been rather skeptical when I saw that Fleet Feet sold Yaktrax Pro that they would really work for running, but it didn't stop me suggesting them as a birthday gift.  Today I found that they work very well when I took my morning run to the deserted and not-to-partially-cleared roadways of a local park.  Traction was good - very good.  I was anxious to get home to see the family though, so I didn't do a very long run.

Later the kids played in the snow (actually the picture of Exile #4 in the top right was taken by Exile #2 yesterday) and called me out to take a photo of the chair they'd made for E5N1.

Taking photographs of things made from snow against a background of snow is tricky, so I tried a few angles.  When I looked at this one, I realised it didn't so much look like he was sitting on a chair as well...

Yes. That.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 5.011: Bye-bye San Francisco....

...and welcome back to Albany!

Despite the frosty welcome, I am very happy to be home.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 5.010: Business travel

One of these pictures is of Portland Oregon - let's face it, it doesn't matter which.  Business travel is not much fun and meeting rooms, airports and hotels all look pretty much the same wherever you are.

We had an 'entertaining' landing in San Francisco this evening thanks to heavy rain and gusty winds.  Tomorrow, I get to spend the day flying back home.  Do I get all the fun or what?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 5.009: On the bay

So, I'm staying in a hotel next to San Francisco airport.  The bridge in the pictures is the San Mateo Bridge.

After our meetings today, we were returning up the peninsula in our minivan with at various times of the day four, five or six occupants.  We only needed a minimum of two people in the car to use the HOV lane, which made it all the more amazing that the vast majority of people were sitting in stationary traffic in the right three lanes.

This evening we were back in San Mateo for dinner.  Here is mine.


Tomorrow brings two more flights, one more state and it will all end up back here.

For now, goodnight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 5.008: Land of the rising sun

As I mentioned, I'm out of town but I'm in the US not in Japan!

I saw the sunrise this morning.  Anyone able to recognise where I am?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 5.007: A bit of everything in Coeymans

I'm travelling today, so it seemed like a good opportunity to catch up on some old news. Way back on Day 4.363 (my birthday) we had a small outing to the wonderfully named Joralemon Park in Coeymans.  We'd heard there were walking trails there.  We didn't find them, and decided against walking the ATV trails, but we did find plenty to occupy ourselves.

First, there was the river - fast moving with interesting ice formations where it slowed down.

Then we found out that the most of the park is taken up with an extensive disc golf course.  Everyone else we saw while we were there was there to play as far as I could see.  Whether it was a 'golfer' who mad the stone snowman we don't know, but we restored its 'carrot' nose when we came across it.

It turns out that a lens of wood shows Exile #2 and E5N1.  I didn't find a lens of stone.

There is a fascinating area of rocky outcrops - no doubt challenging for disc golfers - but also fun for adults and children alike.

Eventually, we left nature's playground for some more man-made adventures.  The swings had been removed, but this tunnel/slide was popular with E5N1 and Exile #4.

But the park had one more surprise.  Behind the playground we discovered a bit of flooded woodland that had frozen capturing fallen leaves in a glassy display case.  It was quite attractive - and fun for the girls because the ice was fairly thick and the water underneath (in case of breaking ice - which didn't happen) was safely shallow.

All in all - rather a good little outing. Next time maybe we'll take a our golfing supplies.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 5.006: Five frozen Rivers

On Saturday, we managed to fit in a short walk at Five Rivers. It had already turned quite cold and it was quite icy under foot, but the sun managed to come out and we had a good time.

Did I mention the ice under foot?!

I took the opportunity to attempt to perfect the winter bullrush picture.

Got a shot of this cautionary tale about ice-thickness:

And managed to talk everyone into the welcome return of the traditional group shot.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 5.005: Cool running

I do almost all of my running first thing in the morning, before breakfast. It's a time I can control - not that I find getting out of bed early easy, but I can do it.  So, I get up when my alarm goes off (or sometimes the second time it goes off) I have everything pretty much ready to go.  The next thing is to check the weather.  Sometimes I look out of the window, but unless a neighbour has left an outside light on I'm unlikely to see much, so I pick up my phone and check the temperature on there.

This morning it said 0°F.  I had been expecting it, but there it was.  Was it possible for me to run in those temperatures?

I've nearly finished reading novelist Haruki Murakami's wonderful memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running in it he nails the potential disaster in allowing excuses to stop him running, "I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished."  I'm perpetually afraid that if I miss a couple of days of running I'll just stop and never get back to it - so today had to be a running day.

To the two shirts, tights, gloves and hat I had been wearing on days when the temperature was in the teens, I added a pair of glove liners, a fleece and a pair of fleece jogging bottoms.  I swapped out my hat for a real cold-weather one with a velcro chin strap to hold it over my ears and added my regular high-visibility bib and headlight worn around my waist and off I went.

This is what I looked like in the early morning sunshine when I got back just over an hour later.  The temperature was still 0°F.

For the first time ever, I didn't see a single runner or dog-walker. A few people drove past but I managed not to catch their expressions.

The run was OK. I walked outside and felt OK, I took a breath and thought, "Oh yes - that's cold!" After a mile I'd cooled off from the outside but was starting to warm up from the running and realised I was fine. Then I started to worry about whether I would get too warm and have to take some clothing off - but worried that if I did I would get cold. I needn't have worried about that.

The shoulders and back of my fleece gradually got a coating of ice and so, more surprisingly, did my knees - but that didn't really bother me - I was warm and running easily.

In fact, the problem came after about seven miles - and it was my little fingers - as has often been the case on my less-frigid winter runs.  I pulled them out of their finger holes, balled them into my palms and finished up - I ran just under eight miles in all.

So - yes - it is possible for me to run when it's 0°F.  I found out when I got home there was a wind-chill advisory due to the extreme cold.  Fortunately my route is fairly well sheltered.  Still, I'm considering this morning's run to be fairly hard-core, if only because I seemed to be the only one brave or foolish enough to be attempting one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 5.004: Categorical

Well, winter has arrived - no doubt about it!

The 'big' snowman had lost his nose this morning, but was still standing tall.  The small one was looking like a modern art sculpture.  The real surprise was that the very thin covering of snow made for some of the best backyard sledding of the last five years - as you can see even Exile #2 was persuaded to try!

My other project of the last few weeks - categories for the posts to make it easier for people with specific interests to find material they might like - has gone live.  Not that it is complete by a long way, but feel free to click on the links in the side-bar to see a selection of recent and ancient posts and let me know if it proves entertaining or helpful.