Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 6.048: Wacky Wednesday...wait!

We were caught out by the snow this morning - that's what comes from spending your evenings busily not watching TV I suppose!

Anyway, we woke to the sound of snow plows and the news of a two-hour school delay.

When they did eventually go, E5N1 was celebrating Dr Seuss's birthday by reading Wacky Wednesday - they were encouraged to wear wacky clothes too.

I'm assuming that wacky hamming for the camera was optional!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 6.046: What lies beneath

The Discovery Center at the Pine Bush Preserve has some great displays. I love this view of the roots of the small pine trees that live there - truly as much below ground as above!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 6.045: What we saw at the Pine Bush...

It's not the most dynamic time of year at the Pine Bush Preserve - but I wouldn't go as far as another visitor who claimed to have seen nothing!

We ventured out onto the trails which are slightly disrupted at the moment - not by their regular controlled burns but by some more long-term changes.  We saw quite a few of these:

The trails were about as we expected - icy in places.  E5N1's technique was to run and keep running.  It seemed to work - the lying down picture was from a voluntary rest to wait for us to catch up - the rest of us took a more measured approach.

Some of the ice was crinkling like this and leaving impressive marks in the mud once it had melted away.

We also saw chipmunks, a blue jay, crows and chickadees - so I can report that the Pine Bush is alive and well.  We are also alive and well and happy to get out on the trails to combat the February cabin-fever.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 6.044: Family movie? As you wish!

Here's my shocking confession: until yesterday/today I'd never seen The Princess Bride.

You're all shocked. Of course some of you are shocked by the fact of the confession and the rest of you by the fact that I thought it was shocking!  I don't think I was even aware of it until the last few years.

Anyway, although it is a hugely popular family movie and also a big hit in the world of geeks but it took our running out of Doctor Who episodes to get us around to watching it.

We loved it. We started it last night and ended up watching the second half between eating breakfast and getting dressed this morning because none of us wanted to wait!

PS Having written this, I've just seen that it's on in Albany at The Palace Theatre this Monday evening!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 6.043: You too can float an egg!

...and/or let bread go mouldy!

I came home to discover two science experiments in progress - both by Exile #4. The first was this - an egg floating in salty water - they sink in freshwater (as long as they are fairly fresh!)

The second is a jar containing a wet piece of bread which has been secreted under the sink. She is planning to wait for mould (she'd probably spell it mold) to grow on it - I can hardly wait!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 6.042: A Force Of Will

I received this book in the mail yesterday. I haven't read it yet so this is not a review, but I wanted to mention that it's out and I have reason to believe that it is wonderful.

I first came across Mike Stavlund having met a friend of his and made contact with her on facebook.  She alerted me to his poetry and I think poets are awesome so I was fascinated to see that he was giving a talk at the Wild Goose festival last summer and made sure I caught it. It was unexpected and wonderful. This is what I wrote here just afterwards in my daily recap:

My main session for the afternoon was Mike Stavlund talking about Integrating Our Losses. He is about to publish a book which he basically wrote five years ago - one chapter a week following the death of his baby son. Echoing words from one of my friends recently, he said that we have to stop trying to assign a hierarchy of loss - "Our heart doesn't know the difference it just experiences loss." He read sections of his book which were very moving, chaired the discussion of grief and loss in a really lovely way and made me cry reading the lyrics of a song by The Cobalt Season which was based on one of his blog posts during that time (lyrics, audio). It was a beautiful and profound time.
So the long-awaited book is here. I'll read it as soon as I can and maybe write about it again, but it's on my mind now, and so I get to write about it now if I want to!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 6.041: Dreaming of summer

The kids must be dreaming of summer during this February break week. They made this reproduction of a park-pool complex complete with concession stand (as Exile #3 called it) or snack bar (as E5N1 preferred).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 6.040: Felt creativity

E5N1 is a very creative child. I don't mean that he is particularly talented (although I think he is!) but that he seems wired to want to create things all the time. Recently, he made himself a huge set of paper props for a Harry Potter game he invented (loosely based on the Lego HP XBox game) - several times I have seen him pull a folded-up cardboard sword out of "Hermione's bag" to destroy a paper locket.

His latest thing is making things from some of Exile #2's felt sheets - she was ready to stop him at one point to save them all from being chopped up, but he has shown some restraint and it is hard to stop him when he's doing such cool stuff. For example, here is "A Phoenix flying off the ground into the sky":

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 6.039: Wind chill

We finally managed an outing today - albeit a short one. We had a walk at Five Rivers in the bitter cold and biting wind.

I was dismayed on trying to take my first photo to be told by the camera display that it was unable to oblige due to a "Memory Card Error" - actually it was quite generous as the error in question was leaving the memory card plugged into the computer when leaving the house.

Fortunately, I was able to get some shots with my phone - which is quite competent.  Unfortunately, unlike my real camera it can't be operated with any of my gloves on - I can still feel the burn although thankfully it's in my head now and my hands seem none the worse for their ordeal.

We had a long conversation about why it was OK to have warning signs incorrectly warning of thin ice but not the opposite - E5N1 was convinced they should have replaced "DANGER - THIN ICE" signs with "OK - THICK ICE" ones. Having said that, although there was clearly several inches of ice, we didn't venture onto it.

On the way back, sheltered from the wind with the sun on our backs it was even, briefly, quite pleasant - but we were still pleased to reach the car and get home.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 6.038: Sugar and teeth

This is not a post about dental work or the effect of eating sugar on the teeth.

I've written before about 'Saturday Breakfast' - our once-a-week not-at-the-table not-very-healthy breakfast. This can be pancakes or french toast, or some kind of muffin or pastry or just toast from time to time. Sometimes we have donuts - not good local donuts, but the long-life in-a-box kind. This is just for practical reasons, but they hit the spot as a sugar delivery device.

If we end up with a selection box, I usually do this:

(Exile #2 buys these but doesn't eat them on account of the gluten, so we only have to split four ways).

And, unrelated, I spotted this in our bathroom yesterday - and was sure it was advertising itself as ANTI-GRAVITY. 

I was a little disappointed when I realised the truth.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 6.037: Play-date

We had a mostly-quiet day. Exile #3 and Exile #4 went to a girls' engineering experience at RPI (if I hear anything about it, I'll let you know) and E5N1 had a play-date, so Exile #2 and I had an hour or so on our own in the middle of the afternoon to get some things done.

This evening we had a very nice night out with friends (parents of kids at school with our kids). It seems that at least two of us had conversations with our own kids about it - ours involved a guessing game about who we might be friendly with out of their friends' parents - they got there in the end. One of the other kindergartners having established who her parents were going out with said, "So, is it a play-date?"

As it turned out - yes it was. After drinks and dinner (at New World Bistro Bar), we ended up doing this:

with varying degrees of success, but a good deal of enthusiasm!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 6.036: Downhill from here

Any of you who are friends with the real me on facebook know about our creative project. We're about halfway through, so there's a chance that normal service will be resumed soon-ish.

We watched the last two episodes of Doctor Who Series 6 this evening. It was bewildering, but I have thoroughly enjoyed rewatching it - some of the performances by Alex Kingston, knowing what we don't (the first time around at least) are quite impressive - despite the cartoonish elements of her character. Now, we only have one more Christmas special to watch and we're back at the whim of the BBC America as to when we can catch reruns of the first section of season 7!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 6.035: ABV

Exile #2 and I have never really caught on to Valentine's Day. I don't recall us marking it in any significant way in the UK and we haven't made much more of it here.

The kids, of course, have a whole different experience - exchanging valentines at school (one for every class member) and having classroom parties and theme days.

Someone in E5N1's class apparently knows the way to his heart - an Angry Birds 'tattoo'!

As for the rest of us, Exile #2 had baked these very cute heart-shaped things - even if she did think they resembled shar-pei puppies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 6.034: Banding together

Exile #3 has started taking flute at school - and that means 'band'. Today was the snow date for the winter concert so we heard the 4th and 5th grade orchestras (just strings in fact), the 4th grade choir (basically everyone I think) and the 5th grade band. Here is our little flautist in training:

They did very well - and she even put a skirt on for the occasion!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 6.033: My flipping kids!

We haven't completely given up on our British heritage...

I hope everyone had a good pancake day - we did!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 6.032: Distracted

I spotted this yesterday.  I apologise for the quality - it's a small crop of an iPhone photo - not up to my normal standards, but I enjoyed the sign anyway.

Various things are slipping through the cracks of life at the moment: writing interesting blog posts, keeping up with friends, updating the Exiles in New York Facebook feed, and - most shockingly of all - it's a whole week since my last run.

It's all in a good cause though - I hope - and I think taking a week or two off running in the middle of winter is not the worst thing ever.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 6.031: Busy busy!

After church this morning, I had an afternoon of rushing around. First with E5N1 to a birthday party - where these bounce-houses featured, along with organised games and, of course, a good dose of sugar. As the location was Afrim's indoor soccer complex, I also got to watch a bit of live football (adults and kids games were going on) for the first time in quite a while.

After that, we rushed to the sledding hill for some pre-dusk snow-enjoyment and then, we rushed back home to fit in a couple of episodes of Doctor Who along with dinner and to get the kids in bed ready for school tomorrow!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day 6.030: Acclimatized

You know you're getting acclimatized to living in upstate New York when...

...six inches of snow is no big deal (and a bit of a disappointment, and not amazingly exciting to the kids)

and when spelling acclimatised with a Z seems natural (and when you pronounce it 'zee' in your head)!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 6.029: A little snow

I'd planned a day off work today to work on a project that Exile #2 and I have going on at the moment. In the end, the kids came home from work at lunch time due to the snow storm that was rolling in.

For most of the last 24 hours the predictions have been varying between 10 and 16 inches of snow, but - as is so often the way - now it is here they are suggesting that we will end up with less than that.  Still, to be on the safe-side, I went out to shovel the first three or four inches so that we won't have too much to shift in the morning.

Looks like it will be pretty in the morning at least.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 6.028: Synchronized!

For the last few weeks, our weekends have been a whirl of rehearsals for the kids - and tonight was the night it was all in aid of - the school "Lip-Sync" concert.

This year all three of the kids participated in three different groups and Exile #3 had an extra piece to rehearse that was performed by the whole 5th Grade - making the whole thing incredibly time consuming.

Anyway, they all Beyoncéed mimed and danced their way through their numbers - here they are in the act (so to speak):

It was a blast, they all did very well and we're very glad it's over!