Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 7.355: It's the most final day of the year...

Well, at least three of us are slowly recovering from a nasty cold, so - as we have before - we greeted the New Year at 7pm EST (midnight GMT). The kids have gone to their beds and I will soon go to my own. I think 2015 will still be there when I wake up in the morning.

So, Happy New Year! Maybe I'll do better when the Exile greets its new year in ten days time.

And now, here are some Throwback Thursday pictures from one week ago when we walked on the beach in the dying light of Christmas Day:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 7.354: Suspend

It was back-to-work for me today, although I won't make too much of a fuss since I'm only in for two days, then off for one, then in for one and out for two again...

Even though it was a work-day, we still played a new game, Melissa and Doug's Suspend - one of Exile #4's Christmas presents:

The rest of the family had played earlier in the day, but joined me for a few games before bed - balancing the pieces in ever more precarious arrangements on the stand and collecting any that fall in the process. It can be quite dramatic, and rather humbling as my scoffing at other players' grasp of physics was followed by my failing to win a single round!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 7.353: Home and houses

It was the last day of my Christmas vacation today. We spent it at home - more as a reaction to the rushing about of the last few days than because of any external influence.

Amongst other things, E5N1 and Exile #4 each completed one of the three designs from their Christmas Lego sets:

Exile #4's Christmas list had specified, "Lego - not the girl kind". Neither she nor I is convinced by this whole "Lego Friends" range. Just like her brother, she wants to build challenging sets and then dump the bricks all in the box with the others and let her imagination roam freely. Quite right too!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 7.352: Exile #2's Sunday Column #37

Exile #2 writes...

After a very nice breakfast, preceded by a wealth of knock knock jokes and finished off by a talent show, we wrapped things up with our friends.

Then we scooped up Exile #3 from her sleepover and made our way round to drop Exile #4 at another friend's house.

The rest of us then headed off to see our fellow Brit friends: T, S, J & A. E5N1 particularly enjoyed getting to hang out with J, who was born just 2 days before him.

Photo by S - thanks!

Much tea was drunk, new jobs were discussed, Exile #3 crafted with A and we had a lovely lunch and good all round catch up.

We remembered to go back and collect Exile #4 (although I'm sure she would have been happy to stay) and have just got home from a grueling drive home. It was nice to see our friends and our old neighborhood but living there already feels like a strangely distant memory and it definitely felt like we were nearly home when we crossed the Piscataqua into Maine.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 7.351: Exiles in ... New York!

We are visiting friends near our previous home near Albany NY. We lost Exile #3 to one of her friends' houses and the other two are very happy to be here with their old friends - as are we. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 7.350: Settled

We played our first game of Settlers of Catan today:

No great surprise about the result - Exile #4 won.

We also played a second game of Forbidden Desert - this time without Exile #4 who was preparing for tomorrow's adventure - and lost (it's a cooperative game). We won fairly easily yesterday when she was playing. I think a pattern is forming!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 7.349: Christmas - this and this and that...

Christmas day started surprisingly late - the girls had to wake the usual early-riser of the house, E5N1, at 7:30 - half an hour after our target time!

After that was some of this:

Then some conversations with my family on FaceTime. Followed by this:

With a brief break before dessert to talk to Exile #2's family via Skype.

It was warm and wet outside in the morning, but even after the rain there was still some of this:

But that didn't stop us doing this:

And later we came back for some of this:

It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 7.348: The Bethlehem Tornado (Happy Christmas!)

As usual, a place-the-figures Nativity scene served as the kids' Advent calendar this year.

Two out of three of them decided that they would place their figures as inappropriately as they could, and we soon dubbed the scene, "The Bethlehem Tornado". Here are the pictures I took each day during Advent and the little bit of Christmas magic that happened today:

Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 7.347: Counting up, counting down

When we were at Scarborough Marsh a week or so ago, we saw this freight train go by. We attempted to count the trucks and there was some discrepancy in our results, but it's safe to say there were ninety give or take a few. They do like long trains here.

Of course, there has been a certain amount of counting going on since then - counting down the days to Christmas - and I think we all agree about that number.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 7.346: Camera, lights, music!

Here is one of the numbers from the Northern Lights show outside L.L.Bean in Freeport. It's definitely a step-up from the average holiday light show!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 7.345: Exile #2's Sunday Column #36

Exile #2 writes...

When we moved to Maine, I came over a little bit Pinterest and decided we needed a chalk board on our kitchen wall. I wasn't really planning to use it for organization. We have a dry erase board for that. I thought instead it might be nice to have something on which to write thoughts. Exile #1, in particular, finds this amusing. Of course, I did rather shoot myself in the foot by buying him a de-motivational calendar for Christmas last year, including pithy sayings such as: Multitasking -the art of doing twice as much as you should half as well as you could.

Anyway, the board remains in place and my advent challenge has been to add a word a day to make a word cloud (I was a little concerned about a week ago but at this point, I think I'm home free!).

My other challenge (perhaps also a little bit Pinterest) was to make some Christmas decorations using wooden Scrabble tiles. They just happen to be the four words our church has chosen to use while lighting the advent candles and I'm quite pleased with how they came out.

I'm also pleased that apart from a bit of cooking and wrapping, most of the rushing around is done and we can enjoy the waiting.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 7.344: Carols and lights

We had a very busy day today. This morning I had a haircut and then we all went to buy a replacement dryer (ours died rather decisively a couple of days ago, and this is not the time of year to dry clothes any other way).

In the afternoon, we spent a couple of happy but cold hours in downtown Portland singing carols with a group from church and giving out free hot chocolate and cookies to passers by. When we left there, we drove up to Freeport to see the light show put on by L.L.Bean each evening at this time of year:

I got some video of the sound-and-light show too, but that will have to wait for another day.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 7.343: This was very awesome

While I was at Exile #4's recital last night, Exile #2 and Exile #3 went to watch E5N1's dance class. Their main choreography was done to a version of Macklemore And Ryan Lewis's Thrift Shop. Exile #3 and I have been singing this to each other for a while - especially after our shopping trip to Goodwill a while ago and joking about various ways to omit the rather prominent expletive.

We did try this one but almost any of our other alternatives were better than "very" I think, but that's what this version went for.

I wish I could share the video - but it's too much of other people's children for me to happily post it - so here's a still as he turned around at the end of the song.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 7.342: Deck the Halls

On Tuesday I missed Exile #3's open-to-spectators dance class (they don't do a formal performance) while I took Exile #4 to karate because she was already missing her other karate class due to a make-up piano lesson. Today, Exile #2 was back at the dance studio - this time to see E5N1 dance and I was at Exile #4's piano recital. It's just that time of year!

This is how she got on:

This week has also involved E5N1's holiday concert at school as well as (on a different day) a craft project that Exile #2 went in to help out with. Also, one day Exile #3 and Exile #4 went separately to Portland with groups from their schools to see two different plays.

I think things will be slowing down a bit after today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 7.341: At the marsh

Oh yes - we did see some wild life at the otherwise barren Scarborough Marsh on Sunday:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 7.340: Winners!

Back on Day 7.323, we went to see the Festival of Trees and I mentioned that we had bought a few raffle tickets. I think we bought six and the kids had one each with their own name on that they could choose any prize drawing to enter.

Exile #4 chose a pizza and bowling night and E5N1 and Exile #3 chose two different festive wreaths. Yesterday we found out that both E5N1 and Exile #4 had won!

So now we have an even fancier wreath on our door than the very nice one that Exile #2 had made with some branches from the bottom of the Christmas tree and some surplus baubles. Here it is - E5N1's prize wreath:

As for Exile #4's prize, we'll worry about that at a later date.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 7.339: The grass was greener...

...back on Day 7.225 when we visited Scarborough Marsh with our friends:

Yesterday, it looked rather different (but still very compelling):

Ice, dead grass and dead wood - what's not to like?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 7.338: Exile #2's Sunday Column #35

Exile #2 writes...

We have had a pleasantly busy weekend, spending yesterday afternoon at Exile #4's karate school for their holiday open house and party and then on to Portland in the evening for the annual parade of decorated boats.

This morning, we headed back to Portland for church and after lunch, took advantage of sun (yes sun!) and temperatures above freezing for a walk across Scarborough Marsh. The marsh is strange but beautiful at this time of the year, with its dead and flattened grasses and partially frozen channels.

When we got back, it was time to snuggle up for some Harry Potter, made slightly more fun following our brush with a real steam engine yesterday. There are just five school days left but they are packed full with performances and events of one kind or another, so it was a good opportunity to charge our batteries in anticipation.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 7.337: Parade of Lights

Late this afternoon we made our way to the Old Port in Portland to see the 12th Annual Parade of Lights.

It's a different kind of parade - boats with lights rather than cars, buses and fire trucks. E5N1 asked hopefully if they would be using a candy cannon to distribute sweet treats to the crowds. They did not, but the views were a pretty good compensation.

As well as the boats, we saw the Polar Express. It was quite photogenic:

We weren't in a great place to see the fireworks - which were launched from one of the boats in the parade, but they were a nice finale to the evening:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 7.336: Exile #4 in orange and red

This was our family group picture from the day after Thanksgiving when we went to the dojo for Exile #4 to test for her orange belt:

Today, we went in for her first intermediate class - she normally goes to the all-abilities one - it won't be a regular one for us because the time is difficult, but she's doing well.

And this was at the concert yesterday (since we were sitting together in the bleachers):

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 7.335: Someone else's turn to sing

Tonight it was the snow-date for Exile #3's school chorus concert. It was supposed to be on Tuesday when the storm arrived. They sounded great, and they looked something like this:

Exile #3 and I rushed there from Exile #4's piano lesson, E5N1 and Exile #2 arrived separately - such are the complicated logistics these days.

Two concert bands and the orchestra also played - it was a fun night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 7.334: Reindeer paws

E5N1 has been learning some Christmas songs at school and Exile #4 has been playing some for her piano lessons recently. The other day, they discovered a few in common and even did an impromptu performance together. In relating the lyrics to one of the songs E5N1 said, "Up on the housetop, reindeer pause..."

I tried to wind him up by saying, "But reindeer don't have paws, they have hooves!".

Unexpectedly, instead of giving me a hard time for my misunderstanding of the words or for a terrible joke, E5N1 defended the song on the basis of poetic license (he didn't use those exact words) and it became clear that that is exactly how he had understood the words.

So now, we're picturing the reindeer up on the roof padding around on their paws.

They're less likely to wake us that way I suppose.