Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 7.171: Pictures (and not)

Here are a few of my photos from the wedding on Saturday:

After crashing hard yesterday evening after our grueling journey, I ran this morning then headed back to work. Meanwhile, some friends had followed us over from NY to Maine for a vacation and met up with Exile #2 and the kids for some beach time today.

No photos were forthcoming from any of the Exiles, although I did see one of Exile #3 with her friend who has beaten her to the end-of-school shooting-up competition. It's amazing that kids seem to grow when we get some warm bright weather - are they actually plants?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 7.170: Exile #2's Sunday Column #11

Exile #2 writes:

After a quiet week with a sprinkling of swim lessons, playground exploration and beach time, the Exiles have had a crazy weekend. For the first time since our move, we returned to upstate New York for a wedding. There were happy reunions as each of the young Exiles were delivered to host families for the afternoon and overnight. Meanwhile, the adult Exiles gleefully headed off to Saratoga Springs! It was a lovely wedding, held outdoors at Saratoga Spa State Park and featuring many lovely hand made, artfully designed touches. We were glad to be able to join the happy couple on their special day and glad to catch up with a few old friends.

After a delicious and leisurely breakfast at Sweet Mimi's Cafe we thought we'd better go and reclaim the children. Wonderful times had been had by all - grateful thanks to all who made it possible. We rounded our trip off with some genial conversation and welcome cooling off time poolside with Albaniana and co., hopefully tempting them to make their way Maine-wards soon!

The journey home was long and arduous - vacation travel season has definitely arrived but the week ahead promises to be fun with visits from friends and family. Time to do some tidying up!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 7.169: Wedding NY

This morning we got up early packed the kids into the car and made the - until recently - very familiar to me journey back to the vicinity of Albany New York.

We then dropped the kids at three separate friends' houses and left them to their own devices so we could attend a wedding. 

It was a former colleague of mine's and her touches were everywhere in style, attention to detail and the odd geeky moment such as the table number we were sitting at:

Well, where else would you start counting from?!

We had a lovely time. More to tell when I'm back on a computer. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 7.168: What do you call a hot dog at the beach?

Well, tonight we called it dinner!

We were there for less than an hour, but it was a great early-evening outing. Now it's early nights all around before we head off on an adventure early tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 7.167: Throwback Thursday - two tiny girls

Fairly terrible photo - but, seriously, just look at them!

(from Day 199)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 7.166: In the insect zone (day 2)

Although one of these ants seems more committed than the other - everything certainly seemed to be more awesome when they worked together:


We had family movie night on Monday - can you tell?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 7.165: Tiny woodhopper

A tiny grasshopper - initially mistaken for a little wolf-spider and possibly about to become prey to one. Having said that, it proved itself able to disappear Zebedee-like when disturbed (I can only imagine that it jumped, much like the Magic Roundabout character, it seemed to just be there one moment and gone the next).

A less-unwelcome insect-incursion than the wasp incident at least.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 7.164: We all went to the beach

Everyone else went today while I was at work, but they were only playing catch-up. I had a solo visit early on Sunday morning, halfway through my run:

The sea was incredibly calm - barely rippling and the beach was all set up for the summer - with volleyball nets and lifeguard chairs etc. It's as beautiful as ever and still quite quiet (although not entirely deserted) at seven o'clock on Sunday morning.

Apparently the rest of the family's visit was good too, but since no-one took any photos, we'll all have to take their word for it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 7.163: Exile #2's Sunday Column #10

Exile #2 writes...

So, this week, the young Exiles were released from school for the summer. Already it is getting hard to remember the morning rush, so swiftly have they embraced the slower pace of life. Before they could be released, however, an important tradition had to be upheld - field day! I joined E5N1 for the morning shift at his school. There was fun to be had outside and (thankfully, considering the heat) in.

It was classic stuff. Aside from some often wild and extremely noisy parachute games (sharks and lifeguards anyone?), there was an "anything goes" game of volleyball (imagine 2 tennis courts filled with a mixture of 30 children, 10 adults and and a dozen beach-balls and you should have a fair picture of the ensuing chaos) and broom hockey "races", which revealed who plays hockey, who does the chores at home and who...does neither - looking at you E5N1 ;-).

Despite the rest of the week being vacation, we've still been up relatively early, especially on Friday, when we had some more birthday business. Exile #3 celebrated her last birthday before the onset of teendom. We were up early so that Exile #1 could join in the festivities and help her with some new technology. Later, she had a friend over to help her celebrate and we ended the day eating some fantastic Mexican food and watching World cup footie on the Spanish-speaking channel (but not that game...).

Yesterday was all manner of exciting: discovering the new transfer station (or tip if you prefer), watching the Portland Pride parade, finding a health food wonderland, a birthday party for Exile #4, attack of the killer wasps for Exile #1, more two-wheeler practice for E5N1 (who reminds me of Kermit the Frog on a bicycle every time I see him). The list goes on.

It's summer though and so it's all seat of the pants stuff. We'll see what next week brings!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 7.162: Pride and a disagreement with the neighbors

The morning started with loading up the car for a trip to the tip. Another item checked off the moving-in checklist. The car-load was supposed to make a big hole in the untidiness of the garage - yeah - not so much.

After that we rushed into Portland to cheer on the Pride parade with our lovely HopeGateWay friends. We're not calling it "our church" but these are definitely our people - we just wish we were (geographically) closer to them.

The parade was colorful, larger-than-life and super-positive, we all loved it!

After that, there was a less good moment when our newly moved-in neighbors took exception to something I did and charged out of their home physically attacking me and even followed me right into our house.

Exile #2 and I were a bit freaked out, but later, with the benefit of some bug spray I dealt with the wasp nest in the folds of the grill cover and effected a less-than-neighborly eviction.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 7.161: #3 is 12!

It was Exile #3's birthday today. Here she is opening presents, waiting to blow out the candle on her cake and laughing uproariously with her brother at something she misread in the card he made her.

All in all, she had a pretty good day I think.

If you'd like to look back over her previous birthdays, you can do so here!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 7.160: Great result for England!

Sadly, not in this match:

...but immediately afterwards, E5N1 wanted to go outside and play one-on-one "World Cup Soccer" I persuaded him that England vs Britain wasn't a viable match-up, so he accepted the role of USA and - even though "they" were handicapped with a tiny goal and several other disadvantages compared with "their" opponents, England were able to beat USA 16-8 in a very spirited encounter.

It also took my mind right off the previous event.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 7.159: The Father's Day sandcastle

It was a good one - and it stood up to the waves well...for a time.

And - since I'm finally posting about Father's Day - a belated, "Happy Father's Day!" to my Dad. See you in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 7.158: Aim A: narration

Although telling stories about our life is my general intent of this blog, that's not the point of this post. What I really want to say is:

"Hey title watchers don't confuse what I did before breakfast (1,3,2,1,6)"

If you don't like this post, please refrain from cross words.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 7.157: Spot the difference

Just the one this time, and no image processing trickery was required.

Yes, that happened today, and now we get to decide what to do with the gap in the deck railing and the square of concrete.

Incidentally, if you want more of a challenging spot the differences picture, this one is still awaiting a solution.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 7.156: Exile #2's Sunday Column #9

Exile #2 writes...

Exile #1 was up early, as is his custom on Sunday mornings, to notch up 12 miles of running before breakfast. On his return, we treated him with coffee and a bacon butty (sandwich to our US friends...) before the ritual presentation of the Fathers' Day cards.

It is always revealing to see how your children approach this task. Exile #3 reminded her Dad  (with some relish) that he is definitely not funny, Exile #4 took the opportunity to say that he is generally awesome, despite being occasionally yell-y, whilst E5N1 revealed that he currently sees himself and his Dad as this dynamic duo:

In addition we presented him with a book about Maine beers, interpreted by Exile #1 as part history, part to-do list.

We then all decamped for an hour to the noticeably busier beach before coming home to strike up the BBQ. While waiting for the coals to be ready, Exile #1 had an opportunity to show his heroic dad qualities again by rescuing a newt that was seemingly in trouble in a large bucket of water. We named him "Figgy", then released him to take his chances against the hordes of neighborhood cats. This was not the only bit of animal rescue Exile #1 managed in the last week or so, but I'll leave that story to him.

In other news this week, Exile #4 hit double figures, dioramas and portfolios started drifting home and E5N1 had his end of school show of work. The children enthusiastically shared songs, hamming it up entirely for their going to the beach song and pulling every heart string for My Wish. Despite still feeling like newcomers to the class, it was hard not to be caught up in the exuberance (or was it hysteria? With 2 1/2 school days left to go I'm not sure...).

Have a great week and Happy Fathers' Day to all those being Dads out there!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 7.155: Portland Museum of Art

A few weeks ago, Exile #4 came home from school with a family day-pass for the Portland Museum of Art and with only a couple of weeks left to use it and a couple of busy weekends ahead, we decided today was the day.

It's a really nice museum with an engaging mix of permanent collection and temporary exhibits. We all had a good visit, although - not surprisingly - E5N1 was the quickest to tire of the quiet art admiration at each stage. The exhibit by Richard Estes would have been well worth the surcharge if anyone had asked us for it. Not sure if that mistake was ours or theirs (I only saw that there was supposed to be one now). His more-real-than-reality paintings were definitely a highlight.

We stayed for a couple of hours and then went to The Holy Donut for a generous snack before heading home for a rather less-important lunch.

This evening Exile #2, E5N1 and I watched England play Italy in their opening match in the World Cup while the girls found something "more important" to do. Oh well, I can't win them all (and neither can England).

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 7.154: Emergence day

It doesn't seem long ago that our little cup of caterpillars arrived and rapidly started gaining weight. Eventually they shed their final caterpillar skins to become these beautiful gilded chrysalides:

Yes - it's true - sadly Eric Carle - although beloved of children and presidents - got it wrong there is no cocoon building in the process.

Anyway, each chrysalis gradually lost its gilding and darkened and today, while I was home for lunch I managed to watch the penultimate butterfly emerge

This was how it looked just after that:

And here's one posing for the camera:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 7.153: Birds, bugs & flowers

Here are some of the things we saw on Saturday.

Swallows and a swallowtail:

A hitchhiker (I wonder it it was attracted to the stripe that would have been good camouflage?), a less welcome hitchhiker (albeit a wood-tick rather than its smaller-and-more-likely-to-carry-disease-and-be-undetected cousins), an amazing green beetle noticed by E5N1 (a six-spotted tiger beetle to be exact) and a rock covered in some kind of fungus (except it's not - it's thousands of tiny insects as Exile #4 pointed out):

And some flowers (so much easier to get to pose nicely!):

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 7.152: A double-digit birthday in two parts

We all got up pretty early this morning, so that Exile #4 could open her 10th birthday presents before Exile #3 had to leave for her school bus (at 6:40 am).

It was a fun time.

When I got home from work, Exile #2 was out taking E5N1 to a swimming lesson and soon afterwards I took Exile #4 out for her karate lesson. It was about 7 pm before we could all be together again for the other important birthday ritual:

So, it took all day, but we celebrated well.

Incidentally, you can see Exile #4's previous birthday photos (sorta-kinda) at last year's post. The PC I currently write these blog posts on does not have all my old photos - such a bad Dad!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 7.151: Mount Agamenticus

Finally, I'll tell you what we did on Saturday morning...

We hiked up Mount Agamenticus!

It's a small peak - a ski resort until 1974 and an easy and engaging hike for us.  This is how it went (up and) down:

The trails were a mix of footpaths in the wood and rocky ascents (and descents).

We discussed the strange light and how our eyes/brains did white balancing to make the light filtering through the trees look pink (as on the left below) even though what we (and the camera) were really seeing was more like the right hand side.

Once we came out onto the mostly tree-less summit, we saw first the amazing views - in all directions.

Here is the view out to sea and inland to the Presidential Range:

We also saw some remnants of its ski-resort past:

The "learning lodge" may seem like another one, but was actually purpose-built in 2010 and had some very nice exhibits for adults and children:

On the way down, E5N1 was distracted by the pages of a book arranged along the trails.

We came across most of them in reverse-order which probably only added to his enjoyment in trying to piece the story together.

We saw some other things, but I think that's enough for me (and probably for you) for today.