Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 7.324: Exile #2's Sunday Column #33

Exile #2 writes...

Somewhere over the weekend we shook off the post Thanksgiving stupor and turned around to see Christmas approaching fast. Suddenly, our Facebook feeds are full of friends standing in front of their newly erected Christmas trees. As usual, we feel a little reluctant to jump in so soon but we did take the time to put a modest sprinkling of lights up around our front door. We're hoping the snow will have melted before we venture out to find a Christmas tree. Talking of snow, our limbo dancing snow-girl finally keeled over during the night. She remains in one piece though, as if she might just get up again.

We spent a fun evening with friends from HopeGateWay. It turns out we are products of the same educational institution and one of them is fully British, despite having lived in the US for a long while. It was interesting to discuss our overlapping lives and have the refreshing experience of being able to eat British-style (fork left, knife right, both held throughout) without feeling impolite!

Now I'd better sign off and find that advent calendar...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 7.323: Out and about

My day started with a run (the first since Tuesday) in the cold morning air - it was 12°F (-11°C). After having breakfast obviously it was time to persuade the kids that today was the day for us to get out of the house. Fortunately we had an indoor activity in mind and they had one of their own to suggest, so we did them both.

Firstly, to the museum in Saco to see the Festival of Trees. We had fun choosing and voting for our favourite trees. We bought a few raffle tickets too and chose which prizes to be entered for. The prizes are various wreaths, a few of the smaller trees and some local business gift cards etc.

Afterwards, we went bowling. It's a small local independent business, so I like to think it counts as a contribution to small business Saturday.

By the way, "Pigtails" was still doing this at last light:

I don't think anyone knows how.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 7.322: White Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is a holiday for many people and is known (but not for any of the good reasons people think) as Black Friday. The traditional activity is shopping. Let's just say we've done a pretty good job of avoiding that American tradition during the last eight years.

Instead, we had more family time - making one outing for Exile #4 to gain her next belt at the karate dojo, but no shopping apart from a small grocery top-up.

"Pigtails", the snow-girl that the kids made yesterday started the day at this alarming angle:

Astonishingly, when I checked a couple of minutes ago, she is still "standing" - even more horizontal, but definitely bearing her own weight. Quite a feat of engineering!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 7.321: Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving at home today. It included sleeping late, gifts from E5N1 (homemade puzzles and games), shoveling (made easier by a neighbor with a snow-blower), a fantastic lunch, a snowgirl and her dog, a game, some Star Trek and some work on our musical project.

Some of it looked like this:

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 7.320: Yes - snow

As of some time on Monday afternoon I had no inkling that we had a big winter storm coming in today. But, surprisingly, that didn't stop it.

When I went to work there was still no sign of it - except in the weather forecasts, but that all changed around lunchtime.

This is a view from a window at work when it was just getting going and one a few minutes ago (of the deck of course - what else would I photograph during a snow storm?!)

New state, new house, same old blog posts!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 7.319: Sunday afternoon on the beach

Exile #2 mentioned that we had a walk on the beach on Sunday...

As for the present day, the kids have finished school for the week and tomorrow we have a winter storm rolling in.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 7.318: Good mornings

I'm back to doing some running after a break caused by post-race lack of enthusiasm, some niggly injuries and a musical project.

Morning running in the week means getting up in the dark, but at the weekend I can leave a bit later. This is what I woke up to on Saturday, and what I ran to on Sunday:

Not too bad, of course It helps that I enjoy the running part too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 7.317: Exile #2's Sunday Column #32

Exile #2 writes...

E5N1 had a birthday party to go to today, on the theme of princes and princesses. Having older sisters, E5N1 is in no way reluctant to costume up and went resplendent in robe and crown. He was greeted by cries of "it's Prince [E5N1]!", which, I expect, made his day. It sounded like much of the time was spent haring around the garden, fighting battles and falling to the floor over-dramatically.

He had already spent some of the morning careering about our garden with Exile #4 but just to make sure of his total exhaustion, we thought we'd have a stomp along the beach before it got dark. We walked the stretch from Ocean Park to Old Orchard Beach, which is now a ghost town. Houses are shuttered, the fairground is partially dismantled and covered and even the merchandise in the shop windows is wrapped for next season. Inevitably, the young Exiles are now hatching plans for next summer.

Oh, and while E5N1 was out exploring his regal side, someone else was conquering the world... Here's Exile #1, living up to his name:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 7.316: Twenty-twenty ends at forty (ish)

I last went to the opticians about five years ago after I started getting headaches and wondered if it was a result of working at a computer with fading vision. My eyesight was fine and the headaches were almost certainly the beginning of my body's rebellion against the airborne allergens of upstate New York.

Over the few months I've caught myself a few times moving books and my phone away from myself to try to read them - and of course then sometimes finding the typeface rather small. For a while I ignored it.

More recently, Exile #4 found out that she needed glasses (also spurred by headaches), but was advised that she did not need a custom prescription, she could just get some over-the-counter reading glasses. Then, one day, I tried them on and - suddenly the within-arm's-length-world was clear again.

So it was that yesterday I went to get my eyes tested and was similarly advised that I should get some reading glasses (slightly stronger than Exile #4's but basically the same kind), and today, I did just that.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 7.315: Circus, tiger

Exile #3 and E5N1, who are both taking (separate) hip-hop dance classes at the moment, went to the dance studio this evening to watch a Cirque du Soleil movie (and apparently eat a lot of snacks) while Exile #4 was at a group lesson/games night at her piano class.

Apart from the logistical excitement that was involved in delivering and collecting the appropriate children at the appropriate times, there was also this:


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 7.314: Throwback Thursday - as tall as...

Exile #2 took Exile #3 to see the doctor the other day. It was her second appointment there. I had taken her the first time - presumably in the spring. It turns out that she has grown an inch since then.

So instead of being as tall as a pile of wood like she was five years and a day ago (on Day 2.313):

...she is now only half an inch away from being as tall as her mother.

(she still likes to wear that hat though).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 7.313: One in 1.75 billion?

I just looked up how many smartphone users there are in the world and found that number, so we'll go with it.

At some point Google Now on my phone found out what sports teams I'm interested in and it updates me with fixture times, scores etc. I don't know if it found out by asking me or by reading my email (either is possible). Either way, I can't help wondering if any other of the 1,750,000,000 smartphone users in the world saw the following juxtaposition of notifications on the Saturday before last:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 7.312: Extreme Sour

About a week ago, Exile #4 decided to try a piece of "Extreme Sour" candy obtained on Halloween. She spat it out after about 5 seconds. A couple of days ago, she dared Exile #3 to try the second piece and, because she'd had a conversation at school about how sour candy is only sour for a few seconds, she accepted.

This is how it went down:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 7.311: Anyone for chess?

Yesterday morning I found E5N1 lining up Lego minifigures along the edge of a base and commented that it looked like he was making a chess set.

A little while later he had created these:

and after a few tweaks to the positioning, we were actually set up for a game:

The board is 32 by 32, so it works rather well as a chess board. We didn't have time to play then and there and, although I suggested he challenge Exile #4 later in the day, another game distracted her as Exile #2 mentioned yesterday.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 7.310: Exile #2's Sunday Column #31

Exile #2 writes...

The holiday season is warming up. Food drives are taking place along with collections of toys, hats and warm clothes. The stores are full of festive items and Exile #4 is working on her Christmas piano tunes. Which reminds me, those Christmas puddings are not going to make themselves...

These are the days of cozy gatherings. The light doesn't seem to last for long, even at the weekend but that gives us the perfect excuse to play board games and make music. This afternoon we played three hours of Risk and then had to take a full account of how everything stood so that we could pack it away for dinner.

The girls have plans to continue and conquer next time. I was doing rather nicely in North America but Exile #4 (who else?) has just made significant inroads into my territory via Alaska.

Maybe we're enjoying it all especially because this time last year we were living apart, keeping our festivities fairly modest (so that we could hastily tidy up for a viewing of our house) and using spare weekends to think about our future home in Maine. It's nice to look back and realize that we made it through.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 7.309: A chore or two

Well, we had things to do and we got on and did them.

Our first outing was to buy a replacement for the light fitting in the kitchen and a toy for E5N1 to donate to Toys for Tots and get some haircuts. E5N1 also spent some of his money that has been burning a hole in his pocket every time we've been out of the house for several weeks on a 3 in 1 Lego set. I try not to veto what they spend their own money on, but I have strongly discouraged some purchased recently and was very pleased with his choice today.

When we got home, he built one of the three models from the set all by himself - he was quite pleased:

Then there were leaves to rake. This picture is from last weekend, but it looked similar today except with added patches of snow on the ground and, thankfully, fewer leaves still on the trees.

Alas, there are still some to fall, so we will probably have to do one more rake this season unless the snow saves us.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 7.308: And so it begins

It's nearly two weeks since we had our first snow, but it was definitely a bit more convincing this morning.

This was the view as I was getting my shoes on for a snowy run with Exile #3 before school:

and here is E5N1 setting off for the bus stop at a more reasonable (but even snowier hour):

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 7.307: Throwback Thursday - three in a row

This is from Day 2.346 - nearly five years ago. We put all three of the kids in the back of my small car and drove into Manhattan.

They were quite excited:

and we were young and brave back then!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 7.306: My bathroom's number is 94

Am I the only person who, when walking into the bathroom and seeing this:

does not think about replacing bulbs or how many lights we actually need or anything about lighting at all, but calculates the decimal and hexadecimal representation of the binary number the bulbs are representing?


01011110 = 5E = 94

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 7.305: Armistice Day

It has been Veterans Day here in the US. I know several veterans of the US armed forces and at least two who are still serving, but there is a tendency for this day to be marked mostly because the kids have the day off school.

It was a work day for me, but Exile #2 had created a little something to remind us all of why there was no school today, even if it bore more resemblance to the UK marking of Remembrance/Armistice Day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 7.304: Mackworth - our annual visit?

After we left Eartha, on our way home from L.L.Bean on Saturday (Day 7.302), we decided to make a quick stop to enjoy the perfect fall weather at Mackworth Island. I commented as we were making the small detour that it was probably almost exactly a year since we'd visited it together (I ran around it a few times during my weekend runs when I was in Portland) and I was quite right. It was on Day 6.303 - also another day when we visited the mall funnily enough - and I wrote about our visit to the island a few days later.

We were amazed by the clear water (except where it was blanketed in fallen leaves) and by the fallen leaves - especially those making patterns in the water

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 7.303: Exile #2's Sunday Column #30

Exile #2 writes...

Exile #1 and I are not people who enjoy hanging around malls. In fact, so infrequently do we go to malls that the young Exiles are quite wide-eyed when we do. Despite our best attempts, however, there are times when it cannot be avoided and yesterday was one of those days. With the temperatures beginning to dip, it was time to take L.L.Bean up on their total satisfaction guarantee and return Exile #3's coat (pristine but for a broken zipper) for a replacement. That done (and after a quick trip around the world), we headed home, lest we be tempted to spend any more money.

Today, however, after church, we dropped into the Goodwill store to make some donations and before we knew it, we were browsing. I have always had a soft spot for thrift stores and charity shops. There is something much more fun about rummaging through a random assortment than selecting from a carefully curated collection.

Soon,we had a cartful of clothes and urged on by Exile #4, the board game Risk - a snip at 1 dollar. Anyone who knows Exile #4 will realize that a game based on total world domination is right up her street (she beat us all at Monopoly yesterday) and I'm sure we'll live to regret it. Still, we all left with some nice additions to our wardrobes and not too large a dent in our wallets.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 7.302: E5N1 - dual nationality boy

Yesterday at school E5N1 had a pajama party. He was able to take one small stuffed toy and the one he chose was a bear with, "Proud to be an American" written across its front.

Today he wore his Union Flag hoody and we looked at the USA on a record breaking globe.

I think that pretty much sums things up.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Day 7.301: S is for Saw this and thought of me

If I thought getting home from work (via varied chauffeuring duties) at 6:40 pm last night was late, I didn't make it through the door until 8:45 this evening. It was for a nice reason though - an excellent meal with a group from church including our hosts who were some of the first to welcome me when I showed up there all alone as a temporarily family-less Portland resident a year ago.

And, on top of a nice meal and three hours spent in good company - I also got this hilarious A-Z of the craziness of running. Now, I'm pretty sure when you turn up for dinner at friends who've recently become parents you're not the one who's supposed to get the gift.

Friends can be pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 7.300: Throwback Thursday - mystery liquid

I spent most of the day in a single meeting and most of the evening ferrying Exile #4 to her second Maine piano lesson and back via E5N1's first ever dance class. This evening I discovered we had issues with our PC backups, so while that situation is being rectified, here's another throwback from my Dad's archives.

I love everything about this photo - the clothes, the half-pint of lager, the expressions, ...

...but most of all, the bottle of mystery liquid on the floor!