Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Trip

Finally! I can now 'talk' about our trip to Florida!! We have been planning a trip back to Florida for several weeks now; however, it was to be a surprise for my mother-in-law as well as our kids. You just don't know how many times Karl and I mentioned something and had to back-pedal to cover it up and keep the kids from finding out...

Karl had a business trip scheduled to Florida. It just so happened that it was going to fall on the day of his mom's birthday, so he was planning to stay an extra day to surprise her with a visit. But, when we talked about it, he realized I would really love to go too, and the sweetie that he is, he got tickets for all of us. Thank you, darlin'! We decided to keep it a secret...only Karl's Dad knew, or so we thought. It turns our that Karl's brother and many of Pearl and Ron's friends knew too, but we were amazingly ALL able to keep it under our hats. :) So, I packed secretly..the kids hadn't a clue. We woke the kids up Tuesday morning at 3:30 and told them to get dressed. They wanted to know why we were getting up early, but there was no crying and whining like I thought we might get. We fed them breakfast, and were able to hold off until we were right at the airport; at that point Logan guessed we may be going to Florida. Karl and I did not answer, however, so he thought he was wrong. It was not until we were in the line for security that we actually said to them, "Yes, we are going to Florida." To say the least, they were very excited! I had already emailed some of our friends there, and we had a dinner planned for that night, and a beach day on Wednesday.

Tuesday, we just had lunch once we got there, and headed to the hotel. We decided we all needed a bit of rest before our planned late night. Corbin and Hailey ended up sleeping 1.5 to 2 hours respectively; Karl dozed for a bit too. Logan and I are perpetually unable to sleep when we need to, so we just kind of hung out and read a while! After naps, we went out on the beach. It was about 55 degrees, so kind of chilly, but we enjoyed it so much! We found lots of shells and examined jellyfish; the kids had a great time running on the beach in the wind, and into the waves, and Karl took advantage of many photo opportunities. I forgot to mention...when we stepped off the plane the first thing I did was take in a large breath of air to see if I could get a good whiff of the ocean. I was so happy to be back; growing up in the south that smell has been a mainstay, and I have to say I've really missed it! Anyway, we soon headed out to meet our friends at Jason's Deli for dinner. It was so nice to see their faces again and talk about what we've all been up to. The kids and adults all had a wonderful time.

Wednesday morning, Karl had a presentation to do at work, and then lunch with some colleagues. The kids and I met another family at the beach and spent a wonderful two hours catching up and playing. I'm so thankful for the Christian women in my life; it's always a pleasure to chat and see how God is working in others' lives! And watching the kids play together is always a joy....

Wednesday afternoon, Karl met us at the hotel and we loaded up to drive down to Vero Beach, where Karl's parents live. We had collaborated with Karl's dad and decided to pick up a cake for Pearl on the way to their house. When we arrived, alerting Karl's dad just minutes before, we called Pearl and sang 'Happy Birthday' to her over the phone. She still thought we were in New York. Then, we sent the kids to the front door, not ringing the door bell, to sing again. However, she did not hear them, so we rang the doorbell after some confused pointing by Ron and looking by all of us! :p All I can say is that the people in Florida have probably never heard such whooping and hollering in their lives! Pearl was so surprised and very happy to see us and "my babies" as she calls her grandchildren! We spent the night with them, enjoying pizza together, and homemade waffles the next morning.

Karl had some more business at work on Thursday, so we headed back to Palm Bay. I took the kids by the school they used to attend, which is located at the church we used to attend there. We got to see a few past teachers, as well as a close friend that I previously worked with at the school. We again met some friends for lunch at Chic Filet, an old favorite hang out for us. I've missed their Cookies-n-Cream milkshakes, but it's probably best that I can't get them here! We had a nice time talking and eating (and the kids playing on the playground). After that, we traveled to the church, where a Webkinz party was in session. The homeschool ladies there were very gracious in inviting us, even though we are no longer members of that homeschool group. Thank you! It was awesome to see all the familiar faces, as well as the unfamiliar ones that indicate growth in the group. The kids had a super time, and I'm so glad they had the opportunity to attend.

Thursday evening Karl spent some time with some more friends from work, while I had dinner with my former colleague and friend, Stephanie, and her kids. We had some yummy pizza from Bizarro Pizza, then went back to walk on the beach for a while. Again, it was so nice to catch up, and I miss her already! Hailey had stayed for a sleep over with a friend, so the boys and I just spent the rest of the evening on the beach and at the hotel.

Friday morning we had breakfast at IHOP, then headed back to Vero Beach for a little more time with Karl's parents before leaving Friday evening. The kids enjoyed walking in the neighborhood with Grandma, and playing with the Wii that their grandparents own...I think Ron is as much into it as they are! We had some burgers with them for lunch and some leftover birthday cake before driving back to Melbourne for our flight.

Now, I don't know about all of you, but we've been hearing of all of the flight delays and cancellations with Southwest in the past weeks. Well, Thursday night I saw on the news that Delta (who we were flying with) had some problems with that on Thursday. So, I told Karl, and he set up his phone so we would get notifications of any changes right up to our flight's departure. We received a couple on the way to Melbourne, just changing it by about 20 minutes. By the time we got there, the flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20 instead of 6:30, with a connection leaving Atlanta at 9:21. For some reason the flights from there to Atlanta are longer than the ones from Atlanta to Melbourne...? Anyway, by the time our flight arrived in Atlanta and we got off the plane, it was about 9:15. We had to catch the train from our terminal to three terminals over, then run all the way to our gate (which of course was at the last gate in that terminal!). I ended up running ahead with the tickets to see if the plane was still there; the board had said the flight was closed when we got there. Karl was carrying both our carry-on bags and Corbin, and trying to run....we were too late, :( and watched our plane pull away from the gate. Karl then led us all through the airport to a customer service desk where he arranged for tickets leaving at 8:00 the next morning and for a hotel that night. I sat with the kids trying to keep them busy; I have to say they did great, not really any whining. We all read books. By the time he finished (many people missed their flights, so he had been about 30 or so in line) it was nearing 11:00 p.m. We grabbed some food from Atlanta Bread in the airport, then made our way to the shuttle, which took us to our hotel. We go to the hotel, ate our dinner at about 12:00 a.m., and were all in bed by 1:00a.m. We then awoke at 5:00 a.m., caught the shuttle at 5:30 a.m. for an 8:00 a.m. flight. We had enough time after getting through security to eat a leisurely breakfast; on Delta's dollar. Leaving the restaurant at 7:00 a.m. we made our way to our gate. Upon arriving there at about 7:15 a.m. we were told our gate had been moved. WHAT!!! So, we then caught the train and went to the new gate....it was okay, the plane was still there this time. Actually, after sitting for a few minutes wondering why they weren't boarding yet, we soon heard an announcement that the plane was late. (Oh no, not again!?) It was re-scheduled to leave at 8:30 a.m., and fortunately, this was the actual departure time. Yeah! We arrived two hours later in Rochester, to a sunny 26 degrees. It was 84 degrees when we left Florida the day before....what a HUGE difference. But, today it got up to 52 degrees; very odd. :) We got our bags, grabbed some sandwiches from Subway (again on Delta's dollar), and drove home to enjoy our lunch in the quiet of our own home. Aaaaaahh....

So, that was our trip. We had such a great time, even with all the trouble with our return flight, etc. The kids traveled so well, and Karl and I were even able to sit next to each other some of the time to talk. All of the flight attendants were very accommodating, so that's a plus for Delta. I do have to say though, their agents at the customer service desk were less than the best. At least the first one we dealt with...she left in the middle of rescheduling tickets for us when a fight broke out at another gate. I made the assumption that she was going to help break it up...not so. She left us at the desk to go watch a fight! I couldn't believe it...apparently a customer hit an agent (over a delay, I'm sure) and of course went off to jail. We were irritated about the delays and such, but it's just not worth all that, is it? Still, their customer service agents leave a lot to be desired.

I miss the sea air already, and the warm weather, and all of our friends and family. You all mean so much to us; thank you for being a part of our lives. We love you very much!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lego Logistics

I believe I've mentioned before how into Legos both Logan and Corbin are. Logan has been a member of the Lego Club, he participated in a Lego League here in New York in the fall, and he now receives the Lego Magazine. He received his magazine for March sometime last week. As he was reading through it, he discovered that Lego is having a contest. He has to build 'something' with Legos, take a picture to send in, and also write an essay about what his 'thing' does, etc. This is right up his alley! So, he built this large, detailed ship on Friday and it looks great. Friday evening after Karl had returned home from work and we had already eaten dinner, I asked Logan if he had showed Dad his ship. He had, but this got he and Corbin back on the Lego topic. Logan began to discuss his essay and what he is going to write. I was in the kitchen washing dishes, and Karl was drying; Corbin comes to me with a sheet of paper talking of how he wants to write an essay too, and I can help him. I begin to explain to him that he's really not old enough to write an essay yet and that it has to be something he has written...when he comes out with, "Yes I can. I can write an 'S' and a 'A'." He was so serious and very, very cute. I just love those little moments!

We had to take a picture of Corbin's Lego ship, too!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A 'Buzz' About Bees

A couple of months ago, I bought a new game for the kids. I was thinking mainly of Corbin and Hailey when I got it, but knew we could all play it. It's called Spelling Beez. It is a board game, where you are moving pawns (bees) around the board and reading fact cards each time. You have to draw a card to tell you how many spaces to move or to which letter to move. The object of the game is to collect letters (found on each space) that match the letters in your game word (found on the game word honeycomb each player has). As you 'collect' your letter, you color it in on the honeycomb; the game is over when everyone has colored in their word. This is the easy version so Corbin could play; there is another version we have not played yet, that I will not explain here. The game is meant to help younger students learn to spell common words such as car, peach, boy, game, etc. We decided to play this morning for the first time. Each player also has to chose 2 'fact' cards to read during his/her turn. We learned many interesting things about bees, and I'm going to share some of that here. It is funny how it worked out; we've been studying plant life and pollination, etc. in school for Hailey and Logan. Read these facts to see what you know!

1. Mead is a wine made from honey.
2. Drone (male) bees do not have stingers.
3. The queen bee has a stinger but she does not lose her stinger when she stings. She uses it to sting rival queens that may develop!
4. Honeybees have 4 wings and 6 legs.
5.The worker bees are only female! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Handwriting Practice and Reading

I began working more with Corbin a couple of weeks ago; on handwriting, numbers, a Phonics program called Reading Made Easy.

We've done four lessons in RME and he's become familiar with the aaaa (short a) sound, and the p and mmm sounds. So, with help, he can 'read' the sounds am and ap. We will continue to work with these sounds in future lessons. We've also played some listening games where he tells me which word has the aaa sound. And of course, we like to read books together.

For Handwriting we are using a curriculum called A Reason For Handwriting, which is the same we are using with Logan and Hailey, just different levels. He has been working on tracing/writing circles (o's) properly, and today he worked on those, as well as straight and slanted lines. He already knows how to spell and write his name, so I always have him print his name on his paper. He will also sometimes, on his own, try to copy things I've written on the board for the others. I just let him do that; it keeps him busy! We won't start formal copy work until 1st grade I don't think.

In Math, we are learning to count to twenty; he can already count to ten and part-way to twenty but doesn't get the second half all correct. He is able to write numbers 1-5, and understands the relationship between each number and that number of objects. The curriculum we are using for this subject is Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics.

We have some books for History and Science, too. However, I'm sure he will not retain as much of those things. We do discuss, with all of the kids, locations of places. We have a world map, a map of the U.S., and a map of North America on our walls in the dining room. Often, after dinner, one of the kids will ask a question about some state or country, so we will point out where it is or talk about who lives there, etc. Last night we did this; Corbin was asking me about various states and he wanted to know the names. As he was pointing to two and telling me the colors so I would know which ones he meant, he said, "What are the brown and green ones up there by Canada?" No joke, my 4 year old asked me this! (he meant North and South Dakota) So, he is remembering some of these things we talk about. I'm so pleased that he is learning, actually, that they all are learning so much. And Geography (and math) has always been a weakness with me, so I'm especially glad that my kids seem to have a good grasp on it for their ages. Of course, I'm learning too, and I love that!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick

Today, since it's St. Patrick's Day, I had saved a biography about him we were scheduled to read...just for today. While studying the Medieval Times, we have been learning that Christianity really became prominent during that time. The Roman Catholic Church had a big role in society. The monks and nuns working in the monasteries and convents helped people who had the plague, provided food and shelter for weary travelers, and as we're learning in The Door in the Wall, may have provided homes for orphaned children. St. Patrick was just one of the recommended people we should read about, but I thought it might be fun to do this on the holiday...

While reading this story today we learned several things: (1) St. Patrick was not from Ireland, he was from Britain. His ministry was in Ireland, and he played a major part in converting that country to Christianity. (2) St. Patrick was 16 when he was captured and enslaved. He worked on a 'farm' of sorts, in Ireland, tending sheep for 6 years. It was hard work but he was not treated badly. While there, he prayed many times each day and became closer to God. When he felt God was telling him he should leave, he escaped to the seashore where a ship was waiting for him (God told him it would be there). The captain at first would not let him travel with him, but after Patrick prayed, he changed his mind and returned Patrick to his home. (3) Patrick's family did not want him to travel to Ireland, even though he felt it was God's call on his life. Patrick decided to do what he felt God was telling him to do; he spent several years in Gaul (now France) studying and preparing for his work. Even though he missed his family, he set out to spread the 'good news'. He faced many dangerous situations, was threatened, imprisoned, and enslaved again. However, he always trusted God for his protection. After 14 days, he was set free. (4) St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 (approx). He became Ireland's patron saint. The work he did continued through the monks, nuns, and priests he left behind.

A quote by St. Patrick:

"We ought to fish well and diligently as the Lord teaches, saying,'I will make you fishers of men.' We should spread our nets to take a great throng for God. Everywhere there should be clergy to baptize and exhort the poverty-stricken and needy folk."

I found this in the book Saint Patrick, written by Ann Tompert.

The story we read got its facts from Confession, a letter that St. Patrick wrote in his later years. You can read it at http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Stories/St.Patrick.Confession.html. Though we do not make a practice of studying 'saints' I thought this was a very interesting story, and learned some things I never learned in school, or elsewhere. I plan to go back and read The Confession in its entirety, simply because I'm interested. You should read it too, when you have the time.

Just Rambling

It's been almost a week since I've posted anything; we just haven't been up to much. I finally got the paperwork sent off for the kids' baseball registration. They will begin playing on Friday evenings toward the end of April, and the season goes 'til the end of June. I'm excited for them to do a team sport; things they've done up 'til now have really just been individual. I guess Logan's wrestling team was a 'team'...so, besides that. Karl and I will have to watch them separately, as Logan and Hailey are on one field while Corbin plays at the other. Or, we may spend half our time watching Logan and Hailey, then the other half watching Corbin. I'm just not sure...we'll have to see how things work out the first night.

SAT's are coming up in May. The homeschool group here doesn't really recommend testing students younger than 4th grade, because so many are still learning to read, etc. and skill levels vary so much. NY does not require a test score every year, but every other year, until High School. Until then, parents can submit a written narrative to describe their child's school year on the 'off' years from SAT's. We had other test options too, such as the PASS test, which can be administered at home by the parent, or the Iowa test. We decided to stick with what the kids are familiar with. We are going to test Hailey, simply because we did it last year in Florida and we want to see how and where she's improved, as well as what still needs work. Logan will probably be tested every year because he's been doing this, even in the private school he attended, since 1st grade. He tests well, but it's still fun to see how he does, and there could come a time when he will have an area of weakness.

Well, I just got a call. I have to save my husband...he locked his keys in the car. I get to be his hero...more later.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ice Skating Competition

Today we all attended Hailey's ice skating competition. It was such fun to watch all of the different ages and skill levels perform, and the relay was exciting! Hailey did a great job. I think she was a bit nervous about being on the ice, performing alone in front of parents, etc., but she didn't let that stop her. She did have a bit of trouble toward the end with her feet, though. I didn't know until we were at the rink getting her ice skates on that she did not wear socks over her tights. She always wears tights under her leggings, with a pair of sock over those, to practice, so it didn't occur to me to check. It turns out that, after her performance in the relay, we saw one of the captains taking her off the ice. So, I went to see what was up. Apparently, not having the socks really took a toll. She was very upset and crying because her feet were hurting from the cold. So, I helped her get her warm snow boots on and sent her to the lobby to wait for me to gather her dad and brothers. She was fine once she warmed up. :) She did receive a medal for participating, as well as a draw-string type back-pack with the name of the team and competition date on it. Very nice, and she is very glad (as am I) she had the chance to be instructed in ice-skating. If we are still here next fall, she and her brothers will be taking classes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A LOT of Snow

Shoveling snow is hard work! From Friday afternoon to this morning we were hearing that we were going to get anywhere from 1-2 feet of snow. I didn't actually measure it this time, but Karl and I think we got about a foot of snow here. The weather guy says we got 9 inches on Saturday alone.

We took a walk to the library during a lull in the weather on Saturday. Here I am offering Hailey a little support, as she was still a bit weak from her illness.

Logan and Corbin rest briefly on a snow-covered bench outside the library.

Several bordering counties have many people without power, and will be until Tuesday, so I'm glad we avoided the worst of the storm. We spent part of today shoveling the driveway while the kids played. It was fun. Karl and I traded off using the BIG shovel, while the other used one of the kids' shovels. I spent some of the time on my knees, simply because it was easier on my back that way! We do still have some snow and ice on the driveway, but the weather is supposed to warm up toward the middle of the week, and it should melt then. We have heard that this could be the last big storm of the year; we'll see. As much as we love the snow.... we are all looking forward to some warmer weather.....

Hailey's ice skating competition is on Tuesday. She is finally over her cold and feeling better. I think she's getting excited about the competition. I know we're looking forward to watching her perform!

The kids will all start swim lessons again on Wednesday. It'll be nice to have them getting some regular instruction and exercise again. I think they're looking forward to it, too. Hopefully, by summer, Corbin will be able to swim without his life jacket. We'll have to see what happens.

Well, we're looking forward to another good week studying the Middle Ages; we've learned some interesting things. Did you know the first castles were built out of wood? However, they were too easy for the enemy to burn down. Did you know that once they began building their castles out of stone/rocks, the rocks were dug by hand? It could take up to 20 years to build a castle! We plan to learn more about knights, castles, and the customs of the Medieval people this week. What have you been learning?

Friday, March 7, 2008

CA Homeschooling Law Change

Here are a couple of links to check out regarding the changes that have just taken place regarding CA homeschool law.

Petition: http://www.hslda.org/Default.asp?bhcp=1

Dr. James Dobson: http://www.oneplace.com/Ministries/Focus_on_the_Family/Default.asp
I know many of you do not homeschool, and these laws may not concern you directly; however, this ruling could potentially affect all homeschoolers across the nation by setting a precedent for future cases. Please visit these sites, and prayerfully consider whether you can sign this petition to try and overturn the ruling.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Happy Homecoming

Karl arrived home a bit after 7:00 p.m. last night, and we were so happy to see him! He and I managed to keep it a secret, so the kids were overjoyed when he just showed up. Their little faces lit up with delight, and the boys came running. Hailey, being ill, stayed on the couch and waited for Daddy to come to her, but I know she was happy to see him, too. She perked up a bit, and sat up more so she could see him. :) I have to admit, I couldn't quit looking at him either! It's just so nice to have the family all together again.

AND, he came bearing gifts. He brought me a t-shirt from England-made by the company Glorious Britain (heehee).
He also brought me some specialty chocolates made by Hotel Chocolat. Now, I am very much a Coca Cola fan, so he also acquired some coke products for me. Two cans, and a bottle. They are, of course, measured in ml. One is very tiny. Very special; I plan to save them and display them, although I did consider drinking them.

For the kids, he also brought a chocolate bar; Belgian Dark Chocolate Orange Cream, from the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, (he says none of them felt 'fancy' enough to stay there!)which is where he stayed while in Romania. He did admit later that he actually brought two of those, but ate part of the other one! I guess he's entitled. The chocolate bar actually reminds me a bit of the chocolate Aunt Charlotte used to bring home for us when she would go visit her family in Germany. Although, I remember those being longer and much wider. The other items Karl brought for the kids were some breakfast bars called kat kat tat. There's one with strawberry filling, one with hazelnut cocoa cream filling, and one with apricot filling. We may all have a taste of those after dinner tonight.

I'm hoping that Karl will get to post some more pictures soon. He said things were so busy in Romania, he really didn't have time to do any blogging. So, check back here later, you may get a glimpse of a bit of that country.

In other news...the kids and I began reading The Magician's Nephew last night. C.S. Lewis is such a great writer; we absolutely loved The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe, and made sure we read the book before the movie came out. And this one is proving to be another great story. Now, I've been told that it won't matter if we read all of the previous books before watching Prince Caspian when it comes out in May, but I'm just that way. So, we are going to try to read The Magician's Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, and Prince Caspian, all before May. Ambitious, I know, but I can't stand to read things 'out of order', even when it wouldn't really matter. ;) That's what we'll be doing for our pre-bedtime reading.

For school, we just started studying the Middle Ages, and our literature selection right now is The Door in the Wall. I've never read this book, so I'm enjoying it immensly. Our next selection is Adam of the Road, which I am not familiar with either, but I'm sure it will be great. We will also read many books about the Middle Ages, knights, castles, and the Vikings, to become familiar with the history of this time period. We will be memorizing the books of the Bible, and learning about the history of the Bible; how our Bible came to us. In Science we will study plants and trees and their life cycles, learning to draw and label different ones. Music and art will consist of learning about, and possibly trying our hand at, whittling, and listening to Medieval music if we can find a CD. We will also be spending some time trying to learn a bit of calligraphy.

Corbin just began his Kindergarten curriculum this week. We will be working through it very slowly to begin with. However, he is enjoying it, and asks me every day, "When am I gonna do school?" We are going to learn the continents over the next couple of weeks, and work on writing numbers 1-5. We will read many books, practice the letters, and begin learning their sounds. I hope to have some pictures of our first week ready soon. He can already spell and write his name, name most of the alphabet, and is familiar with some of the letter sounds. He likes to do "copy work" and adores books and being read to. We are both very excited about this new stage in our lives. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cold and Cloudy

I know..it seems as if all I ever "talk" about is the weather! But, I just can't get over the way things change around here. My last post was about having warm weather. The very next day it was back in the 30's, which is still nice compared to 10 degrees. :) Although a lot of the snow had melted due to the sun and the warmer weather, last night brought freezing rain and snow, about 2 inches I think. It's overcast and there are icicles everywhere; hanging from the roof of the house, on the car, on the mailbox, etc. The trees are once again covered, and I love to look at them.

Hailey is still recovering from her cold, though her fever seems to be gone for now. She is still feeling weak and doesn't want to eat much. I am trying to make sure she is staying hydrated and getting lots of rest. She will have several days of school work to catch up on when she's better! I hope she's the last of the sick ones and it doesn't make the rounds again. :(

I have great news today: Karl is coming home two days early. He informed me by telephone yesterday that their business in Romania was finished, and they were leaving at 4 a.m. this morning. Yeah!! I'm so glad he's coming home. He is at Dulles Airport now waiting for the last leg of his flight. He should be here around 7:30 p.m. I know he's glad to be back in the country; looking forward to home-cooked food and his own bed!

Well, I need to prepare dinner and make sure the house isn't too messy. I'll be back later this week.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunny and Warm

Today, we have a projected high of 51 degrees. However, my thermometer already shows that we are nearing 60 degrees here. I have actually opened many of our windows and turned the heat off, to take advantage of the comfortable breezes and sunshine. The cats are certainly enjoying themselves; sitting on the windowsills and watching whatever is outside. I did hear some birds singing this morning...There is still snow on the ground but much of it has melted. So far, the 'cave' the kids built with Paw-Paw is still standing. I hope it makes it 'til Friday so Karl can see it! We have not gone outside, though, to enjoy the weather. Hailey is sick and the boys are still recovering. I know cold weather does not cause illness, germs do, but I don't think they have the energy today. It's too bad, because it's a beautiful day. Maybe we could just go sit on the deck....We still have some reading to do, maybe we'll go outdoors for that.

Hailey is nearing the end of her ice skating lessons. Her last class is tomorrow (she probably won't go as she has a fever) and next Tuesday morning is her competition. The whole family is planning to attend; she's excited that Daddy will get to see her skate. And of course about the medal she will receive for her participation. She's had a lot of fun and done a great job. We're proud of her.

That's all for now. I need to go spend some time with the kids. More schooling to do...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Off to the Airport

Mom and Dad are in the Sedan Service's car on their way to the airport. (Again, I do not drive in the snow, and we thought it best to plan ahead for transportation so as to avoid stress all around!) I woke them up at 5:30 a.m. for a 6:15 a.m. pick-up. They ate breakfast, and the car was early, so we got them off a bit ahead of schedule. However, when I came back in I thought to check to make sure Mom took her insulin, etc. with her. Alas, she did not! So, I called the service and they sent the car back around to pick that up. Even after the detour back here, they were on the road again by 6:20 a.m., which is still on schedule. Now, we are just waiting to hear when they get home, and how things went. Hopefully all of the airport/airlines staff will be helpful and kind, as Mom has a bit of difficulty getting around. She and Dad both said everyone was really nice on their flight here, so I'm sure things will be fine on the way back.

In other news, Karl is now in flight to Romania. He will land this afternoon and spend the next 4 business days there, in meetings, I think. He is hoping to post some pictures if possible, but he isn't sure what kind of time he will have for that. I have really enjoyed his pictures and commentary on England, and I hope you all have, too. We are managing without him here, but we miss him very much and can't wait to see him next weekend. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we wait for his arrival! :)

Well, it's early here, and I can think of nothing else of interest to write about. I don't think my brain works very well before 7:00 a.m. More later...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Order dinner and get a new friend.

Lesson 3: Never order seafood outside of the U.S.
Last night (Friday) was our final night with the customer in the UK, and the weather forecast was iffy, so I picked a tiny Italian restaurant within walking distance from the hotel that didn’t require me to leave a credit card number to reserve a table. That way if the heavens opened at the last minute we could just eat at the hotel without incurring fees for canceling transportation and dinner reservations. Luckily the troposphere cooperated and we were able to enjoy a pleasant walk to dinner.

Laurentiu ordered sea bass, which at the time sounded quite good to me, but I was eyeing a tuna dish that they had on special. I was all set to order when I made a last minute course correction in favor of the chicken fettuccini.
It had been a full day for all of us, so there was happiness all around when the food arrived. The first dishes to be served were the orders of sea bass. Creepy how the eyes seem to follow you isn't it? At that moment I kind of imagined the table collapsing under the weight had I ordered the tuna. Although my Romanian friends didn’t seem at all concerned, the arrival of the food confirmed my choice.

Now that’s what I’m talking about. After introducing himself to his food, Laurentiu, seeing all the vegetables in my pasta, commented on my healthy choice. I, in turn, commented that his looked very friendly as well.
So I’m not the biggest fan of boiled or steamed tomatoes, and there were also a few peppers left on my plate when I was finished. Laurentiu noticed this and said “Karl, you left all the healthy things on your plate!” Remembering one of my previous lessons in Romanian proverbs, I responded “i fudulie!” He seemed impressed, as did what was left of his fish.

Overall we had a good time together and I wish my new friends the best life can offer and safe travels on their way home.

Big Ben and Parliament House

You know how sometimes you hear of a place or an object that is a must see experience, then see a photograph and wonder what all the fuss is about. For me this was one of those places. I’ve seen countless pictures of the London Clock Tower, often referred to as Big Ben, and thought that it seemed cool and that was pretty much the end of it. I didn’t realize it was actually part of the Parliament Building that sits on the bank of the River Thames. Holy Smokes this place is unbelievable! These are some of the pictures I took. Believe me, they don’t begin to capture the beauty and enormity of this structure.

A shot of Victoria Tower from the Grounds below.

This was taken from the gardens to the south of the Parliament building

The ubiquitous "I was here" photo taken from the Westminster Bridge over the Thames.

A new street

When I visit any new town I usually start out with the tourist attractions, the buildings that you have to see, the popular parks and so on. But my attention is quickly drawn to the little differences from where I happen to be and where I have come from. In England those differences are not so subtle. I am just beginning to get used to people driving in the left hand lane. And in London, no car is more visible than the London Black Cab. They aren't all Black. That's just what they're called. Kind of like the Yellow Cab in NYC. The first thing I thought when I saw one was "what an interesting little car." It seemed so well preserved for such an old vehicle. Next thing I new the whole city seemed to be swallowed with them. I quickly realized that they weren't old at all, just retro by design. Strange, but it does seem very "British".

Another obvious difference is the police force, referred to as Bobbies, carrying no firearms and wearing their tall helmets. We’ve all seen them on TV but it is even more amusing to actually walk past one of them. I caught these guys taking a break from the action to discuss politics for a moment.

One perk of the Job, many patrol cars that I’ve seen have been BMW 5 series or Jaguars.

No doubt the first thing that I noticed upon landing in London was all the different cars on the road here that aren’t even available in the States. The second was the comparatively huge number of what we would consider “luxury imports”. Mercedes is like Ford here, and there is no shortage of Aston Martin or Audi either.

And in case you were wondering, yes black does seem to be a very popular color for cars around here.

Walking in London

I spent the last couple days walking around London. The weather has been better than expected, so that’s been nice. I gotta say, though, that I can’t help but wish that Wendy was here to enjoy this with me. I’ve taken a few interesting shots along the way. See what you think.

These Trees line the eastern pathway of Hyde Park. I'm not sure what they are but they sure look spooky

Some very Official looking Horsemen passing by Buckingham Palace

Feeding the Pigeons

Picadilly Circus reminded me very much of New York's Time Square. It was considerably less flashy, but it still caught me off guard to walk around the corner amidst all these 50-100 year old structures and see five floors of video board advertising everything from consumer electronics to Coca-Cola.

I caught this gentleman climbing out on a ledge to clean a window on Knightsbridge road...

These Schoolboys were gathered in Victoria Tower Gardens and decided to snap a group photo. I couldn't help but take a candid shot myself.