Life continues to be rough, though I think I'...

August 31, 2009 by Adam in Family

Life continues to be rough, though I think I'm finding that elusive path out of the brambles.

Sunday morning the kids and I went out to breakfast with my mom. I think I ate half of half an order of oatmeal and a piece of toast. As a sign of my stress levels, I only managed two cups of coffee instead of my usual four. This morning I managed to eat my oatmeal without much problem, which seemed positive. Perhaps it was my night of staying up and formulating action plans. It's almost funny how little sleep I need these days.

On Sunday afternoon Jamie, the kids, and I all went over to Dave and Kirsten's house to have a picnic. The kids went swimming in the murky reservoir water, having a wonderful time. I waded around, not really keen on complete submersion. Jamie told her dad and brother about what's going on between us. It surprised me a little, as she usually keeps those things to herself. I suppose it's a sign of how serious she's taking things. I had fun riding back in the car with Emma as she tried on her paper magician's outfit.

I'm going to hop in the shower shortly. Perhaps when I get to work I can start making to do lists, which seem to lift my spirits immensely.

It was a very busy day

August 30, 2009 by Adam in Family

It was a very busy day. After breakfast, the kids and I played in the basement, creating rocket ships out of couches. Later we met up with my dad to get Jordan and the model rocket supplies. Last night Emma really wanted to make a rocket, so I dutifully took her to Eugene Toy and Hobby to pick one out. We had a great time launching them. Even our first launch where I forgot to take off the safety cap was pretty funny. We had a few times when we almost lost them, missing the school roof by a few feet, going into a construction zone, and getting caught in a tree. Fortunately my dad had a really long pole, so we rescued it and went off to lunch at Humble Bagel. After that was a library trip. Sam was getting pretty tired since he had very little sleep last night. Emma made out like a bandit, but Sam was content to stick with rereading his Harry Potter books. We finally returned home for quiet time before going on our final adventure. We drove over to my dad and sisters, playing in the pool, hot tub, and trampoline. The kids had a pretty good time, with Emma and Jordan spending a ton of time in the pool. Eventually Jenny called us inside for dinner. It was quite pleasant, a nice contrast to the usual massive gatherings. Eventually it was time to go. Sam had a little leftover pizza, and Emma's nearly finished with the cheesecake I made last weekend. The kids bundled off to bed pretty quickly and now the house is very quiet.

I'm hoping that the mystical powers of Mocha ...

August 28, 2009 by Adam in Family

I'm hoping that the mystical powers of Mocha Friday can lift my spirits today. If not that, then maybe pizza and Mythbusters night can manage.

It's been a hard week, and I'm working hard to get moving in the direction of okay. On a positive note, I had my annual review at work yesterday. I was rated extremely well. Sadly with the pay freeze in effect, it's just a pat on the back, albeit a nice one.

I think tonight will be our traditional pizza and Mythbusters, as mentioned previously. Sam's been wanting to shoot off rockets, so I'll see if I can get my dad to meet up with the kids and I in a park and launch assorted things. Later on we're going to my sister's for swimming and dinner.

Sunday we're meeting up with Dave, Kirsten, and grandpa Ray, then heading to Fern Ridge for a picnic. Hopefully the gorgeous weather will continue.

I'm tentatively planning a trip to Portland with the kids next weekend, giving Jamie some time to herself and having a final adventure before school starts.

I was up for hours last night, trying to get ...

August 24, 2009 by Adam in Family

I was up for hours last night, trying to get Emma back to sleep. The eventual trick seemed to be talking her with my dad's dentist voice, to the point where she calmed down and went to sleep. She's had this elevated sense of fear ever since we left for England. Part of me feels really bad for her. The other part is hoping my tea kicks in before I have to drive to work.

It was nice seeing everyone yesterday after my long solitude. I had made chocolate cheesecake and homemade hamburger buns for dinner. After unpacking, the kids and I played with the hose in the back yard and generally ran around. Jamie was off for a little, but fortunately returned when it was time to cook the buffalo burgers (I had a gardenburger).

Hopefully life can return a little more to normal before school starts.

Another sweet Mocha Friday

August 21, 2009 by Adam in Family

Another sweet Mocha Friday. I just sat down at work, starting to go through e-mail and get ready for the day. The picture here is from England, when we visited my mom's cousins on the way to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

It's been an odd week with Jamie and the kids away. I've been trying to accomplish projects to stay busy, but managed to get the wrong size lumber for the shed windows. Instead of cutting them to the right width, I plan on shamefully returning them and getting the right size. I was also a little sick for the first part of the week, likely something picked up from Emma. Fortunately it was pretty mild and all that happened is that I ran a little less for a couple days.

I've also managed to keep the household together, going shopping, doing laundry, and watering the plants every day. Last night I got sick of cereal and sandwiches and made some fettuccine with tofu, mushrooms, and peanut sauce. Sadie also Skyped last night, so I spent a wonderful hour being social with the Eastern branch of the family. When I'm too tired to do anything else, I've been watching Mythbusters.

As for this weekend, I need to hunker down and finish the two big projects I've seemingly saved for last. The shed is the big priority, and I'm hoping to get those done. It would be great if I could talk to Jamie and the kids, as I haven't since Monday. I keep calling her cell phone and the beach house, but no answer. Maybe if Judy reads this today, she can nudge Jamie towards the phone when they go to the beach house this weekend.

How time flies

August 19, 2009 by Adam in Family

How time flies.

Jamie and the kids are off at the beach for a few days, escaping the hot weather that's currently baking our little valley. I have a lengthy list of things to do while they're away. Yesterday I uncloged Emma's sink, pulling out globs of weird things that I couldn't identify. I also managed to paint the side of the house where the old balcony was attached.

I had a touch of a headache, though, that's continued until today. I may see if I can get the supplies to finish the shed today. If I'm still feeling lousy, I'll just head home and take it easy.

It's another sweet Mocha Friday

August 14, 2009 by Adam in Family

It's another sweet Mocha Friday. The Mocha Friday woodcut that Sadie made me is looking down approvingly. Friday is also pizza and Mythbusters night. Sam exclaimed last night that "everything good happens on Friday". Too true.

We've had a relatively low-key week, trying to readjust. I think my sleep patterns are mostly back to normal. Emma was having these unnatural fears (directed at Wormtail from Harry Potter), though they seem to be fading some. I can't decide if it was due to Sam and I being away or just one of those brain growth spurt things. In any case, it seems to be improving.

I think my own brain has been struggling to readjust to life in the states. I had dreams last night about driving on the left around a roundabout. People's accents have stopped sounding funny after being so used to UK accents.

Last night after work, Emma wanted to sit on my lap while I played Prince of Persia. She's not quite up to the multiple jumps and moves, but she enjoys watching. After dinner the kids and I went to the park where we played with a Frisbee and climbed the cheese structure. Sam and I tested our ninja skills by balancing on this wobbly log structure and throwing the Frisbee to each other. Our record was five consecutive throws.

Hopefully we can have a good family weekend together, doing ordinary things, as next week Jamie's taking the kids to the beach. I have a long list of projects to work on, from finishing the shed to staining the balcony to painting the house. I don't mind, though, as it keeps me busy so I don't miss them too much.

Hopefully today I can dig into the lengthy list of work projects that await me. Such is the price for being away for two weeks.

I'm back at work, with 441 e-mails awaiting m...

August 10, 2009 by Adam in Family

I'm back at work, with 441 e-mails awaiting my perusal. I've been slowly adjusting to life in the states again. My sleep schedule has been a little off, getting up in the middle of the night thinking it was time to wake up. Driving into work seemed a little surreal, with everyone on the wrong side of the road and trying to suppress the urge to use a clutch. Still, I made it in safe and sound and now it's time to get back into work mode.

Yesterday we drove home and tried to settle into normalcy. Jamie went off to a friends house, so the kids and I played in the basement until dinner. Emma hasn't had anyone to play pretend with, so I think she was happy to have us back. She's also been having nightmares, scared about Wormtail from Harry Potter. Hopefully now that the family is together again, those worried feelings of hers will settle down.

It's early Sunday morning

August 09, 2009 by Adam in Family

It's early Sunday morning. Sam and I got to Jamie's mom house at a reasonable hour and stayed up until nine or so. Both of us had a hard time sleeping, but are generally okay and happy to be back. Emma just woke up and climbed into my lap. We'll be heading home soon after breakfast.

We're in the Vancouver airport, waiting an ho...

August 08, 2009 by Adam in Family

We're in the Vancouver airport, waiting an hour and a half before we can board the plane. They have free wireless Internet access, unlike the last two places we stayed. I'm going to try uploading videos, but it's a pretty slow connection.

I'm really excited to see Jamie and Emma again. Can't wait.

(This was written earlier while on the plane ...

August 08, 2009 by Adam in Family

(This was written earlier while on the plane heading home) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Such was our final day in England. If you've been following our trip from the beginning, you'll remember that while in Bath we ended up picking up someone else's bag. There were endless bad attempts to connect with her, but it finally happened several days ago. While at breakfast, my mom announced that we were going to drop off the bag at the woman's house, north of London. There was a fairly heated conversation between everyone. Words were exchanged. The end result was a plan to go to Blenheim Palace and then drop off the bag. Blenheim Palace was amazing. It was by far the most impressive of anywhere we've gone, with golden orbs towering above gorgeous architecture. Everything was on a massive scale, from the endless lawns to the ceilings far above. Every room was decorated with incredible tapestries and paintings, each with some historical significance. With Churchill born there, there were several exhibits about his life which put things in context. After touring the palace, we walked through the gardens and on to the massive lawn. After walking for five minutes or so, we finally crossed it and made it to the place they'd set up for the jousting. First off was a falconry exibition, which everyone thought was pretty cool. They flew falcons and hawks, all the while hoping they didn't fly away forever. Next up was the jousting, which was a cross between Monty Python and the circus. The tourney knights were wonderful characters, outrageous and hysterical. There was jousting, hand-to-hand combat, parading about, and pulling the occasional squire behind a horse while tied in a bag. It too was pretty cool. I'll keep the next step short. We drove, at least when not stuck in traffic for hours. It took about six hours altogether. We dropped off the bag, drove to the airport without stopping except for gas and quick food, and dropped off the car sometime after nine. My happiest moment was realizing I never had to drive on English roads again. We made our way to the hotel and collapsed. This morning I woke up early, nervous about the trip. We got on a bus to the airport, got our tickets, made it through security, and sat down for a hearty breakfast. For airport food, it earned high praise from Sam. Soon after, we were playing with magnets at the gate, doing experiments with magnetism and copper pences. They boarded us early, and we had fun watching movies on the in-flight video system. Now we're somewhere over the Atlantic, heading home. It's a good feeling.

(This was written earlier and posted once I f...

August 06, 2009 by Adam in Family

(This was written earlier and posted once I found an Internet connection) We're at the Holiday Express outside of Oxford at the moment. Though it's your basic run-of-the-mill hotel, it seems like blissful sanctuary. Sam's reading Harry Potter and I'm watching Mythbusters before bed. Our clothes are drying out in assorted places around the room, but I'll get to that later. The day began at the Moonraker with a tasty breakfast. We drove the short distance into town and went to see the Shakespeare's Birthplace tour. Considering that it's basically just an old house, they did a good job about it. There was a short part where they showed off various Shakespearian and period artifacts, then out through a gorgeous English garden and into the house. In each room, they had someone talking about its function. Basically they crammed everyone into very small spaces and furniture was incredibly expensive. It seemed odd to think of Shakespeare writing about castles and kings while coming from such a humble beginning. We decided to drive over to Avebury to see the standing stones there. Once we got there, it began to pour and we all got incredibly soaked. It's been so warm and sunny since we got here that it almost came as a shock. Still, the stones were interesting and we spent some time at a converted barn that explained them in more detail. As a bonus, it was warm and dry. The way to our hotel ended up taking far too long. The roads were horrible due to the rain and we accidentally took a trip into Oxford during rush hour. Coupled with a wreck on the road out of town and bad directions to the hotel, we ended up stopping for dinner before checking in. Sam was happy since we found a pizza place, though. Tomorrow is our last full day in the UK. The plan is to go to Bleinheim Palace to see the jousting. Hopefully the weather clears up.

I think Sam has succumbed to British television

August 05, 2009 by Adam in Family

I think Sam has succumbed to British television. He's now watching Big Brother, which has a bizarre Alice in Wonderland themed set of challenges. Soon I'll make him turn it off and go to bed, but I suppose the point of travel is to expand one's horizons. We went to the town central and ate at one of the oldest pubs in Stratford. It's odd eating somewhere that's older that my country. The dinner was okay, quite rich, but it was nice to have a lengthy, chatty dinner. I think tomorrow we'll go take the tour of Anne Hathaway's house, then go off to see some standing stones. Eventually we'll make our way to Oxford tomorrow and then we're going to Blenheim Palace. It's the last event for Sam and I before heading home.

We're in Stratford-Upon-Avon, staying at the ...

August 05, 2009 by Adam in Family

We're in Stratford-Upon-Avon, staying at the Moonraker. As you might think, there are artsy pictures of James Bond on the wall and the Moonraker DVD in the room. Sam's watching television as we all relax, and I think he's hoping to find a channel with bowling. This is the outdoor lawn style bowling, not the American ball and ten pins version. Yesterday Sam was rooting for Scotland and it was actually fairly interesting to watch. In the meantime, he's watching a quirky game show involving lying, which is a sight better than the weird kid superhero game show than this morning.

Seraph, Robbie, and Isabell just arrived and we're settling down before going into town. It should be a ten or fifteen minute walk and we can scrounge up dinner and pay our respects to Shakespeare on the way.

We had a relatively lazy day today, our secon...

August 04, 2009 by Adam in Family

We had a relatively lazy day today, our second in Chester. Seraph and Isa drove to Liverpool to pick up Robbie from his side trip. Unfortunately they got the time wrong and ended up hanging around the train station for several hours. In the meantime, mom, Sam, and I went into Chester with the stated reason for doing laundry. We dropped off my mom and headed to the town center. With no destination in mind, we climbed up on the city walls that ring the town center. There was a lovely view of the river Dee and the thousand year old bridge that crosses it. We worked our way over to the ruins of a two thousand year old Roman fort, where some local kids were doing parkour, jumping from column to column. Next was the amphitheater. The strangest part is that both were in the middle of a modern city, with busy roads all around them. Next we passed the ruins of an old church and circled back to pick up my mom. Instead of rushing back, the three of us visited a little coffee shop. Sam tried yet another new food item, a ham and cheese blintz with crips (potato chips to those of you from the states). Another thumbs up from Sam. This afternoon we've spent hanging out in the hotel room, taking a vacation from our vacation. There was a little reading, television watching, card games, and computer games. I think we'll head to bed early so we can get an early start on things. Tomorrow we're off to Stratford-Upon-Avon to stay at a place called the Moonraker. Thursday we're at the Express By in Oxford. Friday we're staying really close to the Heathrow airport. We got the chance to chat with Jamie and Emma briefly this afternoon, which was a treat. Jamie sounds like she's been busy, taking Emma to the coast to beat the heat. We managed to get Skype working, except for their webcam. It'll be nice to be home and see them in person.

Sam and I are hanging out in our room in Ches...

August 03, 2009 by Adam in Family

Sam and I are hanging out in our room in Chester, taking a break after running around all afternoon. Downtown Chester is an interesting place, set inside old Roman walls from 2,000 years ago. The Rows are old market rows, now modern shops with tons of people running around. Out first stop was the cathedral, where the walkway around it is paved with gravestones, the bodies buried underfoot. As usual the architecture was amazing. Afterward, we headed to the old Chester castle and saw the military museum there. Jamie's friend Pat would have loved it, especially the stories that went with the various medals that were housed there. Tomorrow we can sleep in as much as we want, which excites me terribly. We might head out to a nearby castle, or go back into Chester and see even more sights. It's nice to have a slow day before our lengthy drive to Stratford-On-Avon.

We had an uneventful trip to the DoubleTree i...

August 03, 2009 by Adam in Family

We had an uneventful trip to the DoubleTree in Chester. It's a fairly modern hotel, which to be honest is somewhat nice after cool but quirky B&Bs. Robbie got off to his train just fine and we reconnected with Seraph. Fairly soon we'll be headed to the town center to see the castle and some museums.

I'm alone in my room at Ruthin Castle

August 03, 2009 by Adam in Family

I'm alone in my room at Ruthin Castle. The kids are in the other room, playing Magic while my mom takes a bath. Seraph has driven Robbie to Liverpool to catch a train to visit an old professor. We're rendezvousing in Chester, with Robbie coming in a day later. The next couple days should be relatively slow. It's a short drive to Chester and we have a couple days in town. Chester is over 2,000 years old and was a Roman town back in the day. Should be fun. Everyone has arrived and we're heading to breakfast.

We made it to Ruthin Castle, which amazingly ...

August 02, 2009 by Adam in Family

We made it to Ruthin Castle, which amazingly enough has Internet access. I'll be posting more in a bit, but now I have to get cleaned up for dinner as we're all starving.

Update: I'm back in the room, feeling stuffed. Sam and Isa are playing before bedtime. I'm tuckered out.

The day started in Gaer Farm. We gathered up our belongings, only to discover that we had an extra piece of luggage. Sure enough, through a comedy of errors we ended up taking someone else's bag from Bath. We've managed to let the poor woman know it wasn't stolen, but still need to figure out how to get it to her.

The drive to Ruthin was long, but we took a fair number of stops. The driving was actually pretty good today, with good roads and beautiful scenery. I have a new appreciation for the macho motorcycle riders of Wales, who would ride at insane speeds in between lines of traffic.

Our first stop was at Hay-On-Wye, a town of endless bookstores. Robbie was blissful, but we finally dragged him away. We ate lunch, including a mocha for me, despite it not being a Friday.

We drove and drove, eventually stopping by a ruined abbey. The kids loved running around and exploring, while the grownups read plaques and appreciated the history. After a foiled attempt to grab some food, we headed to the castle.

The castle grounds are quite beautiful, and so everyone trooped around. We discovered the peacock, which is now cawing somewhere outside as I type this. There were also some vaguely druidic stones off in a field. After getting everyone appropriately tired, we had a good and lengthy dinner. Now it's time to throw Sam in the bath and get the dirt scrubbed off him.

Final Update: I posted yesterday's video.

This was recorded earlier and only now posted...

August 02, 2009 by Adam in Family

This was recorded earlier and only now posted (Gaer Farm had no Internet connection, as expected). We woke up bright and early, wandering down to the hostel kitchen tucked away past the courtyard. There was a young British couple and another young man from Brazil, and we danced around each other trying to get breakfast for everyone. Sam's developed a liking for tea, so he had tea, toast, and a little cereal. Afterwards we decided to split the party. My mom would make reservations, I'd take the kids to the Roman Baths, and Seraph and Robbie would go to the Fashion Museum and then Hay-On-Wye for the bookstores. We had a great walk to the Roman Baths, which we ironically walked a hundred feet away from the night before. It was early and not very crowded. Since Isa had already gone through, she gave us the guided tour. The baths were surprisingly interesting, with a lot more than just a hotsprings. There were massage areas, a temple, and a complicated drainage system. After that we met up with my mom, who had run into some issues booking rooms. She went for coffee and upon her return, the wireless stopped working, so after Ruthin Castle it's still a bit of a mystery where we're staying. I'm going to see if we can make some phone calls this morning and at least book some rooms in Chester. The drive to Gaer Farm took most of the day. Getting into Wales was the hard part, with rain, closed bridges, and a grumpy driver (me). I spent most of the afternoon apoligizing to my mom for being so snappy. Once we got to Wales, the roads widened, the signs were better, and the traffic was relatively light. We stopped by a place called Brecon Beacons, found a tiny parking place up an alley, and immediately saw a pizza place across the street. It was Sam's fifth pizza and my first, which was surprisingly good. We ate in a park by the river and admired the bridge across the way. Next was a final push to the farm. We got side tracked in a rock quarry, but eventually figured out where we were going and made it without incident. Sam and Isa played really well together the whole time. Once we got out and settled, the kids entertained the local dog and kitty. Seraph and Robbie arrived soon afterwards with a big loaf of bread. With the peanut butter I'd picked up earlier, it made for a lovely dinner. As the sun set, Sam, Isa, and I walked down the road and made sheep noises. Sam declared that this was his favorite place to stay. Sam's still sleeping, though I'll be hauling him out of bed soon for breakfast. After we eat and pack, we'll all return to Hay-on-Wye and then drive up to Ruthin Castle for the night.

We're still in Bath, waiting for the rest of ...

August 01, 2009 by Adam in Family

We're still in Bath, waiting for the rest of our crew to wake up. My mom was going to try and see a coattail relative this morning, but I think we'll trade that for a trip to the Roman baths instead. Seraph and Robbie are headed elsewhere, meeting up with us at Gaer Farm tonight. My mom and I will be taking Isa and Sam. Fortunately the kids have done a great job entertaining each other. While we travel in Wales, I don't think we'll have any Internet connectivity. The next time I'll likely post is Monday night in Chester. I think we're staying here, but we've yet to book rooms. After that is Stratford-Upon-Avon and Oxford, though we've yet to book anywhere yet. After we checked into the hostel and settled down, Sam and I went exploring, just barely missing the Roman Baths. There were some pretty amazing sights along the river path, though, and it was fun to just wander around for a bit. The weather was beautiful, though it started to rain last night. We had some brief excitement where we thought we'd lost mom. She was going to take a nap and then do laundry at a nearby laundromat. Unfortunately no one had seen her there by the time we returned. It turns out she just took a long nap. I'm letting Sam sleep a little more while I get ready for the day. Our room at the White Hart is a little funky, with fairly cold showers. The beds were comfortable, though, and Sam and I are sleeping relatively well these days. Off to our next adventure . . .

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