Monday, December 31, 2007

Dialogue over lunch

Scott [Digging into the salad I made him]: Jen, you're the best.

Jen: Thank you.

Scott [stage whisper to Lisa]: You know I'm just saying that. Really you're the best.

Lisa: Don't worry. We're alike enough that it works either way. If you compliment her, it goes for me too.

Jen: What she said.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why I love thrift stores

When Robin was here without Julia, we went to thrift stores looking for a coat for her. We found one, and I also bought her a beading set (basically, a box of beads with some string) that she wanted, and that turned out to be quite impressively intact.

Now Julia is here without Robin, and Lisa has the day off, so we went over to see if we couldn't find some sort of a game for Julia. Also, the (thrift store) pajamas I gave her for Christmas are on the small side - which I kind of thought they might be when I bought them - so we thought we'd check and see if there were any that would fit her better.

Now. You can't just walk in there and pick up what you want. Luck is a pretty major factor. You don't get to pick the color, and sometimes pieces are missing. Prices vary.

But. If you are a Tucker or have access to one, you can do pretty well, especially by sticking to whichever color tag has the best discount that day. Sundays have the most potential, because one color (orange today) is 75% off.

We found pajamas (Lisa found the top in the boys' pajama section and showed it to me, saying it was too bad the bottoms were missing. Except that I had just seen the bottoms, over on the girls' rack), a video called Larger than Life (Bill Murray inherits an elephant and sells it to the highest bidder, but has to transport it across the country by himself. We'll see.), Julia's equivalent to the beading kit, which turned out to be a "summer vacation activity kit" (geared to third grade, but in fact containing mainly art supplies and stickers, plus a world-map puzzle to assemble and color), and - impulse buy at the register - a Madeline "1st and 2nd Grade Math" computer game (for the girl who passed the time on the drive over begging us to ask her math questions.)

Here's the contents of the World Explorer game. Slightly opened, but clearly never used:

My total? $2.66.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Technology today

When I first began living far from home, international phone calls were still rare, major events. I think I spoke to my family on the phone only twice during my year in Kenya, and equally sparsely during my first years in Costa Rica.

Fortunately, the days of the semi-annual $40 phone call are over. I'm actually paying about three times as much as necessary on my ¢9/min callback plan, but we don't use it enough to bother switching.

Anyway, Alex was out of town for much of our first week here, so we didn't hear from him at all at first. He called when he got back home on Christmas Eve and talked to all three of us for quite a while. He called again on Christmas day so the girls could talk to his parents. They were already looking at the photos I had posted earlier in the day.

I was kind of surprised to hear from him again a day or so later, but happy to pass the phone to the girls for another little chat. When I got it back, I discovered the true motive behind the call, as he had me walk him through finding the scanner software on my computer and sending an icon to the desktop for next time.

Robin is at Mom & Dad's house (about 150 miles away) so we've spoken with her a few times this week as well. Last night, Dad called to say Alex had his parents up at our house and wanted them to talk to Robin on Skype. They had connected the call easily enough, but were having trouble with the webcam at the Costa Rica end. I told Dad where Alex needed to plug it in, but that had already been tried and it was decided that I should speak with Alex directly.

When he called (from 1500 miles away), I picked up the phone and immediately heard Robin in the background.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Swimming upstream

Julia was born in a lovely tub of warm water at a birth center here in REDACTED, North Carolina. Mom and Dad still lived in town then, as did Lisa and Scott.

Julia very kindly gave me the first nudges a little before dawn on her birth day, so I was able to let Lisa and Dad know it was probably time before they left for work and church, respectively. Scott was beeped and arrived in time as well. Alex, Robin (age 2.5 at the time), Mom and Lisa were right in the room with us, and Dad and Scott hovered in the doorway.

At the time, we all lived a few miles away from the birth center, in various directions, but in the six intervening years, Lisa and Scott have had the good sense to get married and buy a house that is just three blocks away, so today when Julia and I went to the library for books and videos and to Krispy Kreme for donuts and coffee, we also stopped by the birth center to see where she was born.

The practice is still there, although it turns out they don't have births in the center anymore, but in the hospital across the street instead. But I think it's a very recent change, and the birthing rooms are still fully set up - quilts on the beds and all. I wasn't sure I would, but I was able to recognize which of the three rooms we had used.

Here's Julia at the very site of her birth. Her first journey was from the tub to the little wooden bassinet for a quick checkup and wipe down before being returned to my arms.

I had forgotten the footprints in the meeting/class room, but I was sure we had added Julia's. I even kind of felt like hers were maybe green. It took some hunting, but I found them on the second wall I checked. I had used a ballpoint pen and her name was just barely legible, so I asked for the permanent marker most of the others had used and fixed it up for posterity.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Julia's zoo day

Went pretty heavy on the primate pics this time around, by special request from my good friend pidomon. We'll not discuss what the gorilla was actually doing when we took those pictures, though. (Let's just say, we can all be glad the human digestive system doesn't work the way the gorilla one does.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Guess it's time for a text post, 'cause any pictures of today would be pretty anticlimactic.

Wow. What a change. Four of the eight people in the house left after breakfast, and two of the others are out for the afternoon.

There was some housekeeping to do when the first batch left, and Julia helped with the vacuuming. She's never (in her memory) seen a vacuum cleaner before, but she picked right up on the plane geometry involved in tracing out a series of slightly overlapping parallel lines to cover a surface.

Speaking of mathematical concepts, the Secret Secret Greece/Turkey Quilts of Secrecy have been given and received, so I can tell this story now.

About two weeks ago I told my friend I was stitching the outline of Pythagoras, and wondered if it was possible to get any geekier than that.

Half an hour later I had my answer as I started picking out a partially-stitched Parthenon because the photo was blurry and I thought the columns were Ionic.

Turns out they're Doric.

I'll post quilt pictures soon. The ones we took on Christmas day were nice of the recipients, but didn't show the quilts to best advantage.


Well, thank you for playing everyone, but the answer we were looking for was "Ham Bone," as in:

None of your beeswax.
Shoe tacks

Thank you for playing and better luck next time!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

First we took the yearly "this is who was home for Christmas" family portrait.

Then we kicked out the married-ins and had a four-generation sitting.

Stockings were opened, revealing--among many other items--what has turned out to be one of the most enduringly engaging gifts of the day.

The girls modeled their new Christmas hair stuff in preparation for the present-opening session.

Turtle checked out the boxes:

Julia has been enjoying her new not-quite-a-toy digital camera. We'll see what it yields.

Grandma gave us some of our old childhood photos. Anybody see the resemblance?

Finding out about the Disney World trip. We're hoping to get back to this at some point. For now, Julia has discovered that I'm not going on the trip, and she's pretty uncertain about that.

Robin has no such qualms.

The rest of the day is expected to look pretty much like this:

Scott has spent several hours cooking our Christmas dinner. This is him saying, "There's actually nothing in this one"

Overheard - Turkey dinner edition

Scott (surprisedly):
This thing's got an IUD in it!

For a chance to win...

...a fabulous prize from my stocking, all you have to do is complete this (apparently) well known phrase:

None of your beeswax, corn bread, shoe tacks, _____________.

Enter early, enter often.

Merry Christmas, Internets.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve


Robin (accusingly):
Julia, if you do that again I'm going to go ask Lisa to read Black Beauty to me!

Dad (informatively):
I wouldn't mind getting a fish bowl, but I don't like toilets.

Inbox looked pretty good this morning, I have to say.

I stayed up till I was sure Phydeaux was home safely last night, and E-mailed Pidomon even though I knew he wasn't home yet.

Got up this morning and thought, "Nah. They'll be sleeping in," but I had to check anyway.

Best. Inbox. Ever.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two for the road

Safe travels, guys. E-mail me when you get in.

The Inaugural Convocation of the International Cadre of Misphit Bloggers in full swing.

First, Phy and I spent...well...a little longer than planned at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Finally, Pidomon managed to drag his sorry ass off a plane and I documented it immediately, lest things go further wrong.

Phydeaux in the parking lot:

Pidomon in the parking lot:

Then we headed back to the house to make the most of our hour and a half together.

Unfortunately, nobody was home and the place was locked...

...a fact that we attempted to document on the spot, but alas the neighbors don't leave their Wi-Fi connections open.

So we went to Panera and prevailed upon the kindness of strangers to assist us in our documentation efforts.

And now, back to the ICICMB.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three days and counting

Three days till Christmas that is. It's only a matter of hours till the International Convocation of the Misphit Bloggers.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that's not the exact name we settled on, but look for photos and perhaps even some liveblogging of the Pi,Phy and Jenfest 2007 (if pidomon brings his laptop, if his flight gets in on time, and if the coffeehouse does, in fact, have free Wi-Fi). I may even find out about this Elven Threesome I've been hearing about.

In other news, Julia is back from five days with the grandparents and we're all together now for the duration (of Christmas, that is).

Cookies have been baked, presents bought and wrapped, and Christmas trees well and truly decorated. We're running short on beer, but expect that to be remedied upon the morrow.

Also? It's a marvelous world where you can get a personal CD player (discman) and a digital camera for $20. Total. Why didn't I get a digital camera at the age of six? Or a personal CD player at the age of nine? Questions to ponder.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More zoo pictures, as promised

Here you go. Lisa downloaded her pictures today, so now I've got something worth posting. Check out the elephant at the end there. It was standing there, pretty much posing, and then someone out at the elephant barn across the field apparently made some sort of dinner-making noise and that was that.

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