April 21, 2009 | Leave a Comment

We had some sad news last week; Jenn’s grandfather passed away at the ripe old age of 97. He was born in Ireland and moved here when he was just one year old. His trip to Ireland for our wedding ten years ago was his first trip back to Ireland in 85 years ! He saw a lot in his years, including serving as a Captain in World War II. Fortunately, Orla and her grandmother got to see him just a week before he passed on…

Easter Sunday saw the kids enjoy Easter egg hunts in our garden, and then at Carol and Justin’s. They were kids on a mission, and made sure they left no stone unturned in digging out the goodies. Even Conall got into the spirit of things, especially when he realized that there was candy to be had for the finding !

The three of them have taken, with varying degrees of success, to helping Jenn plant flowers in the garden. We were delighted to see that some of the seeds planted last year have, amazingly, survived the craziness that is our household and have sprouted blooms this year. We’ve been clearing out some trees in our lower yard and hope to plant some wildflowers down there…

We had a few warm days this week, and so took the opportunity to go for some nature walks. Jenn took the kids exploring for frogs and various animal habitats in some of the nearby parks, and I joined them once or twice, bringing my portable ham radio gear with me on occasion. It’s also been fun to get out mountain biking, and we’ve arranged to go on a family bike ride with some homeschool friends in a week or two.

This past weekend has seen us add 2 forms of transportation to the family. The kids were thrilled that I traded in the blue car for a new “monster truck”, a Dodge Ram 2500 we added to the fleet. (After all, if our oil reserves are dwindling rapidly, I might as well burn a few gallons…Meanwhile, we’re doing our bit for conservation by using solar panels, and campfire cooking, so it all balances out !). They promised that this new vehicle was “hot” enough to warrant clean hands. No lollipop, hershey bar chocolate, sticky fingers for the new interior. I’m sure those intentions will last all of a week.

We were all happy to take a trip to the horse farm to try out the new truck, where we got to go meet our other newest addition. Michelle and Sharon drove down from New Hampshire in their truck – a Ford ! – bringing Orla’s horse Allie home. Orla is delighted to have her home again in time for spring, and is excited about grooming and riding her. She took a quick ride around the ring with her on Sunday and was thrilled. Allie is one fashionable equine, looking great in her flashy new color, red. Orla likes to color coordinate, whether it’s her own black nail polish, her highlights, her trendy hair style or her purposely ripped jeans. So she bought her mare a red halter, lead line, saddle pad, boots, etc. (Purple is so last century, dontcha know). You certainly won’t miss them coming and it suitably matches the truck!

Meanwhile, The Conallator unfortunately is going through his screaming, terrible-two, phase. He loves to be loud and get your attention, but he is still a sweetheart of a big guy. He is developing a great sense of humor and fun, and cracks up when he thinks his old man is doing something crazy like hopping on the hopscotch board, or walking funny (even when sober). He has taken a liking to basketball, slamming dunks into his younger cousin Ace’s basketball net, and he even sleeps with the ball. So our hopes continue for an MBA contract upon graduation!

The big kids have really been practising their piano – indeed, they even fight over whose turn it is. Orla does an amazing rendition of Fur Elise, and Eoghan totally impressed us with Phantom of the Opera. I guess all those years of paying for their lessons is finally paying off. Meanwhile, I’m finally back on food after a 47 day juice fast and Jenn is relieved I’m eating again. If she never juices another orange or carrot again, she’ll be a very happy wife…



Easter Eggs

April 5, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Orla and Roisin walking at Hopeland

Orla and Roisin walking at Hopeland

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Today saw us at Southlands for their annual Easter Egg hunt. The two boys had a fun time, Conall being relatively sedate while Eoghan was a man on a mission. Like his buddy Jake, he collected a basketful of eggs while Conall was content with just a couple. At Southlands we met up with Kevin and Lisa, and Rob and JP and their kids. It was fun to catch up as we hadn’t done so in quite a while, and soak up some rays.
After the egg hunt, I headed out mountain biking in Mills Mansion and Norrie Park. The weather was glorious, and it was beautiful to bike through the woods and down to the Hudson River’s edge.
When I got back, Eoghan and I cooked his dinner over the campfire I had lit in our yard. He’s a big fan of what I cook on the fire, whatever about my offerings in the kitchen !



Outdoor fun

April 2, 2009 | Leave a Comment

So today was a fun day, for a variety of reasons. First, Orla headed off with Grandma and Bethany to Florida. I saw them off at Newburgh, from where they flew to Fort Lauderdale. They’ll stay with Orla’s great-grandparents and come back on Tuesday. Orla was delighted to be heading off to the sun, and had fun getting her clothes and swimwear organised, and picking out her books (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  as an audiobook, and Pride and Prejudice in paperback were two notable inclusions in her portable library). She has also moved on from pink and purple; now, her favourite colour (and her fingernails !) are red. Of course by now she’s a seasoned traveller; this isn’t her first trip away from her mom and dad. Now, however, she has her own cellphone so she can call and check in.

Meanwhile, Conall and Eoghan were helping Jenn in the garden today. Conall continues to amaze – and amuse – us. Yesterday when Jenn went to pick him up from his crib after an afternoon nap, she found he had taken off his dirty (and I mean nasty) diaper, folded it in a corner of the crib, and grabbed a clean one from the pile outside his crib. He’s also starting to talk up a storm – he’ll rabbit on for ages and quite a bit of it is intelligible. He’s also starting to interact a lot more with his older siblings, and is getting to be a real charmer and a bundle of laughs.

We’ve been having fun in the garden, taking advantage of the warming weather. Last weekend we lit a campfire (using a flint and steel) and cooked dinner over it. Our plan is to get the kids used to camping in our backyard and then over the summer we might actually spend a night or two in a real campground.

Orla is excited that her horse, Allie, is coming back home after spending the winter in New Hampshire. She’s continuing her lessons, and looking forward to riding her and grooming her every day. And Eoghan and I are planning to go golfing together. And then, of course, fishing season is upon us, so we have to dig out our tackle !

I’m taking advantage of the warm weather to get in shape for my bike trip to Switzerland in September. Today I bought a mountain bike and went for a spin in the State Park across the street from our house, and plan to make that a regular event. Jenn tells me I’m shrinking away; it’s just as well I didn’t bring her to see Hunger when I saw it in the cinema last week.

The homeschooling is going well. We’re planning to do some road trips over the next few months. A couple of weeks ago we headed up to an event in Massachusetts where the two older kids had great fun doing gymnastics. And of course we’re starting to think about holiday trips we’ll take, as well. We’re thinking about heading back to Maine, and may also head up to Stratford in Canada for the Shakespeare Festival.

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