Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Correction / Retraction and Thank-you!

Zounds! I have blundered and given credit where it was not due. The Slip'n'Slide which was previously mentioned was NOT from Attie Gail. It was in fact a gift to the children from AviatorDave. The kids loved it, but unfortunately Sunday was the last day we had with some warm sunshine in which to play with the new toy.

The kids also received a jar o' toys for making bubbles - but they have not yet been turned loose with these.

The next project for ye munchkins is to create, in their own inimitable style, thank-you cards for our reluctant squadron commander.

Butterfly, marker on photocopy stock - by Melissa, age 5
Originally uploaded by Syntaxerror

As to why Gail's betrothed was here - it was to celebrate his birthday along with yours truly. We were both born on May 30. He in '67 and me in '71. We had a great time and I must say I appreciate very much the kind gift of a cordless screwdriver from Dave! It was completely unexpected. We were just glad to have Gumpa, Gail, Dave, and a last minute surprise guest - Alvin, all here at the same time.

Maine Rainbow aka - they got OUR rain!

Rainbow at last!
Originally uploaded by Larry13.

Proof positve that if another relative had her own Flickr account - she could have blogged Dad's photo.

Photo credit - GMP. Here's her commentatry. "After 6 gray weeks of rain with nearly 4 inches in 4 days, a rainbow was a VERY welcome sight!"

Very unfair - here we have been roasting with record heat, sunburns, and things have started drying up and dying while on the East coast they get nice cool rain for 6 weeks!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

New Slip'n'Slide from Gail (David)

The kiddos got a new summer-time toy from their aunt uncle David.

Slip'n'Slide fun
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Melissa's Turn
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Maribeth wisely stays away from the water
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Look what Michael got the babies!

Twins with Sippies
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Chocolate milk sippy cups! Given to them in new dress while sitting on my glider rocker in the living room. He did it himself and managed to get chocolate syrup on the counter, milk just and floor in the process. (yes - he got himself one too - of course! But I had to get Melissa and Maddy chocolate milk sippies as well after that!)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Impromptu Field Trip

Peace Arch
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

A church picnic at Peach Arch park today turned into an impromptu homeschool field trip to the actual Peace Arch. Some church members were going over and Michael and Melissa begged me to take them - so the three of us went over. They wanted me to read them all the signs and inscriptions and we had quite a good conversation about it all. They are very curious little people.

More photos on flickr. I put them into a photo set.

Peace Arch
A photo set by Allan & Cheryl.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Twins 15mth Developmental Assessment Results

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The twins had their 15 month developmental assessment by the pediatrician / neonatolgist who has been following them since the NICU.

Megan is 22 lbs - right around 45%tile and right on her curve. Head and height I forgot but they are also about the same percentile. Megan is ahead approximately 4 months of actual age in verbal / language development and right on track for actual age with gross and fine motor skills!

Megan Joy
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Maribeth is 18 lbs - back up to the 3rd %tile and on "her" curve again. Her head size is the same as Megan and she's only 3 cm shorter. Maribeth is tracking at approximately 4 months ahead on fine motor skills (he said she can do some stuff he's never seen a 15 month old do before!), on time for gross motor skills (though she walked a month later than Megan did, she's still well within normal), but slightly delayed verbally: approximately 2 months behind the bottom end of "normal" for 15 month olds. But as she was 2 months early, he's not concerned yet. He is making a note in his letter to our family doctor that her verbal skills should be re-assessed at age 2.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

About her "tail"; it seems that it is getting in the way of her sitting a bit (this is probably why she won't sit for long anywhere). He is concerned that when she's out grown diapers, if she falls hard on her backside, it could fracture. So he's recommending that our family doctor refer her to a general surgeon sometime after age 2 to have it removed surgically.

Her hemangiomas have started turning more flesh colored - which he said is the start of them beginning to go away - so that's a good thing!

We also have the OK to make the switch from formula to whole milk - so long as we give them a vitamin with iron. He confirmed again that they are identical, but noted that even to him, they don't look identical or act identical.

3 Unusual Happenings Worth Noting

1. I almost ate a bug this evening.

It flew into my open mouth while I was chatting with Allan on the phone. Then it got STUCK in the back of my throat and I couldn't get it out. Allan suggested gargling with water - which finally dislodged the insect. It's still alive - I might add - at least it was wiggling as it swirled down the sink. It appeared to be a small moth.

It is probably a sign of the security of our relationship that a) I didn't hang up so Allan got the complete audio track of my gasping, coughing, spluttering and gargling out the bug and b) that he did not laugh at me. For a worse moth in bodily orifice story read this.

2. I followed my mother's instructions

..and made up the lost FIAR "story squares" for the kids map of the world.

For more info vist fiveinarow.com. For every book we "row" - we put the square up on the map of the world. Quite a few of these went missing during the move and the M's were upset about that today. This involved looking up book titles on amazon.com, saving the little book cover .jpg's, putting them all into a word document and sizing them all to the correct size, printing them out, cutting them out, locating the contact paper (the longest part of the whole process) and then laminating them. They are now back on the map.

3. I found a funny ":fwd" I think is worth passing on

Most of you probalby know my "don't send me ANY forwards" policy. So in keeping with that - I'm posting it here on the blog rather than sending it to my e-mail address book. I read this outloud to Allan - who kept saying "That is NOT funny" over and over again. I wonder why?

Human Resources Lingo

COMPETITVE SALARY: We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors

JOIN OUR FAST PACED TEAM: We have no time to train you

MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED: You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day

SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED: Some time each night and some time each weekend

DUTIES WILL VARY: Anyone in the office can boss you around

MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL: We have no quality control

CAREER-MINDED: Femaile applicants must be childless (and remain that way)

SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE: You will need it to replace the three people who just left.

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST: You are walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

REQUIRES TEAM-LEADERSHIP SKILLS: You'll have the responsibility of a manager, without the pay or respect

GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want and do it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Technical writer in training

Technical writer in training
Originally uploaded by SyntaxError.

Directions for the babies
Originally uploaded by SyntaxError.

Directions for the babies on how to build blowck towers by Melissa age 5.

Despite her lovely instructions - the babies persist in merely knocking DOWN block towers.

The Map's Back Up!

The Map's Back Up!
Originally uploaded by SyntaxError.

The M's found it today and demanded that it go back on the wall - with all the FIAR story squares we could find. AND they wanted the next book! So we've started with "The very last first time" which takes place in Northeren Canada!

Today was a school heavy day! It was "too hot" outside so we got more schoolwork done today than we have in a week.

Melissa and MIchael did 3 pages of lesson 15 in Math U see. Michael did another 4 pages in his R&S preschool workbook.

Melissa did 4 pages in her MCP Grade 1 Phonics workbook (yes - she insisted on starting it NOW rather than waiting for Sept). She's thrilled that it's "ALL COLORFUL!" instead of black and white like former workbooks.

Michael did 3 reading lessons with me. Melissa did 1 reading lesson, 1 set of phonics pathways reading/spelling words and spelled them ALL correctly on her "spelling test". Melissa also is working on reading through The Dick and Jane collection.

Maddy logged quite a bit of time on reader rabbit toddler and coloring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Leo is having a massage and is currently unavailable ..

Yes my cello is OUT of commission, in for repairs, at the "cello Dr", getting a massage .. whatever term you want. The bottom line is my cello is NOT with me and I miss it!

I called the luthier today at noon (as he said I ought to call around "end of May, after the long weekend") just to see about setting up an appointment to get some much overdue work done on my cello. Leo has not seen a luthier for maintenance since the initial set-up surrounding his purchase back in 1993/1994!

To my shock he said I should bring it "as soon as you can - I open up at 1:30."

I estimated it was approximately 1 hour away in mid-day traffic, keeping in mind road work, which left only 30 minutes to get my stuff (tuner, rosin, orchestra music, bows) OUT of the case and everything sorted out. I looked up directions and a map online to print off, changed the twins, instructed Melissa on lunch prep, and got myself out the door! Auntie Gail was napping but Grandpa was there so I just told him and Melissa, "I have to take my cello to downtown Vancouver NOW. I'll try to be back for ballet class, but I don't know if I'll make it. Bye!"

My Cello
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I made it. The shop door opened for customers at 1:30 (he is closed to customers in the mornings so he can focus on his repair work) and I was there at 1:31 - the first post-holiday weekend customer. This is a dead spot for him as schools and orchestras are working towards season end concerts and NOT wanting to part with their instruments. Come June - he will be busy all summer with contract work: repairing, adjusting instruments of the VSO and several local music schools/music academies.

Now the downside to this for me is - I myself am less than 2 weeks away from playing in the FVS season ending concert and I will be without my cello for the final rehearsal with the soloist.

He did give me a loaner cello to play - but I'm struggling a bit on intonation as it is a full size instrument and quite a bit larger to play than my little 7/8. It is a student cello, but a decent one AND a brand new cello; made 2004 and not played since. He hopes I'll play it quite a bit over the next week or so, so that it will "open up" the sound.

Back to Leo though. Leo has fallen victim to common ailments of antique cellos strung with modern strings: a competely unglued saddle and a neck that also unglued (though not completely - which is very fortunate for me that this was caught NOW and not later). Because the neck is held tight by the tension of the strings - this kind of thing can be missed for quite a while.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In addition, the bridge is very warped and bent. It will have to be replaced with a new bridge - the top level that he carries. He offered me lower cost options, but given the instrument and the fact that a good bridge is harder and will last longer - I'm biting the bullet and going for it. It will be between $200-$300 just for the bridge and installation (it has to be cut down specifially to fit my 7/8).

This doesn't even count re-gluing the cello. The gluing has to come first and it is what takes a long time. The glue has to be completely dry before the cello gets it's new bridge and the strings put on. He will try and do this without knocking the soundpost down but has marked lightly around part of the soundpost with a pencil so that if it does fall - he'll know basically where it was.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Leo also has accumulated a number of chips and dents in the varnish - some due to toddlers attacking the cello with legos and blocks (children are no longer allowed IN the room with me when I practice now that I have an easily gate-offable practice space), some due to the cello being laid on its side on unforgiving floring, and a few others from my heavy practice mute falling on the varnish.

I no longer use that mute. I either use the lightweight mute or I don't play. Though I did see on the shar site that they are now making a heavy duty RUBBER cello mute - something that I may invest in at some point.

In any case - these repairs are going to cost a lot - but if I take good care of the cello - it should go another decade before needing this much done to it. Now I just have to hope and pray that he actually has my cello done in time for me in the concert! Oh and I did make it back barely in time to get Melissa out the door with Auntie Gail for ballet class.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I Nosh, Therefore I Am

I was looking at the latest pictures we uploaded with Cheryl the other evening and it struck me that we have an awful lot of pictures of the kids while they are eating.

Maybe it's because we have a captive audience (they're in high-chairs you see). Maybe it is because we've got enough birthdays to cover off half of the yearly cycle and consequently our kids see a lot of cake. Or perhaps we just eat a lot.

In any case, I started to worry because if you were a dental health practitioner, you might be thinking we were excellent candidates for your patient list. Visions of being chased down the street by dentists and hygienists started to haunt me.

I decided to compile all of the pictures, those which are on-line at least, that more or less depict the children with comestibles.

Art of the Meal, The
A photo set by Allan & Cheryl

To my relief, out of all the stock we have uploaded since last September (about 1750 photos) the total number of photos where the kids are depicted with food (it's the bottles and sugary confections I'm concerned with mainly) only came to 98.

Now to see about deleting those which show the kids running with scissors.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Back in the saddle again ...

Or back on a bicycle (saddle) again. Allan decided that fiscal responsibility aside, getting me back on a bicycle was going to happen this summer come hell or high water or more realistically come Visa bills and Mr. Noodles.

As an early birthday present, I now have a Brodie Quantum hybrid bike - woman's 14" to accomodate my short frame. It is the same dark green color as Allan's Bridgestone. It has front suspension, seat stem suspension, 24 speeds and 700c tires - but fatter tires (instead of skinny road tires like on my old bike) that can handle light off-road.

A photo (not mine) of my new bike
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Other than a spin around the co-op and cul-de-sac last week - tonight was my first real ride. The mostly upright position is easy on my back but will take some getting used to! I've been riding with drop handlebars since I traded in my 1st bike - a banana seat model - for a 10-speed when I was 11 years old!

Back in college and pre-kids - I rode an Alsop Softride road bike (cost $1200 usd 10 years ago!) but sold it on consignment for cash to repair the van back a few years ago. After that - we were left our (late) friend Richard's road bike Norbert and I had managed to go for a few rides on it with the kids in the trailer back in 2003 (the summer I got pg with the twins). However - both tires blew out with me pulling the trailer and I bent the rims riding home on flats. As sentimental as Norbert is to both of us - realistically we could buy me a bike that would fit me for what it would cost to get Norbert rideable again. I couldn't really sit on the seat and still reach the handle bars - couldn't touch the ground with more than a couple of toes on one side when standing over the cross-bar. So Norbert sits in the garage for now.

Tonight I went up to 60th Avenue - then down into Cloverdale and climbed the hill leading up out of Cloverdale. I managed to drop the chain having forgotten some of the elementary rules of shifting: namely drop the gears down before shifting the large chain ring down. I surprised myself by pulling off the road and putting the chain back on without even thinking about it. It's amazing how much it comes back to you! Coasting down the hills reminded me vividly of getting up in the morning and zooming down the Mission hills into the mist on the way to Fraser Valley College in Abbotsford.

The Brodie definitely has good gearing for going UP hills - even as out of shape as I am and as hard as I was breathing - I still had a couple gears left if I had needed them. But I noticed a big difference with the large chain ring between this hybrid and the road bikes. I couldn't really pedal down the hills - just had to coast - the large chain ring is that much smaller. I also could tell the extra traction and effort required with the hybrid tires vs my former very high pressure very skinny road tires. But it's a good thing as I could ride over things like stray pinecones or twigs on the road without having an unwanted meeting with the asphalt.

On making it up the hill - I had a number of realizations. First off - that I was still alive and would get into shape MUCH quicker on the bike than just going to Curves. No matter how hard I put out at Curves - I just don't get the same level of cardio workout that I do on a bike. The next realization was that if I wanted to I could make it into Langley. I was halfway there already and it would be all downhill or flat riding from there. That was followed by the thought, "what goes DOWN has to come UP" and it was also starting to get dark. So I turned around and headed for home. Fortunately the trip home had much more down than up and seemed to go much quicker. I logged about 4 miles by my street number calculations - not bad for a first ride out!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Linoleum Update

Cheryl and I spent yesterday evening putting everything back that had to be shifted to allow the linoleum to be replaced. One of the priority items was to get Cheryl's computer back up and running, so I focused on getting our office set back up again.

Our dining room - what it looks like with the rug ripped out.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I shudder to think of what the workmen found under that rug. Is it possible for new forms of life to arise from the fungusoid mutations feasting on the beans, spaghetti, and applesauce which seeped into the rug which once covered the area?

Our living room - an obstacle course.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

That is, if the older 3 M's had been allowed to come downstairs, it would have been an obstacle course. It's probably a good thing they weren't even allowed a peek - that would have revved their adventurous impulses over the top. They were apparently insufferable as it was.

Our living room - full of kitchen appliances, dining room and office furniture.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

And it's a good thing Cheryl and kids did all the work to move the stuff into the living room because the workmen would have been delayed in their work by hours if it hadn't been done. In fact, it's very likely they would not have been able to finish our unit until Tuesday - after the Monday holiday.

Our living room - chaos.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Floor leveller - which we had to let dry for a few hours before they could come back and lay down the new lino.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

New linoleum - don't worry, it's not as brown as it looks.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Cheryl wasn't terribly impressed with it at first, but she came around after we got everything back into place. The pattern looks like weathered tile, so it won't show dirt or scuffs too badly.

New linoleum - our new dining room floor.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

New linoleum - our kitchen floor.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Putting it all back - we started with the dining room.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Our dining room table sees a lot of use. Along with 3 meals every day, pretty much all week long, it also gets used for arts & crafts time, and homeschooling class time. The table itself was a wedding present from our friends Sharon & Maurice. We're not in any hurry to replace it given the amount of wear and tear the kids have heaped on it already. It's pretty skookum, and will probably last us out until the twins have got past the furniture abuse stage.

Putting it all back - here it's mostly back together. We still have stuff all over the living room to try and put away. .
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

With both leaves in the table, you can see that the person on the end (usually Cheryl) has to sit on the carpet - hence the wishing that the linoleum didn't angle into the dining room area, but followed the same line as the wall.

Putting it all back - This is now Cheryl's side of the office.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Yes, I did use this as an opportunity to re-arrange our office space. Cheryl now has access to the shelf and more space around her desk for her rubbish bin and paper shredder. I've minimized the amount of space that my junk takes up since our office really is more Cheryl's since she's in it all week long and I only use it occasionally.

This is what comes of being on cello chat forums

Linked there because the first video is set to Saint-Saens "The Swan". A very popular cello piece (I've even performed it). Some funny stuff.

Requires Quicktime

Friday, May 20, 2005

New Lino and the Attendant Chaos

Photos to follow later. The co-op is replacing the linoleum in the kitchen, office, hall, closets, and downstairs bathroom. Which is a good thing as it was in really bad shape from the previous occupant when we moved in. I had asked if they could do the dining room at the same time and they agreed!

Home Improvement
A photo set by Allan & Cheryl

However -the timing wasn't good. Allan is swamped at work and I still have a lot to get ready for church tomorrow. We were told Wed afternoon that they would be here at 8:30 Friday morning and we had to have EVERYTHING out of the rooms beforehand. The kids and I cleaned out the dining room over thursday - which meant taking EVERYTHING off of and out of the shelves and the china cabinet. Then Allan helped to get all the office stuff out Thursday night. Everything had to go into the living room - which renders it unusable.

This morning when the workmen arrived - they were pleased to see we actually HAD moved everything out except the fridge and stove. Apparently the unit they did previously - nothing had been moved and that unit occupant will be facing quite a hefty bill for the time the workmen spent moving the stuff so they could get started. Here - they were able to get right to the business of removing the dining room rug and preping the old lino for the new stuff to go down on top of it.

Now all this going on downstairs - I have to keep the kids gated upstairs. Though Michael, Melissa and Maddy were allowed one peek around the corner at the dining room rug being removed. The kids and I had "breakfast" upstairs at the little table in Melissa and Maddy's room. Breakfast being cold pizza buns I had prepared last night and sippy cups of juice. We worked on cleaning their rooms, doing laundry and watching CBC kids in our room. Allan had moved the TV up last night.

As things stand now - it's 11:30 am and the floor is done being prepped - but the leveling compound has to set before they can start laying the lino. So the workmen have left and will return in a couple of hours. I'm a bit disappointed that the lino for the dining room will not go out very far. It's on an angle from the hall by the kitchen out to the wall across - which is several feet further in than I was hoping. The end of the table WILL stick out over the rug some - so we will just have to make sure it's adults only at that end!

Since they won't even be back for a couple of hours to start putting the new lino it - this is not looking good for friday cleaning! Though my computer/desk and printer will HAVE to be set up tonight. I have crafts to prep for Sabbath school, my talk is no where NEAR ready. Notes to date are NOT printed out yet and the file is on the computer that's taken down. I had to climb over stuff to make it to the living room computer to post this! All the windows are open because the stuff smells awful and I figure the fumes can't be very good for us. The babies have had bottles and are down for a nap now. I just took some photos of the chaos and will take some more later when the new lino is in. Of course I can't download here so that will have to wait.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"Big sister Dora"

"Big sister Dora"
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I joined an online swap and my Aunt Kathy got me! She sent things for all the kids but really has made Maddy's day. She sent a huge Dora pillow doll for Maddy and a Dora video. In the video Dora's Mami has TWINS! Maddy barely would turn away for me to take these photos! She is so excited that "Dora has twins and we have twins!"

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wedding Photos

As mentioned in a previous entry, we finally managed to get some of our wedding photos into frames and up on the wall.

The irony of it is that last night I took 'em off the wall again and then out of their frames so I could scan them and give digital copies to Cheryl's parents. I cc'd Cheryl of course on the e-mail and she posted them last night to share.

The Bride
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Doesn't she look gorgeous? Our friend Richard took this with a zoom lens.

Wedding Cake by Julie
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The cake was delicious, but that is by inference only. I didn't actually eat the original cake, but a facsimile made later by the same Julie who made the first one.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Megan broke my glasses

Deceptively thin
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

My fault - I suppose for leaving them within reach of small people. I rescued my lenses out of her mouth but too late. Her sharp little chompers had already scratched and cracked the lenses beyond repair.

Allan managed to straighten out the frames somewhat and put the damaged lenses back in. But wearing them for any length of time is going to give me a horrific headache - plus I'm nervous about the possibily getting glass in my eye from the crack/chip.

So I'll be off to the optometrist on Monday morning. It's been almost 2 years since I got these glasses but close to 5 years since my last eye exam. So I doubt I'll be able to talk anyone into replacing my lenses this time without the eye exam.

I'm seriously considering contacts as the twins won't be able to grab them off my face. I was thinking about contacts last night actually - while doing self-portraits around 2am. This may be a good time to go ahead and try that.


The Master Bagel
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

This being a journal, I feel it appropriate to note some of Michael's more interesting habits of speech:

B for P - Michael says 'bajama' instead of 'pajama'. He also says 'Betend' insted of 'pretend'.

I forgot to mention this! When we were in the Philippines Michael was taught the word for cat - 'pousa'. But of course, it came out 'bousa', much to the amusement of his aunts and cousins.

Melissa - Michael has been calling her 'Molissa' instead of 'Melissa'.

I'm sure he'll grow of of these verbal tics, like lisping, but for now it's both amusing and annoying.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

In a House of Music

I am so glad that Cheryl is playing her cello again. It has shifted the dynamic in our house again, for the better.

I'm not a musician myself, but I love hanging around musicians. They have access to a world that I can't reach. My mother tried to get me into piano lessons as a youngster, but I just did not have the inclination for making music back then. I still don't, but I appreciate those who can.

We may live in an age of digitally perfect recordings, but live music will always have a quality that no technology can match.

New Orchestra Outfit
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

The discipline required is one of those things that inspires me. Cheryl only resumed playing a month or two ago, but her dedication has started to pay off already. She will be 2nd stand* in the cello section at the next concert her orchestra plays. I have friends who also play instruments and you should see their faces when I tell them that she has been logging a consistent hour of practice a day.

I also enjoy that hour or so of calm where Cheryl sits down and works on her exercises and performance pieces. She seems to think that it must be exceedingly boring to listen as she saws her way through a difficult technical excercise, but I really don't think it any different than looking through a painter's sketchbooks. Sometimes you gain a far greater appreciation of the underlying structure when you see or hear the work in progress, than if you were only presented with the final product.

* I have to mention Cheryl's standard disclaimer that the level of musical competition in a community orchestra is just not the same as you would find in a school or professional outfit. People who play in community orchestras tend to be those folks who gave up chasing the fame, glory, and pay of a professional career - and now play for the fun of it. They prefer to have someone else be the first chair so they can enjoy the relative obscurity of the back rows - away from the conductor's attentive eyes and ears.

Concert Black

Concert Black
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

My new "cello" outfit came in the mail today. Boat neck top and "cello skirt" from concertblack.com. I have to have all black for FVS concerts.

I followed a link on the cello chat forums. The outfit is washable, doesn't wrinkle even when stuffed in a duffle and stretchy enough to allow movement while playing an instrument.

The only downside was they don't yet carry petite sizes. So on me - the skirt is quite a bit too long. I'll have to hem it at home before the 1st FVS concert on June 5th.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Photographic proof

Auntie Gail
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Proof that Attie Gail really is in town! We dropped her off in Vancouver this afternoon after an aquarium trip.

The OC and GMP will be please to note - however - that I did NOT need to purchase any food or drinks while out or even refill waterbottles! Plus we have discovered "pea-butter" (no nuts at all!) and the older M's will eat it! YAY! I forsee a summer of sandwiches and adventures.

I will say the aquarium with the 5 M's is not for the faint of heart. Those kids are going to have to listen a lot better before I will solo with all 5 - that's all I have to say for now!

Photographers in Training

Photographers in training
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Michael (4) and Melissa (5) took photos of each other taking photos. Michael with our Canon A60, Melissa with Gail's Canon A85.

Melissa's photo
Originally uploaded by Gailontheweb.

Twins had their 1st ice-cream cones

Wow - I get to hold it myself!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

A milestone - their FIRST ice-cream cones. As you can see by Maribeth's grin - ice-cream cones were a HUGE hit! Maribeth managed to eat her tiny cone cone without incident. Megan managed to drop half the ice-cream off the top of the cone and then SIT on it. The kids had baths all around afterwards!

Don't sit on your ice cream
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Promise of Adventure

It has been opined elsewhere that Cheryl and I are a few fries short of a Happy Meal (tm). We don't necessarily agree, seeing as outdoor adventures with a family has been on our checklist of things to do with each other for a very long time. So it really shouldn't surprise anyone that we spent part of our Mother's Day "date" scoping out new equipment for our crew. Nor should it have shaken anyone's tree that we actually brought home a (albeit cheap) 6 man tent.

It fills our living room!
Originally uploaded by Gailontheweb.

It's up with only 2/4 poles.
Originally uploaded by Gailontheweb.

What should surprise you is that this tent actually lives up to its billing as a 6-man tent. It is definitely over twice the area of most mountaineering 3 man tents. This is a direct contradiction to the general camping rule of thumb wherein tent capacities are overstated by a factor of 1.5. Usually "6 man tent" means 6 people corresponding to the stature of your average Asian senior citizen.

Cheryl and I are well aware of what quality looks like in outdoor equipment. I bought my first solo Moss tent over 10 years ago now for $345 - and it was on sale! Our friend Richard gave us a 3 man Moss tent as a wedding present. These tents are probably among the most skookum mountaineering shelters you can get. One reviewer described the current state-of-the-art tents as being "lighter than smoke or the down of unborn geese" and designed by "teams of NASA engineers and witch-doctors". Another reviewer described my Outland as "a portable boulder".

The philosophy behind this tent and our purchase of it is simple: cheap but adequate.

There's no way we are going to let our harum-scarums loose on our high-end equipment. Given our current solvency, we could probably replace either tent about 10 years after Cheryl's retirement date.

A quick tour around our portable Motel 66: The tent floor is made from the same material as most recreational tarps. It's plasticized cloth, and probably not terribly durable, but it is sufficient to the task.

The 4 poles are fibre-glass with aluminum connectors. When I opened the package for the first time, I got a lingering whiff of the resin that holds the glass fibres together. I used to work in a canoe factory so that brought back some memories!

There's no rip-stop or light-weight nylon to be found here, so erecting this tent definitely requires (a) two people, (b) a crane or derrick, or (c) the ability to race around like the road-runner to get all the sides up so no poles snap under the weight of the fabric.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Allan got the swingset set up!

All Done!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

It took him 2 whole evenings WITH help from his Dad for much of this evening. But it's finally up and ready for the kids to play on it when they wake up tomorrow morning.

Actually Megan and Maribeth had a sneak preview because their swing didn't require assembly so once the frame was up I let the twins take a ride in the baby swing. Even though the set was not anchored down. I didn't think 17 lbs of Maribeth or 21 lbs of Megan would be likely to topple the whole swing set! ;)

Though nature may have other plans - it started raining just after Allan finished up and was packing up his tools.

The 6 legs are anchored to the ground (we hope well enough - as we didn't get an ok from the co-op to put cement in). The swing set is for children up to 10 years.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Mother's Day Flowers

With flash
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

From Allan. He also let me have a long nap this afternoon. I've been just wiped out this week. I played around with the flowers, lighting and camera settings for a while tonight. He said he likes this photo because it looks like the flowers are floating in space.

All of this photographic experimenting was while Allan was working on printing out photos for the Mother's Day cards for the Grandmas from the kids. The ones that go in the mail will be seriously late. But I figure I might as well mail them out anyway. I've been so unorganized lately.

Our wedding - just over 6 years ago

Our wedding - just over 6 years ago
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Hard to believe it's been 6 years. Allan was in the Philippines on our actual anniversary this year AND we both managed to completely forget our anniversary.

So as an anniversary gift to ourselves - we FINALLY after over 6 years - got a couple of our wedding photos enlarged, framed and hung on our wall!