Monday, August 25, 2008

Politrells Go Camping

Lansing was concerned that Ethan was nearing the critical age after which he would no longer be interested in camping, so we headed out a few Saturdays ago to equip ourselves with camping gear. The only tent we have is a 2-man pop-up, so we knew we'd have to upgrade. I have a horror of small spaces, and an aversion to sleeping directly on the ground, so we were looking for something roomy enough for an air-mattress. Given the weather in England, we also wanted space to play in case of rain, and we wanted to be able to stand upright inside. We came home with this:

Which was a little bigger than we'd expected. It's kind of hard to gauge these things from a 3x5-inch diagram. We had a trial run in our back garden, and after unfolding the thing there was some discussion re. taking it back to the store and exchanging it for something a little more understated (and not weighing 60 kilos), but in the end that sounded like more work than it was worth. So if you and 20 of your friends or relatives would like to come camping in England sometime, consider yourselves invited!

Ethan out on the back forty. That's some serious acreage.

Inside the main tent there are 2 4-man sleeping compartments. We put Avery's bed in one of them and our air mattress in the other, made a bed for Ethan, put all our gear inside, and still had an insane amount of floor-space. It was fairly ridiculous for a 2-day trip, but next summer we're hoping to go for a couple of weeks and then we'll be glad to have the room, I'm sure.

We went southwest to Swanage, which looks like this:

It was about a 2 1/2-hour drive, which is nearing Avery's limits of tolerance for the car. She toggles between three modes of behavior on long rides: Fighting the Restraints, Drunken Singing, and Comatose.

Somehow we managed to fill the cargo space for ONE NIGHT of camping.

It was a good trial run and because it was sunny it gave us a false sense of optimism and we'll probably go again soon. The beaches down there are gorgeous and also they have thousand-year-old castles to explore, if you're tired of the gorgeous beach.

More photos are here. (yes, I'm now on Flickr, Facebook, and Blogger- inescapable!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Viking Bay

Last week Lansing took a couple of days off and we took advantage of the rare sunny weather to fit in some day trips. We spent a day up near Ramsgate, at Viking Bay beach in Broadstairs.
We got a few decent snapshots from Lansing's phone. It was one of the warmest days we've had this summer, maybe close to 80 degrees. The water, however, was probably in the mid-fifties, but the English are undaunted by cold water and plowed right in. Maybe one day we'll acclimate enough to join them.

The kids had fun in the sand and at the mini-carnival there on the beach.

Avery has recently discovered Magnum bars; for some reason we thought it would be a good idea to give her one just as we were getting into the car. We used to have a no-eating-in-the-vehicle policy, but now it's come to this:

Could that hair be any messier?

A Magnum bar is nothing if not huge and melty, and eventually most of it slid down her arm and pooled in her lap, at which point we sluiced her down with a few baby wipes and headed for home.

The next day we made an ill-advised foray to Windsor Legoland (ill-advised because apparently most of southeast England had the same idea.) We got off on the wrong foot because in my haste to download driving directions and get on the road, I ended up printing out directions to Windsor Castle, and only realized my mistake as we were pulling up to the queen's front door. It was kind of like that Jack Handey scenario about taking the kids to a derelict warehouse and telling them Disneyland burned down. Ethan's fury mounted steadily as we proceeded to lose our way and wound up driving through Eton, at one point interrupting a wedding procession. It was not our day. But we got there eventually.

Somehow we only ended up with one photograph:

Avery germing it up in Duploland.

The kids really enjoyed it though and we didn't actually spend too much time waiting in lines; also, it did not rain on us, which always feels like a major victory here. I have to say, though, they have some of the worst food I have ever eaten, anywhere. And bear in mind that I have dined in train stations throughout eastern Europe, so that's really saying something. In the end we really had no choice but to declare it another Ice Cream for Dinner night.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Bad Parenting

These pictures are from a few months ago, too. After a morning spent fruitlessly trying to clean the kitchen while Avery climbed my legs and begged me to read to her, it finally occurred to me that she might give me a couple of minutes' peace if I brought the play kitchen in and let her fill up the sink with water. Poor Ethan, he was never allowed to have any kind of messy-play fun, because of my abject horror at the thought of cleaning up another mess and my failure to understand that wiping up water requires nothing more than an ordinary bath towel and 30 seconds of your time. I know, I'm slow. Anyway.

She enjoyed herself enormously, and I got her to wash a lot of the toys, too, so everybody was a winner. Here she is bathing her doll:

I promise we don't bathe her like this.

After a while she decided it was her turn:

She actually managed to wedge herself in there, but unfortunately the water was really cold by that time, and she was rather unhappy about it. I know, baby, some things SEEM like such great ideas at the time, but then it all goes terribly wrong. Happens to me ALL the time, and not only in the kitchen.

Cruel parent that I am, I took her picture before going to rescue her.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finally, Wedding Pictures

So it only took me 2 months, but here are a few photos from Kristin & David's wedding. It was a beautiful day, beautiful bride, and we wouldn't have missed it for anything!

Here's Kristin after the ceremony, in the gorgeous dress her friend Emily designed and made. Not the best lighting, I know; we were both standing in the shade because it was so hot.

Here she is with John & Carlos, and David is in the back somewhere.

And finally, one with the whole family.

I didn't get as many pictures as I wanted to, because Ethan & Avery were desperate for some shade and some lunch, so I can't wait to see all of hers. Lansing kept the kids outside during the ceremony, and from what I could tell Avery managed to pick most of the flowers on the grounds and trample the rest. Here they are in a rare cooperative moment:

We were lucky enough to be able to stick around for the 4th of July too; our first one in the US in 5 years. We took the kids to a parade, which kind of mystified them. We had to skip the fireworks though, since our flight was early the next morning.

Avery celebrates Independence Day in the traditional manner, with a tantrum.