Sunday, 31 August 2008

Politics again

So McCain picked his VP...

(Ganieda, do you want a brief intro to US elections? Just in case, I'll skip it for now. ;-) Let me know if you get an interest going.)

What prompted me to write about this at all is Dr Dobson...

Dr James Dobson, author and radio personality, has said for quite a while that he wouldn't vote for John McCain because McCain supports embryonic stem cell research, which involves killing pre-born babies and hasn't shown any medical breakthroughs or benefits (as opposed to adult stem-cell research, which doesn't hurt anybody and has helped out a lot).

As an aside, blogger no longer recognises contractions. Kinda irritating.

Anyway, Dobson said that McCain's stance on that issue was wrong, and he'd rather not vote than vote for him.

Aside number two, why don't the big names recognise the other political parties? America is NOT a two-party system anymore, even if it used to be.

So now McCain picked a pro-life female as his vice president choice, and Dobson says, well, he will vote for them after all. How does Palin make things better for Focus on the Family? I think she was a good choice for the Republican party, but she's not a good choice for me. Get this. She went back to work in the Alaskan Governor's office 3 days after giving birth to her youngest son, saying, basically, that if a man can do it, so can a woman. How does that "focus on the family?" How are those kind of values an improvement on McCain's?

Dobson has impressed me several times in the last few years, but I don't understand his reasoning here.

I will be voting my conscience come November. I know from a secular veiwpoint this is futile - "throwing my vote away" - butI know it is God who gives authority, and I know that God will hold me accountable for what I, personally, do.
I haven't decided yet if I will vote for Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, or Independant Alan Keyes, but I'm sure it will be one or the other. I still say too bad Ron Paul stayed with the Republicans instead of joining the Constitution Party, as he'd built up a bit of a following.

So there's my gripe for the month. :-)
(sorry it's so disjointed. When I composed this in my head 2 days ago, it sounded much better.)

Thursday, 28 August 2008


Bob has lots of new pictures on Flickr (link on right titled "our photos") - go take a look.

Yesterday I gave William a haircut and he sure looks different. Tonight after dinner we went to the park. The sun came out! So we are surviving.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

4 posts in one day!

Now, as to why this was all so much more complicated than that, and why I'm just now getting it up here... Today Bob left for a TDY in Iceland. I didn't want to say anything until they were well on their way. So in the midst of our packing and planning for the weekend, Bob was also packing and planning for his month-long trip.
He was supposed to show up at 9:30 this morning, but about 8 they called and said not til 2:45 this afternoon. So we got a few hours together, and went out for lunch before saying goodbye. I also rented a movie from the library - The End of the Spear, and then we came home since I was wearing my pretty shoes and didn't want to do anymore walking. Plus the babies needed a nap.

We took things easy this afternoon, and now it is past my bedtime.
I hope you've enjoyed reading all the mess of posts.

Day three

We slept better Sunday night, and were ready to head toward home, having feasted on a breakfast of Cocoa Pops that we found at the Tesco convenience store in Brackley after dinner Sunday night (the actual grocery store being closed).

So first we had to decide where to go. Hmmm. I found a shopping center sign on our map at a town just south of us, so we decided to go there. Next, we had to figure out how to check out, as the hotel reception people were still off work (Monday was a "bank holiday" in England). Where was that envelope that we got with our keys when we arrived? Diaper bag? nope. Camera bag? nope. Table? Desk? Van? Suitcase? GRRR! So I called the security forces people just to see if they knew about checking out as well as checking in, and the female there acted like she'd never heard of people signing in with them - "This is security: call reception." Duh! Anyway, finally finally Bob found it. What we were to do, according to the little slip of paper that came with the reciept and the base map, was sign the reciept and leave it on the kitchen counter, go out, lock the door, and push the key in through the mail slot. Okee dokee.

So we drove ALL the way around that town, following signs for the outlet mall. I must say, Bicester Village (the name of the mall) is the best sign-posted attraction we've been to so far. Every turn was clearly marked all the way from the motorway to the parking lot. But the shopping was a bit of a dissapointment. Very crowded, and more people piling in as we left. The setup was fine, just the stores themselves didn't have a lot we were interested in. I did go in a book store, and got a 1GBP bargain book about family-friendly pubs.

We missed a turn going out of town, and ended up back in Brackley for lunch. We didn't want to do the Crown Inn again, the fish bar was still closed, and the diner still expensive. So we were headed out of town when I spotted a Chinese takeaway that was open. Bob expertly manouvered the car in a u-turn, back to the one-way street the takaway was on, and got a space right out front. He and I got Chinese (cashew chicken for him, ginger chicken for me, and rice to share), and the children each got a hamberger - in a bun, not fried (those being the hamburger options). It took a few minutes, but was HOT and fresh, and ours was very good. No compliants about the burgers, so I guess they were good, too. We ate in the car at the main car park area, which has free public toilets. (YEA!! I think the British are catching on about the public toilet idea. We've actually seen at least one in every city we've been to. Dave Barry will have to update his travel guide).

So we made our way toward home, taking back roads where we could find them. Going past St Ives we saw a pretty scene from the highway, so exited and went into town there. Turns out they were having a market (at least as big as Cambridge's) so we walked through there, buying a hat for Riah to play Robin Hood (never mind that it has a picture of Tigger on it; it's green!), and two reflective coats for walking in the dusk this winter. Then we found the river (what we'd seen from the highway) and watched the swans for awhile. Oh, we went in the grocery store there (Waitrose, I think) and bought a box of ice creams to enjoy before going through the market. They were pretty good, but the children got very messy.

After that stop we came on toward home, but seeing that we would pass by Mildenhall, and that it was getting late, we went on base there and had supper at the BX. So it was bedtine when we got home, and we were all glad to be back.

Day two

The agenda for this trip was to "see the Cotswolds." "The Cotswolds" is a vague area that is supposed to be quintessential England, with pretty villages all made of "honey colored" stone, gentle brooks, blah blah. Any touring book or video features at least one town from this area.

When we went to bed Saturday night, the girls were in the living room, on a sleeper sofa and a sleeper chair. William was in a playpen in the living/dining room. The boys were in the second bedroom, and Bob and I were in the master bedroom. I was tired from walking, but when I got in bed my shins started cramping, so I had to walk around the room before I could go to sleep. Then, about 2am, William woke up crying. I tried to nurse him back to sleep, but it was no go, and he was waking up the girls. So I brought him to bed with us. What a dumb idea! Who ever thought of co-sleeping? He wanted to play, but would lay down if I hugged him. Then he scooted around, and patted me, and kicked me, and cooed, and scooted... I never got to REM sleep that night, and Bob didn't fare much better.

After breakfast of milk and poptarts, we headed out. First stop was the Rollright Stones, a standing stone circle about 30 minutes from the base. It is said that you cannot count the same number of stones twice, and I got 73 the first time around and 70 the second time, but didn't want to take the time to go around again. I tried to get a feel for the atmosphere, but it just seemed like a curiosity to me. Maybe the total irreverance of the children had something to do with it.

From there we went to Stow-on-the-Wold, and it was a nice little town/village. Being Sunday, the bookstores (I saw 3) were closed, but there was a market thing going on, and I bought a cake and a book. We stopped for lunch (peanut butter sandwhiches) near the town stocks, but rain was threatening so we cut things short and went back to the car. Another 5 minutes to Bourton-on-the-Water, where the sun was shining brightly and the tourists were out in full force. It was a pretty town, with lots of little shops, and the "water" running through, but it was SO crowded we just couldn't relax and enjoy it. As we were all getting nice and grumpy, we stopped at a pub with a child's play area in the back garden, and let the children play while Bob and I each had a pint of Coke. That helped a lot.

Another 5 minutes from there was Lower Slaughter, another picturesque village. Only, they don't have a parking lot. There is one strip of road that one *could* park on, but that was full for an "event" across the street - we guessed a wedding. We drove around town twice, and then went on to Upper Slaughter. We found a place to park there, and Bob and I walked down to the creek while the children watched a video in the van. It was pretty, too.

It was getting on to dinner time by now, so we headed toward the room, looking for a place to stop. We actually went past the base to a town called Brackley, which we teased each other by calling it broccoli. There was a fish bar, closed, an "American Diner," expensive, and an Inn with a bar and a restaurent. We looked over the menu posted by the door (an awesome tradition, by the way), and went in. They had just opened for dinner (5:30) so we were the only ones there, and we got wonderful service. The tables were set with tablecloths, bread plates, two glasses for each place, several knives, spoons, and forks... but it was cheaper than the 'diner' next door. I had lasagne, Bob had fish and chips, and the children had ham sandwiches and sausages with mashed potatoes and peas.

After dinner we stopped by the really cool playground on base before going home to bed. I played some, but when I went down a slide I landed in a giant puddle and soaked through my skirt. Oh, well. It was fun anyway.

Our official opinion: the Cotswolds are fine, but not more special than other English villages, and a lot more crowded. Not a destination unto themselves.

Intro and day one

Bob had off from work this Monday, making a 3-day weekend, so we decided to use it.

Saturday was Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk; a day when groups of people all over the globe met to walk around and take pictures to be uploaded onto Flickr for a contest hosted by Scott Kelby, author of some Photoshop books and president of National Association of Photoshop Professionals. Bob recently joined NAPP, and was eager to go on a photo walk. After a little work, he joined the walk in Cambridge, which was to go from 11-2. I figured that still gave us the afternoon, so we booked a hotel on RAF Croughton for Saturday and Sunday nights. (But more about that later)

So, Saturday we got up and ready, packed the van, and stopped by Tesco for bread. Then on to Cambridge, where we took the Park and Ride to a shopping center. I'd discovered that there is a free bus/shuttle service in the downtown area, and it stopped at this shopping center, too. Only not at the same place as the park & ride bus. So we went inside, and finally found the info desk, and the lady told us where to go. By the time we arrived at the meeting place the main group had already started off, but there were still 2 men there. Another came along, and he and one of the first guys went off, leaving us and one other guy. Turns out he wasn't from Cambridge, either, and we knew more about getting around than he did. It was a bit of "blind leading the blind" at times, as we wandered around town and the men took pictures. The children did pretty good at not whining, even when they had to eat lunch while walking.

At one place we stopped for a minute to listen to a street preacher, and then went on to the next corner, where the guys took pictures and decided which way to go. As we were about to step out again I did a headcount and we were one short. Azariah was nowhere in sight! The girls (and our friend) stayed with the stroller while Bob and I went looking. After a few breathless minutes I saw him, surrounded by concerned women, clearly upset and with dirty streaks down his cheeks from the tears, back in front of the preacher. The woman closest to him told me the facts she'd gathered from him "His name is Azariah, you are 13 years old, and his daddy is 14." :-) He was very glad to see us, and stayed close the rest of the day. Afterwards, Taryn said she'd heard the preacher shouting "Azariah was lost," but she didn't know it was "our" Azariah. All I'd heard was "we are all lost [without God]" and hadn't paid any attention.

So, 2pm finally came, and we met up with some other photogs at a pub. The children ran upstairs 3 or 4 times each to use the toilets, while I nursed William and Bob visited. Then we started back toward a bus pickup point, and I had the bright idea to pay my water bill if we found a "payzone" place. (Bills are weird over here!) We saw one, went in, but they said no, we had to go to a "pay point" place - maybe down the street. So we went in there, and they said to pay at a post office. Sigh. Anyway, we made it back to our car about 3:30.

I drove from there to RAF Croughton, about an hour and a half. The Commissary website said theirs was open until 6, but when we arrived at 5:30 it was locked up tight, not to reopen until Tuesday. So we stopped at the gas station for a jug of milk and some poptarts (for breakfast), and (with some difficulty) found the TLF (temporary living facility) where we were to stay. Croughton is a very small base, so the hotel wasn't staffed on weekends. To check in, we got our room key from the security forces office. TLF is actually in the housing area, and is just a regular base house (2 bedrooms), but furnished. So we quickly unpacked and went looking for supper. We ended up going to the motorway services, and eating at the Burger King there. $50something for fast food! But we got full. Then it was back to our room (we took a different route), and bed.

I feel like I'm leaving out details, but it has been a few days...

Monday, 25 August 2008


You all should know how much we enjoy doing every thing at once... We've had a lovely weekend, but the next two days will be very full, so I don't know if I'll be able to get it written out until Wednesday.


Details to follow.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

about time for an update

So I haven't been typing much lately. Not sure why. ... Anyway...

Yesterday was Ella's birthday. She is now 2. It was also the annual registration day for the bases' homeschool group L.I.F.E. So we got up and cleaned the house, I decorated the cake - The cake was supposed to be a ladybug, because Ella likes them and we thought it'd be cute. So last weekend I made a test cake according to the book. It was baked in my Pampered Chef glass mixing bowl, which I'd tried for Naysha but that didn't work, and it turned out okay this time (cooked for 2 hours!), but the shape was all wrong for a ladybug. So we thought it over and decided to just use the Bundt pan, and fill the middle with a cupcake. The next challenge was to get the frosting red enough without tasting awful. Found a decent balance there. The boys were quite concerned when they saw the batter because it was all chocolate instead of spotted. :-) Then I baked it, frosted it with chocolate, and it still wasn't red and spotted! I kept telling them to trust me and see. SO when I finally got it done (frosted in red, spotted with mini oreos, and sprinkled with red sugar for more color) I proudly asked them to come see. Cedwryck took one look and said it looked like a turtle. bah!

Anyway, got that done, made Sloppy Josh meat and put it to simmer in the crockpot, cleaned up the house for home-coming, and went to the meeting. I joined the group, got a little info, and the children had an ice cream. Then we walked over to a playground since it was between showers at the moment. After everyone got wet from sliding we went on to the commissary for milk and burger buns. Shopping in the afternoons is BAD! I can see the need for more intense training times. After 30 minutes or so Bob showed up, very tired and sweaty. He'd been to group PT and they wore him out (and everyone else there). So we wrapped up and Bob took the children to the car while I got in line for the slowest cashier on the planet.

Back home, and Ella and William were asleep, having missed their naps. We got the groceries in, woke the babies up so they could fuss while we set the table, and had a very grumpy dinner. I hate birthdays, I really do. Lots of extra stress and work, and no one enjoys it any more than a regular day. Anyway, we made it and it was time for cake. I brought it in, anticipating a happy exclamation of "bickabug!" (Ella's word for bug - we guess she's saying "pick-up-bug" to indicate the bug is not one that bites or stings). Instead I got a very confused look. After a minute of looking and thinking, Ella decided the cake must be a frog. >slap forehead in frustration< So we ate it, and it was repeatedly declared "yummy." Then, as I take Ella to wash in the sink, she looks over her shoulder at the remaining half of the cake and says, "bickabug!" Like it just dawned on her what it was. Oh well.

After a bit we had presents. She got some videos that I picked up at the thrift store last week, an old doll of Naysha's, a new pair of church shoes, and some dresses from Gram and Papa. She REALLY liked the shoes. They are "pretty." She wore the dress Papa picked out, and the shoes, until bedtime. Oh, we also bought her a flowering plant and set it on the table.

So now she is a big girl and my kitchen is a mess. And I know why I don't write more often. But I'm sure I will again.

Monday, 18 August 2008

PS on how to occupy

Well, remember I said they didn't damage anything?
One exception.

Naysha gave herself a haircut.

You can see the picture on Flickr. She whacked off around her face, so in a few weeks she will have bangs. Bob was combing her hair for church and there was a big chunk of cut-off hair stuck in the back somehow, and then we saw it. Bob nearly cried when he had to trim it up to make it even.

She tried for half an hour to think of a reason for having done it, but came up blank. Well, not blank... I'm the same way when it comes to articulating feelings, so I know she was thinking a lot, but unable to express anything.

I never have understood the child-cutting-her-own-hair phenomenon that seems so widespread, and was hoping to gain some insight. I guess that'll have to wait.

Friday, 15 August 2008

How to occupy 5 children for 6 hours

... Give them some cardboard boxes, a new package of markers, and a roll of masking tape.

I haven't seen them all day! They even ate lunch outside, and haven't fussed (much), and unless you count the extra colors on their clothes, there has been no damage to people or objects. I guess it won't hurt for the school work to break for the occasional art day.

They made an oven and a fridge, a mail box, an arrow, and drumsticks. There may be more, but that's all I've seen so far.

I did some browsing online, filled out my absentee voter thing, wrote a birthday card for my grandma, made a practice cake for Ella's birthday next Wednesday, worked out on the cross trainer, and played with William.

I found this cool website (actually, I think Ganieda linked me to it once before) where you can read books online. I think it's all public domain stuff (older books which haven't renewed the copyright), so it's legal... then I followed a link and signed up to be a proofreader for them. This is the site for proofreaders. I know, like I have time to do that! But it's one page at a time, and it's a good cause.

Time to check the cake!

Thursday, 14 August 2008


When I woke up this morning, it was 51*F outside, and 64* inside. Yes, I turned on the heater.
After a week of rain, the clear skies were irresistible and the children went out to play. I wanted out, too, so we packed up and met Bob for lunch. After lunch we went to the park, and it got "too hot" to play in the sun. On our way to the BXtra it began to rain. So that's nearly all 4 seasons in one day. :-) We just had a beautiful sunset, and now the weather report is over.

Monday, 11 August 2008


The map is supposed to show the route we took; if you click on the bigger map link it will show it, I think. I tried to edit it, but the post disappears whenever I do.

lazy day

Sunday we decided to try the 4:30 service, as our regular one has a few elements that we aren't satisfied with. That opened up the whole day for other stuff.

After some sitting around, computer work, etc, we got dressed and went to the every-other-week boot sale in Kennett. There were 3 rows of junk for sale, and on the first row I shopped and hoped that the children would behave. They didn't, so the next two rows I kept them in line. On that first row I bought t shirts for William to grow into and 2 skirts for Taryn, at 20pence each, and Hilfiger overalls for Riah for 1GBP. Bob got a book about butterflies. I could have bought a dozen teapots for Mom if I thought she wanted them.

After that we went to Newmarket and parked in their parking garage, which is free on Sunday. The shopping mall thing was about 1/2 open (I think more stores open after noon), so we walked through that and headed down High Street. Overwhelmed with lunch options, we chose Wimpy burgers. We'd never been there before. They have several tables, so we didn't fill up the whole restaurant, and the staff was friendly and very attentive. The children each got a meal deal with a cheeseburger; all but Ella ate theirs, and when I tasted hers I understood why she only wanted the 'chips.' Bob and I both had bacon egg sandwiches, and they were very good. Only cost 5BGP more than Burger King the other day, and we got real plates, with silverware even, plus personal service. We made our way back to the car, and then back home for a second because Bob got ketchup on his shirt.

Since we still had lots of time, we took the long way to base:

View Larger Map
We'd never been that way before. We stopped in Moulton to picture the church and ducks. In Icklingham (I think) I spotted a mess of ripe blackberries beside the road, and Bob saw an old building he liked the looks of, so we pulled over. I got a bag and stood on the grass and weeds on the side of the road and picked berries. I got 3 nettle stings, but it was worth it. Wow! Ripe blackberries are worth getting. We stopped in the BX for a minute to get food coloring for Ella's birthday cake (to get red, I had to buy a box of 8 colors!). Then it was time for church. The chaplain for that service is TDY back in the States, so things were a little less organized than usual, but we enjoyed parts of it. The worst part was that our children were tired and not so well behaved as they ought to be. Cedwryck fell asleep, Riah stuck his feet up in the air, and Ella and William wrestled with us the whole time. Then we had pizza for dinner, and bought ice cream to bring home.
The children each had a scoop while Bob ironed his uniform and I loaded the dishwasher, and then it was bedtime.

This morning some of the berries were already moldy. No wonder they are so pricey at the supermarkets. It was nice weather yesterday, and this morning looks nice, too. Yeah! Now I can go trim the hedge again so neighbor Bob will not bug us about it. :-)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Thetford Forest

Well, just to be different, Bob got the pictures on before I got my post up.

Yesterday was forecast to be rainy, but we wanted to do something anyway. When we got up the skies were perfectly clear so we decided to check out Thetford Forest park. By the time we ate breakfast and got ready it was starting to cloud up, but we went for it.

First we went to Tesco to get bread and bananas for the picnic. While there Bob remembered to buy minutes for his phone, which reminded him that he'd left his phone at home. Last weekend his phone battery went dead and he got in trouble at work because they couldn't get a hold of him. So we went back to the house and get the phone. Then we were on our way.

The park entrance is about 1/2 an hour from here. Traffic on one section was terrible, but it didn't last long. William was asleep when we arrived, but he gamely went along for a ride in the stroller with Ella. We checked out the store first, but there wasn't much there, so we started down a trail marked with a handicapped sign - we figured if a wheel chair could get down it, a stroller could. There were lots of other people there, but the path wasn't crowded. We pretty much walked along til we got to this cool tree, and the children crawled under it and around a side path back to the trail. When we got to the next tree like it, Ella climbed out of the stroller to go, too. She went under the tree, then came to me for a drink, and then disappeared.
We were at a 4-way intersection of path, plus the open under-tree area. We each went down a path, calling for her. Finally, I thought I heard an answer, and went toward it. "ELLA!" "Yes?" She was back down where we'd been, over a hill and around a corner. She was very surprised when we put her back in the stroller.
Just ahead was a themed play area - one of several we saw. There was a giant spider with web labyrinth, a bird nest, a woodpecker, a squirrel... I don't remember what else. Each at intervals along the path in the woods. After a bit it started to drizzle, so Bob had to put the camera away. We found a "campsite" area with 7 large rocks around a mock campfire, and a tipi nearby. We sat on the rocks and had our picnic of peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, chips, and cookies. Well, Riah stood in the tipi while the rest of us sat on the rocks.
There is a "high ropes adventure" called "Go Ape" in the forest. There is an additional charge for it, and we didn't do it, but we could see various parts of the trail above our heads as we walked. It is a series of rope ladders, zip lines, swinging bridges, climbing nets, etc across the tree tops. Bob took a few pictures of that - it looks pretty cool.
Then there was a "miniature go ape" for the children to explore, about 6 inches from the ground. That was the main playground area, and we spent awhile there. The 3 older children went on a zip line, and they all got the swing, slide, and climb.
To get to the squirrel play area we had to go through a maze of pine trees, and that area was neat. The light was red from all the dead needles, and it was quiet, and the trees protected us from the rain. It really started raining while the children were climbing the 3 story squirrel, so we called them back and headed for the woods again. It didn't look like it was going to stop raining soon, and we could see the entrance, so we made a dash across the open space to our car, where we dabbed off with paper towels and changed diapers.

It was only 1:45. We decided to go to Mildenhall (we needed a new surge protector since the children broke the old one). It was a bit of a drive over there (45 minutes?) and the children all went to sleep. Then we did our normal thing there, ending with dinner (at 4pm) at the food court.

On the way home we stopped at the Kennet train station and picked some blackberries beside the road there. I got a handful. There were oodles of blackberries in the forest, but they are still small and green. This whole blackberry thing is weird because in Oklahoma they come ripe in June. But a week or two ago I was in the back yard with the children, and happened to look up. There is a bramble growing up in the middle of the hedge, and it had a ripe berry on it! I got up to pick it, and found there were 12 all together - enough for us each to have 2. The two I got were the ones that were so ripe they smushed in my fingers, and they were so sweet! It tasted like flavored sugar. So ever since I have been looking for berries wherever we go, with not much success.

And that was Saturday.

Friday, 8 August 2008


By 9am the children and I had the housework done. Dishes were done, washer was going, everything was picked up and vacuumed, and Taryn even cleaned the boys' toilet. And I was bored. So I made bread, knowing it wouldn't be ready for lunch, but planning ahead for Friday.
I played with the babies while older ones played on the computer.
The weather was discouraging - heavy cloud cover threatening a downpour any minute, very humid, but not cold. So I looked at my 10 day forecast and it said Thursday was the least chance of rain until next Friday. So I determined to go to the park, but it was 10:30 now, and we eat at 11, so we went as soon as we finished lunch.
We started off well enough, but as we crossed the street at the park entrance, thunk "wahhahha." Taryn had tripped on the curb and scraped her knee. So we looked at it, and hugged for a minute, and she decided she could still play. They ran to the playground while I pushed William in the stroller through the trees, looking for blackberries (only found a few green ones). Then I pushed some on the swings while some rode the see-saw. Then Taryn, Naysha, and Riah climbed on the spinny thing (click the word to see a picture) and wanted me to push them fast, so I did. When it stopped Taryn was nearly sick, Naysha wandered off, and Riah wanted to go again. He picked a spot, I wound up for the push, "one, two, threeee," "thunk WAAAHAAAA." I had barely let go when it threw Riah to the ground beside me (he'd spun half way around), and he hurt "everywhere." It was a few minuted before he was recovered enough to play some more. We eventually played enough, then walked the path through the woods (no blackberries). While under the trees, it started to rain. I was willing to wait a bit for it to stop, but the children decided they didn't mind the wet now, so we started home.

Ella took a nap and Taryn did her school work.
Bob called to talk about the computer situation, and we decided that I should meet him at the BX so we could decide. Bob has been able to think of nothing else for days. So we ate at Taco Bell, then shopped. The Mac is just too expensive. Bob REALLY wants a computer that will work. So we bought the HP. They had a cheaper one, but it didn't have the wireless LAN or the TV tuner, so we got the big one.
We looked at a projection tv they had, but it wasn't a high resolution.

Home in time for Bible study and bed. Then we got out the computer, got Firefox. Got CS3 installed. It said we had to "deregister" another copy, because we're only allowed 2 copies. SO Bob went to his laptop, because it works right on mine, but it is so sideways it didn't even have the deregister option. It works on the new comp anyway. Then we went to bed, and that's our day.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Vote in my poll

Here's the story. Bob is getting irritated at his laptop. It seems to pick random things each day that won't work. The big thing is his new photo processing program, CS3, is supposed to have a plugin called "Camera RAW," and it does on my computer, but it doesn't on his. He blames this, in part, on Kasperski antivirus, which he has tried to uninstall, but, like Norton, it is very stubborn and impossible for a normal person to be completely rid of. Were there enough commas in that sentence? Also, the hard drive isn't big enough, and a few other things.

So anyway, at the BX Sunday we looked at the Apple iMac desktops, which looks like a BIG flat panel monitor with a keyboard. The good one is $1789. Macs are supposed to be "better" than PCs - faster, less prone to viruses, more reliable, easier to use (once you get used to it). But, many programs are made only for PC; it doesn't have a memory card reader (for the pictures), so we'd have to get a USB plug in card reader; it doesn't have TV or video in or out; as an all-in-one it has limited upgrades (and only comes with a 350 GB hard drive).

We went back last night - we went in for a Bible study that we may be joining - and they had an HP desktop for $1050 or so. It is just the computer, but we already have a monitor, and it has everything. It's a quad core (good for multi-tasking and high performance programs like CS3), has 6GB memory, a 600something GB hard drive, built in TV tuner and wireless LAN (which will be very handy since our current internet configuration is wireless), card reader, etc.

So the mac has a lot of challenges to overcome, but all mac users say it's worth it.

On the other hand, we don't "need" a computer right now, as we may not be doing any professional photography for a while yet (legal difficulties over here).

So vote in the poll and tell me what you think.

Sunday, 3 August 2008


Yesterday, Bob wanted to visit our friend in the hospital (see previous post), so we packed up and headed to Cambridge. We've been there 3 times before but still don't know our way around at all. Bob got step by step directions from google maps from our house to the hospital, and it's a good thing because the exit from the highway isn't marked with the "H" sign we get in the states (or any other). We left home about 9:30, after a breakfast of butter roll and eggs, and went to the hospital first. Paid 1.80 GBP to park for up to one hour, and found our way in and up to the 7th floor. The sign on the ward door said 2 visitors per bed, so I stayed in the hall with the children while Bob went in (there were a few chairs and a vending machine, but I wouldn't call it a waiting room). They were pretty good, and took turns using the toilets by the elevators. Bob was informed that visiting hours are officially 3-8pm, but it would be okay if he only stayed a little while. He was in probably 20-30 minutes, and then we made our way back out. Downstairs is a mini mall, with two restaurants, a book store, and a clothing store. I thought we might get a map in the book store and save having to find the tourist information center downtown, so we went in there. After walking to the back with our eyes closed to avoid the nudey magazines in full view, Bob looked at a few maps, but didn't find exactly what we wanted, so we went out another way.

We decided, based on past experiences, to take the "park and ride" option - go back toward the main road and park in a large lot, then ride the bus into town. It was 4.40GBP for all of us, as the children are free. In the bus station we picked up a free street map. I'm glad we didn't buy one. Turns out the bus stops at the hospital, so we could have avoided the parking fee if we'd known. Oh well. There wasn't really a list of bus stops, so we weren't entirely sure where to get off the bus, but it came up to another station, and everybody seemed to be getting off, so we did, too. I think we made a good call - we were pretty close to the downtown area.
We made some progress toward understanding the city's layout. Yea! We found the camera store with no trouble, and Bob bought a lens cover to replace the one he lost on the subway tracks in London last time. We looked at tripods, and found one that looked like it would work, but it seemed like we could get a better price online, so we didn't buy it. We were starting to get hungry, so didn't stop at the book stores or the kitchen store. :-( Walked back toward the main pedestrian area, and through the market. I bought a new headcovering for 2GBP. There were a couple of hot dog stands, a noodle bar, and 3 fruit stands, but nowhere to sit. (It was raining on and off all morning.) So we kept going. We walked through a big mall-like area, but all it had was a coffee shop.
Well, the map was sponsored by Chili's, and it was marked on the map, so we headed that way. Walked across a park and onto another mall, which the map said had Chili's in it. Walked through the mall; no sign of Chili's, but we saw signs for a food court! There was a pricey Italian place, a Burger King, a coffee shop, and a cheap pizza place. The food court (as the rest of the town) was very crowded. As we were trying to figure out how to get the stroller over to the one empty table we saw, a family left from a table on the outside of the seating area, so I went to hold it while the stroller and high chairs went out and around. (Hard to describe, not sure why I'm trying.) We collapsed gratefully and decided what to eat. Burgers! I feel kinda dumb going out in England and eating at an American fast food chain, but it really was our best option. I ordered - two bacon cheese Angus burgers, and 5 kid's meals. No free refills. There wasn't a scrap of food left, but I think we got full. It was about 2:30 when we ate.
Feeling much better, except that Bob was getting stabbing pains through his eye, we walked around the mall a little bit more. There is a store where everything is 1GBP, so we went in there. Found some cookies that looked good. After a good 30 minutes in line, we were out of there. A man was playing classical guitar in the open area of the mall, and we decided to buy one of his CDs. Got "The spirit of Scotland" for 10GBP.
The children were pretty tired (Ella was asleep in the stroller) so we decided to head on toward home. The bus stopped outside the mall, so it was a short walk, and a bit of a ride back to the car park. As we boarded the bus, we saw the Chili's - in the building next door to the mall. It was 4:30 when we got back to the car, and we drove home in good time. As we came out of the mall we saw that the sun was out now, so the children got to play outside when we got home. Somehow walking tires them out, but running energizes them. I don't get it.

We got our exercise, and are starting to figure out the city. Another trip or two and we will be giving people directions. :-) I think I like Cambridge. One day we might even make it over to the river and see the part that shows up in all the books on England.

Friday, 1 August 2008

prayer request

A family we know (I've mentioned before about meeting them at the BX) could use your prayers. The father was in a motorcycle accident (no other vehicles involved) on Sunday. He ruptured his spleen, which was removed, broke a couple of ribs, and punctured a lung. The family stopped here yesterday for dinner before going to visit him in the hospital. Well, wife/mother took the oldest and the baby to the hospital, and the two middle children stayed with us for an hour and a half. When the wife came back to pick up the children she said they discovered why the husband was feeling worse today. After 4 days of not eating, they gave him orange juice. Then tea with milk, and he's lactose intolerant. So now she has to worry about the hospital food as well as everything else. (I'd read an article in the local paper recently about local hospitals, and it said that this one wasn't great in the food department - also the parking is expensive.)
So anyway, if you would add the Harris family to your prayer list, they'd appreciate it.