Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

The Very Essence Of Fatherhood

As usual, Dadcentric sums it up.

I have slammed doors and stood behind them as you cried yourself to sleep.

I have slept in your bed, curled around you like a blanket and felt my legs grow slowly numb.

I heal your wounds and you fix me when I am broken. We meet in the middle and find much happiness there.

Seriously, Dadcentric has some of the best writing out there.

Too Fast

It's amazing how quickly we go from here…

To here…

Sometimes life just needs to slow down.

My Daughter Owns Me

When my daughter (my little three year old baby) got home, she informed me that she had a learnt, in her words, Taekwondo, at daycare today.

So not only does she totally own me already (she's a girl, she's my daughter, aka a dangerous combination), she's also going to be able to totally kick my ass.

Sigh. Daughters. They rock :-)

Rock And Roll!

We just spent a very fun evening at Andy and Jo's place. Eight adults, seven kids, pizza, beer and Rock Band!

The hightlight - Dad on guitar, daughter on drums.

Rock on!

Thanks to my darling wife for capturing the image…

When Will He Ask Me To Stop?

Every night since he was born (except Wednesday, that's Pub Quiz night!), I've put Julian to bed with some reading, songs and a few other rituals.

First we read - usually he chooses the book and then I sing to him. The same songs. The same order. Always.

  1. The alphabet song
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  3. Itsy, Bitsy Spider
  4. Michael Finnigan

Then we do the rituals:

  1. Phony - He gets to look at photos on my iPhone.
  2. Blowing up - We take turns “blowing each other up” until we we pop like a ballon. it's hard to explain - you have to be there…
  3. Hugs.
  4. Love you! G'night!

Recently though, I've been wondering “when will he ask me to stop”? He loves the songs, I love singing them to him, but he's five now. I'm guessing that this bedtime ritual will stop at some point before he goes to college, but I have no idea when.

And that makes me sad.

Finally Got A Wii

I randomly happened to be in Best Buy this afternoon with Julian and we were wandering past the shelves of Wii games.

“Hey dad! There's a Diego! game here, can we get it?”

“Sorry little dude, that's a Wii game and we don't have one those consoles.”

Cue the little dude doing the “I'm sad, you suck” thing, when I look down and see about ten boxes of what look like consoles. Note that I've never seen a Wii console retail box before - noone ever has them…

I pick it up. I feels heavy.

I look at it. It does indeed appear to actually be one of those fabled console units.

“Little dude! You're in luck! Go grab a second controller, a second nunchuck and a component AV connector while you're at it!”.

“Dad, I lost you at 'controller'.”

“Just grab that Diego game, I'll get the rest.”

And we left the store fully loaded with Nintendo gear…

Diversion: This evening I set everything up and am now determined to get a new A/V receiver for the home. Our TV our has one HDMI input, but tons of component ones. I really want it to switch the video signal, so I'm investigating something that can take 2 HDMI inputs, 3 components inputs, a smattering of optical and regular audio and just switch it all for me.

Any suggestions?

Anyhow, this little game unit rocks! I recognize I'm over a year late, but playing tennis and baseball, etc… with a motion sensitive controller is awesome. I also had a lot of fun creating Miis for all the family..

Little dude is going to have so much fun.

When I let him have a turn, that is.

Vacation!

As this is my millennium post, I thought it might be a good idea to post something a little different…

Last weekend we headed out east in the car and spent a few days in Lake Chelan. Man, was it hot! It hit 103o on Monday, but no matter - the kids loved the change of pace (as did the parents).


View Larger Map

We spent most of our time by the lake and the kids spent most of their time digging and mostly moving sand and water from one spot to another…

It was a nice little spot. There was a Starbucks and a Safeways right across the street from the hotel, and the hotel was downtown, close to a park which happened to have a fair going on at the same time we were there.

Plus there were some other unusual sights…

In the eating department, I can highly recommend Local Myth Pizza - definitely some of the best pizza I've ever eaten.

On the way home, we stopped off at the Rocky Ridge Dam. The facility is impeccably maintained and has a great visitor center. Something I (and the kids) particularly liked was the great views of the fish ladder. Much fun was had spotting the little fishes…

As always, photos are up on flickr. We'll be going back…

Photos From The Wedding

I've finally finished with the photos from Steve and Rachel's wedding. You can find them on Flickr.

During the wedding, Julian was also wandering around with a camera and captured this one of me! Nice shot, little dude.

Me. By Julian.

Two Trips To Seattle In One Day

It's unusual if I head to Seattle twice in a month, but twice in one day? Entirely uncharacteristic.

Saturday started off normally for the Lacey family with a trip to Arena Sports in Redmond for Soccer practice. Julian runs around playing soccer and complaining that he can't score a goal (on his own, he's got pretty good skills), whereas Jazzy really gets into the two year old class.

As soon as that was over it was a quick trip home for a snarnie and juice and Julian and I headed over to Seattle for the 2007 Bolla Grape Stomp at the Festa Italiana at the Seattle Center.

You see, my pal Andy had signed myself, himself and herself up to compete. Team name? Grape Balls of Fire.

We were in the first heat and won! Astounding. The incumbents were in our heat and we beat 'em!

After hosing ourselves down - it's a messy business, Julian and I took the winnings and headed over to the Children's Museum for an hour or so.

Fast forward a few hours and I found myself heading back over to Seattle, this time solo, for a gig I'd been looking forward to for a while.

The Arctic Monkeys. Not a bad performance - great lightshow, but the acoustics really sucked. The vocals were bouncing all over the place. If you haven't heard them yet, go and pick up a CD now.

Probably the nicest surprise of the gig were the supporting act, VoxTrot - great energy. They really engaged the crowd - unlike the Monkeys.

Sadly, I felt that the Monkeys were just going through the motions.

Meals To Die For

Last night I found myself back at the hotel (I'm in Mountain View at the moment), and called home to chat to the family units. Julian has taken to answering the phone this trip, which was really cool. I would obviously rather be at home, but to hear his voice saying “Daddy, I gotta tell you something, I love you”, really warms you deep down…

Anyhow, Nabila came on the phone and informed me that dinner was 'sausages and chips'.

That 'sausages and really good fries' to you Americans.

I got a real craving. I was in California. There's gotta be a British pub around here somewhere.

Then I remembered that back in 1996 I visited some transplanted brits that were living in Cupertino and that we went to a British pub.

That pub can't be far from here.

Out came the iPhone and Google maps, whereupon I found The Duke Of Edinburgh. That's it! And it's under a mile from the hotel.

So I tootle along and it's exactly as I remembered. Felt wallpaper, east-end feel and everything!

After a perusal of the menu I settle on a starter of two warm scotch eggs with mustard followed by two bangers with heaps of fried onions in a sesame seed bun.

Divine!

The scotch eggs were perfect. I don't think I've had one for about ten years and these were incredible. The sausage inna bun? Well, it looked like heartburn waiting to happen, but at the same time looked gorgeous.

I ate it.

I was in heaven.

I like this place. Squint and you'd believe you were in the east end of London. The accents of those around me made me feel cosy.

Highly recommended.

Fast forward to 5am. Heartburn city…

Oh, and did I mention that as I walked into the place, what must have been an aircraft carrier sized bird dropped the hugest load on me?

I guess being shat on by a bird really is good luck.

Community

Tonight I feel like I live in a community more than ever before.

Up until last week I lived on 8th Street South in Kirkland, right next to the Little League baseball fields - the street is part of a Kirkland known as the Everest Neighbourhood.

Recently, longtime neighbours of ours, the Aubrey's, decided that it was time to downsize after living here since 1972 and raising their kids in their house on 8th. They applied to subdivide their land, but permission came with the stipulation that 5th Avenue South that connects 6th to 7th should be extended through to 8th - obliterating a footpath and lovely area of the neighbourhood in the process.

Not to mention the fact that commuter traffic generated by such a cut-through would destroy the quiet and kid-friendly street one block west.

You can read more about this at the Kirkland Courier's site and this map will show you what I'm talking about.

An appeal was lodged and tonight a quasi-legal hearing was held at Kirkland City Council. It was quasi-legal in the sense that the council members were effectively judges and jurors on the issue and were not allowed to hear any arguments about the case beforehand. Arguments would be presented for and against and entered into the record and most frustratingly, audience members had to be quiet and respectful - no clapping and no standing up and shouting “WTF!”.

You can understand that I was sitting on my hands and biting my tongue throughout the whole proceedings.

There were many empassioned arguments including one by a neighbour who had done some severe homework, turning the city's own planning policy against itself.

So many friends from the neighbourhood showed up. Many with kids. Everyone supporting the appeal. Did I mention that 7th Street has almost forty kids under ten years of age living on it? It's an old school neighbourhood with young parents; kids playing on the street side of their houses with other kids; neighbours chatting and doing favours for each other.

Community.

A community that would have been destroyed by a short-sighted, follow the rules, planning policy.

The end result? A unanimous vote by the council1 in favour of our neighbourhood.

Surrounded by neighbours, I have never felt so much a part of a community.

Rock on.

1 Incidentally, there is a certain council member who urgently requires that a bureaucratic stick be surgically removed from their arse. 

Moved In!

So we've actually moved in to our new house and now I'm surrounded by unpacked boxes, all alike.

A prize to the first person to guess the reference…

House warming occurs as soon as I get the plasma on the wall…

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Happy Mother's Day (US Version) Mum

Hey, so it's a different day in the US than the UK, but anyhow, Happy Mother's Day Mum!

Also interesting as far as coincidences go is that today is my Mum's birthday as well as being Mother's Day in the US.

Randomly interesting is that I was actually born on Mother's Day… Of course that means that I'm my own best present to my Mum. Heh :-)

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A Visit To The Fire Station

One of Julian's school friends had a birthday party today - and not at the usual sort of places either!

The party was at the Woodinville Fire Station - what an incredibly brilliant idea!

The day started out in the fire station's classroom when Lieutenant Davis showed a kid friendly instructional video and then one of the Fire Fighters donned all of his gear, including the breathing apparatus. To be quite honest, this was the first time I had seen a Fire Fighter fully kitted up, so I asked how much it all weighed. About one hundred pounds apparently, but much heavier when it all gets wet…

However, Lieutenant Davis had an alteria motive for doing this. Apparently a big problem with rescuing kids from a burning building is that a Fire Fighter can appear quite scary with all their gear and their voices sounding Darth Vader's, plus the fact that the kids are already freaked out by the fire. Sometimes they run and hide from the very Fire Fighter that is attempting to rescue them…

So he got on hands and knees and crawled around in front of the kids, letting them hear his weird voice and having them touch his hand.

That one thing was probably the most valuable part of the day.

Anyhow, after that everyone got to go outside, play with fire hoses and sit in fire trucks. We also got a great tour around the station, including the dorm rooms and gym (which included a large plasma and an Xbox 360).

A great day, topped off with them extending the ladder truck's one hundred foot ladder whereupon one of the Fire Fighters climbed all the way to the top!

Superb!

Defend A Nation, Lose Your Kids

Man, this just sucks.

She had raised her daughter for six years following the divorce, shuttling to soccer practice and cheerleading, making sure schoolwork was done. Then Lt. Eva Crouch was mobilized with the Kentucky National Guard, and Sara went to stay with Dad.

A year and a half later, her assignment up, Crouch pulled into her driveway with one thing in mind - bringing home the little girl who shared her smile and blue eyes. She dialed her ex and said she'd be there the next day to pick Sara up, but his response sent her reeling.

“Not without a court order you won't.”

Within a month, a judge would decide that Sara should stay with her dad. It was, he said, in “the best interests of the child.”

Read on

You Did What?

So today we bought a new house. Or at least we put in an offer on one that was accepted!

We're only moving one block away from where we currently live and some people consider that as odd, but I consider it as “Hey, we love this area, dumshit, we just need some more room”.

And now we start the process of moving into a new home, improving our current place for sale, selling it and being happy…

Anyone want to buy a wonderful home in Kirkland?

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I Love ParentHacks

Recently (i.e. it seems like forever), the boy has been testing my patience more and more - to the point that I just lose it and want to curl up in a ball because I can't react like a man would to another man winding him up in a similar fashion…

Along comes the wonderful ParentHacks with a link to Tips For Controlling Your Temper. Wonderful! Especially the link to 'The Problem' is the problem -- not the kid

When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids (meaning: When I want them to do something that they refuse to do), I see that I have a choice. I could visualize my child standing on the other side of a line, next to “The Problem”, with me yelling across the line, “Hey, you better solve ”The Problem.“ Instead, I get myself to stand next to my child, with ”The Problem“ alone on the other side of the line, with me putting an arm around my child, saying ”Hey, you and me, we're gonna defeat “The Problem” together." I find that this attitude seems to make my kids feel better about themselves. It minimizes/eliminates shame.

This approach is actually working well. I am so in debt to the ParentHacks folks that anytime they're in the Seattle area, beers are on me!

Man, I Suck

I can't think of anything interesting to say. Call it writer's block, call it brain stuck in writing C++ instead of english.

Well actually, I wish I'd been at GDC, it looks like Kim had fun.

So, in payment for my awful writing habits recently (and just for Karen), here's a picture of my daughter taken during my Mum's recent visit…

Jasmine

DadCentric Does It Again

Just go and subscribe. You know you want to.

After all - who has time to work out when you're newly married? The year after my wife and I got married, the only activities we did in the apartment were have sex and eat. We'd go on Amazon and buy KY Jelly and a deep fryer. At one point, I think we subsisted on hot dogs for an entire month. A few months after that, we lived off Popeyes fried chicken.

Comic relief for the paternally challenged.

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Finding The Time To Take A Dump

Please go and subscribe to Chocolate Makes It Better - tales from an Aussie dad. At times touching, at times rip roaring funny.

When talking about how weekends are for family time:

Nope. Doesn't always happen like that at our house. It's more like sweat your arse off vacuuming, trying to fit in 5 mins to take a dump in peace and kids screaming, teething and throwing hard plastic toys at their sisters.

Subscribed.

Power Is Back On

Well, we lost power at about 10pm on Thursday night and it finally came back on at around 3am this morning.

But we're lucky.

We live pretty close to a substation, plus a PSE repair guy lives on our street (though I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it…) and our power is back. But I just nipped out in the car to head to the local safeway which is running on a generator, and nobody else in Kirkland appears to have power.

Yesterday it was out everywhere. Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, you name it.

Our friends Dawn and Darwin in another part of Kirkland don't have power, so they're planning on heading over here with the kids.

But I still feel lucky.

One of our neighbours lost their roof. Another had an Atlantic Cedar come down on their garage, narrowly missing the house. It took their power and phone lines with it.

Last night all four of us humans plus the dog slept in the one bed after cooking dinner and heating water on our barbeque's single burner - handily we had a full tank of propane.

So, we're fine.

And we still feel lucky.

Update: Check out this great post by Joshua Allen. It'll give you a better insight as to what was going on than I can.

Also, we spent most of yesterday listening to NPR (KUOW) and KOMO 1000 on the our portable radio (with handily stock piled batteries), and most of today watching the news after the power came back on.

I tell ya though, listening to the radio all day (and a lot of the night), especially NPR, was a treat.

Anyhow, impressions? Yes, it really was as Joshua described. I was sickened by the dude selling gas at $15 a gallon (a mark down from $25…) I was also briefly worried about running our Christmas decorations once the power came back on in our little oasis in Kirkland, fearing that people driving by might take it as some sort of affront.

Anyhow, Joshua's post sums it up nicely. It makes you wonder what would happen if the shit really hit the fan…

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Three Year Old, Web Surfin', Little Dude

Julian loves looking at our pictures on Flickr. We also use the site as a distraction when he's getting uppity.

“Want to see some trains?”

“Yeah!”

And off I go to Flickr for a tag search and some happy browsing with the kid. Normally though, he'll see something and point to it on the screen with his finger.

Another hobby of his is climbing into either his mother's desk chair or mine, and “hitting letter H”. 'H' is his favourite letter.

This evening, however, I was doing some video transcoding on my machine and didn't want him touching anything.

“Go and mess with your mother's computer”, says I.

Up he bounces onto her chair and grabs the mouse and starts pointing, using the mouse and on-screen cursor, at pictures on our Flickr site which happened to be in the browser.

He pointed to one he liked, so I said “make it bigger”.

And he clicked.

I'm astounded.

“Show me a big picture of Julian”, I asked, whereupon he starts using the mousewheel to scroll the window, mouses over to a little picture of him in the sidebar and clicks again.

“It's me!”, he says.

Wow. A combination of observation of us working and playing around on a machine at daycare and it just clicked for him. So to speak.

It also made me realise how important the mousewheel is for a kid. He doesn't have the fine motor-skills yet to reliably to click and drag a scrollbar, but he can sure use a mousewheel to scroll.

Mind you, the dude is three years old and using a laser-precision wireless mouse on a dual-core 64bit AMD desktop, hooked up through an nVidia GeForce 7800 to a 24" LCD flat-panel.

The first machine I played around with to any extent was a KIM-1 when I was seven…

The Boy

'And you try and tell the young people of today that… they won't believe you.'

Power Outage Equals Family Time

This afternoon one of the powerlines on our street came down, dropped on two cars, sparks everywhere, flames, burning cars, tires melted to the sidewalk, etc…

Not your everyday occurrence.

This didn't affect the power to our house, but the power company switched it off anyway while they made repairs (which involved fire engines, lots of trucks, inspection of poles, etc…)

I went home early, before Nabila got home with the kids, as I wanted to get the front door unlocked (obviously the garage doors aren't going to open) and make it easy when bringing the kids home to an unfamiliar, dark environment.

I brought out the candles and lit them all around our house. It was really quite nice. Shortly after I got it all set up, Nabila and the kids arrived and we had some fun with no electricity - just us, talking and playing with flashlights.

We then went out for dinner. Well, Nabila, Julian and our neighbour did, Jasmine was playing up - she was just plain tired, so her and I took off and left the others to eat the good stuff at the Yarrow Bay Grill. Jasmine and I headed to the office and I fed her some food, let her sit on my lap and gradually fall asleep with her head on my desk while I wrote code.

At 9pm, Jasmine and I headed back to the restaurant to pick everyone up and then we all made our way home.

The power was still out, but we lit the candles again, talked, played and had fun.

At 10pm the power came back on.

“Hey Julian, was that fun or what?”

“I like it. Can we do it again?”

Nabila and I agreed that from now on, once a week, we're going to turn everything off. No lights. No computer fans. No random beeping.

Just candles and talking.

Blogging Light And Sue's Visit

The blogging has been light over the past week due to something I'll be hopefully posting about tomorrow, and the fact that my sister, Sue, has been in town for the past week.

Sue

Sue came out from the UK to visit us, and it sure has been fun. Quite a trip for just a week, but she got to see her niece for the first time and I took the week off to spend with her. During the week we took a little trip to Gig Harbor, and stopped off at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge's viewing area to view the construction.

Shooter

Btw, I've finally added pictures of last weekend's fun to the related post.

Weekend Fun - Museum Of Flight And The Zoo

This weekend was a great one. Good weather and fun with the family.

[Note, unusually I have decided to write this post before processing and uploading the photos. Odd for me, I know. For most of you, dear readers, the photos will have already been added to this post before you read it and this paragraph will be irrelevant. For the few early birds, they'll be coming soon. I just felt like writing this post now.]

Was the preceding paragraph a waste of electrons, or what‽

Plus, I got to use an interrobang. Cool.

Anyhow, back on topic.

Yesterday was Museum Day, so Julian and I took full advantage of it and headed off to one of my favourite places - the Museum Of Flight.

This time I got to look at most of the exhibits, including The Red Barn - the original Boeing manufacturing plant. Very cool. Julian was in top form, laughing and joking around and generally doing his utmost to avoid having his dad take pictures of him in front of large jet engines.

Julian

The museum was the busiest I have ever seen it, with the parking lot in front of the building completely full, though handily the buildings are so large and airy that it didn't feel crowded.

Today though was a blast. The whole family decanted itself into the Jeep and we headed down south to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. This place has come along in leaps and bounds. I don't believe I've been there since before Julian was born and it didn't particularly impress Nabila and I then. Now though, the place is a must see.

Point Definance Zoo

Maybe it was just the day, but the view over the water from the entrance was just beautiful, as were the wonderful animals caringly curated inside. A particular high-point was the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater and the two entertaining presenters with an obvious love for the subject matter and joy in presenting it to adults and children alike.

After that we drove off to Gig Harbor. My favourite “place where I'd like to own a second home”. Maybe one day.

Gig Harbor

The drive was mainly to ensure the kids had a nap - an unusual weekend occurrence unless they are forced to sleep via boredom and the motion of the car. It's my normal weekend trick to ensure an evening unencumbered by cranky kids.

The cool thing about this time though was driving across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and witnessing the construction of the new parallel bridge. It was definitely an example of awe inspiring engineering.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Shortly after arriving home at three, Julian and I headed out once again for the RC airfield in Marymoor Park. Good fun. We even got to see a textbook departure stall incident where one RC airplane definitely bit the big one.

This was the nth time over the past year or so that I've taken Julian to the RC airfield. This time he actually asked to go there rather than just being taken there by his Dad, and he asked “can we go to the shop and buy a plane?”

Yes!

Looks like a great hobby for me and the boy to enjoy together.

I hope it doesn't get too expensive.

Actually, given my track record for “expensive” when I get into a new hobby, I'd better start saving…

Tillamook Air Museum

While we were in Oregon, we visited the Tillamook Air Museum. The aircraft collection (many of which are still flying) are housed in a World War 2 Blimp Hanger - the largest wooden structure in the world. My photos are over on Flickr.

Hanger

In 1942, the U.S. Navy began construction of 17 wooden hangars to house the K-class blimps being used for anti-submarine coast patrol and convoy escort. Two of these hangars were built at the Naval Air Station Tilllamook, commissioned in December 1942 to serve the Oregon-Washington coastal area.

Construction of the two hangars was rushed to completion. Hangar “B” was the first one built and was completed in the spring of 1943. Hangar “A” which was destroyed in a 1992 fire, was completed in only 30 days. Amazingly, there were no serious injuries or deaths on the whole project.

Stationed at NAS Tillamook was Squadron ZP-33 with a complement of eight K-ships. The K-ships were 252 feet long and filled with 425,000 cu. ft. of helium. With a range of 2,000 miles and an ability to stay aloft for three days, they were well suited for coast patrol and convoy escort. Naval Air Station Tillamook was decommissioned in 1948.

Since 1994 the remaining hangar has been home to one of the top five privately owned aircraft collections in the nation.

The collection was quite impressive and included one of my all-time favourite aircraft - the PBY Catalina.

PBY-5A Catalina

Outside stood the very impressive, if a little odd looking, Boeing 377 Stratocruiser or “Mini-Guppy”.

Mini-Guppy

Overall, a sweet museum, run by people who obviously love the subject matter. The burgers in the little cafe were pretty good too.

Recommended.

On Being A Light-Hearted Parent

Via Parent Hacks comes tips on parenting from a woman who for a year is trying everything under the sun to be happier:

11. Say “no” only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange shorts? Sure. Put water in the toy tea set? Okay. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Fine. Samuel Johnson said, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”

12. When I find myself thinking, “Soon, no more stroller,” or “Soon, no more high chair,” I remind myself how fleeting this is. All too soon the age of Cheerios and the Tooth Fairy will be over. The days are long, but the years are short.

An experiment to watch…

Off To Oregon

On Saturday, the family and I are heading off to the Oregon coast for a week of well deserved and long overdue R&R. We'll be vacationing with pals and recent Canadian emigrants CJ, Karen and their wonderful offspring.

To say I'm looking forward to it would be on understatement…

Today I packed the technology - MacBook Pro, Nikon D200 DSLR, Pentax S4, Canon ELURA2, 60GB USB powered external drive (photo backup), tripod, miriads of power adapters, usb cables, power cables, DVD backup media, rechargers, iPod, TomTom 910 GPS…

Tomorrow I think about clothes…

The Boy Done Good

This is one of those “bloggers who post boring shit are annoying, why do I care about their personal lives?” posts. If you're one of those people, please skip to the next post.

So anyhow, on Tuesday morning I'm summoned from the shower by the wife who declared “Steve! Come here now!”

Dutifully I appeared upstairs rather sharpish, when the boy declared “Daddy! I made a snake!”. Yup, he had finally taken a dump in his potty.

It's not that he doesn't understand what's going on, he knows exactly what his body is up too, it's just that he “chooses” not to use the potty because he doesn't need to - the diapers are functional and playing with the trainset is a lot of fun and not to be distracted from.

Well, Nabila did the smart thing and just let him run and naked - and there's no way he'll take a dump in the middle of the room - he's too neat for that.

Smart thinking Nabila, and by the way, Happy 5th Anniversary!

Daycare in Kirland

Ever since Julian was a year old he's been attending daycare in downtown Kirkland.

For the most part this has been a wonderful experience - he's gone from the baby room to the toddler room to the infant room. All his teachers have been great, and I have nothing but great things to say about them.

I believe that it was there that he actually walked for the first time, before we witnessed it for the first time - the morning after he walked and Nabila and I were in tears I told his teachers that about it, only to be greeted with a wry smile :-)

But, at the end of the day it's a business and they have quotas to fill - they need to bring as many children in as possible and structure their classrooms to accommodate them.

But daycare ain't like getting your car serviced.

There are emotional issues at play here.

Our kid has been there for almost two years, and has grown there. I have the utmost respect for their program and what they have given us, but I will not have my kid pushed out of the classroom he deserves to be in because getting another customer requires denying him that place.

I'm a parent and damn it, we were there first :-) Hmm, things get a little irrational when your boy is being stiffed.

Anyhow, time to have a discussion with the director… I'll let you know how that pans out.

A Family Through Time

I've been meaning to do something like this, but now I'm absolutely going to do it.

Here is the family of an Argentinian man, photographed on the same day every year since 1976.

Wonderful.

[Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the link.]

One To Watch: Parenting Mind Tricks

Thanks for ParentHacks for this link to Jay Andrew Allen's blog.

He's starting a series of posts on Parenting Mind Tricks. And I love the first one as it's something I continuously think about, though not in such great detail.

“Imagine Your Child's Memoirs”.

Whenever I'm down or frustrated with the whole parenting thing, or as Jay says “lash out at those I love when my mind convinces me that I'm justified in being an asshole”, I later think about what Julian might be thinking about Dad, or what he might think in the future.

The little dude ain't winding me up on purpose (well, maybe just a little). Time to be the adult.

Anyhow, a blog to watch.

Zoo Time!

Sunday brought another trip to one of my favourite places in Seattle Woodland Park Zoo. The Ingrams called us in the morning to see if we wanted to come along with them and the Wheeler family, and indeed we did.

This time though, I got to bring along the new camera.

Hippo

A fine time was had by all, and man was it hot!

There is something vicerally good about this zoo - you know that the animals are well taken care of; it's incredibly well laid out (even if it does feel like the Hampton Court Maze at times; and Julian always has a blast.

I get such a kick out of the awe displayed on his face when he sees a real giraffe and is astounded by it's size.

Giraffe

The quantity of poo emitted by certain animals equally astounds him.

“Daddy, Hippo need a diaper?”

Seattle Sun

Today is one of those wonderful Seattle winter days, where it's sunny and not too cold. Not too warm either.

The air is still but clear, and the view of Lake Washington and the Olympics from the deck is truly astounding.

After breakfast, Julian and I went for a walk down to the local park with him marvelling at every little thing that most of us ignore as everyday things. At 2.5 years old, I'm pretty surprised by his level of vocabulary, reasoning and inquisitiveness.

But then every parent probably says the same things.

“What's this called daddy?”. A pebble.

“This?”. Moss.

“How about this?”. Dog poop.

Ahh well, you can't win them all.

Trip to the kids' fantasy land

After a wonderful lunch at the British Pantry (where some guys on the table next to us were discussing podcasting…), the family met up with the Ingrams (sans Karen) for a trip to the KidsQuest Children's Museum.

Not really a museum, but more of a kids funhouse with tons of educational toys.

I also got to field test the new camera…

Peekaboo

If you're a friend/family contact of mine over on Flickr, then you get to see the rest, if not and you're a friend/family type then get an account on Flickr (it's free) and send me your name…

Some of the pictures came out a bit grainy as I had the noise reduction off and was testing some high-ISO settings. More experimentation needed…

Anyhow. Mucho fun.

Thanksgiving

I like Thanksgiving, it's my favourite holiday even though I'm not an American.

Back in October 1997 when I arrived in the USA, I didn't really know anybody, and when Thanksgiving rolled around at the end of November and everyone was leaving on their cross-country trips to visit family, I was at a bit of a loss (actually, I had a ton of work to do and the prospect of being able to get it done without any distractions was quite appealing…)

But then, Jason White, an evangelist on the DirectX team invited me to his place on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It turns out he'd collected up all his British friends and others who had nowhere to go. I had a blast.

The next year, an American friend, Sarah, invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family.

The following year, and every year since, I have been invited to friends Dawn and Darwin's house. They too had been collecting the waifs and strays.

Back in 1999 this was very much a food, beer and football event - and a lot of fun. Over the years, lots have spouses and kids have been added to the event and it have really morphed from a bunch of friends to a real friends and family day. These guys really are my family over here.

On Thursday, the day was actually spent at CJ and Karen's house as Dawn was recovering from the birth, not a few days earlier, of their second child, Gregory. Welcome little dude!

Of course, these days it's all about the kids. They've taken over.

Some of the kids

Halloween Happenings

I like Halloween. It wasn't really an event in the UK when I was growing up, but as kids we had heard about the “Trick or Treat” action that all the lucky US kids had.

Fast forward a number of years to October 1997, and as a recently relocated Brit I was just about to experience my first US Halloween. Kids in the hallways of the offices; pumpkins everywhere; lots of fun. And last year I got to experience my first trick or treating with Julian. We had a blast.

This year started out around 6pm, with Julian's pals MacKenzie, Gabby and associated parents. We went off around the neighbourhood even though it was raining - much candy was collected. After a short while we headed back home and then had lots of little visitors to the house. Creatively dressed and very polite, the kids were fun. Most of the kids took just a little candy each - I said they could take extra, after which they might take just one more.

Nice kids.

About half an hour after the visitations had tailed off the older kids started to arrive. No costumes, open backpacks and attempting to take fistfuls of sweets.

“What are you dressed as?”, my wife asked innocently.

“I'm the lollipop sucking pimp”.

Very funny. Now piss off.

I think I only vocalized the first part.

Anyhow, after a couple of those visits, I just turned the lights off, moved the pumpkins inside and the visits stopped.

A few hours later and everyone except myself is in bed when I hear what sounds like someone taking potshots at the house, starting at one end, and working it's way down across the windows.

Some git is paint-balling the house.

I get a quick look at the truck they're shooting from before it disappears and call the cops. They stop by after a while and say “it's Halloween”, and they expect it'll continue around the neighbourhood. They'll keep an eye out.

It looks like they were aiming at a particular ghost decoration on the deck, but the hits weren't in a very tight pattern. I guess they were just very poor shots.

Ho hum.

The unfiltered concern of a child

One of the bains of the past week is that I've become a news junkie. It is permanently on in our home. I feel that I should be watching the unfolding events in the Gulf Coast and to not watch, to not be aware, would somehow be uncaring.

Of course I'm wrong, but that doesn't stop me.

The issue at hand though, is how much do you expose a two year old child to? Julian is around the house and becoming more aware of the fact that information is arriving via the television set. Do you not watch? I think not. I guess that I trust the mainstream news media not to air any images that would be too shocking to a child.

But this evening as I was watching the coverage, and Julian was playing his usual jump on the couch, fall over on dad games, and loving the footage of helicopters flying around, images appeared of children in diapers walking ankle deep in water.

He stood up and turned to me, with the questioning expression he uses when he wants me to fix something and said:

"Baby crying?"

The Red Cross.

Back Home Now

We're all home from the hospital now and everyone is doing fine. Julian adores his little sister. It's all "Baby, mine!"

When Julian visited the hospital and Jasmine was crying, he tried to give her one of his snacks... and when we had just arrived home he brought all his teddy bears to her.

Cool kid.

Thanks to everyone for all your kind congratulations - and to everyone that called and sent flowers. It's much appreciated.

Surfing at the Hospital

Regarding my previous post (and, well, this one too), I'm actually kicked-back in our hospital room browsing the web and posting from my laptop, connected to the net via the hospital's free and open wireless network whilst mother and baby snooze.

How cool is that?

Please Welcome Jasmine Susan Lacey

So at 7.50am today, Jasmine was born at Evergreen Hospital, Kirkland WA. She weighed 6 pounds 13 ounces and was 20.75 inches long. Mum and Daughter are both doing splendidly.

Yey!

Jasmine and I

Man, has it been a long day. We got up at 4am so we could all get ready and then drop Julian off at our good friend's CJ and Karen on the way to the hospital for a 6am checkin.

Then it was form filling, Q&A and prep for the OR. My mum and our good friend Deb went into the OR with Nabila, whilst I chewed my nails in our room. Everyone turned back up at the room at around 8.20am and all is well.

Of course, Julian does not know what to make of it all.

My Grandfather

Here's a photo of my Grandfather during World War 2 that my mum just showed me.

My Grandfather in WW2 Uniform

It looks like the photo was originally black and white, but the negative was coloured prior to printing. Anyone have any thoughts?

Speaking of my Grandfather, I talked about him in the most recent Britpack podcast.

Changes Are Afoot

Tomorrow, my mum arrives from the UK to stay with us for a month. On Sunday, Jasmine arrives.

Our long awaited daughter will appear at 7.30am(ish).

Wow!

To tell the truth I've been a little apprehensive. Jasmine will be arriving via a scheduled c-section and even though these things are minor in the surgery scheme of things, it's still surgery. And I'm just that little bit ever so squeamish. Before Julian was born, the anesthetist was happy that I wouldn't be in the OR as in her words "I only want one patient to deal with". ;-)

Which is why I'll be waiting in our room at Evergreen hospital while it's all happening. My mum though will be in the OR and will get to meet our new bundle of joy before I do.

The past few weeks have been interesting. I've developed some new coding skills (www.memeflow.com/goto), I've played some golf, written some music, and generally chilled out whilst on sabbatical.

But now is the time to welcome Jasmine into the world, care for her, nurture her, and teach Julian the joys of having a little sister.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to meeting her.

This evening while laying on the couch, having Julian jump all over me, and standing on my stomach completely trusting that when I push him over into the huge pile of pillows, that it'll be the most fun thing he's ever experienced - I could only think about how much fun it'll be when there are two of them beating up on dad.

Welcome little girl.

New Roof

Last week we had a new roof put on our house as the cedar shake on it was basically disintegrating. When we bought the house back in 2001 we had the roof inspected, repaired and warrantied for five years as a part of the contingencies for sale.

As it was still in warranty, I called the company that did the original repair work. Out of business. So I then called the warranty company. Again, out of business.

Ho hum. After chatting to a few people, it appears that these warranties aren't worth the paper they're written on...

So I spoke to a general contractor friend of mine who recommended Legacy Roofing. I called them and a guy came round to inspect the roof and prepare a quote. He projected a great image for the company. Professional, didn't try to up-sell things to me that I didn't need, and then after he inspected and measured the roof we went to his van which was basically setup like an office! He even had network connectivity back to base!

He prepared a quote there and then, which I was very happy with, so I signed right there and then. The cedar is supposed to last 50 years (it's three quarters of an inch thick), and they warranty all work for ten years which is transferable on sale of the house too.

Fast forward to last Monday, and the work crew turned up with some hi-tech trucks to deliver a skip and then proceeded to tear the old roof off, and felt it. That took two days. On Wednesday, the new cedar arrived, and on Thursday and Friday they installed it.

Man those guys worked hard - and it was really hot here last week. On Saturday they cleaned up really well and took the skip away.

The roof looks beautiful.

New Roof

Legacy Roofing. Highly recommended.

Blue Angels

One of the cool things about living in Kirkland is that you can see Lake Washington from our front deck. That means that every year, during SeaFair week, we get to watch the Blue Angels from our house.

Last year (being not yet one year old), Julian didn't take much interest. But this year he was standing on his chair out front, and oohing and ahhing as the planes flew by.

Soon after that, he went for his nap and Nabila and I sunk into the sofa to watch the Hydroplane races on the TV.

Ahh, lazy Sunday afternoons...

Birthday Party

Yesterday we held a joint birthday party for Nabila and Julian. Our neighbour Anna did most of the organization, and quite a few people came over.

Balloons, good food, cake and friends. What more could you ask for?

Julian and Nabila's Birthday Party

The ballons were a big hit. Thanks to Anna for the idea of renting a hellium tank. Our neighbour's son seemed to enjoying the vocal changing characteristics of the gas!

It was quite hot, so thankfully the A/C took a lot of the load off...

Julian and Nabila's Birthday Party

Overall, a lot of fun. The dog was knackered and Julian, Dad and Mum had a great time.

Julian and Nabila's Birthday Party

Trips to the Zoo and BBQ

This morning, at the crack of 9am, Julian and I left for Woodland Park Zoo to meet up with our friends CJ and Karen with kids MacKenzie and Sebastian, and Dawn and Darwin with kid Gabby. What a wonderful time! We were there from 9.30am until around 12.30pm. Julian really got a kick out of all the animals, but especially the brown bears.

Julian's favourite book is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and when he first saw one of the huge bears his eyes lit up. "Mine!".

Then, of course, the bear took an absolutely enormous, streaming, steaming, crap. It must have lasted around 30 seconds. "Poo Poo!"

We then took a walk around the corner to an enclosed area that looked out upon the pool area of the bear enclosure. The water came about three feet up the glass so you could see the fish in the pool. Then over came one of the bears.

"WOW!"

Into the pool came the bear, whereupon he literally tiptoed around, careful not to disturb the bottom of the pool, with his eyes in the water eyeing up the fish.

"Tag one!" Thought I, not thinking about the potential psychological trauma that such an event could have imposed upon the child.

In the end, the bear settled on some floating foliage and had salad instead.

Julian was just ecstatic. "Wow! Mine! More!"

After that we wondered around some more, had lunch with the Wheelers and then headed home. And then over to the Ingrams for BBQ.

Julian

What a day. Too hot, but ameliorated by the obvious joy that a boy had at the zoo.

Radio Controlled Aircraft

Yesterday, Julian and I went out for a bit of a drive around as he wouldn't take his normal nap. We did the usual trip to Best Buy (picked up a copy of the latest Harry Potter...) and then I thought we could take a drive through Marymoor Park - I though there would be a Cricket match on, and indeed there was. Sadly, that was when he decided to sleep.

I watched the match for a while, and when he woke up we headed over to the RC Aircraft airfield. He loved it! We saw some great aircraft being flown and he got to "Oooh" and "Ahhh".

Model RC at Marymoor

Highly recommended outing for the kidlets.

Sites For Dads

DadTalk is a great site for the Dad's out there. Such a wealth of interesting looking articles - I can see some serious reading in my not-too-distant future.

The sites linked to from there also look deserving of deep read.

Searched, browsed, subscribed!

Via Julie Leung (who gave a great presentation at Gnomedex).

BBQ

In the play areaa

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 22 Jun '05, 9.50pm PST.

This weekend we hosted a Father's Day bbq at our place. Karen has a nice write up on her blog.

Hand

Hand

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 21 Jun '05, 11.27pm PST.

Julian's daycare (The Learning Garden) are just wonderful. For Father's Day, Julian gave me this.

This doesn't normally happen, but it definitely brought not only a tear to my eye, but a little thought to my mind.

Thank you.

Sometimes you get discouraged

Because I am so small

And always leave my fingerprints

On furniture and walls.

But every day I'm growing -

I'll be grown some day

And all those tiny handprints

Will surely fade away.

So here's a little handprint

Just so you can recall

Exactly how my fingers looked

When I was very small.

All the other parents out there know where I'm coming from.

Mauritius - The First WiFi Country

My wife's family hail from Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean. Thus, I was happily surprised to read on yahoo that Mauritius aims to be the first country to provide complete WiFi coverage.

They've already covered 60% of the country, reaching 70% of the population.

"If there's anyone who can do it, it's us," said Rizwan Rahim, the head of ADB Networks, the company installing the wireless radio network across the 40-mile-long island. "It's a small place, so for a wireless network it's manageable. For us, it's a test. If it's successful here, we can island-hop to [mainland] Africa."

Via Boing Boing.

Talking To The Animals

Talking to the animals

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 19 Jun '05, 2.09pm PST.

A few weeks ago, Nabila, Julian and our neighbour Anna went to Woodland Park Zoo. By all accounts, fun was had by all.

Sad News

I just received a call from my sister in the UK that my Grandmother, Jessica Wickham, just passed away. She had been in failing health of the last few years, and has been hospitalised for the past few weeks, so her passing was not a big shock to us. She will be missed.

I'm so glad we took Julian to the UK to meet her. Even though he probably won't remember - we have the photos and the memories.

Julian and Nan

Happy Mother's Day Mum

Happy Mother's Day Mum

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 9 May '05, 12.33am PST.

Here's picture of my mum and my son. I'm sorry mum that I don't tell you this as much as I should, but I love you.

Your son, Steve.

More Family In Town

Nishal and Shyama were arriving from the UK today, so Dave and I went to pick them up from the airport. Though the flight arrived at 4.15pm, they didn't get out of immigration until past 6pm and were the last people out of immigration. Apparently our wonderful homeland security decided to grill them for some weird reason, though Nishal and Shyama are too nice to complain about it.

I'm not though.

Personally, I've had nothing but hassle from the whole INS system. But it won't improve because, oh yes, the people on the receiving end of the bad treatment, indifferent care and generally crap service don't get to vote. Hey! They're visitors, or taking our jobs, or whatever. They get what they deserve. Yes, but they're also bringing money into the country. Hell, I pay a shed-load in taxes.

Maybe in a few years the citizens of this country will have had enough of the bureaucratic, pointless, shoe unlacing hassle they receive at airports (how many aircraft have been saved by people taking off their shoes?) and wonder where all those billions of dollars are going and whether those dollars are actually being put to any sensible use.

But I digress.

It's great to have Nishal and Shyama staying with us for a week. We now have a very full house! This is their first trip to the US - when they leave here they're off to New York, so I hope they have a great time. Dave is going to show them around whilst I'm at work - Nabila is still ill, so I'm hoping she's going to take it easy.

Kids

Poor little Chub. Err, Julian. He finally appears to be over his latest bout of fever/ear infection, though he's still coughing a fair amount. It all started on Sunday with general lethargy and then vomiting, then he was just miserable and basically didn't want to move Monday and Tuesday - antibiotics and tylenol helped but not enough.

Anyhow, now he seems better. He slept for about six hours today and this evening was back to his usual tyrannical self. Phew.

The world is a better place when Chub is happy.

Baby Gifts

Yesterday a friend and co-worker of mine Rod Fergusson stopped by with a gift for Nabila of some receiving blankets and "Preggie Pops". Great quality and we're very grateful. Julian instantly wanted one of the receiving blankets, which, of course, is now his ;-) The other blankets will wait for the new arrival...

The gifts were from Rod's wife Sandra's company Coastal Baby. Go check them out.

Dave Is In The House; The House Gets A New TV

Dave, my father-in-law, arrived from the UK yesterday and is staying with us for a month - yey! He really helps us out a lot with the kid, dog, house, etc... In fact, as we speak, he is out taking the dog for a walk.

Talking about the house, today is major install day for the new plasma that's getting placed above our fireplace, with the mounting (a new wall needs to be built to take the weight) and the audio setup (we have vaulted ceilings and little, very tight, crawl space above, which is going to lead to some interesting gymnastics), the installers have an interesting job ahead of them.

Props to Cutting Edge Design for doing a great design. The components will be going in next to the fireplace with a door at the back of the cabinet so they can be accessed from the rear in the adjoining room. I'm taking pictures during the install that I'll be posting tonight over here.

More Eggs Please

More eggs please

Uploaded to flickr by Steve Lacey at 27 Mar '05, 4.20pm PST.

This afternoon we all went over to Sam's for Easter festivities (i.e. Ham, beer and nattering). The highlight is always the Easter Egg hunt which Julian loved - he was the egg collecting king!

Let It Snow

A snow day today, and Julian's first real experience of snow. He was only four months old the last time it snowed.

He loved it! When he got up in the morning the only thing that came out of his mouth for ages was "Wow, wow, wow..." He couldn't stop looking out of the window. So we took him to the park on a little sledge we bought for him a few weeks ago just for this day.

Looks like it's all melting now though.

A Quiet Merry Christmas

Quiet, just as I like them. It's been a while since we had a quiet Christmas. Last year we jetted off to the UK for the family tour with our newborn son and it was pretty exhausting. Fun, but exhausting nontheless. In prior years we have had people round to the house.

This year we just did it quietly, with a neighbour over for dinner. I cooked leg of lamb that was delicious.

Julian really seemed to enjoy himself, unwrapping presents and playing with all the gifts that friends and family from the UK had sent. After dinner, we watched "The Terminal". Highly recommended and a great Christmas flick.

On another note, I see my podcast, "A Brit Abroad", has made it into the "Technology -> General News" section on iPodder.org. Cool. I'm at the top of the list! I didn't plan it like that. Honest.

Anyhow, a very merry (hick!) Christmas to you and yours. I'm off down the pub soon ;-)

Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Last night Nabila, Julian and I went to the Bellevue Botanical gardens to see the light show there.

It was pretty incredible.

They had constructed large amounts of flowers, vines, trees and critters entirely out of Christmas tree lights. If you're in the area and haven't seen it yet, you should.

Cellphone pictures (of dubious quality) over on flickr.

Thanksgiving Day

Shortly after I arrived in the States, I was invited by a couple I met, Dawn and Darwin, to their Thanksgiving dinner. I've been going every year.

They are great friends. I never felt so welcome into this country as that day when they invited me over. Back then it was a bunch of guys, gals and beer, no kids. Now there are a whole bunch of kids there, and it was the first Thanksgiving for their daughter, Gabriella. Our friend Samantha was one of those at the dinner. Her partner Charles is currently serving in Iraq and safe - apparently eating Turkey this morning in Bagdahd.

This year of course, Julian was ill. So I popped over to Dawn and Darwin's for an hour or so whilst Nabila looked after Julian. I brought back a great take-out plate for Nabila. A little later, Julian started eating, but then promptly threw up whereupon he instantly felt better... It's 9pm, way past Julian's bedtime, but as he's been sleeping all day he's wide awake and mischievous. He's sitting on my lap now destroying a joystick power supply.

So it all turned out well ;-) Julian is having fun and my wife is snoozing after pampering him all day, and I'm thankful for that - amongst many other things.

Thanks USA, for this great day.

Photo Albums

Access to most of the photo albums now requires a password. In fact, you won't even see them in the album listing unless you login.

If I know you, please email me for a password.

The Weekend In Review

A nice and quiet weekend. What more could you ask for... On Saturday, we went to the Cougar Mountain Zoo, where their mission is the protection of endangered species. A very nice zoo. Not much else really.

Another cool thing is the Food Network is doing a week long "Cook With Your Kids" special. I particularly enjoyed Alton Brown's "Good Eats" specials. Alton is a cooking god, everyone should check his show out - I love the way he approaches cooking from a "why" perspective, rather than just laying out recipies. It's like a science show...

I can't wait to start teaching Julian to cook.

Update 11/1/04: Added photos from the trip to Cougar Mountain Zoo.

First Steps

First Steps

Up until today, Julian kept taking one or two steps and then just falling over. Today at about 7.45pm, he just stood up and walked across the living room. He hasn't stopped since...

A Trip To Leavenworth

On Saturday, Nabila, Julian, Mum and I headed east over the cascades to Easton (near Cle Elum) to visit Gary (Maddy's groomer). Maddy was due for a groom (getting ready for a show in January), so we dropped her off and then headed over to Leavenworth.

LeavenworthI'd never been there before, but have heard great things about it. The place is basically a bavarian town picked up and dumped in Washington state - kinda fake, very touristy, but surprisingly fun. It being a very nice day, the place was packed with tourists (i.e. us), so we played the tourist part and visited all the gift shops. For some reason we seemed to be in a wind chime/mobile purchasing frame of mind and picked up two.

Then followed the eating of some of the best Bratwurst I have ever tasted (along with champagne Sauerkraut) washed down with a nice lager.

Then Nabila and Mum disappeared into a shop while Julian and I walked down to the town square to look at some art for sale at a street market. After a while, Nabila and Mum reappeared with a huge package which turned out to be a present for me (after I complained about the size of it and the fact that the car was already stuffed...)

LeavenworthWhen we got home, I unwrapped it, and wow! A huge copper, welded wind chime. The thing is about six feet tall and wonderful! Check it, and the photos from the day, over here.

On Sunday, we sadly took Mum to Seatac for her flight back to the UK. It was great having her here!

As an aside, there are new photos from Julian's birthday up in the photo library, and pictures from a sailing trip we took back in July.

A good weekend. We need more like that one.

Julian's First Birthday

Yay - I'm one today! Or rather Julian is ;-)

Gabriella and McKenzie came round (with parents) and we all had a great time. Parents sipped Champagne and Moyitos, whilst the kids froliced with balloons and toys.

Nabila did a great job with the Winney the Pooh theme - the cake from Safeways was outstanding - as was all the other stuff.

Julian just would not let go of his hellium filled ballon, it was his favourite thing, along with the Thomas the Tank Engine that granddad sent.

Thanks everyone - especially all the relatives in the UK who sent cards and presents.

A very good day - I'll post pictures very soon.

Update 8/30/04: Pictures are over here.

Building, Flying, Eating

Another busy day at Casa D'Lacey. Up early and at 10am Dave and I joined a few other neighbours to pour the foundations for the new neighbourhood notice booth at Everest Park. We got back around 11.30am, which was cool because it's Seafair this weekend and we got to watch the Blue Angels both on TV and out our front window!

Then it was off to Bellevue Square to find a car seat that'll work in the M3. Not sure yet, but I think this is the one. This evening CJ, Dawn, Darwin and Gabriella came around and we had a barbeque. I made my first attempt at Mojitos, which weren't half bad.

Next week is busy. Gotta finish off the new multimon stuff.

Company picnic

Nabila, Dave, Julian and I went to the Microsoft company picnic today. This was loadsa fun - good food, great atmosphere, and loads of things for the kids to do - if any Julian could walk ;-) Ah, next year will be amusing... I'll stick pictures up when I can. The event was huge. Theres are probably over 20K people working for Microsoft in the Puget Sound area and the event was held over two days at Mountain Meadows in North Bend, WA. Must've been expensive...

Anyhow, I particulary enjoyed one band that was playing - The Geoffery Castle Experience. Led by a guy playing electic violin wirelessly. Very, very cool, and good entertainment. He played guitar solos on the violin run through what appeared to be a typicaly guitar pedal board. His Vooodo Chile was great!

Update 8/8/04: Added pictures to the gallery.

Julian just keeps me laughing!

So a couple of hours ago Nabila is in bed and Julian is sitting on the bed. I'm lying in front of Julian and we're looking at each other when I lean towards him and go Roooaaaarrr, whereupon he collapses in hysterics. Grin. Repeat this continuously until Nabila kicks me out so they can both go to sleep. Kids are fun!

Port Hadlock vacation

So, as I write this, I am sitting in our hotel room with my feet up, as the hotel has pervasive wireless net access. Cool huh?

The drive over here was very nice, we eschewed the ferries, and drove down 405 to 5 and then up through Gig Harbor and onto Port Hadlock. We found the marina where the hotel is, but had a bit of hassle figuring out that the building in front of us was actually our hotel. They're undergoing a bit of construction, so there was no sign out front. The construction didn't cause any hassles with our stay though.

MuseumOn the way up, we stopped off at the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, near the Bangor Submarine base. A very cool museum and well worth the visit. I picked up a copy of Blind Man's Bluff in the gift shop. I'd been meaning to pick this book up for a while after seeing the Discovery Channel's special based around this book. So far it's a very good read.

After checking in, we drove into Port Townsend for dinner and then back to the hotel for the rest of the evening.

Friday morning we drove over to Port Angeles and then up 5000 feet to Hurricane Ridge. Way cool! Great sights of the Olympics and the glaciers.

Dungeness SpitOn the way back we stopped off at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and took a walk down to the Dungeness Spit.

Today we took our longest drive over to Neah Bay. On the way we briefly stopped at Sekiu so that I could visit the airfield. I've wanted to visit here for a long time as it's the airfield in Flight Simulator that I use for most of my testing when working on the graphics engine.

When we hit Neah Bay (the farthest north-west point in Washington State) I was instantly disappointed. It's a dump. The bay is beautiful, but the garbage dump that is the supposed town is a crying shame. The only pleasant looking thing there is the US Costal Guard station.

Ajax CafeThis evening Nabila and I went for a meal at the Ajax Cafe, not a stones throw from the Hotel. This place was great! Good food, good atmosphere, good music. In the restrooms they had a massive selection of fun hats that you were encouraged to wear during your meal. Most people took full advantage.

I must say, I like the speed limits on the roads over there. Country roads with decent 50/55/60 limits. It felt like I was driving back home in the UK.

Going on a road trip

We're off on a little mini vacation for the next 3 days. We're going to the Olympic Peninsular and staying here. Photos'n'stuff when we return.

Btw, yesterday was Nabila and my 3rd wedding anniversay, and had a really great meal at the Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar in Bellevue. Thanks to CJ for recommending it.

Another fun packed day

At the storm game

This morning we got up at 6am to drive the 70 miles, with the OES Club of Greater Seattle to Ewe-Topia in Roy, WA. Maddy was going sheep herding (photos here)! I admit I was a little unsure how this was going to go, but it was great fun!

When our turn came, I took Maddy into the ring and held onto her whilst the trainer let the sheep out of their pen. Then she was let go and he assessed her and she was great! Everyone was impressed with her natural ability (circling, turning back to coral the sheep towards him, waiting on command and when appropriate). He commented that she was working very intelligently.

Then, he handed the crook to me and had me control Maddy herding the sheep! This was, surprisingly, a huge amount of fun! It was interesting to think that Maddy and I were working together to control the sheep.

Maddy is an Old English Sheepdog, and naturally bred for herding, but apparently this is great fun and good training for all breeds of dogs. Highly recommended.

After getting back at around 2pm, we all took a nap and then this evening it was off to the Key Arena in Seattle for the Seattle Storm WNBA game - photos here.

Dawn is a director in the company that handles the catering for the Key Arena and arranged for us to get a box for the game! Way cool! Great seats, food, etc... Especially fun as we had Julian, Darwin had Gabriella and Darwin's sister (visiting from Arizona with husband Wade) had her four young daughters.

Much fun. Home around 11pm.

I must say though, Seattle traffic sucked. With the Storm game, Mariners in town, the National Governors Conference, the Bite Of Seattle and a triathalon, it was all a bit of a mess.

Phew. Busy day.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.