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you know sometimes you take a photo and it just makes you laugh everytime you see it.  this does it for me.  esther's eyes, kezia's scratching, jane's distraction.  all good

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i'm nor sure if they are actually selling mothers at this shop, and if so, that the discount only applies if you bought a lady mother (rather than a man one?).  this was from auckland's notorious k-road so who knows !

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i've been publishing our family pictures elsewhere so funkypancake is now less autobiographical.  but anyway, here's a picture of jane with an egg benedict (i think).  a popular local dish (the food, not jane)

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sorry about the confusing chronology of pictures at the moment.  i fear it's going to get worse before it gets better.  so hang on to your time travel hats

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we moved out of our house a couple of days before we left the UK as all our stuff was loaded in to the container to be shipped to the other side of the world.  Our last two nights in the UK were spent at Jane's parents who kindly hospitalised us (i think that's what i mean).

jane and i slept in her old bedroom which had her old lightshade in.  it was a fitting end to our time in the UK !

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here's tony.  my excellent local photographic sparing partner

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i asked him if he could take a family portrait of us yesterday when we were saying our last goodbyes and he obliged.  in fact he threw himself in to the task quite literally, treating us like a wildlife project

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i'll miss tony and his family.

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this weekend has been spent with jane's sister and family.  we had a really lovely time and i managed to grab a few nice photos of our families together

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here is lovely jane with lovely binky.  more sadness for all involved.  i won't go on about how hard it is saying goodbye again. (but it is)

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and here is a rather dry lawn outside cliveden house

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not quite abbey road ...

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i went to the national space centre with my dad yesterday for a last day out.  that's him in the picture above fiddling with some controls in a mock up version of the actual space station (i think). 

i do know he's not wearing the regulation space suite, but they seemed pretty relaxed about that at the museum

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we then went and stood in front of a magical heat detecting camera and turned in to spooky sci-fi bods

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here's my dad by a rocket.  he made me take a vertical picture as he was worried by my wonkly ones.

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eventually he did put his space suite on.which pleased me no end.

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then we went in to this psychedlic area which i wasn't entirely sure about.

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after that we left the paid for museum and went to the free sewage museum next door which was even more fun.  pictures of that to follow.

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and on the way back home i popped in to see my grandma to say goodbyes too.

it was a day of strange mixed up emotions and memories, all taking place a very short distance from the hospital where i was born.  once again, i was surprised by how much it affected me.  I've now said my last goodbyes to my mum, dad, brother and grandma.  gulp.

not long now until 11th October ...

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here's my mum in a pub last friday kindly posing for a picture.  I like the peacefulness and calm of the picture.

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and now i've said my final farewells to my mum in person it's also quite poignant. 

We'll see her in NZ in not too long, and the power of the email / skype means we'll still be in touch. but still a rather renching thing.

sorry the blog is a little down beat today !

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here's my mum !

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... is amazing.  and totally in charge of our emigration.  which is handy.

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we went to the excellent anglesey abbey at the weekend as part of a weekend away with my mum.

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there was some wedding reception going on, although they seemed to be over an hour late arriving.   that made for a nice photo of an off a master of ceromonies who had lost his ceromonies, a chilly harpist who had no audience, and a statue flautist.

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the house itself looks lovely, but we spent our time wandering round the fantastic gardens


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and posing for photos which will become part of our family archives

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and here's my mum and a statue relaxing.  my mum's the one sitting down

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it was great to see brother edd and jacqui yesterday.  we saw him a couple of weeks ago too, but we had a proper chance to have a sit down and a chat about his american adventures.

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it was lovely to have a family together day with my dad, brother, pam and vi.  we got some photos for the album then tried some comedy shots.  there was definitely a generational divide in participation in the 'look silly' photo

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it was jane's birthday yesterday and the girls decorated this fantastic cake (millions of thanks to Kim for doing this as i'd totally forgotten that cakes were an essential part of my wife's birthday celebrations.  ooops)

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esther has two birthday parties this year.  here's #1

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then we went to tgi friday where we ate so much we felt ill.  quality stuff.

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both esther and kezia's orchestras played in an extravaganza yesterday.  it was very good, but we now realise that as our girls get older their concerts will get longer.  this one was 2 and a half hours, and although very good, we were slightly relieved when we could exit the rather warm venue. 

anyway i grabbed the shot above at the end of kezia's orchestra's practice, so i wouldn't get evicted.

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jane's dad with a tray of plumbing bits and jane's mum with a bowl of fruit sala

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i was greeted with some great cards and rosettes yesterday morning which i wore with pride throughout the day

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this time of year is fantastic. everything is so green and grow-y.  jane even climbed in to some stingy nettles to check a geocache for travelbugs.  there were none.

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earlier in the day we went ice skating with friends.  i noted that ice skating is like a mini-example of parenting:

* you start by pretty much carrying your kids round the rink
* then they trust you and you go round hand in hand
* after a number of exhausting laps you start to let go
* eventually they go free and start zooming round on their own much faster than you do
* and finally, you fall over in a very dramatic way, and they laugh their heads off.

mmm

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jane's sister and family came to stay over the weekend and as has become traditional, we held a sports day.  (the picture above shows the three legged race)

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things warmed up with the cheerleaders doing their hoolah hooping

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bother-in-law kev spent a while geting in to the zone and wasn't going to be moved by the pre-match frivolities

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before we knew it the egg and spoon race was underway

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the oldies showed the youngiest how it was done

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it mostly seemed to be about the level of concentration

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there were other games involving water, which eventually broke down in to a sponge water fight

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bother-in-law (bil) kev threw himself (and his sponge) in to it


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but ultimatly the excitement was too much for him

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and he ended up with a soggy face (this looks quite impressive big so click for full fun)

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people them moved on from sponges and simply started chucking water at each other

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here kezia shows her airborn throwing technique whilst thomas recovers from a wetting from esther

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as james decided it was time to sit somewhere a little drier.

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finally we hung some doughnuts on a washing line which were to be eaten without touching

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sarah's string was longer than the other's and it was dangling in the middle so she had the hardest challenge.  i like how the blurred background on the picture above makes her look like she's breathing fire (a bit)

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anyway, sarah stayed well in to the night after everyone else had finished trying to eat her doughnut.  which she managed in the end.

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so, all in all, big fun had by all

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we saw my mum yesterday afternoon and had a lovely time !

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esther and kezia set themselves an obstacle course at jane's parents yesterday which involved running round and pooring water on their heads.  much fun was had by all.

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it's a folly

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here's cousin chris and reuben admiring the view

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since you asked, brother edd is now staying at cousin dawn's house and having a great time by the sound of it.  he decided to squash his head for us whilst on skype yesterday which esther found amusing and disturbing all at once.

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jane's mum kindly had a birthday which gave us a great excuse to get dressed up smart and have a raclette

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much fun and laughing was had

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health and safety restricted candle-age to 1

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and esther even invented a board game for the occasion which we all played.  it's called Animal Adventure and was rather good actually, so if you ever come round, be sure to ask for it by name !

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when we were in minehead a few weeks ago we had a great afternoon geocaching with cousin chris of toy ahoy and family fame

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it involved rather more vertical walking than originally anticipated, but was great fun for all involved (and the space hopper)

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and here is cousin chris.

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kezia came up with a scheme to get the see saw started.  she sent esther up the pole to balance her out.

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this was my cunning way of preventing blindness

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but it's also a neat way of checking receding hair lines

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here's my mum talking to brother edd sitting in his hire car (stationary in a motel car park)

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as had become traditional, jane's parents came over last night for our annual pancake party

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esther made a sign.

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jane made the mixture

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and then we got down to the business

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i create chaos by taking photos in continuous mode with my external flash on, causing blindness to anyone in the same room

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jane's dad was particularly surprised by my approach and use it as an excuse to do a particularly elaborate setup

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his throw was a great visual success.  the picture below is the catch part of the manoeuvre.  the throw bit is the picture at the top of this post

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jane's mum threw a smaller pancake.  can you spot it ?

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having got her eye in she then went for some more complicated shaped ones

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we did actually eat them (but not me due to egg allergyness)

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even esther had a go

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and of course jane did too.

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one thing worth noting is the difference in our kitchen since we've had our extension.  above is this year (now with extra space to the right).  below is last year (viewed from the other way round)

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esther loves her coat hood being up

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jane and i went out for a wedding anniversary meal yesterday and it was jolly good.  it was a bit presumptuous as it's not our wedding anniversary for a few days, but i recon we can make it !

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kezia had her birthday party yesterday.  quite loud at times, but generally excellent because some lady came in and did a couple of hours of activities.  jane did the food and i just got in the way.  like a proper dad should.

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kezia sums up how we all feel on back to work monday

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we met up with my mum yesterday and had a lovely time at Waddesdon Manor.  here she is in and out of focus

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and here she is in 3d (nearly)

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writing thank you letters and visiting friends (who have a wii)

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on the day after boxing day our family got the horrible winter vomitting bug.  whilst jane and esther lay in their death beds upstairs our hosts let kezia and me wander around their house.

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we'd had to abandon the sky part of this jigsaw the night before as we'd run out of time, but the extra half day meant kezia and i could spend a few hours putting a few hundred identical blue pieces together

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meanwhile kevin and thomas played some proper games

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and sarah (who popped in the last piece on jigsaw above) played with her Dora head.  she said "it's brilliant because i love and dora and i love heads". surely a winning combo.

james loved chucking leaves

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thomas loved taking pictures

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everyone loved posing for a group photo

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here's kevin's parents

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here are thomas and kezia dangling

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and here's kevin trying to make jane and esther sick (oh the irony)

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and when the kids still weren't worn out we put them on this training wheel where they could run round in circles without going anywhere (thus preparing them for later life)

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esther and kezia sweeped up the leaves at church last week

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thomas had an idea to surprise his dad with this picture of him and cousin kezia on our thames path walk last week.  he really wanted the picture to appear on the blog.  so here it is.

hello thomas (and his dad) if you're reading this !

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another lovely trip to waddesdon yesterday to meet my mum before she disappears for a few weeks with work.  we had a lovely morning as usual with a brunch and a walk.

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we got very 'lost' on the way thanks to me putting the wrong postcode in the satnav.  satnav got us there, but it was the wrong place.  then we realised we hadn't got a map.  then we saw my mum drive by so we quickly turned round but failed to keep up with her along a wiggly road, but then esther remembered that her car was a different colour and we'd be following a stranger.

so we stopped and i found the proper postcode via my blackberry and we weren't actually that far away, so it only took us a couple more minutes to find it.

this new arty tyre tree thing was good.

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we had a family funeral yesterday to celebrate the life of a great aunt.  it was the kind of party she would have loved to have attended with her family and friends travelling from all over the country to be there.

this picture is of the vicar and the undertaker.  what a great contrast the two made.  you'll want to click the picture to study the undertaker - he was dressed perfectly, right down to the wonky pince-nez glasses !

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my father-in-law avoiding the paps at the beach

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i'm often accused (by people i know) of not posting enough dreadful pictures of myself despite me often looking like a complete loon who would easily qualify for inclusion.  so here's a picture taken by my lovely wife jane (below).  jane isn't a loon.

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esther had a cooking party to celebrate her birthday.  due to numbers it's turned in to a weekend festival with a party yesterday and another one today.

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they cooked pizza shaped like cats (of course) and cookies and truffles

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and jane mad a magnificent fishy cake (don't tell the cats)

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i took kezia to a concert yesterday to mark the end of the year.  the mayor was there to give out the certificates (although he outsourced that to his wife)

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of course the parent paparazzi were out in force as usual

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and the mayor himself was very jolly

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i took the girls on a bike ride yesterday to the local village post office where we saw a famous person who lives locally.  he laughed at me (in the nicest possible way) for having my bike hat on backwards.  oops.   we went on a more elaborate way back and had to cross this slippery mud pit, which esther managed to get stuck in.

later on i took esther to watch the indiana jones film.  indy wouldn't have got stuck in a muddle puddle i expect.

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bother in law kev has been tagged.  he looks proud of it here, but the reality will catch up with him soon.

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he found himself stuck behind the bars in the don't go in there place

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and ended up in a bare cell.

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let that be a warning to you all.

(thanks to bother in law kev for not being too bothered when i take his photo!)

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the weekend holiday began with a party for jane's dad (referred to as Party).  this is his grandson (my nephew) Thomas and not Party doing a cart wheel.

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here is bother-in-law kev and party
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and here's kev doing egg 'n' spoon as part of the faily obstacle race jane constructed

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we had a agreat day as usual yesterday at waddesdon manor with my mum.  more photos to come - just haven't had a chance to sort them yet !

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who'd have thunk the ice would have been slippery

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i took the day of work yesterday to look after the girls as they had an inset day and jane was working.  so we went ice skating in the morning then headed to a transport cafe for a greasy slippery fry up.

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happy wedding anniversary to mrs funkypancake who i married 12 years ago. great stuff !

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kezia became a year older yesterday and said she felt like a completely new person.  i asked what was different and she said her age.  so that's that.  here she is playing a birthday game with poochy.

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it was kezia's birthday party yesterday and i'm exhausted.

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about the only think i had to do was to cut this banner so it would fit on two lines.  of course i chopped it at the wrong bit and we ended up with 'happy birth' on the second line.  ooops.

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for the first time ever with our girls we got an entertainer in (as we weren't sure if our house would be up to the job this year - in fact it was, but hey ho).

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the entertainer chap was very good and at one point got the kids to wrap jane and tanya up (it was going to be me, but jane kindly took my place). 

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big shout out (as they say) to jane's mum, tanya and julie for their massive helpage too.

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here's jane's mum in the giant kitchen

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and here's the pink lady bird cake that jane built

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and here's a picture from before the party where the girls were blowing up lots of balloons

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here is my bother-in-law kev who has been staying with us for a couple of days.  they head back north tomorrow and i'm back to work tomorrow so the normal mundane funkypancake will return, rather than the recent geocaching and family/friends pictures.

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as with all good marbles games, some became lost under a chest of drawers.  here is kezia and thomas attempting to retrieve it.

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here's my mum and the raclette machine

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my mum loved listening to esther playing christmas carols on her (esther's) violin.

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so much so that she phoned her parents (my grandma/pa and esther's great grandma/pa) and put them on speaker phone so they could hear. esther's first live performance 'down the wire'.

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my mum sells christmas decorations so every day for her is christmas.  sometimes it's christmas for us too.

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kezia's reaction to seeing a crocodile

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this punch and judy was part of kezia's home learning.  i videoed the performance for posterity.

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great stuff.  and very funny to watch

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here's a picture from our scottish trip. esther drew the picture of uncle david. good likeness i'd say.

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plumbing disasters and visitors inside, but outside there was much balloon fun

here is kezia doing her first ever homework. it was spelling, and she walked it. although to be honest they were quite easy. not that i'd get them all wright.

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these are from our holiday in dorset a few months back.

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kev works for a church. can't you tell.

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my mum came to visit yesterday so we went out for a birthday dinner (4/5 of us have birthdays within a few weeks of each other). we then came home and watched Flushed Away.

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according to kezia it was my lovely wife jane's 80th birthday yesterday. happy birthday maaam

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my lovely wife jane doesn't usually let me post photos of her, but she let me put this one on. not sure why though !

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it absolutely chucked it down with rain during hte party, but we still did the crafting outside under the shelter of the gozeeeebo (with the military poncho acting as an extension)

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after church kezia and i played on our computers (me editing/uploading this, her playing cbeebies). when the rain stopped we went to the local village show and kezia ate candyfloss

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and got her best shoes all muddy (sorry jane - my fault) ooops

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jane is off camping with esther this weekend, so kezia and i are having a daddy/kezzy day. it's mostly involved watching lots of glastonbury on the telly, but today we went bowling, fast fooding, village feting, play stationing and more telly glastonburying.

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we both started off our second game by getting strikes which wasn't bad - but it all went down from there.

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i had a day off work yesterday so jane and i went for another walk and a pub lunch. we're getting in to quite a nice routine, and i can see a nice retirement ahead in about 30 years time (assuming we can both still work by then. might be zimmer framing down to mcdonalds).

anyway, we had our lunch in the Stag and Huntsman in Hambleden and the food was fantastic. you must go.

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whilst jane has been busy with her exam marking (if you feel sorry for people doing exams, spare a few thoughts for those who have to mark them - and their families!), anyway, i took the girls to waddesdon manor where we met my mum

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less tulips this time

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it was my father-in-law's birthday yesterday, so we went over to their house for cake. he's known as 'party'.

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 kezia decided he wanted to remind party how old he was so wrote it on his card envelope.  i think this is a practice to be encouraged.


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to work off the cake and beer we played french cricket

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 and here's the man in action on the field


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we've recently got a fancy posh picnic kit which involves proper plates, knife and forks and a table cloth (and a few other bits and bobs).

it had its first outing yesterday. we had cloudy lemonade (made from real clouds)
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and strawberries and cream
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continued thanks are due to my lovely family for putting up with my funkypancake activities !

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my lovely wife jane
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and my lovely fambily
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we've all been ill with a stomach bug, but somehow kezia managed to hold off getting it until after her birthday party and had much fun. anyroadupdown here's dora waving goodbye.

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it's kezia's birthday party tomorrow and jane has built this magnificant dora the explorer cake. fantástico

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big day for the family yesterday as kezia started proper school. i worked from home so i could be part of the sending off ceremony and then we went out for lunch just the three of us (kezia is only doing half days to begin with).

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kezia had a great time and is really looking forward to going back tomorrow. jane is having an identity crisis. and i've put on over half a stone in weight since early december. it's all change here !

we went ice skating yesterday. we had planned to explore portsmouth but the weather forecast didn't look great and the girls wanted to go skating (just in case you wondered what our plan A had been)

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(using the classic "everyone looking sideways" pose)

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esther on her new bike
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kezia on her new bike
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kezia walking her bike
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jane on kezia's bike
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kezia's granny on kezia's bike
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here are two pictures i took of my brother-in-law (and sister-in-law) when we visited them a weekend back.

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i think both these photos deserve captions, but i thought i'd leave the wording to you. Be nice (because they are!)

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we were privaledged enough to attend nephew James' baptism yesterday. It was a very jolly day and much fun was had.

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james' new godfather jumped straight in to action by reading him the Church Times.

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and here are three clergy types. only one of them is a proper vicar. can you guess which one ?

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i also got to meet the chap who took the photo of the fantastic scary hassock

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isn't this just the best thing to do with your coat when you're a kid ?

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here's a photo from last week's trip to the Roal Dahl museum
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i realised i never explained why we went to norfolk last month year. it was because it was my parents-in-law 40th wedding anniversary.

here is their cake:
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and here they are reading some newspapers:
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and here's some other family members:
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(how behind am i - this was a year and a quarter ago, and i've only just found the unpublished photos festering in my draft folder)

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jane and her mum playing a drawing game at jane's birthday tea
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i gave brother edd this fantastic birthday present, but he left it behind when he went home. looking back at the pictures i can see that perhaps he wasn't as pleased with it as i'd imagined.

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esther is now 7 ! how amazing is that.
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jane's parents
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it's not quite Moses parting the oceans and leading his people across the sea. instead it's esther leading the family over some stepping stones across a pond in a National Trust property. It didn't quite have the same religious significance of course.

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my father-in-law turned 70 last Saturday. i used to think 70 was incredibly old, but now it doesn't seem so amazingly old. It's still impressive though!

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here is poochy (esther and kezia's granny). it was her birthday yesterday so we had a big slap up sunday roast and birthday cake.

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kezia and i had an impromtu day out in london yesterday.

we started off at little venice (now a very short walk from Paddington station) where there was a canalway calavcade (it's on until 1st may, so you should pop along if you live near/in london). more info here.
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we then tracked down the canal boat stop and got a canal to Camden (more info here). the canal trip was very nice and stops by London Zoo which might be a neat way or reaching it from paddington.
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we then wandered round camden looking at people's hairstyles and enjoying the various smells and sounds, before dropping down the Northern Line to Bank where we got on a DLR driver-less train. unfortunately the one we were on broke down so it was driven a little of the way, but it was still good fun to sit at the front and pretend to be the drivers before it broke down !
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then we had a wander round Canary Wharf and West India Quay before heading back on the Jubbly Line.
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despite all the loveliness of the canal and the crazyness of Camden, Kezia loved the Docklands and the dark tunnel on the DLR (as it leaves Bank) best

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last saturday night we had a family feast. it was a formal affair and i wore my dinner jacket. we also had a family disco. here are esther and kezia waiting for jane and i to sit down and enjoy the raclette.

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jane and i have just been away for a couple of nights for our anniversary.

here is jane dancing at Blenheim Palace. Lots more photos of follow. but first i'm off for a few days with work.

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photos from both trips should appear before the week is out !

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it's our tenth wedding anniversary today. hooplah !

it's probably a good time to thank jane for being a fantastic wife. so. er. thank you.

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here's to another 10.

here are esther and kezia doing some comedy walking styles. practising for the ministry perhaps.

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for the third and final time we sang happy fourth birthday to kezia.
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we turned off all the lights and hadn't realised it was going to be quite dark once she'd blown them out. here are the final glowing moment
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(candles on what remains of her birthday cake!)

... letting your little sister wobble your wobbly tooth

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we had a party at our house last night and poor old kezia had to stay in her room because of her potential contageousity. we think she might be going down with it though as she went straight to sleep without complaining.

but to be sure i made these posters to warn people of the danger.

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kezia and i went to henley yesterday to get out of the house whilst esther stayed at home being itchy with her 'chicken plops' (as kezia calls it - she knows what it's really called but thinks the word 'plop' is quite funny. which it is).

we went to the 'toad house' which is the Wind In The Willows exhibit that we went to before. kezia stops being 3 in a few weeks time so we're taking to everything that's free for 3 year olds and under whilst we can ! Actually, this was her choice anyway.

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in my thanks to you the blog reader, i didn't thank jane my wife for allowing me the endless hours i've put in to funkypancake over the last [insert number here] of months.

jane's patience with me isn't limitless of course and i went too far on new year's eve by taking photos as we rolled over in to the new year.

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for a while it looked like this would be the only photo i'd have of the period around midnight
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(i was the only willing subject i had left)

here are cousin thomas and his cousin kezia (not to be confused with his imaginary friend 'kezia') out walking in Burnham Beeches. it's a great place, so you must go.
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i like the fact it's run by the Corporation of London which sounds very 'industrial revolution'.
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here's bother in law kev, who's here for the new year.
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if this were a proper blog i'd talk about how watching kezia at a disco party this afternoon was a strange experience as i don't often see her playing with her contemporaries (what with being at work and everything), and how i watched to see if she was a leader or a follower etc and how i thought such parties might go for her in 15 years time.

but it's not, so let me point out the toddler in his baby walker zooming about between the manic 3 and 7 year olds with minimum effort because of the very slippery floor

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it was esther's first school nativity play yesterday afternoon and it was fantastic !
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after the play finished there were photo opportunities for each part of the cast and the angels were last which is why the stage looks a bit empty. here they are running off
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here are esther and kezia busy crafting at their tables whilst making a house call.

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here is our family as drawn by esther. it's interesting to see who's in and out compared to last year's portrait.

the good thing is we all seem very happy. this photo doesn't do the real picture justice unfortunately.

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what is kezia saying to esther here?

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the girls are away for a few days so jane (my lovely wife) and i took full advantage of our free weekend by going to Sonning Mill which is a great place.

here's the view from our table (the people who were sitting this had already gone through to the theatre)

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jane and the girls have been in Nottingham for a few days. here is brother-in-law kev with all the kids
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the weather in england is quite mad at the moment. it's more like summer than summer was. we've been taking advantage of it again and yesterday afternoon went for a cycle ride.

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yesterday evening (after a walk up some hills) we had a family pizza and (mary) poppins night. here is the pizza that kezia made for me - it's my jolly face !

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yesterday kezia and i had a daddy/kezia day (and jane and esther had a mummy/esther day). kezia and i travelled to henley and went to the Rowing Museum which also features Wind In The Willows exhibition.

this photo is kezia inspecting her audio guide standing next to one of the displays.

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esther spent most of the time on the beach the wrong way up as she practiced hand stands and cartwheels.
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after a while jane got up and showed she could do it too ! i had no idea. here's a hand stand:
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and here's an eternal cartwheel:
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here is brother edd. i saw him at the Reading Festival today. i went and sat down near the stage and at the end of the band looked round me and there he was sitting but a few metres away. neither of us had spotted each other, and neither had we agreed to meet in that location.

how very strange.

here he is holding one of my funkypancake 'business cards' which i give to people who ask why i'm taking pictures of boring things.

jane and i went for a drink in the fantastic danesfield hotel on saturday night. i was woefully underdressed which added to the fun. people thought i must be someone famous (i should have told them about my radio berkshire appearance !).

here's jane enjoying her pimms:

and here's the very strange crisps they brought us:

i tell you this because jane and the girls are off camping for a few nights.

cycling seems to be our new hobby. today we went for a three hour cycle round Windsor park with us all cycling. here's my attempt at taking a photo whilst cycling.

and here's kezia cycling on her own last thursday
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our whole family is now capable of cycling which opens up a whole range of exciting cycling trips. hoorah for wheeled mobility

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it was my lovely wife jane's birthday on friday and i had been so useless i didn't even get her a cake. in my defence, i am always totally rubbish, so it wasn't anything personal.

life has been completely hectic of late so it was great for just the two of us to go out for meal.

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unfortunately we showed our age by feeling tipsy after one pint/one glass of wine and too tired to stay for a dessert or even coffee !

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anyway, many belated returns jane !

it's a party weekend. preschool party saturday lunchtime, family birthday party for esther and my mum last night and sunday is esther's 6th birthday party.


i woke up this morning to the smell of chocolate cake being cooked. it was esther baking a cake for her school fete.

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esther did all the cooking herself and it won first prize for the best cake. it tasted absolutely fantastic so no wonder it won.

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the sea's a liquid so why does it need a saw ?

broken joke requring punchline: why did the sea saw ?

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here are jane and kezia in marlow. a very nice place on a very nice (and hot) day. it was officially 42degC today (probably)

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today (19th June) is jane and lynn's day for doing the london to brighton bike ride ! the support team is ready (with their buckets and spades) to meet her at the finish line.

details here

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kezia finally becomes gemma

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have i got two identical wives ? is this a trick photo using a mirror or digital editing ?

no, it's jane and a portrait of her drawn by kezia.

the real jane is the one on the right


kezia seems to be spending more of her time as her alter-ego 'gemma the dog'. she'll often refuse to talk and simply say 'woof' instead. she even wakes up at night in character.

last night we went for tea at our friends' house where kezia played with the real dog Gemma upon which she bases her other persona.

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i learnt early on it was best to let others win at beer drinking races. here i am with my father in law (as seen through brotherinlaw kev's mobile)

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we had a family meal last night. it was a raclette and we all had to dress up fancy. esther was a fairy and kezia was a ballerina (ballernina as she says it). jane and i wore our bestest clothes

much fun (and cheese) was had by all

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for every sensible family photo there must be an equal and opposite silly one where everyone pulls comedy faces (or vice versa).

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the 'holiday jiggy' is a family tradition.

here are my wife, her sister and their mother doing a jigsaw on holiday.

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the finished article:


esther and me in jane's glasses

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esther and cousin thomas trapped behind bars

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here's an old picture. it's kezia reading to bella the dog in hull some months back.

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spending time with my lovely wife !

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here's my mum teaching my daughters how to use a candle snuffer. there's always some fire related fun going on when we go to visit !

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kezia's legs are a little short, but she can still do the foot pedals if we put them on a box.

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we visited our local village church yesterday morning for their Good Friday children's activities. it's interesting visiting other people's churches and it makes you think what it must be like for people visiting our own church.

after all the activities we went for a massive bike ride. unfortunately my bike had two flat tyres for most of the way. some kind souls came out of their houses at one particularly 'low' moment and lent us their pump !

when we got home the girls were exhausted despite not doing much cycling themselves (although i think esther does some with her tag-along bike).

after a family hour of midtown madness computer games we all watched Shrek 2 and went to bed !

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esther did her first concert yesterday afternoon. i wasn't able to go as i had to take kezia to a birthday party, but jane and esther's granny were there.

esther recreated the scene with katie and kezia later in the afternoon. i tried to capture the sound in vision with a slow sync flash.

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jane and i went out for an anniversary-meal last night. it was very good and we did lots of laughing.

hoorah for lovely wives (please note, i've only got one wife. i wouldn't want you to get the impression i was supporting polygamy):

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pudding:
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it's jane and I's wedding anniversary and i stuffed up on the card front, so these flowers can be for my lovely wife of 9 years.


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there's a great fairy exhibition going on in the Reading Museum at the moment. there's some fantastic dressing up stuff for kids, as demonstrated by kezia and esther here:

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the kids dressing up were cute, but the funny part was watching the mums and dads who couldn't resist trying a few items on themselves.

i fell in to this category and esther insisted on taking a photo:

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kezia with a drink in a cafe

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jane was on a course yesterday so esther and kezia only had me to entertain yesterday. we decided to spend the day in Reading Town Hall where we went to the museum and the Jelly Leg'd Chicken Art Gallery.

esther and kezia spent a good hour and half making these sheepy puppets.

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it was kezia's birthday party yesterday.

before:
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during:
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here is the party girl and anna:
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part of the party involved craft activities (amateur millinery):
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and then mad dancing to jiggle the food about:
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kezia, aged 2 and a lot, made a mini oil rig at her pre-school yesterday . how fantastic is that !

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we had a rare sunday with no church commitments yesterday so we decided to have a family day and go to london. we did lots of nice touristy things and spent hours in the tate modern.

here are the girls on the tube

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esther lost another tooth yesterday. if she carries on at this rate she'll be toothless by the end of February. And that would suck.

luckily the tooth fairy delayed her appearance until last night when she picked up the two of them, so that saved her a trip.

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exciting life milestones - kezia is spending her first night in a big bed.

so far, so good (ie she's asleep!)

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here are esther and kezia playing with some clay:
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and here is a rather sad looking clay birthday cake made by kezia:
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here is a gratuitous shot of my lovely, photo suffering, wife jane.

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my mum came to visit yesterday so we went bowling. esther won (by a long shot).

kezia loved looking down the hole at the side of the lanes so she could see the balls whizzing back. As soon as she'd pushed her ball off she'd throw herself on the floor to see down the gap (and jane would chase after her as seen here)

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here is esther putting on her new christmas make-up.

her little mirror was a bit wonky so she ended up with a slightly strange shaped face in the reflection !

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it's brother (in law) kev and a big kid sign.

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esther likes to write little letters before she gets up in the morning. she often writes little stories in her 5 year old's writing and spelling.

last night i spotted this in our room and thought it was very sweet.

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it says:

Every day is a busy day ! why does bedtime always come. we all need sleep to get us ready for tomorrow

we went to visit brother edd and jacqui this afternoon. here is edd's alien. it was knitted by our aunt apparently.

there's a tradition of aliens being knitted. the clangers are the most obvious example.

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i took the girls to the post office to post some letters. we were given a pile of stamps and had to sit on the floor and lick'n'stick them on the letters.

it was all very complicated and panicy but we managed.

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poor man's jenga was played at length on our recent holiday to the isle of wight.

kezia is particularly daring when she lunges for her piece. but she knows this and enjoys the danger !

To celebrate the successful removal of each piece she gave it a quick kiss. We thought it so funny we've incorporated it in to our house rules for future games

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when i come back from work the girls often hide and i have to try and find them. if it's dinner time they are usually under the table.

but if it's bed time then they could be anywhere. esther hid brilliant this evening and i failed to find her.

can you see where she is (i've helped by narrowing the whole house down to this small area)

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here are jane's sister's family outside their temporary vicarage residence in Nottingham. we went to visit them for the weekend and had a lovely time.

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here is cousin thomas and kezia in the Denby Pottery shop. Thomas enjoyed dangling out of his pram grabbing cup handles and plates as he went past the stacks of crockery !

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and here are cousin thomas, esther and kezia in a row by a wall

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i was working from home today so jane went in to esther's school for lunch. kezzie and i had lunch together and then she decided she wanted to do her own work too so pulled up a table and chair next to my laptop.

when jane got home a few minutes later she told her to be quiet and not come in as we were both working.

i'm sure her book of nursery ryhmns were much more interesting than the thing i was reading.

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click to download movie (teeny weeny 56KB)

(the photo above looks rubbish as it was a screen grab from the teeny video clip !)

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here we are having a picnic in a carpark in some cold november rain. british life at its best.

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we went to my mum's house yesterday and had a very nice day. she even looked after the girls for a couple of hours so jane and i could go speed-shopping.

when we got back it was time for sparklers.

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here is esther on a beach. can you see her ? she's wearing a red rain coat.


click to have any chance of finding her

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esther wrote a story about trains. it goes like this:

chuffa chuffa, choo choo, on the track
where are you going clickety clack
off to london, then we're coming back
chuffa chuffa, choo choo, on the track

here are esther and kezia performing it for you. Download file (500K).

it's weird going back to work after having a week with the fambily. i miss not listening to the same tape of winnie the pooh multiple times each day. i also miss not shouting "FLAG!" out loud every time i see a flag (as is popular with the female members of our household).

so here, as a reminder of just a few days ago, are a load of flags so we can all shout flag flag flag flag together.

we can pretend we're all one one big happy bloggy fambily.

hoorah.

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kezia had her first day at pre-school yesterday and absolutely loved it. she made a whale which she painted herself.

To celebrate her growing up she was also allowed to sit at the dinner table on a grown ups chair for tea. She understands it's a probationary period and any messing will result in her being relegated back to her old chair.

how life whizzes by.

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by now we will be heading back from our week's holiday (did you miss me ?), so a topical post

how do you keep kids amused during long car journeys ? well, we find listening to CDs and tapes works well. Esther's favourite are joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat, The Young Person's Guide to the orchestra, various rockin' kids church songs cds and story tapes.

on a recent trip to the north of england i agreed to sit in the back of the car with kezia whilst esther sat up the front. i borrowed jane's CD player so i could listen to my own music. i also took two sets of headphones in case kezia didn't want to be left out.

the first problem was kezia's head was too small and speakers hung at her neck level. so i raise them up with her mouse toy. then she went all space age and wore them sideways.

then esther wanted to wear the other pair and they ended up jiggling away to BRMC whilst jane and i listened to winnie the pooh.

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but if you really want to be amazed, watch this and see what realy happens when the funkypancake family go on long car journeys. (it's 392KB but is worth the short download - believe me!)

esther went to her first school disco last night. as her father i was very anxious. but all went well.

here she is warming up

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esther and kezia potting bulbs in the garden with their granny.

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today it was jane's dad's turn to do the domino challenge. interestingly he chose a different construction method which proved quite stable (though not as high as other attempts due to the limited supply of dominos).

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i was working from home today and took half an hour out at lunchtime to go and have my sandwiches with esther at her school. i was SO completely nervous going along but it was fine.

all the kids were in fancy dress because it's national book week (!) so it was even more surreal than i thought it was.

anyway, here's a picture of kezia's picture:
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And here's a picture of kezia doing a funny face. please do your own funny face whilst looking at kezia's funny face to add to the total web fun-factor:
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it's national poetry day today apparently. at esther's school the kids were encouraged to learn a poem by heart to perform to their class.

so esther learnt one about a snail which you can listen to by clicking here. (137KB MP3 file)

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due to late meetings i've not seen much of the family this week. but today i got back in time to see esther, kezia and thomas and sarah (our nephew and niece). here i am with sleeping baby sarah and a slightly worried thomas.

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i took the girls to reading museum today so we could look at the dodgy biscuit tins and admire the history of reading festival exhibition.

the show piece of the exhition is a guitar that kurt cobain played and smashed up when they headlined reading. no photos were allowed unfortunately. esther asked why he smashed it up and i said i thought he was probably really angry. esther said "well that's not a very good thing to do, even if you are angry".

there's a couple of things we have to do every time we go to the museum. one is use the giant microscope, and the other is look through the magnifying glasses at beatles. kezia has a badger on her shoulder which was part of the museum's treasure hunt for kids.

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esther is now in year 1 at school and now gets homework. here she is with her first set of spellings.

it's a list of words beginning with 'sh' and includes shop, ship, shed, shampoo, she, and bizzarely, he and we !

her writing and spelling are alreayy better than myn.

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it was anna's birthday today and jane helped out with the face painting. here are kezia and cousin thomas looking at the face painting manual after getting back from the party. and here also is esther's new hat.

but who was the fantastic mr balloon at anna's party ? none other than regular blog reader, my good friend Tony.

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jane and esther on the dodgems
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esther on a bungee trampoline
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my office family fun day had lots of stuff for kids. face painting was particularly popular with our girls:
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nephew thomas is staying with us for a couple of days whilst our sister-in-law's baby hatched (it hatched today and is a girl making me an aunt for the first time - i'm already an uncle to thomas of course).

nephew thomas is too macho to have his face painted so went for a sailor-style tattoo instead:
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it was my work fun day today, but fun is such hard work. compare the going with the coming back:

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here is esther with her rosette for being Highly Commended. She was so proud.

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and here is a photo esther took of me with my trophy (and kezia who suddenly decided to remove her t-shirt and come up with me to collect the trophy- i think she needs to get out of this habit quick !):

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and esther in the car-park:

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it's been a bank holiday today. esther and i did really well at the Swallowfield Show. we both entered stuff in the craft show. here are our award winning entries:

esther got Highly Commended for her butterfly and vegetable chariot:
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i got a second place for 'transport' and 1st place for 'about the home':
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i also got second place for the song title (as seen here)

but my best was my '24 hours' collection which not only won 1st prize in the category, but also won best photo in the show:
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This year i only won £6. not quite a lucrative as last year.

jane now has her own camera so can take photos of things when i'm not there. here is a good shot of esther going down a slide.

no children were hurt in the taking of this photo:
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like the rest of england we went to henley to feed ourselves and the ducks. it must be the olympic rowing which made it so popular today. or maybe the sight of the sun in summer ?

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kezia in the church window again. there's something about this window which is so completely photogenic.

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esther won second prize for her rock cakes. so she's an award winning chef which is impressive for a 5 year old. i got a second and a third place for my photos so i was pleased too !

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we went on a massive bike ride today.

here is kezia waiting to board her bike seat:
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we had a picnic in a random field:
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and the girls picked (and ate) blackberries:
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esther's art

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being a father of girls is a worry. especially with little plastic chaps like this about. his tongue was hanging out and everything. luckily esther wasn't too impressed and the moment passed without trouble.

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here is my lovely wife jane. she is lovely. (i hope she's reading this so she knows).

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esther is hiding in the bushes. can you see here ?

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esther and kezia giving a belated birthday present to my mum.

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i don't know about hose-pipe bans, but i recon we should have age limits on garden hose using. they are crazy little people normally. give them a hosepipe to water your garden and you get that and a whole lot more !

just how many times did i have to shout "watch the washing" causing her to look straight at the washing line whilst subconsciously aiming the water in her direction of gaze ?

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when we were in scotland we visited jane's aunt who excavated a number of old toys for esther and kezia to play with. it turned in to more of a trip down memory lane.

here are two generic people who most people our-ish age will probably recognise.

i'm not sure what kind of person this is:
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but this is a playmobil one:
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check out the playmobil site and observe the strange floating heads

32. what kind of an age is that ? oh well.

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(drawing by andy)

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i like going supermarket shopping with esther and kezia. i think this is because i do it so rarely it's still a novelty.

here is a game you can play to bring even more fun to a shopping trip. get a massive multi-pack of crisps and try to get your youngster to balance it on their head whilst you whizz them about on the trolley.

kezia did quite well, although she found the bag of oven chips we tried later a little cold.

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we stayed the week in the same holiday house as jane's parents. we were a bit apprehensive about this (as were they i suspect) as we hadn't done such a thing before.

in actual factual it turned our brilliantly as they were happy to stay in on the evenings and jane and i could go for healthy walks and pub drinking ! we loved it, the girls loved it and i think they loved it too. hoorah for all.

here they are at the wedding under a red heating lamp:
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kezia spent much of the wedding taking photos with the dispensable cameras. where did she get that habit from ?

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the reason we went up to scotland was because we were invited to jane's cousin andrew's wedding. it was a fantastic scottish wedding and we had a great time. here are a few snaps.

best man giving final words of advice:
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bride sticking her tongue out at the best man whilst signing the schedule:
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cousin andrew:
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jane's parents and andrew (prime caption contest material):

all the little people:
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arty wedding shots:
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esther and kezia kept themselves amused during the meal by drawing pictures for the dignatories and delivering them:
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staying up late:
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more creations from the mind of esther

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here is my father-in-law on his sit on mower. he loves his mower and so he should ! more red and green colour coordination for those daily attending the blog wishing to see such things.

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enjoying today's southern england sunshine (before it chucked it down with rain this afternoon) we went for a cycle ride and picnic on a village green.

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so, what do you do when you are stuck in a massive stationary motorway queue and your two year old starts screaming at the top of her voice that she needs a poo ?

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well, you put up with it as long as you can then you get your wife to lift up the 2 year old whilst your 5 year old inserts a potty under her bott.

you then wait patiently and hope that the matter in question is just liquid (and not a Preecy Egg")

you then get the 5 year old to hold the potty steady whilst the 2 year old is lifted slowly up and lowered back in to her car seat.

meanwhile the driver (me) needs to be extremely carefully accelerating and decelerating as the once stationary traffic queue starts to finally move off.

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i'm pleased to announce there was no physical spillage or loss of dignity in the process, though i fear the emotional scars may take longer to heal.

kezia's dolls changed names again. tiny baby is now called olivia.

anyone with little kids knows that sometimes you need a 'code name' for familiar items so you can talk about it without the child knowing. we used to call Esther's comfort blanket Bernard so she wouldn't realise.

Olivia, aka Tiny Baby, is called TB which meant for comedy moments shouting "have you got TB ?" "no, you have" "no i haven't seen her since we took Kezia for a Preecy Egg" etc.

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for esther's final birthday treat we went to a restaurant in henley which was very nice.

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i was particularly interested in their henley 10 commandments:


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just popped up to get something for the party and it's so much quieter up here than down stairs ! lots of pictures coming soon ...

it's esther's birthday party today so jane's been busy doing everything. i've helped by keeping myself and the girls out of the way.

after breakfast we had face painting practice. kezia went for the rabbit look.

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those who know i rushed out of work early to get home for the birthday cake singing and blowing will be disappointed to know that i missed it (and so was i).

it's esther's party day tomorrow so hopefully i'll get another chance then.

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it's esther's birthday this morning. she was very excited and got up an hour early by mistake.

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when she saw me going down stairs to get ready for work she wispered very loudly "daddy, please don't open my presents". i assured her i wouldn't. and i didn't.
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i love kids drawings. here is some esther art work.

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kezia has three babies. tiny baby, mummy baby and daddy baby. mummy baby used to be known as baby poo for those who are keeping track. if you haven't been keeping track then follow the baby poo story back through time.

here is tiny baby with a drink on its head. kezia thought it was really funny so we had to take a photo.

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just in case we hadn't had enough balloons today, kezia and esther got another one.

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reading was full of people giving away balloons today. We were offered 9 balloons in the 2 hours we were there. we took just three (one each for the girls and then this butterfly).

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i did another early start this morning and by the time the kids woke up i'd already done a good half day's work. i've been reviewing a stupidly document and didn't notice esther come in and set herself up ready to play her guitar.

what followed was a pleasant pre-breakfast serenade.

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british 'A' roads often have signs pointing to laybys with the letter 'P' by them. I always thought that meant Parking. until we had children.

now i know it means 'potty'.

jane asked me to get out the car and help so i did. when we finally got back in the car and drove off she said to me very sweetly "you know when i said help, i didn't mean 'take a photo', i actually meant 'please help me' "

i am SO rubbish at understanding things like that.

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genuine fun on an artifical beach

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esther and her friend adam were hiding from the grown ups in a cupboard. they had a shelf each which made hiding more organised

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kezia was looking particularly cool this morning.

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marking is finally finished. jane is back in circulation again. hoorah indeed.

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a family milestone. i came home this evening to witness esther had learnt to skip. she did 10 in a row and was very pleased.

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esther and kezia's grandparents have a giant cardboard box which esther and kezia love to lock themselves inside of. here they are having a nice game.

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here are adam, kezia and big eye eating puddings

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all being well this is my last weekend as a solo parent as jane will finish her marking this week. then we'll be back to full family fun.

i took esther and kezia to another carnival today. the girls had their face painted as usual. here are two rabbits:

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and here is a chap dressed as a butterfly. he started off as a caterpillar earlier in the day, but the carnival parade took so long that by the time he arrived he'd changed. apparently he was really boring to watch about half way round:
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the first descent and the second descent:
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the third descent:
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a broken fan. no wonder it's so hot out there today

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it was our local village donkey derby today. esther's old pre-school has a stall doing face painting (and tattoos and hook-a-duck).

jane took time out of her marking to do some face painting:
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here is the end result:

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jane continues to mark exam papers diligently. she's been locking herself in a room at her parents house so as not to be distubed by her disturbing husband and children.

here she is having a rare moment of fun when we went to collect her this evening:
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and here is her father in his role as "the big bad bear" chasing Esther:
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this afternoon's outing was to a local swing park. here is kezia as seen through the climbing chains.

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esther and kezia play with the games on my mobile phone. esther kept running up to me and explaining how it works. i hadn't (and still haven't) got a clue what the game is all about.

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this week's "dad and daughters" shop was in waitrose. look at the higher quality of fun we had compared to asda last week.

kezia is doing the barcode scanning whilst esther is fethching the produce.

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esther painted this today. i asked her what it was and she said she just wanted to paint something that looked nice, so it's just shapes and colours connected.

i'm biased of course, but i think it looks great !


here is another piece from the same session:
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when we went scarecrow hunting the first time it was very wet and we saw a puddle with some big oil drops in. i didn't take a photo as it we were crossing a busy road and it was chucking it down with rain.

esther saw the puddle and said "look at all those colours daddy".

i asked her if she knew what it was and she said "is it the end of a rainbow ?"

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we went to a traditional bank holiday monday car boots sale this morning. we made sure we were in by 8.45am to catch the early bargains.

on the way out we saw this children's car on top of a hedge. i recon it was bought at the car boot sale by an irate parent. when their kid didn't stop nagging they probably shouted "shut up, or we throw your plastic car away".

he didn't so they kicked it on to the hedge. a different type of car boot.

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we knew we had a tight intinery today. i wasn't surprised that esther had set her favourite toys up to discuss a game-plan.

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there was a fanstastic scarecrow hunt in a lovely thameside village called Sonning this afternoon. unfortunately it chucked it down with rain and i hadn't brought the girls' rain coats or wellies (i admit it, i'm hopeless). we met our friends there and they got wet too.

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before it got too wet we managed to spot a fair few of the 70 scaregrows on display. here are a few photos.

it's on tomorrow so if you are in europe you could probably get there in time.

uri geller lives just off the main street in sonning so you could pop in to see him too.

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update: more pictures from the next day here

next door to the cat show was a soft play kids thing so we went there for 2 hours this afternoon. kezia is qute liable to get stuck in the middle of these things. she's driven by her determination which often takes her beyond her capabilities.

the end result is that i spent two hours following her up and down slides and ladders and all sorts and generally squashing down gaps which 5 years old find tricky to fit through.

but it's cheaper than gym membership.

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jane gave esther, kezia and myself a long shopping list and we spent a 'happy' few hours playing find-the-foodstuff round Asda.

here are kezia and esther having a telly-tubby style big supermarket hug
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and here they are playing toilet brushes like trumpets.
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here is kezia's friend luke. he's party boy adam's brother and we were invited to their house for a secondary birthday experience.

Andy had set up a very elaborate obstacle course in the garden which esther and kezia (and luke) enjoyed hugely.

Adam chose to spend the party playing his new computer game inside which is fair enough. he is a boy after all.

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it's a little bit chilly today. too cold for just a t-shirt. you're better off with a light jumper in my opinion.

certainly the place NOT to be is in the padling pool which is filled up with cold water !

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esther and kezia went to their friend Adam's party this afternoon. it was at one of those massive soft play places. in this one people parents are allowed to go round with their little kids to help them.

i ended up going up slides and through rollers and ball pools with kezia whilst esther went off with the other party people.

it was most excellent and a very good way of tiring the kids out before their party tea (seen here). esther is sitting in the middle by the birthday boy !

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here is esther dressed as a king. her hat is chained to the wall so no-one steals it. it was very heavy.

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kezia and esther listen to sound archives

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jane has a meeting in london today so we travelled in together which was excellent.

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my mum generously got esther a watch when she visited last week. esther loves it.

yesterday we had time checks every 5 minutes.

jane: "when the long hand points to the number 10, that means it's 10 minutes to the hour"
esther: "that can't be right, otherwise the long hand would have to go backward to count down to the hour". (she's right you know)

my favourite was when she chose to be completely vague

me: "what time is it esther ?"
esther: "just past mid-morning"

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esther and i played shadows this afternoon. esther's shadows have mysterious properties and make her look like she's a tall skinny model (holding a small bean-filled lamb).

The picture on the left may in fact be a time-travel shadow of her in the future on her 18th birthday ?

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i'm sure i've already mentioned that it's jane's exam-marking season which means for the next 6 weeks-ish she's busy - er - marking exams and i'm busy looking after the kids.

this afternoon they were happy to play in the garden which was great. after 3 hours i got bored and suggested we went to the local swing park.

esther and kezia took their baby-buggies which meant the 5 minute walk took nearly half an hour !

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the park has recently been reopened following the installation of a new slide. it's nice and shiny:
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kezia loves chocolate ice-cream and makes sure every last drop is eaten.

(but first she checks to see if anyone is watching)

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here is our friend tony (regular commenter on this blog) and his daughters (who are esther and kezia's best friends). we had a lovely time at wellington country park.

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here is kezia and my mum
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i'm on holiday today so it's an official day of fun. esther's gone to school so my mum and i are taking kezia to toddler aerobics, then we'll pick esther up and head off for an afternoon of jollity in henley. then back for a fish and chips supper.

and the weather looks great too !

hoorah.

my mum and i took the girls to a maze this afternoon (hoorah for early work starts providing early work finishes !). it's a Saxon Maze which was built in 1991. £1.50 for adults and jolly good fun.

kezia enjoyed running off and playing hide and seek. a maze is very handy if you are the hider but less good if you are the seeker, so we kept having to catch her as she whizzed off round corners. unfortunately this just encouraged her more !

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and here is my mum and esther and kezia in the maze:
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testing for whether nanna loves butter (using the infallible buttercup reflection test):
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and the girls having lollies:
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here is my mum. she's staying for today and tomorrow. i was meant to be mending her computer but she forgot to bring it with her (d'oh !).

esther took this photo.

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i'm working from home today. kezia just came in to the room where i'm working and sat on a chair opposite where i'm sitting and started doing her own work !

she was only there for about 2 minutes and went away again without saying anything (version with finger in the 24 hour photos)

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sunday usually involves lots of time at church for us, especially if we are doing music. today we left the house at 8.15am and got back at 12.15 because we had two seperate practices for two future events.

esther and kezia are always fantastic at playing and just getting on with stuff, and today was no exception. so we offered them a treat. esther chose mcdonalds, so that's what we did.

this afternoon we went for what is becoming a traditional sunday afternoon bike ride (see here and here). on the way, our friend Gill popped her head out of a passing car window and invited us round to her house for a refreshing drink.

here is esther and adam playing whilst we refreshed ourselves with our hot beverages of choice.

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here is kezia playing sleeping bunnies. the bunny has just jumped up and ran around hopping. kezzy can't hope so she runs and screams instead.

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here is hannah (born 18 Apr 04):
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here is olivia (born 20 Apr 04)
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here is dougie (born 21 Apr04)
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congratulations to all involved !

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here's a little test to find the personality of your children - find a giant flower than looks like a hat and get them to stand underneath it. notice the different reactions !

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note: no flowers or children were damaged or hurt in the process of obtaining these photos.

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it's a public holiday in the UK today and of course it's raining. so we'll probably take the kids for a nice walk in the rain.

update: we went to Kew Gardens and got very wet:

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we had our friends Andy, Mary-Anne, Jacob and Alice for lunch. we beefed it up with the traditional 'orkshire puddings.

summer decided to return so here we are in the garden:
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and here are alice and kezia enjoying a drink and a cake:
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here is dougie. he's 10 days old and is very cute. he belongs to paul and liz.

last week three of our bests friends had babies every 2 days (you know what i mean). Dougie is the youngest.

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here is a profile view:
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here's tony. he often comments on the blog so you'll know him by his cutting wit. if he looks confused it's because he's lost in music. there's no turning back apparently. yes. he's caught in a trap.

he babysat as we went out auctioning which was very kind of him. and doesn't he looked pleased about it ?

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a 6am start working from today quietly downstairs. About 7.45 i heard a thundering noise, the door opened and esther and kezia arrived !

Here they are giving you a good morning wave.

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we went out cycling this afternoon in the blistering heat with esther (still painted like a dog) on jane's tag-a-long and kezia on the back of my bike.

there are bluebells everywhere this year and they look fantastic.

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we had our annual church meeting today which is always good fun. there was a nice competitive edge as there were 10 nominees for 9 places on the PCC (the church council).

i didn't let you down, dear readers, and got voted back in. hoorah.

meanwhile the children went to the church hall and were painted (and treated?) like animals by some nice volunteering ladies.

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here are lots of people eating nuts and other breakfast options

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jane has the gift of hospitality as can be seen in this photo,

Richard, along with his wife julia and daughter bethany, stayed the night at our house. Richard and Julia slept on the inflatable bed which takes about an hour of manual labour to inflate. By the time i had finished i was ready for bed.

Depending on what you think the photo looks like then it's not what you think it looks like. it's actually jane and richard checking whether there is enough air in the bed.

you'll be pleased to know there was.

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we decided against sewage and went to hillier gadens instead. it was most excellent and the weather was excellent.

here is the entrance:
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and here are jane and kezia amongst the folliage:
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i'm working from home today which usually involves getting up early and trying to put some hours behind me before the family wakes up.

that's my best working time and it also means i can finish my working day earlier.

sitting wirelessly in our dining room, listing to Air's Moon Safari very quietly in the background i spot the door stop.

i know that if i pull it back and let it go it will make the most amazing boinging noise and wake the whole family up.

i know that's a very bad idea, but now i've got the idea in my head it's difficult not to do it ...

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it's esther's first day at school today:
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and here's a sad jane and kezia:
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it was raining so esther and kezia made some hats. they are made of paper. and so were the hats.

esther's hat is actually a paper canoe, whilst kezia went for the simple chef's hat .

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we were invited for lunch round at rachel's house today after church, along with our friends clive and heather. it was very relaxing and the food was great.

here are esther and kezia with Rachel doing some plo-doh (as kezia calls it):
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and here is clive playing with some nails:
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and heather with kezia:
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kezia has been most entertaining this morning. she started the day by marching round the house banging her drum whilst playing the kazoo.

and later she instisted on carrying the plastic santa all round town whilst we went shopping.

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here are esther and kezia on the train:
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20 questions

esther takes photos at Polesden Lacey. At least she did last year.

Here is a family portrait.
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(tony please note - i'm smiling in this picture)

we had a second easter egg hunt later in the day:
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jane hid one in the lock of the garden shed which seemed a nice idea until it got stuck. oops:
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we had our friends over today. it was tony and his family.

it was nice so we sat in the garden. jane served the drinks through the window. but it didn't open enough. so people had to stoop to order.

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i've posted pictures of esther and kezia shifting our guitar gear in and out of church many times before. kezia is really getting in to it now though. in this one she appears to be smoking a fag (it's actually a white chocolate finger biscuit)

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we all got up at 7am this morning to search for easter eggs in the garden. it was a bit chilly, but good fun.

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26 questions

we went to Clandon House which is a National Trust place today. When we arrived it was raining so we became our own parents by suggesting we had a picnic in the car. jane really didn't enjoy it (as seen here).

Then the girls did a quiz to find easter eggs in the growns which was most excellent.

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mmm. chocolate. lots. everyday.

here's some of what's in the fridge:
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26 questions

camera, wallet, phone, pedometer and prescription pain killers:
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26 questions

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(20 questions)


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jane (my wife) (20 questions)

sometimes face painting is deliberate. sometimes it's not.

esther went yellow and kezia was a rabbit until she started eating a chocolate covered cake

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three play marbles

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we took esther to the west end last night to see joseph and his amazing technicolour draincoat. it was very good. tuesdays are half price.

first we had some food
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then we went to the theatre
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here are two of kezia's babies: poo and tiny.

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(i took this on my negative day but forgot to post them)

here's a photo of me taking a photo. just so you know what you are looking for if you are stalking me in london.

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it's cold and not sunny. but kids love sandpits. and sunglasses

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i went to Asda last night to get some milk. i had a great time. i didn't take any photos whilst i was there, but there was millions of bizarre things going on. i think i'll do another trip (if i can afford it) and blog the event in detail.

some of the highlights included a pair of shoes by the CD counter which looked like someone had simply stepped out of and left behind, multipacks of crisps spread around aisles (like they had been set free), bottles of alcopop-type drinks by the toilet rolls and, my favourite, a bra hanging in the last minute impulse-buy section with the chocolate at the checkout.

the guy doing the announcements about bargains of teh day was fantastic too. he should have been running a mobile disco for the over 60s. i even phoned jane up so she could listen to his comedy banter.

here is my haul (mostly consisting of light bulbs)
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it was story-time for kezia this evening and she pointed at her books and said "kezzy choose". "of course" i said trying to be encouraging.

she grabbed something as quick as a flash and said "this one". this would have been fine, only it was a shoe. my response was to take this photo. we both thought it very funny.

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about 4 hours later i've realised that she was probably saying "kezzy's shoes" which were on her bookshelf and not "kezzy choose". oh well.

it's her fault for not being able to speak properly.

kezia loves my christmas shoes. anyone who comes to the house gets a quick guided tour which starts with a visit to my shoes "daddy's chrismas shoes".

kezia loves wearing other people's shoes. So it was only right she combined her two favourite things.

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it's mothering sunday today in the UK. esther and i made breakfast in bed for jane:

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jane's parents came round after church for lunch then we went for a walk:
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here is esther with our friends who read this blog. we had a lovely fun day.

on the train to henley:
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in coats:
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here is the complete esther picture. notice the kite. i didn't.


here are two pieces are art drawn by esther. the one on the left seems to be a person riding a horse. the one on the right is a person with an eye patch next to a winnie the pooh sticker:

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here is a slightly older picture. once again we see the hidden eyes. a key feature of esther's current art.

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here is kezia with her self-made frog hat on. she insisted on wearing it when she was having her bedtime prayers. it restricted her view slightly.

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sunday afternoons are a good time for board games and the like.

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we had lunch with my old housemate Paul and his wife Liz. lovely food and lovely company. marvellous. (liz is very pregnant hence the profile bump shot)

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paul is also completely mad:
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esther has come up with a brilliant plan. she's going to wear a star on her hand for 24 hours. where does she get such great ideas from ? it's a performance art thing i recon.

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by the way, the lent activity is still going well.

last sunday esther lost £1. we spent ages looking for it. eventually we found it. it was in the turnup on her skirt at the back. very much like looking for spectacles which are balanced on your head all along. sort of.

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we've been on holiday for the last week so there's been no real time updates since last saturday to the blog. best i've had is minimal text access to email.

anyway, i've got tonnes of pictures (i took about 500 photos and have saved about 350). so expect a few days worth of mega-blogging before it's back to business as usual.

here is where we stayed near Thomas Hardy's birthplace near Dorchester. The place was built by his dad and was very good !

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i took the girls to a garden centre this afternoon. we walked past this shed a kezia pointed at it and said "that's a sad one". so we decided to go in and cheer it up.

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it's been a family day. here are kezia and esther playing piano (sort of):
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then esther ran round with my coat on pretending to be a bat:
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my god-daughter made me a lovely card (with integral envelope):
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esther likes to wear a leotard to do a jigsaw. jane was relegated to the floor.

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today we went to Hampton Court Palace. It's riddled with history. esther and kezia really enjoyed it.

pity it was absolutely freezing and esther forgot her coat ...

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esther guided us to the centre of the famous maze and back out again.

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here is kez and esther next to an oversized cut out of Henry VIII.

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leave people alone with kids toys and they create fantastic things.

here is some fuzzy felt art. i was very impressed. whenever i try and create anything it's usually rubbish (often quite literally)

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the artist:
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kezia has teeth coming through. this causes random misery (for all involved). it also makes her cheeks quite rosey and red

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esther took this photo. i was very impressed. esther (age 4) is better at taking photos than kezia (aged 2) is at driving a car with a steering wheel in Midtown Madness 2. both activities are good fun to watch.

it's even funnier when we play a network game with esther and kezia both trying to drive. esther can just reach the foot pedals on my computer and kezia sits on my knee at jane's computer.

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my mum got esther a game for christmas called Ghostly Galleons and it's most excellent. normal kids games are a bit boring or noisey and run out of batteries.

This game is a bit like snakes and ladders but there's an element of skill as well as luck. and it's quite exciting when you move the pirate and the boat spins round and various player's pieces going flying off in to the 'sea.

esther and her friends love it. and kezia likes spinning the little spinner and putting her person on the top of the mast.

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when you've got the game you then need to learn to speak like a pirate

jane and i have been married 8 years today. and 8 jolly years it's been too.

this year i've been very uncreative, but last year i made this lovely photo (which i framed):

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and this little card:

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here is brother edd in my office. he popped in for an early morning cuppa.

but the machine didn't vend tea and he didn't want to dunk a tea bag (he has standards) so the tea remained unmade and he sat there quietly.

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i really don't know why, but i'd forgotten all about slicing loaves of bread. i guess it shows how much i get involved in the domesticity at home. we often get sliced bread and french sticks and other stuff which doesn't require chopping in the same way.

however, working from home this morning i decided i needed some toast. and there was the loaf ready to cut. however, i'd forgotten about jane (my wife) and my incompatibility in this area.

She cuts at an angle whilst i go for the straight up and down cut. i think it's to do with how she squashes the loaf with her non chopping hand. to 'right each other's wrongs' we have to chop a wedge shape off, to reset the loaf, and then start our own style

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so, once again i am reminded that there are generally two solutions to potential disharmony:

solution by ommission (i go nowhere near the bread (or have my own bread) and therefore don't cause any trouble)

solution by technology (we buy sliced bread)

my mum used to tell my brother and i that mushy over ripe bananas were what you got given in hospital to make you well. they became known as hospital bananas.

it never occured to me that maybe the reason we called them hospital bananas is that they could make you ill and you'd end up in hospital.

whatever, nobody likes the brown gloopy bit of a banana do they ?

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i'm usually pretty useless when i arrive home in an evening. my 1hr 45 minutes commute can often be quite miserable (though it's at least more bearable since i dumped the tube for walking).

the best bit about the commute home is the reaction from esther and kezia when i walk through the door. they are (usually) so excited to see me. it's a real ego boost.

today they were even waiting at the window, waving down the street as i approached the house.

hoorah for jolly kids !

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update: ooops, just in case anyone thought otherwise, hoorah for jolly wives too. especially jane who it goes without saying i'm also very glad to see each evening. it went without saying, so i didn't say it. but now i have.

this is one for all you scottish people who say "wee" rather than "small".

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update: after i posted this kezia did her first 'wee' in the toilet today. it was her idea and we thought we'd just go along with her plan. we thought it was probably just an excuse to extract large quantities of toilet roll and do the flushing.

anyone who's got children will know the implications of this:

good - the end is in sight for nappies

bad - the next few weeks will be quite damp for all involved and going out for day trips will get more tricky.

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we went to the lookout in bracknell today with our friends Ian and Carolyn. it's a forest and used to be a major Roman settlement and is very nice (if you like trees, which we do).

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and here's a view from the top of the viewing tower:
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The viewing tower told us that Paris was 200 miles away, which is nearer than Lands End. It also told us that Australia was 8,800 miles away and the Great Wall of China was 6,400 miles away.

Ultimately it made no difference as the trees had got too high so you couldn't see Paris, let alone China.

one good thing about starting work so early this morning is that i can take a few breaks and enjoy kezia's birthday. she's reached the grand old age of 2.

here is some present opening (kezia is wearing her sleeping attire):
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new sparkly wellies (left) and my (her) little poney and esther
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Continue reading "birthday kez" »

today was jane's granny's thanksgiving service. they have a tradition in her family of holding the funeral on a different day from the thanksgiving which i think works really well.

we met up in a supermarket prior to the service. one of jane's distant relatives asked her "is this your first funeral ?". he then said "oops, that wasn't a very good chat up line was it"

There then followed a moment or two of silence and then he said to himself rather gravely: "death ... the great leveller"

here is a photo of jane's granny taken last summer:
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Continue reading "thanksgiving for jane's granny" »

we visited my grandma's house today. people have different names for different members of their family, and in my experience grandparents often get very strange names.

we call my grandma 'pam' because her first name is Sylvester Ivy.

she cooked us a fantastic meal and was very excited to learn it might appear on the internet:

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Continue reading "Pam's house" »

a great grandma, a granddaughter and a royal mail postbox:
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a great grandma wearing a paper hat drinking tea from a bone china cup:
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it's been a wet and windy day today, so we thought we'd go to our local rainforest. The place itself is quite small, but it's worth a trip.

Here's a rare picture of me and the girls next to a big pond thing:
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here is kezia drinking her ornina (her name for ribena)

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t610.jpg brother edd has lost his mobile phone.

he had it yesterday but hasn't today. can you have a quick look around and see if you can find it ?

It's a Sony T610. he's checked his pockets but it's not there.

Jane and I got married on 17th Feb 1996. I know this because we watched our our wedding video over the weekend with the kids and it had the date stamped on it !

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Continue reading "our wedding" »

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we went out for a family walk this afternoon. after yesterday's walk we decided kezia needed some bigger boots. so we found these.

they are very fancy as they are sparkly and have a high heel. very fancy, but very impractical.
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especially for walking through VERY muddy clay-y recently dug fields.
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cookham is not an instruction. it's a fantastic village on the thames. we went for a long walk there this afternoon in the beautiful sunshine and pouring rain. esther wore her boots for puddle jumping and kezia went in the backpack.

it's a really pretty place so if you are anywhere near it and/or love Stanley Spencer, go there !

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it's the weekend so obviously i present you with the weekly proud father photo of esther and kezia.

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esther came up with her own art concept this afternoon. it's masking tape twisted widely and stuck on to a piece of paper. on to that she dropped multicoloured pencil sharpenings (the big bits) and dusted it with the small pencil shavings. it was her own idea apparently.

it's more of an installation than a picture so we can't move it from the kitchen table (because all the bits will drop off).

since it's a temporary exhibit i've reproduced it large here. i think it's actually quite beautiful.

the next step is probably fly paper art. we'll stick fly paper around the room and throw some random rubbish about, see what sticks and plop it down on to some paper. houston, i think we have a concept.


click to view big version

here are esther and kezia sitting together nicely on a chair. i asked them to smile for the camera. kezia instantly did her mad-mouth-grin thing and esther pouted.

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we also found a crisp that looked like an ear (demonstrated by esther) warning - don't eat ears.

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this afternoon kezia spent quite a while playing outside in the garden. it was cold and she was playing with water. a combination which eventually became too painful so we went back inside and made a few telephone calls.

she's getting very good at talking on the phone which is a worry.

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i started work early this morning so i could take 4 hours out this afternoon to look after the kids. i'll make up the extra couple of hours this evening.

during this time we (brother-in-law kevin, nephew thomas, esther and kezia) went in to reading to fill the time. esther was desperate to use the microscope in the local museum and we seemed to be in there for ages. luckily there was a very helpful lady to explain everything. kezia just slept ...

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here is thomas and kevin:
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here is kezia by our church door. it's been a bonkers morning for weather. one moment gales and sideways very wet rain. the next bright sunshine. this was a sunshine moment. see how baby poo's head and arm glows.

click the one on the right for a big version.

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in a strange work-meets-home scenario, we invited my friend and colleague Herve over for the day. we went to a restaurant where we made everyone do some homework. kezia was ok, but esther had to help herve with his word search

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and here we all are (except me) by the swing park:

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here is kezia's favourite baby. she calls it 'baby poo' as it's always doing poos and needs its bottom wiping (according to kezia).

for a baby it can be a little vicious at times. here it is holding a match and drinking some coke.

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pizza made by esther. we were all so proud.

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we went out for a special family treat to a restaurant this evening to bring an end to the holidays.

here is kezia drinking some coke (or 'coat' as she calls it). the other photo is of esther and me. i'm trying to look as excited as i can, but esther isn't convinced. luckily she's seen me do this expression before and it no longer scares her.

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top tip for UK restaurant fans - if you are going to eat at a beefeater restaurant and you have kids (under 14 i think) you can get 20% off with a free saver card thing they do. but you have to register first. so pop in a few days before and fill in the form. that way you can use the saver-card on your visit (instead of having to wait until the next visit)

we had a great game of dark hide and seek this evening. after our guests had gone, we took it in turns to play hide and seek in the living room. the added fun part was that we turned off all the lights making the room completely dark.

we started off with the finders using a torch (always fun with kids), but then when that got too easy and our eyes got used to the dark we played it completely dark.

esther and kezia (and jane and I) loved it. a highly recommended game for anyone with a dark house (with or without kids)

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(artistic representation of our living room with the lights off - i am hiding under the table by the bean bag)

it's not been easy for jane having her husband at home for nearly two weeks.

looking after a 1 year old and a 4 year old is easy compared to a 31 year old. this truth is revealed in her weary looks.

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brother edd took us to the i took these photos at the milestones museum in basingstoke. it was very good.

here is kezia with her 'sheety'
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they had a christmas grotto there, but because it's after christmas it was santa-less. it was the ideal opportunity to pretend to be him for next year. unfortunately kezia was asleep. but brother edd enjoyed it

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having failed to get to windsor park on monday, we did it today instead. last time we went it was lovely and sunny. today it was very cold.

esther has got the hang of starting and stopping which makes cycling more independent.

when we arrived at windsor park esther said "does this all belong to the queen?"
"yes"
"and can we go in there ?"
"yes, that's why we're here"
"that's very kind of her"
and so it is.

so, if you are reading this and are the Queen of England, then "thankyou" from esther.

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here is kezia and a christmas tree decorated in security tape outside a park ranger's office

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here is my mum and jane in conversation on new year's eve.

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today's been cold (but not wet) so we went for a family bike ride. kezia went in the seat on the back of my bike and esther went on the tag-a-long connected to jane's bike.

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yeah for exercise & fun.

we had high hopes for today. we were going to walk around Windsor Great Park whilst Esther cycled and it was going to be great.

unfortunately it chucked it down with rain instead so we stayed in all morning. here is jane's reaction:

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in the afternoon we braved the drizzle to go to Dinton Pastures, our local nature reserve, where esther was able to cycle through muddy puddles chased by jane.

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kezia and i trundled along after with the pushchair giving a nice rear view of the proceedings

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we went to see some friends today we haven't seen for a number of years. we both have children that the others have never seen and those we did know as little babies are now approaching teenage years.

it was their daughter's birthday and jane told esther it was her 9th birthday party. "oh", said Esther, "but how old is she ?"

here is esther and kezia on a wooden rocking horse. note how kezia is standing on a beeny horse. i'm sure this is signifcant, but don't know why.

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we had a lovely time round some friends house this morning. they have children (two boys) the same age as our girls.

esther and adam loved playing on adam's junior scaletric as the two fathers looked on, quietly itching to have a go themselves.

instead we were assigned roles of mechanics and car-replacers. a demanding job when the cars are driven by two 4 year olds who don't understand about slowing down for corners

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here is kezia in her new coat, and later with an inflatable santa

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kezia (aged 1 and ten 12ths) decided she wanted to decorate her own little tree. whilst we got on doing the main tree she carefully selected and installed a small set of decorations on our cheapy tinsel tree. she was really concentrating and in her own little world. it was really very very sweet !

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here is esther in her new princess dress. the head dangling thing is from a birthday party and was a prize she won in the musical statues competition.
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today we went to see my mum in her 'office'. she works for a company which sells Christmas decorations and they are busy setting up their showroom for Christmas 2004 which kicks off right at the beginning of January 2004 for those in the trade.

It's great going to her showroom - esther and kezia love it. it's decorated floor to ceiling in every type of decoration imaginable (and some not so imaginable).

here is esther helping my mum put out some decorations:
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and here is esther, mum and kezia (kezia has her eye on some cakes to the left of the photo):
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esther's wise words: "this table is as big as a table when it's been made"

jane went riding this morning so i took the girls to henley

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we had a good time, especially in the play park. we also went round the Henley Rowing Museum with jeremy paxman who was there with his kids at the same time as us (it's a small museum and kezia kept running up and pressing buttons on the interactive displays that he was looking at)

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liz asked esther if she could remember the first time she rode her bike without stabilisers.

esther said "yes, because i am very memorable".

here is esther eating her dessert of ice cream, clotted cream and custard:
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summary of the day:

Continue reading "a busy sunday" »

here is more wisdom from Brother Edd:

"i would download the whole world if i could".

makes you think.

another very wet day. church this morning was excellent. the rest of the day was spent eating bacon, sleeping, crafting and playing dominos (traditional style and toppling).

esther and jane went for a very cold very wet walk and i stayed home with kezia who decided to put on a little puppet show for me

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her story was a little confused. it only had three characters - a Wise Man and Mary from the nativity set, and (special guest star) teddy bear from the Three Bears playing the part of Jesus. Or was it Wise Man and Mary playing the part of the other two bears ? All very interesting (and extremely amusing to watch)

lamby has recently turned in to a bit of a dandy. here she is wearing her bandana.

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we were invited out for a meal today after church and the kids band practice. we had a really good time and the food was fantastic ! a nice sunday lunch (chicken variety) followed by a fantastic chocolate pudding. yummerama.

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If you are around 2 years old, there is nothing better than scoffing loads of chocolate, smearing the remains over your face and then running around the room as quickly as you can (accompanied by Casiotone cheese)

jane made £4 at the toy sale today by selling our things. unfortunately I simultaneously and independtly blew it on a video of The Flumps. There's something about repacked TV from childhood years which taps in to people's brains. The fact it was for sale in a charity shop made it even more appealing.

i was esther's age when this program appeared on British TV and I remember watching the World Premier of it. I think they did a feature on it on the live magazine program before it (Pebble Mill i think).

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The amazing thing was that when i watched it through with esther later in the day it was as good as i remembered it !

kezia used to have something she called her 'baby'. It was in fact a little police car. since then she's found a proper dolly to love which is her new baby.

i sold my soul and took the easy option of a lunch in McDonalds in Maidenhead today. kezia had her baby with her and made sure it got some chips:

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she also gave it a drink:
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i looked after the kids this morning as jane was doing commerce at the preschool toy sale. esther decided she wanted to go to Maidenhead and Kezia was happy to go along with the plan.

here are a couple of photos of the day. kezia with her finnish hat on (left) and both the girls spontaneously saluting the camera for no reason (right)

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we saw a steam train whizzing through maidenhead station when we were there. it came and went too fast to a photo unfortunately. but it was good (imagine it)

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afternoon tea and cakes is a very British thing to do. today we were joined by out friend Liz who joined us for a late tiffin.

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here are esther and kezia in reading museum doing some study.

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kezia became very attached to a stuffed badger and she was quite upset when we had to leave.

i'm working from home today. i heard a lot of clonking in the room next to my office so i popped my head round the door and saw this scene of chaos.

esther had been sent under the bed and was extracting everything she could find. jane was happily receiving it, whilst kezia was spreading it around the room. i think they are sorting stuff out for the playgroup toy sale.

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i have retreated back to the safety, quiet and (relative) tidyness of my office

here is kezia 'smiling' i think she's not quite worked out what the words means yet. it was a good expression so i took the photo anyway !

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you'll be glad to know i've kept up my tradition of disrupting church services today ...

Continue reading "smile" »

much excitement as esther managed to cycle her first without stabilisers. hoorah. she's very pleased with herself, and so she should be

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esther and I spent a happy hour video conferencing to each other around the house. esther had the wireless laptop and wandered round the house.

we were just getting bored when her best friend, catherine, logged on at her house, so they video conferenced each other instead.

it was fascinating watching two 4 year olds talk and video to each other over the Internet. It's always funny when 4 year olds have a conversation anyway as they don't do small talk - conversating over the Internet was even more funny.

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today we went with lunch at our lovely friends ian and carolyn's house. good food and lots of good fun.

we went to the local park. here is kezia and ian:
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and here is esther and carolyn:
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the afternoon ended with a disco. (i learnt some tips for next time i have an office disco)
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i supervised esther and kezia in their crafting this morning. they found much fun in attaching bits of cellotape to their faces. after a few minutes they both looked like they were made of wax and were melting.

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it reminded me of the last time i saw such nonsense

here is a drawing by esther of herself, catherine and kezia

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this afternoon we went for a walk in Bradgate Park which is where i learnt to ride my bike when i was little. we took esther's bike so she could keep the family tradition and learn to ride there too. she got on very well.

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kezia can say the word 'pick' and is currently exploring the variety of sounds you can extract from a guitar. she's gone for the sitar playing style, which adds a nice ethnic feel to her playing. she's also chosen a non-standard tuning so her chords sound more interesting.

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jane, esther and kezia got stuck in a lift in whsmiths in reading today. do you see the strange coincidence here:

* whsmith is a stationary store so it's no surprise the lift didn't move
* whsmith sells books which are good for reading. and our local town is called reading.

it's amazing they even got permission to install a lift with the odds so stacked against them.

the girls were stuck in the lift on their own for around 10 minutes during which time they could communicate by shouting to people in the rest of the shop. it was a power cut apparently which resets the lift, which is a nice idea.

the girls were rewarded for their good behaviour by the shop keepers by the traditional rewards of coke, crisps and chocolate (the three C's). i bet blaine-in-a-box will get the same reward when he is released.

here are all the pairs of shoes jane bought for kezia and esther today.

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here is something over 24 hours old now. i came home yesterday to find much cookery going on in the house. there was a fine culinary smell coming from culinary areas. kezia was wearing her bestest apron and generally "eating" everything.

pity i'm on my special diet this fortnight, else i could have eaten the 'sandies' that they made (no i don't know what sandies are either).

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and just for you non-vegetarians out there, here is what we had for tea this evening. a massive blob of sanity enhancing british beef.

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here are esther and kezia playing golf. they were both really good and kezia was especially funny with her little golf club.

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here we are by some giant (but actually not that giant) redwoods.

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here is kezia showing how you can sit in your high chair if you are clever.

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yesterday it rained. but this was fine as we were prepared

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kezia dissapeared for a few minutes today. turned out she had found some mud to play with at the end of our friend's garden. here she is covered from head to toe in mud, not looking too pleased with herself. she's definately had a bad hair day.

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here is esther and jacob. jacob is deconstructing a small house whilst bouncing on a trampoline. it's like a TV version of changing rooms and it's a knockout all in one go.

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then they decided to fish whilst bouncing. jacob caught esther's shoe

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esther announced she had hidden some beetroot in the house. alice and jacob love beetroot.

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kezzy loves hats. even if they are a bit too small. she insisted on wearing her hat today despite it being really warm
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i've just heard that esther had an exciting morning at preschool today. she wanted to do some art and 'needed some hair for her picture' so she hacked a bit of her own off.

very enterprising. and at least she didn't chop anyone else's hair off (as far as i know).

i don't know if we should tell her off or not. depends if the picture is any good.

pictorial evidence later i hope ...

here is jane's granny:

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we went to visit her this morning (she's esther and kezia's great granny). she's 92 i think, but mentally totally alert. fantastic !

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esther has been having a few horse lessons recently. a friend of ours asked how she got on. i replied with the obvious answer.

esther and kezia enjoying an icecream at Pooch and Party's (Jane's parents). They have luxury icecream. We only have necessity icecream in our house so it was a real treat.

Just to be authentic we had to queue up and we were handed our icecreams through the kitchen window. there were no flakes and i kicked up a stink.

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we have borrowed a load of wooden train set from esther's preschool for the summer. i spent a happy hour on saturday night constructing a most excellent track. i was delighted to see that jane hadn't packed it away over night. so was kezia !
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we went for a walk in windsor park today. very good it was too.

here is king george VI on a bike horse:
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here is esther with windsor castle in the background:
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i have a theory about conservation of fun and inflatable things.

premis: every act of fun has an equal and opposite amount of misery.

think about balloons: kids love them, then they pop or get stuck in a tree (the balloons not the kids - have you ever seen a kid pop ? kids drink pop of course)

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also applies to bouncy castles. there are always crying kids around bouncy castles, either from bashing in to people or from being told its time to come off.

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have you seen the muffin man that lives on dury lane ? here is a shop which sells muffins and is based in dury lane.
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it's very hot again today. Heathrow which is just a few miles away broke the 100F mark - a UK first.

we had a BBQ with Phil, Sally, Alan and Ann. I managed to get the cooking right this time

kezia stayed cool in her hat, sunglasses and obligatory water bottle
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later she realised it was better if she sat in the pool and people poored water on her from a watering can:

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esther and kezia played with their Brio Canal set this afternoon. Lots of water everywhere and much pumping of the lock pumps. there is lots of energy in kids and we should work out a way to harness it. i'm sure we could power our house from them both.
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esther was in a foul mood as she had slightly grazed her foot in a non-dramtic skooter incident.

i proposed she put her feet in a bucket of water. this proved to be no end of fun and she soon cheered up.

therefore, my advice to you is this:
if you are feeling blue, put your feet in a bucket of water.

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esther made her own dunce cap
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another afternoon working from home. not sure if I'd want to work from home all the time. got lots done today because the house is empty, but it does mean you go a bit mad.

the silence was broken by an ice-cream van driving by. It was playing a souped up version of Popeye The Sailor Man and looked very modern. I was too slow with my recording device to catch the tune for you.
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I once heard of a girl who's parents told her that when an Ice Cream van played its tune it meant that it had run out of lollies and ice creams.

a fantastic parent lie. i think it's a fair response.

Continue reading "icecream van" »

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esther and elton balance cats on their heads
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according to esther, a jawn and cough sounds like a woova.

just been discussing our TV aerial with esther.

esther: what's that bird stick on the roof for daddy
me: it's the TV aerial, not a bird stick
esther: what's it for ?
me: it helps you see the TV better
esther: do you have to sit up there to watch it
me: no.

here is an old photo of kezia (she was around 12 months old i think). It's not been on the blog before, so here it is.
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i'm working from home today and as usual i started at 6.30am sitting wifi-ly in our front room. at 8am the kids came down and wanted to watch CBeebies. Whilst relocating upstairs I caught a little bit of the Fimbles, which is very strange stuff.

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Continue reading "little red riding hoodwinked" »

esther and chums had been making balloon people which involves sticking stickers of body bits (eyes, ears, hands etc) on to a balloon.

unfortunately one popped over night. there were body bits all over the carpet and a mushed up mess of face in a little pile of balloon.

sometimes it's like having Quentin Tarrantineeeno as a cleaning lady.

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yeah. esther is 4 today.

the normal routine is for esther to only get out of bed if it's after 7am (and even then she has to check it's ok with us first). Unfortunately for her, her clock stopped at 5 minutes to 7 - so she didn't get up until we went to see her at 7.30am ! poor bean.

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we went to a party yesterday. i was carrying kezia and she shouted for joy when she saw a giant (to her) bouncy castle. i put her down and she ran to it. instead of jumping on, she threw herself on to the pile of shoes left in front of it and, with much squeels of delight, started playing with them instead.

she loves shoes does our kezia.

whilst stuck on a train today (usual journey time 5 mins, today 30 mins) esther and i did some spelling practice.

i saw a sign saying 'litter' by a bin. i went through the word phonetically -

"li spells 'li'
double tt is 't'
er is like at the end of esther, so is 'er'

li - tt - er , li-tt-er. what does that spell ?"

"it spells bin" said esther.

"don't be a fool" i said. "it spells 'litter'".

"what's litter daddy" said esther.

and therein lies the problem. kids today read everywhere "do not drop litter" yet they don't even know what litter is.

i mended our summer house this evening. Nothing too tricky (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it) - it was just replacing the decking at the front.

To get the old decking out I had to chisel out some old bits of wood. Esther asked me what the tool which looked like a screwdriver was. I told her it was called a chisel.

"Why do you call it a twissel ?" she replied

"I don't" i said.

but a "hammer and twissel" has a nice right to it. prancing carpenters. that's the future (perhaps I should commission a series on this for daytime TV)

here's what it looks like now (the decking on the front step is the bit you have to be impressed by!)
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esther managed to cycle 4.5 miles round windsor park lake today. whilst tethered to a bundy and skipping rope, she did pedal most of the way herself.
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my camera ran out of batteries so unfortunately i couldn't take any pictures of the fantastic scenary which was looking really good today.

kids still work down the pit. nowadays it's the sand pit
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preparing nails:
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walking down street:
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i was against electro therapy initially. but now i see the results and i'm very impressed

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we went to the Reading Childrens' Fun Day today.

Self portrait on the Greyfriars Church stand. Esther obviously
thinks of herself as a spider
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a couple of hours later with tiger face paint and a balloon flower
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this is a story about a fairy who didn't have anything except some furniture and one guitar.

one day a cat went upstairs and chewed the cheek of her favourite toy.

(that's as much as we have from her at the moment).

It's always good to see things from a different angle.
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here's kez and miriam from the side

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leebeebee is esther's name for the writing that she did below:

Continue reading "esthers latest words" »


photo by dave

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photo by dave

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photo by dave

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photo by dave

esther had a really cool idea for a kids story today. so cool that i can't even put it in to the blog for fear of poachers ! I'll keep you posted ...

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photo by dave

Taken with her own low-res digicam:
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photo by esther

Taken with dad's Sony Cybershot:
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photo by esther

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photo by esther

kezia walked three steps today. she was very excited about it.

she sort of walked one step yesterday. but one step is a fall. three steps is real walking. in my opinion. in brother edd's opinion, three steps is a 'jaunty strole'

and we saw the gooddys at spring harvest on the electrical television set. songs of praise was from spring harvest.

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photo by dave

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photo by dave

after a game of Midtown Madness 2, esther decided she wanted to do some typing. she chose the colour and the words. i said the letters. she typed them all in herself:

Esther
Mousey
Potato
Body
Poo
Bottom
Hair
Head
Nose
Ear
Eyes
Top

you have to worry how their minds work

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photo by dave

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07 Apr 13