Beta’s Karate Promotion

Beta with belt, excited by promotion
Beta forgets that belts go around the waist, not head

Beta child has hit her first big karate milestone: graduating from a white belt to orange.

Not much story for this one, just some photos that I snuck in when I wasn’t too busy watching.

The newly-promoted students demonstrated their kata – the forms that they learn in class.  The higher-level students (quite a few adults, older than me) looked choreographed in their moves – exact and synchronized.

I stayed for the entire ceremony, simply thinking that it would be polite, and found the higher-degree demonstrations to be fascinating.  The nunchacku was especially cool – Beta thought so too.

Beta child after promotion
Beta lined up with the other recently-promoted kids from her class, and very obviously excited

deCordova Museum

The kids are on April break, I took the week off to be with them, and Meghan is at work.  It’s a great time to do something out of the ordinary, especially since it’s a bright sunny day.

I know – something educational!  Something cultural!  Art!

I brought my little heathens to the deCordova Museum‘s sculpture park.  (The main museum is closed while they prepare for the summer exhibits.)  It’s a huge outdoor exhibit, so they can run around and get some fresh air while taking in some mind-broadening experiences.

When I take the girls to art museums I coax them to pose like the artistic subjects (when possible – modern art gets a little hard).  It makes them focus on the art at hand as well as learn to use their bodies, but best of all they think it’s fun.

Kids posing with sculpture
Alpha and Beta posing with some modern art

This was our first time there, but I think we’re going to get a membership now.  I had to drag the kids away and bribe them with lunch at a restaurant.

Old Sturbridge (April 2014)

It’s been a beautiful spring weekend after a stormy March.  A trip to Old Sturbridge Village is in order.  Its the last day we can bring Butter the dog until autumn.

The Quinebaug River is pretty full after all the storms:

Quinebaug River Dam
The water was a full foot higher than the top of the dam
Megh and the kids playing pooh sticks on the Quinebaug River
Megh and the kids playing pooh sticks on the Quinebaug River

Some of the fields are flooding too.  Fortunately the flooded parts aren’t regular exhibits.

Flooded OSV fields
Flooded fields (plus you can see the moon)

Of course, we’re expecting another inch of rain tomorrow night, so this might be even more flooding in a couple of days.  Sadly we won’t be around to enjoy the carnage.

We went with our friends Sam and Joanne, and their son.  The kids tire each other out quite effectively.  I didn’t get a photo of them playing in the dirt.

Beta works the pottery churn
Beta channels Conan the Barbarian while working the pottery churn

While there, we accidentally ran into our friends Pat and Kelly.  We haven’t seen them since before we moved, so we skipped lunch and caught up instead.  Afterwards, when we finally got food, the kids were clearly hungrier than we were but they hadn’t complained while the Pothiers were around – too much fun to notice little things like your stomach gnawing on your backbone.

Alpha and Alpha-Pothier played like it hadn’t been five minutes since the last time they saw each other – they’ve known each other pretty much since birth.

The Pothiers
The Pothiers and their Pothiettes (plus some random kids that happened to be there)

We did get the children to sit still for a couple of seconds to take a group photo.  This is the only ‘straight’ photo, the dozen or so others have various rabbit ears and everyone cutting up.

Joneslings, Pothiettes, and Gaileys
Joneslings, Pothiettes, and Gaileys

 

Visiting the USS Albacore

My earlier plan to hide under the bed not-withstanding, we decided to head out into the weather to do something fun today. What to do?

We could have gone to the Science Museum, or the Aquarium. We could have gone to see the Constitution and the Bunker Hill Memorial (on Breed’s Hill, but who’s keeping track). Nope. We have several submariners in the family, and there is a submarine open to the public in New Hampshire. Here we come, USS Albacore! wpid-DSC_0206.jpg

The guys running the museum are fantastic. They clearly like well-behaved kids. The girls were told they could touch everything, get into the bunks, and drive the boat (who, apparently will veer towards dives).

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And touch and drive and try out the bunks they did!wpid-DSC_0202.jpgwpid-DSC_0194.jpg

According to both Dad and the girls, this is a much better submarine to visit than the USS Nautilus. The guys working the museum agreed. “We don’t talk about that other boat down in Groton. We clearly have the better boat.” We happily spent well over half an hour poking around, trying out bunks, and getting into mischief in the galley. It was just a fantastic day over all.

And we accidentally visited Kittery, Maine. Not many places you can say you accidentally visited a state just by taking the wrong bridge…

AGSS Albacore

When the weather outside is rotten, the logical thing to do is find some indoor activities.  Today was such a day so we went to visit AGSS Albacore, an experimental research submarine, in Portsmouth, NH.

Alpha child in a bunk
This is one of the more spacious bunks. Some were in dark corners with equipment dangling over the bunk – close enough that if you rolled over you would knock it with your shoulder or hip.

The main museum is the submarine, with a nearly-full-access self-guided audio tour.  By full-access I mean lying in the bunks, playing with the dive-plane controls, flipping switches, and turning dials.  The engine room is completely open (visually, if not physically, since some of the more dangerous bits have barriers).

Crew's mess; Alpha child fixing her shoe
The crew’s mess doubles as a recreation area. Backgammon and checkers; I don’t think anyone had time to play chess (not a reflection on submariners – I’ve known a few that could beat me handily at chess)

It was cool because it gave an idea of how the crew lived.  Tight quarters everywhere and no wasted space.  Fifty guys shared a couple of toilets; I can’t imagine the smell.

Itty-bitty toilet
Why did they tile the floor?

The submarine itself was an experiment and was refit several times over its lifetime with enhancements like new propulsion, including an uncommon twin screw design.

Twin screws
I read up on submarine design before the trip. Twin counter-rotating screws like this are unusual, but several Soviet-Russian submarines sported them as well. This is one of the only examples in the American fleet.

The experience is much better than touring the USS Nautilus.  The Nautilus is ok if you’ve never seen the inside of a submarine, but everything is off-limits so the tour takes five minutes (or less if you have small children).  The guys in the museum office “don’t talk about the Nautilus” and felt quite a bit of pride in the openness of the Albacore vs. the Nautilus.  We were in there for nearly three-quarters of an hour, and another half hour in the museum shop (including a video of how the got the submarine to it’s present location).

Cash

Quinn: “Did you take out cash when you deposited that check?”
Megh: “Yeah, I wanted some in case you asked if I had any cash.”
Quinn: “I ask you if you have cash so I can buy something off-the-books, which I shouldn’t do.”
Megh: “I get cash so I can buy things off-the-books, too.”

 

Hiking @ HP

Meghan, Alpha, and I have started hiking the Harold Parker State Forest today.  It’s pretty big, it should tide us over for the spring.

Our first leg was beautiful.

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Apparently there are beaver in that pond:

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This tree has seen a little more beaver-love:

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The trails in the HP connect with a ring of trails around metro Boston, the Bay Circuit.  It’s 200 miles from end to end, so we’ll be hiking it for a few years to come.

Its a nice replacement for our old hiking project, along the Hop River Trail.  The four of us hiked from Willimantic to Manchester over the course of a year, the Bay Circuit should take a bit longer.

Sledding at OSV

Alpha, Beta, and I went to Old Sturbridge Village this past weekend to see their Antique Sleigh Rally. Alpha is obsessed with horses so it seemed like a home run in the Dad of the Year game.

Alas, Alpha bored of it in under ten minutes. Even Beta was still having fun when she announced that she wanted to do something else. Wow.

At Beta’s request we made a beeline to the Freeman Farm so we could commune with the sheep and chickens. And there, behind the cooper’s shed, we found my redemption: sledding.

Sledding at OSV
Sledding at OSV

We lived a little on the wild side: both girls tried sledding while standing (pictured) as well as other orientations (backwards, in the lotus position, etc). Alpha was quite proud of herself after her first run while standing, and I was equally proud of her. Don’t tell OSV we did it, though – with no one policing the hill it was much more natural and fun.