This has been one of those newsletters that seemed like it would never get written. Time has mostly disappeared from my life, with my job turning into a turmoil and this being 'the year of everything breaking'. Right now our basement turns into a river whenever Agilene washes the clothes.
The first thing that happened was that, while we were on vacation in Maine, it came to light that my boss was going to do everything possible not to pay me the almost 3 weeks of vacation I had accrued so we landed up being on vacation and jobless which is always fun. In spite of the stress, it was a long time coming and I felt better now that it was eventually over. I tried getting my money back through a lawyer but that was another bad experience and I soon decided to take what I could get and get on with my life.
The kids loved Maine, although it would have been better if it hadn't rained more days than not. We took all the kids whale watching and I went kayaking with Yuri and took Iago on a glider trip. Agilene got to go for lobster (all my family loves sea food except for me) but the experience wasn't worth what it cost us. To start off 'the year of things breaking' the 'Turtle's' starter motor got worse and worse everyday until, finally one Friday, it broke down almost completely and we were stuck with a broken car and nowhere to take it; another of those great things to have happen on your vacation.
Since then I have been doing some work for a start-up based in Los Angeles, which in typical start-up fashion, means that some months are quiet and other months there is too much for two people to do (right now it seems to be the latter). Some of the work is with want-to-be actors, who are completely different to the engineering types I normally deal with. It’s a lot of fun but it has taken a lot of adjustment to live on the start-up salary I get, also, like almost all start-ups, I can't talk about what we're doing apart from using the same vague words everyone uses: 'multi-media', 'game', 'social-networking'.
I've also been doing some freelance work to fill in the gaps: a little bit of mentoring, some web site security analysis and cleanup and even a mash-up creating image overlays for Google maps. This will be the first time I've written a program that will take a 100 days to complete and, hopefully, only be used once. The economy hasn’t helped workwise, nor has the rising price of, well, everything, so I am busy looking for some other work I can do on the side to pay the bills.
Health wise I am continuing my tradition of discovering some new problem each year. This year I found out that I have tachycardia (my heart sometimes beats too fast). As usual the doctors have no idea where it comes from, nor can they do much about it, but they assure me that, like everything else I get, it isn't life threatening. I can't say this is very reassuring when you can feel your heart bouncing around your ribcage every now and then. My eyesight is also struggling along and gradually getting to the point where my specialist would like to do surgery, but he'll have to wait until we have health insurance again.
This year we sent Yuri back to school. He is much happier than when he was being home schooled as he really thrives on having other children around. However, instead of being less work for Agilene she is now home-schooling Keesha. Keesha is a very obstinate student and, as soon as something smells like she is actually learning, she becomes impossible. Iago is doing well, he is in 1st grade now and already half way through 2nd grade maths, but we are going to let them all go to school next year. They have been asking all the time to go to 'real' school like Yuri, though I think that Keesha is more interested in just getting on the 'yellow bus' and doesn't realise what she is getting herself into.
The kids signed up to play baseball in the fall: definitely an initiation into the American cultural experience what with the kids dressed up in funny looking uniforms, learning the strange batting and pitching postures and chewing the obligatory gum (they started the season with a whole bucketful). Yuri had a tough season and their final game went on until 10 at night before they finally managed to beat the competition and win the tournament.
Currently they are finishing off the spring soccer season and Agilene also signed them up for Royal Rangers (the church’s version of Boy Scouts) which they are thrilled about. Yuri just asked if he could have a knife for Rangers (sigh).
The kids growing vocab never ceases to amuse. The boys current favourite word is 'Suu-Weet', while Keesha prefers the obstinate 'I said "N. O." '. They are growing up quickly, too quickly. Keesha has already had her first kiss from the neighbour’s son who is two years younger than her. She now tells us that she will be a princess because she is going to marry him and he is a prince. Remember, you heard it here first.
Yuri is quickly becoming more responsible and growing fast, he is already up to Agilene’s shoulder. He still loves to be the centre of attention and takes over the show whenever there is a presentation at church. Here is yet another good example of what happens when you put Yuri in front of a mike (This happened when I needed sample audio for one of my projects).
Iago is more the clown than ever, and wants to turn everything, and I mean everything, into a silly joke. Despite appearing not to be, he is often more extrovert than Yuri, and it seems like being the class clown will be his chosen role for life. He has lost half of his front teeth and has a big toothy grin that helps, except when he chooses to be a pirate instead.
Agilene is still working as an interpreter but she feels like she is driving too much and so she is also looking for something else she can do. It should be a lot easier to find something once the kids are at school. She will need something to do anyway otherwise, no doubt, she will feel very lonely in a house that is empty all day. (I was going to insert some joke about anything being better than her turning to shopping to alleviate the boredom but I just know I would get into too much trouble). Agilene is also trying to convince me to have another girl, however I am so burnt out right now that she is either going to have to try much harder or she is going to have to trick me; she also can't guarantee me that it would be a girl.
For Thanksgiving, I innocently drove us to visit Agilene's sister in Oklahoma. It turned out that their cat had kittens and they were 'free'. Free soon turned into 'why don't we take two'. I consider myself lucky that we left with just one kitten!
We spent Christmas in Nevada. I had arranged to hire the most expensive baby sitters in the world for our wedding anniversary: my parents came to join us for Christmas. Agilene and I spent the night at the Venetian hotel. They gave us a free upgrade to a suite that happened to be bigger than our whole house. We could have fitted both of the kids’ bedrooms inside just one of the three bathrooms.
Las Vegas was quite an eye opener... one of our friends described it as 'sin city'. Although it was great to see, I don't know whether we would go back. The city is full of sensuality with video screens lining the 'drag' and people handing out photos of naked women and offering prostitutes on the streets. We stayed with all the safe things: the kids enjoyed the aquariums, roller coaster and the volcano was a real hit. I had to convince everyone to go and see the Blue Man Group, which they all loved once I had dragged them there. As for me, I preferred the scenic sights like Death Valley and Red Rock state park.
We ended the vacation with a few days at the Grand Canyon. This is the second time that I have been there and it was no less spectacular this time around but it was a little chilly to really hang around and enjoy it. I was also feeling under the weather so hiking was out of the question.
At the moment we are just pushing through the last few weeks of the school year, and Agilene and I are both ready for a break. She is taking the kids to see her family in Brazil in June. It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since she was last there; most of her family haven’t even seen Iago or Keesha. I’m allowed to go along too, but only if I take work along as I still need to pay for all the airline tickets. We had thought it would be easy to get broadband internet service in Brazil, but it turns out that most 'broadband' plans there offer bandwidth that is closer to a dial-up connection here and, since I am doing a lot of multimedia work, I really needed something better. Fortunately, some friends at the mission I worked at when I was there (Project Amazon) offered to let me use theirs.
Everyone tells me that I should be glad I have to much to do with the current economy, but right now I am hoping that things will settle down some and I will have a bit more time to enjoy life, spend with the kids, catch up on the things I want to do, and maybe even get the next newsletter out just a little bit sooner…
Lots of love from us all
Marc, Agilene, Yuri, Iago, Keesha and the Green Turtle.
PS: Our phone number has changed; you can reach us at +1 (614) 762-1072, we’re waiting for your call, really.
PPS: You can see more photos here.