While the cat’s away, the mice make beer!

“In beer there is strength.  In wine is wisdom.  In water is bacteria.” ~Wayne Lutz

Hello Chroniclers!

Happy Sunday to y’all!

So the first post catching up on the back log is simply the first one on my mind…

As we are sitting here watching The Walking Dead (a recent addiction that has also played into our ability to put out posts in a timely manner), I am sipping on the fruits of my latest hobby, beer!

My cousin is the one I blame for this. He shared with some mead he had made. It was great! I loved it. Anyways, we got to talking about how he made it. And it got me to thinking… Maybe I could do it…

So I started small… an easy one, a cloudy hard apple cider. I bought some local apple juice and went to town.

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It turned out to be a great success! I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted.

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Then I started getting cocky… I wanted to make a beer. Instead of starting simple with a starter kit, I went straight to all-grain brewing. I started off with a clone of one of my favorite beers, Hog’s Back TEA – a traditional English ale.

The first one I made turned out ok. I mean, it tasted pretty much like the beer I was cloning, but it was cloudy. I made my mistakes, and I learned some lessons (like it so much easier to filter hops out of the beer if you put the screen in before you start boiling). It was a bit discouraging…

I mentioned that Libby was gone a long time, right? That meant a second attempt! As Les Claypool says, ‘Lack of persistence is surely a sin.’

This time, I made a clone of an American ale, Arrogant Bastard.

My cousin got me a brand new, shiny fermentation vessel and it worked great! This one turned out nice and clear, and tastes great. That’s the one that I’m enjoying now!

So all of this to say 2 things we learned in this experience:

1)      Libby really shouldn’t leave me unsupervised. No telling what I would get up to…

2)      If the zombie apocalypse started tomorrow, at least I could make my own beer!

Hope you’re well!

Derek, Libby, and Duke

A Break From Radio Silence

Hello Chroniclers!

We’ve returned from the far side of the moon! At least, that’s what it feels like.

I know it’s been a while… I blame the holidays… and good friends… and beer. All of these, I will come to explain over the next few posts. It’s going to take few posts to catch up. Apologies in advance, because I likely won’t stick to chronological order.

So first off, I’ve been tired… we’ve both been tired. Work has been incredibly busy since October. A new basis of design has caused us to go through a major overhaul. Overtime has been standard practice since then. Right now, I’m less than 8 weeks away from a major milestone in my project that we have to meet, and I’m making plans to spend a lot of time, like ‘get to know the front desk staff at the hotel’ time, in a town that has almost nothing worth noting about it. That’s the life of working on a project, though.

The unfortunate thing about extra work is that it places additional strain on your loved ones. Making dinner by yourself with a toddler is a lot harder than making dinner while daddy plays with Duke. Libby has been wonderful throughout the whole experience.

Secondly, there was an extended period of weeks where Libby and Duke were in Texas, and I was in England, so life was a little disjointed to say the least.

Anyways, no more excuses… let the posts continue!

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Derek, Libby, and Duke

 

Go Sports Team!

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Hello Chroniclers!

It’s officially fall, one of our favorite times of year! Not for Halloween or for the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. No! It’s baseball time! It’s time when the baseball playoffs begin, and both our teams made the playoffs this year.

Unfortunately, both of our teams lost in the first round, and we’re just now getting over the shock of it. We thought we would take this opportunity to share about what watching sports is like over here in the UK.

Libby and I both love baseball, but baseball is not the only sport we love. Back in the states, we would watch football (American football, that is…), baseball… heck, I’d even make Libby watch basketball every once in a while. The thing is, we grew up watching sports. Libby can tell you who played second base for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2006 World Series (the 2011 World Series is not something we discuss in this household). Within minutes of meeting her father, you would always know: a) he was a baseball fan, and b) that the National League was the better league. I can remember going to our church for the Super Bowl, moving the altar aside, and setting up a big screen TV so we can watch the Dallas Cowboys win. Libby played sports in high school. I played varsity in several sports, even playing in university. The point is, sports and watching sports has always been a huge part of our day to day lives.

It wasn’t intuitive to us when we moved here, but moving to England and the six hour time difference associated with it brings some unique challenges to being a sports fan. The first thing you should know is that we can never watch a night game live… ever. If a game starts at 7:00 in the evening, that means it’s starting a 1:00am for us. That means we‘re constantly watching the game the next day. I pray for an afternoon game.

A game is nowhere near as exciting if you know the score ahead of time. It takes the anticipation of the swing of the bat or the breath before the ball caroms off the rim or finds the bottom of the net. To preserve these moments, we go to some lengths to make sure that the surprise isn’t ruined. We avoid Facebook. In fact, we avoid all internet, because you never know what might spoil the game. You have no idea how hard it is to avoid all internet. For example, I was in the midst of starting up the recording of the Rugby World Cup finals I had taped a few hours earlier when I received the news alert from my CNN app showing the final score. All joy… gone. Not only do you have to avoid technology, but we find we have to preface all of our conversations with “Before you start talking, I don’t know the score of the game.” In an increasingly connected world, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to impose an artificial delay in information.

In addition to the time difference, the next set of problems we face are technological. Sometimes you have easy problems, like one of the local cable providers is showing the game and the game is blacked out for 24 hours. Once again, you’re having to wait the next day, sometimes two days. Sometimes, games are only shown in the US, and you have to find a way around. We have experience with remote TV streaming. Libby has learned a lot about VPNs and ghosting of IP addresses. We have learned all about wireless extenders and routers. We can give lessons on casting, be it with AppleTV or Chromecast or even Roku. We have cursed slow internet speeds and the dreaded buffering it brings. When they began to roll out fibre internet to the villages around us and they announced it was coming to ours, it was like Christmas. We were constantly asking each other, “Is it here yet? Is it here yet?” With as much fun as we have had, in addition to her schooling in Interior Design, Libby has set herself up for a career in IT.

The thing is, we love sports. It’s a huge part of our lives, and despite the challenges presented with living half a world away, we’re still able to hold on to that little part of home, even if it means staying up to 1:00 in the morning to watch your team play.IMG_0482

Go Sports Team!

Derek, Libby, and Duke

On the road again…

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Hello Chroniclers!

When I was in university, I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I worked hard for it. I love it. It’s a rewarding career that’s allowed me to fulfill so many of my dreams. But when I was in school, I had this idea that I would work in a cubicle from 9 to 5 and work on my calculations all day long. Man, I was way wrong!

For as long as I can remember, business travel has been part of my work experience. Before I had even finished school, I was traveling with work. My first year out of university, I spent over 200 nights in a hotel room. I am an engineer. I travel.

It was always the same. You travel to the hotel the night before, usually to a city you had to look on up on map because you had never heard of it before. You eat dinner at the nearest available restaurant that didn’t scare you. I once ate breakfast alternating between International House of Pancakes and Waffle House for 6 weeks, because those were the only places that served breakfast nearby. The next morning, you wake up and work extended hours, followed by another dinner, usually by yourself. Rinse. Repeat. The long hours and many miles wear you down, and it can take many days to recover from a long trip. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would ever classify it as glamourous.

It can color your personal life and those around you in unexpected ways, as well. The first time I ever spoke with Libby, I was in the control room of an offshore oil platform, in the midst of a two week trip. I was one of the lucky ones who access to a private phone without having to wait in line. I would look forward for hours to speak with her at night. Even our first date was influenced by travel. We had set up a date night for later in the week, but I came home from my trip early and Libby unexpectedly had a free Saturday night, so we decided to meet up. It actually worked out great, since we didn’t have enough time to get nervous, just excited. I took a 5-hour energy shot and drove the hour down to meet up with her at a local wine bar. We had such a good time, sitting and talking… it was all so natural. Everything was wonderful, right up until that 4.5 hour mark. Turns out working 12 hours or more for weeks on end can really catch up to you. It was like hitting a brick wall.

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Now, travelling comes with a different opportunity cost. As I write this, I have just come home yesterday from a night away, and I arrived just after Duke went to bed. That meant that for the second night in a row, I missed seeing him. I was gutted. It’s something that every parent goes through, knowing every night away is a night missed with your family.

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It also puts more pressure on Libby, because, for the time I’m away, she takes of George by herself. I take care of Duke by myself from time to time, and let me tell you, it’s exhausting! Having an extra set of hands to help makes a world of difference, not to mention to help you unwind at night.

Still, it is what is. We all have jobs that affect our personal lives. In many ways, our jobs are a significant portion of our definition of self. My job takes me wherever the project is located. Travel will always be a part of my life.

I am an engineer. I travel. We persist.

Derek, Libby, and Duke

I know it’s been a while since our last post. A significant portion of why that has been the case has been because I’ve been travelling on business quite a lot lately, amongst other reasons, and it’s been tiring. We try to post recaps of fun things we have been up to lately. We just wanted to share some of the other experiences that we have as well, because they aren’t as obvious. Still, the happy posts will return next time! To tide you over, here’s the obligatory photo of Duke!

Watching TV with momma!

Watching TV with momma!

The Parents invade England!

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Hello Chroniclers!

Last time, we mentioned that we’ve been occupied over the past couple of months. Well, a big reason for it was we were having a ton of fun with the grandparents!

We were very lucky when Duke was born that his Memaw (Libby’s mom) was able to come over last year. Unfortunately for her, we had to press her into service into Dad’s Army while Libby was in and out of the hospital.

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This time, we were determined to make her trip a lot more relaxing and let her be a tourist. We didn’t let her stop! Over the course of her time here, we took her to Stonehenge.

Memaw and the pile of rocks!

Memaw and the pile of rocks!

I took her to one of the local breweries, my personal favorite, Hog’s Back Brewery.

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If the picture’s fuzzy, it’s the camera’s fault and definitely not a result of the fine British ale…

Libby took her into London to see all the sights. They toured Westminster Abbey. They spent the day at Tower of London.

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The highlight of the trip had to be the trip to Harry Potter Studios. In case you don’t know, Jan is a total Potterhead! Every time she would pass by some place in London, she’d point out “That was in Harry Potter!” It was so cool to see her so excited.

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The entire time we’ve been over here, we’ve been trying to get Derek’s dad to come visit. He finally did! He came over to spend time with us, and we were so happy to have him. First thing we did was make him earn his room and board!

"You missed a spot!"

“You missed a spot!”

Just kidding! For the record, we did not ask him to do this… we definitely didn’t turn it down. We’re not crazy… but no threats were made.

We made sure he had a good time. He went to Hampton Court, Henry VIII’s palace. He got to see our little village. He got to see the city where I work. Neat things… things that are a part of our daily lives (well, not Hampton Court)… but we wanted to make sure he got to see things that on his wish list and some things he might not have even known about! First, the thing he wanted to see most was Stonehenge. So we made it happen!

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From there, we went to Salisbury Cathedral!

G-Pa at Salisbury Cathedral

G-Pa at Salisbury Cathedral

We got to see one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. This year, they are celebrating the anniversary of the signing of one of the most historically important documents. The US Constitution was not an attempt to write laws guaranteeing new freedoms, but to preserve liberties and rights that they believed were established in Magna Carta. Much of the Bill of Rights was a direct correlation from Magna Carta. It is a really cool thing to see in person.

Dad wasn’t done yet! We shipped Dad went off to Edinburgh. Dad and I went off to experience the land of our forefathers. We tried to give him the full Scottish experience. First thing, Dad had to experience the local cuisine, haggis!

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Afterwards, I let him know what haggis was.

Then we let Dad experience the local beverages. I took him to Malt Disney… I mean the Whisky Experience. Me and dad tried several whiskies, and I showed him my happy place.

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Dad also experienced the local culture. I took him on a couple of ghost tours of the haunted Kirk yard and Covenanter’s Prison. Once I heard a high pitched scream from his direction… must have been a banshee… it’s the only logical explanation.

I also took him to Edinburgh Castle. I mean you pretty much have to…

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He was a great sport. I walked him up and down the Royal Mile. He complained afterwards that he wasn’t quite sure how it happened, but he was pretty certain he walked up hill both ways!

It was great for both grandparents to come and experience some of the local culture, but let’s not kid ourselves. The real reason they both came was to spend time with Duke.

It was so nice for them to spend quality time with him, and for me that was the highlight of their trips.


So we’re nearly caught up! Next time, we’ll share about business travel and what the experience is like for us.

Hope you’re doing well!

Derek, Libby, and Duke

Daddy Day Care!

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Hello Chroniclers!

A lot has happened since the last time we talked, and we’ve been very busy! Today is the first time Libby and I have been by ourselves in over two months. Sorry it’s taken a while, but we’re back in the game!

First off, we just returned from an impromptu, definitely last-minute trip back home to Texas. We trust a lot of things to British medicine, but dentistry is not one of them.

I'm sure this is real...

I’m sure this is real…

Ironically, since Libby takes immaculate care of her teeth, it was she that had the problem! Turns out all that clinching her teeth at night (I’m sure not at all caused by frustration with her husband, who is perfect in every way), can cause some problems. Unfortunately, a root canal and dental surgery suddenly was in the cards for her… once again, I’m certain it had nothing to do with me. So we made a trip home!

Since we were going home, we took the opportunity to have another surgery for Libby as well, something we had been meaning to do for a while. All is well, and she feels so much better now, but we wanted to take care of as much as we could while we were home. Because she was going to be knocked out of commission with some really good pain killers, responsibility of taking care of Duke fell to me.

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I took care of him for the better part of two weeks, and let me tell you… It is tough!!! I have a new-found respect for mothers. His waking time was always a surprise. You never knew when he was going to wake up, but you knew that it would be exactly the time you were just starting a new episode of TV show you were dying to watch. Another thing that I really didn’t have an appreciation for is how tiring he is. He’s tiny. He sleeps for the better part of 15 hours a day. He’s basically only has two speeds right now: asleep and FULL BLAST!!! We watch him run around, and he… never… stops. I get tired just watching him! It was just such a joy to be able to play with him and spend time with him.

Oh, wait!!! One more thing happened since our last post…

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The Duke is one! He survived and, against all odds, is thriving!

I'm not sure that's how you eat spaghetti...

I’m not sure that’s how you eat spaghetti…

It’s good to be back!

Derek, Libby, and Duke

Return of the Living Engineer

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Hello Chroniclers!

Whew… I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted.

So first things first… we’re staying. Yay! We’ve extended our stay here for at least another year!

The project that we’ve been waiting on for forever to begin finally kicked off. As with every short duration project (and anything under 3 years is a short project in my world), it’s very hectic from the word ‘Go’. To make life more interesting, a holiday that our PM had scheduled months in advance well after the original scheduled kickoff of the project naturally began, and I couldn’t make this stuff up, the day before our kickoff meeting. This meant that the majority of the work setting up the project and meetings with vendors fell to me, on top of doing my normal job. Needless to say, this resulted in numerous long hours at the office, on the train to London, and generally away from home. Then, and I don’t know if anyone else has had this happen to them before, I started waking up, thinking about work, at 4am… 5am.. 6am before would I finally got up. It was stressful. Four weeks in, I’m just now starting to get my head above water again.

I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Libby. During this time, I had to lean on her pretty hard to make sure our home life was stable. She came up aces for us. She started cooking dinner for us and it was waiting on the table for me when I got home. She took care of Duke during the day, made sure the house was clean, and took care of the shopping for us. That the house was still standing, everyone was fed and had clean clothes at the end of the day, and Libby still possessed all of her hair is a testament to her strength. This baby-rearing business is tough.

And it’s exhausting… Duke is growing like a weed. You think a small baby is tough? You should try a mobile baby! That’s right. He went from crawling to full on walking in a remarkably short time, only about 6 weeks. It’s not pretty, but he’s walking!

It’s so fun to see him grow. I am so thrilled to come home at the end of the day, because whenever he sees me for the first time, his face just lights up. It’s really the most uplifting thing in the world. No matter how bad or stressful your day has been, it simply does not matter anymore.

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Sometimes though, business gets in the way, and can’t be helped. I had to take a business trip last weekend up to near the English/ Scottish border. We were still able to FaceTime.

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We have so much fun playing with him! He’s so easy to play with too. All you have to make a silly face, and he laughs his head off. Coincidentally, this does not work on wives. Make a silly face to your kid… comic genius! Make odd faces to your wife… wierdo. Sometimes I go above her head, but I love her anyways.

Duke is great. Dad is doing well, and Momma is good too. Things are really starting to come up Smith.

We hope you’re doing well, and we look forward to more regular updates!

Derek, Libby, and Duke

She must be superhuman… it’s the only logical explanation

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Hello Chroniclers!

Glad to be able to touch base with everyone again! Happy Easter to everyone!

Libby, as one of the last activities with her schooling, went to a professional workshop for Interior Designers. This was a two-day shindig in London. The real fun for me was while Libby was away, I was left in charge of Duke. She actually left me alone with him. I seriously have had questions about her judgement for a while now, and this further justifies my concerns.

I went through the first day, no issues. I made Duke breakfast. It only took 45 minutes, but I was able to feed him. I was able to spend time playing with him. This was easily the highlight of my day. He’s becoming very interactive. The funny thing is he’s becoming quite physical. He loves to be held up. He loves to be on your shoulder.

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I made it through two nap times (with one sneaky video game!), two meals and two hours, and one showing of Frozen.

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Stop everything, dad! Frozen is on!

I even took him for a walk by the farms near our house, and he saw cows for the first time.

When Libby arrived home, I was feeling pretty cocky. It’s not that hard. He was an angel… then Libby cheerfully asked me, “…so did you get anything done? Were you able to take care of his laundry?”

WHAT?! You mean you’re supposed to take care of things around the house? I asked her what she did during the day. She started the rattling off the list… laundry, dishes, vacuuming, paying bills, cleaning up after Duke, reading stories, work out, catch up with friends, preparing dinner for us when I get home… she went on. I lost track. My head was spinning. All I could think was, “… with what time?” He seemed like such a full time job, I had a hard time trying to figure out when she had the time to do all of these things.

The next day, I was like ok… there’s the bar. I told myself I would take care of things around the house. After breakfast, I started trying to sort laundry. Simple task, I thought, work myself up to the other things. I … didn’t get any of them done. Between Duke’s insistence that he definitely did not want me to feed him that chicken and apple sauce he happily ate the day before and his strong desire to only sleep half his normal amount, I felt myself fairly lucky to complete one load of laundry.

Next time I spoke to Libby, I told her how amazing she was. There’s no way our house would function without her, and it was nice to gain perspective and see how easy I have it thanks to her.

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Hope you are doing well!

Derek and Libby

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER. – A remembrance of Terry Pratchett

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Hello Chroniclers!

I want to take a little break from our normal posts about the happenings and goings on of our family. This post will mostly be about my experiences, and not necessarily Team Smith.

As an aside, Duke is doing his best to exhaust us. Take last night for example, I was up to 1:00 with him before I passed him on to Libby to stay awake with him for the next half hour. Then, he decided 5:00 was also a fine time to be awake for over an hour. He’s been doing things like this for the past few days. I suspect it’s part of his plan to overthrow the authorities. As in Art of War, I think he’s trying to wear us down before he makes his move… clever boy… too clever. Lord help us when he’s mobile.

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Today is a sad day. Today, I learned Terry Pratchett took “Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.”  For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to be familiar with him, he’s the second most read author in Britain after J.K. Rowling. In 2009, he was knighted for his contributions to literature. It gives you pause, and I want to take some time to share some of my memories of him.

My best friend introduced him to me in university. He gave me the first book of the Discworld series. I was struck by the irreverence. I was laughing throughout, but was still aware that I was reading brilliant commentary on society and religion and several other themes. One of the happier memories I have of that time period with my friend was skipping class (sorry, dad), hanging out in a bar, and quoting the book back and forth to each other. We laughed for hours, and enjoyed life.

As mentioned in a previous post, my cousin and I went on a backpacking trip to Europe. For three weeks, we travelled by train, plane, and automobile. To entertain ourselves on the train rides, we would read. Once we had finished reading the books we brought, we exchanged books on the trip. He gave me On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. It shaped my world view, and irrevocably changed my life. I gave him The Colour of Magic. I think it was an even trade.

I remember shortly after, during the last major downturn in the economy we went through, the first time I read Good Omens. Originally, when I moved to Houston, I lived in a nice apartment. One of my best friends lived in the same complex. Another friend of mine actually lived with me during the week and then would go back to Dallas on the weekends. It was definitely one of the highlights of my life. I really loved it there. Then the economy went under. I sat through a year of layoffs. Each month, another group of people were cut. It was stressful, wondering if you would have a job next month, each month wondering if this was your time. It certainly didn’t give you the confidence to make any long term commitments. It was during this time that my friend who lived with me, was let go from the company. My apartment also came up for renewal during this time. I was very nervous committing to a year lease, so I moved out of that nice apartment and into a crappy apartment that had month-to-month leases. It was old… It was poorly maintained. I had an issue in having the electricity switched over to my name in time, and had the electricity briefly switched off in my apartment. Never fear, though. Through a quirk in terrible wiring, I still had electricity to the back half of my apartment. A couple of weeks after I moved into this oubliette, I woke up one Saturday morning to a banging. I went to go investigate. It turns out it was one of the movers trying to kick in my front door. Needless to say, my time there was a bit spicier than I ever want to go through again. It was in this time that I picked up Good Omens. Since my television wasn’t working (due to the electricity still being out), I had to read. I read a lot. Other than the attempted break-in, my strongest memory that I have of that time is reading to the spider in my bathroom, whom I had named Crawley, after one of the characters in the book. I had a lot of time on my hands… Still, that was one of the happier memories from that time. In this current climate, where the same uncertainty reigns over the workplace, I am reminded of that rat hole of an apartment and the joy that book brought me.

Pratchett’s work still manages to touch my life in unforeseen ways. One of my good friends at work I met for the first time because he was carrying an Assassin’s Guild of Ankh-Pomork notebook. I recognized it, and it spurred a conversation that has grown into a meaningful relationship.

Upon hearing of Sir Terry’s passing, I told my friend the news. I knew that my friend had been reading Pratchett’s books to his kids, and they were bonding over bedtime stories of Discworld and the witches of The Chalk. His response stuck with me:

“Thanks for telling me.  It’s nicer to hear it from someone who knows what it means.  Even my kids will grieve. How cool is that?”

To share an experience meaningful enough to mourn the passing of the person who helped foster that connection to my child is something which I look forward to, and I very much look forward to sharing my love of books with Duke.

Thank you Mr. Pratchett for the memories you have brought to me so far, and for the ones I know you will help me make in the future. You will be sorely missed.

Sir Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett

Prisoner 260614… Duke Smith

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Hello Chroniclers!

So I must admit something… sometimes weeks go by and I think to myself, ‘Man… I can’t think of anything significant that we’ve done this past week. What the hell am I going to write about?’ I mean, you want to be entertaining, right? I can only show so many baby photos…

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Luckily, this is the product of a slow, sleep-deprived mind, and one distracted. It has been a fairly tumultuous time over the past month. The floor dropped out of the oil prices a few months back. Since then, work slowed. Some projects were cut entirely. Colleagues were let go. Ex-pats we were friends with went home. Cost cutting efforts were put in place. Putin, the Kremlin Gremlin, meanwhile is doing his best to bring excitement to the region where our project is located. Tough times… the last time I saw something like this previously was in the downturn of 2009. Still, we are luckier than some.

It was amongst this back drop, Libby and I took the risk and put ourselves out there for an opportunity to advance. The downside of the choice is that we have to leave the safe harbor of the project that brought us over here, and hope for the funding of the new project comes through soon. Otherwise, we could be going home soon ourselves. We have assurances that it’s coming any day now, and there’s nothing to worry about. However, it’s been a sword of Damocles hanging over our head. It colors the decisions we’re making and plans we’re making for the immediate future. Our work is tied to projects… when they come in… when they finish… how big are they… which continent it’s on. Our dependency on project is one of the downsides of life as an engineer, and one of the major differences between our work lives and most other careers. These differences are even more amplified as an ex-pat, because not only is there uncertainty over your job, but where you’ll be living next month isn’t certain. For the last few weeks, living under this pressure is what we’ve been dealing with.

However, cool things continue to happen for us. Libby finished her Interior Design education. She has her certification! I’m so very proud of her! It’s been a lot of work to get to this point, but it’s reinvigorated her desire to put herself out there and pursue interior design further. She’s even attending a professional workshop in a couple of weeks to help continue her education. While she was in London turning in her last project, she enjoyed some celebratory Tex-Mex with a friend.

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Meanwhile, Duke is growing like a weed! There’s been so many changes and firsts for him lately, it’s so exciting. Let me go through some of the highlights:

He’s taking his first swimming lessons:

He’s started to crawl now:

He’s becoming a lot more mobile now, so we had to put up a play yard, or as grandma likes to call it, ‘baby jail’.

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He’s added 4 new teeth (hence, why we don’t sleep much…). There’s so much changing with him, and big things, too! It’s hard to keep up with all that is happening with him.

So still we persist… Everyone is doing well. Libby is smarter now… it’s official. Derek is advancing his career and loving the arrival of spring golf season, and Duke is more of a joy every day.

We hope you’re well, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Derek and Libby and Duke