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Hamantaschen and flight delays

Following my trip down to Pasadena for the Southern California Linux Expo, I had three days of work and then a couple days off which I spent with the kids while we prepared for a visit to Philadelphia.

Having worked through the weekend, taking a couple days off the following week was the most logical thing to do over all, but it really worked out this time. First, it was a huge help in preparing to fly to Philadelphia on Saturday morning. I can squeeze in all our prep on a couple of late nights, but having the daytime to do it was especially beneficial, no late nights for me!

I also finally found someone to help me with chores and organization projects around the house three times a week. We have a house cleaner come by every two weeks, which is a huge help, but working full time, caring for the kids in the evening, and doing all the daily chores meant I had very little other time in my week for either personal time or other projects we want to tackle. I know that a lot of folks live like this, and have much more physically demanding jobs, but it’s not the life I want for myself. Since we have the means to hire someone to help for a few hours a week, I was finally able to convince myself that it’s the right thing to do for our family right now.

My new helper came by on Tuesday to meet and make sure we were a good fit (both sides, personality and task-wise) and then I had her come by for a couple hours on Thursday and Friday. It was especially nice to have someone help me prep everything for the trip, that took a full two hours of chores off my list (or, more realistically, took and hour off and allowed me to finally have the stroller cleaned, which I always say I’ll do but never get around to).

The other thing of note last week was that Purim was coming up, and I wanted to make Hamantaschen with the boys. This is my third year doing it, and this year we had the added pressure of promising Adam’s teacher that we’d bring some by on Friday before we left to share with his class as a culture sharing activity. On Thursday morning after dropping Adam off at school, Aaron and I got to work on the dough, which needed to chill in the refrigerator for three hours.

After lunch, we got to work on the cookies! This year we went with two flavors, MJ picked up some cherry pie filling to try out, and I also thawed some of our home made plum jam. They both came out beautifully, this was definitely my best year yet. On Friday we brought several to Adam’s class, and then we were able to pack the rest of the ones we didn’t eat for our trip to Philadelphia (and actual Purim, which was on Sunday).

Speaking of plums, we also spent some time last week doing a bit of yard work. The plum tree really needed some pruning, and so did the apple tree. So I watched a YouTube video about pruning fruit trees and went to work chopping. I wanted to make sure I did enough so the trees aren’t weighed down (last year a branch on the plum tree snapped), but I also want to make sure I don’t inflict so much trauma on the tree that it fails to produce fruit for a couple years, the boys love those fruit trees! I won’t know for a couple months whether I succeeded, but they do look a lot better now. Plus, the boys were actually a big help, they helped haul the branches into the compost, and were hilarious little helpers as I also spent a bit of time pulling up weeds in the back yard.

Saturday we flew to Philadelphia, on a flight that was delayed by over 5 hours. Unfortunately the delay didn’t hit until just before boarding, so we were stuck at the airport for all that time trying to keep a three year old and a five year old entertained without relying too much on screens, which we’d have to do in the air. We began our adventure playing by the gate a bit, hoping for a quick departure, but as soon as it was clear that wasn’t possible, we made our way to a restaurant for a snack and change of scenery.

After some time there, it was off to another restaurant where the boys could get ice cream. The remaining time was spent at an airport lounge, which also wasn’t terribly exciting for them, but breaking up the 5 hour wait with multiple locations did help stave off a lot of the boredom. Honestly, the boys really handled themselves well, all things considered. The arrival into Newark was another challenge, it was 2AM by the time we got in, limited ground staff meant they sent the stroller to baggage claim rather than having it at the gate, so we had to encourage two sleepy kiddos all the way to baggage claim. Then the air train wasn’t running, so we had to rework our whole plan to pick up the rental car. And suffice to say, we didn’t plan on getting to the townhouse nearly 5AM. As a result, Sunday was a little rough.

We’re now in Philadelphia for a couple weeks. We have some plans to meet up with some folks, and I will be heading up to the Poughkeepsie office for an IBM System 360 celebration next week. I’m rounding out the trip by speaking at the Central Pennsylvania Open Source Conference (CPOSC) on Saturday, April 6th. It’s nice to be here again.