Archive for the ‘toby’ Category


Friday, June 12th, 2009

I forgot to mention in my post about Toby at the YMCA that he has to bring his own lunch this week (next week they’ll be providing free lunches for all the kids under a Minneapolis schools/federal lunch program, so it’ll be a lot more like what he’s used to at school). He has occasionally taken a packed lunch to school, but doesn’t have a great track record in actually eating any of it. Not sure how much of the school lunches he eats either, but it’s easier to see the evidence with a packed lunch when he takes the leftovers home. We’ve worked out that he’ll eat a bagel with cream cheese and carrot sticks and a few other things, so that’s what we go with. He’s told us that he likes apples too, so we sent one in yesterday with him and he ate a single, narrow strip of it all around it’s equator, and that was all he had. Oh well, he’s only six.

Anyway, in the car on the way home last night we asked him if he ate much of his lunch. He said he did, about half. Which half? we asked. “The first half” was his response.

Emma told me, quietly, that I should put it on my blog, but he heard it and asked what she was talking about. We kind of explained that we would write about his day, and he slightly glumly said “You’ll probably also write about things that I say.” So he’s on to me.

summer camp

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

It seems like only six posts ago I was mentioning Toby’s impending summer vacation plans – going to the Downtown YMCA summer camp. Today was his first day and he did very well. It was pretty strange dropping him off – although it’s a well supervised environment and the teachers clearly know what they’re doing, it’s still odd to think of him being in charge of his own things, like knowing when to ask people for stuff and coordinating his packed lunch etc. Just little things which we know that he’s very capable of, but I guess it’s a parenthood thing to have to deal with the anxiety at the same time as dealing with the increased independence.

Of course he did great – he’s really good at making friends and being confident in new places and we’re very impressed with the program so far. He has a few weeks in the downtown location, then he’ll be off for a week in their outdoor camp where he’ll get to do hiking, fishing, kayaking and other wholesome summer activities. Lucky guy!

toby science

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Toby seems to have quite a scientific mind, and he’s been getting more and more into scientific concepts now he’s learning more at school. It’s being expressed in a great six-year-old way.

Example 1: A couple of days ago Toby had a bag full of clothes, which he was spinning around. He expressed amazement at Emma, because none of the clothes were falling out. She said that’s because he was using centrifugal force. He said “But Mummy, I don’t have the Force.”

Example 2: He was showing me how he rolls up his clean socks before putting them away, and he said “Dad, watch this. I’m going to do a physic.” I do like the concept of singular physics.

summer camp

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

It’s hard to believe, but Toby will be done with Kindergarten in only one month. He’s had a fantastic year – made some really good friends and learned tons, including the ability to read very fluently, so that he’s now reading books for 8 or 9 year olds. The summer break is pretty long – from mid-June till early September – and the standard thing is to find a lot of summer activities for kids to do during that time.

On the advice of some of our neighbors, we’re enrolling him in the Downtown YMCA summer camp. It sounds like he’s going to get to swim and play every day, as well as do at least three field trips each week, to places like museums, farms and parks. We’re also going to see if we can get him a couple of weeks going to the YMCA’s more rural center, where he’ll get to go hiking, canoeing, and general outdoors things. No overnight stays though – he has to be at least 7 years old to do that – and fortunately the YMCA offers a bus service each day from the downtown location. Sounds like tons of fun.

Certainly more fun than this anyway:

Daily? I would assume youd only need to have it done once.

Daily? I would assume you'd only need to have it done once.

toby teeth

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Great excitement for young Toby today, as he lost his first baby tooth. It had been loose for two or three weeks, and yesterday it was clearly very close to coming out, but still not quite there. Apparently at school this afternoon he just but down on it and it popped out, causing a lot of interest from his friends. His teacher put the tooth in an envelope, which is now under his pillow awaiting a visit from the tooth fairy. Here’s some pictorial evidence (of the tooth, not obviously the tooth fairy):

Toby on April 27, with full complement of milk teeth

Toby on April 27, with full complement of milk teeth

Toby on April 28, with gap in teeth

Toby on April 28, with gap in teeth

ten glorious years

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Today it’s ten years since I arrived in these United States (specifically, this particular one – the Great State of Minnesota (whenever politicians refer to a state, it’s always a “great state”)).

I can’t quite believe I’ve been here this long, but I’m pretty happy about it. When I got on the plane in 1999 I had never been to America before, and to be honest I’m not sure what I was thinking apart from that it would be something of an adventure, and it would be good for me to see if I could do it – live in a different country. It was quite a culture shock when I arrived – much more than I expected. I had visited a couple of friends shortly before I moved here, one in Berlin and one in Tokyo, and while they found the culture differences quite challenging I think that they expected it more than I did. My take was that people speak English here, so how hard could it be? Well some things weren’t too bad, but as most people know there are a lot of differences between American and British English, but actually more than you would expect. Apart from the words themselves, there are a lot of subtleties, word ordering in sentences, idioms, turns of phrase and even body language. Also I had never really lived in a suburb before – certainly not one without obvious public transport. It took quite a while to make friends beyond my initial circle of expat buddies (and thank goodness for them!) and sometimes I would go a whole weekend without really speaking to anyone. But you know, that was actually OK, and it was probably good for me to have that time.

Anyway, still here, and at a quick reckoning here’s what I’ve done in the last ten years:

Lived in a couple of different apartments
Bought a house in a great neighborhood
Joined a great choir, of which I am a section leader and also choir president
Made some wonderful friends
Built up some decent retirement savings (even with recent stock market disasters)
Learned to barbecue a fantastic steak
Traveled to several states in the US, plus Canada
Traveled to India a few times, and to Bermuda
Got married
Got my green card, and now my US citizenship
Progressed in my career in a way I really wanted to, got a bunch of great opportunities, and have learned a ton
Put on a few pounds, but not as much as I deserve to
Gained tons of confidence by doing pretty much all of the above through a combination of good fortune and hard work
Had two wonderful kids

Speaking of those kids, I also just put up some new pics here – hope you enjoy them

best kids’ book title ever

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Toby bought this book home from school today: “Let’s Explore Uranus“. Unfortunately he pronounces it the politically correct, modern way (with the emphasis on the first syllable) but it was still enough for Emma to be in serious pain with laughter.

new toby and dara pics

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I just posted up some photos from Christmas and New Year of the young ‘uns. Enjoy!

christmas eve

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

The start and end of Christmas eve for a Toby who is almost six and very excited:

Up at around 6am to wait outside his parents’ room until someone gets up. When I found him, he immediately asked whether Santa had been yet. I told him that it was the wrong day and he was very upset, but excited that it will be tomorrow.

End of the day: after she read his stories tonight, Toby asked Emma how big the letter C is. She asked him what he meant, and he said “You know, the *real* letter C.” I think he meant some Plato-type Utopian ideal of a C, it wasn’t really clear. Interesting question though.

elaborate deception

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

It’s that time of the year when Emma and I, along with parents all over the world, practice a ceremony of elaborate deception on our children. That’s right, we’ve been very careful not to give the Santa game away to Toby (and Dara, although she wouldn’t get the idea yet anyway).

In Toby we are blessed with a very smart and inquisitive child and we’re pretty sure he would see though the Santa thing quite quickly, so we’ve had to be very careful with how we get Christmas stocking presents together and what we talk about when we’re discussing them. I, of course, end up feeling a bit of angst around whether it’s OK to be doing this – on one hand it’s a lot of fun but on the other it is kind of a con trick, but on the other hand he’s only five so enjoy the magic of Christmas and enjoy having three hands.

I did the same thing with the Advent calendar my mother sent him, when I said that if he opens a door early it’s bad luck. Of course I had no way of telling him how that would work, and fortunately he didn’t ask, but it felt again like I was being a bit of a fraud.

Anyway. There’s a lot of interesting information on the wikipedia about Santa – it’s worth reading.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.