dara’s birthday

September 19th, 2008

Dara is the grand old age of one today! She’s doing great – we had her checkup at the doctor’s yesterday and all is well. She’s 70th percentile for height, and 30th for weight, so a lot like her dad. Walking well, and she knows and uses 6 or 7 words so far – again a lot like her dad. Too much of a rush to get going this morning to do presents, but thanks to everyone who has sent things – we’ll be getting to them this evening.

Also, happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! Avast! In Dara’s class they’ve been having pirate events all week, and Dara’s wearing a pirate t-shirt today.


September 15th, 2008

There are a number of subtle differences between American and British supermarkets, one of them being the kinds of meat you can encounter in each. Despite the new/old food “movement” in the U.K., I’m sure that in most supermarkets here there is more offal available – chicken gizzards, pig trotters etc, than I ever saw in Britain.

On James Lileks’ Bleat today he had a picture of something he saw at one of our local markets:

Chicken feet

Chicken feet

Urgh. As he says, “I’m sure they’re quality chicken feet, but the thing about modern supermarkets is this: generally, not a lot of feet.” Well, you do get pig trotters, as I noted, but there’s quite a difference between trotters and actual feet. With scales. And claws. Holding onto each other.

And per the wording on the price label, I’m not sure what the store thinks my life is like, but a handful of feet is not something that would be living up to any life I would like, thanks.

PS if anyone has any chicken feet recipes, leave a note in the comments, if you must.

walking video

September 14th, 2008

Took this little video at the zoo over the weekend – they have a little kids’ playroom, where the children can play dress-up and look at cool x-rays of some of the zoo animals. Anyway, the sound quality of this isn’t great because it’s done with a regular digital still camera, but the picture’s pretty good I think. Oh, and she’s usually steadier with walking than this, but she’d had a couple of martinis right beforehand. Enjoy:

walking girl

September 8th, 2008

A lot of Dara’s time over the last few days has been taken up with practicing walking, and it’s going pretty well I think. When you stand her up she takes a moment to clarify her balance, with some optional additional time for a big grin and maybe a bit of clapping, then a totter forwards. She’s now reliably doing three or four steps, and can go fairly far if everything works well. She still defaults to speed-crawling, but hey, she’s only a baby.


September 6th, 2008

If it’s good enough for an unknown from Alaska, it’s good enough for me. Here is the news.

the best day of all in the world

September 4th, 2008

Ready for kindergarten

Ready for kindergarten

It was Toby’s first day at kindergarten today and he was very excited to be going at last. Last night after he fell asleep and we checked on him, we saw that he had taken his brand new backpack into his bed, so it was clearly something foremost in his mind, even though outwardly he was seeming very calm.

Walking to kindergarten

Walking to kindergarten

Because his classes don’t start till just after 9:30am, Emma and I took him to the bagel place round the corner for a bit of breakfast, then strolled over in plenty time to get him to his classroom (stopping on the way at the lunchroom so that he could get a banana and we could be sure that he could remember the code number he needed to complete the checkout process). He went in just fine, no worries at all, apart from a big hug he gave us before we left.

Installed in class

Installed in class

When we met him at the end of the day, there were the only tears of the day, because he wanted to stay longer. He’d had a great day, doing lots of writing, some stories, meeting new friends, playing outside (apparently learning to do jump rope was a highlight), and getting his own lunch in the lunchroom, not to mention Spanish class in the afternoon. We’re just really impressed at how well he handled himself. As I was putting him to bed this evening, I asked him if he was looking forward to going again tomorrow, and if he had a good time. He said, “Yes, it was the best day of all in the world.”

palin puzzle

August 31st, 2008

Last week John McCain nominated Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential choice, and lots of people are quite perplexed about why he did so. On one hand she seems to appeal to the Republican base – she seems to be very definite on issues like gun control (or lack thereof), abortion (or complete ban thereof), a son about to serve in Iraq (although the same is true of the son of Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden) and general evangelicalness (she supported Pat Buchanan in 1996, although that won’t help their campaign with Jewish voters).

However, she’s very inexperienced – less than two years of a geographically enormous state with a population of only 600,000, and that after a few years as mayor of a town of 7,000 people. She doesn’t seem to have much recorded opinion on international affairs (although a Fox News pundit and now Cindy McCain says that with Alaska being right next to Russia she does have some exposure to international matters – as the Daily Show retorted, Alaska is near the North Pole so she must also know Santa) and there seem to be some questions around the firing of some of her senior officials. It’s worth reading this short article from Newsweek on her biography for details.

But the biggest thing is that it just seems like such an odd choice. There are so many other good potential candidates, and pulling a barely-tested, barely-vetted running mate who by all accounts McCain had only met once or twice in person just seems like such a strange thing to do. Perhaps he thinks that it will win him the election by appealing to women voters, but it seems just, frankly, flippant.

last day

August 29th, 2008

This morning is our last time dropping Toby off at his daycare (apart from a few hours next Wednesday) – the last full day of daycare for him. Yesterday afternoon we went to check out his new kindergarten, met his teacher, prospective friends and our fellow parents, saw the lunchroom etc, and felt really good about the place. However it’s really strange to be sending him in for his last day. I remember very clearly his first day when he was about 8 months old (maybe I don’t remember his exact age at the time…) and how emotional it was, for me at least. Emma seemed to get it out of her system the night before, and Toby was happy to sit with the other kids and steal toys from them. I, on the other hand, blubbed like a big girl. And this morning I’ve got that strange feeling where things are changing and he’s growing up really fast and is he going to be OK in his new school. Of course he is – he’s very competent and self-aware, but you’d be a different parent than me if you didn’t feel something at this kind of thing.

who is this guy?

August 28th, 2008

Last night I watched Joe Biden in his acceptance speech for the Vice Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. Exciting times, and seeing Obama come on stage at the end was a thrill.

One of the points Biden hit was his friendship of, and respect for, John McCain. However he said that he fundamentally disagrees with what McCain is proposing for the country. I think also that McCain has been changing and losing his focus in his bid for the Presidency. For example he was for a long time known as being straight up and open, but today a very strange interview was published by Time magazine where McCain is “prickly” and refuses even to define what “honor” means to him, or that he is in anyway uncomfortable with how negative his campaign has gone.

That negative campaign reached a new low a couple of days ago when they released an ad pulling specific words from a statement by Obama to twist what he said. Here’s the backstory – worth reading for context. One of the points is them having Obama say that Iran is a “tiny country”. The actual statement is about how the US should engage with our adversaries – how we did that with the Soviet Union, and “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union.” A very different meaning from what McCain’s campaign implies, you could even suggest that it’s a desperate lie.

the moth

August 27th, 2008

I recently discovered the Moth podcasts -they are a collection of stories told live on stage, a bit like the This American Life concept, but less reported and produced. The couple I have listened to so far are funny, personal and really moving. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a bit sleep deprived, but I was just listening to one and noticed that I was choking up a bit.

Anyway, highly recommended. If you have the iTunes (or another RSS tool) you can subscribe here.