Sunday, March 19, 2017

Almost to the Equinox

Having the following conversations with the boys today reminded me that it's been a while since I've recorded anything they've done, so:

Looking at drawings of superheroes that Tor invented
Col: Mummay! This one is you.
Me: Who's it meant to be, Tor?
Tor: [checks] That's Mustache Girl.
Col: So Mummay, it can be you!

In the car 
Tor: Why do some restaurants have Christmas lights out? Is it Christmastime now?
Me: Sometimes people hang lights up just to look fancy, not for a holiday.
Tor: Holiday lights are only certain colors though.
Me: Like what color would Halloween lights be?
Tor: Halloween lights could be red or orange, or any fire color. Or purple. Or black.
Me: Black lights would be hard to see though.
Tor: They would have to be black with white. Like piano lights. Or checkerboard lights.

Here's a photo dump of the last three months, most notably including skiing in Austria with godparents Josh and April and what the British call a "mini-break" with the Fox-Iredale clan in the Cotswolds. Also: Tor and Col got super short haircuts because I was sick of their bangs always growing into their eyes faster than any other bits got too long and I went a little overboard in briefing the barber.

The one shot we got at a full family photo ON SKIS

Saddest part is that's maybe the best thing you can say about the guy

Absolutely killed his first season ever...

...especially when it came to taking food breaks

Lars is now perma-hunched

Capturing the flood snowpants and plaid longjohns

In the gondola heading down from lunch

The vacation apartment featured shaggy cows!

Back in Oxford, immediately following their scalping

Pit stop while fairy-seeking

Someone was excited

Rainy day: doing this puzzle for the third time straight

Menfolk relaxing I

Menfolk relaxing II

Poor Dad, squinting without those sunglasses

Discovering Birdland, the Cotswolds' hidden gem

Naturally Birdland featured a full-on dinosaur discovery section


Don't worry, I was definitely spotting them while taking this picture

Monday, December 26, 2016

Another year down!

We’ve survived 2016 (well, nearly there anyway)! Here’s an update from the four of us.

In terms of the day to day, it’s admittedly not been a great year of cultivating grown-up hobbies, but we’ve gotten out around town on the weekends with friends, usually friends with kids, to parks and pubs (if it’s not raining) or museums and pubs (if it is). Most of the museums in Oxford are free, and we’re making full use of them. This year we’ve enjoyed teaching Tor to ride a bike, celebrating a slew of children’s birthdays, participating in church events, and attending school concerts and plays for both boys.

Tor is nearly six and in the UK equivalent of first grade, Year 1 (which kids go into a year younger than in the US). He has complicated, ever-changing relationships with the kids at school, but mostly they stay positive and he’s looking forward to his sixth birthday party at the local bowling alley with several little buddies. His biggest challenge this year has been to focus on the more curriculum-based kind of learning he’s being asked to do, compared to the play-based nature of last year’s class. This year he learned how to swim 5 meters without help, began reading simple books, discovered Pokemon trading cards, and played out countless imaginary scenarios with family and friends (most frequently with Col, and lately involving an enormous stuffed bear). Here is Tor telling us about learning a Christmas song at school (with a cameo by Col eating a soft-boiled egg).

Col keeps a sunny disposition most of the time, though he’s started to assert his own desires much more this year and can cross over to the dark side in the blink of an eye when disputing whose turn it is with a toy, who gets to lead the way into preschool, or where he’ll sit at dinnertime. After about a year of halfhearted effort, he finally conquered toilet-training shortly after his third birthday (October 15)—just in time to switch to a new preschool on January 4, so fingers crossed there’s no backsliding in the strange environment. He worships his big brother and does his best to imitate whatever Tor does, for better or worse. He sings the ABCs loudly and proudly but can’t yet recognize many individual letters. When we put him to bed, he asks for “a big cuddle…now a little cuddle…now a big cuddle” and will carry on that way until we say “last time.” He’s speaking in full sentences though the pronunciation is still touch and go. Here he is singing “Feliz Navidad” (practicing for his Christmas concert). The non-traditional line he throws in there is, “Now in English!” 

Elissa continued at Oxford University Press this year, still overseeing the UK team in charge of outsourcing academic book production, which grew to seven people in 2016, and also heading up a new team of four responsible for manufacturing all of the new academic books coming out of the UK office (about 1600 titles a year). It’s been a year filled with new things to learn and chances to think about better ways to get from submitted manuscripts all the way through to finished products!

Lars worked this year to further establish his lab and research group, which now consists of three Master's students, two PhD students, and one postdoc. Two years of work culminated in the first experiments on Lars's new rock deformation apparatus, squishing rocks at 2500 degrees F. Expect pictures next year of all sorts of tortured rocks!

This year we said goodbye to our much-loved Dendro, who joined our family in 2001. We were fortunate to be able to visit him at Karen and Andy’s shortly before he passed. He had a good long life, and we’ll see him on the other side where we’re confident he’s now able to catch Frisbees and chase cows once again.

A highlight of the year was a couple of family trips. In February we headed to Austria for a week, where we met up with Norm and Charmaine and Tor’s godparents, Josh and April. Charmaine hung out with Col while the rest of us skied, including Tor, who spent five days in the ski school and came out eager to return next year. Then in August we took two and a half weeks to visit family on the West Coast, including Lars’s cousin Morgan’s wedding; a relaxing time with Andy, Karen, Tim, Caitlin, and Mormor; and an epic Disneyland trip with Norm and Charmaine—the kids were the perfect age to feel the Disney magic!

Merry Christmas to all and a joyous New Year!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Seems so long ago...

You know you're delinquent at updating your blog when all your posts start with comments on how long it's been since your last post. This is a new record for me, though--nearly four months. Turns out I had the below draft sitting from June, and most of the pictures are from May, so this is a little outdated, but to be followed with pictures from later summer. (We just got back from 2.5 weeks in the US and are collating photos from multiple sources! Also, Tim and Caitlin came to visit us!)

Scene: Bedtime
Me: OK, I'm going to put on some music for you.
Tor: What is the music about?
Me: It's just piano music.
Tor: Is it about somebody kicking people?

Scene: After school
Tor: Do you know what we're going to make in our class?
Me: What?
Tor: Tea towels. Each class is going to make one and we're going to put our pictures on them. So I drew a picture of my face. The teachers will put it on the towel and print it out. And you can buy one because they'll be for sale.
Me: Sounds like a good project. We will definitely buy one if they're for sale.
Tor: And Mrs. Varpur said they last forever, too.

Tor's final school presentation? Put a bird on it!

We went on a hike with our Cambridge-based buddies the Lascus to celebrate Ioana's and my shared birthday. It was the one day of the year that it snowed.

Off to catch dinner

Even better!

Practicing for his Jungle Book audition

I have no idea where this hat came from. Seriously

Playing hairdresser in the tub

Lars and Tor put together Tor's first robotics project, complete with Tor accompanying DaDa to the store to pick out all the necessary bits and pieces. This was notably also Tor's first soldering project.
The result: a teeny scorpion that turns to keep moving whenever it walks into a wall. So basically a Roomba. 

A rare moment of unity when waiting for the bus

"Driving" said bus

Brace yourself, Col

Teddy bear tea--sans parental prompting

Post-tea-party parallel Lego play

"Sun's out, guns out" was actually Oxford Castle's original motto


Spotted: on a treasure hunt at after-school club

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and other stories

We're enjoying an un-English warm and dry stretch of weather this week and celebrating by toilet training! Here is an ironically unappetizing reading of the children's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar as told to a 2.5-year-old trying to eliminate. (Spoiler alert: no actual elimination takes place in this video, despite Col's claims to the contrary.)

While I'm at it, here are a few more photos from the past six weeks (!) since I've updated the blog.

March: Easter!
Separate egg hunts this year minimized stress and maximized eggs per kid                            

That crazed, glazed Easter chocolate look

Moving too fast for my shutter speed

Rocking the Easter finery for daycare

Lego action at the Good Friday children's carnival

Aaaaand pulpit action


Enjoying delicious "agar jelly" at a science-themed b-day party

How Oxford's one BBQ joint lost its pig

Hogging the church steps as usual after the service

I swear this idea had nothing to do with me

We'll call them simply "Hansen"


First nice day out!