Friday, September 25, 2015


Tor's transition to "big school" has gone remarkably smoothly. He goes to breakfast club at 8:15, has kindergarten from 9 to 3:20, and then has after-school club until 5:15. Each of those groups has different kids, albeit with some overlap, and different teachers, and he's done an admirable job just going with it and making new friends. They also do "forest school" once a week, where they go outside for most of the day and pick berries, build a fire, drink hot chocolate, and build things out of sticks. He's tired and irritable some nights, but honestly that's nothing new.

One kid from his daycare also is in the kindergarten, and he told me that they're not friends anymore because "now I have new friends." So we talked about how you don't need to stop being friends with people when you meet new friends, and talked about all our friends in the places we've lived, and I taught him the song about "make new friends but keep the old." Hopefully that takes.

Tor is getting highly sensitive to people's emotions and will sometimes report to us when someone is sad, as well as telling us how he's feeling. Yesterday he told me that he and Dad were walking in the city center, and they saw a man selling magazines, and the man wanted Dad to buy one, but Dad said not now, and "I saw the man's face and i could see that he felt very sad." That was a tough one. I said we want to make everyone happy, and we have to do what we can, but we can't buy magazines from everybody (we see a lot of people selling magazines). But there are other ways we help people and everyone has to help in the way they can. I'm sure there are better answers, but that's what I came up with on the bike ride home. No judgement.

Tor has also begun using similes with noticeable frequency. "My leg looks like a bridge." "The camera sounds like bread crusts crunching." "The fresh-squeezed OJ tastes like cow poo." I pulled him up on that last one because 1) it's rude and 2) how does he know what cow poo tastes like? He explained, "I've seen a lot of cow poo and I know what it smells like, and the smell is what this juice tastes like." Touché, son, touché.

Finally, he's getting even more helpful (though, on the balance, he's also a complete basket case at least three times a week), so we try to reinforce that whenever possible. Today Col took a bath and while I was getting him dressed, Tor drained the tub, squeezed out all the toys, and put them back on the shelf. Massive fanfare! Gold star for Tor! As soon as I got Col dressed, Col barfed all over himself, me, and the rug. While I cleaned him up, I asked Tor to go to the drawer downstairs in the kitchen and get me a big tupperware. He came up with a glass bowl. I told him thanks but no, the drawer above that and it has to be plastic and big. He came back with exactly the right vessel for catching toddler puke. Celebration! Tor is great! (Now Col is in bed with the tupperware next to him--fingers crossed it's a 24-hour thing.)

Ready to conquer day one

Veg sesh after the first day of school

He's from Minnesota, what can I say

Modeling our friend Casey's hat and a smirk that's all Tor

"I spelled your name!"

Tor and Dad had a special outing to the lab where he got to use the electron microscope to look at a dead fly located specifically for this purpose. A few TorTales buffs may recall that the first-ever post on here featured Tor at an electron microscope--another place, another time.

Proud to be in the driver's seat

Wearing his lab camouflage
The Kafkaesque outcome

I'll write more about Col for his big oh-two next month, but to touch on where he's at, the kid likes being engaged in conversation at any given time and will nod and shake his head as if he understands exactly what you mean. This tactic allows him to slide by if you're using yes-or-no questions, but once you ask him why or how or when, or "What did you do at the playground," it breaks down. He's pretty good at who and where questions, though, and is particularly endearing in holding up his hands in an "I dunno" gesture when you ask him where something is.

Caster wheels? Check, Helmet? Absolute necessity.

Discovery at work (actually getting pretty good with the two-piece puzzle)


Napping, wringing hands post lab visit with Cousin Laura

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

See You In September

Today is Tor's last day of preschool. Tomorrow is his first day of kindergarten. Where is life going?

This makes me want to record more memories, but then I'm always torn between taking pictures and just enjoying the moment. Anyway, here are a few from the summer.

When we get to daycare in the morning, Col usually wants to hold Tor's hand and Tor usually doesn't want to hold Col's hand. The trek across the parking lot thus usually involves Tor running away from Col and Col running after him screeching, "Hanh? Hanh? Hanh?!" before usually falling down. The teachers must love seeing us coming. A few times Tor has been willing to hold hands, though.

"Come, brother, together we shall wreak much havoc upon this nursery."

Remove pants, gnaw banana 

Scotland with the Siglers was, in a word, as awesome as we expected. To be fair, with the company, we would have had a great time anywhere. Highlights for me were Stirling Castle, country walks, a particularly excellent pub, and a full spectrum of scotches yielded by Josh and April's foregoing distillery tours. The place we stayed had a river view, a playground in the yard, and twin beds for the kids.

It was Col's first time out of the crib. The first night, he seemed happy enough to go to sleep in the bed, especially with Tor there. A few hours later, we heard a THUMP. Lars raced upstairs to find Col on the floor with head and torso beneath the bed, still fast asleep. That got repeated a few times (though he didn't stay asleep for all of them).

With his big boy bed

Success: We all came away from this with all our fingers

The boldest knight of Stirling Castle


Then in mid-July the four of us spent a week in Hinterstoder, Austria, about 90 minutes east of Salzburg. In the winter it's a ski resort, and we wanted to see some mountains--as you may be aware, England is pretty flat.

Al fresco dining in 90-degree weather: that's vacation

Trails right by the place we stayed went along a river with good spots for snacks. Tor did some foot dragging, but for the most part was game to go a mile or two. Col rode in the backpack for his final hurrah--he is definitely waaaay too long and heavy for it.

In which I explain that if Tor keeps whining, the cows will charge
A rustic rest

And a gondola/chairlift combo a quarter mile from the house took us 4000 feet up the mountain. So though we couldn't hike particularly far, at least we did it at elevation.
First ride up

Leg two of the journey to the top
Another day, another ride

Wholeheartedly embracing Austrian mountain cuisine

Schnitzel, schnitzel, schnitzel, kartoffler

Fish-watching and keeping Col out of the water

Hot and sweaty and loving it

Lars's finger joins in the action

Other highlights included an alpine slide (just Lars and Tor), and a hike to a hut with no one but us, the proprietors, their cows, and bread, cheese, and beer. I realized how bad my German is and bought some comic books for motivational reading.

Final lap plane ride

We drove to Cornwall for the weekend to sneak in a mini-vacation while Lars did some field work. The kids loved the beach and Lars's colleague's three-year-old daughter. The caravan park where we stayed had a swimming pool, and Tor had just finished up a solid week of swimming lessons (facilitated by great self-sacrifice on the part of DaDa, who biked him there every morning), so we got him a Spiderman innertube and he was basically self-sufficient. He's signed up for weekend swim lessons starting in September, at which we have big hopes that he will progress to swimming without external support.
Tired AND hungry? Now there's no need to choose
Burning off some steam while waiting for dinner to arrive
"Look, kids, work is fun!"

Aside from Scotland, Austria, and Cornwall, we've spent most weekends at home. Tor joined the library's Summer Reading Challenge! and has surpassed my expectations at reading books all by himself (with a lot of cheerleading, of course). Lars has been particularly dedicated to this at bedtime.

Col has joined the legions of children in love with Elmo. And with coloring on themselves.

His name is Zachary and he's fabulous

"You'll need to pry these pouches from our cold dead hands"

At the playground
Tor: Col can be Peter Pan, you be the princess, and I'll be Wolverine.
Me: Why am I the princess?
Tor: Because you like princesses.
Me: Why do you think I like princesses?
Tor: Because I want you to like them.

Expression turned to disappointment upon realizing wine is not juice

On the way home after Col's classroom did fruit tasting
Me: Did you like the pears, Col?
Col: YEAH!
Me: Did you like the apples?
Col: YEAH!
Tor: I like apples and pears together. As a team.

No letters can spell the sound Col makes that means "CHEESE"
"Can I ride back here today?"