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Sending your child to study in Europe

February 10th, 2015

This coming summer Kimmy will follow in the steps of her big sister by taking a language program in France. The organization that we are using for the second time for this purpose, SPI, invited me to contribute a guest entry for their blog on the topic of why we are sending our child to study abroad. That entry can now be found at this location.

Update: If you went to read the post right after I announced it, you may have seen a picture of unfamiliar girls on Siena’s famous Piazza del Campo. That picture was added by SPI into my post. After I pointed out to them that it would be better to actually have a picture of my own child, they replaced it with a photo that I myself provided.

Children

Becky’s excellent adventure

January 9th, 2015
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Our eldest is off to Brussels for a semester of study abroad. Although she has traveled to foreign countries on her own in the past, this will be the longest and likely the bumpiest of journeys. We are all excited for her and obviously just a smidgen worried.

She promises to keep a journal of her adventures, resurrecting her long-dormant blog. The first post just went up there. Anyone who is interested, feel free to go there (or use the link on the menu) and give her your love and best wishes. And help us keep her from feeling lonely by coming back to the blog, checking it out and commenting. She’ll appreciate it. I will as well.

Children

Carnegie Hall

March 5th, 2012

I’ve heard it many times in the past that performing at the Carnegie Hall in New York always features among the major highlights of a musician’s career. Well, one of my children have gotten it out of the way at a pretty early stage. Becky and her high school choir participated in a program at the Carnegie Hall earlier in the week. With her name in the playbill, she officially arrived
 

 
Here is a less-than-perfect mobile phone photograph of what the auditorium looked like before the show.
 

 
I suspect that there will eventually be videos of the performance available through the usual sources. If/when that happens, I will be sure to link it.

Children, NYC Album

Age-driven thought of the day

October 18th, 2010

It is a bit disorienting when one day your youngest child is 3 months old, and then a few days later, your eldest hits 16 years! I feel old and young at the same time.

Children

Learning to converse

October 2nd, 2010

I am re-learning a well-forgotten language nowadays. It manages to convey a vast range of thoughts and emotions via usage of just a few syllables – “aye”, “goo”, “uhm” and the like – with facial expressions playing a critical role in differentiating between homonyms. I am very busy trying to regain my fluency in it.

Children

How Dads and Moms get ready for a driving trip

September 20th, 2010

When family with children is going to visit relatives who live about an hour’s drive away, Dad’s responsibilities do not really start until around the time of departure. Prior to that, Dad might indicate several times that he is annoyed at being the only person who is ready. But only when the same level of readiness is exhibited by all members of the traveling party, will Dad spring to action. He will check the doors and the appliances. He will put the necessities into the trunk. He will carry the baby in the car-seat and make sure it is most securely attached to the base. He will, after all, do the driving.

Mom, on the other hand, will get ready for departure by feeding and dressing the baby, helping the older kids with outfits, hairdos and snacks, packing the diaper bag and the breast pump, keeping track of things that need to be brought along or undertaken along the way. She won’t be ready until everybody else in the house is ready. And her “ready” does not really include getting ready herself.

Only when the driving starts and the baby is strapped in, Mom has a chance to relax… and get ready.

She will finally do her own hair, put on some make-up, eat a yogurt or a banana that pass for her breakfast. In other words, she’ll do all of those things that are not really pre-requisites for leaving home in the family minivan.

Being a passenger in that minivan is the only time Mom can spend on herself.

Or so I hear.

Children

Parenthood

July 19th, 2010

Admit it, all of my one-post-a-week schedule aside, you keep coming back to this blog because you expect pearls of wisdom from me that you cannot get anywhere else.

I’ll give you one: This whole thing called parenthood is awfully hard.

There she is, just a few days old, lying on a blanket and moving both of her feet and arms according to some inner beat that I cannot hear. She eats, she poops, she sleeps. She is quiet most of the time, but starts crying for no apparent reason at random points in time. Is she hungry? No, she just finished eating not long ago. Does she need to be changed? No, I just changed her diapers a few minutes ago and the new one still looks and smells pristine. Is she uncomfortable? Is she in pain? What does she want? I’ll do anything, just tell me what it is that I need to do.

She can’t tell me.

I’ll pick her up, rock her for a while, make silly sounds at her or try to reason with her as if she could understand my words, drive myself crazy for a while without making any visible impact on the little person’s disposition, and then suddenly whatever bothered her is gone and she falls asleep. Or her mother decides that it’s been long enough since the last feeding.

I only lost a few billion of my nerve cells in the meantime.

I don’t do well to the extreme when one of my children is in any sort of physical discomfort. I feel helpless. I hate feeling helpless. Especially when I don’t know what is going on. And she won’t be able to tell me for a while.

Of course, now is one of the easiest parts. Caring for a newborn is, after all, fairly straightforward and has little variation. Wait till she starts walking [tripping, slipping, falling]. I should know, I already have well-developed examples of my own…

When parenthood first happened to me nearly sixteen years ago, I half-jokingly told everybody who asked that I did not feel ready to be a father. I have a nagging suspicion that I did not manage to get ready in the intervening years. Emotionally, at least.

Somebody is awake. Gotta go.

Children

Lola and the Frog

June 7th, 2010
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Children of the age of technology acquire the weirdest mannerisms. Becky, for instance, has gotten into a habit of saying “LOL” when she is amused, rather than, you know, bursting out laughing.

I’m starting to call her Lola.

My other daughter, meanwhile, resides in pool heaven. She always has been very partial to water-based activities, and having a pool in her own backyard is a true boon to her.

She is now privately known as The Frog. Or The Duck. Or The Fish. Or whatever other water-dwelling member of the animal world comes to mind when we need to talk her into getting out of the pool.

I joined her on a couple of occasions over the weekend. I have to admit that was awfully pleasant. Even if the damn pool causes me more grief maintenance-wise than I ever expected…

Children

Skaters’ autographs

March 25th, 2010
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It occurred to me that my girls now possess skates signed not only by the Olympic silver medalists, but an Olympic champion as well. Becky participated in a 2004 edition of Stars Stripes and Skates gala with Nancy Kerrigan. Next year, she attended a skating clinic in NYC’s Central Park hosted by Sasha Cohen. Now, Kimmy has Oksana Baiul’s autograph.

Not that I am big on autographs, but it is a pretty cool little collection that has a chance to grow.
 

 

Children, Sports

The Brit

January 17th, 2010
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I wanted to put up another video of Becky, this one of her recent number at the school Performance Showcase, but I can’t make the Facebook video download script work in my Firefox browser.

The quality of that video is lacking anyway, so I have to rely on eyewitness accounts that it was a pretty good number. It also became apparent to said eyewitnesses (Natasha and Kimmy) that some of Becky’s expectations for coming back to the US did come true. She is widely known as “The Brit”, which contributes a fair share of her popularity among her classmates. Since I don’t personally recognize traces of British accent in her speech, I cannot truly opine whether she works extra on that when in school.

Children

Becky: Monologue of a …

January 10th, 2010

I don’t want to provide the name of this little performance out of concern for what type of future Google searches it may attract. You’ll understand.

This is something Becky did for a graded Drama class project at school a while ago. We decided to take a video cut for posterity.
 

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

 

Children

Becky’s photo-animation video

December 15th, 2009

My eldest daughter reminded me that I promised to put her latest artistic achievement up on my blog. That promise is about two months overdue now, but I’m sure she’ll forgive me. Here is the school project by Becky and her friend.
 

Children

Kimmy and Sudoku

June 15th, 2009

Kimmy had an advance birthday party last Saturday (we had a bit of a scheduling problem with our customary approach of celebrating after the date, not ahead of it). She and a dozen of friends – including Big Sis and one of her friends – enjoyed an hour of fun in a swimming pool. Kimmy says it was the best birthday party ever.

She received many gifts, among them an electronic Sudoku game.

The child is hooked! I never pegged either of my girls as being much inclined towards math – they are both creative artsy types instead – but Kimmy got a hang of it after the briefest of explanations from me and since then spent several hours completing the numerical puzzles and whooping in delight when she got them right. She plays the simplest level of difficulty so far, but after only a couple of tries she started saying that it was “so easy”…

I had not a slightest doubt that she would find Sudoku boring when I first saw the gift. She surprised me big time!

Children

Romeo and Juliet

June 10th, 2009

In lieu of any other content that I can provide at the moment, here is a recent masterpiece from my budding artist offspring, a music-video-ish interpretation of the immortal Shakespeare’s play by Becky and her friends.

As with her poem, Becky decided that my vast audience offers a chance for better publicity than her own blog readership. Therefore, posted with full author’s consent.
 

Children

Becky decorates

May 3rd, 2009

The little conversation about Juno reminded me of something that I wanted to post here on the blog.

Becky is always on the lookout for ways to spice up the decoration of her bedroom. Some time ago, she harvested a bunch of color-coded booklets from her school and taped them to the wall above her bed. They create a pretty fetching palette.

 

 

Just so you can read the titles of the booklets better, a close-up is provided on the right. Do click on the picture, would you?

I’m a proud father, yes I am.

Children, Family Album

Kids-related notes, 04/23/09

April 23rd, 2009

Kimmy has been asking Natasha to arrange for a “fun” birthday party for her this year (it’s still two months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking of one’s birthday, according to Kimmy), as opposed to our normal choice of a party in our back garden. Her interests fluctuate between a swimming party and a skating party. Quite a number of swimming centers in the area offer themselves for children parties, and the few available skating rinks can also be hired for such purpose.

Kimmy excels in both swimming and skating, which is even mentioned in her “bio” on our About page (and I made references to that fact in the past on this blog), so it is no wonder that she feels a swimming or skating party would be fun.

One little problem. None of her school friends can skate. And practically none can swim.

While I am not really surprised with the former – hey, I cannot skate, – I am really taken aback by the latter. For some reason, it strikes me as really odd that an 8-year-old child has not learned how to swim…

Becky, meanwhile, is participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program, which requires her to undertake an outdoors adventure complete with finding her own way in non-urban settings, setting up camp and sleeping in a tent. With a group of classmates – think Girls Scouts troop – and non-intrusive adult supervision. This weekend is the overnight “rehearsal”, somewhere in Kent. It baffles me how exactly going on a hiking trip and staying outdoors overnight can be practice for a hiking trip and staying outdoors overnight, but as with all of the trips that she’s been to lately, hanging out with friends away from parental control is what counts the most. If only she did not have to lug around the heavy back-pack…

The following weekend is the real thing, with two nights away from home, after which she should be getting the Bronze Award. Silver and Gold should follow in the coming years if she chooses to continue.

Children

A war poem

March 28th, 2009

Becky’s history curriculum this year includes World War I, and as part of her coursework, she was supposed to imagine herself as a Wilfred Owen and write a poem about war.

All I can say is that, parental bias aside, I find it amazing that such a piece can be written by a 14-year-old who never even watches movies about wars. It goes without saying that she got the highest possible grade for it.

     WE WILL RETURN
 
Among the cannons that explode,
We stand and pray and yearn,
After this fight, no matter what,
To home, we will return.
 
The gas creeps in, and kills the slow.
But there’s no time to mourn.
We will be strong, we will prevail,
To home, we must return.
 
The young ones die, so quickly here.
Too much they haven’t learned.
They came for fun, and saw the truth.
To home, they won’t return.
 
I see the blood, I see the guts,
These sights make my eyes burn.
The enemy is gaining strength,
I don’t think we’ll return.
 
The fireworks that light the air,
And make it swirl and churn.
They aren’t of the happy sort,
Can we please now return?
 
There’s no life visible at all,
There stands a lonely fern.
Everything has been so destroyed,
Dear God, can we return?
 
Our rations are diminishing,
There’s not a grain of corn.
We will not live for very long,
Will nobody return?
 
But we must keep our hopes alive,
Though we’re half starved and worn.
One phrase must keep our spirits up:
To home, we will return.
 

——————
Becky first wanted to post the poem on her own blog, but then decided that my larger audience would provide better publicity. As they say, printed with author’s permission.

Children

A recognition of sorts

December 20th, 2008
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Kimmy and I cuddled on the couch watching Stardust the other night, when my 8-year-old suddenly said:

“Daddy, you’re the warmest person in the world!”

After a momentary pause, she added:

“And the second funniest.”

“Second funniest? Who’s the first?” asked I with an appropriate doze of indignation.

She gave me the look which I long learned to interpret as Are you kidding me?

“Me!! Duh!!!”

Children

Presenting the newest recording artist

October 25th, 2008

One of the gifts that Becky received this year for her birthday was a recording studio experience (idea by Mom, funding by Grandma and Grandpa). She enlisted a couple of her friends as a personal gallery and went the other day to record three songs of her choice. I have to say that she somewhat erred in regards to picking songs commensurate with her vocal range, but she had a blast nonetheless. Below are a few outtakes from the occasion.

Note: YouTube screwed up the first 8 seconds of video in their “conversion” process, and I don’t have the willpower to try again.

Children, Family Album, Music

No career in acting, apparently

April 25th, 2008
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So, Kimmy wanted to stage a play tonight, and as soon as I walked through the door upon my return from work, I was conscripted to play the Prince in Cinderella. Becky, apparently, demurred, so the play had only four characters, of which two, the Evil Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother, were played by Natasha. Kimmy directed and played the title character.

Along the lines of Disney’s animated movie, I was supposed at some point to trip over something, drop the glass slipper, despair over its shattered remains and exult when Cinderella pulls the second one from her pocket and puts it on her foot.

Now, only a few of my readers might be aware that in my youth I actively participated in student theatrical troupes, both in high school and college. I tend to think that I have a bit of acting talent, having fairly successfully portrayed diverse characters from Nagg in Beckett’s Endgame to Lenin in Brest Treaty. The current director disagreed.

As I was tripping, despairing and exulting as the script demanded, Kimmy looked at me condescendingly and pronounced:

“Daddy, you are such a bad actor!”

Children