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School trips are fun

One way in which British school curriculum differs from its American counterpart is in the quantity of school field trips. As they bring variety to frequently dull coursework as well as often become an effective tool for learning certain topics, we are quite happy that our girls are exposed to…

Becky dances to YMCA

Becky dances to YMCA

It took me several days to figure out a good way to post locally stored streaming videos on my website. Trust me, every blogging software puts limitations on what you can transparently do, and what appears to be a simple task with embedding YouTube video becomes a lot less simple…

Less than active

Blame suburban living that keeps us away from the hustle and bustle of the big city or blame the expected decline of novelty in things that we can do. Blame the dull weather if you want. But our weekends have disappointingly become devoid of interesting family stuff. We lately got…

A license, finally

Well, well, well, look who is now a fully licensed British driver. Natasha has passed her road test! She swears that taking three lessons with an instructor has helped her, so I guess I’ll do likewise. As I said before, the point was to practice the right tricks that ensure…

Becky dances to YMCA

Girls singing beautifully

It has not been a great week, as we all fluctuated between unwell and well states. Natasha took through Tuesday to recover from Sunday’s malady, but was feeling fine and went for her badminton session on Wednesday. I was back in the office on Tuesday, but continue to have a…

Disparity in travel costs

The cost of a weekly economy car rental (automatic transmission, A/C, unlimited mileage) in Andalucía for a UK resident: £157. The cost of the same rental for a US resident: $650. Something to be said about the inter-EU travel. On the other hand, business-class-only MaxJet tickets cost almost 50% more…

Natasha’s Birthday

Thank you to all who wrote, called or otherwise expressed their adoration of my lovely wife on her birthday. I am happy to report that we celebrated the occasion with a bang. In more than one sense… We did not want to either leave the kids at home or bring…

Elementary?

Elementary?

With a tip of the hat to Jason Bennion. This blog is at an Elementary School reading level I don’t know whether to take this as an insult to my mastery of the English language or a compliment to the clarity with which I express myself… The content of this…

What’s in a name

Say my last name out loud in its anglicized pronunciation. Now, transliterate it phonetically into Russian. What do you get? Right – Бёрлак – which is exactly how it appears on the visa issued to Natasha by the Russian embassy in London. I suppose I can’t imagine a Russian embassy…

Nice Sunday, good Monday

Despite what I wrote on Saturday, Natasha and the kids did not want to waste a perfectly cold and unpleasant weekend. So, on Sunday, they picked one of Becky’s school friends and went to the movies. That is, they drove to the movie theater together. After which Natasha and Kimmy…

On football

Remember this ESPN commercial that ran during the World Cup last year?     On any given Sunday these days, I proceed from watching one football to the other and back. I can’t help but notice how the environment dictates the primary watching habits. While the last few years of…

Loose ends

Tying a few of old threads today. Since the last time I wrote about my year-long adventure with the gas service, it has finally reached a closure. It took over a month to properly register with British Gas that the meter at our house was not the one that was…

Thinking same thoughts

One thing I neglected to mention in my brief tribute to married life. After this many years, Natasha and I have progressed from finishing each other sentences to frequently thinking the same thoughts at the same time. Quite uncanny, I should say. There are obvious house-related things such as remembering…

Sleepover and fireworks

The invasion of adolescent girls left one member of the family exuberantly happy, the other exhausted, and the third excited but relieved. Me, I was exempt from proceedings, and holed up in my study occupying myself with various blog-related tasks (for instance, Loire Valley review). The most excited was Kimmy,…

Brief Halloween follow-up

Apparently, my Halloween lamentations notwithstanding, there is some fun on the occasion that can still be found in England. For instance, this expatriate blog suggests that trick-or-treating works to reasonable satisfaction in Hampstead (thanks to my old friend Tamila for the link). But here is a little damning fact about…

What Halloween heralds

Yes, it’s Halloween… which means that another year of married life is now in the annals of history. Natasha and I started the whole spending-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you deal very young, and in the intervening years have probably expressed our love for one another in every imaginable way. There is very little that…

Helpful Lincoln

My kids like to play general knowledge quiz with us. No specific rules, just various questions and answers. Since Kimmy is obviously a bit young to have answers to more advanced questions, we expressly target easier questions at her. At some point recently, I had the bright idea to ask…