Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pinch me: It's really happened!

Inauguration Day in our patriotic duds. Here's to change; to being able to wave our flag with pride; to citizenship in a country in which the transfer of power in a hotly-contested election takes place not only inevitably, but peacefully. Yea, Constitution! Yea, Obama! Yea, U.S.A.!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where Dylan's at

You'll all be happy to hear that Dylan has two new obsessions: pirates and geography. He has -- entirely of his own initiative -- memorized the names and locations of all the states and has moved on to learning factoids. Dylan would like everyone to be aware that Alaska is far larger than it appears on all the maps of the U.S. and proffers the following picture that he found most helpful in proving once and for all that it's bigger than Texas:

The pirate obsession comes on the heels of Toby's especially enjoyable pirate party earlier this week. Here's hoping that these two new obsessions do not combine in nefarious ways with Dylan's current lack of income...

Also, an exchange this morning after watching him attempt flying side-kicks for the hundredth time.
Me: So, would you like to take some karate lessons?

D: (in that withering, tolerant voice reserved for parental stupidity) No way. I've already watched Kung Fu Panda. I'm way better than Po.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I've come up with possibly the most convoluted nickname ever for my child, but being as it's my child in question, said nickname has a perfectly rational basis. Here goes:

  • "Avery," by natural progression of human laziness, becomes monosyllabic "Aves."
  • I mentally spell "Aves" and recognize it as the Latin name for birds (class Aves).
  • Being as this little bird was born in the Netherlands, and being as I actually know the word for "little bird" in Dutch, "Aves" becomes "vogeltje."

So Vogeltje it is, you see.

Dylan thinks that "Monkeybear" is more appropriate since she's a monkey that we dress up as a bear.

We'll see which one wins out.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Weather. Yes, again.

I've never seen fog like we get here. I'm sure it exists in plenty of other places on the planet, but in everywhere else I've lived, if you get up in the morning and it's foggy you can pretty much bet the farm that it'll burn off sometime before you eat lunch.

Here, we get fogs that last for 48 hours and more. Case in point: we've had fog for the last two days now, and it's been so cold that the fog has frozen onto everything so that it looks like an ice storm came through. Jeff said that when he rode through the stuff to work yesterday morning, he looked down at one point and realized that he himself was covered in a layer of ice.

This morning on the way to school the sky was so pastel-y and everything else so white that it looked like the fakest high school play backdrop you can imagine -- like you let the freshman take watercolors to the huge rolls of paper and the sophomores take the canned snow to a bunch of sticks and then propped the latter up in front of the former. But it was all real and, truth be told, quite beautiful in a kitschy kind of way. Made me resolve not to get caught without my camera again because the sight was so unbelievable (but don't hold me to that resolution).

I'm amused that the lights on the interstate go out at 8:30 come hell or high water or a fog so thick that it's nearly impenetrable to headlights. One moment you're driving along navigating by a mental sextant delineated by a long line of orange streetlights, the next you're going 60 mph at an invisible strip of road that you'd darn well better have memorized because they're not going to spend valuable tax dollars on lighting a road when the sun could theoretically be up and lighting the way. O, the humanity.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Verily, ne'er hath a child loved a playmat as this one adoreth hers...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Silver linings

While driving up to Hilversum today during a clear 8:30 sunrise, I finally figured out how to cast a positive spin onto the fact that I'm living somewhere that has approximately six hours of daylight at this time of year. Since the sun is basically skimming the horizon it means that we've got about two hours of sunrise and two hours of sunset, protracting the so-called "magic hour" of perfect light into half the daylight hours.

Now I just have to get out my camera so that it actually matters.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Resolution complete

I'm setting the bar low this year. I have resolved to figure out what the heck the difference is between raisins and sultanas, both of which are marketed separately in this country. They look identical, but sultanas are about a third of the price. Lo and behold, I've already completed a resolution. Granted, it feels like cheating since I found an answer so readily on Wikipedia. I know the suspense is killing you, so the short answer is that they're different kinds of grapes. Amusingly, the reason they don't market sultanas as such in the States is because all our raisins come from that varietal of grape... proving that we have cheap, plebeian tastes.

More scintillating information on this important issue here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Quite Possibly the Worst New Year's Ever

We already knew we were going to be on a plane over the Atlantic for New Year's, but at least our sense of adventure and love of the eclectic were titillated by such possibility. As it turned out, the need to de-ice was followed by a mechanical failure of some sort that led to us sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia for six hours. SIX HOURS. With three kids and no food (except for lucky, breastfeeding Avery). I never, ever board a plane without at least a couple of cereal bars and something for the kids to drink. Except last night.

We were soldiers. Our ranks complained not. Thank god for the onboard personal entertainment systems that now carry Spongebob cartoons.

As it turned out, the enforced fast was fortuitous since poor Aislin started decorating the terminal with puke as they switched us from one plane to another. Taking care of her meant that I was blessedly at the outermost outskirts of the ensuing madness. Delta issued us some meal vouchers at 10:30 p.m. with the caveat that we still had to board the plane by 11:00. Hilariously, absolutely every restaurant in the terminal was closed but for one tiny Dunkin Donuts kiosk whose single employee was doubtless absentmindedly rearranging the half-dozen remaining donuts and looking forward to whatever he was going to do in half an hour when his shift was over. Then, out of nowhere, a stampede of approximately 150 angry travelers descended upon the poor fellow shaking vouchers in his face and demanding coffee, croissant sandwiches, and the last shabby pastries with the fervor of those who have been denied the ability to vent their frustrations to the people responsible for their situation... I have never seen anyone of Indian descent look so ashen. I didn't stick around to see if he would wise up and just start throwing food out into the crowd like a zookeeper with the lions to keep some distance between himself and that barking Dutchman...

By the time we took off it was nearly midnight Eastern time, but nobody gave a whit. The flight attendants' festive signage and silly hats were conspicuously absent by the time we replaned, and there was no announcement over the PA. Wise employees, those.

We landed in Amsterdam around 1 p.m. Ugh. The jet lag has lingered this time far worse than any other. The first person who tells me that I'll laugh about this story someday can... can... I'll come up with something really terrible when my brain starts functioning again.