I come from a not-very-reproductive family: no siblings, no cousins. As a kid, to hang out with kids, I had to try, and I didn’t try too hard.

As a teenager, I babysat twice. The first time didn’t really count, as my charge slept the entire time. The second time, two toddlers alternated getting exactly what they wanted with screaming exactly what they wanted. I turned to dog-sitting and avoided any child-supervision tasks for the next 20 years.

In those 20 years I don’t think any kids missed out. My interactions with them consisted mostly of eyeing them nervously whilst trying to back away. In contrast, my husband can have a kid in stitches (the good kind) in a blink. We had a kid because of his parenting potential — not mine.

The helpful messaging I received about having a kid was (1) it’s different when they’re yours (+1 for having kids), (2) childless people have time and resources to do nice things like travel (-1 for having kids). Eventually I was getting less excited about (2), so I figured I’d test (1). There was a bit more thought to it than that, mostly revolving around overpopulation, the singularity, global warming, nuclear war, pandemics and in general how many happy years a child born now could have before humanity collapsed.

Being pregnant was not that exciting. When the oppressive malaise of the first trimester finally passed, I could have forgotten about the pregnancy except for having to stay away from things known to the state of California to cause birth defects (i.e. any paints or other toys I liked to play with), having to submit to check-ups, and finding that turning sideways did not help in squeezing through tight spaces.

The quirks passed me by. I did not have any interesting food cravings. I mistook the first N weeks of kicks for intestinal activity. Once I did finally recognize the kicks, I identified this more with “Total Recall” than some miraculous process of creating new life. I thought I’d never experience the things you are supposed to experience, when finally in the last night of pregnancy I got the nesting instinct: after constructing an outdoor storage rack for firewood (no paint applied!) and in the middle of scrubbing the shower at 10pm, I went into labor.

The next day was not the most joyful day of my life. It was highly unpleasant. After, I was holding my son, trying to get the breastfeeding thing figured out, and for lack of a clue was patting my son on the head, because that’s what you’d do if you had, say, a dog or a cat in your lap. The lactation nurse said ‘Stop doing that! You are distracting him.’ It took a few days for my son and me to figure out breastfeeding, but we did. The best thing about breastfeeding is that it wasn’t pumping, though of course you are pumping because you are breastfeeding. In any case, I found myself eagerly awaiting the 6 month mark, only to find out that the probably-pulled-out-of-thin-air guidelines were to breastfeed for a full year. We made it through to 9 months, and when we stopped, neither my son nor I really looked back.

The tabloids are filled with celebs-turned-first-time-parents gushing how being with their baby is the most amazing thing. Yes, the first smiles and other milestones were cute. But having failed to contain our son in a playpen, we were left holding/watching him nonstop instead. It was exhausting, and though at times interesting, most of the time it was not that interesting. Once, when my son was still a wee baby and I had surrendered him to full-time daycare, a colleague at work asked if I thought about my child all the time, and I admitted that no, in fact, I pretty much didn’t think about him while at work. The colleague said I was lucky, because he was never able to put his children out of his mind. I wondered if I was somehow heartless. Trying to get at the extent of my heartlessness, I would ask myself how distraught I would be if something happened to my son. Lest you think that this was some especially macabre train of thought, I have to say that my child’s carseat alone had 5 different tags in yellow and white warning about death or serious injury, followed by his highchair, his stroller, multiple toys, not to mention that things like blankets and plastic bags and blinds and outlets have posed a serious threat to his life throughout. Though I convinced myself I would experience unbearable pain should such a thing occur, my guilty thought was that it would be a waste of insane amounts of effort.

At my son’s 2-year-old doctor’s visit, the doctor cautioned: ‘Never be in a different room than your son. They can easily get hurt at this age. Even just taking a big step, they could break their leg’. I’m still not sure how exactly a kid is supposed to break their leg thus, but we obediently stood watch continuously, just in case. While not witnessing any leg breakage, we did witness ear-busting tantrums. Age 2 is not a time of harmonious joy with one’s child. There is a lot of frustration on the part of the young one who can’t express or understand many things. I tried desperately to occupy the time. We went to all the local zoos, museums, and construction sites many times over. Despite my efforts, my son much preferred his dad who could make any situation fun and silly. My slow progress made me wonder how I was expected to become this very significant person, a “mother”, to my son.

At the ’3 year’ annual visit, the doctor stayed mum about our having to keep watch on our son all the time. Wisely, we did not specifically ask either. Upon returning home, my son did not all of sudden self-entertain in the other room, but I could attempt to do so. Somewhere between age 3 and 4, things got very interesting. We loved making up stories together, exploring, playing, laughing and laughing and laughing. We are friends. It is good. He’s 5 now. He is a delight. If I ever stay late at work or travel, I miss him, genuinely miss him with a physical ache. I finally know what all the hoopla is about with having kids (though I’ve been warned that this phase ends all too soon and then you have a stinky, complicated teenager on your hands).

This does not translate into wanting another. A while ago a friend asked me to hold her baby while she looked for something in her bag. Awkwardly I held the baby in my lap as if I had never held one before.


The little prince and the magic naptime book

There once was a little prince who went to royal preschool. After every royal lunch at royal preschool, all the princes and princesses were supposed to take a royal nap. However, the little prince had not been able to nap a wink since he had turned 2, and now he was already 4. Seeing the poor little prince lay awake naptime after naptime, the teachers allowed him to bring a book to read while the other princes and princesses were napping. The prince would place the book in his cubby and retrieve it right at naptime. But sometimes the sneaky princess Camilla would snatch his naptime book and read it herself, making the little prince very sad. One day, the little prince brought a new book, with a shiny gold cover, one he had found hidden away in the back of his parents’ bookshelf. Sure enough, at naptime Camilla snatched the book and took it to her bed to read under the sheets. When the little prince got the book back, he thought he could feel its pages ruffle. The little prince joked:

‘You seem to be as upset that Princess Camilla snatched you as I am.’

To his surprise, the book seemed to tilt back and forth in agreement. The next day the prince brought the same book to preschool, and again princess Camilla took the book. She opened it under her sheets, but immediately started shrieking.

‘There are snakes and dragons in that book, and they are moving! Get it away from me!’.

The prince took the book and opened it to see what princess Camilla was talking about. There he saw a smiling dragon wink at him. From that day on, the prince brought the same book every day, but every time he opened the magical book, a different and wonderful story would unfold. And princess Camilla never tried to take his naptime book ever again.


The wizard who hated light

There once was a dark wizard who liked only the dark. He despised the light. He spent his whole life plotting how to get rid of the sun. One day, he used a powerful spell to summon the biggest, darkest clouds to cover his castle and the entire village below. The whole village grew very dark. However, the children of the village knew of a counter-spell. The counter-spell was a simple joyful song and dance, and as the children of the village raised their voices and danced, the clouds dispersed, and the sun shone once again.

Many happy, sunny days ensued, but the wizard was not idle in his dark castle. He was busy thinking up a plan that could not fail. He cast a spell on the earth to slow it down, to slow it down so much that the village and castle would always be on the opposite end of the earth from the sun, and it would be eternal night. The children came together and tried their song and dance, but it was no use. They dispelled the clouds, but beyond lay only the stars and the moon, no sun. They would have to make the earth spin faster again, but how?

Then a little boy had an idea. He called Santa Claus on the North Pole:
‘Santa, I need to ask you for something’.
‘Have you been good, my boy?’
‘Well… No, not exactly.’
‘But I’m not asking for me. I’m asking for all the kids living on my side of the planet’.
‘OK, go ahead then, what would you like?’
‘Santa, your reindeer fly at night, right?’
‘Yes, Rudolf leads the way’
‘Could I.. borrow them?’
Then the boy told Santa his plan. Santa and his reindeer flew straight down to the village. The boy tied Santa’s sled to a big tree, and told the reindeer ‘Giddyap’. As the reindeer pulled, the earth started spinning again. Slowly at first, but then faster and faster, until it was spinning just as it had before. As the earth spun back into sunrise, the wizard was caught in its rays, and crouched in pain:
‘No! No!’ he shouted, ‘The light, I can’t stand it’.
The children of the village saw their chance, they seized the wizard and threw him in the deepest and darkest dungeon. He never saw the light of day again — and actually, this suited him just fine.

Superhero preschool: Triangle Boy and Impervious Man
In the city of Zappow, where a lot of superheroes liked to live, there was a preschool for their superhero kids. In this special preschool, they could hone their skills in a safe and nurturing environment. Ice Girl had ice powers, just like Elsa in ‘Frozen’. Storm Boy could whip up a tornado. Lightning Girl could zap just about anything. And then there was Triangle Boy. He could… make things into triangles. Nobody was impressed by his powers, especially not the other kids at preschool. Then one day a a new villain, Impervious Man, arrived in town. The grown-up superheroes tried to stop him, but failed. Now Impervious Man was at the preschool gates. The kids knew they had to stop him themselves. Storm Boy summoned a tornado. It swirled around Impervious Man but did not sway him one bit. Ice Girl shot ice at Impervious Man. Impervious Man had skin so slick, the ice simply slid off of him. Finally, Lightning Girl zapped bolts of lightning at Impervious Man, but he merely laughed, as if they had tickled him. After his friends had run away, Triangle Boy faced Impervious Man alone. He didn’t quite know where to look, so he stared at Impervious’ shoes… and, being very anxious, accidentally turned them into triangles.

‘Ow! Ow! Ow! My Toes!’, Impervious Man cried and fell over.

Triangle Boy quickly summoned all his power and turned Impervious Man into a triangle. The police truck came and hauled Impervious Man to a high security villain holding cell. Back at preschool, all the other kids crowded around Triangle Boy:

‘How did you turn his shoes into triangles?’
‘Did you have to practice a lot? ‘
‘What else can you do?’
‘Can you show us?’

No one ever thought his powers were lame again.

The little boy and the boing-boing bike
There once was a little boy who loved to skip and hop. He would not walk, he would leap and bound, so high, that the top of his head would nearly touch the tree branches above the sidewalk. This came in handy when, for example, there was a kitten who got stuck in a tree. Its owners could call the fire department, OR, they could call the boy, who with one big jump, would snatch the kitten from the branch and deliver it safely into the thankful owners’ hands. However, as skilled as the boy was in jumping, he was terrible at biking. He couldn’t help wanting to skip and hop, often launching himself off of his bike, and SPLAT, face-first onto the pavement. After a few such mishaps, his parents permitted him to ride only a lowly tricycle. All his friends had long given up their training wheels on their big-boy- and big-girl bikes. They couldn’t help but tease the little boy on his tricycle and this made him sad. So one day, he decided to make a bike that he could pedal AND bounce around with. Instead of regular bicycle wheels, he installed the springiest, bounciest exercise balls on his bike. He took the bike for a spin. When he pedaled, the bike wasn’t the speediest, but when he added a bounce, SPROINK, BOINK, BOING, his bike made great big leaps, bouncing over other kids on their bikes. Whaaa? – the other kids exclaimed. Pretty soon everyone wanted a boing-boing bike. The little boy forgave his friends for teasing him, and made boing-boing bikes for all of them — for a fee :) .

The runaway shorts
There once was a little boy who had a pair of shorts. Or rather, he had this pair of shorts most of the time. The shorts, they liked to sneak off whenever they got a chance, for example, when the little boy took them off to go splash in the sprinklers at a friend’s house. Unhappy about having to go home in just his underwear, the little boy came up with a solution. When the shorts sneaked back into his room in the middle of the night, he quickly put a collar (belt) on them, attached a leash, and held on tightly to the leash. Now, whenever he went to school, he’d loop the leash around his wrist. At home, he would tie the leash to his dresser.
No longer having to worry about losing his shorts, the little boy was happy. But the shorts grew droopier and droopier with sadness, until one day, the boy could not even walk any more, the shorts had sagged all the way to the ground. The boy decided it was time to have a serious conversation with his shorts. He said:

‘Shorts, I can see you are sad, but I cannot let you off the leash, because it is quite embarrassing to have to walk around in public in my underwear.’

The shorts thought for a moment and then replied:

‘I know my disappearances had caused you grief. But I cannot change my nature, I feel that I will die in captivity.’

Suddenly, the boy had an idea. He proposed:

‘Let’s make a deal. Every night you are free to go wherever you like, but you have to be back in the dresser every morning and you can’t leave me in the middle of the day when I need you.’

The shorts replied:
‘Throw in some Ocean Breeze detergent into my regular wash, and you’ve got yourself a deal. I hear the lady shorts are crazy about that scent.’

‘I’ll talk to my parents and see if that can be arranged.’

And the boy and the shorts lived happily, smelling of ocean breezes, until the boy outgrew them. Before putting the shorts in the giveaway bag the now not-so-little-boy sewed in a special tag: Let run free at night. Prefers Ocean Breeze detergent.

The explorers who go toot
There once were two young explorers who had not a lot of money but really liked adventure. Because they spent the little money they had paying their way around the world, they could afford to buy nothing but canned beans to eat. Which meant that they went toot. A LOT.

On one of their adventures they stumbled upon a pyramid in the middle of the desert. They stepped inside and as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they noticed a sphinx guarding a passageway. They were sure that great treasure lay beyond, but as they eyed the passageway, the sphinx spoke in a deep, ancient voice:

‘No one can pass who does not know the secret password’.

The explorers looked at one another. They consulted their notebooks. They tried all the secret passwords they had written down:

‘Gimmeyogold?’ stuttered the first explorer.

‘NO’ said the sphinx.

‘Steppasayd?’, tried the other.


‘Entramos nos’?


As time went on, and password after password failed to satisfy the sphinx, the two explorers found they could hardly contain their toots any more. TOOT went the first explorer. TOOT-TOOT, went the second. Suddenly, the sphinx rose on its front paws and said:

‘You are correct. King Toot’s secret password was toot-toot-toot! You may now enter his secret treasure chambers.’

Loaded with treasure beyond their wildest dreams, the two explorers resolved to never give up what had gotten them rich in the first place: eating beans. Hence they always remained the explorers who went toot, only going on much better funded expeditions.

Extra: Superhero preschool: Vivian
A few months after Triangle Boy defeated Impervious Man, a new girl started attending superhero preschool in the town of Zappow. Her name was Vivian.
‘Vivian? What kind of an ordinary name is that?’, asked Ice Girl.
‘What powers do you have?’ questioned Storm Boy.
But Vivian would not say. Sometimes Vivian would try to join the games the other kids played – like hide-and-seek. However, she was too good at finding where others were hiding.
‘Do you have x-ray vision?’ Lighting Girl asked. ‘Kids with x-ray vision are not allowed to play hide-and-seek!’
But Vivian was also really good at beating everyone at checkers and chess. It did not help her popularity. So she played on her own for the most part.

One day, a new threat came to Zappow. It was a giant octopus. With its huge tentacles it grabbed hold of skyscraper after skyscraper, lifting them up and slamming them back to the ground. The grown-up superheroes could do nothing to stop the giant octopus. The preschool kids tried their best too, but the octopus was so huge, that it only slightly recoiled at the ice/lightning and other powers the kids threw at it. Triangle boy tried his best, summoned all his power, and turned the octopus into a triangle. But the octopus’ body was so pliable, that it just squished back into its normal shape.

Everyone decided to run, except Vivian, who hid behind a wall, as if she was listening to something. She called after the other preschool kids:
‘Wait! I think I know why the octopus is destroying everything!’
‘Do you remember the new and unusual octopus we saw during our field trip to the aquarium yesterday?’
‘Yes? Why are you talking about field trips now?!’
‘I think it’s this monster’s baby. She’s looking for it and smashing everything in her way! Let’s bring the baby octopus back to her’.

So Storm Boy whipped up a fierce wind to bring them all to the aquarium in a jiffy. Ice Girl broke open the tank the baby octopus was in, while Vivian took the octopus into a bucket. Storm Boy took them back to where the monster octopus was turning over building and uprooting trees. Lightning girl threw a bolt nearby to get the monster’s attention. As the octopus turned to face the kids, Vivian held up the bucket with the baby octopus. The monster immediately grabbed the bucket, cradling its baby and disappeared as quickly as it had come.
‘How did you know what the monster wanted?’ Ice Girl turned to Vivian.
‘She’s a mind-reader, of course!’ Triangle Boy exclaimed, finally realizing Vivian’s secret.
And so, the preschool kids now understood why Vivian had not wanted to reveal her power. And they started to accept her more, gradually.
‘Well, that’s a cool power’, admitted Storm Boy, ‘But I’m still not playing chess with her’, he concluded.

Extra: The little boy and the boing-boing bike and the explorers who go toot on a cruise ship
There once was a cruise ship. It was the BIGGEST, HUGEST, most ENORMOUS cruise ship, at least the captain claimed so. On its maiden voyage, it was to set out to the arctic, for a tour of icy wonders. As the passengers were boarding, a little boy came pushing along a strange bike — instead of regular wheels, it had exercise balls. The captain said:
‘Halt! No vehicles allowed aboard the cruise ship.’
‘But is this not the biggest, most vast cruise ship ever built?’ – asked the boy.
‘Yes, so what of it?’ – replied the captain.
‘Well, how could the most awesome cruise ship ever not accommodate a little boy’s bike?’
‘Oh, all right, bring it aboard’ – the captain gave in.

It was already on the first day at sea that the little boy took out his boing-boing bike for a spin on the ship’s vast decks. Sproiiiing-boing-boing-wheeee….. SPLOOOSH. The ship’s rails, which were perfectly adequate for keeping passengers and strollers in, were easily hopped over by the boing-boing bike. The alarm horn sounded, and life rings were thrown from the deck down into the ocean. In the meantime, the little boy had discovered that his boing-boing bike… floated! Its big exercise ball wheels gave it enough buoyancy, and by pedaling, the little boy was able to cruise along the water’s surface. In his excitement, the little boy started shouting:
‘Hey, look what my bike can…’.
But the angry captain cast a net over the little boy and his bike and unceremoniously reeled them in. He sent the dripping boy back to his cabin and confiscated the boing-boing bike.
A few nights later, off the coast of Newfoundland, when no one expected it (least of all the captain who had fallen asleep at the helm), the cruise ship struck an iceberg. It started to slowly sink. Everyone piled into the life rafts, it seemed that everyone was safe, except… for one little girl who had somehow fallen into the ocean and was quite a distance away from the life rafts. The little boy saw his confiscated boing-boing bike floating nearby. He jumped on it with one of his big leaps and quickly pedaled over to the girl, pulled her onto his boing-boing bike, and brought her back to safety.

Just as the captain was commending the little boy on his bravery, a crewman exclaimed:
‘Captain, sir, there are still 2 passengers missing!’.
The cruise ship was now almost completely under water, and the brave captain donned his scuba diving gear to search for the missing passengers. But how could he find them? The ship *was* vast, after all. The two missing passengers, we know them well, were the explorers who go toot, on a mission to find the legendary diamond-haired polar bear. They had eaten too many canned beans for dinner and were fast asleep when the ship started to sink. Now they found themselves under water and in big trouble. They nodded to each other, and with their last strength, let out two giant toots. The toot bubbles rose faithfully exactly above their location. The captain noticed the bubbles immediately, and dove down, rescuing the two explorers. He was wearing his scuba gear and so did not smell or suspect anything (fortunately).
‘How smart of you to save your breath and signal to me with air bubbles!’ he told the 2 rescued explorers.
‘Eeerrrm, yes.’ stuttered the explorers who go toot, happy that they were alive to continue their adventures… on another trip.

Sep 202014

Week 1: [Still in an excited state, best for adventure/exploration travel] Where shall we go today? Bike tour? Explore the old ruins? What if I just go to the beach? Look at me I’m on the beach. I’m relaxing. I’m reading a book. Should I post about reading a book on the beach? If I go online, will I need to deal with work? Maybe I’ll do just a bit of work? Or maybe I’ll distract myself with some fun activity [repeat].

Week 2: [Work worries have receded, with secondary worries flooding in] What have I done with my life? Am I the person I want to be? What is that spot on my shoulder. Should I have it checked out? I resolve to be better. Resolve to do X,Y,Z when I get back, have had years to do X,Y,Z.

Week 3: [Secondary worries have receded, complete relaxation has set in] What should I have for breakfast? Which beach do I go to? Which book do I read? If I go kayaking will I still have time to finish reading my book? I’ll just bring it in the kayak. Yeah.

Last week: [Desperate attempt to really enjoy the remaining days] Today is the nth day until the vacation is over, gotta enjoy it. But it will be over soon. But I gotta enjoy it. Remember this. It will be over soon.

Sadly, any vacation < 4 weeks does not contain a proper week 3.


Despite a cursory understanding of bluescreen technology, I still worry…


Disclaimer: I don’t know yet how my kid will eventually turn out (this has worked up through age 4). Follow tips at your own risk. Results may vary.

1. Forget button-down shirts and corduroy pants. Your (male) kid needs nothing more than sweatpants and T-shirts. Chances are they are not fashion-conscious, and the main thing is that they are comfortable while doing their main thing, which is running around. Without zippers and buttons in the way, they can dress themselves earlier (it will still take unfathomable amounts of time though). The other great thing about sweats and t-shirts is that they are comfortable enough to sleep in, which brings us to:

2. You don’t need to change your kid into pajamas. If you do change your kid into pajamas, they’ll just get yogurt or jam or whatever on them the following morning, at which point you’ll need to throw both the pajamas and whatever clothes they were wearing the day before into the wash. Instead, have them sleep in their sweats/shorts and t-shirt. This also expedites the getting-ready-for-bed process. “But my kid takes a bath every night! So we put on pajamas anyway” you say. Indeed, that brings us to:

3. Your kid does not need to bathe every day. You might take a shower every day, and no doubt people close to you appreciate that. But grown ups are stinky. We are. Young kids are not. There are really just the input/output areas to take care of. Wet wipes are a wonderful invention; keep a box by the potty. Also, when your child has ear-to-ear peanut butter because of their creative way of eating toast, a wet wipe is a good solution.

4. You can cut your kid’s hair yourself. Some parents enjoy herding their kid into the car to run little errands. If that’s not you, there is one thing you can do right at home. No matter how bad your hair-cutting skills, chances are your kid will still look better than other kids with months’-worth of grown out hair. Order a hair clipper. It might come with a DVD. This DVD will have the following instructions. Step 1: seat child in front of laptop playing a movie Step 2: cut child’s hair because child will be very still.  ”Really?” you ask. Yes, and the reason is that you can:

5. Have super-simple screen-time rules. Do you look forward to arguing with your kid about whether they can watch a movie or play with their tablet? No? Simply implement (very, very early on) a strict rule: they can watch a movie, but after dinner. Make a few, consistent exceptions in order to achieve other goals. If any desired behavior (sitting for a haircut, potty training) permits screen time, this behavior will be more readily adopted.

6. You can avoid watching kid cartoons– even avoid watching the same things over and over again. Admit it: Thomas the Train has some deep psychological issues, and Curious George needs constant adult supervision. If you emphasize watching things together, but then steer toward things you can tolerate, chances are you’ll end up having  a good time. ‘How It’s Made’ is pretty much perfect — interesting for kids and adults alike, but only ~20 minutes long. One family has even made it to Season 15.

7. Listen to Pandora exclusively. Why Pandora? You can’t pick what song is going to be played next! You can easily explain this to the kid. This takes some commitment (i.e. no playing your own playlists in the house). The ‘children’s folk music’ station is fun (once you customize it), but you’re likely to find that your child enjoys classical, classic rock, heavy metal, blues, etc. And voilà, you are not having to listen to the same kids song over and over again.

8. Tell Stories. You can tell stories in the car (in case you forgot to bring a book or a toy, which in the case of the lazy parent is likely), when your child is not cooperating (“Did I tell you story about the little boy who wanted to keep drawing and didn’t come to dinner? No? Well [abridged version] he got so hungry that without even realizing it he ate crayon after crayon until he had none left!”), or when they are really upset (your child will stop their protest because curiosity will overtake them). For lazy-parent extra bonus points, take turns with your kid telling the story, why should you do all the work?

9. Give up on trying to get your kid to eat what they don’t want to eat. Books/pediatricians’ leaflets will tell you that it can take 14-17 times for a food to be served to a child before the child starts to eat it. That statistic is probably made up and is repeated because it sounds good.  More realistically, your child might be a teenager before they eat new foods. In the meantime, do something for your sanity. Look up the nutritional info on things your child *does* eat. Did you know that chocolate is a good source of iron? Tofu alone takes care of all the amino acids and many  minerals. Marinara sauce (hello pizza and pasta!)  and miso have Vitamin K (take that green veggies!).

11. Institute chocolate time, separate from meal time. Dinner should be something your kid contemplates on its own merits, not as an obstacle to getting dessert. At chocolate time, they can pick among whatever kinds of desserts are in the house (usually chocolate).

12. Your kid isn’t behind; other kids’ parents are too forward. Do your friends’ 3 year olds count to 1000, speak 3 languages, and read Shakespeare? If your friends are too in your face about this, you could stress yourself and your kid out by working toward the same level of achievement. Instead, spend less time with these friends and more time lazing around and doing fun things with your kid.

Good luck!

The mattress

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Dec 102013

Parenting is fraught with uncertainty about the goodness of one’s choices, but this one so far has panned out:

It’s a mattress, a full-sized one. I first spotted one of these in a toddler bedroom of a friend. When we left all our stuff behind to rent a furnished house, we didn’t bring our son’s crib (that converted to a toddler bed, etc.) Instead, we went to IKEA and got a mattress and put it directly on the floor. We were a bit concerned about our 22-month old sleeping on a big bed, but although it was big, it wasn’t very high. So at worst, this could happen:

And if it ever did, our toddler never said. 2+ years later, bedtime stories are still comfy for all involved:

And not a play date goes by without some jumping on the bed:

The only one out of a spot is the monster under the bed:

Phone home

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Oct 292013

As years go by it seems more and more magical that I can phone “home”.


The only thing standing between me and my enjoyment of all-you-can-eat-every-day-deliciousness are people with a food conscience.


I would still be happily mirroring unawares if I had never read an article such as this one. Now I’m often self-conscious about it.



Sometimes while listening to talks (usually attended by computer scientists and physicists), my mind starts to wander, and… [snip, snip, snip]:

Of course I totally respect individuals’ hairstyle preferences and trust that they are better than mine and don’t mean to imply anyone should do anything with their hair (except that if your fro measures more than 2′ in diameter you probably shouldn’t sit in the front row unless it’s amphitheater seating).
But the reason I bring this up is that recently at the most excellent German-American Frontiers of Engineering meeting:

There was simply nothing to be done.

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