Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photo phun

I used to send email to everyone whenever new photos were available. I'd prefer not to do that. If you want to get notified when I post new photos on Flickr, subscribe to my feed - you can see it on the side bar of my blog.

Merry Christmas from Ariel

Here's Ariel doing "Gloria" as fast as she ever can

Tilden Merry-Go-Round Christmas

We took our kids up to the Tilden Park Merry-go-Round in Berkeley last night. What a magical place at Christmas time. What a magical place! We love going because it feels like a real Christmas event, not a mass-produced Muzak commercial affair that you often get in the big shopping malls.

All around the merry-go-round are Christmas trees decked out with an incredible selection of ornaments for sale. We have a tradition of buying a new ornament for the kids each year (we plan to give them all their ornaments when they leave home), and this is a wonderful place to shop for them.

I didn't have my camera or I would include some pictures of the trees and ornaments. I asked someone working there, and she said that the owner spends all year searching the globe for ornaments, and then hires four girls to decorate all the trees. Each tree has its own theme -- there was one covered with
feathered ornaments, another one all white with silver stars and white peacocks. And the ornaments, oh my, so many to choose from. Kitschy and romantic and silly and artistic, tiny and huge.

I picked out a little school-bus ornament with spinning wheels for Michael. He grabbed it out of my hand and he sat there in my sling quietly spinning its wheels and investigating all its nooks and crannies for the next forty-five minutes, looking up every now and then to stare at the lights and the merry-go-round

The lawn outside of the merry-go-round is covered with lighted structures, and there is a 150 foot live pine tree bedecked with lights that you can see towering over the forest as you approach the merry-go-round. There is a little cafe serving hot cider, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn -- all the favorites of kid kuisine.

We discovered this event a few years ago, when Ariel was really into the merry-go-round. At that time the event was pretty low-key - the crowds were light, and Santa was riding the merry-go-round, waving, walking around and saying hello to kids, handing out candy.

Since then the word has got out. This year the parking lot was packed. Santa had to have his own house outside, and the line to see him was about an hour. But for all that, and even though it was FREEZING (OK, freezin for Berkeley), everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time (except for some of the staff, who seemeda bit overwhelmed with the crowds).

We're heading off to New Mexico on Thursday, for a big family Christmas. All my siblings are coming, some with their new beaus in tow. My Mom lives in a big log house in a small village in the mountains
called Chama. We'll be going skiing, lighting luminarias, and cooking lots of big meals.

Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Eager Michael

It happened overnight, and now Michael is into everything. He just started crawling about three weeks ago and he's already pulling himself up to standing from anything he can find. He is particularly into whatever I am doing. I'm folding laundry, he's pulling apart the folded laundry. I'm putting dishes in the dishwasher, he's crawling into the dishwasher and smearing himself in the muck. I'm sweeping the floor, he's grabbing the broom and playing with the dust balls. When I open the refrigerator, he crawls desperately for the door before I shut it, so he can get to the butter and smear it all over himself. I have to be super fast with cabinet doors or he's in there pulling out ceramic bowls and plastic bags.

Ariel wasn't this way. Really, not that I remember. But of course, she didn't play much by herself anyway, we were always carrying her around. But she was much more interested in looking; Michael must have, touch, and roll on his back and play with it on all fours. He must incorporate it physically.

I know this isn't unique or special, but it still is surprising and has unexpected impact on my daily life. I'm constantly racing to get into the fridge or through a door before the little tyke gets underfoot and is going for something he shouldn't be in.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I really really like the blog Creating Passionate Users. I'm going to add it to my blogroll it's so consistently good.

The latest blog about Alone Time rand the Myth of Keeping Up eally gave me a lot to think about. A lot. It's something I think many of us should pay attention to.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Michael is for the birds

Michael, of course, loves our cockatiels. What is surprising is that one of them, Moonshadow, kind of likes Michael too.

This is a great clip where Moonshadow patters across the living room floor while Michael goes after him. Notice that Moonshadow plays hard to get, but never just flies away. This is an ongoing game they play.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Prius Menace

The Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars have become quite popular in Berkeley, replacing the Volvo and VW van as the car of choice. I think this is great, more power to them (har har).

The problem is, I walk and ride my bike around Berkeley a lot, and I have two little kids, and these things are a menace. When they're driving slowly, say through parking lots, or coming up to a stop light, they're almost completely silent, only their tires making any sound. As a pedestrian I constantly find myself jumping to discover one of these things coming out of nowhere.

It seems to me they should require some kind of signature sound to let those of us using people-power to detect when they're nearby.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Nice Berkeley day

Every now and then I have just a great day being in Berkeley. This Saturday I was with my kids and we went down to 4th Street. The goal was to get the new Dave Barry Peter Pan book at Cody's, but outside of Cody's were the foster animal folks with cages and cages of wonderful cats. With two kids, what can you do, we had to stop and look around. Ariel got to hold the sweetest little cat, and that resulted in this beautiful picture:

Later I went to the grocery store, and as I was standing there looking at all the amazing produce, I was struck with gratitude that we had this little place, Berkeley Natural Grocery, which has 100% organic produce, it's quiet and sweet and the people are incredibly nice. So much better than the zoo at Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl.

I've travelled to a lot of places in my life, and I do have to say that Berkeley is one of my favorite spots. The weather, the people, the food, the quiet nature of the town - not Big City and not the 'burbs - all fit very well with me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

News from Baghdad

An article from today's SF Chronicle talks about a woman with the pseudonym Riverbend who has been blogging from Baghdad since 2003. It was a very interesting article, so I thought I'd take a look.

Here is a different view of the landscape than the one we're normally fed here in the USA. I feel like, just a bit, I can peek through the curtain of US media and see a different world. These are the words of someone who is living in the middle of it, and sees how it is impacting a community, families, a home.

Through her links, this blog also leads me to a whole group of people I never heard of before, sharing a world view that is not the one we see here. Finding blogs like this is very refreshing and seems incredibly important. Sometimes I get tired of technology, but sometimes, like in this case, it can bring us together and cuts through the layers and layers of space, time and misinformation that lie between us.

Michael the Magnificent

2006-07-21-0004, originally uploaded by David Mezzo Van Couvering.

I love this photo of Michael, because it shows his personality so well, and it also shows how much he can raise his eyebrow. He's done that since birth.

Michael is now 8 months old and so close to crawling (he scooches). He is a boy on a mission, and it's great to be his Dad.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


We just had a great time at Halloween. Nothing like having a six-year-old in the house to get things going. We had major decorations outside, cobwebs galore, a moaning ghoul and four jack-o-lanterns.

I love this photo of Ariel, it's so dramatic. And Ariel loves to be dramatic. What a cutie.