Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Leo and Claudia broke out the new make-up kit (after Halloween special). They did the make-up themselves in front of the mirror. Freaked me out when I got home. The white hair stuff comes with the kit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


We saw the cousins for dinner. Leo was the only kid eating beets. I was so proud. Last night at dinner I told him that I'd take him anywhere to eat and that someday we'd eat silkworm cocoons and fried bees and raw crab and all kinds of yummy things. He rolled his eyes at me and feigned a yawn and patted his open mouth. I guess he's 6 going on 16. I was expecting teenage disdain at some point, just didn't think it'd happen so young.

Leo Video 2010-2011

Every year for Pop-pop's birthday, I make a video. This year, it just wasn't getting finished, between travels to the east coast, Europe and Hawaii and everywhere else. This is the long version - a shorter version will follow at some point in the not too distant future for those who can't sit through 11 minutes of watching someone else's kid.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

If you can't see it, you can go to:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Leo's trip to the farm with the girls

Leo went to visit a friend's farm with his "girlfriend", Foster, and her sister Grayson, and two other friends. They had a blast, holding rabbits and visiting the goats and other animals. Foster and Grayson's mom is a saint for taking 5 kids an hour south to do the trip.

Leo and Foster

The goats

Leo and the girls

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leo reads "Benny and Penny"

Porpor and Poppop helped Leo get his dream gift - a video camera spy watch. He spent the day trying out a zillion features and spying on us with video action that seems to work just as well in the dark as in daylight. It's a cool device. Anyway, for bedtime, instead of me reading him a book as usual, he read me "Benny and Penny", a cartoon book. He's practicing reading it as he will be reading it aloud for his class in a week.

If you can't see this clip, go to

Thursday, November 10, 2011

School Play - shadow puppets

Leo had his first school play yesterday. It was awesome. Just shows what a great teacher he has. Mr. Neiman made a school bus out of cardboard and the kids decorated it. They each made shadow puppets of Magic School Bus or Dr. Seuss characters. They each had lines and recorded their lines. They could just read them off the script. So when the shadow puppet play happens, they move the puppets around but don't say anything because they just play the recording from behind the screen.

Brilliant! It eliminates stage fright and the possibility of a kid forgetting their lines. This was the fourth performance, I think. They had done it a few times for the different grades at school to watch. Apparently the third or fourth graders were somewhat critical of them. Hopefully it was helpful criticism.

Anyway, Leo was "Thing 2" like from the Cat in the Hat. He has one long line at 7:33 into the play (in case you can't sit through it all!).

Negative numbers

At night, Leo and I cuddle in bed and talk about the day and then he goes to sleep. Tonight he told me that he knew what one minus six was. I said, "What?" He said, "negative five". I thought maybe someone had told him that so I said, "That's pretty good. What's one minus two?" He said, "negative one". I told him that was pretty cool that he could figure out negative numbers. He said he didn't really understand them and were they like a mirror? Yep, I said, just like a mirror.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Amersfoort and the bell tower in the Netherlands

I had a couple day stopover in the Netherlands to visit my friend Ernst and his 5 year old son, Ruben. Ernst teaches at Utrecht University and works in industrial energy efficiency. He taught me the first stuff I ever knew about power plants, nearly 20 years ago.

He lives in this planned community of some 15,000-20,000 folks. It's all funky architecture, tons of awesome bike paths, ring roads that make driving unpleasant and inconvenient, and schools and health facilities in the center of the community. The bike paths are great - bikes are separated from pedestrians as well as cars. You can ride side by side. No hills. It's completely pleasant and easy and the nicest way to get around. Even when you're as short as I am, and riding a bike made for someone 6 ft plus.

These houses are famous for their architecture:

We happened to be in Amersfoort on the last day they had the Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower open for tours. This is the second highest tower in the Netherlands and the x-y origin for Dutch maps, and it has a wonderful carillon. Ruben and I got to try our hand at carillon - you make a fist and hit the keys. Each key rings a different bell.

We got to climb the very narrow, dark, spiral staircase to the top and watch a carillon performance. If you can't see the video below, go to

P.S. Forgot to include this in the Denmark posting, but this was smallest thing I saw in Denmark - the bed. It was so small, I had to be careful not to fall off. That's my laptop on top for scale.