Friday, March 31
Thursday, March 30
Madeleine carves the orange pumpkin in anticipation of trick 'o treating in our neighborhood. There is a sufficient ex-pat community to support a pillow case full of goods. While neither kid has any idea what the festivities are about (nor do I for the record) they know a good house (mini Mars bars, Hershey kisses) from bad (apples or any kind of fruit stuff).
Wednesday, March 29
A favourite weekend activity is a group outing at KeGardens, located next to the river and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003. The grounds offer plenty of room to explore including rose gardens, seasonal plants and flora and the Palm House which is the largest Victorian glasshouse in existence. Rainy days are spent inside at the Climbers & Creepers inter-active play area. This photograph taken on a (typically) grey January Sunday afternoon followed most likely by home-made pizza or spaghetti family style.
Monday, March 20
Saturday, March 18
I thought it would be useful to post a map of London showing where we live. Our burough is Richmond, located in Southwest London and south of the Thames river. We are aproximately one quarter mile from London's Richmond Park which is about the same size as Central Park in Manhattan or 7.2 miles in diameter for those runners amongst us - it also has a history dating back to 1272 and is where Charles I brought his Court to escape the plague in 1625. Otherwise the neighborhood is very English with a large American and European ex-patriot community; it is also the home of Mick Jagger and is where the Stones and The Who got their start http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_upon_Thames.
Friday, March 17
Dave Ellis from Berkeley tours with Donnie Osmond, who sells out venues across the UK including three shows at London's legendary Hammersmith Apollo theatre. The crowd is 90% female equipped with flowers and panties to toss at their Utah Mormon. 'They Call It Puppy Love' never sounded so good. I took this photo from the front stage with 3200 film.
Wednesday, March 15
I entered this race in Hyde Park on a wing and a prayer, and crossed the finish line in one piece - barely. The five extra 5 kilograms on my mid-section resulted in a fairly unpleasant and painful experience the second half of the race. Middle age, also known as 'Masters' finishing line time of 40:28.
Sunday, March 12
Eric during a visit to Boston while raising dough for BlueRun Ventures. My return flight delayed 24 hours due to the British Airways catering services, who strike for all they're worth making hundreds of thousands of us innocents miserable. Despite Eric's natural alliance with labour, he is sympathetic to my cause: "may they eat their own dog food". My photo here captures Eric's lizard-like stare when laying down the law to his two sons and daughter - his children being more disciplined then mine.
Friday, March 10
Eitan was spotted last weekend in Richmond Park (29/7/03) by a movie agent and asked to try-out for a centrol role in the re-make of Michael Caine's Alfie as Ruby's son (Marisa Tomei''s character). Happily the Boy refused to repeat a single memorised line, ran-amuck around the office studio and then had a tantrum (all on studio tape). For his efforts, he was rewarded with McDonald's - pictured. (Nb while we were all disappointed that Eitan did not get the part, none more so than our nanny Letty who had visions of Hollywood celebrity and chauffered limosines).
Madeleine and I spent a day together searching out ice cream parlors in Richmond - not an easy thing to do in England in January, by the way. Sonnet was off somewhere with Eitan, so we shared a bonding moment together eventually locating a Hagen Daaz on the hight street. Madeleine's favorite: unquestionably strawberry. JO
Dulles Airport following a seven hour flight (July '04). Worse, our connecting flight to Ohio and Kelly's wedding delayed several hours, followed by another 3 hours in the air. 'Wiggy' does not quite describe the kids mental state, but pretty close. Eitan and Madeleine amuse themselves by running up and down the moving escalator while I run next to them apologising to passengers, who were generally amused by our wacked-out, jet-lagged children.
Summer '04: with long friends we vacation family style in Bear Valley, California. Our tradition has become to re-group every two years - it is worth remarking that the numbers have increased substantially since our first réunion in Paris for New Year's 1997 shortly after graduate school
Sonnet plays her new role 'mother', while Eitan seems quite happy to be alive (Oct'01). The early days were quite a transition at Lauderdale Mansion, and many staples were abondoned - restaurants, books, our nerves - but of course the trade-offs have been well worth it especially for moments like these. On occassion, Eitan completely cried out, would fall asleep in my lap, or we would have a family nap together. This a precious time before the (mostly friendly) competition arrived 16 months later.
Thursday, March 9
Sonnet and I were walking through St John's Wood in North London when I took this photograph around Halloween, 2001. I think we were both still in shock about parenthood - or at least, exhausted from lack of sleep. Katie flew over from NYC straight away to meet her nephew, while Sonnet's cousin Mora spent a month with us allowing Sonnet to get the hang of breast-feeding and some sleep. I do recall times when I watched the clock, appreciating for the first time the true length of a minute while my son screamed bloody murder.
These are my two favorite photos of the kids so far taken September 7, 2003. I was in the bathtub with my digital camera, while Sonnet blew bubbles overhead. I believe that it was the first time they had seen such a thing, which lends to their intense focus and then joyous reaction. There's nothing really I would change about this shot - even the bubbles floating down add to the story. (Nb the right was our holiday photograph 2003)
Sonnet, here on the opening evening of her Ossie Clark exhibition at the V and A, chose to wear a classic blouse by the designer. Ossie was an international style icon of the '70s and early '80s who brought flair and sex to rock stars and celebrities alike (Ossie fans include Mick Jager, Liza Minelli and Jimi Hendrix) and was immortalised in the David Hockney painting now on display at the National Gallery. Sonnet's party sees >600 guests on a splendid July evening in South Kensington including Kate Moss (fairy-like voice BTW), Marian Faithful and Hockney the painter. Sonnet's mother Silver warmly greets each and every one at the entrance of the museum. Bravo!
Eitan, full of pride and excitement and with his Bob the Builder lunch box, marched happily to his first day of Montessori at St. Mary's Church. Without a tear or whimper, he walks into his class of 15 children and immediately settles in to story-time, games and new friendships (we should be so lucky to be three again). Madeleine isjealous, but soon realises that she will have Letty all to herself, which partially makes up for the Big Gyp - but only just.
Eitan gleefully collects all the pillows in our house (10/6/2003), placing them carefully on the living room (hard) floor. He and Madeleine stand on the couch and launch themselves into the air, landing with a thud and squeel of joy. This has gone on for hours, and days on end.
On the hottest day in the history of the UK (12/8/2003), the (carless) Orenstein traveling circus braved public transportation to attend a birthday party in northwest London. While the adults sweated out the afternoon, the over-heated amped-out kids took advantage of the indoor "jumping castle", chocolate cake galore and general freedom to run amuck. All enjoyed a cold bath before early thankful retirement.
I'm sure that all the Orensteins and Jewish members of that side of the family are happy to know that our very own Madeleine Blaine has been chosen to be The Angel in this year's Christmas play 'Whoops-a-Daisy Angel' at St. Mary's Montessori. Our little drama queen is looking forward to belting out her song (parent's still remark- smirk?- at her shattering rendition of 'The Bossy King' at last year's seasonal finale).
It snowed yesterday for about one half hour. Though a day late for Christmas, it did allow the kids a much needed holiday break from the television set. Yesterday and today were otherwise spent at the historical town of Portsmouth, home of the Victorian docks and housing ancient war ships HMS Warrior (the world's first steel-hulled ship) and HMS Victoria (Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar). Of greater importance, our hotel had a pool. The kids and we are grateful for your holiday wishes, presents and love.
Eitan celebrated his third birthday today (official date: 30/9) at the Mortlake Town Hall with 25 children. With parents, it made for a festive London afternoon. Sonnet prepared Bob The Builder surprise snack boxes (whoopie cushions and wonder bread sandwiches included) and served cupcakes, chocolate cake (of course), ciapata sandwiches and other similar home-made fair. The kids ran wild from 3 to 6pm with time to wish Eitan best wishes. Presents to be opened tomorrow morning after pancakes.
Eagerly this morning Sonnet and I attend Eitan's school Christmas recital. With great enthusiasm the nativity is recreated in song, modern dance, costume and of course Baby Jesus. Our little hero was a bit timid (perhaps the 200 camera flashes going off together) but carried himself with dignity throughout despite the circumstances. He is greeted afterwards with hugs, kisses and smiles from his teacher the fabulous Miss Adams and us.
Last weekend Eitan celebrated his fifth birthday with eight locals, and a Sonnet-prepared agenda which maintained the kiddie schedule to the minute (Uncle Anthony helped keep everybody entertained). Festivities included story telling, ice cream sundae making, time trials (timed sprints up and down our block) and the piñata, which was lovingly made by our nanny Letty, Eitan and Madeleine the week before. For the piñata finale, Madeleine decided for some reason that she had to be naked (it was a battle to keep her knickers on), but any indecency was overcome by her powerful over-head swing. Fyi Eitan put out the candles in one mighty blow.
Sonnet's Smith friend Halley visits from Exeter. We spent our first night in London on Halley's living room floor in East Dulwich in 1997. The evening was notable as Diana died in Paris. Clueless to the tragedy I awoke, bleary-eyed, to a full-throttle outpouring of emotion for the gone Princess: flowers, grievance books, tears ! that did not let up for many months. Diana's death allowed the nation to morn and briefly shed its inhibitions. It has taken ten years to reconcile these memories against the British I have come to know - and appreciate - today.
Wednesday, March 8
Madeleine had never listened to music via headphones before when I took this series of photos of her. At first she was quite hesitent but eventually came around to The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Despite All My Rage'.... Now both kids fight for the computer jack when I am working from home.
Eitan stands in front of the Millenium bridge connecting the Christopher Wren cathedral and the new Tate Modern. We took the Tate-to-Tate boat Sunday morning, and Sonnet made a picnic which we finished in a small park in Chelsea and despite the windy weather (both kids chased birds). The Tate has Rachel Whiteread's white box expo on display, and Eitan and Madeleine were keen to summersault and race down the long sloped entrance way.
This is my first blog!
I took this photograph of the kids in front of the Royal Albert Memorial on a rainy Sunday afternoon in early January '06. We had spent the afternoon at the Science Museum, across the street from the V A where Sonnet was working on her book. Both kids were tired, and the last thing they wanted was another photograph by dad. Eitan simply refused to look at the camera while Madeleine - well, the picture says it all.
Jeff Orenstein, 8/3/2006