Madeleine gets wrapped during Sonnet's birthday party festivities. Mostly she has done an excellent job accepting Eitan's center stage today. There were some tears this morning on our return from football, when she blurted out that "none of Eitan's friends will play with me." But I assured her that I would be there for extra time with her, and that she too would receive a present. This, and a promise of her fair share of cake seemed to do the trick.
Saturday, September 30
Today, Eitan's birthday, is also the day of his party which we gamely host at our house. Seven boys and one brave girl join Eitan and Madeleine for, and I consider this carefully, a "free-for-all." Unlike prior fairly mellow gatherings, a group of six year-olds together is a chaos of wrestling, screaming, bull-fighting, and wild emotions. The kids re-united immediately hijack Sonnet's to-the-minute planning and run amuck. We watch in wonder. At one point I find myself in the scrum and hear a most fearful cry: "Hit him in the willie!" which all boys then aim for with their feet and fists. Somehow the two hours pass, in what feels like four, and the parents arrive to pick up their little angels while Sonnet and I shake our heads and promise each other never again.
Some entertaining commments from the birthday:
Me: "who knows where the birthday cake is from?"
Samual on the cake: "I want the eye! No, the ear!" A fight breaks out over the nose and lips. Ghastly.
Imogen, the only girl and sitting on my lap while the boys rough-house, turns to me and states flatly: "At school, Eitan is mad."
Tobias and Harry play catch with Madeleine's doggy. She screams murder until I arrive to save doggy.
Bertie: "I can chew a banana with my eye-lids."
Friday, September 29
Madeleine, angry with me for having her make the bed: "You are such a lazy lunker!"
Me: "Well, don't you think I work too?"
She: "If you were an airplane pilot, you wouldn't be so lazy."
Me: "Oh? Why is that?"
She: "Airplane pilots work so hard that they sweat all the time and have to take naps!"
Eitan today, one day before his sixth birthday, patiently sorts out two large bags of Milky Ways and Kit-Kat bars to take to his school classmates. I ask him if this has been approved by his teacher, which it has not. "Everybody does this, dad!" he asserts, welling up with emotion. A weak arguement by any stretch, but his anxiety about not spreading birthday joy over-comes my doubts. Off the kid goes - loaded with a bagful of grocery store stimulents more potent than anything I could otherwise find on the street.
Thursday, September 28
Christian Wright was a bit disappointed about my last blog of him, taken in a pub in London where we watched the World Cup together (England v Trinidad-Tobago. We won.). Now, caught in his natural habitat in San Franciso, on his way to dinner at Delfina with me where he knows the waitresses who love him, the kid is living large. Christian is an Executive Director at CIBC World Markets, where he has been since '95 making the Big Bucks. Regardless of his cash flow, our boy has retained his Berkeley roots and remains a champion of liberal causes (he was a cheer-leader and fundraiser for the New York Democratic party when we there together from 1995-97). We now exchange enthusiasms about English football (ok, soccer) and Cal football (er, American football). We get worked up about this stuff. A similar taste in music is also fun - favorites today include the Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, Razorlite and most acts with an edgy guitar and British twang.
"Real chili hot stuff" - words that end a barrister's livelihood. Now I am all for the good read of People Magazine or Tatler, but otherwise would never consider posting a scandel unless, of course, it somehow presents a certain - shall we say - cultural insite. That is why the case involving Brazilean cleaner Roselane Driza is so involving. According to our investigative press and the Old Bailey, two London immigration judges face dismisal after a "lurid" blackmail trial exposed their love triangle with Driza, a failed asylum seeker, who worked illegally for both of them. Evidence includes text messages, including "chili", and video used for the blackmail. Driza, you see, was convicted of stealing two tapes of judge #1, made of himself having sex with two women, one of them Driza and the other judge #2. If that were not enough, Driza was once married to a serial killer. She faces some jail time and deportation (we hope). According to one judge at the Old Bailey putting a positive spin on the affair: "It does rid us of our rather fusty image." Amen, brother.
Madeleine this morning over cornflakes informs me that she had an ear-ache on our plane ride to America.
She: "Do you know why I had an ear ache dad?"
Me: "No - why?"
She: "Because the plane was moving so fast it pulled my skin. My ear too."
Me: "Well, that sounds pretty painful."
She: "Don't worry dad - there wasn't any blood."
And thank goodness for that!
Wednesday, September 27
Paul and I in Oxfordshire.
The slight "detours" occur after the batteries on Paul's GPS navigator quit.
"It's only 110 kilometers - how hard could that be?"
Paul, a fearless Dane, and I set out for Oxford yesterday in perfect cycling conditions, ie, no rain. Paul and I met during his company Shipserv's series b financing, which was about $6 million. Paul founded ShipServ, an internet shipping supplier, in '99 and today the company sees some $1 billion of transactions on its exchange p.a. Not bad. As for the bike ride, Mr Ostergaard was ready with the latest hi-tech bike and gear, which included navigational GPS, heart-rate monitor, pace settings, distance, speed, gradient, caloric and other trackers... this plus his mobile communicator (run off Microsoft) made us his roaming office. Meanwhile my mountain bike felt like it was dragging a bathtub. We arrived in Oxford 8 hours and 109 km later, resting at All Souls College (pictured) and very happy to take the return train to Paddington and home. Paul captured some interesting data on us, which can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/zt5yq.
Sunday, September 24
Me: "Do you know where babies come from?"
Eitan: "Well, they start as a dot in the mummy's tummy. Then it grows and grows until it has arms and legs. It becomes so big, the mum knows to bring it out."
Me: "How does the dot get there?"
Eitan: "She eats it."
Two years ago, Sonnet discovers a working farm in Bucks where we and the kids can pick blackberries, pears, plums and of course apples, depending on the time of late summer. Today, we return for the raspberries, which are red and fat in the warm Indian summer morning sun. Eitan and Madeleine compete to fill their baskets - I charge Eitan 1p per berry, which at first he's OK with, then his sensibilities take over. Upon being fired, I take my services to Madeleine, which draws a howl of protest from him. Dana, Nathan and Dakota join us for a picnic on the farm grounds, while Sonnet prepares to make a fruit tart for tonight. Lucky us!
Madeleine systematically pours water on to the floor during bathtime tonight. When discovered: "really, mom - it was an accident."
Friday, September 22
One more from the runway. Sonnet takes this photograph during Fashion Week in New York. The clothes are designed by Proenza Schouler, who is profiled in Sonnet's book.
Roger and I spend a fun few days together in Paris, finishing last night at a neighborhood restaurant in the 8th arrondisement where we gorge ourselves on foie gras and sardines while drinking red wine. During the day, we run up the Seine to La Cite and Notre Dame cathedral, then return through the Louvre and Touileries Gardens. The weather lovely and warm, with the trees starting to show their first autumn colours.
Wednesday, September 20
Roger visits London, Paris and Madrid for Microsoft, where he is Product Manager, client-exchange services which generates some $1.2 billion of revenue for Redmond. During this research trip, Roger and his reports observe email usage in a sterile environment through a one-way mirror to determine customer habits. This despite lovely Indian summer weather. I think of the interrogation room on Law & Order. In between we have some time to goof around and yesterday we saw the Modigliani exhibit at the Royal Academy. Today, we travel to Paris for work, and stay at the Le Faubourg in St. Honore. Roger was the best man at my wedding and a treat for us, and the kids, to see him and thriving.
Natalie and Justin announce the the birth of their third baby, a 8lb, 2oz boy. As Justin notes, the baby will be named "when one of us gives in." Congratulations!
Tuesday, September 19
Kambiz and Dareya
Dareya Foroohar celebrates her birthday with her friends and family in Hampstead, London (15/9/06). Cake, presents and sweaty kids pile up over the course of the afternoon, where considerable energy is expended on the jumpy castle and slides. Mum Rana is expecting in several weeks, and earns my vote for "Super Woman" (did I mention that she is also writing a lead story for Newsweek on the BP scandel?).
From Sonnet, the designer here is Mary Ping, who showed her collection on models at the Paul Rudolf foundation, a modernist home on the upper east side. Mary is about 26 and graduated from Vassar College.
Sonnet returns Saturday morning on the red-eye, following a week in New York next to the cat walk (and back-stage). We decide to surprise her at the airport, 6:00AM. The kids set aside their clothes the night before, and promise not to be grumpy ("this is going to be a FUN thing" I say). Accepting the spirit of adventure, and pitch black start, we pile into the car and drive to Heathrow (Madeleine: "whoa, dad, it's really dark out there!"). Unfortunately, Sonnet's flight is delayed and I run out of stories about two hours later. Still, all is forgotten (forgiven?) when we see mum walking towards us with a happy smile.
Sunday, September 17
I post one last landscape from Martine's ranch. This shot taken in the early afternoon and precedes a storm front which eventually brings lightening and hail. To the right, the sky is black and we can see rainfall across the Rockies. The dirt road angles to the east side of West Spanish Peak (elev. 13,625'). The Ute indians called the twin mountains the Wahatoya, meaning "Breasts of the Earth."
Cousin Susan Lee Schadey gives birth to a healthy and loud 7lb, 7oz Joseph Lawrence Schady (Joey) in Westchester, New York. Congratulations!
Thursday, September 14
Madeleine, from back of the car: "I want to be rich."
Me: "What would you do with all that money?"
Her: "I would buy one bag of crisps and a lolly."
Eitan on what he will will eat at today's birthday party: "I'm going to have a bit of birthday cake, a cup cake, sausages and an omelette!"
Me: "Madeleine, what does your milk taste like?"
She: "Apple juice."
Me: "Well, that's interesting."
She: "Do you know where milk grows?"
She: "It comes from the milky way, where it is bottled."
Sonnet asks Madeleine to clean up her lunch crumbs. Madeleine, on floor with a sponge and forlorn: "I'm just like Cinderella!"
Eitan and I play 20 questions
He: "Does it have a tail?"
He: "Is it a cat without a tail?"
Madeleine, refusing to eat the dinner I've made: "This is the worst dinner I ever ate."
Madeleine looking at the breakfast I've prepared: "I hate it."
Madeleine re my home prepared chicken: "that's disgusting, dad."
Eitan matter-of-factly informs me that he will quit sucking his thumb if I stop drinking beer.
Last night Madeleine draws a picture for Sonnet's Saturday return, after lights-out. We argue about this for a bit and I explain she can continue in the morning. I return later to find about 40 crayons and paper hidden beneath her bedsheet. She sound asleep, of course.
Eitan, reading with his head in hands: "Aw, dad - this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me!" (14/9/06)
Madeleine to me: "I'll always love you dad - even when I'm a teenager."
I ask Madeleine about the paint on her hands. She, very gravely: "Honestly dad, don't get involved with this." (14/9/06)
Tuesday, September 12
The reception kids gather in front of their class room, and await entrance into school. The parents stand around and gossip (several mums shed tears today, the first day) while the five or six dads (a rare sighting) huddle together in a corner of the playground talking football. We all know where the power is here, and it ain't with us. Ms. Scotland is the headteacher.
From the school website:
"we area county primary school with approximately 450 children on roll. It was opened in March 19XX on the site of what was Stable House and is set in large, attractive grounds near Richmond Park. There is a playing field, orchard, pond, spacious playground and an outdoor heated swimming pool, which was built with funds raised by parents.
Many classrooms overlook the orchard and four have their own access to it. There is one large hall, which is used as an assembly hall and dining room in addition to being used for gym and drama.
We aim for excellence in all we do and we provide a structured environment in which children and their interests are warmly welcomed."
Today is Madeleine's first day of reception (kindergarten). She joins her brother, who started Year One last week. Madeleine was rather matter-of-fact about the Big Occasion, and demonstrated little concern or anxiety about her transition from Montessori. Of course Aggie helped her along and we both give lots of encouragement to the future scholar. With a kiss and a wave, Madeleine marches into the classroom with the other students, guided by the very sensible Class Teacher Mrs. Sedden.
Monday, September 11
Sonnet has my digital camera this week in New York, where she is attending the Fashion Week shows. The kids get a break. On her list is many of the 20 designers profiled in her upcoming book "New York Fashion" for the V&A press, which will become an exhibition at the V&A sometime next year. Stay tuned. As for me and the kids, we exhaust ourselves over the weekend at two birthday parties, Snakes 'n Ladders, and various run-around activities. At bday #2, Eitan's new khaki pants rip right down the middle and he is inconsolable (I tell him the Hulk does same). Madeleine does not eat food as she misses mum. Last night I watch "Path to 911" on BBC television anticipating today, 11/9. It airs this evening in the USA.
The Bears rebound Saturday, defeating Minnesota 42-17 at Memorial stadium in Berkeley.
Thursday, September 7
England striker Peter Crouch scores the decisive goal at 46 minutes in England's 1-0 victory over Macedonia (photo from The Sun). What is remarkable about this over-the-head shot is Crouch's size: at 6'7'' he is easily the largest (and gangliest) player on the pitch. Still, Crouch has put 11 balls in the net since donning his England cap 14 games ago. When not for England, he plays for Liverpool. Ok, we'll forgive the silly post-score "robot" moves pre-World Cup. The guy is for real.
Sonnet leaves for New York City today, and will stay with Aunt Marcia in Bronxville and Katie on the Upper West Side. She is attending NY Fashion Week, and will see many of the designers, and their shows, profiled in her book "New York Fashion." Eitan started Year 1 (Kindgergarten or "Big Boys School") Tuesday, and reports that "it's fine", while not relinquishing any further data. Madeleine begins reception, at the same school, on the 12th and enjoys extra time with Aggie until then. Yesterday they were at Kew Gardens for a picnic and day before Lego Land. Lucky kid.
Wednesday, September 6
Eitan takes one on the nose at nine months when I take this photo at Lauderdale Mansions (11/7/01). The boy is still crawling and, in fact, won't walk for another nine - why mess about with rapid transportation? Despite a solid foundation of four points, he still manages to fall off his rocker and scrape up his nose. This dinger took place in Paddington Park when - baff ! - down he goes. I feel inadequate as a father - the guilt begins. Sonnet now four months pregnant with Madeleine and we often discuss the mathematics of children - ie, the child-work relationship is not linear.
Cal gets thumped by Tennesee 35-18 in the season opener. The 21 unaswered points in the third quarter kill us. Christian Wright predicts they will win every game hereafter. "The Bear will not quit. The Bear will not die" - Joe Capp, 1982
Saturday, September 2
I take the kids to see the cartoon movie 'Monster House' this rainy Sunday (2/9/06). It was pretty darn scary - in fact, Madeleine stands up and walks out of the theatre with Aggie (this takes some courage and I give her credit). Eitan insists he is not scared. Tonight, however, he shacks up with his sister - go figure.
36 minutes to kick-off, Cal vs. Tennessee. Go Bears!
Friday, September 1
Madeleine at Denver Int'l - note the security stickers, given to her for "good behavior" (Sonnet rolls her eyes).
The drive from Cuchara to Denver was uneventful, other than a six mile farm road detour from the I-25 at Pueblo due to last week's flooding (the southwest has been in a drought otherwise). In Denver, we visit Aunt Beecher, Whitney, Frank, Tess and one-week old Thea, which brings back memories and all sorts of nostalgia from us (esp. Sonnet). We spend the night at a Radisson hotel, with pool and hot-tub, and catch the long-haul flight to the U.K. Eitan is the perfect seat mate, as he watches the digital entertainment for 10 hours including the cartoon move with Bruce Willis "Over The Top" three times (3X). Madeleine has a harder time, but both kids keep it together. Neither slept. At home, Aggie awaits us and Sonnet and I use today Friday to due some errands, and I move into my new office close to home (less than 10 minutes).
This photograph of the flag taken by Eitan.
At the airport beyond security, Sonnet points out that I don't have my camera, which has been left in the rent-a-car (damn!). I call Alamo Denver Airport, speak to a gal who uses her walkie-talkie to speak to a field agent. The camera is located and put on a ground transportation bus to the terminal (guy heavily tipped). I speak to the head of Airport Security, who gives me a red-card, and accompanies outside of the security zone. I meet the bus, collect my camera, re-pass security and race to the gate with two minutes to spare. Sonnet was sure she would see me somepoint in London - and had even told the kids so!