Homework Play Date 2.0

November 16th, 2013 by ninja

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Now that Tobin is a first grader, he has regular homework which includes reading two beginner’s books every day. Three years ago, Mika and her friends would read stories to their little brothers on their first grade play dates … and now it is Tobin and his friend Zach! Zach’s little brother got some extra “story time”, before all three boys got lost in the world of Lego.

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Calling Omi Hilde

November 16th, 2013 by ninja

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The kids hugged Omi Hilde the last time in late August, but have been talking to her on the phone every now and then. I usually call Hilde every Saturday, while Mika is taking her swim lesson. Sometimes, they can chat a moment when Mika gets out of the pool. This weekend, she had a bad cough and couldn’t swim, but we called Hilde from a nearby bakery/coffee shop while Tobin had another class. After the call, we enjoyed the famous apple pie, drew each other (digitally and analog), and Mika drew Daddy as well. If only we could have teleported some pie to Germany…

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Hangin’ With Uncle Joe

November 10th, 2013 by ninja


Uncle Joe extended his East Coast business trip to spend an unseasonably warm November weekend with us. The kids are always besides themselves with joy when he arrives, and take over his every waking minute. It was relaxing nonetheless, and I didn’t take many pictures – except for a few at the school yard, after the kids had finished playing ball.

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Chess Mates

November 10th, 2013 by ninja

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Today, Mika participated in her first-ever chess tournament. It was also the first time her school’s chess club attended any “rookie” event, and our five pioneers met about 500 seriously determined elementary school kids from the New York Metro area. The first two games, Mika played very well and ended in a draw. One game with just the two Kings left standing, the other after going into overtime and playing for more than one hour. In the afternoon, her attention faded and/or she got paired up with significantly stronger players – and she lost games 3 and 4. Still, a solid achievement for somebody who doesn’t play much beyond the one weekly afterschool lesson. Bonus for the accompanying parent (me): the host school still had some original, 100-year old doorknobs … beautiful type detail of a bygone era!

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Fantastic Four

November 5th, 2013 by ninja

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The old team doesn’t get together often anymore, but on citywide school holidays, we seize the moment and play all day long. This Election Day, we went to the AMNH and Central Park. The foliage was gorgeous, and the marathon finish line bleachers were still around for some good air cheering.

(Forgot my camera, so some colors are not all that … but the iPhone did a decent job)

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Happy Birthday (Party), Tobin!

November 3rd, 2013 by ninja

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Tobin celebrated his 6th birthday at the Brooklyn Robot Foundry, learning about circuits, conductivity, and building box robots with his best friends. The activity did require the use of a Philips screw driver, general assembly skills, and lots (lots!) of custom embellishments. The finished robots could battle it out – or race each other – in the table “arena”. Delicious pizza and robot cake sealed the deal: Tobin said he had “the best day ever!”

On Tobin’s actual birthday (10/21), the four of us celebrated at home. Mika made all decorations for the cake, and an awesome Ninjago diorama gift that doesn’t photograph well since it’s lit up with LED finger flashlights. Sung’s parents visited the week after, for a weekend of epic Lego building and lots of time to play with the kids. Check out Tobin’s solutions for the examples “school house” and “kayak”, built from Lego Creationary pieces … his 3-D doodling has gotten much more advanced than his 2-D drawings.

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Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2013 by ninja

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Tobin’s summer-long obsession with Plants vs. Zombies culminated in a terrific theme for this year’s Halloween. The kids both went as Cone Head Zombies, targeting candy and … braaaaaaaains!

After trick-or-treating, they partied with their local friends at Esme and Cleo’s Halloween Afterparty. Can you imagine 25 kids, already on a major sugar high, getting together for a party? We couldn’t either, but it was awesome. Limbo dance, bopping for apples, and all.


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Happy Birthday, Daddy!

July 26th, 2013 by ninja

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Despite the at-the-crack-of-dawn business meeting this morning, we had quality birthday time with Sung in the afternoon and evening. The kids painted dream pictures on a pillow, so daddy can either dream of “Plants vs. Zombies” (Tobin), or “the blue dog daddy dreamt about when he was my age” (Mika). After bedtime, Sung and I had a fantastic dinner, and a perfectly balmy Summer night stroll along our waterfront. Bonus discovery: a new, favorite birthday cake … S’mores Pie, which proved far less sugary than it’s namesake campfire treat.

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Tobin vs. Zombies

July 20th, 2013 by sung

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Tobin and I headed to the Natural History Museum to check out the space exhibits. Unfortunately, the space area was closed. So we decided to check out a section of the museum we’ve never explored – the human evolution area. Luckily, the lab was open for guests and we snuck in. Tobin got to play with skulls and real human brains.

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Going North (Part 1) – Visiting Jason in VT

July 1st, 2013 by ninja

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After way too many years, we finally made it up to Vermont to visit our dear friend Jason. He calls countless acres of forest, two clean creeks, a winterized cabin, and an edible garden his new home. Since he moved there from Brooklyn, he has been studying sustainable architecture and construction techniques and has been building a Fay Jones-inspired green house/bath house and many smaller structures (not pictured … will have to ask Jason if I can share some of his own pictures). Next up: building a full sized house from scratch. But for the time being, and especially during our visit, life was wonderfully slow and detailed with Jason.

We rented a lovely AirBnB apartment close by, so we wouldn’t crowd his small cabin at night with four people. The daytime hours, we spent together – sometimes well into the night. The kids’ favorite activity was hiking up Jason’s creek on a particularly warm and muggy day. Every one of us – except for Mika – tripped and fell into the cold water at one point, but it was rather welcome and refreshing. When we got back near the cabin, we started a bonfire and roasted a whole bag of marshmallows, much to the delight of the children. Dinner was a lot of fun as well: every evening, salad and other nibbles could be picked from the garden just minutes before the meal. Of course, we also saw beautiful Montpelier nearby, and made two day trips: to the famous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, and to the Shelburne Museum. Our six days together flew by in a snap, and we have to come back soon!

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Crazy Hair Day 2013 (Part II)

June 19th, 2013 by ninja


Part two of the Annual Pigment Fest that is Crazy Hair Day in our house: today was the third grader’s turn. The amount of spray (hair)paint needed to color brown hair is insane – and so is the coloring power of a head like this. Large portions of our house were covered in fluorescent orange dust, just from brushing/handling Mika’s hair.

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Farewell, Ants!

June 19th, 2013 by ninja


A few weeks into their tunneling activities, our ants had amassed enough gel debris on the surface of their habitat, that they could rest in small groups right under the lid. Getting fresh air into the container without escapees or accidental injuries got trickier every day, especially since the ants seemed to be on to the fact that the lid was a gateway to a bigger, and better world. I discussed this – and the general concept of living in captivity – with the kids, and we decided to let the ants go before they would slowly “expire” in front of our eyes. We brought them over to the Urban Meadow, and opened the lid. All but two took the chance and claimed their freedom!

Here are a couple of movies I took in the first week, to remember their work (you can expand to full screen view, as always):


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