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Family April to October 2014


Family portrait on April 28 in Mountain View, CA.

Moby is almost five years old. He recently learned to ride a bicycle inspired by the promise that if he learns to ride one, Seth will let him ride a motorcycle. With that promise, a child who had been averse to trying figured out how to ride a bicycle in the span of a single weekend. And, true to his word, Seth took him to Stockton one weekend in September and paid a couple hundred dollars for a track-side class. Moby was lent child-sized protective gear and a mini motorcycle and given some lessons in a parking lot. Once he learned how to start and turn and brake, he was allowed on the track including in a race. He took third of three and had a great time.

Moby at mini motorcycle race in Stockton in Sept 2014.

A mini motorcycle race in Stockton in Sept 2014. Moby is the child in the middle.


Moby on Oct 14. He wants to grow his hair long.

Arlo broke his arm. Twice. First he fell off a foam climbing structure for toddlers in day care and fractured something near his elbow. I knew it was time to visit the doctor when my two year old became happier after I immobilized his arm. Six days after that cast came off, he climbed onto Moby’s skateboard and fell off fracturing a bone in the wrist and gaining a shorter cast on the same arm. He was quite cheerful through all that. For the x-ray for the second fracture no one was available to sit with him for the x-ray, so he stood by himself holding his arm very still exactly as requested for each of the exposures.

Arlo with a broken elbow on May 20 and broken wrist on June 24.

Arlo leaving the clinic with a broken elbow on May 20 and broken wrist on June 24.

The family traveled some earlier in the summer and then stayed put into the early fall. Our biggest trip was a family trip to Rochester, New York, where we visited with Seth’s aunts and grandmother, and with Ania’s sister-in-law’s family. We then made a quick jaunt up to Niagara Falls. We’re so glad we splurged for a hotel room with a view of the falls. The view was spectacular, possibly more so than the tour behind the waterfall and the boat trip to the base of the falls.


Arlo admiring a giant Pacific octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on April 11.


May 28, with aunt Stefie and cousin Jay.


May 30, with great-grandmother Irmgard LaForge in Rochester, NY.


May 31, Niagara Falls.

Ania finally finished designing her motor controller, had both printed circuit boards manufactured, and with help from her mentor-friend Sasha got all the components soldered on. So far, everything works, which seems like a small miracle. Seth has started working on the firmware, which is just a fancy word for programming the software that will be the brains of the operation.


Oct 4 on the beach in California, letting Daddy write firmware for Mama’s motor controller. This is what engineer love looks like.


Child Care Legalese

We’ve all surely seen legalese embedded in awkward or surprising places, and most people simply grow immune to it. Seth and I, however, sometimes take note and think more about the implications of the legal disclaimers we notice or are asked to sign. Here are a couple from our sons’ day care which we found interesting.

First, Seth took note of the footer at the bottom of every email from the center’s directors and teachers:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message and any attachments. Thank you.

Interestingly, overuse of a CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE may effectively do the exact opposite and make all email communications non-confidential. Seth found a neat page that explains why in detail. The short story is that if you claim all your email are confidential when you actually do not have a “reasonable expectation of confidentiality” for every message which you append with such a notice, than clearly you are not making special efforts to protect certain information. If the sender is not actually distinguishing between confidential and public communication, they legally can’t expect the receiving parties responsibility to do so either.

Community Gatepath recommends an ambulance for the bruise on Arlo's left cheek. The scrape on his forehead and cut on his lip are from other toddler moments. He had an unusually clumsy week.

Community Gatepath recommended an ambulance for the bruise on Arlo’s left cheek. The scrape on his forehead and cut on his lip are from other toddler moments. He had an unusually clumsy week.

Second, I was a little surprised by a recent owie report advising us to take Arlo to the hospital by ambulance after he got a dime-size bruise when he lost his balance. Mind you, the written notice promoting an ambulance came about two hours after the phone call in which Arlo’s teacher (quite sensibly) assured me he was fine and playing happily, having received love and hugs.

…an ambulance is available to transport my child to the hospital. I decline to use the ambulance service. Instead, I elect to seek alternative medical care and I refuse further treatment and/or transport. I have been advised that medical assistance on my child’s behalf is necessary, and that refusal of said assistance could be hazardous to my child’s health. I have been advised also to discuss my child’s medical condition with his/her regular health care provider as soon as possible.

I’m thinking Community Gatepath‘s lawyers are undermining their own efforts. Minor bump. Hospital. Really? To paraphrase some wording from the article on confidentiality notices, the owie report eviscerated the practical effect those lawyers’ other notices might otherwise have on me.

This page is duplicated on my old blog.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cuttlefish in new "Tentacles" exhibit.


Seth took half the day off on Friday so we could visit the new “Tentacles” exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We saw nautiluses to match those on our shirts, some bizzarre animals like the flapjack octopus which looked as if taken straight out of a Miyazaki movie, and multiple species of cuttlefish. Moby was clearly excited about to be there, admitting when partway through the exhibit that “I don’t want to pee but I have to pee.”We also took a brief tour of some of the permanent exhibits at the aquarium. Most of the photos below are from other exhibits. The tentacled animals like darkness which makes photography difficult.


Seth and Arlo in matching nautilus t-shirts.


Arlo and Moby waiting for the next wave under the tidepool exhibit, which vigorously dumps water to emulate a wave hitting a shallow rocky coast.


Arlo and Moby waiting for the next wave under the tidepool exhibit, which vigorously dumps water to emulate a wave hitting a shallow rocky coast.


Arlo looking at the giant Pacific octopus on permanent exhibit.

This page is duplicated on my old blog.

Little climbers

Arlo at Mitchell Park Moby at Mitchell Park

My little climbers! Here are my boys at Mitchell Park, both climbing. Moby is at the top of the climbing structure. He nimbly went up and down several times. Arlo crested the top just a minute or two after I snapped the photo. I think this rope ladder was designed for kids older than Arlo’s 22 months, so though the spacing between rope rungs was pretty big for him, he persevered and made it!

Moby skis


Moby at the Bear Valley ski area

This winter was the one for Moby to learn to ski. We put him on skis at age 2 once, but there wasn’t enough snow really to even try.  At age 3, he just wasn’t quite ready, though he had fun standing on skis between Mama’s legs with Mama supporting him and steering. This winter, finally, at the ripe age of 4, he mastered skiing on his own. By the end of his sixth day, each day being about 2 hours, he was able to ski the green runs on his own. He’s not ready to ski without a parent since he still needs some help getting off the lift and route-finding, but we’re very proud of how quickly he picked up the sport.

You can find two videos on YouTube of his ski endeavors. From Dec 24 we have a video of his first time skiing not on the bunny hill and without a parent holding him.  (27 seconds)

From Dec 31 we have a video from his sixth (or so) day on downhill skis going down a green run with no help, except a hint now and then about which way to go. This was our last day of several days skiing in Bear Valley, where we spent Christmas and New Year’s and the week in between.  (16 seconds)

From March 1 we have a video of his eight (or so) time on skis, and his third ski trip this winter to Bear Valley.  (1:48)

This post is duplicated on my old blog.


22 Jan 2011: I'm really upset because this is really difficult.In January 2011 when Moby was 1 years and 3 months old, he was in the midst of a phase wherein he would try to do very difficult things and often get very upset that they were very difficult. We captured one of these moments on camera. He had found a broom and a mop and found it very difficult to coordinate pushing both at once.

20140127-_DSC1620In January 2014 when Arlo was 1 year and 8 months old, we captured a very similar moment. Arlo had found a broom and a squeegie and similarly found it a difficult task to push both simultaneously, though unlike Moby the difficulty of the task did not bring Arlo to tears.

This post is duplicated on my old blog.

Nutrition at CCLC Child Care Center, by Chefables October 2013

Nutrition at CCLC Child Care Center, by Chefables

October 2013

“30% – 40% of healthcare expenditures in the USA go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.”
–Credit Suisse Report “Sugar: Consumption At A Crossroads”

“As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue….”
— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Numbers like the above make me think hard about how I feed my children. Given that this may be the single biggest threat to the health of America’s children, it baffles me that my sons’ child care provider CCLC does not make this a priority. Neither CCLC nor their caterer seems to know how much sugar is in the snacks they serve. Neither seems to have anyone trained in nutrition.

At home, I think about the nutrition we consume and about what I teach my boys to enable them to make healthy choices on their own. I cook with a lot of vegetables and expect everyone, adults and kids, to eat the same things.

Two of my kids meals are provided by the day care, a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Some months ago CCLC started using Chefables as the caterer for these snacks. The Chefables web page sounds great, full of buzz words and enthusiasm about nutrition. But when I looked at what actually appeared on my children’s plates, almost every snack included a sweet pastry and a fruit, and only about 10% of the snacks included a vegetable. What I saw my kids learning was that bread products should be white in color and sweet, and that vegetables should be rare. Obviously convenience is a big factor and not everything possible in a home kitchen is possible in a commercial environment. I decided that while I can’t change what my kids eat, at least I’d like to understand. So I asked CCLC how much sugar is in the snacks. They referred me to Chefables. I called Chefables and, after some phone tag, had a roughly 20 minute conversation which didn’t answer my question. Ali told me that they don’t use sugar, only fruit; which was a great surprise because the pastries I’ve seen for the most part did not have visible pieces of fruit. Amazed, I asked what fruit they use in their graham crackers. He replied brown sugar, and then something about using MOSTLY fruit. At the end of the conversation he gave me his email address.

My impression is that the difference between healthy fruit and unhealthy sweeteners is the fiber which slows sugar absorption from whole fruits and vegetables. I don’t understand how highly processed fruit, even fruit processed in-house, would be better than any other sweetener. My impression is that Chefables believes that if they start with fruit, regardless of how much they process and concentrate it the result will be healthy. Corn is made into high fructose corn syrup; beets are made into sugar; juice concentrates and honey are classed the same as refined sugar in recommendations from the American Heart Association. Why would highly processed fruit-based sweeteners be any better?

So I sent Ali at Chefables an email, asking if he could clear up my confusion. Chefables never replied. Lori, CCLC’s regional director, asked me to stop asking about sugar content. She admitted that neither she nor the center director have background in nutrition.

“Chefables has been an incredible vendor for us, and many other CCLC’s.”
–Lori Walker, CCLC Regional Director

This post is duplicated on my old blog.