23 January 2013


Trinh & Tai,

Here's something I think you'll both like -- another puzzle.  This is a drawing called Waterfall by an artist named MC Escher.  Look carefully at the water.  How can this waterfall work?  What do you see?

Brian Clark
I Articulate, Therefore I Think

07 June 2012

Spring Show Rochambeau

Finally got around to posting the video we took of Taison's Spring Show at The Woods, The Zoo. I'm not sure these are our proudest moments of our reserved, well-behaved son....but he's long on enthusiasm here. What really killed us though is that he talked his friend Ana into playing Rock, Paper, Scissors DURING the performance. Have at it, kiddos. Thank goodness they both threw scissors and tied.

23 March 2012

Magic Boogers

Taison is 4 now, so we tell a lot of fart and booger jokes around the house.  All of us.  It's like having him has somehow liberated our Potty Humor circuits from the shackles of social convention -- freed our santorum from decorum, if you will.  It's actually very gratifying, you should try it.  Anyway, this morning he decided -- god knows why -- to poke around in my belly button.  Mama-san asked him what he'd found.  "I found a magic booger, Mama!  Magic boogers always grow in a Daddy's hairy belly button!"  Good to know.  Anybody else want a magic booger?

06 March 2012


We've been having some attitude issues with Taison lately.  It's mostly when he gets focused on something, usually a toy he's playing with, and it seems we can't get his attention until we get angry with him.  It isn't his hearing.  I know this because A) I tend to drop to a wicked whisper when I get frustrated with him, and he hears those fine, and B) I understand his behavior completely.  My hearing is fine, far as I know, and I find myself doing what he's doing when I'm focused too.

Either way, it's bloody annoying when we're trying to get him to wash his hands or eat his dinner or put on his shoes for school or whatever, and we get....radio silence. 

This morning the Mama-san went up to get him up and ready for school, and she found him working on a LEGO project.  "Tai Tai," she said gently, "time to change your clothes.  Let's go."  No response.

In a louder voice, "Taison, do you remember how much trouble you got into last night when you told Mommy that No, you couldn't hear her, and Yes, you wanted her to scream at you?"  That got him moving.

Gentler again, "Tai, are you obsessed with LEGOs?"  Silence.  "Do you know what it means to be obsessed?"  "No, Mommy."  "It means that you love something so much that you can't even think about anything else."

He thought about that for a minute, then said, "No, Mommy.  I'm not obsessed with LEGOs.  I'm obsessed with Trinh Trinh."

Then he came downstairs and asked her, "Trinh Trinh, do you know what it means to be obsessed?  I do.  I'm obsessed with you.  I can't stop thinking about you.  I love you Trinh Trinh."  {HUG}

Is that not the sweetest thing ever?  Good thing, too.  His sweetness is the only thing saving his obstinate little butt sometimes.

30 November 2011


I like Andrew Bird. A lot. I first heard his slightly flat and raspy gypsy + swing + funk fiddle work on an early Squirrel Nut Zippers album, and I loved it without knowing who he was. Later I discovered Armchair Apocrypha, and from there launched squarely backwards (chronologically) into the Bowl of Fire.

Somewhere in that discovery process I took a shine to the tune "50 Pieces" and, on a whim, played it for the kids. They immediately started dancing, and they LOVED this quirky line towards the end: "Hey, who's that old man in the overalls? His cows lick the ice from off the stable walls."

Makes no sense, right? And even less so couple with the refrain, which he sings just before it: "I thought perhaps we could sit down for tea; "Nein" was the cold reply from Frau Ecstasy." Love it, not that I understand it. But the cows? Huh?

I'm not sure what my somewhat eclectic musical tastes are doing to the kids. I've exposed them to loads of stuff that kids their age probably shouldn't hear, much less hear regularly. Here's the iPod playlist that we usually cycle through in the car:
  • The Sick Bed of CĂșchulainn by The Pogues 
  • The Rock Show by Blink 182 
  • TGIF by Katy Perry
  • Dynamite by Taio Cruz 
  • Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf 
  • Party All Night by the BEPs 
  • Raise Your Glass by P!nk 
  • Bad Romance by Lady Gaga 
  • Hey, Soul Sister by Train 
  • My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson 
  • Tubthumping by Chumbawamba 
  • Bang the Drum All Day by Todd Rundgren 
  • Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects 
  • Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's 
  • Waka Waka by Shakira 
  • 50 Pieces by Andrew Bird 
Both kids know more of the lyrics than they should, even some of Shane MacGowan's sloppy brogue. On the one side, I'm sure I'm somehow scaring them with exposure to adult themes and material and lyrics. But while simplistic and whitewashed kids music certainly has its place, it simply can't compare to Andrew Bird or the BEPs in terms of ear candy. How can you can learn to listen actively unless what you're hearing has enough complexity to challenge you?

There was that big Baby Einstein push to play Mozart for infants. But then when they've developed further, we're supposed to limit their exposure to 'safe' kids' songs and the Chipmunks? I played more Bach for them than Mozart (because Mozart annoys me after awhile -- I know, heresy) when they were kids, but it wasn't really part of a methodology. I was just cycling through the library and trying different stuff until I found pieces they seemed to like. Sigur Ros, the Gipsy Kings and David Pulkingham were big winners back then.

We're doing the same thing today: spinning through the radio and our library until we find stuff they like. Except now that they're older, it's even cooler since now we can deconstruct it. They can differentiate the piano from the electric guitar from the synthesizer in Bat Out of Hell, and they can rock the drums. They know 50 Pieces is violin, and that a violin is a fiddle. It's harder to tear the BEPs apart, but there's a lot going on in there. Solid stuff, really.

Anyway, this whole post got started because Tai has been singing the cow lyric from 50 Pieces around the house, but he's intentionally singing it wrong: "...his cows lick the icing off the stable walls."  He just likes it that way.  Peace, little dude.

Cup Holders

Wow, been a long time since we've posted. I'll try to do better. Here's one:
We were downstairs at our new beach house last week, and Tai was helping me prep the boat for my o'dark early fishing excursion the next morning. He exclaimed, "Daddy! Your kayak has cup holders!" So it does, son. So it does.

18 July 2011

99.9% Potty Trained!

Sometime in early May, Taison just stopped wearing diapers. By mid-May he was sleeping through the night and napping in his underwear. In late May, we took him on a +2hr flight to Colorado and didn't worry about carrying diapers with us. It's been fabulous!

I've heard that potty training boys is more difficult than potty training girls, but we've had the opposite experience here. It may have something to do with the fact that with the second child, I've been more relaxed and less psychotic about things. We didn't pressure him to use the potty or wear underwear. I do not have to remind him to go, he just goes when he needs to. We let things happen on his schedule. As a result, he kind of potty trained himself and we've had almost no accidents (ok, maybe we've had 3 accidents...).

So what about the .1%? He doesn't care to wipe himself when he does #2, we usually do it for him. When there isn't an adult around and he needs to do his thing, he will "wipe" and then tell me he did the #2. Usually, it's well... messy. But hey, he's 3.5. It's ok.

13 July 2011

Fly Tying with Daddy

As most of you probably know, the Daddy here has been obsessed with fly fishing since being just a few years older than my kids are now.  This obsession extends to tying my own flies, and the kids routinely crawl into my lap while I'm tying.  Trinhity likes to tie pink flies with long saddle feathers and lots of flash, but Taison is happy tying almost anything so long as it's yellow.  I suppose it's sorta silly, but I keep all the hideous flies they tie; I'm quietly stocking their flies into boxes, one for each.  Some of their flies would actually catch fish, but I don't have the heart to take any of them onto the water for fear I might lose one. 

I own this peculiarity.  Back off.

Anyway, I recently ordered some fly tying materials to replenish stocks which were running low:  shiny metal beads, 'coneheads' and 'barbells'.  I use that stuff mostly in my big saltwater flies for the coast, but also in 'bugger' patterns used for trout on the big Western rivers.  Last night as I was finally settling down to sort the new stuff (~20 dozen) into some stackable clear plastic threaded canister things, Taison wandered in and wanted to help. 

I was fairly skeptical at first that he'd be much actual help.  As he crawled into my lap, I was working very hard to subdue premonitions of spending an hour picking 3/32" gold beads out of the light tan shag carpet.  But he cheerfully snatched up his favorite pair of reverse-action tweezers and asked what I wanted him to do, and I couldn't say no.  Deep breath.

First I asked him to pull all the big beads out of a box that had commingled sizes.  He reached in with his tweezers, plucked one out and said, "Like this one, Daddy?"  He was right, and I told him so.  He blew through the box hunting those bigger beads.  He did it.  Quickly.  Without dropping any. 

I gave him another container with more commingled colors and asked him to pull out just the small black coneheads.  He did it.  Quickly.  Without dropping any.

Then I got brave and had him dig all the hooks out of yet another bin of random stuff and separate them into a different stack.  I'm fairly militant with the kids about messing with hooks, so this was risky.  But I watched him like a hawk, and he didn't drop any of those either.

Finally we sorted all the packages of new materials by shape, size and color.  He nailed that.  We opened the packages and dumped them into the appropriate canisters.  That was sorta tricky:  it involved removing the stiff paper from the small ziplocks, extracting the staple and putting it into the trash bin, opening the ziplock, and a careful pour into the bins.  I spilled two packages all over the table.  He opened almost as many....and didn't spill a single thing.

I was floored.  It was awesome.  My little dude has HANDS.  Love it.  Love him.

21 June 2011

Special Night @ the Pool

Quick note from Daddy about a special mark passed tonight. Tai has been tentative at the pool, more so than his sister was. But tonight he got the hang his kickboard for the first time....and then hit a stride and chased me across the pool! I couldn't go backwards fast enough. Awesome.

31 March 2011

Jet Leg

Mama-san & I got back the evening before last from a pleasant couple days in the south of France, and we're both feeling the jet lag today. Ironic that we had to fly 14 hours twice in order to get 10 hours of sleep per night for 3 consecutive nights only to come back and be unable to sleep.

Mama told Tai Tai that she was jet lagged and asked if he knew what that meant. He replied, "Is it when you hurt your foot?"

13 March 2011

The Waterline @ Metz, France

Daddy-oi here...greetings from Metz, France. I'm here on a work trip, and only for one night. I stumbled around town in a jet-lagged daze for an hour or two this evening and was greatly pleased and amused to discover that our son's name is even more intercultural than we'd thought.

"Taison" in French apparently translates directly to "Waterline". Not sure that's a fabulous sobriquet for our son, but water runs deep in our family, and it could be worse.

More superficially, he's popular here. There's a Rue Taison....

...a Taverne Taison...
From Taison @ Metz

...located naturally enough in Village Taison...

...which has its own history (haven't gotten it translated yet, feel free!)...

...and if that's not enough, there's even a College Taison!

Maybe this means we'll have to bring him back here someday...

24 February 2011


We went to Starbucks this morning after dropping Trinh off at school. Daddy has been away for the past few days and it was a rough night. I got a venti. I never order a venti. We sat outside with our coffee and milk (yes, he is allergic to milk, but we let him drink it sometimes because he loves it).

Tai: (sniff, sniff) What is that disgusting smell??
Mama: Oh, that's mulch. They mulched the flowerbeds.
Tai: (sniff, sniff) That STINKS!
(Tai takes a drink of his milk. Ponders.)
Tai: Will the mulch melt my milk??

11 February 2011


Boy meets girl.
Boy and girl fall in love.

Girl makes unreasonable demands on Boy and uses guilt and love to torment Boy for all eternity. Boy is trapped and will spend the rest of his life trying to please Girl by moving mountains and building palaces of diamonds for Girl.

It is good that he learns these life lessons at an early age.

09 February 2011

Old Man

Daddy: "Come here Tai Tai, I need to change your diaper."

Tai: "Get away from me old man!!"

Of course, Mama & Trinh laughs.

[Not sure where he got the "old man" from but we think it may be from the Cars movie. Lightening McQueen calls Doc Hudson "old man".]

Trinh is a Bad Girl

Tai: "Mommy! Trinh Trinh BROKE my track!!"

Mama: "No Tai Tai, Trinh didn't break it."

Tai: "Yes she did!! Sometimes, Trinh Trinh is a BAD GUR-RL!"

[Tai says girl with two syllables. It's really cute. And no, Trinh did not break his train track!]