Sunday, December 11, 2011

The surprises!

Today Pete climbed to the top of St. Paul's--something like 530 steps, many of them big and irregular. It's a tough climb; I did it a couple of months ago and didn't think Pete could handle it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good parent or bad parent?

Last night, after dinner, Pete told me that before going to bed, he wanted "to learn more about the history of the world." I got him to narrow the field a little bit: maybe Asia? he said. Camels? So I gave him the (long) Wikipedia entry on camels. To my surprise, he loved it and read the whole thing. ("Pop! The Romans used camels in war because they scared off horses!") So I may have just created a six-year-old Wikipedia monster.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Some bets are worth losing.

Pete, on the trimming work outside our window: "Oy! Papa! The trees are bare! . . . It's so embarrassing for that tree, I bet."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Yes, Carolyn got to talk to Michael Palin at Pete's school. But I got to talk to students about their course selections for next semester, and who's to say that isn't just as exciting?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Some places are hard to leave

Pete, on the plane out before takeoff: "Bye, Venice! I hope we see you again!" And then he nuzzled the plane window.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Pete's day: Venice. Train, bus, plane, shuttle bus, shuttle bus, plane, train, train. Hampstead--just in time for last ten minutes of trick-or-treating in Venetian mask.

Saturday, October 15, 2011



--Pete, on the sparkly night-time Eiffel Tower

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

I'm going to have to start explaining to Pete's teachers that he knows Yahtzee math. Avoid asking him to work with numbers greater than six, and he'll be just fine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

His autobiography is going to be something.

from Carolyn

Pete was rehashing his favorite soccer moment from the spring: how Jackson was about to kick a goal in and Pete came out of nowhere to kick the ball out of his way. (To be fair, it’s Erik’s favorite moment of the spring soccer season, too.) But it’s the one moment that Pete likes to replay, and this time he was taking me step-by-step through it, ending with a little testament to how he got the job done: “with my speed, and my special abilities in soccer, and my bravery . . . .”

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Introduced Pete to British supermarket trifle. This must be how other fathers feel giving a son a first football, or chess set, or gun.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is that London or New Hampshire?

You pop the boy in a British primary school for a couple of weeks, and you get this!

After attending the Poetry Show, we all went to the National Gallery, which stays open late on Fridays. Out front in Trafalgar Square, it was Malaysia Day! Music and food abounding! Inside, it was a mellow, uncrowded National Gallery, with Pete-entrancing audio tours galore. On the way out, a (non-Malaysian) fire-juggler. Not a bad London evening.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I think we've found our local.

Just returned from an evening dinner at one of the great traditional London pubs. This included a conversation with the owner that lasted approximately 90 minutes. The conversation constituted an 18th-century novel in his voice that included these chapters, not necessarily in chronological order:

III. Wherein I Welcome You, My New American Friends, To My Public House.

IX. Wherein I Play National-Level Competitive Rubgy for England

XII. Wherein I Send Your Child Upstairs to Play with My Child and Perhaps a Couple Others, Who Knows, While We Finish Our Drinks.

XIV. Wherein I Am Robbed by a Las Vegas Prostitute, Prevent Her from Leaving the Elevator, Receive a Major Head Wound from Her Stiletto, Am Unjustly Arrested and Eventually Acquitted, Have Visa Problems Because of the Arrest, but End Up Owning a Sweet Penthouse in the Bahamas.

XVII. Wherein I Survive Hurricane Irene in the Bahamas and Cook a Delicious Rack of Lamb with a Butane Stove.

XXI. Wherein I Reveal That I May Be Unusually Talkative Because I Have Been Drinking without Sleep for 24 Hours, Thanks to the Ongoing Rugby World Cup.

The pub turned out to have really good, moderately priced food as well.

Also, the school is different from Fairview Elementary in Grinnell.

Pete starts school Monday. The entrance form has a section for "language spoken at home" that lists 25 options.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The end of six years of hypocrisy

Erik, to Carolyn: What would you like to drink?
Carolyn: Diet Coke.
Pete: Can I have Diet Coke?

Erik: So, water all around?
Carolyn: Water all around.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Literally" in the literal sense

You've got to get up pretty in the morning to get something past Peter Simpson. I mean that terribly, terribly literally.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

London living

Pete now loves Stilton almost as much as Angry Birds.

Friday, August 19, 2011

He's going to love frequent flyer incentives.

Totally unanticipated difficulty of London: Pete has become a museum maniac and now has more stamina than we do for them. We went to the Keats House today, and I was giving him a little introduction to what we were about to do as we walked over. It started to sink in, and he turned to us and said, "IS THERE AN AUDIO TOUR?" Because we all now understand that if there's an audio tour, the boy is going to listen to all of it, precisely as instructed. He was captivated by the Brighton Royal Pavilion a couple of days ago, or the audio tour thereof. In a twist, however, it turned out that the Keats House no longer has an audio tour, but they do have a quiz book for kids, and if you complete it, you win A BADGE. The only problem is that Keats is not alive to articulate the resulting intensity of a boy's love for his badge.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Oddly, nobody else seems to be playing the same game.

Some parts of adjusting to London have been hard. I always have trouble with new places, even when they aren't that new to me. It's been up and down for all of us, including Pete, who has been delightfully excited about England but also sometimes cranky, understandably so given that the trip made him so tired he fell asleep at dinner yesterday while carrying pizza from his plate to his mouth. The best part for me has been taking walks to play baseball (specifically, "Giants vs. Dodgers" simulations with a tennis ball) on Hampstead Heath.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Completely out of nowhere. Seriously.

Pete: “When I was in Mama’s stomach, I thought marbled paper was made in the toilet.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

It wasn't so funny when the Coast Guard clipper pulled up to the house.

When Pete sneezed spraying chewed up cereal: “Some got away! Some got away! Mayday!”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just walking around will be tantamount to this.

Pete suggests a method for greeting the natives when we live in London this fall: waving US flags and saying, "Hi, we're American!"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How tyranny begins

Pete: "If I grow up to be President, do you think I would say there should be a skee-ball place in Grinnell?"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pondering the effects of early fame

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to extract the photo from the slideshow, but Pete made the Omaha paper! He's, um, 11th up from the bottom of the thumbnails on the left.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Lehman version of this wasn't so cute.

Time from Pete receiving first tooth fairy payout to devising scheme to put fake (paper) teeth under his pillow to fool TF: 11 hours.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bad science, great poetry

Pete, beholding a bonfire: "I wonder whether sparks make fireflies!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Division of labor

Off to Pete's first piano recital. His job: enjoy the experience and play the best "Sleepy Alligator" he can play. Mine: monetize it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You just never know.

Another one--

Pete: Papa, I’m happy that I’m alive.
Papa: Oh, Pete, I'm so glad.
Pete: Even though there are some parts of my body that I’ll never see.


Papa: Well, yes. I hope there are some parts of your body that you’ll never see.
Pete: Like my bones.


Pete: Because if I saw my bones, I would be a ghost or a zombie.


Or a spirit.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

You can't say he lacks self-awareness.

Pete has a way of tilting his head and raising his eyebrows when he's trying to get you on board with one of his ideas. This morning:

Pete wakes up. (This is 7:20am, so he has slept in a little. I, alas, have been up for a while.)


Erik goes into his room.

Erik: "Hey, Pete, what's up?"

Pete: "I was wondering if it's time when I could get up and maybe go downstairs and (head tilt, eyebrow raise) have some oatmeal?"

Erik, laughing: "Sure, Pete."

Pete thinks. Pete and Erik start to walk downstairs.

Pete: "Pop, I hadn't raised my eyebrows in a long time."

Sunday, May 01, 2011

He calls 'em as he sees 'em.

from Carolyn

We were walking across Mac Field around 8:10 on Saturday morning. There was a table and chairs in the middle of the field,a two-liter bottle oddly upright in the grass, a backpack abandoned, random articles of clothes, beer cans/bottles, water bottles, and general detritus.

Pete: What’s all this?
Me: Well, on really nice days, the students like to—
Pete: POLLUTE???

And wonderfully zany comments from left field.

“I think that I’m built for running and skipping, pretty much.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Pete on Easter preparations: "It's time to start DYEING! We have to start DYEING!"

I can't think of a snarky title for this.

Pete: "The Easter Bunny knows a lot about me, doesn't he? It's nice to have a friend like the Easter Bunny."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Some things should last forever but won't.

Pete has taken to using "the heck" as a general intensifier, placed willy-nilly in sentences, as in, this morning, "My shoe has a hole in it. It is really the heck hurting my foot."

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Maybe Congressional deadlock isn't so bad after all.

Inspired by seeing the Cubs and Pirates (no, seriously) at Wrigley yesterday, Pete contemplated growing up to be a baseball player. Then he thought for another minute and remarked on all the choices he has about what to do. More thought. Then:

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a lawmaker, and I'm going to say, 'You can be naked in public.'"

Thoughtful smile.

"Heh-heh. Then everyone's going to be naked."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parenting gets harder when kids get a clue.

Tonight was Pete's first tornado warning where he was old enough to understand exactly what was happening, both in the narrow sense that a tornado warning is a warning of a tornado and in the broad sense that our getting him out of bed and going to the basement together is very strange. He was such a tired, scared little thing. Turns out it's hard to explain how everything's totally OK when you are, come to think of it, acting as if your house could be swept off its foundations at any moment.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


from Carolyn

“Were you amazed that I didn’t have to hang on to the banister? I’m becoming one of you guys!”

Later: “Mom! In 4 years, I’ll be 10!”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our boy's growing up.

Pete, upon hearing the alarm waking him for his sixth birthday: "All I want to do is go back to sleep!"

(He was plenty excited about 30 seconds later.)