The Dummy Fairy

Xavier has reached a new milestone!
He’s now gone 10 days without a soother. And, surprisingly few tears.

We got lucky on this one.

We took him into the dentist two tuesday’s ago, and the hygienist asked us if he was still using a soother. While examining our shoes, we admitted that he was, and so the hygienist went on to show us how the shape of his teeth were changing. Uncool. So, quick gut check and we decided to toss the dummy.

The hygienist was kind enough to play Bad Cop for us. He explained to Xavier how he’s a big boy and how he’d looked in his mouth and found that he didn’t need a soother anymore. He asked him if he’d like to give up the soother and Xavier (surprisingly) obliged. I don’t really know if he knew it was for keeps at that point. Then the hygienist high fives him and brushed Xavier’s teeth with an electric toothbrush. That last part was the highlight of the trip, and Xavier told us all about it over the next week.

That night, when we went home, we told Xavier that the Tooth Fairy had heard all about what happened at the dentist (Xavier took this opportunity to explain electric toothbrushes to us) and was very proud of Xavier. Because he was a big boy, she was going to leave him a gift over night.

“No honey, remember you gave it to the dentist…”
“…uh, yeah. So because you’re a big boy, you can sleep without a soother and you’ll get a present. Do you want a present?”

And that was that.

In the morning he found a new pack of lego and a couple of chocolates (to keep the fairy in business). He again asked for his soother, but having the box of lego, and an awesome story about a dentist and a fairy, staved off most of the tears.

Two weeks later he’s still going strong. He asks for his soother around nap time or when he hurts himself, but then he remembers the fairy (or maybe just the toothbrush) and seems to get over it.

Original image from

Kiwi Journey 2014 Edition

I spent four days this past week traveling through Middle Zealand. It was a crazy times work trip, focussed on recruiting new talent. We did the same trip last year as a family, but did it quite differently. Last year we spent two weeks driving from Queenstown to Auckland, stopping at several small and large cities along the way. This year was the whirlwind version where we landed, went to work, ate, slept, woke, ate, worked, ate, worked, ate, slept, flew, worked, ate, worked, ate, slept, flew back home. But it was still amazing.

As part of our trip we organize talks for young women in STEM programs. The rate of enrollment of women in these fields is quite low, like 5-10%, so a lot of the ladies feel isolated or ‘weird’ or that they don’t fit in. As part of our trip, we organize a three hour workshop to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in tech, to meet other ladies in your faculty, and to get some extra tips and encouragement about their work prospects. Chatting with the attendees is always mega rewarding. You get to meet women who were about to drop out or change programs and have decided to stay in because they made a friend. Or people who met with us last year and are pumped to tell us how well their last year of school has gone, or the super cool project they are working on.

The stats around the gender divide in STEM careers are amazing. Many of them are simply baffling to me when I look at them from a more removed or academic stance, but they make a lot more sense when you meet the people who say these things. One young lady told the group that she struggled to enroll because her primary motivation for wanting to become an Engineer was that she wanted to be Tony Stark. She had a hard time saying that out loud to her family. Eventually, she did enroll and when the rest of her extended family found out, she got a call from her Grandma who wanted to know what was wrong. To me, wanting to be Iron Man seems like a great reason to enroll in engineering; maybe even Top 5 (after wanting to be Batman of course) but meeting her, and listening to her talk, it’s just not a valid reason for everyone.

At one of these talks I also bumped into a friend of a friend, of all the weird places to meet someone. A woman put her hand up at one of the events to tell us how she felt like an outsider even in a room filled with female engineers because she was studying Music  Engineering. Most people had no idea what that meant, which seemed to validate her point, so I went up to chat during the break to let her know that she wasn’t alone. I took some courses in that area in school, and studied with Professor so-and-so. Turns out, her advisor also studied with So-and-so, further, she had done her masters with a long time friend of Sarah’s (and mine) in California. We chatted for a long time, and eventually I was able to introduce her to some other people on campus who are interested in collaborating on some projects. Small world.

Finally, the other thing I did while abroad was give another lecture at a technical college on the south island. Two years running now I’ve worried about what to present, or what might be interesting. This year, the instructor asked me to just walk the students through a project that I’d done. “How boring!” I thought, and yet, the room was full and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. I even got an invite to speak again in October, which I will probably follow up on.

Fitzroy St

We are visiting Melbourne this week. From Syfney, I’ve always thought of it as Australia’s Vancouver (as opposed to Australia’s Toronto, where we live).

By chance we ended up in St Kilda. A part of town that two different friends had recommended. One for food, and the other for the neighborhood. So far, we haven’t really left Fitzroy St.

A buddy at work recommended checking out Golden Fields, which turned out to be really close to our hotel. This was our first stop after checking in, and we had a lovely dinner of Lobster Rolls, pulled pork San bao, shiitake dumplings (it was dumpling Tuesday) and a Peanut Butter parfait with salted caramel sauce and chocolate mousse (divine!).

The next morning we left in search of the famous St Kilda penguins. This small colony of penguins made their home just next to a pier at the end of Fitzroy forty years ago. They are a wild colony, but live in the city, conveniently located next to several posh fish and chip shops.

On the way to the beach we stopped in at a cafe. Melbourne, we’d been told, is the way place to hit up random cafés. This was no let down. Our two coffees and a babycino for Xavier, came with a delicious cherry-choco-coco-walnut slice that disappeared almost before I could snap a pic.


You miss me


For a few weeks before leaving France, a friend of mine made a habit of saying “When you are gone, you miss me. You miss me.”

For the longest time, I interpreted that as “When you have left France, you will miss me.”

It was nearly two months after arriving in Australia that I finally understood him to be saying “When you are gone, I will miss you.”

First Day of School!

It’s Xavier’s first day of “School” today (really, Daycare).
We dropped him off with his little lunch pail and back pack. We tried telling him that we’d be near by and would pick him up later in the day, but he was already playing with the cars in the sand pit by that point.
Sarah’s catching up on some rest, and splitting her time between the masseuse, the pub, and a much needed nap.


Annual Photo Shoot


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This year we did our Annual photo shoot at a YouStudios in Sydney. This is our third set of family portraits. I never thought I’d have an annual family picture, but it’s turned out to be a really fun tradition.

Early on a Saturday morning we got gussied up and filled a giant duffle bag with props before heading over to their studio. Unlike previous places we’ve gone, YouStudios likes to do the photos in three sessions: shoot, review, pick up. For our first shoot, we worked with a super awesome photog who had us get up, down, and in some cases up in the air. Xavier is normally super camera shy, but she did a great job of bringing him out of his shell and getting him to smile for the shots.

We ran through a few different sets of photos, including some sports photos of him in his soccer outfit. Back home, team photos are a pretty stock part of a kids sport. Down here I guess it’s not a thing.

About a week later we showed up again for the review session. We arrived back at the studio and spent 40 minutes or so going through the choice shots of the previous session, and discussing layout options. Unfortunately, we then had a talk about price — this is when we found out that we were not at the same sort of place we were used to. The first option our photographer showed us was comparable in cost to a new laptop. Yikes!!!

Considering we generally keep our walls bare, this was just so far out of the realm of reasonable we had to laugh.

After some negotiating, Sarah found a plan that worked for her and was within a reasonable price point for what we were looking for. As an upside, our package also included digital copies that we can email around to friends.

Wild Life Sydney


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We spent this morning at the Wild Life Sydney Zoo. This is the third zoo we’ve been to in Sydney, and definitely number 3 on the awesome zoo experience list (after Featherdale and Taronga), but it has some major advantages. It’s super convenient to get to, it’s much cheaper than the others, it’s indoors – making it nice for rainy days – and it does have it’s share of Australian wildlife. Anything that you’d really like to see as far as local fauna goes can be found here.

The other huge up side is that their crocodile, Rex, (or as Xavier calls him: snap snap) is by far the most active one that we’ve seen.

Arrr… A pirates fourth birthday

Xavier’s best friend, Leland, turned four this past week. His folks organised an awesome Pirate party to celebrate. It was a bit of a rain out, but fun nonetheless.


Xavier likes his pirate patch, but he’s never quite mastered how to wear it.


Cookies!! Sarah has been practicing her cookie decorating skills. I think it’s paid off.


This cake was delicious!! Leland’s mom is a wonderful patissierre (cake lady). She made this amazing cake herself.

Everyone had a lot of fun at the party, and it was extra special for Leland as it was his last party as an only child. A few days later he got a little sister.


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