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8.14.15
So Will has now finished his first week of kindergarten, and given all that it entailed, he is doing remarkably well. Still no budding best friends that we're aware of, but he does mention new kids that he's playing with all the time, and he LOVES riding the bus to and from school every day (something that he won't be doing once the construction of his new school is finished—that facility is only a few blocks from us and so we'll be walking).

He seems to be adjusting to the new routines, the new people, and the slighly longer days pretty well, although he is much more tired at night—on the one hand this is good because he falls asleep almost as soon as he gets into bed, but on the other hand it means that he can be a bit more volatile and prone to outbursts or tantrums. But overall (and especially given his strong attachment to routines, people, and places, all of which have been completely disrupted in the past couple of weeks) he's dealing with the change very well and is still his normal happy self most of the time.


8.13.15
I've finally gotten back into Mad Men after not really watching any episodes since the end of season 6, which was over two years ago.

The final season, season 7, was split into two 7 episode half-seasons that aired a year apart, and it was nearly a year between the end of season 6 and the beginning of season 7. When I tried to watch the first episode from season 7 when it was about halfway through the first half of the first season, the long delay between seasons and the knowledge that this season wouldn't actually come to a conclusion for more than a year from when I started watching it left me sort of indifferent to the show; it had lost too much steam, and there was still too much road ahead for me to really get into it again.

I tried a couple of more times to start season 7, especially in the lead up to the airing of the second half of the season this year, but I could never make it past the first episode or two, even when the show had wrapped up and I had all 14 episodes from the final season just waiting for me on the DVR.

I'm not sure what has changed, but when I gave the show another shot a few days ago, I got into it again and it's like the preceding two years of false starts never happened. Very curious to see how this show wraps up—I haven't read any of the spoilers, but the high level critical reaction is that this is one of the best series finales in recent memory, so I'm encouraged that the quickly-approaching conclusion will be very satisfying.


8.12.15
I went to see the new Mission Impossible movie with a friend last night, and it was—and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible—as devoid of meaning and content as any movie I've ever seen while still being enjoyable to watch and not feeling completely hollow. It was a perfect summer popcorn movie, simultaneously making the second and third entries in this series seem like art films but also exposing how clumsy and empty similar summer franchises like Transformers are compared to this film.

It had all the stuff you would expect—cool action set pieces, great visuals, etc., but when it came to the plot, it's like the filmmakers just and said, "You know what? Everyone knows that Cruise's Ethan Hunt isn't actually going to die no matter what kind of situation he's in, so let's give up and not try to introduce any drama into the plot." The whole point of whatever might be loosely categorized as plot elements is just to move Hunt from one action sequence to another, and if it got to hard to do that in an organic way, the movie just moved to that place abruptly, without any explanation or apologies.

I've really enjoyed some of the big action blockbusters that have come out this summer—the Avengers, Terminator, and now Mission Impossible—when I'm usually far more critical of franchises like this, even when I'm going to see them expecting them to be popcorn experiences. I don't know what has changed about my ability to experience these without as much judgment, but sometimes it's nice to go see something that's supposed to be relatively mindless entertainment and have it be exactly that.


8.11.15
Will had a pretty good first day of kindergarten—Julie did the dropoff and said he was a little nervous, but then he saw a girl he knew from summer camp and everything was fine. He was a little tired at the end of the day when I went to pick him up, but otherwise in good spirits.

We let him choose a place to go out to dinner to celebrate his first day in a new school, and he unsurprisingly chose the T. Mac in Decatur, which he calls "the game place" because they have a few video games in a room in the back. They also have one of those grabber games where you position a hook and let it drop over prizes to see if you can haul one back, and although we NEVER let him play this because they're just so hard to win, I decided to spend a couple of dollars as an extra treat.

This did not go exceedingly well. I ended up spending four dollars (it's fifty cents per turn) because Will kept on pressing the button to drop the grabber before we had it positioned (at least twice he dropped it before we moved it out of the starting position). On a couple of the tries where he didn't accidentally press the button early, the claws almost picked up a stuffed parrot but couldn't quite haul it back, and I think coming close to getting it upset him even more than the complete misses. He was just so tired and easily frustrated that there was almost no way it wasn't going to end in a meltdown (short of winning a prize, which seems to be impossible), and that's exactly what happened.

Still, it was overall a good first day. I'm sure there will be many adjustments and a few not-so-good days in the coming weeks, but I'm proud of his ability to adapt to new people and new situations, and I have confidence that it will only be a matter of weeks before he's just as happy in his new elementary school as he was for his three years at the Clifton School.


8.10.15
Will had another get together with some other kids from Fernbank on Saturday, and hung out with a neighborhood friend who's just back from spending the summer in California, but otherwise it was a pretty low-key weekend.

Today he officially starts kindergarten. I can't believe he's old enough to be going to elementary school now, but I'm so proud of who he is—smart, outgoing, talkative, and generally unafraid of new experiences. I'm not expecting him to adjust immediately or like his new school and classmates on day one as much as he liked his pre-K school and classmates after three years, but he seems more excited than worried about starting school, and that's a big deal for him given how attached he was to the Clifton School.


8.7.15
Julie and Will did tons of fun things during their time together this week, including orientation at his new school (where he got to meet his teacher, see his classroom, and meet some of his classmates—his pal Brooklyn will be in his class), a trip to the Georgia Aquarium, and an afternoon at Stone Mountain.

Will also went for his annual checkup at the doctor, and he got a clean bill of health (he was also happy to learn that not only did he not have to have any shots this year, he doesn't have to have any boosters until he turns 11).

I can't believe he's already five, and I can't believe he's already starting kindergarten—it's all happened in the blink of an eye. I love the little person he's turned out to be, and I'm so excited to see him grow and become whoever he's going to be as an adult.


8.6.15
After the High Museum, I took Will out for lunch to the Varsity, one of his favorite places to eat (mostly likely because of the ambiance and because we don't go there all that often than the food, although he has been on a little hot dog kick recently). He kept trying to guess where we were going, like the snack bar at Lego Land or to a movie theater, but he was very happy when he figured out it was the "V" (his name for it because of the giant V logo).

He ordered two hot dogs and onion rings, both of which surprised me, but it surprised me even more when he ate both hot dogs and a decent amount of onion rings. When he was eating one onion ring, he said, "This is how Aunt Carrie eats them," nibbling some of the batter off the outside, and then said, "And this is how I eat them," biting all the way through the ring (my sister hates onions in any form but likes the crust on onion rings sometimes).

To finish off the day, we went to the little bakery that I had wanted to go to on Father's Day but which we couldn't go in because it was closed. Sometimes I get a very intense craving for a brownie, especially since I'm still on a pretty lean diet most days, and I've been searching for a bakery that sells good ones. This one got good reviews online, so I wanted to give it a try.

So I got a brownie, and Will got a cupcake. The brownies were unfortunately only okay, not great, and I got the sense from Will's reaction to the cupcake that he felt the same about his dessert. But we had a great day together, and then I handed him off to mommy for adventures with her the rest of the week.


8.5.15
Yesterday I took Will somewhere he's never been before: the High Museum of Art, the main art museum in Atlanta. One of the few things that I miss about living in Baltimore compared to Atlanta is the amazing art collections nearby: not only did you have the Walters and the BMO in Baltimore, you had all the Smithsonians and the National Gallery, the Phillips, the Corcoran, the Hirshhorn, the Freer, and on and on. And Philadelphia's amazing museum also isn't too far.

If we were still living that area, I know I would have taken him to most of the museums in DC and Baltimore at least once, and I have a feeling we would be making day trips down to DC at least once or twice a month. But up here, the High is really the only game in town, and it doesn't really hold a candle to any of the museums in Baltimore or DC. It's a really nice building, and I guess occasionally have a decent temporary exhibit, but the permanent collection is nothing to write home about, and its the permanent collection of a museum that keeps you coming back month after month.

True, I've only been to the High once before, but the fact that it made almost no impression on me and that it's the only museum in town should tell you something. Still, I wanted Will to have some sort of experience going to look at art, so this was really my only option.

We started at the first level and worked our way up, eventually crossing over the bridge on the top level that led to the more contemporary wing and then working our way down. My only requirements were that we walk through every room, and that if he saw anything he liked that we stop and learn about it.

For the entire first floor and most of the second, we went through the rooms quickly, and the only things he really wanted to stop and look at were an elevator grate from the stock exchange in Chicago in the 30s, and a deluxe mirrored blue glass radio from the 40s. But then he finally stopped in a room full of paintings and said "I like this one" while I was still looking at works in another room, and to my great joy, the painting that had finally engaged him for more than two seconds was the only Rothko they had in the museum (in case you don't know, Rothko is far and away my favorite painter of all time).

After that he warmed up to the paintings a little more, pausing to look mostly at impressionist and post-impressionist works, and of course he really liked the Howard Finster room. We then made our way across the bridge at the top of the museum to the modern/contemporary wing, with its huge spaces and huge canvases/works, and he enjoyed that pretty well. We then made our way slowly down to the bottom of that wing, which ended with a special exhibit on Mo Willems, who writes and illustrates children's books. So that was a pretty good place to end our visit.


8.4.15
I had a conference call at 11 yesterday morning, and some other work to take care of in the morning, so Will mostly entertained himself, but after I got off the call, I decided to take him to one of his favorite hangouts, the Fernback Museum of Natural History.

He had a ball, as usual. We ended up staying around four hours, which included having lunch, seeing both of the IMAX movies that were playing (one about the oceans from Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) and one about robots, both of which Will loved), and going through all of the exhibits at least once.

It was a pretty good day, and I've got more excursions planned for today.


8.3.15
On Sunday, we got together at a local taqueria with some of the other families in the neighborhood who have kids starting kindergarten this year so Will could get to know some of his future schoolmates (and possible classmates). He's been a little stressed about going to a new school, having new teachers, etc., so we thought this might be a way to ease his anxiety.

He was very quiet and shy at first, as were most of the kids. He sat next to a little girl named Brooklyn, and they hardly talked at all during the meal. Afterwards, though, as the grown ups were talking, finishing their drinks, paying the checks, etc., all of the kids started to get more lively, and by the end of the night, Will was playing and chattering happily with a group of 2-3 other kids, including his tablemate Brooklyn.

I spend most of the evening talking to a dad who is in financial services for a private company, discussing Atlanta politics and Michael Lewis' two books about Wall Street, Liar's Poker and The Big Short. He was a nice guy, and it seemed like we had some interests in common, so hopefully I'll get a chance to get to know him a little better, even if his son doesn't end up being in Will's class.

Will doesn't have any school to go to this week—summer camp was over on Friday and his school doesn't start until next Monday—so I'm staying home with Will on Monday and Tuesday and then Julie will watch him the rest of the week. I have some ideas for fun activities we can do together, but hopefully I can have a couple of hours here and there to stay on top of work stuff as well.


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