I'll be traveling the next three weeks, so please be prepared for little or unsubstantial action on this blog. Next week I'm in Reykjavik for a network meeting on "Holographic Methods and Applications". August 27-29 I'm running the Science Writers Workshop in Stockholm together with George, this year on the topic "Quantum Theory." The first week of September then I'm in Trieste for the 2014 conference on Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity, where I'll be speaking about space-time defects.Unfortunately, this traveling happens just during the time when our Kindergarten is closed, and so it's quite some stress-test for my dear husband. Since you last heard from Lara and Gloria, they have learned to count, use the swing, and are finally potty trained. They can dress themselves, have given up requesting being carried up the stairs, and we mostly get around without taking along the stroller. Yes, life has become much easier. Gloria however still gets motion sick in the car, so we either have to drug her or pull over every 5 minutes. By and large we try to avoid long road trips.
The girls have now more of a social life than me, and we basically can't leave the house without meeting other children that they know and that they have to discuss with whether Friday comes before or after Wednesday. That Lara and Gloria are twins apparently contributes greatly to their popularity. Every once in a while, when I drop off the kids at Kindergarten, some four foot dwarf will request to know if it's really true that they were together in mommy's tummy and inspect me with a skeptic view. The older children tell me that the sisters are so cute, and then try to pad Gloria's head, which she hates.
Gloria is still a little ahead of Lara when it comes to developing new skills. She learned to speak a little earlier, to count a little earlier, was potty trained a little earlier and learned to dress herself a little earlier. Then she goes on to explain Lara what to do. She also "reads" books to Lara, basically by memorizing the stories.
Lara on the other hand is still a little ahead in her physical development. She is still a bit taller and more often than not, when I come to pick them up at Kindergarten, Lara will be kicking or throwing some ball while Gloria plays in the sandbox - and afterwards Gloria will insist on taking off her shoes, pouring out the sand and cleaning her socks before she gets into the car. Lara takes off the shoes in the car and pours the sand into the seat pocket. Lara uses her physical advantage over Gloria greatly to take away toys. Gloria takes revenge by telling everybody what Lara did wrong again, like putting her shoe on the wrong foot.
The best recent development is that the girls have finally, after a quite difficult phase, stopped kicking and hitting me and telling me to go away. They now call me "my little mommy" and want me to bake cookies for them. Yes, my popularity has greatly increased with them figuring out that I'm not too bad with cakes and cookies. They don't particularly like my cooking but that's okay, because I don't like it either.
On an entirely different note, as some of you have noticed already, I agreed to write for Ethan Siegel at Starts With A Bang. So far there's two pieces from me over there: How the experiment that claimed to detect dark matter fooled itself and The Smallest Possible Scale in the Universe. The deal is that I can repost what gets published there on this blog after 30 days, which I will do. So if you're only interested in my writing, you're well off here, but check out his site because it's full with interesting physics writing.