Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Since Leap Day comes but once every four years, we wanted to mark this special extra day. We could not think of any particularly unusual jumping activities, and we did not want to dine on frogs, rabbits, or grasshoppers (a Bistak family tradition is to eat appropriate foods on all holidays, like heart on Valentine's Day). Although not all leaping foodsources are prohibited on a Lenten Friday, we decided to pass on the holiday cuisine.

Instead, we just made sure to have some fun. Lea and Carter went to the lake at Prairie Park since it was seasonably warm (this winter has been unseasonably cold, so a day with normal temperatures felt downright balmy). Erik and Carter made banana bread later in the day and Carter was a great sous chef, mashing the bananas, grating the zest,
and stirring all of the ingredients. His verdict on the final product? "This is awesome!"

We wish a Happy Leap Day to everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Carter and the Dinosaur

Inspired by dinosaur-themed birthday gifts from cousin George and the song "Nine Bowls of Soup" from "Here Come the 1,2, 3's," we decided to visit KU's Natural History Museum today. Because Kansas was a shallow sea millions of years ago, the KU collection features fossilized remains of many aquatic creatures. The mosasaur above is the most impressive, complete skeleton, but it is joined by several other displays on the dinosaur floor. We explored the animal exhibits, including the impressive, huge display of stuffed animals that was the centerpiece of the Kansas pavilion at the Chicago World Fair in the 19th century, and also spent time in the bug room (you can see Carter crawling out of the larger-than-life worm hole below).

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Three

Today we are celebrating Carter's third birthday (or as his uncle Scott puts it, the completion of his third trip around the sun). Unfortunately, everyone in the Herron household has been struck down by a nasty respiratory infection at varying levels of severity. Poor Carter is so uncomfortable, he did not want to open presents or eat the simple, frosting-less cranberry cake that he has been requesting for weeks. But, he was a real trooper, opening the present that his visiting Bistak grandparents brought and blowing out the candles on his cake. Here are photos from today, and one from a healthier time a couple of days ago, with Carter frolicking in his eagle hat.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Choose and Moos

We did not vote in the last presidential primary in Kansas because the 2004 contest was so late that the nomination was all wrapped up. This year, Kansas did not have enough money to hold a Super Tuesday primary. The Democrats and Republicans opted for caucuses.

While Erik has some misgivings about non-secret, non-private voting, we were intrigued by the opportunity to caucus. We were initially unsure if Carter would be admitted, however. The local Democratic Party office assured us that he could come as an observer. So, Carter is following in his father's footsteps, serving as a non-voting observer in today's Kansas Caucus.

Lea was a strong Edwards supporter throughout the early part of the presidential campaign.
Edwards' departure from the race prompted us to caucus for Barack Obama. Erik was particularly swayed by an interesting piece about Obama in the Atlantic Monthly, which is summarized on a fellow political scientist's blog.

We were directed to caucus at the Douglas County Fairgrounds and headed out in the increasingly inclement weather. The site is only two miles from our house, but it took around 30 minutes to get there because the traffic was so heavy. We arrived just as the cold rain picked up in intensity, and stood in line for a few minutes before we were admitted. The caucus was held in a building that is essentially a large barn; it hosts cattle competitions during the annual fair. After officially registering, we entered the cattle pens and sat with other Obama supporters.
The turnout was a real cross-section of Lawrence, with strong student representation.

An hour or so later, the process began. Our site had 2,218 voters who grouped themselves by their preferred candidate, with a group of undeclared voters as well. As a side note, more voters were at our polling site than participated in the entire state in the last Kansas primary. To remain viable, 15% of attendees must support a candidate. Each candidate was able to have a representative speak for five minutes to convince other caucus-goers to cross over. Four candidates had advocates state their cases, two that have already dropped out (Edwards and Kucinich), as well as Clinton and Obama. After the speeches, voters could realign. The initial count was taken, and only Clinton and Obama had the requisite 15%. Another realignment allowed supporters of non-viable candidates and the undeclared to choose a candidate. In the end, a few stalwarts remained in the Edwards and Kucinich camps, but most supported Obama. He received 9 of 11 delegates selected by our caucus. These delegates will join others from across the state to allocate 32 of 41 delegates to the Democratic National Convention (9 are "super delegates"). After the allocation, we headed out into the driving snow to make our way home.