Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Return of the Broom, Perfect Post

My Chargers boys.

Note that Q is holding a broom, just barely in frame at the bottom of the photo. Sigh. We had the cleaners here this morning, and Q so ardently admired their equipment that we were forced to get his little broom out of hiding and let him play with it instead of interfering with their work.

Here, SwingDaddy is trying to persuade Q to pose with a football for a Halloween picture, but he is saying, "No way, Dad! Brooms are much cooler."

We totally should have done a Harry Potter theme. Knitted him a cute Gryffindor scarf and had him hold the broom as a Quidditch player. Girl Con Queso had the right idea.

Tomorrow is Perfect Post day, and I've awarded Kittenpie for "Parental Guidance Advised." She points out that the movie ratings board uses that label, but " pretty much the entire world has that sticker implicitly on it." Thanks for the great writing at Life of 'Pie!

Updated: For more Perfect Posts, click the button.
The Original Perfect Post Awards

Monday, October 30, 2006

Octopus Enough for Two Years

Octopus and Mom, Halloween 2005

Last October, SwingDaddy surprised me with the cutest octopus costume for Q. Even now, I can't write about it without a big smile coming over my face. Q's going to be 20 months old in a few days, so this is probably our last chance to get him into one of those big plush Halloween numbers. But guess what?

We're not going to do it. That's right. Queen of plush sealife is going to pass up the opportunity.

He's getting picky about hats and such, and it's not worth arranging a fancy outfit that he'll resist wearing. Instead, we got Q and SwingDaddy matching Chargers jerseys that they wear every Sunday.

The octopus was cute enough to cover two years. I'm happy that the boy is growing up and enjoying "Foo-Ball."

In other news, my dad shows his mad PhotoShop skillz by producing me an all-pom-pom scarf. Wish I could buy it!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pumpkins with a Sense of Humor

I took Q to the pumpkin patch yesterday while SwingDaddy was on a bike ride, and we explored the entertainment options. Clearly, the proprietors had been left with stray children in the past.

Yes, that last tag does say, "Day Care Service - $100/child/hour, Uninsured, No License, No References." They had decorated the area with scarecrows, and one straw fellow was snowboarding across the pumpkins.

Q enjoyed inspecting the pumpkins, and we had a grand time until he decided that throwing dirt would be fun and I simultaneously discovered he had a poopy diaper. We headed home immediately, cleaned up, and painted an 'appy face' on our pumpkin friend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Totally Outclassed in the Pom-Pom Scarf Escalation

I used to travel to Seattle for work on a regular basis, and sometimes at the end of a week, there'd be an evening without office commitments, and I'd slip out to do a little shopping. One time, I was walking by the Gap and saw a really cute scarf in the window. Blue and white, with a bright pink pom-pom at each end.

Clearly, I needed to have this scarf! I searched the entire store, finally finding it in the basement GapKids sale section. Since it didn't exactly match my business suit, I tucked as much of it as would fit into my briefcase, and let the round yarn balls dangle outside, looking very odd, I'm sure.

Fast forward a few years to last weekend, when I saw to my great delight, the return of pom-pom scarves, this time at Target. Except like the escalation of blades in razors, there were now four pom-poms on each end of the scarf. I bought one in black and white, and was quite pleased with myself.

Today, I saw this at Bath & Body Works.

Seven red pom-poms. I'm not sure how to handle this yet.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dawn Serenade and an Embarrassing Number of Fluorescent Wigs

Blogger wouldn't let me post this last night, sigh.

I was a little groggy this morning when Q woke up, so I didn't join him singing like I usually do when he started chirping away. Good thing too, because listening to him solo, it's apparent how his repetoire has grown. First he started with a numbers song.

1-2-3, 3-2-1
2-3-4, 4-3-2

This makes more sense in Mandarin, where 1 and 7 rhyme, and 4 and 10 sound alike. He applauded for himself while I sat there still blinking in the dim light, and launched into his A-B-Cs.

At this point, I think he knows all his letters, but it's pretty hit or miss which ones he'll get at any one time. He wrapped up the song, having hummed a few parts where the letters were uncertain (particularly the fast LMNOP part) and cheered himself again. With a reasonable rendition of "Tick-Tock" as an encore, he finished the show and presented himself ready for breakfast.

We generally sing together, so I figured he was imitating me, but he ran pretty well on his own. Take it all with a grain of salt – my standards are pretty flexible for a singing toddler. We're totally going to have to start him on showtunes soon.

Speaking of shows, we've started rehearsing a new piece with our dancers, a fun electronica number. We're not set on costumes yet, but the gals are pretty excited to do wigs.

A couple of years ago, every teen fashion store (like Claire's, for instance) was selling wigs and hairpieces in wild colors. Think of Christina Aquilera's red hair extensions – before she started channeling 1940's divas and the even earlier skank phase.

There's nothing like shopping at a teenybopper store as an income-earning adult to feel rich. I picked up a bunch of bright hairpieces for a show we were doing at the time, and as everything went inevitably on sale at the end of the season, I kept bringing home more wigs and curls and clip-ons at half-price, and then at clearance. Hey, an entire purple wig for $3!

When I was cleaning up my costume and sewing gear in preparation for making the spare room into the nursery, I gathered up the odds and ends from different shopping bags and put them all together. Horrible moment of realization. You know those old ladies that are discovered to have 58 neglected cats in their home and have to be prosecuted as cat-hoarders? Apparently, I am a wig-hoarder.

If we wanted to, we could all have different colored hair for the coming show. Purple, blue, yellow, orange, and my Costume Conspirator friend already has pink. Should we do it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Will Work for Arms

Does it bother anyone else that the Baby Einstein puppets have no arms? We've been watching "Meet the Orchestra" with Q, observing various armless animal puppets carry trumpets, violins, and guitars around in their mouths and pretend to play them. The audience bounces up and down excitedly when the music is finished. They can't clap, because they too are armless puppets.

At least the duck puppet (above) has sort of vestigial wings. They had him playing the violin with his wing and the end of the bow off camera. It makes you hope they make enough money off this DVD that they can afford to have arms in the sequel.

SwingDaddy notes that the puppets do not bother him at all, and he thinks that it's strange that I think about it. In any case, we appreciate the Muppets more than ever.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dude, Come Back Here

Q is getting fast. Toddler running is so funny. Whoever came up with the phrase "the pitter patter of little feet" was smoking crack, because it's more like the CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP of little feet. His legs propel him forward, but his upper body twists wildly from side to side at the same time. Hey, he almost got that squirrel last weekend, so it works.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Managing to Say No to NaBloPoMo

Izzy posted a "Blogging Declaration of Independence" today that's definitely worth a read. I started blogging to develop the discipline of writing something, even just a little thing, every day. It's also encouraged me to take more pictures, and I've enjoyed collecting those images and words through the last few months.

However, it's really easy to get sucked into reading lots and lots of blogs, since there are endlessly interesting writers out there, living interesting lives. Recent events have made me realize that I need to spend more time tending to real life, so while I'm still reading, writing, and commenting, I'm not spending as much time on it, and not every night.

Sunshine Scribe wrote about NaBloPoMo, National Blogging Post Month (inspired by National Novel Writing Month, which Lady O is going to tackle), where you commit to writing a post each day. Even though I already post daily and I'm looking forward to seeing what other bloggers produce, I've decided not to sign up for the project. Instead, I'm going to declare my independence. Short posts most days and longer ones a few times per week, whatever feels right for the day. Let's see how that goes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Know I'll Catch Him This Time

We let Q burn off a little energy running around yesterday. He wasn't so interested in playing with the bouncy ball, but he chased this squirrel clear around the park. The squirrel was kind of getting lazy, so I wondered if Q might actually catch him.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Photo Fiasco, I Mean, Fun

A year ago, we scheduled a little family session with Todd, the wonderful photographer who took our wedding pictures. I had searched high and low for light-colored neutral sweaters for us to wear. We donned our new outfits that would call no attention to themselves and went to his studio. At almost eight months of age, Q was fairly patient, given my love of pictures, but the new environment with noisy next-door construction was distracting.

The result? Several hundred well-lit, beautifully composed photographs of a frowning baby.

Todd also captured one entirely angelic image (above) of the Q that was worth the whole shoot, and at least a dozen others that we loved, including one we selected for our Christmas card (below). But it was pretty funny, paging through the increasingly grumpy expressions in 394 other pictures.

This year, we are parents of a mobile toddler. We were not optimistic that we'd be able to get a photo with all three of us in the frame, but we had the good fortune to join forces with CY, our talented photographer friend from Mommy Group. She would take pictures of us, and then I would take pictures of CY, husband, and daughter Fi in her home studio.

Sometimes, it's a real relief to be hanging out with parents who have kids the same age. You don't feel badly when your attention completely wanders away from the conversation in order to pounce on an alphabet magnet about to be ingested. CY sent an excellent note a few days before, saying that she was "Looking forward to the fiasco, oops, I mean fun!"

In what might seem to be a minor, unrelated development to our story, her friend had brought a little housekeeping set for Fi. Mini ironing board and iron, tiny mop, child size broom. Drumroll, please.

Yes, you read that correctly, there were brooms to be had. Our fate was sealed at that moment. The boy loves brooms, and as soon as he saw the mop and broom, he lunged at them and held on with all his might. My friends, this year, we have hundreds of photographs of Q clutching a pair of toy brooms.

Instead of a Christmas card, I'm thinking of doing a montage. We'd start with a picture of the parents valiantly trying to part him from the brooms. Horrible grimaces. Pouty faces. Next, pictures showing acknowledgement that brooms and child are going to stay together. Various attempts to pose with the brooms. Father, mother, child, brooms.

I'm not even going to get into the part where Q was momentarily distracted by a guitar and CY seized the moment to hide the brooms behind the photo backdrop, only to have Q chase the cat around all the furniture until they both stumbled upon the stash.

In the end, he chippered up enough to smile happily at the camera, once we realized we just needed to be graceful with the brooms. It will be a reminder of exactly what our life was like at this point. CY is a major miracle worker – she got a whole set of good shots.

Her daughter is a real pro, so the shoot of their family went much more smoothly, and it was fun to pretend to be a real photographer. Hopefully, at least one of the pictures turned out for them!

P.S. We're still choosing between pictures of the brooms (and us, the minor players), so you'll have to imagine. Stiff bristled broom? Long handled broom? Whisk broom? What suspense!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tunnel Vision

Q decided to climb over me in the tunnel again today.

Blogger is being really slow, so I'll share today's photo shoot saga later. And yes, the newts and trampolines story too!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Extra-Special Super-Duper Edition

What's this I hear about a new version of The Lord of the Rings DVDs? They include the original and extended editions, a new documentary, and they're only available for a limited time! Buy now! I loved the books. I loved the movies. We already own both the short and long versions of the movie, and I've watched every special feature, including all the commentary tracks.

However, the re-merchandising has kind of worn out its welcome. Even this diehard fan isn't sure she can really bring herself to get another set. Too bad Netflix isn't stocking the new documentary – I'd get it in a heartbeat!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Help, I'm Tangled in Tulle!

This is what happens when your mom is clearing out the closet and finds a spare petticoat for the donation bin. Bouncy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is Your Glass Half Full?

Is this a glass half full or a glass half empty? SwingDaddy would say that it's a glass half full. I would say that it's a full glass.

No, this has nothing to do with our outlook on life, whether we're optimistic or pessimistic. This post is actually about how much liquid we perceive is in the glass.

I don't drink a lot, so when I have a larger cup, I only partially fill it. Otherwise, I'd have to pour a lot of leftover cranras juice into the sink at the end of dinner. It's a reflex – large glass means pour halfway, even if it's a drink for SwingDaddy. For a decade now, he's very patiently accepted the half full glass that I give him, taken it back to the refrigerator and added more. It looks wasteful to me, but he always empties the glass, so it's obviously not.

This summer, I had a breakthrough. Just after his small son sucked down 16 ounces of diluted apple juice, more liquid than I have ever consumed at a sitting in my entire life, I handed SwingDaddy a big glass of Coke, filled to the top.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Succumbing to the Thrift Store

Q has developed an intense fondness for an old cooking pot that we'd saved from our last kitchen cleanout as a toy for him. He'll hold it like a guitar and strum, or put the end of the handle to his mouth and pretend to toot-toot the trumpet. Lately, he's been demanding a big cooking spoon or spatula so that he can stir the pot, just like mommy and daddy. It was getting difficult to retrieve our (real) cooking gear when we needed to actually make dinner, so I did the unthinkable.

I went to Goodwill and bought an old ladle, spatula and stirring spoon. I brought more stuff into our house.

Mind you, it's not being snobby about buying things at a thrift store. I've certainly done that plenty and I find the bargain-hunting both cost effective and entertaining. However, we're really trying to take things from our house to Goodwill to free up some space, so it felt really odd to be bringing stuff back.

All for a good cause. The kiddo loves the spoon. There would be less strife on earth if everyone were so pleased with kitchen utensils.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How Long Can You Use Teething as an Excuse?

Q hard at work, last January.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a Blogging Baby reference to the SharpMom site, which has some good ideas about how to organize your day to actually accomplish things while amusing your children.

A particularly good point: "Don’t tell your children too much: Try not to tell your children about your plans for the day too far in advance."

The idea is that you won't have to deal with the disappointment if the zoo is closed or if one activity has taken more time than expected and you'll be skipping another.

A kinda funny point: "Here’s the key to success moms, be flexible. You are not dealing with CEOs here. You are dealing with totally unpredictable children."

Hmm, I would argue that there are plenty of business execs that act like totally unpredictable children. In fact, we might all be better off if we gave everyone at work a break now and again.

"Oh the facilities manager? He didn't have a good nap today, so just ignore his temper."

"Yeah, the manufacturing scheduler? She's teething, so go easy on her this afternoon."

See Metro Mama's post for more wisdom from the office that's applicable at home.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

At Least I Remembered His Shoes Today

Does anyone read my site via a feed? I switched to a short feed instead of a full one after being alerted to the bitacle nonsense, and it may have helped. They've pirated my older posts (gnarly thieves!) but the recent ones haven't appeared.

We had a productive day today. We've got a new box of diapers, food in the fridge for the week, a fresh complement of sippy cups and miniature, round-tined forks. The grocery store even had gallon containers of organic whole milk in stock, miracle of miracles. I no longer check the expiry dates of milk, knowing that it'll be long gone before the day comes.

I feel like a successful quartermaster. Of course, the last time I felt this prepared, the next thing we did was drive to an event without bringing shoes for the child. He was a new walker at the time, so he didn't mind being carried, but I felt pretty foolish. We were all dressed up, dresses and suits, while Q kicked his shoeless little feet.

Tonight it was time for bedtime milk when I realized that I hadn't yet washed the new sippy cups but had already packed away the old ones. I'm hoping that breaks the jinx and there isn't something even sillier coming this way.

Photo: While SwingDaddy waiting (endlessly, it seemed) for the class photo to be taken at yesterday's reunion, Q and I had some fun with the camera too. The focus isn't quite right in this shot, but I like it anyway. We were on the same side of the railing when I took it, so I'm lucky that it turned out at all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Year of Love, Anchor Leg

We attended the amazingly elegant wedding of college friends tonight. We had a lovely time, and best of all, Q was well behaved for Lady Q and Cha, who kindly watched him for the evening. Apparently, he has developed a PR mode for people other than his parents, and turns on the charm at will.

This was the eighth and last wedding of the season. The score:

White strapless wedding gowns: 5
White summer wedding frock: 1
Purple 1930's style wedding gown: 1
Yellow 1840's style wedding gown: 1

Trips to the store to look for wedding gifts: 0 (Thank God for online registries!)
Dance performances at receptions: 3
Toasts that needed to be edited out of the video: 1
Toasts and speeches in languages other than English: 3 (Norwegian, Chinese, unidentified)
Impressively artistic guest books: 4
Cable cars rented to take guests from church to reception: 1
White vintage Rolls Royces to take happy couples to the reception: 2
Ceremonies at churches: 3
Ceremonies at country clubs, historic houses, city hall, or middle of a forest: 5
Receptions with trampolines and newts: 1

Deliriously happy newlyweds: 16

Wishing you all the best in your new marriages, dear friends. We feel lucky to be part of your lives.

Friday, October 13, 2006

People Who Visit Our House, Pay Attention

Remember not to use things from the cabinet under the microwave without giving them a rinse first.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mad-Libs Marketing Spiel

Can you figure out what product is being advertised?

A revolutionary advancement in (market segment) technology. No (noun) this weightless has ever delivered so much (advantage). (Trademarked name) refers to a graduated (noun) seamlessly integrated at the apex of the (noun). When combined with our new (adjective) (noun), the result is incredibly lightweight, with (noun) where it's needed. A (market segment) technology this advanced could only have come from (popular company name).

Three guesses.

. . .
. . .
. . .

Here's the original text:

A revolutionary advancement in bra technology. No bra this weightless has ever delivered so much coverage. IPEX ™ refers to a graduated pad seamlessly integrated at the apex of the bra cup. When combined with our new microsmooth fabric, the result is incredibly lightweight, with coverage where it's needed. A bra technology this advanced could only have come from Victoria's Secret.

It's good to know that one's clothing is so advanced.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sofa is a Fun Word to Say

Our new sofa arrived today, and it's looking very grown up in our living room. In fact, it looks like it doesn't belong there, among the rest of our hand-me-down furniture, plastic SuperYard baby fence, and assorted nonsense. The old couch was an acquisition from my new-grad days, when I bought it secondhand from my roommate's friend, figuring that even though it was a little battered, it'd do just fine for a while.

Twelve years later, it's still in our house. The plus side? I don't even flinch when Q drools copiously onto its cushions. The down side? We're supposed to be passing for adults now, and what looked a little shabby a dozen years ago is certainly not better now.

In one of his early books (Bad Habits? Not sure, since in a fit of organization last year, it went to a second-hand bookstore), Dave Barry wrote about his collection of mismatched household items. If he and his (first) wife were to bring home a sleek Danish chair, the rest of the furniture would undoubtedly gang up on it during the night, and it would emerge looking as crummy as all the other pieces by dawn.

I like to think that our furniture, although old, is quite friendly, and since the new sofa is bigger than anything else in the living room, it should be able to hold its own. In fact, maybe it will cast an influence of elegance over the whole place.

Yes, I know that photographing the sofa with a cute octopus does not help our endeavor to decorate like grown ups, but Q refused to pose for the picture, and the octopus was more cooperative.

In other purchasing news, I was going to trumpet my shopping triumph this weekend. I bought a great Ann Taylor Loft blazer – navy blue with snappy buttons and subtle military flare – for $55, down from the list of $129, using the combination of various sales and coupons. I will wear the heck out of the jacket at work this winter. I felt very Mir-like, finding a great bargain, until I read Suebob's post today, and was reminded that I didn't even ask for an additional discount. Next time!

It occurs to me that I could have posted a photo of the blazer too, but I don't think Q or the octopus would be willing to wear it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Is It Possible to Have a More Archaic Registration System in 2006?

I went to register Q for an activity class yesterday and had a hard time believing that I live in the heart of Silicon Valley in the 21st century. The education center had set up a folding table with two chairs in the breezeway between two modular buildings. Upon reaching the table, I found a stack of blank registration forms, a list of classes, and a plastic tub with a slot cut in the top.

There were about a dozen moms, squeezing by each other, extracting forms with one hand and holding children with the other. A couple of strollers were abandoned nearby, since they wouldn't fit past the table in the hallway. I was solo, since Nanny J had already arrived to take care of Q, so I slipped through easily and got my paperwork.

I filled out every little box on the form – my name, address, phone number, and Q's name and birthdate. Fair enough questions. Then, they asked for the course #, the name of the class, the teacher's name, the day of the class, the time of the class, the start and end dates of the class, and the target age group. Wouldn't they know all this information from just the class number? I mean, they did put together the schedule, right?

Once the form was complete, I attached the check and stuffed the packet into the plastic tub chained to the table. After two weeks, I'll be able to drive back to the education center and look for a piece of paper stuck to their bulletin board to find out if we got into the class. I am not kidding.

They don't mail confirmations. They don't answer phone requests for whether your child got into the class. You can mail your registration to them in the first place, but those forms are reviewed after the walk-ins are processed, so you have a lower chance of getting in, plus you still have to drive over to check the bulletin board for results.

Can't we do this all online?

Yeah, I know that they probably don't have much of a budget, and a working website would cost money. In contrast, there aren't any costs associated with chaining the plastic tub to the table every other month (for them at any rate. For the parents, that's a different matter.) Q likes to jump on their trampoline and sing silly songs, so there we have it. More registrations to come in the future.

In other news, we had a nice family outing at the mall play place tonight. Q was pretty adventurous, climbing into a toy car and crawling through the log tunnel.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Remind Me Not to Binge on Reading

Just a picture post today. Lady O reminded me to read a favorite book of hers and SwingDaddy's (Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold), and I finally got around to it tonight. 400 riveting pages later, it's time to go to bed.

I was going to have a way better dad-son bonding photo than yesterday's, with SwingDaddy and Q simultaneously playing guitar and watching football together, but alas, someone was making odd faces that didn't capture well. Next time!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Watching Football, Shakin' It, and Leaving Handprints

A bit of this and that today.

- Go Chargers! I'm not much of a football fan, but SwingDaddy is working on Q.

- The bouncy castle was just for the elementary school children, so we just looked wistfully, and made plans to rent our own someday.

- My legs are achy tonight, a sensation that I now associate with illness, instead of the correct diagnosis, which is that I had a good workout today. I like my new aerobics class. The Bollywood music is a novelty to me, and I love the hip shaking and Indian styling.

- Mamacita Tina commented that SwingDaddy must have strong wrists to hold Q standing on his hand. Well, yes and no. He used to hold grown women standing on his hand when he spent a season on our collegiate cheer team, so little Q is pretty manageable. However, he did go through a lot of wrist wrapping and an entire Costco-sized bottle of Advil in one football season. . . .

- We had a lovely dinner with Pink Girl and her new husband yesterday. We had given them a pasta attachment for their impressive KitchenAid mixer, so we ate amazing fresh fettuccini and had a great time catching up. For much of the evening, Q was behaving like an advertisement for becoming a parent – "playing" the piano, giggling, and making cute faces.

We did have to pull him away from his examination of their glassware display and abruptly end the placement of little handprints in the ceramic bowl of sand and shells from beaches they've visited around the world, so I don't totally feel like we've misled them about the ease of parenthood.

- Pink Girl and a couple of her pals went to the "So You Think You Can Dance" tour concert and said they screamed like teenagers the whole time. She brought home a souvenir t-shirt autographed by many of the performers, including Heidi. If they tour for season three, we might have to go.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

He Does Windows Too

We've been doing our best to reduce pacifier usage (Q's, not ours), so we only give him one when he's going to sleep. There is no longer a high alertness state in the household when a "pup" (as he calls them) goes missing, haven fallen behind his crib during the night, since we don't go through that many each day. Over time, we seemed to be missing a bunch, so I did a sweep this morning and uncovered four pacifiers and a green plastic frog. Such treasure!

Although Q does occasionally beg for Pup when he's fussy, we know he associates it with sleep. On days when he refuses to nap, he'll stand at the edge of his crib and hand over his sleeping license with snappily defiant gestures. First, Blankie, and then Pup. No nap for me, mister.

He slept pretty well last night, after a week of awakenings, so we have our fingers crossed for tonight. He's proving his worth in other areas too – look, the kiddo does windows.

And plays the piano.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bringing Home a Really Terrible Movie

Against all good judgment tonight, Lady O and I fast-forwarded our way through Bring It On: All or Nothing. Based on the charmless cast ("Pinnacle of bland," according to Lady O) and pathetic script, it must be a direct-to-DVD sequel to the spunky Kristin Dunst flick, Bring It On, which I thoroughly enjoyed for its cheer acrobatics and dancing. After a little IMDB research, it turns out that this is the second sequel, and the reduced circumstances distinctly show.

The dance action in "All or Nothing" is still pretty good. The kids move well and there's some great choreography, although it took me a good couple of minutes to figure out that one scene was an valiant attempt at krumping, an aggressive street dance better illustrated in Rize. I liked how they blended cheerleading-style dance with an urban edge, although the acrobatics were significantly weaker than displayed in the original.

We didn't follow the story very well, since we only watched the dance sections, but what we saw of the "drama" left us flinching. Better not to know what's going on.

It's been a long time since I've seen a televised cheerleading competition, but the collegiate squads are amazing. I remember the championship team began their routine with the entire squad, male and female, doing a standing back tuck (backflip), and that was just the first two seconds. SwingDaddy reports that in states where cheer is a big deal, like the Midwest, they get the pick of candidates. The men are huge – guys that just barely got cut from football- and the women are tiny- sub 100 pounds – for better airtime.

Tomorrow, we're taking Q to a neighborhood fair at the elementary school down the street. The flyers promise a bouncy castle. I'm hoping that they allow kids as small as Q to go inside, because I think he'll love it. And I hope they allow adults too. Wheee, bouncy castle!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Let Me Out Of Here

Q has had a little trouble getting to sleep these last few nights, perhaps because we indulged him on the first evening and he's realized he can get away with it. Tonight, we put him to bed, and he smiled and waved, "night-night." When we stepped out of the room, the wailing began.

A rough translation:

Maaaa-maaaaa! Baaaaa-baaaaa! I've been abandoned on the steps of an orphanage, wrapped only in a thin blanket. In the wilds of Transylvania. Baaaaaa-baaaaa! And it's starting to snow. The feral dogs are approaching. They're starving because the people have eaten all the rats. Oh, help me, pleeeeeeease.

Happily, he fell asleep tonight in about ten minutes, before he could reach the next stage of pathos. Sleep well, my love!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Challenge You to Lose Your Perspective This Fast

I did indeed get audited on my travel expenses, but they were approved and I can just forget about Times Square hotel costs for a while. More thoughts from the trip:

The unfortunate side-effect of taking different airlines going east and west, is that United and American failed to synchronized their movie offerings, so both my flights showed "X-Men: The Last Stand." The side-effect of being crazy-busy with the roadshow was that I didn't watch the movie on the way out because I was working and on the way back, I was sleeping, so it didn't matter anyway.

X3 is now on the top of my Netflix queue, because Hugh Jackman is awesome and Ian McKellen is too, so who could miss a flick with both of them? Except silly me, of course, who already had a chance to see it twice.

Back to the travel story: I like to think that I am an experienced and clear-thinking traveler. I dress in clothes and shoes that are easy to manage through the security checkpoints. I have my ID in an easily accessible pocket. All contraband items have already been removed from my carry-on at home. However, after multiple delays on one of the intermediate flight legs, I wasn't so smooth.

I was traveling with a co-worker whom I'd never actually met in person until the day before at the airport. It was funny to see us triangulating to find each other. "I'm wearing a black blazer, standing by the Hertz sign. Is that you coming down the escalator holding the phone to your ear?"

We were so delayed that the food concessions and gift shop behind the security checkpoint had all closed. Having dumped my water bottle prior to security, I was getting really thirsty after multiple hours with my laptop huddled around the two active power sockets in the terminal. After water, wireless internet access must be the world's most valuable resource to a stranded traveler.

It's important to drink lots of liquids.

I ventured back through security, found the remaining open shop, bought a snack, a bottle of water each for my co-worker and me, and came back to get my boarding pass checked. You can see where this is headed, can't you? Took off my shoes, put my shopping bag through the x-ray.

"Ma'am. You can't bring water through this checkpoint."

Well, duh. I went back, drank my water, gave my co-worker's water back to the shop (he insisted he didn't need it), and went back through security for the third time that evening. I knew all the TSA officials by name at this point. I was exhausted and frustrated. We finally trudged through the rain onto a little prop plane and spluttered our way to New York to the accompaniment of a chatty sorority flight attendant. The cab got us to our hotel by 11:30pm.

I accepted a handicapped-accessible room on a "low floor" (by the way in New York, the 23rd is considered a low floor), instead of taking a regular room twelve stories further up. On one of my last trips, the Marriott was refurbishing the elevators, leaving half the bank unusable, so I walked 29 flights up and down. I changed my travel profile to request "low floors" after that.

(Funny side note – shortly after that problem-elevator trip, SwingDaddy and I took a weekend getaway to San Francisco, where I requested a low floor, and the desk agent was so apologetic when none was available. I paused for a moment. "How many floors are in this hotel?" There were only eight. "Uh, no problem, any floor is just fine, thanks.")

Climbing stairs? No problem!

Anyway, I was settling into my hotel room, and found that there were no hooks on which to hang my towel to dry in the oddly proportioned bathroom. Do disabled people not need to dry their towels too? This was so inconsiderate! The nerve of the hotel planners!

So in the space of a few hours I had gone from being incredibly grateful to receive my 4 ounces of drinking water and relieved to not be stranded behind the security line of a small New England airport to being disgruntled at the inadequate space to hang my towels in a midtown Manhattan hotel. I challenge to you lose your perspective that fast.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Setting the Land Speed Record at Costco

I made it in and out of the fearfully huge warehouse of Costco tonight in twelve minutes. Woo-hoo! After my ballet class (taught by Mr. Enrollment Bait, charming as ever), it was near closing time, but I dashed over since we were running out of apple juice.

The trick to being fast is not getting a shopping cart. With five gallons of apple juice and a packet of fish fillets in the shoulder bag, one is motivated to head for the checkout line immediately.

Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to avoid seeing the Elmo-chair. Elmo has been trapped in the form of a chair! I am afraid that anyone sitting there would be immediately tickled by hidden arms.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not Totally Unprepared

Happy Autumnal Equinox! It's time for our quarterly emergency readiness check again. Yes, I know that I'm almost two weeks late, but I was in New York on the 21st, which is an excellent city in which to be reminded of the importance of home safety preparations, but not a good place to do anything about it, since I wasn't actually at home.

Sometimes emergency plans look so daunting that it's easier to do nothing. So, my goal is small – just to make our kits and plans a little better once each season, and make us less totally unprepared. For instance do you have the phone number of your insurance number handy? Heck, do you know the name of your insurance company? Make sure you have that stuff!

It is important to have a flashlight.

Last quarter, I stocked up some water purification tablets and started a list of what we should take in case of evacuation. I came up with a reasonable list, but it would still have taken too much time to find all the things that were on it. My new project will help take care of that problem. I'm going to make Go-bags for SwingDaddy and me.

What is a Go-bag? It's a backpack or easy to carry container filled with the things you need if you much evacuate immediately. I figure Q's diaper bag is basically a go-bag for him already, so I'm just going to work on two for this round.

I'm using our existing backpacks, since we very rarely use them now and they're just sitting in a closet. I've added jeans and t-shirts (rescued from our donate-to- charity pile) and will add to the bags in the upcoming weeks. The excellent Are You Prepared? site suggested including the standards of flashlight and radio, as well as emergency cash in small denominations, photos for family members for re-identification purposes, extra keys to your house, medications, and other critical items. I highly recommend checking out the site, whether you live in earthquake country, hurricane territory, or anywhere else.

I wish we could raid the contraband bin at airport security for things like spare pocket knives and toothpaste, since it seems silly to buy those when there are thousands somewhere, doing nothing but keeping company with other confiscated items. I'm going to do my best to find things around the house that we already have, instead of purchasing new. I'll let you know how it goes!

Mommy, may I use your purse as my Go-bag?

Thinking forward to the next emergency refresh in December: If you need to rotate the canned food in your supply, holiday food drives are a good way to clear out your current stock (of still-good food) and replace with newer preferences.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Asking For Hep

Each month Lucinda and MommaK host the Perfect Post Awards for bloggers to honor their favorite posts of the preceding month. For September, I'm awarding BubandPie for writing Hep, which describes how her two children are learning and interacting. Bub wants to complete tasks by himself, but Pie prefers to ask for "hep." It made me think about how different children are and how we can indeed influence them - but only so much!

Thanks, Bubandpie!


Q is starting to display his imagination. Yesterday, he took bites out of his toast so that he had a sort of wing shape, and made motor noises as he pretended to fly it overhead. "Epi, epi!" (Airplane). Then he pushed his toast across the table and said, "Bus!"

This morning, he pretended to strum his fork and said, "Tar!" (Guitar). He's also turning his toy buckets upside down to drum, so I fear that someday I'll come home and SwingDaddy will have installed a much longed-for drum set. Maybe if we get a house big enough to have a soundproofed room, dear. I want to play too!