Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hip, Hip, Hippo!

It's books today!

I cannot tell you how much we love Sandra Boynton around here. We just received our copy of Hippos Go Berserk. Gotta take advantage of free shipping from the Amazon Prime trial before it expires! Mary P also recommended Blue Hat, Green Hat, so that's next on our list.

One hippo, all alone
calls two hippos on the phone.
Three hippos at the door
bring along another four.


We later escalate to

Nine hippos come to work.
ALL THE HIPPOS GO BERSERK!


I also ordered Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, recommended as an amusing book about fiction writing. I read writing books the way other people read home decorating magazines. I may not be working on a novel or remodeling my bathroom, but I find it entertaining to hear what the experts have to say on the topic.

A recent favorite is Stephen King's On Writing, both writer's guide and autobiography. He includes an account of his horrible brush with death a few years ago, when a careless driver crunched him along the side of a road. I'm not a big horror fan, but have enjoyed his other stories such as Shawshank Redemption. Plus, any guy who can be in a band with Dave Barry has to be cool!

The other writing book I must mention is the very first book I ever special-ordered: Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail, by Jacqueline Jackson. I'd read it in the middle school library, and remember telling my parents that I really needed my own copy. Ms. Jackson talked about writing, capturing creativity in all forms, and living life, not just observing it. The rest of the title line from the Lewis Carroll poem states, "Turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Our New Hero, Bob the Builder

Aside from our own childhood memories of Sesame Street, we're novices at the children's television game. I ran through all four commentaries on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Extended Edition in those early days while I was nursing Q day and night, but as he got more alert and distracted by the flickering screen, I left it off. SwingDaddy and Q bonded over Monday Night Football last autumn, but that had been mostly it for TV.

More recently, we've found a PBS channel called Sprout that features very, very short programs tailored for my (oops, Q's) attention span. It's perfect, because sometimes we'd like to distract him or have him settle down, and a 5 minute program will do just that, without being stuck in a longer TV session.

There are some clear winners and losers on the programming front. We're fond of Pingu, a claymation Penguin who speaks in honks and wheezes. We can't understand half the stories, as they were targeted for a Japanese audience, but we love Pingu all the same. He has a little fuzzy sibling who hasn't developed grown-up penguin plumage yet, and they get into all kinds of animated trouble.

In contrast, I don't think I've ever seen a more pedantic storyline than for The Berenstain Bears. I think that "teaching the lesson with a sledgehammer" would be too mild. "Bank vault dropped on the head" or "crushed by a Panzer tank division" would be closer to the feeling.

When Brother Bear is too impatient to learn the basic skills of drawing, he complains in what feels like thirty-five individual scenes. His parents get him to coach a wannabe athlete who is too impatient to learn basic skills of baseball in another twenty complaints, and when the light bulb goes off, it feels like you've watched Edison first invent glass and wire before working on electricity. Maybe kids like it. I don't think I'll ever find out, since I'll cut power to the TV before Q watches another episode.

My current favorite is Bob the Builder. Bob, his business partner Wendy, and their good hearted machines (Dizzy the cement mixer, Lofty the crane, Scoop the backhoe loader, etc) solve construction problems. They enjoy working together as a team, they're cheerful and non-whiny. Plus it makes my Industrial Engineering heart glad when I see Bob call Wendy on the mobile phone to keep her appraised of their status and what other character should be sent to the build site. No "Gift of the Magi" communications disasters for this team!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Um, wow, that's great . . yeah, congratulations!

I adore Q and love seeing SwingDaddy be a super father. That being said, the amount of work and constant vigilance involved in being a parent is impossible to describe. Two pairs of friends who became first-time parents in the months before Q arrived have announced their news - they are expecting their second children.

A moment of stunned silence. I think, "Oh my God." Then my social reflexes jump in to save me, "That's wonderful! We're so happy for you! What terrific news! Congratulations!"

I am hoping that the pause was unnoticeable to the happy moms and dads. I am genuinely delighted for them . . . but I'll need more time before we think about Q2.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Love Those Lemurs

This morning at the zoo: Q observes a Red Ruffed Lemur. I note that those long tails are mighty decorative. SwingDaddy points out that one should be sensitive about such comments in front of a wilderness enclosure. I agree that while ostriches and peacocks shed regularly, a lemur is never going to not want its tail, so we'll stick to using feathers on hats.

There's also an exhibit of guinea pigs, with a placard explaining that they are native to Brazil and live in the wild in groups of five to ten. SwingDaddy and I are both surprised to read that such a silly (but cute!) animal can survive in the wild, although obviously they come from somewhere.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Brain Freeze

After ballet this morning, I stopped by Jamba Juice and had them split a smoothie into two cups. I've let Q share a bit before, and he's so reluctant to give back the cup that I got him his own this time. When he and SwingDaddy returned from their bike ride, I waved the Juice and he came running. In order to show his approval, he made loud appreciative sounds in between each sip. Slurp. Mmmmm! Slurp. Mmmmm! Slurp. Mmmmm!

The kiddo drank as much as I did and was getting so cold that he started to shake. We couldn't get the cup away from him though. Slurp. Shiver! Slurp. Shiiiiiverrrr!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Baby's First Text Message

I've been migrating my work email and calendar from an alpha system to the corporate production system, as well as getting my Treo set up (should be email enabled next week!), and it looks like things are more or less working. Q has inherited his parents' fondness for gadgets and sure looks like he's tapping in his first text message in this photo.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chill Out With Those Wacky Defensive Instincts

Q and I visited a new park yesterday. Good swings, reasonable play structures, and overall thumbs up, although it has few trees. The lack of shade wasn't a problem at 6 o'clock, but it'd be really hot during the day. We'll have to bring towels to take advantage of the water-spouting frog next time.

Q was happy to roam around, never straying far from me, as we watched a family launch a kite and then painfully extract it from a tree. We entered an enclosure with activities on each wall, and I crouched down next to him to help him move little pegs. At that moment, three children cornered us rapidly and I was stunned at how menaced I felt. One boy was dead-eyed, expressionless as a zombie, and another leaned over, waving his arm at Q's head, speaking in tongues. I was ready to scoop up the baby and run!

Deep breath. I listened to the second boy, and I think he was speaking a Central European language and saying the names of sea creatures on Q's hat. The first child was just too young to really focus and engage. The girl piped up to say, "Kite!" and we all looked up to see the rescued kite soar over the park.

I really don't watch many horror movies, since I already have an overactive imagination, and this is a sign that I definitely shouldn't watch more.

~
In other news, Q discovered strawberries this week. Actually, he learned that he likes to alternate eating them and squishing them, resulting in an appearance not unlike an extra from Evil Dead II.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thar be Dragons

We were visited by a dragon this morning!

Q woke up early so we played with making fun shadows.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Flappers, Pleather, Weddings

Lady O and I just signed up for a class on "Paris in the Jazz Age." She, SwingDaddy, and I plan to write our next dance concert around an international mystery set in the 1920's, so this will be research as well as entertainment. I'd actually booked a theater for the show, but since we had Q, we decided to postpone until he's a little bigger.

I sorted through tons of old photos for last weekend's reunion slide show, bringing back vivid memories. This is the cast picture from a "Matrix" number featuring Humans and Agents. Key takeaway: Pleather costumes are really hot. Yes, sometimes in a sexy way, but mostly in a "need extra towels to clean up the sweat" way.

Yesterday, we received our fifth wedding invitation of the season, as well as a save-the-date message for a sixth one. Such a happy year! I've been admiring the sophisticated websites built by each couple, detailing their proposal story, details about the ceremony and directions to the reception site. Our wedding was in the Jurassic Era, before everyone used digital photography and lived on the web.

I was describing the beautiful websites to colleagues at work, and one fellow commented that the wedding party photos & bios would make it easier for folks to scout potential amours in advance. That's an entrepreneurial idea! "Wedding website brought to you by Match.com."

* Edited to credit our fabulous photographer for the wedding snap above.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Crunch


Q helped me bake muffins early this morning. He did a good job stirring in the blueberries before his curiosity got the better of him and he made a grab for the batter with his other hand. I had been waiting for that moment and managed to get the bowl and spatula away before goop went flying. He was so excited to help! No photographs - not enough hands.

I used the cute mini trays for most of the muffins, so that we wouldn't have to break big ones into pieces for him to eat. Nanny J told me later that Q ate four mini-muffins at his second breakfast, so not to bother with the little size anymore. He can handle full sized treats.


Q and I took a walk this evening, carefully avoiding the street of the legendary tempting cactus. We passed beneath a big tree that had shed dried berries all over the sidewalk, and Q discovered that they made a satisfying crunching sound underfoot. It was a quiet street, so I allowed him to let go of my hand and crunch back and forth about forty times, until he was quite certain that no berry had been neglected.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More Mother's Day, Mazurka, and Giant Frogs

SwingDaddy thoughtfully brought me Mother's Day flowers when I came home from the business trip, so they wouldn't wilt while I was gone. Compare the first picture with the second, from last year!

Last year, Q was still kind of floppy, and only smiled intermittently. This year, he was plenty alert and intent on bashing the flowers with his broom. Maybe he'll be big enough to hold me up next year.
~

I had planned to take Q to another new park today, but the rain sent us to the mall's PlayPlace instead, along with roughly a thousand other restless children. Q explored the funhouse mirror, a small slide, and was particularly fond of this giant frog. I like the glimpse of kiddie mayhem in the background.


When we got home, he was in high spirits, showing off his signs and bringing me books to read. I taught him "bunny" and he seems to have picked it up well. There are so many rabbits in his storybooks that he has plenty of opportunity to bounce his fingers around.

We played a little music, he clapped his hands, slapped his legs, and spun around and round. Born to be a waltzer, bless his stompy little feet! Big highlight for me: I said, "Come give Mommy a hug!" and he ran over and tumbled into my lap, wrapping his arms around me. Might have been a coincidence, but I'm counting that as a hug!
~

Last night's dancing was bliss. Of course, the night would have been incomplete without a Can-Can, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was another dance though, Marek's Mazur, that most clearly showed me what I've unconsciously missed this last year. The Mazur is almost like running to music, flinging yourself across the air and landing lightly, when the beat calls for it. It's art with a high pulse rate.

SwingDaddy and I had some great dances - we're going to need to get out more this year.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On the Dance Floor


One of our dance troupes celebrated ten seasons with a big reunion today. It was great to dance all our old favorite pieces, marvel at how the choreographies are still in our bodies, and catch up with friends. I haven't danced this much since before Q was born!

Photo: The current performers showed off a nice foxtrot created by Nanny K.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Cuteness Log


I've started a Cuteness Log where I keep jpegs of the adorable plush animals and vegetables that I see online. This is an alternative to buying them and causing both bankruptcy and overcrowded living quarters. So far it's working. I'm happy to just admire the pictures, knowing I can see them at any time.

The log was inspired by a web article (can't find the link, darn it) describing a fellow who sidestepped his impulse purchases by adding items to his Amazon wishlist instead. He'd go back to the list every so often and laugh at how insignificant the items seemed later, compared how much he'd wanted them at the time.

The veggie basket above is from Under The Nile, a store that features organic cotton products for children.

~
In other cute news, Q has invented his own sign for "ice cream," which involves pointing at the ice cream cone in his picture book and wagging his tongue back and forth. How did this come about? He's had a few licks of ice cream before, but it was months ago! Does he remember? SwingDaddy, Nanny J, and I are quite amused.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Play Time

While SwingDaddy went on a long bike ride tonight, Q and I investigated a new park. He enjoyed the swing . . .

and climbed on top of the play structure . . .

admired the sidewalk art . . .

and strode into the sunset.

It's good to be home.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Red Carpet Lounge, Washington Dulles Airport

(Edited from my earlier posting for coherency and pictures.)

Blogging from the road today. My boss's flight was three and a half hours before mine, so I'm stuck at the airport for a while longer, waiting for the plane home. IAD (Dulles International Airport) doesn't have wireless internet access, and I thought my head would explode if I was offline for that long, so I bought my way into the Red Carpet lounge with mileage points. It cost 7000 points, but I haven't managed to use miles as fast as they accumulate, so why not?

I'm enjoying a comfy chair, internet access, and as many complimentary crackers as I can consume. Rah. Where I'd really like to be is home with SwingDaddy and Q, but hopefully I'll be getting home on time late tonight.

It's amazing that crossing thousands of miles by air and road came be almost mundane. Once upon a time, air travel was a much more glamorous business, before the endless baggage inspections and removing-of-shoes. I had a Monday flight to Denver – then shuttle to another terminal - flight to Tampa - shuttle to the main terminal - rental car acquisition - drive to hotel. The Hampton Inn in Tampa made me think back to childhood vacations, where motel doors all faced outdoor corridors and people wandered around in flip-flops and friendly smiles.

My boss ("CelloGal") and I had meetings all day yesterday. She was pleased with the presentations I delivered, and we got to meet a lot of our good contacts face-to-face. We trekked back to the airport, and travel took a wacky turn from there.

Our flight to D.C. last night included a section of turbulence bad enough that I wondered if they plane would go down. Will the last thing I do be corporate email? Ick. After that thought, I shut down my computer, which took a half dozen tries because I couldn't move the mouse steadily through the aircraft thrashing.

We did land safely and found the shuttle for the main terminal. The IAD shuttles are unlike any I've ever seen. Instead of the usual train or monorail, they are sort of like trailers on wheeled stilts. Everyone files down the hallway into the trailer, they shut the door, and it drives off. When we looked out the window, we saw another shuttle going by, and it looked like a mismatched animal from one of those kids’ books where you flip half-pages and end up with a rhinoceros body atop zebra legs. Highly functional, but weird looking.


When we docked at the main terminal, we realized that there are doors and a driver's cabin on each end of the trailer, so that they never have to turn it around. Thank heavens, because it must have a nasty turning radius. I took a photo out the window of the shuttle today on my way back to the gate, so that you can see how this thing looks, but you'll have to wait until I figure out how to send photos from my Treo first. (Ha! I did get the picture sent to my PC. It looks much taller in real life. And what are those smokestack-like things on top?)

CelloGal and I packed ourselves into yet another shuttle, this time bound for the rental car depot. They were short of cars last night. Really short. I found my assigned car number on the directory board, and we searched the parking lot to find that they'd given us a massive pickup truck. It looked perfect for hauling firewood or maybe an I-beam or two, but not so good for taking two petite women into town. Two rounds later with the rental agents, we got into a nice ordinary car, and drove to the hotel in time for a late dinner.

The Hilton was pretty glamorous, with marble bathroom counters and a flat screen TV, but there's one thing I don't get. The little ol' Hampton had complimentary internet access and breakfast. At three times the price for a night's stay, the Hilton charged an additional $9.99 for internet access and more again for breakfast. What's up with that?


The travel imps sprang one more surprise this morning in the form of a fire alarm while I was still in my pajamas. My room was on the first floor, right next to an exit, so after I confirmed there wasn’t immediate danger, I did a super-fast change of clothes, threw my computer, wallet, and Claude* into my briefcase, and rolled out the door. As expected, it was a false alarm (perhaps courtesy of the noisy youngsters who arrived at midnight?), and I had time to go back and pack the rest of my things.

Our business meetings went well again today, and we found our way back to the airport. I've been catching up with work email in the lounge and reading SwingDaddy and Nanny K's accounts of playing with Q yesterday. So geeky - reading about my child on the web! I've eaten about as many crackers as I can stand, and I should go check on the flight. Just one more leg to go - homeward bound!

* Claude is my traveling buddy, a Beanie Baby crab who is very f-l-a-t and therefore fits well into my briefcase.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Milkshake


When Q first started drinking cow's milk, we were buying a non-homogenized organic brand, which required us to mix in the cream. He'd watch us shake the milk before we poured it, so he'd shake his little cup before every sip! Shake, shake, shake. That must be what you do to milk.

We've switched to another organic brand that's easier to find at our usual market. Since it's homogenized, we're not shaking the milk, and he's stopped doing it too. It was a cute habit, but I don't mind not mopping the floor as often.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Yolky and Timey

The cutest egg yolk separator and egg timer ever! The former was a gift to mom, and the latter was a gift for Lady O, who says she's taking Timey to work today to keep her staff meeting in line. Everyone is allowed 3 minutes to talk.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day! I hope it was a good day for all of you and your families.

SwingDaddy took Q for a bike ride this morning and let me sleep in. Mmmmm, sleep. I got to enjoy a massage too. My neck and back were in better shape than last time, but my body feels much more relaxed now. Thanks for the great gift, SwingDaddy and Q!

Our friend KT loves horses, so her children take her to the racetrack for Mother's Day and watch the horses run. KT's own mother had a knack for always picking the winning horse, so part of the tradition was to call Grandma on the mobile phone and have her pick the winner from afar!

It was a nice homey day, playing with Q and getting the kitchen stocked for the boys, since I'm traveling this week. We don't have an elaborate Mother's Day tradition yet, but we had fun video calls with our parents and Q showed off his new signs. Being parents has certainly made us even more grateful to our moms and dads.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Let's Not Hug That Cactus


Q and I went for a walk today. A real walk, as in both of us on foot and no stroller. He was happily trotting along, admiring each successive plant and fingering the flowers, all at his eye level. He tripped over an uneven part of the sidewalk, but pushed himself up with no fuss. Oooh, pink flower (squeeze)! Green fern (squish)! Hey, what's that? He's now running at full speed for a big, fat . . . cactus.

I hug him around the waist just in time, and convince him to look carefully at the cactus. I pick him up so he can see it from a different angle, and then continue walking down the street to give us some space from the plant. No luck. As soon as I set him down, he makes a beeline for the cactus. I'm sure he would lose interest quickly if I didn't keep him from it, but this doesn't seem like a good "learn from experience" sort of activity for a 14-month old.

In the end, I carry him home wailing that he can't play with the cactus, until he sees SwingDaddy and brightens up.

The cactus pictures above are from MyPaperCrane. They look quite huggable.

~
In other news, Q very clearly made the baby sign for "apple" (fist held near the cheek) while I was feeding him today. I'm still so excited when he has a new word. I brought out an apple and he munched away. SwingDaddy was telling me about the two of them spinning around earlier today, and that Q was having such a good time. As a joke, we both said, "Spin!" to the kiddo . . . and he did!

We're really going to have to watch what we say around here. Someone is always listening.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hey, That's My Leg


SwingDaddy reported that Q had learned to slap his leg as well as clap hands when they were listening to music yesterday. So this morning after I fed him, we were sitting on the playroom floor just being silly, so I clapped my hands and slapped my leg. Q grinned and clapped his hands, and slapped my leg. "I think you're supposed to slap your own leg!" Big giggles.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Moment of Reflection

Q and I met Lady O before her class tonight to hand off some gifts, and we stayed to stroll around campus a bit. I was hoping to find a fountain for Q to admire, but Old Union was behind construction fences and the Claw wasn't running. He still had a good time circumnavigating the pool around the latter.

There was a Napoleon Dynamite look-alike patiently taping concert posters to the low circular walls surrounding the fountain, and he stopped to wave at us each time we passed him in our travels.

~
There is a variety of re-org and other turmoil at work, but we've also had a reminder to keep things in perspective. An exec with whom I used to work has been ill for some time, and it looks like things are coming to an end. It's hard to imagine that I will probably never see him again. He is a very smart man and cares a lot about his people. Wishing him and everyone peace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Etiquette of Old MacDonald


Old MacDonald had a farm,
E-I-E-I-O.
And on that farm he had some frogs
E-I-E-I-O.
With a ribbit-ribbit here,
And a ribbit-ribbit there . . .

What kind of a farm is this again?

As I mentioned a few days ago, I took Q to a toddler play class that had some idiosyncrasies, and I have to ask your opinion, oh Internet friends, on a particular part of circle time. I'm speaking about the etiquette of Old MacDonald.

Miss Teacher had a medium-level mastery of English, and it was difficult to make out what she was saying, but we all played along and had a good time. Any day when we can sing and make animal noises is a good day in our household.

So, the questions begin: As the leader of the song, are you supposed to call out the name of the animal as the verse begins so that everyone can participate in the song? Or do you make everyone wait in suspense, straining to hear what animal you mumble, leaving the group to lurch back into the rhythm of the song?

I recall from the days of playing the Hokey-Pokey that the gym teacher would yell out "Right hand!" and later "Right foot!" before we started singing the verses, so we could all sing together.

And is there a particular order you're supposed to use for the animals? If I'm the leader, is it ok if I choose them in whatever order comes to mind? That makes sense to me, but do the kids (and mommies) expect a cow, followed by a sheep or horse?

I enjoyed Miss Teacher's unusual collection of farm animals, which was both highly creative and also probably lacking the shared background of the prototypical American traditional family farm of the last century. My favorite was the frogs, although she did have another (turtles, or perhaps fish?) where no one knew what sounds to make. She also made all the animals plural, so we squeezed in some extra syllables.

And on that farm he had some horses
E-I-E-I-O

I'm certainly not going to tell Miss Teacher that I'm confused by her rendition of Old MacDonald. Anyone who will take on 2 dozen toddlers and their mothers deserves to run her class however she likes. And what farm these days has one horse, one sheep, one pig and one cow anyway? I'm grateful we weren't singing about a factory farm.

And on that farm he had 10,000 chickens
E-I-E-I-O

Any thoughts on Old Mac?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Moving the Furniture Again

Q figured out how to push away the chairs blocking his path to the lamps, stereo speakers, and bookshelf in the living room, and he wasn't so pleased when Nanny J and I thwarted his efforts. SwingDaddy and I rearranged some furniture tonight, so we'll see if he gets past the blockade tomorrow. We're having trouble finding enough places to evacuate our belongings.

We had a great time tonight at a park near our friends' new home. Q got to try swings, slides, climbing structures and a nice bouncy ground surface of rubber. These days, all the outdoor playgrounds have springy floors, which makes me wonder how we survived our childhoods on metal monkey bars over asphalt.

Q climbed his first stairs today! The photo shows him at the top of the play structure, looking through the panels.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wiggle Worms, Cute Food

Someone is getting very enterprising accessing previously unreachable places. Here, Q has SwingDaddy's keys and is doing his best to make a break for it.

This morning was Q's first Wiggle Worms class, and I'm so proud of him! He's often shy in new environments, but today when Nanny J and I set him down in the classroom, he took off and ran to the push cars without a backward glance. The instructor wasn't particularly inspiring, but she had good intentions and the kidelletto got to run around a new childproof area with different toys.

I like to think that Q particularly excelled in the "dance" segment, when he clapped his hands, stomped his feet, and spun in place. The instructor put on a long slow song, almost lullaby-like. I'm certain I'm projecting this thought, but it sure seemed like Q was expressing, "I'm just humoring you guys. I've heard real dance music before, and this isn't it."

~
On another topic entirely, the Jam Bun phone charms arrived.


From left to right, they are Sweet Bean Jam Bun, Momo Chan Sweet Bean Jam Bun, and Steamed Jam Bun. I gave Sweet Bean Bun (because he has the biggest smile) to Lady O, as a thank you for babysitting Q Friday night. Let's hear it for cute, anthropomorphic plush food!


I made a scaling error though, and they probably a bit large to decorate the Treo. I think I'll just have them sit here on my desk.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Surefire Mommy/Daddy Identification Test

Several months ago, we had a little party at our place, and as the guests arrived, they'd greet Q, who would return their looks solemnly. He was uneasy around strange men back then, which became quickly apparent when Dr. K arrived with her fiance, Dr. J. Our little fellow started to agitate, and being an experienced dad, Dr. J immediately retreated across the room and waved from a safe distance. Q settled down comfortably.

In contrast, a hyper single friend arrived in a flurry of activity. As Q cowered into SwingDaddy's arms, HyperDude stepped closer and closer, louder and louder, until Q burst into tears.

I knew nothing about babies when Q was born and am only a little wiser today - but I can certainly identify parents now!

(Digression)

This morning, we finished an errand (baby wipes by the crate at Costco) and found a local street fair. Perfect! Q would have all sorts of colorful things to see. As a bonus, we spotted one of Q's little friends in a pink hat, strolling along with her mom. Even though we were going different directions and didn't get to chat today, I love bumping into friends. It feels so community-like.

Among the artwork, there was a fair selection of country-crafty stuff on display, so Q had many a "woof-woof" and "qua-qua" to admire. That's 'dogs and ducks,' for those of you not in the know. He smiled into many mirrors, and we strolled along quite happily for a while. We had a big joint meltdown later, but I'll spare you that tale.

(End digression, back to the main story)

The police department had a large booth, complete with squad car (where Q inspected the logo carefully), child fingerprinting setup (for children 4 and up, so we didn't stop there), and various souvenirs. I picked up Q so that he could see the table, and showed him a police logo'd toy. "Would you like a frisbee, cutie?" He didn't show a lot of interest. The young officer on duty offered him a sticker . . . just the right size for chewing into little bits. Not a dad yet.

Later we were walking by a booth of Venetian masks. To call attention to the display, a lady stood on the sidewalk, dressed in a dramatic cape, wearing an elaborate (although slightly creepy) mask. When I admired the costume out loud, she heard me and turned around. Q took one look at the mask and we both heard him inhale. Before he even started wailing, she had turned her back and crouched to make herself smaller, waving a hand over her shoulder at me, as she waited for us to hurry on by. Either a mom, or an alert auntie.

~~
P.S. I finished yesterday's post too.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Few More Seconds From Our Fifteen Minutes


We attended our university Drama and Dance Reunion banquet tonight. I'll finish this post later.
~
Boy, it's been a busy weekend, and I'm just catching up blogging now. Back to the story.
~
While neither SwingDaddy nor I are alumni of the Dance Division, having graduated from the technical side of the university, we've been heavily involved with dance for well over a decade. I chaired the arts support group for four years, and we know most of the professors and lecturers from grant requests, concerts, and other activities. It was terrific to catch up with faculty, admire the renovations to the building, and see all the improvements to dance space.

As part of the celebration, the department had commissioned a video to interview several professors, current students, and alums to talk about drama and dance, past and present. The super-director-videographer had taken 15 hours of footage and created a beautiful 10 minute piece that told a clear and inspiring story. And we made the cut! A snippet from our interview and several clips of our performances were included. :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Dancing and Sleeping


Our dancers looked great tonight and the crowd was loudly appreciative. We came home before midnight, but the dance is still going on - it finishes at dawn! Before Q, we would have danced all night. These days, the sleep is more important.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Day at the Races

We had a great rehearsal tonight and the team is all set to perform tomorrow. I snapped these photos at last week's dress rehearsal.

This is the end of the dance, as everyone exits (and finishes the tricky dismount offstage!).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Great Book Expectations

Doppelganger posted about Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series on 50Books today, and it made me think about how much I love the main character, Precious Ramotswe. I picked up a trade paperback of Smith's subsequent series opener, The Sunday Philosophy Club, and unfortunately, it was far less intriguing. As I mentioned to Lady O, it might have been worth the price of a mass market paperback, but definitely not trade paperback or hardbound.

I have tiers of expectation for favored authors and series.

1) Author/series is worth buying in hardback. (This is really rare. Harry Potter is one of the few. It's a statement that I not only am willing to spend the money, but that I'm willing to devote a larger amount of space on our crowded bookshelves. Hardback-worthiness can be revoked. I loved Neal Stephenson's earlier work so much that I have the entire Baroque Cycle in hardback, and that was a mistake. It was too darn heavy (physically and textwise) to carry around, and I think I'm going to exchange 'em for paperback.)

2) Author/series is worth buying in trade paperback. (I consider books in this category as a sure-enough thing that I'll pick them up without doing a long internal debate at the bookstore. The Ladies Detective Agency series falls into this tier. So do Meg Cabot's books.)

3) Author/series is worth buying, but wait until the book comes out in mass market paperback. (Most of my favorite sci-fi authors fall into this category - not because I don't love them, but because I have so many of their books that hardback would take too much space. Tolkein, Anne McCaffery's dragons, Frank Herbert's Dune (haven't read his son's prequels yet), the Ender's Shadow series by Orson Scott Card, the Miles series by Lois McMaster Bujold, Dick Francis novels with "New York Times Bestseller for 8 Weeks" on the cover.)

4) Author/series to find at the local library. (This is for art books that I definitely don't have room to store, sequels to The Sunday Philosophy Club, Dick Francis novels with "By the Author of 'The Edge'" on the cover. Lady O determined the formula for the DF novels, and boy is it accurate.)

5) Books that I pretend don't exist. (Non-fiction tomes that tell you all the things you are now doing to ruin your children, their health, and their futures.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hey You Bloggers

I did it. After changing my mind a half dozen times (too expensive . . . but it sounds fascinating; too much time . . . but it's local; it's not necessary . . but I might get to hear dooce and other favorite bloggers speak), I registered for BlogHer '06, a national conference of women bloggers in San Jose from July 28-29.

Day One is more technical - how to build audience traffic, types of web writing, RSS feeds, working with digital photography. Day Two is focused on community, panels on identity, mommyblogging, entrepreneurs. It's a fantastic, packed schedule, and I'm hoping to attend as much as possible, since it's the same weekend as two of the three July weddings to which we've been invited.

One of the reasons I started blogging was to get myself writing regularly again. I pretty much write whatever I feel like writing - this is a personal log. However, I do realize that if I ever wanted to become more active in the blogosphere and generate a lot of traffic, it's easier if you fit into a category - crafts, mommies, technology, etc. In ten years, who knows what form blogging will take. I'm looking forward to seeing that future and being part of it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Verified by Wildlife Biologists


Q and I blazed through a stack of books this evening. He stomped his feet to The Barnyard Dance, laughed at Old Hat, New Hat, and twice requested I Love My Daddy Because. The latter was our Father's Day gift to SwingDaddy last year and features drawings of animals and their young.

The Emperor Penguin bears the caption, "I love my daddy because he keeps me safe and warm." The lion's page says, "He takes naps with me." The giraffe's page says, "He helps me reach things." It ends with a human dad and child, captioned, "I love my daddy, and my daddy loves me." All in all, very charming, and I was pretty pleased with finding the story. The gift idea was the first useful tip I was able to share with our Mommy Group (since all the other babies were older than Q), and several other moms ordered the book too.

I noticed today for the first time that the credits page has the following small print: "The animal behavior pictured in this book has been verified by wildlife biologists."

Somehow, that makes me feel very responsible, like I have brought something more natural and realistic into our lives than the plush animals that are so anthropomorphized that even the starfish have long eyelashes. Well, the girl starfish have eyelashes, or a hairbow, even though they don't have hair.

Sometime, I will share my story of disappointment at the Monterey Bay Aquarium gift shop, due to the biological accuracy of their plush toys. For now, I will just keep reading rhymes to Q, who is making more signs and words every day.