Friday, June 30, 2006

The Non-CompetiMommies

Today's earlier post was sort of incomplete, because I didn't write about how lucky I feel to know some terrific non-competimommies. After Q went to sleep tonight, SwingDaddy and I got to catch on the news and blog.

I've been blessed with an extraordinary Mommy Group that I joined when Q was not quite three weeks old. It started as a parenting class at the local hospital, and we kept in touch afterwards online and with weekly gatherings.

The first time I went to class, I was so nervous! It was the first time I had taken Q out of the house by myself, the first time I put him in the car seat, got the stroller assembled, got the car seat attached to the stroller. The first time I changed a diaper away from home, the first time I fed him away from home. It seemed like an insurmountable challenge for a new mother, but I made it! A lot of firsts, all in a warm and welcome environment.

When I went back to work 11 weeks postpartum and SwingDaddy became a full time dad for more than half a year, the other moms welcomed him to the weekly get-togethers. I am so grateful for that, since many stay-at-home dads don't get the social support that moms have.

Among all the moms, we've made many different parenting choices. Some moms work, others are at home full time. Some rock their babies to sleep, others do CIO. Cloth diapers, disposables. Gerber baby foods, organic homemade. Most babies are already weaned, but several moms are still nursing (Wow, way to go!). As I've read more blogs, I've learned how rare it is to have fallen into such a supportive group. No one is a CompetiMommy!

One of the most unexpected and reassuring aspects to regularly seeing a dozen babies of the same age was to compare them. No, not in an icky one-upmanship way, but in an informational way. What became obvious really quickly is that children are incredibly different in their development. Books may tell you that, but it can be hard to believe it until you see it.

One child might have 12 teeth and another have only one. One girl was already walking, when most were just working on crawling. Q is the youngest of the babies, so we got a sneak preview of what was coming next for us, and much of the "oh no, he's not {doing x} yet, what do we do?" thoughts really went out of my head. He'd learn it when he was ready.

And now I have to say an anti-jinx so that I don't ruin the whole thing!

Perfect Post – The CompetiMommy

A Perfect Post Lucinda and MommaK came up with a great idea to allow bloggers to recognize their favorite post for the month. My Perfect Post Award goes to Mom-101!

Mom-101 wrote a great post that made me laugh and think. She met a "CompetiMommy," who grilled her to compare the skills of their 11-month old babies – playgroup attendance, number of friends, sign language capabilities, and swimming talents.

I was slower than Mom-101 in identifying my first CompetiMommy. The other mom and I had been occasional acquaintances before we were pregnant, usually exchanging a few words in passing. After we had our babies, it took three weeks for me to figure out that her weekly interrogations of "What new tricks are your baby doing?" (and so on and so forth) were not just an awkward conversion, but a resume opportunity!

Mom-101's post also reminded me to be more careful not to seem like a CompetiMommy while I'm just making conversation. When I'm excited about some new skill of Q's, I try to describe in moderation. It's not about showing off or competing against other children; it's just amazement at how this little guy is taking on the world. There's one big exception of course - we show off shamelessly for the grandparents.

Thanks, Mom-101!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

California Fighting Sheep


Me: What does the doggie say?

Q: Woof-woof

Me: What does the duck say?

Q: Qua-qua

Me: What does the sheep say?

Q (with great ferocity): BAAAA!

Don't mess with the sheep in this neighborhood, man. They be fierce!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Five Second Rule

I had never heard of the Five Second Rule* until I met SwingDaddy. Growing up, if your cookie fell on the floor, it was considered dirty, even though my mom kept the house spotlessly clean. Milk would "go bad" instantaneously if you set the carton down on the kitchen counter, instead of putting it back in the fridge.

As SwingDaddy and I settled into life together, we gradually made adjustments in our habits, although I never could quite eat something off the floor. The biggest changes, of course, came with Q.

When he was a newborn, we sterilized pacifiers, bottles, and breast pump components. We boiled water, we washed his clothes in dainty loads, using the special baby detergent, and we changed his clothes at the first sign of a spill.

Now, my child tromps through the park, picks up leaves, and puts them in his mouth. A few days ago, I watched in disbelief as he tried to drink from the garden hose.

"Augh! Isn't that non-potable water?!"

"Generations of children have done it. A little bit is fine," assured SwingDaddy.

Right. I couldn't help but distract Q from the hose. It'll take a few more years to get over that one.


*For those of you with backgrounds like mine, the Five Second Rule says you can take dropped food off the ground and eat it, if you pick it up fast enough. It's still "clean."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dada Googoo Gaga

Last night, Lady O, her friend, and I attended the delightful first "Paris in the Jazz Age" lecture in the series for which we registered. After a discussion of art, Ballet Russe, and Ballet Suedois, the professor showed some slides and film clips about the period. I'm not a big fan of modern art, so I have to say that this was the first time I appreciated the blotchy paint splatters of Bakst, shown as the stage design behind 'Afternoon of a Faun.' It looked sumptuous and somehow right.

The prof also described the Dada cultural movement, which was a reaction to the barbarism of World War I. If the world had gone mad, what choice was there but to go mad too? A performance piece would be purposefully meaningless – the meaning must be found by the observer. A poem might be read at the same time as a dancer moved across the stage, at the same time that musicians might be playing unrelated sounds.

We watched a 1925 film from the intermission of the ballet Relache that showed flickering images of a cannon being dragged back and forth, an upside-down Paris, men chasing a horse-drawn hearse, and their subsequent disappearance. Whistles had been sold in the lobby of the theater, and the audience encouraged to make noise.

This morning, while reading a story to Q, he urgently requested his toddler tunes CD, and then waved his broom wildly and handed me stuffed animals, one after another. It occurred to me that entertaining a toddler is not unlike a piece of Dadaist performance art.
~

In other news, we've had three votes for the tumbling disco arms, so I think that's the official cool move for the 'The Wheels on the Bus go round and round.'

And thanks to Momma-to-Ashley and Kari for pointing out that it's "If you're happy" and not "When you're happy." I guess I've been in marketing too long and can't avoid spinning everything in the most positive light. I did a web search and found lyric listings for both "you really want to show it" and "your face will surely show it," so maybe that's a regional thing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What Are the Hand Signs for "The Wheels on the Bus?"

OK, someone help me out here. What do you do with your hands during the first verse of "The Wheels on the Bus?"

Q came home from his baby class knowing how to pretend to push a horn for the "beep" verse and "blinks" his hands to indicate flashing lights, but I can't tell what he's doing for the "round and round" part. Doing our best to be supportive parents, SwingDaddy and I have been singing that song a lot, and haven't come up with a good solution. We tried tumbling our arms disco style, or moving our hands in little circular motions, but they're not quite satisfying.

We've also been singing "When You're Happy and You Know It." Q kept on pointing to his cheeks during the verse, and I didn't know what it meant. Maybe there's a smile verse? Then we got the kiddie song CDs and figured it out.

I learned the song like this:

When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
When you're happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

However, the CD version went like this:

When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
When you're happy and you know it, then your face will really show it,
When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

So he was pointing to his face, to show it. Mystery solved.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sweeping Up

SwingDaddy and I had our hair cut yesterday, and Q helped with the clean-up.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

TV by MC QT

Q presented another dose of television education to me this morning. We'd enjoyed a big outing to the Farmers' Market where we had both behaved beautifully (it's only fair to grade mommy too) and returned to peacefully slurp down a homemade smoothie, so we sat together in the living room to await SwingDaddy's return from his cycling practice. After setting the channel to Sprout, I allowed Q the rare treat of holding the universal remote control.

Sprout was showing an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine featuring a creepy drawling southern airplane named Savannah and an even creepier junior plane. I find the whole show visually creepy. I'd seen line drawings of Thomas that were friendly, even cute, but the aesthetic on the TV show is just bizarre. Each train or engine has a humanoid face fused onto a large machine, and it just makes me think of Leto II, the man who had become a giant sand worm in God Emperor of Dune. Every time I see Thomas, I want to shout, "Abomination! Abomination!" and I get distracted from whatever moral lesson I'm supposed to be learning from the show.

Anyhow, Q saved me from sci-fi flashbacks by figuring out how to change the remote mode from "power" to "channel" and switched us over to some kind of Ultimate Obstacle Course show on ESPN2. It was the coolest thing ever. The contestant had just clambered across a log, and before he could pass to the next task, he had to solve a math problem. 79 + 40. This guy was really sweating. He counted on his fingers a bit, tapped in "119" and the doors opened to allow him to run over a bunch of swinging cannonballs. I was really looking forward to seeing whether he'd have to draft a suit pattern or maybe dance a mambo in order to finish, but Q clicked again.

This time, Pay-per-View. "Cutie, let Mommy have the remote. Cutie?" Click. He turned the TV off!

A few pictures from our Farmers' Market outing.

Admiring the flowers.
The local bookstore had a few titles on the sidewalk. Would you like one?

Best of all, a fountain! Q was really torn between playing with the fountain and admiring a pony-sized Great Dane standing nearby. The fountain won out.

P.S. I updated yesterdays train post to complete it!

Friday, June 23, 2006

C'mon Ride the Train

Edited after getting more sleep.

We had our first train adventure! As SwingDaddy mentioned, Nanny J suggested taking advantage of the Spare the Air Day's free Caltrain access. My last morning meeting cancelled, so instead of a lunch break, we took Q to the nearest station and waited for the Caltrain to pull in.

Q hung on tight as I climbed the winding stair to the second level of the train car and found empty seats. He was pretty nervous from the rumbling and bumping at first, but I convinced him to sit in my lap and Nanny J and I made train noises until he giggled. The view was good from our high-up seats, and we admired the world as it zipped by.

In a way, this was also a trip through my past. As we rode north on the tracks, we passed through three towns where I lived after graduation. I can remember standing on those station platforms in the dim early light and riding to the end of the line, 4th and Townsend, before boarding an express bus to the financial district. I loved the train. It meant that I didn't need to navigate the painful traffic and pay crazy parking fees. I could do a little work or nap. I think I daydreamed a lot, looking out the windows and wondering what was happening in a particular house or town.

Whenever I see a Caltrain roar by at night, the rows of oval windows look like strings of glowing beads, each highlighting a person with her own tale. I know I'll get a train into a story someday, although probably not as magically as J.K. Rowling did with the Hogwarts Express.

The three of us disembarked after about twenty minutes, and crossed over to the other side of the station. From the platform, you could see my old apartment and parking space. I used to be able to hear the train coming as I ran from my front door, knowing that I could just barely get there in time. The sounds of the train and the horn have a comforting sound, but I've never gotten used to the screeching sound of the brakes.

Q walked up and down the platform, and then we boarded for the ride home. He played peek-a-boo behind one of the seat backs, admired the bikes in the car below us, and made his own train noises. Just as he started to get squirmy, we arrived at our station, climbed down, and waved bye-bye to the train.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our First Refrigerator Art

Note to self: Get more magnets for future masterpieces.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Little Less Unprepared

Happy Summer Solstice!

It's time for our quarterly emergency preparedness check-in again. Do you have enough water for each person in your household to last three days? Are the diapers in your emergency stash the right size for your baby? (If applicable, of course. No need to go get diapers if you don't already have a young'un.) My goal is to make our kit just a little bit better each time, or at least a little less unprepared.

For this refresh, I'm adding water purification tablets and writing a list of critical items to take if we ever had to evacuate. If we had to run with one minute's notice, we'd grab the baby, wallet and cell phone. However, sometimes you have an hour or two to prepare, and it'd be good to have a plan already.

Items on the Pack List so far: Passports, driver's licenses, cash, financial and insurance documents, health insurance ID cards, PDA, digital camera (take a photo of each room of the house before leaving, in case it's needed for insurance purposes), home inventory. I guess I need to write a home inventory first. Baby supplies and food, favorite toys for Q, spare clothes, sturdy shoes. Family pictures. It'll take a little more thinking to fill out the list.

San Francisco's Are You Prepared? site has an excellent "Build a Kit" page that describes what to include in your home safety kit, as well as what to put in a "Go-Bag." The idea is to have a backpack for each person that is already stocked with flashlights and food, as well as things like photos of family members and pets for re-identification, a hardcopy list of emergency contact numbers, and a list of medication allergies. I think that my goal for the next check-in will be to create Go-Bags for us.

And maybe I can convince SwingDaddy to let me get the military surplus Survival Tabs too.

A compact, light-weight, life saving food ration for any emergency. Ultra high calorie food tablets provide all essential vitamins and minerals, protein for strength, fat for endurance, dextrose and lactose for fast energy. Average consumption of twelve tabs per day may be decreased when other food is available in adequate amounts and quality, or increased in times of complete starvation or extreme physical exertion. . . . Survive exclusively on these tablets up to 4-5 MONTHS without ANY other foods. Evolved from the space program. 10 year shelf life.

We'll never need to cook again! Just hand me one of those tabs. Kidding!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wireless Beyond Silliness

Q says: My parents are being silly.

As we were driving to the office today, SwingDaddy pointed out a pod attached to a nearby streetlight. "I saw people installing those last week." He paused for a moment. "Their truck was labeled Metro-Fi, so we might be getting city-wide wireless Internet access."

I thought for a moment. "Their name could certainly imply 'Metro Wi-Fi.' Of course, it might be that we're getting a city-wide stereo system: Metro Hi-Fi. Or maybe the 'fi' is from 'fee fi fo fum' and we're getting a city-wide bakery delivery system. You could go to a lamppost, say "Rye, please," and a nice loaf of bread would drop out."

SwingDaddy is looking at me with an odd expression, but he gets into the game. "What about a home financing system for urban areas? Metro Re-Fi."

The silliness* only deteriorated from there.

We also wondered about the origins of the word. After all, the "wi" is probably from "wireless," but "fi?" It sounds like "hi-fi," the old term for "high fidelity" recording quality for stereos and such, but I'm not familiar with a "wireless fidelity" term in use.

Wikipedia to the rescue. It turns out that "Wi-Fi" was originally a brand name for wireless LANs that became so common in daily use that it's lost its brand protection. There's no meaning to the "fi" part, besides its catchy sound. Something new every day.

* I'm quite fond of the word silly. It's such a fun word to say. Silly, silly, silly. Back when SwingDaddy and I were dating, people would wonder if SwingDaddy was a marriage prospect or just a fling and ask me if we "were serious." I would reply, "No, we're quite silly, actually."

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Health Food Police Are So Coming After Us

Boo!
Nanny J and I are sitting in the playroom this afternoon, chatting and receiving toys from Q as he wanders back and forth, when he comes up to me and wags his tongue. In case I don't get it, he clomps over to the freezer and points. "Mmmmm!" More tongue wagging.

Me: We can't have ice cream now dear.

Q: Face crumples sadly. It looks like he's on the verge of tears. Then he perks up, sensing that he has a second chance to charm. Broad smile and more tongue wagging. He points again at the freezer. Geez, Mommy is slow today.

After dinner, SwingDaddy shares bit of ice cream, in reward for the kiddo's clear, if somewhat manipulative communication skills.

More chatter: Bilingual kids are supposed to start speaking later, because there's more they have to process. However, there are some distinct advantages to having a few languages on available.

For example, "please," which he pronounces "peese," is easier to say in English, and he makes the hand sign at the same time, a circular motion with his open hand over his chest. Our new word of the day is simpler in Chinese - "Shie shie" for "thank you." (Note to self: check spelling!) So a request for more milk starts with "Mo peese" and the hand signs, followed by "Shie shie" after he gets it. It's only a matter of time before he can tap this out in perl too.

A few nights ago, I was feeding Q something nice and healthy, maybe steamed chicken and peas, while SwingDaddy was getting some leftover pizza from the toaster oven. A small hand reaches over to point at SwingDaddy's plate. "Peetz peese!" Good heavens, the boy has told us that he wants "pizza, please." If there was ever any doubt that Q and SwingDaddy share genes, there's certainly none now.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

Hope all you great fathers had a great day. A special shout-out to my Daddy and to SwingDaddy!

Our friends' little girl saw Q in the air (picture above) and couldn't wait to try the trick too. Fortunately, her dad (the best man at our wedding) was game.

A-girl: Again!

SwingDaddy: A-Girl probably has good enough balance to stand on her own, without the handholding.

A-girl's mom and me: Don't let go!

A-girl: Again!

Q: Ya!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hut, Hut, Hike!

Q as Quarterback!

Nanny K held a picnic party for her birthday, and we all had a good time. Especially Q, who got lots of attention and a new park to explore.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Books That Are Not Damp

When Pamie posted about her annual book drive, now named the Dewey Donation System, I read eagerly, being fond of libraries and also being a sucker for a cute logo (he's a decimal, get it?). In the past, she's fundraised for a burned-out library in San Diego, and last year her drive supplied schoolbooks for an entire Indian village devastated by the tsunami. This year, she's supporting a post-Katrina district in Mississippi.

I put the Dewey Donation System on my to-do list, and given the ample company it has there, might have forgotten about it, except that some of my favorite bloggers have been sharing library stories this week. Doppelganger at 50 Books (who gave that recommendation about 44 Scotland Street from the author of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) wrote, so did M.Giant (who is married to a librarian and entertains us with adorable stories about baby M. Small), and then John Scalzi of The Whatever interviewed Pamie and posted the story. Thanks for the reminder, guys!

I've selected two books for the Biloxi library, and my library story is below. Take a look at the Dewey Donation System website – be warned, book-lovers, it includes sad pictures of ruined books and destroyed buildings. Q has an unfortunate habit of chewing on the corners of books and leaving them damp, but that's nothing compared to this. If you happen to have a few spare dollars, please consider sending them a book!

There are many libraries I've visited, frequented, and perused, but my first library, the one where it could be said that I dwelled, was the Northeast Elementary School Library. I remember walking the long ramp (up from the kindergarten and first grade rooms, down from the second grade rooms), carefully carrying the hall pass to the library building and passing the small circulation desk, where Mrs. Crawford sat.

Vivacious Mrs. Yale was the librarian, but it was Mrs. Crawford, a large grandmotherly lady, who helped us younger ones find magical new worlds. After selecting a precious book and bringing it to the desk, I'd write my name in the card, she'd check the date on the stamper, tap the ink pad, and cha-chunk! The due date would be emblazoned in the book card. Not that I cared all that much what the date was, since I'd read the book that night and have it back in the morning anyway.

Years later at Stanford in the 90's, I was horrified to find that their amazing library system was not yet fully computerized, so I had to laboriously write name, phone number, and address on a card for each book, a lengthy process for those freshman research papers! Later, we could just swipe our student IDs and bar codes on the books like any normal library, but it felt like returning to the dark ages that one year.

In the Northeast Library, I read and re-read about Mrs. Moon, Eddie and his glockenspiel (what was the name of that series? All I can remember is that I wanted to play the glockenspiel), Encyclopedia Brown, Shel Silverstein. I think I finished the entire Children's Biography series at some point. In 5th grade, my classmate Sandy told me to read The Hobbit. I searched under T in the fiction section until I found it, devoured it, and launched a lifetime love of Tolkein, entirely unrelated to the charm of Orlando Bloom.

Mrs. Crawford maintained a little shop on one side of the circulation desk. I would bring in my allowance every few weeks to buy a fold-out book. Each little book would have a series of pictures and facts about a different topic – breeds of horses (my favorite), models of airplanes, types of cats. It almost didn't matter what the topic was. My friends and I were building a collection!

One day, the publisher stopped printing new ones. I don't recall how we found out. Perhaps Mrs. Crawford told us? In any case, the library shop was the occasion of my first and most successful business letter. Debbie and I carefully printed our plea for the company to continue the series, writing on every other line of our notebook paper as we'd be taught. Jackpot! The company must have thought we were cute and sent us the rest of their stock to be divided between us.

I'm pretty sure I bought a copy of Little House on the Prairie from the library shop as a Christmas gift for mom, certain that she'd love it. I need to remember that for the future day when I receive a really oddly chosen gift from Q.

I did a web search on the school tonight and was happy to see that they're still open and busy. Good books, good times, good memories.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jane Would Be Proud

Our summer dance season has begun, and we rehearsed the "Jane" half of "Jane Austen and Jazz" tonight. Four returning dancers danced their original roles, one changed roles, our former understudy joined the cast, one brand new dancer learned the entire piece, and SwingDaddy stepped in for a sick dancer. We finished all of tonight's material ahead of schedule and everyone did really well, in spite of nursing injuries, etc. It's fun to be back dancing!

Update to Monday's post: I was informed that the "undisclosed location" is Huntington Beach, and Costa Rica was a friend's vacation - our dancer is actually going to Switzerland and Italy.

Update to yesterday's post: OK, it was a crazy busy day and I didn't even touch the library story, so we'll shoot for tomorrow again.

Snuggle story: This afternoon, Q crawled onto my chest while I was singing to him, and I leaned back onto the playmat, letting him giggle away. Aside from occasional gulping on my part to get enough air (he's getting heavy), we zipped through a nice series of kiddie tunes.

Before I had my childhood memory prodded by the excellent CDs recommended by Nanny K, I'd been singing him the only songs I could remember, mostly musical theater numbers, and those take a lot more work than "The Wheels on the Bus." At the conclusion of each song, Q would want to ask for more, which he couldn't do while lying on his hands (on me). So, he'd crawl off, stand up, sign for more, and then crawl back to snuggle. Happy day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lobsters Who Entertain

I'm working on a longer post about libraries (in honor of the Dewey Donation System, more on that tomorrow), but in the meantime, here's a picture of today's finds in the Target dollar bin. A mini bucket decorated with a cute lobster, napkins covered with lobsters, and lobster swizzle sticks! There were also lobster decorated tongs, spatulas, aprons, toothpicks, and ceramic dishes, but they were insufficiently cute to bring home.

They bear a "Lobster Bake" label. Just imagine - friendly lobsters pulling trays of muffins out of the oven, wearing big mitts to protect their claws. Lobsters with pastry skills! Who knew?

The actual goal of the Target trip was to get cards (Father's Day, birthdays, weddings, etc), and I can't believe how many we needed. When I get a little more time, I'm going back into the card-making biz. I'm sure there is a market for lobster cards.

~
A side note: Nanny K posted a poignant and funny story about her last visit to a certain coffee shop.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Living in a State of Beep

Beep - it's the hot new word. Q's baby gym classmates (well, the moms, anyway) have been singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and he has a favorite verse.

The horn on the bus goes "Beep, beep, beep."
"Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep."
The horn on the bus goes "Beep, beep, beep."
All around the town.

We have to supply the rest of the words, but he contributes "beep" very nicely, with a horn-pressing motion.

Earlier today, SwingDaddy and I and heard an electronic (not child-related) beep and tried to identify it. Not my phone, not his phone, not the home phone. Another beep. Checked my computer, checked his computer, nope. Another beep. Not an alarm clock, not the toaster oven. Finally located the source as the GPS we'd hastily evacuated to a high shelf, to escape drowning in drool.

The Q-beeps are much more fun.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Busy is a Slight Understatement

Photo credit: Patrick Tower

Letter sent to our dancers earlier tonight regarding our upcoming rehearsal and performance dates:

Let me begin by saying that dancing and hanging out with each of you is a joy. That noted, our collective schedules are pretty much a nightmare. It's a good thing we have an unusually high composition of industrial engineers in the troupe, so we've worked out a plan.

What are the challenging factors?

Two of you will be gone for your honeymoon. Two of you will be eleven days from your wedding by our show date.

One of you will be starting a medical residency. One of you is beginning a graduate program.

One of you is traveling on business to Asia. Three of you have long standing vacation plans - Israel, Hawaii, Costa Rica. One of you has graduation conflicts. One of you is traveling to an undisclosed location (to me) for a conference.

Two of you have serious ankle injuries. (Digression: When SwingDaddy was in PT for his ankle last year, his physical therapist was looking for reference patients, and asked if he knew anyone else with a problem joint. SwingDaddy looked at him blankly for a moment, and responded, "I'm a dance director. Everyone I know has either an ankle injury or a knee injury, and some have both.")

Three of us have small children whose sleep schedules must be accommodated.

Six of you are in other dance troupes that are performing in the same concert and will probably also want to rehearse immediately prior to the show.

Everyone has highly demanding work and school schedules.

Where does that leave us? With a highly creative rehearsal plan! We will not have all the dancers actually together until the actual performance, but you're all seasoned in show biz, so we're not worried. Each couple will have scheduled time to rehearse, and we'll fit the pieces together.

Thank you all for being flexible and helping our new dancers come up to speed. Looking forward to another great season!

Lady M and SwingDaddy

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Darn It, I Knew That Being Illiterate Would Get Me in Trouble Someday

Remember how I was so pleased with myself a few weeks back when I found that board book featuring one of my dad's favorite cartoons, the blue Chinese cat? It turns out he's a Japanese character called Doraemon and my dad had the comics in translation. And the board book that I bought? Yeah, Japanese too. I knew that being basically illiterate in Chinese would get me into trouble someday! Fortunately, the story is pretty obvious from the pictures, and Q loves it anyway. The picture above is Doraemon in his World Cup gear, from J-List.

Here's Q, fast asleep on SwingDaddy's shoulder at dinner. Just like the old days, when all he did was sleep and eat. Now he eats and eats and eats!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lawyer by Day, Laker Girl by Night

Names and cities changed to improve alliteration.

I attended a lovely bridal shower today and had a great time catching up with the bride-to-be. The other guests were mostly her classmates, who are just a few years out of school - her high tech colleague, a young lawyer studying for the bar, a med school student, a biz school student, a fifth grade teacher, plus Ara and me, who can pass for grownups. I wasn't previously acquainted with most of the ladies, but enjoyed meeting them and hearing their amusing stories.

For instance, Lana is headed to LA in a few weeks to begin work at a fancy law firm.

Lana: You know what I did yesterday? I looked up the audition schedule for the Laker Girls. Lawyer by day, dancer by night! What do you think?

The rest of us: For a newbie? It's going to be lawyer by day, more lawyering by night!

Tammy is planning to do "Tri-For-Fun" next weekend, a mini-triathlon designed to introduce folks to the sport.

Tammy: I'm ok for running and it's a really short swim. But I've never ridden a road bike - I've just done spinning class. Do you think it'll be ok?

Bride-to-Be : Do you have a bike?

Tammy: I borrowed one. It's really different from the mountain bike I had in school though. You have to lean over and it's got clips and funny shoes!

Us: You'd better practice before next week!

Tammy: I'm not getting any sympathy from my sister either. She ran the Boston Marathon in four hours.

Brooke is attending a workout Boot Camp twice a week where she gets cardio, weights, and personal training advice. She also hears about the latest fitness events.

Brooke: There's a Nike Women's Marathon that sounds so cool. All the participants get a Tiffany necklace!

Clamor of voices: Wow, a necklace! Where do we sign up?

Brooke: Registration is already full. And get this - there's a "chocolate mile" that's sponsored by Ghiradelli, and you can stop and get snacks along the way!

~
In other news, my mom and dad are in town this weekend, and Q is having a terrific time with them. Here, Grandpa is teaching Q how to use the remote control to fly a helium blimp.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Putting on My Sun Hat

I can tell that this parenting thing is going to change my sun habits. In the pre-baby life, I'd toss out my old, unused tube on sunblock every other summer and dutifully buy a new one, knowing that I'd never end up in the sun enough to use this one either.

These days, we take long walks, play outside and in the water. We wear hats and SPF 1000.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

And Don't Ever Use the Phrase 'Low Hanging Fruit' Again Either

This morning, I got an indoctrination in corporate editorial at a training session on writing "Quality Content" for marketing material. The basic idea was to always lead with what the audience wants most, rather than what the writer wants to trumpet.

Use the language of the readers, rather the jargon of the company. Protect trademarks by avoiding abbreviations. Ideally, you write in a way that is easily translatable into a myriad of languages, removing idioms like "bottom line" or "level the playing field" that might make no sense in Korean, Polish, or Flemish. These all seem obvious, but it's harder to do than it sounds without making the copy deadly dull.

We are to never use words that make the company look "smug." Don't randomly capitalize (apparently, the corporate editors spend a huge amount of time replacing unnecessary Capital Letters). Eliminate the word "leverage," as in "leverage your iPod investment by also using it to back up your computer," because it has a specific financial definition involving anti-trust issues, and Legal has asked everyone to avoid the word completely.

The instructor (SME, or subject matter expert, if we're going to get all jargony) listed more hackneyed phrases to dodge. My unfavorite? I refuse to tolerate the popular business phrase "low hanging fruit" any more. As in, "Let's go for the low hanging fruit and see what revenue we can make with minimal work." It's an annoying cliche and just makes me hungry.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Little Cheerioso

Everyone loves Cheerios! Well, there is one unnamed member of our household who dislikes the smell of oat dust (and thus Lucky Charms are out too, sadly), but Q and I love us some Cheerios. They have been temporarily replaced by a fad for raisins, but I know that the O's will be back.

I gave Q the empty Cheerios box a few days ago, because there's nothing more fun than a cardboard box. He carried it around, thumped against its sides, and pointed meaningfully at the strawberries pictured along with the cereal. Best toy ever.

Other use for a Cheerios box: Starter violin. No, really. I remember going to Lady O's Suzuki violin recitals, and the littlest children would toddle up to the front of the music room, clutching a cereal box with a ruler taped to one end. They'd tuck the box under their chins, show their good posture and proper position, bow solemnly, and wobble back to their parents.

At the next month's recital, they'd have a tiny violin and be able to play "Mississippi Hot Dog" (east coast students) or "San Diego Freeway" (west coast students). You could always identify the parents of the beginners. The smaller the child, the larger the videocamera.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

CEO, not Heiress

Meg Cabot and others have talked so much about the inane amusement known as MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen, that I asked SwingDaddy to record an episode for me our the MythTV box. For those of you not in know, MythTV is a sort of geeky version of TiVo, where you build and program the box yourself. I know there are people who think TiVo is already geeky, but they're not reading blogs, so I don't need to address that here.

I usually have a hard time sitting still through an entire program or movie, either because the characters are making poor choices or because I'm too stressed for them, but I must say that My Super Sweet Sixteen was an excellent investment of 22 minutes.

In this episode, the party girl, Alex, is apparently in line to inherit a chateau and constantly refers to herself as an "heiress." When she goes car shopping with her dad, she climbs into a BMW X5 and proclaims, "This is totally a heiress-mobile." When she flies to France with her mother and best friend to shop for her party dress (no, really, she doesn't leave her suburban Michigan McMansion and just go to Detroit, or even New York), she says, "The heiress is in Paris!" Speaking of that Paris, SwingDaddy was forced to leave the room to control his nausea when the Alex's voiceover stated that her role model is ubiquitous Ms. Hilton.

She hires two male models to escort her to her 16th birthday party, where everyone is wearing white by decree. It's nice to see some of the boys wearing white polo shirts among the more elaborately decorated kids. Someone has to maintain a sense of proportion, because it certainly isn't Alex, her "VIP girls," or her parents. The party girl is crushed when her dad unveils the surprise musical guest and he isn't Eminem. However, she gets the BMW and lives happily ever after. Well, at least until she has to beg her parents for the next $15,000 dress she wants.

You know how I mentioned that this show was a good investment of time? Heck, yeah. I was a little down earlier today, but now I feel so smart! And so ambitious! And so independent, and capable, and downright cool.

P.s. The smoothies were a hit with Q!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dude, You'd Better Still Like Juice Tomorrow

Tonight, I bought four pounds of strawberries, a big bunch of bananas, and a gallon of apple juice. I am hoping that Q's inordinate fondness for smoothies doesn't fade faster than the toast phase or the recently ended passion for Chinese noodles.

I spent the entire day writing for work, so I feel like I've used up all my words. I'll share another photo instead. This is our family portrait in silhouette.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I'm Living with R2D2

R2D2 is a convergence in the Force.

SwingDaddy says so, and he is an expert in all things Star Wars, so I'm inclined to agree. At the age of three, he watched it as his first movie in the theater, and he likes to believe that it changed the course of his life. I am hoping that wasn't the case; otherwise I'll be up nights wondering what to choose for Q.

In any case, R2D2 is cute, clever, always finishes on top, and communicates perfectly well in evocative beeps and whistles. These days, I am living with R2D2.

Q is providing us with a non-stop vocal track at loud volume. In the midst of babble, there will be the occasional word, like a raisin in pudding, but mostly it's just cute noises. (Ooooh, new food idea. Perhaps we should try feeding him pudding.) We can tell if he's happy or concerned, questioning or requesting, by the tone of his voice. What we often can't translate is the specifics.

C3PO, we need you to interpret!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Juice, Juice, and Perhaps a Raisin

We had a good time tonight at the Stanford Swingtime spring show.

One year ago, it was the first campus event to which we brought Q. Then and now, he's an attentive concert-goer.

Yes, in that first picture, it is indeed another Jamba Juice cup. He practically put himself on a liquid diet today. Milk, juice (ooh, the power of learning his new word, ju!), 4 cheerios, a small box of raisins, the Jamba, and then finally ate solid food at 8pm. We've been trying to tempt him with new foods, since he's grown disinterested in the old ones. We gave him frozen peas, a favorite of his little friend Monkey, in case his gums are sore. He put each individual pea in his mouth, then took it out, returned it to the plate, and moved on to the next pea. Entertaining, perhaps, but not all that nutritious.

We pulled out the baby foods book, which is admittedly a bit on the hippie-granola side, and SwingDaddy searched it for inspiration.

SwingDaddy: Most of the recipes here look gross. Hey bud, you want a sprout omelet?
Q: Blehhh!
SwingDaddy: Me neither.

We don't want him to live entirely on Jamba juice, but at least he's getting some fruit and a little protein thrown in. I bought a box of strawberries, since he liked those so much last week. We'll try 'em tomorrow.

Earlier, Nanny J came over and we took Q on an outing. She's sewed a lot in the past, but isn't so familiar with local fabric stores, so I took her to my two favorites. First, we went to Fabrics R Us, where you can dig through garment district leftovers for treasures at good prices. I shop there when I need to clothe seventeen dancers for a new number. Today, we were looking for curtain candidates for Q's room. All the babies are waking up early these days due to the sun, and darker curtains may help.

Next, we drove to Thai Silks, where I shop when I want just one fancy gown. While Nanny J browsed for material to make a dress to wear to her daughter's wedding, I had a nice chat with the proprietor. Q admired the long cardboard tubes they use to roll bolts, and she kindly went to the storeroom and found him a smaller, less dangerous tube. He walked up and down the aisles of the store and along the sidewalk outside, waving his prize.

In the end, we didn't get anything besides a yard of red cotton covered with dinosaurs. When we first showed it to Q, he roared! Where did he learn that? I'll use it to make him a pillow or something. As for curtains, maybe we'll just order ready-mades at Home Depot. Nanny J is going to try Macy's one more time for the dress.

SwingDaddy got home from his track cycling event about an hour after us, and Q showed him the dinosaurs and cardboard tube. Roar! I rolled the dinosaur fabric onto the tube, and he carried the bolt around like a little tailor.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Uneventful Cactus Visit

Q got ahold of the remote control last night and found heaven. He showed great care. No banging, chewing, or drooling on the device, just very assiduous clicking.

Today was one of those random days, filled with conference calls, a broken garage door, and a meeting with our financial planner who reminded us of things Responsible Adults should do that we haven't yet done. Note to self - update insurance notes. A few other non sequiturs:

In a recent interview, the wonderful J.K. Rowling herself states that our beloved Hippos Go Berserk is her "personal favourite." Yay!

I took Q for a roll in his stroller tonight, and snapped a picture of the legendary cactus with my Treo. It's not entirely in focus, because I was afraid to stop and draw too much attention to it. For those of you who were burning with curiosity, here it is, the succulent that my son wishes to hug.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Big Kids' Turf

The school down the street has a small playground, usually occupied by big kids (kindergarteners). Q and I took a walk tonight and found it empty, waiting for us to play.

Q steered his ship . . .

Played Hide & Seek . . .

And let Mommy know when it was time to go home.