Monday, July 31, 2006

Hey Baby

Nanny J took care of Q on Saturday night while SwingDaddy and I were running the wedding circuit. Her husband took some beautiful pictures.

The other day, Q opened a picture book and pointed to a character who was holding a camera. He said "Mama." Hmmm, I guess you know what we've been doing a lot lately.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

BlogHer, More on Weddings, and a Cool Clock Tower

The BlogHer experience was pretty cool. I'd kind of decided to go on a whim, since it was just down the street, and I'm really glad that I did. Lady O and Momma to LG came for the second day, and it was nice to have some familiar company. Now is when I sound totally star-struck: Momma to LG was brave, so we went and introduced ourselves to dooce herself! I met many of my other blogworld heroes and some were even kind enough to pose for pictures with Japanese Fruit Friend, in his Orange incarnation.

Back when SwingDaddy and I started our blogs, we weren't sure how anonymous to be. At first, I didn't show any faces in the photographs (although that quickly went by the wayside for family shots), so I used a snap I already had of JFF for my Blogger profile picture.

(Aside: Why did I have a photo of JFF? I used to have interminably long weekly conference calls with our Japanese counterparts where we would try to answer each other's questions and figure out whether the other party really understood what we were saying. Endless goodwill on all sides, but not a necessarily a whole lot of comprehension.

I started putting JFF on my desk during calls, with his happy orange face, to remind myself to have patience and respect for cultural differences. When my American teammate asked me for tips on how to keep calm during the calls, I took and sent him the photo. By the way, if you turn JFF inside out, he has a Blueberry incarnation as well.)

Anyway, back to BlogHer: When I met Her Bad Mother, she said, "Oh, if you'd had that orange guy with you, I would have known who you were sooner!" And I thought it'd be fun to have JFF along. Here's a snap with reunited-from-childhood pal, Mir:



Lady O and I took Q for a walk at the University campus today. He heard the clock tower chime from a distance, so we headed over to a nice shady bench at the foot, and he spent a good half hour admiring the mechanical workings.

In the meantime, I got to catch up with Lady O on wedding stuff. She'd gone to Dr. K's while SwingDaddy and I went to PinkGal's and finished the evening at Dr. K's. Both were lovely and loving, well organized, and full of fun people.

I have never seen such creative guest book endeavors until this month! Swing Couple had a beautiful book with pages designated for each table that were themed with a location special to their relationship. There was also a place blocked out to attach the photograph that would be taken of each group at the reception. PinkGal and husband had a Polaroid camera, so you'd take a picture of yourself, insert it into a page (with pre-set photo corners) and write a message next to it. Dr. K and Dr. J provided color pencils and fancy art paper, for everyone to trace their hands and leave them a message. The photo at the left is SwingDaddy and my wedding "guestbook," patterned after the one made for my parents. Madame A did the lovely embroidery.

We were standing too far back in the crowd to see PinkGal's cake cutting, but SwingDaddy pointed out that we could see the action through SuperVideoGuy's viewfinder screen, as he worked the camera on its monopod overhead. It made me reflect just how many events in our lives we've now seen though his great work.

Happily, it looked like everything in both weddings went flawlessly, with perhaps the exception of one incoherent, meandering toast that was mercifully and graciously ended by the wedding couple. Nothing that a tragic videotape erasure accident wouldn't resolve.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

3000 Words


Japanese Fruit Friend at BlogHer. I'll explain tomorrow.

Beautiful wedding couple.

Our other beautiful wedding couple and (step)daughters.

Long but happy day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Land of a Thousand Bloggers

The BlogHer conference was terrific today! There were lots of good classes, but the best part was meeting many of the ladies who I read regularly. One cool coincidence: We were all finding seats before the opening session, and the gal who happened to sit next to me was a classmate from fifth grade! And she's famous too!

It occurred to me tonight that I should have brought Japanese Fruit Friend with me for identification purposes, since I use his Orange incarnation as my Blogger profile picture. Maybe I'll bring him tomorrow.

More about BlogHer later. The rest of the conference and two weddings are tomorrow, so it's time to get to bed.

Updated: I did indeed get a picture with Mir and JFF!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Soap Opera Drama on PBS Kids Sprout

Well, we got Pingu back, but lost Melanie.

There've been a number of changes to the PBS/Sprout "Good Night Show" lately. We always liked Melanie, the chirpy host who introduced the segments, played games and taught a craft each night. Two weeks ago, they introduced a creepy plush co-host named "Star," who as you might have guessed, was star-shaped with arm appendages and a raspy voice.

The unfortunate result of its arrival (aside from basic annoyance) was that they cut our beloved Pingu to make time for the interaction between Melanie and Star. We were so sad! I even sent an email to PBS/Sprout, requesting that they return Pingu.

The next smoking toddler news from this week? Sprout fired Melanie. Apparently, seven years ago, she spoke in a 30 second parody of a public service announcement on teen abstinence, and PBS decided that she no longer suited the role of a pre-school program host.

SwingDaddy says that they should also cut the Thomas the Tank Engine segments hosted by George Carlin, if they're going to get picky about what the actors have done in the past.

Anyway, we will miss Melanie, but we're not sorry that Star has gone missing too. Best of all, Pingu is back!

~
The BlogHer conference starts tomorrow. It looks like everyone is posting about being nervous and wondering what to wear. Should I be nervous? Is there some big hazing initiation that I missed in the registration material? Too late to worry now!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A is for Apple, Airplane, Epinephrine

Q's had a lot of simple words for a while, like mama and baba, woof-woof and quack-quack, but we got our first truly multi-syllable word more recently. The night we left the ER at 1 o'clock in the morning, we were walking under a clear night sky, and a loud airplane flew overhead. Q leaned over SwingDaddy's arms and exclaimed, "Eh-pi!"

SwingDaddy said, "Yes, it's an airplane! Very good. I'm glad you're feeling better, little bud."

"I think he meant "epinephrine," I mean we just left a room full of people talking about 'epi.'"

It did really sound a lot more like "epi," but Q pretty regularly calls planes by the name "Eh-pi" now, so I guess SwingDaddy was right. These last few days he's saying "apple" quite clearly too.

A cousin gave him these charming alphabet blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I've been holding off opening them, since the paper artwork would be ruined with a few good chewings, but the outside of the box is so beautiful that we've been playing with it already.

A = apple, B = boat, C = cat. Q does pretty well with this side of the cube. He can say "apple" and meow for the cat.

D = dance, E = egg, F = feet. Egg doesn't do much for him, but he stomps his feet when I say "dance," and wiggles his feet for F.

Somehow we haven't spent much time on the G-H-I side of the box. He almost immediately turns it over to:

J = jewelry, K = kiss, L = light. When I said, "Kiss!" this morning, he came over really close to me. I was excited to get a kiss, but he instead presented his cheek, right next to my face. Cutie. I kissed him.

~
Shout out to Momma to LG and Her Bad Mother: Thank you so much for your help! The song was indeed Slippery Fish!

~
Everyone seems to be posting pictures of themselves for identification at BlogHer, so here's mine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lady M and the Nupboards

When I first started blogging in the spring, I chose Nupboard Central as my new home. The naming process is described here. I've been thinking for a while now that it would be clearer to have my user name and blog name line up a bit more. It's certainly easier to explain when I meet new fellow bloggers!

So here you have it:

Lady M at Nupboard Central

Cute baby stories in the next post, I promise!

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Can't Believe It's Still This Hot

Due to the heat, I can't concentrate on one subject for long, so I have a mishmash post.

Major topic of discussion at work today: What does it cost to install air conditioning?

One fellow had an expert firm to recommend, although they are booked for months to come, of course. This is a crazy hot week. On my conference call, everyone from Seattle to Portland was complaining, although the Dallas team trumped us all in terms of sheer temperature.

Those of you coming into town for BlogHer: Check the weather report before you leave home! This is not your typical California weather.

~
Working in voice/video telephony, we're always developing new case studies for why people should buy the stuff. Well, we have our very own proof that the grandparent video calls are totally working. Q is usually pretty shy, but thanks to the familiarity he gets from the weekly calls, he was immediately ready to play with Grandma Q and Grandad B this weekend. He had such a good time, and even let Grandad carry him around the mall, without SwingDaddy or me in sight.

~
Yesterday, while we were waiting in a cashier's line, Q examined the items on the shelf near him. He selected a wooden clock toy and handed it to me, making "tick tock" noises. I'm impressed that he'd recognize an analog clock for what it was. Almost all our clocks at home are digital.

~
Thanks for the input on the fish song. We're going to try "Slippery Fish" tomorrow and see if it's the one. Keep ya posted!

~
Our portable fan/ceiling fan setup last night was pretty successful. SwingDaddy, Q, and I all woke up cool and refreshed. Here's to hoping it works again tonight!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Does Anyone Know a Nursery Rhyme About a Fish?

Nanny J said that the kids learned a new song in class this week. She was unfamiliar with the tune and only caught enough of the words to know that it was about a fish. I sang her "three little fishes and the mama too . . . and they swam and they swam, over the dam," but it's not that one. We've combed through our kiddie CDs and haven't found it. Let me know if you know of a fish song! We want to learn the words so that we can sing it for Q at home too.

We got our first unprompted "please" from Q today. He was highly motivated by the sight of a vanilla milk shake.

Unrelated photo: Many thanks to 'Cha' and Lady O for this "Jane Austen and Jazz" photo from our show last Tuesday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

An Amazing Combination of Beauty and Tackiness in One Day

Dr. K held a lovely outing this morning with girlfriends to celebrate her upcoming wedding. We strolled through the Conservatory of Flowers and later admired the view from the new DeYoung Museum tower.

She gave us beautiful handmade lavender sachets that are scenting our house and winning over the usually prevalent baby smell. It was fun to admire plants, the view, and enjoy the morning.

And on the other side of the style fence:

I had occasion to chat with Mr. E this week and enjoy his usual acerbic wit. His new creation, a glitter effect web tool, has become a tremendous hit, with thousands of downloads. He says that he has started to say that he is the piano player at a bordello, that being a more respectable profession than enabling twelve-year-old girls with questionable grammar skills to out-do their peers in adding glitter ponies to their personal websites.

I responded to the news of his success in the only way possible.

"OMG!!!!!!!"

That seemed to please him enough that tonight he sent SwingDaddy and me our very own gif of our names in everlasting glitter (not posted here, as you might be blinded by its glory). You really need to click here to see an example of the glitter in action. Please put on sunglasses first.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Seeing Stars

Tonight's ball was a great end to a beautiful dance week! We will rest our tired feet and bask in warm memories.

Photo: Norma Miller in the sparkly outfit of a showbiz queen. You can't quite tell in the photo, but her blouse and pants are embedded with glitter, and even her watch is covered with rhinestones. "You got to have bling," she explained.

Norma and our other grande dame instructor, Skippy Blair, got a chance to meet and chat. They discovered that they had both danced at Steel Pier in Atlantic City in 1936. Skippy was 14 at the time, and remembers watching rehearsals of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, including 17-year-old Norma. They didn't meet there, but it was another one of those cool shared connections.

Updated to add photo credit to Madame A!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Can Get It, No, Really, I Can

Above: Q, insisting that he can manage my dance bag for me this morning.

Classes were a blast today. We are much better rested than earlier in the week. Looking forward to catching up writing and reading everyone else's blogs this weekend!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Little Dude is Rockin' Out

In between teaching classes earlier this week, we played some dance music, which Q loved. Here he is, rocking out!

We're over the busiest part of the dance week. There are only two days to go, which is a relief from a schedule perspective, but sad, because we will miss everyone. Tonight we finally had time to catch up with Norma Miller, and she's asked us to contribute to her newest book, a history of social dance.

Norma's 86 now, and never misses a beat. She stepped out of the audience last night to sing her song, and when the stage lights hit her clothes, she glistened all over - glittery sparkles from head to toe. The younger gals watching from the sidelines all ooooh'd.

"That is a lady who has been in show biz all her life," I remarked. She sure knows how to be noticed!

Hearing her plan her next workshop, next book, next video production is really inspirational. She may be more than 50 years older than us, but she has just as many plans and dreams as when she was a 14 year old girl, getting her first dance gig.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Swing, Baby, Swing!

We had a terrific show tonight! Our numbers were well received, and all the pieces fell into place. Besides the energetic dances, the legendary Norma Miller sang her signature song, "Swing, Baby, Swing" and shared a preview of her upcoming movie.

Q got his first choreography credit too! Nanny K was so kind as to list him as helper for her foxtrot number, since she worked the whole thing out while holding him last autumn.

Here, the Regency ladies are being silly:

We still have to prepare for tomorrow's classes, so I'll write more after I've had time to think about the experience. It was an altogether satisfying day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lil' Bug Returns

Our Charleston class was a blast of energy this morning, and Mazurka was just as much fun. It's hot, so we're drinking water madly to try to stay hydrated.

The photo above is from the same show as yesterday's picture. One of the naughty sailor boys is carrying off a wild Charleston girl.

Q woke up at 5am again and demanded company noisily. I went into his room, where he was standing up, leaning against the rail of his crib. As soon as he saw me, he lay down and curled into what we used to call "Little Bug." It brought back old memories, so fond that I almost (but not quite) forgot that it was 5am.

This is a real Lil' Bug - can't believe he was this small last year!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stepping Out with My Baby

After sorting out four performance troupes, 50 dancers, 9 sets of costumes, and 15 dances, I've got a final program and music/lighting cues for our Tuesday concert. Yay! SwingDaddy is working on the master CD, and we'll be able to move onto the next project - finalizing our lesson plan, since the dance week begins in earnest tomorrow.

We'll be teaching Charleston in the morning and Mazurka in the afternoon. Q will hang out with Nanny J for Monday and Tuesday, but things should be settled enough by midweek for him to come to the workshop and enjoy the music too!

The photo above is from our 2004 show, where the ladies are stepping up to begin a Charleston routine. I'm on the right, wearing my favorite "flickering flame" flapper dress.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Like I Could Touch the Sky

I think I used up all my words and need for expression today, between teaching and demonstrating at the dance workshop. SwingDaddy and I were pleased with our class, and Q loved getting to see so much musical motion.

The photo above is from a shoot we did before our big "Stepping Out" concert. The boys are having a good time in the air.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bet You Never Thought a Crib Bumper Was This Much Fun

Someone figured out to use his crib bumpers to scale the side of the crib, so we had to take them out.

We let him play with them on the floor - nice and bouncy!

May we do this every day?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yes, I Know the Muffin Man

We live on Drury Lane. Q helped me bake this weekend.

Mixing.

Waiting.

Yum! The batter makes two trays of mini-muffins (cute food tastes better, after all), and I use a big muffin pan to finish it out. That way, we can bake them all at once.

~
In other news, we had an excellent rehearsal tonight with our troupe. Our show is this coming Tuesday, and the numbers look sharp. SwingDaddy and I were so tired that the first pass at our solo was a little glazed, but we smoothed out most bobbles by the end of practice. It was one of those good nights, where the energy grows with each dance.

Above: I brought 19 costume dresses, 2 blouses, 6 shirts, 8 pairs of long white gloves, 8 flower wreathes, and a wig to rehearsal to distribute to the dancers. Thank heavens we don't need to pack the big Victorian petticoats for this show!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Okay, This One Really Is a Milestone

The morning after our trip to the ER, I called Nanny J at home to give her a heads-up that Q was sick. I didn't want her to arrive on a Monday morning with fun play plans and have them rudely met by a croupy baby. Her husband answered the phone, and I could have spoken English to him, but it actually felt better and more articulate to speak Chinese!

All those years of my parents telling me to keep up my language skills . . . and it's really paying off. Thanks, mom and dad! SwingDaddy and I are happy to have Q hearing both languages in the house.

Today, Q wanted to watch Bob the Builder, so he walked into the living room and pointed at the dark TV screen. He shrugged his shoulders dramatically and said, "May – yoh." ("There isn't any.") He also points to pictures on the fridge and does fairly well naming the people. He's had Baba, Mama, Babee, Ayi (for Nanny J) for a while now. New this week, he's chosen to call my parents "Ama" and "Agu," usually while making the baby sign for telephone to indicate that we should call them. He's also working on Lady O and Nanny K's names, quite cutely.

He's still got a cough, but has enough energy to try climbing the coffee table repeatedly. I've come down with a sore throat, so it's off to bed early tonight.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Don't Think You Can Really Call These Milestones

Kinda-Milestone #1: Apparently, I've started thinking of myself as a photographer. Not that you would be able to tell from the quality of my snapshots.

At this weekend's wedding, we were sitting among the rows of delicate chairs, waiting for the ceremony and admiring the white paper umbrellas that many guests were using to shade themselves from the sun. It was such a beautiful image, and I really regretted not having my camera on hand.

I've often wished I had a camera to capture a photo of friends, but this time I wanted this visual composition, to post on the blog! I was fretting and obsessing over whether I should run to get the Canon when I realized that I wasn't enjoying the actual beauty of the moment, which was more important, after all.

Un-Milestone #2: Tonight, I looked at the toys strewn around the playroom floor and left them there, instead of putting them all away.

~
In other news, Q slept well last night and was much better today. Thanks for your concern!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Like the Hero of a Dickens Story

An hour after writing the cheery end of yesterday's post, we were on our way to the ER for the first time with Q. He came down with croup, which sounds positively Dickensian. Next thing you know, we'll have gout.

God, I hope not. I think you're supposed to be a rich old man for gout. And I think you can only catch brain fever if you're a colonizing English person in India in a Frances Hodgson Burnett story. It's a good thing that SwingDaddy comes from a medical family, so we have more than classic literature to use for diagnoses.

Apparently, croup viruses target the voice box area, and where an adult would just have laryngitis, a small child could get such a swollen throat that he has trouble taking a breath. Q had the nasty seal-like barking, so we were ER-bound.

After some medication, he's doing much better. Nights are supposed to be worse, so we've got our fingers crossed for tonight. The doctor said that if we end up going to the ER again, we should open all the car windows and let in the cool night air. It's common that the croupy kids are fine by the time they arrive at the hospital, because the cold air has stopped the spasm. In that case, said Dr. H, just turn around and drive home.

I imagine this doesn't complete the freshman survey of childhood illnesses, but I hope we don't see croup again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

HaHa! It's Not All My Fault

SwingDaddy's mother reports that he was a biter as a child too.

Q, baby - Just because your mommy and daddy used to bite doesn't mean that you have to do it too. Rebel! Be different! Make your own fate!

On the plus side, maybe he'll also have Trivial Pursuit skillz.

~
It's been a year of love. We've had eight of our dancers get engaged since Labor Day. Two of them were to each other, so there were an amazing seven separate engagements. The swing pair had their wedding this afternoon, and it was beautiful. (For you non-couple-dance folks, it's swing dance pair, not swingers. That's something different.)

We made our way to the elegantly labeled table, and found a charming and thoughtful place setting for Q. He had a high chair all ready for him, with a little board book and a cute plush cow for entertainment! We quickly moved the fine china out of reach and settled in to greet our neighbors.

We even got to enjoy dancing a few numbers as a trio, thanks to SwingDaddy's stellar abilities to hold Q on his hip and still lead a hot Lindy Hop. The photographer (who shot our wedding too, many years ago) told us that he captured a few snaps of our family dance, and I can't wait to see them.

Before we knew it, it was Q's bedtime, and we went home, happy and tired. This is going to be a busy week, wrapping up a lot of projects at work, and preparing to teach at the summer dance week.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Five Second Rule Revisted

I was entertained by the responses to my Five Second Rule post a few days back. It's kind of fun to guess who will come down on which side - "Eeew, gross. Dirty water/food!' vs "It's no big deal. Get over it!"

Several people pointed out that the water coming out of the garden hose is indeed the same as the water going into the house. However, Lady O reminds us that we should check the condition of the hose itself, since one might have an old one that's been sitting outside for years gathering dirt inside and out. Uh, that would be us.

She also remembered reading an article where some inventive institute tested the Five Second Rule and determined that yes, dropped food picks up germs at speed. So don't eat food off the ground. Of course, that requires being faster than the lightning reflexes of one's toddler who is both more motivated to reach that runaway blueberry, and closer to the ground. A likely story.

Lady O's story reminded me of a children's TV program I saw years ago, where they tested everyday ideas that you always wondered were true or not. For instance, when it rains, don't you feel that running to your car will keep you from getting as wet as if you'd walked? Well, they tested the theory.

The experiment team chose two boys who put on matching new clothes - exactly the same size and type of shorts, t-shirt, socks and sneakers. They set up a sprinkler system, so that the water flow would be consistent, weighed the boys, and set them to go. One walked the length of the sprinklers, and the other one ran. They got on the scale again. The one who walked had gained more weight, meaning he'd absorbed more water. So, you really do get less wet if you run!

Of course, this mostly has to do with how long you're exposed to the water. If you were walking or running in a torrential rainstorm for an hour, it wouldn't make a difference at all.

Now, if we could only test whether the last bite of a cookie really tastes better than the rest.

Friday, July 07, 2006

He Gets It From Me, Darn It

I told my mom that Q is in a biting phase. She said, "That sounds like you. Like mother, like son."

Darn it. I hope whomever I bit deserved it.

Well, at least Q got some snazzy dance moves too.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

At Play

Q takes a turn pushing the toy stroller at playgroup today. Check out his little friend in her pink sporty swimwear!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Went to Japan and I Only Remember the Cream Puffs

Newsweek had an article this week about the trendy Beard Papa cream puff stores opening in fashionable cities across the US. The closest shop is in LA, so we're just going to have to hope that their franchising does well enough to expand up here.

I think that cream puffs are my favorite pastry. My mom used to bake them from scratch when I was little. I remember her carefully cutting off the tops with a serrated knife, pouring in the thick, homemade cream, and replacing the caps. So yummy.

I visited Japan about a dozen years ago, and while the historic and cultural tours were amazing, the cream puffs have a fond place in my heart. There was some kind of pastry chain store called Sizuya, and I made our group stop every time we saw one. I’m wondering if Beard Papa is a descendant of the older store, or if they're totally unrelated.

At Sizuya, you'd take a pair of decorated tongs and lift your selections onto a tidy tray, the entire process being cute, of course, since it was Japan. The cream puffs were individually wrapped in sealed packets, with a little air inside to cushion them, so I could throw a few into my backpack without worrying about squishing. Late at night in the ryokan (traditional hotel) – cream puff goodness!

I took one last puff home with me on the airplane, and was startled to see it mid-flight. With the air pressure change, the packet had inflated to double size, and I was afraid it would burst, sending sticky filling everywhere. Luckily, I managed to contain the damage and ate every bit.

Now I'm hungry.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dragons of America

Happy Fourth of July!

We met friends at this terrific new park and managed to squeeze in some conversation while chasing Q and their almost-two daughter, A-girl. Q wanted to eat the snap pea crisps from A-girl's snack bag, and A-girl would only eat snap peas from the batch that I had brought for Q. It worked out just fine.

A-girl's mom had some reassuring words about how the toddlers change. "She started understanding so much more at about 18 months." The constant, unrelenting supervision lightens up a bit. Thank heavens.

We'll be able to send him to investigate dragons on his own!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Somebody Pimped My Squirrel

We made a return to the zoo this morning, and enjoyed a surprisingly uncrowded visit. The lemurs were very active, and I got a better picture this time. Check out that long furry black tail.


I took a shot of a friendly meercat for Mary P.


Isn't this one quite bizarre looking? It is a Dwarf Zebu, a breed of cattle from India. When there isn't food available, it can survive from the fat in its hump, much like a camel.

We admired this remarkably multi-colored rodent from Southeast Asia. SwingDaddy said, "Look, somebody pimped the squirrel!" Unfortunately, the photo doesn't do justice to the boldness of its luxe look.

Highlight of the day: We took Q on his first carousel ride. Whee!