Thursday, August 31, 2006

Unloaded Magazine

I subscribe to three magazines.

Newsweek, because it's too easy to skip over unpleasant articles that one should read (terrorism, the war) on the web. Entertainment Weekly, because I prefer to read my television. InStyle, because the clothes are the best part of any awards ceremony, plus it's a good defensive weapon (one letter to the editor detailed a faithful reader successfully beating off a mugger with her copy of the five-pound fall fashion issue.)

Since I'm obsessive (nah!), I get stressed when I have a backlog to read. The magazine pile was getting taller and taller, threatening to tumble over. But I couldn't let go. What if skipping the article on the latest stem cell controversy or astronomy redefinition led to a gap in my general knowledge? I had to get through them, even if I had to skip descriptions of this season's hopeful sitcom pilots.

This week, I caught up! With the help of some judicious triage, vacation days, and Q playing inadvertent shredder, I am free of magazine duty until the mail arrives again.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One Ounce at a Time

If you've been in an airport lately, you've seen the mess of half-filled water bottles lining the trash bins by the security searches. What a waste.

I'm a small person who doesn’t consume a lot of liquid, so I often carry the same bottle from the morning I leave home, get on the plane, disembark, and finish up the water in the hotel at night. On our last trip, I was forced to toss an almost full bottle going through security, dump another one (purchased at the gift shop) just before boarding the plane, and purchase a third bottle upon arrival. There's got to be a better way, but I don't know what to suggest, besides getting dehydrated.

The airport situation made me think of Orson Scott Card, who wrote about water bottles earlier this month:

It is estimated that about [200 million] of these bottles are thrown away with the top screwed tightly down and an average of one ounce of water remaining inside.

Given that these plastic bottles are airtight, nonbiodegradable containers, this means that the water contained inside is withdrawn from the planet's hydrosystem for the next ten million years.


He goes on to point out that "The result is that humans of that future era will spend their lives swimming through an ocean of plastic water bottles, continually opening bottles to scavenge water, one ounce at a time."

While that would be an interesting premise for a novel, let's instead remember to empty water bottles before recycling them!

Note: If you don't know Orson Scott Card, he's a prolific science fiction author who has created some great series. As a new mom, I found Shadow Puppets (one of a series) particularly thought provoking and filled with action.

Card also writes a weekly column for his local paper, where he shares his passionate and sometimes odd opinions (hater of Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg, defender of sensible sidewalks and Mexican restaurants, promoter of musical theater, and scarily, admirer of George W. Bush). I enjoy reading his column because he's clearly thought things through, even when I don't agree with him. Sometimes reading only those with whom you share opinions leads to a vacuum of fresh thought.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kissy Sound Effects

It's a well established fact that Q loves phones. He's got three different models of toy phones, plus an old TV remote control that he treats as a phone, but he still yearns to hold the "real" phones, which are off limits.

Well, off limits except Sunday night, when I needed him to stop thrashing while I changed a particularly poopy diaper. I caved and handed him a cordless handset. After the (very cooperative) diaper change, he wasn't about to let me have it back, so I kept an eye on it while we played. If he hit the "talk" button or dialed too many numbers, I'd lean over and press the off button to reset it.

After about 20 minutes, monitoring the phone was getting to be a bit of a chore, and inspiration hit. He loves to press buttons, so why not teach him to press the off button himself?

The next time, I told him, "Please press off," and held his finger over the button. He pressed it. After that, he did it consistently when I asked.

So while I don't want to make a practice of giving him the phone, as least I didn't have to tail him until he got distracted by another toy. That night, distractions were hard to come by, so I figured we'd call my parents, Ama and Agu. Q let me hold the phone long enough to dial. As soon I was done, he snatched the phone back. I wrapped my arms around him so that he couldn't wander off.

"Hi Mom, Hi Dad," I called out, hoping I was loud enough to be heard while Q held the phone and pressed more buttons. "Say 'hi,' honey."

He managed a small verbal "hi" and waved jauntily at the phone. More button presses. My mom and dad's voices emerged – the kiddo managed to get the speakerphone on! I went to fetch his most realistic toy phone, the one with the same color and heft as the working phones, and handed it to him, figuring that he could hold it while I talked.

Nooooo. He handed it back to me and indicated that I should hold it to my ear and pretend, while he talked on the real phone to his grandparents. He ran through his repertoire of animal sounds for their entertainment and they chatted back to him.

Ama!" he said delightedly. "Mwah!" Apparently, I have been kissing my son with such exaggeration that he now believes kissing is an entirely sound-based activity. "Mwah!" he says again, to indicate kisses to his Grandma.

Sounds like Mama needs to revamp her kissing style. I occasionally need to give SwingDaddy a second kiss sans sound effects, following an accidental Mwah! I have to prove to myself that I can still do it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Crips and the Bloods, Monterey Bay Aquarium Division

One morning while we were on vacation, we headed down to the hotel pastry shop for croissants when we were suddenly consumed by a flood of convention-goers, mostly women in tidy pastels holding notebooks. Oddly, each had a red bandana tied around her arm.

My first thought was to wonder if there'd had been a mass blood donation and turned around to see at least a hundred of them scurry off. I was wishing for my camera when a second wave came through, this time bearing blue bandanas. They were chattering away excitedly, probably about some team assignment from their convention leader.

SwingDaddy said, "Wow, it's the Crips and the Bloods, marketing department." It was indeed the preppiest street gang ever.

I Can't Imagine What It's Going to Be Like When He's a Teenager

Such a busy social life.

Man about town. Or at least his little tent city.

We had a good time with Q's play huts today. I velcroed a bunch of them together and we crawled around amiably. Did you know that it's possible for a petite mom and toddler to fit in one of those yellow connecting tubes at the same time? Yes, it looks huge in the picture, but that's because the scale model only 18 months old.

Q was in one tube, so I crawled into another one and called for him, expecting him to meet me in the middle of the structure. Instead, he backed out of his tube, walked around the outside, found me, and belly crawled over my legs, back, and head, oooof!

Hi dude, thanks for coming over to mommy!

Friday, August 25, 2006

You'd Think That Disney Would Have Figured This Out By Now

Do you remember the movie, "101 Dalmatians?" The idea was the villainous Cruella De Vil, planned to take a bunch of puppies and make them into a spotted coat. Lovable anthropomorphic animals saving the day- everything a children's film could possibly need.

I didn't see the live action remake or its sequel, "102 Dalmatians," but I did get an eyeful of the merchandise at the Disney store. Among all plush toys and book tie-ins, there was a pretty coat for little girls.

Hang on, is that supposed to be a Dalmatian coat? Wasn't the whole idea of the movie to show that making a coat out of puppy skins was a bad idea that only evil people would do? Either the designers didn't think it through, or more likely, the Disney marketing department couldn't pass up a chance at a cute buck.

Last week, we walked through a toy store where I saw this.

I was horrified! They've bagged a bunch of Dalmatian puppies, and they're probably going to become a coat. We walked a little further.

Whew! They're just waiting their turn to be put on the puppy shelf.

P.S. When I went to eBay to find a picture of the coat, there were more listings for the search phrase "dalmation coat" than there were for the correct spelling. It's spelled with an "a" people!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why Las Vegas is (Not) the Town for Me

(Last of the LV vacation posts.)

1) Not into hiring hookers (no explanation needed)

2) Not into drinking (although I have a fondness for certain champagnes that are apparently unpurchasable in the United States, making it a fairly useless inclination. On Friday night, I was persuaded to taste SwingDaddy's trendy pomegranate martini, but the beautiful color didn't make up for the cough syrup taste. When a martini serves primarily as a segue into discussing the fascinating development of the "pom" market, my guess is that you've already missed the mark. But I digress.)

3) Not into gambling (I don't have the skillz to win at poker and took too many statistics classes to be willing to play other games.)

4) Hate cigarette smoke (but have discovered that it's not as bad when you stay at a nice hotel with high ceilings in the casino walkways. Sadly, Saturday night is a stinkfest that overwhelms even the Bellagio ventilation system.)

So Las Vegas is not an obvious vacation town for me. Why did we go?

I'm a maniacal Cirque du Soleil fan.

SwingDaddy and I both love dance/musical theater/spectacle, and New York is just too far to travel for a three day visit. We saw some great stuff this weekend, including Ka, Zumanity, and Le Reve. Thanks to some lucky internet discount deals for the hotel and days eating ramen to make up for expenses, we managed to see almost everything we wanted. Mini reviews:

Ka – The most accessible (read: least weird and most coherently storied) Cirque show that we've seen. Good martial arts, a phenomenal rotating stage set. The acrobatics were not as jaw-dropping as we usually expect, but still a great show. Plus they had a friendly crab and starfish in the cast! (photo above from the Ka gift shop)

Zumanity – An 18-and-older show, so don't sit in the front row if you're shy. Gorgeous design with amazing acrobatics. I generally hate clowns, but they had the funniest clowns ever.

Le Reve – Not technically a Cirque show, but directed by a former Cirque director, composed by a former Cirque composer, etc. It's like a mini-"O" – water based, but more intimate in a smaller theater. Beautiful combinations of artistry and imagery, full of those classic WTF Cirque moments where you have no idea what an image is supposed to mean, but it sure looks good.

We saw Le Reve on our "bonus" night, after our plane got cancelled and we were stuck in Vegas. We weren't in a great mood, and believe it or not, even I was a little overdosed on theater by this point. After seeing and critiquing some of the best, we've admittedly gotten a little jaded about productions.

To save us from grumpitude that night, we were visited by an angel in disguise. There was an Indian family sitting directly behind us, and the college-age son couldn't keep his mouth shut. Every time anyone would do anything, he would gasp, "Whoa!" It was like being with the Indian Keanu Reeves.

Water fell from the ceiling. Whoa! Divers leapt from their perches. Whoa! A dancer did a backflip. Whoa! It was really refreshing to be reminded of the purity of enjoyment, unsullied by measurement, comparison, and judgment. Thanks, dude. We had a great time too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Manicures are More Complicated than They Look

I'm going to wrap the rest of the Vegas vacation into two posts, so that I can return to the more important business of posting cute pictures of Q. Tonight, our little darling has determined that his father is the best possible challenge for his growing climbing skills, so we had a good gigglefest.

Bits and pieces from our guest pass into the lap of luxury:

I'm not usually a salon-type girl, but as a treat, I booked a manicure and pedicure. What did I learn? It takes a lot of time and maintenance to look like a polished lady! First of all, the treatments took a lot longer than I expected, and it must have showed that the last time I'd had my nails done was probably at our wedding. The poor manicurist had to prod me with incredibly obvious (to any other girl) instructions every step of the way.

"You'll want to take off your rings. Please take off your watch. And roll up your sleeves. Please put your hand here." And so on.

The results looked nice though! Following ljc's scrapbooking advice to take pictures of your feet next to interesting ground markings, here are my newly painted toes and a bit of the conservatory mosaic.

Here are my fingernails as I'm peering into the yummy leftovers from dinners I described yesterday. Yes, the nails need documentation because I don't know when the next time I'll manage to do this.

The salon/spa complex was pretty impressive - an enormous warren that seemed to stretch back for miles. It was like the old Avengers episodes, where an innocent-seeming storefront would hide a secret world of tunnels, housing acolytes walking around in matching white robes and flipflops.

More hotel nonsense:

There was also a charming exhibition of miniatures in the conservatory, all made of natural fibers. The US Capitol and other landmarks were featured, as well as a mini-Bellagio complete with fountainette.

Here are our shampoos, lotions, and mouthwash, because I am easily amused. SwingDaddy heard me snap the picture, and called out suspiciously, "What are you photographing in the bathroom?"

Visiting other hotels:

Caesar's Palace has an ostensibly Roman theme, but the decoration seems to veer closer to "anything that looks like white marble." There was a replica of Michaelangelo's David, which is only off by several centuries and miles. And even more oddly, we ran across the Winged Victory, which is from the Greek island of Samothrace. Well, no one goes to Vegas for archeological authenticity.

We strolled through the newest of the fancypants hotels, the Wynn, and duly admired the décor. A taxi driver later told us that he's often asked what the theme of the Wynn is, like "pirates" for Treasure Island, Paris, New York, etc. What does he answer? "Money."

And to remind ourselves that there is plenty of stuff to balance out the Wynn, here is the Tutu Tango Resort. We were happy to keep on walking and get back to our place.

Overall, the Bellagio was great, and I have only one complaint: How come modest hotels give you free internet access and a working refrigerator, but a luxury hotel insists on charging an extra 11 bucks and filling the mini-fridge with items tagged with motion detectors, so you can't touch them? And no wireless internet? We're going to have to bring our own router next time. Just kidding! Well, maybe.

Tomorrow: How a diehard Cirque du Soleil fan (almost) overdosed on shows.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We Ate Lots Too

Thoughts from the Least-Qualified Food Writer Ever

Our flight into Las Vegas at the beginning of the weekend was delayed due to a mechanical issue (yes, a different plane, different flight, and another mechanical. Let this be a lesson to you. Avoid America West!), but the collection of luggage, cab ride, and check-in was blessedly uneventful.

A quick press of the "reservations" button on our room phone, and we found ourselves at a much nicer restaurant than expected, sitting on plush chairs in the dim, relaxing light, almost shell shocked.

"It's so . . . so quiet," SwingDaddy whispered.
"We're just . . . sitting here," I whispered back. No high chair to assemble, sippy cup to fill, plastic placemat to unfold, bib to attach, cheerios to distribute.

We sat very still for a few moments, savoring the feeling. SwingDaddy said his was the best steak he's ever enjoyed. My dinner was pretty remarkable too. I missed seeing Q learn to eat something new and munching vigorously, but it was nice to eat my own dinner and not have to tithe.

We generally weren't fine diners even before we were parents, since a big night out usually involved dancing and performing, which doesn't go well with a big meal beforehand. So, all the good eating this weekend was unusual and fun!

We had another meal at a more "informal" place, where we were told we could get hamburgers. Well, informal is a relative term at the Bellagio. I found the hamburgers on the menu.

"Kobe Hamburgers. They can't possibly be talking about Kobe beef, could they? Or am I ordering a meal named after a basketball star with boundary issues?"

Yes, I got three cute tiny burgers made from Kobe beef, and dude, the establishment also listed Kobe chili cheese fries, which is like using Dom Perignon for mimosas. Or a Ferrari as an airport shuttle. It'll get you there, but it's overkill on quality!

We also ate at an Asian themed place that served lychee crème brulee and mochi ice cream. Mmmmm. Oh yeah, we had dinner first too.

There was also a gorgeous patisserie with the world's tallest chocolate fountain, only half of which appears in the photo at the top of this post. While we ate our crepes, we saw a video show how they make chocolate bowls for pastries. It involves dipped a small balloon into liquid chocolate, waiting for it to dry, and popping the balloon. Very clever!

I was admiring this interesting colored stuff. Flavored marshmallows? I couldn't tell, but was intrigued.

"Let's get a container," said SwingDaddy. "Otherwise, you'll talk about this forever as the mystery candy you wished we bought while we were on vacation."

"No, let's not. I'd rather remember it that way than remember it as the candy we bought, devoured, and made ourselves sick with."

Instead, we got an amazingly artistic box of chocolates as a thank you for my folks. Luckily, they survived the complications of travel home, and we're awaiting a report to see how they tasted.

And I'm wondering about these colored marshmallows. . .

Monday, August 21, 2006

Home Safe with Visions of Fountains Dancing in Our Heads

We made it home safely this afternoon, 'only' 24 hours late. Q had woken up early from his nap, so he was on hand to greet us with a little welcoming dance. We were so happy to see him and relieved that he still remembered us. The kiddo got a lot of loving attention while we were gone and apparently used up every last energy molecule showing off and being cute for Ama and Agu (as Q calls my parents), resulting in sleeping like a small rock each night.

My folks sent daily posts detailing Q's adventures, and we reported that we too had eaten well and slept well. Aside from the horrors of the return non-flight, we had a spectacular anniversary vacation, the first time we've been jointly away from Q. It was wonderful to have a few days on our own, and also know that my folks were playing with him all weekend long. I'm going to put the travel fiasco out of mind and just write about the fun stuff, until later, when I need to tap out the mother of all complaint letters to America West Airlines.

By the way, apologies for the lousy quality of the pictures yesterday. I'd pre-loaded the photos and posts through Saturday, planning to write and post Vegas pictures Sunday night when we returned, but well, you know how that went. The camera on my Treo did ok, considering the difficult lighting situations.

Tonight's topic: More than you ever wanted to hear about the Fountains of Bellagio.

We stayed at the Bellagio, thanks to a discounted internet reservation deal, in a room overlooking the fountains. It may be cheesy, but I looooove those fountains!

Five or six years ago, I was in Las Vegas for work, taking an evening walk down the strip, when I first saw the spectacle. It made me proud to be American. It had that end-of-the-empire decadence – millions of gallons of water flung into the air of the desert for nothing more than show. Dancing water accompanied by music from hidden loudspeakers, alternating between pop-opera and showtunes. What more could you ask for?

Each returning trip, I had to return to the lagoon and wait through a few of the 15 minute intervals between songs until I heard by favorite, "Time to Say Goodbye," by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. I know, I know. Any shred of hipness that you might have imagined I possessed has evaporated in the desert sky.

This time, we got to tune our hotel room stereo to the Fountain channel, and watch the show from our room! Day . . .

Or night!

SwingDaddy was highly tolerant of me running onto the restaurant terrace repeatedly during dinner to watch. And speaking of dinner, tomorrow's topic: Reflections on fine dining in Las Vegas, prepared by the least-qualified food critic ever.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

At Least We Have Internet Access

Warning: This is a venting post, lacking wit and charm. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow, including photos from the entertaining part of our trip! Or, you could visit Lady O at her new home, Fourth Breakfast.

We arrived at the airport this morning at 9:30am, endured a massively inefficient check-in process, a passable security screen, and settled in to wait for our 11:45 flight. Wait was the operating word. Every fifteen minutes from 11am onwards, the attendants broadcast an announcement to hang around – they’d have an update on our flight any moment.

Eventually, they told us that there were mechanical difficulties with the aircraft, which hadn’t yet taken off to even come to Las Vegas to get us. Abject apologies from America West. Minor annoyance on our part. I called my folks, who are holding down the fort with Q. “We’re going to be two hours late!” My mom said that they were doing well and not to worry.

After another hour of blurry loudspeaker announcements, the plane still hadn’t arrived. Actually, it hadn’t even taken off! However, ladies and gentlemen, don’t leave the boarding area, there might have news any moment.

“Sorry, Dad. We’re still on hold here at the airport.”
Dad assured me that Q was doing fine and that they were all having fun.

The plane arrived at about 3pm, two hours after we should have gotten home. They unloaded the passengers and re-discovered the mechanical problem. I’m not sure what was worse – being the folks who just arrived, since they flew on an unsound plane – or being us, since they cancelled our flight after another two hours of “Don’t wander away, we may take off with short notice!”

Mom101 wrote about the Isle of Misfit Toys the other day, and I thought of that as we were led to a room that was clearly the Isle of Misfit Passengers. It took until 6pm to get re-routed. The only remaining flight today was to go standby on a midnight flight to Oakland that would be followed by a shuttle back to our regular airport at 3am. Standby for a midnight flight – uh, no.

We turned that down and accepted a hotel voucher and tickets home tomorrow. Thank god, my folks were flexible and can watch Q another day. Had we known how long this mess would last, we would have rented a car, driven 600 miles, and been home by now. Grrrr.

One small blessing – our vouchered hotel has free internet access. Wish us luck for tomorrow.

After 8 Hours at the Airport, We Are Still Not Home

This is our plane. We are not on it.

Updated.

Our flight was cancelled. For your reference, the American West $5 food voucher will buy you a bottle of water and a cookie. You do not get to keep the 7 cents change.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Search of a Cactus-Shaped Dorito

In the pre-child days, we used to have dinner regularly at Chevy's, where we'd order a chicken quesadilla for me and steak fajitas for SwingDaddy. Yeah, not really exotic, but it was a quick meal, close to our house.

The elaborate plate of fajitas included a dollop of corn pudding decorated with a cactus-shaped, orange-colored tortilla chip. Halfway through each meal, I'd beg SwingDaddy for the cactus Dorito.

"It's not a Dorito, but you can have it."

I'd crunch the chip. Sure enough, it might have been orange, but it was just a plain tortilla chip, sadly not a Dorito. For years, I had a fascination with this cactus. Maybe next time, it will be a Dorito! But it never was.

A few weeks ago, Q was in a pretty good mood, so we headed over to the restaurant with Nanny K, who was visiting that evening. SwingDaddy ordered the steak fajitas and I was so excited that this time, it might come with a cactus shaped Dorito!

Observe the corn pudding on the meal in the photo. There is distinctly no cactus-shaped Dorito, or in fact anything, embedded in it. I checked with our waiter, and it turns out that since the last time we visited, they'd discontinued the chip decoration.

We're going to have to have a little talk with Frito-Lay.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mice with Spikes

Hedgehog observations from the machine crew of Bob the Builder.

Muck, the bulldozer: "Look! It's a family of upside-down hairbrushes!"

Later, from Lofty, the shy crane: "Oh no! Stay away! Mice with spikes!"

Note: I'm in the middle of writing a much longer piece on dance and choreography, but it'd not done yet and we're on vacation, so ya get hedgehog stories instead.

Correction: The first line is from Travis the Tractor, not Muck.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mollusk Tragedy Averted

As you know, I have a fondness for cute sealife, so when I saw this photo in the Pottery Barn Kids catelog and couldn't quite figure out what it was supposed to be, I was intrigued. Is it an octopus (or pentapus really, since there are only five legs)? And what is it wearing around its neck?

There was another octopus in the news recently. A zoo truck overturned in Texas, stranding a set of penguins and other exotic creatures. Four of the penguins tried to cross the freeway and perished, but the others wisely huddled together awaiting rescue by the police. The fish didn't make it, but the octopus survived.

Pottery Barn also featured a whale-themed bathmat with what appears to be a harpoon stuck in its forehead. Upon further examination, it's probably supposed to be a spout of water, but the artistry leaves a lot to be desired. I think the squiggle on the right is the letter "W," but it looks sort of like a cartoon indication of the harpoon's impact.

Of course I had to investigate, so Q and I headed to the store and found the octopus pillow. I totally know what it is now. Here's a somewhat blurry photo from my camera phone.



It's that Texan octopus who survived the car crash. He's wearing a neckbrace!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So You Think You Can Critique Dance

Go Benji! He was definitely the most entertaining of the performers, and as a swing dancer, I'm thrilled he won. The other contestants were amazing too, and we really enjoyed watching "So You Think You Can Dance" as our chosen passive entertainment* for weeks.

The dancing was simply amazing, from hip hop to contemporary to Broadway. I think that we learned just as much about what a difference a top notch choreographer makes, and also a lot more about dance critique. Nigel, the executive producer and senior judge, had some insightful and useful comments for the performers, and it was fun to see where we'd agree with his assessment.

He'd tell some dancers they needed to express themselves through their faces to the audience more, others that their extension didn't reach all the way through the tips of their fingers and toes, and some received good marks for owning their movement instead of looking like they'd simply been told to move a certain way.

The most annoying description of the final two contestants was that "Benji's performance trumped Travis' technique." I loved Travis' dancing and agree that he had beautiful classical and contemporary technique. I loved his jumps and spins. However, he had pretty lame Latin technique.

Benji sold every number, giving it an energy and humor that caught the eye of the audience. He doesn't have a ballet background, but it's worth noting that while he showed great partnering technique, particularly in the Latin dances, he never actually got to show his certainly impeccable swing technique once the final 20 dancers were selected. Viewers never got to vote on him performing his specialty, and he still won. So, pretty impressive stuff all around.

We hired Benji's father, Buddy Schwimmer (nicknamed "Man of a Thousand Moves"), to teach at one of the Stanford dance weeks several years ago, and I was his teaching assistant for a series of West Coast Swing classes. He was very funny and knew his stuff, although his tough-guy style alarmed some of the students (and other instructors). It was neat to see him in the audience, holding a sign for his son, tears streaming down his face at the victorious moment.


*The "passive entertainment" phrase was coined at a time when we were dancing almost every night, either socially, teaching or performing. We decided that we should have one night per week where we were not actually the entertainment ourselves and instead watched others. Mmmm, couch potato time!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Marital Conflict Resolution

We are a "mixed" household. For some it's race, and for others it's religion. Some couples can't agree on politics.

For us, it's licorice. I think Red Vines taste like plastic. He says the same of Twizzlers. To keep the peace, we usually buy a package of each. If only all issues could be solved so quickly and cheaply.

Twizzlers vs. Red Vines – where do you stand?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Power of Two to the Third

Tomorrow is our eighth wedding anniversary. SwingDaddy is an amazing human being, and I'm honored and privileged to be his partner in this adventure of ours.

He's multi-talented in both abstract and practical ways. His sophomore dorm selected him as the person they most wanted as a companion if stranded on a deserted island. He's hot and sexy, yes! And he is also the person most likely to have the all skills needed to get you off the island and rescued.

He's truly thoughtful. Five years ago, he needed surgery, and after a frantic week of research and talking to doctors, we had an appointment at the university medical center. We drove there at dawn, and as we walked into the hospital, he had me turn around and face the parking lot. He was heading in for major surgery, but instead of worrying for himself, he was thinking about me. He pointed out where we had parked the car, so I wouldn't be stressed finding it when I emerged hours later. That's just the kind of person he is.

And he shows our son and me how much he loves us every day.

Happy Anniversary, SwingDaddy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Hobbit Habit

In celebration of the 37th season of Sesame Street beginning tomorrow, the Lovely Mrs. Davis organized a blog fest to answer the following question:

What television, music, movie or book from your childhood are you excited about sharing with your own children?

There are so many fabulous stories to share that it's really hard to name one. Sesame Street, of course, My Neighbor Totoro, and Shel Silverstein come to mind, but I'm going to stick to the question and just choose one outstanding book for how it has grown with me since childhood.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

My classmate Sandy recommended the book in fifth grade, and I remember locating the faded copy in the library and reading late into the night, until my parents sent me to bed. With carefully saved allowance money, I bought a set of paperbacks that accompanied me from home to home and sit on our bookshelves today, battered and precious.

SwingDaddy was introduced to The Hobbit even earlier. His mom is a huge fan, having written her thesis on Tolkien, so she and his dad read it out loud to him at the age of three. After overcoming a series of nightmares about giant spiders, SwingDaddy also developed a lifelong love for Bilbo and the greater adventures described in The Lord of the Rings.

The language of Tolkien is meant for reading aloud. It's simple at times, majestic at others. Early in our courtship, we read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to each other, chapter by chapter, over a year and a half. There are so many stories entwined together in a world so loved by the author, that he created the history and languages first. And there's just a whole of fun to be had too!

Note to self: Must remember to reassure Q before bedtime that those giant Mirkwood spiders don't exist.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friends Bring Crack Noodles

I had some problems with Blogger last night, so I wasn't able to get this posted until now.

We had a couple dozen of our friends over tonight and the evening went by in a happy blur. My mom had suggested Costco as a source of remarkably good party food, and boy, was that the right way to go. I've never been a super-chef at the best of times, but now that Q has a fascination with the stove, producing a party's worth of food without at least one dive into the oven would probably be impossible.

Among the yummy contributions from our friends included "crack noodles" from our Irish dancing friend, a concoction of soba noodles with special peanut sauce. Once you start eating them, you can't stop. Apparently, this was the second batch she made today, because she taste-tested the first batch and was forced to eat until they were all gone. She didn't make the mistake with the second batch, and managed to get them packed into a container before they tempted her with noodley goodness.

Lady O designed a fantastic floral arrangement, making good use of Dr K's wedding favor vases. SwingDaddy's little sister was with us all weekend, and we got to catch up with her before she goes to Spain for two semesters abroad. Q had a good time with two Ah-yi's (Aunties) to chase around during the party.

Lots of fun news, including an update from Ms. Redowa, who was the wedding coordinator for SuperVideoGuy's own wedding this morning. She reported that it was a small sweet ceremony for family and very beautiful. Another friend's two brothers wrote a musical a few years ago, and they just got the wonderful announcement that it's been added to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Corporation's catalog. The show is called "MID-LIFE! The Crisis Musical" and sounds very funny.

The night's second biggest triumph (the primary being, of course, the enjoyment of all present company) was re-purposing the leftover food. Ms. Redowa's award winning dance troup, Google Idol champions, is having its summer picnic tomorrow, so she and her fiancé carried off 32 slices of cake, half a try of sushi, and the remains of the veggie platter. I tried to rearrange the vegetables more attractively, but she said not to worry. Quantity, not presentation, is key for their crowd.

Good company, no food wasted, happy baby. It doesn't get much better than that, unless you have a dance floor at hand.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Boy and His Broom

Q and I went to visit a good friend and co-conspirator. She and I have a history of crazy creative projects, like designing and sewing ten 1920's frocks in two weeks for a show. Today, we were mellow, just catching up and devouring mangoes. We thought that Q would enjoy playing with her cute little Maltese puppy.

He had a grand time sweeping the porch instead.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nobody's Business But My Own, Some Friendly Readers, and Oh Yeah, Anyone with an Internet Connection

I am late to the party. Miss Zoot posted last week about a topic she wished was covered in the BlogHer Mommyblogging panel, but I didn't see it until mothergoosemouse, Mom Writes, and Mayberry wrote about it today. Warning – unexpectedly long post today, so I'll insert some gratuitous cuteness in photo form along the way.

The topic? Privacy in regards to blogging about one's children, family, and friends. I'd been hoping that Mir would get a chance to address it at the panel, since she has kids old enough to read, but since there wasn't time, I'm thrilled we get a second chance to see what others think about the matter.

SwingDaddy and I share pictures of us with Q, but generally no one else. I like having an "abstraction layer" of nom-de-blogs and occasional vagueness to protect those who have not specifically chosen to be written about on the web. I'll post links where relevant to friends with commercial interests, but not their personal wedding sites and such unless they've given permission. I go ahead and post our dance troupe photos, since our dancers are already donning theatrical costumes and performing in front of hundreds of people in public venues.

In regards to sharing stories about children, I'd been thinking along very similar lines to what Dooce answered at the "Here to Autonomy" panel: In the first few years of life, babies sleep or don't sleep, nurse, eat, cry, make messes, learn to walk and talk. Everyone goes through it. As they hit three or four, their stories become more individual, and it's time to apply increased discretion. I distinctly believe Q has a right to privacy.

Here's my take on the questions from Miss Zoot.

1. Do your kids know about your blog? If they're too young to know, do you plan to keep it open to them as they get older?


Q is too young to know. He just knows that his dad and I spend a lot of time in the office near things with bright lights and cool buttons. As he gets old enough to understand, I'll definitely tell him. This is a kid who got his first email address as a newborn, for heaven's sake.

2. If so - do you worry they may get embarrassed later? What would you do if they asked you to stop writing about them? What would you do if they wanted you to take it down all together?


I imagine that he will be embarrassed sometimes, as all children are occasionally embarrassed by their parents, and I would stop writing about him if he asked. At this point, I don't know that I myself will want my earlier postings available to the world forever, so I can't say that I'll keep things posted to the web, do or die. That's a little extreme, and who knows how he or I will feel five, ten, or fifteen years from now.

3. Do you think our kids will appreciate the archive of their childhood? Do you wish your parents had done the same?

I think that he'll certainly appreciate some of it. He might not care to know how much he used to barf as a baby. I bought my first scrapbook to dutifully capture those "magical baby moments." When I was trying to decide whether pasting Q's Halloween picture and our family Christmas picture on the same page would be ok, I realized that scrapbooking was not for me, and started blogging.

I love the memories that my parents have saved for me in various forms. I like having selectively good memories. I have no wish that my parents had recorded the bad memories too.

4. Do you go back and re-read your past parenting milestones? Do you realize you forgot a lot?

This is horribly unsentimental, but I mostly re-read to see what worked in writing terms. I haven't been posting for long, but I re-read some posts and find I'm pleased at how the crisp the memory feels. Other stories are muddy, and it makes me think of ways to improve future posts.

5. What about your children's friends/teachers/moms-of-friends? What if they found your blog? Do you tell your child not to tell anyone about it or are they free to talk about it? Do you worry their teachers or other parents will think it's weird?

My family, friends, dancers, and moms group know my blog address. Not everyone reads it, but I'm always tickled that some do. My colleagues at work know I blog, but no one has asked for the url. I'd probably give it out if asked, but I'm not volunteering. I think of my blog like a newspaper column, so I don't write what I wouldn't say in front of a crowd of people. I don't worry that people think that blogging is weird. We live in Silicon Valley, after all.

The blog has become a wonderful channel of communication with our families. Every morning, my parents get online and see what's new with us. Well, at least they read SwingDaddy's blog, since he chronicles Q in great detail! All of his grandparents get to see the latest pictures and hear the latest stories. My parents lived so far away from their folks when my sister and I were little, and long distance phone calls were pricey. It means a lot that we're getting to share Q's childhood with such immediacy, with blogs and video calls.

Wow, and this was going to be a short post tonight so that I could go to bed early.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Farewell, My Starfish Bathmat

I have a fondness for extremely cute plush sealife. Merely cute is not enough – we have very high standards for cuteness around here. So imagine my great joy when "Finding Nemo" hit the theaters in 2003. The Disney Store was just awash in fuzzy sea creatures!

SwingDaddy was tolerant of the new friends I brought home, but nowhere more so than for Peach, the starfish bathmat. On first glance, a starfish is a pretty good shape for a rug, since she's already mostly 2D. However, the first time you step out of the shower and try to maneuver over the starfish, you discover that you have to stand pigeon toed and end up dripping water all over the tile floor.

So, as charming as she is, Peach has never really been a good bathmat. We found a plain, cream-colored rectangular mat for the shower door, and Peach instead presents a cheery face when I get up and brush my teeth in the morning. Sadly, she's getting a little worn and frayed, and we'll probably have to send her to the big Bed, Bath and Beyond in the sky.

Happily, I'll still have these guys for company.

And especially this guy!

Octopus Q, Halloween 2005