Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And The Winner Is . . .

A Perfect Post – February 2007 Every month, Lucinda at Suburban Turmoil and MommaK at Petroville host the Perfect Post Awards, and this is the first anniversary of the project. Since the PPs started just before I began blogging, I've never known what this corner of the blogosphere was like before there was the opportunity to read wonderful, thought-provoking and/or hilarious work nominated by blogging peers. Thank you, Lucinda and MommaK!

For the month of February, I award Andrea of a garden of nna mmoy for her writing on Privacy. Ever since I ended up at her site via Bubandpie, I've been fascinated by what she has to say and the consistent quality of her writing. I wrote my own, somewhat less thrilling post on privacy, and expect to have more inspirations from her in the future.

Congratulations, Andrea!

Speaking of both Lucinda and awards, she wrote today about having a Proven Pelvis. That is, even though the ultra-sound for the soon-to-be-born Baby 2 shows that he'll be eight pounds and nine ounces, the doctors are not worried. She has a Proven Pelvis, having delivered an eight pound and fourteen ounce Baby 1.

If she does indeed create a Proven Pelvis Award, I am eagerly awaiting the little decorative button for my sidebar. Oh sure, you folks might have Perfect Post Awards, Thinking Blogger Awards, and Best of Blogs Awards, but I will be content with just a little bloggy bling for having delivered Q, almost two years ago. He was five pounds nine, but every bit as perfect as those bigger pals of his.

P.S. Is anyone else having comment weirdness with Blogger? I tried to leave comments for Mayberry and others tonight, but I get the text "Word Verification" instead of the actual squiggly word. Makes it hard to enter! Updated: This seems to be appearing correctly again. I'll catch back up with comments later today.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Which Mama Manages Not to be Embarrassed

Q was helping unload some groceries tonight, carrying small items from the bags and bringing them to me to put in the kitchen cabinets. He brought me the crackers ("Goal-fish crack-ahs!") and a can of soup ("oooh!"). Next, he found a package of uh, feminine hygiene, um, let's just come out and say maxi-pads even though it sounds hopelessly square, and took off, running down the hallway.

"Q? Where are you going?" Mystified, I followed him.

He had carried them to his room and carefully placed the pads on the low shelf where we keep his diapers. Very perceptive, kiddo.

In completely unrelated news, Lady O sent me an excellent link about the Order of Science Scouts, where instead of camping or fishing badges, you can show emblems for science/geeky skills.

For example, the "MacGyver" badge:

In which the recipient has demonstrated that his/her science communication prowess was handy in simplifying a potentially challenging scenario. For example, was able to escape from unjustified prison term, with the clever use of a paper clip and WD-40. You know, that kind of thing.

She said that I qualified for the "inordinately fond of invertebrate" badge. In which the recipient professes an arguably unhealthy affinity for things of this category.
I made a slight adjustment: Inordinately fond of cute plush invertebrates.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hey Dude, Why Don't You Pick Another One

Do want another mini orange, dear?

If you really want the lemon, you can have it. I don't think you're going like it though.

Q: Ewwwww!
He was willing to take an orange after that.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jump and Jump and Jump

You know that exhilaration you get in a really top-notch workout? I hadn't felt it long enough that I'd almost forgotten. SwingDaddy's bike race was postponed today due to the weather, so I was able to slip out to ballet class. Boy, was I glad I went.

I felt strong. I felt good. This teacher spends a lot of time on jumps and turns, and I can never get enough of either. The jump combination was sissone, faille, assemble, repeated across the floor and again in the other direction. Translated to English, it's basically jump and jump and jump and jump and jump. Wheee! I need to do this more.

The next excitement of the day was Q's much needed hair trim. After SwingDaddy and my haircuts yesterday, and he piped up on the drive home, "baby haircut?" It's the first time he's shown anything but grudging tolerance of the idea, so we immediately assured him that he could have one too.

He sat quietly on SwingDaddy's lap and didn't twitch too much while I wielded the clippers. The results are so-so. Let's just say that Mama has never been a beauty expert, but at least we can find his neck again.

Note: He's got a TOY knife in the picture while doing his best to peel a Clementine orange. I think he ate a grand total of five today.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Parenting, The South Park Way


If you have any worries about how to teach your children proper discipline, the "Tsst" episode of South Park will take all your worries away. SwingDaddy had the TV on while I was doing a little work the night before last, and we haven't laughed that hard in a long time. First, a little digression.

Mary P's wrote a post today that brought two topics to mind. One was her discussion of the word "ladylike," because I'd also used the word recently. She has some great thoughts about how it was meant to encourage girls to be tidy, pretty, and modest, but that she much prefers to be a woman, emphasizing self-ownership instead of fitting someone else's definition. Ladylike, or acting like a lady, is often about appearances to others.

In the mid-nineteenth century, when Queen Victoria was young, many aspects of moving like a lady in the ballroom were not so different from that of a gentleman. Both required graceful and light carriage, with years of dance training from childhood. Artwork from the era shows that the men also aspired to have hourglass figures, with gently sloping shoulders and nipped waists. Alas, social status and power was primarily owned by men, the Queen notwithstanding.

One of the aspects I enjoy about vintage dance is theatrically re-creating the beautiful things of ages past – the exquisite movement, fanciful clothes, good manners – while ignoring pretty much everything we don't like. I am the producer and co-director of our shows, instead of being subordinate to my husband. Men and women alike work out to maintain strength and athleticism. Knee braces are worn under the delicate petticoats where necessary. I like to think of it as the best way to be ladies. We get to be pretty, but we pull our weight, every ounce.

Mary P's main point was actually about being a "Strong Mommy," one with compassion and a backbone. It's an excellent post about how being a doormat for your children's needs isn't doing them any favors, and you can read it here.

And if it's been a tough day, you might want to watch the South Park episode as well (synopsis here). The mother of the bratty character Cartman despairs over her son's antics and invites Nanny 911 and Super Nanny to teach him to behave. Cartman defeats both of them, but is finally brought to obedience by the Dog Whisperer, who teaches his mom that she is the alpha dog in the house. Frighteningly offensive? Yes, and really, really funny, as is the way of South Park.

* Thanks to Solo Mom and Mary P for identifying my mystery word as "NOTwithstanding." Thank you, "nonewithstanding" was driving me nuts!

Friday, February 23, 2007

He Has a Future at the UN

Q has started translating for me. The other day, he handed me a bottle of lotion and asked, "Open!"

I paused while I thought about whether it would really be a good idea to give a toddler an open bottle of lotion (answer = NOT), and he interpreted the pause as my lack of comprehension. Mama is slow today.

He looked straight into my eyes very deliberately and said, "Kai" (open in Chinese) with exaggerated enunciation. Just in case Mama doesn’t understand English.

Thanks, little dude.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Little Closet Problem

This garment rack is filled with gowns and outfits that I haven't quite managed to fit into the costume closet. Check out the photo from this post here. In particular, check the date of the post. Yep, that was about eleven months ago, when I was talking about the same thing. I swear, I'll find a place for them this year.

I'm glad you liked the show pictures! I talked to SwingDaddy and we'll pick a dance video and get it posted at some point to share. Does anyone want to come over and help sort costumes in the meantime?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Backstage at the Ball

We have a troupe rule that our performers need to make eye contact with me by call time, so that I know everyone is here and getting ready for the show. All the dancers had checked in, except our one chronic late-timer, so I called his cell phone.

He answered, “Hi Lady M, I’m in the parking lot. The Hyatt, right?”

Yes, that would indeed be the place we’re performing. The same place we’ve had this gig every year for the last uncountable years. Lady O pointed out that it was better than him saying, “The Sheraton, right?”

I’d gotten one set of shirts for the girls, trendy black numbers with dangerous necklines from Target, but Costume Conspirator and I had found dressier shirts with a sparkly rhinestone band, and we decided to go with those instead. I was planning to return the first set, but the Lara and the girls liked them so much that most bought one from me to wear for their personal lives. I’ve never felt like I had a good grip on fashion, so it was pleasing to have picked well.

I enjoyed having a gig that didn’t require hauling big poufy petticoats and heavy garment bags, but the relatively simple outfits had a few issues too. For instance, the wigs are certainly attention getters, but we’re pretty glad to take them off when the dance is done. They make your head really hot and itchy. The necklaces posed more of a memory challenge. Costume Conspirator is notorious for forgetting things, so she wore hers all day, to make sure she’d have it at showtime.

Our next performance is likely to be vintage – Victorian era - so we’ll be back to being lady-like.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

No Pictures, No Comment

The little dude is shown here, refusing to kiss mama.

He made up for it later by telling me my dress was "pret-ty."

Note: For you observant grandparents: The mark on his hand in the top picture is a stamp (for completing gymnastics class), not a bruise.

Note 2: After I wrote yesterday's post and mentioned that everyone should know about DDR, I realized that it was a snippy thing to say. After all, if I'd been a parent for a couple of years longer, I'd probably have no idea. Sorry 'bout that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Guitar Mama

Over the weekend, we went over to Lady O and Cha's place for dinner and a few bouts of Guitar Hero. Have you heard of Guitar Hero? It's like Dance Dance Revolution, but for music. You see cues to favorite rock tunes on the TV screen and press keys on a "guitar" console to match them and strum. If you've never heard of Dance Dance Revolution, you need to get out a little more.

Apparently, a major league baseball star recently developed an arm strain injury, and it turned out it wasn't from baseball – it was from too much Guitar Hero!

Q was happy to hold the spare guitar for a while, and then he sat on SwingDaddy's lap, occasionally pitching in the extra keystroke. Later, Lady O and I collaborated on "Message in a Bottle," while Q sat on my lap, doing his best to "help." Let me tell you, two extra little hands make things a lot more challenging.

We just watched the movie Memento, which was impressive in its construction, even if we don't really know quite what happened. Leonard, the main character, has a memory problem, and the story is told in reverse. SwingDaddy pointed out that since I always like to know what's going to happen next, that should be a good setup for me. Leonard has tattooed the most important clues about his life on his skin, and carries around slips of paper and photographs to remind him of key people and events.

As I sat down to write tonight, I looked at the scribbled notes for blog post ideas and the pile of business cards, post-its, and snapshots, and wondered if I'm in the same shape as the protagonist. How's your memory doing?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

You Don't Need to Tell Me That I'm a Total Idiot

I had a really great post title for tonight, but due to circumstances you're about read, we will instead talk about the top three things you should NOT do when your sister is nice enough to make a casserole that will feed your family for most of the week.

3) Leave it in the car. (We didn't do that, so that was one test we managed to pass by many, many reminders to each other.)
2) Be so distracted with unloading the should-be-sleeping child and all the gear from the car that you put it in the oven without thinking about it.

And the number one thing you should not do when you get a gift casserole?
1) Leave the PLASTIC WRAP on the dish while it's baking.


And after that, I had to call her and get the recipe so I could make another one, since the food I was craving was now covered in a thin film of plastic. Yum.

By the way, Lady O - your baking dish is fine and the replacement meal is looking good. Sorry I managed to thwart your kind efforts.

Last week was really crazy for us at work. In an unusual reversal, I had a more flexible schedule, with fewer customer meetings and more document writing, and SwingDaddy had to go into the lab instead of being able to work from home. We were both racing the clock to get stuff done for the upcoming tradeshow, plus we had the dance gig, all in the same week. That's just how timing goes sometimes.

It worked out ok, and because I could get home earlier, I got a lot of mama-baby time with Q. A few tidbits:

While eating the first bites of his dinner: "Hot! Hot!" Then he corrected himself, "No, just warm." I guess he's heard me say that once or twice or a million times.

Handing me two pot lids: "Cymba!" I'm supposed to bang them together like cymbals. Meanwhile, he has a big pot over one arm, tapping out a quick-quick-slow rhythm and dancing what looks suspiciously like a samba.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Four Ponies and a Choo-Choo Train

Are you feeling the pressure to outshine your neighbors with a better birthday bash for your child? Time Magazine heralded the backlash against "out of control" parties for children recently, citing the Birthdays Without Pressure organization. Among many examples, they include a one year old’s party in a Minnesota community that had 60 guests and gift opening that took two hours. Hey, party poopers! We should cheer these extravagances – that one year old will be able to hold her head up high at the country club just as soon as she's old enough to walk.

After all, we just had a splendid birthday party for Q today, with four ponies (count 'em, one, two, three, four!), a cowboy, train rides, a petting zoo and our own bouncy castle!

Okay, we're not insane – really, calm down. We got together with ten other families from our original newborn Mommy Group and celebrated their birthdays all together. The oldest of the babies turned two last month, and Q is the youngest, with two weeks to go. It was good to see everyone under the blessings of sunshine, and admire how animated the little folks have gotten.

June 2005 (Q is on the right, in blue stripes. Photo courtesy of YF.)


Q was rode his pony quite happily, wearing the genuine cowboy vest that Nanny J brought him from Texas. The biggest pony fan had to have been K Goose, who barely left the animals long enough to eat cake.

Mmm, cake. (LG and Daddy to LG are sitting with us.)

Many thanks to D, who organized us and figured out that we could have a spectacular party for a very reasonable fee, divided eleven ways.

It's time for bed, so the dance gig stories will wait for another day. One thing last thing I have to say though: Britney, Britney, what are you doing?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sparkly Things

The V-necked costume shirts for our gig tonight were just begging for something sparkly, so I got these necklaces for the girls.

And this is how we looked tonight! More stories tomorrow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Suppose It Was Inevitable

Look Mama, I can turn off the lights!

What do you mean I'm not supposed to climb on the sofa?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lovely Loopy Letters

Image courtesy of the Jane Austen font widget that Doppelganger mentioned last week. You too can write like Jane! (In a manner of speaking.)

We received three "holiday" letters this week, the kind that usually arrive at Christmas and describe a year's worth of events. With fewer competing pieces of mail, it's a great time to savor updates from friends and family. Two of the letters included all kinds of pictures with accompanying stories.

The third was a printout of an email listing the different photos from over forty locations around the world where the couple had traveled this year, with a tentative plan on how to make them into a card. It was followed by a response from the author's wife, saying, "Let's just print this out and put it in an envelope."

Excellent plan.

Hope you had an excellent Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Something Silly, Something Serious

Subject line of an email I received today: "Yes, We are ALL from Japan!"

Yes, indeed, you are, and the distinct grammatical forms of the text as well as sheer kawaii (cuteness) of the photos certainly proved it. A while back, I purchased a set of phone charms in the shape of anthropomorphic Japanese snack foods, and I still receive occasional messages about the company's new products.

Public service announcement for anyone intolerant of cute: Go ahead and skip down to the second part of the post, which is about a harder-hitting topic – Privacy.

This morning's message featured the World's Largest Plush Japanese Sweet Bean Jam Bun. Introducing MomoChan.

Here's the accompanying text:
We really had had a hard time to release this momo-chan today. I (manager, Tomo) and Mr. Tamura, a well-known kawaii-pals' creator had talked over to make it have such a big but still-lovely shape. The biggest problem to send momo chan to overseas was the size, too much to ship out at reasonable price as everyone expectsed. He made a perfect prototype poured both all his imagination and his thorough cost-cut planning. Then, she was born under pretty fine and soft conditions!

These people are serious about cuteness! I really, really want to ask for this fuzzy pal for my Valentine's Day present, but I'm going to be restrained. We have way too many toys already, and I think she's so big that we'd have to get MomoChan her own bedroom. Here's a picture for scale:

Anyway, it's time to move to the serious topic.


Last summer, I responded to Miss Zoot's online Mommyblogging panel about what material bloggers choose to share, especially about their children. With my own paranoia and SwingDaddy's past work in technical security, it’s always been an interesting topic.

Karen Walrond of Chookoloonks discontinued her blog earlier this year when her daughter turned 3, to protect the growing Alex's privacy. Karen still has a lovely photo blog, although she's wondered whether the pictures of landscapes, household images, and occasionally her daughter are actually more revealing than the anecdotes of childhood were.

At what age we should stop putting up so many pictures of Q and logging his every step?

Dooce phrased it nicely at BlogHer last year – the first years are universal. Most children learn to sit up, eat solid foods, walk, talk. After that, they have unique stories and it's more important to protect privacy. She says she's started censoring, now that Leta is getting older.

Privacy is back on my mind today because Bubandpie's post today linked to a great blogger I've never read before, Andrea at a garden of nna mmoy. Andrea's main point is related to the disapproval mothers sometimes face for daring to receive acknowledgement for sharing their stories. She also discussed the generational divide about privacy.

The Millenials (sometimes called Generation Y) have never had privacy. A link to a New York Magazine article points out that their parents have never left them unsupervised for a moment, shepherding them from playdate to playdate, hovering over their schoolwork. If your email and purchasing records are stored forever, surveillance cameras cover the streets in your town, and phones are regularly tapped with or without warrants in the US, is there such a thing as privacy anymore?

So why not blog, post party pictures on MySpace, and spill your life online? Could it be that Q's generation will grow up accustomed to pulling up memories via computer searches? That they'll expect to find pictures of almost everything they've done as a matter of right?

As my and SwingDaddy's blogoversary nears, I'm re-evaluating how and what I want to post. I think that Q is still young enough to share many stories without invading his privacy, but as for how far into the next year that will hold true, who can tell? I will need to become more creative to continue the written and photo connections that I've enjoyed making with you, friends of the internet and real life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Fairy Tale Princess Hair

During an interminable meeting at work, I sat next to a woman with the most beautiful hair. I've admired it from afar in other meetings, but this time, we were there for three hours and I had plenty of time to discreetly observe. It was long and blond with perfectly shaped, tumbled curls like a princess from a fairy tale. If I'd seen it on a red carpet starlet, I would have assumed hours of hot rollers, hairspray and careful highlights.

I'm sure this lady did none of those. Judging by how she was dressed, with not a speck of makeup and wearing a comfortable sweater under a company logo vest, this is how her hair actually looks, without effort. So much of what is labeled beauty in our society is artificial, that it's breathtaking when you see the real thing.

By the way, she comes armed with formidable business and technical skills too, which is why it's fun to work with her, and not just her hair.

Hair's been on the brain lately, with the bright colored wigs we're preparing for the show. Three of my dancers had their hair cut short to donate to cancer patient wigs, and one of them has almost grown it long enough again to make a second donation. What a lovely thing to do!

Another friend told me later that she wished could do the same. Her hair grows very slowly these days. I pointed out that she had already donated her hair to cancer – the hard way. She's survived three times and thrived, thanks to good medicine, ruthless determination, and luck.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pop Culture and Fine Cuisine

Many years ago, my mother came upon an endless, rowdy line of people at the local mall. As she passed them, she noticed they were queued under a sign reading, "Police Tickets." Was traffic school becoming really popular?

The security guard put an end to the mystery. "Ma'am, The Police are a band."

My parents tell me that they lost a decade of pop culture while they were busy raising us. "How could I not know that there were FIVE sequels to the Planet of the Apes?" mom once found herself asking.

I'm wondering when I'll hit that disconnect point too. There's only so much longer that reading movie reviews instead of actually going to the theater and seeing them is going to keep me in the loop. On the other hand, I'm experiencing more important events, like today's mama-and-baby first. SwingDaddy convinced me that I needed to fill a gap in my culinary history. So Q and I ate our first corndog.

If you know me and say that I've had a corndog before in the past, I've clearly blocked it from my memory. It turned out ok though, since it was tastier than I though it would be, and Q chomped away, washing it down with big gulps of Jamba Juice.

Anyhow, I had kind of a theme going with the Police, so let me get back to that.

I have a hard time sitting through entertainment awards shows, because I can't tolerate acceptance speeches by people who need a script and director to sound coherent. I usually just pick up a fashion magazine later to see what everyone wore.

An exception tonight: The first few minutes of the Grammy Awards, since the Police opened the show! They sounded great. Lady O is talking about getting tickets if their (hopefully soon to be announced) tour comes nearby. The band had stopped recording by the time I started following rock, but Sting was my teenage idol, so I'm definitely familiar with the music. It would be cool to see them live.

As a promoter of all things cute, particularly anthropomorphic food, I had to share these fabric swatches from ljcfyi and Lucky Olive.

More cute: Visit Her Bad Mother to see the "unbearable cuteness of being" WonderBaby.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are We On the Same Page?

I finally caught up with my magazine reading. I've written before about my obsession with keeping up to date on a few selected periodicals, so you can understand how distressing it was to have a pile of eight Newsweeks, five Entertainment Weeklys, and two InStyles on my bedside, next to my unread books (Brainiac by Ken Jennings, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot, and a photography tutorial, among others).

I try to read Newsweek cover to cover, so that I have a reasonable grasp of current events. It's too easy to ignore topics on which I have no interest when I do my news scans on the web. Don't want to read about the war? Just don't click. Do want to know about the latest priest/Boy Scout Leader/Congressman scandal? Just don't click.

Once upon a time, most people watched the evening news with a choice of three channels. With the advent of hundred of cable channels, the audience is scattered, and what I see is not what you see. In fact, you can avoid the news altogether and watch an all-puppies, all-the-time show instead. How does a society make good decisions when its members aren't getting the same information?

One of my favorite books, Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, talks about increasingly balkanized knowledge. In this future world, everyone receives a customized digital edition of pop culture stories – not a lot more extreme than the web today – displaying just sports, or just fashion, nothing one doesn't want to see. However, the culture's New Victorians have a different view.

One of the insights of the Victorian Revival was that it was not necessarily a good thing for everyone to read a completely different newspaper in the morning; so the higher one rose in the society, the more similar one's Times became to one's peers'.

In a world where almost everything is compiled using nanotechnology and little is physically made, Stephenson describes a shocking fact.

The top stratum of [of the society] actually got the Times on paper, printed out by a big antique press that did a run of a hundred or so, every morning at three A.M.

I'm not solving the world's problems by any means, but at the very least, I know that the world has an inordinate curiosity about Anna Nicole Smith.


Our troupe is performing at a grand ball on Friday, bringing up the question, "What to wear?" I used to plan my outfit months in advance for this event, choosing fabrics and designs with my costumer. This year, not so much. I was feeling kinda frumpy, when I went "shopping" in my closet today and found a 1930's style gown that I haven't worn in years.

This ol' thing? It'll do.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ah, Maybe Tomorrow

So I had this interesting topic on shared knowledge in mind, but it required a quote from one of my favorite books, and I got out the book and started looking for it, and what do you know, I ended up reading a lot of it, and then it was time to sleep, and well, no post. How about a picture instead?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Acquiring Questionable Skills.

Dude, just because you've learned how to climb on top of the sofa doesn't mean that it's a good idea.

Q has also figured out that if he sticks his feet between the wooden slats of his crib, he can push the crib away from the wall. He takes great pleasure in this new skill.
On the right side of the top picture, you can just see the edge of two picture frames. Here's a closer view.

SwingDaddy and I flew to Austin a few years ago for the Ride for the Roses, a fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer survivorship. I volunteered for the event, he rode 100 miles, and we met a lot of great people who had also been affected by cancer in their lives.

SwingDaddy got to meet Lance, thank him for his inspirational work, and get these two jerseys signed. The framed photo is of Lance (left) and SwingDaddy riding together – they were talking about the not-yet-born Q right at the moment the picture was taken!