Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Giraffic Park

Ready to try trick or treating.

Enjoying the loot!

(Thanks for picking out the costume, Ama.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's That Spell?

H-O-R-N spells "Clarinet." Why, you might ask?

I scored a free review copy of the PBS show Word World at BlogHer, and we finally got around to putting it in the DVD player. It's now the pre-bedtime favorite.

Mayberry described the premise in her ParentBloggers review, but in short, all the animals and many objects in Word World are drawn in the shapes of the letters in the words. Thus, a pie looks like this:

And after an episode all about how the chef makes P-I-Es, this is what SwingDaddy went to the store to get me:

One quibble though. There's a nice musical interlude where the characters play G-U-I-T-A-Rs and D-R-U-Ms. Q really loves this part.

The problem is that the little dude has ingested too much from his old Baby Einstein Orchestra DVD (God, this makes us sound like the worst, TV-bound parents ever), and insists that the H-O-R-N:

Is a Clarinet!

Which in all fairness, is right. It looks and sounds like a clarinet. It's somewhat disconcerting though, when you hear your child yelling "H – O – R – N spells Clarinet!" at the TV.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A First Report Card

Clever, clever preschool teachers. They sent as "assessment" home with Q today, which was a sheet of paper with a figurine drawn out of triangles. Each triangle was labeled with a skill area and colored for "trying," "age appropriate," or "excels."

It took a while for me to notice that the central part of the figure, which was made of non-assessment areas (joy, peace, harmony), was all filled with the "excels" color, making the parents immediately feel soothed. Good thinking, teachers!

Q did very well in the areas that we'd expect (concentration, sense of order, that type of thing) and is "trying" in the independence-type area. It's consistent with the observations we've had when we've seen him socialize with large groups, so we'll just keep giving him opportunities to warm up.

A few weeks ago, his teacher let us know that she heard him call out, "Hey, kick it to me!" to a classmate playing kickball, which was the first full sentence she'd heard him say. So, some progress there.

I was working from home this morning, so I heard him chanting, "I go to cool (school)! Where is snack bag?" in a happy, chirpy voice before he and Nanny J left the house. We're pretty happy with the school and their attention to each child, although we attended the most misleadingly-titled parent enrichment night last week. That's a different post.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ol' Iron Eyes in Toddler Form

We got Q's preschool pictures back and just about fell over laughing. The first photo showed him looking merely sad. Each subsequent image pictured a progressively unhappier child, so tolerant of these adult whims. The last shot, the dramatic finish, portrayed a noble, suffering child, with one perfect tear on his cheek. Such pathos.

SwingDaddy and I called Q over to look at them. "Dude! What's up with this?"

He just jumped up and down and giggled, saying, "Cry!"

Little drama king.

His teacher said that there was at least one child who wouldn't let the photographer take any pictures at all, so I guess we were lucky to find one neutral shot among the tragic ones. We ordered a few copies of the one print. I'm a veritable gold mine for any photographer who gets good images, so I'll wish him luck for the spring preschool shoot.

*Do you remember the Iron Eyes Cody advertising campaign from the 1970's? It showed an actor portraying a Native American surveying the polluted landscape, with one tear rolling down his face.

Without further ado, we have Rebel Without a Pacifier.

Are we done yet?

And Iron Eyes Q

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Perspective on Labor

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday, and my OB mentioned that she was scheduled to be induced to deliver her sixth child this weekend. "I'm really looking forward to lying down and having my epidural," she said.

I think it's a sign that you're way overworked, if you're looking forward to labor.

P.S. Swimmy obliged with a nice clear heartbeat, so that's going well too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Working on Those Communication Skills

In the last few weeks, Q has started telling us that he really wants things with an emphatic, "I NEED it!"

And now we've heard him figure out the Grand Slam of useful phrase combinations:

"I NEED it! You have to SHARE! It's my FAVORITE!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Gathering of Pumpkins

SwingDaddy and Q had a good time at the preschool "Dad's Day," complete with outdoor games and cookies. I'd been asked to come take pictures, so I got to see the festivities as well. Q and his little friend Fi spent quite a bit of time stacking pumpkins into a basket, and later he took pumpkin after pumpkin to his teacher for inspection. He's quite proud of the perfect one that he brought home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not Even Hugh Jackman Could Save This Show

When I saw the first commercial, I had high hopes for "Viva Laughlin." Hugh Jackman! Singing! Snazzy casino backdrops! A new TV show to love!

Sadly, it was pretty much a disaster.

There are few actors I admire as much as Hugh. He was fantastic in "The Boy from Oz" - a true dramatic actor, singer, dancer, entertainer. I actually stood outside the stage door on Broadway twice to see him sign autographs and then be whisked away by his driver. I think I was able to capture a blurry picture of the back of his head.

Side note: During intermission, I struck up a conversation with the two older ladies sitting nearby, and they expressed delight at Hugh's talent. They sincerely hoped he would be able to find work after the show closed, since his character was an extremely flamboyant gay man, and "you know, the fellow might get typecast."

I asked politely if they'd ever heard of the X-Men movies, and no, they hadn't. "I wouldn't worry about him," I replied.

Anyhow, the only thing I got out of the opening five minutes of "Viva Laughlin" was that Elvis Presley had a mighty fine voice, a voice to which the main character was sort of lip sync-ing. After that, we just skipped ahead to Hugh's song, which wasn't that earth shattering, and then we turned off the show. Even if the network hadn't canceled the program, my love of Wolverine wouldn't have been enough for a second episode.

A small consolation amusement: If any of you are Hugh Jackman fans, read the Fame Audit conducted by Television Without Pity.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Orange - Both Friendly and Scary

We had a lovely time at our playgroup Halloween party over the weekend. Q did his usual ShyBug act and didn't say much, but we noticed that when it came time to line up for little orange treats (festive pencils, stickers, glowsticks), he didn't hesitate to take his place.

Our hostess works in publishing, and she provided party favors in the form of colorful flashcards with activity ideas printed on the back. When we got home, Q pulled out the "D" card to place next to him drums and gave both the "G" card and the toy guitar to SwingDaddy.


Much scarier news is keeping us alert - orange flames covering thousands of acres. With many family and friends evacuated in Southern California, we can only hope the winds stop sooner than Thursday, which is when they're predicted to end. My parents are safe, but we have our fingers crossed for their house and my old high school.

Friday, October 19, 2007

They Were Small Ones, I Swear

Say you've been working at your laptop and taking conference calls from home all day, and you're not feeling well, in fact, you've been quite nauseated.

Then you eat five mellowcreme pumpkins. And you feel worse.

Can you still blame it on morning sickness? Or do you have to admit that you did something stupid?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Measure of Success

I have distant memories of a particular TV interview I saw as a teen. It was a comedian or actor, perhaps Tom Hanks.

Host: How has success changed you?

Star: You know when you buy a bag of pistachio nuts, there are always a few that are hard to get open?

Host: Yes?

Star: I don't worry about those anymore.

Sick, sick, sick today. One big blessing: During my pregnancy with Q, I fretted about whether having children was the right thing for us, for me. This time around, the little guy comes up and snuggles and asks for another story, and I know that it's the right thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Almost Wordless Wednesday

On the banks of the Vltava river in Prague in 2002. We've traveled on dance tours with dear friend Ara for over ten years now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Isn't Registering

Our community Activity Guide arrived a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled to see "Online Registration is Here!" on the cover page. At last, they were joining the twenty-first century, and I wouldn't need to fill out another paper form for Q's gymnastics class, dig out stamps and mail it in.

The headline was followed by the note, "See page 12 for more information." I should have recognized this as a warning.

On page twelve, the guidebook informed me that I would need a household number and password. To get my household number, I would need to download a form and fill it in. OK, not too bad. I read the next step.

Bring your completed form to the Community Center (Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm).

I have to go in person to drop off the form and show ID, in order to be able to register online. Right.

I'll certainly do that next time, but since it was too late for this round, I located instructions where I could fax in the form. At least we got to twentieth-century technology, if not quite the twenty-first.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Slow Return to Humanity, Plus Drumming

Hey, made it through the day again without puking! We must celebrate small victories.

I was really fortunate with my first pregnancy and was healthy enough to work fairly long hours at the office and keep teaching our dance troupe until the last month before Q was born. At the equivalent point to last weekend, I even performed a high-kicking Cabaret Charleston, which is pretty far from my ambitions this time around. I'm just happy to be strong enough to take Q on a jaunt to the grocery store tonight.

We were on our own, because SwingDaddy flew out this morning to join his dad for a roadtrip. After all the Q/Mama/Swimmy-care he's done these last weeks, it's a well deserved break. His stepmom, whom Q calls Grandma N, is arriving tomorrow to play and help out while I'm not in top shape. Thank God for grandparents! My folks have been here several times recently, filling our freezer with homecooked goodies, bringing new toys and "How to Use the Potty!" books to entertain Q.

Tonight, I'm looking at toy drums and drumsticks on Last Christmas, Macy's had a holiday percussion set, "$9.99 with purchase!" so I picked one up with the intention of giving it to Q. After I got it home, we weren't so certain that it was a good idea. Most of the items (kazoo, jingle bells, chimes) looked like a direct ticket to crazyland for us, even if it amused him, so I tucked it away.

Not long afterward, the little dude managed to shatter the two plastic baby bottles he'd been diligently pounding as drumsticks. He was so disappointed that I dug out the wooden toy drumsticks in the Christmas kit, and he went to town. Well, a few months later, he's battered them so badly that they're splintering. I unearthed another pair of the percussion items (pictured above) to tide him over until I figure out my next step.

The question is, do I get him the Parents Magazine Bee Bop Play and Learn that Rugger Mom and other friends have? Or just break down and order some real drumsticks?

The colorful, friendly-looking kit is clearly geared towards toddlers. At friends' houses, he hasn't shown much interest in the other instruments, although he might, given more opportunity. However, we have plenty of drums in the house already, and we really only need the sticks. Plus, the kit costs $39. Two pairs of real drumsticks are $10. I'm leaning towards ordering the real thing, even thought it's the first step down a slippery slope. (SwingDaddy wants to get an entire drum set, but I'm vetoing that until we're successful enough to have a house with a soundproof room.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Magic Closet to the Rescue

I loved all your dress advice – thank you! The idea of accessorizing an outfit differently is something that never occurred to me for my social life, even though I do that for my suits at work all the time. I'll get around to photographing more of my closet, and you'll understand why.

While I love the idea of the LBD (little black dress), I don't really have one. The dresses from my former life were all selected or designed to be, well, relentlessly memorable. They leave no room for accessories. They'd either detract from the outfit, get in the way, or be so negligible that no one would notice.

In my new life, I'm starting to acquire some simpler things that will benefit from accessories indeed, and I'm looking forward to trying out more scarves, necklaces, and such. I'll expect you'll be able to give me more good advice!

Here's the dress I was considering wearing.

Neckline detail.

I love this outfit, but I'm glad I found something simpler, since most people were more casually dressed. The magic closet came to the rescue again, and there I found a forgotten frock in eggplant purple, with slight 1950's styling (a great era for busty, petite gals).

Here's snap of SwingDaddy and me with our dance mentor at the reunion, someone who coached us from the beginning to become choreographers, instructors, and directors. Incidentally, he also performed our wedding ceremony!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nothing to Wear

It's Homecoming weekend at our alma mater this weekend, and while it's neither my nor SwingDaddy's reunion year, the dance troupe in which we met is having a get-together. So of course, the big question is:

What do I wear?

SwingDaddy says that it's pretty ludicrous for a woman with twelve feet of hanging closet space filled with costumes to say she has nothing to wear, but really. It's not like I can show up dressed in an orange-gold Harvest Queen gown with a 37-foot fluid hemline (yes, you may borrow it if you have an occasion where it would be suitable).

I need a fairly simple frock that's attractive and still fits. The fit part shouldn't be terrible, since the morning sickness hasn't allowed me to gain weight yet, but for comfort's sake, I'm not looking for anything too snug.

While browsing photos yesterday, I came across a picture from a party last November where I'm wearing an awesome dress my mom found for me. It's perfect, and I only wore it that one time. However, for some people, that party will have been the last time they've seen me. Does it matter? Should I wear it anyway?

Assuming Swimmy and I both fit inside, of course.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cirque du Soleil in Training

In a true lesson of "kids learn what you show them," SwingDaddy and Q watched a Cirque du Soleil DVD today, and now Q wants to put it into practice. He has pretty good balance, but more importantly, SwingDaddy notes that the little guy is about 90 pounds lighter than the acrobats with whom he learned the stunt, which makes it much easier. The other trick Q is requesting is "upside down hands," which we're interpreting as doing a handstand while balanced on top of SwingDaddy's hands, but we've pointed out that he's got to learn how to do a handstand first. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Being Brave

A few weekends ago, we attended a delightful party for a friend's three year old, complete with giant bouncy castle. Q has passed up the bounce house opportunity at a few parties now, so at a quiet moment, we brought him up to it to see if he was interested. He took off his shoes and was just about to crawl in, and then he turned away.

"No! No!"

I picked him up to get out of the way while a passel of little girls crawled out of the structure. He buried his head in my chest.

"Do you want to go in?"

He nodded his head, still refusing to look up. I asked a few times, to make sure he really wanted it. If he didn't want to go in, there was no need to go. However, if he really wanted to bounce and was too scared to cross the threshold, well, we can help with that. After he confirmed three times, I took off my shoes and crawled in myself, pulling him after me.

Big smile from the little dude. Immediate bouncing and laughter. He did it!

SwingDaddy went in to keep him company for a while too – look at those smiles.

Monday, October 08, 2007

In My Own Bed

Last week, I fell asleep during Q's pre-bedtime Little Einsteins episode. When I made my way over to his room and sat down on his couch for the bedtime story, he took my hand and led me away, saying, "In your own bed."

I sat on the other chair. He shook his head. "In your own bed, mama." He gave me a hug and offered his cheek for a kiss and sent me off to rest. 'Cuz mama was tired.

Like father, like son. I'm a lucky gal.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Like a Big Pizza Pie

Making his own pizza

Once you've licked a piece, it's yours dude. Don't put it back on the pizza.

Into the oven.

Waiting, waiting.


It would have been even better if I'd been able to keep my slice in my stomach, but that's how things are going these days, unfortunately. I've been reading your blogs faithfully and sincerely apologize for not commenting much right now. I'm hoping I'll be able to spend more hours awake and healthy soon. Have a great week!

P.S. I finally posted at The Full Mommy - links to yummy treats.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Hope for the Future

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of meeting several groups of students from the Society of Women Engineers. Some enterprising colleagues had arranged for them to tour our company, one group in Bay Area, and another in North Carolina. My product is particularly well suited to flashy demos, so I spent a few hours explaining what we do and taking questions.

I sat down with the team here, and when the video screen came to life, showing the students in other office, I was faced with a half dozen young African-American women, all computer science majors. I can't express how exciting this was! I don't think I've known six female African-American engineers in my entire career. Many of the women on the California side of the equation were also minorities, Asian- or South Asian-Americans, and all of the students were eager to hear about the technology.

Women have made great strides into fields such as medicine and law, but we're still lagging in numbers in engineering. With all of us getting more and more dependent on technology, it's critical us to grow in this area. Engineers and programmers are creating the tools that define so much of our interaction.

For example, if a 22 year old woman had created Facebook, do you think there would be so many contradictory "policies" in force? Perhaps, but it's just as likely that a young woman would have had a roommate with an eating disorder at some point in her life, or an older sister who breastfed, and would better understand the needs and issues of the female half of the population.

Help and encourage girls in your life to keep up their math skills, so that as many choices as possible are open to them. Our future depends on it. I know that I feel better about it, seeing all those students getting ready to take on the world.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Junior CSI

Too much work, feeling sick, looking forward to the weekend. SwingDaddy's doing all the heavy lifting around here, and Q is keeping a close eye on things.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

This Doesn't Make A Lot of Sense

It's a "buy one, get one free" special on a 300-count bottle of prenatal vitamins. Just how long were you expecting to be pregnant?

Updated: OK, it was pointed out to me that conscientious women start taking prenatal vitamins long before they become pregnant, so their bodies are all prepared. I'm a terrible pill-taker (trouble swallowing, don't laugh), so I'll admit to putting them off until after the fact.

And thanks to Kristen for making me sound more interesting and fun than I am, over at the Mom Trap!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Not a Word, but Plenty of Sweeping

As we pulled into our driveway after running an errand tonight, we realized that Q's incessant happy chatter had not paused for breath in about twenty minutes and had reached such an intense level that our ears fell off.

SwingDaddy turned to me and said, "Is this the same child whose preschool teacher wrote us a note saying that she hasn't heard him say one word out loud yet?"

Overall, he seems to be pretty happy at school (if quiet), learning to cut with scissors and new nursery rhymes. His teacher says that she's sure that he's start talking once he's more comfortable. We're not that worried about it, since we're familiar with his "warm up" period, but we started asking him what news he was going to give Teacher A at school tomorrow.

"Are you going to tell her about the cookie you had tonight?"
"Are you going to tell her about the bouncy house from the party this weekend?"
"Are you going to tell her about your new book?"
"No. Mop. Vacuum."
"You're going to tell her about the mop and vacuum the housecleaners used today."

The school posted some new pictures today, and among them was this one:

Nothing, if not consistent in his love of mops.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Frothing in Unison

A few days ago, I felt the onset of morning sickness and hustled over to the bathroom sink, trying to control my retching. I spat out a bunch of mucus (TMI, sorry), and Q came over to pat my leg, worriedly.

"I'm ok, sweetie."

He pulled a footstool over to the other sink, clambered on, and leaned over it, doing his best to spit into the sink. Of course, he can't really spit properly yet, so he was just sort of frothing and drooling, keeping Mama company.

This is a new skill of his that I could do without, but I appreciate the sentiment.

And we appreciate all your good wishes. Thanks!