Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stepping Through the Gate

We had a lovely family day, aside from referree-ing some intercousin squabbles over toys. Let’s just say that Q felt the need to defend his Mama’s slippers from Little Rugger’s inquiries, and we’re working on the sharing concept.

Q has a moment of reflection while washing Granddad’s car.

Still many more BlogHer stories to come, including my Mominatrix t-shirt and follow-up visits by the security guy. Those two items are unrelated, by the way.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I Guess You Have to be Canadian

The Bloggess (Jenny) and I found ourselves in a room of lovely partying Canadians Friday night, and Jana plied us with Canadian chocolate, something called Aero. The entire room started chanting the ad campaign, something to do with ‘tasting bubbles,’ and Kittenpie insisted we eat the chocolate immediately.

Never one to disagree with that kind of encouragement, I took a bite and was scolded all around for eating the chocolate incorrectly.

Sandra: “Don’t chew it! Wait for the bubbles! Take a new bite.”

Jenny and I each took another bite and held the chocolate in our mouths, waiting. “Do you taste the bubbles? Do you?” We looked at each other, frozen. Fortunately, everyone started staring at Jenny, and I was able to duck into the bathroom and not choke laughing while waiting for the chocolate to dissolve.

“Bubbles? Bubbles?” I started thinking of the zany tank fish who was obsessed with aquarium bubbles in “Finding Nemo.”

“Um, yeah, yes, bubbles!” said Jenny. The room cheered! Everyone returned to their drinks.

I sidled up to her. “WTF? I didn’t get any bubbles.”

“Either did I. Must only work for Canadians.”

Or maybe we just need to find a shipping source of Aero bars and practice eating chocolate until we get it right.

By the way, I can't remember the last time I attended a hotel room party that got a second warning from security, so thanks for the good time, ladies.

P.S. I got out of Chicago just fine, but SwingDaddy and Q were weather-delayed in Dallas overnight without their luggage or spare diapers. Yikes! Fortunately, they arrived safely at Rugger Mom’s place today, and we’re all happily reunited with lots of SwingDaddy’s family.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Japanese Fruit Friend and Pals

Japanese Fruit Friend, pictured with his little siblings, which were gifts to bloggy friends this weekend in the brocade bags. One of the highlights was meeting Jenny, craft heroine of ljcfyi, for whom I'd especially picked a pink momo.

Time to pack up and cross my fingers for travel out of Chicago. Stories, pictures, and reflections on BlogHer later in the week!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

First Time Ever

This afternoon, for the first time ever in my life, I asked a mom if I could hold her baby.

Before Q was born, I'd held a baby three times. My high school teacher's son once, and a dance friend's daughter twice. Since then, I've certainly held babies during playgroups, especially when another mom was trying to get a bite to eat or otherwise needed help.

What was different today? The young'un was cute, and I wanted a snuggle.

We might need a bigger house.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Portrait of a Young Singer-Songwriter with Tricycle

The little dude continues to find innovative uses for his tricycle. For a long time, he's rolled the trike on its side and played the wheels like a drum set. Now, he's using the handlebars as a microphone. Wock on!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Will, We Will Rock You

I was under this delusion that taking two days of vacation before BlogHer, would give me hours to compose thoughtful posts and catch up on my writing. Did it? Not a chance. Instead, I spent a couple of hours each day at work anyway, ran to the bank, picked up pre-school papers, got groceries, located new Where's Waldo books for Q, and had my eyebrows shaped. I've got cameras recharging all over the house, lists of to do's, and a couple of hours of the imploding Tour de France to skim before flying out tomorrow. Therefore, a brief post tonight.

Kristen, she of Motherhood Uncensored, the Mom Trap, Cool Mom Picks, Parent Bloggers Network, the Blog Exchange, and just about every other excellent blogging enterprise in our corner of the world has honored me with my very first blog award – I'm proud to be a Rockin' Blogger. In lieu of the insightful post reflecting on web awards a la BlogRhet, I'll just share my sincere appreciation. Thanks, Kristen!

P.S. JFF is in my suitcase. He's easy to spot, and here's a picture to help with IDs at BlogHer!


Updated: Credit to Oh The Joys for the rockin' button design.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Should I Bring JFF to BlogHer?

Japanese Fruit Friend isn't the most compact fellow, but he might make it easier for people to find me at BlogHer. I certainly have had the experience of peering at a person wondering if she's who I think she is, and JFF is highly visible. Should he come along? He's cheerful company.

In other news, I enjoyed the benefits of recycling today. I took six empty MAC makeup containers back to the store today and got a new free lipstick (color "Capricious") in exchange. Very cool. And I carried my re-usable Target shopping bag all day, refusing plastic bags left and right. It makes the post-errand putting-away so easy.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five New Uses for Your Mobile Phone

For everyone going to BlogHer or vacationing soon, here are a few travel tips.

1) Use the camera option of your mobile phone to take a picture of your hotel room number, so that you're not wandering the halls late at night, trying to figure out where you belong.

2) Take a picture of your luggage, in case it gets lost and you have to describe it.

3) Take a picture of your rental car so it'll be easier to find when you return to the parking lot.

4) Take a picture of your child in case you get separated and you're so panicked that you can't describe what he's wearing to the theme park officials.

5) Use the alarm setting as a backup to the hotel wake-up call.

Happy travels!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanks, Jo

Updated link.

It* was a fabulous read. One chapter before the end, I paused to have a snack, stretch, and reflect on the ending of an era. Almost nine years since I picked up a brightly colored copy of The Sorcerer's Stone from a small bookshop, I'm pleased that the story came to a satisfying close.

I would have read every word, even if Harry hadn't become worldwide phenomenon, but I also take pleasure in the fandom. There is something lovely about people gathered to buzz about something they love, something fun, something wonderful, instead of the latest war crisis or political scandal.

If you're wanting a bit more from J.K. Rowling, here** is an interview she did two summers ago for the launch of book 6. She invited the lead editors of her two favorite web fansites to come to her home in Edinburgh to talk Harry. The questions are fabulous, as you might expect from such devoted readers and writers.

*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for those of you who've been on Mars.

** Updated: The Leaky Cauldron is an easier site to read for the interview, but it seems to be going up and down, so here's a link for the MuggleNet site.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Where is My Copy?

It's 9:30am and my copy of Harry Potter hasn't arrived. Grrr.

Updated, 4pm: Check this out.
My copy of Harry Potter is AT THE POST OFFICE, ready to be picked up when they open on Monday.

What good is a guaranteed July 21 arrival-date from Amazon? Nothing. Morons. Or, using Mary P's recommended terminology allowable in front of toddlers, noodles.

Packages from Amazon usually get left on our doorstep. For Harry, I guess they made an exception, and you had to be at your door waiting for it. So I went and found a copy at the second store I tried. Enjoy the book, everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Me in 10 Seconds





wife, mother
reader, writer, photographer
dancer, choreographer, director
teacher, techie
lover, sleeper, breather


Mocha Momma came up with this super-quick meet & greet for folks going (and not going) to BlogHer. Instructions here, if you'd like to participate!

I read my blurb out loud, and it takes exactly ten seconds. I couldn't figure out how Mocha and others managed to get their longer posts in ten seconds, until I realized that there's no rule stipulating you can't read in your head . . . like you usually do with a blog. I've been busy writing copy to be read aloud lately at work, so that's probably why I automatically defaulted to that mode.

One year ago, I was honored to have written co-founder Elisa Camahort's favorite quote about BlogHer '06: Momma to LG, a teacher, said last week that her husband referred to BlogHer as her "geeky conference." In our intrinsically geeky household, it was considered my "girly conference."


I may not be able to generate her favorite '07 quote, but I'm excited to be going to BlogHer again, and I'll be wearing my blingy "M" necklace as easy identification. And braids, so that you can find me for ten points in the CoolMomPicks Photo Scavenger Hunt!

Pictures to Ponder: Seen on our walk yesterday, on the sidewalk in front of an office building parking lot.
And twenty feet later.
Hmmm. Ideas, anyone? Perhaps the view of the asphalt would be disrupted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Drunk Blogging Around Here

A couple weeks ago, Lindsay posted a public warning about the dangers of Drunk Blogging, having returned from an anniversary date with plenty on her mind. Since I'm not really a drinker, that's not a worry for me, but the effects of Exhaustion Blogging are the same. I got up this morning to see what I'd posted last night, because I was so tired I wasn't sure it was coherent. Luckily the post was ok. Not as witty as I'd like, but I (hopefully) hadn't inadvertently insulted anyone and there was some actual punctuation.

I swore I'd get to bed earlier today, but since I haven't, I'm going to do a mostly-picture post to stay out of trouble.

Let me introduce you the wonders of my newly cleaned-up sewing supplies. Years of leftover materials, put back in their tidy bins. It's heartwarming, for an organization-loving person. I have a lot more stuff than I though I did. Does anyone want a full bolt of peach-gold lamé? Maybe one of your daughters needs fairy wings or something.


Two weekends ago, I got out the serger and sewing machine and actually sewed something! I've really missed these projects since Q was born, but there's just nowhere in our house to set up the equipment and an array of sharp, dangerous tools.

I made a bunch of little gift bags, quick enough to make that I did it all in one night after Q went to sleep, while SwingDaddy and I watched recordings of the Tour de France. (The Momo Jam Bun pictured with the bags is just to add cuteness.)

All the fabric and ribbons were from scraps of previous projects, so it was an exercise in conservation too. Or so I tell myself. Mostly, it was fun to make something I can touch with my hands.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Exactly Are You Teaching My Child?

My sister confessed. She came up with the police car/train wreck storyline from yesterday's post about Q's latest toy activity. Apparently, they also played military relief convoy.

She said, "If he picks up the phrase, 'Here are the supplies for the Sudanese refugees,' you'll have to forgive me."

With Q learning to apply makeup and use a microphone from Lara and now how to deliver humanitarian aid, what are his parents teaching him? Well, let me tell you. After entirely too much Guitar Hero in this household, our two-year-old can sing:

1)"She's my Cherry Pie."

That's quality parenting, if I do say so myself. Other favorite tunes:

2) The opening of Surrender ("Mommy's al-wight, Daddy's al-wight")
3) "Shout at da Devil"
4) "Wock-ing on da Moon"
5) "Message in a Bottle"

Cherry Pie is the most alarming, because he can deliver several lines with gusto and headbanging. As an antidote, we went all-acapella today, featuring the Eensy Weensy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle.

For those of you looking for a complimentary activity to karaoke, bars all over the country are starting to host Guitar Hero Nights. Wock on!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ice Cream, the Answer to Everything








As you may recall, it's not uncommon for members of my family to be easily distracted by media and come away with the entirely "wrong" marketing message. The brain-on-drugs becoming "oooh, let's eat scrambled eggs!" saga comes to mind. I have a new one.

While watching the Tour de France and seeing members of Team Rabobank (orange) and Team T-Mobile (pink) riding at the lead of the race:

Lady M: Mmmm, I feel like having rainbow sherbet.
SwingDaddy: You've got to blog about this.



In other news, Q has a new game he plays with his train set. He attaches a long line of cars to the engine and pushes them around the floor peacefully for a while before knocking them over and crying, "Help, help, help!" Then he retrieves the police car from the toy basket and uses it to push the train cars back in line. "Thank you, police car!" The police car goes back into the basket. Repeat.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Never Know When Those Counting Skills Will Come In Handy

Last week, I answered the Eight Things meme and noticed that it was easy for me, in contrast to the two months it took to tackle the Ten Things meme. Odd? Well, it made me think of this story, from Q's birth. Flashback time.

A Story about Labor for Dancers and Musicians

During active labor, the delivery nurses have the husband or labor coach count to ten during each contraction. It helps the pregnant woman pace herself through the pushing and have a goal for each effort. If anyone else had been counting, I may have not been distracted, but SwingDaddy and I have taught dance together for a decade.

You’ve probably all heard musicians or dancers call a starting count, “5-6-7-8.” Most music is written in eight bar phrases, so a dancer just doesn't count to ten very often. So every time SwingDaddy got to eight, I was ready to stop pushing and rest before the next contraction. But there’d be two more counts – 9-10! Already weak and disoriented from the medications I'd been given that day to prevent complications from preeclampsia, it was impossible to concentrate.

I remembered back to the Victorian dance suite we’d performed years ago to the music of Brahms, where many of the pieces were phrased with ten measures, an unusual composition that was very odd to count out loud. I went through this entire explanation of why the ten-count wasn’t working for me, but apparently I did this all in my head. The only part I said out loud was “Like Brahms!”

SwingDaddy, bless him, actually figured out what I meant, interpreted it, and asked, “Do you want me to count to eight?”

“Yes!”

The nurses thought we were crazy, both that I had this weird idea, and that SwingDaddy understood me. Nevertheless, Q was born shortly afterwards.


Photo note: Notice the burp pad under Q in the first picture, at two weeks old. In this morning's photo, he's laying on two of those pads, and he's longer than both of them put together now! The little dude ate his whole sandwich and half of mine at lunch. He's probably going to be an inch taller tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Canadian Question, Harry P, Polka Dot Shoes

Question for my Canadian friends: To you, does “pouf” mean “having volume, being fluffy” or is it a slang term (possibly derogatory) for a gay man?

After I wrote the Big Poufy Victorian Dresses post, it occurred to me that someone British might be confused. I don’t think I have regular readers from the UK (aside from Ewe, but she’s lived all around the world, so she’d be familiar with the US usage), but I don’t know if the slang happens to carry over to Canada or not.

Related reflections: Not since I went to my first week-away-from-home Suzuki music camp in Kingston, Ontario when I was thirteen have I had so many Canadian friends. Thank you, blogosphere! I love hearing your perspectives and all about your year-long maternity leave. Someday, I’d love get back to Ontario and make a stop in Toronto Chinatown, where family friends used to pick up a special snack for me, one that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere since I was ten years old.


SwingDaddy and I went on a date last night! We went to see Harry Potter 5, which is the first movie I’ve seen in the theater since . . . um, Harry Potter 4. Yeah. Go us!

We really enjoyed the movie. It was my least favorite of the books, full of anger and a little rough around the edges, but the movie team did a good job bringing a story with a lot of internal turmoil into a visual medium. It’s also amazing to see how the child-now-teen actors have grown, both in craft and as people. I can’t wait to read #7, although I'm also dreading the end of a wonderful story.

I must admit to buying a pair of perfectly frivolous shoes. Black and white polka dots with red heels. For some people, this coloring might not go with anything, but for me, it matches my entire wardrobe!

I wore them to the Bastille Day Ball, where SwingDaddy and I taught French waltzes tonight, to match my red and black polka dot dress. Of course, there was also the choice of red and white polka dot dress, or black and white polka dot dress, but R&B seemed like the best fit for my mood.

Now I'm all set if I ever need heels to go with my bikini. I can't imagine an occasion where I'd need that, but it seems to happen to people in movies all the time. Thanks for playing witness to my loopiness, and to tpiglette for sending links to yet more polka dots.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Beyond Brooms

I've long documented Q's fascination with brooms and how any stick-like object gets treated as such. We've now advanced to other cleaning implements.

Q found SwingDaddy's old hobby horse (handmade by his mom and dad when he was little!) and was sweeping the kitchen floor diligently. Nanny J used an unfamiliar Chinese word for his actions, and I paused to watch.

The dude stuck the head of the horse in a bucket, pulled it up, wrung out the mane, and continued . . . mopping. He's way better at housekeeping than I am.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ralph Lauren, with Street Cred

A couple of weeks ago, we saw a Fergie/Ludaris duet on So You Think You Can Dance, and half their hip-hop backup crew, sturdy looking guys, were wearing pink polo shirts.

I’d bought a couple of cute BabyGap polo shirts on sale for Q, but I didn’t know that they were going to become edgy streetwear. Wanna see my crib, baby?
Keepin' it real with da dogs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Shocking Breech of Etiquette

This is not exactly a newsflash that matters to most people. However, I live in a weird, little corner of the world where the community knows about vintage manners and dress, and would be absolutely shocked to see such nonsense published in a quality, socially-redeeming magazine, like InStyle's July issue.

The issue features pictures and descriptions of a celebrity mother-daughter tea party and includes a blurb saying "(Actress Holly) Robinson Peete used the gloves at each place setting to give her daughter an etiquette lesson."

Even worse, there's an accompanying picture of two other little girls eating while wearing their gloves. Doesn't anyone know any better?
To paraphrase an old manners manual: To dance without gloves is as vulgar as eating while wearing them.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled life, with no further interruption by useless historical tidbits.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Guns on the Playground

You've probably seen the articles about parents valiantly trying to keep their kids from ever seeing a gun in the media.

"Our kids can't watch TV."
"We don't allow them to see any movies."
"We forbid violent play – no pirates, cowboys, or cops vs bad guys."
"No toy guns."

I agree that you should keep your child away from material inappropriate for their ages, but there is a certain amount of nature involved in play. There was one mom who realized that the "no toy guns or even construction paper cut-outs of guns" rule wasn't going to hold when her five-year-old son chewed a gun shape out of his peanut-butter sandwich and waved it at his three-year-old brother.

So imagine the worry I had when Q was playing in the garage and pulled out his dad's orange and purple SuperSoaker, a huge water G-U-N. What are we teaching him?

He pointed it at the hydrangea, pretended to squirt it, and watered each plant in turn down the garden.

Whew.

P.S. Thanks for your responses to my post yesterday. It was a record-setting comment day. Hugs!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Meme to End All Memes

At this point, I know there is at least one of my readers saying, "What the &*%^ is a meme?" and my shallow attempt at research reveals that Wikipedia's answer addresses the "cultural evolution and diffusion" theory and doesn't actually cover the current bloggy usage, which is "a set of questions with which a blogger 'tags' other bloggers to answer."

I've been blessed to be tagged lots lately, like a wall near graffiti artist headquarters. It's fun to join, so I thank all my taggers, but I am pathetically slow to respond, usually, from over-thinking the questions.

So today, I bring you the meme to end all memes, inspired by Bon, my meme hero. Her creativity in tackling the lists is remarkable. I remember in particular when she combined the "10 Things About You" and "What's In Your Refrigerator" memes to show ten things in her fridge.

(Note: Unrelated photos from my outing to the Farmer's Market with Q are strewn about to keep the interest of those less interested in text.)


First, up, "8 Things About Me" complete with Rules, tagged by Bubandpie. Eight items seemed a little random for an orderly mind, so I added an octave theme, to help me along (think "Do, A Deer" from "The Sound of Music." Do – re – mi – fa – so – la – ti – do).

Rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.


Here goes:

Dough – I bake a pretty good apple bread. It used to be fantastic, but somehow it's turned out dry in the last two bakings, so I have to do some investigating. Q still loves it though!

Ray(s of sunlight) – I used to buy one tube of sunscreen ever other summer, carefully write the date of purchase on it, and throw it away at expiration two years later, almost entirely unused. Yeah, because even though I live in California, I spent that much time inside. These days, we're going through sunblock by the gallon, taking Q for walks and splashing in fountains.

Me – I'm not entirely hopelessly self-centered, but pretty close. The blog probably doesn't help much.

Fa(r) – I was born in a small university town in New York State and our family moved far away to California right before I started high school. I was sad to leave my friends, but it was pretty cool to live in a place with 300+ sunny days a year, instead of the 64 (per year!) in my old hometown.

Sew – I'm really, really good at emergency costume repair. I've been known to bring threaded needles (white thread for the bride, and also the color of the bridesmaid dresses) to weddings of friends, just in case. Yes, I have been put to work fixing dresses on more than one such occasion.

La (la la) – I've played piano since I was four and also spent a couple years playing the cello in orchestras. I'm looking forward to having a piano in our house again.

Tea – Darn it, I already used my pearl milk tea story and I don't really have another one. Not much to say about golf tees or t-ball. How about T-shirts? I used to collect t-shirts from all the dance events we attended. I've pared way back though – closet space is too precious. My sister uses the old shirts to make hammocks for her pets now.

Dough, the other kind – I'm a believer in following your dreams, and figuring out how to do it in a fiscally responsible way.


So that's eight. I still need two more for "Ten Things About Me" from Smiling Mom. I was also tagged for the "Things I Love About Me" meme from Solo Mom, and I'm too self-conscious today to write much about that. So, to wrap up the super-meme, I'm going to list two things I love about myself.

1) I love that I like myself more and more, instead of bemoaning getting older. I think I'm smarter, more resourceful, and sexier than I was a year ago.

2) I love my determination. If I/we/my family/my team really wants something, it'll happen.

I'm going to tag:
YF
Momma to LG
K Goose's Mom
Lara
Jitta
Alyndabear
Karianna
Damsel

You get to pick which of the three memes you want to do and if you want to do them at all. Apologies if you've already done these and I'd forgotten! Of course, anyone who wants to self-tag is always welcome.

Hmmm, being able to combine memes efficiently really pleases me, as an industrial engineer. And I guess that's a bonus fact about me.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Recreational Drinking

I didn't use to be much of a recreational drinker. Liquids were to quench thirst (water) or provide heat (hot chocolate). I've never been a Starbucks junkie, a connoisseur of wine, or in need of drowning my sorrows in beer.

In the last couple of years though, I've become a fan of pearl milk teas. Also known as boba or bubble tea, they're a flavored Taiwanese drink with tapioca balls at the bottom, slurped through a wide straw. Entertainment and refreshment, all in one cup. My favorite flavor is red bean, and I enjoyed several during dance week while Q was not in the vicinity of the choking hazard that the tapioca balls must certainly be.

Darn - Should I have saved the favorite flavor fact for the "10 things about me" and "8 things about me" memes for which I'm collating tidbits?

And another side note – my mom asked me if I knew what 'boba' meant, and I said that I guessed it was some kind of slang term for bubbles. She said, "Uh, well, think of Pamela Anderson." Thanks, Mom.

Back to the drink topic now. SwingDaddy has convinced me that Icees and Slurpies are cool and refreshing too (and easier to come by, if you're not in California). Cheers!

P.S. Following up on the Star Spangled Banner topic from yesterday: Does it annoy anyone else that our national anthem is practically unsingable except by professionals? It's become an "event song" where pop stars show off and call attention to themselves, rather than to the song itself, the flag, or our country.

I tend to be fond of the more participatory anthems where everyone sings along without having to mouth the words when the range gets too high. Either that, or we need more vocal training for our grade schoolers.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oh Say Can You See

The habits of kids these days. This morning, I played some YouTube videos of the national anthem to entertain Q while SwingDaddy took a nap, and I taught him to put his right hand over his heart during the song. Yeah, well he does it, but his other hand is held in front of him, pretending to hold a microphone. Soooo close, but not quite the respect for our nation that I was going for.

We've had relaxing family time over the holiday – the zoo, BBQs with friends, long naps. It was hot enough that we came upon this squirrel sprawled in the shade, unwilling to move until we were within two feet of its paws.

Here are Q and SwingDaddy, admiring our friend's gorgeous Samoyed. Beautifully tempered dog, but I think she's had to remove all black items from her wardrobe. Either that, or keep a lint brush handy at all times.