Monday, March 31, 2008

How You Can See My Fear of Commitment

I have a lot of blank, undecorated walls in this house, because what if I pick a wrong, ugly, unfortunate décor? This is a very specific fear. I have no qualms about designing or selecting elaborate ballgowns. Furniture is fine too. SwingDaddy and I can choose tile, tile trim, paint color, and fixtures for an entire bathroom over one lunch hour. But how should I decorate the boys' bedrooms?

Momma to LG painted this great graphic on her daughter's wall, but paint is so . . . permanent. (Yes, I know you can just paint over it, but bear with me for a moment.) So I found these cool wall decals on a site titled, "Blik. Wall graphics for the commitment phobic."

That completely describes me. I found an airplane and alphabet design that might work.

In fact, I thought I had ordered them, but as it turns out, even removable wall decals were too much of a commitment. Until today. Her Bad Mother and Sweetney launched their new shopping site, We Covet, and they linked to the mother of all wall decal posts on Real Simple. Through them, I found the perfect design for Q's wall.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

No Really, It's a Boy

We added a new book, Don't Eat the Babysitter! to Q's library this week. I saw it at the preschool book fair, and since it featured a family of sharks (the reigning favorite animal), it seemed like a good fit. Sammy Shark and his little sister Sophie are under the care of a patient little angelfish who does her best to teach him to control his biting problem. It's a cute story, but one that brought up an unexpected issue.

Sammy has a little sister.

And so does Brother Bear, from the Berenstain Bears, as well as many, many storybook characters where they've drawn a sibling of each gender to broaden the audience as much as possible.

The result? Q now thinks he's getting a little sister. "Little brother," I tell him.

"No, little sister," he replies calmly. It doesn't seem to particularly interest him that it's a girl versus boy, just that it's obvious that is what's coming, since we keep running across little sisters in stories.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Being Prepared, Plus Earth Hour

It's time for another quarterly emergency readiness check!

Sometimes emergency plans look so daunting that it's easier to do nothing. So, my goals are modest. I'm going to do a few small things each season to put us in better shape to handle an emergency.

I did indeed get around to building a cache of prescription medications, so that we finally have a two-week supply on hand, just in case pharmacies and transportation are disrupted. I've put a quarterly reminder in my calendar to keep it stocked. I also got a good enough sense of the local streets so that I have a few choices of route if there are road closures. I could do better on this task, but at least I have a basic idea of the new neighborhood.

The coming quarter's projects all revolve around stocking the house and especially both cars with newborn supplies – bottles of clean water and formula, in case I'm separated from the micro dude in an emergency and he gets hungry. Miniature diapers, spare onesies, receiving blankets, that kind of thing.

Call to action: Do one thing improve your emergency readiness. Buy a few cans of food (and have a can opener nearby). Store some extra water. Or get a crank-powered flashlight and radio.

We accidentally observed Earth Hour, due to Q's 8pm bedtime and SwingDaddy and me being exhausted – he's had crazy long hours at work, and I've had the usual. Back awake at 9pm to tackle work and household projects.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Sister is Totally a Hero

Yesterday, she gave birth to her first child, a nine and a half pound baby boy! Those of you who have met me in person know that I'm on the petite side of the scale, and I'd like to point out that I'm the "big one" in the family. The little guy is almost as large as she is! Many, many congratulations to Lady O, her husband, and son – a happy and healthy family.

As I sat with my parents in the hospital room, watching Lady O hold her baby, I patted my tummy and mused out loud about the future of our three boys (Q, Swimmy, and not-yet-blog-named nephew).

"They could be like the Jonas Brothers, the teen Disney band we saw on Dancing with the Stars. I'll bet they could earn us a fortune!"

My mom replied, "Oh boy, we can mis-manage their careers!"

"And when they go into rehab, we'll have to run their entertainment empires, just like Britney's dad."

Sadly, my family has all too realistic thoughts about childhood fame and we'll probably make them all study engineering and play rock band on the side. Or something.

Do you read Amalah? Her new preggo blog gets these great weekly illustrations by Secret Agent Josephine. The one above is my favorite, for Week 9.

SwingDaddy and I have been watching a lot of the Food Channel lately, so I especially enjoyed a post about her being a surprise judge for a Bobby Flay Throwdown, and also appreciated her expression of being excited about her coming baby, but not especially about being pregnant. You said it, lady.

If you are Secret Agent Josephine and you came here because I reposted your copyrighted picture, please accept my apologies – it was just so darn cute – and would you please respond to my email when you get back from vacation? I'm begging you to let me pay you to design a blog banner to replace that nice blank white space at the top of this page.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Must Remember This Moment

Both my children are sleeping quietly right now, a coincidence that may never happen again. Of course, it helps that Swimmy doesn't make any noise yet, but he's been pretty kicky at night.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Is This Child Doing?

Your child asks you to "play a game" with him and you go into the playroom to see what he wants to do. He's holding a remote control, and takes a couple of swings with it, making various wooshing noises. Then he hands you the remote and says, "your turn!" What is he doing?

I'm not certain, but I think he's pretending to play tennis on the Wii. Is that meta or what? He's pretending to play a game that in itself is a pretend game.

OK, counterpoint here: SwingDaddy says that he's seen Q do the same with a toy hammer, so the Wii connection is likely just fanciful imagination on my part. Q has really not seen the Wii a whole lot, particularly not the tennis game, but it was an entertaining thought.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pacific Gas and Egglectric Company

I've never been so happy to get an electric bill in my life. After some painful charges last cycle, we received the latest bill yesterday, and it was exactly what it cost to heat our old house – which was half the square footage of where we live now. Woo-hoo!

It's still a lot of money, because power is just plain pricey all over, but it's good to know that we're on the right track for improvements. The modern insulation and double-paned windows sure make a difference in holding in the heat.

While reading Chris' post about streamlining Easter gifts, it occurred to me that for once, I have a terrific story about modest spending. We re-used last year's Easter basket and recycled the eggs, filling them with crackers and sweets we already had in the house. Although I think it doesn't count as purposefully being thrifty and saving the planet if one is just planning poorly.

One last Easter-themed tidbit, brought to mind by Kimberly's post about some pretty fabulous baskets she put together for her daughters. Spring of my junior year at college, I received a care package from my parents. Eagerly opening the box, I found a computer disc. Hmmm. I inserted into my Mac Plus and peered into its tiny black and white screen.

Dad had created a layout of our house, complete with little furniture icons. I had to click through the house, moving furniture around until I found an egg icon behind a couch. I got to participate in the egg hunt even though I wasn't home any more! Mom had packed a big chocolate egg in the box, which I ate while working through engineering problem sets. That was a particularly special year.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lacking that Pastel Easter Dress Picture

This morning, we didn't quite get that perfect photo of a dressed-up child – pink dress and white gloves for a girl, sailor suit for a boy – carrying a impeccably styled Easter basket and reaching for a hand-dyed egg in the sunshine. That would have required us to convince Q to change out of his footie pajamas and have our act together a bit more. Easter came so early this year that we're barely past the birthday festivities, so we did a simple egg hunt at home.

Note to self for next year: Set ground rules clearly. Child should collect eggs and place into basket. Afterwards, child is allowed to consume some portion of the treats immediately, saving the rest for later.

The "saving for later" part was completely lost as Q gleefully opened each egg, announced its contents and stuffed his mouth. Thankfully, I'd filled half the eggs with goldfish crackers, but that still left him with a good handful of Dots (gumdrop-like candies).

Photo: Mama will have to plan better to obtain an artful photograph of handmade spring crafts some other time. For now, a shot of the eggshell wreckage will have to do.

We also spent some time working on the downstairs bedroom – converting it from Mr. Original Owner's office into a guest bedroom. The wooden rails on the wall were formerly used to mount innumerable bookshelves and desk units, and we'll need to take them down when we have more time. My folks will be the first visitors, since my sister is due with her first any day now. We're going to have quite the troupe of little boys around here!

Q is excited that all his grandparents are coming to visit this spring.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friends in High Places

We bought a new bed today, and it looked perfectly proportional in the store. At home, it feels very, very tall. Good thing I'm not claustrophobic, because the ceiling looks a lot closer. If I have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I think I might have to sleep the rest of the night on the floor. It'd be too risky to climb it without assistance.

Seriously, it's not that high, but I bought the last bed in the dark ages, before SwingDaddy and I were dating, and mattresses have taken a dramatic turn for the puffy since then.

We invited Q's little friend TayTay and her parents over for dinner tonight and had a splendid time. The kids decided they wanted to try to reach the chandelier, and Q brought out a few stepstools to help Tay in the attempt. After a while we convinced them that even if they were to find a ladder tall enough, it probably wasn't a good idea. Perhaps an art project instead?

Now I need to go wash out a bunch of plastic Easter eggs so we can fill them for tomorrow!

P.S. The quarterly emergency preparedness check will be later this week due to brain overflow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Looking Forward to Wearing These Again Someday

While walking from the lab with a co-worker, she asked about maternity clothes and such. “Did you have to give up cute shoes?” she said, eyeing my battered sneaker-clogs.

Well, I never really had cute shoes to begin with, so it wasn’t much of a preggo sacrifice. The exception? Splurges on dance shoes, like the pair above that match my ombre pink 1930’s gown.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Lord, Product Names for Anti-Pee Tools

I don't remember this variety of pee-spillage prevention equipment from Q's babyhood. You're supposed to place the items on the boy parts to keep from getting squirted during diaper changes.

Introducing the Peepee Teepee for the Sprinkling Weewee:
And the Weeblock Tinkle Tinkle Lil' Star:
I cannot think about purchasing said devices without totally cracking up. That being said, if you've heard about them being useful, let me know!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Toy Stories

For years, Q has played with these stacking cups, a former toy of SwingDaddy’s younger brother. I found the four smallest cups in a dresser last weekend, stashed away as potential choking hazards, and we handed them over, figuring that if Q doesn’t get a chance to play with them now, he’ll have to wait until Swimmy is old enough to not put them in his mouth.

The little dude was delighted to see more cups, but what was the very first thing he did? Put one in his mouth. Great.

My parents brought some of my old toys on their last trip, including these Tipovers, which are superior to dominos for making patterns to trigger and tip. So much fun and so many memories! Q was fairly patient in letting me set up rows and waiting for the OK sign to knock them down, but I had to wait for his bedtime before I got to make any fancier patterns.

Q’s been loving the Twilight Turtle from SwingDaddy’s folks. It’s a plush creature with a hard shell that projects “stars” of varying colors on the ceiling of his darkened bedroom. He’s named it George, after a mail-deliverng turtle character from the Koala Brothers show. It’s the first time he’s so distinctly given a name to a toy.

The planetarium effect automatically turns off after half an hour, so that it functions as a night light without wasting batteries all night long. The first evening that Q went to sleep with George, I was reading in bed when I heard small footsteps approach. Q held the turtle out with both hands, disgruntled expression on his face. “It turned off.”

I had to explain that we could turn him on for one more round, but George needed to rest too.

He’s taken to calling another plush turtle toy “Baby George” and giving it turtle-back rides on the bigger fellow. I tried to take a picture of him holding the Georges, but he was only interested in his own photography, so this was the closest I could get.

George and Baby George, photo by Q.

Last night, when I put him to bed, he tucked George under his arm and turned on the star switch. I paused for a moment to look at my baby, pale blue stars glowing on his cheeks. Love you, sweetie.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Prom Dress Revisted

Metallic purple Gunne Sax, now hanging in my costume closet. Check out the perm plus curling iron work!

Inspired by Christina's prom post and picture. Do tell . . . what did you wear?

P.S. I asked Q whether he had searched for a leprechaun at school today, and he said they had indeed. They didn't catch the actual leprechaun, but he'd left his hat behind and the children found the hat. I am inordinately excited to get a coherent report of school activities from the little dude!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Still Getting Ahold of This Preschool Thing

So we're supposed to dress our kids in green in honor of St. Patrick's Day, and Q has no green clothes. Plenty of red, plenty of blue – we could be Bloods or Crips, I suppose - but we can't pass for Irish. Now that he's decided green is his favorite color, I'll pick his summer clothes accordingly, but too late to look like a good parent for St. P's.

The closest thing he has is a camouflage-patterned shirt. I'm not crazy about little boys wearing camo, but since they're going to try to catch a leprechaun in class tomorrow, maybe it'll be suitable after all, as hunting attire.

I love the weekly emails from Q's teacher, reporting class activities and the agenda for the following lessons. They've proven somewhat less useful than expect in eliciting information from Q himself though.

"Did you count mittens today?" I say, reading from the calendar.
"Did you draw shapes?"
"Did you sing about snowmen?"

Oh boy! He actually admitted that he did an activity that was in the calendar, a rarity. I see that the title of the song was "Five Little Snowmen," so I ask, "How many snowmen were in the song?"

"Are you sure?"
"Just four snowmen, not five?"
"Yep, four."

Sometimes I think knowing just a little bit about class is more dangerous than knowing nothing at all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Better than a Trip to Seattle

There is little that I miss about business travel. I used to be on the road at least once or twice per month and learned quickly that a conference room in any city is pretty much the same as a conference room at home. Since I moved to the new business unit last year and so much of our "remote" work is done via video, I've only traveled twice. With a toddler at home and another on the way, the only part of my former frequent flyer life that leaves me wistful were the repeat visits to New York City. I took advantage of every spare minute to see musical theatre, even lining up the most-likely-to-be-canceled meetings on Wednesday afternoon, so that if they fell through, I could hit a matinee.

This morning, I ran across one other thing that I missed. The bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a bagel sandwich from the D Concourse of the Seattle airport. Mmmmmm. I think they were also especially tasty because I'd get my hands on one at the point of absolute exhaustion after a long day of meetings. Then I'd settle at the gate, doing my best to balance sandwich, drink, and laptop on the narrow plastic armrests of the institutional seating while waiting for the inevitable flight delay announcement.

Fortunately this is a much easier craving to remedy than trips to New York, and I found a local deli that made me a nice bagel BLT for only three dollars. Much better than airport pricing, and certainly much better than being in an airport.

Photo credit: The Passionate Cook. Note that my BLT does not include sesame seeds or cream cheese – just BLT and a little bit of mayo.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Very Focused

Nine companionable three year olds, intently examining a birthday cake.

Photo credit: Andrew's Mommy

A goofy moment today: Looking forward to changing into comfy pants after a long day at work . . . and realizing that I'm already wearing the comfy pants. Darn.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Suppose It was Too Good to be True

The week after we moved into our house, Q and I walked down the street and dropped our photo Christmas card in our immediate neighbors' mailboxes, stopping to introduce ourselves to the family or two that happened to be home. A few days later, the teenage daughters of one family made a return visit with homemade cookies, to welcome us to the neighborhood. How kind!

I also thought that it might have been a clever way of announcing they were available as babysitters. I had high hopes, and left a phone message for them several weeks ago, asking if one or the other could watch Q for an evening. Their father called back, saying that they were out of the country visiting family, but said that they did indeed babysit. Hooray! Babysitters within walking distance!

Not so fast. I called tonight to see if I could line something up for the weekend, but it turns out that they go to college forty miles away and don't live at home anymore. It might have been my poor phrasing or a language miscommunication from our first conversation, but I apologized for disturbing them and sighed. I guess we're going to keep doing pick up/drop offs for a while, or wait for the middle school-aged girl next door to grow up instead.

Totally unrelated thought, brought to mind by all the headlines from American Idol: Even though I don't watch the series, I could totally tell in past seasons when a contestant was going to get voted off. My parents would choose his/her song to leave the room to change Q's diaper.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's a Good Thing I Don't Believe In the Alien Invasion Anymore

I was probably not the only first-time expectant moms who was pretty freaked out by what felt like a foreign thing growing inside me, one with its own movement, preferences, and agenda. I imagined him bursting out of my chest, like the Alien movies, and got progressively more stressed. Fortunately, I came across this article, which cheered me immensely.

Sports Illustrated featured Cornelia Pfohl, a German archer in the Olympics (this was back in 2004), who competed while seven months pregnant. World class at seven months pregnant! She was quoted as saying that she was accustomed to "carrying a teammate," since she'd been pregnant with a daughter when she won a medal in the 2000 Olympics.

A nickname was born. We called the fellow in my belly, "Teammate," which had a nice, friendly sound to it. My little pal. Not an alien. And now he's our energetic Q.

While doing a web search to find the original article, I found another piece on Ms. Pfohl, which talks a bit more about her thoughts. She explained that she was perfectly healthy and the baby kicking wasn't affecting her shooting.

I've got a slightly better grip on motherhood this time around, so Swimmy has always felt like a happy presence. Good thing too, because he's working up an elaborate kung fu sequence in my abdomen right now.


Product placement: I wrote about Mabel's Labels the other day at The Full Mommy. They're a great way to tag shoes, coats, snack containers, and such that could get lost at school. A Mabel's Labels agent saw the post and offered a 10% discount in case you're interested. (I'm not affiliated with the company and didn't receive free product – I just like 'em!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils

Let's say hypothetically that you are eight months pregnant and presenting a project proposal to a large meeting that includes the vice president and all the directors of your business unit and the participants start diving down rat-hole subjects where you need to answer off-topic questions while other colleagues are starting to dig into the pizza being served on the side of the meeting room since it's well into lunch time. Would it be worse to:

A) Tell your whole chain of command that they need to wrap things up and make a decision, or else you're going to bite somebody's head off.
Or, B) Actually bite somebody's head off.

Fortunately, a kind female teammate brought me a plate of food and we managed to get the proposal approved with everyone's limbs intact.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Hips Stopped Working Again

Darn it.

And in other news, I was going stir-crazy tonight and realized that I hadn't been out of the house in 48 hours. Fortunately, SwingDaddy sent me to Target where I spent a happy 45 minutes browsing the aisles, returning with diapers, tissues, thank you cards, and (embarrassed smirk) the soundtrack to High School Musical 2, on sale.

I have ten dollars left on an iTunes gift card which I've earmarked for guilty pleasure music, like old boy band tunes, but I can't currently use it, because I need to upgrade iTunes before it'll let me download any more music. And I can't upgrade iTunes until we upgrade my operating system. And we can't upgrade my operating system until I get all my archived email from AOL over to something readable by gmail. Which takes time we don't have right now. So having been at this impasse for a couple of months, I bought the soundtrack anyway, despite not being able to hide the physical evidence of a tweeny-bop CD case, the way you can with iTunes.

I was totally unsuccessful getting Q to nap this afternoon, although he did crawl over to me and kiss my cheek several times, unsolicited, which made the whole attempt worthwhile. After an hour, I gave up, and we curled up together on the couch, watching another segment of HSM2. We're both a little impatient with the dialogue sections, but there's lots of dancing to enjoy.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

And the Party Rocks On

If I'd written this post yesterday, it would have been titled, "Someone Please Tell Me This Looks Like a Guitar," but it passed muster with Q this morning. He pointed out that it was a "coustic guitar" and he'd prefer an electric guitar, but I let him know that my skill with gumdrop decoration was somewhat limited and he would have to settle for what I was able to design.

We had eight of Q's playgroup pals and their parents over this morning for a birthday playdate and had a blast! There's nothing quite like seeing a passel of three year olds playing Rock Band.

This is a form of non-violent piñata to which we've just been introduced. There are ribbons attached to the creature, and a trap door opens when the children pull out the ribbons, scattering the toys and candy to the floor. What a super idea! Much better than giving a big stick to preschoolers.

I'd come up with a craft, making picture frames with the foam stickers that were such a hit from the last party, but didn't have time to print pictures of the kids in advance. It turned out to be ok, because between the toy guitars, piñata, and the tunnel/tent city, everyone was pretty busy anyway.

Q was shy at first, as he usually is, but brightened up when we started the music. He was pleased to hand out instruments to his friends and was eager to eat cake. We've known all these munchkins since they were a few weeks old (back when I called it Mommy Group, because the babies certainly weren't playing with each other then), and I can't believe what articulate little people they've become already.

One last image – Q riding the bull (piñata) after carefully checking that there are no longer any chocolates inside.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's a Self-Defense Device and a Hair Removal System

While running errands last weekend, I saw this display:

I wondered aloud if it was the new pink Taser.

Nope, it's an "exclusive next generation hair removal system" which is going to change "the shaving routines of women around the world."

I don't know about you, but I would find it kind of alarming to use a tool called "No! No!"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Birthdays, Boys and Blogs

Hi, little dude. You turned three years old today, and your dad and I are so proud of your loving heart and huggable self.

Three years ago, I could not have imagined how a child would change every aspect of my life, and we're on the cusp of another enormous step. I hope we're among the folks who say, "Your old life already got trashed with the first baby, so the second one is a piece of cake" instead of the others who say, "Two is sooooooo hard." The one thing that I do know is that there is so much love, from us to him, from him to us, all the doting grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, that I couldn't be happier to be part of this family.

Q got to wear the birthday crown and cape at preschool today, and we'd been told we could bring a story, song, or dance for him to share with the children. I was disproportionately stressed about what to select and what favors to pack for the children, but all turned out well. Given the choice of his favorite tune from Riverdance, Hakuna Matata from The Lion King, or any other music, he insisted on bringing "Here It Goes Again" by Ok Go. He totally made the right choice, because it was an upbeat tempo to which the kids could bop along.

Happy Birthday, my beloved little boy.

And it also happens to by SwingDaddy and my second blog birthdays too! 675 posts so far.