Sunday, August 31, 2008

Able To Slurp Independently

After Q-ster’s long (well, five day) trip away last week, I wanted a boy & mommy outing this weekend, where we could hang out without being interrupted a hungry baby. After a 3am feeding when said baby was unwilling to return to sleep, I googled a few likely places and picked one that boasted its existence as California’s only horticultural theme park. Right. I didn’t read the website too carefully, but it looked like there were a few rides situated around an original park of unusual “circus” trees, and I figured we could get a couple hours of fun.

Q-ster and packed our sunscreen and water, turned on the tunes, and drove off, waving to SwingDaddy and Buster, who apparently had a happy, if drooly day. The park was quite a bit more elaborate than expected and was priced accordingly. $42 admission for adults! Fortunately, they were running a promotion that converted our day tickets to a season pass, so we can go back for free during the next three months.

The little dude was game for all kinds of things. First, we rode a strawberry.
That led to a more adventurous “hot air balloon.” I didn’t notice that someone (ahem) was playing with my camera and left it among the stuffed animals on his bed, so we only have a few blurry cameraphone shots and the park promotional photos.

Q-ster really wanted to try out the paddleboats, enticed by their duck and swan shapes. I eyed the hour-long line, noted that he’d probably need to use the bathroom before we got to the front and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet, that paddling on a hot day on a lake might not lead to the best of moods for either of us, and was relieved that he was willing to be tempted away by the offer of a cherry ICEE and a ride on a (self-propelled) garden boat instead.

Shortly after, we found the best ride of all. Cars! Q-ster was delighted to “drive” the 1920’s car and we returned to try out the 1950’s side of the attraction. The track was charmingly surrounded by period props (20’s in one direction and 50’s in the other, to match the cars), and it made my heart happy to see my little boy grin and spin the wheel.

Even if our next trip to the park is spent entirely at the car track, it’ll be worth coming back. They have a lot to offer young children, and I was amused to see their complicated chart of who is eligible for which rides.

We enjoyed several rides where the criteria included the ability to “Sit Independently.” Indeed, a place geared for little ones. I thought that was the youngest range of rides, but no, there was also “Able to sit if supported by chaperone.”

When we boarded the garden boat earlier, I noticed a sign that said, “This ride is not intended for infants,” and thought, “well, duh. What rides are?” Later, I found out that they did indeed have rides marked “Infant OK.”

After slurping down a big ol’ soft serve ice cream cone and driving a roadster around the track one more time, we headed for the car, hand in hand.

“Mama, that was fun.”

Yes, it was, my love.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Stakes are Raised

A visit to the dentist the week reminded me of Q-ster’s last doctor’s appointment. He sat patiently for his vaccination shot and sniffled just a little afterwards, reminded by the nurse that he would receive a prize for his efforts. She brought out a box of stickers and he selected one featuring a fire truck.

Thankfully, she’d already turned to put it away when the dude lifted the sticker to eye level and glanced at SwingDaddy and me to say, “THIS is the treat?” in a tone dripping with disdain. “No cookie?”

Our eyes met and we hustled him out of the office, embarrassed to think that perhaps we indulge him a bit too often, and that yeah, we’d like to get a cookie for our shots too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

The micro dude has mastered rolling. Back to front pretty regularly, and occasionally the other direction. I can see him calculating . . . "If I want to be able to do head spins by age three, I've got to get going on these skills now!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Who Needs Gravity?

My college reunion is coming up in October, and what are my plans for the class year party? Cutting out and heading across the bay to see the America’s Best Dance Crew concert instead! Yes, it’s the second dance reality show performance we’re going to see this autumn. So sue me.

When I heard the Jabbawockeez were coming to town, I thought about how thrilled Q-ster would be to see them. However, it’s a notable drive to the concert hall, the show starts half an hour before bedtime, and it’d be a large crowded venue of mostly adults. In case he’s uncomfortable or unhappy, it’s a long trek home with a lot of wasted ticket money. We should keep taking him to live shows that are local, less expensive, and earlier in the day until he’s a bit older, I wisely and sadly decided.

Tick, tick. Hey, just he’s too young doesn’t mean that we can’t go! Fingers crossed for babysitting, but SwingDaddy have good seats to see our favorite b-boys – the Jabbawockeez and the newly crowned Season 2 winners, Super Cr3w. I’m going to have to practice making their handsign so that I can display my devotion appropriately. (The spaces between their fingers make an “S” – quite clever.)

In the photo at the top of this post, SwingDaddy is doing a dive roll while OceanBoy is doing a simultaneous dive roll above him. It was one of my favorite moves from a lindy hop/martial arts number we did a couple of years ago. SuperCr3w finished their competition with something far wilder: One of their boys did a jump roll over THREE other b-boys.

Can’t wait to see them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Second Child Syndrome

They say that the second child doesn’t get as many photos. That’s not the case around here, because I have a better camera now than when Q-ster was a baby. However, Buster definitely gets less ‘cognitive stimulation exercises’ and such, because we’re just trying to make sure than his big brother doesn’t do a somersault and land on him.

While SwingDaddy and Q-ster have been away, it’s been baby bonding time all weekend. We cuddled, we giggled, we were darn obnoxiously cute. I thought two seconds about Baby Einsten type flashcards, but passed it up for a mommy-baby joint nap instead. (Although the micro dude doesn’t really nap much. Two twenty-minute naps between 8am and 5pm? Some adults need more than that.)

I did play him some Mozart to make up for some of my slackerness though. Do the Competimommies award you more points if the music is live? Haha.

I also finally had the time to work on his blanket. I know that you can’t dictate what a child will pick as his lovey/security item, but one can certainly try to influence it in a small, washable, duplicatable form factor. The teacher to our Moms Group said that her daughter became attached to a full size quilt, which meant that it came with them whenever they traveled, even though it took half a suitcase on its own. She suggested providing our babies with a selection of smaller items and hoping for the best.

When Q-ster was a baby, I bought two soft blankets and cut them in half to make them baby-safe, which also provided plenty of spares. It took, and Blankie has been a night-time companion ever since. In the hopes that Buster will like the same, I bought two (sealife themed!) blankets last winter, and they’ve been waiting for cutting and hemming for months.

(For those who don’t have young children: The current safety trend in parenting is to not give blankets to babies in order to reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome due to suffocation or poor air circulation. They’re supposed to sleep in little zip-up sacks or sleepers until they get bigger.)
I set up the serger and sewing machine for the first time since we moved and got the octopus blankets all ready. The light blue hem on the left is mine – not totally straight, but close enough. One side of the blanket is blue and the other is covered with little sea friends.

So far, so good.

These blankets had me thinking about Q-ster’s baby Halloween costume (an octopus, of course), and how Buster can probably wear it this year. That would mean we’d have a small Sith lord and cephalopod to take trick or treating. We’ll have to make sure that the octy doesn’t lose any limbs to a light saber.

In the tradition of semi random tags: Did you ever watch the scene in Star Wars II (Attack of the Clones) where Obi-wan and Yoda are in the training room with the children practicing with their light sabers and think that it seems like a very dangerous idea to practice light saber technique in a whole room full of novices?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

There Goes My Heart

Or two-thirds of it, at any rate.

I took SwingDaddy and Q-ster at the airport yesterday to embark on a grandparent visit. I did not expect to feel this bereft.

The little dude know his lines well already.

Me: Oh boy, you’re going to ride a plane.
Q: Two planes!
Me: Have a good time!
Q: I’ll miss you mommy.

Awww. And then he adds comfortingly, “But you’ll be ok with Nanny.”

I sent him a letter to receive at his grandparents’ house, and he promised to write me back. Any stalkers who plan to locate me by the amateurishly tended rosebushes while the big boys are away should be warned that our house is still well occupied, including two Doberman pinchers and a pit bull, collectively known as Cerberus.

The micro dude has stepped up to the plate and kept me fully occupied so far. He’s working on his grins.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Driving from the Back Seat, in a Five-Point Harness

Since we’re starting to look into what kind of seat to get for Q-ster when Buster gets big enough to move from the infant carrier into a seat, my sister forwarded a review of the Britax Frontier from the always awesome Z Recommends. The trend is to make seats that continue to protect children at larger and older ranges, but this is getting crazy. In its ‘booster’ form the Frontier can handle a child up to 100 lbs and 60”.

Dude, I was 102 lbs and 61” when I got my driver’s license.

(Disclosure – I’m a little taller and a lot heavier now.) Laws are changing to require booster seats longer too. Do you suppose you have to drive from the back seat if you have your license but aren’t heavy enough to get to sit in the front?

All kidding aside, this is a good time to be seeing these reviews. We currently have three Britex Roundabouts (my car, SwingDaddy’s car, Nanny J’s car) and it’s been worth every penny of the price to not have to move the seats from car to car. One of our savvy mom friends noted a $50-off sale and alerted us, so we got them at an excellent price, and we’ve been using them for years. The question now is whether we want to shell out for three of the larger car seat/booster models and which model.

Friends have gotten the Regent and the Radian 80, so I’ll check how they’re liking those. Maybe we can just get two seats and move them to the less-used car when needed. Recommendations, anyone?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life After Michael Phelps

We’re a little lost without that nightly segment on TV where he wins a medal. Check out this quote about one evening when he had to hustle from the medal stand back into the pool for another race:

"I switched from my dress sweats to my parka, shoes, threw my cap and goggles on and then they pushed us on out. No time," he said. "The medal was in my warmup jacket."

Isn’t that a cool job, where your fancy clothes are your dress sweats?

Fortunately, Q continues to let his imagination run free, so we have entertainment beyond the temporary swimming fixation. I was sitting peacefully in the dining room when he crawled under the table and said, “Ants! Ants everywhere!”

I usually play along with his creature visualization, but this one squicked me out. “For real?”


“How about if we pretend they’re giraffes?”

“Giraffes! Giraffes everywhere!” He crawled happily back under the table.

Photo credit: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why I’m (Not) Glad to Be Me

At Home

Why I’m glad to be me:
Cute, cute baby giggles. Sweet baby smell.

Why I’m not glad to be me:
Same baby at 3am. And 4am. And 5am. And 6am.

Why I’m glad to be me:
Small boy flinging open door to greet me when I get home from work.

Why I’m not glad to be me:
Same boy flinging open bedroom door to greet the morning at 6:45am.

Why I’m glad to be me:
Husband crawling out of bed to handle toddler morning routine.

At Work

Why I’m glad to be me:
Exciting new project/market opportunity.

Why I’m not glad to be me:
Same opportunity difficult to focus, due to lack of sleep.

Why I am uncertain whether to be glad to be me:
Annual review with new boss tomorrow after a three month maternity leave.


Why you’re glad to not be me:
Unable to come up with charming punchline to wrap up post to explain that I’m really happy but in a sleepy sort of way, so must resort to non sequitur photo.

Based on this picture of my desk this morning, I am either
a) Fond of the color orange
b) Promoting the letter “C”
c) Fending off a sore throat

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yeah Baby, Double Digits

I can hardly believe I’ve been married for a decade.

I thought it would be fun to surprise SwingDaddy with something from the bakery that made our wedding cake, but I discovered that Nancy had closed Nancy’s Fancies. Next, SwingDaddy suggested that we finally get around taking our rings back to the jeweler for polishing, but it turns out the he retired last summer. This made me nervous to call the hotel where we were married, but fortunately, it’s not only still standing, but thriving.

We headed there for brunch last weekend while my parents were in town and able to watch the boys. The sunlight sparkled on the lagoon and we strolled past the fountain where we stood ten years ago in front of all our friends and family. We had better photography on that occasion, but the arms-length self portrait will do just fine.

Here’s to many more years, sweetie!

P.S. I wrote a wedding post titled, Something Old, Something New, and a Little Botox Too at Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Check it out here!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And Don’t Call Back Again

A couple of years ago, I was softhearted and softheaded and made a donation to a charitable police officer’s organization. Since then, I’ve been added to some kind of Sucker’s List for police and firefighters, because whether legit or scam, they call for money all the time.

Julie wrote about her experiences with their callers getting nasty about making a personal commitment to these fine forces, as their call agents like to say, and why she’ll never donate to them again. I’ve heard those exact same words too many times and started drilling the callers. Are they a non-profit agency? Is the full amount of the donation tax deductible? Why not? What is their rating on Charity Navigator? And the kicker:

How much of the donation goes to the firefighters?

The last agent told me, “A minimum of 12%.”

TWELVE percent? I’m never going to listen politely to a phone spiel from these organizations again. It’s time to call my firefighter friend and find out what group he’d suggest supporting instead.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Socks and Sabers

Little boys’ clothing is almost always decorated with one of three themes: sports, dinosaurs, or construction equipment. Q-ster’s shirt bears a triceratops and a jersey number, so all it needs is for the reptile to be driving a backhoe loader to hit the grand trifecta.

Note the green socks, a reward for being a big boy. He pointed out that he prefers a darker shade of green, but I replied, “Dude, you have no idea how hard it is to find green socks in your size. Be happy.” All the shades that were remotely green had camouflage patterns, so I found these on the girls’ side of the store.

The green favoritism extends to Star Wars as well. In spite of the official Darth Maul’s red weapon, we have firm instructions that his Darth Maul double-ended light saber will be dark green. The pictured plastic drinking straw is the current parent-approved indoor light saber, but it’s not going to hold him for long. Mayberry suggests swim noodles for outdoor sabers, so we'll keep that in mind.

I seem to have a non sequitur tag series going these last few days, so I might as well continue. Check this out.

It’s a giant roll of bubble wrap! Doesn’t it make you want to throw a bubble popping party? Hours of fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Houston, We Have Underwear

Just about everyone is familiar with the terse phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” spoken by a calm, but alert NASA astronaut. All sorts of activities were reported to Houston.

Naturally, this lead to my youthful misunderstanding that “Houston” was jargon for “headquarters.” You know, like CB radio operators say “Roger” or “10-4” instead of “OK.” It must be that one calls on Houston when giving an account to one’s superiors.

I will not admit how old I was before I realized that Houston wasn’t a code name for anything. Houston was, um, HOUSTON, the city in which NASA Mission Control is located. Yeah.

All of this is just a long intro to reporting that the little dude specifically requested to wear underwear to his gymnastics class today, making it his first foray out of the house without a diaper ever. And he did very well. This whole potty training thing may work after all.

On the photography front:
Q-ster is only intermittently interested in being photographed these days, so it’s a good thing I have a few months before Buster learns how to crawl away from my camera.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tin Foil, An Underrated Crafting Opportunity

I’m all for office picnics, but the announcement of ‘team-building exercises’ always make me nervous. The falling-backwards type trust exercises feel weird in the business atmosphere. This time, however, the organizers came up with a pretty entertaining plan.

We were divided into four groups, assigned a member of upper management, and given a bag filled with mystery items with which to design a superhero costume for him. Superhero name, powers, and back story were the other deliverables. Our group got a few pieces of cardboard, a roll of streamers, four fuzzy pipe cleaners, a pack of party-decoration stars, a roll of tape, and scissors.

While others got to work making some kind of boot by wrapping our superhero’s legs with tin foil and winding streamers around them, I freehand cut the shape of a shield out of cardboard, wrapped it in foil, and stuck a star on top. We taped a pipe cleaner loop to the back for a handle, and I added streamers to the bottom for some flair. It took about two minutes, and as you can see, wasn’t exactly art, but I preened over this goofy shield like I was some kind of genius.

I think I need to get my sewing machine set up again and start making stuff before these small successes get blown out of proportion. I’m already sketching plans in my head for a plush lightsaber that would please Q-ster without giving him a weapon that would do actual damage when being deployed around the playroom.

And our superhero? He turned out pretty well. One of the other team members had brought his cricket bat (yep, it’s a Bay Area tech company all right – just as many dudes play cricket as baseball), and once decorated with the requisite streamers, it made a good pairing with the shield.

Do any of you watch America’s Best Dance Crew? I finally caught up with last week’s episode and was distressed to see that among the final three, my favorite two crews were pitted against each other. Sniff. They should have been the finale duo, but we lost the ever-so-entertaining Fanny Pak. Bizarre, but really, really creative folks. My favorite routine of theirs was a prom theme were they started dancing sweetly in 80’s teen formalwear until the punk rock chick “spiked” the punch and they became Thriller-esque crazies. I might actually have to vote this week - Go Super Cr3w!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fear the Teenage Poet

Everyone has a useless talent. For instance, the ability to tie a knot in a cherry stem with your tongue. I met a woman whose skill is charming museum docents. Mine is limerick composition.

Why does this matter? I'm a lurker at a garden of nna mmoy, where Andrea linked to the announcement that Tuesday is Bad Teenage Poetry Blogging Day. I really, really wish I could find "Lenora of Lenae," a tragic epic tale told in five pages of limerick verse, printed on purple ditto type in my middle school literary magazine. Painful.

Luckily for you, I think all copies have been destroyed. Let me know if you plan on participating.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dancing Queens and Kings

For those of you who couldn’t care less about So You Think You Can Dance, there’s a baby pic further down in the post. For everyone else, let’s talk!

Last year, Nigel spent weeks hyping a dance between Cat and himself in the finale, which turned out to be a goofy animated bit of nonsense with photographs of their heads inserted on cartoons. Very disappointing. This year, I was impressed. The two-hour finale was packed with good stuff and didn’t feel like the usual endless stretching-out-of-suspense.

Once upon a time, Mary Murphy gave useful critiques, but this season, she deteriorated into a series of incoherent screams and overpraise of clearly substandard ballroom. She may not have fully redeemed herself tonight, but I’m so glad she did that Latin number with Dmitri. Despite the slow tempo, she showed she does indeed have a reason to be on this show.

Nigel danced a very entertaining tap routine with the youngsters from the Debbie Allen Academy, and as you would expect from someone used to live performance, he totally sold the number. It’s easy to make comments from the safety of the judges table, so I’ve got to really hand it to Nigel and Mary. They put it all on the line, in front of millions.

The highly weird Cirque du Soleil/Wade Robson collaboration had the iconic imagery you’d expect from Cirque (rabbit ears protruding from a coffin, anyone?) and the popping battle was a delight. The freaky winner doesn’t need to limit himself to dance performances, because he’d do well portraying an alien in a sequel to Men in Black.

Spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you haven’t seen the results.

I expected Courtney to go first, but I really thought Katee and Joshua would be the final pair. What a surprise! I loved all of the last three and would have been happy to see any of them win. Katee is by far the best technician, but Twitch was the best entertainer. Joshua combined strong presence with a lovable personality. I’m glad we’re going to get to see all of them in concert, so I don’t need to be sad the season is over.

How did your favorite dancer do?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Star Wars Fandom - And So It Begins

Q-ster has been playing the Lego Star Wars game with SwingDaddy, which inspired them to pull out our household’s surprisingly substantial collection of actual Star Wars Lego. The little dude has decided that he “wants to be the red face guy, Darth Maul” for Halloween. If he doesn’t change his mind, we may be outfitting a small Sith Lord in a couple of months.

Given his lifelong love of sticks, I wonder if Darth Maul is the chosen one because he uses the double-ended light saber . . .

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Calling All Octopus Marketers

Famous bloggers have statements about how they handle product reviews and their policies on receiving and discussing items from PR teams. Heck, Stefania even has a whole blog titled, CityMama’s Stuff People Send Me to write about the deluge of free stuff.

Ever since Kristen gave me a shout-out at the BlogHer Commercial Momosphere panel, I feel I should be prepared. As a co-founder and editor of Cool Mom Picks, she features products that are unusual, “indie,” and made by small, mom-founded companies. If she’s pitched something that doesn’t fit CMP, she’ll sometimes forward it onto someone who would appreciate it, such as a site that does more mainstream content or a particular niche. “For instance, Lady M likes octopus things.”

Woo-hoo! She and Liz have kindly sent me cute links for years, and here is an alert to the certainly thousands of purveyors of cute sealife products on the marketplace that I’m a connoisseur and would be happy to review them. Thanks, Kristen!

A few notes to ensure the success of your product.

Realism or biological accuracy is interesting, but not very cute. For example, this wall decal would be nice for someone else, but it’s not so much my style.

Anthropomorphic cuteness, that’s my thing. Like this card:

Or these pillows.

Favored creatures: Octopi, Jellyfish (now called jellies), Starfish (now called sea stars), blowfish (still called blowfish, as far as I know), and of course, lobsters and crabs. And vegetables too, but perhaps that’s considered a separate market.

Yes, I'm strange, but you knew that already, didn't you?

In other news, the little dude’s vocabulary continues to grow. He was examining our bathroom counter the other day and said, “Mortar!” SwingDaddy explained that yes, mortar was what builders use to hold bricks together, but the substance between tiles is called grout.


Grout has never had a soft spot in my heart, but gwout definitely does.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Consonant Explosion

I had the pleasure of watching my son experience the pure joy of understanding at dinner tonight. We’ve been making letter sounds with him for a long time, but it snapped together suddenly and he got it.

Instead of eating, he chattered away. “Table – ta-ta-ta. T starts with table!” (Ok, he got the phrasing backwards, but we know where he’s going with it.)

“Fan – fa-fa-fa . . . F! Light – la-la-la . . . L! Grape – ga-ga-ga . . .G! Noodle - na-na-na . . . N!” He looked at everything around him and gleefully sounded out the first letter. Some were a bit more complicated (ch-ch-chair and th-th-thorns on the roses), but he did well.

Listening to him was just magical.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In Which I Re-Affirm My Mommyblogging Credentials

Because all mommybloggers talk about is poop and how cute their children are, right?

I am too afraid of jinxing the whole thing to write much, but let’s say that the little dude may be close to claiming some of the prizes we rashly promised him if he would only start using the toilet.

And because I can’t stop talking about dance reality television, I think we’ve been watching too much of America’s Best Dance Crew, because Lil Mama is starting to make perfect sense to me.