Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yay for Drugs and Perfect Posts!

The microdude has insisted on staying awake three hours past his bedtime twice in the last three days, and last night, that one night in between? His big brother came down with croup again. It’s been a nine month run, so we thought Q-ster had outgrown it, but not quite yet. Fortunately, we were able to give him the orapred that had been carefully stashed in the fridge and avoided another trip to the ER.

Our previous trip to the ER last December, when I shared a cot with Q-ster and Swimmy (not yet become Buster).

And now tonight, SwingDaddy is sick. Plus work is crazy.

So it’s a good thing that Tech Savvy Mama lifted my spirits by awarding me a Perfect Post for Steve Jobs Couldn't Ask for a Better Pitchman, posted over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog!

The Original Perfect Post Awards 09.08 Lindsay and Kimberly have hosted these monthly events to showcase favorite posts for years now. I’ve awarded several before, but this is the first I’ve received. I’ve always wanted a Perfect Post, so it really means a lot. Thank you, Tech Savvy Mama!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Booming Potato Industry

Because the economy is too distressing to think about right now, let’s look at the enterprising Mr. Potato Head business.

They’ve got a pretty good grasp of their market. Yes, that is indeed Darth Tater.

Thanks for the photos, dad!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Our new piano cover arrived. We’re somewhat less than thrilled with the product.

1) It doesn't quite fit.

2) The garish lettering would look more appropriate on the back of a football jersey than on a fine concert instrument.

3) The lettering says “YAMAHA.” There’s nothing wrong with a Yamaha grand piano. They make lovely pianos. However, our piano is NOT a Yamaha. It’s like putting a BMW under a Lexus car cover.

A long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), my mom located a piano cover company, ordered a simple cover, and then began an email correspondence nightmare, receiving alternately vague or no responses. Months later, they finally told her they had completed our order and then proceeded to ship us somebody else’s cover. I’m sure there’s a family somewhere across the country wondering why they have a cover than fits our piano.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Clean Background, Yeah, Yeah

Every "how to take better pictures of your kids" article tells you to clean away clutter in the background so that you can focus on the little faces, instead of the vineyard wallpaper left by the previous owners, the busy pattern of the booster seat, and the not-matching outfit and hat. But when baby looks at you with big eyes, ya take the picture anyway, messy surroundings and all.

Behind the scenes: The boys were trying on their new sun hats, and Buster was wondering what drama Q-ster was going to entertain us with next.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who Knew Artichokes Were So Much Fun?

We made a return visit to California's only horticultural theme park last weekend and immediately boarded the artichoke ride, a much desired treat for Q-ster. We'd taken home a park map from our last trip, and he pored over it, examining the attractions and deciding what he wanted to do next. Fortunately, the 'chokes were pretty fun, even if he wasn't too excited about getting his picture taken.
Mom, get me out of this artichoke!

Later he took his first ride on a (small) ferris wheel. Upon further reflection, I think it was my first time too.

We also admired some of the crazy "circus trees." Since he’s grown less fond of posing for pictures, I asked him to take a picture of me in front of the basket tree, and he was thrilled to oblige. Picture not shown because Mama was looking disheveled, but we had another good bonding day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Busted, but Definitely My Child

The prize.

The method of access.
I let Q-ster examine my new lip gloss while I put on makeup earlier this week, and he was fascinated. Bright pink in a squeeze tube, it was shiny and kind of like a light saber. Everything is, these days. After finishing up, I placed it on top of my dresser.

Later that morning, I hit a point in between conference calls when I heard water running in the bathroom. Very softly, very surreptitiously.

I walked over to check it out. The little dude was quietly washing his hands.

"Yes?" I raised my eyebrows.
"I'm washing my hands."
I didn't say anything else, giving him some more rope.
". . to get rid of the pink stuff."
"The pink tube from your room."
"Where is it now?" I asked.

I checked out the shelf where he said he'd left it. Sure enough, an open container of lip gloss, in a somewhat sticky tableau. I helped him dry off his hands and wiped up the spill.

"That's Mommy's. You need to leave it on my dresser."
"Oh, ok. I'll wait until you're at work."

Right. I explained that he wasn't supposed to play with my things at all, unless I brought them down for him.

It was hard to keep a straight face, especially seeing the series of step stools that he'd arranged to get to the goods. Plus, instead of getting busted with the contraband, I catch him cleaning up. He doesn't like to be sticky. That's my boy, says his hand-washing nut of a mama.


SwingDaddy and I have a division of labor in our household. On the space-time continuum, he's responsible for spatial, and I'm responsible for temporal. Consider that background for the next morning's story when I was driving Q-ster to preschool.

SwingDaddy usually does the drop-off, so I held a bright yellow post-it with scribbled directions in one hand.

"What's that?" asked the little dude.
"Directions to tell us how to get to school."
"Oh. Turn left here, mom!"

I told SwingDaddy later, and he said, "That's my boy!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not Sent To You From My iPhone

How they grow. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our range of car seats.

Left: Graco infant seat, fondly called the “bucket.” Originally purchased for Q-ster and now used by Buster.

Middle: Britax Roundabout, currently used by Q-ster in SwingDaddy’s car.

Right: Britax Frontier, installed this weekend for Q-ster in my car. The one pictured will go into SwingDaddy’s car.

There are a couple of friends who are contemplating car seat transitions, so here’s a side view picture too. Notice that even though the Frontier is a larger seat and will accommodate a child to the size I was when I got my driver’s license, it doesn’t feel like it has a bigger footprint, because the seat is lower and doesn’t hold the child in a tilted-backwards arrangement.

The Roundabout goes up to 40 lbs, so Q-ster can still use it for a while, but my sister alerted us to Britax’s annual sale this week, and we jumped on the Frontiers we’d been admiring in the ZRecs review. The little dude is quite pleased with his new chair. It’s much easier for him to climb in by himself, and he likes flipping the armrests down and knowing that he has his own cupholders.

In unrelated news, I’m over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog today, explaining how Steve Jobs Couldn’t Ask For A Better Pitchman than Q-ster.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Be Prepared, Ike Reminds Us

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. Hearing that the city of Houston is expected to go for another WEEK (if not more) without power is motivation to keep working at this.

This quarter, I updated our car kits to include Buster-sized diapers and fresh wipes, bottled water, a baby bottle, and a small container of formula. That way, if someone gets stranded with the baby and without me, he'll have meals.

I put one of Q-ster's old (but clean) Avent bottles in each kit, because I don't want to buy brand new bottles that will hopefully never be used. If we hit a major natural disaster, drinking from a bottle with BPA in the plastic a couple of times while on the way home will be the least of our worries. Once Buster outgrows the small size of the BPA-free Born Free bottles that we're currently using and moves to 9 ounce bottles, I'll replace the Avents in the car kits with the Born Frees.

I also finally got a copy of Buster's birth certificate, which is a separate story in itself, but I haven't made copies of that or of insurance documents for our Go Bag, so that can be next quarter's task.

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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


We’re wishing Kristen and Rebecca well for their soon-to-arrive baby girls by sharing baby reminiscences in a virtual baby shower. I’m still living it in various states of sleep deprivation rather than reminiscing, so here are some illustrations instead.

How darling are little tiny baby toes, whether naked or wrapped in footie pajamas?
Best wishes for safe deliveries and much cuteness, ladies!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Round Rock - Then and Now

Costume Conspirator had another party, and we admired her landscaping, especially the round rock.

Q-ster at age 1.

Q-ster last weekend.

Buster's turn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Large Drums, Large Men

What a fabulous picture - pounding drums on the Great Wall! I saw it in the university alumni magazine in an article about the student Taiko group traveling to China in the weeks prior to Beijing Olympics.

We took Q-ster to see that same group at the local Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring, because we knew he would love the drums. We got to sit up close.

While we were waiting for the drummers, we were entertained by the California Sumo Association. A highly articulate wrestler described their traditions and gave some children the opportunity to 'challenge' the wrestlers. The guys nudged the kids around theatrically before allowing themselves to be toppled in a grand show.

The announcer asked the little boy in the picture who he wanted to challenge, and he said, "The biggest!" And there they are.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who’s Your Fairy?

If you could have a little supernatural assistant who could make one niche of your life go perfectly, what would you want?

John Scalzi featured a new book today by Justine Larbalestier called, How to Ditch Your Fairy. I’ve never read anything by that author, but this one definitely sounds entertaining. Every person in the book has a fairy that has one trick that benefits its owner: Some fairies allow you to always have a good parking spot, others make all the clothes you buy fit you just right, and so on.

Scalzi goes on to ask, if you could choose, what would your fairy do? There are over a hundred comments to his post already, and it was fun to scan them. Some folks are requesting something too big, like the “extra hour” fairy. It ought to be a minor thing that doesn’t bend the laws of physics, break the law, or change the world too much – this is a personal fairy, not a ruthless god.

Scalzi himself wants the “Where the Hell Are My Car Keys” Fairy. Other good ideas in the comments included the “What is My Password to this Website” fairy and the “Which is the Fastest Line?” Fairy.

It’s tempting to ask for the “Never Get Barf on Your Clothes” Fairy, but that’s sort of short-sighted. The baby years will pass, and then it’s not going to be useful on an hourly basis (unless you’re still going to frat parties). I think I want either the “Remember Everyone’s Name” Fairy or the “Know When Batteries are About to Die So I Bring the Charger With Me” Fairy.

How about you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Darth Maul Never Looked This Happy

We sewed a double-ended lightsaber this weekend. It delights me how much he loves it.

Just so you don’t think it’s all bruising warriors around here, the next day he asked me for a butterfly, and we sewed that too.

And in a separate crafting follow-up, I walked by a costume store with the following display: Not only is there slut-Snow White, but there is skanky Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a jailbait Hogwarts witch, and on and on. Great.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm THAT Neighbor

Now and again, my own social awkwardness will astound me. Yesterday was such a day.

A little background: A few days ago, Magpie wrote an excellent story about a socially inept fellow who’d bring a package of Fig Newtons to the neighborhood party to place among all the homemade dishes, and she linked to another hilarious tale of a neighbor who couldn’t quite make conversation, but did his best to contribute what he could.

I’d just arrived home from the grocery store and started unloading bags when my neighbors pulled into their driveway. For once, I wasn’t in a hurry, so I walked over a few feet to wave hello.

“We saw you at Safeway!” Mr. Neighbor said. I hadn’t noticed or recognized them – oops. “We’re having a barbeque, having some friends over. Would you like to come too?”

Somehow I wasn’t in the right mindset to talk coherently and I explained that we were going to meet some friends, but I said it in way that totally sounded like I was making an excuse, even though we were going to a friend’s graduation party.

I stumbled off and realized, “I’m becoming that neighbor with the solo lawn chair, or the one who brings a pack of gum to the potluck.”

Determined to do better, I rallied the troops to bake treats to deliver to our neighbors before we left for the graduation party.

I want to live in this neighborhood for decades and have block parties and all that stuff. Brownies are a small step in that direction.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And to Think They Flew All the Way There Just to Evacuate

Crazy week at work. My other baby, the product on which I’ve been working for more than a year and a half, is getting close to its release date. My manufacturing team traveled out to the final assembly site to do the last inspection . . . in Houston.

When I called them to check on some procedure issues this afternoon, they were all packed into a car, fleeing the city. Fleeing makes it sound exciting. More accurately, they were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway.

Anyhow, I need to get back to work, so that’s all for now.

Wishing safety for everyone in the path of Ike!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Confessions of a Lapsed Bookworm

Like many citizens of Blogsylvania, I spent a good portion of my childhood reading. I knew my elementary school library inside out and borrowed the maximum allotted number of books each day, read them, and returned then in the morning. I read when I was supposed to read and also many, many times when I should have been doing something else. To this day, I startle and close the book guiltily if someone comes into the room while I am reading, because I was busted so often.

So, it’s been a strange last year, reading very little new fiction. My to-read shelf has grown with things I don’t want to miss, but with all energies focused on staying healthy during the pregnancy and after, I haven’t felt able to invest my heart in the welfare of fictional characters. I also realize that a lot of my reading time is now spent reading blogs instead.

There’s one novel I’d been holding for months, knowing that it was likely an emotionally wrenching read, and I was finally eager to tackle it over the weekend. Back in the 80’s the author, Ellen Emerson White, wrote a set of YA books about the daughter of a female US president, and she followed up last year with an adult-targeted book covering the now-college freshman girl as she struggles to recover from injuries resulting from her abduction and escape in the earlier books. It was stunning and thought-provoking and kept me up an extra hour and a half last night to finish the last of the 700 pages.

When you’re getting up really early to feed a baby, losing 90 minutes can be fatal. Ouch. The book was worth it, but I think I need a breather again before I pick up another book. I’m not good with pacing – as a fast reader, if I like something, I will inhale it over a day or two, and I don’t think my sleep-state can handle the aftermath!

It’s strange to not be reading multiple books per week any more, but I suppose that’ll be another hobby I pick up again someday in the future. One thing I did notice was how one-directional print reading is. When reading blogs, readers participate in the conversation – commenting on posts, seeing what other said about it, and feeling like part of a community.

While reading and after finishing Long May She Reign, I wanted to talk about it, and fortunately was able to track down my sister, who loaned her copy to me in the first place. More and more authors and their publishers are starting online forums for their readers, and I understand why. Print will survive and thrive, but it’ll do better supported by online communities.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Lightsaber of One’s Own

This blog has started becoming All Stars Wars All The Time, but why fight it?

The little dude has been passionately racing around the house waving various implements that he calls lightsabers – flashlights, a green drinking straw, writing utensils, you name it. We’re not willing to bring a toy lightsaber into the house, because stick-like items have a way of being brandished happily for a while, and then eventually turning to a path of destruction.

The answer? A plush lightsaber, of course! Q-ster and I went shopping for fabric on Saturday, and after he picked orange (not green!) as the perfect color, he helped me sew and stuff the saber with cotton batting.

Battling droids.

Using the force to repel enemies.

It is usually unwise to hug one’s weapon, but I suppose you can make an exception if mommy sewed it for you. He immediately requested that we make a blaster, and next a double ended saber, like that of Darth Maul.

In related news, I am horribly guilty of idle Star Wars commentary myself. SwingDaddy has a book with Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man on the cover, and I mused that “hey, it’s kind of like General Grievous.” Oops.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This Is Why You Don't Allow Your Children To Watch Television

Q-ster and I were driving peacefully to an errand when he looked out the window and piped up from the back seat.

“Chuck E. Cheese!”

Me: What?
Q-ster: That’s Chuck E. Cheese! He’s that mouse, right over there.

I have never been inside said establishment, but the stories I’ve heard from other parents struck fear in my heart. I probed a little to see what he knew about this noisy, messy place.

Me: What’s at Chuck E. Cheese?
Q-ster: There’s food there.

Ok, well he wasn’t begging to go inside.

Me: Where did you learn about Chuck E. Cheese?
Q-ster: On TV!

We may need to go back to watching only Little Einsteins videos.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Where Once We Had Snails

Q-ster has a game he likes to play when he gets out of the shower. “I’m a snail! I’m a snail!” he chirps while he steps out of the bath and curls up on the bathmat. SwingDaddy throws a towel over him, and the little dude pretends he’s a snail, all curled up under its shell.

Not anymore.

Now he curls up and says, “I’m a Droideka!” (The Star Wars battle droid that curls into a ball and rolls into position.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What Happened to Halloween?

I took the little dude to the fabric store over the weekend to begin scouting materials for his Darth Maul Halloween costume. I was so excited to sew for my kids – it’s so mommy-like.

We sat down at the long pattern table and started flipping through the pages of costumes. Something has changed about Halloween. In my rough estimate, about ten percent of the costumes were for children, ten percent were historical costumes, five percent were matching dog-and-owner getups, and the remaining three-quarters of the pages were variations on slut-wear.

There’s the always popular trashy French maid. The pirate wench and the sexy gypsy, even lady vampires. Those are all expected. However, I was surprised by how many other forms there were. The fairy-s1ut, the doctor-s1ut, the clown, the Grecian, the Alice in Wonderland in naughty form, and even a bad-ladybug (really). Good Lord.

Fortunately, Q-ster didn’t ask any questions about why the women in the pattern book (pattern book! Not slattern book!) weren’t wearing much. I’m not at all opposed to playful clothing, but I hadn’t realized how much the focus of the holiday merchandise had changed, at least for the craft market.

Star Wars costuming will begin in earnest another weekend. In the meantime – the first day of school photo!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Toadstool Has a Friend

Readers of Her Bad Mother will certainly remember the shape of her toddler daughter's security object, her lovey that she carries everywhere. It was once a Pottery Barn Plush Stacking Ring Set, but after all the rings disappeared for some reason or another, the remaining stacker stand has quite a shape. She sometimes calls it Toadstool, one of the politer possible names. Those who are not shy really need to see this picture.

When SwingDaddy told me that his folks were sending Buster a plush ring stacker, I giggled to myself and wondered if we might meet the sibling of Toadstool. A box arrived this weekend and wow, it's of a size I hadn't quite expected. Check this out, posed next to a traditional plastic Fisher Price ring stacker for scale. It's incredibly cute and fuzzy, with each ring taking the shape of (a somewhat flattened) animal.

I just really hope that Buster doesn't become attached to the same piece of it, because I don't think I'm up to the explaining. For modesty's sake, no illustration of just the stacker stand is provided.

Mama, I don't know what you're talking about!

Monday, September 01, 2008

This Is What I Get For Being So Pleased With Myself

This morning, I gathered all the newborn and 3-month outfits and packed them away in the box where I’d stored them three years ago. Q-ster had outgrown them and I was hoping that there’d be a Buster someday to wear them again. This time, I’ll see if any of my preggo friends are interested or send them to a charitable group.

I was so pleased – feeling organized and tidy. The micro dude’s drawers were freed up, ready for the next set of larger clothes tumbling in the dryer. Of course, then he had four spit-ups in a row – small, but just enough to need a new sleeper to get the damp off his skin each time.

No clean clothes left. I busted open the box and pulled out the (slightly snug) old sleepers.