Saturday, January 31, 2009

Olympic Skaters Who Can Spell

Another year, another pilgrimage to the Stars On Ice tour with SwingDaddy and Lady O! (Tickets and tour dates here.)

I was going to begin the post with “through a combination of being returning patrons and fan club privileges, we had the best seats we've ever had before – on the ice, just a few feet from the center line,” but I find that exact sentence in last year’s post, as well as some other memories that I absolutely don’t recall. I’ll plead distraction from being enormously pregnant at the time.

Sasha Cohen was back with a graceful winged number.

Ilia Kulik showed his huge jumps, and I really liked his "Song for the King" number. He’s either improving at self-choreography or is now working with someone who uses his talents well.

Shen and Zhao in one of their big throws. It’s amazing that she can land these things.

John Zimmerman skating with Yuka Sato, both looking great. Unfortunately, John’s partner Kyoko Ina didn’t return this year, likely because the physical fallout from their reckless, riding-the-edge stunts was starting to take its toll. Too bad, because they were stunning together.

Overall, we enjoyed the show lots, but it was clear that the group choreography wasn't up to the usual high SOI level of entertainment. There was a lot of cascaded repetition that grew dull quickly.

When you have such fine material, there's no excuse for not showing them off! I would wish for Torvill and Dean to return and pump up the creative level, but it sounds like they are busy with a lucrative skating-with-celebrities type TV show back home in the UK.

I have a new favorite: Michael Weiss. He's a great showman, moves well, entertains, jumps, and backflips. And get this. He can spell, punctuate, and write an engaging narrative as well! He blogs occasionally on his own website as well as a Stars on Ice fan club page, and it's a fun read. (Not saying that other skaters can't write entertainingly, just saying that Michael’s writing is exceptionally coherent.)

I got to slap hands with both Michael and John Z when the skaters did their zoom around the rink before final bows. :)

Thank you for the great pictures, SwingDaddy! Can't wait until next year - check out if they're coming to a city near you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dude Learns a Questionable New Skill

The whole episode took about 20 seconds.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not Exactly Perfect, But Close

Check out this Valentine’s card from Pearlmarmalade’s Etsy store. If it were just a little cuter . . . An addition of eyelashes, perhaps.

I finally got around to updating my profile on LinkedIn, prompted by an old friend who is looking for a new position. In this economic climate, it seems prudent to do some networking, so after I wrote her a recommendation, I started sending some invitations to colleagues and classmates. There were a few VPs among my classmates, which admittedly sparked a flash of envy, but best was the great pleasure in finding a long-lost friend and mentor.

I’m over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog today, talking about things I never thought I’d say until I became a parent. “Don’t lick your brother” being one of them. The comments are totally cracking me up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Thousand and One Jars

The micro dude is picking up steam and chowing down, leaving many, many little empty glass jars in his wake. Q-ster’s preschool is willing to take a bunch for craft projects, thankfully, as it feels awful to throw so many into recycling.

We’ve also started working on homemade baby food, but Buster is not so excited about it. I think it has more to do with temperature – either too cold from the fridge or too warm from heating up – than it does with flavor, because the homemade organic sweet potato was even sweeter than the stuff from the jar. More experimentation is in store.

Let me know if you want a couple dozen jars. Or a couple hundred.

Full Mommy Valentine 200
For some eco-friendly, non-toxic, small business-supporting gift ideas, see the Full Mommy Valentine Gift Guide!

Monday, January 26, 2009

You, Chew, Hugh

It was quite the chatty doctor’s visit earlier this month. There must be some kind of domestic violence prevention campaign going on, because in between a bunch of health questions, Dr. New threw in, “Is anyone hitting you or hurting you?”

I replied, “No. Actually the baby keeps smacking his head into my chest when he loses his balance, but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.”

That baby is now working on his third tooth and managed to eat an entire banana this afternoon. We are totally going to have to take on night jobs to afford the food these kids are going to consume as tweens.

In other news – Hugh Jackman, Oscar host! Quoted in Entertainment Weekly as saying he’ll be singing and dancing! Who cares what movies have been nominated? I’ll be there. Well, watching on TV in any case.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thirty-Something and Just Right

I went to the doctor’s office earlier this month when the weeks of being sick became too irritating. After a couple of hours and $17 (thank god for health insurance), I had the exact same diagnosis that my mother gave me over the phone.

My own doctor wasn’t available, so I had seen the on-call doc, who made a lot of introductory chit chat. We talked about the baby, and she said she hoped that everyone else in the family was healthy again.

Dr. New said, “This is too much information, but I’m 32 and single, and I’m thrilled when I meet someone in her late 30’s who has young children. It makes me think that maybe I’ll get to have a family too.”

I had to think for a moment before I realized, “Hey, I’m in my late thirties!” Just a couple of weeks past a birthday, I’m now inarguably past a mid-thirties claim. And much like Bon wrote in her recent birthday posts, I find that I’m content where I am. Wife, mom, dancer, writer, high tech professional, and fledgling cook.

I’ve danced onstage with my sweetie in Paris, gone to the theatre every night for a week in New York City, worked 100 hour weeks in business. It was exciting, and maybe some of those things will come my way again. After all, my mom reminds me that our current Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, didn’t run for political office until the youngest of her five children reached her final year of high school.

There are wider horizons ahead, and for now, having two small boys on my lap while we watch a photo slideshow of the weekend’s antics is just about right.

Updated: Edited to clarify that Dr. New is female. Thanks, Bea!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life in Our House

The boys in battle.

Buster has his own baby-sized light saber. I was worried that he might ingest some of the polyfill I used for the other toys, so I stuffed his with old shredded (clean) socks, making it safer for chewing.

We’re starting to use a few baby signs, particularly the “more” and “milk” signs that were so useful when Q-ster was a baby. We didn’t start blogging until he was a year old, so I’ll have to thumb through SwingDaddy’s paper log to see when he started signing back. Communication is (hopefully) just around the corner – so exciting!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finally, Cute Shoes

Through some new hires and floor plan rearrangement, my once mostly-male work environment has made a shift towards the distaff side. I now regularly see and work with women, sometimes several times per day. Combined with my gradual return to normal clothing sizes, fashion is fun again.

Look, new shoes! Besides the polka dot pair from 2007, I think these mini boots are the first non-sneaker shoes I’ve purchased in two, three, or possibly four years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I’ll Never Catch Up

Does everyone else also accumulate a list of blogging topics and pictures that grows faster than you have time to post? Well, I suppose it’s better than feeling so dull that there’s nothing to say. Here are a few catch-up pix from earlier in the month.

I’d purchased these window gels in after-Christmas clearance and pulled them out one afternoon when Nanny J had gone home sick and I needed to be on some conference calls. Q-ster entertained himself for hours, rearranging all the snowmen in one pane and snowflakes in another. Then all the red circles in a line and green circles elsewhere. All gels in one pane, and then stuck in separate panes.

It was the best dollar I’ve spent in a long time. Plus he practiced counting them all periodically to make sure none were missing, since I told him that he had to make sure they didn't drop to the floor, where Buster might chew on them.

Since Buster has gotten so mobile, we set up the Pack and Play to have a safe place to deposit him if something urgent came up. One day, I came home to find both boys and every toy in the room all mixed together inside.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Fine Day

I missed the oath of office and inaugural address because of an oh-so-important meeting to prepare for a meeting to prepare for a meeting, which was clearly more critical than watching history being made, but thank heavens for YouTube and brethren. It makes me teary-eyed to hear and see such an intelligent and hard-working leader. Better days are ahead, my friends!

On the frivolous side of the story, check out this article about the carbon-fiber cello that Yo-Yo Ma was going to play in the inauguration ceremony. It looked like the weather was good enough that he played his traditional instrument instead, but it’s cool to see what technology can do. Apparently, the founder of the carbon company was inspired when he went sailing on a fiberglass catamaran and noticed how well the hull transmitted sound.

In even more frivolous and unrelated news, I’ve hit upon the way to enjoy Superstars of Dance. Record in advance, and fast forward through any moment where people are talking. Without having to endure the incomprehensible judging, I quite enjoyed the show this week.

America’s Best Dance Crew has begun season three, and I’m thrilled to see Hok and Dominic (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the competition with their Quest crew. Superstars would do well to imitate the Dance Crew website – photos and bios of the competitors, lots of details and extras, making it easy to get engaged with the show.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Following that Incoherency

Yesterday’s post was so ramble-y that I’d better keep it short tonight. Q-ster and I watched the MLK “I Have A Dream” speech on YouTube this morning, while discussing why we had the day off from school and work. “Is it his birthday, that guy?” he asked. “Wow, there are a lot of people watching.”

It’s hard to verbalize to a preschooler exactly what Martin Luther King, Jr did, because it means admitting that such ugliness existed in the world for him to confront, not so long ago.

Q-ster in the bath, while Buster stands on his own two feet, contemplating a dive in.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mommy Fett

As hosts of the annual holiday gathering of our dance friends this year, selecting the costume theme was not difficult. There have been evenings dressed as Victorian, Ragtime, film noir, “Christmas morning,” Kings and Queens, and Lord of the Rings over the years, and last night, we chose Space Opera.

Q-ster wore his increasingly splendid Obi-wan costume, Buster was a sort of baby Jedi, and I wore Jedi business casual (brown hoodie sweater, khaki pants with a light saber handle hanging from my belt.) SwingDaddy wore his Halloween Jango Fett costume until it got too hot, and then placed the helmet and jumpsuit next to the other extraneous costume pieces that were discarded as they got in the way of eating.

The two little girls in attendance came as charming princess/fairy types and immediately seized upon the pink lightsaber as a worthy accessory. As everyone started trying on the Fett helmet, the children took a turn too. I was thrilled at how well they got along and played, running through the playroom and making up their own games.

Side note: Weeks ago, I heard Q-ster saying “Baba Fett,” and I asked, “Do you mean Boba Fett?” who is the bounty hunter son of Jango Fett in the Star Wars universe. He replied in the negative. He distinctly meant Baba Fett (Baba is Chinese for father, which is what he called SwingDaddy until he mastered saying, “Daddy”), because he explained that the rest of the family would be “Mommy Fett, Q-ster Fett, and Buster Fett.” Right.

Without further ado, I present additional members of the Fett Family: Princess Fett and Dainty Fett.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Return of Tufty

Can someone fix my hair?

I have not yet escaped the phenomenon of postpartum hair changes. A few months after Q-ster was born, a passel of new hair emerged on the left side of my hairline, so stubborn and determined to stay vertical that it earned it's own name. Tufty. Eventually, Tufty grew out, and joined the rest of my hair.

Well, it's that time again. Buster is nine months old and Tufty is back, uncooperative as ever.

Anyone have hints? I'm not a hair products girl, but I borrowed some gel from SwingDaddy, and it does no good. I might just have to wait until Tufty is long enough to get with a barrette.

Baby notes: The micro dude has been making "ba-ba-ba-ba" and "da-da-da-da" noises for some time. New ones - "di-di-di-di" (which caused Q-ster to say, "I'm the ge-ge!" (big brother in Chinese, since di-di is little brother)), and this week, the addition of "ma-ma-ma!" We also got a crisp "uh-oh!" this evening.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jedi Old School, Jedi New School

For thirty years, since the first Star Wars movie was released, children around the world have brandished sticks and plastic toys, making lightsaber sounds and pretending to be Jedi. Even on the movie set for the later trilogy, the lead actors were reportedly reminded that the sound effects would be added later, so they should stop making whooshing noises and moving their lips during fights. The fascination remains, but some things have changed.

In 1977, the audience was enthralled with the basic concept of a laser sword. A lot of times, the lightsaber was just moving around in the air- Ben demonstrating or Luke practicing. Thus, the humming, buzzing noises that we made as children.
In the newer movies, the Jedi and enemy Sith engage in many high speed fights, so Q-ster makes a zzzttt, zzzztttt noise when playing, the sound of two sabers clashing in battle. Generationally differentiated, child-made sound effects!
Note: For those who were wondering, most of the little dude’s exposure to Star Wars is from the Lego game, where the action is jolly and cute. He’s seen long segments of Episode I: the Phantom Menace (Jar Jar Binks may be irritating, but he’s funny to kids, plus scenes like the pod race are also very accessible), and several child-friendly pieces of Episode IV (the original movie). The other, more graphic material will wait until he’s older.

When he plays with his preschool buddy K, Q-ster is Obi-wan (young action hero of the Phantom Menace) and his friend is Luke, since the K’s dad started his boys with the original Star Wars. I think the best part of this Star Wars obsession is seeing how much fun and creativity whole families have with all the silliness.

Baby's first lightsaber duel, a few weeks ago. I don't think I've ever seen Buster giggle so much.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Games to Play When You Can Manipulate Your Brother

The boys have a new game where Q-ster dims the lights and shines a flashlight on the carpet. Buster crawls to the circle of light, and once he gets there, his brother moves the light. Lather, rinse, repeat.

“I made up a new game! It’s called Light Chase!”

I took the first picture with flash, so you can barely see the ring of light around the toy block. Tonight Q-ster was playing around with the red and blue flashlights again (like lightsabers!) and I took a few long exposures without flash.

Ah, so much fun with simple toys. And flashlights too, ha!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cognitive Development, Infant Stimulation, and Really Wacky Icons

Buster was distinctly displeased to ride in his car seat last week, so it was time to look for some new travel distractions. I ordered the Car Seat Gallery, which features four clear pockets where we can slide our own photos or use the special 'reversible cards with high contrast graphics' that will certainly make the baby smarter.

The first cards seemed nice and friendly.

This next one looks a little threatening, like spikes.

This one makes me dizzy.

The dog looks like he needs to go into rehab.

Is this some kind of hazardous waste icon?

This one is the worst. I think it's a crying baby who's been clocked in the eye.

I think we'll stick with the happy animals.

Re: Superstars of Dance
The Argentine tango couple rocked it again! So did the American hip hop team. There must have been something extra slippery about the floor for this episode, because there were a lot of slips, but fortunately, no one fell. With the power of fast forward and lowered expectations for the program, I enjoyed this week's show much more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If There’s a Fire, We’re Doomed

But at least the micro dude won’t fall down the stairs. We really need these now that he’s gotten so mobile, but it’s going to take some getting used to the gates. I keep reminding myself that it’s just two years. Just two years and he should be steady and responsible enough to not pitch over and tumble down.

Thank you for your excellent advice on goody bags. Q-ster reported he had a good time at Princess A’s birthday party yesterday, where he wore his Jedi robe, which seems to be a reasonable fit into the princess world. I think I see a Jedi/Princess party in our future.

I had forgotten that being the youngest in the playgroup, Q-ster is at the end of the train of birthday parties, and I can learn from all the other smart moms. Princess A’s mom included this cup filled with treats, among other things, and how can one go wrong with cute sealife?!

I’ve seen on a couple of sites that this is Delurking Week – “lurkers” are those who read but don’t usually comment. I’d love to know if you’re out there reading, so please to say hello! If you don’t want to write your name, you can choose the “anonymous” setting and leave a hint so I know who you are. Of course, if I hear from you regularly, I’m just as thrilled to have you say hi too.

I’ve been meaning to do a contest for months now, so now’s as good a time as any. I’ll send a card good for 50 free photo prints at Snapfish to a randomly selected commenter if he or she would like it. Have a good week!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Very Own Obi-wan

Q-ster's favorite Star Wars character is the young Obi-wan, portrayed by Ewan McGregor. In Episode I, he's an apprentice to Jedi Master Qui-Gon (which is what the little dude calls me, apparently because I have long hair), and part of the apprentice costume includes a long braid.

I made a braid at Q-ster's request a few weeks ago. Since it came from my wig supplies, the color matches my hair instead of his, but he's looking pretty pleased.