Sunday, May 31, 2009

All It Takes Is the Right Motivation

Q-ster has known his letters and letter sounds for a long time, but he hasn’t been super motivated to read books. I think he figures it’s faster for us to read to him, and he’d rather move through the story. Recently, I’ve been encouraging him to sound out everyday things, like exit signs, cereal boxes, engravings on walls, and movie posters, and he’s been more willing to play along.

Yesterday, I found the perfect motivation.

We were playing with his letter puzzles, making a race to fill in the letters matching each picture. We finished all the puzzles, and then he said he wanted to make a word for Obi-wan. He sounded out the name fairly well, followed by Kenobi (which I had to correct slightly, as he guessed it started with a “C”), then Jedi, and then Master. We covered a few more Star Wars character names and paused, satisfied in our quest for knowledge. Or at least niche spellings.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things You Don’t Want to Hear Your Husband Tell Your Son

Much giggling is coming from the living room, where SwingDaddy is playing with boys. I hear him say, “Don’t pop him in the head too hard.”

Is he telling one child not to hit the other one too hard?

Why yes, and it turns out to be a full scale lightsaber battle, with the soft cushy sabers of course. Buster is an active participant, eager to show that he too can play with the big boys. I watch as Q-ster swing his Obi-wan lightsaber at high speed, whirling toward his dad, and then turning to very gently tap his brother’s saber, rewarded by baby peals of laughter.

I’m not sure this is what I had in mind when I thought about family quality time as a newlywed, but I’ll take it.

In case you’re looking for gossipy stuff, I’m at Silicon Valley Moms Blog today, ranting about the pathetic excuses that politicians give as apologies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For You, I’ll Ride the Garlic

Over the holiday weekend, Q-ster and I made a foray to the state’s Only Horticultural Theme Park, where we enjoyed riding inside a giant artichoke, zipping around a car track in 1920’s roadsters (with Q at the wheel), floating through a flower garden, and boarding a choo-choo train.

He really, really wanted to ride in the spinning garlic (horticultural theme, remember, think the Alice in Wonderland tea cups at Disneyland), which is largely a motion sickness opportunity in my mind, but I humored him and we got in. He had a great time, screaming with glee while pressed up against my side, because he wasn’t strong enough to hold on by himself. Meanwhile, I turn-spotted the lampposts outside, managing to keep my insides intact.

Q-ster reported to my sister later, “Mommy thought that she might throwed up, but she didn’t.”

Next, he wanted to ride a rollercoaster, but I was able to truthfully tell him that he was a few inches too short and that we should content ourselves with getting ICEEs instead. Yum.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hero or Zero

With parenting, it’s mysterious and surprising what things will trigger your kids thinking you’re the best in the world to thinking that they’d rather be orphans. Often both at the same time.

Last week, SwingDaddy and I swapped routines for a few evenings. He put Buster to bed, and I put Q-ster to bed instead of the usual opposite. I was feeling quite on top of things – got the little dude through his bath without complaint, brushed teeth, read stories, tucked him in – we were all set.

The next morning, Q-ster comes into our room and says that his diaper leaked and he’s wet. We go into the bathroom, start running the water to get it warm enough for a washcloth, I help him get his pajama pants off, and . . . no diaper. We’d been chatting so chummily through the bedtime routine that we both forgot his overnight diaper.

The following evening, we lay in his bed in the dark (on clean sheets), getting him to wind down, when he asked for a song. We sang “You are my Sunshine” together, followed by “(I love you) A Bushel and a Peck.” I started on a third one, “My Favorite Things,” just making it to “Brown paper packages, tied up with strings,” when he said, “Mom, I’m trying to sleep. And you’re being noisy.”

Sleep well, kiddo.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yes, I Love this Sealife Hat So Much That I’m Making Both Children Wear It

I took the boys on an outing this morning while SwingDaddy participated in a bike race. It never ceases to amaze me when we manage to get out of the house, between diaper and clothing changes for the little one, getting out of pajamas and using the potty for the older one, shoes and hats for everyone, emergency snack preparations, and loading into the car. We had a two-child, entirely meltdown-free adventure. I suppose that statistically, it was bound to happen sometime.

I kind of overdid mouse-work with cutting and pasting on the computer last week, preparing a huge presentation and annual review material, so I’m trying to take it easy over the holiday weekend and let my arms rest. Thus, a short post tonight.

Photos from today of Buster and Q-ster, followed by photos of Q-ster in May 2006.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pretty Much the Awesomest Shirt Ever

At least for this household.

Thanks, Grandma N!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Swim for the Border, Part II

Buster was eyeing our Taco Bell takeout over the weekend and started shaking his head “no” as I offered him another bite of peach-apricot-oatmeal sauce. No, no, no.

Finally, I scooped some of the taco fixings in a spoon, offered it to him, and received a big happy grin in response. I’d completely forgotten how I craved Taco Bell the entire time I was pregnant with “Swimmy” (well, at least the part where I wasn’t nauseated.) And now the micro dude is big enough to ingest his own tacos.

Spoiler warning for Dancing with the Stars finale:
What did you think of the results? I think Gilles was more consistent over the season, but Shawn had great technical skills and grew as a performer over the season. I think the freestyle numbers made a big difference in the voting. Mark choreographed a fast, fun, and difficult number for Shawn, while Gilles and Cheryl did a lot of booty-shaking in their Flashdance routine without much content.

I would guess that Gilles had the lead in popularity before the finale, but the freestyle helped Shawn a lot. There was reportedly less than 1% difference between them in the voting. Overall, it was a great season with surprisingly talented dancers, although to the comedian Jeffrey Ross' point, they weren't stars for the most part. "Dancing with the Vaguely Recognizable?" Ha!

Looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hero Pants

Q-ster loves his Obi-Wan Kenobi costume – gorgeous oatmeal-colored sweater from my parents, thick tan sweatpants, wide brown belt, and long flowing robe with hood. He wore it most of the weekend, which is not uncommon, except that it was 90 degrees on Sunday.

Time for a summer Jedi costume foray. There weren’t any khaki pants in his size at the Carter’s Outlet, my kids clothier of choice, and I despaired of finding something that would keep the little dude from getting heatstroke in this weather.

Finally, I found some tan capris on the girls’ side of the store in a super lightweight fabric. There was a small grosgrain bow on the waistband, but I have scissors and I’m not afraid to use them. I got a size bigger, to account for the shorter length of the capris, pondered the difference between 5 and 5T (the 5’s were larger, but I don’t know what the official sizing difference is. Anyone?), de-bowed them, and the little dude is really happy. Desert Jedi pants.

The entire extended family is now on a search for a top, and hopefully we’ll find something before the next heat wave. My friends, those of you with children that insist on wearing their Princess Aurora or Batman costumes 24/7? I feel for you and I know what you’re going through.

The next few days are shaping up to be a brutal week for television. The two-day finale for Dancing with the Stars (Monday and Tuesday), the two-day finale of American Idol (Tuesday and Wednesday) that I wouldn’t normally watch except that I’ve been drawn into the Adam Lambert circus, so I’ll at least watch highlights, and then the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance (!) on Thursday. I find this enormously stressful, as I don’t like to watch that much TV.

Oh well, I’m sure everyone else has much tougher crosses to bear.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Communication Established!

Buster mastered waving “bye-bye” some time ago, but these last two weeks have added so much. Pointing at things. Gesturing, clapping his hands. I’d been showing him how to clap for ages, and then suddenly he got it. The micro dude was standing in his crib, watching me get ready for his diaper change. I clapped my hands a few times, and then he did too. He realized he was clapping and was so excited that he fell over and smacked his head on the mattress. I ran over and watched him giggle and clap, and roll around, clapping some more.

The latest achievement is the “more” sign. Buster is thrilled and so are we. I hold out another piece of banana and ask him “More or all done?” He gestures his hands together and grins widely, knowing that he is telling us precisely what he wants. Go baby!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tragedy in the Breakroom

I was totally thwarted at work today. I try to bring my own healthy snacks, but I’d already eaten my sandwich and Tupperware of carrots, leaving me with the option of tucking four quarters in my pocket and running down a flight of stairs to the nearest vending machine in the 3rd floor break room.

Skittles? Pretzels? Ah, Doritos! Doritos are deserving of my dollar. I dropped in the coins, pressed the buttons, and the circular dispensing device began to turn. The bag of chips inched forward but stopped just short of dropping down the chute.

Darn it! A colleague saw the predicament and pulled out a dollar. “I want a snack anyway,” he said, inserting the bill. The dispenser started turning, and now there were TWO bags wedged in the open space above the chute. I apologized to him for losing his money as well. Two other fellows tried to tilt and shake the vending machine, but no luck. This was not a day for Doritos.

It’s also a bad sign because our company is in the process of removing the free soda and water fridges (a longtime perk) to replace them with vending machines. I suppose they’ll earn a great return on them if the machines keep eating our change without providing any food or beverages!

And on my way out, I noticed that some of our office lighting has been disabled. I’m sure they’ve come up with some creative way to save more money and energy, but I hope we’re not supposed to work in the dark. Ah, the ways to combat the recession get only more interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I’m Not Planning to do for my High School Reunion

Did you read the story about the woman who sent a stripper to impersonate her at her high school reunion? She’s a comedy writer and made a documentary about the adventure, which sounds highly entertaining, since the process even included coaching “Cricket” through an earpiece.

I’m not going to my reunion this summer, because it’s right after BlogHer and there’s not enough reason for me to travel two weeks in a row. I have a few friends who I’d like to see, but I think we’d have a better time getting together for dinner the next time I’m in town rather than conversing in a noisy hotel ballroom with a few hundred people that I probably don’t remember.

I’m not sending a stripper either. Did you have fun at your high school reunion or did you skip it?

P.S. If any of you watched American Idol tonight, my high school appeared briefly in Adam Lambert’s hometown visit. He didn’t attend my school, but apparently lived in the general area. My parents enjoy the show, and I’ve been following Adam’s progress since he delivered that amazing rendition of Mad World.
Photo credit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sleep Deprivation, Old School

While comparing old war stories at the office today, I recalled a few tales from my consulting days. I worked for the Firm when I was first dating SwingDaddy, and our days were crazy, 80-100 hours a week. We were all in our early twenties and no one had children or family, which made it possible to spend all our time at work. This was not without consequence, however.

One fellow woke up in his car, driving a hundred miles an hour on interstate 101.

Another day, I was attempting to walk through a doorway and I missed, hitting the wall so hard that I bounced and fell to the ground.

I remember Mother’s Day, after dinner at our desks on a Sunday night, I could hear each of my colleagues quietly making a phone call. “Hi Mom.”

I told the next story in the early days of this blog, but I’ll repeat it since few of you were reading my posts back then:

Our project manager would go to Costco weekly to stock the team snack cabinet, since food kept us at our desks longer.

Everyone had a favorite snack. The DBA loved Rice Krispy treats; the architects consumed buckets of Red Vines; animal crackers disappeared by the pound. My item on the shopping list was Martinelli's apple juice in little glass apple-shaped bottles.

One afternoon, Ms. Manager arrived with my case of apple juice in regular bottles. "This will not do!" I wailed. "They have to be apple-shaped bottles!"

I can't believe I actually said that to my boss. And even more, I can't believe that she didn’t fire me. She spluttered and apologized and promised that she'd "do better next time."

We were soooo tired and sleep deprived that management was afraid we'd all quit. The Firm bribed us with snacks; these days, the baby bribes me with cuteness. No fear of quitting here!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Becoming Totally Hopeless

I’ll often play with Q-ster, wielding a lightsaber with one arm while holding the baby with the other. It takes a bit of balance and arm strength, but it keeps both boys occupied and happy. It’s getting harder to do, since Buster is 22 pounds now, so I have an alternate strategy when I’m tired and need two arms to hold him.

“Force hands.” Like when the Emperor shoots lightning at Luke (or Mace Windu, in the photo above) or the Jedi use the Force to push an object away. Q-ster loves the idea and it keeps us in the game when Buster is too fussy to put down.

Last night, I was “using the Force” against Q-ster’s lightsaber and making the accompanying crackling noises when the baby stretched out his tiny hand, flexed his palm and went “zzzt, zzzt!” to the best of his ability.

Baby Force hands. Great. I’m setting such a good example for my children.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Priorities of a Mama

I hope you had a great Mother’s Day. We had a lovely brunch with family and a dinner grilled by SwingDaddy, and I made a bunch of baby food, changed diapers, and played lightsabers in between. All in all, a highly satisfactory day. Life is different than it used to be, but it’s good.

I was cleaning the trunk of my car this afternoon, mostly to stay occupied while keeping an eye on the little dude as he scampered around the yard, and sorted through the emergency supplies that I stashed five years ago when we bought the car.

Not the shiny new survival kit accompanied by diapers and wipes – this was old stuff, like old sneakers and sweats, in case the car broke down and I need to hike or change a tire. A blanket, in case someone was suffering from cold. Ballet slippers. You know, because back in those days, one of the worst emergencies I could imagine was being somewhere with an opportunity to dance and not have dance shoes.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Much Cuteness in the Star Wars Universe

I watched The Clone Wars movie with SwingDaddy tonight to get caught up with the latest in Q-ster’s imaginings. The storyline and lack of subtlety was definitely aimed at a young age group, but it was still a pretty enjoyable movie. The teenaged Jedi apprentice, Ashoka, had some good lines.

Anakin (with sarcasm): So, what’s your plan?
Ashoka: I’m the one with the enthusiasm. You’re the one with experience.

Much of the plot revolves around carrying a rescued baby Hutt (tucked inside Ashoka’s backpack in the picture), which they manage to make kind of appealing.

I’m trying to encourage Q-ster to draw more, so I was poking around to look for art tutorials and found a delightful children’s page. Featured topics include:

Chewbacca as a hand-drawn cartoon.

Death Star arts and crafts! (It's a pinata.)

And if Darth Vader and Darth Maul were Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) stars, this is what they’d wear.

I guess there’s just no end to the Star Wars universe.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

One Thousand and One Lady M Nights

I’ve written one thousand posts before this one. Tonight is 1001. It’s just a number, but I like numbers, and this is a particularly nice one for someone who’s telling stories.

I got brave and sent in my submission for the BlogHer Community Keynote – a little ditty on how Jedi don’t pick their noses. It’s a bit short compared to the readings last year, but it can’t hurt to try. If I was writing that post today, I’d have to add “we don’t talk about poop at the dinner table” to the list of unexpected and repeated phrases in my updated mama vocabulary.

Here are a few pictures from the park, during an outing with SwingDaddy and Grandma W tonight. I look at my boys and feel like my heart is in motion.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Little, Teeny, Tiny

I didn’t think it was possible for a four year old to sit so still and patiently put these tiny pieces of Lego together.

Edited to add: Did you watch Dancing with the Stars last night? I've been loving Ty's charm, but this was his week to go home. Poor Lil Kim!

Monday, May 04, 2009

By Fans For Fans

I’m a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings – the books from my childhood and the the films by Peter Jackson. SwingDaddy and I have read the entire story out loud, which took us over a year, back when we were first dating, and have all the DVDs, both theatrical and extended releases. I think I watched every last special feature, including commentaries, while nursing Q-ster. So, we’re pretty big fans.

This weekend, we learned of some truly obsessive fans. Fans with mad skillz.

The Hunt for Gollum
is a 40 minute fan film made by an all-volunteer cast and crew, and it looks astoundingly good. The director spent less than six thousand dollars, because among those volunteers were fine actors, prosthetics builders, costume designers, chainmail makers, and an army of digital effects experts. The story is taken from parts of Tolkein’s work not filmed by Jackson – Aragorn’s search for Gollum just prior to the action in LOTR- and was shot in gorgeous forests in Wales and England.

I saw a review (the page is now down, so I can’t link, unfortunately) comment that the legal disclaimer (not for profit, internet-only release, not affiliated with Tolkein estate or Peter Jackson or Weta or New Line Cinema or so on and so forth . . .) was probably longer than the script, and I’m glad that a bunch of people who love the tale could come together to do such amazing work in this day and not get sued.

We had a little download problem yesterday since there was a lot of traffic on release day, but the first half looked terrific and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest tomorrow. Check out The Hunt for Gollum.

And by the way, Happy Star Wars Day! "May the 4th" be with you.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Buster’s first haircut. Look at the little naked baby neck!

Buster’s first shoes. When we put them on, he insisted on crawling for a while, because they must have felt so funny. Then he crawled his way over to his walker, stood up and pushed it around for a while to practice. Clever boy!

Q-ster’s first ride in a little tiny plane (with Granddad B and SwingDaddy). They had a good time! Although the word “Experimental” painted over the door does not make a mama’s heart rest easy.