Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If Only I Dressed Them Better

On a weekend adventure earlier this month, the boys and I discovered an artful alley that had been decorated to look like it’d been there a few hundred years instead of circa 2006.

If only I dressed the children in classic clothes. I could have made Christmas cards from the images of them in crisp linens by these ‘ancient’ doors. Oh well, we are strictly a Carter’s shop around here- all the better to withstand Pinkberry frozen yogurt stains without fear.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Indy Gear

Q-ster has starting slinging one of SwingDaddy’s old belts over one shoulder to look like Indiana Jones, who always carries a satchel for his tools and treasures. I’ve promised him that we’ll make an Indy bag this weekend and have found, a very thorough resource for the truly intense among fans who want to look like their hero.

I’m just hoping that the little dude doesn’t pass out from heatstroke as he scampers about in his many layers, topped by his khaki adventure vest and hat in the July weather.

Random BlogHer tidbits:

1) We learned from the expert at the Method suite that he uses rubbing alcohol instead of bleach to clean in the kitchen, which is just as effective for cleanliness, but less dangerous since it evaporates. (Mind you, I haven’t done any research to confirm this, but it was interesting.) Plus, he said to never put cutting boards in the dishwasher after you’ve used them for meats, as the heat of the water is insufficient to kill germs and it just ends up spreading them everywhere.

Method did a cute job with their suite. They made good use of the space most other vendors ignore – the bathroom! Their soaps, cleaners, and shower scrubs looked perfectly correct there.

2) Kleenex should sponsor the Community Keynote, leaving a box of tissues on every table. Seriously, there was so much amazing writing that I was both thrilled to be in the company of such writers and emotionally exhausted by the material. Next year, I hope they choose more short/funny and fewer long/tearjerkers, because two hours of readings were tough at the end of a long day.

3) We shared an elevator with Carson Kressley! He was so funny and knowledgeable on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I didn’t interrupt his texting, since he was probably getting a moment of peace between his conference appearances. Megan Smith’s interview with Carson is here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Now That's A Jellyfish

No, that’s not a Photoshopped image. It’s a diver next to a Nomura’s jellyfish, which can grow to 6 feet in diameter and 450 pounds. A massive pack (Herd? Flock? SwingDaddy and I whimsically decided that since they are now called “jellies” by scientific types because they aren’t fish, we could say “a gift basket of jellies.”) is threatening the fishing industry in Japan.

My type of jellyfish tends to run to the plush, like these sweet creatures, surrounded by other soft friends.

BlogHer tidbit of the day: Apparently, I have a purposeful walk. So much so that people will follow me, even if I have no idea where I’m going. This probably irritated my sister to no end, as she’d start walking in my direction before she noticed we were going the wrong way and would have to redirect me . . . all weekend long. Good thing she kept me from getting lost.

At one point, I strode off the elevator and a lady asked, “Do you work here?” which I would have understood had I been in a suit, but I was wearing a tank top and wrap. I guess it’s all about presence sometimes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reflections on Chicago

I need to get some Company work done tonight, so reflections on BlogHer '09 will have to wait until later. In the meantime, here are some photos of Cloud Gate (also know as the “Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park. In the second photo, you can see my sister and me as tiny figures dressed in red/pink, reflected in the center of the Bean.

For a stunning image of the same, see Karen Walrond’s post. By the way, I totally have a blog crush on her. Her writing, photography, and exquisite well-spoken-ness just amaze me.

Also, three cheers for Contador, Lance Armstrong, and Team Astana for their success at the Tour de France. 3rd place is pretty amazing for Lance’s return after three years of retirement. We have admired and supported both his cycling triumphs and his work with cancer survivorship projects for many years.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'll Be the One with the Orange Guy

If you’re at BlogHer, this is me with Mayberry Mom and Japanese Fruit Friend in San Francisco. I’ll have JFF with me for easy identification.

If you’re not at BlogHer, here’s a story from last year’s event – the Ludicrous Microwave Acquisition of 2008, which followed the Great Breast Pump Debacle. My, oh my, I hope that the Sheraton does better than the Westin.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Children Are Trying to Make Me Cry

The blogosphere is flooded with anxiety-laden posts this week about what to wear, how to prepare, what to bring and how to not be an outcast at BlogHer. Her Bad Mother puts it into perspective by pointing out that given this is a conference of people who spend a lot of time on the internet, it is “a gathering of people who are disproportionately more likely than other members of society to have limited social skills and so who should not be even remotely socially threatening.”

Where does that leave me? I think it means that I’m so socially inept that I don’t even know that I should be nervous.

Anyhow, that leaves me to ask the important questions. Not “What are you wearing?” or “What kind of cards did you have printed?” or “What important parties are you attending?”

No, no. What snacks are you bringing?

I’m totally rocking the “sleep eight consecutive hours” and “eat lots of snacks without sharing with tiny little people” vibe at BlogHer, and I hope to meet lots of you there. After the Great Breast Pump Debacle of 2008 (more on that tomorrow), I think we’re due for a more relaxed event this year.

I traveled a lot when Q-ster was a baby, but I don’t think I’ve been away from Buster for more than 24 hours since he was born. I cuddled him long after he’d fallen asleep, inhaling the sweet baby smell. Then I joined Q-ster in his room, where he proceeded to tell me, “I’ll miss you so much! I love you! Have a good time with Auntie O! I’ll miss you! Have fun in Chicago! Can I go to Chicago someday? I’ll miss you!”

I sniffled and kissed him good-night. I’ll miss all three of my boys.

Right after I get that full night’s sleep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Theatrically Complicated One

We attended the beautiful wedding of our friends this weekend, one where as a mere guest (and dancer/skit participant), I had three costume changes.

The happy couple looked so lovely. Check out the bride’s late nineteenth century-esque gown! Pardon the odd cropping - this it the only photo I’ve seen so far that shows the front of the gown unobscured by the bouquet.

They sang their vows, many different sets of friends performed dances, and following their choreographed first dance (a mazurka waltz), a panel of judges critiqued it “Dancing with the Stars”-style. I played Carrie Ann Inaba. I think that even the newts-and-trampolines wedding met its match in creativity.

Q-ster was disappointed that I left home for the event in ordinary clothes, because he wanted to see my costumes, so the next day, I pulled out one of the evening gowns to show him. He insisted I put it on, so I did, twirled around, and he was satisfied.

Photo credits: Mr. E and Super Video Guy

Monday, July 20, 2009

Certainly It Will Be Delicious

What are they doing?

Waiting for Pinkberry to open. They’ve never heard of Pinkberry before or even had frozen yogurt, but they can tell from the hushed, reverent voices of others that this will be good stuff.

We share a small passionfruit and coconut swirl. I am certain that the portion is too big, but the boys make short work of it, and I help too.

Next, we are mesmerized by a fountain.

And Q-ster attempts to make friends with the resident (brass) lizard.

All in all, a pleasant outing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Actual Educational Value Demonstrated

Q-ster’s preschool artwork used to come back with his name scrawled in his own handwriting, but I noticed that his summer session teachers have been writing his name for him. I told him that he could tell his teachers that he could do it himself, and then we practiced writing it a few times just to be sure.

He expanded the number of letters that he writes well when he decided to conquer writing “Obi-wan Kenobi,” so I thought I’d see if he’d be up for another challenge.

“Can you write Buster’s name?”

“No,” he replied. Then he lifted his head, and and before I could get him to sound it out, I saw the wheels spinning in his brain. “Oh! The stool!” He ran to the playroom, where we keep the two wooden footstools sent by Aunt RuggerMom, decorated with puzzle pieces spelling out the boys’ names.

Q-ster returned triumphantly and recited, “B-U-S-T-E-R!”

Making good use of tools, the boy is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Short Attention Span Theatre

Last weekend I wrote a mini-biography for my high school reunion, an event I’m missing because I’m choosing BlogHer instead. Twenty years in 650 characters.

It was an interesting exercise, getting the story that tight. I had one sentence for my college experience, since that would have been the last thing most would remember from our school days. Second sentence for my career. Another for meeting my husband and our dance activities. And my closing bit:

I currently live in (town), where I chase our two boys around the house, stage mock light saber duels, and write for the parenting blog community.

And that was all I had room for. I paid $25 to receive the “non-attendee reunion booklet” so I can see everyone else’s 650 characters too. I’m definitely curious and looking forward to reading it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Totally Participating in the PR Blackout

Apparently, "the blogosphere is abuzz with the news that MomDot has proposed a week-long PR blackout in August." The angle is that Mom Bloggers are doing too much, getting wrapped up in giveaways, product reviews, and sponsored trips. The cure?

A week where bloggers “do not blog ANY giveaways, ANY reviews, and Zero press releases. In fact, we don’t want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week” and instead write about their personal lives.

Imagine that! I need to jump on that bandwagon. (haha)

CityMama wrote about the kerfluffle, pointing out that “If you are doing too much and feeling burnt out, is it really PR’s fault? PR people are not your boss. YOU are your boss.”

Exactly, which is why I almost always reply to pitches with a friendly “no thanks.” I seldom have the patience to write a review or organize a giveaway. The last review sample I accepted was for frozen organic toddler food (Peas of Mind), and it was so good that I went and spent my own money on additional portions, but I still haven’t written the darn review for the Full Mommy.

So finally, here’s a blogosphere event in which I can participate – a blackout of stuff I don’t usually do anyway. It's like being trendy for free!

In other news, I checked the TV schedules of my favorite shows, and it’s looking perfect. The next season of America’s Best Dance Crew begins the week So You Think You Can Dance ends. And Dancing With the Stars begins the week ABDC ends. The fall season of SYTCTD is supposedly meant to transition the show to an autumn schedule, which will hopefully mean that it’ll return to being a one season per year show. I love dance, but there’s only so much dance reality TV that even I can take.

Any favorite routines from SYTYCD tonight? Travis Wall choreographed a great first number. We also loved Ade and Janette together in their Nappytabs routine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another One Joins the Game

A couple of years ago, I started playing a game with Q-ster on outings where I’d find something on the ground that was in the direction in which I wanted us to travel. For instance, a maintenance hole cover or a sign painted on the asphalt. I’d encourage him to run over and step on it, which was an improvement over arguing over the trajectory of every footstep on our path.

When he became older and amenable to bribes, it wasn’t necessary to plot our course so intensely, but the game returned this weekend, as I was trying to direct Buster on our stroll. He’s a little too young to really get it, but he saw his brother and me put our feet on a decorative grate and he did his best to participate too.

The photo idea is from the ever crafty LJC, who suggests placing your feet in photos of ground landmarks, to make them more interesting.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dropping the Coolness Factor by a Thousand Levels

Q-ster, upon catching a brief glimpse of some street-swaggering hip hop dancers on YouTube doing a crotch-grabbing, pelvis-shaking move:

“Why are they doing the potty dance? Do they need to go potty?”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Fourth Sweetest Word

Is Mama!

(The first three being “I love you,” that is.)

We had a word explosion today. In addition to the longtime “uh-oh” and recent “ge-ge” (big brother), Buster added, “ma-ma” and “nah-nah” (banana) today. I’m pretty sure we also got a “ba-ba” (daddy) and “bao-bao” (hug) too.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

We Hit the Jackpot

Some friends who are expecting their first baby are stopping by this weekend to visit and pick up some of the gear that Buster has outgrown. I’m always a little surprised at how happy people are to get our old baby things, but tonight the tables were turned and I was reminded why. Timing is everything.

We ran a dance rehearsal to prepare for our friends’ wedding, and along with having a lovely mini reunion with friends, we were the recipients of the motherlode of hand-me-down books that were no longer wanted by another dancer’s teenaged sons.

If the first picture wasn’t clear enough, let’s look at some of them more closely.

Q-ster is going to be jumping up and down when he sees these! SwingDaddy and I have decided it would be wise to ration the Star Wars hoard and reveal them one per week.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It's Been That Kind of Day

or week or month.

I slept through a meeting today. To be fair, it was a 9pm meeting with a team overseas, so it wasn't during the regular workday, but still. I fell asleep while putting Q-ster to bed and completely missed the call.

Work is really nutty for both SwingDaddy and me right now. I was supposed to deliver a massive project presentation two days before BlogHer, and it’s now been moved to the following week. I’m glad to have a few extra days to work on it, but now it’ll be hanging over me through BlogHer.

Just need to get through the next couple of weeks of work and personal commitments and hope that we get rest time in August.

In other news, we’ve had the pleasure of a brief visit from SwingDaddy’s sister, RuggerMom. She captured this image of Q-ster hanging from a tree in our front yard, a grand total of one foot off the ground, but we’ll consider it tree climbing for his sake.

Q-ster’s been fascinated with trees since a conversation I had with him last weekend while I was consoling him from some small injury. He asked if I’d ever been hurt as a child, and I said that once I fell out of a tree I was climbing. I explained that I had the wind knocked out of me, but the part that must have stuck with him was . . . hey, you can climb trees! Way to go, Mommy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Brilliant Childcare Planning

I heard on the radio last week: The hot place to have date night is IKEA. You drop off the kids in the supervised Smaland play area, head to the restaurant and eat Swedish food while relaxing with your spouse. Maybe you’ll even find a nice lamp or sofa to take home too.

What a brilliant idea! This is on par with the moms who join a gym so that they can take a shower in peace while their toddlers play in the gym child care room. Clever, clever thinking.

Check out this silly song by Jonathan Coulton, titled IKEA in the Funny Songs category.

Long ago in days of yore
It all began with a god named Thor
There were Vikings and boats
And some plans for a furniture store

Monday, July 06, 2009

Stompy Stomp

I took Buster for a stroll over the weekend and he had a good time stomping around at his own pace.

He’s not quite tall enough for this fountain, so I had to pick him up to let him splash. No pictures of that, obviously.

He did a good job of picking up every single leaf within a mile radius and carefully placing it in my hand. There were so many that I started putting the leaves down on the other side of my chair, but unfortunately, he wandered around to that side and picked them all up again, one by one, and handed them back to me.

Saw this headline: July is the Perfect Time to Start Crafting for Christmas. My head hurts just to read that. Maybe another year, or another lifetime.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Benefit of Boys

Insert picture of faces aglow in the light of their first fireworks show! If only Mommy had decided to take the camera out of the car . . .

Insert video of little giggly laughs from Buster who was celebrating both the Fourth of July with “Yay!” cheers and the delight of having his car seat turned around so that he can face forward now.

Anyhow, sometimes it’s more important to enjoy the moment than document it in pixels.

Q-ster has been playing around with simple math lately and will say things like, “When I’m six years old, Buster will be three years old.” Then he’ll work his way up the number chain. “When I’m 7, Buster will be 4,” and so forth.

We’re pleased with his interest, and I told him that he’d be good at math, like his mom and dad. Math is fun!

Boys have some things harder. For instance, I believe acceptable gender roles are a lot more flexible for girls these days. But in that moment, it was SO nice to be able to talk to him about math with no agenda. I’m not gearing him up to battle a world that will tell him that he can’t do math, which is what many girls face.

A much sillier example of the benefit of boys: Receiving the jewelry that Q-ster makes at preschool. He brought home all sorts of crafts for the Fourth of July – a hat, tambourine, flag, songs - and gave me the bracelet. “For you!”

Friday, July 03, 2009

Willpower Tested

Over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog today, I wrote about the powerful lure of “FREE! FREE!” when faced with swag at BlogHer and how I’m trying to only take post-it pads and USB memory keys this year.

I ended up having a test run today when I attended a conference for work. I did fairly well – bringing home one USB memory key, one re-usable fabric shopping bag, and a new addition to my ok-list: a tiny spray bottle of hand sanitizer. All logo’d squeeze balls, baseball hats, cardboard airplanes, and oversized t-shirts were left at their respective vendor tables. Whew!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Was That Really the Luck of the Draw?

So You Think You Can Dance is hitting its stride for the season and there were some really terrific choreographies and performances tonight.

Clever, clever quickstep (which is often a disaster) for Vitolio and Karla, delightful Broadway for Evan and Randi, and Nappytabs’s hip hop literally chained Philip and Janine together. We loved the chain number, but due to the difficulty of the prop, the execution suffered. Assuming the dancers make it to the top ten, the number will look terrific on tour, after some more practice opportunities.

I’ve become quite fond of Melissa and Ade, and their pas de deux was great tonight, even if Ade’s turnout was imperfect when running around carrying Melissa over his head. I have to wonder though, what are the odds of the sole classical ballerina “randomly drawing” the one classical ballet piece this season?

Host Cat Deeley is blogging for Entertainment Weekly, so perhaps she’ll tell all.

(Photo of Melissa and Ade's latin dance from last week, since I don't see any ballet pix from this week yet.)

More non-sequitur theater: When I got home from work yesterday, I found Q-ster running around the living room playing "basketball" with imaginary friends Padme and Anakin while singing "Get'cha Head in the Game." A Star Wars/High School Musical mashup!