Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This One Had a Rowboat

A month and a half later, I’m finally getting around to writing about the Logistically Complicated Wedding, and the unexpected bonus is that I’ve mostly forgotten the irritations of the travel path and only recall the spectacularly good time we had.

It was a bit chilly on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington State, and more than one of us remarked that it was too bad the local craft was pottery instead of knitting. I would certainly have ponied up for a thick handmade sweater. Fortunately, the groom, Surfer Dude, had consulted the farmer’s almanac in selecting the weekend with the best chance of good weather, and the sun shone brightly for the wedding itself.

We taught a dance lesson following the rehearsal dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the two families and assorted friends meet each other as they rotated around the circle, changing dance partners. It’s been a while since we’ve had a class of (mostly) true beginners, which was so rewarding as teachers. With no babysitting deadline, we relaxed and danced, and felt really alive again. Music and movement and friendship do that.

The bride and groom had asked us to DJ the post-rehearsal gathering at the last minute, so we’d grabbed the MDs we’d compiled for our own wedding, exactly eleven years prior to theirs, and played tunes for an hour or so. The funny thing was, every time SwingDaddy would pick a track, I’d say, “I LOVE that song!” Well, yeah. Of course I love that song – because we selected each one that was on the disc.

Like the Theatrically Complicated wedding couple, Surfer Dude and Surfer Gal devised a creatively beautiful event. All the guests walked from the outdoor ceremony around the bay to the reception hall, where we stood on the deck and watched the newlyweds approach by rowboat, paddling in synchrony. What a perfect way to launch a lifetime partnership.

And of course, they went surfing for their honeymoon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Closet More Ridiculous Than Mine

We watched 27 Dresses over the weekend. It made my Netflix list purely because I wanted to see the dresses, but it was a lot more enjoyable than expected. Katherine Heigl was really likable as an optimistic and generous friend who has been a bridesmaid and wedding organizer for twenty-seven friends, and I’ve loved James Marsden in everything I’ve seen.

(Spoiler alert. I mean, it’s a spoiler if you’ve lived on another planet your whole life and don’t realize that the guy who gets top billing in a romantic comedy is Mr. Right.) As Marsden noted in an interview, his movie characters are always in love triangles, and this is the first one where he gets the decisive win. His Cyclops/Scott was favored by Jean Grey over Wolverine, but he didn’t survive it for long; his prince in Enchanted was jilted for Patrick Dempsey; and his character in The Notebook wasn’t chosen one either (I haven’t seen that one, so I’ll have to trust IMDB.)

Here are a few of the fabulous and/or frightening frocks that Heigl wears as a bridesmaid.

The Gone with the Wind themed wedding.

The Goth wedding (love the spiked collar!)

The Indian-Jewish wedding.

The inexplicable wedding.

Click here to see the other 23 dresses.

Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance were on simultaneously this evening, which made for an interesting viewing experience. I pulled up the live blogs from some east coast fans to help decide when to change channels, managed to see the good parts and skip the filler.

A highlight was seeing the great new dance space they’ve built specifically for DWTS – 6 large adjoining studios, which lets everyone rehearse in close proximity and camaraderie. The facility is not quite complete, so it’s funny to see a show that’s frequently ranked number one in nationwide viewers, bringing in millions of dollars in ad revenues, yet playing music off cheap plastic boom boxes in their glamorous rehearsal space.

Monday, September 28, 2009

No Babies Here

I no longer have a baby. No one to wear the sealife hat anymore.

A tiny, tiny part of me is sad.

But the boys just keep getting better and better.

Over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog, I’m sharing a few thoughts on things to do in the Bay Area: The 49ers, the Opera, and the Black and White Ball.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mythos Lives On

At not quite a year and a half old, the child is already on the path to pop culture fandom. This morning, Buster put on his dad’s hat and started humming the tune to Indiana Jones. Doot doot doot-doot!

Q-ster expressed interest in having the boys be Jedi Masters together for Halloween. He would be Obi-wan, of course, and his little brother should be Yoda, a height-appropriate character.

I checked out a Baby Yoda costume at Party City, and it must not be the same as the one pictured here, because it was terrible. For twenty dollars, you get a crummy green headband with ears, and a few scraps of brown polyester for a robe. I couldn’t bear to buy it.

It’s definitely going to cost more than twenty dollars of my time, but I think I’m going to make a Yoda ear hat for Buster. He likes hats anyway, so we have a reasonable chance of him wearing it.

A little web research turned up a crocheted Yoda hat (definitely worth a click to see the expression of the baby wearing it - scroll down towards the bottom of the page), a paper hat, and a fleece hat. I have enough leftover green fleece from the lightsabers to hack something together. How hard can it be? Famous last words, my little green friends!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My First Business Letter, Age 8

My mom unearthed this collection of “flipout books” last week while we were visiting, and they brought back such memories. When I was little, I would buy them with allowance money at the elementary school library. The little packets covered one topic and unfolded into long panels with a picture and details. They were just the right size and price - originally 35 cents and later as much as 50 cents – for a grade schooler to enjoy making independent choices and having purchasing power.

I probably bought the Horses (Clydesdale, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, etc) booklet first, followed by Dogs (Great Dane, German Shepherd, Poodle), dinosaurs, and many others. The Flags booklet was my favorite, and it’s an amusing revisit with so many of the nations in new forms – like the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany.

One day, we learned from Mrs. Crawford, the librarian’s assistant, that the flipbooks line had been discontinued, and there would be no more arriving to the library shop. I was crushed. A schoolmate and I were actually motivated enough to write our very first business letter, cursive on three ring hole punched lined paper, to tell the company how much we liked their product.

And what success we had! They sent us their remaining stock for free.

Never underestimate the power of a letter. Especially from children.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Life of Pseudonyms

FourthBreakfast, Auntie Fafa, KK, and I met LJC (left) for dinner last night while she was in town for a conference. So fun! And such really good banana caramel crisp for dessert. I brought her a tiny plush wasabi to go with the pink momo from a few years ago. Anthropomorphic Japanese food toys are the cutest.

One of the many topics was weddings, since Auntie Fafa is newly engaged, and I bemoaned how I was married in the dark ages, with photos on film. LJC, being a Kodak expert, reassured me that film is still considered the best archival method, so I feel much better about it. I just need to scan more of the pictures so I can find them easily!

Unrelated: A couple of days ago, Buster got ahold of a spoon and approached me rapidly. He opened his mouth very wide, and then tried to put the spoon in MY mouth. I suppose that’s what he sees us doing all the time!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Round Window

Nothin' like a good game of peekaboo!

In a token gesture towards the quarterly emergency preparedness post, here's a link to affordable ways to prepare for the worst.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Best Toy Ever

My parents found this most excellent plush tiger, known as a Pillow Chum. He folds up to sit like a regular stuffed animal, but even better, he unfolds into a comfy rug. Both the boys adored it. Buster would throw himself backwards on the tiger, luxuriating in the fuzziness, and Q-ster would crawl underneath, pretending to have been eaten.

There was such competition for the tiger that we thought we had driven four hundred sixty miles to go . . . to Costco, to get a second tiger. I believe that Ama and Agu have stocked up on Pillow Chums in preparation for Christmas.

Q-ster continues to expand the number of words he says. He bounced on the tiger, saying “Boing!” He also seems to have developed a German accent for his new vocabulary. He was quite upset that he’d spilt a bit of his dinner on the tray and demanded “Vipe! Vipe!” for us to wipe up the mess.

Some pop culture updates:

Adam Shankman is getting upgraded from guest judge to resident judge on So You Think You Can Dance. I’m impressed with his comments and critique, so I think it’s a good thing, although I don’t know if they’re going to continue having guest judges. Four judges = too much talking.

There are five hours of Dancing with the Stars and two hours of So You Think You Can Dance on TV this week. This is more television than I can handle. Ack!

For those who missed it,:
Neil Patrick Harris’ opening song at the Emmy Awards ("Put Down the Remote").
Dr. Horrible hijacks the Emmy’s.
And from a few months ago, NPH’s closing number at the Tony’s.
Brilliant, all of them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Road Again

Inexplicably, I'm a big fan of Neil Patrick Harris. I was trying to figure out why, since I never watched Doogie Howser and haven't yet seen his current show. Maybe I saw some clips of his Broadway musical theater work? Certainly, I adored him in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

In any case, I'm bummed to miss his hosting and singing, plus Katee and Joshua (from So You Think You Can Dance), in tonight's Emmy broadcast. We'll be driving from my parents' house back home, and hopefully the boys will be as sleepily cooperative as they were on the drive down.

I'll have to settle for watching Neil sing about shoes on Sesame Street (great clip, if you haven't seen it before.)

In other news, I prepared Q-ster for his first trip to a football game today by setting expectations. In spite of singing basketball team in High School Musical and the singing baseball team in High School Musical 2, he should not expect the NFL players to sing during their game. "Why not?" sez he.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clothing Size Fail

I do NOT understand children’s sizing. The helpful clerk at the Carter’s Outlet explained that the sizes run 3T-4T-5T and then it goes back to 4 and 5? Is this true?

Is there some kind of proportion change, like maybe the toddler sizes are for the chubbier kids before they start elongating into preschoolers? It used to be so easy to find clothes for the little dude, and now I’m picking the wrong sizes. Someone help please!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Big Brother Was Right

We were getting ready for an outing last week, and I put Buster in a cute top with red sealife embroidery. I pulled out the matching blue overalls, and Q-ster said “Buster doesn’t like overalls.”

Huh? The outfit was actually a hand-me-down from Q-ster himself, so this was the first time that I’d tried it on the micro dude.

Tried was the operating word. I tried to put the overalls on Buster. In the face of heavy opposition, I put him back in his crib to chill, while I packed our snacks. Then I brought the overalls back to him and immediately generated high volume wailing.

“Buster DOESN'T LIKE overalls!” Q-ster said. Perhaps he’d seen a similar scene with our nanny?

To test the theory, I would bring the outfit close to Buster, and the noise would increase. I put them down on the sofa, and he quieted. This made no sense at all, but eventually, I bowed to reality, retrieved a pair of regular shorts from the dresser, and he let me put them on him right away.

I guess Q-ster was right. Buster doesn’t like overalls. Good thing he’s got an observant older brother, even if mom is slow on the uptake.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I’ve Gone Overboard, Haven’t I?

Now and again, I see a tiny cute dress and think that it would be fun to dress a little girl. It’s a passing thing, because little boy clothes are really darling, and I think someone needs to stop me before I spoil the kids rotten.

Is this too much?

A brown corduroy coat from Old Navy, perfect for a small Indiana Jones.

Boots from Target, just right for a Jedi in training.

I’m torn between saving them for Christmas and wondering if the craze will last until then.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh, Patrick. And Gaga and Kermit

Rest in Peace, Patrick Swayze.

Dirty Dancing was one of the movies that made me want to learn how to dance, and I remember watching it so many times. The music to Time of My Life still makes me smile when I hear it.

Did anyone else watch the MTV Video Music Awards? I haven’t cared in years, but I’d actually seen a bunch of the nominated videos this time, so we tuned in to see some entertaining performances like Taylor Swift singing on the subway from 42nd street to Radio City Music Hall, Pink doing real trapeze work, and Lady Gaga doing whatever it is that she does. Here’s a collage of her costumes from just the one evening.

Plus her date, Kermit, who gave her a kiss as she left their limousine. This helps a bit to remove the disturbing image of her Kermit-puppet-dress from earlier this year (warning - if you're squeamish about plush, don't click).

Gaga is bizarre, but certainly fearless.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Think You Know How This Will End

One of the nice things about walking with young children is they notice things I would normally miss while striding down the street in my normal hurry. We enjoyed a local art festival today, and the highlights were varied.

The boys were intrigued by this sculpture. “Ball!” sez Buster.

We read the plaque: “Back of Snowman.” Um, ok.

Q-ster and I have made a tradition of getting roasted corn when we’re at outdoor markets, but now we need to buy two ears. He gets his own and I share with his little brother.

Hey, give me my corn back!


Buster was determined to get himself a balloon. He pointed at every decorative balloon (“Ball!”) the entire morning, until we finally found a booth (Yay, police department!) that gave him one. I tried to tie it to his wrist to keep it from floating off, but he wasn’t having any of it. I ended up tying a loop and slipping it over my wrist, which did the trick until he noticed and starting wailing at glass-shattering levels.

I took the ribbon off my wrist and tried to slip it over his. Screams. I put it back on my wrist. More screams. At this point, his older brother was starting to tear up because he was so stressed from the scene. I handed the ribbon over to Buster and figured that the point of tying the balloon was to prevent screaming when he let go and it floated away, but if he’s screaming anyway, at least we’ll get five to ten seconds of peace first.

We started walking back to the car, Q-ster holding a small bag of kettle corn and Buster clutching the ribbon to his balloon, swerving around, drunken pirate-like, as toddlers are wont to do. I watched his hand on the unsecured balloon carefully.

You think you know how this story ends. I certainly thought I did.

But no, he held on to his balloon for the four blocks back to the car, where my non car-sleeping son passed out from exhaustion, still holding tight.

This is one determined baby.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Anti-Crust Hater

When I saw the Lunch Punch on Cool Mom Picks, I was amused at the both the concept – removing sandwich crusts while making a cute shape appealing to a child – and the fact that my previously toast-loving baby has switched to ONLY eating the crusts of his bread. His obsession with broccoli seems to also have passed and now he loves string cheese and sushi. Whatever, dude.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed today by the lovely Ananda Leeke, author, artist, and yoga guru, for Sisterhood, the Blog Radio. I met Ananda at the Women of Color panel at BlogHer ’09, which inspired me with the passion and purpose overflowing the room. We chatted about how and why I started blogging, what I learned at BlogHer, and the meaning of sisterhood. Click here to learn about her books, and here to hear our interview. Thanks, Ananda!

Speaking of inspiration, if you haven’t seen or read President Obama’s speech for school children, go read it. Even for those of us who’ve passed out of the classroom setting, it is a stirring reminder of personal responsibility and owning our todays and tomorrows.

Buster says, "Study hard! I do. When I'm not sleeping or gnawing on toys, that is."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lack of Screaming, Part I (We Hope)

We’ve traditionally made the drive to my parents’ house overnight, since the traffic is light and Q-ster would sleep the whole way there. 450 miles later, we’d arrive in the wee hours of the morning, and Ama and Agu would be happy to play with the little dude while we crawled into bed.

Last autumn’s trip, our first with both kids, was not so smooth. Since infancy, Buster has almost never slept in the car, so not only did he not sleep, but he didn’t like the fact that it was dark and wailed at siren levels for miles and miles. We spent two and a half hours in the parking lot of Casa de Fruta, waiting for him to fall asleep, inserting him into the car seat, and having him wake up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We’re headed that way again in a few weeks, and after careful evaluation of how many rest stops we’d have to make along the way to keep the boys from going stir crazy, figured that it might take three weeks to make the drive. It was time for a test run of whether Buster could handle sleeping in the car at night, now that his seat faces forward and he’s a year older, and the moon is full, and whatever other factors may be at play.

Saturday night, I brushed his teeth, read his bedtime story, and popped us in the car. Better to waste an hour and two gallons of gas now than to figure out too late that we should have chosen the long, slow daytime drive instead. I started the engine, backed out of the garage, and held my breath. I heard a little sigh from the backseat. And then silence.

Twenty-five miles out. No crying. He woke briefly when I pulled through the drive-through (Krispy Kreme!), and went back to sleep. Fifty-nine minutes of night driving and nary a peep. Success.

Fingers crossed that the test run will be an accurate reflection of the real drive.

Unrelated photo: First day of preschool!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dance Reality Show Overload

Can I just say that I am totally not ready for So You Think You Can Dance to start again? The last season just finished a month ago, and much as I love the show, it’s too soon. America’s Best Dance Crew still has three weeks to go, and thank heavens they are respectful of my time and pack in all performances and results within one hour each week. Even for the opening week, when they have nine crews performing!

Dancing with the Stars starts their season not long after, with the latest scandal being that Maksim and Karina have apparently broken their engagement.

I’m wondering if the networks are going to start seeing their audience taper off from burnout. Hopefully, the dance reality show craze will continue for a few more years!

For something completely unrelated, a company in South Africa was disgruntled with their flaky broadband connectivity, which made their data transmissions painfully slow. Due to the landlines going up and down, it would take on the order of two days to send 4GB to their data center. Ever creative, they ran a successful test with a homing pigeon carrying a memory card, and the pigeon made it in less than an hour.

Their broadband provider got into the game, and they scheduled a head to head race tonight – old school (Winston the pigeon) vs new school (DSL). The race is still going on but I need to get some sleep, so we’ll find out the scoop in the morning. Go, Winston!

Updated: Winston won!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Guilty Pleasures Edition

Even though I watch Dancing with the Stars and buy Britney Spears albums, I feel little guilt for most of my pop culture consumption. I like dancing; I like her music. So when I mention my guilty pleasures, you know they’re baaaaad. Here are the latest:

In spite my reservations about plot and quality of writing on the Twilight series, I am a regular visitor to the Twilight Lexicon fansite, where the editors breathlessly interview bit part actors about their character motivations and experiences on set. “Such-and-such NewName, who plays Thug #1 explains that the part demanded great depth of soul . . . “ Bonus features – links to other devoted fans, like this Team Jacob/Team Edward corn maze. Yeah, you read that correctly, it’s agri-tainment!

And even worse, I am thisclose to buying Taylor Swift’s new single on iTunes. “You Belong with Me” is a highschooler’s lament about wishing her best guy friend would come to his senses, quit seeing his flaky cheerleader girlfriend who doesn’t like his music and doesn’t understand him, and find true love with her. It’s pretty awful and oh, so catchy.

Confess, y’all. Can you top these?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fountains of Youth

A couple of weeks ago, we checked out the playful fountains in front of a local library. The water spouts change heights, much to the delight of all the children.

Buster investigates the little spouts.

Ta-da! Look at how the spouts grow!

Meanwhile, his big brother was playing on the children's statues.

Buster joins in Dancing with Otters:

Time to get dried off and go home.