Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Think I’ve Written This Post Before

It was so chilly (by my standards) when Buster woke early this morning that I brought him back to our bed instead of dozing on his couch. Fuzzy in his sleepsack, he made the perfect human hot water bottle, and I curled around him, at least until he started kicking.

The micro dude can just barely straighten his legs inside “the bag,” as we call the sleepsack, so I’ve got extra-large ones on order. They should last him the season, and by next winter, he’ll be old enough to command whatever regular blankets he wants.

On an unrelated topic, I want to change some of my patterns of lateness. I used to pride myself on being perfectly on time, but it’s fallen by the wayside. In my personal life, I usually append a meeting time with “ish,” which other friends with children understand well. 10-ish at the playground. 5-ish for dinner. That ‘ish’ stands for the vagaries of getting small people dressed and out the door.

At work, my schedule is often driven by higher-ups who need to run a meeting longer or start it late. Customer demands. Questions that I need to answer for engineering teams, to keep them from being delayed in their work. Today, I came onto a conference call at five minutes after the hour, overhearing one of the participants saying, “She’s usually late.” It stung, but it’s true. His topic is lower priority for our team, so when there’s a conflict, I have to take the other meeting, making me late to his.

My goal for the next two weeks is to be exactly on time to every meeting where I control my schedule and give advance alerts to every meeting where I think I will have to be late, so the organizers can make a choice whether to start without me. Let’s see if paying extra attention helps me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daredevil Dilemma

It’s possible that Buster has more bumps, bruises and scrapes on his head at this moment than Q-ster has in his entire life put together. The micro dude is fearless.

Fortunately, he usually shows good sense (for an 18 month old) in how he tackles a “problem” like jumping off the arm of the recliner. The first time, he falls on his bottom. He pulls himself back up, climbs on the chair, and lowers himself down gingerly, overbalancing and then recovering. The third time, he clambers on the chair, throws his legs over the side and sticks the landing solidly. Task mastered, and onto the next piece of furniture.

I might add that whole incident happened at top speed in front of my eyes, and all three cycles were complete by the time I reached him in an attempt to stop the acrobatics. Clearly, we need more outlets for this energy.

Mayberry recently posted a great list of active toy suggestions, and my interest is piqued by the bObles Tumbling Animals.

Their website says: The Tumbling animals are based on simple geometrically forms - cut in the shape of animals. The Tumbling animals are suitable as children´s furniture, but are designed for creative play.

The child is able to tumble, roll, balance, seesaw, rock, jump and gain some bodily experience, which can serve as the foundation for further development.

So. Will the bObles entertain Buster and keep him from climbing on all the things he shouldn’t? Or will they enable him to climb on all the things he shouldn’t?

I’m not sure, but they are darn cute.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anatomy and Patriotism Lessons

Last week at preschool, it was Q-ster’s turn to “lead” the pledge of allegiance.

“Hand over your heart” said the teacher, and then she went around the circle to adjust the children’s hands. “Hand over your heart. That’s your belly button,” she corrects gently.

Monday, October 26, 2009

LaDanian Yodalinson

The Yoda hat! Not perfect, but close enough. Buster has brown pants, and I’ll borrow Q-ster’s tan hoodie to finish up the rest of the costume.

We’re still on quite the football craze around here. There is nothing quite as cute as a tiny football player tromping unsteadily across the room, muttering, “hike, hike, hike.”

(Yes, I did find a squishy squashy mini football for indoors.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Old Man and These Kids These Days

This old man, he played two,
He played knick-knack on my shoe;
Knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played three,
He played knick-knack on the Wii . . .

- Q-ster, age four and a half

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Being Crazy is More Fun with Two

I’ve been over at our late Costume Conspirator’s house a few times this week, helping her sister sort through costumes, fabric, videos, and CDs. A few memories came to mind.

She used to lead us in these crazy yoga-inspired warm-ups before rehearsal, even while she was in treatment for her cancer. One evening, just a few days after another surgery, she was teaching us some kind of complicated yoga push-up, and I looked up from the floor to scan the rest of the room. All the men and women were wobbly balancing on their hands and feet, valiantly trying to hold the pose and not collapse.

Costume Conspirator’s voice rang cheerfully across the room. “Don’t watch me – I’m not using the right technique!”

I looked over at her. She was doing the push up ONE HANDED to protect the incision from her surgery.

And that’s what an amazing lady she was.

We found a whole box of rhinestones in her sewing room, which made me remember the whole progression of how we started decorating dresses. How about some beads? And fringe, we need lots of fringe. Wait, wait, let’s do beaded fringe!

Neither of us are in this picture by the way, but we made the dresses and I choreographed the dance. Photo credit: Patrick Tower

No idea was too wild for her. One rehearsal, I ran over and said, “I have this vision for the final number in the show. I want all the ladies to wear white dresses with the men in tails.”

Between her closet and my closet, we found ten white ballgowns representing the eras of the concert – 1840’s, 1910’s, and 1930’s. So, we sewed three white 1920’s frocks to fill out the timeline, another girl made her own, and kazaam! We had the Finale Blanc.

That’s CC on the far right, showing off her great legs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Twelve Preschoolers and a Lot of Green Paint and Glue

It was Q-ster’s turn to bring the snack to preschool today, which meant that it was also my opportunity to help in the classroom. The teachers had arranged a craft making a witch’s face by painting a paper plate with fat brushes and adding cut-outs for hat, eyes, nose, and mouth. One teacher took half the kids and I got the other half, and we all survived it. Whew!

The kids were happy, all the drippy green faces were done, and I got to meet the rest of Q-ster’s classmates. His teachers say he’s doing well, and I was happy that he ran over to hug me several times during class.

No pictures, unfortunately, because I was really concentrating on being a good helper and completely forgot. Someday, I’ll get better at this. In the meantime, pictures of the preschool pumpkin outing!

Now please guess what he and his friend are pretending with the pumpkins. It shouldn’t take you more than one guess.

Monday, October 19, 2009

He Said It, Not Me

I’m not clever with the ins and outs of lol-speak with its “I Can Haz Cheezburger” and “Do Not Want” parodies, but we do have an authentic representative in the house now.

I fed Buster a piece of Parmesan bagel and he munched contentedly, saying “Nom, nom!”

Here are my boys tonight, enjoying Monday Night Football.

Yes, they are wearing Chargers jerseys while holding a soccer ball and basketball. What can I say? The actual football was confiscated last year for causing too much damage. It's pretty much the inside-house rule at this point - you must be able to receive a direct hit to the face without tears from all sporting toys, including lightsabers. We need to find a nice, soft squishy football for indoor play.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Time, the Roller Coaster

We made a return trip to California’s Only Horticultural Theme Park over the weekend, where we were joined by a half dozen families from what I think of as “Mommy Group.” We came together with wee little infants four and a half years ago, and now they beg for rides on roller coasters. It was delightful to see everyone and admire how much all the kids have grown.

First, swinging in strawberries.

Q-ster’s friend Anreew is also going to be Obi-Wan Kenobi for Halloween (costume obscured by the strawberry in this photo, unfortunately.)

We “drove” a cool convertible car, which I’d like to point out as much easier to co-pilot than Autopia at Disneyland, since the speed is controlled by ride itself.

Investigating a cross-section of a giant redwood tree.

Q-ster and Fi deciding where to go next.

And where did we go next? The kids had their hearts set on a roller coaster. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of crazy rides (see the ‘riding the garlic’ post for that tale), but Q-ster wasn’t tall enough to ride unchaperoned, and I couldn’t let him down. So we got in line and I rode the d@mned thing with him.

As the ‘coaster clicked upwards on the second ascent, I looked over and saw him gleefully anticipating more swoops and turns. He got awfully quiet as we plummeted down, but I couldn’t do more than say, “Here we go! Wheee!” in as cheerful a tone as I could manage. I shouldn’t have worried. As we pulled into the station, he chirped, “That was JUST like a POD RACE!” which goes to show you that any experience is cool if you can put it in context of Star Wars.

I learned something too. I’ve become increasingly less physically daring in the last few years. I stopped “going upside down” after I got pregnant the first time, and haven’t performed any serious acrobatics in dance since then. I was starting to say, “too old for this” inside my head, even if I didn’t verbalize it.

And that’s really silly. Clearly, there are some things I will never do again nor want to, but I'm getting back in the mindset of wanting new experiences, meeting new friends, new things to do. That's how we stay agile and interesting.

Thanks, Q-ster. Mommy’s glad that we rode the roller coaster. It was fun!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2T or Not 2T?

I wrote more about the hopelessness of trying to find the right size clothes for preschoolers over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog today in Just Find Me the Right Size, Please! Thanks for your comments on the original post, which helped me write this one.

As I was sorting through Q-ster’s old things to see what we had for Buster’s winter wardrobe, I found a wealth of footie pajamas, but almost nothing in terms of pants and long sleeved shirts. Did we dress Q-ster in only pajamas for an entire season?

Well, I looked through our old photos, and yeah. He pretty much wore nothing but stripey footie pajamas through the entire 18-24 month period. Sorry, dude. We get out more this second time around, so I bought some actual daytime clothing for Buster to supplement the hand-me-downs.

It’s nice to know that there is some minimum level of parental competence that is improving, because I think I’m less apprehensive in taking both a four and a half year old and an 18 month old out solo than I was three years ago, taking just an 18 month old on outings.

Anyway, here are a few of the pajama pix from Q-ster’s toddlerhood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Acronym Dance City

Thank heavens for blogs, that’s for sure. For two weeks in a row, Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance aired simultaneously on Tuesday nights, and with the current household technical limitation, we can only watch/record one at a time. I managed to find an east coast live blog for each show and read ahead to decide when to change channels. Success!

(Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t seen DWTS and want to be surprised.)
This week, the show said good-bye to Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell, who was kind of a terrible dancer, but very likeable. I am charmed by someone who can win the light-heavyweight championship of the world in mixed martial arts fighting (whatever that means, but it sounds tough) and also rock the samba sleeves. The photo below is actually a dance team from previous season (looks like Marie Osmond and Jonathan), since I couldn’t find any of Chuck, but his sleeves were even more crazy, if anything.

I’ve been loving the crossovers between the shows. The season 1 winners of America’s Best Dance Crew, Q-ster’s favorite Jabbawockeez, performed on DWTS last week, choreographer Louis Van Amstel has been teaching and performing on both DWTS and SYTYCD, many members of ABDC’s Qwest Crew first got their taste of TV stardom on SYTYCD, and of course, Lacey, Chelsie (in top photo), and Dmitry from SYTYCD are now pros on DWTS. It’s challenging to get work in the field, and these shows are providing high profile employment for some great performers.

I’m looking forward to the Top Twenty in SYTYCD. The krumper is pretty terrific, so I hope he makes it through. Does anyone else feel like the sole married couple in the remaining 38 dancers is going to somehow be set up so they’re vying for the “last” spot in the show? Not sure how they’ll work it since they’re (obviously) opposite gender, but last year the producers put two brothers in that position and the year before, two roommates.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Containers So Obsessive That Even I Didn’t Buy Them

I’ve seen these faux tomatoes and onions a couple of times in Storables and other such places that are like crack for an organizational fiend like um, some people we know. They split in half to reveal a hollow space to store one’s sliced vegetables and keep the refrigerator “stain and odor free.” It seemed a bit excessive to need a specific container rather than just use Tupperware or glass bowls, but as someone fond of anthropomorphic plush veggies, I can’t really throw rocks here.

I also came across an eight-piece set “made up of containers shaped for a package of bacon, a stick of butter, a brick of cream cheese, a ten-pack of hot dogs, a head of lettuce or small cantaloupe, a tomato or onion, a pint of berries, and a bunch of celery.” Gotta love the hot dog-shaped tub.

This one, however pushed me over the edge of silly giggles.

It’s a Banana Bunker, meant to keep the fruit from getting squashed in your lunch bag, complete with flexible center tubing for different sizes and lengths of banana.

Never let it be said that one's foodstuffs were insufficiently loved.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Attack at the Independent Bookstore

We are a Lego-loving family. You may have noticed that we’re also big Star Wars fans. Plus, we’re fond of the pictorial guides published on science and science-like topics. So when my sister alerted us to a local book party for the launch of the Star Wars Lego Visual Dictionary, we had to go. It’s the grand trifecta for a preschool boy!

The party invite suggested costumes and noted that 501st Legion would be in attendance. “Stormtroopers, honey, we might get to see them,” I told Q-ster. He told me not to worry, as he would use the Force on them if they got too close. We got there a mite early, had plenty of time to wander the store, buy a copy of the book, enjoy a few Wookie Cookies, and admire the Lego spacecraft on display.

The boys paused to rest for a while, lightsabers by their sides. I’m not sure who Buster is texting, but he’s quite intent.

Q-ster looked so cute in his Obi-Wan costume that I couldn’t resist breaking out the boots I’d been saving for Christmas. He looooved his “Jedi boots” and clomped around for the rest of the day.

Q-ster shook hands with the promised Stormtroopers (who were a little short for Stormtroopers, but impeccably dressed) and waved at a Rebel Captain, who upon receiving a compliment for his costume, noted with a twinkle in his eye that “it’s a uniform, not a costume, ma’am.”

A most satisfying book party.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Running, Reaching, Climbing

The SuperYard baby fence that we stretched across the edge of the playroom, keeping Buster out of the electronics, TV, and Q-ster’s smaller toys, is now obsolete. Buster can vault over the arm of the couch and behind the fence, landing with a very stable and competent demeanor, all the world like a miniature paratrooper landing on his target terrain.

We need to take down the fence this weekend, because while he can get over it with the help of the couch, he can’t get back out. Every few minutes, he’ll be standing there, holding a prized toy, saying, “help, help” or “’tuck, ‘tuck” (stuck) and asking to be retrieved.

If he’s properly balanced on a step stool, he can also reach a few light switches. He’s pretty happy about that.

And then there was light! And grins.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Photo Dilemma

As Christina wrote today, getting a good family photo is a challenge under any circumstances, but when two parties are squirmy little ones, the odds are pretty low. We got incredibly lucky last year - Q-ster learned that posing is a skill, so he was determined to hit all his marks, and Buster was both pre-mobile and remarkably compliant.

This means, of course, that we are probably scheduled for a broom-clutching, mental breakdown-inducing type photo shoot this autumn, which makes for great blogging, but iffy on the Christmas card front.

I don’t even have a plan or a photographer in mind. Perhaps this is the year to try a collage instead.

Newly added to my want-to-see list: Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, where Madeleine Albright “shares the stories behind her unique pin collection.” For instance, she wore a trio of "Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil" monkey pins to “chide Russian President Vladamir Putin for his failure to acknowledge human rights violations committed by the Russian military in the violence-plagued region of Chechnya.” (Hat tip to Susan Wagner for the link.)

I want to replace our SIGG water bottles, given the newly revealed BPA status and two years wear and tear. What would you recommend? I’ve heard good things about Klean Kanteen, if I can just get over their painful spelling.

Monday, October 05, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

We return to our usual chirpy content today, in a gesture towards our friend’s unquenchable spirit.

A few weeks ago, we took the boys to the zoo and made a tour through the reptile house. It’s a testament to the vivid writings of J.K. Rowling that I can’t look at a big snake in its exhibit without immediately thinking about Harry Potter dissolving the glass with magic and the snake hissing “Thankssss” in parseltongue.

In the next window over, I saw a pair of snake skin boots, a rhino horn and assorted other items. A gift shop? I know that entertainment parks are trying to bring in more money, but that’s pretty tacky. Then I read the sign. Oops, it was a collection of confiscated contraband and a stern admonishment against buying products made from endangered animals.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sad Today

Mourning the passing of our beloved Costume Conspirator after a long illness.

Best memories:

A rehearsal where she demonstrated high kicks so vigorously that she left a bruise on her forehead.

Two crazed weekends where we designed and sewed ten black and white flapper dresses for the ladies and seven matching vests for the gents.

Photo credit: Dave Wong

Shopping and scheming for fabrics, rhinestones, beads, and fringe to stage the next big choreography. We never believed that ‘less is more.’

Sharing joys – food, talk, dance.

She was a good friend, a creative partner, the businesswoman who hired me into the career and company where I’ve worked for nine years, and one of the most alive people I knew. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.

Photo credit: Patrick Tower

Another vibrant reason to pursue cancer research until we kick cancer's @ss.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Word of the Day


I say, “Let’s get some mommy beans.”

Q-ster replies, “They’re called edamame, but it’s ok, you can call them mommy beans.”

Sigh. How time flies.