Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I’ll Settle for Late

Well, I can either claim being 9 days late for my quarterly emergency preparedness post if I was aiming for the summer solstice, or 3 months late if I admit to skipping the spring post completely. In any case, it’s been busy.

I went through our emergency car kits and replaced the diapers with a larger size to fit Buster and took out the bottles and backup formula. It’s so nice that the micro dude can eat food now! I tucked a few straws in the bags, to make drinking from water bottles easier if we get stuck without sippy cups. That’s the grand total of what I’ve done for preparedness in months.

I plan to replace our water supplies this summer, since I got the containers at least two years ago. I can use the “old” water on the plants and to wash some of the outdoor toys that need a thorough cleaning.

For more on water, see this site for instructions on how to get emergency drinking water from a water heater. Thanks for the link, YF!

Call to action: Do at least one tiny thing improve your emergency readiness. Buy a few cans of food (and have a can opener nearby). Store some extra water. Or get a crank-powered flashlight and radio.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back in the Saddle

SwingDaddy and I taught at the summer dance workshop at the University this weekend and had a splendid time, even landing us a few pictures in the local news.

We started dating at this same workshop, fourteen years ago. Returning each year to teach is like coming home.

We brought the boys to the last session of the weekend and let them wander in the space where SwingDaddy and I have spent so much of our lives together, while we talked with old friends. It was important, a reminder of who we used to be – performers, teachers, choreographers – and what we became – first a partnership and then a family – and where we’re going, all four of us now.

Happy Birthday, sweetie. I treasure each year with you.


(And yes, I realize that with a closing line of “all four of us,” there should really be one photo of the whole family, but you know what it’s like trying to get two children in the same picture.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Doorknobs and Spankings

We have a doorknob problem. Buster has grown just enough that he can reach the doorknob. In our old house, we had ordinary, run-of-the-mill round doorknobs, so by the time Q-ster was tall enough to reach them, he had enough sense to stay out of trouble. Or if he was getting into trouble, he was well aware of doing it on purpose.

In our new house, we have these pretty levers that are comfortable to use, simple to trigger with your elbow if both hands of holding things, and unfortunately, easily opened by a very small child who is just thrilled with his new skill.

We spent the entire day repeatedly extracting him from the front hall closet and downstairs bathroom, now that he has unfettered access. SwingDaddy is working on a door blocking scheme, perhaps temporarily replacing a few of the most important knobs, like the one for our office, which is filled with all the child-unsafe items that have been evacuated from the rest of the house. It’s just a year and a half, and we should be able to return to an un-gated staircase and unlatched cabinets too.

~
I had picked up Bedtime for Frances to read to Q-ster, because I remember Frances fondly (but incorrectly from The Please and Thank-you Book, which turns out to be a Richard Scarry tale, not Frances, but whatever). We settled down and followed her adventures through wanting one more glass of milk, getting up to ask one more question, brushing her teeth, crawling back into bed, and then waking her parents once more.

Finally, her father threatens her with a spanking.

“What’s a spanking?” asks Q-ster.

The child is four years old. Have we never actually let slip the “or else I’ll spank you!” phrase, not once in four years? Either we’re doing something very right or very wrong.

I had to pause a moment to think about how to explain a spanking. It was kind of hard to get the words out – hitting as punishment. Not to say that the little dude isn’t occasionally so whiny that he probably use a swat, but he’s sensitive to correction and a scolding is generally enough to make him pay attention. Let’s hope that we can continue with mere threats of withholding Legos.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Vending Machine Hates Me, But I Have Friends

You might recall that the third floor breakroom vending machine ate my dollar and someone else’s dollar in quick succession last month, giving us no Doritos in exchange. We cursed the machine, and then I forgot about it.

Once again, I was craving Doritos, so I ran downstairs, put in a series of quarters, watched the mechanism turn, and . . . the package got stuck. Duh! I should have known better.

I stomped back to my desk, more annoyed at myself than anything, since I should have known that it was a hopeless cause. My colleagues commiserated.

The fellow in the next cube suggested putting in another dollar or tipping the machine. “We tried both of those last time, but neither worked.”

Grump.Grump. I went back to my email.

A little while later, my neighbor reappeared, bag of Doritos in hand. “I can’t resist a challenge!” he said, describing how he’d intimidated the machine (actually, he's a big guy, so he was able to tip it over enough to shake it loose.)

Woo-hoo, thank you friend!

I think I will buy Doritos at the grocery store going forward, so that I don’t have to count on strong friends to liberate them from the vending machine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Phone Friend

We were set to have a park playdate with Q-ster’s school friend today, so his mom called last night to confirm details. As we chatted, Q-ster ran into the room. “Who is it?”

“So-and-so’s mommy.”
“I want to say hi!”
“Ok.”

The other little boy got on the phone.
Friend: Hi
Q-ster: Hi

Silence.

Muffled prompting.
Friend: See you tomorrow!
Me (whispering): Say, ‘see you tomorrow.’
Q-ster: See you tomorrow!

End scene and fade to black. The little dude’s first phone conversation with a friend. There’s not a lot to say yet, but they chatter endlessly in person, so I’m not worried.

~
An unrelated tale from last week: I was changing from my office clothes into plain “home” clothes that can tolerate drool and baby snuggles when Q-ster pointed at my flowered blouse and said, “That’s pretty. You should keep it on, Mommy.”

Awww. I think I need to upgrade my home clothes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Up and Down, Up and Down

As promised, staircase photos.

First, Buster’s on his way up.

Not satisfied with what he found at the top of the stairs, he’s on his way back down.

Mommy is spotting him, just in case.

Success! We celebrate a safe arrival at the bottom of the stairs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dancing, Dancing, Slaying

I think the whole world has seen the video of Where the Hell is Matt? but it’s a must-click if you haven’t. This guy went all around the globe, doing his goofy dance, and I must cheesily admit that my eyes tear up watching humans of all backgrounds being so happy.

Highlights:
- Matt carefully dancing in between the swarm of red crabs on Christmas Island.
- Dancing next to a guard in the Korean DMZ. How he explained what he planned on doing and videotaping in this military facility, I don’t know.
- Almost getting taken out by a wave on the beach of Tonga.
- Pausing from his steps to join a traditional Indian dance.

If you love swing dancing, you might want to check out this (long) video of the life of Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning, who passed away in April, just before his 95th birthday. SwingDaddy and I are teaching a few Lindy classes this weekend in his style.

And for something completely different, a Buffy vs Edward mashup, where the teen Slayer takes on the melodrama of Twilight. Thanks to Elisa for the link!

In even more unrelated news, Q-ster came silently into the baby’s room this morning at 6am (where I’d fallen asleep soothing the micro dude) and woke me up . . . without waking the baby! I’m so thrilled, both that he understood why it was important to let Buster sleep and that he could restrain himself from normal morning bounciness. Of course, 6am wasn’t so thrilling, but I’ll take what I can get.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Entertainment Device That is the Staircase

I hope you all had a fabulous Father’s Day!

Q-ster’s preschool teachers sent the children home with hand-made Father’s Day cards when school finished up last week, and he’s been talking about it for days. Finally, he got to bring it out and give it to SwingDaddy today! Here it is, next to the card he made for Mother’s Day.

Q-ster’s not posing with the cards, because he’s only intermittently interested in pictures these days. If he gets to do a lightsaber pose, he’s all for it; otherwise, no thanks. (Did you notice that it’s my first Star Wars mention in a week and a half? I’ve been trying to get out of the All Jedi, All the Time mode.) Here’s a photo of him "with" his Earth Day plant, which we’ve been faithfully watering and has finally bloomed.

I had a perfect Father’s Day card to give too. What could express love for one’s spouse more than two hugging octopi?

In other news, the micro dude has figured out how to descend our long, steep staircase. He turns over and slides down on his belly (thankfully, feet first), giggling all the way. Right now, all hands are busy spotting him and making sure he doesn’t slip, but we’ll try for photos later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food Should Not Be This Hard

Two random things:

1) I baked a pumpkin pie last weekend (canned pumpkin, so don’t be so impressed), and the recipe said to bake for 40 minutes, but when I checked it, it was still gooshy. A total of 70 minutes went by before it seemed solid. I had to tell our friends that I needed to eat the first bite of the pie I was giving them, to make sure it was safe. They eyed me suspiciously, but it tasted fine and then we shared.

2) Why am I so terrible at picking grapes? Ever if I eat one grape from the bunch to check that it tastes sweet, they’re always sour when I get them home. It’s like an anti-skill or something. I need to start asking random people at the market to pick them for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Resisting the Octopus

So cute and available at Target. But I resisted, because they are only 95% cute, and if I fill our house with them, there won't be room for the 100% cute octopus things I'll find in the future.

I didn't even get this cookie jar.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So I Booked a Hotel Room with Wi-Fi but No Toilet

We celebrated at eight weddings over the Year of Love in 2006, and after a long quiet period on the matrimonial front, it’s time to pick up those bouquets for the summer.

However, it’s more complicated these days. There are two little people that need constant attention, so attending weddings and all the associated pre-parties, bachelor parties, ladies teas, and dance rehearsals involves a lot more than before.

We’re honored to be invited to the Local but Theatrically Complicated Wedding and the Straightforward but Logistically Ludicrous Wedding, the second of which involves a two-hour flight, a two-hour drive, a two-hour ferry load, a one hour ferry ride, ferry unload, and then travel to the inn. Our friends could have chosen the Bikini Atoll, so really, this is not that distant and the location will be absolutely gorgeous, but I shudder to think of entertaining a four year old and a highly mobile one year old on such a segmented journey to a place where they can’t safely run around for an entire weekend, after spending hundreds of dollars for the privilege.

Once again, we are saved by superstar grandparents who will fly in to play with the boys while we make the journey ourselves. We would simply have to miss this day with our dear friends, and now we won’t have to make that choice.

Instead, we’re making choices about things like rental cars, ferry times, and hotel rooms. The one available hotel option with its own bathroom was $300 an evening, so believe it or not, I booked us a room with no toilet, for a mere $99. It does have wi-fi, which I suppose is the most important thing anyway.

There’s a shower/toilet down the hallway to be shared with a few other rooms, so this is still better than camping, right? Of course, I remind myself that there is a reason I don’t camp, but for just two nights, we’ll be fine. We can huddle over the light of our laptops and compose our well wishes for our friends who are launching a lovely new life together.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Zombie Chorus vs Musical Sleep Philosophy

After the Christmas holidays, we were having trouble getting Buster to sleep well, and in desperation, I dug out a pamphlet that had come with some parenting packet we’d received. It was entitled, “You Don’t Have to Let Your Baby Cry: The nurturing way to help your child sleep. . . using Heartbeat Music Therapy.”

The guide included a CD, and I popped it in the player, figuring that the micro dude was constantly waking up anyway and the CD couldn’t do any damage. The tunes were all nursery rhymes overlaid with a heartbeat sound, and the idea was that the baby would be lulled to sleep by the gentle singing.

The music definitely helped, and we got two uninterrupted nights in a row, but SwingDaddy and I both admitted that the music was just kind of . . creepy. Like a zombie brainwashing chorus.

Imagine “London Bridge is falling down” sung at dirge tempo, but with the words replaced as such:

You are going to sleep all night
Sleep all night
Sleep all night
You are going to sleep all night
Sleep, sleep, baby

Would this affect his brain? Would he turn into a mushy-headed Kool-Aid drinker?

After a couple of weeks, I decided that I couldn’t take the creepiness wafting through the house and swapped CDs, in case Buster would be happy with some other kind of music, preferably less culty-sounding. I had recently unpacked my Suzuki piano CDs, so the micro dude got a night of Bach and Mozart. He slept right through the night.

Whew. The Heartbeat Therapy went back onto the bookshelf.

But now I wonder, will the Mozart exposure make him smarter? Or will the unintended result be that all classical music makes him sleepy?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Somebody is the Child of Dance Teachers

Q-ster saw a still shot similar to this one - Edward and Bella under the prom gazebo in the movie, Twilight. In that image, they are standing close together, but it's not obvious that they are in motion. He asked three rapid fire questions.

Q-ster: Are they dancing?
Me: Yes.

Q-ster: Are they good?
Me: Well, she's not very good.*

Q-ster: Then is he teaching her?
Me: Um, kind of.

My thought bubbles along the way:
Cool, he sees the context and jumps to the conclusion they're dancing.
Hmmm, I guess his dad and I do comment a lot on who we think are good dancers.
And yes, he knows all about dance lessons.


It’s interesting to see what children pick up about their environment, and while I feel we haven’t done much dancing in a long time, it’s clearly still a part of our family!

*For those who haven't read the book/seen the movie, Bella is notoriously clumsy, and she's wearing a cast under the prom dress for her broken leg

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Petty, Petty Thoughts on Cardboard Literature

Buster has been crazy for books lately, especially those with flaps and textures that he can touch. We received “My Peekaboo Fun” as a gift last year, and it’s slowly driving me mad.

It starts with a happily illustrated page with the caption, “How many toadstools are hidden behind the bush?”

Baby lifts the flap and sees a picture of a single toadstool, helpfully labeled “1 toadstool.”

So far, so good. Next up:

How many cats are inside the house? Lift flap, 2 cats.
How many flowers do you count on the bush? 3 flowers.
How many birds are flying in the air? 4 birds.

5 fish, 6 pens, 7 butterflies, 8 dog bones, 9 bees, and all the way up to:

How many shells do you find in the sand? 10 shells.

This is where it starts to go badly.

Can you count the chickens in the hen house? 1 chicken.
Actually, the answer should be yes or no.

How many squirrels are hiding in the tree trunk? 2 squirrels.
Ok, we’re back on track here.

Can you count the rabbits in the hutch? 3 rabbits
No!

4 penguins, 5 eggs, all ok.

Count the candles on the birthday cake. 6 candles
Close enough, I’ll give ‘em that one.

7 apples, 8 lady bug dots, 9 train cars. Fine.

Then the last page:
Who likes to swim in the water?

What?

After 19 counting questions, the non sequitur throws me a little.

I think what happened is that since the final page was on the inside back cover, there wasn’t a way to have a flap to hide counted items, so the book designers punted. They should have done a count down instead, so that the pictures went 1 – 2 – 3 to 10 and then 9 – 8 – 7 back down to 1, and it would have fit in their allotted pages.

Small irritation, I know, but when one has to read at a book a thousand times, the mind has time to wander.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Exactly My Sentiments, Plus the Naughty Ballerina

The Top 20 dancers on So You Think You Can Dance showed their great gifts last night. It’s so clear that a lot of this is also about who wins the choreography lottery – luck of the draw between the brilliance of Wade Robson’s crash test dummy routine, and Tyce’s less than interesting “silent movie.”

It’s always difficult to distinguish between the trained dancers during the beginning of the season, so I thought Melissa was clever to bite her finger (which was her branding, in a way) in the introductions. I saw that and thought, ‘Hey, ‘the naughty ballerina’ made it to the top 20!” Her dance with Ade was particularly beautiful, especially the side by side petit jumps. I can’t find a YouTube clip yet, so I’ll update later when someone posts one.

Are you already tired of Mary Murphy’s screams? This clip from Television Without Pity sums it up colorfully:

Mary screams. Between seasons, I always manage to forget about the screams somehow. . . . It's her thing, so she's expected to do it, and everyone pretends to secretly like it while pretending to hate it, except I'm convinced everyone actually hates it but just wants to be a good sport. It's like, "My thing is that I give you malaria!" and everybody pretends to think it's hilarious that I give people malaria. You know?

Now we mutter, "Malaria!" when we hear the scream.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

And Many More

So I had this little idea to have the boys pose with a card to wish my parents a happy anniversary, which is easier said than done.

Hey, go stand next to your brother.

Oops, dropped the card.

Smile!

Q-ster added a signature “all by himself” this afternoon, telling me that he’d used a Star Wars book as a reference for the spelling. He did indeed capture all the letters, even if he ran out of room and had to rearrange them a bit.

In any case, a very happy anniversary to my mom and dad, who got to be the final pair on the dance floor at a wedding for their friends’ daughter last weekend, when the MC called for the couple married the longest. They admitted this was a crowd of their younger friends, but it’s still a pretty awesome accomplishment, and they got to take home a beautiful bouquet.

I explained the concept of an anniversary to Q-ster and told him that Ama and Agu had been married a long time ago.

The little dude added, “in a galaxy far, far away.”

Congratulations!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Nigel on Twitter

Did any of you catch So You Think You Can Dance last week? About the half the top 20 looks amazing, and the other half has gotten less than 3 seconds of footage, so let’s hope that gets evened out in the next episodes.


Extraordinary contemporary/ballet dancer Alex Wong wasn’t able to get a waiver from his current performance contract for the show, but in the meantime, check out his webpage. It includes some beautiful pieces, as well as a rendition of Beyonce’s Single Ladies in full Sancho Panza costume. (Thanks, Mom and Dad for the tip.)

We love Evan Kasprzak’s Gene Kelly style and hope that his talented brother (Ryan Kasprzak) has already choreographed all his solos for him.

And it does seem like everyone’s on Twitter these days, including executive producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe and choreographer/judge Adam Shankman. I haven’t seen verification that they are the legitimate Twitter feeds yet, but seem to be. Adam has trouble keeping to the 140 character length and keeps diverting to twitlonger. That certainly fits the way he talks!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Growing

I keep a file of snippets for future blog posts or memories I want to keep, even if they don’t become posts. A note from January says:

Coming home from work is so fun these days. Q-ster will throw open the door and yell, “Mommy! Mommy!” Buster’s whole face lights up and he comes crawling at speed.

Things are a little different now. Q-ster stills shouts for me and Buster cracks a big grin, but the micro dude can walk and almost run. He also has more interests in the world than just me. He weaves towards me to wave, and instead of grabbing my leg and drooling on me until I pry him loose, he’ll toddle off to play with his toys.

I’m glad he’s expanding his horizons. I’m glad he’s a wee more independent. I’m also just a tiny bit sad that I’m not the sole center of his universe anymore. Even if it means that I'm going to be freed of having damp knees.

Photo from the Silicon Valley Moms Blog’s Bill Nye talk at the Tech, where Buster could immediately locate the exit from the any point in the huge seminar/exhibit/luncheon hall that I set him down. The boy clearly has his father's sense of direction.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Snuggliest Saber Yet

It has been pointed out to me repeatedly that we do not have a purple lightsaber in our arsenal, one that is appropriate for the fine Jedi Mace Windu. I finally broke down this weekend and made one for Q-ster out of some leftover velour I had from a costume. It's so soft that he wants to use it as a pillow. Sort of different from sleeping with your weapon under your pillow, but I can see his point.


Twilighters: I finished reading Eclipse tonight, so I guess it's on to Breaking Dawn tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bitten

My brain and heart have been too full to read much fiction for a long time. I read non-fiction, biographies, and a lot of blogs, but it’s been an endless source of frustration to my sister that I haven’t picked up a few major series that she wants to discuss.

Well, I’ve got the Twilight bug now. Thanks for loaning me the books, Lady O!

It’s convenient that my novel-reading speed hasn’t diminished, because I’ve powered through Twilight, New Moon, and half of Eclipse so far this week, in between work and playing with the boys.

Author Stephenie Meyer is an impressive storyteller, even if the writing in the first book was pretty awful. It a small way, it reminds me of George Lucas. He’s a great storyteller, even for the much maligned Star Wars prequels, but the man needs major assistance with dialogue. Many a Padme/Anakin scene would have been improved if they just smoldered silently at each other, rather than say a single inane word.

Back to the Twilight Saga. The subsequent books are improving in writing quality, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the story. I’m glad I joined the party in time to hear the collective shrieking of the world’s teenage girls during the MTV Movie Awards earlier this week, where movie adaptation of Twilight cleaned up. Breakout Male Star (dreamy vampire Edward, portrayed by Robert Pattinson or “RPattz”), Best Female Performance (damsel Bella, portrayed by Kristen Stewart or “KStew”), Best Fight Scene (really?), Best Kiss (duh), and Best Movie (well, it is the MTV Movie awards, after all).

The host of the awards came onstage after a commercial break and said that he’d just made a bet with his buddy. He paused for a dramatic moment and quietly said, “Twilight.” SHRIEK!!!!! Bet won.

Any other Twilighters out there?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Octopus for Mama

"I made an octopus for you at school today, Mommy!" the little dude exclaims. He holds out a piece of construction paper taped into a tube with a series of short parallel cuts on one end, making legs. My heart flutters. My boy knows I love octopi.

(One of the sticky eyes already fell off, but we know what it's supposed to be.)