Thursday, April 29, 2010

Festival Day

Last weekend, we had a pretty spectacular festival outing: There sunshine, no one melted down, including the adults, everyone ate their picnic lunch, and the admission was free.

The boys admired the Taiko performers. Yay for big drums!

Enjoyed the playground.

And best of all, acquired kettle corn.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not Panicking Yet

All over the internet, parents are blogging about taking their kids to kindergarten orientation. I wish I was doing the same. I called the school office to check today, to make sure we hadn’t missed some kind of announcement, and no, we hadn’t.

Apparently, we’ll get a welcome letter in July, inviting us to an orientation in mid-August, the day before school starts. And that’s the day we find out whether Q-ster is in the 8:30am-12 class or the 10:30am-2:30pm class. That’s right, we won’t know what hours he’ll be in school until the day before school starts.

My guess is that the schedule is designed so there’s no time for parents to complain about a placement. It’s kind of irritating. I can understand wanting to balance the girls to boys ratio, but no one’s gender is going change between registration and school start. If they’re going to do classroom balancing by personality type, they can’t evaluate that until they see the children anyway. I would be surprised if there’s mass movement into and out of the district in those weeks in August, but I suppose it’s possible the school is waiting until the last minute to adjust for that kind of enrollment change.

We can live with either placement, but I wish I could help Q-ster mentally prepare for what his day is going to be like, whether he will be eating lunch at school, to know whether we should start collecting lunch packing ideas. I can’t even sign up his little brother for activities until I know whether they interfere with pick-up and drop-off for kindergarten . . . the day before school starts.

When I turned in the registration form, the school administrator said that 95% of the requests were for the “early bird” class, which I also prefer, since I have a better chance of volunteering and interacting with the teacher on that schedule.

If he ends up in the “late bird” class, we’re lucky that Nanny J can do the drop-off for us, but I don’t know what many working parents do if they’re trying to arrange afterschool care and now they suddenly need two hours of before-school care too.

So it begins, the bureaucracy of school. We moved into this district because of the phenomenal school program, so I have to have faith that they know what they’re doing.

It would be great to know at least one family who attends the elementary school, but all our neighbors have teenage children. I crashed a PTA meeting in January and met the principal, but it seems that while there’s a high level of parent participation in the classroom, PTA meetings are not well attended.

This is where an orientation event would help – I could talk with other parents and Q-ster could meet a potential friend or two. His preschool pals are heading to four different elementary schools, and not a single one of them will be going to his school.

I just have to tell myself that we’re all resilient and that Q-ster will be fine, regardless of what he gets for a schedule. He’s a little less shy and better able to make friends than the last time he changed schools, at age 3. He can wear a Lego Star Wars t-shirt to class sometime that first week to help strike up conversations with other fellow fans. We’ll talk about the two ways he might be going to school next year, and how exciting it will be to do SCIENCE and other projects, even though not knowing the details makes his mommy twitch.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zombie Cling Wrap and More Non Sequitur Theater

1) We’re in a grudge match with a roll of Glad Cling Wrap. Cling Wrap doesn’t actually, well, CLING to anything useful, like plates of food that need covering, but our old supermarket didn’t carry Saran Wrap. Our new supermarket does indeed carry Saran Wrap, and we’ve bought a roll, eagerly awaiting the moment when we run out of Cling Wrap.

Sadly, it’s been months. SwingDaddy used miles of it to cover the bandages on his leg during post-operation showers, and there’s still plenty left on the roll. It’s like the undead Cling Wrap – it won’t go away.

2) Public service announcement from my parents: Watch this two minute Consumer Reports video on how to stop an accelerating car. (Yes, by using the brakes, of course, but there’s a tip about putting the car in neutral and why, if the car seems to be accelerating without your direction.)

3) My hair isn’t long enough to put in a pony tail anymore, so for ballet class, I pull the hair near my face into two small rubber bands on top of my head. According to Q-ster, this makes me look like Viper from Kung Fu Panda, which is appropriate, since she’s voiced by Lucy Liu.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The iGraham

Last meeting of the day at 11pm. First meeting of tomorrow at 7am. This means no coherent brain cells remaining for a post. So, cute pictures instead!

Introducing the iGraham.

Buster making a call on his graham cracker iPhone.

Making a selection.

Here, he tells us that he is watching a Cars video.

We have the finest technology at work in our household.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Time is It?

Q-ster is learning to tell time on an old-fashioned analog clock and is making some progress. Of course, this coincides with both boys loving to sing, What Time is It from High School Musical 2, the big opening number where the cast sings about “Summer time! It’s our vacation!”

Buster particularly likes that part about enjoying vacation. Dude, you’re two years old. Every day is a vacation. (“I’m five!” he protests.)

I pointed out to SwingDaddy that we mostly need to convince him that the most important line is, “No more getting up at 6am,” and maybe he’ll sleep in. So far, no luck.

Here’s Q-ster dressed as Troy. He’s quite pleased with his plaid shirt.

In other news, I’m getting ready for a big international trip for work, if the volcano gods are cooperative. Tonight I reminded SwingDaddy to take the school medical forms to Q-ster’s pediatrician’s appointment in case I meet with an unlucky fate and can’t be there to do it. It’s the last form we need in order to complete kindergarten registration.

He laughed, but I couldn’t help mentioning it, like a charm to keep bad things from happening. Before we headed to the hospital for Q-ster’s birth five years ago, I pulled out the folder with our wills and medical directives so they’d be easily accessible. I can’t be the only one this nutty, so feel free to chime in.

Do you remember when those two American journalists were imprisoned in North Korea? One of the women was able to send a message to her husband through an ambassador, and she used the precious words to remind him to register their four-year-old daughter for school. Obsessives of the world, unite!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Icon Fail

I had some car maintenance done yesterday and the dealership gave me a rental car to use while I was waiting. It was a PT Cruiser, a vehicle we’d briefly considered before buying my Honda. Boy, did we make the right decision.

I still think that the PT Cruiser has a cute, 1930’s retro-vibe, but it’s a better fit for a bigger person. The seat just doesn’t fit my body type, my foot can’t rest of the floor when I’m holding down the brake pedal, and closing the trunk is a strain.

Plus, it seemed like there was no air conditioning. Finally, at a red light, I looked more carefully at an icon I thought pictured a gear and realized that it was a snowflake. Ah, AC. Now why there would be an icon symbolizing a gear, I don’t know, but that’s what I thought it was.

Follow up to Thursday’s post: Q-ster and I hit the thrift shop today and believe it or not, found a long sleeved, red plaid shirt in size 5T for $2. He’s so set.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Boys are Back

All I can say is “Thank God I like High School Musical too,” because we run the three soundtracks pretty endlessly in the car these days. Q-ster’s favorite YouTube video is The Boys are Back, where best buds Troy and Chad sing and dance in a junkyard.

Both of my boys do their best to re-enact the scene, jumping off furniture, striking poses, and copying the moment when Chad rolls on a giant tire.

There’s nothing quite like a barely-two year old trotting around, muttering, “Boys . . . back . . . boys . . . back,” while his brother corrects him. “It’s THE boys ARE back.”

Today, Q-ster wore a red fleece jacket over a white shirt and borrowed his dad’s bandana. He said he wanted a shirt just like Troy’s.

Me: You’d like a plaid shirt?
Q-ster: NOOOO! I hate plaid.

Me: Troy wears a plaid shirt in that scene.
Q-ster: No, he doesn’t.
Me: Do you know what plaid is?

After a brief explanation, he agreed.

So far, Buster is content to play the supporting roles (best friend, Ewok, and so forth), but we’ll see what happens when he gets more articulate. Q-ster took it pretty well when Buster insisted on being INDY JONES, and both of them were Indy together, so there is some hope for avoiding total imaginary character annihilation.

P.S. Does anyone else think that Albuquerque gets an unusually high number of rainy days in the HSM series? Or maybe it just rains in New Mexico when someone has an emotional song.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


You might recall that earlier this month, I opened the top drawer under Q-ster’s bathroom sink and found a cup filled with water and toothpaste. When questioned, he responded that it was SCIENCE, and we learned that the dyes in colored toothpaste wash off in quite dramatic form.

Well, I should have kept going, because the following week, I opened the second drawer and found it filled with cups of indeterminate liquids and goop. There is no photograph of that truly eyebrow raising spectacle, because Buster was with me and he was all ready to dive in. His big brother had actually done a pretty good job of lining up the cups so that nothing spilled during the experiment.

I quickly dumped the cups into the sink, discovering that this time, there were several different types of toothpaste, and in two cases, diaper rash cream. We had another little talk about unauthorized locations for substance abuse, but I’ll still give him credit for creativity.

In case you missed this post, I think it didn't show up in feed readers last week. My Children, Doing Their Darndest to Suffocate Themselves. Because after all, there has to be something to do when one is not mixing potions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I can’t remember the last time I had an appointment with the television, instead of getting around to watching the recording . . . someday. Tonight though, tonight was the all-Madonna episode of Glee, and as a longtime fan of hers, I had to see it.

Wow! What a blast!

I’ve started watching the earlier Glee episodes on DVD, and while the characters are not all sympathetic, I’m willing to put up with a lot if the music is good. And it’s good.

You’ve probably already seen the deliciously evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester channeling the material girl for “Vogue,” but if you haven’t, it’s a must see. This is her usual look, by the way.

I may have enjoyed the Glee club/marching band/cheerleader version of 4 Minutes more than the actual Madonna and Justin Timberlake original.

Off to iTunes to get the album.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paula Deen Would Be SO Not Impressed

I baked red velvet cupcakes from Paula Deen’s recipe (Go Food Network website!), and they tasted pretty decent, but somehow I missed the proportions on the cream cheese frosting, because it was sort of thin and watery, compared to my last go at the recipe.

I suppose it didn’t matter much because (a) my hand skills are sketchy enough that the cupcakes would probably still looked messy even if the frosting was perfectly composed, (b) the birthday boy is two years old and not really picky about aesthetics, and (c) cupcakes, what else matters but getting to eat them?

A side note – I was disappointed to discover that the red in red velvet comes from food coloring, not some mysterious ingredient. Where’s the fun in that?

Buster has also been enjoying his new fire truck (from the movie Cars), stickers and blanket (from the movie Cars), and Hot Wheels cars. Thank you to all the grandparents! You understand our child well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tiny Shins, a Fun Phrase to Say

Q-ster’s been enjoying an Intro to Sports class where the kids play baseball one week, touch football the next, and progress to basketball and soccer, learning a few basic skills and rules each session. It seemed like it was time to spend more than thirty-five minutes in the same sport, so I enrolled him in a soccer class.

SwingDaddy found a local shop and brought home the world’s tiniest shin guards, which is appropriate since Q-ster has tiny shins. I stood corrected on the sizing though, since SwingDaddy pointed out that they were size smalls and the store also carried extra-small and extra-extra-small. I guess kids really start out young in sports these days.

Today was his first class, and he had a good time. Hopefully, it’ll continue.

In a completely unrelated note, we watched Kung Fu Panda recently, and you must see this really awesome special feature from the DVD. Alton Brown introduces the chef from Mr. Chow’s of Beverly Hills, who proceeds to create hundreds of beautiful noodles with his hands within minutes. So cool.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not Math

We wished Buster a happy birthday yesterday, and said, “You’re two years old!”

He frowned a mighty frown. “FIVE!” He insists he is five.

His five year old big brother is not so excited about the little one claiming that age, so we agreed that he could pretend that he’s eight. SwingDaddy and I are both pretending that we’re twenty-one. It’s a good day.

Count 'em. One, two, three, four, five.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Very Two

Two years ago today, I woke up with a headache. I was thirty-eight weeks pregnant, and having had pre-eclampsia the first time around, was highly suspicious. I called my colleague and canceled lunch plans. Then I called the senior vice president at work and left him a message to finalize my product pricing with the vice president and hurry up about it, because the baby was due imminently. I waited impatiently for my OB’s office to open.

At nine a.m. on the dot, I called and reported the headache. The doctor told me to come in right away to check my blood pressure. I paused to throw together a bag – shirt and pants, camera and charger, a few other necessities – and left it by the bedside, in case we needed to leave in a hurry. I’d spent a couple of days on bed rest due to pre-eclampsia before my first son was born, so that was probably going to be the diagnosis.

I grabbed my purse and drove to the OB’s office. High blood pressure indeed! After a rest period and a second check, it was still high. “What’s the safest thing to do?” I asked.

“Deliver,” she said. “You have a full term baby. There’s no reason to wait until there’s a problem.” She called the hospital across the street and confirmed they had a bed. “Go over and check yourself in.”

Ooooh, yeah. Not quite ready for this. “Can I go home first?”

“Why? Have your husband bring your bag. Just go.”

I walked out the door and sat in my car for a few moments, adjusting my mental state. I called SwingDaddy, who was about to give a demo at work. “Finish the demo, honey, then get our stuff and come to the hospital.”

I called my parents, who were at my sister’s house, caring for her and her newborn. “I’m about to deliver the baby. Could you please come over and take care of Q-ster tonight when Nanny J goes home?”

I drove across the street and walked up to Labor and Delivery by myself, with nothing but my purse. “Hi!” They were somewhat surprised, as moms-to-be usually come accompanied by more people and certainly more gear.

I sat on the hospital bed, eyeing the pitocin drip and waiting for a nurse to hook it up, when my contractions started. I’ve always been highly suggestible, but I like to think that the timing was just right this time.

Labor progressed for a couple of hours, and at 8pm, I noticed there was a TV in the room. I said to SwingDaddy, "Let’s watch Dancing with the Stars!” Nurses came in and out of the room during the program. I was trying to have an appropriate demeanor, to show that I was serious about getting the baby out. But we were also trying to watch the show! Fortunately, we managed to watch Kristi Yamaguchi’s number in between questions.

Buster was kind enough to wait until all the dances were finished before he was in the right position to push. Twenty minutes later, we had a healthy, beautiful boy.

A blessing.

After Q-ster’s more complicated birth (pre-eclampsia, pitocin, magnesium, hospitalization for everyone in the family including SwingDaddy), it was pretty close to perfect (well, if you ignore the C-section scare we had about half way through the evening).

(And continuing the tangential parentheticals, if you remember to way back at the beginning of the story, I did get a voicemail back from the SVP, saying he’d sorted out the pricing and to go ahead and have my baby now. I got to leave him a reply saying, “I already have, thank you.”)

You are a joy, my boy. You make me light up when I walk in the door and you say, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!”

Happy Birthday, Buster.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

That’s Us

Through an introduction from our dance mentor, a wonderful portrait artist created this impressionistic image of SwingDaddy and me. If you have any interest in having a painting done, let me know and I’ll send you the details. He works from photographs and via email – an artist for the modern era!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fashion Imposter

My fearsomely hip hairstylist has done it again. My last cut lasted five months and looked pretty cool (according to others) at each stage as the layers grew longer. Finally, I got too shaggy and headed back to the salon. Hip Stylist and I were pleased with the results, and SwingDaddy says it reminds him of Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux.

I’ve never disliked my hair. It’s heavy, straight and slippery, which makes updos a little challenging, but I learned to manage with lots of pins, rubber bands, and nets. Friends with textured hair (curly, slightly curly, or a little frizzy) could create really great looks for vintage hairstyles, with wisps waving gently at the napes of their necks. My hair never did that, but it didn’t bother me much. I wore it long for years, and I liked the color and smoothness against my skin.

I’ve now learned what my hair is particularly suited for. Dramatic cuts. The thick, dark, and almost entirely uniform color lends itself to showing shapes well. So, at this stage of life, I have a new little vanity. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep my hair short, but it’s kinda fun for now.

(No pictures of me yet, as explained in the footnote of this post.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Time Change

For someone who regularly goes to bed at about 2am, getting up at 6am for conference calls with colleagues in Europe is not a sustainable schedule. I’m going to either need to start going to bed earlier or schedule calls at midnight when I’m up anyway, and it’s the beginning of their day.

In any case, it’s a highly eventful time at work, and I’m going to bed, so here’s just one little snippet from the boys.

There is a “letter of the week” at preschool, and the children are expected to draw or cut out a picture of a word starting with that letter. Last week, it was “X.”

Me: What word do you want to bring to school? What things start with X?

Five year old: X-ray! Or xylophone.
Almost two year old: X-box!

(stunned pause)
Five year old: Wow, that’s pretty good.

Of course, I could wish that the micro dude’s alphabet skills leaned towards something more erudite, but we’ll settle for techie in our bizarre little household.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Experiments that One Finds in Bathroom Cupboards

Dozens of bloggers posted today in honor of Susan, a.k.a. WhyMommy, scientist, mother, and cancer survivor. She’s driven a lot of cancer awareness, particularly about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which presents without a lump, and shared how she handled treatment and recovery. The cancer care packages that I made for friends earlier this year were inspired by Team WhyMommy.

Unfortunately, Susan had a recurrence and went in for surgery today. The wonderful Stimey has organized Team WhyMommy’s Virtual Science Fair, and I’ll borrow Jean’s words to explain it:

We want her to know that she is loved and supported. But we also want her to know that our love and support is not all because of the cancer. We love and support her because of who she is, not just because of what she has. She is not just a cancer fighter, but an incredible person, one is passionate about science and especially women who do science.

I loved this idea, but in the midst of a seriously crazy week at work, I didn’t know what kind of science project I could contrive for the boys. Tonight, one (almost) fell into my lap.

During the bedtime routine, I was inspecting the bathroom as Q-ster brushed his teeth. I noticed that the cup that usually holds his little brother’s toothbrush was missing.

Me: Do you know where Buster’s toothbrush cup is?
Q-ster: Ummmmm

I searched every nook in the room and located the cup, half filled with liquid and goop, in the top drawer under the sink.

Me: What is this?
Q-ster: SCIENCE!

I asked him to please not leave liquids in such spillable places in the future, but called him over to examine the results. What did he put in the cup to begin with? A big squirt of red, blue, and white toothpaste and a lot of water. Hours later, what did it look like? White toothpaste and colored water, where the dyes had washed off.

I’m not exactly sure what we learned from this, except that it’s a good idea to spit out toothpaste after brushing, but I’m glad that Q-ster was motivated to conduct his own SCIENCE project.

We’re wishing Susan great strength in her battle, and I look forward to seeing her again at BlogHer in upcoming years.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Release the Kraken*

After a wrestling match over my big plush cephalopod: “Hey, this is MOMMY’s OCTOPUS!”

And a gift made at preschool labeled, “JILEFISH (Jellyfish), From Q-ster to Mommy.” I’m glad the boys are so understanding about cute sea life.

*Updated: I realized after I hit post that I missed the opportunity for a Clash of the Titans reference, so I changed the post title. Except that the first picture of Buster wrestling Opus looks more like the leggy Pirates of the Caribbean kraken, not the original Clash of the Titans kraken, and I haven't yet seen the remake, and what is a Norwegian kraken doing in a Greek myth anyway, and well, nevermind. But I'm keeping the new title.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Holiday Where You Get Candy

Q-ster explained today that Easter is the only Holiday where you get candy. We queried back, "How about Halloween? Or Valentine's Day?" And apparently even St. Patrick's Day has joined the treat crew. He was happy to change his theory and declare that every holiday included candy. How could a day get any better than that?

We hid eggs around the house, mostly filled with those multi-colored goldfish crackers that look painfully artificial on ordinary days, but seem positively gentle during the Easter mayhem. The boys scampered about and ate their way through all the goldfish, finding the occasional jelly bean and one chocolate bunny for each of them. This was the first year that Buster got the concept of an egg hunt, and he was pretty excited to join his big brother.

Next year, I'm determined to make Peep garlands. Aren't these delightful? Those of you who remember how well my felt Christmas tree ornament project went . . . or didn't go . . . since I finished exactly half of a snowman, are free to suggest that I contact the artist and try to buy some from her instead.