Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yo, M House Cribs

Q-ster’s bedtime companions have varied from Twilight Turtle to a few other plush friends, but he’s mostly settled on Buff and Blankie for the last year.

In the mean time, Buster’s menagerie has grown. There’s Blankie, of course, Kitty and Doggie from Christmas, and Pooh-Ball. I’m not sure what he’s going to think when he eventually finds out that Winnie the Pooh is actually a bear, not just a ball.
In this winter weather, I’ve been rubbing lotion all over Buster’s skin regularly, and he’s started to call, “Doggie Lotion!” repeatedly until I come over and pretend to apply lotion to his toy. I’m not sure why he thinks that the cat and Pooh are sufficiently moisturized, but he takes great pleasure in making sure Doggie doesn’t suffer from dry skin.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pas de Pout

I have been chasing the micro dude every time he gets grumpy. Yesterday, he wanted his brother’s toy. Tonight, he didn’t want to stop smashing his truck on the ground. I was certain that I could capture his darling pout on film (or pixels, whatever).

But no. As soon as he sees the camera, he starts grinning.

I guess that’s a win-win. The temper tantrums are lasting less than ten seconds at this point.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fashion, Self Defense, and Technology in One Glossy Package

I’ve been a loyal InStyle subscribed for years, even when I worry that the mail carrier is suffering spinal damage from carrying the phone book-sized autumn and holiday issues, back in the day when people knew what phone books were. I think my favorite letter to the editor was from a woman who successfully beat off a mugger with her copy of the massive December issue.

The magazine fashions are fresh without being so ruthlessly haute that they’re unwearable, and they show celebrities the way I like them – full red carpet glamour mode, after the makeup artist, hair team, and stylists have all done their job. No “celebrities are just like us, scruffy and unkempt while they get their coffee” for me, thank you.

In any case, InStyle did veer off into exaggerationville with this last spread on shoes, but I am definitely amused.

Louis Vuitton provides heels that store your spare drill bits.

Prada flaunts the perfect match for Snowpocalypse.

Valentino encourages sea life to make a home in his creations.

And the pièce de résistance: Pierre Hardy shoes that come with their own knee pads, so that you won’t get scraped up when you trip over the platforms!

Bonus: Vivienne Tam has a new yummy-looking net book. If only I needed a net book.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Magic Kingdom, Take One

This is ancient history, but I never did get around to writing about our first trip to Disneyland. The boys change so much in a matter of months - back in September when we made the trip, Buster was only saying ”vroom” to indicate a car, instead of being able to name every last character that Pixar devised for Cars.

The kids slept perfectly during the night drive down south, in sharp comparison to the trail of tears the year prior. We had a pleasant time with my folks, who kindly watched Buster while we made the Disney pilgrimage the next day with Q-ster.

First up – Star Tours! Which of course, was pure bliss for the little dude.

Next, I knew we should hit Jedi training, which I learned about from Linsey. The Mace Windu-like lead Jedi had so-so martial arts skills, but his patter was perfection. He warmed up the crowd and the waiting children (and parents) cheered.

“Who wants to be a Jedi? Take a moment to memorize what you’re wearing.”

I thought he meant for the parents to check out their children to better identify them, but no. It was for the children to look down at their own clothing. He started to call them up to the stage as they begged to be chosen. “You in the blue shirt, come up and be a Jedi! You in the striped hat!” Without that moment to self-identify their outfits, most of the kids wouldn’t realize that they were being addressed.

Not surprisingly, Q-ster declined to participate in the swirling crowd of bigger strangers. His reasoning was perfect. “I don’t need Jedi training because I’m already a Jedi.”

We had a blast with the Jedi, Pirates of the Caribbean (where I got soaked in the big downhill splash), Autopia, Finding Nemo (the cleverly re-branded 20,000 Leagues under the Sea submarines) and Dumbo (which had the longest lines in the entire park, perhaps due to the post-Labor Day, largely preschool crowd).

We hustled past Frontierland before Q-ster could notice the Indiana Jones Adventure, which he’s too short to ride. We danced to some ragtime piano played four hands by the resident musician and an impressively talented guest. We even made it back on Star Tours a second time before Q-ster declared he was tired and ready to go home.

We got off pretty easy with the souvenirs. The idea was to minimize damage to our other son, so the little dude knew not to even ask for a hard plastic lightsaber, though he was mighty tempted by the blasters. I figure they have years ahead of them for weapons play, so we’ll hold to the plushies and imaginative use of Legos for another year.

Q-ster chose a deck of Star Wars playing cards and some candy, while I located my treasured Mickey Mouse-shaped rice krispy treats with chocolate dipped ears. We picked up a ball-shaped Winnie the Pooh for the ball-obsessed micro dude, and headed home, satisfied guests of the Disney empire.



Monday, February 22, 2010

The Poutiest Pout


Buster’s got the poutiest pout. It’s like half his face goes into the pucker when he’s mad. I can’t get a picture of it because I’m usually doing damage control, and he’s cheered up by the time I can get a camera.

I can’t quite bring myself to stage a photo op by getting the camera first, and then manufacturing a reason to make him mad. So, we get a smiley picture instead. There are worse things.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celebrity Twitter! and Figure Skating Nonsense

If you've been following the Winter Olympics, you've surely heard the verbal attacks that second place finisher Evgeni Plushenko has unleashed on the gold medalist American, Evan Lysacek. I just find it ironic that someone performing to music and wearing this many sequins is complaining that he was beaten because judges are placing value on elements other than jumping skills.

Moving on to a much more gracious champion, I was thrilled to see Michael Weiss tweet about this year's Stars on Ice tour.

I asked if he'd be doing the fan Meet and Greet at our stop.



I hope we get to meet both Michael and Evan!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby

SwingDaddy’s recovery from knee surgery has been going smoothly so far. The hospital sent us home with a “pneumatic compression and circumferential cold therapy” Game Ready device which has helped make him a lot more comfortable. That, and the Vicodin, although he’s mostly off that by now.

The Game Ready has a compartment where you put ice water, and it pumps the liquid through a tube that circulates it through a sleeve surrounding the injury, keeping it nicely cool. Medical technology has certainly been improving. The control panel shows the temperature of the water and lets you set how long you want it to run. The only thing it doesn’t do is carry itself to the sink to dump out the melted ice and replace it with new cubes, which is kind of a heavy and messy process.

The whole family loves to solve problems, so everyone got into the plan. My dad suggested scooping out the water, which eliminated the hauling/lifting problem. My mom brought rubber gloves, which were key because dealing extensively with ice water gets painful to the hands. SwingDaddy thought that maybe we could freeze small containers of water, which would be easier to replace.

In the end, I bought a dozen 8-ounce bottles of water, poured out a bit from each one to leave room for expansion, and froze the whole set. Now I just don a glove, retrieve the bottles containing the melted water from the Game Ready compartment, replace them with frozen bottles, and put the original set back in the freezer. We’re rotating though three sets of bottles, which means the fresh ones are frozen solid and last for a couple of hours. It’s a tidy and pleasing system, which could only be made better by not having an injury in the first place.

Q-ster also contributed by bringing his Leapster to set by the bedside so that his dad would have entertainment, as well as doing some fetching and carrying. Buster helps by being cute. The first week has gone well, and we’re all looking forward to when SwingDaddy can walk without crutches again.

(No disclosures to make: The Game Ready is a rental for which we’re paying. This FTC stuff is kind of tiresome, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bedtime, When the Server Status Really Matters

Admittedly, we are a geeky little family. We live in Silicon Valley. SwingDaddy and I both work in tech. We play Star Wars and the micro dude wants to tinker with his dad’s “icePhone.”

The kids are also well versed in the treasures of YouTube. The fashion changes – we used to watch America’s Best Dance Crew clips endlessly, and then Star Wars Lego cut scenes. These days before bedtime stories, the boys sit on my lap and we watch either a music video from the music Cars or one of the Mater’s Tall Tales shorts.

Now and again, the server goes down, and YouTube is temporarily inaccessible. This is, as you may imagine, a disaster beyond comprehension.

A couple of days ago, I came downstairs with a wailing, back-arching, inconsolable child in my arms. SwingDaddy raised his eyebrows. “Did he get hurt?”

“No, the server’s down.”
Ah, Buster is learning early, those traumas of technical difficulties. I rebooted the server, headed back upstairs, and we watched “Life is a Highway” for the four thousandth time.

Last night, I discovered that the server was offline when we sat down for a bedtime video, and it was already late in the evening, so I punted and looked for something on the hard drive of my work laptop that we could watch. I found the photo montage that we set to music for Q-ster’s first year, and Buster was happy to look at his brother’s baby photos.

He demanded more when it was finished, but the only other video I have on that PC is a product placement clip that the Company did on 24 a few years back. We watched the Counter Terrorist Unit specialist shamelessly plug our product, and then read Moo Baa Lalala. All in an evening’s work as a parent.

That does remind me though – we need to create the Year One photo montage for Buster before he turns two. And I should decide whether or not to order the DVD of Mater’s Tall Tales from Amazon or not, given the recent Amazon/Macmillan debacle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friends with Books

A flashback to August 2007.

The little dude was examining the letters on my t-shirt and started spelling them out.

Toddler: M-O-M
Mama: (smile)

Toddler: I-N-A-T-R-I-X
Mama: Hmmmmm.

Toddler: What's that?
Mama: It's a picture of, uh, bracelets.

Toddler: With a key!



Two and a half years later, Kristen (a.k.a. The Mominatrix), has published The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex. In addition to wishing that I came up with the name first, I can't express just how exciting it is to see friends getting book deals.

I'm participating in the Silicon Valley Moms Blog book club today, but I paid for this book myself a couple of months ago, because Kristen is as funny as ever. One of my favorite quips is in a chapter about birth control, where she prints a table comparing methods, effectiveness, and side effects. Under the Counting method (sometimes known as rhythm), the side effect is, um, babies.

~

Speaking of SV Moms Blog, my last post (Confessions of a Scrapbook Drop-out) got picked up for syndication! Sacramento Bee and Charlotte News-Observer, here I come.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Watching Gold

Somehow, even the most unlikely sports are interesting during the Olympics. I’ve got to say that the mogul freestyle event had to have been dreamed up by a team of orthopedic surgeons in need of business. The snowboard half pipe was probably created by life insurance specialists, but I’ll admit a fondness for Shawn White and his Flying Tomato nickname, especially since he says he was very polite when he declined to accept a sponsorship from Heinz.

Tonight’s big highlight was seeing Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao win gold in pairs figure skating. With such a compelling story of overcoming adversity (horrific injuries, terrible costumes), winning bronze in the 2006 Olympics, retiring, getting married, touring with Stars on Ice (where they developed great performance style and much better costumes), and returning to competition, how could I not root for them?

Photo taken by SwingDaddy when we saw them last year on the SOI tour. Hopefully, we’ll see them again in the spring!

In other news, here’s a fairy skirt I put together for one of Q-ster’s little friends. Organza, ribbon, rhinestones – lots of fun for me (I mean, the birthday girl), and a nice change of scenery from the usual weapons manufacture. Next on my plate: A holster for Han Solo. Check out this bolero vest that I found at Forever 21 and adapted for the little dude!

P.S. Did you know that Han Solo has red stripes on his pants? I had never noticed, but now that I live in Star Wars costuming-land, these details apparently matter.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crafty Love

Q-ster has really created some awesome crafts for me at school. This one is a little heart-shaped pin.

Back in November, he came home from preschool saying, “I made you a necklace for your birthday, Mommy! I hid it in my room.”

The next day, his preschool teacher caught me at drop-off. “That necklace – we were teaching A-B patterns, and Q-ster was the only one who sat through and strung the whole pattern!” She especially wanted me to know that, and since he’d told her that he was hiding it under the couch, she worried that it might get vacuumed up. We know that the couch in his room hides his treasures, so aside from periodic inspections to make sure there aren’t any candy wrappers, we leave it alone.

Five weeks later, he brought out the necklace of beads and presented it to me with a great flourish. Tears in my eyes, that’s for sure.

I hope you had a fabulous Valentine’s Day. I loved having my boys (big and little) and my parents here today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

If Our Family Was Made of Little Clay Creatures

This is how we’d look!

My parents brought us this cute set of figurines that represent the Chinese zodiac years for each of us (Tiger and Dog, with little Rooster and Rat for the boys).

The shop had all the combinations for customers to assemble. I especially like the spiny dragons.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You Know You’re a Parent of Young Children

. . . when you’re sitting with your husband in the pre-op room at the hospital waiting for the surgeon to finish the previous operation on the schedule and you both realize that the last time the pair of you had a leisurely, uninterrupted conversation of this length was in the pre-op room prior to his appendectomy last spring.

We were both so tired from working late last night to wrap projects for work that he wondered whether he would need anesthesia or just pass out on his own.

Anyway, the ACL repair went great, and SwingDaddy’s knee is carefully encased in a sophisticated water-cooling system.

The boys were happy to see us when we got home in the afternoon, and the cavalry has arrived in the form of my parents, who have already corralled the light saber forces of the household and made an ice run.

Thanks for all your kind wishes.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bride of Non Sequitur Theater

1) I wrote a post at Silicon Valley Moms Blog about how I had a disastrous scrapbooking experience, and I thought was kind of amusing, but it got posted on the same day as a very impressive missive about the value of education. So, I’m a little embarrassed to be so trivial and must remind myself that I have a different mission in blogging.

2) I am highly entertained by the psychological profiles developed by credit card issuers that I read via BlogHer. Apparently, if you use your credit card at a bar, it indicates you’ll probably miss a payment soon. If you pay for a dentist appointment, you’re less likely to miss a payment. And people who buy those little felt pads to put under the feet of their furniture? Almost never default on credit payments.

3) SwingDaddy is scheduled for knee surgery tomorrow. It was a massive polka pileup on the dance floor. No, not really - it was a ski accident.

Please keep us in your thoughts.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cirque unto the Second Generation

I’m a huge Cirque du Soleil junkie. Other people think of Las Vegas as the destination for gambling, partying, and bachelor parties. I think of the city as the Cirque Mecca, with six standing shows and more in development. If I ever get to visit Montreal, I will find a way to sneak into their headquarters.

(Disclosure: Until this week, when I received a pair of free tickets for opening night of their San Jose run through the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, I have always used my own money to purchase tickets, DVDs, and CDs. I have no other relationship with Cirque other than being a rabid fan and wistfully browsing through their job openings. Sadly, I have none of their in-demand skills, such as high dive or trampoline, so I await their casting call for vintage ballroom dancers.)

I love the Cirque combination of art, music, athletics, and a killer production delivery. Plus, the geeky party of me loves imagining how they run the logistics of hundreds of people and dozens of truckloads of material on the road for years of touring.

When we saw the light-hearted promo video for their new creation, OVO, it seemed the perfect show to take Q-ster for his first big theater event. We took him back in December, when the Cirque opened in San Francisco, and the little dude had a magical experience. We loved the costumes, the playfulness.

The acts were extraordinarily creative. For instance, banquine (acrobatics) on a platform way up high between two trapezes. Tumbletrack/trampoline combined with a climbing wall. Really cool stuff. The in-between-acts choreography was a little weak for Cirque standards, but the acts themselves were better than we’ve seen in a few shows. Q-ster liked the” ants,” who balanced big slices of kiwi fruit (as well as each other!) with their feet and especially enjoyed the crickets, who bounced off the trampoline and clung to the giant climbing wall.

We went to the park the next day, where he re-enacted the crickets routine.

Q-ster also drew a picture and carefully depicted each insect/acrobat in the show. He asked me how to spell “Cirque du Soleil” (“That’s a weird spelling, mom.”) and I took a picture of him holding it up, thinking I could send it as fan mail. I didn’t have much luck finding an address or email, so I set it aside, thinking I’d get to it later.

Then we got the note about tickets available from Silicon Valley Moms Blog. (Yes, the market is big enough here in the Bay Area that they pack up the whole darn tent and move 45 miles down the peninsula to run for another two months. I think they like to winter in California. ) SwingDaddy and I had to fib and say that we were going out to see Avatar, because Q-ster would have been sad to miss the show, but it didn’t start until after bedtime, a sure recipe for preschooler meltdowns.

I brought the photo of him with his artwork and took it to the Big Top. “Is there a place for fan mail?” The employee assured me that he’d take care of it. And three days later, we received this email.

Thank you, little Q-ster, for the wonderful photo with the drawing you made!
We are happy you liked our show.

We hung the photo in our artistic tent for all the artists to see!

Have a wonderful day!

Marjon van Grunsven,
Artistic Director
OVO
Cirque du Soleil


If they hadn’t already, they totally won my heart. The artistic director wrote him back! I like to imagine that the acrobats looked at the picture and figured out which one sketch represented themselves. Yay, Cirque!

OVO plays in San Jose for February and March. Special Valentine's day offer from SVMB: Buy one ticket get one free.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Another Holiday Gone Awry

Remember the Darth Vader Easter Basket? Here’s a heart shaped box of chocolates with an image of Darth Vader and Anakin. Who is coming up with this stuff? At least a picture of Anakin and Padme could be construed as romantic.

In related news, Buster has been asking me to “Read Darf Vader!” from the book sent by our kindly friends at Waltzing with Widgets. It’s the easy-reader version of whole story - from Anakin as a innocent child, learning to be a Jedi, turning to the dark side, doing terrible things, and eventually repenting with the help of his son.

For those of us who are children of the 70’s and 80’s, it’s a little weird to see it laid out so tidily in a little book. “Luke, I am your father!” was such a stunner to us. I guess for the young’uns, everyone just knows it, the way I know who Rosebud is, even though I haven’t seen Citizen Kane.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Seven Red Things

I am jumping on this meme even thought I mostly hate memes, because it’s been a really long week and I’ve used up all my words. Hat tip to Stimey for the idea.

Necklace made for me by Q-ster, "because you like red."

Towels received as wedding gifts, now worn and tattered, awaiting either the Goodwill bin or being made into space aliens.

The alpha lobster in my plush sea life family. SwingDaddy bought him for me on our honeymoon, and I named him Rhedd, to match my childhood lobster toy, Scarlet.

Sigg water bottle, with BPA in the liner, that I've really been meaning to get rid of.

External hard drive for work.

The very cool printer that Rugger Mom and family got me for birthday/Christmas. I can plug my camera right into it, and it prints little stickers. Great party toy!

I had been checking out this fashion book for years on Amazon, and finally saw the price drop. $1.44 plus $3.99 shipping!

Q-ster looked at it: "Red. Car. Pet. I don't get it."

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Brothers

While the boys were playing tonight, Buster whacked his big brother on the head with a plastic block. Tears ensued, and we consoled Q-ster with the much coveted Mr. Bump cold pack.

Buster saw Mr. Bump and loudly demanded it.

“No, no, your brother needs it.”

Grabby little hands approached.

Q-ster asked, “Do you want me to hit him on the head so that he can have a turn using Mr. Bump too?”

Ah no, let’s just leave things as they are. But it’s very thoughtful to offer your help.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Star Wars, Star Wars, Riverdance

(Kind of like Duck Duck Goose, but not.)

At work yesterday, a manager from another business unit gave a run-down of their upcoming projects. The PowerPoint listed the latest release of their software with the title “Alderaan.”

You could immediately tell who knew their Star Wars lore. I turned to my left, where my colleague and I both smothered a giggle, “Alderaan? It’s that a little inauspicious?”

Someone across the table mouthed “Blew up???”

Alderaan is the planet that was blown up by the Death Star. It’s like naming your project “Titanic.”

~
When I came home from work today, Q-ster wanted to play Star Wars. He was Obi-wan and I was Padme, and we greeted each other in character. “This is Anakin Skywalker,” he said, gesturing to Buster.

The micro dude blinked at me and said, “An-kin.”
“Are you a little Padawan Learner now?”
“Yeah.”

At least he’s getting parts than he used to. His big brother had him play an Ewok for weeks before getting promoted to Anakin.

~
In a conversation tonight that was probably triggered by an explanation of the house security system, Q-ster asked, “Why do people break into houses?”
“Bad people break into houses sometimes and take things that aren’t theirs.”
“But why do they do it?”

Not feeling like taking a dip into psychology and the underworld, I copped out and said, ”Maybe they’ve gone to the Dark Side.”

“Mom! This is REAL life, the Dark Side is just pretend.”

Busted by my four-year-old again.

~
Lest you think we are nothing but warfare here in Chez M, I am taking Q-ster to an Irish dance class tomorrow. It may be an unparalleled disaster, or he may love it as much as he loves pretending to star in Riverdance at home. We’ll find out.

Monday, February 01, 2010

OMG, Kindergarten

How did this happen? He was only this big yesterday!