Monday, May 31, 2010

Best Thing Ever

This afternoon, Buster saw me sitting on the couch and ran over to crawl into my lap. “Love you too!” he said. My heart melted. The very first “love” words from him.

Just to note that it’s not all hearts and roses around here, I almost followed yesterday’s “Sharing” post with today's “Whining” post.

We had a couple of discipline issues with Q-ster last week, some of which probably stem from us expecting him to behave in ways that are developmentally far beyond what a five year old can handle. In any case, I was doing some research reading on the web when I came across a mother asking if it was ok to put her preschooler in a cardboard box in the dark as punishment. Waaa! She hastened to add that the box didn’t have a lid, so it was fine, right?

I think that it was probably written by a troll hoping to stir controversy rather than a real mom who was packaging her kids, but the psychologist writing the column handled it adroitly and suggested the questioner take a parenting class.

So now when one or another little person is being difficult, SwingDaddy and I whisper ‘cardboard box’ to each other and giggle.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sharing

In sharp contrast to the frequent chorus of "MINE," we do get those lovely moments where the boys are generous and giving to each other. Sharing an ICEE is a pretty big prize.

P.S. I've had to turn on the word verification for comments again, because I was getting too many spambot comments. Sorry, I know they're a pain.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beautiful Biellmanns at Stars On Ice

Every year, SwingDaddy, my sister, and I make our pilgrimage to the Stars on Ice show and have a great time. This year was no exception. They usually come to Northern California in January, but they delayed the tour start until the Olympics were over, giving them the benefit of fewer conflicts and the audience the enjoyment of seeing newly minted Olympic champions.

Sasha Cohen, beautiful as ever. I really like how she’s matured as a performer.


Michael Weiss, my favorite, although Tanith and Ben are giving him a run for the money.



The aforementioned Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, dancing a great number showing the progression of a relationship from children to teens to love as adults, complete with quick on-ice costume changes.






The cast goes Lady Gaga.


Yuka Sato is awesome.


Meryl David and Charlie White, in an innovative Indian piece.



I’ve always loved the Biellmann spin, but it seems like it’s become a mandatory trick. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and there’s actually a section on “Biellmann spin, Overuse.” In any case, the skaters still look great. Here’s Alissa Czisny.


And Mirai Nagasu.


And Sasha again.


The individual numbers were fantastic, but I noticed a distinct lack of the pieces I most love about Stars on Ice – the combinations of skaters in trios and quartets that you would never see in competition (Four Corners, the Red Hat ensemble, Sunscreen, etc). It doesn’t count when everyone’s on the ice, but just doing arm motions in synchrony. Those are fun too, but not the same as an intricate number. I imagine that there was not as much time to rehearse this year, coming off the Olympics, so hopefully this will improve next season.

When we saw the two dance teams together, we said, “Ahhh, THIS is what we come to see!”


Sasha and Alyssa had a nice number together too.


Shen Zue and Zhao Hongbo have such breathtaking throws, as well as a romantic story. He proposed to her on the ice after they finished the performance that would win them their third World Championship.



Thanks to the Stars On Ice Fan Club, I got to meet them!


Thanks to the skaters and production team for a great show, and thanks to SwingDaddy for taking these amazing pictures!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not Really the Baby Anymore

Buster’s language skills are growing in leaps and bounds. A few recent samples:

He used to say “Scoo me!” after he burped. There’s a new syllable now: “AXE scoo me!”

Edamame is a great incentive to improve one’s fine motor skills. After each bean he pops out of the shell, he loudly proclaims, “I did it!”

I teased him, saying, “Maybe I will EAT the BABY!” nuzzling his tummy. He indignantly replies, “NO EAT BABY!”

~
Totally unrelated, but totally cool: Jenny writes about her magical new Red Dress. I love red, I love Jenny, and I love her story.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tram Mastery and the Cajun HolyButt

My trip abroad earlier this month was largely contained inside conference rooms, but one of my colleagues (KM) and I did manage to get out the last evening and stroll around the city.

Figuring out the automated ticket dispensers for public transportation was a challenge because many of them only allowed you to “refill” a permanent pass with additional rides, and the lower-tech machines that accepted cash didn’t have any English on them. KM fed the words in the signs into his iPhone translator while I tried to piece together a story from the numbers. One option had a “24” in the text to it, which I guessed was for 24 hours. Another option had a “7” in it, which must be a week-long pass. Therefore, the two other options, one with a picture of a person and the other labeled with a smaller person must be the single trip passes, one for adults and one for children. We fed a lot of cash into the machine and pressed the button for the larger person. Tickets!

Shortly after, the right tram came zipping up, and a kindly passenger stopped me from trying to insert my ticket into the transfer pass dispenser and pointed out the ticket stamper. After a long stroll past gracious old buildings and racks of city rental bicycles, we stopped for dinner.


Of all the cuisines in the world, two Americans in Scandinavia walked into what turned out to be a sort of retro 50’s diner. We’d been eating local seafood specialties all week anyway, so seeing a menu offering Smokey Alabama Baby Back Ribs and Cajun HolyButt, of all things, seemed plenty amusing. And even funnier, the waiter came out to say that they “had not received their shipment of meat that day,” so there would be no hamburgers.

After a meal and a chat to absorb the week with a new business team, we turned back to walk towards the Palace, KM to his hotel and me to mine, where I started packing bags for the trip home. Home!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Raising Polite Little Hoodlums

Apologies to those unfamiliar with High School Musical.

The Boys are Back . . . again. This time, with more bandanna! The micro dude emerged from his big brother’s bedroom with the yellow bandanna atop his head, and we just about died smothering our giggles. SwingDaddy retied it to look more tough (well, for a two (FIVE) year old) and less like a cleaning lady, and retrieved a black one (just like Troy's!) to satisfy Q-ster.

Re-enacting a medley of Getcha Head in the Game and Now or Never. We are going to a professional baseball game later in the summer, and I’ve already warned the boys that the players will only play the sport – they will not also sing, so we should be prepared and not be disappointed when they do not break into song at climactic moments.

Ah, were all life a Disney musical.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My First Lab Report

Q-ster’s science experiments have been marinating since we set up the lab, so to avoid mold risk, I declared a policy that all lab equipment must be washed out each weekend. It was not well received. “Nooooooo, don’t pour them out!”

Now and again, I think of a good comeback. “Well, it’s time to write your lab report, otherwise you haven’t completed your SCIENCE.” The little dude was mollified.

I helped him with a few spellings, but he carefully recorded what had gone in the containers, and helped me clean them out. We saved one experiment, where he seems to have managed to formulate a sort of thick gel, almost a solid. I think we’ll observe it one more week.

We didn’t mix as many projects this time, since I suggested making Jello. Powder! Hot water to dissolve the powder! Cold water and ice to cool it down! Totally science, and edible to boot.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Day Is It?

With the number of cross-time zone meetings I’m having, it feels like Friday by mid-week, since I start each day twice – once at midnight, then again when Buster calls out, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” between six and seven o’clock.

Based on tonight’s results, I think that I can handle a midnight-1am meeting, but 1-2am is too much. I’m groggy and just not sharp any more.

Bedtime, y’all. I leave you with some images of Buster conquering the stomp rocket.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Time Warp

I’m noticing what an enormous difference it makes to my temperament if we’re 5 minutes ahead on our schedule getting to school. If we’re late, I snap at Q-ster for dawdling in the bathroom, for trying to put his shoes on without using his hands, for running around the yard instead of getting into the car, for playing with his backpack instead of fastening his seatbelt – basically for all the usual infuriating stuff that a five year old kid does instead of Getting.Ready.To.Leave.Home.

When we have those extra five minutes, I can cajole him, make him laugh, smooth the way, and say good-bye at school with a light heart. It’s going to matter a lot more next year when we have school drop off every morning and tardiness gets marked against his record.

To balance out that introspective parenting thought, here’s a guilty pleasure: Does anyone else think it’s funny that there are Team Edward and Team Jacob band-aids for pre-order at Hot Topic? Don’t ask me why I was looking. I suppose they are for the clumsy Bella in one’s life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wiggling

The Wiggles have become very popular in our home, especially the Big Red Car song. Buster created his own car by turning a small round table on its side and sitting behind it, “driving the table.”

Things only got more fun when his big brother decided to join in.

The only thing more catchy than Big Red Car is the Fruit Salad song. Don’t click on it, I warn you. That ditty can stay in your head for days.

Fruit salad,
Yummy, yummy!
Fruit salad,
Yummy, yummy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lunchtime Practice Run

No, I didn’t go for a practice run at lunchtime, and I probably never will. Running doesn’t interest me and seems mostly an opportunity for boredom and knee damage. Instead, the title refers to a Practice Lunch.

Since we won’t know whether Q-ster will be eating lunch at kindergarten until the day before school starts, I thought it would be a good idea for him to have lunch away from home at least once, so it would seem more familiar if that ends up being his schedule. We signed him up for “lunch bunch” at preschool, and today he joined some of his friends who regularly attend.

It was also good practice for me to actually pack the lunch, and I go on record in agreeing with the parents who say that one should prepare it the night before in order to make the morning schedule go smoother. Next time.

The little dude ate his sandwich, cherry tomatoes and surprise bite of chocolate, and enjoyed the novelty of carrying his lunch box. I’m totally going to have to subscribe to some kind of lunch idea website, otherwise he’s going to be stuck with turkey sandwiches for months.

We also took both boys to their annual physical checkups today, and the doctor pronounced them both healthy. She took the time to question Q-ster thoroughly, and it was neat to see him interact with an adult like the ready-for-schooler he is. He got a little nervous in repeating his phone number and didn’t quite get it right, but he recited it to me at home correctly afterwards. We’ll have to practice more.

We told the doctor that he was reading pretty well, and she mused that being ‘ahead’ sometimes makes kids bored in class, but we mentioned our school district and she immediately agreed that he’d fit right in. I expect lots of the kids will be reading. However, we didn’t help him learn to read because we were trying to get ahead. We just helped him because we would have had to refuse to answer his questions and withhold information to keep him from reading.

This is where I don’t understand the educational theories that say you shouldn’t teach kids to read until age 7 (Waldorf, I think.) The little dude was puzzling things out for a long time, and loves to be able to read street signs, cereal boxes, and make sense of the world around him. It’s also where it becomes obvious exactly what a handicap illiteracy is for adults.

Off soapbox. There is an unfortunate side effect to the reading, and that is now Q-ster can tell that his father has a stash of Star Wars action figures tucked away in the garage. “Look, that box says Star Wars!”

Back at the doctor’s office, Buster told the doctor repeatedly that he was five (like his big brother), and she was amused. He’s growing well, and did his best to show his gymnastic tendencies in the confines of the office. We are grateful to have two healthy kids!

~
In completely unrelated news, Guy Kawasaki posted two interesting articles today: How to be Persuasive and How to be Fascinating.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And Now I Need To Make a Lab Coat

After previous stern talkings-to about not leaving bowls of liquid in dresser drawers, no matter the scientific intent, the little dude was busted again last week. Nanny J opened a bathroom drawer and found a cup of rice soaked in water. Clearly, the admonishments were not working, but we didn’t want to punish him, since we like his interest in SCIENCE.

The compromise was to designate a (safer) space for his experiments. My mom suggested the big counter in the downstairs bathroom, and Q-ster eagerly agreed. I taped off a corner where he can leave his projects to marinate, and he set to work today.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Boba Fett Cookies, Jamba, and More Love


What does every Mommy Fett need for the kitchen? Spring-loaded Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma, of course.


In other news, summer has officially begun, as we hit Jamba Juice today. Buster and I split a 16 ounce cup, and Q-ster managed to finish one on his own. The boys definitely inherited their father’s liquid capacity, not mine. I'm still loving the Little Brother and Big Brother baseball caps sent by Grandma N.

We also enjoyed watching Ms. Redowa’s dance troupe at their kid-friendly outdoor concert. (She and her husband had the Purple Wedding, featuring newts and trampolines, for you longtime readers.)

It felt fabulous to be out of the mode of comparing execution with previous gigs, thinking about critique and feedback, and instead just having fun with their clever and creative dances. Here’s a moment where they imitate the standard Silicon Valley work day (at the computer) and a different number where they integrated a ribbon segment.


At the end of the show, one of the lead dancers was greeted by her boyfriend, who proposed in front of the whole crowd. Mr. Redowa, who was running sound, did a nice fade-in of “Love Story” as she said yes.

(Photo as he was taking the ring box from his pocket, just prior to kneeling most romantically.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Mid-Flight Movie Review

Besides sleep opportunities, a long flight also provided a chance to glimpse all the movies from the last year. At my usual movie consumption rate, it would have taken twelve years to prepare this review, but instead, it was just one lengthy zone across the ocean.

WOW:
Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. This was awesome.

Need to Netflix this:
Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Looked fun, and I want to catch the bits I missed during turbulence announcements and meal service.

Read on TheMovieSpoiler.com:
The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington. It was kinda interesting and I want to see if I understand the plot twist, but not compelling enough to watch the whole thing.

Watched most of it and am now sort of irritated:
It’s Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin. I like all three leads, I like the idea of a romantic movie for grown-ups, I like the relationship that Meryl’s character has with her children, and the premise is fun. The amount of alcohol featured (and a bit of pot) was enough to marinate a full sized pig. I’d rather they came up with more interesting plot devices than getting-drunk-and-making-bad-choices montages.

Click to next movie:
Me and Orson Wells, starring Zac Efron. Love Zac from HSM, but the two scenes I saw were dull and flat.
Leap Year, starring Amy Adams. It was so painful that I didn’t even make it through a single scene.

I also saw a few scenes of the Tolstoy movie (Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer), but I think it would take more concentration than I had to spare while trying to get a little work done, nap, and exercise my long-unused movie-selection muscles.

Did I make the right call on what to watch? Have any of you seen Invictus too?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Travel is Different When You’re a Parent

This is for solo travel. When one is shepherding the kids, that’s even more different.

Example 1: I was looking at the 11 hour airplane flight and thinking that it might be the best thing ever, because I would be able to sleep. Since I was flying on the weekend and had worked feverishly preparing for the trip, I didn’t even feel the obligation to open my laptop and work.

Example 2: My colleagues were bellyaching about jet lag and waking up in the middle of the night. I blinked and said that I had fallen asleep the moment I hit the pillow and woken with just enough time to dress and catch the taxi. The solution to overcoming a nine hour time change? Be the parent to small children.

Although to be fair to said small children, they’ve been much more cooperative than the work schedule.

*The Opera House