Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Able Baker Charlie Moment

SwingDaddy has been baking bread lately, with delicious results. Today, he tried a new type of yeast, in the hopes that the loaves would be more fluffy. Yep, they definitely rose more than the last set.

Does anyone else remember Able Baker Charlie from the Richard Scarry books? He was the little mouse baker who used so much yeast that the bread became gigantic. I’ve secretly always wanted to experience room-sized loaves of bread.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Life Backstage

A few images from our show last week. It was such a privilege to play in this theatre, a space where I've seen so many professional companies like Riverdance.

We're accustomed to dressing rooms with a few shared tables, but this one had 18 separate stations, with full lighting, power sockets, and miniature trash bins for each seat. Of course, we had to reset the fuses pretty frequently (even with no one using hair dryers and very few curling irons), but it was still very luxurious.

The action shots are starting to come in, and I'm looking forward to seeing (and sharing) them!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now I Know Where To Get Room Service

I’m very picky about my toast. I always butter it right away, otherwise the butter stays in a thin scraping on the bread instead of melting into it deliciously. If you wait too long before eating it, it becomes a soggy mess. As a result, room service toast is always icky, because it can’t possibly arrive during the short period of time when the toast is perfect.

Until now. I saw a tweet from Olympic champion (and Dancing with the Stars contestant) Evan Lysacek, saying “The girl who just delivered my room service brought a toaster to make my toast in the room so that it is fresh. #GottaLoveJapan

It’s good to know that there is a nation on this earth that knows how to handle toast properly.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

OK, I Can See It Now

The products of my kindergarten volunteer work are not always immediately obvious. Sometimes, I cut construction paper into shapes that the children will glue into creatures or make sections of yarn that will become the drawstring to a paper costume. It’s a kind of mystery until Q-ster brings a completed project home, days or weeks later.

Remember those little blue boxes I taped back at the beginning of the month? Well, one came home today in finished form.

I thought that perhaps it was some kind of butterfly box (antennae, heart shaped wings,) but the tag says “My snowplow is named Mike.”

Snowplow? I asked Q-ster to be sure. “Is this a butterfly?”
“No, it’s a snowplow.”
“Did you read a book about snowplows? Was there one named Mike?”
“No, we read about Katy, a tractor that uses a snowplow.”

I did a little web search, and sure enough. Snowplow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Small Boy Brings Me Flowers

The micro dude accidentally smacked in the face with a rolled up poster. I expected to have some trouble getting him to say "sorry," but he immediately turned around to give me a loving head-butt (ouch) in the process of hugging me and saying, "Mom, I love you." And then I felt great.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Giving Tree Meets . . .

The whole world has probably seen this video by now, but I still find it's funny.

Click (offensive stereotype warning!): The Giving Tree Meets the Sassy Gay Friend

It's a silly response to those who have been irritated by Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and how that poor tree gives a boy (later man) too much stuff instead of some good career advice.

I'm more of a fan of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. With positive suggestions from a pal, the Missing Piece learns to make a life for himself and roll happily alongside friends instead of yearning for someone to come along and complete him. I wouldn't go so far as to take a life philosophy from a cartoonist (as Scott Adams of Dilbert is fond of saying,) but the book does have a point.

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. K, introduced me to Shel Silverstein and his witty works. Now I need to find my copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends and re-read by favorites, like:

If you're a bird
be an early bird
and find the worm for your breakfast plate.

if you're a bird
be an early bird
but if you're a worm, sleep late.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


It's Buster's phrase really, the proclamation of "DID IT!" when he accomplishes something particularly satisfactory, like apprehending the last two peas on his plate or prying apart a set of Legos. The whole family has taken to the saying, and it was quite appropriate for his older brother in this story.

At the very beginning of the school year, Q-ster noted that his (slightly older) new best friend could do the monkey bars, but he couldn't. In mid December, he proudly told us that he too, could cross the monkey bars. He'd been working on it for months.

Last weekend, SwingDaddy captured the action. DID IT!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's a Costume Change, Not a Photo Filter

Backstage last night at tech rehearsal for our show this weekend. Have I not written about the concert coming up with a full live symphony? I'll catch up at some point.

It's a quick change, but I can take off the red Victorian gown, petticoat, corset, combination bloomers, red ballet shoes and put on my undergarments, other petticoat, white gown (with a little help), and pink ballet slippers in 2 minutes and 25 seconds. Whew. I had an extra minute afterwards, so I think I have time to add some white flowers to my hair, maybe a necklace if I'm ambitious.

Dress rehearsal tonight!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Modern Busby Berkeley

As someone who loves old dance movies, it's impossible to not admire the work of Busby Berkeley. His elaborate formations of chorus girls were frequently copied, but most imitators didn't notice that he had a coherent vision that led from one shape or image to another. Modern day directors who direct action sequences have a similar sense - you watch they fight scenes and you know who is fighting whom, who is winning, and why you care. Unlike, say Michael Bay, where you can't tell which Transformers in in the fight and what's going on.

In any case, we had lunch at the mall food court a few days ago (I know, for shame!), and a Korean "bibimbap" shop was running this commercial over their storefront. Brilliant, like Busby himself.

More detail on how it was creating to promote the globalization of Korean food.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sports Reinvention

All the news articles focus on how to get those slothful modern kids to set aside their videogames and television and go outside to play. Kids these days! Of course, this afternoon I’m faced with the opposite dilemma, where I wanted to wrap up a project on the computer and Buster was determined to GO OUTSIDE.

It felt kind of stupid to insist that we stay INSIDE and at an insatiably curious two-and-a-half, we really can’t let him wander the yard by himself. So, I accompanied him into the backyard for a game of basketball. He probably heard an audible click in my brain as I readjusted my attitude from annoyance to ‘let’s enjoy this.’

My childhood was filled with some pretty entertaining activities (learning to ski, figure skate, baton twirl), but I never got proficient at any of the main American sports – baseball, basketball, soccer, that kind of thing. I finally learned to hit a softball with some level of competence in high school gym class from a kindly baseball star who was generous to every person he met, popular or not - a pretty impressive thing when we were all age 16. I learned to (more or less) throw a football from my freshman advisees in college. But I’m awful at throwing and catching a baseball or basketball.

Now that I have two boys, I figure I should pick up some skills at the same time they do. So I dutifully practiced throwing baskets (with Q-ster’s basketball) alongside Buster and his tiny basketball. And we had a good time.

“You missed. You missed. You got it!” He exclaims.

Here are the little dudes earlier in the day, playing their version of “ping pong” with two tennis racquets and a small white plastic football. It’s never dull around here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Anthropologie Addicts Revealed

All these stylish bloggers that I read seem to be obsessed with Anthropologie, and I really didn't know why. I'd been to one store before and hadn't been impressed, but thinking back, I think that it was in New York City many years ago, when my tastes and budget were uh, less developed. Anyway, I browsed to their website and now I understand.

How can you not love a store that has ruffled shower curtains?

And this yummy necklace?

There is a brick and mortar store within ten miles of here, so I'll have to check it out one of these days.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Ambition

We had our annual Epiphany dinner with friends last weekend, and the boys were delighted to tackle the restaurant's chocolate cake. I think the cake serving was bigger than their heads.

Anything particular about Epiphany? Not really. It used to be a Christmas dinner until we discovered December was just too busy, with family travel for some, Nutcracker rehearsals for others, and so forth. More pictures later - it was a Jane Austen theme, so the costumes were great!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh the Irony

In the spirit of teaching my children to give thanks for the the thoughtfulness of others, we drew and colored thank you notes for everyone of their Christmas gifts over the holiday break. And then the notes have sat on my desk, waiting for ME to write MY part of the thank yous before we can send them. Getting right on it!

In a totally unrelated picture, here are the boys enjoying the local climbing artichoke. What, you don't have one in your community? There's a matching lettuce throne and veggie reading bench near by. I like this form of public art.

Updated: Mir pointed out that I mislabeled the artichoke as an asparagus, oops!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Clearly, We Just Experienced the Christmas Season

Q-ster had a playdate on Friday, and his little friend's mom rang the doorbell when she came to pick him up.


Buster: It's UPS!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Volunteer Skills

I'm moving up in the world of kindergarten classroom volunteer. This week, I got to tape colored paper to little boxes!

Seriously, I love sitting in the back of the classroom for an hour, every two weeks. The teacher introduces ideas so expertly, the children answer questions with this charming combination of seriousness and ridiculousness, and I get a little peek at how Q-ster interacts with his friends.

As a byproduct, I even get to accomplish something that I can touch. It's a nice change from back to back conference calls where it occasionally feels like the primary accomplishment is an agreement to cooperate on something in some indefinite time in the future.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nutcracker on the Mind

Last month was full of Nutcracker chatter from moms of tiny ballerinas, either adoration of their daughters' dancing prowess, joy in seeing their delight in performance, bemoaning the massive rehearsal commitment during an already-busy December, wistful reminiscences of their own ballet days, the love/hate decision of whether to do it again next year in order for the little darling to be a snowflake one more time, or a combination of all those thoughts.

I observed, mostly unaffected. Except for a brief summer when I was eight, my ballet studio hours were all as an adult, cross-training for other dance forms, so the backstage Nutcracker scene wasn't part of my childhood. I find the music spectacular, but unless I know someone in the cast personally, I'm done with seeing amateur and semi-pro productions. I've seen enough wobbly cavaliers and fairies, thank you.

(I also find the finances behind the ballet interesting, because I've read that Nutcracker revenue is often responsible for 50% or more of a company's operating expenses, but that's a separate tangent.)

Anyhow, Q-ster expressed some interest in the Nutcracker, given all the seasonal decorations and his fascination with complex plots, and we poked around YouTube for clips of the dancing. He's thrilled that he could maybe play a boy soldier (waving swords! on stage!) someday, but we loved this video clip of the Russian Trepak the best.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Big Boy Bed

The big boy has discovered, in his second night of sleeping in the big boy bed, that the true benefit of graduating from the crib is being able to walk around any. time. you. want. So, instead of writing about our wonderful Christmas, my birthday, or the lovely holiday week, I spent two hours keeping a delightfully giggly two year old company while he attempted to fall asleep. Good night y'all!

Sunday, January 02, 2011