Monday, February 28, 2011

Rain Walk

A couple of weeks ago, we made a reconnaissance trip to the park to see if we’d need to make an elaborate picnic table acquisition plan for Q-ster’s party or whether there’d be plenty of tables to spare. The weather was distinctly not playground friendly and getting the boys through the park without a break for the extremely damp slide was a risk, but I needn’t have worried.

Each having their very own umbrella to carry was treat enough. Q-ster even sang a few lines from “Singing in the Rain,” which was a tune I had no idea he knew.

Mission accomplished – there are lots and lots of picnic tables, so we should be able to set up a home base. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that it won’t rain. Otherwise, we’ll have a lot of little ninjas running around our living room at high volume.

In unrelated news, if I ever get my hands on a GPS locator chip, I’m sewing it into the micro dude’s blankie. Enough said.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The 80's Rock

Woot! I'm not a karaoke girl - the whole lack of vocal talent and the preference to dance and all - but SwingDaddy downloaded just the perfect combination of new tunes for Rock Band and I was excited to sing them. Pat Benatar/We Belong, Human League/Don't You Want Me Baby, and Bonnie Tyler/Total Eclipse of the Heart. So awesome. I got my first 100% ever for We Belong.

Yeah, yeah, you can tell I was playing on the "easy" level and SwingDaddy's guitar level was on "expert," but this is one game that we can all play and enjoy together. Q-ster's gotten pretty good on drums.

My rhythm guitarist, however, missed his nap and dozed through our jam session.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Consumer Octopi

My children keep a sharp eye for octopus stuff when we're out and about. At Target the other day, "Mommy, mommy! Octopus!"

It's a cute bottle, but with short-haired boys, we don't have any need for detangler. I settled for a photo.

I almost picked up these anti-slip decals for the bathtub at the Container Store. So leggy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Boy and His Toaster

Inspired by a friend who says that his son (two weeks older than Q-ster) can operate a toaster, meaning he can make breakfast for himself and his little sister (two weeks older than Buster), allowing the parents an extra hour of sleep on the weekend, we have purchased an easy-to-use toaster.

We had a practice run earlier in the week, where the little dude was excited to contribute toast to dinner. And he made breakfast for himself yesterday!

We need to re-arrange our shelves to have plates within his reach, but this is very exciting progress for certain sleepy adults in this household.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Try to Find a Title to Connect These Topics

We had a team dinner tonight where a Scandinavian colleague was enjoying his margarita and commenting on how severe the DUI penalties are in his part of the world. The culprit gets an immediate 21 days in prison, loses his driver’s license for two years, and then pays ten percent of his annual pre-tax salary as a fine. Wow. Apparently, it halved their road-death rate.

And in a more cheerful and totally unrelated work story, I was delighted to overhear a conversation in the hallway where one young man was getting advice from another on picking a jeweler for ring designs. An engagement is brewing!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Behold the Ninja Cupcake

The little dude turns six in a couple of weeks, and he'd originally requested a pirate ship cake for his party. He made quite an elaborate drawing of the Black Pearl, complete with dark sails and cannons. However, the world has changed since last month, and now the hot thing is ninjas, specifically the Lego Ninjagos.

What in the world was I going do to for a ninja cake? Fortunately, the internet saved me, and I saw a clever design from Baking Makes Me Happy. This weekend, we baked yellow cake cupcakes (since Lego figurines are yellow) and prepared for the beta ninja cupcake trial.

Buster helped pour ingredients and Q-ster helped mix. They offered to decorate, but I thought I'd better start that myself if we were going to try a fancy design.

"That's ok," said Q-ster, "We'll be judges."
I started on the frosting.
"You need to explain what you're doing and tell us what ingredients you use."
I started narrating my actions.
"And then when we eat them, we'll tell you how they taste and you should tell us more about the cupcakes."

Apparently, my children like Food Network a lot.

Here are the first batch, where I tried some different frosting tips and practiced making straight lines in frosting. Clearly, I picked too frilly a dispenser for the center left cupcake, because it kind of looks like Little Bo Peep. The top left fellow looks like a mummy.

I like the expressive eyebrows on this guy, even if I got a little sloppy on his mask.

This is my best ninja.

I think I'm ready for the party - time to buy some blue, red, and white frosting!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Priorities of the Technology Driven Child

Buster opens up his alphabet “laptop” and says, “I play Angry Birds on my computer . . . but first I check e-mail!”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It Can Never Be Said That This Child is Not Determined

It took about a half dozen tries where he needed a little guidance, but the micro dude succeeded in climbing the tower. And then proceeded to climb it over and over again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Somewhat Less Serious At the Library

After the recent library trips that were laser focused on acquiring as many books as possible, this week, I could hardly get them to come inside. Who knew a concrete library courtyard could become so much fun!

And . . . in an unrelated note, I just about killed my (normally wonderful) GPS this week. I did a "search by name" for Target, and it listed all the Targets in California, starting with the MOST DISTANT location first. Ack!

Target 428 miles away, then 414 miles. I scrolled down endless pages to find the one 2 miles away. There’s a way to change the sort order, I’m sure, but can you think of a situation where you’d EVER want to know the furthest store from you?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Perils of Mr. Bump

Every parent has to come up with a strategy for dealing with owies that are more about drama than actual pain. Mine has been Mr. Bump.

As an accident-prone member of the Mr. Men series of books, some clever merchandiser realized that Mr. Bump was the perfect character to turn into one of those chilled gel packs that one keeps in the fridge for, well, bumps.

After sufficient repetitions of "Mr. Bump will make you feel all better," my children now only need to SEE the gel pack to feel ok. Buster will loudly demand Mr. Bump, grasp the prized packet, not even touch the alleged injury, and hand it back, saying that he's fine now.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, but given that the placebo effect is strong in my family, I might as well make use of it.


Non sequitur theater tonight. I just have to tell another "it's all about perspective" weather stories. I was speaking with one of my Scandinavian colleagues who was thrilled at the beautiful weather they had over the weekend. “It was twenty below," he exclaimed, "but in the sun, it felt like zero!”

Even taking into account that that's Celsius, it just makes me glad I live in California. If I make another trip to visit those guys, I need a new coat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Romancing the Dance . . . and Socks

It was a joy to return to the Ball last weekend, something that was the social highlight of the year when we were at the University. These days, it isn't such a big deal to us, squeezed in after a long week at work, right after taking Q-ster to piano lessons and finishing up before taking the babysitter home.

Still we performed one of our favorite numbers with dear friends, caught a couple of dances, and felt like a couple instead of parents for a few hours.

Goofing around backstage, daring each other to wear the silly argyle socks with our beaded gowns.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Love Every Year

This year, I thought for certain that we’d be heading to Target for Star Wars or some other licensed character Valentine cards. Instead, Q-ster wanted to make homemade cards again, so I happily got out the heart-shaped tracers and we got to work.

Actually, Q-ster got to work. He’s gotten amazingly capable. I traced the hearts so that we’d conserve paper, but he cut them all out at lightning speed, informing me that if we stacked the pages up, he could cut two at a time – and he did, swiftly and accurately! I wielded the glue stick while he wrote every one of his friends’ names on the cards and signed them. We added a lollipop for good measure. Go dude, we rocked the Valentines this year.

I looked back at an old Valentine post, and for a moment I thought it was Buster in the picture. Nope, it’s my big boy, looking like a little wee one, just two years ago. Treasuring the days, that’s for sure.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Boy and His Moose

We've taken down the last of the baby gates and started using the lower bookshelves. Buster is getting big!

I realized that these are the probably the first pictures I've taken of this corner of the house, because it was behind a gate, and we never spent any time in that area anyway. Now that the micro dude's books line the shelves, it's quite a cozy spot.

Perfect for a boy and his moose.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Library Lads

Our biweekly trip to the library has resulted in a longer and longer list of check-outs.
I love how Q-ster looks like he's sitting in a treasury - a richness of books!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Wheels and Skis

My Scandinavian colleagues were delighted with the perfect skiing weather last weekend, and shared pictures of their children bundled up and tucked into their Chariot carriers on skis.

We were quite grateful for a different kind of weather Saturday - 74 degrees and sunny - and made use of SwingDaddy's Chariot as a bike trailer instead.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Case of the Missing Blankie

The micro dude loves his blankie.
Loves, loves, loves his blankie.
I bought two of the same (sealife!) blanket when he was an infant, cut one in half and edged it so that we could rotate between two smaller and easier-to-carry lovies. One to snuggle, and one for the laundry. The second full blanket was tucked away, just in case we needed a replacement.

For years, it's never been a question. We always knew where Blankie and Backup Blankie were. This month, however, one of them went missing for a full two weeks, until I finally discovered the culprit.


The micro dude had been snapping his blankie like a wet towel, and he whapped me in the face, pretty hard. So I confiscated it, gave him a little talking-to, and uh, forgot about it. And then spent the next two weeks looking for that darn blanket!

Not one of my finer moments, although I suppose being on top of things three years ago made sure there was fabric to make two more backup blankies. Anyway, all is back to normal in the blankie rotation now.

And in a total non sequitur, we had a Tiger Mom episode this weekend and had Q-ster play his first at-home "recital" for guests at our house. My childhood is filled with memories of playing piano for whoever came to visit. I liked the result - lots of performances make for a nice confidence level - so, it's the little dude's turn now.

He did well and even smiled a little when he bowed. After his grimly serious demeanor at the last recital, I let him know that a smile was part of the choreographed bow, and he seem to buy in.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Narrowly Escaping Certain Scissors Trauma

My volunteer tasks at kindergarten were quite varied last week. I had to make some yellow rectangles with the big paper cutter (I'm a total pro), cut some lengths of black yarn (ok, after a false start with dull scissors,) and trace a number of squiggly black pieces of construction paper, to be used as Abraham Lincoln's beard. I was particularly glad that the teacher explained that one, since I was pretty curious (female reproductive system, but in black?)

I ran out of time (gosh, darn) just before I would have had to make in incision in the middle of a kangaroo's abdomen, allowing the joey to be inserted by the children later. Q-ster brought home the pair yesterday, so some other brave (or more crafty) volunteer did the task. I'm relieved I won't have to try to make the cuts next week without disemboweling myself on scissors.

My volunteer day happened to be the 100th day, so I got to watch the little dude count a hundred Fruit Loops and string them up. Mmmmm, I think I need some sugary cereal.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

100 Days

In honor of the 100th day of kindergarten, all the children were asked to bring a baggie of a hundred of the same item. I don't recall the same fascination with one hundred days back when I was in school, but it's a pretty cool idea, having a physical concept of what the number means.

We thought about what to bring. 100 pieces of Lego? 100 candies? Q-ster wanted to bring 100 peanuts, since we have a big container in the pantry, and we were all set to start counting, until I remembered that sending peanuts into an elementary school would probably been seen as akin to sending 100 anthrax spores or something.

We settled on a food item, because the little dude was worried that some items might get lost in the shuffle (say, if he sent his Legos), and the only thing handy was rice. So he counted 100 grains of rice. Note the big pile of extras on the far side of the plate? That's Mommy's fault, for giving him a half cup to start, instead of the tablespoon that probably would have been plenty. Rice grains are a lot smaller than one would think. (Unrelated: He's wearing a variant of his many pirate costumes in the picture.)

We were curious what the teacher might comment, since she must see all sorts of items coming into the classroom, so we asked Q-ster. "What did your teacher say?"

Q: She said thank-you.

Ok, telling it as it is.

It's been a good 100 days of school. Many more to come, I hope!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Four Of Us, All Visible

I mentioned our annual Epiphany dinner a few weeks ago, and here is a picture of us from the ever camera-alert Madame A.

The theme was Jane Austen this year, so I wore my Regency evening gown. SwingDaddy wore his fine coat, and the boys went comfy. Q-ster was happy to add a vest to be "fancy," but Buster wasn't having any of it.

Back to my gown - This is the third time I've worn it, but the first time I've been solo. In it's original incarnation, I wore it to a grand ball at 8.5 months pregnant with Q-ster, and later to a "kings and queens" party when I was 7.5 months pregnant with Buster. It's got to be a record, to get to wear a maternity evening dress twice.

I had it shortened and taken in, and now I'm fine with having my companions sit next to me instead.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Force Is With These Chopsticks

SwingDaddy received these most excellent lightsaber chopsticks as a Christmas gift. I started photographing too late during the first meal that we ate with them and discovered that half-eaten sushi is really, really unappetizing in pictures.

Here are some images from the second meal. It was determined that I would use the red ones, since red is my favorite color. (Note that the red Darth Maul chopsticks have magnets in the ends, so they stick together!)

Buster gets the green Yoda ones, since they are the shortest. Q-ster then chose the purple Mace Windu pair and SwingDaddy uses the blue Luke Skywalker pair. We are ready to fight! Eat, I mean, eat!