Friday, April 29, 2011

The Earth, Brought to You by our Sponsor

Q-ster's homework had a picture of the earth, and he was following the instructions, coloring in the water parts blue and the land parts green, when his little brother brought me crayons and demanded that I draw one for him too.

Except that he didn't request "the earth," he requested a "Google Earth!" I scribbled something out quickly, added some color, and said, "The earth!"

"Google Earth!" he corrected, and pointed to when I should mark our house and Ama and Agu's house (sorry, it looks like y'all live somewhere in the southern hemisphere now.) Buster's been fascinated with viewing our neighborhood through the application, and I guess it's affected his vocabulary.

After all, he probably does hear the phrase "Google Earth" more often than "earth." He doesn't pretend he's Indiana Jones, either. He says he's "Lego Indiana Jones!" and doesn't take kindly to correction. So we just cheer on the little brick hero and go about our way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And Now I Have to Learn Korean

The little dude is ready to take the test for his yellow belt in taekwondo already, and we had to help him fill out the application for testing. Because of the emphasis on self-discipline (thanks, Mir, for that pointer), there were various questions about behavior and expectations. The final question for the parents to answer was, “How has your child been behaving differently since beginning to study taekwondo?”

SwingDaddy leaned over and whispered, “He’s yelling in Korean all the time now.”

And it’s true. The whole class counts their movements out loud, and since taekwondo is a Korean martial art, they’re hollering in Korean. Of course, the problem is that 1) Q-ster doesn’t speak Korean, 2) he’s learning the words by hearing them yelled by a room full of kids in an echo-y space, and 3) most of them aren’t Korean either.

Basically, he’s shouting “ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR! FIVE! SIX! SEVEN! EIGHT” all day long at home, but it sounds like he’s speaking in tongues, because it’s not very distinct and we don’t know enough about the language (yet) to help clean it up.

We had one of my Scandinavian colleagues over for dinner a few weeks ago, and first he entertained Buster by building a marble run to the micro dude’s very exacting specifications, and then apparently, Q-ster made an appearance to show off his new moves. When I came back into the living room after putting the potatoes in the oven, I was completely confused, discovering this big European dude and my little Chinese American son chanting, loudly and unintelligibly together.

Eventually, we figured out that our guest had taken taekwondo as a teen, so he was counting along with Q-ster in Korean. Right. It’s certainly a melting pot of a world these days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A New Meaning to Playing Angry Birds

Buster received a cute set of plush toys from his grandparents for his birthday.

Introducing the Angry Birds!

Buster says “two birds are mad and one is cute.”

Now he re-enacts Angry Birds in 3D all the time. The night before last, he broke all his apple slices in half and said he was playing Fruit Ninja. Who says that video games turns kids sedentary? ;)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Books and Baskets

The little dude may love playing Lego Star Wars, but I’m thrilled to see how much he enjoys reading. As an intense childhood bookworm, I love to see him disappear into his room to visit new worlds after we’ve made a library trip.

I try to get a mix of more classic books along with Pokemon and superhero tales, and he’ll read just about anything right now, including cereal boxes. His little brother also insists on having a cereal box in front of him at breakfast now, ready for the moment when he can read too.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming of small gleeful children with baskets overflowing with sugary treats.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Open Letter to a Balladeer

Dear Bruno Mars,

I commend you for your sensitive, romantic songs like “Just the Way You Are” and “Marry You.” However, I am concerned about the relationship described in your recent hit, Grenade, so I’m sharing the following advice with you in hopes that it will help you with your future loves.

I don’t need someone to “take a grenade for me.” It’s a rare occurrence in suburban California, and I’m able to handle my own munitions issues. Instead, I need someone who can zip home from work when the nanny calls to say that our little rascal is running a fever.

I don’t need someone to ”put their head on a blade for me.” That just sounds really messy, and the last thing I need is more stuff to clean up. Instead, I need someone who is willing to work through Quicken and Turbo Tax with me. I assure you, the pain of a knife is fleeting in comparison to the depths of the US tax code.

I don’t need someone to “jump in front of a train for me.” Trains have pretty predictable routes, and with proper planning, one can easily avoid being in their paths. Instead, I need someone who will convince our network service provider to meet their service level agreements lest we lose internet connectivity and perish.

I am fortunate that my husband does indeed do all these things and think that perhaps changing your approach will lead to greater success. Best wishes,

Lady M

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Master Paper Cutter

That's 250 half inch wide strips of brown construction paper, among other things, that I cut as a kindergarten volunteer a couple of weeks ago. Hey, at least I got to start the day having completed a task, which is more than I can say about my interrupt-driven workday!

In an unrelated and truly sugary story - check out these Peep S'mores at Eclectic Recipes (via the Pioneer Woman) - I'm not sure whether to think yum! or be ill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Cutest Yogurt Ever

I actually posted about this yogurt from my a previous trip, but the packaging has even gotten cuter since then. I'm envious of my Scandinavian colleagues who have stashes of this in the company fridge in different flavors.

A little foldable spoon is attached on the underside, between the two compartments.

Separate yogurt and muesli compartments. It's a very sustaining mix with good texture. Actually, I don't even know that it's particularly delicious yogurt, but it tastes fine and it's super cute.

Unfold the spoon.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Determination, Part 127

I was hanging out with Buster over the weekend when he pulled a jumprope out of the toybox and started waving it around.
"Do you want to learn how to jump?" I asked, idly. The rope was way too long for him and it takes more coordination to jump than one would think, but what the heck. This might amuse us for a bit.
He was game, so I told him to raise his arms and swing the rope over his head. Then jump over the rope. And repeat.
Of course, this was kind of a mess and he ran off around the corner to run in the grass. I came around a few minutes later, and there he was, steadily working towards his two-part jump. Whip, jump. Whip, jump.
He is nothing if not determined.

Monday, April 18, 2011

White Belt, Plus Dance Geeks and Math Geeks Unite!

The little dude got his white belt today. So proud!

And in a completely unrelated story, check out this Hungarian folk dance representation of bubble sort mathematics. It's the intersection of two forms of geekery!
Note - in the embedded form, you'll only see the left half of the video, so click through to see the whole thing in YouTube. I'll get around to fixing the formatting at some point.

If that isn't enough, here's a shell sort, with better music:

Finally, a select sort, which takes so long that they actually sped up the video. It sure gives a sense of which are efficient algorithms!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yes, the Cupcakes

It was a good weekend at home - going to the library, running errands, sewing badges on a taekwondo uniform, cooking, and not being in an airport.

There were lots of video calls with family, especially for the micro dude to open yet more presents.

Plus ninja and skeleton cupcakes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baby Turns Three

SwingDaddy and I were commenting the other day that we used to never understand why Jennifer Grey's character in Dirty Dancing was called "Baby" by her family. At sixteen!

But now we do. You have a baby, and if you don't have another one, you don't quite get out of the habit of calling him/her "baby" until one day there's a birthday that makes you think, hmmmm, I need to break this habit, at least out loud.

You'll always be my baby, my lightsaber-wielding, Lego-creating, bundle of energy boy. Happy third birthday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kindergarten Egg Drop

I remember kids in high school physics class carefully preparing for an egg drop test - figure out the best way to package a raw egg in a box so that it'll survive a toss from the top of the gymnasium roof. The theories, preparations and results were a substantial portion of the semester grades and everyone was pretty stressed.

That must have left a residual impression, because when we got the Q-ster's classroom egg drop notice, I groaned. How much work was this going to take? And then, oh yeah, this is kindergarten. This should be fun!

There were strict instructions to put one's egg in a baggie first. The kindergarten teachers are well aware of who is going to be doing any real cleaning up.

Roll in bubble wrap.

Stop to pop some bubbles. Be reminded that this is going to make the bubble wrap less useful.

Stuff into box.

Decorate box.

This is the first event at school that I'm going to have to miss where I'd really like to be there. Sigh. I'm sure he'll have lots to report.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Tech Through the Eyes of Small People

Q-ster: Did you know that in the old days, TVs were really tiny? They were only the size of an iPad!

Pictured here, a game of Fruit Ninja.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Peeps

In the spring, every octopus spends some quality time with his Peeps.

This year, we are joined by some even littler ones.

They look ready to be eaten! Well, they look about as edible as real Peeps.

Buster is arranging a photo here.

A boy, an octopus, and a whole bunch of plush replicas of Easter-themed, sugar coated marshmallow candy. What could be more natural?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back to the Land of Jedi and Lego

So happy to be home, playing Lego:

and coaching Jedi piano.

We've had a ninja escalation. Buster wants Ninjago cupcakes for his birthday, just like his big brother. However, they've had an extra month to learn about the Ninjago mythology, and Buster insists on having skeleton cupcakes to go with the ninjas. (Lord Garmadon's skeleton army is the avowed enemy of the ninjas, for those not in the know.)

Skeleton head decoration beta trial:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Scene from a City

After a packed schedule of thirty-plus meetings in four days, I escaped the office Friday evening to enjoy a walking tour of the "historic marketplaces in the city centre and the Cathedral." A few pictures before I pack for the trip home:

You gotta love a place that takes the cannonballs (fired from ancient enemy ships) discovered during renovations and embeds them in a place of honor in exterior walls. It's the dark spot left of the "T"in the Posthallen (historic post office) sign.

The beautiful Baroque Cathedral has had many renovations, including a period when German architects turned the interior dark and Gothic and then a return to the original.

The murals on the ceiling look like they were added during a 1970's free-to-be you-and-me session.

And of course, there's no point in seeing a city unless there is cuteness, here provided by an adorable (but incredibly expensive) display of Moomin and Barbapapa puzzles and books. I blanched at the $50 price tags and picked some sweets to bring to the boys instead.

Homeward bound!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I Can Find an Octopus Anywhere

As far as I can tell, the writing says that it's a musical activity toy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Biebering On

This was as close as I got to the Cultural History museum, as it turns out they close two hours earlier than expected.

I had to console my self with this other cultural experience. Seeing Harry Potter translated into the local language (of course) and a Justin Bieber magazine, again in the local language.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Bonus Alphabet

I arrived in Scandinavia today, and I had an hour to walk around, get some air, and explore a children's store. I love seeing this fabric alphabet chart with bonus characters after Z.

This book doesn't show all the extra characters, and I'm not sure why. I'll have to ask someone when I get to the office tomorrow.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Baby Pirates and the New Jedi Look

Instead of packing for my upcoming trip or getting a little extra work done today, I had a couple of really fun procrastination project - making a pirate flag for my nephew's third birthday. I tried to make the skull as cute as possible.

I also made him a satchel, a la Flynn Rider, into which my sister put her old toy tiara. He was very pleased with it and called his mom "Rapunzel." I haven't seen the movie Tangled yet, so I'm just going to trust that this all makes sense.

A family friend made this amazing Penguins of Madagascar cake. Fondant penguins!

Buster enjoyed his cousin's toy car.

Q-ster has been steadily outgrowing the original Jedi robe that we made and it's not so dignified for Obi-wan to have his knees showing. My dad cut a new one out of a bolt of brown fabric that had made its way to me and I sewed it up. Jedi Master is lookin' good!