Thursday, September 29, 2011


The little dude wrote "Harry Potter book 8" yesterday after school, just 'cause he wanted to.

P.S. The audit, panel, and video shoots went well!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My First Reality Show

I got to try my hand at reality show hosting earlier this month and had a blast. My business unit held a dual-location conference that included "So You Think You Can Invent." Half the contestants and judges were in California and the other half were on the other side of the Atlantic, all green screened together. The European host and I handed the action back and forth.

I made half-sheet prompt cards with the show logo on the back, just like Tom Bergeron uses on Dancing with the Stars, and picked a bright colored dress with a belt, so there'd be a place to attach the microphone battery pack. If this tech gig doesn't work out, maybe I'll try for reality TV next.

Wish me luck for tomorrow. I'm presenting for an ISO audit in the morning, acting as a panelist on product lifecycle at a conference over lunch, and shooting two product videos in the afternoon. And eating lots of orange foods to fight off being sick and probably a bit of residual jet lag from the nine hour time change. Wheee, adrenaline!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Harry

Q-ster's Lego representation of Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

And note what's in the background - book 6. Since I took the picture, he's finished it up and working his way through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

We're not sure what we're going to give him to read when he turns seven. The Silmarillion?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Ninja Strikes

With full service smiles!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Octopus of the North

Somehow, I lost a whole week there, going back to Scandinavia and having a horrible internet connection in the hotel. More tales to tell, but until then, a few friendly octopi.

This grapefruit-sized pair was almost $50 (each), so I didn’t even bother to convert the price of the cantaloupe-sized relative on the shelf above from kroner to dollars.

Signage from a shop that looked adorable, but was already closed by the time I walked by.

There’s a street in the capital city that I mentally call Hedgehog-House every time I walk by, and these water bottles would certainly serve that banner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clearly, The Important Room

Buster accompanied us to Q-ster's piano lesson a few weeks ago, and he immediately occupied himself with a toy racetrack that the teacher cleverly leaves available for younger siblings. He pushed the cars around for a while and then discovered the neighboring dollhouse. The most entertaining part? The bathroom.

He put each little figure on the toilet in turn. "He goes potty!" he whispered gleefully.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Early Morning

Big brother reading to little brother. Awesome.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lawn Games

"Hockey," as played on the grass with two lacrosse sticks and a plastic baseball.

"Golf," as played with a baseball bat, baseball, and soccer cone as tee.

Stomp rockets, with much glee.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

It’s Not an Adventure until Someone Falls into a Fountain

A story that I’ve been meaning to write up since it happened in May.

As is my tradition when SwingDaddy goes for a long bike ride, I took the boys on an adventure. We headed over to the University, where we peeked in on a taekwondo tournament briefly and then strolled around the campus, ending at the Claw, a fountain at the center of campus. I’ve always loved the campus fountains, and many undergraduates make a practice of “fountain hopping” on hot days.

Here’s a picture of Q-ster as a wee little dude next to the Claw. So intrepid in his sealife hat!

Back to present time, the fountain looked very pristine, newly resurfaced and cleaned, with clear water to admire. The boys first sat on the wide stone bench that surrounds it, but of course it was only moments later that they climbed up and started walking on it, which naturally progressed to running.

“Walking only!” I called.

They slowed up and continued walking around the fountain. Lots and lots of laps around the fountain, just barely keeping to a pace they could technically call walking. Finally, I told them they could make one last lap and started walking to the other side to guide them away. They grumbled.

Q-ster was the quickest to react. He yelled, “Buster fell in!” I ran over, put down my camera and bag, kicked off my shoes. It looked like the micro dude was going to stand up and walk back to us, but he swerved on all fours, moving towards the center of the Claw, so I waded in and hauled him out.

I popped back on the bench and patted his back. He spluttered a little. No panicking, no crying, not even a little uncertainty on his face. He stood there dripping, sturdy and ready for action again.

A kind stranger had also climbed in, and we thanked him for his attention.

I took off Buster’s wet shirt and mopped down his body. “Q-ster, give me your hoodie!” I wrapped the Buster in the jacket and gave my hoodie to Q-ster to wear. Rolled up my soaked pant legs, slipped my sneakers back on, and squished back to the car, where we dried off and got into dry clothes. This is where having spare pants for a potty training boy came in handy. I keep spare clothes in the car too, in case I’m wearing a dress and need sweatpants to change a car tire or something.

Miraculously, my iPhone survived. My pants were wet past the thigh pocket, but the water must have soaked up the leg instead of actually being immersed that far. My padded fabric phone case was wet, and I think it slowed down the water. I wrote the etsy crafter who made the case to tell her that her work had saved my phone.

After we got home, took hot showers and had lunch, I started getting us ready to go to the library when I realized that Buster only had one pair of shoes, and those were soaked. However, in a triumph of procrastination, I dug through the closet and found the old sneakers that I had intended to take to Goodwill when Q-ster outgrew them two years ago, and popped them on the micro dude’s feet.

The library also has a wide stone bench, this time surrounding a courtyard. Both boys immediately climbed up and started making laps.

“Walk, walk, walk!” I guess there weren’t residual issues from falling into the fountain. (Although later, I had to talk Buster through seeing picture of the fountain, in an attempt to make sure he was ok.)

As with most parents, I’m more relaxed the second time around. I didn’t even get the adrenaline of fear – it was just a matter of hauling the micro dude out of the water, which he probably would have done himself, if I’d given him a moment more. Of course, I also realize this would never have happened the first time around. Q-ster is more naturally cautious, and also I wouldn’t have let him walk on the stone bench at that age. Buster gets to try things a little earlier, because his big brother is already doing them.

An adventure indeed!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A School of One's Own

After a lifetime of waiting for his big brother outside classroom doors, Buster got his first day of preschool. Total pro.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Q-ster has been fascinated by Wizard's Chess, ever since he read about Harry Potter and Ron Weasley playing with the animated pieces.

He and Buster have been playing "Wizard's Chess" all day with Chinese chess pieces and Calvinball rules. I played him tonight and at one point, he jumped his pieces, saying "I double activate this move," and when questioned, he very seriously told me that he had made up that rule and we should just continue forward.

I was insufficiently alert to make up my own rules, but I will be prepared tomorrow.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Plush Weaponry, In Deeper Than I Expected

Buster has been a good companion to his big brother, being Anakin to his Obi-wan, Captain Jack to his Will Turner. Lately, he’s really gotten into Lego Ninjago, especially the blue ninja – Jay, Ninja of Lighting – and spins himself endlessly, whipping his blankie around exclaiming, “The Golden Nunchucks of Lightning!”

Here’s an image of Jay (on the left, accompanied by Kai, red ninja of Fire). In the Lego Ninjago story, the characters spin around very quickly, creating “tornados” of power.

After I finished Q-ster’s Harry Potter broom yesterday, it seemed only suitable that I make Buster some nice, squishy Golden Nunchucks of Lighting that he could brandish. And here is our little ninja!

He was so delighted that he spent the rest of the afternoon spinning around with the nunchucks, wearing them over his shoulders like a scarf, so he could snuggle with the soft yellow felt.

I got curious, because I’ve always thought that nunchucks seemed like a particularly inefficient form of weaponry – it looks a lot more likely that you’ll bonk yourself on the head than actually do any damage to your opponent. Hello, Wikipedia.

Well. It turns out that real nunchaku have very short chains. I was modeling my plush nunchucks after Lego nunchucks, and one has to remember that Lego mini-figures have very short arms – thus, a long chain in between. Oops number one.

And then, further down in the description of this Okinawan device, it turns out that it is ILLEGAL to own nunchaku in the state of California.

I feel like such a stellar parent. Not only am I producing cuddly weapons, but they’re illegal cuddly weapons.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Well Done, Mr. Potter

The little dude plowed through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with great delight back in May, but when he lost interest in Chamber of Secrets(book 2), we didn’t really encourage him to keep going. He’s only six, and there are plenty of years ahead for reading.

Then he got another kick start to reading fantasy with Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three this week, and suddenly, he’s back on Potter, blazing through Chamber of Secrets and halfway through Prisoner of Azkaban (book 3).

The questions and enthusiasm have been infectious – both SwingDaddy and I loved the books and movies so much – and I sewed him a broom for Quidditch today. The broomstick is a wooden dowel, carefully padded in felt to reduce the potential damage to house and younger brother. His immediate follow up request was for a Quidditch robe in Gryffindor red, and then for the broom to “really fly.”

We’ll work on that.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


We took Buster to his pre-school open house yesterday. He walked into the classroom, gravely accepted the hellos from his teachers, took one look at the back door to the playground and took off running. New climbing structures! Slides, ladders, playhouses!

And once back inside, he examined the blocks, Legos, and settled on a sea life puzzle. “Octopus, mommy!”

He’s ready.