Monday, October 31, 2011

Ninjas and Wizards and Dark Arts, Oh My!

Buster's preschool Halloween parade was this morning, and he went as Jay, the blue Ninja of Lightning, as he has planned for weeks now.

This evening, I used lipliner to draw a lightning bolt "scar" to Q-ster's forehead to complete his Harry Potter costume, as he has planned for weeks now. His little brother, impressed with the look, promptly took a magic marker and applied special effects to his own face, located his Harry Potter glasses and declared that he too, was going to be Harry Potter for Halloween.

Noting the rapid change in camps, I draw another lightning bolt scar and wiped off the magic marker. (Side note: I am so grateful to Crayola for how truly washable their washable markers are.)

We now had two cheerful Harry's.

We went about refurbishing the flashlights that had been designated as lightsabers some years earlier, and as soon as Buster had his red one, he changed his mind. "I am Voldemort!"

And there you have it. Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In the Nick of Time

I spent last week in meetings on the east coast and flew out of New York Saturday morning at some painfully early hour - so early that the TAA agents hadn't set up the security lines yet, and I had to wait around for them to get organized.

It was lucky that I got out though - a huge snowstorm blew in afterwards, causing five hour flight delays at JFK and shutting down Newark completely. Instead, I got home to play with the boys and see the last (?) of the season's roses!

My Scandinavian colleagues sent me home with some sweets, and when I unpacked, Buster recognized the packaging immediately. "I want Weegian Chock-lit!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Car and Driver

At the pumpkin patch we visited a few weeks ago, there was a miniature drivable tractor, and Buster was immediately fascinated. A crotchety lady stormed up to shoo us away (“You have to pay!”) and we went looking for a sign telling us where to pay and how much. Clearly this place was set up to sell bouncy castle tickets and not anything else, because the cashier didn’t even know how much pumpkins cost. Fortunately, her boss sold us some tractor rides (4 circuits for a dollar) and Buster hopped on.

He couldn’t figure out how to start it, so his big brother told him to scoot over, and proceeded to investigate. Lifted the emergency brake – nope just a decorative item – oh here, he found the foot pedal, showed Buster how to use it, and got out of the tractor.

The micro dude floored it and we all yelled for him – Stop! He was still sitting on the passenger side, not holding on to the steering wheel. After climbing over to the correct side, he started his laps around the hay bales, bumping into a few, but steadily improving. Huge grins all around.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clone Trooper Mini-van

The boys have been loving the mini-van. Sometimes, they'll amuse themselves just climbing in and out of all the doors, playing "clone trooper gunship" while SwingDaddy is working on things in the garage.

This came in handy when we started dropping off Q-ster at the elementary school on the days when one of us has to take both boys to their separate schools with identical start times but a ten minute drive apart. He was initially resistant to the idea, but then we pointed out that it's just like when the clone troopers jump out of their gunships. He liked that a lot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Veggie, Veggie

For a person who has adored plush anthropomorphic vegetables all her life, I could not be more thrilled to see the broccoli and carrots at IKEA this season. It was all I could do to just hug them and not take any home.

Q-ster found a friendly snake.

What's this?


Buster was pretty excited to ride a little red rocking horse. Upon closer inspection, it's a rocking . . reindeer! Fitting, for a Swedish store.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Horticulture, Here We Come

We met up with some pals from the ol' Mommy/Baby group at California's only horticultural theme park (really, hard to believe that there aren't more horticultural theme parks, but we're lucky enough to live near one.)

It was great to ride the Strawberries together. Q-ster was insistent on riding the spinning Garlics (like the Disney teacups) and I was thankful to have SwingDaddy with us this time. I've ridden it before (because I LOVE MY SON SO MUCH), and almost lost my lunch.

We also rode the "hot air balloons." Q-ster and I made our first trips to the park just after Buster was born, so that we could have some mommy-big boy bonding time without the baby always being there. This was the first time SwingDaddy and Buster joined us, and it was great to be a whole family together.

Each boy got to drive a 20's style roadster.

And of course, the highlight of the day was getting ICEEs.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Campus Race

We went to SwingDaddy's college reunion over the weekend and since it was entirely outdoors, were lucky enough to enjoy spectacular weather, tank top/mini skirt type temperatures, at the end of October.

We joined a "Family Amazing Race" where we navigated campus with a special map, taking us to locations were the kids had an activity to perform and the adults had a trivia question to answer.

In this sculpture garden, Q-ster had to imitate the face of his favorite statue.

And the parents had to find the native name of "The Thinker."

It's sort of amusing how everyone's gotten very casual with the artwork. Somebody left a jacket and coffee cup on top of this crocodile/drum that Buster is admiring.

The last reunion we attended was just a couple of months after Q-ster was born. Flashback:

We sold this stroller over the weekend. It's served us well for six years, and it's time for another family to enjoy it. We've got walkers now!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cirque Week Dreams

Someday, I really, really, really want to go to Cirque Week in Las Vegas. As a Cirque du Soleil fan, one gets to attend a whole series of shows, plus sessions where you see the costumes of Mystere, or ask questions about the 11 stage lifts, 24 digital projectors, 204 moving lights and other technical aspects of The Beatles LOVE show. The session I'd most want to hear is this one:

Inside Cirque: An Exclusive Peek at the Business Side of the Show

Ever wondered where Cirque du Soleil recruits the performers and the skilled technicians who make the magic happen night after night? Ever curious about how they juggle 22 distinct shows playing simultaneously on five continents? Want the scoop on what’s next for the company? Find the answers to these questions, and many more at Inside Cirque: An Exclusive Peek at the Business Side of the Show. It’s your unique opportunity to hear firsthand from company President and CEO Daniel Lamarre, joined by a panel of key executives from numerous departments from Casting to Marketing, details of the myriad components that are vital to the success of Cirque du Soleil. Don’t miss out on this in-depth look at the company from a panel of experts brought together exclusively for Cirque Week.

Impossible to resist as an artist and industrial engineer.

It's all the rage to talk about spending one's money on experiences (like travel and music lessons) rather than things, because experiences stay with you and raise your overall level of happiness, but the joy of having a new thing wears off quickly. I agree with that in principle and would certainly like to do more activities like dance in Rome and attend Cirque week. However, it's worth noting that it's more complicated to buy experiences like travel when you would miss your little boys an awful lot because you're traveling a bunch for work anyway. I think we just have to wait until they grow up a little more and can go too. And in the mean time, there's and etsy. (Kidding!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cephalopod Round-up

Octopus temporary tattoos, as seen at Cool Mom Picks.

Sharp Shirter's Captain Octopus t-shirt, linked from ljc.

Squid kites, photographed by Mighty Girl Maggie Mason.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Does the Fortuneteller Say to Go?

My sister found this clever fortuneteller (or cootie catcher, depending on how you remember these little foldable pieces of childhood) at Sycamore Street Press, and it has a particular answer that seems to fit my work life these days!

And speaking of that country, the King and Queen have been visiting the United States this last week, particularly Minnesota, to where many emigrated long ago. The Twin Cities StarTribune published a nice interview with the highly articulate king (and by the way, for such an egalitarian country, it's quite entertaining that they have a king.)

When asked about the July massacre, he replied that leaders "have to remind themselves of the values that really count, the values we all want to stand for. I had the feeling there was the same reaction after 9/11, but it didn't last that long. I hope this lasts. I'm sure we'll go through a period of anger, but we have to do that. There are many emotions still to come before we're finished with it -- if we're ever finished."

He went on to mention that the country really came together after the incident, and "there was lots of hugging," which is not how his countrymen usually behave.

I had once read this comment about immigrants from Ireland - that there are more Irish-Americans than there are Irish in Ireland. The king said the same of his people, and of the traditions to continue, it was most important to know each other as people and share knowledge, like medicine and science.

As usual, I’m not trying to be cryptic about the country – I don’t want my blog to be easily found by co-workers doing a search on traveling there. I don’t write anything that folks at work can’t read, but I generally prefer to keep the spheres separate. Thus Scandinavia, the part with the red flag with blue and white cross.

Updated 10/20: The prime minister visited Obama in the White House today.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The First Lost Tooth

The little dude has been wiggling his lower front tooth for days now, and tonight, it came out! He was sooooo excited. We can see his two lower center adult teeth growing in, and the other lower baby is already loose.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkins on the Run

Buster is learning the pumpkin poem that was my favorite from Q-ster's whole preschool repertoire.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said, Oh my it's getting late!
The second one said, There are witches in the air
The third one said, Oh we don't care!
The fourth one said, Let's run and run and run
The fifth one said, I'm ready for some fun!

The poem concludes with the wind blowing out a candle and the pumpkins rolling out of sight. Mostly, I love the idea of pumpkins saying "let's run!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fans of Myers-Briggs

(Click chart to enlarge. I saw a link to it on Facebook, but haven't found the source to credit yet.)

I've found the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators quite interesting, and this satirical interpretation makes me laugh!

Which one are you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indy at Bedtime

Buster, rockin’ the Indiana Jones accessories tonight with his pajamas.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Circle of Baggage

At a certain age, I think that one can’t be quite so shabby. Where once it might have carried a sort of bohemian chic, now I run the risk of looking like a homeless person. It’s been high time to replace a lot of my favorite items, and I’ve tackled them one by one.

Wallet: My ten year old wallet was disintegrating quite dramatically. Every time I took out a credit card, little flakes of leather would scatter on nearby surfaces. I was also interested in downsizing how much I carried (Checkbook, anyone? No, I didn’t think so) and it was a good opportunity to find a smaller wallet. It took a couple of months to find something both functional and compact. Check!

Carry-on suitcase: My battered Travelpro was also about ten years old, and every single zipper handle had broken off, leaving me to inch the suitcase open and shut with little tugging motions and bent paperclips. It was only a matter of time before it burst open in some cargo hold. Under my sister’s recommendation, I picked up an Eagle’s Creek bag on sale, and I’ve been quite pleased with it. New technology has made bags much lighter.

Purse: I haven’t had the purse as long, about three years, purchased in the teen department, but much beloved. So many pockets! Black and white, with a red lining! And lightweight, since it’s a fabric bag. Of course, the downside of fabric is that the handles have become discolored and worn. I’d been searching high and low for a replacement, but all the purses I saw were either heavy and expensive leather, or massive hobo bags. The style is totally gone, so I thought maybe I should figure out how to sew new handles onto the same bag before I took it to BlogHer this summer, but . . . oh right, who has the time?

Believe it or not, our first evening in San Diego, before BlogHer, I went for a stroll at nearby Seaport Village, and found a bag with exactly the same pocket configuration. Exactly. With a choice of cute whales or jellyfish as the pattern! The jellyfish were a little too pink and purply-girly, so I went with whales, and I’m delighted.

I think it’s taken about a year to find everything. Next up is replacing my soft briefcase for work, since the shoulder strap is on the verge of tearing off.

No disclaimers - I paid for everything myself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

HP x 2

Q-ster has stated his intentions to be Harry Potter for Halloween for some time now, and I promised to find him some Harry Potter glasses. I brought a pair home on Friday, and he put them on immediately and started casting spells.

Shortly after, I saw Buster wearing his sunglasses and waving a Lincoln log. I asked him, “Do you want Harry Potter glasses too?” He said no, the sunglasses were fine.

I told him, “If you want Harry Potter glasses too, just let me know, it’s ok.” He hasn’t been into the costuming aspects as much as his brother. He likes the lightsabers, but doesn’t wear the Jedi robe often, and so forth.

But, you never know what’s going to pique a boy’s interest. About ten minutes later, he came back and shyly said that he’d like some Harry Potter glasses too. I made a foray to the store and brought another pair home. He wore them them all day.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


We had an impromptu outing today, a first trip to play mini-golf with the boys, and it was delightful. Just was delightful was 1) enjoying the California weather and 2) realizing that they're getting to an age that sometimes we can pop out and do a new activity without weeks of mental preparation and strategic packing.

No one even whacked anyone else in the head with a golf club! (Etiquette standards get lowered after one has children, I think.)

In other news, the little dude finished reading the seventh and last Harry Potter book yesterday. Dude is SIX. and he read the last 6 books in about 6 weeks. Some things are clearly going over his head (which is just as well, there's some pretty dark stuff,) like missing the swapped identity of Mad Eye Moody. The action and characters seem to have stuck well though, like remembering who danced with who at the Yule Ball (dancing, of course!) and who liked which classes.

My sister brought him Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and after consuming that one, he's on to The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I guess one of the great things about first grade is still having a lot of free time in the afternoons to read. Yay!

P.S. No, those aren't real glasses that he's wearing. More on that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Let's Try Something Else

Big metal cuffs and bracelets are all over the magazines and stores this season. Edgy look, but I tried one on at Ann Taylor (a plain one, without the studs shown on this piece), and the mass of cold metal instantly sucked all the heat out of my body. Brrrr. Not a style that's going to work for me.

Especially since my last purchase was a "polarthin" jacket that's rated for 20 below - my Scandinavian colleagues have informed me that it started snowing this weekend.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Please Indulge Me

while I drone on about my pweshus children's art.

Q-ster's depiction of Count Dooku (left), in a lightsaber duel with Obi-wan and Mace Windu.

General Grievous (complete with four arms) facing off Plo Koon and another alien Jedi whose name I can't remember.

Separatist ship under attack.

Q-ster made those drawings at the beginning of September, and while he was hard at work at the kitchen table, his little brother was also at his sketchpad, chattering away at the counter. "Now I draw spaceship! With gun! Now I draw Jedi! With brown boots! And red lightsaber!"

Buster's narration was so detailed and colorful that Q-ster came over to see what he was doing. Was he really that skilled?

Buster's September Star Wars art. Well, perhaps he was better at marketing than drawing at this point.

This is where the little story would have ended, if I'd actually gotten around to writing it a month ago. However, things have changed a lot in the last few weeks, perhaps under the influence of pre-school, or just a renewed interest in drawing.

He's working on a Harry Potter Quidditch scene.

He explained that the red one is Harry (Gryffindor colors) and the green ones are Slytherins, of course. The yellow dot is the snitch, and the red and black dots (which he may have gotten a little help on) are the Quaffle and a Bludger. He took great pleasure in describing the elements to me.

Q-ster had a nice new drawing today too:
What is it? It's a scene from Plants vs Zombies!

Ah, pop art indeed.