Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Battle Noodles

I bought some pool noodles for the boys to use as "brooms" during Q-ster's birthday party Quidditch match this weekend.

But of course, everything becomes a light saber sooner or later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Related Cuteness

We got to admire some non-sea creatures during our trip to the Aquarium, such as this Chinchilla.

The pygmy hedgehog appeared to be napping, so we only saw his rear end, but even that was cute. I'm uncertain as to why they had these guys next to the tidepool exhibit, but hey, equal opportunity for land animals too!

Plus, there were baskets and baskets of plush sealife, none of which we brought home. Sigh.

I will admit to getting an octopus necklace for myself and allowing the boys to choose a prize. Interestingly, they didn't choose stuffed animals or something directly related to what we saw. Q-ster picked this trinket, which he uses in his pirate play-acting as a medallion, and Buster accordingly picked one of a different color. I love how everything around them gets turned into either a lightsaber, pirate treasure, or ninja weapon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The New Kitchen

When we bought our first house, the kitchen had this grapevine wallpaper. Not atrocious, but also not really our style. We said we'd get rid of it when we had the time. Seven years later, when we sold the house, we hired someone to remove it and paint the walls white. Then we moved into our new house . . . which had practically the same wallpaper. Grapevines - not terrible, but not our favorite design.

The thing was, the grapevines were keeping me from doing anything with the kitchen. The walls were so busy, that it was impossible to hang a picture or a calendar without making our eyes go crossed. Three months after we moved into the house, Buster was born, and we were busy for a while. It's not that we couldn't have done the work, but there was always something else - rebuilding the home network, working, living. Fast forward three years.

I was now working with a Scandinavian colleague who positively delighted in home improvements. How was his weekend? He had built a porch in his backyard. Or planted twenty trees, finishing by flashlight. Once he started building a bathroom from scratch for his family's lakeside cabin, I decided that it was becoming shameful that I couldn't get the #&$^@ wallpaper removed. So, last autumn, our weekly calls became a motivator.

This week, he framed walls for the bathroom.
I searched through my house papers and found the phone number for the painter/wallpaper remover.

The following week, he plastered the walls.
I called the wallpaper guy to see if he was still in business.

Next, he constructed the plumbing.
I made an appointment with the wallpaper guy.

He built the shower.
I met with the wallpaper guy and made a date for the work to begin.

He installed a toilet.
The wallpaper guy and team removed the wallpaper, textured the walls, and painted them.

We're practically even in the amount of work we accomplished!

Hooray, wallpaper going away.

I ordered a set of pinboards, calendar whiteboards, and dry erase boards that I'd admired from Pottery Barn Teen for a long time and SwingDaddy installed them.

Some of the hammering was a little loud.

We went to IKEA and selected a cabinet that matched the existing cupboards fairly well. The boys "helped" SwingDaddy assemble it while I sorted and labeled baskets to hold all the school papers and art supplies. Buster's art supplies are on the bottom shelf so that he can reach everything he needs.

And then our kitchen became complete and wonderful. The family calendar is in view, there's a place to post school reminders and bulletins, and room to display the boys' artwork. We've had this arrangement for about three months now, and I'm loving it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Leggy Endeavour

I took the boys to visit the Giant Pacific Octopi last weekend at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. (SwingDaddy had to work, unfortunately.)

We got to see all three of the new octopi! One had squashed itself between some rocks, the second (pictured above) was suckered up against the window, and a third was napping peacefully.

Of course, we hit the gift shop. Octopus heaven! I managed to resist getting the hat.

A good time was had by all. Yes, the image was greenscreened, but still cool.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo of the Year

The photographers association of our northern friends named this the photograph of the year - the prime minister comforting his friend, leader of the youth organization that had dozens of its members gunned down last July. Photographer Tommy Ellingsen. The article describes the emotional outreach in the following days, something that was seen as unusual and warm in the Scandinavian culture.

I walked by the city cathedral again when I was there last month. The snow covered the remaining handmade memorials, but there was this one heart that stood in the courtyard, reminding everyone of the brave teens who spoke up for meeting violence with openness and love.

"The greatest of all is love."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ride 'em, Cowboys!

The little local park and zoo has some traditional barrel horses, which have been charming and attractive to children for generations.

The park also features a whole set of creative brass sculptures that hadn't been thought out quite so well. In the winter, they're great. In the summer, they heat up so much that you'd burn yourself touching them, so each sculpture has a seasonal white picket fence to keep the kids away. Oops.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Junior Test Team

The boys went into the office to help SwingDaddy do some application testing this weekend.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Art Skills to Acquire

Someday, I'd like to learn to draw just well enough to manage anthropomorphic cartoons of cute animals.

And cute fruits and vegetables. This one is the watermelon ninja from Fruit Ninja.

P.S. South Park fans - I think he's a Canadian watermelon. (Offensive link warning, of course, since it's South Park.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Asian-Americans in the News

A couple of weeks ago, people went crazy over Jason Wu's fashion line at Target.

And more on what Jeremy Lin's NBA success means for stereotypes in the US. At the very least, I've noticed more bylines by Asian-American sportswriters in the last two weeks than perhaps ever.

Lucy Liu hasn't been in the news so much lately, but I've now gotten two comments from people, "Does anyone tell you that you look like . . ." and I'm expecting they'll say Lucy, but they say, "Lisa Ling." Hmmm.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rope Bridge

I just sorta like this image of the little brother following the big one across the bridge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Worst Pillow Pet Ever

This one makes me think that Dora has been trapped in the body of a Pillow Pet, like some kind of pulp sci-fi story.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Dozens and dozens of paper hearts. I look forward to making Valentines together every February. Soon, the boys will probably want store-bought cards with some kind of licensed character, so I especially treasure this year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Battle Tomatoes

The micro dude was spinning his cherry tomatoes on his dinner plate tonight, having them "battle" the way Ninjago spinners do. "Battle Tomatoes!" he declared.

He completed the tale with gleeful wailing sounds coming from each losing tomato as it approached his mouth to be chomped.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Octopodes on the Loose

Our eight legged friends in the news: A local aquarium has acquired three giant Pacific octopuses! I think a visit is in order shortly.

Madame A sent a link to a delightful etsy shop of animal creations, including this octo-shirt.

And totally unrelated to everything, here's the link to the local boy made good - Palo Alto High School and Harvard grad, now darling of the NBA, the first Asian American to hit the big time in basketball . . Jeremy Lin!

Thursday, February 09, 2012


For the most part the average American isn't that crazy about licorice, but it's certainly popular in the Nordic countries.

When we drew names for our annual gift exchange, SwingDaddy selected a pal who loves licorice (and perhaps non-coincidentally is of Scandinavian descent.) So, my mission was clear on the last overseas trip. Find unique sweets to bring home!

And boy, I had no idea the variety that was possible.

The store clerk was eyeing me oddly for photographing the candy selection, but it was just fascinating.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I'm Gandalf

I saw this photo circulating the internet a while back, and knowing about Ian McKellen's activism, assumed that the "Get Over It" was a reference to being gay.

Later, I saw this one, and while it was pretty funny, it was obviously a Photoshop, because I can't imagine Harrison Ford wearing such a thing.

It turns out that they were both digitally edited. Here's the story that shows the original shirt that Ian McKellen was wearing, and another
background story. I like this quote: "Given the way these things go, it’s inevitable that one day in 2015 a minor celebrity will wear an actual tshirt based on the Gandalf/Magneto meme. "

Tuesday, February 07, 2012