Monday, April 30, 2012

Taiko on Ice

Keeping in with the Japanese theme this week, we went to the local Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend, where we admire the taiko drummers every year.  This time, the boys were also very interested in the martial arts demonstrations.

Among the more ethnic food, there was also a booth where you could flavor your own shaved ice.  Start with this:

Add this:

And enjoy!

A bit of culture plus snow cones.  What could be better on a hot day?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our Friendly Totoro

SwingDaddy and I have always loved the movie My Neighbor Totoro, the animated fantasy film by Hayao Miyazaki, ever since a friend introduced it to us in VHS form in the mid 90's.  We haven't watched it in years, but since SwingDaddy just spent a few days in Japan and brought home a small stuffed Catbus, we sat down to our first official Family Movie Night this weekend and had a blast.

The two girls in the story are about the same age as Q-ster and Buster are now, and watching the little detailed interactions with their dad are just spectacular.  There's a totally new view, now that we're parents. Mei, the younger girl, jumps on her sleeping dad to wake him up in the morning with that total disregard for sharp little elbows and needing to treat people differently than furniture. She's also determined (stubborn?) in the newly-four year old manner that we occasionally see in our household.

In the picture above, the girls are waiting at the bus stop for their father to arrive, and they are joined by the giant Totoro, who waits with them until the Catbus arrives for him.  Yes, it's a cat and  bus - don't think too hard about it.  SwingDaddy said that while he was in Japan, standing at the bus stop in the rain with his colleagues, he couldn't help looking from side to side, wondering whether the Catbus or Totoro himself would appear.

The newer DVD translation, starring Dakota and Elle Fanning, has more clues to guide the American audience, but we're still fond of the earlier VHS translation that has some charming cultural moments.  When the older girl, Satsuki, is frantically searching for the lost Mei, Totoro sends the Catbus to the rescue.  The destination sign on the Catbus' roof (head?) flips to a new set of Japanese characters, and the translation says, "Next Stop: Little Sister."

We had a great time with a special meal and lots of chatter in front of the television together and have grand plans to have Family Movie Night again next weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Octopus Found

The micro dude's plush octopus went missing for 24 hours this week and we were truly perplexed.  I mean, it's not like losing my octopus, which is so large that it would be like misplacing a Volkswagon Beetle in the house, but it's still a sizable creature.

Buster finally found it himself, tucked underneath some curtains in the living room.  He was really happy.  And so were we.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Toxic Flame Retardants

I wrote about the challenges of avoiding chemically coated children's pajamas a couple of months ago, and after reading this article, I think I'm going to keep up the fight.

...many health experts who caution that the added chemicals likely pose a greater health risk than any flames they might fend off. Common flame retardants have been linked with learning disorders, reduced fertility and cancer, they say, and non-chemical alternatives do exist.

"Protecting children from fire doesn't require exposing them to toxic chemicals," said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director for the nonprofit Washington Toxics Coalition.

As far as I recall, the fire protection rules apply to pajamas for children 14 and under. Hopefully, the laws will be modified, because I'm not thrilled about spending the next ten years searching for non-chemically jammies.

Update: I actually found some regular cotton PJs at Target! Buster really likes this set, because they are "team" clothes - we think he means that it looks like he is wearing a tank-top sports uniform. Hey, who doesn't love a preschooler in a muscle T.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harry at Hogwarts

 Q-ster is pretty much constantly re-reading Harry Potter these days.  Here's his rendition of Hogwarts.  (Hey, Madame A - we're finally using that craft paper for artsy purposes!)

And the ship from Durmstrang, the Bulgarian wizarding school.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Armory in Action

I've been fielding requests for the Ninjago Sword of Fire for a while now, to go with the Nunchucks of Lightning and the Shurikens of Ice

Yes, I've already been informed that we still need the Scythe of Quakes, but that needs to wait until I've finished the Quidditch robes for Q-ster.  I started that project over the weekend, but realized that it probably would have been faster to buy a pattern than draft one on the fly by myself.  That whole darn measuring-instead-of-eyeballing-it thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

While Daddy's Away

. . . The mice get to eat Cheerios.

SwingDaddy's not crazy about the smell of oats, and while he's perfectly willing to tolerate oat cereals, I've never felt it was fair to subject him to it in our own home.  He's been on the road for work this week (his turn!), so we've been indulging in Cheerios.  Mmmmm.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kick, Kick, Kick

The micro dude came home from taekwondo today chattering that the instructor says he's almost got the next set of kicks down. Then he proceeded to demonstrate.

He's not going to win MMA with it, but it's just about the cutest roundhouse kick ever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sutton Foster

I adore the amazing triple-threat Sutton Foster, who I saw on Broadway last summer. In this article, she reflects on her year of playing Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. The center picture is holding the Tony award she won for the role.

There aren't many leading ladies in the world throughout history who could knock out a long, brilliant tap routine and finish it by belting out the high notes.

My sister and I will be in New York this summer for BlogHer and we have high hopes for seeing Ricky Martin in Evita, Alex Wong (from So You Think You Can Dance) in Newsies, and are contemplating the innovative, interactive version of Macbeth - Sleep No More. Anyone want to join?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jenny Writes a Book - Beware!

Look what arrived in the mail! Jenny Lawson's new book - Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir.)

I've had the honor of knowing Jenny, the Bloggess, since our early bloggy days and perhaps the most interesting memory was when the two of us were cornered by a crew of Canadian bloggers at a party at BlogHer, back in oh, maybe 2007, and nervously agreed that we "tasted the bubbles" in the Canadian Aero chocolate bars, while telegraphing to each other that we had no idea what our new northern friends were talking about.

She mentioned that her husband, Victor, had acquired the domain name "" for her, and since then it's been one hilarious, often profanity filled, sometimes touching, and always amazing post after another. Congratulations on your new book, Jenny!

Although I'm not sure she'll be able to look at the picture above, because she has a fear of giant squid. Hopefully, fuzzy octopuses are ok. They are cheering her on too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

More on Those Cupcakes

I had promised Ninjago cupcakes to Buster, so the night before his birthday, I set to work.

This batch of cupcakes ended up coming out very round on top, which didn't make for good decorating surfaces. I had to cut the tops off (eating them along the way,) and then added a layer of yellow frosting for the faces instead of just using the yellow cake. It was a little more work, but the frosting kept the black gel eyes and eyebrows from spreading much better than if I piped it straight onto the cake like last year.

My first attempt was a mess, so I had SwingDaddy eat the evidence. Here's the first green ninja, not too bad.

Almost done with the set.

Closeup of the wreckage. Kinda looks like an artist's palette, except more diabetes-inducing.

Ninjago in all their sugary splendor.

That extra cupcake in the middle between the plates? It's a Golden Snitch. Yeah, it didn't really go with the theme, but the birthday boy really wanted it, so, why not?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Am Number Four

One day, you have a tiny baby who makes cute squeaky noises while slurping milk, and the next, you find yourself frosting cupcakes in the middle of the night because your PRESHUS really, really wants a green ninja for his fourth birthday. How does the time fly by?

Happy Birthday, Buster!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Agility Test

Now and again, I work in a building that has a lovely open foyer with a beautiful wooden staircase that goes up all five stories. There's an elevator, but the stairs are convenient, and we'll trot up and down them frequently. Mostly, they look like this.

However, as you get to the lowest floor, they suddenly change to this.

If you look carefully, there's a substantial curve to the bottom five steps. One time, I was standing nearby at the end of the day, waiting for a taxi as person after person made their way downstairs. You could hear the pattern as everyone tripped.

Step, step, step, step, ba-dum-bump-bump! Step, step, step.

Sometimes, interesting design should not take precedent over basic safety.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pirate Play

The play rotation of pirates, Star Wars, Harry Potter, ninjas, and the occasional Indiana Jones is positively dizzying. Earlier this week, we had a splendid mashup of Harry Potter and Jack Sparrow jointing casting spells against General Grievous.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hair Contemplation

We watched Charlie's Angels again on DVD a couple of weeks ago and for the first time in a couple of years, I'm tempted to grow my hair long again. Of course I would also need to flip my hair in slow motion repeatedly, which might be more difficult.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Rainbow of Sugarosity

I just spent a fortune on cake icing. The micro dude wants Ninjago cupcakes for his birthday again, but we’re expanding on the repertoire.

Red (Kai, Ninja of Fire), blue (Jay, Ninja of Lightning), white (Zane, Ninja of Ice, plus a new attempt at the master, Sensei Wu), and now we have some new characters:

Green, for the mysterious green ninja. And pink, for the episode when Zane’s white robes got laundered with Kai’s red robes and they ended up with pink robes. Gotta love the scriptwriters. Buster insisted on including green and pink this year, so there you have it!

(For completeness sake: There is also Cole, the Ninja of Earth, but black frosting makes such a mess on the little faces and teeth, that we’re going to pass on that.)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sugary and Fuzzy Traditions

We had a lovely Easter egg hunt at my sister's place this morning. The Easter sculpture was a gift to her from a childhood neighbor, the plush bunny peeps are a long-running story with me, and the giant egg in the center is courtesy of a company tradition with my Scandinavian friends. (Oh yeah, I just got back again, and haven't gotten around to writing about it.)

Child provided for scale. Yeah, we got pretty sugared up. Hope you had a terrific spring day!

Quote of the day from Buster: "A snuggle is a nap for two people."

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I'm Intrigued

Octoflex running shoes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Unexpected Directions

Anyone who has kids knows that they’re pretty unpredictable when presented with a gift. Sometimes the cardboard box that it comes in turns out to be the best part.

More than a year ago, a good friend who is an amazing costumer made a pair of superhero capes for the boys, which they duly admired for about five seconds. Cut to this weekend. The micro dude was running around with a nylon tent around his neck, saying that he was Superman. After discouraging the tent due to strangulation hazards and finding that he had no idea who Superman actually was, I suggested that he put on the red cape . . . which is now the total treasure of the season! Thanks, KT!

A couple of months ago, Madame A gifted us with a few rolls of craft paper, and I imagine she thought that the boys would draw on it or use it for crafts. The little dude promptly rubbed banded them together and added a cut-out trigger. Yeah, we have a bazooka. He sends his thanks, Mme A!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


The micro dude earned his first belt!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Paging the Tooth Fairy

After what seems like months of wiggling, Q-ster lost one of his front teeth yesterday!

In a related conversation, we were talking about how kids get twenty baby teeth and later grow adult teeth. We asked Buster how many teeth he had. Observing his older brother's gap, he declared, "I have ALL of them!"

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Dreamy Dreamy Swimsuit

I was searching for a Glee video on YouTube when I ran across their rendition of Rihanna's . I assume this is Emma's dream sequence, but who knows, given the crazy sets of the show. It's oddly cropped, so now I need to figure out the episode to watch the whole thing. Aren't the costumes dreamy?

Allure ran an article about the waterproof makeup, and the Beauty Stop wrote about the vintage-style maker of the swimsuit, Pinup Girl Couture. They made the skirt a little fuller Glee, to be more flattering to the performers. For those who care, apparently "Makeup For Ever" is the go-to brand for waterproof stuff.

So tempted by the swimwear!