Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Bat-Everything

Somebody saved up all his stars (good behavior points) for a long time and selected the much-longed-for Lego Batman Batcave!

In particular, this part is cool.  You see Bruce Wayne at the top of the structure, holding the red BatPhone.

Then you pull a trigger which sends him "through" a chute to the lower level.

And now he has become Batman!  (Buster carefully explained to me that it's a trick.  There are actually two mini-figs and one is hidden when the other is revealed.  Thanks, dude! )

Here is Batman at the Batcomputer.  I think I will start branding things around me like that too.  Here I am, Lady M, at the LadyMComputer, driving my LadyMCar!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Drive Home

The drive back from my parents house went pretty well.  No rain, unlike the outbound journey, which led to a little extra traffic - the worst being an overturned tanker of some sort, surrounded by hazmat vehicles and lots and lots of sand soaking up something along the side of the road.  We were grateful that it was just a 20 minute delay by the time we went by.

Our routine is that the morning drive is about alphabet games, listening to music, and looking out the window.  We break out the movies and video games in the afternoon.  The mini-van may not be chic, but it sure is the perfect thing for a family road trip.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My First Business Letter

Back when I was in elementary school, perhaps third or fourth grade, a friend and I became fans of the "flipbook."  These were little foldout booklets that sold in the school library for fifty cents, each showing pictures and a paragraph about difference species or variations of the topics.  For example, flags of the world, dogs, cars, ships, aircraft, and so forth.

It was fun to collect them with our allowance money, and we amassed quite a few, so it was disappointing when we found out that the publishing company planned to discontinue the series. Someone - the librarian or our teacher? - encouraged us to write a letter, our first business letter!  We did, and the kind people at the company sent us one of each of their remaining stock.  Such success!

When we were at my parents' house last week, my mom brought out the box of flipbooks for Q-ster to look at.  I still find them quite entertaining, even if the flags book includes the Soviet Union and West Germany - signs of their times.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Childhood Games


Do you remember Lite-Brites?  They used to be like a CRT monitor - huge things with a lightbulb in back and mesh in front to insert little translucent pegs.  Over Thanksgiving, Buster enjoyed playing with the new model that my parents acquired - a much more streamlined packaging.

We've played some Battleship on the iPad some, but I think it's much more fun with the old set that we dug out from my childhood.  G-4!  You sank my battleship!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Honor of The Hobbit Coming to Theaters Soon

Over Halloween, Q-ster created a storybook with his second grade class.  He pointed out that his goblin was inspired by the Moria goblins from The Lord of the Rings.  I see the resemblance!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Never Pass Up a Chance for Octopus Games

Buster was hard at play with the double-masted tall ship when we decided that it was only appropriate that his octopus make an attack.  Giant kraken on the loose!

Last week at preschool, Buster's class decorated turkey handprints, each getting to choose two things for which they are grateful.
Us: What are you thankful for?
Buster: The first thing is dinner.
Us: What is the second thing?
Buster: Lunch 

And I am ever thankful for my amazing family and friends.  Wishing you all the best on this Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkeys, Turkeys

The preschool teachers outdid themselves in crafts this year.

Left turkey (half a paper plate plus coloring and construction paper) by Q-ster. Right turkey (dyed coffee filter and construction paper) by Buster.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Better Sense Prevailing

Look!  Cute octopus cups!  They were so cute that I was thisclose to making everyone drink out of 3 oz cups instead of nice, adult-sized cups at a party, but SwingDaddy overruled my cephalopod-influenced decision

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Family Band

These days, we sometimes have time in the evening to play a few songs on Rock Band (or "Wock Band," as Buster still calls it.) He's become quite proficient on drums and the occasional lyric, and Q-ster has added keyboards to his drum repetoire.  SwingDaddy alternates between vocals and drums, and I join on keys sometimes too.

Nothing quite like hearing the micro dude chirpily belt out "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame, you give love a bad name!"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yes, Yes, We're STILL Watching the Summer Olympics

Q-ster won a medal for reading the most books/pages of all the second graders for the month of October.  He was pretty pleased.

You can tell that we're still watching recordings of the summer Olympics. (Mommy?  Why do they bite their medals?)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Other Culture

Buster's preschool is having an International Feast tomorrow, and each child is supposed to bring food representing his or her culture.  We always do Chinese for these things, so it seemed fun to try something different.

SwingDaddy's grandmother was from Australia, so we hit the web and found a simple recipe for Lamingtons, a popular Australian dessert.

Squares of white cake, usually sponge or pound cake. I totally cheated and bought one, but the recipe said that this was ok!

Make icing out of a ton of confectioner's sugar, some cocoa powder, butter, and milk.

Traditionally, you roll the pieces in the chocolate, but the simplified recipe suggested pouring the chocolate over the pieces instead.  All sides of the cake are supposed to get covered, which would be prettier, but perhaps lethal in the dose of chocolate delivered.

Lastly, sprinkle coconut on top.

We did a sample taste, and they turned out pretty well for a school-night concoction.  What's not to like about cake and chocolate?  I think the preschoolers will enjoy them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tree Divergence

When I was in Scandinavia at the beginning of October, I was quite eager to see a few signs of true autumn, since we don't get quite the same thing in California.  A colleague and I went to lunch, and we stopped to take a picture of these nice orangey-yellow leaves. Note my thick red parka - it was already in the low 40's at mid-day, low 30's at night, and by now, they have snow.

In contrast, this is the tree in front of our house - full of oranges, still green and getting ready for the winter harvest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Turtle

Q-ster's second grade class takes turns bringing home Franklin the Turtle, reading books about Franklin, and then writing in the class journal.  When it was his turn, he decided that Franklin should take take this chance to do some writing too (see?  He got the turtle to hold a pencil!)

I was quite bemused about some of the things he wrote ("Did Franklin really faint when you told him about how your piano lesson went?"), but he pointed out that they are allowed to write fiction or non-fiction - whatever they choose. Exaggerations are highly encouraged in their composition book.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lights, Sound, Action

All the stars aligned this weekend - there was a formal dress waltz ball, most of our best dance friends were attending, and our babysitter was available!

I've been kinda missing my long hair, so I made an attempt to attach a long fall to my head.  I was reminded that I'm really not good with hairdo's.  Simple was the order of the day.

We slipped into our evening clothes, said good night to the boys, and drove to the ballroom with friends and lovely conversation.

I left like we were back among our people. Long gowns, white tie and tails, a live orchestra, gorgeous ballroom, and a row of top hats resting above the coat rack.

We definitely appreciate these magical moments more, now it takes so much more to have an evening out.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Planet Walker

Buster's preschool has been working on a Planets unit, and he's been loving every moment.  Above, he's posing with his painting of Saturn, complete with construction paper ring.  He fills our ears with details about the planets and how each is special.

He scribbled them on our dry erase board as well.  Note how Jupiter is the biggest, how Uranus is tipped sideways, and the gas giants have rings.  There's also a song about the "Nine planets in the Universe" and he sings away about how "In the center is the Sun."

Me: How many planets are there?
Buster: Eight
Me: Is Pluto a planet?
Buster: No
Me: What is Pluto?
Buster: A dwarf planet!  (I can almost hear the duuuuh! in his voice.)  But we just say it as part of the song.

I think it's a pain to rewrite all the rhymes, so they just sing the old songs and add verbal addendums to the science updates afterwards.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pop Culture Awesomeness

Two videos today.

If you love The Lord of the Rings, you might want to fly Air New Zealand just to see this safety demonstration video.

For those who are cautiously optimistic about Disney buying Lucasfilm, here's Princess Leia being welcomed by the Disney Princesses, in song, of course!

In totally unrelated news, Q-ster showed me the page of riddles that he's compiled.  He wrote the answers upside down and in mirror-writing - "just like Leonardo Da Vinci!"  Apparently, he learned about this in a Magic Treehouse book. I guess we'll let him keep reading.

Updated for two more links:

Obama's "Anger Translator" celebrating his win.

The Met's vintage film on chain mail and armor - it's long and paced a bit slowly, but fascinating.  I had no idea how flexible armor is, or how effective chain mail is.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Brother of Iron Eyes

 So, it's time for school pictures again.  The photo vendors had the usual offer of a ludicrously unnatural "scenic" setting or a plain background, and we selected the nice, simple cream backdrop.

It is not the photographer's fault that the micro dude is going through a phase where he kind of smirks at the camera.  We were glad to see at least one image where he looks neutral, even perhaps noble, since the smiley preschooler that we know sometimes goes into hiding before strangers.

Then we looked onwards in the packet and discovered that the vendor had indeed decided to pose our child against our wishes in the faux autumn leaves with a fake tire swing.  His expression says it all.


Perhaps he is recalling the apartheid-era South African lynching practice of "necklacing" opponents with tires.

Anyhow, it wasn't quite as hilarious as the tear-on-the-cheek preschool pictures from Ol' Iron Eyes Q, but still good for a chuckle.  I'm a veritable gold mine for photographers who snap pictures that I love, so I wish them better luck for the spring photo session.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Just Hanging Around

I took the boys to the school playground this weekend while SwingDaddy was working on a minor house repair.

Q-ster accidentally threw his ball onto the school roof.  He was disappointed, but said that the principal goes up to the roof every Friday to retrieve all the lost balls, so he would hopefully get it back later this week.  The interesting things that go into a elementary school principal's job description.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The One Ring

While I was working on Q-ster's Halloween costume, his little brother came up to place his request to me. He wanted me to make him the Ring from the Lord of the Rings.  "Soft and squishy, please!"

I'm really not sure how Tolkien would feel about this.  Or me, for that matter.

I mean, I love that he has interest in the story, largely driven out of the LOTR Lego we've recently acquired. However, sewing the Ring of Power?  The one that takes thousands of pages (in the books) or what seems like dozens of hours (in the movies) to destroy?

But of course, the micro dude is pretty cute, so we set about fulfilling his wishes.  How big should this ring be?  Would it fit around his finger?  No, he wanted it quite large - he indicated with his hands.

Then it occurred to me.  You know how in fiction (and sometimes in real life,) the King of the Lions is the biggest lion, and so forth?  It's not entirely illogical that the "Lord" of the Rings would be the biggest ring.

So, there you have it.  The Ring.

It's sort of like the Donut of Doom.

But cuter.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Glorious Days of Autumn

Last weekend in the park.