Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Little Night Music

SwingDaddy has been introducing Q-ster to some simple programming concepts using an application called Scratch. You can make an animated character move around the screen and things like that.  Q-ster did a little composing - looping some arpeggios and drum beats to make his own music. Math and music, baby!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Little Late but Just as Tasty

I saw LJC's post about custom Necco Sweethearts at the beginning of February and ordered them right away as a surprise for my three boys.  The deadline for arrival before Valentines had already past, but everyone seemed happy to eat them anyways. Some hearts say Q-ster's name, others say Buster's name, and the rest have SwingDaddy & Lady M on them.  Sweet!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cereal Games

We had breakfast at the hotel Sunday morning, which was very exciting for the boys, since we allowed them to sample the Froot Loops.  Buster examined his spoonful and saw three loops of the same color.  "Bejeweled," he exclaimed, "I win!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

White Tie, Tails, and Fringe

The night before our ski trip, SwingDaddy and I slipped out to a fancy dress ball, where we got to enjoy a few dances and catch up with some friends.

It was fun to bring out the Flickering Flame dress with the hand beaded fringe again.  I was deciding between that and my pink ombre 1930's gown, but I couldn't remember all the complicated underwear arrangements and didn't feel like working it out, so 1920's it was!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Four on Skis

We made a trek up to the mountains to ski on Saturday - the first time the four of us have skied together!

On our last trip (two years ago,) SwingDaddy skied with Q-ster, while I spent the morning trying to insert Buster into a winter coat.  As a then-two-year-old, he had never been anywhere cold before, so he didn't understand why on earth he should wear such a ungainly, foreign thing.  In the afternoon, we all went inner tubing, and that was a blast.

This time, skis for everyone.

Q-ster did great.  He carried all his own gear, with only minor complaining, and kept himself going, with coaching and encouragement from us.  On his last run, he managed to stay on his feet the whole way down, until the very end.

SwingDaddy and I took turns skiing with Buster between our legs, and he had a blast, yelling "Wheeeeeeee!" all the way down the hill.  I was pleased that I'm a somewhat better skier that I remembered, so after a few runs for confidence, we could go pretty fast (for the bunny slope, I mean, this is all relative) and sometimes go through the hoops and tunnels to Buster's great delight.

SwingDaddy is an expert skier, so he took some home movies (in 3D!) while we skied.

After multiple trips to Scandinavia, my snow boots have finally touched American soil.

After we dinner and cleaning up, we tucked everyone in bed with an iPad to chill out.

All in all, a successful trip.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Love of Blankie

Boy and blankie 2008

Boy and blankie 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Octopode Alert

 Some of my favorite recent octopus images.

This crazy cake - gorgeous and really weird, thanks to a forward from Fourth Breakfast.

And the Octo-Pie!  The boys were really excited about this one, although we called it the Octopizza, since they're not familiar with the term pizza pie.  The pizza and this next bathtub are thanks to forwards from Madame A.

I imagine the octopus sort of lazing about in the tub, stretching her tentacles.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Small Plastic Army

Buster received this entertaining Lego character book for Christmas (including an exclusive! Green Ninja! Minifig!) and we've been reading a bit each night.  At the very end of the book, there's a gallery of all the Ninjago minifigures:

As he tapped each character, saying "yes" or "no" for whether or not he owned one,  I was astounded at how many yeses there were.  Like many households with small children, I think we've spent more than the gross national product of many countries on Lego.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Traditional Dance of Plush

No holiday would be complete without a plush incarnation. 

The boys were inspired by the traditional Chinese lion dance we saw for the New Year's celebration last weekend, so they improvised their own at home, using their plush tigers and big squishy slippers.

Apparently, they'd tried both getting under the same tiger, the way two lion dancers operate a single lion, but the tigers weren't big enough, so they decided to go for separate "costumes."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Northern Friends News

One thoughtful and two wacky looks at what was going  on last month in the Scandinavian nation where so many of my colleagues live.

On fatherhood and paternity leave:

Dads have never had it so good. . . Fathers are now entitled to 12 weeks of fully paid paternity leave, often with two extra weeks to take off after the birth. It is now more accepted than ever for them to take the entire period of lengthy leave – even government ministers have done so – and their job is protected for up to one year should they choose to be at home for longer. When fathers and mothers, who jointly share as many as 14 months off, return to work, their child is guaranteed a place in heavily subsidized day care. . . but now they’re feeling the same pressure in striking a work-life balance that women have felt for years.

On seagull attacks at the trendy waterfront:
Large, hungry and aggressive seagulls have been attacking kiosk customers at the fashionable  waterfront complex lately, grabbing takeaway snacks right out of their hands.

On what has to be the weirdest traffic infrastructure closure - due to burning brown cheese:
Highway officials said it was still too dangerous to enter the tunnel because of potentially lethal gases created by the smoldering cheese, which has a molasses-like content.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Happy Day to You

 96 paper hearts later, the boys completed their Valentines!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Super Powers and Cephalopod Hats

I'm an occasional reader of the always-clever Lifehacker website, and they're running a series called "How I Work."  In this particular episode, they interview Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote.  One of the accompanying photographs shows his desktop, featuring a squiddy sort of character on his computer display, so I was already inclined to like him, and then this response caught my eye:

Q: What's your sleep routine like?

A: I actually sleep really well; it's sort of my core competency; I can fall asleep anywhere, at any time, on command. My brain doesn't understand time zones and I don't get jet lag. This is my super power. I go to sleep at random times and wake up at random times, but I probably get about eight hours of sleep on average. I know how incredibly lucky this makes me.

That's the exact same phrase that I use - it's my super power too.


In case you had any fears about this blog moving away from its core competency of plush octopus pictures, here's our little crew, with the new octopus wearing a charming hat I was given at the same party where the magnificent jello desserts were served.

Here's a lovely little detail - the underside is a polka dot material - like suckers, but cuter!

 I put the hat on my big octopus too, making him look a little like Oswald.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Silly Songs

My sister posted about the South Korean air force's take on Les Miserables (terrifically funny and very well sung!), and today, I got a link from a colleague in the frozen north.  It's the video for a "charity single" to encourage Africans to send their radiators to help those in need

Frostbite kills too.  Say "Yes to Radi-Aid! Send your radiator today!  New charity single out now!

It has that perfect satirical combination of uplifting chorus and condescending charity attitude.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Welcoming in the Year of the Snake

The local art museum hosted a great lion dance performance in honor of the Chinese New Year.  I love how the creatures are so expressive, batting their eyelids and wriggling their ears, all the while keeping in sync with the other performer in the costume.

I find it quite amusing to see the martial artists stretching out in ordinary shirts but fluffy legs before they put on the lion costumes, two by two.

It was the quite the show - two red and one purple lion.  At times they walked great distances on their "hind" legs, which means that the front performer was being held up by the the rear performer the whole time.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Increasingly Horrifying Valentines

I was at Target on Friday, picking up some candy for the boys to attach to their valentines when I came upon this.  A heart shaped box of chocolates in the colors of R2D2.  (The silver part is so shiny that it's reflecting something, probably me.)

Then there was this.  A heart shaped Darth Vader.

And if that wasn't enough, here's a rhinestone encrusted velvet heart-shaped Darth Vader box of chocolates. I'm a fan of Star Wars, but I'm afraid this is too much for even me.

In other news, I finished all the paperwork for Buster's kindergarten registration!  Woot!  Oh wow, kindergarten - my baby's growing up.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Bat-Octopus

Buster's preschool had "Pajama Day" last week, and he was delighted to wear his Batman PJs to school.  They were also encouraged to bring a stuffed animal, and of course, he wanted to bring his octopus.  I was somewhat concerned about the new fluffy octopus getting dirty, but everyone simultaneously realized that he could bring his old octopus.  So, Old Octopus came out of retirement and had another day of glory, sitting by his side in school all morning.

As Batman's side kick, it seemed only appropriate to call him Bat-Octopus.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

History Revised

All kinds of deceased historical folks making medical news this week.

First, they find the skeleton of King Richard III of England under a parking lot of all places, confirmed by DNA testing.

Among those who found his remains, there is a passionate belief that new attention drawn to Richard by the discovery will inspire a reappraisal that could rehabilitate the medieval king and show him to be a man with a strong sympathy for the rights of the common man, who was deeply wronged by his vengeful Tudor successors.

Perhaps we'll see if that novel I read so long ago turns out to be reasonably correct in claiming his innocence in (some) of the evil deeds attributed to him.  For example, the account of his life popularly believed to be contemporaneous, as it turns out, was written by someone who was only five years old when Richard III died and received his information from, you guessed it, his 'vengeful Tudor successors.'

Then, I read the announcement that Mary Ingalls didn't become blind from scarlet fever, the way it's depicted in the Little House on the Prairie books and TV series.

A new study published in Pediatrics on Feb. 4 shows that Laura Ingalls Wilder's older sister probably had viral meningoencephalitis, in which the brain and the meninges (the membranes that protect the central nervous system) become inflamed.

Most of the articles I've seen show a picture of the Ingalls family from the Little House TV show (below,) so I thought I should include one of the actual Mary Ingalls (above) as well.  :)

Monday, February 04, 2013

Minuets and Donuts

Q-ster had a great piano performance on Sunday - Minuet in G Major ("Minuet 2 from Book 2" in Suzuki parlance.)  He's starting to get into more complicated, meaty pieces, and we were really proud of his hard work and good showing. So naturally, we went out for donuts to celebrate.

Mmm, Krispy Kreme!  The "Hot Now" light was on when we pulled up, so boys were excited to see their mighty machine and conveyor belt at work.  Buster and I couldn't resist the bright sprinkles on the special Valentine's donuts.

They even have a "Hot Now" app for your iPhone, so that any time, you can check whether your local store is turning out hot donuts.  Just what all our waistlines need.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Here and There

Cool things I've see on the net lately . . .

Gotta love Google translate for international news site headlines, this one regarding the Superbowl:
Sunday night benches 111 million in front of television screens in the U.S. to watch the finals in a sport only Americans care about.

A Facebook friend linked to Chelsea Clinton's page, where she had posted the following photo and caption.

Grateful for my Mom's and the remarkable U.S. Department of State team's service. Thankful I shared her last day as Secretary of State!

Warner Brothers has named Kevin Tsujihara as their new chief executive.  Stanford alum!  First Asian-American to head a Hollywood Studio! Apparently he was responsible for for a lot of the negotiating behind the scenes to get The Hobbit movie made - first dealing with the bankruptcy of co-rights-holder MGM, handling the transition of director from Guillermo Del Toro to Peter Jackson, and then the New Zealand union problem.

While writing this post I just noticed that there are two versions of the article in the LA Times - one in the Entertainment section, and a longer cut in the Business section.  Interesting to see the differences.  I read the business version originally, but when I googled Warner Bros to find the article again to reference, I got the entertainment edit, which didn't include any of the details on The Hobbit.  His picture is more flattering in the Entertainment section.  I guess it's fitting - nicer images in one place, more data in the other.


A useful (and tongue-in-cheek) briefing on Oscar nominees titled "How To Fake That You've Seen The 9 Oscar Nominees For Best Picture."  I particularly like the graph showing comparing the vocal prowess, star power, and relative miserable-ness of the stars in Les Miz.