Friday, August 30, 2013


I've admired the levitation photography of YowaYowa Camera Woman, and this blurry shot made me think of that!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cultural Literacy

Buster is quite fond of the parody book, "Goodnight iPad," in which the mother rabbit rids the family of all the devices that ping, tweet, and beep in the night. (Goodnight MacBook Air.  Goodnight gadgets everywhere.)  He finds it hilarious, and then when we got to the end of the book, where one of the children is secretly reading "Goodnight Moon" under the covers with a flashlight, he asked what that was.

I guess "Goodnight Moon" wasn't one of his favorites, so we haven't read it in a long, long time, and he doesn't remember it.  I pulled out our battered copy and started reading:

In the great green room . . .

Buster: This is boring.

Sigh.  I said we'd read it another night.  Techie little guy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Octopus in the Office

I started a new job on Monday, and when I saw these tentacle pens on our administrative assistant's desk, I knew that all is right in the world.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moving Up

Hooray, Buster is big enough that he can ride in a booster and not the giant car seat anymore!  He's been eager to move up.

And Q-ster is sitting in the car like a big person, no booster assist anymore!

After 8 years of car seats, it's nice to have more flexibility in the car.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Love Darcy

We made a return visit to the movie Austenland with some fellow Jane Austen fans over the weekend. Hooray for the frothy fun, shirtless Captain East, and intriguing Mr. Nobley.  Keri Russell was so charming in the leading role of the lady seeking Regency romance.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Piano Men

It was a good first week of school - back to routine, a great morning drop-off (both kids at the same school at the same time!), taekwondo, and piano lessons.  Above, Buster's first piano lesson!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day One

Third grade and kindergarten!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chicago Oddities

Before I depart the Chicago topic entirely, here are a few more things.

We walked past the Chicago Tribune building several times and I noticed some odd stones sticking on of the fascade.

Further inspection showed that each stone had a matching engraving, apparently designating its origin.  Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Trondheim Cathedral in Norway.  The Alamo in Texas.  Really?  Did the founder of the Tribune scoop these up while trotting around the world, perhaps carrying a pickaxe? 

On the trip between the hotel and convention center, we passed this really odd structure.  It looked like a flying saucer had landed on the Parthenon.  It turns out that this is the highly controversial new design of Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears football stadium.  I think the blurriness of my picture adds to the "UFO in a tabloid" effect.

We walked through the multi-story American Girl store on the way to the Lego store (no cool Chicago exclusives, so we didn't bring anything home,) and were suitable impressed with the empire.

And of course, the Minions are everywhere, even decorating solar trash compactors on the Magnificent Mile.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Crystal One

Happy Anniversary to my beloved husband. Fifteen years!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More BlogHer13 Highlights

FourthBreakfast and I were pretty disciplined about dodging swag that we didn't really need to take at the BlogHer Expo.  It's so easy to fill up your bag with whatever the vendors are offering - free, free, free! - but I did well, taking just some coupons and a few other things, while listening to some interesting product pitches.

Of course, I had to take a photo op with Minions.

We also had a chance to see an advanced screening of Austenland. It was a great - Keri Russell plays a woman obsessed with Jane Austen who goes to a English estate for an Austen-themed retreat from the modern world.  Antics ensue.  We have to go with our dance friends when it comes out in the theater, because the costumes (and the movie) are great.

Mr. Darcy and us!

To be honest, we had lowered our expectations of the BlogHer conference because we've been so many times and weren't that excited about returning to Chicago again. However, it was a great conference - lots of knowledge-sharing panels, quality speakers, and bonding time with my sister.

Hoping for SF or NYC for BlogHer 14!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BlogHer13 People

One of the best parts of BlogHer is meeting friends, old and new.

Reunited with fourth grade friend, Mir!  She gave a great talk at the "Speaking Out" panel, showing the power of community in Tamponpalooza.

Stimey brought Algernon, of course, and my sister and I were glad to see both of them.

We shared a pizza at Gino's East with Cheeky Attitude and enjoyed catching up with her crafty adventures through the weekend.

I finally got to see Blondie again, after missing her entirely in New York last year. (Photo stolen from her blog.)

There were many terrific speakers, and Sheryl Sandberg was the tops.

Afterwards, I got to catch up with Lisa Stone and share my Lean In declaration: What would I do if I were not afraid?  I could leave the team that I love and take on a new role to learn and grow. (More on that next week!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chicago - Pictures, Dresses, Rocks

I'm only two weeks late in catching up with BlogHer13 - this must be a record!

My sister and I loved the view from our room in the Sheraton.

We had an afternoon to spare, and we were joined by new friend Catherine McCord of Weelicious (awesome recipes and cooking videos,) so we strolled through Millenium Park, where some giant art rocks caught my eye.

This one was my favorite. Polka dots!

The Art Institute of Chicago was hosting a stunning exhibition: Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity

My favorite period of art and my second favorite period of historic fashion, all in the same gallery.

(This photo from the NY Times article linked below.)

It was quite the legendary collection assembled, including A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte and Paris Street: Rainy Day.  We've all seen them so many times in reproduction that it took a moment for it to sink in - this is the real thing! While I assumed La Grande Jatte was loaned, it actually belongs to the permanent collection of the Institute.

Next to many of the painting were displays of period gowns (and a few suits) closely resembling those in the artwork.  A few times, the gown was the actual item painted.

I also liked how the rest of the museum got in the act too.  The library had a display of Godey's Lady's Books and other fashion periodicals open to pages of fabulous gowns.  There were other displays as well, but we didn't have time to investigate.

Later, I found some articles that described how the exhibit came into being.  It was designed by a Chicago curator partnering with the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, where it opened  first, then moved to the Met in New York, and next Chicago. We had a splendid time and I bought the exhibit book to take home, especially since they didn't allow any photographs in the exhibition.

Side note: Oddly enough, when I arrived home from Chicago and I re-opened my suitcase, I discovered that TSA had rifled through it, and of all things, they had opened up the shrink wrap protecting the book.  Fortunately, nothing was damaged, but who knew that the TSA loves vintage gowns?!  I hope they enjoyed the peek, because the photos are beautiful.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Perhaps Legos Will Not Completely Overtake the House

Most likely, we will still drown under endless little plastic bricks, but I found a company that gives us hope that we can keep our inventory from increasing, well, from increasingly too much.

It's called Pleygo, and bills itself as a "Netflix-like rental service for Lego." I'm not affiliated with them in any way, or being paid or getting any freebies or discounts for writing this post - I just think it's a cool idea and want them to stay in business so that we can keep getting Lego sets.

For a $15/month subscription fee, we have access to all the small Lego sets in their stock.  The boys and I made a wishlist, and they mailed us the first one to assemble.

Here's the Council of Elrond from The Lord of the Rings, including a teeny-tiny ring on stone table.

 The website says that they sanitize each set in between use, but this kit was brand new anyway.

After SwingDaddy and the boys put the set together and admired it, we disassembled it, put it in the labeled baggie with instruction booklet and tucked everything into the shipping box, complete with return mailing label.  The little baggie contains spare pieces - the "25 most common pieces," in case something was missing in the kit when it was received.  We'll mail it back tomorrow and await something Chima-related for Buster or Star Wars for Q-ster, depending what's available in their inventory first.

This is unrelated to Pleygo, but just to the Lego.  Check out the mini-figs!  Gimli, Elrond, Arwen, and Frodo.

Arwen has a fancy dress, so she can't sit in the chair, but it's kinda neat to see the detail.  Their hair pieces are separate from the head pieces, just like most minifigs, but if you look carefully, you can see that the long pointy ears are attached to the hair.

Back to Pleygo now . . . We'll see how the service works out.  If it's good, we'll upgrade to the $39/month rate to get the big sets. Of course, the boys would rather buy them to keep, but the idea that they can order any Lego they want is holding their attention so far.  And hooray, we don't have to store them forever!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lady in RED

We finished watching the movie "RED" tonight - a perfectly ridiculously delightful confection of A-list stars playing retired secret agents back in the field, firing weapons and confounding the bad guys.

Helen Mirren was particularly cool.  There is one scene where she wears a white evening gown, having infiltrated a gala, and as she slips outside the ballroom to start kicking ass, she steps out of her high heels and into a pair of combat boots that her confederate has placed next to her.  Glamorous and practical!

I love her dresses on the red carpet.

She often has filmy sleeves on her gowns, which is a nice look that I'll keep in mind for the future.

And she's a fan of the color red!

I'm looking forward to the sequel, RED 2.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Versatile Tools

Look, it's a spaceship!

And with a little adjustment

It's a blaster.

Or put it on your shoulder, open the door flap, and it's a video camera!

No lack of imagination for this crew.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Friends with Hats

I was chatting with a co-worker today when I couldn't help but notice a hat perched on his cubicle shelf.  Is that . . . a minion?  Yes, indeed.  Minion hats were given away at the last customer appreciation event, and he gave it to me to bring home to Buster.

The micro dude was extremely pleased.

Here, he is playing "Minion Rush," which normally is an iPad game where you steer the minion as he races through the neighborhood, collecting bananas.  When you are the minion yourself, it involves tearing through the house at high speed.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Fun and Games

We were invited to a dinner party over the weekend that featured the card game Magic.  Q-ster was thrilled to join the game while I talked dance gigs with the hostess.  He got some helpful hints from the senior players and managed some victories.

The boys have rediscovered the soft disc blasters that were tucked away on a high shelf and are gleefully distributing little foam discs all around the house.

Here, they have built a barricade against the enemy (unclear who) and are about to reload.  You can see a blue streak above Buster's head - that's a blue disc coming out of Q-ster's blaster.  The rest of the day seemed to be consumed with Lego Chima pretend play, so summer is going just as it should - imagination and popsicles.