Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bowser and Bandit at Halloween

Buster declared that he wanted to be Bowser for Halloween.  Who? Bowser is some kind of turtle-dragon character from the Super Mario world who was going to be a little challenging to costume.  I had to do some the heavy thinking on the architecture of shell, but I worked out how to attach soft spikes and stuff the whole thing so it'd be like a pillow backpack.

Then I looked up some more images online and realized that Bower had a tail.  A trip to the fabric store, some more spikes, a hat, and there we have it!  Not exactly symmetrical, but Buster was pleased and immensely huggable.

Last year, Buster wanted to be Batman, which was solved in a quick trip to Target, and Q-ster wanted to be the blue wizard Jace Beleren, which took a lot of sewing.  Fortunately, this year, Q-ster chose to be a bandit, which he put together from pieces already in his closet.

Both boys made out like bandits in the trick or treating tonight!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Leader in the Works

Q-ster mentioned over homework yesterday, "I'm running for student council."

Oh!  That's kinda cool. He pulled out his speech from his backpack.

I can be a responsible reporter.  I am also good at taking notes.  I would be a good role model and accept other's ideas for special days. I promise to be a good leader and a good and responsible person to help represent Room (X). Please vote for me and I will treat Room (X) with respect.  I would always have a positive attitude.  I would do my work correctly.

I asked who else from his class was running.  "We all are," he said.  I think the teacher did a good job encouraging the kids to learn about civic participation!

While we were getting dinner ready tonight, he casually said, "I'm on the student council."

Congratulations! Apparently, each class elects two representatives to the student council, and now he will have occasional lunch meetings.  I'm not really sure what an elementary school student council does, but I suppose they choose things like Spirit Day themes (wacky hair day, sports jersey day, etc.)

New experiences for our boy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Homecoming, Back on Campus

It was good to be back on campus for my college reunion last week. We used to spend at least an evening per week there, teaching or performing dance, for years after we graduated, but the last few years have been focused elsewhere (cough! children!)

After the university president gave his address (Highlight: Undergraduates who come from families making less than $60k per year are given full scholarships including tuition, room, and board.  Undergraduates who come from families making less than $100k per year receive free tuition.), Katie Couric hosted a panel on "Are You Happy Now? The New Science of Happiness and Wellbeing."

I've enjoyed Gretchen Rubin's books and blog on the Happiness Project, and this was an interesting contrast, featuring a professor of pyschopathology (biology focused,) a professor of psychology, David Kelley (founder of the at Stanford and the legendary design company IDEO), a professor from the school of business, and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who studies stress, immunity, and health.

Gretchen's research is really interesting - she reads, she observes herself and others around her.  These professors were talking about studies that they or their research assistants conducted themselves, medical advances, scientific implications.  Fascinating!  Happiness vs meaning, was a important focus of the discussion, which is available for viewing here.

I attended another panel, some receptions, and a campus tour  (more on that in another post,) on the first day, and came back with the whole family for the second day.  We participated in a scavenger hunt that took us around campus and had lunch with some of my classmates.

The Kids Tailgate was cleverly positioned right next to our class tent (the planners have the demographics of the attendees, after all!), so the boys enjoyed popcorn and sno-cones.

Buster has been wanting a "pointer" for some time now, and while it doesn't seem to be a bright moment for foam fingers in pop culture (thanks, Miley Cyrus), we let him get one.  Q-ster chose a baseball cap as his souvenir.

A gorgeous, sunny day!

All the reunion posts.  Dance. Back to school.  Campus tour classic.  Campus tour techieClass plaques.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another Day, Another Belt

Buster breaks his board. Another notch on the belt! Or another belt, actually.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Burps, Farts, Cooking

SwingDaddy went to see The Edible Inevitable Tour, featuring Alton Brown, best know for hosting Iron Chef and his own show, Good Eats.  He's more of a food engineer than hoity-toity chef, full of facts about how food, ingredients, and tools work.

It was a great show!  We ran into several friends there unexpectedly (fellow geeky types are drawn to his show, I guess,) and enjoyed the songs, silliness (such as a MEGA-bake, a zillion watt version of an Easy Bake oven,) and even a couple of songs about food.  Some key pieces of Alton Brown advice include teaching your kids to cook (of course,) and never eating airport shrimp cocktail.

I took the photo above during the pre-show video, where an Alton puppet was instructing and a few yeast puppets were belching and making other yeastily unbecoming noises.  Then they made the standard announcement of turning off your phones and not taking pictures.  I didn't take more, but Alton did and posted to Twitter.  I should have gone ahead to take a few more pictures, because he retweeted a bunch.

Anyhow, now we're inspired to cook more, although perhaps not in a giant easy bake oven.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Time for Art

Buster thoughtfully left a piece of his artwork by my bedside.  "It's for you, Mommy!"

I noticed that both of the people in the picture have X's for eyes.  Are they dead?  "Yes, because they shot cannons at each other!"

Thanks kiddo.

Shortly after, he left me this card, which I liked even better.

Especially when I opened it up. "Octopus for mommy!"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Ol' Gang

My college reunion was this weekend, and a batch of us met up at a local dance to celebrate.  There was one friend I hadn't seen in ten years - his twelve year old son is taller than me already!  Most of the others had toddlers and were looking for reassurance that things get easier as the children grow up. We were happy to say that parenthood gets better and better.

A funny note - one pair of friends who were known for being extremely germ conscious (wet wipes, the whole works in the days before hand sanitizer was popularized) now acknowledges picking up their children's poop with bare hands without flinching.  Things change for all of us.

All the reunion posts.  Dance. Back to school.  Campus tour classic.  Campus tour techieClass plaques.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Yarn Bombing Extraordinaire

Love, love, love this giant blue squid tree!  Story here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


The other day, I exited my building on the corporate campus and started walking to another building, one I seldom visit.  I groaned when I realized how far away it was, feeling the weight of my laptop and other gear.

Then I remembered I used to walk between buildings in the snow when working with my Scandinavian colleagues.  Yeah, lost perspective there for a little bit.

I snapped this picture of what my walk looked like - blue skies, green grass, and a building that's really not that far.  I thought of it tonight when I heard that they got the season's first snow.  Brrr!

Friday, October 18, 2013

We Love You, Scholastic Book Fair


We went to the school potluck and book fair tonight and I was quite amused by some of the titles.  Ninja Meercats.  Ninja Weenies.

The Strange Case of the Origama Yoda.

Mean Ghouls.

The boys had been looking forward to this all week and promptly selected Pokemon (Q-ster) and Lego Chima (Buster) books.

We had to keep steering them away from lampposts on the walk back to the car, since they started reading immediately.


And reminding them to take their shoes off once we got home, since they kept reading.

Fortunately, they were willing to pause for a brief moment for me to take a picture.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Powdery Sense of Humor

Is this contraband that we found in our child's backpack?  No, it's a school assignment.

We received a notice from Q-ster's teacher that the third grade students are going to create a relief map with baker's clay, so could they please each bring in one cup of salt and a half cup of flour in the provided baggie.

I totally hope that the day they all show up to school with baggies of white powder is during Just Say No to Drugs Week, or whatever it's called these days.  It would show an immense sense of humor by the administrators.

I find that as Q-ster grows up, his stories are more his own and I don't write them here as often.  I'm afraid it looks unbalanced - so many more photos of his little brother - but I also don't want to post things that might make him embarrassed if his friends read them.  I suppose the extra coverage Buster gets now makes up for the years before he was born.

So I'll continue writing the sharable memories, and more of Q-ster's stories will go into a private journal.  It's life as I experience it, but only part of it.  SwingDaddy still writes almost every day too, and it's life as he experiences it, what he sees and does with the kids and me.  There are missing pieces in his blog that don't cover the things I do with the kids, the way there are (many more) missing pieces in mine.  At one point, we were approached by some PhD students who were researching personal blogs.  The scheduling didn't work out, so we didn't meet, but I think we would have been interesting subjects.  Both our blogs have run over seven years now, and give different perspectives on many of the same incidents.  In a way, they are two halves of a whole.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce

Buster had a blast at his little friend's birthday party over the weekend.

It was held at a party center with giant inflatable bounce houses, slides, and best of all . .

A nerf-ball shooting area.  There were targets to shoot at, but mostly the kids shot at each other.

They kind of looked like Minions, with their goggles and all.

The little guy was fearless as usual.


His big brother attended a Laser Tag party the previous weekend, but since it was a drop-off event and not suitable for photography, I don't have any pictures.  He came home happy and hyped up with adventure. And both boys are now full of ideas for their own parties (months into the future) of course.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Josh in Concert

 My dad and I had a great time at Josh Groban's concert last week.

I went to one of his early tours, probably in 2004-ish, when there was just one special effect in the show - a dramatic "fall" (onto a hidden airbag) at the end of "If I Fall," and he accompanied himself on the piano for an extra encore.  He already had a great ability to tell self-deprecating jokes and connect with the audience, besides showing off his glorious voice.

The stage in the round, as we entered the arena.

You could see the projections on both sides of the screens, but we were close enough that we didn't need to watch them much.  When he sat at the piano, he was facing us, so I figure we had the perfect seats.

Josh told a great story about his big break on Ally McBeal.  Originally, he had a tiny part - he'd be singing for about 30 seconds at a wedding scene, and the big guest star of the week was Robert Downey, Jr.  Unfortunately, three days before the episode was scheduled to tape, Robert was arrested (back in his problem days) and in jail.  Show creator David Kelley asked Josh, " So, do you act?"

He joked, "Why of course, I played Tevye in the school production of Fiddler on the Roof!" He ended up with a big part and two songs - a huge break for a teenage kid still to record his first album.  You never know when opportunities will show up!

There were lots of catcalls from the audience, something he claimed to revel in, as a former high-school nerd.

After enjoying all the music and encores, we plodded through the post-concert arena traffic and discovered another thing - Like Josh Groban, his fans are very nice.  Everyone took turns merging very politely and graciously. After you!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sticky Sticky

While I wasn't paying attention, the world has apparently gone tape-crazy.  Or at least the stationery aisle has gotten creative.

You can get duct tape in polka dots (!), or decorated with Batman logos and lace. The Batman is separate from the lace, that is.

I managed to resist buying any of it, even the polka dots, because I don't have anything that needs taping that badly.  So fun to admire though!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Buster and I were waiting for his big brother to finish his homework, and he started showing me the card game that they'd invented that afternoon.  They called it Monster Fighters (after a Lego series) and while it uses a regular card deck, it seems to follow a Pokemon-type set of rules.  Not that I know how Pokemon works.

Buster explained how this card was the "bench" and that other set of cards was my "hand" and this other set of cards "powered up" the bench and the rules seemed to change at each turn.

I call it CalvinCards. (Thanks to SwingDaddy for finding the link.)