Monday, March 31, 2014

Lego Gauntlet

Buster built himself an action weapon mounted to his wrist.

He explained the complicated sequence of activities for each color button, but I lost track. It'll probably save the world though.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Guess This Is Fun

I came outside one afternoon to find that Q-ster and his neighbor friend were creating  quite an elaborate rig.

She was pulling the wagon, while he was hanging on to the back, being dragged along.  It wasn't going very quickly, so he used his feet to help push too.  Perhaps this was supposed to be like an action movie where the hero is hanging onto the back of a truck?

The neighbor mom and I verified with each child that "this was fun" and indeed, they both thought it was.  Ok, then.  Carry on.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Miniony Finds

Minion plush! And check out the goggles on the top left that turn any child into a creepy looking cross-over.

Sadly, I seem to be the one in the family who is most interested in minions now, although both boys will humor me by admiring the toys briefly.

Dave, my favorite minion.

Stuart, looking purple and grumpy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lego-ing Away

The micro-dude assembled the latest package sent from Pleygo (now re-branded as "Pley",) a Lego Ninjago samurai mech.  He was pretty happy with the samurai (Look! One big claw hand and one sword hand!), but we hit some frustration points over missing pieces.  Fortunately, his personal Lego collection is large enough that he was able to find substitute pieces that were close enough to make the set work.

A few months ago, Pleygo sent a questionnaire asking what other toys we'd like added to their catalog.  Thomas the Train? No, we've outgrown that era.  A snap-circuit like package?  Yes, that sounds cool.  But mostly, I just wanted them to have more of the sets that they were already advertising. I was very pleased with their service originally - kits were quick to arrive and very complete.

However, the last couple of months have shown strain in their infrastructure.  Growing pains. Kits took an extra week or two to arrive, due to lack of stock.  When they arrive, they're missing pieces.   They sent an email recently saying that they got an enormous quantity of new stock, so we'll give it another month or two.  I'd like to see them succeed!  It'll keep us from drowning in little plastic bricks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gummy People

A colleague from the north was in town last week, and he kindly brought sweets (Seigmenn gummy men, as opposed to the Seigdamen - gummy women - which I've also seen in Scandinavian stores) to share.  We've been doling them out for days.

If you were at all curious about the odd paper cup craft, I updated the post with a picture of the finished "lion."

Monday, March 24, 2014

On the Classical Side

The boys had another very nice piano recital. The problem with piano recitals is that unless something goes really awry, the photos aren't that interesting.

A dance recital usually leads to a set of blurry pictures of limbs in the air and the backs of dancers' heads as they turn faster than the parental photographer can capture.  Music though . . . it pretty much looks the same as the last gig, even though the boys are advancing nicely through the repertoire.  Maybe video clips are unavoidable!

Buster is enjoying a musical growth spurt, where he's figuring out how to play all sorts of pieces with both hands, usually surprising his teacher at the end of the week with new material and a small, satisfied smile.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Waffle Blossoms

We made a family trip to a local town blossom festival.  A group of "gas engine" enthusiasts had set up their wares - all sorts of interesting machinery.

A group of taiko drummers performed.

Of course, the boys had been swayed to attend with the promise of food trucks (foodtrucks, foodtrucks!) and they found the waffle truck immediately.

Waffles, strawberries and cream.  Nothin' better.

The actual blossoms were ok too.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Benefits to Having No Data Privacy

The other day, I read some columnist muse that since the NSA knows how much money we make, how we spend it, and just about everything else, could they just do our taxes for us?  It only seems fair.

In any case, I've done our taxes.

In other news, we've finally broken down and allowed projectiles in the house, since the boys have gone crazy over Nerf weaponry. Buster isn't even that interested in the darts - he just runs around with his Nerf bow, pretending to be Hawkeye.  Q-ster is doing target practice with his Nerf weapon and admiring his father's (bigger, of course) Nerf gun.  I chose a crossbow, like my sister, for good measure.  I think real archery ranges have been seeing an uptick in interest, thanks to the Hunger Games series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Odd Tasks and Minions

I usually end up wielding the paper cutter when I volunteer in kindergarten, but last week, my task was different.  The teacher needed a set of paper cups punctured, a string tugged through it, and a paper clip attached to one end to keep the string in place.

I understand that they're going to decorate the cups and the strings will make some kind of noise.  It's going to be interesting to see what comes home!

It would be a perfect task for minions.  I saw these adorable minion slippers, sadly in a size too small for me.

Updated March 24:  Here's what he brought home.  It's a lion (March comes in like a Lamb, goes out like a Lion,) and when you pull the string through the hole, it makes a "roaring" sound.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Remarkably Accurate Portrait

The February school projects have been coming home bit by bit, and it's fun to see what the boys have done.  Look how perfect a likeness of Lincoln's face the kindergarteners have created!  ;)  Clever, clever teachers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Favorite Part of the Holiday

SwingDaddy had to stop at two McDonald's to find them, because the first one had a broken shake machine, but we squeezed in our Shamrock Shakes just under the wire!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leprechauns Beware!

Working on the kindy leprechaun trap.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Food Truck Fantasy

The elementary school announced an art show, but the boys weren't all that interested and it was a busy week, so we didn't plan to go.

Then they both came home yesterday with exclamation of "There will be food trucks at the art show! Can we go?  Please? Foodtruckfoodtruckfoodtrucks!"

Uh, ok.

So we went, and I'm glad we did, because their art teacher is really amazing.  She designs projects for them that really look like art.

Q-ster's line drawings.

Buster next to his fox drawing (to his immediate right.)

We lined up at a food truck and waited and waited.  I think they were somewhat understaffed and the boys lost interest quickly.  The idea of food coming from a truck was really exciting, but the actual gourmet pulled pork and Korean tacos weren't enough to keep them in line.  We got McDonald's. Ahem.

It was a fun outing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cakes of Questionable Color

For Q-ster's birthday party, I asked if he wanted a chocolate cake, and instead, he choose Duff's Blue Suede. Yes, it's a box mix, because we're fancy like that.

SwingDaddy helped me drop in the packet of food dye.  It almost looked black in concentrated form.

Oooh, marbling!

I forgot to take any pictures before frosting it, but it did indeed turn out as blue as advertised.  Q-ster was pleased.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Backstage at Cirque du Soleil

 Continuing the Cirque story . . .

After the performance, we waited in our seats as instructed, and when the rest of the audience cleared out, the tour group followed the operations director backstage.  Here, we're standing on ramp to the stage, with the giant fishbowl and audience seating behind us.

The props master told us about at the many, many pieces he keeps track of - juggling balls, decorative bows and spears, a silly pram.

Then we walked through the artists' preparation tent, where they warm up with a full set of circus equipment.  Various costume pieces were hanging up on racks everywhere, like Cali's jointed tail!

Amazon boots, each in a carefully labeled pocket per performer.

Peacock dresses and ruffled tutus.

And more racks and racks filled with costumes.  The wardrobe master, Larry, explained that every item of clothing that touches the skin is washed every day.  They are very proud to be a no-dry-clean show.  Even the leathers they use are specially constructed to be washable.

 He was unfastening a clown's hairpieces while we chatted.

I think these were Valkyrie hairpieces.

Each of the headresses, even the very tall ones, are extremely lightweight.  Cirque invests a lot in each acrobat, so the physio department has a lot of pull - they insist that the costume piece be light so there's less risk of injury and damage to the body.  This contrasts to the heavy feathered headdresses that Las Vegas showgirls wear - those venues seem distinctly less considerate of their performers.

Cool tech: In preparation for costume and makeup design back at their Quebec headquarters, Cirque performs a 360 scan around an artist's face and body.  The template above exactly fits someone's face, and then she can apply makeup in the cutouts, making the complicated decoration a fast application.  Even more, if someone changes roles, the director can call back to headquarters and get a new template sent out for the makeup to match the role.

Makeup cabinet!  They use MAC.

The wardrobe department is constantly repairing things. Check out all those colors of thread, and a whole rack of different elastics on the left side.

Larry was kind enough to hold the giant peacock tail and let me pose in front of it. The structure is made of fishing poles - light and flexible - and the whole thing only weighs a few pounds.

Swing Daddy stands next to the industrial dryer where they dry the two enormous tarps that protect the stage when the artist is diving into the fishbowl.  Apparently, it takes 4 hours in the machine to dry each tarp. On two-show days, there's not enough time to dry the tarps in between, so there are 4 tarps in all.

What an amazing experience.  We loved the show and the tour.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cirque Amaluna

 Continuing the Cirque story . . .

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the show in progress, but here are a few images from my program.

Amaluna had a sort of Tempest theme - Prospera, Miranda, Cali(ban), shipwrecked crew - mixed with other elements, like a Romeo.  The all-female band rocked the house too.  I am so impressed with director Diane Paulus - Amaluna and Tony-award winning Pippin, all in one year!

An act we'd never seen before was the Balance Goddess, who ends up with this wild array with wooden pieces all perfectly placed.  You could have heard a pin drop while she was performing.

The fabulous Ukrainian juggler who were first saw in Dralion was back as a Caliban-type character.  He was wonderfully expressive with his tail.

I always love the big acrobatic numbers the most.  Here, the Amazons perform a group uneven bars routine.

Overall, we really enjoyed the show - it's one of their best in a while.