Thursday, February 28, 2008

The art of kvetching using cliches and over used phrases

Okay, I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me or anything, but Blogger is driving me up the wall lately. (For my parents readers who might not know, Blogger is the "publishing system" that makes Everyone Is Doin' It work.)

Let me first say that Blogger is FREE. And that’s a bonus. And I shouldn’t be kvetching. However, when free things break, well sometimes the only satisfying thing to do is kvetch.

First, it was a the spell-checker that went down the toilet (although that has finally been fixed). Next, out of the blue, the “Recent Comments” and "Recent Posts" widget "breaked" (as Zander would say).

And the icing on the cake is that apparently, my peeps have been commenting, but the comments have been disappearing into cyberspace. What's an amateur blogger to do? Bury her head in the sand?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What do a colander, a camera case, an armband, and a robotic floor robot have in common?

Give up? They are the long-awaited (actually less than two weeks) contents of our 1st Woot Bag of Crap, mentioned here.

#1: The Smart Fold Colander. Not a bad idea and, besides, who can't use a 4th colander?


#2: Bijou Deluxe Camera Case from Targus. At the very least this sounds impressive.

#3: Nike Sport Armband for iPod Nano. Actually, Brad has a Nano and can probably use this. But, are you sitting down? We got a whole box of these – 10 to be exact. So, if you need one, just let me know and I’ll pop it in the mail to you.

#4. An iRobot Scooba Floor Washing Robot. We were really excited about this at first.

But, I started guessing something was up when I saw a bunch of the Scooba accessories in a somewhat beaten-up Hefty Ziploc bag. Who ships in a used plastic bag? Then, we came across the following well-written letter with the packaging:

Brad's tried all night to get the thing to work and no luck -- yet. (For the record, I blocked out the original purchaser's name in the photo above although the letter itself DID have his full name, as well as a snail-mail and an e-mail address.)

So basically, we got a bunch of crap in our bag of crap -- just like the woot staff promises.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What A PMS Meal Looks Like at Our House

And it was darn yummy -- so there!

Note: Chocolate marshmallow dessert not shown.

Zoo Party: Party IV

Just kidding! Man, I crack myself up.

Don't get it? See Part I, Part II, and Part III.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Zoo Party: Party III or The Aftermath

The aftermath of the "Zoo Party" fall mentioned here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Zoo Party: Part II

Z was so excited about the binoculars that came in the goody bag (at a National Zoo birthday party he attended, mentioned in this post) that he was running around looking through them non-stop. As he ran out of the party room I remember saying, “Walking feet please!” [Read: the story you are about to hear is not Jill's fault. Not Jill's fault. Not Jill's fault.] Next thing I know he is lying prone on the bricks, the binoculars are strewn a few feet ahead of him, and his mouth is open but no sound is coming out. Uh oh.

He stands up and I see the blood, but I’m not 100% sure where it’s coming from. Lips? Nose? Tongue? Missing teeth? Hands? All of the above?

About four or five other sets of parents stop to make sure everything is okay. Meanwhile, I’m trying to remain calm and find something to stop the bleeding, which is dripping down his face onto his jacket, etc. One of the other parents gives me a travel-sized pack of tissues. But, by this time Z is crying pretty hard and I can’t find a way to open them. Another parent gives me a whole stack of open tissues and I start blotting at Z’s face trying to see where the blood is coming from. Yet another parent hands me about four fabric diaper/wipe thingys and says, “Here . Use these. This is our last child. You can keep them.” Two folks suggested that I find the first aid center.

Long story short (or is it too late for that already?) all body parts were intact. It was just a fair amount of blood from a few different places in his mouth and on his lip so it only looked bad. We headed home soon after without having to go to first aid. On our short walk to the car Z said, “I never, ever want to go to this zoo again!” I asked why and he said, “Because the hills are TOO steep.”

Once we got home, he wanted only to go right to bed (for nap) because he said sleeping always makes him feel better. No books, no songs, just bed. Below are before and after pictures. The first photo is right after we arrived at the party. The second and third photos are after he was somewhat cleaned-up in the car on the way home.

Zoo Party: Part I

We went to our first birthday party held at the National Zoo this morning. Zander was really excited about it, as was I, since the party was celebrating the 4th birthday of the son of a friend whom I knew in a younger, single life and we don’t get to see each other nearly enough these days.

As preschool birthday parties go, this one was about as good as it can get. The party was held from 10:00am-12:00pm, when most preschoolers are awake, but not yet tired and cranky. The zoo was almost empty, probably since the weather was less than ideal. However, the no one told the animals that and they were in top form. (More on that shortly.)

In addition, my friend told me that the zoo staff does most of the work for these parties. When we arrived, tables were set up with animal-themed decorations, each child had a place mat and crayons with which to color, some goldfish crackers, a juice box, and his or her own safari hat.

After about twenty minutes, one of the safari guides (zoo staff), asked some name-that-animal-type questions and then took us on a tour to see the lions, tigers, and The Great Ape House. Even our safari guide was surprised to see the male lion so alert and close-up. (I’ve been to this zoo probably twenty or so times and I’ve never been this close to the lion.)

The primates in The Great Ape House were also in rare form -- jumping, climbing, and chewing on things. The children loved it.

Next, we headed back to the private party room where the children were served wraps, fruit, vegetables, and the requisite ice cream and cake.

Finally, zoo staff handed out goody bags for each child, complete with binoculars, animal crackers, a packet of wildflower seedlings, and a pot to plant them in. A great morning all in all.

The party was over, but our excitement did not end there. Continued…

Friday, February 22, 2008

Note to self...

(or note to internet, whichever it may be)...

Don't take male child clutching naked female doll of different race into major retail store unless comfortable with strange looks.

In a nutshell:

- Zander's teacher let him take this baby doll, named Clara, home for the evening.

- We were having another family movie night and another sushi dinner to celebrate the passing of the lunar eclipse and Brad's new job. (Same company, different position.) Z and I stopped by Blockbuster video in a search of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning (and hopefully benign) Pooh's Heffalump Movie. (More on the 'film' another day).

- Z insisted on bringing Clara into Blockbuster. I was hesitant only because she doesn't belong to us and I would feel dreadful if we lost her, but allowed it since he seemed sweetly attached to her.

- We got some mighty strange looks. Could have been because -- at the time -- Clara was not clothed. Not sure. Don't care. Quite enjoyed it in fact.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Lunar Eclipse and A Sleepy Boy

Hope you're sitting down, because here's a GREAT photo of last night’s lunar eclipse, as viewed from our front yard:


National Geographic photography staff here I come! (It was actually pretty spectacular in real life, but our little digital camera couldn't capture it.)

There was much talk of the lunar eclipse at Zander’s school yesterday and he asked that we wake him “if the moon changes.” (He also kept asking if we would hold him close when the eclipse made a big noise -- no matter how many times we told him it wouldn’t make any noise.)

Regardless, for the 2nd night in a row he chose to sleep in only pull-ups. That is, no pajamas. Not sure why, but it’s his choice and we figure he’ll learn quickly enough if his little bum gets cold. Of course, we hadn't anticipated taking him outside after 10:00pm.

So here is the poor kid, very sleepy and equally as cold, after we woke him up to show him the eclipse. After about 30 seconds or so he said he wanted to go back to bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When Well-Intentioned Bloggers 'Mis-Remember' Things

Apparently, I mis-remembered the whole in-the-store-card-swapping thing I mentioned on Valentine's Day. Apparently, it wasn't my parents who do that -- it might have been some friends of theirs, but it wasn't them. Apparently, I'll be talking about this for a few years in therapy. ;)

My mom did gently point out that she usually hand makes her cards. I must admit, they're pretty incredible. I've scanned a few below, but the scans do not do them justice. They are multidimensional and usually employ a variety of textures.

This "Happy Birthday" one has feathers:


This "Missing You" one has cork:



This "Happy Anniversary" one has a bow and a buttons:


And, finally, this "Happy Birthday" one has six or seven layers all together:



Mom said I didn't *need* to post a retraction, but then mumbled something about grandchildren being cut off, so I decided I better go ahead with it. Kidding. Kidding.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Facebook, Adulthood, and My Growing Maturity

At the risk of sounding like a geek or an old person trying to be cool, Facebook ROCKS! Despite what I said in this post, I'm starting to see what all the fuss is about regarding social networking sites.

Within the last month alone, I've heard from my "little sister" in the sorority I was in during my undergraduate years (yes, yes, I was in a sorority), a friend from high school who lived around the block from me, and an old boyfriend. (Actually, the old boyfriend thing was from LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a "business-oriented" social networking site for grown-ups.)

Too cool.

Don't get me wrong -- as I say all too frequently -- you couldn't pay me to do high school over again. Although I appeared pretty normal on the outside (or so I thought), adolescence was hard. The awkwardness, the angst, the body image issues, pretty much everything about it was hard for me.

But, now that I am so mature, I get to do fun things like this:

Went to a friend's house yesterday and while she was upstairs trying to get her four-month-old to nap, I would write things on their dry erase calendar (on the refrigerator in the kitchen) such as, "Kinky Sex Party" and "Advanced Kinky Sex Party."

It's great to be an adult.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Our first Bandolier of Carrots!

During yesterday's woot-off, we got our first B.O.C.! What is a "Bandolier of Carrots" you ask? It's a bag of crap. Really. At the end of every woot-off, a bag of crap -- really a blind grab bag of sorts -- is offered for $1.00 plus shipping. It might be junk -- but it also might contain some really cool stuff such as, um, I'm not sure, but it might be really cool. I'll let you know when we get it.

As you can read about here, the woot software filters out phrases so instead of "Bag of Crap" showing up all the time, the text shows up as something with the same initials -- like "Bandolier of Carrots." Another example is "Where's the Feet," which actually means "What the F*@!." (It took me a few weeks to figure that one out.)

Let me tell you, when we knew for sure that we had successfully gotten the B.O.C., it qualified as one of the most exciting Friday nights in a long time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Abe Lincoln Logs and Racing Presidents

I know I should stop telling stories from our recent vacation, but I just can't...

The first few days in Colorado were spent at the home of my older brother and his family. Z kept busy playing with his cousin's toys (see O.P.T. post), which included a set of Lincoln Logs.

To be honest (ha ha), I didn't quite catch all of what he what he said, but as he was playing with the Lincoln Logs, Zander mumbled something about "making a house for Abe Lincoln."

How does a three-year-old know anything about dead presidents? Well, we make a point of testing him with flashcards on all the presidents, as well as the 50 states and their capitols, every night.

I'm kidding, of course. He knows all about Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson because each participates in the famous President's Race during Washington Nationals Baseball games.

The first time Zander saw the President's Race (complete with giant caricature heads), he was so scared that he jumped right onto Brad's lap. Unfortunately for both Brad and Zander, there was also a pizza there at the time.

A game or two later though, the Presidents Race became Z's favorite part of the game. At one game, they handed out free promotional postcards and Z would plead for us to ask him questions about each until he guessed which card we were holding. (Sidenote: This was interesting at the time, but has become a wee bit annoying now since he wants us to do the same kind of 'testing' with the little cards that come with each Thomas the train engine. And as I have mentioned, he has a lot of those.)

Regardless, here are the presidents racing on YouTube. (This was the clearest video I could find.)

Family Traditions

Yesterday was Valentine's Day as everyone within earshot or eyeshot of retail America knows. I'm not a huge fan (other than of the yummy marshmallow hearts) since it falls into one of those "greeting card" holidays according to my parents. (Keep in mind that these are the folks who go to the store, pick out and exchange cards, and then put them back on the shelf.) They have, after all, been married more than 40 years.

We did what we always do to celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weekdays, and nice weather -- we ate sushi for dinner. I'd have it no other way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Things I *need* from the Sky Mall catalogue

In the seat pocket in front of you on almost every flight -- in addition to the emergency card -- you'll likely find a SkyMall catalogue. I am always amazed at some of the items in Sky Mall (again, I'm easily amused). Below are my favorites from the Early Spring 2008 issue.

The Classic Ball-Shooting "Burp" Gun ($19.95) or The Marshmallow Shooter ($24.95): Either of these seem to be an ideal birthday gift for Z's 4th (in June). Maybe I'll buy a few and give them to his friends as well so they can play together. Even better, maybe we can get them in bulk and donate them to his chool! (I'm obviously kidding here, as Zander's school is one of the warmest, most non-violent, nurturing places possible.)

The NeckPro Traction Device ($54.95): I just think this would be a real turn-on if Brad came home from work one day and there I was...waiting for him in my traction device.

The Remote Controlled Beverage Buggy: Doesn't everyone need one of these? Think it could go down stairs?

The World's Smallest Indoor Remote-Control Helicopter ($79.95) or The Micro-Fly Helicopter ($99) or The Four Channel Military Helicopter ($139.99) or The Hopper Fly ($79.99): Seems helicopters must be "in" these days, since there were at least four in this issue of Sky Mall. Also seems that we got a real bargain when we bought the world's other smallest remote-control helicopter from Woot about six months ago (2 for $19.99).

I just love shopping.

O.P.T. (pronounced oh-pee-tee)

O.P.T. (pronounced oh-pee-tee): "Other People's Toys."

To the best of knowledge, this term was coined by Brad's oldest sister, Jenna (mentioned in this post). It's the phenomenon whereby children could play for hours at someone else's house just because the toys are not their own.

For example, the O.P.T phenomenon was in full force during our recent trip. Zander was in hog heaven at my brother and sister-in-law's home in Colorado, where we stayed for a few days before heading up to the mountains to ski. There were all sorts of 'big-boy' toys there that he had never seen before -- like Transformers and Power Rangers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ode to Cousins

As I mentioned briefly in this post, Zander spent much of our recent vacation in awe of his older cousins, Ben (6) and Nathan (8). The first part of this clip is Nathan showing Zander how to play baseball and the rest is pretty much an "Ode to Ben:"

video

And here's a photo of Ben holding Zander close (at Z's request), during a scary part of his cousin's Little Einsteins DVD. (Yes, I said the Little Einsteins. Don't ask me.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our Little Skier

On the magic carpet:


Snowploughing, aka "the pizza wedge:"

Zander's first foray into snow skiing went relatively well (as mentioned here and here). He ended up taking one private lesson and two full-day lessons. Each day he said he wanted to go on the "grown-up" mountain with mom and dad. The first time he asked, Brad walked him up the hill about ten feet and skiied down with him. Z didn't buy it and kept right on asking.

So, our last day on the slopes, Brad bought a special kind of harness and we headed up the gondola to the top of the mountain. Um, for the record, what were we thinking? Another brilliant parenting move on our part.

The harness proved challenging and Z kept falling. We ended up taking turns skiing down the mountain while carrying him in our arms. Yes, it was as difficult as it sounds. One of us would hold Z's skis and the other person's poles, while the other would lift up Zander and carefully snowplough downhill. Lesson learned -> the hard way.

The good news is that Zander loved it the whole time and told everyone and anyone that he came in contact with that he had skiied down the "GIANT GROWN-UP MOUNTAIN!" Brad and/or I would simultaneously mouth "NEVER AGAIN."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We’re home after a long, but surprisingly smooth day of travel with a 3.5 year old. Seems the child loves anything and everything that moves, so having to go in a rental car, on an underground train (at the Denver Int'l Airport), a jet plane, a "mobile lounge" (at Washington/Dulles Int'l Airport), and finally a van ride to our parked car was excitement enough. If I had a nickel for every time this exchange took place…

Zander: “LOOK MOM! ANOTHER LUGGAGE CART!”
Me:Wow sweetie. Inside voice please.”

Regardless, both Brad and I agree that this was truly one of the best family trips we have had to date. This was due, in part, to the quality time we had with my brother’s family, which includes two boys, ages six and eight. Z was absolutely enamored of them and it was special to watch their bond grow.

In addition, we are all pretty much in one piece, other than a few pounds heavier and a compressed nerve in my toe, possibly due to too tight ski boots. This was diagnosed by my pulmonologist dad though, so we can’t be 100% sure. ;)

P.S. Let me just add that the very same dad (in his late sixties), went skiing with us four out of five days!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spectacular

Yesterday was a spectacular day on the slopes.

We dropped Z off at ski school before 9:00am. He started to cry at first, but thanks to a quick-thinking staff person who whisked him away, the crying did not last long. The class was scheduled to go until 3:30pm, but we had anticipated picking Zander up after lunch and then taking him back to the condo for his usual 1:00-ish nap.

We checked in on him before noon and his instructor said he was having a blast – even said something about Z urging everyone to eat fast so they could get back to the magic carpet.

So, we decided to let him stay.

We checked back around 2:00pm and he was still going strong, so Brad and I went for another NASTAR run. And, oops, I beat him again, but I’m not going to rub it in. (As if posting to a public blog is not rubbing it in.) I even won a gold medal for my age group. Sure I might have been the only entrant in my age group, but does that really matter? A gold is a gold.

Regardless, we finally showed up to pick Zander up around 3:00pm and got to watch him ski a bit before he saw us. It was pretty amazing. Sure it wasn’t even a bunny hill – but there he was – our guy who always says it’s too cold or too hot or too hard or too easy – there he was skiing!

Of course, shortly after we picked him up he melted down because he wanted to go on a bigger hill and ski with us. Then he couldn’t walk in his ski boots and couldn’t carry his skis and was too cold and too tired. So, Brad carried my skis and poles, I carried Zander and his skis.

No matter. On the shuttle bus back he asked if he would be going to ski school tomorrow and I said, “That depends. Do you want to?” He said, “Yes.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Vacation: Baby Fart

(Posted as part of the "ski vacation 2008" series, mentioned here.)

This is an oldy and it's not very sharp, but still funny (or maybe I am just easily amused).

No doubt with all the recent penis, poop, and now fart posts, this blog has earned a PG-rating.


Results

While I'm clarifying things, let me report today's NASTAR race results (in seconds):

Brad: 27.2o
Jill: 25.91

I'd say that you can go to the NASTAR site and search under our last names for proof, but Brad 'accidentally' misspelled his and, as a result, his results cannot easily be found.

The truth is that Brad is a much faster skier than I am, but for some reason, I can often beat him on this short, gated course. I'll take what I can get.

In other news, Z successfully took his first ski lesson this morning. It was a private lesson (thanks to our patrons, Grandma Susan and Grandpa Mickey) with his six-year-old cousin Ben. Together they walked off with their instructor, Colleen, and didn't look back. We think the success (as opposed to what happened with gymnastics) was due to a number of a factors, including the warm instructor and being with his older cousin.

We're getting cocky now though, because tomorrow we are considering trying the ski school itself, instead of a private lesson.

Clarification

Let me just note that the "penis" post was posted by Brad -- not me! Personally, I didn't think the whole conversation was that impressive, but you know how guys can be about their...

Just wanted to clarify.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Penis (context is key)

Zander has recently discovered hot tubs. The first time was a 'family' jacuzzi at this wonderful rec center in Broomfield, Colorado. The second was an adult one at the condo where we are staying. The latter was adult temperature and I explained that it may take awhile to adjust to the temperature. As Zander began lowering himself further into the water the following took place.

Zander [grinning]: "My penis is good!"
Daddy: "It is?"
Zander: "My penis loves hot."

That exchange anywhere other than a hot tub could be entirely different...

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Wave of The Future?

The conference that my organization hosted last week was held at the National Press Club. My office has many of it's events there so I'm pretty familiar with the place. (So familiar, in fact, that when Z was a wee lad, I took my handy-dandy Pump N'Style into what was supposed to be an empty meeting room or two -- much to the surprise of the press club AV staff. But that's a story for another day.)

The club has recently been upgraded and each bathroom now has these cool Dyson Air Blades. Dyson bills it as "the fasted, most hygenic hand dryer" there is.

I had to just stand there and try it a few times, because they look so funky. (Needless to say, the women waiting behind me weren't so thrilled.) It's really loud, quite powerful, and you know what? It actually works -- as opposed to these kind of hand dryers, where the instructions should read:

1) Push button.

2) Rub hands back and forth under dryer.

3) Wipe hands on pants.

I did not make that up, but I'm not sure where it came from.

Regardless, I actually found this demonstration video (on YouTube) of the Airblade in use at the National Press Club! That internet thing...it rocks.

Vacation: Lion Hugs

(Posted as part of the "ski vacation 2008" series, mentioned here.)

Um, wow.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Vacation: Who Gets to Eat the Puppy?

(Posted as part of the "ski vacation 2008" series, mentioned here.)


I hadn't seen this before and it's a little -- okay, a lot -- outdated, but still cute.

Mostly, I just like looking at the dachshund in the background because it makes me think of Samson, our own beloved long-haired weiner dog who died a year or two ago. Alas, he lives on at Samson's Internet Doghouse, thanks to my old friend Mark S. (See this early photo of Samson in his yarmulke for proof that maybe I should have thought long and hard about reproducing in the first place.)

Credit where credit is due for the photo above: http://eatliver.com/i.php?n=2351

Friday, February 1, 2008

Vacation: Tired Baby Loves Cake

(Posted as part of the "ski vacation 2008" series, mentioned here.)

I don't know this baby, but the video still makes me laugh. There is definitely something about cake that makes most children go to any lengths to consume it!

Yes, yes, you might have to question the adults that are sitting idly by laughing at -- and videotaping -- the poor little guy, but that's another matter which is certainly not for me to judge. After all, we're the proud parents who came up with this, not to mention pot smoking loveys.